24 May

Living a Life, Leaving a Legacy

Grandmas bible

As I stare at the stained glass window and let the pastor’s words,wash over me. I begin to think of her.

I can hear her voice. I can see he face as she sings hymns of praise. I remember her Bible on the table next to her chair in the living room.

Time, age and,illness have robbed of us of who she is. Her shirt stained with today’s meal, her grunts and vocalizations instead of words, her ability to sleep and eat at the same time…these were the things of everyday life, now, with my grandmother.

But as I sat in that church and listened to her favorite scriptures, her most loved hymns, of her life, her marriage,and her faith…I began to remember my grandmother – virtuous woman of God.

And as so often happens when we ponder someone’s death I began to think of my own, someday. What will my children remember of their momma and their childhood? Will how I loved and served my husband be a story written of Jesus and my love for Him? Will my life of faith offer comfort to my family at my death?

My grandmother gave us a gift, perhaps not even intentionally, to help us celebrate her life, her faith, her love for Jesus and the Bible.

On the inside cover of her Bible she wrote a list of Scriptures that touched her life and heart, of hymns that moved her heart to praise. It was with this list that her funeral was planned…a glimpse of Jesus in her life.

And as if writing a love note to her broken-hearted family, the page starts out…

“Have no anxiety about…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And ends with…

Do not let your hearts be troubled. John 14:1

And as I think about my grandma dressed in robes of righteousness, face-to-face with her Jesus, I’m not anxious or sad or troubled. I’m moved to joyful tears. For she is where she was made to be…where her heart always looked towards…

So, my friends today I urge to keep your eyes on Jesus. When the work hours are long, when the kids are bickering, when you are stuck in traffic or in life. Just lean into your Savior, following Him. For each moment writes the story of your life…you are living a life and leaving a legacy…for yourself and for Jesus.

21 Feb

When We Demand the Answers

answers

I don’t give her the answers. There is nothing new about that. Her job is to do the work, my job is to help her get to the answer and correct her work when she is done.

Yet she sits across the room clutching her pencil, scowling at her math workbook. Salty trails of disappointment stain her face.

I almost give in…just give her the answers….calm her down, hold her close, protect her from disappointment and discouragement. But I don’t.

I know she can do this. This will stretch her, grow her, make her wiser, smarter.

We do this too, you know. We demand answers from God. Our hearts writhing in self-inflicted anguish as we pray over and over for answers….

…because we want them.

…because this is too hard.

…because I don’t want to do this, God, and maybe You will do it or take it away.

…because I can’t do this, and You must have the wrong woman.

…because I need a clear sign, not this feeling or peace, but a clear sign the undeniable answer from you.

And there we sit clutching life, scowling at the world…waiting for God to rescue us or relieve us or to change His mind.

Not to say that sometimes God doesn’t give us clear answers when we ask, but, at least in my life, more times than not there’s no clear answer. God wants me to grow into the answer…move and seek Him…the journey is the answer…the thing of faith stretching…growing more like Christ.

Isabel went on to finish her math work. Teary eyed and angry she trudged her way to perfect pages…not one mistake or wrong answer. I knew she knew it. I knew she could do it. And in the end, I hated that she tortured herself (and the rest of us) on her way there.

I know I do this. I pout and carry on and ask God over and over. Does He shake His head, waiting for me to move…to get it…to grow? How many times have I missed the joy in the journey, the heavenly kisses and divine appointments along the way because I am busy being angry?

Oh, yes, it is easy to miss the things of God. When we are “me-centered” and finite. When look through our clouded, childish earthly eyes. But when we search for holy…when we hit our knees and seek to see things through Him, from Him, for Him. When we know that whatever the problem, Jesus is the answer….faith in Him, love for Him and from Him, trust in Him…just Him.

 

07 Feb

Grace is the Space Where God Whispers

grace is the space

 His face contorted. His breath came in gasps. Tears poured from his baby blues.

“I don’t want to.”

This was the moment. The moment to take a stand. Not for the room that wasn’t clean. Not for the lie that claimed it was. This moment was about so much more.

Face to face with my crying son. Face to face with the want to deny our sins. To give these moments euphemisms. To gloss over our wrongs. Is to gloss over separation from God and the mercy of the cross…of forgiveness. Of redemption.

Such deep lessons he’ll learn later in life. He won’t grasp those now. And I won’t try to force them in.

No tonight is about honesty. Recognizing that we sin. That our actions hurt others. That if we aren’t honest in our repentance, it isn’t repentance.

Finally, through tears and sobs. The words came, “I lied.”

This wasn’t new information to me. Much like our sin isn’t new to God. He knows. He sees it before it comes. He sees it when we hide it behind “I forgot” “You know” “I don’t want to”.

He sees.

He knows.

He waits.

Oh and when it comes. When we open our mouth and confess the things that have separated us from God. The things that have made us less than the children He calls us to be.

The relief.

The forgiveness.

The warmth of mercy and grace descend. Like a hug from a mama just waiting for the moment to comfort and reassure. God whispers in that moment.

You are mine. And nothing, even these moments of dishonesty, can separate you from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And as he buries his face in my neck, his sobs calm, his tears slow. He melts into my arms. Settles into forgiveness and the enveloping relief.

His lips pressed against my chin he whispers, “I’m sorry.” Barely audible….his heart to mine. I whisper a kiss, “I forgive you.”

He pushes closer and I feel him sigh. Closer. Looking for that bond, the touch that says…you are mine…this hasn’t separated us.

And like so often happens in these everyday moments of motherhood, I feel closer to God. I understand our a connection…His and mine. I know the relief of grace, of forgiveness, of a bond that won’t be broken by my sin or my want to sweep it under the rug.

Settled into His arms I relax. I smile. For grace is the space where God whispers, “I forgive you.”

03 Feb

Running Ahead

Running Ahead of God

The words were like a starter’s pistol to my mind.

I hadn’t even fully listened to her sentence and was already picturing the what ifs, what would need to be done, the hows.

And as I raced ahead planning, plotting and taking care I didn’t look back…or look up.

As if God caught me by the back of the shirt I slammed to a halt. A whisper way down deep hit hard and carried a truth I needed (that I often run off without).

Let Me work.

I am a caregiver by nature and a take charge kinda gal. When I see a plan unfolding it is hard for me to not just grab the pieces, throw it together and make it work. Often making things harder than they need to be as I try to keep everyone happy, make sure no one is uncomfortable , and stay on top of all the pieces and emotions.

Um, have I mentioned I do this a lot. It isn’t always starting to execute plans. Sometimes I over-think things or get caught up in the possible emotions. In my mind I race on without hitting my knees or bowing my head.

And off we go. No looking up at God or back at where we are. We’re off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week I took my children on a walk down a gravel road near our house. For them this was new territory. What (to little legs and eyes) felt like miles of road and fields spread out around us. They saw the road, they made the plan….they were off.

Running as fast as their little legs could carry them they tore down the road. Shrieking, laughing and calling out observations along the way. It wasn’t until they were at the crest of a hill that they looked back to see where I was.

Way back. Where they had left me standing.

Waving.

Waiting.

Huffing and puffing. Grumbling and dragging their feet they returned to me. Questioning. Confused. Why was I standing here? Why did I make them come back?

I calmly explained that as they took off I was trying to show them the rabbit on the top of the hill and the hawk on the tree. Something amazing was unfolding over this way. I pointed toward where nature’s drama unfolded.

“Where’d they go?” was the disappointed cry.

“You missed it,” I said, “that’s why I ask you to listen…there are things I want to show you and when you run off and run ahead. You miss it.”

And there as I taught my children a lesson underlined by gravel roads and open fields, I got it.

That understanding. That piece of the puzzle God’s been trying to give me…if I would just stand still…quit running off.

In this moment I was aware that this was not my plan. This was not my burden. These were not my shots to call, not feelings for me to guard, this wasn’t about me or making people happy. This was about God. And God’s plan.

We do that you know. We run ahead of God. We see the road and we take off.  Maybe because of fears and failures…perhaps we are running from something? Or plans and burdens…perhaps we are trying to run towards a goal? Or maybe competition or history makes us run…perhaps we are trying to outrun someone or something?

And off we go. No looking up at God or back at where we are. We’re off.

But, when we wait on God to do His work. He gives us our job…He shows us the amazing things around us that we miss as we charge through life. And if we run past Him. Charge on without Him. We find ourselves at the top of hills or under messes out of breath, tired, overwhelmed and a long way off for where He intended. We end of up missing the things He set out to show us or taking on more than He ever intended.

Perhaps we need to learn to let God be God.

Let God handle situations…I’ll meet them with prayer and waiting in faith.

Let God direct our steps…I’ll listen and follow rather than charge ahead.

Let God do the heavy lifting….I’ll take on His yoke that is light and  look up at Him before I take off.

 

 

01 Feb

Not Sure I Want to Know the Answer

path

The second the words were out of my mouth I began to worry…perhaps even before I asked them.

What if they said tv? Food? Facebook?

I suppose, as long as I’m being honest, I have been worried about their answers for a while. The idea of asking these questions to my children came to me weeks ago. Afraid of what they would say. Afraid of what they wouldn’t say. I didn’t ask. I waited. I put it off.

But today as we drove back from the grocery store, windows open, music up…not a care in the world. The words just flew out of my mouth.

“What do you think I love most in the world?”

We all know that children are honest. Brutally honest, sometimes. And I was setting myself up for a big dose of humbling, but I wanted to know.

Simultaneously they answer. “God,” says our daughter. “Daddy,” says our son.

A relieved smile sprang to my face. True on both counts. “I love God the most,” I explained, “and in Him I get to love and be in love with your Daddy.”

“So,” I asked, “what do I love to do most?” I held my breath. Oh my, the myriad of things they could say.

“Worship God,” our daughter says. “Yep,” comes a quick second from her brother.

Exhale. “I want to be a woman who points others to God with my life and love,” I said, “so I think you are right!”

Turn the radio up and drive on. They are back to laughing and carrying on in the backseat.

And I whisper a small prayer, may it always be so, Father. May those words always label my life…by all who know me.

But as I drove on I realized, that there was a lesson to be learned here. Not only in their answers, but in the answers I feared.

TV.

Food.

Facebook.

In a moment where I feared total honesty from others I began to admit my own weaknesses, the places I stumble, fall or lose myself. And those are real threats to the woman my children see me as. They are real threats to the young woman she is becoming and the young man he will grow up to be. The woman I am growing to in Christ.

Will my children grow up learning you start your day with God’s word or the television on?

Will my children grow up seeing a mother who turns to food for comfort instead of God?

Will my children grow up believing life and truth are on Facebook?

If I worried they would see these things in me…then they are real and looming problems. (and my children see them…those little buggers don’t miss anything!)

Don’t get me wrong I’m not against TV, per se. More that it becomes a huge time waster, motivation sucker in my life.

I’m not against food (can’t even imagine a universe where that would possible), but I need food to be simply food  — something for nourishment (it can still be yummy and fun to cook!).

And, I’m not against Facebook. But I know the time that I spend just putzing on there any given day…time when I could be playing board games, reading books, doing laundry, or so much more. (For the record, I’m also very aware of all the things I don’t need to see or want to be a part of on fb and have come to monitor who is allowed to put things in front of my eyes.)

Really, what I want is for my answers to those questions to be the same as what my children see. That I could say, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I know I love Jesus more than anything else in this world. Head held high I could say, I live a life that points to God and I love to do anything that accomplishes that. I pray for the grace and strength to work towards those answers….

What about you? If we asked others in your life what would their answers be? How is your life labeled by others?

19 Jan

Yes, It’s True God Doesn’t Need Me…

I lean against the washing machine and watch them work. Full of giggles and energy they unload the dryer. Clothes flying every where…some even make it into the basket.

Such joy.

When the dryer is empty they turn to me with faces full of expectation and delight. “Let’s put the clothes in the dryer now, mom!”

And in the space smaller than an arms reach we start an assembly line. Out of the washer into her hands, dropped, juggled, bumbled into his little hands and shoved into the dryer. Emptying the washing machine takes three times longer than normal and more clothes hit the floor than the dryer on the first few passes.

But the giggles of delight fill the cold grey basement laundry room.

Little hands. Dryer sheets. Banging of doors. Turning of knobs.

And with great glee they begin to throw the dirty clothes in the washing machine. With the energy and excitement of an at-the-buzzer shot from downtown they toss clothes skyward. Most miss. Some go behind the machine, some bang the lid closed. But they retrieve their own rebounds and try again. Never losing heart or missing a chuckle in their efforts.

Finally the basket is emptied. Our job complete.

As we march out into the basement cheers and high fives are traded. “Oh work is so much easier when we work as a team. Isn’t it mom?” My six-year-old squeals. I nod and smile. Inside, I almost laugh…I’m not sure it is easier when your help adds 12 more steps and 4 more hands to a simple task…but I’d never tell them that.

And as I left them in the basement discussing teamwork and how much fun laundry is, I remembered the story Pastor Mark Driscoll shares in one of his sermons. It is about going to work with his dad (who is in the construction business) as a small boy. How he was their to help his dad, and really his dad could have done it all without him. Easier. Faster. But the point was that his dad wanted to work with him….share with him. What a great illustration Driscoll gives of God’s work with us.

There my friends, is the truth of God. God could do all that He does without us. Faster. Easier. Better. Cleaner. But God chooses to do His work through us and with us.

And I chuckle imagining God shaking His head at me. As I bumble and fumble through the tasks He’s trusted me with — like homeschooling and parenting. How often I make things so much more complicated than they need to be or completely do them wrong.

How often does God set someone in my path to love. To offer grace. Only I miss the chance, so busy making it my own game or my plan. Waiting for them to soothe my bruised ego, rather than just reaching out and offering Christ to them.

Yes, it is true God doesn’t need me to save soul, care for the earth or advance His kingdom. But I tell you what, as I sit back and think of the fact that He wants to work with me I become giddy. There is much whooping and hollering and high fiving (if only in my head) at the thought of working on a team with my Heavenly Daddy.

So, today, walk through your day looking at all the things you get to do with God. See Him hand you grace. Faith. Hope. Patience. Joy. Love. Take it and get ready to pass it along to His other children waiting to receive it. And if you miss it…if you drop it…that’s okay. Pick it up. Smile up at your Daddy and try again.

Funny how many lessons God teaches me in the laundry room….

13 Jan

Daddy is My Hero

daddy is my hero

 

Stooped down. Flashlight pointed towards the carpet. Hands sweeping back and forth. Like finding a needle in the haystack his search seemed hopeless.
Yet, he did not give up. Different flashlight. Up and down the same hallway, over the cream-colored carpet.

 

In a matter of minutes after our daughter lost her first tooth she lost it again. This time it was dropped somewhere between the living room and her bedroom.
Tears threatened to spill from her big blue eyes. And that spurred her daddy on.
And as I watched that man of mine search over the same sections carpet, over and over. I was struck by a parallel between this earthly daddy and the one that sits on the heavenly throne.
Our God loves us so much that He goes to great lengths to love on us. Nothing short of conquering death. Giving up His own Son. And creating a world full of beauty, challenge, and breath-taking scenery. God’s love is big.
And God’s love is small. It is so often in the details of life. A letter written with care to touch birthmother’s heart. A “random” encounter with a woman at the airport that brings happy memories and divine comfort. A little boy saying “I love you mom” when your day isn’t going right. A beautiful sunrise painted across a frost covered landscape. Rain on a parched earth. Storybook snowflakes falling slowly on a hushed afternoon.
Oh, yes, our HUGE God is a God of details. A God in and of all things. A God of love.
I was thinking, last night, about how as I lay my head down to sleep God was not resting or putting up his tools for the day. His love rolls on — miracles in the dark of night, sunrises to paint on the other side of the world, babies to be born from delivery rooms to dirt floor huts. His love is exhaustive. All covering. All consuming.
And then there is the daddy in the hallway. The children have abandoned the search. He has switched flashlights, again. And still he searches on. Searches for a tiny little tooth in a sea of same-colored carpet. No words. No frustration at an evening surrendered to an unexpected search and rescue operation. Just searching. Just love.
This morning as I opened my eyes the first sight to greet me was bare trees across our back hill lit by a sunrise full of reds, pinks, purples and blues. Breath taking. I just laid there staring. When I shut my eyes I could still see the sight, so beautiful it was. The world turned through the night, but God never stopped working. Never slowed down His love. Like a kiss from the King of Kings the sunrise met me with such awe-inspiring wonder. For you, my love, good morning.
Relentless Love. That pursues you into the darkest places. Kisses you sweetly in the morning. Refuses to give up on you, even when you’ve given up. A father’s love for His child.
Walk through your day today looking for the love of your Heavenly Father. Smile and receive the Divine kisses from the King.
After nearly an hour of searching, the hallway upstairs filled with delighted squeals and victorious shouts. The tooth had been located. A daddy’s love and devotion had saved the day. What was important to her drove him to do all he could for her…to find a needle in cream-colored carpet haystack. And his little girl declared, “Daddy is my hero.”
Today, look for the love your heavenly Father is showering down around you. From the big moments of saving grace and life to the little details of songbirds and the smell of fresh-baked bread. Draw every breath aware of the Daddy that works all things for your good. And when you lay your head down tonight declare, “My Daddy is my hero.”

 

02 Jan

To Live a Life of Construction Paper Glory

Jesus birthday card

There it lay on the living room chair. Bright orange construction paper glowing in the Christmas afternoon sun.

A birthday card constructed by little hands with the brand new card making set. The first card she would make. Her first fruit offering.

“I love you Jesus” written with care across a birthday cake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I imagined Jesus receiving the gift. That when her heart moved toward Him and began to cut and glue….His heart swelled for her.

The new year is upon us. A blank canvas of prayers, teaching, plans and love hangs just on the other side of tomorrow. And during these days of resolutions and themes, I begin to ponder what a fresh page on the calendar will bring for me.

A bright orange birthday flashes across my memory. The glory brought to God by a simple act of worship left for Jesus (and mothers trying to find the floor under Christmas morning chaos) to find. I can’t stop thinking about that card.

It goes on…

“Dear Lord thank you for sending your son. Jesus to die on the cross.”

 

 

 

 

 

“and thank you for Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not a resolutions kinda girl. Perhaps once I was, only to find that by the end of the first week they were amended and by the end of January they were forgotten.

And some are finding a theme, a verse, a word…a something to define their year with God. To grow into. To work on. To express their journey. I’ve never been good at finding just one word for anything (HA!), and the task seems more than my brain can fathom, let alone execute.

And yet…

I see orange construction paper.

As I ponder the faith of this child that stretches me…humbles me…inspires me….there is a whisper to my soul.

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Mark 10:15

I love listening to my children talk over the breakfast table. Usually, I am puttering in the kitchen while they eat breakfast. Some days their discussions are of plans for the day, dreams from last night or silly little games they love to make up. But often I listen as our daughter tells the gospel stories. Our son asks questions and listens intently. Sometimes even his imaginary friends ask questions and Isabel begins to share with them — even attempting to lead them to Jesus!

You see, Isabel is like those children mentioned in Mark 10 (the ones the disciples try to keep from running to Jesus). She runs toward Jesus with every breath she takes. Learning about Him, loving Him, and living for Him. And when you receive something and make it the center of your life you begin to live it, to breathe it, to give it away (even to your brother’s imaginary friends). And your heart beats for such love for your Savior, even construction paper projects become acts of worship and can change lives.

I’m going to put the card up in our house. A brightly colored reminder of how easy it is to worship Jesus. A reminder to live everyday looking for the chance to pour my offering out to Jesus — whether it is a song on my knees while I scrub floors, a blog post, a prayer offering in homeschool, an opportunity to serve another, or simply a daughter counting the gifts of grace all around her. So, in 2012, I want my life to be a big bright piece of construction paper glory for God. I want to live in a way that simply points to Jesus.

What about you? Do you make resolutions? Themes? What are you praying 2012 holds for you?

05 Dec

Expecting the good things of God

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I was saved in February. There were no Christmas decorations up. No carols played on the stereo. Just me in my little bedroom under the eves offering my life to a Savior, in return for love. Grace.

There I sat crying and waiting. The moment was glorious and humbling. Full of expectation. Full of hope.

As a new Christian I lived in full anticipation that everyday Jesus would show up and doing something amazing in my life.

Last weekend we lit the Hope candle on our advent wreath in our home. When asked what hope means our six-year-old replied, “expecting the good things of God”.

Aw. Yes. Hope. Expecting the good things of God.

As we watched the hope candle flicker and dance in front our Christmas tree I was transported back to that little room where I first breathed in Christ.

Waiting.

Hoping.

Expecting the good things of God.

From where I was sitting, over the top of the advent wreath I could see the December calendar. A month full of preparation and celebrations loomed just on the other side of this sacred moment. Christmas parties, baking, shopping, family celebrations, decoration, church celebrations, visiting, wrapping, cooking, stress and more.

Planning was beginning to throw a shadow over my hope.

I closed my eyes and tried to focus on Jesus.

Her sweet angelic voice broke through the silence. Her face lit by candlelight and the tree, her beauty never shone so brightly. My daughter was singing Christmas carols.

For those that don’t know my daughter, let me catch you up. Whew. That child. She’s full of life, and drama. She puts on concerts and tosses a hat on the floor in case anyone wants to get rid of their extra coins. Often her singing and acting are ways of searching for the spotlight, the center of attention.

But this moment was not about her. Or us.

It was about Jesus.

In the warm glow of that room, Jesus was all around us. We were wrapped in His love and peace. And I couldn’t help but think of the smile on His face, as He received Isabel’s tiny offering of worship. Her good thing for God.

That moment has lingered in my memory all week. I’ve worked to get back to that place. To find that feeling because that, my friends, is Christmas. That feeling of warmth and peace. Of hope. Of celebrating the good things of God. Christmas is a celebration of hope. A celebration of God born man to touch our lives. To transform our hearts. To fulfill the promises of God – to embody the good things of God.

Jesus is our Hope.

Right now there are sales everywhere. Decorations are filling up every mantle and store window. The bell ringers and carols fill the air. We are here. The season of Christmas is upon us. And it is so easy to get caught up the trappings of “celebrating” Christmas.

It is so easy to let planning, and pleasing others begin to overshadow the sacred moments. As we strive for the bigger, flashier, more memorable holiday we strive to create the magic and mystery that arrived in a stable so long ago.

We don’t have to recreate Jesus. He’s here.

Allowing the moments of Jesus to unfold this season will radically alter your family, you…even Christmas itself.

What if we lived every moment of the next few weeks in full anticipation that Jesus was going to show up and do something amazing. As though it isn’t amazing enough that God became man and chose us from manger to cross unto eternity.

Standing in full knowledge that Jesus chose you before He drew his first earthly breath, what could you receive as a gift this year? What can you anticipate this season?

Search out those grace filled moments this December. Linger there where the world falls away and the good things of God fill the air around you.

Listen to the children caroling. Teenagers laughing. Inhale deeply the smell of fresh-baked cookies and Christmas trees. Sit with your family and share memories, plans or Scripture. Sing. Dance. Wrap gifts. Serve others. Smile at the cashier who is dealing with the Christmas chaos all day long.

Accept every moment as a gift from Jesus. And offer your thanks back to Him…as your good thing for Him.

My prayer for all of us over the next few weeks is that we can wake every morning filled with childlike anticipation of Christmas celebrations. That we will launch into every day ready to unwrap the gifts Jesus chose for us. That we truly celebrate this season of Hope. The season of celebrating the good things of God.

10 Nov

Tell Them They Aren’t Enough

arent enough photo

I love my house. I dare say I’m content in my home. As long as its clean, as long as nothing’s broken and provided I haven’t visited a cleaner, nicer, more up to date house this week. I’m good. Most of the time.

I love my life. I’m content. As long as I don’t read the letters from 18-year-old me about where I’d be or what I dreamed of becoming. As long as I don’t dwell on yesterdays and should haves. I’m good. Most of the time.

I love myself. No really I do. As long as I don’t drop my towel in front of the mirror. As long as my jeans aren’t right from the dryer tight…I hate having to wiggle, dance and do deep knee bends just to get dressed! On the good hair, cute outfit, I’ve got it all together days I’m thrilled with me. The other 361 days a year I don’t think about it too hard. I’m good. Most of the time.

I don’t spend a lot of time telling God the things I need. Want. Except one thing. I tell Him that daily. I ask for that constantly. And yet….

In Philippians 4:11 Paul says, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” And I trip on those words. I stop to think, to mull them over and try to figure out how Paul learned that, what was the secret he speaks of (in verse 12) and why oh why can’t I find that.

With laptop open and Bible software cranking, I sit ready to discover the secret, to write a post deep with Biblical insight and incredible teaching.

Crickets.

With the whir of the air conditioner filling up the space around me,  I wait. I read. I wait some more. Surely there is a lesson in all of this that God is waiting to teach me. Something profound that I can share and breathe in and begin to apply.

Nothing.

In the space yet to be filled with inspiration and answers suddenly there are elbows and knees. A sea of blonde hair and blue eyes. Giggles and excited chatter.

And there in the adoration punctuated by dimples and fluttering eyelashes is a still small voice.

Tell them they aren’t enough. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In flash they are gone again, off to spread sunshine and remove every toy from every shelf. Unaware of the moment that just unfolded. Unaware that I can barely breathe for the humbling painful reality I just inhaled.

You see, I obsess about having more children. Maybe not outwardly, but in my own head and heart I wish. I beg. I pray. And I feel a massive loss every time I am confronted with the truth that I am the mother to only two children.

Let’s go back to Philippians for a moment,  “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (4:11-12)

I don’t know the secret that Paul had learned, and perhaps it is a secret on purpose. A beautiful mystery. Because it is something we have to come to in Christ on our own. No one can teach you contentment. Nope, that is something that has to be inhaled. Like the delicate aroma of a Savior.

And what is the secret for me? The one that God just whispered. Contentment isn’t about the things I don’t have. Or even about the things I do have, really. It is about looking, in the face, the blessings that God gives us and saying, you aren’t enough for me. Look at the sky, shake your fist and say, “You aren’t enough for me.”

Go ahead. Do it. Look at your husband who leaves his dirty clothes on the floor or might forget an anniversary. Look him  in the eye and say you aren’t good enough. Look your children in the face. Stare into their eyes and say you are just not enough for me. Go to work tomorrow and say to your boss, really, this job isn’t enough for me.

Did you do it?

No. Why?

Because we wouldn’t want to hurt people. We wouldn’t want to run people off. We wouldn’t want to risk loss. And yet, every day I look at things around me — bigger houses, nicer cars, more well-behaved children, a cuter outfit — and think what if, if only. I need that. As if I am shaking my fist at the sky I tell God it isn’t enough for me.

The truth is the love of Christ overwhelms me. To choose me unto death….no words.

The truth is I love our house, even if the paint is uneven and there seems to be dog hair everywhere. This is our home where laughter rings in the hallways, where truth is taught and love is lived!

The truth is I have never been more comfortable in the skin I am in. Though I’m overweight, I confident in my God-given gifts of encouragement and love. I have grown into the roles of wife, mother, daughter, friend, leader and more with an ease and a passion that can only come from God.

The truth is my arms (and heart) will always long for the babies I relinquished in adoption. And that the children we are blessed to parent fill my life with love, laughter, challenge, messes, crafts, games and God.

The truth is God made me to want more. More of Him. And by telling Him He is not enough for me or trying to fill up with other things I am denying the very thing He made me for. More of Christ.

So, my friends, today as the world entices with big, better, newer, flashier, more, more, more, I pray that you and I look to the sky with open arms and say, “He’s enough for me.”

20 Oct

Sorrow Will Meet Them….Here

sticky and kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Death rattles in the next room.

Our sweet little family pet is taking his last breaths.

In the morning little feet will pitter-patter down the stairs. Bright blue eyes will meet the morning with excitement and anticipation.

Death will meet them here tomorrow.

Blue eyes will well with tears and sorrow. I am already grieving for them, the loss of their first pet. The loss of our family’s court jester. The loss of their furry, wiggly love.

Sorrow will meet them here tomorrow.

It seems small this loss of pet, when….

Somewhere in the world a child goes to bed hungry for another night.

Somewhere is the world a soldier defends freedom and gives his life.

Somewhere in the world a military wife prays her son will meet his daddy.

Somewhere in the world a woman sells herself to feed her kids or spare her life.

Somewhere in the world a child hides in the dark, praying the fighting will stop soon.

Somewhere in the world a woman wonders where her husband is and who he is with.

Somewhere in the world a father wonders if there will be work tomorrow so he can provide again for his family.

Somewhere in the world a family gathers round a loved one waiting for death.

Somewhere in the world a young woman waits for the abortion clinic to open.

Somewhere in the world a child dies in her mother’s arms.

And yet, even as they cry and life morphs into a creature of sorrow. Of pain. Of loss. Of grief. Of despair. Of fear. Of uncertainty. Of death. There is a daddy who never sleeps, ready to hold our tears (looking forward to the day He will dry them forever). There is One who whispers in our darkness that He is bigger than our foes and has conquered even our worst enemies.

Death might await the morning, but in Christ it has no victory.

I sit here in the early hours of morning. Eyes stinging with lack of sleep and tears. Praying for God’s grace in mommy’s words and resilient little hearts.

The first taste of a fallen world. A drop in the bucket of a lifetime of tears and sorrows. A temporary pain that time and a Heavenly Daddy will sooth and extinguish.

In a few hours as I dry tears and snuggle little bodies we’ll tell stories and remember. Remember that love came before the grief, that happiness proceeded death. And my children will begin to learn that there is always the hope and joy of the Lord, even in our darkest moments.

Father, thank you for being present in all our grief and sadness, from the first to the last. Thank you for the joy of remembrance and the hope of Christ. Give me the words to ease little hearts this morning and the grace for others in their grief, big or small. Thank you for our baby weasel, our ferret, he gave us great joy and filled our home with laughter as he entertained us with our antics. Amen.

04 Oct

Squeezy Skate Kinda Life

skates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I was in elementary school (maybe fifth grade?) my best friend and I decided to go ice skating. Behind her house was a stream and on the other side of the stream was a long dirt driveway that had completely iced over. The perfect place to skate…as long as you only went in short straight bursts.

I didn’t have skates so I borrowed a pair from her. Spare skates, just lying around…not even sure where we got them…the barn maybe? Anyway. I put the a-little-bit-too-tight, kinda-smash-your-toes squeezy skates on. And we began to skate.

Almost immediately I was aware of a terrible pain in one of my toes (the one next to my pinky toe…is that your ring toe?…for those that need those kind of details to focus on a story). The pain was pretty intense, but I chalked it up to the too-tight, too-small skates and continued skating.

When we were done skating and I sat to take off my skates I found it difficult to pull my toes and sock out. A little tug. A lot of pain. And my foot was free. Perhaps I shouldn’t wear squeezy skates again, was my thought. Imagine my surprise when I found my sock bloody and now a bit torn. Upon closer inspection I was even more surprised to find a hole in my toe.

Turns out the squeezy skates had a nail poking through at the toes and I had slowly impaled my ring toe as we skated. I had made the best of skating, explaining away my pain and bumbling through.

Life is kinda like that, you know?

It is easy, as wives and mothers to fill our calendars up with every sort of committment. We serve on committees, we drive in carpools, we head this event, attend that fundraiser, volunteer to bring a dish to that family, we lead this ministry or that organization…or both. And life begins to feel a bit like those squeezy skates.

At first it is just a matter of finding room for life, love, marriage, family, rest, oh and God amidst the entries on our calendar. Then we begin to feel the poke, the prod, heck, maybe even the stabbing pains of a broken skate…or life. It feels as if suddenly your life doesn’t work — your kids are acting out; your husband greets you like one of his buddies instead of the love of his life; the laundry has piled; you have to prepare for a meeting, sort through this week’s homeschooling lessons, make dinner and prepare for your in-laws visit all before they get here at six o’clock. And the dog who used to follow you around with tail wagging has packed his dish and his bone and is sitting at the front door waiting for you to let him out.

It feels sudden. This implosion.

But it’s not. No more than that hole suddenly appeared in my foot. I committed myself to skating and having fun, and refused to stop and pay attention to the signs my body was sending (oh, like pain…blood).

Oh, how I have been here. Standing in my home wondering when life got so crazy, why I am so tired and how to dig myself out of the pit I’m standing in. I’ve been here. A LOT.

In fact, I’ve spent the last year trying to teach myself to not dig this pit. And God has taught me some incredible lessons along the way.

Last fall as we began this homeschooling adventure as a family I was aware that this was a major committment. To my children. To our family. To God. And I needed to devote time and energy to making it work….not to fitting it in.

So I made a list. A short list. A list of three things that I would devote my time, energy, passions and talents to. If something didn’t directly benefit, support or further those three things it didn’t make it past my inbox or the telephone…there were not spots on my calendar for things that would turn my life into a pair of squeezy skates.

1. my marriage

2. my children and homeschooling

3. women’s ministry

With my list written I was sure the rest would fall into place. Easily. Quickly.

Um. Not so much. I spent most of the fall turning down “opportunities” people presented me with. I generally tried to explain why I turned things down, hoping that people would understand, if not honor, my commitments to the three things God has called me to at this stage of my life. I was amazed at how offended some people were at the simple answer of no…as though I owed them something or had personally assaulted them. Some used guilt or tried to rework my list and definitions, assuring me that their tasks absolutely fit within the scope of my life.

But I stuck to my guns.

And you know what happened? Our marriage was attacked, beat up and put through the ringer. Homeschooling was hard, my children weren’t always delightful to be around. And women’s ministry was full of long hours spent trying to help and serve women, many of whom can just be plain difficult. What? You were expecting Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar and a happy ending? (hang in there…there might just be singing and dancing yet!)

In all seriousness, it wasn’t easy. And for a few months I thought perhaps I’d missed the mark. But by early spring I could see and feel a difference.

Yes our marriage had taken a few hits and been battered, but it didn’t sink. In fact, I’d say we’re more in love this year than any other year of our love story. (don’t you think honey?)

By spring, you could see the progress the children had made in homeschooling — not just in the three R’s, but in their knowledge of the Bible, their love for God, and in their behavior!

Women’s ministry was a different creature as God changed the where and the how for me, but even in the turmoil of church crisis and drama I saw where His leading had paid off. I was closer to more women than ever, our phone rang and email filled up with women just looking for support, love and council. They had been my priority when life was simple…and they could feel it. When life was hard they knew who was ready to love on ’em and walk the hard road with them.

So here we are, ankle-deep in fall again. And I’ve got my list, again. It is still short. In fact, it is the same. Already I’ve had to hold up “opportunities” to the yardstick of God’s callings in my life and say, does it fit? Sometimes yes. Sometimes no.

This year I’ve learned that the best me is not an overscheduled woman committed to so many things that I’m trying to live life in a squeezy skate. No, the very best me is the woman who says yes to God’s callings in my life in a radical way…which means saying no, a lot.  In the past year I’ve turned down some great things. Fun things. Exciting things. Things that I would have excelled at or been able to learn from. And while they were good openings, they weren’t right for me…not in this season. Not with this list.

All-in-all this year of lessons has been great. The non-squeezy skate kinda life is full of more joy, more time, less stress and more Jesus.

So tell me…how do you balance all that life throws at you? Do you have priorities? How do you set them? Do you find it hard to say no to the “opportunities” that come your way?

 

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