Showing posts with label thoughts about God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thoughts about God. Show all posts

Thursday, June 5, 2014

thinking on moving. and hoarder-ing. and eulogizing.

i don't know how much i'll be writing as we transition into our new home this summer. it's literally only 20 minutes away where we're going but moving a house is still moving a house.
and i'm apparently a hoarder. so that's been fun. who knew how much you could fit in a basement if you just apply yourself. for years. over and over.

whatever. i like finding things in people's trash. it's fun for me, but my husband dies a little when he has to pull over for a treasure. can we just go to a store? 

babe, this is a store. a street store. isn't that fun? everything's free on the curb.

listen, when you grow up poor, you think you have to save everything for the time you'll need it. i mean, haven't you watched dr.phil?
if it's broken, that's ok. because you're going to jimmy rig it probably with hot glue, and make it look great. sort of great. and sure, sometimes people threw it away for a reason because it breaks when you sit on it, but this is neither here nor there.

all that to say, i'm getting rid of stuff. meaningful stuff even, but that we've outgrown. and our style has changed over 10 years. we're finally figuring out what we really like and how to put it together as a cohesive room. first world conundrums? absolutely. but this is where we live: excess. so along with purging comes promises not to bring in excessive crap that is just going to sit there for years with no function and no intentionality, into our home.

i will fail, sure. but i do want to change. that's something.

where am i even going with this? i don't know. but it sure beats packing. i have 12 days before i have to be out of this house and so i'm just eulogizing walls and and spaces and countertops and yards where memories were made for 5 years.

and it wasn't just any 5 years.
it was the start over years.
gifts that came from seasons together that we should have never seen together.
from the snow we should have never played in and the sprinklers we should have never ran through.

but we did. because God gave us a good gift.

and now we move on to the next years of our lives together, facing the unknown. i will be ok with that because when i see what God has already done, i can stare the blurry future in the face and walk forward into it. paint chips in hand.

recognizing that as much as we like to cling to and tightly grip all this stuff we surround ourselves with, including houses and plans none of it is eternal. none of it will mean anything when this life, that is a breath(remember?), all comes to an end. it's good to walk away from homes and paintings and furniture that i loved, if for nothing else than to proclaim to my soul that He is better. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

what table are you invited to?

there was something on twitter or Facebook that said, hang out with people that bring out the best in you, not those that stress you. 

i was all. ummm. that's like saying, only hang out with robots. but come to think about it, robots are probably stressful when they go all iRobot on you, takin' over the "mainframes" and changing all the magical codes with their laser eyes so that they can make us their slaves.

i digress.

humans, by nature, will produce for one another stress con-thantly, conthantly. (does anyone know that dave barnes reference?)

your friends and your sisters and your kids and your husband and..well...you. if we go around beating each other with phrases that sound cool but really are just pleasant semantic tom-foolerie meaning, i'm using you for what you can bring to the table in this relationship. better make me feel good...or else!
(this is the only picture i could find of a table. you're welcome.)

i thought about the cross intersecting this phrase. and i thought about what jesus did on the cross for all the people that "made his life stressful". you know, those disciples who fought over who was greater. the crowds that wouldn't let him rest. his family that didn't believe he was the savior.
what's more, he purposefully surrounded himself with these people, including, everyone's fave...judas! ding ding. mr. stressfest himself.
and yet it was part of the plan.
all along.
these relationships.
not so that we could come up with platitudes and sayings that make us feel good about being selfish and refusing to love others when the cost is too high, but so that we would see Jesus: long suffering and sacrificial, even with his very dear friend who eventually betrayed him for a couple bucks.

that was on purpose. it was written about way before it even happened.

i take great comfort that people in our lives are in our lives on purpose. we will often be quick to say, God put so-and-so in my life as a gift! but when we have a difficult relationship, perhaps God was looking away when this person arrived in my life?

no. not for a moment, did he forsake us.
then perhaps, both are gifts.

when i see the relationship Jesus had with his rag tag, often difficult and bone-headed team of disciples (a.k.a closest buddies) and particularly when i see God allowing Judas in Jesus' life, i'm reminded that even those difficult relationships give us purposeful opportunities to be a part of grace appearing to an undeserving people. the mirroring of God's great gift to us in Jesus. his death to self over and over again in relationships, in his exhaustion, in his joy and in his sadness, even when they denied him or betrayed him... it didn't change the call to glorify his Father.

so instead of finding all the undeserving, stress-inducing friends, deniers, or betrayers and dropping them, perhaps we should see ourselves as one of them. one of them that gets a seat at the banqueting table with our savior-- the savior who was forsook so that we would not be forsaken.

that's some crazy good news. we are not denied or accepted based on what we "bring to the table"!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

making piles of stones

i am waiting to feel again.

there have been so many things happening this past month that are hard for me, that i guess i've just turned my emotions off. as if there were a switch on the back of my head. click.
it's apparently a coping mechanism, but i don't much like it. because i feel paralyzed from doing much of anything.
i know what i should be feeling and sometimes i do manage to cry. like last night on the couch. my husband, rubbing my feet said, i liked this sunday. our long walk and the picnic in the front. 

i know. it was so good. 

and as i said it, it was like a reluctant acknowledgement i had been needing to feel but refusing nonetheless. if i'm not crying, then there's nothing to cry about. so i won't.
but there it was in front of me in his words hanging in the air: this yard isn't going to be our yard for much longer.

i thought about the people of the bible and how they made piles of stones to mark important places where God showed up. where they marked important events. a lot of times where God turned mourning into joy.
 Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went. (jeremiah 31)

i thought about this house being just one of the mile markers of God's goodness. and how i will think of it as our very own tangible place of piled stones that tell us to remember when God did this good thing for us. we can drive down this street and say, remember?
hope and sadness all mixed up. i'm sure the isrealites felt that way too. leaving a place they've loved deeply, and going on an unknown journey. 

and then my thoughts get sucked back down to earth and couch because there's more. there's always more. working out hard things in marriage that don't resolve overnight. not little fights, real hurts begging to be talked about one more time after the kids go to bed. one more, that really hurt me. and i don't know how to put it away from my thoughts. 
there's leaving lila's incredible preschool. i have a strange attachment to any and all workers at this place. they've made us feel so loved and so special. and what will her new school be like?
there's leaving our incredible church in the city to begin a new one in the suburbs. the church where we have both cried in, yelled in, stormed out of, ran into, dedicated our children, regained new life through hearing the gospel preached every sunday from that pulpit on that awful red carpet. will our new church be like this was for us?

but i do try so hard to put all of that away. i think, maybe for a better time when i'm more able to press into them and fight with them and maybe, just maybe, push through them. i know though, there's never a good time to face sadness. as if grief waits around for perfect timing. like death, it shows up when it wants to and asks no one permission to enter.

it's a strange sort of sadness when life is being uprooted completely around you and you're still in the ground just watching. and i'm not sure what to do with it. for now i'll just write it down. little piles of stones made with words that i can revisit later. and laugh that God has done a better thing than i could have imagined. it has always happened this way.

-----

side note! my talk from hope spoken is up for purchase if you're interested. it's called, the story of redemption. all proceeds will fund next year's conference.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

mountains meant to climb

i think it's funny how plans go. you decide on something intently and then later, laugh at yourself, sometimes through tears, that life has brought you different mountains to climb.

there's a phrase out there, choose the mountains you want to climb carefully. and while i agree that there are lots of mountains we can choose, some mountains are put right in front of us with no way around them.

mountains chosen for you. mountains with no discernible path. mountains meant to be climbed, not walked around.

this is where we find ourselves. i told you guys a while ago, i felt like this was coming. we had a wonderful season of rest. it was characterized by a lot of gratefulness and a lot of rest. time together. redemption of time lost. binding up of wounds, wincing at the pain of the bandage but marveling at the gashes healing, one by one.

and now he is doing something new.

i knew where we were going.
is this what issac felt like going up on the mountain with his dad? something is going to happen and it will be difficult, but what will it be? i wasn't sure, only that i was with my father and that he is trustworthy and good.

and then it hit us. all at once. all the everything. the let's-get-that-husband-a-promotion-he-never-asked-for-with-the-crazy-hours-he-never-wanted-sell-our-house-in-a-day-move-to-the-suburbs-help-plant-a-church-write-a-book-have-a-baby-at-the-same-time-while-moving-and-managing-three-children kind of crazy.

it makes complete sense. (sarcasm oozing).

i find 2 things compelling:
1)in God's kindness he let us know it was about to get nuts. why does he even care about us in this way?
2)in that same kindness, he has let the storm completely overwhelm us.

there is no way to get to where we need to be but to climb a giant mountain, in a storm, and only see the few inches in front of us. his mercy is full here, on this arduous climb.
each step, has been planned. and He has always made a way for weary travelers, hasn't he? i know i won't even climb this whole mountain or even a small part of it, there will be a lot of him carrying me. and not in the cheesy footprints in the sand kind of way, but in the blood falling from his brow for me kind of way.

in light of his goodness on the cross for me thousands of years ago, i know i can trust in his goodness now. he laid down his life for me in the greatest act of generosity, trustworthy-ness, and kindness in all of history, so he'll do this too. he carried the cross up the hill and now he'll carry me up this mountain. and when i look into his face, i remember who i am. because without the storms, i had forgotten.

when i am focused on his face, fears in the background that taunted me blur. i don't see the future, i see right now. his eyes. i feel, right now, his hands-the bloodstained ones, under my back. i hear him hushing me with his words,
not you, me. 

if ever it was said that there are situations which make us feel small, it is now. there's no question of who is doing the work on this mountain.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

putting our burdens on others

i love a good hard hitting blog post. or, one of the in real life conversations where you hear someone speak so passionately about something, like homeschooling or natural birth control or ways of eating or adoption or gosh, there are so many things to be passionate about. 

but you leave that blog or that conversation and it has you thinking. 

this is where it gets tricky. what is from the spirit and for me and what is from the spirit and for them. i know it gets tricky because i have seen it in my own life. i have seen it on the web too.

what happens often is, someone is truly convicted from the spirit to make a change in their life. they are convicted about small things or large things and they are obedient to the call to change. and it really changes them, it produces incredible fruit. it's amazing to see and even be a part of that transformation. so we read about their conviction, they so passionately lay before us, and we think...yes. that is good. 

and surely it is for me too.

but is it?

i find comfort that this is not just a modern day conundrum, it has been happening for a long time.  bible times, people! and, in God's kindness, he allows it to be addressed. 

romans 14 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master[a] that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

so there are 2 people, both believers, and one does something this way, and the other does something that way.

but it feels so so so black and white to me. this IS the right way. but paul says that we don't get to judge people's convictions, because it's not our job. it's God's. novel idea.

he continues. 

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike.Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. Fornone of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

i find great comfort in this as a body of believers. it frees me to acknowledge what is hard for me to admit, that there are more ways to walk out a profession of faith than, well...my way. it's arrogant, but we're all the most arrogant people we know right?

people can do or not do something, FOR HIS HONOR. to his glory. something i have been called to abstain from, God uses someone's non-abstaining in the same way. to point to him. it is crazy to think about, but he made our body of believers to function this way. and for good reason...it sure is hard to make God look like me when i read that. 

doesn't my God vote like me and listen to the same music as me and fly the same flags i fly? wait. that sounds a lot like another me. 

it also frees me to not be so stinking judgmental to people who do things differently than me, in the name of Jesus. i'm not the judge. that's pretty clear..i mean, he says it a couple times in there so i don't forget. he's got this. 
i don't have to beat other people down with my conviction-- i can certainly talk about it and believe that we should. but to prescribe particular ways of being a believer that aren't specifically outlined in the bible as close handed issues, to other believers because it is my way and it has been awesome for me! is particularly an issue we need to be aware of. careful about. soft towards.

mark me as guilty. i need work in this area, but the more i stare at jesus and what he did for me, the more i am called to submit my hard headed stubbornness of the idea that my way is everyone's way. 

and honestly, i think it's unhelpful to each other as sisters in christ. loading up one another with nuanced opinions and burdens that don't belong to them. pushing our deeply particular convictions on people when perhaps, God is doing a different work in them. if there's something to preach, let it be liberty in Christ. we all have so many expectations placed on us, heavy things. if there is something we can do for each other, let us remove heavy bags and preach to each other to rest in the work He has already done for us. perfectly.


(here's a picture from the internet. you're welcome.)


i pray that we can all have tender hearts with each other in this area. where we can be firm when needed, and soft towards others who are in a different place, with a different calling than us. that we can be unified in Christ, all pointing to Him and not to particular nuances of personal convictions. 





Monday, April 14, 2014

consider Jesus: object of popular favor


as we move into the week of easter, i have thought about this devotional gem from octavius winslow many times this week. about how fickle i am with my affections towards humans and more importantly towards God.

i love that Jesus can relate to us in so many ways and that he knows us deeply. even our depths that are willing to betray him at any moment. he knew that about all of us, and yet, he humbly and willingly walked to the cross.
Consider Jesus– the Object of Popular Favor 
by Octavius Winslow, 1870 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" –Matthew 21:10

(no one was harmed in the waving of these palms. maybe.)

Jesus was now enthroned upon the highest wave of popular favor. It was, perhaps, the only moment in His earthly history in which it might be said that His popularity was in the ascendant. The sun of human glory now shone upon Him in all its splendor. He was for a moment the idol and the delight of the people. They thronged His path, carpeted it with their garments, strewed it with foliage, and rent the air with their loud and joyous hosannas. All this was strange to Jesus. It was a new page in His history, a new lesson in His life, which would fit Him in all future time to sympathize with and support those who should be subjected to a like perilous ordeal in their Christian career.


We learn that, seasons of earthly prosperity in the experience of the Christian may be perfectly compatible with his close walk with God. The sunshine of God and the smile of the creature may be permitted for a while to blend, tinting with their bright hues the varied forms and objects of existence. These are some of the few 'lights' intermingled with the many 'shadows'--with which God pencils the picture of life. Are our callings prospered, are our homes happy, do friends smile, are neighbors kind, and have the lines fallen to us in pleasant places? These are gleams of light upon our path across the desert, and in them, O my soul! see that you trace a Father's hand, and acknowledge a Father's heart. The picture of your life is not all somber. If the clouds shade, the sunshine brightens it; if judgment frowns, mercy smiles; and if the bread and the water of affliction are at times your appointed portion, with it He gives His love to soothe you, His presence to cheer you, His arm to sustain you, His Heaven to receive you, and says, "You shall not be forgotten by Me."


We learn, also, how meekly and lowly a child of God should walk in times of worldly prosperity. Jesus was not inflated with pride, nor lifted up with vainglory by this ebullition of popular favor. Oh, how great the grace required to walk humbly with God in times of worldly prosperity! When "Jeshurun waxed fat, he kicked." When earthly riches increase, or worldly honors are bestowed, or human applause is lavished, then is the time to flee to the mountain of strength, to the armory of truth, to the solitude of the closet, and to wrestle with God for help to resist and overcome the soul-perils to which all these seductions fearfully expose us. O my soul! be doubly on your guard, be whole nights in your watch-tower, when floating with the tide, wafted by the wind, irradiated with the sunshine of creature good, of earthly prosperity. The world's dizziness, the creature's caresses, the heart's self-satisfaction, would prove your downfall and ruin but for the restraining grace of God.


We also learn how empty and evanescent a thing is the bubble of popular favor. When Jesus was come into Jerusalem, "all the city was stirred." But before many days elapsed, the air that rang with His acclaim echoed with His execrations; the voices that then sang "Hosanna!" now shouted "Crucify Him! crucify Him!" and from that very city they led Him out to die. O my soul! bid low for the world's applause; set light by man's favor; be not ensnared by creature smiles. Fill not your censer with the incense, and shape not your sail to catch the breath of, human popularity; still less the favor and adulation of the saints. Their idol today, you may be their object of ridicule tomorrow. 'Hosanna' now, 'Crucify Him' then! Walk humbly with your God. Cling to the faithfulness of the unchanging One, to the friendship of the loving One, to the strength of the Almighty One, and to the compassion and sympathy of the crucified One, and let your Jesus be all in all.
"Earthly friends may fail or leave us, 
One day soothe, the next day grieve us, 
But this Friend will ne'er deceive us 
Oh, how He loves!"
------------

are you fickle like me? a betrayer like me? have you been betrayed like me? Jesus can sympathize greatly.
our pastor preached on the redemption of even our greatest regrets, our greatest betrayals. it is truly incredible. hearing how Jesus bound up peter's betrayals by asking him three times later, after his resurection,  do you love me?
God knows us intamately. and still pursues us.
that sermon is here

Thursday, April 10, 2014

today in the unknown

today we have a doctor's appointment today for lila.
with her special developmental specialist. we will sit in the office for 2 hours while he plays with her and asks her questions. he is so incredible with her.
but i've done this before. i've watched him take down his notes and think, what is he writing? i know she did that skill set all wrong. he asked her to draw mommy and she drew a spider. with a unibrow. i mean, that's more creative than just drawing a human.

it's not a question of if she's a normal kid, i know she's not a normal almost 6 year old. her brain works completely different. her speech is at a 2 year old's level and she's almost 6. i know that. i really know that in so many ways.

but when you hear a label, something different happens. that is to be carried around. it can be carried around as a burden or as a tool set, my brain knows that. but what will we choose to do? likely, we will swim in and out of both ways of thinking.

this morning, with wet hair and the kitchen house undone with mess, i wanted to process before i go into that office this afternoon and face the unknown. order in my thoughts, perhaps.

i could come out of there still walking in the unknown or i could walk out having a label. the label is bittersweet to me: it could be helpful as she moves into kindergarten for her teachers and for her therapists to better care for her. it could be hurtful if people see the label and not the lila.

oh, that they would see beyond the disability.

i am struck by one thought this morning: that even though all this feels so heavy and earth shattering in this moment, it's just a breath. this life. i can do all of this because my focus isn't on caring for lila but that God is caring for me during this very short life we have walking with sweet lila. i don't have to fear the diagnosis because God has already known all of this before he made the stars. he will show us the way like he always has.

and he is near. his nearness is better than a good diagnosis or avoiding hard things. both of which stare at me today asking me what i really believe. this is not a sad moment, it is a moment in which God's great goodness shines light into our mundane and proclaims that Jesus is better.

that is what i will speak today in the doctor's office when i ask my questions and when i thank the doctor for his time. when i gather up lila's drawings and when i tell lila that i just love her spiders. more spiders, i'll say. there aren't enough spiders on that paper. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

on ignoring special needs people

when people talk about causes or issues that don't relate to me, i find it particularly easy to ignore what they're saying.

yes, that was my compassionate opening line, just now.  but if we're all honest, i think we can relate to that statement. you love adoption? meh. you love fitness? ok. you're into oils? fine, moving on.

you know what i mean?

perhaps it's because we're all so inundated with causes constantly on the internet or at church or at school or our kid's school. i think some of the shut out is ok and even needed. no one can champion every cause nor should they. we would all be exhausted humans getting small amounts of 1million things done and i'm not sure how much good that does.

what i do know is that everyone can champion life. because, we're all humans and we're all living and no one is a robot. i think my logic there is impeccable.

the other day before i started "working out", i downloaded a pod cast, thinking it was something else. it didn't download in time and i forgot about it...until i was on the plane coming home from the conference. i was bored and exhausted but couldn't sleep, so i looked in my podcasts and there it was. one lone ranger to listen to. so, why not.

and i sat in my seat and just cried and cried while i listened to a man talk about the value of life. and how the value of our life is simply found in being made in the image of God, not in the contribution we can give society. now, i am particularly sensitive to this as our sweet lila is on that special needs spectrum somewhere. and perhaps i would have ignored this before her. but i don't think it's right as a body of believers to do so...ignoring the value of all life.

at hopespoken there were a few meet-up/share groups on the last night like; new moms, seasoned moms, an adoption group, singles, handmade shop owners, and i lead the special needs moms group.

we sat outside and laughed together about our children licking everything. saying strange things. taking their pants off in the store, because why not. not being able to verbalize when someone asks, what's your name? pushing someone because they can't say they'd like a turn with that toy.
a group where we didn't feel so abnormal saying, we don't fit in at playdates. 
my child doesn't get invited to birthday parties. 
this is hard and i feel alone.
where do we fit into this life?



it was one of my favorite times at the conference. i don't have many friends with special needs kids--where i live or on the internet even. so being connected like this was so refreshing. just to nod our heads at each other and say, i know.

we talked about how God knitted these children in the womb, just like this. knowing the missing chromosomes. knowing the intricacies of their different needs, their special diets, their unique brains, their unusual bodies. he knit them just so and they reflect the image of God in some way. i was just blown back by that thought. that somehow, special needs children reflect the image of God.

their limitless boundaries.
their crazy joy.
how they find no reason to hide emotions.
how they feel so intensely some things.

i see Him in lila so much. and i feel like i have to champion and defend her most of the time. and sometimes i do defend her...but she can do this! see her value!

so when i heard this sermon, i finally really heard someone saying, all of life is important. the ones that contribute, and the ones that aren't born yet, the ones that are born with special needs, the ones that are considered normal. life is valuable simply because every single person reflects the image of christ. you never have to defend your child's value for anything other than simply, because God said So.

i feel a burden to help people understand that my special needs child and others all around the world, are valuable because God made it so. whether you have no experience with a special needs kid or you have plenty, we all need to listen to this truth over and over.

will you take time to listen to it? i promise it will knock your socks off.
(it is addressed to pastors, but pretend like he said i want to address my fellow CHRISTIANS)


SERMON from Paul Martin 

Image of God - Creation - Fall - Redemption - Consummation




Monday, March 10, 2014

the greatest

hannah singer had posted this from a sermon illustration the other day and i could not take my eyes off of it.

i loved that the verse was the gospel laid out on the left and then our coordinating desires are found on the right. 

every desire you've ever felt, merited or unmerited, can be found at the cross. when God made a way for us to have eternal life with God, through his son Jesus. 

sometimes i get really bored with the cross. it's not enough for me. i hear and hear and hear it and i think, ya, ya, ya...
i'm the teenager rolling her eyes at her father because i have a better way.

does the cross intersect here? in this tantrum my child is throwing for 2 hours?
does the cross intersect here when i fight with my parents once again about something that i feel is important and they feel is important and we both love the Lord, so who's right?
does the cross intersect when that person won't speak to me?
does his death, right now, have anything to do with my exhaustion over just thinking about what the next few months hold for us? new schools, new home, new projects, new diagnosis, new humans.

i couldn't stop staring at that list because i found myself exposed on that notebook paper, not hidden in the love of Jesus on the cross. 
i want love.
i want more.
i want control.
i want to know.
i want the opportunity.
i want attention. 

i'm bob, in what about bob, whining... i want, i want, i want. i need, i need, i need. 

finding myself let down by my desires because i chase them where the world says it's sunny and free and fun and i forgot that it's a bait and switch. i should have just gone to the great shadow of the cross.

i wanted to see these words everyday. so i asked my sis to make a print and she did. because she's a genius. do you want one to remind you too, that everything you ever wanted is right there with HIM?

here are 2 options. vintage and modern. $free.99




stare at this every day.
remember that it is good news.
the gospel that used to be a hurdle for you to "get saved" and then go be a good person?
it's not that. 
it's something better. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

some encouragement.

do you ever read the fruits of the spirit list and think, dang it! i am half of that one...none of that one...a little of that one...i really need to work on that fruit.

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things... Galatians 5:22-23

the problem is, we forget the first part of that verse. but the fruit OF THE SPIRIT is...


that means, you can't just wake up and will yourself to be more patient. you can't wake up and promise that you won't overeat today. you can't be less and angry and more loving just by speaking this verse to yourself. it might help you for that hour, but eventually, you can't keep it up. you fail. 

it sounds contrary to what is preached generally, but i love how the easy to read version puts it, 
 But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is ...

those fruits come from the spirit working inside of you, producing good fruit. you don't produce it! and that means, you can rest from trying harder. rest in the work that he is doing and has done on the cross. 

so i just sit there and disobey? no. when you run to the cross, you can't help but see your sin and repent. so we don't just identify. ugh, i'm so angry all the time! i have no patience with _______. 
this list is the law. the law is good to help us see how we don't match up...we just can't. but we aren't saved by law, we're saved by grace. 

go where the grace is. 

when we identify the problem and repent to God, something supernatural happens. Lord i see this about me and i am helpless to change. i am sorry that i sin against you first and then my children. please rescue me from my sin. you're my only hope to change. 

who gets the glory for any change that happens? God. 
who does the changing? God.
where do your eyes go when you keep falling into the same sin? God.
who bears the burden for the sin regardless of whether you change or not? God.

NOT YOU.

 sometimes working sin out takes a long time and sometimes He changes you quickly. His timing is perfection and he's in charge. sometimes, we just keep running to the cross for the same sin over and over. but the cross is where the goodness is at. our dependence and salvation from ourselves is displayed in one awful and wonderful act on that tree that only one person could do: Jesus. not jami. 

if you're tired and weary from trying so hard. hear the good news of the gospel! rest IN HIM, not you trying to change yourself, your husband, your friends, or your kids. it will free you to enjoy them so much more this valentine's day.

Monday, January 27, 2014

because i love my God

my 5 year old will not poop in the potty. for some reason, peeing in the potty clicks for her, but not pooping.
i know, it's really crazy right? yes, i know how to potty train. yes, we've tried every single thing you can think of. yes, it drives me crazy.

i had read in an advent devotional some time ago by paul david trip:

You and I were created to love God. We were hardwired to live in an intimate relationship with the Creator that would shape every motive, every desire, every choice, every word, and every action. If at any moment you asked me what I was doing, I could say to you, “Because I love my God.”
Why do you speak to your spouse the way you do? 
Because I love my God. 
Why do you treat your children the way you do? 
Because I love my God. 
Why do you spend your money the way you do? 
Because I love my God.
Why do you schedule your life the way you do? Because I love my God


the devotional went on to say how something went terribly wrong in the garden of eden and now we stray from that. and because we're made to be lovers, we'll find something to love. namely, self.

when i read that, it knocked me on my face. that's me! i particularly thought of changing an almost 6 year olds filthy underwear everyday. the frustration for me because it made me uncomfortable, it grossed me out, and i had better things to do with my time.

not to be left out of this discussion is that lila is special needs, and although we don't have a label for her, she literally does not understand the concept. perhaps she's stubborn too, but i mean, i can't be angry enough with her to make her change. there's something that doesn't make sense in her mind.

with that said, yes, i'm not my favorite person in those moments when i yell at her and shame her for not doing what i want her to do.  it's very ugly.

when i read that article, i felt a call to repent for my heart towards lila. and to know that deep in my heart, i am not doing this particular uncomfortable job for her or for myself. it is because i love my God.
it made me weep. i had gotten very far away from that call.

do you know how many times i yelled out loud in frustration, while throwing yet another pair of undies away, why am i doing this? why is this my job?!
fuming in jealousy for my husband's ability to leave the house and not deal with this. THIS.

i had gotten away from my true motivation and the answer i had for me was, because i love myself. 

but i felt like a true remedy got whispered back at me when i read that devotional. because i love my God. 
my mind back tracked.
because you loved me when i sat in my filth--at my dirtiest, because pulled me out and washed me clean. because of your love for me...
for that i can be motivated. for anything else, i can only behavior modify for so long before i become the irate mother who feels entitled to have all of her children potty trained properly as a toddler.

and yet, even saying that phrase can't change me. phrases have no power. but it became my prayer, my reminder, my cue for repentance. when i would cry and put in her in the bath, i would say over and over again in my head, because i love my God. because i love my God. make it true in my heart. 

lila says, mommy is sad. mommy tying (crying).
i say, mommy was mean. mommy is sorry.
lila says, i sorry. i luh you. 

how does this 5 year old show more grace to me than i show to her? it is an undeserving gift.
and through my mundane, he is changing me. chipping away at me.  i still have to keep that prayer close to my heart. it still must be near to me every day, i am that quick to turn away. but when that phrase pops into my head, not just in this situation but in any difficult moment, i know it is my cue to run back to the cross.
to ask for God to change me, right in that moment, hovering over the bathtub.

why am i making this dinner. because i love my God.
why am i giving up what i want to do with my time. because i love my God.
why am i scrubbing this floor. because i love my God.
over and over again all day. write it on my heart and write it on my children's faces, on their hind ends. write it on my tongue and write it into my DNA.

it's how i understand: God made me to do this THING, this hard thing, in this very moment. why me? it was permitted for me so that i could see Christ. He loves me so much, he uses the mundane hardship of my life to show me Himself. A wise and kind God is who He must be. Gracious and abounding in love.
He must be that.

Monday, January 6, 2014

when it spits you out.

i need to write about Christmas. need to get those memories out on paper...errr, internet. i will. it will be delayed and you will be like, ugh...i'm so ready for christmas to be over and onto the new year.

me too. me too.

but i'm still reeling from it all. the holiday. the kids on break. the pregnancy. the burritos.

i just wanted to take a moment and reflect on the year. someone asked me this question a couple weeks ago: what was your best and worst of 2013? it's like you're hurrying to cross the street and all the sudden someone puts a stop sign right in front of your face.

STOP!

i sat there and reflected.  what caused deepest pain and deepest happiness. what could i be thankful for in both my suffering and joy? what had i left forgotten, un-prayed for because visiting it caused more hurt? or because visiting it caused unmerited self-congratulation and confidence? thankfulness and repentance fell out of my mouth at the same time. painful and peaceful. how do these things work so beautifully together?

i thought forward. to the coming year.
no word came to mind, no resolutions, no goals.
only more questions. God what will you do this year in light of what you've already done this past year? show me more.

each year i move forward and presumably closer to Jesus, the smaller my story feels. my tiny story of redemption falling into his giant story of redemption. realizing i'm a speck. a tiny grain.
painful and peaceful, that thought. i am nothing and He is everything.

everything. can that thought be true? because the implications are wild and wrecking.

on my honeymoon, after laying out for an hour or so, i decided i needed to cool off in the ocean. the ocean is both beautiful and scary to me, but decided i could go in alone while my husband watched from the beach. i got in, went a little deeper, and like oceans do sometimes, it just drops off into the deep. i wasn't out that far, but a wave came from out of nowhere it seemed and right as i turned around to see what the noise was, i got hit in the face with the barreling water. it took me under.
(photo taken by jessica thompson)

i was knocked around by varying currents with such force. unable to get air, it jolted me back and forth for what seemed like minutes and then spit me out back on the beach like i too was just a speck of sand, nothing in that vast body of water.

my hair was all over my face and my swimsuit was in all the wrong places. my husband was laughing hysterically and i wanted to cry. i felt the most helpless i had ever felt. and although i can see the humor in it now, at that moment the ocean meant something different than what i had thought.

beautiful and painful. peaceful and dominating.

my life this last year culminating to now as i encountered God's grace asking,
what was that?

grace. oh! 
it swallowed me up this year, spit me out, and now i'm laying on the beach thinking, that's not what i thought it would be. 

it has knocked me around. i've thought for so long it was me and Jesus working together and now i see it's just him(i think i would have said it was just jesus previously). grace is telling me it's all Him and NONE of Me. how painful it has been to truly believe that i can take no credit. that i must rely on Him for every.single.tiny.step.

the stirrings in my heart. they were given by him, then stirred by him, then brought to fruit by him, or even not brought to fruit by him!

it's not on me. even my response to the call is not my own. i can't even get over that thought.

the repentance and the peace that it brings are treasures. i can't stand up, i'm knocked over with grace.

i am the bumbling, weak beggar and God chose me. that's all i need to know this year. He picked me, not because of me, but inspire of.  it has dominated my soul and my thoughts and i pray that it continues this year and all the years.

i am nothing, you are everything.



Monday, December 16, 2013

waiting for WHO.

i am alone in my house. it's sort of gloomy outside and i'm not feeling 100%. my kids are at the grandparents and my husband is at an event, we have guests this weekend but even they're gone. 

space. 
bells are ringing across the street at the church... good tidings of comfort and joy.

i picked up my bible, which i haven't done all week, and read colossions 3:24
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 

usually when i read this, i think...yes, yes. our reward is not in the "atta boys" we get from bosses and friends. it's eternal. ...

but today, something different poked at me. 
what is the inheritance?
when i think of this word, it's usually a monetary gift left when someone dies, something that gets passed down from family to family, like jewelry or awful vases. 

but what is our inheritance from the Lord?
is it happiness in life? a wonderful marriage? no heartache? healthy children? 
that's been preached by preachers plenty of times. but is it true? my experience says no, but what does God's word say.

as i studied what inheritance means, i came across 1 peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 

hmm. the inheritance is salvation? 
and it will be revealed in the last time?
i thought we already had salvation now...

then i had to answer the question, what is salvation? 

i found the story of zacceas which i became fascinated by. 
19 He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

a guy who didn't know Jesus, has a desire to know him. Jesus seeks him out, in a tree (which is funny and odd and why do i love this detail?), and seeing the Son of God, he believes. we know this because he repents and bears fruit, immediately. 

the phrase that fascinates me is, today SALVATION has come into this house. 
previously i read that and thought, zacchaeus got saved--he accepted Christ into his heart. but today, i realized my question was wrong. not WHAT is salvation, but WHO is salvation. 

today, salvation has literally walked into your house. 

what good news that:
our inheritance is salvation. 
our salvation is HIM. 
therefore, our inheritance is HIM. He is the great reward that will be fully revealed to us "in the last time". when God makes everything right that was wrong all this time. 

the reward in this life is not the struggle-less life. not avoiding suffering and heartache. if you're human you know this by now, suffering is for us all. like life and death, it escapes no one.
yet when we walk through suffering, we see him more clearly. we need him more.
this is so rich and so good and this is why i thank God for my suffering. for affairs and lost babies and special needs children and stubborn children and relational heartache and broken situations.

these are what usher me into the prescence of my God. brokeness and need. suffering and trials producing the richness of character and the Glory of Him who calls us.
and for having this thought i have been called crazy and also thought myself crazy. for a long time, i would only secretly thank God for heartache. 
but as i read further into that 1 peter 3 verse, i resonate with these thoughts:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

this is where joy comes from. real hope.
that we have a WHO that is the reward-- we already have the reward. however, we don't see him fully now. we are promised to see all of him later. and when we see him, we will know all the WHY's we long to know now. perhaps they will fade away in from seeing the edge of his garment.

HOW incredible and hopeful that we don't get to know all the answers now and how comforting that we can't! that brings rest to my soul because we are only going to have to live like this for a little while. that helps us look eternally. outward, not inward (which is our natural bend).
it is not WHAT we have or don't have in this life that will satisfy us. or WHERE we go looking to find those things...and we all go looking so hard for satisfaction. 

WHO not WHAT!

preach it to yourself. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

all the percents

layne had a little presentation to do last week for what was called "cultural day". basically, each child talked about where he or she comes from. of course it was in french so i had no idea what anyone was saying, except for little words like, saus-seege and I-reesh bread.
it was adorable. but let's get real, even if kids are giving presentations in english you can only understand a good 20% of what's going on. 

when i sat there, i couldn't help but be thankful for layne's teacher. it's important to note that at the beginning of the year, i disliked this teacher. like pretty hard core. so much so that i sent him a mean email that would be embarrassing to post here. no. let me stand in shame! one line stated, I find your red pen to be excessive in grading. Consider only marking the ones that are wrong.


his teacher is very firm. and calls the students to a standard that is difficult to adjust to- particularly for a child that comes from an unstructured mother... who is often reminded by her child that the project is due tomorrow. what?! i meanI know. i totally knew that. let's run to the craft store really quick like i planned to do. because i'm good at remembering, my child. 


when i met with the teacher to "throw punches", i realized he was a good man. he didn't do things like me and that was actually good(go figure!). my hands went from punching position to tear drying position. i was moved by his story, his passion for teaching, and his genuine love for my son.

my child who doesn't like to read turned into a reader this year. and i didn't know that a 2nd grader could do 5th grade math, but i guess they can. 
my math hater turned into a math lover. (at this point our math level is the same! seriously, only a few select can take college algebra 3 times in college. )

not because of me, but because of a man who believed that my child could learn to love learning. that's very humbling considering this year i've really struggled with sending layne to school all day to some stranger. i can do it better, right?  i need to be in control, right? 
but then i realize that i'm not. and that it is good-- yes, public schooling has been good. that we've had wonderful conversations about interactions with classmates that were hurtful or amazing...we've all been stretched in more ways than we can count. that stranger is a believer and God has been kind to put him in our lives.


all from a situation where i thought i knew best. (and did not)
i know we're talking about a 2nd grader but we're talking about me too. God provides in strange ways and answers prayers differently than i'd imagined because he understands the big picture. all the percents. i'm the one listening and watching God's performance and all i can understand is 20% (ok, fine, much less). he is baffling and amazing all at the same time. i look at mr. F and i see God's goodness and provision in a year full of questions rolling around in my heart.

dad: remember when you used to not like Mr. F?

layne: i really love him. i prayed for mr F to be less strict and it worked, dad! 

dad: do you think maybe God just changed your heart and made you love him?

me: remember how we pray in the morning for God to help you love mr.F like He loves mr. F?

layne: ya. WAIT, YA!  that's cool.

why does God even care? what must He be like?