Do I Have a Servant Heart?

I read a difficult Bible passage this past week that has been stuck in my mind. 

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10

In our culture, reading anything about slaves tends to put my hackles up. Slavery is wrong. All men are created equally. We should be kind and considerate to everyone! I find it rather offensive to think about someone owning a slave, making them work out in a field all day and then making them come inside and have no rest and continue to serve their master. Is Jesus saying I should be a slave? That I am unworthy? 

Other Bible verses come to mind.  

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15: 15-16 

Not a servant. Friends. Chosen. 1 John 3:1 says that God loves us so much that we are called sons of God. Reading these other verses I don’t feel like my status with God is that of a lowly slave. 

As I’ve thought about the passage in Luke I’ve realized that it is a good measure of how much of a servant heart I have. How firmly embedded my pride and sense of entitlement are in my very nature. 

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 43-45

Yes, we are sons of God, Friends of Jesus. Chosen. Loved. But we are called to be like Jesus, and Jesus, despite being King of Kings, God, Creator, Ruler of all, he was a servant. And we’ve been called to be like Jesus and serve others. 

The other night I came home exhausted. Right after school I had to take two of my children to a location out West, thirty minutes away, and then after being there an hour and half, had to drive to another part of town to pick up another child from sports practice. I didn’t get home till 6:30pm and I had been driving in horrible rush hour traffic for over an hour. I had expected that my other family at home would have already eaten the supper I had left prepared for them. I anticipated just grabbing a plate of food for myself and being able to relax for a couple minutes. Instead, I walked in the door and found out that everyone else was waiting for me to get home before they ate. Nothing was set out. The table was littered with homework and toys and papers. Mess. I lost it. Had a total hissy fit. Much to the horror of my poor family who were simply anticipating a family meal together whenever I got home. Later, all I could think about was the passage in Luke and how far I was from having a true servant heart. Cause I had been working hard all day, and I wanted to come home and be served. Have some rest. Get some appreciation for how hard I had been working. And yes, there is a time and a place for rest and appreciation. But sometimes, everyone in the family has been working hard, everyone is exhausted, and what the family needs is someone to come in and patiently continue to serve. 

That is the heart I want to have. And sometimes I fail miserably. But I have to realize, having a servant heart is something I need Jesus to do inside of me. It’s not something I can get on my own. I hold to the promise that says,

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

I’m trusting that God will continue to soften my heart and teach me how to serve like Jesus. 

The Road to Peace and Calm

My oldest son enlisted in the army. He leaves tomorrow for basic training. Someone asked me how I felt about that. Proud. Hopeful. Scared. Worried. My list of WHAT IFS are pretty long. In the end, I have to believe that God has his hand on my son. Every once in a while though, I forget. Have a little freak out. Then take a deep breath and believe again. 

I had a birthday this week and I’ve been trying to do a little looking back at the last year. A little looking forward. Reflecting. I’m middish forties now. You know, I really had this belief that as you hit your middle years things would kind of calm down. Not pregnant and changing diapers. Not in the buying-a-home stage any more. My husband’s work and career are stable. I’m fully immersed in raising my children. We’ve been at the same church for years and years and love it. Life should be pretty smooth by now, right? 

Instead I am finding that the role of spectator to my adult children’s lives is a lot more tumultuous than I was anticipating. My husband has learned to ask me, “Do you want me to fix this or just listen?” And I find myself now, as a mom, no longer in the fix-it role for my adult kids, and just in the listen and support role. And so I stand on the sidelines and cheer and pray and try really hard not to worry. (Let me add that they are great kids, making good choices, it’s just really easy to worry.)

I will also add that taking on the role of foster mom has done nothing to make our lives peaceful. Probably the hardest part is, again, the fact that as a foster mom you don’t have a lot of control over the situation. Your job is to love and care for the child, but the child’s future is in the hands of lawyers and judges and bio-families. And you really want to fix-it: I’m going to decide what’s best and that is what we will do. But instead you are only called to support from the sidelines while others make the big decisions. 

Maybe the word I’m looking for here is Control. I think maybe I had this perception that as I got older I would have a lot more control over things. Control means no nasty surprises. It means things go the way you planned.  Calm. Smooth. 

Of course, probably not a lot of personal growth when you control everything. Looking back this past year, I can see a lot of pain. But I also see a lot of change and healing. Growth. I was put in a lot of places I didn’t want to be. As a result, I learned a lot more about forgiveness. Patience. Kindness. Grace. Self Control.

So here I am, middish forties. My son is going off to be a soldier. I have no control over this situation at all. But I’m going to learn a lot more about faith and prayer. Fostering. I can’t control the outcome, but I’m learning a lot more about how to love hurt people. Raising children. You want everything to work out perfectly for them, and it doesn’t. But you learn to trust that God loves them even more than you do and he has a plan. 

I want control because that seems like the path to peace and calm. But really, the path to peace and calm is faith in Jesus. My middle years are full of craziness, but I can also testify that my inner life is a lot more peaceful than when I was in my twenties. My faith is stronger. And I guess that’s the kind of peace and calm that I need. 

Cross Country Race

My son, who is a freshman, joined cross country running this year. He’s never run before. Our highschool does not have many sports teams, just cross country, track, bowling… We don’t have any sports fields. It’s a magnet school with a big academic focus. No loss for our family as we are not particularly athletically minded. But, I am proud of my son for making an effort to try something new and get involved in his new school. His coach told me that he would do great. Our team is usually last place and the focus is for each student to make personal improvements. Perfect. 

I went to my son’s second race this morning. It was at Johnson University. I took two other kids with me. We found the parking, walked across a big field carrying camp chairs. We found a place to set up and I pulled out my book to read while we waited for things to start. My other kids explored the area. The girls ran their race first. After we all watched them take off, I moved our chairs over closer to the finish line so we could see the end and encourage the runners. They had to make three one-mile loops, and the last leg was straight up a big hill. 

I am finding that I really like cross country as a sport for kids. When all the runners took off, you could quickly see who was leading the pack. For both the girls and boys race there was one runner who was far ahead of their peers and you knew they were probably going to win. And every time they passed our part of the track we cheered them on. Super impressive. Wow. But after maybe the first ten runners went by, the shift of the cheering changed. Now we were just cheering each runner that went past because we wanted to see them succeed in this goal they had set, to run three miles. 

There was this one older guy, wearing his school’s colors, leaning over the line, yelling encouragement to all the runners, especially his team. He knew all of them by name and he yelled at each one, COME ON!! KEEP IT UP! YOU CAN DO IT! DON’T LET THEM PASS YOU! PICK IT UP! KEEP GOING!! His tone was kind of rough, someone you would almost expect to be rude or belligerant, but he wasn’t. Everything he said was encouraging. Even when kids, not from his team, lagging far behind the others would pass by, he’d call them out by their team jerseys. COME ON CMA, YOU CAN DO IT! ALMOST THERE!! 

There was one boy there who was running with an older gentleman as his escort. I don’t know what his circumstances were, he came in next to last, but oh, how everybody cheered! He did it! He finished! Whatever his back story was, we had all just witnessed him achieve his goal. 

In the girls race about half the runners had crossed the finish line and this one girl came tearing up the hill, full out sprinting, giving it everything she got. Y’all, I got teary eyed. It was so inspiring. Was she going to win any recognition for crossing the line? Not really. She wasn’t even in the top twenty. But she was doing her best and putting all her effort into it. And that, to me, is just as much or more than any medals or ribbons.

I came away inspired. I’m running my race too. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the top ten or if I get any recognition for what I’m doing. It’s just giving it my best, pacing myself, knowing when to sprint and when to slow down. And knowing that the ultimate finish line is waiting for me one day and I plan on finishing strong. And I’m so thankful for my cheering squad that yells encouragement from the sidelines. And I hope I can be that cheering squad for others too. 

Onion Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

The other day I made blueberry muffins for breakfast. Not really as a treat, but more because I was out of cereal and bagels and I didn’t feel like making oatmeal. I started getting everything out and was almost instantly surrounded by children all wanting to “help”.

Ok.

Fine.

My three youngest hovered around me, fetching milk and eggs, holding the measuring cup while I poured stuff into it. Everyone wanted to stir. An argument broke out on who was going to lick the spoon. Usually, I dump a can of pumpkin into my muffins, but I suddenly remembered that I had a ziploc bag of shredded zucchini in the fridge that would go great in muffins. I grabbed the ziploc bag out of the fridge and started dumping it into the batter. 

There was an instant outcry.

What are you doing??? What is that?? Why are you putting it into the muffins!

And then a cry went out to all the other kids, MOM’S PUTTING WEIRD STUFF IN THE MUFFINS!! And then more kids gathered around to see what on earth mom was doing. 

Relax guys. It’s like zucchini bread. Remember zucchini bread?? It’s good. You like it. You won’t even taste it in the muffins.

Good grief. 

Ok, so that is what was coming out of my mouth. But in my head I was having a freak-out meltdown. Because, as I was dumping that zucchini in the batter I had got a strong whiff of onions. And I suddenly remembered that when I had been grating that zucchini in my food processor, the night before, I had been grating it in order to add it to soup. And I had also been processing onions. And I hadn’t bothered scraping out the food processor in between veggies, cause it was all going into the soup. Except I ended up with too much zucchini, so I just stuck the leftover into a ziploc, all mixed up with onions. And now I had just dumped zucchini/onions into my blueberry muffin batter. And I was now having to defend my choice loudly to my children. 

I always put some cinnamon sugar on top of the muffin batter before I bake it. 

Let me tell you, I heaped on the sugar this time. (Maybe if it’s super sweet, no one will taste onions??). 

I stuck those things in the oven and then went and collapsed in my room. Away from children. Feeling depressed. What a way to start the day. 

Mess up breakfast. 

Cause let me tell you, these kids were already feeling suspicious about the zucchini. They were already on hard-alert, ready to find anything wrong that they could. And now there was actually something wrong to find. 

The timer finally went off and I pulled my beautiful onion zucchini blueberry muffins out of the oven. They looked delicious. I sent off a heartfelt prayer. Lord, you are a miracle worker and your miracles don’t have to be big and extravagant. Could you please, just let these muffins taste fine and not taste like onions??? 

And prayers were answered. They tasted great. The kids loved them. They went back for thirds. 

And now you are probably feeling very hesitant to eat anything I make. And all I can say about that is, you’re probably right to be cautious. 

Follow me for more creative ways to mess up when cooking. 

Sleeping on the Boat

I have a problem with worrying. I latch onto something. Worry it to death, until finally enough time has passed that it is no longer an issue. I take a deep breath of relief. Then I look around and pick up another problem that I can worry about. It has occurred to me that unless something changes, I will be doing this the rest of my life. I can’t relax until this problem is solved. I can’t relax until I know that this is going to be ok. I’ll feel better once I know this problem has been fixed. 

I will never run out of problems to worry about. There will always be another problem waiting patiently for me. There will never be a time when I can just sigh and say, finally, all my problems have disappeared.

Now, in my defense, some of these problems are big whoppers. Giant problems. Anyone else faced with these problems would be just as down and worried as I am. They’re not things I can just shrug off as inconsequential. They are huge. In fact, I’ve got one of those giant worries facing me right now. 

My brain works really hard to fix these things. It plays out every single scenario it can think of. What if it turns out like this? What about that? What about if this happens instead? And I guess that’s probably a form of trying to have control over the situation. If I fully understand every single nuance and variation of the problem, maybe it won’t be so scary and overwhelming? 

I woke up at 5am this morning. My brain instantly focusing onto my problem and worrying it to death. And I could feel myself panicking. And I suddenly remembered a picture my daughter painted.

She called it, sleeping on the boat with Jesus. And I was reminded again. Keep my eyes on Jesus, not the storm. He’s in control. He’s got this. Just focus on him. 

I was thinking about that more this morning and I also remembered the scene from the movie, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies where the bowman shoots the dragon, using his son’s shoulder as support for his arrow. His son is freaking out and he calms him by reminding him to look at his father, not the dragon or the destruction around him. Look at me. 

I was reminded again how much I and my family are loved by God. He’s got this. He’s in control. Just focus on him. The storm rages around us, but we are safe. 

I know I’ve written about worry before. I learn how to let it go. And then I forget and get right back into the habit again. So, this is my timely reminder. Again. Worry does nothing. Doesn’t fix it. Doesn’t make me feel better. And I’m never going to run out of things to worry about. So, might as well enjoy my day, choose peace. Keep my eyes focused on the only one who has the power to fix the problems that surround me. Trust him. And take a little nap on the boat.

The Sufferings of Christ

It’s been a long, painful week. Stuff happened. As it seems want to do. 

I live in my imagination a lot, and what I imagined at the beginning of the week was myself, a gunshot wound to my chest, bleeding all over, entering into the throne room of God and just collapsing on the floor in front of him. No words to say. Just, here I am. Here’s what shape I’m in.  And while I was laying there imagining this, the phrase that came to my mind was, “Enter into the sufferings of Christ”. 

I’ve been thinking about that phrase all week. My imaginary hole in my chest has been bound, wrapped up in bandages. Healing medicine poured over it. I’m still walking slowly and carefully, feeling very fragile, but I’m whole. And I keep circling back. What does that mean? Why do I have to enter into the sufferings of Christ? What is the point? 

My prayer over the years has been, make me more like you Jesus. More of you, less of me. I admit, when I say that, what I mean is, I want to be more loving, more patient, more kind, more selfless, etc. I was not thinking of these verses from Isaiah 53, verse 3 and 4:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Familiar with pain. Took up our pain. Bore our suffering. 

No, I was definitely not thinking about that when I said I wanted to be more like Jesus. 

My husband and I have done some soul searching this week. Questioning some of our choices. If a choice leads to pain and suffering then it has to be wrong, right? But I keep coming back to the fact that we made these choices because we felt it was an obedience to God and what the Bible teaches. And it still led to suffering. And that kind of hurts the brain.  

Enter into the sufferings of Christ. In doing this, does this mean that I am becoming more like Jesus? Not only sharing in his joy and love but in his pain and suffering?

When I hit my crisis it wasn’t long before I turned to one of my friends for help and comfort. And yes, she’s a close friend so I would have turned to her first anyway, but it was so much more meaningful because I knew she had been in a similar situation to mine. She could empathize and give good counsel. She had already suffered through this and could meet me exactly where I was at. And she was kind of a physical Jesus to me in my sufferings. Only possible because she had suffered herself. Does suffering make us more able to be the hands and feet of Jesus? 

Through all of this, I can testify. God is faithful. He heals the brokenhearted. He breathes hope on my soul. When I am at my lowest, I find his presence the strongest. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to whisper scripture in my ear that has kept me from falling into anger or judgement. 

Funnily enough, God was gracious enough to allow me to get Covid this week. Yeah, who needs covid? But, because of that I have been able to cancel a multitude of appointments, completely clear my schedule and just have time to rest and process. I’m still getting better, but my husband only had to take one day off to take care of the kids and household before I had enough energy to cover the basics again. 

Enter into the sufferings of Christ. I’m still figuring out what this means, but what I do know is that it is a journey that makes me more like Him. And that is what I want. 

I’m Back!

Hi Everyone. I’m back. I think. I ended up taking an unplanned break from writing. I think the easiest explanation is that my writing is all about telling you what is going on in my life and how I’m dealing with it and this summer the things I was dealing with were not shareable. They were too tangled up with other people’s lives for me to freely tell you what was going on. But, I can testify that God is faithful. I went through a season of healing and forgiveness and I also went through a David and Goliath type trial where God, as always, proved greater than the giant facing me. 

To catch you up a bit on our family news, all of my kids have moved to new schools. That was a miracle in itself as God opened doors for each one of my kids to be able to go to a better situation. It’s been pretty hectic as we’ve been trying to learn new schedules and routines, but I think we are finally over the hump and the kids all feel settled and are very happy in their new schools. 

This is the first year that all of my kids are at school for the whole school day. I’m not homeschooling anyone. My oldest daughter at home is taking college classes so her schedule is a little more loose and I see her occasionally throughout the day, but I’m not actively taking care of anyone at the house. I’ve had a lot of people say, “What are you going to do with yourself?” I am getting more and more excited as I ponder this question. 

Let’s see. I’m going to actually have time to take care of my home. Maybe I’ll do some meal planning and actually start cooking more difficult meals that take longer than 30 minutes to prepare. Maybe I’ll actually dust my house. Organize some spaces that are out of control. Maybe I’ll do some knitting and sew some curtains. Maybe I can take time to take a walk every day again. Maybe I can work through a Bible Study. Maybe I can get some rest so that when I’m with my kids I’m not a stressed out wreck. Maybe I can start meeting my husband for lunch and we can get some couple-time again. Maybe I’ll have time to actually take an interest in what’s happening in my yard and I could actually do a little landscaping. Who knows. 

Yesterday I went to the zoo and took a long walk. We have a family zoo pass and the zoo is within walking distance of my house. I found myself grinning as I walked. I had time to stop and enjoy seeing the animals and all the beautiful plants and landscaping the zoo has. Usually when I’m at the zoo it’s a full-on marathon as I try to keep my eyes on all the kids and keep everyone happy and safe. As I was walking I felt like I had just been dragged out of the ocean where I had been barely keeping my head above water and now I was on land and just sitting taking in large gulps of air. It felt like I was getting my margins back. I’ve been living full-tilt, giving everything I’ve got for so long. It feels surprising and wonderful to suddenly have some time to myself where I can just be. Where I can do something I enjoy and not have to focus on making sure everyone else is enjoying themselves. 

This does not mean I’m sitting around eating bon bons and watching soap operas. I do have ten people in my home that I’m still taking care of and three adult kids I’m keeping tabs on. It just feels like, instead of having three full-time jobs, now I just have two. Or two and half. 

I’m about to get up and clean my house and wash dishes and fold laundry. But I’m going to put on a podcast that I want to listen to. Maybe blast some Mozart. Play the piano a bit. And I’m going to breathe deep breaths and bask in silence. And just be thankful. 

Morning Glories

My daughter wrote a story about someone who sinks into deep depression and then slowly, slowly, pulls out of it. And the story uses the Morning Glory flower as a symbol of hope. When I read the story I found myself sobbing, recognizing myself in the main character. Finally acknowledging the numbness that had taken over my life, which I had grimly tried to ignore as I pushed through each day, determined to not let my family down. And I was filled with a tiny spark of hope. Yes, you can pull yourself through. Depression does go away. Life returns. 

Since I’ve read that story I have been seeing Morning Glories everywhere. As I was driving down the road to take my kids to school, there, look, Morning Glories covering a fence. Hope. As I took a walk, there, look, Morning Glories in the neighbor’s yard. Hope. And yesterday when I found myself actually having the motivation to get out into my yard with my kids, play with them, plant some things, I found Morning Glories in the very back corner of the yard, a place I usually don’t go. And I laughed and took a picture and I knew that it was no longer a spark, but a full blown flame. Hope. 

I went on a retreat several weeks ago. During the retreat I dealt with some old wounds. Or at least, started dealing. And I found myself feeling emotions again. Sure, it was anger and pain, but I was feeling again. I read somewhere that in order to feel joy and happiness we have to allow ourselves to feel anger and pain. When we stuff the bad emotions we end up in a place where all our emotions are flat. We can’t have the good without letting ourselves feel the bad too. As I have allowed myself to process the hard emotions, I have found the lighter ones returning. 

After the retreat I felt myself going silent. I needed a break from words, from thoughts, from interacting with people. I needed to just sit and feel and mourn and heal. And that’s why there haven’t been any new blogs in a while. I didn’t let it bother me. I knew the words would come back when I was ready. And this morning I felt the familiar itch to put my thoughts down where I could see them. And it’s good to be writing again. 

We’ve had a lot going on in the family the last couple months. Made some big decisions about our kids’ schooling. My third child graduated high school. We got to have a mini family reunion as I had all my kids in one place for the graduation. And now summer is going full force as I try to keep track of everyone’s summer plans with kids going in all directions. I am living one day at a time. Welcoming joy back into my life. Keeping an eye out for Morning Glories. And, as always, resting in the fact that God is good. 

A God Who Weeps

I heard a recent discussion asking the question of how we can come across as less judgemental and more accepting of people. How do we communicate to people that we accept them as they are and their past sins and mistakes do nothing to make us love or like them less? This is a really important question for the church as we have developed a reputation for judgement and disapproval. 

This morning in church we sang “Son of Suffering” by Bethel Music. There’s a line of the song that says, “There’s a God who weeps”. As I was singing the song this morning all I could see was the retreat I had attended the week before. It was a story retreat where a group of women gathered to share key stories from their past that shaped their beliefs and who they became. And hopefully, as the story was discussed in a safe setting, found freedom from lies, and healing from old wounds. (Think really intense group therapy.)

If I had to point at the most meaningful moment of the retreat it was when I cried and all the women in my group cried with me. And I think of that line again. “There’s a God who weeps”. 

I spent a weekend with a group of women that were almost all total strangers to me. And we shared things that revealed our true hearts and who we really were. And I didn’t feel judged. I didn’t feel unsafe. I didn’t feel the need to hide my wounds and mistakes. The reason I didn’t feel that way was there were rules laid out from the very beginning to keep it a safe space. The stories we discussed stayed in the group time and didn’t leave that space. I didn’t have to worry about someone coming up to me and starting a conversation I didn’t want. No fixing or unsolicited advice allowed. And, I knew that each of these women were coming out of a genuine need and desire to be there and we all had the same mission, do this story work in a safe space. We were all dedicated to this. And as we did the work, God moved in and mighty things happened, in the form of tears and nonjudgemental love being poured out. And when I left, I knew I had been on Holy Ground and I had no fear of these women betraying my trust. 

And I think about the church and all that it has the potential to be. All that Christ wants it to be. Why is it not a safe space? Why do we have to worry about gossip? Why do we have to worry about someone looking down on us if they truly knew everything we had done or what we were really like? Are we not all sinners? Don’t we all have hidden things we would rather not come to light? 

I can think of a couple things that are missing that give our churches a judgemental, unsafe status. Gossip is the first thing that comes to mind. If your favorite activity is to talk about other people and everything that is happening in their lives then you need to realize that you are not a safe person. There are so many things to talk about. Your own life. The news. The weather. The latest book/movie/tictoc/reel/show that you have seen or read. If you can’t think of anything to talk about except other people, then perhaps it’s time to start some new hobbies and expand your interests. If I know that what I tell you is going to be passed on to someone else, then I’m going to be very guarded about what I tell you. 

Another thing that comes to mind is Judging Talk. That’s where you sit around and talk about all the big sins that are out in the world and how you would never participate in such horrible things. Let’s think anything LGBTQ, abortion, being a democrat (if you live in the south), anything controversal like vaccinations, to wear a mask or not to wear a mask, the presidency. Basically any topic where you are setting up a GOOD GUYS vs BAD GUYS scenario. You have no idea what the other person’s history is or their personal thoughts on all these subjects. And when you decide to lay down the line on these subjects you are instantly putting up a wall that will separate you from anyone who thinks differently than you. Is there a right and a wrong? Yes. I believe the Bible is pretty clear on a lot of subjects. And not so clear on a lot of subjects too. As a Christian our job is to introduce people to Jesus. It’s Jesus’ job to convict people of sin and lead them to repentance. Not mine. My job is to love people and follow God’s word as best as I am able and let my life be an example to people who are younger in the faith. 

I feel like we have forgotten that the Church belongs to Jesus. It’s his. He wants to do his work in our gatherings. His agenda. We need to get rid of a lot of cultural baggage, stick to the word and let the Holy Spirit move as He wants to move. We get in the way of the mission of the church when we gossip, when we judge, when we put our political agendas first. 

I serve a God who weeps. A God who enters into my pain and who cares about the burdens I am carrying around. He is a God who brings me to a safe place, surrounds me with love, and pours healing on my wounds. I know that the experience I had on my retreat is not really replicable in a larger church setting.  I also know that church could be a lot more like that if we all had the same mindset and determination to make our churches a safe place where broken people can come and be loved without fear of judgement. 

Failing? Still Loved.

Last night I had one of my music major nightmares, leftover from many years past. In the dream here was a big concert hall, full of people. A large stage, all lit up. A grand piano sitting empty, waiting. And my music teacher from college was standing in the wings, ushering me forward to go and perform my piece. Except I couldn’t remember what piece I was supposed to play and even when I looked at the program and saw the name, I had no memory of ever learning this piece. I was going to be made to perform and I was going to fail. 

This seems to be a theme that haunts me all the time. 

I have really been struggling with depression. All motivation seems to be gone. I do the necessary things that have to be done, but nothing extra. This weekend was really hard. I hit Saturday and just getting myself to eat some breakfast and get dressed felt like a major ordeal. I texted my husband to tell him that my ability to accomplish any tasks seemed to have left me. He suggested I take the day off and just not do anything. Which sounded great. Except it was Easter weekend and I had to get everything ready. Does everyone have an outfit to wear? Easter goodies. Easter dinner. Get the house cleaned up, family are coming. Try to get everyone’s schedules lined up. 

Just a lot to do. 

I ended up going to the store with three children in tow and I managed to get everything on the list, but the trip was really stressful. One kid wandered off and I spent ten minutes looking for him. Another kid was being impossible to please. I went through the self checkout  and then in the middle of all that had my blood sugar bottom out on me, which hasn’t happened in a long time. So I was quickly trying to finish checking out and pay so I could rip open some of the food packages that I had bought and eat something and get my blood sugar back under control. By the time I got home I felt like a failure. Bad attitude. Disorganized. The whole trip felt like a disaster. And my brain was just repeating that word over and over again. Failure. Failure. 

I’m not usually that mean to myself and so I made an effort to fight back. You know what, I went to the store. I didn’t want to go. I just wanted to sit in my chair and do nothing. But I went. And it was really hard, but I accomplished what I set out to accomplish. 

Not a failure. 

And telling myself that I’m not a failure feels like a victory in itself. Yay self-esteem! Yay positive thinking!  But I had an interesting thing happen last week that felt like it took this lesson a little deeper. 

I mentioned in my last blog that Child Services showed up to my house last week. I had done nothing wrong. The Social worker said I did nothing wrong. Case closed. She left. I was shaking, I was so upset. Self-righteous anger running through me. Praying out loud. Jesus, you know I’ve done nothing wrong. And it was true. In this scenario I was innocent. But suddenly I had a flashback of other times I’ve really blown it as a parent. My oldest kids saw me make a lot of mistakes. Not so innocent. And I felt like I heard Jesus whispering, even if you were guilty of anything and everything, I still love you the same. My love doesn’t change based on what you do. 

And that’s the lesson I am trying to grasp. Failure. Not a failure. It doesn’t matter. I am still loved.