But Jesus

Easter = Hope

Imagine a life without hope. 

You’ve got an addiction? Sucks to be you. Guess it will kill you in the end. 

Family dysfunction? Guess you got unlucky. Too bad. 

Fear is ruining  your ability to live a normal life? Oh well. 

You’ve got wounds from past trauma? That’s life. 

Incurable sickness? It was nice knowing you. 

Going to die soon? I guess that’s the end of your brief existence. 

There are two words in the Bible that one of our preachers pointed out was the most beautiful thing ever written…

But, Christ….

Lord. Savior. Messiah. Emmanuel…Jesus. But Jesus.

[Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,  and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

    because he has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

    and recovery of sight for the blind,

to set the oppressed free, 

    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:16-19

But, Jesus. 

I was stuck in my sin. Dead, unable to help myself in any way. But Jesus. 

I was damaged goods. But Jesus. 

I was lost. But Jesus. 

I was alone. But Jesus. 

My eternal soul was sentenced to hell. But Jesus.

Surely he took up our pain

    and bore our suffering,

yet we considered him punished by God,

    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

    each of us has turned to our own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all. 

Isaiah 53: 4-6

As we enter this Easter weekend may the Hope of the Lord fill your life. 

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10: 9-13

But Jesus. 

I was lost, but now I am found. I was dead. But now I am alive. I was depressed, anxious, alone, broken. Now, I am healed. Part of a heavenly family. Secure. 

But Jesus. 

Happy Easter everybody.

Merry Christmas!!

It’s Christmas Eve. It is rainy and now, finally, snowy here in East Tennessee. Kind of like wet rain-snow. Looks promising, but the ground is nowhere close to being frozen. But, it’s enough for the kids to proclaim that we’ve had a White Christmas. 

My husband isn’t working today so we had the rare privilege of sleeping in till 9am. Of course, we had kids running in and out of our room starting at 7am, but we had no pressing reason to jump out of bed and it was nice to Loll Around. 

I went and got my Christmas Dinner shopping done and my husband went and picked up my Christmas present which was a  brand new mattress and box springs. Our old ancient mattress and box springs were extremely well-used, broken from children jumping on it and the mattress had permanent dents which automatically rolled everyone into the middle. I am SO HAPPY to have a new mattress!!!!

We’ve made Christmas cookies, which this year were no-bake cookies and then melted chocolate which we dipped pretzels and store-bought cookies into and then covered them with sprinkles. Not fancy. Very easy. A little messy. Pretty much the level of fuss that I was up for this year. 

My older daughters are hanging out together in my living room, giggling and arguing over books and stories and who knows what else. Another group of kids are putting together a Charlie Brown Christmas Puzzle. Other kids are reading or running around. I’ve got the Carpenter’s Christmas Songs Album playing on our tv and there is a fire in the woodstove.  Not sure if it can get better than this. 

Of course, the day has had it’s sour moments. Me freaking out when all my kids descended on the melted chocolate and tried to dip pretzels all at the exact same moment and then someone knocked over a cup of water right into the middle of the chaos. Breaking up some fights between kids. The crazy puppy went and peed on my brand new rug. We’ve loaded the dishwasher twice and there are still dirty dishes. I mailed Christmas boxes to my son in Pennsylvania, paid extra money to get them there in plenty of time, and he still hasn’t received them. He said there’s a possibility someone stole them after they had been delivered. That has me bummed out. Earlier this week I cleaned out my purse and threw away all the extra papers, including the receipts with the tracking info for the boxes. Argh. I got news today that friends of ours have their whole family sick with Covid. We have another friend who is still in the ICU fighting Covid. 

The future still feels very shaky. This past year will probably take me years to fully process and recover from. I have been struggling to let go of the stress. But, in the last days, as I’ve managed to conquer my overwhelming TO DO lists and things have been checked off one by one, I have been able to relax. 

And now, I can take a little time to be thankful. Thankful that Jesus came to earth. That Mary and Joseph were willing to play their parts. Thankful that God decided to first tell the Shepherds about the birth. Those insignificant, lower class Shepherds who had no political power, no social position. Thankful that wise men from the East were adventurous enough and had faith enough to follow the star to Jesus. Thankful that this was only the beginning, that Jesus would grow to a man who loved everyone, who treated women with dignity, who touched the unclean, who healed the lowest in society. Someone who said, You are Seen, You are Valued, You are Loved, and finally, You have been Saved. 

May the God of all Comforts, comfort those who are mourning. May the God of Peace give you rest from worry. May Emmanuel, God with us, surround you with his presence.

Merry Christmas! 

Seeking Emmanuel in the Crazy

We had an amazing Christmas service with our church today. The story of Jesus, starting with creation, told throughout the earth’s history, ending with his resurrection, accompanied by beautiful music. During the service my shoulders lifted from stress that had been weighing them down. My anxious thoughts calmed and focused on this story that never grows old. 

I needed that church service to hit the reset button. 

I wish that I could tell you that I have risen above the stress of 2020 and the Christmas season,, and I am peacefully gliding through the crazy, prioritizing, putting people first over TO DO lists, remembering that Jesus is the Reason for the Season etc etc…But I’m actually not doing a very great job, in my own estimation. I have been snappy, irritable, not handling things well. My family is getting irritated at me. I’m getting irritated at me. The church service this morning was good. It restored some peace. But I am shocked at how quickly I step back into my irritable mode. Once a week doses of God’s presence aren’t enough. Once a day isn’t enough. I am needing a constant turning. A constant reminder that God is good. That Christmas is about celebrating Emmanuel, God with us, not about doing all the fun activities and getting all the best presents. 

I am obviously not writing this from a place of achievement or even a place of rest and peace. I am writing this from the perspective of a mom who is frazzled, worn out, wanting to make Christmas great for her kids, but is instead rushing and stressing. And I need Jesus. I need peace. I need a constant reminder that I am not alone, that loving my family is more important than making Christmas cookies just-so, or having the house clean at all times. I need a heavy dose of patience and perspective. 

I am writing some reminders on my hands. Emmanuel. Jesus is here with us, I am saved, never alone. Peace. Christmas traditions are not as important as loving your family. Everyone would prefer a calm mom rather than a mom who has done all the stuff. 

I am hoping that over the next week I will see the words on my hands often. I will stop yelling. I’ll take a deep breath. Walk away for a minute. Reset. Start again. 

We’ll see how it goes as I seek Emmanuel and his peace.

Post Christmas Blues

Holidays are strange things. The more you get hyped up about them, the lower you feel when they’re all over. Some article I read about emotional cycles said it was normal, if you have a big emotional high your emotions are going to swing low afterwards before they eventually even out again.

Christmas is a big high for me, an entire month of celebrating. Then Christmas night I feel that low feeling creeping in on me. What’s next? New Year. ugh. New Years for me is an odd mixture of disappointment as I look back at the past year and realize I didn’t accomplish half the goals I set out to accomplish, and then hope…maybe this next year will be better and I will finally make those positive changes to my life that I’ve been dreaming of for years.

Christmas night is also a good time to realize once again that: stuff doesn’t make us happy (as evidence, the kids still found something to fuss about); it’s really the people in our life that bring us joy (Christmas was fun because I was with my family); it’s more blessed to give than to receive (I think I had a lot more fun than my kids, just watching everyone open all the presents we got them); and in the end, we all need Jesus (as I felt the low encroaching on me, it was Jesus, not my new stuff or even my family that could calm my spirit and bring me peace again).

So, I”m going to end this with my cure for lowness. I’m going to be thankful. I am thankful that my husband and I had the resources to get our children gifts this year. I am thankful that my children put out effort on their own to get presents for each other. I am thankful my parents were able to come and spend time with us. I am thankful for my warm cozy house that has enough room for 10 kids. I am thankful for sparkly lights and candles and bright cheerful ornaments. I am thankful for my husband who worked alongside me Christmas Eve on all the last minute preparations even though he was burning up from a fever. And I am thankful for a grand big celebration of Jesus coming to earth. Thankful that he is Emmanuel, God with us. Thankful that Jesus is enough for my highs and my lows. Happy Post Christmas Everyone.