It’s Urgent!

My house is clean. Upstairs and Downstairs. I am running the last two loads of laundry and once those are folded, I will be completely caught up on my laundry. The dishes are washed too. I know what I’m cooking for supper tonight. All the pets are cared for, and even my front porch is picked up. 

 

You might be wondering why. It is only Tuesday after all. I’m not entertaining tonight.

 

Well, I would say it has a lot to do with the fact that I have three new children. Since they have moved in, I have felt a driving need to keep everything clean and organized. Way too many people here to have it be messy. But, aside from that, I have been feeling a sense of Urgency. I don’t have time to waste. The kids are at school. Lets get these chores done now, because when they get home, they are going to be wanting, and demanding my full attention. I need to spend this evening reading books aloud, not cleaning up my kitchen. I need to have a plan for supper because I’m going to be asked “What are you making for supper?” and the fact that I have an answer is going to bring a sense of security and safety. 

 

As I am realizing how tenuous foster situations are, I am feeling a sense of urgency. I don’t know how long I have. How much love and stability can I cram in the time that I do have? 

 

The sad thing is, why haven’t I had this sense of urgency all along? I only have a limited time with my own children after all. I know this is true as I have already launched two children from my home. Time is of the essence. 

 

It took a major life change to help me remember just how precious time is, and how little of it we actually have. And how I need to be using the time I have to the best of my abilities, instead of lagging around saying, I’ll finish that task tomorrow, there’s no rush, I’ve got time. 

 

A couple weeks ago I had a startling dream. In my dream Jesus came back. For those of you who aren’t overly familiar with the Christian Faith, Jesus coming back is the Grand Finale. It’s what we’ve all been waiting for since he returned to heaven 2,000 years ago. It’s what scripture has told us to be anticipating. In fact, I found this quote, “One out of every twenty-five verses in the New Testament refers either to the rapture of the church or to Christ’s coming to reign over the world (cf. Jesse Forrest Silver, The Lords Return, p. 29).”

It’s pretty important. 

 

So, I had this dream. And I remember what stood out the most was this feeling of, “Ok. That’s it. Game over…Now what’s going to happen?”  I thought about the dream here and there, then about two days ago, there was this crazy loud noise, it sounded almost like a ram’s horn being blown and it was going on and on and on. And I was walking around my house, looking out windows, checking devices, trying to figure out where this sound was coming from. Again, my thoughts jumped to Second Coming…Is this it? Is Jesus about to show up? The sound eventually stopped, but I found it amusing that once again my thoughts were on Jesus coming back. Especially since this is not something I usually think about a whole lot. 

I don’t think that these dreams and thought patterns are supposed to mean that I am soon going to pin down a nearby date when Jesus is definitely going to return. But, I think having a spirit of expectancy, and even urgency about Jesus’ return is important. 

 

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” 

 

Jesus not only saves us from the debt of our sin, but he’s also got stuff laid out for us to do while we are here on earth. And we actually have a limited time to do it in. For most of us, that time will be cut short when we die, not with Jesus showing up in the clouds. But, no matter how it’s cut short, the fact remains, our time is limited. 

 

All those good ideas of how we can serve others, help the people around us…we need to get moving on them. Not just sit around thinking, there’s no rush, I’ll do it later, I’ve got plenty of time. 

 

May we all live our lives with a sense of urgency. Our time is short. 

 

“Hillbilly Elegy” and Jesus

I’ve been reading a new book, “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance. It is a memoir of growing up a hillbilly and a commentary on the working white class from Appalachia. 

 

I just went and read several reviews of the book, now that I have finished it. I find it very amusing that I was completely unaware that this book was actually a cultural phenomenon to explain why Trump was elected. I was also unaware that it is a Pro-Republican book and that a multitude of Universities across the country chose this book for their summer reading, and apparently that choice shows how racist and conservative these Universities are. I found it especially amusing to read a review from someone who actually lives in Eastern Kentucky Hillbilly Country who claims that since Vance did not technically live in Eastern Kentucky, he had no lawful claim to the title “Hillbilly”.  (I find this amusing because I was born in Eastern Kentucky, and all the years I lived there, it was always made very clear to me that I was “Not From Around Here”.)

 

So, in my ignorance, I thought it was a book about a boy growing up in a poor, dysfunctional family and an attempt to pinpoint what things in his childhood actually enabled him to rise above this upbringing and end up doing well for himself. And at the same time, an attempt to understand why his particular culture (hillbilly) is the way that it is. 

 

I’m not going to even attempt to analyze this book in it’s political context. I’ll just tell you what I took away from it. Dysfunction is everywhere. People do crazy things. It doesn’t make sense. The dysfunction and craziness affects a child’s ability to grow up into a stable adult. Some kids can be helped. Others can’t. So far, we don’t have any way of measuring who is going to “make it” and who isn’t. Though we can statistically say that the majority of children growing up in dysfunction will take that lifestyle into their adulthood. 

 

So, what do we do? What should our response be to such gloomy news? 

 

This week I read some interesting verses in Luke 6.  Here’s what verses 30-31 say:

 

Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”

 

I remember when I was 20 years old. I was living in Haiti for four months, staying with friends. I went out with an old childhood friend of mine and we were walking through the marketplace in Cap Haitian and an elderly man approached me and asked for money. I brushed him off and kept walking. My friend confronted me. Why didn’t you give him any money? You have money! What would it have hurt to give him some? 

 

I was shocked. Having grown up in Haiti, being surrounded by people begging any time you went out in public, I had adopted the habit of just saying no. There were too many people to help. I didn’t have enough money to give to every single beggar, so I simply didn’t give to any of them. My friend’s accusation was a jolt to my system. Maybe my approach was wrong? 

 

Shortly after this I went to Chile for 5 months to stay with my brother, sister-in-law and their new baby. Chile also has a multitude of beggars. As I went out with my brother, I watched as he gave something to every single child that approached him. He commented that he had been convicted that he should give to anyone who asked him. I decided that I too wanted to be like that, and I adopted the habit of giving to anyone who asked me. 

 

Over the years there has been the occasional person I have said No to, simply because I felt very much like I was being “handled” by a professional and I hated the feeling of being taken advantage of. But, later, after walking away…I have always felt bad. I am not called to decide whether someone is worthy of my charity. I’m just called to freely give. 

Yes, there have been situations when I have helped someone and then they have continued to ask for help and continued and continued to the point where I felt like if I helped them in the way they were asking, I would simply be enabling them. In those situations I have said, No, I can’t give you money, but I can help you with something more longterm like getting a job or finding housing or enrolling in school.

 

Taking this back to the “Hillbilly Elegy”. We are surrounded by people who have been or are being harmed by living in a dysfunctional home. Some of those people will respond well to help, whether it be mentoring, counseling, encouragement, opportunities, education…others will not respond well. No matter what help they get, they will remain stuck. So, what should our response be? Well, Jesus said to help everyone. He didn’t give any addendums over whether that person was worthy of help, or whether it would be a waste of time to help, or whether that person was a lost cause. He just said to help people.

 

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6: 35-36.

 

So, that is my take away. This is a crazy world, full of hurting people who simply aren’t making it. All I can do, and what I am called to do as as Christian, is help wherever and however I can. 

 

Surprise!

Well, we’ve had a lot going on at our house since I last wrote. Two days ago I suddenly acquired a sibling group of three more children into my family. Six days before Christmas.  

 

Surprise! 

 

First, let me say that I am very humbled that God and all the powers that be were willing to entrust me with these children. Second, it’s absolutely terrifying. You want me to do what??? I have spent a lot of time on my face before God (mentally, because I’ve been too busy running around doing everything that has to be done), and he has showed up in a very big way. 

 

The first night we had the kids, I couldn’t sleep. My brain was too busy making lists of everything we needed to get these kids settled in AND have Christmas ready for the WHOLE household. I finally gave up on sleeping and moved into the living room, got the fire going in the fireplace, snuggled up on the couch and just let my brain do it’s thing. As I finished making up my lists I told God that I needed him to Provide in a really BIG, EXTRAVAGANT way. 

 

Twenty four hours later, almost everything on the list has been checked off. 

 

And how did God achieve this? Well, he used my family and friends and church. As I have reached out to ask for prayer and tell people what is going on, the overwhelming response has been, yes, we will pray…what can we physically do for you? And I have been able to resist the urge to think, I can do this, I don’t want to bother people asking for help, and instead I’ve been able to say, This is what I need…thank you for helping. 

 

And this is what Christmas is all about. Jesus came to earth as a baby, he paid the price for our sin and he has given us all that we need so that we can learn to be like him. The God of love. Love God, love each other. Not just mushy sentimental love, but physical, something you can touch, love. What are your physical needs? Let me help you. 

 

I am just at the beginning of this wild ride and would appreciate prayer for our family as we walk this new road. 

 

Life is full of surprises. 

 

I hate you…Merry Christmas!

So, I’ve decided every holiday season needs at least one blog to point out the underbelly of Season’s Greetings. Today is the day of the Heneise Family Christmas Party. If you didn’t get an invitation, consider yourself invited and come on over. I love this tradition. One of my girls asked me, rather annoyed because she is having to do a lot of cleaning today…Why do we always have a Christmas Party??? I said it’s because Christmas is about family, and since we don’t have a lot of family living close by, our friends are our family. And this is an opportunity to get together with them at least once during the Christmas Season. 

 

She harrumphed. 

 

If you can’t tell, attitudes haven’t been the best today. My kids love having a party, but they hate getting ready for a party. It involves cleaning, and deep cleaning, and decluttering, and picking up things that we usually ignore. Wiping down surfaces we usually leave for later. Then there is also the maintenance of the Said Cleaning. I JUST VACUUMED THAT COUCH!! GET OFF IT!!! 

 

The kids, already feeling put upon for having to clean, are taking it out on each other. I hate you! You’re stupid! I wish you weren’t here! And other horrible things that I don’t allow my children to say to each other, have been said today. I have had some rather uncomplimentary thoughts about some of my children as well, though at least I managed to keep it to myself. 

 

My husband told me yesterday that he was going to devote the whole day today to helping me get ready. I envisioned him washing some dishes and running a vacuum. This morning he announced he was going to clean the basement (???) and fix the two holes in my floors that have needed repairing for months. 

 

Ok.

 

Not exactly what I had in mind. 

 

But, the holes did need fixing, and apparently cleaning the basement was tied into fixing holes in the floor.

 

Ok. Give me a minute to readjust my expectations. 

 

Now, in a couple hours, people will start showing up and we’ll forget about cleaning the house and we’ll settle in to just having fun with friends. MERRY CHRISTMAS! PEACE ON EARTH! 

 

So, are we all raging hypocrites? Hateful one minute, sweet and nice the next? Or maybe being hypocritical is just part of human nature.  A human nature that we all need to be saved from. A human nature that was completely lost in it’s sinfulness and yet Jesus decided to give us value to the point that he was willing to come to earth and make the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be saved from this sinful human nature. 

Christmas…Emmanuel…God with us. 

 

I have believed in Jesus, decided to follow him. My sins are forgiven. But I still have this sinful human nature. I will spend my whole life learning how to be more like Jesus. Sometimes I’ll do really well. Like today! The meanest thing I said was, YOU GUYS STINK AT CLEANING! Which is mild compared to some of the verbiage that was being slung around. But then, there are days where I completely step out of grace and wallow in my sinful nature. 

 

So, really, I hate you…Merry Christmas… is completely appropriate for this time of year.  I hate you: I’m not the best person. I say and do bad things. Merry Christmas: that’s why Jesus came! We can devote an entire month to celebrate that we have a Savior now who wants to rescue us from ourselves. 

 

Let’s have a Chat!

Hey Everybody. It’s Tuesday and it is apparently time for me to write my blog. And I’m not feeling it. Sometimes this blog feels narcissistic. It’s time to write about ME again. Uggh. 

 

So, let’s make this about someone else tonight. How are you all doing? How is life out in internet world? Are you crashing at the end of the day and seeking some mindless relaxation on Facebook? Right now I am sitting in my little boys’ room, waiting for them to go to sleep. It’s Andy’s night off and I am solo parenting. 

 

How are you coping with the holidays? Are they a fun-filled nostalgic time for you or are they a non-stop hectic, stressful race to the end? I seem to seesaw back and forth on that one. I am trying to have a slow, peaceful holiday month, but life keeps interrupting. 

 

How are you feeling with the shorter days and winter weather? (If that applies to you, maybe it’s summer in your part of the world.) For me, I love winter, but the cold weather gets to me. Maybe because my kids don’t want to be out in the cold, so then they’re running around the house, shooting nerf bullets at each other, or literally, climbing the walls, trying to see if they can make it up to the ceiling. 

 

How’s your peace doing? Is all right with the world or does everything feel out of whack? Me? Well, I’m in that interesting place where everything is out of whack, but despite that, I’m at peace and can feel God’s presence in all the craziness. So, I guess it’s good. I’ll tell you what, Jesus is the only one that can do that for me! I hope that you can find peace in your craziness too. Cause, if I’m being realistic, there probably isn’t anyone of you out there that doesn’t have some level of craziness going on. 

 

How are your dreams coming along? It’s taken me years to even give myself permission to have dreams. For a while there, just taking care of little kids was so overwhelming, I did not have any time for dreams. It’s not a great place to be. Feels a bit dead. I’ve been trying to let myself dream again. One dream is to be a full-time piano teacher. I had four piano students this school semester and it was really fun. We had a little recital of sorts last night and it felt good to see how well they did. It’s a small dream, but I’m taking steps towards it and that is nourishing to the soul. I hope you can find a way to, first of all, have a dream, and second of all, pursue it in small ways tucked here and there in your busy life. 

 

Let’s see, we’ll just skip politics. And sports. Read any good books lately? I found a new author I like, recommended by a friend, Amy Harmon. Fluffy, funny, PG, but also some stuff to think about. Just what I’m looking for right now. I’ve also been reading 1,2, and 3rd John, in the Bible. I found 1 John to be very comforting for my perfectionist self. I am never sure if I’m doing enough, being enough, striving enough etc. And the main point I took away from the book was, Obey Jesus’ commands. This is his command. Love God, Love People. The End. And that doesn’t seem too burdensome. It seems like a joyful task, not a hard chore. And it also feels like a load of expectations dissolves off my shoulders every time I read it. Good stuff. 

 

Well, if you were sitting right in front of me, this is about the time I would start digging for the nitty gritty stuff, how are the relationships in your life? How are you feeling about yourself? How’s your spiritual life? What’s making you happy these days? What’s dragging you down? 

 

So, you should come on by when you can, sit at my kitchen table, where the kids will run around us, kind of like a rock sticking out of the current in a river. We’ll drink some hot tea, I’ll dig up some cookies, or carrot sticks, depending on where you are at with your diet, and we can chat (with plenty of interruptions, but it won’t matter!). 

 

Good night friends, let’s talk again soon!

 

I’m not dead yet

So, this happened last night. 

broken

I’m typing one-handed so this is going to be short. Life has been tossing some curve balls. This happened at the end of yesterday, the day I dealt with head lice, my husband’s resignation from his job, and trying to keep track of a traveling older child who was going cross-country. Throw in a couple other major headaches I won’t mention, and that sums up Esther’s not-so-great, not-so-wonderful, drama-filled day (to paraphrase the children’s book).

 

As I was fretting, I imagined myself on a wind-tossed sea, drowning. Kind of like Peter trying to walk on the water. And I was reminded that, like Peter, I just needed to keep my eyes focused on Jesus. 

 

So, that’s what I’m trying to do. 

 

Being thankful helps. I’m thankful my parents came today so I could go to the clinic and get my wrist fixed up. I’m thankful for prescription strength lice shampoo. I’m thankful for a gift card from a friend that let Andy and I have a date night last night. And thankful for teens that can babysit. I’m thankful for safe travels for my oldest. Thankful for my old purple house and all the crazy life it holds. Thankful for groceries in my fridge and the violet night sky. Thankful for my blog. Thankful for my friends. I hope that all you readers can have an equally thankful, blessed evening.

 

 

Thinking About Heaven

Today I was sorting clothes in my room, finishing up the great Seasonal Clothes Exchange, and I was bored, so I decided to listen to something off of Youtube on my phone. I normally don’t do this because I usually have so many interruptions that it’s impossible to really listen to something properly, but the kids had friends over, they were all playing outside, and I decided to chance it. I randomly decided to look for something by Tim Keller. I found an interesting sermon on heaven and settled in to enjoy it. One thing he said really stood out to me. He was saying that heaven is all about God’s presence. That’s the whole thing. Being in God’s presence. He said that people have criticized him for claiming that the only way to heaven is through Jesus, and he pointed out the question, Why would you want to go to heaven if you’re not in love with Jesus? Heaven is all about being with him! 

 

I really had to sit with that thought. If you’re not in love with Jesus, then you’re not going to like heaven. Cause it’s all about him. 

 

A couple weeks ago I was driving to another city in the car, solo road trip. I had a lot of time to just think. I was listening to the Christian radio and the song, “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercyme came on. I love that song. It is essentially just imagining what it will be like when we get to heaven and see Jesus.  I was singing along and wondering myself, what will I do when the time comes? And then I thought about my children. And it was almost a fierce thought. My children must go to heaven too. I don’t know if it could be heaven if my children weren’t there. And I had this realization that if God had created some kind of system where we could barter our way into heaven, I would have unhesitatingly bartered my own soul to make sure my children made it into heaven. I love them that much. And I was thinking these fierce thoughts, and it was like Jesus just whispered, That’s how I feel about you. I wanted you in heaven so much that I came and died on the cross. And it suddenly occurred to me, That’s how Jesus wants us to feel about everybody. He wants us to love everybody with that fierceness that says, They’ve got to be there too!

 

That kind of rocked me back on my heels. I do not feel that way about everyone. Who do I fiercely desire to see in heaven? My husband. My children. Parents, siblings. Some extended family. A couple close friends. But, as far as exchanging my life for theirs if that were possible? Probably just my own children, if I’m honest. And yet, that fierce desire to see other people saved, in relationship with Jesus so that they too will go to heaven, that is what we are called to as Christians. We are called to that kind of deep love. 

 

And all I can do is say, Lord! Change my heart! Give me your heart for these people who surround me, my neighbors that I pass every day. The people of my community, my city, my state, my country. The world. May my heart be changed so that I long for the day when I can be in Jesus’ presence, but at the same time, I can say fiercely, I need these other people to be there with me! 

 

Here’s a link to “I can only Imagine” if you’d like to listen:

I Can Only Imagine by Mercyme