Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone. I hope that you have had a wonderful day celebrating Jesus’ Resurrection. 

I woke up early this morning so I could lay out our traditional Easter Breakfast before the kids came downstairs. We don’t do Easter baskets, but I usually buy a little treat and some Easter candy and put it by everyone’s plates to find when they come down for breakfast. 

We had the normal whirlwind of making sure each child was dressed, had their shoes on, had brushed their hair. And then serving a special breakfast and getting everyone to the table at the same time. Finally everyone was sitting and I handed my husband the Bible so he could read the accounting of Jesus rising up from the dead. I make him read because I get all choked up every time and can’t finish. 

He is Risen. Just like he said. Death is conquered. We have been rescued. 

I looked around the table at my children while my husband read. Some of them were listening. The youngest were barely listening. If they were listening at all. Some were focused on what was being said and others looked like they were tuned out a bit. I wasn’t too worried about that. They are young. I am discovering that each year Easter means more to me than the year before. You stack that up over a lifetime and of course my kids aren’t going to react to this story the same way their 40s mom is going to react. But I find that encouraging. It makes me wonder how Easter will affect me even farther down the road. It is a wonderful thing to be in a relationship with Jesus that simply grows deeper and deeper every year. 

This past week was really rough. Children’s Services showed up on my doorstep because someone had called in a complaint about me. The social worker was apologetic. The claim was frivolous and did not merit any attention, but they had to do their job and investigate. They spoke to the child in question and found a happy child who had no complaints. They said I had done nothing wrong, apologized for having to bother me. This was all tied up with our foster child and was over and done with very quickly. Small hiccup. Except that the whole encounter left me shaking for several hours and emotionally numb for several days. Some emails and texts were exchanged with the person who initiated all this and we ended the week on peaceful terms once again. Though I’m still feeling bruised and battered by the whole thing. 

Life is hard. This feels like a cliche and I tell it to my kids all the time. And they shrug and ignore it. But it really is hard. Really Really Hard. And I don’t want to convey to them just how true that saying is because I don’t want to scare them or overwhelm them. I want them to feel hopeful and excited about the future. But it’s hard. 

And what I really need them to know is this life is downright impossible or maybe just pointless without Jesus. I cannot fathom trying to handle everything that has come my way without Jesus by my side giving me strength, peace, wisdom, safety, hope, joy. Without a future with him to look forward to, I would be bogged down with despair. He is a daily, constant presence in my life. My confidante. My best friend who understands everything I go through and knows how to correct and encourage as needed. 

Easter is the best day of the year. The day we celebrate not only Jesus coming back to life, but opening the door to bring us back to life as well. 

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our trespasses. It is by grace you have been saved! Ephesians 2:4-5

Jesus took the punishment for all our sins and made a way for us to be with him forever. And today we celebrate that. 

My prayer is that each year this day will mean a little bit more to my children as they go farther and farther on this journey called life with Jesus by their side. And they learn for themselves about his faithfulness and great love for them. 

Happy Easter everybody! 

His Terms, Not Ours

Today I’ve been thinking about living life with Jesus on his terms, not mine. I’ve been thinking about the fact that there is no flexibility or compromise when it comes to the Christian walk.

There is a common myth that all roads lead to heaven. All gods are the same god, just called different names, or a good God will take me as I am, no religious affiliation necessary. But Jesus said very differently. 

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

No compromise. His terms, not ours. 

In the Lord’s prayer we are taught, by Jesus, to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

God’s will. Not ours. 

I think, as an adult, one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with is watching God not handle things the way I think they should be handled. Even after I pray and lay out to God a perfect way for dealing with a situation and what I think would be a perfect outcome, he keeps not taking my advice and doing it his way instead. Where’s the compromise??? Surely it should be done my way sometimes? But instead I have the whisper of what Jesus prayed in the garden, “Not my will but yours be done…”

Scriptures says, 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

We offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God, and this is what is pleasing to him. This does not evoke pictures of two businessmen sitting at a conference table hashing out a deal. In fact, it reminds me of when I was a kid and my parents made some pronouncement that my brother and I didn’t like and we said, but This is a Democracy! We have rights! And the answer was, actually, no, this is not a democracy, it is an autocracy. 

Many different places in the Bible God is described as a potter, we his creation. Isaiah 45:9 asks, “ ‘Does the clay say to the Potter, what are you making?’ ” 

As Americans we have little experience with authority and submission. Our society is based on equality. No one is better than the next person. We all make decisions as a group. We have leaders but their job is to do the will of the people, not their own will. It is a sign of weakness to not “be your own person” who is in complete control of your own life and who makes all important decisions for yourself. And then we become Christians and we get confronted with this verse, 

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

It doesn’t sound like a very balanced power system. It sounds like sacrifice. Submission. Servanthood. Complete Faith. Trust. 

So un-American. So medieval. So repressed. 

But maybe, instead of making this amazing sacrifice of self-autonomy and status, what we are actually doing is leaving the pretend world. The world where God doesn’t exist and we self-created out of the atmosphere and we rule our own destiny. Maybe what we are doing is getting our eyes opened to true reality. The reality that God does exist and has always existed. The reality that God created us. The reality that without him we are nothing. The reality that our destiny and our eternal existence depends completely on him and his mercy and grace. And in this very real world, God is God and we are his creation. Potter-clay. Master-servant. Father-son. And we are called to live life out on his terms, not our own. And when we do, that is when we have peace, joy, love. A life that is truly worth living. 

Lost Puppy Blog

We have lost our puppy. She went missing on Tuesday afternoon from our yard. She is actually my oldest son’s puppy and I watch her every day at our house while he is at work. Which means, I lost my son’s puppy. A case of too many people, each one thinking someone else was in charge of the puppy at that moment in time. 

I feel like I was standing there, battle-weary from all that life has been throwing at me, and then a giant warrior just ran up to me and kicked me in the stomach. And I’m still laying on the ground, gasping for breath. I wake up in the night, heart pounding, knowing something is wrong, and then I think, the puppy, we’ve got to find the puppy. And that has been the constant state of my nerves, just a frantic feeling of needing to do something to fix this and make it right.

My biggest struggle has been to keep my heart right. When bad things happen, it feels like punishment. It feels like a lack of love. It feels like maybe God isn’t good. The line from the song has been going through my head, “You’re a good, good Father, that’s who you are, that’s who you are, and I am loved by you, that’s who I am, that’s who I am…” And I admit there has been a battle in my mind. God you said in your parable, what father gives his son a snake when he asks for a fish? If human fathers know how to give good gifts, how much more so does God give good gifts?? And I sit here saying, please, we need our puppy back. And I think, surely a good Father would make this happen? 

And I am determined to not sin with my thoughts. God, you are sovereign. You know more than me. I will trust you. And I am clinging to that. I will trust God. And I am reminded that the presence or absence of this puppy does not equal “loved” or “not loved”. That question was already decided on the cross.  I believe this. But, Lord, I need this horrible feeling of desperation to go away. My heart is breaking for ourselves and for my son, and for this little puppy that we all love so much. 

We have checked with the shelter and will continue to do so. We have put her picture out on all kinds of community groups and Facebook groups. We’ve made flyers and walked around the area, leaving them in key places and talking to people who are out walking. The mailman is on the lookout. There is a homeless lady who owns a cat who I see often in the park. I gave her a flyer and she said she’d be looking. There’s a man I see every morning walking his dog all around the area. I stopped him and asked him to keep an eye out. Actually, I’ve asked several different dog walkers who I see regularly. I keep driving the area where she was last seen Tuesday night. Petco has a database for lost pets that I’ve been checking. I don’t know what else to do. 

I know several of my readers live in the same area as me, so I’m going to put a picture on here. Please keep us in your prayers. 

Trustworthy

To say that I’ve had a hard week would kind of be like saying the ocean has a lot of water. Perhaps just a little bit of an understatement. 

I was thinking about it last night, and I was thinking, none of these things stressing me out are actually my problems. This is just me, trying to help other people through their problems. Their junk. Not mine. But then I had this niggling thought of, is that really true? Because actually, when we help other people deal with their junk, it inevitably stirs up some of our own. 

I am realizing that this week, I’ve had some serious doubts and worries about the Goodness of God and being able to trust him. I think, when I say that I “trust” God, what I’m actually saying is, “I’m really confident that God is going to work out everything the way that I want it.” And this week I’ve had to face the stark fear that Maybe, God is not going to work things out the way I want in my loved ones’ lives. Maybe the happy ending that I’ve been praying for, isn’t going to actually happen. Maybe God isn’t going to answer my prayer and keep all harm far, far away. 

That has been hard for me to accept. Again, an understatement. 

I feel helpless. And the power of prayer doesn’t feel as strong when there are no guarantees that we will get the answer we want. 

Yesterday I had to walk away from someone I loved, leaving their problems in someone else’s hands. I started walking back to my car. Tears running down my cheeks. I sat in my car and sobbed for a minute. My brain numb. And I felt the Holy Spirit whisper into my soul the word, Trustworthy. 

And as I sit and think about that word, I realize that I have been guilty of creating God in my own image. I know how I want things to work out, I know how I want God to move in these situations, and so I create a God in my mind that does everything that I want him to do. And then, when crisis comes, it feels like God is not being God. Except that he is being God. Just not my little image of him that I’ve created. He is being God: Omnipotent, Sovereign. And, as he reminded me yesterday, Trustworthy. 

I think what the word Trustworthy means is, God is who he says He is. He can do what he says He can do. (To quote an old Beth Moore Bible Study). My knowledge of who He is and what He can do comes from the Bible, not from my imagination. And when my ideas get shaken up, I’ve got to return to that firm foundation. 

And so I find myself on new ground. Perhaps it’s Holy ground. It feels really unstable, but I think that’s just because my legs are weak, not because the ground is shaky. It’s a place of saying, Your will be done, not mine. I’m sacrificing my preconceived ideas, and instead am going to walk into the unknown, clinging to the truth that you are good. Your love is wider and deeper than mine. You are Trustworthy. 

I am Not your Enemy

I had to take my daughter to a doctor’s appointment this morning. Last year she broke her arm and had a metal rod put in her bone. Now that the bone is healed, we have to have another surgery to remove the rod. She does not want to have another surgery. She did not want to miss some of school this morning as they were doing something fun in class. She was not happy. When we got to the waiting room, she chose a seat just far enough away from me to announce how unhappy she was with me. And I sat there watching her angry face and I thought, I am not your enemy! I am doing this for you! 

This week I had to take my six year old who is homeschooling this year, to the public school four different times so he could do some testing. We are trying to get a good evaluation so we can get him placed in the right class next school year. In order for them to get all their data, they needed him to do some writing samples. He hates writing. With a passion. He is capable of writing. He writes for me every day in school. And every day it’s a fight. So, when they asked him to write for the testing, he dug in his heels, mad at me, mad at the testing. I had to talk to him. Listen, this is in order to help you so you can be placed in the right class next year so you won’t be bored in school. I am not your enemy. I am trying to help you. 

I’ve had a couple other situations this week where I have come across as public enemy number one because I’m making the hard choices that aren’t popular, but are for the best. It’s not fun. I am a peacemaker, and a people pleaser. I just want everyone to like me and be happy. That’s not too much to ask, is it? 

I was grumbling about it to God this morning. Here I am, just trying to help people, and everyone is mad at me. I am not the enemy! 

And he kind of whispered back to me, I am not your enemy either. 

Ah. 

Yes. 

I’ve been kind of mad this week. Why haven’t you intervened in this situation God? Why haven’t you healed? Why haven’t you stepped in and shown up big? 

And I am reminded that the same trust and faith that I require of my children, is being required of me. My kids can’t see the big picture in the same way I, as an adult, can. And I can’t see the big picture in the same way God does. And so I have to just trust. And in the same way that I can point out to my kids all the ways that I love them, to reassure them that my actions are in their best interest, I can remind myself of all the ways God has shown his love to me, and be reassured myself. 

Not the enemy. 

Kite Flying

Last Sunday, Easter, we took the kids to the park in the afternoon, and for a special treat, we got all the little kids a plastic kite. The kind they sell cheap at Walmart. We spent the afternoon trying to help six kids get a kite going at the same time, and chaos erupted. I suddenly remembered why we hadn’t flown kites in a long time. Group kite flying is not very fun. Only one child successfully got her kite up and kept it up. Everyone else was frustrated. 

This Sunday, a week later, I decided to return to the park and try this kite thing again. I only took a couple kids with me this time and we only tried to get one kite up in the air at a time. It was also very windy, so I was sure that we would have much better luck. 

Nope. 

I have come to the conclusion that our kites are too cheap. We just don’t have the right kind of kites. This theory was brought home when a guy appeared on the scene later with his two kids. They brought out a beautiful, obviously well-made, professional grade kite. And it flew so high. So beautifully! The kids and I admired from a distance. 

Of course, it also takes some skill. The dad flying the kite passed the string to one of his children and after a while it crashed to the ground. Which makes me think that what our family needs is just one, really nice kite. The older kids can take turns using it and the little kids can watch. 

Quick subject change. I’ve been thinking about control. Lack of control. The need for control. And how that runs contrary to being a Christian. Even to just being human. There is so little that we have control over. We can’t control the weather or any natural disasters that might pop up. We can’t control the spread of viruses. We can’t control cancer. We have very limited control of the actions of people around us. 

Me trying to control my life kind of reminds me of standing out in a field with a cheap kite that has serious design issues, a tangled string that won’t come off the reel in a timely manner, wind that gusts and swirls haphazardly, and the end product is my kite wrapped up in a nearby tree branch.

The Christian walk requires trust and faith, the opposite of control. I have to somehow believe that, first, God loves me. His end goal for me is for me to be with him in Paradise. This time here on earth is a time of refining and growth. Second, God knows what he is doing. The things that happen here are not a surprise to him nor do they hinder God’s will from happening. Third, I am not going to understand everything during this lifetime. Bad things are going to happen that knock me down. I’m not going to be happy with everything that comes my way. Maybe, I’ll be able to look back and see how everything worked out for good, and maybe I will never see how any good came out of it. But, the fourth, and last point is God is good and I can trust him. 

And when I trust him, it’s kind of like handing control of the kite string over to a master. Someone who knows what they are doing. Someone who has the ability to transform my broken kite into a beautiful masterpiece. And that’s the life I want. Me in control is not a pretty thing. Me trusting God makes my life a beautiful thing to see.

This is your 5 Minute Reminder to Stop Worrying

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I saw this today and thought, yep, that about sums up where I am right now. 

 

Now, I’m not sure if my theology quite  puts me at the place where I think God is deliberately setting me up, but I definitely think he allows me to get into places where I am not in control and all I can do is trust him. 

 

I have to tell you, I don’t like this place. When a problem presents itself, I am one of those people that wants to come up with a plan right away and then implement that plan right away, whether I have given it enough thought, prayer, counsel etc…I just want to be moving…forward…sideways…any direction, as long as I’m moving and not in a standstill. 

 

I am fortunate to have married the man I did. He is a great balance to me. His inner rhythm is at about half my tempo. Where I rush and scurry, he slowly ambers along. Where I finish the job quickly, though a bit messily, and perhaps not quite the way it was supposed to be, But it’s done! He methodically takes one step at a time, takes a lot longer than me, but ends up with a perfectly finished product that doesn’t need any tweaking. We balance each other well, because he can come to a complete standstill and sometimes needs a bit of nudging, while I need someone to rein me back a bit, hold on, let’s think about this a bit longer.

 

Right now we have two major areas in our life that need some solutions. Right now. Like, maybe yesterday. Or last month. 

 

And I am very impatient to see these areas fixed. Very impatient. It interrupts my sleep. It messes with my peace. I feel like I am on edge, unable to relax because these things are looming. 

 

In both situations, we can do nothing. We are waiting on other people to do their part, and we have no way of hurrying up the process. Though I am tempted to suggest some ideas, maybe if we did this, this, and this it would hurry it up? But really, that’s just me fretting. 

 

This past week, everywhere I turn, whether it be my daily bible reading, a church service, memes on Facebook…everywhere…the message says, over and over again. Trust God. Have Faith. Don’t Worry. And so, I say, yes, I am just going to give this to God and stop worrying. And then five minutes later I find my mind stuck in the same rut. Oh, yeah. Wait. I’m giving this over to God. Ok. 

 

This has not been one of those sunbeam-through-the-clouds situations where I say, Oh! I get it! I just need to trust that God is taking care of this, now I am going to stop worrying! No. It’s been more of a daily, every hour, turning it back over to God. Forgetting. Worrying. Turning it back over to God. Forgetting. Worrying. Turning it back over to God. If you get what I’m saying. 

 

Does this make me an imperfect Christian? Lacking in Faith? I don’t think so. No, I have not been an example of calm, unshakeable faith…but I have consistently been calling on God for help. God and I have had a lot of conversations about this. I feel an urgency to stay close and connected to him right now as my worries try to overwhelm me. I feel his hand on me, I know that not only is he working in the physical realm, but he’s also working on my heart, wanting to grow me in this area of faith. And that’s a good place to be. 

 

Last night I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t picked out our new Bible Memory Passage for the new school semester. This last semester we covered some of the basics with Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. We’ve already done my two other favorite Bible passages, Psalm 139 and 1 Corinthians 13. What should we memorize now? I flipped through my Bible and hit on the book of John. I love John. Especially the passages where Jesus prays for his disciples, and talks about the vine. I scanned a couple chapters and decided, lets do John 14: 1-6. 

 

So, this morning, I quickly looked at the first verse again, so I could memorize it and teach it to the kids while we were driving to school. 

 

It says,
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1)

 

And there you have it. My daily reminder to stop worrying, believe God is who he says he is, and he can do what he says he can do. 

 

I will continue to remind myself of this. Every five minutes if necessary.