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Tag Archives: Faith

Connecting in the Mess

I wanted to share on something that occurred to me this morning when I was tired and in our kitchen with our little ones who were far from tired. They wanted breakfast. “What can we make?” Our six year old asked.

Make… Ugh… They want to make something. I just woke up people. And the last thing I did before going to bed was clean this kitchen. And here we are again. In the kitchen. That is actually clean and what do you want to do? Make something… Oh yes- you will make something. You will make a mess and my day will start as another mess being cleaned. Can’t I just give them cereal? Hand them a bowl. Eat it. Move on. You’ll be fed. Kitchen stays clean. And…
Baby boy is pushing his little stool over. They are already pulling out bowls and a pancake box, peeling over ripe bananas and getting out the recipe for banana bread… Handing out mixers… They are so ready to make something.

They want to make something…

My mind went back to the lesson I taught in Kid Zone yesterday. How when we pray we connect with God.

We connect. God wants us to pray – not just to meet our need- but to connect with us.

And there I was with these kids and their need for breakfast. But it dawned on me- that food wasn’t the only need. The need to connect was the bigger need.

And I was fighting myself then in that moment. Because the tired body I was in was not blind to the flour that was getting everywhere. And the many bowls and measuring cups and spoons that would need washed. Big sister then turned on the griddle. I went to pour oil on it and I poured way too much. It poured out over the edge and puddled… Another mess…

“Connecting. Connecting. God help me to see we aren’t just making breakfast, we are making a connection.”

That was my prayer to God and my tired self.

And I was reminded that God understands the struggle. (Isn’t that an awesome thought?) God knew he was going to have to take on all our messes in order to connect with us. Our God is the God who came in the flesh to connect with us in our mess. To connect.

For my friends who are parents and grandparents of little ones- when you are caught up in the mess, tired and struggling, I pray this post will help you remember, you are making something- you are making a connection. Connecting. Connecting.

Connecting in the mess.

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“This is one of those moments”

I am not going to be able to put into words what all is on my heart about the pictures I am about to share.

Our little girl and I (and our youngest son who was asleep in his stroller) picked out some things from a church sale today. We filled up our bag and before leaving she noticed one book that she really wanted. I had already paid but went ahead and took out one more dollar for the little book in her hand. She smiled, paid and got her change.

I told her we should put the items in our van before meeting my mom and the rest of our crew for the other activities. She happily bounced along my side with her book in hand.

We walked on a sidewalk through the church grounds and came near a little bench. It looked more decorative than anything else, not really a bench you would stop to sit on, especially not in the middle of your agenda. But she rushed ahead of me and hopped right over on to that bench. She said to me “Sit mama. This is a good place to read.”

I was going to to tell her to come along. This wasn’t really part of my agenda. My mom and the other children were already starting lunch and we needed to get to them. But then I began to feel in my spirit a gentle pushing towards that bench and it dawned on me- the words coming as one simple thought: “This is one of those moments.”

Everyday we are given so many moments. So many things to do. It is so easy to miss the God moments for our moments. I do it all the time. I didn’t want to miss another. I walked over to her. I sat down on that flower bed bench in the middle of the church grounds. Baby boy still asleep in his stroller. I looked at our little girl who smiled and said words I cannot shake, “There is a time to read. There is a time to rest.”

Yes, in the middle of all the busyness this little girl was able to sense it- the time to rest. How often do I miss that!

We sat there reading about the runaway bunny and I saw myself in that story- the seasons of my life when I ran away from God, only to have him find me still. I became a fish headed out to sea. He became the fisherman. I became the free bird. He became the tree I came home to. And still- still I runaway so much- on my own agendas.

Earlier this week I rush off somewhat grumpy to the grocery store. He found me in the parking lot- I felt his spirit in the man loading up my groceries singing “My cup runneth over.”

We rush so much, run so much and yet he finds us.

His word is always available to read.
Many times it is read through places and faces and not just words on a page.

His rest is always available to receive.
And it is found in the most unlikely of places- like random benches in flower beds.

I pray for whoever reads this- that when those moments come, you feel it in your spirit. “This is one of those moments.” May you hear in your spirit those words. There is a time to read. There is a time to rest. There is a time to be found. May you experience all those wonderful times as I did today reading with a little girl who could sénse the time better than I.

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Monday is Coming

G.K. Chesterton penned down the words, “…God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

I often find myself thinking about those words… Especially on Sunday nights. Why? Because Monday is coming. Monotony is coming. Waking up every morning for the next five days to (inner-cringe at these words) lists of tasks needing to be done (even bigger inner-cringe at this thought) in an allotted amount of time…

Oh… You can ask my hubby… The whole idea of a “schedule” is like a needle to my free floating happy balloon.

And then I think of that quote… About God “exulting” in monotony… That is inspiring. Truly, the entire universe is all operating in incredible monotony, sunrise after sunrise appearing in glorious light. And it makes me consider that yes- it is possible to exult in monotony. To shine every single day and to shine (yet another cringe for this late night mama)- in the morning.

(I know some of you morning people have no idea what that was cringe was for.)

It is possible to shine every day and to exult in the monotony.

But for me, that it is going to take the Spirit of God, no doubt. Perhaps for you too.

I pray that you and I get excited about this next week. That, like a child being thrown up into the air by his father’s arms, we begin to feel the arms of God helping lift us up out of our beds every morning- tossing us up and out into the tasks ahead of us- even those things that seem so out of our own reach and ability.

“Again! Again!” May we be able to have that kind of child-like joy for tomorrow as we lay our heads to sleep tonight.

Yes, Monday is coming. Monotony is coming. And the spirit of God in-dwelling in you makes YOU strong enough to exult in the monotony ahead. Shine bright friends.

 

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After the Steam

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I woke up earlier than usual this morning, determined to get a head start on the day. Didn’t expect to start my day with this. And what is it? At first glance, it is the obvious, a fogged up mirror where steam has revealed all the smudges and writings left by little hands writing messages after their shower on the perfect canvas they saw. But this foggy, smudged up mirror reminded me this morning of a verse from 1 Corinthians: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Sometimes our actions in “steamy” moments write messages that we don’t even realize we are writing. Our raw emotions cause us to act so far off from the person God created us and knows us to be. In those moments, this Christ-like image that we are supposed to have, it becomes foggy, messy… Marked. Those who are around us lose sight of Christ in us, and to get down to the heart of it, so do we. It’s hard to look yourself in the mirror after you know you acted out or spoke out in ways so far from who you truly are. You lose sight of yourself. You start to just see steam, messiness… Marks. But friend, this morning as I looked closely at that mirror I saw clearly one message circled by a little hand, “A+.” It had been written over yesterday’s message, “God’s love.”

(Those little hands had no idea how God was going to use these markings to touch my heart. Friends, you have no idea how the little things you do can touch a person’s heart.)

Looking in that mirror, I could not see myself. In the steam all I could see was God and “A+.” That is what God’s love does. When we smudge our image and the image of Christ, Jesus takes his hands, the same hands that were nailed to a cross for moments just like these… Jesus hears that heart cry for forgiveness, and he answers it. In our brokenness and in the aftermath of the steam, Jesus writes two words over top our image: “God’s love.” And then, incredibly, he writes “A+.” That is forgiveness.

One day we will see God in his fullness. We will see ourselves in our fullness. But for know I pray we can catch an image of how God sees us and others after the steamy moments have passed and our hearts are made clean by confession. And I share this picture because something tells me that image looks a whole lot like a fogged up, smudge up mirror with the words “God’s love” and “A+.”

Confess. Repent. Ask and receive forgiveness. See that you aren’t a smudged up, steamy mess. You are a son or daughter of God, loved, forgiven and atoned for. God’s love writes your grade. He gives to you the full credit that Jesus, the perfect canvas, earned. Child, your grade is his grade. And that grade, incredibly, after all the steam and smudges, was written as “A+.” May you know that today should you be struggling with the image in the mirror.

 

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Lay it Down

Remember Abraham? You know that old man you read about in the Bible who prayed for a son and finally got one so late in his life that it was laughable. Truly laughable. So laughable he named his son “Isaac” which means laughter. Do you remember how God tested him? How he told Abraham years later to walk that boy up a mountain and offer him as a sacrifice to God? Remember that? Remember thinking, “What kind of a God does that?” Maybe you didn’t think that but I will admit that I did. What kind of a God gives a gift only to take it away? That is what I sat there thinking… Until I read how in the moment of truth, when Abraham raised his arm with knife in hand, and Isaac lay there not trying to escape… In that incredibly intense moment the account goes that a hand reached down and stopped Abraham. A goat appeared in the thicket. Isaac was not to die their on that altar and Abraham had past the test.

Abraham had put down on the altar what had become the source of so much of his joy and so much of his hope. And sometimes I think God calls many of us to do just that. Sometimes I think God tests our hearts and sets us up to prove not so much to him, but to ourselves, that we are willing to lay it all down.

It may be your spouse, it may be your job, it may be your children, it may be your best friend, it may be your educational pursuit… Not sure what it is for you? Think of the one thing that you have put the most hope into, the one thing that is at the center of all your dreams… If it isn’t God… It is your Isaac. Are you willing to lay it down?

Isaac and Abraham lived on to live an incredibly blessed life. So blessed that later in the Bible you can read how God identified himself to Moses as, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Whoa. That same man and boy that went walking up that mountain, and willingly laid it all down- God says, “I am their God.” Laying it all down always leads to life- a life more abundant, a life more blessed.

May your feet be strengthened for whatever mountain you are walking up. May your faith be assured in the goodness of God. May he be your hope. May he be your joy. May he provide for your every need as you place your life in his hands.

 

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In the Stink

So it was the Christmas week church service at my in-law’s church. Hubby was in Germany. The kids and I rode with dad and mom, my sister and nephew. We met up with my brothers and sisters and their families. Most of the kids went into their own classes. Our two youngest stayed with me in main service. There we were all lined up in the church seats.

Worship began and soon baby fell asleep in my arms. Worship ended and we all sat to hear the message. The pastor began reading the account of Jesus being born in the manger. “And you know, there were animals all around him… A donkey… Now don’t go looking around you, but perhaps you have been surrounded by some stinky…” (He pretended to be sniffing.)

I can’t tell you what he said next because at that moment I looked over to my right and their is mom, bent over, sniffing around like crazy… I thought she was kidding around at first until I realized it was no joke. She had smelt something. She reached down to grab her handbag, lifted up her hand, and her face took a sudden look of both curiosity and horror. There was brown stuff on her hand. She shows me her hand, gives it a sniff, practically gags and mouths “Pooooop!”

Now people, I am not one to be disrespectful in church but I was struggling. My eyes filled with tears and a laugh pressed so hard in my throat that all I knew to do was bury my head into our baby who was in my arms, bend over and attempt to look moved by the message.

More sniffing. More searching. More tears.

There was poop on the purse.

There was poop on her shoe.

There was poop on our sleeping baby’s shoe, and on the chair that his foot had brushed up against.

Poop was all around us… Dog poop to be exact. We had strolled into church with poop all over us.

If a sermon ever hit close to home, this one was it!

Because there we were, listening to this account of Jesus being born in the middle of the stink, and in the middle of our stink, all I could do was laugh.

Because the pastor warned us, not to go looking around… And sure enough when we did, there it was. My niece said she had smelt something from the start. But I hadn’t. And it wasn’t our poop! We had just been walking along trying to do right and stepped in someone else’s poop.

Aren’t stinky situations so often like that?

But here is what God showed me in that moment, that stinky situations don’t need to steal our joy.

Jesus came to bring joy. He came in the middle of a stinky situation.

So my prayer tonight for anyone who may be in a stinky situation is this: May God cause you to be filled with tears-flowing, belly-hurting-because-you-laughed-so-much joy in the midst of the stink. Know it will all get cleaned up. It will. And yes- you may have to get your hands more in it than you would prefer to get it cleaned up, but isn’t that what Jesus did? Took the cross to clean us up? It wasn’t his “poop.” It was ours.

Know you are loved by God. Know that God is still faithful to bring new life and joy out of the stinkiest situations.

 

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“It Doesn’t Feel like Christmas”

This Christmas I was not able to be with my hubby. It’s the first Christmas without him since we have been married. He had to be gone with work. I am with the family that God has given me through our marriage and I feel truly blessed for it. The kids and I are surrounded by their love. Christmas morning is only a few hours away, and I am trying not to think about it- how hubby isn’t here… Because it causes an ache in my heart. In fact, days leading up to our trip here I found myself saddened and thinking, “It doesn’t feel like Christmas.”

And I guess this is why I am sharing this, because I have a feeling I am not alone. If you are struggling with missing a loved one this Christmas, perhaps consider this:

When your heart aches for the presence of a loved one… That feels like Christmas. That is why God came in the flesh, because he knew his people longed for his presence, and incredibly he longed for our eternal presence as well. That ache. That void. That feeling like something is missing. That feels like Christmas… That feels like the very heartbeat of our Savior.

He knew we would be missing. He felt the void and he stepped into it, with tiny feet that would grow to be nailed to a cross. All for you. All for me. All for us. That is the message of Christmas.

For those who have never asked Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, I pray you would do that today.

For those who did at some point in your life, but have turned away, I pray you would consider turning your heart back. His heart aches for you.

For those who are missing loved ones today, I pray your heart be overwhelmed by the depth of God’s love for you. When your heart aches for that missing person may you feel the ache that God felt when he considered an eternity without you.

May your sorrow not steal the joy of Christmas, but only cause you to fall more in love with Christ as you dwell on his love and the sorrow he endured for you.

Merry Christmas friends.

Be glad.

God came to be with us.

And he still is.

 

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