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Tag Archives: Parenting

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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Let us Hear the Sound…

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So this moment tonight… this moment touched my heart more than I could probably express, but I will try.

Lately I have been feeling a little heart sick. I hear from friends and loved ones going through some seriously hard things. I try to talk to share with them just how much God really loves them but all too often the response is, “I don’t really feel his presence.” One friend recently worded it this way, “There are so many things when I look back at my life, when I think of them, I know it had to be God. He helped me get through them. But I don’t know that I have actually ever heard his voice. I don’t feel his presence. I try to go to church. I have tried to read the Bible. I just don’t feel him.”

Been there. Many times.

And so tonight I watched our busy, little boy toddling all over the place. Then it came to a point where he came close to his daddy who was studying and in that moment my hubby took off the headset he had been wearing. He placed it on our son’s head and his eyes lit up so big. He heard the sound of the worship music. He heard what his daddy had been hearing all along but none of us could hear. He became practically entranced, staring awestruck at his daddy for some time like a whole new world had opened up in his soul.

His sisters tried to come by and take the headset and he aggressively pushed them away. And it struck me…

It became my prayer really… God, let us hear your song. Let us hear it so loudly that we hear and want nothing else. Let us be so awestruck with the sound of you in our soul that we aggressively begin blocking out those things that try to grab it away. God, let us hear what you hear…

Praying it silently, I walked away to tend to other things, came back into the room ten minutes or so later only to see our son still sitting with his daddy. He wasn’t budging. He was locked in, totally focused on what his daddy was focused on and totally at peace. Snapped a picture. Smiled. Snapped some more.

And so tonight my prayer is simple- for those who are so needing to hear your voice tonight, God… Would you put upon their soul the sound of your love? God shield out the sound of everything else. Let them feel your presence. Wrap your arm around them. May their thoughts be your thoughts. Help us to hear you, to aggressively fight in our mind against the things that try to grab away the sound of you. For you are real. And you are with us. Help us to wander close to you and stay at your side.

Amen.

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“How Else Can I Help?”

Our nine year-old emptied the dishwasher late tonight, loaded the few dirty dishes that were in the sink, and wiped down the counters. His brothers and sisters were asleep or nearly in their rooms. But not him. He was wide awake.

He looked over into our laundry room.

I see you have a lot of laundry to fold there,” he said.

And I don’t want you to have to do this too…

And besides, (big brother) doesn’t really like to unload the dishes in the morning. So I will unload them…

But will you still tell him he has to do it in the morning, mom?”

He smiled after asking that question.

Perhaps he smiled at the thought of his brother discovering the job done.

But more than likely, smiling at the plan to make his brother huff at nothing at all.

He asked again, “You will ask him to do it, right, mom?”

Yes,” I answered and smiled, convinced of his clever little plan.

He smiled big.

He then had asked how else he could help me.

I was amazed by his energy.

It was nearly ten o’clock at night. I was becoming exhausted. My husband was also working late. So my options were to either send him to bed or accept the help in the form it was in. I accepted his help.

He then proceeded to help me load up another load of laundry, match socks and fold the last of the basket that was shoulder high before he started cleaning the kitchen. We got done folding what needed folded.

Do you want me to push this to your room?

I stood in awe.

Where do you get all your energy?” I asked him.

He looked up, smiled and shrugged his shoulders and answered,

God.”

He then pushed the full basket of clothes across the kitchen floor, passed the dining table and into my and my husband’s bedroom.

His answer touched my heart more than he could ever know.

Because it has been a busy year for our family and it isn’t over. And the nights and days get so long. And sometimes, I just get so tired, if not physically purely emotionally, and yet in my spirit I know that God is with us, that his strength is sufficient, that God is not weary…

And as I watched that boy bent over, pushing across our house a loaded laundry basket of clothes he helped to fold, my heart caught a glimpse of God in our house.

Jesus, you aren’t weary, are you?

And you are truly here, aren’t you?

His answer?

I saw it on the smile of a nine year-old boy walking back into our kitchen, and heard it in his young, vibrant, voice,

“How else can I help?”

 

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To You

To you with problems ahead of you that seem so big… I want to encourage you tonight to listen for Jesus. Listen close and hear him whisper, “I am bigger.”

To you who feels so weak tonight and so rightfully sure that you don’t have what it takes… I want to encourage you tonight to close your eyes and fix your heart on Jesus. Because he is there- right in that place with you. May you feel his peace wrap around your heart and here him whisper, “I have what it takes and I am with you.”

And to you, who has come to know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that on your own, there are so very many things that are impossible, that you simply cannot and will not ever do. Can I tell you something tonight? To you Jesus whispers, “With God all things are possible.”

And to you who wrestles daily with fear, who fights to find peace, who trembles inside at the tribulations ahead. Yes, tribulation will come, just as Jesus said. But listen close to His voice one more time. He spoke it, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Did you hear what he said? “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.” His warnings of tribulation were not meant to scare you, but to assure you… That the only One strong enough to conquer the world is available to you. May you lay your head down on your pillow tonight and rest in His peace.

A prayer:
Sweet Savior Jesus, you are never too far, but all too often, I am. Help me to draw close to you tonight and rest in your presence, your goodness and your love. Thank you. Yes, thank you. Amen.

 

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Feathers from Angels

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I guess our freezer door wasn’t fully closed. Opening the door and seeing the frost that developed on the shelves, our little girl shouted out:

“Mom! Look! It looks like feathers from angels!”

Her words caused me to look closer… Changed my entire perspective.

And now every time I see frost I am going to think of angel feathers… Of our awesome God, and the precious gift He has given to this world: children.

Feeling so thankful right now for our little “angels” that all too often open my eyes and my heart to the beauty and the heavenly right in front of me- beauty I am often too blind to see.

 

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“Can We Start Over?”

This week started with me in a nasty mood, subtle and yet constant attitudes toward my husband. I am not proud of that or saying it is ok… It wasn’t. But I wanted to share this because I wanted to share a decision that my husband and I made that greatly blessed our marriage: We decided to start over.

We didn’t hash out every offense and mistake. I didn’t even say “I’m sorry” again. Why? Because it was more than that. Yes, I was sorry and I needed forgiveness but there was more. I needed a “re-do,” a slate wiped clean, a chance to try again.

Ever need one of those?

So I asked my hubby if we could start over and incredibly he said yes and just like that- all was so well again. And it still is.

And I share all this because I realized just how much we all at times need a “start over” pass. And that is in fact what God did through us through Christ Jesus. He wiped the slate clean and gave us the freedom to start over, fully restored in the eyes of God- as if we had never sinned at all. With open arms and a smile, our Lord said, and continues to say “Yes, let’s start over.”

And so it is that we, too, also desperately need to be able to say that to each other- to offer that mercy, that love and grace.

Who might you need to start over with today? Maybe your spouse, your child, a friend, a family member, a co-worker, maybe even God?

May the same power that raised Jesus from the dead rise up in our marred hearts and relationships. Because all can be made wonderfully new.

 

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How to Live for the God Things

So the kids and I were standing there, toes sifting through the sand… No, not on a beach- but on a volleyball court at a park in the middle of town. And it really started to dawn on me, how young children are experts at being able to dig in and enjoy what is right there in front of them. They don’t worry about what they look like. They aren’t filled with phobias that are sure to quench fun. They aren’t bothered by getting more than a little dirty. And more than anything else they are enthralled, deeply fascinated, and wonderfully provoked by everything around them… Sand begs to be sifted. Their hands long to dig, to hold, to mold- to make the unseen seen… Castles out of trampled ground… Words echoing in a heart, carved out in the sand.

Why do we adults forget? Why do we lose that sense of wonder, of desire, of purpose? Why do we so often forget that the trampled ground around us can still be built up? Why do we allow fear to stop us from truly living, and from really getting deep into the good things… The God things? What does that even look like anyway? What does it look like to live for the God things?

Perhaps it looks like our 18 month old son looked on the changing table in the Mexican restaurant bathroom last week. He laid there, in the middle of a public restroom, and his ears tuned into the music on the speakers above. We couldn’t even hear it in the restaurant, but there in the quiet of the empty bathroom we could. And our little boy started to smile and wiggle and dance… And dance and dance. It didn’t matter that we were in a public bathroom. He could hear the music and he allowed the music to move him to joy. His joy changed the atmosphere.

Just like when our young children made a beach out of that patch of sand that was etched out under a volley ball net in the center of town and then turned it into a canvas. All on their own, letter by letter, they wrote out their messages in hope that the next people who came by may read them and leave feeling as they felt there in the sand… Free.

We can live like that… Not seeing things for what everyone else says they are but instead seeing them for everything they can be.

We can dig deep and start building where ground has been trampled.

We can leave our messages in the sand.

We can tune our ears to the sound of God’s song being played out all around us and chose to dance.

I pray this week for anyone who may read this that a fresh wonder for life rises up in you. May you start to stop more often to do the seemingly ridiculous… Build those castles… Leaves those marks and dance when God leads you to dance.

– Charity

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