Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The God Who Sees

Today is just one of those days when raw emotion teeters on a knife blade in my heart. Everyone I see and touch has felt pain and it slices through me with every greeting.

It is one of those days when I am exceptionally aware of the brokenness of the world. Disease, pain, death stalking every life. Like broken china, the sharp edges of life leave me gasping in pain and marveling that something so beautiful can be so sharp.

Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Come and heal us. We need you so. Come for the young moms with cancer, the children who are stunted, those locked in the isolation of their minds wondering why everyone else relates so easily.

Come for those agonizing with slow death. Slow enough that life must go on, but sure enough that any day may be the last.

Come for the girl that can't trust her Daddy and come for the girl who lost hers long ago. Come for the woman who has been oppressed by hopelessness for so long that the doctors have all but given up up hope too.

Come for the broken who fill their bodies with destructive substances to make today bearable. Come for those who have screwed everything up beyond earthly help and hope.

Come for the widow who wonders how to fill the empty nights and cries over each milestone of a person who has been obliterated from this earth.

Come for the mothers with empty arms and the dads who write songs about empty backseats. Maranatha. We are hopeless and helpless without you.

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,  in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.  There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.


He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  

--  Revelation 22:1-5, 20

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kicking Against the Pricks

As I wander through the kitchen for a drink, I'm drawn to the window by the sound of shrieking. Not a pain cry, but one of sheer frustration. My two year daughter is sitting on a chair in the back yard, her feet danging bare in 40 degree weather. "Put your shoes on!" my husband calls over the roar of the lawn mower. More sobs. No movement to obey. The sharpness of the cold matched by the hardness of a heart.

As I watched this scene of pathos, the Lord spoke into my heart. Daughter, you are often the same way, He said. You resist my loving commands as though what I want for you isn't the best for you.

My heart and lips twisting in conviction and sadness, I reflected on this. How often I choose pain and grief instead of wholeness and wisdom just because I am so set on doing my will, instead of His. I'm beginning to see that this is the most dangerous, silly, and heart-breaking posture I can ever assume. That self-sufficiency is literally diabolical, an alignment with Satan. That dependence and submission exercise trust and faith.

This is so uncomfortable. The world, the flesh, and the Devil rush to whisper doubt into my heart. Who will take care of me if I don't take care of myself? You'll be exploited, taken advantage of, victimized.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”  But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.   --John 4:31-34

Jesus was not primarily concerned with seeing that His needs were met. The thing of first importance to Him was to do the will of the Father. 

I don't need to be scared of my Father. He loves me. He cares for me. 

 Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed. --Romans 10:11  

He is honored when I just say "Ok, Daddy. I will obey." But He still loves me, even when I persist in my own foolishness. Because He loves me, He corrects me and does not allow me to come to harm. 

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Help me to trust you completely. Help me to remember who You are. Help me to trust in the God never breaks His promises and who sacrificed His life to restore mine, instead of listening to the father of lies, who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. Thank you Lord for speaking to me and holding me close to Your heart. Thank you for being so patient with me and teaching me. Help me trust my Daddy more and more as time goes on. I love you Lord.  
In Jesus' loving name, Amen.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Some of Our Favorite Children's Books

I was inspired by a recent post on the Gospel Coalition Blog to make a list of some of our favorite children's books. Some of these are currently falling apart on our bookshelves and others are joys from my childhood that I can't wait to share when my little ones get a bit bigger. 

1. I'll Always Love You

2. The Jesus Storybook Bible

3. Blue Hat, Green Hat

4. The Little Red Train Series

5. The Boxcar Children

6. The Wind in the Willows

7. See Inside Your Body Book

8. Caps For Sale

9. Hippos Go Berserk!

10. Baby Shoes

11. Tikki Tikki Tembo

12. Winnie the Pooh

13. The Way Things Work

14. Dear Zoo

15. The Chronicles of Narnia

16. The Princess & The Goblin

17. A Little Princess

18. I Love You Through & Through

19. Curious George

20. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

21. The Carrot Seed

22. Swimmy

23. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

24. Happy Birthday Moon

25. Inch by Inch

26. Goodnight Moon

27. Guess How Much I Love You

28. Richard Scarry's Busytown Books

29. Frog & Toad Are Friends

30. Ed Emberly's Make a World

There are so many great books to read-- though sometimes they get lost in the sea of derivative, tv branded tie-ins. Tolle lege!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten

Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting
 to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
 -Psalm 103:13-18

Well, the day has finally come. Today I send my first-born, the son who ended my barrenness, the gracious gift from God, out into the world. Today is the first day of kindergarten.

In so many ways I've longed for this day. I want him to grow and to be strong and successful. I want him to be independent. But today I am also incredibly aware of time and opportunities wasted, of all the things I didn't teach him when I could have. Particularly, I wish I read the Scriptures to him more often. Dear Lord, forgive me. Do not hold my son accountable for my sins. Please forgive me in Jesus' name and make me more aware of the eternal priorities each and every day.

But God (aren't those some of the best words in the whole wide world?) kindly gave me Psalm 103 this morning. A psalm of forgiveness. A psalm of glory to Him. The kind of psalm I want my life to sing. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Psalm 103:1-5

And these precious words:

But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting
 to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children

My heart is full of thankfulness for God's Word to me this morning. A good, true, hope-filled, faith-infused, covenant love promise. 

Thank you Lord, for taking care of my children and bridging the gap between what I do and what they need. Be with my sweet little guy on his first day of school and help him look to You if He gets scared (and me too!).  In Jesus' name, amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nothing Left to Give

My children are 6, 2, and 1. These are the days of exhaustion. Literally. Here is the definition of exhaust from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online:

1a : to consume entirely : use up <exhausted our funds in a week> 
  b : to tire extremely or completely <exhausted by overwork>  
  c : to deprive of a valuable quality or constituent <exhaust a photographic developer> <exhaust a soil of fertility>
2a : to draw off or let out completely 
  b : to empty by drawing off the contents; specifically : to create a vacuum in
3a : to consider or discuss (a subject) thoroughly or completely 
  b : to try out the whole number of <exhausted all the possibilities>

There are many days when I feel completely consumed at the beginning of the day. I'm running on empty, it's 7:30 am. and I'm just hearing the first stirrings from the crib. What do I do? Why does God allow me to be so woefully inadequate? I pray that He would give me strength, so where is it?

I remember the days before I was a mom, back when I thought I was capable. I thought mothering was going to be fairly doable, and I was going to be so devoted that it was going to be great! I'd homeschool, bake cookies, plan family activities & devotions, sew them their own clothes, and have really obedient children who knew better than to misbehave for me.  

What I didn't know then is how all-consuming being a mother is. Your needs are pushed so far to the back burner that they aren't even on the stove anymore sometimes. And unfortunately that is just for the baseline of having healthy, happy, loved, trained, rested, clean(ish), dressed children who've had their hair combed sometime in recent memory. I look back now and know I had no idea how much work goes into achieving the basics. I just sort of assumed that a happy, rested, fed, clean, and cheerful child was going to be the starting point. Ha. Ha. 

For me at least, motherhood is sort of impossible. 

We were reading the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 to the kiddos from the Jesus Storybook Bible (which is totally awesome, by the way) last night and it struck me. Jesus asked the disciples to feed the 5,000. Really? I had to double check in my Bible and see if that was really how it went down, or if it was just artistic flourish on the author's part. 

When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” Matt 14:15-16

That's crazy. Why did Jesus ask them to do something they can't do?! 

Maybe because it is in that moment, they know themselves. They know their own weakness. They know their need. There is no more pretending "they've got this". And when 5,000 people are fed, the disciples don't think they did it, even though they passed out the bread.

In my Bible reading this morning, I read the story of Elijah and the widow. She is on the brink of starvation, and he asks her to feed him. Impossible. How could he even ask such a thing? Yet the "bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord..." 

God sometimes asks more of us than we can do. Sometimes he exhausts us, so that we know we can never exhaust him. 

I am strangely comforted by the definition of exhaust. When I am weak, then I am strong. Most gladly will I boast in my infirmities. His strength is made perfect in weakness. If God empties me, then He will fill me. If he draws me out entirely, then He knows me completely. There is nothing hid from him.
This does not make it easy. I'm still exhausted. I still cry for mercy. I still wait on the Lord. But I believe God will answer. I believe he will meet my need. I try to believe the Word he has given me.

God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved.
God will help her when the morning dawns. Psalm 46:5

For thus says the LORD GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said,
"In repentance and rest you will be saved,
In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15a 

I'm still processing this. Resting is hard when life feels like a crisis. But I'm so thankful that God is talking to me. I'm trying to remember God's character: his love for me, his faithfulness, and to trust that my heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts even if I don't much like them at first. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Whoa! What an egg!

I got this egg out of our chicken coop this afternoon. It is the biggest egg I have ever seen. This is the egg in my (Brian's) hand.

Here is the egg in Jordan's hand.

Here it is in Iain's hands.

This is the egg against a quarter.

Here it is with two of our regular eggs (brown) and two grade AA large eggs from the store (white).

This is the egg in the grade AA large eggs carton.

And one more with a quarter, one of our regular eggs, and one grade AA large egg from the store.

I feel bad for the chicken who laid that egg! I wonder which one it was: Rezzie, Remember, or Badu, our three Barred Rocks. We have three new chickens too: Sweetie, Squeaky, and Pip, all Rhode Island Reds. Iain says I should enter the egg in the Western Idaho Fair.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Clouded Soul

These past few months I've experienced the worst depression of my life. I've cried to the Lord and been dismayed to find stony silence.

We were on vacation recently in Ketchum, Idaho, our hotel room nestled snugly between two mountains. I admired the glorious view of Bald Mountain from my bed, tracing the bleached ski runs amongst the green-black pine. The second morning the mountain vanished. A think gray wall of fog obliterated it, camouflaging 9,150 feet of sedimentary rock into a slate-colored air. It was gone. Completely invisible. We may as well have been in the Great Plains.

And then, my Friend spoke to me. I'm still here, He said. Just like the mountain. Remember me. Remember the times you have seen me and rested on me and known me. Even though the fog of depression makes it look like I'm gone, I'm here. I will never leave you or forsake you. Trust me. Even when it is scary. Even though I don't promise to follow your plan. Know that I love you, and that I'm taking care of you, even when I hurt you. I love you. Don't forget that.

And so, I will wait on the Lord. I will look forward to the day when the sun is out again, and I can see the mountain in its majesty. In the meantime I will rest and trust that God is there and then He is taking care of me.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?
Psalm 27:1

I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5