Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Break

My husband is pacing through the house, scouring the scene of our house in search of any rogue items meant to accompany us to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and/or Michigan. And I'm sure wondering what on earth I am doing blogging so close to the end of our countdown to liftoff.

This is summer. Here. All trips either pursuing extended family togetherness, or Christian family togetherness.

Work has picked up as well, what with all the kids. And since not serving two masters is a good rule of thumb (not to mention just the way things are) I am torn between two choices really. Blogosphere and here-osphere. Both require creativity, inspire faith, and provide encouragement, but the truth is I really need to be present here. I'm not a fan of the "me" that shows up every time I find myself deep in blog- I'm oblivious. I snap. Seriously, my husband just told me something as he ran out of the house and I have no idea what he said. That's just how it goes.

Plus, when I am rushed and reaching it makes for some pretty bad writing and I'm not going to waste our time.

I hope to write throughout the summer, then refine and edit and simmer in it over the next two months until I start posting again at the end of August/beginning of September. Really, this just seems wise and fair all around.

I hope you will come back and visit. Until then- pray for our family. I will be praying for yours.

You will be in my heart,

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Samaritan Woman and The Next Big Thing

We run into a funny obstacle when we read our favorite familiar Bible stories: we know how they end.

During Bible study the other night, the Bible Study Beauties and I spent some time with the woman of Samaria at the well. As that camped about in my mind the next morning I realized a very simple, but startling truth. She didn't know she was going to meet Jesus that day.

Think about it. The woman didn't wake up, go about her chores, hoist her water jar thinking, "Off to meet the Savior of the world." In fact, I would contend that she was more likely preoccupied with meeting up with haters than True Love.

I reread the account of the woman that Jesus just had to meet (John 4:4). We are so much alike, Sister.

I may have a husband, but that doesn't mean I don't go about my daily tasks with my mind on anything but the Savior. It doesn't mean that sometimes I take care of my kids and console my wearied heart with the empty dreams of what I will do in the next season of my life; the things I will accomplish when my kids are all in school and I am no longer tied to diapers and sippy cups. As though this season is merely a hiatus in an otherwise planned and significant life.

The Samaritan woman and I have been bogged down by the burdens of the day to day, but taken the moments to think about the next big thing.

"I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things." (John 4:26)

And then comes the part that blows my mind:

Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."

This foreign woman living in sin deeper than any disgusting well received the gospel from the Gospel, her downcast eyes lifted and opened to a reality that her ancestors longed to see. And she got to speak to Him. See Him. Hear Him.

His words are the same for us day-to-day sinners with our nose to the grindstone and our eyes on the tasks at hand. The ones who in the brief pauses of the tiresome day look forward to the next big thing, not realizing just how big this thing is right here. Right now.

And I like to see that God's sense of humor allows Him to reveal Himself in even the most commercial of arenas. The Samsung Galaxy Translation: The next big thing is already here...

I admit, I'm an iPhone user and a proud one at that. But Samsung really hit the nail on the head with that phrase. (I'd have preferred that they not made us iPhone users all look obsolete, but that's for another post.) It's like they tapped into one of the most basic methods Satan uses to lure us away from the grace and beauty around us- his lie that what we are, where we are, is not as good as what and where we should be.

Jesus meets us at the wells of our lives and hands us the dirty laundry, the full dishwasher, the crying baby, all gifts.We are so busy accomplishing and looking forward to what's next that we miss His presence, reminding us that He is the only big thing, and He is here. Already here.

So let's vow together to look at where we are and see Him here. In His Word. His sacraments. In our service to the least of these. I don't think Jesus would have stressed so often the responsibility of caring for children if it wasn't such a big deal. We see big things people do, famous people recognized for their big works even towards furthering the kingdom, and forget that the biggest ways Christ demonstrated His love for the world were done in the small things. Born in a manger. A carpenter's son in a small town. A small band of common men for followers. A criminal's death on a cross. Even his miracles were accomplished for those who were, or believed themselves to be, the least worthy.

And then there is the perk to rereading those old favorites. We know how they end. With a risen and ascended Savior. So if we are to spend our time looking for the next big big thing, let it be living in anticipation of His blessed and joyous return.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Messy Monday: Keeping Score

I've been rocking out a lot since school ended. My seven year old love love LOVES Britt Nicole, which is fine by me because I just can't overestimate my affinity for a good beat. It puts me into some happy, motivated place. And I've needed it recently.

For whatever reason, I have been in a funk lately and just given into it. You know, you just sit there and go, "I know I shouldn't be thinking this, but I don't care. Let me wallow in my baseless whining." So much easier it is to just let myself be jealous or a victim than to intentionally remind myself of who I am because I belong to Christ. (But here's the secret- that's really just a lie. Giving into the "easy" just drains the spirit in the long run, while fighting it and feeding the truth renews our strength like the eagles'.)

So Britt Nicole and the like have been serenading us frequently since my daughter is home from school full time, and as I was cleaning on Saturday she sang a lyric that struck me anew. One of those lyrics that I think, "Oh, I hope my girls learn this truth. Remember this truth," when it's really me that needs to hear it. I guess I haven't outgrown as much as I'd hoped...

Everybody keeps score. Afraid your gonna lose. Just ignore, they don't know the real you.
Now to be fair- no one keeps score on me. I keep score on myself. I'm the one who forgets the real me.
That's what turns me into my pity-party mess...
As soon as the words hit my brain, I realized that's what I've been doing lately. Keeping score- and everyone else is ahead. Better moms, wives, singers, writers, etc. Everyone just seems more worthy.
Then a piece popped out of my mental archive. Turns out this must be a recurring theme in my life because I just wrote about it for the church newsletter... So here it is!

It’s Not About the Score

There is something amazing about little feet and legs and bodies chasing a ball on a blanket of green. Maybe it is just me, but to watch kids on a soccer field, running with all their might, kicking, passing, scoring, celebrating- my heart just bursts into little pieces when they are exhausted and smiling.

Last year, I remember my son running up to me after every goal their team scored. Jumping, bounding, giving fives. I thought just like our relationship with the Father. It hit me that the pride and joy I felt in both my little soccer players was a gift- a glimpse into God’s regard for His children. His regard for me. The insignificance of my daily chores suddenly became reasons to give God a high five and be reminded that my Coach was right on the field with me, and celebrating my every play!

This year started much the same way. The aunts and uncles and grandparents received pictures of their grandkids, niece and nephew, scoring goals and taking names. The grace and beauty of their form and footwork- it was no less than perfect art to me. My heart ached with love as my kids talked nonstop after the games about how they played.


Then my son's team lost. Quite handedly. It was one of those games where we wondered if the kids packed their cleats and shin-guards, but not their feet and brains. And you could see it on their faces; they were just as baffled as the rest of us. They were trying. Trying hard. But nothing connected. Like everything we had done the past few weeks was undone in one night.

 One boy was devastated. He probably would have torn his clothes in mourning had he the strength. His brother, on the other hand, did manage to score- and brilliantly-on his own team. But you should have seen his face light up. I just smiled that I-can’t-break-this-kid’s-heart smile and held out my hand. With an “I scored!” he gave me five. I then gently suggested he try scoring in the opposite goal the next time.

 My son wasn’t too rocked by the loss. “We lost 9-1,” he told his Auntie Sarah, and that was about it.

 My son didn’t feel like a loser. He felt Grady Jensen, the soccer player who lost a game. He knew what was really important- that even when he lost, his mother and father still loved and cared for him. It became immediately apparent that the real demonstration of my love was much more significant when he had nothing to “offer” to earn it. His ability to keep things in perspective was an example for me to follow.

It is easy to define ourselves by our roles. We rate our job performance on a spectrum from Loser to Winner and determine God’s love accordingly. Then we lose it. Nothing connects. We wonder where we left our mind. Some days I ask God, “How can you love me? I’m such a horrible mom.” I turn myself into a mom who follows God, instead of a child of God who is also a mom. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… Ephesians 2:4-5 (boldface mine)

What makes the difference?
Relationship. A relationship entirely dependent on a loving Father. A relationship that is not contingent on what we have to offer- which is awesome because, outside of Jesus Christ, there isn’t a human being on earth that has ever made the grade.
We all lose, but we are not losers. We are champions in a very literal and eternal sense. All those other vocations we have- those are just gravy. Those are graces upon grace; things we do for the glory of God because we can, not because we have to climb some ladder of success to achieve significance. In fact, it is when we are at our lowest that we are forced to look up, and God’s love reveals itself most faithful …so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2: 7-8