Thursday, April 24, 2014

All is Redeemed {Lessons and Lunchables}

Ever get pity chips? Not the knowing nod of a veteran parent, bestowing on you some metaphorical badge of honor in the presence of a screaming toddler. I'm talking actual chips. Tortilla chips.

It started with a lunchable. My preschooler earned it by her "good" behavior (we all know the term good is about as relative as it comes) in the grocery store. We managed to make it all the way out to the van before the dessert contents were consumed. Before I even had a chance to buckle her in, the lunchable container was placed on the table between the two front seats. 

Buckled and ready to go, I glanced at the small plastic tray containing untouched meat, cheese and crackers. The only things missing were the cookies. I looked at my daughter, "What's this doing here?"

"I'm done," she informed me. 
"Really? What did you eat?"
"The cookies."
"Did you eat anything else? The meat, cheese, or crackers?"
"Why not?"
"I didn't want them."

Paying a buck and a half for a small snacky lunch, I am okay with that. Paying a buck and a half for two Oreos- I don't think so. I let her know that if she wanted any chance of watching her "Frozen" movie, she would eat two pieces of each of the other items.

So as her fit of rage commenced, I drove us to Chipotle to get my burrito bowl fix.While ordering two burritos and two bowls, my darling child clung tightly to my leg, screaming as though a puppy had been slaughtered before her eyes. Over her sobs and pleading, I calmly conveyed to the food artists which ingredients belonged in each burrito/bowl, every so often looking down and asking her if she was quite done. 

As the young man rang up my meals, he gave my daughter a pitying look. "Would you like some chips?" You can imagine the wail that erupted after his well-meant offer. 

"She's fine," I told him.

He bagged our purchases. "You can just have the chips," he whispered as he handed me the bags.

"You'll need 'em," remarked the helpful woman behind me.

I walked out the restaurant doors and texted my friend, "I have also discovered the trick to getting free chips at chipotle... it involves screaming children."

We then remained in the parking lot until one piece of meat and cheese was consumed. She choked those down along with her cracker under threat of staying in said parking lot until it was gone- overnight if necessary.

I've been pondering this post for two weeks now. Two weeks at least. Trying to figure out just how to put this. Then this past Monday night I listened to Beth Moore assure her audience that every single part of their life had been redeemed. Every part. That's what I've been thinking this whole time!

No one's life is all frosting and chocolate. No one's past is all dessert and sugar.

There are some things we'd rather just put aside and say, "I'm done now."

But the thing is- God has redeemed it all. Every single bit of it. He didn't just purchase the Sunday mornings where the sermon was absorbed, the bedtimes where every kid was tucked in all timely and peaceful.

He redeemed all of it- even the unsavory moments. Those idiosyncrasies we have that drive us crazy. the relapses. The careless, hurtful words. The death glares. The selfish moments. Unsavory, yes. Unredeemable, never.

Those moments in our past where we made the wrong decisions over and over again- when we can't even understand how or why God delivered us into the place we are now. He has redeemed those moments. He can use those for His glory. Every bit of them can be used for His glory.

There is not one part of you that God is willing to throw away.

Does He grieve over sin? Surely He does. As a parent yearns for the welfare of their child. As a husband yearns for the faithfulness of his wife. He is a holy God and cannot tolerate sin.

But our God doesn't revel in our good and tolerate our bad. He bought the whole kitten caboodle. And He can work with and on everything in our lives. Of course love like that would compel us to strive toward the goal of pleasing Him, but never once do we need worry that we don't measure up to His love.

He sent His son to do that.

Believe that. God loves you completely. Nothing is outside His grasp

His love far surpasses our failings, and it always will. Who doesn't need that?

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:14-19

Linking lately with Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

We Are Healed {Written in Wounds}

Fifth graders are cool. Perhaps you already know this. Perhaps you have the honor of housing and/or loving a fifth grader in your own family.

I don't, but for an hour or so a week, I get to interact with the beings after school. Adopt them temporarily. They meander into our church in steady stream of chatter. They snack with their friends. Then they sing (or don't sing) dorky camp songs with one of the dorkiest people I know- me.

Music has a kind of crazy magic that draws out of a person a wild abandon that just can't be released effectively through speech. Add in dancing and ridonkulous lyrics about baby sharks, and you have wholly different people. So in a way, I'm pretty much a magician. Maybe that's why I have been accepted into the tribe of fifth graders.

I was initiated yesterday. While other kids filed into the sanctuary, a lovely girl and her friend walked up to me to show off their sweatshirts. There wasn't much extraordinary about the shirts themselves, but what was scrawled on them was worthy of notice. I'm still not sure I understand why, but for some reason these girls had their friends sign their shirts. In permanent marker.

I repressed the questions of my inner mom ("And your moms are cool with this?"), and marveled at the creativity and comradery demonstrated in the multi-colored names across their arms and backs. Friends willing to sign off on these girls. They knew them and more than that, they approved of them. And they were willing to testify to that permanently.

"You wanna sign it?" She sounded so cool about it.

"Yes please," I answered. I'm not nearly so cool.

She held out her Sharpie rainbow and I selected my color. I signed her back. Because I have her back. I signed her friend's hood.

I've signed my name before. And I've signed off on the most horrible sins. Music works its magic and draws out my confession in worship:

"Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free..."

"But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities..."
-Isaiah 53:5a

Yes, I signed off on His death. You can see my signature there. No Sharpie needed. It is written in His blood.

But that's not the end of the story. He loves us too much to end it there.

"Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love."
-The Power of the Cross, by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

"...upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5b

And it is tonight and in the days to come that we receive admission to witness the most glorious of all paradoxes. The Servant King binds our wounds with His wounds. 

It's not just some cool theological mystery to ponder and solve. 

It's God the Father signing His name, His approval, onto His Son. Then clothing us in Him. 

We have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

And it's more than clothing deep. It cuts right to the heart.

Because we are His friends. (John 15:13-15)

You are His friend.

He made you that way.

Because He loves you.

It is holy week, but Jesus didn't die for this week. He died for you.

So that when we are not enough, when things don't get done, when we say that thing that we shouldn't have said, when we sign our names to Christ's murder over and over again- He shows us the truth.

"I have called you by name. You are mine." 
-Isaiah 43:1

"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."
-John 10:28


A blessed holy week to you all. I'd sign your sweatshirts any day. I pray for you in the days to come. Things have been crazy around these parts. Preparing for Easter, then Kenya. Reading the Bible in 90 days and doing a Beth Moore study simultaneously provides plenty of inspiration, but little time. Oh, and I have kids.

Which is probably why I'm linking late with Simply Beth yet again. But hey, better late than never.

Love you all!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Until Tomorrow...

I haven't written much lately. When Lent commenced, I gave my pastor's-wife-self permission to cut my writing back to once a week. Enough to keep the juices flowing without being overwhelmed by the extra demands on my time, not to mention my husband's.

I've been juggling ideas, scenarios, parables in my head these past weeks and I really can't wait to share them with you! I thought today would be the day to regale you with the harrowing tale of my daughter's debacle in Chipotle over a lunchable.

But then I couldn't sleep last night, woke up multiple times, and felt my joints throb this morning before my feet hit the ground. And my toddler screams in defiance of me leaving her immediate vicinity.

Seems like all signs are pointing to "NO" for writing today...

Maybe tomorrow.

Until then I will remember that God gives me so many yeses. So when He says no to something, He has a really really good reason. It's so He can give me a better yes. I wouldn't be where I am today if God hadn't given me some very painful, but necessary, no's in my life. My body yells no, but I'm established in Christ- so in Him everything is yes.

I'm hoping for tomorrow. I'm hoping to get these thoughts onto the screen and out of my head. But if I don't, know that I think about you so often. I don't think about the blog itself, but about those of you who read these words and find here comfort and conviction. I pray for those of you who read and laugh, read and cry. My brothers and sisters in Christ.

So, until tomorrow...

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 
Hebrews 13:8