Catch

Genesis 22:12 
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

My dog Trixie’s version of catch is pretty hilarious. She begs us to throw a stick to her and she gallops across the yard to catch it. Once she retrieves it, tail wagging, she gleefully brings the stick back to us, hoping for another toss. She is excited and ready to let that stick go-until I reach for it. Then she grits her teeth and holds onto that stick with a death grip like no other. The game becomes a wrestling match. She really wants to play catch but she can’t trust me to give that stick back once she lets it go.

Trixie and her stick are how I feel about giving God control over my life. I will praise Him. I will pray to Him.  I will seek out a relationship with Him. But man-I don’t want to give Him that stick all the time either.

I talk a big game, tail wagging and all, but do I really ever want to give Him total and absolute control? Nope. I grit my teeth down too. When something goes wrong or I need to make a tough decision, I don’t turn to Him first. I’m just like Trixie, biting onto my stick, trying to do everything for myself first and not Him.

When God asked Abraham to take his precious son on top of that mountain, Abraham did it. He trusted God even when he was being asked to do something he could never understand.

He let go of the stick. He had faith in the Lord’s path for him.

After a few minutes of wrestling, Trixie will let go of the stick for another toss.

I hope one day she does it instantly and without question.

I hope to one day do it instantly without question as well.

 

Greater

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

My oldest child is almost 12, It’s feels weird even typing that, but we are steadily heading into these teen years at a roaring, never slowing down pace. He is moody, happy, moody, happy. He is loving, not loving, loving, not loving. He is sensitive about everything and I am never right. He wants to spend time with me. He doesn’t want to spend time with me. He ignores me in public, yet begs for conversation time at home. He is standing on the cusp of change and, while he yearns for independence, he also clings to what makes him feel safe and secure. Even if we fight like cats and dogs, at the end of the day, he knows his mom and dad are always on his side.

Sometimes I feel like my relationship with Jesus is the same as Brady’s relationship with me. I push Him away, I ignore Him and I am moody with Him. I don’t need Him and then I do need Him. Then I don’t and then I do. It is the same cycle over and over again.

I am thankful for His patience. Brady’s moods can certainly cause me to lose it instantly. Jesus, however, is there with open arms ready to wrap me up safely and securely. Even when I stray, over and over again. It’s not a patience I deserve.

Yet it’s one He is always willing to give.

His love is greater than anything I can ever imagine.

He will always be on my side.

No matter what.

Messy Trails

2 Corinthians 5:17
 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

My darling Eli leaves a trail behind wherever he goes… it can be clothes, trash, food, toys or anything really.  He always  manages to leave  a mess of some sort. At church this morning it was a trail of offering envelopes left behind in the pew.  He opened three of them, attempted to make paper air planes and then crash landed them all onto the floor.

You can always tell when Eli has been somewhere.

There is always that trail. That same messy trail.

Eli isn’t the only person who leaves behind messy trails. As humans, we are all guilty of messy trails.  Whether it’s with our words or with our behavior, we can look in our rear view and see all sorts of chaos that we have helped to create.

While Eli is my true master of messiness, he does manage to also leave behind plenty of non-messy things along the way. He fills our days with lots of hugs and kisses, plenty of funny dance moves and countless kind gestures. We can’t help but be so frustrated with the mess when it’s wrapped up in so much love.

Jesus loved plenty of people who left behind some huge gigantic messes. They were sinners who came to be redeemed. They turned their messes into masterpieces.

Jesus knows we are all imperfect. He sees our messes. Every single one of them. Yet, he yearns for us to make theses messes into masterpieces. To take what we have left behind and wrap it up with love. To be easy with our words, to fix our past behaviors, and to love with all that we can.

He yearns for us to truly be in Christ. Cleaning up our past messes and trying our best when a new mess comes along.

Now as cute and as sweet as he is, Eli still needs to pick up his own messes.  The empty Capri Sun containers and the Goldfish crumbs are certainly not making my home look like a masterpiece anytime soon.

I don’t care how many kisses he gives me.

Ready

Exodus 14:14  “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

We became friends  because we shared a love for literacy (and Mexican food, and well just overall food in general really). I was two years ahead of her in high school and, even after we graduated, I would run into her every now and again. We would talk about teaching or getting our Master’s degrees ( I ended up going through the same program as her at Longwood) or talk about our kids (my spunky boys and her spunky girls). We eventually ended up working together (she got me a job  at her elementary school and then we both went off to a new adventure-co department chairs-teaching English at a middle school. We were excited. And nervous. And excited.

Our excitement faded fast. It ended up being a year filled with grief for us both. Lindsey lost her precious brother in law. I lost my dad. We struggled. We cried. We leaned on each other. Through our tragedies we became sisters. We became family.

I watched Lindsey suffer and I watched her pray. I watched her lean on Jesus in her darkest times. I watched her pick herself up with a deep rooted strength that could only come from above.

Her faith fascinated me. It shook me, intrigued me, pushed me. Her faith helped me to cope with my own grief.

Her faith also showed me what a relationship with Christ was really supposed to look like. She was friends with Jesus. I didn’t know anything about that. I wanted to be friends with Him too.

By God’s grace we ended up at the same church. Here, we got to experience a new level of our friendship. One where we worshiped together, prayed together, and served together. We spend every other Sunday together in the nursery, catching up and loving on our church babies. (And I annoy her with my singing)

A few years ago, Lindsey and her husband became foster parents. It was a difficult decision. Made with a whole lot of prayer and a whole lot of faith. And it has not been easy. It has been an experience that has made her question God’s purpose and God’s timing more than once.  I have seen her breathless, anxious, and completely terrified.  I have seen her tired. And stressed. And completely at her wit’s end.

I have seen her stare into the unknown with a fear that I can’t even comprehend.

But I have also seen my best friend love.

She has loved more than she ever thought was possible.  I have seen her give more of herself than she ever thought she could offer.

This week, my sister once again looks into the unknown and she will place her fears at the  Lord’s feet.  He will hold her close and love her just as she has loved her own babies.

She will stand again in that deep rooted faith, surrounded by that deep seeded love. She will take the Lord’s hand and let Him guide her through the storm. She will take a deep breath. She will be still.

And she will be ready.

 

 

 

 

Found

Proverbs 8:17 “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

Today, I woke up to one of those lovely mornings when I couldn’t find anything that I needed. My shirt, my coffee creamer, my shoes- it seemed like every time I turned around, I was missing something. I ended up leaving the house late and I started my day off in a less than stellar mood.

I did manage to come to a realization in my moment of chaos. As I rummaged through my fridge, saying some not so nice words about my husband (I was certain he had hidden the creamer from me on purpose) I realized that before I started walking with Jesus, my entire life seemed to be an endless morning of not being able to find the coffee creamer.

I was always looking for something. I was always searching for something. It was always in the wrong place. It was never where I thought it would be.

The spot right next to Jesus, where I can be held carefully in His arms, wrapped up in His sovereign protection, is the best place I have ever found.

I no longer need to search for or find any other kind of happiness. I am content with just Him. My heart is joyful and it is at peace.

He is truly all I will ever need.

Well Him and just a little bit of creamer in my coffee.

 

 

 

 

Good Directions

 

My mom has never been good at directions. Seriously, the woman gets lost in the grocery store. And driving places has always been a source of anxiety for her. Many of my earliest childhood memories consist of my shy British mother taking us on trips  in the car and that trip quickly turning into an adventure. We would  get lost for hours on end, sometimes wondering if we were ever going to make it back home.

I look back on those pre-cell phone, pre-Siri memories with such fondness now. My mother was raising three kids, all a year apart, and I’m sure getting her three babies all out of the house,  piling us into her little Ford Tempo, was her only way to keep sane most days.

Shirley may not know how to get from point A to point B very well, but man, she sure knew how to raise three children. She might still get lost in Target, but she always managed to kept me steered on the right path, even  when her own life took a complete 180.

Many people see my Mom as a sweet, shy, slightly sarcastic British lady. And she is all of those things. She is kind, always thinking about her special education students and worrying about their needs.  And she is funny, in her very dry, Absolutely Fabulous kind of way. But what they don’t see is her fighting spirit. My mom’s desire to never give up, even when we felt like our life had been driven off a cliff, shaped me more than she will ever know.

And then, when we did find our way back home, my mom’s willingness to choose forgiveness and to choose love, was a lesson that will be forever  ingrained on my heart. She didn’t have to take that road. She could have never looked back. But she forgave. And for that she will always be my hero. My role model. My example.

It is so hard to see God’s reasons in the hardships we endure. Especially, when we are in the midst of the storm.  But the lessons I learned from my mom’s trials, and her responses to them, helped to shape the woman I have become today.

I hope I am a person who navigates this world with arms swinging. Ready for whatever road life takes me down.

But one who ultimately still chooses love.

One who will teach the same fighting spirit and same forgiving heart to my own two sons. One who will teach them that hardships help mold us, help shape us, help grow us.

I know I have a lot to live up to.

Happy Birthday to my absolutely fabulous Mum. Thank you for steering me in the right direction. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for forgiving.

Thank you for always getting us back home.

 

Puzzle Time

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

In an attempt to bring a little calmness back to my hamster wheel life, the boys and I have been spending our evenings working together on a puzzle. There is just something special about that time for me. There are no electronics. There is no running around. No yelling. Puzzles tend to bring your voice level down and make everything just a little bit calmer.

My goal for these moments is uninterrupted quality time with my two darlings. They are growing up on me. The vastness of their childhood that once stretched on for miles seems to be shrinking every single second.

I also find it amusing that my boys approach the puzzle in two completely different but predictable ways. Their personalities shining through completely. Brady is careful. He is precise. His hands are made for putting together puzzles after hours and hours of building Lego sets. He will spend time looking for just the right piece in just the right order.  Puzzle time with Brady is peaceful and relaxing.

And then there’s Eli. He doesn’t get this whole puzzle piece fitting into another puzzle piece thing. If it doesn’t fit, he makes it fit.  He will cram two pieces together and keep on going. Not caring whether they fit together or not.

It’s pretty amusing. As his mother, I praise him and move the pieces apart when he’s not looking. He’s too busy cramming two other pieces together to even notice.

It’s in these moments I laugh about how I try so often to cram certain things into my life that just don’t fit. God is clearly telling me that they don’t but I keep on pushing anyways. I am stubborn just like Eli and I refuse to see that my two pieces are not supposed to be together. Thankfully, just like I do with Eli, Jesus moves the pieces apart for me when I refuse to do it myself.

I’m grateful for a God who continues to love me endlessly. Even with a few bumpy areas that refuse to sit down.  Not smooth and complete, like I would like it to be, but broken and awkward.

Stubborn but thankful.

Thankful for a God who is always working, carefully and precisely, on His masterpiece.