Saturday, April 19, 2014

"But this is your hour- when darkness reigns."

Tomorrow will be a day of celebrating and laughing, a time of family and friends and giving thanks for the ultimate gift of salvation. Some people won't think much of it, some will be brought to their knees in gratitude.

Easter Sunday. So important...but not by itself.

Without Good Friday, Easter Sunday would never have come. To have the city praising him and waving palm branches just a week ago, to Luke 22 and after...shame. That's what I feel. I know my fickleness could have lead me to be one of those in the crowd- a shouting, angry face.

We had the chance to attend a Good Friday Service this year, and as I listened to the accounts of Jesus' last earthly moments, the scripture reading and the medical accounts of His scourging and death, I kept thinking of something I read this week about grace. I have been doing a study by Kay Arthur, and she says throughout that when we are faced with our own sin, when we are ready to confess...we can choose to run to Mount Sinai, or we can run to Mount Calvary.

It's such a tangible idea, to run in one direction or the other. Both towards God, but with very different results.

The author said:
"Remember, it was at Calvary that God inaugurated the covenant of grace as He put to death His Son, the covenant Lamb.
Sinai was the mountain on which the Law was inaugurated as Moses "took the blood of the calves and the goats...saying "THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU TO KEEP". (Hebrews 9:19-20)
To run to Sinai is to try in some way to do penance for your sins, to do some sort of good deed to make up for failing God."

But grace..."grace is found at Calvary".(chapter 6 of "Lord, I Need Grace...")

Oh, how wonderful is that? We keep striving to BE better, to DO better, to try harder to stop being insufficient and weak...when, we will always be completely unable to satisfy the perfection God requires. Until we fall under the sacrifice and forgiveness of Jesus.

Wonderful, wonderful. This weekend is a sad time when you realize what it cost. But it is also the most freeing weekend of the year really, when we choose to embrace all that it stands for.

The pastor said at the beginning of the service to think on what the "Grave" means to us personally. The grave of Christ...and at the end He asked people to just shout out their thoughts. To hear older adults speaking of "grace" and "mercy", young little voices shouting out "forgiveness" and "joy".
I had thought of the word "love" when I pictured Jesus' grave, but as I was just impossible to see any one word or phrase that could possibly define it.

And that's what is so great about God's sacrifice- it's bigger, and better, and more complete than we can ever really understand. Thank you, Father. Thank you for being so much more than we can imagine.

Happy Easter, Friends. Enjoy your eggs and candy and family, while you lift your hands in praise to the One who gave you everything.
"If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1John 1:8-9

If you need someone to celebrate Easter with and are local, Thomas Jefferson Middle School will be the place to be at 10 AM Sunday. Be there and worship with us!
3000 NW 119th St, Vancouver, WA 9868

(Pics are just for fun- the last few weeks have been full of landscaping and gardening, of love and friendship. Hard things that break our hearts, good things that remind us tomorrow is a new day, and Jesus with us through it all.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"Don't be that guy."

As I was talking with my son the other day, I realized how often we have used the sentence, "Don't be that guy." over the years. For us, it's a catch phrase to represent "That Guy" we all recognize and don't particularly like.
"Don't be that guy"...who never keeps his word.
"Don't be that guy"...who views women as eye candy.
"Don't be that guy"...who takes more than he gives.
"Don't be that guy"...who is too lazy to find ways to help the people around him.
"Don't be that guy"...who wants to be first at all costs.
It's unspoken meaning that our family recognizes to be "That Guy"... who's behavior dishonors God.

But as we were talking, I kept coming back to the fact that I never once use the phrase "Don't be that girl". And so many times, it would have been appropriate.

Awhile ago I got to catch up with a sweet lady who I hardly see anymore and the topic came around to Facebook and how I wish she posted more often because seeing her happy little life made me smile.

Her response shocked me...and made me a little mad.

She said she really doesn't post anymore because a friend told her once that she didn't like to see how "perfect your life is" and it made this friend angry.

Seriously. This dear, sweet thing felt that she couldn't share all her praises and happiness because it was causing her friend to stumble. As tender and sweet as she is, this conversation spotlighted one of the saddest things about us. Comparison, coveting, whatever...
Her friend's own bitterness and ugly refusal to be joyful in HER circumstances caused her to steal joy from those around her.

"Don't be That Girl"...How often do we feel that twinge of jealousy as women, because we want what someone has. From the outside, we view another woman to BE more, HAVE more, fill in the blank, when all we need to do is look UP instead of around and we would be completely satisfied.

We can go to Philippians 4 and see what God's prescription for contentment really is- being satisfied in Him alone- but how many of us know that with our heads, but don't, or won't, work it out in our hearts? 

Please, sisters...make it a priority to WORK it out. Stop comparing and start praising God for what He is doing in your life, not what you wish He would do. Rejoice when your friends see blessings and help them along this rocky road of life.
Don't be That Girl...who can't be happy in what God is doing for others because you want it.
Don't be That Girl...who can't be satisfied because someone skinnier or prettier is in the room.
Don't be That Girl...who says catty things to another because her kids look better behaved than yours.
Don't be that girl...who's behavior dishonors God. 

Don't be that girl that YOU wouldn't want to be friends with.

We are in this boat together, and it's such a better ride when we use our "oars" for rowing in sync rather than as clubs to beat each other down.

"Who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who among the angels is like the Lord? God is highly respected ...He’s more wonderful than all those who are around him." Psalm 89:6-7

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sometimes...I am so sentimental, I make MYSELF sick.

What a month! Tuesday I gave the keys back to my little house. And now I sleep in a room that isn't my own, in a bed I don't recognize, and looking out windows that hold no familiarity. How silly to love the change, but struggle with it at the same time.
We had no intention of moving out of our little Felida house until we bought a place back out in the country, where we could have our horses and dogs and the seclusion we love. "Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house..." and all that. We struggled with how small our house was, the bigger our family got the more we felt the difficulties of not having a dining room, or enough seating in the living room for when the kids came over.

But it was perfect for just Steve and I, and I loved my yard. So many pretty little things I had planted and watched grow.
* I could sit and picture Danny's long legs swallowing up the driveway as he came to say hello- bursting through the screen door and full of fun conversation.
* Caitlyn and Jazz riding bikes to the country store and eating disgusting things...just because they could.
* Spencer zipping down the drive on his bike to get a glimpse of his "true love"...loving and hurting for him yet wanting to grab a broom and sweep him away at the same time. 
* My kids running and laughing and playing and crying. Ping Pong, basketball, and everything that defines being a teenager.
 * Long talks snuggled up in blankets on the porch, watching the sun go down.
* Water fights, babysitting cousins, Little House on the Prairie marathons that made us laugh and cry all at the same time. 
* TAG girls lounging on my sofa and telling me their hearts, loving them all the more because of what God was doing through them...and they sometimes didn't even know it. 
* Parties and family and friends and joy.
* Hard memories too, ones that still sting.
But even that was difficult to let go because it defined a time in our lives where God did amazing things and proved again how faithful and loving He is in spite of us.

I think Jordan said it best, the day we moved the beds in and he recognized what was missing. "Mom, how weird is it that there are only two beds now." My man child, seeing the emptiness that happens as we grow up and move on. We are such nomads, he has moved a million times so it's no big deal. But every other time, he has had his sister right there next to him. Laughing as they pack treasures that hold wonderful memories. Having Nerf wars as they unpack and explore the new hiding places. But this time, there's no bed in the room next to his. There's no laughter from a crazy, fun, baby sister running in to show you an old picture she found. There's just being grown up. And starting something new.

I felt it best when I heard a knock at the door and opened it to find my daughter standing there.
"Why on earth did you knock, love? You know you can come right in."
"I don't have a key, Mom. This isn't my house."
Oh, you can imagine the tears.
So sentimental. It's actually pathetic.

But when God opens a door, it's a good thing to walk through it. So here I sit, finally having a minute to breathe...away from cardboard boxes, cleaning and painting, loading and unloading. And as different and odd as I feel, I can choose to thank God for all the blessings.

We have had guests that aren't sitting on the floor. Baby Bee has her own playroom where she can explore, chat with her angel fish, and rock with me as we read stories and make up fairy tales. We use to call our house "A Hobbit Hole" because it was so dark and wet, but this house is filled with light and openness.
The moment that I finally stopped crying about what was, and looking forward to what is was on Wednesday. A dear, sweet girl who was in my high school group- now so beautiful and grown up- stopped by to say hello and shine light and love into my day. It blessed my heart so much and gave me hope.
She has no idea how much God used her to slap me straight.
It gave me hope in the NEW memories we would make. The new adventures we will have and the new ways we can serve God. My address is just address. Nothing else has changed.

It helped that she brought me double chocolate brownies with a chocolate chip cookie topping. She knows me.

Thank you, Lord for the way you move us and shake up our world. Thank you for teaching us to "hold all thing lightly, and nothing tightly". I love you. The sun is shining, and this yard is CALLING my name. Flowers and weeds and rocks and dirt, I'm coming for YOU.

" Never stop reading this... Day and night you must think about what it says. Make sure you do everything that is written in it. Then things will go well with you. And you will have great success. Here is what I am commanding you to do. Be strong and brave...Do not lose hope. I am the Lord your God. I will be with you everywhere you go.” Joshua 1:8-9
(One of my last memories of the old house, celebrating Bee and Spencer's birthdays. )

(No blog is complete without admiring this little cutie. She's ONE!)