Monday, May 28, 2012

Love Will Save the Day


Hanging in my living room is a three dollar, five by seven, wooden plaque, which claims, “Love will save the day.”
           
            Countless times I’ve crossed its path.
            
            I’ve angered in front of it. Envied, worried, and wrestled only one room away. I’ve strived, labored, stewed and festered in its presence.
            
            I’ve paced across its face. Restlessly, back and forth, back and forth.
            
            Yet, the whispers of this wooden plaque never change, never cease -- never abandon their mission.
            
            “Love will save the day,” it beckons.
           
             My children stretch my patience, exhaust my self-control, and track mud across the kitchen floor.
            
           “Love will save the day,” it calls.
           
             I lose my temper, I make another commitment – only to later break it, I mistreat the ones I adore the most, and my best intentions fall short -- again.
            
            “Love will save it the day,” it pursues.
            
            Tragedy on every channel, prodigals who have yet to come home, marriages dying, and hearts, everywhere, hardening.
            
            “Love will save the day,” it woos.
            
Relentless.

Romantic.
            
Rapturous.
            
              I can no longer resist its lure. Love’s lure. His lure.
            
             “Love will save the day,” he promises.
            
             “But will you let it? Will you let me?” He asks.
            
             Ah, but that’s just it. Do I trust enough to let go? Every hour, in my own living room, I read that “Love will save the day.” I confess with my mouth that I believe it to be so, but my emotions speak the opposite, with anxiety, doubt, and control.

           I recently read that all fear is but the notion that we do not serve a loving God. Does this mean that when I keep my fists clenched, when I fret over my busy schedule, when I wonder if things will ever change, that all I am really saying is, “My Lord doesn’t love me”?

           Oh, but he does. I re-read his love letters to aid my memory. And there it is, His Love, dripping off of every page:

What heights, what depths (Ephesesians 3:18); He loved us first (1 John 4:19); a love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19); I have loved you (John 15:9); the Father loves you (John 16:27); He gave himself for you (Ephesians 5:2); and on and on.

              I close His giant Love Letter and look around. He is writing His love for me all over the room. I hear it in the sound of my children’s laughter, I see it in the blooming of my orchid, I smell it in the brownies baking, I feel it in my husband’s caress, and I taste it in this glass of sweet tea. It’s underneath me, above me, it’s inside of me.

              I inhale deep.

            “Forgive me...” I exhale. I inhale again. The air is lighter, cleaner, less burdensome.

             How easily I forget His love. What amnesia I have when it comes to the Lord’s faithfulness.

            I glance over the rim of my laptop’s edge and read the plaque again. This time I can’t help but giggle aloud.

I am loved.

I AM loved.

I AM LOVED.

            A veil was torn, the earth shook, rocks split, and Love, forever, saved the day. (Matthew 27:51)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Upside-Down Kingdom


Captivated,

but no longer bound by chains.

Love sick,

in this upside down Kingdom,

Where
            I
               must
                        descend
to ascend;

Where I can only hold on, by letting go;

Where I can only mature, by becoming like  a little child;
                                                                
Where I only live, by dying daily,

Where I can only stand, when I'm on
                                                             my
                                                                  knees,

Where I only feel full, when I am most empty,

I’m but dust and ashes, 

yet the world was created 
                                          for 
                                               my 
                                                    sake.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

1,000 Gifts: Wild at Heart


“Can I do my Latin outside, momma?”

“Sure, baby, just don’t let Colt go out with you.”

“Thanks,” my son, Jon, heads to the back door, bookmarking his workbook with his finger.

“One second...”

He turns to me.

“You’ve got to give me a hug first.”

The corners of his mouth turn up. We meet halfway between the kitchen and the living room and he throws his arms around me. I squeeze him hard. He starts to pull away but I squeeze harder. Kids need to be touched. I’m just starting to learn this. I’m bent down to his level and my chin is resting on the nape of his neck. I take a deep breath. He smells like boy. All boy. Sweat, dirt, gravel, and adventure.

I want to pull him even tighter, but he is as close to me as he can get, so I lift him up off the ground. I quickly set him back down. I’m taken aback. He is...he is so heavy. When did this happen? I carry his little brother Colt around all day, effortlessly, but this son of mine is... heavy. I ask him to let me try picking him up again.

He laughs, “Ok...?”

“I’ll explain it later; I just want to feel how heavy you are.”

I pick him up again. I close my eyes in order to better soak in the moment. This is what 9 years feel like. 9 years of life. It feels like roughly 65lbs of weight on my arms and shoulders, but 10,000lbs pressing down on my heart.

I set him back down, cup his face, and look him straight in the eyes, “You’re 9 years old.”

He smiles and gives me a look that translates into this woman is crazy, “Yup, I’m nine. Nine years and three months, actually.”

I squeeze him again, “I’ve got 9 more years with you before you are set free; half of my time with you is over.”

I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry.

“Actually, you have eight years and 9 months,” he corrects me. This annoys me, but I know he gets his argumentative spirit honestly.

I place my hand on his heart and pray aloud, “Lord, put a desire for YOU deep down in this boy’s heart.” This time he give me a look that says, you are so weird, but I like it.

“Ok, go on outside and finish your Latin. Let me know if you need help.”

As he works outside on the back deck I watch him. My mind and heart are heavy. Fear sets in. I can’t quit thinking about the past nine years, all the ways I have failed him with my selfishness, laziness, anger, pride, and on and on.  Can I make up for it all in the next nine years? Have a completely failed him or just mildly screwed him up?

Oh Lord, help me.

As I watch him working on his Latin, I let out a loud laugh. He is trying to focus on English derivatives and memorizing “The Sanctus”, but he is distracted by the bird that keeps fluttering past him. He watches it fly to and fro. He isn’t captivated by its beauty; no, I know what he is thinking. He wants to shoot it!

Before I can even finish the thought, he transforms his pencil into an imaginary shot gun and he fires away.  He returns to his Latin, writes another couple words, and then is right back to his imaginary hunt. I watch this for several minutes and the book “Wild at Heart” comes to mind:

The recipe for fun is pretty simple raising boys: add to any activity an element of danger, stir in a little exploration, add a dash of destruction, and you’ve got yourself a winner...this doesn’t end with age, the stakes simply get higher.


The stakes simply get higher. Today he battles birds in the backyard with an imaginary shotgun, tomorrow he battles marriage, careers, and children of his own. Deep in man’s heart are some fundamental questions that simply cannot be answered at the kitchen table. Who am I? What am I made of? What am I destined for?


I know this is true but, god willing, I’ve got at least nine more years at the kitchen table with him. Ultimately, I know this little man will have to find the answers on his own, out there, in that world I so badly want to shield him from, but I am oh-so-thankful that God has given me this time here and now with him. May I never take one moment for granted.


I add another gift to my “1,000 Gifts” list: 


#27. Eight years and nine more months until he is eighteen. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

1,000 Gifts: The Pitcher's Mound

Tonight, I was not in the mood to go to my boys' baseball game. I was dreading the prospect of chasing Colt, my two-year-old, around for nearly three hours, dodging foul balls, and getting my freshly straightened hair rained on. I kept checking the weather channel for thunderstorms, but the most I could get was a 30% chance. In other words, the game isn't going to be cancelled.  I could hear pastor Joyce Meyer in my head saying, "What's the point of dreading something that you know you are going to have to do anyway?" I knew  Joyce was right, but I still couldn't shake the negativity. My "1,000 Gifts" list continued to pop into my mind but I continued to push it aside.

I arrived at the game, still not wanting to be there. As I sat there, drowning in my own little pool of negative thoughts, my own self-created, self-centered, pool of ingratitude, I reluctantly decided to work on my "1,000 Gifts" list again. So, I started looking around for gifts from God. I jotted down a couple:

#23. The breeze feels nice.
#24. I have money in my pocket to spend on junk food at the concessions.

I then notice some single mothers, sitting alone.

#25. I'm not sitting here alone.

I can feel a couple of ingratitude's tentacles release their grip on my heart. I take a deep breathe and exhale three healing, freeing, transforming words, "Thank you, Lord."

A few minutes later I see the coach call my son in from third base. I can't hear what the coach tells him but I see my son nod his head and walk towards to pitcher's mound. My heart leaps. Is he is going to get to pitch, for the first time ever!?

Every bit of remaining "pity-party" has left me...and left me on the edge of my seat. My boy did get to pitch his first game ever tonight -- and not only did he pitch, but he struck out the next 3 of 4 players!!!

Joyfully, I write out my last gift of the night:

#26. My boy pitched one heck of a game!!!




1,000 Gifts: Out of the Mouth of Babes

Today, during our morning Bible lesson, Jon's assignment was to write down 5 gifts that we receive when we become children of God. He got the first couple pretty quickly and without my prompting: Heaven and Forgiveness. He needed a little nudging to come up with the last three: Friendship with God, Answered Prayers, and Peace. I explained to him that we have Peace because we know God is ALWAYS with us and that we are never alone.

As he was writing down number five, Peace, he blurts out, "So he was with all the kidnapped kids, and murdered kids, and all the raped kids?"

I answer without thinking, "Yes!"

Uh oh, I immediately realize that I'm going to have to now explain my answer. My mind races for the best way to word my response. This is a big moment. How I answer this question could shape his faith for a long time.

I do my best, trusting God to guide my words, "We serve a good God, Jon, but, there IS evil in the world. And sometimes God allows evil things to happen, but we can trust that even in the hard times and the painful times, that God has a GOOD plan for our lives..."

He interrupts me, "Like Jesus."

I'm confused, "What do you mean, son?"

"Look at all the painful stuff that happened to Jesus. It was all part of God's good plan."

I feel a tear coming up, but I hold it back. "Yes, like that."

We didn't discuss it anymore. He got it. He gets it. It's taken me 25 years to even BEGIN grasping this concept, the concept that God is present even in our pain, and that the pain may even be a part of his GOOD plan for us, but here is my 9-year-old son, getting it.

I add two more gifts to my list...

#19. a 9-year-old asking the tough questions.
#20. a 9- year old answering the tough questions.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Digging for Treasure

As I watch my "little treasures" dig for treasure, I pray over them. I pray that they will treasure Jesus more than anything this world has to offer, even more than themselves.  This is my #1 prayer for them because I know if they treasure Christ above all, then everything else will fall in place for them. Keep digging for treasure, my little men, but Momma can already assure you, the richest treasures can only be found in Him. 

A Man in the Kitchen

He wont admit it, because it isn't "macho" but deep inside, this little man, has a love of cooking. And without letting him realize it, I'm getting him to explore this passion a little more each day. Today's creation, homemade cinnamon rolls. Sad, even at such a young age (9) we try to hide who we really are. Hopefully I can teach my child to never fear man's opinion of him. Keep cooking, baby boy, it brings me Joy!