Lent: Day 34, 35, and 36

Day 34: partaaay…

God’s been working on my heart the past few weeks through this Lenten ‘adding’.  He’s been teaching me to step out in faith and to not over-think the future.  He’s pressing on me the importance of the message…His message, and the unimportance of my fears and seemingly humble concerns.  I say “seemingly” because I am learning that my desire to be humble is actually just a way to protect self.  It is inhibiting me from actually doing what God wants me to do…share His message.

Tonight was the final meeting of the A Girl and Her Warhorse Study at Crosspoint.  To celebrate our time together, we all brought snacks.  We had popcorn, fancy cheese and crackers, cookies, cupcakes, oreo balls, and even a Chick-Fil-A nugget platter.  It ain’t a party ’til the seal on the Chick-Fil-A sauce is cracked.

I am so thankful for all the ladies that I’ve grown to know a little better over the past 8 weeks or so.  What a delight to share our stories and to remember together how faithful is our true Savior.  Tonight was particularly meaningful for me as my new friends shared feedback on the study and thoughts for the future.  What a joy to walk alongside other women through all that life throws our way.  I’m amazed at all that God continues to do. He has been pounding me with words that I’ve been needing to hear.  And He does so with such gentleness and grace.

“You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.”

Psalm 18:35 

Day 35: opportunity

Today I added an opportunity.  It’s been one of the ways God has been moving and speaking to me lately–through opportunities.  Usually, I let other tasks, like folding the laundry or cooking dinner take precedence.  Or I simply find an excuse to not answer these risky calls to action. But lately, I’ve been jumping with both feet(…as of this week).  It’s exciting to watch things unfold.  (A whole lot better than waiting for the clothes to self-fold.)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” 

Matthew 7:7

Day 36: yellow sweater

About a month ago, Helen and I were in the store when we came across some discounted fabric.  There was one bolt with some lightweight, very thin, white material with a pretty green design along its border.  In a moment of Super-Mom delusion, I agreed to make Easter dresses for the girls.

Fast-forward to day 36 of Lent.

Yeah, I totally forgot about the material and the promise of handmade dresses.  We’re going out of town tomorrow, and the last time I did math, I think 40 minus 36 was only…holy Cadbury Egg, not enough days to sew Easter dresses.

Yesterday, I found the bag of fabric stashed on the floor of the linen closet.  I started cutting and sewing the little that I could, trying to make a plan out of “no idea how I am going to do this.”

Today, I finished one dress, trying my best to meet all of my 11-year-old’s expectations.  Getting the super-fine fabric to glide under the machine’s needle without snagging was near impossible.  Which is why today, we added a yellow sweater.  Thankfully, it’s bottom edge hangs right at the waistline of the dress, hiding all the flaws of the gathered seam.

On the cross, Jesus covers me with a full-body sweater of righteousness.  It’s like a Snuggie…it covers every possible inch.  There’s not one bit of me that doesn’t receive his goodness, mercy, and forgiveness.  Thank goodness that His provision of forgiveness wasn’t a last-minute remembrance of a forgotten promise.  He had a plan of piecing His forgiveness over by brokenness since the beginning of time.  And unlike this dress, whose snags and hiccups are merely disguised, what was once flawed in us, becomes flawless in Jesus.  No more need to hide.

Now, we just pray for dress #2, whose designer is far pickier than Ava.

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Isaiah 61:10

Lent: Day 23 & 24…

Day 23: A good book

On the way back home from our Spring Break adventures, I picked up a book I’ve been slowly reading through.  A good book is hard to put down, but when you can’t even go to the bathroom without your two-year-old knocking on the door and demanding your attention, even good books take awhile to finish.

I am reading The Red Tent by Anita Diamante.  It’s a retelling of the story of Jacob found in Genesis.  It is told from the point of view of his daughter, Dinah.  It is beautifully written and contains such accurate historical and cultural detail, that I feel as though I am walking alongside Dinah on a dusty trail as she dishes her family dirt.  I hear her telling me of God’s faithfulness throughout her generation and mine.

I am thankful for these little escapes into another world, a little getaway from feeling like the toddler police are about to pound down the door.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Day 24: A pig

Our neighbors invited us to a pig roast this afternoon.  So on this 24th day of Lent, we added a pig.  It was yummy.  Sitting outside in lawn chairs, chomping down on some slow roasted pork in 65 degree weather…seriously, does life get any better than this?  I am reminded that Jesus wants me to have life abundant…I think that includes springtime skies and good food.

I am thankful for neighbors, for pigs, for beautiful spring weather, and moments like these.

“Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.”

Psalm 85:11 

Dedicated to the Realists

I attended a retreat this weekend and saw lots of friends that I just haven’t seen in either a year or more.  These sweet ladies of all ages are such a refreshment to my soul.  Their love of Jesus and the sacrifices that they have all made for the sake of the Gospel is inspiring.  Every year I look forward to spending a weekend with this “sisterhood” of women.

I sat with a very good friend who has four children of her own and is walking through the struggles that most moms of four children have–with the added component of homeschool.  She was tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed.  She commented on these blog posts of late and gently confessed that it was really hard to read most of my posts.  She found herself comparing her experiences with mine and leaving the computer screen discouraged because what I wrote about that day seemed to be on the other end of the homeschool experience spectrum from hers.  I love her so much for being honest and vulnerable with me.  I know she is reading this now, so thank you, my sweet friend.  I love you.  I told her the next post would provide a correct view of our family rehab experience so far.  Let’s be real… It has been hard.  It has been tiring.  It has been frustrating.  It has been very overwhelming.

I confess, I think that there is a discrepancy between the desperation I feel at different points of the day and the “positive spin” at the end of most of these blog entries.  It might appear that I’m not a realist.  That I’m not being honest about the overwhelming feelings of failure that can cripple me.  There is only one way to explain this–Jesus.  This blog has been the equivalent to an empty church pew for me.  Surrounded by quiet, I enter my time in front of the keyboard, with my bible in hand, the same way every time, much like I would kneel at the altar.  I enter not having any answers, not having any ideas, and only carrying the burden of the day, or the funny moment that stuck in my mind.

This blog has become the designated space and time of the day that I rest in thought at the feet of Jesus.  Often, I just start retelling my day, the high points and the low, and sometimes the mundane.  Somewhere along the way, as I process the day in letters, words, and sentences, the promises and themes of Jesus’ love and faithfulness rise to the surface of my mind.  They sit on my forehead between my wrinkled brows as I ponder and think about the day at a deeper level than if I hadn’t taken my seat in front of the sanctified computer screen.  For me, there is something about having to reflect on my day with such intentionality and persistence, in order to produce a 2 minute read, that seems very appropriate for “family rehab.”

I can’t describe it, but taking the intentional time to think through even the simplest of things or the most frustrating of circumstances, helps me shape my otherwise bland or disappointing day.  My day doesn’t differ from my friends’ day all that much.  The details might be different, but the struggles are still the same.  I am attacked with folly and failure every day.  I am attacked with frustration and fatigue every hour.  I am attacked with fear and fickleness towards this crazy “family rehab” every minute.   It’s the time that I spend in front of a blank, white and intimidating computer screen at the end of the day that helps me gain perspective.

The process of reflecting at the end of the day and intentionally writing down what comes to mind, forces out those truths that creep up from deep within my gut and get stuck in the middle of my brow.  They just sit there until the Spirit draws connections and distributes meaning.  Then things start to make sense… other scripture comes to mind… and the bible gets opened and the healing words of Jesus start to wash over all that angst and frustration that I wore on my shoulders when I sat in my empty-church-pew-repurposed-computer-chair.

Jesus says in John 16:13-14, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”  When those truths of scripture come to mind–the truths about my value resting in Jesus, the truths about my purpose resting in Jesus, the truths about my trust resting in Jesus–it is the Spirit of God, “the Helper”, Jesus calls him, that is doing exactly what Jesus promised he would do.  He guides me to the truth about my day.  He declares to me the things that are to come.  He gives me whispers that something special is happening in this intentional time of “family rehab.”  He reveals to me the glory of Jesus, reminding me of all that Jesus has done for my sake, His death in my place.  He takes what Jesus says His purpose is for me, His love is for me, His endless, love-filled, pursuit is for me, and declares it to me.

I cannot type the final period without coming to a place of rest in those truths each and every time I sit down at the computer.  I cannot press publish without coming to the end of my means for the day.  It might seem that I have a positive spin on even the most hair-pulling, tear-filled, unproductive day, but what is happening in these blog posts is the work of the Holy Spirit on my heart.  He comes and transforms my mind, heart, and soul.  He pulls me out of my emotions and reminds me of the reality of His love and my identity found in Him.  That’s why I type, I write, I meditate on His word.  That’s why I have a relationship with a God who is living, because He’s the only God that has power that is moving and touching the depths of my gut, heart, and wrinkled brow.

Being a Christian doesn’t mean you write a blog every night to process your thoughts and feelings.  But, it does mean you engage with a living, loving, and limitless God who seeks to bring joy and peace to every facet, every minute of your life.  Loving Him and seeking Him, whether in a church pew, in front of a computer screen, or in the depths of your still and quiet heart, changes things.  It changes everything.  It renews.  It refreshes.  It reveals that there is more to life than what the world offers. Having that kind of God, who sends a Helper into the depths of even the most frustrating or overwhelming of days, and turns it into a deeper, more meaningful exploration of who He is, makes faith a REAL, meaningful part of life.  It makes even me a realist.