Lent: Day 40

Day 40: Sesame Street Seder

Today is Maunday Thursday, the conclusion of Lent, and the embarking of the journey to the cross.  Today we add to Lent the remembrance of Passover, of the meal that Jesus shared with His disciples, the bread and the wine, the body and the blood.

This evening, I plan on putting together a small Seder for my family.  The meal remembers the story of Passover, how God rescued His people from Egypt through Moses and brought them to the promised land.  Each food of the meal has meaning and purpose.   A roasted lamb shank bone, the Z’roa, is the culmination of the meal, symbolizing the lamb that the Jews sacrificed as the special Passover offering when the Temple stood in Jerusalem.  Most Jews celebrate this feast, and as Christians, it is an important part of our story as well.  Jesus is the final passover lamb that was sacrificed once and for all.  We have no need to make further sacrifices to our God.  Jesus paid the ultimate price.

This morning as I sat down to write, ironically, I overheard Sesame Street explain a Seder Meal.  Grover was on the hunt for horseradish.  It’s the maror, or bitter herb that represents the bitterness of the Israelites slavery in Egypt.  He was looking in all the wrong places, like a horse stall, for example.  It had to be explained to Grover that horseradish is a root vegetable that grows underground.  It would have to be dug up.

I often look in all the wrong places for the source of my bitterness.  My slavery, my sin, my discontent–I think it might come from my vocation, or lack thereof.  I sometimes blame finances or lack of opportunities.  I look to others, my spouse and my kids, as the reason I am chewing on potent bitterness.  But the fact is that I have to get on my knees and get a little dirty to dig it up.

Usually, the bitterness that I live with is found deep in my heart of hearts.  It is usually grounded in an untruth about God and His sovereignty and provision.  It is usually rooted in a distrust of God and His love for me and His promises.  I don’t see my circumstances as part of a larger divine plan.  Even the Israelites’ captivity in Egypt was purposeful.  It was a part of a bigger plan, a greater story…one that pointed to freedom, one that whispered the name of Jesus.

Did you know, in the middle ages, horseradish had medicinal purposes?  When I am on my knees in prayer, digging up roots of bitterness, I usually find that identifying my erroneous view of God has great healing qualities.  Bitterness is replaced with contentment, even joy, because what is false is replaced with the sweetness of truth.  And, the name of Jesus is usually whispered into the dark places of my heart.

I am grateful for this “adding to Lent” journey.  I have noticed blessings that, had it not been for Lent, would have gone unnoticed.  The great redemptive power of Jesus, to replace all bitterness and death with sweetness, beauty, and life–this is what I long for.  This is what I search for daily: His pulling out of the dirt that which is intended for my good.

Happy Digging 🙂

“O Lord, by these things men live,
and in all these is the life of my spirit.
Oh restore me to health and make me live!
Behold, it was for my welfare
that I had great bitterness;
but in love you have delivered my life
from the pit of destruction,
for you have cast all my sins
behind your back.”

Isaiah 38:16-18

Lent: Day 37, 38 and 39…

37: garage sale 

Our neighborhood held its annual garage sale this morning.  The streets were packed with cars and bargain hunters.  We were on the lookout for two armed chairs to complete our dining room table set.  We never found any, but we did come across something we didn’t even know we needed…an old school desk.  Once we brought it home, it was immediately put to use by the kids.  Who knew we needed this desk?  I guarantee that this buy has already been used more in one day than the chairs we were looking for would have been used in an entire year.

I think of all the times I am searching and praying to find particular objects, circumstances, or opportunities, and God has something completely different in mind for me.  Sometimes I wonder why I even look to begin with if I’ve got the wrong shopping list in hand!  But if I had never gone perusing down the block for dining chairs, I’d never noticed the desk.  I think God gives us desires to get us simply out of the house.  He places things on our hearts to just get us off the stinkin’ couch, only to lead us to the things we really need and can truly benefit from.  I don’t know if I’d gone through all the trouble of navigating the busy and congested streets of our neighborhood for one old schoolhouse chair.

I wonder what other special finds God has sitting in someone’s driveway for me…and you?  We’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled.

 “The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.”

Psalm 146:8

38: celebration

Today we celebrated my niece’s First Communion and the wedding of a dear friend.  It was a day full of celebration.  What a wonderful thing to add to Lent.  It’s not too often that we associate celebration with Lent.  However, today was also Palm Sunday, a day marked with joyous celebration.

When the people waved their palm branches as Jesus entered the city, they had no idea how their hearts and cheers were going to shift in a week’s time.  Did that lessen their praise?  Did Jesus hear, “hosanna!” and think to himself, “yeah, right, just wait and hear what you’ll say to me on Friday…”?  I don’t think so.  I think Jesus lived in the moment.  I think He received the praise and honor from the people.  I think He knew what was coming, but He also was riding on that donkey fully taking in every face He saw, every song He heard.

I tend to worry through even the good times–worrying about what’s to come, never fully taking in the moment. Even at this wedding full of good friends, beautiful weather, and yummy cake, every time I paused to consider what a great time I was having, I immediately thought of the 3-hour drive home and the early morning battle to get to school on time.  It was such a joy-kill.

I pray that I learn to live in the moment with joy and celebration.

 “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:11

39: bad math

So I realized today that somehow my Lenten math is off.  I thought today, Monday, was the 39th day of Lent.  Then a google search revealed that the official 40th day of Lent is Thursday, April 2nd.  I’m totally boggled about where I went wrong!  Oh, well!  I will take this as a gift from God.  Now, I’ve got till Thursday to write the my last Lenten post.  Thank you, Jesus!  Because honestly, I’m tired and have a cold, and all I want to do is sleep. There’s really no point in hiding it.  We all feel apathetic and tired at some point.  His grace covers even those emotions, and it it sufficient for them.  There’s no need to feel guilty or to bear shame because I’m not feelin’ it today.

Thank you, Jesus, for releasing me from guilt and bad math.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”

John 1:16 

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

Day 32 & 33…

Day 32- clean sheets and pork

Today when I woke up, I decided it was time to wash the sheets.  I started with the baby crib, because of course he would need to use it again before any of the rest of us.  Next, my sheets.  Why?  Because I am selfish.  There is nothing worse than looking forward to clean linens when you are headed to the bedroom, only to remember you left them in the washer all day soaking wet.  I wanted to avoid that happening to me at all cost, even if it meant someone else had to spend another night on dirty sheets.

As my sheets were in the dryer, I was preparing dinner. (Yes, you did the math correctly, there are a lot of missing hours in there…I may have gotten a little distracted.) We were making pizza and I was frying up some Italian sausage.  I love me some pork.  As I was browning the deliciousness, I thought about the Old Testament law that forbid eating pig.  What, dear Lord, were you thinking?

Then, I thought about how that all changed when Jesus came and Peter had that vision about eating unclean animals.  (It was really all about Jesus accepting all of us people, the Jew and the Gentile, but whatever….)  Oh, sweet Jesus came and gave us back “the other white meat!”  Ava has a shirt that says, “BACON…another reason I know Jesus loves me.”  Oh, yes. Yes, he does.

Pork is great.  Pork chops, bacon, tenderloin, pork roast, carnitas…even pork rinds…all good.  What is even better is that Jesus made the unclean clean.  The freedom acquired by His sacrifice on the cross allows us all kinds of good things, including forgiveness, a clean record,  and new life.  Just like my dirty sheets rolling in the dryer, we have all been given a fresh start, a clean slate.  There is nothing like it…well, except maybe sliding into a clean bed with a full belly.  AMEN.

“And I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ ” 

Acts 11:7


 Day 33- Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff was in Houston this morning promoting his book, Do Over, and offering a short discussion and networking opportunity called “Do Over Club.”  The New York Times best-selling author really challenged me in his approach to opportunity and risk, and especially self-promotion.  He said when we do something awesome, we should tell people about it.


That is really, really hard for me!  Out of fear of not being humble, I keep my mouth shut about most of what I do that turns out well, (even if it’s finally getting the right number of seconds on the microwave, finding that perfect medium between lukewarm hotdog and wiener explosion).  I am more inclined to talk about how I could improve, try harder, or just be different.  I was encouraged by his upbeat, fearless, and carefree attitude.

In the spirit of taking risks and jumping into opportunities, I gave him a copy of my book, A Girl and Her Warhorse.  I discovered that I wasn’t completely at a loss for words, which was surprising, but also that my deodorant is not meeting-best-selling-author-proof.  He may not read it, which I’m secretly praying for, because that means all risk is void and nothing is lost.  When I consider him actually opening it, I start to panic and freak.  What if he thinks it’s stupid?  Not well written?  Boring?

And then I remember, (again), that I’ve got to just trust Jesus.  I need to lean on what He has done for me through this process.  My relationship with Jesus is deeper due to writing this book. God may have done all of this–led me down this path–just for His pursuit of my heart.  I pray that He uses the book to foster the same intimacy for others, but if it’s just for me…I can be happy with that.

So thank you, Jon Acuff.  Unknown to you, I added you to Lent.  Thanks for encouraging us and softening the awkwardness of taking leaps of faith.  I will just keep walking through the doors in front of me, in fear, yes, but jumping through them.  I will apply lots of hustle and jump a little more.  I’ll just keep smiling and rejoicing at the awkwardness that ensues.  I’m feeling a flip in my heart when it comes to this journey.  Thank you.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 40:3

Day 28, 29, 30, and 31…

Day 28- amnesia

The weekend was so full that I got behind on writing.  Now, I honestly don’t remember what I did on Thursday.  I do remember it not being a very great day for the Goeke family.  A lot of hurt was incurred.  It’s probably a good thing I can’t recall all that happened on that day.  Even in my forgetfulness, I am reminded of all that I receive because of Easter morning.  Namely, God’s merciful amnesia:

 “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12

Day 29- pow, pow

We surprised the kids by taking them to the Rodeo after school.  Paul and I had a chance earlier in the month without children.  Now, we wanted them to experience all the drama and excitement for themselves.  As the rodeo began, the stadium lights went out and fireworks were set ablaze.  Judah, stood in my lap, bug-eyed and jaw-dropped.  When all the smoke of the indoor explosions cleared, in a faint voice he said, “pow…pow…”  I said, “Yeah, Buddy, that was cool, huh…” To which he replied, “Mo…mo…”  Unfortunately, he had to wait 3 hours through all the rodeo events for more fireworks.  We took in the dust and the smell of livestock waiting for more big bang action.

To be “powed” by the Maker, by the display of His glory…this is the effect the cross and resurrection can have on us, if we are willing to bear our eyes wide to the expansive explosion of all time that occurred there.  All Old Testament prophesy collided in the man, Jesus, who proved His God-nature by rising from the dead three days later.  It all met at the cross, at the tomb, there with Mary as she looked up to the glowing face that knew her name.

Honestly, I never rest in that moment very often or for very long.  I rarely think about that morning, when she ran to tell all the others that their beloved Jesus was no longer dead.  I’m not taken in by the ‘pow’ daily.  I focus more on all the manure of the mundane life I live.  If only I could marvel more at the resurrection and take in some spiritual “pow.”

“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’  Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’  She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

 John 20:15-16

Day 30- showers

Today, I took a shower then went to a bridal shower in a rain shower.  The day seemed to be covered in showers.  Sheets of water fell behind window panes set as a backdrop for the future bride as she was showered in gifts, blessings, prayers, and words of wisdom.  I was reminded of The Red Tent by Anita Diamant.  Women of all generations festively helping to usher the next young bride into the tent of marriage.  Such joy, such hope, such beauty.

Adding these varying kinds of showers to Lent has been a helpful reminder, yet once again, of all that is showered upon me through Jesus: His joy, His hope, His beauty.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

Isaiah 61: 1-3

Day 31- worship

This morning I had a chance to be a part of the worship team at church.  What joy it is to worship.  I am thankful for the opportunity to humbly worship Jesus, whether from my seat, or the stage, or by the side of my baby’s crib.

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.”

Psalm 29:2