Lent: Day 25, 26, & 27…

Day 25: intentions

I had good intentions of getting a lot done today, including adding something to Lent.  It didn’t happen…any of it.

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15 


Day 26: insanity

Today I unintentionally added insanity to Lent:

My little raccoon dumped a bag of chili cheese Fritos on the master bathroom floor mat.  It looked like the Pyramid of Giza piled atop white Egyptian sand.

He stole his sister’s deodorant and hacked it into little pieces all over the upstairs bathroom.  Moisture-blocking deodorant, when ground into a fluffy bath mat, is very hard to clean.

He locked himself in the bathroom while I was making an important business call.  We don’t have a key.

He threw multiple toys over the banister…after I had just taken them upstairs to the toy room.

He removed and hid all the printer ink cartridges…as I was trying to print copies of music for Sunday.

He ninja-swiped open dirty diapers as I tried to change him.  I am so done with poop.

All of this was before 10:00 am.

I didn’t have time to add something inspirational today…(hello, reality…thanks for showing up uninvited.)

“Be gracious to me, O God, for man (boy) tramples on me; all day long an attacker (a toddler) oppresses me”  

Psalm 56:1


Day 27: coffee creamer

So, obviously the last couple of days have been ridiculous, but let’s be honest.  This is life for most people: crazy.  When asked how things are going, we all say it:  “Busy.”  “Crazy”  “insane.”  This is the norm for most of us, especially if we’ve got lots of responsibilities, whether it be tasks at work, or children at home, or a combination of the two.

Again, I got nothing done today.  I seemed to rush and rush, strive and toil, with little to nothing to show for it.  When I left to go pick up the kids from school, the house was still a mess, laundry still needed to be done, and I still hadn’t finished preparing for the bible study I was supposed to lead tonight.  We drove straight from school to church to meet up with Daddy for dinner.  During the bible study, the older kids were going to hang out in his office while he worked and Judah was going to the nursery.

When everything was finished for the night, I texted to see if they had already headed home.  I was surprised to hear that yes, they were already home because Gideon had thrown up.  My first thought was “oh, no! Not more sickness!”  Then, I heard the rest of the story.

Apparently, Gideon has a routine when he hangs out in Daddy’s office.  He goes to the staff coffee station and sneaks the little individual cups of coffee creamer.  Tonight, it seems as thought our 5-year-old with the early signs of addictive behavior, couldn’t stop himself from indulging.  He consumed enough cream to make himself sick…well, that and the starburst flavored slushy he got with dinner.  (It makes my stomach curdle just thinking about it.)

When he ‘fessed up to the deviant looting of coffee condiments, he said it was such creamy goodness that he couldn’t stop himself.  This from the child who at age two snuck a stick of butter from the fridge, pulled a chair up to the TV, and ate the butter like a Snickers.  (We are really going to have to keep an eye on this one.)  He obviously doesn’t know his own limits, or what’s good for him.

In the world of sweet things and buttery goodness, it’s very possible to add too much of a good thing.  Not so with Lent, or with God.  My crazy has needed an abundance of grace and He has more than enough to not only meet my level of need, but to surpass it.  His  mercy will never run out, and of His goodness I will never grow weary.  It’s impossible to have too much of Him.  When I allow myself to actually taste His goodness, even in the midst of crazy, all I want is more.  I can’t stop myself from indulging.

When I find myself growing weary and sick of life, unable to think of something spiritual to write about (as I did the past three days), it’s not because I’ve somehow had enough Jesus, or that He’s gone AWAL.  The reality is that I’ve not been opening my senses to taste the little morsels of goodness that He has individually packaged for me throughout the day.  I haven’t tasted.  I haven’t thanked.

Unfortunately for Gideon, God used the little 5-year old’s intolerance for copious creamer consumption to get my attention.  I thank Jesus for His grace.  He has loved me through the past half-week, despite my weakness and inconsistency.  He has loved me, even when I’m not feeling it.  He has remained faithful.

Over Lent, I’ve been adding and adding, and the days that I thought I wasn’t adding at all, grace was being added unto me.  I just didn’t recognize it.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”  

2 Corinthians 12:9

 

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 

Lent: Day 20, 21, and 22…

Day 20: Trampolines

Spring Break is officially half spent. All we’ve done is sleep in and have people over. It’s time to get out. The kids have been begging to go to JumpStreet, a trampoline park. So we added trampolines to Lent.

The older three headed to the main section of the park while Judah and I hit the “7 and under” area. I put him down in front of the trampoline, took my seat on the floor against the wall, and told him, “jump.” He looked at me with an impish smile, looked back at the trampoline, and ran into my lap. I stood him up, pointed to one of the dozen inflatable balls lying around and again said, “Go…jump.” He got up and ran to get a ball that was in the middle of the trampoline, but abruptly stopped at its edge, curling his tiny toes to keep from falling.

He surveyed the land for a bit, walked over to the space in between the brightly colored trampolines, and slowly lowered one foot on its rigid surface. Then, he slowly walked, one foot strategically placed in front of the other, down the one-foot-wide green non-bouncy strip.  Like a tightrope walker, he methodically ventured. He paused as he came parallel to the ball in the center of the trampoline, the wheels turning in his mind to plan his next move. Just then, another toddler jumped on the opposite end of the trampoline, and wouldn’t you know it, the ball rolled directly into Judah’s little body. He looked back at me with amazement as he reached his short arms around that gigantic ball and pivoted on his solid path to make his way back to me.

As he walked, the large ball impaired his field of vision, blinding the two feet directly in front of him. As he neared the end of the green runway, he miscalculated the end of the trampoline and took a sharp left turn towards me. He caught the corner of the trampoline, running four little steps on it’s bouncy taut skin. Immediately, his 2-year-old body gained momentum and speed, and he instinctively rose to the tippy tops of his toes. His eyes were too large suns peering over the horizon of that big red ball. Before he knew it, he was back on the solid floor face to face with me. He lowered the ball, looked at me and said, “whoa.”

What joy he was missing walking along the safe edges of life. Me too! I never thought I’d be publicly thanking JumpStreet, but, yes, thanks is in order. I am grateful for the reminder that sometimes joy is just on the other side of risk. I can trust God that if he tells me to “jump” and go fetch a ball that lies in the middle of an ominous unstable place, He isn’t throwing me into danger. I can trust that He’s pushing me to experience new things and the fullness of life. whoa.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”

Psalm 28:7


 

Day 21: windshield time

Today we headed to Austin. I love the space of green that exists along vast expanses of highway, in between the buildings and busyness of cities.

As we drove, the kids watched Finding Nemo and the adults had a chance to talk and catch up. I’ve been forced to ask some hard questions of myself lately, involving purpose and life goals. I have some decisions laid before me that require the investment of time and money, but first I need to know if that’s the path God wants me to walk down.  It was good to discuss my thoughts and feelings with someone who knows me like none other. It was enlightening to hear how he sees me and the purposes to which he thinks God has called me.

I’m thankful for a partner, for his insight, and his patience with his often confused and bewildered wife. We call these car ride conversations having ‘windshield time’. It was good to add this to Lent, to take the time to ponder and reflect on these questions. Processing my own goals while considering Jesus’ life and the purpose to which He was called, is humbling and recalibrating.  It’s also amusing to have the conversation with Dori in the background singing, “Just keep swimming…swimming, swimming, swimming…”

If God can speak through a donkey, he can use an animated fish, right?!

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.”

Proverbs 27:9 

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

Proverbs 19:20 

 


Day 22: familiar places and faces

Today we visited Buda Elementary. When we were discussing our trip to Austin, the girls pleaded to go to recess at their previous school so they could see old friends. It happens to also be the school where The Well gathers every Sunday for church. It was surreal to be back, comforting to be “home”, yet sad to know that we would not be staying. It was just a year ago, over Spring Break 2014, that we piled into the moving van and relocated…how timely to be back for a visit.

Today we added familiar places and faces to Lent. In doing so, we treasured the past and gained hope for the future. We made sure to hug every familiar person and take in all the memories of the place…painting the paw prints on the sidewalks, Easter-egg hunts in the courtyard, and doughnuts by the nurses office, to name just a few.  I remember the first day of Kindergarten for our oldest, so many years ago, and worrying about leaving her with people I didn’t know. Now, I call them friends and trust those people more than ever. Recalling this makes me view our current home and surroundings in a refreshed light. One day, I will look back at this first year and remember the fear of starting a new adventure, only to bask in the love and memories that God is already fostering.  I’m excited for the new stories that He is writing–for us, for The Well, for Buda Elementary, and for our new family in Katy.

“O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.”

Isaiah 25:1

Lent: Day 18 & 19…

Day 18: Snap Dragons

Earlier today, I finished painting my bargain-find chairs and recovered the seats.   Now, my earlier Lenten goal of friends gathered around the table is in sight.  I went to the store to buy the ingredients for the main course and dessert.  As I was rounding the produce section, I passed the flowers.  Ahhh, snap dragons.  I love snap dragons, and what better way to finish off my new dining room with a mason jar full of the pretty pastel flowers.

photo

Today I added beautiful flowers.  They were not a necessity by any means.  But it is in the nonessentials that the extravagance of God is seen.  Oh, the depth of a God who creates unnecessary beauty!  He goes above and beyond to create moments of artistry and loveliness for us.  It reminds me of the beautiful poetry of His Word.  It’s not crucial to the message, but communicates His character and lavish love.

“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” 

Psalm 27:4 


Day 19: K-cups

I recently made a new friend and invited her and her four kids over to play this morning.  She came bearing coffee…lots and lots of coffee.  In her recent move, she was given a plethora of k-cups.  She shared her wealth, unaware that coffee holds the key to my heart. 🙂

Today, I added boxes and boxes of k-cups and a new friend to Lent.  I am so thankful to God for His provision and His timing.

The purpose of this season is to reflect and prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus.  What I am learning through adding to Lent, is that His death and life continues to add to my daily living.  He is alive.  By adding daily, or maybe I should say “by receiving daily”, I am witnessing His resurrection.  He is alive…and finding ways to let me know it.  By opening my eyes to His blessings and bounty, I witness Him being alive and active.

“This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead… Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”  

John 21:14&25

Lent: Day 15,16 & 17…

Day 15: Gummy Vitamins

I’ve never been big on taking vitamins, even when I was pregnant, I opted to try and eat really healthy instead of taking a huge pill.  However, given all the sickness running through our house lately, I decided now would be a great time to start beefing up our daily intake of vitamins and minerals.  And let’s face it, our consumption of junk has sky-rocketed recently.

Today, I added gummy vitamins to the grocery list, to dinner, and to Lent.  Of course, they were a hit.  Now the challenge is thoroughly explaining that taking more than the recommended dosage is not just my rule, but printed on the bottle.

I think I need a similar once-a-day spiritual vitamin-taking-routine.  I probably could benefit from a devotion pill every morning and evening.  I used to consume a daily devotional diet.  I think I have unfortunately associated devotions and routine with a very legalistic approach to spiritual living…partly because I allow guilt to consume if I miss a day, and guilt doesn’t come from Jesus.  However, when I consider devotions as just a good healthy routine to boost my spiritual immune system, the idea is less shaped like a huge horse-pill and more like a little glossy-red sugar bear.

“I have not departed from the commandment of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.”

Job 23:12


Day 16: Swatches

Judah and I went in search of fabric for the new dining room chairs.  So many colors.  So many designs.  So many patterns.  So many choices.  It was fun for both of us to leave each store with free long strips of colorful samples.  He would grab a handful and shake them as he sat in the cart.  We both felt like we were somehow getting away with a great heist, waving our loot in the air without paying as we ran out the door.

We added swatches to Lent today.  We added joy and admiration of pretty little things…and the thrill of a free gift.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23


Day 17: Calf Scramble

We were invited to the Houston Rodeo.  My favorite event was the Calf Scramble.  Fifteen calves were released in the arena along with thirty kids.  On foot, the youth chased and roped the calves.  It had the entertainment value of The Amazing Race and America’s Funniest Home Videos piled into one.  Kids were darting and dashing in every direction with great purpose and execution while others were being dragged behind the dirty end of a bovine.  Catching and roping the calf proved to be only half of the battle.  Once caught, the calves have to be led back to the center starting point in order for the child to receive the payout.

There was one little cow that was quite stubborn.  He dug his front hooves into the dirt, head down, determined not to budge.  His juvi-wrangler spent a solid ten minutes in a stand-off with him, the two in a battle of the will.

I think I’m a stubborn cow most days.  And the days I’m not fighting the Father as He tries to guide me back to center-point, I’m running like a Banshee for the nearest exit.  Who do I think I am?  He always wins.

“Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.”

Deuteronomy 10:15-17