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

Baby blue…like the Colorado skies…

So again, I’ve been feeling sad, a little blue, you might say.  I think it’s pretty simple—no need to over analyze.  I just miss my people and places.  I miss the Broken Spoke, my Buda HEB cashiers, the simplicity of THE one stoplight on Main Street, South Congress, Gordough’s Big Fat Doughnuts, House Pizza on Airport, Town Lake, and the list could go on.  Even sitting in this Katy Starbucks deceives me into believing I am sitting near IH-35 in the Buda Starbucks and life hasn’t changed.  When we lived in Austin, I used to get frustrated at the “Austin is the best place on earth” mentality.  It seemed so self-righteous.  But now I get it.  It really is the best city on earth. 🙂

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to go to Colorado as a family.  It was the first time to be on a plane for the kids (that they can remember) and it was the first time for us to travel that far with four kids.  In short, we all grew a little. 🙂

We had a moment in the car when one child did not want to go into the mountains.  Despite the prospect of snow, adventure and fun, the fear of the mountain was too much.  I don’t know if it was the foreknowledge of steep cliffs, avalanches or rock slides that was causing the trepidation, but whatever the source,  it was all too much.  In an effort to encourage, I tried to describe how fun the snow would be, how beautiful the trees would be, how amazing and worth it the drive up to the top would be.  None of it was convincing.  So, with tears rolling down the cheeks, we just forced all parties in the car up into the Rockies.

It ended up being worth it. (Go figure.) While this annual trip was not as restful as it has been in the past, we did have good fun family time together.  Here are a few pics of our adventures:

Manitou Cave Dwellings

Manitou Cave Dwellings

The boys and SNOW!

The boys and SNOW!

The Wolf Sanctuary

The Wolf Sanctuary

Feeding time for all.  Notice the wolf eyeing Judah for dessert.

Feeding time for all. Notice the wolf eyeing Judah for dessert.

Gold Mine Tour

Gold Mine Tour

 

We hunted for cave-dwelling Indians, gold, snow, and even wolves.  Well, they were easy to find because they were behind the fence and it was feeding time.  And everyone had no regrets about being in the heights of the mountain range.  Once the wonders of the mountain had been experienced, all fear and concern was gone.

In all the traveling and excitement, I rarely had to time to process anything.  This trip has become a mile-marker of sorts.  Every Cinco-de-Dyer (our friend, David Dyer’s, May 5th birthday) we trek to Colorado.  In the past the week of solitude and reflection has made every trip memorable and unique in that there has been a lot of introspective and identifying of the season we are in or the big lesson for that year.  It’s been a time to pause while on the outside of our normal life and take note of what God is doing.  We’ve been afforded the opportunity to take a “Colorado skies” panoramic of life and how the Spirit is guiding us.  (And if we’ve been following or not.)

This year, that didn’t happen.  At least not with the same intentionality.  But I remember that it was last year on this trip that as we drove down the mountain paths with huge vistas of blue sky and snow-capped mountains on either side, Family Rehab was born.  It was while in the beauty and splendor, without our kids, that a yearning to share it with them was born.  “It” was the beauty of the Lord—all that He has created and all that He has done.  His majesty spreads farther than the baby blue Colorado skies.  His splendor and power is also evident in our lives.  And by “our”, I mean everybody.  Whether a believer or not, God is working in your life.  Whether you confess God as your creator and Jesus as your Redeemer, or not…He’s at work in your life.  Whether we believe or not, I dare say we don’t notice or acknowledge the majority of His workings in every facet of our lives.  Whether we believe or not, He is pursuing all of us.  He pursues not to destroy and condemn, but to love and lavish forgiveness and mercy upon us.  Contemplating this, and knowing that He is pursuing me and loving me, no matter how small I am in comparison to Pike’s Peak, makes me feel amazing–so amazing that I want to make sure my children feel the depth and breadth of His love for them.  It was the desire to share with them the truth of how much they are loved and treasured that fueled Family Rehab.  And I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just telling them from a philosophical or religious mentality.  I wanted them to hear it from my heart, as someone who has experienced His love.  But let’s get real.  I don’t always feel it.  I don’t always believe that it’s there.  Like right now…I mean, if He loved me, He wouldn’t have called me out of Austin!

To a warm-weathered Texan, it doesn’t make much sense why anyone would live in sub-freezing temperatures and shovel snow.  In the same way, believing that 1) God exists; and 2) He knows me; and 3) that He pursues me with love doesn’t make sense to everyone either.  I don’t always see snow.  I am so far removed from it at times that I don’t remember exactly how it feels in my hands.  I can’t adequately describe in words the crunchy sound it makes under my feet.  But if I took you to the mountain, made you kneel beside me and make a snowman, you would know and understand the thrill and joy it brings because you experienced it.  I think this is the tricky thing for a believer.  I can tell you with all manner of words how knowing and trusting Jesus is better than life, but until you experience it for yourself, it just won’t compute.  And if I asked you to travel with 4 kids through an airport then drive in a tear-filled SUV up a mountain trail to experience it, you may not take the challenge, because without knowing the value of the view at top, the view of the journey holds no worth.

It takes risk to climb a mountain.  It takes faith to live on one.  It takes commitment to shovel through ice and snow winter after winter.  But if we go to the mountain together, we can remind each other of the scary cliffs and the exhilaration of making the journey past them.  If we go together, we can communicate with fewer words of convincing and more across-the-room glances of solidarity and connection.  Taking my kids to the mountain daily is a key part of Family Rehab.  It’s not about me simply sharing bible stories or rehearsing scripture memory verses.  I am inviting my children into my personal experience with Jesus.  When I struggle, they need to see it–because Jesus will show up.  When I am sad, they need to hear about it–because Jesus will say something.  When I am happy, they need to know the source of it–because Jesus will be pursuing them with storehouses full of it.  If I don’t help them experience Jesus, they might miss Him like so many others.  They might believe in Him, but they might miss experiencing Him and all His goodness.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!  (Psalm 34:8)

I want my kids to not only taste and see that snow is good.  I want them to taste and see with all their senses that Jesus is good.  I don’t just want them to push past their fears and see that snow and mountain-fresh air is worth it in the end.  I want them to push past insecurities and doubts and the fear of being fully known and see that freedom in Jesus is worth it.  In a world that sometimes portrays a Jesus who is disappointed in us and pities us, I want them to know from experience that “Jesus is always good news” as my husband puts it.  He loves us and wants good for us.  He pursues us with grace and mercy and open arms.  He wants us to be happy and full of joy, not guilt and shame.  Experiencing that freedom first hand is key.  To be loved for who you are right now, in all your failures and insecurities, knowing that right now, without changing a thing, you are worth dying for–that’s worth the pain of being honest about your imperfection.  That kind of love doesn’t exist in any other religion, with any other god, or in any human relationship.  We’d like to think that we can love unconditionally, but if we are honest, we really do expect quite a lot of good behavior from those that we love.  Jesus does what no one else can.  He loves me completely and freely…no strings attached.

Oh, kids…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, friends…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, believers…taste and see that the Lord is good!  Oh, Angie…taste and see that the Lord is good!  (even when I’m homesick)  I need to listen to my own rant here.  In my sadness over seeing and tasting familiar Austin things no more, I need to remember that Jesus looks better and tastes better.  What He has for me here makes everything else pale in comparison.  It may take awhile to see it, to experience it here, but He is at work and He is lavishing grace and mercy on me every moment.  I need to heed my own advice.  I need to push past the tendency to withdrawal in the safety of my house.  I need to gather around me the people He has given me in this place for a journey up the mountain so we can experience His wonders together and remind each other that, yes–He is here, He is good.  Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. 🙂