The Rainbow Connection…

Yesterday morning, I dropped my two-year old off for preschool.  This is only his second week of school, and we have yet to make a full M/W/F three day week.  He is still adjusting to the new routine, and due to Labor Day there hasn’t been much consistency to help with the transition.  Today was the first time his class experienced chapel.  Rather than taking him directly to his room, on chapel days we go to the big auditorium first.  (Or after yesterday, I’d like to refer to it as the big-ominous-overwhelming-room-of-tears).

Seriously, I don’t know how these teachers do it.

My little guy was fine sitting in my lap during the fun song, short message, and repeat prayer.  It was the scary rainbow striped ribbon that flipped a switch in him.  At first, he headed over to join his class in line.  He grasped the brightly colored rainbow cord used to keep the line of children all together. He was hesitant at first, but complied simply because that’s what everyone else seemed to be doing.  Once the line started to move towards the exit doors, and his section of ribbon tugged, he looked back at me with complete terror in his eyes.

In short, what followed included, but was not limited to: screaming, tears, death grips, etc.

In a moment like that, all a seasoned parent can do is laugh.  They all do it–every kid has moments when separation anxiety overtakes them.

At some point, we all have to get by our line-buddy and take steps away from comfort toward the unknown.  It’s much, much harder the older I get, though the level of risk hasn’t changed.

As much as we try to plan and prepare, none of us knows what the future holds.  Even with great job security, or a firm family foundation, we cannot predict what lies ahead.  We were not given that breadth of vision sought by Eve in the Garden.  Humanity wanted it then, and we want it now…but the good Lord knows having the ability to see what lies outside the doors of our present circumstances will never be good for us.

We, like my son, have to learn to trust the rainbow that ties us all together.

(I know this is starting to sound a little pie-in-the-sky unicorns and rainbows, but hang with me…I will limit the glitter and butterflies.)

Any good Sunday-School-goer knows what a rainbow represents…God’s promise to Noah and the rest of creation.

“When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 9:16

We must learn to grab hold of the promises of Jesus and trust that they will guide us to the next thing, out of the current scary and overwhelming circumstances.  It’s a preschool lesson that will produce a lifetime of confidence, peace, and joy.  It’s necessary to trust that what lies around the corner, even if equally scary and overwhelming, will be good for us and our maturation.

If we merely trust when we assume the hard stuff only leads to happiness, then we are still not completely trusting Him.

I looked at my son struggling to trust that rope and where it was leading.  He fearfully doubted his safety and well-being.  I knew his fears were unwarranted.  His teachers love him. Toys, snacks, and only good things were waiting for him on the other side of the hallway.  He probably had to learn to share yesterday, which most likely wasn’t fun, but will prove one day to be a valuable experience.  There’s a significantly good chance that he ran into a wall yesterday and got hurt.  (It’s kind of the platform he’s riding right now).  Even so, I had no doubt he would be loved and tended to.

Dare I say, ALL my fears are also unwarranted.  After all, God has made a covenant with me as well:

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 Hebrews 13:5b

Trusting His promises and blindly grabbing hold of them as we are tugged down unknown paths into new territories takes practice.  Every two-year-old learns to trust the rainbow ribbon connection eventually, but only after consistently being put in situations that require them to join others and find their place in line.

Undoubtedly, we are all in a situation or circumstance that requires us to trust God and His promises.  Should we not take the opportunity and grab hold?  Though we feel alone, we are in reality with a multitude of others, shuffling our feet through life side by side.  Though we are scared, the truth is that our safety is not in question.  Though we feel overwhelmed and ready to cry, we have hope-filled promises running as a safety line right in front of our snotty noses.

I leave you with some promises.  Stand by my side and let’s cling to them together.

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

2 Corinthians 1:20 

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.  Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

John 14:12-14

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

Cucumber salad and fuzzy math

I love cucumbers.  I like them on sandwiches, salads, dipped in Ranch, dipped in hummus, and made into little relishes.  I even like them in my water.  Mmmm.  I love me some cucumbers!  They are so refreshing.  It is mind boggling to me to think that only a few years ago, I could not stand the vegetable.  Friends would grow cucumbers and cut them into slices, mix with a few ingredients and eat them while I would gag.  I thought the only reason God invented such an ugly looking and foul tasting thing would be to make it into a pickle.  I’ve had no problem ever with a good pickle.  Somewhere along the way, my palette for cucumbers shifted.  I don’t understand it, but somehow what used to be repulsive is now always in my refrigerator.  The cucumber has become a staple.

I do know that it didn’t happen without lots of trying.  As much as I hated cucumbers, I still held on to the hope that I would one day love them as much as all those people who make their beloved home-grown cucumber salad.  I would try them, gag, and wait till next summer for another go at it.  Eventually, there was a miraculous tasting when that cucumber tastebud flipped a switch and I didn’t immediately turn away.  I could finally appreciate the backyard cucumber connoisseur, eventually becoming one myself.

In the same way I had an initial aversion to cucumbers, my girls hate math.  If they could get through life without ever having to work another math problem, they would be just fine with that.  We have tried math games, math worksheets, math mazes, and math on the computer–math anything and everything, and I am becoming more and more convinced that they just don’t like math.  I am certain, that just like I had a magical moment when my tastebuds converted from hating cucumbers to not getting enough of them, they too will have a lightbulb moment when math is not so intimidating.  They may never love it, but I am holding on to the hope that they will one day appreciate it.  We have been focusing on drilling those basic math facts.  2+2=4, etc.  Once they have some ground work that’s easy and effortless to recall, they will be more equipped to deal with larger and more complex problems, and maybe relax a little when it comes to their math folders.

Through this year of Family Rehab, I think God plans on doing quite a bit of work on our family’s palette and drilling some basic facts into our hearts.  Our plan is to try new foods and discover a love for math, but with every aching minute spent doing math drills or trying a new recipe, I think God’s plan is to stretch us even further in our trust of Him.  Our plan is to invest in each other’s hearts and spend time with our kids, but I think with every minute spent together, God is teaching us even more how to invest in deeper relationship with Him.  I am sure there are many lessons to come over the next year–too many for me to know what they are today.  The art of the adventure is discovering them along the way and finding that our final destination is a place where we are in a much more trusting relationship with Him.

There are examples in scripture that prove undoubtedly that God loves us, gives us daily what we need, and faithfully pursues us, no matter our performance.  Sometimes it seems as though that isn’t that good enough for us.  Why is it so hard to rest there–in all His goodness?  Why do we see the one-time all-covering salvation Jesus offers, treat it as though it weren’t enough, taint it by assuming that our performance makes a difference, and end up equating His love with blessings, both material and circumstantial? Why do we find it so hard to trust Him and His ways?  I fall victim to living by this messed-up math equation all the time: God’s favor=material blessing or things just going my way…or the relative equation: not having my life together=a lack of things going my way.  Sometimes it seems to be a mathematical function on which I base my understanding of life much like I do 2+2=4.  I rarely consider the backwards-gospel-math-facts underneath the lack-of-trust-frustration that I am living out daily.  But unlike 2+2=4, that underlying equation is not good arithmetic.  It’s fuzzy math. It is as if I am balancing my check book based on the incorrect belief that 2+2=48,000.  The consequences and stress that could ensue from a bad basic math fact like that could be devastating.  I need to go back to the elementary equations that are the building blocks to living in a trust-centered relationship with God.  I need to compare them and consider that the gospel function I am “functioning” out of no longer resembles the truth as revealed in the Bible.

In fact, that kind of math (God’s love=blessings, as I define them) just can’t be supported with other equations that my convictions based on Jesus teach me.  Here’s some math based on what the Bible says about God’s love and how He communicates that love to me:

(1 John 4:16):


God in me=love in me

God in me + love in me=love perfected

perfect love=no fear( of punishment)

If God=love, then God does not=fear-filled punishment

(Luke 12:15 and 23):

Life does not=an abundance of possessions

Life>food (even cucumbers) and clothing (any material provision, really)

what I treasure=what I worship with my heart

(John 10:10)

Jesus’ coming=abundant life for me

(1 Peter 3:18) and



Jesus’ death + resurrection = my righteousness

(Romans 5:8)

love=while we still sinners Christ died for us

(2 Timothy 2:13):

me + faithlessness=His remaining faithfulness

Just like drilling some basic 2+2=4 equations into our heads can give us a firm foundation for learning future algebra and higher level math, knowing the simple facts about who God is can ground our often fleeting and untrusting hearts.  Living out of the assumption that God’s love and favor of me rests in my performance is counter to the basic math principles of the Gospel.  It’s backwards and fuzzy and just plain wrong, like 2+2=48,000.  If God is love and he has loved us with a perfect love, that casts out fear, we don’t need to be scared of punishment for our sins.  God just doesn’t work that way.  Our unrighteousness has been replaced with Christ’s righteousness.  God won’t withhold his love or his blessing because we have been unfaithful or faithless, because the truth tells us that He remains faithful.  We don’t need to worry about things of this world because life is more than possessions, and because we have died with Christ, He lives in us and He is the treasure of our hearts. We become fully and completely satisfied in Him.  Jesus said himself that He came so that I could have life abundantly.  I have no reason to doubt that!  When we worry about what’s coming and when it will arrive, we miss out on what we already know about Him, what we already have in Him, and what He is currently working together for our good.

“For those who love God all things work together for good”(Romans 8:28).  We have to trust that whatever He has planned and whatever the circumstantial evidence seems to be around us, that He has something working for our good.  He wants good for us. He wants to bless us.  Sometimes, we are just too busy focusing on our material things or our performance, that we miss all that He has and is currently doing.  Where our treasure is, there is our heart.  When He is enough, our hearts are not worshiping what we want, but rather are worshipping Him.  Building our life around this Gospel arithmetic, around these simple truths of who God really is and what He has done for us, redefines who we are and what our expectations are of this life.  I no longer have to worry about my lack of perfection and how God views me.  I don’t have to use my fingers to perform simple addition and subtraction while seeing what I have and don’t have anymore.  I am not balancing a spiritual check book of good deeds where the numbers don’t add up and the account is never balanced. I know, based on drilled math facts that aren’t fuzzy, that He loves me no matter what, and that He has good for me.  Laying that mathematical groundwork will prepare me for the larger, more complex problems in life.

Today at snack we were feeding Judah a banana.  Ava commented on how he would not even look at the banana or our hands, but just open his mouth while looking across the table at whoever was talking to him.  He wasn’t looking to see what the food was or worrying that it wasn’t going to be there, or get there fast enough. He was just trusting.  So far, we’ve given him no reason to lack trust in us.  So he blindly trusts that what we are giving him is good, and that it will be there when he opens his mouth.

Maybe we need to trust in God’s blessings more like Judah.  God has given us no reason to distrust Him.  We can open ourselves freely, with vulnerability and complete trust to receive whatever it is that He has for us.  We don’t need to already have in mind what that blessing will look or taste like.  We don’t have to set a timetable.  He might give us something sweet, something salty, or something brand new.  We are called to just trust Him.  In the process we might even find ourselves in a place where what once seemed repulsive, might actually end up to be a refreshing blessing.  And we just trust that while whatever he gives us might be like a cucumber that we’ve never imagined enjoying, that one day He will work it together into a yummy cucumber salad.