Before We Even Knew

This morning I am sharing a quick thought on Romans 5:8 (with the surrounding verses included for context). I wrote these thoughts eight years ago, but they still ring true for me now.

***

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Romans 5:6-11 (NIV)

It’s amazing to me that before we even really understood what was going on or knew what God was up to, He made a way for us to have peace with Him. Before we even knew we needed it – the Gift was given through Jesus Christ. We often think we have to do something to earn peace with God — have our lives in perfect condition, with no flaws, no problems, no blemishes. The beauty of God’s grace is that we don’t have to perform in order for God to love us. He just does. And He showed it when He sent His only Son to die for a world of people who didn’t measure up on their own, and He did this while we were still sinners. He didn’t wait for us to get it all together. Christ died for us while we were in that unreconciled state – and He knew all along that there would be people who would never accept what He’s done on their behalf.

Love in action, before we even knew it. Truly amazing.

July 7 2009 Extravaganza

Image: “July 7 2009 Extravaganza”, Pilottage, Flickr

Letting My Living Room Go

I walked in the house the other night and saw the remnants of the day scattered around the living and dining room. Books over here, toys over there, unfinished pictures and markers on the table. Random socks dotting the floor, along with crumbs and bits of paper, and little t-shirts and pants in piles where daytime clothes became pajamas.

And you know something? For the very first time, maybe the only time ever in my life, I didn’t freak out. I looked upon the glorious mess and my heart was actually lifted by the signs of life around me! It’s a common sight in our home – all the things lying around all the time. It’s truly the project that is never quite finished! Every day, we fill up and spill over this space. Yes, it is work to clean it up – and yes, since our kids are still pretty young, we’re heavily involved in the supervising and helping of said cleaning – but I had this realization in that moment that felt like I had sprouted wings and flew away from the stress of our mess.

It was simply this: we are a lively family of six people who all have our own plans and dreams and goals for this shared space we live in. And while those plans and dreams and goals don’t always align, one thing is for certain – we are living here together, and we are making a home with each other, enthusiastically pursuing our interests. But guess what? One day that will change. They’ll be enthusiastically pursuing their interests in their own homes, and this space will hold the memories of running and playing and laughing and creating and resting and recharging and building relationships with the ones they hold dear.

Can I just be honest? This is something I have to work with in my heart most days, because kid mess can really drain the life out of you if you let it. Thankfully the older kids are getting to be experts at cleaning up the thing they are playing with before pulling something else out, but we still have littles who are exploring the world around them with great curiosity! And instead of freaking out over the mess like I used to, I’m starting to adopt the famous Miss Frizzle quote from “The Magic Schoolbus”. Right before they go on their adventure, she always says, “Time to take chances, make mistakes and get messy!”

This year, I vow to keep the top of the piano cleared of clutter so I can have a nice vase of fresh flowers on it instead of junk. But other than that, it’s a free-for-all. We are going to learn to get messy and learn how to clean it up all together, even if it takes all day!

Here’s to letting MY living room go, and letting it become OUR living room!

IMG_2155

Flowers on the piano

You Will Never Be Abandoned

I’m sharing a short thought on the first nine verses of Joshua this morning – always an awesome reminder of who God is! Joshua 1:9 was the world’s most bookmarked, searched, saved and shared verse of 2017, according to the YouVersion Bible download app. All over the world, even in countries where Christianity is restricted, people encouraged one another with it! Amazing!

***

“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:1-9 (NIV)

 

This sheds some light on the kind of God we serve. He’s the kind of God that is present – he will does not forsake. He tells Joshua to be strong, courageous, even very courageous, three times in this passage. Then He says, don’t be terrified or discouraged. Why? Because He is present. He is not a God that abandons in the time of need. It’s not easy to trust Him to keep His promise because we’ve been let down by so many situations and people in our regular lives. But this is GOD we’re talking about here! He keeps His promises!

 

tomhallflickrstars

Image: “Star”, Tom Hall, Flickr

I’m Not Choosing One Word This Year

There is this practice of choosing one word for the year to be a theme or point of focus and encouragement – and for a follower of Jesus, the idea is that you spend some time in the Bible, praying and asking God to give you that particular word. I’m such a chatty gal that I am not sure one word would suffice! But it’s interesting, nonetheless.

I actually did this as part of a team-building retreat at work a few years ago. It was in the middle of a very busy, stretching season (really, when am I not in a season like that?!) with two kids at home aged three and one. I was exhausted! And struggling to find the little joys in the day. The word I settled on happened to be DELIGHT. I think it was prompted by a verse I had memorized long ago – “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 (NIV84)

I put the word up on the wall so I could see it every single day, and it reminded me over and over where my heart should be finding its encouragement and joy! The amazing thing is, over the course of the year a shift was happening inside of me. Soon I was seeing more and more moments of pure delight right in the middle of our ordinary but crazy life!

I’m not choosing one word this year – but I think I’ve stumbled upon a phrase instead. Each month I put a new verse on our chalkboard by the door so we can see it as soon as we walk in. On New Year’s Day I was thinking of what I should write for this month, when the words of Psalm 46 drifted quietly through my mind:

…Be still and know that I am God… – Psalm 46:10a (NIV84)

I struggle with constantly being ten steps ahead, trying to figure out the outcomes of every situation and control where the journey is going.

This year, before anxiety reaches fever pitch – I will BE STILL.

When I start to feel overwhelmed and alone – I will BE STILL.

When the kids are crazy and the demands of our life scream for my attention – I will BE STILL.

When the temptation rises to control and control and control some more – I will BE STILL.

And know that He is God.

Thank you Jesus for this beautiful, soul-healing word of life!

be still

The Time Machine: You Can Always Come Home

This morning’s post is from 2013. Still touches my heart!

***

Yesterday my two and a half year old and I were sitting on the couch, watching that talking vegetable show and we got to the end of the one about the scarecrow and the tin man and the cowardly lion, which is really the story of the Prodigal Son (lost on her… she just loves to see her favourite veggies dressed up like her favourite literary characters)… and we get to this end part where the little asparagus is coming home after running away to the amusement park.

And he’s practicing his speech…

“Mr. O’Gill… Mr. Farmer O’Gill, I would like to work for you…”

And oh, I can feel them tears threatening.

And that Dad Asparagus won’t hear a word of it.  He just picks up that little Asparagus and whirls him around in his arms, and says all those things that we know so well – “you were lost, and now you’re found.  You were dead to me, and now you’re here”… and for the first time in my life, I am that Dad Asparagus.  And I picture my precious children breaking my ever-living heart in a million ways, again and again, and I picture myself waiting and agonizing and praying for them to return to me.  And then they do.

And I finally understand.

So that Dad Asparagus and that little Asparagus are jumping on that computer animated trampoline, and with every bounce, another tear slips down my cheek.

And Andrew Peterson sings:

“You can always come home
You can always come home
You can always come home to me”.

I wipe my tears before she has the chance to ask, “You cryin’ Mom?”.

And I know that’s my voice singing along.  “You can always come home to me, kids”.  Always and forever.

And I thank the Father that I can always come home.  Because lately, I’ve been practicing that “come home” speech – that one that says “I can work off my debt, sir, if you just give me a chance…”

And I am met with that unexpected, undeserved, unabashed love and acceptance – the very thing my heart craves, in the very place I least expected it.

And I crumple into His arms – stunned, relieved, amazed.

His patience – stunning.

His forgiveness – life-giving.

His love – amazing.

(I also think, “what a God’s-Glory-moment – using a cartoon to bring healing to a tired mama’s heart.”)

yellow flower

 

Lingering a Bit Longer

Can I just say that I love the New Year? I stood in the hallway looking at the Christmas tree the other day, knowing that it will have to be cleaned up this week, and I felt wistful yet hopeful.

Every 12 months we have this beautiful moment to look back and realize just what we have accomplished, and celebrate the things we’ve made it through. We’re so quick to forget those tough things, as if dwelling there for a moment will somehow affect how much trouble we’ll encounter in the next 365 days, but we need to linger a bit longer before we move on.

This past year was filled with moments that were so. incredibly. difficult.

We each have a few that stand out – the kind of moments you can’t even believe you made it through. Some may have been played out in the public eye – others are silent struggles that no one else could know. But you and I both know that there is One who sees us and stays by our side through it all. On New Year’s Eve I felt like I wanted to grab onto all my people and hold them close and cry and look each one of them in the eye and tell them I love you and can you believe we made it!

Instead, we played homemade Name That Tune and did the countdown and clinked our glasses with sparkling apple cider, wishing each other Happy New Year and texting fireworks to our family and friends who are far away.

In this life we always have the awful alongside the awesome – but I am praying for wisdom to recognize the latter in the middle of the former.

I choose to be thankful for all of it – the worst and the best of 2017, because of course, like any good year, there were also some moments that were so. incredibly. wonderful.

Are your highlights rolling through your mind right now? Mine too. They make my heart smile! The funny thing is, most of them are smack in the middle of some really tough times.

Let’s embrace 2018 with the confidence that, as in years past, we are never forgotten in what we are facing – the very good, the not-so-good, and all the in-between.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

 – Isaac Watts, 1719

sky colors

One of my favourites from 2017. Sunset glory.