Jesus, Are You There?

Sometimes circumstances feel overwhelming. It might not be any one particular thing, really — it’s just all of it put together. In those moments, I am learning to cry out to Jesus! I wrote this a few months ago and rediscovered it recently, finding that even though our challenges have changed, it still speaks to me today. My heart is reminded, yet again, of the God who does not forsake.

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“I’m hungry but I don’t want these apples! What else is there?”

“I got a paper cut, can I have a princess bandaid?”

“Can’t I just have one more candy from my candy bucket?”

“LOST BOOK! LOST BOOK! Where is that book I had yesterday?”

All the questions, all the time.

Jesus?

The washing machine has been going non-stop thanks to cold and flu season. As I scrub my sandpaper hands for the thousandth time, cracked and bleeding from the freezing cold outside and my attempts at keeping the germs from spreading, I glance up at myself in the mirror. I try to smile, but I can’t. Literally. The right corner of my mouth moves up slightly, but is stopped by my chipmunk cheek, swollen from having a broken tooth pulled.

Jesus, are you there?

I gently set the baby down. Finally! He is sound asleep. Or so I thought. Eyes flutter open, restless wiggling begins. Sighing, I gently pick him up and accept that my evening plans have changed. Tonight I’ll be wearing grooves into the floor where my feet are planted, in front of the crib, rocking him in the dark, quietly singing and praying for my boy.

Jesus? Can you see me?

I’m climbing a mountain, but I can’t see the summit. I’m reaching up for the next ledge, but I can’t find it. There’s no place to stand up straight and look around, to breathe deep, to enjoy the view.

Frustrated tears stream down my face.

Where are you Jesus? Are you here, even now, in this time and place? In these moments of a million questions, inconvenient illnesses and pure exhaustion?

My heart knows the answer.

Yes, when I don’t think I can deal with one more question.

Yes, when the kids are sick and I just don’t feel like it.

Yes, when my back is sore and my legs are screaming and I just want to sit down.

Yes, when I feel like it will always be like this.

“Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

trees in sun

When things aren’t fully in focus, God is still glorious.

Love One Another

With Valentine’s Day behind us and Lent right in front of us, I was thinking about these verses from John 13 this morning.

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 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35 (NIV)

If you read John 13, you see that these two verses come between Jesus foretelling His betrayal by one of His inner circle and His public denial by a dear friend. At the beginning of the chapter, He washes all of the disciples’ feet, even the ones who would betray and deny Him just a short time later.

We sometimes wonder what it looks like to love as Jesus loves. It’s easy when we think people are worthy! But what about those in our lives who cause deep wounds that last? Can we love even these? Jesus’ love looks like sacrifice. It looks like something so irrational and extravagant. It is love lavished on the undeserving, love that goes beyond any expectation, love that feels excessive.

The extent to which we can accept this kind of love is the extent to which we can pour ourselves out for those God puts in our lives.

When Jesus gave this instruction, He knew He was asking us to do the impossible. That’s why I’m praying today – Lord Jesus, help me receive Your amazing love in my life! And teach me how to love like You do. Show me what that looks like at this very moment, with the people around me.

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Image: “Hearts”, Beatnik Photos, Flickr

I Threw Away “The List”

I don’t write much about marriage. It’s not because I don’t have things to say, it’s because I feel like I haven’t been married long enough to really know what I’m talking about, you know what I mean?

This year we celebrate 9 years of marriage. I love my man with all my heart! But we’re still babies at this whole thing.

When I was single, I had The List. It was loaded with things that a guy had to be or have in order to qualify for a second look. It was ridiculously specific, and frankly, unrealistic. Every guy I met was measured against The List. And it brought alot of heartache.

One day, it dawned on me. I wasn’t really being very fair, was I? I had always prayed for the person I would hopefully marry one day, that God would put us in each other’s lives, and that He would give me someone who loved Jesus and was willing to follow Him no matter the cost. But I wasn’t willing to trust God with the details on this one.

So I threw The List away. Instead, I wrote down my non-negotiable qualities on one side of a piece of scrap paper, and my negotiable qualities on the other side.

Then, I just lived the life that was in front of me.

In God’s timing and by His grace, we found each other. Ten years ago this month, a girl from a tiny land-locked farming town on the Canadian prairies met a boy who grew up near the beach in sunny California, and the rest is history! Hearts, hearts, hearts!

I stumbled upon that new list the other day was I was looking for something else. As I read through the qualities on each side, I was amazed at God’s faithfulness and love for me in providing me with this man who sat beside me as we drove.

If you have ever doubted God’s faithfulness, know that He hears every prayer you pray, and sees every tear you cry. He is real, He is present, and He is working in ways you cannot imagine.

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

together

Young love

The Sweetest Hour

I wrote this a few years ago when my second daughter was not quite two and I was expecting our third child. Tired did not begin to describe where I was at! But I treasure these sweet memories.

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My head hit the pillow last night at about 10:30, and my aching body gave way to glorious sleep.  I don’t remember a thing.

Until about 3am.

A tiny little voice was just enough to jolt me awake.

“MAMA!  W’AR YOU?!”

Little one. Awake.  Again.  Thanks to some new teeth breaking through and a penchant for middle-of-the-night chatter, she stood at my door in her little striped purple footie jammies.

“Mama?  Cuddles?  Couch?”

I scooped her up in her white crocheted blanket, gave her Snoopy and Raffi (her stuffed giraffe), and held her on my lap.  She talked about the stars that were projected onto the ceiling from one of those ladybug lights.

I closed my eyes, and felt a little hand on my face.

“No, Mama.  No close eyes.  Open eyes.  Count the STARS!”

Oh my goodness, I thought she would wake her snoring big sister for sure.  (They’ve been sharing a room for a month and  a half.  We’re still working out the kinks.)

Nope.  The oldest sawed logs while the younger one chatted about how the pink stars are up there, and could she touch them or taste them, but no they’re not food.

“Stars not food Mama!”  she laughed.

“No, stars are not food.  Shh… go to sleep…” I tried.

Her blanket was freshly washed and dried with vanilla scented dryer sheet.

She smelled like a warm vanilla cookie.  What a delicious moment.

3am gave way to 4am, and I decided it was time to put her back in her bed.  I only had to bring her back about three or four times before she stayed until nearly 7am (what a miracle!).

Her big sister was up just before 6am, looking for a Berenstain Bears book to read.

The day officially began.  Even though it kind of already began at 3am, with an inquisitive “Mama, w’ar you?”

Although sleep-deprived today, I really wouldn’t have missed that hour for the world.

feet

Tiny toes

Dear 18-Year-Old Me

18 year old me1

Dear 18 year old Me,

Can I just tell you something?

Everything is going to be okay.

No really, it is.

I know right now you’re consumed with the future – how it’s all going to play out, what you should do next, and how you can achieve your dreams and goals.

You want to run headfirst into all the things, find someone to share it with, and live your happily ever after.

There will be amazing things to celebrate, but there will also be some things that bring you pain. In both circumstances, you have a choice – you can either run away by distracting yourself with the temporary pleasures all around, or you can dig deep, hold fast, and find true rest in the arms of the One who gave His life for you and trust Him to bring healing and growth in your life.

I know you’re not into being told what to do, so I will just leave you with a little story from John 6.

Jesus had done the miracle of feeding the crowds with real food, but then begins to teach something that is very hard for the disciples to understand: He teaches that He is the food that feeds our souls and brings us eternal life. He mentions how their ancestors ate manna in the desert, but that He is the bread that will feed them forever. Some couldn’t get their heads around it and were so disturbed by the teaching that they walked away.

Watch what happens next:

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

John 6:67-69 (NIV)

When you feel like throwing in the towel, let these words ring in your heart: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Cling to the only One who can truly sustain you.

I love you. Don’t give up! You’re doing great.

Hugs and kisses,

-your future self

When You Don’t Know What To Do Next

I’m sharing a quick thought on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 today. I’m always amazed at how when I don’t know what to do next, I can come to this passage and find some direction!

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“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

We hear a lot about trying to figure out God’s will for our lives, but this is the perfect place to get started! We’re called to be doing these things all the time – rejoicing, praying and giving thanks – no matter what set of circumstances we find ourselves in. This is a great set of verses to memorize and tuck away in our hearts for the next time we’re wondering what God wants us to do next!

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A sunrise one fall morning

 

A Simple Moment that Changed Our Day

“First she wrecked my toys, now she has my favourite cup!” my almost 5 year old shrieked. It had been a long morning already – and it had only just begun. Feeling forgotten and frustrated, she sat on the floor and wailed.

I turned from my important task, walked across the room, sat down on the floor beside her and pulled her onto my lap, arms around her tight.

“I love you. I see you,” I said quietly between her sobs. Her body relaxed and she poured out her heart. It was a moment we both would have missed if I hadn’t paid attention.

Truthfully, I don’t always catch on to their cries to be seen and held. Sometimes when they upset my apple cart of plans and goals for that very moment, I react instead of respond. But I am learning that when my kids are pushing away from me, that’s when I need to stop what I am doing, and draw near to them.

Anyone else find it easier to lecture than to love? Love requires more than my words. Lecturing postures me above them, wagging my finger and my tongue, hoping it will somehow change their behaviour; love puts me beside them, holding and comforting, offering security and safety. Lecturing can be done from across the room; love demands the nearness of my actual presence. Lecturing leaves lingering guilt; love brings restoration.

Jesus, silence my lecturing tongue and let your amazing love flow through me today to these precious ones in my care.

love kid art

a love note from my daughter

Can You Say This Too?

I’m sharing a short thought on Habakkuk 3:17-19 this morning that energizes me for this season of life!

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Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIV)

In times of need. When things are looking bleak. When resources are limited. When you’re wondering how it’s all going to work out. When the situation is desperate. Does your heart cry out this way? Can you say this too? This passage has been a strong reminder for me – that my strength doesn’t come from things working out, going my way or even sort of going well. The LORD is my strength. HE enables me.

deermtn

Image: “Columbian Black-Tailed Deer”, Gary Leavens, Flickr

Hashtag Momlife

I can feel the frustration bubbling up inside.

My to-do list is as long as my arm, with a limited amount of time to accomplish it – and between the running around, the constant fighting of the kids, the sweet babe who isn’t following his usual pattern, a last-minute lunch plan, a huge cup of spilled milk and a new tummy ache, I can’t seem to manage to get even one thing accomplished.

Hashtag Momlife.

My older sister calls. “How’s your day?” she asks. And the inevitable unloading of my current state of affairs comes tumbling out of my mouth before I can stop it. “…so, yeah – not awesome.”

She’s been in my shoes before – her kids are teenagers now but I know she knows.

Her wise words then reach my weary heart and bring me hope.

She says, “My prayer for you today is that you would seek first His kingdom and all the rest will be added to you, and you’ll see God’s provision in amazing ways.”

It’s tempting to be skeptical or to brush it off, but I can’t. I am learning how much I need Jesus and the people He has put in my life.

To my great relief, her prayer for me is answered.  I am watching and waiting throughout the day, and I see His grace in a million little ways – and some big ones too.

Thank you Lord!

mama

Kid art! Love it. My daughter drew this picture of me a few months ago.

 

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.

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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