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Category Archives: Forgiveness

The Whole Point

My phone high-pitches.

I read the words.

Outwardly I smile, while inwardly, I shrink back.

My husband.

A few words texted, telling me how he loves me, using words I’d never think to describe me.

I know he’s seen me.

In the mornings with bed hair.

 Sick over the toilet.

In my heated anger.

Birthing life.

He’s seen me in all my most human, ugly moments.

And yet, he loves me and thinks of me most as the woman he loves . . .

and has responded to his love.

I beep him back.

“Really?” I ask. “You *truly* think of me like that?”

I ask, suddenly very unbelieving of all the times he’s told me this before.

I see this link as I wait for his response.

And she was right.

I needed this today.

“He knew [I] was going to be messy.

That’s the whole point of the the cross!”

I close my eyes at the wonder of it.

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I Think it’s Called Grace

Last week, I work hard in my own, small domain. I organize closets and scrub the fridge (how did I not know the possibilities of its shininess?!) and try to be a good mama. I completely fail the latter quest (and really, the first one too) in moments where I contort, all ugly. Moments where my mouth screeches and only berates, doesn’t bend low to disciple. I ask forgiveness from two little girls, their soul windows opened wide, taking in my fleeting words of humility. The oldest says she can forgive and I thank her, knowing that I’ll have to ask the same thing of her tomorrow, and the day after that. It’s 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed, as Dr. Seuss would say. He said that a kid could move mountains. I think on another, more laudable person who said I could move the rooted things, the seemingly immovable mountains, if only I ask.

 

I ask. And somehow? He can use the broken, constantly failing people – like me, and I daresay, you – and if we ask for things with the faith of the smallest of mustard seeds . . . HE moves. The Timeless One. The Ever-Abiding One. I ask, falteringly, hesitantly, more than a little doubtingly, but with just a small spark of hope in His power. And He moves.

 

He takes my stubborn, prejudiced, ungrateful heart, and transforms it, in an 180 degree sort of fashion. The kind of spin on my soul’s axis that only He can direct.

 

He works wonders in the heart of the one I love. Like only He can do.

 

Does He completely perfect things . . . us? By no means. But He hears heart cries and . . . He moves. How can He be such a Servant-King?

 

He serves us every day in this earth beauty. Common grace, I think they call it. I drink it in.

 

 

The common grace of a flower. Of petals opening and their sweetness wafting on warm, spring breezes.

 

 

And the grace of friends supporting, praying, lifting you up. Holding fast to you when you don’t think you can do life like this anymore – let alone, live it to glorify a Humble, Servant-King.

 

 

Of answered prayers and seeing the Gardener till and aerate our hard-caked hearts. A softness and life-giving richness is opened to light and beauty grows.

 

 

How does a Sovereign, all-powerful God, bend so very low and breathe His life and give His grace and shape our hearts? How do I not live in more constant gratefulness? I can only try.

 

Little, meager thank-you’s to an All-Powerful King, yet our humble Bridegroom.

He has bent low and I must count.

I whisper thanks.

 

#397 sunlight on all-white dogwoods

#398 water flowing over fountains

#399 hammock-rocking, side by side

#400 bubbling over giggles

#401 little arms, reaching up

#402 loving being home, with this little family all tucked and breathing deep

#403 the Gardener, tilling, aerating our hearts

#404 giving sisters who make wonderful aunts

#405 long walks with my girls

#406 side by side, stroller-riding girls, leaning over to love on each other

#407 also, more opportunity to lean on Him – call on Him – in learning to direct their anger away from each other

#408 that I can ask forgiveness, again and again. and again.

#409 yellow finch hopping on branches

#410 old, sturdy vines, hugging, clinging all the way up

#411 laughing, laughing, laughing with friends

# 412 the day-in, day-out, continual learning that I am not in control . . . giving up those I love, letting Him work

#413 a changed heart . . . mine. learning to love right where He has me

#414 that it could only possibly be His work

#415 balloon excitement

#416 flowy skirts in warm, Southern spring breezes

#417 silly pictures

#418 praying friends

#419 little girls in new hairbows

#420 being surrounded by beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ

#421 that we can take turns holding up each other’s arms

Whispered Thanks

 

The Parking Dudes

So, the hubby and I got away this past weekend. The first time in, I think, 5 years that we were alone. No nursing babies. No pregnancy-induced-morning-sickness. Just my man and me. It was wonderful. Thanks to a wonderful friend who cares about me, us, my marriage, and loves my girls, we didn’t worry about the two little ones one teeny bit. But we did miss them. We also enjoyed the sleeping in . . . if you call sleeping in ’til 8:00 sleeping in, that is. Parenting dies hard. 🙂

 

On Sunday, we stopped in at a Starbucks in a suburb of Atlanta, spontaneously decided to walk the sidewalks, tucked my purse into the car, walked past the Starbucks, and gawked like true, small town suburbians as we walked under glass skyscrapers’ shadows. We laughed at the two-story Target and stopped into a bookstore and talked and reveled in each other’s company while sipping on our Mocha Frappuccinos. I got a tiny sunburn. It was warm. Fun abounded.

 

We walked back to the parking lot to grab our car before heading to lunch. From a distance, Jonathan saw an orange sticker on the driver’s side window. Hmmm . . . what could that be? We walked a little closer and saw that, guess what? Our car had been boot-locked. Is that what they call it? We didn’t realize it, but as we were gasping and muttering, “What in the world?!”, we were standing next to the two men who booted our car. Their eyes watched us.

 

“What’s with the boot?” My husband asked them, annoyed.

 

“Well, you parked your car in the lot, went into the Starbucks, then crossed the street. That’ll be $50. I take Visa, Mastercard, or cash.”

 

Now I don’t usually get seething angry about little things like this, but I was mad. Really mad. And for, I think, the first time in our marriage, I was more adamant that we stand up for ourselves than my often, very opinionated husband (who loves our car, I should add).

 

“What are you talking about, we didn’t see any signs!” I said.

 

The parking man scoffed at me.

 

“There are eleven signs in this parking lot, ma’am.”

 

My eyes followed the parking man’s arm outstretched.

 

“Eleven signs?” I was scoffing now. “Those are microscopic. And this is a large parking lot, we’re not parked anywhere near those signs. You’d have to be parked right in front of those signs to read them. If you’re going to fine a person an exorbitant $50, there should be a sign at every. single. parking spot. And you were obviously watching us, waiting for us to cross the street. It would have been nice if you’d warned us. We’re not from here . . . we didn’t know we weren’t supposed to park here.”

 

The man smirked. “Yeah, warnings are nice. That’s why there are red letters at the top of the signs that say ‘Warning.'”

 

We paid the fine. He took off the boot. I called the number at the top of the “receipt” and was told I would receive a call from the manager. I’ve yet to receive that call. We sat in the car for a few more minutes, trying to calm the feeling of being preyed upon.

 

I vented.

 

“I’m going to go ask them for our money back until we hear from the manager and they can send us a bill. How do we know these people are even legit? If they say no, can we buy them a drink from Starbucks? I am so angry at those men, I feel like I have to do something nice for them if I’m going to let this go.”

 

My quiet husband shrugged. “If you think you need to,” he conceded.

 

Of course, they didn’t give us our money. They laughed when I asked. Of course.

 

We walked back inside the Starbucks and we joked about walking to the sidewalk and taunting them to boot our car again. But, not wanting to pay another $50 or $75, we decided against the risk. 🙂

 

We ordered two more frappuccinos, walked back outside to where the predatory parking men (can you tell I’m still a bit bitter?) had been previously parked. They were gone! Great. Now it felt even more like some huge scam.

 

We frantically looked around and saw they had moved to the front of the parking lot, near the road. Whew. I didn’t really want to drink another frappuccino (I know. Hard to believe.)

 

We handed them their drinks. I said something about my needing to let the anger go. Jonathan said something about there needing to be better signage (is that a word?), especially because where they watched us walk up onto the sidewalk, there were NO signs. They thanked us. They actually conceded that we wouldn’t have seen the signs. We walked back to our car and went on with the few short hours we had left together before going home.

 

Buying them the Starbucks drink didn’t help me let the anger go. But you already knew that, didn’t you? It didn’t keep me from feeling preyed upon – watched by someone just hoping I’d fall into their trap. Forgiveness didn’t magically make a horizontal move when that drink went out from my hands and into theirs.

 

There’s only one Way to that kind of power. Calling on Him, who knows *my* sin and has taken me in with arms wide open anyway. Because she who has been forgiven much, loves much. I’ve been forgiven . . . MUCH. The forgiveness – the letting-go-power – all comes from the same Source.  Whether that forgiveness is needed for our own sins, those who have hurt us to our souls’ very cores, or those who pelt us with petty annoyances.

 

And thankfully, He doesn’t just watch us, waiting for us to mess up so He can pelt us with the need for some sort of penance. He sanctifies. Purifies. And maybe, just maybe, He even uses predatory parking dudes to help me see my need for Him.

 

Let me lay it all down.

At the cross.

At the cross.

And in the shadow of that cross,

it all suddenly feels

very

small.