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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.

Loving Love Himself

How to love Him?

 

How to truly love Him?

 

I feel I can’t love Him apart from what He’s done for me. I love Him because of His grace toward me. I love Him because He rescues me. I love Him because He makes me whole. I love Him because of His goodness to me. His provision. His redemptive power.

 

But how do I love Him for just being Him? Can I love Him apart from myself?

 

I feel defeated. Because how can I give my life to a God as a returning gift for what He’s done, when I’m really just hoping (and knowing) that He’ll give me more life? (Luke 6:38) It all feels so selfish.

 

How do I, just a Georgian housewife, who cooks in the kitchen in her bare feet and spins the washer for another round, and empties out the sink only for it to be filled again, how does little me love a God like Him? I try to picture Him. The God who spoke and flung the stars on their ebony backdrop and spun red-hot planets like tops on a table and raised up sunken mountains in the waters deep and dotted this whirling globe with teeming life? I picture Him then and He feels so utterly majestic, so awe-inspiringly powerful and I know that I could never come close to a God like that. How do you love Someone who is so completely Other?

 

And then I picture Him. That God. Coming to a slobber-smeared, dirty manger, surrounded by the aroma of hay. His only sound, a whimper. I picture Him beckoning little children onto His lap and telling stories to those gathered round and that aura of peace and wonder that surely must have infused the very air around Him. How He came to rescue anyone who wants to be rescued and I know. I could love a Man like that.

 

But how do I love Him just because He is? And I think . . . “If I was just a better Christian….” But it doesn’t matter what gaps are left to fill, what “If I was justs” need to be met, when the I AM is completing you. Does He not come, not only to bridge the gap to righteousness, but to bridge every. single. gap? Maybe, if God is love, and we want to love that God who’s love, maybe, just maybe, true love has already begun its work. And in His time, He’s transforming us . . . us made in His image . . . and maybe someday He’ll equate our names with Love too. And maybe then, when we are truly one with Love Himself, the fullness of that love will entirely expunge any thought of how much we want to love Him. Because love will have finally made its match and there will be no give and take. Just Love in all its Completeness.

 

But it will all be because of Him and His work in us.

So I ask myself again,

How do I love a God like Him?

Never Extinguished

Has something in your life been in the grave so long that the stench has become your normal surroundings?

 

The stench is so part of your life that you think there’s no changing it?

 

The stench is so rampant that it hadn’t even occurred to you that it could ever be eradicated?

 

What’s dead is dead and apathy has chained you strong and you lay dying among the stench?

 

An addiction? A disorder? Fear? Anxiety? The pain of relationships severed?

 

Let me tell you something.

 

Jesus is all about what’s dead coming alive.

 

The ugly-normal transforming into the extraordinary-beautiful.

 

Pleasing aromas.

 

Those He called “asleep” gasping for breath and wakening to a ravenous hunger.

 

He only need speak the word, and the odorous darkness is pierced by even one light aflame, wax gracefully dripping.

The light shines through the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it. 

(John 1:5)

Did you catch that? The darkness can never extinguish it.

So, even though there are some things in our lives where hope has scattered to the darkest, furthest corners  . . . where we’re sure that things will always be the way they’ll be, or that someone we love will never change, or that we are who we just are,

There is One who is not content with lackluster life. 

There is One who does not conform to mere mediocre.

There is One who always overcomes the seeming finality.


He has lit my fire.

No Hold

Your feet hit the ground at the side of your bed. It’s Easter Monday and all the heart-soarings of Easter Sunday plummet to the Metaphorical Monday of life. The age-old in your life, the things you’ve been working through for years, surround you and try to suffocate the very life out of you. How does Resurrection Sunday shape our gritty, sometimes perpetual, Monday-filled lives? The day-in, day-out wrestlings? How does Resurrection Sunday help those we love in their pain and their wrestlings and the hurt we feel while watching them struggle for breath?

How does laying our sin at the cross of the God-With-Us Savior, help us in the Still-With-Us sin nature? This crazy, pain-filled world?

I know I don’t have any complete answers.

But don’t we cling to hope? And trust in His good promises? For if He loved us while still sinners and laid His life down for us while we were still writhing in our own filth, how much more must He hold us dear when He, Himself, has overlaid us and cleansed us with His blood?

And while the Marys did buy spices and perfumes for the final burial preparations for the Savior, the religious laws of the day and the approaching Sabbath didn’t allow them to actually caress his body with them. There was no beautifying His death. And no optimistic naiveté can gloss over this life’s grittiness.

We struggle for breath between life’s hard-pressed seasons. We groan with friends and family and try to hold their hands through their own loads. But it’s too much.

Too much for us.

But not for Him! No. Somehow He took it all upon Himself.

Sin.

Pain.

Wounds.

Dashed hopes.

Shame.

All that is ugly and twisted and deformed in this world . . . all that satan has in his contorted grip.

Jesus took it.

Straight to hell?

And that Sunday morning, when His lungs first breathed in that tomb’s rank and musty air,

all this world’s stench

was done for.

And nothing, nothing, can overpower the pleasing aroma of Christ and His redemptive work of Life.

A new Creation has begun its springing forth.

And while we still ache and plod through sin’s seeming hold on this planet . . .

in us . . .

He has redeemed us.

Made us new.

Death could not hold Him.

And because of that

AMAZINGLY

BEAUTIFUL

fact,

It won’t hold us either.

Here?

No. For we have hope.

There?

No.

Alive.

Complete.

Whole.

Clean.

Blameless.

How great must be His love for us.

Continuing the learning, the choosing . . . the thanking….

#461 He came

#462 because He loved us

#463 the Hallelujah chorus

#464 Firefly singing, “Alleluia”

#465 His blood . . . nothing but it.

#466  no condemnation, no wrath for those who believe

#467 beautiful, warm days

#468 family – in all it’s hugeness 🙂

#469 an obliging doctor’s office

#470 antibiotics

#471 Motrin and medicine droppers

#472 a compliment from a not-so-little-anymore, “little” brother

#473 coordinating Easter clothes – my children’s’ and my grandparents’ =D

#474 heavy starch and irons

#475 trampolines

#476 that I have the sweetest neighbor here on God’s green earth

#477 brown eyes

#478 that He will meet us, come to us . . . that He heard my murmured plea

#479 a nine-year-old uncle and all of his playfulness and wonder in the eyes of his three-year-old niece

#480 provision

#481 An Easter life. In all of its strenuous, very real wrestlings and its steadfast, clinging-heart hope.

Click here to join others in the hope-filled thankfulness

All Creatures Here Below

Last week, I am sweeping dust bunnies and still-living ants off of our hardwood floors (yes, we have a few ants that always seem to make it through the front door). As I brush dirt onto the dustpan, I mentally picture the few closets that are finally a little organized. The few cabinets that are a bit more streamlined. That newly, amazingly shined refrigerator. The recently bathed little girls, who had played so hard and so completely outside that they left a ring of Georgia soil in the bottom of the tub.

 

It sounds a little boring, doesn’t it? This life of motherhood I live? Sometimes, I think it’s boring too. Sometimes, I try to escape it and run, panting and breathless, into the blogosphere, looking for a little escape. Sometimes, it’s a piece of chocolate (okay, okay, make that a few pieces), or another peek into my email inbox. In fact, I usually try to escape this little life I’ve been given. Try to put off the laundry, leave the dishes in the sink, let my girls play on their own instead of joining right on in. Rarely, when I feel a little bored with this life, do I run full-force into it. Rarely do I put all my efforts into glorifying my little corner of the world.

 

Because sometimes, this little corner of mine just feels so small and dust-ridden. To be honest, a little insignificant.

 

But last week, when I was just spinning on the Potter’s wheel? I could feel His pleasure. And I wonder if when we bring glory to ourselves  – not the “hey, look at me, aren’t I doing a good job?” type of glory, but the “this is where I am, I’m going to give it my all” type of glory – if that is when we most bring Glory to our Creator. Or as my friend and beautiful writer, Beth, says, our Masterpiece RE-Creator.** I wonder if when, no matter what He’s called us to – whether being a stay-at-home mom, a working/stay-at-home mom, a man with a six-figure income, a maid in a curb-side motel, a cashier at Wal-Mart, a Pastor of a 1000-member church, a missionary to China, a writer, a photographer, or even a little child leaving rings of dirt in the bathtub – if we are giving it our all, running, panting and breathless, full-force into our lives, that we are then living and breathing Doxologies to our God.

 

What if we lived our lives as a resonating Amen, a “so be it”, to the calling of the Life he has poured for us?

His image.

Let us live lives worthy of our calling.

 

** My “insert link” isn’t working today (I’m sure there’s another way to go about it, but I’m not the computer-geek that I wish I was). My friend, Beth’s amazingly, beautiful words: http://awalkalongtheway.blogspot.com/2011/04/making-masterpiece-of-me.html.

Completion

For it is He who has made us (and our children) and not we ourselves.

Psalm 100:3

 

By 9:30 this morning, I am *done*. Early this morning, I waken the girls so that we can go meet my out-of-town grandparents for breakfast as they travel through our city. And my little ones aren’t bad per say, but they are into everything in the Cracker Barrel gift shop. Everything imaginable is right within grasp and they run circles around me. The oldest needs way too much coaxing to give a simple thank you to her great-grandmother for a sweet gift. Dovey fusses and whines and tries to wriggle out of my arms and I can’t gulp the coffee down fast enough to keep up with them.

 

How do these types of mornings always and so quickly leave me with my head hanging and my heart heavy with feelings of failure as a mother? This role of motherhood is not easily evaluated, is it? In my nursing days, a job well-done was much more easily gauged. Pneumonia cured? I must have done a good job administering antibiotics, forcing fluids, etc. Child pitches a fit in the middle of Wal-Mart? I feel like a failure and walk out of the store with my tail between my legs. But maybe (maybe), I did everything just right. Child wins an award for being the most well-behaved child at school? I may leave the building with my head held high and chest puffed up. But maybe I did everything wrong and it was all grace. Children have a sometimes aggravating, sometimes healing, certain kind of something called free will.

 

This morning, I feel the enemy’s daggers searing into my heart and mind, trying to instill lies of despair. Trying to convince me that I really am in control and simply failing. How can I do this differently? How can I take more control over everyday situations? Why do I feel out of control??? I’m not cut out for this.

 

We  stop by the library and pick up story books before coming home. As soon as we walk through our door, books are plopped in the doorway and Dovey steps on Firefly’s book, just to get a reaction. She gets it. Firefly lights into her with her words and I take a deep breath and say something about how yelling doesn’t help the situation. But haven’t I been known to do the same thing all too often the last few days? My words sound feeble and hypocritical. I let out a long exhale. Because I realize that Firefly’s learned the yelling from none other than her mother.

 

A few minutes later, I’m busy attending to something, but my breath catches as, completely of her own initiative, Firefly cuddles up to her little sister on the couch, gives her a kiss and says, “I’m sorry for yelling at you, Dove.”

 

I had almost missed it.

 

Isn’t this what I’ve been doing all week too? Asking forgiveness from Firefly for this very same thing?

 

And I know it’s true but how quickly I forget: kids’ hearts are welded to what is caught, not taught.

 

I will preach sometimes, I will disciple others. Sometimes I will bend low and others I will be in my own world. Some days I may remember to spend time on the floor in the middle of blocks and baby dolls, and others, I will forget. I will sometimes fail in disciplining, I may succeed in others. I may have a clean house or a dirty. I may be a gourmet cook in a gourmet kitchen or a gourmet PB&J maker over stained counters. I may hold fast to philosophies of attachment parenting or its counterpart. I may decide to homeschool, or I may send my children to public school. None of it matters. Well, it does matter. But it really doesn’t.

 

Because, as a parent, all that really matters is our loving Jesus. Trying to instill in them a love for Jesus. Trying to be an example. Praying hard. Letting go.

 

Of course, we as mothers and fathers will guide and direct and teach as much as we are possibly able, will we not? But there will be more failures than we care to count. But our children are His. And we must remember that we His.

 

May He be theirs.

 

And our God?

Anything He puts His hand to?

It’s made perfect. It’s completed. He never fails.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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