Thursday, March 27, 2014

Self-Preservation, Anxiety, or Jesus

Sitting down to write when you have no idea what you want to say. What a drag. So instead of conjuring up some halfhearted attempt to say something…I’ll be writing what I’m learning. I’m reading through the book of John right now, along with other women by using the IF Equip website for morning devotions. Lately I’ve been thinking about preservation, more accurately self-preservation. Jesus escapes those who want to arrest him and stone him time after time after time. Something he just straight up walks away from an angry mob, sometimes he hides but he always gets away. But then… Judas. Through him came the most life changing betrayal of all time and Jesus saw it coming. The bible is clear that Jesus was acutely aware of his betrayer. Yet, he does not preserve himself. Jesus even sends Judas out on his evil errand in John 13: 27. Why hadn’t he saved himself at this, the most crucial moment? Well that’s because although he may have escaped mobs and persecutors in the past, it wasn’t out of self-preservation. Every time he escaped it was to the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel. And the same is true as he is “caught” and murdered. He stayed and waited and was willingly captured for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel. Not even for the spread of the Gospel, for the fruition of the Gospel. He didn’t seek to preserve himself at all. He gave it all. And until it was the time for him to give himself for us, he anticipated that he would. He carried around the knowledge of his torture and death while we ministered. He carried around the knowledge of his torture and death even as he shared dinner with Judas. If Jesus doesn’t prove that we can truly lay down our anxiety for God to carry...nothing does. He didn’t self-preserve and he didn’t live in fear, he did the third thing. He humbled himself, trusted God, and gave every ounce of himself for the Father’s glory.

Such a humbling call to live each day the same way.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bored with the Radiance of Jesus

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a blogger it’s this: if you want to see your views at an all time low, just write about Jesus. Even in spite of my suspicion that a large majority of my readers love Jesus, the numbers don’t lie. A large majority of people are bored with Jesus. I know that sounds harsh, but like I said the proof is in the pudding. Now I’ve also come to learn that as a blogger, it is incredibly easy to be driven by yourself and your page views. It would be so easy to write on one of the other topics I love to write about (marriage, family, motherhood, crazy shenanigans, etc.) and then just sprinkle in a little Jesus. But the most important thing I ever promised myself and the Lord when I decided to do this writing thing was that when I feel compelled to write, I write. I won’t let fear or greed or insecurity hold me back and I won’t let ambition morph my love for writing. So as per my promise, here I am.

I know that sometimes people think Jesus is boring, because at times I know I’ve been one of those bored people. But the thing about it is, Jesus isn’t boring. Maybe what I think of him, how I enjoy him, or what I do with him is boring; but not HIM. Jesus was wildly unpredictable during his time on earth. Even the men and women who traveled with him and learned from him were terrible at guessing his next move. Jesus spoke with love and frankness, which is something I think gets lost within the niceties of Christian culture sometimes. He outrageously loved, to the point of offending all the religious people who were watching him. He had his choice of crowds full of people, and yet he chose to spend his time in the home of a fraudulent thief? He showed love and kindness to hookers. I don’t even know a hooker, so this is way outside of my sphere of experiences. I’m sure he constantly overhead whispers of “You just don’t do that,” and if he didn’t I’m sure that complainers found their way to his friends to leave their proverbial comment cards. The vibrant and exciting life that Jesus led for the sake of the Gospel makes it seem silly that we constantly want black and white answers for our growing lists of do’s and don’ts. Jesus saw and lived by the big picture while the people around him constantly had their head pointed straight down at the ground in front of them. As I read through the book of John I find myself wondering how Jesus didn’t snap out of frustration and yell “Stop being so scared that you are going to trip on a bump in the road and get your eyes up. You’re missing it!” I wonder how he doesn’t scream that to me while I’m patting myself on the back for being so good.

While I’m grinning at the handy work of the life I’ve built, Jesus waits for me to throw down my little lantern, to look up, and to run into the sunrise. Jesus doesn’t bother himself with nice things or acceptable behavior, Jesus lives richly, abundantly, graciously, faithfully, vibrantly….and he wants me to join him. Can you believe it? He desires to share his abundance with me. So for when we think maybe Jesus is just boring, I wonder, what is your answer to His invitation? Maybe we haven’t taken him up on his offer for new life filled with color and promise. Maybe we settled for something a little duller and a lot easier to explain to people. Because Jesus gives new life, and he brings the hope of glory to come…he doesn’t do boring. No matter how glamorous or how routine your life is, you have the opportunity to live it in excellence for the glory of Jesus Christ. It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about how you are doing it and who you are doing it for. It doesn’t matter where you are called, it matters that you are loved enough to be called at all.

Answer him, look up, and live in His radiance.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Winter Writing: The Last One

So tomorrow the forecast is right below that dreaded little line…the freezing line.  So I will write my (hopefully, please please please) last Winter Writing installment of the series. Thankfully I did find myself saying “That’s one nice thing about winter” just the other day.

The nice thing about winter is that when you go grocery shopping you can still stop at a friends house after, or get coffee, or go shopping for other stuff and not worry about your food spoiling. Winter (at least in the Midwest) is like living in a refrigerator or sometimes like living in a freezer.

And that’s all folks. That’s all the good that I could possibly muster out of winter. And I hereby promise that if it gets below freezing again…I’ll….well…I’ll….just go…and…get myself a brown sugar latte AND a scone. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dear, New Parent

Is it just my “news” feed or has there been a humungous baby boom over the past few months? It seems like everyday there is another newborn and new parents to congratulate! That’s awesome. But with all the newness that comes with adding a member to your family….there are a lot of new things that parents just had no idea were waiting for them.  Alright, listen…no I mean….LIST-EN. This blog is meant to be wholly and completely ENCOURAGING.  I refuse….REFUSE…to take a stance or use this blog as a platform for my personal convictions to become some sort of judgment on other parents. After much much soul searching and conviction over the past 4 years I can honestly tell you that I DO NOT CARE HOW YOU BIRTH OR FEED YOUR CHILD. When I say “I don’t care” I mean I don’t publically or privately concern myself with your family’s decisions. I do care very much in the sense that a wonderful thing has happened in your life and I can’t wait to hear all about it as a friend. And I’m so happy that you found what works best for your family, that is indeed an exciting discovery! Now you that you know what this post is not, let’s get into what exactly this blog is.

Mommies and Daddies of new children,

Congratulations! I know you are so so overwhelmed by the love that just swelled out of your heart and all over your life recently. Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, whether your child came by way of biology or by adoption, whether your new child is a baby or a walking, talking, child with a mind of their own, life as you knew it has turned upside down! There are three things that I want to say to you, with my whole heart. First, even though you are totally overwhelmed by love you are probably also overwhelmed by the total recall of your old routines and lifestyle. It is ok and normal to feel those conflicting emotions! It isn’t selfish to miss the freedom and sleep that isn’t readily available to you right now. Now that you are a parent you will forever live in this vortex of tension and conflicting emotions and desires. The vortex is your home now, embrace it. Seriously though, learn to live with a balance of continual sacrifice and continual blessing. And it is a balance, because if you martyr yourself for the sake of giving your child everything, you will find yourself at a breaking point and your child spoiled with an entitled view of life. If you continue to treat yourself as #1 and treat your children as accessories for your life, you’ll miss out and raise defeated children who chase love from other people because they grow tired of seeking it from you. Learn to accept the balancing act. You will come to count the minutes until bedtime and hold your breath until they sleep, but then you’ll sneak in their room and risk it all just to kiss their adorable little sleepy cheeks. The more you welcome the tension (versus fight it), the more content you will be. But all of us out here in the world of mommies and daddies know what you are feeling and we have all felt the same way! Becoming a mom or dad is a huge adjustment! Continue to nurture your marriage and your relationship with God, secure in the fact that strength from those relationships will propel you as a new parent. Do not ever fool yourself into believing that cutting corners in your walk with God or your spouse will give you more time or energy to be a parent.

My second piece of advice is this (mainly for mommas): DO NOT allow yourself to get sucked into pinterest, instagram, and facebook. Social media and the like have been the down fall of many a mother. First of all, most of us are posting the highlights of our day. The HIGHlights, not the low moments, not the boring moments—the best moments. Don’t compare yourself to that junk. Comparison is TOXIC. Listen to the women and married couples in your life that you love and respect, but don’t go on an unending search for the approval of all your friends. Trust me, living for others is exhausting and joy-stealing. Don’t read peoples rants online about the best yada yada and the only way to do so&so. People have been having kids and screwing it up for a very very long time. You know who got it right though? Yep. The one and only perfect parent-child relationship is the one we observe between God and Jesus. By grace we are invited in to receive the perfect Father in God, but we are far from perfect sons. “And from his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” (John 1:16) Walk in light and enjoy the richness of a life spent knowing Jesus. Continually come to the table for grace upon grace and you will be satisfied.

My third little tid bit to impart is simply this: You will sleep again. It does get easier. I promise. We’ve been there!