Uncategorized

Dads and Moms and kindness and grace

How does it happen so fast?  One minute they’re little babes in your arms and the next minute they’re talking about careers and getting married and all those grown-up things.

My youngest just turned 13 this past week.  I can’t even believe I’m typing that.  13??  Goodness.  And my oldest will turn 20 on his next birthday.  It feels weird to know I have a child who’s almost 20.  I don’t think of myself as being old enough to have a 20 year old.  But then age is just a number I guess.  At least that’s what they say, whoever they are.

I’ll be honest though.  I’ve been in a bit of a panic about it all because while age might be just a number, it’s a number that keeps increasing every year and I look around and think, but wait…I’m not ready to be 45 years old.  I’m not ready to have one child hitting his teen years and the other getting ready to leave them behind.

I’m not ready.  Will I ever be ready?

I look at my oldest son and I worry that I didn’t do enough.  That I didn’t give him all the guidance that I should have.  That I didn’t tell him everything he needed to know.  That I didn’t teach him all the things I was supposed to.  He’ll soon be out in the world on his own.  Did I do everything I was supposed to as a mom so that he’ll be alright as an adult?

I guess, though, that that’s the worry of most parents.  Did we raise them well enough?  Did we do it right?

And really, I don’t know that there is a “right” way to parent.  Every child is different, even children within the same family, raised by the same parents in the same home.  My boys are so different.

Over the years, my oldest has sometimes complained that I do things for the younger one that I didn’t do for the him.  And there’s probably some truth to that.  There’s six years between them, so I like to think that I was less stupid and maybe had learned a bit more about what it means to be a grown-up by the time the second one came along.  (I also remind my oldest that while it seems like the younger one gets away with more than he did, he also forgets what he was like as a little one and doesn’t remember all the things he got away with then.)

And then, you add in all the the things you are either trying to avoid or trying to emanate from your own childhood.  You’re either trying to give them better than what you had and trying to avoid being like your own parent or parents, or you’re trying to be at least as good as what you had because your folks set the standard high for great parenting.   

I guess I say all that to say, on this Father’s Day, that parenting is hard.  You make all these assumptions when you’re standing in the check out line at the grocery store behind a parent with a screaming child about what you’ll do when you have kids, but then you do and it’s usually way harder than you thought it’d be.  Now you’re the parent standing in the grocery store line with a screaming child while some know-it-all behind you is rolling their eyes.

Be kind to yourself, Dad.  Give yourself some grace, Mom.  We’re all out here trying to do the best we can with our little ones…and our almost-grown ones.

Just love them.  Love them and encourage them.  Be there to listen and don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes.  Teach them about Jesus and pray.

And know that God loves them even more than you.

Uncategorized

Watering my soul

It’s raining today.  It’s been raining off and on for the last few days.  You ever notice how everything looks brighter after rain?  Like the grass looks greener.  The dirt looks darker. All the colors are more vivid after rain.

I have a little container garden on my back patio.  It’s not much.  A few tomato plants, cucumber, squash, lettuce and a grape vine.  Honestly, I haven’t done a whole lot to it.  I picked the suckers out of the tomato plant as it grew, but I’m no super gardener.  Yet, somehow I’ve managed to grow actually tomatoes, a couple of cucumbers, and a couple of squash.  (Still waiting on the grapes to show up, but the vine’s going crazy.)

I water my little garden everyday, but one thing I noticed is that it seems to look better after a little rain than after I’ve watered it.  I don’t know why that is.  Maybe it’s in my mind because it takes less effort for the rain to water the garden than it is for me to lug a gallon water jug back and forth from the kitchen sink a bunch of times.  You know, like kinda how dinner always seems better when you eat out and somebody else cooks it?

But either way, it’s got to be watered.  Whether it falls out of the sky or pours out of an old milk jug, in order to grow and produce fruit, the garden has to have water.

There’s been times over the years that I’ve felt God’s presence so powerful in my life.  Like I can feel him with me, leading me, speaking to me.  And then there have been times when it feels like he is silent.  Like I can’t feel him, can’t see him, can’t find him.

And I’ve realized that in the silent times, which I’ve had a lot of over the last couple of years, if I let myself get lazy and stop watering my soul, I stop producing fruit.  And if I’m honest, I’ve gotten pretty lazy.  Since we’ve been “between churches,” I’ve let myself get lax about being in the Word and spending time with Jesus daily.  And I can tell it….my soul feels dry.

But when in those times when I’ve been constant, I feel myself bubbling over with him.  God’s Word brings revelation about who he is and about who I am.  And when I’m spending time with Jesus, he sends revelation, sometimes in the most unexpected places and they surprise me and delight me.

So as the rain falls outside this morning, I’m reminded of how much my soul needs water and I’m encouraged when I feel my heart being drawn towards him.

He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. – Psalm 147:8

 

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”- John 4:13-14 

Uncategorized

Searching……….

I’m sitting here this morning drinking my coffee.  Billie Eilish is playing on Spotify and the dogs are getting settled in for their first morning nap.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel Held Evans.  She was a writer and speaker in the Christian community and she recently passed away at 37 years old.  I really was only vaguely familiar with her writings…honestly, I was just familiar enough with her to decide I didn’t really care to hear much of what she had to say.  Depending on which direction you lean, she could be quite controversial.  She was very outspoken in the areas of racism and feminism, as well as a strong supporter of the LGBTQ community.

And I had no doubt that she and I would not see eye to eye on anything.  Ever.

I decided though to start reading one of Rachel’s book this week called Searching for Sunday.  I bought it a while back around the time that I first left my church, but for whatever reason, I never did read it.  Actually, I’d completely forgotten I had it until I went online to buy it and realized I already owned it.

What’s funny is that this morning, upon scrolling Facebook, it showed me a status that I’d posted five years ago today.  It went like this:

You can call me conservative, close-minded, or backwards.  You can call me intolerant, lame, or stupid.  Call me whatever you want…it makes no difference.  The only thing that matters is that HE calls me daughter, and really He’s the only One I’m living to please.

Boy.  I knew then what I believed and why I believed it and I didn’t have a whole lot of space in my brain for anything else.  (insert strong fist pound on table here)

Five years later, I’d like to think that I’ve changed and grown.  I know in some ways, I have.  I’d also like to think that I’m still so sure of myself, but the reality is that I’m not.

Honestly, my first reaction sometimes is still to bristle at things that go against those beliefs I’ve always held dear.  That thing in me that wants to stand up and fight for what’s right is most certainly still there.  I still have very little tolerance for the misuse of God’s word and for allowing “feelings” to trump what I know to be truth.  But over time,  I’ve also come to realize that sometimes there can be a bit of a gray area where truth is concerned because it’s very easy to confuse God’s truth with my own.

As I’ve been reading Rachel’s book, I’m realizing that she and I weren’t so different in our thought processes.  It made me a little sad that I hadn’t picked her book up sooner.  But then, maybe if I’d read it sooner, before I’d started my own “search for Sunday,” then I likely wouldn’t have heard what she had to say.  Timing is everything I guess.  And while I don’t necessarily I agree with her in every aspect, I have seen a new perspective…a kinder one.  Toward others and towards myself.

I’ve been in a processing mode for the last few years.  Going back and forth between a soft and a hard heart, between anger and sadness, between listening and being closed off.  Trying to be more loving, more welcoming, more willing to hear, but not knowing exactly how to go about that without what I felt was a betrayal to myself and what I knew to be right and true.  Blanket accusations made me angry, but then I’ve realized that I’ve gotten pretty cynical with my own accusatory glares.

So here I’ve landed.  Wrestling somewhere between trying to stay the course while also getting over myself.  It’s been a good and awful trip getting here.  And I know there’s more road to be traveled.

On a side note, we left our church again.  I mean, I guess you could call it that.  I don’t know that I was ever completely convinced we were supposed to go back when we did.  We went there because it seemed like the natural place to go because it’s the place we left to begin with, but deep down it just didn’t feel like home anymore.  We aren’t really going anywhere right now, although we do watch different churches online here and there, but none I’d call home.

Right now church for me looks like conversations with a dear friend waiting in the carpool line or at the coffee shop.  Or Thursday night Bible study with some of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known.  Or laughing with my out-of-town sister-friend at the salon while she gets her hair done during a quick visit home.  Or poking through my little garden in the backyard in wonder at the beginnings of things growing in the sun.  God’s in all those places.

And right now, I’m trying to put aside all my own notions and just listen to Him.  And be more honest with myself.  And make some space for different perspectives.

And so my own search for Sunday continues…

********************

How about you?  Are you feeling out of place or a little off center?  Are there things you’re seeing differently or completely new right now?

 

Also, if you have a moment, say a prayer for Rachel’s family.  Her death was sudden and she leaves behind a husband and two children and many others who loved her dearly.

Uncategorized

Who will we choose?

I watched a message yesterday by Amir Tsarfati about Jesus and the Passover.  It was so good y’all!  I’m including the link for it because I hope you’ll go watch it too.

One of the things Amir mentioned has been tumbling around in my head since yesterday. It came from this bit of scripture about Jesus’ trial before he was crucified:

Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.  At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas.  So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.  While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”  But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.  “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered.  “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”  – Matthew 27:15-22

I’m not sure I ever really thought a whole lot about it before that Barabbas’ name was actually Jesus Barabbas.  (Jesus was a fairly common Hebrew name.)  It’s why when Pilate asked the people who to release, he had to specify between which Jesus…Jesus Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Christ.  (Depending on what version of scripture you’re reading, it may say Jesus Barabbas or just Barabbas.  Some leave the Jesus off, I guess to be less confusing.)

But what Amir said, that I don’t know that I’ve ever  realized before, is the meaning of Barabbas is “son of the father.”  In Hebrew, “bar” means “son” and “abba” means “father.”  So Jesus Barabbas was Jesus, son of the father.  And this gave me pause.  Son of the father?

I looked up a little about Barabbas because honestly I couldn’t remember what his crimes were, and what I found was that he was said to be a murder.  A taker of life.

The people chose one who takes life over one who gives it.

And why?  Because it made them feel better.  Because that other Jesus was too controversial.  He was too uncomfortable.  He did things weird and different from what they’d become accustomed to.  He said things that didn’t line up with their manmade assumptions about God.  He didn’t follow their rules.  He couldn’t be coerced or forced into their mold of godliness.

So they picked Jesus, son of the father over Jesus, Son of God the Father because it felt better.  And yet even though they chose wrong and Jesus Barabbas ran free, Jesus the Christ went to the cross anyway.

Do you see it?  The Father of Lies gave the people a counterfeit son hoping that when it came time to decide, they’d pick the one that makes them feel better.  And they did.  And Jesus went to the cross anyway.  He didn’t have to.  But he did.

Lord, how many times in a day do I pick the thing that makes me feel better?  The thing that doesn’t cause me to have to change much.  The thing that seems right in my own eyes (Prov. 21:2).  I shudder to think.

But the breathtaking part is that even when I choose wrong, the cross was still for me.  The sacrifice Jesus made there is still for me.  Even knowing we would choose wrong so many times, Jesus went to the cross anyway.   And even when we royally mess up, even when we think that we’ve totally blown it, the cross is still for us.

The cross is for all who choose it.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Jesus overcame death on the cross and rose from the grave.  He did all that so that we didn’t have to.  He offers life to all who will receive it, and none of us deserve it.

We all choose wrong sometimes.  Some of us, most of the time, Lord help me.  We pick the counterfeit because it feels good or fits into our box better.  But thanks be to God for his grace, because in all our wrong choosing, Jesus still paid it all for us.

The Giver of Life still chose us.


 

Be sure to go and watch Amir’s message!