Saturday, April 30, 2011


Last night I cried out to God from the deepest of places, and He met me there. While feeling a need here to protect the not so innocent, I want to tell you of the difference that a relationship with Christ makes in the everyday issues of life. I had come to the end of a looooong week of emotional ups and downs, and was pretty much coming unglued last night.

I cried out to God in frustration, loneliness, and hurt. My head is soft and lumpy from banging it against the same old wall. I grabbed my ipod, my Bible, and my reading glasses, and headed for the couch, intending to stay there all night. That last sentence alone is enough to point to the difference that Christ makes in my life on a daily basis. I did not go searching for something or someone to make me feel better, to distract me from the hurt. Not chocolate. Not validation from an outside source. I brought my weariness to Jesus. The enemy is waiting for us to take our troubles elsewhere, to step off the path, so he can take us further away from the cross (1 Peter 5:8), but, that is a message for another time.

I put on my favorite song for hard times: David Crowder's All I Can Say, setting it to repeat on my ipod. That song reminds me that when the only thing I can hear is the sound of my heart shattering, Jesus is with me, weeping alongside me. I am not alone.

I opened my Bible to Romans, intending to read the part about living peacably with everyone as far as it depends on me, (Roman 12:18, incidentally, the chapter that the Bishop read in the royal wedding yesterday), and landed in chapter 8 instead. The Lord reminded me that hope seen is not hope, but that we must hope in that which is not seen, patiently.

Ugh. Patiently is not one of my favorite words.

This chapter also tells me that the Holy Spirit is always communicating my thoughts to the Father, and His thoughts back to me, even when I don't have the words. Even when all I can do is cry. I wondered how I was supposed to live in the meantime.

He reminded me that His is the only love that never runs out, and that He will supply all I need to give when I can't find it in myself. When I want to spew frustration and indignation on my or someone else's behalf, He will supply the love. Good thing.

I cried out to Him in frustration, wondering what else He wants from me, tired of being asked to walk the same stretch of road over and over. I cried out to him in longing, tired of the brick wall I feel like I'm up against, and He took me to Hosea, and with these words calmed me:
"Come, and let us return to the LORD; For He has torn, but He will heal us;  He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in his presence.  Let us know the LORD;  let us press on to know Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:2-3
Feeling like I was living in the Saturday of the first resurrection weekend, hopeless, bleak, wondering what I was supposed to do now, these words lifted me up.These words filled the cracks of my parched soul, settling down deep in all the hurting places. I could feel the healing begin.  He will restore me. He will revive me, when I know Him as LORD.

If there is a place in your life that has just worn you thin, taken everything you have to give and more, I promise you there is hope. Hope is not an abstract concept. Hope is real and His name is Jesus. You might feel alone, but you are not. I am praying that your heart and eyes be opened to this truth, which, by the way, is not an abstract concept either. Truth is real and His name is Jesus. You are not walking through anything that He is not fully aware of and walking with you. Hope and trust have become the buzz words of my days, hope in Christ and trust in His plan, and the knowledge that He will never leave me alone to face anything on my own. I am the one who walks away in frustration and anger, not Him.

One last word of encouragement, for both of us, from Isaiah: He will keep in perfect peace her whose mind is stayed on Him, because she trusts in you (26:3). Jesus is the difference between hope and despair. After listening to the song repeatedly, reading His word, and thanking Him for being everything I need, I made the long walk down the hall to sleep in my bed, where I belong. Anything less would not have honored the promises He makes to me.

If you are like me and find solace in music, this song might help you feel a little less alone.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Wardrobe Malfunctions

What Not To Wear mumbles along on the tv while I try to ignore it, in search of a deeper thought. But as I listen without trying, I hear this week's "client" talk about her go-to outfit, the one she grabs when there isn't time to think about what to wear. I start to think about my "go-to" outfit, the me I slip into when I am not actively thinking about who I am.

And I must say, I am not pleased with my choices. Sometimes I grab that "victim" wrap, the giant cloak that I can hide inside. Ask me how I'm doing and you might hear a litany of long-suffering humble patience, which actually lacks humility and patience. I get tired of dealing with the same old issues, and hope wears thin sometimes. I catch myself complaining under the guise of enduring for the glory that God has in store, but it's still complaining.

Sometimes I clothe myself in the "git-er done" outfit. Capable, self-sufficient, go big or go home, I say with bravado. Mostly though, I just wonder how much is enough. How do I know the difference between what I want and what God wants? What if He doesn't want "big" at all? This is an outfit I choose carefully, afraid of failing. How will I know failure from success if I don't know what the goal is in the first place?

We don't always get to choose the roles we will play in this life, but we do always get to choose our clothes. I look to God sometimes to change circumstances, but He is waiting for me to figure out what to wear to the party He has invited me to. He offers me a closet full of precious adornments, a closet where everything is guaranteed to fit when I look in His mirror. Colossians 3 reminds me to clothe myself in humility, genuine humility not the complaining kind. Meekness is always in fashion, which doesn't mean weak, but strength under control. Yes, I am capable of getting something done but it might not be mine to do. Sit back and wait for direction.

I am a student of the Word, but just knowing what it says isn't enough. The Word must be allowed to dwell, to live, to grow, and to thrive in me before you will see it as my "go-to" outfit. For now, when you see me out, picture me in a bright orange construction vest and a yellow hard hat, with a little caution tape trialing behind, like a true work in progress. And when you see me wearing one of my less flattering ensembles, consider it a wardrobe malfunction of someone who has not yet grown into her clothes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Sacred, Profaned

A peculiar tension gnawed around the edges of my awareness today and I couldn't put my finger on why. Sitting in the dimly lit auditorium at church today, I came face to face with the reason for my discomfort.

Jesus, hanging on the cross for me.

And there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Watching the videos that accompanied the music at our Good Friday service, I understood, once again, that it was my sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. The closest I can come to describing how I felt is if you were meeting someone who gave you something precious and valuable at the moment you least deserved it. As I said on Facebook after I got home, words cannot express what He has done for us. It must be felt with the heart.

Overwhelmed by His goodness, overwhelmed by my inability to ever be good enough to deserve it.

I think what I felt today was grace, overpowering grace. Humbling, crippling, can't stop crying and look up at Him, grace.

I wanted to write this post from the minute I got home, but real life was waiting. Resurrection buns to make, Easter eggs to color, bedtime tv with the boys turning into tv time for me...

And the feeling slid away.

I know my real life isn't in the way of my relationship with Jesus, it points the way. But sometimes, I feel like I'm in one of those round-abouts, seeing the route I'm supposed to take, but not able to change lanes and get to it.

How do I reconcile the reality of today with what is to come, when my voice will join the chorus singing "Holy, holy, holy" for all eternity?

I came across this quote in a blog I was reading tonight, and if God could put a post-it on my fridge with the answer, I think this might be it:
“The Bible makes no room for the idea of the secular. In biblical worldview, there is only the sacred and the profane, and the profane is just the sacred abused, unkempt, trampled down, trivialized, turned inside out. It is just the holy treated in an unholy way.” ~Buchanan

My real life is the sacred that I am seeking. Only I can take the sacred and profane it. Once again, face to face with the sin that nailed Him to the cross. And the Love that held Him there.

Oh Lord, help me. Help us all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hail to the King

My heart was full this evening as I went through the Resurrection Eggs with my boys and my granddaughter, explaining in simple terms what Easter is all about. And they were getting it. I am looking forward to a weekend celebrating more than chocolate for breakfast, bringing Easter to a level that we can live and absorb as a family. I can see connections being made in all generations in my house, and it rocks. So, Hail to the King. Hail to the Living Word. Thank you, God, thank you, for making the way. For being the Way.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Walking on Water

Here is my deep thought of the week for the It's No Secret online study, originally posted in October 2009.

“When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by.” Mk 6:47-51

Like this isn’t cool enough, but are you ready for the deeper meaning? In reading “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat” by John Ortberg, I came across a fascinating insight. The verb parerchomai is the Greek translation of “to pass by.” It is a technical term to refer to a theophany-those defining moments when God made “striking and temporary appearances in the earthly realm.” The same verb was used in the Old Testament with Moses and Elijah:

God put Moses in a cleft in a rock so Moses could see “while my glory passes by”…The LORD passed before him.

God told Elijah to stand on the mountain “for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Each time the LORD passed by someone, He was getting ready to call them to do something extraordinary. I just love the insight of the Greek word. Jesus was not just walking on water instead of swimming or teleporting Himself to the other side. He was revealing Himself, in His glory, to the disciples. Oh, to have been a barnacle on the side of that boat and been witness to the LORD passing by.

Hands, Feet, and Hearts

"To be still and KNOW that You're in this place..."

It's a line from one of my favotite songs, Word of God Speak, by Mercy Me. It echoes the sentiment of Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. Rest in His sovereignty, knowing that He has everything under control. It is much easier to sing than do, I know. Yesterday, though, He opened my eyes briefly to see His Hand in a few circumstances. It was a gift, and a confirmation, that life is not random.

My daughter goes to college across the state from me. This week we learned that she has pneumonia, and all she wanted was some chicken soup. Driving to her, making chicken soup, and getting back home to meet other obligations was not possible. I messaged a bloggy friend who lives in her area, asking her if she could be this mama's hands and feet and make some chicken soup for my daughter. She agreed immediately, even though she doesn't have a vehicle, and two other people ended up being involved. It was so cool to know that others found joy and satisfaction in doing what I could not do; even if it wouldn't have all worked out, I felt good just knowing that I could ask.

God directed my attention to another situation, this time closer to home. There is a family who has been investing in one of my kids, doing things for this one that I cannot. It is better that I remain a little cryptic, but I want you all to know that I know that God is up to something, and yesterday He allowed me to see it so clearly. I say I always trust that He is at work, and that He only has our best in mind, but yesterday He blessed me with a piece of His vision and for that I am grateful. I love the body of Christ, the giant family that I get to be part of.

Is there an opportunity that is knocking on your door...a place for you to be hands and feet? It doesn't have to be big. I know there is a push for the mission field at a lot of churches these days, with summer mission trips coming up. Sometimes we feel like if we aren't needing a passport, we aren't really making a difference. A small thing done in love is a great thing, right?

With this being Easter week, the door is opened a little wider in the unsaved hearts around us. You just don't know the difference you could make in someone's life when they see the difference Christ makes in yours.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Seeker's Heart

I have had the odd feeling lately that I am on the edge of tapping into something really big. Like, really big. Life changing, even. That feeling is a mix of anticipation, excitement, and impatience.



It's like knowing that someone has already bought you a birthday present, and you are pretty sure you know what it is, but you still have to wait to receive it.

Ephesians 1:18-20 is at the root of this feeling:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,  and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
I am standing on an iceberg of knowledge, with only the barest tip sticking out into the ocean. If the power that raised Christ from the dead was only meant to keep us from going to hell, God could have waited until we were knocking on the pearly gates to see if we wanted this gift or not. But, in His wisdom and mercy, He allows us to take part in the resurrection today, while we are still living this life. And we have no idea the fullness of what that actually means. I am headed back into seeker mode. The last few years I have been ok with just being busy for Jesus, and maintaining with what I already know.

I feel like I am becoming a student again.

At night my soul longs for You,
Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently;
Isaiah 26:9

Monday, April 11, 2011


Did you ever get a glimpse of something small and instinctively know that it was part of something really deep, really the corner of a treasure box? Your shovel hits something hard, something solid, and you know you have to keep digging? That happened to me yesterday.

Now, before distant relatives start coming out of the woodwork, let me clarify that the treasure I found is not made of jewels and gemstones. Much more valuable than that, and I would be thrilled to share it with you.

I was getting ready for church yesterday, enjoying a cup of coffee in the warm early spring morning, when my Bible beckoned me from the table. Seriously. It was like "Come read 1 Peter." Ok...

I'll be honest and tell you, I usually skim over the opening of each new book, the part with the greetings to people I don't know anyway, but yesterday my eye lingered on the word exiles of the Dispersion. For whatever reason, these people were cast out of their normal surroundings. They were exiles, not welcome back in their home countries. Ever feel like that? Maybe not physically exiled from your home, but like things just weren't right? Peter continued to encourage them with the hope they have in Christ, then in verse 5, my shovel hit something solid..."you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." He goes on to encourage them in their suffering, so that the genuineness of their faith, which is being tested, will result in praise for Jesus Christ.

Being protected by the power of God through faith got me thinking.  Faith has been given to me through the power of God for protection. I had never thought about it that way. Today, I flipped to Ephesians 6, the whole armor of God section. We have on our belt of truth, our breastplate of righteous, our sturdy shoes for duty, and then, check this out: v.16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. That is some serious protection, standing behind my shield of faith to thwart the assaults of the devil. How plain and clear, but at the same time, how valuable. I fight the enemy through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Not by trying harder, not by trying to say just the right thing (but there is value in prudence, I know), but by faith. The song In Christ Alone just started playing in the background of my brain.

Maybe this is something you all already knew, and I am just seeing it in a new light. The Word is so living and active. I feel like I have been given another weapon in my arsenal. Not only does He give us the means, through faith, to be protected, but through faith, we are given an opportunity to see Jesus at work and another reason to share His goodness. The word faith gets tossed around so casually when the intent of it runs so deep. Definitely more to ponder on and dig for, that's for sure.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Sally Fields Moment

For those of you old enough to get the reference, I had a Sally Fields moment this morning. Does singing the song "How He Loves" by the David Crowder Band smack of narcissism to anyone else? I always get this weird feeling when I'm singing, "Oh, how He loves me...", like I"m doing the daisy petal thing and only saying He loves me, He loves me, He loves me. It  makes me feel very full of myself. I saw some cocktail napkins the other day that said."Let's talk about how fantastic I am." and while that is one of my favorite pastimes..., it doesn't always feel right to sing it and attribute to God.

But, on the other hand, it is downright blasphemous to not believe that He loves us that way. In His own words, He gave His only son for us so that we could spend eternity with Him. An action of that magnitude is not the by-product of a superficial, circumstantial love. There is a line in the song that says "Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes."  According to, redemption means deliverance from sin, rescue, or salvation. Grace is a by-product of love. We are drawn to redemption by love. Redemption invites us to live in the change that God's love provides. That goes a lot further in winning me over than the bumper sticker I saw one day: The beatings will continue until morale improves.

As I was singing this morning, and processing these conflicting feelings, I was slightly ashamed to realize that I felt uncomfortable singing these words, until I balanced it out in my head. Who am I to not believe these words? Who am I to not live in the light of His grace, drawn there by the love He has for me? What more could God do to prove that He loves me? He loves me. He really loves me.

 The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17
Today I got to return the favor.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Legal Counsel

In Rachel's Olsen's book It's No Secret, there was a section this week on allowing Jesus to be your legal counsel. Now, this wouldn't work in a real court of law because all parties might not be able to hear Him, but we can use it in our lives. What it means, girls, is to let Jesus fight your battles for you. Instead of getting mixed up in arguments, defending yourself, or trying to prove a point, take a step back and a deep breath.

Can I be honest and tell you that I am breathing deep right now? Everything in me would like to charge up the stairs and explain why I am right. I am fighting against myself right now to keep from making lists of all the times we have had the same "discussion" with different faces on it. Life is hard sometimes, and easy answers can be difficult to come by.

So, here I sit, quoting scripture to myself:
  • O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with Him is great love and with Him is great power to redeem. (Psalm 130:7)
  • I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in me (and him) will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
  • Come to Me, all who are weary, for my yoke is simple and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28)
Yes, these are straight from memory, because I go to them often. My hope is in Jesus, He will continue to be at work in all parties concerned, and He is here to carry my heavy heart when necessary. He is not only my legal counsel, He is my shelter and my refuge.So, here I sit, knowing that the best lawyer ever is already working things out for good, whatever that will look like. I can trust that whatever happens, Jesus will be in the results.  Sorry for spilling a small pity party here, but this is where head knowledge meets the heart.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

This Might Hurt a Little...

Do you remember when you were a kid, before you got a shot, and the nurse warned you that it might hurt a little, but it the long run it would be worth it? Forgiveness is a little like that…it hurts up front sometimes, but it is definitely worth it.

There is a good chance that if you have been alive more than a couple of years, someone has hurt or offended you. For some of us, that offense runs deeper than what is reasonable to expect in the course of the average day. In an effort to hide from the pain we carry, we bury it down deep but never really forget about it. Do you know what happens with a wound that is not cleaned out and treated properly? Exactly. It festers. It gets smelly. It contaminates the healthy tissue around it. When you allow a hurt or offense to fester, it contaminates every other area of your life. If you don’t agree, ask the people closest to you. Because our own eyes are the only ones we can’t look into ourselves, we sometimes miss what others see clearly.

The cure to the festering, the contamination, is forgiveness. That might hurt a little. We have all grown up hearing the phrase “Forgive and forget.” We feel like we have to move on, hold hands with the people who hurt us, and sing Kumbaya. This just isn’t an accurate picture of forgiveness.

According to, the meaning of the word forgive is:

• to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.

• to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).

• to grant pardon to (a person).

• to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one's enemies.

• to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.

Look carefully at the definitions. None of them have anything to do with the offender deserving to be forgiven. It all has to do with releasing the hold that the offense has on us. Forgiveness is a gift that we give to ourselves. Not doing so gives power to the crime or the hurt, and to the person who perpetrated it.

The Bible is very clear on the effect of unforgiveness on our souls. When we carry anger, we make room for the devil to get a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26) We become bitter. We lose our joy. And sisters, you may not know this yet, but we were created, created, for joy. Notice I didn’t say happiness. Happiness is circumstancial. Joy is a gift of the Spirit that comes from relationship with Jesus. (Galatians 5:22). When you are full of anger, resentment, and bitterness towards someone, there is no room for joy.

I love the cup analogy. Picture your heart as a cup of milk. If something knocks into you, what spills out? Right. Milk. Now imagine your heart as a cup of rage. A cup of resentment. A cup of disappointment. A cup of bitterness. When the world knocks into you, and it will, what is spilling out? What is spilling out over the people in your life? Rage. Resentment. Disappointment. Bitterness. The way to empty the cup and start again is to displace the ugliness in it with some God-sized ice cubes. Cultivating our relationship with God, filling up with Him, is how we forgive the things that we are stewing about.

Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. You may not feel forgiving, but it is an action. Forgiveness does not mean the same thing as trust. Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves, but trust has to be earned by another person. You are not required to walk back into a bad situation just because you forgave someone. After you have made the choice to forgive, and you find yourself thinking ugly thoughts about the offense, remind yourself that you have forgiven that person. Take those thoughts captive. Your mind cannot think two thoughts at the same time, so you replace the unforgiving thoughts with God’s truth. You are in charge of your mind, because that is where rational thought comes from, being ruled by emotion comes from the heart, and is not based in absolute truth, but the feeling or mood of the day. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient unto Christ. That means that we take the thoughts that are not productive, but destructive, and line them up with the truth of Jesus.

Philippians 4:8 is an important verse to remember: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. The promise that follows in Philippians 4:9 is that when we do those things, think on those things, the peace of God will be with us. And that, sisters, is what we are after. We are tired of living in pain and bitterness. We need peace. These verses are where it begins.

I am not saying that what happened to you is not important, and that you weren’t allowed to be hurting; that comes with being human. It is the dwelling on it part that does the damage. I know what it is like to be hurt in a way that there is no excuse for. I also know that the one thing that has enabled me to move forward was releasing the people I was holding responsible. God has promised me in His Word that vengeance is His. The reason He claims it as His own, and tells us to walk away, is because He knows that left up to us, it would destroy us.

If these words sting, or you need a little more convincing as to the necessity of forgiving others, let me direct you to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:15: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” That, friends, is pretty straight-forward. Remember, there is no hierarchy to sin. Either you sin or you don’t, and we all do. Either we forgive others, or we are not forgiven.

When you set someone free through forgiveness, they lose their power over you. And maybe, someday, you may find yourself in a position of wanting to pray for that very person. I like to remember the saying that “hurting people hurt people.” When it comes right down to it, like it or not, the person who hurt you is just as broken and in need of healing as you once were.

What it all boils down to is this:

• Forgiveness is a choice.

• Forgiveness is not for “them.”

• Forgiveness is a necessity.

"Again, you have life and death set before you today." (Deuteronomy 30:19). Choose to live free.

Thoughts to Consider

• What do you gain by not forgiving somebody?

• How has unforgiveness kept you in bondage to the offense?

• Imagine life without the ball and chain of bitterness slowing you down. How does it feel?

Strength Builders

• For freedom, Christ has set you free. Stand firm, therefore, and submit no more to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

• Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)

• Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

I posted over at the Mom Time blog on the fabulous topic of stewing. Who doesn't love a good stew, right...?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Picture of Grace

Heartbroken sobs came from behind the dining room chair, his little tear-stained face barely visibly behind his knees. Under the table, I quickly gathered up the scattered puzzle pieces as the dog was sniffing for just the right one to make off with. Roughly 400 pieces of the 750 piece puzzle had already been put together, which left about 350 to pick up off the floor; 750 pieces that when assembled would be a pretty country shelf with a bunch of flower pots. Right now I'm not sure that it won't be 749 pieces of a floral arrangement...Gracie was pretty quick to take off to her corner. Justin and the dog had been enjoying a romp around the dining room table amid my cries to be careful and watch out for my masterpiece in the making.

Once I was certain I had gotten all the pieces back in the box, I called to Justin to come to me.

He wouldn't.

I went around the chair and gently scooped him up, trying to console him. These weren't the tears of a kid who is afraid he is "gonna get it." These were tears of remorse. He knew how hard I had been working on the puzzle and he was just plain old feeling bad.

As I held his sweaty little body, his sobs gradually fading to hiccupy breaths, I was overwhelmed with love for this boy of mine. Instead of wanting to tell him that's why he needs to listen when I tell him to stop running in the house, I sensed a bigger picture opportunity here. I felt like this was the perfect picture of grace, a really abstract concept for some of us. First and foremost, I wanted him to get how much I love him. Then, we talked about how much God loves us. At this point, Justin still didn't want to look at me, which became a good opportunity to talk about guilt and shame. I told him there is nothing we can do that will take God's love away from us, from the littlest naughty to the worst thing we could ever do. And, like God doesn't remind us of our sins and throw them back in our faces the next time we screw up, I promised Justin that I wasn't going to mention the spilled puzzle box again.

I'm not sure how much of that he understood, but I do know that Daddy and Connor were listening closely. When we were done visiting, I took Justin back to the table, back to the scene of the crime, so he could help me work on the puzzle for awhile. Like Jesus restored Peter, I felt it was important to let Justin back in.  And maybe, I was able to plant a seed of a picture of grace that he will remember someday. It will be interesting to finish the puzzle and find out if I am missing a piece.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Favorite Teacher Ever!

In my years of "formal education" I was content to be a B/C student, with the occasional A that came in subjects I was just good at.  I never really tried, being content with whatever came along. Every great once in a while, if there was a teacher I really liked, I tried to get a good grade. It didn't always work.

I am currently doing an online Bible study through Rachel Olsen's book It's No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know and one of the study questions is begging me to look a little deeper at my "take it as it comes" attitude. The background comes from the anointing at Bethany, the woman who finds Jesus at a dinner party and lavishes him with a costly ointment, pouring it over His head. This was not a bottle of Sweet Honesty that she found in the back of her grandma's closet; this was a balm that would have cost her several years wages to purchase. We don't know how long she was saving to be able to purchase this, or what motivated her to save in the first place. Perhaps God put it on her heart that she would need to have this someday, and it was enough of a reason for her. We can assume that the price was not an amount of money that she shook out of her bedroll. She loved her Teacher and was motivated, driven, to serve Him in a wholly self-sacrificing way, to give Him her very best. The act itself would have probably been enough to carry her for the rest of her life, but Jesus gave her a little icing on the cake: "Truly, I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her." Matthew 26:13

So...what's a happily "average" girl supposed to do with a challenge like this?

Call it a pre-mid-life crisis or something, but my "be happy with a B I didn't try for" ways are changing. Partly because I really like my Teacher, and partly because for the first time in my life I am realizing I am capable of more. Jesus doesn't need more to love me better, I know that. I think it is important to remind us all of that. He loves us where we are. But, and here's the rub, will we be satisfied squeaking by in service that just comes naturally, or is convenient? Are we willing to be inconvenienced, for lack of a better word,  for Christ?  Will we be driven to serve Him in a sold-out way, through personal sacrifice and hard work? In the words of Andy Stanley, How good is good enough?

As someone who tends to be a little full of herself, my first step is to keep my motives pure. I don't want to get good at something to be better than someone else. I want to get better at something to give Jesus my best, a work that will stand the test of fire. If I want to be His witness and live out loud for Him, He should be worth my every effort. In a practical sense, it means applying what I am learning about writing. It looks like crafting a talk for Mom Time that is tight...cohesive with an applicable point. As part of a team, it means learning to be quiet when necessary, deferring to others and learning humility. It means encouraging others to head in the same direction I am, even though the world would define them as competition.

When Mary anointed Jesus with the expensive perfume, she didn't do it to gain recognition for herself. I need to follow that same example. Whatever I do, whether it be writing or speaking, caring for my family, giving away an umbrella on a rainy day, letting someone behind me get the better parking spot, should be a pure act of service to my King. When I start looking for a reward or a pat on the head from someone, I need to step back. The satisfaction I seek needs to be from the Lord, alone. If I have made a difference in someone's day because of something I have done for Jesus, that is my icing on the cake.

Can I encourage you today to do your best, despite the cost, just for the knowledge of Who you are doing it for? Just because you really love your Teacher?

If you want to know more about the Bible study, it is being done through Melissa Taylor's blog. Both Melissa and Rachel Olsen are with Proverbs 31. We just finished the first week, so it is not too late to jump in and discover some Divine Secrets!