I don’t understand all the implications of what God did. But I am experiencing what Abraham must have (on a much smaller scale!) when God said “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:2
Archive for January, 2010
I snapped this picture of Hudson sitting on the counter while I prepared snacks yesterday. At age 3 1/2 we are starting to see an inner warrior come forth in him. The other night he started praying about danger. He prayed about the ‘robbers’ who broke into people’s cars in our neighborhood Christmas night. He prayed for the police to get them, for Daddy to get them and hit them, for them to bring back Mommy’s cds. Then he prayed that God would get anyone who snuck into our house. Over and over he used the word “danger” praying with more fervor each time he said it. When he finally said ‘amen’ Darla burst into tears. “Hudson’s prayers scare me!” She declared. “Why does he only pray about danger?”
“In silence and peace a devout soul makes progress and learns the secrets of the Scriptures.” -Thomas A Kempis
Props to my daughter for knowing how to throw a party. A house full of cousins, some friends & family, and one heck of a Tinkerbell pinata. (I highly recommend pinata’s with small children- quality entertainment.)
I am increasingly careful of what I let Darla overhear because regardless of the topic, she will surprise me with her comprehension, challenge me with her questions, and soften me with her sensitivity. Last week she was in another room entirely when she heard us talking about the high percentage of foster children that have been exposed to drugs.
A moment later she was standing beside me asking, “Mom, what is a drug baby?”
I replied, “It’s when a mom doesn’t do a good job taking care of her baby growing in her tummy. She puts bad things into her body instead of staying healthy. Then when the baby is born the baby often is sick and has things wrong with their body and mind because of their mom’s bad choice.”
She was quiet a few minutes. I assumed she had moved on. (Never assume this with Darla.) She re-entered with intention and severity. She looked at S. and said, “Dad, for your job you need to get in the car and drive around the world. You need to tell all the moms to not do that to their babies! Dad, you need to teach them how to take care of their babies and tell them to make good choices! They can’t put bad things in their bodies!”
I told her maybe God is showing her things that she has a passion for. She has now decided that along with being a barista, a waitress, and a teacher she is going to drive around the world teaching moms to take care of their unborn children. I don’t doubt it. In fact, when I pointed out that this is kind of what her Aunt Megan does (Meg is house mom to unwed, pregnant women) Darla became excited and told Megan, “When I grow up I’ll do your job with you! I’ll drive over and pick you up, Aunt Megan.”
As Darla turns 5 I am humbled by the delight she has been to S. and me. (Okay, aside from the 2 month period as an infant where she would scream bloody murder from 6-8pm every night.) Some moments I look at her and think she’s all me; dancing dramatically in front of her reflection, studying books intently, commanding her brothers with “their best” in mind. Other moments I look at her and think she’s all S.; memorizing names and striking conversation up with strangers, unable to sleep because she’s re-hashing her day, passionate about a good meal.
At 5 Darla is reading. Simple sentences, but reading nonetheless. Her Christmas present was a big whiteboard for by her bed. She spends hours drawing pictures and writing the words she knows with colored dry erase markers. I’ve been integrating her drawing with reading by writing “books” with a few pieces of paper. Each page has a simple sentence for her to read & then illustrate. Our favorite is “The Cat and the Rat” in which the cat eats the rat. Darla drew a picture of a wide-mouth cat with a rat perched inside. She can’t get through the last page, which says “Yum yum” without collapsing in giggles.
We’ve worked hard with Darla on how to know when enough is enough. She is social and intense by nature but also easily over-stimulated. It’s a brutal combination so we’ve taught her that quiet time is necessary and refreshing, and how to say “no thank you” when someone is coming on too strong and she’s about to freak out. Today will be a test in over-stimulation because her birthday falls on her favorite day- Thursday. We get to go to Bible Study and then Jazz & her kids are coming to our house. We don’t have enough space so Darla & Pearl won’t have naps. They have quiet time together, which Pearl handles fine while poor Darla gets goofier as the minutes tick by. The rest of her cousins, aunts, uncles, and my folks will join us for a cousin party in the evening.
Darla has thought through and planned her party with detail. She reminded me we need paper plates and requested hot dogs for dinner (yes, we are grilling in January). The queen of cupcakes also invented a new idea for this year; she’s requested a pinata. She has never tried one so her greatest expectation of the day is what it will be like to hit something with all her might to have it rain candy on her head. What she doesn’t know is that I discovered a Tinkerbell pinata last week. Tinkerbell has become a huge deal here and I can hardly wait to surprise her with it.
My prayer for my little girl this year is that her creativity would continue to flourish; that she will not fear taking risks and pursuing passions, however big they may be. I ask that her heart would be tender toward the Lord. I know from experience that when you believe you have all the answers, you are used to being the “boss”, and running the show, it’s challenging to be humble and receptive.
Yesterday Darla was holding her favorite silky pink blanket. Her eyes widened and she asked in a panic, “Mom!? Do 5 year-olds still have special blankets?” I assured her that she could keep her blanket.
I asked her today what is exciting about being 5. She answered, “I won’t have sippy cups anymore- just glass cups. I’m excited to be 5 with Pearl for a lot of days. And I can’t wait to go to school and teach all the kids the ABC’s and 123′s. ‘Cuz I already know all that… what they learn in kindergarten.” (Oops. Sidenote: never tell your child that they know more than the kids around them)
Attending a church with the slogan “always a place for you” gives me warm fuzzies. Ahhh, I’m welcome, loved, and they have to accept me- their slogan says it!
Christ the King has a heart for lost and broken people, a model comprising of small groups, a vision to keep the main thing the main thing. In being part of the CTK story I have learned that a church that draws transparent people is always adventure. It isn’t always warm fuzzies…but it is always adventure. We regularly hear crazy stories of where people have been, how Christ has redeemed their life, and look forward to future with them.
In over eight years of full time ministry you start to think “we’ve seen it all”. There were 3 weeks this fall when this was proven wrong.
It started with the guy who is heading up our college/career group. He informed S. of an “incident” at college/career night. Apparently a homeless man wandered in for warmth. This is common because we are close to a main highway and are known for serving free breakfast on Sunday morning. I’ve started searching the faces of men holding cardboard signs on the corner because often they are from our congregation.
This particular homeless man was told he could warm up in the back of the worship center while college students met in the same room. Our director of College/Career noticed the man was missing after some time. He went on a search to find the man had started a pot of coffee and scrounged up a sandwich in the church kitchen. He let him keep the sandwich but informed him the kitchen was closed and escorted him back to the
Turns out the only absorbing the man had done were lines of cocaine on the back table while no one was paying attention. Needless to say, this man was escorted out. There is always a place for you…but we don’t make room for your cocaine on our small group table.
The next week the church got interesting news. Turns out a memorial service that had been done at the church wasn’t needed after all…because the deceased is actually still alive. A resurrection experience? Not so much. A man in the church had shared with the staff that his mother had passed away. In his supposed grief he asked if the church would put on a service to honor her. Many supportive members of the congregation came to support this man and help him through this time. We then found out through the man’s brother “Mom’s not dead! She’s cooking Thanksgiving dinner this week!”
Eek! Think he wanted attention? Maybe had a history of lying? We can work through that. There’s always a place for you.
The following Sunday a woman on staff noticed a man coming up the steps of the church with a pet on a leash. Now, we aren’t picky about who makes it through the doors as I’ve already stated. However, a SEWER RAT on a leash?! The woman put her foot down at this point and told the gentleman that no, he couldn’t take his rat to church.
A few minutes later he re-appeared rat free…or so it seemed. When something began moving underneath his coat he was escorted out one more time. There is always a place for you but there just really isn’t room for your sewer rat. Harsh- I know.
A few weeks ago I learned why the disciples were appalled that Jesus would talk to a Samaritan woman (John 4). Samaritans were people who resulted from Israelites having children with foreigners. They were a “polluted” race. They didn’t fear the Lord and their lives proved it. They bowed to whatever god was popular. They sacrificed their own children and completely lacked morality. The Jews wrote them off and would even make their trip twice as long just to avoid putting a foot on
Jesus says he knows the heart…and proves it by spending time with a woman he knows needs true transformation. She’s a mess: she’s shacked up with lots of guys and she has the reputation of her ethnicity all over her face.
But she believes! She knows she needs something real, something that isn’t just for religious people. She needs real power of redemption, not a rousing theological debate. She receives Christ. She believes Him and then tells everyone the good news. It’s contagious! So a revival begins in
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of hearing my youngest brother
This past week S. & I jumped on the crazy-train-needing-transformation. After battling anxiety for the past couple years, S. has made some serious headway in the past 6 months. He’s been intentional about not letting ministry consume him. He’s been conscientious about his health and tuned in to our family. For whatever reason it managed to sneak up on us again anyway; fear, being increasingly overwhelmed, bombarded by needs…Crash. S. has been down for a week now with anxiety attacks. We’re a mess.
Our senior pastor (also known as my dad) came over last night and informed S. that it has all been arranged- S. is to take a 6 week sabbatical starting today. There isn’t anything to protest about because the staff met and delegated out S.’s responsibilities. My dad talked this past week in his sermon about relationship v. religion. He spoke of Christ the King’s goals to invest in people and spur them on in their journey with Christ. He quoted a study that found many people leave the American church today because they feel they have to, to keep their faith intact. He emphatically told the congregation that we won’t be that church. Our goal is to value “organism over organization” and focus on “people not program”.
Now Dad has a chance to walk the walk. S. has to be cared for and work through stuff that we’ve managed to put off for years because of the pace of our lives. Christ the King will make sacrifices to ensure that we are healthy & where we need to be. So we embark on the next 6 weeks intentionally; to be on our knees, to get wise counsel, to do some healing, to dig out the roots of some of our crazy messiness (naturally this will involve reading a few good books & smoking a few decent cigars).
These stories of transformation are everywhere. It is what Jesus Christ is about. I am surrounded by these beautiful pictures of Christ’s love in people who at one point might have seemed “too far gone”- be it alcohol, moral failure, running lines in the back of a church, lying, emotional breakdowns, or just sewer rat weirdness. I am so thankful that I get to be part of this. I’m so thankful that there is always a place for me.
1 Corinthians 1:26-28, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things…So that no one may boast before Him.”
My New Year’s Day has been a horrible representation of fresh and new beginnings. It’s one of these days that feels like everything that was ‘done’ in the past year has been undone. This week S. has been knocked flat on his butt with anxiety & feeling lousy like he hasn’t been in a long time. It always puts our family into a spin. It’s more reminiscent of 2 years ago when he had a bad anxiety attack than what our lives have been like in the past 6 months. It’s an “Argh, I thought we were done with this!” day. Our house hasn’t sold & our dear friends/renters were blessed to finish building so moved out right before Christmas. As I paid our full mortgage I winced… all the money saved in the past year has officially been ‘undone’. We’re back to where we started this summer with a vacant house & a chapter in life that won’t seem to close. Both cars have had issues this week and we hold our breath each time we turn the key. I’ve retreated… chosen not to answer the phone, focused on one little step- one load of laundry- one sippy cup of milk- at a time (and 2 cups of coffee at a time for myself).
As I had a quick prayer time between breaking up fights over new toys and reminding Darla one more time that she is not the mother, I vented my frustration in my head (which was not succinct- more like primal growling). Almost immediately I was reminded, “This is not hopeless. I am not without hope.”
As we experienced a failed nap time I was able to see that steps back don’t mean that we aren’t getting anywhere. Just because today’s outward circumstances look a lot like they did 6 months ago, a year ago, 2 1/2 years ago, doesn’t mean that we haven’t grown and changed. I still don’t understand the battle of anxiety but I am understanding S. more. I’m flawed & admit that I lack compassion & consistency when he’s low. But both of us are learning to give grace, to lay down our lives for each other & our little family.
I am reminded that the last six months have been an incredible blessing. A small setback is nothing compared to how much healthier we are as a family. We guard our family time. S. is working out, has found a love for racquetball, spinning, is reading and asking hard questions…all things that were impossible to do in the past few years.
God has shown me that He is sovereign in spite of my circumstances. He reminds me that even if every day is like this blustery set back of a New Years, He is still worth serving and He still believes I’m worth making holy. If it takes setbacks to remember to run to Him quicker, depend on Him deeper; I won’t complain seeing as that is my highest aim.
Our kids are a sweet example of what I learn today. Yes, Darla still acts like Jr. Mom as she did a year ago and I am nearly cross eyed trying to make her understand that it’s not okay to boss the world around. But today she helped Everett with all his cars and trucks. She was patient while playing Memory with Hudson. She’s reading! She might still have the same struggles but she is not without growth. Her love for the Lord is sincere and she prays “Lord, help me not have any more problems! I want to obey you forever!” I echo her sentiments.
Hudson still doesn’t pronounce certain consonants. I am trying not to raise my voice when it takes 5 minutes for him to put on his shoes…and they still are on the wrong feet. Yet he told me an extensive dream he had and I understood it- even with missing consonants! He learned the “G chord” on the guitar this morning. He is physically as large as a 5 year old; a reminder that growth is occurring.
Everett hasn’t stopped throwing tantrums in the shopping cart. He hasn’t found words to replace screams but he now says “sorry” and “thank you” on his own. He’s quick to kiss a sibling that he’s wronged and in a year has gone from 2 unsteady steps to an all-out run.
So no, we haven’t started 2010 with a party. We’ve started it just as messy as 2009. But thankfully my Hope isn’t an abstract idea that the world has that “maybe by dumb luck 2010 will be better than 2009.” My Hope is the person of Jesus Christ and “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” Romans 5:5
Now I’m going to cling to the Hope that does not disappoint, call today a bit of a wash, and order some cheap tacos for take out dinner. Happy New Year.