Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I've heard debates about God's measuring stick on sin not having marks.  You know, where God doesn't see your sin of a simple white lie any different than a murderer.  Because in the end He died for ALL of our sins; the big ones, the life-changing ones, the small ones.  And I can agree with that and hold it in my heart and praise Him for it every time I consider my sins.

So if He can measure sin equally, does He measure blessings and prayer requests with the same equality?  Here's my struggle, each one of us has something in our hearts that we pray for, maybe even plead with God over.  It may be something like a sick pet to be healed or for a student to pass a test.  All good and valuable things.  But what about the prayers of heartfelt desires versus ones of life-saving measures?  Does He sit with a check-off list saying "she's asked for that for many years, it's about time she gets it" or "he's been battling that disease long enough, let's cure him?"  I feel guilty when I say my prayer for smooth house selling/buying when people I know are battling the "C."  Isn't their life so much more valuable than where I live?  This guilt has often stopped me from praying bold prayers even though I KNOW His word is true. 

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

I'm not sure if you've ever had guilt overtake you in such a way, but I know that God doesn't want us to live a life filled with guilt.  His sacrifice and promise of forgiveness frees us from that guilt.  FREES us.  Tonight I'm going to bask in the freedom that allows me to give it all to God-house stress, financial concerns, overweight stress, anxiety, world news freaking me out.  I'm going to give it all to Him in full trust that He delights in fulfilling my desires.  Even if they appear simple to many (Lord, please don't let me walk in to a dog mess) or the big bold ones (Lord, please reign blessings of provisions down on us).  Whatever my prayer tonight I will pray it without guilt knowing that He's handling those big ones of my friends, too.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

After hearing my sweet boys claim starvation as they prepare their lunches this week I thought it was time to swing by the store and get them some food.  Of course, I decided to do this at 7:30 in the morning.  So we ran to our neighborhood Food Lion which won't be our neighborhood Food Lion for long (ahhhhhh).  Brady made sure to comment about that as we walked in the door heading straight for the apples. 

Yesterday on Facebook I made a comment about apples-

Feeling a little bitter towards Adam and Eve right now 
with all this laundry I need to take care of! 
An apple is not worth it lady, 
you should have held out for dark chocolate.

While I fully believe what I said, our family loves apples and could go through an orchard faster than termites.  Sometimes I'm buying apples twice a week.  Oddly enough, our apples were on sale for $1.49 a pound.  I grabbed two bags thinking it would be cheaper that way.  Hahaha, I'll get back to that later.*

As we were heading over towards the lunch necessity of string cheese, the produce manager makes eye contact with me as I look towards the baby carrots (another thing we plow right through).  He starts walking over to me with a dozen beautiful red roses in a vase.  I immediately start thinking, "Dude, I cannot afford roses right now" and "I don't have a hand for holding those" and "Why are you headed over here with those?"

He gets closer and says, "These are for you."  He then suggests one of the boys carry them because I've got an orchard in my arms (what cart, this is my muscle work out?).  I kindly (still mute) look at him and suggest the boys carry the orchard and I carry the stunning roses in a GLASS vase.  We do a fancy switcheroo, I smile and say thank you so very much and we start to walk away.  He reminds me to tell the cashier they are free.  But why does my mind think I'm going to get to checkout and still be expected to pay, even after they were promised as free?

We proceed to string cheese and gogurt leaving a Hansel and Gretel trail of apples (really, it was worse than having popcorn at Target) and head to check out.  We are waiting in line and I hear the cashier tell the customer in front of me that he's doing well, better than he deserves because of the grace of God.  Y'all, I'm floored, this kid at checkout (I do think he was maybe 12) was getting his preaching on this morning.  I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say to me and my free roses.  He starts by taking ALL of the apples out of the bag because he doesn't want me to have to pay for weight of the bag.  I'm already loving this kid.  Then he asks how I'm doing and I say I'm doing great.  He says, "Aren't we all, it's all because of God's grace and mercy."  I agree with him and let him know that I don't deserve all that God's given me.  We share that "I'm-a-Christ-follower-smile" that I expect will be seen upon entrance into Heaven.  

He gets to the roses and I still feel anxious.  I feel I don't deserve them.  They are worth too much.  Someone else should get them.  Why would he choose me of all people to give them to?  I let this sweet kid know that the produce manager gave them to me.  He says, "Isn't that nice, he did that last week."  I'm thinking, wow, this guy gives flowers away like God gives us grace and love and mercy and hope and peace and and and the ands never stop when we think of all He gives us.  I'm floored.  I am also ashamed.  I didn't show my gratitude to the produce man.  I was still in shock, it was EARLY and I don't do early.  I was thinking of the why me and how would I carry them and everything else.  I was thinking and worrying about stuff that doesn't matter.  When I should have been hugging that man with gratitude.  Kinda like worrying about everything in this world instead of praising God for ALL He provides for me.  Worrying about selling and buying a house, changing schools, starting a new ministry, maintaining my current job...all these worries that have consumed my joy. All these worries that have taken the place of my praising God for all these things I even have to worry about.  

Needless to say, my morning has been rocked.  My to-do list is glaring at me.  But I'm going to slow down, I'm going to take advantage of this gift from God as a gentle, beautiful reminder of gratitude. 

*Back to the apples, my total cost of the apples was $6.66.  satan may be laughing at that one, but God gains all the glory.  Take that, evil one!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Jim gave me my cherished diamond engagement ring on July 28, 2001.  It was a warm Saturday afternoon when he opened a box and asked me to be his forever.  I quickly said yes, slapped that sucker on my ring finger and pulled out years of wedding plans that would challenge Pinterest any day.  Later that night I got to drive my parents and Jim an hour out of town for dinner.  I don't know how I didn't wreck that car, I spent the majority of the drive staring at the sparkling diamond and all the little spots it was creating throughout the car. 

In those 13 years I have spent many moments watching the sparkles.  I have worked at making sure my ring is clean so it sparkles the best.  I have been sad when plump-baby-inside fingers wouldn't allow me to wear them.  I have looked at my rings as a symbol of our love and marriage.  When Jim and I exchanged those rings that November we were promising to remain true to God and to each other.  We chose rings as an unending circle, a symbol of eternity.  We wear them as outward expressions of our eternal devotion, much like a believer goes under the water to show their eternal relationship with Christ.

So what does it mean when I look down at my ring in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?  Does it mean that we've broken our promises to each other?  Does it mean there's a rough patch ahead?  Does it mean that even though from a distance my ring looks intact it's really not, much like marriages often do?  I could look deeper into all of those questions and until my ring is repaired I may.  But here's what I do know and what I'm holding onto.  God gave me Jim.  He seriously threw him in my life at a time when I wasn't looking and gently whispered, "I know he's a yankee, but you've got a gem in this guy; a keeper, a man true to Me and to his word, a man you can trust through everything, a man who will love you like no other." For once I quickly listened to God and snatched that man up before someone else could.  He's been all that God promised to me and more.  

I may have a broken ring but I do not have broken promises, Jim and I are committed to at least another 87 years.  I may have a broken ring and there may be a rough patch ahead but I know Jim is going to travel through that patch WITH me and we will get to the other side so much better than we were.  I may have a broken ring, but I hope and pray what others see in us is true and real. I pray that our marriage shows the good and the ugly but always shows God working through it all. 

My ring may be broken and I may be wearing a fun giant sapphire my sweet hubs gave me for Christmas two years ago. And I may miss my diamond so very much, but just as a believer still has Christ years after they've stepped out of the water I still have Jim, our marriage, our family and a God who loves us beyond measure. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

When life takes over you sometimes forget or run out of time for the things that bring you peace.  For me, that's writing or tossing some words out that are cluttering my brain.  Sometimes it's painting but I'm such a perfectionist that I end up disliking what I do.  I have lots of black canvases, not blank, black from where I've painted over the mess to create a somewhat blank slate.  

So here I am in the midst of one of the most stressful and exciting times of our lives; as a family, as a couple, as individuals.  As a family we have sold our house and are in what feels like the never-ending story of packing, cleaning, tossing, and remembering.  Just when I think I'm ready to tackle a day of packing (like I thought I would today) I come face to face with memories.  Those memories make me question if we really need to move, how important is a yard, a garage, being closer to work, having more room for friends over?  Today's memories are lurking in my kitchen cabinets.  Along with 82 different kinds of drinking vessels.  I tell you, we have a cup problem of insane proportions. Sadly as I'm sorting through trash, recycle, yard sale and keep the keep pile is still the largest.  

Some of these cups, like the last remaining sippy cup reminds me of a different time in our lives that in number sense isn't that far away but in child growth sense it might as well be another millennium.  At one time not too long ago you wouldn't find our family without a cup or two in our hands and several in the dishwasher and a few more in the cabinet.  I should have bought stock in those playtex cups.  They could be tossed from the heights of the highest high chair and still not leave a stream of liquid behind.  They were often tossed from the driver seat to the backseat.  They took many trips in a diaper bag along with an endless supply of goldfish, the unoffical food of toddlers everywhere.  I don't know why I've kept this one cup with the kiddie graphics washed off and teethmarks on the spout.  

Maybe thinking the neighbor's kid would need it when he visited.  Maybe knowing this mama's heart would never be ready to completely say goodbye to those years.  Maybe keeping it allowed me to hold on to those memories.  But as we are about to embark on a new adventure in a new house, a new town, a new school I need to let some things be just memories by letting them go.  This cup will be one of them.  Don't ask about the box labeled "emotional clothes" hanging out in Brady's closet.  That one will remain with us.