Tag Archives: Word

One Word: 2014

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one word 2014

What can you do?

When a shiny new year is about to begin and your ambitions for a fresh start with a fresh word and a pretty new journal – when all that is put on a dusty shelf because you’re greeted instead with a high fever on New Year’s Eve and fitful dreams and the flu rages through all but two of your children and drags it out for two weeks.

What can you do?

When 16 days into your ‘new you’ the alarm goes off and your eyes are burning and you’re buried under a sweaty toddler and you hold your breath to keep from waking her but you get up anyway because you made up your mind that this year you will pray.

What can you do?

When after only two days of the new school semester you’ve lost peace along with your temper with kids who’ve seemingly lost their ever-lovin’ minds more times than you can count?

What can you possibly do?

When you start the day with a vow that you will spend it on your knees but you cannot imagine that you will be literally sent to your knees within the hour?

When one short message at 8:30 in the morning can alter your world, send you reeling.

“please pray… Jonas passed away this morning.”

One hand gripped my phone, the other held tight to the back of the chair as the knees found the laminate.  Shock.  Fog. Not even the sting of tears.  Not yet.  Because first you watch it from afar, like it’s not really happening.  You try to rationalize how the news was misconstrued.  How it didn’t really happen. How he’s not really gone.

Because you just saw him.  He was just there, standing on the stage at church, singing with the children in the Christmas program.  Laughing afterwards with friends. Not ever thinking that in less than a month they’d be mourning for him.

But life is a vapor.  And in an instant, a sixteen year old with a contagious grin and a voracious passion for music and an unending ability to memorize large portions of scripture – is gone.

Jonas

What do you do?  When you’ve lost the shiny new start and your peace and temper, and maybe your resolve, and someone who was precious… What anyone who’s lost something does.

You seek.  Seek the Savior. Seek His presence and peace… seek the arms of the Good Shepherd to carry you over the rocky terrain.

You seek Him not for what He can do for you – not for your best life now.  But just to have Him near.  To hear His voice.  To have Him lead you to the High Places.

In this blessed, broken, messy, beautiful, completely messed up, insane, unfair, glorious, precious life – you seek with all you’ve got for what the will of your King is – and you follow Him in it.

“Only one life will soon be past,
only what’s done for Christ will last.”
– Hudson Taylor

Sometimes You Have to Crawl

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The Real Test

Announcement:   I cleaned the bathroom!

I know. You’re thinking, And??

You haven’t written a blog post in weeks… and you cleaned the bathroom?  That’s it?

Listen.  I don’t think you understand.  I cleaned the bathroom.  Here’s what that looks like in my world:  Sometime around 7:45 yesterday morning, I’m sitting on the couch, feeding a baby, trying in vain to also drink my coffee and read the John Piper devo app on my phone.

Side Note: you need to get the John Piper devo app on your phone!

Anyway, I say “trying in vain” ‘cause let’s face it.  After all the kids are up, coffee and devo is spotty, at best.  

And, of course, since I’m feeding the baby, Carson has to go potty.  Now.  Like, right now.  So I send him off and task the older boy with helping him.

And alas, minutes later, there’s pee on the floor.

::I’m sorry, I know, I said ‘pee.’  This is just going to be one of those posts today, okay?  Nothing poetic here.  If it had been a girl, it would have been ‘tee-tee’, but it was a boy, so there was ‘pee’ on the floor.::

Anyway.  So Christopher (thank God for older boys, am I right?) cleans the pee off the floor, but I decide right then and there to clean the bathroom.

Well, after I finish feeding the baby and getting breakfast into my tribe and drinking only half my cup of coffee and forgetting where I put down the mug… then I get right to cleaning the bathroom.

Two hours and seventy-five interruptions later, I stand back and admire the fruit of my labor.  It’s quite possibly the cleanest and most peaceful room in the house.  I think briefly about shutting myself in there the rest of the day. True story.

But wouldn’t you know, a little while later, one of the kids waits to the very last mili-second to go to the bathroom, so I ended up cleaning the toilet and a section of the floor again.  (This time it was tee-tee. Ahem.)

I stand back and admire my work.  Again.

About half an hour later, I’m helping Carson in the bathroom and this time he makes it like a champ.  No accident.  But – much to my dismay – I notice a smell lingering with the lovely aroma of scrubbing bubbles… It takes me a minute of sniffing around to find a spot I’d missed earlier (what with the seventy-five interruptions, eh?).

So I quickly decide I’m going to spray down the entire area again (you know, with the seat up and all) and make double-sure it’s all extra clean.

After I spray it all down, I call for the older boy to bring me some paper towels, but he doesn’t hear me.  So I retrieve them from the kitchen and when I get back to the bathroom, I find that one of my children is a ninja.

She has somehow made it past me and into the bathroom and because she – like her sister before her- has waited until the very last mili-second, she doesn’t even bother with putting the toilet seat down, and just sat on the rim – sat on the rim, on the cleaning spray for crying out loud – and this does not end up working like she’d thought…

So after cleaning up ‘tee-tee’ again

I stand back and admire my work.

Again.

I have four bank boxes stacked up beside our desk, waiting to be moved to storage, and two boxes of files waiting to be put back in their places… a new stack of school paces waiting to be placed in kids’ folders… and a beach bag full of miscellaneous receipts and photos and study notes, waiting to be filed…

::because – you know – your junk looks less like junk when it’s collected in a bright, pretty beach bag, am I right?::

…not to mention the pile of laundry on the couch, the three baskets waiting to hit the washer, the kids’ closets needing cleaning out, or the floors that haven’t been mopped since before Christmas.

But by golly, the bathroom is clean!

That one accomplishment seemed to take me half the day and was wrought with frustrations.

And the bathroom isn’t the only area of my life that feels like that.

I have a John Piper app on my phone for a reason.  Because some days it’s the only way I’ll get a little Scripture rattling around in my head… and hope it will get planted in my heart…

I can hold that app open on my phone and read a line or two while I’m nursing the baby… and read and think about the next line or two while my phone is sitting there on the kitchen counter and I’m coring apples to go with lunch…

There’s this picture in our bathroom.  A framed 4×6 snapshot sitting on the window sill – of Jeff and me in a different era of our life… we were with half our team, camping out for the weekend on a mountain side in the himalayas.  He’s got me thrown over his shoulder and we’re both wearing our hiking fleeces and our headlamps.  And it was nightfall when our friend Chad snapped us with his camera – caught this moment frozen.  It’s too dark in the picture to see the landscape or the tents behind us.

You mostly see our faces, smiling.  Me thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and him grinning back at the camera.  We’re so young and fresh and energetic.  Full of dreams and plans and ideas for the future.  The world our oyster.  Sure, there would be babies one day.  But they would be bi-lingual and immersed in the culture – and by golly they would be practically leading the masses of local children to the Lord by the dozens.  Our heads were filled with visions of mission work and published works.  And just, lots of works.

Now a decade later, “attempt great things for God” has become trying to get through the day without losing my patience with the kids, and also manage to knock out 3 meals and keep one side of my sink free of dirty dishes.

Sorry, Flylady, check back with me in oh, twelve years?  Maybe then I can work on making my sink shine.

If I can also manage to read a story to my kids and everyone has clean underwear – bonus!

Some days I think “Jesus, in my weakness you’re strong?  Well all I’ve got is weakness… so then I guess all I’ve got is Your strength, right Jesus?  So… how come every day is still a struggle?  Faith of a mustard seed can move mountains… so how come these mountains of laundry can lay my spirit so low?

And some days to think I was going to spin my story telling other souls how to walk with Jesus – it seems preposterous!  I’m the one who’s gone back to crawling.  

At the end of the day, the bathroom is dirty again, and the sink is full and the real test is this – did I love You, Jesus with all my heart?  Did I love others as myself?

Every day that’s what it will come to – this is the season we’re in.  God has somehow, in His way, brought us back to the basics, the foundation.

No matter what condition the house is in… no matter what discipline issues we’re dealing with, or how much ‘orphanage dust’ is flying around here… no matter what learning difficulties one of the kids is going through or how tired we are after 60-hour weeks… no matter how much the baby doesn’t sleep, or how many kids end up piled in our bed by morning.  At the end of every day, it comes back to those two questions:

Did I love Jesus today?  With all my heart?

Did I love my neighbor (the one who’s always blaring the loud music) – did I love the lady at Walmart, my children, my husband – as much as I love… me?

The little embers of those young dreams and visions are still lit somewhere inside me… I hope to walk that proverbial mountainside trail again – to “attempt great things for God.”

But to do that before ace-ing this test I get at the end of each long day – that would be premature.

Because most of the time – before you can walk – you gotta crawl.

A Word for 2013

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It was the year of Joy.  Twenty-eleven.  Only, it came in the most unexpected adventure.  January of that year had no hint of the journey we’d take in July to bring home two children from Ukraine.  When that year began, adoption was not on our horizon.

 But God.  He expands our horizons.

And Joy came that year in the tiny, untamed package of a little girl which was given and then grew into the name.

And if our horizons were expanded in twenty-eleven, it was my heart I expected the Lord to Enlarge in twenty-twelve.

That was the word He gave me, without a doubt.  I had expectations for Him to Enlarge my heart and open my eyes to see more of Him, more of His greatness.

But again, my winding path this past year was over unexpected terrain.

It was more like the year of the Broken.  And not just in dishwashers sitting still and empty for months before repair, or ceiling fans hanging silent.  Not just in the broken plans of the Hard-working Husband finally getting the job we’d hoped for, only to lose it a few months later.  Not just in the broken hopes of finding the home we really wanted and be unable to purchase…

No.  It seemed that in order for my heart to be enlarged, and my eyes to be opened to His greatness – what I first needed to see clearly was the brokenness of …me.

As each month passed my brokenness – our family’s brokenness – took shape more clearly before my eyes.  Failures.  Selfishness.  Sinfulness. Pride.

For only when I see clearly my own state – only then can my heart and my eyes be enlarged to take in the depth and greatness of His Mercy and Grace.

And at the very end of twenty-twelve, that’s when I saw her picture.

My friend – my dear sister – from ages past.  The one the Lord was gracious to wind my path with briefly in college before she married a ‘Jim Elliot’ and I sang in her wedding and her beautiful feet went to far-away soil.

What I love about her is that heart always laid open bare.  Her struggles un-hidden.  Her seasons of heart-wrenching grief raw and  accessible.  But through it all, laid low, she is hidden in Jesus.  This has always been her way.  His way in her.

It was the end of my year of broken.  On her 40th birthday, I saw her photo posted.  She is simple and small of stature, and has always been beautiful.  But this was more.  She was – radiant.

Like Jesus Himself was shining around those light-colored eyes.

And in that moment I knew.  I hoped.

Could I, in my brokenness, be hidden in Him, and thus be so radiant with His light?

That I could decrease enough that His light would increase in me.

In my storm, hidden in the cleft of the rock, covered by Him… radiant.

 Twenty-Thirteen… The Year of becoming Radiant.