Thursday, April 30, 2015

golf balls, gross basements and a great love

i was already kind of mad at him.

it was late afternoon on a sunday and i was headed to the nail salon. i had my book and my latte and my pathetic, garden-battered nails, and gosh darn it, i was ready to go get pretty -- or at least mani/pedi pretty.

with a girls' trip to the beach looming later that week, it was time to get the nails looking a little nicer.

it was my time.

but then his text came ----

my oldest son wrote, "mom, i forgot to tell you, (that phrase which never bodes well) but my whole discipleship group is meeting at our house in a little bit. don't worry, though, it's not a big deal."

not a big deal except that he failed to mention it and the house was gross and the basement where they'd be hanging out, even grosser. like i'm pretty sure my son hadn't cleaned the (HIS) bathroom down there in probably well over a month. and i was sure there were dirty dishes and dirty socks and no-telling-who-knows-what-kind-of-other-dirty breeding in that space where his discipleship group was coming over to be all spiritual and everything in.

and, because i'm a mother or a woman or a just your average person with a smidge of pride left,  that somehow didn't sit right with me.

even when the 17 year old assured me none of that mattered.

it did.
it does.

i'm sorry 17 year old son, i value most every little thing about you --- EXCEPT your opinion on what qualifies as clean.  (i've seen your room, dear one).

so there i was with my nasty, garden-damaged nails ... and though i should have texted him back something like, "what-the-heck-tyler" or "you're-on-your-own-buddy-boy-i'm-heading-to-the-salon!"

i didn't.

i went home to clean a toilet, collect the dirty dishes and create what i deemed a slightly more reverent space for these boys coming together to talk about Jesus.

now before you get all judgey with me, you need to at least consider the following:

#1.  this was the first time tyler's discipleship leader would visit our home. and, ya'll, he's not a high school boy,  he is married. and we all know that means he is at least somewhat past the point of thinking that blackish-green stuff growing in a toilet is kind of cool.

# 2.  i like to make at least a good first impression. after that i'm not quite so worried about what someone thinks. perhaps that's not right and i should seek help, but i really can't control it. i have no power over this deep need to vacuum a rug before your first visit to my home.

# 3. and finally, yes, in a perfect parenting world i would have confidently continued on to the nail salon and told my wayward teen to go clean his own bathroom, bedroom and boy-man-cave basement --- but he was already gone (at church for a meeting -- this, of course, did help his case a tiny bit) and wouldn't be home in time before the boys descended.

okay, with that said, everything (with the exception of my nails) was coming together pretty well.

and just moments before the group's arrival, i ducked into my own bathroom (the one without the greenish black stuff growing in the toilet) for a quick brush of my hair.

still slightly miffed with my last minute boy, i was vigorously brushing my hair, when i heard the explosion.

KABOOOOM!

what the heck? i dropped my brush and covered my head.

a gunshot?
an earthquake?
a hand granade? (i didn't actually think that, but it makes for more interesting reading).

no --- but a stray golf ball rolling around wildly in my garden tub.

a stray golf ball and a whole lot of glass around the tub and at my feet.

guess who had come home a little early from his church meeting and decided to practice his golf swing in the backyard???

FOUR!!!!!!

exactly. you guessed it. the oldest son.

the keeper of the dirty bathroom and the teller of last minute plans.

that one.

now, the swinger of the wild golf club and the breaker of the large glass window.

when i recovered from my near death experience, i climbed onto the ledge of my glass covered garden tub and looked out of my now damaged window.
and there he was below me in our yard: club in hand. mouth open and eyes wide.

oh no.

oh yes.

oh so not this kid's day.

not his day to get on his mom's good side.
not at all.
the boy would have just been better off staying at church.

except that's not how it works, right?

not for us mamas who love our kids.

even on days like this ... days of dirty basements and last minute plans and broken windows.
nothing changes the way we love our kids.
even while enduring our own dirty and neglected nails, we love them.

we love them.

and though their opinion on what constitutes clean might not amount to much, everything else about them does.

even their messes, their mishaps and their mistakes.

i can't help but think that's exactly (except better) the way our own Father in heaven loves us --- his messy and messed up kids.

nothing we fail to mention or wildly throw at Him will shatter the Father's love for us.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

He bends down


{april 25}
"He bends down to listen ..."
isn't that beautiful?
a father-child picture. tender.
His ear inclined and our prayers whispered.
God, not only almighty, but available and approachable.
God leaning in.
God listening.
God loving.
maybe, sometimes, it feels like no one else wants to hear.
i understand.
but, dear one, this image ---
your Jesus bending down ...
hearing your heart.
holding your hurt.
healing.
rest there and realize even your softest whispers are heard.

planted by water


{april 20}
it's like an explosion of green in the south right now.
i'm telling you -- this level of lush -- it's astounding.
everything well-watered and growing like gangbusters.
i love it.
i love these vibrant seasons of intense soaking.
i love them in my landscape and ...
guess what -- i love them in my life.
but, like any good southern girl, i know what's coming.
i've experienced enough georgia julys.
i know the scorch of summer.
i've lived the total absence of rain.
the drought.
the dry.
the blaze.
the bake.
the heat.
i have learned {am learning} that the only way to
avoid withering up in hot times is to plant by His waters and
have my roots near His streams.
there. is. no. other. way. to survive.
jeremiah tells us that when we do this we will:
1. not fear when the heat comes
2. not be anxious in the drought
3. continue to bear fruit
so, the question for me is this:
am i planted in the desires of my own dusty ways?
or am i planted in the direction of His deep waters?
let this beautiful april morning be a reminder to root ourselves in the only real source of our salvation -- Him.

He's for me


{april 17}
it's friday.
and it's been a long week.
and maybe that's all you needed to hear right now:
God.Is.For.Me.
and it's enough.
if that's the case, than this message is for you.
and me.
it's friday and ...
God.Is.For.Me.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

all of it His


{april 15}
i think sometimes i pretend otherwise.
it's my humanity wanting to take ownership.
it's my sin wanting to take control.
and on a morning like this, i need to be reminded:
it belongs to Him.
all of it.
everything.
He spoke it into being.
He whispered it into this world.
it's His.
you, me, that lovely crabapple across the street.
all of it.
His.
all of it good.
all of it for His glory.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

showers of blessing


{april 14}
2 corinthians 9:8 says,
"and God is able to bless you abundantly,
so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need,
you will abound in every good work."
~ abundant blessings ~
~ showers of blessing ~
the spring reminds me of these gifts.
the petals, the colors, the gifts of grace after a season
of winter. (i'll use that word loosely now that we've moved
back to georgia).
without doubt, it's easier to see the showers of blessing
in the spring places of our living, right?
however, paul tells us in 2 corinthians, that God gives blessings
"in all things at all times..."
and also assures us that we will have "all that we need."
what a promise!
and that promise isn't meant only for perfect spring days, but for all seasons.
He knows what we need, when we need it.
it might not always look like a path of pink petals, but God, in His
perfect knowledge always provides.
regardless of your circumstances or season, may you find His blessing abundant today!

like silver


{april 11}
refined: i'll be honest, that word scares me.
i mean i WANT the refinement --- the silver.
but i don't necessarily want the process:
the testing, the trying, the furnace of affliction.
who does?
and yet, this april, as i'm trying to search God's word
for the new things He wants to show me, the new things
He wants to give me, the new things He wants to make in me ...
i know -- I KNOW -- refinement is a part of the deal.
silver and gold come from the high heat of His grace.
maybe you know exactly what i'm writing about.
you have been living awhile in the hot testing places of life.
be encouraged! God will use this.
and even though it feels like plain old sweat, He has this way of making it sweet.
precious. pure. silver.
it might be hard to see now.
in fact, i know it is.
but trust Him.
even in this heat,
trust His heart.

more like Jesus


{april 10}
these three dig in the sand, jump in the waves, hold hands and sing and there is such joy.
a deep, deep joy because they know:
the are called beloved.
they are called His.
like with all of us, we don't know exactly WHAT the future holds,
but we do know WHO holds the future.
these girls, all of our children, all of us ... it hasn't been revealed, but we can trust when it includes Him and He is revealed,
we will be like Him.
more like Jesus. that's my prayer. for my children, my husband and for me.
MORE. LIKE. JESUS. every new day.
more like Jesus ... today.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

grains of sand


{april 9}
i love absolutely everything about the beach ---
EXCEPT how the sand gets everywhere.
i mean it: ev-er-y-wh-ere.
because of these 7 days at the beach we will find sand in our hair and in our bags and in our car for the next 7 months.
(but seriously, not complaining).
so, bella has been memorizing psalm 139 (verses 1-18) this year. she just finished learning these final two verses 17 and 18 this week -- right here at the beach.
i was kinda stressed about getting her to wrap up her school memory work. we were a little behind (sigh).
but how cool that we could wiggle our toes in this white sugar sand and work on these final two verses. how awesome to stand on this massive stretch of gulf coast and see how big is our Jesus.
"if i were to count your precious thoughts Jesus, they are more than the sand!"
i love this.
i love that Jesus speaks to us through illustrations we can easily get -- even 1st graders!
grains of sand -- impossible to control or count or consider the number. "how vast is the sum!"
Jesus, we cannot know all your thoughts, YET you allow us to know YOU.

the sea is His


{april 8}
at the ocean this week.
and sometimes standing here,
sitting here,
just being here ...
i don't know how to take it all in.
it is a place in which i always see God.
i can't help it.
yesterday i encouraged us to keep seeking Him in our "raised up lives."
this morning i am telling you, while at the ocean, i can't not seek Him.
i can't escape Him here.
does the ocean do that for you?
like that song "i hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean ..."
yeah, i'm small, but what i mostly feel is GOD IS BIG.
"the sea is His, He made it!"
that ocean breeze is a hallelujah running right through me.
glorious creation reminding me of our Most Glorious Creator.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

if then ...



{april 7}
so, the week AFTER easter.
sunday's over and now we're back to reality,
back to work, back to whatever ...
IF THEN. "if then we have been raised with Christ ..."
If then … WHAT?
do you see the assignment in this verse?
"seek the things above."
don't hang up the easter bonnet and call it done.
keep seeking Him. 
keep looking UP. 
keep being raised with Christ.
easter day and every day.
so often we are quick to move right on through our holiday.
friend, each day is a holy day when we wholly commit ourselves to Him.
He is risen!

and we, praise God, are risen with Him.

the hallelujah day!

{april 5}
it's the hallelujah day.
the day when all things are made new, made right, made resurrected. 
the old and dead washed away in the power of His resurrected presence. 
everything made full in the tomb left empty.
those who saw him almost couldn't believe.
shaking their heads. rubbing their eyes. pinching themselves. 
is it real?
is it true?
is this Jesus?
i get that: sometimes too-good-to-be-true is hard to believe.
it's the ending everyone wanted, but most probably kind of doubted. 
could it be?
is the tomb really empty?
who checked?
are we certain?
pilate, afraid, attempted an immediate cover-up -- "tell them his disciples stole the body."
feeble plan at best. 
but the disciples saw. 
touched.
trembled.
and Jesus lived. 
breathed.
walked.
and too-good-to-be-true, WAS TRUE. is true. and it's true for all of us everywhere --- even today. we are raised right along with him ... romans 6 says, "just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."
hard to believe?
i know ... 
mind-boggling for most of us.
you're not the first to shake your head, rub your eyes and pinch yourself. 
it's big. it's big news. 
it's the difference between life and death.
it's the hallelujah day and-happy-easter-morning, it happened!
real and resurrected that "we too might walk in newness of life."
amen.
have a blessed easter, friends! He is risen, indeed!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

the day of in between


{april 4}
it's the day of in between.
the day not much mentioned.
yesterday, Christ crucified.
tomorrow, risen.
but today ... nothing.
the place where most of us sometimes live life.
the day of waiting to see what will happen.
the day of wondering what this all means.
the day of wishing we had more certainty.
the day with a giant stone rolled against a sealed tomb.
how many of us feel up against the stone and the tomb of the in between day?
how many of us believe Jesus will rise - Has Risen, indeed! - but live life as if He's still buried beneath rock?
we live waiting and wondering.
shackled and scared.
anxious and impotent.
friday is over and sunday is coming ... but so many of us -- yes, even us Christians -- we stay stuck and immobile in our saturday.
i know i'm guilty.
guilty of living like there's a large stone set between me and my Savior.
guilty of living like my Redeemer isn't risen, but still barricaded behind a boulder.
frustrated with God's silence.
wanting results, answers, evidence.
i'm confessing these in-between-places of my heart.
clinging to yesterday's cross and hoping in tomorrow empty tomb.
but confessing, that often my life looks like i'm lost and only somewhere in between.
Lord, thank you for using this saturday to show me the insecure tendencies of my living. let these in-between-days not be wasted, but welcomed. use this day of nothing-much to show something-much of your power in and over even the grave.
remind us that you, our Redeemer, never rested behind rock, but you, Jesus, are The Rock. ~ amen.
"the Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom i take refuge ..." ~ psalm 18:2

Friday, April 3, 2015

darkness


{april 3}
the day the world went dark.
good friday.
can you imagine the deep black of a covered noon day sun?
maybe you can.
maybe you understand just a little what it feels like to be
standing in night in the midst of everyone else's bright day.
Jesus died for this.
for you.
for your night.
for your dark.
for your sin.
for me.
this was the day everything seemed wrong. off. inverted. unclear.
Jesus on a tree. on a hill. on display for all men to mock.
wrong. dark. dead.
the weeping of his mother.
the wrestling of his disciples.
the wildness of the world.
wrong. black. ripped.
the curtain of the temple torn in two.
"and at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" ... and Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed His last. and the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. and when the centurion, who stood facing him saw ... he said, "truly this man was the Son of God." mark 15.
and in the darkness one sees light, "truly this man was the Son of God."
Jesus on that dark cross for him. for you. for me.
Jesus on that dark cross that we might see light.

spring rain

{april 2}
spring rain.
today's forecast promises.
showers on and off.
sometimes it ruins our plans and we complain -- at least i do.
but the gardener in me knows the necessity of these gray days.
we need rain.
we need rain -- yes, even in our own lives.
not saying i like the storms.
but i am saying they are all part of growth -- our growth in Him!
in leviticus 26 God uses the words: yield, produce, fruit, increase, harvest.
outcomes only possible after a season of rain.
i don't know about you, but i want those kind of results in my life.
gray days, drenching showers, puddles and mud.
Jesus bring the rain.
"drip down, o heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness ..." ~ isaiah 45:8

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

new every morning


{april 1}
aren't we glad our God created spring and mornings and fresh starts?
i sure am.
don't know what your new beginning needs to be this morning ...
but i bet you have one.
i sure do.
this month, join me as we soak ourselves in the promises of spring and scripture and the GIFT of something NEW God's mercy always brings ---- when only we take time to look.
GREAT is His faithfulness!