I took this picture last week while on vacation. It makes me think of how we are supposed to be a reflection of God’s love. Just as the sky is imperfectly reflected on the water, we will never be capable of fully reflecting God’s love. It doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful and captivating.
What if we began to believe this? Not just for ourselves, but for others as well. It’s easy to accept our own imperfections and to know when the rough waters arise we naturally reflect less. We tend to be harder on others. Don’t we?
When their glimpses of God fade instead of shimmer, we act as though it isn’t there at all. We take it personal instead of pulling them on our boat or sitting with them through their storm. We tell others about their murky water. Then all the others begin to see is the murkiness you pointed out.
What if we began to help still the waters instead of creating more wake? Just imagine for a moment. We’d see more of God’s reflection in them and they’d see more of Him in ours.
I once heard a wise lady say a pastor should talk about Christ’s death on the cross for our sins every single week. She went on to talk about how we need reminded of His grace and mercy and it needn’t be the entire sermon, but it should be included. Those words have stuck with me. They’ve become a part of me that I carry around in my everyday life. I am no pastor, but I am a wife, a mom, a sister, a friend…and currently a Sunday school teacher who can remind others of His grace and mercy when I teach, share my faith, or simply live out my life as a Christian.
I once heard a pastor say there are two kinds of people in this world. Ones who need to hear the Gospel more and ones who need to hear the Law more. He then looked at me and said he bets I am more like him who needs to hear the gospel more. He was correct. He then explained that there are those who have a harder time seeing their own faults and need to hear the law to point them to repentence. Neither is better than the other, he went on to say. It is true, those who need to hear the gospel more forget about His saving grace and are at risk for trying to “work” for salvation. Those who need to hear the law more are at risk for becoming self-righteous. We all fall short.
I once heard a pastor’s son ask his dad a question about life. His dad, a pastor, did not have an answer to this hard question, but instead told his son to add it to his question notebook and ask God about it. I was in 5th grade at the time and was friends with this pastor’s son and daughter. My brother and I would spend time a lot of time at their house after school and I will never forget this moment. Realizing that not even a pastor knows everything strengthened my faith more than any other sermon or bible study could. In realizing that true faith isn’t knowing all the answers I was able to question and dig and also accept the truth that God’s word is alive and active throughout my entire life. There is always more to understand.
All of the things I have once heard reveal a powerful and beautiful God who fills my doubts with the truth of his word. With this truth I possess and share, I hope it can do the same for others as it has done for me.
Have you ever had a memory of something that your entire body reacted to? Like, you remember a sight, touch, smell, sound, or taste that physically feels as though it is happening all over again. It is quite fascinating that our minds are that powerful, isn’t it?
A couple weeks ago our pastor did a sermon on judging others. Remember the story of the adulteress?
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the groupand said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.Now what do you say?”They were using this question as a trap,in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her” (John 8:3-7).
This is what the sermon was based on and I keep thinking of it because I struggle with judging others from time to time. I also know how it feels to be judged. We all know how that feels and it truly can have devastating effects.
During the sermon we all had stones in our hands that they gave us as we entered the sanctuary. At one point the pastor threw his stone into a metal bucket to demonstrate how we need to let go of the stones we hold. It was disturbingly loud and sent a shock-like reaction throughout my entire body. Other times throughout the sermon he would pick up another stone and throw it into the metal bucket. Even though I knew what was coming, my body reacted the same each time. I remember squeezing the rock in my hand thinking of times I have wrongly judged others.
It was brilliantly done. It was also convicting.
Too many christians justify their judgment of others. I too have justified my judgments. Satan uses this as a way to divide the christian community. I’m going to repeat. Satan uses this as a way to divide the christian community. As long as there is judgment, slander, gossip, and so on whatever good works you are doing for God will be weaker. It definitely isn’t bringing as much glory to God. Guaranteed. When I think of this coming from Satan, it makes me realize how important it is for us to hear it and then guard ourselves against it. It isn’t easy. It especially isn’t easy to speak out against it when you are with a group of people doing it. It gives me anxiety just to think of it.
Looking through the bible, there are numerous passages I can share to back up my thoughts. The one that stands out the most though is 1 Corinthians 13:1 because I believe lack of love causes all of this. As Christians, we use our spiritual gifts to further the kingdom and to strengthen our brothers and sisters in Christ. The verse says:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).
I think of my body’s reaction to the stones being thrown into the metal bucket…it is the same reaction I would have to a clanging cymbal. Without love, we are a disturbing sound that sends a shock-like reaction throughout our entire bodies. Yikes.
I remember the first time I had a piece published in a magazine. I was ecstatic. Then, the edits began. I should’ve used this word instead of that one. I should’ve put this sentence in front of that one. Mind you, the piece was already published. There were no edits needed. I was editing in my mind instead of praising God for the work He did through me.
As of late, I find myself doing this in my every day life as well. If I did more of this and less of that then my life would be better and easier. If I said this instead of that then she wouldn’t have rolled her eyes. If I seemed less excited. More excited? There’s something missing! No, no, no, and no. I need to praise God for the way He made me while knowing that I can never take away all my struggles…no matter how many “edits” I make.
Every strength comes with a struggle. There are flaws found everywhere and in everyone. I believe God made it that way to keep us humble and to remember where and who our strength comes from.
There are days when I feel as though everything I do gets undone. Clean clothes become unclean. The dishes lose their sparkle with one touch of food. Beds become unmade and floors gather dust in an instant. I’m convinced I can hear the leaves I just swept off my front porch giggle as they rush back in with one gust of wind. Don’t even get me started on motherhood. The homework never ends. My kids still mess up and do the things I tell them not to do. Why do I bother?
A couple Sundays ago, I had my class draw a picture. I told them they could draw whatever they wanted, but no one else could see it. They spread out and hovered over their papers as they drew their masterpieces. I then handed each of them a piece of paper with a hole in the middle to cover their drawings and when they were finished they could exchange theirs with another kid’s. I then had them to move the top paper around to see if they could figure out what the other kid drew through the little hole. It was unsuccesful.
Next, I had them all close their eyes as I taped their pictures on the wall. After all the pictures were up, I had them look through the paper with a hole in it from where they were sitting. They were all amazed at how clearly they could see the drawings from further away. The point was to show them we can’t always see things clearly when we are in the trenches of everyday life. We can’t see how God is working or what our work is doing in the lives of others. Pretty cool, right?
All the things that keep feeling undone really aren’t. It is all doing something. It all matters. When I take a step back, I can see how the steps of yesterdays have moved me and my family forward. I can see God’s grace and love and power in it all, even the hard. So, I continue march forth (through the never ending piles of clothes, dust, leaves, and homework) because I trust God and know He is right here with me.
Staring out my window, I see crab apple tree branches full of tiny fruits. The dangling red clusters are so exquisite against the grayish blue autumn sky. It seems to be the perfect contrast. I can’t stop staring. I can’t stop feeling so flipping poetic as I get lost in my mind and sip on my french pressed coffee. It’s quite funny, like I’m living out my own artsy fartsy independent film. A short film, that is.
I soon remember what’s to come. The tiny little fruits will soon fall onto my favorite parking spot. Little red splotches will appear on my pretty white car. Gooey clumps sure to get stuck on the bottom of little shoes that aren’t as little as they used to be, but still little enough to not pay attention to or care about the mess they track through the house. What will remain are bare branches my eyes disregard for lack of beauty. Bare branches that only leave my mind to yearn for something more.
Just. Like. That. My poetic-ness is gone.
The beauty of nature overtaken by the prospect of a mess I will one day have to clean up. Under the picture perfect window view lies a cluttered counter of dirty dishes. I wonder how many hours of my lifetime I’ve spent on dishes…on laundry…on picking up after other people. I glance at my clock calculating how much time I get to pretend I’m an ever inspired writer before I have to turn back into a mom who has X amount of minutes to get my ‘mom’ duties done and pick my kids up from school.
Let me go back to my artsy fartsy moment just a little while longer. Oh, there we go, aahhhh. I now know why there are windows over kitchen sinks. Women need them to escape the monotony. The problem now is that my coffee is cold. Truly the life of a mom. Our coffee always gets cold before we get a chance to finish it. Can someone invent a pretty mug with a built in warmer already? Not a thermos style one. The pretty mug is also part of the mom gig.
I really do love my life, though. I love being a mom and feel like more than anything else in this world, I was made to be a mom. The messes and all. I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s just, there’s more to me than being a mom. There has to be more. My kids need to see there’s more.
When I don’t take time to allow my pondering poetic side to come out, I forget to show my kids how to live out their own poems. It makes life more fulfilling, doesn’t it? When I don’t let my kids entertain themselves so I can sneak downstairs to tap dance, my kids don’t see the importance of holding on to themselves when their busy adult lives want to swallow them up. Surely, it does feel like I’m being swallowed up at times. When I don’t ignore the dishes for one more hour so I can write, I neglect the me beyond the me that only thinks of what mess I need to clean up next. There is always some sort of mess, always.
I don’t have much advice when it comes to being a mom. I feel like if you are doing the best to make sure your kids become kind and humble or whatever else you may feel is important (for us it is faith in Christ) than you are on the right track. Just don’t forget it’s okay let go of your duties and to hold on to your window view a little while longer.
Luke is twelve years old. We have the same t-shirt and shoe size. I’m not sure why that amazes me so much…but it does. He would be taller than my grandma if she were still alive. What I would give to hear her voice saying she can’t believe he’s taller than her. She always made a big deal out of when her grandkids outgrew her. It always made me chuckle because she wasn’t very tall. But still, it was a rite of passage in my family. You felt like you were getting older once you were taller than her. So that is how I measure Luke’s age. He’s old enough to be taller than my grandma and it blows my mind.
Wednesday night at a bible study I was reminded how struggles can bring sanctification. Through Luke’s twelve years of life I can see how God worked and is still working through his struggles for the good. Looking back through my own life as well, I see how the ups and the downs were preparing me to become the person I am today. It took me a long stinking time to see that. I can now confidently say I wouldn’t want to take away any of it. One day when Luke is older I pray he will see how all the things, good and bad, were preparing him as well.
In his twelve years he has had some downs. A diagnosis of Ocular Albinism at six months old being one of them. It is probably safe to say it is the biggest down of his life thus far. Not that he knew that at six months.
I remember the day Luke was diagnosed with Ocular Albinism his opthamologist also told us to prepare him for a life without driving. I’m telling you, those words instantly shifted my life, my thinking, my vision of his future, and my idea of how parenthood would be. I didn’t have a choice. I became the parent he needed.
Sure enough he was the son I needed too. Being his parent has strengthened me. It’s strengthened my faith in God and humanity. I know I’m his mom, but he truly is an amazing person. I mean, he does have moments that drive me bonkers. He’s a twelve year old boy afterall. I’ll stick with the good stuff today though. Watching the way he lives his life has shown me what perserverance truly is all about. It’s shown me the power of God. It’s certainly shown me more than I’ll ever realize this side of heaven.
Our life, just like everyone else’s, just keeps shifting. Last year we were told Luke would be able to get a restrictive drivers license and possibly was on track for an unrestrictive one. Praise God. That gave us a hope we never thought possible.
Fast forward a year. Wednesday we were told his vision has improved to the point he doesn’t even qualify for services in school. He’s also even closer to being on track for an unrestrictive license. I was excited to hear it last year, but now it actually feels attainable.
So yep, my life has once again shifted. I was a mom of a child who needed accommodations in school. I had to worry about whether or not kids would pick on him for being different. I had to worry about the teacher taking the extra time needed to follow the IEP…which sadly didn’t always happen. Most of his teachers were great though. Now I’m a mom of a twelve year old boy who doesn’t need accommodations and who will most likely be driving like any other kid. I always imagined Oliver would be my first kid driving. I always imagined Oliver would have to play the role of big brother and drive Luke places. Now it seems Luke will be able to live out the role.
I keep thinking about how these shifts in our life shape us. How is this one shaping us? I don’t know. There are many shifts that don’t shift back to normal or good. This part of Luke’s story has. He still has other struggles, but that’s part of being human. It’s like, I keep waiting for it to not be real. More, I feel like I need to be careful and sensitive to those who have stories that may never shift back like ours has. I want Luke to see and feel that too. It isn’t that I want him to feel guilt for God’s blessings. I just don’t want it all to be in vain. You know?
There’s just something about the way it is snowing today that sets my mind and body at ease. It is beautiful and powerful, dainty and steadfast. Ah, to stay right here as long as I possibly can! My eyes begin at the top of my window and follow the bunch down as far as they can, only to quickly start the cycle again. I believe staring at it too long is likely to put me in a trance and I wouldn’t even mind if it did.
The idea that this world, that the science of it all and its creation is deemed chance by some baffles me in this moment. The mind and thought…the intelligence I know it took to have created it sends shivers down my spine. My knowing without a doubt God created this moment and me to be in it brings a peace. It is pure peace and yet I am saddened to think of those who don’t hold its beauty as dear as I do. I can never quite grasp how thankful I am to know the truth. As corny as I may be sounding right now, it simply takes my breath away.
We have a vacation home near my parents. There’s just something about being there that allows me to reconnect with parts of myself that aren’t here in my real residence. I don’t believe it is the house itself. Nor is it the area that brings with it the warmer weather I love. I believe it is the mere fact that my parents are there. Being around them brings out parts of me I sometimes feel are missing. No matter how much I try, I cannot fully be the person I am when they are not near.
It is similiar to running into an old friend. It is like the memory that arises of someone who has passed away. You feel a part of yourself that only that person can bring. I’m certain everyone can relate to the emotions I speak of. It is a part of this life, whether we like it or not.
I went through a phase of reading self-help books. I found it invigorating to strive to “find” my true self. I admit, each book opened my eyes to parts of me I had not known or had hidden in pains of the past. But yet, I still felt I needed to find more. So on my quest went. Book after book, picking up a little part of me here and there.
Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for those missing parts I recovered. I love the books and I love reading things that can better a person. It’s just, what I didn’t realize is there will always be more missing parts this side of heaven. We were made, we were designed to live in paradise. Of course, sin had to come along and change that. But I now know it’s the reason why it’s so hard to find contentment apart from God. I know who I am meant to be won’t be found in any self-help book alone. Who I am meant to be is found in Christ. It is found in losing myself in Him, missing parts and all.