Without the Black and White

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I remember the first time I watched the Wizard of Oz. My mom was excited to have all of her children old enough to watch one of her favorite movies. My brothers and I sat on the floor in front of the tv, my parents on the couch, and all of us chomping on popcorn. Remember the aluminum foil pan popcorn? That was the ish back then. Anyhow, I could barely sit still when I heard the MGM lion roar. The movie started and… it was black and white? I had to sit through an old black and white movie?

My mom told us to just watch and pay attention. It would be amazing, she said. I trusted her and I also knew whining would just get me sent to bed. So, I waited. Dorothy opened the door and the beautiful colors captured me. I remember my mom’s giggle as she listened to us kids ooh and aah. It was a magical moment.

It became an annual tradition to watch the Wizard of Oz. Back then, we didn’t have On Demand. We had to wait until it came back on television. Now, we don’t know anything about the excitement of waiting like we did back then. I remember when we recorded it for the first time. I could watch it whenever I wanted. Woohoo, right? I thought so until I watched it a few times and the family tradition faded. The fun in waiting ended. I learned the magic isn’t so magical without the waiting.

As a kid, I never fully appreciated Good Friday. It wasn’t a nice day to think about. Jesus having to die was sad, it wasn’t exciting. It was like the beginning of the Wizard of Oz. All I wanted was for the door to open. I wanted the beautiful color, not the black and white. I wanted to hear about Jesus rising from the dead. I was a kid so I would be lying if I didn’t also admit I wanted the Easter egg hunt, the pretty dress, and the candy (of course). All I wanted was the magic, not the things leading up to the magic.

I now love Holy Week. I love the reflection and the humility it brings. I always try to carry the beauty of the “black and white” into the “technicolor” and the days beyond. It is easily my favorite week of the year. It sort of snuck up on me this year, though. Tuesday, I kept thinking of how I wanted it to slow down. I wanted to feel the waiting a little bit longer.

It wasn’t until Wednesday night during my class that I felt my usual Holy Week feelings. I told the kids we were going to have a (sort of) Last Supper together. They were excited to say the least. It took them a bit to calm down and I almost thought it wasn’t going to work out.

They did calm down. I read the verses as we talked about how it must have felt to be there. How did Judas feel? Peter? Jesus? We passed out bread. We talked about what it meant. We ate. I poured grape juice. We talked about what it meant. We drank. They were engaged. The verses were familiar to them and of course they started talking about communion. We talked about the steps they need to take in our church to participate in communion when they are older. I got my Holy Week feeling back. Funny how teaching has a way of helping me as well. I guess it goes to show why it is important to use your unique gifts and talents.

Even as an adult I try to rush to the magic at times. I have to remind myself to stop and trust God. I look back and see the beauty in the steps leading up. I thank God for the steps leading up––no matter how hard they may be at the time.

Without the blood shed on the cross, we can have no salvation. Without the black and white, we would not have the color. It is the same with life. We must not rush to get to the color. We have to wait and see and feel the beauty in the black and white. It is only then that we can see and feel the true beauty and magic in the color.

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This is a painting I had my class do on Wednesday night after our lesson. This was my son’s. I loved the colors each kid chose. I loved seeing the anticipation they felt waiting to see their finished project. I especially loved their smiles when I oohed and aahed at their work. 

This Thing Called Grace

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I think of the crushing weight that pressed on His beautiful soul. The beauty He held, I can never fully grasp. I try to comprehend. I close my eyes and picture the cross. I picture the events leading up, as well. My mind is too weak. I skim over the hard parts. My body clenches at the very thought of trying to endure even one lashing. The driven nails are pulled out by my selfish need to fend off pain before it ever really begins.

The purpose of His dying was so I could be free from the yoke. Yet, there are times I forfeit the lightness that was so freely given to me. Why do I trample on my clean soul? Why do I worry, I fear, and I forget?  I hold a beautiful opened gift and I sometimes wrap it back up and tuck it away for a rainy day. Maybe not always, maybe not as much as I used to, maybe not as much as others…but enough to feel the chains that bind.

Now here’s the thing that gets me every time. I do not need to shed any blood or endure any of what He did. I do not need to earn His love or His approval. All I need is faith. He sees me as me. Not as the world portrays me to be…not what I portray me to be either. He…loves…me.

Whenever I tuck this thing called grace away he gently helps me unwrap it. He reminds me of my worth. He places His finger under my chin and lifts my head up like no other. It is because of this I am led through the Holy Spirit’s power to never stop striving to love as He loves me.

Never Apart

bible-1031288_1920The Word was once just a book.

It contained truth and knowledge.

It told me how to live and love.

It was something to study and put to practice.

And it was good.

But that all changed.

The words began to stir and come to life.

One by one they sharpened.

One by one they pierced my soul.

No longer did I want to depict the world’s eye view of it.

I saw the significance of the Law.

I saw the significance of the Gospel.

I saw how they can never be torn apart.

Because one without the other is simply not enough.

You can be doing it all right and still be wrong.

It is only with Him, not on our own, that we realize…

The Word shows His love.

It is grace bestowed upon us through His blood.

Without it, there is no salvation.

Without it, there is no freedom.

It is what opens our hearts to the law and changes us from within.

See, the Gospel without the Law is just a pile of words.

You or me without both are just a pile of flesh and bones.

It is the Law together with the Gospel that sets us apart from the world.

It is both.

Death

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I’m dying.

The air doesn’t fill my lungs,

as it did in the past.

My body aches.

Every step I take is slower.

I hear a voice.

I reach out.

All I feel is empty space.

Empty promises.

I close my eyes and pray.

His Word fills the emptiness.

I let out my last breath.

I am free.

New air fills my lungs.

The pain is gone.

My path is clear.

My steps are boundless.

This truth is where,

my peace is found.

I no longer live,

it is He who lives in me.

Through the power,

through His endless love.

I am brought back to life,

time and time again.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
-Galatians 2:20

Caution: Road Block Ahead

imageMy normal twenty-minute trip of taking Oliver to school took me about 45 minutes this morning. Even my alternative route was closed.  So I had to go another way, then another, and another. I got home and made myself a cup of coffee before I took off again to go shopping…by myself. Any parent knows the joy it brings to shop alone. I cannot tell you the frustration I felt when I looked out my window and saw my road was blocked. Yep, I live on the corner of a court with no other way out. I felt trapped and completely ticked.

All I could think of was how the construction is messing with my life and plans.  

I took a few deep breaths and then sat in my favorite chair. My 72 pound lap dog jumped up on my lap and nestled in. Ranger’s drowsy eyes looked up at me before his big wrinkly head landed on my hand. He loudly exhaled and then closed his eyes.  Within a minute he was snoring.

Apparently my dog was quite pleased with the construction that led to my being trapped. I rubbed his head with my free hand and began to relax. I realized I probably needed my dog and favorite chair more than I needed shopping. I began to sip my coffee and my thoughts carried me away.  I wish I could say they carried me away from construction, but it was not so.

It dawned on me how easily we become frustrated with road blocks. Sometimes it is all we think about.  Sometimes it trickles down into every aspect of our lives.

I’m not speaking the literal sense of a road block. I’m sure you’ve already picked up on that, though. You may even be nodding you head and are thinking of a situation in your own life. You are ready to move on. You want to go where you think/know you want/need to go, but you just can’t get there for because of the stinking road block.

Presently, I do not have any major road blocks. At least none I am aware of. But I can recall the ones I’ve had in the past. I remember the frustration. I remember the only if’s. Only if…then my life would be better. I could accomplish more. I could be a better mom, spouse, friend, or whatever. I could be more faithful.  I could be more…

What we fail to see is the significance of the road block. God needs for us to stop so He can do the construction needed within us and around us. He is the one who knows the best path. We need to trust Him when He takes us on unexpected or inconvenient ways.

Amazing how with just a twist of perspective, the meaning of trapped and inconvenienced transforms into our ever-loving God fixing and beautifying us and our path called life.

To Stay Afloat

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I have always wanted to buy an old house to fix  up.  Old houses have character that a newer house cannot compete with.  That probably will never happen, but a girl can dream, you know. It isn’t just houses, anything old excites me.  I don’t know how to describe it.  I think it started as a child.  We lived in this old farmhouse. I remember the creaky wooden steps. I remember the floors, the cabinets, the built in shelves, the scary basement. I remember the old barns we would explore and play in.  I remember all the little details that most people would overlook.

My love for old things carried on through the years.  I blame mostly my dad for this love of old things. He would buy wooden boats.  We would spend the winter fixing them up. It was hard work.  Me being the smallest, I was always given the job of climbing down by the engine.  I had to pull out the leaves and whatever else was down there.  I don’t miss that part.  My favorite part was redoing the cabin.  Sanding, staining, and varnishing the wood was fun to me.  I felt as though it was our living room of the boat. I am all about making things feel comfortable. My brothers were more into the exterior part. The things that made the boat float.  My dad taught us how to work hard.  Our boats showed us, literally, how hard work pays off.  Putting the boat in the water for the first time and wondering if it will stay afloat.  When it did…aah…what an amazing feeling!

I think of life much like I do of old wooden boats.  You need to put work into it to stay afloat.  Think about a time when you let things go.  Those cracks in whatever area of life you let go start holding in water and then eventually you feel as though you are sinking. You grab your bucket and start throwing the water out, but the water keeps filling back up. What you really need to do is fix the cracks.  In order to do that, you may need to pull your boat out of water.  Sometimes all you need to use is a sealant. Other times you need replace some of the wood as well.

Spiritual life is the same.  I think that is where many people get confused.  You don’t need to earn your salvation. Jesus did the work for you. But you do need to do some work if you want your faith to grow. What happens when you fall out of prayer and you slide away from reading His word? You will start sinking right back into the world and worldly thinking.

We need to protect ourselves from the exterior things that wear us down and we need to protect ourselves from the things (sin) within ourselves as well. As christians we need to continuously seal and repair our cracks so we can stay afloat. The more afloat we become, the more we can help others stay afloat and see the love of Christ.

Best Delivery Ever!

I have just had a rough day today.  I can’t or don’t even want to explain it. There is so much on my mind and just too much going on that has worn me down.  (Insert crazy face.)  I don’t even know.  I hate complaining and I hate talking about these things.  Sometimes I feel I don’t have the right person to talk to.  I have people that I trust…but sometimes I don’t want to burden them.

I went to bible study this morning and usually that gives me peace.  Not today.  No, all I wanted to do is leave.  I never feel that way.

Then, there’s the kid who is having a rough time adjusting to summer.  I truly think I need to make a schedule for him.  Maybe that would give him the sense of order he needs. He gets himself in trouble.  He doesn’t act like himself when there is any change.  I guess that is something I will always struggle with when it comes to him because I am the complete opposite.  I can adapt to change like a champ.  Maybe I need to start meeting him in the middle more.

I feel like lately I have been saying, “Ugh life!” way too often.  You know, this happened to this person and that is happening to that person is all I keep hearing.  I know it will all pass.  It is just it feels like it all happens at the same time!

So, I ordered new shoe racks and they arrived today. Exciting isn’t it? The boys always love playing with boxes like all kids do.  Today they played delivery man.  First up was Luke hiding in the box, then Oliver, and then crayons.  When they told me I had one last delivery, I figured it would be something like dirty socks or something.  They assured me it would be the best delivery ever.  It really was the best delivery ever––my bible.  Needless to say, my mood changed instantly.

Life is going to be life.  Things get rough, busy, overwhelming, sad, irritating, and so on. But then we get these little moments that remind us of the best delivery ever. We don’t even need to pay for this delivery, well maybe you do need to pay for a bible…it isn’t ok to steal. But what is free is his love. He is always there for us and His word is always there to turn to.

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