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.

From a Manger to a Cross

fullsizeoutput_e.jpegI apologize to anyone who read my post last year…or other similar ones, but things lay heavy on me and what else am I to do?  I feel there is more depth this year than last and am wondering next year if it is possible to transcend further into whatever it is you’d call it that I feel post-Christmas.

Life starts shifting back to normal. My kids are exhausted. My house is a disaster.  I’m exhausted as well.  I’m a bit of an introvert.  I absolutely love people, I love to be around people. I also need and crave calm and quiet at times.  I need both.  I need time to reflect and get lost in my own mind. When there are many things I need to get done, like before Christmas, it sucks my energy.  I become a bit recluse trying to do what needs to be done.  Plus, this year I was sick and couldn’t rest trying to get it all done. I feel like I need to buy a t-shirt that says, “Sorry, I really do like you, but I’m peopled out.”

I am looking at the heaps of gifts scattered throughout our house and tell myself I’ll organize it later.  I feel grateful for my family and for my husband’s family.  We both have pretty low drama and intact families, at least compared to the norm.  My kids are shown love and it is almost too normal for them to have the best of everything. I do my best to show them how blessed they are for all these things. We give back and I allow the boys to to be a part of choosing where and how we do so.

Obviously, I want to have my good life. Who wouldn’t?  I feel blessed and I thank God for all we have.  But, I feel a pulling inside me that just keeps growing.  When did it start?  I think it has always been there my entire life. It is just that sometimes I feel it to the point it physically hurts. I see what I have and I see what others don’t have and it makes me sad. The older I get the more I see and feel it.

Lately, I don’t think it is enough to just recognize it.  It isn’t enough to donate clothes and old toys.  It isn’t enough to donate money, goats, and so on to the poor.  It just doesn’t feel like I’m dong enough.  No, I’m not going to give up all we have to go wander the streets with my family to make myself feel better.  I truly don’t know what I feel like I should be doing.  I’m in this praying, waiting, praying stage.  I’m practicing what I preach to others.  Give it to God and wait on His answer.

I sit here staring out my window and reflect on the life of Jesus. It began in manger, a feeding trough. It ended on a cross, Him literally nailed to it. Everything in between the two was not a life fit for a king. Yet He is the King of Kings. Through the world’s eyes, no one would ask for such a life. He was not rich or powerful. He lived a life full of sacrifice. I think about sin and how we easily can sin on a daily basis. There are sins we fight daily and it takes great sacrifice not to succumb to at times. Think of all the sacrifices He made to live a sinless life. We know He was tempted. Yet He chose a path we could never.  We are too weak to live a life such as His.

We rely on grace and many times take it for granted.  We chew on the bread and sip the wine.  We know what a blessing and gift it is to partake in. Yet most times, at least to a certain extent, Monday morning comes around and we fall right back into worldly thinking.  We may read the Word and try to teach our kids the best we can. We send our prayers.  We serve in the church. But, we don’t love our neighbors as we should and we surely don’t spread the gospel as we should.  We don’t step out of our comfort to live the life God is calling us to.

The crazy part is God loves us despite all of this!  

We know this because He sent His son to live a life we could never live and to die a horrible death to save us from ourselves. We are saved because of our King who began His life in a manger and ended it on a cross. He lived that life and here I am living my easy peasy one…and it doesn’t quite seem right.

No record

cross_jesus_woodTrue forgiveness starts from within.  It starts from within oneself and works its way out. If we wait for what we think the other side should or shouldn’t do that is not forgiveness.

We are to forgive others as He forgives us.

Christ’s blood poured out of His body before we were even born. Yet it is still powerful enough to continuously cover us for the sins of yesterday, today, and the days to come. Despite what we do, His blood keeps no record.

We must forgive, despite what we feel the other person is or is not doing. Why? Because Christ did and still does the same for us. We have no way of knowing what God is doing in someone else’s heart. We have no idea the layers one is fighting to tear down. Remember, we cannot control anyone else’s heart, only our own.

Satan wants us to see what is lacking in the other. When we focus on such, Satan wins. The best we can do is to try to keep the plank out of our own eyes and love others. True forgiveness and true love always go hand in hand.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

 No record.  

Unselfish Love

Rain has been falling, falling, falling. It is wet and dreary with seemingly no end in sight. I am beginning to wonder if the sun has hidden itself somewhere. Maybe it needed a break. I understand, my dear sun, it can be quite tiring to always be needed. I ask, “Who has been taking care of you?”

The rain apparently has brought out my dramatic side. It has thickened my weariness as well. I am thankful,though, because it has forced me to stop. When I stop, I think. I need my time to get lost in my own mind. As it is sometimes the only solace I find when this world gets crazy. So yes, I feel as though the weariness has soothed my weary mind. If that makes any bit of sense.

What is my busy mind thinking of right now? Love is what is on my mind. Life has taught me love doesn’t always come easy. When you read about love in the bible you begin to realize we shouldn’t just love the people who are easy to love.I cannot help but to believe the ones who are the hardest to love are many times the ones who need it the most.

I wish had some quick and easy secret as to how to accomplish this. I don’t. We all continuously need to work on loving others, but it is worth working on. I have seen what love can do and it is absolutely beautiful and powerful. It really is.

All I know for certain is that we need to forgive over and over and over again. I know I have said that before but it is worth repeating. We must also love people where they are at…not where we want them to be…and not where we may need them to be. Why? Because love is not supposed to be selfish.

The end.

Evolving and Regressing

I grew up thinking if I was a good person and didn’t make any mistakes nothing bad would happen to me. I blamed myself when bad things happened.  If I didn’t do or think that one thing I wasn’t supposed to this surely would not have ever happened. I admit, there are still times I get caught up with this sort of thinking.

I go to the Word, I pray, and I am reminded of God’s love. I am reminded Christianity is not about perfection. We are all sinners and we can’t earn an untainted life in this crazy world we live in.

This world is crazy, isn’t it? But then, turn the pages of history and you will see it always has been. There are things about the present times that make me so very proud to be living in the now. There are things of past times I wish I could bring back. Our life expectancy and quality of life is better, but stress and anxiety seems to strike us all more than ever. Would you choose the simplicity of the good old days over the conveniences of today?  Look at all the knowledge right at our fingertips.  Then, think of the days we didn’t have all the distractions.

I think we will always be evolving and regressing simultaneously.

That is life in the sinful world. We can work all we want but sin will always emerge. I know people may not want to hear this and I truly am not a negative person (I’m usually too positive). But this truth, guys. It is the reason we need to never give up trying to spread the gospel. We can never evolve enough to not need Christ. I’m not saying to throw our hands up and succumb to our sinful nature…of course we shouldn’t do that. We will never be perfect, though. Our lives will never be perfect!

I think of other religions and even some Christians (who totally miss the point of the cross…like I used to) and how they have to earn their salvation. No!  Christ suffered and died on the cross because we suck and could never do it on our own. Yes, I just said we all suck. We really do. But, we have a God who still loves us despite our sucky-ness. When He looks at us He sees Christ…he really does. Which, we totally don’t deserve. So, let us all take a moment and thank the Lord for what He did for us.

The end.

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