“God is the best house to live in.” (Oliver age 5)
Driving fast down an old dirt road, I kept glancing in the mirror at my kids in the backseat. Their eyes told me their discomfort was rising. My husband’s tension was evident by his firm grip on the wheel. The low tire pressure alert lit up on the dashboard. We just wanted to get to where we were going. We had too many things to do. We kept going.
Soon, we could feel the tire wouldn’t last much longer. We stopped at a gas station and filled it with more air. The old dirt road once again wore the tire down. I reached over for my husband’s arm. When his eyes met mine, we nodded without saying a word. We pulled over to the side of the road.
I told the kids to get out of the car. “But mom, we have things to do,” my oldest said.
“I know son, but we cannot keep driving on a tire that keeps losing air. It must be fixed. Everything else will have to wait,” I said as I pulled him close and kissed the top of his head.
My husband began working on the tire. I laid a blanket down in the grass and sat patiently with the boys. Instinctively, the boys quickly fell into the rhythm of waiting. At times, my husband took a break from his work and we simply existed together as a family. Time slowed down. With the slowing down, our vision cleared and our hearts began to beat as one.
Once the worn down tire was fixed, we realized the other tires needed work as well. Once the work was done, we climbed back in and continued on our journey. Feeling refreshed, renewed, and refocused, a sense of freedom and peace overcame us…
Today, we roll down our windows and breathe in the fresh air. There is strong admiration of the scenery and no sense of hurry. We turn down the road of 2018 feeling like a new shiny car that is full of hope, love, and excitement.
The love in a family makes it possible to endure a year like 2016. The love of God is what gives us the guidance to stop and be still––so we can gather the strength needed for the journey He intends for us. I thank you, God.
Three years ago today, my grandma died. I had a dream about her last night and her presence was so clear that when I woke up it took time to realize it was a dream. Her death came rushing back in my mind. The pain was as fresh as it was that day. I have felt it all day too.
She had a way about her that always made you think of God and living life as a christian. Years of her life were spent working in the church and she loved it. I remember people talking about her at her funeral and to hear what an impact she had on so many people’s life made me even more proud to have her as my grandma.
My other grandma’s sister died a couple days ago and her funeral is today. As a kid, we would go visit my great-grandma and her in West Virginia every summer. It was always my favorite vacation. I can still hear the gravel under the tires as we pulled into her driveway and the creaking of her screen door as we opened it ever so quickly. The smell of her home and food cooking will never fade from my mind. Her smile was always sincere and her strength shone through every part of her. Always, I would quickly say my hellos and run out the door and across the road to see Aunt Opal. She was my grandma’s sister/best friend and I always felt close to her. She knew everything about me because my grandma told her everything. There was always a little part of me that ached for a sister like that. I do have that with my mom, I realize. As a kid, though, my mom was my mom and we couldn’t have what we have now.
Anyhow, my Aunt Opal had a back porch where we would hang out. I would listen to her talk and I never grew weary of her stories. She was a strong, wise, and caring lady. I loved being over there and occasionally I would spend the night. It made me feel special and I loved the break from my brothers. Ah, such fond memories.
My grandma and Aunt Opal’s bond held each other through all times. The day my grandma died, we felt as though she was holding on for some reason. We called Aunt Opal and held the phone to my grandma’s ear. We knew that was it––that was what she needed. Shortly after, she peacefully passed. It was beautiful and gave me peace on the saddest day of my life.
Today, I am sad as I think of my grandmas. Christmas time is not the same without them. Heck, life is not the same. Every one of them taught me so much and they reinforce why I am who I am. There are times when I think about what I should do in life or in a situation. I see one of their faces. I hear their words and stories as I sip my coffee or make dinner. I know how blessed I am to have had such lovely ladies to guide me.
Today, I also anxiously wait for a niece to be born. It will no longer just be a day of sorrow. It will be a day of celebrating a birth.
Typing this reminded me how life has a way of carrying on and bringing along those no longer with us as though they still remain. It is simply beautiful, isn’t it?
The conference began with a huge smile from Luke’s teacher. The teacher consultant walked in and sat down. She began with a huge smile on her face, as well.
“Luke is just a neat kid, ” she said.
“He really is. I was so excited when I found out he was going to be my student this year because I had heard what a neat kid he is,” his teacher replied.
Luke is a neat kid. I never really would have thought to use that word, but it fits him. The remainder of his conference was uneventful, just the usual run-through of his vision problems.
As we were leaving, we decided to say hi to another staff member who works with Luke. She had a smile on her face and said she was happy we stopped by––she had a story to tell us. Luke had made her month by helping another student (not a friend) who was having a hard time with another kid at recess. He came up with an idea that he and some others would go together at recess that day and talk to the kid. Luke also suggested that they could all play together after. When I put myself in the mind of an eight-year-old, this is a huge thing. To help someone who is struggling and to play at recess with someone you wouldn’t normally play with shows how amazing my kid is. The last thing she said was what a natural leader Luke is. I know he is, I really do. Yet, sometimes in the midst of all my parenting, I forget and overlook this.
Luke is a good student and I love that he is. He is more than a good student, though. He is a neat kid. The kind that makes teachers excited to have him in their class. He is a natural leader. The type of leader who looks out for others. He is more than my son, as well. He is a friend to many. The kind of friend who is kind and accepting. He is more than I ever imagined my child could be and more than I could ever take credit for. He is Luke, and in this world that is cruel and selfish, it is a great thing to be a “Luke”.
Uncertain whether or not I should watch, I almost turned it off. I felt like I was intruding on the last real worship service they shared. Guilt crept in seeing people who had no idea what they would endure a week later. I felt a pulling to continue. The guilt turned into something I cannot quite put into words. It became a privilege and duty, I guess is the best I can describe it. These people who I have never met are my brothers and sisters in Christ. This was them, it is me, it is us every Sunday.
Thus, I sat waiting in my car for my kids to get out of school––my eyes glued to my phone. I heard the song. My heart fluttered and I had to pause the video. My mind took me back to yesterday at church when the very same song was sang. I was standing, swaying, and softly singing. I looked down and watched my beautiful five-year-old standing, swaying, and softly singing just like me. I looked up and saw many others standing, swaying, and singing. Worship. Beautiful pure worship. I pressed play and watched First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs standing, swaying, and singing to the same song. That very same song, because I loved watching my son earlier, was also replayed (a few times) last night as I cooked dinner. The song was 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman. I never thought it could have an even deeper meaning to me, as it does now.
Listening and taking in the words of this song as I mourn with those who survived, I cannot help but to also close my eyes and picture those who did not survive as having joined our “cloud of witnesses”. I ask myself, what would they want us to do? I believe they would want us to keep on singing, just as this beautiful song says.
As I continue to reflect and mourn on this horrific event, I will listen to this song over and over again. I will stand, sway, and sing. Maybe I will even sing louder in an act of defiance to show Satan the darkness will not and cannot overcome. Will you join me?
I’ve been staring at this blank page for quite some time. I type a few words. I read the words aloud and then my finger presses the delete button in a somewhat melodic tune. The process repeats itself. I’m not even sure if it is that I cannot find the right words or if a habit has been formed. I am going to force myself to break through the silence of this page and only press the delete button for editing purposes. Maybe freely sifting through my thoughts is what I need…
I talked to my mom today on some things that have been weighing on me as of late. As I sipped on my coffee and listened, I wondered how I went through my mid to late teen years thinking I didn’t need her advice as much as I actually did. Simple and yet profound is the wisdom she gives. Never has she leaned toward worldly ways. There’s always a following of the Holy Spirit and a confidence that God carries you where you need to be when you trust and obey. Sometimes, I just need to hear my momma say what I already know. I already know because I had her to show me.
There are times when we can’t see beyond the surface and we aren’t supposed to. Maybe we can’t see because it places the control on us, instead of on God. We have to trust in His ways, His timing, and His pulling or pushing.
I found an old journal the other day as I was going through boxes. The first entry spoke of Matt and “what a great guy he is and how I hope to marry him one day.” Another journal was when he proposed to me. One was when I was pregnant. The last was when Luke was ten months old. I read some of the entries to Luke and it was such a great bonding moment. It may be my inspiration for writing this post as well.
My dog is flatulent. I mean, it is beyond normal dog gas. The smell is about to make me pass out. If I start rambling nonsense, it is probably from the toxic fumes.
My blog. I don’t know where to take it next. I feel like I’m being led somewhere, I just don’t know where yet. thats is why I haven’t had as many posts. I need to do some more praying.
It is a bit crazy to watch your kids grow into themselves. I watched my oldest with a special needs kid the other day. His patience and compassion beamed through. There was not one glimpse of him feeling like he had to, it was Luke being Luke.
Between talking to my mom and rambling on in this post, I feel much better. Thanks, blog!
Thinking of my own zeal, a zeal that I sometimes could turn down a notch, I can see Paul and his mission better. Inspiration whirls through my soul and my hope is that it can whirl through yours as well…
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV) Those words reawakened my faith as an adult. It was an ‘aha’ moment where all my questions and all the things that didn’t quite make sense took flight––never to be seen again. That was the moment I was brought back to the true Gospel.
When I think of Paul coming from the background of being a Pharisee, it makes sense. Although, Ephesians 2:8-9 are not the main verses weighing on me, they tie together my point and show how strongly I can relate to Paul. I feel the power in his words and can imagine how he felt as he wrote them. I see him writing those words and then pausing for a moment to bask in the peace those words bring.
Galatians 1 was the focus for bible study last week. I opened my bible and instead of listening as I should have been, I saw the underlined words I felt were important to remember at some point in my life. Those words carried me into my own mind.
“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” (Galatians 1:1) I don’t remember why or when I wanted to remember that verse, but it somehow brings more depth not knowing. Sent not by man are good words to remember and they bring me a strength I cannot hold on my own.
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7) I had this part highlighted. It is clear that we live in a world where the gospel is confused, twisted, and denied in different ways. I realize we are sinners and never will be perfect. The things is, the gospel is the core of christianity. There are too many that simply get it wrong. They forget about grace to the point they are diminishing the power of the cross. They are instead (and maybe not intentionally) trying to carry the power in their own pockets.
“…my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” (Galatians 1:16) My uneven blue inked line told me I had quickly wanted to remember those words. Maybe it was because I was engrossed in the words that followed, but knew I wanted to remember those as well. We need to hear this every day of our lives. When we feel the Holy Spirit is leading us to do something, how many times do we immediately do it? How many times do we seek validation from man instead of God?
Galatians 1 is packed full of insight, obviously. More than that, it shows our present world and our present struggle as Christians. Christians are being divided and christianity is under a a microscope. I think if we are honest, we can see that in some ways it should be. Many have strayed. Many are bound by the chains of losing sight of the truth. Be a Paul in someone’s life and point them back to the true meaning of the Gospel. Bring them back to freedom.
I meet you at the foot of the tree,
where you can lean your weary soul.
Feel the power of the shade it provides.
And, strength of the hope it gives.
The tree will never fail or fall.
No matter how the strong winds blow.
There are woodlands of other enticing trees.
There implies, in My tree lies a dreadful desert.
I tell you, they’re nothing but wrong.
Here in this humble tree,
lies all the pasture you’ll ever need.
Please, come sit back down with Me.
Hold dear––you are under My wing,
of the tree where I shed my blood for thee.
I’m easy like Sunday morning…
That song popped up in my head this morning. I guess it goes to show how much sarcasm is simply wired in my brain. Oh boy, at least I make myself laugh. ‘Cause let me tell you, this lovely Sunday morning started out as anything but easy.
My youngest had a hard time staying in his Sunday school class. We eventually bribed him. Mom of the year award, right? He eventually walked in the classroom and plopped on the floor with his arms crossed. Just as sarcasm flows through my veins, stubbornness flows through Oliver’s. At least he isn’t crying, I thought and off I went to meet Matt to head to our bible class. After I checked on him a couple more times, that is.
After dealing with that, we weren’t eager to get to class. We went, of course. It took a few minutes and a few deep breaths to be able to focus. The subject was on slowing down, something I actually just blogged on recently. Gotta love the way God reinforces things for us. There is something about slowing down that sometimes leads us to feel guilty. We shouldn’t, but it’s as though we feel we can’t say no. We feel like we are being lazy if our calendars aren’t filled to the brim. Anyway, the leader even had all of us stop and sit silently for a full minute. Powerful to think of a room full of adults in complete silence.
After class and before worship started, Matt whispered how he was glad we went to class this morning. I nodded and added how funny it is that Satan works hard on those Sunday mornings when you really need to hear something. Satan sure is a jerk!
Like I have said before. Don’t just turn to God. Turn away to God. Turn away from the busyness, the distractions, and all the other noise of this world. When we don’t stop and sit at the feet of Jesus––when we don’t stop and study His word––just think of what we are really missing. His still small voice is what we are missing and that is what we need more than anything in this crazy world.
Scattered heavy raindrops began to fall from the sky as I played in a nearby tennis court with my friends during our brothers baseball game. Slowly, the sporadic rain turned into a steady rainfall. My friends and I lifted our arms high and tilted our heads back as we allowed the rain to land in our open mouths. I remember the laughter that flowed from us and the glances that bonded us in that moment. Time slowed and we were nothing else but free.
Sitting here thinking of that moment, I can almost feel the same freedom I felt that day. I believe if it were to start raining right now I would want to run outside and try to relive it. I wouldn’t actually do it though. Well, unless my kids were with me. I would feel like an idiot standing in the rain by myself.
We all yearn for freedom. Look at the world around you. People are always seeking and fighting for it. Or, they’re in pain because they can’t find it or simply don’t have the strength to fight for it. What I see are people clinging to the the wrong kind of freedom or things that are not freedom at all. They just think or hope it is. Because those freedoms are always in exchange for something else. I wonder if deep down they feel a void knowing it isn’t what they really need to be seeking. Those freedoms are only temporary, they are shallow puddles that will soon dry.
Like me standing in the rain. That free feeling ceased. My friends and I became bored and cold. I remember having no towel in the car and I couldn’t wait to get home to change into dry clothes. Dry socks never felt so good. The rain was a fleeting childhood freedom. Some of my best memories surround such freedoms. Childhood freedoms, although innocent and pure, will never give us what we need.
There is only one real freedom in this life and that is freedom in Christ. Many of us “adult” christians know this already. Yet, we hesitate like I do when the thought of playing in the rain crosses my mind. Why can’t we fully embrace this freedom? We’re all sinners, duh. I wonder though…what would happen if we started running and clinging to Him like a child, regardless of what sin was standing in the way? Childlike faith, I believe it’s called (wink wink).
Would we better sway people away from the false freedoms they are rooted in if they saw us clinging more to the truth our hearts hold so dear? I think about my kids and the type of faith I want them to carry throughout their lives. I picture them standing in the rain with their arms up high and heads tilted back because they know freedom, real freedom, never will cease.