Thursday, April 30, 2009

My First Mother's Day

It’s my first mother’s day. I didn’t know I’d be so excited or care so much about such a day. Better yet, I didn’t know I’d be so proud to be able to celebrate the holiday. I mean, seriously. It’s the holiday of cheesy gifts. You know what I mean, the cheesy sweatshirts that say “#1 Mom” on them... or a fern. That’s a gift every mom wants. Personally, never before would I have even considered wearing some kind of “mom” shirt --- November 3rd has come and gone and now, well, if I could find one trendy enough, I may heed the opportunity. Better yet, I asked for Bryton’s gift for my mother’s day to be an Old Navy shirt that I found for him that had a foam finger on it that said “Mom’s #1 Fan”, with “Mother’s Day 2009” underneath it. I’m really looking forward to some pictures of him in that. It’ll do until little league when I can be like all of the other crazy mom’s in the world and have the acceptable mom shirts... you know, the same shirt that all of the kids have except mine says in big letters “BRYTON’S MOM’ on the back, with, of course, his number underneath. Awww, motherhood.
I don’t know, there’s just something exciting about it. I almost feel as if I’ve been allowed into a secret club that I didn’t even realize existed or that I was missing out on until I was initiated in. Just as there is no feeling like marriage and being a newlywed, there is no feeling like being a parent...
It’s work. Please don’t get me wrong. But it’s not work I would trade for any kind of liberty, be it personal freedoms, relational freedoms, even financial freedoms. For, the advantages and benefits of this role far outweigh the costs!
There are just certain parts of my day now that I can’t believe I went so long without, particularly, the morning. Walking into his room in the morning and bending over his crib to have this little person smile at me with such sincerity, well, as I type this it brings tears to my eyes.
You know in our world of “plastic people”, we smile at everyone out of obligation... our lives our too busy... we have too many things to do to stop and talk, or to even share a smile... but during the eight o’clock hour, this little boy, because he wants to, shows me probably the greatest means of affection I’ll probably ever know this side of heaven... a big, cheesy, gummy grin, simply because at that particular moment I’m exactly the person he wants to see. I have satisfied him, simply with my presence. Isn’t that what every girl wants? To be loved and adored simply by being present. He satisfies an innate desire in my heart, all with a smile. It is really nothing short of a miracle.
I cherish it now, before the backtalking and grounding stage, though I’m sure at that point there will be another trait to adore about him. But for now, I heed mother’s day. What a celebration... mothers – I’d be lying if I said they didn’t work hard, but we are so richly blessed, and to have a day where we can celebrate our blessings... well, that in itself is a blessing. For me, I am honored at the opportunity to be celebrated, but am more excited to celebrate for myself this beautiful family that God has so blessed me with. Bryton and his daddy, such blessings. My first mother’s day... it’s really a very sweet fragrance and I am both excited and honored to be included in such a celebration.

Trying to Get Our Attention - 1 Life to Live

I sometimes get sad during conversations. That is a difficult statement to start with, because currently you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about. Here's an example:
Aaron: (after a particular really nice car comes on tv) Honey, can I have one of those?
Me: When we get rich.
Aaron: Well, maybe in another life, because I don't think you and I will ever be that rich.
Don't get me wrong... it's not a greedy plea, because it really had nothing to do with the abundance of money or the lack thereof that made me sad. It was the reality that, as he said in not so many words, we have only one life. One life to experience all of the things we want to experience, one life to help all of those we want to help, one life to have all of the children we'll ever have, one life to see them get to grow up, one chance at having a career you feel fulfilled in.... one life. Ha, just writing that reminds me of a t-shirt I have.... it's my favorite. It has an outline of Africa on the back of it and says, "You have 1 life... do something." Five words and a number.... very powerful.
It makes me think of all of the people in dead end jobs... living paycheck to paycheck, hating their work. And all of those people dying of Aids or malnutrition in other countries... this is their one life. It reminds me of all of those people battling depression, tangled in their own self hate and darkness... this is their one life. It reminds me of myself... wishing I knew the answer to where my career path was... hating the fact that my little boy is growing up so quickly, praying I have the opportunity to have another, realizing... I only get this one opportunity, and when it passes, it's gone.
One life. Most specifically, what this blog is really about, it reminds me of a particular family member. I won't name any names, and in fact, I'll be quite vague, but this individual has had a really tough go.
In a nutshell:
He hee hummed around and lost the love of his life, settled for less, produced the new love of his life (a child from this particular marriage), got a divorce, has been under his ex's thumbnail for many years, has lost job after job after job (one for sure at his own fault, the other's not so much), has caught himself in the web of gambling... has struggled with depression, and has currently realized that this is his life. He's writing a book, and as it sits, it's a depressing drama unfolding before his eyes. If there's cards to be dealt, he's been dealt all of the wrong ones.
So what's up with this? There's this 'loving' God out there who cares about us, wants what is best for us, is looking out for us, and the one life that this particular individual gets dealt is bunk. What's up with this?
In this individual's instance, I wonder if God is trying to get his attention. He's not a believer, so he doesn't share in the joy and blessings that comes with knowing Jesus as his savior, so I want to say that God is waving red flags all over town trying to get this man to go, "Oh."
But what about in the life of the child born HIV+, what about in the life of the believer... the modern day Lot? What is God doing with their one life?
It's something I've pondered a lot lately. I know that God makes good of all situations... but it's just something to ponder.
And then it's something to act upon. This is our one shot... it's our one shot to get it right... we don't get a do-over after this life is over. God is the God of "do-overs" in the midst of life, but after our life is done... it's done. What are you doing with your one life? Do something.

What's It All About

I'm a sucker for curriculum. Well, for those of you who know me, I'm just a sucker for good writing and good ideas that communicate faith well... so when that comes in the form of curriculum, I'm a sucker.
I like everything about it. I like reading it, the way it's packaged, the cover, I even like how it smells. It's that new book smell or something. But there is one thing I don't like about it; we tend to get tangled up in it... often.
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the studies, the rigmarole that comes with 'ministry,' particularly, youth ministry, and I've come to a conclusion. I think sometimes we do too much studying, too much talking, and not enough ministry. We find it easy to sit in on a Sunday morning service, Sunday evening fellowship, and Wednesday night small group and do what we do best... soak up stuff (or fill a seat, depending on who you are), and talk, amongst ourselves, but when it comes to actually getting into the world and loving people, or even more than that, just loving the people who are already in our world, we, well, we fail, miserably.
I noticed this in a restaurant recently. The restaurant was busy, and well, our group, made it busier, much busier. For the first time in my life I felt like God had given me a multiple choice assignment. I had options, and He had made them very clear. I could balk at the fact that I knew it was going to be awhile before our group got in to eat, which would severely set our schedule back, OR I could be a blessing to these people who were now frantic as we were filling their waiting area. Realizing my option, I decided to be the blessing.
I don't say this to pat my own back. Trust me, I've probably chosen poorly most times in the same situation. In fact, I know that I'm not always the best at how I treat people. (Seriously, I think I have road rage... yeesh.) But I realized at this moment... in this restaurant... that every SECOND of our day is an option.... do we balk at life, be rude to that person because, hey, they don't know we're a Christian, be impatient, judge that person because of how they look, or do I be a blessing. You see, being a blessing is ministry. Doing a Bible study is not bad, but it's not ministry. Knowing everything you can about Jesus, not bad, but not ministry. Loving people, that's ministry. Loving people despite where they are, who they are, and what they've done, well, that's Jesus.
So what's it all about? Why do we do those Bible studies? Why do we learn about Jesus? Why do we spend our time talking? It's supposed to be to make us better ministers, but if we aren't doing ministry, we're just wasting our time. I mean Jesus said to make disciple, not to sit around and talk about it all the time. That's what it's all about.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I love Christmas. I love the warm feeling of the house when cookies are baking. I love reading the "Christmas story" from the Bible. I love watching Elf, and being with family, and having a Christmas tree up. I really do love it.
But ahhh, Easter. We have no decorations. We don't always meet with family, and besides the small Easter baskets I make for Aaron and Bryton yearly, there's no hustle and bustle or gifts. I think the lack of the hustle and bustle adds to the celebration. There's little confusing, in our family, what the 'holiday' is about. I cringe at even calling it a "holiday". Easter is not just a day off work. It's not a vacation... it's a celebration. It is the day that our savior was raised from the dead! I think we look past it sometimes. Think about it. A man died and raised from the dead. That is NOT normal! When's the last time you saw it happen? Yeah, it doesn't. It's a big deal. It' so easy when we celebrate "church" and "faith" to overlook the pillars of it... and let's face it -- without Resurrection Sunday, we are, well, nothing. True, Christ's blood cleanses us from sin, but it's His resurrection that allows us to live eternally. It's His resurrection that gives us life. It's a big deal.
You know, I wish we threw huge parties at church on Easter Sunday. We let the Easter bunny own the holiday. Me, I want to be jumping up and down in the aisles praising God for His Son and for His Son's resurrection on Easter Sunday. I mean, it's Jesus, He's what it's really about. It really brings tears to me eyes. I can't understand how people don't get it.
Here's a little something I wrote recently. I really don't want to post it, it's meant to be heard, not read... but here it is anyway:

Can you see them?
They are moving, darting, running, racing
Chasing after one another to a tomb
Not just any tomb, but the Jesus tomb
The tomb that sat empty before three days ago
Now has been rumored to be empty again
But where did He go?
Where has He gone,
Can it be true that this man of no sin
Could rise from the grave and live once again?
A man, just a baby three decades ago,
Could love and could live
Could serve and could die
And now is it true that he could again be alive?
Is it so?
The man that fed thousands with a few fish and some bread
Could die on a cross and then rise from the dead?
That this man, what a man, could wash feet and speak truth
Could grow and speak and please and heal
Could pray and work and prepare a meal
But not just any meal – the Last Supper
His body, His blood
Poured out for us.
That this sin scarred on me could be washed away clean,
By his wounds we are healed, on that tree where He died
Could wash on the out and heal the inside.
Is it true?
That in John 3:16 that says God loves the world,
That Jesus knew what this love would cost –
for His life to be slain for all who are lost.
A man, what a man –
Selfless, Sinless, Love that’s endless,
Caring beyond comparing
Would lay Himself down – guilty, charged
Bearing the weight of my lust...
Of my greed...
Of my lies...
And deceit...
Of my gossip and hate
That this man who’s so great could humble Himself,
And offer such grace.
And Jesus cried out, “Oh my God, why hath thou forsaken me?”
The rejection He felt,
The anguish of nails,
The weight of the sin,
All to hang there and die for us men.
But Jesus didn’t just die.
He wasn’t a martyr.
Yes He died on that day and was taken away
To a tomb where a stone locked in the dark,
Locked in the death
And a guard, He stood watch.
Day 1, Day 2 both passed away,
But on Day 3 was the race.
Word had spread quickly
the stone had been rolled,
The tomb was not closed,
The body was gone!
And racing to see was Peter and John
who got to the tomb to see folded grave clothes.
And the Jesus we love – No, he didn’t just die
He rose from the grave and gave US new life.
Without resurrection it’s just a hero’s death.
It would be blood to cleanse us but no life within us.
His rising was vital
Death could not win
He was God Himself.
He was perfect,
So that morning in folding the clothes as he left
He dusted his hands of death and it’s sting
Not just for Him, but for you and for me,
That we can be saved from ourselves and from the anguish of Hell
But that we could live –
That we too could be raised!
That when our lives here are done
the people can race because though our bodies will lie
We can live once again, away from the weight and the hurt of our sin,
We can live with the one who died in His love
We can dwell at His feet
Stare at His face
Because this God who loved us
Knew His wrath was so great –
That His son came to live
And die
And be raised.