Sugar Nothings

I want to subtitle this “…And Other Sweet Things That Disintegrate at the Mere Hint of Pressure”

Today I saw that my house is for sale again. The house where my children’s nurseries were carefully planned and decorated, where holidays and parties were a joy to host. The yard where we ran through bubbles and planted Easter Egg plants just to see if they would grow (they did!). There were no arguments there. This was the beautiful place my marriage just disintegrated, like a sand sculpture gripped too tightly. Like sugar nothings, treats my mom used to make that would crumble at the touch.

Looking at the pictures struck a chord of deep sadness for me. The rooms still wear my paint. My murals are still on the play room walls, and the stage we built from scratch is still shiny. My curtains, even the ones in my babies’ rooms, are still hanging.

Today I cried over my past in a way I had not before. It was more than regret, though God knows I have yet to forgive myself for allowing my family to fall apart. This cry was from a deep, aching grief. How is it I have not dealt with this yet?? Oh God, if I had known you then…

The what ifs and self-condemnation are ready and eager to torment. But I choose to let the voice of truth speak today: I am here now. I am whole now. I am forgiven.

He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
Psalm 103:9-14

 

Broken

This week has been brutal! It’s been physically, emotionally, and spiritually challenging.

I went through a class this week. This time through, I discovered about 10 more inner vows and judgments that have colored the way I see and operate in this life (things like “I must either be perfect or not try at all”, or “I will never truly be loved or understood”). Seriously?? A friend of mine said it best, it’s like God is taking her back to the beginning. There is yet another round of layers to peel, starting from another place. I’m finally realizing, with a smile, there is no end to this onion.

So today I feel raw and exposed…and I’m so thankful for this place of brokenness where true life is born. Every round of this takes me closer to who I was created to be. Closer to him.

Today is Palm Sunday, and I can’t help but reflect on Jesus’ last week as a man. Talk about a physically, emotionally, and spiritually brutal week… It doesn’t minimize the suffering I am experiencing. It magnifies his.

He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.
Isaiah 53:3-6

You Talking To Me?

My son and I have a joke. There are times that he’ll be sharing something with me and the delivery will go long or, quite often, he’ll raise a topic I don’t feel prepared to deal with at the moment. Sometimes I just turn, look at him blankly, and say, “You talking to me?”

I say it’s a joke, but really it’s my lighthearted way to press the Pause button.

This came to mind when I read about Stephen, on trial for preaching the gospel. At one point, he calls the Council of high priests “deaf to the truth” (Acts 7:51 NLT). Here’s what happened next:

The leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting.
Acts 7:54-57

Radical changes in underlying beliefs (and lots of pre-teen conversations) require a Pause button. Pausing is one thing, but Muting is another. Any of us with a sibling has done that before… “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!”  I can totally relate to them.

Questioning what we think we know is really hard. It’s brutal (I believe almost impossible) when religion is involved. Especially if you’re an expert. It’s made me wonder what truths I’m tuning out, out of fear or inconvenience. I am thankful for the courage to pray for more courage to explore and confront old ways of thinking. I am thankful that “he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf” (Isaiah 35:5). I am thankful he waited for me all those years I had my hands over my ears. There is a lot of hope in that.

Hidden Manna

There is a real heaviness in my heart.

Which is a weird feeling, being so full of joy and thankfulness…

I’ve been excited to see life through the new lenses! Breathlessly watching as the mists settle into shape, focus, and…eeewww. Oh. I do not like what I see. I almost wish I hadn’t put these glasses on; almost wish I could just quietly tiptoe back through the door I so boldly walked through.

What was I expecting? Something fun and pretty? Maybe so.

I was expecting to see things from a new perspective, have an amazing revelation or two, and grow deeper in relationship with the Lord. All of that is happening, just from a very unexpected angle.

I am seeing death. Futility. The shallow, trivial, meaningless things we fill our days with. Time growing short. Talk about a downer.

Yes. An end of days, world desolation, starvation, persecution, no electricity, Hunger Games kind of downer. Just when I start to freak out, making plans to sell everything, raid antique stores, print out survival tips, learn to farm (HA)…he reminds me he is here. This has been done before, though on a smaller scale. We even have the game plan ahead of time, so we can be prepared.

I am really not a weirdo, but it is time to prepare.

To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat.
Revelation 2:17

I find a lot of comfort in that verse … I just hope he’s taken into account the portion sizes of the 21st century!

Message from Pastor Bob Hamp – perfect and timely way to end this!

 

Take Me Deeper

I have a fear of losing control. I have a fear of deep waters.

There are parts of this new life of mine that I have latched onto with a fervor. I love the order of it. I love the meticulous keeping of a budget. I love the rhythm, responsibility, and productivity that the desire for “good stewardship” has brought. These are good things, good fruit.

But in a way, I think I’ve replaced one type of control for another. Before, it was the counterfeit sense of control over my circumstances (which were nevertheless spiralling out of control). Today? To be honest, in some ways it feels like the exact same thing, opposite extreme!

This hit home for me as I waited less than patiently for a promised extension to my work contract.  The increasing level of anxiety as each day passed was my first red flag. Somehow the notion crept in that the simple entering of a date in a database would bring the peace and security I was looking for. The relief that physically washed over my body when the offer came…that was when it became crystal clear. I am still trying to be the source, trying to manipulate life to suit my comfort level, trying to control my circumstances to keep my newly organized world together.

Ezekiel was taken on a walk. It started in water that was ankle deep, then knee high, then to his waist. Finally, they reached deep water, a river “too deep to walk through” (Ezekiel 47:5 NLT). The water represents the holy spirit’s power and presence. I know there is a lot of historical and prophetic meaning in this chapter, but there is an immediate interpretation as well.

Consciously or not, we all choose how deep we are willing to go. Think about it, when you are submerged in water, you simply can’t operate the same way. In order to go deeper, we must give up this notion of controlling our circumstances. (Has it ever worked anyway??) We limit our relationship with, experience of, and effectiveness for Him when we insist on being in control. I want to be swept away…but, honestly, I normally picture that as floating gracefully in an intertube (in a really cute tankini). I don’t like that it means getting my hair wet, not really knowing where I’m going, and probably not looking or feeling very cool while I’m at it. You have to confront and let go of every fear you hold on to. Deep waters are not for the faint of heart.

The further I walk and the more I know of the river, the less interested I am in dipping my toes nonchalantly in the water. I feel this is a year of going deeper for many of us. I find myself still fighting it, but I want to want to dive in!

Where the river flows, life abounds.
Ezekiel 47:9 (MSG)