Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Fine Line

At any given moment, we're walking a fine line.  It doesn't take much variation in our perceptions, actions, reactions, etc., until our line looks like a 3 year old drew all over our paper.   

I find this concept is lingering even in the simplest of things.  

California: I can very easily flip flop between loving and hating this place.
I love that 75% of the time we live in a beautiful, Mediterranean climate and don't have weather extremes most days. Yet, I hate that we pay so much to live in this area and we don't even have air conditioning on the days we do need it! 

I love that I can sit here and watch the fog roll in off the Pacific Ocean.  Yet, if I think about it too much, I get sad about the fact that I rarely hear the roll of thunder.   

I'm so thankful for and adore the group of families that have become like family to us here in California. Yet, I hate that the kids and I can't just run see our actual family in Tennessee anytime we get the urge....which.... is quite often.   

Children: Talk about a tight rope! 
Tending to a new baby is so exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time, especially for new moms.  Those little love muffins fill you with such joy and laughter each day and can drain you of energy and tears... later that day.    

It's like pulling teeth to get information out of our 15 year old twins and the 6 year old has no filter at all....rarely stops talking.   

One twin has a tendency to take things a bit too seriously.  The other twin probably can't spell or give you the definition of serious....at least not with a straight face.   

It's great when the kids are big enough to fix their own snacks.  Then, they eat everything in the house.  

It's so refreshing when I'm able to laugh and discuss life with my teenagers like I would a friend, but my primary role is always to be a parent.  (Let me just tell you, that's a hard row to hoe sometimes.) 

Caring for ourselves and others:  Word to the wise...we can really shank it and get way off course!

Where does being mindful of our own health, exercise, and eating habits cross over into a dark place of obsession, depression, or shaming ourselves and others?  

When does the God given drive to care for our families cross over into keeping up with the Jones's at all costs? 

Deciding between what's good and what's best.

90 mph in the fast lane, but spinning our wheels.   

Christian walk:  
Jesus said it Himself,  "Narrow is the way that leads to life". 
All of our fine line/tight rope situations in life can be worked out in this arena right here.  

James 1:5-8 
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double- minded man, unstable in all his ways. 

James must have been thinking about me with that one...unstable, double minded, wavering, tossed back and forth....not knowing what the right thing is to do.  I am learning to ask for wisdom, though. I may wait too late at times, but I'm asking more and more.  

Lots of fine lines to navigate in our walk of faith.... 

Love the sinner, hate the sin.....Love the things God loves, hate the things He hates.

Count trials as joy.  

Pray for those who persecute you.

We are in the world, but not of the world. 

We are to be salt & light to a dark and hurting world, but operate aware that bad company corrupts good morals.   

I could go on and on and I'm sure you could add quite a list yourself.  So, we’re all aware of the reality that there is so much that can go horribly wrong....and so much that can go beautifully right.  How do we find the balance to err on the side of that beautiful fine line   

Proverbs 3:6  
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.   

It has occurred to me that some of us may be so use to swerving in and out of the fast lanes and around twists and turns that we can't comprehend and accept the simplicity of a straight path.  If so, ponder on that later for sure, but for now...think of it this way..... 

Colossians 1:17 
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 

In Him, ALL things hold together.  My crazy, disarray of thoughts...my family...our future... ALL things. Our families, our minds, our relationships....in Him...ALL things hold together.   ME.  He can hold ME together, regardless of whether I'm trying to find the balance of friend/parent, or whether I'm loving or hating a particular situation.  That is so reassuring.  Now, if I can just keep remembering to ask for wisdom, maybe my lines will take shape and start looking more like Bob Ross's "happy little trees" instead of a toddler's finger paint project. 

Now....in helping us walk the fine line of faith day in and day out...Jesus may actually have us color outside the lines a little, but that's another blog for another day.  :D 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Twas the Night Before Easter

So, I'll admit it... Easter kind of snuck up on me this year.  I was somehow comforted by the fact that, when I went to Rite Aid last night at 9 pm to get candy for Easter baskets, there were MANY moms and dads there doing the last minute thing, too.   I didn't do much decorating this year.....Jude wasn't happy that I didn't decorate much for Easter.  She wanted me to go all out like I do at Christmas, complete with yard decor.  She'll have to settle for spring decor at this point.  I didn't even buy a new a Easter dress for myself this year. Some might start questioning if I'm even from the South! I didn't do much in the way of spiritual preparation like devotions with the kids, either.  This year, I just didn't give the occassion as much thought and preparation as it deserves. 

The Catholics totally get this right, though.  They reflect and prepare their hearts each year and give this it's due place in our personal history.  I, with my protestant self, have done better about this in the past.  This year, as I said, it kind of snuck up on me, though.  As James Macdonald said, "Only in retrospect can we look back and call this "Good Friday." "  Well, it hit me on Good Friday this year that it was almost Easter and we have much to celebrate.  Something came over me and I got my music out and got my worship on.  Jesus' birth is a beautiful scene and it's easy to get into the "Christmas Spirit".  His death, though, is horrible....and beautiful. It's beyond worthy of even more passion.  I went back through each scene and what I got stuck on was how lost His followers were after His death.  Their plight resonated with me almost like I hadn't read it before. 

Yesterday, I couldn't help but think, "If I were to put myself in the place of Jesus' disciples on day 2 of His death, how would I have felt?"  I'd be in the midst of some major despair, lost, confused, and terrified. That was not the way it was supposed to go down.  He was to become King, right all the wrongs, so forth and so on.  He certainly was not to die a brutal, horrible death! They must not have known which end was up at this point.  Yet, God was working.  As I look at the news and the terrible acts committed both at home and abroad, it would be easy to feel lost and afraid. Yet, as dark as things may seem in our world sometimes, I know He is working.

Prime example: We had a pastor from the Middle East as a guest pastor a couple of weeks ago. He said that as ugly as ISIS is...and it is ugly....it's because of ISIS that Muslims in Pakistan, all along the Afghanistan border, are leaving their faith and committing their lives to Christ in UNPRECEDENTED, HISTORIC numbers. They've never seen anything like it.  Even in the midst of immense darkness, suffering and upheaval, God is doing FAR more than our small minds can fathom.

How quickly I can turn to despair and forget that He is always working FOR us, not against us.  Is that not common to most of us? Even in the least dire of circumstances, worry creeps in.  ANXIETY takes over.  Anytime the least thing threatens our children, our plans, our finances, our dreams, or even our comfort, we quickly forget and turn to despair instead of Jesus.  I don't blame His followers for despairing the night before what we cheerfully now call, "Easter."  It was a situation worthy of despair.  His death was brutal and ugly....and they never fathomed that would happen.  They didn't have the full picture of the cross like we do.  Maybe some of our situations are worthy of despair, too, and we just don't have the full picture.  Yet, we have promised, everlasting hope this side of the cross.  Could we stop so easily forgetting our hope?   

Beyond Jesus' death and resurrection, nothing in Scripture illustrates this for me like Ezekial 37, The Valley of Dry Bones. It's my favorite passage in the Old Testament.  He restored those dry bones, complete with new tendons and flesh, then resurrected an army out of them.  DRY BONES, people....He was working with DRY BONES.  The chapter goes on to describe how He will restore Israel and the new "covenant of peace" He will have with His people.  Enter....Jesus.  

So, this Easter, in our daily anxiety, frustrated plans, or even in our own valley of dry bones or despair, may we be freshly reminded just how much we are loved and remember that NOTHING is beyond His restoring, resurrecting power to bring about good.  Today, I can't think of anything "gooder", as my little Jude would say, than my sin debt being paid in full and the hope that whatever goes on in this world....thanks to Christ's sacrifice for me....it is not my home.  

With much love, I wish all of you "peeps" near and far, a very Happy Easter!!

"For God SOOO loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosever believes in Him, shall not perish....but have everlasting life." ~ John 3:16
"The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  I came that they may have life, and have it to the full." ~ John 10:10