Friday, February 28, 2014

all believers together and a new van

About two weeks ago we got a new van.  But we didn't go somewhere, pick it out, take out monthly payments, or test drive anything.  No, I turned and looked out my front window one evening and there it was.  Sitting, shiny and bright, in my driveway.  And our friends said to us, it's yours.  

Someone anonymously gave us a van.  Gave. Us. A. Van.  A brand new off the lot 2014 Honda Oddessey.

We were and still are slightly dumbfounded by it all.  Amazed, humbled, thankful...these words hardly scratch the surface of what we've been processing.  I think the only words out of my mouth, through tears, for the first couple of hours were, 

"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!  Who gives someone  a van? Oh my goodness!"

And repeat.  

One beautiful Scripture God has brought to mind as we've been reflecting on this new van is from Acts 2:42-47,

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved." 

As we pondered in awe over and over again, who would give us a van?, I found my answer in these verses.  All the believers were together, had everything in common, sold and gave to anyone who had need.  

It is simple and beautiful and in a hard and dark world people are living and breathing the life of Christ with others.  

It makes no difference who has what, who needs more, who has more.  What these believers had in common was devotion to their Savior.  Stuff was interchangeable and dispensable.  The love of Christ was filling their lives.  And it was so clearly evident to others and people were drawn to follow Jesus daily.  And they lived together with glad and sincere hearts.  No comparison, no jealousy, no shame for having less or pride for having more, no "faking" it.  

Sincere, loving, generous hearts.  

Somewhere out there, someone has shown this kind of living to us.  This kind of sincere, loving, and generous heart.  We didn't do something to deserve this gift; just as we don't deserve the kindness and mercy of God towards us.  But He is Good and He is Love.  And so we thank Him and ask that we might live our lives with sincere hearts that seek more for His glory than worldly pleasures.  

And to the one who gave us a van, we say thank you.  Thank you for your gift and thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to us.  

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

a lost tooth and something new found

My big girl Madeline lost her tooth this week.  This is a first in our household.  It's been wiggling for a few days now and all of us have been eagerly anticipating this together.  And her joy! It's just the sweetest, most genuine joy!  She is giggly and grins so big.  It just makes me love her all the more.

Since Madeline was born we've prayed for her to know Jesus.  She has such an intricate little heart and mind and getting to know her is such a blessing and challenge to me.  She has asked questions about Jesus, sin, Satan, grace.  We've read countless Bible stories with her and watched her curiosity grow, her understanding deepen, her imagination take off into the stories.  She is sensitive and emotional and dramatic and intense.  Beautiful.  Strong.  Passionate.

When she messes up, we call it sin.  We sit together and she processes with me.  Crying and wondering why she keeps messing up, telling me she doesn't know how to stop when she gets frustrated, falling into my arms overcome with remorse.  We speak grace and forgiveness and pray.  It is a beautiful battle that we are in with her.  Watching her first attempts to walk in faith.  

A few weeks ago Madeline sat through church with us.  We take communion weekly and she walked back with us.  She has done this before and we've never let her take communion but this time was different.  She asked if she could.  At first I said no, but I could tell she wanted to talk.  So we moved to the back and I told her that communion was something we did not just because we believe Jesus is real, but because we know we need Him to rescue us.  I asked her what she thought of all that.  She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said that's what she believes.  It was quiet and sweet.  I pushed a bit.  Tell me what you mean, I asked.  And she did.  Very shyly she told me that she knows she needs Jesus and she wants to follow Him and that is why she wants to take communion.  I had no words.  I asked her if we could pray together so we did.  Then I told her she should talk to Jesus as well, and she did, and she cried as she prayed.  And I had the privilege of taking her first communion with her.

It is a moment etched in my heart.

What does she understand?  What does this all mean?  I don't really know. But what I do know is this-in her heart and mind, in all she knows and understands, she wants to follow Jesus today.  She knows she needs Him.  So we rejoiced with her, hugged, and smiled.  When I put her to bed that night I asked her if she had thought any about what she had talked with Jesus about at church.  She said yes but didn't elaborate.  I sat in bed with her and we prayed and afterwards she told me that the reason she knew she really loved Jesus and wanted to follow Him was that every time we talked about it it would make her cry.  It was the sweetest moment with her.  Hearing her voice and heart spill out in joy and tears.  She is so much like me in how she processes so I know exactly what she means when she says that.  A few days later we bought her a new Bible, put her name on it, and read together.

I couldn't be more thankful to get to walk this road of faith with my sweet girl and pray for many, many more conversations and prayers that bring us closer to Jesus.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

why I get so mad at my garage door

We have lived in our home for over three years now.  We try to live fairly simply, not focus on our "stuff" or invest in things that don't matter.  That statement, along with the fact that we 1. aren't handy, and 2. have 8 people in our home and therefore no time to focus on much else, are what generally dictate what gets worked on in our house and what doesn't.  Back to the point, which is, our garage door has been mostly broken for a long, long time.  We have a one car garage so this really only matters to me, the one whose van gets the garage spot.  In order to open or shut the garage door one must push the button, wait while it opens a bit and then stops, push it again, wait while it lowers a bit and madly push the button over and over in hopes that it will raise.  If not, just try again.  And again.  People, it's cold outside, there is ice on the driveway, I have four kids, a wheelchair, blah, blah, blah...  I've been annoyed, to say the least.    

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure children of God, in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life." Philippians 2:14-16

Bam.  Sometimes those little verses you say to your children throughout the day smack you right back in the face.  I know we all know we should not complain.  But have you ever tried this?  Once Andrew & I attempted to see if we could make it an entire day without a complaint pouring forth from our lips.  I won't say if we succeeded or not, you just try it for yourself.  

So here I am, frustrated beyond words over a garage door.  Whining, complaining, whining, complaining.  And I see no reason I shouldn't.  It is after all, fairly significant to my life.  Can't it just work properly?  

What an overwhelmingly discouraging reflection of my heart!  I claim contentment with my life: our belongings, my mama job, my status before others.  Yet all it takes is something small to wedge its little way into my heart and mind and all contentment is lost.  Replaced with complaints, comparisons, insecurities.  

You want to know the crazy thing?  All it took was a can of WD-40 and a little time and the door was working smoothly again.  

What is the WD-40 for my heart?  

The battle in my heart is in the little things.  It's in the morning when I wake up and choose to spend time in the Word.  Or in the shower when I spend 5 minutes in prayer.  It's while I am cooking and reading with the kids and listening to worship music in the background.  These are the moments that prepare me for the battles.  So that when I could lose my patience, I don't.  When I want to hold back forgiveness, but instead I give it.  When I need to say I'm sorry and I do.  

Jesus.  He is how I grease my squeaky, broken heart.  

Time with Him, transformed by Him, walking with Him.  

What in your heart needs some greasing?  Will you let Him in? 

Monday, February 10, 2014

don't forget you were carried to the table

somedays and weeks and hours you just need to remember.

this is my day, my week.  life is pressing in and i am feeling weak.  my sin and flesh are edging out victory in my heart, mind and actions.  i am losing patience, being rude and short with my children.  i am frustrated with my inability to figure things out.  i am not gracious where grace is needed.  i am relying on my own strength even when i know it's impossible and fruitless.  

remember your shattered state.  remember the feeling of lost.  remember the weakness that drew you to your knees in the first place.  

i need to remind myself all the more in these moments that i am not enough.  i am not all sufficient.  i am nothing.  but He most certainly isn't.  

remembering makes space and time to see all over again the beauty and glory of the King and His rescue of you.  

Glory.  He certainly is good.  

summoned by the King, into the Master's courts.  
carried to the table, seated where you don't belong.  
in His holy presence, i'm healed and unashamed.

Wounded and forsaken 
I was shattered by the fall 
Broken and forgotten 
Feeling lost and all alone 
Summoned by the King 
Into the Master's courts 
Lifted by the Savior 
And cradled in His arms 

I was carried to the table 
Seated where I don't belong 
Carried to the table 
Swept away by His love 
And I don't see my brokenness anymore 
When I'm seated at the table of the Lord 
I'm carried to the table 
The table of the Lord 

Fighting thoughts of fear 
And wondering why He called my name 
Am I good enough to share this cup 
This world has left me lame 
Even in my weakness 
The Savior called my name 
In His Holy presence 
I'm healed and unashamed 

You carried me, my God 
You carried me

Monday, February 3, 2014

Marriage Letters: Once Upon a Time


Once upon a time we were babies getting married.  It's been around 11 years.  I know because I asked you the other day when I couldn't remember.

On our wedding day, I walked my 20 year old self down the aisle to you.  Hoping mostly for the moments of our marriage to be good, fun, godly, exciting-and also not to pee my pants.  We were eager and excited for our future.  We lived in our tiny house, spend about $70 a month on our groceries, had a land line and dial up internet.  You worked for Keith & I went to school.

On our wedding day, I didn't even know to hope for what has actually come.  I don't count that as missing out then, I just count it now as the unbelievable grace and goodness of God to do so much more than my little heart and mind could imagine to hope for.  I hoped for goodness, He has given us a deep and hard fought for friendship.  I hoped for fun and laughter and He has given us joy that surpasses our moments.  I hoped for godliness, but really just through an easy path I was sure, and He has broken and repaired and shaped us so much that we can't help but love Him.  As for exciting?  Well, there are no words for that one.  We are sleep deprived, we balance our weekly calenders every Saturday night, we track our spending meticulously, we hang on a planned date night that is several weeks out, you go to work, I stay home, we hit all our kids scheduled appointments and activities, and I really couldn't ask for a more exciting life.

Some people see us as crazy, some say they could never do what we are doing, and some wouldn't want our life at all.  But we know we only live our life, our marriage, our parenting, our everything, because God has called us to, and He alone equips us to.  You have pursued Jesus like crazy, which leads me to, which leads our family to, which is the only reason we are making this whole thing work.  So thank you.

We are older, have more wrinkles and have grown a lot.  But I hope we never lose our eagerness for each other, our family, our future.  Love ya,


My friend Amber is writing Marriage Letters on her blog each month.  Go read over there & be encouraged!