Monday, 31 March 2014

Thrive

Let me just tell you about this thing called the Cross. It just up and wrecks a person's life. Your expectations. Your plans. Your agenda. What you think is right or wrong. And whatever you think your life should look like. Or even, what others think your life should look like.

 And let me just tell you, that is a scary thing because in this beautiful land of freedom we call America, much of our time is spent figuring out what to do about our lives because most of the time we actually have the freedom to try to figure it out. This planning, trying to make wise decisions is a gift. Yes, it is. And there is this pressure to do what is "right." The problem is when many times our worldview of what is "right" is just a laundry list of things that may be wise as many of us, in our culture see it, but not altogether Biblical. There is this pressure to have it all planned out as if you are some sort of failure that after all of that planning, your life looks not a hint like the rest of Christendom, well many parts of it anyway.

To be clear, I'm not speaking of licentiousness or something rather crude excuse to live your life however you want (I guess that goes without saying, but you never know who's out there actually reading these ramblings. :) ).

No, I am talking about looking to the cross, to the gift of this Scandalous Love of the cross that moves a person to do what may look like crazy things to the rest of us.

 Certainly, the woman at the well thought this Jewish man asking to drink from her cup, was a bit off his rocker. "How is it that you, a Jew (this must have been obvious), ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan Woman?" (commentary mine) It's as if she's saying to Jesus, "What are you crazy??!!" Certainly this Jewish man knew he should not be asking for a drink from her...and he didn't even bring anything to draw from, but wanted to use her cup. And here he was asking for a drink like it was no big deal.

To put this in perspective, it would be like a white man walking into a shanty town in southern Alabama all the while while "white only" signs hung quaintly in shop, restaurant, and store windows, knocking on the first shack door he sees and asking for a drink from the African American that answered the door because he had just walked 20 miles uphill and was weary. Unthinkable, at the time!

Jews saw the Samaritans as unclean in every way. They were apostate Jews who mixed Judaism with pagan idolatry. And when you had to travel you certainly did not go searching a person, a Samaritan person (and she was a Woman!) to get you a drink during the middle of the hot, hot day. A good Jew would travel all. the. way. around Samaria. You would do whatever possible to not even let people think you were associated with such people.

 But here comes Jesus, weary and thirsty, altogether human, walking straight through Samaria, talking to a Samaritan Woman, alone and drinking from her cup. He reveals her sin to her, invites her to be a true worshipper by revealing Himself for the first time to a pagan woman, not to all the people walking around Samaria thinking that following all of the rules is going to make them right with God. As if we just stayed away from these certain people that their ungodliness can't rub off onto us.

It does seem a bit backwards doesn't it? Jesus, pursuing such a woman, I mean. And if you are a bit curious. This girl typing would be walking around Samaria too, feeling pretty good about herself, following all those rules. I'd be slack jawed just like those 12 disciples when they return from buying food, seeing Jesus talking to this Samaritan Woman, but too afraid to say anything.

Just. Like. Them.

Then they go ahead and stay there. In Samaria for 2 whole days. And many believe in Him. And maybe those 12 were a bit relieved, no a lot relieved, that no other Jew would be passing on through while they stayed. Or maybe that is just what I would be thinking had I been there.

You see, there is this war that wages inside of me. There is this part that wants the plan...that wants it all cleaned up with no mess on the floor. That wants to be what everyone else expects me to be and have the life everyone expected us to have. I long for, I thirst for, not living water found in Christ, but in man's approval. Sometimes I drink the kool-aide, the lie that says that happiness is found in stuff or education or "me" time. And then I look as Jesus, talking to this woman and it's as if he is talking right to me.

Because you know what?

He is.

And to you too.

I was her. Just like her, in fact. In almost every way. Though, I was religious, I was ignorant. I was "following my heart," to try to fill this vast, hole that was deep and wide as the Grand Canyon with love from those whom could never fill though they tried their best. I deflected any sort of reference to my sin as if I knew better with my religiosity and worldly ideas. And Jesus gently showed me the truth as he does with her.

And then Jesus gave me an "unexpected" gift. That is where the journey up and started. And the days that followed where we had to "decide" if we were going to accept this huge change in our life or try to cover it up. And it was tempting. To cover it up, I mean. To just go ahead with our plans and "big" dreams. In the moment, it would have been easier.

But....

Thank God for his immeasurable grace. That even while I didn't know Him, he still allowed us to see that perhaps there was something bigger...something better (harder very probably)...and that it was possible that He would and could take this gift and use it in our lives for good as we came to know who He was.

You see, Jesus surpasses our expectations, our plans, and what we think we know. He blows them out of the water, in fact. What we think we want is a list for our lives, we want a life that is planned out because we believe that it makes them more simple and predictable. On many days it does.

But what Jesus really wants is our hearts. And it's been that way since the beginning of time. The law was more than just a "do this and be right with God" list...more than a ladder to climb, it was a way to break the Jews' hearts and point them to their need for the Promised Messiah. To show them that no matter how good and pias they thought they were, they still needed to be Saved from themselves.

And that was, is and always will be me. A sinner, saved from myself.

So that doesn't mean just fly by the seat of those cute pants your just so happen to be wiping the dirt off of for the 3 millionth time today. It does mean to realize who really is in control of it all. Lord willing...we will do this or that (James). While we "plan" our courses, it is indeed God who directs our paths. (Prov. 16:9)

 I smile now thinking of all those Jews walking around Samaria not knowing many of them would be worshipping in the same church in the not so distant future with the ones they very much tried to avoid.



**And just as a side note.....reading through the book of John is a great way to see who exactly Jesus said that he was. The majority of the texts that are quoted above are from John 4 unless otherwise noted.**

 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

What We All Need.

A certain dear Christmas-loving, English teaching, Mexico living, sister-in-Christ friend, Melody tells me it's time for another post. And since I have some of the best, most wonderful family-friends in the world who took our children for the weekend I have some "extra" time to plunk around here.

And dear ones, you must know that that handsome man I call love is snoozing on the couch and so it is sort of a sacrifice to be typing here and not cuddled right up next to him. Nap or type? It was a hard call, but the computer won...just this once. You can thank me later...or not, depending on how much of your time you wasted, er, I mean spent reading in this place.

Ok, enough rambling.

The thoughts in my brain have been a bit scrambled lately. I find myself repeating myself a lot. And not just to people shorter than myself (AKA children.)  Pregnancy brain, I could blame it on, I guess. So that is just what I will do!

 But there has been this one constant flow of thoughts that (hold on to your pants friends) might just become a series here.

As I seek to be a faithful mother and wife, I find myself comparing and striving. A lot. And that might just be the understatement of the year. I also find myself spending an unfortunate amount of time caring way too much what other people think, instead of knowing that it is the Lord alone who I am held accountable.

It is in the beauty of our diversity of lives as believers that we can see the majesty and power of the Cross. I mean, not everyone is going to have more than two kids or foster children or home school or eat gluten free or not watch TV etc. etc. etc. are they? We each seek to "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" don't we? So why am I comparing?

I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be that Pintrest woman that has a Christmas tree that deserves to be in the oval office of the White House. And if you saw our tree this year, you would know this to be the truest thing you have read all week.

But there is a part of me that wants that.

I know you can relate. (unless you are that Pintrest woman...to which I say God bless you!)

There is a part of me that is not satisfied with what the Lord has given or not given to me (one of which is 7 children right now who knock over Christmas trees. Yup, knock them right over.)

And some of this is because much of who we become or what our lives become stems from this idea that we will follow the paths laid out before us and that we will mirror much of what we were brought up in. But then we grow up don't we?

We move away.
We make decisions.
 We change.

 Much of which is painful but necessary. And so much of it all is unexpected. Our plans fail and we eventually, sometimes, see what the Lord is and was doing. And a lot of the time we don't or can't.

When I look at the beautiful mess of a life that we have lived together the past 11 years, it does not look anything like what I thought it would during the beginning. And you know what? I am ever so thankful that it doesn't!

Because my life does not need more Pintrest or comparing or lists of "shoulds." You know that list: "I really should be doing this because so-n-so raises her own sheep to knit her family woolen socks."

What my life needs...what my kids need...my husband...my friends and family....all of us. What we need is more of Jesus. Of Who He is. Of what He has done. And what He continues to do.

He is so much more beautiful than all of that comparing or worry over other's approval isn't He? And at the end of the day we want to seek to delight in Him and saturate our home and lives with the love of the gospel knowing we will fail and praising Him for the grace and mercy of forgiveness and the perseverance He gives to get through the next day....moment even.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New Year News

There she goes. Saying it again, better than I would ever dare. Yup, Ann says about this 2014 New Year:

"She preached the Gospel to herself:

Sure Mount Everest might loom in front of you, that mountain you have to climb in the next 364 days.

But the deal is: Every mountain that every Christin ever faces, the Lord levels with sufficient grace: The Lord Will Provide.

You don't have to climb mountains named I Will Perform.

You don't have to climb mountains named I Will Produce.

Jesus flattens that mountain before you with His Grace: The Lord will Provide. With enough strength. With enough wisdom. With More Than Enough of Himself.

More important than you trying to muster up sufficient grit and determination for the new year -- is that you simply accept His sufficient grace and liberation every day." ~Ann Voscamp (writing at A Holy Experience. Posted 1/1/2014)

So when a dear friend asks, "HOW in the WORLD do you do that??!! How WILL you do that???"

I reply honestly, "I won't." "I will fail...we will fail."

Because it is only, truly by His grace that any of us are able to face anything that comes our way.

I don't think I believe this all the time. Though my mouth says it is so.

My heart tells on me.

The fact is I know I don't live it.

Not all the time, or some days or not even most of the time.

Never in a kazillion (yes, it's an actual number...just ask any of the 5 year olds living in my home) if we would be walking through right now, in this new year, what we are walking through, I probably would have told you to "check yourself before you wreck yourself...cuz that is CrAzY talk!!"

So a list of resolutions this girl will not make. No more "to do lists," but to know and to trust the One all the more who will provide. Always. In every. single. way. as I walk hand in hand with the one I call, Love.

So here is a little Happy New Year Update from all us 6 Popes.

And can I just say, before you read on, that we are just. SO. EXCITED!


Dearest Ones,

For our Christmas letter this year we’ve decided

To keep it light and have some fun

 

Cuz one thing is for sure

Most of this past year

Has flown by like a blur

 

With 6 in the crib

And one little monster running about

There have been some rough times, we ain’t gonna fib

 

At least they can all buckle themselves

With only two exceptions

This all makes for only occasional yells

 

The buckle test, it’s a big one in our crib

And no more bottles, no more diapers

And certainly not one single bib

 

Those bibs, bottles, diapers and more

All belonging to babies

We were done for sure!

 

Certainty can be a slippery slope

So when Kari got sick for 12 weeks

We knew it was no joke

 

The date of arrival is early in June

So lets get excited

For this little life is already in bloom

 

Now, don’t worry, fret or frown

Yes, we can see it

Some of your mouths are turned right upside down L

 

We ask you, yes, to be excited with us

To be thoughtful with words, and prayerful and kind

And to not make a big fuss

 

Unless of course you wanted to make

A big donation to their college funds

For the children’s sake

 

Ok not really

That’s merely a joke

It’s good to laugh at ourselves not just other odd folk

 

So now that you know our BIG news

Also know that we love you all

And please have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too!

 

 

        

 

                                        

 



Monday, 25 November 2013

Never Enough

Foster care in a word is:
humbling.
Now that doesn't say a lot does it?
I mean I could say that about a great many things couldn't I?
Marriage.
Parenting.
Friendships.
Working a job you don't really like.
Having a friend you don't really like.
This list is long and could go on.
And there are these things in our lives that, perhaps, rib us a little more in the area of that great, smallish word:
humility.
 
And as we walk this trodden path through foster care,
I am constantly,
and completely,
being humbled.
And it's hard.
And messy.
And sort of like nothing I've ever experienced before in my life.
 
And as I put my three year old to bed and he says,
"hug n kiss mommy"
I think what we mothers of children think often,
"I am a terrible mother."
Because do you know how many people have asked how in the world we can give
our own children the attention they deserve with
three more children in the house?
And sometimes I don't have an answer.
Because here is the truth sisters:
 
How ever much we give and give, it will never be enough.
 
We will never be enough.
We can never give enough attention.
We can never kiss enough boo-boos.
We can never hug enough.
We can never give enough good night kisses.
We cannot fill what we were not meant to fill.
And you know what?
I used to think that I could.
 
I used to think that I could fill all the empty places...
give enough attention...
tend to every need...
every care...
every want,
desire even.
Really, I did.
And maybe that sounds a little silly to you.
 
But there is something inside of all of us that cries out desperately for
MORE!
More attention.
More affection.
More care.
More concern.
We. Want. More.
 
You would think that if we were filled we wouldn't long for more.
But we do.
I know I do.
 
And last night as the tears rolled off the tip of my nose,
I was reminded of this magnificent truth.
Of course I will never be enough.
Not to 4 children.
Not to 7 children.
Of course I can't fill them up always.
That is not what I was designed to do.
There is only One who is able to do that.
Only One.
 
And I am not He.
I am merely here to point them to Him.
To Jesus.
The One who can give enough attention,
care,
love, and concern.
 
And if I was enough?
What would they need him for?
 
So tonight.
The kids pile on up.
We sing In Christ Alone.
Read the Storybook Bible.
And sing 10,000 Reasons for good measure.
And one boy asks to sing them all again.
And I smile and wink
 at the quiet, handsome boy in the papasan chair.
He smiles back.
He knows He is loved.
And I don't have to be enough.
Because Jesus always will be.
 
 


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Oh, I need You

 
I get off the phone with an acquaintance and they thank me for telling me that we are praying for them. That seriously we are praying for them.
Daily.
 And they say thank you....I NEED IT! My reply? Well, some of us walk around thinking that prayer is something for when your house is set on fire (literally and figuratively) and for others of us it is a ever present reality that we would not survive the next minute with out prayer.
 
But isn't it true?
My very own words convict.
 Oh, how I would learn to live what I speak.
Grace upon grace and it is a slow process isn't it?
 
So here I am again. Taking up a challenge to read the Word, and memorise a little too. And though things are a little hectic, to think of another to bless...outside my immediate family. And to pray.
A lot more.
 
This is not a list. NO, because I could merely whisper the words to "As the Deer" this morning in church, the weight heavy for not being as that deer.
Ever. 
So I certainly do not a list of things to check off. and I can almost be 100% certain you do not either.
 
Rather this is a pleading to the Father to know Him better, to depend on Him alone, to trust in His Son daily...for help to look to him even in the most mundane. Because even if life is smooth sailing for you right now, the storm will come... it's only a matter of time and the ever present reality will again be our need for Jesus: the One who controls the greatest of storms.
 
 


Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Overwhelmed

It has been a long while hasn't it dear friends? A forced sabbatical of sorts. More like me not really knowing how to manage time properly. Or perhaps it is the sheer thought of putting pen to paper or typing out what is really going on that is just so very overwhelming that really, the thought of it all gives me writers block.

 Where to start? What to say? And does anyone really care. Thing is, I don't really know. Seriously, I don't know an answer to any of those questions. And maybe there are just parts of our life that I want to keep off of this blogosphere...or maybe not. Again, I just don't know. I keep thinking that it is going to come to me. That I will know exactly what to write and how to explain why in the world we would take in three foster children while having four of our own.

My sister teases me by saying that I will turn out to be the old woman who lived in a shoe. If I believed in modern prophecy, I would call her a prophetess. No, I don't live in a shoe, but sometimes the laundry room does smell a bit like dirty shoes. I have no idea how such small feet can produce such odors, but they sure do!

What I do know for sure is that I love to write. I also know that many of you are encouraged in the Lord by what I pen here. So all fourteen of you that actually read what is written here on a regular basis, I did want to take a "free" moment and say I'm praying about how to continue on here. You see, I'm trying to figure all of this out. And I know that there is no possible way that I will get it all figured out, but there are some things that I just am not willing to give up. So here is to fighting for moments to share my ramblings....so just stay tuned, friends.



Sunday, 21 July 2013

Just Me

I steal a few moments away by myself.
 Alone.
 Just me.
So I drive down to the weekly farmer's market to buy some peaches
and romaine lettuce.
Yes, my mother would be proud.
 
 
 
The seagulls are screeching.
The lake is glistening against the sun's radiance.
I smile and stumble along,
almost feeling out of place with out the
7 tag-a-longs.
(I said almost)
 
 
Just me,
thinking about how special this place is.
And how Good the Lord is.
How faithful He is to provide.
And how really,
I love it here.