And the light was good

Today I made this…

Sitting at my kitchen table, staring at the flame burning inside a clementine rind, I began to think about emptiness.

Again.

Because this seems to be a common theme in my mind these days.

Originally that piece of fruit was appealing.

Ripe.

Juicy.

Satisfying.

Fulfilling it’s purpose: to be eaten.

I could have taken it, like I’ve done with so many of others, peeled off and discarded the rind, and been happy. I would not have walked away feeling like I’d missed out on something.

But…

This time I carefully removed what I’d once only viewed as trash. I turned my attentions to what was previously unimportant to me and came up with something beautiful. An experience that before revolved around taste became one of sight.

It caused me to think:

What do I view as discarded in my life that God wants to fill with light?

Am I missing out on something that would provide a new experience with Him because I’m satisfied with the norm?

How beautiful it is when we’re emptied out fully and filled again with all that is Him.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. {Genesis 1:2-3}

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{Not so} Five Minute Friday: Rest

So much has happened, and not happened, this week for us. I have a lot to share, but I am just not up to it tonight after the day I’ve had. I hope to update, fill-in and have some photographic show-and-tell next week after a relaxing three-day weekend.

When I saw that Lisa-Jo went over the five-minute time limit this week, I felt like doing the same. Sometimes the timer frees me in my writing, but tonight it felt like more of a constraint. So, I fudged a bit with the rules.

And yes, I’m aware that the majority of my Five Minute Friday posts have been about my kids, and the frustrations of motherhood. I try to balance this out, because I know I have guy readers and single readers, but lately by Thursday night my brain won’t go anywhere else.

And…enough of the excuses.

Here…we…

GO

My children were skating down the aisle of Target.

Fuzzy toilet seat covers under each foot, they raced each other back and forth. Slipping, sliding and giggling; I attempted to hold an important conversation. Normally I don’t schedule phone calls for public places, but this was a call I couldn’t pass up.

There’s a house we want; when we see it we feel like it’s home. The proximity to close friends doesn’t hurt it’s curb appeal…especially since we can see those friends’ home from the curb of the house.

Silently screaming at the top of my lungs, stomping my feet and shaking my fist, I politely fielded the landlord’s questions. Obviously I wasn’t paying attention because I told him the completely wrong amounts for our income. He was slightly concerned, which makes sense when you learn I cut my husband’s salary in half. Oops.

There are moments as a mom when I just don’t have the answers. I wanted to shake them and scream at them to demonstrate my anger. Actions that would only have escalated the situation, and not helped any of us to learn from it. How could I let them know that wrapping yourself in bath towels and reclining on the shelves of fluffy bath mats was not appropriate behavior?

Apparently telling them that was not enough.

Then tonight I come home and read about the time God wanted to shake and yell at the Israelites. He was fed up. Done. Finished. Because He’s God, and follows through with His promises, He told them He would send an angel with them to complete the journey.

“Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from…Egypt…I will send an angel before you…; I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people and I might destroy you on the way.” {Exodus 33:1-3, emphasis added}

God pulled a “your children” on Moses. You know, when the kids are being bad and suddenly you’re not their parent anymore? And then, He says that they’re gonna have a babysitter, because if God stays with them He will DESTROY them.

Seriously! This whole passage made me feel so much better. God understands! He knows!

I am not alone. I am not a bad mom. I am going to be ok.

How does Moses react to suddenly being left holding the reins for this bedraggled bunch? He reminds God that the Israelites are His, too.

Moses intercedes for the Israelites, who are in no position to ask anything of God. He tells God that if He’s not going to lead them Himself, then He needs to leave them where they are.

Just like when Josh reminds me, after an earful of ranting, that I love my children. I’m grateful for the gift God has given me in putting us together. They were eagerly anticipated and joyfully welcomed into this world.

I am their mom, and I need to lead them forward.

So, I led them out of Target, got a break for a couple of hours, and I’m ready to begin it all again tomorrow. Because I’m their mom, and they need me to lead them.

STOP

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Standing at the Chapel Door

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It’s my wedding day, and the idea that everything will be different from this point forward terrifies and excites me. Three years of dating had taught me a lot about Josh, but I knew marriage would be an entirely new experience.

Those years of dating were full of questions:

  • Was he the one God had for me; the one I would spend my life with?
  • Did we have similar ideas regarding marriage, family, finances and our futures?
  • Would he make me happy?
  • What if we got married — committed ourselves to one another — and then discovered some horrible secret or character flaw?
  • What if I was wrong?

Talking out our fears and anxiety, we wrestled with each question together and privately. Praying, seeking God’s direction, and believing that if we genuinely desired His will God would not steer us wrong.

So we arrived at our wedding day.

Curled, powdered and covered in satin, standing at the doorway to the chapel, I recognized the importance of that first step inside; there would be no turning back. Confidently walking forward, my arm looped through my dad’s, I welcomed the commitment ahead.

Over ten years have passed since that day, and there have been surprises and trials for us to work our way through. Not all the surprises have been bad, and the trials have made us stronger and closer. Never once have we given ourselves the option of running away from our commitment or doubting the path God has led us on.

Normally these types of posts are written on wedding anniversaries or birthdays, but mine is prompted by the similarities I am experiencing on the brink of a new commitment.

Over the past few months Josh and I have been wondering what God was bringing us to Washington for, and where we would serve once we were up here. We felt pressure and anxiety to find a new church right away.

Like my dating experience, the questions in my mind regarding our decision were all about me: 

  • Do I like the worship, preaching style, decorations and children’s programs?
  • What kind of opportunities do they have for me to use my calling and giftings?
  • Are they welcoming and friendly? Do I see people I’d like to get to know better?
  • What if we start going here and it turns out bad? What if they just want to use us?
  • What if we’re wrong?

We believe we’ve found our church

Today, I recognized that once again I am standing at the door to a chapel. The time for fear and anxiety is past, and my questions need to change.

On the day of my marriage, the only thing I needed to ask was: “How can I be a godly wife for Josh? What can I do to serve him?” No longer could it be all about me, because I was now one with another.

In committing to a church, much like a marriage, the question needs to be: “How can I serve the leadership and congregation of this church?” No longer can it be about what they do to serve me or feed me. We are told to be more concerned about the needs of others than ourselves. That we will be known by our love for one another.

My marriage has lasted over ten years because of my commitment to Josh and to God, and trusting Him to work in my relationship. If I had based it on my feelings and personal ideas of happiness, there might have been a few times I would have chosen to bail out. Today I am wiser, happier and a better person because of the things Josh and I have been through together.

I believe the same thing can be true as I commit myself to the leadership and fellowship of a new church family.

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The Last Meal

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All she needed to do was make a single cake.

The fire cracked and snapped beside her, as she carefully measured out the remnants of flour and oil. For days she had watched as the supply dwindled, numb to the reality of what was ahead.

They would die.

With nothing to eat, nowhere to go, no provisions — the end was inevitable.

Mechanically her hands went through the motions of kneading, flipping, pressing and rolling. The elasticity of the dough taking shape on the board resisted her stretching, just as her mind resisted his words:

“Don’t be afraid.”

How could she trust him? Appearing out of no where, he had asked for water and bread. Such a simple request, yet so difficult for her to fulfill. She had considered lying to him; giving up their last repast without acknowledging the sacrifice. If they were going to die, would it really make a difference?

But her son, how could she watch him die? Already he had grown too thin, the impact of living in a time of famine taking its toll on his young frame. Once he had run and played with joy, now his energy was extinguished and his eyes haunted.

Could she trust the word of this man, that the Lord would come through in her time of need? 

“Don’t be afraid.”

How could she be anything but? Three years, not a drop of rain had fallen on their land. Searching the skies for a sign of relief, she had watched as the life had vanished from around them. Dust and decay were all that remained.

Yet, he was a prophet. They say he hears directly from the Lord. Could it be possible? That what seems depleted could still sustain life? The jar still looked empty, the jug dry. But he had said:

“The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land.”

Could it be true?

She placed the cake, their last meal, on a plate. Carrying it to the man, she prayed that her hands would not shake as she set it before him. Her last hope, their only sustenance, her final act.

She returned to the fire, wondering when her hunger would devour the gnawing pains in her stomach. How long would it take, and what would the end be like? 

Lifting the jar to return it to its place, almost as an afterthought she peeked inside. Maybe she had miscalculated, and there would be enough so her son could eat. Tipping it upside down, a small pile formed on the board.

Could it be true? What had He done?

Checking the jar, she discerned a trickle of oil. Just enough to satisfy her and her son. They would get a last meal.

Once again, kneading, flipping, pressing and rolling, she formed two little cakes for them. They would live a little longer.

From that day forward, each morning, afternoon and evening she formed three little cakes — for herself, her son, and the man — always wondering if the supply would finally run out and, yet, believing that it would last.

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

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