May 29, 2012

Burning Up

It was a hot weekend in Virginia.

I mean really, really hot.

Truly the hottest days we've had so far this season.

And we spent them without air conditioning.

Our air conditioner went out on Friday and though a technician came to take a look at it, the part needed to repair it had to be ordered.  The cold, hard truth was we were going to have to endure the heat until the part came in and the air conditioner could be repaired and that would take at least five days.

Heat advisories and severe weather alerts were on the news and in my inbox warning people to stay indoors and stay cool, but how do you stay indoors and stay cool when it's hotter in your house than it is outside?  We raced to Home Depot and bought four fans to strategically place around our home.  We opened all the windows.  We drank a lot of iced tea and water and made smoothies.  We took ice cold showers.  We tried to have a positive attitude and find a bit of humor in our situation, but it's hard to laugh when you're burning up.

photo credits: new.eletewater.com

My mind drifted back to my freshman year at Auburn University in Alabama and my dorm that had no air conditioning.  Studying for finals that spring was miserable.  It's hard to concentrate when you're hot.  I remember several of us girls chipping in what little money we had and getting a hotel room so we could get some much needed, air-conditioned sleep.  I wondered if getting a hotel room might be a good idea even now.

I also remembered the summer I spent six weeks in Guyana, South America on a mission trip.  Wow.   I am not sure I can even describe that kind of heat, though I am sure I was close to being that hot this past weekend.

And then I found myself reflecting on the blog I've followed recently of a woman who went to Tanzania on a mission trip with Compassion.  Many of the Tanzanian people she encountered had very little, struggled at times just to survive and often did without the necessities of food, water and shelter.  (Air conditioning is not a necessity, I might add.)  She described meeting one young man whose home was a humble, small hut made of mud with a roof laced together of twigs and branches.  Inside, it had no windows, a dirt floor and a fire pit in the center for cooking.  Amazing that people really live like that, but more amazing is what the young man had painted on the outside of his hut...

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need."  Psalm 23:1

How sobering and convicting that this boy, who lives in such humble conditions, is completely confident in the fact that he has everything he needs.  He knows God will care for him.  He has nothing to fear, nothing to worry about.  He has all he needs and he's even proclaiming it in words on his beautiful, sacred, humble and holy, little mud hut.  Amazing.

I wonder, do we have that same kind of trust and confidence in God's provision?  Do we really and truly know that we have all we need?  Or do we worry and fret and scramble to attempt to meet our own needs instead of trusting Christ to meet them for us?

Going without air conditioning has been good for our family.  We have so much.  We have everything we need and then some.  It was good for us to do without, to be uncomfortable and restless and to recognize our complete inability to control not only our air conditioner, but everything else in our lives.  There is only one who can truly meet and satisfy our every need and that is Jesus.  We have everything and yet he is all we really need.

Five days later, I'm still burning up.  It's still hot and the air conditioner is still broken and it's eighty-eight degrees in my house with almost all the windows open and all the fans running on full force.  I'm still uncomfortable and still a bit restless.  But something has shifted in my heart through the suffering and my grasp on all I think I need has loosened.  Though the comfort of an air conditioned home has yet to come, I keep remembering these words and speaking them out loud...

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need."

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May 26, 2012

Reflections on a Saturday Morning

Early Saturday morning.  Warm sun rising.  Birds cheerfully sing and call to each other, waking to a new day.  Windows wide open throughout the house.  Fresh, clean breeze drifts in and lingers.  I move about gently and slowly and leisurely.  No urgent tasks demand to be done.  No need to race out the door.  Clock ticks quietly.  A steaming, cup of coffee in hand.  The dark rich aroma fills the air.  Children sleep like angels in their beds.  Husband and devoted dog out running and enjoying the morning.  Solitude and silence.  Peace and tranquility.  Grace and gratitude.



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May 18, 2012

Already All I Need

Christy Nockels is one of my favorite christian artists.  I discovered her music through a dear friend about twelve years ago and have been a huge fan ever since.  She has the amazing and uncanny ability to consistently sing the anthems of my journey.  Wherever I am, whatever season I'm going through, she always seems to put to song exactly what's written on my heart.  Many times, when I haven't been able to find the words to express what I feel, her songs have done it for me.  They are the cries and prayers of my heart.


Her most recent album is no different.  Every song is my favorite, but the song, "Already All I Need" has continually been playing on repeat in the playlist of my mind.  Here it is...


And the lyrics...

Asking where You are, Lord. Wondering where You’ve been. Is like standing in a hurricane, trying to find the wind. And hoping for Your mercy to meet me where I am. Is forgetting that Your thoughts for me, outnumber the sand. You filled the sun with morning light. You bid the moon to lead the night. You clothe the lilies bright and beautiful. You’re already all I need. Already everything that I could hope for. You’re already all I need. You’ve already set me free. Already making me. More like You. You’re already all I need. Jesus, You’re already all I need. Walking through this life without Your freedom in my heart. Is like holding onto shackles that You have torn apart. So remind me of Your promises. And all that You have done. In this world I will have trouble. But You have overcome. And every gift that I receive. You determine just for me. But nothing I desire compares with You. In Your fullness. You’re my all in all. In Your healing. I’m forever made whole. In Your freedom. Your love overflows. And carries me. You carry me.

Listening to this song, I realize how often I pray for things that God has already given me or done for me.  I ask for things that are already mine for the taking, freely given, right in front of me, ready and waiting to be received.  It's like making breakfast for my children, placing it in front of them and they ask, "Mom, can you please make us some breakfast?"  It's already been done.  I already made breakfast.  It's right in front of them.  Why don't they just eat and enjoy?  Why would I make breakfast again?

This song is a beautiful reminder of all Jesus has done for us and all He continues to do.  For forever and always, his work on the cross was and is perfect... and perfectly sufficient at that.  He doesn't need to do it again.

He's already all I need.

I just need to remember that truth... rest in it and receive.

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May 17, 2012

Rescued

It was an average day, nothing really special or out of the ordinary.  Just a day spent at home with mundane tasks at hand... laundry, cleaning, working out, emails, menu planning, grocery list making, cooking, carpool and then a bit more laundry.  The day went along without incident until the afternoon rolled around and with it, a thick dark cloud that settled into place right above me.


A medical bill came in the mail that I was expecting it's just that I wasn't expecting it to be quite so very much.  And then there was a frustrating, border-line heated conversation with one of my children over some homework that had been put to the side until the very last minute and the very last minute was barely going to cut it.  Hadn't we had this conversation a thousand times before and hadn't they learned that procrastinating is never ever a good idea?  And didn't they understand by now that keeping things from your parents was an even worse idea?

There were other things as well... things of a more internal nature.  Doubt, fear, anxiety, sorrow and disillusionment nipped at my mind and begged for my undivided attention.  I could feel the downward pull on my heart.  The cloud was growing darker and darker and larger and larger as it threatened to break loose above me and rain down mercilessly.

But I had been in that same place thousands of times before and had allowed those thick, heavy clouds to rain on my parade and steal my hope, my joy and my trust.  I just didn't want to do that this time.  I have learned that if I want life, I am going to have to fight for it.

So I turned my heart away from the dark and ever-looming cloud and instead shifted it towards light and life.  This is what I heard from Jesus in that moment, "I am not surprised by any of this, by this dark and heavy cloud.  I knew it was coming before it even came.  You have all that you need in me.  You have more than enough.  Do not give way."

And I whispered in response, "I trust you, Jesus.  I choose to trust you and to live by what is true not by what I feel.  You are all that I need.  You are more than enough."

And then I thanked him for great medical insurance because without it the bill would have been much, much higher.  And I took the child who had made a mistake in my arms and held them close and reminded them that I love them not because they perform well or make good choices but simply because they are mine.  And somewhere along the way, as the afternoon turned to evening, the heavy, dark cloud faded away and the sky above me was once again clear.


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May 12, 2012

Lessons from a Grocery Clerk


photo credits: addthebacon.com

She was wearing a baby pink polo shirt and had a hair style from the eighties.  Her complexion was beautiful but she covered it up with lots of rose blush and blue frosted eye shadow.  She greeted me with a big, friendly smile in the check out at the grocery store like most clerks do as you unload your groceries onto the belt.  We exchanged pleasantries... "Hello, how are you today? I'm doing well. How are you?" and such and then our conversation turned to more serious matters...

Dishwashers.

She began to share with me the agony she had been through over the past several weeks while being without a dishwasher and disposal.  Her old dishwasher, which was only builder grade, had died and she had ordered a brand new, very expensive ($1,500!) beautiful KitchenAid dishwasher but it had taken forever and a day to come in.  And, when it finally did come in and was delivered, the handle on it was missing and they had to send it back.

There were more details... something about calling Sears and getting a better price on the new dishwasher but the other company then honoring that better price and then eventually beating it by a hundred dollars.  Also, her husband was coming home from a business trip and she wanted to make him a nice dinner since he hadn't had a home cooked meal in weeks.  She was going to make pulled pork but decided that would be way too many dishes to wash by hand and she didn't want to pour the grease and juices down her sink without having a disposal to grind it all up and rinse it away.

She kept going and going and going...

and I fell in love with her.

She was engaging and honest and vulnerable and passionate and unashamed about her passion.  She was a pro at multi-tasking as she unloaded her dishwasher saga on me while simultaneously loading my groceries into bags. And as she chatted and worked, I sensed Jesus nudging me to look into her eyes and listen with patience and compassion to her story and to honor her and learn from her.

I did just that and I was all the better for it.

I learned a few things from that sweet grocery clerk and not one of them had anything to do with groceries... or dishwashers.

Holiness in the midst of the mundane.

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May 11, 2012

Responding


"Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry." James 1:19


This scripture is written on a message board that sits right beside the sink in my kitchen.

I see it every day.

I need to see it every day.

My children are teenagers.

I wish I could say I live this verse out daily with ease and grace and that it's consistently reflected in my life and relationships, but that would not be true.

Sadly, more often than I would like, I am instead slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to get angry.

I hate that.

But there is hope because Jesus lives in me and He gives me the strength and grace I need to respond gently and with love to the people in my life.

Even to my two teenagers.

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May 10, 2012

Glory


His name is Glory.

We welcomed him into our family during a very difficult season of life.  He was a bright ray of sunshine in the midst of a storm.  He was the glory of God in our lives.  Hence, his perfect name.

And even now, almost nine years later, he still continues to bring us great joy, laughter and delight.

I love this picture of him.  What a smile!  Such happiness on his sweet little face.  He's leaping with joy, his paws off the ground as he runs towards his family with unashamed, boundless affection.

It was Easter and we were in the country enjoying a long, leisurely picnic.  We had nothing to do but lay around in the soft green grass, throw the ball for this very happy dog and enjoy the beauty of new life.

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