Sunday, February 16, 2014

Do this in remembrance of Me

In the midst of what is known to us as the Last Supper, Jesus reveals thanksgiving, grace, and joy. 

On that night, during the Festival of Unleavened Bread, in that home with table laid out for a Passover meal, in that room amongst the 12, Jesus gave thanks.  Bread on the table, He picked it up and gave thanks to His Father in Heaven. Bread in hand, Jesus thanked Father God for the bread, which He revealed to those gathered was His Body.  His Body...it's sole purpose made and sent to be a sacrifice for all.
For it, He gave
 Thanks.

Bread in hand, He offered grace to those at the table.  Grace, even to the one who would eat the meal with Jesus, then leave the table and immediately betray Him.  Grace, even to the rest who would fall away and deny Him just a few hours later.  That's just it, grace just wouldn't be grace unless it's unmerited favor to all.no matter what.  He offered them all Bread, His Body, and said, Take it and eat.  
Grace.

He did the same with a cup of wine.  Raised it to Heaven and gave thanks for it.  But, it wasn't just the cup and it's contents He was thankful for.  It was the Blood, His Blood, which would be poured out for all of mankind. He was thankful that He carried the life-giving, healing payment due for the forgiveness of all sin.  That this Blood would make a new covenant between God and His people.  And again this grace…Drink from it, all of you.  Yes, you Judas, and you too Peter…drink.  
Grace.

After He passed around the cup for all, He shared what He saw up ahead.  A celebration in Heaven when all would be gathered together with Him in His Father's Kingdom drinking wine and celebrating.  He said He wouldn't drink wine again until then.  Until we were with there Him, together in heaven, everyone will drink it new He said.  He saw ahead to what would come of His excruciating sacrifice and it was beautiful to Him and He anticipated it.  
Joy.

Thinking about Jesus and the bread, I can’t help but think of another pivotal time in His ministry where we see Him dealing with bread.  Could it be a foreshadowing?  Five loaves given as a sacrifice by someone's young son, lifted up to Heaven in thanks by the Son of God, broken and freely given to all, thousands fed to their fill with what began as an offering of five loaves. Even still, twelve baskets were filled to the brim with leftovers.  Later, Jesus, His one body given as a sacrifice, lifted up to Heaven on the Cross at calvary, broken and freely given to all, every sin forgiven with what began as one perfect offering.  Even still, today He continues to give out of the reserves of Heaven to all who would gather to Him.

It all started with Him giving thanks. Thanks for the Body which is the sacrifice, grace for all to receive it, and joy for the day we’re all gathered to Him in celebration.

His one command at the Last Supper?
Do this to remember me...
Give thanks to remember me...
Receive grace and remember me...
Have joy in thinking of our future together and remember me...

This reminds me of another "remember me" quoted in scripture.  Sentenced to die on that same ominous day on calvary, a criminal hanging on a cross at Jesus' side cries out to the One he could now see...
Remember me when you come into your kingdom...

Jesus immediately replied, I assure you today you will be with me in paradise.

So, wherever you are, in whatever state you're in, remember Him today and you will be with Him.

What does Jesus offer us when we commune with Him?  
Thanksgiving
Grace
Joy

And how should we receive it?

  In the same way it was given.
Arms extended in thanks.
Hands open to receive grace.
Hearts fixed on the joy ahead.

My heart's desire is to make each day one of communion with Him.






Sunday, January 19, 2014

onward

In beginning again I come to the realization that everything that God has for me is ahead.  As I come back to what is in Him, and let go of my wandering ways, I look at now and I look up ahead…not behind.  I determine in my heart and set my face to not turn back.  Turning back would only cause me to lose more.  Lose time in wishing I hadn't screwed up…wishing I was further.  Behind is where the mess is and that mess can taunt me with a name-calling frenzy.  But that mess has been surrendered and forgiven.  Forgiven not because of me or anything I did, but forgiven because of Jesus and all that He has done. 
So I decide...shaky feet planted on the firm ground of the Word...I won't turn back.

  And with the wisdom of Paul, a man who could have been taunted up one-side and down the other for the mistakes in his past, it's what he says that beckons me forward….

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Forgetting what's behind.

Pressing on.

On toward God's calling.

I tell myself I don't have to have to all figured out.  I just have to press on…keep my eyes on Jesus. And I see Him today in this word.  He beckons me forward and with a giant leap of faith I take my first steps and I'm not turning back!

Everything that He has for me is ahead. 



Friday, January 17, 2014

beginning again

It’s been so long since I’ve written.  I've avoided it a bit because I’d love so much to give a wise word or a charming little story, but that’s really not where I've been lately.  And see, I'd much rather you believe that I have it all together.  So, I avoided writing even though it's an outlet that I find healing, but it can also be painfully hard to write and open up when you’d just prefer to hibernate and come out of the den when things are much more rosy in life.

  I have a love/hate relationship with journaling.  One one hand it's one of the best ways for me to process my thoughts, as I often don't even have words for them until I tap them out on the keys of my laptop. But, on the other hand I hate it because at times when I go back to read past entries, I see how far I haven't comesame problems and same negative thoughts just another day or, even worse, another year or more! Ugh!  And it causes me to feel the shame... the what’s wrong with me? kind of shame.

  What is wrong?

  I've been in a rut for many months and I've been trying hard and running as fast as I can to get out of it, but the stress, anxiety, mood swings, scary heart palpitations, and disorder have caught up to me and wrestled me to the ground helpless.  Wrestled me into a pit that I can no longer out run or work hard to get out of. And in the black depths of it I've caught my chest and cried heaving. All the while the words in my head on continuous loop

What's wrong with me, it's never going to turn out well and if anyone ever knew what a major failure I was I'd be so ashamed…even I am ashamed of myself.

 I've cried out to God for help but I mustn't really have given Him much time to give me an answer because I haven't felt Him.  I know enough in my pit to know that I need to focus on the Lord, but sometimes I just don’t know where to begin.
  Where to begin with God?  As I pose this question right now, it comes into my head,

In the beginning was the Word,
 and the Word was with God,
 and the Word was God.

The Word.

  Jesus.

  The Word became flesh.

  Jesus.

  Begin with Him.

So right here in my black pit I go back in my mind and remember the beginning.  In the beginning of getting to know Jesus it was His love that drew me in.  His undeniable-unconditional-no-need-to-do-anything-doesn’t-matter-what-you’ve-done-come-as-you-are kind of love.  That’s the kind of love that gets through the junk inside...the years of pain, shame, and anger built up.  I've been there with Him.  I've lived in that Love.  But for someone who’s been there so deeply and had Him move in my life so amazingly time and time again, how do I find myself feeling alone and very much outside the scope of love, and the scope of dreams, and the scope of joy undeniable?

  How does a loved-one wander?

  I consider the ways and I find that it wasn’t intentional, my wandering.  I didn’t just one day choose to give Him less of my time...and I’m talking one-on-one time, talking time, listening time, quiet time, bible time.   Somewhere in the midst of being a wife, raising boys, managing a home, working, leading a children’s ministry, being a daughter, sister, friend, etc I’ve lost my Center.  I’ve allowed myself to be pulled by other people’s expectations, my own ridiculous expectations based on impossible images of success, and I turned from the only image that truly matters...Jesus.  
In that turning and losing sight of my Center, I’ve stumbled. I’ve stumbled into a fear/work/shame cycle...the work-harder-faster-go-go-go-what’s-wrong-with-you-why-can’t-you-do-all-of-this perfectly kind.  No one’s actually said that to me but it's what I hear over and over in my mind, and I’ve become a slave to my own ridiculous demands and impossible standards.
  How does this happen?

  And I consider this, Am I much different than the prodigal who knew the love and the comfort of his father’s home but chose to go his own way and do his own thing, only to wake up one day and wonder, how did I get here?  How did I wander?

  He looked at himself in the pig pen and he started to remember.  He remembered how good he had it in his fathers house...how could he have wandered?  He came to the realization that the only thing he could do was go back; go back to the beginning...go back to love.  

That’s where I find myself. Wondering how did I get into this mess?  How did I wander away from the pastures of love and acceptance into the hardness of performance and shame and never good enough?  How did I trade peace for anxiety, love for performance, joy for fear?  It wasn’t a conscious choice.  And I don't think I have much more going on than anyone else does.  In fact aren't we supposed to multitask and juggleisn't that the norm?  Maybe...but for me it's not working because in the juggle I dropped the One True Thing that holds it all together.

  I don't have a nice little way to tie this story up.  No wise words or charming anecdote.  Just really writing to understand.  And I’m only just realizing that I’m at the end of what I can handle.
But, in my end, I stumbled back to the beginning

In the beginning was the Word,
 and the Word was with God,
 and the Word was God.

Jesus.

So today, I’m beginning again...

Jesus, it’s great to meet you here!   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

a moment...


I tip-toe into their room at 10pm to put a just-ironed shirt on the dresser, and as I turn to leave, I can’t resist their peaceful sleeping faces so I turn and go back in.  In, to kiss lips and cheeks and foreheads; to breathe in the smell of just-washed hair and to linger and stare at irresistible faces.  How are they 10, 8, and 6, and where did the time go?  The hours clocked as a mommy sure do seem to linger and hurry all at once....lingered when they were babies and seem to have picked up the pace as elementary schoolers...sometimes I can almost hear the time ticking away.  As I kiss soft, freshly scrubbed faces I choke back the thoughts that one day they'll be grown and won’t be here, under our roof for me to bend and kiss in the dark as they sleep on a school night.  So, I stay longer on flannel sheets and study faces propped on spiderman pillow cases and I give abundant thanks.  

Tomorrow we’ll wake up and the clock will start ticking away again, and someone will push his brother a little too hard, another will spill milk at the breakfast table because he’s messing around instead of sitting on his bottom and eating nicely and, I’ll probably have to tell them all over and over to hurry up and get ready for school and then wonder (out loud...very loud) if when I speak any sound comes out because everyone just keeps going about their business instead of responding. But tonight, I rejoice over them, kiss them like crazy and thank God over and over for allowing them to be mine.
 And I cherish this night that we are all under the same roof.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Just Do It

In August I accomplished a tough goal.
  I ran a 5K.

  Now, you need to understand, just 8 weeks prior, I was not a runner and never had any plans to ever run, unless of course someone was chasing me and I had to run for my life.
  And I really wasn't planning on having to do that either!
....just sayin'.


But since I cancelled my Y membership nearly a year ago, I hadn't done much in the way of exercise, and I was feeling it...run-down and blah.  So when one of my closest friends mentioned she wanted to start running, I heard myself saying, I'll do it with you.

What?

So we started meeting early in the morning at a local park in mid-June.  We used the Couch to 5K app, C25K, on our iPhones and off we went.  I know that sounds all easy-breezy, but it was far from it!  Our area has a lot of runners and driving into this park on that 1st morning, it became pretty obvious where they all hung out.  Suddenly, the 2 girls who had never run, were two outsiders walking into a club that we clearly weren't dressed for, or even knew how to blend in to.  It was a bit intimidating to say the least.  So, doing our best to push past that, we set out with our iPhones programmed to week 1/day 1.  I was thinking, Ok, I'm a bit scared of how this running thing is going to go, but I'm not exactly coming from the couch, I mean I do run around taking care of 3 boys so surely I must be starting with a bit of an advantage over the couch potatoes right? But at the end of that 1st day of training, alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes, I was seriously wiped out, beat-down and haggard!  What's worse is I could barely make it up and down the stairs for the next 36 hours.  My non-workout body was in utter shock and my mind was screaming, Just Quit! 

It wasn't pretty and quite frankly if I thought there was any chance my friend wouldn't be waiting for me at the park on day 2, I would have gladly ended my running career right then with a tap of the snooze button, and rolled over to enjoy more sleep.

But I persisted and met my friend 3x a week for 8 weeks until we completed the program.  There were great times of being with my friend and connecting, there were agonizing times when we pushed our bodies way beyond our comfort level, and in summer heat no less.  There were hysterical times like when we set out on our 1st day of running 2 miles, and as soon as we finished our warm-up and began running, the sky opened up and poured torrential rains upon us.  We kept going and laughed most of the way.  The irony was just too much...us running 2 miles in the rain?  We realized that we non-runners had somehow become runners and I was now one of those people I used to call crazy.      

Anyway, we finished the 8 week program, and the very next week we ran a 5K.  It was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  During the last mile I felt as though someone was pummeling my stomach and I was so hot it felt like my head might explode.  But we came across that finish line running.  I was so happy it was over so the pain would end.  But also, so happy it was over because I accomplished a really hard goal. 

And because it was so hard to accomplish it means so much more.   




So this is what I learned...

1.  It's good to get out of my comfort zone and try the hard thing that I don't know how to do.
 (That's a huge stretch for me because my nature is quite the opposite...I generally like to know how to do things before I decide to do them.) It was a great mental and physical challenge to take on something I didn't know how to do.

2.  If I change a bit of my routine, I can change my life.
  Prior to June I had no exercise routine.  But making a place for it in my life over the past few months has helped me mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  That one change in my routine has changed the shape of my week. 

3. Doing something new with a friend anchors you to that goal.
  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would have quit had it not been for my commitment to my friend.  After the pain and the heat exhaustion, I would have rationalized my way right out of accomplishing that goal and would have gladly rolled over in my bed on day 2.  Without knowing it, she kept me there and I so enjoyed the bonding that experience brought to us.  It was a richer experience because I did it with a friend.
  
4. Give yourself some grace and remember to laugh.
  Woo, is this a biggie!  Grace, grace and more grace.  Remember to come as you are, start where you're at, and just to be all that you can be.  Abandon any temptation at comparison and just do it.  Don't take it too seriously...it's running, not the ER.  I used to always say that when I was a general manager at Gap.  When things were just too crazy stressful, I would say out loud, to myself and whoever else was standing nearby, we're selling jeans, not working in the ER people...let's just chill out! 

5.  Finally, celebrate the accomplishment.
  I did it!  Accomplishing a goal that all of my life I never thought I had the desire or courage for is hard to describe.  But it stirs me on.  It makes me realize that I'm made to do more than even I ever imagined.  It makes me want to keep going.  

I feel the strength and motivation to go after more goals.  Suddenly possibility and hope rise up and bring a certain freedom.  Freedom from small mindsets, freedom from even how I viewed myself.  

Makes me want to see what else this girl can do.



Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday? 
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Did It!

  Well, here's my scary before shot in my cousin's chair.  Look at all that hair...yikes!  


She ended up cutting off 15"!  I wanted to donate it but apparently color-treated hair is not acceptable.  I would think that seriously leaves out about 99.9% of women, but whatever.
So the 15" inches went in the trash and this is what I was left with...


I didn't turn into Gwyneth or Sandra but I LOVE it!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Fruit Appears

source



A friend sent this scripture to me the other morning...

But what happens when we live God's way?
 He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.
 We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness  permeates things and people.
 We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Galatians 5:22-23 (the message)


It was a very timely word for me because on Monday I am entering a new season with different responsiblities and I'm not quite sure how it's all going to go scheduling wise.  A season that has all 3 of my boys in school full-time...Kindergarten, 2nd grade and 4th grade.  A season where I'm not needed to be a stay-at-home mom.  That's a huge change for me because that's been my primary role for over 9 1/2 years and I was comfortable with it.  Still, I'll be here for them in the mornings to get them off to school and when school lets out, I'll be in the carline to bring them home, but in between my days will be different.  I'm nervous and I'll miss not having one at home, but I also am gaining a bit of excitement for what the season holds. 

As I prayed all this year about what I was to do, anticipating this new season coming, two jobs plopped into my lap over the past few months.  These jobs felt right and work perfectly with my family's needs.  I knew that they were answers to my prayers.  But still there's been this nagging anxiousness that has me questioning, how am I going to do all of this?  How am I going to juggle all of these hats?  Mommy, wife, home manager, children's ministry leader, 3-year-old teaching assistant, student (gotta take a college course for one of the jobs), volunteering in each boy's classroom, PTA vice-president, friend, writer, etc.

The thought of juggling schedules and doing it all well has been wearing on me before I even begin.  I was forgetting that I spent the past year praying for this season.  Praying for God's direction and will for me and my schedule.  He's the One who's brought me into each of these things; He's given me the hats to wear. How then, can I put each of them on and forget to look to the One who gave them in the first place?  Scary how easy it is to attempt to take this on in my own power and knowledge and forget the One from whom all wisdom comes.

He knew and so He turns my head back towards Him with His word...
  
And my anxious heart is soothed by the promises for those who live God's way...even in a new season.
Promises that He brings gifts like fruit that appears in the orchard.  I love how the scripture says appears...like it just shows up one day.
Gifts like affection for my children, my husband, my friends, the children I care for and minister to.  Exuberance for life and serenity even when my days are packed with activity.  A willingness to stick with the things He's given me, even when it feels hard.  A deep sense of compassion in my heart for those around me, even 13 little 3-year-olds.  A conviction that believes a basic holiness permeates my labor and the people in my charge.  An ability to remain and be loyal to the duties and people I've committed myself to.  And maybe even best of all, no need to force my way in life.  Trusting that because He's made the way, I am able to direct my skills and energies wisely.  All I need do is rest in Him and let this new season begin.  

So, whatever season you find yourself in, know that if you're doing what God has called you to do, He will cause you to bear fruit.  No effort of your own can bring it about, at least not the lasting, satisfying kind of fruit.  All you need to do is rest on His Vine and watch the fruit appear. 


This was just the kind of reminder I needed this week. 

  
source


Is this your first visit to Freedom Friday? 
We're embracing freedom each Friday here in 2012.
Click here for a list of the other posts in the series.


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