Consider the lilies

27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:27

Last month Nathan and I made a decision. Like most decisions with us, the conversation is brief, but our actions apart and together will suddenly mirror a mutual heart tug, and suddenly we are living into a new calling.

It started with Becca. She and her husband started this beautiful non-profit that I have prayed for and followed for years and now they are building a new community space that will be larger than their already full home. We went to the fundraising event and said, “Yes, we are in.” We committed to monthly support.

Then, before telling Nathan, I lent a friend a lot of money. When I told him, his response was “of course you did…” WITHOUT sarcasm.

A week later, (after telling ANYONE who had asked since July, “We ARE going back to Romania!….someday…”) we found out that the church is indeed going back next year. As if God said, “Are you going to be all talk?….” We knew that a second trip meant we are probably self-funding. And Nathan said yes. I did too, but then I waffled.

Because I always waffle. And then I bought some extravagant gifts to show some people close to me some extravagant love.

Without, a pointed conversation, Nathan and I had to decided to truly live generously; with open hands, because nothing we have is truly ours.

In the midst of these joy moments, we had a medical emergency, and Gabriella had an appendectomy. We were covered and protected and God’s grace shone through every moment.

I was so full of praise until the medical bill came. I planned and budgeted paying it off, and thought I regained composure. Until another unexpected, pricey dental procedure caused me to go into full panic mode.

27 Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Luke 12:28-29

Today, driving myself and BOTH kids to eye appointments I thanked God for insurance and asked forgiveness for my panic. Praying aloud, both kids heard me ask God for more faith over our finances; that he would stretch the dollars and honor our efforts, if we were not frivolous.  (I know me telling you what I prayed might seem trite, but stay with me…)

30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Luke 12:30

I was calm, until I found out that one set of glasses, with insurance, was still more than my budget could easily handle. I wore my heart on my sleeve, and thankfully the sales lady stopped the hard sell. I did some mental math and decided what I needed to do (i.e. Zenni for two of the three pairs). I also thought “I will put it on the credit card and figure it out next month…”
The credit card was declined, because I never called to activate the new card. So, I just outright paid for it.

I apologize for the play by play and what probably feels like a too intimate look into what we Americans hold as a sacred privacy over our finances. However, I value transparency, and health and provision are my perpetual triggers. The anxiety that can be managed at a low roar becomes a deafening din if illness or money deficits occur. Our necessities are covered, but I begin worrying about groceries in three weeks, tapping into safely guarded savings,  and potentially not meeting obligations of generosity and faith that we committed to.

All of this was swirling in my head as I pulled into RaceTrac. I was trying to answer my gut that said, “Go ahead and reward those kids who were soooo well behaved; even when you freaked out.” My kids live for a RaceTrac Icee. I pumped gas wishing I had my husband’s reward account that would have gotten them for free. It is such a small thing, but I had just prayed….”if we aren’t frivolous,” and in my mind that was exactly what I was doing: wasting money on a frivolous thing. But my money anxiety is not my children’s burden to bear, so we went for it.

For some reason the line took a long time. I wasn’t sure why, but I was so preoccupied that I wasn’t even impatient. As we were waiting another clerk walked to the other register. She motioned us up. I gestured to the kids who already had green and blue mouths, “Three small Icees..”

“Uh huh. You’re good.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Yep. You’re good. Have a great day.”

I truly think she thought I was an idiot because it took me so long to figure out what was happening. I just stared at her. When it registered, I bumbled a thank you and herded the kids out the door.

“Mommy, you didn’t pay! Are we stealing right now?!!!” Gabriella exclaimed as we walked across the parking lot. That is when the tears started.

$3.05. That is what they would have cost. Just that little. But I didn’t have too. And I cannot explain it.

Guys, I’ve been desperate for whispers that bring peace and calm my whole life. And I felt held, known, and loved with that free Coke Icee. It felt as my Savior and GOOD GOD, in moment of humor, said “Can you chill? I’ve got this.”20181006_183548.jpg

Gabriella came to me for “snuggles” this evening, and asked about her glasses being expensive. I attempted to navigate with wisdom and truth, telling her that it is not something for her to worry about. While they did cost money we have to look for the grace in the situation: we are blessed to have insurance and that all of our needs are taken care of. We are grateful for what we have been given.

I might not be calm everyday, but I will go to bed tonight with a bit more peace.

 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Luke 12: 31-32

…and a free Icee.

Save a Wretch like Me….

Yesterday morning, while doing devotions with my children we talked what Maundy Thursday was, about how Jesus humbled himself and washed the feet of Judas; the man who would betray him. We talked about serving, and counting ourselves lower than others. I felt proud that my children seemed to understand why Jesus’ example was so important.

Fast forward to much later in the day and I …. forgot. I found myself frustrated by a situation and reacted in a way I should not have. I talked through the situation with my sweet Nathan, and he looked at me and said, “Look at me. You did nothing wrong.”  And friends, if I shared the whole story you would probably agree. I did not publicly share air my frustration and annoyance, instead I quietly commiserated with a peer and moved on.  I harbored my annoyance and….judgement in my heart.

The heart is a tricky thing. And I am writing about this now because I shared with my husband out of feeling defensive…. and shame.

What seems like a lifetime ago, reading Martin Luther on the regular, I stumbled across a quote (and this is paraphrased mind you) where he lamented that the closer he got to God, the “more wretched,” he realized he was…

This is where I rest. good friday verse

The more I try to take a posture of grace, the more I realize how frequently I fail to offer it.

When I was in high school, I brazenly told a righteous adult, “Your judgmental spirit, will send you to Hell as well….”

How frequently those words have come back to haunt me.  The Spirit prompts me frequently to notice the said and unsaid judgment made on the world around me. With this comes waves of guilt, and a proneness to allow shame to be my “go to” — the emotion I allow to control and interrupt every facet of my life.

With time, I allow myself to come back to arms of grace. Oh, how grateful I am for grace. The grace of the cross, that radically changes lives and Spirit that moves so violently that I can even be convicted of heart change that is still happening in me. He is still working, moving, and by the GRACE OF GOD, someday, I will find grace and humility will be my natural breath.

It is Good Friday friends. The day that our Lord, suffered the most gruesome of deaths, to save our wretched souls. My soul. Yours. I am contemplating today, how often I trivialize His grace by throwing it back in his face with my sin of thoughtlessness, and am undone in the beautiful reality that this is exactly why He did what he did. His grace, and love covers a multitude of sins…. even mine.

Come to the cross today. Wherever you heart is– whatever burdens or shames you– He covered it, for you.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.  ~Is. 53:5

 

Year of Harvest

In every single “year end review” that has been posted I have seen a common thread: this year was … Not a good one. The word that I actually want to use can be abbreviated to two letters : C. F. 

The world hurt. Our country hurt. Alienation and angst prevailed. And so many face-palm moments. Nathan and my prevailing current events conversations went like this:

“Hey, did you see….” 

Yes or no depending on the appropriate answer.

“Are you serious?” 

And then we would sigh. Together. And just look at each other, because what was there to say?

My confession is that I did not hate this year. Despite all the uncomfortable, we were blessed beyond measure and the hard stuff has brought about movement in a better direction. This has been a year of personal reflection and acknowledgement of things holding me back. Small break throughs put me on a path of continuous change. And, 10 years in, I have a strong hand holding my hand and joining me on that path. I have seen so many prayers answered this year that my faith feels just a little stronger.

And I saw mermaids this year. My little sister got married. We went to Disney. 

I am grateful. 

I have struggled with what word to choose for 2018. Ready? Move? Malleable? 

Grow. 

I see 2018 full of opportunity and potential:

To grow.

Spiritually

Relationally

Professionally. 

Physically.

Creatively. 

I have always been drawn to the agricultural imagery in Scripture. Probably, because farming on a small scale has been such an important part of my upbringing; the back-breaking work of weeding and pruning, watering and care. I have watched apple trees die for no apparent reason.

 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. “

 We all cried over a tree full of peaches lost to a lightening stike.

” Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.”

 I have seen vegetables rot because I did not time their harvest right.

 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. “

I also remember a summer snapping beans after dark and helping my mother can 128 quarts of green beans. And this year, while my Father’s apple trees failed to pollinate, Granny’s rose to the occassion and brought more apples than we could eat. 

 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

I see myself in these memories. Years where I sputtered for no apparent reason. The years where hard work and planning still ended in disaster. The year I felt like I was struck by lightening, and I was surprised we survived. 

I am hopeful that this year I will grow. I imagine I will need some pruning, and the right mix of the Son and rain and nutrients. 

And maybe, this year we might return a harvest.