Thursday, July 18, 2019

Lenses to see

Pain shot through my eyes again and despite my knowledge that it was not a good idea, I rubbed my eyes hard and suddenly, the world went blurry. We were at a street fair just walking around. I called for Scott to come over and help me find my contact that was now shoved up into my eye. It popped out of my eye and was super dry, and I knew it wasn’t going back in. I took the other one out because I know vision in only one eye produces some pretty hefty headaches. 
When I looked up after having taken out my contacts the world was a muted blur of colors. I looped my arm through Scott’s because without my glasses, I see nothing but a blur. I see colors but no real shapes or depth. Obviously with my situation, we were heading home but the kids wanted ice cream. We stepped up to the ice cream truck and I got right on top of the sign squinting in vain to see any of what it offered. The kids pointed and ordered and then Scott turned to me and asked what I wanted. A little embarrassed of my predicament I quietly said, “I don’t know. I can’t see.” Scott realized then said sorry and read through the list. I ordered my soft serve vanilla cone, and the woman handed it to Scott. I could then tell he was holding it out to me, but it was even hard to see that close. I slowly held up my hand and he put the treat in my hand. I then looped my arm through his, and we headed to the van where thankfully my glasses were in my bag. 
I didn’t think much about it again until this week when I was attending a leadership class at my church when our leader, Patty Sodmont, was speaking on honoring others. She spoke on seeing people through God’s lens. She gave us the definition of lens and of being the research nerd I am I looked up more information on different lenses. Here is what I found..
“These include tilt and shift lenses for perspective control, soft-focus lenses for portrait photography, and infrared lenses for capturing light outside the normal spectrum. A specialist lens is used to produce some sort of special or creative effect, and so they have limited use in general photography.” 
I felt God’s prompting for me to connect the dots. When I put on God’s lens it is truly like going from my blind state without my contacts to vision. If I had only known a world with my own God given eyes, I would never know what I was missing. This is why “corrective lenses” are often on my list of blessings. Without my glasses, the ivy that winds up my porch would be a green, gray mushed mess. With my glasses, I can see the different greens with shades and highlights. I can follow the veins of the leaves into the intricate patterns and raindrops that reflect the spectrum of light. With my glasses I can see the true simplicity yet beauty that God created. 
Then I went to prayer. God began to bring to my heart a broken people Not just broken, but people are ostracized and condemned by men. For whatever reason, people that others feel it is their right almost their duty to tear down. Though sometimes through choices of their own, these are the people that we see as unworthy. We don’t say that (at least most of us don’t). We do make it a point to see around them.  To see through them. Hardly ever to see them. I mean really see through God’s lens. Not to just see what is happening today, but seeing the why. Not seeing people for a way they can fit into my agenda, but seeing their intrinsic value created in the image of Christ Jesus. But putting on the lens of Christ and seeing past the filth of the world that Jesus looks past with me everyday. 
How quick we are to demean people over their own choice of mud. I teach a unit on soil here in second grade, and any 7 year old can tell you that you can call it “humus,” “clay,” or “sand,” but at the end of the day it is all dirt that Mrs. Demi makes you scrub off your hands before the bell rings. We may all find the dirt in different ways, but thank you Jesus for the blood that God sees us differently. 

I don’t know about you, but my five children have been muddy. Photographic evidence below! I know what is hidden beneath. Muddy or clean I look at them through the lens of a mother. I need to start looking at everyone through the lens of my Father. When I put on his lens, everyone comes into focus. No longer am I seeing blurs but all the intricate details. It changes my perspective and helps me see outside the ordinary. I see deeper and truer. That is my prayer.



Sunday, May 26, 2019

Miracle in the Mountain


I took my elementary size finger and followed the wood grains in the pew. I would trace and jump from one set of lines to the other. Sometimes I would try to make pictures out of the different lines and swirls. As I traced over a particular steep slope, the priest came to a scripture in the homily (gospel reading) that gave me pause.
Matthew 17:20 English Standard Version (ESV)
20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”[a

In my child’s mind, I pictured Jesus saying to the mountain move, and in a cartoon like fashion, with a face on the mountain at all, the mountain jumps up and moves over a couple feet. I chuckled out loud. Mom gave me a look, and I stared to silently trace the pattern again.

 Last summer at a prayer meeting, I felt this verse rise up in a prayer. No longer did I see the big cartoon. This time I saw the REAL mountains.  Death. Cancer. Depression. Addiction. Abuse. More fearsome than any storm the mountain weather could throw at you. As I began to pray on this verse, I saw it in such a new light. If we have faith God can move our mountain, He does. Not always in the way we expect or on the choices we so carefully outline for Him, but move it He will.

He moves MOUNTAINS. He moves the things that seemed rooted to the foundation of the earth. He parts the oceans with a breath. To us that is the real miracle- making supernatural things happen in this natural world. But that doesn’t come close to the miracle of a family reunited after the pain of drug addiction. To the miracle of a healing treatment for the cancer that seemed unstoppable. For the gift of forgiveness offered in a situation where the very thought seemed impossible at the time. A hand offered, a heart softened, a soul redeemed. There is the miracle in the mountain.


Monday, May 20, 2019

Toliets and Tootsie rolls

God spoke to me yesterday while I was cleaning the toilet.

"Let me explain...no it is too much, Let me sum up."*** Bonus points for naming that movie.

There is a thing with me and God with tootsie rolls. I just found this clip from my journal about a year ago....
"So....Rachel had tootsie roll lollops the other day. I remembered that I used to love those and had not had them in such a long time. On Friday I asked Scott to stop in at the dollar store and get me some. He came back and handed a bag of lollipops...with gum in the middle. Not tootsie rolls. :(

I was so disappointed. Scott said he had search for the tootsie roll ones but couldn't find any. That Sunday my Pastor did a message about God seeing us. Knowing the intimate details of our life. Showing up in places we didn't picture Him. After church when I was gathering up my stuff, I was thinking how awesome it would be for God to really see you and call you. My mom walked up to me and simply handed me 3 tootsie rolls. I had today her nothing of this story. She said she had them and wanted to know if I wanted them. I laughed out loud because I know my God has a sense of humor."

Back to my bathroom. Yesterday I was cleaning  and as moms of boys know, this is no quick wipe and go job. It is a full out mission. Scrub and scrub some more. So I was on scrub number two and I was listening to praise music. Because doesn't everyone listen to praise music while scrubbing urine off the floor. The song that was playing was "Give me Faith" by Elevation Worship.

As I have been feeling overwhelmed lately, worship helps center me. How great to realize the sun doesn't rise and set on me and my victories or failures? That the sun will rise tomorrow (probably) even when the night seems darkest. So here are the lyrics to this song I was singing along with

I need you to soften my heart
And break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You're shaping my life
All I am, I surrender
Give me faith to trust what you say
That you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life
I need you to soften my heart
And break me apart
I need you to pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me
All I am, I surrender
Give me faith to trust what you say
That you're good and your love is great
I'm broken inside, I give you my life
'Cause I may be weak
But Your spirit strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will 

And then I swear (as true as I want to get to heaven as my mom would say) I found this in my bathroom. 



I don't remember the last time I had a tootsie roll. Or my kids either for that matter. Although is has been too long since I scrubbed down the bathroom (including walls), it hasn't been that long. Where did the wrapper come from? Sometimes I believe God sends us these little reminders that He is there. I do not have a God who is in some far off place who has set the world in motion and then said good luck. I serve a God who knows my heart. Who walks with me in sure times and doubt. Who rejoices with me in good times and cries in bad. This little symbol reached out to me and reminded me that "I may be weak, but Your Spirit is strong in me. My flesh my fail, My God You never will." Through it all, He is shaping me and my life into what it should be day by day and lesson by lesson. I teared up a little when I saw the wrapped and smiled. Closed my fist around it and squeezed. 










Thursday, May 16, 2019

Get up and fight


As He went along , he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples ask him, "Rabbi who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?" "Neither this man or his parents sinned, said Jesus " but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."...Having said this he spit on the ground and made some mud with saliva , and put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him wash in the pool of Siloam (Sent)So the man went and washed and came back seeing."
John 9:1-3,6-7

Then news travels fast. People knew this man was born in affliction and something or someone reached into that hell and pulled him out. They saw real change and needed to know where he found it. Everyone wants the magic elixir to take away all their woes and fix it all. I am not alchemist, but you can look to all the ends of the earth and there is no such potion.

"Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't no sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it." Rocky Balboa

A question a lot of people often ask in a tragedy is "If God is so wonderful, why did He allow this to happen?"  Before I share my findings, I don't want to minimize the pain people who are in a tragic situation are feeling. It hurts and is unfair. I assure you that the destruction that takes place in this world breaks His heart as well. BUT, the Bible very clearly says that this is not our home. We don't belong here and to that I say "AMEN!" Also, God loves us so much that He will never force anything on anyone. Good or bad, even if it breaks His heart, he allows us to make our own choices. Even, if it quite literally kills Him.

Because we live in a broken and fallen world, bad things happen. Some based on our own choices and some because of others choices. Sometimes it is no ones choice and unavoidable. Pain, disappointment, and scars will come. What can we do with it? How can I use this pain and turn it into good. How can I take this particular situation and bring glory to the God of the universe that gives me the strength to not only stand, but stand firm. To not only walk, but fly with the wings of eagles.

When the darkness comes, you have three options. You can run. This never ends well because darkness can move faster than you. You can laid down and give up. Another idea that never really produces the results you want. Or you can fight. The only catch is that I am not strong enough to fight. Heck, I can’t even stand well on my own with a strong breeze coming my way. But I found the answer!

1 John 4:4 New Living Translation (NLT)
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

I will not be swallowed by darkness. I believe that it is darkest right before the morning comes. These aren’t just pretty words and feel good emotions. This is truth. How do I apply this truth.

1. Believe it. Tell yourself. Remind yourself daily, hourly, minute by minute if you have to that you are deeply loved by the creator. God loved you so much that he would go to hell for you than be in heaven without you. He took the wrath of darkness on Himself so you didn’t have to. He stood between you and death and would not let it take you. He had fire in His eyes, but an endless love in His spirit. Say it out loud. I am loved.

2. Throw out that trash the enemy is telling you. You are worthless or not loved? I don’t think so. Jesus went to the cross for me. Things will never change? I have the Resurrecting power of Christ in me. When those negative thought come, do not give them soil to grow in. You kick that trash to the desert.

3. You walk in that TRUTH. I believe in God’s grace and mercy, and I will not be a prisoner to my past mistakes. I believe God has a plan for my life and I will take one step and make one decision at a time and I will walk forward.

The best miracles are birthed through pain. The best endings are victories while fighting the most vicious foe. God says your story isn’t over and He will not let you be snatched from His hand. Dig deep. Go to the quietest corner of your world and tell Jesus that you are going to walk it out with Him. Hold out your hand and say let’s do this. Because I have places to be and the world to change. God, only through you can I walk through flames of defeat and the smoke of failure. Take my hand and let’s walk. May people see the power of Christ in me through the pain and situations of this world. God, help me to walk through the darkness and bring light to those who need it.





Sunday, May 12, 2019

Perfection

           
When I was a kid, I would spend hours and hours trying to best this game. For those of you who might not have had the pleasure of playing this game, the objective is simple. Get all of the pieces in place before the timer goes off and the board pops up, throwing the pieces everywhere. I was terrible at this game. As soon as the timer would begin, each tick would vibrate through my soul. Sometimes I would freeze up, and wouldn’t be able to put one piece in. Sometimes I would start off strong and think I for sure got it, and then pop! All the pieces would come spilling out. I never remember ever getting it.

            Adult life is a lot like this. Striving for perfection. Laying all the pieces out. Hearing the ticking time bomb. Not making it in time and watching all the pieces bounce and clank. Got that mom piece in, now looking for where I put the wife one. Got teacher, sister, and daugher in place, but that reflect Jesus piece slipped out of my hand and rolled under the fridge.
            I may never get all my pieces in line at the same time this side of eternity. That is ok. There is no perfection. Sometimes I feel like everyone else has all their pieces in and are just sitting there with no ticking, and no weird shaped pieces, and no one screaming that the cheese pizza has green specks which you try to explain is flavoring but they are never eating pizza again….
            I need to learn to give myself some grace and a break. Some Days I may be on a roll ( It may happen..) and other days I may have trouble getting the game out of the box or maybe missing a few pieces. That is ok! I am ok! I also know that the One who created the flowers, thunderstorms, and rainbows is also directing my path and helping the pieces to fall in place. I never got this, but I know that WE do. That assurance is worth all the successes, failures, and victories on the way.


Friday, May 3, 2019

IT'S NOT HER FAULT!

Bella- Mom, the tooth fairy is not real. 
me- Why would you say that?
Bella- one time Luke put a tooth under his pillow and it took the toothfairy forever to put a dollar under the pillow. 
me- Look, just because the toothfairy is an incompetent hot mess doesnt make her any less real.
I may need this on a T-shirt

Monday, April 29, 2019

Right or Left




My dad was not a patient man. A funny man? Yep. A stubborn man? Definitely. A man who could fix any car problem I had and squeeze wine from water. Sure. But patient he was not.
                My dad taught me how to drive. The first day I had my permit, my dad was trying to convince me to get into the car in our driveway. “No,” I told him. “I am not ready.” “You have your permit. That means you’re ready. Get in the car.” – (language cleaned up. You are welcome.) He told me that I didn’t have to go anywhere, but I just had to pull forward and backward in the driveway. I should have known better since this was the same man who ALWAYS said “I am not going to pull it. I just want to see how loose it is.” AND every time he would yank out my tooth. The man was not to be trusted. I got in the car and he climbed in beside me. After a slight panic attack, I got the car in gear and very lightly pushed on the gas. I pulled to the top of the driveway. “Ok, now just pull onto the road,” he said in a very calm voice. “No way dad! I am not doing it. You said I didn’t have to!” After a fun screaming session back and forth, I did pull onto the road. Cruising the streets of Bakerton at a cool 5 miles per hour and praying that I wouldn’t kill us both.
                One day, my dad came to pick me up at the high school. He got out of the car and told me that I would drive home. I wasn’t happy, but I got in the car and buckled up. I, unlike my father, has no problem accepting my weaknesses and knew that the buckle was the only thing standing in between me and ever seeing the light of day. We pulled up to the red light in the next town over. I Stop. My dad tells me to take a right turn. The light turns green, and I start to make a right. “RIGHT THERESA,” he screamed at me. “I am!” I yelled right back.” “You are going left I said RIGHT!” He grabbed the wheel and saved us from crashing to our death- or making my dad’s insurance go up which is the same as sudden death.
                You see, even when I was a kid, I would mix up left and right. I don’t know why. I would always have to make the “L” shape with my thumb and pointer finger to figure it out. As a 17 year old drive,r I guess I still had similar problems. I would like to say this was a one-time occurrence, howeve, it wasn’t. The next time this happened and we got into a screaming match, I told him that I get confused. From now on he had to say bracelet or watch. The watch was on my left wrist and the bracelet was on my right.  “Are you serious right now?” “Yes,” I started to cry which is dad kryptonite. “I feel overwhelmed and confused, and you just have to say watch or bracelet!”  He sat in silence, probably wondering why his high honor student could write a 20 page research paper but can’t get left and right. But he started to say it. It was the tears I think.
                The day of my test, my dad took me up and told me good luck. The instructor got in. It didn’t go well. At one point, the instructor told me to turn right. I thought I did until he began to yell “I said RIGHT! This is a one way street!” Apparently, my driving instructor missed the “watch or bracelet memo.” We got back and the instructor got out and walked back into the building. Dad asked me what happened. I burst into tears and told him that he said right and I went left! Then I was on the wrong street and in the wrong lane. I cried the whole way home and my dad tried to calm me down. He told me not to worry about it and I would do better next time. It was the tears- Dad kryptonite I tell ya. For my next chance he took me to a different center where I just had to drive around a block basically. No risky things like saying left or right to confuse me.
                At 38, I am not much better at taking directions as I was as a 17 year old. I am not talking about basic driving instructions. Although  I have been know a time or two to have my GPS yell at me “recalculating” because HE missed the wrist or bracelet memo. Plus I don’t wear either anymore. I am talking about the which path should I take questions? What I am suppose to be doing in this big, vast world? Am I in the right place? Should I stay or move on? Am I where I was meant to be? Am I the only one who sometimes feel like they are stumbling around in the dark?

Psalm 25:4-5
Show me the right path, O Lord
Point out the road for me to follow.
Lead me by your truth and teach me
For you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.

                Let’s be honest here.  I have no idea where I am going. BUT I do know who I can ask, which is better than a GPS.  I can stop, breath, and ask God to show me where I should step. When I should backup. When a U-turn or recalculation is needed. I ask my Father which way do I go? I find myself a quiet place and say simple prayers. “Jesus, which way should I go. Give me the desires of Your heart. Make the things that move Your heart, shift mine. Let all the things that are not You drop away. Guide me Lord.”
                Then I let it go and watch. I look for reminders and encouragement that I am going in the right direction. If I feel uneasy and this path is going against what I know to be true, I turn around. How I wish I was like the psalmist and could say “My steps have stayed on your path. I have not wavered from following you. “ Psalm 17:5 I am a work in progress. I have no doubt that sometimes I may end up going the wrong way down a one way street, but I also know that my co-pilot will get me right on track.  
                Isaiah 42:16 says “"I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, In paths they do not know I will guide them I will make darkness into light before them And rugged places into plains These are the things I will do, And I will not leave them undone." I am claiming that. He will make my darkness light and will smooth out my path. I just have to keep walking and asking for the light.
                On the plus side at least the Bible has mercy on my right and left confusion.
Stay straight my friends.