The Privilege to Cry Out

Are you lonely?  Confession: I am.  Somehow, even with 7 billion other souls on the planet, it’s remarkably easy to feel alone.  Maybe you’re away from home for the first winter, ever.  Maybe you’re a mother – surrounded by little people but somehow still an island.  Maybe you’ve entered a season of life where the house is quiet and you’re a little bit lost.  

Maybe you’re even right next to someone who cares about you, but you still feel lonely.  It’s not really about physical presence of others in these moments.  Sometimes all we want is someone to really see us, to talk to us, to recognize our burdens and triumphs.

To remember us.

There was once a man, physically close to others – the entire city could see him, in fact.  But he was alone, desperate to be remembered by just one of them.

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” Luke 23:42 (EHV)

We are certainly not in the kind of dire situation in which the criminal on the cross found himself – our daily struggles are not as dramatic as imminent death by crucifixion.  Our days are filled with unfolded laundry, unanswered voicemails, un-ending To Do lists, disciplining children, disciple-ing ourselves.  But certainly the Lord looks with equal love and mercy on us all, no matter what mire we’re drowning in. 

At the heart of it we’re all the same.  We feel inadequate and unworthy, judged and misunderstood.  And rightly so as flawed and fallible humans living among other humans.   But the Lord does not judge us for needing him.

And we are never alone in any of it.  The Lord has invited us, specifically, to pray to him.  To approach Him as our Father, and ask for anything we need.  Perhaps we’ve grown too formal in our prayers, or too timid, or have forgotten that no problem is “too small.”  It’s time to borrow a sentiment from the criminal’s very brief prayer life.  No overthinking.  When words fail us, and we feel like a 5-year-old alone on the side of the playground, we have the privilege of simple, profound prayer.  We, too, get to cry out in our frustration and despair, “Jesus, remember me!”

And He will. 

“I pray that you would be able to comprehend, along with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep his love is…” Ephesians 3:18 (EHV)


When Your Ordinary Life Isn't Anymore

Has your body ever failed you?

The range of ways that this could happen are really quite infinite. Maybe you recently injured yourself and are no longer able to participate in your usual exercise. Maybe your blood pressure has been creeping up the past few months despite the dietary changes you've made or the change in your activity level. Maybe you just found out you have gestational diabetes and feel like you just can't catch a break between the pregnancy pains and your new carb restriction. Maybe you've been diagnosed with cancer, and well, cancer sucks (that is a direct quote from my dear friend who is currently fighting this battle)! 

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. While the diagnosis has been a relief on some levels (there is an actual answer) and the "treatment" so to speak is pretty straight-forward (banish all. the. gluten.), I would be lying if I said it hasn't been rough. I still have a decent ways to go in repairing the damage done to my body prior to my diagnosis <insert mug of bone broth here>, and I'll be honest, I'm over it. 

As anyone with an autoimmune disorder that has flared can tell you, I have felt generally terrible. It's not really something you can fully describe to someone who has not experienced the same but it involves feeling a complete loss of energy, tired and weak, and well, like I said, generally terrible.  And wow, has it been discouraging and isolating and downright annoying. 

To compound this, my son was also diagnosed this year with Celiac Disease; so now I'm taking on double duty in trying to keep him from the seemingly unending amounts of gluten at his disposal when we go almost everywhere. I thought I felt isolated, but this poor guy is only four and has to watch while other people get the treats, and he doesn't. As I'm sure any of you allergy moms out there understand, it is sad to witness.  

Generally speaking, Celiac disease isn't so bad. Removing gluten from our home wasn't exactly easy but certainly wasn't the most difficult thing ever. Our family is probably a decent amount healthier as a whole because of it. However, so much of our world outside of our home revolves around food whether we want it to or not! It is difficult to go to a friend's house for dinner because I am not sure if I will get an accidental exposure. Going out to eat is hardly worth the hassle when you try to explain to your waitstaff that nothing the chef uses can even touch  gluten or you could get sick -- often even for a couple weeks. Have a busy day with kid activities and want to just stop and grab something quick for dinner, forget that. Your non Celiac kid wants to enjoy some gluten and also share kisses with you? Wait, hold up! Want to celebrate a holiday with family? Don't forget to bring your own meal. Want to participate in communion not at your home church? Better quick find the pastor and see if a gluten free wafer is available.  Your kid's class wants to bring snacks for everyone? Well, it can be for everyone but your child. I could go on and on with all the different situations I have encountered over the past year, but here is the actual point of my complaining: 

I just want to be normal again. 

I just want to NOT think about gluten, like ever. I want to have a delicious sandwich, or piece of cake, or a donut. I want my kid to go somewhere and not say "Does this have gluten in it, Mom?" 

I just want my ordinary life back. 

Maybe you've been here where I am? Have you been in a bit of a funk or even depression about what life has had in store for you lately? Have you felt angry? Lonely? Cried many tears?

What does God have to say to us in these moments?

1. He has a plan. We might not know or understand the reason behind God's direction of our life (and we may never) but God is our almighty Father, and we can trust Him.

  • Isaiah 55: 8-9, " For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
  • Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

2. We need not worry. God is in control! He will give us exactly what we need when we need it!

  • Matthew 6:25-27, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat of drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
  • Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

3. Pray to Him. It's so easy for me to forget this, but we should pray to our Father (we don't even have to have the words!)

  • Psalm 50:15, "Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."
  • Romans 8:26, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

4. Heaven is our final glory. Ultimately,  our time on this earth is temporary (thankfully). Heaven is our glorious home!

  • Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
  • John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
  • Philippians 3:20, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ."
James 4_13.png

It can be hard when we are stuck in a rut with something bothering us in our life. It can be so easy to lose sight of our gracious God and wallow in our own misery (even if we are in fact somewhat or incredibly miserable). But God is here for us. He did the amazing and sent his extraordinary turned ordinary Son to die for us. If He is able to do that, at the very least  He can and will provide me with my daily bread, even if it does have to be gluten free. 




Am I Doing This Right?

IMG_0470"Wow! You're Super Mom!" I looked up, startled, to see a woman walking toward the table at the supermarket where my four children and I are eating hot dogs, a lunchtime reward for a successful shopping trip. My children, their mouths full, are all eating quietly and politely, and nobody is throwing any food or whining about their ketchup. It's a good day. "I just wanted to compliment you on your well behaved children," says the women. "They've been eating so nicely and quietly. You're obviously raising them well."

"Haha! Thank you!" I stammer, an awkward joke at the tip of my tongue. I'm not sure what else to say. I'm never sure what else to say when this happens. Because, believe it or not, it's happened to me more than once. The couple at the restaurant, the old lady at the zoo, the man in line in front of us at the post office, and now this lady at Costco. All of these random strangers observing my family during a calm, peaceful outing, and complimenting my parenting. This should feel amazing, shouldn't it?

While it does feel a little nice to hear I'm "raising my children well," I'll admit my initial inward response when I hear this is defensiveness mixed with laughter. Sometimes I crack an awkward joke in response like "you caught 'em on a good day!" or "Yeah, they are being really well behaved. I'm starting to get suspicious." I want to tell these well wishers about all the times my family wasn't so well received by the general public. Like that time I tried to go out to breakfast with my three children under age 3 and the meal culminated in my 1 year old standing on top of the table and pouring an entire pitcher of syrup all over herself and the table while my baby and 2 year old screamed? Yeah, we did the walk of shame out of that one. I can still see the waitress's fake smile and gritted teeth as she eyeballed the syrup and deadpanned "have a nice day" while we high tailed it out of there. Or just last week, when my five year old threw an epic toddler-style tantrum about her shoes or her bike or something. She was kicking and screaming and rolling around on the sidewalk while we were supposed to be out on a nice family walk. The elderly neighbor out gardening who raised one eyebrow over her fence and muttered "oh my..." definitely wasn't paying our parenting any compliments.

It's funny how easily one kind word or raised eyebrow from a stranger can make or break my day. It feels so great to be admired and so awful to be scorned, that I find myself giving the desire for admiration undue attention. I will catch myself worrying over others' approval, even in instances where it doesn't matter! Will they like what I'm wearing? Ugh, this hair cut! I should have worn different shoes. Am I too underdressed for the occasion? Did the way I said that sound ok to them? What do they think of my kids? Am I doing ok? Maybe I should be stricter? Is that normal behavior for a four year old?

In truth, the only person I have to answer to and seek a yes or no from is my Lord. I spend so much time wondering and worrying over what other people think of me, whether I'm making the right decisions by worldly standards, when I can just take my concerns to the Lord in prayer instead! I can pray for guidance and help in my parenting, in my business, in my life as a homeschooling mother, in my marriage, in my friendships. I can look to Him for the model of how I should be acting and behaving on a daily basis.

"Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually." 1 Chronicles 16:11

And I can confess those times I fall short, ask for grace, and rest assured that I'm forgiven.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

Lord, am I doing this right? Are my kids alright? Did I respond to that situation with the right mix of love and discipline, Lord? Help my kids, Lord. Help me be the best mother I can be.  Forgive me for the times I've been short tempered, angry, unresponsive, or lazy with them and others. Thank you for the times you've given me glimmers of a hopeful future with them. Keep them always safe in your care, and help them to have a strong and healthy relationship with you as they grow. Amen.


Waiting Eagerly

extra surreal forest Last week I ordered something online that is just about due to arrive. It was supposed to take about five days to get here, and today was day five. So I spent the better part of the afternoon obsessively glancing out my front window wondering whether the delivery truck would arrive.

By six o’clock, the awaited package still hadn’t arrived, so I stopped glancing out the window. But I didn’t stop thinking about the arrival of the package. I imagined myself opening it, and what exactly I would find inside. Would the contents of the package be everything I had hoped for?

Unable to stop thinking about the package and the excitement I anticipate feeling upon its arrival, I found myself telling my husband all about it this afternoon. I chatted with him about the package’s arrival. “It’ll probably come tomorrow.” I told him, “Or maybe the next day. I’m not really sure, so we should just be sure to have one of us here at the house at all times until it gets here, so it’s not stolen off our front porch.” I told him about what I ordered and what I hope to do with the contents of the package when they are finally in my possession. Telling him felt effortless, because I am just so excited that the package I ordered is arriving in the mail soon!

Just after Jesus ascended into heaven, his disciples behaved much as I did today while waiting for my package to arrive.

“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky?” (Acts 1:10-11)

The disciples stood staring into the sky! They did nothing else with their lives! They just stood there, watching and waiting for Jesus to come back. They stood there waiting for so long, in fact, that two men dressed in white (possibly angels?) had to appear and tell them to stop it!

“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)

Jesus himself had just told them, literal moments before his ascension, that he would come back at an undetermined time.

“Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)

Because the time is unknown, Jesus’ disciples knew they needed to be ready at any moment for His return. The parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25, if you want to look it up!) taught them that the wise virgins (aka the wise followers of Jesus) were prepared for the return of the bridegroom (aka Jesus). The foolish virgins missed his return, and were denied entrance at the wedding banquet. So the disciples watched, and waited, in order to be prepared for Jesus’ return.

After the angels rebuked the disciples, they ran off and began a more productive form of watching and waiting.

“Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:12-14)

They joined together constantly in prayer! What may seem an excessive and over exuberant way for me to wait for my package to arrive in the mail seems like the perfect way to wait for Jesus’ return, doesn’t it? The disciples prayed constantly, and then they spread out and shared the Good News.

Here we are, nearly 2000 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection as His disciples, still watching and waiting for his return. But we have the opposite problem of those early disciples. The early disciples were eager for Jesus’ return to the point of doing nothing else with their lives other than to stand and stare hopefully at the sky. In today’s day and age, many people have done the opposite and thoroughly moved on with their lives. Those who aren’t Christian scoff at the idea of Christ’s return. Those who are Christian forget about His return on a daily basis. His return can feel like a far off if not possible event, one we are unlikely to experience in our lifetime. But the end is near, always.

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. (Matthew 25:13)

His return could happen in another two thousand years. But it could also happen tomorrow. Or in five minutes. So keep watch! Do as the early disciples did and "pray continually." (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Don’t give up meeting together. Don’t give up sharing the Good News. And don’t give up teaching and praying with your children so that His Love can be passed on to the next generation. Let your enthusiasm for Jesus' return far surpass the enthusiasm you feel for an eagerly awaited package arriving soon in the mail.


My Christmas To Do List

I kind of thought this Christmas would go a little differently. You see, in my mind I thought I would be able to actually do it all! You know the list a million miles long of ridiculous crafts, home-made gifts, and scrumptious treats that MUST BE DONE for Christmas. My theory was this year is the first year that I am neither working (outside the home) and do not have a newborn. I figured this little dynamic lack of duo would somehow open the clouds and shine a spotlight on what I know now was imaginary time. Time I wanted to use making my Christmas perfect. Obviously, that didn't happen.

My husband's work schedule was out of control the last six weeks. My son got roseola, like for real, and was out-of-commission sick for an entire week. My daughter came down with a fever. I will just stop there. You know the exact story as I'm sure it's happened to you at least once. Plans get ruined-- it is kind of how life goes sometimes, maybe even a lot of the time.

As I sit here nibbling on a candy cane (mind you, I was given these candy canes because I certainly have neither remembered to buy them nor have set foot in Target in a while...), I'm thinking I need to just get over my to do list. My tree might remain only partially decorated. I might not have a chance to fashion some outrageous DIY centerpiece to my already cluttered table. That wreath on my front door with the red lit spotlight might never get hung. I might only make that free bag of Honest Company sugar cookie mix that they sent with my last diaper shipment instead of a huge homemade batch. My children likely won't match on Christmas Eve. My children probably won't get all the gifts I had planned. My online shopping binge might not get delivered in time.

But that's okay.

I think I actually want my to do list to change. Christmas isn't about all this stuff. I mean, the stuff is fun and helps everyone get excited and certainly makes things festive, but it is still just stuff. 

I challenge you to revise your to do list! But I'm making it easy for you... we can share!

It's short. It's simple. It's easily accomplished!

  1. Read the story of Jesus. Read it to your children. Read it once. Read it twice! Read it from the Bible or your child's Bible. It doesn't matter, just read it!
  2. Prepare your heart for Christmas -- use an advent calendar, do an advent study, go to advent services, sing some Christmas hymns, do something that helps you focus on Christ this Christmas.
  3. Pray! Pray for peace and happiness. Pray for those less fortunate. Thank God for the past year of trials and blessings. Pray for your faith to grow this season.

Christmas to do list

Have anything to add to the to do list? Please share anything else you find you need to do before Christmas to get yourself ready for Christ's arrival.