Thursday, March 24, 2016

Finding Beauty in the Hard

Life is hard, sometimes it is so hard we cannot even breathe for the weight of it.  Sometimes hard is in the death of a loved one or the death of a dream or the death of a relationship. Sometimes hard is the day in and day out living with deadlines, tantrums, unmet expectations and feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes hard is disability, addiction, mental illness, and chronic pain.

Sometimes hard is feeling lost and alone in a sea of diapers, crying babies, monotony, loneliness, dishes and laundry. Sometimes hard is waiting for the letter to come that the adoption is finally settled. Sometimes hard is hearing once again that you have not been accepted for that job. Hard is real life stuff and it is all around us- in the people we know, the people we pass on the streets-the people that appear to be together and happy...

I think that sometimes as Christians, we get uncomfortable with the hard stuff of life. We don't want to talk about it. We don't want others to talk about it. We think it makes us "less than" or make us appear "weak in our faith".  We also let the hard stuff define us. We start to think we are useless to God, we don't volunteer, we stay isolated, we stick to what we know, we ignore the callings on our lives and we walk alone amidst a crowd of fellow wounded healers who don't even know we need them as much as they need us.

I am learning to find the beauty in the hard. I don't like it when life is hard, but I love the Jesus that meets me in the hard stuff. I love how He seemingly stops time to give me space to breathe in and out, to remember that I am alive, that blood is pumping through my veins and that this too shall pass. I love how He brings people and moments and lays them at my feet as if to say- "Look Liz! LOOK what I can do in the middle of this mess." I love how He whispers in my ear and into the depth of my soul- "You can take one step in front of the other Liz. You can go through this storm and I will show you how strong you can be as you lean on me." 

I love how I remember that it is good and okay to cry, to cry OUT and to cry for no apparent reason other than whatever is happening at the moment is not what I expected, what I wanted, what I thought was "the way it is supposed to be." I love how the place of disappointment reminds me that this world is not my home and then allows me and reminds me that I need my Savior Jesus Christ.
 
The Bible has SO much to say about suffering...it is just dripping with words that a suffering soul needs- beautiful words that heal, soothe and calm...
 
Matthew 5:4
4" Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
 
Psalm 119:50
"Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles."

Isaiah 61:3
"To grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified."

Beauty for ashes...We trade our sorrows and our ashes, leftover from a life of sin, burned in the pit of hell, and we take beauty...His beauty...We put it on, we wear it, we live it out loud, we let it shine from our souls and shout from our lips.

The hard stuff of life is nothing new to our Savior, who was mocked, betrayed, beaten, crucified on a cross for our sins.
 
Isaiah 53: 3-5
"He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 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."

By His wounds, we are healed. He was despised, rejected, lived with sorrow and grief. He was alone. He was pierced, crushed and chastised. And by His wounds, we are healed.
 
Romans 10:8-10
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

My prayer for all of you during this Easter season is that as you walk amidst the hard stuff in your life, that you will become acquainted with your wounded healer- Jesus Christ.
  

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Inspirational Moments in the Interrupted Life of a Mom

If I haven't said so before I'm going to say it many times throughout this blog post I think mothers are amazing. So often we forget all of the ways in which we surrender our  lives on a daily basis to our little people. I think that being a mother is one of the best gifts that the Lord can give this selfish, want my own way, introverted and hate to be interrupted, totally driven by being productive – kind of woman. I want to chat for a minute about interruptions...

My oldest son Lincoln,  who is now eight years old has perfected the art of interrupting my finely crafted plans for the day with his delightful hour long conversations about well- the extremely meaningful and minute details  of the day to day life of an eight-year-old boy.  Today he told me that he turned around and bumped into a little girl in line behind him in their lips touched.  He then wanted to talk about all the different ways you could make a square – all the different shapes possible. He asked me if I wanted him to teach me how to draw a cube.

Lincoln has also has become the expert at noticing when I am the busiest around the house and insisting that I must see what he is doing at the opposite corner of the house – typically involving doing some kind of stunt, a new Lego set up, or some kind of science experiment he has concocted in the bathroom sink. Today we spent about 20 minutes trying to get an old birthday balloon that had floated up to the top of our stairwell.

The process involved a hanger, a little boy on tiptoes and a mother about to have a heart attack. But apparently I was like a superhero once I actually got the balloon down.


I know he's my son, but I happen to think that he is the most exquisitely designed and the most beautiful work of art.  And all of those moments that at the time seem entirely out of my plans, uninspirational and lacking in agenda – are the moments worth recording, worth being interrupted  for and totally the stuff of motherhood that brings me the greatest joy.

The other day we were saying good night and I was praying and I said- "Lord God, please forgive me for not always being the best mom that I can be for these boys." And after the prayer was over – Lincoln said to me – "I don't know why you prayed that, you are always the best mommy for us. You play with us, you listen to us, you get us snacks even when you're tired, you think of fun ideas for things that we can do together, and you tell us about Jesus."

Benjamin is my four-year-old and still my baby. He carries around a Blankey like Linus- Who he lovingly calls – "Little Blanko." I think he is the cutest and most hilarious kid in the world. We were watching a YouTube video the other day of the Air Force parachute team singing Taylor Swift's  song "shake it off." He loved it and said the absolutely most funniest thing – there was a moment where the parachute team included to parachuters, one was on his knees and the other one was standing on top of the other one and they were of course floating in the air. He said to me – "mommy I will be the guy on top and you have to be the one on the bottom. OK?" This little guy somehow believes that is 38 year old mother is brave enough to jump out of a helicopter and perform stunts with him –hey, he believes in me! Good, good stuff.

Today I came home from work after struggling to get through the day with some type of a stomach bug. I honestly wanted nothing more than to lay on the couch and be left alone. My husband had a meeting to go to and as he left I wanted to cry. My boys paraded downstairs with shouts of – "Mommy– Lincoln threw up three times today!",  "Mommy-can you get me some applesauce?", "Mommy–come look at my new Lego creation!" At first I wanted to crawl into a hole, but instead – drink some ginger ale, ate a few crackers and dragged my body up the steps. I laid on my unmade bed – recently stripped due to all of the puking going on and my four-year-old thought it was funny to take pictures of me.  Then I told the boys it was time for Bible study. We found Jesus videos online talking about Easter. Those boys sat and watched the entire story from the Lord supper all the way until Jesus rose from the dead. Probably sat for about an hour. You can't tell me that was not a holy moment – right then and there.

 We will always have interrupted and inspirational moments as moms. Let's make sure we are always willing to be interrupted so that we don't miss out. Preaching to myself of course!