Christmas Day 2017 thoughts


(Virgin Mary and Eve
Crayon & pencil drawing by Sr Grace Remington, OCSO
© 2005, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey.)

Today started off with dog poop on the floor.  Not exactly the picturesque Christmas morning.  Ugh.  But the good news is, it got better from there.

We didn’t visit with family, except by phone today.  Just watched the boys act like they weren’t surprised (cause that wouldn’t be cool) about the bikes they had parked next to the tree.  We didn’t buy them new bikes.  We refurbished James’ nice custom mountain bike and gave it to Connor and purchased a barely used BMX bike on Craigslist for Ryland.  We didn’t break the bank and the boys now have wheels.  Before we know it they’ll be behind the wheel of one of our vehicles.  Yikes!

James’ pulled off some surprises by getting the family a dishwasher.  We’ve been washing by hand for a year or so.  It’ll be nice to not hear such a fuss over whose turn it is to do the dishes.  James and I laughed when we opened the gifts we got each other- he booked us both for a Spartan race in February and I booked us both for a Tough Mudder race in March!  I guess we’ll either be really fit by spring break or injured.

Today two of my friends lost one of their parents.  Both loved Jesus and are now enjoying the fullness of life, joy and glory they were redeemed for!  Teach us to number our days Lord.

I went for a run today (gotta start training for these races).  I always think a lot when I run.  Today I was thinking about that verse in the Bible that says:

“Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Cor. 15:55-56).

I’ve heard those verses before, but it really struck me today- the sting of death is sin!  We hate death so much and fight against it so much because of the shame of our sins.  If we faced death and we weren’t bearing the guilt andshame of being liars, cowards, adulterers, abusers, vengeful, selfish, proud, oppressive, bitter, lazy, sexually immoral, murderers, etc., well we be ok with it… like coming to the end of a book maybe.  But it’s the fact that we know we’ve had this life and we’ve messed it up that makes death sting so much.  We long for life.  We don’t just want to not die, we want to live.  We want to be made right.  We want to be free of guilt and shame.  Only Christ can free us like that. Only Christ can take away the sting of death because only Christ can take away our guilt and shame and put abundant life in us.

Today is we remembered that Christ has come.  He came to bear the guilt and shame and condemnation for our sins and give us life.  He came not to take away death, but to take away it’s sting.

And as surely as he came over 2000 years ago, bearing our sins and removing our shame,  he’s coming again to make all things new.

Come, Lord Jesus!

When your heart is broken on Valentine’s Day

It’s not that other days with a broken heart aren’t painful.  It’s just that on Valentine’s Day everywhere you look, go or listen pink shiny hearts and candy pour like salt on your wounds.

I’ve waded my way through the gushing pink day with my own busted up heart many times.  This year I do it again.  If Valentine’s day feels like a mockery of your broken heart and a deceitful allure to try and find love in cheap thrills I offer these three rescuers:

1) The Lord whose heart was pierced right through is with you and me.

I don’t know what broke your heart.  Maybe it’s the death of someone you love.  Maybe it’s the betrayal of a dear friend.  Maybe it’s a prodigal child.  Maybe it’s a divorce or a breakup.  Maybe it’s a daily hard keeping of your covenant. Maybe it’s the rejection you’ve endured time and time again.  Whatever pierced you through and is causing your physical body to hurt and reel from the wrongness of what has happened or is happening, Christ has felt it in his body too.

“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.” – Isaiah 53:5

Blessed are those who turn to our wounded Savior for healing.  For us, he is enough.  We don’t look for healing in chocolates, or wine, or romantic cards, or a dozen perfect thorn-less roses.  Jesus is enough for us.  We hurt, but we know our hurt is not the end of the story.  His brokenness has redeemed ours.  Every weapon formed against us will fail.  Every trap laid, every betrayal, every rejection will only be for our formation into the likeness of the One who saves us.

“no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed,and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment.This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.” -Isaiah 54:17

2) Only the Heart-Maker can be your heart-healer

The only one able to heal our broken hearts is the one whose heart was pierced for our transgressions.  Our hearts may break because death has inflicted a crushing wound or because betrayal has stabbed and turned in the place where we loved, but Christ’s death and his sin-bearing body swallowed the power of sin and death.  Only Christ, the Word made flesh, the Image of the Invisible God, only he can heal what was meant for destruction.  Only he has the power to bind up our wounded hearts and bring real healing.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” – Isaiah 61:1

Blessed are those who believe that Christ was not only wounded for our transgressions and has the power and the mission to bind up our broken hearts, but he is also the one who miraculously designed our brokenness that he might bring about our healing and the spreading of his glory in our lives.  He breaks us and heals us to cause us to know him for who he really is- the One who lays down his life for us.  There is a cycle of death and resurrection that spreads life in every way he works with his children.  This is his design.  This is his way.

Come, let us return to the Lord;for he has torn us, that he may heal us;he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.After two days he will revive us;on the third day he will raise us up,that we may live before him.Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;his going out is sure as the dawn;he will come to us as the showers,as the spring rains that water the earth.” – Hosea 6:1-3

3) Your broken heart poured out in love of Jesus is like priceless perfume spreading his aroma everywhere!

Your broken heart is not a waste!  The pain you bear is not for nothing.  Christ has borne our sin in his own body!  He has made us one with him.  He has joined us to God in peace and unbreakable covenant.  When we pour out our bleeding heart on him and see our aching lives as his, for his use, for his purposes, for his glory, for an eternal harvest, our cracked up stories become a broken bottle of priceless perfume spreading the aroma of the worth of Christ to everyone in our lives.  Not everyone will smell him as beautiful, but those who do will be drawn into knowing him too.  As Ann Voskamp says, what some mistake for destruction is really growth.  Our lives become a seed, planted and falling apart in this earth to spring up life-giving life.  And Christ says that is a beautiful thing!

“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” – Mark 14:3-6

Blessed are the ones who see their lives in light of God’s great story.  Blessed are those who don’t say, “YOLO!”  you only live once,  and suck as much life for themselves out of this broken place as they can, but rather they say, “YOLF!” you only live forever, and let their redeemed lives be planted in this world that others might live and know the worth of the One who has loved us to death!

Dear Beloved Brokenheart, you walk the path of ever lasting life.  You walk hand in hand with the author of such a life.  Let every expression of love you see today be a reminder to you that your life is not your own, you are Christ’s, and He is yours, and because of him all your pain is for the spreading of the priceless aroma of the God who so loved the world that he gave his only Son.

Mixed feelings on 42.

As of today I’m 42.  

Today is a mixed bag of emotions. The day started at 5:30 AM, which is an hour and a half sleep-in compared to the 4 AM wake up call on workdays.  The baby goats are being separated from their mom’s at night to begin the weaning process, so when I walk the acre from our back door, under the stars, to the corral where they’re at, I’m greeted by 7 goat kids screaming, “MAAAAA!!”

I tiredly fed the baby girl (The 6 boys we have left I stopped bottle feeding in the morning.  They seem to be getting what they need from their mom’s and will be weaned completely from milk by 2 months of age.) and then thought I’d sneak back into the house and sleep more until 7:30 and then come back and milk the momma goats, but I decided to just get the milking chores done and then nap after.  The nap finally came at 12:30 after morning chores and a guy responding to our Craigslist ad for free mulch came to pick up a load… and I did some reading.

James put the boys to work yesterday and today for their first 2 days of summer break.  Yesterday he had them purge every closet, cabinet and drawer in the entire house.  Today he had them cleaning the back patio, garage and barn.   They did good.  I think they’re happier when they do hard work.  

I, on the other hand, refrained from all chores and soap making today.  I spent some time reading and thinking and praying about dear friends, broken relationships and people I care about with major things going on in their lives.  I also decided to pull out the Jamberry gel nail kit I bought like 6 months ago and actually paint my nails.  It put the nail in the coffin for me.  I am not a nail person!  I just don’t want to spend an hour of my life painting my fingernails.  They do feel nice, but I feel a little like a cat feels when you put scotch tape on his paws.

The day started getting heavy when I got news that my grandpa Don passed away this morning.  Grandpa Don has been married to my grandma Oleta since I was about 13.  I was not close to him but I know he had a servant’s heart… always helping and serving my grandma and her kids and grandkids.  For the last few years he’s had to live in a memory care facility due to his worsening Alzheimer’s disease.  It’s been hard for my grandma Oleta not having him at home as she’s been struggling with a lung cancer diagnosis and her own health issues.  I know my grandma is grieving the loss of her brother this week too.  My heart is heavy for her.  I wish I lived closer!

Grief is a hard thing.  You don’t have to experience a physical death to experience grief.   Divorce and betrayal can create the worst kind of grief…  for more than just the couple and their immediate family.   I tried to face that grief with vulnerability and love today in a very small way.  Someone asked me why not just ignore it.  I can’t.  Love can’t.  Forgiveness can’t.  Ignoring it is just letting it fester deep inside.

Tomorrow I’ll start at 4 am and end at 9 pm with breakfast, a 12 hour shift at the hospital and a quick bite to eat in between.  Repeat twice.  Then I’ll be home for three days to plan the summer events with the boys, make soap and lotion orders, ship soap, hopefully sell some more bucklings, attend a Linear Appraisal from the ADGA and hopefully do a trip to the library.

I can easily fall into the trap of living under the tyranny of the urgent.  I don’t want to though.  Taking a day like today to rest from the normal business is a good way for me to look the Urgency Tyrant in the face and say, “God’s in charge.  Not you.”  I think that’s in the Bible somewhere.  🙂

Every year that passes I am becoming more and more in agreement with the heart cry in the prayer, “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom!”


Ruins of glory

We live among ruins.

More than 12 years ago, James and I went on a cruise. One of the places we visited out of Cancun, Mexico was some Mayan ruins… can’t remember what it was called. When you visit a site of ruins there is intrigue and interest in what the ruins speak of. The old rock formations tell of a people and a time long gone. There was life there once…

I often find myself thinking, “We live among ruins. And glorious ruins at that.” If we could just hear what the ruins of this life speak of. I think we’re too enamored with the beauty and pleasures to be found in the ruins to see that they’re just old rock formations, lifeless, compared to the living glory they at one time displayed, and one day, will once again display.

Today I took my boys to attend the funeral of fallen Phoenix Police Detective John Hobbs.  I didn’t know Detective Hobbs or his family.  But,  because I am the wife of a detective his age, with kids his kids’ age, I felt very compelled to go honor the man and support his family.

It’s amazing how close we can get to truth and yet float right on past it.  I heard John Piper recently say we’re like a rocket in space that comes oh so close to landing on the planet of truth in Christ yet we never actually enter the atmosphere and drift right on by.

Detective Hobbs was apparently a very honorable man and excellent police officer.  He had a reputation as a man who put his family first and apparently he also openly confessed his trust in Christ as his savior.  The pastor of his church said that Hobbs was a man who was turned off by overly “spiritual” people who professed to be Christians yet didn’t walk the walk.   I think that’s probably true of most honest, hard-working men in general.  They want to see the proof in the life not just the church-speak and thus are often resistant to the shallow, club-like American Christianity they are surrounded by.

The pastor also used the opportunity of a funeral to point the audience to Christ.   He mentioned that even as good of a man as Detective Hobbs was, he was still a man who needed a Savior.  He compared what Detective Hobbs did in sacrificing his own life to save the lives of his fellow officers that day, along with protecting the public, to what Christ has done for us.  He said, “Christ came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.  He said, ‘Greater love has no one than this,  than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

I looked around the audience at a room full of mostly men in police uniforms and prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let us come so close to the truth of our need for Christ, even looking at ruins of an example of your sacrifice to save us in the death of this officer, and leave here without landing our hearts on our need for Christ too!”

Detective Hobbs life and death was a ruin of glory.  He was a man created in the image of God yet fallen; a man with a God-ordained authority and job that speaks through the ruins of his fallen life of the God-Man who has all authority and who laid down His life to save those who trust in Him.