Thursday, June 14, 2018

Is it really?


I’m sure glad this sentence isn’t a Bible verse.  Some people think it is, but it isn’t.   Because there are many days when my house is not clean!

As you probably know, I am not the one who cleans here.  Historically I have been the one who coordinates the unwilling servants (aka children/teens) to do chores, but Bart has always preferred to do the cleaning… and most of the housework.  With his foot in a cast and strict orders of “no weight bearing for 12 weeks” I’m the one doing the cleaning.  And there are only two kids here, both adults, and they don’t really do chores, though they have been fairly helpful.

The one thing I hate most about cleaning is that it just gets dirty again.  Super fast it seems.  So what is the point in cleaning in the first place?  Keeping it clean I suppose would be an option, but we have 8 and 3 year olds here who while they do pick up their toys, are not capable of “keeping things clean.”  

I know, I know, a bunch of personal Claudia stuff again, but it leads to a point.

In Psalm 51 David prays, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.”     This is a prayer that we often pray as well.  But I wonder if God ever feels the same way about me as I do about cleaning the house.  I wonder if sometimes he thinks, “Good grief!  I just cleaned your heart the other day and it needs cleaning again already!?!

The bad news is that our hearts do get cloudy and need cleaning.  Often.   But according to Psalm 145:8 God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. That means that no matter how many times our hearts need cleaning, no matter how many times we need to have a “right spirit renewed” He is there to answer that prayer.

And that, my friends, is good news.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Peace


This morning I had a lovely drive from Danville to Lynchburg.  The weather was perfect early this morning and there is one spot on my drive that is absolutely breathtaking.  You head around a curve and suddenly a glorious landscape of trees and hills bursts into view.  God unveiling his majesty to me, personally, on every trip. :-)

I arrived and I'm the only one in this whole section of my office building.  I’m alone and it is completely quiet.

And oddly those two things have calmed my frantic spirit.    The beautiful drive and the quietness of the office have reminded me that Jesus is the one who can calm every storm.

Remember what happened to Peter when he looked at the waves instead of looking at Jesus?  That’s what has happened to me the past few days.   I have been focusing on the wrong things and it has robbed me of my peace.

Are you with me?  Is your life, like mine, turbulent?  Feel like the storm is about to overtake you.

I pray that we will all be able to take a minute to focus on Jesus and allow him to speak peace to us.  

I love this line of the song I’m sharing today:

I don’t want to fear the storm just because I hear it roar.

Here’s to a day where we can cease fearing the storm because we know the One who can calm it in an instant.


Peace to you today.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

What if???


It takes a lot for me to feel maxed out.   I have been through a lot of things in my life and am thus pretty resilient.  But lately, I’m maxed out.

You probably have seen me whining on Facebook about picking up all the household stuff.  Bart always has done the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping.  My role has been taking care of our calendar, our social life, all of the kids schedules and their therapy, IEP, school activities.  I am responsible for all phone calls as Bart hates the phone.   And I work.  A lot.  I love to work.

But now, I am doing all of the things I always do and all of the things he always does and that is a LOT.   In addition, my mom, as you may know, is not doing well.  They are thinking of sending her to the care center, which I know she does not want.   But she may need it and I’m not there in person to navigate the decision.  Because she has been so confused lately, I’m not even sure I can trust what she says to be true — which is awfully weird because she has always been my source of truth since the day I was born.

I also have a few situations with some of my kids that are tenuous.  I won’t go into detail but they involve kids living with birthparents, a son in prison, and citizenship issues for our boys adopted from Guatemala.

I need to do our taxes and have a huge insurance battle to fight in regards to Bart’s foot.

And work is so exciting lately I can’t stay away from it.  So by the end of each day my mind is spinning.

I feel the most maxed out when I start projecting into the future.   When I start thinking, “What if….” my anxiety takes over.

What if my mom needs to move and I can’t leave Bart to help with getting her stuff packed?  What if her last lucid days I’m 1000 miles away?  What if Bart’s foot isn’t fixed and this is our new normal?  What if I can’t figure out the issues of citizenship and my kids can’t have access to the things that are rightfully theirs since their adoption provided guaranteed citizenship?  What if things explode with my kids who are living with birthparents and they want to come back here?   and on and on and on.

Jesus clearly tells us to stop doing the what if.  He says in Matthew 6:34:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If you’ve been playing the “what if” game, STOP IT.   Take it one day at a time.  God’s got you.  And Jesus specifically told you not to.  

And here is our friend Amy who has been around for decades reminding us to “consider the lillies of the field”


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Isn't it enough?


Ever go through a season where it seems like every thought in your head is whiny?  Where complaining and negativity drown you inwardly, even if you are gracious enough to share it with the world?  Or possibly you are sharing it with several people.  I’ve been whining to 1800 on Facebook about having to do housework while Bart is recovering from surgery.

One of my favorite stories in all of Scripture is the story of the Isrealites who wandered in the dessert for 40 years.  The reason it is one of my favorites is because it so thoroughly points out that humanity has been the same through the ages.   The same attitudes, challenges, and mistakes that we make on a daily basis they were making thousands of years ago.

I thought this verse was particularly profound in Numbers 16:

Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?

It is Moses’ response to the Israelites when they were rebelling against what God had told them.  And it isn’t he first time Moses uses these words with people.  When they complained and whined he would ask them, “Isn’t it enough that God has ________

If have something that you are whining about today I encourage you to write your own “Isn’t it enough” statement and go back and look where God has brought you.  Start it with your name and the words, “Isn’t it enough?"

For example, Claudia, isn’t it enough that Bart got you both to and through Bart’s surgery without a hitch?  Isn’t it enough that I have given you strength to get the tasks done every day so far?  Isn’t it enough that I provided you a husband who has done the laundry and cooking and cleaning for 22 years and is only taking a 12 week break?

Often when we put things in perspective it helps the whining to stop.  Try it and see if it works!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Ever feel like Mishmannah or Makbannai?


It’s my guess that you have never heard a sermon preached from 1 Chronicles 12.  It is just full of names of people we had never heard of before.

For example here are verses 8-15:

Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.

9 Ezer was the chief,
Obadiah the second in command, Eliab the third,
10 Mishmannah the fourth, Jeremiah the fifth,
11 Attai the sixth, Eliel the seventh,
12 Johanan the eighth, Elzabad the ninth,
13 Jeremiah the tenth and Makbannai the eleventh.
14 These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. 15 It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west.

And there were plenty more names in 1 Chronicles.  But here is what hit me when I was listening to these verses:   Each of them did their part. Similar to the book of Nehemiah that talks so much about teamwork, David was an amazing warrior because of his army — each individual person who was willing to risk it all for the sake of the cause.

Maybe you feel like Mishmannah or even Makbannai some days.   Whether it’s at work, at church, or even in your family — you can sometimes feel like you are the fourth or even the eleventh in the line of power.  (That can happen when you have 12 kids :-) — but it can also happen in a large extended family situation).   

As I read through the names above it strikes me that even though there was a pecking order, they were all considered important.  They were all said to have the same characteristics.  Even Mishmannah the fourth and Makbannai, the eleventh, were reported to be brave, to be ready for battle, to handle the shield and the spear.  They had the faces of lions — and were swift as gazelles.   It wasn’t just those who were “high up” in the chain of command that were awesome.   It worked because everyone was all of those awesome things and were willing to play the role God, and David, had given them.   And everyone faced the same enemy.

I don’t know what application that has for you, but I believe we it’s important that we all remember that we have roles to play that God has assigned us and that someone's role doesn’t make them any more or any less valuable than anyone else.   If we are fighting in God’s army and totally committed to him, we are ALL brave …. we are ALL to be ready for battle…. we should ALL have the faces of lions.

Two songs this morning, possibly repeats, but equally awesome.



Friday, May 25, 2018

Seriously?


“Seriously?” you might be saying.   “I have stories for you about how love has failed.  Let me tell you about them.”

I can imagine that is your response because it is mine too.   There have been times in my life where I have loved well.  I have poured myself into a friendship, a romantic relationship, or a family member until I couldn’t do more.  I look back and I feel that I couldn’t have loved much better.  But it didn’t turn out like I thought it might so, doesn’t that mean that love failed?”

I believe the answer is a resounding no.    Why?  Because the story isn’t over yet.    

One of my favorite quotes by Tracy McMillan says, ““Everything works out in the end. if it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end.”

Our perspective is such an earthly one.   We see endings and beginnings within the constrains of time as we know it.  But that’s not how God sees things.

We may never know how the story ends until we have the perspective of eternity.  And we may not be able to understand the realities and impact of our loving until we reach heaven.  But I believe with all my heart that if we love like God loves, it never fails.

Today I was trying to decide between two songs and can’t.  Both of them are repeats.  So here they are.

The first reminds us of God’s eternal perspective:


and the second talks about God’s love and how it never fails.


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Love Always Perseveres


In Romans 8 Paul asks what can separate us from the love of God.   Makes a list saying, “Can these hardships stop God from loving us?”

Trouble?

Hardship?

Persecution?

Famiine?

Nakedness?

Danger?

Sword?

In other words, if you have problems and trials to the point where you have nothing to eat or where, if you are facing dangers, even if your life is threatened or taken, can that stop God’s love from persevering?

His response:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

And then he makes another list.  He says “I am convinced that none of these things can separate us from God’s love either:

Death,
life
angels
demons
the present
the future
any powers
height
depth

or ANYTHING ELSE in all of creation,

will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ.

Wow.   Just wow.

So today, my question is this:   If we love and attempt to love as God did, then our love should others in the same way.

When it comes to my children, Bart and I can make this statement:   What can separate you from our love?  Neither stealing from us, nor lying from us, neither jail time or expected pregnancies, neither curse words nor threats on our lives, nor false allegations, failing school, refusing to speak to us, or even your indifference will separate you from our love.

I’m not saying that we have loved perfectly, in fact many of the adjectives that describe love in the First Corinthians passage aren’t always true of us.  But we have persevered.  We have not given up.  We still hope for and pray for all of our children … no matter what.


We serve a no matter what God… so our response to others should be a love that perseveres, no matter what.