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A Heart with Legs

Recently a friend of mine’s home was broken into while she was welcoming the birth of her first grandson. What a priceless time to experience such a violation. As I sat recanting the news to my husband, my son who is 8 years old heard our conversation. We used it as an opportunity to go over our family safety plan in the case of a fire or any situation in which we needed to get out of the house. My son said “But mommy what about you and daddy? Who will make sure you are okay?” I replied, “Son, you are our heart. Everything that is priceless to us lives in you. If our children are safe then we can focus on getting out too.” It seemed to reassure him and he had no additional questions but that conversation has stayed with me for the last couple of days.

I don’t live in fear. I anticipate that death will come for each of us at some point and I firmly believe that no man can rob me of my God given appointed time to die nor my children’s time. I am not being insensitive to those who have lost children. To bury a child must be the most….indescribable form of pain to endure. I have a few friends who have lost children and it is agonizing to watch them have their heart decimated into a million pieces. It is why the above quote is a powerful truth. Our children are our heart walking on the outside of our body. If you want to incite my anger do anything against my children. If you want to hurt me to the core then reject my children. If you want to have my undying gratitude then love my children. If you want to know me greater then know my children. All my successes and failures, my mannerisms and bad habits, will stand before you with the most mesmerizing smiles and eyes staring back at you.

As I stood there with that quote rolling around in my head and contemplating all the ways I could be devastated by my children being harmed, it was in that moment that a bigger, greater truth almost floored me. It literally took my breath away and I had no words to respond back as the Spirit released these words back into my existence: For your God, who so loved you, gave HIS one and only son to die so that you would have life eternal with your Father.

“There was a time when probably the best-known Bible verse would have been John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It seemed as though everyone either knew this verse or knew a little bit about it.” (http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-bibles-most-popular-verse-95216/)

Use to be? As though it’s old news replaced by statements like “awe, yeah, I heard that already” or “yeah, I got it, he loved me.” But in that moment the other night, I got a tangible image of God’s love and sacrifice for me. His heart walking in flesh enduring ridicule, rejection, overwhelming responsibility, being hated, and beaten then hung on a cross for all to see. As His mother writhed in agony, never leaving Him, not being able to do anything to change the circumstances. God watching His son being given to the world so that each person would have the choice to accept him or reject him completely. A choice!

We live in times that say “Jesus can’t possibly be the only way!” That you can get to God without having to know Jesus. That the cross is a gruesome exaggeration. Or that you believe Jesus was God clothed in flesh but the death was tolerable because he was God. I’ve never met a parent who found the death of their child tolerable based on the circumstances in which they died, or whether they suffered much or little. God is drawn to the brokenhearted (Psalms 34:18) because He has been there. How could a father allow anyone to reconcile with him if they are still rejecting his son’s sacrifice? Jesus was the sacrificial love and He is the only way.

As a mother who types these words right now, I can say with certainty that I would give myself in a second for God’s will but I pray that the day will never come that I must make a choice to give my children’s life. (That is more end time teaching that I am not called to speak about at this time.) If you are a parent then I am certain you grasp what I am saying to you.  But even if you are not a parent, you are a child and I pray that you would take a moment to ask your Father to reveal His great love for you.

Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV)

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

One Rebellious Donut

I love donuts. I’m from Texas and I’d have to say I believe every Texan loves donuts. You can find a donut shop in every large and small town across the state. Since moving to Hawaii, I have relegated myself to only being able to eat donuts from the grocery store and although sub par, they cure the craving.
So today while grocery shopping, I decided to give into my guilty pleasure and buy 2 donuts to eat with my Starbucks coffee on the way home. After checking out, I thought better of getting a Starbucks drink. I am doing my best to live a healthier lifestyle in 2014 and that combo seemed like trouble.
Every once in a while I’ll think to myself “I wonder how many calories are in this donut?” But I never actually inquire because well, I really don’t want to know. I just tell myself that it is a rare treat and I’m sure it’s not that bad.
Thing is, today, I asked myself that question while eating that delicious chocolate donut and replied to myself in my normal “you don’t want to know then you are accountable” thought. Then another overriding voice came into my mind. A thought that reflected more about myself than I wanted that donut to – That’s how I read God’s Word.
Yikes! Am I avoiding specific areas or truths of the Bible because I don’t want the knowledge that makes me accountable to choose the right path? When I scarf down those donuts then it goes against my desire to live healthier in my eating choices. I am responsible for the changes in my body because of that choice. Now maybe that means I cut something out later or exercise more to cover that guilty pleasure but either way, those consequences land solely on me.
The way I choose to study God’s Word, including choosing not to look into specific teachings, THAT shapes my spiritual body. Now I may be growing in other areas but the things in life that I am just saying “lalalala…don’t want to know” are producing spiritual consequences. Sometimes I feel like I keep repeating the same lessons over and over, maybe the truth is that I am repeating the same lessons over and over because I’m making a choice to NOT learn new ones.

Food for thought today…yes, pun intended! I’d love to know your thoughts so leave a comment below.

Practicing Protestant

I have this great new friend! I am so excited to be in the new beginnings of this relationship because it is similar to falling in love. All the newness: new stories, new perspective, new jokes, no offenses(yet), no disagreements (yet), no struggles (yet)…you want to hang out all the time and organize your life so you encounter each other more. I love it!

My new friend and I share so much in common. A passion for great TV shows, to become better mothers and wives, and most importantly – a passion to share what, who, and how much God loves. There is no subject that doesn’t usually lead us straight back to “And how does this work in His Kingdom and how do I model that Kingdom here?” I’ve vetted my new friend thoroughly by watching how she acts with others/her children/her husband, I have diligently spent an hour looking through and reading all her Facebook postings and photos over the last year, and even Googled her. This is a lady I hope to raise my sons around so I need to be sure that the influences I place around my children are solid in their love of God.

So imagine my surprise, a few months into this relationship, when she told me she was Catholic! Now, please don’t go off on me about Catholics are Christians too (I do know that) but I admit to being ignorant to what Catholics believe and most of my information has been based on movies. And those thoughts ran along the lines of solemn, quite, strict rule followers, ritualistic not relational about Jesus, etc…But she didn’t show up on my “nun” radar. As a matter fact, she is a kind of fresh breath of the coexistence of religious reverence and radical faith.

Here is a snippet of our conversation:

P: “So you know I’m Catholic, right?”

Me: “What???”

P: (laughing) “You didn’t know that?”

Me: “No. You don’t look Catholic. Are you a practicing Catholic?”

P: “Yes”

Me: (stunned) “I don’t even know what that means to be a ‘practicing Catholic’ I’ve just heard people ask others that question.”

And we are both laughing at this point.

Driving home by myself, pondering this great revelation, I heard a voice inside me speak “Are you a practicing Protestant?” I realized that we ask if people are “practicing” Catholics or Jews but I’ve never heard anyone ask if you are a practicing Protestant (or even more specific a practicing Assembly of God, Foursquarer, Baptist, etc…) . And looking at the country I don’t think any of us should assume that people are practicing any faith. It is a question that has been on my heart for the last week: Would someone say of me “she practices what the Bible teaches”? Sure, I got my checklist of good: Tithing (check), Regular church attendance (check), prayer before meals (check), christian friends (check), christian phrases (check).

It’s the issue of the heart, the one thing no person can see or judge but God Almighty. Do I mediate on His word day and night? Do I model it at home, driving, socializing? Do I seek it first in both joyful times and heart-wrenching times? Do I practice love, patience, kindness, humility, compassion, discernment, reverence? I didn’t like the answers being given to these questions – the true ones that I only answer in the silence of my heart and mind. I am thankful, most of all, that I don’t feel condemned but encouraged by the Holy Spirit. To wake up today, with new mercies and a blank slate, and a renewed heart to practice my faith.

What about you? Where do you need to start practicing today?

“Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.”

 Joshua 1:6-9 (Msg)