Wednesday, October 7, 2009

oh, stinky day

"Our God is a God who saves;
from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death."
Psalm 68:20

Today had the potential of being a great day. The kids and I had plans to attend our first field trip with the homeschooling group we just joined. We've been planning on meeting up with everyone at the apple farm for over a month now. (I even bought croissants to make a nice picnic lunch.)

And then morning came and we were greeted by sickness. Liam's throat hurt so bad, he spent most of the day using his own version of sign language. He even took a two hour nap. My boy never stops long enough to even close his eyes, let alone nap. He definitely wasn't feeling well.

So much for our fun day.

Tonight was supposed to be Geoff's (much needed) sanity night. Bless his heart, he offered to stay home with Liam so that Chelsea could still take her dance class. He even offered to bring us home dinner. (Oh, how I love my man!) Since I was fighting off a bad earache myself, I thanked him and let him off the hook. I really wanted him to enjoy his free night.

As Geoff tried to make his way out of his car and into the house at the end of his long work day, he ended up closing his thumb in the car door. It takes a lot for my husband to acknowledge pain. When he came into the house holding his thumb in the air and pacing up and down the hall taking deep breathes, I think we were all in shock. He was in excrutiating pain and there wasn't much any of us could do for him.

So much his night of relaxation.

Tonight while I was getting caught up on laundry, I watched part of Third Day's Revelation Tour DVD. (It arrived in the mail today from Netflix and was definitely a highlight of my day.)

The song "Cry Out to Jesus" came on and I was reminded that we all have rough days (weeks, years.) Sure mine wasn't the best, but truly my family has seen much worse days. Whether they are just down days or truly stinky days, I'm thankful that God always allowed me to maintain my sense of hope in Him.

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye
And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right
There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

I've had two different friends, living in two different states, share with me this week about families they know who have lost teenage daughters tragically. Two beautiful young ladies chose to take their own lives within a matter of days of each other. My heart is burdened for their families and my brain doesn't know how to make sense of such horrific news.

So yes, my day didn't go the way I planned, but I'm still alive, and so is my precious family. In light of what these families have gone through, it's ridiculous for me to even begin to whine about my day, right? (I agree whole-heartedly!!!)

Life can be so overwhelming and difficult. The important thing for all of us to remember is that we are not alone in it. We have a God who loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to dwell among us. To live in human flesh and experience far more human suffering than any of us can even begin to imagine.

He was betrayed, arrested, beaten, abused, rejected, tortured, scorned and crucified. Not because He did anything wrong, but because we did. Not because we deserved it, but simply because He loved us. It's overwhelming and so humbling to acknowledge the great depth of Christ's incredible, sacrificial love for me, a sinner, created out of dust.

And yet, so often, I forget His gift, His victory, His love. I forget that all I need to do is call out to Him.

And then I hear stories of people who have also forgot —to the point that they could no longer bear living on this earth.

Oh, how I wish they had been able to share their grief and pain with just one person. Oh, how I wish they had been able to cry out to Jesus and find a way to push through their difficult days and choose life instead.

My day was stinky and I wish it was different. But thank God that tomorrow will be a new day. Thank God that His grace is sufficient. Thank God that I am able to place my hope and trust in Him. Thank God that I am not alone in this world.

Friend, if you've had a bad day, week or year—if you're struggling, please know you are not alone. Call out to Jesus. He is there. He does love you.

If you've cried out to Him and you still feel hopeless—please, please talk to someone.

If you know someone who is struggling to have faith and hope, please talk to them. Pray for them.

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith and love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough
For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering
When your lonely (when you're lonely)
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

Life is hard. Life is never perfect. Life can be lonely, but we are not alone.

Precious Friend, we have been given the gift of LIVING A BLESSED LIFE while we are still living on this Earth.

But the really great news is that we have also been offered the gift of living for all of eternity with the One who loved us so much that He shed His blood for us and gave His very life in exchange for our own. The choice is ours—life or death.

Wherever you are and whatever is going on in your life, I beg you to choose life and cry out to Jesus.

YOU are LOVED,

Monday, October 5, 2009

redemption

"He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit,
and I will live to enjoy the light."
Job 33:28 (NIV)

The other night, my family went for a walk after dinner. The moon was gorgeous! I asked Geoff to take a picture for me. Unfortunately, I had only brought our pocket camera along, which doesn't do the best at zooming in for a close-up. But he tried.

After seeing the photo preview, I asked him to try again. Although Geoff captured a good shot of the moon, all of the beautiful colors of the sky were missing.

This time, I asked him to not worry about the rooftops and trees. The second photo is the view I was hoping to capture. There's a difference, isn't there?
I was reminded of my favorite line in a Kristen Mueller song.

"Redemption is so much better than perfection."

It's a powerful truth that God has been teaching me about lately. It's crazy how many years I've been striving to be perfect. But, you see, the reality is that perfection is a lonely place.

Perfection says that I don't need anyone, especially God. I can do it on my own.

Perfection sets me up to fail. Every time. Even if my project succeeds, I fail, because I have sinned. Perfection sets me up to be "god" of my own life.

Perfection says that what my Savior did on the cross just wasn't enough for me. I can do better. Right? No. Definitely not.

Even speaking that one grieves my heart. But, the sad reality is that in seeking to act and live perfectly, I've hurt not only myself, but my Creator.

Thankfully, over the years, I've been able to let Him in, bit by bit, a little more each day.

Trust takes time to build. It's a process. Thankfully, God is patient and continues to seek after me even when I'm trying to run the other direction.

God has a long track record of redeeming my mistakes, sins, wounds and brokeness into amazing and beautiful things.

His ways are so much better than my own.

And so, while I may make a million and one mistakes, today I am laying down my own will and choosing His. Today, I am laying down my desire to be perfect and simply to surrender to Him.

Today, I am leaving behind me all of the striving and hardwork and taking His yoke up me. Because, as Jesus said, it is easy and oh-so-light.

"Redemption is so much better than perfection." For this reason, I am LIVING A BLESSED LIFE.

All it takes is surrender and allowing ourselves to see ourselves and our lives through His love.

Oh, how I pray you are able to see your beautiful self and know His great love for you, my Friend! You are amazing and wonderful and created for His glory.

Isn't He amazing?!?