The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A sincere "I'm Sorry" heals so much. It loves MORE.

...remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. Exodus 3:5

We usually remove our shoes when we walk into our house. The ritual serves various individual purposes. For me, cleanliness of my floors. For Josh, comfort. For Emma Faye, a new pair of shoes to put on. For Chris, rest. For Will, relaxation.

Why not holiness? Our home is Holy Ground. Jesus walks about our hearts. The Holy Spirit breathes in our halls and seeps through our walls. The "sorry"'s bring forgiveness. Sinful children hear God's word. Sinful adults seek hard after Christ. Yes, a holy ground. Hard, Holy work is done amidst the homework and clutter; in the mowing of the grass and trimming of the hedges. Jesus is here. He is trimming away at us. Refining. Pruning. Teaching through life. His life. Revealing Himself through spiders and ladybugs...the vibrant purple-colored petunia and the fruitful tomato plants. I sit at my computer barefoot. Humbled by the holiness.

Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed it. I would have missed the holy encounter. By His grace, I was wide-eyed and ready. I was looking. Honestly, I was begging. It doesn't matter the details. It was a classic scenario. My son wanted something that he couldn't have. He was given two choices: 1. following in obedience 2. receiving the consequence of not following in obedience.

He chose poorly. He became angry. However, I let him be angry. After all, he wasn't throwing anything. He wasn't screaming. He was mumbling under his breathe. Things like, "I'm never going to sleep." Things that would have, in the past, made me so angry. I knew he had school. Yet, a thought occurred to me. Why should it concern me if he chooses to stay up late and further heap more consequences on himself in the future? Instead of anger, or guilt, I grieve. I grieve his sin. I can't remove sin. I can't soften a heart. I step out and pray Jesus to step in. While he was quietly crying, I physically step out of the room.

Twenty minutes later, his bedroom door opens.

"Mommy, can I talk to you?"

Yes, of course.

"I didn't mean it."

Could you explain more?

"I didn't mean it, mommy... those things I said. I was angry. I didn't mean it. I'm sorry."

Remove the shoes. Jesus is here.

I am too often the deliverer of the apology. I beat myself up for hours over this. I loathe my temper. I say things I don't mean. I seem to always be asking for forgiveness.

I am rarely the recipient of an apology. This was new for me. So precious of my Savior to spoon me a taste of His redemption; of redeeming love. A sincere I'm sorry heals so much. It loves more. I envelope my boy in my arms. I feel my shirt soak in the tears of us both.

Could it be that Christ has used all of my failures.. all my needing of forgiveness.. to convey MORE love? Here, I thought it was only tearing apart.

Have all of my mistakes and apologies taught my children how to say I'm sorry? Oh Christ, you do redeem! Was I not believing this before? Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

I look into his eyes. Well done, sweet boy. I drop tears on this holy ground. Where I have modeled repentance, my children have perfectly exemplified forgiveness. I remember their words. I remember the usual words of my son. I quote them exactly.

It's OK. I forgive you.

We walk back to his bed. I pull the covers up.

"I love you so much, Will."

"I love you, too, Mommy."



And all is well in the world.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Always speaking, I love you.

I had just dropped a meal off at a friends house and was pulling out of her neighborhood when I noticed the cash sitting in the passenger seat to my right.

Ugh. I forgot to pay her back AGAIN!

This was my second attempt to pay back my friend the money I had owed. I continued to forget. Finally, a few days later I was passing her house and noticed the cash still sitting in that seat. I picked up the phone.

"Hey, I need to drop off that money I owe you. Is now a good time?" I asked.
"Sure, but you really don't have to do that," she sincerely replied.
"Oh, it's no problem, really," I said and made the left onto her street.

No problem.

Who was I kidding? It was a big problem-- for me. I detest being indebted to someone. I don't like resting in that place. There is something unsettling about it to me... to my flesh. I want to deserve what I get. I want to be the keeper of my destiny. I want the control. I've ALWAYS wanted the control. I want to control myself. I want to control my husband. I want to control my children.

No, I don't go around announcing this. I'm subtle. I take on the majority of the tasks around the house. I make "helpful suggestions" to my children during their decision making. I do the same with my husband. I mask it well, sometimes. Others I don't. But it's still that fleshly desire for control.

This is why it's difficult when I can't control my sin. When I can't keep myself from outbursts. When I can't control myself into perfection. It's why grace is difficult for me. Because I can not obtain perfection in my behavior and live with a sinless heart, I stay indebted to Jesus. I am always in the red. I want to work my way back. I want to pull the cash I've earned on my own merit and give it back to Christ and say, "Here, ya go.. sorry for losing my temper with my kids." I have become disillusioned with the notion of being able to "cover my expenses" somehow provides a means to obtain autonomy over my life. However, in return, my "expenses" begin to control ME and I am forever a hamster on the wheel striving for that which I will never earn. It keeps me in debt.

Grace sets me free. Grace pours over the red numbers of my deficit and turns them black. Just because Jesus loves me. Just because He died on the cross for me. Grace gives, always. Grace allows others to give, always. Grace gives so I may take. So others may drink. So all may become full. Full of the joy of Christ. Empty of the need to earn and strive.

I drank today. As I sat in a Muffins for Mom breakfast with my precious little Josh feeling the heavy guilt of this past week. How the two of us have been in much conflict. Heavied by the load of not handling things well and acting out of anger. Full of feelings of having blown it. Never able to re-pay for the damages. Forever in debt. That anything I had ever done prior was forgotten... that anything I had ever done even mattered or encouraged him. Yes, as I sat there beside my second-born, whose name means "God is my Salvation", I was reminded of that Salvation I OWN in Christ. I was given yet another glimpse of His saving balm. I read from a page of questions Josh had answered about me that his teachers so preciously had written out and laminated.

The question: "My mommy always says_________________________."

Grace filled the pitcher and poured for me upon his page the answer.

My mommy always says, I love you.

There it was. As if my slate were being cleared; my heart restored. My debt taken away. My fear of my children not feeling loved.. not knowing my love for them. Here it was, spoken back to me. Affirming me, Christ continues despite my failures.

Christ is "raising" us all, isn't He?

Thank you, Jesus, for your drops of grace. Thank you that I don't have to keep running the wheel. I don't have to keep paying you the cash. I could NEVER repay you for your life... for the life you've given me. Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for everything new. Thank you for always speaking, I love you, in everything you do.