The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Thursday, October 17, 2013

said the parent to the child

"I want a sister.  I am lonely," cried the little girl as she quit a game of football with her brothers.

Take that up with Jesus.  Share with him about your loneliness.

"You need to put him to bed or something.  Get him out of here!" said the oldest as his little brother entered his room.

I am not going to do that right now, he can have a turn playing.  Go to Jesus with your emotions regarding your little brother.

"Why don't you ever let us watch these movies.  Everyone watches them.  All of our friends!" said all the children.

They aren't honoring to the Lord.  I pray one day you will understand.  

You are loved more than you could ever imagine.  I don't pray for you to understand that or grasp it.  I pray for strength to continue to love you as I am called.  I am called to equip you for life.  I am called to instruct you in how to navigate your way.  I can't prepare you for your future by preparing all things your way.  That isn't how the world works.  I have to train you for entering that battlefield.  Which means I have to withhold some things.  I need to challenge you to actions.  I need to allow you to wrestle with your emotions and with the Lord.. alone..just between you and Him.  But I can give you guidance now.. I can teach you scripture,  I can live and model by when you are an adult, you will know how to seek the Lord.

We come wired to be selfish and seek immediate circumstantial joy in all things.  I have 18 years (Lord willing) to help reset(with the Lord's help) that default, and if I am successful, more after that.  You will experience pain and disappointment in this world.  You must have practice while under my care.  That means I can't give you everything you want.  I can't keep you from having to work and share, because those qualities are actually life-giving to us and our future.  It will  not be my goal to make things easy for you (although I grieve when you grieve), it will however, be my desire to point you to Christ... the author and perfector of your faith.  I will pray that all things... joyful and a means to perfect your faith in Him.  

Tough love?  Yes.  But not in the since, "suck it up, buddy... that's life!" kind of tough love.  Tough love meaning in sweat and tears and wrestling will I fight for you.  Daily, hourly, will I battle in prayer the lies the culture speaks to you that are contrary to TRUTH.  Daily, hourly, will I battle the lies the world whispers to me of guilt when you are sad... when you are deprived of "happiness" (worldly speaking)...  in tears I will fight in prayer for your heart to grasp TRUE joy.. the unwaivering, unfailing, uplifting, grace-giving, always forgiving kind of joy.. flowing... EVER flowing from a life found in Christ.  This joy that so often can only be drawn through wells of sorrow and heartache.  

I am doing you a gross disservice if I plan your days around your TV shows, vacations, foods you crave, games and vices you seek at your leisure.  If I deprive you of learning how to work with no reward.  ask forgivness and experience someone asking of you forgiveness, experiencing conflict.. resolving conflict...thinking of others.. serving others....waiting and waiting for desires... experiencing "no" answers to prayers.  I can't keep cancer from affecting those you love.  I can't keep a friend from breaking your heart or exposing your heart to evil.  (I can try... wow, I can try)... but evil happens.  everywhere.  because we live in a broken, evil place.  I must teach you to find the beauty here.  how to shut out to screams of internet, netflix, amazon, fed-ex trucks, cell phones, ipods..pads..texts...beeps EVERYWHERE.. and notice the dandelion.  Breath in the fragrance of a tea olive shrub.  Pet an animal.  Observe a bird.  Sit on the floor and stack blocks.   Kick a ball.  Jump in a creek.  Be silent.  Love God's word.

These are the reminders of Him.  The enemy tries to drown Him out.  Evil tries to darken what Christ brings to light.  in Him, you will always find the light.  always.  Enjoy what He HAS given you.  If only this day it is but a wild flower.  You are dearly loved.
                                                                                            --said the parent to the child

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's okay to say "I'm Sorry"

Woke up extra early this morning. I can hear the birds having their morning discussions outside the window of my den. The house is silent. My thoughts are loud.

This summer has been a relaxing one. With all of our "moves" this year, we decided to literally plan nothing for the summer but a few trips to the beach and outings to the pool. It's been nice to rest. It's been nice to spend uninterrupted time with my children. We've been reading a lot. We've been playing games and loving animals. We've also been arguing a lot. ugh. But we've also been saying "I'm sorry" a lot. I used to still feel really bad about this. I don't like it when I sin. I detest when I lose my patience with my toddler. I hate my quick temper. I apologize, but I hate that I am seemingly always apologizing for the same things. It begins a terrible cycle of guilt and shame with me, if I'm honest.

"God is just as willing and just as able to sanctify, as He is to redeem" (Stepping Heavenward by E. Prentiss)

I wholly except that Christ gave His life for me so that I may gain eternal life with Him.. forever. I am realizing lately, though, that I am not living like I wholly believe that this resurrection occurs as well in my sanctification. Every apology... every grievance.. He is resurrecting. I am a new creation again and again. He didn't just save me one time. He is saving me every minute... He moves from sin to sin.. cleaning out my heart... purifying.

The more I grow in holiness, the more I see and grieve my own sin... the greater my sin, the greater Christ becomes.

"For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8

Our apologies serve to make it right with those we care for on this earth and to declare to our Heavenly Father, we are unable to make these changes on our own.. we are helpless to our sin.. we NEED a Savior! And He rescues every time and fulfills His promises over and over.

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God." Ezekiel 36:25-28

It's okay to say "I'm sorry."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

He Goes Before

There is nothing that comforts quite like The Gospel.  There is nothing that eases a mind, quite like The Gospel.  There is nothing that rests a heart, quite like The Gospel.  There is nothing quite like it, because it was planned and designed with US in mine by our OWN Creator.. who knows us... who knew us before time began.  wow.  It really blows my mind!

This weekend I had the great honor of leading worship for speaker and author, Elyse Fitzpatrick.  She taught the simple truth of The Gospel, and it's power fell fresh on my heart.  As I was traveling back, I penned a new song.  I find myself singing it as I run about my daily tasks.  I pray it will serve as a reminder of Truth for you as it does for me.

He Goes Before  -jp

When the night is dark, when the road is dim
When I cannot see the way
i will follow Him, I will fear no more
'cause my Savior, He goes before

when the journey's long, and the suffering deep
when my strength begins to fail
i will trust His hand, as He leads me forward
'cause my Savior, He goes before

He goes before, He leads ahead
There is no mountain or valley He's not tread
when I'm with Him, the path is dim no more
'cause He goes, He goes before

When I'm full of guilt
When regret is strong
When my soul wants to despair
I will hope in Him, I will rest secured
'cause my Jesus, He goes before

He goes before, He's gone ahead
and He has purchased my life, He's paid the debt
when I'm with Him, my sin is no more
'cause He goes, He goes before

When my end is near, when I breathe my last
I'll not fear my fate to come
I will rejoice forevermore
'cause my Jesus has gone before

He's gone before, He waits ahead
Robed in splendor, to welcome me in
when I'm with Him, all will be restored
and He goes, He goes before

Take heart!  He is not leading us on an unfamiliar road.  :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No White Spaces

"Mommy, will you help me finish my picture?" Emma Faye's sweet voice interrupted my deep thought.

I was moving about our house cleaning, clearing, organizing....trying to bring some kind of order to our "new" house (new to us) after the explosion of Christmas vacation. It had seemed a whirlwind how we had found ourselves, here, on this bleak January morning... transplanted within unfamiliar walls and foreign floors. We moved one week before Thanksgiving, left for South Carolina for a week with family, then returned... all suffering with a stomach virus which lasted about two weeks... still somehow Christmas came... and went... and we had a wonderful holiday.

However, once the tree was dislodged from it's stand and the decorations came down, I found myself to be somewhat lost in this "new" home. Thrust back into our reality that we were living in a rental and were in a season of transition and uncertainty. We all felt like we had moved away, when actually it was only just a few miles. We were unpacked and had squeezed all of our belongings into this little cottage, still it felt bare. I was struggling.... fighting to believe that I am loved by my Savior... that He knows all the things I don't... He has got all of this... He is looking at the plans and carrying them out... and that all of these statements, aren't just "happy thoughts and wishes"... but PROMISES.

"So will you? Please?"

I smiled, "yes, let's finish it together."

"Ok, it's gonna take a long time. See, Mommy, you have to cover all of it with this marker... the WHOLE background... no white spaces. I want it to look like how God colors," she said so matter of fact like. I was so confused. I asked her what she meant... we were coloring a reindeer in the snow and she wanted me to color everything else blue like the sky, but apparently I wasn't coloring enough blue.

"No white spaces means, ALL colored. I don't want any of the paper to show... like this..."

..and time froze for a moment. I couldn't believe the insight of my five year old. Not only was I suddenly overwhelmed by the mere gift of just being able to be her mother, but also by the depth of what she began to share....

She then turned to the window and lifted up the blind and said, "like this Mommy... see.. look outside... do you see any white spaces? See how every single thing is colored. God didn't leave anything out. See, even like the white spaces....but I know I won't get it as perfect as God does, but still I want to color as much as I can... will you help me?"

I did look out that window. I had a hard time seeing anything, though, through the tears. But I wiped them away so I COULD see the world God had colored. It was bleak and gray and windy. The ground was damp. The leaves squishy.....

(no white spaces)

God had colored it all. He'd left nothing out. Once again, He speaks to me through my child... my artist.. who finds the beauty in a winter afternoon. I pondered the winter days of my heart. God has colored every one. He doesn't start a masterpiece and leave it undone. He completes it.... and He completes it with perfection.

(no white spaces)

Holy Father, meet us where we are.... you are our supply. Thank you giving us this beautiful world FULL of color and light even on the gray, black and white days. Thank you for coloring our hearts... even the deep, dark places.

You leave no white spaces .....