I Am a Sinner. How About You?

Christian.  Failure.  Fake.  Which one of these words doesn’t belong?  That’s a trick question, if you ask me.  Someone, somewhere, one day decided that the word Christian was synonymous with the word perfect and it appears the whole world has bought into this idea.  I’ve never been accused of being the sharpest tool in the shed but this is horrible for a couple of obvious reasons.  First, no one on this Earth has ever been perfect except the Son of God.  Second, even it it were possible to attain perfection, the definition of what that looks like is a moving target.  It’s like you tell people you are a Christian and people immediately place unrealistic standards on your behavior that set you up for eventual failure.  Now here my out when I say that I absolutely think Christians are held to a higher ethical and moral standard and people should see us as ‘different’.  What I am talking about here are the unrealistic standards of perfection people seem to hold you to when you mess up and are *gasp* human.  And what’s worse, we Christians do it to other Christians all.the.time.  They look something like this:

  • You are a Christian but you lose your temper and post something on social media out of anger/hurt/betrayal.  *Let the stone throwing commence.
  • You say you are a Christian but you are in a bad mood (because we do occasionally get in those), you’ve been waiting in the check out line at Walmart for thirty blessed minutes and your hormones are all out of whack because you messed up your birth control (again).  You lose it on your kids in the check out line when they ask you for a Skylander/Shopkins mystery box for the fifty ninth time in three minutes.  *Elderly couple from your church standing in the next line whisper about how you need to “get yourself to the alter next Sunday” because surely you are a backslider with a temper like that.*
  • You are a Christian and you stand your ground and tell people when they are participating in sin or refuse to buy into the idea that if the world accepts something, we should too.  Even at the cost of going against our own biblical standard.  *You are a judgmental, hypocrite and need to get off your “high horse” and recognize your own sin*
  • You are a Christian but you stand up for yourself when someone wrongs you and cause a disagreement.  *You must not be a Christian at all because no Christian would ever cause a disagreement or speak up for themselves*.

The list could literally go on forever.  Maybe you’ve been in one of these situations I’ve mentioned above.  People love to use the word hypocrite, judgmental and self-righteous; just to name a few.  But here’s a news flash for all you folks reading this blog.  A Christian is a sinner SAVED by grace.  That’s it.  And you know what grace means?  It means “the free and unmerited favor of God”.  So basically, we get the favor of God, even though we don’t deserve it.  Even though we sometimes do things we shouldn’t.  Even though we sometimes say things we wish we hadn’t.  Once we accept Jesus into our spirit, he resides there.  Our spirit then, by default, is perfect because Jesus is living there and he makes it new.  It’s our flesh that we wrestle with daily.   We sin, we fall short, we are undeserving.  It seems like this grace would be easy enough to accept and also give but we’ve placed these unrealistic expectations on each other and our enemy uses them like a deadly arrow, piercing us right through the heart.

I often think of my walk with Christ more like a run in a race.  I imagine myself running along, the sun shining on me, the wind blowing my face like a cool breeze, I can see the finish line and I am feeling great but then out of no where, and I trip and fall over a giant rock right in my path.  It’s not just a graceful fall either, it’s a dramatic, somersault, broken bone, bloody shins kind of fall.  I almost got to the finish line but got the wind knocked out of my sails and didn’t make it.  Can anyone relate?  Those rocks in our path as we are running our race with Christ can be the lies the enemy tells us when others place unrealistic expectations of our Christianity on us.  He takes what that elderly couple whispered behind your back in the check out line and he manifests it until it takes up so much room in your thoughts that you believe you are a fake, a failure in your walk with Jesus.  Pretty soon you aren’t focusing on the task the Lord has for you on this Earth, or the talents he has given you.  You are focusing on other lies that the enemy is feeding you through this measure of perfection that we hold each other to.

Maybe nobody has told you this today but I’m here to tell you that the devil is a LIAR and the father of it.  As a matter of fact, the bible says there is no truth in him.  Let me say that again.  There is no truth in him.   So that means that all those lies you believe about yourself, all those measures of perfection and criticism that we hold each other to, they are all lies.  The bible tells me Satan is literally incapable of telling the truth.  Any negative emotion or feeling you have about yourself is an untruth from the pit of Hell. You feel worthless because Satan is using others to convince you that it’s true?  Well, sister, let me tell you, you are worth far more than rubies in the eyes of the Lord.

I have felt like a failure in my own walk with the Lord recently.  I have been made to feel like I am a fake.  And it has been a terrible struggle of spirit and flesh ever since.  I questioned who I was in Christ.  I pondered my walk with him and reflected on my words and actions to see if I had veered off the path of righteousness.  This morning, I was even contemplating going to church at all.  I was having a pity party in the largest fashion.  But as I was talking with God, he reminded me of Peter.  Peter was a disciple of Jesus and his list of accomplishments was great.  He was one of Jesus’ inner group of three.  He wrote two books in the bible.  By all means, he was a true follower of Christ.  But you know what else Peter did?  He also often spoke without thinking and was impulsive.  He DENIED Jesus three times, even after Jesus told him he would do this.  What a failure and fake he must have felt like denying Jesus as he was being nailed to the cross!  Peter was a human and by all standards, humans are subject to the attack of the enemy.  I can’t be sure but I can bet that the devil had a hay day playing with Peter’s heart and mind over the denial of Christ.  If he would have believed the lies of the enemy and given up on his walk with Christ, he would not have been able to go on and preach the gospel after Jesus’ ascension into Heaven.  And what a shame that would have been.

I am a sinner.  Through and through.  I’ve never claimed to be perfect or to know it all. I will mess up again probably before I post this blog.  BUT I am also saved by grace.  I have a God who gives me forgiveness and mercy especially when I don’t deserve it.  You are a sinner too.  You can also be saved by grace, if you aren’t already.  But let’s agree on something, ok?  Tomorrow let’s wake up and begin truly seeing others through the lens that God uses.  He knows we are sinners.  He loves us anyway.  He knows we are sinners.  He gives us grace we don’t deserve.  He knows we are sinners.  He forgives us even when we don’t deserve it.   My study bible describes Peter and sums his life lesson up like this: It is better to be a follower who sometimes fails than one who fails to follow.

John 8: 44 ” He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for their is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks his native language, for his a liar and the father of lies.  

 

Love, Actually.

Ah, love.  It’s perhaps the most overused and misunderstood word in the English language.  Between hearing it commercialized in songs, movies, books and TV shows and then out of the mouths of people in our lives, I think we are almost becoming desensitized to it.   Don’t get me wrong, a new baby wrapped up in a tiny receiving blanket, or my children’s chubby hands wrapped around mine as we walk together definitely gives me the feels.  But overall, I think we just don’t think about what it means to love anymore.  And if we do, its some weird sensationalized version of what society has convinced us that it looks like.  Certainly not a biblical love.  But who really cares what society says love is?   I mean, its most recently given us jumpers for men, so ‘society’ has questionable judgment, at best.  What I really care about is what my Creator, the God of the universe, says love is.  His definition is how I want to love.  So I turned off my TV and silenced my phone, locked my kids in the basement (just kidding.  I don’t even have a basement) and reached for my bible.  I read scriptures on love and waited for the Holy Spirit to speak.  Here’s the verse that stuck out to me the most this week:

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  1 Peter 4:8

I’ll admit, the Holy Spirit stepped on my toes all week long as I sought out the truth in this verse.  At first glance, its kind of like, “yeah, yeah we gotta love each other real hard.  I get it.” But its so much more than that.  To cover over something means to cover something so that it cannot be seen.  It’s not saying to make an excuse for a sinful behavior or to sweep our sins under the rug but to cover them completely out of sight of anyone but God.  So wives, when you husband offends you or is involved in a sinful behavior what do you do?  Do you analyze his comments or behaviors with your girlfriends over coffee?  Or do you take it to God in prayer?  To be in line with the word and love our spouse the way God wants us to love, we need to completely cover our spouse’s sin and take it to the Lord in prayer.  No one hates to hear this more than me because I, A. analyze everything to death and B. talk to my sister on the phone every morning.  Sometimes it is just so nice to complain to someone who always takes my side. But if I want to align myself to the word and show love to my husband, I shouldn’t point out his sin to anyone but God.  God doesn’t need us or our girlfriends/sisters to convict our husband.  How’s that for a #truthbomb?

When I begin to notice one of our children lying or cheating, or being repeatedly mean to their siblings the first thing I want to do is ask my mom why she thinks they are acting up.  Then I want her to go to her “How to fix kids” manual and tell me what to do!  True, my mom might have more experience than me and it’s certainly ok to request that she pray for my children, but if I want to show the love of God to my children, his manual is the only one I need.  My mama can’t change the sin in my children’s hearts, only God can.  A mama blog can’t give you some magic advice that washes sin away and no psychologist can cure the sinful nature we are all born with.  If you want to show biblical love to your children, take them to God in prayer.

What about that sassy little broad at work that is having an affair with the boss and has a snarly comment for every little thing you say?  Surely you can just show her some fake, “bless your heart” kind of love and get by with that, right?  I mean there has to be some kind of clause that exempts us from having to bite our tongue when it comes to people like her. I  have had co-workers who have literally made my skin crawl  and I’ve been sooo guilty of shamefully putting on a fake front and playing nice.  One thing society has taught us to do very well is to show this vomit-inducing fake love to people.  We gloss over our eyes, and hearts, with the expertise of an Oscar winning actress and pretend to be a loving friend when in reality we are gossiping about her (or him) the first chance we get.  I got news for you, and me, sister.  We might be fooling the whole world with our fake love, but God sees right through us.  And he doesn’t like it.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to make God mad!  If we really want to practice what we preach and show the love of Jesus, we must choose to not gossip (no matter how despicable the person) and take it to God in prayer.  Ouch.

The last part of the verse says we are to offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Hospitality is another one of those words that has gotten totally twisted.  And thanks to my arch enemy Pinterest, it’s managed to get even worse.  I mean, who has time to hand paint tiny little turkeys on cupcakes for Thanksgiving, anyway?  Who are these people and when do they sleep??  But hospitality actually puts focus on the guest and *gasp* NOT THE HOSTESS.  This knowledge in and of itself is actually thrilling news to me.  I am so relieved to know that God doesn’t care one ounce if my floors are spotless or if I’ve polished my silverware until I can see my reflection.  He doesn’t care how staged my house is with throw pillows, rugs and fancy lamps.  The pressure is off, ladies.  At least in the “all about me” department.  Focusing on others might require that we sit and listen without interruption, that we pray with a friend, that we have clean sheets and a comfy couch but it will never require a trip to Hobby Lobby for more throw pillows.  Can I get an Amen?  Or maybe even a Hallelujah?

All of these things lead me to one truth: to love deeply and offer hospitality we must crucify the flesh daily and resist the urge to expose the sins of another.  Instead, we have to take it to God in prayer.  Let’s work hard to redefine love based on God’s definitions and not what society tells us it should be.

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.  Proverbs 17:9

We are Warriors (yes, even you!)

5th grade just ain’t what it used to be. I mean, I know it’s been like 25 years since I was actually in the 5th grade but still. And my 5th grader is a talker so I know absolutely more than I want to about what is going on with the kids in his wing on the school. Just this week I have had to answer questions about what a transgender person is, why two boys kissed and licked each other during recess and what a condom is. Bet you didn’t see any of that coming in the fourth sentence of this blog. Yeah. I didn’t see it coming either. I’ve wanted to spend the vast majority of the week curled in the fetal position, rocking back and forth, refusing to adult until my husband gets home from work. But alas, somebody’s gotta answer these questions and it might as well be me. Matter of fact, if I want to parent my kids and raise children capable of dealing with the pressures of this ‘anything goes’ world we live in, it BETTER BE ME. No matter what your opinion is on anything I’ve mentioned thus far, I’m betting we can agree that 5th grade is way to young to have to deal with and emotionally process these issues. In the 5th grade, the biggest thing I had to worry about was if I was going to get a bomber jacket at Christmas and how to play in the woods without finding all the poison ivy patches. I shudder to think how much less awesome I would be today if I would have had to tackle half the problems this school year has manifested for my kid. Poor guy. And I know it’s not just him. Lots of kids are dealing with this kind of stuff. I could be philosophical and list likely reasons for the decline of parental responsibility and the rapid maturing of today’s youth but it would do no good and be extra super boring. The thing to be really concerned with is that our children are dealing with, and being exposed to, issues that we just can’t relate to. Sure, we learned about all these things eventually but our childhoods were vastly different, much more innocent and carefree, than our children’s are shaping up to be.
Anyone who knows me and my hunky hubby know that, to an extent, we shelter our kids. We made a choice to follow Jesus and we try not to leave any of the “following” part out. We don’t drink or cuss, we don’t let them play video games that are violent or not age appropriate and we don’t listen to mainstream music when we drive. I don’t allow them to check out books that I believe are questionable or “dark” for their age and the list could go on. You might be rolling your eyes here but let me mention just a couple things before you cast harsh judgement. First, our kids are happy and well adjusted despite their parents ruining their lives with our rules (feel free to insert sarcasm where necessary) and second, God entrusts each set of parents with the upbringing of their children and we get to decide the morals and values we instill in them. The ability to shape their future is a great and monumental task and one I know none of us take lightly. In the long run, my kids not hearing cuss words on the daily or playing Call of Duty until their eyes are bloodshot will not damage their ability to be productive members of society. Unless of course the apocalypse comes and in which case, my bad. So, we have all these rules and we run a pretty tight ship as far as matters of the heart are concerned but you know what? They still know all the mainstream songs (even my kindergartener swears his favorite song is Uptown Funk), when someone references the “F” word, they instantly know which one it is…and it’s not fart, just to be clear. Sadly, I continue to have to run defense and counteract all that they are being taught in the 8 hours they are gone from us at school. My control-freak self has obsessed and analyzed situations looking for way to’fix’ these issues until recently. while I was praying about some of these things the Lord revealed something to me. It occurred to me that I have been spending all this time running defense when I really need to pick up my offensive game. I can continue to try to ‘unteach’ all the things they are learning at school or I can turn to the Lord in prayer and FIGHT for my children. I can arm them with scriptures, help them memorize scripture until it is tucked so far into the depths of their hearts that it becomes a part of who they are. I can reassure their broken hearts that when people are cruel and mean to them it is because of one simple and profound truth, hurting people hurt others. I can show them how to let their lights shine for Jesus and feel empathy for those who are hurting their feelings. Instead of getting flustered by the fact that I am having to explain what a condom is to my 5th grader, I can choose to see these issues as divine appointments that give me an opportunity to teach my children how to breath, speak, live and love like Jesus. Sure, I could give in and be like most other parents and let my kids have, act and talk however they want but I’d be letting Satan have them. I’d practically be handing him over parental rights. Instead, I can take each of their specific problems and FIGHT for them on the front lines. God knows what they are facing each day and I can take comfort in the fact that even when I can’t be with them, he is there. Warriors have one job, to go into battle and fight. As such, a warrior is either in a battle or preparing for the next one. If a warrior slacks off and isn’t prepared, the enemy will attack and gain ground! God’s warriors have no off time if we don’t want our enemy to advance. We are the warriors in our homes, mamas! We must fight for our children, our husbands and our homes. We cant’ leave it to chance and hope they turn out alright. We must be intentional and dedicated to our battle plan if we want to save our families. If you don’t fight for them, who will? With all the battles they are facing today I know one thing for sure-Satan sure thinks they are worth fighting for…

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

spiritual-battle

Im so ashamed to say this. But, in the spirit of honesty, here goes.  The only time I’ve ventured behind this glaring screen in the past couple months has been to saturate my mind and emotions with articles from Fox News and CNN.  I think I’ve aged four years this election season.  I had glorious hopes for 2016.  I really did.  I think I even posted some awe-inspiring meme way back in January that went like this, “2016 is going to be ridiculously amazing.”  bwahahaha.  I think we can all agree 2016 really stuck it to us.  Or maybe it was just me.  Clearly I’m not a good judge of stuff (refer to lofty goals I set for 2016).  My disappointment in 2016 was always affirmed  when I scrolled through my face book feed.  It got so depressing that I actually longed for the days of the “like and share if you love Jesus” and the “can-I-get-10,000-likes so Mark Zuckerburg-will-give-us-all-a zillion-dollars” posts.  Finally, I had to decide to break up with my beloved face book or check myself into a rehab facility for mental health.  Because you know, people who allow life-sucking things to continue to suck the life out of them must be mentally unstable gluttons for punishment.  I actually learned a few little things when I put down my phone and looked up.  And if you are still reading this after five or six sentences of largely unfunny humor, I’m going to share a few little things I’ve noticed.

Days 1 and 2 of no facebook left me eating my own words.  My husband, whom I will lovingly say is almost never right,  tells me that I could do so much in the time I spend on social media.  I usually get defensive and want to throat punch him really hard right out of the gates.  I mean, facebook is like a cult for the 30 somethings.  I would defend my use of it as if it had been my loyal companion since day 1 on earth.  But as it turns out, he was way right.  On the first day of social media detox, I spent the time I usually reserved for coffee and social media on my knees in prayer.  The Lord brought people to mind who I later found out needed the prayer (I love when he does that <3) and I immediately felt closer to God.  I found myself talking to him more throughout that day and wanting to spread his love.  I messaged a few people just to lift them up and love on them.  I’d call day 1 a success.

On the 2nd day I had to have lunch with both my little cuties at their elementary school.  I had an hour in between their lunches and since I wasn’t on facebook, I had no choice but to look up and notice others who were also waiting.  I had not one, but two, meaningful, emotional conversations with women about Jesus.  I left that school with my cup almost filled to the brim just by looking up and talking to strangers.  I had an extra pep in my step and felt way better than I ever did by sharing an e-card with a scripture on it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to read scriptures on social media but I really love to interact with people and see the beauty that lies within spontaneous, raw emotion.  And let’s face it.  Jesus didn’t have a social media platform and he saved the entire world so I most likely don’t need it either.

The days that followed have been much like day 1 and day 2.  Except I began to notice through conversation that the people around me- in my family, church and community-have been feeling spiritually attacked.  Drained and empty.  Like they have nothing to give and are useless in the kingdom of God.  I realized one of my one children was going through a spiritual attack.  Now if you know me at all, it will come as no huge surprise to hear that I occasionally like to put on my sassy pants.  Sometimes I get fired up and say things before praying.  I almost always regret those things.  I’m kidding. I always regret those things.  I think.  But other times, when I’ve been doing my part to draw close to the Lord (because we know it is never him that needs to draw close, it is ALWAYS our carnal hearts) and have saturated myself in the word, I trade in my sassy pants for my spiritual armor.  Now that I am seeing the real, live, flawed and spiritually drained people around me rather than the always perfect, see-only-a-snapshot-of-my-life people on social media, I have been jolted into alertness.  People all around me are hurting, sick and in need.  They need a warrior standing in the gap and calling out their needs to Christ!  Where all are the warriors?

We are all members of one body-the body of Christ.  When something on our fleshly body is hurting or sick, other parts of our bodies kick into overdrive and go to elaborate lengths (thank you very much, white blood cells) to get us well.  As a church body, we are called to do the same!  When we see one of our brothers or sisters in Christ hurting, are we going to elaborate lengths to lift them up?  When we see our potential brothers and sisters in Christ in need (because after all, everyone is designed to love Jesus) are we showing them the love of Jesus in our words and actions?  You might feel weary yourself, my friend, but let me be the first to encourage you to take heart and put on your full armor!  You are not meant to feel defeated or alone.  God did not send his son to die a gruesome death for sinners so that we would feel discouraged, afraid or unsure.  NO!  He wants us to suit up and get to the business of tending the harvest!  You can’t tend the harvest the way you should behind the glare of a screen, I’ve found that out first hand.  You must prepare your heart for battle, open your eyes and look around and then put yourself to work!  Chances are, people you love are engulfed in a battle and they need a warrior to fight for them until they are able to lift themselves up and fight for themselves.  Be the warrior that they need.  Spend less time on things of this world and more time on your knees.  Be the warrior you were created to be.

Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rules of darkness of this world, against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows from the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep praying for all the Lord’s people.  Ephesians 6:10-18

 

A Tribute to Children. Because they’re freaking Awesome.

Most of the time you can find me aimlessly wandering around my house, picking up random nerf gun darts, barbie shoes and empty capri suns.  I’ll be mumbling under my breath about how everyone in the house is spoiled and ungrateful.  Occasionally, I’ll go on a psychopathic rage and yell at my darling children because, “why can’t they just pick up their toys already??!”  You might also find me standing in the kitchen, lovingly mixing ingredients together making a dinner that our kids will most likely fake-vomit in their mouths with each bite.  I can be a bit of a busy body and because of said busyness, I rarely get to sit down and just listen to my kids.  And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that lately.  I mean, the entire reason I loved being a teacher was because I love hearing a kid’s spin on things.  I couldn’t wait for my own babies to begin talking so I could laugh and enjoy all the adorable misuse of words and baby babble.  I’ve decided that kids know exactly how to fix all that is wrong in this Kardashian loving/killing each other because of differences/Trump-and-Hilary-are-seriously-our-candidates world.

Let me go ahead and put this out here first.  My kids are not spouting off philosophical ideology or making a plan for world peace.  They are just ordinary kiddos who happen to have extremely profound ideas about life in the most innocent of circumstances.  (and as a side note, just so there’s no question of if they’re brilliant or anything. No worries. Just last night my youngest saw a glimpse of his back side in the mirror while bending over after getting out of the shower and declared, “MOM!!  There is a hole in my butt!! This is GREAT!” and ran off laughing hysterically.  Naked as a jay bird.)  But seriously,  the events in Dallas, Orlando and countless other places across our once great nation have caused me to pay more attention to my surroundings.  Not to look for the bad, but rather look for the good…the innocent.  I guess since kids are kind of my profession I have an advantage over others. I know that if you want to see goodness in this world, you need only go to your local playground and observe.  So, I’ve been doing just that.  I’ve been listening to my own kids.  I’ve been watching as they play with other, random children at the playground.  And I’ve been deeply moved by their behavior.  I have been thinking about what Jesus said in Matthew 18: 2-4.  “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” I’v always assumed Jesus was referring to the faith of a child but the longer I live in this world, I’m convinced it could be in all areas of our lives.

Just tonight my own children moved my spirit and touched my hurting heart.  Earlier today I was painting the foyer and my youngest wanted to help.  After arguing about why he couldn’t paint I was irritated and truthfully just wanted him to go upstairs and play.  He, being the five year old he is, wanted to hang out with me though.  He kept saying, “mom, watch this.” and “mom, wanna hear a joke?” I was only about half way paying attention and then he tugged at my heartstrings.  He wanted to climb up the wall (thanks inventor of Spiderman.  I don’t like clean walls anyway.) and then do a flip. I was telling him he couldn’t do that because it was dangerous and he would fall.  Without missing a beat and with all the confidence in the world says, “I can do it mom. I’m awesome. I can do anything.”  Wow buddy.  You know what?  You’re right.  You.are.awesome. I wonder at what point adults lost their ability to believe in themselves.  To believe that we are amazing?  And even more, to believe others are amazing.  Point taken, kid.

Then later in the day, I got an email with news I didn’t really want to hear.  It wasn’t meant to be discouraging but it was.  I have been trying to get a job in my field but outside the classroom and it hasn’t worked out the way I had hoped.  It’s been discouraging and has made me question my own self-worth.  My oldest noticed my mood was kind of glum and asked me what was wrong. At first I told him it was nothing but he insisted that I spill it.  So, because I like awkward words better than awkward silence I told him the truth.  I told him I was disappointed that I hadn’t gotten a job yet.  And then, because I felt the weird need to add to the awkwardness, told him I was a “pretty good teacher” so I didn’t really understand.  He pats my arm and speaks with wisdom far beyond his 10 years.  He said, “mom, I think God wants you to be a stay-at-home mom.  You’ve prayed about it and it’s just not happening.  You are a good teacher but he’s an even better one. (as he points to Heaven).”  Shew.  Cue the orchestra music and grab your hankie.  I still get misty-eyed thinking about that precious boy and the way the Lord used him to speak to me.  Teach me o’Lord and help me to be a good student.

When we got home my daughter and niece were playing upstairs and I could hear them debating over whether or not to go into the playroom.  My niece was afraid because she heard a noise and my daughter (who, mind you, is usually the one peeing her pants over every little noise) said to her, “Abby.  We don’t have to be afraid to go in there.  Jesus is with us and he won’t let anything bad happen to us. You know that.”  My niece simply says, “oh yea.  That’s right.”  and they go about their business.  What the whaaat??  Just imagine if us silly old adults would remember that there is no need to be afraid.  We can go after our heart’s desire because God is right there with us, we need only believe.

I can’t let this blog go without talking about some of my children who didn’t actually live in my womb.  With all the current events, I’ve been thinking alot about my first two years of teaching and the students who were my “babies” before I had babies of my own. I taught in an inner city school in Alabama.  My teaching partner and I were the minority in the building and we learned more about life in those two years than I suspect most people with “normal” jobs ever learn.  The children were from home situations that would make grown men cry.  They came to school not to learn but to be loved.  My friend Dede and I would drive after school into horrible parts of town and pick up our beloved babies to take them to church..or skating..or McDonald’s.  It didn’t matter where we took them, they wanted to be with us and we wanted to love and protect them.  They never saw the color of our skin.  They saw a lap to sit in, an adult who loved them and a shoulder to cry on.  We never saw the color of their skin.  We saw children who were wildly funny, brilliantly creative and in dire need of love and affection.  You could say it was a match made in Heaven.  One child in particular was close to our hearts.  Her name was Shaniya.  One day she stayed after school with Dede and I and she took notice of our skin color.  She asked if we were sisters and we told her no.  She said, “but you are both white so I thought you must be sisters.”  We laughed because it was adorable and told her that we weren’t sisters.  After studying us a minute (which is a big deal when you are in kindergarten) she finally says, “Yep, you aren’t sisters.  Mrs. McCluey you are light white and Mrs. Rose you are dark white.”  She takes a big breath and says, “I still want you guys to be in my Princess Club because you love me and I love you guys.”  Her little five year old heart had embraced what some callus adults have forgotten.  It’s not the color of the skin but the contents of the heart that matter.

God bless the little children and God bless America.  And Lord, help us to just stop and take notes every now and then.

 

Cheater, Cheater Pumpkin Eater

Lately I’ve been spiritually spoiled.  I’m not really sure if that’s even a ‘thing’ but if not, I think it should be.  The past two weeks have been really rough for me and over the course of a couple unfortunate events, I have realized that I am, in fact, spoiled.  My kids are healthy, my husband is awesome (like 2/3 of the time), our financial needs are met (because eating ramen noodles is delicious and cheap), no one that I love is suffering through illness.  I’ve got it extremely good right now.  Of course, this hasn’t always been the case.  There have been loads of times where any of the above statements haven’t been true and I’ve had to cling to God and weather the storm.  Recently though, I’ve been spiritually spoiled.  I thought my relationship with God, and the condition of my heart, was fantastic.  I pray, I read my bible and I go to church.  What I wasn’t taking into consideration (because I had temporarily forgotten) is how easy it is to praise God and smile joyfully whilst sitting on top of the mountain.

I have been praying about a couple things in my life for the better part of the year.  I naturally assumed that since I had taken it to God in prayer, he would open the doors that needed to be opened and I would receive his favor.  So it goes without saying that I was totally taken aback when God slammed the doors shut so hard that I literally felt the wind in my hair.  I would go into detail about what doors were shut but truthfully, it doesn’t matter.  It could have been any number of things: a relationship, a job, financial situation, or a struggle with health.  The big take-away here is that I thought that God would grant me my requests and I would continue basking in the sun from atop the mountain.  But he didn’t.  And I acted a fool.  I mean I cried, I acted selfish and proud, I composed hateful speeches (in my head, of course) to all the people who I thought needed a piece of my mind.  I was grouchy to my husband and children.  I even did the thing that is so terribly human: I questioned God and his will for me life.  So basically, I acted like what I am: a totally flawed human.  I spent a full week running through a course of emotional meltdowns before I hit my stubborn knees to pray and repent.

When the prayer and reflection began I had to come to terms that I had basically failed God’s test of faith.  When presented with answers that I did not like or understand I did not ‘practice what I preach’ very well.  At least not at first.  I read scriptures and devotionals, I even stopped scrolling long enough on facebook to read all the religious stuff people over-share (I’m not talking about you, of course.  Your posts are all awesome.)  But the fact of the matter is I was still just plain ole mad.  God shut those doors for my benefit, of that I am sure, but at the time it felt like rejection.  And I have deep, dark issues with rejection.  I want people to like me, I want to say and do the right things to keep everyone happy.  If people don’t like me or I’m faced with confrontation, an emotional warfare is waged on the inside and I dwell on it for days.  It causes anxiety that I can’t even begin to explain.  So when I am faced with rejection I basically crumble into a heap of emotionally damaged, blubbering rubble.  My husband reminded me mid-meltdown last week that when we have sought God’s will then it is not rejection but divine intervention.  This gave me pause for thought.  Pause because I knew it was true but also because it served as a blatant reminder that I was acting ridiculous when I knew full well God knows what he is doing.  In hindsight, I put off praying longer than I should have because I knew that I had failed miserably at putting my faith into action.  And Satan just loves to torment us with that kind of ammunition.  He had been whispering quietly in my head that I was not a real Christian and hadn’t matured spiritually at all.  “Real Christians trust God and move on.  They don’t throw little fits like you have.  You aren’t saved at all,” I heard him whisper in my head.  Forgive me for being frank but Satan is such a turd like that.  He always kicks us when we are down.  And sadly, I laid in a spiritual fetal position ready to quit life for a week.  I’m painting a horrible picture, I know.  But behind the scenes I had people intervening on my behalf, praying for me and lifting my name up to the Lord.  He never left me, let me just go ahead and say that.  It was my stubborn hind end that had decided to lay down and quit.  I knew where my life line was, I just wasn’t ready to tug on it for help.

Last night was a breaking point for me.  I hit my knees and hit them hard!  My attitude was bleeding over onto every single member of my family and I knew I needed divine intervention.  I cried and prayed and asked God to forgive my stubborn heart.  I confessed that his plan is always the right one and I am nothing without him.  I asked for help with my issues with rejection.  I prayed that I would care what God thinks about me and not what man thinks about me.  Most of all, I prayed that God would forgive me for failing the test of faith.  WHAT I AM ABOUT TO TELL YOU NOW MIGHT MAKE YOU WANT TO SHOUT. God impressed upon my heart that it’s an open book test!!  As long as I’m still breathing I can change my answers!!  Incredible!  I don’t have to settle for how I acted last week-it was a valley and I didn’t respond like I should have at first but praise God, it’s an open book test!!!  God knows how very human we are and he has equipped us with all we need to follow him: his holy word.  Rest assured that no matter how ridiculous you act or how far you stray, because of God’s grace and mercy we are free to go back and change our answers.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

Dear Christian Friend, A Heartfelt Letter to You

Dear Christian Friend,

It seems like every time I turn around I see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  I see them on magazine covers and all kinds of social media.  The whole world is paying attention to what the royal family is doing.  Why do you think that is?  Well, quite frankly, it’s because their blood line is, well, (I hate to be redundant here but…) royal.  They are set apart from the basic commoners and held to a higher standard.  People have fantastic expectations of how they should dress, how they should conduct themselves and the company they should carry.  It’s really quite impressive that the family can keep it all together and stay out of the headlines for some scandalous behavior unbecoming of the royal family.

I can’t help but think how much Christians and the royal family have in common.  Just like the whole world is watching England’s royal family, the whole world is also watching you my Christian friend.  When we wear our Christ-loving propaganda/flaunt our cell-phone cover crosses/drive our vans with bumper stickers professing our love for Jesus/update our face book status with scriptural quotes, when we do any of that, the world is watching.  They want to see how you, a member of the one true King’s royal family, is going to act. And oh!  What expectations the world has of us!!  The world has a beautiful vision of how we should look, how we should act and how we should respond to situations.  The world desires to see something different in us, something not-so-common.  Supernatural behavior, if you will.  We are, after all, covered by royal blood and a direct heir to Heaven and all it’s treasures!  The world, especially those that are not saved yet, wants to know what all the fuss is about.  If God changes you from the inside out then surely they should see something different from you, child of God!  We’ve got a great responsibility Christian friend; the world is looking to us for an example.  Are we showing them behavior worthy of that old rugged cross or are we turning them away?

If we are being honest, friend, I’m troubled by what I’ve seen of you lately.  There are a lot of troubling events taking place in our lifetime, right in this very day.  I know that full well.  I’m troubled by it all, too.  But what troubles me deeply is the way I see you responding.  I see you lash out on social media.  I see you argue and bicker with our non-saved friends.  I see you resort to hateful one-liners and ugly re-posts on hot button topics.  I know you feel passionately about what’s going on because I feel passionately, too.  But let me tell you this.  You are not winning the hearts and minds of others on social media when you engage in arguments that are fueled by feelings and masked by a screen.  You are only working to further DIVIDE us as a body of Christ.  Share your feelings!  I know you have studied the bible and are informed, full of God’s love but let me ask this of you:  share them face to face while you are working the harvest so that others can see the love and expression you have when you talk about our king!  Win their hearts and minds not by challenging their deeply held convictions, igniting anger and confrontation but by showing them what true, unadulterated love looks and feels like in the flesh!  Let them see God in you!!

I see you Christian friend.  I see you when you are ordering your coffee and the tattooed, pierced barista is waiting on you.  She sees you too and she wonders why you are looking at her in secretive judgment.  She takes one look at your WWJD bracelet and makes up her mind that if Jesus acts that way, she doesn’t want any part.  The woman sitting beside you at the beauty shop that’s just had an abortion sees you too.  She hears every last ugly word you said while you railed against the filthy, horrible women who vote pro-abortion.  She heard you say those terrible things while wearing your “I am a child of God” shirt and she furthered her resolve to never follow Christ.  The Muslim teenage boy sitting two rows back from you on the plane saw you when you boarded.  He picked you out right away because he is thinking of giving his life to Christ and he saw your necklace that had a scripture written on it.  He is watching you in hopeful anticipation that he may see this Christ that he has been reading about in you.  His heart sank when he heard you make inappropriate and racist jokes about terrorists on the plane.

I’m not judging you, friend.  Truly I am not.  I have a burden for you…for me…for all of us.  I know things are messed up and that our world is in need of Christ.  We are living in times that are unprecedented and frightening.  I get where you are coming from when you make your social media posts because I have done it too.  But I think as Christians, we are missing the point.  I revisited the book of John tonight and was reminded exactly how Jesus wants us to behave.  Before Jesus died on the cross, for our sins no less, he washed his disciples feet.  Even more than that, he placed his garments around his waist like a lowly servant to wash their feet.  He knew that one would betray him, one would disown him and that they would all abandon him out of fear and he loved them anyway.  If fact, scripture says: “Having loved his own who were in this world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1.  Even after they disowned, betrayed and left him he loved them to the end.  Are we loving people like that, Christian friend?  Shortly after that verse Jesus tells  his disciples this: “A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples  if you love one another.” John 13:34  Jesus charges us to love each other like he loves us.  He loved his disciples even though they were not deserving of his love to the end.  He loves us even though we are flawed and undeserving.  That woman in the beauty shop that has just had an abortion doesn’t need to hear your political views, she needs to feel and hear the love of Jesus!!  She is flawed and made a horrible mistake, yes!  But so are you my dear Christian friend!  She needs to hear that there is a Jesus who loves!  She needs to see the love of Jesus in you!!   The harvest is ready, friend!  Are you working it like you should?

I’ll leave you with this final word from Jesus.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.  The one who loves me will be loved by my father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.  John 14: 21

Show yourself to me, oh Lord.

With Christ’s Love,

Your flawed but forgiven friend

 

 

 

 

Here’s to You, Not-So-Homeless Lady.

As we get older I think we really come to grips with certain truths about ourselves.  I, for example, am a dreamer and forever optimist.  My mind is constantly spinning and my ideas are larger than life.  I’ve never met someone I didn’t give the benefit of the doubt-even if deep down I know they are probably not as nice as they seem.  Most days I get out of bed and feel like with enough Jesus and coffee, I can CHANGE THE WORLD.  But, in keeping true to who I am, I rarely follow through with all the great plans I have.  I am horrible at keeping a schedule and like to fly by the seat of my pants.  Schedules actually give me hives (or something like that).  That said, I milk every second of every day, terrified of wasting even the slightest moment sitting still or not being “busy”.  I’ve tried to change it, believe me, I have.  It drives my sweet husband crazy and makes things much more chaotic than they should be.  But, I’ve accepted the fact that it’s part of what makes me who I am.  I guess you could say I’m more of a Martha than a Mary.  I am really, really good at spontaneity however.  Couple my spontaneous personality with my heart that I like to wear on my sleeve and you have a random-act-of-kindness machine!

Helping others is my happy place and anytime I see a situation that I think could use a little kindness, I jump in and try to spread the love of Jesus.  As such, I am 100% the person who gives everything in my wallet to the homeless people on the exit ramps holding the signs.  I’ve been criticized for it more than I’ve been told, “way to go”.  I’ve read the articles about all the “homeless” people who are actually raking in more money than my family makes honestly and yet I still continue to give.  I have always reasoned with myself that there is no way I can know their situation.  I imagine a very sad story to go along with the face I see begging for money. I tell myself it must be true because no self-respecting person would beg for money unless they had to.  I remind myself that even if they do something dishonest with the money God searches the condition of my heart and motives and I will be rewarded for my actions.  I have always told myself all these things but I had never really been faced with someone who was actually a liar and a thief.

On our way home from vacation we stopped at a little town in Georgia to make a coffee run.  There was a particularily frail looking older woman on the exit ramp holding a cardboard sign.  She looked especially lost and downtrodden-like she had truly given up on life.  I stared at her and my heart began to bleed.  I wondered what her story was and how she wound up on the side of the road.  I wondered if anyone had ever told her about a man named Jesus.  Nick pulled off in search of coffee mid-thought and that was it.  I went in to get our coffee and when i came out, Nick saw me glance over my shoulder toward the exit.  As we were driving away he quietly says, “what do you want to do?  Give her some money?”  Before I can open my mouth he sighs and says, “okay, that’s fine.  I know you do. I’ll go up to the next exit and you can run in and get some cash and we will go back.”  I smiled and silently thanked God for giving me this man who knows and accepts me just as I am.  I began feverishly looking for a bag to put snacks from our trip in.  The kids helped me find a Wal-Mart bag and I began emptying out our snacks.  Luke had packed a bible from the house so I put it in there too.  I even dug into our suitcase and got out all the travel shampoos and lotions from the trip to put in the bag.  After I got the money, Nick got back on the interstate and got off on the ramp.  We prayed for her and talked to the kids about why it was important to help this random lady. By this point it had begun to sprinkle and I was in a panic thinking about this older woman having nowhere to go in the rain.  Much to my dispair, the lady wasn’t there when we got off the ramp.  Nick drove up the road to turn around and that’s when we saw her.  She was walking, at a much faster, more confident pace and she reached in her coat pocket, pulled out her keys and got into a nice car.  A nice car with a really nice ladder on the top.  My husband doesn’t even have a ladder.  Seeing this took my breath away.  I immediately began to make excuses for her.  Maybe she’d borrowed the car, maybe she was terminally ill and needed the money even though she had a car.  Maybe she lived in her car.  But the truth was that she was probably driving to her house in another town, in her nice car with her nice ladder.  Everything was probably nice but her.

Nick immediately began to lecture me about the dangers of trusting people and giving money away.  I’d like to say I took his lecture to heart but I didn’t.  My mind was already deep in thought on the complexity of the situation.  Ava began to ask questions about why on Earth someone would lie and take our money.  I had no child-like explanation for her.  I finally settled on telling her that not everyone has a heart like we do.  I was frustrated that I was having to explain it to the kids in the first place. I was angry that they might be led to believe that you can’t do nice things for people because they aren’t deserving or honest.  My feelings were hurt because I was getting lectured for my ‘niavity’ by my precious husband who sits back and lets me give our money away to strangers on a regular basis.  I’ll admit that for a moment I thought I was foolish and should have known better than to trust people.  But it was just for a moment.  I thought about that woman much of the way home and in the days that followed.  And you know what?  The experience gave me the opportunity to pray for her. To reach out to God on her behalf.  Ava continued asking a few questions about her.  I had to examine how I would approach these situations in the future.  You’ll never believe what I decided.  I decided that the momentary anger I felt is what is desensitizing our nation.  I refuse to let the momentary emotions overshadow who I am and what I can do for the kingdom of Heaven.  Why do we give, after all?  God’s word has many things to say about giving.

Hebrews 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you. 

And these are just a few of the commands.  You will notice it never says give if you think they are deserving or give after you have judged and decided they are honest.  Nope.  I have decided that giving has nothing to do with the person being given to.  For me, giving is a matter of my heart.  A true reflection of what lives inside of me.  More than that, it is a command from God and my heart’s desire is to be obedient to him.  What the devil meant to knock the wind out of my sails has only strengthened my resolve.  My implusive nature and tender heart is a gift.  I may not be able to plan the most elaborate prayer meeting or volunteer on a daily basis but I can complete random acts of kindness with reckless abandon…and that is just what I will continue to do.  Thanks, not-so-homeless lady for such an awesome lesson.

 

 

 

I will never be enough.

It’s spring and around here that means one thing: baseball.  Sports in this house is usually a joyous activity that occupies the hearts and minds of our children.  Their daddy works away and is gone for long periods of time so it’s always refreshing to fill the days until his return with practices, games, stinky socks, dirty cleats and basically just all things sports.  We want them to stay busy but we also want them to stay happy.  When they have to much time to sit idly around, one of them inevitably ends up crying for daddy and that makes us all sad so we try to avoid thinking, or talking, about it to much.  Four weeks may not seem like a long time but when you are in the eye of the storm, it is really loonnggg.

A few nights ago Jack had practice so I dropped him off and threatened him within an inch of his life not to leave his new jacket and water bottle at the field since he was riding home with someone else.  Well, when I picked him up three hours later, imagine my shock to learn that he did, in fact, leave all said items at the field. Ugh.  Sometimes I wonder why I even speak. I drove him back and listened as he gave me a play-by-play of every strike, foul ball and pop-up that happened during practice while the other two giggled and laughed listening to their bubby talk. When we pulled up to the field Jack’s coach and his son were still there practicing.  Jack’s demeanor changed within moments of seeing this but it didn’t click with me right away.  He asked me why they were still there and I told him that they probably just wanted to get in a little more practice and then I moved on to what we were going to eat for dinner.  By the time we got home, Jack was in full melt-down mode.  He got irrationally mad at his brother and sister and yelled at them, he was disrepectful to me when I corrected him and went into a katy-bar-the-door crying fit.  I mean, I remember standing there in shock while this usually level-headed child of mine turned into an irrational, well, preteen.  If someone could have recorded my face the first five minutes of his meltdown, I’m pretty sure it could have been a facebook meme or a wildly popular youtube video.  After the initial shock wore off and I found words again, I tried to get to the bottom of what was wrong.  After all, not an hour before he was as happy as could be and now he was quite possibly on the verge of dehydration from all the tears he’d cried.  He finally mumbled what I somehow missed.  HE MISSED DAD.  It was an epic mom fail (story of my life) that I did not realize that when he saw his friend and his coach practicing together, he became immensely aware of the void in his life.  And perhaps void isn’t the best word because when Nick is home you have never seen a more involved, loving father in all the world.  He plays, and tickles and laughs, and makes funny jokes.  (Seriously he is just the best thing ever and I wish I were exaggerating because his awesomeness makes me extremely boring in their eyes but alas, he is truly amazing.) But then again, void is exactly the thing we all feel.  For the four weeks he is gone the emptiness takes up an extraordinary amount of room in our hearts. We feel it in the extra plate at every meal, the empty place in the bed, the empty seat in our pew at church (who am I kidding; we don’t have a pew.  We are always late, we sit wherever we can squeeze in). And I do my best to fill the void.  I keep them busy, I take them to church and teach them to pray.  I try my best to stay upbeat and positive even though some days I miss him so much that the sadness takes my breath away.  I hide all emotions but the happy ones.  I even quit my job to be there for them all of the time.  And yet, I am not enough.  And the truth is, I will never be enough and neither will their daddy.

After my sweet boy cried until his eyes were swollen and my empathy had morphed into frustration, he finally fell asleep.  He was missing daddy and truly heartbroken.  This momma wept too.  I was broken for my boy.  I couldn’t fix his broken heart and it killed my soul.  I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed for God to help my baby and it was during this time in sorrow and prayer that God ever so lovingly made me realize that i can never be enough.  And I’m sorry to report but you won’t be enough either, sweet mommas..  Our job is to teach them to know the one who will always be enough.  Time is quickly passing and that chubby little hand that used to drag his “melmo” pillow through the house to snuggle in the bed is turning into a hand that will all to soon be driving a car. That baby boy who used to be stuck to my hip as I tried to do my chores rarely stays in the same room as me anymore.  He is growing up quickly and his brother and sister are too.  There will be many times in their lives that they will weep and they will feel great sorrow and their daddy and I might not even know it.  This time he wept because he missed his daddy but later he will cry for other, more profound, reasons.  And their ability to bounce back from their sorrows will depend on one thing: did we teach them to really know and seek the face of the one who can heal their broken hearts?

I don’t always sign the reading log, sometimes I don’t make them study spelling words as much as they should.  My kid is the one who doesn’t have on his academic team shirt during the district championship because I forgot where I put it.  My shortcomings in the role of mother are too numerous to list but I don’t ever want to be guilty of not teaching them to seek the one who can be with them everywhere they go, every single day of their lives.  I don’t want to forget to teach them that there is a God who loves them, and is merciful and will rescue them when they fall. Whether it’s their first day of college and their stomach aches to go home or if the remnants of a bad choice leave them scared, ashamed and alone.  I want them to know that there is a Heavenly father who will always be enough.  A great big God who is with them wherever they go.  My babies are really not babies anymore.  They are becoming little people who have extraordinary emotions and opinions all of their own.  I thank God for my wake up call to remind me that my duty as mother is far greater than helping complete a science project or get to practice on time.  I am called to teach my children to seek and depend on a God who will be their calm in the midst of any storm they face in life.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Who I’m Not.

This week has been the worst one in recent memory. I called the police when someone knocked on the door during the day and didn’t answer when I asked who it was. I got totally freaked out that the super creepy guy down the road was trying to stage a home invasion. Imagine my relief when I opened the door and the policemen hit me in the arm with an envelope from UPS. Whoops. Looks like I wasted tax dollars. My bad. I have felt excruciating pain all week to what I chocked up as a pulled muscle from a zumba class, because you know, I’m getting old and am a weakling. When the pain was finally making me want to punch puppies and kittens, I went to the doctor. I have pluerisy in my lung. Didn’t see that one coming. If my darling children miss one more day of school for this menopausal weather they may beat each other to death in a wildly savage rendition of Hunger Games. And then today, my feelings got hurt. My character was called into question by someone who has taken little time or energy to know me and while I know it was just an attack from Satan himself, it hurt. My greatest fault is caring to much what others think of me. I may not be the friend that remembers every birthday or special event, or who goes above and beyond in some Laverne-and-Shirley episode of life, but I am the friend who thinks of you, prays for you and would give you the shirt off my back if I knew you needed it. The season of life I am in right now is just hectic. Moment to moment I am surrounded by three children who simultaneously need me to love them, wipe their butts (well, not all of them need that), feed them something they don’t deem ‘disgusting’, help them with homework, find their favorite toy, kiss their boo-boos. I mean, no sane man would make it out alive. But anyway, I cried. A lot. And to be honest, I haven’t cried like that in a long, long time. It wasn’t so much the situation but rather the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Thankfully, my support system is awesome and didn’t let me stay down for long. Shout out to my homies who keep it real for me everyday and remind me who I am. You know who you. **ahem, nick, anna carol, steve, olivia, jenny, jana and mallory.** Anyway, I have nothing funny, light hearted or articulate to say. Only this poem that came flowing out once Jesus picked me up and dusted me off. Maybe you can relate. Tonight, it’s all I’ve got to give.

A hollow shadow, broken within.

The seeds of sadness have crept their way in.

A faint cry from the girl who once lived carefree

is hushed and pushed down deep inside of me.

I’m not sure the exact moment that quieted me for good

but the ground beneath me fell where I once firmly stood.

A think crack in my vessel slowly growing larger each day.

Until all at once I was empty and had nothing left to say.

Hopeless despair slowly fills up my soul, it’s so hard to even think.

I’m swimming with emotions but I’m beginning to sink. 

I think of times that once made me strong

and before I even know it, I’m whispering a familiar song.

“And I know they’ll be days when this life brings me pain,

but if that’s what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain.”

Jesus, I whisper but a little louder this time.

Oh Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, precious friend of mine! 

I remember there’s hope for my broken heart.

When I’m persecuted and lied about and unjustly torn apart.

I don’t have to accept inadequacy, worthlessness or defeat.

I can cry out to Jesus on Heaven’s mercy seat!!

His word tells me to be the salt of the Earth

but I can’t do that when I allow lies from Satan to steal my self worth!

Unbelievers think I should be perfect since I follow him

they don’t understand the only one who’s ever been perfect is he who lives within.

The devil uses people, the past and my faults,

to make me believe the “saltiness” has been taken from my salt.

Jesus picked me up today, despite my wounds and broken pot.

He said, “Rise up woman of God and let me tell you what you are NOT!”

You are NOT defeated, and you are not a fake,

You are NOT up for grabs for the devil to take!

You are NOT without a father to lift you up when you fall,

and you are NOT going to give up on the purpose for which you’ve been called!

You are NOT alone and you are NOT through, for you are NOT without the Holy Spirit,

He lives inside of you. 

Thanks, God.  From a perfectly imperfect woman just trying to make it to Heaven.