Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I remember even when she was just one year old she would line up her little toys in a straight line across the floor.  One time when she had turned to get a few more toys, I nudged one out of order.  She looked back, and noticing the one out of order, she glared up at me, pushing it back in line.  We laughed. 

When she was two I remember staying in a hotel one night while traveling with my Mom and sister.  She was trying to lay out her small pink blankie - the one she took everywhere.  For ten minutes, she would hold onto the corners of the blanket and flush it into the air.  She became more and more frustrated and then the tears flowed.  She wanted the blanket to fall to the floor and lay out perfectly.  I laid the blanket out for her and she curled up on top of it, falling quickly to sleep.

I could try to recall the numerous times this type of situation has replayed itself in some way during my little girl's six years of life.  Maybe it was at her parent-teacher conference in Preschool when the teacher mentioned that Beca would return to the toy shelf after the others had picked up, to put the toys in order.  Or the time when I asked her to put the shoes back away and she sorted the entire pile of her and her siblings shoes by color and use.  Becca likes order.

Last week I taught Becca how to load the dishwasher.  After a few times of loading it together, I decided that yesterday would be her first solo attempt at it.  I brought her the stepstool to get started, and then left her to her task for fear I might exasperate her with constant instruction if I stayed in the room.  A half an hour later, I checked on her. She was upset that the task was taking so long.  Peering into the dishwasher, I noticed why.  She had sorted the silverware and arranged it in the basket.  She had sorted the cups, and they were all grouped by type with handles perfecly aligned.  Hearing her soft tears of frustration as she said, "This is taking so long!" I responded, "they don't have to be in order sweat pea, they just have to be clean."  I hesitated.

My soul had heard the same message that just spilled from my lips - "you don't have to be in order, you just need to be clean."

Don't I do the same thing with God?  I strive to get myself in order, my life in order before I come to Him.   He whispers come to me first - before you are clean, before you are orderly.  It is Christ and the Holy Spirit who makes order out of chaos, peace out of panic.  He spoke and the world came to be - a world that reflects the orderly nature of God.  He kissed my body into life inside my birth mother's womb - a body with systems, processes, things neatly bundled and packaged -orderly.

That day in the garden, when Adam saw only what he didn't have, rather than what he did - order, perfection, holy communion with God - that was the day disorder entered the world, and we have been fighting it ever since.  It shows up in our marraiges, in our relationships with our children.  It shows up in our frustration, in our laziness, in our hearts and minds when we still today, look at what we don't have (materialism, power, self-focus) rather than what we do (God himself - a free gift, a complete gift). 

I wonder if I need to correct my six year old - to let her know that her world will not always be in order.  No, the world will do that.  She will have failures, competitions lost, plans disrupted, cheese moved.  I can train her today though, to look to the true God who orchestrates order.  To know in her heart what really matters - perfection of self? No.  Perfection of situation? Not possible.  But perfection in Christ - to be made perfect daily - minute by minute through the washing of His word - his grace falling on us over and over again, cleansing us from our wickedness, and dare I say, the sins I will still commit.

"We don't need to be in order, we just need to be clean".

May the pieces of my life be arranged by His plan, not my own.  May I find peace and assurance in His hands, not my own.  May my heart know that this orderly world was created for our pleasure, to bring us to Him, not to the world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


It happened just days ago, his little face staring up at mine - searching, wondering and then, there it was - a smile.  Not one of those newborn smiles brought on by gas - but a real one.  He moved his arms frantically, lifted his chin and a small sound escaped from deep within.  A sound that said that all the long nights, the constant nursings - giving of myself to this tiny child have meant something, have created a bond.  He recognizes his momma.  After weeks of cradled closeness, skin-to-skin, drinking in life - he sees me.  His face and voice express joy and contentment, and I can't help but wonder.....

Is this how we really begin to see God?

Are we born again, pulled close to Him, nursing from his Word - the breath of Life?  When we spend time with Him - inconvenient hours - sharing words in the middle of the night, in the middle of the day - pausing to drink - no, gulp - the sweet milk from our Father.  Is this how we see Him?  Do we recognize Him because we have smelled His essence - our breath has fallen against his chest?  The peaceful breaths of satisfaction, the deep sighs of discontentment, the gasps for air when we face trial - has He felt that breath as we draw near to Him? Do we smile because we know that "no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless"?  Is our smile like some family pictures - forced and uncomfortable, or is it an innocent expression of joy? Does our body tremble with excitement as we utter a small, frail voice to the God of Creation?  Are we like infant children, resting in His Grace and trusting in Him.

The baby coos and giggles and I memorize the moment - I soak in the way the skin under his eyes wrinkles, his eyes sparkle, his lips - pink and full - curve around a toothless grin. And there they are - the hint of dimples in soft, plush cheeks.  A thought steals into my moment....

Is this how God really sees me?

Does God cradle me in His arms, and memorize my face - the face of His child?  Am I a helpless babe - in need of saving, in need of gracious gifts from my Father?  Does He clothe me and clean up my messes - even the really dirty ones?  Do I scream when I need something and sleep content when I am satisfied?  Is there a world I need protection from - things that lure or injure?  Does God lather my tender heart with lotion to soothe the chafing brought on by imperfect people in an imperfect world?  Does He anxiously await the moment.................oh, that precious moment...........when we finally look up and see Him?  Really see Him?  The sound of our voice reaches His ears and He recognizes what He has known all along, and what we are just beginning to see.....
We are His.

Friday, January 14, 2011


A few screwdrivers, scissors, nails, tape, batteries, buttons, remotes long forgotten, rubberbands, and more are lying in a drawer affectionately named the "junk drawer".  A basket on one shelf holds loose change, extra pens, more buttons, paperclips, a princess lip gloss, and a token for free ice cream.  I am pretty sure we all have them - drawers, cabinets, shelves, baskets, an area where things accumulate.  Things that may be related to each other, but they are piled or dumped and slowly build with no real organization or sorting.  Other times the items might be random, thrown there during the mayhem of guests arriving.

I have been working on these places.  Picking one and sorting through the items.  A pile for goodwill, a box full of things to give to friends or family, a bag to store in the basement or attic - I sort the items until they are in their rightful place.  I move from one area to the next over days, and what I fear might take weeks as I add one more drawer or cabinet to the list.

We also have these drawers and cabinets in areas which might be hard to find - deep within our spirit.  We stuff things in there at times - an emotion here, a denial there, words here,  resentment there.  These things pile up until they begin bulging out of their space, and one day the door flies open and they all spill out.  We need to go through these areas too.  We need to process things that we have tucked away - deal with the emotion, let go of the words said.  We need to throw things out, give them away, or put them in their proper place and perspective.  As we sift through these places in our lives, and expose their contents to our Lord, he assists us in cleaning out the area, tidying up, and replacing it with clean and simplistic living.  A life with focus and meaning, and not stifled by the clutter of things in the past.

Psalm 51:1-12
"Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. "

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


A new year sets in, and I find myself doing the same thing I do every year - setting personal goals and making lists of things to finally get done.  Each year the list is similar - sometimes more hefty than others, but always leaning towars over doing it - finish that entire list of Christian books I have not yet gotten to, read through the Bible twice this year, memorize a book of the Bible, write in my journal daily, pray three times a day, etc.  Somewhere in my planning something is lost, and even as I begin implementing my well-thought out plans, I know deep down they have the scent of failure.  I know this because I have done this before.  Some say "it is better to try and fail than fail to try", and so I keep planning.

In the past when I have failedto consistently implement these plans, I tell myself - if I could only devote all my time to reading the scripture, praying, memorzing, meditating, THEN I would be changed.  THEN I would be made new in rapid fashion - metamorphosizing into the Christian wife, mother and woman I want to be.  I just need more time, less distraction, less responsibilities. 

"Happy is the land whose king is a nobleman and whose leaders feast only to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk." ~Ecclesiastes 10:17

This type of thinking - the one that suggests a life surrounded by Godly things will make me more Godly, is not biblical at all. When I yearn for seclusion with God, I am a leader choosing to get drunk.  I want a full meal every time - the cups overflowing with the fruit of the true Vine - but so much knowledge only gets me lazy and intoxicated with God.  It does not make disciples.  It does not fish for men.  It does not make new.  I am comfortable and know the right answers, but I am unchanged.  Instead, I need to be a leader who eats just enough for the battle - who nourishes thier soul long enough to work another day.  I need to soak in only that which can be digested in one sitting - that which fills the inner parts of my body with spiritual vitamins of joy, peace, and encouragement.  Rather than trying to do it all - maybe a piece at a time is a better approach?  I also need to push myself away from the table - to take on the rest of my day - not leaving God behind, but bringing Him with me.  I can't spend my time lying down drunk on the knowledge and love of God and not share it with others.  Those responsibilites, challenges and duties of the day-to-day life that at times I am so eager to shed in order to be able to focus more on God are not obstacles!  You see, they are not a distraction from God, but an opportunity He has given me to make me grow, to reach others for Christ, to be a light in this dark world!

So I am going to set aside some of my godly ambitions this year.  Don't get me wrong - it is important to read your Bible!  It is important to pray regularly!  Scripture memorization can be life that sustains you!  But setting human goals to accomplish all of this makes it duty, not joy.  Makes it purpose, not pleasure.  Makes it my work, not God's.  At the end of a year based on those ambitions (my own ambitions), I might be tired, weak, and unchanged.  However, at the end of a year of tasteful bites that I have savored, God may have developed my taste buds.  He may change me in a way that makes no other meal satisfy than one given by Him alone.  And THAT is what I yearn for.  To be completely changed - made new through the power of Christ, and not by my own strength. 

Oh Lord, develop my tastebuds for you so that only your word can satisfy.  Teach my muscles to move only through your strength and my heart to be driven by your will and compassion. ~ Karen