The words he reads

He held up the game from the cupboard to show me. An old Mastermind game I used to school Matt at while we laid in bed on winter evenings a few years back. “Look, Mommy!” he said, pointing to the top of the game, excitement and surprise on his face. “Look what it says!” I read the word to myself, Mastermind.

“Yes, Jacob. I see. That’s a game Mommy and Daddy used to play.”

“But Mommy! LOOK! Look at what it says!” His big brown eyes were open even wider, eyebrows raised. A broad smile pushed his chubby cheeks up, revealing his beautifully straight teeth. His expression was one of delightful surprise. Oh, how I love the perfectly expressive faces that boy makes.

“What’s it say, Bud?” From where I stood, I could see it. But I didn’t think he knew what it said.

“It says, ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ See?” He pointed to the game name and cocked his head towards me with a pleased look. Then he put the game away and continued playing with the cars he had previously lined up for an important meeting.

I sat there, contemplating our brief conversation. Sweet boy, I thought. My sweet boy, always stopping to pray when someone says they don’t feel well, or anytime I say,  “Ouch!” Always remembering to pray for our pastor, his family, and anyone we’ve encountered that day, and reminding us to do the same. Reminding me now that Jesus loves me by pretending he read those words on the top of a silly game. …And yet he looked so convinced that’s what they said. Like he wasn’t pretending at all.

Conversation now tucked away in my mind somewhere, all but forgotten, I continued with my own task of folding the mound of laundry while watching the kids work on puzzles and host car meetings.

It wasn’t until the next day when I thought of that conversation again. The sun streamed through the blinds and landed on the same spot the kids had been playing the day before. This time, he sat stacking blocks. I said something to him – although I don’t remember what – causing him to look up my direction.

I was greeted with another look of surprise. “Mommy! Look! I never saw dat before!” He hopped up and ran to the piano, a huge grin spreading across his face.

“What’s that, Buddy?” I tried to see what he was pointing to. All I saw was the piano.

“Wight dere, Mommy! Look! Look what it says!” He pointed just above Middle C, at the word across the front of the blonde spinet, Kimball. “Mommy! I can’t believe I never saw it before! It says, ‘Jesus loves me!’ Do you see it?”

I smiled. “I see it, Buddy. I see it. You’re right, Jacob. Jesus loves you. Very much.

Pleased with his new discovery, he headed back to his tower of blocks mumbling to himself with a smile, “I can’t believe I never saw dat before. It’s wight dere.

And it got me thinking…

Where am I missing the signs. The signs that are right there all along. The places Jesus is telling me that HE loves ME, but I never stop to notice?

Then last night. The evening of Palm Sunday. The start of Holy Week. He said it again.

We were in his bedroom getting on his PJs. He looked up at the sign that hangs above where his crib used to be. “The Prince Sleeps Here.” And on his wall, J-A-C-O-B. “Mommy! See dat? It says it everywhere, Mommy! Jesus Loves Me. Jesus Loves Me. It’s everywhere!” He said it twice, first pointing to the letters of his own name, then to the oval sign.

I stood there, lost in thought as the kids argued about what the sign said. In the distance – although she was right next to me – I could hear Annalise’s voice, “No, Jacob. That says your name. Your name is spelled J-A-C-O-B. It does not say Jesus Loves Me... NO it DOESN’T… NO! NO, Jacob, it DOESN’T… Mah-aaaahhhhhmm! Tell Jacob what it says! He doesn’t believe me!”  I could hear it. And I saw Jacob insisting that Yes, that is exactly what it says. But I was focused on something else.

What he had said just before the argument broke out. It was just a sentence or two…

“It says it everywhere, Mommy! Jesus Loves Me. It’s everywhere!”

I was lost in thought again. Am I missing the signs? Do I see it everywhere? My too-wise-two-year-old sees it. Every word he sees reminds him – reminds me – of the love of Jesus.

Today was a family day. Beautiful sunshine, spring warmth. Jacob got to plan our day. We spent it at the park. Along the water. On a trail walk. Together. I loved every minute. And when we got home, we headed back out for a bike ride, wanting to soak up every last bit of warm sun.

But first, on the porch, something caught my eye. I called my boy over and knelt down next to him. “Look, Bud! Look right there! Do you know what that says?”

Jacob looked at where I pointed, to the Easter garden we planted a few weeks back. The cross we made from the sticks we gathered and the tomb from a little peat pot. There was a sign, too, with a verse, but that isn’t where I pointed. I touched the cross and the tomb and looked in my boy’s big brown eyes. “Do you know what that says, Jacob?”

He looked puzzled at first, there were no words to read.

But then he smiled his big broad smile, and he looked up at me proudly. “Yep! I know what it says. It says, Jesus Loves ME!”

“You’re right, Buddy. That’s exactly what it says.”

photo(59)

On this Holy Week, this week we remember the last days of Jesus The Messiah, will you too remember what he says?

He whispers it all around us. In the blessings poured out. In the thoughtfulness of a neighbor. In the surprise snow on the first day of spring, then in the spring sun peaking through the blinds, landing on one boy with two big brown eyes and a broad smile. It’s just right there, but sometimes it’s so easy to miss.

A million daily whispers.

And he shouts it from the past. In a life lived divine. In a sacrifice so great. On a cross and in an empty tomb. He says to you still today, “I love YOU.

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:8

“But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” ~ Psalm 86:15

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everything-all-nothing-none

We often overuse words, don’t we?

Love. The same word that is used to describe my feeling for my husband and kids, my feeling for my God and His adoration of me, is also used to describe my feeling for chocolate. And a hooded sweatshirt on a rainy day. And extra crunchy zesty dill pickles…

…And also standing in an office supply store looking at the bazillion choices of pens, sticky notes, and organizational supplies.

The same could be said for hate. I hate child abuse. I hate lies and what they do to people, families, and most importantly, to souls...

…I also hate folding laundry, approaching a light as it turns red, and looking at my now empty coffee cup (who am I kidding, I wanted to say “bowl of ice cream.”)

I could go on… Crazy. The horrible shooting was crazy. As was the fact that 2 friends of mine that have no connection in my own world actually know each other outside of my own world, or the height to which my li’l mutt can jump from a sitting position, and also the deliciousness of chocolate silk pie. (Am I right, Matt and Tom?) It’s all crazy. 

My purpose is not to make light of how much I love my family, or of the seriousness of child abuse or a terrible tragedy. It is to point out that we use words too broadly. Overuse them and misuse them. To the point they tend to lose their power.

Everything. All. Nothing. None. Always. Never.

These words – and others – keep jumping out at me lately. Such absolutes. Extremest extremes. Completely and fully, without exception. And yet…

Everything’s gone wrong today.” Really? Not one thing has gone right?

“What did you do at school today?” “Nothing.Hmmm…

No one likes me.” I can think of at least a few people who might…

I always get in the longest line at the grocery story.” Ok, maybe this one’s true.

And my kids’ personal favorites, “You always let him (or her) go first (or fill in the blank.)And “I never get to do what I want!” Always and never??? I must be a terrible mother.

Unfortunately, I am just as guilty as they are. Maybe not of so much drama (no comment, Matt), but at least of the overuse/misuse of these words that have the capacity to carry much more weight than they typically do.

But these words, these extremest of extreme words, have been watered down, muddied. And they roll off our tongues as easily as love and hate and that crazy dog. And they land on ears that receive them with the same feebleness in which they were spoken. And the more they are used this way, the more their power is stripped, until eventually, they are incapacitated and carry no force at all.

But somehow, these most-extreme-lacking-all-power-words crawled into some space in my brain where they’ve sat patiently dormant, waiting to unleash their full strength. Lately, that is exactly what they’ve done. Every time (and yes, I mean every time) I’ve heard or read one of these words the past few weeks, the weight of what they carry with them has hit me. Hard.

And I’m learning that I’m a very slow learner.

Is it just me, or have you, too, read these verses a million times (ha! watery word?) and didn’t really consider the true full meaning because – just in our minds – the words have lost the force behind them? 

Read these. Slowly. Consider their weight (although the emphasis is my own.) Because I’m pretty sure God doesn’t intend on us using a watered-down, muddied, lacking-power version of His Powerful Word…

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” ~ Philippians 4:6

This isn’t a new one. It isn’t one that really crept up on me, either. It’s one in which I’ve recognized it’s full power but have had to work on truly believing it and living in it’s full power. Different things. Can I really live not anxious about anything? Can I truly give everything to God? Tough request, for me at least. But I’m workin’ on it…

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Ok, yes. I know I should give thanks in all circumstances. Don’t always like it, but I know all circumstances means all circumstances. And lately, rejoice always has been a constant in-my-face reminder. And always is a lot of the time, you know. Rejoice? That much? Or how about the phrase in the middle? Pray without ceasing? Do you realize just how much that is? Yet, it is the will of God in Christ Jesus for YOU. And that means for me.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 1:3-4

Speaking from personal experience, it can be hard to feel like there is a God of any comfort in the midst of your own trial, let alone a God of all comfort. But now, a little further on the other side, I can see a bit more clearly. And I can see how my own affliction and God’s comfort through it has helped me comfort others with any affliction, even some vastly different than my own. Then that last phrase… I can only hope and pray.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”            ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

All I do – including eating or drinking – should be to the glory of God. So I guess that includes teaching, parenting, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and sharing the road with Canadians. Yes, even standing in the longest line at the grocery store or… finding a place to park at (gasp) Costco.  Do it to the glory of God.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14

Oh dear. Now I’m sunk. All I do, as in every-little-thing I do, should be done in love? As in, the really-truly-Godly-kind-of-love? Not the I-really-love-crunchy-dill-pickles kind of love? Impossible! How can I? After all, I love my kids and husband so incredibly much and can only seem to demonstrate this to them some of the time. Lots of the time, I’m just a jerk. How can I possibly be loving to the mouthy student? Or to a student’s mean and hurtful and maybe even abusive parent? Or when it is 2 hours past my kids’ bedtime and they’re still awake doing everything they possibly can to make me not be loving?

Or when I’ve been hurt by someone and really would just rather write them off? Maybe I could just “write them off” in love? No???

All I do. Without being anxious, but with rejoicing. With thanksgiving, and while praying continually. For the glory of GOD, and all of it done in LOVE. 

It seems like an impossible task.

And then this…

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” ~ 2 Peter 1:3

Read it again. Slowly.

Not impossible. And not if I just work harder, do better. Because on my own strength, it is impossible. But through my knowledge of him, and from his divine power I have everything I need for a godly life.

Everything.

Spring Fever

Lovin’ this sunshine. After a frustrating morning of multiple time-outs and tantrums, laundry and changing bedding, I had enough.

It’s amazing how quickly the sun can melt away 3 very bad attitudes. 

The kids and I enjoyed a nice walk to the library then continued our walk on two quick errands. Then, just one more stop to take a “break”:

photo(53)We just couldn’t wait until we got home to dive into our books. Plus, the scent of coffee and sun shining on the outdoor tables was too enticing to pass up.

On our way home, we gathered rocks and sticks so we could make this:

photo(57)
We decided to add a few finishing touches to improve on our last year’s version.

photo(56)Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews in Latin, “Iēsus Nazarēnus, Rēx Iūdaeōrum”

photo(58)Now we just wait for the grass to sprout.

And like last year, with our leftover peat pots and soil, we planted some herbs, veggies, and flower seeds:

photo(54)Bring on the peppers, zucchini, and cilantro!

Other improvements from last year: All this was done outside. No dirt on the table or dining room floor. No one cried due to mud in their eyes. No tantrums, and no arguing. I’m telling ya, that sun produces miracles.

So when we were finished, we headed inside only long enough to clean up our dirty hands, then back outside for another bike ride. It’s just hard to stay indoors with this kind of weather. Plus, all this walking and riding was a great way to tucker out the kids for an hour early bedtime… (Which means I actually got them to bed at the time I dream of doing so – the time I claim is their actual bedtime, despite the fact that they’ve been in bed at that time exactly never. Except tonight, that is.)

And next on the Spring to-do list: SPRING CLEANING.

Love-with-a-capital-L

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day.

Maybe it’s the commercialism… buying gifts to say “I love you” on a day you’re supposed to just doesn’t say “I love you” as much as it says “I’d like to keep myself out of trouble, so I will follow the rules and get you cheap chocolate and expensive flowers.” I’m not saying that’s what every person thinks when they’re buying their significant other a gift. I just find it much more thoughtful on a day when it’s not expected. Plus, I don’t know about your kids, but MY kids certainly don’t need another excuse to get presents.

Or maybe it’s because I’m a teacher… if you also work with kids, there is no need for me to explain further. If you don’t, let me summarize: 27 (or more) 8- and 9- year olds (or some other age) full of too much sugar and emotion and excited bouncing off the walls about the thought of more. Anxious to read cards and savor Sponge Bob’s pre-printed words of love from the current “love of their life.” Hurt feelings. Hyperactivity. Lack of focus. Excess of drama.

Or maybe, just maybe, I get a little irritated about A day to force love and kindness. When shouldn’t we be full of love and kindness EVERY day? Shouldn’t we take time as often as possible to tell those we care how much we care?

Maybe I’m just cynical. If so, then I married the right man. He’s never been a fan of cupid, either. He shows me in a thousand ways that he loves me, and I don’t need a stuffed bear holding a heart on this day to remember. I am reminded daily.

Our typical Valentine’s Day is pretty much like any other day. Except at dinner, we try to do something special with the kids. Last year, we had all pink and red food. Breakfast for dinner: Ham, pink biscuits with raspberry jam, jell-0 and strawberries. This year, we upped the class on our dinner and had a nice meal out with Matt’s family to celebrate his brother’s birthday. Delicious food with people we love. Much better than cheap chocolates.

Yes, definitely cynical. But on this particular Valentine’s Day, there were a few things that cured me of my bad attitude about this day of love-with-a-lower-case-l, and made me remember to keep it a day of Love-with-a-capital-L. Lower-case-l-love is bought in gift shops teeming with pink and red and hearts and stuffed animals. It is the too much sugar and the costlier-than-usual flowers. It’s spending $4.99 on a card that will be thrown away tomorrow and not buying another card until next year, same time. Upper-case-L-Love is 1 Corinthians 13* Love. It’s the Love we need to be celebrating, and not just this day, but every day. It’s not the $4.99 card, but the message it holds that is demonstrated in action.

So… those things I mentioned. The ones that reminded me to keep this day a day of Love, capital L.a

  1. Seeing my kids walk by the fridge where this hangs: photo(40)And each time they do, they say in a deep voice, as though they were Jesus, “Will YOU be MINE?” Followed by an immediate response from themselves (in their own voices), “YES! I’m YOURS!” Annalise made this in her Bible Class, and the conversation was their homework. She does her homework daily and has taught her brother to do the same. I pray that all their lives they will feel the Love of Jesus. Feel him saying to them, “Will you be mine?” And I pray their answer will remain what it is today. May we always answer to Jesus, “YES! I’m YOURS!”  Love. Capital L.
  2. I came home to this: photo(41)Aww. Sweet. (We’ve been boycotting $4.99 cards – or any card – that will just be thrown out, for years now. It’s the message that counts, right?) So I read the message: photo(39)                             That message. Handwritten. Lived out. 1 Corinthians 13 Love. Love-with-a-capital-L.
  3. You might remember this post where I posted the flowers Matt got me “just because.” I died laughing: flowersWell, you may not remember. But he did. So today, next to my bouquet of flowers and beautiful note, there was another note:photo(38)How I Love that man. With the capital L kind of Love.
  4. A friend posted a quote from her 6-year-old daughter about Valentine’s Day. Maybe it is exactly my point. I had to share. (I haven’t asked her permission yet, so no names included):

“Gammy says that Valentines Day has nothing to do with God but Valentines Day is about love and sharing and God is love and sharing and so I think Valentines Day is everything about God.”

Is it just me, or are 6-year-olds full of wisdom? I think we could learn a lot from them. This girl gets it. It’s all about the Love-with-a-capital-L.

A Godly Love, because God is Love. A Love that is humble, patient, and gentle. A Love that Loves at all times. The kind of Love that serves one another.

And sometimes, it might also give really good chocolate. Just because.

*1 Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

times they are a changin – Part 2

1 year ago, I started this blog. I started it as a way to clear all the thoughts in my head. I started it as a means of documenting (and saving for our future) family memories written out in stories and pictures. I started it as a way to share the laughter of our home that is sometimes just so contagious it can’t help but be spread… and because it would really be a crime to keep it just to ourselves. I started it as a way of redemption. Turning our sorrows and hurt and anger and sin into God’s glory. And I started it as a way to heal my soul and to maybe – just maybe – help heal someone else’s in the process.

1 month ago, I wrote this post: times they are a changin – Part 1* about big changes for each member of the family (except me.) “Part 1” indicating – obviously – there would a Part 2 (my changes) to follow. Part 2 didn’t come. Not right away, at least.

*Quick update on Part 1: Jacob is fully potty trained. Done. With. Diapers. And still seriously cute. Annalise’s tooth fell out and the new one has started to scoot forward into place. (Phew.) She, too, is still seriously cute. Izzy’s tooth-and-other-parts-removal was a success, and she is now a much more tolerable mutt. Most of the time. And Matt’s business changes continue. Awesome new website. Check it out!… Later. First finish reading.

Sometimes, there are thoughts in my head that grow and fester and have to be written down before they disappear. Or so I can get some sleep. Other times, they need to stay. Marinate a while. To develop fully, or at least just develop more. The Part 2 post was one of the latter.

My thoughts about the heart changes I referenced in “Part 1” were reflections on New Year’s thoughts. You know the story: End of year comes. I avoid making resolutions that I know will last for maybe a week and promises to myself that I will break in as short of a time. So instead, I decide to spend time reflecting on the past year.

I don’t know about you, but the second I begin reflecting on the past year – or really, the past anything – I instantly focus on all the things I didn’t do. All the ways I wasn’t a good friend, wife, mother, daughter, sister, co-worker, teacher. All the opportunities I didn’t take, the weight I didn’t lose (or lost and gained) and all the times I didn’t measure up. And yes, I also think about the things I did do. I did lose my patience with the kids too many times. I did snap at them and my husband. I did waste time in countless ways. (Um, hello, Facebook.) I did run late. Nearly. every. day. I did fail in a million other ways.

So reflecting on the past year – or past anything – isn’t always such a great idea for me. I’d say it actually kind of sucks. It tends to put me in a funk. The longer the period of time I’m reflecting on (and beating myself up over), the greater and longer-lasting the funk. This particular funk lasted about 3 days. For 3 straight days, I felt sorry for myself. I felt useless. Forgettable. Insignificant. In some ways, helpless. And in every way, a failure. Anxious and fearful of more failures to come.

During this 3-day-pity-party I devoted all my time and energy into… doing puzzles. Matt thought I was just enjoying the end of my Christmas vacation by relaxing. In actuality, I was trying to turn my brain away from having to think about anything except I need a piece with horizontal white stripes that has 3 outies and one innie.*

*Side-note here: I’m a puzzle pro. Seriously. Two 500 piecers and one 1000 piecer complete in three days… Um, yeah, it was a serious funk. And while not much else got done around here, I’m pretty sure the kids were fed. And I showered almost all of those 3 days.

But then, at the end of my 3-days, I had a moment of clarity. A thought that was a break in the clouds: “As long as they remember seeing Jesus.”

In that one moment, the clouds lifted and the truths I know came flooding into my mind. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” No guilt for things done or not done. “I am significant, accepted, and secure in Christ.” No more pity-parties about being insignificant and forgettable. “I am God’s child, and I am complete in Christ.” No more feeling like a failure. In Him I am complete, and He loves me completely.

And then, the thought again. “As long as they remember seeing Jesus.” My job. This is my job. However successful the world sees me, whatever my accomplishments, what I do (or don’t do) matters little if while I’m doing it (or not doing it) I’m not reflecting HIM. How people remember ME is insignificant. How they remember HIM is of eternal significance. “As long as they remember seeing Jesus. I WANT MY LIFE TO COUNT.”

For the first time in years, I made a New-Year’s resolution. Let them see Jesus. The heart-changes were beginning, but the words to write not-yet formed.

The following Sunday, our pastor shared a message that was intended just for me. I’m certain of it…

Sermon title “A Cause Worth Living For.”

Sermon point number 1: The Gospel magnifies the heart of God. In my written notes, a quote from the sermon: “We have come to know the Heart of God. And we owe it to those who don’t yet know to tell them.” Again I think, let them see Jesus. How will they know of His goodness, His grace, His mercy, His unending love if they don’t see Jesus. Oh, if they only knew!

There were a couple other points, but my sermon notes page is mostly full of chicken-scratched-heart-changing-thoughts-turned-words-now-formed:

  • When I am anxious and fearful – even of my future failures – I rob God of the trust He is due.
  • LET THEM SEE JESUS. What does it matter about me? AS LONG AS THEY SEE JESUS. HIS GRACE.
  • I WANT MY LIFE TO COUNT.
  • The Holy Spirit wants to invade our lives my life with His power. JUST LET HIM.

And our church’s scripture memory verse for the month, handed out that day: But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. ~ Acts 20:24 ESV

Point taken. Message received. My job: Let them see Jesus.

But who? Who is them? For the next few weeks, I made a mental list of all the major “thems” in that sentence. My kids. My husband. Serve them. Love them. Show them patience and grace. Be intentional with the kids – why we’re doing what we do. My students. I cannot speak of God’s love, but I can show them. Show them more love and grace than they’ve ever known. Neighbors. Co-workers. Friends. Grocery clerks. 

In my mind, I’ve screamed, “But it’s not enough. My students – I can’t tell them. My husband and kids – they already know. There are too many others. Too many that don’t know. I’m not doing enough.”

Yes, there are others. But for now, I am here. I am a mom of two littles. I am a teacher of 27 slightly biggers. I am a wife. I don’t have a whole lot of time to reach a whole lot more. This is where God has me right now.

My job: Let them see Jesus. My kids. My husband. My students. And any others I may be blessed to encounter. Show them Jesus.

This is where I settled my thoughts just 2 weeks ago.

And a few days later, a friend pointed out that my blog often brought a message of hope. YES! A means to reach more. I got excited, inspired! I post. People read. Lots more than I ever thought would. And even if my parents are half of the clicks on this blog, there are still many, many more than I imagined. I don’t even know some of you! Yet, you read. Maybe God has brought you here! Maybe here you will see a bit of the love and grace and mercy of an incredible God who loves YOU so much more than you could imagine!

My thoughts further settled here. Just a week and a half ago…

But then a few days later, something happened. Something happened that made me so fearful, I took it all down. I hid all the love and joy and stories of God’s grace, and I wept and locked all the doors and closed all the blinds and held my kids tight and shook-with-anger-but-mostly-with-fear. And I decided I would not post again. It was not worth it.

Sisters called and loved. Family came and prayed. Friends told me they understood, but they’d miss reading of the laughter and the joy, and of God’s love.

And while I still shook-with-anger-but-mostly-with-fear, something else happened. Two horrible somethings that left me trembling. Left me wanting to hide. Left me hating this world and many of the people in it.

And then today my husband, my husband who shook-with-fear-but-mostly-with-anger right beside me, reminded me that even those who caused me to fear need to see the love of God. Even they are God’s children. Yes, He loves even them. And our children, they are His children, too. And just as our dear family that came to pray reminded us, HE is also THEIR God.

And our God is sovereign.

More truths flooded my heart. Yes, flooded. I battle fear often. I’ve read these truths a time or two-hundred. They come to mind more quickly now: (see full list below, emphasis my own)

I have NOT been given a spirit of FEAR, but of power, and of love, and of a sound-mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7

…I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me… ~ Psalm 23:4

The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1

Thoughts whirling in my head: Let them see Jesus. Do not be afraid.

And then my husband – who I’m fairly certain based on lots of circumstantial evidence cannot read the thoughts in my head – said to me, “You don’t know who might see Jesus when they read.”

times they are a changin’: Part 2…  I have a new job: Let them see Jesus.

And so, with still-very-shaky-legs I stand on the firm foundation of Christ and use this space, what He has provided me – at least for the moment – to magnify His heart. Some of you already know of His great love for you. Some of you don’t. Either way, I hope you keep reading.

And I pray you see Jesus.

*More Biblical truths about fear that I am clinging to:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. ~ Deuteronomy 31:6

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? ~ Psalm 56:3-4

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ~ Isaiah 41:10

No weapon formed against us will prosper, No evil formed against us shall stand. ~ Isaiah 54:17

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

And to two of you – you know who you are – I am doing what you said. I am bathing in Psalm 91. You are such a gift to us.