Between

What do you do in between?  When the hardest thing has happened, when the storm has passed and you look out and survey the damage, and oh it’s worse than you could have imagined?  A cross, and nails, and blood poured from a multitude of wounds, blood that was shed for YOU, shed for me, shed for all the billions of people who will ever walk this Earth.

What do you do when you’ve seen your hope die right in front of you?  When you can’t see the light of day for the black despair that surrounds you?

It’s the day before Easter Sunday and we can reflect and imagine what it might have been like for those first Believers.  When they had seen Jesus – the One Who claimed to be the Son of God – crucified on a cross between two thieves like a common criminal.  He told them He would rise again in three days, and we can rest easy today because we know He did exactly what He said He would do, but those Believers then couldn’t know that for sure.  Not yet. They were between.

Between the misery and the miracle.

Between the despair and the delight.

Between the mourning and the morning.

Between the graveclothes and the empty tomb.

Between the cross and the resurrection.

I wonder what the disciples said to each other in the days between Christ’s death and His resurrection.  Did they reassure each other?  Were they too stunned and grief-stricken to say much of anything?  They’d seen Him do miracles, but this?  Rising from this death – could that beyond the capability of even this man who claimed to be the Messiah?  According to John’s account of the first Easter, they hadn’t gone far because at least some of them were close enough for Mary to alert them that His body was missing from the tomb.

It’s black when your hope dies.  But don’t let your soul get mired down in the despair.  It truly IS darkest just before the dawn.

It may look hopeless right now.

But hang on…

Sunday is coming.

What man has destroyed, or attempted to destroy, God is going to raise from the dead.

Hallelujah!  He is risen!

deadalive

(Photo by Beliefnet)

Advertisements

Broken

It’s Five Minute Friday!  Want to play?  Visit www.lisajobaker.com and play along!

She was just a girl, a teenager.  Tears streamed down her face and her shoulders shook with the force of her sobbing.  She was well and truly wrecked, as the full weight of her sin and what He did on the cross for her took hold for the very first time.  She’d heard about Jesus all her life but only recently had she taken His sacrifice personally, chosen to take His yoke and follow Him.  As the elements of communion passed from hand to hand down the aisle, she heard the words echoing in her mind, “This is My body, broken for you…”  “This is my blood, shed for the redemption of sins…”

It was certainly not the last time this girl would be broken.  There would be small cracks and huge shattering breaks to follow, and each time she would find herself huddled in a sodden heap at the foot of the only One with the power to heal her brokenness. 

There’s a quote attributed to Ernest Hemingway that says the world will break everyone but some will become stronger in the broken places.  I believe that’s true.  I know it’s true about the girl in the beginning of this post.  We all have scars from our healing – some hidden, some worn proudly for all to see – but they are shining reminders of how Christ has put all our broken pieces back together.

(Thanks for this prompt, for it sent me back in time 30 years to a time right around Easter, and reminded me where I came from.  What a great time of year to relive my first Lord’s Supper!)

Remember

It’s Five Minute Friday!  Want to play along?  Visit www.lisajobaker.com and join our  happy band of writers!

They never seem to grow tired of hearing the stories.  Their baby minds were too young to store up the memories and so as their Mama, I become the repository for the remembrances of their babyhood.  So I remember for them how small they were, how they smelled, how they slept (or didn’t, in the case of my middle child), but most of all, how completely welcomed and wanted they each were.  Those are happy memories and a joy to recount over and over.

But I remember the hard times too, the memories that are too painful to revisit except in quiet moments spent alone.  I pull them out one by one, blow the dust off, and see each thing differently now that it’s in my past.  A childhood spent separate from my father (and the knowledge that my Father in Heaven is never far away).  The hurt inflicted by other children with their razor-sharp words (and realizing that my worth comes from the value God places on me, not man’s opinion of me).  The exquisite pain that comes when a husband walks away from his family (learning to rely on God and not my own strength).   Rejection.  Infertility.  Anger.  Helplessness.  There is value in these memories too, because everything works together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.

So I remember it all, and I write it down for the days that my memory might begin to fail me.  Because in remembering both the good and the bad,  we are reminded that our unique blend of memories makes us who we are and God works them ALL together for good.

Busy

Oh those days!  Around here we call them the “wild days”, when the stars align and the planets do whatever it is they do, and the result is that our family gets pulled in 20 directions at once.  This is one of the things I believe I’m supposed to address with my One Word for 2013:  Less.

So here’s the schedule for my most recent wild day:

1)  Eye appointment for me at 9:00 (I knew my eyes would be dilated so I took the day off work, which probably had some impact on the rest of the craziness).

2)  While at the eye appointment, I went online on my phone at 10:00 while my eyes were dilated in an attempt to score tickets to an upcoming concert.  Epic fail!  One contributing factor was my inability to hold the phone at the optimum distance in order to actually SEE what was on that teeny tiny screen.  If you’ve ever had your eyes dilated you know that anything closer than three feet is an unidentifiable blur.

3)  From there I went to meet my friend in the Walmart parking lot at 11:30.  While waiting I made a valiant attempt to apply my makeup, which is extremely difficult when your eyes cannot focus and the sunlight makes you want to squint, hiss, and throw a black cape across your face a la Count Dracula.

4)  My very brave friend climbed into the car with me and I drove us to our luncheon, where we got to meet one of our very favorite authors (Don’t panic.  I could see to drive just fine.  I just couldn’t see the instrument panel).  Yay!  It was loads of fun and the food was good too.  I couldn’t see it but it at least tasted wonderful.

5)  Back to the Walmart parking lot, and this time I went inside and picked up a few things, despite my not-so-secret preference for the opulence of Tarjay and disdain for all things WallyWorld.

6)  I went home just long enough to unload the groceries, put away anything that needed refrigeration, and jump back in the car to pick up daughter Q at school play practice.

7)  Armed with a snack, a drink, and her gymnastics leotard, I arrived at the school, retrieved my child and took off for the gym.

8)  I actually went inside and sat down for a little while to watch her practice and while there, answered a call from daughter K, who arrived home from an after school activity and let herself inside the house (this was planned).

9)  I did a little shopping and went back to the gym to await the end of practice, then drove daughter Q home.  I greeted my husband and K, grabbed a couple of things, and

10)  I went out the door to my book club meeting, which was fabulously fun and so worth the effort to get to.

Yes, it sounds stressful and it was.  Thankfully these days don’t happen often, maybe 3-4 times in a year when choices and obligations collide, but even 3-4 times is too many.  Every activity I listed was a worthwhile one and unfortunately all of them happened to be time-specific (except the shopping part, and we all know there’s never a good time for a WalMart shopping trip because they’re always busy.  Even at midnight you’ll see entire families in there pushing loaded shopping carts with fully alert toddlers riding in front.  But that’s another blog post.)  But does cramming a week’s worth of activity into 24 short hours accomplish anything constructive?  And where was God in all that chaos?

So how does the word “less” apply to our schedule?  Well, I can be more choosy about the activities we take part in and when it’s in my control I can try to avoid overscheduling.  More to the point, I can use my “No” more often.  I’ve always been the one who wants to take a bite out of life, to live out loud, to cram as much living into my years as possible, but when days like the one I described happen?  I’m not taking a bite out of life as much as I’m choking myself on it.  I need a lifestyle Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the excess, and I’m going to have to be the one to do it for myself.  This year I’m going to pay more attention to the things that take up my family’s time and evaluate them on the basis of value added versus energy expended.  I think that’s part of good stewardship.

Rest

Hooking up with my favorite word (and Word) – loving crowd at http://www.lisajobaker.com for Five Minute Friday.  Want to play along?  Click on the link above and join us!

START

Image

Mamas don’t get to rest.  Somehow that little detail gets overlooked in the flurry of gifts at the baby shower and the excitement of sharing in the creation of new life.  But as mamas-to-be near the end of their pregnancies, we start to get a glimpse of things to come when it gets hard to sleep at night.

Newborn babies supposedly sleep for the majority of the day, but none of mine ever did.  And the adage about “sleeping when the baby sleeps”?  Not an option for a go-getter like me. 

And while the kids are growing there is a myriad of things to be done, from keeping the house livable to assisting with homework to worrying about them whenever they are out of your sight.  Rest?  That was something you did before you had children!

And yet we are told – commanded – to do it by our own Father, in the Ten Commandments.  There is reference after reference in the Bible where God’s people are commanded to rest on the Sabbath and to keep it holy.

And then there is the “rest” that means “remainder”.  That, too, is something Mamas lack.  When we’re in the thick of childraising, there is nothing of us left over.  We’re totally engulfed in this business of loving our blessings into adulthood.

But then the days come when we are tapped out, we’ve reached the limits of our human strength, we just don’t have anything left to give…. and rest comes without our even seeking it.  When we fall down at His feet in surrender and admit that we CAN’T.  We can’t do one more thing, fight one more battle over bedtime, wipe one more snotty nose, and He reminds us once again to be still and rest in the knowledge that HE is God, and we are not.  I’ve been there and although I struggle with admitting that I can’t do it all, the sweet release of surrendering to the One who can is powerful. 

STOP

Home

It’s Five Minute Friday!  Want to play?  Go here:  www.lisajobaker.com.

My baby girl could not have been less excited.  After 18 hours on an airplane, she just wanted to be free of the confines of my arms and the cramped airline seating.  She was totally unaware of what a momentous occasion this was. 

We filed off the airplane in Chicago and headed toward the line at Immigration, clutching our envelope full of official documents in sweaty hands.  The worker at the desk took our papers and showed us to a bench area where we could wait while they reviewed our paperwork.  We had been prepared for this and anticipated it, but it was still nerve-wracking.  Pacing, rocking the baby, staring at the walls, we did whatever we could to pass the time.  We were so jet-lagged we hardly knew what time of day it was.  After what seemed an interminable time, the official came back out and solemnly addressed our 9 month old daughter, taking her tiny hand in his.  Finally he smiled:  “Congratulations!  You are now a United States citizen.” 

With that, our little girl was one step closer to home.

Ordinary

Ordinary.  Bleh.  Bland, like the Cream of Wheat I just had for breakfast (Lots of iron!  Good for you!).  But just scratch the surface and you’ll see that ordinary is anything but.

There I am, going through the motions of my day when there’s magic happening right before my eyes.   The alarm goes off, and my eyes open blearily to see the sun peeking through the blinds.  I can SEE!  The sun is coming up!  I have a safe home and a comfortable bed to wake up in, and a loving husband to wake up beside.  I’m showered in blessings and I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet.  How many people in the world don’t have those basic things in their ordinary days?

I get myself ready for work (my body functions, at least fairly well) and help my children get ready for school (I have children to help, something I despaired of having during my years in the infertility doldrums).  I drive them to school (I have a car, we got there safely), and I get to tell them I love them and see their sweet smiles as I drive away to leave them at a school where I know the staff well and trust them with my innocent babes.  I drive on to work (I got there safely, I have a job I enjoy, working with people I like) and get on with my “ordinary” day. 

There is power hiding within our ordinary days.  Our God is there with us and He is anything but ordinary.