Inspirational Musings

Every. Second. Worth. It.

That quaking awakening. Everything in the room is blurry. My brain is desperately trying to pinpoint my location. My heart feels like it is going to beat out of chest. Slowly I recall my everyday involvement in a life that I have somehow ceased to remember for only the faintest of a second.

Then the cry. The original reason for the abrupt jerk back into reality. The sound that motivates a mother like nothing else ever will. I run-walk across the wood floor, careful not to disturb any other members of the house. As I reach the source, sleep has since overtaken.

I stare. Watching him breathe in deeply. A huge smile spreads as I take in this unplanned moment in time. I linger a little longer than I should and throw a thank you up the King. Thank you for allowing me to be his mom. Thank you for sharing such a precious gift with me.

So many quaking awakenings. Precious sleep interrupted by a cry or a yell. Many trips across that creaky, wooden floor. Nights of lingering glances. Midnights and mornings spent listening, watching, and praying. A heart completely full. A heart completely thankful. A wholly, satisfied, tired mother.

But it is all worth it. Every. Second. Worth. It.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

Inspirational Musings

“Beeeeg Pooool”

thX0IPFAXHDaniel, my 21 month old son, went swimming yesterday in a “beeeeg pooool” for the first time this summer. The child is fearless. He climbed up the steps, ran over to where I was standing, held his finger up 3 times counting, “One, one, one, DOE!” Then he jumped whether I was ready or not. Even though he had on a flotation-style bathing suit and a ring, he still scared me to death every time he jumped in.

I guess because I have a somewhat fearful personality, his boldness presents quite the new learning curve. He is not a “look before you leap” kind of kid; he’s an act now and think about the consequences later personality type. I have always envied people like that. By the time I get the courage to do something, I have already missed it because I spend all of my time overthinking it.

As I watched this fearless child repetitively scare the ever-living-hooey out of me yesterday, I realized that he is confident because he wholeheartedly trusts me. He knows Mama is going to catch him when he jumps. He doesn’t worry, overthink, doubt, or fear; he just trusts and he jumps.

Wouldn’t life be so much easier in our walk with Christ if we would just trust and jump? If we would just trust that Jesus is our security and jump when he prompts our hearts, can you imagine how much simpler life would be? What if starting today, we all just ran up to the side of God’s “beeeeg pooool” of life and started jumping into his arms and trusting that he would catch and guide us where we should go? We will never know what it’s like until we give it a try!

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.”       Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG



Inspirational Musings

Hiding in My Hoodie

I was in a 5th grade classroom this week and overheard two girls talking, “Why you wearing that hoodie anyway? It ain’t cold. You just hidin’.”

The weight of her words hit me hard.  Don’t we do the same thing?

We hide our wrinkled, imperfect faces with concealer and powder. We cover our gray roots with color from a bottle. We wear sunglasses to hide the heavy bags under our weary eyes. We close our mouths in pictures, ashamed of our crooked smiles.

We wear long coats to cover the panty lines and baggier pants to hide our figures. We stretch our t-shirts so they won’t hug too close or we wear clothes that look bigger so no one will see our bones. We hide our hair under a hat on a bad hair day and we wear closed toe shoes to cover our less than perfect feet.

But the hiding doesn’t stop with our appearance; no, that’s just the beginning. See, we hide in a crowded room by disappearing. We hide our broken hearts by putting on our “life of the party” hat. We hide ourselves in our jobs so we don’t have to face the real us. We busy ourselves in the lives of our children and live through them but never live for us.

We mask our pain with the bitter lies of insecurity and we believe that we will never be enough. We put on our happy face in public when just below the surface is a flood of emotions that we are too embarrassed to release. We hide in shame for fear of rejection from our friends and families. We hide in our addiction to food, drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography, exercise and excess. We run away from life because it just seems to be too hard.

All that we want to do is put on that hoodie and hide from thZ01IVQC8the world. We think it’s safe in there. We don’t have to answer to anyone. We don’t have to try to fit in because nobody sees us. We can keep our lies, secrets, shame, fears, rejection, and heartache bottled up in that safe hoodie.

But when we wear that hoodie, we are alone. We are trapped with all of the things that we don’t want anyone else to know about us. We begin to believe the lies that no one will ever love or want us if they really knew us. We play the tape over and over again that convinces us that there is no hope. We believe that God messed up when he created us and that if he cared he would just take away all of the pain. We pull away instead of reaching out. We blame instead of seeking answers. We use our words to cut instead of build up. We trust our emotions instead of trusting in God. We hide. And when we hide, we die.

We have to stop believing the lies. We have to stop playing those old tapes over and over again. We have to remind ourselves that we are valuable, loved, and cared for by a mighty God who sent his only Son to die just for us. We have to realize that we are not the only people who are hurting in this world and sometimes when we get the courage to say we are hurting, other “hoodie hiders” are free to share, too. God created us in his image, the image of Light, and he created us to live life in communion with others.  1 John 1:5-7 says, “This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there’s not a trace of darkness in him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we’re obviously lying through our teeth – we’re not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purges all our sin.” We can’t hide and be in the Light at the same time. But look at the last verse, “we also experience a shared life with one another,” and we can’t do that with our hoodies on!

So when life hits hard and all you want to do is hide- take off your hoodie. When insecurity is screaming lies that you feel are true and it’s hard to even believe an ounce of truth- take off your hoodie. And when you’re ashamed, afraid or beating yourself up for past mistakes- take off your hoodie!

Because after all, “It ain’t cold. You just hidin’.”

Inspirational Musings

My Thoughts on The Shack

There has been quite the buzz in the Christian community about The Shack coming to theaters. I read the book many years ago and was deeply moved by this fictional tale of a radical God causing radical change in a man’s life. I have read the articles and opinions on both sides of the argument on whether to go see this movie or read the book.

When I originally read this book, I was challenged to view God more personally and not to keep Him in a box. I loved the fact that the author presented God in a non-traditional way. I understood fully that this was a fictional account and that the author’s theology as presented in the book WAS NOT THE BIBLE, but I also knew that God used this book to penetrate some hard areas in my own hard heart. I didn’t have the urge to run to The Shack for more answers, but I felt like the The Shack pointed me back to a place of depth and repentance and I longed to dig deeper with God through reading His Word and spending time with Him. The book opened my eyes to the fact that I limit God, that I make judgments about Him, and that I don’t really take the time to know Him.

Now, many years, two kids, and a job change later, I saw the movie and got to reenter the world of The Shack from the point of view of a mother. I left with so much. I want to love and love big while I have the chance. I want to strive to dig deep in my heart to get all of my hurts and pain out in the open so that I don’t create a chasm between my family, friends and most importantly, my God. I want to lead others to a place of repentance and deeper understanding of the hard questions in life like, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” I was so challenged by the scene where Wisdom allowed Mack, the main character, to act as judge and make a choice as to which one of his children he would choose to send to heaven and which one to hell. He finally said he could not choose, so please let him take their place. It’s like the light came on and he realized the great love the Father had by sending Jesus. I saw a father, deeply hurt by the loss of a child, come to a place of restoration and healing and it makes me want to remember to run to God when the pain gets too great.

The crazy thing is, I didn’t leave feeling like my theology was challenged or that this movie was trying to change my beliefs. I left wanting to be a better person. I left overwhelmed with God-sized questions and emotions. I left with a list of people that I want to encourage to go and see this movie because they are trapped by their own pain.

I look at all of the movies out there that I could spend money on right now and none of them will ever leave me with the desire to seek Jesus with my whole heart the way this one did. So, maybe these thoughts and opinions stepped on your toes or cause you to disagree. I’m okay with that. Maybe you feel the need to comment and try to spark a debate. I probably won’t respond.
Just know three things.  First, if you are a new believer, make sure to discuss any new concepts from the movie with a mature believer in Christ. Second, this is a movie, not the authoritative Word of God. Third, God can use whatever he chooses to reach people and He can absolutely use The Shack.
Inspirational Musings

Lasagna Slinger

My mom cooked a store-bought lasagna for lunch Sunday (if you know my mom, this a very rare occasion). Everyone had already taken a seat as mom started walking the piping hot pasta to the table. About three feet away, the container began to bend. Mom, realizing what was happening, shifted and tried to catch it without burning herself, but it was too late; the lasagna splattered upside down on the floor.

Mom froze. She had just ruined lunch (at least in her mind). What was she going to feed her family? I could see the look of total devastation falling across her face.

Well, as soon as mom froze, David and I jumped into reaction mode. “We got this!”  he exclaimed. I quickly grabbed a thin, flexible cutting board and carefully slid it under the upside down lasagna as David held the pan in place. Together we lifted it up off the floor and set it, still upside down, on a cookie sheet and gently removed the upside down bottom pan from the lasagna. Dinner was saved!

Mom, slowly moving from her frozen state back into the new reality of a salvaged lunch, was just amazed that we even thought to do that. Lunch was great. It didn’t look as pretty as before, but it still served its purpose and it still tasted pretty good (we just ate the layers that had been farthest from the floor).

As we were eating I couldn’t help but think about how our lives are a lot like this lasagna. Sometimes we start to bend when life gets too hot and before we know it, we are splattered face down on the floor. Sometimes, we get frozen in place and can’t figure out what to do next. Thankfully, though, that’s when God swoops in and says, “I got this!” He slides His strong arms underneath us and carefully plops us back into life. The glorious thing is that no matter what shape we are in, we are still His. He can still use us and we can still serve a purpose. Sometimes we aren’t real pretty and we are a falling apart mess, but God can still use us just like we are, mess and all!

After lunch I walked up to mom and said, “You can sure sling a mean lasagna.” We both chuckled and talked about how fortunate we were to figure out a way to save lunch.  As I am typing this, I can’t help but be thankful that when I’m a lasagna slinger, Jesus swoops in and is the ultimate Lasagna Saver! He takes our mess and makes us useful for his kingdom’s purpose!

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.Now we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this surpassingly great power is from God and not from us. We are pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9