Faith & Devotionals

Well, the title might be a little lofty, but follow me anyway.

I have been dealing with some stuff. And we all deal with some stuff. Yet lately my stuff seems so heavy and prevalent that it’s hard for me to even see the world around me. And I have become a hermit. Girls, sometimes just dealing with life is just way too flipping hard.

It’s easy to do (becoming a hermit, that is). I mean, I don’t really like being around people much at times. Sometimes, I don’t like people much at all. I hate small talk. I despise insincerity, I can be way too intense, and I usually feel like an alien in a room of people who look just like me.

Stuff with the kids, legal junk, business stress, work drama, bad days, weight gain, marriage conflict, financial strain, anxiety, depression, blah-blah-blah. Toss in limited time to relax or exercise, a nacho addiction, and the lurking worry that you might be drinking too often, and then you’re like,

“Hey world, here I am: a doughy, middle aged, stressed out mom, who cusses too much, maybe drinks too much,  who is socially awkward, overly critical, with alarmingly limited conflict resolution skills and a constant feeling of being stretched too thin. Who wants to hug the cactus?”

Why would I leave the house, if I am getting on my own nerves?

So I have bammed myself in, stopped writing, taken to living off of yogurt and a healthy/not-so-healthy fend for yourself mantra, and become a spectator of the world around me.

And now I am peeling back the layers of heartache, and months of good intentions, and trying to reintegrate into a world that sometimes feels like a revolving doors with giant cheese grater panels in place of the glass.

And it’s weird.

But I made myself do it. At least a little. And I lived.

Last week I invited a friend to get pedicures. Then I drove the next day to see a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 or so years. I went to church two days after that, and then later that day, went to a book club with more than a dozen women, some of them strangers, but none of them my best friend, or my bourbon, or my cozy couch blanket. And today, I had a newer friend over, and made her lunch and held her baby and just talked. And it felt right for the first time in a long time. I was tired, and needed a nap after, but it was still good.

I could use the “peeling off the band-aid” analogy but that’s not accurate. I don’t have a wound. I am a wound. I am a downright mess some days, but I still have love and need love, so I have to leave the house, or open my doors and let others in, at least sometimes.

Have your ever been to the “petting” area of an aquarium and petted little sharks or sting-rays? Once when I was there, a worker said that the sting-rays like to rub up against people to keep their skin smooth. While I don’t have any proof that she knew what she was talking about, I can relate to this image: I have smoother edges when I rub elbows with other humans, and months of funk start to rub off when I finally emerge from the hidden sands in the safe and shallow end of the ocean.

People need people. Even grumpy, prickly, critical, anti-social, stressed out people. I also needed the months of hiding. Heck, it’s kind of been years. But for everything there is a season, and spring is finally coming. Did anyone automatically think of this though, lol?

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Winter is over and it’s feeling kind of good to move around again and plan a little life, to hug old friends, to hear new opinions, make new friends and even hold babies. I won’t lie and say it was all easy or pretend that I never felt a little out of place, but coming out of hiding will do that. The light is bright, but it’s so good for the soul.

If you are in a season of rest, just relish in it. But if your rest is becoming an addiction, a spot too comfortable and dark, maybe stick a pinky toe out from under your Cheeto covered blanket, climb out of your show hole, pop on some chap-stick, throw on some clothes with buttons and go rub some elbows, accept some hugs, or bounce a baby on your knee.

The healing is good out here. I’ll leave the light on for ya’.

Dear Hubby,

Sorry this is a few days late. This has been a janky week. Now that we got the house in order and tackled that linen closet we have been talking about for two years, I can write you a little anniversary letter:

Every year of life, and of marriage, seems jam packed. But it also seems completely mundane and the same in a way. Not in a bad way, but the busyness of life can make it feel like a blur.

And if we aren’t careful to take note of what we have been through together, we might not realize how really strong we are. Not just because we work really hard at our marriage, but because we vowed to let God be the center of it. A cord of three strands cannot be broken.

So I figured I’d take a moment to reflect on the last year and what we have conquered together.

  1. Business-In it’s very own category for its obvious stress involved, we have closed a business, opened a business and grew a home-based business, while pretty gracefully handling people in and out of our home several times a day. Phew. That is no easy way to live! But we did it.
  2. We traveled quite a bit-In the middle of being slammed with our work, we took time to travel. We went on a romantic getaway to Cancun, took the boys to DC for a real educational experience, went an a cruise through the Caribbean with friends, went on a family trip with the Knudsons to Atlanta (where Kaden drank a silo of Coke products), and took the entire family (including Ricky Bobby) across country, climbing Pikes Peak (in a car, lol), visiting the Smokies, and going to our first White Sox game. And it was all because of how hard we (especially YOU) work and how we have been blessed.
  3. We worked out-We might not be on the cover of fitness mags, but we have carved out time to be healthy, even food prepping when we were really on top of things. Working out with you is fun, but it also gets me excited about growing old with you. The more years I have with you, the better.
  4. We briefly considered adoption-Infertility really stinks. And anniversaries are a chafing reminder of many, many losses. But briefly this year, we considered adoption, as we were approached to consider it for a mom with a last minute need. We talked with her, prayed about it, tried to imagine how to make space for a child in one short week, and then the mom decided to keep the baby. While this was a brief interlude of adoption struggles, we handled it, and allowed it to help us focus on what we really want in terms of growing our family.
  5. We parented-Every year, we hustlin’. Jackson got his license and we now spend 13% of our day tracking him on multiple phone apps. Kaden outgrew Jackson and entered the 5th dimension of puberty. We taught them new things, buckled down in new ways, and let go when it was right. We have prayed, argued and wrestled with many a decision, but we did our best to do it as a team.
  6. We prayed-We did like 21 days of a 30 day marriage prayer devotional. Well, like I said, we ain’t perfect. But we haven’t thrown the books away, and regardless of the devotional, we still turn to God for answers and nothing makes me feel more cherished than when you pray for me, for our marriage, for my work, for our children, and even for all of our friends. I love you so much for that, and I always will.
  7. We got help-We went to counseling, a lot, shopping around to find the right fit for us, never using time or money as excuses to skip when both of us would really prefer to sweep stuff under the rug and just grab a bourbon. When people say “marriage is hard” this is what is should mean: putting in the dang work to truly try to understand our spouse’s feelings and needs and tend to them, NOT just saying, “Well this is hard….next.” And thanks for letting me share a little of our struggles with the world so we can help make getting help normal and not a sign of weakness. Your commitment to God and our marriage is the strongest thing about you. Thank you!

You already know I love you but it takes more than love to last. It takes commitment, work and one hell of a sense of humor. Thanks for laughing at the crappy stuff with me, however inappropriately, and thanks for occasionally throwing chocolate and Mexican food at the problems. It’s actually a solid practice endorsed by world renowned therapists (it’s not). But seriously you’re the best.

And in the deep and sentimental words of Tim McGraw (kind of), I like you, I love you, I wants some more of you.

See you at the hizzy later,

I’ll be the one with the goofy grin 🙂

 

 

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Today I shoveled up the body of a dead bird into the tines of a pitchfork and warily carried his body to the woods. And by warily I mean I looked the other direction while walking with his little body until I realized he had fallen off and I had to go back for him. Dead animals are cringe worthy.

 

I never planned to do that.

 

Well of course you didn’t plan that. How could you? –You might say.

 

Oh my dear, my plans were very, very different.

 

We moved into a country home on 17 acres over four years ago. I was entranced by the long tree lined driveway. I was welcomed by a porch the length of the house anchored by a porch swing. I was swayed by tomato plants, real hardwood floors that seemed to tell a story, and a sewing room with a future.

 

No, I don’t sew, or quilt or even needlepoint. This sunlit narrow room was supposed to house a crib, a glider, and a baby named something quaint, feminine and turn of the century.

 

But it doesn’t.

 

And I am a girl who is used to getting her way. I am not saying that I was born with a silver spoon – far from it. I am not saying I deserve more than anyone else – I don’t. I am not even saying that I am lucky – I am not.

 

I am just a girl that always seemed to know what was going to happen next. I could predict the future, or so it seemed. I didn’t have a crystal ball, but I had hellagood hunches, and they were almost always right.

 

Yet here I stand, on that novella hardwood, looking around at my home, my life, and I can see that my hunches can no longer be trusted. My fortune telling days are over.

 

So back to the bird.

 

I found him today. Deep black feathers with a purple hue. An iridescent crown the color of the ocean at night. Curved black beak. And completely lifeless.

 

And normally I would have left him to rest in peace undisturbed.

 

But now it is my job to escort him elsewhere. I am a dog sitter and I can’t have my clients eating yardkill and sending them home with a belly full of feathers or some weird disease. And as I did my “job” I thought, “How did I get here?”

 

Do you ever wonder that? How in the world did I end up here?

 

I was on a road that was broad and clear. And then I took a fork in the road, followed by a detour, complicated by a foggy sense of navigation. And somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the yonder, I took a path that led me here. And there is no way in a million guesses I would have ever guessed this life.

 

But it is mine.

 

I planned for a submissive and easy first child, but instead have a headstrong leader in the making.

 

I planned for a super easy laid back second child and have learned to navigate autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and even angry outbursts in my youngest son.

 

I said till death do us part, and then walked away.

 

I am full of caution, yet married an adventurer, a risk taker the second time around.

 

I planned to have 2 boys and a girl, yet instead I have a dog sitting business with dog poop, a vacuuming obsession, and dead birds.

 

I don’t recognize my life.

 

 

Hello God, are you there? It’s me, Kris. Quick question: Are you being serious?

 

I am certainly not one to put words in God’s mouth, but I can picture him saying simply, “Yep.”

 

So here I am. And as I try to process it all, my mind wanders to that sewing room, that baby room, sans baby. And I refuse to oversimplify infertility. My struggle has been fairly long and arduous. My husband and I have experienced repeated loss. The heartache is real. The scars are physical and emotional.

 

But I move forward. I still kind of want a baby. I still think it is possible. And if it happens, God will get ALL of the glory.

 

But I move forward. And I make plans for my future that don’t often include a baby, and I picture the future of my boys and I plan to love my husband with all my heart.

 

And I move forward. I show up to help my husband at his business. I help my boys with projects. I scout out clumps of dog fur in crevices forgotten. I exercise, cook, pay bills, apply make up, take my son to counseling, and plan vacations.

 

And I move forward. I relish in the time I have to devote to my children. I soak up the sun and enjoy the breeze, and notice all the little new flowers and host a herd of four legged friends.

 

And I never look back.

 

My oldest son occupies that sewing room now. It sports new flooring, and a fresh new roman shade, and it almost always covered in skinny jeans, Vans, and food crumbs.

 

I write, and walk dogs, and hire and schedule the staff, drink protein shakes and text my friends, all while moving forward.

 

I am living the life.

 

This is the life God wants for me. And I want it too. Because I want Him. And in all things, and all situations, we can honor Him with obedience, even joy.

 

And if I can be obedient in these small, inconsequential, even gritty tasks, how gloriously can I represent Him in the great and honorable, even noble tasks?

 

I am a firm believer that we are always in training for something. Maybe something bigger, maybe something more important. Or maybe we are to just follow God with a lamp to our feet to light the path in front of us, unaware of where that path might lead us (Psalm 119:105). We fall down, we shake off the dust, we march one foot in front of the other. And we keep moving forward.

 

I don’t know how you got where you are. You might not know either. But I am not sure how much it will matter in the long run. Because nothing is achieved in straining to see the view behind us.

 

So ask yourself, “Am I moving forward?” You don’t have to shy away from your story, but let’s walk and talk at the same time. Embrace your story, forgive your plans that God did not set forth, and move forward.

 

I had a dream, and a plan and even a Pinterest board for my baby room ideas. But God had a plan that I never saw coming. But I can still love that plan, my life and even the inglorious minutia of my days. It is a choice, and I choose it, and I choose it in every tiny forward step I take.

 

Are you with me? I don’t know where I am going, but it is ahead of me. The road will wind and will take me to low and scary places at times, but He is with me, and He is waiting, my eyes are on Him, and I am moving forward.

 

 

 

 

 

Stress is inevitable. Throughout the day you will have many opportunities presented to you in which to enjoy stress.

Have you ever noticed that some women seem to handle it more gracefully though? While some of us are losing our cool easily, crying at the drop of a hat, and getting irritated often, some women (and men) seem to be taking it in stride.

I have no doubt that these ladies break down too. I can just picture them in their pantry, Hulk-slamming a carton of Pop-tarts and punching a bag of marshmallows. We all have our days.

As a student of the world, I have been watching these wondrous creatures to see if I could observe a pattern of what makes them different from those of us who spazz out so easily, and here’s what I have observed:

  1. These goddesses of the world eat right-They might not be “skinny” but they are healthy looking. They are taking the time to make good food choices, drink water and even take vitamins. They are not putting their nutrition on the back burner. They do not take kindly to putting junk in their systems, and their lives show the fruits of their efforts: they have the energy and overall health to work out, play with their children and enjoy life. They have invested in themselves, and it is paying off in their quality of living. They don’t eat to simply survive, they are eating to create the life that they desire.
  2. These smart cookies take time for themselves–You can find these ladies taking time to read the Bible, go for a run, take yoga, lift weights, dance, create and even vacation. They are not ashamed of taking time to nurture their mental and physical health. And they don’t feel guilt ridden when they want to take a girls weekend or time away from their children. They seem to understand that even women need time to be fully human, not just a mom or a wife, but a woman with her own spirit to feed.
  3. These wise souls don’t take on the problems of others–While they are the first to listen and even pray with you, and probably among the first to lend a hand in your time of need, they are not absorbing or owning the problems of others. Their faith allows them to pray for you and with you and to be available to you without sacrificing their own health or well-being. They are genuinely empathetic without becoming engaged in the depth of despair around them because they realize their own limits and they are okay with them.
  4. These joyful creatures actively seek contentment–While they are not always dancing with joy, they are willing to accept certain circumstances without feeling hopeless. They are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and they can almost always see it. They realize that there is a time and a season for everything, even sadness, and they accept the lows in life with faith and hope. They are not bottling up their emotions, they just aren’t worshiping them because they are too busy worshiping God.

On a very good day, I am this woman. But most days I am a work in progress. These women aren’t perfect though, they have just learned to love themselves because they know that they can be more to this world and for their family if they will take efforts to reduce their stress, take care of their bodies and take time to pursue their passions.

I can’t be all things to all people. I can’t even be all things to one or two people. But I want to be useful and joyful congruently. I want to serve a purpose and I want to be content in doing it.

Whether I am driving the kids to school, walking the dogs, making lunch for my husband, or propping my feet up, I want to enjoy this moment for what it is, neither taking on stress or creating negativity. I want to be free, truly free to live the life God designed for me.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5.1)

But some days I have to remind myself of my limits, get out of my own way and just lean into Him and enjoy the ride.

Life is short. I want to enjoy it. If not now, when?

I feel a deja vu coming on.

I think I have called myself a recovering perfection before, years ago, and yet here I am…still recovering.

Perfectionism is no joke. Perfectionists are so busy being perfect that they can’t see how imperfect their way of thinking is, or how difficult they make things for those around them. Perfectionists are not just hard on themselves but on everyone they “care” about. In fact, that’s how we show we care…by improving our husbands, our kids, our friends, and sometimes-even strangers.

I am not sure when my perfectionism started. When I was first told that I was a perfectionist I didn’t believe it. I thought, “I never do anything perfectly.” The counselor said my response was classic.

I can actually remember the height of my perfectionism. It was Christmas 2000: Jackson’s first Christmas. I made wreaths for everyone because I wanted thoughtful gifts that saved money. I made my own wrapping paper, because I was stone-cold crazy and Martha Stewart hadn’t been arrested yet. I made ornaments, baked goods, and cards. I probably mailed over 100 cards that year, writing a personal message in each. I don’t remember Jackson’s expression when he opened his gifts. I do remember nearly drowning. I don’t mean figuratively either. I poured so much lavender in the bath that night; I fell asleep in the tub.

But that was not the end of my struggle. It continued for many years, keeping me from spending time with my kids to the degree I desired because there was always more work to be done. Some of these pressures were external; many of them were internal. Years later, I am still unraveling myself.

Here are some things I am doing to change my ways, but you will have to take a look at yourself and pray through some steps you can take:

  • I am planning less stuff to do. My days are more open and more flexible and every moment doesn’t have to be accounted for.
  • I am letting my house be messy, dusty and even letting the small piles sit for weeks at a time WHILE GUESTS COME OVER. This is HUGE. I used to power clean before letting the bug man in, and lit no fewer than 15 candles for a board game gathering. I wanted my home to be perfect. I am now forcing myself to refuse to let it be a reflection of my character or worth.
  • I am making more frozen pizzas and letting my kids fend for themselves. They are learning to cook a little, and I am spending more time hanging out with them and less time yelling at them about the kitchen. I am not letting my family fall victim to scurvy or anything. But I am often choosing time with them over photo-worthy meals. My kids are 12 and 14 and every moment with them is worth a little heartburn 😉
  • I am letting others own their messes. I still ask that the kids clean their rooms (once a week), but I am letting more stuff “slide” and am not obsessing over their crap. I have learned to CLOSE THE DOOR. Their rooms are not a reflection of my parenting.
  • I am sitting still more. I sat around in my underwear for a while today staring into space. It was grand! And the best part of my week was a two-hour nap with my hubby on Sunday. I have had more time to think, my feet aren’t constantly throbbing and I occasionally watch an episode of Downton Abbey (I am way behind so don’t spoil anything for me!)

I think God has said, “Be still and know that I am God,” at least a million times over the last year. I am learning to take this literally. I don’t plan on turning into a slithering slovenly slug whose skin grafts to the furniture, but I am enjoying the downtime and rest that I have denied myself for so many years.

This week my kids told me that they would rather live in a mess and have time to hang out as a family than to have a clean home and no fun. But perfectionism tells us that good could be great, and great should be better. Perfectionism robs our peace of mind and replaces it with irrational insatiable striving for approval that is ever rising and never within our reach. Perfectionism erodes our relationships and the confidence of those around us who can never live up to our lofty ideals, causing panic and unrest.

I use to think “balance” meant balancing everything perfectly: beautiful home, profitable career, attractive image, public approval, etc.

Now I know that balance means finding a harmony between responsibilities and enjoying relationships, between making a home and making memories.

No one will say at your funeral, “Her stainless steel was always spotless.” But wouldn’t it be nice if they said, “She always made time for me when I needed her.”

That my friends, is balance.

stick figure blog

No matter how strong you get, you can’t keep bad things from happening.

No matter how pretty you get, you can’t keep him from leaving you.

No matter how educated you get, you cannot avoid failure.

No matter how fast you can run, you can’t outrun your past.

No matter how rich you get, you cannot avoid the feeling of emptiness.

No matter how organized you get, you cannot always keep life from spinning out of control.

No matter how sexy you get, you cannot keep him from cheating.

No matter how successful you get, you cannot avoid disappointment.

No matter how involved you get with your children, you cannot guarantee their happiness or success.

No matter how savvy you get, someone can always pull the wool over your eyes.

No matter how low you get, God will never leave you or forsake you.

There is only so much we can control in our lives. The rest is just an illusion of control. We do not know what tomorrow will bring us, or even what could happen in five minutes. But if we lean on the Lord and stay in a relationship with Him, we will never be alone, defined by our past, or our worth determined by our performance.

No matter what, when we believe, we are children of God.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

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I was late to the party. I was in my 30s before I started reading the Bible. I mean, I had touched them here and there, even opened them once or twice, and had somehow memorized the 23rd Psalm from hearing people speak it at funerals or in movies. So basically, I knew nothing.

I have been going to church weekly for about 7 years. And about three years ago, I got the calling to go to grad school to learn how to counsel people biblically. I have always been an adviser and helper. But I wanted to know how to help people in a more meaningful, less self-serving (for me and for them) way.

I had to take a Bible test to get into grad school. There was no minimum score requirement, but I knew as soon as I opened the test that I was in trouble, or at least my ego was. The proof that I knew nothing about Scripture was about to be emailed to a Christian college. I pictured a room full of theologians talking about what an idiot I was. I had an urge to cheat on my Bible test. Oh, the irony.

School has required me to learn a lot about the Bible. But mostly, I have really wanted to learn for my own sake. I want to know how to apply Jesus’ teachings to my life. I wanted to be more like Him: a better counselor, teacher and just plain kinder.

I never had a picture Bible as a kid. I didn’t grow up knowing that Jonah lived inside a whale, or that David killed a giant. I didn’t see colorful illustrations of Moses floating in a basket. I didn’t know that Genesis came first or that Revelations came last, or that there were four “Gospels.” I still need a table of contents for some books, and in case you were wondering Habakkuk is an actual book of the Bible, not a hiccup with a vengeance.

So I want to help you faithful friend. If you want to learn more about God’s word but you don’t know where to start, I have some tips from my personal experience. Those stuffy theologians in the room laughing might disagree with me, but so what. I am here to serve God and you, not them.

Here are my tips:

 

  • There are lots of kinds of Bibles–KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, and the Message just to name a few. Don’t stress over which one is “best.” Read what makes sense to you for now. You can get picky later.
    • I like the NIV or NLT for an ease of understanding without too casual of language (like in the Message, which has it’s uses too but is sort of the outcast for traditional Christians because it is so informal and further away from the original script.)
    • Speaking of informal, if you just want to know Bible stories, pick up your kid’s Bible and read it in the simplest terms (alone or with your kid.) You can build on this knowledge later.
  • Bibles are not translations of translations–This is a myth. Bibles are translated from their original Greek or Hebrew text into the new “version.” Language changes so it’s okay that we translate the Bible into words we understand. Otherwise, only those who spoke Hebrew and Greek could learn the Word of God. Not fair, right?
  • Get a study Bible–I have a big fat NIV study Bible on my desk/nightstand. It is amazing because it tells me:
    • The setting
    • The author
    • The meaning of each book
    • Cross references (other verses that relate)
    • The meaning of each verse
    • The meaning of words as they are used in their context
    • How to find topics in the Bible (look up “love” in the index and be prepared to be sent on a journey!)
  • Get a Bible App–There are tons of them (I use YouVersion) and most have a verse of the day and reading plans. Some have videos too, and plans to do with kids.
    • Don’t get upset with yourself if you don’t stay on track with a “plan.” I am like 180 days behind on a one-year plan, yet I have read the Bible almost every day since I started the plan. Sometimes I am “led” in a different direction. The plan is to help; not to make you feel like a loser.
    • Some plans are better than others–A blended plan helps you read through both Testaments at same time, but you might not understand the context within which they were written because the sections they give you are small and that leaves you keeping up with three or four stories at once.
  • Consider a Chronological Bibles–The Bible is collected into books that are logical, often by author, and topical. Sometimes, they do not follow the history class order that we are used to. A chronological Bible tells the Bibles stories in the order that they happened.
    • Warning–The Old Testament is long and sometimes hard to read if you don’t have someone to ask questions. Leviticus is crazy dry, and Job made me super mad when I first read it.
  • Find a Bible buddy–Ideally, they will know more than you about the Bible. If they don’t, then they should at least be willing to learn about the actual meaning of the text with you. Reading one book at a time is a great way to go through the Bible with a friend.
  • Keep historical setting in mind–Times change, but biblical truths and values do not. Be careful to not to jump to conclusions on what the Bible supports. Yes, slavery was a fact of life then, and the Bible has instructions for slaves and slave owners, yet it never condones slavery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and use “commentaries” (books that tell you about the meaning of verses.) We can still learn from these verses but we need to understand them in their historical context first.

I hope these tips help get you started. If you have any questions just ask. I saw a meme recently that said something like, “Just getting started has you running laps around those on the couch.” Is it time to get off your spiritual couch and get in gear?

Don’t worry friend, we are this together.

A beautiful ocean view from the Mayan Ruins at Talum

A beautiful ocean view from the Mayan Ruins at Talum

“When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human beings that you care for them?

You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:”

~Psalm 8:3-6


David was probably taking a walk at night and admiring God’s work through the moon and stars and wondering why He is “mindful” of us at all.

Have you ever been in the midst of nature and felt overwhelmed by its beauty? Have you ever been so in awe that you felt small? I have: Walking through the woods and admiring the changing season, or standing next to the massive, powerfully audible ocean surrounded my millions of grains of sand, each created by God. We wonder why we were created (as humankind) or why “we” were created as __________ (insert your name here).

Maybe today is a good day to take a walk and admire God’s work. Or maybe it’s a good day to just look out the window and let His beauty rush over you. Let’s talk with God today and chat with Him about our purpose. And let’s listen, I mean REALLY listen to what He says. And don’t afraid to be moved by it. Today could be the be the beginning of a movement that matters.


PRAYER:

Dear Father,

Thanks you for seeing fit to knit me together. Thank you for seeing me through all my junk and showing me how to climb out of darkness and into Your beautiful light. Thank you also for letting me feel small in Your creation yet big enough to make real change in my home, my work and in my friendships. I feel whole because of You. Thanks for always having time for me. In the name of Jesus, I pray. I love you. Amen.

My good friend told me that the day after she turned 40, her doctor called and told her it was time to schedule a mammogram.  Her immediate thought was, “Hold your horses! I just turned 40 yesterday…give it a minute to sink in!” She laughingly warned me to be prepared to be jostled into my 40s with a little too much force from the world.

I was prepared, but they didn’t call. It appears I will have to sign myself up for the smashing of the body parts, and that I shall do. What my friend didn’t warn me about was the feeling of fear that came over me. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was afraid to die.

I have been 40 for eight days now, and I have thought about death a little more than what most sane people would consider healthy. I try to picture death (not dying necessarily, but death itself) and it freaks me out. I know cognitively that as a Jesus follower and believer of Scripture that I have nothing to fear, yet anxiety and the need to control life (and apparently death too) crept in and began cracking my foundation.

Today I was reading in Mark (I have been spending some extra time in the Gospels lately, hungry to connect with the life and words of Jesus Christ).  In Mark 12:18-27, the Sadducees (who didn’t believe in resurrection) asked Jesus about marriage in Heaven (for those who remarry). He explained that there is no marriage in Heaven and that God is the God of the living and not the dead. Both points gave me pause and a lot to think about so I asked my husband to give me his thoughts on the meanings of these verses.

Our discussion led us to talk about our “new bodies in Heaven.” We remembered that we had read that we will have actually bodies in the afterlife. We will not be balls of gas, with rays of light with wings (as far as I can tell, but hey, I’m no expert), but rather given new bodies “perfect and without sin.”

In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 we see that God is going to give us new “buildings” in Heaven:

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

I learned a few things from these verses that give me comfort:

  • Our bodies were designed to be temporary–The use of the word “tent” to denote our bodies on Earth lets us know that it was not meant to last. My kids left a tent in the yard for a month last summer and it was torn, soggy and blown on its side in that short time. Tents are fragile, and unfortunately not made to last forever.
  • We “have” the Holy Spirit as a deposit–A deposit is used to solidify a contract or in this case, a covenant. God sent Jesus to live with us; He died, rose, and ascended to Heaven. God gave us the Holy Spirit as a promise that Jesus will return and that God has a place for us, an eternal place. He is “guaranteeing what is to come.” The Holy Spirit is in me. I am not disposable.
  • What is mortal may be swallowed up by life–This was the biggie for me. In verse 4 He gives us this powerful concept: We will not be swallowed up by death, which is how we tend to view the act of dying, but rather we are swallowed up by life. Death, for a follower of Christ is marked by life beyond our comprehension.

Wow. This changes everything. My human fear of dying has been lessened (I’m imperfect and human so I won’t lie and say I am cured). The idea of death, however painful from the human perspective of being separated from our loved ones, is ultimately a promotion to a new body in Heaven with our Father.

Please do not feel that I am lessening the heaviness of death, or in anyway making light of it. Death is painful, and heart-wrenching and raw. If you are dealing with loss of a loved one, my heart goes out to you! Loss is all around us, and it is so real. I can’t imagine the heartbreak that many of you are experiencing right now. I am not telling anyone how to grieve, I am sharing with you my perspective as a middle aged woman who just seemed to realize that she too would die one day. Death may be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean we automatically have the tools to approach it (even if it may be far away) gracefully.

It is said that all good things must come to an end. I just realized that this is an Earthism. On Earth, this is true. Life (even the ones well-lived) must come to a conclusion. But the afterlife is not punctuated by an end, and even though we don’t know what our life after “death” will look life, we know in our souls that it is good.