Pieces

 

The past few weeks we’ve been learning a Remember Verse with the students I teach. It’s one of my favorites at Christmas time. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.

One of the things I have loved the most in teaching this is helping the kids grasp the enormity of God’s plan as he revealed this. Not just pieces of his plan, but seeing the fullness of his plan. We look at the beginning of the verse to understand it’s God the Father sending his son, Jesus. It’s such a great verse to ponder over during the Christmas season. Then we pause and look at where this verse is found. Isaiah. I then ask the kids if that’s Old or New Testament. They now recognize this is in the Old Testament which means this verse was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

It shows me that God had a plan. He had a good plan that included his son. You see, God Created. In the beginning, God created all and said it was GOOD. And Jesus was part of it.

The opening verses of John remind me of this:

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (1:1-5)

v:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him… v:14 The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, FULL of grace and truth.”

He didn’t have to come to earth. He had a plan though. God revealed himself to the Israelites. He gave the law, not to provide law itself, but to show his love. So that we would know him, honor him, love him, desire to be with him.

We made a choice, as his creation, to turn from him way back in the garden. We were separated from him because of our choice. But he had a plan. A plan to love us. A plan to restore us. A plan to redeem us.

And we didn’t choose his plan.

We kept doing things our way. In our time. AND he still loved us. Still revealed himself to us; out of His abundance of love.

He is slow to anger, slow to judgement, giving us time to know him, time to love him.

He was silent for a moment. There was 400 years of silence where he didn’t speak through any prophets or reveal any miracles.

Then God quietly began to reveal his plan. On a hillside, out away from the crowds, away from the affluent, away from the “religious” leaders.

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God didn’t just give a piece of his love. He didn’t just give a little of Himself. He poured all his power and majesty and love into this world through his son Jesus. Fully contained in the human form so he would know. So he could sympathize not just in part, but in whole.

Even though that human body died on a cross, love did not. Love conquered death. Love rose stronger. Love remains. Not in pieces, but in whole. And it’s here for us today. WE can still choose to turn from the wrong things we do, we can ask for forgiveness, we can ask to know him. Not just with part of our lives, not just with pieces, but with all our lives. We can love with not just part of our love, but with all our love.

Because He doesn’t give us just part of his heart. He doesn’t give us his leftover pieces.

Do we do that to him? Do we just offer back our leftover pieces? Do we wait to come to him at some point when we have all of our pieces fixed and figured out? Do we get so busy or feel so broken that we remain in pieces, keeping them to ourselves? Or do we think that somehow we must put ourselves together perfectly before we come to him?

He loves all your pieces. He’s the one who wants to step in and put your pieces together, perfectly, and love all of you, with his fullness.

So let us remember this Christmas, as we recall the birth of Jesus long ago, he came as love, as light, in full. And he satisfied our debt, in full.  And now, when Jesus looks on us, he doesn’t love just parts of us. Pieces of us. He loves all of us. All the time. We can trust in that.

Don’t let what feels like broken pieces in you hold you back from the one who longs to restore, renew, and pour in full love.

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Busy Is Not An Honor Badge

My week has been busy. This year has been busy. My family has been busy. Ministry has been busy.

Life is just busy.

Do you feel it too?

When asked, “how are you?” do you say “Busy!”?

I can match your busy. Any day.

Do you ever find yourself listing out the to-do list for people to justify how busy you are. Or to one-up their busy? And do they reply with how busy they are too?

Are our kids seeing and feeling the hurried busy schedule at home? On the go? At school? At church? What are we telling them is important? To work harder, do more, be more, achieve more? Is that what we want for them?

In a conversation a few months back someone said, “I try not to use the words busy or tired”. Hmmm. She indicated that using those words gave the idea that she didn’t have time to be present in the moment with whomever she was with. She was too busy. Or too tired.

How many times have I said this?

How many times has that caused me to miss out on what’s around me?

How many times has that caused me to not show up mentally and be fully present in the moment?

With my own kids.

With the families I am a pastor for.

With the volunteers I lead.

How can I be fully present and fully engaged with any of them if I am too busy thinking of the to-do list or too tired from being too busy?

That’s a bad, vicious cycle.

Don’t get me wrong. It is good to work hard. It is good to plan, be intentional, follow through. He will equip us for every good work under the sun. But I find a caution with this:

It’s not about us doing more for God,

it’s about us being more with God.

If we are so busy running from activity to activity, trying to fit all of the busy into the finite hours we have, and dragging our children along the whole time, what are we really pointing them towards? What are we telling them is the most important? What are we modeling for them? That it’s good to be busy and fill our days to the point of exhaustion, leaving little or no time to just rest in God. To notice Him around us? To notice the blessings He is showering on us. Are we missing them simply because we’ve kept our head down in the busy?

Sometimes it’s even our old ideas or thought patterns that can still keep us in the busy. Or they can wear us down, leaving us feeling tired and worn out. We can do no more for God and don’t have the focus to actually spend time with God.

In another recent conversation I was asked to list out my busy, so they could know what I was doing and make sure I was taking time for myself. After hearing the long list they said, “Well, maybe you can rest on 4th of July”.

No.

I don’t want to just survive these days. I don’t want to stay so busy, head down, completely task driven that I miss the moments. The moments of laughter with my children. The moments of wonder with the littles I get to teach. The moments of joy with friends. I want to show up and be so incredibly present with them. I want to invest in people. I want to be intentional. I want to bring joy.

For me, it’s time to clean out some old thought patterns again. Things that don’t serve me. That are consuming too much of my time. It’s time to lighten the calendar.

It’s time to pause and create more space in my life to just be.

At the end of the day, the end of the year, or the end of a life, busy is not an honor badge I want. I want the moments. I want the laughter ringing in my ears. I want the joy of life. I want the blessings He brings. And I want to be with Him more.

Are you wearing the busy honor badge? Are you ready to set it down? Are you ready to pause?

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The Hard Days of Being a Mama

Some days are just hard.

Some days being a mom are just really hard.

Some days being a single mom are just really really hard.

The Hard Days

I’ve had some long, full days this week. I’ve had long days at work with difficult conversations and difficult decisions, including some 10+ hour days. Tuesday alone was 4 hours of work that lead into three back to back to back meetings that went five hours straight. The 1.5 hour break had me racing home, grabbing the grocery bags, buying groceries, backing in the drive to let my son unload them, then driving back to work for another 1.5 hour meeting. I love what I do. Sometimes it’s hard.

This week has felt like hurt all around me. A friend’s three year old son was diagnosed with leukemia, and that just breaks my heart in the worst possible way. I’ve had to step back from another friend going through a really difficult time. I want to be supportive and encouraging, but that’s not wanted now. I’ve had deep conversations with other mamas about serious allergies and health issues, about the hard days of their kids hurt feelings and hard friendships, and the hard moments of being a mom. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Being a Mom

I’m up early to help with lunches and make sure they’ve brushed their teeth. Sorry moms with littles, even though my two at home are teens, they still need to be reminded to brush their teeth. I drive them to school four days a week. We leave before 7 am. I’m not a morning person. It’s not pretty.

We’re finishing up the end of year stuff and making sure grades are up. We’re planning out some college classes for both of them next year. We’re dreaming of what post high school looks like for my son with disabilities. We’re making plans for his graduation and party. We’re fitting in driver’s ed with my almost 16 year old and taking long drives. We’re making time for friends. We’re planning her 16th birthday fun.

At home this week a glass light fixture fell from the ceiling and shattered all over the place. The cat decided to puke on the landing of the stairs early one morning. Kids have chosen not to help with the basics this week, so the garbage and dishes are overflowing. I realized I missed a couple steps in preparing Jacob for graduation. My oldest son needs more forms filled out for his university.

The list could go on.

Doing it all alone

Even though some days it looks like I have it all together, I don’t. I still need help. I still need encouragement. I still need community. I still need people to surround my kids with love. And sometimes that’s hard to open up my heart, my home, and offer the opportunity for others to step into their lives. Our lives.

They’ve endured loss. Hard loss. And it’s hard to think about others walking away. I know it’s part of life. People come in and out of our lives. Sometimes they’re in our life to teach a lesson, sometimes for a season, and sometimes for more. But as a mama I just want to protect their hearts.

Choosing to Invest

I could hide my head and bury my feelings and just survive these days. Instead I’m choosing to invest in the hard work of being a mom. I’m choosing to experience the complete joy of being the mom to the three greatest blessings ever in my life. I’m choosing to show up and be vulnerable and get messy with the hard stuff of life with them. Some days there are tears. Some days there are hurt feelings. Some days there are full on meltdowns.

And all of the days are filled with laughter and hugs, smiles and I love you’s.

I love that when I get home after a long day my daughter still wants to snuggle on the couch and watch her favorite show with me. And she wants to try on fun dresses and laugh with me. And she senses when I need a hug and is quick to pull me in. And my Jacob can’t wait for me to get home so he can tell me all of his random thoughts that make perfect sense to him. And make bad “yo mama” jokes. And catch me up on the design complications of his latest welding project. And I love that my oldest son texts me during the week to see if I need anything from the sale at the Duck Store. We love our Ducks. I love them all.

Even though some moments are hard, I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything.

So to all the hard working, soul touching, hug giving, dancing in the kitchen, eating tacos off the floor, laughing like there’s no tomorrow, natural, adoptive, foster, step, bonus mothers that are out in this big world, THANK YOU. Thank you for showing up and investing in the lives of the littles and not so littles. Thank you for making this world a better place just by being you. You are amazing and I love you for all you do and all you are and all you give. Happy Mama’s Day!

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