Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Things of Early Spring

"The story that crushes me also saves me, and there is nothing to do but worship through the tears." 
-Jen Hatmaker

It's been a heavy week.  I'm on the final half of the semester and while the end is in sight, there is so much to do and so little time to do it.  The news headlines once again involved terrorism, and once again reminded me of the evil in this world and the fear that permeates because of it.  I attended an information meeting about kindergarten Tuesday night, and left feeling like I had four months left of Cruz's childhood, four months until play and imagination and prayer at lunchtime would be replaced with sight words and story problems and behavior charts.  I sat around a table on Wednesday and cried with six other beautiful friends, many who are struggling with uncertainties and fears of their own, and didn't sleep that night worrying for another friend whose very private battle became all too public.  And on top of it all, it's holy week, a week that's always been powerful and raw for me.  The tears come easy this week as I feel the weight of my own brokenness and a Savior who took mine, and the entire world's to the cross.  There are no words to describe that, and I feel overwhelmed when I try to make sense of it.  Last night, I sat in my three-hour Thursday night class after spending the entire afternoon lost in a literature review due at the end of the month.  I sank into my desk seat and thought about others attending Maundy Thursday services around the community and my night felt so meaningless.  All week, I've been contemplating my purpose, attempting (and sometimes forcing) God's whisper in directing my sails.  Why am I spending hours on this degree?  How can I make more time to invest in others?  What does it look like to be a follower of Jesus in my current season, as I struggle to juggle my roles as a wife, a mom, a friend, a teacher?   I've been coming up empty this week, feeling pretty broken as I think about the cross and how much I fall short of the glory of God. 

But, the sun is shining on this Good Friday morning, and I woke up feeling differently as I got my kids ready for school and told them how excited I was to celebrate Jesus with them this weekend.  My Grandpa Merle always tells a story about me when I was little that I don't remember, but has evidently stuck with him all these years.  We had attended our community's annual Easter cantata, and afterwards, Jordan and I were discussing the always powerful part of the service where they turn out the lights and we sit and listen as a nail is pounded into a board over the loud speaker.  Jordan asked why we called it "Good Friday," when the picture of anyone dying in the way Jesus did brought nothing but pictures of evil and sadness.  And according to Grandpa, my response to him was "because it's good for us." 

Jesus not only died on that cross to save us on Good Friday, but he did so that we can experience great joy in a broken world.  He took all of our pain, put it on him, and adopted us into his kingdom because he wants us to prosper and live a life of joy, now and for eternity.  God doesn't want us to feel broken, but whole and new in the good truth that he is and always will be.  And I can worship God at a Maundy Thursday night service, or in my desk in Lang Hall during my three-hour night class.  Sometimes it's so easy to see meaning in some things and not as much in others, but God wants us to see the power and opportunity that lies in whatever place we find ourselves.
As I slowly attempt to figure out what exactly it all means in my daily life, I can start by training my eyes to see God in the details, to celebrate the joy that exists in every day.  I loved Ann Voscamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, in which she realized the power in recognizing, naming, and giving thanks for the small, simple, and good things that occur all around her on a daily basis.  Through this, she learned that "in naming that which is right before me, that which I'd otherwise miss, the invisible becomes visible."  God's face is in the details, the moments or good things, in a 48-page paper or a three-hour night class on a rainy, dreary night. In that unholy smear of the daily grind, God's still there.  We just need to train our eyes to see him.

My camera helps me do this.  I look through my lens and it forces my lids open and sometimes I see things I would never have noticed before.  And oftentimes, there's good and joy to be found within those moments.   

So, in these dark, dreary days, when spring is lagging and my papers are hanging over my head, sagging at my spirit, I write about the good things.  I jot them down in a notebook and praise a risen Savior with a broken, but joy-filled hallelujah

Good things on Good Friday   

231.  We had the best little adventure, my girl and I, Sunday after church.  I had been thinking about a few treasures I had found at the junk show the day before and since my ticket allowed me access both days, I decided to go back to do one last sweep to see what I missed.  Mila happily agreed to be my shopping buddy, and the two of us had the most fun.  She fit right in with the creative and eclectic bunch in her new dress, denim jacket, and moccasins, and got several compliments on how cute she looked!  As we walked hand-in-hand out of the convention center, she kept saying, "that was fun, mommy!"  Love her and cherish these special one-on-one times with each of my babes. 

232.  Speaking of church, we had one amazing Palm Sunday service last week, thanks to Ed's message from Philippians, with music from our amazing worship band, and the addition of Alli Rogers who was back seeing family and visiting her home church.  They sang this song and I have listened to it more times than I can count this week.  Check it out, you will not be disappointed.   

233.  As we were leaving church Sunday, Beau and I looked behind us to see our two little disciples waving palm branches and exclaiming, "Hosanna, hosanna, yay Jesus!"  In that song above, one of the lines says, "you give me faith like a child / in you my heart runs wild."  There is nothing that makes my heart beat more than to see Jesus working in the little hearts of my people, through their stories, their questions, their innocent prayers at the dinner table. 

234.  If Equip - I received this pretty book in the mail last week, and dived into a daily devotional centered on the Nicene Creed.  I've been committed to setting my alarm 20 minutes earlier each day so I can start my day in scripture and prayer.  I continually see the power that those twenty minutes have on the rest of my day, and thank God for carving out that time for me.

235.  I planted over 30 bulbs in our beds out front last fall and squealed in delight when I saw evidence of their life last weekend.  As I wait for the real deal here, I purchased my own little bouquet of spring last week and loved how the color transformed the kitchen and gave me a little spring in my step.

236.  Eggs - love being surprised by their colors and how pretty they look through my camera lens.  

237. Messy pigtails and chubby cheeks

238. March Madness bracket building and bandaids on the forehead for no apparent reason.  I might add that she went to school like that.

Happy Easter!  Wishing you good things this Easter weekend and that you are able to meet Jesus in whatever place you're in. 

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