Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter ~ Hearts and TREASURE.


The Rock That Easter Builds.
Last year, Easter marked a time period for me right before a storm.
I believe that God holds those He loves,
preparing them for the coming waves.
{If we are breathing, the storms will come, amen?}
It was during this time,
this calm...
that my heart yearned to elevate Easter to its proper place in our home.
To make it an event,
something really special ~ marked.
And in my muddled mind, was born the idea of pointing my children
toward the ultimate treasure:
Somehow the teaching of my children always teaches me most.

This is how I yearn to spend my days.
Pointing toward the Jesus treasure.
My children are nuts about all things pirate, and all things treasure,
and adventure calls to them from every corner and every bedsheet.
So I am purposing to speak their language.
There is a verse that has always sung to me the song of adventure:

"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure
hidden in a field.
When a man found it, he hid it again,
and then in his JOY went and sold ALL HE HAD
and BOUGHT that field."
 ~words of Jesus, from Mathew 13:44

In years past we filled their Easter baskets with yummy sugar,
and then....
we made them put that sugar in the pantry...
having a little here and there ~ and most of it being forgotten,
and uneaten, and tossed out.
Or eaten by the wrong mouth...{sigh}

Last year, we started a new tradition.
Easter baskets, yes.
But with just a few pieces of candy that they can enjoy right away.
And then....
A mysterious note?

A mysterious note, that turns a clue....
 inviting them to partake in an Easter morning:

That FIRST clue will lead them to their SECOND CLUE,
and so forth....
and clue number THREE?
Will lead them to their treasure.
One clue for each of the days that Jesus lay hidden in a grave.
They will find their treasure wrapped in paper, with hearts taped on it.
One heart per child, with their name scribbled across it.
And the paper will have the following verse:

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor.  Provide purses
for yourselves that will not wear out,
a TREASURE IN HEAVEN that will not be exhausted,
where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.
For where your TREASURE is, there your HEART will be also.
~ words of Jesus from Luke 12:33-34

As I type~ in our dining room, taped upon the door,
is a colorful cross.
Colored yesterday by little hands grasping crayons in delight.
Wondering what mommy had up her sleeve this time?
All week long we live in this house, in the shadow of that cross.
When we falter, when we fail,
we pick a little piece of scrap paper out of a basket in the center of the table.
We pray, reflect, and blot down our misses,
and put them right up on the cross.
I was the very first one to nail a transgression up there yesterday:
And when my husband arrived home late and I missed a few minutes
of my webinar, and was snippy? I volunteered up "impatience."
Yes, this cross will be full up around here over the span of a week.
On Easter morning the children will have the chance to
remove: every.single.sin.
To take them down, and toss them in the garbage.
Washed clean.
And they will have the chance to put their heart,
the one stuck to their treasure:
right at the foot of the cross.
To remember where our real treasure lies.
Taping our fragile hearts right there.
Then we will rip open the paper, and delight in our treasure!
We will talk about how Jesus is our FOREVER treasure!
And how His followers found Him alive on that third day!
And how He was seen alive by over 500 people, after his death upon that cross.
And how we carry the Holy Spirit inside us, ALIVE, everywhere, all the time,
if our hearts belong to Jesus.

Death, where is your sting?
Hell, where is your victory?

These are the hard-core-truths
that can carry us through any storm.
Sing it LOUD!
This will be the song infiltrating every room of our home on Easter Sunday...
The miracle, the love, the thrill of the Easter story ~ the rock to build our days upon.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I am a simple girl.
All twisted up in a life of swirling options.
I get sidetracked easily.
Like a child, chasing after butterflies.
Have you noticed
how distracted the world can be?
It is a very easy age to be entertained to death.
It wraps it's silent hands around the most precious, most scarce of jewels:
our time.
And it steals our focus.
Steals our mental clarity.
I was standing in my basement, gathering laundry,
when like a flood it washed over me.
Knocked me clean-over inside.
I looked there, at my four year old son,
giggling and jumping and playing in the playroom
just a few feet away.
His laugh, infectious.
His joy, exuding.
And I just stood there, basking in his childhood.
In his temporary, whisping status.
He is not a permanent fixture in my home.
He is here, just passing through.
Just passing through.
What distracts me from being all-in?
What takes my time away from getting on my knees,
drinking in the joy, giggling right along with him?
Whatever it is that distracts me, better be worthy.
Extremely worthy.

There is the necessary.
The tyranny of the urgent.
The laundry to graciously consume piece by precious piece.
The dishes to prepare.  To present.  To clean.
The minds to fill.
The necessary ~ yes.
The necessary in and of itself can take the entirety of a day.
Maybe there is even more necessary than there are hours.
It is a matter of sleuthing out priority.
Those precious moments of time,
when the necessary-of-the-necessary are covered...
are fleeting, temporary treasures.
Some to spend on my soul.
And some to pour out into the banks of memory,
which will be all that remains
once childhood vanishes.
All that will last ~
is what I've poured into those banks of memory.
I pray it be a river of life.
I am on a mission to simplify.
Cutting the clutter of all the time wasters.
Of all the wispy, cute little butterflies that flitter across my mind...
and send me chasing.
Distracting me from the worthy.
Distracting me from the main event.
I'm on a mission to elevate the important in my life.
It is easy to think that everything is worthy.
So to help myself gain clarity, all the unnecessary must go, for awhile.
It's just a little experiment of mine.
A journey.
I don't want anything to hold power over me,
and when the thought of deleting facebook made me cringe,
I knew it had to go.

I was walking a street in Milwaukee this weekend.
Turning the corner of Oakland and Bellview.
Walking briskly, frozen snow crunching beneath boots.
Sun spilling and breaking late in the day between naked trees.
Trying to escape the frigid cold.
When I heard it.
A small song.
It hit my soul, woke me up ~ and I stopped.
Right there.
The sound of spring?
My eyes had to search, my ears had to be tuned carefully...
to find it.
And there, yes there--up about twenty feet perched on a branch,
was a Robin.
Orangey-red chest swelled.
Singing her little heart into spring.
And my heart sang with her.
She can sense it.
Despite the cold, the bitter, the weariness of a long winter...
the snow so bright it blinds and makes eyes quench shut...
there are signs of spring everywhere.

Walking through life can be head-down, fast.
Get it done.
Get through.
Focus on the next task.
But what joy we miss, when we are distracted and
flitting from one thing to another? 
There is incredible joy in the simple,
in the simple journey.
In waking up to it.
I want to be alert for the gentle voice of God.
The opposite of alert?  Distracted.  Asleep.
And one of the enemy's greatest strongholds upon our generation?
Putting the soul into a trance-like-sleep.

I know what sleeps me, what reaches out and steals my clarity.
So I purge, and reorder, and find quiet.
Until the cold grip of distraction loses its hold.
I want to leave you with this:
 one of my favorite passages in the Bible.
So.  Good.
May you be listening for Him, my friend.
Elijah, a prophet,
is weary.
He is running for his life.
He is the last one standing for the Lord,
He is alone.
He is full of dread, fear, and defeat.
Overwhelmed, you could say.
And he wants to give up.
And the Lord feeds Him.
Elijah finds strength, and wanders on.
Wanders for 40 days until he reaches a mountain,
and he spends the night in a cave.
And God meets him there.
In Elijah's exhaustion, and his overwhelm.
He speaks to Elijah,
Elijah replies basically: I am alone, and running for my life.
Alone.  Overwhelmed.
And what does the Lord bless Elijah with?
Not treasures, or an army, or instantly taking away his problems--
God blesses Elijah first with the ONE thing that is beyond compare:
His very Prescence.
He tells Elijah...
"'Go out and stand on the mountain in the prescence of the Lord,
for the Lord is about to pass by.'
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart
and shattered the rocks before the Lord,
but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind there was an earthquake,
but the LORD was not in the earthquake.   
After the earthquake came a fire,
but the LORD was not in the fire.
And after the fire came a GENTLE WHISPER. 
When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face
and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave."
~I Kings 19:11-13
And here is where God
tells Elijah where to go, and what to say.
God, powerful enough to be preceded by grandeur,
A gentle whisper.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Navajo fry bread.

It's probably a good thing:
that I don't know how to "fry" things.
A testimony to the excellent upbringing I had,
where:  if it didn't come in a box labeled "Helper,"
It was just never served.
The second-last week of our
"Adventures in US History"
and we are called to pretend to be Navajo's
and make up this easy, 5 ingredient thing called:
Navajo Fry Bread.
The kids get all sticky,
I get all sticky,
and I am determined that this is gonna be super awesome.
And it was.
The boys asked for triple helpings.
And then some.
And then it was time for me to clean up the kitchen.
Now, please have a little sense of humor and cut me a little slack here.
It was the end of a REALLY long day, and I went straight
into "cleanup mode autopilot."
I grabbed the pan of hot-frying oil,
one inch deep hot oil...
and I thought to myself,
"I really need to get the oil outta here so I can get this cleaned
and put away for the night."
I then remembered that my grandmother used to pour hot oil
into a little container.
So I pulled a half n half container out of the recycling bin,
opened up the top really wide....
and prepared to pour.
My tired brain stopped me.
I cannot pour this oil--it's going to slop all over the sink
if I just up and pour willy nilly.
So I instead grab a ceramic bowl.
A ceramic bowl with a little pour spout.
As I am about to pour, something inside me begins to wonder...
just how HOT do I think this oil still is....
is it going to damage this ceramic bowl?...
oh well, what's the worst that can happen....
And by this time I am already pouring.
Hot, sizzling oil.
Into this precious little ceramic bowl.
And the bowl begins to sizzle and  TERRIFYING noises erupt,
LOUD noises--
and I yell to the boys who are snacking on their fry bread just a few feet away:
I grab them and grab the high chair and
I'm pulling kids and pushing them fast into the living room.
Kids covered in sugary fry bread and pizza hands from supper.
One of the kids smiles and yells,
They are looking at me, and I am totally clueless.
They are safe on the other side of the wall and the sizzling continues...
we are all listening.
and I am wondering if this--if this is how this little house will end.
"In flames, after a homeschool experiment recipe (!) gone awry."
I stand there with the boys, waiting.
I am seriously expecting the bowl to just start exploding all over the place.
I am picturing Thanksgiving fry turkey fires...
and wondering if this whole oil/ceramic mixture
is meant to just KABOOOOOM!
That MUST be how oil fires start?
Curiosity is my middle name...
I venture back to the sizzling sink...
I peek to see a bowl with hot oil sizzling in it...
a bowl that is still in tact.
and I realize that we are all going to be okay.
That we are all okay,
and that the house is still standing.
And I begin to laugh.
I begin to LAUGH like a little girl ~
straight from the gut.
Earlier I had posted a story about the mess of the house,
and how sometimes it's tempting to push all the mess out the back
door and start a bonfire.
Who woulda thought I almost started a bonfire in my sink?
The laughter began to peel out of me,
and the boys laughed, too.
We were all just rolling, doubled over in laughter.
And I find it ironic that after a stressful day full of the mess
of motherhood,
that THIS, ~This~ is how my Saviour allowed me to end my day.
My mind earlier, talking of pushing the mess outside and just roasting
marshmallows over it,
and my day ending in crazy rolling laughter that the mess is all safe.
That I DIDN'T start it on fire!
My Lord certainly has a sense of humor.
Me at the brink of explosions,
realizing that all that noise was simply hot-oil-poured-into-a-room-temp-dish.
The laughter must have brought my tired mind back to reality.
Back to scientific explanations.
And I remembered that grandma used to use a TIN can for her hot oil.
Funny how that came to mind so easily,
after my mind was allowed some deep, pure laughter.
Oh, Grandma, if only you could hear this one.
I can just see this story, handed down to my grandchildren someday:
"the day that mom told us to take cover during supper."