Month: August 2014

Tugging

Luke 8:42-48 

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak,
and immediately her bleeding stopped.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said,
“Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”
But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her,
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

 Awhile back, I was baking in the kitchen, wearing what I call my apron. It’s actually more like a long, flowing, tunic. I’m surprised Tijge doesn’t call me a shepherd when I wear it. Anyway, he was tugging at it in all directions, hiding underneath, repeating over and over again, “I wear Mommy’s dress.” While it was cute, and I wanted to spend time with him, I had to get this dessert baked. And I was working at times with hot things on the stove, so that kind of horseplay could’ve been dangerous.

The scene very quickly brought to mind the story in Luke 8:42-48 of the bleeding woman who was healed after touching Jesus’ cloak. As I continued stirring the contents of my saucepan, I began to entertain the parallels between that story and the one playing out before me. For example, just as that woman needed Jesus, Tijge needed me. She needed physical healing; Tijge needed my time and attention. And just as Jesus had the power to meet the woman’s need, I also had the power to meet Tijge’s. And both seekers recognized and demonstrated faith in that power and faith that they would not be turned away. In the case of the woman, Jesus drew attention to her, but only to commend her faith and display his power, not to condemn her. There, in my kitchen, I was presented with that same choice—to condemn Tijge for wasting my time and being too silly; or to instead take the time out to give him the attention that he craved from me. I confess that I only briefly turned to Tijge, and promised to play with him once I was done with my task. Even so, by offering a soft answer, as opposed to a harsh one, I like to think I offered the same comfort and acceptance to Tijge as Jesus offered to the woman.

 There are two more important parallels I observed here, that may provide encouragement to some of you parents out there. Jesus’ strength left him when he healed the woman’s disease. I think many of us can relate. Our kids demand so much of our time and attention that we begin to feel completely drained of all energy. So, we can take heart in the fact that we’re not alone—that Jesus experienced the same thing. But that’s not the most encouraging part. In the very next verse, we read that a man approached Jesus asking him to heal his daughter. If you’re familiar with the passage, you will recall that—even though the child had already died—Jesus healed her. This, immediately after stating that his strength had left him. Just as Jesus’ strength was replenished for the next need he encountered, we can expect God to replenish our strength to meet the needs of our kids.

Advertisements

If the Bra Doesn’t Fit…

Back in the early days of women’s liberation, they used to have a saying: “If the bra fits, burn it!” Well, nowadays, at least when it comes to MY wardrobe, I wouldn’t dare burn a bra that actually FIT! They’re too hard to come by. By the same token, though, I’ve ended up holding onto several ill-fitting bras. (I know that’s too much information for some of you, but I’ll bet that even more of you can relate to exactly what I’m talking about.)

 But, having just gotten a new armoire, and wanting to start fresh, I came up with a new motto: “If the bra doesn’t fit, throw it out!” Why hold onto something that doesn’t serve its intended purpose?

 It also dawned on me that this is an age-old problem. Paul even talked about it—yes, the Apostle Paul. No, he didn’t include undergarments in his discussion of women’s adornments, but what he did do was call all Christians to “throw off all that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” He meant that we should get rid of those things that don’t serve a purpose; or that keep us from fulfilling OUR intended purpose. That could be anything that wastes space, time, or potential, or that stunts our relationships. A few examples, also courtesy of the Apostle Paul, can be found in Colossians 3:8, where he exhorts us to put aside “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech.” In Ephesians 4:31, he warns us to “get rid all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander…” Ephesians 4:29 cautions us against unwholesome talk, and Ephesians 5:4 condemns obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking.

 Any of those sound familiar? Any of them hanging around your life like an ill-fitting bra? Throw them out. Or, if you’re feeling particularly liberated, go ahead and burn them!

Something ‘Borrowed’

Proverbs 14:12
“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”

Just the other day, I watched the movie, “Something Borrowed.” Basically, it was a story about a bride-to-be whose best friend and maid of honor has an affair with her fiancé. In the end, the fiancé calls off the wedding, and presumably lives happily ever after with the friend. And the audience is supposed to be thrilled at this outcome, seemingly based on a couple of factors. First, the fiancé and the friend are perfect for each other; everyone can see it. They’re also in love—in fact, they’ve been in love since before the bride ever came into the picture. And then there’s the fact that the bride is shallow, self-centered, self-absorbed, entitled, conceited, and unfaithful. It makes it easy for us to sympathize and rationalize.

You know, I heard that the movie was based on a “beloved novel.” And I think I know why it’s so beloved. It’s because it gives us a sense of permission to follow our hearts, to do whatever feels good, because it will all work out in the end. But it occurs to me that the plot represents a perfect storm—where a rare combination of circumstances, each of which is highly unlikely, all converge to create the scenario described.

Let me put it another way. I will sometimes hear a comedian tell an outlandish story and pause in the middle to add, “You can’t make this stuff up!” Well, in this case, it would be more like, “You can only make this stuff up.” Notice the movie was based on a novel—a story conceived of in the imagination of the author. It wasn’t based on a true story; it wasn’t even inspired by actual events. If it had been, it would have started out something like this, “In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, David … stayed behind in Jerusalem.” You can read the rest of the story in 2 Samuel 11:1 (if you don’t already know it by heart), but here are a few highlights: greed, lust, rape, adultery, conspiracy, murder, heartache, and grief.

Satan is the father of lies. He will do anything to sell you the fantasy. But, beloved, don’t buy it. Don’t even borrow it. You’re worth so much more than that.

Freckles

Psalm 139:14

“I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it very well.”

I’ve always loved freckles. While Jan Brady was trying her darndest to get rid of hers, I was wishing for a way to get more. Chris has one particular freckle beneath his eye that I’ve always really liked. And if I look closely at Tijge, I can see a number of faint freckles across the bridge of his nose. And I love those, too. Then, the other night, I was looking in the bathroom mirror, in j ust the right light, and what did I see? Freckles!

To be honest, they aren’t freckles at all—they’re age spots. But the point is that, for the first time, I saw them for their potential—not as a categorical deficiency to be hidden and covered up. Rather, perhaps they could add character. Maybe, like crows’ feet and laugh lines, they point to a life well lived and countless memories made. Maybe they are a part of who I am that calls for celebration—okay, that may be going a little far. But how about acceptance? That seems doable.

How about you? Are you ready to embrace your “freckles”?

DPP_2653

A Few Things Sharks Can Teach You— but That You Probably Won’t Find on Shark Week

DSC03507

I love sharks. I find them fascinating and beautiful. So Shark Week is an exciting time. But it occurs to me that there are (at least) several lessons that sharks have to teach that you won’t find on Shark Week.

  1. Inexplicable peace: I know what you’re saying—“What?! Don’t sharks usually bring anything but peace?” You would think so. But I can tell you from my experience that one of the greatest senses of peace I’ve ever felt was lying on my back on the ocean floor, looking up at a feeding frenzy of sharks. It was both surreal and serene. And now and then, I’d reach my hand up to touch the belly of a shark that was passing over me. It was so awesome. It reminds me of Phillipians 4:7—“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Should I have felt such ease amid 15-20 sharks? Of course not. That’s why it was inexplicable. That’s why it was beyond all comprehension. And that’s the same kind of peace that God offers to you and me.
  2. Healthy fear: Proverbs 9:10a says that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That idea has often bothered me. God is the consummate loving Father. If I trust Him, then what have I to fear? And yet, in several scriptures, the Bible suggests that we should fear the Lord (which is not to be confused with fearing our circumstances, because we certainly are not instructed to do that). But let me—or, the sharks actually—give you a little illustration that might shed some light on what healthy fear might look like. On the same SCUBA trip I just described, the inexplicable peace was very suddenly shattered when our boat’s captain was bitten by a shark! He would later argue that the whole thing was his own fault. He was being careless with a crate of fish while trying to set up a photo opportunity for another diver. He had become so familiar with sharks over the years, so comfortable with them, that he forgot briefly how powerful they are. It seems like we can do the same with God. We take His benevolence for granted, and forget to revere Him for who He is.
  3. God’s Sovereignty: On October 31, 2003, Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a shark while surfing. If you’re familiar with her story, you’ll recall that she lost an arm in the attack. And since then, she has been speaking and writing and traveling. And she’s had TONS of amazing opportunities to share her testimony with others. I can’t imagine that she would have been anywhere near as powerful a witness for God if she hadn’t gone through what she did. Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Bethany is living proof of that.
  4. Perseverance: James 1:2-4 instructs us to “consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Remember Bethany, and how I said she’s been speaking, writing, and traveling over the last decade? Well, she’s also been SURFING! I don’t know if you’ve tried surfing before, but I have and I couldn’t do it. Not with two arms. So the idea of surfing with one arm (and professionally, at that) blows me away. And it wasn’t easy for her to get back to that point. But she persevered. And now she is a witness, a role model, and a hero of the faith.

Yep, I’ve learned a lot from sharks over the years. Now I hope you can say that you have, too. Happy Shark Week, everyone!

Little Things

I have always said that I was not going to be the kind of mom who would fight with my kids over the “little things,” like how they wanted to dress or wear their hair. This week, I had one of my first opportunities to follow through on that promise (aside from Tijge’s ongoing insistence on wearing rain boots almost every day last year). You see, my mom had given Tijge some wall decals for his bedroom, and he asked if we could put them up. Well, I am what you might call a Type A “artist,” which just means that I have a hint of creativity overwhelmed by a strong dose of reality. So of course, I had some ideas of my own for how we could arrange the decals.

But you can probably guess where this is going. Tijge also had his own ideas. So, with just a little bit of help and guidance, I let him make the creative decisions about decal placement. And you can probably also guess, looking at the picture below, that he did things a little differently than I might have, if I’d been the one with creative license.

 

IMG_6798

 

And even though it wasn’t how I would have done it, Tijge sure had fun peeling off decals, and putting them on the wall. First, he would pick out a decal and use his fine motor skills to peel it off the backing. Then he practiced a bit of hand-eye coordination by having to keep the pieces from overlapping or folding up and sticking to themselves. He also had to do some problem solving when a decal didn’t fit where he wanted it, or when there was an air bubble that needed to be smoothed out. He exercised some creativity with the engine that he decided was going backwards down a hill, and with the “smoke” coming out of the smokestacks. He was very excited about the whole process, and about how proud I was as I pulled out the camera to get a picture of his masterpiece.

So I guess, if you think about it, this wasn’t really a little thing after all. It was a big thing, just not in the way I would have expected.