Thursday, August 8, 2019

26 years

26 years ago yesterday, we said "I do". It's been one heck of a ride, and I can't imagine a better roller coaster partner than my man. So... in honor of 26 years, here's 26 reasons I still do....

1. He says "I love you" with words and actions.
2. He always keeps his word.
3. He cleans the kitchen after I cook dinner. Every. Single. Night.
4. He has fun with me, but never fun at my expense.
5. He still opens the doors for me. All of them. Every time.
6. He has laundry folding parties with me.
7. We are still honeymooning. Yep, that's exactly what I mean.
8. He goes along with my wild ideas, particularly with decorating.
9. He hears my dreams and makes them happen.
10. He never lies to make me feel better. He's honest with me always.
11. He knows I'm a strong woman, but still takes care of me as if I needed it.
12. He does the bills and gives me a "report" of where we are financially. It's not because he thinks I'm too dumb to do it. He just knows I hate doing it, but wants to make sure we are on the same page.
13. He calls me "Bird".
14. He's the best human I know. Seriously. The VERY BEST HUMAN EVER.
15. He made me my farm table, then helped me find a house that it would fit in when we moved.
16. He cries with me.
17. He holds my hand.
18. He dates me.
19. He writes me love letters.
20. He is the best dad around, and teaches me how to parent well.
21. He is interested in the things I enjoy.
22. He is my #1 fan in everything.
23. He tells me I don't look like a hooker when I'm wondering if my outfit is ok.
24. He sends me texts throughout the day just to tell me he's thinking about me.
25. He takes care of himself physically so that we can live a long life together.
26. He's all mine, every day of every year. And it just keeps getting better.

Love you, Jeff. Here's to the rest of our years together! I will always choose you.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Thoughts on Holy Week...

We are in the midst of Holy Week, the most significant week ever for those of us who profess to follow Jesus. I’ve been a follower of Jesus for 28 years now, and I have been in church my entire life, so suffice it to say that I’ve had a lot of Holy Week teaching in my years. But if I’m brutally honest, a lot of it has just skimmed the surface of my heart. Sure, I know all the right things to say. I know that the week signifies when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey just as the prophecies foretold. I know that he cleared the temple when he found money changers cheating people. I know that Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. I know Judas Iscariot  made negotiations to betray Jesus. I know about the Last Supper with his disciples and how he washed the feet of those men that night. I know how Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, and it was there that Judas betrayed him with a kiss. I know Jesus was taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the Pharisees began to make their case against him. I know that he was eventually sentenced to death on the cross- a horrific and torturous death. I know about the nails and the crown of thorns. I know how he breathed his last breath, then was buried in a borrowed tomb, and three days later arose from the dead just as He proclaimed he would. 

Chances are, you’ve heard the story as well. And that’s precisely the problem.

We still think of it as just a story. We treat it as a made-up story with tragedy and a fairy tale ending, and we miss out on the heart of it. 

I’m experiencing Holy Week differently this year. I’m trying to sit with the reality of what happened during this week all those years ago and how it’s still so real and beautiful and transforming today. I’m trying to grasp the GRACE of Holy Week. Too often, we miss this part. We are too busy trading the Cross for Easter baskets full of eggs and candy, and trading the crown of thorns for frilly dresses and bonnets. 

Please don’t hear me say that I’m a hater of Easter traditions. If that’s all you hear from this writing, you’ve missed my point entirely. I’m just saying that I’ve been guilty in the past of focusing on the outward and man-made traditions of Easter that I miss the holiness. I don’t want to be guilty of allowing a bunny or dresses or baskets or honey-baked ham or “Up From the Grave He Arose” be what is worshipped instead of a Savior who gave himself up out of obedience to the Father for the atonement of sin once and for all. 

When I think of Easter, I think of healing. Isaiah 53:5 tells us that “by his stripes we are healed”. It’s true. The work is already done; the healing is ours for the taking. It seems too simple, doesn’t it? I get that. But let me tell you this: I have experienced His healing- physically, spiritually and emotionally. I KNOW it’s real. My life is a living testimony of the healing power of Jesus. And Easter is what made it possible. When Jesus died on that cross, it was because he was being obedient to his father to carry the sin of the world on himself. He who knew no sin bore ours. But if the story ended there, that’s not Easter. You see, Jesus defeated death when three days after he was crucified, he rose again to life. No other god of any religion can say they worship a living God. The same power that resurrected Jesus from the tomb can resurrect a marriage that is dead, a relationship that has lost its life, an addiction that is killing you slowly, a mind that tells you that you’ll never be ok. You have healing, and I have healing, because Jesus is alive. 

But Easter also makes me think of redemption. Sometimes life hands us things we’d rather not hold. Sometimes we find ourselves facing situations that seem daunting, impossible even. And there are days when we feel the air has been sucked out of the room, and we are just struggling to survive. And it’s in those times when the redemptive power of Easter is alive. Just as the resurrected body of Jesus was restored to fullness, we are too. When we surrender to him, all the broken pieces of our hearts and lives are redeemed. We find purpose in our pain, ministry in our messy-ness, testimonies that point to the power of a loving God who restores. We find that our scars tell a story of his power, emphasized in our weakness. 

Friends, Easter is real. And it’s not a bunny or painted eggs or pastel dresses and pictures in front of the freshly planted flower beds. It’s a bloody Savior, broken body on display for a crowd who hurled insults at him. It’s a council of Religious leaders that preferred to kill an innocent man than admit they were wrong about their teachings and religious practices. It’s a mother watching her son die in agony. It’s the Messiah, feeling the weight of humanity’s sin and feeling separated from His Father for the first time ever. It’s darkness, death and destruction.

But it’s also light bursting forth from the tomb when death was defeated forever. It’s victory when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. It’s beauty of obedience even to death. It’s LIFE arising from death. It’s PURPOSE. It’s HOPE. It’s GRACE. It’s HOLINESS

And it’s ours.

May the reality of Easter envelop your heart this week. If you don’t know this Savior Jesus, I’d love to introduce you. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

7 Years...

It's been 7 years, but I can remember it like it was 7 hours ago. I sat at the kitchen table with my son, going over his homeschool assignments for the day As I  looked over his work, I asked him a simple question without ever looking up. He didn't answer me. When I looked up, I didn't see defiance or a sullen teen who simply wasn't answering his mom. I saw defeat, deep sadness, hopelessness. I saw tears running down his face. Something was not right.  And then I heard these words, "Mom, I'm not ok. I need help".

Those words began a journey that saved my son's life. He was in a deep depression, and told us later that he had a suicide plan he intended to carry out. That day, something within him fought for help, and he put aside his pride, fear, and doubt, and let it out. To say I'm thankful for his cry for help seems so small.

What I'm thankful for is a son who is about to turn 23, who smiles and laughs and is pursuing his dream. What I'm thankful for is the opportunity to watch him heal, to watch him learn to love life again, to watch him love others fiercely who have walked or are walking through this kind of pain. I'm immensely thankful for the chance to hear him play the drums, to hug his sweaty neck, to hear his heart about the things he's passionate about. I'm thankful to pick up my phone and see a text from him saying "I love you mom". I'm thankful, alright. My heart is overjoyed that I can celebrate today as an anniversary of the greatness of God who brought healing to my son rather than the anniversary of the day we lost him.

Let that sink in. It isn't lost on me that today could hold such vastly different emotions for us as parents. Today we could be reminiscing on a life that was, and instead we have the joy of celebrating a life that IS.

I'm so proud that my son made a man's decision that day- to fight against the idea that 'real men don't cry' or that it's weak to ask for help. He made a plea that day, and because of it, he's alive today- thriving in his dream of pursuing his music, in love with a beautiful young lady, and surrounded by family and friends who love him like crazy.

Bryan, I'm so glad you made that choice 7 years ago. I'm so thankful to see how far you've come. I'm proud of how you are there to help others walking through depression and suicidal thoughts because you get it. I'm proud to call you mine, and I'm forever grateful to God for allowing me the blessing of being your mom.

If you're reading this and struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts today, please don't wait to ask for help. You're worth it.