I have been reading in Judges lately, and over and over you find verses that read, "And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord..."
Oddly enough, I found great comfort in those words. You see, there were seasons in my life when I would have read those verses and thought, "Seriously?! When will they learn their lesson?" But this past week, I just kept thinking about how thankful I am that we serve a God we can cry out to each and every time we fail...because that is something we do again and again.
I have some perfectionistic tendencies and I strongly dislike making the same mistake twice. And, sometimes, I find myself putting that same pressure on my children. "How many times should we have to remind you...throw the snack wrapper away!" or "Be careful with your tone of voice," or "Think of others more highly than yourself...honor and prefer."
Truthfully, sometimes I feel like, "And the children of the house again did what was evil in the sight of their mother..." Anybody?
I was reminded of a story I heard several years ago. A mom, at the end of the day, began to unload on her husband...the kids did this, and the kids did that...she was venting, getting out all the challenges and frustrations of her day. Her husband...very brave husband...responded, "And just when did you stop sinning?"
I remember hearing that and thinking...I am expecting a level of perfection out of my children to the point of growing impatient and frustrated with their sin...but the truth is, I am well aware of my own sin and my need for grace on a daily basis.
As a Mom, I have been feeling challenged by the way God responded to the Israelites' "again" and "again" moments...sometimes there were consequences, sometimes there was supernatural deliverance and grace, but He always heard their cries and He was always with them.
I want my children to know that I will be right here for every "again" and "again" moment in their life. I will love them in and through it...
When we have the thought, "I can't believe they did ________! Again!" How will we respond.
“On this day…the first day of 2019, I am reminding myself that it doesn’t matter how much planning, preparing, or prioritizing I do…365 more days are going to pass by, and they will hold moments I could never see coming.”
Those are words I typed on January 1st of this year…turns out it was true.
On January 9th, I woke up with a sickness that has had me out of commission for almost six weeks. Nope. Didn’t see that coming.
We certainly didn’t kick off 2019 the way I thought we would. Instead of jumping back into life full steam ahead…everything slowed to a screeching halt.
Some of us may be wondering how it's even possible that it's January 1st ...others of us are wondering what in the world took it so long to get here.
Each of us experienced 2018 in a unique way.
Most likely, the year brought laughter and tears. It held dreams that became a reality and dreams that crumbled into pieces. We saw wonder in the eyes of a new Mama as she held her baby for the first time. And we saw the tenacious way a heart holds onto memories as we let go of loved ones. We witnessed the miracle of life...both beginning and the end.
We saw adventure and we saw mundane.
We watched children learn, grow, and accomplish incredible milestones...and then we reminded them to say "thank you," pick up their socks, and throw the trash away at least 2,728 times.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Psalm 23:1-2
Have you ever stopped to imagine what those green pastures would look like?
I've always imagined an inviting scene…beautiful, rolling hills covered in green, plush grass. A gentle breeze would be blowing, and you could see the waves of grass swaying back and forth. It’s a serene, peaceful, and welcoming image.
That was the picture in my mind...until one day when I watched this video. The image in my head was completely challenged...and changed.
This place called “green pastures” in Jerusalem looks much more like a dessert wasteland than rolling meadows. It’s a hillside covered in rocks. How could thatbe “green pastures”?
This is not the image I had in mind.
The guide explained that interspersed among the rocky hillside were moisture filled pockets where grass would grow. I watched as a shepherd led the sheep across the hillside right to the specific places where they would be able to eat.
The sheep had to follow the shepherd if they were to find the grass.
I was reminded of the Israelites who were given manna from God. He gave them manna each and every day with the instruction to take only what they would need for the day. They weren’t supposed to store it up.
I thought about the scripture that says His mercies are new every morning. We are given mercy for the day we’re having…right now.
Our Father gives us what we need for the present moment.
The guide in the video says, “Green pastures are not everything you need for the rest of your life.”
Life doesn’t actually look like frolicking around in a green pasture without a care in the world for the rest of our lives.
Life looks a lot more like needing a Shepherd to lead us to the nourishment we need.
Life looks a lot more like learning to trust the heart of our Shepherd. When we’re following him across a rocky hillside we need to trust that He’s taking us where we need to be.
“Worry is dealing with tomorrow’s problem on today’s pasture.” When we look ahead and wonder just exactly where the Shepherd is taking us…when we strain to see in the distance and, to us, it looks like there’s not a patch of grass to be found…we must trust the Shepherd. (A lot easier said than done…I know.)
“In the dessert you learn that the Shepherd will get you what you need for right now. Ten minutes from now…you trust the shepherd.”
Our Father takes joy in our trust. Over and over in scripture we see people in positions of dependance, trust, and reliance on Him.
The Shepherd wants to be followed. He sets the pace, and He names the destination.
If we find ourselves saying, "This isn't what I thought 'green pastures' meant..." Hang on, trust, and keep following the Shepherd.
Do you ever feel like all you can hear are the lies? There they are like the constant, steady drip of a leaky faucet.
It's national honesty day. So let's get real. The honest truth is this...Some days it seems like no matter how hard I try to stand on truth...I find myself sinking into a pitfall of lies. Anyone else ever feel that way?
A few weeks ago, during church our Worship Pastor began to pray over the ladies in our congregation...it was a prayer he had been praying over his own daughters, "May the loudest voice they hear be the Father's voice."
It wasn't, "May the only voice they hear be the Father's voice," it was "May the loudest voice..."
There are countless voices coming at us, but which voice has our attention? Which voice has our ear?
How many times does it feel like all you can hear are the lies screaming at you?
You know the ones I'm talking about...
You're not enough.
You don't do enough.
You're not smart enough.
You're not good enough.
You're not strong enough.
Early this morning I just wrote. I needed to process. When I started writing I wasn't even sure anyone would ever read the words but me.
The next post I had ready to go was more about building our marriages...about the importance of date nights. In light of circumstances this week and things that have happened even over the last couple of days...I just can't post that. Not now. Not today.
It's still good and I still believe it, and it's still coming. It's just not for now.
Right now I'm mad.
Mad. Disappointed. Hurt. Grieving. Burdened. Sorrowful. Overwhelmed. Shocked. Upset. Angry. Sad. Furious. Confused.
I'm sitting here thinking about the many amazing young gymnasts who lived through hell...feeling trapped and isolated. I'm thinking about the fear and shame these young girls have carried. They were living their dream and then found themselves in the middle of a nightmare.
I'm thinking about the students who just lost their lives at the school shooting in Florida. I'm thinking about the Moms and Dads who sent their kiddos off to school that day with a kiss and never imagined they wouldn't be kissing them good night later that day.
I'm thinking about the precious families in our own church who just lost husbands and fathers in the last two days. It's close to home and it hurts...bad.
These situations have been on replay...running through my mind.
The questions start to flood.
Why? Over and over again...Why?
I'm asking questions, and I know the victims affected, the parents who lost children, and the families around us have to be asking questions too.
It's hard not to. It's hard not to look up and scream, "If You are really good, then why did this happen?!" It's hard not to ask "why" a million times over. It's hard not to wonder, "WHERE WERE YOU?!"
On December 27, 2017, Casey and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary. It seems impossible that it has been fifteen years since we stood at my Grandparents church and said our forever ‘yes’ to each other. Fifteen years since the cold December day that I walked down the aisle…walked towards a much anticipated future with my husband.
Fifteen years since we stood together, surrounded by friends and family, worshipping and sharing communion for the first time as Husband and Wife. Fifteen years since that beautiful day.
How can I feel like that special day was just last week, but at the same time, feel like it was a lifetime ago?
How do fifteen years seem to pass so slowly? Yet, in the blink of an eye, here we are. Time is funny like that.
Time is full of seasons we think will take forever and seasons we wish would last a little longer. You know the seasons I’m talking about - college semesters that seem to drag on, nine long months of pregnancy, or potty training our children. We all, at some point or another, go through a time when we feel like we are moving through life at the pace of a snail in a Nascar race…wondering when, or if, we will ever see the finish line.
I felt like Casey was going to be in medical school f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Then somehow that long awaited day came, and I watched as he walked across the stage, finally becoming Dr. Moss. We were quickly greeted with another season that I knew would never end — pediatric residency. Yet, here we are. It’s been almost eleven years since he finished his residency program.
The snail made it.
Yet the opposite is also true. We experience days so wonderful we wish we could press pause and stay there forever. Could we just slow this day down? Could we just live in this moment a little longer? A day sitting by the ocean reading a good book or watching the sunset on a slow summer evening….If I could have slowed down time when I was rocking my newborn to sleep in the quiet early hours of the morning, I would have. If I could have just paused time as I held my baby girl, kissing that sweet precious face as she curled those tiny fingers around mine, I would have.
Time. Time is precious. Time is a gift.
We can’t predict the future…we can’t know what time has in store for us, but there are things we can be sure of. We can be sure that the hours will keep turning into days…and days into months…and the months into years. And those years will hold the story of our life.
Time is both predictable, yet full of surprises.
The last fifteen years of our life together have seen a lot of joy, a lot of pain, many milestones, things I wish could happen again, and things I would never want to re-live. This morning, I am keenly aware that the next fifteen years will hold much of the same.
In fact, this year alone, will hold much of the same. More joys to be shared and pain to be felt. More milestones to check off. We can be sure 2018 will hold more days we wish would last forever - and days we wish had never happened.
We can spend time planning and preparing for this coming year and how we will spend our time, but time has taught me that I can be certain the days will not always go perfectly. While I can’t see the details that this coming year will hold, there are things I am certain it will bring.
There are things time has taught me to expect.
I can expect that this year will bring days of laughter and days of sorrow. There will be victories, and there will be defeats. There will be new adventures, and there will be old challenges.
We can expect challenges. We can expect sorrow. We can expect opportunities to grow. We can expect the unexpected.
In the same way we see areas in our children that need to grow — Our Father sees those in us, and He’s making plans for us this year. He’s setting us up for growth. If we can see the challenges that lie ahead this year as an opportunity for Christ to do his perfecting work in us - everything changes - even in the challenge we are victorious.
When the challenges come —and we can expect that they will — our great expectation will be the growth, victory, and life on the other side of that challenge. We can expect opportunities to be perfected in Christ.
If we can see every expected challenge and hardship as a chance for Christ to make us more like Him, we will already be taking a step toward victory.
The clock will keep ticking this year. Time will keep passing. Days will come and go. Before we know it, we’ll be staring 2019 in the face. So, how will we choose to use our gift of time this year? How will we spend our hours in 2018? What will get our attention? What and who will we invest in? How will we respond to the expected challenges?
In the same way we can expect joy and sorrow, and opportunities to grow this year, we can expect that Jesus will be our anchor and our steady footing. More sure than those things, more certain than anything is the presence of Jesus in my life.
This year, I can expect that the new mercy of the Lord will greet me with every sunrise. I can expect the steadfast love of the Lord to never fail me.
I can expect Him to see me through all the expected and unexpected days that lie ahead.