Monday, December 31, 2012

Laundry and Gummy Bears

Wake up...rub eyes...brush teeth...bathroom like mad...dress children...sort laundry...wash coffee..move like, gummy bears... laundry!...wake up....

Have you noticed how life can be a bit unrelenting? It knocks you when your down and doesn't stop! It is sometimes a bad record on repeat! 

Now, all of the mundanities of life are not bad. The routines bring special delights and comforts, like the morning greeting of a four year old or the cuddles and smiles of a new baby. But the truth matter how much laundry you finish, there will always, always be more laundry waiting for you. It will never end.

My mom always...always did laundry. I think the only time her washer or dryer was not running was in the middle of the night, when she went to bed at 1am! (She was a night owl to the core!) That is one thing I missed when I moved out of her house was the smell she managed to perfect in her laundry. Some beautiful mix of Tide and Downey...just perfect! I can never manage to get that smell and may never smell it again...

We can rush through the laundry list of life or enjoy the quiet moments: the hidden sock or the refreshingly familiar smell of fabric softener, or the remarkable gummy bears that managed to stick permanently to the insides of my daughter's jean pockets (yep...should have checked that!). 

Tonight is New Year's Eve. A moment for welcoming new beginnings and making changes. Also, a night for making resolutions that we will probably fail. However, I guarantee that if the Lord prevails, we will be doing a lot of laundry in the new year!

Don't just let the dirty clothes pile up. Keep going, keep walking, keep running. I want my life to bring glory and pleasure to my Jesus! Even when I am doing mundane activities.

Here's the challenge in the New Year: Glorify God in the small things and be faithful...even to do the laundry!

"One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much" ~ Luke 16:10

Love Love, 

A Gaping Hole

As the holidays round the corner to a brand New Year, I peer into the distance with an odd mix of emotions. Anticipation for what God will bring, fear of losing others in my life, and loneliness from the missing mama in my life.

Christmas came and went. My dad made a decision to do Christmas in honor of mom. She loved giving gifts! She used to spend months finding the perfect gifts for everyone in her family. She would scour the internet, hit all the shops and peruse the aisles. Her favorite thing, my dad reminded all of us, was to set out all the gifts under the Christmas tree with one of her kids receiving remarkably less than the others. This son, or daughter;-)...would open presents, watch others open presents and sit slightly sullen in the corner. Little did we know that from the garage or bedroom or backyard would emerge a beautiful, bright, large or small gift! One year, when I was 11, it was a spectacular drum set for me (so I could play like Larry Mullen from U2!)

So this year, we exchanged gifts and my brother David received the secret present, a fantastic golf driver! It was an enjoyable time and Emma was especially hyper until 10:30pm playing with her new RC cars from Papa.

In the middle of the gift exchange, there would be moments we talked about mom and felt a little joy with a twinge of sadness. Christmas was so her "thing." I drove away feeling as if there was a huge gaping hole in the fabric of our lives, this hole that we all wanted to sew together, but it was just...gone.'s hard to deal with loss. That emptiness will never be filled again. Yes, I know my mama is dancing and singing with Jesus right now and that I will see her again around the corner! But...for now, she is gone. No more phone calls, text messages, Bible studies, late night advice, silly words, surprising emails, encouraging gifts, divinely inspired blog entries... just gone.

I remember so many beautiful times with my mom, I just don't want to forget. I don't want to lose those memories. So I write them down or I look through pictures. How do you deal with loss of a loved one? What helps and what does not?

I am so thankful for the people who see me and give me a hug, or just smile and say, "I love you."

In the gaping hole of loss, it really helps to reflect on the power, might, and love of God. I take comfort in the fact that His Hands are holding us. Those nail scarred hands which made the deepest demonstration of love, are holding our lives together.

Yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me ~ Isaiah 49: 15b-16

Jesus, has inscribed you and me on the palms of His hands. The nail scarred hands (or wrists possible) serve as a reminder of the cost. Jesus laid down His life to give us eternal life, without which I would be utterly in despair. When I think of my mom, I have a peace and assurance that she is in heaven.

Colossians is a great book! It is all about the supremacy of Christ and how everything, literally everything, is held together by Him, the Creator God. In light of this knowledge, our only response is to gape in awe of His Presence! If we are living in His presence, then the natural effect will be that of holiness.

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.~ Colossians 3:1-4

Seek those things above. What a challenge!? Am I daily seeking Christ? In all that I do, am I bringing glory to Him? Hmmmm... it's a tough one. I want to say yes, but sometimes I am so caught up in examining others or trying to frantically run from one thing to the next that I miss sight of God! Amazingly, He will use me for His plan, but I don't want to be so nearsighted that I miss it!

So, as I stare into the New Year and a seemingly gaping hole, I am challenged to seek eternity. To step out in faith. To go to uncomfortable places and meet the needs of the people around me.

And at the core of all my life, I am comforted by the realization that His Hands are holding me. He will carry me through the difficult days and moments, He is big enough.

Do you have a story of how God is holding you right now? Share it!

The song of the day: "Your Hands" by JJ Heller. It was in my mom's recently added playlist titled "Worship." 

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
Lisa, sitting pensive and pretty (I think I look a bit like her here:-)
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

See you around the corner!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Looking Up

"Merry Christmas! Jesus Loves You!" In a merry time that is shrouded with grief, those words bouncing happily off the lips of my 4 year old Emma are truly beautiful. As she misses her beloved Nana, she genuinely rejoices in the faith and hope that Nana is celebrating in heaven. Her joy is contagious.

As we visited a nursing home yesterday, Emma, full of sweetness and delight, placed candy canes on the laps and in the shaky hands of surprised residents. Some, would not remember her, others lit up the moment she entered with her bouncy, golden curls and saw them, not as old or sick, but as a person worthy of love and joy. I have never seen anyone so happy to give and bless others. She truly has a gift and I pray that gift remains.

While walking through one corridor, we noticed that there was a church service going on. We did not want to disturb those attending, but the nurse assured us we could quietly give them to those sitting outside the chapel door. One man remembered Emma from a previous visit, "Hi, Emma!" He smiled and she smiled back.

Just as Emma gives her third or fourth candy cane, the minister, reading from a script in a folder, begins to say, "Teach the children about the candy cane. Teach the children that the candy cane symbolizes the shepherd's staff. Teach the children that the candy cane symbolizes the stripes of Jesus blood shed for them and the white symbolizes the purity that comes only through His forgiveness."

It was almost as if it was scripted and Emma was cast to come in on cue! Really, God!? That's pretty cool. Here is a child passing out candy canes while the minister is reading and exhorting to teach the children about the candy canes. Beautiful and unexpected. I am so thankful He lets me see His presence in our lives.

I pray that God truly touches the people we met, Linda, Josephine, Marlene, Joseph, Emma, Kay, Carlos, Oscar, the man who loves chocolate and the woman with the earrings and so many others whose name is escaping me, but God knows their name.

In a time where I struggle to remember that God is good ALL the time, I glance at Emma and Evan. Their sweet faces bring me back to that place of faith. The faith that my own mother taught me and clung to until the day she died.

I read a card a friend of mine wrote to my mother about a year ago, thanking her for a gift card and a wallet with a picture of an anchor on it. The anchor truly spoke to my friend and reminded her to keep anchored in the hope that Jesus brings through truly difficult times, and my friend has truly experienced difficult times. I pray she still glances at that anchor wallet and is reminded of the anchor of hope.

"we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." ~ Hebrews 6:18b-20

He is our Hope. My mom, Jake LaJoy, DeDe, Moses, Abraham, Rahab, Ruth, Mary, Joseph, Isaac, King David, and so many others have entered the Presence behind the veil.

Do you trust Him? My prayer has been that those around me grieving, my daddy especially, would be see His Presence in their lives, at unexpected moments and when crying out to Him.

I love you all so much. Seek His face today and I know He will be seen.

Click on the link for a beautiful song, "All I Need Is You, Lord"
When You said, 'Seek My face,'
My heart said to You, 'Your face, Lord, I will seek.'" ~ Psalm 27:8

Saturday, December 8, 2012

As YOU Wish...A Look at True Love

Princess Bride. Easily one of my favorite movies of all times, embodies the idea of true, sacrificial love... with a comic twist! The titular princess Buttercup falls in love with her servant Wesley only to hear of his death on the high seas. Years later, she is announced as the evil Prince Humperdink's new fiancé. Her nightmares, involving a hideous peasant woman with nose moles, scream at her for being engaged to a man she does not love.
What is the difference between the servant Wesley and Prince Humperdink? Besides the obvious social status, to Buttercup, the difference is love. Love that is willing to say, "As you wish" and serve another. I find that in ministry, as well as in family, true love is the key.

As I stare at my family, my kiddos and the man who so faithfully walks in integrity and love towards God and our family, I am convicted by love.

Jesus loves me. The classic childhood song resonates in my soul. And His love is true and sacrificial. He says to the Father, "As You Wish" and shows us an example.

In my life, am I fully surrendered in love to the Father? Do I greet each day saying to the Lord, "As You Wish." Not, "As I Wish."

Walking with Jesus is not about being perfect, it is about love. Only in glorifying God do we find true satisfaction. I know this all to well, but rarely admit it to myself. I think everyone knows this in their heart.

"God--His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God besides the Lord?" Psalm 18:30-31

Who is God besides the Lord? I will trust in Him.

Evan "Little Man"
Sometimes, I am not the most loving mother. I know...shocking! :-) Sometimes, I am not the most loving wife... But God is Love. When my daughter does something that is so obviously not loving (like smushing her baby brother's face with a baby wipe...) I remind her what love is. "How do you like to be treated?" Then we pray for God's help, to show us how to love.

If we love, we do no wrong! Pretty awesome! This is what Romans 13:8-10 says, "the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."

Ok, all right. So what?

Today, I greet the morning by turning to My Heavenly Father and saying, "As You Wish." It is my expression of love. I trust Him. He is faithful. Jesus endured the cross for my salvation. I can endure this life for Him. But I want my life to be marked by love. True Love:-)

My pretty mama and baby Evan:-)
PS. Thank you all for your prayers and support through a difficult time. More than you know, you have shown me love, true love and I will cherish that for the rest of my days!

(Blessings- Enjoy this version from Shane and Shane)