Signs of the Times

The World it is a ‘changin’.

Today I was browsing through the girls section at Target while I waited on a prescription.  I was pretty disappointed in the offerings.  The shirts were cute, bright, colorful but just about every single one of them carried thinly disguised political messages and worldliness not appropriate for children.

I’m not a prude.

But when I cam across this shirt, complete with “save the world” and a sexy cut-out over the chest area I was straight-up appalled.  31753187_10160441488800074_4613049361306222592_nThis shirt was a small in the girl’s section.  The size my daughter wears.  She is five years old, people.

What is the World coming to?

I’m not one to boycott but c’mon, Target.  This is blatant sexualizing of our young girls.  This is evil.

Just like the frog in the slowly heating water, there are forces seeking to desensitize us to the advancing forces of evil in our culture.

A few weeks ago I was in the waiting room at the dentist office when I flipped through a People magazine.  I haven’t looked through one in a few years.  And I was shook, as the kids are saying nowadays.  There were certain messages and agendas being pushed on every other page.  It isn’t a just a shallow celeb gossip magazine anymore, it’s a delivery system for propaganda.

The point of all this being; our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to the beliefs held by people of faith.  In the future, we will not be able to quietly walk the line.  We’re going to become increasingly counter cultural.  We’re going to have to take our stand with the Word as culture becomes increasingly antagonistic towards it’s ancient wisdom.

Children need to be protected.

Sexuality is not merely a vehicle for our own physical gratification.

We’re going to have to draw a line somewhere.  Whatever that means for us, however we feel led.  I’m still very much a “Jesus loves you” type of believer but I also know that there is a coming judgement.  I also believe that we are heading into a tailspin that will signal the end of days.  At least, for Earth as we know it.

We need to interpret the signs of the times, as Jesus said.

In Luke 21 Jesus talks about an increase in wars and natural disasters and the persecution believers will face-  “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name.  And so you will bear testimony to me.  But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.  For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.  You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.  Everyone will hate you because of me.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  Stand firm, and you will win life.”.. “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.  People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.  At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.  When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”Luke 21:12-19, 25-28

Does that fill anyone else with a sense of urgency?  I get goosebumps and I must admit that even as a little girl I had the sense that I would have to face these days.  Of course, Jesus said that no one would know the time or the hour.  However,  we can and should be wise and alert to the times.  Even if this doesn’t happen in our lifetimes it can’t hurt to live with a sense of expectancy and keep short accounts with our God.

“Dear Lord, help us to be lights shining ever brighter in this increasingly darkened culture.  Help us to kind and gracious but in no way compromising.  Grant us wisdom.  Give us your peace.  Thanks you that you won the victory and we have nothing to fear.  In Jesus name, Amen.” 

 

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Tale of a Ficus

I love indoor plants but I’m definitely not a green-thumbed fairy when it comes to caring for them.  I try, Lord knows I do.  But I’ve killed my fair share.

I had a ficus tree that wasn’t doing well.  I moved it into the basement so I wouldn’t have to look at another plant failure.  It sat down there, woefully neglected, for months.  It collected dust and lost it’s remaining leaves.

A few months ago I was cleaning out the basement and had to contemplate the fate of my failing ficus.  I decided it needed another chance.

I lugged it up two flights of stairs and stuck it in the shower to wash the dust off and hopefully infuse new life.  I put it in a prime location with bright but indirect sunlight.  I gave it water enriched with minerals.

It started to bloom and come back to life.  It’s still a bit scraggly but seeing new little baby leaves coming to life makes me happy. 20180501_130314

That’s just what Jesus does with us.  (you knew I was turning this into a spiritual metaphor, right??)  He lugs our dusty butts out of the cellars we’ve been languishing in.  He nourishes us with gentle care until new life bursts forth.  Where other people might see something to be tossed out, he sees potential. 20180501_130322

“A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’”  ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-8

We go through seasons where we might be pretty dry.  Maybe God is digging around in our soil and it is uncomfortable.  Maybe he’s trimming off some dead branches.  Maybe it feels like a full on pruning.  But what feels like death is the precursor to fresh life.  He’s clearing away what is hindering us and weighing us down.  His goal isn’t the cutting away, but in the fresh life that will follow. basic-shrub-pruning-8

“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” 1 Cor. 3:7

“Dear Heavenly Father, help us to trust you.  We ask that you would flood our lives and personal challenges with fresh life.  Help us to flourish under your gentle and constant light.  We pray that we would see you move in new ways.  We thank you that you are always moving, always speaking- we just need to listen.  Help us to fully lean in to you as you cause us to grow.  Amen” 

Waiting for the Son

My son missed school Monday for another doctor appointment.  The previous round of antibiotics had failed to clear up an increasingly serious staph infection.  He did find a “diamond” in the parking lot though, so that made it all ok 😉 20180423_101234.jpg

While we waited to see the doctor he asked about his birth story.  Well, he asked if he had ever had a medical emergency that was life threatening and then I told him about his dramatic entrance into the world.

It was a chilly January morning and my husband had left for work, which at the time was a 50 minute commute.  I was laying in bed with contractions (I wasn’t sure if they were the real deal or not) when my water broke.  By the time my husband rushed back home to drive me to the hospital, I was in full on, active labor.

As we drove to the hospital I saw the most beautiful sunrise.  I thought, in the calm between contractions, “what a beautiful day to be born”.  By the time we got to the hospital I was almost fully dilated and all the jostling about caused the umbilical cord to prolapse (he was still in, the umbilical cord had left the building!) so with every contraction his oxygen supply was being cut off and his heart rate was dropping.  The room filled up with people ready to do an emergency cesarean section, as his life was in very real danger in those tense moments.  But I was able to push him out in a record 4 pushes.  Pushing for his life really, not to mention the fear of being cut open.

He was born blue and motionless.  They whisked him away to revive him with oxygen.  He was totally fine.  When we were cleared to visit him in the nursery I remember every other baby was wailing away but not Gabe.  He was looking around, very still and quiet, just taking everything in.

I think so much of life is like that.  Joy and pain intermingled.  The joy of a child but the pain in bringing forth new life.  shutterstock_112249904

When we’re weak and hurting the enemy likes to whisper in our ear, “you’re hurting and alone because God doesn’t really love you.  You’ll always be a failure.  You’ll never succeed.  I own you.”

What the enemy doesn’t want us to know is that the pain we feel is often the birth pangs that precede new, fresh life bursting forth- if we don’t give up in the dark stretches of the night.  We have a birthright.  We are true heirs.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

God is writing a story with our lives.  There will be twists and turns, pain and discouragement… but also beauty and marvelous light breaking forth.

“But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2

Refuse to give up or lose faith.  We know who has the final say.  We know who writes the final chapter.

“Lord Jesus, thank you that we know that you have NOT left us here on Earth as orphans.  You promised that you would never leave us nor forsake us.  We thank you that we never have to carry our heavy burdens alone.  We pray that your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven, and most especially- in our own Hearts.  May we honor you name with our lives. Amen” 

Spring, Hope

It was a really tough weekend.  A round of antibiotics had failed to heal up painful skin infections on my boy.  He wasn’t sleeping much because of the pain.

My husband and I have both been really weary.  Our anniversary passed (again) with a sick kid and heavy hearts.

We have both been grappling with our faith in this mess.  One thing though that I keep thinking about is the life of the Apostle Paul.  He went through so many crazy hard things, so many moments where he would have been justified in throwing in the towel and deciding maybe following Jesus wasn’t worth it.

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea,  I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.  I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” 2 Cor. 11:24-27

How has our Americanized, comfort-centered thinking colored our view of Christianity?  We think (if we’re willing to admit it) that if we are good people, pray, go to church, etc. that we should get some kind of a blessed (charmed) life.  When that doesn’t work out we are bewildered and our flimsy faith teeters.

But what if God isn’t after our comfort but in refining our faith?  What if he doesn’t want content pew-fillers but believers on fire for eternity?  Believers who realize that our time here on Earth is about so much more than seeking our own temporal happiness?

The prayer of my heart is, “Lord help me to learn the lessons you have for me here, in this tough place.  Do a work in me that can’t be accomplished any other way.  Our baby boy belongs to you and we know you hold him and his future in your hands.  Whom else have we in Heaven but you?  You alone have the words that bring eternal life.  Therefore, we will put our trust in you.”  

Spring finally came to Minnesota.  A praise-a-lullah!  Yesterday I took my kids to a (yet) deserted beach and had my son reveal his wounded flesh to the intense UV rays.  He actually slept last night and looks much better today.  20180423_153150We’re hopefully going to go back for more old school, helio-therapy.  healing power of sunlight

A verse I am praying is “He sent out his word and healed them..” Psalm 107:20  I am thanking God that he is sending out His word to heal Gabe.  We want to thank him in advance.  😉  In the mean time we do everything we can in the natural, while God works things out in the supernatural.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

We believe in miracles but sometimes God has something better in store than that instant miracle.  He sees the big picture.  He is GOOD.  He wants our trust.  It matters how we respond to the trials he allows.  It matters for eternity.

Crown of Life

I’ve been in that familiar place again, battling discouragement.

My son has been battling for so long.  First eczema.  Then topical steroid withdrawal.  Now residual skin infections and rashes that don’t seem to budge for nothing.

God only knows the pain we’ve experienced.  I say “we” because there is no pain like watching your baby suffer.  God only knows the tears.  The cries.  The sheer wretchedness.

The battle rages on.

I was reminded recently that sometimes there aren’t any words.  Or at least, words that should be spoken.  I was talking to a family member about trying to find God’s purpose in suffering and was barely even able to speak my piece before being barraged with a tidal wave of insensitive, unwanted advice.  When someone has been through a trial like that, really- they just want to be heard.  I know it is in our human nature to try to give a quick answer (when there isn’t one) and sometimes trite words of wisdom do far more harm than good.  I’ve had to wrestle through anger and just sheer weariness.  So please, if you know someone going through a tough trial; just be there for them.  Don’t pretend like you know what they are going through or dish out advice.  Just listen.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

I try to be gracious because, really, sometimes we just have no idea.  I know I can look back on some things I said and did that were horribly insensitive, just because I simply didn’t know.  Walking through heartache, especially an extended season where there’s no end in sight, has a way of bringing humility that can’t be gained any other way.

What God has been speaking to me lately has been about the crown of victory.

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Revelation 3:11

If you are a believer, you have an incredible inheritance.  You are already seated in Heavenly places.  You have a crown and you are royalty.  God wants you to become an overcomer.  If we didn’t have battles to fight, Goliaths to overcome- our stories wouldn’t be very interesting, would they?  We have a crown on our heads but a sword in our hands.  There are battles to be fought, giants to be defeated. 93cc36ecef5a2ed8211337bd08e96c82

Keep your chin up.  Keep fighting.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book….Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.”  Psalm 56:8, 2 Cor. 4:17

When Winter Stretches On

I woke up this morning to find a fresh three inches of snow outside… oh-come-on

Of course we would get three inches of snow the day before Easter.

I sit here chuckling to myself.  It’s such a parallel of what I’ve been thinking on lately.

I had been going through a great time of renewed intimacy with Christ.  I felt, in my heart, that He was wanting me to hope again. Wanting me to pray big prayers.

I started praying with renewed faith.  Praying prayers both big and small.  Serious and frivolous.  I know God cares about it all.  He knows our wants and our needs.  Our hopes and our dreams.  The prayers we can only whisper under our breathe to Him because they are just too personal to share with anyone else.

And things in my life got worse.  I’m having issues with my job.  My son, who had taken major steps towards healing, has regressed.  Circumstances have gotten me feeling oppressed and “under” everything.

What the heck?

I was complaining about all of this to my husband the other night.  We’re were both just stumped.  The ache in our heart, the question hanging heavily in the air- When, God?  When are things going to get better?  Are things ever going to get easier?

I went upstairs and was brushing my teeth when the question arose in my spirit- would I worship and serve and love my God even if I never saw his manifest blessings in my life?  Even if those hopes and dreams, so private and treasured in my heart, never came to pass?  Would I serve and worship God solely based on who He is?  

When you’ve been waiting for your spring to come and you wake up to find three inches of snow on the ground…. sometimes that’s life.  We have to settle in our hearts that God is God.  That we will worship come what may.  

We know spring will come.  We don’t know when.  But that is why we need faith.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” John 1:4

“Thank you Jesus, that you are our life and the light to all mankind.  We thank you for the unimaginable sacrifice you made for us on the cross.  We know that you are a God who richly blesses.  We know that you are worth following even when you lead us through difficult circumstances and the answers elude us.  We love you and dedicate our lives to making you known. Amen” jezus-christus-opstanding

 

Miracles and the Mundane

Last night was rough.  Major struggle bus rough. b0ef15e95cf662961b5a62c3103b9ae2 I had to close at my store and then I came home to find I had been put smack dab middle into some serious family drama.  Then my daughter got sick and was up half the night emptying her stomach contents into blanket after blanket.  I finally dragged myself out of bed after giving up on more sleep at about 5 am after round five; stomach evacuation.

My husband had to stay home with our daughter, who was still feeling pretty crummy.  I brought my nephews and my son to church anyways.  It’s Palm Sunday!  I was going to church, come hell or highwater.  Everyone was tired from Shiloh’s late night cookie tossing and screaming in distress and the boys were fidgety and I felt disappointment sinking in.

I don’t get to see these boys enough and I was really hoping that the time would be a bit more idealistic.  But such is life.  Sometimes we need to let go of our unmet expectations to embrace the beauty unfolding before our eyes- in our imperfect reality.

Later in the day we went to visit my Dad for his 61st birthday.

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My Papa

My husband ran out to Caribou to get us some coffee (he’s a saint!).  He took forever but I didn’t really think much of it.

 

We had a great visit and as we were pulling away from their driveway my husband told me why he had been so long getting the coffee.

He had seen a homeless man standing outside.  Heart moved; he had brought the man coffee, food and some cash.  He took time to talk to the man and ask him his name, so that he could pray for him.

As he told me my eyes swelled with tears.  I love this man and I am blessed.  I am blessed to be a blessing.

Life isn’t perfect.  Some days you are tired.  Some nights you are up cleaning up puke when you’re exhausted.  But there is still so much beauty to be found when we look beyond our own circumstances.  When we realize how blessed we truly are.  When we are able to show the love of Jesus.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

You are blessed.  You are loved.