7.10.2015

Gospel Reading for Sunday, July 12 Mark 6:7-13

GospelMK 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts. 
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic. 
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. 
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.” 
So they went off and preached repentance. 
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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Last week we read about (but I didn't write about...) how Jesus was rejected in his hometown.  (Mark 6:1-6) 
 Home.  
The place that should always be welcoming and refreshing-- a haven, if you will.  It stings a little to read about people basically calling Jesus an "ordinary" man; dismissing him.

So, now Jesus is calling his closest friends to him and is giving them instructions on how they are to go out and teach.  I mean, they have seen him do miraculous things, so they KNOW he is the real deal...but they also know that he is not honored by everyone.  They know that they will not be welcomed in every place.  If, to some, Jesus is just "the son of the carpenter" then they will absolutely be called "crazy".  It's probably more than a little daunting to have this task set before them.

So, Jesus tells them to buddy up and also, side-note, don't take anything along with you.  Like, as in, nothing.  I'm not going to lie to you, I might have thrown in the towel here.  
"Ok, Jesus, you're asking me to go out and preach repentance. Great.  I'm all for it.  You're asking me to put myself in situations where I am going to be mocked and ridiculed.  Not as awesome, but ok, I can get on board.   And now...now, I can't bring along a second tunic?  I really do want to preach the Gospel, but I just want to look good while I'm doing it."

I think there is always somewhere that we want to draw the line with Jesus.  

We will help this person who needs a friend...until they make me uncomfortable or ask too much of me.  And then I'm done. 

We will give money to those in need...but only a "reasonable" amount.  

We will forgive that person we don't like...but not a fourth or fifth time.  

We will talk about grace being poured out for us...but not really believe it's being poured out for those people.

We will surrender our hearts to Jesus...except for that dark corner in the back where we keep our gossip, lust, gluttony, bitterness, or whatever guilty pleasure we like to hide back there.  

I'm preaching to myself here but I am guessing I'm not alone.  We all have that thing that we are holding onto.  That thing that, when we are holding onto it and Jesus comes near, we start to slowly back away from Him.

Maybe we are fine giving things up for Jesus.  Just not all the things.

But that's what Jesus is asking the apostles to do.  That's what he's asking us to do.  Can you see Him gently taking their hands, asking them to hand over their things?

No food, no sack, no money.  Just trust.  In the One who is able to sustain you in all things.

He is asking us to depend on Him for the grace, for the contentment, for the complete surrender.


6.24.2015

Gospel Reading for Sunday, June 28 Mark 5:21-43

I am not a Bible scholar.  I have no degree in Theology, nor do I claim to have some sort of profound wisdom when it comes to matters of faith.

I am just a person who loves Jesus.  I am a wife and mom and most of the time I have more questions than answers.

I lead a women's Bible study but there are plenty of Tuesday nights where I learn more from the women in attendance than they do from me.

With my Tuesday night gals, I have been studying the upcoming Sunday Gospel readings.  (Which is nice because when we go to church, I am almost always taking at least one little boy to the bathroom during the readings and/or sermon).

As another way to study and process each week's Gospel, I am going to attempt to write about my thoughts here.  I say attempt because you know how I am with the follow-through.  Ahem.

So, read along if you like.  And as I said, expect no major revelations here.  :)

From USCCB.org:

GospelMK 5:21-43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat
to the other side,
a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea.
One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward.
Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying,
“My daughter is at the point of death.
Please, come lay your hands on her
that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him,
and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him.

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.
She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.
Yet she was not helped but only grew worse.
She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd
and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”
Immediately her flow of blood dried up.
She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him,
turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?”
But his disciples said to Jesus,
“You see how the crowd is pressing upon you,
and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
And he looked around to see who had done it.
The woman, realizing what had happened to her,
approached in fear and trembling.
She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you.
Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

While he was still speaking,
people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said,
“Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” 
Disregarding the message that was reported,
Jesus said to the synagogue official,
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside
except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official,
he caught sight of a commotion,
people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them,
“Why this commotion and weeping?
The child is not dead but asleep.”
And they ridiculed him.
Then he put them all out.
He took along the child’s father and mother
and those who were with him
and entered the room where the child was.
He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,”
which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around.
At that they were utterly astounded.
He gave strict orders that no one should know this
and said that she should be given something to eat.

*****************************************************************

Um, wow.  As if I need to say anything after that.  Here we read of two miracles:  Jesus heals Jairus' daughter and he heals a woman afflicted with hemorrhaging.

I asked the ladies at Bible study to think about three questions as we read through:
1.  From this passage, what can we learn about the heart of God?
2.  From this passage, what can we learn about our relationship with God?
3.  What is a practical application for your life this week?

I'll tell you what I felt God teaching me in regards to each of these questions, but by all means, ask Him what He wants to teach you.  These are great questions to think about no matter what scripture passage you're meditating on.

1.
God has a compassionate heart.  And not just in a way where he says "I'm sorry that your daughter is dying.  That's not what I desire for you".  But in a way that says "I will come.  I will walk with you.  I don't want you to go alone.  Let me come and touch her.  Let me gather your family and speak life to your daughter.  Let me prove my faithfulness by making her alive again."

I also learned, though, that Jesus doesn't mind interruption.  Remember he is on his way to heal Jairus' daughter.  When a woman in the crowd touches him, an unclean woman at that, he not only grants her healing but he stops.  God himself stops.  He sees her.  He encourages her and he grants her peace.  He is not too busy for someone who is lowly and struggling and desperate.



As they continue, we see that Jesus has a bigger plan than what we can see and understand in our humanness.  Yes, it's beautiful that Jesus is taking his time and helping people along the way, meanwhile Jairus' daughter has died.  Died.  Jesus could have prevented her death-- either by hurrying the heck up or by curing her from afar.  But he didn't.  I don't know about you, but if I were Jairus, I might be more than a little ticked here.  He comes to Jesus trusting that he will make his daughter well and then she dies.  I am guessing that some of the people that were at Jairus' house missed the miracle.  Have you ever missed it?  I know I have.  And I know there are times when I probably missed a miracle and I didn't even realize it.  These people come to announce the girl's death, they mourn for her.  And I bet some of them walked away before the miracle because Jesus didn't do what they wanted him to do.  Can you relate?  You pray for something miraculous and it doesn't end up the way you wanted it to.  I have prayed these prayers, friends.  I have felt this let down when we get to the eleventh hour and Jesus still hasn't shown up.  Can we trust him?  Even in death?  Can we trust him in the disappointment?  Can we trust that the miracle might be happening in a different way?  In a different time?  This story helps me to say "yes".  Even when I don't feel like it.

I learned that Jesus is less about big spectacles and more about making disciples.  And the way to do that is in smaller groups, in meaningful relationships.  Don't get me wrong, there were obviously times when He worked in the big ways!  But, here are all these people at Jairus' house, doubting, and Jesus?  Jesus puts them all out.  What matters to him in this moment, is taking a few people (the girl's parents, and Peter, James, and John) in to witness this miracle.  In to be changed by what they saw.  Disciples are not usually made in big crowds (of course there are exceptions!)  But, often, disciples are made in quiet, difficult moments, one-on-one with the Lord.




2.
I learned that coming to Jesus takes humility.  In order for us to have an authentic relationship I need to be able to come to him, even when I am unclean.  As one of the ladies at my study pointed out, I sometimes need to be able to push my way through the crowd to get to Jesus. It's not always an easy task.  Sometimes there is so much standing in our way we wonder if it's worth it.  Sometimes the "crowd" between us and Jesus seems daunting, even impossible.  But if we can just get to him.  We know He can make everything right.  I need to come sinful and sorrowful like the woman.  I need to walk with him and wait on his timing like Jairus.

I am called to trust Jesus.  When I am embarrassed.  When the way to him is crowded and overwhelming.  When I don't understand what he is doing.  When his ways are not like my ways.  When he doesn't answer my prayer the way I hoped he would.  He is still good.  Jesus, I trust in you.

I need to remember that some interruptions are God-ordained.  Most of the time I am busy and running around trying to be "efficient" with my time, and, let's be honest, probably annoyed about something or other.  I need to slow and still.  I need to listen to that small voice telling me to reach out.  I need to seize that teachable moment with my kids instead of rolling my eyes.  When we are in true relationship with God, we are listeners.  We are doers.  Regardless of what is happening around us.

I was reminded that I can trust Jesus to care for my children.  It might not look the way I want it to.  But Jesus desires life for my children.  He does not want me to fear.  He wants me to have faith.  Faith in his timing and in his power.  Faith that He loves them more than I ever could.  Faith that He knows the way to give them life.


3.  Practical application?  Well, obviously I have a long list here.  I could have chosen all of these things.  I wanted to narrow it down to one so I am praying about/working on embracing interruptions this week.

Jesus, help me to speak and act intentionally in each moment.



5.21.2015

Lord, help me fake it till I make it.

The thing is, it has been an overwhelming couple of months.

And I know that I probably have an overwhelming 18 years or so in front of me.  Because there is just always something.  Always a new phase, always a child to worry about, a behavior to correct, a heart to shape, a book to read, a scrape that needs a band-aid, a bill that needs to be paid, a decision that needs to be made, dinner to cook, a soccer practice we need to get to...and there is always, always laundry.

This is what the mamas do.  They do all of this hard and holy work all day everyday.  It's miraculous, really.  But it can get pretty overwhelming.

And when I get overwhelmed, I want to hide in my room and come out when life gets easier.  But that is not a thing.

SO, I'm making my list.  So, that instead of hiding, I can go into my room and take a deep breath, and pray that I become this kind of woman in the midst of the overwhelming.  Basically, I'm praying the Lord will help me fake it till I make it.

I will not give up.

I will stay in the pool.

I will depend on God.

I will remember that "my" children belong to the Lord.

I will fight for them not against them.

I will find joy and fulfillment in God alone.

I will enjoy my children.

I will bless my husband.

I will keep my eyes on eternity.

I will speak life.

I will stop to pray.

I will put my phone down.

I will be present.

I will extend grace.

I will not react; I will act purposefully.

I will not hurry.

I will be quick to listen and slow to speak.

I will not have idle hands.

I will remember that holy is hard.  And just because it's hard doesn't mean I'm failing.

I will choose joy.

I will let them be little.

I will allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.

I will love, love, love.


********************************************************************




How do you preach to yourself when you're overwhelmed?




5.13.2015

For the Moms

What can we even say about our moms?  Who has loved us like they have?

I am so blessed to have a mom who is unwavering in her love for me.  I have never doubted it.  We are very different people, but I have always known her love for me.  I am so grateful.  During her last visit, I was watching her play with Silas - this silly card game (if you can even call it that) that Silas made up.  She took the time to sit with him and just be silly.  She let him direct the "game" and she just went along with it.  They sat there for probably a half an hour and he laughed and laughed.  It reminded me of my great-grandma Ruth.  We could always get her to play something ridiculous with us. It's always the small moments that matter, isn't it?  It reminded me I need to slow down.  I need to be silly with my kids and not so structured.  Thanks, Mom. I love you more than words can say.



Joe's mom asked me to call her "mom" when we got married.  I thought it would take some getting used to, but it really didn't.  They have always treated me like a daughter (without the "in-law tagged on the end).  I am blessed to have another mom who listens, encourages, and loves unconditionally.  I will never forget the phone call that brought us to our knees almost three years ago.  Cancer.  I remember standing in their kitchen when she brought out a brush full of hair and announced "it's starting".  I scrubbed that kitchen while she napped like I could somehow scrub the disease away; spilled my tears all over the floor begging God to let her stay.  I am so grateful He said yes.  So grateful.  I love you, Mom.  Thanks for raising the best man I know.


My kids are so lucky to have these two beautiful women as their grandmothers.

Which brings me to my gram.  We have a pretty special relationship.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have close relationships with their grandparents.  I was and am so lucky.  My grandma always says that when she went to stay with my parents the week I was born, she and I would go for walks out on the farm on those warm August nights.  Just the two of us - so Mom and Dad could get some sleep.  She says that's when our bond began.  Being that my mom raised us by herself after my Dad died, my grandparents helped a lot.  We spent nights at their house while my mom traveled for work, they came to tumbling meets and baseball games, took us to practices and made us treats.  I have learned so many things from her.  My grandma showed me what it means to be a wife who blesses her husband.  She always reminds me not to take time with loved ones for granted.  I think one of the biggest things I have learned from her is how to be a woman of prayer.  My grandma is a very faithful woman.  She prays for our family, and for so many others, daily.  I have no doubt that those prayers, woven through the years, have made all the difference.  God bless matriarchs who pray for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

I am thankful for these women.  I am thankful for my Grandma Bea - who I wish I would have had more time with.  We had just kind of figured out our relationship when she was called Home.  I love hearing stories about her (a mom of four boys) and imagining what kind of advice she would give me in raising my little boys to be men.

I am thankful for all the other women who have been motherly to me at some point in my life. The ones who have taken the time to invest in relationship with me, who have taught me how to be a better woman and mom to my kids. Teachers, coaches, mentors.  Too many to list.

I am thankful for all my friends who are "other mothers" to my kids.  These women have helped care for them, have prayed for them, have been examples to them.

I am thankful for my sister-in-law who is an awesome mama to my two nephews.  I am so proud of how she advocates for Jack.  She has handled a difficult diagnosis with grace and love.  She knows the road that lies ahead and she is committed to living in hope for her boys.  Amazing.

I am thankful for my kids' godmothers.  Chrissy, Mary, Angie, and Suzee, where would we be without you?  I am confident that your prayers sustain us on the hard days and inspire the good days.  I have no doubt my kids will be closer to the Lord because of you.

On Mother's Day, I am praying for the friends I have that have lost babies or have lost their moms. I am praying for the friends who want to be moms but aren't.  I know how special days can seem awful sometimes.  I am sorry.  I hope you feel how incredibly loved you are today.

And, of course, I am thankful for my four beautiful blessings that call me "Mom".  I am not a perfect one.  I wish I was better.  And I will keep trying.  But my prayer to God is always this:  "In spite of my failings, let them know Your unfailing love."  Roman, Judah, Silas, and Nora, I hope you will always know my love for you even when I fail.  And I hope that you will come to know and love the One who will never fail you.

Happy Mother's Day

4.13.2015

Welp, it's me again.


Nothing like a five month hiatus to prove that I am not on my A game. 

:)

So, here's the deal.  When the kids do something adorable/hilarious/precious/horrible enough to make me cry but ridiculous enough to make someone else laugh, I make a little note of it in my phone in the handy dandy Notes app.

Which is all well and good until you get a new phone.  Don't worry, I didn't lose them, they are just saved to an external hard drive which I currently cannot locate.  See what I mean with the A game?

I'll give you what I've got off the top of my head and I'll post the other gems probably about a year from now.

**********************

Nora is now seven months old.  What?  You thought she was an infant?  Yes, yes she was the last time you read this blog.  She is crawling, pulling herself up to a stand, says "dada", has two teeth, and can wave.  And sometimes I think she can also clap.  I'm not sure if it's on purpose, though.  She continues to be the sweetest baby.  Her fuzzy little baby head just makes me swoon. 

Her brothers make her laugh all day long.  Mostly by running towards her and yelling at the top of their lungs.  This baby is afraid of nothing.  She will sleep right through drumming and loud music of any kind. 

And I'll tell ya what.  Girl can eat.  She likes her food and she prefers it NOW.  As soon we started feeding her solids, she became the LOUDEST child.  If we are eating and she is not in her high chair...well, she's not havin that.  She doesn't even cry.  She just yells at you.  And she likes every food that we have ever given her.  Please, God, let her stay not picky.

Speaking of food, wanna know how to tell you're the fourth child?  You have been introduced the following foods - in this order:  avocado, pineapple, raspberries, FRENCH FRIES, blueberries, mashed potatoes, mango, broccoli, banana, applesauce, etc.

Do you see anything wrong with this picture?  If so, you obviously don't have four children.


*****************************

Silas David is ridiculous as all get out.  He is the cutest, happiest boy until he is the most deviant.  He currently specializes in flooding the bathroom, covering his body in band-aids, and writing on walls (I have several large smiley face murals in my basement - I'm just going to leave them there until we repaint). 

But I wish I could describe the cute.  He is so cuddly and so excited about everything in life.  Especially helping in the kitchen.

He says really funny things right now.  For example, he gets the words "mango" and "flamingo" confused.  I.e.  "Feed Nora some flamango".

He always has a skip in his step and he is kind of on the short side for his age so everything he does is just CUTE.

The other night he asked me to lay with him at bedtime and so I did.  As we were chatting casually he said "Mom, I sat on Jesus' lap!"
"You did?" I asked.
"Yeah".
silence for a while
"Well, did you talk to God?"
"Yeah, Jesus asked me about my favorite animal", he said, "And Heaven is like music".

***********************************

Judah, my Judah-boy.  He has a loose tooth in the front that is coming out any day now.  I can't believe he will be six in a couple of months.  Judah has gotten quite a bit more talkative over the last few months.  And I just love hearing about what's going on in that little brain of his. 

My favorite times with Judah are, surprisingly, when he comes out of his room in the evening after the other boys have fallen asleep.  He usually just wants some extra cuddle time and, being an introvert, he needs more one-on-one time than the other boys do.  So, unless we have to be somewhere early the next day, I usually indulge and get some sleepy time conversation in.  He is our animal lover and always tells us he would like to own ten dogs and ten cats.  The other night he told us he wanted to get a dog and name it "Scoober".  He went on and on about the sizes and colors all of his animals would be - he also told us he wanted to name one of his cats "Tinny". 

He is starting to tell me more about his dreams - most recently that he could jump on top of the house without using a ladder. 

He is a very loyal child.  He will fight all day with Silas but if he feels that I am "wrongly" angry with Silas he will tell me "Be nice to my brother!"

He is always the first to say he wants to protect me from something.

Judah has always been a child who likes physical affection but he plays hard to get.  He will go in for a side hug if it's someone he really likes.  He will hardly ever be the first to initiate it, and he very rarely gives a full-on hug.  Same with affectionate words.  I say "I love you, Judah" and he says "yes" or "I know".  (If you have seen the recent Peabody and Sherman movie, think about how Mr. Peabody responds to Sherman's "I love you"....he says "I have a deep regard for you as well, Sherman".)  I sometimes tease him and say "Do you love me, too, Judah?  Girls like to hear it when they are loved!"  And finally he will laugh and say "Yes, I love you".  But, he has started saying it more often un-prompted, which is a sweet sound to a mama's ears.  :)

In other news, he is getting so good at writing letters and numbers.  I am proud of that boy.


****************

Roman James is growing up.  I mean, this kid receives his First Communion in just two weeks.  I feel like we were just baptizing him.  He is excited and ready.  He loves Jesus and he got a suit.  And let me tell you, both of those things are a big deal to him.  He's going to be one spiffy looking dude.

Roman is still the friendliest guy you'll ever meet.  He remembers everyone's name and every detail of most days of his life.  We will talk about a random event sometimes and he'll remember things about the day that everyone else has long forgotten.  For example, the other day we were talking about when Joe had to get stitches in his thumb a couple years ago.  Roman said "yeah, and then we went to the Kems for pizza"....uh, sure.

He is a great reader, he's very good at spelling, and he is super creative.  He is always making something out of recycled materials (or shall we say "materials I tried to put in the recycling bin" :))  He really likes to make swords and shields out of cardboard.  He used a round cooler and a bungee cord to make a bass drum he could wear today. 

Speaking of drums - he is quite the little drummer boy.  He has some good rhythm and there is nothing he loves more than listening to music or talking about music. 

He seems to be trying to decide if he is going to be in a band or be an actor when he grows up. 

Roman is super helpful around the house and is cheerful and encouraging most of the time.  He is a joy to have around!

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To wrap up, I just have to share some awesome videos.  Joe's sister, Angie, introduced us to the funniest app.  We have had so many good laughs with this.  Check out Dubsmash in the app store if you need some entertainment!

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