Maker of Them All

I’m a mess today. We have two bottle lambs which means I get to get up at night to feed them. I didn’t like that part when my kids were babies and I sure don’t like it with lambs. Sleep is amazing. Especially when you don’t get enough. 

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Aw, aren’t they cute? They’re stinking up my house. 

As I was finishing up feeding the lambs early this morning and putting more wood on the fire I sat browsing facebook. You know how sometimes I hate it? There are other times when I love it. And hate it. All at the same time.

I love it because I have moved approximately 2000 miles away from my home. Where I grew up. Where I had really awesome friends. Where even though people call it things like the “Left Coast” and the “land of fruits and nuts,” those were my people. It was comfortable. 

And even though we have made a wonderful life here, I still get homesick. I miss it. I miss my people. Because while we have awesome friends here now, too, it’s different. Each place, here and the West Coast, hold unique relationships. I’m finally beginning to embrace that. And I think, I hope, I’m beginning to understand that one isn’t “better” than the other.

They are different. They are special. And what makes them special isn’t what they have to offer, it’s the people. Because with each person, each friendship, is a unique story only they have. A story that shapes them and makes them who they are. Sometimes it’s good things like a happy childhood, doing well in school, having a great job. Sometimes it’s bad things like having an alcoholic parent, experiencing abuse, being told it would have been better had you never been born. These things shape us, make us who we are. 

I have friends with all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of beliefs. It doesn’t change how I feel about them. I may not agree with everything but it doesn’t make me like them less. So the “sometimes” that I like facebook, it’s when I get to read about my friends lives. Sometimes it’s exciting, buying a new house or having a baby. But sometimes it’s sad or stressful. 

In the last couple of days there has been quite a few of the sad or stressful. Things that are making my friends hurt. Or maybe it hasn’t just been the last couple of days… Have I just been blind to it? Because not everyone puts their hurts on facebook. 

This morning after I got the fire roaring again I headed back to bed. But sleep would not come again. I kept thinking of my friends and the things they’re dealing with. And it occurred to me that everyone is dealing with something.  

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28

So I got out of bed and prayed. Because I can’t fix any of it. But I know the One who can. So I went to Him. I prayed for the few friends who I knew what was going on, the hurt they’re going through. Then I started praying for other people. Because even though I don’t know everyone’s problems, He does. 

And then He showed me this.

Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is the Maker of them all.  -Proverbs 22:2

As if to really drive the point home. With all the differences that can separate the human race, we have one thing in common. The Lord is the Maker of them all.  If my Creator is your Creator…

I wonder what would happen if I started praying like this everyday. Because just on a selfish level, the closeness with the Maker is epic. It’s addictive. I mean, really, why wouldn’t someone want this? 

And not so selfish, what if it changed lives? 

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Baring my heart

Although my last post was not meant to be controversial I got some flack for it. I wasn’t debating if Christians should or shouldn’t drink, just pointing out that there are people leaving the Church and that just might be one of the reasons. I really wasn’t trying to say that all churches are bad, they’re not. There are some incredibly good churches out there. I have been on an unbelievably frustrating and at times intense journey since we left California. And God has really opened my eyes to things that I really had no interest knowing about. I wasn’t looking for them, I didn’t even know some of them existed. 

We moved from California five years ago this month. That’s really hard to believe. We left a church that was certainly not perfect but that we loved. Like really loved. It was incredible. And I knew when we left it was going to be hard to find one that we liked as much but I wasn’t anticipating the cultural differences. Or at least I wasn’t anticipating the differences would be so severe. And I guess I had this idea in my mind that being closer to “the Bible Belt” people would be more like minded.  I underestimated my propensity for not fitting in. 

My life would be so much easier if all I wanted was to go to church, sings some songs, get that “good feeling” and go home. It would be so much easier if I just avoided the big sins and felt good about giving a little to a charity now and then and told people what a blessing being a Christian is.  But I can’t. God wont let me do that. God wont let me just get by with that anymore. And I realize that makes people uncomfortable. And I know people like to be comfortable. I like to be comfortable. But the uncomfortable fact is God has beckoned me from my complacency to worship a Savior who gave up His comfort for the Cross. 

If my writing offends or makes you uncomfortable by all means don’t read what I have to say. But I know I’m not alone in my pursuit for more. My quest to end the complacency. This certainly isn’t an original idea, there are lots of people who step out of the box. But lets not assume that those people who are giving up comfort are giving up a faith. It is quite possible that they are on a journey for a more epic faith, one that isn’t always found within the confines of walls.

Your faith journey may not look like mine but that doesn’t mean one of us is wrong. If we are each doing what God has told us to do we don’t need to assume the other person is wrong. It means we are individual people who have a unique relationship with our Creator. From what I’ve discovered in the Bible God doesn’t stay within limits.  And from what I’ve discovered from life when we chase after Jesus like our life depends on it the journey truly is epic. 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.  -Joshua 1:9

Would you like some cheese with that wine?

Some days I hate facebook. Like I’m ready to delete my account and set fire to my computer hate it. This was one of those days.

Several days ago I came across an article a friend posted on Christians and alcohol and if it’s ok for them to drink. There were lots of comments for both sides of the argument. Then there was another one. And yet another one today. I know it’s a controversial subject but really, SHUT UP about it. This is where we lose our credibility. We get stuck on things like this and we want to drive the point home. And even though the Bible warns about getting drunk there are those that will fight for the “freedom to drink” all while loudly proclaiming their Christianity. And even though the Bible DOESN’T say you can’t drink at all, there are those that loudly proclaim that you can’t drink anything ever and be a Christian. And the same time this is going on there are children dying of 100% curable diseases, parent-less, starving. There are women- girls– walking into abortion clinics because they are faced with a terrifying circumstance and they feel they have no hope. There are children being trafficked right in front of our faces. There are marriages crumbling, single mothers trying to survive, our own children facing this disgusting, pathetic world. But I guess those things will have to wait. We “Christians” are busy fighting about some liquor.

I’ve never seen my parents drink. EVER. They also never told me that I would go to hell if I did or that “Christians” don’t do that. There are multitudes of reasons not to get drunk, the top one being that is what the Bible says. Other reasons not to get drunk: You’ll look like an idiot, you could kill someone, you could kill yourself (my uncle died of alcohol poisoning), you could destroy your family.

Maybe I have a different perspective based on where I’m from. Because I honestly don’t remember this being a hot topic in my church growing up. Matthew and I lived around a lot of Vineyards. A lot of vineyards meant a lot of wineries. It wasn’t uncommon to see people have a glass of wine with their meal in a restaurant. I don’t recall drunk people staggering all over the place though. Here, if there’s an event with an open bar, well people are all about that. So maybe it simply is a matter of local or sophistication or people I knew, I don’t know.

What I do know is this. A lot of people have a fairly good grasp of this Jesus in the Bible and they aren’t buying what we’re selling. We fight amongst ourselves on stupid things while ignoring what we’re instructed to do.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultlesss is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

So while we are alienating intelligent people who see this Jesus and then see us and then don’t see any similarities, we are failing miserably at what we should be doing. And then we’re going to church and patting each other on the back like we’ve got it all together.

Which Jesus do you follow? Which Jesus do you serve? If Ephesians says to imitate Christ, why do you look so much like the world?  -Todd Agnew, My Jesus

Frozen Pipes

A blanket of snow is covering our great outdoors and there is a path shoveled between our back door to the garage so we can check the ewes about to lamb.

Pipes were frozen all day yesterday and with the frigid temperature and the wind I couldn’t get the house anywhere near warm enough.

Last week my in-laws put down their 14 year old dog, the one Matthew and I found in the barn before we were even married. She was a special dog. Not because she was so smart or did any kind of tricks but because she came at a time when my mother-in-law was battling cancer. She was there through the cancer, through the wedding, through our kids being born, through us moving 2000 miles away. And she was always there when I went back to visit.

Today, right now, my mama is having back surgery. I’m 1885 miles away from her.

Right about now I’m really missing California. This happens sometimes. Especially when the weather is crap. Thankfully it’s happening less and less. And really, I’m thankful for where we are. If we had stayed in California our life would look much different. I know we would not be able to have the lifestyle we have here. This is what we’ve always dreamed of (minus the frozen pipes) and to be able to live that out… I know how blessed we are.

But still. I’m human. I miss the familiar sometimes. I miss holidays with our family. I miss driving past vineyards and dairies. I miss our old church. I even miss the traffic sometimes. And I definitely miss the things I took for granted like fresh fruit and vegetables.

I could go down this road so easily. I could throw myself an epic pity party. But I’ve learned that only hurts me. It also hurts my family. If I’m feeling sorry for myself that I can’t go meet my friend at Panera I’m not being what I need to be for my family. And if my time is being spent thinking about the things that used to be, then it’s not being spent living.

And I want to live. So after trying bitterness, regret, disappointment, I found those don’t help you to live. It’s really more like death. But I also found that thankfulness is the opposite of those things.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  -Psalm 100:4

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness; I will sing praises to the name of the LORD Most High. -Psalm  7:17

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  -1 Thessalonians 5:18

When I give God the thanks for what He has provided something amazing happens. The bitterness dissipates, instead of regret I feel content, and disappointment is replaced with clearer vision. I can see that it’s ok to love these two places. I can see how awesome life was in California because we had awesome friends and family. But now I can also see how awesome our friends are here.  Friends who have become like family because clearly God has crossed our paths. And I have to be thankful. When the frozen world outside my window thaws it will reveal something beautiful, something alive. The same happens when we decide we want to live.

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I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and glory.  Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.  I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

-Psalms 63:2-4

2014

Making New Years Resolutions seems really cliche to me so I don’t do it. I figure if everyone is doing it I shouldn’t be. That’s pretty much how I’ve always lived and it’s worked out ok. But I have this friend who wont stop annoying be about making goals and reading my Bible everyday. The Daily Bible reading has turned out pretty well so I guess I owe it to her to try the goal thing. 

It’s not that I’m not goal oriented. I am. I just don’t like writing them down. I used to think it was a commitment phobia. But I’ve made some big commitments in my life. I got married. That one’s working alright. I had kids. They’re pretty awesome. Then I moved 2000 miles away from home. I’m still waiting to see if that works out. Just kidding.

Kind of. 

Really it’s a fear of failure. Which is completely stupid. I know it’s stupid. I also know if you don’t try you wont technically fail at it. You also wont succeed. So in my head I’ve rationalized that if I don’t write it down but kind of try and fail, well, at least there’s no proof that I was actually trying. I know that’s really messed up thinking. 

Last year my friend convinced me to choose a Bible verse for the year. I chose this one:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.   Joshua  1:9

 

 

I have always felt like life passes us by faster than anyone is ever ready for, hearing things like “where has the time gone” and it seems like only yesterday…” And that’s if you have the luxury of growing old. I also know how fragile this life is. While I watched my toddler daughter struggle for breath, certain she was going to die, pregnant with a baby we hadn’t planned on, I had to attend a funeral for my best friend from High School. 25 years old. I had just seen her the week before, full of life and spunk. And then gone.

What if it was me? Had I lived my life to the fullest? Or had I lived my life in fear? I faced those questions when I faced my mortality. My daughters mortality had made me fearful. But what kind of life is that? And what kind of mother did that make me? It took months but I finally decided that a fearful life wasn’t any life at all. I had to put my trust in God that no matter what happens in life the promises that He made are real. 

And it’s paid off. Crappy things happen because we are living in a fallen world. But the relationship I have with my Savior is out of this world. And I’ve seen an incredible story unfold before me and my family. And when I look beyond myself I see incredible stories unfold for other people who put their trust in God. And I wonder how people who claim to be Christian can go on living like nothings changed. Because when you meet the Savior, THINGS CHANGE. 

So this year I chose this verse. And this is my goal. Because when I say I have a faith in Jesus, it’s not to get in to the social club called church. It’s not to rub in peoples faces who I don’t agree with politically. It’s not because it’s how I was raised. When I say I have a faith in Jesus it’s because I’ve met Him and He’s completely worthy of all my crazy devotion. Nothing less. 

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A new way of seeing

It seems that all anyone is talking about is the government shutdown and healthcare fiasco. Have you noticed our government sucks? I’m pretty sure I’d be saying that regardless of who was in the Oval Office. Because they all suck. Every politician that makes it their life’s work to “serve” the people seem to be “serving” select groups of people, and no one can agree on anything. We all feel like our ideals are the right ones so we’ll argue to the death and who wins?

I used to feel that way. I used to think everyone else was just incredibly stupid for not agreeing with me. Then I realized there are PEOPLE behind those people. They are real souls that have pain and happiness. They have scars, they have joys.  They have a past that has shaped their beliefs.  They may not agree with me but what’s more important, their life or how they vote? We have come to a time when we place the way they vote ahead of WHO they are. And WHO they are is so much more important than the way anyone votes.

Then we start using what we think should be true against each other. This recently popped up in my news feed on Facebook:

Carter Quote

Now, while Christian absolutely should be concerned and take action with the poor, there is a great deal more to Christianity.  We can’t just pick and choose what we want to do that day to have a “country based on Christian Values”.  If we are going to be a Christian Nation we have to take the Bible as a whole, not just one piece. We can’t ignore the rest of it, like when it tells us , “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1

But how many Christians do this? We see them shaking their head at abortion and homosexuality while acting like they’ve got their act together and then going home to hide in their anger, greed, lust. They make sure they have awesome cars and cute clothes, especially for their kids, cause their kids need to learn the ways, too. You know, if you make all the right decisions God will bless you.  Are we forgetting where it says “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”? (Luke 14:11)

So while we fight for our “sides” there are people loosing their lives, their souls. Jesus has tasked us with “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 But why would anyone want to become a disciple of Christ when those representing Christ are hideously off course?

I say it’s time we throw out political parties. Sure there are some politicians that fight for things we like, but really. Who was the last one to save your soul? Oh that’s right, Jesus wasn’t a politician. He came to show us how to live. And we’re not doing a very good job of it.

It seems to me we have forgotten this:

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us,God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork,created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:1-9

What if we decided to live like Jesus and actually live out his commands? I don’t care what “side” your on, what if we started loving each other instead of fighting? What if we didn’t rely on taxes and government to take care of the poor and did it ourselves?! What if we lived our lives in a way that makes other people say “huh, they may be onto something”?

What if we don’t and we die and face Jesus and he says “I never knew you. Away from me you evil-doers.” (Matthew 7:23)