Month: January 2014

Living In the Present Tense

dadnboys1_30_2014a 

Dad would’ve loved this record-breaking winter. Not that he enjoyed the cold and snow, but he was always up for a challenge.

He would have gone out every day just to prove he could. Level 3 snow emergency – ha! That wouldn’t keep him parked. -40° wind chill – ha! That just meant putting on the lined jacket.

Then he’d call to tell me about the brutal cold, the deep snow, how many cars he’d seen in the ditch, how much he slid around, and how well he handled the icy slick roads. And if he fell on the ice, he’d tell me about that, too.

That was the “old normal”… knowing dad would be pushing the limit, and waiting for the phone to ring in the evening so he could tell all about it.

The “new normal” is talking about dad in the past tense. The “new normal” is not getting a call from him. The “new normal” is realizing the finality of death.

That may be our new normal, but it surely isn’t dad’s!

What is dad’s “new normal”? Can it even be called “normal”? Is there anything “normal” about being in the visible presence of Jesus every moment? Of continual praise? Of ceaseless joy? Of pure love? Of a sinless existence? Can we begin to imagine? I don’t think so…

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

What do we know about heaven? We know it’s real. We know that Jesus is there. We know that those who trust in Him will be with Him in heaven when they leave their physical bodies.

“…as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord” – 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” – Philippians 1:23 NIV

We know that we will recognize each other. We know we don’t become angels. We know we remain ourselves.

Can we be sure that we will go to heaven? Yes! The glorious truth is that when we trust our salvation entirely to Jesus and the work He accomplished on the cross, our eternity is secure.

Trusting Jesus means we recognize that it is not about how good we are, but about how bad we are. We must admit that there is nothing good in us. Nothing. Not 80%, not 50%, not 10%, but 0%. We ask Jesus to save us from the sin that enslaves us 100%. We ask Him to enter into our person and live His life through us. We surrender to Him, and then we are saved. From that moment on, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. It is God who saves us, secures our salvation, and brings us to heaven.

“To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy…” – Jude 24, NIV

Dad would’ve loved this winter… but I’m sure it can’t touch how much he loves the Springtime of eternity!

dadnboys1_30_2014b

Polar Vortex? It’s My Fault!

The temperature is -3 on its way to -18 and I have to apologize to everyone because the cold is my fault.

You see, I’ve been putting off organizing the cabinet under my bathroom sink for months. It’s easy to pretend the mess isn’t there when it’s hidden. And, it’s so easy to hide: just close the door and it’s gone! Outa sight. Outa mind. Life is good.

Until the temps hover below zero for days on end, and the cabinet doors have to stay open so the pipes on the exterior walls don’t freeze.

MarciaSink1a

UGH! There it is, staring at me, daring me to dig deep. What will I uncover? Garish lipsticks, old eye shadow, and duplicate purchases because I forgot what was in there. Bottles of nail polish used just once. Waste and disorder.

It shouldn’t surprise me that God is going to this length to get me to clean, purge and organize the impulse purchases and hidden mistakes in my cabinet. He goes to even greater lengths to get me to look deep into my heart and purge the mistakes (sins) that are hidden there.

He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. – 1 Corinthians 4:5 NIV

God does this. He reveals hidden sin so that I might confess, purge, repent and be cleansed. God causes me to look at the hidden sin in my heart because sin is a barrier that separates me from intimacy with God and God wants a relationship that is free of barriers.

God knows the deepest darkest caverns of your heart and mine. He knows the impulse purchases we try to forget. He knows the garish mistakes. He knows the reality of what is hidden there.

For the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought – 1 Chronicles 28:9 NIV

We may try to hide our sins, but nothing is hidden from God. God won’t let us hide. He loves us and wants us cleansed.

O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you. – Psalm 69:5

We may try to close the door and pretend the mess isn’t there, but God won’t let the door stay closed. He allows circumstances or events in our lives that force us to open the door and confront the reality of sin.

When we acknowledge the mess, confess, and repent, God’s cleansing light of forgiveness floods every deep corner of our hearts.

But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.  – 1 John 1:9 NLT

God cornered me. He does frequently, and when He does, I cleanse, purge and organize. My heart is good and my cabinet is too. You can expect the temps to start rising any moment!

MarciaSink2a

“The Mom Award”

If you’re a mom, you’ve probably given yourself one or more, “Mom Awards”. You know the ones I mean: “Worst Mom of the Hour/Day/Week/Month/Year or Decade”; and the most despised: “Worst Mom of the Century”.

I have a closet full! There are days when I received all of them in one afternoon.

I’ll never forget one of the “Worst Mom” awards I received… I gave it to myself the winter before this family photo was taken.

marcia1986

In my defense… it was winter, and it’s not easy being a mom of preschoolers cooped up in the house for days. Danny had developed a habit of masterfully pushing Bobby down every time he saw Bobby standing still. I warned Danny: If you do that again, I’m going to push you!

Danny pushed. Bobby fell and started crying. I gave Danny the “you’re in for it now” look!

Immediately, Danny started to quickly back away, in stocking feet on a vinyl floor. I reached toward him, he lost his balance, slipped, fell and hit his head on the cabinet. He started crying. Bobby was still crying. And I sat down beside them, crying.

That night, sitting between Dan’s bed and Bob’s crib, still crying, I wrote them both a letter of apology in case they ever recalled this horrible day in therapy as adults. I still have the letters. Just in case.

There, it’s out there. I’m the worst mom ever. And, I have more stories I could tell…..

Guilt? Yes! Feeling like a failure? Yes! Like King David, I cried out to the Lord:

“My guilt overwhelms me – it is a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and stink because of my foolish sins. I am bent over and racked with pain. All day long I walk around filled with grief.” – Psalm 38:4-6 NLT

There is no way to remove the guilt. We may try to cover over it with kind acts – I probably made cookies for them later on, or let them watch their favorite TV show. I may have tried to ease my conscience by telling myself I was doing my best to be a good mom. I had to keep my word. I had to teach Danny right behavior. It was just a little bump. Barely nothing. And surely nothing in the grand scheme of things.  And, while all of that was true, my heart ached because I had hurt my child by my own hand.

There was only one way to remove the guilt: Come to Jesus and confess the sin.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9NIV

“For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean…” – Hebrews 10:22 NLT

As a mom I’ve gotten really good, I think, at asking for forgiveness, both from the Lord and from the boys. Sometimes now, the boys will laugh at me when I bring up long ago events and ask for their forgiveness. It is worth the laughter because I love to dance in the freedom that comes with forgiveness.

MarciaSonsWeddingDance


Wake Up! What’s That I Hear?

AlarmClock2

1:15 a.m. – Outside the wind howls and the temperature is below freezing. Inside I am sleeping soundly in my warm and toasty bed.

1:17 a.m. – Brian awakens me, “Marcia! I think something’s going on in the basement! It sounds like the water softener might be acting up.”

PANIC! We spent hours on Saturday at Dan and Nikki’s bailing water out of their flooded basement.

PRAYER! Please, God, don’t let the basement be flooded.

1:18 a.m. – I hear it. It could be the water softener, but it doesn’t really sound like it. We need to investigate.

Neither of us moves. Silence.

1:19 a.m. – There it is again! Drat!

We get out of bed, dreading what the rest of the night might hold, and walk toward the basement. As I walk past the utility room, I hear the sound. It’s coming from the utility room! This time, it doesn’t stop. I walk toward the garage door, is it a car alarm?

I call to Brian and he walks into the utility room. We realize the noise is not coming from the garage, but from his briefcase which is sitting in its regular place by the garage door! What?!

The alarm on his new Blackberry is going off because it is set for 1:15 a.m.!

1:20ish a.m. – I am back in bed!

Being awakened in the middle of the night, out of a sound sleep, is usually not a good thing, but sometimes, unlike last night, it is the Lord who wakes us up:

“One night… Samuel was lying down… Then the Lord called Samuel.” –1 Samuel 3:2-4 NLT

Three times the Lord called Samuel, but Samuel had not yet learned to recognize the voice of God. The fourth time God called to him, Samuel responded:

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” – 1 Samuel 2:10 NLT

When God calls you and me, it probably won’t be an audible voice (I’ve never heard an audible voice). And, it may not be in the middle of the night (although He has awakened me a few times for a much needed conversation). However like Samuel, when God calls, it’s important that we listen. If the God of the universe is calling, is there ever a reason not to listen?

“…the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out… his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” – John 10:3-5 NLT

If we belong to Jesus, we learn to recognize His voice. When we recognize His voice, we won’t be afraid when He calls us. If we’re not afraid, we’ll follow Him wherever He leads.

Has God called you? The first call is to salvation. If you’ve responded to that call you can expect more calls as God gives you opportunities to learn His voice.

Is God sounding an alarm to wake you up? Might God be calling you out of the warm bed of your comfort zone to follow Him? Will you turn the alarm off and go back to bed, or will you get up, listen and follow Him?

Walking Back Home

watertower1

Walking is my exercise of choice. I can walk alone, but I prefer to walk with a friend. I walk at the mall in winter, and I walk outside in summer.

Fortunately, there is a great subdivision across the street from my house with miles of walking paths that meander around a lake, pond, community garden, horse stable, school, park and beautiful homes. But, because I don’t have a map of the paths, and because there are so many of them, by the time my heart is in a good place (both physically and spiritually), I’m usually lost.

But, that’s OK; I know I won’t be lost for long, because wherever I am on those paths, I can see this water tower which is right across from my house. I know that if I can find my way to the tower, I can find my way home. As soon as I spot the tower, I know which way to walk to get home and find rest.

The other day I was chatting with a friend who had lost her way home spiritually. She started out walking with God, but then made a few turns here and there without paying much attention and then before she knew it, she had wandered away. It had been over a year since she’d gone to church, and she was homesick, alone, lonely, afraid of what the future might hold, and even more, of what it might not hold.

She needed a water tower! No, she needed a friend to point her to God because God is always there pointing the way home!

“This is what the Lord says, ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.’”– Jeremiah 6:16 NLT

Sometimes the old, godly way is simply returning to church. But, it’s hard to walk in alone, so my friend phoned a friend who lived near her and they went to church together last Sunday. Afterward, she told me, “I feel a lot more at ease today… like I have more direction… like comfort with the unknown.” She had returned home and found rest.

Going to church won’t make anyone a Christian, but Christians need to go to church. We need to worship with other believers. We need the spiritual communion and encouragement that comes from singing praises alongside others, and hearing God’s Word preached in community with others. This is not new.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  – Hebrews 10:24-25 NLT

Is there an area of your life where you’ve taking baby steps away from the Lord? Away from rest? Look up! The Lord is waiting to show you the way back home.

Is there a friend whom you might lovingly invite to go to church with you?