Preparations

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Today is a busy day at our house.

We are spending Easter Eve, as my kids call it, preparing for guests tomorrow.  Scrubbing, polishing, vacuuming, even mowing…working to make ours a hospitable home.

I even have the little boys cleaning baseboards and widow sills…but don’t look too closely.  They are still learning about attention to detail.

Isn’t the same true with my heart?

I don’t always catch all the dirt.  I can clean all I want, try as hard as I might…but I fall short.  Oh, Lord, I fall short.

And…sometimes…I don’t try.  I admit it.  At least, not like I should.  Like my kids cleaning their rooms, I stuff things in closets, under beds, ignoring real change in favor of a clean-looking outside.

Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about this very issue:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:25-27 NASB)

That’s what the Savior came for!  That is why He shed His blood!

No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I hide from trying, I cannot achieve what His blood did.  He came to live and die so that I might live eternally!  I cannot even fathom the enormity of that gift.

An old hymn by Isaac Watts brings this home to me:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Easter will come to the Wright house.  Clean or not.  And it will be joyous!

And…eternity will come to each of us.  Clean or not.  And…if we know Jesus…it will be joyous!

Come.  Just come.

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Thankfulness: Beating the Odds

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Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.  As He was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Then He said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  -Luke 17:11-19

It’s a familiar story…and a common one in the day.  People ask; Jesus heals.  Praise Him for being so gracious to us!

But, on this eve of Thanksgiving, I am thinking about the lepers themselves.

One of ten was thankful.  That is a dismal return.  We look for better batting averages if we are to keep a player on the team.

Why don’t we get thankfulness?  Why don’t we look around and see what we have and not what we don’t?

In our sin and sloth, we seek an easy return for our labor.  But that pathway was burned to us in the garden.  Perhaps we spend the rest of our lives seeking to regain what we as humanity have lost (perfection).  That, however is unattainable.

At least here on earth.

The pathway is clear, the invitation has been made.  Not for Thanksgiving dinner, or some holiday party, but for eternal life!

We messed up, and continue to do so, but in His graciousness, He continues to offer healing…forever healing…in the person of Jesus Christ.

In that we can ALL glory.

So, this Thanksgiving, I glory first and foremost that He lives and that He loves me…even me.  I have many, many other reasons to be thankful, but without the framework of life in Christ, without the healing that He has brought, and continues to bring, to my soul, I can be no better than the nine who walked away.

I pray that as I look at my life and all its bounty, I can beat the odds and show thankfulness for all the gifts God has blessed me with:  home, health, family, love, safety, security, joy, peace…and salvation!

I pray you can, too.

How Not to Load a Dishwasher

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. – Joshua 1:5b

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I am kind of a fanatic about my dishwasher. Perhaps you are, too.

I like it loaded a certain way, everything it a certain place.  I like the food well cleaned off before the dishes go in.  I like the disposal run often while the dishes are being cleaned.  My way allows the maximum use of every space in the thing, while not sacrificing cleanliness of the dishes.

I am in the process of teaching my older boys to load the dishwasher…to my satisfaction.  It is not as easy as it sounds.

They just don’t seem to get that my way is the best way, that I have loaded more dishwashers than they could possibly count, that my way will really make their job so much easier.

Nope.  They continue to struggle with doing it the way I want it done.  I have to retrain…and retrain…and retrain.  Ad nauseum.

What a visual image for me of what I make my heavenly Father go through!  He tells me again and again in His word how I should act, what I should do, how to cram the most joy possible into this earthly existence.  His ways are the best, the easiest, the most efficient, to complete this task called living the Godly life.

Yet, I go off on my own, trying to “load” my life a different way.  I try to take short cuts in the process of learning what I should do, failing to seek His advice on matters where I have questions.  I feel like close enough is good enough, and leave it at that, not aiming for wrapping into Him and His teachings in order to be a better servant to Him.  I don’t efficiently cleanse myself of my sins before Him so that when I go through the heat of life I come out chipped and still dirty…and I have to go back and try it again and again.  I want to do it my way, and I often pay the price for that.

Just like the boys and the dishwasher.

Second revelation to me:  I often get angry and frustrated with them for their carelessness and lack of attention to detail; He is forever patient with me in mine.

Wow.  Ouch.

As I think now of the dirty dishes on my counter, and the boy who will be coming to l0ad them shortly, help me remember, Lord, to take a page from Your playbook, not only in how I load my own life, but also in how I instruct these young men to load theirs.  Help me to be more like You as I teach them to be more like You.  In Your precious Name I pray, amen.

 

Welcome Home

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:1-4

Two of my dearest friends had their deployed husbands return this week.  What a joy to see their homecoming pictures!  They make me cry!

On several levels.

First and foremost, these dear men whom we have been praying for have returned safely from dangerous places.  They have been putting themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedoms, and their return just supports what is truly great about American military members…and their families.  They have given up so we can enjoy.  Praise God!

Secondly, I must admit that I have a few tears for myself, for my kids, and the homecoming we cannot have.  Keith’s early trip to Glory means that we do not have him here, cannot have that hug we dream of, especially on the tough days.

But mingled with the sadness are tears of joy for my family as well, for one day, we will have a homecoming greater than this.

God, in His great love and mercy, have made a way so that we can all join Him for the greatest homecoming ever created.  One day, our Savior will stand waiting in anticipation of us returning to Him.  He will welcome us into our true home, the one in Heaven.

And while I cannot say for sure what homecomings are like with the former residents of earth who have already received their reward, I am sure that if Keith can be, he will be there…smiling and welcoming us home for good.

What a glorious homecoming that will be!

Blessings in the ER

Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. – Psalm 17:7

My sweet Jackson had to go to the ER today…sprained or broken ankle…on the weekend.  I do not overreact to boys’ injuries.  I have had too many of them between the four of them.  But, based on where his pain was…and because it was the weekend…off we went.

On the way in the car, Jackson and I prayed…for the doctor and staff, for the pain, for the visit going quickly, for it not being broken.

We got the initial paperwork done quickly and easily and went back to the examination room.  After just a few moments, the nurse came in, followed almost immediately by the doctor.

Dr. Brian introduced himself and shook my hand…a nice firm handshake.  I liked his bedside manner immediately…warm and easy.  He introduced himself to Jackson as Brian and asked him questions about his injury.

That was when I noticed his pin on his scrubs:  Jesus is the reason for the season.  Answered prayer right there.  Praise God!

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But, as much as Jackson and I were happy to see that answered prayer, we had another blessing coming.

When Dr. Brian came back in to give us the x-ray report (not broken) and talk about how to treat the sprain, I just had to tell him.  I told him that we had prayed for the doctor in the car on the way to the hospital and that seeing his pin meant so much to us.

This sweet man got almost teary.  He thanked me for sharing that with him and told us we had touched his heart.  He blessed us, but we were able to bless him right back…just by recognizing that God was in the room, giving Him credit where credit was due.

It matters, people.  When God blesses you, share the blessing.  Tell the person who blessed you what an answer to prayer they were.  Pass on the blessing.

It’s what it’s all about.

We are here to make waves for Christ…positive waves of love that have a cumulative effect.

So, I am thankful for Dr. Brian and his kind manner with my little boy.  I am even more thankful for a God who allows me to be part of His work here on earth.

Blessings, everybody!

A Reminder

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

I go to the commissary once a month to get most of our staples.  Consequently, it is a big, time-consuming trip.  My attitude is usually positive, but today, I really got an attitude check.

I was walking through the aisles, filling my second cart, and happened to be near a woman who was speaking under her breath as she put each thing into her cart.  This is nothing unusual…I often do it myself, marking off my list carefully as I go.

As she leaned in to get something near me, though, I heard something that made me stop in my tracks…and gave me a glimpse of the Divine.

What she was saying each time she put something into her cart was, “You are good.”

My breath caught.

Not being shy, I touched her arm a few moments later and said, “I have to ask…are you thanking the Lord each time you put something in your cart?”

“Yes,” she replied simply.

Tears in my eyes, I said, “That’s beautiful.”

She smiled slightly and moved on to continue to fill her cart.

I, however, was rooted in place.  Tears fell down my cheeks.  I felt both blessed and humbled.

Two full carts.  Six years without Keith.  Every time I need something, and most of the time when I want something.

You.  Are.  Good.

I think I am a thankful person.  I certainly try to be.  But I go to the commissary each month without really thanking the God of the universe for His infinite, patient, precise care of me.

You.  Are.  Good.

I learned a lesson today, one that I pray never leaves me, one that is still bringing me to tears.

You.  Are.  Good.

This sweet lady and her mom were in line behind me, and I had the opportunity to talk to them again.  Still with tears in my eyes, I said, “You have touched me today.”

Still just a slight smile, and a humble, “I’m glad.  Thanks.”

No, really, thank you, sweet sister…and thank You, dear Father.

You.  Are.  Good.

Confessions of a Lego-Sucking Momma

I must admit I do it from time to time.  And it’s not always an accident.  Sometimes it is frustration…I just can’t bend down one. more. time.

Sometimes it is pure glee and (gulp!) malice.

The boys have left their Legos on the floor again…and I have sucked them right up into the vacuum.

Now, on the one hand, it seems really silly to do this.  Yes, they should not have left them out.  Yes, I am a busy momma and don’t always have time to pick up after them.  And, yes, those silly little pieces of plastic are expensive (often $50 for a set they really only want the special “guy” from).

But, dang it, how else can I teach them about stewardship??

Don’t get me wrong; I give plenty of warnings.

Boys, you need to pick up your rooms; I am vacuuming today.

Here I come…get the stuff off the floor!

Get. this. stuff. off. the. floor. NOW!

I am sure it works about the same in your house if you have boys (maybe girls, too…no experience with them here).

The people who live here have the nerve to look surprised…even irate when I cheerfully suck up heads, bodies, and (horror of horrors) light sabers and other weapons.

I try to be philosophical, but they just don’t care.  They have had their stuff eaten in good ole Mr. Dyson, and they feel violated.

I just feel frustrated.

Just pick up your stuff, I tell them.  Take good care of what God has blessed you with.

But they are not having any of it.  They storm off, muttering things I would prefer not to hear under their breath.

Deep sigh.

Dealing with these sweet, albeit messy, people gives me a bit of insight into just how awesome God’s grace is.

I wonder how many times I have just totally neglected any number of gifts the Lord has given me, leaving them lying around when He so carefully made sure they were given to me.

I wonder how many times I neglected that still, small voice that was lovingly bringing me back into the proper attitude and relationship with Him.

I wonder how many times I have neglected the huge, warning shout from my Lord and Savior and gone merrily on my way into sin…or into doubt.

And I wonder at the patience of a God who does not suck me into oblivion rather than deal with my sorry, ungrateful self any longer.

Another deep sigh.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me regardless of what a rotten steward I am with my life, and for being patient enough to continue to work to mold me into something useful!

My Lego problem may not be solved, but I hope I can be more philosophical about it, next time approaching it not with anger and malice but with love and patience.

Just like God does with me.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. – Psalm 86:15