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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Follow-Through Faith

M-o-o-o-o-m, where’s my _________?

In a houseful of boys, this is a cry that is heard far to often.  Some days I am certain that a uterus must be a homing device.  They don’t have them; they can’t find anything.

And it is often quite frustrating.

Oh, if they legitimately look for something, I don’t get so hot under the collar; but if they take a cursory look at best and then start screaming for me to find something that they should know where it is, not I, I tend to get a little…peeved.

Any of you relate?

Then yesterday I read a verse that made me wonder if I do the same thing at times…with God.

It was one of those verses that I have probably read 100 times, and one that has always been kind of ancillary details to me…but something in it stood out to me this time.  How cool that the active Word of God can do that!

Genesis 15:11:  The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away.

To set the scene for this verse, God has just promised Abram a son.  He makes a covenant with him, but God, who created all, has Abram go and get the birds for the sacrifice, and then has Abram keep away the vultures while He prepares to burn the sacrifice Himself.

Abram had to do his part!  The God of the universe certainly could have told the birds of prey to take a hike and let Abram sit and watch the show.  But instead He had him take part.

And God blessed him…then in words and later by the birth of the promised son.

But Abram had to get ready for his blessing, do his part in the preparation of it, not just sit and wait for it to happen before him.  Huh.

As I look at some of the challenges I face this year, I need to keep this in mind.  Instead of just doing cursory things to get it done, I need to keep looking for what God wants me to do as part of preparation for the blessing. 

Financial issues?  Have I done my part and been a wise steward, or am I just barely looking around for what is needed and crying to Daddy? 

Finding a man in my life?  Have I prayed enough, determined what I need and want enough?  Have I done all I can emotionally, physically, and spiritually to be in a position to accept that gift should it come to me?  I know He has been honing off pieces of me…have I let Him?

So I guess that would be my new year’s plan…not a resolution, per se, but a plan.  

Do my part to be ready for God to do His.

He will be faithful, that’s a given.  I pray that I will be, as well. 

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. – Matthew 17:20

In the Pink

This morning I got up extra early to work on getting our day together.  I knew we had a lot on our plate:

  • hair cuts
  • Christmas crafts for relatives
  • Christmas cards
  • Christmas baking
  • youth band practice

Not to mention:

  • house cleaning for our weekend company
  • homeschooling
  • the 5-6 loads of laundry (I have lost count) that are on my bed to fold

Too much for one day!  I hurriedly complete my Bible study (sorry, Beth) and start on the planning of this hairy day.  The Amy Grant song I Need A Silent Night ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRSSsNbF29I) is running through my mind.

I endeavor to persevere.  I plan the day down to the moments and get ready for the boys to get up so we can hit the ground running.

Then…

Jackson gets up and comes down…he’s got pink eye.

Ugh.

Now, this was not entirely unexpected.  I had started my day Tuesday with a run to the doc-in-the-box around the corner from the house with Tanner..  Since then, we have been washing hands furiously and peeking at everyone’s eyelids.

I thought we had dodged the bullet this time, and that Tanner was going to be the only one down with it.  Nope.

Next, checked Alex’s eyelids…pink eye starting there, too.  Matthew…same scenario.

Obviously my carefully planned schedule is out the window.  Regroup, regroup…

And someone (Someone?) has just turned up the volume of Amy Grant in my ear…

I’ve done it again, haven’t I, Lord?

Single parenthood is never easy, but especially not if you try to be Supermom, creating the best. Christmas. ever.

I know better than this!  Really, I do!

Yet it happens again and again that I get myself too deeply planned, too tightly stretched…

Not good for anyone.

And that is when God steps in…and gives me a time out…this time in the form of pink eye.

Instead of the crazy rushing around, my day now involves movies and jammies and an afternoon nap…and maybe some of those Christmas crafts and that laundry to fold.

Sorry, Lord, for doing it again…and again…and again.

Thanks, Lord, for loving me enough to get me out of my stress-mess via a time out.

Now I have to check my own eyelids…praying that other shoe does not fall.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your waysand My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

Up In Flames

Last week, while visiting my folks, my dad and I took a ride in the golf cart.

First, we smelled a funny, plastic-y kind of smell.  “What’s that smell, Dad?”

“Not sure.”  He keeps driving the golf cart, telling me about the houses we are passing.

“The smell is not going away, Dad…”

He keeps driving.

“Daddy, there’s smoke!”

Now he stops the golf cart and we get out.

Dad pulls up the seat…and flames come out!

We send a passer-by to the gate house a few hundred feet away for the fire extinguisher.

By the time this gentleman returns, the cart is fully engulfed in flames, and we run to the gatehouse to have them call the fire department.

The fire department comes to put out the blaze, leaving only a charred pile of plastic and a bit of metal that has to be scraped from the road.

Five minutes…just five minutes…and the golf cart lay in ruins.

How equally quickly my attitude can go up in flames!

I can be sailing along, leaving the future to God, not feeling pressure and stress, holding firmly to God’s hand…when out of the blue…

Flames!  Smoke!  Meltdown!

I have to ask myself…why?

My dad’s fire was caused by a battery issue.  Could the cause of mine be the same?

Did I recharge with my daily dose of Godly encouragement through Bible reading and study?  Have I spent enough time on maintenance, seeking from the Lord what about me needs to change?

In those instances of “fire,” the answer is…probably not.

While I am not sure whether my dad’s golf cart fire could be prevented, I am pretty sure my “fire” could have been.

I resolve to work harder at the PM (preventative maintenance) to avoid the fires…and their consequences of burning me and others.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

Unpacking Christmas

It is the beginning of December and that means the annual frenzy to get the house ready for the season.

Right now, it looks like Christmas threw up.  Not a pretty sight.  Boxes are strewn everywhere.  There is foam and fake pine needles all over the floor, and half-done shopping lists and baking lists cover the counter.  You can barely move without having to shift something else first.  I rush around, doing one thing, until I spy another that needs to be done just as much, and stop and tackle that.  The boys try to be helpful where they can, but they don’t think like me (imagine that).  (Actually, that is a great blessing.)

Currently I am unpacking the boxes of ornaments for the “family” tree.

And in this activity, I get my first Christmas miracle.

This is the tree of memories.  I have the pretty tree in the living room, but this tree holds my heart.

I unpack ornaments that graced my tree as a child:  a knitted stocking Mom made, needlepoint I did, wooden Santas as old as the hills that may have even come from Mom’s tree growing up, my grandmother’s Hallmark carousel ornaments.  I praise God that I grew up in the family that I did, with love and joy all around, and with Christmas memories that still bring me to tears.

I unpack the first Christmas ornaments that my mom so lovingly picked out for me and Keith, and Christmas ornaments that we got for our wedding from the Huffs and the Fontaines.  I praise God for a loving husband.  Even though he went home to Glory early, I would not have traded one moment with him.

I unpack the ornaments made by the boys over the years.  Some are crude and falling apart, but they make me smile.  I praise God for loving children, who love God, and who love me, despite my cranky days.

I unpack ornaments that Shari and Julie helped my boys to make a year after Keith died, the presents they gave me that year.  I praise God for friends who care enough to make my Christmas special.

I unpack a bell from Becky’s wedding, and bluebirds from Courtney’s, favors that have graced my tree since those blessed events.  I think back to the beautiful brides they were and praise God for their marriages and their children.

And then I find it.  It doesn’t look like much, but to me, it is priceless.  Aunt Hilda gave my sister and me each one…can’t even remember when.  It is about 1″ x 1/2″ x 2″…Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in a little glass box.  From the time I was little, I just knew looking at this ornament that it was real…He had been here as a baby, and a man, for me.

And that is the greatest miracle of all.

I pray that this moment can stay fresh in my mind through this entire Christmas season.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  – John 3:16

Five Years…Wow!

Five years ago today, my beloved husband journeyed on to Glory.

So much has changed in that time…yet so much has stayed the same.

When Keith died:

  • there were no IPads and the IPhone was brand new
  • we had not had an African American president
  • Osama Bin Laden was still at large
  • Haiti had not been severely damaged by an earthquake and Japan had not suffered a tsunami
  • we had not suffered a good-sized earthquake in Northern Virginia
  • Kosovo had not declared itself an independent country and been recognized as such
  • Facebook, Twitter, and blogs were not commonly used by everyone and did not provide a major vehicle for communication
  • the housing market was slipping but had not crashed

In our own family:

  • I was still taller than all of my children
  • we did not have a dog at all, much less two
  • Jackson and Tanner could not read
  • Alex did not play guitar and had no interest in being in the praise band
  • we were not out for much of anything past 7:30 at night
  • I did not get up at 5:00 to spend precious quiet time with Jesus every morning
  • we did not have company at every holiday, and any time we could think of an occasion to have people over

Yet so many things have stayed the same:

  • I am blessed and  privileged to still be able to homeschool my boys
  • I live in the same home, the dream home Keith so lovingly painted with all 17 paint colors I wanted
  • I have friends who have stuck by me for these five years, taking care of me and the boys, from the moment Keith died until now
  • Our church continues to be a home and a haven, blessing us and allowing us to bless them
  • God is still God – in His heaven, in control, in my corner, in my life…each and every day, and in each and every situation
  • I am His beloved daughter and by His grace I can stand – each and every day

And because of these blessings…because of this God and His love for little old me, I can have survived these five years.

And, by His grace, I will survive many more. 

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise You more and more.  My mouth will tell of Your righteous deeds, of Your saving acts all day long—though I know not how to relate them all. — Psalm 71:14-15

A Matter of Perspective

The end of last week, the deputy who lives in our neighborhood stopped to tell us that, really, we should be walking on the other side of the street, against the traffic.  Today was the first day I tried it.

It is amazing what a difference ten or fifteen feet makes!

Hmm, that birds’ egg blue trim is brighter than I thought it was.

Wow!  Those flower beds really look great!

Yuck!  That pothole sure is deep.

I saw new things, spoke to new people, on the “other” side.

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Isn’t all life like that…a matter of perspective?

Sometimes I need to look at things more closely to see what is really going on.

Why did he hit is brother?  Was it a ploy for attention…or some deeper issue?

Why am I feeling so out-of-sorts?  Do I need to take more me-time?

A new perspective can make a world of difference in the way I view my circumstances.  The things that bug me become small potatoes; the things I need to put more attention into come into focus.

All depending on how I look at them.

And the best perspective of all is…on my knees.

My days can be fraught with stress and confusion…and I have no human sounding board to help put me back into perspective.  That is when…especially…I need to turn to God to give me the perspective I need.  His is always perfect.

And I learned something else as well today.

Walking in this new way this morning, I had to keep reminding myself to cross the street.  I had to be diligent to avoid the old patterns.  I had to keep focusing on what was new and different, what new things I was seeing instead of the familiar, the old way.

How like me in my walk as well!  Keeping my eyes focused on the positive…on my Savior…makes all the difference.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. — 1 Peter 1:13