Who do you follow? {Walking in Freedom}

Recently I have had the opportunity to be involved in some exciting things, good Kingdom building things. But like he tries to do with anything good, Satan is trying to use these things to start a storm in me and keep me bound up in things that either don't matter, or matter less than what really matters. I have felt tangled up in the comparison game, which if we are being honest is often more of a competition than a game. I look around and it seems like other people have been given such an audience, such a platform to shout truth about the glory of God. I vacillate back and forth between shameful envy and shameful guilt thinking that I must not be putting the right message out there, or God would be blessing me more in this area.

{Isn't it ugly when we treat God as if He is a puppet on our strings?}

Worrying about who is following you is a bound up place to be. While I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given lately, the greater opportunity that comes from this seems to be the chance to look inside myself, see what I am bound up by, and begin to let God untangle me. Once again, His grace is more.

{God isn't the one tangled in the puppet strings, I am.}

The Chase Part 2

The other day I shared about the not-so-fun game my kids and I play, the game where they chase me down and corner me. I imagine them as villagers wielding pitch forks and torches but in reality it is more likely that they are carrying plastic swords and parasols. The villagers keep chasing me with their incessant requests & needs and I keep running away. No one is winning this game. You can read Part 1 of "The Chase" here. 

Today, I am super excited and honored to be sharing Part 2 of "The Chase" over at "To Choose Joy" ! You can read Part 2 here. It promises to be full of ridiculous 7th grade me, in all my sweaty, nervous glory! How is that for a draw, right?

To Choose Joy

And while you are there please be sure to look around at my friend Becky's website; it is as beautiful as she is! Becky is one of the most genuine, faithful, inspiring, JOYFUL people I have ever met. Read her story. I promise it will encourage you and draw you nearer to God!

 I would also ask that you take a couple minutes to pray for Becky and her family. It is not an easy road they have, but they walk it with such grace- bringing God the glory.

I hope you enjoy Part 2 of The Chase and meeting my friend Becky!

The Chase Part 1

I have a confession. I have never read or seen The Hunger Games. Hopefully that statement is not so polarizing that it prevents you from still being my friend, either Internet or flesh (if that doesn't sound too awkward). I don't know a ton about it either, but I know enough to feel kinda sorta like there is a real life game going on in my own home. I not-so-affectionately refer to it as "The Chase". (Apparently we have upped our intensity since I wrote about our game of Hide and Seek.)

The basic premise of "The Chase" is for the children in our home to relentlessly pursue the mother in our home, to corner her, badger her, and surround her on all sides with requests for snacks, TV shows to be played off the DVR and craft scissors from the top shelf. The mother has no safe zone, not even the toilet or shower is considered safe. She does, however, get bonus points if she can eat a peanut butter chocolate chip granola bar without anyone finding her out and pouncing. Sometimes though, even after the fact, a stray wrapper or crumb may do her in. The mother must be crafty, and not just in the pinterest-y way. Meanwhile, from their strategy it appear that this is the breakdown of how the children in our home earn points:

Thoughts from Gethsemane

Sometimes the internet just gives you the best gifts: the perfectly worded meme, an inspirational (and unattributed) quote, a video of someone making a fool of themselves-just what you need as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Many a time during witching hour the internet has saved me. Yesterday it gave again. With Easter in just a few days so many of you are sharing inspirational truth. My facebook newsfeed (let's use the word "news" loosely here) and my instagram are littered with pictures of  three crosses silhouetted on a hill and hand-lettered scripture nested in a bouquet of water-colored flowers that I most certainly do not know the name of because I am no botanist. I kill everything green, or that is supposed to be green.

This Easter I have felt myself feeling a bit angsty over all these posts. Don't get me wrong. I love them. I love their beauty. I love their meaning. I love their truth. I even love to let out a slightly troubled laugh at the occasional Easter themed Jesus Juke. The problem isn't the posts; its me. For some reason this season I wanted more. To be honest, I have felt a little blasphemous about the whole thing. I have sat with my Bible and read and re-read the story of Jesus' last week on earth, his death and resurrection, in every book of the Gospels. I don't know what I was looking for. Did I really think I would find something new? Could there really be anything better than what was already written there- that Jesus took MY sin upon him, undeservedly suffered MY punishment and then conquered sin and death to claim victory for ME?

The story could never get old, but yet I found myself tearfully pleading with God for Him to let it wash over me with new, personal meaning. Give me something new in the Good News-some new sprout of hope, one that even I can't kill.

And then the Internet delivered in the form of a John Piper quote.

Encouragement for the Mom Hiding in the Bathroom

First off, let's just be clear. I am the mom hiding in the bathroom. I am my own audience here, guys. I totes hide in the bathroom on the daily, sometimes with a secret sugar, until the bathroom gets too filthy to be considered much of a refuge and then I just hide in there and shake my head at how inept our cleaning lady is. Seriously though. She's the worst.

I thought you should know that because I would hate for you to think I was preaching from some non-hiding-in-the-bathroom-and-stress-eating-mom-pedestal. And apparently I would also hate for you to think that my house was any cleaner than one notch above "hazmat". I am sure you are encouraged already. With that firm foundation laid we can move forward.

A few months back I read a familiar passage in Mark and it struck me anew, as scripture has an awesome way of doing. It was the passage from Mark 6:30-44 where Jesus feeds the 5000. Now, if you grew up in church you have probably heard this story yourself what feels like 5000 times. That's a bit how I felt reading it, but with this read the story touched me like it hadn't before, and I don't think I can ever look at it the same way again.

Hair-lickers and Mothering Ideals

I looked in the backseat and there she was, eating leftover breakfast out of her hair. Never mind the fact that her usual hairstyle looked like something out of "The Boxcar Children", now she was using her hair as a spoon, and with more accuracy than I had ever seen her use any utensil before, hence  this whole scene unfolding in the first place. I remember turning to Peter and remarking that she was going to show up to church looking like she had just climbed out of a puddle, if puddles were made of oatmeal, and she was wearing the purple rainboots to match. Maybe she would at least smell like sugar and spice.

Something kind of funny happens the more kids you have, and I say "kind of funny" because it is also kind of pathetic and terrifying and embarrassing too. So its the "laugh and throw up your hands but your eyes are really pleading 'help me' " sort of funny. The more kids you have, the more your ideals go out the window. At first this is probably a good thing. I mean what newborn was ever happy with a flower headband the size of her entire body and what 15 month old is thinking, "man, this sitting on the potty seat is so fun. I wish we spent all our Saturdays this way, every hour on the hour. I have no desire to play with blocks or poop my pants...or play with blocks while I poop my pants ever again! Diapers are so last year. And I bet we are having trapezoid shaped tofu as a reward for dinner tonight, because I am a vegan who totally already knows what a trapezoid is. Why is Mommy sweating and crying in the corner?" (I don't mean to offend. I'mean just saying we can all let our ideals get out of whack.)

In fact I think the main purpose child #2 served in our house his entire first year was helping me break down my ridiculous ideals. At the time I was pretty sure his purpose was to let me know I was a horrible mother, but time has given me a little perspective on that one. I know now that I am not horrible, but marginal. And if abolishing crazy-lady ideals was not the main purpose for #2, it was hands down #3's purpose: my purple boot wearing, hair licking, free-spirit. And then by the time #4 came 5 months ago, I realized I didn't really have many ideals left. Turns out that isn't the best place to be either.

My biggest problem: 2 years after the diagnosis

755 Days. That's how many days ago my dad got his formal diagnosis of Younger Onset Alzheimer's. 2 years and 3 1/2 weeks ago our lives were forever changed when we were told what in the dark, unadmitting places in our hearts we already knew. There is something about a diagnosis that slaps denial in the face and punches optimism in the gut. A couple of words can carry with them so much weight that after they trample over top of you, you lay there for a while, nursing your wounds. And that is exactly how I felt on January 15, 2014 when I got the phone call. My insides caved in on themselves at the words, and moments later I found myself still on the bed, in a heap, battered and whimpering like a wounded animal. And the truth is, I still find myself there sometimes. Because the grief that a few words carry with it can be tricky. It sneaks up on you and takes your feet right out from under you sometimes.

In these past 755 days I have learned more than in the thousands of days before. Pain is a very good teacher, if you pay attention. For most of the first year I learned a lot about grief, suffering and God's amazing, tender, un-ending, far-reaching, wrap-me-up-in-a-hug kind of love. (You can read a bitty synopsis of what I gleaned from the first year after the diagnosis here. )

This next year, I have learned entirely new things, things that might actually be more painful, which I would not have thought possible. For the first year every song at church, every inspirational quote from all the wise meme makers out there, every bible verse, applied so perfectly to the magnitude of my grief. It was daunting and right in from of me. I couldn't see past it, so everything I did see I was seeing as I looked through it. Alzheimer's became my rose colored glasses. So while I was facing deep sorrow I had been largely unfamiliar with prior, I was also presented, by the grace of God, with incredible comfort, insight and strength.

I won't say the grief subsided this past year, because the horrible thing about Alzheimer's is that the grief keeps coming in waves, a slow, steady grief, that never really lets you get your footing before it comes crashing in again. But I would say that it has changed a bit, or I have changed. Maybe it is growth. Maybe it is my tendency to stuff and deny. I'm not sure. Whatever the reason, I can see past it a bit. It is always there in the corner of my eye, and sometimes comes back and blocks my vision again almost entirely, but for the most part not everything is seen through the lens of Alzheimer's and all it brought along with it. This past year I was seeing with new vision.

And because God is gracious, because God loves me and wants what is best for me, I did not like what I saw much of this past year. What I saw told me that my biggest problem isn't Alzheimer's. It isn't grief. It isn't suffering, or pain, or injustice, or challenges of any kind. My biggest problem isn't carbs. It isn't my struggles to spell or type or proofread. And no guys, it is not the fact that man-buns are trendy now...or that there are men whose messy buns look better than mine. (Poor bald Peter is missing out on this one. Light a candle for his hair.) This past year God allowed quite a few more proverbial punches to my gut, and they came in waves much like the grief-one right after another, punches that made me realize what my biggest problem really is. My sin.

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