He Messy, Bloody Loves Us

If you spend much time in the church or around Christ followers you’ve heard these words a thousand times:

“God loves you.”

We’re conditioned to it, we see it on billboards and t-shirts, hear it in song lyrics and on the lips of people on the street corner.

“God loves you!”

Where does your mind go when you hear these words?  Do you think of something small like a latte or a car?

Have these words lost their power over your soul from overuse?  I’d like to go out on a limb and say that I think that for all of us, they have.

I have to confess that lately I’ve become keenly aware of where my mind goes when I think about the love God has for me.  And you know what I’ve found?  I focus on the small potatoes, the very temporary, the daily bread type of gifts, this isn’t bad but it’s certainly not all.

Yes God is good, we’ve sold our home and found a rental.
Yes God loves me, we have enough grocery money to for milk, eggs and bananas.
Yes God loves me, we have two beautiful children.
Yes, God loves me, I’ve found time to pray over a warm cup of coffee in the dimly lit morning of our living room near my favorite Target lampshade.  I am blessed.

Yes, these are good gifts, 1,000 gifts worth counting.

But, I have to confess that all too often I forget that it is ever so much bigger than my cup of coffee.  Not only has he given me bread, children and a new house in my home state but he has set me free.

Free.  Free.  Free.

Free from defining my life by these small things.
Free from the relentless dance of earning my salvation
Free from fear
Free from sin
Free from death.

messy bloody loves

Yes, coffee, Yes houses but guys…. freedom from sin and death?  Hope in the direst moments of grief?  A copy of the final chapter?

A knowledge that he is going to set every painful thing back to right and quench the thirst of a creation that cries for him?  I’m sorry but I need this so much more than I need bread.

Have we become desensitized to the true meaning behind the reminder that we are loved by the God of the universe?

Maybe I need a little less thanks for daily bread and a little more thanks for this freedom over death that, upon reflection makes me want to go in the backyard and dance like a fool in my pajamas, to hell with what the neighbors think.  (truthfully I think they expect crazy at this point)

We need both types of thankfulness, that of bread and of salvation but honestly? My thankfulness teeter-totter in uneven in favor of the small and temporary evidences of God’s love.

I see the small, the coffee and bread and I think that’s where it ends, I forget that it’s just the introduction to the book of love that God has written for me, for my life.

It’s Holy week, It’s Easter, and yes I am daily thankful for the small things, We are conditioned to pray for the daily bread.  It’s so good to do so.

But guys, he beat death, we win! I get to see my whole, restored redeemed parents again!

This pain and depression has an expiration date, the fighting the bickering, the death and suffering has already been licked.

God loves you, he forever beat death loves you, he messy, bloody loves you.

And all the people said…. Amen, Holy, Bloody, Beautiful Amen.x

Easter, my new favorite

Easter is > than Christmas (to me at least, I'm not wiling to go to fisticuffs about it)

When you walk down the center aisle of any mega store like Target or (God help you) WalMart you’re always reminded of what holiday you’re supposed to be gearing up for.  As soon as one Holiday is done we start thinking about the next one and each year is a new cycle and seems to bring more pressure to perform, decorate, cook and above all else, BUY. MORE. STUFF!

I love celebration but sometimes I think that we are doing it all wrong these days and wearing ourselves out all while missing out on the thing we’re meant to remember.

Yesterday was Easter, and perhaps one of the loveliest Easters I’ve ever had.  This weekend we went to a super cute pinkilicious birthday party, an easter egg hunt party full of friends and a small and scrumptious Easter dinner with our friends Joely and Jason.  This weekend was a gift and none went deeper than Easter morning, in the middle of the church message, which really hit home for me, I realized that Easter had just earned a spot as my new over all favorite holiday.

I’ve always held the #1 spot to Christmas, but to be honest I’m beginning to dread December. This is really sad because it’s been favorite month of the year for my whole life, I measure my year by it.  The problem is that I haven’t figured out a way to do Christmas without insane stress.  I want to, but I’m just not there yet and so every year I get caught up in making or buying the perfect thing.  Before Christmas ever arrives I’m too drained to savor the season or find much of Jesus in it at all.  I know, sad.

Easter on the other hand doesn’t bring with it so much work and it leaves so much more brain space to tumble around the story and the impact of the cross and empty tomb.  I’m allowed to get all swept up in Holy Week and the Easter season and I emerge from it deeply nourished by the game changer that is Easter Sunday.

Also when I really reflect on the Christmas manger and its precious gift  I find myself thinking of all he has ahead of him and I’m left feeling guilty and torn.  This infant will grow up knowing that he’ll suffer and die for me, I don’t deserve that.  He’s perfect and precious and my momma heart aches at knowing that his own mom watched him endure unspeakable torture on my behalf.

But Easter is the key that makes every other part of our story unlock.  It is the end to what Christmas began.  All the pain and the suffering of Christ is behind him and he beat death to a pulp permanently, the sting is gone!  My too busy mind is strangely happy that we can celebrate his checked off to-do list.  Be born: Check, Gather a posse of disciples: check, Die: check, Beat Death: Boom! check check.

That checked off list means our lives make sense!  When I go forward to take communion each Sunday, this final checked box brings the redemption and restoration we are all so hungry for.

Perhaps right now I’m all wrapped up in Easter Sunday and not allowing myself to reap the deep benefits of the manger and the cross.  I know that they are all the story of one God/Man, our precious savior however I think my frail humanity would explode if it all hit me at once.  The sheer volume and depth contained in the story of Jesus from the prophecies to the empty tomb is more than one mind can process in a lifetime, let alone a weekend or a moment.

Easter is our freedom and we live Forever Sunday.  That empty tomb is our comfort and the reason we have hope!  We are constantly being rescued and restored by it and spending time to celebrate that makes it my new favorite.

Easter Ever After

Tonight I took the kids to an outdoor concert on the green at the college Kel works at.  I was pretty worn out and tempted not to go, but something inside me knew how much we needed to be all together, the four of us, after a long week of busy evenings and meetings.

The kids were almost an hour past their normal dinnertime and I rarely push them past 5:30.  Yet, once we got to the campus green and they saw our students tossing footballs and frisbees as the band warmed up they dashed off in two different directions.  We had to switch to man on man to ensure that there was safety and minimal dirt eating.

My daughter was enamored by all the pansy boarders the university had planted, well that and seeing which of the red brick buildings she could break into

My son wanted to be in the worship band and eat all the pizza, I’m pretty sure he’s already ready for college or he will be once he starts walking and can strum a  guitar properly.

As they crawled and ran all over the grass the outdoor worship service started and I watched as my children found their own unique ways of participating.  Noelle wove her way through the college students on the grass while we kept a watchful eye.  Caedmon on the other hand insisted on charging the stage and no matter where he was on the green he would crawl to the stage like a music seeking missile.  He had a rhythm of crawl, stop, boogie dance, keep crawling.

he was determined to crawl on stage, I don't know if he would have jammed with the band or chewed on the cords...

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My passover connection

Kel prefers the Old Testament over the New One.  He likes it way old school and some of this had rubbed off on me.  We talk every now and then about why as New Testament Christians we often fail to connect our practices with those found in the Old Testament.  I think that we are missing out on some significant truth by practicing mainly NT Traditions.  So, since Kel likes to keep it OT and for the past three years I have prepared a passover feast for the college students we minister to.

The main event of preparing passover is roasting the leg of lamb, and yes I am glad you asked, I have a few pictures of these previous lamb legs.

1) Year one, an “Oh %#&* I have no idea what I am doing” kind of year which involved me thawing a leg of lamb in my bathtub.

Bet you've only had human legs in your bathtub.

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