Monday, August 4, 2014

An Unexpected Moment with Jesus

Have you had a moment where God speaks to you so clearly you can't doubt that it's Him? The kind of moment you hold on to for the rest of your days and refer back to as a pillar of remembrance to His faithfulness?  The Lord has been gracious to me and faithfully taught me and spoken to me over the years through His word and through His people.  But He has also given me a few of those arresting moments in my life where His voice is loud and bold in speaking to my heart, transfixing me with His love.

One of those moments happened, unexpectedly, to me last week.  We had a new church member over having dinner with us and just before she left she casually handed me a shopping bag announcing that she bought me a gift and it just so happened to be my "half birthday"--or so she had discovered over dinner.

I opened the bag and inside was just this extravagant gift: a beautiful and carefully chosen handbag.  Not a hand me down (although I love hand me downs!), this was a name brand handbag--for me, an almost stranger to her--and I was just floored.  Like a gaping, staring, jumbling, teary eyed mess, I could not find words; I stumbled over my sentences.  I mean, who wouldn't love to be given an expensive gift?  But it was more than that.  It didn't make sense.  I could find no reason or explanation for such a gift--no prolonged friendship or previous debt she owed me, no magnificent feats or overly thoughtful deeds on my part, no intimate acquaintance or particularly shared interest.  Not only that, but it was the magnitude of the gift that was so confounding.  Again, who wouldn't be surprised by an extravagant gift?  But this was more than that.  The handbag won't last forever and the novelty of such a lovely thing will wear off, but what really happened to me in that moment was that I saw the love of Christ which surpasses all understanding.  I saw a gift that was modeled after the one that God has given to me in Christ Jesus.  A gift with insurmountable worth for no conceivable reason--an unmerited outpouring of extravagant favor.  It makes no sense!  And in that moment and the ones to come I was broken, humbled, and elated at the knowledge of God's love for me: how he loves me and pours out this unexpected and overwhelming love on me though I am undeserving.  Yes, it reminded me of this spiritual truth of my salvation, but it also demonstrated a current outpouring of undeserved love and favor from God at that very moment--a current grace.  I know I have salvation, but God reminded me that He continues to love and bless me all throughout my life and can at any moment arrest my attention with it.  I now call it "Betsy Johnsoning" me.  He tells me in His word that He has not withheld any good from me.  He has given me His best and His all without holding back any good when He gave me His one and only Son.  All that He does and allows in my life is viewed through that lens and security of His love--even the hard and heartbreaking things.  But at any moment He can swoop in and reveal Himself and His character and His overwhelming love to me by sending someone to my door with a Betsey Johnson bag for no reason and leave me completely gasping and wordless in awe of Him and His love for me. He doesn't always do it that way and He doesn't have to, because He has already given me His all and demonstrated once and for all His love for me by laying down His life for mine while I was His enemy--but at any time, in His own time, He can and He does.  In a time when I didn't feel worthy, wasn't looking,  and was doing nothing to earn, merit, or find Him, there He was before me displaying for my broken heart to see the magnificent firework show of His overwhelming love for me.  Why?  Because He is love--the very embodiment of it--because He loves me, and because He has chosen to set His love on me.  And I am undone.

A gift like that makes me want to love people boldly, extravagantly, and fiercely.  I want people to see how ridiculously crazy God's love is: how nonsensical and beyond reason it is to be loved like that.  Its like an electric shock to our souls when we are loved by Him.  And I can only love people in an arresting way like that through Him.  Without Him, all my efforts fall far short of magnificent like a little broken firework that never makes it past the first blade of grass before fizzling out.  Fill me up and send me out, Lord.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Anniversary de Proposal

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  For me, its the day 11 years ago, that David and I got engaged.  For the whole story, click the link for this old post.

David and me at our engagement party.  19 years old.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Time We Walked on Water

Errands were being run, people were coming over, there projects that needed to be worked on, and I was trying to figure out just how many things I could cram into the precious minutes left between leaving one store and getting to another and still have time to get home, tidy up, and prepare for our guests.

I was dragging Elliott and Caiden along on this endeavor, of course, and as we were driving along the road (we happened to be on an island) we glanced over to our left--where the land met the San Francisco bay--and beheld such a beautiful sight; the sun was setting down beneath San Francisco, setting the water aglow.  The tide was out farther than I've ever seen it.  The kids and I were in awe and suddenly I realized that the things that were driving me (chores, errands, projects) were not my captors--I held the keys to our freedom.  The choice was mine--stop and enjoy this beautiful moment or carry on and let the moment pass us by.

We stopped.  And it was beautiful and a thrillingly captivating adventure.  We made our way out, out, out onto the ooey gooey sand, treading upon surfaces which are normally forbidden to all except the sea creatures who make their home there.  We were a little wary and scared and I kept yelling at Caiden to try not to step too much in the puddles, but it was no use--her feet got soaked; all of our feet got wet and mucky, but no matter.  We triumphantly made it all the way out to the water's edge and soaked it all in.  We looked back to see how far we'd come; we watched and listened to the salty birds stretching their wings and exercising their lungs; we looked at all of the colors the sun was making; and we got surprised by the tide creeping in that got our toes even more wet inside of our shoes.  It was stinky, and wet, and beautiful.

For just a few moments during a very busy time, we had actually stopped and "smelled the roses" and its a stop I've never regretted.

We drank in God's beauty, thanked Him, and then jumped back on to the moving walkway of life, scrambled home, made dinner, and enjoyed the company of others.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Cup of Cocoa With Caiden

Have you ever noticed how after knowing a person for a while, you sometimes stop trying to get to know them?  That happens to me sometimes, especially with my family.  I've known my kids since birth and I see them every day so sometimes I simply assume I know everything I need to know.  But really, they have new thoughts and feelings every moment about which I will have no idea unless I ask.  Thank God for prayer, because without it, how would I ever make it as a parent?!  I think I would shrivel up with anxiety and stress.  There is so much I can miss out on and fail in.  But because of the promises in God's word I can rest.  Promises about how if I lack wisdom, I can ask God for it and He will liberally give me wisdom and not reproach me for asking.  Consequently, I am always asking Him for wisdom for how to steward over my kids and how to love them well; how to know them and understand their needs; how to use my time wisely and how to invest in them.  I don't always succeed, but there is grace for that as well and I know that God will complete the work He has started in my kids, regardless of my own shortcomings as a parent.

Today I realized that Caiden and I had an hour to ourselves while Elliott had basketball practice after school.  I considered all the things I could get done and all the errands I could run in that time, dragging Caiden along with me since she doesn't mind those sorts of things.  But I really felt prompted to lay aside my tasks and devote one small hour to some down time with just my little daughter and me.

So Caiden and I had an impromptu date at a little cafe near school.  We each got a hot chocolate (Caiden was delighted to discover the term "hot cocoa" today.  She's a language nerd.) and Caiden picked out a giant ginger cookie for us to split.  I really had to insist on the splitting part.  Caiden and I had a whole discussion on the way over to the cafe about what kind of treat we would get.  I suggested splitting a cookie and Caiden countered that suggestion with the idea of us each getting our own in case we couldn't agree on a flavor.  I told her that it is kind of nice to share something together, so she suggested we each get our own cookie and then split both cookies in half and share them.  In the end we got just one cookie and the flavor was fine for both of us. Mom 1, Caiden 0.

After we ordered, I let Caiden pick a spot to sit and she chose a table for 4 and I guiltily agreed since she's so cute and the shop didn't look too busy.  As soon as we sat down, the cafe filled up right along with my guilty conscience, but Caiden didn't notice and I didn't tell her that we were hogging up more room than we needed.  I noticed they had sugar cubes there, so I got one for her to try, remembering when my dad had let me try one once as a little girl when we had brought them as a snack to our horses.  Sadly, Caiden was not a fan of the sugar cube.  She also didn't like the homemade whipped cream in her cocoa so I scooped it out with a spoon and put it on the cookie plate.  After she had painstakingly drunk every last drop of hot chocolate by slurping it off of her spoon (this took roughly 35 minutes), she proceeded to eat the whipped cream by taking little swipes of it off the plate with her finger and licking it.  Meanwhile, I just let her talk.  

"We had science today.  I didn't tell you about that, but we have science sometimes."  

There were a few things that came up in conversation that she "hadn't told me about" before.  I gather, from these little comments, that Caiden really likes me to know what's happening in her life.  Sometimes at home she will be sitting on the toilet, or on her way to the toilet, and just randomly tell me some little tidbit of information that is completely pulled out of the sky, but is also some important detail she suddenly remembered to tell me.

As I sat in the coffee shop with my little six year old--who was a little unkempt, a little bit jumbled, and slightly ornery--I just kept praying that God would take this small hour and this little investment of my time (that yielded no immediate earth-shattering results) and multiply its yield.  In general, as a mom, I am just trusting Him to take my labor and cause there to be fruit.  Because labor as I might, I can never make anything actually grow--only God can make things grow.  So, I'll invest my time, I'll give up a little hour here, a few moments there, a listening ear, a focused gaze, I'll try to stop what I'm doing and turn my ear to my little ones when they seek my attention and then I'll trust God to make all of those little moments pay off.  And as I go, I pray, pray, pray for wisdom!

"If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." --James 1:5

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." --I Corinthians 3:7

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Time I Learned Caiden's Secret Identity

I have a daughter with a secret identity who leads a double life--she's only six years old.

Caiden is a mysterious six year old.  She also is extremely indecisive, which is why we make her pick out her clothes for school the night before.  Last night, she picked out her clothes and explained to me why she was choosing certain items. The outfit was khaki pants, a green baseball-type tee with glitter and the number 10 across the chest, and her Nike Air Jordans.  She told me there was going to be a running contest at school the next day so that's why she picked the shirt.  She kept talking about this running contest and I kept asking questions trying to figure out what was going on.

"We have to run around the WHOLE playground!" she told me.

In the morning, she got ready for school and we talked about it some more.  All she wanted for breakfast was an apple so on the way to school I made sure to remind her, "Make sure to eat school breakfast so you can have energy for the race!  Good luck!"  And then, just to tease her I asked, "Are you going to get 10th place? Because of your shirt?"  She smiled and got out of the car.

I was very curious about this race, so when I picked her up after school I asked her how it went and how she did.  I was worried she might be disappointed.

"I won!" she cried.  "I won 1st place!"

"What??" I asked.  I was completely shocked.  Caiden has not really exhibited much of an athletic personality so far.  And she hates things that have a winner and a loser.  She usually refuses to participate in things like that...  "Who did you race against?" I demanded.

We went back and forth for a few seconds until she explained, "I won the race.  And I am also the one who made up the race.  I raced everyone who was running around on the playground."

"Did they know they were racing you?"


So, it turns out that this whole time for the past day and half, our whole family has been involved in supporting Caiden for a school race that never even existed! HAHAHA!  This is exactly Caiden.  Caiden, who, I just found out at my recent "parent-teacher conference", has been secretly going by the nickname "Katie" at school.  "I asked her if it was okay and she said, 'yes'," her teacher responded when I corrected her by saying,

"You know her name is Caiden, right?"

After my conference, I asked Caiden if it was true that she was okay being called Katie and she said yes.

"Why?" I asked.

"I just prefer it." she answered nonchalantly.

"You PREFER it???"  I spit out.

" school." she replied simply.

These are the times I feel like Caiden has a secret life that I know nothing about.  Every once in a while she will throw me a bone and let me in on her hidden world, but randomly and when I least expect it.  I always have to be on the lookout for when she's dropping breadcrumbs or I'll miss out on the path that leads to knowledge.  Knowledge of the inner workings of Caiden's brain.