Saturday, March 25, 2017

It's Not Over Yet

It's no secret that birthdays make me nostalgic and emotional and eager to celebrate. Imagine what is happening in my head and heart as my little girl, my baby, approaches her 20th birthday next week.

I'm sure all moms experience this. The memories of their childhood rush in. The cute, the irresistible, the happy, the good, the bad, the ugly.

Since my three children will be in their 20's as of next week, I sort of feel like I'm on the other side so I want to talk to the young moms today. (Older women, I'll get to you at the end.) You don't need me to tell you that the days go quickly or to appreciate them while they're little. I know this is not particularly helpful and can make you feel guilty. Not today.

Instead maybe you need someone to address the issue of how to survive the hard days. Maybe you're worried about what kind of adult your strong willed child will turn out to be. Maybe you're afraid everything you try will backfire. Maybe you wonder if you're ruining your child. Maybe you cry yourself to sleep some nights because it feels like you're failing.

I've wondered all those things. I worried about each one. I've cried those tears.

There were days my husband came home to, "I don't know which one of us is going to survive this." In defeat, I lamented, "When she leaves our house she will surely say, 'I could never please that woman.'"

And after some tumultuous teenage years, I feared she wouldn't be able to get out of here fast enough and wondered (and doubted if I'm honest) if when she became an adult we would be good friends.

What do you do when you're tired of the fight? When nothing seems to work. When you're sick of giving the same lecture(s). When you wonder if anything will stick. When you've prayed all the prayers you can think of.

You phone a friend. You get very real and throw pride out the window. You confess. You cry if you need to. You ask advice. You receive support and prayers.

I know I am one of the lucky ones. We raised our kids in a large church where I had many friends. Some were peers, in the same stage of life. Some were a little further down the road, having raised their kids. All were an integral part of my survival. And Ally's too, I suppose.

I can't stress enough how much I needed someone to say:
"Keep going. It will sink in. Don't give up. You can do this."
When one who understands your family dynamic and has freedom to speak truth, defending the child says, "It's not easy living with the Brothers Wonderful."

Not to mention the friends who were especially hopeful:
 "Don't worry. She'll be a leader one day." (This, of course, is the nice way of referring to bossy. Don't ask me how I know or who she takes after.)
"She's a good kid. A really good kid and will be an amazing adult."

You see, sometimes when you're in the war you simply don't see it.
Until one day you do.
And you fall to your knees in praise because you know God came through.
That picture. Her words under it. Blows my mind.

At some point, one friend challenged me to give thanks in advance. Before I see the end product. Faith prayers that went (and continue) something like this:

"Father, I know you are writing the story of my child's life. You love her more than I do. You have a plan for her life. Your Word says you will finish the work you started (in her).* So even though I can't see it, I thank you now that you will do a beautiful work in her one day. Amen."

I now believe them to be pivotal and powerful.

Tuesday she will be 20 and she's amazing.
Or should I say God has done something amazing and beautiful in a young woman's life.
So many prayers spoken, begged at times. Now answered. Glorious!

The difficult, arguing, not always fun to be with child has been transformed. She's sweet, thoughtful, caring, funny and a delight to be with. Most importantly, her heart is soft. She apologizes, seeks reconciliation quickly, and is teachable. She constantly asks her parents for advice (praise hands).

She remembers her church-infused childhood with both fondness and some regret.
She has the best self-depracating sense of humor of anyone you've met.
She loves God and His Word and wants His plan for her life.
She senses a call to ministry, willing for it to be anything God decides.
She's leaving the details and timing in His hands.
She hopes for an upright, Christian husband to assist in ministry and share the gift of children and responsibility of raising the next generation up in the faith.

Scott and I marvel. God is and was in control the whole time. Changed lives are His specialty. He's always been doing something good even though we couldn't see it at all times. My friends say, "I'm not surprised. I knew it would happen. Of course she's awesome."

Which is why I implore you to cozy up next to older parents. The ones who see your kids' potentials when you're buried in the messy today. Those who will hold your hand, dry your tears, pray you through, affirm your efforts, and send you back in the battle, reminded, better equipped and fortified.

Here I'd like to name names, but I think you know who you are. Thank you. Thank you so much. Check out the fruit - I believe a good portion will be credited to you.

Lastly, to those of you who are ahead in the race. Look behind you and when you find an exasperated parent, approach with kindness and understanding, then walk with them. If I believe anything about God's will appropriated to individuals, I believe He has made His purpose clear for women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2

He knows we are all connected and what we need. I just love Him so much for including these words in the Bible.

P.S. He's not only doing a work in your childrens' lives that will one day be revealed, but He is doing it in yours too. He changed this mother. She's not so naggy, suspicious and easily irritated. Oh, but she can still deliver an on-the-spot lecture like a champ!

So chin up and put your trust and hope in Him. 

If no one has told you lately - let me - you have a special kid who has many gifts to offer the world and that kid has a great mom.

*Phil. 1:6 "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Space + Time = Clarity

It never ceases to amaze me that when we create space in our lives for a specific period of time and ask God to fill it with what He wants, He does - in abundance!

As Lent approached and I considered what I could 'give up' in an effort to have more room to consider the last weeks of Jesus' life on Earth, I murmured to God, "What would I miss more...coffee or chocolate?" (because you know you have to choose that thing(s) you really want on a daily (or hourly) basis).

The voice in my head said, "social media".

"Excuse me? Coffee or chocolate?"
"You heard Me."
"Not that."
"Yes, that."

I confess I was worried I couldn't do it.That's embarassing. Always wanting to be invited to the party,  what would I miss?

Long story short of the battle of wills - I deleted my apps. (I've learned - sometimes the hard way - it's always best for God to win because when He wins, I win.)

Been ten days now and I'm fine. In fact, I'm better than fine. I no longer look at my phone every few minutes or need to charge my phone everyday - or for a few days (how embarassing).

The even bigger story of course is how much margin has emerged. I'm not preoccupied with real news or fake news, drama in the lives of 'friends' who I may or may not even be engaged with on a regular basis, or the feelings of anxiousness that often accompany all that. Also, I have more time than ever to read the books stacked on my nightstand and listen during times of prayer.

I'm free! The space in my mind and heart now inhabited with all I'm reading as I prepare my heart for Easter is a gift I'm so thankful for.

Today God just blew my mind again. Have I mentioned how much I love reading through the Bible and seeing themes emerge (and that you should try it)? Consider it mentioned.*

In case you've heard otherwise, the book of Revelation are not even slightly intimidating. The first chapters are especially interesting and easy to understand. John is receiving images and instructions as God is critiquing seven churches. It's so applicable to us as the church and individuals.

Each has similar elements. (1) He praises them for what they are doing right and/or enduring. (2) He confronts what they're not doing so well. (3) He gives each a promise.

These promises are goosebump inducing. Check it out.

1. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (2:7)
2.  The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. (2:11)
3.  To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. (2:17) So intimate and relationship-driven.
4. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them. (2:26)
5. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (3:5) Us - presented with pride.
6.  The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. (3:12) --3 Names!!!
7.  The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. (3:21) Whoa. 

Hopefully you're jumping up and down with me right now. Or at least smiling ear to ear. Those are some hefty sure-things!

Perhaps you also noticed the common denominator? Not everyone is included - only a certain group of people jackpot these promises. Conquerors.

Hmmmm. That's not a word that crosses my mind often. Reminds me of medieval times.

Webster's definition of conquering:
 to gain mastery over or win by overcoming obstacles or opposition; 
to overcome by mental or moral power.

Can we just take a minute and let that settle?
Those are some powerful verbs and I dig them.
Not because I think I rock at them or that it will easy, but because if God promises to reward conquerors, then becoming a conqueror is possible with His help!

Gain mastery. Win by overcoming obstacles or opposition. Overcome by moral power.  Ooooo. Christ-followers can master and overcome...no wimps here!

Before we land on just this good news, which is important and super motivating, let's remember what comes before the promises. I wonder what He would say to me.
I know your ___________ and how well you ______________, BUT I have _________________ against you.

Gulp.
If you're like me, you pay more attention to the 2nd part, what we're not doing so well in. You know, the spiritual discipline of self-punishment or self-torture. I don't think this is God's intent or very fruitful if prolonged and results in our paralysis.

For sure we need to honestly self-critique and make the adjustments necessary to please God. But we also need to stop, reflect and possibly celebrate what we have and are getting right.

God does...so we should too. Successes are motivating toward becoming conquerors! The spiritual discipline of celebrating growth?

Maybe the modification below is more accurate...? You fill in the blanks with your stuff.

Dear ________,

I know your ___________  (great job!) and how well you ______________ (congratulations!), BUT I have _________________ against you (repent and sin no more)Because when you become a conqueror, I have unimaginable things planned for you.

Your Heavenly Father who loves you so much,
God

We're merely over a week into Lent and have learned this - Space + Time = Clarity. Not too late to get some of your own.

 *P.S. this is not nagging, I promise.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Go Get It

Confession. During my last year of high school, the office only had my signature on file in the space that belonged to my mother. That's right, every excuse for being late, skipping school or missing assignments, I wrote it. Seems like I was always trying to get myself off the hook for all sorts of offenses or laziness. Whenever caught, I never owned up to it. I could always find a scapegoat. (Yes, I was a rotten kid!) Result: I was going nowhere fast or good.

Let's be honest. Sometimes when life gets hard, it's easy to blame others or circumstances for why we aren't who we want to be or where we want to be.

I guess there are three types of people.
1. The ones who blame others and do nothing about it.
2. The ones who blame themselves yet do nothing about it.
3. The ones who take responsibility and make necessary changes.

Pretty sure I've been in every category at varying times of my life. But the older I get, the more aware I am of how little time is left and it's no one's fault but my own if I'm not growing or achieving my goals.

Projecting that responsibility to someone or something else just enables me to stay stuck.

I'm reading Eric Metaxes's book 7 Women and the Secret of Their Greatness and saw the movie Hidden Figures the other day.* Here are some lives that can really inspire. These women had vision, guts and motivation - not just for their own advancement, but to win something for those coming behind.

Besides their faith in Jesus, I think a common denominator is that each one owned their own cause, passion and/or circumstance.

Ties into what I'm reading about Jesus' disciples. How in the world could the Gospel have spread the way it did (thousands of souls saved at a time), had they said to themselves, "this environment isn't helping me" or "I'm not growing because of my church. I don't get anything out of it." or "If so-n-so did such-n-such, I'd be able to succeed at thus-n-so."?

There comes a time in every life when one must strap on a seatbelt and declare, "if I want fill in the blank then I have to make the decisions and effort that will get me there." What's that old Nike slogan? Just do it.

Life as I know it is now filled with twenty-something-year-olds, my kids included. I'm learning a lot about their generation. They've got so much potential and good hearts but the temptation to settle loom near.

If I could give a piece of advice, it would be this.

If you find yourself stuck or stagnant, not moving forward, don't write yourself a pass.
No excuses.

If you want to grow spiritually, don't blame your lack of momentum on anyone or a current situation.
Make the changes you need to make.
Read your Bible. Do what it says. Pay attention to its' warnings and avoid the traps.
Pray. Ask God to help you.
Watch for His movement and join what He's doing.
Forgive the jerks. Love everyone. Serve anyone.
Deny yourself. Get rid of the things that are holding you back. Don't sin.
Give thanks. Glorify God in all ways.

You're only given one life. Don't waste it waiting for it to be spoon fed to you.  
Go get it.

Not sure where to start? Check out this amazing chapter in the Bible...Colossians 3...there's so much here I can't begin to highlight. Well, maybe just a little.

This is what I pray for you...

1-2 So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

3-4 Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

5-8 And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God. It’s because of this kind of thing that God is about to explode in anger. It wasn’t long ago that you were doing all that stuff and not knowing any better. But you know better now, so make sure it’s all gone for good: bad temper, irritability, meanness, profanity, dirty talk.

9-11 Don’t lie to one another. You’re done with that old life. It’s like a filthy set of ill-fitting clothes you’ve stripped off and put in the fire. Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete. Words like Jewish and non-Jewish, religious and irreligious, insider and outsider, uncivilized and uncouth, slave and free, mean nothing. From now on everyone is defined by Christ, everyone is included in Christ.

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

15-17 Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.

 So good! Move out of the backseat and get upfront where Jesus, who loves you so much, is driving. Best adventure you can imagine up ahead.

P.S. I'm crazy about you too.

______________________________
 *highly recommend both book and movie



P.S.S. I'm just going to leave these here.. 
because I'm an obnoxious first time grandmother.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Please, I Beg You

Dear Drew, Ben and Ally,

I was thinking about you this morning during our church service here at Camp. Since we won't be eating a meal together today or anytime soon (sniff sniff), I thought I'd write you. Pretend we're at the table and I just went to get my Bible.
Don't roll your eyes! It may start out as a little rant, but you're used to that.

Oh, and I left Brittany out of this note not because I don't consider her one of my kids or that she couldn't benefit, but mother-in-laws have to tread lightly in these areas.

So here we go.

First...please, I beg you to put your phones away more often and particularly for one hour/hour and a half each Sunday. (Yes, I'm preaching to myself too.)

Beth Moore recently spoke at Passion Conference and said this to a room full of young adults your age.

"Every generation of Jesus followers faces cultural challenges that will 
make or break its' witness. At this moment in time, 
I believe that there are two that loom large over you.
The first is pure distraction. Your lives will go by in a flash 
and then you will stand before the enormity and holiness 
and glory of God and the essence of insanity 
will be to have missed the Son of God over social media."*

That makes me shudder. Does it you? Oh please, I beg you, pay attention to Jesus.

When at church, don't even take your phone out. The temptation is too great to scroll. Playing mindless games is no good either. Don't use a Bible app unless you are travelling and don't have room to actually bring The Book with you. Hold your precious copy in your hands and read along. Write notes in it, underline, find truth yourself as you listen and follow along. This is impossible if you are playing a game or scrolling through social media. God won't shout over other noises, you could miss Him.

Second, please, I beg you to hunger and thirst for God's righteousness (Matthew 5:6). I pray that for you daily and for me and for Dad.

If you hunger for Him, you will not seek to be entertained or filled with the counterfeit pleasures and enchantments the world has to offer. If you thirst for Him, He will lead you to and flood you with Living Water that only He can give (John 14:4). And that satisfaction is what leads to the abundantly filled life.

If you hunger and thirst for Jesus, you will put yourself in position (church) and posture (listening with full attention/no phone) to feast on His Word.

You kids were raised in church and on weekly (understatement) sermons. You know what I'm about to say. Spiritual growth is not accidental. You won't stumble into a vital, life changing, exciting, passionate, intentional relationship with Jesus Christ who loves you more than anyone else does. It comes with purpose, hard work and repetition.

A practical way to pursue that life - here's where the pastor's sermon comes in - is this...(did you wonder if I was ever going to get to it?)

Our speaker today said so many wise things I wrote in my heart and in my journal. But this one really stuck out and struck deep...

"Start each day with a question. 'What do I have to get done today?' 
is the wrong one. 'Who do I want to become?' is the right one. 
When you have the answer then move on to the next thing - the practice of strategically scheduling the things that will get you to that goal. 
In other words, if you want to make your faith the priority of your life
and your relationship with Jesus more deep and intimate, 
schedule time to sit and pray, talking with Him and listening."

Other examples: 
If you want to be more Christlike, schedule time to read your Bible and learn what Jesus' patterns and disciplines and characteristics look like. Then imitate.

(side note because I can't resist this carrot: How can one be like Jesus if one doesn't know how Jesus interacted with others, what He valued or what He taught? God was so kind to have it written and preserved for us. See why reading the Bible is more than just a good idea?)

If you want to be a good friend who makes others feel important and valued, schedule time to be with one and practice listening and encouraging.

Get the idea? What's the answer to the question for you?

Lastly, please, I beg you, be aware of the distractions that can so quickly derail you from who you want to be and where you want to go.  Know your triggers. Then reject them with a fury. You can't afford not to. Your very purpose in life to glorify God by showing your world who He is and how He loves is at stake.

You can always rest on the reality that Dad and I pray for you everyday. We are cheering you on along with some others....

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, 
let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1,2

Listen to Mommy and listen to Beth. Don't miss the best stuff.

You are so loved,
Mom

PS. I just had a thought. Let's add to our New Year's collection. The Spiritual Discipline Of Not Taking Our Phones Out in Church. The Spiritual Discipline of Hungering and Thirsting After Righteousness. The Spiritual Discipline of Knowing What Will Distract Us From the Important and Rejecting Them.  Yes, yes I like that a lot. Woohoo - it can't be stopped. You can roll your eyes now.


*To hear the 2nd cultural challenge, find the video on youtube. You want to hear it, trust me.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tangled

Winter has a firm grip on us here in the Adirondacks and it is nothing short of gorgeous.


I love a day like today when I can sit in my red chair by my huge window looking at the frozen lake and snow capped mountains in the distance under a sunny blue sky for as long as I want. Day off - woohoo!

Remember last year in many posts here I wrote about themes that pop up in the Bible as we read it cover to cover? Can you handle more?

For 2017 I decided to start with the New Testament for something different. After all, in December we celebrate the first coming of Jesus to the earth, why not jump right into the narrative on his life? Well, as always, it is not disappointing. Reading the Bible never is.

Being a word nerd, I can't help but pick up on frequently used words. My favorites this time around are believe and describing how the eyewitness of Jesus' life and ministry repeatedly responded, astonished, amazed, marveled, astounded, adding beyond measure, greatly, utterly and exceedingly to really drive the point home. That's a lot of enthusiasm.

I may have no choice but to add the spiritual discipline of marveling to my New Year's list. If you don't know what I'm referring to, catch up here.

Well, I can get off track pretty quickly. Ahem.

Anyway, I just finished the book of John. I do believe I have found a favorite section of the Gospels - John 14-16. These three chapters are jammed full of important truths and promises God has made to us through Jesus. Want to have a little nerd fun with me? (This is where you go get a cup of coffee and plan to spend 20 minutes with me.)

Notice the repetition and intimacy in Jesus' words:

14:1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”...
 
12 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”  
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you...

 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full...

15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours...
 
26 But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning...

16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

I know that was a lot. But did you see it too? The Father in Jesus, Jesus in us, the Spirit in the Father and Jesus, the Spirit in us. Mine. Yours. Ours. With you. Never leave you. Make our home with. In you...and on and on. Brings a song to mind, "We're all in this together....".*

God is not a far away God looking on from a distance, wishing us well, hoping we figure it out. No, He is close.

Tangled. He wants to be tangled up within us and has made it possible so many different ways. (study passage above) If we put our faith and trust in Jesus as the only Savior from our sins and hope for eternal life, we are all tangled up. Tangled up with the Father. Tangled up with Jesus. Tangled up with the Spirit. There are no gaps. No separations. I love the image of this so much.

Taking all this in a few words come to mind. Marvellous! Utterly and greatly amazing! Astounding beyond measure! I'm exceedingly astonished!

I believe.

I've been tangled up in quite a bit of junk in my life. None of it offered this closeness. This intimate involvement. This love. It's everything you and I have dreamed of and longed for.

The Bible says everything God has He gives to us. Everything. We are joint-heirs with Jesus, our brother. The Spirit dwells within us to help by reminding us of everything Jesus has taught, to convict us of sin and to comfort us in our times of need (among many other things).

Confession. One of my pet peeves is when a fellow believer tells a great story of how God has shown up and then declares it a 'God thing'.

Based on the passages above, everything is a God thing. To God, the distinction between secular and sacred doesn't exist. He's in it all. For us.

Which once again makes Him trustworthy. Loving. Good.

If you already know Him, imagine in your mind how tangled up God wants to be in every area of your life. Don't compartmentalize what you think He is about or not interested in. He wants to be in all of you. Receive this reminder especially for you today.

If you don't know Him yet, I dare you to believe and get tangled up in the greatest love you'll ever know.

*(poor High School Musical reference)
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And now, by special reader request, gratuitous grandbaby pitures.