Chores in our household were a regular thing. Each month the tasks were divided out amongst three reluctant kids and then it was rotated to one of the other siblings the next month. We wanted them to learn skills, responsibility, work ethic (it had to be done to their best ability at the time) and get better as they got older. So, was our thought process, if they still lived in the house they could still do better - lol. They in turn would call out how mean and harsh we were to enforce suffering upon their poor little souls. Oh, the hardship of washing and putting away dishes (how dare they eat), vacuuming, taking out the trash, cleaning up the bathroom, and the unending supply of cleaning up dog messes. Woe is me and you’ll understand it when your older, I would hope for the best as they grumbled away in frustration with the list. But they knew. Somewhere, deep down, they knew that our love for them was beyond what they could understand and what we put over them was for their best intensions.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you asked your parents for that super sugary cereal at the grocery store—think, Lucky Charms or Frosted Flakes? If you had health-conscious parents, you probably experienced the subtle art of compromise and negotiation. “How about thisone?” they would ask because it was also in a very colorful box but had half the sugar content. The boxes usually had some sort of game or maze on the back which was also super fun so, as kids, we went for it, not realizing that we were just victims of trickery.
Antichrist. The second I read that word, my mind immediately flies back to the eighth grade. I was gobbling down novels about the end times. News articles about wars around the world, disease and famine, not to mention the imminent emergence of the Euro, that gateway to a one-world currency, captured my imagination. Who was the antichrist? The president? The secretary of state? The Secretary-General of the UN? Most definitely the latter.
In the passage of Hebrews 10:19-25, vs. 24 and 25 immediately ignited my memory and imagination. The everyday saints that I’ve had the privilege to encounter in my life have lived these two verses out in their everyday normal lives. In the midst of tragedy, “Jesus is Lord of all” would still be on their lips. While conflict was brewing within the church and their lives, they would not fall in the pit of despair but still be an encouraging non-anxious presence to those around them.
"Smells are surer than sounds or sights / To make your heart-strings crack."
Several days ago, I was walking through Walmart with my daughter. It was a busy Saturday and the aisles were teeming with people doing their weekend shopping. I pushed my cart along, cautiously making my way through the crowds lest I crush a toe or small child darting about. Suddenly, I was overcome by the scent of someone’s perfume. I couldn’t see how it was, but this person had left a cloud of fragrance in their wake. It smelled exactly like my Grandma. She passed away almost a year ago, and with one simple inhale, I was whisked back to her embrace.
As much as I would like to imagine myself a free-wheeling, hair-in-the-wind, comfortable-with-change kinda girl, it just ain’t so. I prefer control over chaos, order over disarray, crystal-clear clarity over hazy maybe’s any day of the week. For example, when planning family vacations, I scope out all the best sites and restaurants and plan our trip accordingly, cross-checking it with the weather.com report. As a result, we’ve seen and done amazing stuff in incredible places…but on more than one occasion, I have been too busy taming the chaos and orchestrating events to notice my kids discovering lightning bugs for the first time or investigating a chattering chipmunk. I miss the beauty of what is for what I imagine should be.
Spring has finally sprung. Tired of the dark, cold days of winter, I drove to a light-filled Starbucks with a view of the mountains and settled in with a summery drink: Passion Tea Lemonade. I hadn’t one in years and I was immediately thrown back 13 years to my own days working at Starbucks. Tommy and I were preparing to get married. We would soon be living in a tiny hole of a basement apartment, getting by on a shoestring. And what joy. Days filled with excitement, anticipation, and hope! As I think back to those early days, I cannot help but smile to myself at the sweetness.
Isaiah’s got a way with words, a way that ignites fear and trembling among Israel one moment and inspires obedience and love for God the next. This back and forthness with his message for the people of Israel may not make a lot of sense if Isaiah were here today but it makes a whole lot of sense for the people of Israel. If we know anything about the people of Israel—God’s covenant, chosen people—it is that they are a fickle folk. One moment they will sing praises to God and give God all the glory without question and without force. But in the next they will pull a 180 degree turn and pretend God hasn’t just brought them out of slavery and freed them from their enemies.
I recently asked a significant favor of several friends and colleagues. My request felt large and so I hedged, apologized, suggested a couple shortcuts they might take to fulfill my request…maybe, if it’s convenient, if it’s not too much trouble. But then, abundance. My request was met with joyful yeses, more support than I could have imagined. It was an excess of grace, drowning the fear of scarcity that had filled my heart.
Do you remember the feeling of the first day of summer? School was out, all the pressure was off, and almost three months of sunny carefree days stretched in front of you? Of course, school would return with its own unique joys and challenges, but for a moment, there was nothing but rest, a contented sigh after the panting breaths of work and study.