Everyday Spectacular

Imperfections. Ramblings. Life to the Full.

Archive for the tag “Jesus”

Church of the Spilled Blood

I have mentioned that mom and I went to Europe in May. You’ve already heard my luggage woes, but there was so much more to the adventure than that.

When we were finally on our trip, I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around all of the history, the culture, the beauty of what we were seeing.

…Look over here, remnants of the Berlin Wall!

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…Sure, let’s eat reindeer for lunch in Helsinki!

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…Ahhh, I can’t believe we are standing right in front of original Van Goghs and Picassos and Rembrandts in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg!

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And the churches, oh, the churches…they are everywhere and they are amazing. The one I was most excited to visit is the Church of the Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, and it did not disappoint.  The entire inside is built out of teeny-tiny mosaic tiles. Here is what it looks like upclose.

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And here is what all those teeny-tiny tiles look like all together.

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It was breath-taking, beautiful, overwhelming. I kept thinking of the patience required by the artisans who created it in the first place. How were they able to take all those little bits of color and create such magnificent panoramas?

It wasn’t until I got home from our trip that the Lord reminded me that while it may be nice to visit The Church of the Spilled Blood, I AM THE CHURCH OF THE SPILLED BLOOD, every single day of my life. And you are too.

I Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

God is the master artisan who is creating the mosaics of our lives. He is the one piecing it all together, all of our experiences, all of our heartaches, all of our joys…they really can come together to create something beautiful. Through the blood of Jesus, we get to be the ones who house His presence, allowing Holy Spirit to illuminate us from the inside out.

My pray for us today is simply this, that when others get around us, they would feel that they had visited the true Church, the one where Jesus is seen and Holy Spirit is felt.

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Traveling

My mom and I just returned from a cruise in Northern Europe. We had been planning and dreaming and booking day tours and researching cities and getting REALLY EXCITED for months.

 

I was to fly out of Toronto on a Thursday night, meet up with her in Chicago and fly over to Copenhagen together that same night where we would then have a day to explore the city before leaving on our cruise on Saturday. However, it was a tight connection time between my flights, and thanks to an unexplained hour long wait on the runway at Pearson, I was late for the next flight.  I was disappointed but figured we would get another flight out, no problem.

 

OYE. It was a problem.

 

The customer service (ahem) lady we dealt with informed us that she could not get us in to Copenhagen until SUNDAY. Sorry, but that’s the best she could do.

 

In my nicest I’m-a-Jesus-lover-but-still-really-upset-voice,  “Ummm, no, listen, lady, that is not going to work.”

 

At 2am, after 4 hours, much anxiety and several other representatives later, we closed down the customer service counter but we were finally booked on flights that got us to the cruise with less than an hour to spare.

 

Oh, but my bag decided it was going to have its own sort of adventure and went AWOL.

FOR FIVE DAYS.

(I don’t think I have to say much more about this, right? You just groaned out loud, right? You just imagined trying to outfit yourself for your cruise from the cruise gift shop, right? Enough said.)

 

We had an absolutely fantastic time on our cruise and in the countries we visited…Germany, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. Oh, the history, the cultures, the food! Oh, the castles, cathedrals, and cobblestoned streets! Not to mention that being with my mom is one of my most favorite things, and that not having to make and clean up breakfast, lunch and dinner for my family for 12 days is a vacation all by itself.

 

But, what I’ve realized is this…the best stories we have to tell from our trip are of all the moments that didn’t go as planned and the ones we never could have planned for…the hilarious photos we took of each other, the random people we met, the Ballet-night debacle, the Russian meatloaf, the Swedish marathon, and the Helsinki port-o-potty to name a few. Oh, and the shopping I will get reimbursed for because of the luggage delay, WAHOO!

 

And, it’s got me to thinking that life is a lot like this too.

The best stories of God at work are usually the ones where He is moving in unexpected ways.

 

Sometimes it’s in the delay. Remember Mary, Martha and Lazarus in John 11?  It was obvious to everyone but Jesus that he was late…unacceptably, unforgivably late. Yet Jesus tells the disciples that he was glad that he wasn’t there, so that their belief would increase. The long-dead being brought back to life does tend to increase the faith level.

 

Sometimes it’s in the change of plans. Remember young Mary receiving the news that she has been chosen to bear the Son of God? (Luke 1) She had certainly not signed up for this, and yet she embraced this radical life-detour.

 

Sometimes it’s in the inconvenience. Sometimes it’s in the awkward moments. Sometimes it’s those blessings-in-disguise. But always, always, Jesus is trying to get us to see from His perspective.

 

I want to encourage you today that if the journey you’re on right now looks different than what you think it should look like, don’t lose heart. I’m pretty sure if you look hard enough, you will find joy ready to burst onto the scene….sort of like how I felt on day 5 when my luggage finally arrived.

 

Travel on, friends. Travel on.

 

 

 

 

Immanuel

Matthew 2: 13 – 18

“When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”[c]

16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. 17 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

18 “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”

So, that’s the portion of Scripture my son and I read last night.But we read it in The Bible Story (http://www.amazon.ca/Bible-Story-Complete-10-Set/dp/B0007FAVXO/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1355434300&sr=8-12) and something about the re-telling, the explanations for the children pierced my very soul.

How is possible that all these years of reading these Christmas stories and I’ve never really seen THIS… “kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under”

Of course, I’ve thought of Jospeh’s dream and the angel’s warning, and of the wild fleeing through the night to Egypt. I have thought of Jesus’ escape, but never of those families that did not know to flee.

All those murdered babies. All the weeping, the mourning.

Not such a Merry Christmas for those mommas and dads.

So I was wondering how to explain this to my wide-eyed nine year old.

And then, to be perfectly honest, I was wondering how to explain it to myself.

Why was there no angelic visitor to warn the families whose babies died that night?

Life is really hard? Unfair?

Sometimes bad things happen to good people?

Sometimes the angel doesn’t come?

God had another plan?

I honestly don’t have the right answers for this.

And yet, I have found myself thinking over and over this Christmas season about the name of Christ…Immanuel, GOD WITH US.

And perhaps it’s good that the Christmas story is quite messy. It feels a bit more like real life that way.

Bad things do happen. It rains on the just and the unjust alike. We all go through situations that seem unfair, wrong, all messed up. We wonder where God is in our pain, in our mourning, in our questioning.

He has provided the ultimate answer…He is God with us.

Maybe you feel hounded by your own crazy Herod right now or maybe you’ve outrun him for the time being, but this much I know…God is with you, right where you are, right now.

Oh, thank you, Jesus.

Orphans

I’ve learned that there is a certain part of the day that works best for trying to engage my son in good conversation…bedtime.

Now, this may be because he would like to prolong bedtime as much as possible (which I’m pretty sure is a passed-down gene through my side of the equation, so I can’t complain much), but I will engage his heart whatever the reasons behind him offering it up.

And, sure, there are nights that I am exhausted and just want him to GO TO SLEEP ALREADY.

But those nights that he is willing to engage and I am willing to engage, oh, the conversations that happen.

We got into quite a conversation about children in orphanages two nights ago, after he asked me, quite randomly, how much it cost to adopt a child.

We talked about the difference between fostering and adoption.

We talked of Children’s Aid and International Adoptions.

Carter told me he thinks I get paid a lot of money to foster, and he wanted to know what I do with all that money, because that money would buy a lot of beyblades and video games.

Well, Yes, Carter, it would. However, it would also buy formula and supplies for the baby, and a little left over which goes into the household budget. (Budgeting will need to be another lengthy discussion we have soon!)

I ended up telling him that he actually knew 2 children from an orphanage in Romania. (A wonderful family from our church that is a beautiful example of Christ’s love.)

He was wide-eyed and oh so curious.

We talked for a long time about the choices that we as families and individuals get to make.

We talked of fostering and the ways our family has decided to impact the lives of children.

We talked of God’s priorities and how we get to choose how we spend our money and our resources and our time.

It was so very good.

And then he was crying….tears in his eyes .

And I asked him what was wrong.

And he said he just kept thinking of all those babies in the Romanian orphanage.

So he prayed for them that night, a sweet prayer to Jesus to help those babies find homes.

I left his room with tears in my eyes.

And I can’t help but think that he went to sleep believing that maybe one day, he will be part of the change, part of living pure religion.

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

Paradise-Killer

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of Eve in the garden. (Oh, Eve…the only woman I know who can claim she was ever naked and unashamed.)

 Have you read this passage lately?…

Genesis 3:1-6 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”  The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”

My eight year son, Carter, recently lamented to me, “Mom, Eve ruined Paradise for EVERYONE.”

(Clearly he was feeling included in the “everyone”. )

He went on to imagine what would have happened if Eve had never sinned. Likely Carter’s vision of Paradise has something to do with all day video game marathons and gorging on whatever he wants to eat, but I digress.  I tried to reason with him that if not Eve, surely one of Eve’s kids or their kids would have been the Paradise-killer, but no, he was not to be dissuaded in his disgust over Eve’s poor choice.

I’ve come to realize that we can all stand in judgment over Eve or we can realize that Eve is a pretty good replica of the struggle that each of us women face.

What was Eve’s deal anyway? She had been blessed by God, filled with purpose, walked with God, was a recipient of the provision of God for her needs and, of course, she had been hand-delivered to her spouse. She had no “Jones’“ to keep up with, no one to compare herself to or compare her husband against, and never once had to complain about having nothing to wear. She was innocent to sin, living in blissful paradise. She lacked absolutely nothing.

Eve proves that you can have the blessing of God on your life and still struggle with temptation and sin.

So she enters into conversation with a talking snake, and perhaps even that we could chalk up to naïve curiosity.  But the snake very quickly gets her to doubt some foundational aspects of God’s character. He basically tells her that God is a liar, and she starts wondering if perhaps God has been holding out on her all along. The Bible tells us that when she SAW…, she took it and ate it. She was deceived when the lies of the enemy were able to distort the truth that she knew, the very truth that God had already revealed to her. She rationalized, “What’s the big deal? It’s just fruit. It looks good. I bet it tastes good. This here chatty snake sure sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. What can it hurt?”

Oh, Eve. I feel your struggle. I live your struggle. I can be my own worse Paradise-killer.

You see, the issue for Eve wasn’t the fruit itself…And it almost never is for us either. The fruit is about “another way”, a self-way, independence, doing what feels good or feels right at the time.

The flirtations, the gossip, the back-biting, the sarcasm, the rebellion, the over-eating, the anger, the passive-aggressive behavior, the fill-in-your-sin-of-choice-here, is so often about filling our FELT NEED in OUR OWN WAY. And each time we do we are biting into the fruit of self-will all over again. Like Eve there is so much to enjoy and yet we fixate on that which is just out of reach.

Eve, if we could go for coffee I could tell you all about how I know what it’s like to get the end of the tasty fruit and be left holding nothing but a dirty core in my hand. I know what it’s like to realize I need quite a few fig leaves to cover up my shame. I understand regret. I’ve done more than my fair share of hiding, hoping God would just stop seeking me out already.

And yet, there He comes, doesn’t He?

The absolutely scandalous news of the gospel is that God still comes after sinners, while we are standing there trying to cover ourselves with foliage, thinking that perhaps it might be enough. God shows us that it is only His blood that truly covers. In the garden, God killed an animal(s) for skins to cover Adam and Eve. This event foreshadows the death and resurrection of Christ which is the only thing able to cover up our sins today.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22 “For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

A few brave questions to ask yourself today:

In what ways have you been “eating the forbidden fruit” and then trying to cover it up?

In what ways have you been listening to the lies of the enemy?

In what ways have you stopped listening to the truth of God for your life?

In what ways do you need to allow God to cover you again?

 

Sanity

We only have so much time each day.No matter how you describe it… one day or 24 hours or 1,440 minutes or even a whopping  86,400 seconds…it all boils down to this:

There is only one me and only so much time and I have to figure out how to do what I need to do and what I want to do and not go crazy. Help me, Jesus.

Or maybe that’s just my struggle.

Anyway, back in April the Johnston family added a stranger’s baby into our already very full lives. And becoming a foster family is absolutely the best decision we’ve made in a uber-long time, but it’s still a bit busier having three kids than two kids, know what I mean?

And then in July we saw a naturopath because we absolutely did not want to put our son on a specific medicine that might help him with his focus issues at school.

The naturopath said, essentially, “Take supplements and go gluten and dairy free and you won’t need to put him on medicine.” Which, of course, can be translated as “Spend a lot of money on small pills and then forcefeed them to your children and CHANGE THE ENTIRE WAY YOU EAT.”

I just might have panicked, you know, for like a day or two. But I’m a parent and thus will do about anything for my kids. So now, for solidarity’s sake, we are all gluten free and dairy free and are all pill-poppers. (Except for when the kids are in bed and Jeff and I break out the ice cream. Shhh…don’t tell!)

I’m now cooking and baking with ingredients I’ve never heard of before. Amaranth? Guar gum? Sorghum flour?

So that’s been fun.

This week I went to pull out meat from our deep freezer to thaw for dinner, and IT WAS ALL ALREADY THAWED.

Goodbye, old deep freezer, goodbye.

Last night I pulled out the load of whites that had been in the dryer and everything was graffitied with red, yellow and green. Apparently 3 crayons were lurking in a pocket unbeknownst to me and the heat of the dryer melted them over EVERYTHING.

Anyway, all I am trying to say is that the more that gets added to your life, the more crazy it gets, whether through additions of your choosing or through circumstances that you could not even have imagined, you get to choose your response.

On the day of the freezer fiasco I read Ann’s words….”And nothing can overwhelm me — like grace can overtake me.” http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/08/when-you-are-finding-it-hard-to-keep-up-chased-by-grace/ 

And I felt it down deep in my soul. Grace. Jesus. Salvation. Peace.

I choose to see Jesus in my everyday. I choose joy. Gratitude. Laughter. Freedom. Sanity.

“When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”   Psalm  94:18-19 

And, somehow, His support, His consolation is always enough. Always.

In what ways do you need Jesus to breath His peace into your anxiety-ridden, overstressed soul?

 

Crazies

I recently found myself defending my Pentecostal views in terms of “I try to avoid crazy at all costs.” What I was trying to explain was that I think things in church should be done in an orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40) and that there have been a tremendous amount of abuses in charismatic circles over the years that have made a lot of people leery of anything that has to do with the supernatural.

But the more I think about it, the more I find that, while a bit humorous, my own statement isn’t really accurate.

Because as much as I don’t want to be labeled “crazy”, I’m thinking that maybe that’s exactly what I am. I do believe in order in the church and in avoiding the abuses that I have seen over the years, but I understand that what I really do believe makes me quite the minority in today’s society.

I believe in salvation through Christ alone.

I believe in a God that comes and dwells within me, and that having the power that raised Jesus from the dead in me, absolutely changes the way I am. (Romans 8)

While not a “requirement” for salvation, I believe that people today can have an Acts 2:4 experience in which “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues  as the Spirit enabled them.” (I experienced this for myself for the first time over 20 years ago, and this prayer language is still as mysterious to me now as it was then.)

I believe that healing through Jesus can and does still happen in our day.

I believe in heaven and hell, and a whole lot of other unpopular things the Bible addresses.

Being me just may be the new crazy. And I guess I’m going to have to be ok with that because the more I study the Bible and invite Jesus into my every-days, the more I realize He is asking me to live a crazy-life for him.

Matthew 16:24-25 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life  will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Stuck on the Cross

Lately my four year old daughter has been stuck on the cross. Ok, not a physical cross, of course, but she’s become stuck on the concept of the cross of Christ. We have read about the trial of Jesus and the subsequent harsh treatment, ending with the cross, more than any other story out of her children’s Bible in recent nights. She talks back to me while I am reading too…“But He didn’t do any bad things. Why did they say that He did?”, her voice shaky with her distress.

My mommy-heart loves that she is trying to figure this whole thing out. I realize it will be a while until she REALLY understands that Christ became the substitution for each of our sins, that He did for her what she would never have been able to do for herself.

What gets me the most though is when she will bring it up at random moments, like while we are out doing yet another round of errands. Suddenly a little voice will call out from the backseat, ”Mom, is Jesus still doing great things today?”

Oh, sweetheart, He sure is!

And I have to wonder, if I spent more time thinking about the cross, thinking about Jesus at work in my life, watching closely to see the great things that He is up to…how would it change my perspective on what I am walking through right now?

“When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” (Colossians 2:13-14 The Message)

“Jesus, help me to be stuck on your cross. I know that my sins have been nailed there, and I don’t want to forget why I have the privilege of complete forgiveness. Help me to keep the cross at the center of who I am, and the heartbeat of everything I do.”

Signs of Change

Luke 3:21-22NIV “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Today was water baptism Sunday at our church, and I just have to say that there is nothing like witnessing a water baptism. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen someone get dunked, I still feel like my insides are throwing a party every time.

What really gets me is the humbling that a person goes through to get into that tank. Most people would do about anything to avoid having large groups of dressed-up people staring at them, but then add that to the fact that in just a few short minutes that same baptism “candidate” (which is a phrase that for some reason always makes me pause and think “now why exactly is this the term we use to describe these people, but I digress), is about to be dripping wet, and may possibly even be wearing an old choir robe, as a sort of costume for the occasion, well, the word “humbling” really does come to mind.

And, now that I think of it, perhaps this is what I absolutely love about witnessing a baptism. All the pretense is stripped away, and you get to hear how Jesus has made a difference in the lives of the “candidates”. It all comes down to, “Jesus has changed my life, and I am going to publicly declare today that I will serve Him for the rest of my days.”

I was so proud of the first young lady that was baptized today. She is a lovely young adult that I’ve been able to get to know a bit over this past year. She is always immaculately done up, makeup perfect, hair in place, and always looking incredibly stylish and put together. Yet I couldn’t help but think that I had never seen her look more beautiful than when she was standing in that tank, seemingly make-up free, professing her love for Jesus, and her desire to follow Him in ministry.

The second young lady that got in the tank today is a new face around the church. I met her on her first Sunday about 4 months ago. I don’t know much of her story yet, but this much I do…She has found something in Jesus that she hadn’t found anywhere else, and it has changed not only her countenance, but her entire life. It was so evident in her bold sharing before her baptism. Her honesty brought tears to my eyes and I celebrated with her as she further embraced this new life of following Jesus. I look forward to getting to know her in the days to come.

It’s been a lot of years since I was baptized…but every time I see a baptism, I thank God all over again for saving me, for giving me a firm place to stand, and for changing this wreck that is Carrie Johnston, into something He can use. I pray that in my everyday, ordinary life there are still signs of the change that He is working in me.

Roosevelt Hunter

People die all the time. It’s the circle of life, right? In theory, I accept this. I know that this is how the world works. Unless Jesus returns first, every single one of us will die, sometime. But I think we all just walk around pretending we have lots of time, time to live, time to squander, time to love, time to procrastinate…and on and on and on.

A great man died last Monday. His name was Roosevelt Hunter. He was a husband, a dad, a friend, a mentor, a preacher, and so many more “titles”. He was the guy everyone wanted to be around because life was just so much better when he was there. He exuded energy and life and Jesus. He touched literally countless lives for the better. His funeral, no,wait, that’s not what it was called. His Celebration of Life service could have gone on for days if all those who could’ve shared his life’s impact had been given the chance to speak.

Hollywood does a great job of depicting heroes with superhuman capabilities and powers. Spiderman, Wolverine, and even Peter Petrelli give us a glimpse of what is possible through the eyes of our imaginations. They help us think in terms of the bigger picture…that the world needs saving by cosmic forces of good.

Real life heroes are often hard to come by. And yet, I think we all want and need heroes in our lives, flesh-and-blood heroes that show us how life can be lived in an abundant way, without the aide of made-up powers only possible through the help of special effects. We need to see ordinary people, people just like us, who are living life in a spectacular way, through the power of the Holy Spirit. These real heroes give us hope for our own lives.

For a bunch of years now, Roosevelt has been one of mine.

And in the wake of his death, I have a nagging internal thought…

“I want my life to really count.”

Yep, that’s it.

Sorry to disappoint you if you were waiting for me to write something super-profound. I know it’s simple and perhaps even a bit cliche. But it’s there, reminding me that each day matters, that how I am living my life matters. If Roosevelt showed us, showed me, anything, it’s to do everything with gusto, to be fully present wherever you are and to die with no regrets.

I plan on doing the same. You see, the world does need saving by cosmic forces of good.

http://www.rooseveltonline.com

Ouch

I highly recommend anything written by Mark Buchanan. I am just starting his newest book called Hidden in Plain Sight – The Secret of More.

Here’s a little snippet that pierced me tonight.

page 16 “Something chases most of us. Some dark appetite, some deep prejudice, some wildcard emotion. We usually find ways to manage it: stitch fig leaves to conceal it, develop verbal ruses to deny it, borrow pat explanations to justify it. But we feel its stain and weight. We know if offends a holy God. And we wish he’d just show up in our sleep and pluck the thing clean out, and let us wake up as wholly new creations. The years pass, and instead we make our home with our sins and our demons, and just hope no one finds out.”

That makes me just want to cry out with David when he says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. ” (Psalm 51:9-10).

I am so imperfect. I make so many mistakes. I sin.

And I never want to get to the point where I deny that it is so.

Oh, Jesus, my sweet Jesus, I need you.

Why not question?

Mark 9:30-32 Message  “Leaving there, they went through Galilee. He didn’t want anyone to know their whereabouts, for he wanted to teach his disciples. He told them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him. Three days after his murder, he will rise, alive.” They didn’t know what he was talking about, but were afraid to ask him about it.”

Don’t you just hate the feeling when you are talking to someone and they are just talking way over your head, but instead of telling them you have no idea what they are talking about, you just stand there nodding your head in mock agreement?

How about having a really serious conversation, settling an issue and then later realizing you have more questions?

Or have you ever been completely in the dark about something that you maybe should have known about? This happens to me more frequently than I care to admit. Sometimes people assume that if they have already told Jeff something, I already know it too. Sadly, this is just not the case, and I end up trying to string together the new information they are telling me with my vivid imagination and quick prayers shot to heaven for supernatural knowledge.

I remember learning the game Settlers of Catan for the first time. My dear friends, Dave and Beth, patiently explained the game to me and Jeff. If you’ve never played this amazing game, this is an example of things they were saying, “Now, you need this stick and this house to start the game. Why don’t you put it on that ore and that wheat, so that later you will have the resources needed to upgrade to a city, which will then give you double the production.” Got it. Right. I played the entire game pretty much clueless and the really fun part about that is I think I even won.

No one likes feeling left in the dark, especially when you are actually supposed to be on the inside track. Sometimes, like me learning to play Settlers, you even have all the information but can’t quite line it up so it makes sense.

Here’s the scenario. The disciples are following Jesus around. They are envied by the masses who would love the opportunity to be around him more. They are privy to all sorts of inside information. He is feeding the 5,000, then the 4,000. He calms the storm and walks on water. He is casting out demons and healing the diseased.  So far, they are tracking with him just fine. They’ve got it figured out that they definitely want to be around for what’s up next. He has quite literally brought a lot of excitement into their lives.

Then comes the curve ball. He’s going to die at the hands of men and be raised three days later.

Ok, Jesus, you just lost us. We are clueless or at least questionless.

And isn’t that where one of our biggest dilemmas in life happens? When we are obediently following Jesus and suddenly the floor beneath our feet suddenly feels like quicksand? “He led me HERE?”, we think, but would never say out loud, should we look unspiritual to all those watching us.

With the events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in their rear view mirrors, were the disciples sitting around having a bunch of “Oh, yeah, remember-when-he-said-this, now-I-get-it” moments…? Why is hindsight the only sight that get to be 20/20?

Why, like the disciples, are we so terrified of asking questions when we don’t understand something? Are we scared of the answers or scared of our Teacher? Perhaps we just don’t even know what to ask?

I find that I am wanting my present life to be lived in such a way that I am asking better questions of those around me and of the Lord.

Because this much I do know…Fear is such a thief.

Crying at the Superstore

I spent the weekend crying. Ok, not every minute of each day, but enough that that’s how it feels to me. I don’t consider myself to be a highly weep-y woman. You know the sort I’m talking about…crying at every Hallmark commercial, every worship service, and every time their feelings get hurt. I like to think that I am pretty balanced emotionally, but there are moments in my life when something touches me deeply and then the waterworks just keep coming. I guess this weekend is one of those times.

It started with a friend of mine experiencing a pretty major, unexpected disappointment. And I found myself just terribly saddened for him, almost as if I was going through it myself. Weird, I know, but it happened. Perhaps this is taking the whole “bearing each other’s burdens” to an extreme, but nevertheless, I was burdened so I kept praying. And crying. Yep, even in the middle of the Superstore. There I am in the milk aisle with tears streaming down my face. I actually wasn’t even all that embarrassed. I am not prone to this sort of behavior and it almost felt freeing to be able to just let my emotions come, even if the location was less than ideal.

Then the reading material I had chosen for the weekend was Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. I won’t ruin the book for those of you who haven’t read it, but it is obvious that by the end, the main character is going to die. I knew this in advance myself, and yet by Friday night, I sat bawling on the couch anyway. I had been sitting in the living room with Jeff and the poor man finally left me there to cry. I think he was just trying to give me the space I needed. That, or he just didn’t know what to say to me!

Saturday night Katie and I drove to and then snuck into the WOD Women’s Conference in Niagara Falls. My friend, Jess Disabatino was the speaker and I really wanted to be there to support her and also to have a night to allow the Lord to speak to me. Yep, the tears just kept flowing. The worship was great and then the Rumble Kids choir from Jess’ church sang a few songs. These are inner city kids with lives 1000’s of times worse than mine. God used them to breathe into my spirit, and I am grateful. Jess’ message was on being a woman of influence and it was fabulous. I spent some time with Jesus at the altar and lelt feeling so stirred up and excited about how He wants to use me in the lives of my neighbors and my church.

I certainly don’t want to spend every weekend with tears in my eyes (it’s really horrible for my mascara-wearing self!), but I am thankful for the reminder that my vulnerability puts me in a much better place to hear from Jesus. I am certainly often too stoic for my own good.

That reminds me

I don’t want to use this blog solely to write about the cute things my kids say. I really don’t. I do, however, realize that when I became a parent I joined the ranks of parents everywhere who think their children are the most brilliant/funny/clever geniuses ever. The things Carter, our sensitive little lovebug, has said over the years have truly never ceased to amaze me. Mykah, our little comedian, is just now at the learning-to-talk age, and I fear what will come out of her mouth in the years to come.

I often feel that my children are teaching me more than I am teaching them.

For example:

A few weeks ago, Carter was sitting at the kitchen table about to have his dinner. I was tidying up the living room. All of a sudden Carter announces “I’ve never drank someone’s blood before.” In perhaps typical parent-overreacting fashion, I immediately began sternly talking to him, telling him that we don’t talk about those kind of things, that no one drinks someone else’s blood, ect. By the end of my tirade, which finished with, “Where did you hear about people drinking blood?”, he is near tears.

“But, mom, Jesus said we are to drink his blood.”

Oh, boy.

Here I was thinking he was secretly watching vampire shows or that the public school system was already indoctrinating my son with strange theories, and all he was trying to do was wrap his head around the practice of Communion, something he just started seeing in my very own church.

You’ll be pleased to know that we then had a good talk about how Jesus didn’t say that we were actually supposed to drink his blood. We drink grape juice to REMIND us of his blood. We eat the cracker to REMIND us of his body that was broken for us. Sort of like how looking at a picture REMINDS us of when it was taken.

I think Carter’s getting it figured out now…A few nights ago, he said to me, “This strawberry (in his milk) reminds me of Jesus’ blood.”

It does make me wonder if I am looking to be reminded about Jesus in my every-days, in my strawberry milk, so to speak. I called my blog Everyday Spectacular because that’s my desire, to live each and every day in Jesus-honoring, spectacular, if not somewhat externally-ordinary, ways. I am quite convinced Jesus is looking to reveal Himself to each one of us, every day, and He is looking for us to remind the world around us of His presence.

What is Jesus going to use today to remind you of Him?

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