Bandaids

“Band-aids just hold the blood in”

This is what my then 7 year old told me after a nasty bike fall in the cul-de-sac. He came in scraped on every bony part, a little bloody, but mostly just sad. He’s my sensitive one. He needs lots of sleep, hugs and kind words. His heart is very tender and can be broken in an instant. Especially an instant that involves concrete and blood. Thru his big tears, he shows me all the boo boos and immediately asks for band-aids. He requests the emoji band-aids his Gigi got him, and he always wants the poop emoji.

I get out the Tupperware that holds all the medicine. It’s really a mess in there. Purple Cough syrup and Pink Benedryl have leaked and formed a tie dye swirl on the bottom. I get a little lost in the stickiness of it all, picking up a tube of yeast infection cream and begin to squirt it on the band-aid. Luckily, I catch myself and reach for the Neosporin tube next to it. Who knows what Vagisil might do to his cut or his tender heart. As I’m sticking on all four band-aids, (he needed a few extra) he says, “Mom, band-aids just hold the blood in.” I agree, and we head down the stairs, but something about this statement sticks with me. Literally. 

My boys want band-aids for everything. They think they hold some kind of healing power. Any bump, bloody or not, and they want a band-aid. They just make them feel better. One day we were out of masking tape, and Ben asked to use a band-aid for his project. It’s as if these sticky things are magic. But today, Ben seemed to have realized they were not. “Band-aids just hold the blood in” he says. They don’t heal the wound, they just hold the blood in. 

Somewhere along the way I began to believe that band-aids were magic too. I used to be a school counselor. I loved this job but I also felt very torn. Kids would come in my office for 20 minutes, have a good cry and a good talk. Then I would give them a hug and a sucker and send them back to class. I always said I was just sticking band-aids on them because I knew 20 minutes was never enough time to really help them. 

But I wonder, how many band-aids have I put on my wounded heart? Just hoping they would heal it, stop the pain, make things ok? But they were just holding the blood in. How many sticky things have I applied thinking they were magical? Good behaviors, bad behaviors, unwise relationships, Instagram posts, chocolate brownies, compromises, lies, insults, bible studies even?  How many band-aids have I used to cope or numb the pain or distract me, thinking they might heal my brokenness, make me feel like I was enough, but they only kept the blood in. There was no healing, I just wasn’t bleeding all over everyone, so I thought it was ok. 

What’s so scary about bleeding anyway? Why is it that the sight of blood scares children and they just want a band-aid to hold the blood in? Why don’t I want anyone to see me bleed? It’s too much, too vulnerable. Blood is messy and people don’t like to get messy. 

Well, I’m tired of band-aids. I want the real stuff, the real healing. Real healing comes with a cost. It requires time, time of quiet and solitude before God, so you can really hear what he has to say about those broken places. It takes confession, confession to others for all the things you’ve used or abused to cover up those broken places. It takes humility, humility to admit that you don’t have it all together and you are willing to stop hiding those broken places. It takes some fire in your belly, fire in your belly to tell the enemy to go back to hell and leave you alone and that you aren’t going to hang out anymore in those broken places. It takes courage, courage to believe that God has healed you and you can let go and one day tell of those broken places. 

In Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:25, Luke 8:43 we see a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years. Based on the text from these different passages, we learn that she had spent all her money on lots of treatments and probably some band-aids and none had worked. Her condition is worsening. We see that she comes to Jesus from behind to touch his garment. She knew he could heal her but all she could do was reach out for his robe. We know that she is immediately healed of her condition. Christ feels power leave him and wants to know who reached for him.

“Who touched my robe?” Why does he want to know? He knows she is healed, why does he care who she is? But he does, He cares who she is. In Mark, it says that he kept looking for who touched him. He kept looking for her. He called her out. I believe he’s calling her out of her hiding. Jesus wants to know us, to have us come close and he will keep looking. She reached out but then the word tells us she shrunk back. But guess what, Jesus wants us near even if we are covered in messy things, in blood, in hiding. 

Mark 5:33 says “the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her came and fell to her knees in front of him” and Luke 8:47 states “the woman realized she couldn’t stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him.”

Why is she trembling? She has been healed! I believe she is trembling at the thought of coming out of hiding. She has been an outcast for at least 12 years. She is exhausted, lonely and covered in blood. She is dirty, smelly and poor. Broke and broken. Scripture says she bled constantly for 12 years. I am sure she is emaciated, depleted and hard to look at. But Jesus wouldn’t let her stay hidden. He saw her treasure inside, the woman she was meant to be despite the blood, despite the band-aids.

And he called her out. And in verse 34, he calls her Daughter. This rejected and despised woman…he calls her Daughter. The prince of heaven calls her Daughter. That just does something to me on the inside. It breaks me a little. That the height of heaven would intersect with the depths of earth and use that good word. Daughter insinuates that she belongs, that someone wants to identify with her, a woman that others were embarrassed to claim. “Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege” (Romans 5:2).

I wonder if when Jesus saw her, if he saw himself. After all, we are made in his image. Did he see his bloody future-self hanging on a cross. All alone, tired, smelly. Broke and broken. There is power in our bleeding, in His bleeding. Band-aids just hold the blood in. But the blood of Christ heals all wounds. It calls us out, it defines us, it says that we belong. There’s a trade to be made. Our broken, bloody wounds for His. By his stripes we are healed. 

He’s looking for us too you know. He’s calling us out of the bloody, broken, hidden places. He knows us, he knows our pain and he knows our name. He calls us Sons and Daughters too.

No more band-aids for me. Not even the cute emoji ones. I am ready to come out of my hiding and fall at his feet. How about you?

the okra lady

I ventured into Wal-mart one Saturday morning after school had started back…all…alone. It felt like a treat, because Chris had the kids entertained. It felt like a treat, coming off of a busy summer with all three dirty boys around 24-7. It felt like a treat, because it was just me and my blue buggie. I love Wal-mart. I love to look at dish towels, and water bottles, and cheap sunglasses. I love the seasonal aisle and the crazy t-shirts and the craft section. I love to get lost in Wal-mart, especially in the fall, especially if I have picked up a pumpkin spice latte before I shop. Man, do I sound like a southern, 40-something  mom with too much time on my hands. I guess it’s the little things.

After about an hour of buying groceries and lots of things I didn’t need, I entered the check out line. There was an elderly woman ahead of me, paying for a few things. I began to listen to her conversation with the cashier: “That’s a large package of okra you have there.” said the cashier. “I know, I’ll never eat it all, it’s just me at the house now. This is just the size I’ve always bought, “ said the elderly lady.  This conversation stuck with me and just wouldn’t let me go. “It’s just me at the house now.” That’s what she said. That’s what the old lady with the big package of okra said. “It’s just me at the house now.”

The okra made me think of my grandmother, Charlie. We called her “Pa.” We ate dinner at Pa’s almost every Sunday after church and some Saturday nights. In the south, you call lunch “dinner” and dinner “supper.” So, regardless, for lunch, dinner, or supper, Pa would make a feast and always included fried chicken and okra. Those were two of my favorites that she made. Fried Okra and Fried Chicken. What a gift to my childhood. They are worth capitalizing. I am always excited when fried okra is on the menu at some southern restaurant. You know, one of those “pick a meat and two sides” places. Okra is always one of my sides.  When I eat it, I feel comfort, like a child again, remembering home and Pa and Sunday lunch. So, I guess this is why the okra lady caught my attention. Why her statement, “It’s just me at the house now” hung in my ears. Pa died before it was just her at the house. She was still married and was still cooking okra for visitors. It was never just her at the house.

Strangely enough, I saw this elderly woman coming out of the local hospital a few weeks later. I have an odd ability to remember faces. No body ever remembers mine, but I knew she was the okra lady right when I saw her. I was picking up a prescription and there she was, all alone, walking out of some doctor’s appointment headed back to her four, quiet walls because it was just her at the house now. 

I paused, I thought of my other grandmother, Ann. It’s just her at the house now. I thought of my mother, Rhonda. It’s just her at the house now too, and I realized one day, it may just be me at the house. I wanted to soak this up, to not let this lesson pass me by.

Right now, coming off of a summer of boys 24-7, there are still boys at my house, well, a lot. There is a man there too, Chris, that I adore, and I think he adores me. He makes messes and makes me laugh and makes me better. There are the boys, Mack, Ben, and Sam. They make me tired and make my heart bigger and make me better too. There is middle school angst and elementary school homework and dirty cleats and never enough milk or cereal, and bills to pay and lots of socks to sort, but it’s not just me at the house now. Not yet anyway.

How I wish I could taste Pa’s okra again. How I wish I could have a tight squeeze from my grandpa or smell dad’s cologne. I want to remember my days are numbered and the people in my house have numbered days too.  At some point, it could just be me in my house. So I want to make these days count: These days when the house is full and loud and messy. These days when the bus still comes around the corner and fall nights mean baseball and bedtime prayers. These days when the whole pack of okra will be eaten and not wasted. I don’t want to waste any of this. 

 

Lucky?

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We rented a truck last week to haul a few things, and of course, the boys wanted to drive it to school! They smiled, climbed in and began trying so hard to open the small window in the back of the cab. I immediately had a flashback of when I was a child. Dad drove a small, burgundy Datsun truck. (Datsun was Nissan before it was Nissan.) On the weekends, my brother and I would ride in the truck bed, feel the wind on our faces, and just savor the ride. During the week, mom worked early mornings, so dad got us ready for school. We would pile in that tiny piece of burgundy metal with half combed hair and breakfast still on our faces. Sometimes we brushed our teeth. We scooted in close (because there was no cab) and opened that back window, enjoying the breeze on our necks. We were lucky kids.

When I think about my childhood,  I don’t remember worrying a lot. There wasn’t too much stress, except for when I tried to plan my jr. prom all by myself. Mom came in and rescued me and suggested I utilize a prom committee. (That was a good thing.) But overall, my childhood was manageable and care-free. I was pretty lucky.

There was lots of margin and extra room in our schedule: Lots of afternoons for brownies at grandmas and secretly watching soap operas on her couch. Dad always took a nap on Sundays and I curled up with him. We ate as a family together most nights. My brother and I played sports, but I just don’t remember feeling too busy or overwhelmed. I did my homework and we went to Wednesday night church. I am sure my parents felt stress, but there was always room for what was important. I remember mom’s Bible study friends at the house and sitting with dad in the garage on many Saturdays. We usually ate lunch with family after Sunday church. Mom and dad both worked and sometimes dinner was a bucket of KFC and biscuits. There were less distractions then, less money coming in, which meant less paid entertainment, which meant more family time and creativity. My family was not perfect but it grounded me and brought security.

 I couldn’t appreciate the margin then or the family time my parents ensured we had. But I sure do now. As my boys looked out that cab window,  I just smiled. I longed for dad and the jelly toast we ate every morning over the heat vent. I missed the music he played on his stereo in the hot garage. I remembered the little table in our kitchen where mom sat out the Valentine’s goodies. I missed her taking me school shopping and buying blue Lisa Frank notebook paper. I felt the humor of the dreaded Easter picture which meant panty hose and a night sleeping in pink sponge rollers. I thought of Poppy’s homemade lemonade and watching TBS and the Braves after school. I remembered all the things that planted something in me, all the things that took root deep inside: Sleepovers with my grandmother and thoughts of Mrs. Edna, the mean old lady next door who terrified us, working the concession stand for the local baseball field, sweet Sunday school teachers and family beach trips.

There was so much intentional margin and freedom and rest. I was so lucky. Or was I? Was it just luck or did my parents realize the margin they left for us? Did they realize they were filling the margin with meaning and memories?

 As an adolescent counselor, I am concerned. I am concerned about the kids in my office that are stressed and angry. They are tired and lonely. They aren’t connected with family anymore. They are staying on their screens until late at night and choosing their phones over real people. Their schedules are maxed out with school and sports and there is no margin or rest or freedom. I had to show two dads this week how to set screen time limits on their daughter’s phones. And they pay me real money for this. 

 Our small group recently started the series, Breathing Room, by Andy Stanley. It’s all about margin and how we need that space to rest and be free. Margin is necessary. But once we create it, are we filling it with meaning and memories? Are we making the most of it? Are we using it to ground us and our kids? Are we responding to the urgent in life or are we diving into what is important? What a challenge! Was I just lucky or did mom and dad realize what they were doing? Were they just creating more of what they were given as kids? Am I doing the same? Am I honoring the lessons I learned from them and my grandparents? I know I long for this kind of margin. 

 I heard a pastor say, “Eventually we will mimic the culture we invest in.”  I had to ask myself, is my culture worth mimicking? What kind of culture am I creating in my home and for my people? It can’t just be luck. I have to create a culture of intentional margin and rest and freedom. 

 I believe margin, rest and freedom are all the culture of the Kingdom. I believe that is why my heart longs for them. The Spirit inside me longs for Kingdom Culture. Mom and dad and my grandparents longed for it too. Now dad is living Kingdom Culture daily. How lucky is he!  

What people or activities made you feel grounded and secure as a child? What about now? What does your heart long for? What culture do you desire to create for your kids, your family? What margin do you need? Once you have, how will you spend it? We can’t just hope we will be lucky. We have to create intentional margin. We have to create Kingdom Culture. Thanks mom and dad for the beautiful gift that was my childhood. 

 

Bounty

Bounty: a great harvest, abundant, generous

There is a bounty for us.

God is ever before us. God is timeless. He is setting things up in the heavens and on the earth right now that will benefit and bless and provide bounty for us. He has done things in the past, in his secret space, that we are only realizing today. 

Deuteronomy 1:30 “The Lord your God who goes before you on your way to seek out a place for you to encamp…to show you the way in which you should go.” Bounty. 

In the old testament, God established a law regarding the harvest that would protect the hungry and hurting:  “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus  19:9

Gleaning was the act of getting the leftovers, so because of this law, the hurting and the hungry would come and glean the wheat or fruit that was left over and would be provided for. 

The book of Ruth tells the beautiful story of Naomi, her daughter-in-law, Ruth, and Boaz. Naomi’s husband and sons die. Ruth and Naomi are both widowed and poor. They leave their land of Moab and return to Judah, Naomi’s homeland, because of rumors of a bountiful harvest there.  Ruth, hurting and hungry, goes to glean from the wealth of Boaz’s field.  

Because of Ruth’s love and care for  Naomi, Ruth’s reputation had gone ahead of her and Boaz knew what she had done. “I know about the love and kindness you have shown your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. May the Lord, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully.” Bounty.

Not only did Ruth receive permission to glean from Boaz’s field, but he showed her great favor. He fed her and told his men, “pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her.”  Naomi’s response at the amount of food Ruth gleaned was, “So much!” Bounty.

Ruth later married Boaz and their lineage leads to the birth of Jesus. Bounty.

God’s law for gleaning went before Naomi and Ruth and provided their survival. It went before Boaz and led to his marriage and family. It also went before Jesus and made a way for his birth. 

Do you see this? Do you see that God is always before us, always ahead of us, making provisions for our good?

God is timeless. He is setting things up in the heavens and on the earth right now that will benefit and bless and provide bounty for us. He has done things in the past, in his secret space, that we are only realizing today. 

Isa. 45:2 “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.” Bounty

Believing that God has gone before us requires faith. It requires trust that God keeps his promises and trust that he sees our hurt and hunger and knows what we need. 

Psalm 37

Vs 3  Trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live dwell in the land and prosper.

Vs 4 Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Vs 5 Commit everything you do to the Lord, Trust him and he will help you. 

7 Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. 

Are you hurting and hungry today? What is the act of trust you must take? Can you believe he has gone before you? That he has made provisions for your good as he did for Ruth, Naomi, Boaz and even Jesus? 

Can you take delight in him knowing he saw this difficulty coming and has already made a way through it? Do you trust him with your heart’s desires? Can you commit this pain or worry to him and just be still? Can you wait for him to act?  

This is a big ask, but I know He has not forgotten or overlooked you. He is the God who sees all and sees you and precedes all and prepares you.

He will come through, just keep your eyes and your hands open. He has already put things in place and is right now setting things in motion  to make a way for you, a bountiful harvest.

And you will be able to just glean, to just pick up the bounty off the battlefield. There will be fruit leftover because He always wins the war and His harvest is so large and he is so generous!

Do you believe it? Just watch, just wait, the battle is waged, the heavens are set, the table is being prepared…all for you. 

“The Lord who goes before you will fight on your behalf” (Deut. 1:30) 

Heaven has gone ahead of you and is fighting right now for you. 

Just as it was fighting for Naomi and Ruth as they were hurting and hungry, just as it was fighting for Boaz as he was single and lonely, just as it was fighting for Jesus as he hung on the cross….And bounty came from all their pain. 

God is always before us, always aware of us, making provisions for our good. God is timeless. He is setting things up in the heavens and on the earth that will benefit and bless and provide bounty for us. He has done things in the past, in his secret space, that we are only realizing today. 

Psalm 139:5 “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing upon my head.” Bounty

 

The Power of No

We just wrapped up Spring baseball. Concession stands and bleachers. Baseball bats and dirty pants. We had a lot of fun, but we also saw some disappointment. We made it to the county tournament but then lost the first tournament game. As the coach gathered the team together,  I watched and listened. I saw the boy’s long faces, heard the parent’s angst, and then the coach began to speak. He said great things: “Yes, they worked hard; Yes, they improved”, but what I remember most are the No’s: “No, we did not win, No, I do not have trophies for you.”

He said No a lot this season. “No, you can no longer play third base because you weren’t focused. No, you cannot goof off when I am speaking because I have important things to say. No I am not your friend, I am your coach.” He seemed a little harsh at first, but then I grew to respect his method.

Through Spring ball, I realized, my boy needs a little more No in his life. Maybe I do too…

I am also watching and listening to the adolescents in my counseling practice. They  are struggling with their No’s. Many of these kids have mostly been told Yes all their life. Now that No has shown up, they are in my office and they cannot cope. They do not know how to struggle well, how to even handle a No.

They are hearing: “No, I will not be your friend, No, I will no longer date you, No, you did not pass the test, No you did not make the team. No, you did not get the job, No, we are not staying married”…and they are lost.

They are overwhelmed, overindulged and underprepared… No and struggle scare them to death, literally. Suicide and self harm have become coping skills for these kids.  

I am watching and listening…and I am wondering…what can I offer my kids and my clients? I am watching and listening and I am trying to learn. Why don’t these kids know how to struggle, to handle the No? How well do I handle No?

No has purpose.

Struggle is a part of life, scripture promises its arrival. So why do we avoid it like the plague and keep our kids from experiencing it? Why is the No so hard? Even the seasons have a winter and it comes every year. The day leaves us for night, darkness is around the corner consistently.

What if we grew through the struggle? Spring growth comes after winter, and morning is always there after the dark hours. What if the No, the struggle, the dark, the winter,  served a great purpose for us, for our kids? What if we stopped trying so hard to keep them from the struggle, and let it serve it’s lesson?

No prepares us.

I think this starts with me. I cannot take them further than I’ve gone myself. It can start with letting my kids see me struggle and honor God in the midst of it, letting them see me handle a No well, letting them see No draw me closer to Jesus.

After all, I am raising them up to send them out.

The older they get the more No will hit them, the more struggle sneaks in. And I want them strong enough to handle it, to grow from it, to be prepared for what’s ahead.

No protects us.

As a mom, what does this No look like? Am I honoring God with my schedule, my finances, my relationships? Are there enough Nos in these areas? Have I said Yes to too much? Have I set good boundaries with others, with my kids? Am I allowing No to protect my family? Do they know when or how to say No?

No has power.

I don’t always like it. I wish it was endless summer, I wish it was always Yes, but that isn’t how the world works and that isn’t how God works. So why would I make my kids think that is so?

They are also watching and listening…and learning. They learn about struggle from us. They learn how to walk the tough road by watching us limp and bleed and then hold their hand when they are limping and bleeding. Good and hard can go together.

No can teach us things and struggle leads to surrender and surrender leads to life, which is what Christ modeled for us. He said No to his kingdom, No to his wealth, No to temptation and Yes to death.  He limped and He bled, and the world was watching and listening. His No led to the power that raised Him from the dead, the same power that we have access to. He embraced No so that he could say Yes to us.

2  Cor. 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Psalm 119:71 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”

Romans 5:3 “We glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.”

 

 

Table Talk

Our kitchen table… Chris and I bought it around 18 years ago, soon after we married. We really couldn’t afford it, but Chris really wanted this expensive, Ethan Allen kitchen table… so, the two broke newlyweds bought it with the tax return check that had not yet come in the mail. Well, the check never came, in fact we owed tax money. So we sat, even more broke, at that fancy table and ate PB&Js until we paid it off.

We still sit at this table. We have added the leaf extension, added some chairs, added some kids. The paint is peeling, there are spaghetti and play-do stains that I cannot remove. There are sticky spots and dents. I refuse to replace it until the boys are older…what’s the point in spending money on another table that they will destroy? We have had lots of meals at this table, with family, with friends, lots of good conversations, laughs, some tears.

Research shows that tables are good for us, it’s good for our hearts and our heads to sit together, to carve out some moments to look at other faces, eat good food and commune.

The table grounds us, draws us all in. We remember, we rejoice at the table.

There has been a lot of table language, table talk, floating around in Christian culture recently. Have you heard it? Books, songs, signs… “all are welcome at the table, come to the table, you have a seat here”….Psalm 23 and Luke 14 discuss table talk…Jesus has prepared a table for us, and all are invited, a banqueting table, a table with a feast.

However, this morning, the lyrics of this song sat with me…the lyrics discussed another table…the table where Jesus sat with his men, and explained the sacrifice he was about to make. 

In Mark 14:12-16 Jesus’s disciples ask him where they should consume the Passover meal. Jesus instructs them to find a certain man who “will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal. They went and found everything just as Jesus had said.”

This upper room, where Christ’s last meal on earth would take place did not even belong to him. It was a borrowed room with a borrowed table from a Jerusalem man. It was beside this borrowed table that Jesus washed feet. It was at this borrowed table that He sat in the presence of his enemy, Judas. It was at this borrowed table that he told of the sacrifice he would make, explained the cup, his blood, and the bread, his body.

The blood was the covenant between God and his people, poured out as a sacrifice for many (Mark 14: 24) the bread, his broken body, given up for us.

Here is where the lyrics got me:

“There’s a table that you’ve prepared for me in the presence of my enemies.

It’s your body and the blood you shed for me.

This is how I fight my battles…”

These lyrics are about  the Passover table, the borrowed table. The last thing Jesus did with his gathered men was to prepare them for their battles.

The table was prepared ahead for them, and he offered his body and his blood. This sacrifice forever defeated death and allows us to fight our battles…

He’s prepared us for the fight…whatever you are battling, he’s gone ahead of you…

He’s goes before us, just as he did these men. The table is ready, all we have to do is show up. His body and blood have been spilled, in the presence of our enemy… and this is how we fight our battles…with the weapons of his sacrifice.

This was a Passover table, a Passover meal, to remember the sacrifice, and he was the ultimate sacrifice.

There is a banquet table in heaven waiting for us, where we rejoice when we see our King again.

But there is a Passover table here, for now, as we battle, as we wait, as we use the power of his death and resurrection to defeat the enemy.

Tables are good for us, it’s good for our hearts and our heads to sit before Him, to carve out some moments to look at His face, eat of His word and commune with Him.

His table grounds us, draws us all in. We remember, we rejoice at His table….

This is how we fight our battles…because of what he offered at the table, his body, his blood, because of what he offered on the cross…

Light from the Darkness

Currently, I am counseling a very depressed client. She has had no significant trauma, she is not in crisis. She has a loving, supportive family with money to provide for all her needs. She has friends and is smart. There is really no definitive answer for why she is depressed, nothing to point to on the outside. But on the inside she is drowning. Drowning in self doubt, self hate, lies, confusion. She is searching for truth, not able to recognize it when it stares her in the face or when I point it out to her…she cannot see it…she cannot hear it. Despite all my efforts, she is not moving forward in therapy. I am finding myself frustrated with her, with her inability to change, to see, to hear, with her choices to believe lies, just frustrated with her being stuck.

But then I remembered…

I remembered when I was depressed, so stuck…stuck deep down in the dark. There was no trauma, I was not in crisis. I had a loving, supportive family and husband that provided for me, I had friends, I was smart. There was no answer on the outside to the cause of my depression. And just like her, on the inside I was drowning, drowning in self doubt, self hate, lies and confusion.

I knew the truth but just couldn’t believe it…for almost two decades…

Until I did…until my ears were finally tuned to hear and my heart was fertile soil to receive…

And then… slowly…it was a waking up, a coming out, coming up for air, color, breathing deep, smiling big, laughing loud and hard and being surprised. That’s what coming out of the darkness feels like.

I guess I forgot. Sitting in my chair, facing this stuck client, I forgot my stuckness, my sickness…I forgot I was down deep, in the deep, dark pit. In the darkness where no one knows, no one but Him, no one sees the thoughts, the ones that scare you, that shame you, that steal who you are and try to replace you.

But there is one who does not forget, who sees you there, who is with you there, who speaks to you there. One  who also is acquainted with pain and darkness…

“Jesus saw him, and knew how long he had been sick.” John 5:6

“As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now.” Psalm 40:17

He knows, He knows you and he sees you. He is with you right now in the pain and knows how long and how deep your sick is.

No one wants to go there, to the mirey pit, but you learn things in the sickness, in the stuckness, in the dark. Those things have purpose and are meant to be spoken in the light, meant to be spoken over other dark souls. I learned lessons there that couldn’t be learned any other way. Lessons that can be spoken over my sweet client. Instead of being frustrated, in my light I can speak to her what I learned in my dark.

There is purpose in the pain. Are you in pain or stuck or sick? Are you in the dark? Listen, listen for Him, look for the meaning, wait for the word, the words over you in the dark that can be spoken in your light. It’s coming. Just don’t forget there is purpose in your pain. He’s not abandoned you.

He’s not just in the glory, he’s on the ground, even below the ground, in the deep, dark pit…He’s there. He sits with you. Sometimes he sits with you awhile there, because the lessons take time, but it’s sacred, on-purpose time. He waste nothing.

We want to rush and  hurry the darkness away, but know there is work, a new work being done in the night that prepares you for the day, for your day…your day to come out, to come up for air, to see color again, to breathe deeply, smile big and laugh loud. Loud enough for someone else to hear and catch their breath…to hear in the light what you learned in the dark.

David instructs us in Psalm 40:

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the muck and the mire.

He has given me a new song to sing,

Many will see what he has done and be astonished

I have not kept this good news hidden in my heart;

I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.

The Broken Places

David, a man after God’s heart…David, a man capable of great sin and acquainted with the broken places…David, a man whose devotion and passion for God are evident in the Psalms. He loved God so much that he wanted to build a beautiful Temple to honor Him: “It must be a magnificent structure, famous and glorious throughout the world” (1 Chron. 22: 5).

In 2 Samuel, we see that David, Israel’s leader, sins and the nation of Israel is punished. As a result, 70,000 people die at the hand of a death angel. Crazy, right? The angel is prepared to take more lives, but God relents and we see a strange verse:

“The angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor.” (1 Chron. 21:15)

Then David, in a posture of great repentance, exhaustion and brokenness declares:

“this will be the location for the Temple of the Lord…” 1 Chronicles 21:22

Why would scripture point out where the angel was standing? Why is this detail important? Why does it matter that he was standing on a threshing floor?

Threshing floors were flat areas where the grain would be pounded and stomped and torn apart from its stalk so that it could be used for food. It was broken so it could be used.

Are you catching this? That’s right, the most magnificent and holy structure ever built was constructed on ground of great repentance, exhaustion, and brokenness. The Temple of God was built next to where the angel of death was standing, the angel that was summoned because of David’s sin.  The Temple of God was built on a threshing floor, land that was used to beat and separate the grain from its husk to make it useful! Land where David repented for his sins and was broken over what he had done.

And there’s more:

God told David his son, Solomon, would be the one to build the Temple. In 2 Samuel 12, we see that Solomon was conceived out of David and Bathsheba’s grief over their sin and the death of their first child. This child died because David slept with Bathsheba when she was married, and then David murdered her husband, Uriah.  “Then David comforted Bathsheba and slept with her. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and David named him Solomon.”

Solomon came into this world during a time of his parent’s repentance, exhaustion and brokenness. This child, born out of the broken place, went on to the build the temple built on the broken land.

The symbolism here is incredible. As Christians, we are now called the Temple of God. And we are only made into His temple when we come to a place of great repentance, exhaustion and brokenness. When our sin overwhelms us and we can’t take the death and destruction anymore, we cry out and God gives grace  and we become His temple.

Oh, I can think of so many messy places in my life where I repented, and was exhausted and he just stepped in and built something beautiful on that broken place. 

God is so good to us. He is working on our behalf, fighting for us even in the midst of our sin and hurt and broken places. He was working on our behalf thousands of years ago, when he chose a broken man and broken land and a son born out of brokenness to build his Temple.

He is the Healer of all broken things.

Are you in an exhausted, broken place? Are there unhealed spots in your life that need his care? He will come and he will build something more magnificent than you can imagine on that land that seems barren and useless.

He will say to that place “This will be the location for the Temple of the Lord…”

Will you let him? Are you willing to lay on a threshing floor and cry out and let that barren place be used for his glory? Oh, it hurts and it’s vulnerable but He’s good and He’s kind and he always trades beauty for ashes.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” – Isaiah 61:3

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

There is always pie…

My friend, Anita, makes these amazing apple pies. No one really knows how she does it, but they really are the best. I’m not sure she exactly knows how it happens because it’s just magic in her kitchen. She combines several recipes to achieve the apple perfection. Her husband gets one every birthday, and Chris has snuck in a few requests on his birthday over the years. One Christmas, she brought her pie for a gift swap and it got ugly really quick! Adults fighting over pie!

A while back, I was a little stuck in life and really just feeling sorry for myself. Self pity is not a good look.  God reminded me of Anita’s pie: How she puts in the best ingredients, takes pleasure in the process and is so generous to offer her apple heaven to her friends and family.  I think God is a really good pie maker too. While lost in pie thoughts, I realized I was living like the pie was going to run out! Apparently, I believed that God had this heavenly pie in the sky with limited pieces, and I had better make sure I got a slice! 

Ugh, when you live like this, like the pie is running out, you live scared. You live frustrated and bitter, but mostly scared. Scared you will blow it, always watching others slices, worried about the security of your slice or afraid you may get no slice at all.

A friend once prayed for me and told me I was struggling with an “orphan spirit.” What the heck did that mean? Well, it meant that I was living like the pie was going to run out. Like I had to race and scramble for my seat at the table and then fight for my slice. She was right and all these years living like an orphan had taken its toll. It wears you thin, and makes you tired, and anxious.

God has been showing me lately that I don’t really trust him or his word. Gut punch! Like really believe it deep down, way into my bones, like know that it’s true, always true, and it’s for me. Because if I really, truly, deeply trusted Him and believed his word, I would know his pie never runs out. After all these years of following him, it’s painful to admit that I missed this. That I missed the truth that there is always a seat for me at the table, and the offerings are plentiful and beautiful and custom designed just for me. And for you! You might not even like apple pie. That’s okay, because he’s got your favorite chocolate cake at your seat!

Today I was reading in John 14 and these three verses struck me:

Vs 1 – Do not be troubled. You trust God, now trust me.

Vs 2 -There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home.  

Vs 31- Get up. Let’s go. It’s time to leave here.

God has been ministering to me all morning from these verses. He is saying, “So, Kimberly, do you trust me? Do you trust my word is true? That there is plenty of room for you? That there is more than enough for you and all my children? That the pie won’t run out? Get up, sweet girl, let’s go and leave this orphan state! You are a child of the king and it’s time to leave here! We have things to do!”

Oh, friends, these are good words from the Father! They bring such rest! He has pie for us all!  We don’t have to live as orphans, we can run knowing he is good and has more than enough for his precious children!

“No, I will not abandon you as orphans-I will come to you!” John 14:18

Laundry

There’s something I love about laundry (and Costco granola) but anyway, laundry, yes…I don’t enjoy putting it away, but the process of making the dirty clothes clean just feels right to me. As my friends and loved ones know, I am not one to clean, in fact, I hate cleaning. It is NO fun to me, and I only do it out of necessity (aka, when Chris looses it and I have to). I like things to be clean; however, the process of cleaning, is well, just awful. But laundry, I love! It’s very predictable: things go in dirty and they come out clean. Laundry is measurable and feels so productive: 10 pieces go in, 10 pieces come out. (except for those socks that always go missing) and I can get a lot done in a small amount of time.

With laundry, things go in smelly and wet and dirty and come out fresh and warm and soft. It’s just wonderful! And then there is the folding. The clothes are sorted and smoothed out and stacked and then everyone gets their clean clothes. For me, it is a very satisfying thing I do for my family. Weird, I know. Again, I am not a chore lover, but laundry makes me feel productive because it’s predictable.

If only life was like this, right? Productive and predictable, alot accomplished in a small amount of time, sorted, smoothed and stacked and done! If only, but I am in an unpredictable state these days. I have entered the workforce after 8 years at home, my days have changed and my schedule is a little unruly. Speaking of unruly, I have 3 boys that are anything but predictable or productive. They are all over the place, making noises and smells, running in the house, refusing to do homework, doing cartwheels in the living room, tracking in mud. And every day is different. Nothing is the same.

Unlike my lovely laundry, sometimes the smelly, wet, dirty things of life don’t always come out fresh, warm and soft. Sometimes they stay smelly, wet and dirty for way too long. 10 goes in and sometimes only 2 come out. Life is unpredictable and can seem unproductive. And God is teaching me to embrace it all.

I looked into Sam’s big, blue eyes today with a new perspective. He was reciting his ABC song, and for just a moment, I saw his future. I saw that how I love him, speak to him, and teach him, impacts his future. That it matters. My mom impacted my future. What she poured into me, how she served me, protected me, taught me the gospel and introduced me to Jesus, all of that was for my future: here on earth and for eternity. It mattered to her.

Today I felt a great sense of purpose looking at Sam. For a long time, I have selfishly parented thinking about myself and how frustrating it was that the smelly, wet, and dirty things weren’t getting fresh, warm and soft like my precious laundry. The smelly things of my life, the unpredictable things, were frustrating me and keeping my eyes on me. But as I stared at Sam today, I became a little more okay with the unpredictability. I became okay with just sitting and grinning while he sang the ABC song, because I knew he saw me…he saw me watching and listening…he saw my big grin…and it made his sweet heart feel fresh and warm and soft. And it mattered.

Sometimes laundry has stains, and we have to scrub a little harder or soak a little longer, or call a friend to get stain advice…so that what goes in comes out fresh and warm and soft. That’s it, that’s the productivity and predictability I am looking for in life…especially in this season of parenting…to know that these sometimes smelly, wet and dirty boys will be okay. That the world won’t get to tight of a grip on their hearts and minds and ears and eyes…that all the prayers and words and warnings and hard conversations…that all this stain fighting will work…that they will be washed white as snow by the precious blood of the Savior who my mom introduced me to…that they will meet Him too and come out of this spin cycle of a world all fresh and warm and soft.

This unpredictable life of motherhood wears me out sometimes. But it’s for their future and it matters and I get to steward that. I get to help sort and smooth their stacks and point them towards God’s good plan for them.