Sunday, February 17, 2013

Three Things I Have Loved, Four Things I've Adored

Valentine’s Day has come and gone again with varying emotions… Does exhaustion count as an emotion? I’ve felt that way about Valentine’s Day at times over the past few years as my kids bring home a class list of all the valentines they need to write out, and Mom gets to help her dear ones put all of these together and make sure they get to the right place at the right time. Romance? Candlelight dinners with hubby? Not so much. Despite this, I will say there is a lot of love going around, and as crazy as school valentines get, I am thankful for a time to focus on the ones I love.

I am also thankful—so thankful—for the One who loves me most, often in spite of me. I had this paraphrase from Proverbs running through my head the other day: “Three things I have loved, four things I have adored…” In the past month, I ran into three popular ideas that are actually kind of skewed, and was reminded of four truths that I love.

The first idea was “God never promised us a rose garden.” When I heard it, something rang wrong. It’s such a common phrase, and there’s a lot of truth in looking at life realistically and knowing it won’t all be fragrant and beautiful. Yet this time I thought, “But God has promised us a rose garden!” He’s promised us His peace, His love, and in the future, perfect happiness with Him. What’s more rosy than that? The thing is, roses have thorns, and we will experience pain, trials, stretching and suffering along with the beauty as we walk through this life. In fact, the roses are all the more beautiful because of the thorns. They are a vital part of that rose garden God has given us. I love Him for that.

Second, how often have you heard the phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle”? It’s always bugged me, but I couldn’t put a finger on why.Then a facebook friend shared a note posted by a woman she knew who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 38. “Contrary to popular opinion,” the woman with Parkinson’s wrote, “I think that God quite often lets us face more than we can handle, so that when we do get through the hardship, we can say, 'Not me. I didn't do this; it was God.'” That’s it! I love that it’s not about me. It’s about letting God work so people can see His glory and come to know Him.

The third idea seems to dovetail with the other two: I read a blog post called, “The Myth of God’s Unconditional Love.” It was a catchy title, and the content was engaging, but I realized as I read that the theology was off, the author never clearly defined what God’s love was, and his examples lacked context. But I have known ones who believe that we might take one awful misstep and Christ will say, “Sorry. I said I died for you, but that’s one thing too much. You’re out.” I have a problem with this idea. Yes, God is just and sin must be judged. I would never argue that. But that was the whole purpose of Christ’s death—that we can be forgiven because the sin-price was paid. Yes, there will be consequences for sin, even for those who have accepted Christ, but we are held in His hand, sealed with His Spirit, and have the promise that once we are born into His family, He will bring us to maturity. This I love. This I can live for.

And the final thing I love? That even though I feel like the older I get, the less I seem to know, God knows me completely, and loves me. To quote a friend who blogged about this recently: “Jesus knows me, this I love.”

Happy Valentine’s Day! May the truth of these loves go with you in the year to come.

Friday, February 08, 2013

When All Else Fails, Use the Driveway for Sledding

…Though, to tell the truth, nothing actually failed. I was just too lazy to take the kids to a real sledding hill today.

“You should take the kids sledding,” Kraig said as he headed to work this morning, bravely facing a morning commute that would involve snowy roads with an underlying layer of ice that had closed schools for the day.

“Maybe…” I said noncommittally.

It’s not that I haven’t taken the kids sledding before, or that they wouldn’t have behaved well. That wasn’t my concern. We’ve had wonderful outings; just a couple weeks ago we bundled up to meet friends on a lovely, snowy day, and had the snow hill all to ourselves. I was glad we’d made the effort that day. In fact, this year we’ve gotten out more than any other year, taking advantage of real snow. Last year we barely had one snowfall. There was just enough to slide down our driveway.

But there it is. We can sled down our driveway, and today that’s all I wanted to do. It’s not a huge slant, and it makes for a slow slide, but it works when push comes to shove (and trust me, you usually have to do both to get things moving). So when the day flew by with a fairly quiet morning at home, followed by lunch with Grandma and Grandpa, then a dental appointment for Clare, it made sense to enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of our own driveway. I don’t regret it, and as you can see, the kids didn’t either. Added to the fun was a visit with neighbors we rarely see due to vastly different schedules. Imaginations took flight, sleds slid and slushed, cheeks grew rosy and laughter rippled.

The Warnemuende sledding hill had opened for business.

Friday, February 01, 2013

The Wonder is in the Details

“This is crazy!” I laughed to a friend as we walked out of the school after dropping off our kids. The snow swirled around us and nipped at our faces; faces that had practically basked in unseasonable warmth the day before.

“I like to look at the snowflake,” Kunie said, holding her white-speckled gloves up before her.

Her words stopped me, and for a minute we checked out the individual flakes, each perfect and unique in its beauty.

When we arrived home, Jon wanted to shovel the driveway. As he plowed his way through the mounting drifts he exclaimed, “Snow is be-yew-tiful! Ice is be-yew-tiful!”

And if you really think about it, he is right. Sure it might be a pain to drive in, and its cold is bitter to the bones, but it’s a marvelous creation. I was reminded of a portion of Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl, by N. D. Wilson, where the author describes a snowstorm. “How many snowflakes are there in one storm?” he poses. “And yet God knows every single one of them. Every detail. In fact, He created each one.” To God, a snowstorm is a chance to wax eloquent. He doesn’t just say, “Snow!” and let the bounty fall. It’s more like, “Snowflake, snowflake, snowflake, snowflake!” Each one is special, and each gives Him joy.

How much more joy does each of us give Him? Think of the detail that goes into each of our bodies and minds, into the frames of our husbands and kids, of our friends and family. If we really take the time to contemplate that, it might be harder to get caught in the doldrums of hum-ho everyday life. Or worse, get angry and frustrated at those amazing creations. (Believe me, I’m not preaching at you in this. I’m part of the audience!)

Now if I can just remember this truth when I’m helping the kids get ten-zillion Valentines ready for their classmates in a couple weeks :) ….