Wednesday, July 30, 2014

the saving of our souls

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. -1 Peter 1:6-9 (bolded words mine)

On a pale sunlit morning I woke up in the California desert, opened the curtains to the view of the pool and the craggy mountains, and I had to check my phone to find out what day of the week it was. After a few weeks of our sabbatical, time began to run together in a most wonderful way.

But even paradise has its problems. One of the kids was irrational about hotels and beds and pools. Another seeped wounded irritation that grown-ups call the shots. Two more fought over chair selections and other inconsequential matters. Someone was mad we have to go out to eat. Later someone else was mad we couldn't go out to eat. Mountains of laundry and dishes loomed in that little vacation apartment.

I flipped the pages of this new book I'm reading about the tending of our souls and God struck me again with the same song He has been singing all summer. How many times will He need to prove it to me before it is tattooed on my soul in an ink that can never run or fade?

The words shout at me from the page."...though you have not seen believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious are receiving the end result of your faith...."

We walk by faith and not by sight, and that is how our souls are being saved.

I woke up this morning to Texas sunlight and the sound of sprinklers in the backyard trying to save the parched grass. The kids have a nasty cough and can't seem to get off of California time. Mr. Fantastic and I are trying not to be buried in emails and phone calls. Radiant Moms meets next week, school starts in two weeks, my two community groups begin in three. The bathroom sink leaks, the bedroom floor needs to be repaired, the backyard needs a few days of tending, and we have company coming in this weekend.

This is where my soul needs to be saved.

My will and my joy need to cross right here, and I can't write that word "cross" without thinking of the word "death". The years are teaching me that living is more about learning how to die than anything else. I'm not sure my flesh likes that very much. It sounds poetic and dramatic, but it feels like hell to lay down frustration, fear, and embrace the forlorn knowledge that we control very little of what happens here.

And yet His love leads right to where the cross awaits. This must be the right path after all.

Oh, soul, awake to a new kind of rejoicing, that the genuineness of your faith might be proven. Taste what can't be seen, step out on the invisible path, and receive the end result of faith in the great God of all.

Salvation awaits.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

7 unethical things that {probably} happened at grammie's house

A few weeks ago, Mr. Fantastic and I went to Florida sans the little people.


We left our kiddos in the capable hands of their grandparents.


When we got back, the whole lot of them were smiley and had suspiciously very little to report. At first all they said things like:

"Everything was great!"

"We missed you! Glad you're back!"

"We had so much fun!"

Tiny, slightly suspicious details have occasionally surfaced, though. It's difficult to get a good hold on exactly what went down that week. What happens at Grammie's house, stays at Grammie's house. But I think I can roughly sketch out some of the action.

To all the grandparents out there who go to super-human efforts to care for your grandkids and give your children a break from the weight of parenting, I salute you. You are amazing and your wonderfully lenient ways spoil our children. We will gladly wean them off getting their way constantly when we get back from our trip. Because sleep is good. Because getaways are fun. Because life is easier without our kids, and we love easier lives every once in a while.

Here are 7 things that {probably} happened at Grammie's house:

7. Time robbery. No bedtimes. No naps. (Most likely no sanity.) My kids said things like, "I'm so excited to be at your house that I just can't sleep at all!!" and delighted their grandparents with adoration. My poor in-laws will probably have to sleep for a month straight to regain the energy my children robbed them of that week. But they had their week of glory, and I know they wouldn't trade it for the world.

6. Kick-backs. My kids and my in-laws were very happy to give all their love to each other and they all enjoyed the kick-backs that came along with the deal. "What's that, Grammie? Do I like to bake cookies with you? Yes. Everyday. Then I like to eat them while we watch movies with Granddaddy. These are the memories I will treasure when I go off to college." This is called a win/win situation.

5. Safety Not First. Okay, maybe one of my little rascals didn't actually say, "My parents always let us set fire to stuff in the driveway." But I bet they came close. To our faces, they say we never let them do anything fun. To their grandparents, they claim we are practically devoid of rules. It's all about perspective.

4. Bribery. The treats and privileges enjoyed at Grammie's house help ensure that what happens at Grammie's house stays at Grammie's house. "I miss my mommy. But gummy bears and visiting arcades when I should probably take a nap help me cope.... By the way, you're the best grandparents ever." Cha-ching, little ones.

3. Child labor. I don't think my kids lifted a finger to help that week. They batted their eyelashes and "didn't hear" a lot of requests to clean up, despite the lecture I gave them about helping out before I left. This proves two undeniable truths in life: Kids never listen to lectures and my mother-in-law is a saint. 

2. Theft. The kids stole their grandparents' sleep, food, sanity, patience, and hearts. The Lady also stole an old cell phone from the toy box. I just found it in her suitcase yesterday.

1. Breaking antitrust laws. Most days, there were four children demanding the attention and help of only one woman. Boy 1 wanted her to shoot baskets, Boy 2 wanted her to bake cookies, Boy 3 wanted her to play water gun war, and the Lady wanted her to play Barbies. She had a monopoly on her grandchildren and there was no escaping the consequences. 

It's been two weeks since we retrieved our kids from the heavenly land of the grandparents. They are doing chores, practicing piano, and eating vegetables. But I'm sure they are already pining away for their next visit with their grandparents, and plotting more unethical glory. Bless it....

Monday, July 28, 2014

a good passover for homesick souls

Last week, I hiked up California hills, ocean breezes welcomed me with the scent of eucalyptus trees and fresh cut lawns, and I was happy, happy, happy down in my soul. I saw my old elementary school bus stop, the front doors I knocked on a million times to ask friends to come out and play, and the sidewalk where I once left my footprints in wet cement in the early 1980s.

I was home.

Some places belong to you like charms on a necklace. You wear them and love them and enjoy their beauty and wonders. But home lives in you and you wish you could stay forever.

Even a lifetime on this California coastline would simply be a lovely place to dwell for a minute, though.  Life is one grand celebration of Passover before we head home. I don't know how I missed that truth before.

Eat in haste, friends. Don't get too comfortable, we are headed for glory any moment now. A Lamb has been slain, and His spilled blood covers us. Our exodus awaits.

It would be less bothersome to mindlessly find jobs, pass the time, enjoy the temperate weather, bear the occasional storms, and dwell right where we are. Staying is bondage, though. Clinging to an earthly home means surrendering our rights as God's children and the call to live for Him alone.

We have a few friends who are homeless. Like all people, their lives aren't easy for many reasons. They are quirky, funny people who are pretty much just like everyone I know with roofed houses and HVACs. They are lonely. They need grace and truth in equal proportion. They need to know they have what it takes to rise above their circumstances. They love to laugh and forget their troubles. Homeless people are less comfortable than I am most winter nights, but we share the promise of a heavenly home, and our suffering doesn't have to be eternal.

We are all trying to find a place to hide beneath the blood covered doorpost for the long night. Heaven is a home running with fountains of living water. It lives for us, through us, in us, and to us.

We flew back to Austin on a great big metal bird yesterday. A friend picked us up at the airport and helped us drag our luggage up to the turquoise front door of our passover house. Mr. Fantastic turned the AC on when we got inside. The kids scattered to find beloved toys and favorite spots on the sofa. I began to make a grocery list.

I looked at those five people who are of infinite value to me. I thought of the church full of gorgeous faces who are God's beloved. There are thousands more souls awaiting exodus here in Austin. This is the way home. The trail home leads right alongside the lives of the people God mercifully adores. We serve and love one another and God leads the way.

Death passes over us. Provision falls from heaven. There will be some uncomfortable nights in the desert. But one fine day, a new sun will rise and we will all fly home. To that, we cling.