Sunday, September 8, 2013

Walk Like An Egyptian

I bought Emery her first pair of heel shoes. They are clear plastic Cinderella glass slippers and they are precious. "Totes presh" as the cool kids say. She loves the way they "click-clack" against the tile in our hallway. The only problem is that they are a bit too big. Her narrow foot slips out of them if she walks faster than her tiny toes can grip down and hold them on. So far she hadn't fallen out of the shoes and busted...until Friday. 

She was running down our hallway looking at herself in the full-length mirror and as she approached the mirror she smiled and giggled. She must have loosened up her toe-death-grip because in an instant her right foot slipped out of the shoe, she stumbled as it rolled under her foot tripping her and causing the left shoe to fall off. I watched as her left ankle rolled. She grasped for something, anything. There was nothing to grab hold of and I couldn't reach her fast enough. I ran down the hall, a mere four large steps for me, and grabbed her as both her knees and hands hit the tile. SPLAT! That is the sound a two year old's tiny body makes as it is catapulted onto hard cold tile. Splat. 

I picked her up. She was stunned and a little confused as she watched Mama hold her, kiss her, cry, check her body for scrapes, scratches, bones sticking through skin (not a one). Then she saw her crazed mother grab up the homicidal slippers and put them away. She's lucky I didn't throw those stupid shoes away.  

And guess what she did? Two stinking seconds later she screamed, "I WANT MY SLIPPERS!". Are you kidding me? Those slippers almost maimed you, mauled you, killed you, or worse, and you want them back? You stubborn child. No ma'am! 

Then God spoke loud and clear in my heart, "You're just like her. Always wanting those things that knocked you down, hurt you, almost killed you. The ones that I reached down, picked you up and saved you from. Yet two seconds later you put aside the hurt and you ask for the very thing that caused you pain. You stubborn child."

OMG. Only My God would choose this moment to get my attention, rebuke me and remind me of His relentless pursuit of my heart. O.nly M.y G.od.  Wanting what we had that hurt us because it's what we know, what we're comfortable with and what we think we deserve. I've worn those shoes. 

I love the Israelites in the Old Testament. They are so "me". They had been slaves in Egypt for four hundred years but God saw their despair and sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt. God took them out of slavery, gave them an incredible leader, protected them and provided manna from heaven for them to gather and eat each day. But over time, they grew tired of the manna. They grew tired of the daily provision of God.

Here's what happened in Numbers 11:4-6 (NIV):

4The rabble (foreigners traveling) with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

Looking back is a dangerous game. We tend to look back and romanticize what we were rescued from. The Israelites looked back at their time in Egypt, remembered the delicious food they had but forgot the harsh slavery they were under. We do the same thing. We remember "that" time in our life and how we felt special, beautiful, valued. But we forget the unhealth of our heart, our mind. We forget the fact that we were actually enslaved. I decide that the good ole days were my glory days and I begin to walk like an Egyptian (come on, do the move with me). I trade the glory of God for my glory days which were really more gory than glory, but I forget all that. I begin to digress into a past that is fiction in my head. I cry out to God that where He's brought me and what He's offering me today is subpar compared to what I had in...Egypt. I continue to walk like an Egyptian right into enslaving myself again and again. 

But God's offer is manna. Manna is translated, "What is it?". God's daily offer is, "What is it? What is it you need? What is the desire of your heart?".  Ask Him. He'll offer you what you need. He'll give you the manna that you need. But He'll only give you what you need for today. It's enough. His grace in this moment is enough for what you're facing today. He will always provide the amount of grace for what you right now.

I need to remember that. I'm beginning a workout challenge tomorrow that is going to kick my butt, literally. I might be so sore that I can't type for a month. I'm already worried about what I'm going to eat. How I'm going to probably starve to death on day one. I'm worried what I'm going to have to give up (mostly giving up my pride). 

My tendency will be to start, realize it's difficult, then look back and think, "It wasn't so bad back there. It wasn't totally awful when I hated going shopping b/c nothing fit well. It wasn't so bad getting winded just putting Emery in the car seat. It really wasn't so bad. And I got to eat anything I wanted, whenever I wanted. Remember the food? Remember the meat? It was SSSSSOOOOO good!". But that is all a lie. I can't walk like an Egyptian into freedom.  
I need manna, not meat. I need grace, not slavery. I need the Promised Land, not Egypt. 

So what is it that you need? What's your manna request? Ask Him. He'll give you what you need for today. He will give you what it is that you desperately need so that you can keep going. He's the God who wants to see us keep going until we reach the Promised Land. 

I'm praying that when you read this, you'll have a renewed sense of God's power and grace. And pray for me, that I don't walk like an Egyptian into Krispy Kreme and ruin everything! I'm a weak, weak woman!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Can't Never Could

Trying to get out the door to go anywhere with a 2 yr old requires patience, poise, and excellent time management...all of which I possess none of. So I said to Emery for the third time, "Pick up your sippy cup and go to the car. We need to get going or we're gonna be late."

My child continued to lay on our living room ottoman staring at the blank t.v. screen hoping that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse would miraculously reappear. She then threw her arms up in the air and yelled, "MY CAN'T, MAMA!" 

This could have been a teaching moment. But instead I threw down some solid 'theological' doctrine on her, "Can't never could, Emmy. Can't never could." Because if saying it once is effective then repeating it twice is the baptist thing to do (and my roots are baptist). 

She wanted me to pick her up and carry her to the car, but my hands were full. I had already given her everything she needed to get out the door. I dressed her, diapered her, put her shoes on her feet and tied them, and I fixed her hair in cute ponytails with bows. I had equipped her for what was ahead but to get where we were going, she had to move. She had to put her feet on the ground, put one foot in front of the other and direct her little body into action.  

She's not the only one in our family who struggles with this "I can't" problem. My 6 yr old niece, Karis, also occasionally gets the "I can't's". Being the godly woman I am, I offer her my sage wisdom when I riddle her with, "Karis, are you a Mex-I-CAN? Or are you a Mex-I-CAN'T?" Because she is half Latina  the answer is, "Yes, I'm a Mex-I-CAN!" But Karis' typical answer is, "Juju," said with an eye roll and a sigh, "I'm a Mex-I-CAN but I don't want to ________________." (Fill in the blank with any number of things she doesn't want to do: brush her hair, put her shoes on, go shopping with Juju, etc.)

Karis wants what Emmy wants, someone to do it for her. Even though we have prepared them, equipped them, believe in them and know they can do it, they still don't want to step out and do it. 

Karis and Emmy aren't the only ones in my family who have the "I can't" problem. They inherited it rightly from me and my sister and our Mom and her Mom and her Mom's Mom...and all the way back to Eve. Poor Eve, always the end of everyone's blame for their own sin and shortcomings. It's our nature to want as much as possible for as little as we can do to get it. Better yet, let's get other people to do "it" for us and then manipulate the outcome so that we get the praise. It's our laziness, our sin. I've often prayed this Psalm to God:

Psalm 90:17:
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
    establish the work of our hands for us—
    yes, establish the work of our hands.

But what I really mean when I pray it is, "God, just do it for me!" The word "establish" here is translated from the Hebrew meaning to be firm, to be stable, to be ready and able. But I don't just want God to make me ready, prepare me, lay the foundation...I want Him to just do it for me. Waaaaah! Someone call a waaambulance!

This is the place, in my mind, when God comes back at me with this, 
"Okay Jes, let me see if I got this right. You want me to send my Son to die for your sin. Then you want me to, through His blood, forgive you, love you, adopt you as my daughter and heir. Then you want me to give you the Holy Spirit inside of you to guide you - helping you discern decisions in life. Then you want me to bless your right decisions but forgive, without consequence, all your bad decisions. And also, you want special gifts from Me, like supernatural, God-given gifts that I will place inside you that sometimes you leverage for me and other times you leverage for your own self promotion. And, BONUS, when I send opportunities right to you, you want ME to send angel workers from Heaven to accomplish the work I sent you to do. Is that all? Is there anything else I can get you, princess?"

"Ummmm, since you asked, yes! I would also like the pink Barbie Malibu Mansion, please."

Silence from Heaven. (Don't judge me. I know you want that Malibu Mansion, too!)

God has saved me, forgiven me, loved me, adopted me, gifted me and prepared a way for me. It's my part to pray, listen, discern, obey and do. When we lay down, like Emery, and whine to God, "I CAN'T, FATHER!" we need to recognize that moment is when we are full of ourselves. Being full of yourself doesn't always look like pride and arrogance. Being full of yourself can look like fear, insecurity, depression, anxiety. If we let that rise to the top and rule our life, then when we look back over our life, it looks wasted and meaningless. God wants us to GO, DO, BE! 

Can't never could. Won't never will. 

But you and I, made in the image of almighty God, we CAN. We can send a card to encourage someone's broken heart. We can cook a meal for someone who is battling depression. We can volunteer to bring the snacks to our kid's soccer game. We can pray for someone who feels the pain of despair. We can speak truth into the life of a friend who is headed down a dark road. We can smile. We can be warm in a cold world. We can because He did. Jesus came to give us life to the fullest. My fullest and your fullest might look completely different. That's the beauty of His plan - we are all here to accomplish something for Him. 

Find your something. It's inside of you. Ask God to let it rise to the top of your thoughts, your passion and your pursuits. YOU CAN! You're a Mex-I-CAN! (maybe you're not...but maybe you're an Amer-I-CAN!)

Doesn't really matter your ethnicity, your social status, your age, your marital status (puuuulease!). What matters is the desire of your heart. Do you desire to accomplish and fulfill the plans that God has established for you to do? I believe you do. 

The foundation has been laid and it's firm. Get started and KEEP GOING!

Monday, September 2, 2013

There's a Tear in My...

...last blog entry. It ended with me on the floor of a dressing room holding my 6 yr old niece, Karis, and my 2 yr old daughter, Emery, and we were all three crying. There was no tear in my beer because my hands were too full of crying babies to hold some "Mommy juice". All of this mayhem was caused by my prideful attitude that I could take these girls school shopping during nap time, and after a sleepover and a morning playdate at McDonalds. Brilliant. Just brilliant. 

We all three sat on the floor of the Justice dressing room crying. Out of sheer exhaustion we wept and rocked. And then it happened. I saw us - our reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirror hanging on the dressing room wall. There we were. My two girls clinging to me and me clinging back to them. I had what author Connie Sokol calls a "Keeper Moment". Connie says that a keeper moment is, "that moment when you just want to freeze time - bottle it up to savor and enjoy." 

I wanted to freeze this horrible, awful, embarrassing, sweaty moment. A moment when both of these sweet little babies needed me. They needed my full attention. They needed my arms to console them, my body to rock and calm them. They needed my love and selflessness to rise to the top and rescue them. I began to cry harder, but now my tears were out of appreciation for what I was holding in my arms. The greatest gift ever is getting to invest in and shape the lives of these two girls. To teach them who Jesus is. And isn't He the one who holds us when we're selfish, tired, worn out, undeserving, bratty and loud? Yes, yes He is. 

Psalms 55:16-17 
16  As for me, I call to God,
         and the Lord saves me.

17  Evening, morning and noon
         I cry out in distress,
         and he hears my voice.

I cry out in my distress. All. Day. Long. Some days are like that, aren't they? Whether you're 2 or 6 or 34 (gulp), we all have those moments don't we? Moments when we need God to cradle us in His arms and rock us back to peace. I have a lot of those moments. God is faithful - He always sweeps in and gives me just what I need. And in that awful, loud, crying moment on the dressing room floor, God gave Karis and Emery what they And He gave me what I needed, a "keeper moment." I wanted to bottle it up, keep it and hold it in my heart forever. Because they won't always need me or want me or choose me. But I hope and pray that they always want Him, need Him and choose Him. 

So how did it all end? I began giggling. And then my giggles turned into laughter. And my laughter turned into howling, cackling, snorting laughter. Karis lifted her head from my left shoulder and Emery lifted her head from my right shoulder and they traded their crying for confusion. 

Emery said, in her broken 2 yr old vernacular, "Mama, why you laugh for?" 

And I replied, "Because this is the best moment ever!" 

To which Karis responded, "Juju, you are so weird!" 

And I laughed even harder. And then they began laughing. And then I did what I should have done from the beginning, I bought them candy and bribed them for the next thirty minutes until my Mom showed up to rescue me. 

Look for "Keeper Moments." You might have one with your aging parent, or during lunch with your best friends, or on a date night with your husband...or on the floor of a dressing room with your two favorite children in the whole universe while you're all crying your tired eyes out. 

I think a "Keeper Moment" is like a kiss from Heaven. It gives you the sweet momentum to KEEP GOING!