When it all goes wrong

Easter is always a season that makes me pause. Makes me think. This year has really been no different. This time the thinking comes courtesy of the 4th-6th grade kiddos I spend my Wednesday nights with.

Over the last weeks, we’ve studied Lent. And talked about Jesus and what his last weeks and days on earth were like. Last week we talked specifically about the events that led up to the day that we have named Good Friday. One thing that stood out to my kids was that the people chose freedom for Barabbas. Freedom. For Barabbas. The cross for Jesus. My kids just couldn’t believe that the people would choose a murdering criminal over Jesus. As they talked about how crazy that was, God dropped a thought into my mind. And I know it was God because never have I ever had this thought before.

What if the people had given Jesus the freedom and sent Barabbas to the cross? 

I asked the kids that question and the silence that filled the room was very similar to the silence that filled my mind. We talked through how everything would have been turned on its head had Jesus been given His freedom. We talked about how that seemingly crazy choice to free Barabbas is actually what led to our salvation. We talked about how the people were wrong and indeed crazy to choose Barabbas over Jesus. But that we knew Jesus had to go to that cross.

How different would the world look had the crowd given Jesus freedom? How different would the Bible read? I’ve thought a lot about these things over the last week. All I can get to is that I’m so thankful that Jesus went to that cross. I’m so thankful the people were blinded by their fear of Jesus. I’m so thankful for the cross.

This thought of what if it hadn’t gone wrong that day has stuck with me. Because for the followers of Jesus, they certainly felt that it all went wrong when the people chose freedom for Barabbas. But after a few agonizing days, they saw that it really all went right.

We walk through things in life when it just seems to all go wrong. When it seems that a choice that we made or someone else made has just turned our world upside down. It’s so hard to see in the thick of it that maybe, just maybe, things are actually going exactly right. Exactly right for what God needs to do in us and through us. That hard, agonizing, heart breaking thing could very well be leading us down a path where all things are made new. Where the pain, hurt and maybe even death (death of relationship, death of a dream or even physical death) bring about the perfected plan of God in our lives. And a restoration of all that we thought was lost.

As Easter approaches, I can’t help but think about how it seemed to all go wrong. It seemed to all be at an end. But God doesn’t work in what we see. If it seems to all be going wrong right now, hold tight for the day when God makes it right. If it seems to be at a painful end right now, watch for your new beginning.

Just when you think it’s all gone wrong, WAIT. God is working behind the scenes making things right.

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Rally

Today had lots of not-as-planned moments. Nothing bad, just lots of on the fly adjusting. As 6PM approached and I STILL hadn’t made it to the grocery store, I started to feel frustration with the day. The last thing I wanted to do at 6PM was go to the store. But for some reason these people that live in this house expect meals. And toilet paper. So to the store I went.

As I walked up to the cart corral (is that really a thing? I don’t know what you call it), a sweet young mom with 2 small children approached. I stepped back to let her get a basket. Because a mama with a 5ish year old and 5 or 6 month old wants to be done with that nonsense even faster than I do. I commented on how cute her little guy was (because y’all, he was beyond) as she placed his carrier in the front of the basket, then turned to get my cart.

Tonight I didn’t bring my purse to the store. Not at all normal for me. Just my wallet, phone and keys (this really is an important detail). As I pulled my basket out and turned to head into the store, it happened. That carrier holding that sweet baby boy flipped right out of that cart. As it hit the ground on its side, that precious baby fell out onto the ground.

Baby screamed, mama screamed and I apparently threw my wallet, phone & keys on the ground and abandoned it all to run the few yards between me & them. Mama had scooped baby up, I started gathering blankets that had fallen and an older woman inside the store came over and picked up the carrier. As I tried to comfort that sweet mama, I made eye contact with a scared & confused big brother who had no idea what was happening. I called him over to be by his mama. We all moved into the store and a little more out of the way. I stood and cried with that mama because my mama heart immediately imagined it being one of my babies when they were that small.

Within a few short minutes, that felt like hours, the baby had gone from crying to smiling. Somewhere in all of that, a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder. He must’ve seen all that went down as he walked through the parking lot because he had my basket, my phone, my wallet and my keys. Another few minutes passed as we all calmed down then all went our separate ways. I had to take a minute to pull myself together.

As I started my shopping, a few things occurred to me. Crisis, whether national or in the grocery store, can be an immediate unifier. I thought about the handful of people involved in this little crisis. Each one of us that pitched in was a different race than the mama & her babies (and were all different races as a group). Because a mama’s heart doesn’t see race, it sees a fellow mama in crisis and connects to that. No one criticized that mama or tried to tell her what she did wrong. Because every one of us as mamas has had that moment when something went wrong and we beat ourselves up with guilt. A man, who had no obligation to me, took the time to gather up my stuff, grab my basket and bring it to me. Because good people still seek to do good.

Crisis is one of those things that has such amazing power to bring out the best in all of us. Today, perfect strangers rallied around a mama who was in crisis. No one asked what they should do. No one questioned if they should. Everyone just rallied.

Can you imagine what life would look like if we didn’t wait for crisis to rally around and circle the wagons? What if, in the every day, we just loved each other in a way that always left us feeling supported and cared for? Conflict, complacency and so many other things can put distance between us and those we care about. Distance that sometimes is only bridged when crisis hits. What if just decided today to rally? Just because we love each other.

That sweet baby? I ran into them a bit later. That sweet baby boy smiled & laughed at me as I talked to his mama & big brother. He’s no worse for the wear. And thoroughly enjoyed that his mama never put him down after that scare.

Rearview

I struggled with even deciding to write a year end/new year blog. I don’t have a lot of positive feelings about 2017. My most positive thought about 2017? Thank you, Jesus, that it’s over!

We rang in 2017 leaving Urgent Care with Addison. And that was just about how the year went. Hard things. Unexpected things. Loss. Change. Struggle. Heartbreak. Lessons. There were times that felt like not even God was still present. Times that felt like the most heartbroken prayers fell on completely deaf ears.

And then there were moments. Moments sprinkled in during the hardest times. Moments that became life preservers. If I’m being totally real, they aren’t moments that erased the hard things. Or that even outweighed the hard things. But they made the hard things survivable. A tear filled lunch on a cold, rainy day at Chick-Fil-A with a dear friend. New opportunities to serve that spoke life to my weary soul. New friends, each with a unique gift in their friendship. Reconnecting with old friends. Watching my kids have God moments. Growth, even though it was painful.

Moments that served as reminders that even in the hard places, God still works. Moments of reminder that my plans aren’t always what God has planned. And even though what God has planned might hurt, might just plain suck for a time, it’s still better than my plans. Moments when the great depths of my flawed self were seen by friends, who didn’t even bat an eye. Just loved me (and probably were mentally patting me on the head, thinking bless her crazy heart).

Putting 2017 in the rearview is not something I’m sad about. There’s still plenty I don’t understand, plenty I don’t like. But as I look in that rearview, I’m eternally grateful that God gave me the moments. I’m eternally grateful that God gave me MY people. I’m eternally grateful that God gave me the grace…even though I’m sure I lacked in that more than once.

So as I head into 2018, I’m choosing to focus on the moments of 2017. And I’ll look harder for the moments in 2018. Looking back, I can see more clearly than ever that moments are there. Not always in great abundance, but always at the right time. Maybe that’s my one word for 2018. Moments.

Happy 2018, y’all. Praying you see the moments this year.

Reckless Love

Have you ever loved so fearlessly that nothing & no one could keep you from pursuing the object of that love? I don’t know that that’s a kind of love that you have for many people.

As we approach Christmas, I think about a love that makes no earthly sense. A love that a perfect God has for such a broken sinner like me. A love that will pursue me into the darkness & fight until I’m back in the light. A love that would abandon heaven for this fallen world. Because He saw me as worthy. Me. You. Worthy.

It’s a reckless love. And the safest love you’ll ever know. A love that relentlessly pursues, yet never pushes. A love 100% committed fully to me, yet 100% fully to you. Reckless love.

Veteran’s Day

Yesterday I posted about #veteransday on Facebook, but I have to again today. This handsome young man is my grandpa. He served our great country in WWII & Korea. And he served God every day of his life. He was my favorite person every day of my life he was here. And i think God knew my world just wouldn’t really work without him in it, so he gave me Payne. Payne embodies all of the best things my grandpa was.

Here’s the thing. If you choose to kneel during our Anthem, that’s your choice & a freedom you have. But, to me, it’s a direct slap in the face to this man. This man who lost his father when he was a toddler, spent some time living in a children’s home, survived the Great Depression, fought in 2 wars, actively served in & supported missions work, and tried to right every wrong he saw in this world. He was raised in a generation where racism was the norm, yet NEVER bought into that lie. He sought out the underserved, oppressed & broken and would do whatever he could to help.

You have the freedom to kneel. And you say it’s no reflection of your feeling of the military. But that anthem? It was written DURING war as a tribute to our country, our troops and that flag. So yes, it is about the military. I believe in the causes you are kneeling in support of, but I will not kneel with you. I’ll STAND with you, but I’ll never kneel. NEVER.

As long as that flag flies & that anthem plays, I’ll stand. Probably a little teary eyed, too. Because no matter what all is wrong in this country (and there’s a lot) that flag, for me, represents all that is right, all that have fought to make things right, and those that fight today to make this country a better place.