Can’t See [Part One]

Can’t See [Part 1]

If I am being honest, we seldom meal plan and often fly by the seat of our paints. Mondays are dancing. Tuesdays are track round one and scouts and retreat meetings. Wednesdays are choir. Thursdays are track round two. I’m the kids uber driver and Alesha takes care of the babies.

With all the moving parts, two big kids and two babies, we usually are finishing meals and going to bed all at the same times. Both babies cranky, the big kids still doing doing homework, fighting to take baths and trying to excite the babies. “Dad! I was just trying to help!” Welcome to our chaos. I believe that God gives special grace to parents, cause, well, kids live to be adults.

In all the commotion, it’s not often I get to put our 3 year old to bed. Every night in a last ditch effort to stall, we hear the cry, “It’s mommy’s turn.” And it’s always mommy’s turn. However, last week I got not one, but two nights to rock and put him to bed. I cherish these moments, as I know all too well, they’ll be gone soon.

With the lights off, noise maker on and the fan off, he doesn’t like the fan, we sat in the rocker. Blanket in hand and snuggled in my arms. Me singing “twinkle” and “hush baby.” All the sudden I hear “Can’t see you.” “I know buddy, it’s dark, but I got you. I’m not going anywhere.” After songs and prayers, I tucked him into bed and heard it again. “Can’t see you, dad.” “I’m right here buddy. I love you.” “Love you. Night dad.”

As I reflected on both those nights last week, both times the same exclamation, “Can’t see you.” One time in my arms and one time with me standing right there, I could hear God saying, “I’m right here. I’m holding you. Trust me.”

Have you ever felt that way with God? “Can’t see you.” Has something gone wrong or not like you planned. Have you questioned his invitations to new adventures cause you weren’t sure if it was Him. Cause you couldn’t see Him.

No matter what is going on, He’s got you. He’s with you. He’s holding you. Even if you, in the moment, can’t see Him.

What a great reminder in this season of Lent.

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Begin Today

Yesterday, on my way home from  work, I passed a house that planned well. How do I know that? They were going camping this weekend. I mean, at least I assume they were since their camper was hooked up. And since it was 9 o’clock at night, my assumption is that they weren’t leaving yesterday. They were prepared to leave. Packed up. Hooked up. Ready to go.

I don’t plan well. Whether I am going on vacation, spending an afternoon at the camp or getting the kids ready for the sitter in the morning. Doesn’t matter. I always feel like it is going to go quick. That nothing will go wrong. That everything will be where it is supposed to be. But none of that ever happens. I always end up running late. If I would just slow down long enough to get things together and pack in advance.

God has been reminding me of that this Lent. Reminding me that I always wait until the last minute to do everything. If I am being honest, there’s no exception to Lent. Here we are, the end of the first full week of Lent, and I am still waiting to start. 

I mean, Ash Wednesday went well. And then I started getting “busy.” That’s my excuse. I’m too busy. I’ll pack later. I’ll start later. I’ll pray later. But later never comes.

This year I want it to be different. I don’t want to wait until later. Cause later is going to give way to Easter and Lent will be over. I want to slow down today. I want to spend time today. I want to enter into this Season today. Experience the dryness. Experience the longing. The longing for more of God. The longing to be who He created me to be. The longing to be with Him.

This is where I am today at the end of the 1st Week of Lent. Realizing that I haven’t begun well. That I’m not preparing like I should be – I’m not getting ready. But knowing that it’s still not too late to start. That I can start today. That I will start today.

If you’re like me, it’s not too late. Enter in. Start searching. Start preparing. Start getting ready. This Season of Lent is long for a reason. We need the length. It takes time to slow down enough to get ready. Let’s slow down. Let’s enter in. So that when Easter gets here, we are found ready for all it has to offer.

Restless

Last night I was rocking Lucy to sleep. After many failed attempts, Alesha handed her to me and asked if I would give it a shot. We went in the room and rocked for awhile. She was restless. Eventually I stood up and began bouncing her in my arms and humming. She was was so tired, but she kept jerking up and looking around. She just didn’t want to sleep. But eventually, her curiousness gave away to her exhaustion and she fell asleep.

Here we are, the Friday after Ash Wednesday. How’s your Lent going so far?

If I’m being honest, I feel like Lucy. I keep reaching. I keep wanting. I keep grasping. So far it has been a challenge for me to rest. To be still. To sit in the arms of the Father knowing that He knows what’s good for me.

As I rocked Lucy to sleep last night, I realized that there is so much that the Father wants for me this Lent. That all those things that keep drawing me from will reveal the areas in my life I am exhausted. The areas I am tired. The area I keep working at instead of letting Him have control over.

Like Lucy, I know this Lent, if I stay in His arms, eventually my exhaustion will give way and I will learn to rest. He will fill me. It will be His love and life that fix my brokenness. 

No matter where you are in journey so far, it’s still the beginning. We have this whole season to be with the Father. To let Him show us that He is in control. That all we have to do is “remain in Him.”

The Stuff

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” Matthew 6:8

On this eve of Lent, or as we call it in south Louisiana – Mardi Gras, I have been reflecting on the meaning of Lent and exactly what we are being invited into. My reflection kept reminding of last week. Last week I got to spend most of my time cleaning out storage rooms and reorganizing. This was an attempt to make things more functional.

As I was going through one closet in particular, our maintenance guy was with me, and I would point and ask what things were for. His response was the same, “I was told I couldn’t throw it away.” There was so much we were hanging onto that had become useless. No-one could even remember why we kept it or what it was for. Some of it was just attracting bugs. It was time to get rid of it.

Today I kept coming back to the thought of the stuff I keep in my life. The things I have been holding on to. The things that have cluttered up my life. Things I just can’t let go of. Not so much the physical stuff, although I probably need to declutter that too. It’s the emotions, the hurts, the feelings, the sins, the habits, etc. that I have stored away and not dealt with. The stuff that isn’t me even though I think it is.

It’s this stuff that God is inviting me this Lent to face, to look at, to get rid of. To invite Him into. Lent is all about cleaning out the closet of our lives, the stuff that has cluttered us all year long. This is the only way to make room for God. To become more functional. To allow ourselves to be filled with things that are important to God.

This is my hope for this Lent. How are you going to clean out the closet of your life? What is the stuff that God is inviting you to let go of? How can you make room for Him, so that come Easter, your life, my life, functions better?

Find God – Part Three

DFBB8154-D918-4573-961D-073E7413DE78If you’ve been following along, you know that we lost our dog last weekend and found her 30 plus hours later. And in part two of this series, I referenced a call from a friend of a friend on Facebook. I want to come back to that. But before I do, let’s look a BIG question that we’ve all asked. If God is so good and loving, why [fill in the blank]?

I’ve asked this question so many times in my life. More that I would care to admit in the past two months. You’ve asked this question. We all do. We doubt the Heart of God. We doubt if he is good. We doubt if he loves us.

Somtimes we even feel entitled. “God I’ve done all this stuff for you and this how you treat me.” No you’ve never asked that question, it’s just me that does. Wow, this is awkward.

But really. This is the NUMBER ONE hang up I am encountering amongst our students right now. If God is good and loving then why do I suffer? How about we step away from that question for a second. What if the question we’re supposed to be asking, is Lord, show me where you are in this?

I have a friend who lives in Texas, and she is one of the biggest prayer warriors I’ve ever met. She’s starting to get into my head with this stuff. She looks for the Lord everywhere and is always finding strangers to pray with.

So back to that call from the friend of a friend on Facebook. She was coming from Carencro and thought she spotted my dog (turns out it wasn’t her). She was apologetic for not stopping. “I’m running late to visit my mom in ICU.” Time out, no need to apologize here. Why’s your mom in ICU? She tells me. What a gift? There you are Lord, in the midst of my suffering, showing up. Inviting me to pray for this woman.

What if God’s heart isn’t bad? What if suffering just exists because we weren’t meant to be here in the first? What if in the midst of suffering we have an opportunity to find God?

In other words, while I was looking for my dog, I found my God giving me an opportunity to pray for one his children.

My friend from Texas would probably say something like, your missing dog was all about God giving you the opportunity to connect with this friend of a friend on Facebook cause she needed to experience Him.

Thank you Lord for being so good that you connect us in moments of life when we least expect it. You always provide. Help us to find you in the moments and not just focus on us.

Found Dog – Part Two

23004861_10159421926995328_2326417799825839842_oAfter spending over 30 hours looking for my dog, chasing down every lead I would receive on Facebook or by text message, I would eventually find her. I got a call from a friend of a friend on Facebook saying she might’ve seen my dog walking down University Ave in Carencro. This seemed like it could be it. The spot was not far from my house, and I was heading that way anyways.

I drove up and down University, checking the side streets, handing out flyers and I even stopped a runner and a police officer. I couldn’t find her and no-one had seen her.

I looked at the time and realized it was around 2:00 pm, and animal control allowed walk throughs if you thought your dog was there. I had looked at the website that morning and identified two possible dogs that might be Sammie.

Arriving at animal control, they took my information and had a caretaker meet me. He walked me into the kennels and I immediately saw her. In fact, when I walked through the door, she leaped up and pounced on her gate. I looked at the guy and said, “hey man, that’s my dog.” We did the paper work and I took her home.

We got home, I bathed her and decided she could sleep in the house that night. She’s not an inside dog, and really only gets to sleep in when its cold out. After a couple of hours of her being inside – fleas. In 10 years, my dog has never had fleas. She runs away and comes home infested.

Reflecting on this, I wonder how many times I end up on death row (she was in a kill shelter), about to fulfill a sentence I deserve, when the Lord has to save me again. How many times to I have to run away and be saved to learn that the Father loves me? That he’s unwilling to let me die. How many times does he have to clean me up for me realize I have it good at home? I was made to be at home.

The Lord loves us. When we run away, he won’t stop looking for us. And when He finds us flirting with death, he saves us again and brings us home. And once we’re home, infested with fleas and all sorts of other things, he cleans us and cleans the house. Our Father loves us.

I wish I could just remember that.

Lost Dog – Part One

Many of you know that my dog went missing on Saturday. We’ve had her since July of 2008, a little over 9 years. In June of 2008, Jay was born, and the next month we added Sammie, our dog, to our family. You never realize, or should I say, I never realized, how much a dog means to you until they’re gone.

Sammie has cost me a lot of money. She was treated and treated for red mange. When we finally got her fixed, cause that would prevent her outbreaks, we found out she never had red mange to begin with. Instead, she had a skin allergy. Great! Special diets. Special medicines.

Nine years later a lot of that is behind us. Now her teeth are getting bad, they want to extract them and put in titanium inserts. Really? She’s a dog. And did I mention I work for the Church. I can’t afford titanium inserts. Fortunately we haven’t actually had to cross that bridge yet.

This past Saturday, when I went to feed her, I realized she wasn’t home. I went inside and asked the family if they had seen her that afternoon, we had been gone all day. No-one had. Jay and I would spend the next hour or so driving around looking for her; it was 8:30 at night and dark.

The next morning, at different times, Alesha and I rode around looking. That night I would begin chasing down leads from social media, even if they were for spotted dogs 13 miles from my house. Monday came, and again I am knocking on doors of strangers, handing out business cards and flyers. Frantically looking for my dog. Fighting back tears from time to time. Not only is she gone, but I don’t know if she’s even alive. And I need some closure if I’m going to move on.

In all of this, I begin to experience the heart of the Father, the heart of the Lord. Frantically looking for us cause we’re lost. And he refuses to stop. He refuses to give up. He chases down every lead. Every moment of hope. He fights back the tears. But he won’t stop; he won’t give up.

Our lives are worth more than titanium inserts and misdiagnosed allergies. And what I realized is that the Father, yours and mine, he’s not giving up on us. He’s not quitting. He’s going to continue chasing down leads and searching until he finds us waiting. Until he finds us ready.

There’s not a dog that is worth our love. But when we experience the love that the relationship can provide, there is an absence in our lives when our dogs aren’t part of them. Our Father experience that absence when we “go missing.” We aren’t worth his search, but he loves us. And he won’t stop until he finds us ready.

I pray that no matter how unworthy we feel, we may realize that the Father is searching for us right now. Not because of anything we’ve done or haven’t done, but because there’s an ache in his heart that can only be filled with us.

To be continued…