Tag Archive for hope

I am mad so I bake a cake. {A Few Thoughts on the Unthinkable going on in Syria}

I wasn’t planning to write today so I’m putting this out here as a stream of consciousness, unedited and imperfect. Forgive my mistakes, but…

I’ve been thinking about the horrific attack of life in Syria–the hopelessness those poor people must be feeling after realizing that their own government forever changed their life with violence. Senseless violence. Wickedness. Murder. Chemicals used on children. 27 of them. Innocents assaulted and killed. Children of God, made in His image. Imagine how the injustice of this must anger God and fly in the face of His mercy and love. One man lost 25 members of his family. I can’t imagine the pain. Father, forgive me when I complain.

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I was convicted when I woke this morning and saw the news.

You see, I’ve been frustrated and tired. We’re in a pattern of sleepless nights over here again, our foster child waking at 2:30 am pretty consistently and crying on the hour. Sometimes until 5 am. Sometimes he comes into bed with us. Other night he screams and I rock him. This is hard and I don’t know why he’s doing it. I’m wondering if there’s emotional problems I can’t reach or fix. I’m focusing on the what ifs. I’m not counting this all joy.

My ordinary life–my hard day–is nothing to complain about. There are 27 mothers somewhere in Syria who would give anything to be up at night just one more time with their child. They’d love the chance to try to problem solve for their little one.

I asked God to give me eyes to see the big picture through bleary eyes and weak body.

I prayed for those mothers. Won’t you pray for them, too? I wondered what I could do today when the problem is so huge and the struggle seems so impossible.

I instinctively start to clean and make the home cozy. A magazine here, fluff the pillows and add a throw blanket there. I light a candle, bake a cake.

I recall hearing someone somewhere say, “In times of tragedy, create beauty”–or something along those lines.

I’ve thought of this advice after the death of a loved one, or whenever life seems hopeless. I find myself wanting to create order out of disorder. I suppose that to some extent, it’s a way to imitate our Creator.

Creating beauty and a peaceful environment is like a silent resistance–a refusal to be overcome by the evil or defeated by the spirit of hopelessness. For the artist at heart, creating beauty is a way to deal with grief, and giving art is an offering of healing and friendship to the recipient, whether it’s a handwritten note, baked good, watercolor, fist full of wildflowers, or musical piece.

When my niece Addy had her super risky surgery two years back, I painted this piece: Teach us to Number our Days.

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When my grandfather died, my daughter Rebekah wrote this 3 part violin arrangement of Be Still My Soul (Finlandia) for her and her sisters to play for him one last time at his funeral. Beauty born in the middle of grief.

Some of the most amazing music has been born out of grief. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, (Adagio) was played in Berlin during the RAF bombing and the orchestra continued playing until the end. You can hear it here or purchase the original recording here, digitally remastered so you can still hear the bombs in the background. I highly recommend you listen.

French composer, Oliver Massiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time was composed and performed in a concentration camp on an old, out of tune, upright piano in the winter of January 1941. The piece can be heard on YouTube here (I especially love the V movement: Praise to the Eternity of Jesus. 20:15 in the recording.) and more about how he obtained paper from the guards, and worked with other musicians in the camp barracks and the performance can be found here.

If you are overwhelmed today, realize that our soul knows that this world is broken and we all wait and long for Eternity.

Perhaps create something beautiful for the sake of your children, husband, friend, or even yourself.

Tell someone you love them. Set a table for tea. Light a candle. Love others well. Pray for those who do the unthinkable and those who are bearing injustice. Wait patiently for Him. Do not be overcome with darkness. Walk in the light.

Waiting is your calling. Waiting is your blessing. Every one of God’s children has been chosen to wait, because every one of God’s children lives between the “already” and the “not yet.” Already this world has been broken by sin, but not yet has it been made new again. Already Jesus has come, but not yet has he returned to take you home with him forever. Already your sin has been forgiven, but not yet have you been fully delivered from it. Already Jesus reigns, but not yet has his final kingdom come. Already sin has been defeated, but not yet has it been completely destroyed. Already the Holy Spirit has been given, but not yet have you been perfectly formed into the likeness of Jesus. Already God has given you his Word, but not yet has it totally transformed your life. Already you have been given grace, but not yet has that grace finished its work. You see, we’re all called to wait because we all live right smack dab in the middle of God’s grand redemptive story. We all wait for the final end of the work that God has begun in and for us.” Paul Tripp, New Morning Mercies

For When You’re Spiraling Downward

I once had a problem so big that I let it suck the life out of me. At any given moment, just the thought of the problem could send what seemed to be a brick slamming down into my stomach, and my thoughts would slowly descend, spiraling downward like a bathtub when the drain is opened and the dirty water instinctively rushes down to some lower level until the vessel is left empty. Empty but all-consumed.

 

That is how I felt.

I was walking through life in a semi conscious state, in a fog. Doing life but not all there. I was fighting to find even the smallest spark of joy.

I am sure I missed things that I can never recover.

Memories with my kids, my husband, and life.

Life. I missed life at that moment, because problems were big and  I was living  a self imposed death.

When we let problems, real or perceived, become so big that all of life is small in comparison, we aren’t thinking straight.

We *think* we are fighting to hold on to our dreams, to right the wrongs, and to uphold justice, but

in reality are ruining our own lives.

We’re working overtime to fix our idea of what our lives should look like, how the people in our lives should act, how people should relate with us, how our husband should be more dedicated to justice and our brother in law should be less outspoken and more caring, how our finances should be steadier and our children, for heavens sake, should not ever be sick.

WE.ARE.TRYING.TO.BE.IN.CONTROL.OF.EVERYTHING.

Bottom line: We think life would be better if it went our way.

Our prayer is “My kingdom come.” (of course, it is an unspoken prayer, because, ya know, who would actually verbalize that? But that is how we act.)

We forget about God’s kingdom for a time, because we’re so busy working overtime on our own.

If we don’t let it go, the dream of our ideal world, life according to Sarah, we die inside and lose hope, and end up in despair.

Despair is the mental death of a dream that never materialized.

The simple solution: Relinquish your throne.

Acknowledge that God is actually in Control of All Life.

And He is your God, so you can trust Him.

Let go of being right. Let go of being wronged.

Because in the end, our only concern has to be for His kingdom.

Our goals have to be His goals.

We can’t advance our own kingdom and His at the same time.

What consumes your thoughts? Identify it.

Now picture yourself taking it into your hand and giving it to God. (really, it is in his hands already, but you are acknowledging his Lordship in this mental exercise, mKay?)

Give it back to God and don’t ever take it back. No backsies.  (and if you do find yourself with it “back”, which is highly unlikely, but let’s just say incase your sister does it or something crazy like that…do it over again. Give it back again.)

He is doing all His Holy will each day. Do you believe this? Can you believe Him?

Resting in God’s sovereignty is the way to resuscitate your weary heart, mind, and life.

Today is life. Today is real. Embrace it and thank God for it as you TRUST God’s goodness towards you.

**Please know that I realize that all depression is not related to “thinking wrong thoughts” or “not depending on God.” The fact is that some forms of depression require medication and thank God we have that available in modern days. This study is for women who are struggling with wrong thoughts and the negative effect it can have on our bodies.

 

Linked to Courtney

A One Size Fits All Parenting Tip

Yesterday we talked about the one size fits all parenting strategy that  God prescribes for us in Psalm 78.  here  We are to teach our kids about God’s mighty acts, so that they will remember to hope in God and to obey Him.

I don’t know about you, but I easily forget things.

I am a huge list maker. If it doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get done.

So, to me, this whole concept of remembering to teach in everyday life is something that I need to work to achieve.

I write myself reminders. I post scripture. I use other mind prompts, because I know that I am so prone to forget.

And I don’t want to forget, because when we forget to teach our children, they loose their grounding and their hope.

Just like when Israel failed to live and teach what God prescribed. They lost their grounding, and headed into sin.

They complained, craved things God didn’t want them to have, wallowed in self pity, distrusted and falsely accused God.

They focused on their :

  • past- “Remember what we used to eat in Egypt,” instead of focusing on the blessing and provision of daily mana from God.
  • problems- “We have no water!” instead of remembering the God who provided water in a dessert and from a rock.
  • desires- “We want meat,” and then questioned God’s power by asking “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” instead of praising Him all that He had provided and trusting in His presence.
  • idols- Even though they had seen God part the Red Sea, provide food that rained from heaven and water from a rock, they still worshipped idols of stone, wood and gold–not to mention their own lusts.

God gives us an inside look into their hearts while they were acting this way: (Ps. 78:32,36)

In spite of of all this, they still sinned: despite his wonders, they did not believe.

But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues: Their heart was not steadfast toward him, and they were not faithful to his covenant.

They sinned. Did not believe. Flattered. Lied. Wavered. Unfaithful. Not a pretty picture of God’s people, is it?

Today, we may not crave meat and water, and we may not serve idols of gold and wood, but I believe that many times we are still like the Israelites.

We  dwell on our  problems, we cling to what we crave , spend inordinate amounts of time worshipping our “idols”– money, success, power, respect, friends, etc… instead of setting our hope in God and his goodness.

And when we cling to anything but God, usually God disciplines us, sometimes by allowing us to have what we actually desire (which can be scary) or by taking away all of the things we are grasping for.

I love Romans 8:32 .” He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Our heart skips a little beat when we read this, knowing that God delights to give us good things. Good, we think, expecting the “good things” to be the things we desire and crave, as though God is some genie or magician ready to do our bidding.

But, what happens when the “things” that God gives us includes  trials and withholding things that we desperately want?

I love this quote from Lydia Brownback’s book Contentment. “Can we not be content if part of the “all things” includes some withholding? For the daughter of God, any withholding is itself a provision, and we can experience it with joy when we know that the withholder loves us.”

and ” Sometimes we get the wrong idea about how God satisfies us. He doesn’t come to us on our terms, taking the role of a surrogate for the things or the relationship we lack. HE comes in place of those things, giving us something even better.”

God always gives us what is good for us. And instead of worrying or despairing, fuming or complaining, let’s thank Him and lead our children to thank Him as well.

So, today, REMEMBER to teach your children about the wonders of God. This should be part of our everyday talk.  Tell them how He has helped you personally. Tell them of your answered prayer and His faithfulness. Don’t let your home be a place of “poor me” stories and  an “if only” legacy. Leave your children a vibrant heritage of a hope in their personal, loving God.

 

Linked to Courtney