Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Undeserving

One week from today is Christmas. It's a little mind boggling. David is taking a final as I write this, I've been busy with my jobs, we were out of town over the weekend celebrating Erin's (David's sister) graduation from Auburn University... It feels like all month we've been thinking about getting ready for the next thing while intermingling the Christmas music, the tacky sweater parties, the gift wrapping... In the midst of all the holiday/December/end of semester busyness, I felt like we were doing a pretty good job of enjoying the season as best we could.

But, then I went to a store to buy a gift card for a family member. It was supposed to be a quick, run in/run out, kind of trip. I grabbed the gift card and got in the express line behind a woman who had easily 40 items in her cart and in front of her was a woman with at least 30. I tried not to let my slight frustration show on my face as I glanced to the left where the magazines were displayed, and there, on the cover of "People Magazine," were the Little Couple from TLC.

I adore their television show. I've watched it since it first came on and have secretly always loved to one day have the opportunity to meet them. When their show abruptly stopped a few months ago, I figured it was just holiday timing, and that they'd come back on after they'd gotten their newly adopted daughter home from India and spent alone time bonding with her. So, when I saw their picture on the magazine, I had to grab it to glean any information about how they and their growing family were doing. I looked forward in line and saw that 30 items lady was writing a check, so I quickly flipped through the glossy pages to find the article, knowing I had enough time to get the gist of it.

When I got there, my heart sank.

Cancer.

I read the tear jerking (in my case) article describing their present situation. Jen having to be rushed home from India, diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer, a rare kind that only affects women who had been pregnant. The irony was painful, and I'm just a person who watches their show.

When David got home later that day, I told him about the article. David has, on occasion, watched the show with me, but only when he has no choice and is simply too tired to do anything else than veg for the 30 minutes it takes me to watch it. When I told him what was going on with their family, he froze, and everything just sort of stopped. We prayed for their family that night and have continued to pray for supernatural healing to touch her body...

This morning, I sat at our kitchen table and unpacked the Mary Kay order I'd been waiting two weeks for. I separated eye shadow samples and looked around our barn house from my chair.

The only word that could describe what I saw was "undeserving." We aren't the best people. We aren't the best neighbors. We aren't the best servants, or adult children, or friends, or even co-workers. Why are we so blessed with so much? Why has the Lord chosen to show us such favor? Why do other people who are so wonderful get sick? Why do families have to watch loved ones die?

My Pandora station played Christmas music in the background, and I remembered the beginning to every answer to every question has already come with the birth of Jesus.

We are undeserving, and God knew that. But, even though we were undeserving, He still desired relationship with us. He still wanted life for us. He was willing to watch His most precious loved one die... Die an agonizing death... So we would know how He really feels about us. Our present circumstances don't reflect God's love for us. God's love doesn't change. So whether we're snuggled, healthy into our homes on Christmas morning or laying sick in a hospital bed, God's love is the same for both.

Christmas morning, Jesus was sleeping among animal waste... Did Mary ask, "Why here? Why this way? Why us? Why Him?" Maybe. But, the circumstances didn't change the truth about God's love. God loved Jesus, His only Son, very, very much. And Jesus knew that fact as He grew up and as they nailed Him to the cross, He knew that his present circumstances didn't reflect how God felt about Him. God loved Him the same that He'd always loved Him.

This Christmas, whatever your present circumstances, I hope you remember that. That, when life is picturesque and when life is hard and scary, God's love for you is the same in both places... Great and merciful.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

When we heard a winter storm named Cleon was forecasted to impact North Little Rock, we were in denial at first, but the day before she came, everyone started to recognize we should probably take the storm warnings seriously... And, I'll admit, I'm glad we made that last minute run to the grocery store! Ever since the sleet started to fall late Thursday night, we've kept our cars in the garage and stayed put!

Yesterday, precipitation fell from the sky almost all day. Outside could best be described as slushy. For the majority of today, however, it has been bright and beautiful! I couldn't believe how bright it has been inside our house as the sun has reflected off the snow covered ground through our windows. It's really been very enjoyable. However, we have been very blessed to have not lost power nor need to get out and go anywhere.

We ventured out for a walk this morning, but honestly, with the windchill being 8, my fingers were not coming out of their ski gloves to take a picture of the white, shiny streets and houses, no matter how pretty they looked.

David is taking advantage of the forced-indoor time to continue preparing for finals, which start this week. (We're almost half way through law school! Woo hoo!!) I'm happily getting things done inside, like wrapping Christmas presents and cooking.

This afternoon, David took Sperry in the backyard for some exercise. So, while Sperry ran back and forth across the back yard chasing a frozen tennis ball, because the temperature had risen ever so slightly since this morning, I managed to take a few quick pictures to document the season's first snow fall.








Come Monday, we're praying the streets will be clear enough for the city to be back to business as usual. But, for now, we'll claim the rest of the weekend as a snow day... : )

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Lonely Fog

It's afternoon, and the fog is still just as thick as it was this morning when I left for the grocery store. The meteorologist's morning forecast echoed as I pulled out of the driveway, "There is .0 visibility on the roads due to fog. Major delays. Drive carefully."

I don't know all the science of fog, but I fully understand fog's present reality...

When it's thick, I can't see through it. When it's thin, I can't see well. And no matter what it's density, when it's present, I can't see as clear or as far as I normally can.

After bumping into my neighbor at the grocery store and hearing about her recent half marathon, I was encouraged to get back into my exercise routine and go for a run this afternoon... But I looked through the store windows at the fog and wondered, "What if a car doesn't see me? What if the fog hides me from the driver, and I get hit by his car?" 

So, I considered doing yoga inside and not running this afternoon instead.

Later, David and I ran an errand to the other side of town. I was glad we were running this errand together. It would have been more ominous if we had tried to find our destination by our individual selves. I couldn't see past the sides of the bridge as we crossed over the Arkansas River. The fog had hidden everything.

Even though we couldn't see far, or well, we pressed forward through the fog grateful that we'd been taught how to drive through it. We encouraged each other that the fog would eventually lift. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but Little Rock would not always be foggy.

On our way home, I reconsidered my exercise choices for the afternoon and realized I wasn't going to let the fog get in the way of me doing something I wanted to do. There was an easy way to be safe in the fog if I did choose to run: I could stay on the sidewalk. I could run where I'm supposed to run regardless if there's fog or not.

I've had seasons in life that were foggy. Seasons when present circumstances made it impossible to see any distance into the future. And within those seasons, I had moments where I was too fearful to put even one small foot in front of the other because I was afraid of what might be hidden in the fog.

I've had panic attacks so intense I thought I would never move again until someone found me and physically picked me up. I was entirely aware that just me by myself didn't have the power inside to overcome the phenomena overtaking my body.

The truth is, nobody has it in them to do it all by themselves. You don't. You've thought, "I just can't do it anymore." And you're right. We, by ourselves, can't do it alone. We're just built that way.

We were made to live life (all of life) in relationship with other people AND our Maker.

"Well, Lindsay, that's a nice sounding sentence there, but you don't know me, and I AM ALONE."

You don't have any friends, family, or co-workers? You live alone, work from home, and live off the land out your back door? Even if the answer to all of those questions is "YES," you're still not alone. I don't have an "out" for you. And believe me, you can try.

Because the One who made you has crosses plastered all over this world reminding you of the death He let His Son go through so that you and He could be in relationship.

So in our foggiest seasons, when we can't see more than one hour in front of us, and when one hour feels unmanageable, you don't have to go through that one hour alone. You don't have to fear the fog. You don't have to give into the paralyzing sensation anymore. The only thing you have to do is make a choice not to do it alone anymore.

Cause I'll tell you something, no matter what you try to make it feel better, it's not going to fill that loneliness you've got inside. The alcohol will numb it for awhile, the drugs will make you feel better for awhile, and the cutting will provide a different feeling instead... for awhile. The power, and the sex, and the money won't satisfy. You'll find yourself searching for numbness or a high as soon as you slow down for a second... Or, you might go searching for the means to an end to it all.

That thing that's missing from your life is the thing you were created for... relationship with your Maker. (Christians, that statement doesn't only apply to non-believers... We were all created to be IN relationship with our Maker.)

God isn't who you think He is. He wants to do your life with you. He wouldn't have made you if He didn't. You're here. No matter how you were conceived, you're here. You don't have an "out." You're the proof that the Maker of the Universe desires a relationship with YOU.

Jesus showed us that even in the middle of a storm, something much more ominous than fog, there can be peace when He is present. (Mark 4:35-41) The terrifying feeling of loneliness. The fear in the uncertainty. Peace can be present there. (1 Corinthians 14:33)

So, if you're in a foggy season, remember it's just fog. It will lift. And until it does, you don't have to live the way you're living... And, you certainly shouldn't feel like you're living it alone.

There's Hope that wants to walk through the fog with you. Choose it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

There's no place like Orlando for the holidays...

Like my rendition? My family has spent many holidays in Orlando, Florida. With the exception of David, the rest of the family prefers warm weather to cold. So, growing up, we NEVER traveled anywhere cold. Water, sun, and warmth usually describes every vacation spot.

When my parents presented the idea of spending Thanksgiving in Orlando this year, there was no need for discussion. We were all game.

It was absolutely my favorite Thanksgiving thus far. We had such a great time riding the rides, enjoying each others' company, and snacking on caramel apples. It was definitely a very, very special Thanksgiving, and David and I were truly grateful to be able to spend quality time with my family in a such a fun way.

Here are just a few of my favorite pictures from our trip.

Our first night together: dinner in Downtown Disney at Rainforest Cafe.

(Dad, David, Paul)

(Katie, Mom, Me)

(Mom and Dad)

(Paul and Katie and a Brownie Volcano)

 
(Mom and Dad)

Thanksgiving Lunch at Mythos in Islands of Adventure

(Katie, Mom, Dad)

(Paul, David, Me)

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure

(Marmaduke, Dad, Katie ... Hold on tight!)

(Dad and Mom in line for the Spiderman ride)

(The one picture of ALL of us!)

(David and Me)

(Mom and Paul)

(Katie, Mom, Paul, and Dad ... In line for the Simpson's Ride... Katie is redoing her hair.)

Dinner our last night in CityWalk at Pastamore.... Delicious!

(Katie, David, Me)

(Mom, Paul, Dad)

(Dad and Katie ... Let's just say they had a little bit of fun at their end of the table.)

Our fun and precious time together reminded us all of how much we have to be thankful for. As our family proved, it's not about how you celebrate the day, it's about intentionally remembering how blessed we are and giving thanks for it. 

Happy belated Thanksgiving! 

"Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God." Psalm 95:2-3