When It’s Easter Week And You’re Short On Hope

I sat across from her. An 8:30 breakfast on Wednesday of Easter week. But we didn’t talk about weekend plans. Instead she tells me her story. A story no one should have. A son taken from her too soon. Despite all the prayers lifted up, despite all the attempts to save him, her baby gone from this earth and all she’s left with is an ache.girl-865304_1920

So everyone celebrates life this week while she breaks.

My stomach tightens, not from the chain-restaurant omelette, but from the knot of longing. I wanted to say I understand. But how can I? Who can understand such pain? I wanted to have some great words of comfort, but none came.

What do you say to a mother who lowered her son in a grave long before his time? What do you say when it seems the whole world is erupting with spring life and hers is cloaked in winter’s chill?

Nothing.

So I listen. And I pray. And I realize that her story is sadly not rare enough. I realize that all around me lie the ruins of brokenness. I realize that the journey through this world is one split by selfishness and greed and hatred and heartache. And too often, hopelessness.

And then I remember the story.

The one where Hope stepped onto the landscape of the world, took on its brokenness and stretched it out on a cross. The one where the sky split open and grace descended.cross-828894_1920

I don’t believe most stories. I think incredible stories are mostly just that—in-credible. And this one is most incredible of all. I mean who can absorb the notion that God would come to earth and pour Himself into flesh?

Not just flesh, but infant flesh. And that He grew into a divine man with the power to heal and to forgive? And then in that power He looked behind and ahead to all mankind—to me and to you—and saw each moment?

Each broken moment. Each unholy moment. Each gunshot fired. Each drug injected. Each harsh word or cold slap. Each tear shed. That He had the power to see my pain and my disease and my injustice and…my sin, and declare it wiped away?

Who could believe such a story?

But I believe this one.

Not because someone told it to me, although I’m glad they did. Not because of a Sunday school flannel board, although it was fun. And not even because I read it in an ancient document, although I now treasure that holy book.lamp-872946_1920I believe it because His story collided with my story and it became our story.

I believe it because there was a time when I couldn’t find my way through the senselessness of my broken road and all I had were whys. There was no making sense. There was only doubt and fear and a sense that I would never be okay again.

And then that story. A man who died on a cross, yet lived. A man who stretched out His arms and declared it finished, yet just beginning. He looked though the corridors of 2000 years and saw my tears and desperation and I saw Him. And it wasn’t just a story anymore. It was Hope and Resurrected Life.

It was God with me.

Emmanuel. God with us. Then and now. Reminding us that we are not alone.

And that this is not the forever world. But there is one waiting for us that needs no words to explain it or make it make sense. A world where a mother who walked this earth years past her prime stretches renewed arms out to her young son who never reached his in an embrace that knows no sorrow.mother-and-son-887058_1920

A world where there is no more death or grief or tears or pain. A world that makes sense of all that is and was.

A world that once only existed in my make-believe mind. But I’ve glimpsed it. I got a peak into that world during my deepest suffering. The curtain was pulled back and I knew. I knew the story was true. I knew that it was possible to live when everything else was dying.

My friend knows it too.

Our breakfast dishes had been cleared away and we sipped the last of our coffee through tears and through laughter. She knows the story. Heaven came down when her son was taken up.

She suffers. She longs. She questions. Yet she knows. She believes. This broken road ends in wholeness.church-750251_1920I hope you can believe that.

I hope you can take it all in despite how in-credible it sounds. The suffering, the heartache, the senselessness. It won’t always be so. It’s only part of this journey and it isn’t forever.

If something in you has died, if all hope is lost, I hope you will believe the story. I promise you, when you look through faith’s eyes, you see what can not be seen with your own. And you can find joy despite suffering, hope despite hopelessness, and life despite death.

I’ve created Hope For the Hard Places just for you, and I’d love for you to download it or share it in anyway you find helpful.

Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you believe the story. Or if you’re not sure. I’d love to have coffee with you sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time To Breathe

Do you feel a bit stretched thin right now? Any of you mamas just on the verge of, or well past, wanting to pull your hair out (or someone else’s :-/ )?thumb_FullSizeRender-2_1024

If so, please PAUSE… 

and BREATHE…

And know that everything that’s making you crazy is temporary and won’t even be remembered by anyone this time next year. What will be remembered is whether Christmas is the joy you say it is or a burden, whether it brings the peace it promises or spurs chaos in your home.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord…Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”–Luke 2:9-10, 13-14

So…this year, in the midst of all the excitement, let’s not forget to bring good news that causes great joy. Let’s celebrate the Savior as the angels did and receive His peace.

Please say this with me: I are not a slave to anyone’s expectations. Especially my own! I hope you really believe that.

I hope that if you’re harried, you will slow down, connect, and find rest. Maybe jump in the car with your kiddos and go “light-seeing”. Curl up on the couch with hubby and watch a sappy movie. They matter. The “one more batch of cookies” you think you have to make for the party you don’t want to go to? Buy them. Or skip it altogether. And those gifts you want to wrap as beautifully as Macy’s? Stick ’em in a bag and know it’s enough. Sometimes, enough is just perfect.

“Enough” will leave you time to do what you love with the people you love.

thumb_FullSizeRender-5_1024Like chatting with friends over a cup of tea. Yep, that’s me with you…

…Thank you for hanging out with me during such a busy season. It means so much to me.

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of the Perfect Christmas and The Year We Beheaded Joseph

I’m an idealist. I always have a picture in my head of how every detail of every day is supposed to look. Magnify that multiple times and you have Christmas.

Needless to say, I struggle with expectations and the endless string of unmet ones. But that year was different. That year, it seemed Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kincaid visited my house and painted the perfect Christmas scene.

My white farmhouse was glowing with lights, a fire crackled in the woodstove, and soft carols were playing on the radio. The perfect live Christmas tree stood in front of the window, garland was draped beautifully down banners and wrapped around light poles, and Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus were lit up as the focal point in my yard.

Perfect!

2143532291_b408712940_zI’d never had a yard nativity scene. I wanted one, because after all, I wanted to show my kids what Christmas was all about. Only I wanted a really nice one, and the price was a bit extravagant for our budget. But that year was different. That year, I’d found an incredible sale and it cinched the “perfect Christmas” for me.

And then, it happened. The kids and I were playing in the snow, careful not to go near the sacred nativity, when a strong wind blew Joseph’s head right off. I stood staring in disbelief as it plopped down by Jesus. Convinced Satan himself was trying to ruin my perfect Christmas, I heard from behind me something like, “Uhh, it was an accident.”

The words didn’t compute. Surely my children knew how long I’d waited to showcase this scene in my yard. Surely, they were not responsible for Joseph’s beheading. But they were. Or at least my son was, and his sister protected his secret.

Kieran was 12 that year and was perfecting his Chuck Norris kicks on everything in sight. Joseph was yet another casualty of a roundhouse kick. In an attempt to save his own head, he had set Joseph’s head back on his body and hoped for grace.

I wanted to cry. I wanted to call off Christmas. I wanted to scold my son for being so careless and insensitive and both of them for not fessing up. But as I turned on them and they stood utterly still and quiet, I heard that quiet voice whisper, “It’s not about Joseph or a manger scene in the yard,” and instantly the ridiculousness of it all hit me. My disappointment and anger dissolved into laughter.

How ironic it seemed. My picturesque Christmas was not so picturesque after all. But then, neither was that first Christmas when Jesus came onto the scene. The heavens may have been filled with singing, but the stable or cave or whatever He was born into was filled with manure. There may have been “the thrill of hope,” but there was also uncertainty and want.

Sounds a bit like Christmas today.

Since then, I’ve realized that the perfect Christmas is a phantom, and chasing it is the surest way to ruin it.

This year, instead of seeking the perfect Christmas, won’t you join me in seeking the One who is perfect? In doing so, we may not fill our Pinterest boards with ideas, but we will fill our homes with peace and our families will declare the glory of God.

Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

 

You Are Why I’m Here

Family Photo copyIt’s official. I bought our tickets back to Alaska for another season of fishing which means my life is a whirlwind until I step on that plane.

It’s already begun, so I’ve missed chatting with you these last couple of weeks. I was so grateful to share my friend Katrina’s post for the Mother’s Day weekend because I knew you’d be blessed (If you missed it, you can catch it here: https://motherswithamissionblog.org/?s=To-Do&submit=Search). But afterward, life did what it does and went a little crazy for me. Our business is thriving which means lots of work. The homeschool year is winding down, which also means lots of work. And since we’re gearing up to head back to Alaska, it means–yep, you guessed it–lots of work.

So it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve shared with you and I’ve missed you. It’s funny that despite a screen separating us, I know we’re connected. Over the last year, this blog has moved from something I enjoy to something I deeply care about and that’s because of you. I love chatting with you and hearing from you in return. Each week, as I grab a cup of coffee and sip, I type with you in mind. I just want you to know that.

It’s been more than a year since I began writing here at Mothers With a Mission, and I’ve learned a lot. I still struggle with the technical side of things and I still find myself at 2 a.m. trying to change an image or fix a link, so I still have lots to learn. But one thing I want most to learn is more about you because you are why I’m here. I want to make your journey as a woman and as a mother a little smoother, with a little more joy and a lot less worry along the way. I want you to find a safe place here where you are encouraged and inspired, believing that you have a purpose that only you can fulfill.

In just over three weeks, I’ll be on our little stretch of beach we call home for the summer. It’s there that I get to unplug and actually have words roll into complete thoughts all in one sitting. Imagine that! Before I go, I’m hoping to send out a survey (if I can figure out this survey program :-/). I hope you take the time to fill it out so I can learn from you and better serve you when I return in the fall. I promise it will not be wasted time. Oh, I’ll still post from Alaska, but since I have no electricity there, consistency is a challenge, but I’ll do my best.

Until then, be looking for that survey, and I’ll be looking forward to our next time together.

Your Best Year–Your Best You

MWM blogger

MWM blogger

Well Mamas, here we are at the edge of a new beginning. Don’t you just love the chance to start fresh? I don’t know how many resolutions you made going into the new year, but I’m sure some are right on course and others have already become old news. The good news is we still have 347 days of opportunity and promise ahead of us, 347 days to move closer to the you and the family and the life you’ve always wanted. Whatever you can dream, God’s dream is bigger. He says so in Ephesians 3:20, and I am excited to get refreshed in my spirit, renewed in my mind, and re-energized in my body.

Last year was a tough one for me. Lots of struggle and lots of loss, and I have to admit there were times I threw my hands up and said, “Why bother?” As a result I was sick often, tired more, gained a bunch of weight and lost a lot of energy. Maybe you understand. Maybe I’ll have a year of even greater challenges. Maybe not. I can’t predict the future. But I can say that come what may, I still intend to have the best year and the best me of my life.

I’m a firm believer that God did not create us to just live and die, to struggle into midlife only to watch it all go downhill from there as we age and watch our children leave our homes and our dreams leave our hearts.Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I believe Him. I believe wholeheartedly that we were meant to thrive every single day in every single way. I believe that every age and every stage should be better than the one before.

That’s my quest this year–to grab hold of the abundant life Jesus promises. Will you join me? I hope you’ll decide to be what only you can be. I’ve learned that we can never afford to be stagnant, especially as mothers. Too many people are counting on us. Moms, the world needs you. Besides the details you attend to every day that only God sees, no one inspires, encourages, and challenges quite like you. But you can’t do that if you are drawing from an empty reservoir–physically exhausted, mentally dull, and spiritually drained. Your life matters because you matter to every else’s life.

Let today be the first of 24 hours that moves you closer to your purpose. Not mine. Not your best friend’s. Yours! It is uniquely yours and only you can be what you were meant to be. But in order to have it, you must first see it. So capture, or perhaps recapture, the vision. What do you want you and your family and your life to look like? What you think and can see today is what you will live tomorrow, so think big and see great things.

I’m starting today and I hope you’ll come too. I’m believing with you and for you that a year from now you will be stronger in body, mind, and spirit and it will be said of you, “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come” (Proverbs 31:25, NIV).

I’m standing with you my sisters as we press in and press on with confidence and joy.