Who I Am

We have been in school for several weeks now. To say we have gotten into the groove would be a stretch. However, we are thankful for our schools and the teachers each of the kids have been given. So far it has been a good year. It has been especially fun seeing all the new skills our little kindergartener has been learning. She can hardly wait to do homework each night. This has been a dream for her and she will probably ask for extra. While each child is different in their approach to school, she is one who belongs in the classroom. Bring on the worksheets, textbooks and tests. She will have her No. 2 pencils lined up and sharpened.

IMG_4982One of the booklets she brought home had a title on it that caught my eye. It said, “Who Am I?” She had written her name above the title. While the book was not about her, it is a question she will have to answer. It also reminded me of the movie I just saw called, Overcomer. That was a question asked and one that some of the characters had a hard time answering. Who you are is not the same thing as what job you do, what your marital status is, economic status or what your class rank happens to be. Who you are has so much more to it. It was bought with a price by our Creator and it defines who I am.

At one point if I had been asked the question, my answer would have been a pretty surface one. Those days are long gone and my identity is secure in who God says I am in His Word. Anything else is shakable, changeable and unreliable. If we based our identity on say our wealth and then one day it was gone, who would you be? If you had worked for one company for 20 years in a certain position and then one day you were let go, who would you be? If your church that you were a huge part of suddenly split, who would you be? If your identity came from your outward appearance and then this whole aging thing sets in and this image is not sustainable, who would you be?

This identity thing is a big topic right now in our country. So much confusion and it is heartbreaking. Why is gender such an issue? You were made one or the other. Your birth certificate can clear it up if one starts to question. Beyond that takes a bit more digging. If you grew up in a Bible based church, you have heard plenty of stories about Jesus and have heard about His love for you. Just look at the cross. There is a good starting point. You are loved. Let that one sink in. It might take awhile. Because of our sin, the cross was necessary to pay what we owed to purchase our forgiveness. Jesus did that for each person, no matter how long or little they lived. You are forgiven. All you have to do is believe, confess and receive. Not hard, very simple in fact because children do it all the time.

My prayer for our family and you today comes from a wonderful teaching I heard while in pickup line. “I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19) When you can say this is true of you, your identity will no longer be in question.

I Know and Believe

“And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.”                          1 John 4:16          

Sometimes pictures reveal more to our hearts than they do to our eyes. I found this to be very true last week, when our oldest smiled over and over again for her senior pictures. I tried to stay out of the way and let our friend do what she does best. When you are not the one behind the camera, you do not know exactly what was captured. I knew from experience that we would be blown away by how well these images turned out. What I did not expect was the picture taken at the end of the day. I was hot and had not planned on being photographed. You do a bit more when the camera is aimed at you. However, I am so thankful for a picture with my girl. She is moving from being a teenager with a parent/child relationship into one of friend. It is an incredible blessing.

IMG_4857After the photo shoot, we hurried home and I met a group of younger moms that come over once a month to talk and pray. If there is anything I try and communicate to them is the importance of being in God’s word. You can not give what you do not have. If you want to give your family Him, be in His word. So much pressure is taken off when it is Him and His wisdom you are living from. We laughed a lot as a group and prayed about hard things. I am so thankful for each of these girls. What a privilege to take what has been learned and share. Mistakes seem to be redeemed when you can warn others not to follow your example. It is also encouraging to see that despite my sin, God works wonders in our children.

Just a few days ago, this oldest child, her dad and I were on our way to a potential college informational meeting. We talked about lots of things and again laughed a lot. Somewhere along the way, she asked how much housekeepers get paid. We told her what we use to pay for our home to be cleaned. Now we do it as a family. Put music on really loud and it becomes not so boring and the time goes by quickly. She thought maybe she could clean a house or two as a job in college. I was shocked at her humility. When I was her age, this would have never crossed my mind because I lived to be served. She has a heart to serve. When we got to the meeting, the admissions guy was talking about the kind of students they are looking for at this particular college. He said they do look at test scores and GPA, but what they were after were students that showed servant leadership. They want kids who know the heart of Jesus and live by His example. This made me smile.

I got a beautiful glimpse of the love of God for us this week. Time and time again I was reminded that God is believable and His love is quite amazing. One look at my husband, our kids or when I listen to the words they say, I am reminded that God loves me. He took a girl who was not very lovable and moved into my heart and has done a mighty work. I pray the work He has done and continues to do, will be passed down from generation to generation. My prayer for our family is, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves the one born of Him. This is how we know that we love God’s children: when we love God and obey His commands. For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. And His commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.” (1 John 5:1-4). May our family be strong in following God’s commands, beautiful servants, known for love and conquering faith as we all continue to grow up in the image of Him.

 

Unwrapped

Jesus said to them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.” John 11:44

This picture that Jesus paints in John 11 is quite amazing. You will need to read it for yourself, but I will summarize it a bit. A friend of Jesus named Lazarus got very sick and died. He was placed in a tomb and his family and friends were days into mourning this heartbreaking loss. Jesus steps into the scene and before long He is telling the people to move the stone that covered the tomb, thanks His Father for hearing Him and then tells the dead man to come out of the tomb. The stone blocking the exit has been moved, words of thanks spoken from the Son of God, in complete faith, have filled the air and a command has been given. What happens next is a miracle! “The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his faced wrapped in cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unwrap him and let him go.” (11:44). Can you even imagine witnessing such an impossible resurrection?

IMG_4404I read a teaching from Jill Briscoe the other day where she talked about the grave clothes that Lazarus was wearing. These linen strips and face cloth needed to be taken off of this very much alive man. She said the most interesting thing at the end of her lesson. “Throw away your grave clothes; they are poor dress for a living person!” This got my attention and had me asking the Lord if there were any areas in my life that looked like I was still bound in grave clothes. Then the words “linen strips” stuck out to me from the verse. Linen strips were also used as bandages for wounds. Bandages are necessary for a time as a wound heals, but eventually need to be removed. How many of us have bandages on from 20 years ago?

The Lord does not speak out loud to me, but His Holy Spirit does speak inside of my head and heart. I heard Him say that there were a few bandages I still had wrapped around me. They have been worn for so long that they just seem normal. The wounds have been healed, now unwrap them and live. Bandages are part of the healing process and we are all left with scars. But in my opinion, they do not need to be worn as almost an identification badge. Yes, there is past sin and yes hard things happen to us all, but we are alive! We have been brought from death to life because of Jesus. Forgiveness had a price and it has been paid.

These linen strips can keep us from moving and seeing properly. If we were looking through a piece of linen, images would not be very clear. We would see the fabric first and then what was in front of us. With the linen gone, we can see people in a fresh way and not distorted by our wounds. Life can be quite exciting when this freedom takes place! When we are free from anything that binds us, we can move. We can go to places that we have never been. We can explore. We can run. We can use each step as an act of worship. Think about the difference in our homes with this unbound living approach. We would not throw 10 year old hurts back into our spouses face. We would not remind our children of all the times they have messed up. Think about the freedom this would give them! When we are truly living, everyone we come in contact with gets a glimpse of love. Why would we go through this life any other way?