Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Confession: I Worship Idols

Want to know a secret?

Hitting "publish" on my blog often makes me cringe. Those closest to me know my struggles. And they know that walking out the words I write isn't a given for me. A lot of the reason I blog is so I can go back and read my own words and remember what the Lord is teaching me. I am just so quick to forget.

I don't have faith figured out. A lot, okay most, of the time I would venture to say I don't trust Jesus with my life or my kids. Clinging to stuff, people, and my own way tends to be more my thing. Oh yes, I know I trust Him more than I used to. But there is going to be a lifelong struggle against my own idol-creating heart. 

Ugh. 

This past week I have been reading Exodus 32-33, where the Israelites are creating and worshipping the golden calf. Just forty days earlier, the Israelites had promised "All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do." (Ex 24:3). Yet, here they are mobbing Aaron saying "Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." (Ex 32:1). 

The Israelites forgot that it was God who brought them out of Egypt. God could have done without Moses. He could have used anyone he pleased. He is God in Heaven; He does whatever He pleases. (Psalm 115:3). It wasn't about Moses. It was about God. 

The Israelites could even see God's presence on the mountain. The appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. (Ex 24:17) Evidence of Him was right there in front of their eyes. But, they didn't care. They were restless because Moses was gone and their focus was in the wrong place.

And I am an Israelite. As I studied, I felt myself shrinking with shame. God has carried me in miraculous ways in the last six months. I have seen his presence in the things He has done. And I have said yes, I will follow and do everything you command. 

But 

turn 
my 
eyes. 

And I demand a god I can "see." As if a god small enough to be seen with my eyes would actually be powerful enough to be God and accomplish the things I really need my God to do. In practical ways, I abandon worship of the Creator and begin worshipping the created. It is flat-out idolatry - loyalty to anything or anyone that leads us to disobey God. (Did I get that definition right, Lori Cavell?). I use things and people to feel secure or to be distracted from feeling restless or down. Idolatry of relationships and carbs and coffee and daily habits and sugar and shopping and wasting time - just to name a few. 

“Man's nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (John Calvin). And I am in no way exempt from this. I don't know about you, but I am a rebellious and idol-loving person. Ironically, the person I sin against in my idol-worship is the only person who could pay the penalty for my sin. So, I am thankful that if I confess my sin, He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).

I am thankful that I don't have to shrink down with shame over my idolatrous heart. Oh, my idol worship is flat out wrong. It might look more acceptable and presentable than worshipping a golden calf. I can dress it up and make it look moral, righteous and respectable. But, my idolatry is just as wrong as the golden calf.  It will continue to be a struggle for the rest of my life, which leaves me grateful that I can always have confidence as I approach the true, living God on His throne of grace. Instead of running away and hiding from the God who I have offended, I can turn and run to Him, cast down my idols, and turn back to the living God again and again. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Trust

There is beauty in the broken, even for my children. As I have walked out the last six months, I have known Jesus more and seen beauty for ashes over and over again.

The other night, I snuggled up with Eliza while I read her a story and prayed before bed. We've been talking a lot about worry and how to handle worries. And, this night was no different. We started talking about the divorce and how she is handling all of the change. I got to share with her that this was my biggest worry - being a single mom of the four of them. But that once I was walking through it, even my biggest worry wasn't nearly as terrifying as I had imagined because I am walking through it with Jesus.

We talked about the fact that God promises to work ALL things for good for those who love Him. ALL things. Even divorce and broken families.



And she asked the questions of how and why. And all I could say was that this is trust, sweet girl. You trust His character. The Jesus that we read about in the Bible kept every promise. Starting in  Genesis 3, God promised a savior. Then, eventually, He provided Himself as that Savior. So, everyday you choose to be confident that He is the same God today as He was then. One worthy of your trust. And then you trust that He will keep his promise, even when you can't see how or when.

As I spoke these words to my daughter, I thought, Oh Lord, please come through for me and for them on this. Please show her the way you work all things for good. Please let her faith not waver because of her pain, but let the suffering produce perseverance and hope.


Right along with Eliza, I'm learning what real trust is. It's in trusting Jesus for my children that my faith really gets tested everyday. Trusting Jesus that my kids are going to be okay growing up in divorce. That my kids are going to be okay going to school, instead of being homeschooled. That my kids are going to be okay when I (eventually) go back to work. That my kids are going to be okay in their suffering.

And, really, it's not trusting that they will just be "okay." But, instead, trusting that none of this mess thwarts God's good plans for any of them. That, even in incredibly difficult circumstances, God is going to carry to completion the good work that He started in each of them. It's trusting that my kids are getting God's best for them rather than something that is "second best."

Just when I thought maybe I had this trust thing all figured out, the Lord has been gracious to show me (yet again) that trusting Him is not something I will achieve or a milestone that I will reach. It is relating to Him. It is depending entirely on Him through every single thing this life brings, not just to me but to these little people who are the most precious thing to me. It's handing my children over to the Lord, loosening my grip on them so that they can truly know the beauty that comes from knowing firsthand what Jesus does with their suffering. It's trusting that for my kids, just like for me, knowing Jesus (even when it requires suffering) is far better than any comfort this world can offer.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

No Really, I'm Going to Start Blogging Again

Two months.

Two months ago I said that I was going to start blogging again, and I did. Three times.

Then I didn't, because life has been raw, and messy and a lot of it doesn't make any sense to me. If my life doesn't make sense to me, then I can understand how it makes even less sense to anyone and everyone else. And I have an incredibly difficult time when I am misunderstood. Plus, I have been committed to be real, honest and vulnerable. I wasn't ready to change that, but I also wasn't ready to be vulnerable on here about what I was walking through.

For two years, I had written about having a redeemed marriage. In the midst of dealing with extreme difficulty in my marriage I found Jami Nato's blog. Actually, the Lord found it for me. Jami and I had almost exactly the same story, and after reading her words I felt a strong nudge from Jesus to be similarly honest on my own blog.

Eventually that honestly went from being incredibly scary to being almost comfortable. It was life-changing for me. It changed my friendships, my family and my walk with Jesus. Taking the risk to be vulnerable was one of the most significant decisions I have ever made and I would never go back to masking who I really am and trying to protect my image.

But, all of a sudden I didn't have a redeemed marriage anymore. On May 22, my entire world flipped upside down and I began life as a single mom of four kids. I think I haven't written lately because I haven't really wanted to type that out. Seeing those words in black and white on the screen in front of me means that they are real and that this is my life.

Everyday I wake up and walk it out. It looks nothing like I thought it would. I can get up and get dressed and love my kids and do the things that Jesus has called me today because he goes before me, with me and behind me. He has hemmed me in on every side, and because of that I have been able to live abundantly in the midst of the thing I was most afraid of in this life.

In Exodus, the Israelites were told to take steps. To leave Egypt, to wander toward the Red Sea, to cross the Red Sea, how to get water, and exactly how much (and when to take) manna and quail for food. (See Exodus 12-17). Yet, in Exodus the Lord tells them to "be silent" or to "be still." Reading this, I realized that the only way the Israelites would know whether to move or to be still was to listen to God. They had to relate to Him in order to know what steps to take.

Now the Lord is telling me to write. He's calling me to be silent about the nitty gritty details of what all transpired in my life this past May. But, He is calling me to write about living life as a single mom to four of the most beautiful, sweet, fun, loving kids ever. He is calling me to continue to write about the things He is teaching me and the ways He is leading me by His Word. He is calling me to continue to write about the ways He nourishes me as the true Bread of Life as I walk into unknown territory, just as He nourished the Israelites with manna in the desert.

When I was writing about persevering in marriage and surviving trauma in my marriage, I had a few women who, unbeknownst to them, had gone ahead of me. Often, they had expressed everything I felt in more eloquent words than I could muster. They had given me something to follow.  Now, I am following God's lead more than ever. I know I am his workmanship, created in Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand that I should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10). But trust me when I say that I would not have chosen being a single mom as the "work" that I would walk in! Writing about life now is requiring relating to God and trusting his lead. I'm sure that I am going to mess up. I might offend some of you and you know, I might say too much sometimes. Which means I am going to need grace - something that I have a difficult time with because I would rather be able to do it all on my own.

Okay - I am off to pick up my sweet red-headed oldest baby from school, so I will sign off.  I'm not even going to proofread!!  Love and grace to you all.






Tuesday, September 2, 2014

State Fair 2014 and Go Ducks!

This afternoon, I pulled up a recipe on my blog for an amazing cake that Marshall wanted for dessert before his first day of school. (Yes, my oldest is going to school. Not homeschool. But that's a post for another day). And, yes, I keep my recipes on my blog because I lose them when they are on paper.  I've never claimed organization to be one of my spiritual gifts.

Anyway - I had this recipe up on the blog. I put the cake in the oven, looked over, and all four of my kids are around the computer looking at old blog posts. This is why I blog, people. I love to write. I love the creative outlet, especially since I have no artistic or crafting ability. But, I started my role as a mommy blogger so that my kids would have a record of what we did. I want them to be able to look back in 2030 and see where we went, trips we took, what we did in the day to day, and the horrendous outfits that they wore in 2014. I love their joy looking back at younger versions of themselves and each other, and hearing their perspectives on days gone by.

No explanation for Eliza putting a bow directly on top of her head.
Or for Morrow's extremely dirty shirt (except that he is the 4th child. So goes his life)





To keep the memories rolling, I'd better get a few photos up of our trip to the Oregon State Fair. We hadn't gone since 2010, when I was pregnant with Jameson. So Gram and I piled the kids in the car, in the rain, and headed out to the fairgrounds. It really was so much fun. 



Watching Morrow love the animals was in itself worth the price of admission. Feeding baby cows was almost too much joy for him. And, he gave the pigs a serious talking too, with hand motions and all, even thought his vocabulary consists of about five words.



The best part is that my kids don't know that r-i-d-e-s exist at the fair. Ssssshhhhh - don't tell them! They loved the animal barns, the fair food, pig racing, the petting zoo and even the quilt exhibit. All without having to put them on the rickety rides that get taken apart and put back together every few weeks. 





And . . . we got to end the day watching the Duck game together on the couch. So sweet to have four little ducklings to snuggle up and cheer with. (I know it looks like I have three little ducks, not four. Eliza was painting her nails yellow and green, putting green & yellow hair chalk in her hair and making treats in her EZ-Bake oven). Nothing better!






Monday, August 18, 2014

Deepest Crisis and Highest Praise

So, the writing continues.

In January 2011, I sat in the lecture at Bible Study Fellowship, eight-week-old-Jameson asleep in my lap, just weeks after receiving utterly devastating news. I remember one of my best friends turned around from the pew in front of me as our teaching leader said "from our deepest crisis comes highest praise." My friend knew those words were meant for me. I was in the deepest crisis I had known in my then 32 years. It was dark, disorienting, and lonely. I was at the bottom of a pit so the only place to look was up to the Lord.

About 10 months before that time, I had providentially read a book by Dr. Ligon Duncan titled Does Grace Grow Best in Winter? Dr. Duncan says the following about suffering:

"Since we live during a time in which some of the sufferings of this world have been mitigated for us, we are lulled to sleep sometimes and are surprised by suffering. When pain comes into our experience, our initial reaction is 'Oh, this shouldn't be happening!' But if what I am saying is true (that suffering is, that suffering happens, that suffering is the norm for this fallen world), none of us should ever be surprised by suffering. Instead, when it comes our way, we ought to be saying: 'I've been waiting and preparing for you. I knew you were coming, because this fallen world is full of the likes of you. I've been preparing, by God's grace and by God's Word, to glorify God as I experience you.' We must get it ingrained into our minds that suffering is an essential part of the Christian experience. You will suffer. That's the first thing you need to know. The question remains, will you suffer in a way that honors Christ?" 

When I received the utterly devastating news, I was pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed. The Holy Spirit brought Dr. Duncan's words to mind, and I knew. I knew that this was the suffering I'd been waiting and preparing for.

And the Lord used that suffering to do a work in me that I never even knew needed to be done. Just recently, I came across the words of the prophet Hosea:


And, I can say without a doubt that the Lord tore me so that He could heal me. The Lord struck me down so that he could bind me up.

You see, my identity had become completely wrapped up in the things that Jesus had called me to do as a wife, a mom, a homeschool mom, a servant at church and Bible study, a friend. When this news hit me, I was stripped down to nothing. I was like a house ripped apart by a tornado. The only thing left was my foundation. Praise God that in His Grace, Jesus had laid a foundation of His Word underneath the things I had been building.

Jesus wanted me to know that I am His and that therein lies my identity. That He died for me and redeemed me just because I am His child. Not because I am perfect (Lord knows I'm not!). Not because I have a law degree. Not because I weigh less than xxx-lbs on the scale or finally fit into size-X clothing. Nor because I listen to Matt Chandler and read John Piper. Not because I followed the newest Christian author's wisdom on being an amazing wife. Or drove an SUV full of carseats and little people. Or implemented Shepherding a Child's Heart to perfection. Or was a leader at an amazing Bible study. Or brought dinner to a family from church. Or watched my friend's children when she needed help.

At Hope Spoken in February, my friend Jami Nato described her experience in a way that I tracked with 100%. Before her own suffering, she thought that following a formula meant God would give you a perfect life. Kind of like: Jesus, I follow your "rules" and then you give me the American Dream wrapped up with a bow and dropped off on my front porch.

Amen.
Thank you.
See you in eternity, Jesus.

But Jesus said, "not so fast." He stripped away everything but Himself. And he began rebuilding my identity in Him.

God did not want to let me rest satisfied in the American Dream because He didn't want me satisfied in anything less than Himself. Augustine of Hippo captured it well in his Confessions stating, "You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You."
I was torn and I was struck down, but none of it was without a purpose. It was so that God could heal me and bind me up - so that I could be healed from my desire for (what I thought) was the perfect earthly life and instead find my rest in Him. So that I could start letting go of my formula for perfection and instead find my identity in Him and Him alone.

As I have walked through this next chapter of suffering, Jesus has used every bit of what He taught me in that last season of crisis. None of it has gone to waste.  Jesus knew that I would need my identity to be entirely in Him because other pieces of my identity were disappearing. Through the previous season, He taught me to be vulnerable and live pressing into biblical community - two things that have made this present season bearable, and even fruitful, yielding an abundance of depth in my relationship with Jesus, in friendships and family relationships.

Closest to my heart is that in 2010-2011, God proved Himself faithful to keep every last one of His promises to me. He gave me a blessed assurance that He is who He says He is. This assurance has given me confidence when I tell my children that God won't let them down; that He is their ever-present, all-knowing father in Heaven; and that He will keep all of His promises to them. They have to be able to sense that this isn't wishful thinking but instead a rock solid confidence based on experience. It is a work that God did in me when He healed me after I was torn and struck down. I never would have chosen to walk through suffering. I never would have hand-picked the trials I've faced. Yet God is taking the deepest, darkest trenches and is working them for my good, the good of my children, and for His Glory. From deepest crisis, highest praise is rising.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunriver, Birthdays, and I'm Blogging Again

And so it begins . . . a new chapter in the life of the Comptons. Many of you know the heartache and craziness that were brought about in the past few months.  Many of you don't. Someday I will be ready to write more, but for now suffice it to say that Jesus is faithful and by God's grace we live and breathe and have our being. As we have walked through the storm I feared most in this world, the Lord has done immeasurably more than I ever could have asked or imagined. He has continued to make me fearless, and as long as I keep my eyes on Jesus and off of the waves I'm okay. More than okay.

In all of this, my oldest baby mentioned that I haven't blogged since the start of this mess. I asked him why it mattered to him, and he said he missed having a record of everything we've done. That he wanted our life in writing and pictures that he could read about later. He suggested that I start with these past few days of vacation at Sunriver. So, here we go!!



Thursday morning I packed up my four babes and headed over the mountain to Sunriver to meet my in-laws. The house there has become a place of comfort and joy to me as much as to my kids. We spent four days playing to a state of exhaustion and filth!

Secretly, my fave part of Sunriver is that Morrow will only nap with me!


These two are becoming best buddies!


Riding bikes,






Cutest bike rider ever! He rode to the Village and back!!

swimming, water slides,  time with my big kids who are growing up WAY too fast,




football, brotherly bonding,


ice cream, riding the chair lift at Bachelor for the first time ever,




snow, ladder ball

Clash of Clans & Minecraft,



tubing, bounce houses,



bumper cars, mini golf, donuts,



hot tubbing and train rides!



Oh . . . and we might have celebrated my birthday. Bless my sweet friend Sara for thinking it was my 32nd - I wish! Thankful for Randy and Robyn who gave me an awesome birthday weekend. Including getting to go running TWICE and an hour of laying out in the sun with headphones in!!


All I wanted for my birthday was a picture with my four kids. I can't say we got a good one, but they definitely depict real life.



So glad to be writing again . . .

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Repost: What's in a Name: Morrow Isaiah Edition

Oh goodness, I haven't written in weeks. But today I woke up and read Charles Spurgeon's devotion for May 13 in Morning by Morning, and thought I needed to at least re-post the blog about Morrow's name. The May 13th devotion is where his name finds its roots, and it speaks to walking through trials and suffering. It seems we know so many who are walking through different types of trials recently. Praying that this may bring you comfort in your trials, just as the Lord used it to comfort us.

Joy truly does come on the morrow. Hard to believe that this little guy, who was once a figment of our imaginations, is now a crazy one year old running around entertaining all of us and terrorizing our house and his siblings.







In honor of Morrow's "Spurgeon Day" here you go:



Four weeks ago, our hearts were bursting with joy as we welcomed baby Morrow Isaiah into the world and into our family. Joy. Pure joy. When we were walking through some of our darkest days, I clung to God's promises with every ounce of my soul. One of those promises is found in Psalm 30:5 that "weeping may tarry for a night, but joy comes in the morning." In the midst of many tears, I was trusting Jesus that joy was truly going to come.

Another way of saying "morning" is "morrow," as found in one of our all time favorite devotionals, Charles Spurgeon's classic "Morning and Evening." The morning devotional for May 13 is based on Psalm 30:5 and beautifully explains our heart in choosing Morrow's name:

Christian! If thou art in a night of trial, think of the morrow; cheer up thy heart with the thought of the coming of thy Lord. Be patient, for

"Lo! He comes with clouds descending." 

Be patient! The Husbandman waits until He reaps His harvest. Be patient; for you know who has said, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be." If you are never so wretched now, remember

"A few more rolling suns, at most,
Will land thee on fair Canaan's coast."


Thy head may be crowned with thorny troubles now, but it shall wear a starry crown ere long; thy hand may be filled with cares-it shall sweep the strings of the harp of heaven soon. Thy garments may be soiled with dust now; they shall be white by-and-by. Wait a little longer. Ah! how despicable our troubles and trials will seem when we look back upon them! Looking at them here in the prospect, they seem immense; but when we get to heaven we shall then

"With transporting joys recount,
The labours of our feet."


Our trials will then seem light and momentary afflictions. Let us go on boldly; if the night be never so dark, the morning cometh, which is more than they can say who are shut up in the darkness of hell. Do you know what it is thus to live on the future-to live on expectation-to antedate heaven? Happy believer, to have so sure, so comforting a hope. It may be all dark now, but it will soon be light; it may be all trial now, but it will soon be all happiness. What matters it though "weeping may endure for a night," when "joy cometh in the morning?"

During my "night," I was in the midst of the Bible Study Fellowship study of Isaiah. Isaiah's beautiful prophecy, full of God's promises to His people, carried me through dark hours and breathed new life into my downcast soul. Further, Isaiah means "God saves," and God Himself saved us from the night. We could think of no better middle name for Morrow than the name of God's faithful servant, Isaiah. Welcome Baby Morrow. Sweet baby, you are a tangible expression to us of Jesus's salvation, redemption and joy.




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hope Spoken

I don't even know where to begin after this past weekend. I want to write, but I'm still trying to process all that I heard at Hope Spoken. As people are asking me about my time in Texas, I'm kind of speechless (which is seriously rare for me, and notice I only said kind of speechless). With a brain spinning in a ton of different directions, I just don't now where to begin but I've got to start somewhere.

There were three reasons that I wanted to go to Hope Spoken: Lauren Chandler, Jami Nato and Shauna Niequist. Other than that, I really had no expectations. So, these other moments were like surprise parties thrown into my weekend:

Staying up until 2:00am with one of my best friends laughing and laughing and laughing over nonsense. It was so.much.fun.

Eggs at Denny's, served by a waiter named Antonio (table check, everyone), where we experienced a moment of the beauty of brokenness - knowing that only in recognizing the pain can we ever be free from its grip.

Watching a totally random fashion show rehearsal, in the mall-type-building where we found a Starbucks, with the fanciest Wranglers we have ever seen and this strangely over-dressed man giving nonsensical instructions to a group of of would-be models. Made more bizarre by the amount of Botox in the faces of women. Wow.

Cake pops, late-night donuts, peanut butter M&Ms, a table full of candy jars that seemed to be continually refilled with Twix and those little treasure chest shaped Hershey's, and lots and lots of coffee.

The most amazing thunderstorm I have ever seen. Ever.

Amazing swag bags.

Worship which has led to a new obsession with the Hillsong version of Lord of Lords. So good.

A small group that was divinely orchestrated, life-giving and refreshing. We had the best small group leader. Like, the best. Seriously, Shannan Martin was a huge, huge blessing. It was a total gift to be placed in her group.  Just to prove it, here is a quote from Shannan's blog today that sums up so much of the weekend:

"He (Jesus) rights our wrongs as the circle closes in. We're connected by so many things, but pain and failure top the list. They reel us in, wrap us up. We share our hurts and we're healed. We have got to get better at getting real, guys. We have to do better than making everyone else in the room secretly believe they're alone in their mess. We have to get better at being human together. This is what is good. This is how we stop pretending. This is how we really love."

There was so much goodness this weekend. So.Much.Goodness. But, I truly cannot keep my eyes open so I'll have to write more later. I cannot wait to process a bit more in writing.





Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Morrow is One

The inevitable happened. Our fourth baby reached his first birthday. We love you, Morrow Isaiah. 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Desperately Seeking Dinner

Sometimes I blog about Jesus. Sometimes I blog about life. Sometimes I blog to keep track of things I might otherwise lose ... like memories . . . or recipes as the case may be. Awhile back, my mother in law gave me a recipe for chicken parmesan. I love making it because (a) my kids LOVE it and (b) the smell of the chicken baking is total nostalgia for Eric of his childhood.

The recipe is printed on a half sheet of paper that doesn't fit well in any of my recipe boxes. Needless to say, due to my ADD tendencies (read: organizationally-impaired), it gets lost in the pantry and I find myself scrambling to dig it out on a regular basis. Tonight, I sat down to blog this recipe so that I will always be able to find it, and alas, I cannot find the recipe. Anywhere. The irony is rich.

So for now I'll leave you with one of my favorite cake recipes that I did already blog a couple of years back after being forced to find it via Google one too many times. It's one of our faves that I'm making for the IF:Gathering girls on Friday night. Maybe it will entice you to come watch. Our past two Friday nights have been fabulous. I'm so thankful for a family room full of women hearing about Jesus and considering "IF He is real, THEN what?." If you haven't joined us yet, but are curious, consider yourself invited and come watch this Friday night at 7:30. Even if you don't know anyone else, you know me right? Email me for my address and come partake in some seriously amazing chocolate cake!


Chocolate Kahlua Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Cake:
1 package Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup Kahlua
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make sure the oven rack is in the center position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Cake:  Combine cake mix, eggs, sour cream, Kahlua, and oil.  Beat with an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes.  Do not over mix.  Only mix until ingredients are blended.  Stir in chocolate chips with a spatula.  Pour batter into bundt pan.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool.  

Ganache:  When ready to serve cake, in a saucepan bring whipping cream to a boil  Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips.  Pour immediately over cake and serve.  


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Undrinkable Water


For a change of pace around here,  let’s talk about water . . . plain old water. Living in the Willamette Valley, we are blessed with, literally, some of the best drinking water in the entire world. Seriously. We go on vacation and I can hardly choke down their H2O. And, if I’m gone from Oregon for too long, I start craving Salem-water. No joke. Yes, I am spoiled. A longtime friend went to college out of state and would ask her mom to bring her Salem-water in gallon jugs when she came to visit.  There’s just something about it that is so good.

2000 years ago in Israel, not so much. The staple drink was almost always water mixed with wine -- even for children. Water was always brought from a well and carried back home in a vessel of some sort. Water’s origin, mixed with the hot climate, made it unsafe to drink because of bacteria growing in it.

In the second chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus is at a wedding and the wine runs out. (Now, don’t tune out here just because you’ve heard this story a million times. I had too! But I noticed something totally new reading it this time around.)

Mary asked Jesus to do something about this wine crisis. Jesus asked the servants to fill six 20-30 gallon stone jars with water. Not only that, but these stone jars were jars used for the rites of purification. Not something that the people would generally drink out of. [And notice that there were six jars - one short of seven, the number of perfection.]

You know what? The servants did it. They obeyed Jesus. It was crazy, but I’m sure they were desperate for a solution. They were likely not looking forward to approaching their master with the news that the wine was gone, the bottles were empty, the party was about to come to a screeching halt.

In his divine nature, Jesus performed a miracle. He took that bacteria-growing water, in six stone jars normally used for ceremonial cleaning, and he made wine. Not just any wine, either. Wine of the best quality. Somewhere between 500 and 700 liters. Y’all, that equals somewhere between 600 and 900 bottles of top quality wine.

Jesus allowed these servants to experience his deity, his power, a miracle with their own eyes. All they did was fill jars with water. They did what Jesus asked them to do. They knew this wasn’t a magic trick because they had just done the hard work of lugging that water with their own hands.

Do you see what else Jesus did? Jesus let the servants in on the miracle. He gave them a part to play. Jesus let them bring the water. Jesus is God, the one who created the earth and everything in it out of nothing. He had the power to create this wine out of nothing, too. He didn’t need the servants to do anything.

Yet in His Grace, He let them. In His grace, he let them sweat and toil and work.  Maybe as they filled those jars, the servants were wondering what good all of their work was doing. How could filling jars with undrinkable water do anything to solve their problem of a lack of wine.

Sometimes, I feel like the servants. I feel like I’m filling jars with undrinkable water when what I really need is wine.

Jesus has called me to be a wife, a mom, a home manager, to educate my children, to share the Gospel, to love those around me, to make dinner for families with new babies, to offer my life as a living sacrifice to Him.

But, the day to day can seem so mundane. And all of the time, I feel my depravity. I feel how short I fall from the glory of God. I know my sin. I know that sometimes I yell or snap at my children. I know I can be lazy and selfish. My own cup runs dry and I feel like I’m just going through the motions. Honestly, I don't know what I'm doing most of the time and I wonder why life (and children) doesn't come with an owners manual.

I feel like the servants who probably wondered what in the world to do now that the wine was gone. I begin to wonder how in the world the things I do are supposed to become what they need to be. 

But, here is the best news!! The good news of the Gospel! Jesus takes all of that mess and by his grace covers it all. His grace covers all my sin. In short, he takes the undrinkable water and he turns it into wine. So often, I want to make the wine by myself. In my pride, I want my life to be like top quality wine pouring out of me, without Him.

Yet in His grace, Jesus lets me bring just the water. Just the undrinkable, bacteria-growing water
Isaiah 64:6 says this: "All of us have become like one who is unclean and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags . . . "

All. our. righteous. acts. are. like. filthy. rags.

What hope is there if our righteous acts are like filthy rags? I mean, I could understand our evil deeds being like filthy rags. But, our righteous acts? If what Isaiah says is true, then what? 

Then . . . Jesus . . . Jesus who turned the water into wine. Jesus can take our lives - our jacked up, sinful, broken lives -- and turn them into what they are supposed to be. Oh what joy!!

One last thought before I end. Instead of taking credit for the wine Himself, Jesus says to the servants "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." (John 2:8). Jesus lets the servants present the wine to their master that He just made, amazingly good wine. Can you envision how things had just changed for them in a split second? They had gone from delivering bad news to delivering amazing wine. 

Just like the servants had the privilege of taking that wine to the master of the wedding, we get to go before the Lord with our lives redeemed. Jesus came and died on a cross, that we would not have to go before Him with our lack, with our brokenness, with our emptiness, lives ravaged by the Fall. Because of the miracle that a sovereign, holy, all-powerful God would give up Heaven to come to Earth and die for sinners while they were his enemies, believers approach the throne of grace with confidence knowing He sees the best life of all - Jesus.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IF:Gathering Part II

Yay! Ladies interested in watching IF:Gathering, you made it to the blogpost! 

When I posted the invite on Facebook to watch IF:Gathering in my home, I seriously imagined about five of you showing an interest. Well, about forty responses later, I'm wondering if you are all going to fit in my living room. Women may be packed in like sardines, but whether five or 50 of you actually show up it will be awesome. 

Here's where we're at. You probably know that I'm a mom of four little people, one of whom is still a nursing baby who doesn't take a bottle. Read: I have to be home at bedtime for the baby. 

So . . . I'm going to go ahead and play IF:Gathering in my living room. We may be comfortable on the couches. Or, we might end up taking the couches out and having an overflow into my kitchen and dining room. I don't know what it's going to look like. Fair warning: You could be sitting on the floor. (Pregnant friends and women with newborns get first dibs on the couch). You might accidentally sit or step on a Lego. I can pretty much guarantee that I won't have enough time to clean up the whole mess that Morrow makes eating dinner that evening. 

My plan is to hit play on the first speaker at 7:30pm, next Friday, February 21. I know it is a little late, but it gives us time to get through dinner and, for those of us with kids, help get them to bed.  We might run late, but you can come and go whenever you need to, and the next day is Saturday after all. 

It will probably take four Fridays to get through the whole conference. You can come for as few or as many evenings as you can make it to. 

All that being said - it would be awesome if you could comment on this post, message me on Facebook, or send me an email (my email is on the sidebar of the blog) or text me - to let me know if you think you'll be there. (I can also get you my address if you need it). Please feel free to invite a friend. I would love to have a general idea of how many women to expect - but if you end up being able to come at the last minute then by all means, COME! (Yes, I know we might be a little squished, but this conference is SO good). Finally, if you have any other questions about it, please ask. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

IF:Gathering

Mom. Fail.

We just had the Snowpocalypse of the century and I did not take even one picture of my kids playing in the glorious white powder.

While my three oldest "babies" (they hate when I call them that - declaring "MOOOOMMM we are NOT babies anymore!") were out playing in the snow, I was able to watch the livestream of IF:Gathering, which took place in Austin, Texas this weekend. (NOTE: The livestream is available for FREE until 10:00pm tonight at this link.) Wishing about now that I had some cute snow pics to pepper my writing. But, alas, I don't. I hope you'll read anyway, even without their cute smiling faces to urge you along.

You can check out what IF is all about at this link. The basic idea is "IF God is real, then what?

One of my dearest friends planned an IF:Local here in Salem to watch the Austin conference. I wanted to be there. Author and Jesus-lover, Jennie Allen, was the main catalyst of this conference. Jennie's book, Anything, was one of those books that felt in many ways like reading my own heart poured out onto paper. But, our season of life - with a nursing baby and big kids with lots of activities - was like a roadblock preventing me from attending the conference.

Enter Arctic Chill 2014. Proof that when God wants you to experience something, He makes it happen. The snow meant all of my kids activities and bday parties and even church were cancelled. The snow meant we were house-bound with no where to go. The snow meant that the IF:Gathering livestream was available in my own house, where I didn't need to leave my nursing baby who has an unpredictable schedule. The snow meant that my three older kids were occupied for hours and hours and hours out playing in the backyard. The snow meant I had glorious TIME to watch IF!

Praise Jesus! IF:Gathering was a crazy blessing to me. If you've been reading my blog at all over the past couple of years you've heard, with as much honesty as I can muster, some of the things that Jesus is working in my heart. I was brought to tears listening to other women at IF as I realized that the Holy Spirit is at work all over the country, all over the world, working similar things into the hearts of women everywhere. Every woman has their own story, their own circumstances. But, through those unique stories, the Lord is weaving common truths about who He is and who we are in Him.

As time and life allow, I'm hoping to write about some of what I heard and am thinking about over the next few weeks. I've got a ton of thoughts in my head and I need to work them out on here.

Here's one little snippet to start off. Shelley Giglio shared on Psalm 84 and I learned so much!

Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!

Okay - so the swallow is a super common bird. (Also super annoying - we have had them build nests in our dryer tubes twice, grrr). They are on every continent. They are everywhere. Just like people. Lots and lots of them all over the world. The swallow built her nest (for her young) at the Lord's altar! 

Do you hear that?? The swallow, a common non-extraordinary creature, built her nest at the Lord's altar! Right next to God! The audacity of it!  And the beauty! It means that we too are invited to be with God and building at the same time

So often, I think of life in such a compartmentalized way. Spend time with the Lord. Then go to all the other stuff I think He expects me to do. Spend time with the Lord. Then go work for Him. Spend time with the Lord. Then go take care of my babies. 

But NO! God wants us to do our building in His presence. At His altar! Us! Common people! As a mom of little people, it was especially significant to me that the swallow was building a nest for her young in His presence. I'm not 100% sure how this is going to play out, but I know the Lord wants me building for His Kingdom in His presence! With him! And He says that those who dwell in the Lord's house are blessed. 

So there is just a little glimpse of what I took from just one session of IF. My brain is spinning and my heart is full from listening to these women who love Jesus. More to come . . . 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fave Family Photos

One of the joys of writing my blog is that it has given me a place to think "out loud." Whether anyone reads it, well, that is up to the Lord. But, I have come to love the computer screen and the click of the keys as I pour out the thoughts that swirl around in my head. 

I also love the blog for keeping track of our life. I love it as a place to keep some of our memories. When i started blogging again two years ago, I went back and looked at my original blog posts. I was amazed at the memories that were there . . . memories that I had completely forgotten about and I was so thankful that I had captured some of them in writing. Even if it is sporadic at times, I want to keep up on preserving our memories. 

That being said, I'm a little late on this, but we had family photos done in October. Over the summer, our favorite photographer moved to Colorado, and I was more than a little heartbroken. As I set off in search of a new photographer, I found the fabulous Erich McVey. Erich and his wife, Amy, make the perfect team to capture our family and we are so thankful that we found them!