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


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!