Deliverance

Deliverance comes in a variety of ways.  It is most always associated with difficulty and usually comes with a price.  Often, it comes unexpectedly and by a seeming act of what may be considered “divine intervention”.

As I read again through the story of the nation of Israel going through the Red Sea in Exodus- all several million of them- I was awed by the significance of their liberation.

After countless generations had endured the cruel bondage under Egypt’s tyrannical ruler, they were finally released. Although God could have sent them on their merry way, down “easy street”, they faced an obstacle of momentous proportions instead: the Egyptian Army on one side, the sprawling Red Sea on the other.

But God had His plan.  Down blew the wind, the millions of tons of water blowing back into what appeared to be massive walls of water.  On both sides stood the piled water with a wide DRY path in between. Yes, it was dry, not sticky mud that would have made it impossible to get all those men, women, children and animals through safely. In hard pursuit of the Israelites was the Egyptian army- Pharaoh, and 600 or so of Egypt’s finest charioteers; capable warriors ready to kill. Hotly and with vengeance in their hearts they came after them, realizing that they just lost their most prized slaves.

With the last Israelite was safely on the shore, they turned to see their dreaded enemy closing in. Just when they thought they had escaped their wicked taskmasters, they were about to be overtaken again. But God, in His perfect wisdom, unleashed the walls of water He had been holding back with the might of His power. Down on the heads of all the Egyptians it went, crashing around and burying them all in a watery grave.

My own personal deliverances have not looked like the split waters of the Red Sea, but they have been many, miraculous and come at moments I was sure that peril would engulf me. Most precious is the deliverance of my soul that came at the price of a life.  This, not only has the greatest value but is also seemingly the most unwarranted. My soul was purchased with the blood of Jesus, while I stood in direct rebellion to Him.

Two other times in life, I’ve been rescued from things that totally gripped me, shackled me and had left me feeling defeated and worthless. No power inside or outside me was great enough to undo these chains. The freedom was wrought slowly, painfully, through hardships, heartbreaks and humility. I had to be broken, and broken I was.

But God had a plan to lift me out of the despair and set me safely on the other shore. If I had attributed the success to self or a program or positive thinking, I would have missed the miracles God did – the times the enemy was defeated though I never even saw it; the times the water was held firmly back and I was safe. If I thought I had rescued myself, I would have sought after the glory that only God deserved.

There are many other problems that can keep us locked prisoner: disease, financial ruin, loss of friends or family, grief over a rebellious child, addictions. After they are each overcome, we can look back and see God’s hand of deliverance. Recognizing WHO freed us, we are emptied of self-reliance, self-aggrandizement, self-love and ultimately, self-worship. It becomes clear that without divine intervention, the Enemy would have certainly overtaken us.

Deliverance looks different in each of our lives. I know beyond a doubt that I have many more circumstances to be set free from before my life comes to an end. It will most likely not come easily and is sure to come with a price.  But in the end, the outcome will be true satisfying freedom; liberation from oppression that I was never meant to bear all on my own.

Call Me Stoopid

I love my job. Really. I do!

After staying at home for 15 years with my own kids, I finally go back to work and what do I do? Work with kids every day. (But, hey, at the end my day, these kids don’t come home with me!)

Although, I get to spend every day with the same 30 plus kids at our small, private school, no day is just like the day before.

Recently, I read the books, “Learn Me Good” and “Learn Me Gooder” by John Pearson. He chronicles his experiences as a third/fourth grade teacher. His humorous stories are comic relief to me and he so obviously loves his job as well. Now that I’ve worked as an elementary substitute and teacher’s aide, I could probably write a similar book.

In a given day, I hear some of the funniest things ever. Like the other day when a kindergarten girl said her mom was going to “toast her” for getting a mark on her new white tights. Or the time that a boy came back to school after being sick. When I inquired how he was feeling, he told me that he had thrown up on his parents’ bed and that it looked like fire coming out of the mouth of a fire-breathing dragon!

Being a substitute has reminded me that the old adage is still true: “When the cat’s away, the mice will play!” It never ceases to amaze me what kids will try to pull over on a sub. Do they think I am stupid? Do they think I don’t know the basic rules of order in a classroom? 🙂

The best part, though, is being reminded that kids everywhere are basically the same.

  • They all need love and attention- and will seek it any way they believe that will happen.
  • They all want to be accepted by their peers- and will act in a variety of ways to find that acceptance.
  • They like praise for a job well done. They don’t like to experience scorn from adults.
  • They will push the limits and boundaries when they think no one is looking.
  • They have a certain “pecking order” that flows from some intuitive response to each others personalities/bents.
  • They like to be challenged, but need to express themselves with individual creativity as well.

The list could be endless, but I must say, working with kids has had a great impact on my OWN child rearing and changed my perspective in some big ways. I have learned more in the classroom and playground than from most parenting books I ever read.

Yes, there are days when I think the planets have aligned improperly or something because the kids push every one of my buttons. They nag and are unkind to the other students. They grumble and gripe about every assignment. They forget every rule.

But I wouldn’t trade these moments for sitting behind a well-polished desk, any day. Building a rapport with these kids and seeing them mature, grow and learn is the best job I could ask for outside of being a mother.

30 Days Without

Recently, I have been careful to listen to myself. Have you ever tried it? Not as easy as it sounds! Even harder is an honest self-critique about the words that come tumbling out. How easy it is to hear what others say. And the easiest “task” of all? To pick apart the words of someone else.

The past two weeks, I have been sadly aware of a problem of epic proportions- not only in myself, but in society as a whole:

~grumbling and complaining~

Here are some of the most common complaints I’ve heard:

  • unsuitable weather
  • uncooperative hair
  • not enough sleep
  • unsupportive husband
  • fussy baby
  • not enough time
  • flaky people
  • rude people
  • too much work
  • too little money
  • complaining wife
  • unappealing food
  • slow service
  • unfairness
  • naughty children
  • And the list goes on….

Two things have spurred me toward this challenge. One, is the season of Lent. Yes, I am a Christian and I’m observing Lent. (If you are curious as to why, check it out here.) The other reason was a challenge I read about here: https://www.reviveourhearts.com/resource-library/30-day-challenges/.

I’ve heard of and read about many 30 or 40 day life changing events and causes. You (and I) can do anything for that amount of time, right?! 🙂

So, dear readers, I am proposing a challenge of my very own for you and I. Ready?

30 days of no complaining

If this sounds like an insurmountable task, pick one area of grumbling and work on eliminating just that. What that means is: for 30 days, we will deliberately, purposefully, determinedly, NOT COMPLAIN. If you mess up, don’t give up! If you feel like you can’t do it, write me (or pray)! We will do this together. Be of good cheer, friends! My hope is that by making mental admission of our complaints, it will result in less grumbles coming out of our mouths in due time.

It is often said that habits can be broken or made in 30 days. Let’s break this epic propensity of voicing negativity. Just maybe, we will influence friends, family members and society to shut up already with the complaining and instead find something to be thankful for or be happy about.

Who’s with me?

 

A Better Brother

Brother/sister relationships are all over the board. Some are endearing and tender. Others are strained at best or even non-existant. Most often a healthy brother/sister relationship will look something like a protector/defender and a nurturer/maternal figure.

I have an older brother and let’s just say {nicely} that he is the black sheep of my family. Our relationship would fall into the “non-existant” category. I will leave it at that.

But I have another brother. He is not of this world. No, I am not talking about an alien. I am talking about Jesus, my spiritual brother.

Hebrews, one of my favorite books of the Bible, is rich with imagery, full of Old Testament imagery fulfilled in the Person and work of Christ. The latter part of Hebrews is chock full of encouraging admonitions for the Christian.

This week as I was reading through Hebrews, I was struck by this awe-inspiring beautiful truth: Jesus is my brother. Here it is in the words of the writer himself:

Hebrews 2:11-18 “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,

“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

  Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

I am so encouraged that my Brother, Jesus, understands my humanity- my weaknesses, my propensities- and most of all my needs. Also, because of His cross work, I no longer fear death or am in bondage to it. My Brother is a good, merciful one. He is my Savior, Protector, Mediator. I am loved perfectly by Him.

Is He your brother too?

My Bloody Day

Blood. It’s one of those unpleasantries in life.

As a mom or dad you probably see more than your fair share. As a woman, you see more than most doctors in your earthly existence.

Some people want to toss their cookies when they see it. Others may pass out cold. To odd balls (like me), it is kind of fascinating. Like you don’t really want to see it but you do at the same time.

Today I had a bloody day. No, I am not getting too personal with you. Geez. Who do you take me for? And no, I am not trying to sound like a Briton or Aussie either. 🙂

I began my day with a not-so-lovely reading from the book of Leviticus (part of my through the bible in a year thing). So NOT what to read before breakfast. Blood, blood, and more blood. Words like: slaughter, sacrifice, scapegoat. Then there are the “to do/don’t dos”: sprinkle it, wipe it, burn it, (don’t) drink it.

The highlight of my day was giving blood. No, really- I LOVE giving. It makes me happy to know that my bag o’ red stuff cold save someone’s life. It did mine, once, after a surgery required two units for me to survive the night. I marvel watching the pencil lead sized needle go into my arm and take just a tiny piece of me. Call me crazy.

As I sat there, I thought about blood, what I had read that morning in all its grotesqueness. The Israelites were instructed not to drink the blood of any animal ever because it is the life of the creature. Without it, we cannot live. People all over the world die for lack of what we are so blessed to have readily available here in the U.S.

I thought about the blood of Jesus that makes us clean. The sticky, thick, smelly substance coming from me into that plastic bag, might give someone else life. God gave us life through the murder of His Son. His red human blood came out of his side and ran down His forehead from where they beat the thorns down into his skin.It came out the piercings of both His hands and feet after they drove spikes through. He died, so I could live: the perfect sacrificial, life giver.

So, keeping true to the theme of my day, I ended it with… you guessed it-  more BLOOD.

My youngest lost a molar tonight and the blood flowed freely into the bathroom sink.  Poor boy is “a lot” a bit squeamish (like his dad). I rubbed his back and told him to breathe (like a good mom).

I end today thankful for my bloody day, reminded that without it, I’d be LOST; not just physically, but spiritually as well.

Listen to the Quiet

Recently, I went on a hike near our home. It was a gorgeous day trip with my sister celebrating our birthdays and another year of life together.

As we climbed our way up the mountain, there was plenty of chatting and laughing.  There were the comments about the lovely Manzanita bushes and pine trees cohabitating beautifully. There was the conversation about aging (yikes!), raising teenaged kids and living peaceably with our husbands. With only a handful of other humans nearby, it felt almost as if the mountain was ours for the taking.

 Since we are getting old –ahem- we had to stop now and then to rest. We made these stops meaningful by looking at the scenery and marveling.  At one of these moments, I exclaimed (in a bossy little sister kind of way), “Stop talking!” And we did. We just stood in the middle of the trail. Silent. That’s when I heard something I hadn’t in a long time- a quiet that transcends even the quietest moment at home or work.

With three children, a husband, a cat, a dog and my job at an elementary school, quiet is a rarity for me, especially THIS kind of quiet. It resounded in my ears in a rather oxymoronish kind of way. It enveloped me, mind and body.

What we do not realize is how downright noisy our lives are. Even in the most silent moments, there is the ever-present din of white noise- the buzz of the refrigerator, the soft hum of electronics, the ticking clock. Then there are the “people and pet” sounds. We are a noisy bunch! Video game sounds (think machine guns and zombies), music (think teenaged kids blasting stuff I am not a fan of), talking, talking, talking, the dog barking, the cat meowing, the exhaust fans, the heating/ac unit cycling on and off, etc. My ears are filled to the brim sometimes.

I crave quiet. We as humans, especially those answering to the call of “mom”, need to get quiet. Just like a plant needs both water and sunlight to survive, we were created to thrive in the noise of other people and things. If not for those, we become weird hermit -like creatures.  Yet, we must also have the renewal of a quiet that feeds the soul and nourishes the mind- the kind that envelopes us in a haven of rest, like the silence of that rocky hiking trail.