Category Archives: Faith and Struggle

Aren’t You Tired?

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Currently, my eyes are heavy. Like, squinty-heavy. Wishing, hoping for a nap but I honestly don’t think that’s in the cards for me today.

My cup of coffee is sitting here next to me, almost begrudgingly because, dangit! I wasn’t going to have coffee today. I was going to be awake. Strong. Show that coffee pot who’s boss…

I had to smile that recently I’ve gladly poured my International Delight into my morning cup. That vanilla creamer so sickeningly sweet, void of dairy. Yes. No milk to be found. Surely, this creamer is eating my insides and is not exactly the “natural” avenue I intended to go. Never-the-less, it makes my coffee sweet. Enjoyable. And, really? It’s cheaper.

With whiny children in the background and my coffee brewing in the chill of the morning air, I thought about you.

The mom doing the same thing I am today. Trying to get on top of the laundry pile, love and train your kids. Hopefully without killing anyone in the process.

The dad that never gets a mention because his wife is working, or maybe even left him, and he’s got the same chores and concerns that are on my heart today as well.

The college-age kid stressed to the max about upcoming tests and quizzes. Wondering if they’ll make it through to the end of the year.

The middle-aged woman uttering desperate prayers that her parents might make it through just a couple more nights. That the cancer wouldn’t take them so quickly.

So, I thought about you all, pouring my coffee. About your lives, how they look different from mine; how they look nearly identical.

Different faces, same emotions. In various cities, the same concerns.

Weariness.

Tired of it.

Just. Plain. Tired.

And I’m not even in the thick of a hardship right now. But just tired. And contemplative.

Dear sister, dear brother. I get you. I SO get you.

I see that fake smile you plaster on.

I see those puffy eyes, trying to mask your tears.

{sigh}

Oh, how I know. How I’ve been there. How I’ve tried desperately hide it all.

Maybe if I wear this super-cute outfit, curl my hair and respond “Great!” to everyone who asks how I’m doing, they’ll think I have it all together. Maybe they’ll think more highly of me. Think I’m better, more put-together than I actually am.

“…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7b

He knows you. In fact, He created you. God knows the hairs on your head (Matt. 10:30) – He wove you together like a masterpiece tapestry in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13).

Concealer {ah, yes, thank you Jesus for concealer!} can do a great job of covering up those dark circles under your eyes, but God knows why they are there!

But more than Him just knowing, He cares.

“Give all your worries to Him, because He cares for you” – 1 Peter 5:7

And even more than caring, God is an active God. Longing for you to come to Him with your mess. Your hot. blubbering. mess.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28

I like the way The Message translation breaks it down as well:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:28-30)

I see that puzzled face. Those questioning eyes.

How do we go about the work of coming to Jesus?

It’s rather simple. And so simple in fact, people and churches and religious folk have been getting it twisted for years.

It’s just an acknowledging. Acknowledging Jesus in whatever awkward, weird way you know how.

“Hey God…we haven’t talked in awhile. I just want You to know that I think You’re here. I hope You’re there. I want You to be here, to help me. I can’t do this alone.”

It’s a “Jesus, I’m so broken. Come to my rescue!”

Unlike what the Pharisees believed in Jesus’ day, God isn’t looking for one with eloquent speech. Someone who looks like they’ve got it all together. Attends the most Bible studies or understands the finer points of systematic theology.

Just the opposite.

God loves the broken, messy, crazy, chaotic people. {Raises hand. Yes. That’s me.}

Oh, how I’m so grateful He does!

So when Jesus talks about giving us rest in Matthew 11, He’s not just talking about an extra nap, however dreamy that may sound.

Jesus is speaking of a spiritual rest. A soul rest.

A rest that refreshes you, renews you and totally washes over you like nothing you’ve ever known before.

Even in the midst of teething babies. A marriage on the rocks. Cancer-ridden parents.

Yes, He can handle all this and even more. In fact, He handled it all, every burden, every worry, on the cross at Calvary when He poured out this love and His blood for you some 2,000 years ago.

He died so that you don’t have to carry it around. He died so that you could be set free. He longs for you to lay that worry at His feet.

Because, He never intended for you to carry it in the first place.

He loves you so much that He wants to be your place of rest.

Aren’t you tired?

Tired of doing it alone? Tired of anxiety? Tired of the weight?

Won’t you tell a friend that loves Jesus what you’re going through? Won’t you ask them to pray for you?

He’s calling.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” – Matthew 11:28

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

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Lessons From the Midnight Hour

Just as I was falling into a deep sleep last night around 11:30pm, I heard the sound that gives me a pit in my stomach and fills me with anxiety and dread.

The shrill baby scream/cry that pierces through every door and wall of the house.

What’s going on? Is he okay? What time is it? {sigh}. 11:30? Really? Maybe he’ll just fall back asleep…oh, God, please! Let him fall back asleep.

My nearly-11-month-old, Aiden, fell back asleep but only to awake again an hour later. Jason, my husband, tried comforting him. Just more screaming.

12:45 am. “Honey, can you set up the pack ‘n play downstairs? I don’t want him to keep waking Landon up…”

Landon {4 years} and Aiden share a small room. All mom’s know the last thing anyone needs is additional family members entirely sleep deprived.

1:45 am. More protests through screams could then be heard from the pack ‘n play now set up in the kitchen.

For real? Maybe Jason will just deal with it. Maybe if I lay here long enough he’ll get up and take care of Aiden….Oh my gosh. Am I really that awful of a mother? Your poor son is screaming, needs you RIGHT NOW and you’re hoping someone else will take care of it?!

I threw on my robe, searched for my glasses the in dark and scooped up my baby boy. Doing the mommy-bounce and “ssshhh-ing”, I changed his diaper. Not the solution I was hoping for. Not what he needed.

I felt around in his little mouth.

Oh. That’s two huge craters. Both eye teeth popping in. Those are the worst. {sigh}. Poor baby boy, you just needed your Momma. You’re in so much pain.

In a moment, my entire outlook changed. I now felt desperate for him. Empathized with him. I know what horrible pain feel like. It totally sucks.

I administered some baby meds, gave him some teething tablets. Never mind I’m typically incredibly cautious about giving meds to my kids. My baby was in PAIN. I was gonna give him whatever I could to make it stop.

My Aiden boy

My Aiden boy

2:30 am. More laying down, more screaming.

Okay, he’s been up for three hours. This is my last-ditch effort. I’m nursing him.

As my sweet baby boy got his fill of milk, the glimmer of the moon shone on his baby-fine sandy blonde hair. My heart melted.

Jesus, thank You for my baby boy. Thank You that I get the joy and privilege of being his Mama. Thank You that he’s such a sweet boy. I pray that You would help his pain to subside. Be his comfort and his peace. May You surround him with Your love and may he experience Your presence right now, in Jesus’ Name.

Isn’t that where the perspective shift occurs? At the crossroads of helplessness and gratitude?

So often others issues are just that…others issues. Someone else’s problem.

What if we dared to enter in to the messiness of their problem?

What if made it ours, even a little bit?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

What if you took a cue from my middle-of-the-night escapades and didn’t start with whining, complaining, grumbling?

What if we began with gratitude?

In the middle of the night? Yes.

When I’m so tired I can’t see straight? Yes.

When the house’s entire attitude tomorrow hinges on tonight’s rest? Yes.

When just flat-out don’t want to? Yes.

Here’s what I know. The Savior position is taken.

Like, for real. Jesus isn’t looking for a replacement. Pretty sure He’s got that one covered.

He tells me:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

God didn’t create me to carry others burdens on my own. Rather, He tells me in Matthew that I not only can, but am to give my burdens to Him. He can handle it. In fact, He handled it all on the cross.

I wonder what would happen if I entered in with people, starting with my own family more fully.

Their issues, their burdens.

I wonder what would happen if I carried their burdens, and then turned around and gave it back to the One who can and already has handled it.

May we enter in and start with gratitude a little more today.

Through Unspeakable Joy,

Laura

 

Everyone’s Invited

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You know what I don’t like? Exclusion.

People being left out, being made to think they’re not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not (fill in the blank) enough. Not worthy.

You know who else doesn’t like that? God.

But, for real. See, we Christians tend to get our panties up in a bunch, thinking we’ve got it all together. We tend to view the world as “us” and “them”. We roll eyes, look down upon and degrade.

We believe the lie that we’re somehow better than those who don’t know Jesus…as if we deserve the very breath and life He’s so graciously given. As if we’ve done something to earn His salvation. His favor.

And this is just what Jesus hates. This exclusionary, pompous attitude. This entitled worldview that is utterly toxic and entirely unbiblical.

“…He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” – 2 Peter 3:9b

Did you catch that? Everyone.

Wait, so like, the people that are basically good and maybe mess up occasionally?

Um, nope. Last I checked those people don’t exist (Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God).

God wants everyone.

The working mom.

The stay-at-home mom.

The homeschool kid.

The public school kid.

The right-to-life chick.

The gay pride guy.

The broken teen.

The unfaithful husband.

The bitter sister.

The awkward uncle.

God wants us all. Everyone single last one of us.

Doesn’t matter where we come from or where we are. He desires us, longs to be in relationship with us in. our. current. state.

But wait. What? ‘I’m a little messed up. If you only knew my past, if you only knew what I just watched, the things I just said…God doesn’t want me.’

Oh, but yes, yes He does. See, salvation (this acceptance of a free gift) is for everyone. God Himself says so.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 3:23

For reals, guys. God says everyone who believes that Jesus is who He says He is (fully God, fully man, the second person of the holy trinity, the One who died and rose again for our greatest problem – sin – the one who has the victory) is saved.

In other words, do you believe Jesus is IT? Like, know that you know that you desperately need Him? Can’t do it without Him?

Salvation.

See, sometimes in the Church we get all nose-up-in-the-air thinking that we somehow have our stuff together.

Like our sin don’t stink. Like our flaws aren’t a complete disaster.

God desires us all. His Word is clear.

Maybe you’ve been on the camp for too long that looks down on those who don’t know, are struggling, hurting, wrestling with unbelief. Maybe you grew up in a tradition that said “Don’t associate with those people.”

The drunkards. The self-injurers. The divorcees. The homosexuals.

God is FOR those people. God gave His very life for them. May He grant you eyes to see them as He does – beautiful and beloved.

Or maybe you’ve been the one so hurt and abused by the Church, by Christians. Let me, from the bottom of my heart, say a collective “I am sorry”. So deeply sorry. Us Christians are so broken and in need of Savior. And there is no excuse for our pride and pomp. Please forgive us.

Maybe you’ve viewed yourself as less-than. Like, “I just need to stop cursing, stop using, stop (whatever). Then maybe God will love me. Then maybe He’ll accept me.”

The Bible tells us in Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Jesus died for you in your broken mess. In mine.

He doesn’t want you to have your life cleaned up, figured out and then come to Him. That’d be like asking someone to get clean before they take a shower. Doesn’t make sense.

God’s wants you to know that you are beloved. You were created in His image to have a relationship with Him.

May we all move forward through our hypocrisy, through our pride, our hurts, our unbelief. May we all cling to this Jesus who so embraced the world that He stretched out His arms in love and died for us nearly 2,000 years ago paying the ultimate price for. our. souls. that we could know Him.

Know His love.

May we experience a little more of that today. May we rest in that love today.

Through unspeakable joy,

Laura