Family Life, gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, love, military, Thanksgiving

Blisters and Bliss

BListers and Breezes

My husband Gabe just left for a five week training in the beautiful state of Texas. Most training missions require a full packing list of items required for the training. Gabe is super good at ensuring he’s got all he needs. He’s pretty particular and organized when it comes to work. He also likes to be on time or early for certain things pertaining to work so he usually gives himself an extra forty minutes. Gabe asked a friend if he would pick him up early in the morning to take him to the airport. He was going to be at the airport 1.5 hours early. His friend persuaded him to arrive only 30 minutes early since this was such a tiny airport and most likely there would only be about 30 people going through security. He didn’t want Gabe to be miserable sitting there for an extra hour. So Gabe agreed and told himself he probably needed to just relax a little. 

So Gabe gets picked up and starts telling this brother in Christ how he needs to put anxiety away. Just then they hear a strange noise and feel something strange beneath the car. A tire blew out. That’s okay! His friend had a spare and the stuff to fix it. They get out the spare and his friend is having some trouble with the pliers. They’re stuck. Gabe gives it a shot and breaks them in half. At this point, Gabe’s time to make his flight is running out. His friend leaves to grab another tool and soon a cop appears. That’s when I got a call from Gabe. “Hey babe! Can you wake up the kids and get over here as fast as you can?” He was only 5 minutes down the road. The cop stayed with his friend’s car and I took Gabe to the airport. On our way, we watched as we saw his plane in the sky, just having taken off. “Gabe, God doesn’t want you on that flight.” Gabe looked at me and he agreed but he didn’t look very comforted by this. He sure wanted to be on that flight. It took about an hour to get the right people on the phone but finally Gabe had another flight scheduled. He called his friend to find out how things turned out for him. His friend was laughing. “So, I finally got the right tool and the spare tire on and then quickly realized this one was almost out of air. So then I went to start my car and it was dead.” Gabe said, “Okay, yeah. God did not want me on that flight this morning.” We had a good laugh about this. I was serious but smiling and laughing still as I told Gabe “Babe, all I can say is you better share the gospel with whoever sits next to you on that plane!” 

When Gabe called me later that night after having arrived and gotten settled in his hotel I found out he definitely did share the gospel with his seat mate who was Nigerian. I thought about all of the persecution the christian nigerians are facing right now. Being killed for their faith. I prayed this seed would take root in this man and grow.

Life gives you punches, right? Jabs, pinches and blisters. Things just happen. Annoying things. We may get a little beat up by life and sadly often we get deep and painful wounds.

If anyone has lived longer than an hour they already know that life is just not a gentle breeze. 

Yet we just know in the midst of this that God is there. If you find yourself in a plane, experiencing turbulence at first and then find yourself spiraling to the ground, your thought isn’t “everything is going wrong so therefore nobody made this plane.” No, that would be illogical. You would probably be thinking “Something went terribly wrong.” In the same way, we know in our heart of hearts that even though we live in a fallen world, God exists and He made us. 

What if I told you that all of the turbulence is part of His plan? His amazing redemption plan?

God wants us to be one with Him. He loves us. It’s a mercy that an infinite, perfect, spotless and holy God loves us and makes Himself a father to us. Yet we cannot be one with Him or know Him as our father unless we are washed clean. Every one of us is dirty because of sin. Sin is something all of us inherit at birth because our first parents (Adam and Eve) were the first to commit a sin. Nobody teaches a child to lie. It is our instinct. So God’s amazing redemption plan is to bring us home with Him. To make us one with Him once and for all. He sent His son Jesus to live in this sinful world, overcome sin (and death) once and for all in our place. We could never do it. We could never be able to pay the fine that it cost for even one stain, one little white lie, one lustful thought before a holy God who is just. Do you see that? God is holy. One lie is a blemish that prevents us from being one with Him. He cannot partner with sin. He is also a good judge. A good judge does not let the guilty go free, no matter how regretful they are. Yet He is also a compassionate God so He sent His only Son to pay the fine in our place. Jesus took on our flesh and He lived the perfect life (the only one to be able to do this) and He was the last and final sacrificial lamb and He conquered death by rising from the grave. Can you believe that! Jesus stepped away from His glory in Heaven with the Father and took on the humble form of a man who would be tempted, accused and finally beaten and tortured to death. What love!! Jesus said referring to the prostitute who washed his feet with her hair, “whoever is forgiven much loves much.” When we realize there is nothing good in us, when we realize our wretched state, our sin that makes us God’s enemy and repent of this and trust in Jesus, trust that He has taken away our guilt once and for all then we will be one with God and saved from eternal damnation. God made a way! He loves us so mercifully!

And so in Christ life is still not a gentle breeze. Life is actually…WAY harder. And yet…it’s way sweeter. I’ll explain in just a minute.

When we are living as one with Christ and coming under submission to Him, we will be wrongly accused just as He was. We will be attacked by dark spiritual forces just as He was. We will be called to do uncomfortable things for the sake of loving others. 

Evangelism is NOT comfortable. 

Dying to the willing flesh is NOT comfortable.

Giving not only out of abundance but also deprivation is NOT comfortable.

Loving our enemy is NOT comfortable.

Living by the inspired Word of God instead of the world is NOT comfortable.

But these things are just the natural outcome of living as One with Christ. We grow up into these things as we mature in Christ. The more we do, in the most slight of ways in comparison we identify with Christ’ suffering. The more we identify with Christ, the sweeter the fellowship with Him. He becomes our everything. The only thing that really…matters. We’re able to let all of OUR purposes sift through our fingers as sand, like the foundation they are built upon. God’s purposes outlined in His word are our only sure foundation for anything. We long for gentle breezes in our life and yet our time here is so short. We will have gentle breezes for eternity. So what is the purpose for these short years on earth? We must realize that it’s not about us gaining a smooth life here on earth (though we most certainly experience blessings here on earth that are sweet gifts from God). The Bible shows our life hidden in Christ may actually look like what an athlete goes through.

 “Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” Hebrew 12:1. 

“You will be hated by everyone on account of My name, but the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22. (Emphasis, mine).

“Everyone who competes in the games trains with strict discipline. They do it for a crown that is perishable, but we do it for a crown that is imperishable. Therefore I do not run aimlessly. I do not fight like I am beating the air. No, I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26.

I ran cross country in highschool for a short time. Cross Country races are 3.1 miles. It’s not a fast sprint. Some races flew by and others felt 10 miles long and I wondered if the race would ever end. I had to really play mind games during these races to keep myself going. In a race, you are always pushing yourself to go faster. It’s not a gentle jog. To keep up a certain pace, I would find comfort in the uncomfortable. I would focus on my breathing, or focus on my feet hitting the ground seconds apart. A gentle breeze would occasionally come and dry some of the sweat off my forehead. But you know what really made me happy and run with endurance? When my sister Nan would run with me. I love my sister! It was a joy to run along side her. She would not only would encourage me but she literally was acquainted with my current pain and guess what..I knew she would win. She always won. She always always always won! If she was running with me I knew I could make it.

In the same way, as we endure this broken world and live as missionaries here, we have the blissful and amazing comfort of Jesus’ presence! He personally knows our pain and He has won! He gave us victory! So we keep running to the end of our lives, cheering our brothers and sisters on, warning anybody and everybody of the danger at the end of life if they do not have Christ and giving Jesus the glory that we are able to run and run with endurance and inherit the kingdom! Jesus is bliss. Jesus is sweet. Jesus is with us. Far too often than I want, I just mess up. I want to give in to desires that are not Godly. I want my OWN way. Yet the giver of gentle breezes is worth far more than the breeze itself.

gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, morning pages, morning ritual,, mornings, Motherhood, Uncategorized

Morning Pages

I’m not a morning person by nature. I’m a two cups of coffee and maybe I’ll talk to you kinda person in the morning. Some days it is three cups and a shot of espresso but whose counting…

Unless I’m on vacation. Then I can’t wait to wake up. I’m like a kid on Christmas morning. I can’t wait to see what the day holds!

Who doesn’t love waking up to Mickey waffles??

Or when the kiddos wake up before the sun is up but then God puts on this display

Baby Piper

Sunrises over the ocean are worth waking up for

Waffles on the dock at Aylen Lake, Ontario

But everyday mornings, I’d rather hit snooze. Then one day it all changed. As the girls got older, started sleeping better, I started to see I valued my mornings. I learned I love sipping my coffee and watching the sunrise. Reading my devotional and having some alone time before the craziness that is our lives starts.

I read the book, “The Artist Way” last year. The author suggests doing what is called morning pages. You simply write down whatever comes to your mind. Not documenting your life. Not to pass down to your grandkids or to be published. Never to be read again. It’s like brain dumping on paper. The author, Julia Cameron says any thought that causes anxiety that is left in the brain creates chaos and turns off creativity. I have found by simply writing down my thoughts, however dumb to me or petty, it is so relieving. I have come to really enjoy that time. And I leave feeling refreshed. Something that has been bothering me greatly feels less urgent. I can think more clearly about it.

Julia Cameron says, “The morning pages miniaturizes our Censor. The Censor is part of our leftover survival brain. Any original document pretty dangerous to our Censor. Morning pages will allow you to detach from your negative Censor. It may even be going to seem like a grumpy cartoon character. Doing your artist date you are receiving opening yourself to insight, inspiration, guidance.”

Amelia Island Plantation

I have found that taking the time, even if it is five minutes, even on my most stressful crazy days sets the tone for my day. I usually read my devotional, do my morning pages and end in prayer. Just taking that time every morning has been so helpful in maintaining a better stress level and having a clear mind.

You can use any notebook for morning pages. It takes a little bit of time to get used to just writing what comes to your head and not journaling. But once you do, it really is amazing how therapeutic it is. If you are worried about people reading what you write and it is inhibiting how freely you share, take the paper you wrote on and trash it. Ball it up, burn it or tear it to shreds. Remember, the goal isn’t to document but to free your mind. And once that starts to happen, you will start to notice a difference in how you feel about mornings too.

Enjoy the sunrises of life friends! And a good cup of coffee.

-Lauren

gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, Uncategorized

A green velvet couch

All week I had been waiting for the weekend. No work, no school, we got our tax returns back and could finally buy a couch! I had it all planned out. I woke up that morning with a joy and excitement that I hadn’t had all week. I sat down on the our old broken down, “free” couch and began to write, sipping coffee, taking my sweet time, and basking in the slow morning where I would probably make a huge breakfast and enjoy it while listening to a podcast by Yoga Girl, versus my usual rush out the door with a piece of peanut butter toast and throwing together a dinner in the crockpot. Suddenly I get a call from my co-worker. She pulled her back out while working and needed me to cover for her today. I sat on the couch annoyed to the point of tears. It had been a week full of exams, work days full of trudging in the mud because it hadn’t stopped raining all week, and coming home slightly pissed off and dissatisfied. “Why did she have to pick today to pull her back out?” I asked myself reveling in my selfish annoyance. I slapped some toast together, got ready and headed to the farm to work. As I was driving I felt God say to me, “Are you grateful?” Those words hit like a knife sliding down my gut and getting caught in the tough places. I thought about it for a moment and then I begrudgingly texted my coworker saying, “let me work all weekend for you. A pulled muscle takes a long time to heal and I know you need rest.”

I didn’t want to send that text. But I did it. And immediately my heart calmed. It was pouring rain at work and I was knee deep in mud and manure but I felt happy as heck. My heart was light and I thought to myself, “Is this what it feels like to let go of my control and just let things be?”

After work my mom and I were on the hunt for a couch. I had been telling her that it was hard moving to a new place and not having a place where my husband and I could both just sit and be together. It somehow didn’t feel like home yet. It’s hard in general moving somewhere new and I just wanted a little bit of consistency and the idea that this was in fact my home. We went to four different used furniture places. I loved all the high end, expensive couches and Perrin had to keep reminding me that our budget was incredibly low and we couldn’t spend our entire tax return on a couch. I again, dug my heels in and pouted and decided that if I couldn’t get a nice couch that would last a long time, then I wasn’t going to find a couch today. It was pouring rain and I was just frustrated with the entire day and how it hadn’t gone according to my plans. But my mom had one more idea. Lot 25:40. A salvage building that collects donations of furniture and other nicknacks and all the proceeds go to homeless. I walked in and saw a bunch of couches that were in decent shape and had amazing prices, but they all had been sold and were on hold. Mom and I walked around and then I reached an antique little vendor in the building and there was a cute and funky looking Victorian/70’s couch. I loved it. It was not the high end I was looking for, it was not the generic couch I had imagined, but I was in love with it. I looked at the price and it was within our tiny budget. I asked the man if I could put it on hold so my husband could come by and see it. He walked over to the couch flipped the price tag and said, “ma’am you do realize it’s 40% off of the original price, right? You might want to make a decision today.”

As he said those words I noticed writing on the floor directly in front of the couch and it read: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

I felt like someone had slapped me across the face. This life wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my schedule or my agenda or what I thought was right. It was about God. It was about messiness and disorder and maybe things aren’t going to pan out the way we had hoped. Maybe instead of the neutral average couch, I’ll find a green velvet one. Maybe instead of staying home and not working all weekend, I’ll work and I’ll do it with joy. Maybe life is about giving. About others. About living each day as if it’s the weekend. Waking up with an excitement and a joy and an anticipation that this life is really the best ever. We don’t only live once, we live everyday. And I can promise you it feels so much better when you wake up with hands opened from their tight fist, teeth unclenched and eyes wide open. Accepting everything as it comes and everyone exactly as they come. It’s uncomfortable and it’s very unnerving because it means they’re is no more control. But I can honestly tell you…it is beautiful. So this week, live like it’s your day off. Wake up with anticipation for whatever God is going to give you and say thank you. You might find what you were looking for.

Cheers to today!

Blogpost by Nan Ketchum nanbystillwaters.wordpress.com