Posts Categorized: family

When Digging a Trench, Assemble Your Team

Ecclesiastes 4:7Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.

9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Shoveling snow would not have surprised me on December 23rd. Digging a trench to save our basement from flooding, however, was not on my Christmas list. We were in the path of the storm today thanks to El Nino. While we didn’t get the gloom and doom that weathercasters had been threatening us with all day, we did get heavy rains.

We had planned to go see the Peanuts movie tonight, but Daniel wasn’t feeling up to going so we set up shop in the basement. As the rain came down harder I began to be concerned about our window, a weak point in our backyard swamp. When we looked out the water was about three inches up the window.

We went into problem solving mode. Shovels, siphon, buckets, and building a damn. Think we have done this before? The kids begged for a job so we let them pick up the clods of dirt and carry it over to the weak point. Within a half an hour the window well was cleared, our trench pulled water away from the window, and four very wet and muddy humans trudged inside to get cleaned up.

It was amazing! I love my family and it is wonderful what we accomplish when we work together. Do you have your ditch digging team assembled? God did not create us to go it alone. Reach out to those around you. If you don’t have friends or family, begin the steps to develop friendships. You will make mistakes, pick yourself up and try again. My life changed drastically when I stopped being dominated by my fear of rejection. As I began to fall in love with Jesus, loving others became easier. Scripture is filled to the brim with fellowship. And if you see others who are isolated, reach into their world and be present with them. You don’t know what trenches they might be having to dig.

Blessings upon you this Christmas!

Your friend,

Karisa

You Drew Me In

Giggles and crayons melted

the distance between our sorrow.

Sketched out souls, framed together

in a mosaic moment of

play.

I miss him echoed

in our quiet parallel

expressions of color.

Each grieving, uniquely

united by the unquiet outline

of our circumstances.

Hugging Photos Isn’t Enough

Daniel hugged the plaque of Jonathan that hung at Moe’s Restaurant this weekend. His heartache was so evident in his attempt to embrace his brother. When that did not satisfy, as we walked out the door he reached for Natalie.

“Here Natalie, you be Jonathan so I can hug you.”

Sigh, I want so badly to fill their little arms. Oh Lord, they need flesh and bones Jonathan, fill them with the satisfaction of your embrace. Hold them tight! Keep them safe from the darkness.

Fireworks on Easter!: Celebrating Our Freedom in Christ

Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

“We should have fireworks on Easter!” A friend declared as we discussed Colossians on Sunday. We all laughed, but she is right. Christians have a freedom given to us that no law, no country, no philosophy and no religion can ever take from us. That is something to celebrate! Even if the United States were to crumble and our ‘Independence Day” be no more, our freedom comes from a cross and our God sacrificing himself for us so that we no longer have to live under the tyranny of sin.

So the question is, do we live in that freedom? Can you imagine any slave, once given their freedom, choosing to go back to that slavery? Yet we Christians do it all of the time. If Paul is having to tell the Galatians to live in the freedom, chances are good they were choosing to go back into the yoke of slavery. In this passage Paul mentions circumcision (belief that the law through circumcision saves us), sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies. The church is fresh from the resurrection and is choosing to return to things had enslaved them before their salvation. And the church of today is just as susceptible to returning to slavery. The rate of divorce is just as high in Christian marriages as it is in secular. The church is filled with back biting, grudges, idols, strife, jealousy, sexual immorality, fits of anger, dissensions, divisions etc. How in the world can we model freedom of Christ to an unbeliever if we keep returning to it when we don’t think God is meeting our desires?

This week I came face to face with some of my own slavery. I sat there cross armed and anger boiling inside me. The person across from me was revealing to me some idols she saw me worshiping. I’ve got news for you, idols aren’t just statues we place on our mantle. They are anything that we place above God, and anything that we are willing to sin to achieve.

For me, one idol is that I can somehow keep my two little ones safe. On the surface it is a good desire, but if I’m willing to sin to meet these desires then I’m not living in the freedom of the cross. At the core I don’t think God is capable of keeping them safe so I attempt to be God for them. Beneath every motive for sin is a belief that God will not meet my needs and desires.

Another idol lay hidden beneath the statement “no one will ever hurt me again”. One of the characteristics of Christ that I wrestle to accept and emulate— he didn’t fight back. He was spit upon, falsely accused and did not defend himself. This is a major strong hold for me. I keep having the same conflict over and over because self-preservation is my idol. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

I don’t have to live chained to idols. I can have freedom by keeping in step with the fruits of the Spirit.

The fruits of the Spirit (freedom) are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. That deserves some fireworks!

Freedom scriptures:

Romans 8:21

1 Corinthians 7:21

2 Corinthians 3:17

Galatians 5:13

Ephesians 3:12

James 1:25

Grieving With the Mouse

What I’ve learned about grieving while having extravagant fun:

1. Your loved one should be present at the event, so don’t expect your laugh, your plans, or your new life to not have the “empty chair” feeling. (I miss my rollercoaster partner.)

2. Honor their memory by being present with those around you.

3. Keep it simple. Complicated plans tend to unravel more easily, as well as tempers, when your emotions are raw and healing.

4. It is okay to have down time. Rest if you need it.

5. Do something that you would have done with the person. (Mount Everest was awesome!)

6. It is okay to cry.

7. Just keep swimming! One day you will find healing and have many adventures to share along the way. Who knows . . . you might see a Sea Turtle along the way!

Life's new Adventure.

Life’s new Adventure.

Finding Nemo Musical

Not My Will But Yours Be Done: Learning to accept God’s Sovereignty

John 19:26When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

As I was going to sleep last night, a thought popped into my head. Mary lost a child to a brutal death. In fact she lost at least two! James, her biological son with Joseph it is believed was stoned to death for preaching the gospel. This is no mother’s plan! Mary had to be numb and collapsing as she saw Jesus, the son of God, being crucified on the cross. God did not tell her that this was the road to salvation. It is safe to say that she was not in agreement with the dangerous path Jesus was walking. In her wisdom, she wanted to keep him safe, just as she had always done. She remembered fleeing from Cesar when Jesus was a baby. She remember how this precious life changed her very existence as he grew in her belly. She had done everything she could to sustain him, to keep him alive, to be a good steward of God’s amazing gift. Surely him hanging on the cross was not God’s will. Jesus did nothing as she expected. And yet, even from the cross Jesus was concerned for his mother and providing for her.

No matter how great the plan we make as a mother, God’s plan is better. He has the end goal end in mind, when I cannot even see the finish line. His love is for all of humanity. My love is for a few. His judgment is not clouded and mine is darkened by my own selfish desires. His path is consistent, he neither wavers nor stumbles. God’s plan for Jesus was perfect. God’s plan for Jonathan was perfect. Oh, how weighty those words are for me! They are bitter in my soul. Please hear me, while God did not cause my son’s death, he didn’t stop it either–AND HE IS COMPLETELY ABLE TO! To accept God’s sovereignty in my son’s death is one of the hardest hurdles in my faith. Yet I have believed that he is sovereign in the good things in my life. Why not in death as well?

He has a purpose in allowing Jonathan to die, and as I learn to open myself to the possibilities in his purposes may the friction between my will and God’s will be removed. What is happening in your life right now that you find yourself saying, “Surely this is not the will of God.” Are you battling cancer, is a loved one ill, have you lost your job, is your marriage in shambles. Can we pray as Jesus prayed?:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes. (Matthew 6:9-13, The Message)

Swimming in Belief

Body bolstered by belief,

and honed by instruction

motors towards the finish line.

Joy, baptizing those in your wake.

Arms outstretched to receive

the prize.

Embraced by love,

Until you wiggle free,

ready to face your expanded distance.

Swim Practice

Suicide Butterfly

A wisp of beauty landed close to me.
Separate, but the same.
I marveled at its will to live
A vibrant delicate life
Short yet powerful
Because it changed me.

Shield of Faith

I think my uncle, aware of how deep the spiritual battle for my family is, thought we should have a larger shield of faith.

Finding One Little Lost Sheep

Luke 15: 1,7 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.. . .Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Natalie was missing for 45 minutes. A late afternoon trip to the zoo turned into a nightmare, as one instant she was beside me, and the next she was not. I wish I could claim that my faith held me together, but God was not the first thing I ran to. Fear was my companion for the search. I realized in an instant that I have come to expect loss—that is a story for me to figure out another day.

Daniel and I hunted for five minutes, but to no avail, so we flagged security who confidently assured me that they would find her. The young man who stayed with me had barely shaken the dust of his teens, he was way out of his depth with me. He had enough sense to realize that I needed to search rather than stand there and wait.

“Ouch, you’re holding my hand too tight,” Daniel complained. “Is that because your scared for Natalie?”

“Sorry kiddo,” I said, realizing that I needed to find a safe place for him while we searched. I dropped him off with the original staff member we had flagged and the teen-adult and I relayed Natalie’s description around the park. At first there was constant chatter as the net of people spread out to different locations.

Then the drought of silence.

My thoughts threatened to send me over the edge so I began jabbering to the teen-adult. We searched in all of Natalie’s favorite places until I could tell the teen-adult’s confidence waning, and he was running out of ways to keep me hopeful.

“When is it time to call the police.” I asked.

“It is getting close.” he answered honestly.

My husband arrived from work and called to join the search. The staff was starting to look through the parking lot.

Finally my cellphone vibrated again. “I’ve found her.”

She was happily playing, oblivious of our fear, oblivious that she had been missing for 45 minutes.

My husband told me later that staff walked right past her.

How is that possible?
Sometimes we don’t look lost. Natalie was happily playing and there were lots of parents on the plaza.
Jesus told the parable of the lost sheep because the Pharisees were complaining that he was hanging out with sinners. He should be more concerned about those who are staying with the flock. Right? I’ve got news for you Pharisees, not a single one of us is without sin and need of repentance. We don’t know we are in danger, we are going through life believing that we can do it all. We don’t need anyone’s help. It takes a shepherd who knows that we are prone to walk off cliffs or into a lions den. Jesus doesn’t just search, he celebrates when we are found!

There are over 7 billion people on this planet; what’s one little lamb when you have a whole herd of sheep? Who would climb cliffs, face lions, keep searching for just one of us? Only one God will do that!

Independent little Natalie didn’t know that she was lost yesterday. I’m grateful that we have a shepherd who will keep searching for us, even when we are wander away from his love and protection.

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Suicide & Prevention Hotline

National Suicide Hotline

If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call the National Suicide Lifeline at 988 or go to the website at https://988lifeline.org/