So, last week.
(Pause and think about that…says the Amplified Bible of this word.) Okay…
Monday through Wednesday seemed to all be the same. Children sleeping, coughing, groaning, and crying all day. Daddy buying another kind of medicine; Mommy sitting with little ones, distributing medicines at appropriate times, washing sheets to kill germs, lysoling and cloroxing to kill germs, washing dishes quickly to kill germs, washing hands til they cracked to kill germs, sitting tired at the end of each day from not seeing the light of day except through a window or two. Fresh air; just needed fresh air!
Thursday we saw improvement in a couple of the boys, but our little girl began acting worse. So, praying, cleaning, and worship songs were intensified and turned up around here. Friday we saw more boy-improvement, but knew they needed water, more food, and to move! So, we got them out for about an hour and a half, at the end of which I was trying not to look into the eyes of every person walking quickly by our hacking-coughing children as I told Nathan, “Yeah, we need to go home.” (I fought some of my own frowns here.) That night our Hannah seemed like she could be getting worse, so we prayed and talked about taking her in to the doctor’s office next morning. I kept praying through the night and God brought to mind something I had thought about briefly that week but hadn’t acted on. So, Saturday morning, I gathered the crew and we positioned ourselves inside the small, main bathroom with hot shower going and vapor rub on. I gave her, and a couple others, a good ten minutes of pats on the back before we left said-sauna into the world of homemade tea and more vitamin C.
At the end of that day, we saw the light start to return to all their eyes, and I even had to call the boys down. (A blessing to a momma who had hardly heard a peep out of them all week except the coughing…so much coughing!) Sunday morning, this Momma was determined to get out of the house! So, once again, I gathered the crew for a good steam and back-pat, lined up the cups of cough syrup, put Christmas dresses on the girls, and the boys and I pulled on our Christmas sweaters, and out we went to meet with what remnant of our Church Family that wasn’t still sick at home!
After a simple time with the Church, we headed over to some friends’ house for a nice, simple open house, and even though my kids were happy and we – adults – were happy to be out of the house, I finally relinquished myself to…exhaustion! I even messaged a friend later to apologize in case I said something silly or foolish while I was there because I honestly felt like I was in a daze. It was there in that sweet, simple atmosphere that I looked down at my red sweater and realized it was also green…with snot, and you know what Friends, I so did not care! Not in a, “Whatever, this week has been the worst” kind of way, but in a “Yeah, this week has been hard, but it’s been good. I’m a Momma, these are the accessories that make us beautiful.” That’s right, snot is a part of making us beautiful, at least that’s the message I got over and over again last week.
I could have whined and complained and argued and given into frustration and given up last week (I know I could have because I have multiple times in the past), but this time, I decided I’d take God up on His offer to fill me fully with His whole, Holy presence. I’d be a “space” for Him (as Ann puts it) and I’d just see how He would unwrap the days as I unfolded my hands, my heart, my expectations, and my will before Him. I’d give Him all and see if He really would give all of Himself – all of His “Yes”-promises to me. Let me share something that should be bumper-stickered, cross-stitched, painted on wood, cropped in photoshop, instagramed, tweeted, pinned on Pinterest, posted on Facebook, preached from pulpits, sung from radios, and just plain lived out in every Christian’s every day life: GOD DOES NOT DISAPPOINT! We think He does when things don’t go our way or when the horrific happens. I know I’ve asked many times in my head, “Why?” “How?” “Where’s the good or even the love, Lord!?” (Especially in weeks where girls are being shot in school, Christians in Syria are being murdered and laid out for all the news and world to photograph, and freedom of speech is once again being allowed for all except those who have a Christian opinion.) But you see, I’ve been ending my year-long Read-Through-The-Bible with Revelation, and brothers and sisters, there is power there! There are answers in the mix of that very mysterious book, and God took a simple Momma, doing simple things, and well, He preached! Okay, I’ll share!
9 After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were robed in white with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! 11 All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures, and they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen. 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “Who are these people robed in white, and where did they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” Then he told me: These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.
They washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve Him day and night in His sanctuary. The One seated on the throne will shelter them: 16 They will no longer hunger; they will no longer thirst; the sun will no longer strike them, nor will any heat.
17 For the Lamb who is at the center of the throne will shepherd them; He will guide them to springs of living waters, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes…
The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever! …We thank You, Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign…7 Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels also fought, 8 but he could not prevail, and there was no place for them in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was thrown out—the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the one who deceives the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death. 12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the earth and the sea, for the Devil has come down to you with great fury, because he knows he has a short time. 13 When the dragon saw that he had been thrown to earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child…16 But the earth helped the woman…17 So the dragon was furious with the woman and left to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and have the testimony about Jesus…Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign! 7 Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and His wife has prepared herself. 8 She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure.
…19 Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army. 20 But the beast was taken prisoner…3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God’s dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away. 5 Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. 7 The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son…17 Both the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” Anyone who hears should say, “Come!” And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift…21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
Revelation HCSB various scriptures
I’m pretty sure I just heard Kirk Franklin in the background singing, “Can I get a witness up in here? Stomp!”
So, all that from “snot is beautiful”? (Smiling and chuckling going on for me here.) Yes! All that from snot! You see, so very much…so very much of this world is messy! This week, which should be one of the most beautiful weeks of the year, celebrated with smiles and laughter, yeah, this week was hard. In my own home I still have lingering coughs and yes, you guessed it, snot! In my friends’ homes are little children and parents that are still hoping for a sick-free Christmas morning. In a van yesterday (tears brim the eyes) sat one of my best friend’s just trying to have a positive day out and instead she texted me as she was trying to get home fast enough so that she could wrestle out some new perspective with God over the hard week she’d had. Others that I know are seeking to forgive and others are seeking forgiveness. Today, I have family who maybe see each other once or twice a year, gathering at our very beloved, late Great Grandma’s old house (now lived in by a cousin). And this family, y’all, it’s a mess! But do you know what? I woke up last night to feed a sweet little six month old, and I couldn’t help but pray and praise! I prayed for the hard stuff because He is faithful to hear and to help! And, I praised Him for some things that were just gonna be right today. I praised and thanked Him for what the Enemy, though He will try today and tomorrow to destroy, has not been allowed to take away. The Enemy has been given a time to be the prince of this world, but only because God is patiently waiting, wooing, and pursuing us – wanting so badly for us to choose Him. God can say, “Enough” at any time, and we all call out to Him at some point and go, “Today, God, today!” I have, but as soon as I do, God shows His love and grace once again; He puts in my heart and head a picture. This picture (or these pictures) shows the face of someone He loves so much but who won’t share in that same love for Him. And in that moment, my heart beats with His and I say, “Okay. Not now. Please, please wait. Them too, Father, them too.”
More than I want an easy life or carefree days, I want a burning desire for Him. If that means walking through the fire, so be it. More than I want my family to just be fixed, I want them to find the One Who has fixated His love on them from the beginning. More than I want weeks without sick kids, I want the sick kids to know I am here and I love them because that’s exactly what Jesus does for me. More than I want to hand out sweet sounding, Christian-ese cliche’s to friend’s walking through the dark, I want to take my little light, and I want to let it shine right where they are. And more than I want a red sweater on Christmas Day, I want green snot on the shoulder and collar from a baby girl who has been held close, danced with, and prayed over. I want to be just like Jesus who left His perfectly clean, calm home and put Himself in the mess and darkness of a womb and of a world…and He shined! He loved! He overcame! He shattered darkness and defeated death! He claimed His Bride and clothed her shame in white! He looked the Accuser square in the face and He said, “There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus because the Spirit’s law of life in (me) Christ Jesus has set (them) free from the law of sin and death!…So, now what can separate them from (my) love!” (Paraphrase Romans 8, HCSB)
That’s it. Every day of my life – through storm and sun, clean shirts and dirty ones, swept floors and crumby ones, Truth shining brightly or deception just uncovered, death or life looking me in the face – I want every day to proclaim, “nothing separates you from His love.”
“No kids, your naughtiness does not make Mommy, Daddy, or God love you less.” “No Friend, your darkness has never kept Him away.” “No Family, your choices have never caused Him to want you to stay away.” “No Baby girl, that stuff coming out of your body, it will never keep your Mommy from holding you with her bare hands and kissing your messy face. Nothing will ever separate you from my love.”