Monday, March 25, 2013

step away from the basket

You've read it here a dozen times. You know this year, again, we're "Forgetting the Frock". Such a small step. I mean, really. Looking big picture, can giving up a dress on one day of the year really make a difference in anyone's life? If you ask the people at Feeding the Orphans, um, yes. Yes it can. They BLEW past the $13,000 goal and are now sitting somewhere over the $20,000 mark. Do you even know how many babies are getting food in their bellies because YOU bought a t-shirt?!

The amount of pride I feel as I watch this beautiful idea manifest into a movement is almost sinful. The Lord is so freakin' amazing and it's so cool to have watched Him birth an idea in someone you love and then see it unfold. Two years ago we were one of a handful standing in our church building looking decidedly different from those around us who wore Easter bonnets and all too much chiffon. This year, people in 20 states are stepping out on faith and wearing a t-shirt to church. So simple. A t-shirt to church. A t-shirt that feeds a baby, supports an upcoming adoption, sheds light on human trafficking and the damage it causes. The love of Jesus and the work of His church are spreading through something as simple as a t-shirt. Jesus blows my mind.

And this whole thing is awesome. It so is. But I almost feel like wearing my t-shirt isn't enough. Like, maybe, if we still tear through our baskets full of eggs and meaningless toys and fill up on chocolate before heading to church we might have missed the point all together. This is about so much more than a t-shirt. Forgetting the Frock is saying, "To me, Jesus' death and resurrection mean that I have life- abundant life- and my life is no more important than the life of a baby/child/teenager, neglected, abandoned, abused, forgotten by the world, but NOT by the Lord. James 1:27 says that pure and undefiled religion, religion God accepts is this: to look after orphans... So I'm putting my faith in action and taking care of orphans, even if I can just take care of one at a time."

Have you ever read something and thought, "YES! Stole the words out of my mouth!!" Jen Hatmaker somehow gets in my head and writes exactly what I am thinking. We would be best friends, I am sure of it. Today she wrote this on her blog:
What does this look like for us? How do we worship in light of this Savior? For it is past time we, too, turn the rules upside down and change the template. Broken and poured out, may it be. Oh that his people would mimic the cross in worship this week, bypassing plastic eggs and patent leather shoes for servanthood, responding in a way befitting the sacrifice.
What if we calculated the money we’d spend on new clothes, anything having to do with a bunny and chocolate, and used that investment for great good, pouring out for someone in need of mercy? Maybe instead of matching outfits from Dillards, we invest in family t-shirts benefiting someone’s adoption, someone's mission for Christ. Perhaps rather than time and energy spent on ourselves, we ask: “Who can our family serve? Where can we put our hands and hearts to use in Jesus’ name?”  Who in your city desperately needs hope but won’t find their way to the sanctuary Sunday filled by people dressed to the nines?
Now, for some, suggesting we give up the Easter baskets will be likened unto asking you to give up presents at Christmas. I'm not saying that, though we are skipping the basket tradition as Dane grows up. He'll never miss though, since he's never had it! I don't think the gifts, the baskets, the eggs and the chocolate in and of themselves are the problem. My siblings, though we are now ages 16-27, still love sitting around the table together and decorating eggs the night before Easter. It's a tradition filled with happy memories and love. 

It's when the trappings and trinkets of the holiday play a bigger role than the REASON for the holiday. When a momma drives her self crazy looking for little white shoes and socks with lace cuffs, stays up late dying eggs, gets up early stuffing baskets, rushes through getting ready and pressing everyone's frock and doesn't think about Jesus or His sacrifice until her butt hits the pew and the worship band plays the opening chord of "Hosanna". That is when we realize we have missed the point. I feel like that's when the Lord looks down on His creation and goes, "What happened?! I gave you life to the full through a gift with a cost so high you can't fathom it, and I'm second fiddle to bunnies, eggs, and baskets."

I believe the Lord delights in seeing His people give to each other. It's biblical even. Paul  says in 2Cor8:14, "Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal." It's the spirit of the giving, even the spirit of the gift that's given. I would love to see generosity at Easter like we see at Christmas. That holly, jolly spirit of the season that makes random strangers hug each other on the sidewalk, pick up dropped packages and help a friend to the car, buy a meal for a family in need. This should be a season of extending grace, of showing mercy, of shutting the devil up and choosing today to be obedient to our convictions. 

The Lord has lavished His favor upon Forgetting the Orphans this year. He spoke a word into the heart of one woman who was faithful to listen. Who went against everything her Southern upbringing told her and wore a t-shirt and jeans to church on Easter Sunday. Her obedience and seeing the Lord do an amazing work through this movement convicts me to make my own changes to this holiday. 

I am giving it back to Jesus

No baskets, no dress shoes. This year, Easter is a private sunrise service with my family. It's worshiping through tears the God who gave His life for me and ROSE AGAIN so I might have eternal life. It's putting on that orphan t-shirt as a reminder that in the same way He did not leave me as an orphan, but died while I was still a sinner (Rom5:8), He will not leave those children as orphans (John 14:18) but will come to them. 

Step away from the basket. Put down the shoes. Forget the Frock. Love ONE. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

left field

Update 3/20/2013: We learned today that the interested couple will have to pass on our home. I've had some comments from people worried about us because I sounded like I was in despair. Please know that is most definitely not the case. I use this blog to be open and real, and hopefully minister to other women feeling similar things and looking for someone who can relate. I do not despair because The Lord provides ALWAYS. It may ruffle my feathers, but I'm held in the shadow of His wing, and in that safe place there is no reason to (nor room for) despair. 

I am kind of an organizer. I love making lists. In fact, even if I have already accomplished a task, I might still write it down on my list just to have the satisfaction of crossing it off. Some might call that neurotic. That's ok, I would too. :) I live by my lists: grocery, to do, packing, etc. I also live by my calendar. I write down everything, yes, even things that have already happened. Maybe this all goes back to that whole control thing I deal with, but it made me really good at my job and I think it makes me really good at being a housewife and mom. We are efficient. We are organized. And we are always (usually) on time. 

The Lord and His timing never cease to amaze me. In January 2012 we put our house on the market. I wrote a post during which I might have wept over my keyboard. Nope. Not might. I definitely bawled through it. The Lord had burdened us to let it go. We were faithful and dove head-first into me being at home with Dane, but keeping me home meant getting rid of the house. So, through lots of tears (all mine) and lots of prayers, we listed it. 

I have moved more times than I can count. I have had an address in six different states. I went to three elementary schools, three middle schools, and three high schools. Moving is not new to me. So, why on God's green earth was I weeping over one stupid house. We weren't even leaving the town, just the house. No new friends. No new job. No new school. Just a new house. 

But this is our house. I picked out that shade of greyish blue for Dane's nursery. I painted the front door red and got paint all over my big, pregnant tummy. I have ruined a dozen manicures landscaping this yard and keeping the weeds at bay. I have mopped these hardwood floors on my hands and knees. I chose that couch for this living room. And our giant bed to go with the tray ceilings in our master bedroom. I brought my baby home here. We've had major fights in that kitchen. These walls have heard our deepest secrets and most earnest prayers. I was okay with giving up hardwood floors and tile countertops, truly I was (am), but I was afraid that all of my memories would remain within these walls like the nail holes from our family pictures. 

After six months with one realtor, we didn't sell. So we listed again with a new realtor, this time one who was a friend and neighbor. Showings and open houses didn't prove fruitful and after 13 months on the market, on February 12 our home was no longer for sale... we thought. 

Our realtor/friend/neighbor called last week to tell us she had a couple who she thought would be interested in our house. But before showing them photos and telling them about it, she wanted to be sure we might still consider selling. Honestly, after 13 months of nothing, what was it gonna hurt? "Bring 'em on!" we said. And she did. And they loved it. And now we are waiting to hear whether or not they are going to make an offer. 

What the WHAT?!?! My house isn't even FOR SALE!! How the heck did this happen? How I am suddenly back to the place where we don't feel settled here, back to looking at other homes, back to crying over the sink as I wash dishes because I just don't want to leave

You know how you mentally prepare for something? 

Your grandpa is old and sick, so you wrap your mind around the fact that he won't be with you much longer. And when he passes you cry and you're sad, but you're not surprised. 

Your transmission is out in your car so you do some research and get a rough estimate of what it will cost. Then when you get the bill, you don't throw up when you see the total because you were prepared for a number close to that. 

You know that staying home with your baby means selling the house you love but can't afford, so you put it on the market. And every day you look at that sign in the front yard and you think, "I am probably moving." You look at other houses or apartments. You look at jobs in other states, because, hey, if I'm moving, let's make it worth our while! 

But when that sign leaves your yard, when the transmission stops acting up, when Grandpa gets better, mentally you un-prepare. You move on because, you think, that ship has sailed. I was obedient to the Lord for 13 months. For 13 months and through numerous showings, I cleaned this house and prayed every day that I would give it all up for Him. I look at my sweet boy's face and flip through pictures of all we've done together in the 20 months of his life and it's just soooo worth it, because it's just a house. 

However, when that for sale sign left the yard, I mentally unprepared and fixed my mind on staying. I have painted a swatch of the new color for the kitchen. I have plans for a play place in the back yard for Dane. I am going to paint stripes in the bathroom. I am making new curtains and a duvet for the guest room, etc, etc, etc. Then all the way from left field, in a Father-of-the-Bride-movie kinda move, someone might want to buy my house and the type-A planner, calendar-worshiper in me curls up in the fetal position and bawls like a newborn baby. 

"But I don't WANNA leave!" I cry to God in temper tantrum voice that sounds so much like my son's I finally realize where he got it. I was faithful. I gave you time. Now quit making me live by faith and quit reminding me that all things happen in Your time and just work by a calendar that I can follow along with and check things off of, please! This isn't in my plan!

It's not in my plan, but it is in my plan. It's in the beautiful, organized, orchestrated-by-the-Lord plan that's really so much more thought out than the one this sometimes-forgetful, often rash, ball of emotions could dream up. 

So now, we'll wait. We'll prayerfully wait to hear from our realtor. I'll take copious amounts of pictures. I'll run my hands down the walls as I walk down the hallway. I'll take mental photographs of the way Dane looks as he sits and plays cars, with the afternoon sunlight shining through the front windows. I'll go visit Binx's grave a few more times. I'll savor the sounds of the frogs at the creek through the open windows on a spring night. We'll take a few extra carrots to the horses every day.

We'll wait to see what the Lord has in store next. It's gonna be good, I know it. He carried the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years. They ate manna and quail, they drank water fresh from a rock, and their feet didn't even swell! If He could carry them through a wilderness of 40 years, He will carry my through this wilderness of a few weeks. I've prayed for the sun to stand still (Joshua 10), and I now sit and wait, because He might have made the sun stand still in our world- albeit, not like I had in mind, but it's still so unexpected, so far out of left field, something we were so unprepared for, that when it all comes to a close, He'll be the only one to get the glory for it. That sounds like an okay plan to me. And when it happens, you better believe I'll mark the date on my calendar. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Join the Movement!

The Lord is so cool. When He convicts and we're obedient, He blesses in a big way! This year's "Forget the Frock" movement is no exception! 

If you don't know what "Forget the Frock" is please check out this post by the faithful, obedient, and just a bit sassy Emily Fox. She was the voice of one calling in the desert this winter, encouraging all of us to make a difference this Easter and love on JUST ONE orphan. 

This is our 3rd year to Forget the Frock. You can read about the first two years here and here. This year, we're supporting 18000for18000 and Feeding the Orphans. We have been convicted more and more lately about being intentional with every penny we spend. From shopping locally and seasonally for produce to making sure the clothes we purchase make a difference in the lives of just one person.

More than just the "cool thing" to do, looking after orphans and widows in their distress is asked of us in scripture (James 1:27, is one of many that come to mind). But if you ask me, loving the least of these and putting food in the belly of just one sweet baby in an orphanage somewhere is a pretty cool thing to do. 

This year, our family will be celebrating Easter at the happiest place on earth. Yes! DISNEYWORLD! We finally get to "open" our Christmas present from my parents. :) My sister asked if it would be weird to wear our orphan shirts in the home of excess in America, if ever there were one. But I think not. We might get some stares from people because our party of 8 is rocking coordinating shirts (but not near as many stares as we'll get the day we all--yep all 8-- wear MATCHING shirts!), but what a great reminder for us, and for everyone standing behind us in line, and as we bow our heads to pray over every excessive meal on our Disney Dining Plan, that not everyone eats like we do. Not every sweet child will experience the magic of Disney, or even the magic of a momma's snuggle or three solid meals a day. 

I shared this post on Facebook and Emily said she prayed God would do a mighty work during "Occupy Disney". "Oh to see the person's face that gets to be the first to ask about the shirts... I feel a sermon coming with noted excerpts from James and maybe even an alter call." An altar call on Main Street?! Excuse me, Small World, we're gonna need that river to do some baptizin'! ;) The God I serve can most definitely turn Disneyworld into the most orphan-lovin' place on earth!

So, go for it. Buy a new outfit for Easter this year-- but make it an outfit with a purpose! LOVE ONE!