Hope Rises

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“The Resurrection of Jesus is a sign of God’s purpose and power to restore his creation to its full stature and integrity. Just as death could be seen as the culmination of all that is wrong with the world, so the resurrection can be seen as a pledge of God’s ultimate victory over the disorder which plagues his creation on account of the fall. Death is the greatest enemy, and yet death has been defeated by God through Christ. And so we are given hope that the remainder of the powers and forces that confront us are similarly being defeated and their power broken.”

~ Alister E. McGrath

In the end, we can absolutely always count on this:

Life’s stones roll away and Hope rises.

Our Savior Lives.

Happy Resurrection Day, dear friends.


Throwback Thursday :: And Why a Picture Frame Means More to Me than Pictures

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My Grandma Rea bought my Faith Reanna the darling white cotton dress she’s wearing in the picture above. I loved every square inch of that breezy number, right down to the delicate ruffles and flower eyelets. I couldn’t wait to have Faith’s picture taken in it, either. So one day while her brothers were livin’ it up at Mother’s Day Out, my 10 month old and I trekked down to J.C. Penney’s at the Albuquerque Coronado Mall for a little photo session.

On this particular morning in late March, God dowsed me in grace by shining His good favor on Faith’s disposition. Her mood positively sang, and it showed in her over-the-top adorable pictures. The one above still gives me special delight because her open hand and mouth show an early glimpse of her I-want-to-grab-and-taste-all-life-offers personality.  The Penney’s photographer loved it, too, and she ended up hanging this picture on the wall of their studio. Of course that dang near made me sing. Because let’s be honest: what mama doesn’t love confirmation that she ain’t the only one who finds her baby the cutest thing on either side of the Mississippi?

Or at least one of the cutest waltzing through a department store in that desert city.

Not long after when my baby turned into a toddler, any hope for future “gallery perfect” photos ran off with her two-naps-a-day schedule. Oh, but I love the ones that took their place just the same. They were imperfectly perfect, her bold disposition on grander display than any department store studio could hold. Always desperate to keep up with her brothers by running faster than her plump little legs were able, Faith smacked headfirst into more bathtub edges, coffee tables, and concrete sidewalks than I could count. In almost every picture from her toddler years, Faith’s sweet Cindy Lou Who face is accented with a bruised forehead, a swollen lip, or black eyes.

Honestly, I am still in awe that we evaded the attention of Child Protective Services.

Faith and baby

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But as little ones are prone to do, she didn’t let a tumble or fall slow her down. She would sometimes cry, but she would always hop back up, shake it off, and start running after her brothers again.

Today, ten years beyond her picture in the little cotton dress, what a blast it is to know my daughter’s kaleidoscope personality in full bloom, yet be able to look back and see the early pieces of it peeking through like light through trees. And as much fun as it is to look back at the pictures (and grin at my own silly pride for having a certifiably cute baby), I hope what stands out most is that I gave more attention to framing the girl in those pictures than I gave to the pictures themselves. That I was the kind of mama who held not hid the imperfectly perfect real daughter, not just the gallery-worthy, spiffed-up images. That I was the kind of mama who didn’t demand perfection but rather celebrated God’s expression of Himself through them.

As I look in that rear view mirror, I see moments when I was the frame who loved and supported her children well and others where I got sidetracked. But I also see a mama who isn’t afraid to hop back up, dust off her wobbly intentions and do better with them today.

And tomorrow, too.

Linked up here with Jessica’s deliciously fun Throwback Thursday Stories.


When Disappointment Sits Near You

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My husband has been gone for most of the last month, and my semi-grand plans to honor Lent with the kids were shoved under beds and into dusty corners. Oh, I could tell you all the things I have done. Things like making an extra trip or seven to the orthodontist and dentist to deal with teeth problems. Things like dealing with car issues. Things like taking kids to swim team, shooting team, and band practice. Things like meetings for this and that. And of course, writing, writing, and writing some more.

When our nights finally wind down between 9:30 and 10, I’m reading a bit from the gospels to the kids. And on the more stumbling along, tired nights, we are doing well to whisper prayers. Not the end of the world, I know. But Lent is full of bountiful offerings, and I’m disappointed I’ve only taken an anemic portion. I’m not so much disappointed in myself as that I didn’t get to do all I’d hoped.

Oh, I know there is as much grace in a busy season as in any other. But I don’t want any insider’s glimpse from our lives to give the impression that Jesus isn’t a priority. I want to balance my daily responsibilities with the kids’ interests and still have our relationship with Jesus come out as the biggest part of our lives.

The good news? There is grace in knowing that life is measured over many seasons, not just a selective one or two. It helps to see my priorities within that lens rather than just the last month. And within that, hope lies beyond the disappointment.

Sometimes disappointment looks like not getting to do things you hoped to do. But often disappointment sits like a sack of bricks dropped in your lap by someone else. This last year has held this kind of disappointment for our family as well, in large and small doses. And maybe it has for you and yours, too.

As we spend this Holy Week remembering the choices Jesus made to live His Father’s will – choices that spoke of His unfathomable love for you and me – let’s keep in mind one truth about disappointment that blazes more brilliantly this week than any other:

Behind great disappointment follows greater hope.

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That disappointment you’re facing? God would only allow it if the hope waiting behind it was greater still.

“Your love has called me out, out of my sorrow, out of my broken places!

Hope has been renewed, ‘cause there on the cross, there on the cross

Love broke through.”  ~ Ellie Holcomb, “Love Broke Through”

Love breaks through, and Hope gets the last word.


How to Know When You Need to Step Away from Social Media

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We sit starched and sparkly in what my grandma would call proper church clothes: Button down shirt and starched pants for the boys, dresses with tights and boots for the girls. David, the kids and I are headed to a formal concert, and we have dressed the part well.

In the car on the way to the performance hall, I review appropriate concert behavior. No talking during the performance. No clapping until each piece concludes. No asking for bathroom breaks ’til intermission. My older kids (should) know this, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to remind them how their manners need to reflect kindness and respect to the musicians and others in attendance.

The concert saw both music and children in excellent form. Intermission arrived, so all three kids and myself took the opportunity to use the restroom. And that’s when I lost all credibility to lecture on good manners as I proceeded to exit the bathroom with my sweaterdress tucked up inside my tights.

Yep, awesome and classy: that’s me.

While my sanguine personality and I can easily laugh about it, my face still gets a little hot remembering. It was funny, but the looks I received had me regretting the decision to use the restroom in the first place.

Social media sometimes feels the same way. For example, I kindly and respectfully try to engage someone else in a conversation, but they don’t respond. I post something  on facebook or twitter {I find} witty or funny, and the response is Cricketville. While I have pure intentions in posting updates or tweets, I sit embarrassed when I get no response. I wonder if I walked into the “room” with my dress caught up in my tights by saying something ridiculous or unintelligent after all.

When we start to feel this way, it can only mean one thing:

It’s time to step away from the social media and step towards a healthy perspective.

1. Remember the social media room is crowded and loud. Recently, I attended a large party at a friend’s stunning, spacious home. While I waved and said hello to several folks and chatted with a few, many people I never spoke one word to. Many people I didn’t even see. The social media room is like this, but it’s endlessly big with new people walking in and out all the time. There’s no way everyone in the room is going to talk to – much less connect with – everyone else.
2. Remember we give to give, not to get. When we leave a thoughtful comment or message, it is a present we place in the hands of the person. We give the gift and move on. Maybe they’ll say thank you out loud, maybe only in their heart. Either way, we don’t stand around, tap our foot, and demand a response ~ we aren’t owed anything.
3. Remember why you’re important. You have worth because you have fullness in Christ, not because of so-and-so’s interaction and friendship. Put your hope in Him, not them. He is the only One who fills to overflowing and fully gets who you are.

I cherish online friendships, especially the ones that meander into real life. But even a relationship lover like me admits I can’t have one with every person that crosses my path. Neither can you. We all have families to prioritize. We have jobs to do, laundry to wash, words to read, toilets to scrub, walks to take, skies to watch. If we are meant to interact with someone on a deeper level, God will see that it happens.

In the meantime, when the chatter gets loud and you get lonely, take it as an invitation to step away from the social media. Write offline or read in a corner. Kiss faces. Wrap arms. Snuggle up. Love hard.

And when we do our thing online, let’s not get caught up in what others do or don’t do as it relates to us. Give a message with a smile, grateful for the opportunity to encourage. If your heart reflects kindness and respect to other folks, there is no need to dwell on your one-way conversation.

Not even if your sweaterdress is tucked up in your tights.

(this is an edited repost originally found here)

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