Monday, March 30, 2015

Plastic vs. Real and My Problem with Easter Eggs

Year after year, I hover disappointedly over the stovetop, grasping the silver handle and peering into my non-stick saucepan with bewilderment. What is my problem with Easter eggs? Why do they faithfully crack when I boil them? And why am I always shy of vinegar?

A few days ago, I asked my 15 year old daughter if she wants to color eggs again this year. Just for the fun. I was sort of hoping she'd say no, but with a beautiful smile, she said yes. For old times sake. I think I may have cringed a tiny bit in secret.

Because you wouldn't believe how often I resort to my Betty Crocker cookbook, on simply how to boil the perfect egg. And you wouldn't believe how many eggs I juggle, trying to manage a crate full of unbroken boiled eggs. All for an unbroken Easter egg hunt.

I suppose the water is too hot, and the cracks appear. I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing wrong.

Sometimes I resort to plastic eggs. Mix in a little plastic with the real.

And when I finally give up, I realize that even a slightly cracked egg looks pretty with a little color. The fracture lines take on a darker shade, a different hue, giving beautiful diversity to the egg. And like a fingerprint or snowflake, it's different from all the rest. And add a little sticker to it, and you have something that can be used. Something worth keeping. Something that can be hidden and found.


I used to be ashamed of the fractures in my life. I wanted to hide them, hide them from others. I wanted to appear perfect. Add a little plastic to the real, and maybe no one would notice.

But here's the beautiful deal ...

God uses the real. 
God refines us intentionally. What good are we if we remain the same? Those fractures are living proof of change and a great source of ministry. They make us unique like a fingerprint or snowflake.
The plastic is artificial. But the real is nourishment.

Do I wish I could erase some of those life's fractures? Oh, you bet I do. But choices are choices; and consequences are consequences; and circumstances are circumstances. But those are the very things God can take and make good. Because He promised He would.

The nail scarred hands and feet prove this

The broken uses the broken.

The fractured uses the fractured.

If we simply give up, come out of hiding, to be found. Remove the plastic. To be real. To be used.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Learning to Ride

It ain't like it used to be.

When my grandmother taught me to drive on her old country county roadthat old one lane asphalt road ... the road that if you met an oncoming car, as a courteous driver, you had to pull completely off the road to let others passwell, let's just say that automobiles were different then.

My grandmother had a Buick with a bench seat in front. Three people could ride up front. When she first began teaching me to drive, I sat in her lap. When I got old and tall enough to start really practicing and she sat me in the driver's seatwhen my feet could reach the pedalsshe sat right next to me, in the middle of the bench. She was the most patient teacher. Because if I made the least wrong move, her foot could be on that brake pedal in a flash.

Well, I've been helping teach my daughter to drive. There is a center console between us. My hands can reach the steering wheel, but let me assure you, if I need the brake, I'm dreadfully out of luck. My brake access is blocked by a console for drinks and change, of all things, and a little thing called an automatic gear shift. And when you have a beginner driver, that's a scary position to be in. I am totally helpless. And the threat of death feels too imminent. Though my baby girl's a good driver, I'll admit that I've done a heap of praying from that passenger seat.

And I've had to help teach her to parallel park. Yes, let the girl who failed parallel parking, in her first car without power steering, teach you. The best uncle in the world was gracious to step in to help advise. Even I can parallel park now. Glory hallelujah!

But some things never change.

Walking this life with the Lord in the driver's seat can be daunting. It'll bring you to pray. And as confusing as it might be for some to understand, it's the only way to make it safely to our destination. It's the only way to be accomplished.

When you wonder 

Lord, how can you take me there?
Lord, how can we get there?
Lord, why would you take me there?
Lord, when will we get there?
Lord, are you sure you don't need me to take over?
Lord, are you sure you don't need the brake?
Lord, are you sure you don't need to speed up?
Lord, what are you doing?

We lean back against the trusty car in our trusty jeans and trusty T-shirts and trusty tennis shoes, with folded arms, and try to direct. Because we think we know best. We think we know where we should be going, how we should be going, why we should be going, and exactly when.

And we press our imaginary brake over and over. We wish we could reach that gas pedal. And we impolitely reach for the wheel, because bottom line, we don't trust Him. And He says, "No. I know the way. Because I am the truth and the life, but I'll use your assistance."

It's interesting that we learn at an early age to drive well, but we also need to learn at an early age to ride well.

We must learn to sit back, pray, and enjoy the journey at His pace, at His direction. Roll down the window on this ride of life, breathe in the fresh spring air, and admire the blooming irises.

 Wendy Macdonald, I think of you.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When the Vase is Broken

Making a tent in the living room with my sister and our good friend caused a major disaster. We three elementary grade school girls took a bedding sheet and used everything possible within the movable boundaries of the living room to maintain our tent. The coffee tables and end tables came into play. We even used my mom's ceramic wash bowl. The weight would surely hold the sheet in place.

The tent was wondrous until it shifted, and the wash bowl shattered. In quick and fast recovery mode, we knew what had to be done. In spite of my sister's leg bleeding from the broken pottery, we took Elmer's glue and pieced the vase back together. Surely my mother would never notice. She would never notice the traces of transparent, coupled with traces of white, glue that had seeped and dried through the cracks of the olive green pottery.

Of course, she noticed.


When my girls were tiny, and they'd get injured, I'd scoop them up and immediately rush them outside. There was something about the fresh air that dried their tears. I'd kiss them. They'd see the dog, and we'd playfully run after the dog. Anything to make those baby girls laugh.

I would sit down on the porch swing with the injured one in my lap, and I'd sing over her.

No more tears. A smile had emerged.


We just celebrated my daughter's 15th birthday.

Looking back in remembrance, our lives are like one broken vase all pieced back together. After experiencing the pains of infertility, the uncertainties of adoption, the frightening experience of our baby girl being diagnosed with a kidney tumor at only 13 months old ... we are the broken vase.

The Lord picked this broken child up, rocked me, and sang over me. The Lord—the one who rules brokenness—was the glue that pieced me and continues to piece me and the continually falling pieces back together.

If you've been broken and pieced back together, it's noticeable. The scars show through certain shirts, through certain night clothes, through certain bathing suits ...

The temptation settles in to hide in shame.

And we remind ourselves that those scars prove the miracle that we are. We were near death, and God mended our lives.

Others will notice. Others need to notice. Don't hide the scars. Smile. Because others are broken, too.

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." —Zephaniah 3:17

What have you experienced? Abandonment, pain, fear? The scars prove the miracle that you are.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why I'm Not Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf

My grandmother rested in her grand poster bed sandwiched between my sister and me, in that home up on the hill in Texas, bordered in brick, with the windows raised high, the breeze blowing in, unafraid.

Pink and blue hydrangeas bordered the front of her home, and the cows and baby calves grazed the pasture borders, while her Border Collie, Rex, slept on the porch and my Pa-Paw snored the roof off in the bordering room.

The giggles subsided.

A hush fell over the room.

"But this little pig built his house of brick.

And the big bad wolf came. He knocked on the door and said, 'Little pig, little pig, let me come in.'

'No, no, not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.'

'Then I'll huff, and I'll puff, and I'll blow your house in.'

And the wolf huffed and puffed but could not blow his house down."

The end. Sigh.

I'd pull the patchwork quilt, hand stitched by my grandmother, up under my chin with my tiny ivory hands and smile. She taught me to love stories. She taught me to love Jesus. I went to sleep knowing the one who built their house with brick, on a solid foundation, could rest in peace. No matter what comes.

When the big bad wolf comes ... the one who says, "You don't believe like me, so you die. The one who says, "You don't look like me, so you die." The one who says, "You don't dress like me, so you die." The one who lines up rows of Christians, or Israelites, or anyone different and beheads them, making a statement to the world, "You aren't like me, so you die."

What can we do? We can sadly watch those who built their houses of straw and wood fall prey. Eternal prey. We can watch those choose to place shackles on their feet. Eternal shackles. And we can pray for them.

But how can we withstand?

By knowing and trusting that sometimes the standing is in the bending of the knee. And sometimes the standing is in the falling. But most importantly ...

1. Know your enemy.

We can watch the enemy continually try to imitate Jesus, saying, "I am the only way, the only truth, and the only way that you will live." And we can be the wiser.

The only mistake the enemy makes in his masquerade is that he forces his way. And that's how we know the enemy. That's what makes him recognizable.

2. Know your hero.

"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one  comes to the Father except through me.'"John 14:6

Jesus, our hero, never forces His way ... He's a gentleman and, since the Garden of Eden, has always given us a choice. Free will. He will not hold a gun or a knife to our heads and force His way upon us.

But how can we build our house of brick?

We believe.

We choose to believe ...

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."John 3:16

And we remember ...

"The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."1 John 4:4 

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."Philippians 1:21

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The View

Life is sprinkled with seasons.

When I was a child, I ran to the front living room window to watch my daddy drive away. The drive away would be forever. I was only about eight years old. I stood at the window, watching him leave, and crying my heart out.

"My daddy, my daddy, I love you."

It's hard to look out a set of glass doors without being reminded of the event.

But the Lord had just replaced my shaky foundation with His solid foundation, and He saw me through. Though it took years, God truly used the situation to reveal to me that "He" was all I needed. He was my true love.

When life seems bad, when life is tough, when life hurts, what will we see? What will we choose to see? We can't often change the view, but we can adjust our view.

Sometimes, we look out the window to only see the bitter cold.

Sometimes, we look out the window to only see rain.

But it's nice to come to some place in time where we can look out the window to only see and rest in God's mercy and grace.

The Son.

Dedicated to my dear friend Denise, who just endured brain surgery for a tumor behind her eye, with the most amazing view I've ever seen. She'll have another surgery in March. Please keep her in your prayers.