Serving Jesus Mac and Cheese

Macaroni

As my daughter was coloring on the living room floor, she looked up at me and asked, “Momma, tan I haf some apple juice, pwease?”

“Sure, sweet girl. I’ll go get you some.”

On my way to the kitchen, I noticed a wet diaper laying on the floor that hadn’t made it to a trash can. So I picked it up and headed towards the kitchen.

As I tossed it in the trash, I noticed the can was almost full, so I decided to grab the bathroom trash cans to empty into the kitchen trash can, so I could take it all out. You know, optimize the empty space in the bag before sealing it.

After I emptied the contents of the little cans into the big one, I tied up the bag and sat it aside. Then I noticed some kind of sticky orange substance smeared across the lower cabinet door.  Sticky and orange? What do we even own that is sticky and orange!?

What. Is. That.

I walked over to the sink to grab a rag and realized I would have to go fish for it in the murky dishwater because the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes.

Instead of simply shifting around the dishes, I decided to do the responsible thing and load them in the dishwasher. I eventually found the dishcloth at the bottom of the green swamp, along with 3 others that smelled horrible.

I grabbed them, took them to the washing machine & began sorting the clothes and towels. You know, to optimize this sour dishrag load.

I designated piles into darks, lights and towels.

Feeling accomplished, I made my way to the bedroom to start folding some clothes.

And then a few minutes later…a tiny, parched voice from the living room…”Momma? Apple juice? Pwease?”

My patient, dehydrated, little thing.

I maneuvered my way around multiple piles of laundry in the hallway. When I walked into the kitchen to finish the task I had originally set out to do, I realized I was surrounded by semi-finished tasks instead.

Garbage bag laying over here. Mystery orange goo over there. Opened dishwasher waiting to be started.

Our culture has learned to juggle more things at one time than any circus performer ever has. Chairs, chainsaws and bowling pins set aflame? That’s child’s play. How about raising children, investing in a marriage, keeping the house from collapsing, being intentional with relationships, completing projects on time, fulfilling church commitments and doing everything in between? 

Downtime is now defined as the moments I can pack the little things into. Like when I can throw a load of laundry in the wash, make a phone call, wipe down a bathroom, vacuum the house or shower.

I mark one thing off my to-do list and there are 4 more to add to it.

I find myself rushing. All the time.

It is stressful. And it is  e x h a u s t i n g .

I can try to blame the constant rushing (and being late) on having to coordinate kiddos’ routines or getting an entire family out the door…on time…with clothes on.

But really, I don’t think having children changed that aspect too dramatically for me. I’ve been jam-packing and rushing most of my life. Which almost always leads to me being late. There are only so many little things you can cram into a certain amount of time before the entire thing explodes in your face.

I’m sure you probably know the story of Mary and Martha. I’ve heard that story since I was very young.

Poor Martha. She got a bad rap. I really feel for her. You know she was just trying to get stuff done.  Dinner. Cleaning.

Jesus, the Savior of the world, was in her house for goodness sakes! I mean, if Jesus was staying in my house, I’d want everything to be perfect too! I’d go so far as to actually clean out from under the stove and fridge instead of kicking all the crumbs underneath them. Which some people do…I’ve heard.

I believe Martha was busy doing good things, things that really did need to get done that day. She was juggling all this stuff alone, working herself up. And you know she was grumbling in her mind. I sure would have been.

“Oh no, Mary. You just sit there and enjoy Jesus. I’m sure dinner will make itself. And the dishes will wash themselves too. You may not mind serving Christ mac n’ cheese on paper plates, but I do. So I’ll do all the work. Just sit there and relax, you annoying free little spirit you.”

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Mary sat and listened.

Martha served and was distracted.

I heard this analogy a couple years ago and it’s as true now as it was then:

Imagine a bunch of cups in front of you that represent the different areas of your life that take your time and energy. Your marriage, your children, church commitments, cleaning the house, your projects, your workplace, etc.

Having a balanced life doesn’t mean that every cup is filled up the same amount. It means that you take 2 or 3 of the most important and fill them up.

The rest of the cups may have just a little, or even nothing, in them. You may have to step away from some commitments in order to keep the most important things and people in your life filled up.

And the most important cup of all is the empty one we come to Jesus with every single day.

Martha’s cup may have been clean, but Mary’s cup was full.

What I am learning is that a clean house, an empty sink and perfectly folded clothes will not last. The house will get disorganized, the sink will fill up with dirty dishes and the loads of laundry will once again pile up no matter how much I try to keep up with them.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus is what matters. That is what lasts. If my relationship with Him isn’t my top priority, everything else will become unbalanced because they’re not in the correct order.

Whether your busy-ness comes from being a mommy, some other demanding job or just life itself, sit at the feet of Jesus before you get up to wash the dishes. He loves it when we do and promises to give us “that which will not be taken away.”

Jesus Smells Like Lavender

Jesus Smells Like Lavender

lavender

My daughter ran up to me this week with a big smile on her face, arms straight up in the air, one hand holding a small glass spray bottle. Its glass is a deep, transparent blue that makes it look like something that should be sitting in the window sill of a beach house. The handwritten label reads, Lavender & Rescue Remedy.

Momma, spway me, pwease!” Anytime I put on a body spray, she too needs to smell pretty. But this particular bottle is a cherished one and every drop of its contents considered valuable. It was given to me by our midwife after we lost our first baby. She came to visit a couple days after everything happened to check in and see how I was doing. She sat beside me, opened her bag and pulled out the blue bottle. She told me to close my eyes, breathe deeply and then began misting my face and the air around me with the delicate scent of tiny purple flowers. So now, whenever I smell lavender, my mind involuntarily transports me back to that time.

The fragrance carries me to a place half way between here and eternity.

When my soul is heavy with grief, the smell of lavender fills me with the intense power of His peace that surpasses all understanding.

When the ache of loss puts me in a sorrowful slumber, lavender awakens my heart and I sense the intimacy of His presence.

Lavender reminds me that instead of remaining shattered in sadness, His fierce love restored me.

Why does a scent hold so much power? Because to me, Jesus smells like lavender.

The air being filled with the holy aroma came at a time without coincidence.

April is a very emotion-filled month for me. The 13th is our first baby’s due date; the first baby that we lost. A baby’s due date becomes forever imprinted on a mommas heart from the moment she knows it. And being a due date that turned up empty adds to the sacredness of that day.

As I entered a month that brings along with it an ache and emptiness, my precious daughter was now covered in the very scent that brings me peace…that brings me Jesus. Without the pain and loss we experienced, we wouldn’t have the little girl that now skipped and played through the house, carrying with her lavender to every room. Lavender would be just another scent. I wouldn’t have been transformed by Jesus in the ways I have. I wouldn’t know Him like I do now. An idea I can’t bear to think about.

The Lord was whispering words of comfort to me, “I am still here, as close as the air you’re breathing.”

Maybe you’re in the thick of things and your heart throbs in agony.

Look around, breathe deeply. Do you sense the presence of Jesus? Maybe it flows in the scent of lavender, or maybe it’s in seeing a small green clover. Or perhaps it’s carried in a song or in a car ride through the country. Don’t overlook the tangible traces you see. Don’t quiet His whispers or dismiss them as coincidence.

He is near. The evidence is all around you.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Grieving Good Friday

Cross

Good Friday.

The day Jesus died.

We know the story. And we know what happens 3 days later.

For years, I read through the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in a steady rhythm with the resurrection already in my mind. It eased the sting of the words. It made it a little happier to read. I resisted soaking in the visual of my Savior being mocked and tortured…for me. My stomach churned to settle into that place.

Oh yes, Sunday was coming. But Friday came first.

The explosion of Christ’s glory was coming. But his blood came first.

I wonder how “good” the day Jesus was crucified looked to his followers.

Their King, their Savior, was betrayed, captured, mocked, spit on, tortured, then crucified. That doesn’t bring the word “good” to mind.

It looked like it was all over. It looked like darkness had won.

The Messiah; the one they had hoped for, the one they believed in, the one they gave everything up for; was now hanging lifelessly on a cross.

The forehead that wrinkled in empathy for the hurting and the lost; the forehead that crinkled when he laughed and smiled, was now wrapped with a crown of thorns. Blood poured out, streaming down the length of his mangled body.

The strong arms that had embraced little children were now stretched out. The same rough, carpenter hands that touched blind eyes to give them sight and that washed the feet of his disciples, were now nailed to the cross.

The feet that had walked countless miles to bring hope to the hurting were also now nailed together.

The voice that commanded the winds and the waves, “Peace! Be still!”; that called into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”, was now crying out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We have come to call today Good Friday. We call it good because that day changed everything.

On the day He died, we were brought to Life.

My heart and mind settle into that raw place of his crucifixion. My stomach still churns knowing He took the punishment I deserved. And my heart aches with raw gratitude knowing how desperately I need his salvation. It breaks me. It brings me to tears.

Chants of victory are coming…

…but groaning cries of bitter mourning came first.

So today, allow yourself to grieve and feel the weight of that day – the day that changed everything.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5