Discovering and playing and building in this little corner of the world to document my writing life. I'm glad you're here. {If you want to receive updates via email, sign up below.}

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Celebrate THIS WEEK XXVII


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

*****

This weekend I'm celebrating Easter and a living Savior.


And a favorite quote --

“I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.”
--- David Plat

Friday, April 18, 2014

No More NOT GOOD ENOUGH {37 of 40 Stories}

Moses spoke with God through a burning bush.
Moses parted the Red Sea and helped the Israelites escape Egypt.
Moses received the 10 Commandments.


For all of the amazing ways the Lord worked through Moses, it may come as a surprise that Moses didn't believe he was good enough.

It's true. Standing there in bare feet, because he was on holy ground, beside a burning bush, after God told him it was his duty to lead the Israelites out of slavery, Moses responds, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it" (Exodus 4:13).

I know how Moses felt. Well, not exactly because I can't imagine being called to lead an entire nation of people out of bondage, but I understand the thought of maybe someone else could be a better choice.

I've been tempted to blame these feelings of not being good enough on my age or my gender or the fact that I'm a recovering perfectionist. But the truth of the matter is the enemy has been attacking humankind since the beginning with the lie of not being good enough.

Moses wasn't immune and neither am I.

The next verse, though, cracks my heart.

Then the Lord's anger burned...

God was angry that Moses suggested someone else should do the work laid before him. He was disappointed that Moses didn't trust Him enough. He was furious that Moses questioned His plan. Still...Do you know what God did with His burning anger?

He gave Moses support. God said, "Aaron can help you. I can speak and teach through both of you."

Not good enough is one of the biggest lies out there attacking our faith. God has work for each of us to do and when we succumb to the  belief that we aren't good enough, that there's someone else better, we miss our chance to make the world a better place.

Maybe instead of running away when we feel we aren't good enough, we should follow Moses' lead and say it aloud, straight to God. We can expect God to be angry, but we can also expect him to support and encourage and find a way for the work He has for each of us to do to be completed.

Not good enough is not going to stop me any more. I hope the same is true for you.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Celebration Expands the Heart{36 of 40 Stories}

After Jesus was resurrected, the third time he appeared was on the sea shore. He had a camp fire burning and fish cooking. Several of the disciples were fishing. They didn't catch anything the night before and they weren't catching anything on this particular morning.

It was early in the morning when he stood on the shore and called out to the disciples, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"

"No," they answered. They didn't recognize him.

Jesus suggests they cast their nets on the other side of the boat. He said they would catch some. Instead, when they cast on the opposite side of the boat, they were unable to haul in the net because of the large number of fish.

It is then they recognize Jesus. Peter gets so excited he leaps out of the boat and runs to the shore. The other disciples followed in the boat because they were only a few yards off of shore. Peter helps them pull in the net.

There were 153 fish.

153.

Someone counted the fish. I bet it was Peter.

Peter, who denied Jesus three times after her was crucified and before the rooster crowed the next morning. Peter who was outspoken and passionate. Peter who loved Jesus more than anything.

Jesus is standing on the shore, making breakfast and someone is counting the fish.

153. The fish were large.

153. The nets did not break.

153.  The celebration was noticed.

Peter messed up and was probably feeling a little down about denying Jesus. They are fishing and it's miserable. There's nothing filling their nets. I imagine they were tired. Then, in the early morning hours, things change.

They listened to Jesus.

It was a simple request -- cast your nets on the other side of the boat -- yet, I can imagine the disciples rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders. They didn't know they were going to catch fish. They didn't even know it was Jesus. They weren't paying attention.

Then, in an instant, things change.

The net is full and they see clearly that it's Jesus.

They haul in the fish -- all 153 of them -- and they eat breakfast together. Meanwhile someone counts the fish. It's significant -- 153 is documented in scripture.

Maybe the secret to finding celebration in the midst of the muddle and the hard and the bitter, is to count the fish. Peter was still reeling from betraying Jesus. They were tired of fishing and not catching anything all night. They didn't know what they were supposed to do, how they were supposed to minister.

Then they counted those fish and things changed.

They sat and ate breakfast with the Savior on the beach. I like to think the disciples hearts expanded that morning and they realized they were loved with an abundance.

153 fish.  This is what celebration does. It expands our hearts.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weaving a Story {35 of 40 Stories}


Click here for the backstory.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:14-16

We adopted Hannah when she was six. We caught her and kept her from being blown by the winds of foster care. Her life (and ours) was changed forever. As she's grown, it's become clear that we aren't enough to help her grow and mature and become the person she is made to be. It takes a whole community, a body of believers, to ground a person and help them become a "heavy weight" of faith -- not one who is tossed back and forth by the waves and winds.

I've realized part of parenting is learning to let go so God can work through others to offer your child exactly what she needs. I'm not going to be able to give her everything. The more she grows into the person she is, I'm humbled to be able to offer something. God equips his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. Ephesians 4:13

God uses a whole community to build up Hannah.

Sarah who gave her nail polish and a tiara within days of being home.
Eva who was her first best friend.
Eva's mommy who saw every good thing in Hannah and pointed them out to me.
Mimi who taught her to knit and sew.
Mamaw who taught her to shop.
Grandma Ayres who gave her Easter and Halloween and Christmas traditions.
Mrs. Hanback who sent her home a little better every single day of fourth grade.
Susan Bushong who sent her a note after a service project and told her she's a prayer warrior.
Mrs. Messer who made her believe she has a special gift for reading and writing. 
Emma, Rebecca, Erin, and Cindy, who have taught her friendship is about loving and forgiving and laughing.
Mr. Huber who gave her a place to fit in and excel.
Cousins who thought she was cute instead of clingy.
Mrs. Howard, the librarian, who never tires of talking books and spoils Hannah by getting anything she requests.  
Ron Eberly who teaches her bible stories and how they apply to the life she is living today.

And Mr. Zimmerman. He saved Hannah this year. It might have been under the guise of math, but it was so much more. He gave her confidence. He helped her believe in herself. He brought her smile back again.


This community is a little like a spider web. The intricate design and precision enamors me. The beauty and strength of the thin threads is powerful. I think this is the way the body of Christ builds up one another. Each person a part of the web of believers who are building Hannah up so she can develop a remarkable faith.

This web is fragile and powerful all woven into a beautiful plan to build up one another. It takes a whole community to help a person become who they are made to be. Hannah has overcome a rocky past and is developing a remarkable faith because all kinds of people are woven into her story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Believe {34 of 40 Stories}



Click here for the backstory.

I take a deep breath before I open her bedroom door to turn out the lights, to say good night, to keep my mouth closed.

There are too many words that will be dangerous if they escape.

She smiles at me, eyes blue and rimmed with red because she has yelled and screamed and cried too much tonight. 

Just hug her. Just hug her. Just hug her. And get out before your tongue gets loose.

It is in the middle of my self-lecture that my toe catches her sandal strap and I trip, banging my already sore foot against her bed post.

How is it, that in a moment, my view flips? I quit seeing the sweet daughter who is doing her best to overcome and do the right thing and love. Instead I see a daughter who lies and manipulates and makes rotten excuses.

The words fly out before I remember the plan to hug her and get out. “What kind of shoes do we expect you to wear to school?” The words aren’t loud or unkind, but they cut straight to her heart. They say everything that is left unsaid: She didn’t get away with her lie today.

She yells until her face turns red and the water bottle is thrown on the floor and the tears come back.
It’s a little thing, wearing sandals to school in the snow without permission. She yells some more. It shouldn’t be a big deal. 

But it is… because of the
Sneaking,
Lying,
Twisting words,
Blaming, and
Trying to make it a problem that is not her own.

It happened last night, too. The sandals weren’t the inciting incident, something else was. Then there was the day before and the one before that and last week and last month, always something to sneak or lie or twist the truth.

It can wear a momma’s trust down to a wisp.

It’s about grace, Ruth. Grace.

I close my mouth. Kiss her forehead. “I love you.” I say it over her constant stream of too loud words and brush her hair away from her sweaty cheek. 

She pauses and I say it again, “I love you.” I hug her and get out.

I hate feeling like maybe she’s going to lie forever.

There was a woman in the Samaritan village of Sychar. She drew her water from the well in the middle of the day. It was strange to draw water in the heat of the day. For this woman, though, it was worth it. The discomfort of the heat didn’t even begin to compare to the hostile looks and snide remarks she would have to endure from the other women in the village if she gathered her water at the traditional times. She went to the well in the middle of the day so she could keep to herself.

She was surprised when the lone man spoke to her. He broke three Jewish customs: speaking to a woman; speaking to a Samaritan; and asking for a drink of water from her jar, which would make him ceremonially unclean. 

She was shocked as the conversation continued about faith and worship. He knew everything she ever did – all of the dirty secrets that brought her to the well in the middle of the day. 

He was kind to her and revealed, “I am the Messiah.”

The woman couldn’t contain herself. She returned to the village, telling everyone about Jesus. The village people found Jesus and convinced him to stay for two days and share his message.

The people believed.

Because Jesus first believed in the woman. She didn’t deserve his trust. She didn’t have it all together. She messed up. Again and again and again. Yet, Jesus believed in her.

I returned to Stephanie’s bedroom. She was almost asleep. I hugged her. She hugged hard, holding on to my neck and not letting go. “I’m sorry, Mom.”

“I know.”

“I don’t want to be like this.”

“I know.”

Her arms get tighter around my neck. I hold her. Rock her. Remind myself that this little girl has a lot to overcome. She doesn’t deserve my trust. She doesn’t have it all together. She messed up. Again and again and again.

“I believe in you,” I whisper in her ear. She snuggles into her pillow and I tuck the blanket around her. 

Just before I pull the door shut, I hear her say, “Thanks, Mom.”

Monday, April 14, 2014

Radical Faith = Stamina + Tenacity {33 of 40 Stories}

There is a force in this world that I don't like to acknowledge, but the truth is there is both good and evil at work. This force that I don't like to think about prefers for us to be worn and tattered. He prefers for us to feel run down and guilty and not-good-enough.

Because when we feel these things, it is harder to serve and love.

Jesus said, "Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me." (Matthew 12:30)

Sometimes I wonder why life is hard. Perhaps it's because I'm not working with God. How often do I work against God and not even know it?

I'm like Jonah and am blinded to the fact that my obedience makes a difference.
I'm like Peter and limit the grace and mercy of God.
I'm like Nicodemus and question how things of faith are possible.

Jesus said, "God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17)

Sometimes I wonder if I forget this Truth. Jesus was not sent to judge, but to save. How often do I make it about following the rules rather than love?

James reminds us, "You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?" (James 2:19-20)

It's not about doing good works to avoid evil. It's about serving and loving because that's how good wins. James is clear that there are forces in this world battling one another.  

Sometimes hard wins because I'm tattered and worn and I forget God is bigger. 
Sometimes hard wins because my heart is narrow and I forget to find the celebration.
Sometimes hard wins because I quit fighting and give up too soon.

Faith needs stamina.
Radical faith needs stamina + tenacity.

This week, this Holy Week, I'm choosing to cling to these words from Paul, "If God is for us, then who can ever be against us?" (Romans 8:3)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Friend Joe {32 of 40 Stories}

My friend Joe is teaching me how to pray. He's so good to me. Joe was at the top of my list of stories for Lent. I keep trying to write about him and the words keep failing me.

If you knew Joe, you'd understand. There are just some people who are impossible to capture in words -- no matter how much I try to make the words dance. I think this is a sign of a person who is completely sold out to Christ.

In a feeble attempt to capture Joe, I'm going to make a list of the important things about Joe.

  1. Joe loves Jesus. He has a lifetime of stories to prove Jesus is real and loving and powerful. I can't wait to hear one more story (or to listen to one again) because Joe's stories are precious gifts. I often wonder how I get to be so lucky to be trusted with his stories.
  2. Joe prays and God answers. He's teaching me to listen and develop a relationship with God so I can learn to pray into the will of God. He's teaching me to respond to the Holy Spirit.
  3. Joe prays for healing. Miracles happen when Joe prays. I know his prayers are instrumental in the healing of Andy and my children's souls.
  4. Joe knows God is big and he's helping me to change my perspective. Joe tells me not to put God in a box, because there's no box big enough to hold God.
  5. Joe knows what it's like to serve God in big, public ways. He was a leader in bridging racial tension within the Church in Chicago in the '60s. Joe knows what it's like to serve God while being in the limelight.
  6. Joe knows what it's like to serve God in private ways, too. He knows how to walk away from opportunities the world would say are "once in a lifetime" because God has another plan for him.
  7. Joe knows how to be sensitive to the needs of those around him, because Joe is sensitive to the Spirit.
  8. Joe's faith grows every day. Every. Single. Day. He knows Jesus more today than he did last week and he will know Jesus better tomorrow. He inspires me to grow closer to Jesus every single day too.
  9. Joe has a special wife. Janice compliments him perfectly. When they tell stories together it is a real treat.
  10. Joe teaches me it's okay to be bold in my faith. It's okay to shine and it is definitely okay to leap.
Joe calls me Ruthie. There are only three people in the world who I let call me Ruthie; I wouldn't want Joe to call me anything else. Joe is teaching me how to pray, but he is teaching me so much more. Someday, maybe, I'll be able to capture him in words.

Click here for the backstory.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How to find the celebration {31 of 40 Stories}

"I am angry enough to die." These words take my breath away. Although you might imagine a child saying these words, in the midst of a tantrum, these particular words were spat by a man. A man, who when questioned by those getting to know him, identified himself as a Hebrew and a worshiper of the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land. A man who ran away from God.

Jonah.

A man with a narrow heart.

The Lord sent him to Nineveh to give the city a warning. When Jonah finally delivered the message, the city repented. They changed their ways. When God saw what they did and how they turned from the evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

And Jonah was greatly displeased. He became angry and said, "I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now O' Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

Wait a minute -- Jonah is mad because God showed mercy? As I read these lines, I picture a little kid on the play ground, thumbs in ears and fingers splayed, and chanting, I was right and you were wrong! I was right and you were wrong!

God lets him. He lets Jonah pout. Then at one point he sends a vine to offer shade for Jonah. That night a bug chewed through the vine and it started to die. It withered completely in the sun the following day.

Jonah wails, "I am angry enough to die."

This man whose identity lies in the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land, is angry and disgruntled and totally missing the celebrations.

He had comfortable shade for a day. All he sees in the shriveled vine the following day.

He was sent to save the important city of Nineveh. Without Jonah it would have been destroyed. All he sees is his wasted trip.

He was saved from the sea, protected by a fish, and then lived to tell about it. All he sees is the inconvenience of running from God.

It's interesting, however, that Jonah found celebration in the belly of the fish -- from the depths of the grave I called for help and you listened to my cry.

Yet in his ordinary life he completely misses the celebration.

I'm learning it is a  process of expanding the heart in order to find the celebration. When our hearts are narrow, it is difficult to find the celebration. It might be because we only have a tiny window through which we are working. As our hearts expand, we get a bigger view of the world. We begin to see through new eyes and we are able to find the celebrations.

CELEBRATE This Week: XXVI


I'm glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter.

******

 Here's my celebration:

I'm the kind of mom who can load up her four kids and drive across several states -- more than 8 hours -- to visit her in-laws in Tennessee. We had fun and remained joyful and there were no blow ups or melt downs.


Friday, April 11, 2014

BIG Grace {30 of 40 Stories}



Click here for the backstory.
Cornelius has been on my mind today. In the early days after Jesus was crucified and God sent the Holy Spirit, the disciples were out and preaching, trying to make sense of this shift in the way God communicated with them. 

Just like humans today, the disciples were prejudice. It seems they thought they had it all figure out. They knew the kinds of people who were acceptable for God’s grace and mercy. They knew the kinds of people the Holy Spirit would move through and in.

Cornelius did not measure up. He was a soldier and a Gentile. Yet, God called Peter to share his message with Cornelius. 

From his childhood, Peter had been taught what was clean and unclean to eat. This is why the vision God gave Peter was a little disconcerting to Peter. Moments after his vision, Peter was invited to go to Cornelius’ home. Not only was he going to enter the home and share fellowship with an “unclean” person, he was also called to preach the gospel and offer the grace of Jesus. 

Cornelius wasn’t the only one who was going to have his world rocked.

Many of the believers in the early church believed God’s grace was only big enough for them. Unfortunately this is an issue among today’s believers too. We listen to Amazing Grace and sing about being saved wretches and, yet, when faced with those who are a different kind of wretched, we turn our backs (or maybe our noses).

It was time for Peter to get a bigger vision of God’s grace, as well as an expanded heart. Through Peter’s encounter with Cornelius, it became clear that no one is beyond God’s grace, regardless of position or race. Jesus loves everyone and the Holy Spirit can move through anyone who accepts the Savior who ransomed each of us.

I’ve been listening to Chris Tomlin’s version of Amazing Grace every morning and night. I thought you might enjoy it too.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Abba, Salvage This {29 of 40 Stories}


Click here for the backstory.
Have you ever tugged on a string hanging off of your sweater and suddenly the entire hem of the sweater is unraveled? I did that on a blanket once. I tugged on a string and it started to unravel. Even when I cut the string, a few days later it was hanging off and I'd tug on it, only to start the whole thing unraveling again. One little tug and the whole thing turned into a big tangled mess. Eventually it ended up in the trash can. The blanket was hopeless. It was a goner.

That's what happened to tonight.  It was a beautiful night. The weather perfect. Sam flying a balsa wood airplane. Hannah reading a book on the back porch, watching the sun set. Stephanie and Jordan fishing with live bait. It was the kind of evening you don't want to end, so after dinner, instead of starting the whole bath, book, bed routine, I gave in to their pleas for more time outside. After all, it is spring break and we are visiting grandparents, but have to leave tomorrow.

Perhaps this is the string that I shouldn't have tugged. 

My in-laws and I eat my homemade from scratch banana cream pie while they play and fish and read. It could have been a scene out of a movie -- it was that perfect. Until...the next thing I know, Hannah is rolling her eyes a stomps away because she is more teenager than sweet little girl. Then Steph catches a fish, but Jordan points out it's just one of the minnows they are using for bait. She insists that it's a catch.

Jordan sighs, "Whatever, Stephanie," and casts. The only problem is he's standing too close to Stephanie and catches his hook in her hair.

Did I mention they were using live bait?

She screams. He laughs. I say, "Okay, time to get in the shower."

And it went downhill from there. Inside, they aren't getting in the showers. I watch them go to the bathroom, but then a few minutes later they are arguing on the steps or they are reading in the hallway or they are digging through the almost packed suitcase that now needs packed again.

It is unraveling, heading into one tangled mess. Andy isn't here to pull it together. I'm on my own. The only consoling thought is at least Andy's parents have went on an errand so they aren't going to see how quickly a perfect evening can collapse into disaster.

I close my eyes and wonder if I'm going to be caught in the mess, frayed and tattered. Then I am reminded that I know how to stop the unwinding.

I breathe a prayer, Abba, salvage tonight.

Abba Father is God as Daddy. Like all dads, He doesn't want us unraveling. In the moment of my prayer, he pinched the string. It stopped unraveling. He put it in perspective. I smiled, giggled a little. Then Hannah appeared, showered and smiling. "Can I help you, Mom?"

I looked at her for a moment. She is 12. I think it must mean some moments she's a teenager and some moments she's sweet little girl. Apparently each persona can come and go in an instant. I'm not warm and friendly when I say, "I need the kind of help where I tell someone what to do and they do it and then come ask for what to do next. I don't need the kind of help where someone sighs when I ask them to do something, or they pretend to do it but really are just causing problems."

She hugs me. After that little tirade, she hugs me. "I'm your girl," she says. "What do you want me to do first."

Somehow the kitchen is cleaned and the bags are packed and the laundry is started. Stephanie and Jordan are in bed and Sam showers -- even washing his hair with shampoo! -- and Hannah brings her book to me and says, "This is a great book. Can I read a little more even though it's past bedtime?"

I smile and hug her. "Sure, go read with Sam in my room."

I find them, later snuggled in a big bed, each reading their own books. They look up when they hear me at the door. "Hi Mom!"

"We really like being a family," Sam says.

"That's what we were just talking about a minute ago," Hannah says. "We like being a family. Sometimes people get mad or they aren't pleasant (like you always say instead of mad), but at the end of the day, we are glad we're together."

Me too.

I'm learning life, when lived to the fullest, is almost always a moment away from unraveling. We live at the tipping point between pure chaos and pure blessing.

I will remember Psalm 118:6, The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Love Wins {28 of 40 Stories}

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow -- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below -- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Love wins is a mantra of sorts for me. It has served me well.

When marriage is hard...love wins.
When parenting is hard...love wins.
When family stuff is hard...love wins.
When friendship is rocky...love wins.

Love wins.

Love always wins because there is nothing, nothing at all,  more powerful.

Click here for the backstory.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

It's Not About Luck {27 of 40 Stories}

When people learn Andy and I adopted most of our children when they were older, there's always a story. I hear stories that start like this...

My neighbor's daughter adopted a 12 year old.
My sister's husband's best friend adopted a 5 year old and 6 year old sibling group.
My aunt decided to adopt some foster kids after her kids went to college.
These people at my brother's church adopted an 8 year old.

I used to get excited. I love story. I love story inspired by my story. I love story inspired by my story that is one of love and family.

Perhaps that's why these stories always sting. Because after these opening lines told by a seatmate on an airplane, a woman in the waiting room at a doctor's office, a guest teacher at school, and sometimes a friend, they are followed with something like...

And it was a disaster.

I've learned to say nothing. The storyteller feels uncomfortable, as if they just realized in a single breath they undermined my family, and then mumble something like, It's a really nice thing you're doing for those kinds of kids. They are lucky.

It's the lucky line I wait for, because I know I can say something back that isn't going to get me the Wicked Witch award for eternity.

I usually begin with, "Let me tell you about luck..."

My kids teach me how to be a survivor and not a victim.
My kids teach me how to overcome difficult circumstances.
My kids teach me it is possible to choose happy.
My kids teach me to stand up for yourself.
My kids teach me change is a choice.
My kids teach me resiellence.
My kids teach me grace.
My kids teach me free will.
My kids teach me love.

Above all, my kids teach me the healing power of the One who made them.

God does not make mistakes.

 It's not about luck at all.

Andy and I understand it's not about our comfort and easy life style. Parenting is hard, no matter the history of your kids. So, we face the challenges that come with raising kids, and we face some other challenges that come with raising kids who have been hurt before, and we face some more challenges that come with raising kids who have to cycle through the attachment process at an older age.

We pray they remember only what they need in order to know how big God is. We pray they remember they were made for a purpose. We pray they allow healing to happen and they cling to love.

They will be healed in childhood. The healing process is anything but puppies and butterflies. It is downright ugly. For them to be healed in childhood, it means we are going to walk straight through the thick of it.

We live Psalm 23. It is the guidebook for anyone who is raising kids. I cling to its promises.

This is why adopting older kids is not disaster. Rather, it is a beautiful picture of unending love and true family.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Glimpse of Grace {26 of 40 Stories}



Click here for the backstory.

There was a vineyard owner who went out early in the morning to hire people to work for him. He promised them a day’s wage, and then sent them into the vineyard. A few hours later he hired more people to help, promising a fair wage. Later in the day he rounded up another group to work in the vineyards, and promised to pay whatever was right.. Again, when it was almost time to quit work, he did the same thing.

When the sun set, he asked his foreman to pay all of the workers, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first. Those who worked a small amount of time were paid first, earning an entire day’s wage. The workers who were hired first, watched all of those in front of them being paid a full day’s wage. These workers, the ones who labored in the vineyard all day long, began to get excited. The owner was a generous man, giving everyone a day’s wage even though they didn’t work an entire day. Surely they would make more money than promised!

Imagine their happy energy when they finally got to the front of the line. They worked hard all day and now they couldn’t wait to see how much money they would be given. Perhaps it would be doubled or tripled or maybe more since they worked longer than everyone else before them in line.

But each one of them also received a day's wage.

They grumbled – my how they grumbled…It’s not fair! These men hired last made the same amount to those of us who have been here all day. We did most of the work and toiled through the heat of the day.

The vineyard owner responded, “Friends, I am not being unfair. Did you agree to work for a day’s wage? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Jesus was the first to tell this story. He ended it with these words, “So the last will be first and the first will be last.”

It’s a story designed to show His amazing grace. It doesn’t matter how  much we mess up, or how imperfect we are, or how far we  think we have to go in comparison to the other mother or other teacher or other friend or other Christian, at the end of the day, he will offer us all the same – we each get His unending love.

Sometimes I get frustrated when our kids who we adopted when they were older question whether I love them as much as the son we adopted at birth.  There is no comparison. I love them each more than I ever thought possible, I love them each more every time they breathe.

I wonder if Jesus gets frustrated when I question whether I’m good enough, when I question whether He can use me. It makes me begin to understand the grace Jesus was talking about in this story. Each worker got the best for the day, no matter when they started. Each of my children get the most love I can give, no matter when they joined the family. As for me, I can have amazing grace, no matter how much I mess up.

We all can.