Sunday, February 26, 2012

Shadow and Light

I was born with a congenital eye disorder called nystagmus, so the ordeal that is getting one's eyes dilated has been part of many memories of my childhood.  If you've never had the pleasure of getting this done, it starts with the doctor putting some drops in your eyes and then waiting around in a dark-ish room for about half an hour or so.   Once your pupils are enlarged, the doctor is able look at the interior of your eye to see the optic nerve.  This is great for eye health, not so great for you when you leave that dark-ish room.

The phrase "blinding light" has never been so true as when you walk into the doctor's office waiting room.  But that's only a warm-up for when you walk out into the sunlight outside.  It's painful.  Keeping your eyes open is next to impossible.  There is simply so much light coming into your eye, you cannot see clearly.

I've had the chance to have a few conversations in the past week that illustrate the truth of this reality of the interaction of darkness and light.  Two of them lost children far too early.  But, I suppose that's the only way to lose a child -- far too early.  Another recently lost a parent.  And another is going through a divorce.

The gist of all four conversations boiled down to the agreement that tragedy magnifies joy.  Not at first of course, but over time the shadow of loss makes the light of blessing so much brighter.

That might not even be the right way to say it, because really the light itself doesn't change, does it?

 The sunlight isn't measurably more intense when I walk out of the doctor's office, my eyes are just more sensitive to it.  The beauty of a baby, of a child, of friendship, of faith are not changed in the instant you experience loss or the moment tragedy makes its way into your life, you just appreciate it more.  You recognize the gift in it all.

And by you seeing the Light, the Gift, you have the opportunity to share those new eyes with others.  The place that you find your wounds are somehow transformed into a place of healing.  The patient becomes the doctor.  The one who cowered in the shadow becomes the one who basks in the Light.



"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort."  
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cherished

A crazy (in the truest sense of the word) set of circumstances this evening left me feeling a spectrum of emotions.  I was desperately sad, angry, bewildered, and incredulous all at once.  I'm not going to share the events behind all of that, because it's not my story to tell.

What I will share are some pictures of my girls enjoying some Valentine's Day candy on the driveway this afternoon (before crazy came to town). At the bottom of that emotional rainbow for me tonight was and is love.  Love most magnified tonight for my girls and for Jeff.  And gratefulness for our Life and for God's Grace.  I am somewhat hesitant as I type those things, because I don't mean that I am better than anyone else or above having crazy circumstances create turmoil in my own life.  Those things couldn't' be further from the truth.  The Truth is that I am not above any of the mire that so many in my world face each day, I'm just thankful that I have One who has asked me to allow Him to carry my burdens.  Matthew 11:28-30.




These girls are cherished.  I pray that God gives me the Grace to never let them forget that fact.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat baby in a costume skirt

Camille has already been roped into the dress-up game that goes on in our house on a daily basis.  Today she was in a 3T leotard over her clothes and I could kick myself for not getting a picture of that ensemble. I did manage to snap a few shots of her in the Barbie Fairy Secret skirt over her pajamas the other night.

Dressing up an 18 month old is always good for a laugh, right?




Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras!

On Friday I took the girls to a neighborhood parade in Baton Rouge.  Unfortunately, it is the only parade we've been able to make it to this year.  But all three of the girls had a great time and the weather was good, so no complaints from any of us!  

Charlotte was showered with beads as she stood waving in wonder at everyone who passed, Caroline danced, shouted, and jumped her little heart out and had an extremely heavy bag and a prized fake flower to show for it.  Camille spent the entire time wide-eyed, dancing to the music in my arms.

It's a little dark, but here's a little taste of our Friday night fun!

video


video

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dancing queens

Last night Caroline pulled out a pair of hand-me-down tap shoes to give them a try and she and Charlotte had to perform a little for the camera: Happy Friday friends!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some Mean Singing

Caroline tried out for the first school-wide variety show about a week ago.  She had originally wanted to dance and sing to a song from Tangled, but time got away from us and we weren't able to practice enough  for her to feel comfortable doing it.  Instead, she decided to give it a try singing a Taylor Swift song, which, since she already knows all the words to most of the songs on her latest album, didn't take too much practice.  So, she tried out singing Mean; and because parents weren't allowed in the auditorium while the kids tried out, I had no clue how it went.  Caroline felt good about it though, so we were proud of her for trying out and pleasantly surprised when she was selected to perform.  The variety show was last night and I couldn't be prouder of her for being so brave and performing her heart out.  We are so blessed by her school, the way the teachers, families, and school environment inspire the kids and give them the confidence the skills to act, sing, dance, and use all of the creative capacity God has given them.

Here's our little Taylor Swift:

Friday, February 03, 2012

Curls

Camille has been a little sick this week, so I stayed hone with her on Thursday.  Even though she was sick, it was such a treat.  I rarely spend extended periods of time with her alone, so watching her play and playing with her while her sisters were gone was wonderful.  It wasn't all a joy-filled day though, when she was running a high fever, she was very clingy and fussy.  Hopefully she's on the mend.  And if not, we'll be meeting up with the doctor for the weekend office hours.

When we were playing (and Camille was feeling well), I was struck by her curls.  Neither of my other girls had curls like this, so seeing those little blond ringlets at the nape of her neck bring a smile to my face every single time.







Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Abandoned?

A couple of months ago I read a two-part post that Angie Smith wrote about the apostle Peter.  Those posts came back to mind after a conference speaker this past weekend also spoke about the life, personality, and ministry of the apostle.  The combination of the two brought me to look back for myself to the words in John 21 this week.  I encourage you read it too just to get the overall sense.

Here's the background:  Immediately leading up to this chapter, Peter has denied Jesus three times right before Jesus's crucifixion,  Jesus has died and was buried.  Side-note:  I think it's interesting to note that Peter had cut off the ear of a Roman guard in defense of Jesus only hours before he claimed he never knew him.  And when pressed, he emphatically denied being Jesus' follower.  This little glimpse gives you a sense for Peter's nature

In the beginning of chapter 21, Peter, John, and several other disciples  have gone out fishing after Jesus died and they thought (naturally) that Jesus was gone; going back to what they did before they were called by Him.  Maybe they went back to what they knew out of necessity,  and I'm taking a little interpretive license here - but maybe out of disappointment?  Maybe for Peter it was out of shame.  Maybe out of a place --and this take on it hits close to home for me --of self-sufficiency, that pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality that can be really destructive in our spiritual lives.  Perhaps they went back to fishing thinking:  If He wasn't the One, if His promises weren't true, then I better get back to depending on myself.  Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that they went back to the thing they knew.

So, they were out fishing, unsuccessfully mind you, but back in their comfort zones, and Jesus appears on shore.  I find it somewhat interesting that John - the one Jesus loved (the one who KNEW Jesus loved him, identified himself as the one Jesus loved) recognized Jesus first, but impetuous Peter was the first to jump in and swim to Him.

One of Angie's posts tells the story well from there - there's a fire, fish, and redemption in the truest, most merciful illustration I know.  It's in the midst of that redemption and restoration that  Jesus reminds Peter that fishing in the Sea of Galilee wasn't the story Jesus was writing for Peter.  Back when he called Peter, Jesus declared -perhaps to the complete amazement of all who knew him --that Peter was and would be the Rock.  I imagine those who knew Peter thought, seriously?  Jesus, do you know anything about this man?  Peter is the epitome of all or nothing.  He is your fiercest defender. Until he denies that ever knew you, right?   And of course, Jesus did know all of this.  He knew what Peter was, but even more so, He knew who he was making Peter to be.

In spite or -- because of? -- all of this, that story that Jesus was writing was not going to be deterred or derailed -- even by Peter's three-time denial of the Lord.  Though Peter went back to what he knew before he was called by Jesus because of  his shame, or out of necessity or desperation, Jesus did not abandon the story He had for Peter.

He drew him back to that story in Love, Grace, and Mercy.

Forgive me if I'm assuming too much here, but I imagine the same story rings true in some way in your life.

Surely you felt called to a bigger story, perhaps to writing, sharing, drawing others in before you were even aware of the way the Lord would use those things for His Gory.  Though you didn't know it at the time, you can look back on the road God led you along and see that God always had a story for you.

 You may have denied, seemed to derail, tried to fill in the blanks, go back to the comfort, to the easier path, maybe you just missed it for years -- but He has never abandoned your story.  He has never abandoned the story He has for you.  Deuteronomy 4:31.

In the same way that people must have wondered what Jesus was thinking to call Peter a Rock in the first place, and without question must have thought His Restoration of Peter on the shore of Galilee was ill-advised -- maybe you've had doubters along your road -- maybe you've been your own doubter -- rest assured dear friend that His eyes see you as He saw Peter:  His image-bearer who will display His Glory in spite of and because of the journey He's walked with you.