My Kind of Camping

Psalm 34: 7

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”

When you feel like you haven’t ever belonged and it takes almost nothing for you to get pushed back into that category? When loneliness creeps in and you’re afraid that life will never get easier? When you feel the pull of worldly pleasures and it tells you it will never let up? When you believe that loving people will always come back to haunt and hurt you?

The truth is, we all need a Deliverer.

I used to think deliverance was for people with addictions, bad marriages, abusive relationships. But it’s also for people with sin. And we believe the lie that we don’t struggle with that. Really.

Trust me, as long as we are here on this planet, we will always need to be delivered from something.

“Delivers: pull off, strip, depart, equip (for fight), present, strengthen, offer, plunder, rescue, withdraw (from a crowd, as in Hosea 5:6).

Do these definitions of “deliver” seem odd to you? I have to admit that most of those words are not the first ones to come to mind when I think of that word. Sometimes, God’s deliverance could look like anything but deliverance??

Pull off? Strip away? Depart?? Withdraw? How could that possibly be a rescue?

Superman is supposed to show up and save the day. Not go on vacation to the Bahamas.

Consider this. Maybe God will pull off a habit that has leeched itself to you so you can further meet your calling. He might strip a friendship from your life that He knows would harm you longterm. He might bring deliverance from jealousy or hurt by withdrawing you from a crowd. He may tell our resources to depart until He is all we have left. He may offer an alternate route or another opinion so the path becomes more clear. He may plunder the enemy without us lifting a finger. Or not.

He may graciously equip us for the battle instead of removing the battle. 

He may present new opportunities or new ventures. New facts. Ideas. Dreams.

And sometimes, the only deliverance we need is to know that He is present. And oh, what a deliverance that is!! All it takes is awareness of the Presence of our Daddy that saves us from ourselves, from the need for vindication, retaliation, or approval.

He is all you need. Your cure for loneliness. Your approval fix. Your Highest pleasure. Your belonging.

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”

Gazing at My Father

It can seem like the craziest thing in the world.

Breathing thanks as the tornado rips apart your house. Giving thanks for something that you want to curse. Being grateful for the pain? Who in their right mind?!

And yet, every time my eyes rest on the page it jumps up and slaps me. Or maybe it’s the pain that slaps me all over again and I wonder how I could ever be thankful for the thing that daily steals my joy and stabs down deep. But  when I read again, hoping that it’s gone, I find that it’s not only there but it screams louder.

Obedience doesn’t require sight in order to work. In fact, blind faith is actually rewarded more. I can have a portion of Abraham’s faith when I go, being told, but not understanding. Faith is imputed to my account when I can walk confidently without seeing the stepping stone in front of me.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

So what about this day?  A happy day for those who have their dads. A sad day for those who don’t. A grateful day for those who have a great relationship with their dad. A hard day for those who don’t.

So, for those “who don’t”? Yep. This day counts, too. And maybe counts more than the other 364 days combined. Because God knows it’s tough. And mark my words… He knows how it feels. There was a time when He was estranged from His Father. And that pain was worse than the beating and nails and crown of thorns and death. But in the face of fresh pain, He was not detoured.

Because He knew that without His pain, we could not live. His death harnessed life. Do we ask to share in His sufferings like Paul did? So that we can bring glory to God? That is the ultimate goal.

When we can stop asking how we can make the pain stop and start asking how we can glorify God through this? Yes… this is when life begins to be abundant life. Our eyes off ourselves and our eyes on Him… there is no other place I’d rather fix my gaze.

When you feel estranged from someone you love, know that being engaged with Christ is worth far more.

And when you’re gearing up to celebrate with your dad, remember your heavenly Dad’s sacrifice so that you could have the life you live.

If you’re in both of those categories or neither, I hope that this 3 minutes and 25 seconds will put your gaze where it needs to be and change your perspective to what will pay dividends: God and gratitude. Hand in hand.

“He Knows My Name”

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn’t choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I’d understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that’s just not my story
True to who You are
You saw my heart
and made
Something out of nothing
I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my nameI’m not meant to just stay quiet
I’m meant to be a lion
I’ll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I’ve got
True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothingHe calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King,

His forever, held in treasure…
I am loved

I don’t need my name in lights…
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes…

Cream cheese & Sugar

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The strawberry heads fell one by one into the sink with a thump. I stared out the window in between slicing to see the dog bounding across the grass on his way to who-knows-where. I felt strangely out of place… like maybe he had an advantage on me because he didn’t mind not knowing where he was going. I spend so much of my day clamoring and grasping for plans, counting hours and minutes and hoping to make everything work. just. right.

Just when it seems that I’m happy with where I’m going and where I’m at, someone makes a comment or a kind suggestion or simply asks a question and I’m undone. Or someone else is pregnant and when am I going to have a baby? Or I start working out and I’m satisfied with my body and then someone wants to tell me about their new diet and I feel guilty all over again. And just when I finally become content with the place I live and not building a house, then the friend buys a big darling house with a huge yard and a garbage disposal and a dishwasher and I’m back to wanting more than this. Is it possible that as long as the enemy can keep us bouncing from one fire to another, putting out the flames and squelching the passion, that he can keep us from the ultimate victory?

I picked out the best largest and sturdiest strawberries and placed them in a separate bowl. I wished that I could pick a carton up at the store that had all the same size and freshness of the season. Instead, I find myself buying three or four cartons just to satisfy my need. If I am going to fill them with cheesecake icing, they must be strong so I can hull out the center, and the bottom half must be just ripe enough or it will smash easily.

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See, I want to be the big and sturdy berry. I carefully plan my life so that my appearance is firm and my house is fresh and I stand tall in a world that needs to find fulfillment. I want to be the one to give them the answer. But I’m so often beat up by my own sin and poor choices and distracted from the Bible study that helps me grow and I turn out to be a midget Christian with soft sides who can’t even hold my own weight. There might be some room for the sweetness of God to penetrate me, but I’m so full of other rottenness that the sour taste remains. The more control I desire, the less control I have. And when situations buoy out of my control or I find that I have no power to make someone perform {that could be me}, I buckle under the disappointment of losing control and I come face to face with the fact that I have made an idol. I craved control and power and influence and all it got me was humble pie.

I set the bowl of small and weak berries in the refrigerator. I could eat them for breakfast with my Cheerios in the morning, but they wouldn’t do for my project. They were useful, but not for what I intended them to be. It is embarrassing to admit that I’ve made a god out of something, anything. I claim that God is the only god I serve, but when I can’t live without something, it tells on me. I know that I’m useful in the Kingdom, but I also realize I’m not exactly who God intended for me to be. The enemy loves to remind me of this and make me feel defeated. He wants me to look at my problems and feel hopeless. He wants me to focus on my shortcomings and feel dumb. And my mind has no hard time going along with it. But when I can just look straight into the face of my Savior, He reminds me that every day is a fresh start to becoming who He and I both want me to be.

The cream cheese and powdered sugar and vanilla blend in the bowl until the mixture is creamy. I pipe it into each strawberry. Each berry requires a different amount, depending on size, strength, and how much I was able to hew out of the center. I was proud of the big sturdy berries. They displayed well and would surely be the first chosen. The smaller, weaker ones didn’t stand up by themselves and I knew they would be battered and in pieces as everyone dug for those around them. But I knew that those smaller berries would be the ones that I would scoop up at the end of the evening, turn my spoon upside down over my tongue, and savor. Because the smaller the berry, the more the cream cheese flavor would stand out.

And I am reminded that the weaker we are, the stronger God can be seen and tasted in my life. The ugly truth is that I can’t change people. I often can’t change situations. But not being in control doesn’t mean that I don’t have influence. And it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t require of me every little step of obedience even in my place of seeming insignificance. He checks my attitude and tries my motives and watches for where I put my time, attention, and effort. He rewards accordingly. And He reminds me that it’s not up to me to change the world.

It’s up to me to change me.

So I put Him back on the rightful throne and take myself off. I let HIM be the one to judge others and do justice, not me. I let HIM punish others and not me. I let HIM affect my mood and attitude and actions, not others. And I take the higher road of not being in control, but of being controlled by the One controls my destiny.

I thank Him that when I was living in sin {yesterday}, He lived in grace and I inherited His sinlessness.

After everyone else picks the big, strong kids for their kickball team, I’d like to think that God scoops me up and savors me because I’ve leaned on Him when I wasn’t strong enough to stand on my own two feet. When I was yet without strength, He chose me and put me on His team. And Coach doesn’t kick me off the team even when I’m a poor player and I let Him down. And when I wander away from the game, He invites me back.

I pipe the last of the strawberries and gently place the lid on top. I suddenly feel light again since casting my burden on Him. I think I could go bounding through the yard after the dog. After all, you never know what you might find when you are willing to let go and travel on an adventure with God. Knowing that He knows the destination allows me to take my hands off the wheel and sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

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Tonight. Just me and God. We laughed. We cried. We shared a coke and a small waffle fry at Chick-Fil-A.

I wish I could tell you that we had this date night planned for days or weeks in advance. But the sad truth is: It. Just. Happened.

And to continuing my heritage of honesty, I’ll even tell you that I wasn’t happy about it. In fact, I was more along the lines of unhappy.

The sheets we registered for were top of the line. 400 thread count. Beautiful Egyptian cotton. Less than three years old. And I won’t tell you how much they cost, but I’ll tell you this much: they were a penny short of $130. I would never have purchased these for myself, but I have the best family in the world and they bought it for me. And through two bed transitions, they have brought wonderful sleep. They have managed to drape over a “large full/small queen” (whatever that is) and most recently, have snuggly covered a California King. We have been pleased.

That is, until yesterday. When I found an enormous tear in the fitted sheet. I almost cried. After a small panic episode, I texted my friend who used to work at the factory that popped out these pretties. (I won’t tell you where they came from, but when she worked there, she always hash tagged #bbbprobs.) She encouraged me to take them back to the store.

I assumed I could sleep on them at least another week until I would be heading that way, but this morning the hole was twice its size. So, all day, I have been planning a trip to a town yonder to beg these wonderful triple B’s to be so gracious as to swap them out with only a gift receipt and an expired bridal registry print-out.

I knew better than to ask my husband to skip basketball with the guys for sheets (who needs to sleep when you can come home with a black eye?). My sister-in-law is very prego and was not up for an hour and a half round trip ride. Another friend was having a cook out with her in-laws. Another had a graduation party. One was in a play. A dozen had kids and they didn’t have time in order to find childcare. Two friends didn’t text back.

I heard the Whisper. But I kept pushing it out of my head. Ministry is my first priority. I need to find someone to encourage.

In the meantime, I pouted and pity-partied and pleaded with my husband to remind me who my real friends were. “They’re just as busy as you.” He made perfect sense. But that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear that I wasn’t valuable. No one liked me. Everyone wanted me when I could help them, but no one just wanted to be. my. friend.

And the sick thing is that hearing those words spoken out loud would have strangely comforted me. Because my mind has been telling me that since childhood, and it’s frankly exhausting to spend so much energy trying to prove my mind wrong. Some days, my soul begs me to give in. Over the years, it’s deception has sunk into my heart and I have come to believe it.

But the Whisper didn’t let up. It kept getting louder. And still, pulling out of the driveway, I was going through my mental list of people that I could call to hang out with me at the last minute. The fact that I was bored and didn’t have something planned was so unusual that doing something spontaneous was VERY out of my comfort zone. I didn’t like it at all.

I finally spoke to the Whisper and said, “Okay, God. Just you and me.” I exhaled slowly. It was an awkward silence like the initial three minutes of a first date. Not because we hadn’t talked recently, and not because we didn’t like each other, but because we both knew that He was my last choice. I spent all day trying to find a companion and He was there all along. And yet, that didn’t seem as “worthy” as being with a human would be.

And herein lies one of the greatest deceptions of the enemy. Ministering involves other humans. But God created man because HE wanted communion with a person. The God of the Universe… wants us. Ministering to God is perhaps one of the most ignored forms of worship, because we have believed the lie that we are ONLY AS VALUABLE AS PEOPLE SAY WE ARE.

What if we believed that we were what God said we were?

“His treasured possession.” (Malachi 3:17)

“Fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

“I have engraved you on the palms of My Hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)

“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)

And so, I sang. Loud. And as I opened the sunroof and my heart, He opened my eyes to see mountain ranges all around me and breathtaking clouds. It was the never-ending sunset. I came home close to nine and there was still light in the sky making the most magnificent pictures. It’s a wonder I didn’t crash because I couldn’t take my eyes of the pictures He painted for me.

And a smile tugged at the corners of my lips. “You did this on purpose. You tore my sheets on purpose just to get two hours with me.” And I felt loved and treasured and sheepish.

The sheets were replaced, and I got a new design and color to boot, along with 650 thread count. I thought I’d better up the ante. We clearly like to sleep. Or, be in bed. I stopped at Chick-Fil-A to use a free coupon, but didn’t read the fine print. I thought chicken sandwiches would be a universal menu option at a chicken restaurant, but apparently it is specific to breakfast. So, I stuck with fries and a coke.

And we are already planning our next date night. And I heard Him ask me, “Now wasn’t that fun?” “Yes, Lord. I had a blast.” “Am I good enough for you? Without anyone else or their pleasant opinions of you?” And I couldn’t reply. Because we both knew He was right. And I was embarrassed that I had to prove my love for Him.

And I remembered Peter after the resurrection when Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him. I don’t believe the number was coincidental considering the three times Peter had denied Him just days prior. After He had secured his love, He then said, “Feed my sheep.”

Until we learn how to love the Shepherd and minister to Him, we will not be very effective in loving His sheep.

Until we learn how to eat waffle fries with God, we won’t be able to feed His children with the Bread of Life. We may never know the balance between ministering to Him and to His people. But, He will probably let us know in His own creative way. Perhaps when no one answers their phone or returns texts or shows interest or has time to spare. We can choose to take it personally, or we can take a compliment and turn our ear towards our Lover who is pursuing and wooing us.

And, plus, I’m pretty sure He took all the calories out of my fries. Can your friends do that?ImageImageImage

Take five minutes to remember what you felt when you first fell in love.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-ZX9P8lJps

Day after day
I try to explain You
Like I can contain You in so many words
You are the ocean
And I’m on the shoreline
Thinking I know You like You could be learned

It’s so amazing that You’d ever save me

I thought I knew Your face
I thought I tasted grace
But I had never felt anything close to this
Just when I’d seen it all
New mercy breaks the dawn
With my eyes open wide
It feels like the first time, first time
It feels like the first time, first time

After all of my searching
All of my reaching
I’m left with nothing
Nothing of worth
You treasure the broken
Over and over
Give me a hope that could never be earned

It’s still amazing that You’d ever save me

I thought I knew Your face
I thought I tasted grace
But I had never felt anything close to this
Just when I’d seen it all
New mercy breaks the dawn
With my eyes open wide
It feels like the first time, first time
It feels like the first time, first time

Your beauty no eye has seen
Your majesty overwhelming
Your love for me is healing oh God

I thought I knew Your face
I thought I tasted grace
But it was nothing like this
Just when I’d seen it all
New mercy breaks the dawn
With my eyes open wide
I feel alive for the first time, first time
Just like the first time, first time

I can see for the first time, first time
Feels just like the first time

 

 

No relationship comes close to what we have with our Savior. Don’t let the love grow cold. Don’t forget to worship Him. Don’t forget to tell Him you love Him. Don’t forget to hold onto Him in the good times and bad times. Don’t forget what it feels like to be in love.

You’re Beautiful

“I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say 
You’re beautiful. 

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring 
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful
I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful.”

Phil Wickham

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the monster we call self

For far too long we have blamed someone or something else for being unhappy.

Even once removing myself from environments that used control and power as a crutch, I have found that ingrained in me is a spirit of disatisfaction. And so we cling to people we think we need to make us happy and clutch possessions that we think will provide what we finally believe will fill that void and we shove more delicacies into our mouths hoping that icecream will be the ticket to happiness.

Yet all too often we come up short and we still don’t get it. We still stuff and cling and grasp and clutch and hope that we win the lottery even though we don’t play. And yet Jesus says that to have life is to lose it. Where does grasping come into play when we’re supposed to be loosing everything? We bind instead of loosing. We cling instead of letting go. We demand instead of conceding. And we wonder why we aren’t happy.

It is much easier to focus on the things that make us “unhappy”– the circumstances that aren’t how we would choose them or the people who annoy the ever-loving fire out of us or the politics that lie or the money that never seems to be enough. So the dishes in the sink and the hollowed-out strawberries in the refrigerator waiting for cheesecake stuffing and the grass on the floor can become so overwhelming that we miss that we are eating- and not hungry- and tasting yumminess -with friends who love us- and mowing -in beautiful long-awaited weather. For every negative there seems to be a positive and yet human nature desires that we focus on what we can complain about. Whining never changed anything.

Unless you count the monster it makes of us.

So as I walk around and tidy my bookstore and regain order from customer chaos, I choose to be grateful that I have a mess to clean up because it means there have been smiling faces there that day and people we’ve had the opportunity to bless AND get a blessing from. And I pick up a journal and flip it open to a blank page and see Proverbs 15:15 written at the bottom and tears well up in my eyes. Because in God’s graciousness I have finally understood what it means to let go of my bitterness towards things that have made me unhappy in the past and instead let them point me to the Savior who takes all burdens and heals all wounds and actually provides joy in the journey if I allow it. When the natural response is to focus on what we don’t have but instead we are intentional about dwelling on the blessings we do have. 

And we stop letting people tell us that we’ll never be content because it IS possible. Even with dishes in the sink and strawberries to fill and laundry to dry and floors to mop. It is an ATTITUDE of the heart that makes us cheerful. It may or may not help us accomplish more. But maybe it’s not only the destination that’s important but also the climb. God rewards motives more than results.

And so today I stop reasoning and simply rest. Trusting that whatever His plan contains is better for me than anything I could’ve dreamed up. He is the Grand Secret-Keeper.

Only the seekers find the secret.

And so it turns out that the happiest people aren’t the ones who have perfect lives. They are the ones who focus on the good things in life and rebuke negative and angry thoughts. They are the ones who put down the brownie so they can feast on God’s Word.  They are the ones who die to the monster inside and invite the Master in. And we find that they are satisfied continually.

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast.” Proverbs 15:15, AMP

A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song.” Proverbs 15:15, MSG

Eviction Notice

Do you ever have “one of those weeks”? When you don’t want to wake up and face the known, or worse yet, the unknown? When you want to leave your phone off so you don’t get any more bad news? When you want to stop living because it’s just. too. hard?

The enemy has tried his dead-level best in my 27 short years to make sure I know that I am not valuable, unlovable, not capable. Not funny enough, not skinny enough, not good enough. Not enough.

And just when I think I’ve replaced his lies with God’s truth, a different circumstance with a very familiar underpinning comes back to haunt me and I find myself once again in the labyrinth of confusion and poor self-talk.

And once you start believing something? You start living it.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

If he can get us to question our value to God, or to begin to wonder if He really loves us, or ask why He would do such things to us, he knows we will eventually start interpreting life with the burnt-orange colored glasses of hell’s fire. We will actually start seeing circumstances as reinforcements of the truth we have begun to believe.

I can’t believe they won’t return my phone call. They never did love me more than everyone else in their lives.

I knew he wouldn’t stick around forever. People always leave. Why do I insist on getting attached?

I could turn my phone off for an entire week and no one would notice that I’m gone. The impression I’m leaving on the world holds so much magnitude I could measure it with a teaspoon.

It starts with one statement and escalates to several mini-statements and thoughts and just that quick he’s got us. 

Because then we become cynical and bitter and it eventually leads to an egotistical attitude or one of severe depression. Or worse, BOTH.

And he has us right where he wants us.

Hey, you? We have a choice in the part we play in this story. We can choose to sit aside idly letting bitterness soak into our veins. Or we can choose victory. Joy in the face of despair. Gratitude on the brink of untimely affairs. Peace in the midst of the war for our soul.

We get to choose whether we believe the lie. Whether we let down the guard to our heart and believe the untruth that we are not valuable, not lovable, not beautiful.

But Jesus didn’t fight for a worthless, unlovable, ugly bride. Beyond that, He will one day present us without anymore blemishes and faults before all of heaven. And the accuser will be no more.

The accuser can accuse only as long as we allow him to. He may have more than enough evidence of our darkness to pronounce us guilty, but it is overcome by the blood of the Lamb. Satan’s accusations count for nothing at the foot of the cross.

Are the accusations coming at you like a ton of bricks? Are you believing the lies that your heart, your deceitful heart, are telling you? Then perhaps you may have relocated.

Don’t let the enemy evict you. Get back to the foot of the cross. Get your body, mind, spirit, soul, and attitudes back to the place where your heart first found redemption. The accuser cannot and will not reside there.

God hasn’t moved.

Hey, me? It’s time to pick up some change of address forms.

Hey, devil? I’m tired of you getting the upper hand. This time, I’m calling you what you are. A liar.

My deliverance is coming.

Today….

What do you do when the deal falls through and the favorites move and the thing you have pursued for decades seems to vanish? How do you face a new chapter in your life when the last chapter didn’t look like you thought it would and in fact, you might be in a different BOOK? 

What can you rely on when you have no one to lean on?

Today, I was struck with this…So many indications of His promise to be not only not against us but for us.

There is no want to them that fear Him. Psalm 34:9

Who can remember a time when they had no wants?

And…

They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.. :10

Can we trust Him to give us ALL GOOD THINGS? We say we do, but when the husband leaves and the children go astray and the raise doesn’t come we start to question. 

And this…

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants: and none of them that trust in Him shall be desolate. :22.

So to us, who are in a state of bleak and dismal emptiness… we don’t have to be. 

If. We. Trust.

At times all of us need to be pointed back to our nucleus. Most days I find myself saying, “I HATE being human.” But if we embrace it and just realize that there are times that we need to go back to square one and trust, we won’t resist the change as much. 

If we only communicate with Him when things are going really bad, then why are we surprised when He continues sending really bad? 

What choice do we give Him? 

For the desolate and the ones who don’t believe and the heartbroken, He is the choice. The choice to trust that He withholds no good thing. The choice to believe. The choice to give God a choice. 

Fleeting

Squeezing in another load of laundry at 5 p.m., I was hoping there would be time to hang the clothes out and still get some sun. As I drape them one by one over the line, I am dismayed to see that there is still soap residue on the jeans. So the scare of a broken washer sends us scrounging for owner’s manuals and past receipts from the last time it was fixed.

Panic and frustration threatened to ruin a perfect good weekend. Instead of hanging out with friends or doing something fun, Saturday night was spent surrounded by piles of bills, receipts, budget plans that were not met, and various paperwork to be organized. The feeling of accomplishment was worth something, but the feeling of sadness was pervasive. Miraculously, the second load of laundry, albeit with only one article of clothing in it, managed to agitate and spin like it was created to. I breathed a sigh of relief, mostly to convince myself that it was a permanent fix and not that one load done properly was a false hope like last time.

Time has a way of deceiving us that fleeting things are all-important.

A rather new friend of mine had told me earlier that week that she was moving soon, rather unexpectedly. I was sad that we had only really just gotten to know one another and just that quickly, she was on her way. She had asked me to save some boxes for her, and as I contemplated the rest of my evening, I wondered if I could drop them off for her. But another sigh escaped as I remembered the half-washed load of laundry and the unswept floors and all the things I wanted to accomplish before the week’s end. Not much time left now.

I brought in the laundry that inevitably didn’t dry much in the setting sun and banished each piece to the drying rack. As I draped a mismatched sock over the bar, Jesus’ words came flooding into my soul.

“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14:7

Oh, how I wish I had you here with me, Jesus. I wouldn’t ever struggle with what to do if You were by my side.

Just as quickly… I am here. Deep breath. Yes. How often I forget.

And by the way, you would still struggle with sitting at my feet while there was laundry to do, Martha.

Well, then.

I hate to admit He’s probably right.

Maybe it was the paraphrasing Scripture exercise in my Stronger Bible study yesterday, but my heart immediately searched for a practical interpretation to my immediate situation.

For the laundry you have always with you, and whenever you want, you can clean to your heart’s desire. But you will not always have PEOPLE.

The case was settled in my heart and mind. I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. People always trump housework. An encouraged heart is always greater than a mopped floor. I have all too often put people on the backburner hoping that the time spent achieving perfection in my home would take the clutter and noise out of my life and bring me happiness. But you know, everytime I clean a toilet, it eventually needs to be cleaned. Again. And a clean toilet feels good momentarily, but it doesn’t bring lasting meaning.

The person in my life right now may only be Here. Right. Now. And so I must abide in the here and now, knowing that all too quickly it slips through my fingers.

Whether it is delivering moving boxes, loving on a half dozen kids so their mommy can have a breather, or taking roses to widows on Valentine’s Day, it could be the one impression they never forget.

And you might even hear these words whispered, “I knew you wouldn’t forget me on this day.”