Made For Glory: A New Word for 2018

I reach under the covers to slip my hands under his warm arms scooping him up in one easy motion from the lower bunk bed. The sun is still escaping the day as I tuck him under my chin and carry him down the dark hallway, to our room. His legs dangle farther down today than yesterday or the day before.

He is growing faster than my other three did; I am sure of it and my mother's longing cannot slow it down.

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I snuggle him on the king-sized bed rubbing his back to try and waken him. I think of his orphanage days where he often shared his crib and all the affection the nannies gifted was welcomed but never just for him. I sing his good morning song while dropping kisses behind his ears and neck. I leave my face nestled there inhaling the deliciousness that is distinctly him and distinctly toddler-hood.

As he rolls off his side onto his back I whisper, "Who loves you Isaiah?" He points to the sky beyond my dark ceiling and replies, "God does. And momma. And Luke. And Annabeth. And Leela. And Daddy."

"Yes," I reply, "we do."

"Who made Isaiah?" I ask.

He reaches up again and I see that tiny brown finger reaching for glory. "God made Isaiah. God made me. Made fingers. Made ears." He smiles as he wiggles his fingers and pulls on his ears.

"Yes, "I reply. "God made Isaiah. God made all of you. God made you for glory."

"Gory?" He asks. "Glo*ry." I repeat slowly for him so that he can clearly hear the sound.

"Glory." He says, pronouncing it with more syllables than needed and my southern accent. "Made for glory." He laughs as he puts his face to mine holding me close to earth's heaven.

Part of my mission as a momma is to help my children embrace the wonder of who God made them to be. It isn't an easy thing to take hold of, believing you were made for glory, but that doesn't make it less true. It's audacious to have a core belief that says, "God made me because he wanted to. He loved me and made me in his image so part of me arrived bearing the glory of Heaven. In him, I'm able to live a life that gives him glory everyday."

But here's the thing about glory, it's not about me. Or you. It's all about God, all the time. It's a different concept than what the world pushes at us, there, glory is all about me. Rarely is it about anyone else. So, it's imperative that we learn early who glory is really intended for and how our lives display it.

For the last eight months I've been considering glory. What it means. Who it belongs to. How we get it. I've prayed over this word and idea consistently and I can tell you God has good things to say about glory. And he has good things for you involving glory. When it came time to select my new word for the year, glory was an obvious choice. I couldn't open my bible without God showing me the story of another person who brought him glory with their lives.

In fact, Every.Single.Thing. Jesus did was to bring God glory.

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Glory was more important than self, success, comfort, or pain. Glory became more important than his life. If begs to ask, "If everything Jesus did was to bring God glory then shouldn't this be our life's work too?"

Shouldn't glory for God be more important than anything else?

Yes.

That's my short answer. My longer answer will come as the year unrolls and I live out the word in my everyday life. I encourage you to consider reviewing your actions through the lens of glory. Is your job glorifying God? Are your hobbies glorifying God? Are your relationships glorifying God? If not, where can you start to make the changes?

I look forward to walking this year with you and writing all the things that God puts before me. I'm praying that each of us is reaching for the display of the glory of God.

Take Your Chair

Last week as the holidays began to set themselves fully in motion a thought struck me so hard I had to sit still and catch my breath.  As people rushed to load cars with more food than any family in one house could eat this thought pushed itself past every joyful memory.    As families opened arms and opened doors to one another I could not help but be reminded of one detail.

There's still an empty seat at my table.

It should NOT be there.  

There's a kid missing at my house.  There's a set of feet not swinging underneath that chair.  There's a crumb dropper half a world away who may literally be waiting for a crumb.  And the injustice in that cannot be wished away.  No matter how hard I try.

I should be folding his clothes and learning how his laugh sounds when his big sisters play tickle little brother until he can't breathe.  He should be pulling at my jeans wanting more goldfish crackers and juice.  I should be tripping over his shoes in the kitchen and wiping up his toothpaste in the bathroom.  His dad and I should be debating which toy should be the "big" toy under the tree this year.  

We should not still be fighting this fight.  We just should not. Bureaucracy is now the foulest word we know.  We have proven 3 times over that we are fit parents.  We are deeply scarred from this war.  Each month, no each day seems to have its own battle.  So many things aren't even discussed anymore because there are no givens here.  This war has no rules either.   We take each moment just as it's comes.  And when that days battle are over we just exchange glances knowing that we are one moment tougher than we were before.  We are one moment closer to our child.

Sometimes I wonder if my feelings are but a shadow of what God feels about us when we are separated from him.  We are his children so it would seem natural that when we aren't in relationship with him that he would mourn us.  That he would MISS us.  His love for you and for me is so much deeper and boundless than mine is for my son.  It must tear him apart to watch us choose not to be family, both with him and with each other.  It must be unconscionable to him that those of us in his family would not willingly tell every soul we meet how simple it is to be a part of his family.  The greatest gift we've ever been given is so often tucked into the deepest recesses of our souls that it's as if letting others see this salvation will somehow diminish it or expose us; as if his sinless son dying in our place on a piece of wood was not exposure in its most violent form.

I wonder if he walks the rooms in heaven sometimes and imagines us there the way I imagine my son in his.  Do he and Christ walk the halls and plan whose room will face the sunrise and sunset?  Do they create the colors in that room there just for me?  John 14 tells us that's a distinct possibility.  Verse two says, "My Father's house has many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  It says for you.  You.  Me.  Christ is planning for us individually.  He sees each of us as his own.  How precious that the word would think I was important enough to plan for eternally.  

How difficult it must be for them to watch us choose sin and separation from love, life and relationship.  Over and over they see us choose empty objects to put in their places.  They witness our hunger and our thirst for more and they watch us strive for the things that will never fill us up.  And the entire time the answer is always right there waiting to be accepted.   And they could make us believe.  They could make us obey.  With a single word God could command us to love and serve him forever.  But a love that's demanded is no love at all.  And above all God wants you to choose to be at home with him.  He moved Heaven to send his son to earth to restore your relationship with him.  He fights a war every moment for you.  He doesn't want to give up on you even if you have given up on him.  "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."  (2 Peter 3:9)

Everyone.

More than anything God wants your feet swinging underneath his table.  

  I imagine his dinner table stretches much farther than mine does.  So great is his table that you cannot stand at one end and see the chairs at the other end.  Along its edges are chairs and places designed for every one of us, but we get to choose if we want that seat.  There will come a day when our opportunities to choose that seat will be gone and our chair will remain empty forever.  "...for you know very well that the day of The Lord will come like a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

Your seat at the table should NOT be empty and neither should your neighbor's, your sisters, or the little girl in Honduras that has never heard the name of Jesus.  It is our choice to accept the chair and then share that blessing.

There's always room at his table.

Discover what being in the family of God is all about.  Find out what it’s like to be loved unconditionally.  Learn how to live without fear of failure.  Uncover the truth about who you were meant to become.  Family can be forever.

Friend take your chair and start swinging your feet. 

Promise Keeper

I have a dream of a promise that keeps me going through those days that seem God is being too quiet.  I see myself with Steve standing behind me on an escalator.  In my arms wrapped up in a sling is a toddler from a different world.  I look a mess.  I'm so tired and I want American food, preferably a cheeseburger.  I've flown over 24 hours and the flights probably got delayed so I'm worried my other kids aren't here.

And then.

And then I see those faces.  And for the first time ALL of my people are on the same continent.  We are breathing the air in the same room.  I cannot get to them fast enough.  
When our feet hit the floor they come at me full force and my arms aren't big enough to hold all of them at once but I try.

Sweet Jesus I will try.

This is his promise, this is my dream.  And my God is a promise keeper.  

Hebrews 10:23 tells us, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."

 God is unable to be unfaithful.  It is not even possible for him.  It's opposite to his very nature.

"God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being , that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and then not fulfill?"  Numbers 23:19

Sometimes we as a younger generation of Christian believers forget the idea that our God is the same God who delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery.  We forget that he parted the Red Sea.  We forget that he devastated entire armies to place his children within the promised land of Canaan.  We hear these stories and think they are amazing.  We are awed by his strength and his power.  We stand in wonder at the way he has over and over delivered his people to exactly the right place at exactly the right time.  But we fail to realize that we stand as recipients of the same power, strength, blessing and favor because as believers in Christ we are also his children.  (Galations 3:26)
Why then do we not ask for them?  Why then do we not expect him to DELIVER?  I hold fast to the promise of my family because God has placed it within my heart.  It was not of my own choosing or power.  But my faith in him to have the power to deliver is real and constant because he is a promise keeper.

His power has NOT diminished even though our society has chosen to diminish him.  

Everyone of you is facing something you cannot do on your own.  I don't have to know the details of your stories to know that.  That is the human condition.  God is not unaware of who you are or who I am.  He knows exactly what giant we are facing and he will come through.  Maybe not according to our plans, but according to his. And let's face it our plans are NEVER as great as his.  Can you start to have faith that he will deliver on his promises?  I will freely admit that my faith is often a moment by moment choice.  It is not always easy, but it is always right.  I will also admit that I freely question God about his plans for me.  Where are we going, what are you up to?  Mostly what I get back is the word, "wait."  And so I just keep taking one step in faith at a time.  I keep reminding myself that God will provide whatever is needed.  And sometimes that will literally be at the minute I need it.  To expect him to map it all out is simply not going to happen.  If he did that, why would we need faith?  What kind of servant would we truly become?  And I also remind myself that he has done GREAT things for people like David, Noah, Esther, Ruth, and Abraham, right?  He didn't love them more.  He did not.  The bible does not say it!  He loves all of his children and therefore shouldn't I trust that he will do GREAT things for me.  Shouldn't you trust that he will do GREAT things for you as well?

The same God who was strong enough to deliver his son for the sacrifice still sits on his throne.  The same God who was powerful enough to raise Christ from the grave still reigns.  And these things are worth remembering.  They are worth holding onto when your day is more than you can bear alone. 

"...Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

Now that's promise.