“The Son of Man must… be killed and on the third day be raised.” Luke 9:22
When we had our first child, my husband and I refused to give up our old life. It was too fun and exciting. Instead, we’d load up the diaper bag and drag our infant to bars and parties, as if nothing had changed. It didn’t take long for reality to hit: Everything had changed, and there was no going back.
So began the life of declining social invitations, and adjusting to the chaos of parenthood. No matter how we tried to plan our days, they got hijacked and derailed by exploding diapers, naptime changes, and countless other unexpecteds.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17
During the Super Bowl on Sunday, my husband had us all play a betting game where we claimed numbered squares on a grid. At the end of each quarter, the person whose square came closest to the score at that time, won a treat. That inspired my son, Mason, to want to bet money on the entire outcome of the game. When his brother, Zack, declined, my husband took him up on it.
Along with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, we all ended up winning something, either treat or money, except for Zack. He lamented, “I never win! If I had bet on the Buccaneers, they would have lost because that’s how it works with me. I always lose.”
The Lord is with you when you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you. 2 Chronicles 15:2
Years ago, I bought five little mailboxes that I put out on the first of February when I decorate for Valentine’s Day. Every couple of days, I put sweet treats in them for my husband and kids. Wanting to develop healthy habits for myself, I asked my kids not to put any candy in mine. I told them it would mean more to me if they left me notes of love instead.
In her usual style, Jocelyn took that suggestions up a notch, and created a “Love Note Scavenger Hunt.” The first paper heart she left in my mailbox recounted one reason why she loves me, and then listed a clue that led me to the next heart. The second heart had another thing she loves about me, and another clue, and so on.
Her words warmed my heart, but her clues raised the beat of it as she had me searching up and down two flights of stairs, over and over again. I’d already done yoga and Zumba that day, and hadn’t had dinner yet. My tank was on empty as I dragged myself around.
Although I wanted to be grateful, I was too darned drained to dig up the emotion. As I mumbled a thoughtless complaint under my breath, Jocelyn rebutted, “That’s what a scavenger hunt is: You look in one place and then another, and you keep on going until you find what you’re supposed to.” Even in my depleted state, I knew her words could be applied to prayer.
“Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” Mark 6:31
Not having access to public water in our area, our home relies on our private well. If you’re lucky enough to be the first one in the shower in the morning, the water pressure is great. The well is full, making the spray forceful and strong. But as the day goes on, and I run the washing machine and dishwasher, so many things are drawing from the same source, the pressure loses strength.
As a freshman in high school, my son, Mason, is in an advanced Spanish class. It’s proving to be more difficult than he expected. Despite practicing with him, he still lacked confidence the night before his quiz. My advice was: “If you review your flashcards at breakfast tomorrow morning, again after first period, and then again right before the quiz, I promise you you’ll get at least a B, if not an A.”
As he went up to bed, I wondered if I should have made that promise.
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:13
I recently got a contract to be a regular contributor to a daily devotional called Living Faith. It’s been a major goal of mine, one I’ve been pursuing for over six years. All the other contributors are my writing heroes: Kristin Armstrong, Sr. Bridget Haase, Sr. Melanie Svoboda, Melanie Rigney, Fr. Kenneth Grabner, Amy Welborn. The list goes on. I am truly honored and humbled to have my work appear in the same publication as theirs.
When I announced the big news to my kids at dinner that night, I explained that this contract, along with my book contract, were my long-time goals. I told them how blessed and deeply satisfied I felt to have achieved both. After congratulating me, Zack said, “Now you’ll have to make bigger goals.” Mason and Jocelyn agreed. I was so surprised by their response!
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
I recently took our bunny, Oreo, to the vet for his usual nail trim. Although it’s necessary for his own health, he doesn’t like it at all. Worse yet, he hates the mode of travel. The minute he goes into the pet carrier, he defaults to stress mode.
Knowing this, Jocelyn put his favorite treats into the carrier to console him. He completely overlooked them. It seems his fear blinded him to what typically brings him joy.
I think the real root of Oreo’s fear is a lack of control. When he gets zipped up inside the carrier he feels trapped, with no say as to where we take him.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son… John 3:16a
We’ve been doing it for weeks now: hunting down the perfect gifts for the people we love. When we wrapped them up, we imagined the joy they’d bring.
We claim to expect nothing in return. We try to give with no strings attached. But if we’re being honest, we’d realize we are expecting their gratitude. At the very least, we want a look of wonder on their faces to fill our hearts to the brim.
Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2
For the first time since I can recall, my December calendar is mostly blank. Knowing there’d be an enormous demand for on-line shopping and delivery, I bought all my Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving. Having all my kids home, with limited extra-curriculars, we got the Christmas decorations out and up by the first of December. It’s like everything I’ve ever wished for for Advent: all the mundane tasks completed, with time to focus on what really matters.
How ironic that the season is still filled with such stress and tension.