A Thursday for Your Thoughts; Meeting in the Landscape

Meeting in the Landscaping 

By Terri Brentlinger

This morning I was looking in the landscaping and I saw this.  

  
As I stood there and stared at it I was amazed.  The first thought I had was how we all need the cross.  The plant is weak and needed something to hold it up.  

Then it hit me. So do I.  

I looked at the vine and I noticed it did not only wrap around in one place, but that it had wrapped several times around the cross.   The more the plant wraps around the cross the stronger it will be.  The more we wrap our self around God the stronger we will be.  

I do not believe we will be strong enough if we only go to church. That would be like wrapping our self only once around.  The more we do the stronger we will be also.  

We need to daily wrap our self in God’s word, in being a servant and in Godly friendships. There are many ways to wrap our self in God.  

Thank you Jesus for the little meeting in the landscaping!!

About Terri

Terri is soft spoken and one of the most gentle-natured, beautiful souls I’ve ever met. She has a warm smile that makes her approachable trusting that kindness guides her in her interactions. These were my first observations about Terri. Having gotten to know her even better, the spirit is evident within her-even loud. Anyone who meets her will know she loves people….and she loves Jesus. 
Read other guest posts by clicking on “A Thursday for Your Thoughts” in the menu. 


Don’t forget that you too have an invitation to write a guest post for “A Thursday for Your Thoughts”.  I take great delight in your sharing knowing we share many of the dames struggles and joys. And so often I find a common bond between us I hadn’t known existed. Write about an experience that you’ve had or a lesson you’ve encountered. Shoot me an email if you’re interested. 

kristiburden@gmail.com

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A Novice Foodie Blog; The Green Molly

Jason and I visited the Redwine’s food trolly today in Winnie. This was a high mark in our “Foodie Fridays”.  Jason is sharing about the perfect paninis, the tomato basil soup and the too-good-to-pass-up ice cream drinks we had. I volunteered to talk about dessert(s).  

 Jason:  You know I can’t pass up a food truck when Kristi and I are out and about. Same is true for a food trailer. And you can include food carts, food buggies, and food tents. 

But now you can add a more exotic food purveyor to your list of things I can’t pass up: A Food Trolly! 

 I’ve never seen a food trolly until today. 

Kristi and I went to Winnie to shop around at Larry’s Old Time Trade Days. You can find just about anything under the sun there. We loved walking among the vendors, sifting through mounds of antiques and chatting with folks from all over this part of the country. 

The biggest attraction for us, though, was stumbling across this beauty of a Food Trolly. 

She’s called The Green Molly. 

The Redwines of Nederland bought her some time back and equipped her to deliver deliciousness.  

 Pat and Trisha Redwine invited us in to see their setup and let us watch as they crafted our feast. 

The Green Molly had an eclectic feel. She started out on the streets of San Fransico years ago. She made her way by stages to South East Texas. 

The heart of their menu is the panini sandwich. 

Now let me be honest with you. When I hear of a shop selling paninis, I usually pass on by. I like paninis, but they usually leave me hungry for more. What is it with panini shops that serve undersized sandwiches? 

Put any misgivings about paninis aside when you cross paths with The Green Molly. Pat was putting together the sandwiches today. I ordered a ham and turkey on whole wheat and Kristi got the same, but on sourdough. Pat started with THICK cut bread. The sourdough was pre-cut and the whole wheat she cut herself. I could have made a meal of just the bread she put together for our sandwiches. 

My eyes really got big when she started putting together the insides of the panini. Pat piles on layers of American and Mozzarella cheese. Then came generous portions of turkey and ham. The panini grill was begging for mercy when she placed those two sandwiches in the cooker.  

 When Pat served up the paninis, the cheese was soft and warm, but not runny. The meat steamed just a little as I pried the halves apart. The panini grill puts a nice crust on the bread. 

Did I mention that they were serving these magnificent paninis with fresh made tomato basil soup? 

These paninis were perfect for dipping. The bread was sunstantial enough to soak in great draughts of creamy awesomeness. This was comfort food on steroids. 

After eating 90% of my sandwich and 25% of Kristi’s, I was about to pop. 

I forgot to mention one other little detail: Trisha was working the smoothie machine today. She served us up cups of Strawberry, Piña Colada, and Vanilla Ice Cream Smooties. We tried some of all of them in addition to a Chocolate Ice Cream smoothie you can see in the picture. 

My turn

Jason has blog-hogged, leaving only the desserts to be talked about, but I can TALK about the desserts. He got a head start while I changed into my elastic shorts to be comfortable enough to write. Our lunch experience was that serious.

Key Lime Pie 

 I’ve accused Jason of loving coconut pie the best because the rest of the family doesn’t…..which means that even if there’s a whole pie, he doesn’t have to share.

That’s the way I feel about key lime pie. I had a slice today. It was smooth and creamy and perfectly tart served with fresh blueberries and strawberries. I sigh just thinking about it.

I was good and shared with Jason. It was easy because Trisha was standing in front of me with a slice of chocolate explosion. (Excuse my nails).

Chocolate Explosion 

 This slice of love is a crushed Oreo crust topped high with cool chocolate mousse with surprise bites of MORE chocolate. My words are inadequate. Just trust me. The chocolate explosion was an experience.

S’mores Panini 

 I’ve saved the best for last. When they mentioned “a chocolate sandwich” I was skeptical. But as soon as the scent of warm cinnamon bread wafted my way, I was a believer. The S’mores Panini is two slices of crusty cinnamon bread sheltering a delicious chocolate spread, crushed Oreos and melted marshmallows. I would come closest by describing it as a designer brownie, but I’ve never had anything like it.

I know what you’re thinking. We had three desserts today.  It’s really much worse if you count the ice cream drinks we had. But the heart wants what the heart wants…..and my elastic shorts are forgiving.

Jason and I write a food blog on Fridays when we’re able. Send us some suggestions of local good-eats. Check out Jason’s blog for these and other great posts.

www.pastorburden.com

 

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Layer Me

Inspiration came this morning in the form of a poorly placed “Justice” clothing sticker .  I noticed its curled edge sticking out from Rylie’s drawers as I sat on her bed wishing that the peacefulness on her still sleeping face could rise up and come settle on me. 

The sticker simply said “Layer me”. 

  

It had come off of one of several lacy bright-colored tank tops I’d bought for her to wear. They’re long and provide needed length underneath some of the too short tshirts she wears. That’s why I bought them anyway. She didn’t want to wear them. I’ve given up trying. The tanks are a slender fit which is another way of saying that they’re extremely confining.  The lace on them itches Rylie like the dickens.  She squirms, uncomfortable in her own skin.  The Justice store thought these tanks were must haves. Rylie and I have decided to ditch them. 

I feel a little too layered sometimes too. 

Life becomes confined trying to fit into all the roles the world and I have created for myself. I’ve shared the list before. I won’t bore you with it in its exhaustive form, but here are a few layers, specifically speaking, of recently constructed roles. 

I’ve got to make sure that my son is college prepared. “This whole year is a dress rehearsal,” I tell him. And then I help him in areas where he’s really too old to need my help “getting dressed”. I walk him around life bumps making suggestions, when really, stumbling on some of those bumps will be the very thing he’s going to learn from. I’m also trying to figure out how to keep my daughter from being ridiculed anymore for her weight. I wear her pain.  Why can’t I fix that for her? And my other daughter? What can I do when her independent streak keeps her from wanting to spend extra time with me when I know it’s important at her age?  (Just a sliver of the mom role). 

How do I provide a restful atmosphere at home for my exhausted husband when I have so much to say?  

How do I become a better friend when there’s so little time and energy to invest in friendship? How do I encourage someone in need of hope when I’m discouraged with them at the moment?  How do I praise God genuinely when my soul is tired and my mouth is full of complaint?

Sometimes we have to shed the layers. 

Last night in overly dramatic fashion I uttered…

“When I find myself stinking at my mom job, barking at the kids 

and I’m behaving like much less than a stellar wife adding to the list of things that fatigue my husband

 and I’m hardly what you’d call a good friend right now, distant and overwhelmed 

much less a Christian that you’d want to come into contact with when you just need a kind face and word

then who am I?”  

It was a whiny rhetorical question. And I was in such a mood, I neither expected nor wanted an answer. But I got one. I felt a gentle answer meant to settle my heart. “You’re a child of God. Your value doesn’t come from filling roles. Your value isn’t found in who you are, but whose you are.”

God is aware of my children’s needs and Jason’s needs too. He’s all knowing. HIS grace is sufficient for all those I love and for the stranger, who with a little more energy I’d help in the name of Jesus. God has designed each of us to be used for his glory, but sometimes His glory is revealed when we shed the layers, the responsibilities (if just for a moment), and find comfort in simply being His child. 

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (Matthew 6, The Message)

Being his child is our highest calling. Any added layer should only come after our awareness that we’re his. Simply being his child gives rest to our souls. A soul at rest can better remember that God is the one who is control of our marriages and families, our friendships and encounters.  At life at rest in being his child is a life  unbound from the weight we place on ourselves to do it all and be it all. 

 34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

The Justice clothing store urges that the ultimate girl wears layers. But a late night answer, a poorly placed sticker and some ill-fitting tank tops reminded me that sometimes we have to shed the layers that hold us back from the free and full living found in the gracious covering of Christ. 

God, I stink at ordering my life. Layer me. 

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To the Lady in Yellow Who’s gone Viral this Morning

To the lady in yellow who’s gone viral this morning

photo credit- Eyewitness News, Los Angeles
photo credit- Eyewitness News, Los Angeles

 

I saw you yesterday afternoon. A link to a video of you was embedded in the hundreds of comments regarding what’s going on in Baltimore right now.

 I watched you repeatedly waylay a young man the public believes to be your son. You used harsh language while shouting sense at him, but I couldn’t stop watching you.

 Dressed in black from head to foot your son appears to be a part of the violent protesting which has included throwing bricks and bottles at policeman and firemen. Police cars and establishments are being set on fire not to mention stores are being looted, they say in the name of a young man, Freddie Gray, whose life ended tragically. We all can agree that these riots reach deeper than Gray’s death.

 I can barely hear what you were saying on the video (not because of your lack of volume) but I heard you telling the boy (your boy I’m guessing) to take off his mask; that if he wanted to do this he should show his face. There’s no integrity in hiding behind a mask.

 I was strangely moved by your actions so much that I kept searching for the video again last night. This morning I’m seeing it over and over as I scroll through Facebook. I’ve watched you at least ten times.

 Others must be moved by your actions too. Some are calling you “Mother of the Year”. You may very well be, but what I saw was the instinctive nature of a mama.  I don’t know you well enough to know what kind of mother you are day in and day out, but you brought out desperate feelings mamas feel when they want their kids to be safe. 

 I can’t know what was going through your mind in those minutes on film. I just know I’ve felt something like you must have felt when you were grabbing him by the shoulders looking at him intently, willing him to peer into your “troubled for him” soul while trying to shake sense into him.

 Mamas come undone for their children. 

 I don’t know what happened after the video was stopped. I don’t know if your son went home with you and whether or not you’ve been able to talk to him outside the mayhem. I don’t know if he’s terribly angry with you for interfering or if his head (and heart maybe) still pounds from all the blows he took from your strong arms. I don’t know how sound the relationship is between you two or between you and any other children you have. I couldn’t know if there’s a father in the picture who supports you and helps lead your children in the way they should go. I hope there is. I have no knowledge as to what his age is and how much sway you have over him when you’re not there to grab hold of his shoulders and shout at him what he already knows.

 Mothering is hard. It’s a fight sometimes. It’s a fight that can happen in front of an audience that doesn’t truly know you or your son. And sometimes it’s a fight you don’t feel like you’re winning. Sometimes it feels like it’s a fight where nobody’s winning.

I don’t know your name, but I love you with the love of Jesus, sister. You’ve an inner ferocity us mamas know about.  I’d hug your neck if  #1 I were in Baltimore and  #2 If you gave me permission. I think there are thousands of us who would get in line to tell you we’re behind you.

 I’m praying for you this morning. I’m praying that if you’re not one that usually goes to God, that your desperation leads you to prayer. I’m praying that after coming undone, that you pull it back together, trusting in the one who holds all things together. I pray peace for you. I pray that you have a group of loved ones who with you will try to sort out this mess that’s going on.  I pray you’ll be guided by grace.  I pray that hearts will come to beat in unison in searching for a better way for all of our sons and daughters.  I pray that true healing will come to your city.

 Praying for your city.

Praying for our nation.

He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together. Colossians 1:17

People are separated by race, separated by class.  We’re divided by religion. These are the masks we wear.  We need to come out from behind the masks.  These false coverings keep us from seeing that we’re all made in the same image; the image of God.  We all should lose our need to be on the right side concerning all the ills that plague our children, our country and our world. When we lose our need to have all the answers, or be on the right side, maybe we’ll find that we’re in desperate need to first and foremost pray.

 

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Dear Sentimental Mom

One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, ‘Oh, why can’t you remain like this for ever!’ This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. — J.M. Barrie

Spring pictures must have arrived at pre-school this week because I’ve seen a host of pictures on Facebook while scrolling. In several of the pictures, some of your kids are sitting on a picture prop; one of those old yellow upright Igloo water coolers that I remember seeing on the sidelines of the football field back when.  A number 2 followed by a 0,1 and 5 is painted on corrugated tin making up part of the background. Your little ones are cute.  I see little boys in polos and khakis. In another picture, a girl with floral dress wears a matching yellow headband that frames a face, still with all the baby teeth.  And I read the posts that go alongside them. “My baby’s growing up!” And “Slow down time!”  

I was you once. I had littles. And I fretted, thinking of how fast they were growing even though they were small. 

 

 It wasn’t that long ago. It was hardly before yesterday. And I’m sure my mom would tell me that it was just the day before yesterday that she had me dressed up in light blue corduroy with pigtails in blue ribbons for my pictures. 

For others of you who have passed the stage of “littles”, that was you once too, not so long ago…. wasn’t it? 

Two nights ago I picked out pictures to go on Hayden’s graduation announcements. I ruled out several pictures where stubble stuck out on his once smooth pudgy cheeks. I noticed how broad his jawline has gotten. Today I’m thinking about how I have few occasions left where I can boss him to do pictures where he smiles for me (and for all my friends on Facebook and abroad).
Waves of sadness have come over me in past months, but they roll back out almost just as quick. I started the boo-hoo baby stuff probably sometime close to when you started. Maybe the first time was the day he started of Kindergarten. I think I was sappy when he lost his first tooth; I know I was an emotional wreck the night of Kindergarten graduation when the speaker played

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking step into the sun….

Til we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

I can’t clearly recall every time I’ve come undone with his or his sisters’ growing but I’ve senselessly let thoughts of fleeting youth cloud too many of my days rather than cherishing the days we’ve been given.
A lot of soul searching has been happening these past few months. Last night I sat with a Christian speaker from Houston. Knowing I was a pastor’s wife she asked me if it’d been hard moving every few years. I’ve been asked that question before.  I knew how to answer. I told her the same thing I told the friend who asked me if I was sad when we were preparing to move to Nederland. I said

God has been good everywhere we’ve been. 

I remember trusting when we moved in 2011 that God would be just as good in Nederland as He was in Trinity. He has been.
I have no doubt He’ll be just as good in the places we’re headed. 
 
God will be good in 33 days when I hug my six-foot something boy in his cap and gown. God will be good when we unpack Hayden’s belongings in a dorm room that’s way farther than a stone’s throw from my room. He’ll be good when I no longer have IPhone finder on my phone and can’t track where Hayden is when he should have been home fifteen minutes ago.  God will still be good when the girls follow suit; when they drive for the first time or have their first date, and when they walk down the aisle. 
 
In our nature we often sorrow for what is left behind. We fear what lies ahead. But there’s no place in space and time where God isn’t good. 
 
I cry harder these days, but I laugh harder too. I listen to his stories more intently now knowing we’re ending an important chapter. Not all the days have been sunny. We’ve walked through tough days and even seasons.  Those are the times that have led me to love deeper than I did when he was in diapers. I can see days in the near future where I call my kids my friends. Many are the good memories. Today is good, and good are the days that lie ahead.
 
Time does have a way of sneaking up on us. It’s true. But time gives more than it steals.
And all of time is in His hands.
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A Novice Foodie Blog; Daddios Burger

Jason and I were headed to Banh Mon’s food truck for lunch today.  I had my eyes peeled for future spots on Calder and Phelan. Siri announced that we had arrived at our destination. But there was no food truck. Fortunately I had spotted a joint a few blocks back called Daddio’s Burger. So if Jason tries to take credit for today’s lunch, he’s lying. He does that occasionally.

I’m solo on the foodie blog today which means that I get to say what I want (not that I usually refrain from saying what I want). I’m actually missing our Friday afternoon post-lunch date writing from our big brown chair. Since Jason has a busy afternoon and weekend ahead I asked him for a statement about his lunch experience.

The goat burger from Daddios is for mature, discerning burger-loving pallets.

That’s one way to put it.

I’m really not a burger fan. I might have mentioned that before. Just as Jason has trouble telling the difference between gray and taupe, I have a hard time seeing a big difference between a Big Mac and a Mushroom Swiss Burger from Chili’s or somewhere. A burger is just a burger.

Daddios Burger has revolutionized my burger thinking ways.

Jason and I usually try to order different things (because sharing is caring). Today, one menu item jumped out, begging to be tried. We both ordered The Goat Cheese Burger.

It was a juicy beef patty served on a fresh jalepeno bun with all the fixings, topped with goat cheese and slathered in chipotle. It took me years to learn how to say chipotle. I could never remember if it was chip-ot-LE or chip-ol-TE. Today I learned that the stuff is so good it deserves the proper pronunciation. CHIP-OT-LE!!

We also had Parmesan fries with truffle oil. One basket was big enough to fill both Jason and I. They were awesome; especially doused with malt vinegar. There are several fry choices. I don’t think you can go wrong. The fries are hand-cut and cooked just right. Nothing beats a good fry.

I passed up a chocolate shake and ice cream, but did splurge on half a great big chocolate chip cookie.

My single patty specialty burger costed about five and a half bucks. We spent around thirty dollars on burgers, fries, drinks and our cookie. It sounds like a lot for a burger, but this was definitely no Big Mac experience.

  

I told Jason I’d put his antlers up in the house if somebody would make a chandelier like this out of them. He said it would be emasculating to feminise his antler collection. What do you think? 

We saw some Nederland friends there celebrating another adoption which was just one more reason to smile while we were at Daddios.

We already have plans to go back. I think I fussed at the kids enough the last two weeks to bring their grades up before the six weeks ended today. Maybe their grades will give us a reason to go back. Maybe the fact that I didn’t try the shake yet gives us reason(A good shake is so thick it hurts your cheeks and collapses the straw).

Maybe we don’t need a reason.

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A Thursday for Your Thoughts; Rebecca Mosley (Making the Most of our Days)

This post was written by Rebecca Mosley.

I spend every weekday at a nursing home… and I’m a fan. reb I love it. I race wheel chairs and yell directly into eardrums… they prefer it. I spoon feed pureed nastiness, and witness a small miracle every time someone remembers my name.

Just the other day, I attempted to calm my severely frustrated and confused demented client by saying, “I love to hang out with you. I just want to be friends!” In which she responded with the most coherent, grammatically correct sentence she’s given me during our time together, “is that cause nobody wants you??”

Wait. What? Yes, I absolutely took it personal… Just kidding.

Everyday I leave with a story… or seven.

I often sing to them. I stereotypically yet voluntarily play bingo as often as possible,  I DO actually administer speech therapy (for any of my supervisors who read this J) and I listen to their stories. I have had clients who have been airline flight attendants, served in the military, owned six nightclubs, and lived and breathed life on the farm, and as much as I genuinely and eagerly love to hear their stories, there is a commonality as I continue from person to person…

Each story begins with, “Awwhhh, well back in my day…” In other words… “Let me tell you all about the things that I believe to have been purposeful in my life…”

Sharing a rose with a client
Sharing a rose with a client

 

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:14

I have heard this verse before, but not in the way the Lord has been reminding me of it lately. My experience working in a nursing home has pointed me even more to Jesus. The stories my clients share are interesting… filled with memories of happiness, sadness, life, and love, but was their gift of life worth it? For some, yes, but for others, I don’t believe it.Unfortunately some don’t even remember their morning.

I pray, one day, I’ll get to sit down to share my story with a young girl, and tell her that I didn’t waste my dash of life. I spent my days serving the Lord and loving others. I didn’t allow drama to overwhelm, social media and technology to waste my time, I forgave when it was hard to, I chose to stand unashamed for the things of God, I wasn’t arrogant, boastful, or anxious and that anyone I met knew Who I belonged to and was encouraged because of it.

Oh, how I pray this prayer for others to. I imagine heaven. Meeting Jesus and telling him all about, “back in my day.” The days God has given me… precious, valuable, purposeful, days. What did I do? What stories will I share? What lives will I have touched? What people will I have reached? Don’t waste your dash of life: your two seconds in comparison to eternity. Ask yourself, “Will this matter when I’m 80?” and even more than that, “Will this matter in eternity?”

 

I met Rebecca through church and through my girls’ twirling.  They love her and I do too.  She has been a jewel of a mentor to Hallie. I overuse the word awesome, but when I say Rebecca is awesome, I mean it….SHE’S AWESOME! She embodies the verse “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Beautiful in more way than I have time to mention, I consider myself blessed to call her my friend.

We all have a story, a testimony or a life lesson to share.  Won’t you share yours on “A Thursday for Your Thoughts”? If you’re interested, email me at kristiburden@gmail.com,  no matter your age or writing skills (I made C’s in college English).      I’ll be waiting.   Sharing is caring.

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Prayer; A Shameless Audacity

In my praying, I don’t ask God for all the things I’d like to ask him for. I know He’ll say no to some things. I already ask for too much. Some things I’d ask for are selfish. Other things I’ve asked for a hundred times and I suppose He’s tired of my begging.  My mom tells that she was taught as a child to never ask for things when visiting a house. “I couldn’t even ask for a drink of water,” she says. Funny thing is, my mom raised us the same.  I remember Ms Lola, a sweet elderly lady whose house we would visit when I was small.  She had a candy dish in plain sight on her coffee table. I always hoped that she’d offer me a butterscotch, but I sure never asked. 

I’ve impressed the same manners upon my kids too. I never though, expected those same manners from the kids who came to visit our house. 
 
The first church Jason pastored was in Chilton, Texas. We lived in a parsonage. Much to my delight, our house became the local hangout for the kids in town. By our second year in Chilton, I was teaching second grade. The kids from school would be waiting for me in our backyard when I got home. They were usually hungry.
 
One four year old, Santos who didn’t know a lick of English, would come in and open my fridge and would scan for sweets.  (Santos didn’t know how to knock either but that’s beside the point). I taught Santos, amongst many things, how to say “I’m hungry.  Can I have a snack?”  He quickly forgot my suggested request, but would come to me, and with both hands pat his belly, and would say quite forcibly “Pasteles!” (which means ‘sweets’ in Spanish).
 
 I’ve never forgotten that kid. He knew what he wanted.  My kids know what they want, but like my mom and her mom before her we’ve taught them not to ask supposing it’s rude to request anything as a guest. HE ASKED. In fact, I taught him to ask. And while he didn’t ask in the format I’d suggested, he asked, knowing that I’d give him good things. 
 

…..because of your shameless audacity….he will get up and give you what you need Luke 11:8

 
Have you ever read that? Even though I’ve read Luke 11 a number of times, I’ve somehow missed those two words. 
 
Shameless audacity. 
 
Boldness without shame. 
 
It’s in the passage in chapter 11 where Jesus is teaching the disciples how to pray.  Basically, after confessing the Father as holy, the prayer gets bossy. It says something like,
 
Give us…
 
Forgive us…
 
Lead us not…  Deliver us..
 
I was reminded this morning that a lot of Bible fellows just cut to the chase and told God exactly what they wanted. 
 
In prayer we are guests in the presence of God, but more than that, we are His children. 
 

…See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called the children of God; and so we are. I John 3:1

If you look at chapter 13 of Psalms, it says: Look on me and answer, O LORD. 

 
No “Pretty please”. Not “If you don’t mind”. The Psalmist was so intimate with God that the pleasantries seemed less important than going right to the heart of the matter. 
 
 
Jesus includes his teaching on prayer in Luke 11 with this:
 

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Did I always give Santos everything he asked for? I didn’t. I gave him what I thought he needed, no doubt getting it wrong now and then. Our requests are made to a Holy God who knows all that we need. We trust that our Father knows how to give good gifts to His children even when what he gives isn’t what we asked for. 

If I unwittingly ask for the approval of men, the answer that I get, may not be the approval of men that I sought. God may remind me that if “I am trying to please man, then I am not a servant of God”. 

His answer is good. 

In the past I have asked for patience. I’ve never once been felt zapped with it.  Instead, God teaches me longsuffering. In His teaching, I feel his closeness. And I know that patience isn’t so much a mastering of my feelings as it is a concentrated focus on God’s help and presence in times that I wait. 

God’s answers are always good. 

So I’ll ask for all the things I see fit, for the things I desire. God knows how to say no.  And if he does say no, then I trust that no is the answer I need. The more I learn to go to God with my requests and the desires of my heart, the closer I’ll grow to Him, trusting that he’ll change my heart about those things I ask which I don’t need and those things which aren’t beneficial. 

And so very many times He says yes.

The more time we spend with God, asking, and listening, the better we know His will (the answer).

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

 
 
 
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Your Favorite Cake and a Birthday Note

Jason

A birthday letter to you,


It’s the perfect time to write you a birthday letter. I know we’re into the fourteenth hour of your special day, but there’s been little time before now.
It’s been a busy weekend getting Hayden set-up to attend Sam Houston in the fall.  We’re not ready for that are we? Every time I hear the word college it adds three grays; the word graduate adds wrinkles.
Right now you’re driving south on Highway 69 getting us closer to home. You aren’t much of a conversationalist from the driver’s seat. Your job is to get us where we’re going; you’re steady and sure.  You have little need for entertainment in the process. So I’ll talk to you now without expectation of a response.
I’m going to make your birthday cake today. It’ll be yellow cake with chocolate icing. You insist that the yellow/chocolate combo is the only legitimate kind of birthday cake. I disagree, but it’s your birthday.
So today,
Have it Your Way..
Apparently that’s how you can have it (namely, a hamburger) at Burger King, but I’m smart enough to not have it at Burger King at all.  The cakes I’ve made you in the past make me wonder why you rejected my idea to stop at Gigi’s to pick up some cupcakes guaranteed to please your palate.
My cake is always subpar. I never have the patience to wait until the cake cools. Yellow cake crumbles make their way into the chocolate icing. This happens too when the cake is too moist.  And when my cake turns out dry. My philosophy is,
Trust in the icing.
Anyway, just want to say that you’re the icing to my life.
You cover my shortcomings with grace and understanding. Life’s crumbles don’t matter quite so much with the nearness of you. You make the plain exciting.
You make life sweeter.
Happy 39th.
Much love,
Your Favorite Cake
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#jesussaves

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Luke 5:32

I yelled at the kids today. That happens sometimes on three day weekends. It happens when the kids have spent a significant stretch of time together. Interacting for too long typically allows room for personalities to clash. “Passive aggressive, bored sibling” antagonizes “she who wants to be alone and has succumbed to pouting”. Then there’s the sibling who is already distraught by my cleaning orders who goes into melt-down mode after being annoyed by above said passive aggressive sibling. There’s sinister laughter, whining, false accusations and gnashing of teeth (the gnashing of teeth would be me). 

So I yelled. 

We’d just got back from Easterfest where we’d served the hordes Easter eggs  with a smile. I’d handed out a stack of church flyers inviting people to join us tomorrow morning for Easter services. I was inspired by bible verses and smiley faces and rainbows drawn on slab with bright-colored chalk. I posted a picture of such blessedness and I hash-tagged it “Jesus Saves”. 

And now my kids were acting like they knew nothing about that. 

More sad, I was acting like I’d forgotten too. I began to tabulate my kids’ transgressions along with my own (I’m really good at that). Grappling with the thoughts of “where are we going wrong”, I began to feel more wretched.  

I live in the knowledge that there are some who question how I can call myself a Christian when I act unkind, or impatient or selfish(selfish is a big one). This is a question I ask myself too.   

….For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Psalm 51:3

I’ll go to church tomorrow though. Not because I think I’m holy. On the contrary, I’ll go because I haven’t a hint of holiness of my own. Not today. Not on my best day either. 

 I’ll go because Holy God saw it fit to call me His own through His work on the cross. I go in gratitude. He’s never dissuaded from loving me. He’s never shocked by my lack of faith or misbehavior.  He never calls it quits. 

 Nobody can produce new evidence of your depravity that will make God change his mind.  For God justified you with (so to speak) his eyes open.  He knew the worst about you at the time when he accepted you for Jesus’ sake; and the verdict which he passed then was, and is, final. (JJ Packer, Knowing God). 

Jesus saves. 

I’ll post and share on Facebook that which is Jesus-related. Not because I emulate Christ rather well.  But because Jesus is who I aspire to be more like. We ALL need to be more like Jesus. 

I’ll wear my “Forgiven” bracelet 

-sometimes forgetting I’m covered in his grace 

-sometimes erring so, that grace seems in vain. 

Still. 

Jesus saves. 

I’ll hashtag #jesussaves and #christlivesinme even though I act rather hopeless  sometimes and I sink into despair for the smallest of reasons. Because he does.

Jesus saves. 

I’ll cast aside the heaviness in my heart that has weighed me down this week as I’ve hurt alongside those with those deep hurts. I’ll leave the hard questions without answers. Because I know one thing that matters above all things. 

Jesus saves. 

  1. Sing above the battle strife:
  1. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
  1. By His death and endless life
  1. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
  1. Shout it brightly through the gloom,
  1. When the heart for mercy craves;
  1. Sing in triumph o’er the tomb:
  1. Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

His grace is greater than my sin. So I’ll sing brightly, shout triumphantly. 

Jesus saves. Jesus saves. 

  

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