How to Let the Master Quilter Do His Work

As I child, I loved to run my fingers along the stitching of my grandmother’s quilts. They were a labor of love for her. Each time my mother reported an impending visit from the stork, my grandmother would smile and say, “I’ll get started on the quilt.” She’d stitch and pray, petitioning heaven with her hope that each of my siblings would “love the Lord all their days.” In this way, quilts and Jesus have always been deeply interconnected for me, almost like the patterns on the quilts themselves.

Not long ago, I took a seemingly straightforward trip. The goal was to support someone important at a crucial time, but the outcome was a mess of conflict and confusion in my heart and mind. I thought I was ready to revisit this space attached to old wounds and questions from my past, but instead the experience was as though someone ripped off a dirty old bandage, uncovering an oozing infection beneath. I felt woozy, unsteady from this discovery. I’ll be honest: my first instinct wasn’t to clean out the wound; it was to slap the bandage back on the wound and pretend I never saw it.

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Prizes, Please

Tomorrow will mark day six of the plague flu in our home. I’ve never been a big fan of the post-apocalyptic shows like The Walking Dead, but I’ve read plenty of similarly themed books. From what I can tell, we’re doomed. This is the part where the folks who have yet to be contaminated cut us off from the rest of society and we are forced to forge our own path in a new contaminated, colony of our own. My husband, Ryan is clearly the hero in our version and I am the dead weight that he carries around (read as- goes to pick up take out food for on a regular basis). But the crux of our story is my four-year-old daughter, Avery’s journey as she’s been hit hardest by the merciless funk.

It’s been enlightening for me, my delight in offering her the slightest comfort. Meeting her in her pain, validating her hurt, meeting her needs, again and again, these moments aren’t the burden I always assume they are when it’s me who needs them. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her. When she cries that her stomach hurts or she’s cold, I’m not angry that she needs again. I’m desperate to meet her need and bring her suffering to an end.

Yesterday, she stood next to the bed and cried that her stomach hurt.

I said, “Perhaps you should try to go the restroom.”

She shook her head no.

“Maybe you should lay down and rest for a bit.”

Still no.

I said I could give her some medicine for her stomach.

She began sobbing.

“Baby, what’s wrong.”

“I’m just wondering if you have any other ideas because I don’t like those.”

I did not. But as I was pondering, digging into the far recesses of my mind, she offered up this idea.

“I’m just wondering if maybe we should go to Target and get me a prize? I’m wondering if maybe you think that’s a good idea?”

And I couldn’t help but laugh because it was just so me.

That after the Lord would whisper his instructions, I would shrug them away and offer up, “What about this? How about instead of all of those things that make sense but don’t sound like fun, we ignore the fact that I’m contaminated, still in my pajamas and rocking record-setting bed head while running a fever over a hundred and we head on over to Target and pick me up a lil’ something fun. How about that plan, God? I really think that one’s a winner.”

These are the times that I am so thankful that I am not God. My mind, my ability to fix, to heal, to restore, to comfort, to know what to do next are so limited.

But his is not. He knows exactly what I need. Exactly when I need it.

I wonder what would happen if I shrugged his instructions, his whispers, his ideas off less. What if I stopped deeming them not fun, not possible, not for me? What if I just trusted that He was a loving Father who delighted in meeting my needs and bringing an end to my suffering? Would my stomach stop hurting? Would I eventually end up with a prize from Target, too?

If today, you find yourself struggling to accept God’s instructions and wanting to offer him some more appealing suggestions can I encourage you to let him take care of you? It isn’t a burden to him. He doesn’t grow tired of meeting your needs. He delights in being your source of comfort and unlike me, he doesn’t run out of ideas. You can trust him. He’ll never kick you out of the colony, even if you get the flu.


Come Close

I sat in the flimsy black chair, exchanging pleasantries with the young doctor at my follow-up appointment. We’d go over my test results; he’d say they were fine—- my new symptoms surely the result of Lyme and then he’d tell me what to do about them. After all, that was why I’d come, for relief from the sudden, new joint pain that was crippling at times, causing my fingers to swell and preventing me from typing or texting, sometimes even bringing tears to my eyes.
But instead, he opened his mouth and formed different words. Words I hadn’t been expecting, the weight of which crushed my soul. In addition to all the other fun I’d been enjoying, the markers for Rheumatoid Arthritis had come back positive. I’d be sent to a Rheumatologist to confirm, but it seemed quite clear to him.
I drove home in a stupor, working up a good cry. What I wanted most at that moment, more than I wanted to unhear those words was for my husband to come close. I wanted him to tell me that we were still going to be okay. I needed him to say that one more diagnosis didn’t change the commitments we’d made or God’s goodness.
He was on a conference call when I came home. (As he often is) I did my best to hold my cry in. But the second his finger touched the “end call” button, tears streamed my face, and I said, “Can you come over? I need a hug.” The rest was a blur of blubber and snot. But I heard the words I needed to hear. “We’re still okay.”
This morning, I stood in the shower, and I whispered to Jesus, “Come close.” I’ve been drowning in a sea of symptoms and struggles, and I’ve just needed to feel the Lord near. I thought about the wonder of the cross. What a bold, demonstrative move of “coming close.” Is there any doubt that he longs to be close to us?
It’s the goal of every marriage, the coming close. It’s why we commit our lives to one another so that we can live all of our days up close to one another. And maybe somewhere along the way, hurts and disappointments come in and crowd out this goal of coming close, but it is the starting place.
And so it is with our walk with Jesus.
The desire on both sides is the coming close to one another. How many times have I heard the still small voice of my Savior inviting me, “Come close“? And maybe somewhere along the way, hurts or disappoints come in and crowd this desire out and we no longer want to come close.
But today, he’s still whispering to you, to me, “Come close.”
What if we laid our hurts, our disappointments, and our busyness down and we let him embrace us? Maybe the rest will be a blur of blubber and snot. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that we will hear the words our hearts long to hear. “We’re still okay.”

Fluffy Faith

Two years ago at Christmas time our family adopted a Persian cat that our big kids named, “Tater Tot.” She enjoys giving us gifts. To obtain these gifts, she must go out into the backyard and kill them. Then she proudly drags them to the back porch and leaves them on display. I’ll spare you the details on the various gifts we’ve found on the back porch but let’s just say she really enjoys her hunting time outside. But her fur does not. It gets matted and tangled and recently we had to have her taken to the groomer for a little trim. It’s funny, Tater Tot has always looked so big to me. In fact, I’ve often given her a hard time about being such a big, fat cat. But because her fur was so matted from her time hunting, the groomer had to give her “the lion” cut, shaving off almost all of her fur excluding head and paws. Besides being just plain hilarious, I’ve noticed something else. Once you removed all the fluff, Tater Tot looks so small, frail even.

It might seem strange to you that the sight of my recently shaved cat, stretched out on my couch, reminded me of faith. But it did, at least of some people’s anyway. Because once you get rid of all that fluff that makes it look so large, it’s really very small and even frail.

There have been a couple of times that people have told me that their faith, their believing, feels small. One is when they’ve had the wind knocked right out of them by some circumstance in life, such as the loss of a loved one, an illness, a financial hardship, infidelity, etc.

The other is when the person’s faith has been chronically malnourished. It usually sounds something like this, “I’m just not sure what I even believe anymore.” Or “I’m not sure I even believe that stuff anymore.”

“Okay, what have you been doing to build your faith up, to feed it?” Blank stare ensues.

We’ve all been told that what feed will grow and what we starve will die.

We are all guilty of this at times. Feeding the wrong things, while starving our faith. But today I want to ask you a tough question. Beneath all the fluff, what does your faith really look like? What are you doing to feed it? Is your faith feeling weak because it is chronically malnourished?

Sometimes when our faith feels weak we ask our friends to pray for us and that’s great. But I hope your friends will also tell you, “Joker, you need to eat.” And maybe even load you up in the car and take you to that faith hospital called church. Because I would hope that if your friend saw you starving to death they’d do more than pray for you. I would hope that they would feed you and get you some medical care.

How is your faith feeling today? Fluffy? Starved? When was the last time you fed it?

After all, what you starve will die and what you feed will grow.