Posted on January 25, 2016
Joy cracks conformity.
“Mom,” my seven-year old wept as she slunked against the cold window on the way home from school, “it happened again.”
A chill stemmed from my heart to the heated steering wheel as I swiped the volume down.
“Same person?” I pressed.
“One stopped, but there’s still one more.”
Kids are funny about what they share, aren’t’ they? Brianne unravels the truth as she needs mine to apply to it. Perfect, because I can’t handle the whole story at once emotionally, anymore than she can digest the entirety of my reaction/advice.
“I thought it was only one person doing it…” I said in a fake, I’m-not-angry-about-it-at-all tone.
“Well, there were more, but now there’s just one …and she keeps erasing my mascot.” The tears were now visible in the rear view mirror, and I could barely drive I wanted to hug her so bad.
“Your mascot?” My own tears blocked the road.
“Yes, Happy Heart…my mascot,” she explained.
“Well that’s-not very-nice and I’m-so sorry,” I blurted in a cracked tone.
“The thing I don’t get is that she’s my friend…”
Now she was full on crying, and so was I…and so was little sis Lo.
Some friend. I had to pull back from the conversation and revert to comforting mode before I let my anger drive my mouth and call the kid’s parents. Later on, I yearned to define what a true friend was to my daughter…so I Googled it. Dictionary.com says a friend is:
No where in that list of definitions does it require one friend to conform to another, yet we have mixed reactions to differences in qualifying and ranking our friendships, don’t we? Let’s face it, sometimes Emo Joe is a ‘ way cooler’ mascot than Happy Heart. The challenge to define and find friendship requires a look inward at how to be a good friend.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though. Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fireman result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1Peter1:6-7
I think a little bit of Jesus Christ is revealed right in these two verses, shedding light on the definition of friendship in two ways:
A good friend is genuine, a trait revealed by trials.
Jesus is genuine. He was tested and put through trials, leaving no doubt of His faith, glory, and honor. Strong’s Concordance says the word genuineness in Greek is adolos, meaning “free from fraud.” Jesus knew fraud. He experienced it. Upon His arrest, all twelve apostles fled. They failed that friend test. Imagine the betrayal Jesus felt, when just hours earlier they were all hanging out with Him, appalled at innuendos of betrayal within their circle. Jesus died for them anyway, forgiving them long before they knew to apologize. He did not let it affect who He was or what He was called to do. Aim to apply the forgiveness of failure to your friendships, and allow them to stick around long enough to travel through trials.
Erase the mistakes. Put the good back up.
Forgive and forget or forgo friendship. Jesus gets erased, but He doesn’t give up. He is repeatedly being removed by an increasingly secular society. Merium Webster’s definition of secular is: “of, relating to or controlled by the government rather than the church.” I personally don’t want to be ruled by either.
“The LORD is my strength…I WILL praise Him.”- Exodus 15:2 (emphasis added.)
“Draw the Happy Heart,” I told Brianne, “Keep putting it back up.”
It’s hard to rescind the urge to hide my child from hurt, but it’s important to pray through the appropriate times to let go and let them be lights. Though the darker side of life will attempt to snuff them out, light cannot be erased.
The joy eluded to in the verse above doesn’t just appear immediately in our hearts. We have to find it and fight for it.
“In 1Thes 5:16–18 Paul turns from instructions covering attitudes and actions toward fellow believers and other human beings to instructions dealing with attitudes toward God.” -NIV Application Commentary
What is our attitude toward God? Do we think of Him in fulfillment of those definitions of friendship above? It should be the first place our minds drift, because even secular socialites will admit the fault in humanity to execute those definitions to perfection. But Jesus did…and can…and does.
God tells us to “be joyful” not “be lemmings.” You’re stomach’s going to drop every time the heart is erased.
It’ll never feel right because we are not of this world.
You are a crack in the ice.
Humans are human. Don’t get mad at “the eraser.” Don’t let the sound of footsteps scattering break your spirit. Don’t hold any one person accountable for one Savior’s job. Don’t be naive, but your friends off the hook of perfection.
“Did you put the Happy Heart back up?” I asked one night over spaghetti and meatballs.
“Yep!” she smiled, blue eyes especially sparkling, “And he’s holding up a sign that says J.A.M.!!”
J.A.M. for Jesus And Me…She’s the proudest new member of the kids praise and worship team at church. Erase her mascot, but can’t get to her heart.
At all times, and especially in adversity. The light will fight it’s way through…the ice will crack. You needn’t look any further for the best friend you’ll ever find. It’s Jesus’ joy that cracks conformity. It’s through Him alone that we tap into the light of His Father. Lean into Him when you’re being squeezed.
In a world freezing fast…seek Him…the crack in the ice.
Posted on January 12, 2016
A joyful mascot can refresh the screen of chaos, and offer comfort in a state of limbo.
“Tico Taco, ya ya ya-Tico Taco, ya ya ya!” The brief jaunt to school each dawn is consumed in chaos. Especially the day Tico Taco (our trusty plastic parrot car mascot) had just been ceremonially crowned with appropriate attire for the Christmas season. The countdown to Christmas Vacation had begun, and I couldn’t help but turn the volume up.
Christmas is my favorite.
“BWEE!!!!!!!” My youngest screened, her feet pressed into the back of my seat only to endanger the steaming coffee I balanced in one hand as I juggled a spelling word list and the steering wheel in the other. “I WANT TO HUG MOM FIRST!!!!” Her older sister retorted, as she stiff-armed her little sister whilst her face mangled into a crazed bout of competition.
I took a deep breath of concentration as I rounded the drop off curve, and then let my guard down just enough to let an “uh-oh” escape my mouth at maximum volume. Looking shocked as if someone had stolen their mommy and put another weirdo in the driver’s seat, my little Lo said…
“Mommy, it is NOT NICE to say shut-up.” Opportunistic little munchkin, isn’t she?
I apologized to my girls and let the guilt of dropping them off to school on such a sour note, after having them home for two weeks, eat at me until the tears were about to roll out of my eyelids. I return home to straighten their beds, tidy their rooms, and put Christmas away.
I miss my kids when they go. I love every chaotic minute of destruction and laziness that we craft together when they are home. Paper scraps cover the floor, markers lose thier caps, mountains of stuffed animals hog the couch, laundry bins are filled with Jammie’s…
Christmas is my favorite. And when it’s all over, I’m left feeling wind blown and little sad.
Lingering in the stark silence of limbo, another season in life tucked into the past, my eyes scanned a strategically straightened desk to fall upon the neatly written list of New Year’s resolutions I had carefully crafted. I felt a stark sting of irony over the recent work-space relocation from the top of the stairs to the bottom.
I determined not to be defeated by fear of the undone, and recalled that morning’s walk while swiping through the images I snapped. I strolled through my morning journal full of fluorescent yellow text meant to encourage my heart. I can do this, because I don’t have to do all of this,” I told myself. And I don’t. God has never led me into a season in life that He hasn’t prepared me for, and I know He’ll be there to sustain my resolve to further His agenda.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” -2Chronicles 16:9
I was not the first one to park in the pick up line that day, but I aimed to be. My sweet little angels barreled into the backseat much in the way they fought their way out of it eight hours earlier.
“How was your day-I missed you!!!!!” I screeched in delight!
“BWEE!!!!!” the little one hollered…“LLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” the other whinnied.
Oh, how sweet the sound.
Did you know that God feels the same way about you?
Even though we get in and out of the car kicking and screaming, He can’t wait until we come back …and He’s loving us …and thinking about us… The entire time we’re gone. Though the strong presence of the Christmas season has passed, His gaze for you has not faded at all.
“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
As we move on from the sparkle of the Christmas season and into the stark dead of winter here in the Midwest, I hope you know that God wants ALL of your days to be merry ….and bright.
Happy Holiday Packing Away…