Wednesday, January 30, 2013

None of Us Have Done Anything to Deserve Such a Great Gift

Misión Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Todos Santos in Todos Santos.  

One of my friends is going through a difficult time.  Big transitions.  Roller coaster emotions.  A sea of uncertainty.  I called her today to check in so I could hear her voice and make sure she really was doing okay.  

While we were talking I told her that Curt and I were planning on helping her with one of her big projects.  Our simple offer exposed a love deficit in her life and took her by surprise.  As our love began to fill that deficit, she started crying.  Through tears she said, "I don't know what I've done to deserve such a gift."  It sounded silly coming from a woman who daily pours her life out for others, but I know how she feels.  Sometimes life is just so overwhelming that the simplest act of kindness feels life-transforming.  

We dried our tears, said goodbye, and I told Curt what she had said.  His reply?  "Funny thing is none of us have done anything to deserve such a great gift."  BOOM!  His wisdom blew my mind.  

Of course the gift Curt was referring to wasn't helping my friend with a project even though the sentiment was applicable.  He was referring to the gift of Jesus. And the life-transforming hope, grace, forgiveness, love, and LIFE that Jesus freely gives to His followers.  Jesus said, "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.  My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life." (John 10:10)  Who doesn't want a rich and satisfying life?  Talk about the ultimate gift.

"None of us have done anything to deserve such a great gift."  

That is what makes it love.  And I am forever grateful.

P.S.  Last night as I was contemplating the deep and vast love of Jesus and how it has changed my life, I heard for the first time a song from the band 10th Avenue North called By Your Side.  I was instantly drawn into the music, the lyrics, and the message of hope.  The YouTube video is powerful. I hope you take the time watch it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Moment - Re-post from January 2, 2011

I originally wrote this post in early January of 2011.  But the formatting was all goofy so I decided to reformat and repost.  It's great food for thought for those of you setting New Year's Resolutions.  And stay tuned for a new post I'll be writing about Katie.  Have a great day! - Jodi

I'm having "a moment."  My son - who I promise was only days ago a five-pound, wrinkly preemie - is approaching double digits.  As I was mourning how quickly he's morphing from a wise-old man in a toddler's body to a loud, active, intelligent boy, I realized that his time in our home is already halfway gone.  In eight years he'll leave for college and if those eight years are anything like the last ten, they will be gone in a blink of an eye.

I admit I may be a teeny bit melodramatic, but this realization has evoked some deep introspection.  What am I doing right as Grant's mom?  Where am I failing him?  What skills does he need to be taught between now and then to be a self-sufficient, functioning member of society?  How do I simultaneously protect and release him?  It's a daunting task this job called raising children.

Grant is such a good boy in spite of being our parenting guinea pig.  He's loud and boisterous, stylish and fun, rough but kind, intelligent but teachable, athletic and musical, sweet and godly.  I often look at him in amazement and marvel that God entrusted me with such a treasure.

Last year Curt and I asked Grant if he wanted to read the Bible cover-to-cover with us in 2010.  It required reading five chapters a day and by December 31st, he would have read the entire Old and New Testament once, the book of Proverbs twelve times, and the book of Psalms two-and-a-half times.    He thought about it for a while, declared he was up for the challenge, and immediately started getting up thirty minutes earlier every school day to make sure he had time to read the Word.  He stuck with it the entire 365 days of 2010!

Tackling this task together created accountability for all three of us.  It's hard to ask your kid, "Did you read your Bible today?" if you haven't done it yourself.  The passages I skimmed over (genealogies, censuses and architectural plans) fascinated Grant.  The "stuff on adultery" he found "sooooo boring" (thank God) but he loved all the battle stories and minor prophets filled with God's passion for justice and making all things right.  By starting with creation in Genesis and ending with Jesus setting up His eternal kingdom in Revelation, Grant's knowledge of God's Big Picture has grown.

Grant's bedroom floor became home for his Bible because he'd see it each morning and remember to meet with God.  When we traveled, his Bible came along.  It's been to Seattle, Crater Lake, Mirror Lake, Timothy Lake, and on a road trip from here to Great Falls, Montana, and back.  The binding is broken from being dropped multiple times and the gold-foiled picture is peeled off the front cover. Grant's dedication to develop his personal faith in God, to be a true follower of Jesus, and to finish what he started has moved me to tears on several occasions.  His character has been developed and I see Jesus in my son.

In eight years, my Sweet Boy will spread his wings and fly our coop.  I admit, I'm having a moment about that.  I know that in spite of my mistakes and inadequacies, God is faithful.  With that in mind, I "being confident of this" declare, "that He who began a good work in you, Grant Stilp, will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 1:6).  I can hardly wait to see the awesome Jesus-following dude you will be when you kiss my cheek and walk out that door.  I love you and am SOOOOOO proud of you!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Random Updates

I've got a bunch of randomness floating through my brain right now so I thought I would share.

1.  I'm pretty sure I've worn this sweatshirt for at least five days in a row now, with the exception of one morning wash.  I was wearing it again by the evening. Same goes with my new cozy pants.  I've barely taken them off.  And I wonder where Paige gets her crazy affinity for wearing the same thing over and over and over again even if it's shorts in the middle of winter?
my current favorite sweatshirt

2.  I've been running for five years now and have never owned a pair of running tights.  I broke my first pair in today on a long, super hilly run in cold weather with sporadic rain.  I was never cold once.  And I feel so official now.  Like I might actually qualify for being a real runner.

3.  This has been the best EVER Christmas break for our family - EVER.  (It's worth writing in CAPS twice).  We have had so much fun as family stay-cationing at home.  We've stayed up late.  Slept in (kids until 9 a.m.!!!).  Played games.  Read books.  Wrestled.  Gone to the park.  Exercised together.  Baked.  Gone out to lunch.  Watched football.  Played with friends.  Thrown mini-parties with families that we don't get to see very often.  Laughed - a lot.  Even running errands and chores have been fun.  None of us want to go back to reality, but we have to.  Tuesday morning will be a rude awakening when we all have to get up at the crack of dawn for school/work/real life.  Can someone just freeze time?

4.  I finally got around to starting the editing process of the pictures I took of the kids in November with a borrowed camera.  I now have a fresh appreciation for all my friends who are professional photographers.  Taking good pictures of people is way harder than you'd think it is.  I laughed so hard at the stuff I didn't notice until I viewed the images.  I posed almost all of the shots of the four kids together in front of a train car with funny graffiti. Really?  And the other picture of the four of them that turned out looks like Katie is grooming Paige's head.  How did I not notice that?  I definitely need more practice.  It's a good thing I have my new camera.

5.  My husband - who I think is about the Best Thing to Happen Since Sliced Bread - is painting all the hallways and the (very, very tall) entryway in our house.  Just because.  He's so great.  Curt is a very accurate and quick painter.  It amazes me.  I'm not allowed to help because I lack precision and am too sloppy.  He'd rather do it himself, than have my "help" which leaves paint splatters and "holidays" (as he calls it when you accidentally paint the ceiling or baseboard) screaming "Jodi was here."   He did however let me hold the ladder while he balanced twenty feet in the air with his paint brush duct taped to an extension pole and trimmed in the paint at the ceiling.  Even with his impossible get up, he only made two holidays.  How is that possible?  He's worn the same painting clothes every time he paints for the last eleven years.  They're covered with paint samples from the rooms in all our houses.  Isn't that fun?
That's my man.

6.  I can't believe how quickly fitness flies out the window.  Curt and I finished a two month exercise program called Insanity six weeks ago.  When we finished, we felt invincible.  I naively thought I'd maintain my cardio and strength level by running sporadically and biking at the gym.  Wrong.  I started Insanity again this week and it's just as hard the second time as it was the first.  Advil is my new best friend again.
after an Insanity workout - can you see how happy it makes me?

7.  You know that feeling when you hold your child for the first time?  You look into that sweet face and think, "I thought I knew love before this moment but I was wrong."  It's how I feel about my family right now.  It's like God has given me fresh eyes to see how incredible they are.  I almost can't handle how much I love them.  I feel like I'm about to explode with joy that God would bless me with such amazing kids and a wonderful husband.  Thank you Jesus for these incredible gifts!

8.  Hope - "a strong and confident expectation."  God keeps bringing me back to this word.  Over and over and over again.  When things have been difficult, I have felt God whisper, "Hope.  Jodi, hope in me." And then this passage in Romans 5 (verses 3-5) keeps coming back to me.  It says I should rejoice in my sufferings because suffering produces perseverance.  Perseverance, in turn, produces character.  Character produces hope.  It then says, "And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who he has given to us."  Viewing adversity through this lens definitely makes it easier to embrace it and even rejoice in it.

I took to writing "hope" on the inside of my wrist and joked that I was going to get it tattooed there as a constant reminder.  Turns out Curt felt the same way so we got matching tattoos on our anniversary to commemorate what God has done in our marriage for the last fifteen years. And to be a daily reminder to HOPE for what He will do in the next fifteen.  Of course we had it inked in Hebrew cause that's the Christian Hipster way. We inadvertently chose the verb form of the word over the more common noun form.  But we like it like that.  It's yet another reminder that hope requires action.

9.  Curt is finally on social media.  He won't do Facebook, but he has an Instagram account.  Now that I gave him a tutorial, he's addicted.

And that's the end of my randomness.  How is this new year starting out for you?