Courtney’s Confessions Continued . . . The Final Installment . . . For Now . . .

Because I have a few more pressing things to get off my chest, and let’s face it, we all need a little levity now and again. Please do not take anything said here too seriously . . . I mean they’re all true, and there is definitely some serious interwoven with the sarcastic, but also, I can laugh at myself and my weirdness because y’all, we’re all weird. 

1. I do not like reading aloud to my children (honestly, I just don’t like reading out loud period . . . I read too fast and stumble over the words). Go ahead . . . gasp . . . judge. You’re not changing anything. Thankfully, my almost 15 year isn’t about that life anymore, but I still have to power through for my youngest.

2. Speaking of reading . . . have I ever told y’all that other than my Bible, I almost exclusively read fiction when it comes to books? I have probably read less than five non-fiction books in the last 15 years. Life is too serious. To me reading should be an escape . . . a way to relax . . . and honestly, I find that the Bible more than fulfills my need for “self help” if you will. AND I know the Bible is far more than a “self help” book so don’t come at me. The Bible is my life line, and I 100% know it is not just a book of good advice.

3. Having said that, I do read medical websites and studies. For fun. I’m weird.

4. And, for someone that won’t read self help, I do love me a good Christian marriage and/or parenting podcast. I listen while I clean (I love to clean). It’s glorious.

5. Also, if you’re not listening to true-crime podcasts, and then staring at all your friends and family with suspicion are you even doing life right???

6. Just in case I haven’t solidified my nerdiness . . . I’m obsessed with sci-fi and to some extent fantasy movies (and books). Give me some Star Wars, Star Trek (My Star Trek love might be my biggest confession ever . . . cheesy and corny? absolutely . . . so much fun to watch? also, absolutely . . . ), Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Narnia . . . I am there for all of them.

7. In keeping with the same vein . . . weirdness . . . I have a weather obsession. I should’ve been a meteorologist. I check the weather approximately 800 times/day as if that’s going to change anything. I stalk weather websites. Also, it’s (way too) hot and (way too) dry in Texas. I don’t love the dead of summer, and it came early this year.

8. I HATE camping. Abhor it. It’s solidly against my ethical and moral beliefs for no other reason than the fact that I hate it. I feel like I’ve told y’all this one before as well. But for emphasis I must restate. I HATE it. Everyone’s like, “You can set your tent up near the restrooms where you can shower . . . “, “You can plug a fan in with an extension cord . . . “, “You can bring a portable potty . . . ” (gag me), “You can sleep on a cot, and it’s so comfy . . . ” OR . . . OR . . . OR . . . I can check into the Marriott down the road. Hike all day . . . sweat . . . get dirty . . . and go back to my hotel room and shower and sleep in a real bed with real AC. Yes and amen. And seriously y’all, there is no need to try to sell me on the greatness that is (not) camping. It’s not a moral failure that I don’t like to camp, and I promise if you set out to convince me, you will die on that hill because I am not changing my mind.

9. The beach . . . the ocean . . . absolutely beautiful . . . the crashing waves . . . the roaring seas . . . the sun reflecting off the water . . . the salt and sand sticking to me . . . the burning of my eyes and skin . . . my hair becoming frizzier by the minute . . . the hauling of every toy and towel and chair ever made down to the beach to sit there for approximately an hour only to hear, “Can we go to the pool now?” Sorry, I got sidetracked. I have an odd relationship with the beach. I love it, but going to the beach with kids is not relaxing. It’s a lot of work. And because I’m virtually transparent, I have to wear copious amounts of SPF 1,000,000 and reapply every 10 min. But alas my children (mainly my youngest) love the beach so I’ve spent many an hour applying sunscreen and sitting in the sand to please their water loving souls.

10. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m a huge introvert. And I’m a bit socially awkward. But once you get to know me, you realize that I’m definitely not shy or quiet, and I promise I’m not rude. I’m just reserved. Because, as I said before . . . socially awkward. And I would say something cliché (and possibly, profound???) like “still waters run deep”, but I confessed I like Star Trek so I’m not sure y’all will buy it.

THE END … I promise that’s it for Courtney’s Confessions … at least for a while.

Confessions of an Almost 41 year Old Woman. . . 10 Things . . .

  1. I eat instant Ramen . . . not every day . . . not every week . . . but I eat it a couple times a month (with stir fried veggies thrown in . . . as if that makes it healthy . . . ha!). I love it. I’m not apologizing for that. No need to tell me how unhealthy Ramen is . . . I know. No need to tell me it will stay in a ball in your stomach . . . not entirely accurate as it is . . . it’s just super hard to digest. So there you have it . . . I eat Ramen.
  2. I have a dress and shoe buying problem . . . which is interesting considering I don’t have a real job and wear sweats and t-shirts 95% of the time.
  3. I hate driving. If I’m ever independently wealthy I’ll do a lot of good with my money, but also, I’m going to have a full time driver. Because I hate driving.
  4. I have a love/hate relationship with summer. I love that we don’t have to get up before 6:00 a.m. every morning . . . why does school start so early??? Why??? But y’all my kids are always hungry, and they talk . . . a lot. They both eat and talk constantly. All. The. Time. Did I say constantly? I’ve heard so many basketball stats my brain has turned to mush. Also, why??? But I love them so . . .
  5. I hate painting my toenails, and I’m too cheap/stingy with both my time and money to actually get a pedicure (or a manicure). But running can make your toenails less than pretty so paint them I do.
  6. And because God has a sense of humor, my daughter makes me paint her nails approximately 50 times/week. I still don’t like it.
  7. In keeping with that, I’m not a huge fan of make-up or fixing my hair or any of those things . . . which you’d think I would be considering my aforementioned dress and shoe buying addiction. My grandmother is in heaven rolling her eyes and shaking her head. She tried her best to instill a deep love of all things make-up in her granddaughters. I think she succeeded with, maybe, 2 or 3 out of a whole bunch of us girls. But every time I wear lipstick (which isn’t super often) I wear it for her.
  8. I seriously don’t love working out . . . but I do it anyway.
  9. I am very organized because I’m also very scatter brained. Without major organization and structure, I get nothing accomplished. I just wander aimlessly jumping from one task to another. So I make myself use a planner, and lists, and I stick to a routine. Otherwise we’d live in a pit of half washed laundry and eat nothing but Ramen every single day. 😉
  10. And finally, I’m happily turning 41 next week. Unlike 40, it is not a milestone or a monumental birthday. It’s just one year closer to 50. But honestly, I’m pretty certain the 40th decade was meant for me. I like being in my 40s. I like that I feel good in my skin, and I like the idea of aging with grace (hopefully). It is a gift. But also, I wear sunscreen everyday and use a myriad of anti-aging creams at night (no idea if they actually work) because the wrinkles . . . ehhh . . . I’d like to hold off on those as long as possible.

Bonus: These were supposed to be bullet points, but brevity is not my gift. Also, I’m sure some are repeats, but it is what it is.

He Heals the Brokenhearted and Binds Up Their Wounds

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Uvalde, TX

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

This morning dawned impossibly beautiful. Rather than oppressively hot and muggy the air is cool, the heat washed away by rain. The sun is shining, and the sky is dotted with clouds. It all feels so wrong. It feels so wrong that the morning is fresh and clear when the heart of Texas is completely broken today. When 19 children will never return home again. When two teachers gave their lives doing a job that should never require that kind of sacrifice. When families are forever marked and altered because of the absolute evil that possessed one man yesterday. It feels like it should be heavy . . . gray . . . oppressive on today of all days. But it’s not. It’s unbelievably not.

I don’t have words. I don’t know what to say. I debated writing anything because it’s all too close. We are not far removed from the tragedy of yesterday. In Texas terms, Uvalde is “just down the road”, a little over two hours away. If you’ve ever lived or traveled in Texas, you know that two hours is a day trip. It’s not a random town thousands of miles away. It’s a town, so much like our town. Same size. Same kids. Same teachers. Honestly, the same schools. Only slightly different. Separated by less than 150 miles.

I hugged my second grader goodbye this morning. I told her I loved her as I held back tears. I honestly, thought about keeping her home. But I didn’t. I drove past the schools later. I saw the police cars parked on campuses. I prayed as drove past.

I’ve taught school. I taught fourth grade. I was sitting with my students the day Sandy Hook happened. I have not forgotten the utter despair I felt as the news rolled in that December day.

I am a parent. I send my children off to school each day. The thought of this kind of tragedy crosses my mind every now and again, but I say a prayer and set it aside as most of us do.

The reality is we live in such a broken world. We live in a world filled with sin. We live in a world that needs a Savior. That’s what I know. That’s what I know to share. The political statements . . . the arguments that have already ensued . . . the screaming and the fighting and the battle lines drawn in the sand . . . they’ve already started. As a former educator, and even more so as a parent, I do believe that something has to happen. That something . . . more than one something . . . needs to change. I have my own personal opinions about what should and should not take place on our school campuses, in our homes and families, in our communities, and in our governments. That’s not what I’m speaking to here. It’s neither the time nor the place. Because I also know that at the heart of it, we cannot legislate away evil. Nor will we ever be able to stop evil with more and better security. I am not here to belabor or argue any of those points. We need a heart change. We need a transformation. We need a Savior. We need Jesus. That’s what I know.

I do not believe for a second that prayer is a passive offering that doesn’t do much. I firmly believe that prayer is the MOST actionable thing we can do when faced with such a deep and insurmountable tragedy. I believe prayer absolutely changes things. So I’ll leave it at this. Please pray. Pray for the parents and grandparents . . . the brothers and sisters . . . the spouses and children . . . that will never see or hold their family members again this side of Heaven. Pray for the children and school staff, the first responders and law enforcement, the doctors and the nurses, who are suffering from the unimaginable trauma and heartbreak that yesterday brought. Pray for Uvalde. Pray for Texas. Pray for our nation. Pray. Just Pray.

He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
– Psalm 147:3

Saying “No” Revisited . . . Alternately, Maybe One Day I’ll Learn This Lesson . . . Alternately, June is Off Limits . . .

Somewhere about mid-week last week, I had a small meltdown. I reached the point where if one more person asked me to do one more thing, I thought I might lose my ever-loving mind. It wasn’t anyone else’s fault. It was and is the result of having two kids, who are in two very different ages/stages, in two towns 20 minutes apart complicated by the fact that not only was I emotionally and physically drained, but my youngest, who has some not always so obvious special needs, was also feeling the pressure of “too much”. When she gets overwhelmed, I not only have to manage my emotions but hers as well, and her threshold for getting overwhelmed, because of her history and unique needs, is much lower than most children her age.

I’m an introverted, type A, enneagram 1 personality. I need . . . I crave . . . structure, order, and routine, and as much as I love people, too many people, too many activities, too many projects do the opposite of energize me. As a rule, I’m a pretty energetic person. I don’t need tons of sleep. I don’t need days laying on the couch watching Netflix, but I need time alone to regroup. I need time to read my bible and pray. I need to write. And even though I don’t need a ton of it, I do need some sleep. The month of May (nor the month of April . . . and honestly, most of this year) has not given me that.

So, while most of what has gone on is unavoidable, I’ve decided that I’m going to make sure that June does not hold the same level of crazy for our household. I’m giving myself and my family the gift of “no”. If you ask us to be “there” or do “it” (wherever and whatever “there” and “it” may be), there’s a good chance the answer will be “no”. I’ve already talked to my oldest about this, and while I think his social/school/athletic activities are very important, I am also a big believer in making sure our kids have plenty of unscheduled, downtime.

Every time we say “yes” to one thing, we’re also saying “no” to something else. Unfortunately, the things we often say “no” to are not the correct things. We end up saying “no” to the people and relationships that are most important, in addition to our own peace of mind, in order to keep others happy.

If I’m learning anything in this stage of my life, it’s that I need to have boundaries, AND also, I need to respect the boundaries of others. They are essential to functioning in a healthy way in this world. If someone tells me no, I need to respect that even if I don’t agree with it, and I do NOT need to guilt trip that person into feeling like they have to do whatever it is I’m asking of them. I need to remember that just because I take something on, does not mean I should expect others to take on that same thing.

If you’ve been around for a while you know that I’ve written about this more than a couple times. So why write about it again? Why share all of this? Because I 100% know I am not alone. I am absolutely certain, I’m not the only one struggling to learn and live by this lesson. And I have no doubt, too many of us are walking around, taking on things we should never take on, saying yes when we should say no, and we’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and running ourselves physically and emotionally ragged. We’re sacrificing ourselves, our relationship with God, our marriages, our families at the altar of pleasing others and being busy, at doing all the good things (and yes, this includes church activities), and it’s not worth it.

Revisiting WWJD . . . Part Two

“I have an idea . . . ” words frequently heard coming out my nine year old’s mouth.

Some of these ideas are cute. Some give me pause. And some . . . well, let’s just say they have me applying the brakes super quickly. But regardless of where we land with her ideas, they just keep rolling in.

I wish ideas popped into my brain just as easily. Or maybe I wish cute ideas popped into my brain just as easily. Because, here lately, at least, I’ve been avoiding writing because there’s a fine line between speaking truth and lecturing. I always want to speak truth, but I truly want it to spoken with love and grace. And lately, I’m finding that a bit challenging.

Last summer I wrote a post entitled, Throwing it Back . . . What Would Jesus Do? What Did Jesus Do? And today, after a pretty intense conversation with someone I love, I found myself going back to that question all over again. The conversation was one of a few I’ve had with people recently regarding helping, providing for the physical needs while also tending to the spiritual needs, of those both in and out of America. Because there’s this school of thinking, with which I do not agree, that we should only serve here . . . that we should only adopt here . . . that our only ministry should be here . . . in the United States of America. I won’t go into the nitty gritty details, but I do want to share, at least in part, my response (not because it’s anything earth shattering, but because I deeply feel that this is what God has put on my heart regarding this topic of conversation), “I think God calls us all to different things. If He calls me to serve overseas (or down the street or in another state or on the far side of the moon . . . ), that’s what I’ll do . . . as someone who is a Christian, I serve a God without borders. The bible literally tells us to go into all the world . . .” There was more, but you get the gist. And I would add, something that may make me wildly unpopular with some, but something that I think needs to be said, God is not American. Saying that in no way negates my love or my pride for my country. Having said that, I am a Christian before I’m an American . . . or even a Texan . . . if you know, you know . . . Texas pride is a real thing y’all. But at the end of the day where He calls me to serve, to give, to cover in prayer is where I will serve and give and cover in prayer.

I refuse to be ruled by cynicism in the name of realism. To let selfishness be disguised as protecting myself or my family. I keep looking at the situations we’re faced with, our country and our world spiraling, and I think “What would Jesus really do here? How would He respond? What would He say” Because, somehow, I think if we did this, there’d be a whole lot less stone throwing, and a lot more compassion and grace extended. And as I’ve said so many times before, I am in no way excusing or giving license to sin. Jesus was brutally honest, calling out sin without hesitation, while, at the same time, being immensely gentle. I often wonder what Jesus would say if He read our Facebook posts, walked in on our conversations . . . in our churches, in our homes, around our dinner tables . . . watched how we acted toward and treated others . . . because He reads them, those Facebook posts . . . He hears them, those conversations we have . . . He’s watching, the things we do. Not because He’s out to get us, but because He loves us. All. Of. Us. He loves me, and He loves you, and He loves people living halfway around the world. And He wants the best for us. So I’m back to the question “What would Jesus do?” And I’m back to asking myself if what I’m choosing is what He would have me choose.

You don’t have to agree with me. I’m not a fan of confrontation or disagreements as a rule, but at the end of my life, I won’t answer to anyone but Jesus for the things I did and said and to which I lent myself.

Priorities . . . Monday Morning Thoughts

Number one . . . that’s the place where God should reside and dwell in our hearts . . . the position He should hold in our lives. It’s not a new revelation. It’s not news to me, and yet, it seems like something, anything, and everything are constantly pushing and vying for that spot.

I was thinking about how crazy our world seems. In reality, I think the world has always been crazy. Since the fall of man, all those thousands of years ago in the garden, the world has been a crazy place because sin will that do that to you. People are reactive, offended, critical, contentious, and angry . . . in the world, but also, in the church. And we can blame a million different things and people.

We can say “if only” . . .

“If only _____________ was in charge” . . .

“If only _____________ didn’t happen” . . .

“If only, if only, if only . . .”

But the only “if only” that really needs to be said is, “If only Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit took first place in people’s lives . . . “.

That’s the only “if only” that matters. If our lives aren’t colored by the blood of Jesus, then they’re colored by everything else. If we’re not living led by the power of the Holy Spirit then we’re being led by the flesh. We can’t have it both ways. So many things, good things, vie, for our attention . . . our top priority . . . family, work, friends, serving, politics, church and ministry . . . yes, even church and ministry can take priority over God . . . even church and ministry can become an idol . . . just because you’re there doing all the things, all the time, doesn’t mean that God is truly first . . .

I’ll say it again, for myself, and for the people in the back. We aren’t going to be led by the Holy Spirit if we’re not seeking Him for ourselves. If we’re not in His word, studying and praying, for ourselves. I love listening to pastors and teachers of the word. I learn and glean so much from others, but there is not a man or woman on this planet that is infallible (no one, nada, not a single one). Which why, when I listen to teachings and sermons, studies and podcasts, I’ll often (that should be always) go back to the word of God, and at times even to the original text (also, so important to do this with different translations of the bible because accurate, biblical translation is imperative!), to be sure that what I’m taking in, what I’m hearing, lines up with the reality and truth of the bible. Just because it sounds good and elicits an emotional response, doesn’t mean it is good or true. If everything I put into practice is filtered through the mind and interpretation of another, imperfect, human being, I have a problem. If I never take the time to seek Him for myself, to set the teachings and devotionals and sermons of others aside . . . all good, don’t hear me wrong . . . all needed, because I think it’s so very important to learn from others . . . then I’m not going to be able to accurately judge and discern the truth of what I’m taking in.

Even the most qualified, wise, and Godly preachers and teachers, miss it sometimes, and it’s okay to say you don’t always agree with everything. It’s more than okay to take a deep dive into God’s word for yourself and see if what you’re learning and hearing is true. That’s growth. That’s the development of a personal walk and relationship with our God. That’s moving from milk to meat. That’s seeking the truth of God’s word for ourselves. God gave us His perfect word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to be read and learned from by us. We are able to take it and understand it, through the power of the Holy Spirit on its own. The bible doesn’t need any help from anyone.

And those are my Monday morning ramblings. Bottom line . . . there’s no substitute for God’s word, and the only way to make Him a priority is to make Him and His word (that’s the bible and prayer, y’all) a priority. Hello, that’s bold for a reason. You had to read all that “stuff” I wrote just to get to the point. No one has ever accused me of brevity with my words. Happy Monday everyone!

Side note: This is not the first time I’ve written about this. You can read more of my past ponderings on this topic, as well as the importance of accurate translations of the bible . . . because that’s a whole thing with me . . . you need to be sure that you’re using an accurate translation when studying and there are definitely some inaccurate ones . . . in this post right here. Click on “here” it will take you there ;).

Four Months In . . .

April 28th . . . did anyone else look up this morning and wonder how we’re already at the end of April? How we’re four months into the “new” year, and rapidly approaching the end of another school year?

April has been the most insane month. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to schedule all the appointments ever in April, and May is shaping up to be only slightly less crazy. Have I written all of this before? Probably. Life is so incredibly busy right now. With two kiddos in two different schools in two different towns, I feel like I constantly have somewhere to be . . . someone to drop off or pick up . . . a meeting . . . an activity . . . an appointment or sporting event . . . you get the point.

Yes, I’m pretty certain I’ve written about this before. But here’s the thing, my introverted self doesn’t do well with all the busy. It sucks me totally dry emotionally. You know how your phone battery doesn’t stay charged very well or for very long when you have all the apps open, the flashlight on, and you’re running videos? That’s my brain with all the things going on right now. And when that happens, I tend to keep pushing until I almost lose it . . . or actually lose it . . . and that’s nothing anyone wants to see.

Way back at the end of 2021, I wrote about my word for 2022 being grace. And in all the chaos of life, I’ve lost sight of that. Because when I don’t give myself margin to recharge . . . when I don’t take the time to sit in the silence . . . to really pray . . . to just be and not do all the things. I don’t have the grace I need for myself or for others. I went for a long run this morning, because that is one of the main ways I recharge (I know it’s weird), and it occurred to me that in order to live the way I want to live . . . to give the way I want and need to give . . . to be what and who I want and need to be for God, for myself, for my family and friends . . . I need grace but I also need to be vulnerable.

So there it is, word number two for 2022, vulnerability. I’m not talking about fake vulnerability where we vomit all our emotions and sins and problems all over everyone we see both in real life and on social media all in the name of “authenticity”. I’m not talking about drama for days. I’m talking about having an open heart, a willingness to share both our triumphs and our trials, in meaningful and honest ways with those around us. I’m talking about admitting I can’t do it all or be it all . . . and ugh . . . I’m not perfect . . . I’m not the perfect wife or mom or Christian . . . I hate that so much . . . being imperfect, but yeah, Jesus is the only human that has every been able to claim that title. Hence the fact, that I need my gracious Savior. I’m talking my ongoing struggle with saying “no” because, surprise, I can be a people pleaser . . . who would’ve thought it? I’m talking about also being discretely honest, not gossipy, because ain’t nobody got time for gossip, when it comes to the “why” behind some of the boundaries I’ve set up and decisions I make. And lastly, or at least lastly for this post, I’m talking about being a whole lot more open emotionally. Emotions are dumb . . . I like even keeled all the time . . . extremes aren’t my thing . . . but, while I know as a follower of Christ, I am not to be ruled by extreme emotions, I have also come to the realization that not allowing yourself to feel what you feel, to express what you feel, is just another form of being ruled by emotion.

So here we are, at the end of a CRAZY April heading into an equally CRAZY May. And look at that, we’re still learning and seeking and changing. Here’s to a whole lot more grace accepted and extended in the months to come coupled with a side of vulnerability, and hopefully, here’s to a much quieter summer.

Let Them Grow Up

I ran into a high school friend a couple weeks ago. She has four boys ranging in age from older than my oldest to younger than my youngest. Her oldest left last fall for his first year of college, and we were chatting about how she missed him, but there were no tears on her part. Because that’s exactly what we want to raise our kids to be . . . independent, young adults . . . if at all possible, and of course, based on their own levels of maturity, we want our kids to grow up and leave home. The goal is not for them to depend on us forever.

Let them be little . . . we’ve all heard it . . . I’m a firm believer in letting our children be children . . . in not pushing them too hard, too fast . . . whether that be at school or at home . . . but also . . . there comes a time when we must let them grow up.

I’m a big fan of Christian based marriage and family podcasts (Focus on the Family being one of the top ones), and over and over this is a recurring theme. And I’ve learned, from listening to those wiser and with more experience along with digging into God’s word, how important and imperative it is for parents to allow their children to grow up. To allow them to begin to, safely, stretch their wings once they hit those teen years. It just seems like so many parents try to stop the process from happening. They try to stifle the independence and want to “keep them little” as long as possible . . . even when the time to be little has long since passed. The problem with that is the codependency and enabling it breeds are not emotionally healthy for anyone involved.

Having said that, it’s also proving to be one of the more complex parts of parenting . . . thus far, anyway . . . there’s definitely a balance to be struck in allowing my teenager to grow into a young adult. In knowing when to step in, but also in knowing when to pull back. It’s in not rescuing. In refraining from jumping in every time he has an assignment or a project or even a problem with friends . . . or girls. Not that I (or more aptly, we) never give advice, but also, it’s in letting him make choices and decisions on his own (within reason of course . . . he’s still a teenage boy which means his frontal lobe still has quite a bit of development left), and then allowing him to own those decisions and the subsequent consequences, be they good or bad. It’s in adding in, and sometimes pushing a little bit, more and more appropriate responsibility both within our home and out in the world. Which is one of the reasons he helps with laundry and cleans his own bedroom and bathroom and does various other chores. . . yardwork anyone? Part of growing up is contributing . . . it’s learning how to take care of things properly, and this “kid” isn’t really a kid anymore. He’s approaching adulthood at a rapid pace. Ultimately, it’s in letting go of the reigns a little bit and allowing there to be more freedom within broader, healthy boundaries. Knowing that we still have to lead and guide, and yes, set rules and boundaries. But he’s not a toddler any longer, and we aren’t in the business of micromanaging every aspect of his life.

Some days there’s a tug-of-war. Often, it’s a tug-of-war between parent and child. I mean, he definitely has no problem sharing his opinions or exerting a little independence, and as long as he’s respectful and it’s appropriate, I try my hardest to resist the urge to fight it (operative word being “try”). Which means sometimes that tug-of-war takes place in my own mind as I have to shut my mouth and ask God to help me to back off . . . to let him make choices with which I might not fully agree . . . that may not be exactly the best . . . that may lead to a little pain and heartache . . . but also, knowing that he needs to learn while he’s still under our guidance . . . while we’re still, as much as possible, his safety net. And believe me, none of this happens without a lot of prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

Of course, the caveat to all of this is that some children mature more slowly. I have two very different children with very different needs, and some children need more guidance for longer in order to truly be safe. There’s no hard, fast rule that says they must walk out the door at 18, but unless, they have special needs, then there comes a time when walking out the door is a must. When launching has to happen. And if you have a child with special needs, especially developmental or emotional, you know all bets are off. Please don’t think I’m oblivious to that. Believe me, I’m far from it. Those things aside, we have to let our children be children when their little, but then, we have to allow them the freedom to become the totally, independent adults they were created to be. We have to let them grow up.

Truly Good News of Great Joy

He Is Risen

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

The Women Worship the Risen Lord

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” ~ Matthew 28:1-10

The Great Commission

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. ~ Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus’s birth . . . His life . . . His crucifixion and resurrection . . . they were the only beginning . . . the beginning of the most beautiful story of redemption and forgiveness and grace mankind has or will ever experience. The Easter bunny . . . the eggs . . . the fun and the food all pale in comparison to the great sacrifice my Savior made for me. . . they fade into the background when I think about that joyous morning when those women went to the tomb and realized their Jesus lived.

He is risen! We must tell the world!

And I Cried . . .

I teach youth two Sundays out of the month. If you’ve ever taught teenagers you know they can be a tough crowd, and I think, the cardinal rule of teaching teens is “Don’t let them see you cry”.

When Palm Sunday rolled around, I originally thought I’d teach on the triumphal entry, but decided, instead, to cover the time from Jesus’s arrest to His resurrection. It’s a lot of ground, a ton of scripture, to cover . . . I knew I’d have to move quickly. And, more importantly, the subject matter is heavy . . . there’s no way to avoid that unless you just don’t teach it which was not an option. So, I went over it once, and then, I went over it again and again. I knew what I was teaching. I had a few stopping points, but mostly, I was sharing, straight from the book of Matthew, the story of who this “man” was and is . . . fully God . . . fully man . . . our Savior . . . our Messiah . . . our Jesus. I thought I was prepared.

Here’s the thing, I never used to cry. I don’t like crying. I wasn’t raised to cry so I’ve always been able to shut it off and down quickly. But something has happened to me over the last ten years, and y’all, I cry so easily now.

But I was prepared . . . I knew what I was going to be teaching and reading . . . I thought I had my emotions under control . . . and then I hit Matthew 27:27. . .

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. Matthew 27:27-31

And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, “I am the Son of God.” Matthew 27:39-43

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27: 44-45

And as I read through those scriptures, all the way through Matthew 28 when the women realize the tomb is empty and Jesus has risen, I cried. I stood there in front of almost 20 teenagers, my voice cracking, stopping to take deep breaths, and I read through all of it, wiping tears the entire time. It wasn’t just what happened to Jesus, I would hope that, at least in private, the brutality of it all, would bring us to tears. But it is more than that. It’s the realization that He could’ve called His angels to save Him. He could’ve “come down from the cross”. He was and is the Son of God. He could’ve spoken up and defended Himself and chosen to not suffer, but He chose the suffering for me. He not only physically suffered to the point of death. He took every sin of all mankind, from Adam and Eve to the end of eternity, upon Himself in those moments. Can you imagine the weight? The crushing guilt and shame? The darkness and depression? And then to have His Heavenly Father have to look away because of those very sins . . . sins Jesus never committed . . . and He did it all for me . . . He did it all for you . . .

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. Isaiah 64:6

My righteousness . . . my goodness . . . my good deeds . . . “are like filthy rags”. I am not good enough. I can never be good enough. You are not good enough. Not a soul that has ever lived is going to be able to earn their way to heaven. That’s why He came. That’s why He suffered. That’s why He died. And that’s why He rose again.

The even better news . . . the best news . . . the most beautiful news . . . not a soul living on this earth is beyond the reach of Jesus’s blood and righteousness . . .

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:10-12

So yeah, I cried . . . there were some smirks . . . some smart-alecky comments . . . I’m sure I looked like an idiot, but then one of the sweet girls looked at me afterward and said, “That was really something special wasn’t it?” And she wasn’t talking about my teaching. She was talking about what Jesus did, and you know what? I don’t care. I don’t care if I cry in front of 20 or 100 or 1000 teenagers. I don’t care how humiliating it is. What truly matters is if just one of those kids grasps the sacrifice made and the love of the Savior, Who literally gave all so that we could live victoriously free in Him, both here and for all eternity, then it was and is worth all my tears and discomfort and humiliation.