Sunday, January 28, 2018

goodbye tiny house...hello 2 bathrooms

Yes. You read right.
Our year in the tiny house has come to close and in the miraculous way
that only God can do, He opened the doors for us in this crazy Bay Area rental market,
to rent a home with 2 BATHROOMS.

This is more important than how many bedrooms it has. (3)
Or how cute the kitchen is. (stainless steel appliances)
Or how big the living room is (plenty big with a fireplace.)
Because it means that no one will be peeing in the backyard anymore.

Just to be clear, I never once in the whole year used the backyard as a potty.
(There were, however, some desperate moments where I considered it.)

When we were looking for a new place to live I posed the question to our boys,
"Is it more important to have 3 bedrooms or 2 bathrooms?"

A universal shriek went up, "2 BATHROOMS!"
There may have been a slight note of hysteria in some of the voices.
Our family starts calling out, "I get bathroom first!" miles away from reaching our home.

Some of your may be thinking, "Big deal. I have had 2 bathrooms for years."
"Calm down. I have a 3 1/2 baths. 2 bathrooms is nothing to brag about."

But those of you with 1 bathroom and multiple children know what I am talking about.
You know why my voice catches with tears when I say,
"Two bathrooms, guys....2 BATHROOMS!"

Bathrooms can set the tone of your day....or week.
We have over-users in the house. Bathroom hogs, so to speak.
Those who lollygag and dawdle.
The rest of the family suffers.
The over-users have sent a few folks sprinting to the bushes on more than one occasion.

Let me be clear.
2 bathrooms is extravagant living.
Just like having drinkable water, electricity and 3 squares a day.

I know this.
In my travels, I have used squatty potties, outhouses and on occasion, nature
as my bathroom.
Arriving back home, I was always overwhelmed by the beauty of a neatly tiled bath,
complete with sink and toilet.

Over 2 billion people in the world right now don't have basic sanitation.
Over 8 million still have to do their business out in the open.
And not because they are camping. Because they are surviving.
Disease is held at bay when plumbing is present.
Cities thrive when toilets arrive.
London, Paris and New York?
All giant plague-ridden cesspools before sanitation.
History tells the story. I am not lying.
Bathrooms have revolutionized our world.

There is a certain amount of entitlement that I have lived with for years.
For 11 years, we lived in a 4 bedroom 2 bath home.
This past year? A 2 bedroom 1 bath.
This small home has been a gift to us.
An eye opener. A blessing.
And a reminder of how easily I take for granted the extravagances of modern life.
Wi-Fi. Refrigeration. Central heating. Hot and cold running water. Transportation.

Blessing upon blessing upon blessing poured on me day after day.
And I can complain about having 1 toilet?
Forget about it.

I am determined to enter this new season with a open heart of thankfulness
about every good and perfect gift that the Father has continued to pour out on me.
Even toilets.
I don't want to live entitled. I want to live grateful.
He has given me so much...every day....and I have just taken it in....
like I deserve it.
Like a rich kid who doesn't recognize her Dad's generosity.
No more, folks.

Come February 1st...we will be living in luxury.
And I am grateful.

If you come visit me, I will say, "Welcome to our new lovely home."

Followed by.
"Would you like to see our 2 bathrooms?"

Sunday, November 26, 2017

let's bring some hope...because we can

This morning I woke up to crazy headlines...again.
I have been feeling like I should chuck my phone straight out the window
when I read them...
maybe it would make the crazy go away.

Instead, I have taken to reading the Psalms because...BE STILL MY SOUL.
It feels like the world is going straight to Hades...not even in a handbasket....
we are just plummeting like a rock towards the fiery pit.

But the Psalms always bring me back from the edge.
They put everything back into perspective.
The world has always been the world.
Wild. Unpredictable. And broken.

And God has always been God.
Steadfast. Faithful. Powerful.
The Psalms remind me of what is real.

Ones like this....
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High with rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I lift my eyes up to the mountains. Where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and he delivers them.

The thing is...hope will never be found in the headlines.
That is where fear and anger reside...headlines were made to get us whipped up.
They unsettle us and make us doubt the goodness in the world we live in.

But the truth of God's word...his Holy meant to anchor us with peace.
To still our beating hearts in the midst of the storm.
To lift our heads and get us focused on the One who is TRULY GOOD...and then some.
The One who is in charge and loves us most of all.

That would be Jesus.
The Hope of Heaven.

In the midst of chaos, Jesus always brings hope to the table.
In Him. And Him alone.

The hope of kindness and joy and forgiveness.
The hope of generosity and miracles and peace.
The hope of light in a dark place.
The hope of salvation. For you and me.

And we are like Him. Made in His image.
We are made with the great capacity for hope.
It is tethered to the fact that He has surrounded us with his LOVE.
He is changing us from moment to moment.
In Him we live and move and have our being.
And Jesus is chock full of HOPE.
Hope upon hope upon hope.

And the craziest part of it is - He is leaving it up to us to spread the hope around.
Christ in you....the hope of glory.

Did you even know that?
He doesn't have another plan.
You and me? We are supposed to be getting the job done.

In the midst of our own struggles and craziness,
with families and work and heartache and bills....
we can reach out with....hope. His hope.

We are the hope bringers in a world of headlines.

You reaching out in kindness. Me digging into the richness of  God's love.
You speaking truth and light. Me putting an arm around a frazzled neighbor.

You bringing holiday cookies to your mom friends.
Me sharing a word of encouragement with a co-worker.

You holding up your best friend whose marriage is frayed around the edges
Me reigning in my impulse buying ( Il love you, Christmas tchotchkes)
and giving more to those who need it.

You singing songs about the greatness of the God in your your the shower.
(Keep singing! SINGING BRINGS HOPE!)

Me asking Jesus to please change me...because sometimes I am hard hearted and judge-y.
(Pray with me! Soft hearts are a must when it comes to spreading hope.)

Us becoming more like HIM.
Because that is the only way we can bring hope.

Us letting His love shape our interactions....casting out fear.

Us asking for His will (not our grand ideas, schemes and truly worthy plans) to be done.

Us praying for our people. Our cities. Our world.
And asking Him to let His hope crack the more time...
ushering in peace and goodwill on this all people...
because that has been His plan all along.

All along.
A plan of  love. Peace. Healing. Reconciliation. Restoration. Bright joy.



Sunday, November 5, 2017

Peace vs. Pants

I had a dream the other night that I was teaching my Lit class.
I was wearing a long sweater....
but as I gazed towards the back of the classroom,
I could see I had left my pants and underwear on the floor near my desk.
Mid-nightmare, all I could think was, "I need those pants and underwear!"

Understatement of the year.

In my dream I raced back to my desk,
snatched up my clothes and ran out of the room,
hoping against hope, that my sweater was offering full coverage.
The only place on the school grounds that I could find to pull on my clothes
was a gardening shed....with a faulty lock.

That shed was like New York's Grand Central Station.
As I was trying to yank on my pants, people kept trying to walk in.
I kept yelling at the top of my lungs, "I am in here! I am in here!"

These are some deep-seated, Freudian fears being revealed here, folks.

I told my dream to my sister, Jenny.
After saying, "Oh, no!" at least 4 times, she said,
"I'm no psychologist but I would say you are feeling vulnerable."

Once again....understatement of the year.

Now I am not superstitious...
but I am double checking to make sure I am wearing pants every day.

Because several teachers have told me that teacher brain is even
worse than mommy brain. You forget a lot.
So far I have forgotten my wallet...and my lunch.

I am determined not to forget my apparel.

And I have enlisted the prayers of my dearest friends, sending out texts, saying,
"Please pray for me. I'm going down."

This took some courage. Because I want people think I am pulling this transition off.
I want people to think I have it all together.

(Which is weird since the friends and family that I texted

My unfettered dreams are showing the real picture.
I am operating out of vulnerable and fearful place in this season.
Which, if I think about it, makes me fit right in with my middle schoolers.
(Who wasn't completely freaked out in junior high????)

This verse keeps coming to mind...
"You will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you."
Isaiah 26:3.

My mind has zero peace. It is not even close to being stayed on Him.
It is stayed on worry and anxious thoughts and a fear of lost pants.
I have always had control issues.
I struggle with trust.

But He promises if I trust Him? He will fill me with perfect peace.
That would be super great. Wouldn't it?
Sweet mercy. Yes. It would.

Our eyes are made to gaze in wonder on the God of the Universe.
Our hearts are designed to reside in a place of love,
knowing that we are cared and provided for.
Our minds are created for peace. Not heart-thumping, mind-numbing fear.
I need to rip my eyes off of my proverbial pants
(my lack, my anxiety, my people pleasing, my fear of the unknown)
and focus on the One who loves me most of all.
The One who doesn't know the meaning of the word "impossible."
The One who casts out fear with His mere presence.

I want to be "stayed on Him."
Stayed on His goodness and strength and purpose.
Stayed on His great love and hope and joy.

I want a shot of that perfect peace He is offering.
Don't you?

And...that really is....the understatement of the year.