10/09/2014

I {heart} Tullian

This.

This is why I love Tullian.




We can say we don't believe God helps those who helps themselves, but don't we live the opposite of that? 

I sure do. Trying, trying, trying. Do and say and think and feel and be all the right things because God is holy, doncha know. Trying to raise myself from the dead and prove to God that saving me wasn't a waste of time.

Tuesday's post just hit me anew after writing it,like someone else wrote it and really got into my head and heart. That happens to me with other people's posts all the time, but to have my own hit me that way was new! But man alive, I can't do this Christian life thing very well on my own, so when I heard this quote in a Tullian sermon (part 4 of his Romans series) I just had to share it!

Let us remember that dead people don't raise themselves up to life today. Let us honestly admit our need of the one who does.

10/07/2014

All Things New

So I need to just state right off that the most amazingly talented Lizzy made my blog stupid gorgeous, saying nice things about me to boot. *swoon* Even without saying the kind things, she is the best, and you can either hire her to make pretty things for you or pop on over to her Etsy shop! I ordered a coupl'a prints and I will post them when I finish up a li'l project happening in our home once it is all done!

Now, to that which is so much less pretty than this gorgeous space. I am going to admit something in this post, and I confess that I am ashamed of it. It's not a pretty thing, this horrible thought I had. So let us get there.

When Roger started his special ed preschool, there was a gorgeous little boy who clearly had a severe case of autism. With Roger, many people are surprised to find out he's on the spectrum, due to how he manifests, but with this precious boy it is clear right away. One thing that stood out to me was his chewy, this little teething-type tube that attached to his clothes. He used it for oral stimulation, and it really calmed him. Even though Roger wears a Spio (a special compression vest for children with autism) that chewy seemed infinitely worse to me. It represented the severe case. It was obvious and different and, truthfully, I remember thinking, "I am so glad Roger doesn't need one of those." 

Juliet recently started CUBS, a birth to three class for kids either on the spectrum or exhibiting behaviors similar to the autism spectrum--some of you may remember that Roger was in the same program this time last year. One thing her OT (occupational therapist) recommended is...a chewy. Today* they tried one and she really thrived. She struggles so much with sitting still for activities yet there was a marked difference when she had the chewy. It stimulated her mind so she could focus. It helped her. So, onto Amazon I went to find her one.

As I clicked "Add to Cart" the horrible, terrible, shameful thought ran through my mind, unwelcome and without warning:

"People are going to think she's a freak."

You know how I know at least some people will? Because I am the mother of two autistic children. I also tend to be empathetic and feel people's heartache in palpable ways. Yet, the little boy with a chewy in Roger's class seemed like a bit of a freak to me. That boy who is someone's beloved son, likely of parents who have grieved the loss of the son they thought they would have and felt the helplessness to do anything to rescue him from the prison of his mind. And I just think, "Thank God our case isn't that bad." 

Lord, have mercy.

I fought against the the thought, didn't let my heart run amok with feeling better about my son by thinking, "Ew," and staying there regarding someone else's precious boy. Yet the thought was there. Others will have it regarding my daughter when they see her gnawing on a "Q" shaped tube attached to her shirt. They just will. Not everyone, but some will think ugly thoughts about my beautiful daughter.

She'll always be my baby.

That's my baby girl. I cradled her newborn body onto my bare chest and felt utter bliss just 733 days ago. And I now see a glimpse of the ways this world will beat her down. The grief shatters my heart over and over.

People don't like suffering. We avoid it. We really hate it when others are suffering and it persists and they don't seem "better" already. I cannot tell you the number of times people have told me, "Tami, your kids are great. They'll be just fine. They'll grow up and be great."

Maybe that is so. But even if one day all of this heartache is a distant memory, what about today?  What about October 6, 2014 when I clicked "Add to Cart" and the ugliness sauntered about in my head and the waves of grief were fresh and familiar all at once and I wept? That "one day" is not today. There is no promise it will certainly come. I could easily die tomorrow and my suffering will have never ebbed. 

Text convo with my husband 

So where then is my hope?

There are two tattoos I want. One is "it is finished" just under my left clavicle. The other isn't quite as set, but it's something on my right inner forearm referencing this scripture: 

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." 
II Corinthians 12:9-10, NASB

Friends, I am so weak. I can't have a perfect heart that never sees the severely autistic child as a freak. I can't have the perfect faith that Jesus allowed all of this out of love. I can't have the perfect peace that snuffs 0ut fear of the future, or fear of what people will think. Hell, I can't have the perfect faith to not think the horrible things myself let alone not fear what others are thinking. I try to honor Jesus, to find rest and hope and peace and surrender, but I fail repeatedly. I'm simply far too weak.

Therein is my hope. My grace is sufficient for you. Jesus is enough! Grace pours into my failure! For [Christ's] power is perfected in weakness. The Gospel! I fail. I can't be perfect like Jesus! So he died as perfection, imputed his righteousness to me. Acknowledging my weakness ushers in his power to give his all sufficient grace. He perfects his power in me as I cling to him in my weakness and desperate need. 

I feel like this is the same entry I have written a thousand times. Perhaps I am a resounding gong. But this is my theme and shall be until I die--I need Jesus. Every single second of every single day.

And there is a "one day" ahead of me, but it's not this side of heaven. There is a day where autism will be no more. Where my last tear of sorrow and grief will be tenderly wiped from my cheek by Jesus' thumb as he cradles my face in his nail scarred hands.

No, really. Take heart, my own dear soul--Jesus said this. It is as true and real as the ground beneath my feet. Or chair cushion beneath my butt. You know. Really, really real.

...and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”      
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 
Revelation 21:3b-6, NASB

I'm tired of this pain. This theme. I'm ready to move beyond it, to a new chapter. That's just not what Jesus has for me. Truth be told, every time I try to not talk about my pain, or fear that I will just sound like a Mrs. Debbie Downer Whiner, Jesus gently brings someone to (seemingly) at random tell me how thankful they are that I am raw and honest, how much it points them to Jesus and his Gospel. How much he's able to comfort them and meet them right where they are because I took the risk of honesty and sounding like an ungrateful grumbler. In my weakness, he is strong.

So, friend, do your circumstances feel like more than you can handle? Is anxiety gripping your soul and no matter how hard you try you just can't believe Jesus enough to nihilate the angst? Do you repeatedly find yourself angry beyond explanation and no amount of Bible study on "in your anger do not sin" extricates the rage from your soul? Maybe depression clouds you and just will. not. pass. over. Or you are just impatient? Rolling your eyes and sighing countless times a day? Frustrated with God that you don't have a husband or kids? Bitter toward your husband and/or kids for how it feels like you disappeared and life is only ever about them? Just those things that lurk beneath when we have all the smiles and serving and giving and doing but things just still aren't right. Maybe you are like me, and all of the above is or has been true.

We don't feel arrived. 

My Dear, we do not arrive. 


I get it--your mind is nodding and saying, "Oh, I know," while your heart is whispering, "No, if we just _____ enough then we can get to that place! Where we actually trust God without wavering! Where he can finally use us for all those things we are holding him back from!"

Nope. But through all of it, Jesus is with you, allowing you the opportunity to receive his sufficiency in your weakness. We're right there together, sister (or brother). And, hello, you have nowhere near the power nor glory to hold God back from anything.

Finally, speaking of new things, I got around to making our condo decorated. Our "gallery wall" has had one picture...of our family with Juliet as a newborn.

She turned 2 on Friday.

Sooooo...yeah.

Anyway, I want to end with this, because I normally am not into this sort of thing, cheesy sayings on the wall (gotta be holy and only post scripture, duh. I kid, I kid), but this just made me start crying right in the middle of HomeGoods. Classy, I know. Plus the colors worked.

*excuse me while I ugly cry*

I leave you with this: the truth is that no matter how you feel, Jesus is always holding out his hand and asking for this dance in rain. He is with you, friend. Confess your weakness and experience the grace of his sufficiency. And Jesus is a generous partner so feel free to cut in and take a spin around in this storm that is life with me.



*I wrote this yesterday, October 6th and am posting today, October 7th

9/16/2014

Beloved Becky

Be still, my heart. I love this one.
Also, we both have amazing skin. Go us.
Today is my beautiful, beloved, best bosom friend Becky's birthday.

[I really wish there were an alliterative "b" word for friend there.]

I wanted to do something really special. Bigger than a Facebook post. Better (I hope) than just some cash for a gift. Though she's also getting some cash for a gift. :) I thought about Becky, what best makes her feel loved, and I just knew that writing something about how incredible she is, what a gift she is to me, would be a sunshiney burst of love into her sweet and tender heart. I hope this is even a shadow of the gift of grace God has given me in your friendship, Becky!

My first thought when I met Becky was, "She is so beautiful. No way will she want to be my friend." It's true that Becky is gorgeous outwardly. It was a lie that she would then be ugly and shallow inwardly. She is definitely not! Her undeniable outward beauty is surpassed exponentially by her undeniable inward pure gorgeousness. So even though I found her intimidatingly beautiful, assumed she would want nothing to do with me, I was drawn to her. Sometimes I just get this, "You and I are meant to be good friends," feeling about people and so I just tell them that. Becky is a rare gem who said, "Yes! We should definitely hang out!" and then we actually did.

[Have you heard of the Seattle freeze? It is very real. Basically, we're really nice, and when you say, "Let's hang out!" we say "Definitely!" and then we not only never initiate making that happen but we also subtly, politely blow you off and never get to know you. I won't lie--I do it. But who says, "You seem so awesome! But to be honest my life is crammed full and I'm just not interested in putting someone else into it. Best of luck finding friends!" to someone? Apparently non-Seattleites.]

Becky and her love, Josh

So, I am a person who just goes there right away. You ask how I'm doing? I'll tell you about my pain and the mess and my heart and exactly what I can see Jesus doing and exactly where I want nothing to do with him. But I expect you to just listen and say, "That's nice."  I'm learning to let people love me and speak into that. A lot of my growth there is because of Becky; more on that later. So we went there right away. Just the real, raw, deepness of life. The first time we hung out.

Can I just tell you how amazing that is? It is a rare treat to have a friend who is able to just be transparent with you and you with them. It's even more unique to find someone who will speak into your situation, even challenging you. But that most unusual, precious find of all is someone who isn't looking for areas to speak in. When it makes since they take the risk to step in, knowing you might possibly reject them if you don't like what they say, yet they don't think it's their job to figure out what is wrong with you and try to fix you.

[I think this is rare in the real world. I also admit I am coming from 16 years of my deepest relationships tending to be with Christians, who unfortunately are notorious for thinking our Christian faith means we're supposed to clean our lives up and our worth to God is in "helping" him clean up other people. But I also am coming out of 7 years at a church that tragically regularly confused living by grace to mean doing all the things in Jesus's name, including sin-hunting in others so they might not miss the glory of God. So Becky? Someone willing to be real about her mess and not trying to impress me with her leaning-on-Jesusness? Who also wants grace for me in my mess and not to feel good about herself by playing a significant role in my growth in leaning-on-Jesusness? Truly, a grace diamond in Mars Hill's performance-based rough.]

Becky and her first love, wine. [I kid, I kid!]
But can I tell you the VERY best part about Becky? I legitimately love Jesus more because of her. I believe fewer lies about Jesus and myself because of her. I have more freedom and joy because of her.

You see, people think that the way to help people grow in Jesus is to listen for the stuff that doesn't sound right and then say, "Look at this verse. It says to "be anxious for nothing"! You have Jesus! Believe him and don't be anxious!"

That. Does. Not. Work.

Not for me.

And, I think, because you are human, not for you either.

The truth is, God tells us not to be anxious...yet he knows we are and will be anxious. The verse says, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Do you see it? I boldfaced "but" because God knows we will be anxious. It's not, "Be anxious [since that is totally possible] and just totally trust everything God gives you because, duh, Sinner, he's good." God knows we'll be anxious. The context of this verse is Paul asking for help for two women who love Jesus and spreading his Good News but struggle in relationship with one another. Paul references his own struggles in the Gospel (you know, jail and beatings and eventually being beheaded simply for telling others about Jesus). Seriously, go read Philippians 4. It. Is. SO. Good.  But, FOR REAL, talk about reasons for anxiety. God knows we'll fret about not getting things we want and getting things we don't want. I mean, find me ONE person who has NEVER fretted about relationships or health or financial security or just general happiness and comfort in the future, be it tomorrow or 50 years.

Oh. Right. There is exactly ONE. Jesus Christ. The rest of us have failed, and if you've failed once then you have failed completely. But therein is the beauty of my friend Becky. She is so graciously skilled and humble in the seasoned blend of grace and truth. The truth is that God is good and I can trust him. Yet the grace is that he knows I am anxious. Becky gently reminds me of these two truths, but my favorite thing about her, and why she is a true iron friend, is that she intently listens, identifies with my pain/frustration/general sinful ridiculousness because she struggles, too. And then she just asks me this two-part question, in one form or another: "What does Jesus think of you? What is he saying to you?"

Becky and her beautiful baby bump, just a few days before Gabers entered the world.
 I never feel judged. It's never that icky, "OH DEAR GOD I AM A HORRIBLE SINNER WHO EFFED IT ALL UP AGAIN! CLEAN UP CLEAN UP CLEAN UP CLEAN UP! CLEAN UP ON AWFUL HORRIBLE AISLE TAMI NUMBER FOUR!" Instead, it's always that little impetus to turn my face back to Jesus. To see that I am securely his and he adores me. He treasures every opportunity to show me, in my weakness, that he is gloriously and perfectly patient and loving. He shows me that, again and again, through Becky.

A big reason Becky is able to do this so effectively is because she has allowed Jesus to minister to her in both her suffering and sin. Becky is radiant--brilliant blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes. In my heart, she is glowy. She glows because what radiates isn't just physical beauty. In her humble reliance to keep turning back to him no matter what ugly comes out of her heart; her refusal to give into the temptation to control her responses and look really good and godly, Becky simply emanates Jesus and that illuminates my life with more of him. She personifies the truth that when we are weak, he is strong.

Me meeting baby Gabe. He's the best.
Finally, I want to publicly give credit where credit is due. For a plethora of reasons, I have a horrible sinful tendency to tell you my mess...but then I don't want you to speak in. I don't trust you. And also, while I am telling you my mess, I am also constantly trying to not be a burden and filter myself so that I can't possibly offend anyone. I say I don't care what anyone thinks, but I actually really, really do. I am convinced that I am a yucky burden to God and others so it drives my interactions not just with people but even with my own thoughts.

Yet I am more reliant on Jesus than I have ever been. I am in less bondage. Becky is why. One of the single most poignant moments in my life came during a 3 hour conversation in my car, you know, just quickly dropping her off at her car after hanging out. But she listened to me ramble (shocker) about how this battle rages inside of me and she said, "Tami, I want freedom for you."

And she meant it. She craves my unshackling with a selfless love that was just completely Jesus's heart toward me. A revelation of his love. A seminal moment in this incredible "it is finished" journey that Jesus has whisked me into over this last year. Death to performance, life in liberation. Becky is a crucial role in that journey, and that is why I am not just waxing poetic when I say that no matter how I try I can't pretend to be to her what she has been to me.

No, seriously. THE. BEST.

That is why Becky is so extraordinary. I feel awkward because I keep talking about me, but I don't know how better to express what an incredibly safe and special person she is. The reflection of Christ and his tender compassion for other people flows so purely through her. The Holy Spirit is sought and actually listened to by her.

My word, you are a beautiful and incredible person, Becky Glaser!

So, beloved Becky, happy birthday. Today, may you be overwhelmed with how incredibly precious you are, first to Jesus, but also to those of us incomparably blessed to call you Friend. I have many amazing people in my life, but the honest truth is that no one has quite wiggled their way into my heart and been the pure grace to me that you are. I hope to be even a smidgen of the friend to you that you are to me, because even a hint means you are getting very loved on. That's how truly amazing you are. No amount of effusive words could ever make clear how much I adore you, treasure our friendship, but I had to try!

I mean, come on. How do you not love that sass? It is impossible. Love is imminent.
You are sassy. You don't take yourself too seriously. You are the least shallow person I have ever met. Making you laugh is kind of my favorite thing ever. You are a mama so sweet that many other kids will wish you were their mama. Guys probably think Josh got lucky because you're so gorgeous but what they don't realize is the real goldmine is your precious, tender, giving yet wisely stubborn heart. You really are a gift beyond measure or compare to me, and I see a divergence in my life, a turn toward more Jesus and more freedom and more joy because by God's grace I got over myself for just a second and told you we should be friends. I grow more and more thankful for that moment the more I know you. I pray our love is a lifetime of increasing unity in the Spirit and the bond of peace.

I love you, Becky! Happy birthday, beloved friend!

My other gift to you: praying that our adorable chubster baby Gabe will have a miracle long sleep and give you some solid rest. Readers, pray that with me? We all know that the best gift for any new mama is sleep. Today baby Gabe is one month old so let us pray little dude sleeps so his mama can sleeeeeeeep!

xoxo to you, Becky Lecky!
<3 Tami Rami