Author: Janna Lynas

World traveller, mother, wife, teacher, consumer of books and homemade pizza, Jesus lover, justice seeker, chaser of the sun.

You Are What You Eat

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Which would you rather have – a glass of milk or Filet Mignon? As adults, we’d most likely prefer the steak, but as children we would probably answer this question much differently, as our needs change throughout our life. And they should.

We all know what infants need in the early days of life – milk. It provides all that we need for a time, but eventually (actually quite rapidly) we outgrow our desire for milk. Our bodies need something more and we are ready for that something more. We begin to taste and experience new flavors and textures. We begin to long for it and as we become more fully aware of ourselves, we find we crave particular forms of nourishment.

This is true of our spiritual life as well. We first encounter Christ and receive his spirit as our own, but we aren’t ready for the depths of the mind of God. We drink milk (short stories, illustrations and foundational scripture). It tastes good, and it gives us what we need to grow in those early days. But eventually, we need something with more substance. We need more to help us grow into a fuller spiritual person in Christ, a person of maturity.
What has your journey been like? How would you categorize yourself – a spiritual person who readily receives and values biblical truth or an infant in Christ, drinking bottle after bottle of watery milk?

The Spiritual person, eats full meals of steak and potatoes.  You recognize there is somethings missing, an emptiness that can only be filled with humble yet solid food.You are sinking deeply into the sweet aroma of a satisfying friendship with your Lord and Savior.

For the newly formed Spirit, you start at the beginning, yes, with milk. Embrace this time. It’s all new and you have lots of questions and it seems there is so much to know. But enjoy, it will prepare you for God’s plan for your growing up years.

But Paul points out rather vividly in 1 Corinthians 3 for the one who is downing glass after glass for years, arguing over selfish preferences with prideful hearts, following after men instead of the Creator, beware – this is dangerous business. We may think ourselves as righteous, but there is a drifting that occurs of which we may not be aware. John Piper cautions, “Don’t drift – the current of the world will carry you away.”

For those that are Spiritually mature, be patient, encouraging, and give others what they can swallow, sometimes with a little help.

I can only speak for myself, but I’d prefer rich, flavorful food over milk any day. The small pieces of scripture and stories I learned as a child just aren’t enough. There is so much more to this knowing about God and knowing myself. And I only get to know if I dare to open my mouth and taste.

There is a banquet set for us, loaded with the best, God’s best. There is bread and there is wine, the message of Christ, crucified. It is this table that prepares us for the crucified life that leads to the fullness of the most satisfying meal.

If you want, you can taste it now. Are you hungry?

 

(In reference to 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 and commentary by John Piper)

Starting With A Gray Smudge

ash wednesday:

Somewhere in my little girl, growing up years, I began to believe my Baptist church was “doing it right. I placed a high value on being “right,” in my faith, overlooking and often ignoring Jesus’s plea for righteousness through him.

And so that little girl mind of mine grew up with some pretty self-righteous thoughts about what the church should believe and do. And I was going along just fine, until I fell in love with a boy whose family was Methodist on one side and Catholic on the other. I wasn’t worried, the Methodists were ok. They had a fabulous midnight Christmas Eve service.

Anyway, I married that boy, and two years later sat in a hospital with his grandma. She didn’t always know why her Catholic faith did what it did, but she followed through with it.  And so, in my early twenties, sitting with grandma while her husband had surgery on an Ash Wednesday, I was cocky and pressed into the moment, all too smug to walk away with the answer I got – she didn’t know what the gray smudge on her forehead meant.

It only confirmed what I had thought about this faith that seemed to hold Jesus at far too far a distance. And wasn’t I doing much the same? I didn’t have answers for why I did nothing to prepare myself for the remembrance of my Christ. It had never been suggested, and if it had I clearly wasn’t listening.

This day would mark the day God began to do some heavy work on my heart that continues still. That day in the hospital with grandma made a small crack in the tarnished mirror that until then, had only reflected my “right” image.

God filled my years thereafter with beautifully varied women who taught me to respect and listen to those whose worship and adoration looked different, the subtle suggestion that I might find something I was missing in the listening. Slowly I awakened to the enormity of the Trinity.

Today, I’m gratefully sinking into a time of focus, of fasting and of prayer. Although not taught to, I recognize my need to join those ancient practices of traditions, recitations and rhythms. I’m becoming more fully aware how very wise and beautiful it is to be joined in unity with other believers, returning to God through the reading of the same text, during the same season, teaching me the power of repentance and forgiveness and rightness with God first, then with those God has placed with me on this earth. And it seems completely appropriate in this time of national division and confusion that those who call Christ savior and friend would remember him together.

So even if you don’t understand it all, you can start with something. You can start with a prayer to know God in a way you don’t right now. To notice someone that needs a little help and give it without expectation. To forgive and then to forget. To live simply for forty days and be surprised at how much lighter you are, focused on Christ with clearer thoughts, attention, and devotion to the only one who deserves it. Your submission to the ways of Christ will come a little easier. And while you will may find yourself in a similar place of forgetfulness a year from now, you will also remember the sweetness of communion with your Lord, his teachings and their familiarity, his washing of dusty feet, of breaking his body, pouring out his blood, for even this very day.

In this season of returning to God, let us remember him, together, one body, one spirit. Let us learn from each other, remembering Christ’s sacrifice for us all. Let us worship him in these days, undistracted and simple.

Although I’m not Catholic, I am observing Ash Wednesday as a starting place and the forty-plus days that follow. If you want to know more about how you can observe these days more fully, I’ve listed a few resources below.

For an additional article on why Christians should observe Lent:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-lent-can-make-a-difference-in-your-relationship-with-god/

For a guide on the observance of the Stations of the Cross:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/the-stations-of-the-cross-a-devotional-guide-for-lent-and-holy-week/

To experience a silent retreat during Holy Week with a printed guide to help you:

www.sustainablefaithindy.com/

Where We Are Meant To Be

compassIn Christ there is no east or west, in Him no south or north, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth.

 John Oxenham

It’s a wonderful thought isn’t it?

This great fellowship of love stretching itself around the world, making loops and crisscrossing the globe, touching everyone.

It’s true. This is the way of Jesus, his love finding us wherever we are, there being no place where he is not. His red blood dripping down on us, into us. We embracing it and saying, “Hallelujah! I’m saved!”

And then what?

Because Christ restores the peace between God and us, we now go and, “…are Christ’s ambassadors…” to this message of reconciliation and peace, (2 Corinthians 5:20).

And some of us will go and tell, unable to hold back such a beautiful ministry of reconciliation. But for others, it will be uneven road, because while we are forgiven and reconciled, we have much to forgive and reconcile with each other. This world is filled with high rocked walls of entitled rights and petty preferences, abuse and forgotten-ness. Yes, even the church looks like this.

What can we do? Perhaps pick up a sledgehammer and destroy it? That would do it, a glorious rubble at our feet.

But just as we know what will happen when we swing that heavy handled, forged metal overhead, letting it fall, we also know what will happen to us.

We’ll be exposed. Our truth we be told, that we hold on to our self-created, small and shallow hearts.

But Jesus sees how deep he’s made us. He sees the capacity he’s given us to love like him, to forgive seventy times seven, to turn the other cheek, to go and tell the world about what he’s done for all of us.
It’s a hard, handled thing to reconcile. It’s pride-draining. It’s red-faced vulnerability. It’s looking past our perceptions, into eyes that Jesus sees and saying, I love you anyway. It’s taking the long way, with shaky knees and sweaty palms to be reconciled in truth, one to another, opening the way to share what Jesus has done.

Jesus restores the peace. He reconciles us back to God. It is where we are meant to be.

It is where we are meant to be with each other, all people, everywhere.

We have miles to go, to the east, west, north and south, making amends with each other and telling how Jesus saved us. But for those who have uttered, “Hallelujah! I’m saved!,” it is our charge, to love and be restored to God’s creation, and be sent to proclaim it across the whole wide earth.

And He Will Be Called…Mighty God!

There’s a picture of a castle on my desk. I visited this place a long time ago. It makes me think back to stories I’ve heard about kings and queens and the mighty men who pledged allegiance to fight and protect their leaders and their country.

Images of might remind me of Braveheart and Gladiator and someone tall and strong, with bulging muscles, standing, one foot slightly in front of the other, ready to run toward the fight. A face, fixed with determination, eyes clear and focused, even as evil circles all around. There is only one thing to do: run to the danger, moving quickly and forcefully. And in the end, when all seems lost, a victorious warrior emerges, the battle won, the enemy defeated. This kind of might would do nothing less than die for what is right, for honor, and for the protection of others.

These are stories from long ago, and it seems as though that’s where they’ve stayed; in the ancient past.

It seems hard to find, someone who is truly willing to fight for us, for what is right and good and pure. It seems much easier to see those who are looking out for themselves, for their own good, whatever it takes. The fight looks different these days, not with sword and stone but with guns and bombs. Yet, we fight about the same things: preferences, ingnorance, power and inequality.

These are the battles that make our news feeds and the headlines. But some of us are in emotional battles that seem even more overwhelming than the physical.

The good news? We have our Mighty God, Jesus.

He is the One who is ready, one foot in front of the other. He is the One with a clear and focused view of us and all the evil that surrounds. He is the One who moves with force, relentlessly pursuing until the battle is won.

Can you see him? He is our warrior, our champion, our hero. He is relentless in the fight for us. He simply won’t ever stop coming for us. He is our Mighty God.

Take time to stop and look for your warrior, the one who is on your side. Take time to lay your battles down and let him fight for you. Take time to notice him championing your day, your family, your life. He’s there, fighting for you in everything.

And although Jesus’ story is from the ancient past, it never grows old. He’s continually teaching us something that is brand new. Look! Our Mighty God has already won the battle, and he longs to see us emerge, victorious, standing beside him.

Our Wonderful Counselor, our Everlasting Father, our Prince of Peace, our Mighty God.

Swallowing and Spitting

“Struggle challenges me to trust, but when I do eventually surrender, it means I’ve entrusted my life to God. And every time I do this, I’m heartened by the knowledge that God is eternally capable.”

 – from Teach Us To Want, by Jen Pollack Michel

It’s a classic kid’s tale from ancient days, and for some us who are aging, it feels like another lifetime when we first heard the words of our Sunday School teachers and were mesmerized by Jonah being swallowed up in the belly of a large fish for days.

In my young mind, I loved this story. It seemed impossible, but with my little mind and little heart, I believed it because it came from the Bible. In those pigtailed and patent leather shoe days, the story centered around the swallowing and the spitting out of a man. Yes, yes, I did remember the part of Jonah not wanting to go somewhere and getting on a ship for someplace else, but the swallowing and spitting was what I was after. This was good stuff!

As much as I enjoyed this story as a child, I resist it today. As much as I wanted to be picked to move a piece of the tale around a flannel board, I don’t want to touch it today. As much as I don’t want to admit, it is because this story is about struggle and surrender.

We are afraid of this. If we’re honest, we are afraid of this. To surrender to something or someone means we’ve let go, means we’ve admitted we can’t do this by ourselves, means we’re not enough and that maybe someone else knows what’s best.

As Christians, we know this is true. We’re not enough, only Christ is. And yet we struggle to surrender, even in our knowing.

But the Bible is full from beginning to end with struggle and either a surrendering to God or not. The struggle leads to surrender, but we don’t naturally want it. We don’t naturally embrace the hard things of life. We want something else, we want what we think is better, easier, sometimes never tasting what is best.

Looking back, though, I can see myself in the characters of God’s Word. I can see myself living in the in between places of God’s Word says it and I believe itand that settles it, right? Not really.

Without the struggle, the turning over of something, the prayer on my knees, asking, questioning, bare before the Lord and honest with my emotions, there can be no surrender. I will still try to manipulate or find something of God’s word to justify my desires.

And what God wants to do is better.

He wants to meet me on my knees on hard wood floors. He wants to hear my cries. He wants me to see Him. He wants to surprise me with his best, and it’s always more than I could have imagined.

Swallowing the struggle, learning to trust Him in it. Spitting out prayers of surrender, taking steps forward, knowing He is able.

 

Standing to Lie Down

Image result for inspirational pictures and verses for self-control

It’s an internal grating, just the mentioning of this word, self-control. It reminds me of restraint, of hesitancy, of even being timid.

Self-control. Just saying it stirs up visions of the past– biting my tongue (or not!) and taking some pain (mostly of damaged pride). It doesn’t take me to happier places of kindness and goodness and love.

It is something I like to teach my children, but not necessarily something I like to practice. It makes me think of sacrifice, but not the sacrifice I’m willing to give. Not to the extent I think I should give it, anyway.

Self-control for me often seems like a giving in and a giving over of a passionate heart to another way. Another way I don’t naturally want to go.

Self-control seems devoid of desire and a laying down of me. Something I also do not want naturally.

When I wake up, self-control is not what I want. I have an agenda. I have goals. I have dreams. I have other things in mind.

And I’m right.

Self-control involves sacrifice. It involves the giving up and sometimes all of it. It involves giving it over. It involves letting go and lying down. It lacks for self-wanting. It involves an irritation and we see here, a tortuous, humiliating, even looking away of God. Self-control looks this bad;

People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days – so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!” Mark 15:29-30

Everything in me wants him to fight back, to answer the accusations, to climb down off the curse of the cross and stand in God’s sight again, run back to the mountain and walk on the road with friends. Life as it was.

But he doesn’t. He takes it all. He stands in the most honorable and holy of all positions.

Jesus stands and hangs in self-control.

And because of Jesus, I want this gift.

I want to stand with him, thankful I do not hang there. I don’t have to die there.

He’s giving me a new desire, and it’s not life as it was or sometimes is.

It is full of love and power. It is compassionate and humble and different from life before Him. This is the life I want.

Don’t Pray For Patience – It Might Change You

“Prayer is very dangerous business… For all the benefits it offers of growing closer to God, it carries with it one element of risk: the possibility of change. In prayer we open ourselves to the chance that God will do something with us that we had not intended.”

-Emilie Griffin.

As we wrapped up our time with our small group, it was announced that we would move on to the next fruit, patience, in one week. I didn’t miss this announcement and listened for the response. Maybe a little too quickly, there was a sarcastic chuckle and then I heard it, “Don’t pray for patience. You know what that means!”

But it is in our prayers we sometimes pray for patience. Our busy, get it done, check-it-off-the-list-so-I-can- forget-about-it lives sometimes don’t work that way and we find ourselves praying for patience, usually half-heartedly.  Do you sometimes, like myself, catch your breath before uttering a quick prayer for patience in a difficult circumstance, and in that same breath consider your options? If I do ask for patience, what will God allow to teach me what I ask? And as Emilie Griffin puts it, does “something with me that I had not intended!

It’s difficult isn’t it? Waiting for something?

As a young child, I remember waiting (not very well), for Christmas morning. Sleep was impossible. Constant trips to my parent’s bedroom door every hour were inevitable, asking, “Is it time yet?” It was excruciating, the waiting for that something that was sure to please, that was good, that was anticipated, that for which I had asked. At five years of age, it had never been suggested to pray for patience, not that I would have understood.

Years later, I found myself waiting for a friend to call, to show up, to tell me words I needed to hear. Oh how patient I was for what I thought I wanted. I waited, and waited, and waited. But those words never came. Funny, I don’t remember praying about this particular time for patience at all.

I’d guess we all have stories of waiting for things, for people, and because this is a faith blog, I’ll throw in a story from the Word. These twelve men who had followed the Word, God’s Son, weren’t waiting. They were hiding. Jesus revealed himself to Mary and she had told them, but there was immense doubt. How could it be? Impossible! Jesus, alive? And so He appeared to them, yet one was absent. Jesus had lived with them for three years. He was a man and yet he was more. And one of the twelve who had listened, travelled, and witnessed incredible miracles and evidence of who He was found it hard to believe, even with the others in pressing agreement. Not unless he could see with his eyes and touch with his hands. And in merciful patience, He allowed it. Jesus allowed it. In that moment, salvation came in the form of seeing. And Thomas went on to believe and tell countless others of his encounter with Jesus and maybe how his loving patience was the proof he needed to believe.

It’s our human nature. We have to see, we have to touch, we have to check off our list to see progress, we have to get things done. We have to do. But things take time. People take time, often longer than we are willing to give. But then, this is found:

“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience is salvation.” 2 Peter 3:15

 And my mind jumps to a 92 year old man, restless in bed, missing his love for four years now. We had prayed, we had talked, we had prayed for his soul. His past was haunting – all that he’d done. This is not the man I knew, my grandpa. I see who Jesus sees and Jesus is patient, yet I am not, counting what seem like hours left of his old life. Jesus came in a dream, knocking quietly. The heart shaped knob was turned and salvation came. 92 years of patience. Eternity will not miss him. He is home.

In all our impatience, our desire to be productive, to do and feel accomplished, what do we miss? What friendship? What conversation? What listening? What learning? What presence do we lack?

I’ve been turning the word over in my head and my heart. God is taking me through a season of patience, teaching me what it is and what it is not. Patience is not the absence of doing, but it is the action of being present, of being. It is enduring and abiding, even persistent. It is a remaining in or under. This is what Jesus teaches us through this fruit of the Spirit. This patience teaches us to keep coming back to ask, to give permission to wait and see for ourselves if that’s what it takes, although blessings of faith to those who believe even without seeing.

Friends, “…the Lord’s patience is salvation,” the same fruit of patience that exists for all of us who call Christ Lord and friend. Don’t miss it. Pray for it. Embrace it. There is something God intends to do with us.

 

Desperate For Us

It’s just a few feet, a stones throw from his friends, but he falls to the earth. I can imagine his senses are on high alert. He can hear every creature in the bushes; he can feel the dirt beneath his feet, his knees, his hands as he cries out to the one who can save him.

In anguish, in anticipation of what is to come to him.

He knows. And yet he prays, fully man, fully God. He prays to the one who can save him.

“Take this cup from me!”

It is inconceivable what he will do. The lengths he will go in obedience for you and I. It is so real, so raw, the pain begins before the pain begins.

He knows.

And in a desperate moment of humanness, he cries out, “Take this cup from me!” Yet in the same breath, Jesus condemns his plea to the Father; His will be done.

Surrender, obedience.

The Father will stop at nothing until He is reconciled to his creation, once and for all. This is it.

He knows God can take it, this torture, and humiliation, and hell. God can take it. He’s God, He can do anything.

Yet this is it. Jesus has already shown us heaven come to earth. He has already lived among us, teaching us a new way, to love our enemies, to forgive and live generously, with passion and all we have been given. He’s already told us, the kingdom of heaven is within us, walking beside us, so close we can taste it if we want. Our communion with Him.

But this final act of obedience, of complete surrender of body and spirit, this is the final act God requires. He requires it on behalf of a people who still don’t get it. A people who are not desperate for Him the way He is for us – a people who are stubborn, who place their affections in things and in more, always more.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup…”

But the Father isn’t willing. He isn’t willing to spend one second of now or eternity without His children, His creation, His masterpieces. He watches His Son drink this sin-filled cup of ours and drinks it down to the last drop. The Son, Jesus, beloved of God, learns to obey through his surrender to His Father, our Father.

God, desperate for us? Willing, yes, to witness the death of His perfection, to run with us again; run with us here on this earth and never stop running with us.  He desires it more than we know.

What are you desperate for right now? Is there a cup at your fingertips, so close you can feel it without actually touching? Are you talking to God about it? Are you crying to him about it? How desperate are you?

It’s only a few steps and we’re there, at his feet, in submission to his will, learning the obedience of the Son. His is a love-filled obedience that seeks not only to save us, but restore us with his power, his strength, his courage, his grace. It’s incredibly mysterious, but I think I’m beginning to know it.

I’m desperate for it. I’m surrendering.

“…not my will, but yours be done.”

Worth It

“I don’t like being alone.”

That’s all he said.

Instantly I knew what he was talking about.

To be left, to be forgotten, to be alone was the worst experience of his life.

In his young mind, years before, he couldn’t know the why or the what, but he would always know the when, the where.

In his young mind, he didn’t know the love that still existed for him there or the love that was being formed from far away. All he knew was he hated being alone.

Left alone.

This being by yourself can be good for a time, but when it’s unwanted or unwarranted, it can be the most terrifying experience in a life. It makes you think about things, and when there are no answers that make sense, being alone is devastating.

So we see David, alone in a cave. His enemy is occupying Bethlehem. He is safe and protected, but alone. I don’t know what his thoughts gravitated to, but I’m wondering if he began to consider his childhood, his days as a shepherd, his anointing as king of Israel and now this, alone in a cave. So many memories and questions must have flooded his mind, perhaps the most obvious being, “How did I end up here? What did I do?”

But this is the part of the story I love to consider. Three of thirty come to him. Loyal friends, mighty warriors: they had David’s back. We don’t know how this all went down, except they heard him lament over his thirst. If he could just have a drink from the well of his boyhood home – a memory of his life…

Just a drink.

My mind flashes thousands of years forward. If he could just go home… If he could just be with familiar faces… If he could just go back for one more day…

So David’s mighty three take off. I like to think they wasted no time in assuring David that all would be well as they steadily, purposefully, walked to the cave’s entrance, nearly running as they approached the warm air just outside, now fully running with intense purpose all the way to the well for, “just a drink.” The passage from 2 Samuel 23 says, “Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.” I have to pause and think about this one, smiling over the image forming in my head, imagining these three, not even speaking what they would do, just a knowing look in their eyes. They had done these things before and would do it again.

Risk, sacrifice, love for another; for those willing, the reward is great. The moment doesn’t pass David unnoticed or unseen. The men snuck into enemy territory, grabbed the water and now stood in the presence of their king. Again, I’m imagining their heaving chests, red faces, and their own thirst over the magnificent feat now behind them. And David in awe of the lengths these men were willing to go for him, realizes he is standing in the presence of holiness.

God is there.

And so he pours out the precious liquid he longed for, right there on the ground. The four of them standing together, watching every last drop hit the cave floor, truly quenching its thirst, a sacrifice to the LORD. One sacrifice returned with another, recognizing the One True King.

Image result for picture of water poured on the ground

Just try to imagine the scene, the dark, wet ground, the speechless men, ‘cept for the catching of breath at the effort and the glory.

Now, thousands of years later, there was another catching of breath. But now the loneliness in this young heart, became a question, “What if?” And the question became a wondering, “Maybe?” And the wondering became a promise, “I’ll come back.” And the promise became a life, “We’ve got this.”

And even though there is a longing for places and people and sights and smells and skin, the loneliness is fading. You see, he has mighty men, too. They were willing to sacrifice, to risk, to love, to go and get, to return with a great gift. Make no mistake, the cost was great, is still great, but worth every moment, every tear, every smile. It is only possible because his mighty men have mighty men of their own. And One even mightier.

He’s learning he isn’t alone.

He’s learning that we have his back.

He’s learning that Jesus is with him, forever.

And someday, he will be someone’s mighty man. Another great story of sacrifice, risk and love for another who is alone, who needs to know his pain is seen, and is worth what it takes to it bring back.

 

 

 

Collecting Rocks

Dear Kiddos,

We made a break for it today. The sun was out, not too warm, but the sun was out, so we drove away from home. I’m smiling right now recounting our steps, our inside jokes and how the things that were bugging us melted away as we walked together, talked together.

I’ve been thinking about our walks in the woods. I’ve been thinking about the rocks we collect. Smooth stones, taking years to form and worn over with water and wind. We start out skipping them across the water, then one catches our eyes. Draws our attention, we point it out, then place it in our pockets.  It goes in a pile on the fireplace, or in a box of treasures in our bedrooms, symbolic of the time we spent together. After a while, we don’t know where one rock came from or who found it, but it doesn’t matter. The rock was only a physical reminder of something that formed in our hearts.

Kids, there are three kinds of rocks: Igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. It’s important to know the difference between the three and recognize them when you see them. You see, igneous rocks are the strongest and most valuable rocks. They are formed deep within the earth from molten magma. Sedimentary rocks are formed from the water and the air, leaving deposits from here and there. Temperature and pressure can also alter other rocks, otherwise known as metamorphic rocks. You will encounter all three of these rocks as you move through life. Pay attention to them. They are reminders.

Rocks have been used throughout time, mainly to build structures to live or work in or to mark a boundary. I’ve seen beautiful, low stone walls that meander through the English countryside, begging you to stop and wander over. I’ve driven past high, cobbled ones with broken bottles on top, a warning to the unwanted. I’ve seen rocks in a river providing a way across and still others stacked together, a memorial of remembrance.

Stones. Rocks of remembrance – they are what build you up. Those stories that go deep, that tell you who you are. The things you will learn over the years of your lives. It takes years, it takes dedication. It takes time. Yet God will continually whisper it over you forever, from the center of you, “You are mine.”These are your strongest, most valuable rocks.

Outside the core, family and friends will leave behind pieces of themselves. They get added to the pile. A few more stacked on top and an alter begins to take shape.  They’ll share their life with you as you share your life with them. You’ll make some trades, learn some hard lessons, some will stay with you and others will scatter. It’s ok, Jesus understands. He had close friends and family that didn’t get him either, but for those who stuck it out, who came back around, he shared his glory.

More years will pass and some of your rocks will take on new meaning or change in some way due to  the pressures and stress of life. These new rocks will accumulate, and sometimes seem stronger than they are. The good news?  They can be chiseled off and discarded. The place they once were will remain, another reminder, a space in your heart that was touched and is now gone. It’s a tender place, so let God fill it up with his whisper,

“You are mine.”

You see, when you were born, your dad and I recognized you were too precious to belong to us. You are a part of us, but make no mistake, you are from God. HE is your rock. He has these incredible, masterful plans he’s made just for you, things I could never begin to dream of – just for you. He loves you more than I ever could. It is impossible to match his love and this is something I don’t understand, because I love you more than my own life.

So I’ll keep taking walks with you, I’ll keep talking with you, keep adding rocks that catch my eye to your life. You’ll decide where they go on the top of your pile. It will take a lifetime. It will take dedication. It is my gift to you. Layers of memories sitting atop the eternal Rock.

This legacy, these rocks, were left for me to stack on my pile. When I was a little girl, your grandparents took me to church every Sunday and sometimes every Wednesday night. And sometimes we’d sing a song that I now know is one of my igneous rocks, one of my strongest rocks. All I remember is the chorus:

On Christ the solid rock I stand.

All other ground is sinking sand.

All other ground is sinking sand.