Thursday, March 31, 2016

When We Miss Jesus

During our recent Easter church service, it really popped out at me that after Jesus had risen, Mary Magdalene didn’t recognize Him.

In fact, she thought Jesus was the gardener. 

The gardener!

Sobbing that Jesus was gone, Mary asked this "gardener" if He had taken Jesus’s body.

Isn’t that something?

She didn’t recognize Jesus!

But Jesus wasn’t offended.

He just called her by name.

And then she knew.
Instantly.

Read it for yourself in John 20:10-18.

Our pastor showed us a Rembrandt depicting the scene.

Rembrandt has Jesus holding a shovel like a gardener. Mary is crying on the steps of the tomb.


I’ve been thinking a lot about that.

The not recognizing Jesus.

It’s so easy for me to think, duh, Mary, how could you NOT know Jesus standing right in front of you?


She had just been walking around with Him.

She saw Him teach and perform miracles.

You’d think she would know better than most,
every wrinkle in His face 
and the amazing love in His eyes.

But she didn’t.

Maybe that’s because it was still somewhat dark as dawn was just breaking.

Maybe that’s because Mary wasn’t just crying that Jesus was gone, she was wailing.

According to my bible notes, wailing means 
“a loud expression of grief.”

Is it possible Mary was too caught up in her own grief 
to see Jesus standing right in front of her?

My bible notes also say that perhaps Jesus appeared to Mary first, 
before any of the other disciples, 
because she needed Him most at that time.

Jesus revealed Himself to comfort her.

The disciples didn’t recognize Him at first either when Jesus was standing by the edge of the water while they were fishing not far from shore.

Isn’t that interesting…?

I always find it curious what is included in the scriptures.

Little details that show the real humanity of the characters of the bible 
that I could easily view as spiritual superheroes.

But they were just like us.

Like earlier in John 20 when it talks about the disciples running fast to the tomb to see if Mary was telling the truth that Jesus wasn’t there and it goes on to mention who got there first.


As in, who was the fastest.


FYI:  it wasn’t Peter.
And since John was the author of the book, 
I can only assume who the winner was.

Total macho humanity.

And back in the Old Testament, in Numbers 12:3,

“(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)"

Moses wrote Numbers, by the way.

That’s some false humble humanity right there.

Then there’s Martha and Mary. While Martha was busy getting everything ready for what I have to imagine was quite a meal, Mary was sitting at Jesus’s feet listening to Him.

Martha was so put out and flustered that she tattled on Mary to Jesus.

“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Luke 10:40

Did she really just try to boss Jesus around?!

Jesus put her in her place,

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42

Martha missed Jesus and He was IN. HER. HOUSE.

That’s some ugly, transparent, truthful humanity.

Especially if you are a woman
and have ever worked in a church kitchen.

Or just your own at home.

Those details ultimately are comforting.

Because it’s no different today than it was 2,000 years ago.

We miss Jesus all the time.

Or we try to boss Him around.

We get caught up in who will finish the race first

or how we can appear humble doing it 

or what we will serve for dinner and who will help us.

We walk right past Jesus because we think He’s the gardener.

We miss the whole amazing fact that 
HE’S SITTING IN OUR HOUSE.

But He’s so patient to call us by name.

To steer us back to Him from our own humanity rabbit trail.

To comfort us.

Yoo hoo! 
Karmen! 
Over here. 
This is the way. 
Let’s walk in it.







Monday, March 28, 2016

The Grocery Store, Bernie Sanders, My Friend’s Father and Bah Humbug

We got back from Spring Break a few days before Easter.

I’ve been to the grocery store a lot since then.

One just to get supplies for necessary living after being gone for a week.

And then to stock up for Easter brunch.
I made some great new recipes which I will share soon.

And then again to get McDaniel stocked up with supplies
 for a school trip to New York City.

During one visit to the grocery store with my brunch menu in hand, I saw who I thought was presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

After a few side way glances in the toothpaste aisle, 
I determined he smiled far too much to be Bernie Sanders.



Then I swear I saw my childhood friend’s father. He looked JUST like him. Same smile, build, everything! I followed him through frozen foods to try to sneak a picture to send to my friend but then I realized that I can barely take a picture smoothly WHEN I WANT TO let alone when I want to do it on the sly.

So I went back to my list.

I decided to make a lighter, less sweet punch for Easter than my grandmother’s slushy punch recipe.

The recipe called for peach nectar.

I thought, no big deal, go to the juice aisle.

Not there.

Then I looked in the organic section’s juice aisle.

Nope. 

They had something called Bilberry Nectar 
and a drinkable aloe 
but not peach nectar.

So I thought maybe this was something fancy people put into fru-fru mixed drinks with little umbrellas so I took my full shopping cart to that aisle.

I stood there looking at all manner of flavored things and something called bitters when an older man came around the corner fast and ran into my cart with his.

With a scowl on his face he loudly said,

“Bah!”

Then pushed his cart off.

Bah?! 

As in humbug?

Do people still say Bah Humbug?!

So I know now that I did NOT indeed see Bernie Sanders or my childhood best friend’s father in the grocery store.

But I was just one humbug shy of running into Ebeneezer Scrooge!



**The peach nectar was not in the mixers section.**

A few texts later my friend directed me 
(and by me I mean Monte because I could NOT
 go to one. more. grocery store.) 
to the Mexican section of the store and we struck peach nectar gold!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Only God


I want to talk about suffering.

I know.

[Insert needle scratching across a record noise here]

Killjoy!

I have had a front row seat to some people who are suffering over the past year.

Some a few rows further back.

Some more like a passing glance.

But each example has been amazing.

Not that these particular people have been in pain

but it was HOW they handled it 
that blew me away.

I’ve come to realize that I’ve never felt more in the presence of God than when I’m watching someone suffer well.

Not be in denial.

Or put on a happy mask for the public eye.

But true, real, breathing possession of the peace that surpasses all understanding.



It was as if I could feel God holding them in the palm of His hand.

The people I’ve witnessed were completely justified in feeling…bad.

Their circumstances were punches in the emotional and spiritual gut.

But instead of grieving in such a way 
that clouded the space around them,

they lit it up.



Monte described one of the suffering people in our lives after running into them at the grocery store as glowing.

Only God.

Only God as our light can pierce the darkness of this world.

And only God can heal the cracks in our heart,
if we let Him, 
so that His joy in us makes. us. glow.

It has moved me to tears several times.

Happy, 
grateful, 
full-of-awe, 
“only God” 
tears.

I called to console someone recently on a tremendous loss and yet I was the one blessed by the conversation.

I found myself thanking her for the blessing before hanging up.

Only God.

To be able to speak articulately and inspirationally without breaking down at the funeral of your spouse taken too soon?

Only God.

If any of these people hadn’t acted in these ways,

God would’ve still been right there with them in their suffering.

But because THEY DID,

well, I’m writing this post.

It’s inspired me.

I want that.

Not the suffering, 

although I know it will come someday.

I want the overwhelming confidence that God will be BIGGEST through my weakest moments.

That I will not only not be crushed,

but through my “not being crushedness,”

 God will bless someone.

And who knows, 
they might write a blog post about it.

I want someone someday with a front row seat to my suffering to say,

“Only God.” 

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Monday, March 07, 2016

Birthdays!

I’ve been so busy.

I’ve written about our trip to Miami for Monte’s 50th birthday but I haven’t uploaded all the pictures and the thought of doing that right now is exhausting.

I will get to it.

At some point.

So…it’s March!

My dear friend Sumita had a big birthday.


There was an “incident” when I was walking to my car with those number balloons.

It decided to get windy all of a sudden.

And the 0 whipped right over my head,

well, on my head I should say.

My head was peaking out of the middle of the 0 like I was wearing a neck brace. 

A really big, metallic pink neck brace.

I feared I’d let go of the balloons so I bent my head to hold the 0 against my neck and shoulder.

Another gust of wind whipped the hook part of the 5 against the back of my leg.

I thought that was good so I could kinda hold it there by sliding my leg along like it was wooden.

I heard a kid in the parking lot say,

“Mommy, look at the balloons!”

I couldn’t see the kid because my head was inside 
an enormous 0.

I wanted to yell,

“Help! Don’t look at the balloons. Look at the woman trapped INSIDE the balloons!”

Anyhoo,

our women’s bible study gathered for lunch to honor Sumita.

I love these women!

It was an elephant theme since Sumita loves elephants.

I cut out elephant shapes on different colored card stock and had everyone write down things they love about Sumita and advice for her now that she’s 50.


I printed out this cute picture and framed it for her.

Print by Marc Johns.

It says,

“I’m truly surprised that we seem to get by
without polka dot elephants, serving us pie."

I looked up some facts about female elephants and couldn’t help but see some similarities between the characteristics of the matriarch elephant and Sumita.

So I pointed them out, presentation style.


It was a fun day!

The very next day, my oldest baby turned 17.

Yes, she’s wearing a sack on her head.
And no, I have no idea why.


This is the last year she can’t be tried as an adult should she end up on the wrong side of the law.

(As my friend reminded me.)

When McDaniel saw Sumita’s cool balloons she asked for them for her birthday.

Back to the party store I went.

Even though it was pouring rain as I walked to my car with the balloons, there were no incidents.

No entanglement or kids pointed at me.

I called Sumita and pondered if that was prophetic.

17 is easier than 50.

She wondered why I was bringing that up to her ON HER 50th BIRTHDAY.

Back to McDaniel…



We snapped this before school.

McDaniel had trouble coming up with anything she wanted for her birthday except for what she ALWAYS asks for:  a goat. A goat that she will name Tom Hanks.

Still a no on that request.

But I did find this awesome gift bag.

How perfect! 
Inside was a pair of running pants I found on clearance at an expensive yoga store. 

They were labeled “Harlem Globetrotter” pants but they reminded me more of Rocky. 



Track season starts this week so I thought they’d be fun.

McDaniel had the SATs on Saturday so she saw fit to pump herself up by wearing her Rocky pants. We even watched Creed the night before to get her in the fighting spirit.

McDaniel told us she wanted to go to Waffle House for dinner.

Fine by us!


It seems like it has been a season of celebrations from February until now. And I didn’t even mention the bridal shower Julie and I hosted this past weekend.

I’ll post pictures of that next.

I had a cheese shredding incident…