Day 6: Justice

I was reading my Bible this morning and I read these verses in Psalm 36.

Lord, your love reaches to the heavens, your loyalty to the skies.
Your goodness is as high as the mountains.
Your justice is as deep as the great ocean.

For some reason, I felt the greatest sense of peace wash over me as I read those words.  I read them again.

Lord, your love reaches to the heavens, your loyalty to the skies.

Your goodness is as high as the mountains.
Your justice is as deep as the great ocean.

My eyes became fixed upon that last line.

Your justice is as deep as the great ocean.

Justice is a word I think about a lot lately because of the girls.  We truly do not know what will happen with them because there is a justice system involved, one that by its own admission is blind.

But the justice of the Lord is not blind. His justice sees all.  His justice bears out an eternal perspective.   I can trust it.  Because it is as deep as the great ocean.  And because He is good.  His goodness is as high as the mountains.

And though trusting His goodness and His justice does not mean that things will absolutely turn out the way I think they should, I can trust that they will turn out the way that He has chosen.  And because I know that He is good and just and righteous and holy and infinitely loving, I trust His decisions for me. And for my family.

All that to say, I'm so grateful for a justice that runs as deep as the great ocean.  I don't know exactly how deep that is, but it sounds pretty vast.  And if God is for us, who can be against us?

Day 5: Maybe You Oughta Clean Out Your Ears

Here in Toddlerville, our vocabulary is . . . well . . . what you might call, adaptive.  By that, I mean that the girls, whose language is not yet 100%, make up words, adjust the pronunciation of words (saying them with their cute little speech impediments) or shorten the name of something in order to be able to communicate what they want, without having to use a lot of words.

Some examples, if something is breakable, they say "breakabee."
Music is "mikik."  Lips are "bips."
If they want to watch "The Polar Express" they say that they want to watch "train," or they say "seven doors" if they want to watch "Snow White."

Usually we get what they want, but sometimes it can be a bit, ummm . . . well . . . difficult.  We play a game where we repeatedly say, "what?"  and they repeat.  And we say, "what?" and they repeat.  And we say "what?" and they repeat.  Eventually they raise their voices.  This does not help.  Soon, they just drag us to what they want. And then we say "oh!

I was thinking the other day about this and how much it mimics the way I interact with God.  He tries to tell me something, and I say, "What?"  and then He tries to tell me something and I say, "What?"  and then He says it in a different way, eventually physically SHOWING me what He wants.  At which point I say, "Oh!"

The difference in the two scenarios is that the reason I can't understand the girls is because they can't speak clearly.  Something is keeping them from being about to communicate clearly.  The reason I can't understand God is because I can't hear clearly.  Something is keeping me from being able to understand Him or sometimes from being able to hear Him at all.

I have discovered that more often than not, the "something" that's blocking my ears when it comes to hearing God is unforgiveness. It's funny to me how adept unforgivenss is at hiding.
So I make it a part of my daily time with God just to ask Him if there is something I am holding onto, some form of unforgiveness that is keeping me from hearing Him.  And when He shows it to me, I release it. (I make this sound easy.  Often it isn't)  But once I have released my bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness (they seem to travel as a group), then I find that I can hear God clearly.
All that to say, as my grandma used to say, "If you cain't hear, maybe you oughta clean out your ears!"

Day 4: Anger Sucks

My friend, Cathy Henry, and I were talking one day about relationships and how difficult they can be at times.  I said, "You know, sometimes there are people that suck the life out of you." (I'm sure I am THAT person to someone!) 

She said, "You know what I think sucks the life out of us?  Anger."

That set me to thinking (I tried rewording that sentence in several ways, but no matter what I sounded like I was raised in the country, so I finally just settled on "set me to thinking.")

How many things have I gotten mad about in my life, that I don't actually even remember being mad about now?  And, of the things I can still remember being mad about, how many of those things matter now?

How much of my life has indeed been sucked away by anger, either my own or someone else's directed at me?  I would venture to say a lot.  And by sucked away, I literally mean it has ERODED part of my life.

Anger has a physical, negative effect on the body.  It can create a blood sugar imbalance; it can decrease bone density, suppress the body's immune response and make it susceptible to chronic inflammation; it can suppress thyroid function, slowing down the body's metabolism; it can impair the brain's thinking ability and increase blood pressure.  Anger can raise your heart rate to 180 beats a minute. It can raise your blood pressure from 120 over 80 to 220 over 130, perhaps even higher.  It also immediately dumps a massive amount of cortisol into your body to suppress and manage the stress on your body that stress causes.  And in case you haven't read much about it, cortisol is called the "fat hormone." 

So to recap, anger makes you fat, sick and slow, eventually killing you if you let it.

I'm not saying all anger is wrong.  I get that some of it is justified.  It's an emotion God gave us so it must have some value. 

HOWEVER, laughter (actually the "anticipation of laughter") brings all kinds of crazy healing hormones to your body, beefing up your immune system, circulatory system, skeletal system, even stimulating good health at the cellular level.

I know this is very technical today but here's my point.  Quit wasting time being angry.  I'm talking to all of us, not one of us.  Truly,  5, 10, 15, 20 years from now, you're probably not going to remember what you're angry about today.  And even if you do remember then, it probably won't matter to you. 

All that to say, Laugh.  A lot.  Out Loud.  Until you cry or wet your pants.  And then laugh some more.  Make others laugh.  Enjoy laughing.  Enjoy the laughter of others.  Just laugh. 

(PS - All that technical stuff I borrowed from some website, but forgot to write down where, so I can't give them credit.  Hopefully they won't be angry about that.)

Day 3: Best

When my son, Jacob, was born, his older brother was only 16 months old.  I had often joked with my friends who were having their kids so close together that I "knew what was causing that" and could help them out if they wanted my wisdom.

So I think it was God's idea of humbling me a bit to let me get pregnant with my second child so soon after the birth of my first one.

From very early on Zack loved his brother, but I don't know that the feeling was totally mutual.  Jacob developed a cry as a tiny baby that was his, "Zack is about to hurt me, steal my toy, hit me" cry, which later became his "Zack is about to hurt me, steal my toy, hit me, leave me out, lock me out, punch me out" yell.  And the fact that Jacob needed to develop this cry/yell is also proof that Zack may or may not have always been loving toward his little brother.

So I prayed.  I prayed that they would love each other.  I prayed that they would be friends.  I prayed that they would be life-long friends.  Best friends.  I prayed that they would be there for each other, challenge each other, see the good in each other, stick up for each other.

And seeing Jacob perform his duties as Zack's best man helped me see the fruition of those prayers.  I would have to say that Jacob was the best Best Man I have ever known.  He performed his Best Man duties as though Zack's marriage depended upon it.  He went the extra mile. 

And don't think we weren't a little bit worried at times that Jacob would remember everything.  Because he can be, well, . . . er . . . shall we say, "forgetful" from time to time.  But not when it came to his Best Man duties.  He planned a Bachelor party.  Made sure people got their tuxes.  All the usual stuff.

But he also went above and beyond in some areas.

When it was time for Zack and Christina to see each other for the first time on their wedding day, (what they call the "First Glance" these days that actually happens before the ceremony) Jacob protected that moment, guarding the door where they could see each other without prying eyes.

After the wedding ceremony, he picked up their car from the hotel, cleaned it out, then returned early the next morning to take them to the airport.  He went to their apartment and helped clean it and put away some of their things so they wouldn't have to come home to a dirty apartment.

But the best thing of all was his best man toast.  I asked him if he would give it to me to print in its entirety, but he said I would just have to remember it from memory.  Alas, I cannot.  But what I recall is that it told of Jacob's love for his brother.  Of their friendship that had spanned a lifetime, their lifetime, to date.  And I knew that my prayers had been answered.

Jacob told me this the other day, he said, "I can't imagine what it would take that could make two brothers not be friends.  I can't picture Zack and I not being best friends for the rest of our lives."

All that to say, he's the best.

Day 2: I Now Pronounce You

I don't know that I am a gifted enough writer to capture with words all that my heart and mind have taken in over the past few days.  My son, a boy that I gave birth to just a few short years ago, has become a man and taken a wife.  He is no longer mine, but hers.  A shift has taken place in the universe, one that will be imperceptible to most, but one that is dramatic and overwhelming and welcomed in mine.

There are truly no words to capture what it feels like to watch your son grow up and get married.  The days preceding the wedding were filled with wedding details, so I did not allow myself the luxury of deep introspection.  I simply had no time for it.  And the day of the wedding was equally filled with details, though I confess that once or twice I thought about the day, the wedding, their lives together, and I cried a few tears.  There was a moment when I was putting on my makeup, just hours before the ceremony, when I let a tear fall down my cheek, followed quickly by an unexpected sob.  There is a finality in a wedding ceremony.  Your children are commanded by God to leave their parents and cleave to one another.  That's pretty significant and quite frankly warrants a few tears on the part of the woman who carried and gave birth to those children.

I cried a few other times, but again, the moments that emotion welled up in me were silly and seemingly insignificant, but somehow were powerful.  I cried when I noticed that Zack's legs were shaking a little.  He was bouncing lightly on his heels.  And I smiled and then cried knowing that I might be the only person in the room to notice that my son was nervous.  And I cried when the Pastor said,  "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like to introduce to you for the very first time, Mr. and Mrs. Zachary Jones."  Silly place to cry.  But all of a sudden I thought, "What?  That sounds so strange and wonderful and weird all at the same time."

But beyond that, the rehearsal dinner and the wedding were absolutely incredible.  I was so proud of the toast my husband made at the rehearsal dinner.   (I'll mess this up, but trust me he was so eloquent) He said, "I remember when he (Zack) stood for the first time on his wobbly legs and started to walk across the floor and I wondered if he was ready, if he'd make it across the room. But he did.  And I remember when he tried to ride a bike and I wondered if he'd make it down the street.  And he did.  And I remember when he learned to drive a car and I wondered if he'd make it around the block.  And he did.  Because he was ready.  And he's ready now for this next step of his life." 

I wish I could recap every moment for you, but you would be bored, so I will spare you all of the details and give you my highlights.

Jacob gave the best "Best Man" toast I have ever heard.  His love for his brother was so apparent.  Their friendship throughout the years and his deep understanding for the man his brother had become made my heart leap.  Zack and Christina laughed (as did the audience) and they teared up (as did the audience) several times (especially over the fact that Christina called Jacob "Max" for quite a while when they first met.)  Truly one of my highlights.

My daughters walking down the aisle in their little princess dresses being the prettiest little flower girls I've ever seen (though I might be partial.)  Followed by Shortstack sitting promptly in my lap and then saying in a very disappointed voice, "Mommy, nobody clapped for me!"

My husband dancing the Cupid Shuffle.  (True story)

My dad and mom hitting the dance floor and being silly and just really having a great time! 

All of the six Jones's, and our newest family member, Christina Jones, all hitting the dance floor together to dance the first dance.  And to show you just how incredible it was, I went to get the girls (Nitro and Shortstack) to see if they wanted to dance, but they had just been served the wedding cake, so I thought it was a long shot.  As soon as I asked them if they wanted to dance, their cake was abandoned as they made a bee-line for the dance floor.  A highlight moment.

I laughed until I cried.  And then I cried.  Because I'm allowed.   I gave birth to the man that I saw stand on a stage and solemnly vow to take Christina Taylor to be his wife.  And in that moment he ceased to be mine.

And though the time that he was mine has been so special and overwhelmingly filled with love, my prayer is that it will be quickly eclipsed by the love he lavishes on her daily for the rest of their lives.

All that to say . . . (insert sigh here).

Day 1: Let's Get It On

I always love typing "Day 1."   I actually smiled a little bit this year as I typed, "Day 1," because in my head I heard William Shatner's voice saying, "Star date, Day 1."  Why. . .?  I have no idea, which I suppose is what made me giggle.

2012 feels a little scary to me, if I'm totally honest.  I'm usually in the "oh it's ripe with endless possibility" mood, all giddy with the unknown ahead.  But for some reason, giddy is not how I feel.

I'm not afraid of 2012.  Just . . . well . . . apprehensive.  And honestly, I could cave to apprehension (which is really just worry dressed up in a more expensive dress).  But I won't.  Instead I will hold steadfastly to what I know to be true.

Day 1 is here.  Waiting to be breathed, and lived, and consumed with joy and zeal.

And Day 2 is not yet written (at least anywhere that I can read its contents).

All that to say, "Here's to you Day 1.  Let's get it on."