The season of lent has always been confusing for me. I usually feel this pressure to give something up, fail to do so on time, and then just plan to do it next year. Growing up in the Catholic Church, lent was always something that I understood as a time for self-denial and ritual. There didn't seem to be much reflection or scriptural basis behind the fasting from a certain item or the restraining from eating meat on Fridays. As a child I knew that we would go to church to get ashes on our foreheads, but it had no meaning and just made me feel silly. An understanding of lent from this perspective leaves you in the sink hole of legalism and self-righteousness, not in the refreshing streams of grace and the gospel.
This year our family is setting intentional time aside to reflect and repent from the brokenness of our own hearts and the brokenness of this world, but we don't do this without hope! We are looking towards Easter and celebrating the resurrection of Christ and his ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
"But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved..." (Ephesians 2:5)
As we attended our church's ash Wednesday service last night, I was brought to tears as the ashes were placed on my head and the verse above was repeated to me. The reality of Christ's work on the cross became more real. In the OT ashes were a sign of repentance and lament. The ashes on my head were a reminder of my humanity, and the tension we all feel of the already and the not yet.
We are excited to celebrate and reflect upon what Christ has done through this lenten season. This season is not about self-denial and ritual, but rather about feasting on the grace that is possible through a relationship with Jesus!
Friday, February 21, 2014
This time last year I was sitting on the couch with my VERY swollen feet elevated and feeling my baby move, hoping he/she would make their debut sooner rather then later. Little did I know that seven hours later my labor would start, and six hours after that I would be holding my little girl. The memories of the labor pains have faded, and tomorrow we celebrate a full year of life with Anna!
I have had so many thoughts and reflections in anticipation to Anna's first birthday! Everyone keeps asking if I can believe that she is already one. In hind sight, yes, it has gone fast, but I don't feel like it has gone so fast that I missed out. There were so many times throughout this year that I felt so overwhelmed with feelings of love for my daughter. Pictures and videos couldn't capture all the emotion of my heart. Being present in each moment has been my goal. I certainly have not done this perfectly, but I do feel like I was able to soak in the first year of Anna's life well. As I watched her sitting in the middle of the tupperware cabinet tonight, talking and chewing on a toy, I just smiled and tucked the moment away!
I had no idea the ups and downs that this year had in store for me as I embraced the role of mama. As I wrestled through my desire to blot out the brokenness of this world, I was continually brought to my knees in humble reliance upon the one who has already accomplished it. As I fought paralyzing fear about the things that could happen to me, my daughter, or my husband, I was again gently reminded by my Heavenly Father that he is on his throne. As I wrestled through, and continue to wrestle through, my own issues of confidence, I make decisions for my child, and sometimes even stand up to others who may disagree. This people pleasing heart is not always very good at being confident in the face of those who may disagree. As thoughts of "I don't know if I can do this" plagued me in those first few weeks, the words of Jesus brought hope: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Apart from Christ I can do NOTHING! What a relief that is to hear when my patience runs out as Anna squirms on the changing table, or wakes up once more, or wants to eat again even though she just ate 20 minutes ago, or as I look at my body that doesn't look at all like what it used to, or as my mind can't focus on this date with my husband because I am worried about whether Anna is sleeping. Apart from Christ I can do nothing! His grace is sufficient for me, and his grace is definitely something that I need! This year of motherhood has taught me yet again what it means to rely on my Savior. He is the Christ, and I am not. I pray that this truth is cultivated more and more in my life as I continue in my journey as mama, and begin to teach my daughter what it means to abide in her Savior.