Playing Hide and Seek

Lately my kids have been on a hide-and-seek kick. Generally from each other, though occasionally they just <love> to hide from me... especially when they're playing and I'm not even aware that I'm in the game.

They think it's hilarious to hide when I call them.

The other day after a particularly frustrating round of me calling and looking for my oldest (all the while not knowing she had decided it was hide-and-seek time) I came to my momma-whits-end. I had started by simply telling her it was time to get in the car. She disappeared. After 5 minutes I was generally yelling around the house telling her is was time to get in the car. After another 5 minutes I was actively searching for her and yelling even louder to come.get.in.the.car. We were late. I was frustrated. I had finally realized somewhere along the line that she was in fact, playing the game and not being <completely> disobedient.

And yet she was being completely disobedient.

And now several people would be late to a  function that would make many others have to change their plans as well.

That night my husband and I were talking over the general hide-and-seek situation. As I was bemoaning her general lack of behavior and how it vastly changed the outcomes of our afternoon, God gently reminded me that I had done the very same thing to Him... on more occasions to count.

How many times had He told me to do something and I didn't? I ran away. I hid. Like my daughter I literally went the other direction and disappeared. How much of His Word, meant for my good and instruction, have I disobeyed? Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes I was simply 'playing' a game and not listening, and other times I intentionally and purposefully didn't listen.

I was immediately convicted that my own games of hide-and-seek with my Father have (I'm sure) caused my fair share of frustration and Fatherly angst. Several situations in which I didn't do what I was supposed to ran across my memory-banks. Ugh. I wonder how many people were depending on me to obey? I wonder how much blessing I lost out on because I didn't listen to what I was told? I pondered who I made 'late' and who had to change their 'plans' because I was MIA. Innumerable I imagine.

But God is good, and even in those dark thoughts He reminded me of something else. That just like I had done for my daughter (probably a bit less angry...) He will also come looking for me. When I was lost, He came after me. Yelling my name, searching high and low.

Better yet, HE is never hard to find, because He never plays games with me. If I need Him, He is there- right there, always ready and willing to be together. There are no games, no hide-and-seek, no wondering where He could be.

In that moment and in the moments after, I have found that wonderfully reassuring. I have a God and a Father who looks for me and is always with me. He will never leave me or forsake me. He will not tire of searching for His wayward daughter, nitwit that I may be at times.

Deut. 31:8 "It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” ESV

Jeremiah 29:13 "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." ESV

Isaiah 41:10 "...fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ESV

Amen and Amen!

Lemonade or Lemons? - Depends on What You Actually Need...

It’s been almost 3 years since I started this whole author-blog-writer-thing and I’m astounded at the words God has put on my heart to share with you all. Looking through some of my first posts I can see the threads God began weaving in my life through this ministry in so many of the posts. I thought it might be a fun thing to update some of the more popular ones and give my new subscribers an opportunity to read the roots of how this blog started.

Today I’m starting with my very very very first blog ever written. It’s so cool to see how what I learned is still so true for me today (read the original post too if you like!)

2016- It was opening day for Term 2 at Camp Barnabas and I’d been the medical director for this camp for special needs for a hot-second. Intake at the WellHouse for the nurses was in full force and I had just been called over by one of my nurses asking if camp had lemon juice. A camper apparently needed some so therefore the medical center needed some available. We needed... no let me rephrase, a very <thorough> camper mom was telling us that we medically required lemon juice. It was literally a medical necessity. Ummm, okay, that's a new one I thought to myself (#helicoptermom much?).... lemon juice....

Let me give you a bit of background, Camp Barnabas is a Christian camp for children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. As you can imagine the types and kind of campers we serve can run the gamut of medical needs. From MACE procedures, a bazillion medications, G-tubes, bowel programs, and ventilators- I see all sorts of medical equipment and we serve a huge array of medical 'stuff'. So at first, the request for lemon juice was not <totally> weird... sure... absolutely we have lemon juice. I'd check with our cook and see but it'd be no biggie to steal some from the kitchen; and worst case scenario, we'd grab the lemonade available and use that. But then this particular request got strange... mom was informing us that her child couldn't use just any kind of lemon juice, she needed freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Not lemonade, not fake lemon juice... As in, out of a real lemon, freshly squeezed lemon juice. Unsweetened, undiluted- straight up out of the lemon.

Pause.

Gross.

The little-squirters in the back of my mouth (total medical term there...) were working overdrive just thinking about the tart-factor of that swig. I'd definitely had some bizarre requests, especially dietary... but this one was rapidly accelerating (not unlike my saliva volume) up to the top of my "Most unusual medical needs" list. My medical incredulity alarm went off and internally I was thinking this lady is cray-cray.  Never in my medical career (which is not a particularly short or sheltered one I might add) could I think of a time or an instance that I could even fathom the absolute medical necessity of straight-up lemon juice for anything. Let alone making this poor camper suffer through drinking such a nasty thing! I mean, seriously... who does that? I was just about ready to very politely but firmly tell above mother that this was a summer camp, in the middle of nowhere, and the chances of us having fresh lemons was less than nill, when she told us that the reason for the fresh lemon juice had everything to do with the undiluted acid content in the juice, and nothing to do with the taste.

Okay, now I'm a bit more intrigued. Maybe she's not totally 'that mom'...

So long story, short, according to this kiddo's doctor, the fresh lemon juice was a necessity to help break down the medications properly, and for her stomach to digest more easily all her food. Which, as noted before, was fine... I now got it- but still didn't actually fix our immediate issue. I was on board with the why, now to address the how. Because, again, think summer camp in the middle of Nowheresville, Missouri; freshly squeezed lemon juice was not exactly readily accessible. Okay mom, okay... I'll just have to check.

We had lemonade but we really needed lemons. Not fake lemon juice, good old off the tree lemons to squeeze good old lemon juice out of. We need real deal, tart, unsweeted, undiluted, acidic, make-your-salivary-glands-go-crazy lemons.

Has life ever given you lemonade but you really just needed a lemon?

It occurred to me throughout that week, with every med pass that nurse made to her camper, that there must be times when God gives us lemons and He expects and needs us to just deal with the juice. The tart, unsweetened, undiluted lemon juice. He doesn't want us to make lemonade out of it. He doesn't want us to sweeten it up. He doesn't want us to dilute it. He wants us to swig it down and let it do it's work. His work. The acidic, often uncomfortable, make-your-spirit-squirm Spirit work that needs to be done within us.

The properties of acid, especially in this case, work to wear away and break down chemical structures in order to either completely do away with a substance or make it more malleable to change.

Anyone picking up where I'm going with this yet?

God uses His own lemon juice in our lives daily. Yet too often we shy away from the bitterness of the taste and miss the spiritual acid He's using to do His work in us. We avoid taking it, like little children squirming to avoid their brussel sprouts. We spit it out. We try to sweeten it up- "making lemonade out of lemons."

I think there is something to be said for the amazing lemonade that God allows by His grace in our lives. Those sweet times with family, the seasons of tremendous fruit spiritually, the happy days of our lives that we yearn for and reminisce about for years. These are good times. These are those deep, refreshing drinks of iced cold lemonade. They are wonderful and needed.

There are also needs for just plain old generic lemon juice. After all, juice out of a bottle is still juice. It still is acidic, and for many things it can serve the same purpose as the real deal. But it will always be diluted, it will always be pasteurized and ever-so-slightly chemically altered. Self-help books, spiritual books, blogs (uh huh, even this one... but keep reading!), counseling, meditation, etc. You get the idea. These are not bad things. they can be immensely beneficial to us... but dear ones, don't be deceived or lazy. The real work of our souls is GodStuff. It is His spiritual acid, His lemon juice in our lives that refine and make us more into His servants. Bottled stuff will never perfectly match the composition of the real stuff.

For the word of the Lord is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 

Hebrew 4:12 ESV

Sound a bit acidic? Hard to squirm away from that... though we may try! God's Word is the real deal. It will always be undiluted, sometimes hard to swallow, and refining to our souls. Always. So don't avoid it.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have it's full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4 (emphasis mine)

Trials, tribulations, testing.... all lemons. God allows and sometimes even causes such things- for the good and perfection of His people. We must see the bigger picture, so let those lemons do their thing. Let that juice work it's way around and in and throughout. It's uncomfortable, it tastes bad and can be seemingly so very hard to digest.  But it's cleansing, detoxing and refining to us. He will cleanse, detox, and refine. So let Him.

So the question remains- I imagine we all have a few lemons in our life right now. Take a moment to refect on what they are. Does God want you to let His Spirit do some much needed acid-work? Or perhaps He needs you to make some lemonade? What or where are the lemons in your life right now? Are you struggling to sweeten the situation? Post below and share your lemon juice experiences- I ‘d love to hear about them!