Whats in a name?

“Call me by name oh Lord, when you call me into your kingdom!”

In the last of our Lenten adventures we wanted to identify with people of a different race. Being multi-racial in our own family we had to stretch our imaginations a bit. So we went to a nearby ancient cliff dwelling national park called Mesa Verde. We have been there before and it is always interesting and fun to see and think about how people lived there. 7000+ feet elevation, 700+ years of civilization, farming, hunting, living to survive. This time was different though. We stayed on the Ute Nation reservation. Any person there could have told us what tribe they hail from. They could tell us stories from their ancestors. They could tell us their name and why they are named that. But the people that lived at Mesa Verde, that build these amazing feats of engineering (that have lasted for 2000 years), that survived in this area for over 700 years have no name. The government powers that be, have called them Anasazi for as long as I can remember but we now know that is a derogatory term from another large tribe in the area. So they are now called Ancestral Puebloans as ancestors of the modern tribes. However, no group claims this people now. They are nameless.

Even the term “indian” that we use comes from the fact that the early explorers thought they had found the East Indies. We use it to classify many people that don’t identify with that name personally at all!

This astounded us. They have no name. Are they remembered? Are they valid? Are they significant in history? They were building a temple when there civilization stopped.  Why did they stop building it?  Who were they? We, in our culture, place so much value on a name.  We named our kids very specifically for the meanings. They fit their names. We wear names on our clothing. We drive vehicles with names. We associate names with our foods. We know that the name “Donald Trump” stands for money and risk,” McDonalds” is fast food, “Hawaii” is sun and beach, “Mercedes” is nice car, “Organic” is better for you. “It’s just a name” does not apply in this day and age. We use names to identify, to classify, to differentiate, to recognize, to assign, to clarify. These people from Mesa Verde have no name? How is that?

God calls us many things in His word…

“child of God”…John 1:12

“branch of the true vine, conduit of Christ”…John 15

“justified and redeemed”…Romans 3:24

“child and heir”…Galatians 3:28

“temple of the Holy Spirit”…1 Corinthians 1:30

“beloved”…Song of Songs

“new creation”…2 Corinthians 5:17

I could go on and on. HE calls us by name… HE changes our names to what HE knows us to be… HE names us!

 

Our “Lenten Adventures” have taken our hearts to see that the homeless need to be seen, the religious are doing what they think is best for them and their families, that those around us that speak other languages can be beautifully accepting, and that we all feel the need to be named. I’m not sure that the kids see how this applies to their lives or their relationships with God, but I certainly hope it makes us better parents to teach them the characteristics of God.

 

 

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Lenten Adventures Continued…

Our plan last week for our identifying with others was to attend a traditional Jewish Purim celebration, but due to an unexpected basketball tournament we found ourselves relating to the sports fanatic crowd. We fit into that a bit too easily as we hollered for our teams.

So this week we planned to combine last weeks plan for the Jewish synagogue and this week of putting ourselves into the shoes of the homeless of our community. So we left our home for the 1 hour drive for the Shabbat service. We got there and it was not open. So we went to an Islamic community center and it was not open. So we went to the homeless shelter and it was not open. So we went to try our hand at panhandling and we could not find an open corner. It was bizarre! Isabella was sure God was telling us that this was a silly venture and we should just go shopping and Quinn was pretty convinced it was lunch time and Kadin is always game for anything where his people are. Mike and I were becoming more and more hesitant and anxious. Our nerves and pride almost got the best of us.

We almost just gave up and went to lunch. We finally found a corner and tried to make our freshly laundered clothes and recently showered bodies appear needy. And so we sat…in humility and disgrace. As we sat and watched car after car after car pass without so much as a glance our clothes became inconsequential. The ball was then in “their” court. We were there…putting our pride aside holding a cardboard sign…and no one would even make eye contact. If they looked our way at all it was hasty and they would quickly look away. We had been concerned about being recognized or considered “too clean” but no one really saw us. No one looked long enough at us to see that we were just regular people down on our luck. We could see another panhandler with a walker across the street making the same progress with his efforts as we were. We stood in pairs for a grand total 45 minutes. Not only did we not receive even a coin we barely received recognition of existence.

We certainly did not walk away with the results we anticipated. We rarely drive by a panhandler without giving something but from now on I am sure we will give the respect of eye contact and a hello as well as a dollar.

As for the religion quest we will try again. On a high note… next to the Jewish synagogue was a Church of Christ that had a prayer labyrinth. I was very excited as I have been aware of these for several years but not seen one so elaborate. So we as a family walked through it in the rain and prayed silently and out loud. We may now have to build one in our backyard! The ancients really knew what they were doing when they created such a wonderful and peaceful ritual.

In summary, as a hitchhiker Mike once picked up said, “Everybody wants an adventure except while its happening!” This day did not go as planned but it was still a learning experience and we are together and grateful to our loving God for our many many blessings!

Lent

So our Lenten season this year will be a bit different for us. We have in the past fasted as a family things like meat, media, other items from our lives that are “unnecessary.” However, this year as Mike and I are frequently reminded how spoiled we are and we are constantly telling our kids how spoiled they are, we are trying something new. We both have travelled both to places where things are easy and where things are not so easy. We consistently find happier more satisfied people in places that struggle. Here in our Colorado lives where the sun shines and we are warm, fed and clothed we feel as if we struggle when we are looking to ourselves and our things or at our “neighbors” for our fulfillment.  So begins our season of Lent.

As we were looking toward this season of penitence we asked our kids about what they might feel led to fast. Isabella decided on her own to fast pizza, ice cream, chocolate and peanut butter. Since the rest of us probably could not survive without 1 never the less all 4 of these things we are letting her fast these things alone. To Quinn we suggested he fast hot sauce as he literally has an addiction but you would have thought we asked for his arms…so we let this go too. Kadin is 4 and if it is out of sight it is out of mind so fasting for him is not too difficult since he just goes on to the next thing.  Mike and I just came off a fast from last month for another thing we have chosen to do. All this to say we aren’t fasting.

We have decided to make our season of identifying with Jesus’ sacrifice also a season of identifying with certain people groups around us. We have chosen 4 different people groups to delve into their lives. The 1st is those that live where they do not speak the language. In our tiny town of 2000, about half are Spanish speakers. Mike calls it “little Tijuana”.  I sometimes find myself thinking that “They should learn English!” That confession out there… these are the 1st we are recognizing. On Sunday we attended a Spanish mass, then went to an authentic Mexican restaurant. I know that you are thinking that doesn’t sound like much of a struggle. It wasn’t. I must confess…we loved the service and we loved the restaurant. The church was standing room only and the restaurant we were recognized because we frequent the establishment. We used our tiny vocabularies of Spanish words to follow the mass and to order food. What brought it home for us was that we stood out! We were definitely the odd balls in both places and everyone knew it. We were not unwelcomed or treated unkindly. Quite the opposite! Quinn did say that if he couldn’t understand his coaches or  his teachers it would be “totally hard!” But it makes him understand his teammates Juan and Sergio better and why they don’t talk a whole lot.

We have plans for 3 more weeks of recognizing hardships of others…of putting ourselves into their lifestyles and into their situations. We could do this for many many months without exhausting a supply of groups. We are praying that our kids realize how good they have life and that we remember that our battles in this life could be so much harder. We all need to remember that ALL good things come from God and that to HIM and HIM alone are we to be grateful.

Uh oh! Not quite…

We start the evening “Ok… lets say the Lord’s Prayer together…” then I hear “The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want…” oops… not what I was thinking. We giggle and try again.  What’s your favorite bible verse?…”Jesus! Praise the Lord and helps the kids!” and  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only forgotten son…” uh oh again!  I  say  “What do you want to grow in your life?”  “Love? Joy? Lettuce?” Lettuce?!? Really?  These are just a few of the things we hear with our discussions about God, the bible, fruits of the Spirit, life with God and the kingdom. But we keep on keeping on.

Through our daily Good Dirt readings we have learned to look at our days and remember how and where God was. Even when sometimes we didn’t recognize Him.

I am so very blessed when Isabella prays for someone at her school to “walk in God’s light.” She attends a school full of the last chance kids. I’m not even sure she is aware that her words radiate light in that very dark place to kids from very dark homes.

Last night, our question was “when were you worried today” and watching Quinn identify where and how God helped him through that moment…that is good.  He is such a thoughtful kid, he tends to worry. For him to be able to recognize, even late, that God was there is so encouraging.

When Kadin says “Jesu(th) is with me! Jesu(th) love(th) me! Jesus help(th) kid(th)”… we remember what its all about. Our kids are being raised in church, in the word, in daily devotions, in daily prayer, in regular bible studies etc. They get some things wrong… but a lot right.

I am always learning God’s heart as I grow with my kids. I re-learn those simple truths such as Jesus is with me…in this moment…in this dark place…and is so very gracious when I have it wrong. Thank you God for giving us these 3 lives to show us the way to your throne room and your living breathing kingdom.

Moments in Time

As most of you know Wendy my gorgeous wife paints houses now and then with her sister Christy.  Their most recent accomplishment was wall papering a “castle” outside of Delta (Delda for those who speak Deldonian).  I call it a castle because it sits on the south side of Grand Mesa, is 11,000 square feet and has just a magnificent feel to it.  A secret door, a giant tiled living space that could fit a half basketball court in it, a kitchen that makes cooks like myself drop to their knees exclaiming “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”  Anyway you get the idea.  It’s a nice place.

Last week I was in “Delda” with my two boys while Wendy and Christy were working at the castle.  It was one of the very snowy days of the week and I’m in our Buick Lasabre with bald tires and the castle sits 7 miles off the hyway straight up the extinct volcano’s reaches.  I, now 47 years of age,  hesitate to take the journey as it’s a blizard in “Delda”, but adventure awaits and my boys’ sense of adventure is getting to level six on “Skylanders Swap Force” video game and the snow is lifting a bit.

The journey up goes by a ranch house with old dead monstrous cottonwood trees on one side of the road and an abandoned small orchard on the the other.  Then it comes to several chicken raising barns and then the final ascent to the castle is steep.  We make it up no problem.  After I tour the place and determine its castle-like status we venture back home after a farewell smooch from my lady.  The snow now is back with a force and our visibility is down to 50 yards.  I put the Buick in low and we just creep down getting up to a top speed of maybe 20. I start expounding on the moment with my boys, for what we can see is only just what’s ahead. “What if there’s only what we can see and nothing beyond?” I exclaim to the somewhat worried looking boys.

We then approach the old ranch and we can see as we near the cottonwoods several Ravens and they are fighting with a Golden Eagle.  Whiteout of snow around us and God clashing before us in battle with our enemies.  There’s no show of fear from the eagle even outnumbered 12 to 1 and we in the old car as mere spectators to their clash.  The boys just exclaim (raised from their 80’s era father) “cool!”

A week later I’m taking my oldest son Quinn to his tutor outside of Montrose.  She lives about 6,000 feet and has had some accumulation after several days of heavy snow so she says that her husband will meet us at the bottom of the hill to help us with the journey.  Sounds like another adventure to me so I take our SUV.  We get to their driveway and see there is probably a foot of new snow. I roar the SUV down the drive in four wheel drive slipping a bit several times to the side of the mile long treacherous driveway.  I take extra care to go beyond the limits of a 100% safe trip down the drive just to exhilarate my son a bit.  On the way out I take my time viewing the covered landscape covered with the engineered frozen crystals that transformed the mesa to something magical.  Millions of tiny mirrors reflecting beams of sunlight.  Odd shapes of snow covered trees make a rounded lumpy white terrain.  The trail is just a moment in time going through a free tour of Gods transformation.  No troubles exist here for this mile is God’s orchestration.

Later that day I pick up Quinn in town from his tutor and he wants to go to his favorite pizza place for lunch.  Colorado Boy is our local fire brick oven pizza/brewery.  The responsible father in me that thinks we have sandwich stuff at home is easily swayed because I too like the pie at Colorado Boy.  While I’m there I usually help the place out and purchase a pint of Irish ale,  just to be a good patron of local business. I hold several gold medals for eating slowly and savoring the food and beverage of the moment.  However, Quinn is now a definite contender of eating as slow or slower than his old man so, we are not in a hurry.    It’s getting past 1:00 pm and with the fill of beer and pizza and the view from the gunfighters seat in the booth of the quaint restaurant it all goes kinda slow motion.  The place is clearing out people are talking, laughing, enjoying the atmosphere of the fire brick oven and the brass laden bar, I see God again.  He’s enjoying the moment with us.  Father and son, no words need to be spoken. These are moments I cherish and wish they could last forever.

From the Mouths of Babes

My boys want to share their thoughts about this season and our Good Dirt readings. Please remember that Kadin is 4 and Quinn has a very hard time verbalizing his thoughts and feelings. That being said…. I type their words…

Kadin: We talk to each other and about Jesus. We hug each other and we love each other. I know that Jesus is the best Jesus. I like that we have a great time in our Bible study. I like to draw the pictures. I draw my shepherd pictures. I like to pray for my Tt (aunt) that she has a great night sleep and that Rilynn (cousin) will have a sleep over again at our house. I like when Daddy prays for me. My favorite is the kids Bible. My favorite story is about Jesus when he talks to persons and heals persons. I like that we have a great time every night. I miss it when we don’t do it.  We pray for each other and I like to pray for Daddy. That’s all!

Quinn: Every night we pray for blessings and forgiveness and our ability to know Jesus. I like to pray for Lacy and Easton and Grandma Nonie and our neighbors and believing. I like to draw pictures of what you’re saying of the stories. My favorite picture I have drawn is of the Jesus giving the woman a loaf of bread. I like this picture because that lady was grateful and she said thank you to Jesus for the loaf of bread. I am always grateful! I am grateful for friends, pets, toys, clothes, bed, food, water, lions, movies and video games, parents, family, wood for our stove, ipods, funny youtube videos, Max (the dachshund), real trains, giggle fits and our home/farm. (truly he can keep going but my fingers are not fast enough). I love to light the candles every night… OH YEAH! I learned about Jesus how he is a good man and our King. How he made our world very good. I have learned how He loves us by how He made us and how He gave everything for us. I like when we do our (Good Dirt) Bible study after dinner because we want to learn more about Jesus and it helps us know Jesus better.

I am beyond blessed listening and talking to these two precious boys. They are my heart and soul! Just a minute ago I was frustrated with Quinn and his difficulty getting his schoolwork finished and with Kadin for not finishing his room chores. Now I am humbled and honored to just be able to talk with them.

They remind me why Jesus liked to spend his time with the children. They are profound and simple and fun.

How often do we adults just make things too difficult… to detailed… to big… to complicated. I think now all of my concerns of this life I will just take to my kids and let them answer with their perfect faith. (PS… Isabella is not here. She is on a “date” with her daddy. That makes me love him even more!)

Epiphany

Epiphany! I love Epiphany! I love to say epiphany… I love to hear my people say epiphany… I love what it means and when it is in the year.  According to Merriam-Webster, Epiphany means a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way; an intuitive grasp of reality through something usually simple and striking;  an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. I love that it is usually through something simple that God uses to illuminate new things to me. I look for epiphanies always! I started this when Mike used to prune in the orchard and his goal in this very mundane, tedious job was to think of something that he had never thought of before.  That was an epiphany to me! To intentionally think of something that I had never thought of.  Now as I get older and my kids and business take up so much of my time and energy this becomes more difficult… but I still love the idea.  I love nature and sense God’s presence more in the outdoors than anywhere else.  I can see His creativity, His humor, His forgiveness, His steadfastness in things that grow or are a natural part of our earth. I can be an epiphany just stepping outside if I am aware! I always wonder “How did I not see that before?”

At the beginning of this season we asked what we feel like God is showing each of us. What is our “epiphany” of the season. Kadin in all his 4 year old innocence says his is that God loves him. This is a child that will probably not have insecurity issues. He is a show stopper! He will be the one that “everyone likes” and will not know the wonder if he is loved. However I do pray that this is a constant epiphany to him in his life as he remembers that GOD LOVES HIM! and now he can love the world with the overflow of that love.

Quinn says that his is that God is/will help him with his schoolwork. This is exactly what he needs right now! Quinn struggles so much! His disability is called Auditory Neuropathy…where he hears things ok but it all gets jumbles when it goes to his brain. His actual ear drum is loose, not tight, so the sounds don’t even sound right. If he is sensing that God is with him in this struggle than he is far ahead in the kingdom of God!

Isabella says off handedly that God is showing her “to be happy!” My first thought is ggrrr… she didn’t even think about it! Then I read Act 13:52 and it talks of Paul and Barnabus “brimming with joy and the Holy Spirit…they were happy disciples.” WOW! This girl is powerful! She could literally boss CEOs around and yet she has made some mistakes in the past couple years that I fear she will let hold her back. And then God grabs hold of her heart and whispers to her “Be Happy! Move beyond past choices and be happy.”

Mike’s been meditating on a prayer/Psalm that says “Fight those that fight me, Attack those who attack me. Tell my soul that ‘I am’ your salvation.” He is remembering that worry and fret and stress only cause more worry, fret and stress. That God is bigger than all of this! This is his heavenly battle and Jesus is telling him “I am” and that’s all he needs.

Mine is just that life happens! Sometimes it is pretty and sometimes it isn’t but if I will have eyes to see I will see Him in every situation. I have always tried to live for Christ and I thought that I could have a perfect life. HAHA… yeah right! The only times that I have been able to minister the word of life to another is through my painful situations. HOLY MOLY! What an epiphany that was!

Basically, each of my people’s epiphanies are an epiphany to me! How great is that of God… I had 5 just thinking about this post. Plus if I am looking, I have an epiphany daily/weekly/monthly/yearly.  That is why I love this season… because it reminds me to look!

Waiting and Presents

As we have watched the kids these past weeks staring longingly at their gifts under the tree my anticipation grows as I want them to have the items we have chosen for them.  I am not only a Black Friday shopper but a Black Friday decorator too… so we gaze expectantly at those packages for a full month. Very often over this month I waned to give them their special toy or gift card or gadget… but I waited. I have come very close at times to decide to celebrate Hanukah or Tuesday or my mother in laws birthday because those all fall in the middle somewhere. Thankfully my husband is much stronger than I am or at least more sadistic as he thinks it is entertaining to watch them “suffer.” They wait with the anticipation of the gift and I wait with the anticipation of knowing the gift will be a great joy to them.

I wonder if God the Father felt that way. Knowing the world needed and desired salvation and watching them needing HIM so badly. But timing!… That is key. We mark the day on a calendar and make our kids wait in expectation that we will give them what they asked for… God waited for the perfect timing too.  His timing was written in prophecy ages earlier. HIS gift is the best gift… in the best timing…and has my name on it! and each of my loved ones and yours and anyone who says they “want” it. How crazy is that! When our 4 year old Kadin looked at our 12 year old Quinn’s gift and said “I want that!” It did not matter… he didn’t get it… didn’t even get a share.  But the gift of Jesus there is enough for us all… and it looks a bit different in my heart than in others.

This month I have been meditating on the verse in Isaiah 9:6-7… For to us a CHILD is born… he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace… the ZEAL of the Lord will accomplish this.  That’s the gift! The fierce determination of Father God wants to give me this! This BABY fulfills all these things. So badly He wants me to have this gift that He made His son the deliverer. I love a lot of people and would give my own life for many of them… but not one single person in this world would I give my son for. That’s a crazy good gift.

It was wonderful watching my family open their presents today… I hope God feels the same as we unwrap HIS glorious mysteries of Jesus.

Informal Advent

Living the Seasons of the Church is new to us.  Neither Mike nor I grew up knowing anything about Advent or its meaning.  My family had an advent calendar growing up but I just thought it was a candy countdown to presents. I still have that one… however I don’t use it any longer. I used to put a candy in it when it was just Isabella, then Quinn came along and doesn’t like a lot of candy so Isabella would eat his too. Then I just got frustrated that we had just finished our bowl of Halloween candy and this was not about candy and I didn’t like counting down to presents anyway. It seemed so hollow.

Over the past couple of years we have learned about the Seasons more. We are still newbies but love the intentionality of it. I love the history and that we are participating in something that believers have used for centuries. Mike likes the non ritualistic aspect of Advent. He is enjoying the tool of the remembering. He has always been averse to the Christmas holiday being so over rated.  We don’t have the traditional wreath with the pastel colors. We have a 5 candle stand with 4 white and 1 red. It sits on Kadins royal blue Superman cape. It reminds us not only that Jesus satisfies tradition but is constant with the times too…plus he is Superman!

Our family hasn’t been able to get the tempo of doing our readings in the morning. Our daughter leaves for school before our youngest is even up. So our daily rhythm begins with Mike taking her to the bus stop and praying with her individually.  As the boys get up, our days go many directions but we know we will be together in the evenings.

My favorite thing is the anticipation of knowing that we will sit down as a family. Just last night our big girl said “Daddy during our bible study will you rub my neck?”  Kadin our 4 year old not only lit the candle by himself at 11:00 am (I know! SCARY… we had a talk!) but also asked if we would pray for his cut finger at our night prayer time. Quinn is our most scheduled and loves that he is the candle lighter each time.

We are not rigid people. We find ritual restricting. We don’t eat at scheduled times, we don’t hardly ever show up anywhere on time, we don’t have strict timetables for work as we work for ourselves. But learning to live this season is breath to our lungs. Our family has struggled through some very hard times recently and the anticipation that tonight I will sit with my most beloved people and Jesus will be there too makes me smile.

Meet the Youngs: We are For (I mean 5) ever Young!

young2

We are the Young’s… Mike, Wendy, Isabella, Quinn and Kadin.  We are a family as defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children or a group of individuals living under one roof.  We are not biologically related but we are committed and love each other unconditionally.

We have children in each age group… mid terrible teen (did I say terrible?) who is funny and passionate and caring and creative and strong. She wants so badly to be the person God wants her to be she sometimes loses sight of the last thing she thought was so important. She loves people and has great potential to change the world!

We have middle school boy. He is quirky and silly and has a sense of justice that is out of control sometimes. He likes to correct his siblings then tell me he is just trying to do my job for me. He has some very different insights into life as he sees very simply.  Sometimes the way he says things is so very profound!

We have pre-school wild man who thinks he is a fighting ninja but likes to be called baby and drink out of sippy cups at 4 (don’t judge me! This is a battle I haven’t won yet but I am making strides! Haha).

Mike and I are along for the ride. We are both pretty easy going and laugh easily. We have been married for almost 21 years and wouldn’t trade one day! We love to try new things but like Isabella we sometimes forget what we thought was important and a necessity 5 minutes ago.

That is why we love our family devotions.  We have truly enjoyed learning the rhythms of the ancient church and love setting our evenings by our time together to read and pray. Good Dirt is our choice for these times because we love how it reminds us to take Jesus into the next day and look back over our day and intentionally see Him. Good Dirt offers us the ability to talk and pray for each other and for others. It equips us with ideas for how to live with purpose. We as a family are unwavering in our desire to glorify God. Sometimes we fail miserably and obviously but we are resolute in our togetherness.  This is our journey of family.