Across the table from that guy.

beautiful christmas table setting
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Today I thought about heaven again. Most of the time when I dream of heaven I dream of a perfectly temperate place full of perfect flora and fauna perfumed with lilac and the occasional whiff of apple pie. I’ve never imagined inheriting a mansion. A cozy cottage happily situated in a wood is more my speed.

But today as I dreamed of the peace place promised to me, I imagined a banquet table loaded with delights like the world has never seen.  Those seated at the table surprised me, and I questioned my thought as one often questions how much grace God can offer sinners who don’t sin exactly like you do. I laughed at my own imagination.  Seated around the feast were the warring politicians of today all smiling and peaceful passing potatoes and the like. Right, Lord. Like those two would be at the same place enjoying each other’s company, here, in heaven. Right. Surely they are stopping that guy at the gate.

As I looked around the table I noted how each guest was a scoundrel while on earth; not one pure heart was represented among the lot.

Then I realized that I was sitting right there with them sharing turkey with the villains.

As I focused in on another face, it was someone who had deeply wounded me in the past. I’ve struggled to forgive this person. Forgiveness is work for some of us. Grudges are easy. But there he was, my adversary, enjoying the ambrosial banquet.

My adversary in heaven was stripped of his failures. His mistakes were no longer visible to my eyes. He was there, as was I, in perfect form whittled down to whom the Savior intended us to be, all love, all joy. And I loved him. And I knew God loved him. And I was humbled.

Back here on earth we have our separate corners. We have our own parties, our own people, our colors, our flags, our precious opinions and hills we die upon. But in the great beyond, there are no corners. There is one shared table, one shared Savior. Will we sit down with those who we’ve hated? Will we share dinner rolls with our murderers? I believe that is more our choice today than theirs.

In heaven, a perfectly normal scene could be an abortionist seated with the man who blew up the clinic.

In heaven, a Nazi sits comfortably with a Jew.

In heaven, your party is nothing. Your Savior is everything.

In heaven, the abusers and the abused share in the same divine helping of grace and a heaping dollop of mercy.

In heaven, forgiveness melts what tore us apart. Oh, how I wish we could share in that banquet now, where all is peace and joy and love. And I suppose if we cannot come to terms to eating with the villains and the saints, then we have another choice altogether.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14

Just a little yeast…

I heard from God today.  I’m often so entrenched in my own selfish bubble that I miss some really sweet messages of comfort. Today I got it. I hear you, Lord. Thank you. And, man, did I need it! Right on time, as usual.

pexels-photo.jpg

It goes without saying that raising children in the faith today feels impossible. From every direction my kids’ heads are turned away from the path of the cross. For the most part, Hollywood mocks morality as well as the authority of parenthood. Unfortunately, my kids witness Hollywood on every screen in their life from their pockets to the theater. Politicians cheapen Jesus using him a vote manipulator. Churches struggle with entertaining or emoting my kids into belief. Our school teachers, while I know they believe, are limited in everything they say and do. My children’s best friends in school are not believers. From every angle, a walk in faith for my children is often lonely and confusing.

I am burdened by this. My heart aches thinking about it, primarily because I know that the two people at the helm of this family ship are so very faulty. Dave and I try hard to be good examples for the kids, but we fail. Daily, we fail.

My kids sit in a front row seat at my sin showcase.

Time is so precious, and I have so little of it. Getting in bedtime prayers and attempting spiritual conversations at our twice a week family dinner are generally our biggest opportunities for spiritual connection with the kids. The older they get the more difficult it is to find the time to ask them probing questions and get into faith discussions. And every year that has gone by has stolen one more family meal time. Instead, we shuttle people to rehearsals, practices, lessons, and meetings and talk in the car.  The car is a great chance to try to get into their heads, but it too, is so minimal. Time never stops, but we refuse to let time steal every opportunity from us.

God knows that my heart is heavy with the burden of sharing my faith with my children and today I saw this…

“He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like a little leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” ~Matthew 13:33

I have three children.  I recognize that biblical translations of this particular verse vary in the interpretation of the “three measures of flour”. And I’m not going to attempt a huge theological exposition on this tiny parable. Nevertheless, for me and my heart, what I read in these few words was the encouragement that my best efforts to work the word of Christ into the hearts of my three children won’t be all in vain. Small dividends will pay off. What God spoke to my heart today is that regardless of limited time and my giant glaring inadequacies, Christ uses my efforts to reveal Himself to my children. My limited and fallible attempts at sharing Jesus will result in growth. Thanks be to God!
Be comforted, parents. There is hope in Christ.  Our attempts to share Jesus with our kids can pay off big, not because of us; rather, in spite of us.

the Choice.

it’s your choice.

the path, you complain, is hard
too rocky, steep to climb

the path, you see, is winding
yet, you miss all the signs

you’re lost inside your whining
lost within your head

you only see the struggle
the sick, the mess, the dead

you miss the joy around you
you miss the laughter shared

you miss the hope above you
trapped within your snare

the choice to see the blessing
the choice to see the good

is lost within complaining
is lost within what “could”

but life is never easy
it’s a matter of our view

life will bring the darkness
light comes from within you

it’s your choice.pexels-photo-66100.jpeg

the last run.

Caryn Blanchard Blog

e41a152e18df4fdea70ade3b8b78e9b7When I close my eyes
after all final goodbyes
i’ll eagerly expect my new view.

I’ll open my eyes
and quickly arise
dismiss all that’s behind and run to you.

You’ll open your arms
erase all that brought harm
then greet me in a land of clear skies.

I’ll at last see your face
as we celebrate grace
and recall all adventures gone by

You’ll introduce me to friends
the day will ne’er end
as eternity bursts forth from short life.

I’ll rejoice in a reward
that i never earned
and clutch hands with a friend who knew strife.

For all that was toil
the heartbreaks of poor soil
matters never again when i run to you.

When all wrong in me is gone.
and we sing a new song
As my final run embraces your truth.

-CB

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Ripples

Ripples Lake Clouds Mountains Mist Trees Shore Free Wallpapers
Ripples Lake Clouds Mountains Mist Trees Shore Free Wallpapers

I stood beside a quiet lake with the Lord.
I asked Him what purpose my life holds.
He smiled at me and looked down.
He chose a stone and threw it into the middle of the lake.

The circles started small.
They grew.
They multiplied.
Until the waves kissed the shore at every edge.

“I see, Lord.” I replied.
“You want me to be the lake and feed the forest around me.”
“You want me to nurture any living being I can.”
“You want me to supply every need to this forest of trees.”

He responded with a simple shake of his head and smiled.
“No, child. I want you to be the rock.
Your life is but a vapor, a small moment in time.
You are the rock, but your life will create waves of change.”

How He Came.

baby-jesus-sleepingThrough the labor cry of a teenage girl, this is how He came.
Tiny babe, red fingers curled, this is how He came.

In stillness of a lonely night, this is how He came.
Under only candlelight, this is how He came.

No throne, no royal story, this is how He came.
No nursemaid, no earthly glory, this is how He came.

Angelic choir, shepherds’ joy, this is how He came.
God Creator, fragile boy, this is how He came.

How He came!
How He came!
Let the whole earth see how He came!

History changer, heart transformer, this is how He came.
Dismissing wealthy and political charmers, this is how He came.

Kings question his royalty, this is how He came?
Pharisees question His deity, this is how He came?

Wise men sought the Story, this IS how He came!
Faithful men see Him in glory, this is how He came.

Knight without armor, His word a sword, this is how He came.
Humble status but still The LORD, this is how He came.

How He came!
How He came!
Let the whole earth see how He came!

Today

I have gay friends whom I love.
I have family who voted for Trump.
I have family who voted for Hillary.
I have pro-life friends and pro-choice friends.
I have atheist family and Christian family.
I have Muslim and Buddhist friends.
I have Hispanic loved ones, some who are undocumented members of this society with American children.
I have friends of all colors and some who dye their hair green.
I have military men and women in my family.
I have pacifists in my family.

Today. Today I feel torn in half.

I feel and see pain everywhere.
I read words that should never be written.
I see sights that I’ll hide from my children.
I hear good people saying hate-filled things.
in their rage,
in their mourning,
in their triumph,
in their pride.

Today. Today feels like my parents are divorcing and I must choose sides.

And I won’t. Because I love you all.

At any given moment some of you would hate me, it would seem, because of my associations. Hate me for not choosing a side. Hate me because I’m a believer. Hate me for having certain friends. Hate me for not picking a team.

And I won’t. Because I love you all.

As always, the only side I stand on is love. The only theme of my life that I want to wear is love. The only association, the only fraternity, the only pledge, the only offering I have is to love. Love you all.

Today if you are emboldened to hate. You have already lost the battle.

Today if you are paralyzed by fear and hopelessness, you are turning your back on the great provider and His plan.

Today if you are sad, I understand.
Today if you are rejoicing, I get it.

Please don’t forget. Your actions today, your words today, impact tomorrow. And there will be a tomorrow.

Don’t let today wound tomorrow.

Let love be in your words even in your pain. Let love be in your actions… always.

Let your love today start the process of healing.

The Woman in the Mirror

mirrorA middle-aged woman stood in front of her mirror one evening before bed. She was saddened by her reflection and thought back to her younger days. Suddenly, in the mirror she could see her Lord standing behind her, yet when she turned around she could not see him. They began to talk. Looking at her reflection she sighed and said,

“I’m getting wrinkles, Lord.”
He replied, “You are growing in wisdom.

“I’m so tired.”
In me you will find rest.

“I’m not as pretty as I once was.”
To me, you are my perfect work of art. You are special and one of a kind.

“I’ve gained weight.”
I’ve always provided.”

“I lost my job today.”
I won’t stop providing.

“People confuse me, and I’ve lost a lot of friendships over the years.”
I’ll never leave you. My commitment is unending.

“I’m not sure my children even love me.”
I’m not sure my children love me either. I love you.

“I’m scared sometimes when I’m alone.”
You are never alone. I’m here.”

“You are good, Lord.”
Thanks, for saying so.

With that, the woman smiled at her reflection, took a deep breath, and went to bed.

-CB

Focused Fruit Prayer

fruitGracious Father, we want everyone to join you above;
Help us demonstrate to all your enduring love.
In good times and bad, whatever life employs,
Ignite us to light this dark world with constant joy.
Lord, give us the courage to be your mouthpiece.
Let us wage wars with love and aim only for peace.
Seeing each person as your precious creation,
We strive to respond to all with long-suffering and patience.
Sadly, we often suffer from selective blindness.
Guide us to those who desperately need our kindness.
The world examines us searching for contented fullness.
Let our lives and homes be solely adorned with goodness.
Even on days when our sins must be confessed,
Grant us perseverance to live a life of faithfulness.
The world be it broken and its people tremulous.
Allow us to reach them with truth and gentleness.
And finally, Lord, because we owe you our souls,
We willingly sacrifice ourselves and instead be self-controlled.

in Jesus name,

Amen.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. –Galatians 5:22-23

photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/darren-williams/3668135143