Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Is For The Weary

Christmas Is For The Weary
Are you afflicted this hour, among the carols so bright?
Among the songs and cheerful hearts, does your soul feel like the night?
That quiet cloud of loneliness, can hover just above, 
and cover up your eyes to God's unrelenting love.
Has the cup of sorrow spilled too much and seem to great to bear? 
Has sadness crept in like a thief, stealing evidence of His care?
Oh look, look above the clouds and sadness and see. 
Here comes the babe who came to feel just like you and me. 
Fully God and fully man who came to take our shame.
A sweet baby who would soon bear "man of sorrows" as his name.
He would grow up from his manger to a cross and die alone.
He would raise up from that grave and Gods love would be fully shown.
Christmas is for the weary, see him become weary too?
God crawled down from the purest heaven, to die for me and you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Family Flu Is About God

opened my eyes and blinked a few times. Was she really awake? Was I just hearing her cry in my dream? Am I still asleep? I was stuck in the mommy fog: when you're wondering which land you're in, the sleep one or the awake one. The monitor crackled and gave its normal feedback, then I heard it loud and clear. “Mommy, mommy? Mommmiiieeee!”

After trying to rock Adley back to sleep, I finally brought her into our bed. She nuzzled up to me and I smiled. I was sleepy but I always like any alone time I can get with one of the kids, especially if I can sleep at the same time. But then came the gagging.
“Oh it’s okay sweetie,” I said as I sat up.
Gag, gag, I could hear the liquid making its way up.
“Alright, alright, alright,” I always say this gently to the kids when I don't want them to see me panic on the inside.


After wiping off a few places. I laid back down and Adley was ready to close her eyes and sleep.
Then I heard another monitor.


Little Ernie couldn't go back to sleep, I brought him in on the couch in our room. I kissed him and began to walk back to bed and then I heard the gagging.

“Ernie? Sweetie, are you okay?”

Up came the chunks. Twice, actually. My poor boy is only 3, throwing up is so confusing and terrifying. I still feel this way and I'm 28. I cleaned him up, laid him down and told him that mommy cries when she throws up too. 

When my husband woke up with the flu also, items were soaked in puke, and our washer stopped working, I had to take a second. I locked myself in the bathroom to see if God had something to say at this point. 

I felt like Moses before a burning bush, called The Flu, and God was telling me to take on the task of caring for his sick people in my house. By myself. And I was saying “oh, I can’t do that.”
“I will be with you.” I remembered he told Moses.
“But, I didn't sleep last night. The washer doesn't work. There will be more puke. I can't do this!” I walked out of the bathroom with about as much faith as Moses started out with. 

I really felt this was all about me. Of course this would happen to a mom, I had thought, caged in by the sickness around her and bouncing around from person to person, changing her clothes after getting thrown up on and tossing them in the “we will wash these when the washer works” pile, and trying to entertain the other kids that are healthy and going stir crazy. 

I was acting like I had been dealt a bad hand, like my life was a game of cards and this week was just not my week. But God is gracious as always, and revealed to me what flu week is all about.
And I can tell you, that whole week brought more vomit, the virus finally took over me too, but God was with me.

The Lord brought us very low in weakness to show us that he's the one who cares for our family. He's the one who brings the sickness and he's the one who allows it to leave. He brings it in the middle of the night or at nap time. He can allow sickness to stay for a week or 24 hours. 

During a family flu, his goodness and mercy are still following us all the days of our life. Our flesh is failing during sickness, but He is our strength and our portion forever, and that is what helps us get up and clean off our sick child. The Lord being our strength, trusting his care in allowing the flu, gives us the hope to make it through a very long day. And when another member of the family announces that their tummy hurts, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be your strength to run them to the toilet in time, or not in time.  And the hope of Heaven where sin and  sickness will one day be no more, will help you get through the moments of mopping the floors, or scrubbing the carpets . 

As the season of much sickness sticks with us and invades our homes, remember Who allows the sickness and that he's the strength and hope for those who trust in His Son. 

Now I'm off to drink some Emergan-c. Cheers.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Coming Jesus

For the Christian, God always hands us things that are good and grow us to look like Jesus, God’s own greatest treasure. These things he hands us for our good can be both joyful and painful. God is doing a secret work in the hidden places of our heart that we cannot always see, those secrets belong to Him. As he's working, we may be experiencing confusion, frustration, and crying out, "How long, Oh Lord?" All the while, he sees the big picture, he sees the day of Christ's return in full view. He loves to move in such a way that all of his work will bring honor and glory to his Son on that day, when our joy will be unimaginable.

You and I aren't God. We can't simply look up and see the day when Jesus removes all tears and sorrows and think "oh yes, we are almost there." We walk by faith, not by sight. We walk by faith in the One who can see the hidden places, the coming glory, and the end of all suffering when he reveals how he points us to Jesus. And we trust him when he hands us a disease, a longing for change, a difficult job, a child with special needs, a death of of someone we love, long hard days as a parent, a difficult spouse, lack of a spouse, lower income, and the list could continue. But he doesn’t uncaringly toss these trials at us. He gently lays them down for us to have with the same goal in mind, pointing to the coming Jesus.

What is he doing? To us, our circumstance or perhaps the unknown future may be too much to bear. But to God, who holds all things together, he sees this as handing us priceless gifts, these trials, and in doing so, he points ahead for us, "Look! See!" And with our dimmed view, the road seems so long to us. "I don't know much longer I can do this." We often say. "This season is so long." We hear each other cry. "I have had enough!" We may utter in anger.

Does the Lord eliminate us from the earth for this lack of faith? No! He crushed his own Son on the cross so that he can cry "Look! Look ahead!" as long as we live. "Lift your eyes to where you help comes from!" He encourages us. "The day is coming that only I can see! Your sorrow is nothing compared to the joy I know will soon arrive! It’s worth it! It’s worth it! Get up!” And we gather our treasure that he promises to be good for us, and we keep walking. Though the pain and weariness may linger, we hear him say that there's a day when pain will be washed away. Not through medicine, sleep, treatment, or money, but with his very own hands. Today may not be the day, but there is a promised day coming.

If you, Christian, have forgotten that your circumstance is a treasure, remember that it’s pointing you towards your prize, Jesus.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.”

1 Peter 1:1-8

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Frenzy Of Requests

"Mom, when is snack?"
"Mommy, will you hold me?"
"Mommy, can I watch a show?"
"Mommy, will you help me?"
"Mommy, I'm done" (they echo from the toilet)
"Mommy, will you get my water?"
"Mommieeee she's hitting me!"
"Mommy, I dropped my car, will you get it?"
"Oh mommy, you forgot to cut my sandwich."
"Mommy? Can I get up now? Mommy?"

Somedays I lock myself in our guest room when the kids aren't looking, and I'll slowly slide to the floor and rest my head against the door. 

While I'm sneaking away, I'll recall the days I so desperately wanted a home full of loud, busy kids. I remember weeping because it was so quiet, and my sweet newborn was not with us to fill our house with cries for our help. I remember the quiet and how it was sometimes so unbearable that it was the very thing that led me to Jesus. I remember the pleas for help to not lose the hope that I knew was mine in Christ. 

Before I unlock the door to face the requests of my kiddos again, I'll remember when I was without them.

I guess I didn't realize how God would answer my cries. I know he answered them in the moment, filling me with hope from the Spirit and comforting me in my sorrow. But he also answered them by giving us four more children who are full of things to say, things they need and questions they have.

My heart longed for these things but my mind and body are also weak so I get weary of these requests I longed for. I'm tired, quickly angered and asking them to take breaks from their requests.

But most times my voice isn't showing patience when I ask them to put a cap on their requests.

So of course, the Spirit is doing his work and showing me how the Lord has already done this perfectly for me and that I am weak and need his help. But what does my children's questions have to do with the Lord?

God has asked his own children in Philippians 4:6 to make their requests known to him. And he has way more than a few kids. His children are everywhere around the globe, and he invites them to be making their requests known at every hour they need. He tells them not to be anxious and try to deal with their anxiety alone but to tell him and bring their questions and their need. 

I realized that I am reflecting God's patience and love by having an ear for my children's requests. I can help them in showing them how to ask and teach them self control, but also bear with their questions and needs. We have a Father who listens and asks us to make our requests known, and I think my kids can know Jesus in a really special and unique way when I also hear them and make our home a safe place for their curious and needy hearts. 

I'm hoping that if I'm patient with their requests and listen with a loving ear, that they will one day feel the freedom to bring their needy hearts to the throne of Jesus.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My Mom Who Planted Seeds

When I think of someone who is dedicated to loving her family and being sacrificial with time, I think of my mother. As she raised me to love Jesus and love people, she had no idea what she was getting herself into once I got married and we started our own family.
My mother loved me growing up in ways that have effected me forever. She patiently walked through my difficult stages of childhood, not giving up on me and always helping me to honor the Lord in all that I do. When I was very young, my mom was very consistent in helping me see that God put her and my dad in charge, and that led to my understanding of God being in charge of all things in my life and that he works all things together for the good of those who love him. 
All that training to love Jesus and love people gave way to me loving orphans. Now, she's a grandma to several grandchildren, and two of them are adopted by the grace of God.
Now, as I have kids of my own, my mom has served me in ways that still blow my mind. She lives out the truth that all time belongs to God, even if that means dropping her giant to-do list to come watch kids for me to go to the doctor. ( or help me with bedtime, or the afternoon tantrums, or when I'm sick, or when the kids are sick or....everything!) 
 Give this woman a Diet Coke and she's ready to take on anything.
My mom showed me that all the hard work of motherhood is worth the waiting. Planting seeds and trusting God is what he calls us to. Thank you mom for loving me! I am so grateful for you!

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Adley Louise Turns One

 Adley, I am not ready for this year to be done. You are my precious baby tied to my hip as I go about my days in this home. From coloring time, outside time, lunch and snack time, dinner time and chasing and rounding up your siblings time, you are always with me. These days are coming to a close. It's hard to look ahead and wait for more good things from God when it's so difficult to let these baby days go.

It's been a whole year of learning how to do life with four, and the Lord couldn't have given us a sweeter treasure than you to walk through this season. You love on your mommy and daddy, especially your daddy. So much love gets saved and bottled up and explodes when daddy comes home. You love your siblings more than we could have imagined. Each one of them is a hero to you and you want to be just like them. We know you're so anxious to run with them.

I love you my sweet girl. You are a deep joy to me. I have so much anticipation for what God has for your days, and I am so thankful to be a part of them. Happy Birthday, with all my love.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What Our Days Are Made Of

"Hi, yes, I need to make arrangements for a funeral. It will be a service for my grandson."

I was making coffee when I heard it. I'll never forget it. I gasped, my knees buckled and I walked towards my bedroom in desperation to be alone to cry. My mom was caring for me by planning the funeral so that I wouldn't have to; a funeral for my son. Haddon was not only our son, but her grandson, it was a loss not only for Ernie and I, but both of our families.

This moment for me was four years ago. Haddon would be a preschooler if the Lord would have kept him alive on earth. Ernie and I have been talking together about how four years feels.
I have many struggles with walking through another year without him. Maybe you also have felt the ache of waiting, yet also having to trust the Lord who gives and takes away.

Four years feels deeper
I don't make it to Haddon's grave often; and it's because I'm busy with good things from the Lord. I did, however, go a couple months ago. The loss felt deeper and the sorrow came as I stood over his gravestone that read: Jesus lives and so shall I, when he returns with Him I'll rise.
I longed for Jesus to return that day and raise this boy of mine so I could embrace him once more.  I know a day is coming when my arms will wrap around him and Jesus will wipe away the final tears from my eyes.
I stood over his grave and felt the affection for him as his mother in a deeper way. The Lord is teaching me and growing me in how to mother my children, which gives me more joy and new desires to love them and care for them, and for me this extends to Haddon, some how. I felt deeper love for him and longed to care for him once again.

The waiting feels harder
Ernie and I were ready for the return of Jesus when we rested Haddon in his grave. The New Heavens and New Earth felt so near to us; and really, they still are. Life is a vapor and eternity will never end. But four years here has started to feel long. I don't want to be 70 years old and visiting his grave, with a mind that will surely forget all the details of my sweet time with him. I want Christ to return soon, so this grief is only but a few short years. We believe God's plans are good for us, but the waiting has become difficult.

God is working in us and our joy is increasing and at the same time our sorrow remains. The truths from this passage are a clear picture of what our hearts feel:

[We live as] sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. 2 Corinthians 6:10

We are sad today, and we will be sad tomorrow. The sorrow we carry will be with us as long as we live. Do you feel this too? But the promise for Christians is that we will never have to carry sorrow without the hope of Christ. Jesus suffered and was crushed so that our earthly sorrow does not have to crush us. He allows deep waters and waves of grief but they will not drown us. We may be 70 years old, our eyes wasting away from grief as we stand over the graves of our sons and daughters, or wading through waters of other deep sorrows that threaten to steal our hope.
We can rejoice in our sorrow. We can't rejoice on our own (I have cried the ugly cries, have you?). The Spirit will lift our eyes to thank God that this loss is not where our hope dies , and that the death and resurrection of Jesus is the steady heartbeat of our sad but hopeful hearts. The Christian hope continues living because it's root is a living Savior.

Sorrow and hope, these are what our days are made of in our family. We miss our boy, yet God has not withheld goodness from us.  We will walk through our years with the hope of Christ while we wait for the day that sorrows will be no more.

Happy 4th birthday to my precious son Haddon Brooks Blanco.
I wouldn't for a second trade your joy with Christ for a cake mix and birthday candles today, but I do miss you and my heart aches to see you.
With all my love, Mom

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Lord Is Communing Mith Me In The Murky Lake

I fed Adley for the last time before going to sleep, hoping she'd allow me to get at least a good cat nap before she needed me again, but I think a cat would have slept better than me. Adley woke up at midnight, 2:15 and 4:45. After the last feeding, I gently laid her back down, and then my 5am alarm went off. I pushed the snooze button and started to walk back to bed. I stood at the doorway, very tempted to lay back on that pillow. I knew things ran much smoother when I got up before the children, but I was also exhausted. I gave it another minute of thought, then prayed for help and walked downstairs to start the blessed coffee.

As I poured the coffee into the cup, I poured all my trust in there with it. "As long as I get a few cups of in, I can gather myself and be patient with the children today."

 I didn't fully realize I had directed this thought towards an unknown pagan god of coffee as I sat down on the couch to pray to the one true Living God and read his word, (thank God for his patience).

I opened my Bible, and began to read a little with tired eyes. I was just making my way into a passage and ready to gain strength for the day when the baby monitor crackled. Sure enough, Adley began to cry. I waited, and waited, but she did not stop. Before I made the climb up the stairs, my head fell into my hands and I prayed one last prayer before my time alone was done:
"Lord, I tried. I want to rise early and meet with you before my day begins. I want to hear from you and read and pray before my kids wake up. I have done everything I can to make this happen, and yet you have allowed my baby to wake again and it has interuppted my time with you. It's your power that causes them sleep and to awaken them, so why right now? How am I supposed to commune with you in this long season of busy life?"
I lifted my head, feeling more tired than before. The other monitor lit up as a voice loudly cried.
"Mommy I have to poo poo!"

This is a picture of what my nights and the early hours of the morning can look like for me. For a long time I have struggled with joy and thankfulness that God calls me to as his child. I love my children tremendously, they are deeply precious to me. But what I struggled with is feeling (rather believing the lie) that God cuts me short in my time with him, or for some reason it seems he doesn't provide the time. I believed that my only time to hear from God and receive help and wisdom was before my children woke up. I thought my only hope for being kind and patient with my children was if I had read my Bible, put the dishes away and put some kind of order to our downstairs before they came down.  And if none of these were able to happen? You could just forget any kindness and gentleness (or any fruits of the spirit really) from me.

But over the last month The Lord has revealed all the ugly that has been going on in my heart. It sounds strange, especially after reading this, how obvious it should all seem, but I was blind to how much I really have been relying on my own strength to do what God has called me to do.

When I read Colossians 3 and how God calls us to walk and talk like a child of God with patience and gentleness and to be thankful, I don't have to feel burdened. I used to, but God is rescuing me. Because if I read the chapter before, I'll find Colossians  2:14 tells me that God has canceled the record of debt I owe by nailing it to the cross of his Son. And even further back in Colossians 1: 20 we are told that Christ's work on the cross not only cancels the debt we owe for sin, but then he also presents us holy and blameless before God. So God isn't holding a record against me of all the times I have failed with my children (or put my trust in the pagan god of coffee), he's erased it and is conforming me into the image of his Son, so I am free to pursue gentleness and patience with my kids and start over in repentance again and again, not burdened to pursue it, but free.

While rising early before the children is still my goal each day, God has shown me that it's not where my hope lies, and it's not the only time he wants to commune with me. It's not only the quiet, alone times he wants to talk to me, make me like Jesus, and bring to mind his Word so that I might fight sin. He isn't just the God of help for early morning times of trouble, but the God who is our very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1).
I have found that it's also in the moments when the baby rises early that the Spirit asks me: Now, will you trust that The Lord will sustain you even if your plans did not pan out? Will you trust he's making you look more like Jesus by sacrificing your time alone to care for these children? Will trust that you can still obey and walk in patience even without the planned time of reading? Yes, it's those times I can serve The Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2)

I have found that God is making me more like his Son and communing with me not just before my kids refuse to listen, but when I'm actually swimming IN the pool (or is it more like a dirty, murky lake?) of disobedience from them, and they have fought hard against my instruction for hours, and I have done everything in my power to warn them: "Listen to me! We don't have to drown today! Listen to my instruction! Listen quickly!" It's in those waters God has shown me 2 Thessalonians 3:5-

"May God direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ."

That has been a life-giving verse for me when I feel I'm drowning in the murky lake of disobedience inside the walls of my house, alone, when no one else can see but The Lord. And that verse quickly helps me fight in two ways: 1. The Lord loves both my children and me deeply, so my heart can quickly reach for thankfulness. 2. Jesus is steadfast and never runs out of patience and love towards those laid down his life for.

So I don't have to throw in the towel, because Jesus never does.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Turning 30

My husband turned 30 on January 10th. He struggled inwardly...something about that number was a drastic change for him. I'd say "Oh honey, 30 isn't even close to old yet. Not even a little bit. Embrace your youth for it still remains!"

But you know what? Here I am, sitting home alone, and it dawns on me that I will be turning 28 this year. I start to feel uneasy. First of all, it's quiet around here tonight, and when it's quiet here....well of course any particular strangeness can set in. But for me, it suddenly felt scary to be standing this close to 30.

I asked myself, Lisa, what could be your reason behind the fear? I mean, certainly you have many friends in their 30s, and some even run marathons, some continue to grow their families and just ooz with energy. Then I remembered that I had to question the state of my joints and muscles the other day at the thought of jumping on a trampoline and I thought, how is it I'm trying to even find solace in my friends who run marathons?! I'm questioning my age to even jump on a trampoline!

So I needed to back up, this whole marathon was just me getting distracted (thanks to my friends who are just laughing at my inability to run). What's so hard about leaving our twenties? Could it be...and then I had an idea. I know what it is. Something about turning 30 means you have this pressure of really being responsible and having your priorities completely lined up. Laughter.
This reminds me that I burn meals all the time, and that by the time I reach 30 that should not happen anymore. Like you're supposed to spend your 20s learning how to not burn food, and if that's true then I have two years to get it right. Two more years, then the bottom of the pot of chili should not be black. I cannot pretend that my meal is a 'smoky flavored meal' while trying to conceal the burned chicken. I cannot have a stack of darkened tortillas while I convince myself "this time I will NOT forget to flip this one and it will be beautifully cooked on both sides." I'm 30 now! I learned in my 20s how to cook meals! Right? Last week was the last pot of burnt chili?

Responsibility. 40 is the age we begin to truly feel old, but 30 is the responsibility pressure. I should add that I turned on the computer to meal plan for groceries tomorrow (oh, food again, I'm not planning chili) and I was completely sidetracked by my thoughts on turning 30. Responsibility at it's finest.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

"Hello? You want to see my daddy?"

Today I was observing our Judson, who was diving into the world of make-believe, a not too common thing for him just yet. Judson is very much into sports, running, taking things apart (maybe that's a nice way of saying breaking) and will one day surely bring forth some unique gifts for the Lord from all these rough and tough things. "I beak this" he says often, which means, "I broke this." Oh Lord, use the breaking skills for your glory one day. Somehow!

But today he quietly sat our side table, picked up his pretend phone as his little mind heard an imaginary phone call for his father:

"Hello? Yes? You want to see my daddy? Mhm. Yes. MY daddy. Ya. Mhm. yeah, yep. Ok, bye."

My heart paused for a moment. Here's a boy who has known Ernie for less than two years, and he has proudly claimed him his forever daddy. God was gracious even as he was passed around a bit between family and homes. God was gracious during a time of frustration and anger in his soul that was so young. I have tried to imagine what life must have been for him between birth and nearly 2, and I have cried.

Yet God brought Ernie Blanco into Judson's life, a man whom God would use to transform what it means to be "daddy" and to give him direction in the good days and hard, trial-filled days. Ernie would be the daddy to stand at the door to welcome Judson back from somewhat painful and confusing parent visits, and the daddy who would make him his own forever and would point him to how our Heavenly Father makes us his own forever, through Jesus.

We are so grateful Judson is our son. I'm so grateful Ernie is his daddy.