Producing Spiritual Fruit in Confusing Times

I went on my daily walk today and decided to invite Jesus to tag along.

I’ve had a few recent observations I wanted to share with him. Specifically, some world and cultural events that have been occurring, and I’m not so sure he’s aware of just how dire things are beginning to look.

I said to him, (I mainly talked and Jesus mainly listened)

Lord, we have become incredibly angry in our humanity. Anger spews in our small towns and cities. It bubbles beneath the surface in our homes and churches, and there is so much “holier than thou” anger on the Internet. We are angry and hateful and bored – the boredom strongly evidenced through the excessive amount of time we seem to have while investing in our anger and hatred. Refugees, abortion, celebrities, cancer, vaccinations, marriage definitions, Trump, Hillary, and what causes cancer to name a few. We have ranty, angry opinions for all of it.

One person voices one particular opinion and another voices something different, and we hurl rock upon rock from our self-righteous perches behind glaring, brightly lit screens; the hefty, tyrannical boulders falling heavy upon seemingly invisible and invincible souls. We throw until our shoulders ache and our hearts are muddied and black, and we can’t find joy in anything anymore because we’re so covered in filth.

We hurl until Stephen is finally dead beneath the weight of our words.

Words which leave in their wake little crevices of emptiness in the human spirit, and we thrive on the power we have over a person through our anger. These holes we create in people’s souls (yes, there are people behind those screens) – overflow with insecurities and pain and angst, and we find ourselves back in Eden beneath the tree of despair. Back in Eden caught once again red handed holding the forbidden and asking ourselves – Why, Oh, Why must we always return to Eden?

Jesus what do we do with all this? How do we fix it Lord? How do we fill the gaping, oozing holes that everyone has created in one another? How do we fix such an expansive brokenness?

Jesus didn’t have much to say so I slowly trudged up the last hill and veered into my husband’s garden to see if I could possibly scrounge up one or two remaining tomatoes – the delicious fruit of his labor I’ve been indulging in all summer.

The plants hung limp. Their life long gone and instead replaced with brittle branches. A few held remnants of rotten fruit, fruit which didn’t ripen in time or fruit mauled by creatures great and small (but mostly small), and it occurred to me that the answer to most of my questions is a simple, time honored truth –

We are to bear fruit.

Period.

We who walk in His footsteps and beseech His name, and bear His image, our job is to bear fruit – fruit that will be life nourishing to many in our fallen world and sometimes even life-saving for a few. Not all of us will have the best or the flashiest or the prettiest fruit to bear at the particular stage we’re at in life, but it is still our duty to give what we have – however it looks in this moment.

Wherever we are in the ripening process of our “becoming more like Him” journeys, we should offer sacrificially whatever fruit we possess to our world and to His people. He commands this of us. Offer our kindness, our patience, our steadfastness, and our faithfulness. Being good, loving, and joyful, and displaying gentleness and self – control whenever possible. Hitting the delete button when the perfect, angry barrage of words easily fires off the keyboard in response to something we don’t agree with. That’s fruit. Or displaying joy in the midst of sleep deprivation and patiently explaining to two, young kindergarteners how to do their homework – yet again. More fruit. Not fantastically impressive fruit by worldly standards but still fruit rendered in obedience to Him.

Give what fruit you have to give in this day, this hour and this moment. It’s the only moment we’re guaranteed anyway. Give your fruit, all of it, your mangled, less than perfect, not super impressive, yet full of grace, mercy, and goodness fruit that He redeemed for you at Calvary. Give it away lest it rot while you hold it firmly within your grasp.

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. Galations 5:22-23

 

Just Keep Livin!

That Time My Husband Gave Me Two Precious Hours of Freedom

I have not been without a baby for five months -since her blessed birth -unless you count the one time I went to the hair salon to try to regain my sparkle. Ryan drove me to the appointment and then ran errands with the baby, and then interrupted my 90 minutes of relaxation by bringing the screaming baby into the salon and imploring me to nurse her. I’m not complaining – just stating the facts. I have indeed created this situation because I realize that she is my last child, and most of the time I am perfectly content to shimmy about my day with her planted firmly on my hip. Most of the time.

Ryan will occasionally go fishing to get away from our mildly, stressful reality. A good reality but again, our reality. We have 8 kids. Under 13. A handicapped child and a five month old. We realize it won’t last forever; however, we do consciously look out for one another and encourage each other to destress, often, so that the other one doesn’t lose their marbles at some point on this ride.  

He often admonishes me to find something, somewhere, somehow to relieve myself of stress. He also increases the appeal level by offering to watch the baby, but I’m not great at actually taking him up on his offer. I’m a mom, and until recently I couldn’t really think of anything that wouldn’t cost me dearly and just settled for the occasional thirty minute walk or bath. A mom’s life I reasoned.

However, that started to change when Mya and I recently began crafting together. She loves to craft. I love to craft, and as she enters these more challenging years through middle and high school, I see these bonding experiences as a good way to keep the lines of communication open.

Lately she and I have been chatting about attempting to create some of those cute, glittery, baby onesies that are all the rage on Pinterest. After an intense day of pinning away yesterday, I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on how to make one of these fashionable numbers and set out to make a list of the products we would need. Granted, I could have placed yet another Amazon order, but sometimes a girl just wants to see and touch the crafty things she’s yearning to buy.

I approached my husband last night during our sacred talk time and suggested that I may have indeed found my ‘fishing’ opportunity. Our nearest Hobby Lobby is 90 miles away so that wouldn’t be ideal, but I DO have a Walmart only 30 miles from my house, and Walmart does have a decent selection of crafting supplies. It would take an hour to drive there and back, and then I would have a whole, entire hour all to myself in the crafting section at Walmart. It was a plan.

“Honey, what would you think about watching Annabelle for a few hours so that I could run to Walmart and get some crafting supplies?”

“Sure that’s fine. That’s great that you thought of something to destress. Oh, and you could pick up groceries while you’re there too.”

“No honey, that’s not destressing . That’s adding stress. I’ll have two hours tops before Annabelle will be tired again, and I’ll have to run home and nurse her to sleep because I have single handedly created this very special bonding experience with our dear 8th child.”

“Oh, okay, yeah that’ll work great. Just plan on it.”

I went to bed last night with visions of onesies and glittery fabric paint dancing in my head.

The night was kind of rough but it was all OKAY because I was going to the crafting aisle at Walmart for a whole hour all by myself (see what some of you take for granted?)  

I downed a few cups of coffee, threw my clothes on, nursed the baby, laid her down for her morning nap and told Ryan I would be back home no later than 11:30.

“Take your time!” he yelled but probably didn’t truly mean it. No man wants to be stuck with a fussy, inconsolable five month old who’s frantically mawing on his chest hairs for hours.  

I reiterated sweetly, “I’ll be home by 11:30.”

I jumped into the van, eager as could be to start my adventure. Cruising along, listening to country music, no one talking or crying or breathing. Just me. Glorious, wonderful me time, not a care in the world, la de, da, here we go, me, me, me time.

“OOOOHHHHHHH…….”

EXPLETIVE.

La de da time stopped abruptly.

Peaceful moment entirely gone up in smoke.

Bliss vaporized in one split second.

I slowly let out a breath as I saw to my horror “every mother who has one blissful hour to herself’s” nightmare.

Blue and red flashing lights.

I was the only vehicle in sight.

I admittedly get frantic in these situations.

I am true blue, first born, type A through and through. Recovering Type A but all the same. Authority scares me. This young highway trooper was probably all of twenty years old, and I was scared of him. I panicked and got fidgety. I rolled down the window, and as he approached, undid my seat belt. I have no idea why I did this, but it seemed like the thing to do at the time. As soon as I made that motion he began looking intently and suspiciously into the 15 passenger vehicle I was driving. Looking for escaped convicts, drug paraphernalia, I’m not sure. All he was going to see was a whole lot of Halloween candy wrappers. And maybe a stroller or two.

“Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?”

“No Sir.”

“You were going _____ in a 55 mph speed zone.”

(I’m not going to tell you how fast I was going because it’s so mortifying)

(In my head I was thinking, “Are there still 55 mph speed zones in America?!”)

Outside of my head, “Sorry officer”

Hoping, praying, that my manners would get me just a little bit off the hook.

They did not.

He returned 15 minutes later (15 precious minutes out of my mom destress day) with a big pink citation and the admonishment to “be careful.”

I continued on my not so merry way to Walmart, ever so carefully and slowly, never once passing above the sacred 55 mph marker. Upon reaching my destination, I sent Ryan a hurried text to tell him what had happened. He joked that there went my clothes fund. I not so jokingly replied that it was more like my bath tub fund.

Walmart had way less selection than I had last remembered, and I’ve decided that I don’t so much mind my current situation – being a recluse, with my baby girl, and joyfully anticipating all of the glorious packages that arrive on a weekly basis through my mailbox.

No more outrageously expensive trips to Walmart.

Back to kitchen talk next week

Just keep livin!!