Favorite Things: I Thought I Was Strong Edition

I grew up thinking I was strong. Like physically strong. Today I work out and run and am intentional about physical activity. This was not always the case. I didn’t work out, I wasn’t in sports and other than carrying around my cousins and playing outside, I wasn’t so much focused on physical activity. But I thought I was strong.

It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to hear the request but it was always funniest on the rare moment when my cousin Rhonda wasn’t at home. That was when Matt decided to move furniture around. Not just around, sometimes it was move it from the basement. I remember this one time with this grandfather clock. Matt would yell, “hey girls, come help me move this” and without even thinking what we were moving, or if we thought we could, we jumped in. We were helpful.

I thought I was strong.

I really wasn’t but you couldn’t convince me otherwise. For starters, Matt asked for our help so of course he thought we could do it and that was reason enough to pitch in and pick a corner.

On the count of 3, and go. And we did.

Now as an adult, I realize why I thought I was strong.  Matt was carrying the great majority of the weight. I never stood a chance with that grandfather clock. I never felt the full brunt of what I was helping with. I only knew my corner or my side, but to be fair, I wasn’t carrying my fair share. At the time I thought I was being really helpful. I was probably more leverage than anything but I thought I was a part and I was convinced that the role I played mattered in the grand scheme of carrying that grandfather clock up those stairs.

I look back and laugh at just how confident I was in my ability. I don’t hate it. I hope my kids feel the same way.

As the calendar got closer and closer to Caleb’s Cup this past year, I kept coming back to this silly image over and over again. Those basement steps, that giant clock, those girls who were helping and the guy at the bottom of the steps who told them that they could. He was carrying more than those girls knew but those girls knew they were doing something important.

The more I thought on it, the more God showed me.

I saw Matt and Rhonda and the rest of my family carrying the grandfather clock of grief and vision and heart and determination but much like me as a teenager, they wouldn’t know the full weight of what they were carrying. Since Caleb died, they have carried a lot. They have walked through their own pain but it became much more than that. They have loved others in their own losses and pain and have stood in the gap to make sure their story isn’t repeated. They love in ways that point me back to that grandfather clock. The full weight is too much to bear but yet somehow, up the stairs they go.

I see that grandfather clock being a lot of different things. It can be pain, it can be purpose. It can be any number of things.

Our obedience to carry our corner of the clock, our trusting in who has the base at the bottom of the steps and won’t let the weight crush us and our joy in being called into something bigger than us.

I don’t know what your clock is but I am recently reminded in a fresh way of how I am carrying it, the joy of the journey and looking back and realizing I never understood the full weight of what I was carrying because God the who calls me to it knows the part he has given me the strength to carry and calls me forward.

Favorite Things Monday: The Prodigal and the Other Son Edition

The story of the prodigal son is a pretty familiar passage of scripture. It’s quite possible to have never read the bible and still be familiar with the overall theme of this story.

You can read the full passage in Luke 15. A very quick summary is that a man has two sons. One asks for his inheritance, leaves home, squanders his inheritance and hits rock bottom. The son decides to return to his father, comes up with an “I’m not worthy plan” in attempt to fill his belly. It goes far better than expected. The father runs to his son and embraces him and throws him a party.

I know, there are two sons. I have decided that you are at some point in your life one of if not both sons in this story.

The other son stays with the father and when his obnoxious brother returns empty handed, he gets mad at the love and grace shown to his brother and throws a pity party (I don’t blame him for that).

The Father’s actions show both sons love and grace and mercy. The Father shows both sons that their standing as his children has not been affected by their dumb choices. While reading the passage, it seems that the wild son that left and lost everything was the “worse” brother. It’s more obvious but the more I look at it, we are pretty even stevens here. Both were misguided and distracted. Both had taken their eyes off their identity. Both were shown grace and mercy by a father who loved them both best.

How am I like the brother who stayed? Amazing how a message where my husband handed out sticks to everyone in the church, pinpoint an area in your (my) life where you are the other son… (how do you get the Prodigal Son out of Exodus…listen here).

When my cynicism gets the best of me: I don’t want to talk about it but I have to. My cynicism makes me the other son. Every time.

When my judgement makes me feel superior instead of heartbroken: Do I want to judge my brother’s bad behavior or do I want to run as fast as my father because of love and gratitude over my brother’s return? If I am whining instead of celebrating, I have missed the real big point. You can listen to a whole sermon series on judgement here.

When I feel like I deserve something in my timing, over trusting God’s timing in working things out in (and through) my life: Does this need an explanation?

Anyone else with me? If it is just my own, I’m ok with this little public confession. I had to get it out there. If not, it turns to pride before you had a chance to notice…and pride is not a good look on anyone. When we think we know better than God, we are the other son.

It’s Monday and Monday’s can tend to overwhelm for a lot of reasons. Tonight, I sat down to a familiar passage of scripture in light of my current feelings. Ephesians is one of my favorite books in the new testament. I wanted to underline certain parts for effect but just read and take in the whole thing. This was Paul’s prayer for this church, this is a prayer I pray over mine…and tonight, I prayed it over myself. Regardless of what son (or daughter) I feel like in a moment, he is working, he has called you and it’s HIS immeasurable greatness.

Identity in check. Eye on the prize, Ortiz…he’s got this.

Now that I have reminded myself, please read and take your time reading and praying through Ephesians 1:15-20.

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[f] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might