Monday, July 20, 2015


The disciples picked up their nets, and followed Jesus.

I used to wonder how they could do such a thing.
How they could just leave their wives
leave their children
leave it all.
It seemed so...rude.
So selfish.
So unbelievable, really.

After the challenges of this summer
getting up and leaving doesn't sound so unbelievable anymore.

Just dropping my net, and leaving, sounds almost as good as a free Bermuda vacation.
Or a shower.
Or a day without hearing, "what are we doing today?" or "where's mom?" or "what's for dinner?"
In fact, I may even shout out, as I throw that net to the ground, "See ya' suckers!" 
Because I am sure that is what the disciples said to their families and friends.

That's a joke.
I know they didn't shout that.

Turns out, the bites my husband and I are covered with are not bites after all.
It is poison ivy.
Of the worst kind.
My husbands legs are swollen and blistered and we have not slept through the night since we arrived here at our beautiful new home.

And would you believe that as he sits in pain, legs oozing, itching like mad,
he looks at me, wine in hand and says,
"I don't care.  I love this house."
And would you believe that with real joy he tells me, "The good news about having mice in our walls is that we don't have rats!"

I mean, break out the champagne, right?
We only have mice in our walls!
And mites!
And poison ivy!

And I can only safely assume that the fox's inability to steal his joy all go back to his abundant well of gratitude.
Because when you forget to be grateful
for every little thing
you may as well drink poison.

If I could re-choreograph the move
the kids
my husbands aggressive removal of weeds off of the gazebo, that were not simply weeds, but poison ivy
and then his touching me....

I would.

But then, I am playing God.
And God, I am not.

And who knows what sort of miracle and blessing I would erase by trying to remove the road that leads me there.

And as I was reminded by a visiting priest to Newtown yesterday,
God does pull the good out of the bad
and He does shine His light in the midst of death and darkness.
But seeing that light requires focusing on the good and joy.
as little of it as there may seem to be.

Being the light requires not giving into the poison of ingratitude.
Drink ingratitude, and everything goes dark.

Everyday and night I make the effort to take my itchy, bumpy, un-showered self, and awful un-styled hair, and I take a walk through our gardens.
I resist the itch to curse the gazebo
scratch at my ankles
and cry out
"To what end Lord? To what end???"

I visit our frogs
I look for the chocolate brown rabbits
I spy the yellow finches at the feeder
I look longingly at the wild flowers
wishing I could grow as trusting and beautifully as they do, so effortlessly and worry free.

And as hard as it can sometimes be

I make sure to give thanks.

And the truth is,
I can drop my net.
If I weren't holding onto it for dear life, with clenched hands,
I could.

And the real truth is...
I have already dropped it.
The very day I chose to follow Christ, my net dropped.

You see,
Following Jesus is not a ticket to a carefree life.
It is not the easy way out.
It is not mice and poison ivy free.
It does not guarantee polite children
it does not come without pain and tears.
It is hard, and it itches, and it is loaded with suffering.
And to someone who chooses to deny Christ, and to do what makes him feel happy, I know how stupid following Christ can sound!
But here is the catch, my friends:
I, too, have chosen to deny and do what feels good,
and it slowly lead me to the deepest, darkest, place of despair.
I would rather have Christ, and poison ivy, than to not have Christ at all.

And although, most of the time, I have no idea why He is testing me the way that He is,
I have a wonderful history of screw ups
and mistakes
and failures
and wrong choices
and bad directions
and hideous pride
and zero humility
and a whole lot of drinking poison
to remember how despite my colorful past
He has never failed to reach out
to pick up
to heal
to comfort
to hold
to shield
to provide
to forgive
and to save.

And for that, and calamine lotion, I am grateful.
Itchy, and feeling incredibly unattractive...
but oh so grateful.

If you have fallen into the poison of ingratitude,
look for just one thing today that you can give thanks for.
Because one simple praise of thanks has the ability to open a dark sky and let in the brightest beam of light you could ever imagine.