Wednesday, October 17, 2018
Sunday, October 7, 2018
One week ago I was worshipping at a Hungarian church where there were these cubbies outside of the sanctuary, a holdover of Communist rule when it was illegal to have a Bible outside of the church building. So today I’m thankful for the religious freedom I often take for granted but also for the love of God that cannot be quenched- even in the face of oppression and great opposition. Nothing can separate it from us. Not a thing.
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I struggle with sleep and with depression. I am well acquainted with that heavy feeling that relentlessly pulls one down down down into an abyss of darkness. I often don't like being in my own skin or being with other people. I have the head knowledge that I am beautiful and that being with others is so important but it doesn't translate easily to my heart every day. I have to work at it. I have to make myself fight for gratitude and I have to borrow the joy of God daily. My family isn't perfect and I'm not the best mother and I often fail others. Others struggle much more, others struggle less, but I struggle. And I just need anyone who knows me or likes me to know that. I struggle TOO.
If you see anything good in me, it's because I've hidden myself in the Rock. I've let the Spirit fill me and use me and that's all I've got. I take medicine and supplements and I watch what I eat (most times) and I've taken to meditating more often and practicing hospitality and gratitude and these are all important. But being myself and taking care of myself isn't enough. I have to let the Spirit of God take care of me, let myself be set free in Jesus, to let truth wash over me every day so that I can run free and into the calling God has just for me. This doesn't fix circumstances but it brings peace when I let it.
Last night an old friend and I were talking about our personality types and she said, "I'm really surprised [that we're the same type]... I don't know what that means except I guess that I battle against anxiety and depression and I guess I don't imagine that you do?" So this is just me getting real and setting the record straight. I struggle too. You are not alone.
Thursday, September 13, 2018
In Anthony Ray Hinton's book The Sun Still Shines, he describes the 30 years he spent on death row for a crime he didn't commit. His story is heartwrenching and moving and I highly recommend reading it, but one of the things I've been pondering was what he briefly mentioned about his visits with his mother. Of the two sets of prison clothes Anthony was issued, he wore one set daily but the other set he folded carefully and set aside for visiting day so that on the day his mama and his best friend Lester visited, he could look his very best. It was a very small thing, but it was something Anthony could do to comfort his mom. It's a principle I've come to understand. Or maybe it's a theory. But this is it: beauty comforts. Even if it's just your best set of prison whites and a smile.
It's why floral arrangements fill funeral homes. It's why mamas sing lullabies to their crying babies. It's why the sight of a football player or celebrity at a pediatric cancer unit makes us tear up- we know that this is right and good. People who can make a beautiful football pass or sing a beautiful song or make a beautiful movie- these people coming to be with us in our suffering- this comforts. That's not to say that the presence of beauty just makes us feel better, but it can also bolster our strength and sensibilities and actually make us stronger in the midst of the sufferings we encounter. All beauty points to the God of all comfort, the One who is always with us. It reminds us of the very presence and care of God.
It's like the rainbow I captured on the way to a funeral- God's comfort in our storms.
These glimpses of Presence and Beauty don't make our sufferings completely dissipate and they don't give us all the answers. But it gives us enough of a hint to make it through if we can receive it.
It's why Paul tells us that "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things." Philippians 4:8
There are some flowers just starting to wilt on my coffee table. A friend remembers me every year on September 7th- the due date for what would have been my fourth baby had I not miscarried. The flowers were beautiful but they don't hold a candle to her the beauty of her thoughtfulness and her love and her presence in my life.
May we all be that kind of beauty-bearing person in a dark and suffering world.
Friday, August 24, 2018
In 1949, Sarah Margaret Chaney glided down the center aisle of First Methodist Church in the small town of Clinton, Louisiana radiating beauty and joy. Sixty-nine years later, a photo of her vibrant smile graced the front and center of that same country church as her family and friends gathered to visit, pray, sing, reminisce, and celebrate her life so well lived and her heavenly homecoming. Her daughter Susan beamed her usual joy as she took her daddy’s arm and walked under the huge and ancient cedar tree to the burial site. Uncle Kenny made us laugh (he always does) and Barbara’s eulogy made me reach for my handkerchief. The great grandkids ran around and broke the silence bringing us all great comfort- these new little lives in the midst of loss. We had our sweet tea and fried chicken and jambalaya and banana pudding in the church’s fellowship hall where the neatly painted cinder block walls have bathrooms labeled “men” and “ladies.” We’re on the road home but I’m thankful for the time together (I’m kind of the smartest person ever for marrying into the sweetest family on earth) and for this kindhearted lady who made such an impact on so many. Our lives are short- but a breath- but they really do mean something for forever. See you soon, Ms Sarah. Give my daddy a hug for me.
Monday, August 20, 2018
Case in point.
After the first sin- the biggest and most consequential act of disobedience- God simply had one question.
"Where are you?"
Doesn't that speak volumes about who this God is?
If it were me, I would have and could have raged with anger saying things like...
"What were you thinking?"
"How DARE you?"
"I gave you ONE rule."
"Do you realize that you have screwed EVERYTHING up?"
"Do you know how much pain and suffering you've caused for the entirety of all of the world for ages to come?"
"Was all of Paradise and unencumbered relationship with me not enough?"
"Did you really think I was holding out on you?"
"Why did you doubt my love for you? Did you think I was lying?"
God doesn't say that. Because God's ways are not our ways and God's thoughts are not our thoughts. He loves us more than we can understand.
He simply asks, "Where are you?"
He doesn't shame because that's not God's nature. Shame is a big, damaging, relational death bomb. In fact, I think that's why so many of us are running from God, hiding from God even now just like Adam and Eve did because we are afraid that God will shame us. We perceive our guilt and there is still a serpent accuser still whispering lies about who we are and what we've done and who God is when in fact, all God is saying with a big heart of love is...
"Where are you?"
So where am I? Where are you? Where are we?
Are we running to God in our weakness and fear and frailty or are we running away?
Let's run back to Him. He's ready to receive you with open arms, healing balms for our wounded hearts, and a covering for our sin that cost Him everything.
If you want to and you're local, you can sit on my back porch on Tuesdays at 8:00 and laugh with me and my ridiculous know-it-all notion that I had the Bible figured out. Because learning about God together is the best way to go about it- hands down. And if my back porch doesn't work for you, find a group that is running to God and join them. Because no matter how far away we are from Him, I am certain all of Heaven rejoices at that first tiny step back.
Find your tribe and do life together- this is God's best for us. Just check out the data! God doesn't want us isolated, hiding in shame and fear. God wants us living in community and relationship- eyeball to eyeball. Let's run together.
Where are you?
Monday, July 23, 2018
We were busting at the seams with six kids and two mamas in one vehicle driving eight hours to the beach, but we did it and it was SO worth it. It was a chicken nuggets and peanut butter crackers and cereal kind of trip with both of us reminding the kids not to get sand, water, or excess noise in the "mom area" on the beach. And for the most part, it was a hexagon of kids splashing in the ocean for hours upon end while Nora and I let go of all the stuff of life that weighs on you and we just sat in God's gorgeous theater of green and blue that was Pensacola Beach and it was glorious. Make that trip with your friend and her kids, friends. You won't regret it- even if a kayak lands on your foot and your end up with a foot so black and blue it looks completely dead. Even that can't knock this kind of trip's payoff down one bit.
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
And I’m so thankful we fight that fight. Life hasn’t been a joy ride for any of us so the getting together and the encouraging each other and the praying for one another and the truth telling and the blessing one another really really matters. It is an epic pick-me-up, a reminder that even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, that He is WITH us. God has given us each other FOREVER and I couldn’t be more thankful.
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Monday, June 18, 2018
Saturday, June 16, 2018
"... unless I tell it because I want to, it’s as if it never happened; it gets closed off and then it’s lost." Tove Jannsen from The Summer Book
All these images are stories and gifts I want to remember not necessarily because of their inherent greatness (although they are truly awesome) but because they make me look up in thanks. It’s a wonder we’re here and that we are given so much. Our Creator God, Master Gifter, is a wonder. I tell these stories because I want to.