29 July 2011

sorrows, burdens

I went to a girl's house at 10 this morning--one of the sweeties that I tutor. The front door of the apartment was open. No one answered. I talked with a friend that's hurting and then I came back after a half hour and she and her sister were riding bikes in the faded black top parking lot. Brown stringy hair in their faces, bare feet, skinned toes. Filth crusting their clothes, too big for their small bodies. I couldn't stop staring at the blotch of dried coffee-ish-ness at her neckline. Their mom's asleep, later her uncle's taking them swimming so she can't do tutoring today. I left sad and texted David,
There are simply too many messes.

When I came home I made a list of twenty-seven crises that I'm watching and experiencing. I'm feeling a lot of weight. Feeling a lot of need. A lot of grief at the state of things:

division, betrayal, mistrust, bitterness, unforgiveness, miscommunication, no communication, drunkenness, addiction, borderline personality disorder, bipolarity, diabetes, failing pancreas, fighting, lies, unfaithfulness, cheating, swearing, Playboy, not disciplining children, not caring for children, disobedience, poverty, verbal abuse, prison, drugs, no rest, broken covenant, no covenant, being foreign, disobedience, no grace, condemnation, isolation, transient-ness, suicide, unloved, lost love, lost daughter, lost job, lost home, loneliness, distant marriage, pressure, pressure, worry, no work, too many bills, dizzyness, deafness, diabetes, anorexia, treatments, autism, delays, pornography, materialism, ignorance, money, disunity, chemical imbalance, inconsistency, intolerance, hate, physical abuse, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, behavior modification, screaming, yelling, anger, impatience, medication, disillusionment, schizophrenia, attack, manipulation, masturbation, offense, fetal alcohol syndrome, dirty, cheating, misleading, conniving, scheming, slandering, screeching, threatening, recording wrongs, bullying, breaking rules, blaming. Uncleaned, uncared for, unprotected, unfed, unloved, untaught, undisciplined children. Resentment, jealousy, need, struggle, bitterness, hunger, judgment, comparison, misperception, loneliness, frustration, unresolved, unreconciled, lost community, lost trust, lost friendship, lost desire, lost hope, cancer, death, lostness, mourning, widow, death, widower, death, cancer, treatments, old age, junk, complications, paperwork, hoops, obstacles, governments, injustice, missed growth, unfulfilled hope, sickness of heart, issues, incessant crying, rage, removal, accusations, evil choices, pushing away, shutting out, selfishness, anger, avoiding eye contact, shame, widening gulfs, abuse

23 July 2011

We were laughing at our weird life last night.

I laugh at it every few days. I got to have coffee with Celina and Bobbi, who we found out is quitting her job and starting school, which seems like a totally risky and brilliant and hopeful idea. Our friend Birgitta had her 34th birthday party in her front yard last night and her husband wore a Brittney Spears microphone and told stories and then led a sing-a-long of pop songs. All the kids were dancing into the dusk and we were talking and laughing and celebrating. We just had berry shortbread for breakfast (because we haven't been home to have it for dessert and I was tired of it sitting in the refrigerator) and I got to talk with a neighbor girl who is not doing well at all. We really have no idea what's actually going on in their home, but we know it's bad. So we decided we just need to pray and lean in, but not go off of the info they give because it's all muddled up. It's really great for us to wrestle through this kind of thing--like what the heck to do when we are the closest godly people to a disasterous situation and feel completely untrained and unprepared--but it's a huge and dangerous mess. David just left to go spear fishing with Abi and I'm about to go to a bridal shower for Becca (who I worked a the coffee shop with, who is marrying Kennan, whose parents are in our home community). Tonight we're going to another birthday party--for Marina, the Schwary's daughter, who are also part of our church. Lots of adventures and parties!

While we ate our eggs and shortbread this morning, David and I were talking this about how we feel confused and taken aback in the situation with our neighbors, but deeply encouraged by the fact that God gives his Spirit WITHOUT limit. And wondering what in the world that looks like and how to live like it. I think we typically act and perceive the world as though there is a roof to how much God intervenes, how much authority he's given us, how much he will respond when we pray, how much he can save a person from, what he can really do in a situation and how much/if he will give wisdom. However, in reality, he says there's not a limit or roof...

Any thoughts or wisdom or prayers about this or the last post are invited.

21 July 2011


Jesus, early in his ministry, found this passage in Isaiah and spoke it to a full synagogue in his hometown:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengence of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion--
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may display his beauty.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devestations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

I read this and I wonder why we talk more about apologetics, the four spiritual laws, a wordless book and the Romans road than this. The tools are fine, but.... What if we started our ministry/mission/evangelism/neighboring/friendships/churches/marriages/whatever with the power, anointing, discernment, meaning, grace that Jesus proclaimed?

These words are truth for us--we are those who have been poor, borkenhearted, captive, bound, blind, mourning, covered in ashes and faint. And too often I find myself returning to these places--frustrated, exhausted, disillusioned, broken, paralyzed, trapped, worried, ashamed, worn out. These are all words I use to describe myself. A few days ago, David and I made a deal to proclaim life and liberty and good news to each other. I long to learn and practice to be able to speak the gospel into every kind of situation--to myself and to others (Christians and non-Christians). These things are so hard to grasp alone and I feel like I need to be trained to see and speak them.

Look at the proclamations:
good news
opening of prison/recovery of sight
God's favor and God's vengence (both!)

Look at the gifts:
binding up of hearts
beautiful headdresses
oil of gladness
garments of praise

And--how hopeful!--look at who these things are for:
the poor
the brokenhearted
the captives
those who are bound/blind
those who mourn, hold ashes, are of a faint spirit 

Look at the results:
That they may be called oaks of righteousness, 
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

Wow! This is how I want to be, how I want to live, how I want to speak, how I want to give.

12 July 2011

a story of the kingdom

Long ago, 
at many times and in many ways,
God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.

But in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son
(whom he appointed the heir of all things)
(through whom he also created the world).

He is the radiance of the glory of God,
the exact imprint of his being,
holding the universe together by his powerful word.

After he had made purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high...

from Hebrews 1 (combined ESV, NIV, RSV translations)

Ah ha! This is our story! This is what shapes our today! This is our King, our God! Don't forget it!