29 September 2014

25 September 2014

changes in the wind

Today is David's last day of work for the state. Woweee!!!! He has been a faithful, whole-hearted worker and will really miss his guys and the staff he's been with for the past five years.

This morning as I prayed, I imagined a big stamp, like a postal stamp, stamping down a seal of approval on lives and hearts. Establishing the work that David has done--the love, hope and truth that he has sown in the lives of the clients and staff.

I love how David sees everyone made in God's image. I am challenged by his patience, forgiveness and persistent kindness. It is a great blessing to hear stories of how people have been honoring his uprightness, his whole-heartedness, his discernment, his leadership and his shepherd's heart as prepares to leave.

Lord, may you establish the work of David's hands.

08 September 2014

04 September 2014

August for me

It was the month that it's been one year since that month. Last August we were up at Doernbecher's with our precious baby, a wracked and swollen little body. Last August we heard the doctor tell us that we had six to eighteen months more before she would be gone. Last August we stopped everything--breathing, working, laughing, sleeping. And we started loving and holding and praying and needing like we'd never done those things before. We cried and screamed and we needed God's words every minute. I remember reading the Bible for rescue every morning last summer, gulping it down, grabbing it and shoving it inside of me. Just to survive. I remember how we decided we wanted to be trained by the sorrow. I remember asking God to take her quickly; it was just too awful. I remember saying, "I will not grow a bitter root of unbelief. Pull out my unbelief. I chose to be soft. I chose love. I chose You." Last August I needed help.

In those days I whispered and grasped, I am still confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. This is from Psalm 27.

And now we've gone through an autumn and a winter, a spring. We celebrated two years of Sophia's life on June 21st. We celebrated with forty-two people who brought breakfast to our small apartment. We made music and made Sophia smile. She skipped her nap and enjoyed it. We laughed and told her how much we love her. We thanked these lovers that carry and celebrate life with us. We dreamed of her future and ate cinnamon rolls and bacon.

Then the days were hot summer. Pages flipped, we got a passport for Sophia and took her to Canada. We started to tell our story and it got easier and realer and deeper and more normal every time. Then it was August and I lost my breath and caught it. This August I have had to purpose to remember the pain of that August. I've needed help. Sometimes we are laughing and enjoying and then it whacks me in the neck or it hits David in the chest and we cry and stop and hurt again. Sometimes together. But sometimes alone.

Yet those jack-in-the-box emotions are rare these days. The breeze blows and the mornings are crisp. Another autumn is coming and I count twelve months of life. Sophia Margaret is alive. She is more alive every day. The temperature is perfect. David is making new sounds on his instruments. I am working and stretching my heart in new directions. The little girl, entrusted to our care is in her stroller outside the open door, leaning forward and studying her beads and hands closely, tongue out, wind feathering her curls and catching the curtains. She's out there because she was throwing a fit and we needed breathing room. She was throwing a fit because she is growing a will, growing herself like any live kid would do. We are about to leap into new unknowns because the time is about right for that kind of thing.

And for all of these things I am absolutely thankful. Thankful to Emmanuel, which means God with us. The kind of thanks that makes me furrow my brow and snuffle and cough before I get up to make some dinner and put this kid to bed and hug David. We've voted and it's unanimous; we wouldn't trade our story.

Two days ago, I pushed Sophia through the hospital halls and out on a walk toward the white building past the roses. The walk we would take over and over during our restless days last August. The walk that passes the nursing school, David's new school. And two days ago, my soul reverberated with a new twist on the words I whispered last year, I do see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I have waited, I have taken heart, I do take heart, I do see.

Amen.

06 August 2014

happy birthday

I am 35 today and I determine that I will live with my whole heart and all my guts. I will give myself fully to the work of the gospel, reconciling.

I will not live half-hearted or half-way. I will not keep quiet or keep peace when life and love are at stake.

I would rather laugh too loud, cry too hard, love too fully, stay up too late, believe too big than stop too soon, worry too wide, protect too much.

I want to wear bright colors, walk with people deep, give so generously, embrace so tight and with so much grace. I want to love truth and Jesus and salvation more than I love me, my way, and comfort. I want to cultivate and nurture and call out life.

I want to get things done, be an awesome follower and a humble, fearless leader, make things beautiful and see resurrection. Jesus is alive. He’s alive. 
On this I stake my life.

19 July 2014

super focused


21 June 2014

sweet girl

A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.
(Grudem, Systematic Theology, 355)



Today this girl is two years old. We spent a day celebrating with a houseful of dear, dear friends and family who have pleaded and loved and rejoiced over this little life. Sophia is a blessing and her life is a miracle. We are in awe and wonder; we see you, God.

10 June 2014

"Do not be deceived:

God is not mocked,

for whatever one sows,

that will he also reap.

For the one who sows to his flesh will from the flesh reap corruption,
but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap,
if we do not give up."
New lettuce sprouts on the left, lettuce for harvesting on the right. These verses are good news for me and bad news for me. I've been mulling them over as I eat radishes and greens and raspberries, as I anticipate tomatoes and beans and cherries, as I watch new seedlings pop up, as I pull weeds, as I water, as I kick myself for not putting more seeds in earlier.

I've been pondering this reality as I remember neighbors that moved out or died and friends that moved on or times I moved on before really loving the way I needed to really love. I've sown too many seeds to the flesh, giving in to insecurity or selfishness or laziness or isolation or fear or unbelief or envy and unforgiveness--all of which are slavery.

I've also been thinking of it as I see ways that I have sown rightly, even small seeds quickly, which grow a good harvest. Some like those fat, red radishes, others slowly like the feathery dill even now just showing above ground. Loving or receiving or expressing or laboring or dancing or killing or restoring or serving: all of these can be called sowing to the Spirit, freedom.
We all want love. We all want joy/happiness. We all want peace and rest. We all need vision for a long haul, patience. We all desire and expect kindness. We all call out for goodness. We all long for understanding, gentleness. It makes sense to be angered by a lack of integrity and loyalty; we need faithfulness. We want to "marshal and direct our energies wisely." And when we don't have or get these good, right things, when the people around us are not these ways, we are all acutely aware that something is messed up, not right.

But, ironically, the only way toward these, is throwing the seed beyond ourselves… which feels entirely counter-intuitive. Sowing to the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control--these are not so much ways to act, as they are good gifts to receive. They are the fruit produced by the Spirit of Jesus, the One who is living and working and gardening steadily all around us all daily. Oh, may I increasingly choose to sow to him.

meditation on Paul's letter to the Galations

15 April 2014

slow and marching letters

How is it that it's always new?
Is it always speaking?
Alive?
Am I so forgetful?
              unobservant?
              small & finite?
Is it new?
Am I new and so
I hear it different?
Does his tone change upon my next opening?
Did he grow the words while I slept?

This book, this book
the word
a word
Christ, the word
Messiah, Emmanuel
God with us, word with us,
among us, piercing us, dividing us,
healing us, washing us.
O, sword, Spirit's sword,
O, water
O, bread
           O, Christ.

Now I sit, I stop, I open, I pray, I train my eyes and ears to run back and forth across these thin & stoic pages. I force myself to sit & wait. For anything?
For nothing?
Hello?

Sit & wait impatient, unbelieving (but I've seen it before)
Drop the seed & cover with dirt:
And miracle of miracles, by the time I'm mad
just as I've forgotten & called them dead
a leaf unbends itself, 
pushing up the dirt.

And sword
And water
And bread
O seed of life.
Seed of Christ
in my tilled up heart
I wait
I wait on you.

From shriveled marching letters
in worn and distant heart
Life springs new
New and new

How is it that it's always new?


----------
(I have been preparing to lead a Bible study and am once again face-to-face with the mystery and hard work involved in hearing/studying/contemplating/responding to Scripture. Thanks for the reminder of this poem, Mom! Reposted from 23 Sept 2011.)

12 March 2014

beauty and bodies and girls

My friend Andrea is working on preparing to give talks on beauty to teen girls. This is such a hot, in-your-face-whether-you-want-it-or-not-hi-I-am-a-billboard yet rarely-spoken-of topic. We need some truth and clear perspective in these areas. What do you wish you heard growing up?

*****
So here’s what I wish–that someone would’ve said how awesome it is to be beautiful, how God has made us all with our very own beauty, how it reflects him when we steward that well. I needed to hear that beauty is incredibly powerful and we can either use it and/or hide it out of fear, shame, selfishness OR that we can enjoy it and cover it from a place of faith, hope and love.

I had this sense that beauty was powerful, but grew up thinking it was bad to attract attention for physical beauty, that the heart was the only thing that mattered. The heart is certainly the core, but from my observation a pure and beautiful heart will always spill out into how we care for ourselves (which includes our bodies!) and those around us. And this is undeniably attractive–on every level. Now I see that as we age, physical bodies begin to reflect more and more the realities of the heart and even at death, you can often see beautiful hearts glowing through decrepit bodies giving them an unutterable, encompassing beauty.

I think it takes a lot of courage for a parent to tell a daughter how awesome her body is and how valuable and good a full and nurtured beauty is. There is so much power in a young female body and we have all been pummeled and hounded by the experience of watching that mis-stewarded and mis-treated in subtle and horrific and culturally acceptable, but devastating ways. Girls are told so many lies about their bodies (and very selves), but then we read Scripture and see how happy God is about our bodies (and selves) and how on purpose and thoughtful he is about all of the pieces–our relational needs, our physical needs, our sexuality, our vulnerability, our power.

Modesty is beautiful, but modesty is always a covering out of honor, not covering out of shame.

I love how many beautiful women are in the Bible. References off the top of my head–women in Genesis, Esther and Ruth, the woman in Song of Songs, 1 Pet 3:5. Then there are things about us, how carefully God crafts and sees us–Genesis 1 & 5, Psalm 139, Lk 12:7. Thoughts about God and beauty–his lavish work in creation, his care for the physical beauty of the temple (and how does this apply to his church now?), Ps 19, descriptions of the overwhelming beauty of God in prophets and Revelation. He is clearly concerned about beauty. His is an all-consuming, ferocious beauty.

*****
So, this will probably continue percolating in my soul for the rest of my days, only felt increasingly deeply as I love daughters and nieces and girls growing up today. I invite reflections and thoughts, especially from my friends with daughters. What do you wish that you had heard? What true and good things about beauty have you learned from God, from experience?

What do you want to make sure is spoken to the girls that you love?

10 March 2014

06 March 2014

rejoice!

This little girl is learning and growing! What a joy and a miracle!

 The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.
Ps 145:9

How have you seen his goodness and compassion toward you today?

19 February 2014

little valentine

13 February 2014

the cool thing that's not cool

I get so bored when I hear about normal life. When I watch people dear to me live the same routine over and over--up, eat, work, pay a bill, eat, clean, watch a show, sleep, repeat 8 bajillion times. Go to Disneyland every once in awhile. I hate it. It makes me sick. It makes me bored. I hate it. I hate it.

I want do do important things. Things that mean something, but sometimes I love air conditioning and safety too much.

--------


Slowly working my way through Isaiah, I've made it to chapter 58.

Justice. Social justice. I remember being at Multnomah Bible College, watching Kindra put up verses about justice around campus and having no idea what this was all about. Now it's all over the place.

Like this newly discovered thing. Ooo. Justice. Let's have a conference about it. Let's serve food at the rescue mission (and wash our hands and clothes really well afterward). Let's give a micro-loan or a chicken for Christmas (make sure it's tax deductible). Let's give money to the homeless guy (actually a gift card so he doesn't spend it on alcohol).

Awesome. You are so awesome. Is that what we want? To be noted for our awesomeness?

It all feels so particularly trendy right now. But this is so counter to what Isaiah 58 is all about.

Is not this the fast that I choose:
   to loose the bonds of wickedness,
   to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
   and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
   and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
   and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
   and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
   the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
   you shall cry, and he will say, 'Here I am.'
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
   the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry
   and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
   and your gloom be as the noonday. 
And the Lord will guide you continually
   and satisfy your desire in scorched places
   and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
   like a spring of water,
   whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
   you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called repairer of the breach,
   the restorer of streets to dwell in. (Isaiah 58:6-12)

I hear God speak and ask myself this: is my movement toward justice a living, daily sacrifice or is it a sign of my awesomeness? Because if it's about how cool I am, I'm all wrong.

I'm rocked by this: Am I living in a daily posture of
      sharing the bread that I baked?
      welcoming the homeless poor into my clean home?
      taking my time to cover exposed shame and wounds of the vulnerable?
Am I allowing myself to
      be truly seen by those nearest me?
      reject wickedness?
      break yokes?
      pour myself out in satisfying the desire of the afflicted?

Nope. Awkward. Sounds like over-involvement. Honestly, I pull back from the uncomfortable, ill and awkward. Not worthy of facebook or pinterest, more the feeling of an unshowered morning. Yuck.

And yet, when we gave past what we were able, when we shared a meal against our better judgment, when I listen long enough to see and dress a soul wound, when I actually have courage to call it a yoke/sin/oppression/wound and mourn about it in myself and others, when I choose community over independence, when I stand against the flow of our cultural and individual wickedness, when I give and think to satisfy another--oh, dear--

this is when life starts.

It seems so small. How could I possibly be living a fantastic adventure right here at the Garden View Apartments?

Not sure, but I will say this: I have traveled the world. And take it or leave it. That's not where deep adventure is. Deep adventure is this--living fully present, living a life of justice here and now and today.  Stepping forward. Seeing each unperfect person as perfectly loved by God and doing all that I can to let them know this.

So...will I do it? Will I open up the door of my home and my heart? I haven't cleaned the bathroom yet. So maybe not.

But maybe.

I can start by cuddling Sophia. Let's see what happens next.

Come, Lord Jesus.

16 January 2014

violence, mountain moving, threshing

So awhile back I wrote about the passage in Mark 11 where Jesus tells us that we can talk to the mountain, tell it to get lost, believe and it'll happen.

I copied the passage in Sharpie and stuck it to our closet with a picture of an imposing, glorious, and very established mountain. We look at it daily. It prickles and penetrates my heart because we feel like we're living with some very strong mountains in our family. I am just waiting for them to land at the bottom of the sea, somewhere near all my sin. I laugh when I look at the words, certain that they are the reality and wondering what they mean and if it will happen today or tomorrow or...
well, just how much longer will we have to wait? 

Yesterday, I was reading and praying and soaking in God's words through the prophet Isaiah. Words of hope, rebuke, justice, restoration, comfort and promise. And I came across this:

"Fear not, you worm Jacob,
   you men of Israel!
I am the one who helps you, declares the Lord;
   your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.
Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge,
   new, sharp, and having teeth;
you shall thresh the mountains and crush them,
   and you shall make the hills like chaff;
you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away,
   and the tempest shall scatter them.
And you shall rejoice in the Lord;
   in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory."
(Isaiah 41:14-16)

Definitions of thresh, crush, winnow and scatter include: thrash; deform, pulverize, or force inwards by compressing forcefully; violently subdue; remove things from a group until only the best ones are left; throw in various random directions. 

What can God mean here? I cannot pretend to get this. I'm only on the front end of starting to explore. But what I read, stops me. I ran in the bedroom and re-read the Mark passage. I ran back to the couch and looked at Isaiah. I ran back and looked at Mark and held up and re-read Isaiah.

I get that I'm told to speak and believe. Honestly, even that felt wild enough...

But is Isaiah saying that I have the opportunity to join in violently subduing, deforming, pulverizing and winnowing these same mountains?

The repeated theme of clearing land, making straight, flat, evened ground is talking about making way for God. Jesus himself is the way (the path), the truth, the life; he is how we come to God. And a primary route is through repentance. Remember at the beginning of the gospels, John yelling in the wilderness? He said, 'Repent! Prepare the way of the Lord!' This is good news!

The Mark and Isaiah passages are strikingly similar. There's the acknowledged tragedy, the call to faith in God and then the proposed action which involves long-established, natural, enormous land structures being utterly demolished. Does anyone else notice that this is crazy?!! It's super easy to be familiar and unhearing. But it's also stupid to be so familiar that we're not blown over by this. (And I think this is part of the point that God is trying to communicate in both of these contexts.) Why are we so casual about this concept?

So, like I say, I don't get it. But I want to. My questions are these: What is going on here? And how can I join in?

15 January 2014

here we are

Here is my family. What a gift from God they are to me.



Now, I've not written on my blog in quite some time, nor have I posted pictures on facebook. It's been awhile and there are a number of reasons. Partly because there was a season that pictures just made me really sad. Another part is that I've been working on a big project.

But today I am posting and we are all here and Sophia is the cutest she's ever been. Her smile brings us wild amounts of joy. And we are daily praising God for "health and strength and daily bread." We are growing and learning and worshipping.

This is one of Sophia's very favorite activities these days:


And one more. I love her thoughtful little expressions.