Tuesday, January 31, 2017


There is an epidemic of fear, hate, and bitterness running rampant on our globe right now. And for some reason we were momentarily lulled into the lie that America was immune.

I think it is safe to say we have had our wake up call.

And as my heart breaks over the strife and the pain, I have to shout it out: This is not the way.

This is not the end. It is not the end of our story.

It is the middle. The part where the characters try to make things right. And in the most intriguing stories I've read, usually the characters get it wrong a few times.

So I'm wondering this: since as Christians we live in the full knowledge that this is not the end of our story, are we willing to extend grace to the characters around us who mess things up? Or even admit that we could be messing up too?

Are we able to discern between those who are maliciously attempting to destroy lives, and those who simply think differently?

Are we willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe, just maybe, those who disagree with us aren't the villains trying to destroy the world? Maybe we even have a bit of villainy in ourselves as well?

Maybe our battle is truly not against flesh and blood, "but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." (Eph. 6:12)

If my battle is not against a person, but against the powers of hell, then in all of my dealings with that person I must take one course of action every. single. time.

I must pray. I must pray for them. I may even need to pray with them.

I must look into the face of the people I believe are committing the vilest crimes against humanity and I absolutely must pray for them. Jesus told me to. Jesus prayed for me.

And when I just can't take it and I want to scream at those I see as my enemies, I have to remember that at one time I was an enemy of God. What did God choose to do with me at that time? Pursue me. Send His only Son to die for me. In His love and mercy and justice, He punished my sin on His Son. On His Son. And while it is completely contradictory to my sinful nature (COMPLETELY), He calls me to pick up my cross and do the same, to sacrifice the time He has given me on His altar. To offer up myself, indignation and all, and use His time to pray for His creatures, the very people He chose to create. The very ones He died for.

I don't want to do this. I have to. Not simply because God says so, but because there will always be another battle to fight- another person with whom I strongly disagree. Another person to rouse my "righteous" indignation. And if I allow myself to give in to the lie that these are my battles to fight alone, I will be embittered and angry forever- incapable of living in the thankfulness and joy to which God also implores me. I will have forgotten that God is God and I am not, and I will place myself in the judgment seat when I actually stand just as condemned as the person I am attacking.

I must view my neighbor through the lens of God in Christ Jesus. That is my only hope for peace and wisdom. The moment I forsake those lenses for my own fallen ones is the moment I bow to hopelessness and judgmental actions. Instead, I am called to bow before God alone. To utter "Thy will be done," and keep on living like the King is still on His throne. A heart that submits to the Lord is a heart that has hope even when they are in broken relationships at a broken time.  

So what should I do? Take action- but take it in the calm confidence of grace. Stand against injustice. Speak up for those who have no voice. Love my neighbor as myself. And realize that fighting hate with hate is pointless. As a mom who listened to "He started it, she started it," more times than I can count this morning, I do have to say hateful retaliation solves nothing. (Though I did congratulate them on cooperating with each other to drive me crazy.)

We have these words on our wall and I believe they rest there for such a time as this: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that."- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We can only be lights in the darkness if we choose to answer temporal trials with the certainty of eternity. 

My words will only matter if I speak truth with the absolute assurance that my words are not coming from a heart smoldering with hatred, but from a heart burning with love for the victims and the criminals.

I can only do that if I first remember where I came from, where I stand with God because of Christ. 

And I must remember that true and lasting reconciliation comes only from God. No amount of organizing, and posting, and protesting can accomplish the work of changing hearts. That belongs to God. Which means that while I am responsible for my actions, I am not responsible for the results.

Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) May I be given the strength to live this way no matter what the future holds.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Life Dismantled, Life Content

"LOL I'd love to," I texted her. "How about when I am done doing all the other things I am supposed to be doing to make my life better? If I add one more healthy practice to my life I may quite literally fall apart."

My Sister-Friend had a great idea to do a healthy regimen together that would hopefully help us feel better with our kaleidoscope of illnesses. A great idea, really. And if I didn't feel like I was a Lego mom carrying various and sundry tasks all designed to improve the quality of the lives around me, maybe I would have been up for it. But one more thing to remember, and my head could pop right off my plastic shoulders. One more thing to carry and I'd be the Venus de Milo of motherhood.

I'd like to blame it on New Year's optimism- this draw toward anything that will make us feel successful and satisfied. Maybe this year I will follow through on my Bible reading/diet/exercise/ business/schooling/etc... and then I will be happy. But I have known that feeling at other random times as well, and this journey I am on can feel like wandering in circles around the desert wilderness. I just can't quite make it to the promised land.

So maybe you have felt this way, too. Like you know you should be satisfied, but it's just beyond your fingertips. And that maybe when you accomplish this, you can take a break and be content.

Here's the thing: it's not going to happen. Not for any meaningful length of time at least. Not with that perspective.

That aching we have to be enough- that is a God-shaped, God-shaping chasm in our lives that He daily and persistently fills. And He doesn't need us shoveling whatever self-help tricks and tips the world gives us into the place only He should occupy.

If you want to believe you can achieve great things because you are awesome- go for it. You are awesome and gifted. Many impressive things have been accomplished that way. Mega-businesses, mind-boggling inventions, huge political platforms have been built on this mentality. And they have done some good along the way.

But if you want your life to contribute to something that will last long after this world perishes; if you want it to have a purpose beyond the paycheck, then Jesus gives us one answer: Take up your cross and follow Him.

God is not in the business of making us a better version of who we think we should be. Like we have any clue who we should be. Dear God, thank you for not fulfilling my 16-year-old-self's vision of who I thought I should be.

He is in the business of resurrecting a child dead in their trespasses.

When I feel like God is dismantling my life, I have to bow to the One who I know is acting in love toward me. Because God never acts outside His love for us. Ne-ver. And if He is demolishing what I keep trying to rebuild, then I need to just sit down and let Him do His work because He is working from different (and infinitely better) blueprints.

God's plans may not contain what we determine to be glamorous in the moment, but that doesn't mean He isn't working out something beautiful and amazing and one-of-a-kind.

So if you have to mop floors? Go get it.
You have to wipe poopy butts? You rock it.
You have to pay bills? Own it.
You have to put yourself out there? You got this.
You have to be nice to people who cause naughty words to come to mind? Smile like a boss.

Whatever you do- "work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men." (Col. 3:23) It is unbelievable how much more satisfying life is when we remember who God is instead of trying to invent who we are. And when we try new endeavors from the starting point of confidence in Christ rather than ourselves? That's where progress is celebrated and setbacks are just that, setbacks; not foundation-shaking catastrophes.

We can try new things. We can learn and grow and take risks in the security that God is with us and equipping us for work that is beyond all we can imagine. We can be satisfied even as we struggle.

In a world that thrives on people's lack of satisfaction, cultivates it even, we have the promise that contentment can happen here because our God gives it abundantly. We can stop clasping our hands around our things and our plans, and open them to receive His gifts. He has given us His Son. He knows the desires of our hearts. He is with us. Isn't that the best starting point for anything we try to do?

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied." (Matt 5:6)

That is my 2017 prayer for us. May we seek God's righteousness first and be blessed with the satisfaction that looks at the good, bad, stinky, annoying, frustrating, feeble, failing, ugly, beautiful around us and says, "I have learned in whatever situation I'm in to be content." (Phil 4:11)

With love.