November 26, 2013

Because mothering ain't no small thang...

After the umpteenth time I encountered something on the subject, I finally surrendered.
I get it.
I. get. it. now.
This life, this small, insignificant life is not so inconsequential in Your eyes. I have been bombarded and attacked from every side over the last few days. Every story, every conversation, every blog, every devotional that passed my eyes spoke of the same truth:
I see you. I see what you do. I see who you are. And I am pleased.
I won’t lie. I have been struggling with feeling irrelevant. What is it that I do? I mother, I teach, I work, I write, I worship. But how does that change the world? Isn’t there something heroic I should be doing? Something exotic? Something radical? Something more?
So over the last year, five times I have made myself available to uncomfortable situations. The take-a-deep-breath-and-say “here-I-am-send-me” kind. And five times the doors have slammed in my face. Really, Lord? I was willing to do whatever.
But I’m dense.
Until last week.
**Today I'm writing over at my friend Christy's One Fun Mom. Won't you read the rest over here and leave me a note so I know you stopped by?**

October 5, 2013

The #1 Fly Killer

I was in the den working when I heard the noise. It was coming from behind the door of my bedroom. At first it sounded like the faint whine of a puppy and it continued in a slow crescendo until it reached a full, roaring scream: “mooooooommmmmyyyyyy, ahhhhhhhhh!” I would love to say I ran full speed to see what it was but I know my children are prone to drama, so I calmly walked to the bedroom and opened the door. 

I found Noah plastered against the wall opposite the window, sobbing uncontrollably, snot and tears mingling near his chin. His eyes were fixed on the window in sheer terror. I followed them and could see nothing. And then I heard the buzz. It was loud and disturbing but it was coming from a common house fly, ugly and big but harmless. 

Unless you are six. 

What’s the matter, Noah?” I asked him. “It’s chasing me!” he wailed back. I explained to him that it would not harm him and that house flies don’t bite (do they?) and to keep reading his book so I could finish my work. I shut the door and went back to the den. 

About two minutes later I heard the screaming again. This time, with much less patience and an edge to my voice, I went back and reminded him that the fly would not hurt him, that I was too busy to try to chase it out of the room, and that he was a big boy, much bigger than the bug, in fact. I firmly closed the door and left him in his little private hell. 

As I sat in front of the computer the Still Small Voice enveloped my thoughts: “He’s only six years old, you know? He is just scared. Can’t you be more gentle and understanding?” See, I am very practical. Too practical even. It was just a fly, for goodness sake! 

But at that moment the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to my lack of empathy and helped me to see the world through the eyes of my little boy. I realized I often expect my children to think, behave and understand the world like adults. That fly was a monster against which Noah felt powerless to fight and he had no hero to show him how to conquer his dragon. 

So I breathed a prayer of wisdom and patience and went back in. I held him until he stopped crying and then I told him about how a simple magazine can turn into a magic secret weapon against flies. I showed him how to use it and, while we did not kill the fly then, I left him fully armed. As I was leaving the room I mentioned in passing that if he killed the fly I would give him a medal of valor.  

I returned a few minutes later when the silence was too suspicious and found him perched on the bed, still as a statue, weapon ready. I asked him what he was doing. “I’m waiting for the fly to come back my way so I can kill it!” he said with excitement. He spent the rest of the day chasing! flies until one let itself be killed by this tiny dragon slayer. As promised, I gave him a medal. 

(The medal says: "#1 fly killer: Noah, the valiant")

Empathy is powerful. Noah needed his fears validated, not minimized. Once he knew he was heard and understood, he became courageous. Once someone came to his side and empowered him, he believed in himself. This morning he even tackled a cockroach with his daddy’s help!

Grown-ups need empathy too. We may not wail in public despair at the sight of our fears or openly beg for a friend to come rescue us. “You just don’t do that,” we tell ourselves, perpetuating a lie that keeps us estranged from each other, unable to let someone else step into our shoes.

But we are just as terrified and helpless before our dragons as a six-year old before a giant house fly. And sometimes we just need someone to come alongside to pray with and for us, and to encourage us to discover that we can become dragon slayers. No perfect words or wise advice. Just a shoulder and a friend.

And we may not completely understand someone else's fear or pain. We may think "it's just a fly, for goodness sake!" We may even expect them to get over it or to realize, logically, why they should not be afraid. To behave like we would in that case.

But when we stand beside them and face the window from their perspective we just may feel how big and ugly the fly looks to them.  That fly may just look like a dragon we recognize. And suddenly, our eyes are opened to their reactions and responses. 

And empathy happens. 

Paul understood the strength that comes in numbers. He reminds us that God’s intention for community is for us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. It’s a calling to never under-estimate the power of the words: “I understand. I am with you and you are not alone.

September 28, 2013

More than just not calling him a name...

The other morning I woke up early to spend some time in prayer. It was an ordinary morning and I began talking to God in my ordinary way. A few minutes into it, however, the conversation took an unexpected turn. It went something like this:

Me: “Lord, be with Matt today. Help him to have a productive day, to seek your will in his decisions, and to be surrounded by your grace. Give him wisdom to do his job, strength to tackle his responsibilities, and a greater desire to serve you.”

God: “Yes, child, he is a good man, isn’t he?”

Me: “Yes, Lord. Thank you for him and his love for me. And Lord, help me to be a good wife to him, a good helpmeet, and encourager.”

God: “You know? You don’t always treat him with the honor and respect that you should.”

Me: “Huh?”

God: “Yes, daughter. Sometimes you talk to him as if he was your child, not your husband.”

Me: “Wait, what? I was just praying that he has a good day and…”

God: “Listen. You know the times you ask him to fold the laundry while he watches that show and he forgets? You know how you put your hands on your hips and chastise him? He is your husband, child, not your son. That is not very respectful.”

Me: “But, but he… but I… but...”

God: “You know the times when he eats a donut for breakfast and you roll your eyes at him? Do you think that is honoring to him?”

Me: “No, Lord. I understand.”

God: “I’m not finished. Sometimes you tell him what to do as if you knew best, criticize his choices as if he was not very intelligent, belittle his opinions as if yours were the only valid ones. Would you treat a stranger in this way?”

Me: “No, Lord.”

God: “Then honor your husband. Respect him as you should. Be a wife who serves, who encourages, who forgives. Speak only praises of him before others. Make your home a place to where he wants return to every night. A safe haven from the pressures of his day. Treat him like the blessing and the treasure he is in your life. Don’t forget.”

Me: “Yes, Lord. Thank you for being so gentle in your rebuking.”

I walked away from this conversation changed and I was reminded of what I vowed to do almost thirteen years ago before all those friends and family members.

We said for richer of for poorer and we have survived times of plenty and through times of need.

We said in sickness and in health and we have made it through less than healthy times.

We said for better or worse and we have navigated tougher than tough times right to the other side.

But we also vowed to honor and respect and I guess I thought that honor only meant to be faithful and respect only meant not to call each other ugly names when we argue. And it is that...but it is also much more.

To honor means to deeply value. It means to appreciate the tremendous contribution he makes to my life, to our children, and to our family by the kind of husband, father, and leader he is. Honor means to focus on what he brings, not on what he lacks. It means to be keenly aware of what his absence would mean so I can cherish every day of his presence. 

And to respect means to be considerate of. It means to extend him the same grace to err, to fail, and to be flawed as I would want extended to me. It means to be gentle, to be kind, and to generally treat him with the deference with which I would treat a friend. 

But I'm finding that it is in the daily living, in the every day navigating of life together, that honor and respect are most important but most difficult to achieve because when you live with someone you can find a million opportunities to be aggravated by them and with them. 

And it is the continuous wear and tear of a relationship, the small, annoying, seemingly insignificant disagreements, “fussing” my father-in-law calls it, which can destroy a relationship little by little if not handled properly.

Like a leaky faucet, I can wear my husband down with my ongoing criticism, nagging, and contempt. And who can stand that for very long? He may not leave me because he is a man of his word, but what kind of marriage would that be? What kind of example would I be for my daughter?

No wonder wise Solomon once wrote how it is better to live in the corner of an attic than in a lovely home with a quarrelsome wife!

I asked the Lord to help me remember that, while I criticize Matt, I am far, far from perfect. I asked him to give me patience and humility, wisdom and humility, grace and humility to pray daily a version of the serenity prayer for my marriage that goes like this:

Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things about Matt I cannot change, the strength to change the things about ME that I can, and the wisdom to show honor and respect to my husband in every interaction that we have.  

August 9, 2013

The Lonely

*Linking with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday. You have five minutes to write. Period.*

We hear people tell us how big a heart we have for having adopted. How unselfish we are and how lucky our children are to have us. 

Sometimes I try to set them straight. Sometimes I just shake my head. 

But always, I remember this…

Because we have learned to seek God’s wisdom no matter how obvious the choice may seem, when the call came that a baby girl needed a momma and a daddy, as much as our hearts thumped wildly inside of our chests, we asked for a day to pray. To ask for 24 hours was tortuous when all we wanted was to run out to get her. 

But we did. 

And we prayed. 

And as I laid face-down in the room that would eventually become the nursery, I cried out for wisdom and courage to become what I had been dreaming of becoming for several years: a mom. 

I opened my Bible to my favorite book and my eyes fell quickly on these verses:

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy” (Psalm 68:5-6, NLT).

I felt the answer wash over me.

Yes, there was a fatherless baby girl. Yes, God was lovingly caring for her life through the adoption agency. And yes, this would be our baby. But you see, the reason we are not saints with big hearts, unselfish people who just wanted to help someone is because the ones who needed most desperately to be placed in a family, the lonely ones the verses speak of…that was us, not her. 

August 3, 2013

The Little Boy That Saved The Day

Happy birthday, my baby!

Noah is six years old today and, as we celebrate his arrival into the world, I can’t help but reminisce about how his arrival into our home, at one-month old, marked a turning-point in our story that changed the course of our family and saved our marriage.
Six years ago I didn’t know if we would make it. It is strange to say this now when our life is just right, but six years ago the story seemed to be at an end. We had been married six years, and the last one of those had been a nightmare. We should have seen it coming but we didn’t: the stress of two demanding jobs, being parents and forgetting to be a marriage, lack of communication, and selfishness had crept into our marriage quietly and relentlessly until we looked at each other one day and wondered How are we ever going to find our way back to what we used to be?
As Matt was preparing to take a new church in a town a few hours away there was discussion of me staying behind. On my part I was doing all I could to make it happen, finding excuses not to go with him: the house needed selling, the move would mean I would start a new teaching job in the middle of a semester which I did not want to do, if I quit we would lose our health insurance and go down to one income for at least a year. We were broken, lost, and desperate people. The distance between us was widening and neither one could figure out how to reach over and bridge the gap.
But God, oh, this God who goes before me, who is more faithful to me than I could ever be to him, stubbornly refused to let go of us. He had put us together and his mercy would not stop pulling us, prodding us, opening doors to opportunities to regenerate, to find our way back to each other, to obey his law: that which God has joined together, let no one separate (Matthew 19:6b. Emphasis mine).
One night in early August we received a phone call from our adoption agency. A baby was born that needed a family. We were in no position to adopt an infant at the moment. We both understood that another child was not the answer to our broken marriage because new babies can add more stress than almost any other life-changing circumstance. Of course the timing was all wrong. But this baby was Isabel’s biological brother.
How could we say no?
So we sat and we talked. And we renewed commitments. And we worked on things for the first time in a long while. And we realized we had to heal our relationship for these children’s sake if nothing else. They were ours and we had chosen to be their parents and we had to make things right between us. So we did the only thing we knew could help and something we had not done together in a while: we prayed.
And we prayed. And we prayed. And we prayed.
We asked the Lord for a renewal of the love we once had. We asked for wisdom to find the path to restoration. We asked him and each other for forgiveness. We asked for strength to obey him, for courage to follow through, for faith that He could help us, and for a heart turned upwards and not inwards. And we cried out together for his presence in our marriage.
And when we got up from our knees it was decided: we would bring Noah home, we would leave the house to sell itself, we would deal with the job and loss of insurance and loss of income, and I would move with Matt to start afresh again. We would trust God to help us do what seemed impossible to save our family.
And He delivered. As He always does.
One by one God closed the doors to my excuses and provided an answer to each of my But, Lord… Because of Noah, I was given both health insurance and paid maternity leave from my last job while I waited to start on the new one. Because I was on maternity leave I was hired to start a new teaching job mid-year, in January, in our new town. The house sold, not quickly, but quickly enough. And even though we were the poorest we had been in a while we lacked nothing.
As a testimony to God’s incredible power and grace, we were experiencing most of the worst stressors that a marriage can withstand at the same time: a new town, a new job, a new baby and a toddler, going from a house to a two bedroom apartment, the financial burden of the adoption, and the loss of one income.
Yet we had never been so happy.
This time we were dealing with life’s difficulties from our knees together. God’s timing in bringing Noah to our lives changed the end of our story. And while I don’t advocate adding a child to your family to save your marriage, his arrival shook us awake from our selfishness and self-centeredness. God had a bigger plan for us and we had a responsibility not only to survive but to thrive as a couple not only for the sake of Isabel and Noah’s future, but for ours as well.
As I thank God today for this little baby who came in the nick of time to a hurting family and saved the day, I am reminded in a small way of another little One who came more than two thousand years ago to a hurting world to save all who would believe in him.
Thank you, Jesus, for Noah’s life and for the one You gave so I could be telling this story today.

July 14, 2013

Paper Altars

I journal to remember.  

In my bookshelves there are volumes of my life. I write in the sad times and I write in the happy times and sometimes, in the in-betweens. I write prayers, poems, psalms. I write sobs, laughter, and screams. I write whys, whens, wheres, and hows. 

I write when I can't pray and I write when I can't keep it inside anymore. There are days of never ending ink of praise and thanksgiving and there are blank pages with only the date on top and I know those were days of deep pain and disappointment.

I write for the days when God seems to be silent and hidden. For the days when I wonder if anyone is listening to these ramblings of my soul. I write to remember that He has always been faithful and He will be faithful again. I write love letters and dear John letters and why-have-you-forsaken-me letters and I-will-always-love-you letters to the same One reader to whom I have been writing for almost 20 years.

I go back and write the date of the answers to the prayers I have bled into the paper. There are many, many "yes! yes! yes, child, yes!" and many, many "child, this time you need to wait" and many, many "no, child, not this" 

And I rejoice. Anyway. Even then. 

Because I know there will be a date next to each prayer. Some dates are separated by years and years and some by mere hours and some are still date-less.  But a date will come because He listens, and He sees, and He loves.

So I journal to remember

Each volume is an altar. A place of remembrance. Of sacrifice and offering. Of prayer and praise. Like Noah and Abraham and Joshua before me I build altars of thanksgiving made with words instead of stones, paper Ebenezers to the God who goes before me.

Because my mind is forgetful and my heart is weak. Because He has said taste and see that the Lord is good, and when the darkness descends and uncertainty threatens, and when He seems far away and the path is crooked, and when I am hopeless and I feel alone, I pull out a tome of our story, His and mine, and read, and read, and read. 

I read until the memories of His never-failing, never-wavering, never-leaving love come alive again and build towers of refuge around me, and I can continue this journey secure not in the feeling but in the fact that throughout the best and worst times of my life Jesus has held me by the hand. 

May 17, 2013

Read a story, help a cause!

My beautiful imaginary-blog friend turned real friend, Amy, sent an email a while back about CausePub. If you don't know Amy, you don't know that her blog's mission is to introduce people to big and small ways to change the world. She is constantly posting about organizations, ideas, and projects in which average people like you and I can become involved and that will help make a difference in the lives of others.

CausePub, she told us, is looking for stories for a book they want to publish and the proceeds will go towards helping people in Africa to have clean water. Stories to help people, you say? 

I'm all there.

So I went to the CausePub website to find out more about it and what I found out made me want to help. From their website: "CausePub is a community of story-tellers working together to create best-selling books that directly impact specific causes."

Basically, CausePub wants to get a bunch of storytellers to submit stories for a book called Couch Rebels. A Couch Rebel is someone who got up from the couch and had a life changing experience. They say it best: "While the rest of society is imitating potatoes, you’re learning, growing, and experiencing the incredible things life has to offer."

Once the book is published they hope to sell 15,000 copies and for every book sold, an organization called Blood: Water Mission will be able to provide three people in Africa with clean water for one year.

Isn't that awesome!? That's 45,000 people for 15,000 books!

So how can you help and why am I telling you about this? Well, the stories that are published will be chosen based on a few criteria; one of them is number of votes. can help me by going here and voting for my story, can go here and vote for any story you like such as Amy's right here, and/ can commit to buying a book when it comes out. Judging from the stories submitted it will be a very cool book to own.
I hope you would take a moment to check this out. You can help make a difference with a few minutes and a few clicks.

Easy as pie.

May 10, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Comfort

When you are five or seven, a broken heart, a monster haunting a dream, a stubbed toe can all be comforted wrapped in the arms of the one who loves you the most. Comfort is the warm lap of the woman who would give her life for you and whose tears mingle with yours because she can't bear to see you hurting.

But where do thirty-five-year-olds go when they are too big for momma's lap, or momma lives too far away, or they are simply too grown-up to crawl into a parents' arms for comfort? Are hearts not broken after childhood? Do monsters not haunt our dreams any longer? Do we not hurt physically and emotionally anymore?

When you are thirty-five, a broken heart, a hurting body, haunted dreams, and shattered hopes can be comforted in the arms of the One who loves you the most. Comfort is found in the Word of the One who gave his life for you and whose tears mingle with yours because He can't bear to see you hurting.

He is your Father, your Abba, your Lord. And like a child you can come and find the comfort you seek in the arms of your Savior.

"But I have stilled and quieted myself, just as a small child is quite with its mother. Yes, like a small child is my soul within me." Psalm 131:2 (NLT).

**Linking with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday**

May 2, 2013

Pride and Prejudice (well, maybe more like Pride and Humility)

They say the first step towards recovery is to admit you have a problem. 

I admit it. 

I have a problem. 

I have a problem with pride that has reared its ugly head for a few months now. So last night I laid it all out to the women of my Bible study. We are studying the Book of James and James, man, James does not strive to treat you gently. He will lift you off your feet, shake you like a rag doll, and set you down roughly. And this week, he did me in again.

I have not written for a while and it took some wrestling to figure this out. I don't write consistently. True. I tend to write when something gets a hold of me and I have to put words to it. But lately there have been stories floating around me that I just can't seem to pin down. I'll start one and never finish it. My virtual waste basket is full of wadded pieces of paper with discarded ideas. But it took an ancient writer to confront me and point out the truth to me: you don't write because you don't write like her, her or her.

James has harsh words for jealousy but I sat smug in my chair. That is a illness from which I don't suffer. I don't envy these bloggers. I'm not jealous of them. I celebrate them. I encourage them with comments. I share their sites with my friends. 

But then he got to humility and my smugness turned to conviction.

I have read post after post about not comparing yourself to other writers, about writing the story God gave you, about how even if one life is touched by your words it is worth doing it. I know. I know. I agree. I've uttered those words. And yet... I'm struggling to accept that God can use anything less than this right here

And so, my friends, this is pride. 

"If I cannot write like that, I will not write at all," says my heart stubbornly, in essence denying that God is smart enough to know what gift and to what measure and for what purpose is ours to have.

I know God has called me to write. I know He has given me tools. I know when I write I am changed and I know that some of you also walk away a little different. So why is that not good enough for me? James would not mince words in telling me that it is because I lack humility to accept my place in the Kingdom of God. 

Joan Chittister said that "humility is the admission of God's gifts to me and the acknowledgement that I have been given them for others." Pride is forgetting where those gifts came from but it is also discarding His good gifts and His holy calling in our lives because they are not as important/developed/talent-full/necessary/interesting as other people's.

It was an epiphany. 

I have to stop hiding behind my excuses that I only write when I "feel" it, or that maybe God is not really calling me to write, or that I just don't have the time. The truth is I suffer from pride when it comes to my writing. And the road to recovery will be long because those amazing writers are still out there writing away. Temptation to compare and to desist will keep coming. But I took the first step and it was tough: I admitted it. And not just to myself. To a room full of women who know me.

The cure for what ails me is a dose of humility. And there is nothing more humbling that to speak it out loud: I am prideful.

So here is to step two: hit "publish" and pray for the Lord to continue to teach me who He's called me to be.

March 8, 2013


**Linking with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Fridays. What can you write in five minutes about Home?**

We've moved a lot. Two states, three cities, and five houses in twelve years. I know to some that is nothing. But this girl grew up well-rooted in the same house her grandmother built. My people stay. They are not the sedentary kind.

I knew when I married him that pastors migrate. That's what we do. We move. So home is an elusive word for me. And having my heart in two countries just makes it harder. Is "home" Ecuador, where I grew up? Is "home" my mother's house in Kansas where I've never lived? Where do I go when I go "home" for a holiday?

My life is not to stay put. My kids won't grow up in the same house and come home from college to the house where they took their first step. That is just not how we roll and it is not what we were called to do, this family.

So home for me is where he is. And where she lays her head at night. And where he plays with his bear. Home is where all four of us gather at night, regardless of continent, state, or house. They are my home because He has moved heaven and earth for a boy from South Carolina to meet a girl from Quito, Ecuador to become parents of two children who look nothing like us.

I am home when I am with them. 

                                                               Any time. Anywhere. 

March 4, 2013

Choose this day...

This morning I discovered the remnants of three bad choices Isabel made yesterday. To disobey, to sneak, and to disregard caution. By her own admission she had a "bad" day.

I sent her to her room while I collected myself. My downfall is my temper and disobedience is a sure way to set it off. So, following a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit that I am learning not to ignore, I asked her to go elsewhere while I sought some wisdom and diffused the blood that was boiling inside me.

I sat on her bed ready to hand down consequences and was, once again, amazed by the depth of insight of my small child. I was going through the obligatory lecture about obedience and obeying parents to learn to obey God and my job of teaching her to do both when she stopped me with these words:

- "But, I have to be who I am."

-" What? What do you mean?"

-"I am a person and I am who I am and I don't know how to stop sneaking and doing bad things."

This seven year old understood, without understanding, the core of our depravity. We are who we are and we don't know how to be different. And often we don't want to.

So we talked about God's grace and his power to transform us into the people He wants us to be. We talked about consequences of our choices and the importance of learning to obey the Lord while we are young. And we talked about ways to withstand temptation. All in all a good conversation.

But the most crucial nugget of that conversation, the one I credit to the Holy Spirit itself, was this:

- "Every day, Isabel, there are voices calling for your attention and every day you make a choice of whose voice you will listen to."

I opened my Bible and showed her what Joshua told the Israelites in his last speech to the nation. "Choose this day whom you will for me and my family, we will serve the Lord" (24: 15b).

- "You can choose to serve yourself, Isabel, what you want, what you need, what you feel like doing. You can choose to listen to your own voice telling you that your desires are more important than the teachings we are giving you. And you can spend the day worrying that we will find out. Ashamed and fearful. Or you can choose to serve God and never have to hide what you did or fear the consequences. Which one sounds like a better life to you?"

Even a seven year old can figure that one out.

So I made signs that say: "Choose this day whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15" and hung them, child eye-level, around the house, on the refrigerator door, on the mirror of her bathroom, on the entrance of our classroom. Because this concept she understood and  it is my job to teach her, to help her, and to remind her while she lives under my care.

But also to remind myself that every morning, I, too, have a choice to make. We all serve someone no matter what. It's who we are. So we choose. Every day. And we should choose wisely because how we choose will not only affect us but also our children, our husbands, and all we encounter in a day.

I know it is a choice I cannot make on my own. I don't have the strength. I can only make seeking God's grace which daily allows me to say with Joshua: "As for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.

February 8, 2013


Today I'm joining with Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday. You have five minutes to write. This week's topic: Bare. 

If I bare my soul to you, would you still love me? If you knew all my shortcomings, my mistakes, my past sins, would you still call me friend? Could you bare your heart to me and trust that I would not betray you or discard you? Could we be that transparent with each other?

There would be healing if we were. 

I would hold you and tell you that you are not alone. You would take my hand and tell me to forgive myself for I have already been forgiven. 

We would cry together and remember that a burden shared is lighter on the shoulders.

But we walk past each other with the mask of a smile. We say “fine” and “great” and “wonderful” when we mean “broken” and “hurt” and “ashamed.” 

And I don’t know why.

Sister, let me into your world. Let me be your safe place and be mine as well. Let me pray for you and feel your prayers over me. I covet your arm around my shoulders holding me up when I want to crumble. I yearn to hear Christ speaking through you with words of peace and comfort and renewal.

And I long to speak such love and healing into your life as well. 

February 5, 2013

For the heart in chains...

It's so easy for a heart to be put in chains. 

It only takes an unkind word, an unjust situation, an unfair accusation for a heart to go in bondage under the pain. 

And it weighs. 

It is heavier than a boulder inside your chest. The iron shackles surround it and threaten to drown it in grief. 

The offender wraps the first few chains around it and we add the rest link by link.

When we refuse to forgive, when we feed the thoughts of revenge, when we verbally assault the wrongdoer in our minds, arguing for days with their memory, always winning: sometimes with reason, sometimes with ugly words, sometimes with righteous anger, but always winning. 

Relishing the idea of a confrontation where we come out victorious, but forgetting that when a relationship is broken, nobody really walks away the winner. The real confrontation is rarely as we imagined. There is no penitence on the offender's part, no ready apology, no bowed brow or downcast eyes. There is defensiveness, and frustration, and truth flung back at us that we may not want to hear. It is often messy, always hurtful, and many times disappointing.

So how will this heart lose the chains of having been wounded that are pulling it deeper and deeper into darkness? 

Only when we forgive the undeserving, the one who does not even think he requires mercy, the one who will never utter the words we long to hear. Only then. Only when we give the pain back to the One who suffered like no other and more unjustly than any other, for him to take and to exchange us for peace and mercy. Only then. Only when we let go of the desire to confront, the right to speak our piece, the need for an apology. Only then.

"Come to me, you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest," He said. 

There is no heavier burden than un-forgiveness. There is no more wearisome life than the life of the offended. 

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light," He said. 

There is no harder yoke than the yoke of self-righteousness. There is no stronger bondage than the bondage of anger. And there is no emptier existence than the existence of those who don't know how to unburden themselves of these shackles.

"I have come that they may have life to the fullest," He said

When a heart is drowning in the pain resulting from living with others just as flawed and sinful as itself, grab onto Him who is Life himself and let Him pull you out of the mud of tears and the mire of shattered friendships, and set your feet right back onto the rock of his grace and forgiveness that will then flow out of you and onto others and... 

Set you free.