Saturday, April 30, 2011

you're welcome :)


new every morning

It's been a hard day to be an adoptive mom.

Hearing her talk about her birthmother nonstop. Nonstop. Nonstop. It's a new phase we seem to be in. No memory of her. Just wants to talk about how she was a baby in her "birth mother's" tummy. All. The. Time. I know it's healthy to process through. But this level of constancy is getting o-l-d.

Likely connected to this phase, has come a period of trial and testing. So much so that we had to hear the hard but honest words from her sister, "I wish we'd never ... " (well, you know). And in that moment, you couldn't blame her. In a day's time she'd had her ipod reset to Chinese, she'd been hit in the back of the head with a book, she'd been grossed out at our girls-only-lunch-date by a half chewed chip being spit into the community bowl of salsa, and she'd had her blankets bitten. Yes, I said her bed blankets were bitten. And slobbered all over. So, who could blame her with the, "I wish we'd never..." comment. But it hurts. I know she doesn't mean it and I know she feels guilty not only for saying it but for thinking it. I know because that's how I've felt when I've thought it...

It's been a hard day. Yes. Harder than most, for sure. But as I put my daughter down to bed, I sang to her (as I always do). I stroked her forehead and sang,

I'll love you forever
And I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be
The steadfast Love of the Lord never ceases
His mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning
New every morning
Great is thy faithfulness O Lord
Great is they faithfulness

And I breathed a prayer, that our Good God would hit her and I (and her sister) with a double dose tomorrow morning. Three hours and 52 minutes to go ... (weak grin).

pondering parenting: one change at a time

Parenting our kids, we've found it's overwhelming to think about all the goals we have for them - all the character flaws we see that need direction - to consider all that at once is too much. So we sit outside on the front porch and drink wine together (my husband and I, not the kids ;) ) and talk about what matters most. What do we want to hone in on. Then, the next day we talk to him or her about it. And we work on it, all of us, together.

But you know what's infinitely more impactful on our family life?

When we do this with our selves. The parents.

Parenting better means parenting myself better. It means sitting with God, identifying what (in my life) is most in need of work, and committing to work on it - Together. It's intentional. It's exhausting. It's Holy-Spirit-Glory-Strength kind of work. But the payoff for correcting one bad parent-behavior is equal to a hundred bad child-behaviors.

For example? Well, I remember the day I decided not to Y-E-L-L at my children across a crowd anymore. I don't know if I read something or if an older wiser mother pointed it out or if God just revealed to me, "Hey love, this habit is ugly. Put it off and put on a new one." However it was brought to my attention, I distinctly remember becoming aware that every time I corrected my (then) wee ones by Y-E-L-L-I-N-G across a crowd, I was drawing attention to them as the "bad kids". I was painting a bulls-eye on them in the eyes of everyone else. Not only that, but when I addressed them that way ... they didn't listen. The yelling at them to listen would turn into chasing after them. It was ugly all around. Disrespectful. Ineffective. Tiring. Depressing.

So I changed. I started calmly calling them to me. I started asking them to take my hands in theirs and look me in the eye. And I started talking with them. Privately. Quietly. For this to work I first had to train them to come to me when I called their name. We played games where they'd hide and I'd call a name. The child I called would reply, "Coming mom!" and run to me as fast as they could. It was fun. Then I expected that whenever we were out. It took training but it stuck. When we're consistent, it's awesome. When we're not, I'm reminded to be more intentional.

We added a new twist. When I need all of them at once I call "Huddle!" and we
pull in close like a sports' team to talk. I love this because I can still see us calling family huddles no matter how old we all get.

And can I just say? Wow. Night and day. Effective. Respectful. Impactful. And it feels good, too. Read: not depressing.

Now, this may seem like common sense. And it is. It's not profound to suggest that it's better pull someone aside than to yell at them in front of God and everybody. But to put it into practice? Regular rhythm-of-life practice? To put off an old habit and put on a new one? Well, that takes a lot more than common sense. It takes conviction. Consistency. Discipline.

Kind of like training a two year old.

But I'll say it again.

In our families, the payoff for correcting one bad parent-behavior is equal to a hundred bad child-behaviors.

Friday, April 29, 2011


I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren't pretty, or smart, or young. They're still princesses. All of us. Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he? ~A Little Princess

Thursday, April 28, 2011

pondering snark

One of my greatest temptations is to criticism, sarcasm, and a snarky attitude. Biting my tongue to keep myself from saying something ugly, I'm learning, doesn't make me a hypocrite. It's just one way of keeping my sinfulness from spreading to others.

I can justify all day long why I woke up this morning wanting to jump online and say something brilliantly cutting about the fact that I'm embarrassed at our country, for having treated its first black President like a non-citizen (I almost said second class citizen but that's not true). I want to call out the injustice, racism, and other-isms ("his name sounds Muslim") inherent in this situation. And we should. But if (when?) I do, I must do so with humility. Until I can speak that way, I must not speak at all. At least that is my conviction, today.

And as my heart broke for the people who have lost their lives in Alabama in last night's storms and tornadoes, another temptation crept into my mind and fingertips (another "tongue", as far as we writers go). I wanted to be snarky and ask whether the people of the southeast, the beautiful land we drove through just last week, had done something to "deserve" this "judgement". Many are quick to point out why others deserve what comes to them. What's the reason here? Again, to speak boldly and truthfully about injustice and hypocrisy is needful in its proper place. But with pleasure? With a triumphal spirit? With a desire to get a laugh or a thumbs up or a big ole pat on the back? No. That's just me being puffed up about how right I think I am. That's me pushing my way forward to the most honored seat at the table. And that's sick.

My point is that a lot of my walk these days is about testing myself. Checking myself. Inspecting my motives. Trying to confess the ugliness (there is so much of it) before it escapes me and infects others. Longing for it to disappear not only from my words but from my thoughts and heart. It will be a process to last a lifetime, I am certain.

Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. You'll be a blessing and also get a blessing.

Whoever wants to embrace life
and see the day fill up with good,
Here's what you do:
Say nothing evil or hurtful;
Snub evil and cultivate good;
run after peace for all you're worth.
I Peter 3, The Message

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

hard to improve on Bono

That there’s a force of love and logic behind the universe is overwhelming to start with, if you believe it. But the idea that that same love and logic would choose to describe itself as a baby born in shit and straw and poverty, is genius. And brings me to my knees, literally.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

a good read

a friend shared this with me: Remodeling Hell by Brad Jersak

I was touched by this recollection

As a sensitive little boy...

I accepted in good faith

the word of camp counselors

who described the fate of the

lost as we stoked orange

coals during late night

marshmallow roasts.

What about the unchurched

cousins I loved so dearly?

God loved them, but if they

didn’t love him back, he would

skewer them on an everlasting

rotisserie—just like the stick I

used for roasting my


And appreciate this excerpt:
That said, the data summarized
herein did lead me to four conclusions,
which you may or may not
share after all is said and done:

1. We cannot presume to know
that all will be saved or that any
will not be saved.

2. The revelation of God in
Christ includes real warnings about
the possibility of damnation for
some and also the real possibility
that redemption may extend to all.

3. We not only dare hope and
pray that God’s mercy would finally
triumph over judgment; the love
of God obligates us to such hope
4. Revelation 21–22 provides a
test case for a biblical theology of
eschatological hope.

Monday, April 25, 2011

pondering parenting - it doesn't just happen

I'm told some pretty amazing things about Eric and I and our family and our kids. Sometimes (a lot of the time) I feel like it's wrong. Like we should do a better job of highlighting all the ways we screw up and fail, so people aren't fooled. But then that feels very much like some whacked out false humility martyrdom weirdness of its own sort. So I just say thank You - not "thank you" to the giver of the compliment (well, that too) but more importantly "thank You" to the giver of every good and perfect gift. The giver of Grace.

And with that I'm led to ponder ... because ... well ... wow, how do I say this?

There is some seriously suckish parenting going on out there folks.

Let's get real.

Effective parenting doesn't just happen.

And yet it can't be about effort, either. Some of the worst parenting is done in the light of trying too hard. And a lot of it is done in the "name of Christ".

So what IS it? What makes the difference? As if I know. Well, I know a bit. For what it's worth ...

It's NOT working up enough will power to perfectly execute an external system. We tried that.
And yet gleaning wisdom from others, learning from their path, is essential.

It's NOT about control and being rigid.

And yet consistency is EVERYTHING.

There's so much both/and wrapped up in it all, see?

Here's what the real clincher is, in my mind, tonight.

It's living loved.

If you're loved - if you're BELOVED - being loved - if you live that, breathe that, if you are FULL UP of God/grace/love ... you are, by default, motivated to parent well. As you are motivated to love well in all your relationships. It's always going to be about the other person. That will be the motivation.

You are motivated because you are humble. You don't hate the weaknesses you see in your kids because you no longer despise them in yourself. You see them for what they are. You lift them up to your OWN Father, who you trust to lovingly restore you.

You are motivated because you are at peace. It doesn't matter who sees your kid scream and kick. What matters is what he or she needs. What's at stake is what matters, not someone else's opinion. You don't need anything from anyone because you are at peace with God. This peace motivates every relationship - especially parenting.

You are motivated because of the joy. Sure, it's hard. But for the joy set before you, you walk the path day after day. You have joy in the journey, hard and tiring as it is, because you have HOPE. The giver of every good and perfect gift has you and yours in the palm of His hand and He has sworn Himself to never let you go. There is joy in the simplest things of life.

Speaking of hope, you are motivated by that as well. Your worst fears are never the worst. Hope that God's heart is truly, fully good. That He loves every person you love infinitely more than you do. The solid conviction that this is not a trite theological "ism" or a Hallmark quote - it is the Really Real. Hope in the heart of The Good God is an incomparable motivator.

Parenting - loving kids, consistently training them, walking alongside them - it's more than hard. It's impossible. We fail every day. And yet we are okay with that. Not okay in the sense that we throw our hands in the air and just keep screwing up. No. It is our greatest goal and focus to bring up children who love God and love others - who trust Him fully - who trust us and remain connected to us and each other no matter what - who bring His Kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven to everyone they meet. We are intentional about that. We are okay in our imperfection but that doesn't take a thing away from our intentionality.

Imperfect, yet ever intentional.

But never intentionally imperfect.

(for what it's worth...)

We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.~Colossians 1, The Message

pondering after-Easter

That same day two of them were walking to the village Emmaus, about seven miles out of Jerusalem. They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened. In the middle of their talk and questions, Jesus came up and walked along with them. But they were not able to recognize who he was.

He asked, "What's this you're discussing so intently as you walk along?"

They just stood there, long-faced, like they had lost their best friend. Then one of them, his name was Cleopas, said, "Are you the only one in Jerusalem who hasn't heard what's happened during the last few days?"

He said, "What has happened?"

They said, "The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene. He was a man of God, a prophet, dynamic in work and word, blessed by both God and all the people. Then our high priests and leaders betrayed him, got him sentenced to death, and crucified him. And we had our hopes up that he was the One, the One about to deliver Israel. And it is now the third day since it happened. But now some of our women have completely confused us. Early this morning they were at the tomb and couldn't find his body. They came back with the story that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. Some of our friends went off to the tomb to check and found it empty just as the women said, but they didn't see Jesus."

Then he said to them, "So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can't you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don't you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?" Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

They came to the edge of the village where they were headed. He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: "Stay and have supper with us. It's nearly evening; the day is done." So he went in with them. And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him. And then he disappeared.

Back and forth they talked. "Didn't we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?"

They didn't waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: "It's really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!"
Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, "Peace be with you." They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death. He continued with them, "Don't be upset, and don't let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it's really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn't have muscle and bone like this." As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. They still couldn't believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.

He asked, "Do you have any food here?" They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.

Then he said, "Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled."

He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, "You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem! You're the first to hear and see it. You're the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you're equipped with power from on high."

He then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.

~Luke 24

Saturday, April 23, 2011

added to my kindle wish list

I can't wait to read the latest book out by Miroslav Volf, Allah: A Christian Response.

Scot McKnight shared this quote and hooked me:

Monotheism is inherently inclusive because if there is one God then that one God is for all people.

Sounds like much to ponder.

Friday, April 22, 2011

good friday AND earth day

Today we remember when our Brother Jesus gave Himself for all. We join Him as He prays, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do" on behalf of us all. We call this day Good Friday.

Father, forgive us. Raise us back to life. Make us new.

Today is also Earth Day. How beautiful that both fall on the same day this year!

As the kids watch a bit of Nickelodeon this morning, I keep hearing,

"Save the planet"
"Turn something old into something new"
"Waste nothing"
"We're all responsible for one another"

oh how theological these statements are, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see...

Father open our eyes and our ears and our hearts.


Gungor says it best in their song Dry Bones:
You're the one who saves us
Constantly creates us
Into something new
Surely You will find us
Surely our Messiah
Will make all things new
You make all things new

of course, one can't help but sing Gungor songs and think God-thoughts while spending spring break here...

Monday, April 18, 2011

pondering approval

We are currently in the midst of a 2,000+ mile spring break road trip that will take us from Charlotte, NC to Lake Charles, LA in a wide circle with many stops in between. It's offered a few unique opportunities to ponder life, as the 6 of us tour the southeast in a Mazda 5, crammed in like clowns in a circus car.

The initial drive from Charlotte to Knoxville was about 4 hours. Once there, we met up with my husband's aunt at a Cracker Barrel. She, the waitor, and random customers who just happened to be nearby all repeatedly commented on how well behaved and sweet our children are. With four of them so close in age, we draw a lot of attention. I genuinely appreciated their observing that the children are polite, well mannered, happy, and just good natured in general. Our kids are not "typical" so these heart-felt compliments mean a lot - it's lovely when others enjoy your children as much as you do.

And yet...

By the time we got to Nashville, that same evening, we'd driven for over 8 hours in severe storms. The same kids who'd received so much praise in Cracker Barrel at lunch were now drawing glares and stares in Jason's Deli at dinner. They weren't being BAD, really, they just couldn't have been still if their lives had depended on it. Sitting in the booth, they might as well have been on those bouncy-balls-with-handles ... you know the ones you sit on and hop like mad? That was them in the booth. People literally got up and moved away from us. I could only shake my head and smile to myself as we encouraged them to exercise self control. Because this, too, is reality.

Approval and praise one hour.

Glares and stares the next.

"What amazing parents you are!"

"Why don't they make those kids behave???"

Aren't we glad we don't live under a performance oriented reality? Aren't we thankful for grace? Oh, the beauty of knowing that my identity is not tied into how I (or my kids) impress others.

The freedom.

The peace.


Thank You Father. Because of You and Your love, I know better.

(and for the record, we've now made it as far as New Orleans and they are doing A-W-E-S-O-M-E)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

pondering good company

When I was asked to write the parent column for Autism Asperger's Digest I was beyond excited when I received the first issue of the new format in the mail. There on the contributing authors page was my name and picture. And right below it ... Temple Grandin's! Temple Grandin and I write for the same digest. Talk about a high point! (I've since met her, but she wouldn't remember me from Adam)

Well, today is a bit like that for me, too. Dr. Richard Beck cited George MacDonald and I in the same post.

Be still my heart.

christ centered and an inquisition of love

I woke today with this song in my head. Which is interesting because I haven't heard it recently. But I love it. I affirm what it says. Which gets me to my point.

People seem to need to hear me say certain words. Like "Christ centered". Interesting.

How can He be anything BUT the center? He is the Really Real. He is All in All. Everything is held together by Him. He is the beginning and the end. If I go to heaven, He is there - if I go to hell, He is there. The earth is His and everything in it. Everything. Everyone. Alpha. Omega. Beginning. End. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is with the poor and the brokenhearted and the contrite. The Great I AM. THE way. THE truth. THE life. Not one of or the best of many or the right one, THE.


So, for those who need to hear it, I affirm a completely Christ centered theology. Absolutely. The cross and resurrection are not only central, they are EVERYTHING.

But guess what me saying that amounts to?

Pretty much... diddly.

Know why? Cause I can say words all day long. I can affirm creeds all day long. I can sit here and type a frickin diatribe about what I say I believe about Jesus. But here's the deal... that Christ who IS the center (whether we say so or not), said some words too. And His words teach me that what I say I believe is worthless if His Spirit isn't given free reign in my life.

In other words, if I'm not intentionally loving, He may look me straight between the eyes and say, "I don't know you." That thought should send chills up our spines. It does mine. What does that even MEAN? I don't for a moment think it means we (or anyone else) is without hope. We are HIS. I trust myself and all I care about to His good care, judgement and all. But I do think it matters - oh, it matters! The very thought makes me wretch and drives me to my knees in prayer and surrender.

So if we're going to hold one another to inquisition, make it a real one. Words matter - yes. But it's too easy to simply say the right words.

Let's get real. He told us how we'd recognize each other. By seeing HIM in each other. By an inquisition ... of love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

pondering fairness

Raising 4 kids, 2 with diagnosed "special needs", you get used to saying something to the effect of: "fair doesn't mean everyone gets the same, it means everyone gets what they need". And it's funny ... but, the truth is I almost never HAVE to say that. They get it. That makes perfect sense to them. They're completely cool with it. And they're kids.

Honestly I think the legal voting age should max out at 18, not begin there. Because I look around, I listen to people, and I shake my head ... so many adults have things upside down.

Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God's kingdom. ~Jesus

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

thoughts about love and free will and winning

Our daughter has cerebral palsy. It is mild, milder now than it was when she first came home at 5 years old. Her time in the orphanage had not allowed for much stimulation so her condition was worse than it needed to be. Over the past 2 1/2 years she has made tremendous progress; our word for her is "resilient". But it should be noted that our actions toward her have not always felt like love. She has not always chosen of her own free will to submit to our love. She has screamed, yelled, cried, kicked at times, "STOP!!!!!!" When I am at my best, when I am parenting from the strength of the Holy Spirit, I respond with a calm, loving, steady, "I'll never stop." I haven't and I won't. And so far, I've always won.

Won what? Not always the moment, but the day ... and I pray ... the life. Her heart. Forever. I can't say that has happened yet. I wouldn't dare to. But I believe in it. I hope for it with a hope that is both confident and sure. What I CAN say is that at the end of the day, no matter how hard its been, she's found - of her own free will/desire - in my arms, joyfully soaking up my love, grateful for me as I am for her, the two of us connected. And that's the point, really.

We lived an example of this over the weekend, while taking a walk together. It was a "therapy walk" where I focused on helping her right arm to stay relaxed rather than held tight to her body in a spastic position. The muscles have learned to stay that way because of the CP, but they can un-learn, they can relax. When she is conscious of it, you can say, "Relax your arm sweetie" and she will. She can, though it's not natural for her. I know that walking that way isn't good for her. It's not her best. It is minor, yes, but it will have a lifelong effect on her life. And so, we walked. When her arm would pull up tight I'd gently straighten it, massage the muscles a few seconds, and then let it go. And it would hang naturally, swinging with her gait in a healthy way, for a few seconds. Then, subconsciously, she'd pull it tight again. As I continued to gently correct this, she became agitated with me. The screaming set in, the demanding, "STOP!!"

And that's when I thought about free will and love and winning.

Some argue with me that when a person demands of their own free will to be left alone, Love gives them that. Love leaves them alone. God leaves them alone.

Well, I can only say that while I was walking down the sidewalk of Davidson Saturday a lightbulb blinked on in my brain and, in a very matter of fact way, I realized the answer to that is ... bullshit.


When I'm at my WORST, when I don't have my daughter's best interest at heart, when I am tired or impatient or angry or selfish, I throw my hands in the air and say, "Fine, have it your way. I'm done." And I leave her alone.

But when I'm at my BEST, I say, "Honey, I love you. I'll never stop." I stay with her through the hard moments, right there beside her, till she works through her frustration and gets on the other side where she's enjoying the victory. In this example, we struggled together, but together we also got to the place where her arm was swinging naturally for looooong spans of time. This was a huge win! For her! For me? Sure! Because her good is my good. Her heart is my heart. We are together. We are connected. I can't win at her expense. Winning will ultimately mean winning HER, and all that is good for her.

I'm not trying to prove anything. This is not a theory. It's an observation. And one thing I won't argue with anyone is my own ability to recognize the difference between Spirit and flesh, Love and not-love. Those moments when I live out of flesh ... those do not what show me what God is like. Those are rooted in pride and evil. Those are all about me. It doesn't take a rocket scientist (or a theologian) to figure that out. But those moments when Love pours out free as a river ... I won't allow anyone to call that "not God". No mercy in me is from myself, it is from Him. No desire for others' good is from myself, it is from Him. My flesh wants what self wants, and believe me, she can be a real bitch when she wants what she wants. The difference between flesh and Spirit is plain as day, when the eyes of my heart are open.

Scripture teaches us that "wanting what self wants" is the root of the problem, and that there was a time (as we read in Romans 1) when our Father gave us over to that. But He doesn't leave us there! Heave forbid! Later in Romans 7 we read, "Who will rescue me from this? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!" and in Romans 8 we read that NOTHING will separate us from His Love.


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(he didn't write the words "sinful prideful stubborn free will" in there exactly but I've got a feeling they're included in the words NOR ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION)

So... what? Bottom line: we don't know what we want because we're screwed up. Sometimes, when you're screwed up, Love actually hurts. We run from it - tell it to go away. We even nail It to a cross and try to kill It. But at the end of the story (which will be the beginning of the New Story), the cross, in my view, is bigger and stronger than our screwed-up-ness. I believe/hope/have confidence that God says, "I'll never stop" and that He means it. I hope/believe/have confidence that He'll end the day with all His children in His arms, of our own free (as in freed-from-its-screwed-up-ness) will, joyfully soaking up His love, grateful for Him as He is for us, connected.

And that's the point, really...

Monday, April 11, 2011

late have I loved you

yes, I'm a bit obsessed. careful - listen and you might be too. enjoy. so beautiful.

Great song from Gungor. You might also enjoy his blog post about Rob Bell's book and the state of the church.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

pondering answered prayers

I wish I had time to write all that has been swimming through my head this weekend. But I don't. So I'll share the bullet points and hopefully come back to build around them, soon.

One of my sons played THE Wizard of Oz in the school play before a packed crowd Friday night. He was 100% in his element and rightly proud of himself. It makes me happy to see him finding his niche.

My other son, our oldest who has Asperger's Syndrome, shared his testimony before our entire church body THREE TIMES today, and was baptized. I am still realizing all the prayers that have been answered through this.

Both sets of grandparents were there. As I listened to others share their stories, I realized how incredibly blessed we are, that both of our parents are 1) together, 2) healthy, 3) nearby, and 4) invested in our lives. Our parents are all these things and more.

I have so much to say about Luke's sharing of the gospel today, hopefully I will get the chance to write more later this week. For now though you can watch/listen here if you haven't already on the other blog. ;)

Friday, April 8, 2011

pondering shame

this is a beautiful post, it makes me think about the power of shame and the healing power of love.

it makes me think about what fear does to people.

it makes me think about our Father and what He wants us to believe about His heart towards us.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

pondering Puddleglum

The Prince and the two children were standing with their heads hung down, their cheeks flushed, their eyes half closed; the strength all gone from them; the enchantment almost complete. But Puddleglum, desperately gathering all his strength, walked over to the fire. Then he did a very brave thing. He knew it wouldn't hurt him quite as much as it would hurt a human; for his feet (which were bare) were webbed and hard and coldblooded like a duck's. But he knew it would hurt him badly enough; and so it did. With his bare foot he stamped on the fire, grinding a large part of it into ashes on the flat hearth. And three things happened at once.

First, the sweet heavy smell grew very much less. For though the whole fire had not been put out, a good bit of it had, and what remained smelled very largely of burnt Marshwiggle, which is not at all an enchanting smell. This instantly made everyone's brain far clearer. The Prince and the children held up their heads again and opened their eyes.

Secondly, the Witch, in a loud, terrible voice, utterly different from all the sweet tones she had been using up till now, called out, "What are you doing? Dare to touch my fire again, mud-filth, and I'll turn the blood to fire inside your veins."

Thirdly, the pain itself made Puddleglum's head for a moment perfectly clear and he knew exactly what he really thought. There is nothing like a good shock of pain for dissolving certain kinds of magic. "One word, Ma'am," he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. "One word. All you've been saying is quite right, I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a playworld which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play-world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we're leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that's a small loss if the world's as dull a place as you say."
~C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Chapter 12: The Queen of Underland

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

pondering Ghandi

I have been reading Ghandi's autobiography. His search for the perfect religion is fascinating. He did not blindly accept Hinduism because he was raised in it. He was open and interested in many religions, and befriended many Christians. Of course they were eager to convert him, and he spent a lot of time in their churches and homes. However, he came to the conclusion that, while Jesus was beautiful and highly regarded, Christianity was not for him. I'm pondering what he said in response to his friend's explanation that all he needed was to accept that Jesus paid the penalty for his sins, and that once he did accept that, he could be at peace and stop trying to be so "good". His reply:

"If this be the Christianity acknowledged by all Christians, I cannot accept it. I do not seek redemption from the consequences of my sin. I seek to be redeemed from sin itself, or rather from the very thought of sin. Until I have attained that end, I shall be content to be restless."

I seek to be redeemed from sin itself.

When I read that I was stopped still.

And I smiled.

For she will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

praying scripture

I wrote this for my Oasis group, as we wrap up our Breaking Free study tomorrow. We will split off individually to pray and journal and mediate, reflecting on what God has shown us in His Word. Here are a few key passages, rewritten into prayers.


pray Galatians 5:1


You set me free


For freedom

You forsook Your own freedom

And took on bondage

Your forsook Your own glory

And took on shame

Give me strength

Give me faith

Give me assurance, then

To refuse to ever again accept a yoke of slavery placed upon me

I am yours and yours alone

Because of You

I am free

I confess that I have run back to the comfort of shackles

I confess that out of fear I cling to what is familiar

I confess that I have cared more what others think than what You say

I confess

Forgive me

I choose You

I choose freedom

Keep me, Lord.


pray Isaiah 61 and Luke 4

Jesus, Savior

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on You

the LORD has anointed You

to proclaim good news to the poor

(reveal to me where I am poor)

He has sent You to bind up the brokenhearted

(reveal to me where I am brokenhearted)

to proclaim freedom for the captives

(reveal to me where I am captive)

and release from darkness for the blind

(reveal to me where I am blind)

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor

(reveal to me Your favor)

and the day of vengeance of our God

(reveal to me where I seek my own vengeance)

to comfort all who mourn

and provide for those who grieve

(comfort me Lord)

to bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes

(I offer up my ashes; I accept the crown of beauty You bestow)

the oil of joy instead of mourning

(I choose joy in the midst of mourning because I choose You)

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

(I reject hopelessness and I stand in worship!)

I will be called an oak of righteousness,

a planting of Yours

for the display of Your splendor.

(I believe this)

We will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; we will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.

(Jesus do this work in and through me. Break generational cycles. Restore Your grace. Bless my family.)

You said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

(fulfill this scripture TODAY, in ME)


pray Isaiah 64 and I Corinthians 2

Since ancient times no one has heard, 

no ear has perceived, 

no eye has seen any God besides You, 

who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

You come to the help of those who gladly do right, 

who remember your ways. 

You have written:

“What no eye has seen, 

what no ear has heard, 

and what no human mind has conceived

are the things You have prepared for those of us who love You—

these are the things You have revealed to me by Your Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of You, God.

What I have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from You, so that I may understand what You have freely given me.

For I have the mind of Christ.

I choose to surrender to the Spirit

to the mind of Christ

to the will of the Father

I accept all that You freely offer

I am yours.

Keep me Lord.

Keep me strong in my mind.

Renew my mind.

I reject lies and cling to truth.

I confess that I have been lazy in my thoughts.

I confess that I have made agreeents with the evil one

I confess that I have believed less of You

and less of myself

I have the mind of Christ.

No longer do I live, but Christ lives in me.

Breath by breath.

I choose to abide in You.

pray Isaiah 43

I will not fear, for You have redeemed me;

You have summoned me by name; I am Yours.

When I pass through the waters,

You will be with me;

and when I pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over me.

When I walk through the fire,

I will not be burned;

the flames will not set me ablaze.

For You am the LORD your God,

the Holy One of Israel, my Savior;

Since I am precious and honored in Your sight,

and because You love me,

I will not be afraid, for You are with me;

I am your witnesses and your servant whom You have chosen, 

so that I may know and believe You and understand that You are God. 

Before You no god was formed, 

nor will there be one after You. 

You, even You, are the LORD, 

and apart from You there is no savior. 

You have revealed and saved and proclaimed.

I am your witness that You are God. 

Yes, and from ancient days You are God. 

No one can deliver out of Your hand. 

When You act, who can reverse it?”

I forget the former things; 
I do not dwell on the past. 

You are doing a new thing! Now it springs up; make me to perceive it. 

You are making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

You, even You, are He who blots out my transgressions, for Your own sake, 

and remembers my sins no more. 

pray Isaiah 48 and Psalm 42

You are God, my God,

You teach me how to live right and well.

You show me what to do, where to go.

If I had listen to what You tell me,

my life will flow full like a river,

blessings rolling in like waves from the sea.

I believe You, Lord.

A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;

I want to drink You, deep draughts of You.

I'm thirsty for You.

I wonder, "Will I ever make it—

arrive and drink in Your presence?"

I'm on a diet of tears— tears for breakfast, tears for supper.

All day long people knock at my door,

Pestering, "Where is this God of yours?"

These are the things I go over and over,

emptying out the pockets of my life.

I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,

right out in front,

Leading them all, eager to arrive and worship,

Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—

celebrating, all of us, Your feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

Why am I crying the blues?

I fix my eyes on You God—

soon I'll be praising again.

You put a smile on my face.

You are my God.

When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse

everything I know of you,

Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.

Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers

crash and crush me.

Then You promise to love me all day,

sing songs all through the night!

My life is Your prayer.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

Why am I crying the blues?

I will fix my eyes on God—

soon I'll be praising again.

You put a smile on my face.

You are my God.