Posted in Life

Still include in the better yet ideal return home


The ideal return Home

still includes someone’s eyes lighting up when you walk through the door

or better yet meeting you at your car door with an back breaking embrace already starting so you can’t begin to get out of the car

but not staring through you with resigned disappointment not seeing you as you come in.

It still includes knowing something of your current work or dream or project

or better yet bragging on your work to other family members and the unsuspecting neighbor passing by

but not nodding blank eyed with no recognition of who or what is important to you

It still includes being slightly embarressed of your buck tooth, four eyes 5th grade picture still up on the wall

or better yet displaying a montage of your kid’s photographs and accomplishments plastered on the fridge

but not having any recognizable part of your life on display

It still includes preparing a childhood soul-food

or better yet everyone sitting around the table reminicing about “the time when we made this dinner , and you remember when this happened, and we laughed…”

but not asking what meals you will be responsible for preparing while I visit

It still includes the obligatory visits to older family members

or better yet having an meaningful activity to do with the family members

but not rolling your eyes and visibly seething over difficult to love family members who go on and on about why you don’t bother to come see them anymore since their lives are miserable.

It still includes telling someone that you love them, and you are proud of them, and you miss them

or better yet showing someone that you love them, and you are proud of them. and you miss them

but not not telling someone that you love them, and not not telling them you are proud of them and not not telling them you miss them.

Still include love

or better yet grace

but at least one of these. 

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13daniel-von-appen-262818Photo by Daniel von Appen 

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Posted in Thinking out loud

Satan Can’t Really Reproduce


You do realize that person you’ve written off as Satan’s spawn

is an actual miracle from God, right? 

Image

That guy at work who’s making your life hell? Created by God

The kid in class bullying you? Child of God

The family member who destroys all holidays? Cherished by God

Whoever stole your identity online? Pursued by God

The boy you grew up with that never figured out what he wanted to be as a grown up? God is so fond of him. 

The church member causing division within The Body? Loved by God

The socially awkward individual who doesn’t smell right and seems to be attached to your hip? God delights in them.

The know it all who is a perpertual walking argument? Cared for by God.

The crybaby who continually finds Going Nowhere relationships? Treasured by God. 

The manipulative, lying wench? Sustained for by God.

The 47 year old couch potato friend still living at home playing video games and complains they can’t find a good job? Held dear by God. 

The young woman you just knew would wind up pregnant and ruining her life? God’s beloved.

The baby you thought she shouldn’t have that would have no chance of a good life? Adored by God.

The thief, the government official, the absent father, the rapist, the drunk driver, the terrorist, the murderer, the drug addict whoever you have written off as a product of Satan. Miracles from God. 

He knew them before they were born. He drew their fingerprints just like He drew yours. He  started their heart with the same beat as yours. He gently folded the layers of their brain just as He did yours. He breathed the same breath into their lungs as He did in yours.

Take a second for this one.

He created them in His image.

The people we dismiss, ignore, rant about, judge and hate are created in His image. Are we brave enough to judge others with that knowledge? God created all. His hand as been on them since before they were born. As awful as we may see them Satan did not create them. He is trying to destroy them. We can’t be ok with that. Jesus came to seek The Least, The Lost, and The Lonely. Jesus sacrificed His beautiful life for all the ugliness of this world. He thought it was worth that. Why can’t we even come close to viewing them as a possibility for redemption through Him?

We are commanded to Love the Lord and to Love Others. 

As difficult and heart breaking as these individuals can be are we really all that different? Are we really all that better? Haven’t we all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, over, and over, and over again? We simply cannot afford to walk away, ignore, or cut off God’s creation because of the grace and mercy we have also been blessed with. 

When God looks at the miracle of you what does He see?

How is God shaping your heart and mind to love The Least, The Lost, and The Lonely? 

Posted in Thinking out loud

I’m not Ironman and I don’t get a by: 3 Things I’ve learned through Value Statement Development


If I could be any Avenger it would be Ironman.

I’m pretty tough. Sure, I cry a drop of a hat but that doesn’t deter from the fact that I am strong and confident. Because I love and believe so much in the mission of The Sparrow’s Nest I’ve tried to look into the future for anything that might cause it’s downfall. Right now that anything looks like me. And it’s because I’m strong and confident in myself.

God and I have been working through removing things in my heart and mind that might slow me down or keep me from obtaining everything He has planned for me. I had somewhat of a rocky childhood. Mental and physical disease in my family caused a chain of events that nearly broke my spirit as a little girl. Like most people, to protect myself from that deep pain and mistrust,  I’ve put some kevlar strong armor over parts of my heart and mind that I’ve unfortunately allowed to merge into my very being. Again, you may want to picture Ironman here. Painfully but gloriously God has revealed it’s time to replace that armor fully with His. 

I’ve been trying to really nail down and finalize our value statements for The Sparrow’s Nest. Of course since I’m writing them and they’re for an organization that I founded they tend to well, sound like things I might say. While I have no problem accepting them as important for the heartbeat of the organization, I was struck how much I’ve dismissed them personally. Here are 3 things God has revealed through this process of defining my own value statements. 

1. I value all life.

From the thought of conception until the soul leaves the body I value this most unique life God creates in His beautiful hands. But for me it’s not just about a beating heart. God has shown me that if I really value life then I need to accept however it comes to me and however it leaves me. I am surrounded by beating hearts that come with their own quirks, and baggage, and hurts, and presuppositions. I need to accept that all life is not perfect especially with those beating hearts that share the same DNA as I do. I cannot dismiss any life just because that life doesn’t do what I think it should, when I think it should, or how.  I confess that I have asked God to go ahead and take certain people off of this planet for my benefit. It makes me sick to my stomach to admit I allowed that much hate and hurt to rule my prayers. I can guard my heart because it is the well spring of my soul (Prov 4:23) but God is clear my love and forgiveness should be unlimited. If I truly value life then I have to value grace as well. 

 

2. I offer my best

This one you may grimace at because it has been so short sighted in me. God has revealed this one to be sure mark of immaturity and inconsistency in my heart and mind. I expect the best in myself and others. Not perfection, just whatever you have to offer, make sure it’s your best. However, I don’t always offer my best because I hide behind the circumstances of my past. As much as I hate excuses I’m really good at making them up. I’ve also been extremely limited in accepting what may be others best or expecting a level of the best that they do not have in them. Because God has made us all unique we all have differing ideas of what our best is. Now, I do believe I have a valid argument that many, many people are not living to their full potential primarily due to fear and laziness (another topic, another day). I have learned again that I have to meet people where they are in order to have some level of understanding and empathy of who they are and what they have to offer. We are to offer our total being to God (Matthew 22:37) Because we are human, of course those gifts won’t be perfect. But God will take the best that we have to offer and use it for His purposes. 

 

3. Christ is in the beginning, middle, and end of all I think, say, or do. 

If this is truly who I say I am then everything I do must be covered in love, grace, and mercy because this is who Christ is to me. I don’t get to pick and choose who I apply these gifts to. They have been freely given to me so how I should not be able to stop myself from giving them as well. God tells us whatever we are doing, eating, drinking, living life to the fullest, or just trying to make it through the next hour that we are to do those things to His glory (I Cor 10:31). There blocks of time on my life line where I was severely wronged, mistreated, and abused. A lot of things slip past me but I don’t think I’ve blocked any memories of flogging or crucification. If my beautiful Jesus can forgive these horrendous acts in the middle of experiencing them I have no choice but to forgive as well. I have to choose to keep Christ in the center of all things so my gaze in set on him and not these circumstances. 

 

I told you earlier to picture Ironman. Except I’m not Ironman and I don’t get a by on choosing who gets love and who gets grace and who gets forgiveness on this planet. I’m a trainwreck of a woman who God is continually forming into who He pictures me to be. 

How is God shaping you today? What lies has He removed from your life so you can live abundantly?

Or here’s an easier one, Which Avenger would you be? 

And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times having all that you need you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Posted in Rants

You are not dead to me.


Do you think it’s more important to be a friend or to have friends?

I’ve had several conversations lately with people who say things like, “I’ve just put in all I’m going to on this relationship.” “I have to do all the work, they never reciprocate, I’m done with them.” “If we ever do anything it’s going to be because I initiate and I’m just tired of chasing them.” “I’m just getting too old to waste time on people.”

I find these comments bothersome and disturbing and oddly middle school girl-ish. De-friending on facebook and twitter is mildly entertaining but irritating at the same to me.  As a product of the 80’s I think we’ve all been through enough sensitivity training to realize when we are being taken advantage. But also as products of this time period I think we’ve put a little much value on our self-esteem.

Yes, I get it. You don’t want to be a door mat.

Yes, I get it. You don’t want to be walked all over.

Yes, I get it. There are people who will suck the life out of you.

But come on. We’re all grown ups now. It’s time we stop thinking it’s all about what prize we get out of the cracker jack box. It’s time to stop pouting when we put into people’s lives and don’t pull out a prize.

In the past week I can tell you I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes by someone I trusted. In the past week it’s come to light that another friend has been deceiving me for months about a personal situation. In the past hour I’ve learned a friend is probably not being completely honest with me. I could choose to take all of these as personal affronts and say that I am done with them, that they are essentially “dead to me.”

Now before I push myself to sainthood, I would be lying if I said these situations didn’t make me mad, didn’t hurt my heart, didn’t question my discernment. But I’ve made commitment to these people to be their friend whether they have asked for it, assumed it, or expected it. That commitment doesn’t come with a disclaimer that I will be their friend only if they meet some expectation of mine. One of my mantras is to walk in love, not on eggshells. I can’t tiptoe through life deciding on whim who has earned my love and who has not. That’s legalistically exhausting. I want grace also for when I’m less than perfect. I’m no better than anyone else. I’m a screw up just the rest of you.

How do you handle this situation of unmet expectations all the way up to betrayal in friendships?

The greatest love you can show is to give your life for your friends.

John 15:13

Posted in Thinking out loud

My opinion of Jason Russell: All of us are just a bit jacked up.


Sometimes I’m scared by the level of depravity and wickedness to which I can envision myself sinking. And that’s even with a certain level of self-preservation. Who knows what we are all capable of.

The reality is the small good I want to create in my community, my family, and in me could be demolished if even one of my un-pure thoughts were public knowledge. How many times am I yelling in my head “take captive every thought and make it obedient to God!” And yet God can take this broken trainwreck of a woman and still do good.

You may argue with my theology but I don’t see how my brokenness was removed when I became a Christian. When I decided to be obedient to Christ, to become a follower chasing after Him, I was healed and forgiven but that brokenness is still there. It may no longer be a gaping wound but the scars are still very fresh to me on my heart and mind. It’s like if I was a vase that was broken and glued back together. It’s still usable and still somewhat attractive but you can never completely hide the cracks. I didn’t become perfect or immune to sin. Sometimes I think my life as Christian is just one big recognition of my sin. God isn’t surprised by me. Everything is revealed. Everything is a confession of something.

I still need Christ and His love and His grace and His mercy. After I became a Christian I didn’t just become an object of perfection. My heart had been broken. My mind had experienced shame. My soul has survived debilitating grief.

I guess this is why I have a hard time throwing stones at people like Jason Russell. To fellow screw-ups I get what’s it like to lose your mind a little bit and do really, really stupid destructive stuff. I understand how absurd it is to create beautiful good in one minute and be crushed by the weight of that good in the next minute.

I have a much easier time throwing rocks at the self-righteous Pharisees of our world that have forgotten how painful it is to be refined. pruned, or transformed. I can’t fall in line with the thinking that because you are on a pedestal you have a greater responsibility than I to behave in a godly manner. I also can’t believe that when you fall from that pedestal that you need less grace and understanding than I do. You may be hurt more from a fall from that high so you probably need more care.

So I can’t throw rocks at people like Jason Russell. But I can throw rocks at the people who are throwing rocks at him. So I guess that just puts us all in the same boat.

All still in need of God’s grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness.

All of us just a bit jacked up.

 

Posted in Thinking out loud

Yet another lesson in grace: No strings attached


I didn’t really want to go at all.

This side of the family sucks the life out of me.

I went because my DH is gracious and caring. I blame him.

Among other things, I got scolded for giving an unsolicited gift. The recipient was mad because they didn’t know we were exchanging gifts. They were embaressed because they had nothing to give in return. They wouldn’t be the first family member not to know something important about me.

Giving gifts is one of my love languages. I love buying things for people. Random things. Things to let them know I think they are important. That what they do, matters. That they matter to me. I don’t want anything in return. I don’t want thank you notes. I don’t want a last minute return gift that looks like they had thought of me all along. I just want to give a small gift. That’s it. No strings attached.

And then I got it.

For this side of the family I have never been enough.

I’m not smart enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not available enough, I’m not talented enough, I’m not a boy, I’m not calm enough, I’m not common sense, I’m not fast enough, I’m just not what they were hoping for.

But I’m also TOO much.

I’m too dramatic, too busy, too head in the clouds, too lazy, too loud, too mad, too churchy, too book smart, too far away.

However, I realized that what they have had to offer has never been enough for me either. We had the same genes. The same family tree. But somehow we don’t match up. I think its exhausting for all of us to be around each other.

I realized for a person of grace. A person who has been given grace and a person who tries to give grace I have never extended grace, real Godly grace, to my own family.

And I’m ashamed.

And I’m relieved.

And I’m thankful.

I’m thankful that as God has offered His Grace to me over and over again. When I turn to Him, and say “I have nothing left to offer you. I’m embaressed. I’m angry with pride.”

He replies, “There is nothing you have that I want. You have no possession, no talent, no gift, no words, that will ever be enough. I just want you.”

“No strings attached.”

 

I’m wondering if  you have a similar family tree? Do you have an easier time extending grace to people outside of your family?