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 

Why This Morning I Want To Wake The Dead


I’m a brain nerd. I love reading about brain development especially in early childhood but now in early teens, too. I love hearing about how the brain “re-learns” after trauma. Of course, I’m a self-confessed stalker so it’s fascinates me to no end when I can see something different is being thought in the head than what is being spoken in the mouth. You know what I want my super hero power to be. 

I’m waking up this morning fried. I’ve been in go mode with no real down time in I don’t know when. Between Alex’s surgery, Robert’s travel, getting over some virus thing, single parenting, closing on The Nest, working at The Nest, a 6 year old who’s forgotten how to sleep through the night, Emma starting high school , Sam starting middle school , and Alex transferring to a new school, and the housework just won’t seem to disappear no matter how hard I wiggle my nose. I’m zapped.

My brain is not operating on all eight cylindars this morning (and hush to those of you who question if it ever is). However, I’m reflective to where my brain is going this morning. I’m enveloped with that drape of loss and feel a new wave of grief over the death of my Aunt Susan and oddly enough my Grandpa. I’m so tired I actually processed the thought of needing to call my aunt and my grandpa to tell them about the kids starting new schools and The Nest and…and then finally that only non-exhausted piece of my brain kicking in with logic reminding me that my aunt has been in heaven for over 3 months and my Grandpa for over 10 years. 

Isn’t that weird? I mean, I actually had the phone in my hand. 

I know I feel alone, vulnerable, too responsible for everything, tired and all I wanted to do was lean up to two people that mean the world to me and told me I could do anything and rest. I want to watch cooking shows with my aunt and read. I want to sit on a deck with my Grandpa and fish. When all the other voices told me I was too loud or too spastic or not smart enough or not pretty enough these two people not only told me but showed me I was valued, I was beautiful, I was talented and I was important to them. But the most important thing they communicated to me was just to be me.  And that is so energizing for me. 

They would love me and be proud of just me breathing and that was so refreshing. 

So here I sit wanting to call to dead people and I can’t. 

I know I need to build in some margins again since I’m obviously losing it and want make a phone call to heaven but how do you create those boundaries when everything feels like its on your shoulders?

How do you get everything done that needs to get done and still stay upright?

Who refreshes and energizes you with their love and acceptance? 

Fish and Family


“Families are messy. Immortal families are eternally messy.

Sometimes the best we can do is to remind each other that we’re related for better or for worse…

and try to keep the maiming and killing to a minimum.”

-Rick Riordan, The Sea of Monsters

Fam-damily.

We’re going through another tough time in our family. A close family member struggles with demons that affect all of us. When they are going through one of “those times” the individual is hateful, spewing venomous words with the intention of maim. This mania fills emails and phone calls. No amount of distance can keep you safe. If you were in the family member’s house they would be in your face so close it would be difficult not to wipe their spittle from your face as they label and condemn your very existence. These times are somewhat easy to categorize. We know this family member is down and going through rough time. Things will even out in a few days. They will somewhat realize the destructive path carved around them was yet again caused by them. There will uncomfortable, embarrassing, messy apologies where the individual degrades themselves and promises that this time is new. It will never happen again. God is faithful even to them.

Until the next time.

You read all these books about boundaries and setting limits with destructive family members. You convince yourself that even though you know it’s not your fault you probably should have kept your mouth shut or in this case you should of said something helpful. You hear yourself saying ‘I will love them from a distance.” But the love just turns into abashed ignoring of actions and communication. You give yourself permission to seek out replacement relationships because what you have been given for family relationships is somehow a awful mistake. How could you ever deserve something as messy, and difficult, and imperfect?

You turn to the scriptures for solace, comfort, direction, and wisdom.

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
John 15:17 “These things I command you, that you love one another.”

You hear your prayers repeated in your ears.

“Lord, let me help just one today.”

“Lord, let me be your eyes, ears, and hands.”

“Lord, lead me to help The Least, The Lost, and The Lonely.”

You come to the realization of all those times Jesus is talking about forgiveness, and unity, and peaceful living that in the middle of that He also created family to be a sacred relationship. It’s not some game God created to see if we could make it through the hurdles of life. He knew the people that he connected us through DNA would most likely be the hardest to share His love with. It is no accident or cruel concept that we live shoulder to shoulder with real people who live in a fallen world. People of our flesh and blood who fight or succumb to demons of mental illness, abuse, or addiction or any other lie of Satan. People cut from the same cloth as ourselves.

There is no mistake that God provided all kinds of avenues for us to guard and protect our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies. However, I’m not convinced He has given us a path to not love someone. Just because it’s easier to love someone else, God has not given us an out to not love the families He specifically placed us in.

With all those wondrous words I have to admit I’m tired of loving. My heart is aching right now. My flesh is coming with all kinds of evidence not to love. I’m weary behind my eyes. My stomach is in knots. My mind is exhausted. I just don’t want to anymore. But I keep coming back to loving and forgiving like God loves. He is faithful. He does not give up on me.

“Love me when I least deserve it, because thats when I need it the most…” 

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

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.

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?


I woke up this morning re-newed to rid the world of all earthly atrocities. I was fired up to save the world of very real, heartbreaking problems. I was fired up to say the least. I open up my inbox ready to slay the day and the first email I see is from a disgruntled parent on my basketball team. He wasn’t happy with his kids’ playing time this past Saturday. Mind you I wasn’t there but he felt he needed to copy me on his criticisms of the other coach.

Now the other coach can be let’s say, a bit prickly, so I before I got a chance to head him off at the pass and say “you know, let’s just let this go.” Here comes his email response dripping with sarcasm and meat headness. And so it begins.

-I copied the league director.

+I don’t think your coaching style is indicative of the league goals.

-Why are you bringing this up after the season is over. 

+I don’t think we’ll play next year.

-Oh yeah, well here’s mud in your eye!

+Yo mama!

Boys, boys! Can’t we all just get along in the sandbox? Do I need to remind you this is a CHRISTIAN league whose primary purpose is to share the LOVE of Jesus Christ?

#sigh

All this drama has caused me to start thinking why do we do that? Why is our first response to spit and then to try wipe the spit off our brother after we’ve been told to? What is it about ourselves that we seem to lack coping skills for everyday living? We’re all so stressed and pulled taunt that instead of just absorbing harmless statements and behaviors, we fire back at others with a greater veracity. Instead of being at peace it seems we’re all walking on eggshells or firing rotten eggs at each other. In our stress we turn to activities and behaviors that only devalue our lives rather than build up what we’ve been given. Have we ever learned to turn the other cheek?

So, I find myself trying to figure out if I should step in between these two guys and start spouting scripture like Hebrews 12:14 and Romans 12:18 and slapping them up side the head with prayer but then again…

 

So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

Romans 14:19