30 December, 2010

Our Song

Nick and I have never been able to say that we "have a song."
That changed today.

This is "Dancing in the Minefields" by Andrew Peterson

25 December, 2010

the guts to get pregnant

it's christmas day. 
only six days left until a brand new year begins.

i am a goal-setter by nature.  i enjoy challenging myself to reach higher.  so usually, around this time of year, my heart naturally begins to seek out the opportunity for a fresh beginning, and new adventures to go with it. 

and this year, i do have a mental list already forming in my mind.  no wonder i always feel so tired.  i have yet to master the skill of resting my mind.  perhaps i should add that to the list.

this year i accomplished something extraordinary.  well, several extraordinary things, but one stands out:  i gave birth to a baby this year.  i cooked her up by god's grace in my body, nestled warmly inside for what seemed like forever, and then, seemingly in an instant, there she was.  all seven pounds thirteen ounces of her.  my daughter.  she is eight-and-a-half months old this christmas.  and without question, other than my marriage, she is my greatest achievement to date.

last year, at christmastime, i was six months pregnant.  and while on the outside i was excited and confident about my new little one, i had a dark little secret.  inside, in my hidden places, i was very afraid.

you see, nick and i planned our pregnancy like one rips off a bandaid--hurry up and do it before i lose my nerve.  we had been married for five years and ready or not, it felt like time.  and we were extraordinarily blessed when we didn't have to wait long to see two pink lines on the stick.  we found out we were pregnant the day one of my cousins got married, and that day we danced and kissed and smiled like fools--this was it--we were having a baby.

but it wasn't long before my mind started spinning circles around itself.  and in the early months of my pregnancy, i silently wished to miscarry.  i remember one day specifically when i was driving in my car, sobbing and afraid.   i had been wrong.  i wasn't ready for this.  i wasn't ready to be a mom.  i wasn't ready to say that i could indefinitely provide for a baby.  i didn't have things arranged the way a wiser woman would have--how would we manage working and baby-sitters and insurance and diapers?  i had been foolish and now it was too late.  a baby was on the way and i had ruined my life.

when aly was born, i didn't attach to her right away.  i saw them lift her from me and they took her to clean her up.  i felt strangely detached.  everyone had told me that once you deliver that baby, it all becomes worth it.  my first thought was that it hadn't been.  worth it, i mean.  during the delivery, my contacts had become uncomfortable so i had taken them out. i am practically blind without them and so much of the room and the activities in it were a blur. 
but slowly it occured to me that i wasn't hearing a baby cry.  honestly, i was only minorly bothered by this.
i asked why she wasn't crying.  they told me to turn my head and look.
i rolled my head to the side and across the room, through the blur of weak eyes, i saw a baby.  my baby.  she was too busy looking around to cry.  she was wide-eyed, alert, content, and curious.  from the very beginning.
it was then that my mama's heart roared to life and in that moment, i loved her.

it has been in the months since that april birthday that i have learned the most dynamic lessons of my life.

there are many couples in the same holding pattern that nick and i were in.  knowing that eventually they want children, but that there are so many stars yet to align before that happens.  and i know.  i get it.  i lived it.

and it is absolutely wrong.  in my opinion, there has never existed in the earth a more damaging, deceptive thought pattern than this.  it was become the reflex, the response, the excuse that continues to this day to keep thousands of young married couples from their destiny.

and its hard.  never before has a generation had to be more purposeful about starting a family.  we practically spay our females with a little pill the moment she shows signs of fertility.  a zit appears on the chin of a teenager and we immediately prescribe the pill to get her hormones in line by simulating pregnancy on her body.  she gets used to this little pill, her little friend, as though her body, as god created it, is out of submission to her desires in its design. 

and when she marries, it becomes her pass to sex without baby.  and who doesn't like that idea, let's be honest?  and the concept, in my opinion, to delay babies for a few months, maybe a year or two, when you're first married may have benefit.  i see the scenarios and i'm not passing judgment. 

but i really think its time for us to rethink how we look at fertility. 
when the day comes that perhaps a woman might consider carrying a baby, she will notice for maybe the first time that her tiny little pill of a friend has become a wall around her destiny.  i mean that exactly as it sounds.  i don't think a woman was ever intended  to have to make the decision to allow her body to conceive.  the day you look at your pill and don't take it after years of its security resembles jumping off a mountain.  its that hard. 

women are created in god's image.  we are designed to bring life into the world, to nurture babies, to mother children, to issue forth a new generation.  we are created to conceive.

aly will wake up from her nap in a few minutes, as she does every day around this time.  there is no way to express the enormous level of new revelation of god's personality, character, and desires that i have gotten since the day she was born.  selfishness has been eliminated by love.  foolishness has been replaced by love.  impatience, yes, even poverty mindset, has been set aright as god reveals himself to our family.  my husband has been elevated from servant to servant leader.  he has a new authority on him that i have dreamed of since we married.

five years passed since the day we married and they were swallowed up in obligations, job pressures, money pressures, and fear.  in aly's birth, the father, my unique design and purpose, and my freedoms in him have been showcased. 

so this christmas, if i get my christmas wish, there would be a shift in how we think about children.
there are couples out there, men and women, who are praying to be advanced and blessed.  in my opinion, here is your answer: "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3 NASB)

children are the greatest blessing that god can give. our society focuses on the burdens of children. they write whole books on how to prepare for children. how to shoulder the financial burden. they could not be more wrong. do not be fooled. do not listen to your fears. do not give that voice the time of day.   it does not show revelation of the father to fear the arrival of your children.

 i beg you to trust me on this--embrace it.  go make a baby.  as quickly as you can.  on the kitchen table.  with whipped cream if you want to (to each his own).

it is christmas, after all.  its a great day for babies.

21 December, 2010

noisy rhonda

when i found out rhonda had died, after the immediate shock passed, i was numb for a long time.
it took a while until i felt anything.

but slowly, i started noticing that rhonda's name was echoing through my mind.  literally, it was like i was hearing "rhonda, rhonda" over and over.

for those of you who don't know, i'm something of a name person.  to me, names matter.  what the name means matters.  there are very beautiful names i've completely eliminated for my kids (present and future) because i can't name them something that means "from the purple grass" or something like that.  you know?  aly's full name is loaded with meaning, both officially and personally.  for nick and i, the names we give our children are prophetic and are our first task when we bring a child into this world--we prophesy identity on them.  not everyone feels that way.  but we do.

so after hearing rhonda's name for like four hours, i finally typed it into a favorite baby-naming site to find out what it means.  thought maybe that would bring me some clarity.

rhonda is a English name.  it means "noisy".

when i first read that, i frowned.  i thought that was awful for someone i knew to be so genuine.
and then, like a sponge, it started to sink in.  and i listened and thought about this for a while.

when we went to rhonda's viewing last night, people were waiting in line outside the funeral home to pay their respects.  we arrived 20 minutes after it started and waited in like for two and a half hours.  (thirty of those minutes were outside in the cutting winter wind.)  when we left at nine o'clock, there was at least another hour and a half of people in line waiting.

everyone wanted their chance to acknowledge rhonda.  to love on keith.  to hug their daughters.  to tell her family how special she has been.

when we finally reached keith, who we have fought with on the front lines, we looked into him and saw his conflict.  appreciation and humility at all the love being poured upon his family.  exhaustion.  hunger.  strength. sadness.  hope.  we offered to go get him some food (it had been many hours since his last meal), but his first thought was how rude it would be to the crowd of waiting friends if he paused to eat.  food could wait.  even in his mourning, even in his grief, even in weakness, keith showed his metal.  keith is a man who shoulders the battle and doesn't run from it.  he is a genuine, loving brother to nick and i and so many in the kingdom.  he is extraordinary.

i kept thinking about "rhonda" and "noisy" as we left the funeral home.
suddenly the revelation hit me squarely. 
it wasn't rhonda who was noisy.  it was rhonda's life that was.

i've heard many stories about rhonda in the past week and the echo of rhonda's life will continue indefinitely.  she truly impacted and served and blessed and gave.  rhonda's sound was so much bigger than her petite little five-feet-or-so would have indicated.  thousands of people put their week-of-christmas schedules on hold to stand in line to testify about rhonda.  the funeral home folks said it was the largest viewing they had seen in fifteen or twenty years.

it's so true that rhonda was one noisy gal.  she resonated.  she echoes still.
i'll bet heaven is a little noisier now too.  between rhonda's laughter, her singing, and her intercession, i'm sure the angels are nudging each other about the new girl and how glad they are she's finally arrived.  because no matter where rhonda goes, in this dimension or the next, she will always be the piece that when it's added, you realize suddenly that you've been missing her the whole time.

we love you, rhonda.  see you later.

16 December, 2010

pretty nails or useful hands

its a red nail polish kind of day.  i think i'm going to take myself out to get some.
along with baby wipes and eggs.
i'm forgetting something.
darn. it.

i don't know why i bother with nail polish.  and i will think that exact thought a week from now, when it's chipped almost completely off and looks ridiculous.  i will wonder why i went to the store and spent the money for it.  on purpose.  knowing full well it wasn't going to end well.

but its Christmas and my mommy hands need a little...sump'm sump'm.  however you spell that.

dish detergent!
whew, that's a relief.  glad i remembered
one more day without that and i'll be scraping the dishes clean with my fingernails.

that might be why, a week from now, the nail polish will have been a mistake.
because, even if i do remember the dish detergent, i will find some other way to mess them up.

oh well.
hands were made to be used, not displayed.
so i'll paint my nails and they'll be lovely for a moment.
then i'll use my hands and they'll be lovely to someone else.
i guess that's a fair trade after all.

17 October, 2010

Note Cards & Bosom Buddies

I took the time to send out three handwritten notes to miscellaneous people tonight.  It seriously only took like 5 minutes and 3 stamps.  My family knows, as a general rule, I don't buy cards for the occasions I should buy them for--I'm a rebel like that.  But the concept of scribbling a personal note on a generic note card and sticking it in the mail has a very genuine feel to it.  Plus, cards like that have a tendency to land on the exact day that they're needed.  It makes me feel good to imagine those people cracking open real mail this week.  That ain't no forgettable Facebook post.


This week I realized that there are many people in my life that feel isolated, insecure and transparent.  These are people who, according to everything I know about them, should feel validated, empowered and encouraged.  How does it happen that I missed this--if I say I care about them, shouldn't I have picked up on this sooner?  As it is, they didn't come out and say it--just suddenly, a sentence was spoken that went through my mind and caused a chain reaction.  Suddenly, I heard what they weren't saying.  Immediately I realized that I'm not the only person who often feels solitary.  

I'm embarrassed now to admit that these are people I originally felt were somewhat clique-ish.  I yearned for them to accept me, to include me in their seemingly flamboyant and carefree circle of lunch dates and inside jokes.  I thought they were rude and inconsiderate, overlooking me with almost purposeful casualness.

But slowly I've gotten to know these women--and they're such wonderful, welcoming people.  They thought I was confident and comfortable.  One of my current favorites commented that she'd see me walk into church and often loved how I dressed.  I wanted to sob with laughter--I thought she never saw me and often feel sorry for myself concerning her.  I chuckle now--she doesn't have any idea how much I craved her validation and friendship, long before I slowly assimilated into it.  We had lunch today--and she's now one my favorite people (I have a lot of favorites) but she's funny and genuine and so very likeable.

I wonder now how many women watch me go by and crave my friendship, wish for my time and validation.  Don't forget--all this lonely time, these people thought I was the confident one.  Those days were in truth some of the loneliest of my life.  I still, honestly, crave a bosom buddy or two--I feel like I have a crowd of beautiful people in reach--just waiting for someone to show that they want to pursue in-depth friendship with me.  But everyone is so busy--we get one thing scheduled, and it's three months until we manage to schedule another gathering.  And that's fine--but I know God's preparing a bosom buddy for me.  Someone who likes me enough to crave time with me, as I would with her.  I can't wait to be made better by her presence in my life.

But I know there are probably some of you out there who I think have a lifefull of trusted confidants--you're not really looking for someone to laugh with over a stale pot of coffee or while folding a load of laundry.

But I think someone out there is looking for me.  Don't worry--we're Anne and Diana (that's a Green Gables reference). :)  We'll find each other.

And to the rest of you busy ladies, who just look at me and think I'm too preoccupied for you, that's silly.  Now we know.  Please come and sit by me and let's chat--I sincerely want to know who you are and to appreciate your uniqueness.  Your presence in my life will make me better--and maybe I can bring color and love into your life as well.

So here's a toast to fresh, honest relationships, new validations, and my bosom buddy--just keep swimming--I'll find you!

28 September, 2010

A Band of Delinquents

There is a man on my mind.  Well, there are several of them, a sort of band of brothers.  If you close your eyes for a moment, you can picture their tired, blackened, but determined faces.  Their hands are calloused, their feet blistered, their knuckles cracked open.  They are heroes, all of them, giving up their right to selfish perspectives in pursuit of the mission fulfilled, a vision accomplished.  A freedom achieved.

These soldiers, they love their commander.  He is a good lion--he has earned their allegiance, their respect, their loyalty.  He is the reason they believe any good, any valuable achievement, could come from this ugly, disheartening war.  His square shoulders, his shrewd strategies, even the hard stare of his golden eyes--everything about their captain is magnetic and persuasive.  Regardless of how many thousand bullets they face, the constant target of the enemy tyrant, when they fight with him they are strong, focused, and well nourished.  The winds are favorable, even when change brings earthquakes and criticism flies like dung.

And you?  You are nearly always on their mind.

This little band of heroes has shouldered a love for you that you do not understand.  They have joined together in a fight that keeps them awake at night, strategic assemblies with their commander for ways to make your freedom complete. They know that when you wake up, you accessorize your clean clothes with your shackles.  These kings, and their Guineveres, itch and chaff and bruise for you.  Their hearts bleed for your freedom.  They are lonely for your company.  And they are vulnerable, because they are weak for your resources.  Even these deadly heroes, with all their training and discipline, cannot do what you can do.  Indeed, you were designed to fight with them.  You were created to join them.  You are so necessary that without you, this band will almost inevitably fail.

This morning, before you opened your eyes, before your subconscious become conscious, the grace of the Father brooded over you, like He did at the beginning of time, a thick Spirit upon the surface of potential.  He hovered over you in travail, bringing forth a brand new thing.  He can get closer to you in your sleep, draw Himself more intimately upon you when your mind is not in motion to get in the way...when your autopilot is not engaged.  The Father was in birth, in labor, His entire self bent upon your spirit, creating something out of nothing.  He sees into your very makeup, into your core, into the foundational elements of you.  The parts that were made of dust. 

He does this every night.  Hoping one day you'll open your eyes and for the first time, you'll open your eyes.

I visited the camp of our heroes tonight and I have returned with tears running down my face.  My heart is broken that so much work is being shouldered by so few.  Have we become so accustomed to the theatre that we can watch the battle engage without a single sense of personal responsibility?

Where am I?  And where are you?

I suppose I feel like a crier on the wall.  How many of us are dangerously close to a collision with complete neutrality?  How many of us hold up our careers as a talisman, our official statement that should easily explain our absence, when in fact, all it demonstrates is ignorance?  We hide behind the duties of our children, neglecting our primary responsibility to set the example of a life that is disciplined and fulfilling.  If it is indeed an excuse you need, any one will do.  An excuse is merely the skin of a lie stuffed with a reason.  If one is so busy that they cannot respond when their gifts--or hands--are needed, a shift in priorities is desperately needed.  Each man controls his own schedule; he decides what he permits to consume his time.

There is a great need for the reanalysis of priorities.  What, by your actions, truly is important to you?  When did you last commit to something worthwhile?  A wise man once told me that if you showed him your calendar and your checkbook, he would be able to tell you what was most important to you.  If you say the kingdom is your first priority, then may I ask why other men are taking your fire?  If you truly believed yourself to be the arm, the ear, the lungs, of the Body, then why have you not poured yourself completely into it?  And if you do not know your function, why are you not consumed in the pursuit to find your post?  Do you think you need rest?  Then rest and rejoin the lines--don't just tune out.  Do not trade a rested happiness for Glee.

No one intends to become delinquent.  But we have a band of them among us.  And its time to ask yourself--are you delinquent?  Gondor calls for aid.  And these aren't the movies.  There is much at risk.  Even silence is a deafening scream.

Regardless of your choice, I honor the band of brothers among us.  I feel the Father's proud smile on them like warm sunshine and an afternoon nap.  If you are one of them, a warrior, I bless you with brand new energy and strength.  I am with you.  I will fight with you.  You can count on me.

11 September, 2010

Self Control

I sometimes wish I would have three wishes in life.  I like to think about what I’d wish for.  My husband says its obvious: the first thing you wish for is unlimited wishes.  Honestly, I think I’d be OK with three wishes—call me independent but I like to do things for myself.  
Sometimes I think that I’d wish for wealth.  I had a dream one time that I won two million dollars.  It was such an intense dream that when I woke up, it took a minute to realize that I was still sleeping between bed-in-a-bag sheets.  I confided to my pastor that I had the dream and his response really challenged me.  Did I know what I would do with two million if I had it?  Did I have a plan?
I just always assumed that when (not if) great wealth found me, I would be magnanimous with it, generous and philantrophic, in addition to being very well accessorized.  But when I did finally sit down to plan out what I would do with my (currently still in progress) two million, I realized it took a good deal more wisdom than I had imagined.  It became an incredible exercise in wisdom, discernment and vision.  It took a long time to consider the proper weight of things.  I do have a plan now, as challenged.  If I were to attain a two million dollar account tomorrow, I would handle it properly.
There are many things I would consider wishing for, from Solomon’s request for wisdom to my admittedly less honorable desire to be three inches taller.   We all have our list of things in life that could be so much better with just a little stroke of luck.  Or wishes.  
I was reading a book on parenting today.  The matter being discussed was teaching your children boundaries from infancy, instead of giving too much freedom too soon, and having to impose restrictions after they demonstrate an inability to tolerate unlimited possibilities.  The authors (Ezzo, Buckham) provided this formula:

Freedoms greater than self control = developmental confusion
Freedoms less than self control = developmental frustration
Freedoms equal to self control = developmental harmony

The book was focused on pretoddlers.  I, however, was hit between the eyes in revelation for MYSELF.   This formula was talking about ME.   I thought of all I wished for in my life, my big dreams and grandiose agendas, all held back by some invisible wall, a very frustrating barrier that I have been working to identify recently.  I have always imagined that my life would be one of great significance, and lately, I have felt stuck.
But haven’t we all heard the story of the lottery winners who within five years were worse off than they were before they won the prize?  Don’t we all sometimes catch ourselves parked in front of the TV or Facebook for a bit too long or too often and feel a tug as though the time were being misspent?  We eat what we want and many of us avoid the scales all together as though ignorance equals permission.  We show up late or not at all.  We avoid saying no by saying maybe.  We say one thing and do another.  We worship halfheartedly while thinking about anything else.  Wives avoid their sex lives.  Husbands avoid conversation.  No one sets a goal, writes down a date or holds themselves accountable.  And worse of all, we joke amongst ourselves, as though falling short were inevitable.  Corporate failure yields social permission, and we all agree to a society that lives beneath its potential.
In my behaviors currently, under personal assessment and an honest analysis, I am living with very little self-control.  I’ll admit it.
Could it be that my freedom in life, to achieve all that is within my potential, to become all I dream of becoming, to in essence, be who I was born to be, that I must first demonstrate a self responsibility?
God loves me so much.  I am handmade, fearfully and wonderfully.  I was carved out of God himself, made in His image, his authority on the earth.  It stands to reason that it is possible, indeed necessary, for me to transcend the barriers of humanity and live a supernatural life.  However, it is equally logical that a woman who cannot be trusted to discipline herself has demonstrated little ability to wield greater authority and influence. 
Would a God who loves me truly ask me to get my chocolate habit under control?
I’m kidding, but I’m serious.
We believers like to behave as though we’re exempt sometimes.  That we can just like everyone else, except righteous.  But I want to propose to you that any train of thought that allows mediocrity in your life is a lie designed to prevent you from shining, to hold you back from truly becoming extraordinary.  If that is not the case, tell me, what TRULY is the difference between you, one who is in theory free, and your brother, who is yet a slave to his old man or to religion?  You have been enlightened to the price what was paid to set you free.  It must require a great amount of arrogance, or an equal measure of ignorance, to pour out your potential upon the latest reality TV show.  We plead exhaustion, when we could celebrate renewal.  We are disorganized and careless with schedules, time and people.  We cry for mercy, when we could dance in grace.  It is because we plant our seed in the dirt and do not water.
Of course, in God’s design for you, there is design for rest.  Whole big chunks of renewal for your soul.  But do not be deceived—there is a huge difference between resting and loitering.  One is performed en route to your destiny, one is a barstool at a truck stop.  
I propose that God loves us too much to give us more than we can handle.  Without a plan, my dream of two million dollars was in that category (who knew?).  I would have had it and my foolishness would have been my undoing.  Could that be why so many of us are living with so little—we have demonstrated that we value excuses over faithfulness?   But I believe that many of us were designed to be storehouses, to be dream dealers, to be creative and potent in the marketplace.  We are to be the ones cutting the checks and bring revolution.
If I believe I was created for more, if I feel the tug of an unrealized destiny on my heart, then it is time to expect more from myself.  It is time to tap into God’s storehouse of provision for me and show that he can trust me with the gifts he has given me, the people he has placed around me, and the time and resources I already have.  Self control is trump.  I am not slave to my selfish whims; I am disciplined enough to choose the great over the good.
Perhaps my dream of two million dollars was a prophetic one.  I am, in any case, certain that a full realization of my life’s fulfillment is contingent upon my willingness to embrace a life of discipline.

08 September, 2010

He Already Knows--There is no hiding the truth from Papa.

I find my spirit searching for Ground Zero, as though an explosion has occurred, beloved parts of me have died, and now I am looking for purpose in all of it.  I am sifting through the rubble, begging to find a living spark.

Nick and I went to Philadelphia this weekend.  We have a history in this city...we have been here before.  We arrived once or twice to attend conferences for our business, eating peanut butter and jelly.  It was our Ishmael that was given up in pursuit of our Isaac.  Later, we were there working from dawn to stars for our second big adventure, which folded 24 hours later.  Without warning, I felt the scars of both visits begin to bleed as we passed so many things that reminded me of those visits.  Nick would point out a place that we had been, and nausea rose in my chest and I felt like I was suffocating.  Nick thought it was weird that I had such an adverse reaction.  I didn't understand it either but I couldn't deny it.

We have never been afraid to take risks, to dream beyond our current reality, to commit beyond our current ability.  We, as a couple, are unique in that neither of us fear adventure.  But as we passed these old landmarks, I felt like a gutted fish.  I had pursued both ventures with everything that I had.  Financially, physically, emotionally--I had held nothing back from my willing heart to give whatever was needed to achieve success.  And as time has passed, I have started to have days here and there where I don't think about the drought.  But it's still there, like the splinter in my mind that Morpheus talks about.  I have dreams that are so violent against my spirit that I wake up exhausted.  I see a label or hear a name and I feel my blood pressure rise.  Even though every part of me wants to take the good lessons and discard the rest as mere history, my spirit won't let me.  Every day I feel it branded into me, a burn that never heals.

I don't know how to do anything partially.  I wish I did. 

I find myself here on my little rotting deck, on a plastic lounge chair with my laptop.  My neighbor's back door is maybe 100 feet from mine and he's on his cell phone and smoking a cigarette.  The breeze is nice but it carries a slight wafting glance of someone's trashcan.  I could go inside, I guess, but I've seen those four walls as much as I can stand.  Its starting to feel like a cage in there.

I'm having a why me moment.

I don't understand how I am still here, renting this silly little townhouse.  I don't understand how anyone who has worked as hard as I have, served as selflessly as I have, loved as I have loved, pursued despite abandonment, sacrificed as much as I have...  I feel like I am Cinderella--a woman who has a royal destiny but her face is smeared with ashes.  I am hurting because I feel like I have been forgotten and overlooked, and I'm angry because that's how I react when I'm hurting.  Everything about this little scene of my life doesn't fit.  It grates against me like sandpaper on silk.  I am certainly not overlooking my blessings, but at this moment, they seem too few for all the seeds that have been sown.  So few people know what I have really done, where I have really been, all I have really accomplished.  What I have survived.

But Papa, there are no excuses for you.  You know.  You have measured the weight of it on my shoulders.  You know that I am an Olympian, that my shoulders are broad and that I take delight in the adventures you give me.  You have found joy in me.  You told me so.

But do you see the field of dry bones stretched out before me like a hideous opera?

This is not what we agreed to.  You promised life and freedom and blessing and honor.  You promised that I could trust you.  You promised a Great Adventure.  This better not be it.  At least, this better not be the theme.  I know where I was when you laid the foundations of the earth.  I was in your heart.  I was already in you.  I know your character, who You are.  I know You have not forgotten, I know You are already running to me.  I know you chose me because. 

I will not just sit.  I can't.  I don't know how and I don't want to learn.  I want every day of my life to matter.  Too many of my days are being drowned in status quo and I feel poisoned.  I know in your designed purpose there is room for rest.  But there is an enormous difference between resting and loitering.  I feel like I'm a newspaper writer, leaning against a wall of graffiti smoking a joint, ignoring a deadline.  I feel urgency but no clarity.

Wow, when I read back over this, it's the honest truth but its so uncensored.  Papa, thank you that you know my heart and that there is nothing to hide.  I'm crying out for you to renew my mind.  Refresh my spirit and bring revelation.  Fresh Jesus.  Give me something awesome to do that fills me up.  Give me faith to step out in spite of my unanswered questions.  I know you didn't create me to blend in.

I love you.  In Kelanie's words,  
all I wanna do is lose myself in you....
lean back in your arms and just let go now...
let it be to me according to Your Word...
Your ways are higher than mine. 

10 May, 2010

Mother's Day

Yesterday was my first Mother's Day. Nick took me out on Saturday night and we left Aly with my parents. We had planned to do a nice dinner somewhere but we miscalculated (typical rookie parents!) and didn't allow enough time to drop Aly off and eat before our movie started at 7. So we caught what we thought was going to be a quick dinner at Dodies (but wow was the service slow and she forgot to bring Nick's salad). Then we went to see Iron Man 2.

I'll be honest. The movie was good but I only saw half of it. I kept thinking about my beautiful little daughter and wondering if I had left my parents with enough instructions to care for her. Nick reminded me that my parents had raised three babies and could certainly handle ours. But I kept picturing my baby crying, her little chin trembling and her toothless gums and my heart broke. Wouldn't she wonder why mommy wasn't there to make it all better? Wasn't it silly of me to leave her for a cheap dinner and a blockbuster? What if something went wrong and she stopped breathing? It took the wind out of my lungs with the thought that should something go wrong and she would die, I had forgotten to kiss her goodbye. I craved her smell, her warmth, her soft little feet. She intoxicates me and I was a junkie in need of a fix.

I never meant to love her this much. I'm at a complete disadvantage now.

I practically chafed through the last half of the movie--it seemed to me to be the longest movie ever. And then I jogged shamelessly from the theater to the car. We were only 3 minutes from my parents house but I ached to return to my baby. When we walked in, I tried valiantly to look at ease and calm, but I was near tears. It had been four and a half hours and a lightyear. And there she was, perfect and sleeping in her pappy's arms. He loves her too--not as much as me, but still a great love. He would protect her with his life as readily as I would mine. She was calm and at rest and I was conflicted. I had feared we were find her in tears and inconsolable. And now I realized a far greater ache: she was already beginning to leave me.

For nine months, I was her whole world. But now, already, slowly, but unmistakably and unavoidably, she is a butterfly with brand new wet wings. She still needs me very much, but she survived a few hours without her mama. She did better than I did. But I lifted her to my shoulder this morning and she didn't just curl up--she lifted her head and looked around, eyes wide open. Already she wants to explore, to see the world. She doesn't want to miss anything.

Does anyone know where the pause button is on this moment? Or a method that I can use to bottle this excruciating sweetness before it is lost forever? I realize I am being dramatic but the reality is that over and over, mothers have given one consistent piece of sage advice: enjoy it because "it goes so fast." And while the future is bright and my daughter will always be a source of beautiful fulfillment, I am already suffering the heartbreak of motherhood. My heart is forever wrapped around this independent little girl who, yes, will find her security and safety in me for a moment, but inevitably, if I do my job properly, she will spread those wings wide and let the wind carry her away from me.

So Happy Mother's Day to me. It is a beautiful thing to carry the proudly broken heart of a mother. Much to my surprise, she is worth it after all.

30 January, 2010

It's Friday, January 15th

Can’t you see that I’m the one who’ll never leave you
Been here all along / Why can’t you see
That you belong with me
-Taylor Swift

I think the thing I am most excited to learn from my daughter is childlike faith. My own faithwalk always seems to be too heavily salted with an awareness of reality and the need for a back-up plan, should God not come through. My emergency kit. My hand is always warily poised over the panic button, though never once in my life have I needed to use it.

Our new little daughter won’t have any knowledge of the risks. She won’t be born with a fear of disappointment or failure. Her only two innate fears will be those of falling and loud noises. Everything else she will assimilate as she grows. So when we train her to know that Papa loves her, provides for her, and that she should believe with all of her heart, she will. She will have no concept of naïve foolishness or mature reason. She will, purely and flawlessly, just believe.

I want to watch her and learn this from her. I would have been that way at one point. At some time in my life, I would have embarked on an adventure with God without the foghorns of balanced risk blaring in my head. I would have been the little girl with wide eyes, hair in a shiny ponytail, sticking my sticky, chubby hand in Papa’s big one and trusting him completely to lead me to a brand new place. I didn’t need to have all the details worked out before I got there—I could just giggle at the adventure and know that when we got there, He’d be with me. When I got tired, he’d carry me. When I got hungry, he’d feed me. When I was afraid, he’d be there to make me brave.

And He trains us up for an independence of sorts, but I think this is where we get off track. For humanity, training their children to be independent means a strong dose of awareness of all of the potential dangers, risks, foolishnesses and other traps. It’s more of an awareness of the bad than of the good. It’s not a growing wisdom, it’s a prepackaged set of concrete self-preservation techniques, so that in our independence, we do not have to rely on anything, including God. We find great pride in the fallacy that we are self-preserved.

Instead, shouldn’t the launchpad of youth take us to a place where we come to a growing understanding of the unlimited nature of Papa’s grace and provision? A wide, unconditional experience that we are sons and joint heirs…that His power and wisdom have been made active in us and to come into an active exercise of it?

Shouldn't all our training for Plan B (safe, low risk, anti-bacterial, back-up plan, stay, be careful), be eradicated in a solitary pursuit for the liberty found when your only structure is built by the one who created you? When your only script, your own self definition, is found in the Person who sources you? Wouldn’t it be true personal freedom to do as Jesus did—to do only what you see your Papa doing? Not bound by fear, low resources, lack of wisdom, or a shattered identity—but instead empowered and in absolute peace that you were perfectly designed and meant to walk in the center of His favor? That you ARE worthy? You cannot simultaneously be created in God's image and of low value.

It is then, when your Spirit is fueled by this intense interaction with your Papa, that you can literally throw the “is it God’s will” question out the window. Instead it becomes “Papa, I know this is where I’m meant to go—you gotta come with me.” Stale and confused is instantly transformed into fresh and clear and on fire. No wonder so many of us wake up in the morning and have no vision for the day beyond survival. We forget that our sole purpose—our only design—is to be about what we were born to do—to bring His Kingdom to earth and represent Him. Not in a false religious façade of lies, carefully-formed personas, and smoke screens, but in a humble, honest, real pursuit and awareness that the living God is fascinating, hilarious, trustworthy, full of love and dangerous. It’s our own fault that we follow human maps to find him and then either can’t find him, or we find versions so boring or invalid that we run the other way in sheer disgust.

Papa said, If you seek me, you will find me, if you seek me with all of your heart. What is in you? What raw ore is buried deep within, like the Buddha built of pure gold but covered up by plaster. Here’s a tip—your real purpose, one that unleashes your destiny and God’s beautiful design in you, is absolutely not found anywhere in the safe walls of Plan B. God is calling you out, pulling you higher, into freedom and true effectiveness. Stop waiting for Heaven to get here and get busy bringing heaven to earth. You cannot be both representative of the God of the universe, and a spectator as the world sends up its groaning reports. You are either playing your purpose—or you are a liability. We, the body, were created to need your contributions. We are truly effective when we are completed by you. We need you.

So this morning, as I wake up and realized the first thoughts on my mind were the lyrics of a song by Taylor Swift (see above), of a lover who wanted so much to be trusted and identified, I realized that it’s Friday, January 15th—and it was created with a purpose in it. To waste it in all of my assumed humanity, to fear, to set about myself backup plans and bomb shelters, would be a pity. I’ll never need them. Instead, the cry foams up from my Spirit. I’m peeling the adult rash off of my faith. It’s time to revert back to childhood.

In three months or less, a little girl will be here who will watch Nick and I. She will see everything. I want to be childlike again for her, so that all that she learns is power, faith, trust, and absolute belief. She will be my teacher. When she puts her chubby little hand in her daddy’s, she will look at him as though he hung the moon for her. And I will learn.