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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Go ahead and get lost....

Last night my husband and I were up late putting in the work that marriage so often requires. It was an honest conversation that resulted in net gains of increased intimacy & understanding.
Yes, that's a diplomatic way of communicating the idea that even though we may have argued a bit, we were able to reunite on common ground. Sometimes you have to fight for peace. I'm grateful for a husband who feels I'm worth the effort.

As I was pouring my heart out to him about some of the struggles I face as a stay at home mom, he interrupted me to encourage me to blog this one.  So he gets the credit. Or maybe the criticism. Depending on how this one resonates. ;) Either way, it was eye opening for him & cathartic for me to share with him, so I'll take his advice & put this one out there. Thanks for listening, Bryce, and also for understanding.

As a mom of littles, something I've grown accustomed to is drive by advice from other women (sometimes women who have never had children) to which I have learned to respond with an interested nod, a bit of a smile, and some sort of canned response that usually sounds like "I may look in to that" or "you just might have a point there" or "Hmmmm. You know, that's interesting". I'm not talking about the people who have invested into our relationship and genuinely have my family's best interests at heart. I think most every mom knows exactly what I mean when I say 'drive-by mentoring.'

One of the pieces of advice I hear over and over and over again is how, as a wife and mom, I should make the effort to not lose myself raising my children or get too wrapped up in my husband.
I should remain true to who I am, maintaining my identity totally separate from my husband and children.
"Don't get lost in being a mom and wife," they'll say, "because one day those children will leave you and you won't know who you are anymore...."
"....and besides, a wife who is all wrapped up in her husband eventually grows boring to him. You know, an accomplished woman is sexy & exciting...."

Am I the only one who can relate to receiving similar advice?
Is there actually an implication here that men cheat or leave because they get bored?
Oh, goodness....I mean, maybe...there may be some truth there, but...

It's as though the concepts of sowing & multiplication don't apply to pouring all that we are into the calling God has placed on our lives in this season. As though the rewards of launching our adult children into all that God has for them and enabling our spouse to chase their God-given heart dreams should somehow not be enough. As though, as the seasons change from Full-time-Mom-Mode into Empty Nester we need to have some sort of alternate accomplishment under our belts so we won't feel like child-rearing was a depletion of ourselves rather than a multiplication of ourselves. As though laying down our lives and pouring ourselves into the successes of those around us isn't a life's work from which we can experience fulfillment.

It's almost as though there are parts of ourselves we should withhold from what I would consider the most important work at hand.

But as an imitator of Christ I know that it's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me. This Christ who withheld no part of himself from those He loved; pouring out even the blood from His veins to give me life abundant. He loved me & gave Himself for me.
All of Himself.
He came to die. How's that for self-actualization?
He had no other identity from which He operated outside of who God said He was.

And maybe this is where we miss the mark ever so slightly; this whole concept of identity and self-actualization.

If we allow our identities to be wrapped up in self-actualization, no matter what we accomplish at the end of our lives it will amount to a relatively small, insignificant package.



In any and all questions pertaining to identity, the answer must be rooted not in what we do but who we are in Christ. The moment we start viewing ourselves through any other lens or trying to extract an ounce of self-worth through any other means we create a deficit in our souls that no amount of self-actualization can fill. Or anything else, for that matter. No, not even the love of a good (and interested!) man.

Conversely, a soul that allows itself to be filled with Christ and is satisfied with Him alone will never give to empty.

Because I'm filled with Christ and find my identity solely in who He says I am,
it is my joy to "lose myself" in loving my spouse and children well.
Because my soul is satisfied with nothing less than Christ Himself, it is my life's work to enable them to walk out every step of their calling.
Because of Jesus, I find life in laying mine down for them.



So please, Mamas, let this be encouraging to you when you're faced with opinions about what you should be accomplishing. There's no implication on my part that God will never have more for us.
But if 'Wife' and 'Mom' are the only titles associated with my name at the end of my life & I've done it with everything in me; that isn't just enough. That's everything.


"You surround me
You chase me down
You seek me out
How can I be lost
When You have called me found?"













Friday, July 8, 2016

#dividedbydetails...

Last night, my husband sent me a text. He knows me well enough to lead off with "I AM OK. I AM FINE..."
He asked me to turn on the news because shots had been fired at a protest in Dallas. Officers down. My heart broke because I #backtheblue.



Background on my family:
My husband is a Dallas Firefighter.
most of the males on both sides of our family have either served in the past or are currently serving the public in this capacity. Military, Law Enforcement, Firefighter. I can't even count them.


In between texting the 91st Psalm to a younger (worried!) fire wife who's husband was on scene, pumping my husband for information and watching live news feed, a friend of mine was bringing me up to speed on what happened in Baton Rouge. He sent me the video. Jesus, it was absolutely heartbreaking. I tried to intelligently express myself to him but the words just weren't making it past the shock and grief I felt for this man, watching him die. Publicly. Surrounded by strangers. Undignified.
My heart broke.

So I'm watching what this protest was about as I'm learning what happened at the protest. And praying with a fellow firewife. And for my husband. And for Sterling's family. And chatting with my friend about this video I wish I could unsee.
I'm grateful he took the time to bring me up to speed but I hate him a little for sending me the video.




I'm not armchair quarterbacking the police. I 100% #backtheblue.
They are a collection of individuals that will give their lives for mine. The peacekeepers. The thin blue line. My first responder family. The good guys.
By and large, I have a great deal of confidence that our police force are trustworthy and would sacrifice their lives to uphold the oaths each one has taken.

And I'm heartbroken for Dallas Police today.

But I can't help but wonder where the heartbreak for Sterling is amongst my Facebook Friends.
He died. Maybe he died a guilty man; maybe he died as a result of racism. But the fact remains that he died. And, guilty or innocent, #hislifemattered  because #blacklivesmatter just as much as #policelivesmatter.

And it dawns on me (finally!) that what's bugging me is that we see a death and we immediately #chooseaside and forget about compassion.
The humanity of everyone involved.

Most of my friends have been silent about Sterling and vocal about the loss of police life because, I believe, there was a chance Sterling "had it coming" and officers never do.

Does that sting? I'm sorry. I really am.

But here's the truth:
#humanitymatters

Every time, irrespective of guilt or innocence. They matter to the one in who's image they're created. Each one bears the fingerprint of the Almighty himself.
Black.
White.
Hero.
Criminal.
Guilty.
Innocent.
Sheepdogs.
Wolves.

We see a video and we immediately #chooseaside and we forget that in our heavenly father's eyes each one of his childrens' lives were precious enough for him to send Jesus to die so that we might live.

I thought of all the controversial shootings I've heard about in recent years. I thought of how we sit around and assign guilt and innocence as though for one to die guilty makes their death of less significance. I've been guilty of #choosingaside instead of just grieving the loss of a human being.

I thought of how when a mom loses a son the tears flow neither black nor white, not innocent or guilty, but salty & wet.

How when blood is spilled it is indistinguishable in the aftermath as racist or justified; it just flows and stains and cries out in remembrance of the life it once sustained. 

How we forget in the midst of controversy how when one heart stops beating someone else's breaks.

Because we've forgotten that Jesus loves the protestor no more or less than the officer.
The terrorist no less than the terrified.
The murderer no less than the murdered.
The guilty no less than the innocent.

He loves humanity. He is for us, not against us. And His love never fails-even when we fail to love each other.

And so this will continue as long as we allow ourselves to #remaindivided.

So let's have some conversations about how young black men don't feel that they are given the protection & service from our police officers they deserve. Let's talk about how #blacklivesmatter.

Let's have some conversations about how the police have to make a thousand and one judgment calls a day and some of them may not be right.

Let's have some conversations about how in this day of unrest our police need our support more than ever. Let's #backtheblue.

But mostly, let's have some conversations about how we can stand united to stop the damage humanity inflicts upon our own.
That's what should unite us.
#humanityforhumanity.

Let's keep our focus on #stoppingthedamage, not #standingwithourside.














Friday, April 22, 2016

on sensitivity, love, and balls.

Here's how my thought process works when I'm trying to decide which controversial headlines I'm going to tackle in a blog and which ones I'm not touching:

Oh, Target is allowing transgendered individuals to use whichever restroom 
they feel relates to the gender with which they identify. Interesting. Maybe I should read this headli....

"What, B? Ice cream? No, it's 20 minutes until lunchtime. No sweet treats. What would you like for lunch?" 

He wants a hot dog. Put the water on to boil and read the headline. Are you supposed to boil hot dogs? I don't even eat the things. Water logged mystery meat. At least these are Kosher. Water logged kosher mystery meat. Mystery meat... Maybe I'm using the word "meat" kind of loosely here. Will Pais want a water logged tube of not meat? Fake meat? Meat product? Whatever. Yes, she always wants what brother wants. 
Two hot dogs, no buns, one served on the bee plate with a fork, no ketchup, one served on the Hello Kitty plate with a blob of ketchup on Hello Kitty's face and no fork. 
One big boy glass that can break when you drop it of water and one sippy cup of dairy milk, served too warm to drink so she can waggle it around for 20 minutes before she drinks it and then ask me to reheat... Oh, the headline...

Interesting. Target wants everyone to feel safe, comfortable and welcome in their stores. Sounds nice. Palatable. Boy, this decision will be polarizing. What does the comments section look like? 

I cruise the comments section. You wanna put your finger right on the pulse of the heartbeat of the average American? Skim the headline and really read the comments. 

Rape... Uh huh. Judgement, yep. Impropriety... Ok... There's the cheerleader section -go Target-The pearl clutchers have represented, hell in a hand basket crowd, ok...enter the atheists...Christians quote some Bible, Atheists couldn't care less,   Calls for a boycott...a few names being thrown around.... Pretty typical stuff....

"It's ok baby, water wipes up. Get off the table, though, that's why we don't crawl across the table. More ketchup? Ok, you can do it yourself. Oh, that's plenty. Enough for six hot dogs. Excellent work....no, there won't be any sweet treats until you've eaten all of your water logged tube of not meat hot dog. No, put his back, you have your own....Bennett! Get off the table!" 

After reading the comments and skimming some related articles; some that lean left, some that lean right and some satirical, I had come to the conclusion that logic - and people that know how to use it - have left the building. What reigns in this age is emotion and fairness. Logic and truth be damned. Heartless judgmental asshole. How dare you imply moral absolutes? Nobody really has the courage for that.

I'm wrong a lot and I know it. And what's worse, my errors are often searchable by Google. I have room to grow. I get called out. I nurse my wounds, change my mind as necessary and grow. But dammit if my choice about which side of the fence I'mma stand on isn't rooted in two things: 
What the word of God says and a little bit of logic. 

Do I have an opinion that's not already being expressed in one of the thousands of "open letter" blogs written by one of a thousand of the other stay at home mommy bloggers in the North Texas area alone? 


Is there anything to be gained by expressing my opinion? 
Can I do it without slinging mud or name calling or contention? 
Is this necessary? 

Is this going to reflect Jesus' heart on the matter or am I trying to make myself look some kinda way? 

"Alright. I'll get the Easter candy box. One each. No, Pais, that's three. Choose one. Ok, two is good. B, pick another, Pais got two so you can have two...no, no video game during rest time, you already know I'm going to insist on a more passive form of entertainment. Books, a cartoon or a small toy. Ok, good choice. Crawl up in bed while I lay sister down." 

Jesus, I pray, how is it even possible anymore to raise children to follow you in light of what we're inundated with from all sides? Why do you bother with us? 
Also, thank you for that blessed two hours every day I call nap time...


The crazier and more permissive our culture becomes, the crazier and more "fundamentalist" we look when we take a stand for Jesus. 

Like, you know how we look at the Amish and think 
Man, that's nuts. Get yourself a car and a pair of Capri pants. You won't go to hell for a bit of mascara and a washing machine....

In 100 years are Christians going to be the new Amish? 

Does that even make sense to anyone outside my head? 



Ahem. I guess that's not the point, really. 
Am I going to lose a friend or two if I talk about moral absolutes and how our nation brings trouble on itself when we pander to the whims of those left on the fringes of societal acceptability? Maybe. 

Can we even talk anymore about sin? 
Should we? GRACE!!!

Of course. Because even though we can't legislate righteousness into the hearts of men we (as Christians) are supposed to know that the wages of sin is death. Sin brings pain. You know, maybe I should skip the transgender issue and finally get out this blog I've been meaning to write about why sin still matters....(***spoiler alert. It has nothing to do with judgement and everything to do with love****)

And that's the thing. We've all been such victims for so long we've forgotten that there is nothing wrong with calling sin sin and that there is nothing judgmental about calling sin sin. We become the victim of judgment when we're held accountable for our sin. 
But we aren't supposed to talk about that. Maybe that's the blog I should be writing.

Or is it the victim thing? Because the more I read about white privilege, micro racism, micro sexism, feminism, activism, bullying and free speech, the more I'm convinced that as a white woman with conservative values I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. 

Micro racism says that to raise our children to be color blind is morally reprehensible because then I'm guilty of white-washing everybody and every thing. But be very, very careful of how much you celebrate or acknowledge diversity because to some, a complement on a hairstyle or skin tone is racist. And to deny your racism is to diminish the plight of the oppressed. It can be very confusing. 



But let's skip the race thing. What about feminism? I'm a stay at home mom. Katie bar the door I'm wearing an apron and I think women are too precious and valuable to gawked at so that makes me guilty of slut shaming and I've set women back 50 years. Or what about acknowledging that with the right grin and push up bra I used to get free labor at the auto parts store in town & free cappuccinos at the 7-11 on Western Center BLVD? So, are feminists in favor of looking kinda slutty (I mean, that's a kind of girl power, right?)or are we supposed to be reminding the world that our worth has nothing to do with the way we look? So.... do we cover or flaunt?  Or how about the idea that (GASP) women and men were created to compliment- not compete with- each other? 
It's not true that anything Bryce can do I can do better. It just isn't. And Vice Versa. And holy crap we make a good team. 

 Or that genders were hard wired from the beginning of creation to be equipped for the roles in which they are typically called to serve? Gender roles? Can I talk about that? I'm not really sure. 

Or how about that grown men still can't get their shit together enough not to cry when they leave for college because somebody hurt their feelings or that there are entire novel length lists of stuff you can't say at universities anymore....

My brain now hurts, suddenly, and I've written nothing and feel more deeply than ever the division we seem to need to thrive as a race. 

And my thoughts are so far off track... But this is what I always come back to:

Jesus, how can I love more. That's all. How can I love the racists, the feminists, the socialists, the greedy and the oppressed? The transgendered, the Amish, the Baptists, and those that want to blow us to bits for being Baptist? Or maybe even Methodist. Who would want to blow up a Methodist, for heaven's sake?
I think that's the key- love & taking back some absolutes because it's what's really best for the people we love.

I guess what I'm really lamenting is the lack of real balls in the year 2016. We've all tucked them neatly somewhere behind us so we can  fit into our sensitive britches as we've come to mistake sensitivity for love. I think it takes a real pair to acknowledge that the two are not interchangeable and to stop focusing so much on being sensitive and shift our focus to what's in our best interest. 
Target can pander to the transgendered population all they want, I'm not particularly concerned about the small number of individuals who just want to pee sitting down like the women they aren't. But let's get real, guys. Dudes. Men. It's time to let 'em drop. 
Your daughters and wives are worth the backbone it takes to piss some people off for the sake of their privacy & safety. 
I guess I'm wondering where all the balls went, but then again, I'm not used to looking for them in the women's restroom, though that may very well be where I find them. 

All hate emails may be sent to 
Tayloredforthewise@gmail.com

In the subject line please include the offended affiliation your email represents so priority may be assessed before deletion. 










   

     

















Friday, April 8, 2016

I could have been a duck tycoon....


For the rest of my life, as long as I live & have contact with my relatives, I will forever be the butt of a particular joke. A duck butt.  Partly because it’s not too far from typical for me and partly because it’s 100% true but mostly because I was so sure of myself when it all started. I could not possibly have foreseen the way this would blow up in my face. But it did. Big time. I thought, since everyone else enjoys a good laugh at my expense I may as well let you in on the joke too. Have a laugh. Poke fun. Enjoy.

 

It started with two ducklings I had had my eye on for months. It may be inaccurate to say I had had my eye on these particular two duckling as when I bought them they were just about a week old, rather, I had been mulling purchasing a pair for a few months. I wanted them, I just couldn’t justify the expense.

 

“Ducks eat a lot…”

My dad would tell me. He wasn’t a huge fan of my intent to purchase said ducklings. He really tried hard to talk me out of it.

“They eat a lot, and even though you can raise them without water they really need water to stay healthy. You almost can’t imagine how much they poop. You’ll be forever cleaning their water source…you can’t imagine how much they eat and poop….”

 

Back when my husband and I were struggling to make ends meet before the kiddos came on the scene, I had been scrimping to buy two little pekin ducks from the local feed store. When I finally made the splurge and bought my new little friends, I posted their picture on Facebook. Did I mention my kids weren’t around yet? I think I may have been dealing with some misplaced maternal instinct. I’m not sure. Whatever the case, despite my dad’s warnings I was a proud new mamma duck.

The next day at work a friend of mine saw my picture of my new feathered friends and we struck up a conversation about how many of her relatives pay big bucks for 28-day incubated duck eggs. The conversation turned from duck eggs to fully mature ducks, and how her family pays nearly $30 a head for nice, fat pekin duck.

Knowing what I had paid for my two feathered friends I did a little bit of quick math and realized that if I could negotiate the purchase, delivery and sale just right, I could triple my money by delivering these mature ducks I wouldn’t have to hatch or raise or feed. I already knew where to buy them fully grown, all I had to do was pick them up, house them overnight and drop them off that Saturday.

 

I discussed this with my friend who passed the news to her relatives who then asked me to buy and deliver 33 fully mature pekin ducks.

“my friend will be waiting by the curb, cash in hand Satuday morning. Are you sure you can get all 33?” she asked me.

“Yes, but I’ll need to deliver them early Saturday morning as traveling in the heat stresses them. I’ll need to deliver them by 8:00 in the morning. Is that ok, and you’re sure she wants all 33?”

I wanted to make certain she wanted the ducks. 33 ducks is a LOT of ducks to house and feed…

“Oh, yes. All 33 for the first order but they’ll probably want more later if you come through this time. She’ll be waiting by the curb with the cash in hand. They’ll end up buying all you can get, probably.They’re pekin ducks, like the AFLAC duck, right?”

Perfect, though, I intentionally declined to know what their plans were for said feathery waterfoul.

I went home and discussed it with my husband. I had a supplier who would wholesale me all the grown ducks at a price low enough I could make a substantial profit. I had everything planned out. A solid commitment from the buyer & a fail-proof way to triple our money. Even though Bryce had some pretty serious doubts, I showed him my math. I assured him it was a can’t miss proposition. Reluctantly he agreed to help me.  Very, very reluctantly.

One of the issues with my plan was that I had no way to haul 30 something mature ducks.

I recruited my brother in law to help with transportation and he and my husband very cleverly crafted a cover for the bed of his truck. The perfect way to haul 30 something eating, quacking, feathery friends.

Thursday evening we purchased 33 ducks.

“where you gonna store them ‘till Saturday?”

Dad asked.

“oh, I thought they could live in the chicken coop until then…”

“Two days, right? Ducks eat a lot. They poop more than you can imagine. Were not really set up to house that many ducks plus the chickens but if you can commit to two days only then we can make it work…”

We set about unloading the ducks into the chicken coop and that’s pretty much when the first glitch happened. We opened the tailgate of my brother in law’s truck, set up a ramp, and instead of a nice little duck parade serenely marching right down the ramp in to the door of the chicken coop one little duck following another, one right after the other in a neat little procession, what I ended up with was a waterfall of white feathers and pissed ducks pouring in all directions, a rapids of sorts thundering out in all directions. In about three seconds I had 30 something ducks wandering around and near – but not in – the chicken coop.

It took about three seconds for the ducks to scatter and about an hour and a half for me to corral them all back into the chicken coop. Had it not been for the lingering threat of predators I probably would have left them out overnight and dealt with my losses the next morning. I was already over these ducks and our shenanigan was far from over.

It’s funny how what happens in my head is so rarely the way things work out in reality…

 

The next day I confirmed the sale with my friend.

33 ducks.

First things Satuday morning.

Waiting by the curb.

Cash in hand.

We were all set to go.

By Saturday morning 30 something ducks plus our chickens had eaten almost 100 pounds of chicken feed. In less than 48 hours those ducks had eaten two week’s worth of chicken feed. And the smell? I’ll spare you the details, but when my dad warned me that ducks poop a lot, I cannot stress to you what an understatement this was. The chicken coop was torn apart, overpopulated and particularly disgusting.

In the early morning heat my hired hand and I set about rounding up our cargo. Catching the first 25 or so was no sweat; the overcrowded chicken coop allowed the ducks little room to run. It was the last few that threatened to do us in. It took us a couple of hours….HOURS…to load those last stragglers and by then the heat and the smell had really turned my stomach. By the time we closed the tailgate on the duck truck I had lost my breakfast more than once.

A change of clothes and we were off to collect our profit for what should have been a few hours’ worth of easy work but what had already turned in to a nightmare of sorts.

By 9:15 I pulled up to our customer’s home. I saw no lady. No cash. I knocked on the door. Again. Twenty minutes later, my go-between texts. I learned that it would be just a few moments and she’d be out to make the exchange.

It’s important for me to note here that my end client spoke no English and (obviously) I speak no Laotian.  Here’s the deal- I’m not a big fat racist or anything but it is important that you know my customer is Laotian. You’ll find out why in about three minutes.

 

After about a half-hour wait, a shirtless, hungover looking gentlemen exits the home and peeks into the bed of the truck which by this time is looking a lot like the inside of the chicken coop. The ducks had been in there far too long. They were getting hot. Some had laid eggs that were starting to fry. The poor things had endured far more than I should have asked of them. We had to get them out of there and soon. The smell emanating from the duck truck was indescribable.

“We’ll wash your truck on the way home, little brother, and thanks again for all your help.”

“No problem.”

That’s the thing about Trevor. His stock answer is “no problem” to everything life throws at him, and even though he only knows one speed- the speed of Trevor- he’ll go to the mat for you no matter what you need. Now, it may take a month and a half for him to get anything done, but there isn’t really anything he wouldn’t do for you.  That’s Trevor.

But back to our hungover looking Laotian.

There was some peeking, some muttering, and then he disappeared into the home without a word and comes back with a middle-aged lady. They peeked into the truck bed together, spoke between themselves, took another look, argued a minute and turned to me. I didn’t see any cash in her hand and I was really starting to get nervous. My customer went back in her house.

The hungover, shirtless gentleman turned to me and said

“We’re Laotian”

In quite an insulted, maybe a bit indignant tone,

“We only eat muskovy ducks. Only Vietnamese eat this duck.”

He spat out the word “Vietnamese” as though he had about the same regard for the Vietnamese as he did pekin ducks. Little bit of disgust. He seemed a little hurt by my mistake.

“How dare you, lady? Who do you think you are? I wouldn’t touch this duck with a 10-foot pole, much less buy thirty of them! What do you think I am, Vietnamese?”

His eyes seemed to say.

“So….you don’t want any of the ducks?”

I asked, sensing the failure of my can’t fail plan.

“No. You bring me 30 muskovy ducks next Satuday? You were supposed to have them to me today. We’ll pay  less for having to wait an extra week.”

“so, you don’t want ANY of these ducks, then?”

Trevor and I loaded back up in the truck.  I sat in stunned silence a moment before I exploded at him. What in the world was I going to do with 33 ducks my dad explicitly told me we were not prepared to house and feed for any length of time?

I tried to call my connection, my supposed ally in this deal. No answer. I texted. I left voicemails. Nothing. Her phone had been eaten by a herd of wild badgers, I’m sure.

Trevor and I decided to get the poor animals home before they cooked back there. We discussed releasing them into the wild, but had no idea where we’d take them. I had far too much invested in those animals to dump them off, even if I was the kind of person that would abandon a poor animal to survive on its own.

We did the only thing we knew to do. We took them back home and released them (the ones that would go) back into the chicken coop.

My dad was the proud new owner of 33 ish fully mature pekin ducks. Congratulations, Mr. Trotter! Your daughter’s shenanigans are about to cost you a small fortune in chicken feed!

I had two days to stew before I had to go back to work on Monday. Aside from having invested hours of my time into this deal, I had a few hundred dollars I couldn’t afford to lose running around inside a chicken coop really only built to house a few dozen chickens. I was mad. I don’t know where the breakdown in communication was but I was mad. I was mad at her irrespective of where the actual fault lay.

So the story ends with my dad selling the ducks back to my supplier at a discounted rate, but only after having housed and fed them for another week. It was a disaster. The whole shenanigan.  It was a disaster-fiasco-shenanigan.That’s the part my family knows.

Yes, it’s hilarious. Yes, poke fun. You’re fine. Everybody else does so you may as well enjoy a laugh too.

But here’s the part I don’t share very often:

As I was praying about how to handle this situation on my way to work the following Monday the Holy Spirit kept reminding me of a story I had heard from my former pastor several year ago.

 He was discussing the story found in Matthew 8:28-34 with an African pastor friend of his.

The story is the one about the two demon possessed men that Jesus delivers. He drives the demons into a heard of pigs nearby and the Bible makes a point of mentioning that the pigs drive themselves over a cliff and drown in the ocean. I never had any idea why that’s in the Bible, it seems so irrelevant. It’s kind of awful for the pigs. What a way to go. I could never understand why that was even in there until  he shared something that, being American, I never would have been able to relate to. This African Pastor was telling my pastor how it floored him and the members of his church that Jesus loved those two oppressed men more than he cared about the economy of that entire village.

Not really being part of an agrarian society it’s easy for us to forget that a herd of pigs was probably a big part of that village’s livelihood. What impressed this pastor was how much Jesus valued those two oppressed men, enough to set them free despite a great financial loss to the village.

That story kept rolling around in my head and speaking to my heart, and I’m glad it did, because left to my own devices I would have insisted she help cover part of my financial loss, as well as compensate me for feed and time. I wanted to extract my pound of flesh and hold her accountable for her mistake. And maybe I would have been within my rights to do so, but the Lord spoke pretty plainly to my heart that in the same way that Jesus showed he cared more for the spiritual freedom of those two oppressed men than he did for the village’s economy, he cares far more about me showing the character of Christ to this woman than he did my loss of a few hundred bucks. It was a bitter pill to swallow at the time, but the Lord was using this situation to teach both of us a little something about grace and the putting on the character of Christ.

Because when our eyes are on our loss or hurt or trouble or pain and we react from that place we miss the opportunity to show people the Father’s heart.

He is gracious.

He is kind.

He is slow to anger .

And he cared more for this woman than he did my anger or loss or trouble or headache.

(wait! What?! It’s not even about me here?!)

 

I knew just enough about this woman’s personal life to know that she was watching. She was observing Christians and their behavior and she was waiting to see if our lives look at all like the Jesus we share.

Here’s what the Father said to me:

“Wouldn’t you buy, if you could, this woman’s soul for me? If you knew that her salvation could be purchased for a few hundred bucks, wouldn’t you write that check happily? Why then, would you fail to show her my heart over something as insubstantial as money?”

Check and mate. He had me.

And so Monday morning came and she avoided me like the plague. And so Tuesday and Wednesday were much the same but by the end of the week we found ourselves at lunch together. I never said a word.

So there it is.

Grace to wear the character of Christ and a little perspective to remind us that our situations (all of them!) are temporary, but there’s literally nothing of greater importance or value than the things that impact eternity.  

Hey, Trevor, don’t I still owe you $50 over this whole deal?!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

This one is just for you....


This one is for you,

My non-biological aunt, as you square off with cancer;

 My sisters in Christ, as you fight for your daughters’ lives;

My sweet friend, as you feel like you’re one calamity away from total financial ruin;

This one is just for you,

 Mamas, as you intercede for your sons in a time of crisis;

Dear friend, as you deal with the loss of someone you love so dearly;

Daddies, as you plead with God on your wayward daughter’s behalf;

This one is just exactly for you.

 

In the heat of the refiner’s fire, while the dross burns away and your faith is being proven of more worth than the purest gold; as your mettle is being tested and emotions run high;

This one is for you.

As you’re at the end of yourself looking expectantly into the eyes of your Heavenly Father; where you’re suddenly reminded of the ferocity of the love with which you’re being pursued;

As He returns your gaze, close enough fill your lungs with new breath and life inspiring praise – that recounting of His character- always faithful, always present, always compassionate and full of mercy and you breathe it in to pour back out to Him;

As you recount the quality of His character so that your soul may know-may really know- and the flames of jealous love beg of it to be completely consumed and to belong only to Him; not in part or parcel but all in all; nothing hidden, nothing withheld, no secret places of false refuge;

This one is just for you.

As you realize that He beckons your surrender of those places gifted by Him with freedom; as you willingly wave the white flag and surrender the soulish places of your being and give them freely back to Him;

As you surrender what you feel so deeply and sacrifice those emotions that seem so consuming on the altar of all consuming ferocious  love that jealously demands reciprocation;

As you give up what seems so rightly human and absolutely yours; so savagely possessed but so insubstantial;

As you wave that white flag in surrender and willingly give those parts of humanity gifted of God and gifted by God with will;

As daily He reminds you that all that you withhold from Him you mistrust unto Him; as daily you concede that to Him alone you trust all that you are;

May you then – in the face of the trial and in the middle of circumstances that are not well –say

“It is well with my soul and it is well with me.”

This one is just exactly for you.
 
 

Monday, February 1, 2016

My single resolution

Approaching New Year's Eve, I had been feeling drawn to set aside some time to seek the Lord specifically for a few things. I wanted to be intentional about putting a book end on a particularly challenging year by allowing the Lord to show me things from His perspective. I wanted to set the precedent for the upcoming year by being still long enough to allow Him to give me specific direction for the things He wanted to accomplish in us and through us and I wanted Him to speak some specific goals to me. I was expecting, I suppose, a divine to-do list of sorts.

At 11:30 I was curled up in my coziest chair, Bible, notebook, and pen in hand, heart postured to listen and obey; trying to still my soul- acknowledging His preeminence in every aspect of my life as the only sounds breaking the silence were those of the crackling fire. I started praying about what He may have in store for us as hungry flames devoured and danced hypnotic and by midnight I started to feel like I had asked a lot of questions and not received many answers. Though His presence was as tangible to my soul  as the waves of heat from the fire rolling soft and wam over my skin, I had to confess that though I was certain He was speaking, I wasn't hearing; or maybe that in hearing I wasn't understanding.



"You're asking the wrong question", He speaks tenderly; lovingly. The words light on my spirit softly, sweetly, surely. 

Sometimes the line between what can be proven by the the senses and what can be seen in the soul becomes blurred; sometimes the distinguishment between vivid imagination and the happenings of the world in which we live and move and what can be sensed only by the soul about the realm less physical become less than finite in the overwhelming presence of the one who created them.

Nevertheless, the scene that plays behind my eyes is that of a loving father, powerful and tender, almighty and all loving, gaze fixed on his daughter, whom he sees as lovely- though she be unworthy. Undivided in attention, delighting in conversation, her two small, empty hands totally surrounded by His, clutched to His chest. He is a father delighting in His child.


"I love your heart's desire-to serve me and please me and be about my business", He says with laughter forming at the edges of His kind words. 
"But I want you to ask me a different question." 

Sometimes His correction lands warmly and gently in her spirit, like an unexpected kiss on the forehead.


"I want you to ask me: 'how can I be more aware of your presence?' As often as you draw breath, I want you to remember to be aware of our closeness."


Over the course of the next few weeks a rememberance dawns on my conciousness like the sunrise- new and uniquely beautiful every morning but exactly the same as yesterday- that God became man, born only to die, to rent the veil seperating the Holy from the unclean. He wanted to be with me.

Jesus paid dearly for the access that I have into that place where God dwells; and by invitation He has made His dwelling place in me. This all-access pass into thethrone room of the Father was expensive, and at times I treat this gift with such flippancy. Or maybe I cheapen it a little by behaving as though Jesus was purchasing the work of my hands rather than 

Me.
Just me.




More than all the service I could perform in His name, more than the sum of my life's works for His kingdom - what He desired was to commune with His people; to make me His dwelling place and mine in Him. This place of communion-of intimacy- is what He loves more than anything. This is the source of the streams that spring up and make glad the city of God- the place where God has made His rest forever. The life in any work I'd want Him to do with my life.

(See 2 Chronicles 7:16, Hebrews 4:16, Psalm 87, Psalm 46:4)

And so I've made this my single resolution: to acknowledge and appropriately honor His presence in every moment I'm given. To listen and respond to His voice in the moment He speaks. To pay attention to the subtle nuances of the difference between a servant who was purchased because she was valued for her work and a bride who was purchased because she was highly valued.


Heavenly Father, forgive me for not valuing the intimacy in our relationship the way you do. Teach me to practice being aware of you with every breath I draw. Teach me to honor you. Teach me to honor your presence moment by moment. Thank you for giving everything that you are to purchase everything I am. I trust you with the work of my hand and everything you've called me to accomplish.  Thank you, Jesus, for your mercies that are new each morning. Maybe I'll get it right tomorrow.









Monday, January 25, 2016

I will bend 'till I break....

Sometimes getting real about my life through blogging is tricky because while I believe with everything in me that everything we've walked through is the Lord's to use howsoever He will, There's a fine line between transparency & overexposure. Though I hide nothing in shame, there is much I cover in grace. And so it is with great trepidation I walk the line here; revealing enough to disclose the full beauty in the way God has worked in my marriage without exposing that which grace and modesty demand I keep private. Much like a miniskirt, I suppose.

Today marks my 8th marriage anniversary, and though many of you have been married longer than I've been drawing breath this is one we will celebrate with everything in us. Late, of course, because fire wives are notoriously flexible and because paramedic school is inconveniently inflexible; but celebrate we will nonetheless. Though neither of us is particularly fond of Hallmark occasions or particularly great at remembering dates, we chose (I demanded) to celebrate particularly memorably because we remember how we almost didn't make it.



I'm not sure if Christian bloggers are supposed to admit they wanted to put asunder that which God joined together, but the truth is exactly what it is. At one time or another over the past year, one or both of us wanted to quit. We almost walked away. And had it not been for God's goodness to us in a year I would have otherwise judged as bad, we would have probably spent the Holidays trying to agree upon custodial arrangements rather than how many zip ties we were going to use to wrap my brother in law's gift.

Let me be very clear:
The things which threatened to undo us were not trivial matters; some of the giants we faced made us feel like grasshoppers in their sight. But despite ourselves God refused to allow us to watch the giants inhabit our land any longer. Though it felt like he was killing us at the time, He forced us in to a face to face confrontation with the giants we needed to stop allowing to inhabit our space and start slaying. In short, we had to stop pussyfooting around and get really real about some of the attitudes and thought patterns in our lives that presented themselves against the knowledge of God. It was do or die, sink or swim and by the grace of God we didn't tread water for very long until our feet felt firm across the top of it. Our cries for help were met with a miracle. God did what only He could do: He changed stony hearts back into flesh and transformed our Valley of Trouble into our Gateway
of hope.

Neither of us is operating under the pretense that we're done battling giants; but we've both been given a glimpse of the power of the weapon with which we fight. We've both learned a thing or two about Agape love.

The kind of love that knows it doesn't have any rights.
The kind of love that refuses to justify an offense.
The kind of love that doesn't run because it's not afraid.
The kind of love that we can only reflect because it first shined its face upon us.
The kind of love that allows vulnerability in those proud, scared, defensive places.
The kind of love that allows grace and healing to wash over wounds.
The kind of love that knits souls together as circumstances try to sever.
The kind of love that lifts the eyes off of the rocky landscape of the temporal to see the beauty God is crafting eternally.


It hurts. Not the Agape love; but the daily crucifixion of self required to reflect that kind of love.
But it heals. And it speaks grace and peace and mercy over that which demands justice in the flesh.

And so it goes that those places in our souls that were burned to ashes in the heat of battle become fertile ground; those seeds that were planted in us when we feel buried bear fruit.


And so I wanted to encourage anyone who's weary from the battle and whos soul feels dry and scorched. Don't be moved from your source of life; allow those roots to grow deeply and firmly in the word of God. The heat will come, but because of the hope we have in the Lord we will continue to bear fruit in every season of life.



And so with everything in me, I wanted to wish my hero-warrior husband a happy anniversary. From the bottom of my heart- thank you for fighting for us. Thank you for your graciousness and your vulnerability. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for allowing God to work in our marriage. Thank you for loving me despite the unlovliness in me. Thank you for the countless hours we spent hashing it out because it mattered enough to you to be passionate about it.



Thank you for not being mad about the girly and totally unmanliness of me pouring my heart out publicly even though I'm sure you will take some major crap for it.


I love you more than I know how to say.
Always, and forever, and no matter what.


I'm sorry about the quality of this particular video. It is what it is but the sentiment remains.