Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Who's Next?

A five year old generally doesn't listen too closely to the news, so I was unaware when the Roe v Wade decision made the headlines. As a middle schooler, my conscience was jolted awake when I sat in a sea of hands as the teacher took a poll of who in my class supported abortion. That was a lonely day for my 12 year-old heart. Back then, my classmates didn't have the advantage of pictures of babies, in the womb, sucking their thumbs or recoiling from pain. And what could I do but recite Psalm 139:13-14?
Who was I to say?
What could I do but pray?
Years later, while volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, I discovered I, myself, was pregnant. We laughed about the baby's bed being a dresser drawer...our apartment was so, so tiny. I was over whelmed and quit my volunteering.
As my baby grew and I felt those first kicks,
I had to wonder how we would care for her.

What I believed by faith became sight during the first ultra-sound.
I had to ask "How can they not see and say: that's life?"
Again, what could I do but pray that things would change...that technology would prove...that "doctors" performing abortions and politicians and scientists and desperate mothers would concede: "that's life"?!
Well it's been 26 years since my first ultra-sound pictures revealed to me our beautiful daughter in utero.
I have known as well, pictures revealing babies I would not get to meet in this life.
Babies still and lifeless, that broke my heart.
Technology has developed at mind-blowing speed. Today most scientists and ethicists concede that indeed, human life DOES begin at conception. A fetus IS a human being after all...according to science.
So, how can it still be that these lives are not protected? Why is it that these unborn human beings are not part of the human rights frenzy that is our culture?
It is because they are still not considered people.
If you thought being human and possessing personhood were one and the same thing, welcome to the new millennia.

Ever hear the phrase : "I think- therefore I am"?
It may be the saying of a 17th century philosopher, but it is alive and well.
We have severed the mind and the emotions from the body. Christians do this as well, when we act as if all that matters is our soul. But a body, mind and soul fully integrated, is exactly what it means to be human.
We have whittled personhood down to simply a state of the mind, (brainwaves excluded).
When proabortionists elevate self-awareness and self-reflective abilities to define personhood, who is safe from their radical pro-death agenda?
Who's next?
I know plenty of full grown adults lacking self-awareness. And what power-driven politician is actually taking time to "self-reflect"?!
The ever fluid definitions of "viability" and personhood reveal that the issue of the rights of the unborn are ignored and commodified because "every man and woman is a law unto themselves". Who gets to say "This is a life worth living, worth giving?" Anyone. There is NO line, no sticking definition because we have removed the One who has defined life- from our minds, our hearts AND most definitely from our bodies.
Think about this if you believe compassion means ending a life because of lack of clear "viability":
Lord Byron had a club foot. He would be of questionable viability today, but he lived and wrote some of the most beautiful words the world has known.
Some of our most inspirational athletes were born without limbs.
We celebrate the music of blind musicians and deaf dancers and actors.
Who among us has NOT been most inspired in our lives by those who have overcome tremendous adversity. And how many precious and loved premature babies, having survived with the development made possible by modern medicine, filled the lives of their families with immeasurable joy? How many adopted babies have filled the waiting and longing arms of moms and dads who cannot have their own?
Which one of us would be so bold as to claim their lives have not been worth living?

And just for thought, Adolf Hitler, Al Capone and Osama Bin Laden were all born perfectly "viable".

Thursday, January 3, 2019

I Like the Day- Happy New Year!

I like the day.
I do not like the night.
Why then do I also like to stay up late and sleep in?
I don't make sense.
More accurately-
I like the light.
I do NOT like the dark.
Night is dark.
Night is tired.
Night is lonely.
I'm so thankful God put boundries on darkness.
I'm so glad His voice shot light into everywhere.

Christmas is over but my mostly unadorned tree still sparkles with white lights.
The lights bounce on windows, the dark panes of night.
I can see what's here, in the light...
But not what is out beyond the frames and glass.
My dog barks at deer I cannot see; at least I think they're deer!
Like the one I hit on Christmas Eve-
because it was night
and I couldn't see.

So like a new year.
We cannot see what's in front of us,
waiting in the measured future.
We stay up late December 31st, squeezing every last drop from the year we've known,
maybe say hello to the one we do not...and retreat, to sleep in.
I know there are those who rush to what may be,
sometimes me
as well.
But only when I anticipate what is to come is better than what has been.
So I say to God:
"Speak light! Speak light into the formless void of 2019, into the hiding and biding things!"
And because He will, we rise from the night and into the light.

“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.

The sun will no more be your light by day,
    nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your God will be your glory." Isaiah 60:1-2,19

Monday, October 29, 2018

"If I were..." Mary and Martha


There was a bird
riding the wind
rising up and up-

how I wished
that I were him!

But I am a woman
sticking to ground
waiting tick and tock-

how I hope
to be unbound,

and fly this survey of forests hidden by trees.

At some point Mary and Martha had to give up their wonderings and embrace the unknown...the mystery that God is.
Jesus raised their brother.
Those questions were answered.
But then-
Jesus died.
Another three dark and awful days they waited-
before He was back to answer more questions.
This rhythm of desperation and rejoicing
of doubt and faith
of searching and seeing
This is life.
He rustles around us and with us even when we can't see Him, feel Him, hear Him
and we are left to wonder.
But mystery is not our enemy.
Mystery can be our friend
taking our hand 
pulling us into trust.
after all, 
"Faith IS the evidence
of things unseen..."
Hebrews 11:1

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Being Me- Luke 10, John 11-12

I'm sitting on these little character sketches like a hen on eggs.
Hatching is very much anticipated but the wait makes me wonder if anything living will emerge.
Today it dawned on me that I've been writing: "If I Were's" when I'm not.
I'm not John the Baptist.
I'm not the woman at the well.
No wonder there's no rumble in my nest of ideas.
So today I pick Mary. I like her. I relate to her.
Not the Mother of Jesus- Mary, but Mary who sat at Jesus' feet-
 I like to sit at His feet.
Mary who poured out the expensive perfume-
I'm always trying to think of what I have to offer Him.
Mary, whose brother died and was risen-
I've certainly seen things come to life in me and around me, things I thought beyond hope.
Mary, who Martha thought should get off her duff and wrestle a chicken into a pot-
I have been lazy, and I'm sure people have wondered what I'm doing sometimes!
And I most definitely avoid cooking if I can.

But I do have to give it to Martha, hard worker that one...and assertive:
"Jesus tell my sister to help me."
"Jesus if you had been here this wouldn't have happened."
Martha is admirable but she may have scared me...

If I were Mary

I heard my sister banging around in the kitchen, Martha had many wonderful qualities but self-control was not one of them. Guests like to eat, that's true, but Jesus wasn't just any guest!
And I have strengths as well, but cooking...
Cooking could wait!
As much as I hated feeling the pressure of my sister's expectations and her distress,
 Jesus won.
Then she came storming into the middle of our little circle and in front of everyone humiliated me!
Basically calling me lazy and accusing Jesus of not caring for her trouble.
I kept my mouth shut, internally defending my choice to sit and listen and learn.
Jesus calmly (and I have to say compassionately) put Martha in her place.
He actually defended me and the fact that I wasn't running around...like the chicken Martha would have preferred me to be serving up!
Instead of reprimanding me, Jesus refused to take the moment from me and encouraged Martha to come join us.
I loved it!
I just yearned to be still and hear from Jesus. There was plenty of time to deal with the details. This time-was HIS time.
I loved Jesus so dearly I could have sat there at His feet all day...
gotten some rest and sat back down the next day.
If it were up to me, everyone could figure out their own food.
I just wanted to save my energies for this: the words of Jesus, The Word.
And I did learn; following and listening
and Jesus visited us often.
But when my brother Lazarus became deathly ill and we sent for Jesus, He didn't come.
I was so desperately confused. One day lapsed into the next and Lazarus faded away from us.
How long did Jesus wait? Why?
What kind of love was this to have the power to heal and not

So I sat in my grief, while friends gathered around and stared at me helplessly. I just wanted to be as alone in my house as I felt in my heart.
I didn't want to hear from them, didn't want to answer any more of their questions.
Where was my friend-
I heard the door creak and glimpsed the rustle of Martha's skirt.
Where was she going?
Then a whisper of Jesus' name.
Now?! He comes now?
Please! Why bother?!
I just couldn't bear to look at Him.
And thought "He can just keep all of His shmoozy lies to Himself."
With a friend like that...
Martha came back in, leaning closely and with uncharacteristic tenderness she whispered,
"Your teacher is here and asking for you."
Those words popped the bubble of my emotions, releasing me, propelling me even!
I ran to Jesus and collapsed.
Sobbing my gut wrenching bewilderment to Him.
And Jesus cried with me.
My friends took Jesus to the tomb and when Jesus asked for the stone to be moved, Martha warned Him how long Lazarus had been in there.
I just stood by, gaining back my composure and wondering what He could be thinking...trying to read His dark expression, his reddened eyes.
Again Jesus addressed Martha directly, correcting her word with His.
Jesus then, lifted His face to Heaven and thanked God for hearing Him; but what had He asked?
The next moment I knew. I knew what He asked and I knew why He'd waited.
Jesus called
and Lazarus, my dead brother walked out of the blackness, bound.
"Unbind Him" Jesus commanded.
And as they stripped the layers of filthy rags, something came unbound in me as well.
My heart and head felt as if I would fly into shards across the barren earth.
I was never the same. None of us were.

About a week before we celebrated Passover, Jesus came again. and again I was over-whelmed with emotion. Again I couldn't frame it,
couldn't contain it
...I wanted just to be with Him but simply sitting at His feet was somehow no longer enough.
"What can I do for Him?" I asked myself.
The best I could think to do was give the best that I had, an expensive perfume.
If I thought more about it, I may have changed my mind; so without further consideration
I poured the whole thing upon Him.
Not having slowed for ceremony or towel, I used my hair to wipe His feet.
Judas, always thinking of money, was disgusted.
He took up where Martha had left off in critiquing how I loved Jesus.
"Why was this ointment not sold to help the poor?"
And once again Jesus responded, "Leave her alone, let her have this moment. Let Mary, be Mary."

And I will be,
for Him.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

If I were: The Woman at the Well (John 4:7-41)

    I stared at him. "I'm bored with you", I thought. "You're no different than the others, just another disappointment. Why am I wasting my time with you?"
I grabbed my pitcher and headed out and away, hoping beyond hope that today would be different, I could be different...I could find someone or something worth my time, a reason to keep looking forward, someone who wouldn't come and go, like all the others.
As I approached I saw a traveler...this is what I was secretly hoping for, a diversion...but it was obvious as I got closer, he was a Jew. My heart sank.
I'm used to people, men in particular, staring at me...sizing up what I can offer them. At first I thought this one was no different, Jew or not.
But then, He asked me for a drink.
 "Well," I mused "you must be even more desperate for a diversion than me", but of course I didn't say that! Instead I asked the obvious, "How come you, a Jew, approach me...a woman, a Samaritan, to help you?"
His eyes unnerved me. What was I to make of him?
Curiosity tugged.
"If you knew just how much God wants to give you and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water."
Riddles...why was he talking in riddles?! What is living water? I am not one to miss an opportunity; how could I try this living water?
Did this man know something I didn't? We had some common ancestry but these Jews were always thinking themselves superior, purer, more entitled. I had just as much right to any water in these parts as he did. We've been drinking from these waters for generations.
He interrupted my thoughts, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again and again,"
Ha! How well I knew. If there was anything I knew it was thirst...endless, unrelenting thirst - literally creaking to be quenched.
"but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water I give quenches thirst forever, like a gushing internal fountain!"
"Hallelujah!" My mind raced...I'm tired. I'm hot. I'm thirsty! I'm sick of making this same trek day after day after day and still I must keep coming back. "I must have this water you're talking about!"
The man looked deeper still into my eyes (if that was even possible) "Go call your husband and then come back."
What?! I knew it! A catch, there was always a catch. Oh well,
"I have no husband" I blurted.
"So true! You've had five and now you are with a man you didn't bother to marry!"
Just my luck...A Jew AND a prophet!
What business had he in commenting on my life? I admit I'm a bit of a mess; but who is he to tell me? Jews, always judging! I wanted him to mind his own business...
"Live your life and worship God in your own way and I will in mine."
But He wouldn't let it be; He wouldn't let ME be!
So He explained to me that life with God is not a who's who game...we have a common Father who invites us all to so much more than duty and tradition.  It was becoming clearer to me that we weren't really talking about water at all! We were talking about life...deep life, real life, gushing life!
This man, how did He know these things? How could He offer  a woman like me such promises, as if I could just come to God as I was?
And then, something inside me recognized hope like this...of knowing God as one of His very own children, it sounded a lot like the hope of Messiah. This hope had always seemed so far off. I had figured life was life and I made of it what I could. The "someday" of Messiah had always seemed so far away,
I could wait to really try to understand...couldn't I?
"I am He"
He interrupted my thoughts, again!
"I am He"
Just then a group of men, apparently with him, approached. I could tell by their murmuring to each other they were wondering why He was talking to me...but amazingly none of them said a word to Him about it.
I felt dizzy...stumbling from my jars I ran in the heat and the dust, waving my arms and yelling to everyone I saw: "Come meet a man who knew everything about me! I think it's him...the Messiah! I can hardly believe it!!"
Knowing me...knowing there was plenty to know about me, the people were compelled to go after him. They were curious as I was, thirsty as I was. And in meeting Him, they saw for themselves the truth of God's Spirit in Him. And we all knew,
He was everything we ever hoped for and more than we ever wanted.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Stop Being a Wimp!

God called me a wimp.
Well, maybe not quite that bluntly but I am confident that is what was meant to be my take-away!
I was stewing over feeling misunderstood, again. Frustrated that what I thought I had clearly communicated didn't even register, again.
Angry that as a result, something I had looked forward to now felt like punishment, again.
People just don't seem to hear me...
Poor me.
God said (did i imagine it?) "Then make yourself heard...stop being a wimp."
Am I a wimp?
Over the next several weeks I thought about this conversation with God, considering my go-to MO:
Step One- Discover a desire, preference, opinion, intention
Step Two- Question it...i.e. Is it fair? Is it selfish? Will it prove to be true or successful?
Step Three-Tentatively and quietly allude to the thought with involved parties, being sure to avoid demand or aggressive communication.
Step Four- Begin to worry whether the parties involved acknowledge or agree and perhaps make a  subtle re-mention.
Step Five- Resent not being heard...or misunderstood...brain-storm ways to still carry through with said thought or desire.
I think my MO could be called passive aggressive...which is a psychological term for wimpy, self-assertiveness.
In order to avoid seeming bossy or over-powering, I am unclear. In order to avoid being the owner of a bad idea, I am covert. In order to achieve what I want while still feeling good about myself I make "suggestions" that really in my heart were demands all along.
My feelings about many things are not wishy washy but I communicate them as such, and in the end the true nature of the depth of my convictions comes leaking out in destructive ways, trapping me in outcomes I never intended.
Of course...this interior maneuvering has been largely subconscious, until God said "Stop being a wimp".
He is teaching me to take responsibility for my convictions and the outcome of living by them-whatever that may mean, free to be who I am because of trusting in His love and good intentions.
And that leads me back to John the Baptist.
Here was a man who lived by his convictions; a man who spoke things like He saw them.
John was not sneaky...he was blatant.
"See that man- that's the son of God."
"See that king- he took his brother's wife...that's just plain wrong".
And this kind of courage to speak truth cost John his head.
What were John's reflections while he languished in prison...considering his fate?

      I wanted to go with Andrew and John as they  followed Jesus but I was supposed to get people ready to meet Him...not follow along myself, wasn't I? I still hear the words Jesus spoke to them drifting over the Jordan: "What are you seeking?...Come and you will see".
The memory haunts me now.
He could have invited me along...couldn't He?
I could be with Him now but instead Jesus seems to have forgotten me altogether.
Who can I possibly prepare to welcome Him from this cell?
John and Andrew have visited and excitedly described all that Jesus is doing.
I trust they share their experience with Him in hopes of comforting me...
but what am I to think when the supposed One who came to set us free, leaves me behind bars?
I'm straining to quench my thirst with mis-directed rain water while He turns water to wine.
I'm deserted while He enjoys crowds of followers.
My eyes are unable to focus in this darkness while He makes others see.
Have I been played the fool?
Andrew and John also shared Jesus' words...
"Blessed is the one who is not offended by me."
It dawns on me that what Jesus is doing of miracles, He will not do for me...
His kingdom IS at hand but that looks a lot different from where I'm sitting.

John had Jesus' deepest respect (Matthew 11:11) yet, Jesus' work on John's behalf seems a far cry from John's intentions. John lived his life with courage and conviction and in the end he learned to trust.
Jesus' love set him free.

When like committed linnets I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetness, mercy, majesty,
And glories of my King:
When I shall voice aloud how good
He is, how great should be,
Enlarged winds, that curl the flood,
Know no such liberty.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage:
Minds innocent and quiet take
That for an hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

-Richard Lovelace, second two stanzas of: To Althea from Prison

Thursday, July 26, 2018

"If I Were..."

"Exponential" is a fun word to say but I wish I didn't have to use it to describe the rate at which time flies. "Blogging" is a really fun word as well. Go ahead and say it; "Blogging". There's just something about the b with the l and the gg in the middle that makes me feel as if I'm spitting and choking at the same time and yet enjoying it. Along with a gazillion other people, I enjoy blogging - not just saying the word.
But there are three personal impediments to blogging:
1. The exponential rate at which time flies past me, stampeding my to-do lists .
2. The nagging feeling that it really just boils down to a self-centered pursuit.
"Read what I think"
"Look what I did"
3. A growing disdain for facebook, the only avenue of marketing no-name amateurs such as myself.
Putting all that aside...
I have an inspiration to write a series of blogs called: "If I were..."
These will be meditations on interactions with Jesus in the Gospels.
Trying to use my imagination as if I were the Biblical character with Jesus is even more fun than blogging. My hope is that I will get better at it as we go and I hope anyone who bothers with this blog, will try it for themselves. After all, Jesus isn't just a word...He is THE WORD. He isn't just a product of imagination. He is real.
Ignatius of Loyola encouraged his students to read about Jesus with imagination. And in so doing, meet Him in a new way.
"Scripture is living. It's meant to take root, growing and flowering in the heart and mind. Don't just know what the story says; know how it feels..." Recapturing the Wonder, Mike Cosper.
What if it were you catching the fish, receiving your sight, or watching Jesus die?
I'm beginning with the first to testify to the reality of Jesus, John the Baptist.

If I were John the Baptist…
I stood, waist-high, in lotus colored waters calling to my people “Turn back to God! Come back to a relationship with Him. Live honest, generous lives- characteristic of God Himself! Our moment of liberation is here! Our advocate is close by and ready to fight for us. Get ready to join Him in the battle!”.
Every day I searched their desperate eyes and challenged them to humble themselves, daring them to continue in hope for God to make good on His promises.
My own heart dangled in desperation with them; but I was not going to just sit around. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t dreaming of helping God’s people prepare for their Messiah. My mother loved to tell me about a confidence she had that my cousin, Jesus, was the One. So I had waited and watched Him with growing urgency. My people should not, could not continue on in abuse and faithlessness, weak in every way.
And this is where I stood and what I was thinking the day He came to me.
Down the bank as rocks tumbled, Jesus came to me.
Into the rivers of baptism, he came to me.
And everything in me repelled the thought of His obvious intention.
I am a man of authority myself...I am “the baptizer”. But in that moment my need of Him was overwhelming; how could I not protest?
I stared at the face of my cousin and felt my whole life gather itself up into a drop that fell and joined the cool swirls around us.
“John, you must allow what I am asking of you... this gathering of God and man...the reign of His life in yours and all these ones around us, now!”
His leanness filled my arms.
His face dropped beneath, obscured.
Then up He came. Light ripped and slipped from heaven, resting on His shoulder and with it an eerie silence gave way to a voice “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
If I had had any doubts...and if I'm honest, I had- they scattered.
I was holding in my arms everything I needed...but He wasn't just for me; I had to let Him go.
So, I watched Him-
climb the bank, scattering more doubt and more stones as He went.

And I threw my voice to the wind...to my followers.”Follow Him!” I heard myself yell, “He is the One- God's own gift, the One I've been trying to tell you about!”
Their eyes turned from mine to His, as the tongues and the waves wagged around me.