Capital Riot Confusion

In response to the Capital riots, I saw someone post today that it was Antifa – again – and it was a “lie” that Trump supporters were involved.

What was unique to this post, completely illogical, quite simply sad, and also revealed the level of cultish deception (don’t argue with a former cult member about cults), were the statements that Trump supporters “…are not violent” and “God loving people.”

All Trump supporters?

There couldn’t be an atheist or non-religious in the lot?
Agnostic? Abuser? Convict?

No PTSD present in the population that may cause even an unintentional, triggered, response to the chaos and mayhem? I guess not for Trump supporters.

“Not violent.” “God loving.”

Allegiance to a man (With a proven record of immorality but claims he has no need for forgiveness, having never done anything wrong) and his political party apparently determines the love of God and individual actions.

What is so grievous to me is that these are people who identify as Christian – followers of Jesus – the God who took on human flesh to model a life that was so counter culture, so full of truth, a living model of the self-awareness and humility that’s needed to avoid temptation.

A life lived completely sacrificially towards the love and care of others – especially the most vulnerable and marginalized. A God whose selfless love and avoidance of coveting wealth instructed his followers if you have two coats give one away.

The ultimate example of powerlessness and vulnerability as the WAY of the Kingdom.

The very antithesis of Donald Trump – who’s modeled arrogance, privilege, sexism, racism, covetousness, supremacy, and disdain for the marginalized.

The line in the sand is getting deeper – and wider – and it’s heartbreaking.
More heartbreaking for me personally is the ability to remain silent or find common ground amidst such confusion and deception as I look in the eyes of Jesus…

As the former member of a cult that paralleled the thinking of so many followers of Donald Trump.

Their truth is THE truth. Their ways are THE way. Their man is GOD’S man, and his (Trumps’) ways are God’s ways. No room for any other possibilities. Others thoughts are WRONG.

Dualistic, simplistic, thinking, without any logical thought. No room for compromise. Compromise is sin. Wrong. Will result in communism and anarchy. Fear, control, and manipulation from the supreme leader – who is believed and defended amidst proven lies and deceptions – the trademarks of a cult – are followed without question. Isolation from the voices of others – us against them – Anything else is fake news and conspiracy. Cult.

Again – this is not all Trump supporters as I do not do not fall prey to the same dualistic, one-size- fits-all thinking like this woman did. But to the many who continue to disregard the voices of reason, the highest courts of the land, all news media except radical right, and the degradation and insurrection incited by a man whose narcissism prevents him from ever losing.

To be silent is to be complicit.

Too many evils have been done in the name of Jesus.

God’s love in my life has been too transformational to not call out darkness when it’s wrongly called Light.

The gospel images of the power hungry religious and the vulnerable crucified is playing out in living color today as it’s played out repeatedly throughout history.

Your Kingdom come, Lord.
God have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

“Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer… Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty. I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God’s kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won’t let anyone else in either. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You go halfway around the world to make a convert, but once you get him you make him into a replica of yourselves, double-damned.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭23 MSG

Holy Lament, Holy Suffering

It’s the day where light was engulfed by darkness, friends wept and foes rejoiced. A day that death lost its grip but life was still hidden. A day full of communal lament and individual questions.

A day where death appeared to have conquered over life, leaving a trail of pain, grief, doubt, and overwhelming confusion.

A day where those who loved him were gripped with guilt and a mother was crushed to despair.

A day of total abandonment.

Holy Saturday is the stark reminder that we don’t really live in a world of black or white, yes or no, good or bad, half empty or half full, joy or sorrow, holy or unholy, godly or godless, positive or negative, joy or lament... there is no “either or” but a larger than life “both and” that God beckons us to embrace.

C.S. Lewis states,

On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the fall, and the last enemy.  Christ shed  tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.  On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it.  We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the fall.  Death is, in fact, what some modern people call ‘ambivalent’.  It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.

Holy Saturday, “a day that is consecrated to God,” and yet I find myself feeling more isolated and lonely, and far less “consecrated’ than I can ever remember.

Today was tough. My head hurt. My heart bled. God seemed far away.

It’s my first Easter without family. Three grandsons less than a half-hour drive. One of them (right) is here from North Carolina while his mother works in the ICU caring for the most critical patients, and Covid steals more lives.

A little who slept in my bed as a baby/toddler while I smelled his sweaty head and breathed in Holy Love. Now separated by an unholy darkness and a responsible choice of otherness and love of humanity.

Even family is separated in the holy otherness of life for image bearors.

The wee ones that change in the blink of an eye transforming during the deep, deep, slumber of isolation.

I don’t know when I will touch his face or hear the giggles he has for his mama. It was planned for now – before summer.

They grow so fast. I was at his birth. I held him two months later before stranger danger began and two months after that when I fought to win over the stranger danger with raspberry kisses and peek-a-boo.

It’s not the same.

It lacks the sweaty head and stinky toes.

Holy Love is wrapped in the linens of Holy Suffering, waiting in the dark and lonely tomb for the light of day.

So we wait.

We cry.

We reach.

We connect.

We hope.

We embrace the “both – and” realities of this broken world as we seek the face of Jesus who knows the sorrow of waiting in the dark.

Tomorrow will not be the expected resurrection for everyone. Many will die, many more will grieve, and many more will continue to wait between life and death, sorrow and joy, physical life or eternal life.

Both – and.

For me it will be an ever darker reminder that my vocation is once again painful, my life is lonely, the stress is great, but the dawn is near. Whether bio or zoe – physical or spiritual the God that was is the God that is.

He sits with me as together we sip a White Russian reminding me that I may cry tonight (and even tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day) but joy will arrive with the light of day.

Whenever that may be – the holder of time is holding us.

Empty roads as humanity waits.

Lenten Faith: Embracing Fairy Tales

It feels a bit like a fairy tale but we don’t yet know who will get their happy ending. Not everyone in fairy tales gets their happy ending. There is evil lurking in the woods and when we least expect him he can leap out and catch us, teeth bared, drooling for his next meal, struggling to hold us, keep us terrified and afraid to fight back against what appears to be a hopeless battle.

He comes at any time.

To all of us.

His name is FEAR.

Yet, we still walk in the woods. We find God there among the trees and flowers, among the moss covered rocks and pine strewn floors. Among the wildlife. Under sunny skies hidden by a canopy of green or glimpses of stormy clouds.

Among the darkness.

The stars barely visible remain unseen reflections of the light that never leaves us despite its absence to our unseeing eyes.

The Light of the world remains. The God who is present in the woods, present in the darkness, the Living Light, the Spirit that hovers and covers, weeps mourns, loves and listens. Never absent.

God IS

Present

Sustaining.

Holding

Guiding

Fearless

I am scared. Anyone who isn’t hasn’t yet read the fairy tale. The Wolf is waiting and he could be anywhere. I worry about my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my friends. I don’t want to lose anyone I love. I’m not ready to go. The wolf preys mostly on those who can’t run as quickly, who are more vulnerable, but he’s partial to none. Young doctors and nurses have been eaten and maimed, those who work in the darkness providing a lamp for the rest of us.

I’m really terrified about the economy. The poor getting poorer. My husband I, hoping some day for a bit more rest to become a chapter in the ending of our fairy tale, or a home we’re secure in. For a whole society who lives paycheck to paycheck and have or are losing paychecks, this is beyond scary.

I’ve responded to many large scale natural and man-made disasters. I hate the Wolf. I’ve responded to many places he has wreaked havoc. I’ve heard the stories and comforted thousands. I would rather not hear even one more story of death, see any more extreme poverty.

But I will. Willingly.

With open hands and open heart.

Because the Wolf will. Passionately. With teeth bared.

I will because the Light always exposes the Fear. The glimmer is the advent of the glare. The Wolf prefers the dark and cover of night where Fear remains strong and unchallenged.

A path is always provided. Sometimes around the bend, out of sight.

Just beyond the NOW.

Still waters that rest our souls. We are called to be human. To see humanity. To know somewhere through the next thicket are others far worse off than we are, struggling to survive, struggling to find a crumb, struggling to breathe.

Sometimes we are simply powerless. Like Christ on the cross we must walk the path of wisdom and then willingly surrender to what will be.

Some will be caught by the Wolf. Some will remain free of his grasp. Some will be rescued by others willing to lay down their lives. The Light of the Woods remains, the stars continue to shine, and we are swept up beside still waters that whisper “when you’re afraid, trust Me (Ps. 56:3)

A pandemic during Lent. The pain of suffering, the darkness of death, the quiet of alone-ness, the cessation of group worship, the unstable economy, the losses of life as we know it, the fear of what is, what will be. The emotions that Jesus experienced during his life, his Lent, his Garden, his personal crucidemic. He lived out the evil desperate fairy tale ending revealing how to embrace the power of his healing and love.

Compassionate Love made new.

Sometimes we are simply powerless. Like Christ on the cross we must walk the path of wisdom, do what we can to alleviate the suffering of others and ourselves and willingly surrender to being fully human and fully alive.

That is our fairy tale ending.

What Quiverfull Never Told Me

My heart feels as cloudy as the day. So much rain has been falling and for those of us with Seasonal Affective Disorder, rightly coined “SAD,” the dark winter season seems to be running full bore into the approaching summer. At least that is what June 21st will be called despite the weather or hemisphere one resides in.

This past Mother’s Day, and the days following, my heart hasn’t felt any more sunny than the dismal Should Be Spring But It’s Not, of my surroundings.

We have a closing on our house today. Right now it feels a bit like “too little too late.” The one week I didn’t want to move, the worst possible one this spring, was this week. Too many good-byes this week. Emotions for us both are raw, bleeding, sitting on the surface like an open wound. This week the one remaining child, the one who has always been nearby, the grandchildren who were within arms reach, is moving far, far, away.

Loss is real.

The loss of dreams, the unrecognized, faceless, nameless, losses that are deeply imbedded and underly all other losses poke and prod. I woke up before dawn this morning choking sobs.

The pain that comes unwarranted in the darkness, in dream states, and mocks the idea of rest.

Weariness has set in. Sleep eludes me. The house is bare. The boxes that surround us scream “This is your life. The dreams you had for your golden years are gone.” We are forced to transition into this new normal of health challenges, downsizing, the passing on and giving away of forty-years of parenting, homesteading, a lifetime of homeschooling, of Sunday dinners, a house full of children’s friends, and friends of friends, college students, and the Other brought home and welcomed.

Family.

A vapor blown away with the passing of time.

The realty turned dream of Forever Sunday Dinners Surrounded By All Those Grandchildren has morphed into lost dreams of geographical and busyness. No more birthday party invites or babysitting. In this era of social media, and texting even a voice on the other end has become increasingly rare. Where are the tiny faces and hands that touched my face? My husband’s tears burn my flesh hotter than my own.

Who am I without my family? Who are we?

This is what empty feels like.

And so I pray.

Not the kind of outward focused prayer with words or petitions to the God out there, but with attentive listening to know the Presence right here. Silent cries of my hurting heart flowing into the God who feels all my pain marked by blood and scars.

The in me God. The surrounding me God.

The I’ll always be here, “I’ll never leave because I’m incapable of breaking my promise to always be with you” God.

Humans can’t and won’t ever hold that space. Only God will.

The Comforter grasps me within the Trinitarian embrace of perfect, complete, unstoppable community. Emptiness is burned away by the flames of perfect Love and I can breathe here. Deep breaths fragranced with eternal belonging.

The lies of Quiverfull never told me I’d sacrifice my life on the alter of others and end up alone. The lie said we were “called to raise righteous children who in turn would raise righteous children.” They would look like me. They would be Quiverfull. We would Live Happily Together in The Think the Same Community.

They never explained that kind righteousness is born of fear, performance and identity crisis.

Not of God.

It feeds the soul of lonely, confused, desperate, people seeking love and belonging as all cults do, but the food is poison and without wisdom you drink the Kool-Aid that tells you you’re children are all you need. They are your full time job, your one and only responsibility, your Golden Crown of Righteousness. They will rise up together with your husband and call you “blessed.”

They never told me that if I raised my children to be independent, educated, strong, compassionate, individuals they would go and find their place in serving humanity. Some far away. They never explained they would be righteous because of God and God alone not because me.

Quiverfull lied and we’re alone. It’s hard. It’s sad. It’s a process of reinventing myself and resting in identity. It’s a crisis of purpose and meaning. But like all crisis it holds the Sacred Space of movement.

I guess we raised them right after all.

Trauma Written on the Heart and Mind: The tragedy of Christian “Faith”

Old silver christian cross on bible

It was a violent birth. The term violent is something I’ve embraced only recently. My husband’s pained reaction “Yes. It was,” spoke truth to our memory. It’ was twenty-eight years ago today that I felt the searing pain of a labor and a delivery that would go terribly wrong. It’s not a memory of pain tainted by the death of our infant son, or made larger than life by the exaggeration of time and trauma – it simply was. I knew something was wrong. It was my sixth birth. I’d never been so out of control because of the intense level of pain.  I’d never been so afraid – but “faith” meant not to doubt – “true” faith meant everything would be OK.

“While the heart is the doorway to the self-transcendent, it is a doorway through which we cannot pass without bringing the mind” (Benner 2016, 89).

The violence of trying to deliver a baby that was “stuck,” and needing to be turned, the ignorance of statements like “We don’t turn the Lord delivers” is a glaring example of the kind of mindless “faith” that many forms of Biblicist, fundamentalists, engage. It’s a glaring example of the lack of compassion towards those suffering from grief, loss, and trauma, and mental health issues, present in many evangelical churches today. It’s also an example of the lack of critical thinking that leaves the life of Jesus as our model, the model we are to follow, pushed aside. Jesus’ life of powerless, self-sacrificing, love and mutuality towards others has been replaced by self-interests, wealth, and personal safety.

I’ve been told that I am “extreme” when I use our example as an example of the Biblicism that effects ideologies and beliefs such as gender, healing, immigration, and nationalism. I’m not. There is a fine line between what is good and what is oppressive and an even finer line between what people consider fundamental truths and the reality of who God is. It’s arrogant to think we can truly know the mind of God. It’s not led by sacrificial love – it’s not God.

I can’t help but think that if the birth happened today, an unassisted, homebirth as part of a Christian cult, probably would have landed Dave and me in jail. What would that have gained? Instead of growing up to be contributing members of society they would have been in foster care, split up (five children are rarely kept together), and most likely statistics of the abuse and brokenness of children lacking family structure and raised in the system. We all have our brokenness to contend with, but it’s better, a step closer to redemption, a step closer to Shalom. No penalty imposed could ever overwhelm the pain of missing our child and knowing the avoidable reason for his death.

My brokenness has helped me to empathize with others, to empathize with the micro-cultures of families and systems that cause us to make foolish and mindless decisions. It has helped me to forgive the church when her Biblicism causes oppression to the fatherless, widow, alien, genders, minorities, ethnicities, etc., and strive to do better myself. To model Jesus.

We never “get over” this kind of violence against us. We never “let go of the past” (all terms others have prayed for me). We never forget. To let go, to forget, to get over it, would be to remove ourselves from the pain and injustice of it all. It would mean we enter back into a mindless faith that is, in reality, devoid of the knowledge of the transcendent. We would remove ourselves from the very redemption and restoration granted us by God when we choose to enter into the suffering of all humanity.

On Thursday night I was reminded of the tragedy of checking our minds for a group religious identity – I was frantic and stressed out about completing my Masters Project which was due twenty-eight hours later. I reacted with the full-blown traumatic stress of the past instead of the redemption of my present. I was unaware of the day, the date, and the anniversary approaching. For fifteen years I lost the first two weeks of December, unconsciously burying any pain and remembrance of December 10, 1990, until it was well past the date.  I’m now very intentional about remaining self-aware in the early weeks of December, aware of the presence of God, and aware of embracing the pain of loss. I prepare my conscious mind to avoid unconscious reactions. My impending paper clouded my thoughts, and it wasn’t aware of the date until I was reminded on December 8th.

The ugly side of trauma is that it’s always with us even in the redemption and restoration. It hides in our shadow selves, waiting for the light to dim so we temporarily lose sight of it and it can wreak havoc on our lives and emotions.

As long as we continue to bring our mind with us into the transcendent the shadow loses the strength of abuse. Instead, it becomes that constant companion reminding us that our grief and trauma have a purpose. Our lives have a purpose. We bring the shalom of God into the lives of those around us when we engage our minds in the actions of our “faith.”

We were created to be more than we are, “more mature, more conscious, more aligned with the truth of our being, and more whole” (Benner 2016, 87).

Our trauma may not define who we but it should re-define who God is.

Human hands with bread

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Isiah 53:3-6 MSG

Benner, David G. 2016. Human Being and Becoming: Living the Adventure of Life and        Love. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press.

Mothers Day Reflection: Losses, Lies, Adult Children, and Ezer’s

I haven’t blogged in a really long time. The reasons are for another day.

A new day has dawned and with it, I found my voice again. I’ll go out swinging as an older Ezer Warrior as long as I have breath.

Woman with traditional indian headdress and face paint

I’m the mother of adult children now as my last babe approaches 19. I’m not the mom I was at 20, or 30, or even 40, and I know I’m not who I will be when I say my last farewell. This Mother’s Days is the first I’m fully looking back knowing it’s quite possibly my last one with a babe still living in the house.

I have a lot to reflect on.

When my children were small people always said “Enjoy it. It goes so fast. I wish I’d____.” Many also told me that it was the best time of their lives. It all seemed so far away I couldn’t understand when they spoke of special relationships with grandchildren.

I understand.

Grandchildren are our babes, babes, and I would jump in front of a train even faster to save them – and to save our babes the heartaches of loss. We know the immeasurable love we feel for our babes and can imagine how deeply wounding the loss of a babe would be.

For some of us it is more than an imagining. We walk with the limp of experience. We look up at the stars and long for a burst of grace to see just one smile. Hear one laugh. Catch one single tear.

A lifetime of memories lost for eternity.

I’m not sure if time really lessens the pain of loss, or if the gap simply closes between the time we say goodbye and our own advancing age and hello again. 

Even without death, there’s pain. We can’t keep it from our children no matter how hard we try. We shouldn’t. Pain opens the door to joy. We are all promised suffering – some more than others. A flicker of joy shatters total darkness far more brightly than fluorescent light in sunshine.

I never wanted my children to know pain. But it’s too late.

The wounding is already done.

A broken mother, raising broken children, in a broken world – it was and is inevitable. Today I reflect on a lifetime. Thirty-eight years as a full time, stay at home mother; thirty-two years as a full-time homeschooling mother, K through 12. I am justified in saying my entire adult life and career were given to raising my children.

My whole life I’ve been their mother and his wife.

For the first time in a lifetime – I am Jamie. I’m learning what that really sounds like, looks like, and the value in it.

I am now the mother of adult children and there isn’t any manual for them; few books are written about parenting adults who will always be our children. We are now adults together.

There are things I want my children to know. For those who are fans of the television show This is Us, you understand it is all about perceptions.

“Now we see through a glass darkly” speaks to all relationships this side of Kingdom restoration.  As we see Jesus, we will see ourselves and others clearly for the first time. (I Cor. 13:12).

I believe it’s necessary to be real, to see into the lives of others, to understand brokenness that we may embrace compassion and share in suffering as God does. Maybe some child will read this and have a glimmer of recognition in their own mother. Maybe a mother will read it and have just one piece of their heart healed from past errors in judgment.

My faith has changed. A lot. I believe that age and experience, and more age, and a bit more experience has granted me the wisdom I didn’t have before suffering changed the face of God.

I want my daughters to know I’m sorry they were raised with patriarchy – with round parents trying to fit into a square hole because that’s what “church people” said we had to do to please God.

“Someone has to be in charge.”

I’m sorry that awful belief about marriage made me less than, and as children and daughters, they were even lesser than, the less than. Be unseen and unheard.

But God always sees and always hears. I believe that it broke his heart that I never told them the simple truth: “You are of full worth and value – your gender does not define you. God does. He has said you are created in his image and likeness – YOU daughters, are partakers of the Divine nature.”

I want them to know they are powerful, warriors, beautiful, talented, strong, and gifted. I want them to know they don’t need men to make them whole because God has already done that by virtue of the image they bear. I want them to know if they marry a man who empowers them to be more than who they are, embrace it, and do the same for him. Rise above Ezer, soar.

They’re strong like Jesus. 

“Don’t ever allow anyone make you feel you are a “less than” again. It’s a lie they told me, and I lied to you. Rise up.”

I want my sons to know that I’m sorry I told them to suck it up, man up, don’t cry, be tough, or otherwise deny the healthy emotions God gave them to process pain. I’m sorry their Dad was every reflected as being weak because he didn’t reign or lead in the way church people said he had to. He is kind. He leads by example.

He is the strongest man I know.

For only strong men can empower women to be their best, to lead, to grow, to challenge them, and still be fully man.

Only powerful men can rejoice in powerful Ezer women and aren’t threatened by them.

I want my sons to know they are powerful men. They are compassionate, caring, loving, gentle, and leaders.

They look like Jesus.

I want my babes to know they will always be my babes but they are strong now.

I am Jamie, I am a woman surrounded by men and women. No longer children but amazing fathers, mothers, teachers, nurses, pastors, police, military, singers, resource people, actors, artists, fighters, lovers and so much more. Image bearers.

They are my children, always, but they are God’s children, eternally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mothers Day Message To All Women. I See You.

I won’t worship with community today – no “church” services. I chose this day to sleep late and enjoy true Sabbath rest. To lament a little, to escape a little.  To ponder. To write.

Mothers dayTo be relocated in hope, deep in the corners of my mind where only God can interpret and renew the reimagining that I need to see, and hear, and feel.

And to know, I am seen.

The world only gets more broken with each passing year, gender, racial, and religious oppressions are grievous, wars and refugees increase.  In my mind’s eye, I see the suffering and loss of babies, women, and children, worldwide. The judgment that still falls upon single women and childless women, sex workers, working women, and women warriors. Expectations of what you should do and be which are so often not who you are. 

My own sadness which is a just a tiny molecule in a galaxy of intense suffering mingle with the voices of those weeping.

A close friends daughter is slowly dying. I know she is holding the pain of loss and the joy of one more day tightly together.  Another mourns her singleness and deep desire to have a child.  Yet another mourns the suicide of her son, and another the loss of her infant.  Another empty nest.

Meanwhile, multitudes are kept hidden by the abusers who hold them.

Galaxies of galaxies of pain, joy, and what is.

I no longer see a dichotomy between suffering and joy – they are held in that space between the two where hope rests and where God works – all blended together in a Trinitarian dance – the perichoresis of us. 

I will always remember my first time attending Plattsburgh Faith Assembly on Mothers Day, 2005. We had moved into the small community a month before. After about 17 moves it was our “forever home.” Our dream farm purchased in part by my father who was to move in with us. He died two days before.

The pastor had asked all mothers to stand up along the back wall. My introverted cells were freaking out over the thought, but all my kids were making a bigger scene at trying to get me to stand up. Little did I know mothers would be asked to raise their hands at “one child,” “two children” “three children” … “When he said “more than five” I knew I was in trouble with ten who called me “mom” at that time.

When you lead an active busy life the time goes swiftly. We were farmers, parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, students, community volunteers, college small group leaders – we were going to die in that community. Home.

Life was a whir of relationships. It wasn’t unusual to have fifteen, twenty, thirty people in our home. The whir was slowly chipped away but never did I imagine Dave would lose his life long job, or that a job loss would be followed by so much change.

Today I remember a better time when laughter rang and small feet ran, friends gathered, and family abounded. Before the scattering. Before the brokenness. Before the losses. Before the days of social media and cell phones further disconnected people while simultaneously shouting the joys of others. Today I’m thankful for lunch with grandkids and those who I can laugh with. I’m thankful that I can touch the lives of other women who have suffered from the loss of stillbirths, broken relationships, miscarriages, divorces, child loss, financial loss, abortions…

I see you. 

I identify with the mothers who wish they had known then what they know now. Before the mistakes and irreversible decisions. Before the miscommunications and wrong perceptions. Before the pain.

I see you. 

I join with all those whose memories of their own mothers bring visions of abuse, neglect, and pain.  Or those who can only mourn the loss of what never was, in place of joyful, motherly love.

God sees you.

God see you, loves you… delights in you. Delights in you.

You are a Trinitarian gift to the world…

…wrapped in all the mistakes, the brokenness, the pain, the hiding – the beauty. God calls you.

You.

Humanity calls you to lift up your heads and be the role models of what is real, and true, and deep, and redemptive. 

So rejoice this day, lament this day, wail, weep, cry, shout, sing, dance, struggle, rest …

I see you. 

If we have the freedom to be a voice for others, we have the freedom to be a voice for ourselves.

See them. Be heard. Be seen. 

I see you. 

 

Surviving Love: The Way of Grace in the Pain of Now

43522813 - man on path and doorway with aged clock

Love is is filled with intense emotions, joyful high’s and neverending laughter, sexual pleasures, even the joy of holding a new baby – the ultimate mama high.

This past month I’ve been reminded of the pain of love. The relationship struggles, the end of love, the goodbyes, the deaths, the letting go’s, the end of dreams, even the bittersweet emotions of parents as they give away a beautiful daughter into the hand of another, or watch a child leave for military basic training, college, or simply “good-bye” without knowing when you may again say “hello.”

For deeply passionate people love and hate, anger and joy create a place where the tensions of each must find rest. Newton’s third law:  “The law of interaction is also Newton’s third law of motion, stating that each action brings an equal and opposite reaction. Forces are either pushes or pulls resulting from the interactions between objects.

Push and pull, pursue and retreat. In relationships, we each become the object of the other person’s actions and reactions. 

Created in the image of God we are so easily reduced to the scientific matter of our creation as opposed to the spirit person God has breathed into us. Only the Holy Spirit of God – the essence of the Trinity can hold a sacred space within this dichotomy,  a third space between the dualism of “either or” in relationships. This is the place where Shalom resides yet it is so hard to locate with the broken compasses that make up our lives – our world.

This matter we live in – this ordinary creation in ordinary days are the places of extraordinary moments caught in cosmic battles of redemption.

God enters into this common, chaotic, ordinary space and simply is.

He doens’t show up through binding or loosing, by claiming or declaring, in prayer or fasting – or even seeking – He simply is.  When we know our compass is utterly worthless and we can’t find our way to Him in the desperation of trying, He is. When we are crying out in pain and anguish “Daddy, please, please help me,” as our souls are ripped asunder from the pain of this world, He is. When it feels as if we will never, ever, ever be whole again, He is. 

All of a sudden He is becomes more than the plea to find him – but the essence of the plea itself. In the calm – grace. In the quiet – grace. In the rest- grace. In the midst of the heartbreaking pain and confusion, the Trinity is holding together time and space – suspended in infinite now.

Grace

Just for a moment, He breathes for us – between the sobs, between the tears, He breathes for us. The breath of life goes in and we know and the utterance of grace comes out. We know we’ll be OK. Somehow.

We are going to be alright because the God with us sacrificed himself that he maybe become the God in us. 

It’s tangible. Real. Embracing. Otherworldly. God in Triunity with our singleness dancing in harmony, twirling in pieces of healing among the shards of brokenness. Undivided – us and Him. Infinite love. 

Even now – I am feeling the pain of a broken, wounded relationships. A few nights ago I wept those tears that rend the heavens in waves of grief but as my plea became his presence I felt the cosmic shift. I’d like to say the pain was gone but it wasn’t – it isn’t. It’s wrenching at times – but He is. To walk through fire means we get to know God’s fireproof presence. How can we know if we can walk on water if we never get tossed into the raging sea To be under crushing weight means we get to know His strength. His strength. His strength. It is only when we are weak that we know His strength (2 Cor. 12:9). I am so thankful to learn of his strength.

We never know ourselves, our strength, or what we are capable of nor do we never really know God or his strength or his faithfulness unless we’re given a chance to prove and to be proven.

So if anyone is surviving love, it is all about grace.

We keep moving forward with love, in love, revealing God in the presence of love and pray that grace will clear the path.

 

 

 

 

“Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. Lent, ashes, and mother’s love.

Children sing it joyfully. Dancing in celebration of all the good and playful engagements that childhood is made of. On Ash Wednesday the song played and replayed in mind…

“… ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

fireSurrender

Ash Wednesday is a reminder that from dust we came and to dust we will return. It is a reminder that the cross is at the end of dust.

We, His beloved, are at the end of dust. 

The forest fire wipes clean the growth of everything that is dead and barren, but in just a little while we see the new growth rise from the ashes. Resurrection.

If we can hold on just a little while longer, and sometimes just a little while longer yet. 

The earth doesn’t want the pain of fire. There is a surrender to the flames that are beyond its control. Beyond our control. Something greater is about to happen, but it is painful, oh so painful right now.

So Lent begins – ashes, ashes, ashes. 

We are reminded that all of life is a circle – a ring around which we play and joyfully sing…

…and the fire where we fall.

We are feeble. We are burned. It’s terrifying. Exhausting. We cry out for answers in the midst of the flames but all we get back is the crackling of the fire. Noise, chaos, confusion. We strain to listen for that still small voice…                (I Kings 19:12).

…we know you are there God. We are listening for your to speak. We are begging you to respond.

Are you weeping too? God the Father – is the Son grieving? Is your Spirit moving? Is the Trinity mourning with me? What does your dance look like today?  

My friend is in the fire with her little girl. Her beloved. Claire has been struggling with life-threatening medical issues for too long.  Pain for too long. A ring of ashes without the joy. Every day in March is an anniversary of one year of hospital stays. One year of turmoil. One year of suffering

Lent ushers in a long year of ashes for Claire.

The pain and the fear are unbearable. Yet God remains silent in the midst of it all and the questions rise. The unbreakable wall between the fire and safety grows bigger. All God has to do is shout and the wall comes down.

Why don’t you shout Lord? 

Why are You silent?

Why don’t you break down the wall between death and life, winter and spring, suffering and joy?

You are in the whispers, the gentle, the consoling. We have to strain our ears to listen and the noise drowns out Your voice.

Yet, You are there in the pain. In the fire. In the suffering.

In the Love

He doesn’t shout over our fears or command over the fire – He walks in the pain, through the flames, consumes the fire.

God stills our hearts. He embraces our soul. He picks us up when we fall in the ashes. He cradles the grief, the loss, the emptiness, and the questions. 

We may not know when, or how, or always have the answers we hope for – the longed for answers…

…but we have Him. 

And he remains. Even when it feels as if he is an eternity away.

God is in the dance of pain and suffering and leading the ring of weeping. He is holding our hands with a grasp that never, ever lets go. He is breathing, and moving, and flowing through the new life that springs from destruction. It’s just a tiny indistinguishable seed among the ruins right now but it is there…

…growing, yearning, reaching for the life.

Waiting

Waiting

He is nurturing the seed and bringing life. To Him, it is already a forest full of grace and beauty, planted before we were formed – growing as we wait.

We wait for the end of times that is just the beginning of something greater. As mother’s we question and cry and suffer, and ponder…

… and Hope.

We hope with vision. We believe that what we don’t yet see is greater than we can imagine. We hope for the rains. We hope for the sun to shine. We hope for the light.

We hope for Life. 

fb_img_1488550724530God, our mother hearts wait for you. Among the ashes, we wait. 

We wait.

We love.

We surrender.

Please pray for Claire and Claire’s family. 

(Ring a Ring o’ Roses is not about the plague, that is an urban legend.)

For more on Lent and Ash Wednesday.

when the 3