Micah 6:6-8

"But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don't take yourself too seriously-take God seriously."







Friday, February 23, 2018

Make American Serve Again

The "Make America Great Again" slogan has never appealed to me. Mostly, because of this Jesus I follow. Jesus challenged our expectations of greatness. The Jews wanted Jesus to be the political ruler for their own country. Jesus is far too great for one single country to claim as their own personal ruler. In our current climate, it often feels like American Christians claim this idea. I don't really think American Christians would say it out loud, but when we carry some of our thoughts, ideas, and requests all the way through, it's what we are suggesting.

When people are asking for America to "be great again" it is usually in reference to issues of immigration, jobs, and security. The suggestion is to look inward, build up America from the inside, rely on no one else, and help ourselves first. Which, as a regular human, makes a lot of sense. The problem is, when compared with what the Bible says about greatness, I realize all those suggestions will actually make America weak. Jesus had a lot to say about greatness, his own disciples argued over who was the greatest among them. Jesus says, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28)

So, as I understand this, if someone truly wants to make America great, then America must serve. America must serve. America must serve. Serve who? If anyone takes the time to look at world wide statistics, it's easy to see that many Americans are rich when compared to the world. If you are someone who makes over $50,000 a year, you are in the top 1% of earners in the world. Top 1. That's not a typo. $50,000 does not feel rich living in America, but we live in a world. God loves the world and Jesus has a lot to say to us top earners, "How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:23) It has only been in the last few years that I realized when Jesus is talking about the rich, He is speaking to me. The global perspective makes it so.

According to World Relief, America is taking in the fewest number of refugees this year than we have since the refugee program began in 1980. This year, a year in which we have more refugees in the world than ever before. Slavery? More slaves (sex slaves and workforce slaves) than ever before. Research poverty facts and stats (www.globalissues.org) for some staggering numbers. Americans spend 8 Billion a year on cosmetics. It would take 6 Billion a year to provide basic education worldwide. We scream that we can't take care of the world. The irony is if we were comfortable with the look Jesus gave us, by simply spending less on cosmetics alone, we could educate the world.

I started these random thoughts several weeks ago, now I am typing after the most recent school shooting. As it always does after these events, everyone lines up on sides of gun control or no gun control.. I've never seen this actually discussed like adults, only useless memes on social media. How are we here again? It isn't just about lack of mental health resources. It isn't just about gun control. It isn't just about greedy politicians willing to sell ALL of us for the seat in their office. I believe it is about the first thing that God said was not good. Way back in Genesis, God looked at this and proclaimed, "It is not good for man to be alone"(Genesis 2:18). This is about loneliness to the core. Loneliness so deep that most of us cannot fathom. Loneliness that creates a vacuum that cannot be filled. Loneliness that reduces all human life to nothingness. A young man, with known mental illness, experienced the death of both his parents, expelled from countless schools, and described as someone that everyone else stayed away from. How in the world can we reach the lonely? The isolated? The hurt? How do we reach a school shooter with love and humanity before they ever desire to purchase a gun? If guns really don't kill people, then the natural completion of that line is, how do we help people before they pull the trigger?

This make America great again mentality is dangerous for a lot of reasons. Ultimately, it is most dangerous because it will destroy us. God promises us that. He says whoever wants to be great will be humbled. (Luke 14:11) How much lower can a nation be than to be afraid to send their children to school? How can we not see that our efforts to continue to be the greatest by human terms is actually causing our demise?

Imagine if we actually did love and support people with a percentage of our income? I imagine in foreign countries these starving, barely clothed children, ripe for brainwashing, being scooped up by terrorist. They are fed, clothed, and taught that America is the enemy. America is why you are poor. Americans use all the resources. Greedy America. An easy sell, since we are in fact, greedy.

I imagine lonely kids here in our country. Teased. Hurt. Afraid of what is happening to them next. Bad grades. Worse schools. Long walks home. No support from others. Starving for love to the point that they no longer want it. No one has noticed them in years. Easily brainwashed by anything from video games, to movies, to their own delusions. Hard to combat, since they are in fact, alone.

Imagine that same scene in a foreign country. Barely clothed, starving children, being offered food, clothes, and a well maintained school, funded by Americans. They can stay in their own country and learn. If they aren't hungry, if they aren't naked, if they are learning, it's not so easy to convince them that Americans are bad. Especially in this scenario, American's aren't greedy, they are giving. In this scenario, we have loved so well, an enemy was never created. It's hard to hate someone who genuinely loves you.

Imagine those lonely kids here in our country. Imagine if we could identify them early? (We know we can, everyone saw this coming). Imagine if their needs were met, if they were clothed, if kind, strong, loving adults came along side of them? Imagine if people invested in these kids instead of moving further away from them? Imagine if we kept them so involved they didn't know what isolation felt like. Imagine if we could have a conversation about how to combat loneliness? Imagine if we could love so well, a school shooter was never created? Imagine a day that we didn't even need to decide if guns or people were the problem?

If our only argument in this fight is about our own rights, may God deeply convict our hearts. He calls us to love God and love others. Even when it does not make sense. Even when it feels like all our resources are being used for others. Even when we feel stretched. If Jesus can come off His throne, walk on this earth, love us in our fallen selves, then lay down His life in the GREATEST act humankind will ever know, how dare we even suggest we have the right to do anything other than take care of each other. Maybe that's why we aren't so great anymore? Maybe, just maybe, this Jesus is right after all?

"'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Cor. 12:9-10)

Make America Serve Again

May God help us find our neighbor and love them well.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

If

If you marched this weekend, but don't know anyone who didn't,

If you didn't march, and don't know anyone who did,

If you voted for Hillary and don't know anyone who voted for Trump,

If you voted for Trump and don't know anyone who voted for Hillary,

If you are against abortion and have never talked with someone who had one,

If you are pro-choice and have never spoken with someone who isn't,

If you want to force all the illegal immigrants out of America, but you have never looked one of those people in the eye,

If you think America should open it's doors wide, but haven't spoken to a victim of terror,

If you have no idea what started the conflict in Syria,

If you have never considered how it must feel to be a refugee,

If you are a strong supporter of marriage equality and haven't talked with someone who disagrees with you,

If you believe there should only be heterosexual relationships, but have no friends who are homosexuals,

If you are Muslim, or Christian, or Jewish, or an Atheist, or any other belief or non belief, but have no meaningful conversations with a person of a differing view,

If you don't like judgmental Christians, but realize you don't actually know a believer,

If you think only Christians know the way and you have spoken to no one who challenges that,

If you only read articles from The Huffington Post,

If you only watch Fox News,

If your only source of news is friends on your Facebook feed,

Then I must simply tell you this:

You are the problem.

Not the government, not the church, not religions, not extremist, not liberals, not conservatives.

It's you.

And some days it's me.

When we take a side and cling to it so tightly that we don't engage in conversations with people on the other side, we become the extremist.

When we can't even think of one friend who would sit at the table with us and eat dinner, even though we disagree, we become the terrorist.

When we make grand statements, without so much as a thought as to how it feels to someone else, we become the clanging cymbal that no one hears.

If you will allow me to speak about Jesus; He shattered all preexisting stereotypes. He was so radical because He went to the table, He found the people in the margins, He included the world, and He spoke to people on the other side.

We are given the beautiful story of the woman caught in adultery being drug to Jesus, we know all of those who brought her left. Why? Because Jesus asked them to throw that rock, if they have never sinned. One by one they left. Don't forget the next part. When Jesus did correct her, no one else was around to hear it. Jesus loved her too much to leave her as she was. He called her out, to a better life, to a life filled with Him. He did so, after all her accusers left.

So no matter what side of any debate you are on, just know that if you are the one dragging people around in the dirt, you won't get to see any outcomes.

If you love those on the other side of any debate, it is a win for everyone. Do you know what Jesus saw when He sat down at Zaccheaus' table? He saw a person. A person who He valued because He valued lives. All lives.

Get to the table. Get to someone on the other side. Have coffee. Hear their stories. Allow both of you to be challenged.

Here is what I have been challenged with lately. And here is my question for all of us.

What belief do I currently have that I am wrong about?

No one can be right about everything.

Therefore, I currently believe something that is wrong.

What is it?

"If we agree on everything, one of us is unnecessary" (I don't know where this quote is from, but it's a favorite in our marriage).

If we all think much harder about the ways in which we could be wrong, instead of clinging to all the ways in which we believe we are right, it could be the game changer.

No matter which side of all the many debates you have found yourself a part of; rest assured that each of us are wrong somewhere.

How blessed are we? How can we possibly bless others?

What change starts inside of you today?


~If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (I Corinthians 13
)

Use your voice. Don't be an echo...

Just Love.



















Thursday, October 27, 2016

"God Bless America, and no place else" ~Head of State

I have two kids. I love them both so very much. Although they have drastically different talents and interests, I strive to invest in both of their lives in meaningful ways. I dare say that if I had a favorite, if I only loved one of them, it would be considered abuse.

I have known for a while now that American Christianity looks different from the rest of the world's. This election has magnified those differences to amazing scales. I've read blogs that suggest Jesus is for a platform or an agenda. I've heard Jesus reduced to a small political judge, holding a Supreme Court Gavel. And just today, oh today, I read something that suggested it is not enough that God will still sit on His throne after the election. Seriously? Is there anything more threatening than God no longer being God? Clinton is that scary? Trump is that bad? Can we please reframe?

I'm going to say something. It's HUGE. It's shattering. It's way crazier than classified email and bus conversations. It's very radical and might alter the world.

God. He actually loves the world. To say that He cares about American politics makes about as much sense as believing that I'm concerned about who is the ringleader at the local circus. I mean, I guess I care, but I'm a little more focused on other tasks at the moment.

We are all God's children. The Iraqi muslim? God's kid. The Syrian refugee? God's child. The Afghani woman? Still His. The homeless in Haiti? Also His. You? Yep. Me? Thank the Lord, yes.

God doesn't just love America. Therefore, I have to believe He is also invested in those Mexicans we are trying to keep out. I honestly read something today that said, "God is looking for heroes to rise up and-by His power-intervene to save America". I'm sorry Mario Murillo. God isn't looking for a hero. God always has been the hero. He always will be the Hero. David and Goliath? God's the hero. Daniel and the lions, still God. Elijah and the prophets of Baal? Pretty sure, God started that fire.

God isn't trying to save America. He wants to save the world. If America has to crumble for the world to know Him, then America doesn't stand a chance. Nor should it. The political stance of the Pharisees looking for a leader to overthrow the government didn't work out well for them. It will not end well for us either.

One of my favorite authors challenged me deeply with a truth I will never forget. When we are tempted to claim God's promises for our lives, it needs to pass a simple test. "Here it is, If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true. If a sermon promises health and wealth to the faithful, it isn't true, because that makes God an absolute monster who only blesses rich westerners and despises Christians in Africa, India, China, South America, Russia, rural Appalachia, inner-city America, and everywhere else a sincere believer remains poor. If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true". ~Jen Hatmaker

There is only one God. The American president isn't Him, won't be Him, and doesn't represent Him. Maybe God is deeply focused on the needs of this poor mom in Haiti and His concern is not about my need. Since, I'm typing this on a computer from the comfort of my living room, maybe God's concern is my lack of concern for the poor?

Want another crazy idea? God loves Hillary and He loves Donald. He loves them the same amount that He loves Obama and Putin. Since He doesn't play favorites, He loves you exactly that much as well. He loves me too. Wrap your mind around that.

I've looked and looked and looked again. It definitely says, "For God so loves the world". Maybe if we took our eyes off the circus and beyond our borders, we could work with a Hero. We might just realize we are all His favorites.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How Trump made me realize I'm a racist.

I never considered myself a racist. I believe I treat people equally. I have friends of all races and backgrounds. I've taught my children that people are people who deserve to be treated as, people.

Yet, I've had this restlessness recently. A feeling that something is missing. That I'm working a puzzle I didn't even realize was in front of me. I couldn't figure out what the picture was and I certainly wasn't sure how many pieces I had to work with.

Several years ago, I sat with a group of friends in a small Italian restaurant. A male in our group was making derogatory statements. Some would say I am a strong female that can easily defend myself. I sat beside a woman who I considered stronger and more articulate than me. She and I confronted this man about his comments. He continued to escalate. Eventually, he was yelling and others were staring. She and I weren't backing down either.

I got in my car feeling defeated, belittled, and confused. I was not the least bit shocked by this man's comments. He has proven to me over and over again that he does not hold women in high esteem. He didn't really rattle me. What I was genuinely shocked by was the other men in our group. Strong men. Christian men. Good men. Who sat with us and said nothing. Absolutely nothing. When I spoke with one of them later, I asked why. He seemed surprised at my question. He said that he knew my friend and I were strong and weren't going to allow him to bully us. He thought we "handled" the situation well. He said he knew how independent we are and didn't think we needed defending. As we talked, I was able to communicate to him that his lack of participation did not communicate my strength. It communicated a message to the man that the other men in our group thought he was right. We learned a little more about communication that day.

Flash forward to years later. I witnessed a conversation between two men. So derogatory. So inflammatory. So embarrassing. It wasn't about me, but it was about my gender. Again, these were two people who I naively thought would be a defender of women. As I confronted them, I was shocked. They too considered this "just talk". Their perceived inability to understand how hurtful their words were made no sense to me.

Now we have Trump. Trump and his "locker room" conversation. For the record, he didn't just say "mean" things. He said he assaulted women. He said he grabs them. He doesn't wait, he just starts kissing them. He said he can do anything. I find myself yet again, not shocked that he said this. I often remember the quote from Maya Angelou, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time". Trump has demonstrated over and over that he has little use for any person that does not offer direct benefit to him. What I am surprised by, are all the men sitting at the table. Saying nothing. I don't just expect Christian men to come to our defense, where are all the good guys? Just regular good men? Why is it so silent? I recognize that some evangelical leaders are citing "years ago" and "he asked for forgiveness". In other words, "We have a platform to push and agendas to manage so lets just call him saved and move on from this". There is a constant call to remember that the next President will elect the Supreme court justices and we cannot allow Hilary to do this. I agree, I don't want her picking them either. Can we just at least acknowledged that Trump has not shown any wisdom, discernment, or ability to make a smart choice. People say pro life. Do you not know that Trump used to be pro choice? Are we so convinced that he is really pro life now? Could he just be saying that to buy the Christian vote? Have we even considered this? His life does not reflect value to an entire gender. What if he made that girl he grabbed and took pregnant? Do we really think he would suddenly treat her decently? Would he still be pro life?

Silence.

I'm not asking for people to support Clinton. I get it, I'm not a fan. For the love of our Heavenly Father, stop defending this man. Your defense says he is right. Your defense says it's ok.

Then, my own personal epiphany. As a white female, I haven't really understood the black lives matter movement. I haven't felt the need to be involved, because, as I said, I didn't think I was a racist. Now, with Trump's help, with the help of silent good men, I think I'm getting it. Since I haven't said anything, since I didn't rush to defend our African American friends, because I was silent, I gave the perception that it was ok. I am deeply sorry.

Moving forward, I will speak up when it is wrong. If I see someone in the store simply being mean because of race, I will ask them to stop. If I see an injustice, I will stand with you and call it that. I will admit there is a problem and I will work towards solutions.

I've learned that simply having black friends and loving all people in my personal life is not enough.

If I have a seat at the table, I will defend you and speak up when needed.

Jesus met this woman at a well. This Samaritan woman. This woman who lived an immoral life. A woman who was living with a man who wasn't her husband. He spoke to her. He offered her living water. When the disciples saw him talking to her, "they were amazed that He had been speaking with the woman, yet no one said 'What do you seek?' or 'Why do you speak with her?'" From this woman, who ran and told the city, many people were saved.

Let me take some liberty here and imagine the scene today. A Muslim Syrian female refugee now lives here. She can't gain legal status because all of her personal information is in Syria. She's at the store, at night, trying not to draw attention to herself. She is shunned and ignored because of the "garb" on her head. She turns the corner and is face to face with Jesus. He buys her groceries, he offers her His salvation. He offers love and permission to live in His kingdom. No one dares question Him about speaking to her.

If we are going to leave those around us silent, let it be because we are about His kingdom work. Let it be because we are including those that have been excluded. Let it be because we are radically different.

Let it be because we forever have a Heavenly table in our mind and a loving Savior by our side.

I'm still missing pieces to the puzzle. I think the picture is forming. It's a picture of me. I'm running from this well towards town. Jesus isn't behind me though. He's with me, holding my hand, pulling me forward. And, in my picture, neither of us are silent.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

To "that" teacher



Full disclaimer. My kids have had some AMAZING teachers. In fact, we have been blessed with people who have loved them and genuinley wanted to teach them. We have done our best to support teachers and help when we could. We love teachers and are so grateful they still want to teach little lives in this crazy educational system.

With this disclaimer over, I have to acknowledge how difficult this year has been.

To our first mean teacher,

Wow! Are you as glad as I am that this year is completed? Every interaction I have experienced with you, resulted in me being keenly aware that you do not like children. In fact, you appeared to be annoyed by their presence. I watched you roll your eyes at them as they walked in the room. I watched you hide around the corner and purposely not step into the classroom during the parent meeting regarding the state testing. I definitely noticed how my little girl talked about how loud you can yell.

Anyways, I know I'm more than happy this year is done. You did teach her a few things though. This year, we learned how to work with difficult people. We learned that some people are not happy. We learned their happiness is not dependent on our behavior. We learned that some people, can never be pleased by us because something inside of them is sad.

We learned that it is not okay to stop trying because someone else does not care. You remember when she didn't turn in homework? Well, she stopped turning it in because she realized you weren't really looking at it. She said you never even bothered to explain where to place it. Did she give it to you? Did she put in the box on your desk? Were you going to walk around and collect it? You did all those methods, which she found confusing. And, with the yelling, she was afraid to ask. Remember when we met about this? You rolled your eyes at me too. Fortunately, for us both, I have the ability to regulate my emotions and calmly asked you how she is supposed to turn it in to you. You acknowledged your lack of routine. It was the other, really good teacher in the room, who suggested you remedy that. I knew then, we were in for a long year. It was September.

We learned that even when other people don't care, we do our best anyway. We learned that when teachers change grades, we can demand to see papers. We learned that some teachers do not allow straight 'A's no matter how hard someone works. We learned to work hard anyway. Knowing my girl scored second highest in the entire class on the state pretest tells me she has a great grasp of content she needs to know. Seeing that you marked through and changed numerical grades on the papers we asked to review, made me believe, she was right all along. You didn't really grade papers.

We learned that when an adult shows you things you know you shouldn't read, like emails between our parents and teachers, we need to tell our parents. We learned passive aggressive at nine isn't pretty. We learned this girl has more of her mom in her than we knew. We learned it isn't appropriate to be direspectful to adults, even when we are right. We learned to stand up respectfully. We also learned that parent's are the best advocates we have. We learned that a lot can be solved through communication.

We learned it is more than okay to ask for clarification. We learned to request expectations so we know what we are striving for. We learned that teachers have to follow rules too. We learned to ask for help; from past teachers, from other students, from administration, from God, and from somewhere inside of us.

We learned that some situations, you just have to take one day at time. Some things we cannot solve, but we can learn from.

So, mean one, I can't say at the end of the year that you didn't teach her or us anything.

I wish you would be the last mean, unrealistic, person she will deal with in her life. I know that can't be. So, thank you, for teaching her to dig deep, work hard, do well anyway, and to remember her identity is not yours to define. Those are lessons we all need to know.

Too bad there isn't a column for that on her report card.

Have a great summer. Maybe look for another line of work? May I suggest you go write for Pearson? You won't have to see a kid again, yet you can hold them to totally unrealistic expectations. That seems like it would be a good fit for you.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Second Trimester

I watched my kids eat spaghetti tonight. Just regular spaghetti. They laughed and bantered with each other. It's been a rushed evening with Chris at a volunteer meeting for soccer and the rest of us at soccer practice. They needed to get to bed. I had this thought again. It circles through my mind a lot, but sometimes I'm reluctant to admit it. Here it is: these might be my favorite years. Several of my close friends have heard me describe this time in the lives of my kids as "The Second Trimester".

As I see it, life with kids under our roof, is divided into three trimesters. Just like pregnancy. All three look and feel entirely different per pregnancy and per kid. However, each pregnancy has the same goal. Growing this tiny human into someone who can survive outside in the world. They are born. The next 18 years under my roof look different per year and per child. The goal is much the same. Growing this tiny human to love God, love people, and survive in the outside world.

The first trimester of pregnancy, I was exhausted, hungry, nauseous, and completely in shock. How can this be real? Was the test right? How about the doctor? Is she sure I'm pregnant? What can I eat? Not eat? Someone gave me that What to Expect book. It totally freaked me out. The first trimester with kids? I was exhausted, hungry, in desperate need of a shower, and, well, in a baby fog that could be a close cousin to shock. It was all about diapers, put that down, pick that up, don't touch, please don't jump, let's get dressed, please sleep. Exhaustion beyond measure with a side of what in the world have I gotten myself into? My big goals were simply reduced to, can we just all stay alive? So noteworthy.

Later, in the third trimester of pregnancy, I became huge. I'm convinced it only exists to make us all comfortable with the idea of labor. Before that trimester, I was terrified of labor. Somewhere around 32 weeks, my swollen belly, ankles, face, self was all about labor. Let's do this. Let's get this alien to the outside and let my body be all by itself again. (little did I know it's never been just mine again). While I haven't experienced a teenager at my house yet, I've had enough friends assure me that teenagers exist only so we can be okay with the idea of them leaving the house. They are clumsy, awkward, and so full of themselves. They do some things well and have such big goals. Sometimes, they don't look anything like those babies in the first trimester and parents count down until that alien gets out.

Second trimester? Do you remember the second trimester of your pregnancy? Mine was blissful. I wasn't sick anymore. The tiredness had subsided. I finally looked pregnant instead of fat, but I could still see my feet. I could feel the baby move and dream about who this baby would be. Right now, in this season, that's how I feel about my kids. They will be seven and ten this summer. They sleep through the night, (well more nights than not). They can bathe themselves, get dressed on their own, and even get their own breakfast. Yet, they also still want me around, they ask me to play, or read, or watch a show with them. All their "why's?" have turned into "watch me". I really do like watching them. They are growing before my eyes. They still like to snuggle with me, have me lay beside them, and tell me all about who they dream to be someday. They have outgrown me holding them in my arms, but they still very much fit in my lap.

This second trimester, I feel more like a Mom. I'm more settled into this role. I'm learning that it really does "go by too fast". I remember constantly that this is it. This is their childhood. If I delay things, it may not happen for them. Today is my one chance to have them in my house, at this age. I'm learning to both release the pressure and recognize the beauty of that statement. We don't get most days perfect. I'm also learning that's more than okay.

This Mother's Day, I'm so grateful for this time, in their lives and mine. Who knows, maybe the third trimester will turn out to be my favorite? Most likely every memory will be my favorite. I'll remember holding them and rocking them. I'll remember Curious George and American Girl Dolls. I'll think about lost teeth and first pair of glasses. Hopefully, I'll be even more settled then. More convinced to let all the "mom guilt" go and know that God was guiding them and me, together, as a family. I may decide all the days of their childhood were the best ones. Then again, I hear grandchildren are really, really, fun.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Forgetting Jail



I gown up in all the isolation attire and walk into his room in the ICU. His monitors are beeping, lights flashing, and he is gasping for breath. His entire body is swollen with sickness. His arms are so big that his hand cuffs are unimaginably tight. I start talking to him and take his hand. I try simply holding both hands for a moment. He looks up at me and speaks one painful word at a time between labored breaths. "I. Am. So. Scared." We talk, for as long as his body will allow, and I leave to let him rest. I walk past his guard and start removing the isolation gown. "You know what he did mam"? I look at the guard. "No" I tell him. And I walked out of the room. "Do you want to know"? "No" I said again.

In another room at another time and another person. There is this tiny frame bundled under blankets. He looks cold and miserable. As he pulls the blanket up over his head, the guard yells at him loud enough to terrify all of us. "Get that off your head now!" I reach up and pull the blanket down. I square off with the guard asking if he is allowed a hat since he is so cold. "I guess so" says the guard. As I leave to find a hat, I see this geniune smile just barely over the blanket. "You know what he did right"? I look toward the guard. In a second, I size up this guard and decide he will not be of any assistance in acutal crisis. "Nope" I tell him.

I don't want to know. There was a time when I did. Or when I looked it up myself. There was a time when it mattered. But it doesn't anymore. They are dying. I can walk in and simply see them as human beings taking the journey that is destined for us all, criminal or not. I can more geniunly hold their hand, look into their eyes, listen to their hearts, or let them yell in anger if I do not know. Their past is really of no significance to me in this moment, because they need my love and care.

If I know, if I find out that they robbed a bank, or murdered someone, or assualted a female, or a DUI, or stock fraud, or child abuse, I can't do anything with that knowledge. I still do my best to serve them, even when I know. When the guards treat them as less then human, most prisoners develop a hatred for the guard. It becomes a lovely cycle. It makes me think of a verse in Lamentations 3:39- "Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sin"? The guards come with a set of rules the prisoners must follow. The prisoner really has no right to complain, since he chose to commit a crime. But, what about me? Lamentations doesn't just apply to prisoners. I have sinned too. A lot. In view of my own sin, I really don't have any right to complain either. I deserve a punishment too.

This has given me such a different perspective on verses like Jeremiah 31:31 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” We talk a lot in the church about God forgiving us and forgetting our sins. The magnitude of His forgetfullness hits me every time I think of our prisoners. Perhaps, God chooses to forget, because it is how He forgives. It's how He makes us clean. When we ask for His forgiveness, Jesus' blood cleanses us, washing away it all, including the memory. Because, well, because God tell us that He chooses to forget. It's grace and mercy in the same moment. The grace of forgiveness and the mercy of letting it go. As far as the east is from the west. Our sin is gone.

I imagine a day in my future. Standing before a throne surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. I can imagine feeling afraid, small, and unsure while taking in such extreme Holiness. I can see Satan running to God and saying, "You want to know what she did"?

And as I tremble, I can feel my Savior take both my hands in His and simply say, "No".