Saturday, December 18, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
I often speak of the unbelievable support and benefit of having my family so close by. 39 members of my family living in the Austin area. 32 within a five-mile radius. We are an anomaly, no doubt. Functional marriages, happy kids, love for Jesus, and a desire to actually spend time with one another. I can safely say that nearly every day I speak to at least two or three family members, (and I only get sick of them sometimes). We are in community with one another, raising kids together, and are each others' first go-to in times of joy and celebration, and in times of need or sorrow.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
As it stands, you can usually find me shoving the kids in the car, keys and purse flying, spilling coffee out of the to-go cup, franticly arranging bed-head hair, peeling out of the driveway at the very last possible second to get to [insert location] on time. I look at the calendar by the 1/2 day, okay? I'm feeling good to get six hours of sleep and a pot of coffee in the morning. Sometimes I feel like
I do well in the mess.
I don't understand my contemporaries who say that they're bored at home. Whaaa? Whenever I have two or three days in a row where I'm relaxing with a cup of coffee and a good book on the couch, I start to feel restless. Don't get me wrong, I LOOO-OOOOVE (luh-huv) a cup of coffee and a good book on the couch. But then I start to think, Hmmm... What crazy ambitious project can I take upon myself so I won't get any sleep for the next two weeks? And then I start to turn the cranks.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Friday, July 2, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
But then life goes on. We get distracted. When you have hundreds of thousands of media stimuli daily and life happens, it's easy to let things get pushed down on the list. Like an email inbox loaded with spam -- we tend to forget the important message that has scrolled off the page.
My friend Jim is dying.
He has an aggressive, malignant, inoperable brain tumor. Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme. But more importantly, Jim has a wife and three children (2, 4, and 7). He was diagnosed in November, when he felt general fatigue and dizziness. Without treatment, Jim would have been dead by now. But they are fighting every day with anything that's left to do.
I had let Jim slip from my prayers.
Life. Numbness. Distraction.
Then I saw him on Sunday at a Superbowl party. And I apologized to him profusely (instead of lying and telling him that I had been praying) and told him I would take up his burden in prayer. Every day.
If we stand close enough to someone when they get hit by a ton of bricks, we can take some of the hit. Jim may literally feel like he's been hit by bricks, and his family is dealing with this on a minute by minute scale. I just happened to catch one of the bricks by proximity on Sunday, and I'm walking around with the bruise. Even in these last two days of prayer for him, I feel wasted, worn out, sad, physically ill, angry, hopeful, depressed.
I'm wrestling with the idea that our God is the SAME GOD who delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, who sent his son to live out our death for our sins, and raised him to life. The same God who protects, heals, transforms. He created the universe and everything in it. He could heal Jim. But he also takes away. Sometimes, he chooses not to heal. And His name should still be praised. There's the struggle.
I can't imagine three months of this, and trying to deal with the potential loss, and explaining it to the children who are too young to understand, and the one that isn't too young. I can't imagine what his wife, also my friend, must be going through and what her daily life must be like right now.
I'm just so sad for them. I'm trying to be hopeful. But mostly I'm just sad.
I've taped his name to a prominent place in my house so I'll be reminded to pray. I'm going to move it around, so I don't get used to it in one place. I feel like I should do this for so many things: Haiti, poverty, my uncle's dad, my friend's grandmother, slave trafficking, my friend's mother-in-law, the peace of Jerusalem, my husband's brothers, orphans, my children, their teachers, etc etc, and the list is too too too long.
I can't tape up everyone's name -- It'd start to look a little bizarre to the outside world. "The Crazy Post-It Lady." That's what they'd call me. But when I start to push away the distractions in the controlled space of my home, the few things I allow to stay in my inbox will mean more, command more attention, and will move me repeatedly -- to prayer, to work, to action.
I praise God that I have never been struck with tragedy. My burdens are light. But that's why I can help carry someone else's. I have the arm room. I need to try not to fill it with stupid things. I'll be able to carry more. Praise His Name.
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." Job 1:21
Monday, January 18, 2010
Not to mention people think I'm a freak.
(Which, I admit, is both fun and unsettling.)
It's weird how people react -- mostly my Christian friends -- when I tell them I'm not following American Idol this year. (I've never missed an episode before.) It's not like it's a bad show. Most people watch it with their kids, even. But it's the total dedication two hours a week for over four months. It's the setting aside of whatever else needs my attention, laundry housecleaning kids husband God, for this show that is about creating an Idol for America to worship. ... and now you hate me. But it's true. I, too, deceived myself into thinking it was about hearing beautiful singing. Sorry. It isn't. (Watch Celtic Women or listen to Carmina Burana instead.)
Or JJ Abram's "Lost". Oh, Lost. My abusive boyfriend. How you have toyed with me for five years. You have abused my patience, you have taken advantage of my intelligence, and you have drawn me back with lulling sweet promises year after year. And now you want me back for one more fling. You have promised me all the answers. You have given your word that this is the last time. But alas, my heart cannot take one more abusing. My nostrils refuse to inhale your intoxicating lure. I will not come back to you. My decision is firm. In fact, I should have left you long ago.
Okay, this is helping.
And those are the shows that I watch. Except for the righteously violent, heart-rate stomping, teeth gritting, adrenaline-packed "24". And the jury's still out on "24". I'm asking God to take away the desire. It's pretty deep, and He's working overtime.
And "Glee". But this one is packed with ridiculosity and inappropriate content. And it's wonderful. And I want Jane Lynch to be in my posse. I'm praying about this one, too.
Oh, and "House". But only because I have a major actor-crush on Hugh Laurie. He's a brilliant actor. Genius, even.
(Okay, so I'm only divulging a fraction here of what I actually end up watching.)
See, the more I dig, the more I realize how much time I have dedicated to this magic glowing box.
"'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless'... All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:2, 8-9
But now I'm an alien. Now I induce the blank stare. Now I'm the conversation killer. Now I am the party pooper, fer real y'all.
You: "Hey, did you see that..."
Me: "No. Sorry."
You: "Wasn't that hilarious when..."
Me: "Oh, I didn't see it."
You: "Oh... Cool."
(eyes shifting, looking for the nearest exit.)
But whatever. It's cool. Because you know what? I'm praying for you, too. Because this is a good place to be. There's no flashing lights or enticing previews. But the rewards of this obedience are already starting to whisper into my ears.
The obedience has brought me to my knees in repentance over the slightest hint of anger, jealousy, selfishness, or laziness.
The obedience is changing the way I perceive holiness, purity, love.
The rewards have come in the form of crying, heartbroken for other people's pain and loss, instead of a forced sympathy.
Doesn't that sound fun?
Okay. I know. My face is green. It's a side-effect, too.
I'll retreat back to my home planet now.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I'm sure there's plenty of folks who are also thinking "be sober", especially after some pretty rowdy New Year's parties.
But that's not what I mean at all.
When I completed Pick Five, a spiritual exercise in simplicity, people would ask me what it is that I gained. It was hard to put my finger on it exactly, but it felt like sobriety. It felt like, in life, I had been drunk, fuzzy. And now I was seeing clearly the charade that had once been so entertaining. I saw the man behind the curtain. Things were... just clearer.
This is not an enviable position. It makes you the official party pooper. It causes anguish in your mind. It makes you fight with God (in vain) over the details.
But it didn't stop then. EVERY time I sit down and am still in the silence of the Lord, and I give him my attention, I hear it again. "Be sober."
The letters are full of this warning -- especially the Ts: 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Thessalonians. And most prominently 1 Peter.
"But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be sober and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.' Be hospitable to one another without grumbling." 1 Peter 4:7-9
Sobriety in the bible carries the meaning of calmness, clarity of mind, and above all, watchfulness. In fact, the Greek word νήφω (nepho), appears in the New Testament six times. Twice as the word "watchful", and four times as the word "sober". Of the four "sober" verses, three of them also contain the word "watchful" in close proximity.
There are plenty of things in this world to which we can lose our sobriety. There are distractions beyond compare in the west. In fact, our distractions have become the norm. Prayer and time in the Word have become distractions to our otherwise busy life.
But the time for sobriety is at hand.
We cannot afford to drink the nectar of the gods any more. We cannot bow (read: sit on our couches) to the idols that pervade the world in which we live. We cannot cloud our minds and our vision with meaningless fodder. The party, my friends, is over. It's time to sober up.
I am the worst offender. I'll admit. But no matter how much I desire to see the ending season of Lost, or the next American Idol (um, hello?), or Jack Bauer take on New York City, I cannot get it out of my mind that I won't be able to afford the consequences. This is time that I won't give to God, but I'll give to the god of Hollywood.
And these are the details about which I fight with God. But I want to, I tell God. I mean, really? When sobriety strikes, it's easy to see these things as meaningless. Vanity. Wasteful. Ugh.
But let me tell you something. It really isn't a big price to pay to let them go. In fact, it's freedom.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:8-11
Lord, it is so stupid of me to think that I need the things of this world. You have given me eyes to see and ears to hear. Help me not to waste them on meaningless things. Help me to be watchful, and sober. That I might hear you and see you clearly.