A Note to Facebook Politicians

Elephant in the room: politics.

I recently went on Facebook, as I sometimes do at the end of my day, and quickly regretted making that the last thing my mind ingested before falling asleep. I climbed into bed physically and emotionally ill and overwhelmed. Literally, my body ached with disgust at the uncivil, arrogant, downright  h a t e  I saw. {To my dismay, that feeling was still there the next morning. What a way to start a Monday.}

It seems that people forget that just because they are typing their opinions into a device and tapping “post” that those same words are being communicated to an actual human being, with actual feelings and real, personal reasons that they process life and the world the way that they do.

People, we must, must, must, must, must stop this.

Love: the foundation of the two greatest commandments given to humanity.

We spend more time voicing our opinions than we do listening to others. Regardless of how stark the differences may seem between us and other individuals, speaking over people with the sole intention of changing them is not love. To be perfectly transparent, I’m still learning on a daily basis what love means and is and encompasses, fully. But, what I am certain of about love is that it is not arrogant or rude.

Let me be clear – I am not advocating that everyone remain silent, or that we should not have bold, strong beliefs about life and love and politics and the world, or even that all opinions are created equal. I myself have beliefs that I hold very dearly and I do believe there are crucial times when it is necessary to stand firmly in those beliefs.

In fact, there are views in the world that do need to be evaluated and challenged.

{What if no one was allowed to question your love for fascism in the 1930s? Obviously, we wouldn’t call that love.}

There is undoubtedly evil in the world and we do need to stand in firm opposition to it.

As passionate as I am about that, it’s for another time and post.

But, 3 things:

  1. Be humble. Keep an open mind and heart because the chances that you are 100% right is likely false.
  2. Be kind. I don’t care how wrong you think someone is – they are human, created in the image of a holy God, just like you are.
  3. Be loving – both to who you are communicating with, while also keeping in mind the people you are standing for.

I simply want to urge all of us to love.

Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

I realize that that is a daily, sometimes hourly working out of what love looks like from person to person that we encounter. To your spouse, to your kids, to family members, to friends, to co-workers, to perfect strangers… to Facebook “friends.”

It’s hard.

This thing we call life is beautifully complicated and complex, on an individual level simply because humanity is broken – but even more largely because there are other people outside of our own personal selves who are also broken and trying to figure themselves out, let alone figure out what they think about this intricate world we live in.

May we be more considerate.

May we be more patient with each other.

May we  l i s t e n.

May we respect others unconditionally – regardless of how blatantly different or “wrong” you think they are, or even regardless of how much respect they don’t show you in return. Because that is another thing I am certain of about love – it is unconditional.

May we spend more time thoughtfully, carefully verbalizing our words to human faces with love – and again (I know I sound redundant),  l i s t e n i n g  to what those human faces have to say in return – than we do mindlessly, arrogantly, selfishly blasting our personal views of how the world works onto a screen.

For the sake of our broken world so desperate for more of it, I’ll say it again:

Let us love.

 

Unexpected Teachers

A few nights ago, Nate and I were watching a movie on the couch. We took what we call a “second dinner” break about half way through. As we walked to the kitchen, we nonchalantly looked outside to find everything completely white – it had snowed a good two inches in the last hour. We’d seen snow on the forecast, but thought we’d get more of a dusting, if any at all.

Just like that, our giddy selves were kids again. The two of us bundled up and ran out in the backyard. To make a long [sub]story short, late night snowball fights are something everyone should experience. Nate and I have both agreed that memory will never be forgotten.

We woke up the next morning to find that all of our footprints from our snowball shenanigans the night before had been completely “whited” out – yes, 6 more inches of snow.

Needless to say, we’ve had a lot of time indoors the last few days. At first I was a little nervous; there’s something a little unsettling about being trapped inside with a high-energy 17 month old.

Something about the pressure to fill roughly 9 waking hours of a busy, high-energy, small-attention-spanned-brain with some sort of entertainment.

Don’t get me wrong; this has been the most fun stage so far of parenting, but it has also been the most challenging. The irony of a tiny human gaining increasing amounts of independence every day is that in that process, they are actually extremely dependent and needy.

[Quick eFullSizeRender-1xample: Lucy is convinced that she can eat all by herself with silverware now. But her idea of that is me placing her food and utensils in front of her and letting her stir the food and ask for help in between each bite. It actually takes more of my time, energy, and patience for her to learn to eat with these tricky utensils (independence in this stage) than it does for her to just keep eating with her hands the way that she already knows how to do very well.]

All of this to say, the combination of being 1) cooped up in the house all day and 2) an ambitious, growing toddler has been an altogether fun, exhausting, frustrating, sobering, reflective experience.

The hard parts of parenting, or life in general for that matter, tend to be the ones I deter from. It’s much easier to throw Lucy in the car and run some errands to kill time in a day than it is to sit on the ground and play with her and consciously open my mind and imagination to enter her world, to see life through her eyes, to be with her as we play blocks or read books or practice for the millionth time what a doggie says. What a kitty cat says. What a bird says. What a cow says. {Repeat.}

But having the privilege – yes, privilege – to be smacked in the face with those indoor activities for three days straight has been extremely invigorating and exactly what I’ve needed in this tricky season of toddlerhood. Instead of needing her to just learn faster or communicate more clearly or better understand what I’m trying to teach her, I’ve needed a perspective check.

Thank you, snow, for being an excellent teacher.FullSizeRender-2

It’s exactly what Lucy needed, too. And it’s what she still needs every day as her mind is developing and growing and changing.

She needs time. She needs attention. She needs my presence – not just physically, but mentally. She needs me to be all there, seeking to better understand what she’s trying to communicate because for goodness’ sake, she’s just trying to learn how to be a human. That is no easy task for her, either.

And if I’m being real, I’m still learning too.

And if I’m being really real, I’m still pretty needy too. I need my most valued loved ones and mentors to be present and hold me accountable, too.

This is what it means to be human: Real love. Active love. Involved love. Messy love.

Young and old.

Because being human doesn’t just mean being able to operate eating utensils. Or being potty trained. Or learning the social graces of living in a society.

Those are all large parts, yes. But to say that’s what it means to be fully human would be to say that efficiency in life is the ultimate goal. And I’ve been learning lately that that’s just not the case.

Or it shouldn’t be, at least.

Thanks snow. Your timing was perfect.

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Remind Yourself

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

For he knows our frame;

he remembers that we are dust.”

-Psalm 103:8-14

Today I’m thankful for a God who remembers that I am dust. For this beautiful reminder of God’s role first and foremost as a loving Father.

Whose expectation of me is surrender and trust in his unconditional love for me. Yes, because of this I have the freedom to embrace the fullness and chaos of life, knowing that my every shortcoming and failure is separated from me as far as the east is from the west.

Today I’m thankful for grace in a fallen, broken world. In a fallen, broken humanity.

In my fallen, broken self.

For I am merely a broken, dusty human. But my identity lies in the humanity that has been restored and made whole in the only perfect human to walk the earth. He paved the way for us because he knew we would be such needy people.

So take joy in being needy of him today – for that is all that he calls you to be.

 

 

 

 

 

1,461 Days of Election

November 8, 2016

Today is “Election Day.”

For some people, that means nothing. The controversy and insanity of this election has already brought so much disunity and chaos into the world that some have given up on politics altogether. The system is so broken and beyond repair that it’s not even worth trying to fix.

For others, this is a very scary election because both options seem terrible so no matter who gets voted in, we’re doomed.

Others have chosen one side firmly and are perfectly confident in their decision.

But let’s forget all of that for a minute.

The reality is that regardless of who gets nominated today, the majority of us will go on living our day-to-day lives. Obviously there will be policy changes that will affect and change things, but that is not what I’m referring to. I’m not talking about the decisions we make on paper, on our ballots. I’m talking about the little, unconscious decisions we make every single day that determine our character.

I’m talking about who we are.

The words we speak. The way we spend our free time. The way we spend our money. The things we do when no one is watching. How we treat people.

Who we are in real life.

We are so quick to sit back and point at political figures. They get all of the blame for the areas we’d like to see change in.

What we are missing completely is the power of the day-to-day.

Of our day-to-day.

The decisions that we make over and over again. The habit-forming choices we make to subconsciously become the humans (and therefore, society) that we have become.

We know hate so well in our world today because of who we are on a micro level – who we are to our spouses, our kids, our co workers, the cashier at the grocery store, people of different skin colors and backgrounds, orphans, widows, the poor.

We know racism so well today because of the selfish pretenses we have created to protect “me and my own.”

We know violence so well today because we don’t know how to love our enemies; rather, we aren’t even concerned with loving our enemies. We want revenge, we want what’s ours, we want what we “deserve,” we want it now.

We are all guilty of it. I don’t care what political party you associate with – we all fall short of the ideal humanity that we long to see.

Every human has the exact same responsibility. And that responsibility is not dependent on your political status, your ethnicity, or where your citizenship is. If you are a human, your duty is to love. That is what you were created to do.

Underneath each of our outer shells of put-togetherness, there is a deeply flawed human in need of grace.

Underneath that frail layer of human flesh, there is a soul that was very carefully and beautifully made in the image of a loving God who cares deeply for them – just as much as he cares about you.

If we would take the few extra seconds to remember that with every human encounter we had in a day, including the people all around the world that we encounter indirectly with the little decisions we make, I wonder how that would change how we respond to people.

I wonder how that would bring true change in our world as a whole.

The only way we will know this as a reality and not just an idea is if we choose to be the types of people to actually show grace in those small moments of our lives.

The types of people to actively choose selflessness in the small areas of our lives that form the selfish habits that make us selfish people.

So vote, yes. Absolutely vote. That is a right, a privilege, and a responsibility that we certainly should not take for granted or count as lost.

But vote every day with your heart, mind, and body, not just once every four years with your ballot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Madness

The faint melody of my alarm clock slowly brings me out of my glorious rem cycle, letting me know a new day has arrived. If I recall, my clock read 11:44pm as I finally drifted off to sleep last night, warranting a few more “snoozes” than usual before my feet actually hit the floor.

Sunday morning.

I make my way to the kitchen, flick the coffee pot on, pour a cup, and cozy up on the couch for a few minutes of quiet before the beautiful chaos of our get-to-church-on-time routine.

{The very fact that it is Sunday means every detail possible will work against our effort to actually get out the door on time.}

Now it is Lucy’s turn to slowly moan her way out of her glorious rem cycle until her moaning becomes “MAMAMAMA!”

The day begins.

I open the door to her room and see her happy little morning self. I’m reminded to savor these small, in-between moments.

{Breathe it in. Before the commotion of the next 45 minutes, take this moment in. Don’t miss it.}

Scrambling eggs to the chorus of crying because Lucy is suddenly convinced that she is starving to death. Slicing oranges into tiny, non-chokable-sized bites as fast as I possibly can. Before I can get her food on her tray, the now hangry (yes, hangry) cry quickly becomes: “Rldrldrldrldrldrld!!!” {MILK PLEASE}

All at once.

{25 minutes to go time. Oh, and I’m still in my pjs.}

Brush my teeth. Deodorant. Makeup. Clothes. Hair (Kind of).

{Negative 5 minutes to go time.}

Lucy’s sticky face. Poopy Diaper. Her church clothes that I forgot to lay out last night. Grab her beanie because there’s no time to rummage through her bows.

Nate grabs Lucy, I grab the diaper bag, and we are finally out the door.

~Sunday morning, ya’ll~

Just as we pull into the church parking lot, I realize I somehow forgot to eat breakfast. Nate parks while I grab a muffin from a nearby cafe and we both barely make it inside just in time for worship to start.

The worship team invites us all to stand as we worship Jesus together this morning.

I close my eyes, my sweet husband standing next to me holding little Lucy girl in his arms, the quiet hum of my fellow brothers and sisters singing along with me.. This is grace.

I am blessed.

{Another small, beautiful moment – breathe it in.}

We sit down and the sermon begins. Ten minutes in, and Lucy’s already bored with every item in her diaper bag. Here we go.

I look to my left and I see another mama also telling her little girl, Lucy’s age, not to make loud, spitty noises with her tongue.

Then there’s the embarrassed mama in the balcony who, in trying to entertain her toddler, accidentally flings several napkins down onto the ground-level folks.

It is here where I am overwhelmed with the gracious reminder that I am not alone. None of us are. We are all in this together – this beautifully messy Sunday morning routine. This routine where we gather from all different backgrounds to remind each other why we endure the day-to-day grind that is life. It is here where we remember how worth it it all is.

Remember today that it’s worth it. You were made for this.

Your heart is what Jesus is after. Never give into the temptation of believing that perfection is the end goal. You will be terribly disappointed and robbed of so much joy along the way.

Instead, embrace it – all of it. None of your shortcomings are too much to entrust to Jesus.

May your trust in his constant presence empower you to press on, facing each day {including Sunday mornings} with confidence.

Your strength is not your own, but that which flows from the perfect, forgiving, unconditional love of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Colors of Fall

fall-3Orange, yellow, brown, green – sometimes all at once.

The leaves – oh, the leaves.

Pumpkins.

Cinnamon Sticks.

Squash of all kinds and colors: butternut, acorn, pumpkin.

Cider, coffee, tea.. any warm beverage, really.

Yummy, autumn-scented candles.

Blustery, rainy days spent cozied up inside.

Sunny days that bring all of the beautiful colors of fall to life.fall-2

Or both at once. Cause it’s fall, and “inconsistency” is fall’s weather forecast.

Good books.

Crafts & projects.

Baking.

Anything and everything pumpkin: bread, pie, soup, coffee {Yes.. coffee gets counted again. Because I’m that excited about my new Pumpkin Spice blend I’ve recently discovered.}

Ah, yes, and soup. {Yep, soup gets counted again too. Just cause.. well, it’s soup.} The comforting warmth of soup on a chilly, fall day. I’ve recently spent more hours than I’m willing to admit on Pinterest stalking up on my soup recipes for the coming months.

And finally, running in the rain.

{This is one I dreaded until I tried it. But sometimes, what makes us stronger is facing the very things that we dread. There is something truly healing about being bold and fearless and running into the storm with full confidence. About the rush of physically pushing yourself beyond what you think you are capable of. It’s a powerful image of real life, and how approaching the inevitable obstacles and challenges of life are much like approaching a long run in the pouring-down-rain. It seems impossible and not fun in the least, at times. But coming out on the other side stronger than if you’d never tried at all – that’s not something you regret. Not to mention all of the beauty along the way that you don’t see if you choose not to run at all.}

Yes, sometimes we need to get drenched in the rain.

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Fall. So much to love.

But my ultimate love for fall is that it embodies the beauty of each season in one. Both literally and figuratively, seasons exist in life. We need them all for the world to keep spinning. Each of them gives some sort of unique touch to the fullness of the human experience. Some seasons are harder, while others seem easier. But it is when we learn to be content in the One who created the seasons that we find beauty in each one, regardless of what they bring.

 

Laying Down Perfection

“You have said, ‘Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek.’ ” -Psalm 27:8

The simplicity of this verse stills my soul. All of my lofty goals and ambitions are suddenly laid to rest.

“Seek my face.”

All you desire is for me to seek your face.

To dwell with you.

Here.

Now.

You desire my honesty. My raw self.

It is here where I am able to find real life. Where I find my worth. Where I find what determines my joy, my peace. Where striving ceases and your restful yoke of grace and strength for this present hour is placed on my shoulders.

Yes, Lord. You desire me – the “now” me.

Because the “now” me is where you find the hungriest version of me. The me who doesn’t have the answers and is so desperate for you that all pretenses and obstacles in your way of getting through to me are torn down.

This is real purity – because this is where I understand what it really means to hunger and thirst for righteousness. After all, that is what you’ve called me to do – it is all you’ve called me to do. You say it is when I hunger and thirst for you that I will inherit your kingdom and live with you forever. And I cannot hunger and thirst for you if my soul is quenched with my own false idea of achievement and success.

So, for now and for always, “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”

I will hunger.

I will thirst.

I will choose to set my face towards yours and find my rest.

 

 

The History of Yesterday

I feel you reminding me over and over this morning to shake off yesterday and embrace this new day. You tell me the great potential of today is at stake if I keep running in the circles of yesterday.

But it’s difficult to accept such grace and to fathom that you give me a new, clean slate each day.

Just like that. Despite all that was yesterday. But why? Why is it so incredibly difficult to be given something so beautiful?

The reality is that the fleeting, deceitful, human heart is wired to receive love in the only way it understands love – which is, unfortunately, the way that we then love others. We do not love others in the perfect, patient, understanding way that you love us – at least not unconditionally. We love selfishly for the sake of what we get out of it, if we’re honest. We love with ulterior motives. Therefore, when you love me perfectly, I cannot comprehend such a thing because I have not yet attained the capacity to love like that myself.

It baffles me. It takes unlearning wrong habits of loving incorrectly in order to receive your love. And that takes a lot of humility.

The love I know how to give tells me that in order to receive love, particularly on my worst days, I’ve got more to earn back and make up for than what grace can cover.

But that’s a lie. Your love has never been earned by anyone since the beginning of time. Because there was never anything to earn in the first place, just growth to be had.

And growth is hard. It is not something that takes place from understanding something in our heads, but from putting into practice what we learn and understand in our heads. It is so much easier to read an amazing book about love than it is to consider the interest and comfort of another human being more highly than our own.

But that is love. And it is worth it. Because in the mangled, difficult, embarrassingly-humbling-at-times process of growth and love, we are becoming more like you.

It is in this process of learning to be loved by you and showered with your grace that we then are able to love others better. And more importantly, to know you better, love you more deeply, and walk with you more intimately. Which was your plan for humanity from the start – that we may dwell with you.

Thank you that yesterday is now history. Not something to be forgotten, but something to learn from.

{History for humanity is sort of like fire for metal. It refines us. It allows us to leave behind the dross of our character so that we may be edified into a far more beautiful version of ourselves. It removes the impurities that keep us from reaching our goal of knowing and loving you better.}

Yes. Yes, today is new.

 

 

Refuge: A Condition of Being Safe

What a privilege it is to take refuge in you, Lord.

What a blessing – in the deepest meaning of the word – to know that you are fully worthy of my trust. That the act of placing my confidence in you means letting go.

Letting go of worry.

Letting go of insecurity.

Letting go of anxiety.

Letting go of control.

I can do that because the reality is that all of life is experienced with you. You are always present. Though my fickle human heart deceives me at times, you are never far away. Though the voice of shame booms that I’ve crossed the line one too many times, that you’ve finally had enough and have turned your back, you tell me otherwise.

If only I would listen.

You always love. You always hear – and not just hear, but listen.

You know me far better than I know myself. And you are far more worthy of the trust I often place in myself.

Yes, yes you are good, Father.

You are quick to forgive me, always. You never hesitate to gently re-direct my steps back towards your arms of love and away from my own pursuit of destruction and death.

Your desire for me is good. Though the evil of my human heart is still a present reality, one that I fight against daily (sometimes hourly), your goodness still reigns.

Because goodness means knowing your joy and grace wherever I am.

It is because of this constant state of knowing and being with you that I am able to let go of trying to be good enough and accept your promise that you will not turn your back.

Yes, I belong to you. I am yours.

I will take refuge in you.

I will rejoice.

I will ever sing for joy.

 

 

Me and My Daughter, My Daughter and Me

 

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It’s quiet this morning. I see the ocean through the small window from this cozy rocking chair. I breath in, sip my coffee, and exhale, remembering the not-so-quiet giggles and splashes and rigid chill of that same ocean water from yesterday afternoon.

Her tiny, tiny toes cringe every time I lower her enough to touch the wet sand.

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She bends down and decides she wants to feel that muddy sand in her curious, tiny fingertips. She looks up at me, both bewildered and excited at such a thing.

Her relentless “happy” feet and legs are especially “happy” with every wave that approaches and crashes over our ankles – sometimes even our knees, if the waves are big enough.

Me and my daughter. My daughter and me.

For a split second, I lose all sight of the age separation that at times makes me feel more like a babysitter to this one year old than her mother.

For a split second, I catch a heavenly glimpse from God’s lens of perfect reality, of truth.

For a split second, there is no concept of my task-oriented closed-mindedness that often makes the day-to-day seem monotonous or exhausting or frustrating or full of failure, as a mom of an almost toddler.

You see {I write this through wet, glass eyes}, I am simply with my daughter.

Me and my daughter. My daughter and me.

I am in her world, she is in mine. We are together; sharing an experience together; enjoying each other – neither of us wanting it to be over.

No, I am no babysitter today.

I am a mother.

This is life – real, true, life-giving life.

{Which, although sounds redundant, is immensely refreshing. Because if we are honest with ourselves, life is not always life-giving.}

The reality that a de-sanding bath is imminent – for us both – or that her dinner/bedtime routine is rapidly approaching, or that we have no towel to wrap up, dry off, and warm up in is not relevant at all.

To either of us.

We are just two girls having fun.

{We are drenched – and this water is COLD; not to mention the fact that I had no intention of needing a towel at all. I was maybe prepared to dip my toes in the water, but the thought of any more than that stressed me way out. What a mess. That kind of cleanup is too much for my infamously obsessive to-do list. I’m way too good of a planner-aheader for that…

But this is unplanned. It goes against every grain of a to-do list.

This, is beautiful.

Once again in life, unplanned events act as great teachers. And this event, in particular, is a very gracious teacher. This is another life-giving life experience – when we are taught graciously, rather than having to learn the hard way. These are the rare lessons. The fun, undeserved, pleasantly unexpected rare lessons where the Lord lavishes grace for no reason other than love.}

And yet, in the midst of all of this, I am simultaneously overwhelmed with the most intense, protective rush I have experienced in my 13 months and 1 day of being a mama. My subconscious, Mama Bear death grip on her in my arms is the only barrier between me walking her safely back to the house and her getting swept out into the daunting power of that massive – beautiful and majestic, but daunting and powerful, nonetheless – body of water.

Holy Cow. I’m trying to take it all in. It seems impossible. I don’t want this to end, this feeling.

This joy.

This bliss.

This lack of comprehension of all the brokenness that is life, at times, on this side of Heaven.

And it isn’t a feeling of fear, this feeling I feel. More of beautiful, privileged responsibility.

But she has not one speck of comprehension of any of that.

All she can see is the next wave approaching and “I better start kicking now so Mommy swings me in the water again!”

For the hundredth time. And let me tell you, I could do it a thousand more.

And to think that this perspective, this protective love, this enthralling joy, this passion for another, for a child, is God’s constant – not split-second-come-and-go – view of us, makes me speechless.

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