Why I Have Hope, Part 2

In Part 1 I told you about a time when violence took me by surprise.

Community can take me surprise, too, which is why I have hope.

 

My family didn’t look like any other family that I knew. It was the only way we ever looked, though, so to me it was normal. To you, your family is normal. That’s the awesome thing about families: even the weird stuff is normal in your own family.

Sometimes being different did feel isolating, but it wasn’t often. Honestly, it was only as a young adult that I was able to reflect on how difficult life must have been for my brother, Todd. When you’re a kid you just take what you get.

The beautiful thing is there were always people for us. Mom didn’t have a ton of people inviting her for coffee and playdates but she had enough. Enough to let us know we belonged, enough to drown out the mean voices.  It was those people who helped the good outweigh the bad.

 

Once Erik came along it was really interesting how people either took him or not. Those that liked him really liked him, and those that didn’t never did. Of course he was kind of like a cat and kept showing up at the houses where he seemed particularly unwelcome.

That guy.

I think he may still be a little like that.

My parents always stressed the importance of focusing on the good things. The good things that happened, the good about ALL the people in our lives – even the ones that give us trouble. Mom and Dad taught me that everyone has value.

Essentially, Mom and Dad taught me to believe in the good of community.


Yes, we had bad experiences just like everyone. We also encountered some really stellar people, like a guy we’ll call Stephen McStephenson. I was in fifth or sixth grade, so around 11 or 12 years old. Stephen was newish to our school and the news on him was that he was a type of animal; a zebra.

I had no idea what that meant, I just heard it whispered amongst kids at school.

One day he ticked me off, as boys that age tended to do, and I used that name on him. I still had no clue what it meant, but I shouted it and the room hushed. Immediately I knew I had done something forbidden. I don’t even recall Stephen’s reaction.

Someone clued me in on what that name meant. I felt sick the rest of the day. I felt ashamed and disgusted by myself. I walked home alone slowly, unable to look anyone in the eye. I sat at my kitchen table with my snack. After five minutes of not being able to eat I  knew I needed to take a walk.

I went to Stephen’s house and apologized. I apologized to his mother and to him. I cried, probably the ugly cry. Then the three of us sat at their table and talked.

That boy and I were not best friends after that, but there was definitely an understanding.


I didn’t know it then, but I had a few choices with my shame. “According to Dr Hartling, in order to deal with shame, some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets. Some of us move toward by seeking to appease and please. And some of us move against by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using shame to fight shame.” (Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p. 46)

According to Brown, sharing our story, our shame, releases it’s hold on us. That’s exactly what I experienced when I went to the person I had hurt and confessed my shame. Puff. It was gone, never to have hold over me again.

There’d be plenty of other times, though, when I didn’t do the best thing with shame when it came knocking. 

I have to think that’s what people who are racist (or any kind of -ist) do. They have shame but turn it the wrong way. Individual life experiences coupled with They hole up with people who think the exact same way and insulate themselves against any type of growth.

Aren’t we all guilty of that, to a degree? I’d gravitate toward hanging out with people who think the way I do. It’s just more comfortable.


The gift of my childhood was that I was able to see the very best of people – and the very worst.

And that’s where my hope for us all comes in.

Due to the uniqueness of my family I was exposed to the truth of humanity: we are not all good and we are not all bad. The hurtful things that we can do to one another will never surprise me. However, the amazing kindness that comes from us is what leaves me the most changed. 

After watching events unfold in Charlottesville it was hard to not give into the feeling that neo-Nazi’s were everywhere waiting to take to every street. That’s the problem with the media. The news is only able to focus on a handful of events at a time.

The media will not focus on the stuff that unites.

The news has no way of portraying all the things – good and bad – happening all at once around our towns, countries, and the world. They’re focused  on the most buzz-worthy stories, the stuff that will pull us in and keep us coming back for more, or never leaving. We can watch news 24 hours a day if we choose.

Or we can be smarter than they think we are.

We can leave our homes and get out into our communities. We can find organizations to get involved with that will educate us on race issues, immigration, and anything else that you might be interested in. Don’t get your info from social media feeds and websites. Get out there and be a part of it.

I’m preaching to myself here.

What would it look like to give each other room to share our stories? Even the ugly ones. Especially the ugly ones. Though, Brown cautions against sharing our shame with people who aren’t safe. Only special people get to hear that stuff. 

I guess what I’m talking about is having relationships with people who think in ways that are uncomfortable for us. Learn how to have conversations with people you don’t agree with  and love them anyway. We don’t always have to choose the easiest ones. Read more of what Brene Brown has to say here. I really know we can do this together – as long as we don’t pretend it’s not happening.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:5

 

I have hope because I have community. I have hope because I can share that community with others. Hope will not put us to shame. Keep track of the hope-giving moments in our world and hold on to those. That’s how we’ll learn how to move through the life-sucking moments. 

 

Be brave, misfits, and have hope.

Five Hours

If you prefer to listen to this post just press play below.

I noticed one of my friends on my way in to the drop-in center this morning. She was talking with a man so I knew not to wave. It was early to see anyone out and I found myself thinking of all the scenarios that found her out on the sidewalks at that time of day.

Did she get kicked out of somewhere semi-safe?

Did she need something to eat?

Had she been out all night?

She made it down to us just before lunch was served. Leftover drunk hung around her head making it too heavy to hold up. We each asked what we could do, what we could give, that would make it more bearable. Silent tears cause her mascara run.  Another friend stood to tenderly wipe the black marks away.

The bloody scratches on the woman’s arms confirmed what I’d always assumed: she was a fighter.

 

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.” ~ Goethe

 

Every day that I spend in the drop-in center is an education, a reminder of how little I actually know of the world.

The table we all sit at is old and covered with a brightly colored vinyl tablecloth. The bowls holding chips and packaged sweets serve as a small comfort to women who are struggling with homelessness, addiction, and sexual exploitation.

We color together, sometimes play with play dough, and share a meal. We break bread at that table, us women. We share holy communion with one another, amongst crude language and a sadness that I do not know.

They swap tales of slum lords, pimps, and past times shared with one another. I’m informed that if you don’t have tits and ass you won’t get anything down there. Nothing to rent, nowhere to stay.

There is laughter and teasing. One friend shares a couple of jokes she knows as she cleans her feet with peroxide. She can’t see to put on her bandaids so I ask about the glasses on her head. She tells me, “Those don’t work. They just hold my hair back.” This strikes me so funny I roar with laughter and everyone else joins in. It’s all so absurd and normal.

Over the course of my five hours I am changed.

I have had to tell a woman that no, I cannot get her a pair of underwear because our clothing closet is closed on Saturdays. She takes it like a champ and says she’ll go to the store and work it out. I’m still ruminating on why I have 12 pair of underwear at my disposal and she has none.

I see a gunshot wound. I hear stories of destroyed childhoods that make me want to claw my eyes out. I learn some new slang words that I will not be trying out any time soon. I learn that joy is always attainable, if only for some moments. I learn that the truth doesn’t always come out in words. I learn that my unwillingness to call out wrongness has a cost.

Five hours. All that and more in just five hours.


 

After the place has cleared out and it’s just us volunteers I confess my occasional irritation with our friends. I don’t understand why they don’t all jump in the life raft we offer in the form of rehab, shelters, and job training. We talk some more over happenings of the day and then head our separate ways.

I drive to Kroger and purchase some pre-made sushi and on an impulse buy a peach pie. Once home my family asks about my day but I can’t talk about it right away. It’s too much to verbalize. I still have some processing to do and I’m tired.

I find myself in the kitchen mindlessly eating a pretty hefty portion of that impulsive peach pie. It seems that even I, good Christian woman that I am, can fall prey to mind-numbing addiction just from hearing their stories. What must it be like to live them?

 

The thing about my five hours is this: I know it will end.

No matter how heavy or chaotic or wonderful our time together is at the center I know where I’ll be sleeping. I know that I’ll have dinner. I know that the men in my life aren’t going to hit me. I will not be sexually exploited where I’m going. I am valued for more than my genitalia.

My friends live in crisis every second of every day.

“Stress will kill you,” one of them said to me in between phone calls searching for an apartment. “I have got to get off the streets.”

I nod my head like I know what she’s talking about.

But I don’t.

I mean, I know the feeling but not the reality.

We in the church don’t like to talk about class privilege, but that’s the thing separating our realities.

That’s a post for another day, though.

 


Today I’m content with my five hours.

This evening I sit and look at the sky as I always do. My five hours today has my friends on my heart as I gaze heavenward. I wonder where they are and if they’re safe. My prayer is that they don’t die; that they know they are loved.

I also give thanks for all the things that they teach me, for how patient they are with me. They treat me not as I am but as I ought to be, as I could be, and that leaves me changed. My friends see me as Jesus does, not as I am or the things that I do. How can I not learn from that?

Tonight I think of their names and faces and smile that I get to know them. I can’t remember the funniest joke I heard today, the one with the super naughty word. I look forward to getting to ask about it next time I’m down there.

I can’t wait for my next five hours.

Be brave, misfits. May you be blessed to know others who see you as you could be.

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Why I Have Hope, Part 1

It was a big deal when my brother started to come to school with me. We could walk together, to and from, and I felt like such the big sister. I was very proud of my position.

 

I don’t remember the first time it happened, someone pointing out that my brother did not have the same color skin as me. I do remember the day I decided I wasn’t going to take it anymore, though.

This kid, I still remember his name, called my little brother a ‘gook’. I had learned from a family member the nastiness of that word and it brought up all kinds of pent up, never-used feelings. I wasn’t having it.

I had my little brother’s hand in mine as I tried to punch this kid. The boy and his friends laughed at my inexperience with violence. The rage launched me forward onto him while the kid’s big brother watched, his companions cheering us on. I feel like he was shocked. He didn’t know I was that mad. I remember him saying, “Kara, Kara. Stop.”

But I couldn’t stop – the thing propelling me forward was bigger than me.

I was incensed on behalf of my very small brother. My brother  with his beautiful dark eyes and dark hair and coffee colored skin. I loved our differences. I was proud that my brother was Korean, that he was different. He was so beautiful to me.

I don’t remember a lot except that I was screaming hysterically as I ran home. I raced to my garage, where I grabbed a hammer. I wanted to inflict the worst kind of pain on those boys.

It didn’t matter that they had not made Todd bleed. His wounds were invisible but deep. You could see the wariness in his eyes. After all, some of our own family members had no problem making fun of his race.

Why should he be surprised by the kids at school using mean words on him?

Why should he be surprised at the teachers who pretended not to overhear?

Why should he be surprised at the adults who asked idiotic questions of him?

Back to that day, the day when violence came into my heart. I chased that boy for two blocks, anger growing with every pump of my legs. The boy was faster than me and reached his house before I could reach him. His mother was sitting on the front porch.

He ran up the two concrete stairs and stood behind his mother. I stood gasping for air, grasping a hammer tightly in one hand, sweat rolling down my forehead. It was the voice of his mother that calmed the fire in my heart.

Thinking back on it, I believe it was her understanding that acted like cool waters.

I thought, “She gets it.” 

His mother didn’t look like the other mothers at my elementary school. Her clothes were different, her accent not the same. Maybe she understood being on the outside. Maybe she recognized the flames engulfing my heart.

She listened to my tearful story, words coming between hiccups, snot and tears running down my face. She nodded her head and took her son’s hand and told him to apologize. 

I went home exhausted, defeated, and scared.

For the first time I saw that the thing my little brother was up against was an indomitable foe.

I was also frightened by the monster inside myself.

Racism is raised generation by generation on hate. Racism is fed small children to keep it growing into a proper big monster. How would I ever beat that?

 


 

For me, the day I chased that boy home with a hammer in my hand, I realized something new: knowing the person at school wasn’t the same as knowing the person.

When I saw that boy’s mama was waiting on the front porch I had clarity about his life. For one, he had a mother. I don’t think I’d ever considered that.

For another, he had a mother who was different. Lastly, I could see that his life was not the same as mine. There was something about the way his yard looked that suggested that what happened in my home was not the same as what happened in his home.

Suddenly his chipped front tooth didn’t add to his malice; it was just a chipped tooth.

I think he learned something new that day, too. I think he learned that someone can be pushed too far, that they can lose the ability to choose reason. Sadly, I think he learned to like that feeling, at least while he was at school.

That was not the last run in this boy and I would have. He and I would have words again on a school bus in high school. He didn’t grow out of bullying even in high school. One afternoon, I would sit back and watch as someone pummeled him, after months and months of taking mean words, and think, “Yeah, I remember that feeling.”

By the way, it isn’t a good feeling that you’re left with after you do violence. It’s a lonely feeling.

Doing violence leaves you feeling separate from everyone.

I need you to know that I wasn’t always the champion of the underdog. There were times that I did the bullying, a fact that still fills me with regret.

It seems that learning to do the right thing is an ongoing process. The pendulum is always swinging between reaction and inaction.

It’s the middle where it’s good. That’s where we can make some progress.

 

 


 

We need to accept that there are race issues in the U.S. My experience in America, as a person with pale skin, versus the experience of someone with darker skin, or a different accent, differ greatly. 

We appear polarized as a country, and I know there’s truth to that.

I’m not buying it completely, though. No photograph or video can ever fully encapsulate the complexities of our lives.

Those of us in the middle are a little confused. But here in the middle we can see both sides a little more clearly than if we were swung over to the far left or the far right.

Still, I want to make sure that I’m not falling into the white moderate default of inaction. Neither do I want to run home for my hammer, a reaction that is not helpful.

 

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice…” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

So what do we do? 

We know that hammers don’t work. We also know that apathy will not move us forward.

As always, I believe the answer is community. I believe it’s about inviting people into our lives and into our homes and having (potentially uncomfortable) conversations. Be willing to know people in your home and in theirs.

And this is why I have hope: it’s never too late to move forward.

 I’d like to point out that racism does not always wear a white robe and march with tiki torches. Racism uses words like ‘they’ rather than ‘us’. Racism, like all -isms excludes rather than includes.

Most often racism is silent, pretending not to see inequalities or hateful behavior.

 

Be brave, misfits, not silent. It’s okay to shake up the order of things.

Just leave your hammer at home.

 

Also, for further reading on the issues of racism:

Is there a Neo-Nazi storm brewing in Trump country?

A Reformed White Nationalist Speaks Out on Charlottesville

The White Flight of Derek Black

ShannanMartinWrites

I’m Racist (and So Are You)

 

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Now it is Sunday

Now it is Sunday.

The day given over to rest in the presence of God.

We’ve been doing Sundays the new way for so long that it doesn’t seem like the new way any more. Still, some mornings I find myself thinking back on the old way, the way Sunday used to go for us. Those memories are taking on the lovely haze of the good ole days.

That’s not true every day, though.

There are times that I look back on the old way of our Sundays when a feeling of despair clouded our mornings.  There are times when reading  a favorite author’s call to ‘be the church’ that I feel the sting of failure.  There are times when I look back on our days in ministry and feel a weight tied to my heart.

I can run a roll-call of people we considered friends and attach a hurtful action to each of them. Worse are the times that I recount the failures of church leaders that we shared in ministry with. The feeling of abandonment and betrayal is as fresh as when it first happened, even though more than ten years has gone by in some cases.

I’ve been reading 7 Principles for a Successful Marriage, a great read, by the way. One of the points that Gottman makes is that individuals can re-write their relationship by focusing on bad memories. Meaning that when your relationship with your spouse is healthy you will look back on hard times not with bitterness and resentment but with understanding. Basically, you will remember more good than bad.

I think my marriage to the church became an unhappy one.

It began in a romantic way, as love often does. I could see none of the warts. When the wounds came I was unprepared. I had no idea that there was an ugly side to church. My husband became a church employee soon after we became church members so we didn’t have a lot of time to assimilate before pain was inflicted.

His salary was low but we didn’t care because we were fulfilling our purpose. After a year he was told he wouldn’t be getting a raise because I could work, but because I chose to stay home with our children his salary did not increase. That happened more than once, in more than one church. That is an ugly side of church. 

I could fill a book with the ugly side of church. Maybe two.

I do not want those memories in my heart any longer. Sometimes I think that telling everyone how much it hurt will get rid of the shame that is there, too. I don’t know.

 

 


 

There was much good, also. I cannot forget that. So much. Enough to fill four books.

The generosity of those we shared life with was amazing.

Early in our ministry (and marriage) when money was tight $500 appeared in our mailbox. That money was a miracle.  We were a able to do a car repair AND buy Christmas gifts.

In another city in another church a grill showed up on our front porch one Sunday a few years later.  At another a  new friend bought all four of our children brand new winter coats. I could go on and on.

Stepping away from church is giving me time to heal my relationship with it, to put back some good memories. It’s doing the same for my kids. I think it’s doing the same for Lee, but he still misses it so much.

Church hurt is not comfortable for me to talk about. I don’t want anyone to feel responsible but not all of my hurt was internally generated. I think we can do better.

I didn’t realize how much I needed time away from the place we fell in love with Jesus at. Stepping back has allowed me to see it all, though. The good, the bad, and the ugly. My part, their part, and our part.

Yesterday was Saturday, a day that I often feel is capable of anything.

 


 

Now it is Sunday.

The day I used to give away grudgingly, reluctantly, and with a little bit of resentment.

The day starts quiet. I read some. Lee sleeps some or finds a church to worship at alone. I find my way to my book of prayers, to my bible, to my worship play list on Spotify. There is no hurry up and get there, no have-to’s or shoulds forcing us to swallow faster than we’d like. No expectations hanging over our heads.

Sunday belongs to us, which means we are free to give it to God, because every good and perfect is from above, anyway.

Am I giving what has already been given or am I choosing to share? 

I am sometimes tempted to think that the new way is too slow, is not filled with enough stuff. I can begin filling in shoulds and have-to’s but that is not the rhythm God has for us. Sunday is for resting in His presence and reveling in His companionship. 

Taking my morning walk I watch people as they go to their cars, dress shoes clip-clopping on the sidewalk. They don’t look at me and I wonder if they’re judging me for not going to church.

I think I used to do that.

Internally I would shake my head and wonder at how others got along without the church.

When we first left the ministry I worried that Sunday would feel like Saturday in our new life. That it would lose its specialness. 

There were some Sundays that did feel that way. Some Sunday mornings found me binge watching Gilmore Girls and feeding everyone peanut butter an jellies. I am learning  even that can be an offering. 

I  choose to make Sunday important. A special lunch, private prayer, and just generally being more aware of God’s active role in my life, and in the life of my family, are a few things that set Sunday apart from the other days of the week. It’s all up to me. Nothing is mandatory. Unless I begin forcing things. 

Wherever you choose to spend your sabbath the only thing that’s important is that you’re choosing to share it; that you’re not putting shoulds and have-to’s on the sacrament of worship, and that you recognize it for the gift it is.

When the hurt got too big my instinct was to pull away from church. It’s counterintuitive but it’s my church community that has been the catalyst for healing for me. 

I find solace in house church these days, but I still love churches in buildings, too. Church is where I learned hymns and the story of Passover – how can I not love that place? Sitting in a small group, outside in lawn chairs, singing songs to my Creator has helped to close up some old wounds.

Jesus came for relationship, so of course it is relationship that rescues us from hurt.

What I’m trying to say with all of these words is this: Sundays don’t have to hurt. If they do talk to your pastor, talk to friends, figure it out but don’t keep letting the hurt stack up. You can talk to me, too.

Happy Sunday, friends.

 

 

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The Process of Pain

I am a denier.

Or at least I used to be.

I’m one of those people who others  always thought was just fine, maybe even more than fine. I’d smile real big and say, “I’m great!” and quickly move the conversation to how they were doing.

I thought that was my job. I thought that I was supposed to do that. As an encourager I enjoy making others feel good, better. I love to make people laugh. That’s how God made me.

He never meant for it to cost me, though.

That was all me and perfectionism working really well together. I read a quote recently that washed all over me.

 

 

I had this idea of what people needed from me and it cost me a lot. In order to be the happy person all of the time you have to deny your feelings of sadness, anger – anything that gets in the way of being perceived as happy. Some of it was a coping mechanism to get through really Hard Times. Sometimes faking it is all you can do.

I had given myself the wrong idea that believers don’t struggle, and that if they do it was in private. One of the biggest things counseling did for me was teach me to mourn.  While I have not had major losses of people I have suffered pain at the hand of the church, had to say goodbye to friends, watch my kids go through serious loneliness, observe my husband’s family relationships unravel, stand by as he leaves a career that he loves and navigate the difficult waters of finding a new one, put all of my most beloved possessions in a storage unit…you get the picture.

It’s a lot.

Life is a lot.


I was shocked at the depth of my sadness and I will tell you that giving myself room to be sad was uncomfortable. It hurt. I’d spent YEARS pushing that crap down and allowing it to come up to the surface was painful. That’s the thing about pain, though, isn’t it?

Pain will demand the spotlight. In the moment, or years later, it must be dealt with. Denying only delays the inevitable.

While acknowledging the difficult junctures was distressing  it all it was also refining. I felt myself becoming a new thing, being transformed.

That’s the beauty of struggle, isn’t it? You do not come out of it unchanged.

He makes all things new.

Suffering leads to  endurance, which leads to character which creates HOPE.

Hope does not disappoint.

Hope is the thing with feathers, the thing that reassures us that it will all be okay.

Without suffering, can we even have hope?

 

I don’t think so.

 


Pain is a process that has to take place in order to make us new. It’s how we get stronger, it’s how we become usable. Without going into the kiln pottery won’t hold their shape, won’t hold water, and won’t look as pretty. 

Pain is not a thing to be avoided OR embraced. It’s to be accepted and allowed. It’s not our job to do anything with the pain.

After my Dad’s open heart surgery a couple of years ago he was uncomfortable. He told me there was a pain in his ribs. I didn’t tell him it was the huge chest tube. We made the unfortunate discovery that his i.v. pain meds had run out. I remember looking into his ICU room and thinking, “Well, crap.”

I couldn’t tel him that the pain wasn’t there. I couldn’t tell him that it would never go away. Neither of those things were true.

I could only tell him the truth: the pain was going to be there for a while, and that it would get better. Eventually.

Dad could only breathe through the pain and accept that it would be there for a while. Consenting to the pain it seemed to help ease it up a little. After breathing for  an hour or so he was able to sleep. If he had fought the pain the distress would have only increased. If he had tried to ignore it, pretend it wasn’t there for my sake or his, the torment would have driven him mad.

Acceptance of any type of struggle, physical, spiritual, or mental gives you permission to deal with it.

I don’t know why we have pain, why we have to have struggle to have hope.

What I do know is this: Jesus will call to you even in the struggle.

He will call you out of that pain.

Every day.

Again and again, for as long as it takes.

It’s not a one time get-of-jail-free card with Jesus. It’s an every time, all the time kind of love.

It’s a my-life-for-yours, resuscitating, rescuing love.

Perfection and paralysis don’t have to be your companions.

Accept the things you cannot change. Allow Him to change you. 

There is no end of the story.

Be brave misfits, even in the process of pain. Especially in the process of pain.

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When Destruction is Part of Life

This year we’ve put the garden in the front yard. I got a bit of a late start on it, though, and didn’t want to take the time, or the expense, to till. Dad did a little research and we decided that spraying down the grass with vinegar then covering it with dirt would have to suffice.

Coming to this decision was not as simple as it sounds.

After hosing down our 16×4 plot of grass with vinegar we pinned down a plastic tarp. Our hope was that the sun and vinegar would work together to kill off the grass.

Then came the dirt.

Who knew that there were so many types of dirt to buy?

I stood at Lowe’s fretting over which bags. The cheapest? Definitely not the most expensive ones. Compost? Fertilizer? I felt so silly trying to figure out which bags

In the end I decided on the next to cheapest dirt I could find. It said ‘natural’, but when Spencer and I got it home and cut a bag open it smelled anything but natural. It smelled like death.

Except, I guess death is natural.

We spread it out over the dying grass, each of us taking turns with the garden rake. I loved the way that dark, rich dirt looked when we poured it out. I felt quite proud of our little patch. Every morning Spencer and I would come out and dig through a little patch to check on the death of the grass. Most of it was white and wilted, unable to withstand the weight of the dirt.

A few persnickety pieces of the green stuff continue to poke through the surface, though, and have to be  pulled. I’ve got to be diligent.

Whenever I am busy in the garden parables come to mind. It’s easy to see why Jesus taught in parables. Working with my hands, being part of creation, always makes me think on the teachings of Christ. It feeds my hunger for deep thinking. I examine God’s divine nature, think on his goodness, and am so grateful for tomato plants.

The parables seem all at once simple and tricky.

That dirt and grass, though, they were teaching me something. The lesson has just taken a few weeks to catch up to me.

 

 


 

I’m learning about Jeremiah with some friends, a few certain women, over the summer. I tend to skip over the prophets because they seem so …troubled.

Jeremiah is one of my husband’s favorites, though, so I decided to give him a go. It turns out he’s one of Eugene Peterson’s, too. I found a great study by Peterson that we’ve been using. It’s called Excellence: Run with the Horses.  Immediately we noticed that Jeremiah is kind of a downer.  In fact he’s known as the ‘weeping prophet’.

Rightfully so, since he had the unfortunate task of announcing Israel’s impending destruction.

As the Lord helped Jeremiah reach an understanding with his role in his people’s future God said these words to him:

Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the LORD. ~ Jeremiah 31:28 

 

There it was, my comfort, those words I highlighted in green.

Maybe your comfort, too?

God doesn’t destroy because it’s in his power. Our Creator always has a plan to build and to plant.

This gives me relief (and hope)  because no matter what devastation my life suffers, the Lord is always working a plan to build and plant.

It’s like after a forest fire there’s the opportunity for regrowth.

Destruction feels brutal and non-recoverable. Even when you know with your brain that you will make it through a Hard Time, your soul is dying a death that will leave you changed.

In a sense, you won’t recover because you will be a different you on the other side of grief.  As I read parts of Jeremiah I recognize the echo of the story of my life, too. He has certainly been overseeing the destruction of my earthly kingdoms which had been set up in the artifices of career, finances, church, and material things.

When we left the ministry we didn’t realize we were walking away from a worldly domain of our own making.

I didn’t realize how dependent I was on our plan for Lee’s career for security or my possessions for my identity. Losing those things put us on shaky ground for a little bit. Recovering from that self-imposed destruction has been life changing for all of us. I’d say we all feel more certain of God’s place in our lives and less certain of the world’s demands – not a bad place to be. 

Not everything about our old life was bad, but not everything was God-directed, either.  

 


 

Spraying that vinegar all over the grass felt wrong, but we knew it needed to be done.

It’s not always that easy with our lives, though, is it? Often the destruction is against our will. I’ve been there, too, where every fiber of your being is begging for the devastation to stop.  I know what it’s like to wake in the middle of the night feeling fine when the sudden knowledge of your loss settles on your chest and replaces your even breathing with gasps. It’s as though while you’re asleep your body stops remembering the wound and then, upon waking, it all comes back.

I know that kind of pain, too.

Destruction of our earthly kingdoms is not without discomfort, even misery,  but God will use it for a purpose, too. He will oversee building and planting and renewal.

He will make all things new.

 

 

I look at this garden knowing that it will bear fruit soon. I barely remember the patch of dead grass underneath it all.

That’s the amazing thing about being rebuilt. The old stuff becomes a building ground for the different stuff, the new stuff. I can’t say better stuff, though, because I know people who have lost more than jobs and bookcases. Losing people, be it babies in the womb or aged dear ones, is not the same as losing stuff. Life is always better with those we love. The part of life that comes after them can’t be better…only different, and new. 

New growth will always come after devastation. I believe that.

The first year after we left ministry felt like slow drowning. We paddled and paddled and still went under. We failed at finding a church, finding friends, finding a job. We lost our momentum and gave into the waves – and it seems that’s when we got to shore.

Sometimes you just have to give in to the devastation without knowing where it will take you. The miracle is that with some work, with some tender care, you’ll be looking at fullness again. Your old life will be under the surface offering up little aches and pains every now and then, but also giving you solid planting ground. 

My life, my family’s lives, each look very different than they did 2 years ago. I cannot believe how full we are with community, church, and each other. The loneliness and heartache of 24 months ago seems so distant. Every now and then, though, it comes back through and I remember that God is still working that plan.

 

 

If you’re suffering under devastation, big or small, self-imposed or accidental, you’re not alone. You’re loved and cherished.

You will be made new. 

Be brave in the devastation.

 

 

 

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Community Matters

A couple of days a month I drive to a house in a rougher section of town. I have friends who meet me there, some I know and some  are strangers to me.  We have coffee together, maybe share a meal . Sometimes we do art together. Sometimes my friends just sleep on couches  or the floor. Sometimes my friends need fresh clothes and a toothbrush. Sometimes my friends need hugs.

My friends have worked the streets. They may be addicted to drugs, or alcohol. They may be experiencing homelessness.

I volunteer with an organization called Natalie’s Sisters, a ministry devoted to showing the love of Christ to women who have been sexually exploited, either on the streets or in clubs. The Natalie’s Sisters drop-in center gives women a respite, a place to go  where they are safe and free from judgement. Food and clothing are available, as are other services to  help them.

My first experience with the group was meal drop off. I rode with two other women and a police officer to deliver meals to women on the street.

Poverty was not new to me and I knew about sex trafficking.

I had never seen it in action, though. I had never seen women getting into a car  and driving off to conduct their business. I had never seen a person so strung out on heroin that they could barely form sentences. I had never seen women so thankful to be treated with dignity.

When I came home, after that first night, to my warm house and full pantry and healthy children I cried. Hot, angry tears left my cheeks wet. It’s so confusing that a different world is only a few miles from my house. Suddenly everywhere seemed dark and dangerous. I wondered what happened in my own neighborhood that I didn’t know about.

I wondered how I can have so much while others have so little. 

I wondered how I would sleep knowing that my new friends might not be safe.

I wondered a lot of things.

I’ve only been volunteering for six or seven months but I am so changed. I have learned so much. Examining my preconceived notions of what it meant to be on the streets, what I thought prostitution looked like, was hard but important.

Pretty Woman is not how it is, in case you were wondering.

On of my first full days spent at the center I just sat back listening to some of the ladies chat with each other. We were making bracelets together outside. The sky was blue, the clouds white and puffy. From far away the noise was just women talking, laughing. Up close their words punched my gut.

Their lives were not safe. Some of them had lost their children. Some had been stabbed, others slapped and hit. Some needed to find a place to sleep for the night.

Still, they had room in their lives for  laughter. They made room to be caring. They took the time to  hug and ask each other to stay safe.

They have community.

I think that’s one of the most important things I’ve learned from Natalie’s Sisters. Community matters. Having people who listen, and have your back, people who will make things with you, and share a meal with you. That’s community. That’s important.

 

Community is essential, in fact, to being human.

Natalie’s Sisters is a bridge between communities that are separated only by social constructs.  Natalie’s Sisters is Jacob’s well.

Jesus met a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, breaking all the rules of Jewish culture. He sat at the well and offered her Living Water, so that she would never thirst again. The woman listened to him, shocked that he knew her sin. That used to be the part that got me, too. The disciples were shocked to discover the two of them in conversation.

This is my favorite New Testament story. There is so much happening here. It is not that Jesus knows her sin that is important. No, the important kernel here is that Jesus knows her. He knows the authentic her.  He knows each of us, the real us. That’s what’s important. 

 

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” ~John 4: 23-24, The Message 

 

One of my favorite writers, Shannan Martin, shared on her blog about this, the importance of being known. Her life was forever changed when she learned the names of people previously only theorized about. She knew about them as a concept,  in the context of improving the lives of those stuck in poverty.

Shannan learned that poverty, when given names, can’t be looked as something to be fixed and she filled her blog up with words that left me hungry and knowing something new. Poverty needs relationship, shared meals,  and yoked shoulders. That’s where we’ll see change. (Go read her stuff. She’s amazing.)

I’m learning the same thing. My friends have names, they have beautiful faces, and unspoken dreams. Putting a list of shoulds and have-to’s on them won’t work because their system is broken. Their personal system is broken, and the government system they have to work within is broken.

I don’t know why there are the gaps that there are, no matter how much I read it about it. I don’t understand addiction, sexual trauma, or why change is so slow. I don’t know why it’s not just about providing money and food, but it’s not. 

 

What I have learned is this: the more time I  spend with my new friends the less space there is between us.

 

After these months I’m comfortable knowing that it’s not my job to fix their lives. I’m called to know them. I’m called to be their sister and love them just where they’re at. I love them addicted and strung out, and I love them clean and sober. I celebrate the triumphs in their lives whether it’s jeans that fit or the choice to go to detox.

Their lives matter just as they are.

What I can see is that my time at Natalie’s Sisters is changing me from the inside out, too. I see that I am becoming Jacob’s well, not just visiting. I am allowing myself to be a space where cultural barriers are broken, a place that Living Water can be offered from. I am becoming more like Jesus, able to see people for their authentic selves. I’m not seeing addicted people, homeless people, or bad people; I’m just seeing people.

See, you can’t be in relationship with people and not be different. I no longer avoid people pretending not to see them. I look them in the eye because being known is more important than food or water. I believe that.

Today I am convicted to pray to become Jacob’s well. I want to be a place where others can meet Jesus, drink of the Living Water, and never thirst.

I think it’s key to remember that the woman at the well didn’t leave believing. She left wondering. She also left cognizant of the Truth that she was known.  I believe that her questions caused her to seek answers. She went back to her village with her questions, but I also have no doubt that she was changed from what she now held in her heart.

Her heart held the treasure that she was known by the Creator of the universe, the Maker of all things good.

What is better than that?

My heart holds a new truth, too. I know that it doesn’t matter if people walk away from me believing. I used to think I was a failing Christian if I couldn’t convert non-believers. I know that it’s important that they walk away wondering, seeking answers. It’s important that they know  that I see them for who they are, their true self, and that I love them. 

That’s it.

Jesus will take care of the rest.

 

Be brave, misfits.

May you find Jacob’s well today.

 

Sunday Thoughts

It’s a rainy Sunday here in Kentucky.

Perfect for staying in bed and spending lots of time with my thoughts. I find myself thinking a lot about God’s goodness,  his grace. I ponder how he loves completely even in the midst of this broken not-quite-right world.

Some days I find it difficult to reconcile.

A few weeks ago at house church we talked about struggle and what our struggle means in light of Christ’s struggle on the cross. I often compare my first-world struggles to those of people in war-torn, far away places like Aleppo or Nigeria. It fills me with shame that I lament the loss of a secure future when there are people starving to death. My worries over pension plans and 401K’s feel selfish, and I suppose that they are.

In American culture, though, that’s the thing, We work for security for ourselves and our children, and before we know it that’s where we’re putting our hope.

At least that’s how it is for me.

We’ve been hoping and praying for a new job for Lee. One that will fulfill his purpose and provide for our security. He suffered a blow this week when he found out that a position he had been working toward was given to someone else. He didn’t suffer alone. I hadn’t realized how much hope I had put in that job. It was going to save us, I just knew it.

In my sadness I often rail against the Lord. He can take it and I sure can dish it out. Then he always comes in with these quiet, convicting comebacks that leave my heart pierced. 

He told me, and I know it’s true, that we’ve been putting our hope in a new job, in more money. He talks to me in a quiet voice so that I have to listen. This annoys me. I like shouting and billboards and neon signs. Quiet requires quiet.

I think that’s his tactic.

Jesus is the best at behavior management.

He reminded me quietly, gently that my hope is in God. Period. That’s it.

 

“God is our refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea.”   ~ Psalm 46: 1-2

 

Struggle is part of this world. In fact, Jesus promises us trouble. It’s how we respond to that trouble that makes the difference. 

We can’t deny struggle. That only delays the inevitable pain from it. We can’t make it too big, either. Giving struggle more attention than necessary causes it to grow larger than it really is.

Acceptance is the only way to go. Accept the struggle we’re each in, whatever it is. Then, knowing that the God of hope is with you, keep going. 

I know that sounds all footprints-in-the-sand, but Truth is Truth.

God doesn’t want me to feel ashamed of my response to struggle, either. He knows me, he knows how I work and he’s okay with it. He knows that each thing I move through softens me, makes me more like Jesus. He is patient and good and doesn’t push me along.

My walk with Christ does not need to be fraught with tension. There is no condemnation from Christ. If I’m feeling that I know it’s time to seek him and his answers.

He is teaching me so much about resting in him, knowing him, and trusting him. It isn’t the way I thought it would look at all.

Not long ago I fell back to my old way of thinking. The way that said I was in my position because of how God felt about me.

Believing that my circumstance are a reflection of how God feels about me is lie of the enemy.

That is not true. Where I am at physically, emotionally, or mentally or not an affliction that God has put on me. Yes, he allows me to move through difficult stuff. That’s life here on earth, though.

How God feels about me won’t change my situation. God’s feelings for me, should I choose to recognize them, will only change how I respond to my situation. 

The trap of the theology that God gives to those who deserve it is deep. If I believe that I am in my difficult situation because of something I have done, something I deserve, then what about those starving people in Africa? The children of Aleppo? The innocents caught in horrible places in my own city? What is that they have done to deserve their fate?

Nothing.

We were born where we were born and God loves us each the same.

He loves the people in Aleppo, Africa, cooperate America, brothels, and prisons. He loves everyone the same. It isn’t God’s love that’s confusing for me, it is the world that’s muddled. I get that mixed up sometimes.

There is no earning his grace, he just gives it.

There is no gaining God’s favor, it just is.

It’s all there for the taking waiting for our response.

Our pain is real, the battle will always be there. It will take different forms and shapes for every unique individual. Struggle will always be a commonality between us human beings.

Grace is bigger. Goodness is bigger. Love is bigger.

I like that commonality even more.

It is the Truth that God is bigger than all of the wars we wage that allowed Corrie ten Boom, Anne Frank, Dietrich Bonhoeffer to write words hope from dark places. It’s that Truth that pushes us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and smile at a stranger. Those acts are responses to struggle AND the Light of Christ.

Maybe we need that combo?

Maybe struggle forces us to dig deeper?

Perhaps my struggle for security coupled with the Light of Christ is what allows me to my hope in eternal security. 

There is no shame in weeping or gnashing of the teeth. I believe that’s necessary.

How I respond inwardly to struggle though, there’s where it gets me.

Do I turn to God for answers or towards the  world? 

The big question, among the many,  I am asking myself today is this:

When people see me do they see my struggle or do they see Jesus?

More importantly, when the people I live with see me which do they see?

That last one gives me something to build my week on.

 

Those are my Sunday thoughts, the ones I caught before the rain went away. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these questions, too, or maybe you’d share your own Sunday thoughts?

 

Be brave, misfits.

Ask the hard questions.

Then wait for the quiet answers.

 

 

 

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Home Again

Our family traveled a lot when I was a kid. We took short trips, long trips, and sometimes just day trips. I loved going, seeing new places, but also knowing that we shared the same sky, the same moon no matter where we were. I can sleep so well in a car, probably because of all that traveling. One of my favorite memories is lying in the back our big yellow van, my head against the wall so that I could see out of the window above my head. I would sleep that way, only waking when when we slowed down to turn into our neighborhood.

The big hill that leads to our house is lined with trees and streetlights and is as comforting to me as home. I would open my sleepy eyes and know exactly where we were, which neighbor’s house we were passing. As we pulled into the drive my parents would chant, “Home again, home again jiggity jig!” Even today I feel myself relax as I drive up that street.

It’s funny to me that I never wanted to move away from home. I mean, I wanted my own apartment as I got older,  but I never thought about living in another city. After Lee and I had been married for a couple of years a job opportunity came up that would require us to move. Every cell in my body wanted to stay in Lexington but I knew that Lee needed this.

So, we moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

The first few months there were scary and lonely. Driving in Knoxville terrified me, and I learned lots of back roads to avoid the interstates and heavy trafficked roads. Because the radio in my old black Volvo didn’t work I had to sing loudly to distract my babies and myself from my panic at sharing the road with so many trucks. Old hymns, Mary Poppins, and Queen make up the soundtrack of those days.

Moving made me brave.

I was able to travel I-75 because I knew that home was at the other end. Going to visit my parents gave me courage. On the return trip knowing that Lee, our house, and our little life were all waiting for me made my goodbyes less bittersweet. It’s funny how fears abate when you have people waiting for you. They give you mission.

We moved three more times, twice two new town, and each place I fell in love with. I enjoyed learning the history of our new town, local favorites, and hidden treasures. I stopped thinking of Lexington as home and more as the place that I grew up. Two years ago when we moved back I couldn’t help but contemplate home, and what that means.

I was reminded of all the coming-of-age novels I read where the main character moves back home and embarks on a journey of self-discovery. I always wondered what it was like to move back home after redefining yourself in another place.. No one knows what you were like in high school, or about your brothers, or what you and your best friends like to do. You don’t run into people you know at the store, at least at first, and you can switch hairdressers easily. Everything is new, and that can include you.

Moving back home, though, was so different than I thought it would be. Living in my childhood home, roaming the streets of my neighborhood with my own children, is much more grounding than I had imagined. On our daily walks we step onto the same corner that was the meeting spot of the neighborhood kids. Even though someone else lives there the house across the street is still ‘the Leggett’s house’ to me and my parents.

My handwriting, in permanent marker, is in the closet of the bedroom my girls now share. My boys’ swing set is where me and my brothers played for hours. Neighbors who knew me from childhood stop me and we condense our lives into a ten minute chat. We wave goodbye, filled with memories of a picturesque past.

Moving back to the town where I took off my training wheels for the first time, where I learned to drive, and where I got my heart broken for the first time made me brave again. While a new place can give you the freedom to be someone a little different it can also sweep you up into a current that’s not your own. We’ve had some heavy stuff happen, which caused the shoulds and have-to’s to become even more weighted.

Sometimes you just keep functioning and don’t realize how big of an influence fear has become.

Moving home gave me the space to face that. Moving home gave me space to find my courage again, to remember that no matter what happens in my life I have a place within me that houses my ten year-old self. The me that knows riding down a hill with no hands is possible, the me that doesn’t care about skinned knees or climbing too high will always be there, waiting. Fearlessness that reins freely in our youth isn’t grown out of. Rather, it is covered up under the guise of maturity  and responsibility, making us think we’re grown ups.

Audacity is always waiting for it’s moment to shine, though.

Coming home made me feel that again. Watching my youngest learn to ride his bike with only two wheels on the same sidewalk I did unleashed it. I’m probably not going to ride my bike with no hands today, but my heart is lighter, more able to be in the world.

Life is short but fear makes it shorter.

Today courage means filling my life with relationship that make my life messy, embracing inconvenience and taking heart in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. Pushing through the uneasiness that comes from going against the grain of this life is not always easy but my days feel longer when fear is not in charge.

God knew that I needed the shelter of home to find my courage again. It’s not about the place, or the house, or the neighborhood, either. Those things are nice but home is something inside, a notion that dwells within. It’s about being able to remember who Christ says I am, and for me that’s easiest to do when I think about who I was as a kid. I wasn’t weighed down by shoulds and have-to’s and didn’t hold back my love.

I am home, again.

Home again.

Jiggity jig.

 

 

I’m curious; how do you find home? Is it a place or a time? Does home make you brave, too?

 

The Reality of Christmas

We made a quick trip to visit dear friends on Thursday, two days before Christmas Eve. It seemed irresponsible to do that, but we don’t visit family and I miss the hustle and bustle of packing and going. So we went and it was fun, and one more memory with my kids’ almost-cousins is catalogued on my phone.

I love traveling.I especially love traveling with my family. Lee couldn’t get off work so I had to navigate the highways on my own. My 18 year old daughter, Kiley, was the co-pilot calling out directions, talking me down when my voice got screechy.

I’m not a fan of heavy traffic.

Photo Credit: KW BOY Flickr via Compfight cc

Kiley said she didn’t feel very Christmas-y, and I could only listen, because some years are like that. She admitted that her sister told her that it was probably because she’s older now, almost 19. I agreed that was probably part of the problem. I thought back to the year I was 18, maybe 19, and recalled that on Christmas morning I didn’t have the excited pit in my stomach, or the urge to jump out of bed at 5 a.m. I think that was year that I had a cross-stitch to finish and was up until 3 a.m.

I also remember that I received a wide-brimmed felt hat from Santa, which I loved. It had a beautiful purple silk flower pinned to it. I wore that hat a lot that winter.  However, sitting on the floor playing with a felt hat doesn’t have the same draw as sitting on the floor tinkering with the Glamour Gals Cruise Ship. Not the same thing at all.

Don’t get me wrong, it was still fun, and that cross-stitch I nearly went blind completing hangs in my parent’s room today. I enjoyed watching my brothers with their loot. They were 15 and 11 so still got toys. For me, though, the sparkle was missing. Not even my memories of those early adult years  are glitter-covered.

I didn’t feel very Christmas-y.

Lee and I married and had babies and still Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas. We were stuck under Should’s and Have-To’s and and spent a lot of time trying to please others. We didn’t have a lot of money, either, and I sometimes had the feeling that we weren’t doing enough. I may have even felt shame over a few of the gifts that we gave family members. The message of the Little Drummer Boy was lost to me.

Then I met Jesus.

I used to scoff at people who claimed to be ‘saved’ thinking that they were a little goofy – in a quaint way, of course. I loved the ritual of putting up the tree, hanging decorations, visiting Santa at the mall, and wrapping the gifts. I still love it. Going to Christmas Eve service at 11 p.m. with Dad became a ritual, too, one that I looked forward to and picked out a new dress for.  When we turned all the lights out in the church, singing Silent Night with no help from the organ, passing the flame from candle to candle until the sanctuary was well lit always gave me goose bumps.

Those things may  seem like empty rituals, remnants of liturgy without meaning behind them to a non-believer. My encounter with Christ, though, brought all of those things together like puzzle pieces that had been scattered, just waiting for their moment to come together forming the word HOPE.

 

Getting to know Jesus revealed to me His glory, revealed to me the Reality of Christmas.

Christmas isn’t a feeling, and it’s not a time of year.

Christmas is a fact.

Our God loves us so much that He came to us in the most vulnerable way; as a baby.

Christmas is vulnerable.

Our God loves us so much that he came to have relationship with me, with you, with everyone, no matter what they look like, smell like, or act like.

Christmas is relationship.

Our God loves us so much that he supernaturally interceded on our behalf, freeing us from the law and binding us to grace forever. He didn’t come to live the good life, he came to live THE life, and then give it away painfully, freely for us. He never planned on celebrating anything in his life, certainly not his birthday. His Christmas wish was that we would be free from sin. Our Christmas miracle is Jesus.

Christmas is supernatural.

Photo Credit: Design_Ex Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Once I was exposed to the Reality of Christmas the sparkle was back.

For the most part. Every now and then I can get bogged down with expectations for the most wonderful time of the year. The should’s and have-to’s creep back up on me and my calendar can swallow me whole. That’s when I have to make like a Shepherd and follow that Star. I have to be intentional about putting Jesus first, remember His reality, and allowing all the other stuff to fall into place. It’s all just stuff in the end.

Still, the Reality of Christmas has changed me from the inside out. I may not look sparkly but I sure feel it. These days I rarely sleep on Christmas Eve, that excited pit in my stomach and unstoppable grin keeping me company through the night. (Coffee is my Christmas miracle, too) It is so fun to give gifts to my people. Watching them open their little presents always makes me reflect on how our Lord must feel when we accept His gift.

I know that Christmas does not only come in December.  Some of my favorite Christmas gifts have come in the other months. Heck, I know that Jesus wasn’t born in December, but I understand why the early church opted to remember the Light of the World’s entrance during the darkest month of the year. Symbolism is not empty if you know what it means. 

Sometimes I can get a little bogged down in wondering and worrying that the culture has a hold on Christmas. I read the books and blogs the Facebook meme’s demanding that we save Christmas.

I’m just not sure Christmas needs saving because you can’t change reality.

The Great I Am will always be.

So I choose to be part of His Story. I choose to know His light even in my dark. I choose to be awestruck by His goodness and mercy even while horror takes place in the world. I choose twinkly lights and sparkly paper because it cheers the dreary, gray days. I choose traditions and rituals that remind me of the King of my heart and His bold move to save us. 


Not every Christmas will feel holy.

That’s a reality, too.

Some Decembers will find us sad, out of sorts, in the hospital, or without family to love us. While Christmas may not always feel holy, the Holy One is always with us – no matter what we look like, smell like, or act like. The Reality of Christmas means that we get to reflect on Him every day, all the time. There are no mess-up’s with Jesus.

I pray that tonight, on Christmas Eve, you can find one candle to light, one song to sing.

Photo Credit: m.rsjoberg Flickr via Compfight cc

 

May Christmas be real to you, today, tomorrow, and all the days that come.

May you be real, vulnerable, and have loving relationship in your life, and may God’s supernatural love be tangible in your life.

Be brave, misfits, and Merry Christmas.