Monday, July 14, 2014

god is not a lesson to be learned

There are a million ways to do this Jesus thing wrong.

Prodigals, perfectionists, hypocrites, know-it-alls, sloppy grace guzzlers, stumbling cynics; we have all done the math at one point and ended up with irrational numbers and faulty solutions.

Lately, I keep adding it all up only to find the lessons lead to more questions. 
This discontent has haunted me for months. It nags at me when I read books that offer the same advice that doesn't really seem to help. It breathes over my shoulder when I hold brokenness up to God and He whispers to forget everything I know and have heard. It sings mournful spirituals as I hear stories of abandoned children, fractured marriages, and loss in others' lives.

My soul needs new water, new wine, and new rivers sweetened with milk and honey to run through it.

Take off your shoes. This needfulness is holy ground. Here the bush alights with glory and is never consumed. This is where the cynics fall down, the prodigals give up at last, and the power of God sets His people free. It's time to erase the voices that offer empty answers and run to God.

Because God is not a lesson to be learned. We must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

I long for what can never be taken away from me, to soak the Person who loves me most of all into my skin and let Him seep through and erase the questions that really can't be answered here in this broken world.

God can't be boxed up, written out, and memorized. It's not always the same answer with Jesus.

He is an unexpected blaze of color flaming across the sky. He is open arms that emanicipate the hardest heart with tender mercy. He is rain that falls and never rages into floodwaters. He is the whisper of mountain songs and the tremor of earthquakes that raise mankind upward.

For the next two weeks, this blog will be a place of silent communion. I am taking a short break, a timely fast, and I am confident that in my silence I will hear what I long for most of all: His new words of faithfulness. 

Have a great two weeks, and I will see you soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

made to shine

I slowly folded my clothes and things, placing them in a suitcase under the watchful eye of my two youngest children.

"I don't want you to go," one said. The other stood silent with fussy bottom lip protruding from a mournful face that shot daggers into my heart.

I smiled sadly and replied, "I know. But you will have the best time and then I'll be back, better than before."

They didn't believe me. But I know it's true.

Because I know they need a rested mama. I know Mr. Fantastic and I need to give each other the best of who we are for a few days. Parenting can chew you up a bit, and love does not grow properly on table scraps.

We need time together to thrive.

In my suitcase was a silly satin jacket alá the Pink Ladies in Grease, and I was less excited about the costume party than any other part of our getaway.

I've never really liked costumes. Too much social discomfort and pressure to be what I'm not, I guess. I prefer to blend into the crowd and just be.

But last night we put on our 50s attire and headed to the party. There was a basketball and football competition and I happily sent Mr. Fantastic over to win for us.

But then things went a little crazy and he nudged me over. One thing led to another and I won that football thing. It's ridiculous, but true. I never would have even signed up if he hadn't talked me into it.

We celebrated over hot fudge sundaes.

Several hours later, we sat in comfy sweats playing cards. Just the two of us.

"It's the same story again and again," he beamed at me. "You don't think that you can or that you should, but I know it's true: you are meant to shine."

I sat and let the blessing of this man I married seep into my pores and asked God to help me remember his love. I thought of all my single friends and prayed they would find spouses who see more in them than they may see in themselves.

There are times that putting on what is uncomfortable and unfamiliar brings out who we are truly meant to be. Ministry, marriage, motherhood, they have all been hard to wear at times. And yet, they make me better and more radiant.

That's why I decided to organize a class for moms at our church. The world needs women who will shine brightly as moms, so Radiant Moms begins in August. Moms of all ages and stages are welcome. You can click here for more information.

Tomorrow I will pack up my suitcase and return to those little faces that long for me in such a precious way. When I hug their necks, I will shine over them with a well-rested heart.

Because it's true, I am meant to shine. We all are. It's time to become more radiant.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

we are all a woman in need of a champion

Once upon a time, in a land closer than the blood in her heart or the breath in her lungs, there was a woman who thought she wanted to be loved.

She was a princess, she was a poor maiden, she was a popular girl, she was an outcast, she was less beautiful than she wanted to be, and she was heavenly glory encased in the softest silken skin anyone had ever seen. She was all of this, because she is all of us.

She searched all through the land, seeking a fight she could win, a place she belongs, a home to draw her close, a valley running with milk and honey, and she cried when her hands held less than she knew she needed.

We are all very fortunate to start out like this woman. This groomless bride, longing for love and for someone to ask just the right question.

Can you see past the pain to know what is true?

We say we want to find our true selves, we cling to dreams and hopes, or we sit down in defeat because our skin isn't quite the right fit, our parents are from that less desireable place, or because everything is just too easy and we forget how to walk on when we are too comfortable in our inferior situation.

But what this woman really has is a grand opportunity, can't you see? She is flesh soon-to-be-branded with a story crafted to make her glorious. She is choice and grace intermingled into the sweetest cocktail any lips have ever tasted.

It's no fairy tale, it is the song we are made to sing, the one that booms from the lungs of victors when guns are laid down and hands are held and peace rings out over the whole earth.

We all begin here, like a woman in need of a Champion.

We are the oppressed, the weak ones tangled in the web of satan's silly game, born to believe the lie that we can be satisfied by less than God's own Son.

Rise up, sweet bride, and wear the spotless gown your Lover offers. There is one glorious law that overrules all others that try to ensnare you with their burdenous nature, and it is this one:

Mercy triumphs when Love covers your needfulness.

Jesus can do for you what earthly fathers, mothers, spouses, brothers, sisters, children, and friends can only wish to do.

He can win for you. Your Champion can make the desert into a spring of living water and you can thrive where others have failed.

We will all live happily ever after, and it will be better than we can possibly imagine.

Breathe His love deep within and lay down your defenses before the God who loves you most of all, and follow your Champion forever.