I was named after two amazing women, my mama's favorite Aunt Carrie and my daddy's amazing mama Lorraine.
Carrie means "song of joy" and I have spent thirty-eight years trying to learn that song. Some days the melody rises from my lips effortlessly. On others I sing the song in faith, trusting that joy will come in the morning.
Here it is, March 5, 2014, Ash Wednesday and my birthday, too. It seems completely appropriate to mix these two days into one. Mourning and birthing, sorrow and joy, sin and victory, they are both necessary to understand this world of burnt toast.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, a day to remember our need for a Savior. But when Christians mourn our sinfulness, we also rejoice in God's gift in Christ. God the Son, born to a brave mama, destined to give life to all of us trapped in death.
Mourning is a doorway to everlasting joy.
Mr. Fantastic has been quoting Martin Luther lately. "All of life is repentance," he says. On this happy day of presents and love, I know it is true deep in my heart.
I laugh with my parents on the phone as they swear we aren't all getting flat-out old. They gave me more second chances in the midst of my non-repentant youth than I deserved. But they don't regret it. It was joy to see me work it all out in the end.
I let my true love's arms open wide and accept me just as I am. The repentance flows afresh as I consider the weight I often add to his strong shoulders. He bears it well, and loves me more with each passing year. It's a miracle, no doubt about it.
I look at these four faces and repent that I have only a measure of time for them, that I squander too much of it worrying about the mostly meaningless details of life. They are gifts of love and grace, full of boundless lessons written by God's own hands.
God is in our midst. Repentance is the doorway to grace, and His lordship is the key.
He will never leave us nor forsake us. He will bless us with the divine birth of Christ in us, our eternal hope, our great shining glory.
Happy Ash Wednesday to all my dear friends. I hope today you mourn your weakness and sin, yet relish God's gift of victory. You are a precious gift to me. Every comment you leave, every encouraging "write on" email I receive, every retweet, like, and favorite, is grace and love in action in my life.
Thank you! May the next few weeks lead us all deeper into God's love.