Wednesday, September 16, 2020

We lost a friend today . . .

Oh, Death,

perhaps for a moment
you have stolen center stage
with rot and rank offending
But remember
for every child of the King
a new life waits in the wings
light and life ever lurking behind the decay
a life that, at curtain’s call,
shall utterly ruin and replace your reign

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Kindred Mom Article

Thanks to Kindred Mom for featuring these thoughts on cutting the cord, so to speak. It's really tough, but I'm thankful to have some other gals to walk (and sometimes scream) through the valley with me. 

Click HERE to read the full article.


Sunday, September 6, 2020

John 6:68 - A Poem


Of John – Six and Sixty-Eight


Oh, where could I go, save to You, Lord?

My Messiah, with words life-eternal!

These teachings, they rub like a splintered board,

But where could I go, save to You, Lord?

See, I’ve come to believe that it’s true, Lord,

You’re the One to become sin’s reversal.

So where could I go, save to You, Lord?

My Messiah, with words life-eternal!

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Remembering Some Old Words in a New Day

I came across an old document today . . .

(from October 2017)

Some things that feel like death aren’t.  Life continues regular pace, but the wound seems to hang open, collecting decay.

This piece of broken cheap pottery reminds me of a loss.  It reminds me of a “last”.  It reminds me that something was torn away when I wasn’t looking -- something that felt holy and ordained, something more valued than I even knew at the time, something that I was obviously clutching a bit too tightly. I fought hard, but the gift (and so much more) was taken.

And many rotations later, it still wreaks of death.

Honestly, I just don’t quite know which way to go with what I’m feeling – this strange, cold deadness that swells up inside me when I least expect:  in the whisper of a quiet and sunny day, during a building bridge of a familiar worship song in the gathering, at the precise moment I think I am able to stand up and finally be done with it all.  But no.  When I try to live, the death is resurrected.

And again I see the pain vividly before my eyes in all manner of images dark and menacing.  It drains all the color from the surrounding landscape.  Sucks up the life.  Plugs up my heart.  I attempt a be-a-big-girl rebound, but then I hear one of my children recount the grief, gather up her own wounds in this tale.  She can’t escape it to save her life, and I am so angry.

I hold my husband’s hand, and we hunker down in supplication that God would twist and turn this ordeal to make these children better, not bitter, as I hear myself silently pray, “Holy Spirit, it’s okay if my own rest must wait.  Just please give me the words for this child -- truth that would remind her that God is good even when humans are blind and cruel.  Even when her mama is struggling to pry the bitter daggers from her own prayers for justice.  Give me good and righteous words to guide her.”  I desperately want her to walk away stitched up and wiser.

In the end (and this may be the most difficult part), I am beginning to swallow the fact that, for some heaven-only-knows reason, God ordained this season, this pain.  He is in control.  I believe that.  I know He is sovereign.  I want to say that that fact is somehow comforting – I’m trying.  But there are still so many tears.  Maybe I’m close?  At times, I am convinced to be comforted in one breath, but then, with the next inhale, His sovereignty makes it all even harder to understand.   

So I know only He can lift this curtain.  Not I.  Not now.  He is able.  In His time.  In His way.

And the waiting, too, feels like death.

I wrote the words shown above almost three years ago, but I didn't share them. Written while my family was walking in and out of shadows and struggling together to heal from a deeply personal wound. I was fighting with forgiveness in my own heart and watching my whole family, our oldest child in particular, lose faith not in God but in fellow believers. It was a brutal time, and I wouldn't step into one of those days again for anything.

I suppose it finally feels okay to share these thoughts at this point because, well, it's now a "then" a "was". But for every one of us that stands on the other side of the valley, someone else is just beginning to trudge through. It is a well worn but exhaustingly painful path, and it winds on for too long. If you are there right now, please, don't give up. Keep walking.

For our crew, time has now brought some closure, some healing. God has awakened me (again :||) to my own need for forgiveness and so also to my need to forgive. We are in a healthier and (though often still quite cautious) safer space by His grace. My oldest is more than okay now having seen God's faithfulness clearly through the journey. 

So I share these words and the ugly nature of my heart in those days to, perhaps, encourage you to "keep going" if you have been hurt, if you are hurting. Hang in there. Hold to Him even in all the raw and rancid ugliness. Eventually, you will notice yourself catch a deep breath of life and find your feet  steady, finally planted on the other side of the destruction.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

A Reach for Understanding

Here’s a hypothetical:

Let’s say I buy a new toaster. I bring it home, plug it in and load it with my favorite flavor of Eggos, but then the toaster suddenly explodes into a fireball and burns my whole kitchen to a crisp.

I bring in the insurance adjuster to assess the disaster area. I need this fixed fast, because, come on,  every family needs a place to prepare sustenance. After surveying the damage he concludes, “There’s no proof the toaster caused the fire. It may have been faulty wiring, and that isn’t covered by your policy. I’m afraid this one is on you. Sorry about your kitchen. Have a nice day.”

Fuming, I call my local Walmart where I bought the toaster. The lady I speak with chuckles a little bit when I tell her what happened, then she asks if I saved my receipt. Well, the receipt was lying on the counter next to the toaster, so it’s ashes. “Without a receipt you can’t prove the toaster came from our store, so I can’t help you. You can try speaking to our distributor if you want. Have a nice day.”

Fine then. “Hello, friendly toaster distributor. You brought this crap product into my Walmart, this broken machine that cooked my kitchen, so are you going to help me?” By now, I am livid and exhausted from the lack of accountability. “Well, ma’am, we just ship the product. We aren’t responsible for the behavior of the merchandise. Sorry, not our problem. You might want to call the corporate office. Have a nice day.”

&@%$#*@&#^ !!

Turns out CEOs are difficult to get on the line, but I manage to find the corporate phone number, and I try my darndest to talk to Mr. Bigshot at Bigshot Toaster Company. His secretary puts me on hold for an hour each time I call, then she tells me he can’t address my issue right now. See, he has more pressing matters to handle at the moment, she pragmatically explains. Day after day she puts me off (because my problem is not a priority) before she finally passes the buck and suggests, “Maybe you should just try our customer service center. Perhaps they will be able to help you. Have a nice day.”

I immediately hang up with secretary lady and dial their 1-800 number. Press 4 for customer service. Press 2 for product safety concerns. Press 0 if you want to speak with an associate. My fingers are literally shaking with fury and frustration. “Please wait.” Hold. Hold. Hold.

“Good afternoon, my name is Tiffany. How can I be of service to you today?”

Poor Tiffany.

By now my blood is boiling. She gets an angry earful about the money I wasted on their garbage product, about how I can’t cook my family’s food like a normal person because of HER crummy company, about their lack of concern for the safety of people like me and how absolutely no one will listen! By now, I’m threatening lawsuits and destructive media campaigns and angry boycotts!

I’m not mad at Tiffany personally, because I don’t even know her. But she’s in the line of fire right now because I’m mad at what she represents in the moment: a terrible company that firebombed my kitchen, the powers that be who refuse to accept responsibility and fix it. Tiffany may very well be a perfectly kind young lady who shows grace and respect to all her customers as she earns just over minimum wage to deal with these kinds of tirades. And yet, right or wrong, in this moment, she is the available recipient of my fiery rant.

How does Tiffany respond?

Let’s say that, in this moment, Tiffany decides to NOT explain away my problem or bite back or offer excuses, but instead she takes time to give me the grace I need (and I sure do need it). Then she fully listens to my story instead of just telling me to calm down. She listens until the whole despicable tale has been told. What if she sympathizes as best she is able and tells me she wants to do whatever she can to make it right?

And then what if she actually follows through?

What if Tiffany risks her job to quietly send an internal memo to other customer service reps to see if there is a pattern of kitchen-burning toaster explosions that has been kept off the records?

What if Tiffany’s old college roommate’s dad is actually the guy who designed the toaster, and she can get me on the phone with him to voice my complaints and to try to convince him to use his pull to correct the problem before more kitchens go up in smoke?

What if she does some digging and finds out her uncle’s best friend is on the board of directors at Bigshot Toaster Company, and she can speak to him directly, maybe even show up at a board meeting to share my story and possibly get me the help I need to get my kitchen back in order?

What if Tiffany doesn’t acquiesce to her own smallness inside the problem, but instead looks for some creative way to lend herself to the solution?

Now look, y’all, I know this is way too long, and I know we are talking about a hypothetical toaster and an imaginary charred kitchen. If this had actually happened, in the grand scheme of things, it would be a minor disruption on the spectrum of big life events. And yet I know I would still be very angry at the injustice of it all. VERY angry! About a toaster and a kitchen. Fighting angry!

So, then why on earth would we be confused about the anger bathing our society right now with regard to frighteningly real life-and-death issues and deeply rooted unjust practices? Why is our knee-jerk response to this anger to deflect, to ignore, to shirk responsibility?

(I know the above analogy is weak and overly simplistic, but I’m just trying to sort it out in my head. Forgive me if I'm still way off base.)

I want to better understand the anger, to really grasp it.

Hundreds of years of waiting on hold, voices going unheard, bucks being passed – that will certainly make a person angry. Disproportionate damage and destruction brought on by a flawed system – that should make a person angry.  Being dismissed again and again and again – that absolutely must make a person angry. Angry enough to shout and rail at anyone and everyone in earshot, whether those recipients are culpable or not.

So, at some point if I end up being the “Tiffany” who gets the earful because I happen to be the only one so far that has taken the time to listen, then, yes, God, grant me the grace to NOT explain it away, bite back or deflect. Help me to listen well and deeply, to react with soul-level sympathy, to get up and act alongside.

There is legitimate cause for the anger. It’s multi-faceted. It’s an anger of righteous amplitude, and sometimes I don’t think we fully recognize that.

And I know I have a role to play in fixing the problem. We all do.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Grieve and Consider


Consider Now

If I somehow unwittingly prop up the walls
which were once torn down
--scratch that—
which were ADVERTISED to have been torn down
I solidify the division
and I am a transgressor


If we, those who believe,
have indeed
have been executed on spiritual planes 
with the blessed Messiah
and claim to live now only as “He in me”
then surely we can see
a hateful knee on the neck of one crafted in His image 
is a blistering, smothering stain
and there’s no excuse 
this must be anathema

Let us slow and consider now

Dearest ones, every sly eye 
of unwarranted suspicion must be
if we are to see more clearly
oh, and we MUST come to see more clearly
lest we quietly pave the road to hell itself
blind as we are with our two natural-born eyes of evil

For this Jesus, our Messiah
who showed up here in skin of rich Middle Eastern shade, by the way,
charged one and all as dirty sinners in need of a good washing
there is none righteous
and, while on this earth, He surely looked nothing like me
and yet He loved me anyhow?
Loves me even now?
Yes, because He values what He has made
--ALL He has made--
and what He plans to re-make

So listen now

His Bride must be the genesis of the healing
creating oneness inside diversity 
one in Christ
one in love
one in pushing back the darkness 
one in the careful keeping of our brothers and sisters 
in Jesus’ holy name

Oh, beautiful Bride, act now

And let every hue, every size and velocity of fist
away at the wall which
isolates and kills
Keep at it! Until
New Jerusalem arrives from the sky to
finally and forever 
and grind to powder
that bitter barricade 
one faithful fistful of dirt at a time
for His glory and for our good

Sunday, May 24, 2020

On a Day of Memory

On a Day of Memory

Blessed are those who mourn
those charged an awful price
who grieve still and always
who are able to fully remember
and even now weep weary in that remembering

Careful are those who mourn
careful to balance ideologies --
the obligatory pride in nation
with the seething anger at the mechanism --
in order to keep their souls intact

Envied are those who mourn
envied by many guilt-laden survivors
who carry their own deliverance as a cross
who wish to impart to those grieving
the peace they themselves cannot seem to find

Carried are those who mourn
hoisted high as names on street signs and monuments
on prayers and quivering petitions
on the lips of their legacy
in the energy of a Creation that erects Ebenezers

In each morning of new mercies,
kept and cradled be all those who mourn