Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kardashians or Wenceslas? You choose.

A little more than one thousand years ago a good man chose to walk through snow covered hills at night to give alms to the poor so they, the less fortunate, could celebrate the Feast of Stephen, a holiday meal served the day after Christmas. The man's page ran behind him struggling to keep up in the near blizzard conditions. It is said that the page was only able to keep up by following in the exact footsteps of the determinedly generous, Wenceslas. The bit of knowledge, or history, known about Wenceslas is that he may have been brought to Christ by his mother who secretly believed in Jesus while surrounded by pagans and taught Wenceslas when he was young. Due to the righteous acts of Wenceslas, his household, his servants, and eventually many in Czechoslovakia were brought to Christ.

Nine hundred years later, in 1853, a carol was written to celebrate the generosity of this man. The true story became legend, and that legend lives on in most Christmas music collections. 

Good King Wenceslas was actually a duke. He was declared a king/martyr/saint several hundred years after his death by the Roman Catholic Church. Wenceslas goodness was a tipping point in the middle ages conceptualization of the righteous king (rex justus), which means that kings are righteous simply because they are king. According to legend, Wenceslas was murdered by a jealous brother positioning for power. Wenceslas remains are said to be interred at the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, and are sometimes available for view by the public.

If you are still reading, you may be wondering why I took the time to write a history lesson today, two days before we celebrate God incarnate. 

Men are remembered for many things. Some good. Some evil. 

In America, (and I will try to not sound completely snarky here) we celebrate men who can throw or catch a ball, and we celebrate and give magazine covers to young ladies who strip their clothes off while dancing with giant purple bears. We give our Sundays to football. We give our weekends to the box office. We give our attention to TMZ and whatever Brad and Angelina are doing for fun. We have a funny way of choosing what is important here in our culture. We celebrate and give attention to odd things. We celebrate the carnal and pay very little to the spiritual or eternal. 

In one thousand years, no one will care about the Kardashians. 

In one thousand years, when you and I are enjoying eternity, my hope is that no one remembers Beyonce. My hope is that those who remain are still singing about Good King Wenceslas, or telling stories about Mother Teresa, or going to worship the Christ on Christmas eve. 

Generosity has staying power.

Generosity is a momentary act that you may forget tomorrow, but has lasting impact on the world around you to change it for the good. There is no way of knowing how many peasants, pages, noblemen, were influenced by one man's acts one thousand years ago, but we do know that his life was so relevant to those people that he lives on in song today. If given the choice, I'd rather be remembered for being and doing good, not being popular. 

May we all choose to live in such a way to affect one thousand years in the future not just to gain attention in the present.
Do simple good things for those less fortunate. 
Be a Christian in deed more than word. 
Celebrate the good, pure, and Christlike.

"Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." -Matthew 19:21

"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:16

Friday, December 12, 2014

Advent: In a death match between Santa and the Easter Bunny...

Santa wins every time. In our westernized culture, we have two major religious holidays. One celebrating the birth of Christ and one celebrating the resurrection. I love both! I love Christmas decorations and lights. I also love Cadbury eggs with their delicious gooey egg colored filling! Some Christians may debate which holiday is more significant. I'm sure Easter wins that debate when you consider our entire faith is built upon a Man resurrecting Himself from the dead. Without the resurrection, there really is no reason to celebrate, is there? However, I'll quote my husband here as I think he makes a good point. "You can't have a death without a birth."

Christmas is so much easier to celebrate. Generally, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who will refuse a gift even if it is another pair of gym socks from grandma. Christmas music brings joy to most. Christmas lights decorate the world, and when we look into the eyes of baby Jesus in the nativity scene on the corner of First Baptist Church, we are not demanded to consider life change, necessarily. Sure, we may feel a bit guilty for skipping out on the toy drive, but do we really consider what that little baby calls us to do with our lives for the rest of the year?

For the American world at Christmas, baby Jesus remains a quaint story of a poor man's birth from a teenage girl and a man who considered abandoning his mysteriously pregnant fiance. Baby Jesus doesn't really rub anyone wrong. Baby Jesus is frail, meek, and mild, and if you ignore Him, He disappears into a mess of tinsel, ivy, and Bing Crosby. Santa wins the fight. Baby Jesus is simply an ornament on the tree.

The name Jesus at Christmas may not upset many in this American culture. The name Jesus at any other time of year makes the world a bit uncomfortable. I don't know if you're like me, but saying Jesus in the workplace is hard (third commandment aside). Throwing that name out there changes the air and dynamic immediately. Am I the only one who notices this? There is definitely something strange about speaking the name.

Adult Jesus demands a presence of mind.
Adult Jesus calls the world to repentance.
Adult Jesus reminds us of a higher standard of living.
Adult Jesus causes uncomfortable questions about death, the afterlife, and hell.
Adult Jesus brings on anger for those who don't want to submit.
Adult Jesus brings on guilt for those who don't want to change.

Speaking the name Jesus in some environments can get you fired, will cause you to lose friendships, can make relationships uncomfortable, can make families stop talking, and can bring your own life under scrutiny. In the political environment around the world, speaking Jesus into a conversation is inappropriate, even offensive. Who am I to bring up a particular standard of living, of faith? Everyone is OK with whatever they believe. Wrong. I'm here to tell you that if you buy into Christianity, you buy into a standard of living and a God who blatantly states that no one comes to God the Father except through Jesus (John 14:6). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. If you don't believe that, you are not on the same page with the Savior you claim to profess.

Baby Jesus is much easier. Santa wins.

Friends, if we claim to be Christians we cannot shy away from adult Jesus. I'm not calling you to stand on any corner and intentionally hurt your chances for the next promotion. I am calling us all to hear the conscience God gave us, to act on the Holy Spirit when He nudges us, and to boldly speak the name of Jesus into our world at work, in our family, and in our neighborhoods. We are the only chance the world has to hear about Him. No more excuses. No more avoiding discomfort. No more Christ denials, because that's what it really is when we refuse to bring Him into the conversation--denying Christ for the sake of our own comfort.

Yes, Jesus calls us to change.
Yes, Jesus brings on our guilt.
Own it.
Yes, Jesus saves us from our sin!
Wear it.
Admit to it!

Jesus came to save this world. He came so that your neighbor could have life, your boss could have life, and your family could have life.

Thank God He came to remove our sin from us! Speak the name. Share Him. If you don't, who will?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent: How He Came.

Through the labor cry of a teenage girl, this is how He came.
Tiny babe, red fingers curled, this is how He came.

In stillness of a lonely night, this is how He came.
Under only candlelight, this is how He came.

No throne, no royal story, this is how He came.
No nursemaid, no cradle, no earthly glory, this is how He came.

Angelic choir for shepherds' joy, this is how He came.
God Creator, fragile boy, this is how He came.

How He came!
How He came!

Let the whole earth see how He came!

History changer, heart transformer, this is how He came.
Dismissing wealth and political charmer, this is how He came.

Kings question his royalty, this is how He came?
Pharisees question His deity, this is how He came?

Wise men sought the Story, this IS how He came!
Faithful men see Him in glory, this is how He came.

Knight without armor, His word a sword, this is how He came.
Humble status but still The LORD, this is how He came.

Tiny Baby, Triumphant Savior, this is how He came.

How He came!
How He came!

Let the whole earth see how He came!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent: In our dirt.

You can tell a good teacher when you see them get down on the floor with their students and joyously mesh playtime and learning time. One of my dearest friends is a kindergarten teacher and from the first time I met her, I knew Jennifer belonged in a class room. She has this amazing ability to talk to children in a way they understand. Her playful spirit, contagious laugh, and abounding energy have a way of capturing the attention of room full of germ laden noise makers. Where she is right at home in a class room, you'll find me in the corner...hiding. She gets on their level immediately and opens their little eyes to all sorts of adventure... even if it is math. She is simply amazing.

I feel that teachers must be humble beings to go to no end to reach a child.  I've known, personally, teachers who take pay cuts and pay for school supplies out of their pockets for the sake of the students in their class rooms. My friends who work with disabled children clean up messes that some of us would never dream of touching. Actually, I feel quite humbled thinking about them and my cozy desk job.

God incarnate is probably one of the most difficult concepts for a skeptic to grasp. Before we even discuss the sacrifice of God's only Son, we must accept that The Almighty God intentionally chose to visit an inhospitable environment. More so, Creator God who knew His creation dropped Himself into a time period before public sanitation, refrigeration, and modern medicine.

Why? Why would a God who sits on a throne on high leave his station to join the slaves in the poorhouse? 

God in flesh is approachable. 
God in flesh is a walking visual aid. 
God in flesh is touchable and audible. 
God in flesh is a walking proof of eternity. 

God came in a form we could see and understand to get on our level, to educate us, and to reveal His wild unmatched love for us. He did not come to understand us. He came because he already did understand. Our Creator knew we needed a form we could touch. He knew that the sacrifice of animals hurt but not nearly enough. He came to silence any doubt of His love for His children. 

Phillips Brooks, preacher and lyricist of Oh Little Town of Bethlehem said this, "The incarnation is the supreme assertion that only through the highest medium, which is humanity, can the highest messages be given to mankind."

The Word became flesh and made his home among us. 
He walked in our mess and in our dirt.
Holy God was willing to leave glory to reach our hearts.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spirituality: Heaven is now.

You'll catch a glimpse of heaven now if you don't blink and look closely. There are a few sweet seconds of my life written on my heart that I call to memory during quiet moments when the house is empty and my morning coffee is warm in my hands.

I remember those first precious moments of our first baby's life. I remember looking across the room at her daddy holding her in his warm protective arms lying on the couch in our cramped hospital room. I remember the silence, the stillness, of that moment. The wait was over. She was here; all ten toes, all ten tiny fingers bundled in a blue and pink blanky. I knew then, this must be what the wait for heaven is. Through groaning and misery and wonder and fear, we wait. Then it sweetly arrives and joy overwhelms; a perfect moment of time; a goal reached, an end met. Anxiety is finally put to rest and fear will be no more.

"When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby she no longer remembers the anguish, for her joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you."  ~ John 16:21 

I can close my eyes and hear my best friends singing. I can feel the presence of their voices surrounding me. In my last year of college at the close of a choir concert, we stood in a circle and sang The Lord Bless You and Keep You. Have you ever stood in the middle of an accomplished choir surrounded by their strong voices? I wish this blessing for every person. There is simply nothing like it and the energy of the music is palpable. I close my eyes and feel the power of their voices wash right through me. I still hear them in that perfect moment of unity and well-wishes. There was heaven in that moment, and it is hard to hold back emotions as I hear their sweet song in my memory. Standing among my closest friends, holding hands, and knowing that moment would never be recreated allowed us to sing in an uninhibited way...until the day comes when we can sing together again.

"Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:17

After a difficult year of ministry, my family took our first big family vacation to Disney World. My husband and I had railed against the marketing genius of Disney for years for the overpriced shmooziness that Disney is. Having three kids, especially one who is a princess fanatic, changes a parent. We caved. Humbly I confess, we loved every second, but the memory that enchants me the most is the walk into the Magic Kingdom. As we strolled down the street toward the castle in that crowd of humanity, I looked at my family; at my sweet kids. Their little faces were all lit up with joy and huge smiles looking ahead at that beautiful castle. My boys started to run toward it, and my daughter grabbed my hand while my husband tightly held my other hand. I knew in that split second how wonderful it will be to see my family walking, no running, into glory. The smiles on that coming day won't compare to the run toward Mickey. The run toward Jesus will be so much more.

"...one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." ~ Phillipians 3:13
"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." ~ Phillippians 3: 20

I once knew a champion of Christ who lived a great adventure. On this continent and others, she was an evangelist, a loving minister's wife, a mother, a mentor, a prayerful grandmother, a friend, a bible teacher, and a sassy opinionated woman chasing after the Lord. She brought so many souls to Jesus because her life was a yellow brightly lit road sign pointing to the Christ. On the day I said goodbye to this sweet friend she was propped up on her couch looking at a photograph of her mother who was already celebrating with the Lord. I knew what she must be thinking, "See you soon, Mama.", while the rest of us standing around her were thinking "Absolutely not! How will we ever find someone else like you?" And, we won't. I am happy for my sweet friend. When she left this world, she left behind pain and weariness. Surrounded by her family and friends, her goodbye was a grand hello to her Savior; a picture of what I hope my goodbye looks like one day. Today she holds her mother's hand and sits at the feet of Jesus. I will see her again.

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." ~ Revelation 21:4

Heaven is around you. Soak in the sweet seconds and picture how much sweeter the years are to come. From the tender first moments when we first see glory,
to our blessed reunions,
to the end of all pain and sorrow,
to finally never having to never say good-bye again, I'm thankful for these little hints of what joys await.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Spirituality: Gripe Addiction.

Crystal meth users become so dependent upon the rush of their vise that they simply cannot stop use without extreme intervention. The addiction to crystal meth sets in so quickly that users almost immediately become tolerant and are forced to increase "dosage" to achieve the previous desired high.  Studies have shown that animals given meth will continue go to the drug repeatedly until it kills them. There are some drugs that are killers even in the first injection, sniff, or swallow. 

Spiritual addictions can be similar. Further, I'd say there are some spiritual diseases that are more contagious than the common cold.

Have you ever had a friend who could never say a nice word about anything or anyone? In every good gift and every happy day, THIS friend was sure to find the gloomy dark cloud. Rather, this friend was YOUR gloomy dark cloud. You may have found yourself laughing off her behavior at first and trying to cheer her up, but soon you started to notice the kernel of truth in some of what she was saying. Then you started to join in with the fault finding. Before long, you weren't laughing at your friend, you were joining in with the cynicism and criticisms solving the worlds problems together with righteous indignation!

I confess to you. I've been the critic, and I've been the friend sucked in by the critic. 

Gripe addiction is rampant in our culture. Watch any sitcom or listen to any news commentary, and you will hear it. You'll hear it in PTA meetings as parent's criticize teachers. You'll hear it in doctor's waiting rooms as eager patients complain about the wait time. You'll hear it in the check-out line in Walmart as customers complain about the slow checkers and question the checker's intelligence (True story. That one I heard last week.) Everyone seems to think they are experts in everything, and everyone is a critic. We laugh it off. We take it as a joke after all. That checker deserves my criticism! Go to college!

Beyond our culture, gripe addiction runs rampant in our churches. We hear a lovely sermon, sing lovely songs, head out to lunch and pick apart the minister, laugh about the boredom of bible class, accuse the elders of inaction, and throw the worship leader under the bus all while smiling and eating spaghetti. We are allowed to do that right? As long as we pray before the meal and bless everyone's heart, we can criticize the church family that work for us, right? Right?

When I first realized that I had a gripe addiction, it was when I noticed my children complaining all the time about everything. When your nine-year old becomes a self-proclaimed expert on how a math lesson should and should not be performed, there must be a problem. Does your nine year old already have a teaching certificate? Mine does not. 

Gripe addiction comes on slowly. You may be justified in your opinion. You may be right on target with you opinion. I'd even go as far to say that you should share that opinion...with the person who it concerns not the lunch table and not repeatedly to whomever will listen. 

One of the scariest verses in scripture is spoken by Jesus, "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:36-37.

Gripe addiction is a fun addiction. When we complain and gripe, it gives us a false sense of control and makes us feel superior. We like this feeling especially if we are right! It takes the focus off of our own inadequacy and insecurities and puts the spotlight on someone else's. Then, we begin to justify our own behaviors, our right to gripe. (You see, I know all this because I'm an expert.)

Typically, gripe addictions begin with rightness. They begin when something truly bad happens, and we are justified in our complaints. From my perspective, this happens in churches a lot. Typically, churches who go through rough times have a hard time pulling out of the valley and getting back to the mountain because so many become addicted to the complaining. I believe this is why churches experience rebound ministries or have ministries dry up entirely. Sometimes we get so accustomed to something being wrong we don't know how to behave when something goes right!

I am on a mission, and I hope you will join me. A year ago I left a habit of cynicism behind and little by little God has helped me let go of that snare (Though, it's still a struggle). Tonight, I hope you'll join me and wave good-bye to gripe addiction. If a Negative Nancy comes your way, acknowledge the complaint, direct her to whom she should share the complaint, and then share a blessing in your life with her. Finally...

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Parenting: Have you lied to your kids today?

The day I had to explain to my eleven year old daughter what sexual abuse was is permanently seared into my memory and hers. It was a cold spring day. The wind was whipping through our backyard and whistling through our windows. After our awkward conversation, she walked zombie style outside to our tennis ball covered trampoline. I watched her through the kitchen window trying to make sense of why she appeared blase' about a topic that was heart wrenching to share while staring into her big blue innocent eyes. She sat in the middle of the trampoline for a few minutes and stared into our neighbor's yard. I started to empty the dishwasher and silently began to question what I had shared with her. I prayed for her heart and mine. I prayed for, her friend, the victim. I hatefully wished death on the perpetrator.

We've always been open with our children about our faith struggles and our doubts. We've been open about the difficulties of working with churches and Christian people. Our biggest concern is lying to our children and wearing falsified smiles knowing full well the often heavy load of church work and past indiscretions of Christendom in general. We know that they will enter a world, sooner than we think, that forces doubt upon them, that forces atrocities upon them, that forces images of death and sex upon them. We want them to be ready.

I've questioned that day a thousand times. Should I have smiled and pretended everything was OK? Should I have left her in childhood delusions of happy families and good Christian people always doing good Christian things? Was my explanation appropriate for her age or did I say too much? Did I answer her questions with integrity or did I protect myself from embarrassment while trying to protect an ounce of her innocence?  Did I permanently ruin her trust in people? in men? in Christians?

I heard her yelling. When I looked up and out the window, I saw my daughter throwing tennis balls as hard as she could. She was screaming hateful words and asking God why. She was hurting for her friend. She was mad at God and mad at the world. So was I.

Since that day, we have healed, a little, together. We have prayed together. We have backtracked into anger together. We have questioned God together. We have gained an understanding that sin attacks all of us together. We have struggled through trust issues together. We have doubted the purpose of the church together. We have questioned forgiveness and practiced grace together. You see, I refuse to let her walk this journey of doubt, fear, and distrust alone.

Everyday when your kids hop on the bus or walk the halls at school they are bombarded with different world views. Teens walk hallways with pregnant classmates and friends who ritualistically cut their arms to rid themselves of the hurt that comes from neglect or abuse from a relative. Your kids have gay friends. They have atheist friends. They have friends who are thinking about suicide or who have attempted suicide. They have friends with the emotional depth of a puddle and friends who medicate for depression, ADD, and anxiety.

When we avoid having difficult conversations with our children, we deny them the right to process doubt and faith in a world that will surely force doubt upon them before they leave for college. When you avoid sharing with your child your own personal doubts, fears, and anxieties, you deny them the right to share with you their doubts, fears, and anxieties without feelings of brokenness. Imagine the loneliness of being the only one in the family with problems! I refuse to let my children believe they doubt and fear only because they are children...or, heaven forbid, only because they are weak.

Doubt is not sinful. Lying to your children is.

Today I encourage you to honestly reveal your faith, or lack there of, with your child. Allow them to work through their faith and doubt in a safe harbor. Trust them with what helps you to choose God everyday. Gift them with understanding, a non-judgmental listening ear, and the example of commitment to Christ and to the church even when the doubts come. Be humble enough to admit not having all the answers. Be vulnerable enough to confess your weaknesses. Don't for a second let them believe they doubt or fear alone. If not already, one day they will have doubts, give them the tools to find peace within doubts and battle through them together.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." ~ John 16:33

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Parenting: What they don't tell you.

Before I had children, I was absolutely certain of all the things I would and would not do.


Cloth diapers
Homemade baby food
Gentle words only
Militant Scheduling
Love every moment of the day

Would nots:

No Video Games
No McDonalds
No yelling
No dating

Before I had children, I knew in my heart that my children would always eat their vegetables, never say a naughty word, never disregard family rules, and, finally, always accept my words in blind understanding that I, as parent, have much to offer their limited scope. I would never raise my voice or say irrational hurtful things, after all, I am parent. I am educated, sophisticated, and above all, I've watched all these other folks fail miserably. Learn by example, right?

Fail. Big fat hairy fail.

For a few years, I've beaten myself up by my failure to achieve the perfect home and family life. I've seen the facebook posts of "perfect" families with their tidy Sunday dress and their clean faced children hugging them tightly in perfectly lit photos. This is clearly not me nor my children. Where did I go wrong? But wait...

Those digital illusions are not meant to give a clear representation of what is family, and I have figured out, as I hope you have too, that digital life is not what is really going around us. It is not for me, and, I bet, it is not for you.

In my house, there are days when my children eat cake for breakfast.
In my house, there are days when people yell, cry, and slam doors.
In my house, there are hurt feelings, sour faces, and painful words spoken.
In my house, children may dig through laundry to find a shirt.  There are unflushed toilets, fingerprints on everything, dishes needing to be washed, and the occasional injury made by a sibling. This is my family. I apologize for the accusation, and maybe you truly don't relate. But today, I assume this, sometimes, is your family, too.

What they don't tell you is though the all-night diaper changes and bottle feedings exhaust you, parenting goes far beyond those first sweet moments. As you struggle to maintain your plans for your children, a journey is beginning of which you cannot prepare.

Parenting is the endeavor to rip your heart out of your body and watch it make mistakes, watch it get hurt, watch it walk away from you all the while longing to pull it back into your chest and save your heart from the world. Parenting is pride-filled joy in your heart's successes with new dresses and touch downs and a 97 percent in algebra after an all-night cramfest/ complete emotional breakdown. Parenting is when you pour your life into a person who will eventually find meaning and love and fulfillment from someone with another name. Parenting is raising a child to become someone different from all your plans, all your dreams, and all your prayers, and yet, even in major disappointments and majors successes you would never change the heart that was once pulled from your chest. You love. In loss and in gain, you love. In hurt and in joy, you love.

Parenting can send your soul soaring above the clouds in pride and can slam you to the floor in an eye-gushing pleading prayer.

This is what you may never read in any "What to expect" book.

Plan your woulds and would nots with joy and anticipation, but never beat yourself up for walking away from the woulds and would nots to walk this journey with the rest of us who truly have no idea what we are doing. You will not be the first to give up on homemade baby food. You will not be the last to praise God for Pampers. There are bigger hills to climb ahead.

And when you reach those hills and deep valleys, I hope you call your mom or dad. I hope you say, "wow, guys, parenting is tough. Thank you for all you've done for me." If by chance you don't have a mom or dad to call, call another parent who has already walked this road. Chances are they will listen and hug you and remind you that you are not the first to wake up one day realizing that you have no clue what you are doing.

In this occupation of parent, it is perfectly acceptable to admit failure, to change plans, and to recognize our complete incompetence. Raising a human being is a difficult endeavor. What they don't tell you is that the most difficult roads are often the most life-changing. For better or worse, you will not learn everything about your child, but you will learn a lot about yourself.


Friday, September 5, 2014


I heard this on the radio yesterday and loved it. I'm sharing it now because...

As the mom of a teen, it is hard to see your kid be excluded or treated like an outcast. As a mom your heart breaks when your child's heart breaks. BUT- I would rather have an outcast who stands firm in Christ than a follower who seeks the approval of others over their Creator. Here's to the pure Christian kids wearing their latest bible camp t-shirt, the band geeks, orch dorks, colorful theater queens, and the math/science geniuses who may be tossed aside at school but are dearly loved by their God. Be you. God made you to be you in a world full of look-a-likes.

As a woman, I daily feel the pressure to be thinner, younger, more beautiful, more fashionable. Everywhere I look is the latest trend to buy, the latest diet craze, the latest hair/skin saver. Rarely do I see magazines focusing on the inner strong spirit of woman. We are sold out and exploited. When we don't look the part of pretty dumb girl, we are often over looked entirely. Smart girls are often labeled with bad words, by men and women alike, simply because they lead. We fall into the trap of judging each other because of not looking good enough. We freak out when men gawk at women because of their appearance, but guess what-- women also gawk at women judging their hair to their toenails. Be more than your outside, friends. Be real. Make sure your beauty comes from your heart for God. Stop working so hard on the outside. Work out the spirit.

As a ministers wife, I totally get this. I've said multiple times that I am not a good minister's wife, but for some reason this is who I am. I'm not the kind of girl to buy into being a people-pleaser. I have zero interest in playing a game, role or catering to power player manipulators. This alone makes being a minister's wife in America difficult. In my network of Ministers wives, I have friends who are judged if they don't dress nice enough one week- then judged because they dress too nicely the next. I have ministering friends who are judged because their car is too nice, and minister friends who are mocked for being eccentric if they drive a smart car. I have minister friends who have gay best friends and have been fired or black-balled for it. I have minister friends who get reprimanded for simply sharing the hard news of scripture. I've learned that the gospel is sometimes easier to share with non-Christians than it is with the church.

My guess is there are a few folks out there who may also relate to this song. Press on, my friends. God did not send us with a spirit of fear. God gives us a spirit of power (2 Timothy 1:7).  He made you. He loves you zits, bad hair days, and all. Be you. Rejoice in being an outcast.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

To our adolescent angel...

Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember you are only a day over twelve.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember that being a teen doesn't require you to act like a grown up, nor require you to stop cuddling with your stuffed Stitch doll.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember you are only a day over twelve.
You'll feel older.
People may expect more or less.
Be you anyway.
Be thirteen.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember that the reflection in the mirror is never what determines your worth. Never.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember that no friends,
no cute boys,
no judging eyes,
no tv show,
no youtube video,
no Hollywood starlet nor reality tv hottie determine your worth.
God does.
You are a beautiful and perfect reflection of Him. He gave everything for you already- just as you are.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember to be a child, only a day over twelve. God desires a child-like heart from us all. Bask in childhood. It is fleeting.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember to listen to the people around you. People who've lived longer have many rich stories to tell. Appreciate wisdom. Learn.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember you won't ever cease being our princess. You are a child of the only King.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember you are loved,
you are wanted,
you are needed,
but you are not the center of the universe. God is. Keep Him there.
Tomorrow when you turn 13, remember you are our baby.
When we look at you, we see a bundle of pink fluff and tiny gentle fingers.
We see an obstinate toddler refusing to hold our hands.
We see a pea hater.
We see a music lover.
We see a questioner of the status quo.
We see a justice seeker.
We see a faithful champion for Christ.
We see you, our baby, our thirteen year old.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.