Archive | June 2014

When Healing is Painful

peanuts

I’m thinking Charles Schulz must have spent some time observing churches for inspiration, because this seems to be the approach of so many.  And, to be honest, the thought of leaving crossed our mind.

And crossed our mind…

And came up in conversation again.

But here’s the thing about God and the way He moves…

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He’s a healer.  Something beautiful will always come from the mess.  But the thing is, sometimes it has to seem worse to us before it can get better.  As chemo makes the patient feel worse before the cancer is healed, so does pruning for the Church.

And sometimes, God heals things in ways that we don’t necessarily like.  It can come in the leaving of friends, the resignation of beloved leaders, or the ending of programs we grew up in.  Hearts may get heavier before the day of rejoicing is experienced.

I would love to tell you that our place we call church is there.  That all of the drama and hurt feelings have ended, we’ve hugged it out, prayed it up, and moved forward together unified and healthy, but that just wouldn’t be true.

 

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I know one thing for sure though.  The heart of the Father is redemption.  He doesn’t want to leave us in our mess forever.  He wants to take all of our brokenness and mold it into something that points to His glory.

I’m not so secretly hoping that it’s just around the corner, but I have to be okay with Him working in His timing.  And I have to be okay with the fact that Jesus died for drama-stirrers and that forgiveness can be theirs too.

I’m not there yet.

But I know that if I’m going to be, then I have to move forward in humility and love and try to be a grace-pourer.  And for me, that means closing my mouth (even though I’m typically pretty chatty) and choosing silence (even though I don’t like the quiet) on the subject for a while so that Jesus and I can work out my place in this journey to healing for this place that we call church…

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This Place We Call Church (Part 2)

My husband does grace and forgiveness a whole lot better than I do.  I like to be able to figure the person out, get them to correct the behavior, and us all move forward with a hug and a prayer together.  And even when we’ve done all of that, I still don’t typically believe that a leopard can change its spots.  That’s why God is God and I am not.  Aren’t you thankful?  😉

My husband can forgive you and trust that you’re choosing to try to change.  I’m learning a lot about grace through him.  He tends to see the good in people and I question their motive.

You see, I grew up in church.  In a church that was known for its good programs, amazing youth group, and sat on the corner of the town I claim to call home.  I came through when all of my Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders were incredibly gifted teacher.  And, even still, I’ve been deeply hurt by that same church twice now.  So, I’ve seen the good and the bad.  I know that church can be different than what we’ve been seeing as a result of all of these letters going out.

In the midst of my wrestling, my husband was already moving towards forgiveness.

“What do you think?”  He asks me as he holds this up:

forgiven

“I think it’s a really bold but quiet way to respond.  I like it.”

“I just want her to know that I don’t accept her words.”

“I just want to walk up to her and say ‘that’s not how we do church here’.”

 

And days later, I continued to wrestle.  Lying in bed, trying to decide my place in the midst of it all.

 

I want to ask her ‘what’s the matter’.  Have we failed her?  Is something wrong with her?  Like, is she a broken part of the body right now?  If so, don’t we owe it to her to help in the mending?

What are you up to, Lord?  I know this isn’t what you want for Your church, so when is it going to stop?  How do you move forward as a unified body working towards healing and forgiveness? 

I know none of this surprises you and that you want to do something really cool in spite of our ridiculousness.  Help me to not get in the way with my mouth.

And, can I just go shake her for a minute?

 

 

“Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed.  For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”  (Habakkuk 1:5)

This Place We Call Church (Part 1)

My phone was blowing up with text messages and phone calls.  My friends were mad and they were hurt.  By fellow church members even.  Whether we got copies of the letter at our homes or not, we were hurting for our friends and our church.  I heard things like:

“Now it’s personal.  You’ve done messed with the wrong woman’s husband.”

“What are we going to do?  I don’t know if I can keep doing church like this.”

“I don’t understand.  How do you call yourself a Christian and then behave like that?”

 

Two men from our Sunday School class, that we count as friends, had each received letters dripping with hatred from a lady in our church who apparently did not like how a meeting she was part of the night before had gone.  Neither of these two men had even said much in the meeting, but she sure was holding them personally responsible.  My husband was there and heard nothing from this lady.

A couple of days later, my husband received his own copy of the same letter.  With the exception to the greeting, all three of them got the exact same letter.

My heart was heavy.  What was going on within this place we call church?

stain glass

 

It was keeping us restless and wondering how to respond to this sort of thing.  Because it’s wrong.  It’s wrong to treat people that way, whether you like them or not.  It’s wrong because Jesus said, “they’ll know you are my disciples if you have love for one another”.  And nothing about this sort of personal attack on people screams love.

 

shouting

A night or two later, I read the blog of a college friend of mine that told of his journey through the ending of his marriage and how his wife had been unfaithful.  I don’t know how you deal with that, but he said he finally sent her a message one day that said he forgave her.

And I wrestled…

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Any my husband wrestled…

 steeple

And I wondered if I could ever forgive this woman and the attacks she had been making towards our church staff and now church members.  And I found myself lying in bed wondering why God forgives any of us and I couldn’t answer that.  But I know that He does.  And I know that this isn’t what He meant for Church to look like.  And I wondered what He was up to at this place we call church…

Know The Whole Story

When I was in elementary school, I called a boy in my class pathetic.  I blame part of that on watching too much Ren and Stimpy with my cousin when we probably should have just been sleeping instead.  I blame the other part on my inability to filter well.  I didn’t even know what pathetic meant.  I just knew that he wasn’t like the other boys in our class.  About the only thing he could do well was run and he seemed to do that alone.

To this day, I think about that boy and how I called him pathetic.  I didn’t know the whole story.  I had no idea that he actually had a learning disability and couldn’t help the fact he didn’t read as well as the rest of us.  I didn’t know the whole story but what I did with what I thought I knew– got me in trouble and hurt someone else deeply.

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I guess that boy told my teacher because she made me look up the word and read its definition out loud.  She then made me apologize to the boy in front of the whole class for calling him pathetic.  Lesson learned. 

 

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“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

“We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

 

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Eve eventually gets talked into eating from the tree and Adam goes right into disobeying with her.  (Totally Adam’s fault. 😉  (Please know the sarcasm.)  The bottom line is, they ran with something they really knew nothing about and it caused pain and strife.  They didn’t know the whole story.

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I’m guessing that you’re as guilty as I am in not always slowing down to be sure you know the whole story before you talk.  Imagine the pain that could just go away if we’d stop causing strife on each other in ways that we can fix.

So, I dare you.  (Means you have to do it now, right? 😉   I dare you to hold back on all of the sharing until you know that you know…. You know the whole story.

When Did She Become Five?!?

“Good Morning!  Happy Day Before Your Birthday Party Day!”

She grins and laughs at me then comes running to our bed and those big, blue eyes sparkle with excitement.

“Are you so super excited that we’re having your party tomorrow?”

“Yes ma’am.  Can I take my fairies with me?”

“Probably, but ask me tomorrow.”

“Probably means maybe yes.”

“Yes it does.  Hey, are you wearing your pajamas to Mimi’s this morning?”

“Can I?”

“Sure.  Crawl up here.  Let me see if you’re really almost five.”

She crawls into bed with me while her Daddy showers and we snuggle for a bit.  She is such a cuddler and usually I am too, but today we both are feeling especially cuddly.  We chat about her party and what her cake might look like and who said they were coming and I’m keenly aware of how grown she seems today.

 

Katherine and cookies

She’s five years old!  Where did the time even go?  It seems like just yesterday we were taking her to the beach for her three year old birthday, and now we’re talking about Kindergarten and new schools.

Katherine pre k diploma - Copy
I may not be the one who gave birth to her, but she’s mine.  She’s wired just like me, right on down to stomping through the house and slamming doors when she doesn’t get the answer she wants.  She is the best shoe shopping buddy and loves for everything to be where it’s supposed to be at the end of the day.  Her favorite color has migrated to pink and she likes to wear sundresses more than I do (and I love a good sundress).  She has a fettish for sandals and flip-flops, loves ice cream whether it’s hot or cold outside, and doesn’t like to ride in the car without music.  “Please play a song I know, Moma”.  She’s my favorite Target shopping buddy, brownie batter eater, and costume wearing princess.  My little Puffalump and while we can each drive the other one crazy… I do love being her Moma!   007

 

If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would marry the fair-skinned, blonde boy that comes with a kid—I would have all but laughed at you.  But today, I can barely remember life without them.  I am honored to be in this crazy, little family of ours…

 

three knelt down   00_1772~2_2

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And the LORD Has Granted Me What I Asked of Him

The story of Hannah in the Bible is one of my favorites.  All Hannah wanted to be was a mom and it just was not happening.”  I identify with that.  “Mom” is all I’ve ever wanted to be when I grow up.  She prayed and prayed and prayed some more to be a mom. And finally, the Lord honors that.  In fact, we hear that straight from the heart of Hannah, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.”

In the six months that Will and I were engaged, I found myself constantly answering the question “are you ready to be a wife AND a mom?  Because either of them on their own are huge changes and you’re about to take on both”.  I was always so confused by this question.  Of course I was ready.  I’d been the mom in our almost family for longer than we’d even dated.

On the day I said, “I do” to my husband, I became the mom of an almost five year old.  I never had the nine months before becoming a mom to prepare (or at least pretend to prepare) for her to be here.

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Now, I’m not so sure that I was ready.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m very bad at this.  This thing they call parenting.  This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  And lately, I’m struggling to not mourn the loss of it never being just me and my husband.  I never realized that you could miss something you never had.

They were right.  Just when you think you have it figured out and you’re feeling like you’re on top of this whole mom thing—something shifts and you know nothing.  And nothing is heaps more than I feel like I have these days.  It all feels like one big, giant fight and at the end of the day—I’m pretty sure I lost and she didn’t win.

The Lord gave me exactly what I prayed for and I chose this life and I wouldn’t trade it.  And on my good days, when I’m giving great mom advice and holding my crying kid… I feel very much on top of this mothering thing.   But on my not so good days, I’m pretty sure I’m ruining her…

 

 

“You venture out into an ocean of vulnerability with only a small dinghy and two short oars to keep you afloat when you become a parent. It’s brave because we do it scared, tired,unqualified, and often ill-equipped. We mother on.” (Lisa-Jo Baker)

“It’s a beautiful thing, watching one of God’s creatures doing what He made it to do. Ya’ll spend so much time beating yourselves up.  I doubt the good Lord made a mistake giving your kiddos the mom he did.”  (Bones, Mom’s Night Out)

Homecoming

I’m curled up in my corner of the couch and, just for kicks, I logged into my old blog account.  Jan. 3, it says.  It’s been over five months since I sat down and opened up my world to folks who wanted to sit down and be let in.  That’s a really long time when I consider that I used to post every single day and twice on a really good day.  I then looked to see when the last time someone visited my blog was.  It was just this week.  I don’t understand it, but I’m humbled by it and I’m pretty sure it was just God’s way of saying that it is okay to go back to blogging.

To be honest, I may have been looking for reasons not to blog over the past few months.  January to March I brushed it off and said that I needed to focus on getting married.  Most of March, I was sure that I wasn’t blogging because I was adjusting to being married and now I’m starting to admit that I’ve probably been avoiding it.

My world has been chopped full of all kinds of wrestling and I’ve been jotting a lot of it down.  I guess I’m just searching for a way to share it because a lot of it is messy and may not end on a happy note.  And I really like happy endings.  I also know that a lot of what I will probably post is undoubtedly going to make some folks mad even though that isn’t my intent. 

So, if you’re still reading this, I ask that you pray that I’ll lay pride aside and take fingers to keyboard again.  And if you think about it, pray that I be found grace-full and that those reading it will pour grace back as I struggle to return home to this thing called blogging…