Division, the Heart, the Mind

“Or else she stayed in and nursed a mood with which she was becoming too familiar for her own comfort and peace of mind. It was not despair; but it seemed to her as if life were passing by, leaving its promise broken and unfulfilled.”
― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“I’m not unhappy,” he said. “Only people with no purpose are unhappy. I’ve got a purpose.”
― Cassandra Clare, City of Bones

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”
― Winston S. Churchill

1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

My husband has been saying that I am mad at life.

He may be right.

I’m one of those people who internalize basically everything and who loose sleep at night trying to figure out and understand every minuscule function of the world and the people in it.

Lately, the things that keep me up at night really make me mad.

Life is really complicated. So. So. Complicated.

1 Corinthians 1:10 makes me mad.

I am a passionate person. There is a poem by David Jones which I used to use to describe my boy-child. Now I realize that the poem describes his mother too. It goes:

“It is both a blessing

And a curse

To feel everything

So very deeply.”

Yep. That’s me. I am fire and ice. Hot or cold. One, or the other. I have no in-between. And I’ve not yet figured out a way to be Switzerland.

If I’m one thing, you know it. And while I realize this is a flaw in my personal character, it is still an area I have been unable to improve myself in.

Some say I wear my heart on my sleeve.

Personally, I think I wear my heart on my face.

I remember taking a Facebook quiz many years ago…there was a question, which I cannot remember, however I clearly remember my response.

When I form an opinion, it takes me a very long time to do so. But when I form it, I am all in or all out.

I remember several of my friends commenting on this specific answer, leading me to understand that not everyone really takes the time to think about their own opinions.

For me, my opinions are not just a part of who I am. They quite literally are who I am. My opinions are informed and comprised of those things which I know and believe, my schemas and scripts and worldview, which are in fact who I am.

How will a person know who they are if they do not know what they believe?

And yet, while I understand that my schemas are likely to differ from others, because they are my own, and develop uniquely because of my experience, temperament, and personality, I struggle with how this fits in to the larger picture.

On an intellectual level, I admit that not everyone needs to nor should hold the same opinions as myself. But on a deeper spiritual level, life gets complicated quickly.

Because who you believe God is will influence who you seek to become in Him, how you live your life, the choices you make, the things that you do and say, and ultimately what you believe about yourself and the world.

The older I get, the more I realize that not everyone actually believes the same thing about God. And this fact has implications that enormously affect every single day of our lives here on earth.

And I’m not okay with this!

Admittedly, my own feelings regarding this matter war against myself. While I hold true to the fact that God granted us all free-will, which in turn suggests that we all have the freedom to choose freely in our lives, I cannot comprehend how God ever expected Christians to all be on the same page about things when he granted us said free-will.

I’ve always had a motto that goes something like this: Christians are the worst of people.

Mostly to remind myself that I have the potential for sin the same as everyone else.

But lately, I can’t even begin to understand or reason within my finite mind just how crappy we are.

Of course, I am no theologian. And I don’t pretend to be. Additionally, by adding my thoughts to this discussion specifically focused on Christians I admit that I am contributing myself to being a crappy Christian. The worst of people. Although, I will say that this composition is solely for my own soul, rather than others. I share them publicly because there are some people who like my thoughts, and also so that one day my children can read them.

So there it is. I’ve laid it all out. I’m not okay. I’m mad at life. I’m mad because I am a Christian and not everyone agrees with me. I am mad because the fact of this realization is that free-will makes life hard. Christians don’t agree with each other. And this is a problem for me. And probably for everyone else in the world.

We are literally the worst of people.

We tear each other down. We criticize each other. We judge each other openly, and then again behind closed doors. We fight with each other. We publicly call each other out. We call each other out on the internet. We disagree. We believe different things. We are not, for lack of better words, on the same page. At. All.

One of my friends, in response to an issue close to my heart, expressed appreciation for open conversation, and reminded me that at the root of the topic is a heart issue. But what makes my heart better than someone else’s? And if we as Christian’s are not of one heart, what does this say about us? How can we possible believe in the same God if this God is different in the heart of each of us?

I am all for friendly discussion.

But where do we draw the line? When does open dialogue become toxic disparagement?

For me, this is one of those “what would Jesus do” situations.

Again, I am no theologian.

I honestly don’t think that Jesus would have Facebook, were he walking the earth today.

When I think about how Jesus spoke truth in the face of darkness, he did it in a relational way. He did it face to face.

I recently finished both of Bob Goff’s books. Life changers, right there. The central message that I took away from these reads is that people don’t want your opinions, but they do want their love, no strings attached, and this sends a bigger message about Jesus than anything else.

Again, from an intellectual standpoint, I agree with this 100%. I just haven’t quite figured out how to love people without any strings – aka me and my big opinions – attached.

But the first step for me, was that I left Facebook and all it’s Christian drama behind. Who has time for that anyways?

I think that there is a time and a place for open discussion, but that is among friends, and should take place face to face.

We aren’t doing anyone any good by debating our distentions on Facebook people. If you have an opinion and want to share it, find a friend. If you don’t like the way another Christian is living or what they are saying, remember to examine your own log before you call out their speck.

I still don’t claim to understand exactly how 1 Corinthians 1:10 is possible. I really haven’t the slightest idea. And this still makes me really mad. I’d really just like everyone to agree with me – pride and selfishness openly acknowledged here. We are the worst of people. We are the worst enemy of our brothers and sisters, the enemy within.

So while I might be unhappy, it will only last a moment in the timeline of my life.

Because I’ve got a purpose.

I’ll just be over here trying to follow my own advice. And figuring out a way to love people the way Bob Goff describes…just like Jesus.

 

 

 

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A Love Note: For My Prince Charming

Image result for forest love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”
― Plato

“I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion.”
— Charlotte Brontë , Jane Eyre

I’ve been married for almost a third of my life.

I remember what it was like all those years ago…when everyone tells you not no marry young. But the vanity of youth encourages naught but to defy the world in which you find yourself.

Nine years ago.

It seems like a lifetime. But isn’t that what I always wanted? Always wanted, but never dreamed I would ever come close to? A lifetime in love. A lifetime with you.

Looking back to that girl I used to be…I almost don’t recognize her.

Because our marriage is just as much about my adventure to find myself, as it is about my adventure of being in love with you.

I thought I knew who I was back then. But now I realize that I was only starting to know. I was a shell of myself; filled to the brim with self-doubt, fear, and lack of confidence. I was wary and cynical, constantly my own biggest skeptic. So filled with anxiety that there was no room left for joy. I thought I knew what life was about: the point of life was to just get through the day, to be married, and have children, to find happiness in this, and just keep on living.

That’s what I thought life with you would be like.

And that was the life that I wanted with you.

You were my rock. You were the confidence that I do not possess. You were the surety in my world filled with fear. You were my champion – saving me, providing for me, loving me despite my lack of belief in myself. You were the calm in my storm.

I never thought that anyone would love me. I never thought that I was beautiful. I never thought that I would actually find someone who would want to marry me. After-all, I am not the most ordinary person. I had been that way for quite some time… I’d rather spend my time reading stories than talking with actual real people. I’d rather be outdoors, breathing in the fresh air, than taking even a few moments to apply makeup and arrange my hair. I’d rather inhale the smell of carburetors in the late summer night than do whatever it was that other girls were doing (I don’t actually even know what other girls spent their nights doing…but it certainly wasn’t breathing fumes from fast cars). When I tried to wear nice clothes, it usually just didn’t work – I have no fashion sense at all. But when you’d rather be reading than shopping at the mall, it was easier to just give up and wear t-shirts all the time.

My books never seemed to care anyways.

Some things just aren’t meant to be.

And I never thought that I was meant to be married.

Not to someone like you at least.

My Prince Charming.

I was so young. So sure of myself. Yet so unsure. It is amazing how things change. How people change. How I have changed. Yet I would be crazy not to admit that the person I am today may not have ended up with the person that you were then. We are so different. Shaped and formed like stones along the river. Now I understand why they say not to marry young – because when you find yourself, you may not like who you find yourself with. But the sententious reality is this: I wouldn’t be who I am today without you.

So my story is not one of finding myself and being filled with regret.

I stand again to defy what society expects.

My story is one of finding myself and finding myself still completely and wholly in love with you.

My Prince Charming.

The one who made me.

I find my life so completely entwined with yours. And that, quite frankly, is a very, very good thing.

You who talked to me when I was content to be a wallflower, who (probably quite literally at times) removed the book from in front of my face…and saw me. The one who noticed.

The one who noticed me.

Utter lack of fashion and all.

You, who put up with my rambling discussions of all things nerdy…who enjoyed the smell of engines on a warm summer night with me.

I married you then. And I’d marry you now.

You, who were my confidence for me. Who was strong when I was not. I thought I knew what my life with you would be like. But it is really unlike anything that I ever imagined. Our dreams began to grow together, and they have changed like the clouds that shift in the sky…and we have continued reaching for them all the years through.

Once, I was content with that life I thought I knew. And you were content to let me  have that life. But life has that funny way of dragging you along on adventures you never wanted to have.

Or at least it feels like you are being dragged sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like you have dragged me on some of those adventures. And I mean that in the most lovingly way possible. I don’t know when you really started making me. Maybe it has always been that way. But looking back now, I see all the ways and the times that you encouraged me to be so much more. Never judging. But gently pushing, telling me to try. Telling me to just do it. Listening to all my fears, but telling me to do it anyway. Throughout the years you have challenged me, encouraged me, pushed me, and loved me through it all.

I said I’d never go back to school. But somehow, in your quiet way, you helped me to do it. You told me it would be alright. You knew, even when I did not, that I was meant to earn my degree. And apparently to keep earning them.

You knew, even when I didn’t trust myself, that I was meant to pursue a career. I thought I knew who I was, I thought I’d only ever stay home with my kids. I never believed that I would have worth outside of this. But whatever you saw in me, that I didn’t even see in myself, you challenged me to recognize my worth and potential in what has turned out to be a very fulfilling career.

I thought I knew that I would be a fabulous parent. Turns out…teaching may be my thing, but parenting really doesn’t come naturally to me at all. But that doesn’t matter to you. You love me regardless of my flaws and weaknesses. All the while telling me, knowing for me, that I can be so much more.

You have pushed me to be involved. To face life head on, and unafraid. To try, and fail, and try again.

And know that it’s okay.

I’d say that you hold me when I cry. But you know that I prefer to cry alone.

And I love you for that too.

So here I am. Where once was a shell of a person stands a being wholly made. I do not doubt. I know who I am. I am brave. I am strong. I may be small, but I make up for it with a passion and intensity that rivals the sun. I have known fear. But fear doesn’t frighten me anymore. Fear challenges me. Fear pushes me, and teaches me. Where once I lacked confidence….there is no lacking now. I wear the clothes, the clothes don’t wear me. And it doesn’t matter what I am wearing; I know that I am beautiful nonetheless. I can do this. I can do this. I can handle life. Now I am my own biggest fan (well maybe my second biggest fan, I think you will always be my #1 biggest fan). I do not hide in the shadows of cynicism and skepticism anymore. This is my life. Our life. Whatever will come, will come. Those shadows do nothing but slowly drink the life from you. I will not spend my life in the shadows. Maybe before….but never again.

So here I am.

The life with you that I always wanted.

Whole. Sure. Complete.

A lifetime.

A person changed. But only because of you.

My equal. The other side of my coin. My balance. My lover and friend.

When God made me, He made you too. And He knew that I would be yours forever.

And I know that while you will always help me to grow, and change and be more…I know even still that no matter what or where or when you will love me…love all of me…no matter what.

And I will love you too.

So thank you, Babe.

Thank you for seeing me, and loving me, and making me yours.

Here’s to a lifetime of you and I.

Always.

 

The Triumph Song of Life

“God is the greatest thing that exists, ever has existed or ever will…for us to glory in anything else, would be sin, as there is nothing greater than God, there is no calling greater than praising God.”
― John Piper

“The chief purpose of life, for any of us, is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Two weeks ago yesterday, I almost lost my sister and my unborn niece.

It’s really strange how one moment life is just happening all around you…and in the next it just stops. And stands still. And you’re left waiting for answers, but not really knowing if you really want the answer after all.

I was on my way home from work, had just picked up my children and our new kitten and was headed home when I got the call.

There wasn’t much detail…because no one really knew anything. But knowing what we did, we all knew it was not good. I don’t know all of the details exactly, but I knew enough to understand that my sisters life, and her baby’s were in danger. And time was on no one’s side.

An ambulance picked up my sister and her husband from the side of the road. A police officer drove the ambulance to the nearest hospital because all of the paramedics were needed to attend to my sister. She was loosing blood, and loosing it fast. At 5:02 PM she arrived at the hospital. At 5:16 PM my niece was born via emergency c-section.

The doctors told us that if the ambulance had arrived four minutes later…it would have been too late for both my sister and my niece.

According to the doctors my sister sustained a loss of over 50% of her blood. She received several blood transfusions. My niece had some difficulty breathing and was treated accordingly. At first, it looked like her needs may be too many for the hospital she was at, but steadily she improved and has been growing and improving by leaps and bounds. The doctors told my sister that women who loose so much blood are not usually able to produce milk. But my sister did, and was able to nurse her baby almost right away, although my niece has remained on a feeding tube for several weeks because she is so little she doesn’t wake up to eat on her own. I guess that’s what happens when you’re born seven weeks early.

I went to work the next day. I’m not one to sit around and wait for news.

That day I called my pastor to give him an update, as I had asked my church to pray for my sister from the moment we first heard she was taken by ambulance.

I explained that all I could think of was…”four minutes”.

Four minutes and two lives had been lost.

If they hadn’t already been on their way from the hospital for a check-up, they may have been four minutes more away from help.

What if there had not been police officer to drive?

What if the ambulance hadn’t arrived so quickly?

Four minutes…

Sometimes I struggle to understand the purpose of His will. I feel so small in the midst of this world and wonder…what is His intent in all of this? What was His point in all of this?

Four minutes…

He didn’t have to step in and intervene. But He did. So there must be a reason, right?

My pastor encouraged me not to try too hard to understand the will of God. For no man exists who can.

Four minutes.

Two lives.

Awe.

It took me a couple days for the miracle of what had happened to sink in. I almost lost my sister, and my niece along with her. It’s a lot to take in. And still I struggled…why God, did You choose to intervene. You didn’t have to, and yet You did.

But as often they do, my thoughts have led me no where. And so I arrived at the conclusion that sometimes God works in marvelous, un-explainable, miraculous ways simply because He can.

And maybe that IS the point after all.

He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

And perhaps sometimes He simply wants us to revel in the incomprehensible beauty of His power.

So this Christmas, that is what I will do.

I will fall in awe of His boundless love and power. He is a mighty God. A God who is strong enough to save; both our physical bodies and our heavenly souls.

Because sometimes, He only asks us to praise Him.

So join me this Christmas, as joyful I sing His triumph song of life.

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee
God of glory, lord of love
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee
Opening to the sun above
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness
Drive the dark of doubt away
Giver of immortal gladness
Fill us with the light of day

All thy work with joy surround thee
Earth and heavenreflect thy rays
Stars and angels sing around thee
Center of unbroken praise
Field and forest, vale and mountain
Chanting bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in thee

Mortals, join the mighty chorus
Which the morning stars began
Father love is reignning o’er us
Brother love binds man to man
Ever singing, march we onward
Victors in the midst we strife
Joyful music leads us sunward
In the triumph song of life
In the triumph song of life

 

 

When my fear is confronted by grace…

Love GOD first More at http://ibibleverses.christianpost.com/:

Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will. James Stephens


Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me— Psalm 49:5

The righteous will see and fear;

    they will laugh at you, saying,“Here now is the man

    who did not make God his stronghold

but trusted in his great wealth

    and grew strong by destroying others!” – Psalm 52 6-7

 

I just can’t get this whole idea of fear out of my head lately. With the revived debate regarding refugees that has infiltrated life once again the topic is ever more on my mind.

Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

My latest literary obsession, C.S. Lewis once said “You cannot know, only believe – or not.”

What truth!

And yet, there is fear again…surrounding the borders of my heart and mind, laying it siege and slowly, slowly choking the life out of me. Sucking the hope from my limbs, and the love from my heart.

I’ve been horrified following this debate amongst people I know…amongst Christians and family members that I know specifically. Their words, generally typed in absurd amounts of capital letters (when did shouting become a thing in the written English language?) just sound so desperately fearful. Jihad this and jihad that and Muslim this and Muslim that…and in the blink of an eye people are lost amongst the labels that others have chosen for them

Yet, I am no different. When I wake up every morning I have to will myself out of bed and out the door and in to work on what I so often refer to as “the trenches”. And every day I am met with the thought that I don’t make enough money, and I won’t be able to pay my bills, and what if I crash on my way to work, or I forget a student in the bathroom, or this or that or the other thing.

And when it comes to refugees, I am afraid too. When I first think of  refugees, I think – holy crap, they want to kill us. There is no way we let them live, never mind come here! what if they murder me in my sleep? What if they murder my children? Take me job? Inflate the economy? The list goes on and on.

Yes, my mind is also filled with fear, just like you, who so viciously argue against allowing refugees from here, there, or everywhere in to our great country.

But that is where the similarity ends.

Yes, my mind is filled with fear. I see the danger. I see the potential for harm.

And I don’t care.

I don’t care because that is what God has called me…no, not just me. That is what God has called any person who has been saved by grace to do.

There is no way to sugar-coat this foundational truth.

Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God. Ecclesiastes 5:7. This is who I fear. I fear that if I allow my human instincts to overwhelm my heart, I will not be living in the fear of the Lord but will be living in the fear of man. And that same fear for Him who created me and you  (and Muslims by the way) calls me to love others. To love very.single.human.being. Even if I don’t want to. Even if it’s card. Even if it’s scary. Even if it means I could die in the process.

So yes, I fear. But I know my life is so much more than sitting in my comfortable little home…so I swallow that fear and carry on.

But so much more than that, I try to understand. So much of the hatred and fear that I see my fellow Christians and family members is simply a lack of understanding. A limited worldview, and a failure to educate themselves.

Marie Curie said ““Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” Which is really so perfect for the point that I am trying now to make.

Don’t just belief the things that your father, or sister, or pastor, or favorite conservative radio host, or politician tell you to believe. Really take the time to educate yourself about the facts of other people groups.

Again, here I think that it is fear that holds people back. Fear of the unknown. Fear of challenges themselves and having to change their beliefs and views. Because after all, the familiar is comfortable. I am so thankful for my very public-college education that required me to take two courses on culture and religion. I studied the history and culture of Africa for one semester (which is a rant for another day), and one semester studying Asia and The Middle East.

This was the best thing that I have ever done in my life when it comes to learning about others.

It confronted so many of the stereotypes that I unknowingly held for these people groups ( I refuse to label them). It combated so many of the groundless fears that my mind used to create prejudice and hate. And it opened my eyes and enabled me to see that these people too are just caught in the struggles and trials of everyday life, born into a system that tries to define them. Lost in the rush of this world, yet longing for so much more than their inherited religion can offer them.

So now, when I fear, I remember all I have learned. And then I put myself in the shoes of those refugees. I fight back against the fear-led desire to dehumanize them…and slowly their blurred faces come clearly into view. I imagine them taking up residence is some temporary housing next to my quiet little house, on a scenic little cul-de-sac in small town New England. There they are, heads wrapped in their traditional dress, skin much darker than mine, words so different than mine…living there next to me with their children who bear the physical scars of their life experiences and the mental burden of all that they have seen. Cooking their food, same as I do…cleaning their emergency tent, same as I clean my home, sleeping as I do, waking as I do, breathing as I do…holding their precious little babes same as I do. And they are afraid.

I imagine myself at first being afraid and wary…probably locking all of my doors and windows and making my children sleep in my bedroom with me…after all you just never know. The next day I’d make my husband conceal all of the hand-guns that we own and we would bring them cinnamon rolls or some other traditional American “welcome to the neighborhood” greeting – cuz that’s what my mother taught me to do when you have new neighbors. Of course, we probably wouldn’t understand each other, but in my experience with English Language Learners, sometimes a smile and a kind gesture is all you need. And besides, love has no words.

And slowly life continues, little by little every day, learning to trust, continuing in love. And while this little dream of mine will never likely be realized, and could likely also include my house blowing up in the middle of the night, well, somehow it doesn’t make a difference.

Because I’d rather confront my fears and live in love than remain in my safe little comfort zone.

Not just because I want to be a super-cool person, not because it is easy to do so. But because when I received grace through the death of Jesus on the cross, that’s what He called me to do.

And now, when I think of the complacency of so many Christians that I know and am surrounded by and their scathing remarks regarding the current plight of so many individuals throughout the world it literally makes my blood boil. My heart stops for a moment because the rage inside of me is just too much to handle.

But then another feeling emerges, and I honestly feel so bad for these friends and family members who possess such a limited worldview and who cannot even realize that their lives and attitudes are ruled by fear of man instead of fear of God. Whose attitudes towards their fellow man are wholly void of love and understanding. And my heart breaks for them, that they are so engrossed by fear and so immature in their spiritual walk that they fail to realize the perspective of another.

And I beg God to challenge my faith. So that I never arrive at that place of complacency. Whatever I do, whether I live or die…all the while knowing that in death me, my husband, and my sweet little babes will have achieved the final victory. And though death may separate us for a moment, eternity awaits us. And the words “well done, my good and faithful servant” are worth more than any comfort here on this earth.

And so Kreade and Ellie, I pray that God challenges your faith. I pray that you do not remain complacent in your faith, but challenge yourselves and always seek to gain an understanding of the world and the people around you. I pray that above all, you do not fear man, but fear God instead, and allow this fear to cause you to love all those around you…just as God loves you – without regard for self, wholly and passionately, not matter the cost.

 

 

“What do you fear, lady?” Aragorn asked.

“A cage,” Éowyn said. “To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

 

Perfection & Professional Burnout

“Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.”
― Immanuel Kant

“The true perfection of man lies not in what man has, but in what man is.”
― Oscar Wilde

I had a very successful day at work on Monday. After two years of partnering with the family of one of my students, we finally got him to receive the services that he needs. Speech, integrated pre-k placement, the whole nine-yards. I was so happy. So relieved. And so excited that this little boy who, crazy as he is I totally love, will finally be given the chance that he needs to be successful in life. It was definitely a professional high. We fought long and hard for this to happen.

And then today rolls around. Even though the sun was shining as I drove in to work…I felt so burdened. This has been a really rough year. We had a training last week on Secondary Trauma. That pretty much sums up my school-year. So exhausted by the problems of everyone else, and so frustrated that there is only so much that I can do to help.

No matter how hard I try…it’s never enough.

And what about all those people out there? The ones who have suffered domestic violence. The children who are challenged by developmental delays and parents who possess limited skills and knowledge too.

We had a parent express her desire to become a lobotomist. From the bottom of her sweet, sincere heart she meant phlebotomist.

And I just feel so heartbroken for her. She has just beautiful dreams, but only time will tell if she possesses the ability to actually see them fulfilled. Though I doubt that they ever will. I guess we can’t all be rocket-scientists. And some of us can’t all be phlembotomists either. To each his own. And we all possess varying degrees of skills and abilities.

As I drove to work, I found myself wondering about the brokenness and lack of perfection in this world. It really is just not fair when you think about it. My heart started spontaneously communicating with The God Who Sees Me…me as I’m driving to work, surrounded by my own problems and worries. And I started asking why some have nothing and others have everything. Why I have hope while others have none. Why my dreams might come true, but theirs will not. Why God? Why can’t You just perfect the life of everyone around me?

And the truth always has a way of just staring you right in your face.

I already have.

I have already made a way. I am already making a place. And sometime soon, I will come and perfection will be once more.

Those truths that you have heard over and over again suddenly come flooding back to you. And it all starts to make sense. There will come a day. 

Maybe it’s not so much about attaining perfection here in this world. And maybe it is more about preparing to live in perfection in the world to come.

Maybe it’s not about helping others achieve a sense of perfection here and now, as it is about showing them the way to perfection that will last forever.

Still, there is only so much that I can do. I can’t force people to believe. But I certainly will alter the way that I pray.

Instead of praying that they will succeed in this world, I will also pray that their hearts will be willing to believe and that they will know the eternal perfection that only He can provide.

And I really hope to see the faces of these sweet people and their children that I work for alongside me in heaven someday soon.

For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

Ellie and Kreade, I want you always to remember that you can only do so much on this earth. Your heart has to do the rest. I pray that your hearts too will grow in faith so that you also will be perfected through His love. And as you learn to understand this, know too that you can only do so much for those around you. Their hearts have to do the rest also. So pray. Pray that they will know Him. So that one day we will be surrounded by the lives that we have touched during our imperfect life here on earth as we stand in awe of the One who has perfected eternity for us.

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

Adventure All The Way

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I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in. -Roger Clemens

With self-discipline most anything is possible. -Theodore Roosevelt

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

Oh my dear little Ellie girl. Only you are not so little anymore. Four years old now, and getting bigger and smarter every day!

In January we celebrated your Four-Years-Of-Amazing-Life on this earth.

In true Ellie fashion you planned an amazing birthday party that was anything but that which a stereotypical girl would want – Miles From Tomorrowland, space theme. We had planets and stars on the table. Planets and space-age shapes hanging from the ceiling. A rocket ship, pin the feathers on Merc, and Cosmic Cocoa. We had outerspace treats – Laserangs, Saturn’s Rings, Rocket Fuel…you get the picture.

And you were so happy. So very happy in your black leggings, bright orange Converse, and little boys size 5 Miles From Tomorrowland t-shirt.With braided pig-tails of course. And all your little friends running around with you.

I love how much you love space. Maybe you have the mind of a dreamer, just like your mama. You see the potential in people and things, and dream of all that can be. Adventure and excitement call your name.

As the song goes…Never could I go too far
Never could I fly too high
It’s all inside of me
Living out the dream
With my family

Adventure all the way
New places every day
Oh yeah, we’re going to zip
Gonna take a trip
In a rocket ship

We’re counting down
The engines on
The time is now to rocket!
Rocket!
Rocket!
Rocket!

Woa oh, I’m a hero to the core
And I’m going to explore
Way out!
Woa oh, No where ever is too far
I’m shooting through the stars
Way out!

Yes. Maybe you will be a dreamer too. Maybe your heart will long for adventure and excitement, for challenges and the sheer joy that follows with success. I see your beautiful little mind working even now, trying to figure out what life is, what your purpose in life is, and what to expect from life, what you can do in life.

“Why do you go to work, mommy?” Because that is what God has called me to do.

“Why does daddy go to work?” Because that is what God has called him to do.

“What is my job then?” Your job is to play and have fun. And to go to school and be kind and show God’s love to the kids there.

Your little wheels are turning, and even so young I see you yearning to know why. What? What am I here for? What do I do? What do I expect? 

But that’s the adventure my dear. You never know what to expect.

Life is the greatest adventure of them all.

And even I don’t know what life holds for you.

But never doubt, dearest, that you can go on that adventure. It is truly all inside of you – and you never can fly too high. You are a hero to the core – and you’re shooting to the stars.

So go explore. Go on some blastastic adventures. Live, and love, and fly, and dream. Because dreamers see where they want to go in life, and do everything they can to get there.

Always hold on to your dreams.

And no matter where your adventures take you, always know that you are never alone. For the One who has placed those dreams in your heart, and designed those adventures for you to experience, who sees you and loves you and knows you…will be there with you through it all.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:11

Superheros and Villains: In Which I Consider Good vs. Evil and How To Explain It To A Four-Year-Old

“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

While watching the Bruins game with Klayton the other night a commercial for the new ‘Batman vs. Superman’ came on. 

Really? Come on.

I just find this whole notion completely ridiculous.

Superman is a hero. A super-hero. Literally, the definition of a superhero is ‘a very heroic person’. It implies all of the things that we secretly wish we could be – brave, strong, amazing, possessing supernatural powers, full of never-ending goodness, and a life-long devotion to protect the weak.

Superman can’t be evil.

He is a superhero. He is good.

This is like saying that a red car is blue, and continuing to insist that it is blue when it is really red.

I will never willingly watch this movie. The whole notion is absurd.

But I haven’t been able to get this whole topic of good and evil out of my head.

Good and evil surround us every day.

The other day in Hannaford’s we had the unfortunate experience of not getting one of the three Race Car shopping carts that both fit and entertain Ellie and Kreade. So, Kreade ended up riding solo in the ‘old fashioned’ shopping cart while Ellie had to tag along beside me. Ellie is a very cautious child, and she almost always follows the rules to a perfect T. She helped me fill the cart with bananas, lettuce, carrots, rice, and all of the other things that we needed. What a helpful little dear. But as we were nearing the end of one aisle and preparing to move on the the next she ran ahead of me, out of the aisle, and into the great unknown beyond the reach of my hand.

I had a moment of panic.

Yes, we live in a small town. But you just never know. 

You never know if the other people in the grocery store are truly good, or truly evil. And while you certainly hope and pray that they are all truly good, you really just never know…there could always be that one who is truly evil.

Good and evil surround us every day.

With Ellie now holding on the the shopping cart, and my mind racing all I can think is: how do you explain to a four year old that not everyone in the world is good?

Parenting is hard. It is really very hard. You never think about all of these conversations that you will have to have with your children when you are holding their sweet, tiny bodies in the hospital.

You are responsible for your child’s perception of the world around them. You are responsible for the way that they view people. Their mind is yours, and the stories that you write in it will be with them forever.

Of course, you could simply just avoid these conversations with the age-old “I told you so.” Why can’t I run three aisles down from you?” “Because I told you so.”

But they never really understand.

And as my college professor always said  “they’re short, not stupid”. They will know that you aren’t being honest with them.

We have the opportunity to take these moments up, and not let them pass us by. We have the opportunity to teach our children, and begin to shape and form their hearts.

Yes, parenting is the greatest adventure of them all.

The greatest and the most difficult.

But what do you say?

What a difficult balance between instilling a sense of caution without causing fear. So I do my best to explain to my four year old darling that not everyone in the world has her best interest at heart. Not everyone can be trusted – and some people might even hurt you. So it is very important to stay with mommy so that she can make sure you are safe.

Kids don’t need to be lied to. They need to understand. And the lesson of good and evil begins when they are young – though I wish it didn’t have to be so at all.

But I don’t want to leave her with the caution only. I also want her to be confident. Most people are good. Most people can be trusted. You can smile at people. You can say “hello”. And so much of teaching children to distinguish between good and evil is to talk about things constantly. Teach them to identify good – acts of kindness, reaching out to the shy kid at preschool, staying with mommy in the grocery store. If they know what good is, they won’t have to wonder what evil is.

Give them the confidence to know what good is, and then to go out into the world and BE good.

Because good and evil are everywhere. We cannot escape the darkness that tries to surround. The fear sits there, like eyes peering at you out of the shadows. And your heart begins to ache with the burden of protecting your children from this. From anything that could take the form of evil.

And you fear.

How do you really teach your baby that the world is full of anything less than good?

Because it’s not. And this is our reality.

So, my dear Ellie and Kreade, I want you to know that this world is full of evil. It is full of things that can harm you. Full of people who are anything but good. It is full of heartbreak and heartache and pain. It is a world that is broken, angry, and selfish. And evil is almost everywhere you turn.

I want you to know that evil is there.

But in knowing this, don’t let fear fill your heart.

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Because as long as evil exists in this world, good exists too. You can’t have one without the other.

So, my beautiful babies, I want you to go out into the world and BE good.

This is what God calls us to do in the face of evil. Not to fear. Not to hide. Not to be swallowed up in wishing that evil does not exist.

Overcome evil with good.

Fight for truth and justice.

Though I wish I could always be there to protect you, an imposibility this remains. But God is. Trust your heart.

And always know that I love you more than anything.

And yet He loves you so much more.

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

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