The Champion of a Cause

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I may come to regret it later. I may have to go back and delete this but I think I’m going to try to blog a lot right now. I might change my mind tomorrow and this disclaimer will be obsolete. I’m not totally sure why I feel the compulsion to put it all out here but I’m just going to go with it and ya’ll can watch me fail publicly if that’s what happens.

I have come to believe that one of the things that killed my friend was that she was the champion of too many causes. Too many other things got married into the one cause we were all drawn to her for- the crazy, lavish, sufficient, radical love of God. How many of us drug ourselves up her front steps, or opened our front door to find here standing there in crazy bright colors, usually with some gift in her hand, and tenderness in her brown eyes and it didn’t matter what crazy thing we spewed out into her lap she just brought us back to the loving sufficiency of God. And we were comforted.

How wrong then? How wrong is it that after talking so many of us down off the edge, after visiting us in the psychiatric unit, after completely diffusing the fear that we were too far gone with her radical acceptance and undaunted gaze she quietly slipped off, and succumbed to lies. She silently imploded and took her life and left us.

And in so doing she made herself the champion of one last cause.

I imagine for some time depression (mental illness, spiritual warfare, anything else it might be dubbed as depending on what circles you run in) will be a running theme here. I’m couldn’t write this blog honestly and not talk about it. And while her death likely thrust many of us into a jarring examination of “how could this happen” this will not ultimately be the cause I choose to champion.

My purpose in life isn’t to fight depression. It isn’t to deliver people from it’s grasp. It’s not to expose its intricacies and plunge it’s depths. It’s not to debate the appropriate method of treating it or rally everyone to the cause of awareness. I’m going to talk about depression because it is the battlefield on which I intend to see my champion, Jesus Christ, most glorious in victory. I am going to talk about it because I intend to feel the Love of my Heavenly Father most acutely in this place of deepest pain and experience His Holy Spirit most fully in my greatest weakness. Some of you will relate to that battlefield. Some of you have a very different place that Jesus will have to prove your Champion.

But through all of this I intend, ultimately, to be a champion of one cause… one message.

God is love. Jesus is glorious. His Spirit is present always and available to anyone who wants it and that is enough for us. No matter what. His love is enough for us. It can fill any need. Heal any wound. Calm any fear. Steady any storm. It can feed you when you are hungry and quench your ceaseless thirst. He accepts us, radically, fully, purely. He cleanses us completely. He considers us intently. It’s okay. He is for you. The world is dark and twisted. He his not. He can handle your rage and your rebellion. He is bigger than it all and so very patient.

I wish that the truth of this statement meant that I didn’t have an uphill battle to fight. I wish it meant that I was going to feel better everyday for the rest of my life. I wish I wouldn’t ever lose sight of this truth. But I will and it will hurt. Manna may be the divine provision of God but you have to gather everyday. You can’t grab it once. You have to keep going out and admitting your hunger and partaking in His goodness. I fear the entrance to our tent is sometimes barred with many enemies who oppose and distract us from gathering the good manna of His love each day. But he promised that ultimately NOTHING can separate us from his love. This something I have not yet mastered the application of. Too many days I feel separated from His love despite the fact that He tells me it’s not true.

Still, I believe it is true. He loves me and that is enough. No matter what.

 

p.s. I’m not going to edit these very much so please bear… bare… (hmmm?…) with my egregious typos. I’ll send my editor (husband) in to fix them later. 

 

A War

black-and-white-person-woman-girlMy friend died in a war.

I don’t know how to put it all down here. In fact, I have no intention of putting it all down here. But somehow I felt the need to put some verbage out there. Something… why? I’m not really writing about her. I’m writing about myself. Despite my refusal at so many twists and turns I have to acknowlege that somehow her story is inexstricably linked to mine. More like tangled or fused to mine.

Her war is now my war.

At the end of the day it was the lies that killed her. There were factors for her. There are factors for me. Biological factors. Social factors. Spiritual factors. But those aren’t what kill you. They are just places for the lies to get in.

I often think I would have been a woman who snuck out onto the battle field with the men. I would have charged. But this is not a war where the lines are neatly drawn. Where the sides are neatly labled and the banners flying high. It’s more like Vietnam. It’s hard to tell friend from enemy. I’m not talking about people. I’m talking about thoughts. It’s really hard to tell which thoughts will protect you and which one’s will stab you in the back the first chance they get.

Sometimes I think I’ve had so much time learning from her death that I’ve still never grieved it. Three years to the day. A blink and an eternity. But I’m still sifting through the ashes. The fallout.

I don’t believe that its a crap shoot. Sometime when we talk about depression as a disease it makes it sound like it’s cancer. Maybe you’ll get better. Maybe you won’t. I believe depression is a real thing. A real factor. Even a physical factor but I don’t believe that we’re left to chance. Like I’m left to chance. Maybe I’ll make it. Maybe I won’t. No that’s not a complete picture of what’s going on here.

The fact is there’s a war in my head. It’s the most complicated, icky, boggy mess I’ve ever encountered. At time I struggle to recognize friend from enemy. It’s one of the reasons I’ve determined to keep people around me and trust them when I just want to pull back and stick to what I can see. It’s hard to admit that sometimes my perception is terribly off. And it’s hard to trust others. But I don’t think I’ll ever win this war if I fight alone.

I don’t know where you are today. This is a selfish blog I know it. I didn’t write it to invoke sympathetic responses or to declare some holy resolution I’ve attained (But love is not a victory march. It’s a cold and it’s a broken halleluiah.) The resolution I feel is still a very fragile seed. I’m writing because I hope someone who doesn’t know me will read this. Someone who isn’t part of my life and trying to read through the lines to know what’s “actually” going on with me. Someone who is struggling with severe depression and despair… and I am screaming at the top of my lungs. REACH OUT!!!!!! Get other people in your head. Get them out on the battle field. Confess every morbid awful fear and thought you have. Let them sit beside you and sift it. Get a counsellor, get a pastor, get 70 year old person whose been through some stuff and still stayed soft and talk to them and listen. Oh, and get a doctor. A really good doctor. Get my doctor. She’s amazing.

The hardest thing is to trust someone else. Not being able to trust your own thoughts is perhaps the most scary and vulnerable place I’ve ever been and admitting that I’m there (even too myself) feels like dying. It feels like I can never come back from that reality. That if I can’t trust my thoughts now I’ll never be able to trust them and then I’ll never be at peace within myself. That can’t be true! We’re not at peace within ourselves now! We’re at war and if we are alone we are losing! Don’t fight alone.

Find people. Find God. Adopt a pet! Seriously, do anything other than nothing. The lies will kill you.

No more casualties of war.

A Picture’s Worth….

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Photographer: Karolina Grabowska.STAFFAGE

My life is crazy. Lately I’ve tried to slow down and capture it a little bit. Not just the shots that look good because that’s sort of like false advertising (no Pinterest perfect here my friends). Also, I’m a terrible photographer so not going for the “good shots” took a lot of pressure off. In the future I may add or modify it to keep telling the story. Some of it’s beautiful. Some of it’s ordinary. Some of it’s hilarious. It’s all life.

*If you actually click on the pictures in the album there are small descriptions at the bottom that (in my personal opinion) make the experience a little richer.

Life in Pictures

Much “To-do” About Nothing

Writing a bukket list“Okay, that is it! I have done nothing but work my hind-parts off all morning so I sat down to check off the items I’ve finished on today’s to-do list. Do you know how many of those items I had accomplished in seven hours (Yes by noon-thirty I’ve already put in almost seven hours #momlife)?…”

Two.

So I’ve made a decision. I am no longer using a to-do list unless it includes a standard itemization of all the things I already do. For instance…

  • Wiped someone’s bottom
  • Fed people
  • Combed Hair
  • Trimmed Nail
  • Answered ten questions
  • Answered ten more questions
  • Answered ten questions at the same time
  • Swept the floor
  • Quoted scripture
  • Corrected errant thinking
  • Had positive conflict
  • Encouraged someone
  • Repeated the same sentence consecutively three times in a row
  • Divvied out chores
  • Still answering questions
  • Started a load of laundry
  • Avoid foot-death by picking up a stray Lego
  • Changed a diaper
  • Immediately changed another diaper because the baby pooped in the clean one
  • Bandaged or otherwise soothed an injury
  • Wiped something down because it was so scary it could no longer be ignored
  • Devised a scheme to entertain a small child
  • Pondered the meaning of life
  • Took time to apologize for a mistake I made
  • Picked up and held the aforementioned small child because my scheme was only moderately entertaining
  • Settled a dispute with grace and wisdom
  • Encouraged my child in their identity
  • Got interrupted
  • Stopped to teach my child how to properly interrupt and made them try again
  • Lost my phone
  • Found my phone
  • Told my children to stay off my phone
  • Hugged someone
  • Kept the toddler from doing major damage to their body and/or our property
  • Put on music to clean to
  • Shut off music because someone was calling
  • Feigned interest in a joke that stopped being funny when I was eight
  • Exhibited patience in the face of nearly insurmountable frustration
  • Kept everyone alive and unabducted (not a word I know)
  • Prayed

So…

Until the to-do list starts with at least these items… it doesn’t count anymore. Nope. INVALID! This is like the base list of any to-do for me. And now I’m really happy because I’ve got no less then thirty check marks on my to-do list today and that makes me A BOSS!

I’m Killing It!

Father, give anyone reading this the perspective to see the big picture and not just the narrow slice we like to focus on. Help them to know you and experience you in Spirit and in Truth today. Help us remember that there’s so much more going on then we can ever put on a list and to be humble and present enough to embrace that. Thank you Father, for your ridiculous mercy and grace through Jesus Christ. I surrender to you today. Be glorified in my broken life. Amen.

***Photographer: Glenn Carstens-Peters via Pexels.com

 

The Greatest Mother I Ever Knew

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I wonder if she knew when she died what truly made her a great mother. Her name was tied to a lot of noble causes; large families, homeschooling, adoption but none of these were why, as a young mother, I hung on every word she said. See, she had five children before I had one (that nearly doubled to nine a short time later). But it wasn’t just her experience or even that unparalleled behavior of her children that really got me. I believe what made her the greatest mother I had ever met was that she saw her children.

Not only that, but she saw them in light of God.

She had a radar for each child no matter how different one was from the next. She could see their identity, she could see their pain and she would constantly cut right through the behavior to the heart. The more a child would act out in an area the more assertive she was that they were created for the exact opposite. I watched her do this over, and over, and over again.

Adoption sharpened her skills. Adopted children come with a special set of challenges that “begotten” children do not. This reality propelled her deeper into the Gospel and into the character of God. I watched her unravel the strangest behaviors with sometimes nothing more than eye contact. The truth was she threw herself into being a mom. She fought for her children. Fought to keep herself out of the turbulent surface waters and get to those deeper, stronger undercurrents. She was relentless and unabashed in her confidence that love would always have the final word and that God was bigger. She also refused to conform to other’s idea of normal when she knew it wasn’t in her child’s best interest. She was brave.

I’ve thought of her a lot this week. I am so grateful I had her influence early on in my journey as a mother. I dearly miss her example which taught me that this mom thing is not about all the stuff we make it about. Maybe that is why today was not a typical Mother’s Day for me. I did a lot of stuff you’re not supposed to do like cooking, cleaning, etc. I did it because I understood the needs of my family and because it brought me joy. It was a slight shift in my normal attitude which could largely be viewed as “I should get the day off”. But that seemed to be missing the point. Today isn’t a day to take a day off. You should do that when your stressed, tired or just want to.

Today was a day to celebrate what it is to be a mother.

So after I did what was needed I took one on one time with each of my children (I’m up to five now, like she was when I met her). I took time to look in their eyes and embrace their uniqueness. I did something different with each and received something different from each. I reminded myself that mothering isn’t so much a sacrifice as it is an investment and that a good ninety percent of what we associate with being a mother isn’t being a mother at all. Because you can hire maids, cooks, chauffeurs, nurses, teachers; but you can’t hire someone to look into the God-given soul of a little person and lay down their life to defend His purposes for them.

That takes a Mother.

Our Children and the Firstfruits of the Gospel

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Okay, so my house has been full of much needed conflict lately. My children’s hearts and habits have been overtaken by weeds while our family experienced some hard months. Understandable but not healthy so… time to do some weeding. But yesterday as I sat on my back porch and actually slowed myself down enough to worship ( in Spirit and in Truth) I felt a call to higher ground in my approach of all this.

A little backstory:

Since last fall there has been an internal war in me. It is the war to break out of the culturally acceptable, deception ridden, unfruitful expression of Christian faith in which I’ve been raised. In short- I’ve been trying to actually measure my spiritual maturity by my obedience to Jesus instead of my ability to amass spiritual truths and talk about them. You know, actually preaching the gospel, making disciples, exhibiting peace, love and joy in my life- yeah, that stuff. It was in this context that my good pal Jesus started to speak to me through the Holy Spirit.

Don’t you think your children ought to be receiving the first fruits of this gospel you’re trying to preach? Ouch. Continue… Why do you discount the one’s who’ve professed to follow me as if they are not “real” disciples? Yeah. Still stings… You want to reflect my love into the darkness of this world; that includes your little one’s. Are they getting a taste of My Presence by being around you? Drop the mic.

I love my Father so much. Only He can say these things in a way that left me feeling empowered instead of discouraged. It completely helped me refocus my energy. My life isn’t supposed to be a series of checked boxes. It’s not about managing all the needs (and there are many). I want good character. I want to be obeying Jesus through the truth of my actions. I want to be a faithful steward of the home, life and relationships He’s given me. But that’s not the end game! We are created for worship. We are created to dwell with Him in a way that reflects light into the darkest of places.

Our children are part of that! In fact they are the front line of that. They are growing up in an angry and confused world. They have needs. They have souls. They need encounter with Jesus just like the rest of us. Are we bringing it to them? Or are we so lost in our responsibilities that we’ve forgotten how to carry ourselves in a way that make our children (and our neighbors) jealous for the Gospel. Do we show the magnificence of being known by God and knowing Him in return?

I’m going to keep on with the conflict in my house. It is a Holy War I am fighting for their hearts. But man, by the Grace of God, I am going to keep falling on this word. Asking myself, Am I carrying myself in a way that my children can start to get an inkling about the nature of God. Can they see light reflected in my posture or did I get lost in checking boxes today? You know, my kids get the first fruits of all my weaknesses (that’s just life as a parent). Shouldn’t they also get the to eat the first fruits of this great gospel of Grace I’ve received?

That’s what I’m going for today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Brought Me Worship

pexels-photo-14548It was the hardest month of my life. There was so much pain and so many perils. My marriage was under siege. My sanity was under siege. My faith was under siege and I was losing strength for the battle.

 

In the process of everything a birthday got missed and so a few weeks late we tried to throw together something to honor our son. She accommodated the last minutes plans and brought her crew the hour long drive to our house.

 

It wasn’t exactly a pinterest party. We were unorganized, had forgot to fill out the liability forms for the trampoline park and I was up to my elbows in homemade meatballs in marinara because for some reason I thought that was a good idea.   

 

She ignored the tension, browned the meatballs, gently redirected me when I started spewing venom and then helped me put the whole mess away. All while her sweet daughter entertained the little ones downstairs.

 

Then, she looked at me and said “I brought you a gift.” She pulled a simple stack of white computer paper from her bag. “We’re going to worship.”

 

She sat down at my slightly off-key piano and 45 minutes later we were still singing. I had barely had the strength to lift my eyes most days let alone lift my voice. But she was like a plow. Like a lead dog breaking trail through thick snow so that I could follow. She helped me find my voice.

 

I sat, and sang. We sang together. Sisters, finding strength at the Father’s feet. She brought me worship. It was perhaps the thing I needed most.