Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankful + Broken = Real Life and Real Grace.


I look at my hands, covered in flour, the Avett Brothers playing in the back ground, and a small single tear slides down my cheek. I miss her. My grandma. She made the best pies. I’ve been feeling heavy hearted all day, remembering her. A minor cuss word slipped past my lips as I chatted on the phone with my mom today.  She told me I sounded like Gran. I look at my hands, starting to show the signs of age and I remember her own thin, elegant fingers as they are reflected in mine.  She is in so many places of my home and my heart and it seems her presence, or rather her absence,  is most palpable during the holidays for me. 

Everyone is putting on brave faces, posting thankful lists, mustering jolliness for the season, but my brokenness still streaks through the careful cracks in my soul that I try so hard to mask. I think of all the people I miss. All the ones that should be here, but they aren’t. Not just my Granny, but my dad, my uncles, Mark & Gus.; my cousin Daniel; Norse’s grandparents, Art & Lila, Marge & John. I think of the sweet friends who are mourning children who aren’t at the kids’ table this year, Jaron & Kimble, Keira, Hannah.  The list could go on. These losses have forever marred our hearts and broken us in ways that we will never recover fully.

In a season that pressures us to feel only thankful, it’s okay to be solemn. In our thankfulness, there can also be sorrow. While the memories we have remain, for that I am so very thankful, there is also hurt . I can’t remember anymore what my Dad’s voice sounded like or his laugh and I miss it.  While the pain of the grief fades, so does the crispness of the memories. Until something as silly as a Budweiser in a beer coozie reminds you of them and you smile. Sometimes in the thankfulness, there is brokenness. 

The tension remains. It will always remain, no matter the season. The tension of gratitude and joy intermixed with heartache and lament. For those of you navigating this season, in the depths of that tension, you have permission to feel. Keep your tender-heart. The world needs it now more than ever. Feel free to cry and fight to laugh. Smile at everyone you see and care for your soul when your smile has gotten lost.

For though I sometimes lose myself in the grief, it is this grief that has taught me to feel so deeply and love so fiercely.  For it is this constant heartache that I have that bears witness to how well those I’ve lost have loved me. For this, I will ever be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.   
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Friday, November 11, 2016

Post Election Thoughts from a Christian Misfit

I’m not here to debate who was a better candidate, Trump or Hillary. Frankly, the results of this election have only confirmed how terrible the general public thinks they both are. This is not a challenge to the results of the election. That is over and done. This is merely my way of trying to process through my disillusionment with the marriage of church and state and my grief for the way evangelicalism has morphed into something that doesn’t represent me and many others. I’m not even sure this type of evangelicalism represents the gospel any longer.

It is being said that 81% of white evangelical voters, voted for Trump. I was not part of that 81%. Frankly, I am flabbergasted and saddened. I am confused. I’m not confused as to why they didn’t vote for Hillary. That isn’t why I am writing this. I didn’t vote for her either.

I AM confused by the fact that so many evangelicals shrugged off Trumps moral failings and instead endorsed him.

I have asked Trump voters, these past few days, for answers to a few questions, and I have tried to not offer any sort of rebuttal. I was not interested in a debate; it was merely an exercise for me to gain empathy, understanding, and to hone my listening skills. It’s something James (1:19) keeps reminding me of every time I read these words, “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

Most people I know that voted for Trump are kind. They are generous. They love their families. They are respectful. They are hardworking. They love Jesus. I would like to make broad generalizations about them, but that isn’t fair.

So here I sit, so confused and a little jaded that all these people that I love and respect have weighed the issues and voted for Trump anyway. I hear their reasons - the nomination of Supreme Court justices, abortion issues, immigration. Some of these reasons are easy to empathize with, they have personal stories – a sister who was caught up with the wrong people, drug trafficking across the border, a friend who had an abortion as a teenager and regrets it – these are real reasons that matter. They should not be minimized.

It helps me understand their vote, but it does not help me agree that he is what is best for our country.

Why?

When I weighed the issues, I thought about the common good. I am a follower of Jesus. I think Russell Moore coined the phrase “Gospel Christian”, since evangelical has been redefined. I look at Jesus and I consider how he lived in a culture that had little regard for modern Christian morals. I notice he wasn’t real concerned with governmental systems. He aimed his righteous anger at the religious.  I notice he wasn’t worried about defending his “rights”, but instead, as the holiest man to ever walk the earth, he spoke with compassion and love to those that didn’t align with his code of conduct. For it is His “kindness that leads to repentance” (Romans 2:4). The bible speaks of helping the outsider (Samaritan) and the laying down of our lives for one another (1 John 3:16).

Christianity is a religion that is built upon a Savior that gave up his life for others. He gave up His life for a humanity that is undeserving of such love. He represented a life of putting others before ourselves. He was humility and deference to others personified. Yet, we elect a man who has time and time again elevated himself for his own personal gain, mocked the disabled, assaulted and demeaned women, and has said he doesn’t ask for forgiveness because he doesn’t really need it?

I worry that the church has sold its soul for the white house, and in doing so is losing the hallmarks of its faith.

In Matthew (5) we read, “
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”  I’m worried we’ve lost our saltiness.

When the church has prided itself on moral integrity, it does not reflect well on our collective character, when we elect someone who is perceived as racist, misogynistic, demeaning, bully, possible (child) rapist, and liar. 

Many Christians I have inquired of have shrugged off some of his comments and actions. We wouldn’t want to be judged for our pasts, now would we? And they have placed their hope in the idea that Trump has changed and that he will deliver what he promised them throughout his campaign. Maybe he will, though, I have a tough time believing him.  It is especially difficult when we filter Donald Trump’s words through Jesus’ teaching in Matthew (12), “
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I suppose time will tell. I’ve been wrong before, and I hope, for the sake of the church and the sake of our nation, that I am wrong again.

Let me reiterate, that I understand the why’s and how’s that paved the way for Trump to become the president-elect, I am just sad that it was evangelicals that helped get him there.

The early church was built on a small movement of people, living out the gospel. It was a grass-roots campaign. The people of “the Way” were the minority. So, why are evangelicals so afraid of giving up their spot as the majority? Power hasn’t always done the cause well. Historically, we kind of suck at handling power. I think in our desire to be the moral majority, we’ve cut our own wrists by embracing a candidate that defies the moral integrity we say we want to uphold.

 I find myself wondering often in the aftermath of this election, what would have happened if evangelicals would have united with one voice to say no, to both of the candidates? I suppose in my idealism, that is what I wanted to happen. To start a new movement that said we are pro-life, from the womb to the grave, so we want to protect all lives and care for the poor.  We want a party that cries out for the safety and justice of our friends that are minorities. We want a party that will fight to keep families together, even if that means that a child is being raised in a same-sex household or if a dad is an illegal immigrant. We want a party to fight for religious liberty and that means making sure ALL religions have the same freedom that I want mine to have. We had the chance to start something amazing, but I’m afraid we missed it. I hope we get another chance.

Church, if you still want to have a voice, please rise up and speak out. Hold your candidate accountable. When he says something racist – denounce it. When he speaks poorly of someone – call him out. If he assaults someone – you better jump all over that the way you did when Clinton was in office. When people are protesting because they are frustrated that Trump was elected, remember how much you whined the last eight years and show a little grace. When Franklin Graham says that he “
believe(s) that at this election, God showed up.” Be quick to point out that God has shown up at every election – even Obama’s, because there are Christians on every side of the aisle and everywhere in-between. Finally, please show a little empathy to those of us struggling with a church that we don’t feel we fit in anymore, even though we love God and we love others so much that our hearts are broken to pieces right now.

You can have your vote; maybe the election came out just as you’d hoped. That’s fine. You had your reasons. I had mine, but as my smart friend Sean pointed out, let’s all stop pretending that Jesus would have supported someone like Trump, because we both know, he would not.




Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sad Heart, Broken World


I know I haven’t said much. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s not because I’m not thinking about it every time I get on the interwebs or have a break in activity. It’s because I’m sad. I’m sad for our world. Perhaps this is the first time in my life when I have genuinely weeped for my nation. I am so very heartbroken.

I’m heartbroken for the loss of life and the loss of decency in our world. I am nauseous from the politicizing. I am angry that people have so many opinions and so little respect for the fellow man.

How did we get here? How did we become a nation so hateful to one another? We hate for such stupid reasons. Your religion is different from mine – when did that become a deal breaker? You’re gay, I’m straight – why is this such a big deal? You’re middle eastern, I’m a decendant of snow white – we are both people, right?

This morning I sat and read through the live tweets of a man who was at a Trump rally and I could only think of one thing; we are a cancer to ourselves. We pride ourselves on our freedom to say what we want, and yet we have forgotten that the things we say have influence. Donald Trump is an extreme example, but don’t we all share the same responsibility? My wise husband has reminded me before that our freedoms are only freedoms until they infringe on someone else’s freedoms.

 You think you are being clever with your sarcastic memes, but how do they affect the mom who is grieving the loss of her child to gun violence? How do your links decrying the sinfulness of a homosexual lifestyle affect the young gay man who is thinking of suicide? How about the immigrant who is working on his American citizenship while working hard to make it here, and you are rallying for a bigger wall?  How about they way we talk about religion and the way “those muslims” do things, and forget that as Christians we share many of the same moral convictions.  Are we fueling the anger, the discrimination, the hate or are we speaking/typing words of life? All too often, it’s the former. 

We forget that if we want to pride ourselves on freedoms, we have to remember that if those freedoms belong to me, they also belong to everyone else in the nation. If I don’t want the government to infringe on my freedom to marry, to practice my religion, to live here in peace, then I sure as hell better fight to my grave for those same rights for all. It’s all fun and games until I am the one in the minority. Then who will decide if I am “worthy” to have those freedoms, or if some madman ruins it for me and my gender, race, or religion?

I am not calling for a decline in personal conviction, but maybe a moratorium on blabbing it all over social media, or the campaign trail, or your street corner before thoughtfully and (if you pray) prayerfully, considering how it would feel if you were the person the vitriol was aimed at.  When you think of the top three things you want your kids to know or learn, what would they be? Is it to hate people that are different, to give backhanded compliments, and to vote for Trump or Hillary? Doubtful. So why do we rail about those things? Perhaps we need to reevaluate our top 3 things and refocus. If I want my kids to learn to love unconditionally, be compassionate, and respect people, I’d better start working a little harder on promoting those things.

If you are a Christian and feel strongly about speaking truth, try to remember that Jesus spoke truth, not on Facebook, but in real life interactions with people. Also, remember that when he was railing against something, it was usually against the church and the way they were acting, so take a long, hard look in the mirror. Remember, that Jesus was the one with the corner on truth, because, you know, HE IS GOD. Show a little humility, recognizing that as well as we can humanly exegete the text, we might get something wrong, because we are not infallible. In fact, if we are going off the truth of the Bible, we would do well to  recognize that as humans, we are often self-focused, self-righteous idiots. That’s why we need Jesus. 

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is this, “
It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”

There are fewer things more clear in the bible than this:
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

So, I’m gonna work on that, because I know I don’t do a great job at it very often. Right now, that looks like laying down my opinions on gun rights and gay marriage. It looks like lighting a candle every day this week to remember the 49 people that died because of hate. It looks like having more real life conversation and fewer Facebook rants. Would you join me?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kudoso

I haven't been here very often, but I have been over at Kudoso once a month for the past several months. This month has been one of my favorite pieces to write thus far about nature being such a restorative place for my soul.

Click over to read my post and learn more about this exciting start-up!


PS: Early spring in Montana = true love. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Book Review - A Beautiful Mess: Happy Handmade Home

Sometimes when you are mom and you live in the chaos of small children you forget a book you were supposed to review approximately a bazillion years ago. 

Then you find said book when doing your yearly desk cleaning and think, "OH! That was such a cute book." 

Sometimes that happens. 














A Happy Handmade Home by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman is a cheerful, vibrant book for the casual home DIY'er. It is filled with lovely pictures and fun projects for almost every space in your home. 



These ladies keep the first things first - it doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful and spending time with the ones you love is the priority over perfection. I am so glad for these sentiments, because I am one to jump in feet first and problem solve as necessary during the process. 


Some projects are indeed more challenging than others, but there are opportunities for even the most hesitant crafter. One of my favorites being the "Hanging Plants". 




If do it yourself isn't your thing, the book also includes recipes ranging from chocolate chip cookies to peach and basil mojito's. 







It is a perfect guide for making the most of your home and creating a fun and inviting place for people to rest, relax, and enjoy being with one another. This is the perfect book for gifting to the new home owner, young adult moving away from home, or creative person in your life.  



***Disclaimer: I received this book for free in return for my honest review as part of the "blogging for books" program

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Linger

  As November rolls in with the speed of a freight train I am already feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart are in conflict. I want to be everywhere, for every one, while simultaneously hiding away like the true hermit I am
want to feel the joy of gratitude, the holiness of coming to the table for a meal. I want to have time for what the Greeks called “eucharisteo” – to actively express thankfulness. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Choose Wisely

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I crawl into bed. Norse is already asleep. He has been crashed for over an hour. That’s the downside of starting your day before 5:00 AM.  I grab my current read on the nightstand and finish another chapter. I click off the light.

It’s then that I quiet my heart and listen. I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the kids, thankful for this chaotic, imperfect, messy, beautiful life of mine.  I’m thankful for my husband.

Sigh... 

There it is, that stirring in my heart. I just want to hug him, to be held by him, to feel close. Do I drift off to sleep or do I roll over and nudge him?

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I am realizing more and more that marriage is a constant making of choices. Do I choose to move closer to my spouse or do I choose to take the easy route? A local pastor recently talked about the importance of keeping your marriage strong, using the common illustration of a fire. A fire, without fuel, will burn out. All these little choices, they are the kindling. They are the logs that need to be continually added to the embers to keep a marriage fire burning.  Some days we add to the fire, some days I feel like we are too tired to go to the woodpile.

Norse is a good man. He excels at doing the practical things that make our marriage better. He unloads the dishwasher. He goes to work everyday to provide for our family.  He is on bedtime duty every night, because nice mom clocks out around 7:00 PM (Can I get an 'Amen'?). Those things come fairly naturally to him, but over the years he has learned to choose to do the little things that matter to me. He sends me texts. He reassures me when I feel insecure. He listens to my ramblings when I’m a wreck. He shows me grace.

I’m not as good at the practical things. I would rather buy Norse gifts and write him sappy love letters. Instead I have to choose to do his laundry and cook him good, nourishing food. I have to choose to clean the house and give him a resting place at home, a sanctuary. I have to choose to show my love in tangible ways, not because I want to be Martha Stewart or because it brings me great personal fulfillment (if you wondered, it does not), but I do it because I love him. 

I am becoming more aware that many choices aren’t always as hard as we make them out to be. For example, my son hates homework. HATES it. The kid has no idea how easy his life is. He often feels so overwhelmed, he melts down because of something that will take him less than 5 minutes to accomplish.

I think I know where he gets it.

These little choices seem so hard, especially when our marriage is in a rough patch. I don’t want to choose to add wood to the fire. It’s too much work, especially if I feel like he isn’t adding any firewood either.

But is it really that hard to do the things that make my spouse feel loved?  Is it that difficult to choose the things that bring us closer instead of the easiest path?

Not usually.

Perhaps the most significant additions we make to the health of our marriages are found in choosing those little things that probably will take less than 5 minutes. Well, except for maybe choosing to roll over and cuddle, because we all know where that could lead.

Choose wisely friends.



****Disclaimer: Every time I blog about marriage, I want to let you know that I am writing as someone who is fortunate to be in a healthy marriage. If your marriage is struggling or abusive, know that my words are not meant to bring you any guilt, hurt, or discouragement. Get the help you need, and be safe. Marriage is hard, but it should never be destructive. ***