You Deserve Better…

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When I die, cremate me with all my journals and crummy short stories; Mix my ashes with a pack of lupine seeds and plant me under a pine tree at dusk.

It is a romantic thought, if I save you from the preceding one.

The thought in which I considered my death. Thought about how, the world I inhabit could do a little better next round. Like how my husband could choose a woman who could keep up with him. Like how I wish my children had a supermom…they deserve better than what they got.  I imagine they could come across a woman strong enough to parent our daughter, gentle enough to mother our son.

I want better for you too. I want a pastor’s wife for you who inspires you to righteousness. Who makes you want to join in this story and adventure. One who is wise and brave who shows up when you need her.
I want a better daughter for you, a better friend, a better sister, I want to be better for all of you. You deserve better.

But here is the thing. I am the one here now. I know better than these thoughts. I know better. Stop that email you are composing about my worth put the facebook comment away about how I am the mother meant for these children. I know that I have the capacity and the wisdom to love my kids well, to lead them.

I know.

I am the one here now. I am the one tasked with the ministry of these 18 inches in front of me. We are forgetful though aren’t we?

We need to remember.

I think we all feel this way some of the time and so we don’t step up and choose the life meant for us. We all feel like frauds, fear that any moment now someone will show up, figure out mind reading and will put all our sin and disfuntion on display. We will be shown for the short cut takers we are.

These thoughts keep us from being bold enough to step a little further in our calling. So many trade the crown of authority for the sludge of mediocrity, let insecurity rule when faith should.When we fail, when we compare, when we measure our progress – spiritual or physical. When we falter. We step away from the call on our lives.

I might be failing you even more than I realize but that might be the point. I know grace. I know my failure is the starting place and the finish line. My inadequacy is my blessing and my curse.

There are people better than me at everything in my life. But they are not here, do not have the authority to breathe on the lives before me. I am called to this space…only me. YOu are called to your space…only you. Tomorrow, may we walk into our days knowing this truth.

Grace. It smells live wildflowers not yet in bloom, apple blossoms, whatever that pink burn on the horizon might smell like.

Breathe deep.

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A Gift

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Last night we went out for supper. Last night…of all nights…was a night we should not have gone out for supper. Last night, we could not afford to go out for supper, but we have hosted close to 500 people at the ranch in the last eight days, and tonight? Well…we needed someone else to make our food for us.

So off we went. We found a hole in the wall restaurant we have never been to before. As we were finishing up the waitress came to us and said “I will not be bringing a bill for you tonight. The elderly couple in the corner told me they were just so blessed to see a family like yours out together on a night like this”. We went over and thanked them, and I (as is my way) ugly cried and embarrassed the lot of us. The gentleman just gave each of the children a dime to make a wish in the fountain, turned and said “you’ve no greater gift than those children in front of you”.

We cannot know what our seemingly small gifts could mean to someone. We cannot know.

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I’ve rested recently. Not in the sense of sitting still exactly (but a little of that) but also in the way of pure intention. I have been alert these lasts weeks, watching for all the ways God was speaking, healing and resurrecting me. It is amazing what you notice when you look up.

Some weeks ago I was out for a large group jog. I took my place nearly smack dab in the middle, and oh, this night. It was one of those evenings when the temperature is perfect, the sun is setting all red and blurred on the horizon. The cows in the birch trees are grazing on grass that looks neon green. Two Canadian geese landed on the creek beside me, a storm of starlings settled on the branch, the air was filled with all the promise of spring and new life. Most of the runners wore ear buds…sun glasses…they stared at their shoes obsessed with the immense pain of kilometer eight. But here is the thing…sometimes we run so hard in the right direction that we don’t notice the beauty until we are forced to stop…until we hit that wall.

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Recently a woman I have admired and adored the whole of my life said something to me. If it had been anyone else, I would’ve shrugged it off, as we do when someone says something kind (Why is it that a word of discouragement near melts our bones but words of affirmation run off of us like water?). I let these words of hers sink deep into me, I accepted them as blessing and maybe even prophesy. Words that would have meant nothing from any other lips. There have been wounds healed that I didn’t even know had not yet scarred. There has been inspiration reignited that I did not even know had been snuffed.

What is it you are holding in your tight and fearful fists? What gift do you possess that is absolutely meant for your neighbor? Who is it, facing a giant, that would be so much  braver if you just stood behind them? What is it that you will not miss, but will mean the world to someone? What candle could you light for someone trying to make their way in the dark? What elbow could you steady? What leftovers could you deliver?

What…what gift is it you hold? Who looks to your for affirmation, conviction, forgiveness? Who is the recipient that is desperate…right now.

Look up.

A Blessing For the Hectic Heart

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All of April, I felt a bit like a kid on a merry-go-round who has been spun entirely too fast. Our crap was flying every which way and I was creeping near the edge. Now it is May. Watch me…hand over hand…creep towards the Centre…find me there where all the forces are held in balance by the One who hung the stars.

I was carrying your burden heavy on my broken heart.

I was allowing your pace to infect my plans. Your vision to dominate my view.

I was allowing my pace to quicken under the weight I kept lifting, thinking I could handle every speck of it.

It reminds me of a yoke I once wore.

But no. I won’t go back.

Instead, I will listen to the Pacific Chorus Frogs as they sing me to sleep, smell the wind through my metal screen as I finally still at night. I will let the wind in the pine trees blow and I will think about my smallness. I will rest as one who knows my God is Sovereign.

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We begin…with extravagant picnic in the woods.

If you are tired, like you think there is no cure, I promise you there is…

This blessing is for you…

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Absense Makes The Heart


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Joining with Seth and Amber Haines to talk about marriage. We write letters to inspire each other to keep on…keepin on. This month the prompt is ‘absence makes the heart’.

Dear Joel,
Tonight I watched the sunset over the Rocky Mountains. You must have seen that too…perhaps over the Pacific Ocean or maybe a little further inland? Somewhere in the American Northwest, that is all I know. You are far from me.
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Absense makes the heart…
Every time you go, even after all these years, we experience the Horrible Just Before. It is me. All me. See how I can throw every invisible thing in the room at you? Watch the ways I put everything I can find between us. Watch me leave you first. See that I never needed you in the first place? You can call me almost anything except dependent.

And then the second you leave I am filled with regret. The threat of your absence makes my heart hard.

The weeks have fumbled by without you. The house is still standing but it is hard to see the floor.
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Four days ago I left home. We packed the car and headed east. There was a beautiful baby girl to meet and I could wait no longer. If I am honest nothing about this trip has gone quite as planned (save the baby that looks like heaven, smells like love). The rest though, every stop, every activity planned somehow failed me. Turns out the whole of Shuswap through the Rogers pass flys south for winter…boards up the nests. Museums close on the wrong days of the week and hotel pools close early when you forget the time change. I have attempted to steal every page from your play book…have done my best to turn every disappointment into opportunity, every mishap into a sermon illustration (or maybe a blog post). We found ourselves in the belly of a beast, there were 106 stairs.
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We shut down the pool tonight then went to the drive thru at 10 PM. You should have seen Em on the water slide. The spiral stair case led to the tower. Out the window we could see the Rocky Mountain tops. Emily would not be stopped, would not be helped in any way. I made jokes about the over parenting parents (but Owen didn’t get it…He made a GREAT DATE the rest of the time though!). I am exhausted. I don’t know how you do that for everyone all the time…turn everything into an opportunity for grace and beauty.
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Absence makes the heart remember.
Tomorrow we will meet back at home and you need to know I still don’ t need you. That is not the point. I choose you. I GET you. You are my team…together we are stronger. We make each other better.
I choose you.
Everyday.
Always.

Absence makes the heart…
You were missed.
M

Wild Eyes

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It isn’t often that my eyes light up with a view of heaven. They were flashing wild though, when I looked at you with all flesh cornea and happened to see the kingdom version. You were a thing of reckless beauty.

It sounds crazy and I know it. I might be just one day away from camel shirts and locusts for dinner but I don’t even mind. I wish you could see it for yourself, I wish my wild eyes could act like mirrors so that you could not deny it. There would be no going back. You could be a dangerous thing.

I feel it in these creaking flesh bones, valleys rising. The lioness. I am more than ready to rise up, pounce, catch it all, run wild. There is nothing in me aching for the cages of old. Don’t take me back.

My son, he ran out into the woods, got so far ahead I could not see him. It is not the time of year for small boys to be alone in Canadian forests. The bears are waking with this early thaw. When I finally found him, I said “are you okay?” thinking his heart is already caged up like mine. But no. Instead his wild eyes turned on me and said “oh mom, I feel like my very own real and true self”. This is what is created in us, the Image of God on our hearts. I can’t understand why we submit to being bound and caged by the world we find ourselves. What will it take for you to remember your whole? The sozo of God, His plans for you are total restoration. Don’t settle for just a part.

I don’t want to hear about your yoke no more. Throw it off. I want to hear about the molds you shatter, your irrational hope.

You who lead? Don’t you dare look back. There is no faster way to yoke yourself again. Keep your eyes locked on the good shepherd. Keep the kingdom vision of your flock at forefront. Don’t settle in. Don’t wear failure like a cloak. Throw it off. Just for a moment, embrace the whole and free, the reconciliation meant for you. Only then will you ever be able to be a tiny part shattering yokes for the oppressed among us.

For Monday…Think Small

wpid-2015-02-04-06.13.18-2.jpg.jpegThere was a man reciting his poetry in front of the drug store last week.  I stood while the rain misted, my eyes welling as he went on. His words were filled with wounds and glory. My heart turned over, reignited. This tiny gift, his act of grace to me. I held out my hand, we locked eyes.

“Thank you. Thank you for sharing your gift”. He stuttered, stammered, looked down at his worn out shoes. No, he said, Thank you for listening.

Just listening.

I might not have stopped on another day but God has talked to me about thinking small. Talked to me about watching for Him in unexpected places, listening for His voice, not rushing on. I am a woman of Big Vision, Big Plans, Big Emotions. I am always, perpetually, ready for the next Big Thing. I can walk fast, multitask, organize the multitudes. You got a dream? Lets get it done.

All I keep hearing these days though, is THINK SMALL. All he wants me to care about is spreading Good Seed. And finding tiny Pearls in forsaken fields. He wants me casting any net I can find. Working a teaspoon of yeast into the batch.

We have always begged God for the straightforward answer, what is the Kingdom like? What should we do? What is your plan for my life? God just says, Go Love Everybody. I don’t really care how. I want you to watch out for my prompts and leadings in each of your moments.

Isn’t it always, by the skin of our teeth, the head of a pin, the edge of a knife, the split second or just by a nose? Aren’t the most life altering things a single cell? We dare not despise the days of small beginnings. Big things only serve as spaces for the small to make manifest, to provide the conditions for the seed to sprout.

Give us this day, our daily bread. Tiny rounds of yeast grown into something that sustains us. Feeds the whole world. The Kingdom Come.

 

What you call Holy…A Marriage Letter


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Marriage letters are back with Amber Haines. I absolutely overshare with these but have loved the challenge of them and have absolutely believed that if we go hard after our marriage…if you see it…it might inspire you to go hard after yours too.

Dear Joel,

The coyotes howled like stuck pigs last night. It was not a romantic sound, no silhouette against the waxing gibbous moon.  This was all whelps, angst, and the biting among them. There was an outsider threatening or a battle for the alpha role. Our big dog whimpered at the door, then ran at the fence, murderous rage. Our little dog…barked. As ever. Life can sound like that. Obnoxious. Exhausting. Dangerous. Our marriage…your wife…can sound like that too.

It is in these moments where we are sleepless, the sermon notes are missing (and I am digging in the trash because I rarely clean but when I do I am ruthless), when the children fight, the bank is blank and the truck has no heat, that it is hard to make space for the Holy.

We do. Somehow we do. You look at me with the scales chipped off, you see the traces of Saint in me. I see you. All the ways he has made you over, made you new.

I laugh at the way you feel God’s pleasure on a motorcycle. How seeing you there makes me feel like Hell. How hellish you feel when I force you to walk in the ways that I flirt with the Holy. Filled up journals, slow walks, photos of beauty. You sense the Holy in the loud and powerful…crashing waves and crashing symbols, bold declarations of relentless dedication. I sense the holy in swaying pines, the strings at work, awkward prayers, whispers of chaotic hope from the poets. These are the places I meet with God…where I establish communion with Him, where my obedience, my submission takes root and is born under His gentle corrections.

We are just so different. That is the beauty of it…a marriage…a church…the way our crooked and broken brains, our mistakes, take shape into a body that can walk even when it limps. Together we get something closer to functional.

I watched a young couple this week…they are just in the process of falling in love and they make me happy. There is a subtle but sure, invoking of the best of each other. There is a settling of the trying-too-hard to be something, a calming of the discontent, a hopefulness. This is never about taming or changing. This is the gentle ways we can inspire the best in each other. The way you inspire the Holy to rule in me. The one who brings the best of me to the surface and lets the rest be pruned and burned.

So let the coyotes howl, the wind batter at the shutters, slam our screen doors. We will stand…calling this marriage…all it forces us to be…Holy.

Always,
m