Wild Eyes


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.

If the church is a body…


Here we are…Compensating for each other. Pulling to the right or the left when there is a strain, when someone isn’t pulling their weight. The hand must patch up the knee that is bleeding from the stumble over sin. The back that is sagging from the the age, from the burden bearing; the core muscles have to toughen up to bear the sway from being too great. That hand that stopped typing, let those with the the golden tongue encourage. The vocal cords, let them sing, let them praise.

I wish I was a part of the spine. Strong. Holding things together.

Or perhaps an important part of the brain. The medulla. The frontal lobe. Practical. Wise.

I would not mind being a muscle. Those with the strong arms who do the heavy lifting. Those that serve without any fan fair.

Or even the heel. Calloused enough to walk the hard road. Though, lets be honest, perhaps the church has more than it’s fair share of heels. Mostly we need to be softer.

But no. My only hope now, that I am just a tiny bit of the heart. A single cell perhaps? A piece of the valve that blows open when the spirit shocks. The one who hears the sudden whoosh and makes it poetry and art. The one who whispers quiet in the night when things seem dark and all hope it lost. Keeps the rhythm of the maker. I want to be the one stilll finding all the beauty there in the dark. Find me in the blood and the gore, the mire and the muck. Find me in my own brokenness still naming you saint.

The Fish Are Sick

If the fish in a pond, suddenly started to all swim in circles together, around and around we might wonder if they had been hypnotized. If they all started to bloat, their round bellies expand, dropsy set in with the whole school we might wonder what was the matter. Did someone feed them too much? If the entire pond of fish started to behave irresponsibly, jumping out of the water thrashing on the muddy shores would we not be concerned?

If they were dying, all the fish, anxious and depressed, cutting themselves with dull rocks on the bottom of the pond. If they began sipping on noxious chemicals to dull the ache, or if the whole pond started swimming up streams they never spawned in, but waters that would surely kill them…would we not try to intervene?

Would we not wonder if there was something wrong with the water they were swimming in? Would we not be just a little bit concerned that something was wrong with the ENVIRONMENT?

Perhaps…we should start shouting at the fish. HEY YOU FISH, STOP THAT you are hurting yourself don’t you see? Your underside is bleeding, the sharks are circling, PLEASE stop dragging your  bloated belly along the bottom. JUST STOP IT.

Or maybe we treat the sick fish…can we catch every single one, try to give them some antibiotics, push back the decay. Perhaps if we sit them down on a therapists couch we can cure-all that ails them.

But all the fish are doing it, don’t you see? Every. single. one. These waters are killing them, not so softly.

Its time to drop anecdote into this pond. It is time to figure out how to treat this culture. It is time to love these fish enough to do the HARD work of starting from ground zero, of getting into the mud and the mire and showing a better way. It is time friends, to recognize the thief dropping poison in our kids and to STOP him. They have started taking the bait off of a hook meant to kill and destroy.

Youth culture is sick. For the first time at my work at the university we are prescribing more anxiolytics then antibiotics. More antidepressants then birth control. More morning after pills then casts for injuries. Things are not quite right in this fish pond.

We covet your prayers this weekend as we step into the waters, scatter the only cure for a society so sick. The only hope for a situation so hopeless.

Join us? Pray with us this week. Fast with us this week for a work that only God could do. He can make all things new you know.

Even ponds full of toxin and the half dead. Living Water can soothe even the sickest of fish….


Let the Lion Roar

ImageI’ve been guilty of it.
Treating the God of the universe like a lap dog that is mine to groom, to leash up and prance around packed arenas. I’ve believed that He is mine to dominate; tie out in the yard if He gets to mouthy, talks too much. The North American church, loves to do this. Package him up in the guise of family values, of conservative politics, of good behaviour and worst of all mediocre art.
Aslan is on the move He is setting fires in His wake. Fires in the hearts of men after he has burned down our man ordained infrastructures.
We’ve leashed Him for too long, like we could ever make a chain thick enough. We’ve chained ourselves there too, in the stadium, out in the yard, to the kitchen sink. Not once risking our own skins all the while forsaking our souls. The proof is in our anxious hearts, our depressed minds. We are carrying weights we were never meant to…His burden is light.
The evangelical church is shifting, the very ground beneath our feet is moving. Tectonic shifts. You can grieve if you want too…the things that have passed. I will not. I trust the God of the universe to let him burn what He will. I trust him enough to be ALL IN to see what is built tomorrow.


I’ve no interest in being a lion tamer…You can keep your caged up beast. I’ll be chasing mine, in the Serengeti of this wild life, my heart beating fast with the thrill of it.  I’ll be out in the barren plains of the disenchanted hearts of men, watching the Living Water quench the barren ground. I’ll be out under the acacia trees, the shadow of His wings, anywhere He leads. I’ll be using all His good gifts to expand the horizon of the captured, to tear down the fences of the religious. I’ll be in the great wide open, knowing He is not safe, and there are dangers here I can’t plan for. Still I know He is good and I will follow anyways.
My God? He is not tame but he is so very good.

ImageI feel the quake in my heart…the fire burning white hot. There are far better things ahead my friends…

A Mother Letter: On the Peace


Dear O,

When you asked for a pistol for you birthday it got me thinking.  Being your mamma always makes me ask the hard questions. This time I wondered about THE PEACE and how we are living it.

You said you  “want to shoot down a tree and to shoot down the power lines”, and there isn’t anything wrong with this, hear that clear. It just made me stop and think for a moment. Little boys love guns and wars and battles of all kinds. My daddy said no guns at our house but we found ways to make our own, turn the garden implements to battle staffs for our ninja club. Children find ways to fight. I just want you to know that you are part of a better way.

You need to know that your daddy and I? We believe the Peace.

You can watch us. The way we do the hard work of getting along, of asking the questions. Peace making isn’t about hiding my boy. It has taken your daddy and I a long time to learn this. To believe that making the peace isn’t about pretending we don’t hear when a word is spoken against us. No boy. That is for cowards. We walk into James 3, believing that the wise are the peacemakers, the humble. You can watch us do our best to bow our knees, to admit our mistakes, but not to cower under it. We want you to learn to use your words, the power of them to disarm or to wage war. The ways that we can use our social capital to build another up or to tear them down. We are still learning this, I will always be the last to call myself wise.

I want you to watch the  counter cultural ways of your daddy. The ways he dampens the power of the empire of pop culture by pointing out its absurdity. The way he points to our humble King every chance he gets. The way he believes, that even while he is turning a kingdom upside down he can do it in peaceful ways. That being a cultural subversive doesn’t mean you throw rocks, but that you take those rocks and build something beautiful instead. The way he does the hardest work of discussions he hates…because being brave enough to make peace doesn’t mean he likes it. No your daddy would much rather live the Peace than make it. You can watch him please…the way his rage doesn’t exist. The way the Spirit flourishes there.

You can watch me too I guess. Watch the way I learn to tame the flesh in me. You know this temper can flare up hot, the way the fuse can just be too short. I want you to watch the ways the Spirit can dampen even a wick like that. I’m learning my boy, I’m learning.

We are going to help you fan this spirit in your own heart. What you need to do to care for your soul to reveal this Spirit in you. The ways you will need space and time like your mamma, the way you aren’t going to be able to rush. You need to know that it takes more bravery to stand up and do the hard work of making the peace than it does to submit to the rage. It takes more strength to bend the weapons into implements of peace. You have these in abundance…I just watched you face the wrath of baby sister with dignity, turning her fists away and never once raising yours. I am achingly proud of you.

Grace and Peace,


PS: Peace chasers watch this! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWH4R0_-4hg

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

James 3:17



I planted more lupins this spring. Lillies too. Shasta daisies and Rudbeckia.

Lupins grow wild here. But, still I want more, I want the property overrun with them, all colours, pushing out the mulien, the thistles. The goodness pushing out all the rest. I want the roots to deepen and the seeds to fall and create new plants next year.

There are rules to follow on each package of seed. When to plant, how deep, how far apart, the type of soil where they will grow best. There are whole books on the subject (someday I will read them).

And it is the way our society works, we create systems to control and contain… and we wish, oh how we wish, that people responded like the seeds. That we could invest and be guaranteed a return. That perhaps, if we follow the instructions exactly, we will see fruit. The problem is people just don’t work like that. The problem is, of course, that people come with intense variations, some scarred, some even ground to a fine powder, and some with so much pride they cannot even see themselves as a seed, deluded to believe they are a great oak tree.

We used to get a lot of pressure to participate in things like the “Leadership Summit” or other Programs to enact on people. It took me a long time to know why the concept didn’t sit right, when so many of the people were brilliant and had so many amazing things to say. Our issue is this: there is an incredible temptation to fall into successful business plan as method of growing a church. This has never been the way of the cross, the upside down kingdom. Jesus was tempted to take control too, to rise up into a world-class Leader. He said No. So do we.  Systems have never impacted the human heart in a positive way, and more education has never produced life change. 

At this point in my husband’s ministry he often gets told to write a book about his methods or to become a youth ministry leader. He has no interest. He says this;  “What we did will not work for you. Just create spaces for the Spirit to move and for community to form”. God is already here in our midst, already working in the hearts of the people in your path.  Your job is just to help them see it. We have seen that people are moved by the Spirit, and by leaders and by community and these can happen IN SPITE OF a program, not because of it.

I wish I could tell you there was a short cut to this maturity thing. To this becoming a whole person in Christ thing.

No. We have to step back and remind ourselves that we are a people under renovation…that is the point of this thing isn’t it? The pursuit of wholeness, of understanding and humility bowed at the throne of Grace. It isn’t a linear process, this thing called life. It is the backwards and forwards momentum and the way we always choose to move towards the Cross, and our eventual and complete restoration.

Do you remember that plan of salvation image from a decade or two ago? You know that one with the cross as bridge to salvation? The one that made it seem like a once and final trek? I’ve been thinking about it lately. Of course choosing the cross makes your salvation secure, but what else? What about the dailies of this beast of a thing? To me now the bridge between completely broken and absolutely restored is progression. There is movement towards one or the other every single today. Life is never static, you are always building into your life…what are you strengthening?  Your wholeness or your brokenness?

That is what we are dealing with friends. We were warned weren’t we? Some of us water. Some of us plant. Some of us till the soil. BUT ONLY GOD MAKES IT GROW. It is the most frustrating thing about ministry…no matter how hard you work, some soil will not turn, some seeds will not grow, some will grow like crazy for a couple of years and get burned by the sun. But we…we just keep tending our plot with all the bravery and integrity we can muster. We keep putting our roots deeper still expecting our own deaths to feed another upstart plant. That perhaps next season, more fruit will be born.

The lupins creep all over this place. Some sprouting up in the least likely of places, others dying off where I thought they would thrive. I just keep shaking the seed pods, considering the lilies. It is the very most I can do.

***Many of the thoughts today are inspired by Jonathon Martins book “Prototype”. Worth your time!***

A Church Lady Rant (or about that time I was accidentally naked in front of several semi-truck drivers)

It happened about six weeks ago. 

My boss called from Texas to tell me that a visiter from the MINISTRY OF HEALTH was coming to my office to hear about our work. She would be accompanied by the people who hold our funding (i.e. the money that pays all of our bills) and representatives from the Health Authority. My boss said “It would be great if you could host them, this is very important”.  Of course I said, though it was on my day off, though I would need to find some extra babysitting. The day before the important meeting I prepped the office, posted the posters that best illustrate our work, found some handouts they might like to see, dusted the meeting table. You know…the works. So all was looking great.

But. Then. My daughter woke up sick. Needed LOTS of me. She wanted to work in the garden so off we went.  In sweat pants. Flip Flops. Unshowered. No make up. And…somehow…we lost track of time. At 2 pm, I realized we needed to hustle if we were to pick up my son from school on time. We ran out the door.

Flip flops. Sweat pants. No make up. No shower.

We met O after school, walked to the playground, visited with some precious friends, including another pastors wife from church. 

At 3 pm we got in the car. I picked up my cell phone and a calendar alarm is going off. Isn’t that strange? What could that be?

Oh. Oh My. 

My meeting is in 30 minutes. I have two children in my car. I AM IN SWEAT PANTS. I live in the woods, if I drive all the way home and back I will miss the meeting completely. I chase my friend from church across the highway and say:

“Hey, can my kids come play for an hour, I forgot about something”.

“Of course, my kids will be thrilled”

I literally put my kids on her stairs and squealed my tires out of the driveway. I drive fast. I find myself at Marks Work Warehouse (the only clothing store on this side of town). I RUN in. Grab a dress from the rack. I pay for it without trying it on. I run to my car. I start towards the university. I stop at a red light and I take off my shirt. 

I can’t explain it.

I just did it.

It is more shocking to me than to you ok? Seriously. I don’t know what happened to my panic-stricken mind but in that moment of getting my new dress on, all I could think was “I CAN’T BELIEVE I FORGOT ABOUT THIS”.

So once I was dressed again and looked up to find my little Subaru surrounded by semi trucks terror-struck deep in my heart. “Did I just see Pastor Joel’s wife…???? No. Couldn’t be”. At least…I hope that is what everyone at Hwy 97 and Mccurdy thought.

You guys? I strode into that meeting less than five minutes late. My boss got an email from the Minister of Health telling her that isn’t it “so amazing when you get the right people in the right jobs?! Melissa is great”.

I picked up my children one hour later…they wanted to stay at my friend’s house.

SO WHY DID I TELL YOU THIS HORRIFYING TALE (it might also be awesome….my friend Alison sung me Amy Grant at a dinner party…I just heard this song for the first time and am dying) YOU ASK? Here is the point:

“Destination” churches are dying. Young people don’t believe in slick programs anymore. Driving across town to go to church DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. You need to build your community with the people with whom you are ACTUALLY doing life with. The friend I described above and I have been serving in the same ministry for almost a decade, but we did not become close friends until OUR LIVES STARTING CROSSING OVER. You can’t have genuine relationship with people you see once a month. You cannot be involved in someones life if you only see them across a busy foyer. You need to meet regularly in the nitty, gritty of life. In the school yard, the grocery store, the church service events, the small groups AND THE foyer.

I am not good at this friends. Ask anyone. I like my space. 

Some people need loads more time than I do to fall into intimacy with people…I need very little to feel like we are best friends (it makes me kind of crappy a friend, except for the fact that I am in it for life). But the truth of it is I am ready to collect my people. I want you all in one place. Those of you who are wandering, not participating anywhere, why not come build the church of our dreams? 

Or commit to your neighborhood church. I don’t care where you go actually. But it is time that church stopped being a destination to you. You do not need to go to EVERY event, that EVERY church has. You need one church. You need lots of different types of people. You need to be reminded of the beauty and the burden that is community.

I am a big believer in pendulum shifts in the church. Back and forth with the worship and the service and the evangelism and the discipleship. She swings wildly sometimes and us in service hold on tight. If the scaffolding is Jesus we will stand, if it isn’t? Well…Then we fall and start again and build up from the ground.

I’ve prayed it every year of our ministry. Every week of youth. “Lord God be ruthless with us, tear out every piece of us that hinders, collapse every aspect of us that ceases to glorify you”. You know what? He does…God help us…He does.

But it is a season to build. Will you join us? 

Fall at Willow Park is going to be amazing. Pursuit is cooking. I am excited to build something that stands time, my friends. I want to watch you get married and I want to bring you a casserole when you have a baby. I want to sit beside you when the big uglies of life strike. I want to chase Jesus with you. I want you to have my back too.

If you are a Pursuit woman….will you join us on Sunday? Sarah Bessey (one of my favorite writers and author of an important book coming out this year) is speaking and then we are just going to spend the day having picnics and getting to know each other. Think of it like you are coming for a long tea party in the woods. Its going to be adorable.

I hope you will join us; in all sorts of ways.

(Sorry to spam your life…looks like I got over my finger laryngitis)

I See You.

Here, now, across that church foyer, that social gathering:

I see you.

I see how you struggle to fit, the way you shrink or expand depending on the audience.

I see you tying that legalism noose of religion tight on your neck, hanging yourself on the belief that nothing that looks like passion can be part of Gods plan.

I see you there. You with your cup full, wondering why you don’t get to see God making water into wine. Funny how that happens when our malt is overflowing.

I see you, the way you want to please. I see the way you care more about what people think than what is right.

I know because I’ve been you. In the space of one day I’ve been called an oppressive conservative and a raging liberal. I’ve had grown women hide their cigarettes from me, grown men question my intent.

I’ve seen you pulled along these ragged rocks too, the expectation of man. The here and now that shifts like tide, changes like a runway.

And it isn’t just the church you know.

I’ve been called an academic fraud and an intellectual in the same day.

An athlete and a sluggard.

A feminist and a submissive.

A good mom or that my kids ‘run-amuck’.

An environmentalist and a ‘ozone hole producer’.

The atheist might preach the loudest you know? They seem to have a lot to prove to themselves and the world. That says something. All those who preach with themes are struggling. This I know.

Sometimes the most virulent voices are the weakest of faith. I know. I’ve been that.

Those of us that like to live out the question…relish the exploration…we are most prone to grace-less religion when a question demands black and white. Trust me. This is an answer I can give with authority.

So here, now. I want you to know I measure my heart to the standards that don’t change.

Today. I ask for insight from those that lead me.

In this moment, I want feedback from those who I love fiercest.

The rest? With voices that chorus around us? I will hear you.

And my heart will take in the messages that are truth. Those that bring me to my knees and remind me that perhaps, my actions look different from my intent. That… my values are not seen clearly. The things that ring clear with the Truth teller…those I will hear.

Otherwise? Your voice will not paralyze me. I will not cower at your vitriol.

Here now. I hang my coat with the One who sees me rightly. The One I can trust.

Linking with friends this week.

Emily, Ann, Jen, Laura, Lisa-Jo & Jennifer

There You Are


There I am,

Throwing palm fronds like a ticker tape parade.

I like the party Jesus, when the going is easy, when the church celebrates.

I will throw down my cloak with the best of them. Let me plan the event, invite the guests.

There I am,

Kissing your cheek, though the swords are drawn and I know it.

Still though, I exchange all your promises for a bag of gold, treasure in this day.

I like the excesses Jesus. Seems there is a lot I will do to satisfy this flesh.

There I am,

Among the religious elite.

Staking claims, calling out the weak, neglecting mercy.

Tell me then who struck you down Christ? Who spit in Your face?

There I am,

Listening to the rooster squawking in the distance.

It sings a song I recognize, for all my words, still I can turn my back on You.

I’m all yours when the road is smooth, just don’t ask me to suffer, to join in your sacrifice.

There I am,

My damp hair on Your feet.

This unfaithful heart, so prone to wander,

To forget and neglect all Your most reckless blessings.

There I am,

The doubter demanding proof.

Give me the three-month recidivism rates on your miracles,

Watch me jab my filthy fingers into the gaping holes in Your hands. 

There I am,

Standing with the mockers,

Those who claim the empire and protect her against all odds.

I let their voice ring loudest, above your pained cry, I wash my hands of it.

There YOU are.

The garden is growing up around You,

The cup heavy in Your hand,  You drink it to the last drop.

You watch me the whole time. I have to look away.

Despite my magnificent failures.

Despite my betrayals and weakness.

Despite all of the ways I try to claim both kingdom come and empire now.






Linking with friends this Holy Week.

Emily, Ann, Jen, Laura & Jennifer