What is it we do with a heart of anguish? We Hope…

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I bet it haunts you too. That image, you know the one?  The one of the vulture waiting. It caused a revolution at our house this week…Injustice has a tendency to do that.

We found our kids huddled together on the couch flipping through the “100 most influential photos” magazine that Time recently published. Joel sat down with them and I heard him explaining things like napalm. Famine.Vietnam. Nuclear bombs. I wanted to stop him. But they are getting older. These are conversations we need to have.

That night my daughter could not sleep. She was writhing and crying and calling herself a coward, selfish.  My E cannot shake it. She sees herself in that little girl. She knows how we are one.

Did you know the photographer that took that photo, later took his own life? Some accounts I read attributed the death to the guilt he felt, but that oversimplifies of course. I can’t help but wonder though, if we were made for more than to look and see? We were made to be hands and feet. We are active participants here, made to join Jesus in His ministry of reconciliation and justice.

I know we all feel uneasy right now, but it is not the first time the world has felt like this. I’m sure it has felt much worse. But this is when the helpers and healers, the poets and dreamers go to work. These are the conditions that breed the visionaries, the restorers, those who want to learn what it means to bind the broken-hearted. These are precisely the days we learn what we are made for, what we are to do. This is when we learn what good work is.

The difference for a Christian is that we do not give way to despair. We are the ones who subvert dread to hope. We are the ones who lead the pilgrimage in the darkness with our light glowing, the ones who never let the flame go out. We are the ones who cannot give way to complacency because this hope should move us to action.

Hope is our antidote to fear.

Hope prompts the movement from angst to action.

Hope will be our testimony and our gift.

Hope will be our dialect; our defining language.

Hope will be our reward and our calling.

Hope will be the trail we blaze and the direction we lead.

Hope will deepen as we trust Him more and Hope will be what transcends all our heartbreak and every insurmountable obstacle.

The only thing we can do with angst and fear is to set it ablaze with the HOPE OF CHRIST. We do the next tiny thing in front of us, that is all we ever have. We bring our tiny light to the dark. The small thing you can begin. It is such a relief just to start, such a release to move in the direction of hope. Fear cannot stand against such audacity. It crumbles.

And so. We hope.

(A few small ideas? The tiny things to move you in the direction of light? Below…Emilys first step. Or join us tomorrow? Our prayers never return void)

What is it you can do this week of hope, one small move, our single candle blazing that can move you in the direction of HOPE? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

I blog on hope a lot. Here are a few pieces from the archives:

We Wait…And We hope

Tell Me of Your Hope

Hope and Peace

Your Fear Makes Me Wonder

Jump In…The Water is Fine

We will not go where we can't see our

Dear E,

Ever since your first birthday, I have had to hold you back from the water. You would run towards it and leap in to any lake or river, giving no notice to the fact that you could not swim.

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Much of the time, at snow-fed creeks in early June and waterfalls and oceans in October we would have to actually HOLD YOU BACK so keen you were to jump in.

DSC_0365Even with our deliberate and hands on parenting, even with our hand on your collar, even still you would often find a way to get your feet wet.

DSC_0117 So then, you can imagine my surprise when you would not get into the surf pool with your daddy. I had stayed in the hot tub and you returned to me five minutes later, tears streaming down your face,

“Mom, I am the only girl in there. I don’t belong”

I guess. Logic would tell you, if you don’t see yourself then, of course, you do not belong. But you and me? We are not only people of logic, we are also a people of hope. Some days, it is all we have. And so.

We walked hand in hand and you rode that wave with your face glowing. You watched those teenage boys, doing tricks, you asked how they did it. Oh girl you dove in. It was beautiful. There will be times my darling, to live life in the fullness you are called to, you will be the only one in the water. Do not be afraid.

So many would not have had the courage to tell me why they left the pool. I hear things all the time like “I just don’t feel like it”, “I am bad at math”, “I can’t do it”. But yes you can. Being afraid and being incapable are two very different things.

My girl there will be places that people have not been yet. Places that someone has once upon a time said you were not made for. But let us go there together. This week, I’ve thought of how you are watching me. I found the camera you used this summer. Of the 800 photos on it, 300 were of me. Me…jumping into lakes…freckles blazing, mascara washed off. Me…after a 18 km run…panting and flush. Me…camping without a shower, without any make up. ME. That is what scares me sometimes darlin’. The way you watch me, the way there is no mask with you.

wpid-wp-1421127837542.jpegBecause…I need to tell you. Some of this stuff scares me too. These are the days of Boko Haram turning little girls into bombs and unprecedented domestic murders in our own nation. These are the days of women of THIS LAND disappearing and dying and none of it is ok. These are days of terror. But do you know what? These are also the days of Malala and the days of MY Emily. These are still days of HOPE and do you know that you and I? Well…we were called and born for SUCH A TIME AS THIS. There are places that I have not been, that I am not sure I am meant to go, but watching you is teaching me that sometimes I am just afraid to go to places that I have not seen myself.

wpid-2014-12-22-10.14.19-1.jpg.jpegSo my sweet. Jump in. The water is fine.

With all my love and all the courage I can muster,

Mommy

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.

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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…

In the Company of Women

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That morning, the lake stood still, the mist settled in. As I walked onto the dock I watched the ripples run across the water, each of my steps sending tiny waves out. I was suddenly an earthquake disturbing the peace. I stopped, sat down, I didn’t want to ruin anything, had no interest in rocking that blissful boat just sitting there, minding its own business.
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I’ve stepped shyly in other parts of my life too you know. Lightly almost. Not sure where I fit in the land of women, always more comfortable in the company of men. I feel like I send ripples out, change things, and I never know if it is for the better. I am a woman who revels in statements like “you are not like other women though”, I’ve made myself at home in mocking stereotypes and all the ties that bind.  I’ve stayed away from the women’s retreats. I’ve made fun of scrapbooking (and knitting….and…). I have attempted to make myself something else. Something different. A hybrid. I’ve elbowed my way into the circles of men, thinking, perhaps the conversation might be more my speed. That perhaps, I would offend less often. The whole of my life, I have found myself surrounded by many male friends. I played soccer at lunch. I was on the basketball courts playing 21 at camp when the other girls were curling their hair.I speak the language of the dudes easily. The harsher. The sarcastic. The jokes. Lets talk about everything but our feelings ok?

The truth of it is I just never, ever felt like I fit, so I would rather find my place around the outside. I called women who spent too much time on their looks shallow, when maybe I was just envious that I have no concept of how to do my own hair. When maybe both of us are just terribly insecure and perhaps we both could’ve stepped back challenged the assumptions about one another that were binding and walked in a truer version of ourselves instead of just trying to be?

You see the problem is this:

I am a feminist. A raging one if we are honest. My parents left the church partly because they didn’t want their daughters bound and gagged. You hear that? Getting this theology right matters to me.  I want to see women and girls walk in the fullness of their giftings. I want them to live life unafraid…of anything…especially their own skin and the way it feels to live in it. I want them to believe in the power of their voices, the call of their God. I want them to believe they have a place in the Kingdom, that their place is important, necessary. If they are married, I want them to be extraordinary wives and mothers who inspire their men to be better, to fulfill their call too. Do you see that? When a man walks in freedom his woman does too, when a woman releases her gifts in fullness she inspires him to do the same…it isn’t either / or. It is BOTH / AND. When my husband is thriving, so am I. When I am ragged with expectation and a life that doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit him either. I tie him to the ground with my neediness, my dependence. Freedom reigns in our home when we both have voice, when we mutually sacrifice, lay aside our agendas for the dream of the OTHER. Somehow, don’t you see how time expands? Life becomes a passionate adventure into the call of God on our lives…as one…each serving the other, each freeing the other to dream more, dream again.

So how can I, a woman who believes all that, still try to separate herself? Do you see ugliness of that? The way our competition creates false divides, broken bridges, broken hearts? There is something very wrong if you are happy about the fact that you are not like ‘other women’, it means you are actually not a feminist. You are not a freedom fighter. If we are achieving something while breaking another womans back, which direction are we moving? If our life causes another to cower or to feel inadequate in our presence…what are we really accomplished? If I believe that this freedom song is ours to sing, how can I not call other women into it? How can I not actively help them to find their voice? We cannot be a freedom fighters if we are eating our own, pushing other women down so that we can reach higher, gain a false identity.

 
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So I’ve been stepping out, attempting to find my place, and helping others to find theirs. I’ve been building bridges and circling around the women in my life, attempting to find my place among them. I’ve been brave (for me) and I’ve been bold. I hosted a womens retreat. For real. I authentically made confession to other women… things about myself I’ve never breathed out loud. I trusted them with myself and they’ve yet to fail me yet. I am finding my place, a company of women who feel like sisters, who get me, who heal me, who inspire me, who convict me. People I want to build with, dream with, people I believe are changing the world.

 
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I want to be among the brave ones, the women who stand up straight and strong. Who strengthen the backs of each other, who see and break the chains of injustice, who bravely step into our callings, who help others to discover and walk into theirs. I think, I might be ready to rock the boat, stepping out on the water with the God of the universe, inspiring us all to just stand there, waves lapping on our toes.

 

(This post partially inspired by Ann Voskamps breathtaking piece here🙂

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(and this post is dedicated to my friend Sarah Bessey who had a book release this week!

I can hardly wait to read it Sarah! So proud of you and excited about the impact it could have on our beloved church!)

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A Mother Letter: On the Peace

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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,

Mamma

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

Create

 

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The light pools on the ground beneath the pine trees.

 

Fog moves quickly, sudden.

I can feel its depths, wonder where the bottom is. The top?

It is easy to get lost in.

I reach my fingers up into the sky, there is no end in sight.

The air is thick, dense. I wonder if one can actually breathe this…my chest starts to ache.

The snow is falling so gentle from the dark sky, we can’t even feel it on our faces.

We capture crystals on our fingers, try to count the prism facets before it melts over us.

Beauty can be hard to hold.

We visited a friend yesterday and as we walked down her driveway we watched a garage collapse. The tiny bits of snow building into something too heavy to be held up by flimsy structures.

And I wonder, how many miniscule pieces of beauty does it take for us to crush something?

Like oppression for example. Or injustice.

I don’t know. But I think I want to find out.

 

I think, perhaps, that might be the point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Linking this post with the Imperfect Prose community…Hi friends!

This post partially inspired by Shane Claibornes beautiful, inspiring, life-giving HOPES for 2013. LOVE THIS. 

 

And friends…PURSUIT JUSTICE is coming…JOIN US!

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sexy Shoes

I bought some shoes once. The heels were high, the toes were open, they were expensive and they made my legs look eight feet long and the truth of the matter was that I knew it. Now those shoes sit in my closet and keep company with the rest of my twenties collecting dust and reminding me of all the chances I wasted.

My son asked me today:

“Mommy, are you afraid of anything?!”. He said it like I was brave, like he could scarce believe the possibility that I would be. I laughed inside because, well, I’ve been afraid of most everything for most all of my life.
It was only recently when I was able to shake myself free of those chains that were like weight on my ankles, like cement boots.

I told him. “YES. I am afraid of things. Sometimes I am afraid of bad men or bad things happening”. But later, like he usually reminds me of all things true, I realized:

”No. I am much more afraid of getting this wrong. This thing. My life. What if I waste it? What if I spend it recklessly on the equivalent of a new pair of shoes? What if I care more about cool and sexy? What if I don’t make my life about the main things?”

I have a job, it is easy and I am good at it. But the truth of the matter is I don’t care much about it. I could walk away from it yesterday and the only thing I would miss was the pay cheque, the fact that sometimes people stroke my ego. What if I never really chase my dreams, or the passions God keeps piling on my heart? What if? What if my obituary talks about my beautiful home and not about my fight for justice? What if I spend my love on myself and not on you? What if Jesus wonders, how did you treat the least of these? What if He flat-out asks me, I was hungry did you feed me?

Today as I hiked up the path to my office, in my practical $12 boots, I prayed “Lord God, make me an instrument of your peace let me see what you have for me today. Let me be the one who radiates truth when the world seeks to perpetuate facade and illusion. Oh. God.”.

Living in the Resurrection means you live in spirit. Sometimes we feed this flesh so much we think we should be thriving. Oh, look at all the quiet time I am spending! Look at all the good I am doing! Look at all the ‘community’ I am building with people exactly like me! Look at all the rest I had! But suddenly, instead of changing the world we are we are dying like roadkill. You were never meant to serve the world…her busy for the sake of herself. You were meant for a higher call.

Jesus asks us to sow in the spirit. Jesus asks us to die to the flesh. And sometimes the decay?  It smells like new shoes.

 

Linking with Jen & friends today!