Ask Me

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wpid-abm_1419804708.jpgAsk me again, whether what I have done is my life.   Ask me if the getting up and going to sleep and the moments in between is all there is. Ask me if I lived the heights and depths of my life and all the ordinary moments in between. Ask me if I smelled the frost on my daughter’s hair, smelled the earth on my son. Ask me if I chased my dreams, if I gazed at Christ, if I did everything that was put before me. Ask me I took my place at tables set for me.

Go ahead. Ask me.

Ask me about the words I didn’t write and the walks I didn’t take. Ask me about the people on the margins I left there alone. Ask me about the gifts I hoarded or the risks I didn’t take.

Go ah…wait. Maybe don’t.

No don’t because then I will have to tell you that I get lazy and distracted and caught up in the ordinary. I will tell you I wasted too many evenings this year on facebook and days on netflix. I will tell you that I get nervous sometimes that as I enter the decade of, what statisticians calculate as the most productive of my life, that I am getting it wrong. I will tell you that my heart is madly restless these days, that I am desperate for what the next thing is. I will tell you that this year…I want focus.

I will tell you that every year at this time I say the same thing a different way, that I want to be HERE and in the NOW but also…but also. But also I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to be everywhere, all at once. I want to climb mountain tops and swim with dolphins. I want whatever is meant for me and I don’t want to miss a second of this life or waste it on  regret. This  year, 2015, I want to live with intention and focus and I don’t want life to happen TO me. I want to step into my gifting and I want to do the next million tiny things. I want to stack one tiny thing on top of the next and I want my heart to break and beat for the things of God.

And this isn’t about trying harder or doing more. This is about peeling back scaled eyelids and watching with glittering eyes. This is about not letting my life happen to me, not picking up the phone without thinking. Not skipping between various screens.This is about watching for the opportunities I’m given. This is about paying attention to surprising things that make my heart beat…like writing and preaching and crashing waves and poetry. This is about making space for the things I care about doing. This is about filling myself before I leave the house. About waking just a little early moving and thinking and intentionally planning my days. We are the curators of our lives, the only ones who decide what it is filled with.

My little girl woke me in the night. I held her little hand as I walked her to our bed, I kissed her satin soft skin. Then I spent a long time looking out the window. The sky was bruised deep purple and navy blue. The stars were blazing hot. The trees were so loaded with snow that I thought they might break.

Ask me if I noticed.

On purposeFierceAsk me2015

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I am all nostalgia, for the moment I am in now. My baby girl only braved the water slide if she was firmly in my lap. I obliged a million times, what if this is the last time she wants me? They are growing fast these kids. I am having the urge to MAKE ALL THE MEMORIES. DO ALL THE THINGS. Last night I shaped rice crispies into bird nests, stuck a peep on top. I bought the basket stuffing, the chocolate rabbits. TIme is slipping on me. I want to look it straight in the face.

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It has not been easy to be Mr. O this week. It has been all trouble and trial; challenge and testing. He has struggled. When my son pulls away hard and we feel him distancing, weakening, we know he is getting discouraged with his very own flesh, the way it fails. I need to learn to be a vessel of hope for him, how do I pour it out all over him when the world has dragged him down? How do I teach him to be his own clay pot? Opening up to the voice of God in his life, the voice of hope over the hopeless? How do I teach him to throw himself back on the potters wheel when the cracks start to show?

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I am a nurse on a campus. My favorite demographic of humans is people in their early twenties, when they are all fun and hope and laughter. When they are certain they are thinking thoughts nobody ever has, when they have all the authority of a boat not yet rocked. When the world is their oyster, an open clam, and they are all mining the pearls. Tragedy strikes them fiercely, the dark is such a contrast to the light in their eyes. I struggle then too. Darkness just seems so encompassing sometimes.

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It is Holy Thursday. Today is about the foot washing, the betrayal just on the horizon, the remembering. Today, I think about what Judas wanted. Did he get frustrated with the way Jesus was going about things? Did the messiah not do things his way? Was the world just still too dark? I feel like that sometimes. Sometimes, the church, the bride, is not what I imagined her to be. Jesus doesn’t show up the way I would like him too. You need to watch yourself then, you teeter on trading it all for a lousy bag of cash.

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There is very little doubt about the Good Friday world we live in. How easy it is to see the giant boulder there and walk away. Today I am asking God to show me all the stones He is rolling. All the new life he is making. All the Freedom He is giving.

Today, I’m asking Him to rise again in my heart, to clear this temple, to make all things new.

Being Peace on Earth (Advent 6, 7, 8)

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Hope and Peace. Is there anything our world needs more than these? So many of us are just plain tired. In this world of chronic diseases, betrayal, brokenness, abuse, a broken heart from a source you could never have predicted, you watch the news for fifteen minutes and you can be horrified.
But it is THIS world that our Jesus comes. Our Jesus, born in a stable, among the filth, the unmucked out animal feces, the hay that makes you itch. Born to a teenage mother, who said yes despite the magnificent mess it would make of her life. This same Jesus who dies in an equally bloody way, a gruesome death on a cross between two criminals.

“God entered our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable Glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability need”(Brennan Manning).  It makes me mad some days. The scandal of it. I want him to come in a blaze. I want him to be in ease…I want him to give me ease. Ease to the whole world. To the sad and the broken. I just want him to fix it.

But our Jesus. He now lives in an even more grotesque place. An even bloodier mess. Perhaps the goriest place you can find. The human heart. Mine. Yours. Those of us that invite Him, have the Holy Spirit in us now. And this holy spirit invites you into the mess of this world. Jesus bids you to step into it with him. He could have done this so many ways, redeemed us, reclaimed us. It could have been so much easier, so much more magnificent. But our God invites us to the depths, to the real, to perhaps the only authentic place where there is no hiding. There is no more facade. There is no social media to bolster you, no friends to protect you, no reputation that proceeds you. No. Our Jesus is willing to get his hands dirty. He draws in the dirt, heals with the mud…
Jesus has many things for you in this life. Life to the full and abundant. But it will likely not be a pinterest perfect love story, a picture perfect family, never a problem free existence. Even when things are really falling into place, the monotony of this old world can wear you down (just wait till you have to make school lunches). I was watching breaking bad the other night, and I see why so many are intrigued by it. The truth is people are bored. They are chasing a dream that doesn’t exist. Hedonism for its own sake. Anesthetic to try and drown the mind collapsing from the boredom of it.
Lots of us throw around words like calling a lot. But what I see in scripture is Jesus calling you to be hope, light and peace. Calling you to speak un-retractable hope to the hopeless. Peace to the tormented. To embody joy even in the most broken of days. It is this that a broken world needs. People think you can get it done right and things will just work out. I don’t see that in scripture. I see us stepping into the broken with him. Our spirits softening, our hearts being wrung with his BUT still we cling to hope, to peace. We enter into it.
Nelson Mandela died this week. And we have sterilized him into an icon of peace haven’t we? We trapped his face into quote photos like a cartoon. He was not. There were times in his life were he was named terror. He was imprisoned for 27 years and he let the mess and the torment shape him into a man of Peace. He maintained hope in the face of atrocity. He said
“I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying”. The very worst face of humanity. He found out what it meant to pursue reconcilliation…PEACEMAKING IS NOT SITTING ON YOUR HANDS. It is active and it is hard work. Hope does not flourish when we are selfish. These are traits that we need to pursue.

So tell me church. As you wait for Gods redeeming work to complete where can you join him??? This week…pray about where you can be peace. Look for the subtle cracks in broken relationships, the fissures that could explode into anger. Where can you join in the work that He is already doing? Where can you stand against the gap maker?

“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

(My kids lit the advent candles tonight…I near died it made my heart ache in the very best way.)

The first candle of Advent is the candle of Hope; the second is the candle of Peace. We light this candle to remind us that our Lord Jesus brings peace to all who trust in Him.

Let us pray:

Loving God, thank You for the peace You give to us through Jesus. May Christ’s light shine in our lives, showing us the path of peace between God and all people. Help us to prepare our hearts to receive His peace. We ask in the name of the One born in Bethlehem. Amen.

PEACE (Advent)And every time I try and speak someone says what I want to say about 8000 times better. OH Ann Voskamp. THIS.

When I am a Mountain

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Oh God. You know it in me don’t you? The way I ache to be the kind of woman who tells the mountain to move and it does. But so often, don’t you see me? Apologizing for the inconvenience I caused the mountain. Did I ask too much of you? You…Mountain…you were just so comfortable there.

 

I don’t think it has ever been faith that has been my problem. It is so much larger than that mustard seed you talked about, the truth is it has always seemed to fill the whole space in my heart. The size of a kidney bean at the very least. And yet? These mountains keep filling my whole vision.

 

You see, I am desperate for the mountains to move, the ones in my heart that eclipse you, the ones that have names and the ones that have been there for so long they feel like they belong to the landscape. They can move though…can’t they? Take a stick of dynamite to me if you must. Explode me from the inside out, as long as this heart beats pure and true.

You can split me open like an egg if you want to. Shatter all these shells I wear. You can stir me up and serve me out as long as they shout about Your Glory when we are done.

You can wear me out like small boys jeans. Wear me weak in the knees where I bowed low to lift you high if that is what it takes for me to fall into the shadows. Spent to the end on your behalf as long as when it’s over the threads are bare in all the right places.

 

 

You can burn me down, plunder me bankrupt as long as You make the ash a Phoenix and the mountains are nothing but the place from which the spirit wind blows and lifts me high.

Create in me a clean heart Oh God.

(Missing this space, the few who gather here…so I will be hitting publish more often. Hoping if I just turn the tap back on the water will start flowing? Linking with Emily and the sisterhood over at She Loves)