Thursday, March 27, 2014

For the One Who Teaches Me

Dear Brady,

You are 8!  It's hard to believe it.  On one hand, your birth seems like lifetimes ago and it's difficult to remember a time when you were not a part of us, and yet when I look through old pictures, it seems like time is stuck in fast forward.  You are so big now that for the first time the other night I struggled to carry you, and I believe we carried you almost everywhere for the first three or four years of your life because you were so tiny.  We are seeing more and more of who you really are as you express your interests and show us your gifts.  It's quite a surreal thing to help create a being, carry it inside you, and then spend the rest of your life learning that person is an individual separate and different from you.  I'm so proud of who you are, and you inspire me in so many ways to continue growing and learning just as you are.

You made me a mommy, and that will be the greatest present I will ever have in my life.  And each day, you remake me as a mother, helping me to reach deep for the very best that is inside of me.  When I fail (which is often), you show me such love, forgiveness, and grace that I'm just overwhelmed by how you have surpassed me in understanding what is important.  You teach me every day about joy and being fully in the moment.  Thank you for waking us up every morning with an exuberant "Good Morning!!"  Even though I may groan, there couldn't be a better way to start off the day.  I love your excitement over what I think are the simple things, and I'm grateful that you inherited much of your daddy's laidback attitude.  When you do get worked up, you show us what is important to you, and force us to be better listeners.

May you always be uniquely you, the person God created you to be, not who I expect you to be.  May you keep learning and keep teaching me to see the beauty in all of our gifts and struggles.  May you always feel the deep love and admiration I have for you, and each time I touch your head, know that I'm thinking back fondly to that tiny miracle baby that changed my life for the good.

Happy birthday, sweet Brady James!

Happy 8th Birthday, Brady!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ashes to ashes

As an introvert, the season of Lent has always been one of my favorite times, a period designated for introspection.  But this year, I’m not feeling it.  No, more accurately, I’m feeling it too much.  There is so much that seems off with the world, my personal sphere and the greater world around me, and I don’t want to spend any more time reflecting on darkness and sin when I’ve been wearing these mourning clothes for too long already.  My heart is heavy with the burdens of ministry…the offhand prayer request that reveals so much worry and pain, the falling away of those I can’t seem to reach, and the questions of whether what I do really matters.  There is grief in my church, which brings old hurts to the surface of my own heart.  I want to look for light and hope, but instead see the dark clouds all around.

For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven:
A time for building up, and a time for breaking down,
A time for laughing, and a time for weeping.

Too much seems broken, and there are no more tears.

What kind of fast can I choose when I feel starved to the bone?  Why do we fast but you do not see?

Isaiah 58:1-12
58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.

58:2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

58:3 "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.

58:4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.

58:5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

58:8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

58:11 The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

58:12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

I want the ashes I wear today to remind me of the dust that comes from rebuilding, not destruction.  I desire a reminder of water in parched places.  I long to see the light of resurrection even as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

God, make my bones strong again, and let my light break forth like the dawn.  Let me find your healing in doing your work among the brokenness of your world.  In this season, help me to be reminded of your salvation, and may I carry that good news to others who are living among the ruins.  May you be our cornerstone as we begin to rebuild together.  Amen.