If He Hangs His Guitar In Your Room, It’s A Done Deal

I’ve been married for two months now; we celebrated our anniversary last night with dinner at Five Guys (fun and YUM and who in the WORLD can eat that many fries, anyway?) and a trip to the Apple Store (just looking….)

At our age, we’ve decided to maximize our time and celebrate every month.
And thus far, here’s some of what I’ve learned:
  • Talking is good. Talking equals communication. Making assumptions can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Talking can fix that.
  • It’s really nice to share the load of stuff like getting up early, washing dishes, cleaning bathrooms, etc. Especially the getting up early part.
  • When kids are raised with grace, they tend to offer it fairly easily. And that is a beautiful thing to watch.
  • It’s kind of cool to have a guitar hanging in your bedroom.
  • I’m a better person when I laugh a lot. And being married has led to a lot of laughter. Which was unexpected.
I like being married. Actually, I liked being single, too. But this is different, and rich and rewarding. And every day feels like a gift.

It’s Amazing What A Little Whining Will Get You

If you were at PCC on Sunday, you heard our pastor’s sad story about his inability to get his hands on the snack food in the house – specifically, the Oreos. After admitting to compromising his integrity and being busted by his amazing wife, apparently some folks felt sorry for him.

This is just PART of his new private stash, thanks to some kind and generous folks who have stopped by to show their love for their pastor. Or maybe it’s more like enabling his addiction….

On Giving Up And Bringing Back

It is Monday. The rhythm of my week is such that Monday often brings a welcome respite of a whirlwind of activity. Many of us who lean into Sunday as the highlight of of our work week find Monday as a necessary day of rest and recovery, not only of physical energy but (even more so) of mental and emotional rejuvenation.

However, my schedule has been such that I couldn’t take Mondays off. There’s too much to do to prepare for the week. This afternoon I have a meeting scheduled.
But I gave myself permission this morning to escape the massive amount of pressure looming around my personal and workplace responsibilities. It’s been a quiet day at home, with a few work-related things tended to, but mostly just being here. I was here to braid my daughter’s hair and talk about…well, stuff. I was here to get dinner started in the crock pot. I was here to talk to my mom on the phone without feeling rushed. I was here to listen to a recording of my brother’s most recent talk at his church, and to find out that he just finished an application to begin seminary studies (that’s me you see, the big sister beaming with pride.)
I’ve been thinking about Lent, and about how little my life changes to observe this season of sacrifice. I cling to the writings of those who practice Lent, but it’s from afar. It’s not internal. I just watch. I don’t think you get credit for voyeuristic Lenten sacrifice.
So I’ve wrestled with the notion of “giving up” something – chocolate? The internet? Caffeine? Soda?
I decided on none of those things, because, to be honest, my heart is not in it. I would be engaging in the practice simply to keep up appearances. As necessary as it is to cleanse my soul of some things and to make a sacrifice, the frenetic reality of my current circumstances makes “giving up something for Lent” simply another thing to check off on my to-do list. And I am convinced that to offer sacrifice like that renders it pretty much worthless.
But this morning, I balanced these thoughts with something definitive and specific, an action that I took in order to observe the brilliant opportunity of the day and the utter luxury of the time and space around me.
I held to my own time apart. I stayed home, spoke with my daughter. Fixed a meal for my family.
And I was quiet. I turned off all electronics and sat on the couch. When the rain began, I heard it and I noticed.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I fell asleep for a short time.
But somehow, I think that this quiet is exactly what my Sabbath ought to look like.

You Know You’ve Had A Tough Week When…

I’m folding laundry, watching old episodes of The Office on Hulu, and bawling like a baby.

Quite irrationally.


A Freaking Radical

Sitting in Barnes & Noble with my daughter, in something of a holding pattern.

I read this post, and sorrow or something like it enveloped my chest, crawled up through my throat and leaked out of my eyes.
I don’t know why it struck me so powerfully. Perhaps because I am in a season of walking through a land that is littered with dry bones and carcasses. Maybe because I have a deeper sense of the fragile hold we have on the simplest of things, like just making sense of life. Maybe because I’ve had the painful privilege of holding hands with some friends and family members through a broken, desperate time.
Maybe because walking through my current book study on the crazy, relentless, all-powerful love of God, my eyes are being opened to glory of a magnitude that I have never considered.
Whatever the factors, I know this: the faith I have in God continues to deepen. I do not have to imagine or invent it. Something literally has taken hold in the deepest part of me and is rooted, immovable. It is intrinsic to my life.
It is a mystery to me.
I speak occasionally of the fact that the God we celebrate on Sundays is mysterious and supernatural. There is some definitive power in Jesus that is beyond our understanding and, to some degree, beyond rational thought or reason.
Milton Brasher-Cunningham wrote about the transition from Epiphany to Lent, about “our picture of Jesus moving from the One Who Came to the One Who is Going to the Cross.” And it just shredded me.
Not long ago we celebrated the birth of the baby, the iconic, helpless infant who was somehow part of Creation and key to Redemption. And in the liturgy of the structure of Christian faith, we are quickly swept along through the season, from Christmas to Easter, to the horrific, tortured death of that same baby.
Brasher-Cunningham writes:

“…moving into Lent moves us from rejoicing in the compassion of God in human form to the somber reality of Jesus’ example of what it means to be human calling us to our own more authentic and dangerous existence. Long after Magi and mangers, we are left with a Messiah who is a freaking radical.”

I think this resonates with me today at the core of my maternal heart, which – after five kids and a lifetime impacted by my role as a parent, is the deepest, most definable part of me.
The concept of a baby growing through childhood into her “more authentic and dangerous existence” hits my tender spot today.
Brasher-Cunningham ends his post with welcome anticipation of what kind of “glorious damage an untamed God can do.” It is not without pain, tears, and gut-wrenching sobs. But, in God’s hands, it is glorious indeed, and the violence to our bodies done by the wild mercy of a freaking radical is bearable.
Because in the end, love wins.
By the way, Milton blogs at Don’t Eat Alone. Every year, he writes a disciplined series of posts through Lent. It has been a consistent part of my faith journey for a few years now. I encourage you to read him, daily, from today through Easter. Find him at donteatalone.blogspot.com. You can start today.

No One Will Remember You

A while ago, I mentioned here that I’m leading a small group through Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

We’re on Chapter 2.
And reading this, I find myself pretty much slapped.
Frankly, you need to get over yourself….God has allowed hard things in your life so you can show the world that your God is great and that knowing Him brings peace and joy, even when life is hard...To be brutally honest, it doesn’t really matter what place you find yourself in right now.

In about fifty years (give or take a couple of decades), no one will remember you. Everyone you know will be dead. Certainly no one will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended or what clothes you wore. This can be terrifying or reassuring, or maybe a mix of both. – Francis Chan (emphasis mine)

In the same chapter, he unpacks the utter arrogance of worry and stress for somebody who says they believe in God.
Well, then.
This is a hard book. But growth is hard.
I hope I’m growing.

Valentine’s Day 2010

It’s different this year. I’m married.

We have some history, and our Valentine’s Day celebration allowed us to revisit some things.
A great meal at a favorite restaurant. Homemade cards. Great conversation.
And then he went to bed. The man is TIRED, I tell you! He works hard, seven days a week.
So I’m up, winding down the day, hanging with the kids. And thinking about love and Valentine’s Day. Interesting how the joy of a love that is grounded and secure widens a heart to love even more. I’m thinking about that.
And thinking about the male species. Valentine’s Day seems extraordinarily unfair to them, in some ways. Lots of expectations. My friend Scott wrote a great essay on that topic that you ought to read.
Anyway, thinking about guys. Watching my eldest son grow older and taller, listening to his voice deepen and marveling at what happens to boys as they turn into men. Watching him interact with a special girl who seems to have captured his attention. Thinking about how weird that is.
And thinking about my dad.
He was always my hero. He could fix anything (though my mom might argue about who actually did most of the home repairs). He rebuilt the engine of my first car, a ’67 Mustang (which I think, in retrospect, might have been more for him than me – but what a SWEET car!) He taught me how to do an oil change. He rolled his eyes when I called him from college – six hours away – because I had a flat tire and needed him to come help me. He talked to me about budgeting and relationships and music and sales and half the time I fought everything he told me.
Of course, now that I’m all grown up, I realize how incredibly wise he was.
He’s been a shoulder to cry on throughout the worst times of my life. He’s been a champion for my kids when they needed it most.
I love my dad. I get so caught up in the busyness of my life that I don’t take the time to tell him enough. But here’s what I know:
  • He loves me. I’ve never doubted my daddy’s love.
  • He loves my mom. They’re working on fifty years of marriage. Isn’t that amazing?
  • He loves God, and he loves his church.
  • He loves his family – all seven grandkids and everybody else.
By all rights, it’s a miracle that my dad is alive in 2010. Just a few years ago a rogue blood vessel burst in his brain. We lost him for a while, to the tubes and machines of the ICU.
But we got him back. He’s here, alive and kicking, rocking in his Papa chair, watching Antique Roadshow and keeping me updated on all the things that I need to know.
He still loves me.
And I love him.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Dad.

Called Up

Unbelievable to me how things come together.

I have this huge heaviness in my heart for Haiti.
Our church donates thousands of dollars for earthquake relief, all of which we sent to Haiti via the Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief Fund.
Today, my dear, awesome and amazing friend Jackie texts me with some incredible news about Haiti.

“Guess what? As part of the disaster relief team, I have been called up for Haiti. As long as I can get my flight money together, I leave Feb 22.”

I feel like I’m part of something amazing.
Not that this is all about me, but what other perspective do I have?
All I know is that everywhere I look – under, over, sideways – I see grace. The grace of purpose and redemption, healing and hope, forgiveness and future.
And people who are willing to go to the ends of the earth to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

You can help. Contact me to find out how.