Friday, July 31, 2015

Truth Telling, Light Shedding

This summer is flying by.

Late at night a few friends of mine and I sat outside our favorite restaurant next to the train tracks here in town. We talked about honesty, raising kids and living our faith. So much of what is said by Christians can often be boiled down to "God just wants you to be happy" and "If you do x you will reap a great reward." Yes, but also - no. Not at all. Just as I feel it would be less than truthful to tell a young couple that their married life will be filled with nothing but joy and love, I can get uneasy with how so much of life is portrayed by well meaning, lovely people. Having babies is a joy, but it's also hard, lonely, exhausting - and sometimes those rewards, they don't show up the way you think they will. Having a lot of babies is all that and more - but the stresses are also more abundant.

My dearest friends are those who give voice to the difficulty - not because it is negative, but because it is truthful. And without truth, the stories we tell each other are just fairy tales. Truth isn't negative. Truth is light.

God is good, always. But is "good" always what we think it is? 

I think there's a fine line between telling the good stuff and telling only the good stuff. Life through a rose colored lens only gets you so far and is a disservice to those looking to you to see what life really looks like. It's something I've been challenged with a lot lately - do you tell people the truth or what they want to hear?

My cousin Libby says "Yes, God promises to give us the desires of our hearts - but maybe that only comes when our desires are aligned with His for us." I can feel the truth in that just like I can feel the strange peace that comes when I learn over and over again to hand over control. Like the smoothing of a pebble tossed in the waves, like silk in your hand.

A year after my husband loses his job, a year packed with getting back on our feet, an unexpected pregnancy and subsequent delight at welcoming another wonderful person - his team at his new job is being dissolved. Looking for work again after less than 12 months of employment. I have to say, it was hard to muster tears this time. Despite saying it out loud while holding a 2 month old baby in my arms - "I can't. I can't do that again. I can't do it," I had a strange feeling. This time is a little less desperate. A little less fearful. A little easier to shoulder the stress. Not just because I have seen how it can all work out, but because relying on God is a daily exercise. I feel stronger than last year because for the past 365 days I've loosened my grip on my life. On my desires. And yes, on my dreams.

The truth isn't that everything is going to work out the way you want it to. Believing that is the path disappointment, anxiety and disillusionment. No, the truth is struggle allows each step outside your comfort zone to evolve and adapt you, to change your perspective and challenge your limits. Not because it will be easy, or even satisfying. The rewards may never be tangible or immediate.

But God promises that our struggles here will yield perseverance, and if I look closely, I can see that growing here, in me.

The truth is - peace is a Person. And the closer I cling to him, the more I hand over the reins of my life here, the more I trust He works it all for good - the more I have.

It's a daily practice, this truth telling. But truth sheds light, and the brighter my vision, the more I can see Him working it all and ever for good.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Impossibly Possible

Have you given up yet?

It's tempting, right?

This world tells us to turn our backs, to toss it out, to stop believing in miracles. You can see the hopelessness spelled right out in every headline, in the embracing of idol worship in Detroit and in the defeated shrug of an affair website's byline: "Life's Short. Have An Affair."Because there's nothing else. Nothing better. May as well embrace the depravity.

Read the rest over at St. Luke Ann Arbor.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How To Dress A Girl You Love

I knit it for her when she was still inside, feathery fingering weight yarn in purest magnolia-white that just seem to go on forever, thousands of tiny stitches spelling out love. On Saturday I sewed on the two vintage glass buttons my cousin gave me from her grandmother's collection. On Sunday, I slipped it over her downy head in the nursery at church, moments before the start of the service. She slept soundly, wrapped in merino wool on a Sunday in July.

Magnolia Grace joined the family of Christ on July 19th and when our pastor held her up like a prize for the whole congregation to see welcome, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Being a Mother is always about letting go, nudging forward, releasing. Being a girl is always a gamble. Even in a country without sex selective practices and cultural preference for boys, being a girl is a risk. A liability. A marginalized state. Even in a country where girls can attend college or procure employment, they are objectified, labeled and boxed in from day one.

I have four daughters, a fact that can bring me to my knees with anxiety. Not because I don't adore each of my precious girls, but because I do. Because I want more for them than this world, this country, this culture can offer them. The pastor holds my girl up and I breathe easier because I remember - she's in His hands now.

I loved my girl Maggie before I ever saw her dear little face, held her tightly to my breast and inhaled her magical baby smell. Before I saw her, I knew her - kicking deep inside me while I crafted her grace-garment. I think about God on a dark night and how He's made one for me, too, something I'll never grow out of, something that expands as I age, something that I can put on every single day and hold close each and every night.

It's the only way I can navigate this world, with all it's clamoring seductions and sadness. Slipping on that garment of grace the only way I can bear to live another moment as one sin-sick human loving others similarly afflicted.

Something big enough to hold me and those I come in contact with. Something that is never too small to cover all. Every stress, panic attack, fear, sin, failing. Every heartbreak. Each and every thing swaddles snugly within the grace garment He wove especially for me.

My Magnolia sleeps soundly on my bed and I seal up her special gown, tuck it away in the closet until she's ready to pass it on. That's how grace works. It's never just for us. It's always big enough to be given away and my little Grace, she'll give it away someday - to a daughter or a niece or a granddaughter. That's how it's made to work. It is handed down from one generation to the next and we pass it on to one another like a talisman to guide us through, a solid promise that He will always be enough - for me, for her, for everyone who we come in contact with.

Knowing He is ever present and she is always, always swathed in purest white grace that comes from only one place.

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