Monday, December 7, 2015

No place like home......

For the past seven years I have been what I suppose you could call “Short term living.” I have not lived in the same place for over a year in these past seven years. I have slept on so many different beds, sofas, floors, and air mattresses. I have slept over night in many eclectic places including maids quarters, offices, church basements, air planes, buses, and even a table at the train station. I have moved near and far using suitcases for some transports, boxes for others, and grocery sacks for the more questionable and close by stays. I have crammed as much as I could into my car for stateside moves and pushed the weight limits with American Airline. As of February I will break down the boxes, hand over the keys to my car, burn every plastic bag I own, and hopefully put up the suitcases for a good while. 

Anyone who has traveled and lived out of suitcases knows how exhausting it can be to not feel as though you can lay down roots. There is a constant longing to just be home and to know that one day you wont have to pack a suitcase once a week, pack boxes every six months, reevaluate what should be held onto and what should be thrown away. You long for a day when you no longer will have to haul things from airport to airport, bus station to bus station, country to country, state to state. 

After more than seven years of sojourning from my fathers home I will have a place to truly call home. Home for me was never a place, It was more an idea surrounding a place. A home is a  place surrounded in love warmth and belonging. A place that is nurtured and cared for of your own efforts. A place where your family stays and a place where your family is surrounded in a sense of security. Home is where kids want to go after a day at school, a weekend at grandmas, or a day out with friends because they know it is a safe place for them to lay down their heads and to be cared for, it is a sanctuary. That is something I have always felt in going to my home congregation in Papillon Nebraska. I am thrilled and delighted that my journey continues out of that home as I will walk down the isle in February and be joined to the love of my life before God and my church family. 
I wonder if this is what God would have us find in His house; a home. For this past year I have been struggling in the new place of service I have been put. It is not my home, I feel as though I had been taken from family and friends of my earlier place of service and I felt as though I had been abandoned in a place that was the furthest thing from home I have known. I am not just speaking of the location of my ‘house” I include the church in this description of home. People were not as inviting as in my earlier location, the struggles were bigger, the challenges harder, and the situation more lonely. I slipped in and out of depression and longed every day for any other place other than the place I was in. After a long bout of this a still small voice came to me and said; “You get to practice being a mother.” I have always wanted to be a mother. I want my own children, but it took me a bit to understand what “mother” in this context meant. For me, it meant fostering and nurturing relationships with people who weren't exactly pulling me close. It meant caring for a people who would not identify me necessarily as family. It meant worrying for a people’s spiritual growth who had become stagnant and luke warm to the faith. It meant going where I didn’t want to go and showing them what I had always been shown by the members of First Lutheran church. 
Now, with almost one year (ALMOST), we are beginning to be family. I am beginning to understand better that to be “mother” is more than taking on a title and caring for cute littles. It is a task of endurance, perseverance. It is messy, not at all glamorous, it is thankless,  it is uncertain as to if you are ever doing a “good job” it is draining and it is the most rewarding task in which you can apply yourself.  At the end of the day, when I see my students leave class with more joy and assurance that they are in church to receive good things from a loving God, then that is thanks and reward enough. When I see them start to understand that this is their home where they can feel secure and safe, and loved, then I know God is working to bring unity, faith, and fellowship in His family. I believe that Church was meant to be family. We were meant to know that sense of sanctuary and stability wherever we unite to hear the word of God and to receive Christ’s body and blood. I doubted that I would see the day where the people where I serve would break forth from a stagnant luke warm faith that comes to church out of obligation as opposed to desire. I now know God has equipped me to to be a part of that transformation. He showed me in the home He gave me what it looks like so I could share that vision with the people here. I thank God for the opportunity to know and share what it means for a Church to be a home, especially in this advent season as we reflect on what it meant for Christ to leave his heavenly home to take on flesh and blood. I pray you all have a blessed advent season!

God Bless! 

Hebrews 11:13-14New King James Version (NKJV)

The Heavenly Hope

13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them,[a] embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

We’ll get together then….

“When my son turned ten just the other day
Said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on and let's play
Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today
I got a lot to do" he said, "That's okay"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know, I'm gonna be like him"

Those are the words from the well known Harry Chapin song; Cats in the Cradle. Thanksgiving day those words were ringing in my mind as I helped in an endeavor to clean out the church a bit. I was first in charge of cleaning out the office. There was dust, dead and live cockroaches, cobwebs, bird feather, and so much more. All of this pales in comparison to what I had to clean in the kitchen. I’ll give you a hint; they are small white, look like a worm and are often found with rotting meat….ewww ewww ewww!!! Anyway, as I cleaned that office I found many interesting things, among which were un-gifted mothers day and fathers day gifts, kindergarten graduation plaques of some of the kids from church, old event programs, toys, and a few unused and used baseballs. 
As I looked at those baseballs the earlier mentioned song came to mind. I could give them to any of the boys in church but who would play catch with them? Of course they have their friends, but in my mind for whatever reason I was stuck on the idea that it should be their father. I started to think of what a system we take for granted. The whole concept of “family” is being trashed and redefined, while I sit in the D.R. and can clearly see how much a young boy needs a father. Those baseballs reflected the relationship of father and son as it is seen here in the D.R., dusty and foreign. Dads may not be consumed with power, money, or other things, but they certainly are not concerned so much for their own children either. If they were concerned they would know the best thing for a child is to know the love of both parents. They would know that even at a distance their children look to them to see and know what type of person they should aspire to be. They would know they are being watched and longed for. 

Color the page however you like, one truth remains; when young men don’t have proper role models and the women of a culture do not value a man for what he has to offer towards the upbringing and development of not just the child but the family, the system falls apart. Try teaching respect to children who run the home without a father present. Try encouraging young men to be good leaders when the only leader he knew was his mother who spoke ill of all men. Try telling an adolescent boy raised by a single mother that if he impregnates a young girl, he too holds a responsibility to love, care and protect child and mother; he would tell you that he isn’t needed. After all, his mom did it all without a man. Little boys don’t just grow up to treat women how they treat their moms; they grow up to treat their moms the way they see their fathers treating their moms, and their wives the same.

I thank God for being true man! I thank God that he is bigger than any feministic narrow minded b.s. and knew all our needs before we ourselves knew them. He knew we would need a true father. From stupid men who do not own their masculinity to stupid women who emasculate the men, God knew it only would take one perfect man to break that cycle of stupidity. One man to die. One man to humble himself in order that we might have an Eternal father in heaven. As I looked at those baseballs I felt a bit sad, but then I looked up and noticed down the isle was the font. The very place where we are made children of God and given back all that was lost and made heirs of our heavenly father. I’m so thankful this season no only for my earthly father, future husband, and all the other men who have looked to God first and foremost for an example of masculinity, but I am also thankful for my heavenly Father who is perfect Man for all and the One I can look to when other men fall short of knowing how to be man.  

Matthew 23:9Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

ENCAUSTIC -An ode to my sister; the artist. For the celebration of her 34th year of life.

It is funny how things in life artistically collide and life seems to play out like paint upon a canvas. At times things don’t always make sense, but then all of a sudden a splashing and whirlwind of colors adds chaos for a moment, and sense in the end. It’s like the shifting of nothingness, void, and silence to a cosmic clash of “Let there be” and there was.

 I was reading Psalm 19 this morning and thinking about this beautiful wonderful world that we live in. That the sun and the moon and all that there is would proclaim a creator, would shout to a broken world; “There is a God, and my existence proves you are not it.”

In reading Psalm 19 this morning I could not help but think of the Scientist who dedicates his life to knowing and understanding the very workings and intricacies of science. He dedicates his life perhaps to one specific area, let’s say…the sun (for convenience sake). He masters his own understanding of the “sun” and it’s movements and makings. He knows it’s composition and where it sits in the heavens. He studies this ball of gas for the entirety of his life and enjoys it’s offerings and benefits until the day he dies. Assuming he is not a believer in intelligent design, he can’t tell you exactly how it came to be that this particular ball of gas, upon which the whole world is dependent came to be at it’s exact location, just far enough away from the earth to bring life. Moving just so to give us humans the exact amount of rest we need, and the earth the exact amount of light she needs. He would never tell you that the cosmic ball of gas is a way in which God cares for His creation. He would never tell you that that this specific star, bows lower than all the other stars because One made it to do so, and it’s very nature of being declares praise and honor to Him who created it because it responds to His voice of “Let there be.” It responds to His voice when He says; “arise shine,” in the new day. It responds just as those who were created by Him and know Him respond when he says “Get up and walk,” “Your sins are forgiven,” “Your faith has made you well.” In fact this scientist will never know anything beyond a textbook knowledge of the sun because he will never touch it and know it, nor know The very source of its light and the One who tames and claims the light.

The Scientist could never fully understand and master his knowledge of the sun because he is not master of it, and he doesn’t even associate himself with The Master. Nor are we truly master of anything in this life, which brings me back to my sister. She is an artist. An amazing one at that. The life and breath she gives to her art is amazing and continues to place me in awe and utter respect of her talents. She has an art show tomorrow and it is the hope (I believe) of every artist to sell their work so they may continue to dedicate their energies to that creative process. I imagine it to be a painful process of letting go. As I looked at the pieces she will display, I thought about how much I have left to pay off on my loans and wondered if I could buy any of her work. You see, to have a piece of her art for me, means something more than for someone else. That art is what takes her away from us. That art is a part of her. It is her time, her energies, her investment, and her expression and understanding of the world. To have a piece of it would be to see through a window into her brain, or to have a small marking of her upon this world, or to have a small piece of her with me. That is something money can’t pay for. At the same time this understanding of the artist and her work gives depth and breath to understanding a creating God, a sending God, and a sacrificial God (Just to be clear, I’m not calling my sister a God). 

The investment of time and energy and being into a body of work, and she will put it out there to be admired, potentially bought, but also criticized. If bought, she will have to part with it for the sake of further creation. It’s funny how life naturally takes on an order and sacrificial system that gives testimony to what God has done, and continues to do for us. I doubt whoever buys her work will pay enough for it (even if they pay full price), nor will they appreciate it enough, but they and others will look upon it and wonder and marvel at it. Perhaps if they are reflective they might even think about the artist or creator and wonder what she is like, what caused her to create such bodies of work and where did her inspiration come from, and that will cause greater appreciation for the work. My sister is an amazing artist, but God is an amazing creator that breathed the breath of life into us, calls us His own, and sent us His son to die for us. Believers or not, we all sit beneath the same sun that gives life and light to all creation given by and giving testimony to One true God and creator of all. For that life and light that He gives, I give thanks, especially today; the day my sister; the artist was born.  

Psalm 19New King James Version (NKJV)

The Perfect Revelation of the Lord

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

19 The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line[a] has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
12 Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Wash, Rinse, Repeat....

So here I go! New city same old mental struggles. It’s so frustrating when you seem to get over one difficulty you find yourself facing the same problem all over again. The scene looks different, but it deceives you into making the same mistakes. I don’t know about you, but “fresh” starts never really worked for me, my room always ended up messy like before, and my bad habits always manage to creep in. Sort of like moving to a new city with a bag full of hopes and dreams, only to find that doubt, fear, laziness, anger, and all forms of insecurity weren’t left behind but crept into the bag as well. Shouldn’t problems be like a bridge? Once you get over them it’s done? 
Every day I wake up I find the vulgar saying of “Same (insert strong word for fecal mater) different day” to be true. I still have to learn Spanish, and now I have to adjust to a new accent. I still have to get up in the morning, I still have to cook my own meals and put my pants on one leg at a time. That’s not what is hard though. What is hard is when you wake up and realize your a big sinner that has fallen into the same patterns and ways of thinking as before.
I was doing it all right! Even better than before in my eyes! I was reading my Bible, praying on a regular basis, studying and seeking other ways in which I might grow in what I had learned. What I found wasn’t peace, but that I was trying to justify old sins with new Godly habits. “I’m submerged in the Word of God, I’m doing what it takes to be a “Good Christian” so God is on my side and knows all that I am doing, right? So He will take care of it.” Except when He doesn’t, because sometimes he wont. Sometimes God is silent.
I found that sometimes when I think I am fully leaning on God I am really leaning on my own ability to lean upon Him.  It’s like I embrace my need for Him and even take pride in it, when He would have me learn better how to lean on Him. I guess you could say it is like using God as a crutch when He is so much more for us. Sometimes I pridefully think I have mastered the crutch, and then I realize I need two crutches, or a wheelchair or something else. My wonderful “husband to be” reminded me of a great quote by Luther while trying to comfort me. He said; “Katie, remember what Luther said” I was being smart with him and responded with “Which time?” and he lovingly carried me through what he wanted to share and said; “He said; ‘pray as if everything depends upon God, and live as if everything depends on you.” At first I thought “Well I would rather just pray” but with some reflection I realized I had been living as if everything depended on God, and praying as if it all depended upon me. As if God would fix my situation because; Hey! I asked. 
The wonderful thing about our God is that he does not rob us of our abilities to do things of our own while He walks with us. Like Adam and Eve when he let them loose in the garden and trusted them knowing full well where it would lead them. Like Aslan, our God is not a tame lion. He may listen when we call, but may not always answer. He is not at our bidding. He is like the “abusive” parent that teaches their children by letting them fall and hurt themselves so they know better when to ask for help (I’m using the word “abusive” sarcastically).  He gives us all that we need to support this body and life, it is up to us to know how to use what He has given us, and not abuse it or think we play some passive role in it all while waiting for God to fix it all. Our God allows us to ask great things, and our God is so great, that He would use us to carry out those great things despite ourselves.  

Luke 22:44-46
 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Well…let’s just say this is the ‘new normal’

Based on the title, I bet you think this is going to be something on the whole Jenner sex change thing. Well…to be honest the whole story makes me sick to my stomach and sad. I feel helpless in that battle and desperate to defend my own sex, but my own sex sort of bashed what makes woman wonderful by getting caught up on making women equal. So that battle is lost. No, I wanted to focus on something different and encouraging to remind us that the “old normal” can be enough for us to deal with without needing a “new normal” to have to wrap our minds around. 

I was at church on Sunday and went to go greet one of my friends. As I drew in for a hug an offensive smell of nasty old perfume hit my nostrils, it was a smell I didn’t catch until it was too late. It doesn’t matter if you are a “hugger” or not, we all know what it is to hug someone and all a sudden you have their smell in your nose for the whole day. I make a conscious effort to smell good most days. I remember sitting at a luncheon (of some wonderful lovely ladies who I am sure read this blog!) and one of the women around the table made mention that someone smelled good. I had some bath and body lotion on, so I said; “Oh, it might be me! I have some lotion on” to which the kind wonderful good humored lady said; “Oh no Katie, I don’t think it is you. No offense, but this smells expensive!” From that day I made a bit more of an effort to smell “expensive” too. I also recall coming home last year and one of my favorite things to do when waiting in the airport is to go to those duty free shops and smell all the expensive (on a whole new level) perfumes. I recall thinking on this one particular trip home that I wanted a bouquet of wonderful aromas to hit my nieces nose when she saw me for the first time in almost a year. I remember thinking when I was little how important smell was towards knowing and understanding people. Mrs. Neighbor; she smelled soft and light a lot like her personality. Then there was a teachers aid that always smelled of winter fresh gum, which fit because she was fresh and young too. My cousin smelled of CoolWater perfume which was cool, because she was and is cool. My grandmother smelled of Elizabeth Arden’s “Red Door” and my mom smelled of cinnamon gum and soft lotions while my father smelled of Old English or Old Spice. I wanted Junie to smell something exotic, fresh and fun so that when she saw her aunt she would associate those smells with me. 
So now that you understand the importance of smell to my senses, let me return to the earlier story. Needless to say, I smelled “expensive” on Sunday, until I was hugged by the earlier mentioned person. It is interesting to think of the engagement our senses have in something as simple as a hug. When you hug someone who smells soft it is like being wrapped in a warm blanket that just came out of the dryer and smells clean and fresh. When you hug someone that smells like Winterfresh gum you suddenly feel rejuvenated and like maybe you need a piece of gum too. When you hug someone with fresh, floral scents, an imagery of floating flowers ascending and streamers of bright colors floating from the warm embrace fill your mind. A bit cheesy; yes! But, when you hug someone with stinky perfume that counteracts with your “expensive” perfume and lingers with you all day, that just stinks; literally! No pun intended. 

So I tried to wrap my mind around what this scent bore with it, and I found a lesson. I realized that sometimes we don’t like certain smells but we bear with them. A diaper for example; I remember my friend jokingly telling me once that “God knew I needed cute kids” because they can be such little stinkers sometimes, but there is a level of truth in that. What happens when we take away the cuteness and we take away the beauty and all we are left with is a big pile of stink? I think that is what my true scent would be. It makes sense why churches use incense. I was told it was to help us transcend and understand that we enter into a holy space, I think in all reality it also has to do with a masking of all the stinky perfumes that you smell around you, and all the bad b.o. that people bring with them into the church. So we continue with an age old tradition of masking the smell and stench of our sin. We cover it up and call it “the new normal,” “expensive” or “fresh.” when if you take it away, all we are left with is a bunch of sinners seeking acceptance from our brother as opposed to our God.
I recall my father doing a reoccurring advent devotion for the high school youth on how Christ in the flesh is significant for us because it means he is intimately connected and understanding of what it means to be human. He knows what it means to wake up with morning breath, to smell and feel like you need a shower at the end of the day, to feel trapped inside a body that doesn’t quite feel right. He also knows what it means to smell of heaven, to be holy, to not just be covered with a smell, but to be wrapped in it and exuding that smell. I often wonder what hugging Jesus might have been like. Would it have been like hugging someone who smelled of sweat, earth, and garlic, or perhaps there was a bit more to who he was as a human. A smell that transcends scent and not only embraces you, but also offends you because you are confronted with your own sin. You are confronted with something that reminds you that you really don’t smell so “expensive” and your neighbor doesn’t really smell of “old nasty perfume.” You are reminded of your need to bathe, and your inability to wash that nasty scent away. Christ calls us to sit among sinners and to even hug them in a way so as their scent messes our own up and makes us uncomfortable. We are to love our neighbor that much, because Christ loved us that much. I can’t say that I am always good about that, understanding, or embracing of that truth. But I am thankful that on account of Christ’s sacrifice, we obtain a sweet aroma pleasing and acceptable to the Lord. We don’t need a “new normal.” We have the age old Holy One of Israel who covers us and makes us clean even when we thought we had come to Church in our Sunday best.    

2 Corinthians 2:15-17New King James Version (NKJV)

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many,[a] peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.

Friday, April 3, 2015

For all Fridays....

Today during the Good Friday sermon (We had service early in the morning here), my mind began to wander as it often does. Today during the sermon, I thought; “What would be, and is most important and essential to communicate to the people here on a Good Friday morning in the Dominican Republic. I thought about how many of them were probably thinking about what they were going to do after the service, and maybe they were thinking about going swimming or to the beach after the service. I started to think about how the service and life in the Dominican look so different from what I used to know. Then I started to think about what it was that Christ would have been thinking in the moment of his suffering. 

While all the rest of us were thinking of something else, what was he thinking? I don’t think he was held up on the cross thinking thoughts of pity towards his killers, nor in want of physical need, nor in torment of spiritual and emotional sorts, or even what he would do as soon as he got back to heaven. I think he was thinking of the final word more than anything. I think he was thinking of the point, the goal, and the end of it all. I think he was thinking of me and you by thinking of that final word he spoke upon the cross, and when he said it, he was saying it for me and for you. 

While the rest of us sit and think of things during the sermon, like the absence of a loved one, the death of another, the illness of a beloved, or simply the plans for the day, Christ cries “It is accomplished” over us. Why is this so significant? It is significant and important because when he said those words upon the cross, they were words for all time. It was a declaration and a war cry to say; this is what I came for and not only is the task completed, but those things that we sit and think about have been accomplished in Him. While we focus on ourselves, He was focusing on us and our need for him. He hung, and died on the cross, knowing he had to do it, and that he would say those words on the cross and that we would be reconciled to him. He set his eyes upon an end goal and while the words of “it is accomplished” must have settled on the ears of onlookers as a fine ending to a story, it became a declaration for all stories past, present and future. Our sins have been removed; it is accomplished. Our salvation has been won, it is accomplished. The scriptures were fulfilled, it is accomplished. The power once held over us by sin, death, and the devil have been defeated, it is accomplished. This Friday is especially “good” because we remember the victory gained and accomplished for us, and thanks be to God for this Jesus Christ who has done it and done all things for us, and done them well.  

Mark 7:36-37

36 Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.(A) But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.37 People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Terrifying Heights and Depths of Love

Not too happy about leaving...

These past few months have been a series of new experiences for me. I have experienced a lot of firsts; first boyfriend, first time in Argentina, first view of one of the seven wonders of the world, and first kiss….opps….WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION!!!!! Besides, we don’t do that, we just hold hands. Anyway, this being my first relationship I am finding new things to worry about. There is a deep fear I know now that I knew very little of before. When I was young I used to have these entertainings of “what if’s” that I would play out in my mind. I would think “What if someone I love dies!?” Now, with a hope of “till death do us part” in view, I face those fears again and multiplied by ten. We often think of this promise carrying us into our old age. He’s supposed to be the one beside me and I by him supporting one another as life comes and goes. So I have these visions of him holding me when my dad dies. Then what? What about when mom dies, or if we loose a child, or the worst fear of all, if he dies and then there is none beside me!? When these thoughts come upon me I realize that it is a dangerous thing to love another. A terrifying, dangerous and paralyzing thing to truly love another. So while more often than not, our fears remain fears and only cost us energy, it raises another question for me; how dangerous is my love for Christ? If this is the fear I have for the man that God placed in my life, what is the fear for The God Man who laid down His life for me? Is there a fear? If love is truly a dangerous thing, and Christ is perfect love, what does it all mean? 

I was reminded of one of my favorite authors who once wrote about a fear using the illustration of a pair of pale green pants. The story is about a little boy who finds a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them and it frightens him. He runs from the pants until he discovers that there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place (In case you haven’t figured it out, that favorite author is none other than Dr. Seuss). These fears that I have might be nothing more than pale green pants with nobody inside them, there may not be anything to support these fears that I have, but what is more, is there is One who says there is nothing to even be afraid of. There is nothing to be afraid of because Perfect love casts out all fear. So when I was worrying about finding someone to share the rest of my life with, His perfect love was as work. While I am worrying and afraid of loosing the one I hope to spend the rest of my life with, His perfect love is at work. When one of the two of us who are given to other dies, His perfect love will be working. 
...but then we got another day together!

His love is dangerous and terrifying because, His love promises to be there even when the other loves fade, weaken, or die. Whats terrifying is that His love will be enough even when all we want is that hand to hold, the person to hug, or to see our children alive. What is terrifying is that we have to face the pale green pants with nobody inside them, and know that even if there was support for them, even if those pants take on a form and are filled with someone so strong to kick us down, we can face them and be kicked down because He was struck down first for us to offer us eternity. I pray our greatest fears never take form and kick us down, and for those of you for whom they already have, I pray His grace be sufficient for you and His power made perfect in your weakness. Whats terrifying is loving the One who made the universe, trusting that He still holds this fragile world, and our frail flesh in His hands, and trusting that He will bring us safely home. What is terrifying is trusting the life of another to the One Who loved us with His own life. 

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lessons learned......

Now, for the whole world to know; I am engaged to a fine young man from Argentina who I was blessed to be able to spend some time with here in the states this past January. In that time we spent some time at my parents house. My parents have a dog. Her name is Ruby. Ruby has taught us many wonderful things and has made us quite frustrated with other things through the years. Ruby is a fine specimen but her family has made her fat and quite honestly put her at risk for many future health problems. The main problem is that Ruby is not taken on regular walks like she should be. My mother’s arm is weak and her pride too great to be taken on a walk by a dog. My fathers knees are bad, and his preferred form of exercise is the stationary bike. My excuse is that I am hardly home, although even when I am home my patience is so thin and motivation too low so that when I do finally get the urge to run or walk, I prefer to go solo and not have to control a dog. These past few weeks with my dear, sweet, saint of a fiancĂ© in town, showed me something new. Roberto, my saint of a fiancĂ© promised to take Ruby on a walk every day he was around. He held his promise and I affectionately started to refer to Ruby as “The other woman.” I went on some of those walks with Ruby and Roberto (Oh dear! Those names have a nice ring to them!). I watched as Roberto delighted in Ruby. He didn’t try to tame the beast, he just let her be. There was a careless freedom about her and I started to realize all these years there were two ways to walk with Ruby; She could take you for a walk, or you could let her walk. 
Often we joke about how you don’t walk Ruby, she walks you. That is to say, she pulls you along and makes it hard to keep up. She is so strong and fast. I took Ruby for a walk today and instead of yelling, and pulling on her leash and trying to maintain her, I let her pull me and I laughed instead. It was freeing to think; she is who she is and there really isn’t anything too wrong with that. She is a dog, she is supposed to bark, and run, and be an animal, I don’t need to try to tame her. We go to a  corn field where I often let her run wild. My dad claims that Ruby smiles. I think he is right. I watched Ruby run through the field with what seemed to be a smile on her face and I realized what a disservice I have done to her and to myself. She ran and bit at the snow, she sniffed out tracks. She was made to be excited, and happy to serve her master in retrieving things. We have tried to turn her into a garbage disposal, and a tame type of companion. Watching her be so happy made me happy. It gave me a small sense of gratification in seeing her run like a child without a care in the world. I let her walk, or rather run. Then, she walked with me for the remainder of the way home. 
It seems to me that we could say God is that way with us, but I think He calls us to be that way with others. I realized in watching Roberto and Ruby that Roberto is the type of person that looks at others for the good and mirth God placed in them. I have been reminded by my family that Roberto is a wonderful man and it makes me wonder how many faults he has already overlooked deciding to delight in my redeemable qualities. 

We often create standards and worlds for ourselves that demand that others fit into them, not that we adjust to fit into others worlds. We have to have things just so, or under our control. Ruby is still a naughty dog that needs correction, but she also obtains qualities and characteristics that will not change despite my many attempts to change her. This is not a plea for coexistence or tolerance or any of the other words society has used to make the profane holy acceptable and pleasing in the eyes of all people even Christians. This is to say that perhaps our love for others is limited by an inability to recall that we are all sinners and all have fallen short of the glory of God.  Meaning; what if we learned from Roberto and Ruby and allowed ourselves to be uncomfortable with other sinners, and know that God doesn’t just call us to know that we are redeemed, but to know that others are redeemed as well. God calls us to help our brother to live in that new identity just as we live in our own baptismal identity. 

Philippians 2:14-16Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.