Archive | worship

sanctity of relationships?

My mom and I have been talking about the sanctity of life. She hasn’t just been convicted, she’s brave enough to tell me so. She prays with my dad about what we can do to protect it, this sacred thing. Shortly afterward, she finds herself making the first sacrifice. A giant pro-life sticker on her car. My mom hates being the center of attention. Driving around in the ‘life-mobile’ qualifies as noticeable. But she had just prayed. And the call was just to her. Would she like a giant sticker on her car? Not the idea of a sticker. The real, enormous, professionally applied thing. And she said “yes.”

Now, this isn’t about gun-control, I promise. I find that following a peaceful savior in a corrupt world leaves us with many confusing scenarios. I believe in a time for everything. I believe in personal choices. I’m not interested in discussing whether or not we should carry guns or ban certain kinds etc. Really-I’m not.

Though guns and bullets have been around for a long time, the latest craze about them happened after the Connecticut school shooting. I am proud of our country for still having enough sensitivity to be shocked over this crime. I hurt for the mommies and daddies who celebrated Christmas without their little ones. Nothing must feel more wrong than seeing the child whom you created, birthed, loved, raised, being lowered into the ground.

Needless to say, I am in no way trying to diminish what happened on that day. It was horrific. It is horrific. I am merely asking a question.

Did America truly mourn the life that was lost that day, or the relationships?

We are moved and saddened by the thought that those parents, siblings and friends of the children who were killed will have to go on without them. We see the pictures of the good times they had together, how happy they made each other, and we know that they’ll miss that so much. But what if those children had no one to miss them? What if, for the sake of the question, those children had been alone in this life?

What if someone had gone into an orphanage in Uganda and shot thirty children who had no family? What if their parents hadn’t wanted them and they had made no friends since they were abandoned? Would we mourn?

Do we honestly mourn the life that has gone out, or merely sympathize with those who are left with broken relationships?

This was all swirling in my head last night when my brothers and sister and I decided to watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. I thought I had seen it before, but it turns out it was all new to me. I didn’t know, until last night, that Indiana was a child-slavery abolitionist. I also didn’t about Short Round, who is, now, my favorite.

During the movie, a horrific Satan-worshipper yanks the heart out of this guy and then feeds him to a pit of fiery lava. The scene is somewhat gruesome and suspenseful (you wonder if anyone will save him) but crucial in showing how wicked these people are. They are under a sort of spell and have no sympathy for humanity. They don’t seem to feel bad that a man just lost his life in a torturous way, and neither does the audience. I mean, it’s awful, but we don’t feel a great loss.

Near the end of the movie, however (spoiler alert!) we see Willie, the blond love-interest to Indiana, being strapped into the iron cage to be lowered into the very same pit of lava. Despite the fact that Willie’s character is outright obnoxious and she and Indie don’t go together at all, I found myself gripping my fuzzy blanket as the scene progressed. I knew that Indiana wouldn’t let her die, but I let myself enjoy the suspense of the fictional moment. What would it feel like to be in that situation? How would I react? What must it feel like to be dipped in lava? How could I save a person who was in such a predicament? The scene continues slowly. Willie begs for her life and screams a lot. As the audience, we are rooting for Indie. Don’t let her die! Save her! This can’t happen!

Was I worried about seeing a body thrown into lava? No. I had seen that about half an hour before when the nameless man met his fate. Why, then, was I so tense? Because I knew Willie’s character. And I knew that Indiana was, for some reason, in love with her. And I knew her name and where she had come from. I didn’t want Willie to die, and neither did Indiana and Short Round, because we knew who she was.

Again, this isn’t to take away from the tragedy in Connecticut or any other shooting, but I must wonder if we are being all too much human in our preferences. Did we mourn those children just because they had families who loved them and we feel bad for said families? Just because we could see their pictures on tv and relate to them? Just because someone knew them and, to America, they had a name?

And here’s the really harsh part. A lot more children died that day than we acted like. A lot of children die every day. In Haiti, babies are left in latrines because their mother cannot care for them. In India, babies are killed at birth because they are born with female organs. In Africa, children are killed in war or die as slaves on cocoa farms, far from their families. And this stuff happens in America too. In Texas. In Connecticut. Nearby wherever you’re reading this from.

An estimated five children die in the United States every day at the hand of abuse. An American baby is aborted every 26 seconds. That’s nine innocent deaths every 4 minutes. 137 and hour. 3,288 a day.

26 seconds picmonkey

Contrary to what we like to think, those babies have faces too. They’re just not plastered on the news. They have memories, just not as many and they don’t include birthday cake or field trips. They have a family, a soul, a heartbeat (if they are 18 days or older) and were created in the image of God Almighty.

I know that there are children who have already been born who need our help and attention and care. That’s why I am so much an advocate of adoption, orphan-prevention and sponsorship for children living in poverty. I also know that the root of abortion is not the abortionists. We aren’t dealing with men with pointy tools chasing mothers down and forcing them into abortions (well, not typically.)

We are dealing with a lot of desperate people who don’t know where to turn. Terrified teen moms, insecure dads, parents who hold their reputation above the life of their grandchild, people who think that it’s wiser to have an abortion than to have a baby in college, people who don’t understand what “special needs” actually means, people who don’t know that every child is a blessing. A lot of people who don’t know.

They don’t know that their “pregnancy” has a heartbeat and fingernails.

They don’t know that a “special needs child” is actually just…a child.

They don’t know where to turn. 

And that’s partially my fault. The Church’s fault. I think we need to reach out to the moms and correct this issue from the ground up. But let’s start by admitting that this is an issue that we’ve let slip. Let’s admit that, whether you befriend a young mom today or convince a dad to take responsibility for his offspring or talk an abortion-worker over to “our side,” there are babies dying right now. How many since you started reading this post?

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why there’s nothing “conservative” about being a homemaker

vermeer.milkmaid

I am in no way against women working outside of the home or pursuing a career. What really irks and saddens me is that women so often base their worth solely on these things. The work done inside the home is so infinitely important and the work done in the soul is the only work that’s eternal. Your family is no second-rate ministry and if you knew how Jesus saw you, at the kitchen sink or sweeping up cobwebs under the piano, you’d feel like the CEO of Blessings Incorporated. He doesn’t say that He loves you because you make a lot of money or have a lot of kids. As my nine-year old sister says, “He loves us because…He loves us!”

If you (at-home wife, mom, daughter…son or husband or dad if you’re here!) ever feel that cooking and cleaning are painfully trivial, you are quite right. The stovetop won’t sparkle tomorrow no matter how clean you get it today. The ring will form in the bathtub again. At my house, the food hardly hits the table before it vanishes into the oblivion of three-times-a-day hunger.

The work you do won’t last. It is trivial. But the work that lies under the work-that’s what’s so valuable, so crucial. My mom used to tell me that if I did my chores with a bad attitude, it was like I didn’t even do them at all. It didn’t count. It wasn’t the dirt in the sink that bothered her, it was the dirt in my soul. The dirt that I imagine showing on my teeth when I speak with arrogance or defiance. She gave me work to do in the house because she was working on something greater. She was stitching up an heirloom for me. Something that I’d take with me. Something that would last.

Anyone can scrub a toilet, but can you scrub a toilet with love? This isn’t a “fundie’s” plea for women to find their worth in scrubbing toilets. This is a plea for women to put worth into scrubbing toilets. (Or whatever her hand has found to do!) The work that we do on earth, whether it’s changing diapers, pulling weeds or running a multi-billion dollar company, won’t last.

Unless it’s the work done in a soul. And that kind of work so often takes place in the home.

So, answer my question: Can you scrub a toilet with love? Yes! Can you apply diaper rash cream the glory of God? Yes! Can you pay your taxes with a servant’s heart? You betcha.

The work we do in the home is infinitely important because it goes so far and wide beyond our rooftops and walls and spriggy lawns. The work we do at home is how we love our family. And when we love our family, our work becomes eternal. You can’t take a clean house to heaven. You can’t take a perfectly trimmed fruit tree or an organized home-school binder. But you can take a soul. And you can take love and hope and courage.

When you’re at home serving your family, you’re not wasting your time. You’re handing those you love the only things they can really keep. You’re stitching them an heirloom, even if you’re no good at sewing. You’re cooking them up the kind of food that they only need to eat once-even if you’re a disaster in the kitchen. You’re planting seeds, even without a green thumb. Because when you work at home, it’s not you who’s doing the work at all. It’s work being done through you.

I would be honored to be a stay-at-home mom someday, but that isn’t because I think it’s the only way to heaven. It’s because a mom who makes her family her priority is so many things. She’s an evangelist, a prayer warrior, a priestess. A counselor, a partner, a friend. A dreamer, a dream builder, a dream repairman. She’s a coach, a cheerleader, a teammate. She’s got one of the hardest jobs in the world-to love. To love 24-7. No weekends, sick days or vacation time. No exceptions based on behavior, grades or receptiveness. No checks to cash, no golden trophies, no respect from society.

I would be honored to be a stay-at-home mom because it’s really not a conservative occupation at all. What could be more liberal than a woman pursuing such an ambitious, high-standing position? What could be more rebellious than a person who says, “I don’t need a plaque on a desk to know who I am”? What could be more brave than doing some of the greatest work given to mankind in the privacy-even secrecy-of the home? Receiving no accolades and being treated, if not as a failure, at least as a terribly dull and mediocre part of society?

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a homemaker, you’ve got a lot of spunk. Or ignorance. Because the cooking and cleaning are just the cover job. What happens on the inside is what will be left when the pots and pans, the promotions and paychecks, all melt away.

To do everything in love is very courageous, because it takes such a liberal dose of faith. The world cannot see the love, it can only see the work. Do not fear the world. Keep doing the work. Keep loving.

(artwork: “milkmaid” by vermeer)
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spiritual scabs

I don’t like the word “scab” but it was the only word that made any sense. That’s what it was: a scab. A place where I had once been wounded. A place where healing was in the process of happening.

Scabs itch. They’re the natural Band-Aid that is meant to be temporary. They are ugly too, though they do beautiful work. Underneath a scab lies a wound, but a wound that is growing new skin like a butterfly in her cocoon. A scab is a good sign.

I was once so bloodied and bruised, I hardly looked like something made in God’s image. Though I was just a little girl, Satan had no mercy in his abuses. But a good doctor took me in and bandaged me up. He anointed my wounds with oil and fed me my milk with a spoon. He washed my feet and rinsed the blood from me, from my hands. He made me clean and whole.

And once I saw how compassionate He was, I wanted to be near Him always, like Fantine and Jean Valjean. Like anyone who has known a rescuer. I made a covenant, in awe that He wanted me even more. But I was not faithful. Like a man who has to repeatedly purchase his own wife from the whorehouse, I made Him chase after me. I wandered and drifted from Day One.

But He always took me back.

he always takes me back

And He continued to heal me. But girls who spend too much time in their own minds, are bound to fall into one of the many crevices of the human soul. I sat there in the dark and thought little of that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. Mostly I thought about how dark it was in there. A place inside of me-still so dark.

So I picked at the scabs. One step forward, two steps back.

I remembered the children at the orphanage who used to purposely maim themselves in order to receive a bandage from us. They loved the bandages with the cute cartoons on them, but mostly they loved the attention. The two seconds of having their hand held, the adhesive bandage being pressed around their finger. One scratch would be opened time and again in order to get the chance to go upstairs and receive a Band-Aid from a blanc.

At the time, I found this annoying, disturbing and unreasonable. Now I understand. And I have compassion on the scab-pickers. Because that’s just what I do. Sit inside my head and pick at old scabs while the doctor is watching me with eyes full of compassion, saying, “I’ve healed that already! We were going toward full recovery! Why dwell on the past when I’ve given you such a future?”

Did I mention that He always takes me back?

“You may be sighing and groaning because of inbred sin, and mourning over your darkness; yet the LORD sees “light” in your heart, for He has put it there, and all the cloudiness and gloom of your soul cannot conceal your light from His gracious eye.” -Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

everly

4

a timely hymn

Every year we sing the first verse of this hymn as a family. Holding hands in a huge circle, laughing because so many of the men-folk still don’t know any of the words, and then closing in prayer before getting in line for food. I always thought it was interesting since it isn’t really about giving thanks per-say, but-wow. It seems timely this year. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to remember our Christian love for one another (when the other loves might come and go) and to faithfully proclaim that we will all meet again sometime whether we are together today or not. Enjoy…

1.	Blest be the tie that binds 
	our hearts in Christian love; 
	the fellowship of kindred minds 
	is like to that above. 

2.	Before our Father's throne 
	we pour our ardent prayers; 
	our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, 
	our comforts and our cares. 

3.	We share each other's woes, 
	our mutual burdens bear; 
	and often for each other flows 
	the sympathizing tear. 

4.	When we asunder part, 
	it gives us inward pain; 
	but we shall still be joined in heart, 
	and hope to meet again.
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hope of the earth

I walked into the session rather skeptical. I was interested in the topic, but I wasn’t so sure about the author. After all, she didn’t just write Christian fiction, she wrote Amish fiction, a genre I have never fully understood. I see why one or two books set in an Amish community could be really interesting. Even having a talented writer create an entire series in the setting could be neat, but a genre? Mystery, Comedy, Romance, Amish? It baffled me.

Well, the session turned out to be pretty interesting and, I must say, peaked my interested in picking up an Amish novel, though I don’t see myself hopping on the bandwagon all together. When I left, I still didn’t understand why this was a justifiable genre, but I did see why people like to read about other people who live simpler, happier lives than they themselves. Lives that are supposedly attainable today.

However, the thing I really took away from that session was-as is common to me-a story. I don’t remember her charts or graphs or even her advice (sorry!) but I keep going back to that story.

(wordage is all mine)

The author had been doing research for one of her books by communicating with an Amish bishop with whom she had connections. She told us how difficult communication was, that it required patience. The Amish community had telephones, but they were kept outside of the home in phone booths and callers were expected to always leave messages. At some point or another, the messages would be checked and they’d call back if necessary. The author was waiting for one such call. She had left a message days before and needed some information for her book. She was trying to be patient when suddenly she became very distracted. Our country was on the brink of electing Barrack Obama and most of us were glued to our television screens, awaiting the news. Democrats and Republicans alike nervously twiddled their thumbs like daddies outside delivery rooms, some hoping for one thing and others for another. Who would win? Who would be disappointed? The author had become so pensive that she decided to take the dog out for a run before the election was announced. She’d take a run and come back just in time to hear the big announcement. Just as she was about to walk out the front door, the telephone rang. It was the bishop. “Oh, I can’t talk now!” She thought at first, but then-remembering how difficult it was to get a hold of him-she decided to take the call.

“What have you been doing?” She asked him.

“Oh, I’m all worked up! Tonight’s a big night.” He told her.

(“The elections!” she thought.)

“Tonight,” the bishop continued. “Jupiter and Venus are aligning and I can’t wait to see it.”

A little stunned, the author said, “Oh, I thought you might be referring to the elections.”

“Well, I voted.” The Bishop assured her. “But now I’m just going to go outside and look up at the stars.”

The author closed the story with some of her own thoughts. Though he saw the importance of the elections and had cast his own vote, the bishop didn’t continue to fuss and worry about it. Instead, he focused on what would last.

Tonight as I watched President Obama and Governor Romney debate about foreign policy, I was envious of this peaceful, collected bishop. It is so easy to confuse “this could change the world” with “this is the center of the world.” The elections are important, but there are other things which are even more so.

I was saddened by Governor Romney’s closing statement. “America,” He said. “Is the hope of the earth.”

The hope of the earth? Oh, Mr. Romney. I certainly hope not. For if that’s the truth, we’ve no hope at all. America is just another splotch on the globe. Thankfully, it’s all in God’s hands.

After the debates, my brother flipped through Fox, CNN, MSNBC and we heard varying opinions and conclusions. Some words were encouraging, others disturbing. Most were uninformative. After this, I did what any good American would do. I got on Facebook. It isn’t quite like gazing into the night sky, but it’s just as predictable. Facebook friends were ripping into individual candidates and touting their own solutions. I scrolled.

Finally I landed on something more appealing, yet heartbreaking. It was a post about something important that had absolutely nothing to do with the debates (at least, not in broad terms.) It was a picture of a little brown body, lying on a blue gingham sheet. The baby boy was wearing only a diaper. The image was taken from behind where his ribs and spine are extremely visible. He’s dying as is, but nurses are trying to save him as I type. Between 50 and 60 other patients are sleeping outside of the clinic gates (if their ailments and location allot them any sleep at all) waiting to be seen in the morning.

They aren’t watching the debates. They aren’t voting for our president. They are people of this earth, and they are in need of hope.

Obama claimed to be hope incarnate. Romney believes that our country as a whole will become hope. I know this will come as a shocker, but I don’t believe either candiate is perfect and I happen to disagree with both of them on this topic. Jesus is our only hope. He will come through for us. Isn’t that a relief?

everly

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