Saturday, April 28


There's no nice way to say it: the guy was slobbering drunk. Slobbering drunk, loud, rude, and covered in his own snot. His last bath had long since lost its' effect...a week ago. Everyone around him was sneering, demanding that he leave the building, avoiding closeness.

Harmless, stumbling, he left. Or so everyone thought. He actually only made it as far as the fencing club's concrete porch ~~ a porch that joins with the local cadet training facility. From his new perch atop a stack of old newspapers, those of us inside heard him loudly "conducting" as the cadets squeaked and pounded out their bagpipe tunes. Stomping his feet and hollering, "Play it boys! You've got 'er now!" this comedic conductor was swept away in their juvenile concert.

Tension inside continued to mount. Well-manicured women whispered angrily to each other; the facility secretary nervously fingered her cell phone, desperately wishing that the police would come and remove this inconvenient disruption. The club coaches eyed the door warily, wondering what should be done next.

Something needed to be done. So I went outside, onto the porch, and struck up a conversation with this "repulsive," "inebriated," "filthy" vagrant. He turned out to be as drunk, repellent, and dirty as I'd been led to believe. And he also turned out to be a man. A lost man. But just a man.

He raked his eyes unabashedly over my body ~~ a head to toe evaluation accompanied by an ugly leer. I caught his eyes with my own, silently insisting that he focus there. And then we talked. We talked about bagpipes and beer (his beer to sandwich ratio was ten to one he proudly explained when I asked if he'd eaten yet that day). We talked about home and passing the time. We talked about my dogs and my kids, and more about bagpipes and beer.

The club secretary was anxious about our odd conversation, and worried about the kids that would soon be exiting the building. How would they get to their cars? she fretted. How would they get past this awful drunkard?

I happened to have our family dogs along that evening, so I invited the gentleman (who's name, I'm ashamed to say, I never asked for) to come with me to the van to check on the dogs. He was thrilled and tramped along behind me with obvious anticipation. He was fully taken with our big, black pooches and contentedly stood alongside them while the kids made their way from the club to their cars.

As we stood, I had a maternal urge to clean the mucus from his soiled, red hoodie. I resisted, partially out of fear (What would he do if I touched him?), partially out of embarrassment (The club staff were already uncomfortable with my level of interaction ~~ I was embarrassed by their obvious disapproval). So we just talked. About beer and dogs and bagpipes.

And then an unmarked car arrived and my new acquaintance was sent on his way, arms flailing in protest, voice raised in exasperation.

And I don't expect I'll ever see him again.

But he has changed me, changed my children (who were on the periphery of this whole encounter...watching...watching...watching), and he's been the catalyst for a renewed wrestle with my Savior. I could have sat with that man all day. I could have offered him supper. I should most definitely have offered him supper. I ought to have offered him Christ. I needed to extend the respect, the honor, of wiping his coat clean.

I did none of those things. Maybe I will next time. There will always be a next time ~~ an opportunity to extend mercy and honor to a dishonored one. I am not satisfied with a gentle expression of kindness, however. If I, one who has the great privilege of knowing I am safe, loved, does not extend more of Jesus than a kind word, then what good I am? What good am I to the Creator in building His kingdom?

Certainly, "a cup of water" in His name is good and right. But is it enough? Is it enough, when we have been charged with spreading the Good News, healing, and setting people free? My Wednesday evening acquaintance needed more than a cup of water. He needed living water. I did not offer him any.

May I learn from the man in the red hoodie. May I, for Jesus' names' sake, do a little better next time.

If God is the ocean
Be a cup of ocean
Author Unknown

Saturday, April 21

The Tree

Ice wind lashes uncovered face, trunk
Upstretched arms, fingers
Nearby powerlines moan as he
Rakes over straight, taut lines
Threatening destruction

She is fully exposed
Winter dead lays the field about her
Dull, frozen, flat

Nakedness holds no fear
Her hands stretch always upward
This day trapped in crippling frost
That, tracing the face of heaven

She is fully exposed
Winter sleep has green and growing
Hidden deep within

Nakedness holds no fear
She stands firm, knowing
Root toes reaching deep, deep, deep
Into the soil of many winters

Biting ice turns to soft falling snow
Sky stroking limbs
Spread always wide
Anticipating new clothes
Reprieve from raw vulnerability

She is exposed
Spring allure enchanting
Vibrant, lovely, strong

Nakedness holds no fear
She is alive
She is alive

Tuesday, April 17

JOHN 17:26
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

Some thoughts from Phil Walker @ SMC:

Jesus Christ wants to completely take over my life with His supernatural love and His very Life through the Holy Spirit taking up residence in my life. The world also wants to occupy my time and affection with numerous "bells and whistles" and "pats on the back" Today, will I pursue knowing God and letting Him have dominance in my heart and time investments, or will I chase after another temporal, trivial, trinket that promises to make me feel good?

The heart of Jesus' high priestly prayer in JOHN 17 is for unity of focus and devotion in the church, the body of Christ. This is a given when we are filled with the love of Jesus in our lives. Christ is not divided. The Jesus in me is perfectly united with the Jesus in you. The problem comes when professing Christians have their minds and hearts set on anything and everything, but Christ. My prideful, sinful nature that puts me first, likely will not fit well with your prideful, sinful nature. May we, the Church, be one, as we single-mindedly die to ourselves, and live for, in, and by Christ!

Sunday, April 15

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

I burnt the hash browns and over-baked the cinnamon buns.

In an effort to save time and energy, I attempted to "spot paint" the main floor walls of our house only to find that the paint from the five-year-old bucket no longer matches the faded beige of the walls. Now I have to re-do the walls entirely.

I have enjoyed two late-night munchy binges and two hearty fast food meals in the past two weeks. Consequently, I'm fighting with the same two pounds of excess body weight that I'd conquered "once and for all" last month.

When I left the hair salon after my last hair cut, two men gave me the up-and-down look...and they sneered.

The kids are struggling with spelling and the dogs are unruly and filthy. The house, already "spring cleaned" continues to taunt me with it's secret corners full of grime and people-live-here dirt.

Today, instead of going to church, we had a hockey brunch with friends.

And the voices in my head are getting louder and louder. Voices of accusation and condemnation. You. Are. Not. Enough. Not smart enough, clean enough, spiritual enough, beautiful enough, skinny enough.

I recognize that voice for what it is: an accuser. It taunts me with an unrelenting diatribe of libel.
I listen to it. Absorbing it's charges as truth. The slurs it paints me with are cruel and unforgiving: I would not say such things about a hated enemy.

Thankfully, the voice of Truth is as unstoppable. It is more gentle; it's tones softer and sweeter. It takes effort to hear through the rants of Accusation, but it is tireless in its' pursuit. It reminds me to be kind to myself ~~ as kind, at least, as I would be to that "hated enemy." It reminds me that no one expects perfection from me. No one cares, actually, for me to do/be/think any differently than I already do.

Truth reminds me that it's as unacceptable for me to judge Me as it is for me to judge others. God alone sits as judge.
He alone can see the secrets of my heart and mind. He alone knows the whole of my story and the whole of my destiny. Why shove Him off the throne of my life in exchange for moments...or days...or weeks...of self recrimination?

I hear this same struggle expressed through the lips of so many women in my life: beautiful, successful, treasure-filled women. We are wrestling with the idea of treating ourselves with simple kindness. We have no patience for "looking out for number one" or "putting ourselves first," but we are attempting to make tenderness a habit.

We can help each other with that, I think. We can be reminders to each other of Truth and all the freedom messages He is whispering every day. Reminders that we are doing enough, loving enough, working enough, being enough, lovely enough.

Reminders that where we are not enough, God is ~~ or, where we are not enough, we are becoming.

Today, while Accusation plays and re-plays his tiresome failure chant, I choose to turn my ear to Truth. To kindness. Away from harsh judgement. Toward grace.

~ We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~
2 Corinthians 10

Wednesday, April 11

By Example

We're on post-Spring Break-break; school is half-hearted and our hours are filled with reading stacks of books, spring cleaning, and untold hours playing on all manner of electronic games.

This morning my sons and I piled into the cushions on the couch and settled in for a read of our current "couch time" novel, Underground to Canada. Slaves are making their way northward from the horrors of the deep south; north to freedom. We're transfixed by the brave young heroin of the story.

I work my way through one chapter...then another...and I manage to do it without crying. I close the book at a suspenseful moment, a heart-wrending moment.

From his sprawling position next to me, my eleven year old son comments, "There are some really cruel people in this world. People do really evil things." This is sparked by the ugly brutality of one of the slave bosses, a fat, sweating, cold-hearted task master by the name of Sims. His harsh and sudden violence towards the slaves offends us all.

His brothers and I are quiet as he makes his sorrow-tinged observation. Finally, I say, "Yeah. I wonder what we will do to ensure we don't become like them. What will you do?"

Without hesitation, my boy ~~ a challenging, emotional, God-gave-him-to-me-so-that-I-would-be-changed, little man ~~ said, "Well, I have you, Mom. I'll be like you. You're not cruel or evil, and I'll remember the things that you have taught me."

My throat constricts in surprise emotion. The prayer of every mama I know is that God will keep the hearts of our children turned to Him ~~ turned to Love, to Mercy, to Grace. I long with everything in me for the Truth of Jesus to be written indelibly on their hearts and in their minds.

My almost-nine year old adds, "And I think I'll keep myself busy...distracted. If I'm busy doing good, I won't think about doing evil."

And then they're off to do their chores and play, not realizing that they have just solved the problems of the world in two short minutes.

May our eyes be fixed on the One who sets the example of mercy and love; may our hands be put to good use doing good work for that very One.