Saturday, April 30, 2011

Butterfly Circus

My husband made me sit down and watch this tonight and even though I considered myself too busy to be bothered with it I am glad I gave in. If you have a few minutes or so check out this short film. I am pretty sure that the people behind it weren't going for a biblical message necessarily but I am a firm believer that all truth is God's truth and the redemption and restoration shown in the characters of this short film line up exactly with what God does in our lives.

I am reminded of this story from the life of Jesus. Check out John 9 and you will read about a man who is born blind. Back in Jesus day if a baby was born with defects it was assumed that the parents had sinned and caused it. The teachers of Jesus day asked him who had sinned and was to blame for this man's blindness. Jesus skirts right around that question, which I love, because when it comes to the pain in life, why is irrelevant. It changes nothing. It's all about how our pain and struggle can glorify God, bring wisdom and peace to others and make us stronger so we can strengthen each other.

Good stuff right there.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Booger Grace

Yes booger grace, this post has been a long time coming and I've been turning the phrase and concept of booger grace over in my head for at least a month.

You will understand what I am talking about soon enough. Allow me to paint you a picture from my everyday life. I am doing something around the house while Noelle plays in the other room, in this picture she is playing with an actual toy and not the computer, the toilet, or my hairbrush. So anyway, she stops what she is doing and runs up to me, throwing her little arms around my legs until I bend down and give her a big hug. Then she utters the words that every mom loves to hear, "I love you mommy." Wow, we live for these little moments right? What in the world could spoil it? You guessed it, I spot a booger poking out of her nose. In this moment I have two choices, ignore the booger and just soak in the toddler love that it being so freely given. Or end the happy moment immediately by attempting to remove the booger as Noelle protests and runs away screaming "no!"

Sadly to say folks I go for the booger every time and spoil the beauty of the moment. I have to go after the one little green crusty thing that is wrong. It's almost compulsive. Here is another example, we have a beautiful pond behind our house, it's lovely in the morning and evening when the sun makes it dance. However right on the other side of our back yard is a squeaky rusty oil rig, and I can't enjoy the pond when the sunsets because I see the oil rig. I can't have booger grace in that moment either.

The truth of the matter is that if you look hard enough most every moment has a booger or two. Maybe someone gave you a fabulous gift, just not in the color that matches your living room color scheme. Or your husband cleans your kitchen, but there is still a bit of food on the floor and exploded soup crust in the microwave. If you can't learn to have booger grace you will miss so much beauty in your life because you focus on the little negative instead of the positive. A lack of booger grace can stop you from have a close intimate marriage, make your kids feel inadequate and leave your lacking in close friendships.

Because when you fail to give grace to people and keep picking at every little thing, eventually they all run away screaming no. Trust me. No one likes the booger patrol.

So think about it, how can you have more grace for the tiny sticky insignificant boogers in your daily life?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Our world of inbetween

I think I had a mini epiphany this morning, is there such a thing? I am huge fan of the show Scrubs, which is only now shown in syndication but nevertheless it is one of my all time favorites. And every time I hear the word Epiphany I think of the epiphany toilet episode, which guest starred Michael J Fox. There was a toilet on the roof of the hospital and anytime you pooed on it, you had a epiphany. It was Season 3, Episode 13, "My Porcelain God." If you want to follow this rabbit trail feel free to click this LINK and then THIS LINK. You'll see what I mean, it's worth it I promise.

Anyway, back to my mini epiphany, which I will have you know happened over a traditional cup of coffee and not on a toilet, roof or any other kind. At least that's my story and I am sticking to it. I was reading in John 14 this morning as I work to wrap my heart around this Holy Week. I am trying to know Jesus more through this endeavor. I want to feel a deeper connection with my Savior, to take my knowledge farther away from the academic and closer to the relational.

In John 14 Jesus is in the middle of the passover dinner with his students, the disciples. He covers a lot of ground during this meal, he tells his disciples of his impending death, he fills them in on Judas' betrayal, he tells them he is leaving them, and he gives them a brief preview of Pentecost, when they will receive the Holy Spirit. But John 14:18 is what really struck me. Jesus said "I will not leave you as orphans." Huh, as a recently orphaned adult this word jumps off the page at me. For those of you who aren't orphaned, it feels weird at first. Sort of like the roof has been ripped off, all the sudden all the potential problems and possibilities of adult life hover right above you and there is no buffer between you and them. I know the older you get the less your parents buffer you from life's struggles, but just knowing they are there is a buffer in and of itself.

So back to Jesus orphaning us, it's an interesting analogy because just as my parents aren't in the world, but are in heaven, so is Jesus not on this earth but in heaven. However just as Jesus promised in John 14, he has left us the Holy Spirit to live in us. He says that the holy spirit will be in us and we will know the truth. My parents weren't deities, far from it just like any other human parent. But I like the idea that what they taught me while they were on this earth helps guide me as I navigate this world without them, just as Jesus left us the spirit to do the same thing. Because my parents were learning from the Spirit of truth, their teachings coincide with his and they work in harmony to continuously direct my adult decisions and feelings. Pretty cool eh? I sincerely love the fact that the bible uses a lot of family metaphors, like father/son, children, and orphan. We can relate to those words, can't we? God's pretty good at giving us footholds that we can relate to. He wants us to understand and ingest all this.

Here is the other teaching I take from this verse. Jesus says that he won't leave us as orphans, that he will come back for us. However, that hasn't happened yet has it? We are still living in that orphaned state. If you have ever done a lot of reading on theology you may be familiar with the term "Already, not yet." This phrase is used to describe the fact that God has ALREADY won the battle against death and sin, but it has NOT YET come full circle. Jesus defeated the devil, and death, and pain, but he hasn't come back to tie it all up yet. Currently the work is up to us, to use the light he put in us to illuminate the world to the hope found in Jesus. And it's a good idea to let this light shine on our own pain too.

The thing about living in orphaned, already/not yet world is that there is hurt. I think for a long time I have been waiting for the hurts to stop coming and I often sit in wonder that every season of life has hurting. Someone I love is always hurting, sick, confused or broken down. And so my epiphany this morning looked like this. "Duh Leanne, we are living in a broken "not yet" world, pain is going to happen and happen and happen again. We know the hope found in the resurrection of Jesus, but the pain is still here. People still hurt, long, and die. It's going to keep happening, and God is there to help us and hold us in our orphaned state. When pain happens God isn't sitting up there sending it, he is holding you and hurting with you, his precious child.

So we live in the in between, and we aren't really alone at all, we have God's word, his Holy Spirit, and each other. If he lives in us then we can very really give his light to each other, we can be Jesus to one another, and in that way he's right here among us. So next time you hurt or your wonder why there is all this pain, know that we live in the in between right now, God isn't sending all this pain to you, he longs to redeem and restore, but we live in a world of sin. So wherever you are, take hope, know that all this pain will be taken away, the easter season is all about restoration and hope and victory. Can you feel it?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Moving On

Good morning from my office, I write again with coffee as my companion and french toast as my muse. Not really, but I did just make the most amazing french toast which had pumpkin in the batter and a sprinkling of flax seed meal on top. It was good, all you who say I don't like healthy crap would have tucked in with relish. I feel my soul waking back up again today, maybe it is spring or just the passing of time, who really cares? I am glad to be feeling some depth in my insides again. I felt shallow and apathetic. Not a whole lot has brought me either extreme joy or extreme sorrow. I've been numb and boring. I was even given an iPad and that failed to excite me. Whoa, I know. I'll give you a moment to let that soak in.

Thanks to Sheridan for yesterday's comment, Philippians 3 has spoken to me yet again. Here is a story from my past. I remember a few days after my Dad's funeral, during the coldest bleakest March of my life, someone asking me what was next now that my Dad was gone and the funeral was behind me. I remember the conversation like this:

Person: "So, what now? are you just gonna.... keep going?"
Me: "Yeah... wait, is there really another option?"

I don't know who this person was but I remember this moment distinctly because it set the tone for the last six years of my life. Grieve, heal, keep moving. Grieve, heal, keep moving. You absolutely don't have to have lost a parent tragically to invest in this. Life is full of griefs, physical pain, emotional pain, but you have to... you HAVE TO keep moving on. When you experience a physical injury you have to go through therapy to get the affected muscles to regain strength. I consider emotional and mental injury in much the same light, you have to heal and rehab that part of you if you want to experience a fully functioning self. Maybe for you that's actual therapy, if so. Go to therapy. I go, I have no shame. I love me some counseling and therapy, I equate it to a massage for my soul.

There is another option though. You can stay wounded, stagnant and hurt. You can live in your pain forever. It's a legitimate choice, although not a very good one. You end up wasting the time God gave you and choosing to suck the joy out of your life. You also steal beautiful memories from those around you. I don't write this as one who has experienced a lack of pain in their life. I have hurt and my hurts have screwed me up  but mostly they have made me stronger. On the dealing with grief front, I am probably a body builder, and that's cool, it's given me the ability to be the personal trainer for the newbies. I may be a little bit like a Jillian Michaels though. I will absolutely mourn with someone, but if I love you, I want to help you grieve, heal, move on.  But unlike Jillian, I'll try not to yell and cuss at you though, at least not to your face.

I have seen this stagnant other side, the grieve and stay there side of it. And it leads to death on every level. I promise. Go here: and read Philippians 3. Paul knew, he was put through it all he had physical pain and watched his friends die brutally. But so often he said things like. "I press on" "I run the race" He had a mission and a goal. He didn't carry around the baggage from his beatings and losses, he kept moving, literally, and because he did we can talk about this passage of scripture. We are majorly blessed from his perseverance.

Wherever you are today, my heart is there for you. If you are grieving with a fresh raw wound I want to encourage you to feel what you need to feel. Cry, scream, hit pillows, experience your situation. If you have scabby wounds and you keep picking them, I want to encourage to let them heal. Wherever you are, you are on this earth today with a precious gift, you have today. So take a step forward. Heal, move on. Dodge and move. Oh, and while you're moving God will put someone in your path who needs you to help them get up and move. That's how he works, it's like we are all on a hill holding hands, someone above us pulling us up, as we hold the hand of someone behind us, pulling them along.

I'll leave you with a little Paul. "Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal... there's far more to life for us. We're citizens of high heaven! We're waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ,who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him." Alright, lets go do today. Go team.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two different Gods

It's early, but Caedmon has slept enough that it's after six and I feel the motivation to stay up and maybe do some things that I want to do. Like write, pray and exercise a little.

This is raw, I haven't thought it through 110%, also it's 6:30 am so I haven't proof read....

Here is what has been on my heart lately, and it's not easy, and you may want to fight with me. My heart is wrestling with God on this issue, and I want to strongly preface this post with these words: I am not angry with God, I am confused and a little jealous. This is my humanness coming through.

Some days, especially lately I feel like people have two different views of God, although I am sure there a millions more than just these two. There is the "ask and if you have enough faith it will be yours" version of God. This God is very sunny and good and seems to answer every prayer with the yes you were hoping for. No matter what happens, things seem to be sunny and bright with this God. And then there is the other view of God, my view, which is more like a "I am in control of everything but the world is fallen and people have choice and love wins in the end but it isn't the end yet" God. This God has a heart that breaks with yours when you are hurting. This God doesn't push with an answer for "why" when tragedy strikes. This God isn't as cut and dry. I guess what I am saying is that sometimes I feel surrounded by people who pray hard, get their way and always seem to have this radiating sun in their life, and I am jealous, and I struggle to relate.

If you read the book Prayer by Richard Foster he discusses the fact that our hearts and desires are flawed and so by the very nature, so often our prayers are mixed up in these sinful desires and flaws. But God loves us enough to see through that and he is happy to be in conversation and relationship with us. He sees us through Christ. So I understand that if I hit my knees and pray selfishly for a million dollars and a trip to Jamaica, God didn't answer that prayer not because I lacked faith but because my heart wasn't in the right place. But when I pray for healing for someone I love, or freedom from bondage, or something along those lines... then why does my life seem like an endless string of loss?

The thing is I believe God is good, that God is love for us, that he is faithful. I believe this just as strongly as those with the sunny days view of God. But what makes me hurt is when the issue of faith comes in. Jesus often says that those he healed were healed because of their faith. I don't know what to do with this, were my people not healed because of my or their lack of faith? And when people quote these scriptures and say "Yes Lord, by our faith we are healed" then what do those of us who had faith and didn't receive healing supposed to feel? I think at these moments I feel like the Inadequate black sheep in the congregation, wondering what I did wrong.

My church received a message last week from Steve Furtick, about how if you pray with enough faith and ask God for big and bold huge things, he will make the Sun Stand still to show off his power like he did with Joshua. And I found myself feeling angry and dark during this message. I prayed often and hard and my Sun didn't stand still, I still lost to car accidents, depression, heart disease and suicide. He went on and on about Jesus bringing a little girl back from the dead because his father had deep faith. Well my dead people seem to be staying dead. I am alive, and I am in love with my God, but my God doesn't raise my dead or take away the diseases of those I love, they died and they seem to be very much staying that way. So what do I do with this message?

During these dark times I prayed for strength and I prayed for daily bread and I made it through, giving God the glory for the mere fact that I am still here. This is what I have asked for lately, for health, and strength, and the ability to see the good in the midst of the dark, like fireflies and stars in a dark night sky. And God has held me, and he has shown my his love in these ways.

So often I don't post lately because I just don't want to offend people, if you have the Sunny view of God, mostly my heart is glad for you, jealous but glad. Sometimes I just wish I got to speak that language, I wish we could meet in the middle. I wish I didn't feel so dark when all the sunshine comes out to play.
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