Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Mere Idea

I am not equipped for this-- for this month of marches to the cemetery. I do not have the words to soothe my children when grief and fear strikes in the night. I cannot explain “why,” not to them, and not to myself. I can only hold them close, and it doesn’t seem like enough.

Yes, daddy is with one of the sad families again. Ask me your question. Wait, never mind, don’t ask, because I don't know. Let's crawl under blankets together instead.Life in this broken world often seems like a war of ideas. And circumstances conspire, and speak loud words into our hearts, and we hear “God is not good. He doesn't care. He's not in control.”

We fight back, of course. We soak up God's Word; we breathe in His grace and promises.

A child sings his memory verse: “The Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” and I wonder if the words will inoculate him from all the attacks on his faith. It feels a little bit like feeding him a salad and hoping that it will keep him healthy for the rest of his life.

Our efforts would be futile if this were a mere war of ideas. But Jesus is not an idea, He’s a person.

This is the only reason I dare hope for my children, for myself.

We dare not hope in our righteousness, because we have seen it fail time and again. We dare not hope in our circumstances, or our intelligence, because these things are as fragile as our health. I cannot even guarantee that my arms will be there to embrace them in the night when the fears strike. I am not enough.

But Jesus is not an idea, He is a Person, and He is enough. I cannot be their Jesus, but with the help of God I can point them to Him. I carried each of my children to their Baptismal waters, and there, God adopted them, and gave them new life with Him. He nurtures that life through His Word and in His church. Parents and children alike are invited to come and drink and live; to seek and find and be found.

Christianity is not an idea. Christ is a Person, a God-man who has died and risen and overcome death and the grave. The promise is for us and our children.

Let us take the hands of our friends and our children who suffer, and let us go to together to meet Him in His Word and Sacraments. Let us go together to Him, who binds up the brokenhearted, who heals our wounds, and who renews our hope.

Christ holy vine, Christ living tree
be praise for this blessed mystery
that word and water thus revive
and join us to your tree of life.
(LBS 595)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

waiting, here

And one more makes five.
Five saints from our church called home in the past month. 
One more to rest with the others, here, near the bright fall trees, and under the shadow of the cross.

Please pray for our grieving church family-
that together we may cling tightly to God and His promises, and that we may care for each other in this dark season of grief while we wait together for the day when all darkness is scattered forever.

And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoeverhates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; andwhere I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 

“The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. ForI have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

(John 12:23-25, 27-28, 35-36, 44-50)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

recommended reads

Ann and Katie Davis
Doing small things with great love.

See Someone Today 
What a gift we have to give.

A Mother's Day Sermon by Pastor Peterson
One of the most memorable sermons I've ever heard.

I Can't Breathe
on Depression

The three words that saved my son's life.
What a story.

Scattering gifts
you don't have to use them all at once!

Please don't say these six things at my funeral!
please don't!

God doesn't look for the right kind of people to believe
Thank God.

When your child doubts God's love
What would you say? Would you point to something Solid?

and connecting

Teach your child not to interrupt in one simple step 
(And it's not to knee them in the gut when they come running up to you, either.)

To the pain: wake up. repeat
abuse. pain. healing. hope.

Judge me...
please do.

The Good Soil
Tend to me, Jesus, our good gardener.

Reality Check
Good thoughts on hospitality.

"What People Are Craving Isn't Perfection. People Aren't Longing To Be Impressed; They're Longing To Feel Like They're Home. If You Create A Space Full Of Love And Character And Creativity And Soul, They'll Take Off Their Shoes And Curl Up With Gratitude And Rest, No Matter How Small, No Matter How Undone, No Matter How Odd." --- Shauna Niequist

Quit pointing your avocado at me
Do you ever feel like other mothers are doing their mothering AT YOU?

Monday, October 20, 2014

the glorious hugeness of the task

“Babies need not to be taught a trade, but to be introduced to a world. To put the matter shortly, woman is generally shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren't. It would be odd if she retained any of the narrowness of a specialist. 

Now if anyone says that this duty of general enlightenment (even when freed from modern rules and hours, and exercised more spontaneously by a more protected person) is in itself too exacting and oppressive, I can understand the view. I can only answer that our race has thought it worth while to cast this burden on women in order to keep common-sense in the world. 

But when people begin to talk about this domestic duty as not merely difficult but trivial and dreary, I simply give up the question. For I cannot with the utmost energy of imagination conceive what they mean. When domesticity, for instance, is called drudgery, all the difficulty arises from a double meaning in the word. If drudgery only means dreadfully hard work, I admit the woman drudges in the home, as a man might drudge at the Cathedral of Amiens or drudge behind a gun at Trafalgar. 

But if it means that the hard work is more heavy because it is trifling, colorless and of small import to the soul, then as I say, I give it up; I do not know what the words mean. To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labors and holidays; to be Whiteley within a certain area, providing toys, boots, sheets, cakes. and books, to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can understand how this might exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. 

How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? 

No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

G. K. Chesterton, What's Wrong with the World

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The sweetness of coming-home (Bilbo's song)

Nerds we may be, but my husband and I greatly enjoyed listening to the unabridged story of the Hobbit as we drove through the magical mountains and made our way south.  The end of the novel- the beautiful descripting of coming-home- rings in my heart today.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

(Bilbo's song, The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

small in the mountains

After an epic month of sadness and trial, we went on vacation.  As fun as that may sound in theory, as I packed I felt like I was doing one last chore, running up one last hill so that I could finally, finally curl up in the fetal position and just cry.

I'm sure we are not the only ones who have been in that place. 

So we went from that place to this place, a campground in Kentucky.  We camped in tents, and my mother-in-law did the cooking for all of us. 

The world and God conspired to give us a space to rest, to heal. 

The mountains are good for the soul. My little adventurers trudged along for mile after mile of hiking trails, panting but not complaining.  Our eyes were too full of wonder to worry about our tired legs. 

"Mommy, I feel so small here," said one.

Grammy and Peter, age 4, who is NOT a baby.

Yes, child, we are small, so small. 

We can climb and explore and stand beside waterfalls, but here we are cured of the notion that we are in charge of any of this. We are freed from the burden of believing our shoulders were meant to bear the weight of it all.  These mountains have been here for ages; these trees have grown since before any of us were born, and they continued their stretch heavenward even while we were at home near the cornfields, burying our dead. 

Psalm 90 English Standard Version (ESV)

Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.
For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.
For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LordHow long?
    Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

He is our dwelling place, and we are his small-but dearly loved- children. 

As we travel through valleys of sorrow and up moutains of joy, again and again, 
He will prove to us His faithfulness, and He will give us rest.

Confirm the work of your hands, Lord.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart...

Not thankful, when it pleaseth me;
As if thy blessings had spare days:
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.

from George Herbert's "Gratefulness"

I'm taking a break from blogging,
to breathe in, 
look up,
and rest in green pastures.

May you too find rest in God alone.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A beef with God: The dance.

This is a dance I have done before, so at least I know how the steps go.
But I still hate it.
Perhaps you have done this dance before, too.

Step 1- Hear of a tragedy or some other sadness.

Step 2- Take it to heart. Stare into it deeply, and take on the burden of the sadness myself.

Step 3- Wonder where God is. Wonder if He really is good. Wonder how in the world can He allow such things if He really is good.

Step 4- Let a crust form on my heart towards God.  Perhaps give Him the silent treatment.  Look away from Him, and nurse my secret grudge.

(This is the kind of thing that can go on for days, weeks, or years. Sometimes this is the kind of thing that keeps people away from church for the rest of their lives. If you are one of those people- I get it.)

Step 5- Fall on my face in some way or another. Realize this is not a good long term strategy.

(aside: sometimes the above steps combine with medical problems or hormones or whatever and depression follows. Depression can cause you to feel stuck right here, forever, no matter what you do. If this is you, say it out loud to someone, please.)

Step 6- Write and pray and think. Realize that my bad day wasn't just about naughty kids or the stupid dog, but about the beef I have with God.

Step 7- Start talking to Him again.

God I've been pouting.
I have something to say. I know I shouldn't say it, but if I if I talk to you I can't not think it, so I might as well say it...

What the hell, God? 
(forgive me but ... what is going on here?)

Why? Where are you? You really love us? I believe- kind of- help my unbelief, Lord!
How can I possibly let my light shine when everything around me and inside me is so dark?

Step 8- Fess up

My heart is overflowing with anger, mistrust, and doubt. Forgive me, Jesus.

You have proven to me a million times that You are good and trustworthy. But God I am weak.. I need You to do it again...  show me where to look so that I can again believe that you are good!

Step 8- He helps.

I ought to know this already, but He mercifully repeats Himself.

He swaddles my flailing soul in the comforts of His Unchanging Word.

He gently turns my eyes back to the cross of Christ.

Here I find forgiveness for my sins. How quickly I forget His poured out life for me!

Here I realize there is so much I do not understand.  How can I scream angry questions at Him?

Here I find evidence of His goodness.  Overwhelming evidence. Evidence that bled out of His heart and flowed down on to the rebellious earth. onto me.

jesus-cross Pictures, Images and Photos

My questions do not disappear, but they are quieted for a moment while I rest in His love--
while I am weak and loved.

I look up to Him. I open my hands to receive help.

I look forward to the day when I will see Him fully and my questions will be silenced forever.

And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

1 Cor 6:14

Saturday, September 27, 2014

long time traveller

Rest in peace, dear sister in Christ.

Kristie was called to her heavenly home this morning.

Her long journey has ended. Her years were not as long as we wished they could be, but her journey was long in the depths of its sufferings.

Now, she is swimming in the depths of His mercy, eternally alive, and her Baptism has been made complete.

The rest of us journey on.
Jesus, uphold all of us who grieve.

See a sweet tribute to Kristie here

Friday, September 26, 2014


Be not foolish, O my soul, 
and do not let the tumult of your vanity deafen the ear of your heart. 
Be attentive. 
The Word itself calls you to return, 
and with him is a place of unperturbed rest, 
where love is not forsaken unless it first forsakes. 

Behold, these things pass away that others may come to be in their place. 

Thus even this lowest level of unity may be made complete in all its parts. 
"But do I ever pass away?" asks the Word of God. 
Fix your habitation in him. O my soul, commit whatsoever you have to him. 
For at long last you are now becoming tired of deceit. 
Commit to truth whatever you have received from the truth, 
and you will lose nothing. 

What is decayed will flourish again; your diseases will be healed; 
your perishable parts shall be reshaped and renovated, 
and made whole again in you. 

And these perishable things will not carry you with them 
down to where they go when they perish, 
but shall stand and abide, 
and you with them, 
before God, who abides and continues forever.

Confessions, CHAPTER XI

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