Tuesday, December 22, 2015

advent


A father leaves, and a young girl cries. He was never supposed to do that.
Sirens blare and a young couple shakes in fear.
A husband speaks angrily, and a wife sits in silent hate.
A boy shuffles unseen through a crowded lunchroom.
A baby struggles to breathe.
An white-haired woman eats alone. The air feels heavy with hopelessness.

The stories pile up, brick by brick, and the earth begins to churn under the weight of it all.

Fathers are supposed to stay, and husbands are supposed to love, and tragedy is not supposed to touch us. Teenagers are supposed to have friends, and babies are supposed to have healthy lungs, and elderly women are supposed to be surrounded by dozens of younger voices asking for stories and wisdom and favorite recipes.

But sometimes fathers don’t stay. Sometimes husbands don’t love, and sometimes they do and their wives hate them anyway. Sometimes the worst thing we can imagine is exactly what has happened. So many “supposed tos” fail, and what can we do? It makes us grit our teeth. It makes us hate God. Where is God? Does He see us?

The stories pile up, brick by brick, and the earth begins to churn under the weight of it all.

The weary world.

A man and his wife, wandering outside.
Did they wonder why God did not provide?
Did she question as she endured the pain?
Then once she held Him, gasp? Whisper His name?

Jesus.

The stories have been piling up, brick by brick, and the earth continues to churn under the weight of it all. We cannot carry it. We were never meant to.

But now—now, He is here! He is hope!
“The thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices!”
The provision we were craving, He is here. He is hope. The miracle of Emmanuel, God with us.

Babies always matter, oh how they matter, but this baby—this baby is love incarnate. He will make the way for all the others.

We proclaim births on Instagram and 5x7 cardstock, but God proclaimed it in the sky: GOOD TIDINGS OF GREAT JOY. He has always known how to celebrate.

“You see, God was like a new daddy—he couldn’t keep the good news to himself. He’d been waiting all these long years for this moment, and now he wanted to tell everyone…He’s here! He’s come! Go and see him. My little Boy… This baby would be like that bright star shining in the sky that night. A Light to light up the whole world. Chasing away darkness. Helping people to see. And the darker the night got, the brighter the star would shine.” –Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jesus Storybook Bible

And though the world continues to churn, though fathers may leave and babies may gasp for breath, we can rejoice, even through tears, because look! Look how God provides! Look how He cares! He sent our redemption in the most unexpected of packages, and Mary cradled Him in her arms, held Him close. He grew into a man, loved us unto death, and conquered the thing we fear the most. He cradles us in His arms, holds us close. The weary world can finally rejoice.

“Joy is the affirmation of the thing that’s truer than any trouble, any affliction: the affirmation that love wins. Jesus is as good as we hope, it’s all worth it, and all will be redeemed.” –Sarah Bessey

“For all who wait
For all who hunger
For all who've prayed
For all who wander
Behold your King
Behold Messiah
Emmanuel, Emmanuel"
-“Light of the World,” Lauren Daigle

Monday, November 16, 2015

fun

I did a study on personalities recently, and people with the personality type that best matched mine supposedly “have trouble focusing on boring things.”

Oh HAHAHAH I don’t relate to that at all it’s just exactly what my problem is every single day. I swear to you, I cannot clean and cook within the same week or my soul shrivels up and dies. It’s either a cleaning week or a cooking week and no matter how many tricks I try, this is how it must be if I am to stay nice and pretty and humble.

Even though we have been together for quite some time, Husband Luke is not as aware of my personality “quirks” as one might expect. Bimonthly he insists on educating me about four wheel drive, and I swear I CANNOT LISTEN. He just says “blah blah blah” or whatever (don’t really know, not listening) and then gets sad when he quizzes me after and I cannot relay any of the essential information. I feel kind of bad about it, but WHY IS HE TRYING TO KILL MY SOUL? Adelaide was playing with a toy car that said, “4WD” on it, and Luke was explaining to her (even though she is 19 months old and only cares about cats and crackers) that this means four wheel drive, a.k.a., his favorite topic to talk about especially with people who don’t care. Of course I thought “4WD” meant “forward” in cute texting lingo, and when I shared this information with Luke, he stabbed a fork in his eye and ran away from home.


Now that my two bebes keep me nailed to the house with their adorable little figurative hammers while Fork Eye is away at work all day, my compulsive need for fun stuff has gotten very out of control and is possibly making me crazy. So I fixate on odd tasks like making their donut and milk Halloween costumes, and then my conscience is like, “How did you find time to do that but every item of clothing in the house is dirty?” and I’m like “hey Conscience, you know if you talk to me about laundry I will forget to pay attention,” and then she's like blah blah blah or whatever. I don’t feel too bad about it because creativity is soul food, and souls need to eat. I want my soul to be nice and fat.

I think too many of us have skinny souls. I think we forget to have fun, or we feel guilty about having fun, or we care too much about being cool to have fun. (Here's how I feel about being cool.) Or we get confused and think fun is best served in a red solo cup, and the plastic cup becomes a crutch. 

You know, God invented laughing and dancing and singing, and I think He wants us to do that stuff. I wonder if He’s annoyed that His people keep forgetting that He came up with fun in the first place. I’ve heard it said that the heart of worship is joy—so I suppose we should probably be joyful, and I suppose that a life of joyful worship may require bit of fun here and there. Or maybe even a lot. 

I always tell high school students that I don’t think loving Jesus means staying home with their theoretical cats on Friday nights while all their peers have the red solo cup kind of fun. Shouldn't we, who know that plastic cups do not hold the joy we all crave, show the way to that joy? If the most creative of all creatives is our God, if the inventor of laughter is the one we pray to, shouldn’t we be having more fun than anyone else? Shouldn’t we be drawing people in with our smiles and parties and sense of humor rather than alienating them with aggressive Facebook statuses? Was God kidding when he said, “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Prov. 17:22)? 

I mean, I think we can all agree that the world is hurting. Maybe the world needs medicine.

Monday, November 9, 2015

don't be cool

Dear Adelaide and Greer,

If you don’t know already, I think the two of you are the most fantastic human beings on the planet. Really. Your dad and I agree that there’s no one we’d rather hang out with than the two of you, and that’s a fact. Every day you get a little bigger, and we get to see a little bit more of who you are, and you know what? We like what we see. You are both so cute and funny and sweet that it makes me worry that my heart will explode like a confetti cannon and you’ll just have a messy confetti living room instead of a mother.

But here’s the thing to remember as you grow up: Don’t be cool. Just don’t. Coolness sounds like a good thing, but that’s a lie. The truth is that coolness is kind of a soul killer.
I remember a friend I had in elementary school. We always had a blast. But middle school happened and then coolness happened. (To her, not to me. I looked like this:



Yeah yeah yeah that's me, the crazy one in the middle holding hydrangeas for no apparent reason. As a side note, babies, people with frizzy triangle heads are not traditionally cool. Genetically, this may be your fate as well. We triangles have to learn how to be funny and then sneak in the back door of cool.  Which takes longer.)

My friend’s new tribe of people didn’t smile much, but when they did, it was a scary smile. The kind that makes your face turn red and wonder if you have something in your teeth or if your shirt is stupid or if you laughed too loud. The kind that makes you feel small and reminds you that you have fuzzy triangle hair.

I wanted to be in her tribe. Like REALLY bad. That’s the funny thing about cool. It pushes you down but you still want to cuddle up to it. Remember that, babies. You’ve got to always be careful around things that don’t hug back.

Cool shows up in different ways as we age, so you’ve got to always keep watch. Here are my theories:

In middle school it’s wearing the exact same thing as everybody else. In high school it’s appearing simultaneously low maintenance and hot. (Both are necessary. If you’re hot but not low maintenance, you’ll be mocked, but being low maintenance and not hot means you are irrelevant.) In college it’s being casual but carefully branded. (Specifically for us it was Polo v-neck t-shirt + J. Crew short khaki skirt + rainbow flip flops + Coach crossbody purse. Man oh man.) Post-college I think it’s just pretending to have your life together and never break a sweat because hey we are ADULTS now and we really need to appear to know what we are doing. A good job and the ability to take good Instagram photos doesn’t hurt either.

So in each stage we try to be cool, and when we pull it off, we feel vaguely superior and awesome, and that’s nice. But here’s the thing, babies: Cool takes more than it gives.

Cool takes away from who we are. It makes us forget ourselves, forget the things we like, forget the things that are important to us, even the silly stuff. Like how I kept forcing myself to listen to the right music to avoid the dreaded, “I can’t believe you’ve never heard this song,” but then one day, I realized that all I really wanted to do was listen to the soundtracks of like five Broadway musicals. So sorry babies, that’s why our car rides are not particularly cool, especially since more often than not I’m listening to an audio book and that’s even worse. Or how at some point it struck me that I had been trying really hard to not like pink too much because it seemed uncool to be so girly. Then I realized OH MY GOSH SHUT UP I LOVE PINK and my college friends gave me a pink KitchenAid blender and I named her Ms. Nancy Bobo, and we are best friends.

The other thing about cool is that it takes more than it gives. That’s one of my main takeaways from being a teacher and a student pastor’s wife—kids who want to be a certain kind of person find it nearly impossible in the face of coolness. And when they have to choose between who they want to be and coolness, they almost always choose coolness. Sweet girl and sweet boy, I hope you choose differently. The way you date, what you do on the weekends, who you hang out with – don’t let coolness decide. Coolness is bad for your soul. Be careful.

You know what’s better than cool? Weird. Weird is better. And Real—Real is definitely better. And Happy. Happy is better.

Be weird, be real, be happy, my sweet babies! Right now you laugh hard and smile big and dance silly. Don’t let coolness take that away from you. From us. You bring so much joy just by being you.

Love,

YOUR COOL MOM!! (JK sorry)