In Which I Say a Bad Word

“!?&#! Hold my hand, baby!” My niece stretched her hand towards me agreeably and I boosted her up the rock slab, farther away from the precipice. She was tilting her face, totally oblivious to my racing heart or my visions of her receiving (not her first) broken bone. “Holy craft? What holy craft?”

I tried to keep my mouth very, very straight.

Pride: decapitated.

Using low-class language around children is something I cannot stand, so I was feeling about as important as an inchworm at that moment. A brown inchworm, at that, not even a cool lime-green one.

Time to apologise.

But then I lost my cool again, when the three exhausted little mountain climbers didn’t know how to manage their melting Italian ice. I waged a war with shame and sorrow for days, because of the impatient moments I had with those precious babies.

 

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I’m a messed-up person.

Are you messed up too? Do you ever think, “Self, how could you do that? How? You are a monster, and that’s a fact.”

Impatient moments are like indicators on a dashboard. A gift from God actually, like a dashboard warning light is a gift to those of us who don’t take time for routine car maintenance.

Low oil level! Time to visit the mechanic shop!

Low river-of-life levels! Time to stop flying solo! Time to go to Jesus and repent, learn, rest and receive.

“Ugh, bad timing. I have no time for a shop visit, Jesus.” I whined.

“If you want to have time for one, you do.”

So I didn’t do laundry, didn’t deposit my checks, didn’t go shopping, didn’t make dinner for my neighbor (I found out later her refrigerator was already packed. Thanks, Jesus!), didn’t clean, didn’t weed, didn’t trim the yard, didn’t shave my legs… Basically, didn’t do all the good things nice, responsible women Must Always Do.

Scandalous!

But…

I had time to feast. And I was starving.

Listen to these words the Lord gave his kiddos after miraculously making them a free nation:

I have removed your backbreaking burdens
   and have freed your hands from the hard labor and toil.
You called out to me in your time of trouble and I rescued you.
   I came down from the realm of the secret place of thunder,
   where mysteries hide.
   I came down to save you.
   I tested your hearts at the place where there was no water to drink,
   the place of your bitter argument with me.


Listen to me, my dear people.
   For I’m warning you, and you’d better listen well!
   For I hold something against you.

Don’t ever be guilty of worshiping any other god but me.
I am your only God, the living God.
   Wasn’t I the one who broke the strongholds over you
   and raised you up out of bondage?
   Open your mouth with a mighty decree;
   I will fulfill it now, you’ll see!
   The words that you speak, so shall it be!

 

But my people still wouldn’t listen;
   my princely people would not yield to me.
So I lifted my grace from off of their lives and I surrendered them
   to the stubbornness of their hearts.
   For they were living according to their own selfish fantasies.
O that my people would once and for all listen to me
   and walk faithfully in my footsteps, following my ways.
Then and only then will I conquer your every foe
   and tell every one of them, ‘You must go!’
Those who hate my ways will cringe before me
   and their punishment will be eternal.
But I will feed you with my spiritual bread.
   You will feast and be satisfied with me,
   feeding on my revelation-truth like honey
   dripping from the cliffs of the high place.”

You are not meant to single-handedly save the day, friend! You are designed to be a partner. A helper. You might not like the sound of this one, but you are meant to be a follower.

You know Esther, that 10/10 who married an unrighteous king and risked her head for her people? She followed her uncle’s advice. She was backed up by an entire nation’s prayers. She walked after God, in faith.

Deborah, that warrior-prophetess? She spoke God’s words. “The Eternal God of Israel commands you…” “The Eternal has decreed…”

Don’t be guilty of worshipping the gods of I Was Made For Hard Work So Grrr, Let’s Do This

or of I Have Got To Hustle My Act Together Before All Is Lost, heaven-warrior. Approval traps have 100 names, but they’re all bent on robbing your joy and sanity. You’ll find your heart saying far worse things than ‘holy craft’.

Truth is, Jesus has got what it takes to save the day without your help. Right now, he just wants to be with you. “Come to me!”- that’s what he is always saying.

You’ve got to be with Jesus if you want him to feed you. After you eat your fill, you’ll have the courage to follow his unpredictable ways. He’s not from this kingdom, so his reasoning takes some getting used to. But if you are his follower… then follow!

If he leads you away from your Good & Proper Things and towards his heart, just go with it.

The world will remember your words of life far longer than your 24-hour stubble.

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We Don’t Get To Be Here Long

Bu-BUMP, bu-BUMP, goes the blood in my jugular vein, as if my blood vessels are a track and the blood cells are thoroughbreds, surging towards the finish line. I stomp the accelerator and turn the wheel into the mat of blackberry vines, very aware that my body is being forced back into the seat as we climb. A grumble of mud and stones, a scrape, and we slide gracefully on to the mossy space below the yellow beeches. It is 23° but my cheeks are hot. “Thank you, Jesus!” I squeak, and Harley pants and yawns loudly, as she does every time we live through a moment of terror.

Fear stomps on my lungs every time I think of driving up that lane. Some of you will shake your heads and sigh, and some of you will understand.

The only reason I began driving to the top of my dirt lane at all is because my father showed me how and then said, “It’s your turn.” I hate being wimpy in front of him after he shows me how to do something. It’s like saying, “You are a liar, Dad.”

The only reason I made it to the top of my dirt lane the second time, and the 202nd time, was because once you start going up, you can’t stop. Stopping is actually dangerous. Driving up just feels dangerous.

Once I had to jump start my car in a black parking lot, all alone. Slump-backed in the rain, I shivered and prayed for 32 minutes before finally connecting the clamps. My hand would go towards the battery, and then jerk away.

I’ve learned recently that dream-chasers fall into two categories: Tryers and Doers.

Tryers have options. They can say, “I am trying for my lifeguard certification. I’m training 14 hours a week, but I honestly doubt I will pass the test.” They never sign up for the test, because they don’t think they will pass it. Reasons, reasons, reasons…. all very valid and unable to be explained away.

Doers do not have options. They say, “I will refuse to be comfortable until I have set up a new way of life. By hook or by crook, I will get there, and no delay.”

The thing with trying, is that you are never truly a failure. If you set out to TRY, you can rationalize success either way. You will stand in the parking lot, in the dark rain, wasting time because you are trying to jump the car but you must first evaluate all the dangers.

If you set out to DO, there is only one way to win. You will put your foot to the accelerator, knowing once you begin you will not be ‘safe’ until you reach the goal.

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You do the thing, and no delay, because you refuse to say, “You are a liar, Dad.”

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I know I am.

 

 

My Selfishness as it Relates to Hamburgers

It all happened when I was mid-burger, 2 minutes in and 3 minutes left on the clock to consume the 67% remainder of the tomato-lettuce-cheese-pickle-beef creation in my hands.

I sat there with the tomato-y mayo dribbling down my hands and thought,

“How selfish I am! Here I am, scarfing down a 1/4 lb burger at the speediest (and messiest) rate known to mankind, and I’m hardly even tasting it!

How often do I eat a burger? Rarely.

How often do I eat a burger with the PERFECT ratio of pickles to tomatoes? Even less often.

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And I’m just here gobbling it down like my dog would do, and worrying that I’ll choke it my haste!

Now, IF I, as a Christian, am the bride of Christ… and IF all good things in life come from Him, it would make sense that He gave me this burger.”

So I put myself in Jesus shoes (well, I tried at least) and suddenly I felt so small and ashamed.

Here was Jesus, creating a masterpiece of a burger just for me, and watching me to see if I liked it.

And there was me, chowing down in a terrible rush and not even tasting what I was eating, much less thanking the Lord for all the work He put into it, and for choosing to give it to me.

Preposterous!

I have a ways to go towards living in the heavenly kingdom, especially when I’m late for my second job of the day.

But I have decided that this earth’s–and, sad to say, especially North-East America’s– style of enjoying food is not for me. I’m going to live out of the peace of the kingdom I was created for, and take time to taste my food no matter how late I am.

And thank the Giver.

So if you want to join me, come on over! We can have some coffee, and take an entire half-hour out of our day to drink it while it’s still hot.

And to soak in the warmth of thankfulness.

Because we are so very cared for, and so very BLESSED!

I hope you {dance}

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Life is short.

But I’m not afraid. When I die, I hope you dance. I hope you do a full-out jig.

Stop giving me that awkward stare. I’m really not that crazy.

I attended a funeral last fall. Unfortunately, I’ve been at quite a few in the last year. But this one was traumatizing, unlike anything I’ve experienced previously or since, from the about-to-rain suffocation of the low-hanging storm clouds, to the crunching gravel beneath the wheels of the hearse, to the utter silence of the people, to the tomb-like, clammy chill in the air. The ghostly rustle of starched black fabric of the people walking towards the graveside was almost more than I could bear. What was the worst, though, was the total lack of communication and expression. Almost no one–out of hundreds–spoke to the grieving family. Almost no one cried.

And even though the one who died was a jubilant follower of Christ, no one celebrated.

When I die, I hope you dance.

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I hope you hug my family, and cry if you need to and laugh if you want to and don’t feel embarrassed if you do both at the same time. I hope you’ll understand that if your heart is sad, you don’t need to say a word. Just be. And realize the truth.

I am safe from the world of harm, and have the rest of eternity to explore my Father’s nature, to bask in His pure, unspeakable love, to uncover the mystery and beauty of an unseen kingdom.

It is a time to celebrate.

When I die, please don’t wear black. I hope you wear all the colors of the rainbow. Blue and orange and turquoise and yellow and every shade in between.

I hope you sing Blessed be Your Name. I hope you raise your hands towards heaven.

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I hope you clap. I think the Savior deserves that much expression, at least, for redeeming a creature like me and leading me safely home. It’s a home I’ll be ecstatic to be in.

I hope you celebrate. You can celebrate my life, if you really want to, but what I really hope you celebrate is my King.

Celebrate the glories of heaven. I don’t want the pastor to talk about ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all that racket. I want him to tell the gospel message. But don’t use the word “gospel”, please, Pastor. Use simple, everyday words like love, freedom and peace. Explain the Father’s love, because it is AMAZING, and I don’t think I told the ones I love enough about it and how it transformed my life. Vividly display it as best you can, Pastor. Jump around a little.

Get excited!

Tell about the passionate, unshakeable, transforming, peace-oozing love of an incredible Prince of Peace. Talk about His love for the downtrodden….. how He bore (literally carried, experienced, was wounded by) our griefs and carried (took upon Himself) our sorrows.

Make sure you mention that He definitely does not have a thing for flowery words or perfectly choreographed actions. He’s totally cool with the unspoken cry of a desperate heart or the collapsed form of a beggar. It’s the kind of medium He can work with best.

Basically, Pastor, just make sure you let everyone know that His love is here, now, forever and REAL.

When you lower my casket into the ground, I want the kids to have confetti and glitter to toss, because it will be a small chance for them to remember that they can join in the celebration of the angels, even though they are still stuck down here on earth.

I want a cloud of colorful balloons to be released into the air.

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I want the balloons to symbolize my spirit set free from the limitations of my old sin nature and flimsy body.

I want you to remember only one thing when I am gone. Eternity is real. Heaven is pretty unspeakably awesome, and I really hope we can spend it together. Cuz we’ll have way more fun than we ever did here on earth.

I hope that if you never thought about life after death, or a passionate Lover who can’t be seen with earth-eyes but can be felt when no visible person would dare to venture near you, or a Lord who is willing to forgive the darkest sin (trust me, you’ll never know what kind’s I’ve committed. I can talk.), if you never considered these things, I hope you’ll know that it’s not too late!!

There’s this cool love letter around. You don’t even need to go dig it off of some old dusty shelf. You can read part of it here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKmdIdQg3Ks

I hope that if you thought you’d never see me again, you’ll meet the King of Kings, and reconsider.

And when you truly meet Him, you will fall in love. And then, when your heart is at ease like you’ve never known before, and the smile of forgiven wrongs splits your face, and your eyes shine so brilliantly with the light of heaven that you surprise yourself when you look into the mirror, and the overwhelming reality of the love of your Heavenly Father comforts you in a way that you never though could be possible….

I hope you dance.

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I’ll be dancing too.