Tag Archives: Christianity

Merciful Days: Still doing the church thing?

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Still doing the church thing

So, after all these years, you’re still doing the church thing?

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I live with a man.  We share a bathroom sink, two kids, and a whole bunch of household chores.  I am here every day.  With him.  And the life we share.

I love to look into his eyes.  I love how his hand wraps around mine.  I love sharing life with him.  Even all the tired, boring, mundane parts.  We lean together to dream.  We lean together to make ends meet.  We lean together and face the odds.  And it is bliss.

He is good.  He is kind and generous.  He gives and loves and invests.  He is handsome and strong.  He is brilliant.  He is a natural engineer in every setting.  He finds answers when no when else has.  He fixes what no one else can.  He brings peace and stability and strength where ever he goes.  He is fun and funny.  He amazes me every day.

Life with him… in our rental apartment… with the heat at a bare minimum… and big dreams in our hearts… is glorious.

[Continue…]

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Merciful Days: Inspection Fear

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Inspection Fear

Heat-herding curtains hanging in the stair-well. Electric blanket on the bed. Drawers of summer clothes half-way traded for tubs of winter ones.  Outdoor play pieces and summer toys piled in the garage.  It’s Fall.  Suddenly.  Sadly. Unusually early.  The cold, rainy season is here.  And amidst all these season-change-over activities, I regretfully felt inspired to clean off a bookshelf and contemplate every book we own.  This resulted in piles upon piles of books waiting for new spots on our shelves.  (Or a trip to Half-Price Books if I can get my heart to admit that I’ve been treating books like they are family members.)

It was a mess.  An unending loop of uncompleted tasks. Daunting tasks that are great excuses for not completing other ones.  Like bathroom cleaning. Bed-linen washing. Meal planning. Homework supervising. Blog writing.

I haven’t quite got the hang of having a kid in school.  And our home is showing the fruit of my inadequacies. Our home looks like my heart and mind does.  Disorganized. Unraveling. Cluttered. In-process.

On Wednesday night I found out our landlord was coming to do an annual property inspection on Friday. [Continue…]

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Merciful Days: What I Need

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Neh 8v10Dinner time battle with the almost-3-yr-old. Him: “My body doesn’t need food.” Me: “Your body DOES need food to be strong and healthy.” Him: “Nope. My body needs toys.”

Yep.  Almost-three is a glorious age.  He makes me laugh.  And he makes me think. His funny commentary on life makes me think about important things.  Like whether I, too, prefer toys over food.

I mean, let’s be real.  I face this decision between toys and food in a hundred ways every day.

Something that will sustain me vs. Something that will be fun. What’s good for me vs. What’s exciting for me. Making medical bill phone calls vs. Having coffee with a friend. Beans and rice vs. Thai takeout. Nourishment vs. Entertainment. Essentials vs. Luxuries. Needs vs. Wants.

Please.  I want the fun choice every time.  Except I usually don’t choose fun because I’m responsible… or something. [Continue…]

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Merciful Days: Beautiful Words

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Ps 119v103“Your test results are really good.” My doctor smiled.

Oh what words!

I am one year and five months into a medical treatment that is projected to last for three to five years.  It feels like each day of the past one year and five months has been giant.  It’s been a fight.  One step forward and two steps back.  Battling an illusive monster.  It’s been quite a year… and five months.

My doctor is the only human who really knows what my past one year and five months has been like.  She has become very precious to me.  I long to see her.  She is my coach.  My trainer in this long race.  My cheerleader.  My advocate.  She knows my enemy.  She knows my story.  She knows how far I’ve come.  She is in the valley with me.  I have come to love her.

Her smiling words were so full.  Full of understanding and celebration. I have been so desperate to hear words like this.

Her words mean so much because she knows so much about me.  Her words carry more weight than any others.  Her words give me strength, joy, energy, focus, hope.

I’m thinking about my true Coach. Trainer. Cheerleader. Advocate. Guide. Mentor. Savior. Father. Shepherd. Hope.

[Continue…]

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Merciful Days: When Hope Vanishes

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mark 9v24b“I don’t want to keep living this way.” I prayed honestly.

“Have I failed you?” The Holy Spirit asked me.

I was praying about an amazing job my husband had applied for.  It seemed like the perfect fit for him.  And, to be honest, we are beyond ready for the lifestyle a traditional job brings.  So I begged God to open the door for him to have this job.  And I talked about the tiredness of my heart that has come in these years of gig-based self-employment.  … Oh, it was such a great job!  Perfect for my husband’s career journey.  AND it would change everything for us.  Regular income.  Medical benefits.  Paid vacation.  Please God.

“In all these years, have I ever failed you?” His Light pointed at the depths of my heart.

He showed me that in the depths of my heart, it was still there. [Continue…]

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Merciful Days: Beautiful Expectations

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Rom 8v16“And don’t forgot a note!” She sang at me while I packed her lunchbox this morning. “A note for my lunchbox!”

I had tucked a note into her lunchbox on her first day of school last week.  And I wrote a note for her second day too. And third. And fourth. And fifth. And sixth. And now the seventh.  Every day in her school career has featured a note from her mum.  She knows no school day without a note.  For her, it’s the norm.  She expects notes from me.

Guess what I decided today? I will be writing daily notes for my sweet daughter. Perhaps for the next 13 years.

As I folded today’s note into her pink princess sandwich box and thought about her beautiful expectation, I saw a challenge to my Faith.  An inspiration for my relationship with Yahweh. [Continue…]

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Merciful Days: Open Blinds

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Prov 27_9“Everyone opens their blinds in the morning. It’s weird that you have them closed.” His judgmental tone rang in my ears as he went around the room and pulled open all the bent and broken metal blinds.

He was happy.  I was not.

The “Youth House” was on the corner of the church property.  A busy suburban corner with lots of car and foot traffic.  The rental agreement was part of the terms of our employment.  The upstairs was ours exclusively.  The downstairs rooms and kitchen was shared with the church.  And that’s how our “living room” was also a meeting room.

It was a sweet old house.  One of the oldest in the neighborhood.  Lots of quirky charm.  Lots of potential. Terrible windows. Awful.  Single panes, warped aluminum frames, and inexplicably uncleanable glass.  We tried cleaning them but the dirt was permanent.  (How does that happen?)  We tried scraping the mislaid brush strokes from the glass but nothing removed that old, old paint.  And, anyway, I didn’t like how exposed our lives were to all the traffic that passed by so I was happy to leave the blinds closed.  It felt vulnerable to live in a house with a church sign out front.  And at night, when my husband was 45 minutes away working the graveyard shift at the children’s prison (yes, a children’s prison), I wondered how many people could work out that the windows didn’t really lock and how easy it would be to break in.  (I should note that my fears were not based in crazy suppositions because several of the youth group kids made a habit of climbing in through a window to wait for us if we weren’t home.)  All that to say, it was just better to keep the blinds closed.  It was better to keep things all closed up.

He took control of the room.  He decided his needs were most important.  In fact, I doubt he even thought there could be needs apart from his.  I doubt it even crossed his mind.  I wish he’d asked.  I wish he’d cared.  But he didn’t.  So I had to sit in that meeting feeling embarrassed and exposed.  Embarrassed that the windows were so dirty even though it wasn’t my fault.  And exposed to the view of all the passersby.  When the meeting ended and everyone was gone, I closed the blinds.

And I decided to move the meetings to a coffee shop where I didn’t have to feel embarrassed or exposed.

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Fourteen years ago we became fast friends when were thrown together on a youth ministry team.  She and I have gone through a lot together.  A lot.  We’ve planned and dreamed together.  We’ve prayed and cried.  We’ve giggled and celebrated.  We’ve ministered to hundreds of teens together.  We’ve shared and forgiven.  She knows things about me that no one else knows.   And in my darkest moments, she is the person I have called the most.  She is wise, loving, and she hears God’s voice.

At our latest coffee date she said, “I can tell you anything because I know that you love me and won’t judge me.”

Took the words right out of my mouth, sister!  Our friendship is very special.  Vulnerability, transparency, and a sisterhood that overcomes.

With her, I have open blinds.

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Everyone has reasons to live blinds-closed.  Everyone has something they want to hide.  Something that is best left unseen.  Something that makes them feel at risk.  Something that makes them feel too vulnerable.

As I listen to the friendship stories of women around me, I hear themes of judgment, rejection, pain, and humiliation.  Of being attacked, ridiculed and unloved.  And over time these women of deep beauty have pulled closed their blinds and walked away from being in community.  And in the process they have closed themselves off from much needed sisterhood and friendship.

What is the answer?  How can we have what we were made for?  Love and sisterhood.  Lives intertwined.  The joy of being known.  Of being truthful and vulnerable.  How can we have friendship?  Why is there so much pain involved in the friendships of women?  It’s a tragedy. [Continue…]