Saturday, December 1, 2012


Here's the thing about choices: they never go away. We all make them - everyday. Some are big; those decisions that we make at a crossroads in life with potential to lead us in two different [not necessarily opposite] directions. Some are mundane: the choice to get out of bed, get dressed, go to work or school. Some are both significant and mundane. For example, the choice to be diligent in your education will have a significant impact on your future and future options, although the day-to-day of choosing to study and learn might feel insignificant in the moment.

Our choices belong to us, and we need to own them. I make many decisions for my children, but I also make it very clear that when they have a choice, it is theirs. Even in the decisions that are made on their behalf, they have choices; embrace that circumstance with a good attitude or wallow in a sea of emotions based on their feelings about that decision.

We are free to think. We are free to feel. We are free to love. These are basic fundamental rights, given to us not by human authority. They cannot be taken from us, only relinquished. We can let others think for us. We can allow our hearts to become calloused. We can reject love or refuse to give it. But these choices are ours.

Just as choices belong to individuals, so do the consequences that follow.

We can shift our decision-making habits...and in doing so, carve out a new direction for our lives. However, the decisions of our past cannot be erased. They are there. They can be both forgotten and forgiven, but they are forever engraved in our history.

It is sobering, really, to consider this - and could be overwhelming if we consider it too much. I don't advise it. But I do suggest that we take inventory of the current choices we are making. What choices have I made in the past? Where did those decisions lead me; what were the consequences? What consequences might my current decisions have?

It is a painful thing to watch people you love choose over and over what they know, not only from education, but from intimate experience as well, hurts them and hurts the people they truly love the most. We cannot make our past choices go away; and we cannot erase the consequence they bring. But we are not enslaved by choice. Choice is freedom. And while many decisions may be made for us - and sometimes our current choices are limited as a result of our past decisions, we are always free to determine for ourselves how we will respond in our hearts, actions, words, - our lives.

That's the other thing about choice. We can't make a choice for someone else. We can make a decision or a selection for them. We can force them to action in various ways, but ultimately, choice belongs to an individual. We can make someone do right, but we can't make them want to. We can  educate, nurture, or convince another person to make a good decision - but we can't force someone to think, feel, listen [not to be confused with 'hear'], or care.

Oftentimes as a parent, friend, family-member I find myself wanting to make that choice for someone. Many times, it is easy to see the path that certain choices lead to; sometimes because I've walked there myself before, and/or witnessed others venture down those roads. It doesn't take a rocket scientist - just open eyes, unclouded by self-focus and a lust for pleasure at any cost. And, there have been moments in my own life, when I was unable to foresee or simply content to ignore the consequence of poor choices that I made. It requires wisdom [and often courage] to know when we need to speak up and try to reason with our loved ones to recognize the value of their choices. I often evaluate my personal relationships by who is willing to say hard things to me - and love me still; I know those are the people who truly care. And there are also times when discretion will lead us to quietly watch, pray, and ache, knowing that the choice is simply not ours to make. We cannot take responsibility for the decisions that someone else makes, but we must for our own.

In these moments of painfully observing destructive choices that others make, our own choice is often whether to speak up or be silent. Neither one is a conclusively 'right' answer in every situation; and it may be a significant or casual resolve. But that choice, like every choice we make, is permanent in that moment. Time doesn't have a history brush, or a backspace, or a button to rewind or pause.

People come and go, time slips past us. But the choices we make about how we engage the world around us are written forever in history. Though few may be remembered, they never go away. Perhaps that consideration alone makes them significant to some degree. I think our most significant choice is one that many of us overlook or ignore: what do we do with Jesus? Because, like it or not, that decision effects everything. Even if you are not a Christian, so much of our culture and even our world has been shaped by the teachings of [or the rejection of] the Bible, and how we respond to the Gospel does impact us. As believers, how we respond to the Gospel in our daily life is significant too.

"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." - James 2:12-26

Without a change of action, without a commitment to God-honoring choices, our spiritual words are hollow and our faith is worth nothing.

I think Dr. Del Tackett posed a poignant question: "Do you believe that what you believe is really real?" It is applicable to any of us, Christian or not. Our worldview and spiritual beliefs will effect our choices and likewise, our choices reflect what we really believe about others, the world around us, ourselves and the very purpose and worth of our existence.

"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." - Joshua 24:15

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Abolition of Man - Excerpts from an Interview

I love words and language and writing.
I even love letters; the shape and form...

After listening to this radio interview [below] a few days ago [which someone suggested to me], the information has been haunting my thoughts. It is so disturbing to me that we pass over the seriousness of what is happening before us and glaze it over – whether we recognize that this is what we are doing or not – with a nicer word, or a softer meaning. Or just the opposite – we infuse a word with meaning it does not hold, and infiltrate what should be innocently perceived with an implication of the polar extreme.

Many of the thoughts below have concerned my mind for years - this twisting of words and meanings. Now, the subject of abortion and homosexuality are addressed in this interview, and if you haven't already had a conversation [or read my thoughts] about these topics, I'm happy to talk about them with you if you'd like. If you have already, you know that my perspective and attitude is not one of condemnation. If you've had an abortion, I don't want you to think that I have written you off as "evil". However, we have to talk about the reality of what is being done. We manipulate definitions and meanings to comply with our purpose, and I say this gently - but with certain conviction – this manipulation of language is wrong, friends.

We use terms like "War on Women". I appreciate hyperbole, but let's clear things up a little, shall we? Who’s been in a war lately? Do you see masses of women being gunned down in America? No? Oh yeah. That’s because the war is not, in fact, on women. The war is on the innocent and helpless children we carry who are being brutally destroyed in alarming callousness and breathtaking numbers.

I feel as though I’m living in the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. We are all so afraid of possibly offending someone that we just nod and pretend not to see what is just so very clear. Please, someone…just call naked, ‘naked’.  It’s naked. Our arguments and our justifications are naked. There’s nothing there. We skirt around the issue, we call it something new, we re-direct the heat of the debate – but look me in the eye and tell me it’s okay to kill your baby. Listen to their heartbeat, watch their movement – see life begin and grow and form – and tell me that it is not life. All the other issues are secondary to the big issue. Is it naked or not? Are we destroying human lives? I’m not saying or even suggesting that there are no valid concerns and agonizingly difficult circumstances and situations that women are faced with – and I’m not minimizing these. But the real core question we have to answer is the question of life. Instead, we stare mute at the bare Emperor. Not only do we not call ‘naked’ what it is, we also allow ourselves to be stripped down, so as not to “appear ignorant”. I don’t say this to shame anyone, but to encourage us all to speak up. Be the little kid who questions, “Why is the Emperor naked?” To which the whole crowd gasps in half-sincere horror, “Did he say, ‘naked’?!”  

Where is the truth? Even the word “church” is misleading, I think. We don’t GO to church, Christian, we ARE the church. Entertaining “Christian” music is not “worship”.  And it is NOT a Bible study if you are studying Beth Moore. [It’s a Beth Moore study…just sayin’.]

Words like "tolerance", "hate", "bigotry" - are all so very often misused. Another word: "judge" ["judgment", "judging"...], is also spoken with blurred meaning. "Committed" and "commitment" have little value left, it seems. We are often in a "committed" relationship that we are unwilling to actually commit to.

Don’t get me started on “swear words”. Okay, actually, I have to say something here. It drives me crazy when I hear young girls call each other “bitch” or “whore”, in place of “friend”. And the term “pimp” should never be used to describe anything attractive or glamorous.

I digress. The point is: language is valuable. Words mean something. Not only should words be spoken thoughtfully, but truthfully.

Is it all just about spoken sound? It there really no deeper significance? As I consider all that is before us in this upcoming election, and the use of words that surround debates and campaigns and conversations, I cannot help but to think that there is, in fact, profound significance to language and definition. Let’s not be so brilliant in our “forward thinking” that we neglect, to a devastating fault, the wisdom of history behind us. Let’s not forget the past and so let it again become our future. Let’s not ignore the insight of a 76-year-old man who has witnessed brutality that most of us have absolutely no true concept of. Why? Because men and women dedicated their lives and blood to our freedom.

Let’s not forget what freedom means – it’s not the right to do whatever we want to. It is the right to be free – to think, to speak , to live, to enjoy our liberty. We seem to think it is the right to impose our freedom on others. We throw out phrases like, “It’s a free country!” like bratty, careless, self-absorbed adolescents, who have no respect for the reality of what that freedom cost, or even means. We’re like children who grow to learn no sense of material value or financial concern, because our parents have always provided for us and we were never taught to appreciate their generosity – only in regard to freedom, not finance.

Now I’m way off topic. Words mean something. They are significant. Here’s a few bits from that radio discussion…

The Abolition of Man
[Excerpts from a radio interview with Uwe Siemon-Netto, a former war correspondent for German newspapers, by Chris Rosebrough]

Chris Rosebrough:

You need to understand the fundamental problem that’s going on here…

Some people are going to just have, like, a conniption for me making this…drawing this connection; this parallel, but this parallel is historical and it’s factual.

It was the Nazis, it was the fascists who engaged in language deconstruction…who played all of these word games and they were taught how to do this…

And the Nazis employed it to diabolical ends; they were brilliant with language deconstruction.

We are literally having language stripped away from us and we don’t even perceive that that is what is happening. Words have meaning and they need to be discussed with those meanings attached to them - with all of the horrific consequences and logical conclusions that go with that language for very specific reasons, and when we lose language, we’re literally giving up the battlefield. You’re giving away the tools and the weapons that you need in order to fight for the truth when you give away language and meaning.

In the political discourse that’s been taking place in this country regarding particular issues, the words have been sanitized; the real issue is not being discussed because the language has been taken away from us.

You need to start wrapping your mind around what is really going on. We are on the fast track to a major catastrophe in civilization and we’re doing this to ourselves and what’s greasing the skids is our loss of language and the loss of being able to discuss things factually, correctly and truthfully using specific words that have particular meanings.

Uwe Siemon-Netto:

Let’s step back for a second. What is abortion? It is the willful destruction of human life. Life begins at conception. We know this: it’s scientifically true. We know that a new person grows in a mother’s womb…this person has a different DNA than the mother, it has all the information, all the genetic information – it’s a new person. I’m saying this is, of course, the equivalent of what has happened in Nazi Germany. Nazis didn’t start out killing Jews. They first of all killed handicapped people. The Nazis created a term, it’s: ‘life not worthy of living’. So, in other words, a human being – in this case, the Nazis: in the case of abortion, the mother, the doctors and the father, presumably – decide which life is worth living and which life is not.

We’re not talking theology. We’re talking fact here. This is historical.

The Nazis killed approximately 6 million Jews and then 500,000 gypsies in concentration camps in three, four years time. The United States alone, since Roe v. Wade, has killed 55 million people – children, innocent people, were killed. Why were they –are they – being killed? Because it wasn’t convenient – in more than 90% of all cases - it didn’t suit the parents to have a baby. It wasn’t convenient to carry out this pregnancy because obviously the child could have been brought up through adoption after birth, so therefore it’s not even an imposition on the mother other than she would have to carry out this pregnancy.

Okay, now let’s jump forward to this current campaign…

…we don’t call it abortion. We don’t call it what it is. But we call it a social issue! A social issue is when I go to a ball or a banquet whether I wear black tie or tails. That’s a social issue. It’s a social issue whether you affirm or deny affirmative action. These are social issues. Or how many weeks vacation you get. This [abortion] is not a social issue. This is an issue that pertains to none other than life and death and it is absolutely despicable that [political figures] talk about this as a “social issue”.


Words are being redefined and euphemisms are being put forward when we’re discussing these important issues. They’re being trivialized in such a way that words don’t mean anything and it’s as if both sides have kind of bought-in to this post-modern way of manipulating language and words in such a way as to obfuscate real meaning…


All these horrible words that Americans have introduced to the English language…
The destruction of human life – we don’t call this ‘destruction of human life’, we don’t even call it abortion anymore. We call it: choice. What’s a choice? Do I, as a growing baby in my mother’s womb, have a choice of being born or being slaughtered – and in ways that are the equivalent of the tortures suffered by people in the middle ages?? Absolutely wrong!  It is killing. Why don’t we call it? It is horrifying.


Calling abortion a ‘social issue’ – that utterly trivializes it. The way the word issue is kicked around, it just basically means, there’s something in your life that’s kinda making things…the results not exactly what you want it to be.  So now, abortion is an issue?! I mean, let me kinda put it starkly: no one discusses the holocaust as “an issue”.  And this, in the United States, - the systematic murdering of over 50 MILLION people is being discussed as, ‘an issue’.


And the ongoing murder of approximately 1.2 million people every year. …as an ‘issue’, which we can sideline for the sake of the economy. We are talking about a genocide here. Like those Germans, that I can remember after war, in their embarrassment over what happened, said, yeah, you know, it wasn’t very nice of Hitler to kill all those Jews, he was probably wrong doing it, BUT we have to remember he was good for the German economy or seemed good for the German economy… sidelining what really mattered: life.

That to me is frightening and I have very, very dark premonitions about where this is heading because, they’re not talking to their children about that… Truth has to be learned. We’re talking about ultimate truth. It’s true that I am 76 years old and living in California. That’s an ultimate truth. These truths have to be learned. Now, since schools don’t teach these truths anymore, since more and more parents no longer bring up their children in the truth and in telling the truth, we are in trouble. Now I must say…by saying ‘social issue’ they are already telling an untruth: it’s murder.


I think this is exactly what C.S. Lewis was writing about in his book, The Abolition of Man, which was written in 1943. He literally starts off the book talking about the importance of teaching English in school and gave examples of how people wrongly using English literally will end up unraveling society and leading to the abolition of man or what he calls, “men without chests”. It’s not that nothing good comes from language deconstruction, but historically, the worst atrocities committed against humanity have been done by people who have, as a fundamental working in their way of thinking, the right to just willy-nilly change language in order to blunt, shunt, and push away the truth. We need to be aware of this. Changing the meaning of words in order to subvert the truth - that’s the trick of the devil.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Pedi Argument

Little Sister: "Will you rub my feet?"

Big Brother:
[with a look of offended disgust] "Why do you think I would rub your feet? I'm not your mom. I'm not your husband. I'm your brother. No!"

Little Sister: *pause - think* [nods in agreement & walks away]


You know those people who are just different...abnormal...strange, who don't act and think and speak like everyone else, who don't meet the status quo, who defy social expectations, the awkward...the weirdos?

That's me.

It hit me last weekend. I'm weird. I mean, I've never really "fit in" with the "cool crowd". [Hello - I'm still using the word "cool"...] In high school I had a few popular friends, but they were only my friends when no one else was around. I have a list of humiliating memories [some are more recent than others]. I'm kind of nerdy and awkward...I've know this about myself for awhile now. And, to be honest, I'm really pretty okay with that. I now realize that the whole "fitting in" thing really isn't all it's cracked up to be.

HOWEVER, I was abruptly reminded few days ago, just how weird other people think I am. Ha! Sigh.

It all began at a family gathering. [These sort of revelations often do, I suppose.] My brother-in-law and his girlfriend [who are in their 30's] were sitting in the hot tub. I was sitting at the table on the deck beside them and the conversation began something like this:

His girlfriend: " did you two [my husband and I] meet?"

Okay, so the rest of the conversation is mostly irrelevant to the story...I'll skip the details of our love story for now and cut to the point: I married J. when I was only 19. He was my high-school sweetheart [sort-of]. Really, I adored him from the day I met him and we became best friends who knew we loved each other and planned to marry one day. We didn't "date" like most people date. By the time we were dating we had already talked about marriage. I was 15 when our friendship began. He is four years older.

Alright, you have the basic background. As I'm telling the story to her [who, by the way - I just met], my Mother-in-Law, who is also sitting at the table nearby interjects: "And they didn't have sex until they were married!"

To which my Brother-in-Law bursts out in laughter. His girlfriend glances back and forth between him and I, unsure of what the appropriate response is, and then finally settles for a look of confusion and subtle amusement. "Really?" She asked though she were afraid to put me on the spot. Meanwhile, his laughter turns to concern. "Oh wait, is she serious? That's not a joke?" was written all over his eyes.

Mom: "Heather's first kiss was on her wedding day." Then she twirled around to face my 12-year-old niece. "You know the story, right? I tell you about it all the time. Who do your kisses belong to...???"

Embarrassed and slightly annoyed, my niece chanted back: "I know. Jesus."

My brother chuckling again, nervously. His girlfriend is still waiting in bewilderment for an answer. I nod. "It's true." Then excuse myself to check on the oven.

I shuffled into the kitchen, tying to think though the awkwardness of it all. It sounds crazy and weird. I know it does. But it wasn't. I mean, it was because I wanted to kiss him. But it was really special to wait. It was really loving for him to wait for me. I knew he wanted me because he loved ME and everything else was icing on the cake.

No one ever told me that I HAD to wait until we were married to kiss him, or that my kisses belonged to Jesus. I made a commitment in my own heart that I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day.

I remember several years before I knew J. very well, another guy I knew had asked me if he could kiss me. I smiled and said, "No." He was surprised. "Why not?" He asked. "You don't like me?"

"No, I do."


"Well,...I" I hesitated. I knew it was weird.

"Just tell me..."

By now my cheeks felt hot. "Okay. Um... I kind of want my first kiss to be on my wedding day."

He stared. It was the same look that my brother's girlfriend gave me in the hot tub: bewilderment. "Oh. Huh. [pause] I kind of expected you to tell me you have a boyfriend." I shook my head. There was a long and awkward pause. Then he spoke again, "So...really? You've never been kissed before?"

[Super embarrassed now...] "No."

"Wow. Uh, well, I think that's cool. I mean, I can't do that, but man it really makes me want to kiss you now! You sure you want to wait?"

I laugh and sigh, slightly relieved that he might sort-of understand. "Yeah."

"Okay, then. Sorry, that was um...well...I respect that," he shrugged. "I hope you get that first kiss."

Our friendship quickly changed. He was not at all interested in me anymore. He treated me with a new kind of respect/caution, as though I were an item displayed in a museum, roped off with a "do not touch" sign to be briefly admired and then passed by, and gave his attention to other girls.

Fast forward several years. I am crazy about J. and have not yet told him about the kiss thing. I've been playing the scenario in my head. What will I say? What will I do if he tries to kiss me? Is it even that important to me? What if that's too weird for him? I decided to tell him, but if it was a deal-breaker for him, then I would forget that whole "first kiss on my wedding day" thing - it wasn't worth losing him.

When that moment came, and I thought he might kiss me, I told him. I wanted my first kiss to be on my wedding day, but I understood it that was too weird for him. His expression was intrigue. He thought a moment...a really, really long moment. "I want that for you." He answered. From then on he was as committed to my decision as I was [at times, more committed than I was] and my lips were kissed for the first time when the pastor said, "You may kiss the bride."

Now - full disclosure here people: J. kissed me before we were married. He'd kissed my cheek and my forehead and my hand. But only my husband has ever kissed my lips.

Back to the original story. Brother-in-Law's girlfriend followed me into the kitchen a few minutes later. "Really?" She asked again. I nodded. "Wow. That is so awesome! I'm jealous. I'm really so jealous."

J. and I talked about it later.

"I don't have any regrets, Heather. Do you?" He asked.

"No." I smile.

No regrets.

Now, just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that others should wait until they are married to kiss, or that I think it is wrong to kiss before you are married.

But that's part of our story. For us, it was a way to love each other. It was a way for him to show me that he loved me for more than just outer beauty and the pleasure I could give him. It was a way for me to show my husband that I respected him and honored him enough to share my beauty and my body only with him. It was really intimate to not kiss. How weird is that?! And now, lucky, lucky me...I get to kiss him all the time.

Maybe I was just young and ignorant, but I never even considered whether we would enjoy having sex once we were married. That just kind of seemed obvious. "Sexual compatibility" didn't ever cross my mind. I loved that man. I knew he loved me. I was incredibly happy holding his hand, being held in his arms. I knew we would enjoy sex with each other. And for us, sex isn't just sex. Yes it is physical and fun; but it's more than that too. Sex is an expression of our commitment and love. It is comfort when we are hurting. It is celebration when we are joyful together. It is intimacy and passion.

I don't know what it is like to sleep with a man and wake up never to see him again. I don't know what it is to share my heart with someone and have them walk away because they became bored of our relationship. I can imagine. And I think it would shatter me.

So, while some might think it strange, or odd, or not believe it is even possible, I'm kind of glad that I'm a weirdo. I am thankful for my husband, who not only accepted my weirdness, but adored it. Here we are 11 years later with no regrets. Our marriage isn't a perfect "happily ever after". But I am really thankful for the love we share, and the story we have to tell - even if it is a little weird.

Monday, July 30, 2012



It is my daughter's middle name.
It is what we call the prayer we say before a meal.
It is getting what we don't deserve.

It is unnatural to me.

When that one person who really deserves to be smacked upside the head is hurting - albeit over messes they have created for his/herself - and my response is compassion, that's unnatural. It's not my own "gracious" nature responding to that person. That is the Spirit of a loving God at work in my heart as I open my mouth to speak.

My mind says, "let 'em have it", and my words come out heart sympathizes with the remorse and the guilt and the shame. Why? Because I too have fallen short of perfection. I have failed the people I love [and the people I should have loved better]. I have strayed from the path and walked on the proverbial lawn with that huge, prominently displayed "DO NOT WALK ON THE GRASS" sign right in front of me.

I have sinned.

We all have sinned, and don't measure up to the glory that God displays in His character.

Yet, while we were still living in our sin - disregarding the warnings, ignoring our consciences and choosing to do what made us feel good in the moment over what is right and honorable...even in that moment, whatever that moment is for each of us, He still loved us. He still loves you.

And He paid the ultimate price to prove it. The payment for sin is death. That's what our wrongdoing earns us. That's the punishment. He paid it for us. Jesus died in my place, so that I might live.

He loved me, He released me from the hopeless situation I was in, He forgave me. And He continues to show me kindness and patience and gentleness that I do not deserve. He pours out grace in my life - everyday.

And when that one person who I feel really needs a swift kick in the pants calls, and all I can think of is the character of this God I serve, and the extravagant grace that He has shown me, my words come out stronger than I ever thought they could. Because it is so easy to spew out the treatment that people deserve when they have done wrong, but it takes strength and discernment to set aside the rightful hurt that we need to "let out" and instead say what that person needs to hear.

And once we have recognized the grace in our own lives, who are we - really, who are we, not to also respond in grace with one another? It is humbling to acknowledge our sin and our need for forgiveness. It is also so good to be forgiven and it is so healing to love.

Will that person [the one who needs a boot to the butt] continue to make bad decisions?? Guaranteed. And so will I. Maybe not the same decisions, but we both need grace when we recognize our stupidity and want to change. And neither of us deserve it.

It is a gift.

Find someone to give it to. [My guess is, you already know whose name belongs on the tag.] May you recognize the great love that our God and Savior Jesus Christ has extended to us, and be an ambassador of His love to that "Gah!!-Seriously?-What-could-possibly-make-you-think-that's-a-good-idea!!" someone that doesn't deserve it. Because let's face it, that's you and me too sometimes. And, well, He tells us to.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength...and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus summed up every rule with those few words. Love God. Love people.

Be gracious and watch God be glorified in your life - maybe even in that relationship.

I'd love to hear how He uses grace in your lives to do great things...
And I'm going to watch and pray to see how He is glorified in my own situation.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rejecting the Right to be Angry

When my husband arrives at the door after work, the entire house erupts in chaotic excitement. Little toddler tippy-toes dance full-speed ahead in an attempt to beat older siblings to the entrance in our kitchen. Sometimes the children run and hide, giggling in place as they wait for Dad to notice they are missing and being a game of hide-and-seek in an attempt to find them. Other times, there is a rush of energy as they hurry to finish a task, usually picking up their toys, so Dad will be proud of them for cleaning up. But always, there is commotion. Shouts of joy and exclamatory outbursts can be heard throughout our home: "Daddy's here! Daddy's here!"

Yesterday was no exception.

Little L. ran to the door, her chubby two-year-old legs working overtime to keep up with her outstretched arms. "Daddy!!" She was ready to leap into his arms before his keys had even turned the lock. The older two ran in behind her and quickly began chattering, less concerned about whether anyone was paying any attention and more interested in relieving the in-suppressible need to verbally release all the information that their little minds had been storing throughout the day, waiting patiently for an opportunity to tell Dad every detail he might have missed.

I stood there across the room and smiled. Our eyes met and he smiled back and said a simple, "Hi." Then untangling the children from his legs, he walked over to kiss me.

The children had more to say, so I walked back into the next room to resume folding laundry. Eventually, the kids dispersed to continue their own activities, which they had previously abandoned when they heard Dad's car door shut in the driveway, and I returned to the kitchen. He turned to face me and leaned his back against the counter. I stood near the stove.

"So," I asked, "How did it go."

He shrugged, smirked, then smiled and sighed. "It went good." His tone was not confident.

"What does that mean?" I pried for a more explicit answer.

He looked at me knowingly and began to explain. "You know, it's one of those things that you can either get mad about or look at it as an opportunity to learn something and grow from it."

My smile diminished and I could feel the warm tears welling. I knew I would not like whatever I was about to hear. He knew it too.

"I'm just choosing not to let it make me angry. I want to recognize my own part in it and I want to be better because of it. I want you to do the same."

I just looked at him. No reply. He knows me, I'm already angry and I don't even know why yet. His smile was understanding, compassionate and reassuring. "I need you to be forgiving, because if you get angry about it, it is just going to make me angry and I don't want that. I just needed to say that before I tell you anything else."

My heart sank as he went on to share with me the details of his meeting. What he learned that day would give anyone cause to feel angry. Yet he stood there, saddened, but gracious as he gently explained it all. Not once did his voice raise. Not once did he speak unkindly about anyone. He humbly accepted more responsibility than I know he needs to own. I knew he was devastated inside, but determined; he was angry about what had taken place, yet refused to become embittered by it, refused to dwell in that anger. Instead, his response to the whole situation, and especially to this information, has been perhaps one of the most beautiful things I have witnessed in his life during the fifteen years that I have known him.

While the children squealed and laughed in the other room, my heart was torn between the natural reaction to news like this and the one my husband had not only asked me to have, but was modeling for me. Every time I felt that heat of fury burning in my gut, I thought of him. He was the one who should be most enraged. He wasn't. He had every human right to be angry about this, but he chose not to. I realized what a brave and strong man I am married to.

To do right is certainly commendable. But to choose, even in the privacy of your own home, in the familiarity and safety of your own heart, to embrace what is right - that is truly strength of character. Anyone can modify their behavior publicly or say nice things in front of others. Integrity is doing right regardless of who sees or doesn't see, it is consistency of character. It takes strength to choose to reject the right to be angry and instead to respond with forgiveness towards those who have wronged us.

My husband is truly the very best man I know. He is wise. He is humble and teachable and forgiving. He is a living and honest example to me of love. And although, he is imperfect, as I look at the definition of love, he is all these things. I don't say that just to flatter him. I live life with him everyday and he really does live an example of love - not perfect love, but one of the best examples I have ever witnessed. I am so honored to know this man and to share life with him and to walk through disappointments with him. If not for his example, my heart would be a mess right now. But he is so confident in his determination to do what is right, that I cannot help but to want to follow his lead and let go of my right to be angry and to remember the abundant grace that our God has offered  each of us. I have been forgiven for so much, I must also forgive others.

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It is not rude. It is not selfish. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails. [1 Corinthians 13]

In what might have been one of the most devastating moments in our lives so far, there is peace and joy that overwhelm the discouragement and sadness; there is love, whose brilliance outshines the shadows of injustice and anger.

It is no wonder that our home explodes with excitement when Daddy arrives - even on days when he brings sad news along with him. He fills our home with hope and kindness, protection and love.

I am blessed.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday Morning

You know those times when you sit there in a church service and hear the words and listen to the message, and it is applicable to your life and you walk away from that time convicted, challenged or encouraged to face the week ahead? Today's message at church was not like that.

Instead, it was as though the entire morning had been carefully orchestrated specifically for us. The second we sat down, we knew...this is what we need to hear. The lyrics during worship were exactly what was in my heart and what I needed to cry out to Him; that life may be challenging and disappointing and unfair - but He is good and holy and worthy. Our circumstances don't change who He is, instead, He changes our perspective in our circumstances.

I knew as we were getting ready this morning that discouragement and sorrow were beginning to well in my heart again. I also knew that I was determined to worship Him, even if I don't understand, even if I am brokenhearted, even if I feel doubt and confusion - I will still follow Him. I will continue to practice trusting Him. I will be thankful.

When the pastor spoke, it was as though a good friend, who understood all we were feeling and everything we were facing, sat down beside us and reminded us of the truth of His Word, walking us through each verse we needed to hear. Our confidence is in a God who loves us, who sees and understands what we cannot and who is more than able to meet all our needs according to His good purpose.

It is easy to say all that in one breath, and grieve our circumstances with the next. The real test is in walking through the difficult circumstances we find ourselves in from time to time [or, perhaps, painfully often] and choosing, each moment, to praise Him - to trust Him.

It is so helpful for me to look at our relationship to our children. We have one in particular who is irrationally dramatic sometimes and before this child even has an opportunity to process information or a situation, this child's reaction becomes instant fear, discouragement, hopelessness. Words like "never" and "always" erupt in bursts of un-checked dramatic exclamations. Often when we want to give this child something good, before we even have an opportunity to explain, this melodramatic display surfaces and the entire plan is dampened by the illogical behavior.

Maybe we react this way a little with God.

Instead of just waiting patiently for Him to explain the whole plan, we jump to conclusions, assuming that because things are not going the way we thought they would, everything is ruined. [Insert hand on forehead and fake swooning...] Or rather than trusting that even if there is no foreseeable plan or answer or conclusion in our favor, that He loves us, wants what is best for us and is not only willing, but able to protect us and help us. That doesn't mean nothing bad ever happens, it just means that He knows, cares about those hurts and has a purpose in allowing them in our lives - even if we never are able to fully understand the "whys".

We teach our children that they need to learn to trust us - even when they don't understand. I imagine our heavenly Father, the God who made the world and everything in it - who formed us with design and purpose and knows the intricacies of both our bodies and our spirits, expects that same respect from us.

That's kind of what it boils down to. Respect. If I believe that He is God and that His Word is true, why would I question or fear or become discouraged? We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. If God is for us, who can be against us?

This is a verse that was brought to mind this afternoon: So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I just need to love Him. That's it. If I love Him, I will listen to Him, I will walk in obedience and do what is right. If I know Him, I will know that He is to be trusted. He clothes flowers and feeds sparrows. He loves us. I won't waste time wondering and worrying and wishing. But instead, I will invest myself in worship. I will commit my heart to trusting His character and wisdom, rather than my own. I will find contentment in His company, rather than seek satisfaction in something innate or unattainable. My confidence cannot lie in what we see alone, because our eyes can trick us to believe we see something different from what really is. My perspective is so very narrow, there is a whole world of insight and understanding that I could not possibly gain in a lifetime. I am like my child in my understanding compared to the Lord, [if even that wise].  He knows better and if I am wise, I will continue to let my confidence rest in Him.

I'm so encouraged to know that He works things together for our good and for His purposes - even preparing today's message for us. He is kind.