Easter Saturday

(Originally written about 4 years ago.  Today, I feel the redemption ache of Easter Saturday just as strongly as I ever have.)

For Christians, holy week is all about remembering and celebrating. There’s Maundy Thursday when we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, Good Friday when we remember his trip to Golgotha and the dark day of his death. And then, of course, there’s Easter Sunday when we celebrate the miracle of resurrection. All of this remembering and celebrating is good, but I wonder why we never give a second thought to Saturday. Plain old, ordinary Saturday… that pause, that middle place between what may well be the most terrible day in history and the most triumphant. 

The Bible is almost silent on the events of Saturday. Three of the gospels never mention it at all, and Matthew tells us only that Saturday was the day when Jesus’ grave was reinforced and guarded to avoid a resurrection scam by his desperate followers. I wonder where the disciples were on Saturday… what they were doing and what they were thinking. I imagine that there was a lot of grief, a lot of effort made to go through the motions of normal life. I imagine feelings of disappointment and betrayal (“we thought this guy was the Messiah… where is the kingdom that he promised?”). Maybe there was a twinge of hope flitting about the edge of their consciousness, but I hardly believe this was the prevailing emotion of the day. 

With the benefit of hindsight, maybe we see Saturday a bit differently. We know what’s coming, so the expectation is palpable. The grief is real, the terror is real… but it is not the end. We believe, we know, that death will be swallowed up in victory. But still, Saturday is a waiting time. 

If I’m honest, I have to admit that much of my life is spent living like it’s Saturday. I believe that redemption is possible… that individuals and families and communities and social structures can change. I believe that mercy can triumph over judgment. I believe that grace and healing and deliverance are real and that they are powerful. I pray for these things. I work for them in the ways that I think are best. But I still find myself in the middle place where reality and expectation collide, where life experience and future hope aren’t always woven together as seamlessly as I would like them to be. 

And I think that this is ok. Is it important to linger at the cross and experience the depth of darkness that Good Friday brings? I think so. Is it important to linger at the empty tomb and revel in the miracle of Easter Sunday? Absolutely. But I think that the pause in between is important too. If we want to take our faith seriously, I think we must learn how to live well on Saturday. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

When Childhood Needs a Little More Magic

14

This article has been blowing up my newsfeed lately.  Apparently it resonates with a lot of parents, and if I had had come to motherhood differently, I may have “liked” it myself and moved on.  But, alas, my journey to being a mom came via the road less travelled, and I feel compelled to lend a different voice to the discussion.

Childhood is supposed to be magical.  Ok.  Pinterest makes people crazy.  Yep.  But leaving aside the 22% of American children living under the poverty line (often more concerned with survival than magic) things are not always as they seem.

I spent a good chunk of time after becoming a mom trying to convince myself that parenting is parenting is parenting.

It’s not.

Some of us are parenting children who have lived both too much and not enough in their short years.

Some of us are parenting children who must learn unlearn unhealthy independence to learn dependence to learn healthy independence.

Some of us are parenting children who battle physiological impulses that make emotional regulation hard and, in some moments, actually impossible.

Some of us are grieving the days and months and years we lost with our children and endeavoring mightily to make up for lost time.

Some of us are parenting children who need a little (or a lot) more magic in their lives.

And so…

What looks like babying might be building secure attachment.

What looks like micromanagement might be creating situations where a child can interact successfully.

What looks like extravagance might be creating a family story that runs deeper than blood.

What looks like spoiling might be a visual promise that there will never again be too little.

What looks like manufacturing magic might be learning that it is ok to be a kid.

My point is not that we should all obsess over Pinterest, overschedule our kids and give them lots of toys.

My point is precisely that because our kids are different, we should not ALL do anything.

Except maybe smile.

And tell that other mama that she’s doing a good job too.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Are we asking the wrong question?

I am a firm believer that God is big enough to handle all of our questions.  All of our doubts.  All of our emotions.

And that any kind of communication with God is better than no communication.

I have been a Christian for a long time.  I’ve heard a lot of sermons, read a lot of books.

And the truth is, when bad things happen to good people (though I know all the “right” things to say) the question that always bubbles to the surface is why.

Why, God?

In John 9, Jesus and his disciples happened upon a blind man, a beggar.

Why?  The disciples asked.

Why is this man blind?  Or, maybe, why is he mooching off those of us with real jobs?  Did he sin?  Was it his parents?

Their why was demanding, accusatory.

They were looking for a cause.

Jesus was less concerned with the cause (though he made a point to let his disciples know that it was neither the man’s sin nor his parents’).

Jesus answered the why question with an eye toward purpose.

Why is this man blind?  So that the work of God may be displayed in his life.

Cause is they why of the past.  The why that can’t be changed.  The why of chromosomal abnormalities, of horrible wasting diseases, of innocence lost, of senseless tragedy.

Purpose is the why of the present and the future.  The why with restorative power.

Why?  So that God’s work can be displayed.

Through miraculous, sudden healing.

Or through learning to live without it.

The most beautiful people I know are not the ones who refuse to ask.

The ones who pretend that everything is ok.

No.

The most beautiful people I know are the brave ones.  The broken ones.  The real ones.  The ones who question and feel and press into the why seeking purpose.

The most beautiful ones, along with our blind man, are the ones who emerge from the trial with hard-earned stories of grace and faithfulness.

2 Comments

Filed under sermon notes

3 Parenting Books I’m Glad I Read (and a bonus!)

Image

 

Since I’ve become a mom, I’ve read just about every parenting book I can get my hands on.  Most of them are forgettable.  A few, I’ve yelled at because they are just plain wrong.  But here are three parenting books that I’m glad I read:

The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

With specific strategies for helping kids integrate their left (logical) and right (emotional) brains and their “upstairs” (rational thinking) and “downstairs” (fight, flight, freeze) brains, this book had me hooked from the start.  The authors go on to suggest ways to help kids process memories (even traumatic ones) into the stories of their lives, to help them see the many parts of their personality, and to develop empathy by looking at things from someone else’s perspective.  In addition to the information for parents, there are pages with little comic strips that you can share with your kids.  I shared the pages on “upstairs” and “downstairs” brain with my daughter (age 7), and she grasped the concept immediately.  If nothing else, this gives us a common vocabulary to use when talking about behavior—and she loved the idea of me sharing something that I learned in my “grown up” book with her.  Definitely worth a read (especially for parents of kids who have experienced early trauma).

Nutureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This one is not at all parent-specific, and I would have read and appreciated it as a teacher (and a lover of sociological research—aka a dork!) before I became a mom.  Nurtureshock basically challenges the traditional understanding of “what’s good for kids.”  With chapters on praise (too much), sleep (too little), talking about race (way too little—at least for white parents), gifted programs (too many), and play (too little) among other topics, this book just about covers it all.  It will definitely give you something to think about.

Minimalist Parenting by Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest

I thought this might be a book about whittling toys for your kids and extreme couponing (ain’t nobody got time for that!).  Instead, it’s a quick read that gives modern mamas permission to do what works for your family.  It’s all about getting rid of things that you don’t need (expectations, obligations and possessions) to make room for the ones that you love.  After reading this, I tried out the authors’ suggestion of making a “More and Less List.”  It’s a simple way to start thinking about saving time, energy and money for the things that matter.

And, as promised, here’s my bonus recommendation:
Freedom of Simplicity by Richard J. Foster

Y’all know I love Richard Foster, right?!  In this book, Foster goes through models of simplicity in the Old Testament, the New Testament and Christian tradition before laying out some suggestions for how to embrace simplicity today.  Not a parenting book in the traditional sense of the word (though I have struggled with the weight of “too much” more as a mom than ever before), this one is the best of the bunch… a must-read, people, a must-read!

What parenting books (traditional or otherwise) are you glad you’ve read?

 

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

He’s got this.

I’ve got this, I think as I turn to John 13.

I’ve found life here before.  In these words.  In this story.

Back in the year of Haiti and hospice and respite foster care.  Back in the year of learning to love well even when time was short.

I know what to hear.  I know what to expect.

Until I don’t.

Close your eyes, my pastor says, and picture yourself there.

The God of the universe, seeing through your dirt to his image.  Stooping to wash your feet.

I try, but I feel myself physically pull away.

Somebody give me a floor to sweep, a pile of dishes to wash.  Anything.

I know what to do with a broom, a sponge.  But this?

We think pride is failing to stoop.  Failing to serve.  And it is.

But what about refusing to meet his gaze

Pleading to wash our own feet

Or protesting mightily that our feet aren’t really that dirty after all?

This too is pride.

It’s true.  The washing of regeneration was once for all.

But the washing for renewal, for transformation

It’s today.

Today, the God of the universe sees through our dirt to his image.

He’s stooping to wash our feet.

The truth is I’m still learning.

Sometimes I think I know what to hear, what to expect.

I don’t.

I haven’t got this.

But he does.

Leave a comment

Filed under sermon notes

This I know

Once upon a time, I was a little girl who didn’t understand.

I didn’t understand why church people would blame someone for being sick.

I didn’t understand why they would condemn these men—one dying, both in desperate need of hope.  Closing their doors.  Averting their eyes.  Refusing to help, to love.

But this I know.

Jesus walked into that house, into those lives, wearing the skin of my parents…

My courageous, compassionate parents who brought hope and cookies and two little girls.

Together we sat.

Talking.  Laughing.  Eating cookies.

Together we learned.

Love is bigger than hate.  Grace is stronger than ignorance.

Death can be both unflinchingly hard and overwhelmingly beautiful.

Deep down, where it really matters, we are more alike than different.

And we need Jesus.  All of us need Jesus.

It is only in retrospect that the details of this story fall into place.

It is only in retrospect that I realize too what’s missing.

The snide comments.  The nasty looks.

The voices of condemnation.

In my memory, in my mind’s eye, they are all theoretical.  Blocked, I’m sure, from penetrating the heart of a little girl.  Blocked by Jesus wearing the skin of my parents.

When I remember this story, when I let the image of these moments settle into my consciousness, it’s only the love that comes into focus.

This I know.

Two men met Jesus in that house—one dying, both in desperate need of hope.

And so did I.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

When Following Means Staying Put

“Where you go, I’ll go,” I sing (and mean it),

“Where you stay, I’ll stay.”

The truth is, sometimes the going feels so much easier than the staying.

It is easy, so very easy for me to succumb to spiritual wanderlust.

I look around at the beautiful diversity that is the body of Christ and I itch for something else.

Some other gift.  Some other calling.  Some other mission field.

I want to go.

My life feels so mundane,

So white, middle-class motherish.

I find myself again and again wrestling with my own youthful zeal to do something “big” for God.

To each one, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.          (1 Corinthians 12:7)

These words are like water to my thirsty, discontent soul.

Today I cannot go.

Today I watch a movie, wipe some tears and tuck my baby into bed, promising her (again) that forever means tomorrow too.

This too is the manifestation of the Spirit.

Tomorrow I will give my best to a roomful of kindergarteners, no matter how grumpy other things make me.

This too is the manifestation of the Spirit.

This week I will write a note, send a text, smile and mean it, pray like a crazy person.

This too is the manifestation of the Spirit.

Today, this is the gift.  This is the calling.  This is the mission field.

For the glory of God.  For the common good.

And it is indispensable.

Leave a comment

Filed under sermon notes