Fear Not

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But I was afraid, he told the Master, holding out the one talent that he had buried. (Matthew 25)

We dismiss this servant too easily, I think.

This morning, he is the one that catches my attention.

Instead of investing the money in the marketplace like the other servants (with, you know, all that risk), he hid it away.

Just in case.

It hardly seems a terrible choice.

Some might call it frugal, even.

But one thing it certainly was:

A fearful choice.

The call to generosity is a tricky one for rule-followers like me.

I like specific instructions.  Numbers.

So while my heart is drawn to generosity, I see myself here too.

In this servant.

You never know, I reason.

I might need it someday.

And so, sometimes, I hold back when I should pour out.

And I let my overthinking win out over my first instinct, over my (dare I say it?) Holy Spirit breathed intuition.

Because I am afraid.

Fear not, the same Master says.

Again and again.  Three hundred times and more.

Fear not.  I have redeemed you.  I have called you by name.

You are mine.  (Isaiah 43:1)

I know this to be true.

And I desperately want it to change me.

To change my hoarding into agape.

To change my fear into faith.

I’m not there yet, friends.

But I’m sitting with those words awhile tonight.

And maybe you should too.

Let’s not bury our talents.

Let’s hear the truth instead.

You are mine.

Fear not.

Colorblind is not a thing

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This post already has me all fired up.

Because, for the most part, I don’t like making waves.

I really don’t.

But on this day when we celebrate a man who fought for freedom and equality,

I cannot remain silent.

Friends, the goal of the dream isn’t colorblindness.

It’s said in an off-hand way.  Flippantly, almost.

Oh, I don’t see color, you tell me.

And I’m raising my kids to be colorblind too.

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but colorblind is not a thing.

I work with little kids.

They see color.  They notice differences.

And it’s ok.

Maybe what you mean when you tell me that you don’t see color is that you choose to ignore it.  That you choose never to have conversations about race with your children.

As a white mom to non-white babies, I cannot make this choice without fear for their literal physical safety.

I want to wrap them up in my arms, in my privilege, and keep them there forever.

Instead we have conversations about how certain types of body language can be interpreted as aggressive even when they are not intended that way.

And we talk about how we never ever run from police even if we are terrified.

Do I believe that my babies can do whatever they set their minds to do?  Absolutely.

Am I scared for them in a world where justice does not yet roll down like rivers?  No question.

So, friends, please don’t raise your kids to be colorblind.

Raise them to be kind.

To be brave.

To be agitators for justice.

Because our world needs more dreamers and less ignorance.

The Why

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Bring your best, the Father asked (Genesis 4).

One brother does.

And one does not.

It’s not the blood that matters,

Not the size of the gift.

It’s the faith with which it is brought (Hebrews 11:4).

Bring your best, the Father asks.

Because I gave my best.

Breathing humanity into existence.

Providing grace after grace—even for the brother who does it all wrong the first time.

I gave my best.

Watching his only begotten sweat drops of blood asking for another way.

Letting this perfect One take on sin not his own.

All the brokenness of all time there.

On that tree.

I gave my best.

If we know this Father, this Love,

The call is not burdensome.

The yoke is not heavy.

Bring your best, the Father asks.

No posture seems quite right except falling on our faces.

No response seems quite right except giving it all.

Every single little bit.

To the One who loved enough to give his very best.

How Haiti Prepared Me For Foster Care

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Once upon a time, I went on a short term mission trip to Haiti.

I had read all about how such things often hurt as much as they help, and I was keenly aware that I was only a tiny part of the story that God had begun writing in his people there long before I arrived and would continue long after I left.

We were a few days in when I dared to speak the truth during one of our team debriefing times.

It’s hard for me to really be here—to really love, I confessed, when I know I am going home in a few days.

I’m sure the actual words that my teammate spoke in response were kind and gracious, but the words that Jesus spoke through him to my heart were unmistakable.

That’s you being selfish.  Love in this day.  They’re my people anyway—not yours.

I spent the next few days falling deeply in love with people and communities that I knew I would be leaving soon.

I remember distinctly watching the city of Port au Prince disappear beneath the clouds one day before Easter Sunday.

I knew he was right.

He loved these people, these communities, more than I ever could.

All I could do was love in this day.

I arrived home and started almost immediately on the crazy journey of foster care.

Although I expected it to be hard, there are a few things that really took be by surprise.

One of those things is how much my love would multiply over the next few years.

How each sad story (and friends, every foster care story is a sad story) would stab my mama-heart and send me scrambling to make space for just one more.

I was reminded of the city of Port au Prince disappearing beneath the clouds the other day.

I had dragged my babies all over town in the pouring rain trying to make Christmas happen for one of the Little Ones.

It seemed like we were foiled at every turn and I was feeling a bit frantic (ok, maybe more than a bit).

Surely if I made one more phone call, we could get this done.

I wanted this Little One to be mine.  To be my responsibility.

Do you want to know a secret?

I want all of the Little Ones to be mine.

Every.  Single.  One.

And they are not.

Home with my soaking wet and surprisingly cheerful babies,

I watched this Little One, all the Little Ones,

Disappear beneath the clouds.

They’re my people anyway—not yours

He reminded me.

And once again, I opened my hands and released my death-grip to the loving Father who is infinitely more capable of taking care of Little Ones than I am.

It won’t be my last death-grip—I’m pretty sure of that.

And so I am grateful for words of truth spoken in a vulnerable moment.

That echo these many years later.

A few of our favorite things…

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Do you want to know something?

I love this space.

This quiet little corner of the internet where we hang out together.

Sometimes people ask me why I write.

There are a few reasons.

I write because it makes me a better listener.

I write because it helps me process life.

I write because it is a non-scary way to share parts of a story that I believe matters.

And I write because every once in a while, I get to share in a sacred moment when you open your heart and I get to hold your story in my hands for just a moment.  I get to tell you that your story matters too.

I love that parts of my story resonate with you—even if the actual details of our lives are very different.

But I never really know which parts those will be.

Sometimes I write something that I think is earth-shattering and y’all already know it.

And sometimes I write something that I’m all “meh” about and it gets spread all around.

So, without further ado, here are the top 5 posts that you liked in 2015:

5. Waiting for the Promise: Foster care, disillusionment and hope

4. Torn: I didn’t even write this post in 2015 and it was one of my most-read. It’s absolutely as true today as it was on the day that I wrote it.

3. On Perspective: This one was a long time in coming. It was tough for me to figure out how to tackle the topic of poverty and privilege honestly without being condescending.

2. The Thing Nobody Tells You: The number one thing that took me by surprise on this foster care journey is how much genuine compassion I would feel for my babies’ birthmoms.

1. You are Beautiful: I guess y’all aren’t all beach people!

So, according to the numbers, those were your favorites this year.  Here are my favorites that didn’t make the cut:

Broken Together: Grief is weird.  But it shows you who’s got your back when the rubber meets the road.

I Met Her Once: Because how can you not love this story?  Seriously.

Loved to the End: If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s this.

Happy New Year, friends!

I hope that it is full of much that you love.

All is Well (remix)

A few days ago, I wrote this post in a moment of calm before the storm.

It was true then.  And it still is.

It is well.

These are the words I sing this morning.

And they are coming hard.

Because here is the truth today.

I know it sounds melodramatic, but sometimes I honestly cannot imagine a life that is harder than the one that I am living right now.

This life stuck in the interminable wait for paperwork that is overdue.

This life where everyone has an opinion and no one has any particular sense of urgency about a baby who is their job but your life.

This life where all the stories of the little ones—each one sadder than the next, tear your mama-heart to shreds and you feel helpless to do anything.  And you hate that.

These long days with no sun, startled awake by fear that feels ten times bigger in the dark.

Fear, still, that you will love and lose.

Fear that will not leave until you say his name one hundred times.  Maybe one thousand.

Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.

These days with a little one who doesn’t so much believe in sleep.

And a bigger one who is triggered by all the things at Christmas.

(And I say this with all the kindness in my heart, but until you have loved and parented a child from a hard place, don’t you dare tell me that “all kids are.”  You.  Have.  No.  Idea.)

These days when you look in the refrigerator and there is no milk, so you have no choice but to corral three grumpy people and make an appearance in a public place.  For a blessed gallon of milk.

My life is full of much that I love.

And some days it feels so very, very hard.

And still I sing.

Because it is true.

In a way that has nothing to do with me.

In the calm before the storm.  In the eye of the storm.  In the carnage and the rebuilding.

It is true.

Through it all, through it all

My eyes are on you.

And it is well with me.

All is Well

All is well.

This is the song that I hear on the way home tonight.

And I know that it is true.

True in the now.

True in the not yet.

All is well.

The words seem right on this day of staying in pajamas until the afternoon.

This day of frozen pizza and afternoon naps and shared giggles in the back seat.

This day of a little one who gives me sloppy kisses right on my mouth.

And a bigger one who chooses to talk about the Big Feelings instead of letting them fester.

This day of wrapping presents at the eleventh hour and calling it good enough.

All is well.

Two of my sweet friends catch me tonight at church and ask me how I am.

They know my story.

They expect me to tell the truth and raise an eyebrow when I say I am fine.

But, today, this is true.

I look around and see that much is un-well.

The big things, yes.

And so, so many things that don’t make the news.

The little ones torn away from all that they’ve known.  One week before Christmas.

The mamas and daddies stuck in a cycle of violence and addiction.

Human beings who love and hurt and know that they are not doing the right thing.

And still can’t break out.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

All of us.

Not just the ones gathered in sanctuaries, lighting candles tonight.

All is well in the not yet too.

When redemption wins for good.

And the little ones are all home.

And addiction loses its power forever in the light of love.

Emmanuel.

All is well.