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Lament

Fifteen years ago, I was young and idealistic.

I was on mission for Jesus—literally.

I was in the orientation week before a year of full-time ministry.

My faith was real.  And it was strong.

It had already held me through loss and betrayal.

Though not yet through the grown-up anxiety that I’d meet the next year.

Fifteen years ago, innocence shattered.

The world as we knew it was changed.

And I was challenged to write a lament.

I tried.

Looking back, it feels simplistic.

Too chirpy and hopeful.

I had not yet wailed on my knees.

I had whined and fussed in my adolescent angst,

But I had not yet ugly cried over a little one gone too soon.

I had not yet stifled sobs over missing someone so hard that it physically hurt.

I had not yet screamed at Jesus in my car with hot, angry tears puddling in my lap.

Y’all, I feel like I could write a lament today.

Not for me.  Not for my babies.

But for dear ones that I have come to love.

Jesus, we don’t know how to do this.

And we are so far from knowing how to do this well.

This has been my prayer a lot lately.

To a God who isn’t scared of my ugly cries or my screaming.

To a God who is big enough to take them all.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…

Our fumbling, inadequate words.

Our hard, honest questions.

Our big feelings.

But we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence

Honestly.  Boldly.  With all our mess.

So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (Hebrews 4)

Not easy answers.  Not quick fixes.

But the presence and patience and grace of a God who sympathizes with our weaknesses.

A God who isn’t offended by our chirpy, hopeful prayers.

The ones that feel too simplistic in retrospect.

A God who isn’t scared of our ugly cries.  Our screaming.

A God who hears our laments.

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Do what matters.

Sit, Mama.

Little One pats the floor and invites me into an imaginary game with inscrutable rules.

We line up dominoes in a seemingly random pattern on the carpet.

And when we are done, the delight is palpable.

Did it!

Little One squeals and gives me a high five.

There are one thousand things to do at this exact moment, maybe even more.

But right now, this is the only one that matters.

***

I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes lately and scribbling notes all over the margins of my Bible.

This is what “journaling” looks like for me right now.

And it is good enough.

I’m finding less pessimism here than I remember.

And more wisdom.

Solomon’s redemption ache is not foreign to me.

So I drink in his wisdom about the seasons of life (Ecc. 3:1-8),

My margin-notes say

Make the most of this season.  Do what matters.

These words echo in my mind all week.

Sometimes this season feels so hard.

A toddler and a preteen.

A job shifting all around me, constantly asking for more.

Resolution in Little One’s case so close I can taste it.

Almost.

Do what matters.

I’m not sure how to do this, really.

But I have a hunch that it starts right here.

In my living room floor.

Lining up dominoes.

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This is my story too.

I’m sitting in a room full of people who love Jesus.

Mamas and daddies whose lives have been touched by adoption.

My people.

And still it’s hard for me to drop my guard.

We circle up with practical strangers and we are supposed to pray.

At another time, in another place, I would know exactly how to do this “right.”

Today, I’ve got nothing.

So he tells his story.

A real-life story of rescue.

Of calling out to Jesus at what he truly believed to be his last moments on this earth.

And finding himself suddenly on dry land.

Snatched from the greedy hands of death.  Saved by the merciful hands of Grace.

It resonates hard.

This is my story too.

The perfect metaphor for a life surrendered to Jesus.

Snatched from the greedy hands of death.  Saved by the merciful hands of Grace.

Sometimes I like to pretend like my story is different.

Like I’ve got this parenting thing.  This foster care thing.  This adoption thing.  This life thing.

I try too hard to look good… to have it all together not just so you think I’m great, but so you think foster care is great.  So you think adoption is great.

Apart from me, you can do nothing.  (John 15:5)

I don’t like it, but I know it is true.

Abide, he calls.

Settle down here.  Lean in close.

Rest.

And remember.

That great story of rescue?

It’s my story too.

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One Hope

They snatch me up in the lobby, two sweet friends, and just come out with it.

How can we pray for you today as a white mama of non-white babies?

I don’t know the answer, exactly.

But I do know that this, this right here, is church.

Asking the brave question, the question that sometimes feels like an elephant in a room full of ostriches.

And praying, standing with, even when the only words that seem right are

Help, Jesus.

It’s hard enough for me to grapple with recent events as a follower of One who I see ever sweeping the edges, ever championing the underdogs, ever acknowledging great value in the ones marginalized by society.

But when it comes to my babies.  The babies that I love, unquestionably, more than life itself.

Oh.  Dear.  Goodness.

I lose all rationality.

And also my mind.  In your face.  If you spew some foolishness that rings hollow in my mama-ears.

One hope.

I settle into my chair after having church in the lobby.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while.

And here it is again.

…you were called to one hope when you were called… (Ephesians 4: 4)

The calling is simple.

Not easy, mind you.  Sometimes very hard.

Love God.  Love people.

The hope is real.

Not fully realized.  Not always see-with-your-eyes-able.

But real.

Friends, I have no hope for the violence and hatred and ignorance and division I see.

Except one.

Jesus.

Not love or unity or some inherent goodness of humanity.

Not gun control.  Or mental health services.  Or public policy of any kind.

Just Jesus.

Jesus is my one hope.

And so I will go on loving my babies.  And trying also to tell them the truth.

And struggling with all of it.

And blessing the ones who ask the hard questions right there in the lobby.

The ones who pray without having the answers, without having the words at all.

The ones who know what it means to be church.

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Perfect Peace

After finally getting my air conditioning fixed this week, my washing machine broke today.

It’s not a huge deal.  A first world problem, really.

But coupled with the seven hundred things I need to do before the end of the school year and two looming court dates it had me flustered.  Annoyed.

My babies don’t relax much.

From the moment their feet hit the floor in the morning, they are busy.

Even as an infant, Little One was never much for snuggling—preferring to be held out facing the world than in facing me.

And so it took me off guard a little.

Stirring from an afternoon nap, Little One calls for me.

Held in my arms, he is still. Quiet.

Not in a rush to be off to the next thing.

In this moment, just perfectly content and relaxed.

I feel his complete trust in me.  His absolute confidence that he is safe here.  In my arms.

In this moment, I am grateful for the weight of parenthood.

And the even greater weight of foster care.

And in this moment I know what it means–

Perfect peace.

You keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on you because they trust in you.

(Isaiah 26:3)

Isaiah sees God as a strong city, fortified against its enemies.

A rock.

I see him here.  As a worn brown couch, a well-loved crocheted blanket, a safe embrace and a moment of still.

My washing machine is still broken.

I still have seven hundred things to do in the next week.

And also I have a rock.  A strong city.

A safe embrace where I can relax for a moment and know perfect peace.

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Grace Running

Let your grace run free

we sing.

It makes me wonder if we are the ones that trip grace up sometimes.

We church people with our unspoken rules and our haughty glances.

We church people struggling to be known by our love instead of our political persuasion, instead of (gasp) our imposition of a standard of morality.

I think about how I’ve seen God work, and it rings true.

Grace running.

Not accepting our offer to work off the money that we squandered.  Not entertaining our apologies and excuses.  Not even waiting for them.

But spotting us a long way off.

And running.

Embracing.  Celebrating.

(Luke 15:11-31)

This is the gospel.

This is the good news.

It makes me wonder if this grace trips us up sometimes.

We church people who grumble like the brother in the background.

We church people who want our good choices, our noble deeds to count for something.

Grace running feels too easy somehow.

It’s not.

In fact, it cost everything.

This too is the gospel, the good news.

For all of us.

Let’s not trip grace up.

And let’s not trip up on it.

Let’s let grace run free.

 

 

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When Love Wins

You guys, I watched love win this week.

It’s not something we get to see often in this business of foster care,

But this week I got a glimpse of it.

I entered the tiny room, thick with despair

And emboldened by the prayers of the faithful,

I watched love crumble defenses, expose truth and bring hope.

They were sacred moments.  Life-filled moments.

Hard to wrap words around.

I left that room a little breathless.

We were all taken aback with the immensity of it.

That was beautiful, I heard in the lobby, it says a lot about you.

But, friends, it doesn’t.

Not so much.

It says a lot about the Love I know.

***

Bread and cup in hand, I am reminded of another day when Love won.

I am, again, overcome with emotion to think of it.

A perfect, sinless sacrifice becoming sin.  Conquering death.

For us.

For me.

I know again, in these moments, my ravenous need for this body and blood.

My desperateness, my utter dependence on a Deliverer.

I know again that I am not here to rescue.

I am here because I’ve been rescued.

Here in these sacred moments, hard to wrap words around.

Here in these life-filled moments

When Love wins.