The well-dressed elephant in the room

   The time has come. I’ve been wanting to write about this for a really long time. I’ve typed, backspaced, stared at the ceiling into the night working out how to say it and weighed out the pros and cons of being vulnerable. It’s all led up to this post. I’m sorry if this sounds bossy, but please – 

                        Stop stereotyping people with same-sex attraction as any or all of the following: 
Pushy. 
Selfish.
Out to convert people they don’t even know. 
Rude.
Unloving. 
Harsh
Pushing an “agenda”….
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. For a lot of people – for a lot of Christians – they hear “gay” and they flash to headlines like “Child with 2 dads begins gender reassignment therapy at age 4”.  

     I never gave it much thought until an individual whom I dearly love “came out”. Ever since then I’ve become more and more aware of this problem. I don’t want people to know that he’s gay, not because I’m ashamed, the exact opposite in fact. I’m so proud of him. He’s an amazing friend who knows how to listen in a way that I rarely see. He really hears me and when he does respond it’s careful, deliberate and for my benefit.  He has a way with words. When he writes he can draw you right in and make you forget about life for a while. He’s courageous (although I’m not sure he truly realizes it). He’s humble, He sees beauty in the most unexpected places and has figured out how to reveal it to those he trusts. He’s thoughtful, sincere, funny, intelligent and so many other things. And my fear is that people would cover up all those amazing qualities with a scarlet letter, if you will. It breaks my heart both for him and for the people who are missing out on knowing him. While it is their loss, it’s also mine and everyone else who is sorting through their thoughts and feelings after a loved one comes out. 

I’m not the only one who feels this way. The truth is, there are probably people you’ve talked to every week for years who have a loved one in a same-sex relationship and you’ll never know because they’re afraid you’ll make assumptions that you have no place making. I’ve lived with that fear and it stinks. But how will things ever change if we don’t talk about it?  I would have loved to have someone to talk to through my journey of understand and loving, but instead I felt isolated. 
 
So I hope this is the first step in a journey for us together.  All those things I listed could easily and accurately be said of the church if we were all judged by the people who are picketing funerals and bombing abortion clinics. But that is not who I am, I despise that behavior and would be crushed to think that someone lumped me in with a few people on whom the media chose to shine a spotlight.  You may not want to hear this, but your view on their lifestyle is irrelevant to this discussion. God loves people. He wants us to love people. It’s as simple as that. And how can we love someone when we refuse to know them? When we say hurtful things about the people they love? I get that “you didn’t know”, but that doesn’t make it ok.

By the way, that guy is my little brother. 
   
I would love to open a dialogue, just know that there is no place for rude or wounding language here. What has your experience been? Where can we start to change things in our own circles? Where do you see yourself in all this?

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
1 Pet. 2:17

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Love and Truth

Questions that need answers, that’s what is on my mind today. I feel like I need to talk it out, so today you are my dear, trusted friend with whom I will be vulnerable. It’s a little scary because I’m sure that some of you feel strongly on both sides of this topic and I’m honestly not sure what conclusion – if any – I’ll come to at the end of this. I apologize if I’ve blogged about this before, but I can’t promise it won’t come up again!
Let me back up here and see if I can lay out the dominoes of my thoughts so we can start from the same place. I found out recently that an acquaintance of mine “unfriended” me on facebook because she knows that I’m a Christian and she wanted to protect herself from anything offensive or hurtful that I might say about same sex marriage. She hopes to someday be able to marry the woman that she loves.  When I first found out that she felt this way about me I was hurt. Am I so insensitive? Do I use my facebook as a platform to shake my fist at people? Because I would a thousand times rather use it as a way to love people that I wouldn’t get a chance to otherwise.  Then I thought back to the night before…

Walking on the crowded Vegas strip in a sea of faces, lives, hopes, fears…my heart was overwhelmed. Sure, there were likely Christians in the mix who, like myself, were enjoying the family-friendly side of Vegas, but the majority were likely those looking for a different kind of good time. In the midst of all these thoughts we came across a street preacher. My first thought was that I would feel a connection with him and the couple of people there with him. After all, this guy was giving up his time to reach the lost and (I imagine) facing quite a bit of ridicule in order to reach out to a lost and hurting world. Then the crowd parted enough for me to read their signs and my heart dropped. What kind of person identifies themselves with Jesus and uses that kind of language about the people He died for? Gross. He may have been an extreme, but I don’t think it’s too far off from how a lot of people view Christians. So I guess it makes sense that someone would expect to, at some point, be offended by me.

These two experiences have once again brought to the surface the thing my heart longs to know beyond the shadow of a doubt: What did Jesus’ life look like on a day to day basis? Did He confront sin? Absolutely!! And He didn’t mince words according to some of the encounters we have record of. (I wanted to call that “street preacher” a brood of vipers myself, after all, it’s totally Scriptural, right?) Did He infuriate others by not acknowledging sin in some situations? Oh yes. To the extent that one man had the audacity to think “if this man were really a prophet…”. Ouch.

In order to really see the heart of God in this I’ll have spend more time with Him and reading from the wonderful book He gave us. At this point I feel a constant conflict and I question myself. There is no excuse for sin in my life. There is no reason to expect anything else from someone who is not yet saved. God is love. God is holy. Someone very dear to me thinks I’m judgmental.  I thought if I was in error it would be on the side of not dealing as harshly with sin as God does, am I seeing a totally distorted picture of myself? Yuck, too much looking inward is happening here.
I guess I’m still where I started, and that is knowing these two things –
-In each and every situation I need to listen for what the Father is saying and do only that. Moment by moment, abiding so closely in Him that wisdom, truth, love and justice flow naturally from my lips and deeds in perfect balance.

– It doesn’t matter what I see in other people’s eyes when they look at me. What matters it what I see in God’s eyes…what does He see in me now and in what areas is He calling me to observe about His character so that it can become more of mine.

I’m still searching for a “big picture” kind of answer to these questions in my heart…I would love to hear your insight on this, please tell me I’m not alone in this struggle!

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A Mother’s Heart for the Nations

Sometimes I don’t like people. (At least pretend to be shocked by this confession, would you?) I love most people. God’s love has been so richly poured out on my life, how could it not overflow? But there are still those people to whom my wallet doesn’t want to open, I’m not so quick to hug, I forget that serving them would be an honor and I just block the flow of however God wants to love them through me. 

  This may seem like a rabbit trail, but hang in there, it will make sense eventually. Hopefully….

If you’re a parent or have ever loved a child you should be able to relate to this. It’s that moment when your child is lost, hurt, crying and in your absence, someone else is able to give them comfort.  I feel like that person has given me the best gift. On Monday a sweet friend of mine noticed that Daniel was stuck in a rope ladder and she rescued him and carried him across the playground to me. (thank you, Jen!!!)  In that moment there was no separation in my mind between whether she had done something for him or for me. How much more if one of my children was injured or starving and I wasn’t able to do anything about it? Tears are welling up in my eyes at the very thought of it. And the overwhelming gratitude my heart will feel to know that someone met that need for Nathan or Daniel would probably be even greater than if they had done it for me. 

Ok, quickly – here’s the tie. I was reading Matthew 25. Most of us could quote it pretty accurately by heart. By as I read those words “whatever you have done to the least of these, you have done to me” it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Every human on the planet is loved by God even more than I love Nathan and Daniel, as hard as that is for me to get my head around. So every time I love on one of those sons or daughters God feels it like I do when someone loves on one of my kids. My heart is breaking right now at the thought of how God must feel looking at all those who are unloved in this world, who have needs that are going unmet by His body, even those who are shaking their fist at Him while their hearts are breaking. God, keep that father’s/mother’s heart ever close to me as I encounter Your precious creation. 
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I keep sharing this song because it’s changing my life. And its fitting here because every thing that Jesus ever did to show His love for us and all that He endured He did out of that same Fatherly love and He looks at you and me and the outcast and says “my love, you’re worth it all”

Let’s lean in and get a hold of God’s heart on this so we can change the world. God’s love does that you know….it changes everything that becomes aware of His love. 

Marriage 102

I’ve been seeing so many great quotes, blogs, lists and pieces of advice on marriage lately, I love it! For me as a mother of a one yr old and three yr old (both super active boys) sometimes I feel like every ounce of energy that I have goes into keeping the three of us happy educated having fun alive during the day. A good marriage day means that I send out a text to tell my man that I’m crazy about him and I serve him by taking care of his laundry, house, meals, etc. Real communication and quality time together often “have” to wait until I have “more time”.  I know you’re laughing right now, because that day never comes! All that to say, I’ve really appreciated these little reminders – deep, silly, fun, basic, profound – to remind me to put more time into this thing that means everything to me. So I compiled some of my favorites so that I can reference them in the future and so that you can enjoy them as well!

Marriage is a lifelong bond that is stronger than your feelings or your circumstances. It’s a commitment to love someone even when they’re being unlovable, respecting them even when they’re not acting respectable and seeing the best in them even when they can’t see the best in themselves.

http://davewillis.org/the-5-most-common-mistakes-in-marriage/  <– short n sweet, check it out

“The List That Saved My Marriage”

While I wouldn’t look to this man as a roll model for my marriage, he really hit the nail on the head with guarding your heart! : )
“I keep a close watch on this heart of mine, I keep my eyes wide open all the time…”

“I have never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.” Calvin Coolidge

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I would love it if you would share some of your favorites! I’ll write again later this week and add the goodies that you share!

I don’t know how to pray.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who experiences this, but sometimes I just don’t know how to pray. Someone is on my heart and I want to stand before the Father and agree with His plans and dreams over their lives, but after about 45 seconds I run out of things that make sense to pray. Maybe I over think it (ok, I totally do) but there’s a longing in me to really hit the nail on the head when I pray, and not to just pray token prayers or things that I don’t really feel in my gut. So yesterday I open my Bible to Colossians, mentally anticipating the verses that I know I will find along the way. Then right out of the gate, it hit me. I start reading chapter 1 and I make to about verse 9 before I begin to weep. It’s the head of the nail that I so often search for and deep calls to deep. 

I am by no means suggesting that this is a formula or a have-to-pray-it-daily prayer. But I would suggest that it is a powerful arrow in our quiver as we shoot down the assignments of the enemy. Lean in –

 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Himbeing fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy giving thanks to the Father who has QUALIFIED us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

ImageAs the Lord leads you to, pray this for yourself, your friends, your family, your enemies, political leaders, Christian leaders, congress, the senate, the lady you chat with at the grocery store, your spouse, your sons, your daughters….!  I’m overwhelmed even getting a glimpse of what our world would look like if our lives were marked by these four verses.
There’s so much more on my heart about this small passage, but I think I’ll let this settle for a while longer in my soul before I jump in again. I want these words to become a tangible part of my identity in Christ.

Is it…a bird riding a horse in space?

I heard someone recently compare our worship to a child’s drawing. When Nathan brings me something that he created I don’t have to recognize it or know just what it is to appreciate it. I love it because he made it with me in mind and he put all his little three year old effort into picking beautiful colors and creating something wonderful. I love it, celebrate it and hang it on my fridge with total sincerity because it makes me heart happy to see the joy in his eyes as he hands me that priceless art and says “here mom”.

I think our heavenly Father delights in what we offer Him the same way. Its not the perfect pitch, Psalm-like lyrics,  stunning choreography,  or perfectly executed act of service that makes Him grin as much as it is our joy in presenting our gift to Him. After all, we know what matters most is our heart ❤

We have a brand new paint set, a tuned up instrument and a jar of freshly sharpened pencils any moment that we want to create something beautiful. What will you race to His side and offer Him with a grin and a “here Dad” today?

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The Guilt Monster

a_very_scary_monster_by_noistromo-d5iwqv9Next to a garbage filled with tissues and overwhelmed with the smell of my good friends Vicks and Halls this thing lingers in the back of my mind. t dawns on me that it’s been there for about as along as I can remember. It wears many disguises and pretends to be my friend. While unwanted, it’s still familiar enough to be welcomed time after time. Guilt. Lying in bed feeling like death warmed over, listening to Wes take care of the boys it rears its ugly head. I should push myself harder, get up and take care of my family. Yes, yes, I know I need to take care of myself so I can take care of them, but it doesn’t matter. G doesn’t care about all that. It just wants to take over my brain and heart until I’m a sobbing mess. Every day. It’s constantly there.

That’s when it hits me – guilt it a tool of the enemy. While conviction leads to repentance and restoration, guilt just leads me down the dark alley of condemnation and leaves me feeling like I’ll never be good enough. Lies, lies, lies!

While I’ve been aware of the monster under my bed for years, this is the first time I’ve been brave enough to shine a flashlight at its ugly face. I’m not really sure where this journey will take me, but I want to live from a place where I’m ok when I can’t do everything all the time and I’m even able to be ok with my choices when other people try to make me feel bad. I’ve made so many decisions in my life trying to avoid the G feeling that I feel like I have to start from scratch. Father, help me to see what You see and to strive only to live from love, humility and servant hood and to let the rest go. Moms, I think this is a big one for us. Praying for breakthrough for each one of you who can relate to me in this (or is it just me?)