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Category Archives: God

Window Pains

I started an art project a couple of years ago. Towards the end of last year, I was getting to the point of pulling it all together. I needed a cool frame and decided an antique window was just the thing. After a bit of searching, I found what I was looking for. I bought it and brought it home. It was dirty and I wasn’t quite ready to use it just yet, so I left it on the front porch, leaning against the house. I intended to get working on it within a couple of days.

And then a big storm came and the wind blew the window over and one of the panes shattered. I cleaned up the broken glass and my husband moved the window out to the barn where it would be safe from future storms while I figured out what to do next.

That same week, a storm of a different kind blew through. Our oldest son came to “teach us a lesson” by breaking apart our front porch bench and using it to smash our main floor windows. After 9 years of the figurative darkness that he brought to our lives, he also brought literal darkness. Our windows were boarded up for 10 long winter weeks.

Well, we got through all that, only to have a family health crisis blow through like another storm. (I’ll save that story for another post.)And it seems we’ve gotten through that, too.

Then suddenly it was July and my broken window was still sitting in the barn.IMG_9255

I had half-attempted to find out if I could get the one pane replaced, but I kind of figured that was a lost cause. And I had proceeded far enough with that exact size of window in mind, that my efforts to just replace the whole window were also fruitless. I needed a new plan. I needed to remove the other panes.

It has taken me a couple of weeks. Sitting on the driveway, hunched over my project. Scraping and chipping away at the ancient caulking that was holding the panes in place. I could have just shattered the glass and been done with it…but you’re never really done with shattered glass. I know. Shards lurk for months. For…ever.

Curled over those three remaining panes, carefully trying to restore the project as a whole, I was struck by the metaphoricalness of it all.

I have 4 children. One of them is broken (seemingly beyond repair) and gone. The other 3 remain, but our family is not the same. Trying to rebuild the project without further damage is painstaking work. We can never fill that empty quadrant. There’s no way to fix it. We had to revise the plan. Do our best to make something beautiful out of the wreckage.

The finished project tells a more meaningful story than anything I had envisioned IMG_9294when I started it. His love endures forever. Through even the bleakest of seasons. When everything else is falling apart or already broken beyond repair. When plans need to be reconfigured, re-envisioned, or completely restarted. His love endures forever.

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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Adoption, Family, God, Personal Growth

 

When Storms Like The Sea Billows Roll

I have a lot of roles. So do you, I’m sure. Let’s list a few. For me, there’s wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt. There are a bunch of work titles. There are friendship roles that I fill. There are different things I do in my church community. And the list goes on.

Then there are the roles within roles. Let’s look at “mom”. Under that heading, I am menu-planner, grocery-shopper, cook, dishwasher, laundress, chauffeur, teacher, disciplinarian, drill sergeant, time-keeper, seamstress, personal shopper, hair stylist, cleaning lady…

I could break it down even further. I make fantastic bread. I can do amazing braids. I am the best at digging out slivers. And ain’t nobody organize a carpool like this mama!15713335_10154671530175351_137902662_n

But all of those roles aren’t applicable all the time. Nobody cares that I can make fantastic bread, unless of course, one of my cherubs offers to bring homemade bread to a school function – which is, to date, I think…never.

But should the need arise, I am the mom for the job!

Allow me to draw a comparison now to all the names and roles of God. Have you ever read a list of His names and attributes and kind of glossed over? Sure, some of them are relatable all the time, but others just seem like nice, random ideas.

Until a need arises.

This Christmas was all about “Emmanuel” for me. As I briefly outlined in my previous post, we’ve been dealing with an attack on our home. Now that the court process is finished and there’s no more “alleged” attached to the perpetrator, I am free to say that it was our son. (You may have figured that out, since I categorized the post under “adoption”. Was that cheeky of me?)

With all the questions about security and what attacks might still be coming, “Emmanuel, God With Us” has been more meaningful to me than ever before. I have always known that He is with me, and I have always had an appreciation for what that name meant to the Jews of the day. But over the past few weeks, the meditation of my heart has been “God with us.” GOD with us. God WITH us. God with US.

Another God-role that has brought me much peace during this time is the concept of Jesus as mediator and God as judge. Let me fill you in on more of the story.

There were numerous charges against our son, accumulated over the course of several weeks. Because our justice system isn’t perfect, we ran into a bit of a snafu with Victim Services. (Yes, I know what snafu means, Mom, but that’s exactly what I mean to say.) The two most serious charges against our son were dropped. That means, as far as all the records are concerned, Mischief Over $5000 and Unlawful Entry never happened – even though we’re still living in a cold, dark, drafty, boarded-up house.

I confess, I had a full day of feeling very bitter and angry towards our Victim Services representative and the prosecutor. They were supposed to speak for us, represent us, advocate for us. And they hung us out to dry. My heart screamed, “Isn’t there anyone who is FOR US?”

And the answer came immediately. “I AM.”

The picture of Jesus Christ as advocate was brilliantly clear in my mind. Again, there has always been a knowledge of Him advocating on my behalf, presenting me as pure and faultless because of His sacrifice, to God the Father and ultimate judge. That picture pertains to my own sin being washed away. But this new picture, with the issue being someone else’s sin against me, showed me so clearly that He is still advocating on my behalf. And I can fully trust the dichotomy of mercy and justice in the hands of our Judge.

These human advocates screwed up (from my perspective) and this human judge acted on incomplete information. But my Jesus advocate doesn’t say, “Meh. Oh well,” about overlooked paperwork. And my Almighty God judge knows all the details anyway.

Our house is still cold and dark and I can’t do anything about that. Our son is free to live his life as if none of this happened, and I can’t do anything about that either. What I can do is intentionally focus my heart and mind on the character of God – on His presence with me through all of it and His capability as advocate and judge.

And I can also make myself some fantastic bread.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in Adoption, God, Personal Growth, Recipes

 

A Crisis of Faith

This has been a rough month.

There is a person in our lives who has rejected the measures of help we’ve offered, but who feels very entitled to what he thinks would help him (basically enablement without any accountability). He recently decided to make us pay for destroying his life. He came to our house while we were out, and smashed in 3 of our windows and our front door.  He was arrested later that night, and then released with conditions until his court appearance. He breached those conditions by threatening to come back and do more damage, so he was arrested again, and held in custody until his court date. Last week, he was released on probation.

I can’t give many more details than that, as I’m unsure of what is yet to come regarding court dates and charges. But I wanted to set the scene for you. This is a person whom we welcomed into our lives because of our faith. This person deeply resents the boundaries that we’ve put on the kinds of “help” we’re willing to give him (see above re: entitlement, enablement, and accountability). This resentment has grown into a violent hatred towards us, which has been expressed numerous times in the ways he has verbally attacked us, made accusations against our Christianity, and now physically attacked the safety of our home.

And he is free. And he is still angry. And we are not safe.

We have taken some security measures: motion-detecting lights and security cameras. Our conversations about ‘what to do’ have included the ideas of restraining orders, moving, getting a guard dog. We have been very communicative with the police, the court, victim services, and his probation officer. But none of these things, we realize, are realistic protection. The court did not rule in the way that we had hoped and prayed for, and now there is nothing stopping him from coming back.

And so, we come back to the faith that brought him into our lives in the first place.

We have to put our faith in Almighty God. It is a daily choice to focus on His capability. We adamantly cling to His promise to turn evil plans into His good purpose.  We resist the urge to live in fear, knowing full well that He might still allow another attack, but we stand firm in the assurance that He will also carry us through whatever evil may still come our way.

This is not easy. It has made me analyze my beliefs. There’s that old saying, “Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding onto” – you may have seen those words on a poster, probably accompanied by a picture of a kitten dangling from a tree branch with one paw. It’s a stupid poster, and the words are cliché to the point of being nauseating. Oh, but the truth therein! Passive faith is just empty religion. A vague belief in the existence of God serves us nothing. Trust is easy when life is good. Faith becomes real when it’s all we’ve got.

lovewinsMy faith is work right now. But it’s refreshing work (even while it’s exhausting). As a reminder to myself (and to everyone who drives by our house), I painted one of the boarded up windows. Love wins. Not our own love (which is broken and insufficient and clearly more “conditional” than we want to admit), but HIS love. His love compelled Him to step into the midst of our mess – our brokenness, our neediness, our entitlement, our anger. His love brings healing and restoration. His love is the only security worth trusting.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Adoption, Beauty, Family, God, Uncategorized

 

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So Messed Up

“What is the most broken and messed up thing in the world?” This conversation-starter was posted on Facebook today, and the answers have kept me interested all afternoon. Poverty, sexual abuse against women and children, the inaccessibility of plentiful resources like food and clean water, greed for power and money, the value of money outweighing the value of human life, the pandemic of broken families, terrorism.

I can’t argue against any of those. Nor can I argue that one is more messed up than the rest.

The answer I would contribute is that the sacredness of sexual purity is broken. That’s almost the same answer as sexual abuse, but it’s broader than that. Abuse happens because individuals lose (or never had) a sense of the sacredness of sexuality, and their selfishness drives them to inflict their perversion on other people. That trajectory is manifested in so many ways: pornography and child pornography, prostitution and sex slavery, adultery, rape and other forms of assault… The list goes on and on, and I believe it all stems from purity not being cherished and protected.

So much brokenness. It is so heavy. And it is so close. There’s no point in deluding ourselves into thinking the mess doesn’t touch our own yard. It’s here. It’s everywhere. And it sucks.

My heart is often heavy in prayer for broken loved ones. Abusive relationships, devastating illnesses, financial blows that keep on coming. I pray for them and I pray with them. And then, so often it feels like the next wave of trauma just sweeps right over us all. And sometimes bitterness creeps into my prayers. “Really, God? This is what You thought was a good answer? Because this is kind of the exact opposite of what we were praying for.” Sometimes I’m tempted to decline praying for someone lest they be sucked into the vortex of my run of bad “luck”.

The last couple of weeks have been especially overwhelming, with waves coming from every direction. Talking about brokenness on Facebook is too heavy, too close.

But it is timely.

As Easter approaches, I think it is worthwhile to consider the brokenness. The loss. The seemingly unmet expectations of our prayers and hopes. I’m sure that’s how Christ’s followers felt 2000 years ago as they watched Jesus being arrested, tossed back and forth between governing bodies in a sham of a trial, beaten and then condemned. Hour by hour, they must have felt like “This is as bad as it can get. He’s going to show Himself strong any moment now. He’s about to do the big miracle that we’ve been waiting for.” And then, no. Crucified.

The brokenness and the desperation of such loss – it’s unbearable. Where is the hope when it feels like God is playing a sick joke? How can we continue to cry out to Him for help when we can see how He’s answered all our prayers leading up to this point? How do we trust Him when it looks like He failed?

The answer lies in Sunday morning.  We find our hope in the resurrection, the triumph over death. We cling to that reality from centuries past, but it is also a picture of a coming final victory. The mess will be eradicated, the brokenness will be fully healed.

Today, we wait in the pause of Saturday, wallowing in brokenness and pain. We may question the purpose of the pause: why is He waiting? But let us not give up entirely. He is big enough to handle our doubts and bitterness and even accusations. He is patient enough to wait out our tears. He is purposeful enough to make use of the pause. And He is already victorious in the coming dawn.

Sunday is almost here.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2016 in God, Personal Growth

 

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Here I Sit

I have a confession to make. There has always been a seed of judgment in me whenever I’ve watched movies or read books about atrocities in days gone by. Nazi death camps, the Rwandan genocide, the Khmer Rouge killing fields, South African apartheid – it makes my blood boil. But as fierce as my horror is at the barbaric evil perpetrated upon innocent people, that isn’t the target of my deepest feelings of judgment. Who bears the brunt of my scorn? It’s people who weren’t directly involved in the conflict. People who knew what was going on and did nothing.

In my pride and self-righteousness, I have often imagined (and probably proclaimed) that had I been alive or of age during those horrific events, I surely would have done something. I would have been willing to risk my life to save a life.

Well, now it’s my turn. I know what’s going on in other parts of the world, and yet here I sit, doing nothing. Stewing in the hypocrisy of my judgment. Shame on me.

Here I sit in the safety of my own home in Southern Ontario. I raised my hands in worship at church yesterday with no fear of having them cut off with a machete. I pray for the safety of my daughters who are away this week, but it seems almost flippant because I know they’re not in danger of being beheaded. I am taking care of my son who is battling a bit of a stomach bug today, but I will not have to be faced with the decision to hurl him off a mountain so at least he doesn’t die an unfathomably slow death from dehydration.

Here I sit, and I read the headlines. Honestly, that is as far as I can read. I can’t read the articles and see the pictures. Just the headlines are too much. This is for real? This is happening right now? I can’t think it through. I can’t discuss it intelligently. I simply can’t imagine.

I desperately want to be able to do something. And at the same time, I desperately want to un-know that it is happening at all. The middle ground that I’ve been sitting on is to be minimally aware, knowing that I don’t need to know the details in order to pray.

But I do need to pray more. And I need to pray more fervently. And I need to gather more people to pray. I don’t know what else I, a middle-aged rural housewife, can do. But I have this wee blog and I have the ear of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

So here I sit, using this post to solicit more voices rising up in unity to Heaven. It is all I can do, but it is something. In fact, it is something big if we join together. So I invite you to pray with me in the Name of Jesus Christ to the One True God, Creator and Almighty Saviour. Where I sit doesn’t matter at all, but where He sits is on the throne of power and authority over all the good and evil in the world. He is able.

Lord, I know the day is coming when You will triumph over evil – completely and with total finality. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and there will be no more crying or death or pain. And until that day comes, You are holding back Your hand, allowing humanity time to choose to be on Your side. You have warned us of the unspeakable atrocities that will occur because of the sinful choices we make, and the evil running rampant today is a devastating example of that.

Oh God, have mercy. Please don’t hold back your hand of justice. This evil is strong, but You are stronger. Would you hear our prayers and push back against the forces of evil. Would You, the ultimate defender of the weak, rise up in might and in power, protecting those who are in the middle of such hell. Hear their cries. Bring peace. Please.

Oh God, please.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in God, Heaven

 

God’s Not Dead

I went with my daughters and a bunch of friends from their youth group to see “God’s Not Dead” last night. The trailer gives a really good introduction of the plot, so I’ll give you a sec to check that out first.

I confess I didn’t have very high hopes of enjoying the movie. Let’s face it: Christian movies are often a big ‘whine and cheese’ party. Cheesy plot lines, whining characters, and everyone gets saved in the end. I expected this movie to fit that pattern, but I also expected the message to be valuable, so off we went.

The movie quickly introduced us to a lot of seemingly unconnected characters, which was a bit confusing, but not in a baffling Tolstoy kind of way. I quite enjoyed how those pieces gradually fell into place. The main character, a college freshman, was believably portrayed as reticent and uncertain – which made his sudden eloquence during his arguments a bit far-fetched. But the argument itself (both sides of it) was intellectually stimulating. I also appreciated the variety of characters who were fighting in different ways to discover and/or defend their faith.

There was still some cheese, though. Some of the acting was questionable (although I was impressed that a lot of it was great). All the non-Christians were villains, which doesn’t accurately represent reality. And yeah, almost everyone gets saved in the end. (Almost. I won’t completely spoil it for you.)

Is it a worthwhile movie? Let me first say that I am mildly in favour of supporting Christian movies for the sake of demonstrating demand for wholesome programming; however, I wouldn’t personally endorse a sucky Christian movie simply to make more $11 statements to Hollywood. That said, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that “God’s Not Dead” doesn’t suck!

I do think it is worth seeing. The atheism vs. theism arguments presented therein are fascinating (although I’m the world’s worst debater, so don’t bother trying to engage me in that kind of discussion). The challenge to stand up for what you believe in is applicable beyond the scope of Christian faith. And although no one’s winning an Oscar here, I do think there was enough decent character development to generate some thought-provoking discussion.

And I was right about the message being valuable. God’s not dead!

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in God, movie reviews

 

They’ll Know We Are Christians By How Much We Love to Hate

Church: simmer down now. This World Vision fiasco is out of control.

I’m going to keep this short. My take on the subject is simple. We cannot keep going like this.

People – people who claim to be Christ-followers themselves – are uttering actual sentences like, “There is no such thing as a gay Christ-follower.” What? What?!?! What Gospel supports that? Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to rescue us. While we were yet sinners, He died for us. How dare we point a finger at someone whom we deem more sinful than us and say that they are not worthy of claiming Jesus’ offer of salvation?

The world is watching and listening and reading, and when they hear such hateful, hypocritical crap, they are laughing – at best. At worst, they are swearing to never have anything to do with this religion for the rest of their lives.

This is a defining issue of our generation. Not because the LGBT community is more prominent than it has been throughout every preceding generation, but because today’s technology facilitates swift, violent, and public (although often anonymous) attacks on the LGBT community. We cannot keep going like this.

What would Jesus do if He was here in the flesh today? Matthew 26:52-53 springs to mind. How did Jesus respond when Peter cut off the arresting officer’s ear? He didn’t say, “Phew! Thanks, Peter. It’s a good thing you were here to stick up for me otherwise I totally would’ve been screwed.” No! He reprimanded Peter for his violent, hateful reaction. “Put your sword away. Anyone who lives by fighting will die by fighting. Don’t you know that I could ask my Father, and right away he would send me more than twelve armies of angels?” And then He heals the officer’s ear!

Do you get the contrast there? Peter is one of Jesus’ closest followers. He’s been by Jesus’ side all through His years of ministry. He’s clung to Jesus’ teaching and professed his devotion and love. And yet, when Peter responds with violence towards someone whom he perceives as a threat to Jesus’ authority, Jesus shuts him down. Jesus (with all authority on heaven and earth) doesn’t need Peter to jump in and save the day. Instead, Jesus turns and heals the guy who is about to lead Him off to His death.

Let’s back up one chapter to Matthew 25. Here Jesus gives a very clear defining standard for who will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Verse 24 says, “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘My father has blessed you! Come and receive the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world was created. When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me, and when I was naked, you gave me clothes to wear. When I was sick, you took care of me, and when I was in jail, you visited me.’” If Jesus was speaking these words today, He might add, “When I was gay, you were my friend.”

Sweet merciful heavens, I am not suggesting that Jesus was gay. I am proclaiming that He is heartbroken over how we treat marginalized people and we will be held accountable for it. He says as much a couple of verses later. The way we treat “the least of these”, is the same as treating Jesus Himself like that.

One of today’s “least of these” is the LGBT community. Not because of their sexual orientation, but because of how we have vilified them. We, the church, have made them the least. Shame on us.

I am not offering an opinion on World Vision’s decision. The circular arguments make my head hurt. I can’t imagine how overwhelming and crushing it is for those who are closely connected to WV and are now navigating through the hurricane of those discussions. This is where I stand: regardless of our personal opinion of how someone else’s sin stacks up against our own, we are not proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we continue to spew hateful, hypocritical condemnation.

Jesus’ authority is not threatened by World Vision’s policy change. So put your sword away.

I’m not going to leave this post open for comments (if I can figure out the technology of such restrictions). Not because I’m afraid of continuing the discussion, but simply because I refuse to be party to the backlash and fallout that is erupting on every single article and post that has addressed this issue over the past couple of days. We can’t keep going like this.

 
 

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