Mama’s Dreams

It’s happeningboys' backs
my boys becoming men
brandishing desire and direction different than mine.
Their otherness stares at me
unblinking.

But still, my heart holds dreams
first given by God when each still dwelt in womb safety.
Dreams rooted in the naming –

The son-of-the-right hand
steady, faithful, loyal,
holding fast to the Word of life
and nothing else.

The bearer-of-light
creative, transforming, authentic,
bending to the Light that brings life
to this world.

The strong-and-courageous-one
inviting, open, humble,
taking boldly ground he knows God
has secured.

So even though doubts assail me,
my tongue betrays me,
my fears malign me,
I stand assured –
what God started
He will complete.

Yes, this happening,
this inevitable affair
forces us to face places
new
unfamiliar
but known to the One
Who knows us each by name.

Here I rest.empty road

Wrapped

This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.   (Luke 2)

 

I have to find comfort here — in the baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger.  The absurdity and simplicity brings peace.  “Peace on earth,” the angels said.  They said he is “Savior,” the Messiah.

But the morning after the shooting of 20 school children and 8 adults in a small Connecticut town, is “peace on earth” really possible?

I’ve read stories of the selfless school principal who entered the line of fire, the brave teachers who locked their students in closets and bathrooms, the terrified children who cried and said, “I don’t want to die, I just want Christmas.”  They have become the unwilling cast of players in this drama we share as a nation.  As the story unfolds, mothers, fathers, siblings, teachers, spouses watch with deep sadness and grief.

photo from USAToday on-line

Oh, I can’t imagine the pain those families must be feeling.  A knife-piercing, iron-searing pain that severs life and hope and joy.  The questions swirling, unanswered, would hound me, refusing me rest… or comfort.  I would want to wrap myself in a blanket and just cry.   I would want my husband to wrap his arms around me and just squeeze.

I know what it’s like to have questions hovering in the air.  I know a bit of the pain of unjust and unexplained bleeding… but this… this tragedy… is just so sad.

 

It reminds me of another sad story that occurred at the time of Jesus’ birth.  The gospel of Matthew records a paranoid King Herod who orders the killing of all the boys in Bethlehem two years old and younger in an attempt to wipe out “the one who has been born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2).  Voices “weeping and great mourning” filled the air that time, too.  In the words of Victor Hugo, “there’s a grief that can’t be spoken, a pain goes on and on” because the emptiness that follows death refuses comfort.

So even though words fail to bring explanation and sense to this tragedy, I do know One who can offer hope. In a world crowded with infomercials and annoying ring-tones, where everything but silent nights and herald angels seems possible, the message of Christmas still needs to echo through.

Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born TO YOU; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  (Luke 2)

 

Oh Jesus, enter our world, our pain, our questions, and bring your saving grace.  We are a mess without you, hopelessly lost.  Wrap us in the cloth of your birth — and your death — so we can know you, and be known by you.  

Thank you for coming to our world, and for staying.  You are all we want for Christmas.

 

Bringing him to Jesus

On Sundays I try to slow down, reflect a bit on on the week, plan for the next.  This morning, while the apartment is quiet and the ticking clock on the wall accompanies my thoughts, I thought I’d share a bit more of our journey with Benjamin’s health.

We’ve come a long way from this spot last year… a point to celebrate, really.  But, the questions are still there, and we are still waiting…

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November 12, 2011

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them.  Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus, and after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven… I tell you, get up, take up your mat, and go home!”  Mark 2:3-11

I’m always amazed when I read this passage at Jesus’ response to the faith of the men on behalf of their injured friend.  I wonder if the men were disappointed at first that Jesus only said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

They were expecting healing.

I wonder if the man was healed at that point, only didn’t know it.  How did his legs grow strong enough for him to stand?  Was there a physical change?

Did the paralytic also have faith?

So, then I wonder, is this sickness Benjamin is experiencing a matter of faith?  Do we not have enough?  Have we not prayed enough?  Isn’t healing still available?

I know God isn’t a magic genie.  I know He doesn’t hold out answering our prayers for when we have jumped through enough hoops.  His ways are his own.  Mysterious.  Good.

I know that.

Benjamin’s condition just makes me sad right now… so sad.  There is a death, a mourning over the loss of good health.  The future seems cloudy and unsure.  But, I do believe that God’s ways are best.

Just because His ways aren’t mine doesn’t mean they aren’t good.

photo: www.weekendwordsmith.blogspot.com

Maybe we’re still digging through the rooftop to bring him to Jesus.  Maybe there is still work God is doing elsewhere in us that is keeping the healing at bay.  I want the same kind of faith those friends had…

… A faith that’s not content to let the crowds get between my son and Jesus.  He needs a touch from the only One who truly brings healing.

 

Father, do in me what needs to be done so we can hear you say, “My son, get up, take up your mat, and go home!”

Is God Near?

We’re entering into an anniversary of sorts.  One year ago this month we began to live life with the realization that our oldest son has an inflammatory bowel disease… ending up with the diagnosis of indeterminate colitis.  It’s chronic.  It’s disruptive.  It’s incredibly inconvenient. But, it’s the place God has us.  We are seeing God “show up” in amazing ways as we walk this journey.


This blog entry is the first in a series where I will try to recount the valley we began to walk last year.  We aren’t to the other side yet.  But, I believe that it’s important that we share this journey in community.   The way a few grains of sand in my shoe drive me batty, sorting stories alone leads to isolation.

But those same grains, when joined with thousands of others, provide a tender and inviting place to walk.  So stories, when shared in community, provide a gentle place to process what God’s doing.  The difference in is in the gathering.

When we share the journey with others, openly, God reveals himself in the process. Not just when everything works out like we hoped.

I’d love to hear your own stories about how God has met you in the midst of unknowing.

_____________________

September 28, 2011

Gathering information is a strength of mine.  It’s my “go to” move when I’m trying to cope.  So, when we learned that Benjamin has “indeterminate colitis”, I consulted my nutrition books and websites looking for answers, looking to fix it.  Unfortunately, there isn’t an “easy fix.”  But what in life worth doing or learning is ever easy?  Even so, information by itself is cold and steril.  In my searching, I craved more than information.  I craved a presence I knew was beyond me.  I needed God near.

You may have heard me speak about the nearness of God.  It’s my favorite thing about Him — that he doesn’t run away in times of trouble, that he celebrates with us in victory, and draws close when we cry.  But I have to say, after many days of Benjamin bleeding, even in the hospital, I started to feel desparate.

One morning, about 10 days into our hospital stay, I needed to be loud with God.  I went on a walk and yelled at him.  OK, God, this has gone on long enough.  Why don’t you do something?  Where are you?  I need you to press in nearer.  You’re not near enough.  I felt desparate.  Many times I sobbed and nearly collapsed.

As I plodded along the nature paths in our neighborhood, the morning silent and misty, a strange thing happened.  Instead of my thoughts swirling in despair, I realized that they had begun to settle on what brings God glory.  I noticed glistening dewed blades of grass, the beautifully haphazard array of wildflowers and weeds, a seasoned stump ringed with age.  Unintentionally, I was thinking about how God was bigger than “indeterminate colitis.”  He gently led me to a place of surrender and I no longer cared about being “delivered.”

Instead of rescue me… rescue Benjamin, my heart whispered do what brings you glory.

I asked him to glorify himself in the midst of our struggle.  I told him that if we could just stand in the radiance of that glory, it would be enough.  I rested there, sweetly.  God drew near.

I can’t say that Benjamin has been healed.  He will most likely have this condition for the rest of his life.  I can’t say that anything I’ve planned has worked out my way.  But, I can say that God isn’t wasting a minute of this.  He is bringing himself glory as he shepherds us in the valley.  He is good and the writer of good stories… and I’m so glad I’m his.

Tending Sheep

 

Photo:FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A while back I wrote a few stories from the life of King David for children at our church.  I thought I’d post them as Stories to Live By.  Here’s the first of three.

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based on 1 Samuel 16

In the days when Saul was King over Israel, God told his prophet, Samuel, to anoint a new king.  God had rejected King Saul, because he had not followed God’s commands. Although Samuel the prophet had warned Saul about the choices he was making, he knew Saul’s kingdom wouldn’t last and that God had his eye on a new man to be king.  So, when God instructed Samuel the prophet to find the new king among Jesse’s sons, he started the long journey to Bethlehem in the hill country.

Unfortunately Samuel the prophet had a reputation of being a bad-new bearer.  So when the town leaders in Bethlehem heard that he was coming to their dusty little village, they were worried.  Trembling, they greeted Samuel and said, “Why are you here?  Do you bring trouble or peace?”Tired and a little bothered that he had to come to this lowly, out-of-the-way village, Samuel assured them.  “Oh don’t worry,” he answered.  “I’ve come to worship the LORD with you.  Get cleaned up, and we’ll sacrifice this young cow to the LORD.  Be sure Jesse and his sons come to the ceremony,” he added.

So the townspeople washed themselves and put on clean clothes to be ready to worship the LORD with Samuel.  Decked out in their finest clothes, Jesse and seven of his sons also showed up for the sacrifice.  When Samuel spied Jesse’s oldest boy, a handsome, strong young man who looked like he could lead an army, he thought to himself, “This must be the one the LORD has chosen.  He looks exactly like a king.”But, knowing what was in Samuel’s heart, the LORD corrected him.  “You are only looking at his face and body to see if he fills the role as king.  You don’t see what I see.  I’m looking into his heart, and I and tell you this isn’t the one I have chosen.”

So Samuel asked Jesse to parade his sons before him, waiting for God to show him whom to anoint as king.  Jesse didn’t know God has his eye on one of his sons.  And he silently wondered what the great prophet could be looking for.  In spite of young men’s good looks and splendid clothes, as each son strutted by, Samuel simply had to say, “No, this isn’t the one.”

Now, seven smart and smiling sons is a lot to look over, and it took awhile.  When the last one failed to be God’s chosen, the exhausted prophet groaned,  “Jesse, are all your sons here?  Aren’t there any more?”

Jesse quietly conceded, “Well, there is my youngest son.  But he’s just a boy and is out tending the smelly sheep.  He isn’t cleaned up and ready to come to the sacrifice.”

“That doesn’t matter.  Quickly bring him to me,” commanded Samuel.  “We won’t begin the sacrifice until he is with us.”  With that, the weary prophet turned to rest in Jesse’s tent while Jesse fetched his youngest son from the hills.

Just as soon as David arrived before Samuel, tanned and healthy-looking from being outdoors all day, God immediately told Samuel, “Get up!  Anoint this one.  He is the one I have chosen to be king.”  So, right there in the family tent, Samuel gently poured the anointing oil on David.

In those days anointing with oil meant that a person was set apart for a special purpose from God.  None of the people there really knew what God was up to, but from that day forward, God’s Spirit was moving in David in a powerful way.

Although this seems like the beginning of David’s story, it’s really not.  Quietly and creatively, since he before he was born, God had been shaping David to be a king who would shepherd the people He loved – Israel.

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You know, God has a plan for each of us like that — something he’s shaped into us quietly and creatively since before we were born.

We just have to be still enough to see it.

Huh… maybe there’s something to tending sheep.