when weeds bloom

Posted: July 7th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him… – Hebrews 2:8-9 ESV

This scripture makes clear the sovereignty of God and the human inability to really get it. God has put everything under the control of Jesus, leaving nothing out, and we walk around with the illusion of control. There’s this underlying belief that bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to those who must be doing something right. The language of the Bible expects its readers to not have to question the authority if Jesus. The Law put us all on the side of “wrong” and Jesus put us all on the side of “justified”.  The people who wrote the Bible understood that you wouldn’t be able to make the ends of what you know and the beginning of what you don’t know meet. They show you Jesus and that should be enough.

Life is not linear, but we make judgements and attribute value as though it were. When we’re weighing the truth, our minds dig up some nasty dirt to test against the limits of His jurisdiction. Like we’re trying to convince ourselves that He’s not really who He says He is, we think of the worst things imaginable to try  to see if it matches our idea of what the God we know would allow. It brings up existential questions about His goodness, or lack, and we wonder, if God is in control… then why do bad things happen?

Life is multidimensional. There is so much that we don’t see.

A straight line of cause and effect is rudimentary, but we fail to think past it. The second dimension adds height to the length, third dimension adds depth, and the fourth adds time. That’s where we live our reality and even with that, there are too many cause/effect variables and outcomes to be certain about anything. What we understand makes up our reality. When you are surrounded by people who agree on the reality, then you have a group. But, having a group of people who agree on a reality doesn’t make it true. It just makes it manageable. The reality that exists beyond our understanding goes much further into more dimensions.

You don’t have to understand all that. You just have to see Him.

Instead of conjuring up stories that you’ve heard from a distance, just focus on the ones you know first hand. Think of the bad things you’ve done, the broken parts of you that enabled it, and the healing that took place once you could no longer hide them. Sin makes you own the broken places like fruit makes the farmer acknowledge the roots.

My husband is mowing the lawn while I type this. My daughter and I are sitting outside with halos of clover flowers in our hair I picked them before he mowed because it all looks the same until it grows. Sometimes you don’t know you’re dealing with weeds until they bloom. I think Jesus allows your sin so that He can heal your roots.

You only know your story, and is scripture true in your story? You don’t know the eternal view of your own sin, much less anyone else’s. Is God in control or are you? Scripture backs everything up with the identity and finished work of Jesus. Scriptures expects for Him to be enough.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9 ESV

Don’t doubt the power and authority of Jesus just because people are experts at hurting one another. You might not see or understand all that is under His feet, but you know Him. He experienced death in every single person’s place. Because of this, God has given him authority over absolutely everything. There is nothing left to lose, no price left to pay.  It doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen…, it does mean that the story isn’t finished unfolding.

 

flower child

 


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sin wears a crown, too.

Posted: April 17th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” – Romans 6:6 ESV

We know that our old self….

My old self was a tangled effort. The right numbers never came up when it was my turn to be measured. I would paint inside the lines, whitewash the shadows, and candy coat the rain. My insufficiency wasn’t a question of my devotion. It was just that I was born beneath the surface and thought I had to work harder than everyone else to catch up to zero.

My old self was a flailing, unswaddled infant. An old woman trapped in a body that defied her dignity.

 …was crucified with Him…

Love knocked hard enough to get me to shave my legs and buy new perfume, but left with someone else at the end of the night. I was a pawn in everyone else’s chess game. I eventually stopped waiting for the phone to tell me why it stopped ringing.

They conspired against me and planned an elaborate going-away party without telling me where I was going. I thought it was finally my turn. No longer held back, I would be an equal. Legitimate at long last.

I was too far from the shore when I realized someone had removed the lifeboat and the roundtrip ticket was missing the return flight. I put on my life vest as I shoved feelings of betrayal with the sun beneath the horizon and waited for it all to make sense.

I was no closer, nor further from “right” no matter what I did. It took failure to realize that all of the sacrifices I could offer would never be enough. The betrayed became the betrayer. The cheated became the cheater. The pawn pulled up her skirt and walked herself off the chess board.

… in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing,…

I buried my pathetic efforts to be a good girl and haunted my grave long after the grass grew in knobby tufts over it. The old girl died hard. I finally realized that I had to get out of the passenger seat because the driver’s self interest never took my destination into account.

Nobody was left to judge my efforts. Nobody lengthened my hem, counted my buttons, or made sure I matched. Like being reborn into a parallel dimension where the streets are the same, but the road signs are missing. I was reborn into a Kingdom where Sin has been stripped of his heavy crown. I’m invisible in the world where Sin still gets the last word. He stands in his elaborate shoes and raises his gaudy scepter over the fearful masses to demand death and threaten penalty of penance. But he can’t see me. I’m free from his reign.

…so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

The “Do This” and “Don’t Do That” life is a façade to mask the innate ache for wholeness. Sin wants Christ’s Bridezilla so consumed with external décor that faithless effort wreaks through her pores as she walks, unwashed, down the wrong aisle.

The reign of Sin is only an echo down the canyons and corridors, but nothing more. The old self wants to climb the heights, run the distance, and build itself into a tower of righteousness, but something keeps moving the finish line further away. You think you’re building something for yourself, for God. But when you’re motivated by sin-avoidance, you’re a slave building someone else’s empire.

There exists a life where the wasps no longer patrol the streets waiting to sting you when you swerve. Law offices have been abandoned and the uniformed have found other passions. You wait your turn because you want to, not because you’re afraid not to. You stay in your lane because that’s what you would want someone else to do for you.

You’re not afraid of the judgment of someone in the old life because it doesn’t apply to you. You’re not afraid of God judging you because He has already passed it. Your only concern, now, is to figure out what you’ll do with your freedom.

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.– John 5:22-24 ESV

Vintage King of Spades


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broth of truth

Posted: February 23rd, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Failure is a pandora’s box of debilitating lies. It’s not enough that you fell, failure has a slew of insults to keep you from getting back up. There are so many ways to dismantle a human. Too many to count. A blameless lack of knowledge leaves you without knowing where to look for your enemy. How can you fight when you don’t know what weapons you’re fighting against?

That’s why I want to keep it simple for the moment. You’re like a battle wounded soldier hiding in the shed of a farmer’s widow. We’ll search for meaning later. Right now, you just need to sip the broth of Truth.

Cynics look high and low for wisdom and never find it. The open-minded find it right on their doorstep! – Proverbs 14:6 MSG

You’re accustomed to a culture of distrust. Your social circle nurtured group-importance by finding all the ways they were right and the rest of the world was wrong. If another wasn’t part of your group, then there was something wrong with them. Cynicism.

But look at you. Your group doesn’t know what to do with a broken soldier and you’re bleeding out on an outsider’s wooden floor. Your tiny box of existential “rightness” has been smashed by the headlong rejection of your comrades.

A blown mind opens the door for Wisdom. You can choose to reject the Truth or let it swallow you whole. It’s a fearful thing to be swallowed whole. Instead of becoming inflicted with the Fear-of-God, many hide until the Truth gets explained away.

The Fear-of-God is a spring of Living Water so you won’t go off drinking from poisoned wells.Proverbs 14:27 MSG

It’s human of us to balance incoming information with what we think we know. That’s why denial is always the first step. We unconsciously think that we are the authors of wisdom. We think we know all the words. We confer with ourselves. We consult with others. But you only confer to affirm that you’re okay. You only consult so you can be approved.

But what if you’re wrong? Reality is only a socially agreed upon attribution of meaning to the acknowledged narrative. Don’t you want the Truth? What if you’ve been drinking from a poisoned well? The Fear-of-God is a spring of Living Water. How do you get your hands on some of that Fear?

Failure is a pandora’s box of debilitating lies. The only goal of the enemy of the soul is to keep you from getting back up. The fading backside of your friends is evidence that they were not there to help you up. The midnight insults and accusations stealing your sleep are not there to lift you up. The blank stares of the answerless leaders reveal the gap between the Truth and the counterfeit.  The curtain between the actors and the audience has crashed to the stage and you stand there in a noiseless gasp of mind blown denial. The basis of your assurance could not carry the weight of reality.

The gullible believe anything they’re told. The prudent sift and weigh every word. -Proverbs 14:15 MSG

Solid Christians sin. They knowingly, openly, unabashedly make choices that are contrary to what they know is right. This is the introduction of Truth that time reveals.

You can spend years thinking that you are the one holding yourself together. Skin seems impenetrable until it’s sliced. The only thing that can stand the weight of time is the bedrock of Truth. Sip your broth. You are not the source of Wisdom. You are Wisdom’s vessel. You cannot hold yourself upright. “Upright” is a proclamation. Grace points to the man on his head and proclaims “Upright!”. Not because he is, but because “I AM”.

We are insufficient and our failures make sure we know it. Not to destroy us, but to open us. Grace gives the failure a purpose. When that sinks in, you will know the Fear-of-God; the spring of Living Water; the broth of Truth.purpose


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end of an era

Posted: February 13th, 2015 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I’ll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I’ll forget they ever sinned!” God’s Decree. – Jeremiah 31:34 MSG

I’ve had a job since I was fifteen. I think coming from a gypsy mother with no money made the act of making money really intriguing to me. It’s just that I developed a habit of wanting to work in most places I entered. I was a clerk at a really small town grocery store until I went with a church group to eat at a little country buffet and became their newest server. One afternoon, I went shopping at a nearby bigger small town with my adopted mom and we grabbed a cherry limeade from Sonic. I was driving by this time, so I submitted an application and I upgraded from country buffet to fountain drink maker at Sonic.

Working in another town made it easier to get away with my crazy and most nights people would have to drive me home because I was too drunk to drive myself. In retrospect, these were some pretty good acquaintances because I lived over thirty minutes away and it would be the middle of the night down a country dirt road. My adopted mom liked to shop at Wal-Mart and they built a new supercenter in a different, bigger small town, so I quit the fountain drink making job and became a cashier at Wal-Mart.

After I turned seventeen, I got a second job taking care of the flower beds at a local college during the summer. That was the summer I left home. I’ve always been fiercely independent. I think I came out of the womb waiting to be on my own. I quit both jobs and started working for quarters, literally, at a diner. Then I worked at a fast food burger chain. Then a different fast food burger chain. I cleaned rooms at a hotel, made follow-up sales calls for a satellite company who made us call ourselves a “phone line cable” company, and then I sucked nitrous oxide from whipped cream cans in between making sundaes at a frozen yogurt shop.  After that, I worked as a cashier at a grocery store.

It was hard for me to keep a job because I was homeless and my life was chaotic. When I turned nineteen, I was pregnant and a brand new Christian. A friend of a woman at my new church let me man her mall kiosk of flower arrangements until I had the baby. This brings me to the point of my story. Around this time, an Irish owned Mexican restaurant chain out of Kansas was built in our town. They opened right around the time my daughter was born and I went there with some friends after church. Old habits are hard to break. I filled out an application while I ate chips and salsa and I started my new job about two weeks later.

Due to the structure that living a Christian lifestyle brought, my life was more linear around this time. I had stability and a little group of people supporting me. My best friend from church started working with me, which made clocking out at 1 a.m. a blast. We were both nineteen, so the night was still young at 1 am. The rest of the world, however, was closed for business. That is, except the 24-hour Supercenter. We were the teenage girls who smelled like salsa and raided the beauty aisles of Wal-Mart at 2 am.

Our church groups would have their nights out to our restaurant. Other friends would end up there and wait to sit in my section. I loved when my world would take that place over. It made me feel important.

Life moved forward and earned some breaks and scars. Moves, marriages, break ups, failures, and redemptions looped us all in passing circles. I went there twice since I moved back. Once to see what the past tasted like and the second time to sit next to my husband as his heart was torn out.

Here’s the thing. I’m taking a small-town-ambition-fueled highlighter to this soggy-marshmallow-trailer-park-social-salad. The circle of friends got tangled. And a cold plate of nachos sat like a prop on an unfriendly Mexican Irish booth while words became razors.

We never entered that building again. It became an eyesore, a reminder of our sins, an innocence graveyard.

Then, a few months ago the place got shut down. Like a fed up landlord, a note hung on the door and the locks were changed. You can’t celebrate enduring memories on blood stains. So, I was glad.

An era is over. Grace has washed away most of the bitterness. New memories, new life, and redeeming Love has softened the pain of failure and loss. Healing has taken over and kindness has replaced scorn. So it’s only fitting that the Carpenter deemed it time to clean the slate.

Good riddance, Carlos O’Kelley’s.

“Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be— you get a fresh start, your slate’s wiped clean.” – Psalm 32:1 MSG

IMG_0249

 


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advice for the found out

Posted: November 30th, 2014 | Filed under: life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »
The following is a response to someone whose affair was just discovered and whose shame has been publicly paraded.

Dear Found Out,

I am so sorry you’re in the spot you’re in. The level of shame and humiliation you must be feeling is crushing.

I’m not sure if you’re looking for practical information, spiritual perspective, or just to reach out to someone who has been that person and had to navigate that mess. So, I’ll offer you a little of each.

The practical information is this:

  • It is best to own everything you did, resist sticking up for yourself, avoid explaining your reasons, and let people fall apart in their own way.
The longer you take to come clean about everything, the harder it’s going to be for you in our healing process. It’s like breaking a bone, not telling anyone about it, then the doctor has to break the bone again so it can heal right. Just go through it all at once so that you can get this part behind you. It’s horrible and you’ll lose every bit of what you thought was good about you, but the rebuilding is amazing and thorough. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Don’t stick up for yourself or offer your excuses. You have them, but you got them little by little and they made sense at the time. But you’re giving this to people all at once and it will sound pathetic, even to you. Excuses have a one time use: to get you trapped. They cannot be resurrected to set you free.

People are going go through their own pain because of this. You can’t help them and it’s not even about you, though they’ll make it about you if they can. It’s about them and God. It’s going to be hard on them and they’ll want to make you feel some of it. The spiritual perspective will help you endure their pain along with your own.

The Spiritual perspective is this:

Every second you’ve been alive, every breath you’ve taken, and every moment you’ve lived up to this point, God has known about this. Every time He has told you that He loves you, He knew about this. When He made you, when He saved you, and when He used you… He knew about this. This will change you, but it won’t change Him. He would not be God if He couldn’t handle your worst.

You’ve always had this inside of you and this is the time that He has decided to finally root it out. You’re about to learn what it is to be refined by fire and it sucks. You’re about to understand why Jesus had to do what He did. There is no way you could pay this debt. That is what this is all about.

The gravity of finally understanding the Truth is absolutely terrifying in every way possible. It’s also very personal. It’s between you and God. God will not allow you to use other people as a pacifier, so He is going to put up walls between you and anyone who will crowd out His voice. You have to remember not to blame anyone for failing you right now. They’re not supposed to be enough, remember. Don’t keep a mental list of their failures toward you, because they’ll be so numerous and spiritually horrific they wouldn’t be able to bear them. The more you need from them, the more they’ll demand from you and fail you. It’s you and God and that’s it.

Remember that when Adam and Eve sinned the first sin, God came for them, He didn’t wait for them to come to Him. When Jesus came, He went even further than the path in the garden, He went to every depraved place we could go. He’s with you. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that He’s left you. That’s enemy territory and the power is in the lie.

There is a battle raging for you you right now. Hell wants you to believe that you’re ruined and God wants you to know that He’s closer than He’s ever been. Of all those times you’ve said “God, I’ve got this,”… this is not one of them and He’s all over it.

People will tell you that you have to do a), b), and c), but that’s an attempt to get you to believe you can save yourself. There is no climbing back up the cliff from which you jumped. It’s okay if that reality destroys you. You’re about to be rebuilt stronger and more beautiful than you ever were before. Again, you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

As someone who has been in some version of your shoes:

The Christian culture has been too candied to be able to come anywhere near being sufficient enough to find you where you are. Some of the songs have words that are so on point, it’s surreal, but they’re sung by Disneyish characters who have no soul. It’s infuriating and sickening. It’s hard to find something real, but when you do, it’s hard to believe that God would still talk to you like that.

I’ve spent nearly a decade trying to add some friction to the steps people take to find the Truth. The fact that you remembered me while laying broken at the bottom of the cliff is proof some of the grit stuck. Everything I write is for people in your position. It’s like a road map. I know it’s hard to believe that God still loves you, and not only knew about this, but has a plan for this. That’s why I use as many scriptures as possible to back it up. Read those blogs again… things will pop out at you that you never saw before. I write in layers. I hide things only people like us would get. People like us: Saved by grace. Literally and for real this time.

Oh, did you know that Adam and Eve’s names weren’t mentioned until after they sinned? Before then, they were called “Man” and “Woman”. Interesting, isn’t it? Also, Adam wasn’t cursed…. the serpent was cursed and the ground was cursed. Adam and Eve lost their innocence, but they weren’t cursed. You have lost your innocence, but this will be the pivotal moment of your entire life. …A moment in your narrative that your future self thanks God for.

Hold on. He’s got you.

He won't leave you.


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