Saturday, December 13, 2014

We're Home!

We moved home last Saturday. It's been a week of unpacking, organizing and shopping for needed items. Everything feels new, but also like deja vu.


Yesterday the weather was beautiful so we rode bikes to the park like we used to. It was the same, but different. The monkey bars at the park felt lower, the bikes went faster and there was no toddler threatening to fall off the play structure. A year and a half is a long time.




The boys feel both happy to be here and also sentimental about leaving the trailer. I was somewhat surprised by their sentimentality, but then again, things don't make a home, people and memories do. Winston spent half of his life displaced and I wonder if he even remembers living in High River. So with each passing day we make new memories as a family, and each day it feels more like home.






Clint is enjoying his new office space although at one point he commented on feeling isolated. I think we are all adjusting to the idea of having personal space again.

My favourite room is the kitchen. We knocked down the wall that used to divide the kitchen from the dining room and I love the openness.




We are very thankful that my health seems to be improving. I still have flare ups every few months, but my energy levels are much better. So I continue to watch my diet, take my supplements and thank God for His kindness to me.


Everything I've gone through this past year and a half has solidified for me that Christ defines me and gives meaning to life. Circumstances and things don't matter as much. So I am enjoying this beautiful home, but I am especially thankful that God's goodness is unchangeable in both difficulties and blessings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why The Church Needs Struggling Members

I have a confession to make: fellowship is hard for me lately. My life these past 16 months could be described as unsteady and complicated. My instincts tell me to withdraw from people until I feel more steady and secure. Social pleasantries feel trite, and honest, nuanced answers are exhausting.

I know I am not the only one who feels this tension. So many dear friends have difficulties in their lives that don’t make for good small talk. They feel about as useful to the church as a clock without batteries. And the fact that they make it out at all is God’s grace.

It’s tempting to retreat from people in these times, but we must keep coming back because God warns us against quitting fellowship (Heb. 10:25). The opposite of our instinct is what we really need most, and when it comes down to it, our trials are not always about us. Sometimes we go through them for the sake of others.

Keep reading here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Is Politeness Killing Your Prayer Life?

Christians in North America are generally polite pray-ers. We tend to pray correct, respectful words that we think God wants to hear. But let's be honest, many of our prayers are tentative, repetitive, and somewhat boring.

I'm all for politeness with acquaintances. But real relationships require more. If my husband only spoke distant and polite words to me, our relationship would wither and die. I want to hear his struggles, his fears, his anger, and his joys. I want to process with him, not just hear his conclusions. I want him to trust me.

Intimate relationships require authentic feelings. Our innermost thoughts—however wrong or immature—are shared in trust. So why do we keep God at arm's length? Are we trying to be something we are not? Are we afraid to trouble Him? God is our Father, yet we often treat Him like a distant relative.

Read the rest over at True Woman.

Friday, October 31, 2014

From Awkward to Awesome: One Hockey Mom's Journey

Every parent of small children can testify that going anywhere alone feels like a holiday. Life becomes slow motion. You don’t have to be alert at every second. You notice your surroundings more. You feel like you are expending 20 times less energy. Of course, if you are like me, you may be missing your little mischief-makers while simultaneously enjoying the benefits.

But lately it’s getting easier. My boys are 7, 5, and 3, and each year, parenting feels less intense. Whether at the grocery store or the play park, I notice the change.

This year I marvel at my transformation in the hockey dressing room.

Rewind two years. My oldest son is doing his first ever hockey camp. There is a new maturity about him. He feels it too. Mostly he doesn't need my help. Although, getting ready for ice time is one exception.

The dressing room is a nightmarish rite of passage for me. It is incredibly hot. I could almost close my eyes and imagine I just stepped off the plane in Cuba, except the air smells like musty, sweaty hockey equipment.

I help Hunter locate his bag in the ever busier room. We open the zipper, and I take a moment to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number and variety of equipment pieces. What do I put on first? What if I miss something essential and then have to take if all off and begin over again?

I decide to copy the others. I look around. The other boys are already half dressed...half dressed! How did they do that? I hear some mothers mutter something about getting done before the older boys come charging in. I am totally starting to sweat. "Ok. Let's start with the protective shorts."

Somehow I manage to get him mostly dressed despite my one year old's continual attempts to get at the urinal, my three year old's demands that I peel his banana, and the onslaught of the "older boys" coming off their ice session. In the back of my mind it's starting to register that my littlest is crawling around on the floor amidst a bunch of boys in skates.

Fast Forward to last Friday. I head to the rink with all three boys. I carry nothing but my purse. My 7 year old mostly gets himself dressed. I quickly throw some equipment on my 5 year old while my 3 year old entertains himself quietly.

We watch the game, I visit with some parents, it is kind of...enjoyable.


I have moments of sadness because my babies are growing up, but this new stage has its perks. Now--due to no credit of my own--I can leave the dressing room feeling calm and smug at my adeptness with a shin pad.








Monday, September 22, 2014

Learning to Wait

It has been 15 months since our town flooded and I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I am learning that God is not constrained by my time schedule. He does not feel the clock ticking as I do. He is free to do as He pleases. As strange as it sounds, this gives me hope. Not only because he is good, but also because he knows better than I do.  

Sometimes I’m tempted to believe the last 15 months have been wasted time. If only I had better health. If only I had the comforts of a house. And I forget that even now I am where God wants me to be.

Jeremiah Burroughs in his book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment,  says:
Be sure of your call to every business you go about. ...then, whatever you meet with, you may quiet your heart with this: I know I am where God would have me. Nothing in the world will quiet the heart so much as this: when I meet with any cross, I know I am where God would have me, in my place and calling; I am about the work that God has set me.
I believe that God is sovereign over sickness, natural disaster and even the setbacks in our home repair. Sometimes when he calls us to bear a cross, we don’t need an exit plan so much as a content heart. This is one of those times for me.

I find comfort in the fact that sitting here in this “camping house” (as my three year old calls it) with my inflamed toes and a sluggish body is exactly where I am supposed to be. He has crowded me here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Pitfalls of Parenting Out of Fear and Peer Pressure

I have discovered, much to my shock and dismay, that I am officially a Helicopter Mother. My natural tendency is to hover over my kids, micromanage their days, and if I was physically able to, I would probably be teaching them something at every moment of every day.

I know I'm not alone in this. A trip to the local play park confirms it. There are parents following their kids around narrating their every move or teaching them songs and rhymes while they play (usually loudly so that everyone knows what a good parent they are.) It seems like I am constantly surrounded by supermoms.

Keep reading here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Becoming Who You Already Are

I recently celebrated eleven years of marriage to a wonderful man. As I look back over my life and marriage, it's amazing how much God has taught me since those days of honeymoon love.

Fifteen years ago I sat on a noisy, crowded bleacher, watching my first rodeo in the afternoon sun. I felt like a foreigner. Truth be told, I wouldn't have been there if not for a handsome cowboy entered in one of the categories. I vividly remember one thing: the way this particular cowboy's hair—dark and thick and a little bit long—glimmered in the sun with each buck of his horse.

Keep reading here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Surprising Beauty of Christian Friendship

She is lying in the hospital bed. Jaundiced. Attached to tubes and an IV bag. Waiting to discover why she is there. She is more concerned about her husband at home struggling with his own health issues. Who is going to look after him while she is in the hospital? They have been married for almost 58 years and it’s obvious they still  love each other.

“What’s the secret to a happy marriage?” I ask while we wait.

“Friendship goes a long way in marriage.” She throws this little gem out with a tired smile. “It enables you to forgive. Helps you let the little things go...and really, you just get tired of being mad at your best friend. So you let it go and get back to being friends.”

There are few earthly things that can compare to the beauty of Christian friendship.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.(Proverbs 18:24)

1. A Friend Sees the Person You Are Becoming (and Helps You Get There)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Eccles. 4:9-10)
Friendship can take many forms -- a mentor, a mentoree, a peer, a family member. But anyone who's ever struggled and fell can testify to the power of friendship to pick you up.

For Christians this is especially true. Friendship is enduring because we do not pick friends based on what they can do for us.

We see people for who they are, but also who they are becoming.

God loves his children despite their sin and weakness, and we view our friends in light of this fact. But more than that, we envision who our friends will be in the future -- holy and glorious -- like a bride made beautiful for her Husband. (cf. Ephes. 5:25-27)

Sometimes we need to read the end of the book before we read the beginning and middle. It just might change our opinion of someone.

As C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” We are eternal creatures. Seeing our friend’s potential is one way to bless and honour them. It also encourages us to hope the best for our friends.

We each have our own turn in the Slough of Despond.  Thank God for friends who stick with us in hard times and help us get back on the narrow path.

2. A Friend Does Not Give Up on You Easily

A friend loves at all times…(Prov. 17:17)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.(Cor. 13:4-7)
Transparency is one aspect of friendship that I am growing in appreciation for. A true friend doesn’t judge you harshly, but lets you breathe and unmask without fear.

I’ve found that when a person is first hurting from a new trial, they haven’t come to any godly conclusions yet. They might sound immature and over-dramatic. Sometimes they implicate other people with what they say because they are not filtering their words yet. They are simply trying to understand themselves.

It goes without saying that you need friends that you can really trust. Friends who are not going to repeat what you say in these “processing times”. Friends who will hear you and pray for you and point you to the Lord.

Sometimes it’s hard to find a safe place to share your heart. I’m thankful that I do have trustworthy, godly women in my life, and I’m learning to let them into my mess and help me. If feels so much better to be on the giving side of friendship, but sometimes we need to be willing to receive, to be open and to trust.

Perhaps just as important is the question of our own heart.

Am I a good friend to others?

Am I a safe place for the secrets of others? Am I quick to judge or worse, quick to gossip? Do I bear all things, believe the best, hope for their good and endure all things?
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

3. A Friend is Kind

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
I think “kind” is often confused with “nice.” And nice people are thought of as boring, repressed or flatterers. Right? But kindness must be differentiated from niceness.

A kind friend is compassionate and benevolent. They take an interest in the concerns of others. They are inclined to do good and to think the best of people. They are tenderhearted. Forgiving. Reflecting the loving kindness of God.

An interesting article in the The Atlantic titled “Masters of Love” showed that marriages that lasted had something in common -- you guessed it -- kindness. But as I read through this study, I was stuck by how lasting marriages were not largely defined by passion, but by kindness and generosity toward each other. Basically, being a good friend.

Kindness is not a new idea. But it’s a virtue that seems to have gone out of style. So much so that “speaking your mind” trumps it every time.

Are we afraid of losing our ‘self’ if we put our needs aside for the sake of another? Are we angry and selfish in our responses more out of habit than preference? Do we even value kindness?

To initiate with kindness and respond in kind may transform our relationships more than we imagine. And what better motivation than to reflect the character of our God.
But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,... (Nehemiah 9:17)
We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

-----
I feel her frustration lying in that hospital bed. Her husband has trouble getting around, yet he longs to be beside his wife. Of course they have family that love them and will take care of them, but as she rightly says, “I’m the only one that knows all the little things he needs.” She is the one that knows him best and can best encourage him in his weakest moments. 58 years of practicing kindness is no small thing to let go of.

I’m not against passionate, honeymoon-like romance. But when the movie ends there, it only tells a fraction of the story. Kindness, enduring love and appreciation of eternal value shapes  the rest.

Christian friendship is intrinsically valuable when it reflects Christ-likeness. The beauty of enduring friendship is surprising sometimes. My life is profoundly enriched because of Christ-centered friendships. I couldn’t have gotten through the last year without them. They just might be one of God’s greatest gifts.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Race Even Non-Runners Can Win

Running for an hour seemed like a break compared with the rigors of life at home with a baby and toddler. So after the birth of my second son, I decided to do something I had never done before. I joined a run club.

Race day was always inspiring. Hundreds of sets of feet pounding on the hard pavement—everyone pushing to their limits and beyond. By about two miles, I began to feel tired, but the crowd kept me going

I vividly remember finishing my first race. Trying desperately not to trip over my rubber legs, my lungs were burning and my side cramping, and I didn't think I was going to be able to finish. At this pivotal moment, I heard something. It was a crowd cheering. Those who had finished first were standing on the sidelines cheering the rest of us on.

Keep reading here.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Home I Never Knew I Longed For


The best part of a vacation is coming home. Or so people say. 

For me, each returning evokes longing. We have been in temporary dwellings now for just over a year. Our flood-wrecked house is undergoing repairs and the waiting makes me ache. I feel displaced, unstable and in transit. I long to pull into our driveway after being away, and to feel the comfort of arriving at our home and haven.

The tension tugs at my emotions and tempts me to despondency. But the words of Hebrews 11 infuse my heart with hope. They tell the story of saints who left their earthly homes because they desired something better. They freely identified themselves not only as living in transit, but as pursuing a heavenly home. They so strongly identified with their heavenly citizenship that they called themselves “strangers” and “exiles” while here on earth. 
These all died in faith...having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
So perhaps this involuntary homelessness is a reality check for me. Do I more closely identify with my earthly home or my heavenly one? In truth, I’m not sure my house has ever been a true sanctuary for me. The flood last year leaves no doubt of it’s deficiency. Perhaps my longing to move home is actually a longing for a better homeland. The ultimate driveway to pull into.

In a sermon titled “The Weight of Glory,”C.S. Lewis said: 
These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.
I have a sneaking suspicion that my longing for home will never be satisfied in this life. Earthly longings are shadows, but not substance. Insatiable apart from Christ. They taste of fleeting satisfaction, but always leave me wanting. And yet far too often, the object of my desire eclipses my view of Christ. 

I'm learning that my refuge is not found between four walls, but in Jesus Christ. In Him I find freedom from sin’s slavery. Reconciliation. Peace. A spiritual rest untouchable by circumstances. He stretches out the heavens, keeps the earth in orbit, redeems humanity and holds my heart in his hands.

Through faith in Christ I find the sanctuary that eludes me on earth--the ultimate home that I never knew I longed for.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Things To Avoid When Weak

Lately I’ve been frustrated with my limitations. Since getting sick with an autoimmune disease I seem to need sleep like a baby on a growth spurt. I feel keenly aware of those extra 2-3 hours that I spend sleeping while others are being productive. Truthfully, I feel embarrassed about it.
I know I’m not alone in my feelings of inadequacy. I see the new mom who is overwhelmed by caring for her newborn baby while another mom goes out for a jog the day after delivery. I see the woman with a high school diploma intimidated by the woman with an MBA. I see the woman whose marriage is falling apart or who longs to be married, while another woman is posting pictures of marital bliss on Facebook.
Keep reading here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Have We Failed in our Discussions on Modesty?

Contrary to popular belief, men are not animals. The Christian blogosphere seems to be full of posts on modesty that are...well, disappointing. I am thankful for the balance and wisdom of certain writers such as this one. But far too often men are portrayed as animalistic creatures that have no capacity to control their lustful thoughts. If you follow through with this line of thinking, you have to ask, how much does a woman have to cover up in order to prevent every last man from having a lustful thought? This is especially disconcerting considering that even in Muslim countries where burqas are the norm, men still lust.

Can Modesty Stop Lust?

My husband recently preached on Genesis 12 and I was struck by that fact that Sarai’s beauty caused more than one man to sin. She was so beautiful, in fact, that Abram was afraid that the Pharaoh would kill him in order to have his wife. So Abram told Sarai to lie and say she was his sister. Pharaoh did as Abram predicted and took her for a wife. Was this Sarai’s fault? Was she not modest enough? Well, no. Sarah is lifted up as an example of modesty in 1 Peter 3. Sarah’s example points us to the fact that modesty, in and of itself, cannot stop lust.

We live in a sexually-charged, body-obsessed culture. May I suggest that it is not helpful to encourage women to think about and analyze men’s lust for their bodies? Many women are already thinking about their body too much. Our culture preaches that a woman’s worth is defined by how “hot” her body is. “Hot” women are worthy of more praise and attention than those who are not. This causes many women to have their fair share of insecurities and fears. 

Will I lose my man’s attention? Am I worth much? Will another woman will outshine me? Will modesty make me nearly disappear? Will I ever snag a man’s attention? Christianity offers a better alternative to this woman -- an identity apart from “hotness.”  But too often we add to the pressure by suggesting that women need to be attractive enough to keep their husband’s interest, but not attractive enough to not cause another man to lust. With all this push and pull, women are left to walk a fine line. 

Nevertheless, Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” There is something noble and good about trying to help a brother in his battle with lust. But lets be clear about whether we are asking women to help or cure the problem of lust. Because the first we can do imperfectly and the second we cannot do at all.

1 Timothy 2:8-9 and Our Motivation for Modesty

Paul says, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

Paul seems to be encouraging women to avoid a general showy-ness. She should not flaunt her wealth, status, style or sexuality in order to bring attention to herself. It speaks to more than women’s clothing, but not less. Modesty is a matter of the heart expressed in clothing, demeanour and conversations. It is an outward expression of who you are.

I do think women who dress modestly make it easier for men to see their personhood rather than their parts. However, stopping lust cannot be the number one driving motivation for modesty. It places an unfair burden on women to save men from their sins. A role that only Jesus Christ can fulfill. 

A more prominent motivation for modesty should be a desire to glorify God in the gospel. The gospel confronts the attention-getting self-focus of our natural self. When we respond in faith to God’s offer of salvation, we are transformed into a new person with new desires and motivations. We desire God’s glory more than our own. We are disillusioned with our greatness and find more enjoyment in God’s holiness and beauty. He is the one worthy of attention, not us. At times we struggle to remember who we are in Christ, but as we grow in our communion with God, our desires become more and more in line with His.

Modest people may look quite different from each other depending on their culture, context and personality. Modesty is a matter of the heart first and foremost. In light of 1 Timothy 2:9, we should ask ourselves whether we are more defined by wealth, beauty and sexuality or by good works? Although these things are not mutually exclusive, your kindness should leave a stronger impression than your Prada purse.

Banishing Fear

When we remember who we are in Christ, we will feel free to give up our spotlight for the sake of another. Femininity is beautiful and so is modesty. They are both God’s ideas. Women don’t need to hide or be ashamed, but our clothing and demeanor should reflect a humble heart -- a serene heart -- a heart that confidently trusts in the sovereignty and goodness of God. When we begin to comprehend how much we are loved and accepted by God, we won’t crave the attention of people to the same degree or severity. God defines our worth, not people. As we grow in communion with him, a miraculous thing happens: our fears are cast out by His love (1 John 4:18).


(My very favourite book on modesty is Modest: Men and Women Clothed in the Gospel by R.W. Glenn and Tim Challies. Unfortunately, I lost my book in the flood last year so I can’t quote you from their book. But if you are trying to think through this topic in your own life, I highly recommend that get the book and read it.)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hope for the Indecisive

Remediation of our flood-soaked home has given me the chance to play interior designer. Now I’m noticing baseboards and backsplash and combing the magazine shelves for home decorating tips. And honestly, I’ve been overwhelmed by the massive amount of decisions. I had NO IDEA how many would be required to renovate a home. How many shades of white are there? You might be surprised! How many kinds of trim and baseboard? Interior doors? Flooring? Light Fixtures? Hardware? Railing? Cabinets? Countertops? Sinks? Etc.. And how do you match the style and colours? 

Needless to say, my mind has been overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices.  More than once I have agonized and second-guessed myself.

Basically, this has been a crash course in decision making for me. And I’ve discovered that I am a horrible decision maker. I had no idea just how bad I was until this year. 

Rewind five months. I am standing in my stripped-bare frame of a house -- emotionally fatigued and confused about what I want. The plumber, electrician, carpenter and general contractor are all looking to me -- waiting for me to make a decision about where to put the washer. I desperately need a cathartic five minute cry, but then I would be paying these men to wait around for me to finish my meltdown! So I make a decision, leave and then immediately begin to second guess myself.

Priorities

Over the next 5 months I repeated this pattern many times. At some point I began to realize that there was a reason I was so anxious.

We make decisions more difficult than they need to be when we forget to keep our priorities straight. Jesus’ words in Luke 12: 22-32 are such a beautiful reminder for me that,

  1. God cares about what we need here on earth.
  2. God will provide for us.
  3. We have less control than we think, and
  4. If I’m getting overly anxious, it’s probably because I’m making something here on earth my treasure.

    And he [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 

    Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

In light of these truths, the location of my washer doesn’t seem so important. While I can’t add an hour to my life by worrying, I probably did lose an hour. But as I begin to understand that God will provide what I need, I loosen my iron grip on the details. I don’t need to make perfect decisions. In most things, it’s sufficient to make good decisions.

What Do You Treasure?

Someone once said that our emotions are a window to our soul. Our anxiety shows us what our hearts love. We need only look. Do our decisions have to be perfect? Do we care too much what other people think? Is the decision too important to us? Are we defined by it?

It’s true that we treasure comfort, beauty, success and riches. But we can’t take them with us when we die. Redemption and an eternity spent with the One we love most is a better treasure. It cannot be lost, destroyed or stolen. God cannot fail and his promises don’t wear out.

The gospel doesn’t make all decisions easy, but it should take some of the pressure off of us. There is only one decision that we need to get exactly right. And that is deciding who and what we love most.


Monday, June 30, 2014

More Than I Wanted To Know

I sit on the balcony of my Kananaskis hotel room sipping a warm mug of tea. The air is slightly cool so I wrap up in a blanket and sit, taking in the sights and sounds of nature. The crisp mountain air is slightly tainted with the smell of pot wafting over from another balcony. Thankfully it dissipates quickly. Buzzing and chirping accompany the Pavarotti album we have playing in the background. And I am surrounded by beauty and calm.

Why is it that God seems closer in nature? The beauty elevates my soul and causes me to praise God for his lush creation. It’s a bit like a teaser, something that nudges me in the direction of God, but leaves things tantalizingly blurry. It leaves my deepest questions unanswered. My greatest problems unsolved.

The Lure of the Obscure
And yet, there is a pull to obscure revelation.  God’s beauty reflected in creation is delightful. It points me to something mystical and supernatural. Something that transcends my understanding. How often we prefer to stop here. To have a taste of divine beauty, but go no further. Because further brings constraints to my autonomy. Much is left unsaid that I am left to interpret in a way that feels therapeutically satisfying.

The Lure of Significance
A mystic flavor seems to be rising in popular Christianity. Authors such as Kathleen Norris present an appealing sacramentalism where mundane and ordinary provide channels of special communion with God. But I think this mysticism appeals to us so much because a large percentage of our time is spent on insignificant tasks such as housework and we long to feel significance. If we meet God in the reflection in the salad bowl or the rainbow in the dishwater suds then we find purpose and meaning in the mundane. Perhaps some of this is helpful, but I find it tends to cause confusion. It often creates an insider and outsider mentality that is simply not there in God’s revealed word. In the Bible we do not find a secret mysterious key to communion with God that some uncover and others do not. Instead we find a free and open call for all to commune with God through his son, Jesus Christ. All who have found salvation in Christ have equal access to God. 

The Clarity of God’s Word
Nature lovers and mystics are correct in pointing us the revelation of God in nature. His “eternal power and divine nature” are clearly seen in creation. (Rom. 1:20). And God also reveals himself to us in the ordinary. Our lives are checkered with tokens of grace and God’s providence. But we are depriving ourselves of vital information if we neglect God’s revelation of himself though words.


These words bring clarity. They record how God has worked in his people throughout history. They reveal God’s will. They tell us of his Son who is the fullest revelation of God. After all Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Heb. 1:3)


In God’s word the reality of my sin contrasts the perfect holiness of this God of beauty. I discover my utter helplessness to save myself and Christ’s plan of salvation to reconcile me to himself. Sometimes I don’t like what I read. Often the truth wounds before it heals. And we like to avoid the wounding. We want wholeness and maturity without the pain that brings us there. We long to feel enlightened and purposeful without accountability. In short, reading the bible interprets reality for us when we would prefer to interpret it ourselves. We prefer to create realities that flatter ourselves.


So I look at the vibrant green leaves rustling in the wind. I hear the robins lovely song. I’m in awe of the majestic mountains and calmed cohesive beauty of God’s creation. But I don’t need to find a mystical way into God’s presence. I’ve entered by the narrow gate. Christ’s blood was shed for my sin and it no longer stands between us. I glance up at the clouds far above and remember that the clouds do not separate me from Him. He indwells me by his Spirit--even now--and I am free to commune with him.  Ignorance may be bliss, but the truth sets us free. (Jn. 8:32)

Monday, June 16, 2014

When God Washes Away False Security

I’m approaching an anniversary I would rather forget.

On June 20, 2013, floodwaters covered my town and my home. I wasn’t home when it happened. I was at the doctor’s office receiving a lupus diagnosis, and needless to say, my world was shaken. My health and my home were things that made me feel safe. They were familiar. They were part of me. To have them both taken so suddenly left me feeling insecure and adrift. I thought I had my identity in Christ. I had recently taught about it at a women’s retreat. But suddenly I was asking, “Who am I if I lose my health?” “What use am I?” “What’s my worth?” It’s hard to be weak and it’s hard to cost other people something with your neediness. It really stripped me bare. Did I have worth apart from my contributions?

Keep reading here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Two Men I'm Thankful for this Father's Day

In our culture, 'manliness' is a word that brings to mind images clear as mud. Good men stand out like lighthouses in the fog. As I think of the men in my life, I am thankful. I’m thankful that I’ve known men who are loving, kind and unafraid to go against the prevailing tide of confusion.

My Dad
My Dad is kind of a tough guy. Not a jerk. Just seemingly not afraid of...anything. He’s a cop who is regularly exposed to horrible and evil things. He’s a Christian leader who counsels people through messy situations. He fights for justice and what he sees as right. It’s pretty hard to shake this guy up. I don’t remember ever seeing him cry, although, my wedding pictures reveal unshed tears as he walked me down the aisle.

My Father loves me. The way he plunged himself into the herculean task of fatherhood leaves me with no doubt. I see now what I couldn’t understand as a child; he habitually set his own needs aside to care for his family.  From the time I was young, he took great care, not only to make sure I was fed and physically safe, but also in the care of my soul. He invested hefty amounts of time in helping me to understand God, myself and the world around me. 

We had house rules, but the truth is, my dad was as soft as pudding when it came to his kids. Even as I grew up, he was the kind of Dad that would leave work and drive his university-going daughter from campus to her downtown ballet class...just so he could spend some time with her. He cared about what was going on in my life and talked me through many issues. Not once did he shrug off anything that was important to me as “silly girl stuff.” If it was important to me, he would help me figure it out.


My Kids’ Dad

My own husband is a remarkable father to our three boys. He’s hard on them in the sense of encouraging them to do things outside of their comfort zone, but surprisingly tenderhearted when they are wounded or hurting. It’s not unusual for a boy having a nightmare or having a bad day at school to want his father over his mother. My boys know that if they’re having trouble, their dad will not brush off their ideas or belittle them.


He teaches them about cowboy culture, playground bullies and how to draw trees like Leonardo da Vinci. It’s not uncommon for topics to range from ancient battles to the Greek alphabet to Johnny Cash. 

What the bible teaches about spirituality is a daily topic of conversation. He is not afraid to point them to a better father, namely, “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” And my boys know that this is the topic that holds the most weight with their dad.

They learn by his example what humble leadership looks like. Between church and family, opportunities abound to see their Dad in action, and here is what they see: 

  • a man who leads with compassion, courage and wisdom 
  • a man who does not blame-shift or shirk responsibility, but makes hard decisions and accepts responsibility for the consequences. 
  • a man that nourishes and cherishes those in his care
  • a man who cares little what people think of him, but cares greatly for their souls
  • a man who values all kinds of people because his "God shows no partiality." (Rom. 2:11)  

The men in my life didn't learn about manhood on the pages of Maxim or GQ magazine. They model their lives after the one Man, Jesus Christ, who has the power to turn back the tide. They have tasted the unconditional adoptive love of God the Father, and the transforming work of the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own hearts, and extend this grace--this family love--to those around them.

It's hard to overestimate the blessings of a good dad. As poet, George Herbert, once said: "One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters."

Monday, June 9, 2014

Winston

Dearest Winston,

I can't believe my baby is turning three. I'm sorry this last year was so chaotic. I feel like I have missed so many nuances of growth and change in you. You are such a special boy and your Daddy and I love you to pieces. Some of the details aren't clear, but here are some of things we love about you;

  • You love to make messes. The problem is you are so cute when you do it so mommy doesn't always stop you like I should. It's true what they say, the youngest gets away with murder. I like to think of you as an artist with an advanced sense of tactile sensation.








  • You love drawing. You will sit for VERY long periods of time and just draw perfect little circles and zig zags. No one taught you how to hold a pencil…you just knew. Your favourite toy right now is the plain notebook and pencil that your Grandma Debbie gave you for Easter. You are forever asking where your "handy-dandy-notebook" is.


  • You like to scrunch your face up and growl at people at the most inappropriate times…usually with strangers.



  • You LOVE hyphenated words. I've never met a child who liked hyphenated words so much! You say things like, "Momma-Grandma-Debbie." and "I'm a horsey-puppy-bear!" With matter-of-fact authority you tell me,  "It's called guaco-guaco-molia" and your crystal clear request at the drive thru window is always a "hom-hom-cheeseburger!"


  • You love to put your big brothers in "bum-locks." You tackle them to the ground, whip your little legs around their neck and squeeze tight--your diaper in their face. You squeal in delight at their discomfort. Your big brothers sure do love you to let you get away with it!


  • You are compulsive liar about your age. You told everyone you were "four" until Knox turned five…then suddenly you were "five" too.



  • No matter where we go, you always offer to pray, and without fail, you pray the same thing, "Dear God, please, don't be scared…" This can be a little awkward, but we know you mean 'please help me not to be scared…as in, at bedtime…'


  • You like to give Knox permission to do anything he wants. If Knox asks for ice cream, your raspy little voice calls out, "Sure, Knox, sure…go ahead!" 


  • You always tell me, "I love you too, Mom!" when I never said it first. I'm so glad you know I love you, Honey!


  • Your favourite songs are "Lion Man," "Baby I'm Howling for You" and "What Does the Fox Say?" Without fail, when you hear one of your favourite tunes, you run to me yelling, "Mom, Mom, dance with me!" And of course, I oblige you. I love your sweet little arms around me and your soft cheek on my mine.


  • You love all things cowboy. You're usually the Lone Ranger or Tonto, roping random legs and door knobs.

Even at your young age, I'm encouraged by things God is doing in your heart. After hearing the song "Bad Things" from Connie Dever's Praise Factory catechism, you asked me,

"Did bad things kill God?"

"Well, Jesus died for our sins." I tried to clarify, but you already knew the answer.

"But he is alive now." You said with certainty. Then your eyes teared up and you asked, "Will I die because of bad things?"

"No, Honey, not if you ask Jesus to save you. He died for you." You seemed to think about this for a while and accept it.

This is our prayer for you, little guy. We long for you to know God's love and care in your life and his mighty power to save. We pray that your life would give God glory and that you would find your happiness and rest in Him.