Tag Archives: Jesus

Viral Jesus

12 Oct

If Jesus came in the flesh today, thousands would stand in line in hopes of getting tickets to his sold-out stadium event. Waiting in the cold, shivering from the chill and the anticipation, hoping to get a glimpse of this high profile celebrity.

After watching his Facebook Live video that went viral of him healing that famous billionaire with the rare disease no one can pronounce. 3 billion views. Is that even possible? He practically broke the internet. It’s a good thing there were motivated Christians to come beside him and help him continue to market himself. They gave him a brand, put him on a world tour that sold out in less than 12 minutes. The elite got their VIP meet-in-greet of course. And a few lucky ordinary people who shared his post
and tagged their friends.

Now the city is abuzz with this new sensation. Traffic surrounding the venue is at a stand-still. Protesters with angry signs shout behind barricades.

“Of course there are protestors,” those that are close to him whisper, “persecution is inevitable when he is making this BIG of an impact.”

The president would show up to shake his hand. Mark Zuckerburg would be there to put aside his different beliefs and vow to help him continue to use his platform for good. So much GOOD.


In a seedy 24 hr diner, on the other side of the railroad tracks…

A trucker walks in, dirty and exhausted from all the miles, needing a shower and some coffee badly. A stranger sees him immediately and buys him a cup. They chat about his work, but get to the deep stuff fast. The stranger sees things in that trucker he never saw before. All the hope and potential of a newborn. The tough, weathered trucker finds tears falling into his coffee mug as something in him releases.

A woman walks in. Or is it a man? She’s spent the night on the corner, trying to make a few hundred dollars. She avoids eye contact with the stranger. Something about him unsettles her, makes her feel shame. He doesn’t let her ignore him. He buys her some waffles and hot cocoa. They talk for hours and she finds herself pouring out her life story. The abuse. The rejection. The stranger nods.

“It’s not your fault. You don’t have to live like this.”

The conversation continues into the early morning and the woman knows her life will never be the same.

As the media broadcasts the life-changing event just up the road, few realize that maybe we have the wrong man.

coffee

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The Only Cure For Despair

8 Jun

Every human is confronted with the same decisions: believe the dark thoughts or cast them out. And I am realizing that intersection faced multiple times a day is really what makes or breaks a life.

I am reminded again, you can have the whole world but lose your soul.

Money is an illusion. Adventure can be miserable. Traveling doesn’t bring you peace. Neither does having a beautiful, loving family.

The reality of human nature is this: nothing is ever enough.

We grasp at the stars with hands that can’t hold anything, it’s always just within our reach.

Happiness. Fame. Romantic love. Success. Amazing experiences.

They fade in color like anything left out in the sun too long.

We are the desert wanderers, watching miracles happen next to us and forgetting in a day, never arriving to the promise land we’re camped right outside of.

We are dust and we can’t get back to the ground fast enough.

Meaninglessness, meaninglessness.

If we’re honest, we all face the reality of the futility of it all.

Some of us ignore the pressing truth. We numb ourselves with pictures and noise, bury ourselves in stuff and other’s drama. We curb the appetite of despair just enough to get us to the next high.

Some of us fall completely into the darkness and let it engulf is. We give up all hope and decide to leave. The world is shocked for a moment, then keeping spinning.

But some of us. Some of us touch the light on the other side, grasp it like a rescue rope.

Some of us have tasted Love and know everything else is bitter. And know matter how often we forget, we have this Hope.

A Reason.

A Meaning.

Beyond the easily combustible stuff.

Beyond fickle emotions or the next best thing.

Beyond the broken parts of our mind telling us it’s not worth it.

Beyond this world that is slowly expiring.

And it’s not even some intangible thing we have to conjure up or repeat enough phrases or read enough or attend the right church or seminar.

IT is a actually HIM.

A whispered name that stands firm when all the walls around us are knocked down.

A nest, untouched in a hurricane.

The only real reason for carrying on.

Jesus.

So we moved forward, with Light on our faces and Hope in our hearts.

Knowing what the world needs.

Knowing what we need.

Enough For Today

14 Dec

Moments of clarity come, falling into my heart like snow, covering the dust and dirt, the anxiety and confusion, creating a new landscape of white.

I am thankful. Deep down in my bones.

My boot-covered feet crunch as I walk across our lawn to the mailbox, making new footprints in the white powder. I inhale deeply, let the cold in, let myself rest in the fleeting stillness.

I am here.

I am alive.

And it’s a beautiful thing.

The sky is already darkening, even though it’s only 3:30. I forgot how early it gets dark in the north. But I don’t mind it. The twinkling lights shine bright all over our neighborhood, a symbol that never gets cliche. My daughter points them out as we drive, never tired of the magic.

It’s hard to believe still, this is my life.

Lately I’ve been trying to get out of my head. To stop and take it all in, without the distractions, with all of my senses. My kids are brilliant at this. It’s all they know. Now, here. THIS moment.

I don’t want to miss it.

But I don’t want to obsess about not missing it either. Anxiety is sneaky and takes many forms. I am beginning to recognize the start of that spiral, when I back myself into a corner and refuse to see what’s right in front of me. My head takes me on an nightmare-ish ride.

I forget that I can stop the car anytime. I can get out and say,

“Not today. Today is a gift. Today is mine. Today is Yours.”

When the worry piles and piles in heaps till I feel like I can’t breathe, I stop and shake myself off and realIze I always had the breath, I just had to find it.

There is no lack.

This truth comes often lately, piercing through anything in my flesh, breaking open things to let the light in.

I have everything I need: physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am not waiting for the elusive one day, that day is here, now.

Even when the old familiar stresses push their way into my day, and I feel that urge to distract myself out of it, I know the only way out is thankfulness that puts me in the center of the present.

There is honey in the rock.

I take a moment to count my blessings. Because it’s anything but cliche.

It’s life.

Surprising friendships. Good people. Music that heals. A warm kitchen: nourishing food. My son’s sloppy wet kisses (heaven meeting earth.) Conversations with my daughter that leave me astounded. When she makes her brother belly laugh. My husband’s steady, faithful, unwavering love. Not dreading the holidays. New traditions. Coffee, always. Remembering why we celebrate: a baby born in the humblest of places, a moment in time changing everything forever.

Knowing we are home.

Really we don’t need much

Just strength to believe

There’s honey in the rock,

There’s more than we see

In these patches of joy

These stretches of sorrow

There’s enough for today

There will be enough tomorrow

(Sara Groves, Enough)

Where’s Jesus?

2 Jun

Every night, I pray with Aurelia. Sometimes it feels special and even sacred. Mostly it feels like routine, and occasionally just meaningless words.

Lately, she’s been talking and communicating and understanding more than I could have imagines for someone who is not even 2 yet.

The past week or so, when we pray she asks a question, and innocent question that stops me in my tracks and pulls me out of the mundane into something more.

“Where’s Jesus?”

“….He’s here, baby. In our hearts.”

“I don’t see him.”

I swallow, choking on some invisible fear, a memory, a doubt.

“He’s here, baby. Whenever we feel love, or happy or full of joy, that’s Jesus. Whenever we see anything good and beautiful.”

I struggle to form the words.

I’ve never had a problem believing God is real.

I don’t remember a moment in my life ever doubting his existence.

I’ve always made my home in ethereal places that don’t count on the tangible and logical to exist.

I don’t have a problem believing what I cannot see.

I don’t even necessarily struggle with the fact that He loves us.

I know he’s a good father.

It’s how good, how joyful, the “bigness” of His grace and love I think I know deep down, yet somehow I don’t apply to every day moments when I need it the most.

“I don’t see him…”

When my prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling, when my feelings seems too loud, to real to make sense of the Truth.

When I just want my way, my timing.

When I let those old voices in.

When I believe fear instead of love.

When it feels too hard for too long.

When I am about to give up on my dreams.

When I am tired from struggling to believe how good.

How big.

I pause.


Last night I had a vivid dream.

I was hiking in a dense, dark jungle with my husband. We were trying to get somewhere important, somewhere where people were expecting us.

Somewhere we were meant to be.

To get to this place, we needed to cross this terrifying chasm on a swaying, frayed rope bridge. My heart in my chest, I followed my husband across. It was so high up I couldn’t see the ground. I panicked, half-way across.

I can’t do it. It’s too hard. It’s not worth it…

I don’t see him. 

Somehow I kept going.

Somehow we made it across.

On the other side was our destination. A beautiful hotel, more majestic than anything I had ever seen. When we walked inside, we found out that someone had anonymously paid for us to stay there. We walked into the beautifully decorated, enormous suite and looked around laughing with pure joy.

It was a gift. We could rest.

I woke up with a jolt.

It’s a risk, stepping out. But there is an enormous blessing waiting on the other side. 

 


I don’t have trouble seeing Him in the small things, in my daughter’s eyes and in the little ways he provides our daily needs.

Sometimes it’s the big-ness I struggle with.

“He’s here baby. Everywhere. He never leaves us.”

She looks at me, innocent and whole, with more wisdom in her little-enourmous heart than I can understand, and says,

“He’s in the stars.”

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Sex & Shame (Jesus was a Bastard)

26 Aug

I am going to talk about sex.  And adultery. And abortion.

(Just another fun Tuesday night.)

I don’t do stuff like that on my blog. I am not really a fan of controversy.

But I feel like I need to add my voice to the madness.

We’ve all read the headlines lately.

So many emotions. So many personal opinions. So many people angry and disgusted. Heart-broken.

So many people divided, further.

I don’t have a lot of answers, but I know a few things that are not answers.

I don’t think we (as followers of Jesus) need to preach sin-avoidance to people.

Quit having sex outside marriage.

Quit screwing up.

Quit being imperfect…being human.

I don’t think we do a very good job giving grace to people.

(That’s what Jesus does.)

People suck at it. But we try, bless our hearts.

With the help of a love that won us over, we can love the unlovable.

(Mainly, us.)

Honestly, I don’t think yelling and protesting and signing petitions and using hashtags is going to change much.

I definitely don’t think sheltering our kids, obsessing over “purity,” and making sure abstinence is the only option, works.

I don’t think putting “good, Christian” marriage on a pedestal really helps either.

Real change is harder. It takes a lot of inconvenience and sacrifice and passion.

It’s easy to get angry. It’s a little more difficult to step back and examine the meaning behind the action.

How did our society get here?

When did we stop taking responsibility for our actions?

When did it become ok to rip apart innocent children?

When did we grow so cynical and hard-hearted?

When did I?

I played the perfect Christian girl for a long time. I tried, and I really wanted to do the right thing. But I was sad and broken and feeling unloved, unworthy and guilty. I lost my virginity when I was 15. When I was 18,  I thought I was pregnant. I wasn’t, but it was a scare.

But I wonder how my life would have turned out if I had been.  If I had a child at 18 instead of 30. Outside of marriage instead of inside. With a dysfunctional boy who was even more broken than I was, instead of with my best friend who I trust more than anyone.

Would I have been rejected by my church community?

Would I have stopped loving Jesus because I thought he could never love me after what I did?

Would I ever have been able to forgive myself?

I think about the shroud of guilt and condemnation that the Christian church has historically covered over people who commit sexual sins.

(As if there is a moral hierarchy.)

The red letters placed on women’s chests throughout generations.

Evil.

Bad.

Dirty.

Whores.

I think of all those fatherless children who grow up with an unnecessary shadow of gloom over them.

I think of all the babies who never get to see the light of day because their mother’s couldn’t bear to bring them into the world.

Maybe these almost-mothers were just selfish and calloused, or maybe they carried that deep shame placed on them by some religious stone-throwers.

You know, to put it bluntly, Jesus was an illegitimate child… a bastard.

Imagine the scandal of an unmarried girl becoming pregnant.

It was God.

Right. Until he heard it straight from an angel, the only thing Joseph thought was that his fiance had slept with another man.

Imagine the pride and fear he had to swallow in order to stay with her.

This isn’t my baby.

The very act of God coming to earth was surrounded by so much scandal.

Then Jesus grew up and dared to look the prostitute in the eye and tell her she was worth something.

So why are those who claim to be followers of Him so obsessed with sexual sin?

I know the shame and the pain it can cause. But I also know the redemption available. The freedom and grace we all can walk in.

What if we created an environment where we stopped preaching everything that is wrong with the world and started focusing on what can be redeemed?

(Everything)

What if we taught our kids that instead of focusing on not having sex, just to focus on Jesus?

What if we stopped worshipping marriage and thinking our spouse is going to be our savior and just accept them for the human they are?

What if we celebrated the beauty of a new life, no matter how they were conceived?

What if we focused on grace and love and stopped arguing about what we think sin is and isn’t?

What if every pregnant, single girl was immediately swept up into a loving community, protected by a family dedicated to being by her side through every emotional and physical pain, a village committed to helping raise her precious child?

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Would destroying her baby even cross her mind?

What if we stopped obsessively pointing at what people do in their bedrooms and started obsessively pointing them to Christ?

What if we embraced the worst of the monsters and found that they are just as human as us?

I am not saying it’s easy. Completely the opposite. I don’t have some political plan to see this on a mass scale.

And I am not saying we shouldn’t be angry.

It’s good to feel righteous anger, even rage.

But don’t let it paralyze you. Don’t let it make you bitter and hopeless.

(Trust me, I am speaking to myself)

Turn your heartbreak into action.

Volunteer. Foster. Adopt. Love. Give. Write. Speak.

Do it from a place of humility, knowing:

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

And tomorrow will be better.

I Believe in Breakfast

11 Jun

when I don’t know what to believe

I believe in breakfast

I believe the day is better

when you eat real food

eggs, bacon

fruit, toast

real butter

coffee, of course 

I believe  beginnings matter

food matters

despite all the changes in my mind

I still know

one dark day

God died

history paused

frozen with the greatest tragedy

all seemed lost

 

then

he came back

all alive, all new

and everything else was new, too

 

but first,

he made breakfast

break

fast

the mourning is over

the darkness is no more

it is a new day

 

every sleep is a little bit of death

every morning is a little bit of resurrection

every breakfast is a reminder

we are alive

whole

forgiven

 

so good morning coffee

good morning life

have some extra syrup with those pancakes

believe good will happen today

I Love Jesus, But Sometimes I am an Atheist

26 Mar

The most terrible acts in the world happen when human beings treat each other as less than human.

A Chinese orphanage where special needs children had their limbs tied to hard kitchen chairs and left alone all day to stare at the walls.

A dirty room on the top of a brothel in India, where girls lay sleeping, fragile and exhausted from another night of abuse.

The cries of a young girl as she was taken down the stairs to a basement, by a man who was supposed to be caring for her while her parents were away.

Many look and say, “How could God let this happen?”

And even more deadly, religion says, “Everything happens for a reason.”

If I had a communion shot glass of wine for every time someone carelessly attached the phrase “God’s Will” to someone terrible, I’d be slurring my words right now.

I used to believe suffering made us better, so God must cause it. It was not for us to understand, only embrace. God wants to “break” us, and He will do whatever it took to get us to rely on him.

I imagine a mother or father using similar phrases as they abuse their children, all in the name of “love.”

This is not love.

I don’t believe in this god anymore.

I can’t.

I don’t believe in a god who would orchestrate horrific pain, destruction, and death.

Light and dark can’t mix.

I don’t believe in a god that picks and chooses whom he loves and whom he disregards.

Love is not true if it has conditions.

I don’t believe in a god who controls your fate, who is nothing more than a cruel puppet master putting on a show.

Love does not force its will or manipulate, but allows freedom of choice.

I don’t believe in a god who is looking for ways that we don’t measure up, who is constantly pushing us to try harder and be better.

Love doesn’t force or condemn or have an agenda to change someone.

People usually have a valid reason for not believing in god.

I don’t blame them.

But my God is pure love, acceptance, grace and beauty.

My God, in his love has given us control over the earth and our lives. Even though He risked us screwing everything up, it was the only way to offer freedom.

My God always gives good gifts, always redeems, always makes things new.

My God is found in the eyes of the abused prostitute, in the compassionate activist who rescues her, in the bread she is given to nourish her frail body.

He is in the laugh of a special needs orphan tied to a chair as the sunlight pours through the cracks in the walls.

He is in the words of the little girl who is restored and redeemed and telling her story.

My God writes the book of our lives with us, bringing adventure, romance, and surprise endings.

godwrites

So, sometimes I am an atheist.
Because I refuse to believe in the god religion has created.

But Jesus—I can’t help but believe in and love him.

The Beauty of Past Tense

8 Nov

Today yellow leaves drift downward and scatter upon the parking lot outside my window.

I read a few sentences of words the God-man said once, words he still says, over and over.

“Take heart, for I have overcome the world.”

Have overcome.”

Not, “Will overcome.”

Never has past tense felt so comforting.

Never have words been so real and so able to spread  across generations and lands, thick like homemade blackberry jam on bread.

And we eat it and are filled. And we know it is not just a cute little saying, but reality for us, now.

When the systems of the world with their strangling owed bills and dooming predictions began to feel like they hijacked your day,

Those words will speak out, through the yellow leaves,

They will ignite and burn and leave you knowing that today is not only bearable, but sacred.

And when the faces of people around you look like statues and you are convinced the future will leave you full of widening cracks and alone,

Those words resounds through a moment of heart-connecting conversation, soft lips, a hand in a hand.

Have overcome,” they say, “We are not waiting for someday, when the weather feels sunny and perfect and we lose all our silly human flaws.”

We, like the trees letting go of their leaves, can lose the idea that our someday will be our redeemer. 

Because we are living in the present reality of the past-tense.

Our redeemer has already redeemed.

A Textbook Can’t Hold You at Night

4 Sep

Sometimes you have to swing to both sides of extreme before coming back to the middle,

Back to the heart, the beating and bleeding, the real life.

Many of my beliefs I held fast on to about God,

About who I am,

Have been too slippery to hold on to.

They weren’t solid enough to grasp, they were squishy, always morphing shape.

 

So I let them go.

It was a difficult loss.

My former self cried heresy.

 

“How do I keep moving forward when all I ever thought was true, feels like a lie?”

 

But these ideas, this theology awkwardly handed to me,

Were nothing but rumors passed down,

Emotional conclusions formed at the whisper of an angry voice,

Leftovers from feeling orphaned and homeless,

Attempts to work your way back to God’s door.

 

I had always been terrified to let go of them,

but these “truths” were keeping me from being set free

they were wrapped up in ugly realizations

that kept me from seeing the real Truth-

Your face.

Your voice.

Your heart.

Who I am.

Because you see, a relationship is a little bit more complicated then a set of theories.

Rules can’t tell you everything is going to be alright.

A textbook can’t hold you at night.

And there is no beauty in memorizing the right answers.

Sometimes you have to throw aside all you know to be true,

and embrace the One who is Truth.

Becoming Human (A Short Story)

21 Jan

Something happens when you come alive and are set free from fear.

You realize existence is messy and you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Control is an illusion, a grasping at the air only to fall over.

This reality: It’s bloody, gritty, reality.
Broken hearts and broken bones are just a way of life.

So you begin to realize you don’t have to expend your energy trying to avoid the mess.

(You breathe a sigh of relief.)
Once upon a time, you had this idea everything would be smooth because you were trying to say and do all the right things.

The universe seemed to align and God was on side because you were be moral enough and separated yourself from the world, to be to “holy” enough to avoid being like the others you judged and pitied.

Any trials or pain that happened you blamed on some outside force of evil, or how God was testing you.

But you were terrified to admit when you did wrong, you couldn’t believe you could possibly still be struggling with wanting to lose yourself in something you’ve been told is so wrong, so you denied your desires instead of understanding why you have them in the first place.

But they didn’t go away. You can only shove down your humanity so much. 

So when all that inevitably blew up in your face, you couldn’t help but feel a little crazy.

You may have tried again and again, thrusting yourself into an endless cycle of failure and guilt, but when you finally realized it’s all a sham, you got angry.

So you fought back a little. You did something rebellious.

They looked at you and thought,

“There’s another one lost to the darkness.”

But what they didn’t realize was this was all part of your journey to grace.

So you broke and screamed and let go and let all the pain in.

You accepted the fact you are poor and dirty and dead.

You decided to live a little dangerously.

To embrace instead of exclude.

To dare to be open and see the truth all around you.

And I say, if it’s one step closer to you coming alive, go for it.

Feel all your emotions.

Question what you always thought to be true.

Allow your heart to be broken.

Because let me tell you friend, if you spend your life trying to guard yourself, trying to behave, trying to fit into some religious mold, you will cheat yourself out of truly experiencing life.

You will cheat the world out of what kind of beauty can explode when a human being is actually genuine.

And what happens when a genuine human being allows the spirit of a perfect and loving God to be life within them.

God doesn’t want a robot. He just wants you.

Real change comes not in us trying harder, but in giving up and letting go and realizing the beautiful and terrible truth,

We are broken and we can’t fix ourselves. 

………………….

Exactly.

That’s the entire point.

That’s what Jesus is for. 

 

 

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