Bumper Stickers and Hypocrites

Mark Twain once said, “If Christ were here, there is one thing he would not be—a Christian.”

I pulled my car up to the drive through at McDonald’s last Sunday before church to grab an Egg McMuffin and the black SUV in front of me caught my eye.  The car was rocking back and forth. 

I peered more closely at the vehicle and noticed a church sticker on the back window saying “You Matter to God.” There were also multiple banners representing the Fire Chief and Fire Department from a nearby county as well as a large decal on the back promoting a home-based business.

As I rolled down my window to order, I heard screams from the car.  Surprisingly, it was a woman shrieking so loudly at her husband the car was vibrating. She was berating him with a mouth worthy of the foulest sailor and pummeling him with her fists.

In my entire life, I have never heard such filth spew out of a human being.

She was going on and on about her husband going through the “f-ing drive through instead of eating her GD f-ing home cooking.” And on and on it went.

Nasty, nasty, nasty…in front of her kids no less. (I’d be afraid to eat her cooking too if I was him)

It was a slap in the face to my gender, embarrassing to the fire department and a devastating blow to their business. I’m certainly not EVER going to use them.

But most of all, it was humiliating as a Christian.

I’m thinking…please take down the God stickers.

Order the Happy Meal.

Back off your husband you evil troll.

 And wishing, with all my heart, that the man beside her would have the balls to tell her to zip it.

But he didn’t. He let the she-devil abuse him and go on and on.

I am left with more questions than answers.

What sort of anger has this woman so bent out of shape? Maybe the husband played a role in her diatribe and his passive behavior was simply guilt? Should I have intervened, at least for the sake of her children? Is she postal or just crazy PMSed?

I sat there in my car dumbfounded as tears rolled down my face. They were tears for the innocent kids, their marriage, and for the vicious cycle of verbal and physical abuse this poor family endures.

I pray they seek help.

And I am convicted all the more to seek my Savior in all things…in the hurt, in the anger, and in the pain of life. I know my own heart and it’s capability for depravity.  On some level, aren’t we are all capable of being monsters?

It makes me think about the moments I argue in public with my husband-loudly. I guess that makes me a hypocrite too.

I certainly don’t ever want people to notice my sticker (or worse point me out as the pastor’s wife) and scratch their heads in confusion.

And then call me a hypocrite, one of “those Christians,” or worse, a Pharisee.

Whoomp There it is

Whoomp! (There It Is)

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I asked my pre-teen son what he was thankful for yesterday. He paused for a moment, and then replied, “My home, sports, my clothes and family.”

“So, do I rank higher than your skinny jeans?” I inquired.

He smirked and mumbled, “Sure, mom.”

I didn’t get the response I wanted, but then again, he didn’t mention his friends and I know they rank pretty high on the list. Secretly, I wanted him to proclaim his heart for Christ and yet was instead confronted with his passion for fashion. Awesome.

                                           ***

A few weeks ago, my son performed as a rapper for the school talent show.  His rendition of Whoomp There it is was truly engaging.  My fair-haired white boy took the lead solo in a tribute to The Tag Team and owned it with confidence and panache. But it was another child at the performance that ended up stealing my heart.

Sydney, a little seventh grade girl, climbed up on the stage and boldly proclaimed her faith with a simple guitar and a courageous voice.  She self wrote and performed Glow Within Me, a song about her dependence on Christ and the impact His sacrifice on the Cross made in her life.

Tears streamed down my face as I watched this little evangelist rock the stage.  She received the biggest applause of the evening and I have to believe her impact went far beyond the night. 

Personally, it brought up emotions in my own heart that I am still processing. 

Truth be told, I wish I was more like her.  I envied her boldness and strength to stand in the face of adversity.  And lest you think middle school is not a jungle, think again.  It’s a scary place for an adolescent in a cesspool of insecurity, puberty and social drama.  Reputations are won and lost in the battle of Middle School.

Secretly, I also wanted my son to be the one in front of the crowd proclaiming his faith.  I mean he is the pastors’ kid after all! Couldn’t some of my husband’s charismatic for Christ sparkle have transcended to our boy?  Just a tad more Jesus and a little less Usher?

                                            ***

Last night, my son and I took a walk along the canyon by our home.  He threw rocks deep into the crevice and I watched him scamper around and laughed at his goofy antics. It was a sweet picture of a boy on the verge of manhood and a mother yearning to direct and guide her son’s heart.

And as we walked, we talked about humility and who we are in light of God…that we are nothing more and nothing less than what He created us to be. Kyle brought up sacrifice and obedience, and his struggle to do the right thing even when it’s hard.  He shared how working with the kindergarten class in Sunday school was a pain in the butt, but he knew how important it was to the church at large and made a conscious effort to suck up his reservations.

The more Kyle talked, the more I was reminded of my son’s character and Godliness.  My desire for him to be something else…more bold, more this, and more that, fell away in the recognition of who he truly is in light of God.  My lesson to him on humility was really a lesson to me.

And so today, I am grateful for my son Kyle (the athlete), who loves his family, his home and has a wicked sense of style, turquoise skinny jeans and all.   No more and no less.

Searching for “Triple X”

I have this nifty little tool that tracks the words people type into Google, or any search engine for that matter, to find my blog or certain topical areas that I have written on.  The only problem is that “said” nifty tool just happens to also expose the desperately evil “topics” that random people search for.  Let’s just say that there are some sick puppies out there.

I wrote an article, not too long ago, suggesting the Keep a Breast Foundation devalues women battling breast cancer with their I Love Boobies Campaign which targets Jr. High boys.  And because Google bots crawl around and pick up certain trigger words, here are just a few of the  keywords and phrases that people type in, and thus end up in my search box on a daily basis.

Past searches include:   “boobies”, “I heart big boobies”, “saucy boobies” “pile of boobs, ““Jr. High girl’s boobies”, and my personal favorite…”grandma and child hot sex.”

Really? Do people really type in this filthy tripe?

I know, I know… wake-up check,  “oh sheltered wife of a pastor.”

But, sometimes I forget, maybe on purpose,  how depraved people really are.  I put blinders on and plug my ears from the noise.  I live in a Christian bubble of nice people and vanilla pleasantries. Everyone is pretty and well dressed, smiling and socially aware of maintaining the “good” facade. Certainly, everyone minds their manners around the pastor and his wife.

And so, I am surprised and shocked when sins are so blatant and in my face, even though I am painfully aware of my own hidden darkness.

My baby illustrates how good we are at the game of image management.  She is always watching and always copying mama and daddy.  Her second sentence was, “How are you?”

If you ask baby the same question she will respond, “Oh, fine.”

She mimics what I do everyday.  The subtle pretend that we all do.  If I were honest, my baby would answer,”Oh, a tad bitchy, exhausted, overwhelmed, and pissed off at that idiot who just cut me off.”

I point my finger at the sick puppies, even though, I am constantly aware of my own nasty sin-nature and inequity apart from Christ.  It’s just so easy to call “that” guy a pervert and justify my own wicked heart.

So when “Mr. Obscene,”  who types in “Grandma and child hot sex” ends up reading my blog.  He searches for the darkest of porn and finds my simple little blog instead, the one that talks about faith, Jesus, and our desperate humanness embroiled in sin. But hopefully, he also finds someone who understands loneliness and the void in life when hope is dim.

Now, that is food for thought.  And maybe, just maybe, God uses this nifty little keyword tool to lead people into His light when they get lost along the way.

So, here is my message to those who read this post “accidentally.”

I’m glad you showed up. 

Sinners and perverts are welcome.

The real housewife vs the “Real Housewife”

Pink nail polish.

Image via Wikipedia

For the third time this year, I got a pedicure.  I divulge this not so you will think I have sad and neglected toes, but as a pastor’s wife, I always feel like I have to justify frivolous spending. So, there I am, sitting in my bucket seat with my feet soaking, reveling in the sheer sacredness of sitting still, when in struts a “glamazon” otherwise known as “A Real Housewife from Orange County,”  a reality show on Bravo that claims to follow real women in the OC.  Now there are many words I would use to describe this woman, but “real,” wasn’t one of them.

I tried not to stare, but I honestly couldn’t help myself.  The woman, quite simply, commanded the room.  She was striking, toned, tanned, enhanced (and I do mean enhanced), luxuriously clothed, styled, over made-up and had a slight air of arrogance. I imagine she is used to be ogled and gawked at, so it’s not surprising that she would be a tad defensive in her demeanor (and yes, that was me again trying to justify that I just called someone arrogant…bad pastor’s wife, bad!).

I confess, as I sat there in my sweaty workout clothes and ratty pony-tail with baby snot stains on my arm, I felt a tad underdressed for the occasion of nail grooming.  The “Real” beauty, on the other hand was camera ready, ensconced in a black silk jumpsuit, roped in at the waist with a big chunky belt, delicately flowing down to skim the top of her sky-high heels that she peeled off and placed in the soaking water.

Her earrings were the size of my fist and I was mesmerized, like a deer in the headlights at the surreal glamour of her very presence.  Her make-up alone, looked like it took hours to apply and it wasn’t even noon yet.  It was TV “reality” juxtaposed into my reality, strangely an oxymoron, because in all reality, people always act differently, good or bad, when the camera is rolling.

Strange emotions erupted in my belly as I sat in my chair feeling very small.  As a former model, my pride and competitive spirit kicked into high gear.  Apparently, the Holy Spirit was quenched for a few minutes as my devious sin nature took over.  The demon sitting on my shoulder whispered, “Now, if you only had those clothes, a makeup artist, a mystic tan and that purse, you could give that chick a run for her money.  You could make people stare.”

Surprise, surprise…vain people really do think like this, though I might testify on the stand that I was under the influence of nail polish remover.  But the truth is, that even after seventeen years of following Christ, with all the spiritual leaps and set-backs of a long and arduous journey, I still struggle with image management, even though I know the truth that sets me free. 

I know that what looks like success to the world-beauty, power, wealth, and status… is death to the soul.  Before I accepted Christ in my early twenties, it almost destroyed me, as I struggled with an eating disorder and a compulsive addiction to control my appearance.

Recently, I stole my husband’s copy of Why Guys Need God, by Mike Erre. And though I’ve always known that our society has done a disservice to our young women by portraying these images of perfection, I never really understood “the why”, beyond the inherent sinful nature of man. But Erre shed light on this perversion of beauty by tying our culture’s destructive behavior back to Genesis 1 and the curse on humanity.

 Erre describes this consumptive and objective mentality towards women as an assault on the very heart of femininity. As cursed men run from human weakness and overcompensate by trying to control things (women included), it has distorted the relationships between men and women.  If a woman is objectified, and her worth and honor stripped, then a man has control over her and subsequently, a world of detached men and women hungry for connection is born.  Generations of women, starved for attention by the distant men in their lives have created a culture of constant striving to somehow obtain the elusive power to heal the gap of loneliness, not recognizing that the striving only leads to an endless cycle of more detachment.

 Erre suggests that because “real” women can never measure up to images of the world, they either give up or continually compete for the illusive ideal,  starving and distorting their bodies (through surgery or other “treatments”) to create an image subject to the whims of  fashion and man’s desire.  

As a young woman, I fell into the striving category.  Now, I guess you could call me a recovering “striver.”

And so as I sat in the salon, and stewed in thoughts of negativity, the Spirit inside me burst forth, and I turned a proverbial spiritual corner.  Closing my eyes, I took a long breath and prayed for Jesus to comfort me.  I clung to His truth that illuminates the insidious evil of seduction and the temptation to compare and envy, forcing myself to remember that my appearance does not define my worth and that I am beautiful in the light of Christ’s sacrifice, never subject to the world’s obsession with youth and flawless perfection.   

I relaxed into my seat and smiled at the girl tending to my toes. Fortunately, she had no idea of the spiritual battle I had just waged in my head, and then I turned and smiled at the not so “real” woman next to me.  Empathy and understanding crashed over my heart like thundering waves as I realized that my battle was her battle, and that the great deceiver was whispering in her ear too.

In the Shadow

Panoramic Night Vision Goggles in testing.

Image via Wikipedia

There is a simple truth about our culture that can only be found in the midst of suffering.  When great things happen, we rejoice, when good things happen we celebrate, from our normal mundane living, well, we escape, and when bad things happen, we generally do our best to avoid the pain

And this rampant avoidance applies not only to ourselves, but those around us as well. It’s only when you are smack dab in the middle of pain do you see, really see, as if you had special goggles,  how uncomfortable everyone else is with it. 

Ever notice how people are afraid of catching pain? It’s as if divorce, depression or death were viral.   So instead of leaning in and being present in the messy, we stuff it, hide it, and put on the Christian happy face.  We all too quickly forget that joy in Christ doesn’t mandate a perpetual façade of gooey sweetness.

We avoid the old folk’s home, complain about the smell, hide from the abandoned wife at church, and quarantine ourselves away from illness, regardless if it is contagious.  We sanitize empathy down to a Get Well card or some flowers and remain aloof from intimate relationship in the darkest moments. Genuine and heartfelt mourning seems to be so passé, as if they were thrown away with the old traditions of widows wearing black and communal lamenting

My husband has a dear friend who is extremely ill, and the other day, they had a long visit in the hospital.  By my husband’s own admission, it was a visit that was long overdue.  My husband didn’t want to admit or acknowledge that his friend wasn’t doing well, because it was easier to live in the land of hope, where everything remained in the status quo. Fortunately, another friend intervened, and he was forced to confront both his own avoidance and the reality of the situation.

Somehow my husband missed out on the blog that his friend started. It’s an online journal, that keeps his friends and family updated on his condition, and though it chronicles his physical journey with cancer, it also gives voice to his spiritual battle with this unseen and vicious enemy attacking his blood.

After recalling his emotional day, my husband mentioned that his friend noticed an unusual occurrence with his blog. When he updates positive news on his status, the comments and prayers come in abundance, but when the news is dire, which has been more the case recently, very few if any comments show up in the guest book. 

Why is it that our praises seem to dry up when circumstances go down the drain?  And when there are no words left, we conveniently disappear, because suffering interferes with our busy agendas. Mourning, compassion, empathy… the sheer ability to be present in the Valley of the Shadow of Death with anyone, even sometimes those closest to us, seems desperately lacking in our society. 

When I look at Middle Eastern culture, I envy their ability to emote, to wail like banshees and cry and grieve with passion.  It seems so much more acceptable to feel emotions.  The tough guy American demeanor never drops a tear.  It’s probably why I always apologize when I cry, as if tears were an affront to good manners.

Is it our fear of the dark, of death and the unknown that causes us to push away and to hide?   Could any temporary relief of an awkward moment or an uncomfortable confrontation ever be worth the loneliness and abandonment of those dear to us?

Yesterday my husband wept, prayed and laughed with his dear friend.  The cancer was only a reason for their relationship to grow deeper.  They mourned and looked to Christ, unsure of His plan, with unanswered questions and heavy hearts, but resolute in their double fisted faith of a Holy and mysterious God. 

They were precious moments, stolen and sweet, because time has become like gold as the shadow deepens.  These were moments of friendship, based on eternal brotherhood and bonds forged on Christ’s sacrifice.

And so my husband’s friend has hit on a profound truth, we are a culture of avoiders when it comes to pain.  And as the lines between heaven and earth blur for him, clarity comes like waves as he assesses his life.

The Psalmist proclaims that “though weeping may last for a night, joy comes with the dawn.” (Psalm 30:5)

True joy, it seems, can only be discerned on the other side of the deepest pain. For how would we recognize the light if we had avoided the dark?

Rom. 12:5 (NIV) Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn

Not so Nice Comments

Arkhangelsk (Arkhangelsk oblast), coat of arms...

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I got my first negative comment today on my Everyday Christian blog.  Actually I got three of them.  I’m pretty sure one of them was from Satan.

 The really scary part is they called me “Sammy.”  I am blown away by how the commenter knows me so well.  It was such an intimate association, and so assumptive to call me by such a fun nick-name.  I’m flattered.

Of course, no one actually calls me that.  And maybe that’s best, because if they knew my real nick name that would be border-line stalker… and that’s really scary.

I knew this would happen.  I figured eventually I would write something controversial enough to stir the pot and piss off someone.  Fortunately, it was about my belief in God. 

Is it a sin to be proud that you got persecuted for Jesus?  Because, I might have a little banner made that says, “I took one for the team,”

So, here’s a little excerpt from my new demonic friend

“Too bad you were not strong enough to shirk the shackles of fables and myth. In fact, it looks as if you have fully submerged yourself in your chosen fairy tale.

Life is worth living in and of itself, my dear Sammy. No need to give credit to imaginary friends.

There is no hell. There is no god(s). Death is exactly like things were before being born. You simply no longer exist. Why does this scare you so?”

 

I replied

It doesn’t scare me.  I know where I am going and more than likely will be so overwhelmed by the glory of God that I won’t even remember this temporary pain.  I have a hope and a promise of eternal life.  It just makes me sad for those that take a different path.

Many Blessings to you and thanks for the comment.
Sam

I am afraid I have started a battle.  The comments continue to come in. 

Game on!

Turkey with Tears

A Turkey.

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My uncle died this Thanksgiving.  12:04am to be exact.  It’s disheartening when holidays coincide with less than fond memories. Now every year henceforth, turkey will make me sad.

My father called and left a message early in the morning  to inform me that he “passed on.”  I hate that terminology.  It feels like a vacuous attempt to put a pretty spin on death, as if it were a bad cold or an inconvenience.  I would rather sink my teeth into the fatality of the moment.  Dead is just dead…nothing light or fluffy about it.

Sometimes death is accompanied by sweet relief, if pain or suffering is involved.  But not this time.  It was sudden.  A post surgical infection turned into a fiasco and suddenly poof, death is knocking at the door. Maybe it would be easier if my uncle was close to the Lord, or if I felt confidant in his eternal salvation.  But that’s just the thing…I don’t, and it’s eating me up inside.

My uncle was an avowed atheist, determined to live a life apart from God.  If he passed on, as my dad suggested, then I can’t fathom where he went, nor do I really want to consider the implications. The big “H” word seems so extreme.  And ultimately, so final.

My husband reminded me that God is not limited by our boundaries, that even in a comatose state, my uncle  might choose, like the criminal on the cross next to Christ, to turn in a different direction.

This whole idea of someone deliberately choosing an eternal life apart from God has my insides in a tangled turmoil. Free choice notwithstanding, I wish things were different.   I can understand when people run from God, keep a distance and live far from him.  In this paradigm, there is an acknowledgement of God’s presence coexisting with a willful defiance.  But the atheist denies God altogether.  It is a much bigger animal than the proverbial prodigal child running from his father.

My uncle was a brilliant man.  A professor of anthropology at an esteemed college, an author, a thinker and a contributor to the world of academia.  Our conversations were thrilling, and even as a child, I remember probing his mind and uncovering a virtual cornucopia of modern discourse.  During my formative years and later as a college student, he challenged me to dive into the greats–Foucault, Niche, Heidegger…to push my brain to maximus exhaustiveness.  To ponder, to ruminate, to brood over thoughts and relentlessly search for truth. 

But my post-modern studies led me down a different path than the road he traveled.  In the absence of absolute truth, in an exhaustive vacuum of subjectivity, my heart longed for something more meaningful than a personal experience to hold onto.  As my studies led me further and further away from God, my heart was conversely drawn to Him.

Something in my spirit cried out for more and strangely enough it was my own personal experience with Christ that filled the void.  Ironically, “witnessing in a post-modern world” has become material for seminary training, when in all reality, Christ’s light only shines brighter in the hopelessness that shrouds this train of thought.

I loved my uncle.  I will miss him at Thanksgiving.  I will miss his liberal extremism.  His loud laugh. His passion for life.  His crazy stories about aliens.  And on some level, I can thank him for leading me to Christ in a weird roundabout way.

My eyes leak when I think about him.

The sting of death is this…watching someone you love die apart from Christ.

The Dysfunctional Family

My baby said the word “uncle” today. That’s pretty good for a ten-month old tyke, if I do say so myself.  But, ironically, she didn’t say it to my brother, and my husband only has one sister.  The momentous words were directed specifically towards my ex-husband, now known as  “Uncle Bert.”  Welcome to our dysfunctional family.

If “sin” is missing the mark, than “divorce” is a rupture of the spirit.  No one gets married anticipating an excruciating dedomiciling, but life happens, choices are made, and sometimes the best couples separate.  Our sin nature permeates what God intended to be a beautiful symbol of the relationship between Christ and the Church.  The only problem with this lovely metaphor is that people, in all their flaws and selfishness, are part of the equation.

And so we screw up that which was meant to be Holy. Families are ripped apart.  Children blow out and bitterness sets in.  The lovely bride of Christ is alone, scared and forced to forge ahead into a wilderness of singled exile.

But after the drama recedes, the settlements are fought over, and the custody battle reasonably determined…the fragments of a family must be reassembled.  Two roads can be taken-either the road to more disparateness or the less traveled road to what I like to call “functional dysfunction.”

Right before I remarried, my then fiance and I were urged to attend blended family counseling.  So, off we trotted to hear words that didn’t settle so well in our self-righteous little paradigm.  Because I was the abandoned spouse, my demeanor towards my ex was patronizing at best.  I had anger buried deep in my heart and my hostility was only fueled with every poor decision my ex-husband made.

But the counsel we received forced us to reconsider, reflect and move in a counter-cultural direction.  We were told that our relationship with my ex-husband would determine our relationship with the children.  Our love for their father would be an indirect method of communicating love to them. And that every natural tendency to push him away would only end up shooting us and our children in the foot.

Thus followed a year of moving towards the very thing I wanted to run from.  I stopped arguing, stopped sniping, and moved at my ex-husband with brotherly love.  When he lost his car, my husband and I made a committment to help drive him to our kid’s games and practices so he could continue coaching our son in football.  Leaving work early three days a week to pick up my ex-husband did not come naturally.  Every trip was laced with prayer and surrender, but God was moving and my heart slowly softened.  As my husband drove him home some night’s after practice, their relationship grew stronger as well.

Later that year, my ex-husband remarried and his wife invited us for a shared Father’s Day celebration.  It was a sweet acknowledgement that the war had ceased and two broken pieces were fusing into one reconstructed family, albeit …  larger and messier than before.

Now, almost three years later, we have established what I like to call a good working relationship in the parenting realm.  We think of my ex-husband as our brother, and care for him like he is a part of the family.  Accepting the good and bad as we would any sibling ,and loving the way Christ loves us, without restrictions for our frailties.

I can honestly say my heart has changed, slowly and unwillingly at times, but the process has allowed me to walk free of the burden that so heavily weighed me down for years.  And so our new baby, the child of my second marriage, has a new “Uncle” and a big confusing family that someday we will have to explain.

“Sweetheart, your sister’s daddy is your uncle.” Yeah, I can’t wait for that conversation.

But, in God’s economy it seems to make perfect sense!

The Face of Jihad

Children in Khorixas, Namibia

Image via Wikipedia

About ten years ago at a Christian rock concert, I was introduced to the humanitarian group called “World Vision” and felt compelled to be a part of their mission.  World Vision is dedicated to working with children, families and communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.  Basically, my involvement would be in the sponsorship of a child in need through monthly giving.  My children were very small at the time, but I envisioned picking a child that they could connect with and learn about giving and social awareness.  The little boy I chose had the same name as our family and “Adam” became a subtle reminder to us, all over the years, that in the smallest of ways we were all a part of the same global community of faith.  We received pictures from him and letters updating us on his growth and education.  We laughed when he sent us a picture of his new goat and my little ones drew him pictures of our family.  Ultimately, Adam became a goat herder and grew up and out of the program. But Adam had touched our lives in more ways than he would ever know. 

When I suddenly became a single mother, and struggled financially to provide for my children, I was challenged to believe that God would provide for not only us but Adam as well.  Sometimes I would look at my stack of bills and then at his picture and laugh.  He never knew how many times I almost gave up on him in my own desperation. I learned much about sacrificial giving through a little boy from Ethiopia and my children learned about staying the course and having a double fisted faith in God’s promise to take care our basic needs. 

Recently, World Vision sent us a picture and bio of a new child to replace Adam.  Ironically, once again we are being challenged by our World Vision child. My son, now twelve, and my daughter, now nine, were excited to open up the package and see who God had chosen for us.  My husband was now also part of our little group and as we tore into the envelope and read his name we were shocked to learn that he was called “Jihad.” 

Our first reaction was one of confusion.  World Vision is supposed to be a Christian organization and clearly this was a Muslim child as indicated by his papers.  This raised many questions in our home about what it meant to be the hands and feet of Christ, even in the face of our enemies.  This child may never know he has been named after one “striving in the way of Allah,” but his needs for food and clothing are probably all too real.  Tim and I considered asking for a different child, but finally decided to continue supporting him despite our conflicting feelings. 

While I don’t know if I am supporting a child that may someday fight against my own children or all that I believe in, I do want to be open to what God is doing in my life.  Jihad’s picture is penned up on my desk at work beside my children and husband.  He is slowly growing on me, though I do feel more of a sense of obedience than any natural affection. Once a month as I write out his check, I look at him and laugh and can only wonder what the Lord is doing in my heart through this boy.

Hurling Darts into Jello…

Strawberry/Raspberry Jell-O Ring

Image by pirate johnny via Flickr

As a writer, I often wonder if my words connect with my audience.  Am I making a point, eliciting an emotion or provoking a response, that changes one’s paradigm, even momentarily?

As a follower of Christ, this question becomes even more pronounced… because in the art of losing myself to glorify Christ, I write to tell His stories, but then secretly wonder if anyone listens???

Often when I write I feel as if I am inspired by the Spirit.  Words flow like water.  My fingers tingle, I am in my element because I am operating within the giftedness I was created for.  Other times, I am at an impasse, relying on my own cleverness, or lack thereof, trying to find words when there are none.

Some might call it a writer’s block and try to push through it. I tend to file these articles away for another day when my eye is fresh.

Ralph Waldo Emerson put it this way,  “The torpid artist seeks inspiration at any cost, by virtue or by vice, by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine.”

While wine sounds attractive, prayer must be my muse, or I am tempted to think of my art, writing in this case, as a gift in and of itself, versus an offering to the Giver of all good gifts.

If humility is recognizing who we are in light of God, neither overestimating or undermining our worth, then writing with humility allows us to release our work and give credit where credit is due.  We can let go of the insecurity of penning a masterpiece that may or may not be universally well received.

If our pen has been moved by the Spirit of God, and we write for an audience of one, have we not in all reality hit the mark?

But if we are merely trying to stroke our ego or gain a following to prove our prowess with the pen, then our words are vain folly.

In all honesty, much of my writing attempts are like hurling darts into Jello.  I aim, I throw, and then comes the distinctive sound of jello– blu..blu…blump.

Maybe no one cares or takes interest in something I thought was riveting.  Other times, I aim and hit dead center.  I am praised and feel loveable for my contribution.

Once again, the achievement ladder has stealthy crept into my sincere desire to create.

I…we… must constantly surrender to the Spirit–allowing God to take both the triumphs and the catastrophes, freeing me up to simply use the gifts and talents he has given me for His glory, and hopefully, someone else’s benefit.

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