Dear Mak & Livy,
I can’t sleep tonight. I just sat there, eyes wide open talking to God. I’m writing you because this is long overdue and after today, I can wait no longer.
Today the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion. I disagree with both of those decisions (and many more) but not because I think I know better. I disagree because God disagrees. However, stop, please. Don’t continue thinking I’m going to cite verse after verse defending my statement that God disagrees. This will not be a biblical defense of the evangelical Christianity. My heart and reason for writing this is far more important than truths the Lord already made clear in the Bible.
I want you to understand something crucial. Something that changes everything when we think through and discuss hard issues.
First I want you to know that I don’t like everything that God says. It’s true. I happen to love the idea of two consenting people coming together in marriage and celebrating love. However, I always have to defer and surrender to what God says. Why? Because He is God; He is holy; He knows what is good and right and I can’t see nor understand everything that He does.
I also want you to know is this: if we come from a different starting point with people, we will never come to agreement. Let me explain.
I have a weight problem. My weight problem is the consequence of me turning to food, idolizing it and trying to get it to comfort me. Instead of turning to good and healthy things, I turn to food often times. Because I surrendered my life to Jesus and committed my life to following Him, I recognize my behavior as sin. Gluttony. Idol worship. It’s all choosing something above God and God says that is wrong. I ask forgiveness every single day I commit this sin and I’m forgiven because God says that if we turn to Him, acknowledge and repent of our sin He will be faithful to forgive.
Let’s say Jane and Karen fall in love. After today’s ruling, they decide to marry. Let’s also say that Jane and Karen are dear friends of yours. And they come to you and ask to talk because they are good, kind friends of yours and they want to openly discuss something about which you disagree – same sex relationships. If Karen and Jane don’t know Jesus and you tell them that the Lord has made it clear that it is not acceptable, I don’t think it is possible to come to agreement. It’s certainly possible and desirable to continue a sweet friendship with them but without deference to God and His law from both sides, it’s really not possible to see eye to eye. Why? Because you began from different starting points. The difference between my behavior with food is that I repent of it, recognize it is wrong according to God (even though it feels so good to eat ice cream in abundance) and agree with Him that I must fight to change while Karen and Jane do not agree with God, do not recognize their desires as sinful and make no attempt to turn toward Him in obedience. I do have to add a bit of a caveat here – I don’t proclaim that my sin with food is as complex as Jane & Karen’s sin. I just chose to discuss my sin by way of example. It may be very well true that the lusts Karen & Jane have create larger life implications than mine and I want to recognize that. I do not intend to diminish their struggle by comparing our sins and lusts.
Finally and most importantly, please remember and never forget that Jesus’ offer of salvation is more important than any of these social issues. Because we all tell God by our actions that we want to be the authors of what is right and wrong and because we effectively tell Him that we want to make up the rules, we needed someone to come and make things right again. Jesus came and said, I will be the sacrifice for you. I will live a perfect life and stand in your stead before the Father because the Father cannot and will not look upon sin without ordering the just consequence, which according to His Word is death. It is the great news for all of us. We need Jesus in order to live. Everyone does. So, let’s always agree with God but let’s also bring Good News to the world as our primary goal because when people hear the Good News and choose Jesus, well then we are at the same starting point and we can more easily discuss important issues.
It’s always about Jesus first. satan will try to convince us to argue the issues because he knows that we will never come to agreement with our friends who don’t know Jesus because our base is not the same. Our foundation differs. And that’s just how satan likes it. What satan doesn’t like is Jesus. Why? Because Jesus always wins no matter how bleak things may appear. He’s already victorious.
I love you.
PS, can I be completely honest? I’ve never been so afraid to publish my words before because I know how poorly this may go. But then again, I have to stand firm in God’s truth. And it’s my job to be your mama and point you in the right direction. Forever and always, I promise to do that – no matter how scary.
Dear Mak & Livy,
Last year I attended an awards ceremony at Makenna’s school. She received a nice academic award. Afterwards, she saw me and said “why are you here?”
“You received a nice award, Mak, I wouldn’t miss it,” I replied.
“Mama, you saw all of the other kids who received the same award – this is really no big deal,” she quipped back.
The award was for kids who earned above 4.0 for the school year. That’s a good achievement, right? That’s something to celebrate, I thought. However, her comment has plagued me. It bothered me because I could not put my finger on the wrong thinking that prompted her to make it.
Today, Makenna and one of her friends received an all Wisconsin state academic honor. When I came home and congratulated her this was her response:
“Oh, mama, I feel like if I receive the award it must not be that big of a deal.”
Yes, people! Yes, that is what she said to me.
So while I did dishes this evening, I started processing this the only way I know how – biblically. I’m not done figuring this all out – I’m in the middle of processing it, however, this is where I’ve landed midstream:
- It is right and good to be humble. It is right and good to acknowledge all gifts, talents and abilities come for God. It is NOT right and good to dismiss them.
- It’s critical to dig into and ponder why you are where you are. We know God has given you the abilities He has. We know God has given you two parents who support you and pour their lives out for you. However, it’s crucial to remember that not all children have the same God given abilities and they don’t have the luxury of having been read to every night of their lives. They don’t have the luxury of middle class living. They don’t have the luxury of so many of the things we take for granted. Should we not acknowledge that it is your obligation to take what you’ve been given and use it for good? And not only that, should we not be compelled to say to ourselves “wow, I’m being recognized for an accomplishment that took hard work and dedication and people see me”? The point here is not that you’re being recognized; the point is that you are in a system of schooling and support where people see you and want you to know that you are seen. Do you know how many people in this world live outside of any kind of system where they feel seen and noticed?
- While we may live in an environment where many children do have the support, gifts and opportunities we do, it is a travesty to forget that we have been given what we have for a UNIQUE purpose. There may be others getting the same awards. There are always going to be people who are more talented and gifted, however, the Lord has made us each uniquely and crazily different for a reason. Let’s remember that when we see a sea of faces receiving the same award. Let’s remember that it’s our job to figure out why we are in a unique position and exactly what we are to do with the accolade. Maybe we should accept it humbly and allow it to fuel us for the good of others.
I don’t want bragging. That’s not what I’m after. What I’m after to some introspection as to *why* God has given the UNIQUE you these opportunities and *how* you can use them to put others before yourself and impact the world for good – not because you’ve been honored but because you recognize there is a reason for it.
Will you continue to think about this with me? Will you help me understand?
Tonight you and I went to the movies alone. We went to see Aloha. And on the way home we talked and talked. And then you looked at me and you said “golly, mama, I love being with you. We will have to do this more and more after Makenna goes to college.”
And then you told me that you had a wonderful idea. ”Mama, do you want to know what I just thought of?”
Of course, I do. I want you to tell me everything in your head. It’s ok – don’t stop talking.
“Well I still want to play professional softball when I grow up. But I was thinking. What if I became a National Geographic photographer and travelled the world? And then I came home on holidays. And played softball just in the summer?”
Yes, Liv. Yes. Do it all. ”Don’t stop dreaming.” I say it all the time. Don’t stop dreaming up ways to live in this world. Don’t.ever.stop.
“Hey, Liv, it’s like you want 30 different lives. That’s exactly what GrandMary always says to me – that I want a million different lives.”
It’s true. And then I told you that I just want to drink it all in. And then we agreed that we are so much alike.
And when we got home, I sent you to wash up for bedtime and I sat down to write this out. So I don’t forgot. Oh Father, I don’t want to forget any of it. I don’t want to forget the conversations, the dreams, the giggles…. the love. Thank you for all of the Love.
I love you, my dreamer.
Love, mama xoxox
“We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic” (Nu 11:5)
Today there is a breeze and the leaves move with it, against it
The black dog lays on her side breathing slowly, almost uttering pleasantries with her sighs
There is condensation on the glass jar full of ice water, beautifully yellow lemon floating in it
My skin turns golden, sun shining bright and long in these June days
A lovely note from someone special washes love over me
The soil is rich and sprouts will come up soon, revealing a bounty of food from the earth; from My Father
There is no lack
And yet, my refrain is often this is just not good enough. There is not enough. I want more. I need more. Give me more.
Dear believer, do you often ponder as I do the things which are not here? Do you long for something more, something different?
I long to stop my mind from wandering in that direction. I long to remember all that He’s done. All that He is. All that He’s given so freely.
This ugly ritual of emptying my mind of the goodness of God; the remembrance of and pondering on the pure and lovely and good to make room for the emptiness of longing must be squashed. I am full with the moment I had with Olivia last night in the hallway, tears flowing and life giving hugs; I am full and satisfied with His Words to me, the ones Olivia read aloud to me last night and the joy she had in the thought that the Lord is a strong tower. She was delighted by the notion. What more shall I want?
Light is so beautiful in so many ways.
He is the Light of the world. My Savior. My Redeemer. Light is good and in it there is no evil. Evil turns from the Light – it cannot stand to look upon it.
Sunlight. We found beautiful sunlight this past weekend. Finding the right light to a person who likes to take photographs is like magic. It changes everything about the photograph.
Lovely light. These girls are that kind of light to me. Connected to my heart and brightening my days in ways I cannot express. They shine light into the darkest corners of my life.
My heart has been so happy that you are on an adventure with the Lord that you’ve wanted to take for a very long time! Because I’m so happy for you, I’ve had to ask myself during the week this question: “why do I feel sad? Why the downtrodden spirit?” I’ve prayed for you and your team and I’ve worshipped and rejoiced that you are in Haiti. But this nagging sullen spirit is plaguing me. It occurred to me this morning that the problem is not that you are away. The problem is that I haven’t had a chance to communicate directly with you. Daily you and I share thoughts and dreams and hurts and disappointments. I cherish knowing what the Lord is teaching you day by day and when you share Scripture that has jumped out at you and how that is changing who you are. I rely on knowing how you are hurting so that I can be in prayer for you and so that I can encourage you. Knowing the lies satan has planted in your head is good for me so that I can help fill you with truth and encourage you. These are the reasons for my melancholy spirit! It isn’t that you are away – for that is certainly wonderful – you are following Jesus’ call to be sure. It’s the maternal ache that I have to pour into you directly – that is what it is! And that, dear, is a happy revelation because it means that I do have my hands open and I am willing to release you to the world waiting. It means that I just treasure that I have the honor of having our hearts knit to one another and that I value my maternal responsibilities to the highest.
All my love.
Everyone is always up for a funny story, right?
Well here goes.
We live in a very middle class subdivision in Wisconsin. It’s quite quiet and we’ve lived here for a long time.
In our little subdivision, there dwells a board. The board rules over the subdivision under the guise of maintaining property values. I appreciate most of the work they do and the time they put into their work because quite frankly, I don’t have time to be that involved.
Don’t worry, this is going to get funny. I just have to lay the groundwork here.
Our family owns a boat. It’s truly been such a blessing to us and a way to get away on the water together – a way to leave everything behind. Now, the rulers of our neighborhood have written into the covenants that no boats may be parked in the drive during certain hours. There is quite a list of things they dictate, however, for this comedy we are only concerned with this one.
We’ve been so busy this year that we just had the opportunity to get our boat out of storage this past Friday. My dear husband picked it up and parked it in the driveway in anticipation of making room in the garage. Today – Tuesday – we received the annual notice in the mail that if we don’t get the boat out of the driveway within 24 hours, the rulers will take further action. Within three days we received the notice. Isn’t that fabulous?
Several years ago we went to one of the board members – his name is Grant – and very politely asked if we could get a petition executed by our neighbors to amend the covenants in order to allow the boat in the driveway during the summer. Of course in good working condition – yada yada yada. After all amendments to the covenants had previously been made to accommodate hot tubs, so we thought for certain our request was reasonable, especially if our neighbors agreed! Sir Grant told us not to bother because the board would never permit it regardless of how many signed agreeing to the modification. Well, ok, then Sir Grant. You’ve got us. You powerful person, you!
If only we knew who was bothered that in a middle class subdivision, in Wisconsin, near many lakes, in the SUMMERTIME a boat would be parked in the driveway. I would gladly have a nice cup of coffee with such a person and explain that this is NOT an uppity neighborhood on the North Side of Chicago. This is not Highland Park. This is not Lake Forest. People! This is Bristol, Wisconsin. In the summertime.
Isn’t it amusing? We can only laugh. And park our boat in our garage.
Well, and draft a nice article about the rulers and rules in this little neighborhood, send it to all of the real estate agents in this area and the local newspaper so that potential buyers are duly warned. That’s only fair. If only someone had warned us.
Now I wouldn’t let you go without seeing a photograph of this incredible eyesore:
Dear Mak & Liv,
These days your sporting events are often scheduled for Sundays, which as you know causes a problem. Sunday is for the Lord.
It all began with you, Mak, and club volleyball and continues this day with softball tournaments. As I thought about it today on our way to Livy’s tournament, it occurred to me that some of my favorite Sundays have been those when sporting events are scheduled because it means that we do church – just the four of us. Praying together, choosing and studying a portion of Scripture together and then you both leading us in worship has been food for my soul. Your papa feels the same way. Today’s short study was on Job and God’s sovereignty and goodness. Thanks Lu for choosing the perfect study for this morning.
In other news, the best song lyric I heard this weekend was this: ”There ain’t no shame in a blue collar 40″. The authenticity and truth in country music IS the reason I love it like I do.
Finally, last week, Mak, you were honored for 4.0 or higher all four quarters last school year. I mention that here not to brag on you but to set the record straight. When I told you that you did a great job and you asked why I came to the awards day, I told you that I was grateful that you’ve worked so hard and your accomplishment was worth celebrating. Your words back stung “it’s not a big deal, mama, you saw all of the other kids who did the same thing.” I did babe and that’s great. However, I want you to know and see in black and white that earning those grades is not easy, especially with your class load. Therefore, you (and your classmates) should be honored for such hard work. None of you should feel belittled that many of you achieved what you did just because there are many of you with the same results. I think that means that you all work hard AND that you have support that a lot of others don’t. I told you that the Lord has something to teach us there……let’s keep praying about that.
And so, these are just some random things I thought you should know.
Love you forever and ever.
Your mama is a fairly simple girl, however she does have lots of dreams. Most of her dreams are relatively common dreams. They may not even be considered worthy dreams to some. However, they are hers. She holds them tightly and she often prays that God will show His favor on her.
Today you made one of them come true. Did you think you had the power to make your mama’s dreams come true? You do, darling. You really do.
This afternoon in the sunlight and warm April air, you said something that set your mama’s heart on fire. Your sweet little voice gently broke the silence during our traveling time when you said “mama, do you know what the most wonderful memory is from my childhood this far?”
Your mama thought for certain you would speak of trips or things or delightful holiday gatherings. Instead you melted your mama’s heart with these very words: “you read to me. you read so many books to me and I loved that. I still love it. I love when you read to me and I love that you read to me.”
As the tears covered your mama’s eyes, she softly whispered to God in the quiet of her heart “Oh Father, there could not possibly be more joy in my heart at this very moment. This is the sweetest gift and one that I hoped would be showered on me.”
The idea that you, Liv, at 11 years old can appreciate and articulate something that has meant so much to your mama is truly a dream come true.
These are the kinds of dreams that inhabit your mama’s heart. It’s a mama heart ……….. and a mama heart dreams these dreams with longing and hoping that could fill up entire oceans. Today you poured gladness and happiness into your mama’s heart that filled it to overflowing.
I love you, darling.