My ego is like a fortress–I have built its walls stone by stone to hold out the invasion of the love of God.
But I have stayed here long enough.
There is light–over the barriers. Oh my God–
The darkness of my house forgive And overtake my soul. I relax the barriers.
I let go of the past, I withdraw my grasping hand from the future, and in the great silence of this moment,
I alertly rest my soul.
As the seagull lays in the wind current, so I laymyself into the Spirit of God.
My dearest human relationships, my most precious dreams, I surrender to his care.
All that I have called my own I give back. All my favorite things which I would withhold in my storehouse from his fearful tyranny.
I let go.
I give myself unto Thee, oh my God.
Yes, We stand alongside, lending support, and each one has to face her fears, find her courage and let go.
Wise words from my midwife sister and friend. Words for the midwife, although they sound like they are for the mama.
This is the work, isn’t it? Not just the work of having a baby; but the work of life. And I need others in this journey. To remind me of truth; to draw me back to trust.
Today is kids club… the in between Sunday. It’s the day we get to hear from the work crew and interns. They have been working their tails off in the hottest week of summer. It hit 120° the first day. Neighborhood. My kids get to be loved on here, with 450+ others and 120 volunteers.
Amd change that is occurring in the leaders’ hearts…
It is interwoven with Story. Story of a child’s life and reality. Story of homes that are not safe sometimes. So kids club, it is a respite; a taste of something different. This is the place where someone shows up, just for that child.
And so, when I felt myself swept away with the crazy music on the first day, I hold space for these kids playing tag around me in the middle of worship. I asked that there would be adults who show up for them, and who have eyes to see.
May it be so.
how can this friday be good?
what a crazy parody, to nake an instrumemt of death the symbol of a faith. and then to celebrate a death day like a birthday…
the bottom line is this:
the story’s not over.
and in the upside down kingdom, this is good news indeed.
i have a story. maybe you do too. (actually, here is a secret…we all have a story).
there is beauty in my story.
there is violence in my story.
there is lots of not knowing in my story.
i need to know that sunday’s coming.
and so tonight, we tell the stories. the stories of the brutality. the stories of the desperation. the stories without hope.
stories of friends who keep falling asleep right when a friend needs them most.
stories of a guy who talks about peace and then chops off an ear with a smelly fishing knife.
stories of sarcasm from a dying con, gallows hunor, perhaps?
stories of a sabbath filled with darkness and absence. a sabbath where the fragrance that lingers on the women’s hands is the spices of death, not of the baking of the challah.
and in the middle of the stories, i can hold my own not knowing a little more gently.
Politics aside, there is a dire need today to fight for justice for those who have no voice. A well kept secret is that God plays favorites. The immigrant, the poor, the stranger among us are mentioned more than 2000 times in Scripture.
Folks are setting aside the next 24 hours to pray and fast. It’s not about whether you eat food or not. Isaiah 58 throws that idea in the mud. I would invite you to sit with these ancient words today and see what stirs…
58 1-3 “Shout! A full-throated shout!
Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout!
Tell my people what’s wrong with their lives,
face my family Jacob with their sins!
They’re busy, busy, busy at worship,
and love studying all about me.
To all appearances they’re a nation of right-living people—
They ask me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’
and love having me on their side.
But they also complain,
‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way?
Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’
3-5 “Well, here’s why:
“The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit.
You drive your employees much too hard.
You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight.
You fast, but you swing a mean fist.
The kind of fasting you do
won’t get your prayers off the ground.
Do you think this is the kind of fast day I’m after:
a day to show off humility?
To put on a pious long face
and parade around solemnly in black?
Do you call that fasting,
a fast day that I, God, would like?
6-9 “This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.”
9-12 “If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.
13-14 “If you watch your step on the Sabbath
and don’t use my holy day for personal advantage,
If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy,
God’s holy day as a celebration,
If you honor it by refusing ‘business as usual,’
making money, running here and there—
Then you’ll be free to enjoy God!
Oh, I’ll make you ride high and soar above it all.
I’ll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob.”
Yes! God says so!
The Message (MSG)
yesterday i was in a funk. loneliness linked arms with grief and self pity and threatened to push past anything in its path.
i sank into the inertia as the moon rise began.
finally i asked for help, messaged a friend, and took myself out. even the motion of driving down the street began to break the “stuck” feeling.
i walked through the aisles of Michael’s, 60% off coupon in hand. i was looking for pencils. prismacolor pencils.
if you have never used prismacolors you have not fully lived. i have a great set of colored pencils, every hue imaginable, in a cool tin. but prismacolors are like velvet. no “scritch-scratch” accompanies their movement across paper. they glide along, leaving vibrant hues in their wake.
my first clue should have been that the pencil aisle was bare of prismacolors, save empty boxes. they live at the front, near the cashier, under lock and key. second, the prices are in tiny print, no sales here. my eyes widened as i saw the set as broad as my 48 japanese look alikes was $89.99. out of budget, no discernment needed. maybe i could do the 36s, for some variety. nope. $67.99. even with the coupon i couldnt justify it. if i were an art major maybe; not as a midwife. i “settled” for the 24s, still $27.99 but remember, i had that coupon. up i marched to the front, trying to console myself that they were still prismacolors.
the cashier complimented me on my choice and headed for the case, key ring jingling. he returned too quickly, apologetic. “we only have the 12s, we’re out of 24s”. i could feel my heart shutting down, ready to settle. i was taught from an early age to do this, choose the smaller piece of pie.
then he brought out the 36s. “you could do these”. i asked him the price, hoping against hope thst i had read it wrong. nope…$67.99. my yankee training and an awaremess of our budget made that an easy answer. i felt my heart begin its shut down.
“just a minute”. he began to punch some keys, reaching for my phone to scan the coupon. after a few minutes he said, “how anout $15?”. wait what?! as if my brain couldn’t process the synapses i asked three times, “for the 36s?”
yep. that is what the man said.
“absolutely!” i said, and we both laughed.
my heart expanded a little, softened by the sirprise of unexpected grace.
nothing changed in my circumstances. all of the grief still remained. but my heart felt lighter.
and when i came home, before lights out, i colored a tiny bit of an elephant bright red.
and the color laid down like velvet.
When you think about starting out a new relationship, Mary and Joseph sure got thrown in the deep end!
Strict dating rules, a betrothal, a long distance relationship without cell phone service, a sudden return, scandal and gossip, breaking up, and a nighttime angelic visitor. What a beginning!
And that doesn’t count a donkey ride in the middle of prodromal labor! Seriously?! Not one of my midwifery clients would sign up for that.
I love how the Nativity movie portrays the growing love and respect between this young couple. It is inviting to consider this home that Jesus grew up in. They needed that foundation! They were about to become immigrants, and just have each other; perhaps in a land that did not want them. Not so different from our precious immigrant families I get to do life with.
This is a hard season for us in many ways. The holidays, always; my father-in-law died our first Christmas as a young couple. But this year has been a hard season on so many levels.
I am so grateful for the love and respect in our marriage and home, which undergirds this unknown path. This young couple, married 29 years last August, got thrown in the deep end too.
This Advent, may there be space to remember the journey. Theirs and ours….
Darkness and Light.
Waiting and Coming.
Sorrow and Hope.
Death and …
We hold so much at Christmas. All of that not knowing, together with the not yet.
I am a desert girl, mostly. A turtleneck in the morning, just because. And then a/c when kids get in the car. Desert kids don’t understand winter. Therefore, they can’t know the mystery of spring, of green shoots pushing up through the snow. In Phoenix, we force bulbs. We put them in the refrigerator drawer for “winter” and then take them out to let them know it’s spring. A tiny shoot begins, stretching up bit by bit, reaching for the light.
The poem was born from a midwife (Advent, by Sister Christine Schenk).
With quickened hope
For crooked paths to straighten,
With tough-soul’d anguish,
Keepers of the keys
(If such a thing were possible).
And will not be
For tiny shoot
Of Jesse tree
Took root in me.
The tiny shoot.
Toward the light.
Hope is a fragile thing.
I was asked by my counselor (who specializes in disruptive questions): “Do you have hope?” My knee jerk response was, “I don’t want to jinx it.” I regretted that response. She pursued my heart in kind and bold ways, and I left that fall Phoenix day feeling small and very stirred.
At every turn that week the word jumped out at me, inviting me farther in. Ericka shared at Neighborhood that week from this passage about the longings of immigrants: for something better, for a home, for a place to belong.
Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them. (Hebrews 11:13-16)
Other translations say that God was not ashamed to be called their God. The alien, the stranger in the land. The ones who never got what they hoped for. Not ashamed.
One of those crazy passages on suffering that got a bit warped in my growing up years says something similar:
because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5).
Hope. It doesn’t put me to shame. Shame I understand, the Journey Mate of a wounded child. Ca-Ching. God is not ashamed.
I got it.
Hope has nothing to do with getting what I hope for. That’s a terrifying relief. Over and over as I wrestle I see two resting places.
God is present. God is good.
And these I know. I have walked the inky blackness of suffering. I have plumbed the depths of these words.
Today we lit the light of the prophets, the candle of hope.
So yes, to answer the question,
I have hope.