Pick of the Clicks 6/6/2015

Bronlea Pick of the Clicks

WOW, there are some game-changer reads in this week’s line-up.

Ready? Set? GO!

Abigail Rine’s essay What is Marriage to Evangelical Millenials? raised some really excellent questions about the presumptions people bring to discussions about marriage (particularly why we marry at all). Do not miss, on this topic, Matthew Lee Anderson’s Why I Am Opposed To Gay Marriage: a masterfully written and very thought-provoking treatment on the place of eros in marriage. Anderson covers why we marry, why the sexual chemistry factor (eros) matters, how it calls us to faithfulness, and how a beautiful and true vision of marriage (the “I will always love you” kind, with eros being a feature throughout) affects the way we conduct all our conversations. It’s a lengthy essay but well worth your time. Even if you don’t want to read the application to same-sex relationships: READ SECTIONS 1-4 on love, sex and marriage.

Sheryl Sandberg’s tribute to her husband, Dave, who died tragically last month, and to the community who are standing with her as she wades through grief and love is profound and profoundly beautiful:

“Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”

Edward Schlosser (a pseudonymous name) wrote an eye-opening piece from his perspective as a liberal college professor, who has become terrified of his liberal students. This piece is worth reading not just by college students and educators, but for all who engage in online discussion, because he writes about the changing culture of the “politics of personal testimony, in which the feelings of individuals are the primary or even exclusive means through which social issues are understood and discussed.”  I am not a college student, but I can see patterns of what Schlosser describes on the internet: people presenting challenging ideas are increasingly viewed as threatening people.

It’s not just that students refuse to countenance uncomfortable ideas – they refuse to engage them, period.

Steve McAlpine’s observations on Stage Two Exile in Western Christianity are worth reading if you have read, grieved, brainstormed or prayed over how we can “do church” better in the world in which we live. To set the context, he describes “Stage One Exile” this way:

Cafes were taken over for morning conversations between up and coming exilic leaders; pubs were used for exilic church; MacBooks were bought in bulk; and emerging/missional trailblazers employed coffee quality as a spiritual boundary marker, with a zeal that would have made any adherent of Second Temple Judaism weep with recognition.

In Exile Stage One the prevailing narrative was that the Christian church was being marginalised, Christendom was over, the church needed to come up with better strategies to strip away the dross, and all of this in order to reconnect Jesus with a lost world.

This article is peppered with wisdom, laugh-out-loud tongue in cheek, and some really deep-thinking observations with massive implications for our approach to church and engaging in culture.

Alastair Roberts kicked off this week’s discussion of the Saltshaker blog with a conversation about The Eternal Subordination of the Son, Social Triniarianism and Ectypal Theology. Yes, I know: the title is terrifying, and yes, I know: Alastair is incredibly clever and it is intimidating to read things like this. BUT…. this post is fascinating because it summarizes a critique of theology which is based on the supposed nature of relationships within the Trinity and then seeks to apply them in human relationship (e.g. The trinity live in community, so we should too, or the Father is a King-figure, so healthy communities should have a King, or—in the case of the gender discussions—the Son submits to the authority of the Father, so women should submit to men because this “reflects the Godhead”.) I’ve heard a myriad arguments based on this kind of thinking before, and this article blew a hole in it for me. I’m still processing.

I loved this story of 5th grade boys who spotted bullying and took action.

This is fascinating: a ground-breaking study where they have found a missing link between the brain and immune systems – a finding which has HUGE implications for conditions such as MS, Alzheimers, and even autism.

“In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.”

Scott Saul’s essay on The Most Honest People In The World, And Why We Need Them was a refreshing and needed read (hint: it’s children.)

Micha Boyett’s reflections on pregnancy are poignant and important: ‘As Long as the Baby’s Healthy’… But What If He’s Not? No matter what, we need to be prepared to receive the children God gives us. I just love Micha’s heart and her writing.

The Narrowback Slacker’s thoughts on How I limited screen time by offering my kids unlimited screen time is DEFINITELY something I plan to consider with our kids in the years to come.

This guy is crocheting food-shaped hats: both random and hilarious.

This delighted my LEGO-loving children no end:

And, I have to post this Dear 16-year Old Me video. I am crazy obsessive about this. So important:

From me this week?

I have a post over at the wonderful SheLoves magazine on the Surprising Wisdom of Ants:

If you had told me 25 years ago that I would one day order a package of ants in the mail, I would have laughed in disbelief.

But I did not know, 25 years ago, that there were such things as ant farms: miniature terrariums where you could observe a colony making their subterranean labyrinths. I did not know, 25 years ago, that I would have two small boys with an irrepressible love of multi-legged creatures.

How could I have known that, late one night—bundled under blankets and bulky expectations for the perfect “boy” birthday—I would click “buy now” for an online order of a space-age looking ant farm, and one small vial of harvester ants? (read the rest here)

I shared some thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), gender reassignment surgery and how we respond here, if you’re interested.

And on the blog: a tribute to two of the most inspiring students I’ve ever worked with (and to you, the invisible hero in our midst).

Thanks for reading!

Photo Credit: Seven Pegs, by Anders Adermark (Flickr Creative Commons)

Help: I Think I Made The Wrong Choice

You're worried you've made a

Dear Bronwyn,

What do you do when you think you’ve followed God’s leading, but then it just sort of falls apart and no longer feels right or makes any sense? I know God’s plan does not involve everything being easy all the time and things don’t always make sense right away. I just feel so insecure about the choices I’ve made. I am constantly asking myself did I hear God correctly? Was that even God speaking? What if I had chosen differently?

The situation is this: after I graduated, I took a job nearby. I had prayed for a dream job elsewhere and wanted it so badly, but when it was offered I didn’t feel I could take it because I had already committed to another job. I also just didn’t feel “right” about it. I can’t say it’s been a disaster, but this job has proved extremely challenging, and recent management changes have been eye-opening. I feel like a fool for choosing to stay here and being loyal to an employer that I realize doesn’t care much about me as an employee. A big part of all of this was keeping my word and commitment, but now I’m questioning if I was subconsciously trying to be a martyr and choose that hard road because I thought it would make God happier with me. I’m on the other side of the country from my family and friends, and I am constantly asking myself -why am I here? What does God want from me?

Please help,

Second-Guessing.

Dear SG,

Those are such good questions. What I can’t do is say: Yes, you made the right decision to stay, or no, you didn’t. What I can say is this: I can really sympathize with where you’re at. We have had seasons of SERIOUSLY second-guessing some decisions in our lives – most notably the decision to come to the USA because so many things went CATASTROPHICALLY wrong that first year and we kept on saying “God, really? Is this your way of saying we shouldn’t have come?”
Here’s what I had to keep saying to myself in the midst of that uncertainty: James 1 promises that if we ask for wisdom, He gives it, and we must believe and not doubt that that is the case. So, in the face of much doubt, we HAD to believe that God had, in fact, given us wisdom in that decision making, even if the consequences of the decision did not appear to be panning out well. I believe you prayed over accepting your current job, as well as praying over turning down the “dream” job, and that God gave wisdom to you. Second guessing is not going to help you here.
My advice to you is that, rather than figuring out whether the past was a mistake, consider what you should do now. Again, James 1 applies – trusting that as you think and pray this through, God WILL give you wisdom for the next step. Maybe he is calling you to faithfulness for another few months. Maybe you should reach out and reapply to that dream job (which will no doubt have its own challenges mind you – our expectations for what work ‘should’ be like often need tempering),  and just work to keep lines of communication there. Maybe there are other alternatives God has in the wings and you need to “jiggle some handles” around you just to see what doors might open. Maybe all three of those options need to be pursued. (staying faihtfully now, but being open to a change of plan).
Thinking about what may have motivated your previous decision and analyzing what happened in the past is important for understanding the factors at play and being self-aware, but I don’t know that over-analyzing it is going to help. Regret certainly isn’t. We do need to think through our past, and learn from it and confess where appropriate, but we are also called not to dwell on the past: “forgetting what is behind, we press on…” I don’t think this means ‘forget’ in the sense that we treat it as if it didn’t happen, but that we don’t put our main focus on the past. Instead, we focus on present day faithfulness with a view to God’s promises and purposes in the future.
Know this though: These months of you being faithful and loyal are not wasted. God rewards his servants who serve Him and His world with upright hearts. He will redeem this time, and who knows what wisdom and truth He will yet pull from this experience in the years to come. Lord knows, I’ve been surprised so often by the ways in which the “questionable decisions” and sticky circumstances land up being used in wonderful and unexpected ways in the future.
I”m sorry you are in a hard space right now – it must be SO HARD to be there all the time second guessing yourself – but I don’t believe it is wasted, and I KNOW that regret/worrying about whether it was a mistake is not a helpful way for you to approach this climate. Call some praying friends around you to help you figure out what your options are, and see what step God shines the light on next.
With love and prayers for God’s wisdom and comfort to you,
Bronwyn.
Photo Credit: Will Montague – petal shadows (Flickr Creative Commons) – edited by Bronwyn Lea

Feminist Confessions of a Non-Feminist – {Jamie Rohrbaugh}

Today’s guest post is from my friend and fellow Redbud writer, Jamie Rohrbaugh.

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I have a confession: I’ve always said that I am not—repeat, NOT—a feminist.

I said this because I have always thought of a “feminist” as being a woman who spends her time in Washington, D.C., lobbying for a liberal cause. I thought being a feminist required me to paint my face blue or red or pink, and shout FREEDOM like Mel Gibson, and march on the Mall. I thought being a feminist meant I had to climb the corporate ladder, be as power-hungry as I could be, and carry a chip on my shoulder about the rights of women in corporate America.

And I am none of those things.

I’m a woman. A simple woman like many others; maybe a woman like you. I have a wonderful job in a Fortune 500 company, but I don’t race to climb the ladder anymore. I have a husband, and a cat, and laundry to wash, and a gym membership I pay for but rarely use. I’ve never marched on D.C. and don’t have any plans to do so, and I’ve never voted liberal in my entire life.

I’m a woman, but I never had any desire to get involved in what I perceived to be the feminist cause.

But then something happened: God began to open my ears. And I started hearing things I didn’t like.

  • I heard from a pastor friend about those who look down on women and refuse to let them work in ministry.
  • I learned from a friend in inner-city missions about women who have never been taught to read or write, who have been abused from a young age, or who sell their babies for grocery money.
  • I learned about young girls who are stolen from their families and forced into prostitution, afraid to risk their lives by running, and seeing no options for finding a better life.

I had no idea. But when I began to hear these things, my ears were opened and my heart was grieved. Suddenly the world looked very different.

And then I understood:

  • I don’t have to attend demonstrations at the United States Capitol to care about the plight of women.
  • I don’t have to picket in front of the courthouse to believe women should be allowed to work in ministry, giving their time and talent for the cause of the Gospel.
  • I don’t have to vote liberal to know that toddlers, teenagers, and adults alike shouldn’t be trapped in sexual slavery, hoping the next customer will end their misery because life has become too much to bear.

And when I understood these things, suddenly the word “feminist” didn’t mean the same thing to me anymore.

Oh, I know there are still women who march on the Mall, paint their faces, and climb the corporate ladder. That’s ok for them, but it just isn’t me.

But even in my quiet life—in my family, my job, my church, and in my circle of friends—I learned that I can still care about women, and I can still make a difference.

  • I can advocate for righteousness and justice, which are the foundations of God’s throne.
  • I can shine the light of mercy and truth into the hearts of hurting women around me every day.
  • I can hug women who are lonely. I can encourage the downcast. I can help women find practical help that will get them out of tough situations.
  • I can share real-life information with those around me who are, like I was, blissfully uninformed.

I can care. I can make a difference in the lives of women right where I am…

… and so can you.

Even if you’re like me, living a quiet life in suburbia, you can still make a difference in the lives of women. You can touch the hurting and broken around you. You can advocate for justice right where you are. You can educate your friends about the plight of girls caught in the sex trade. You can learn about resources available to help people in crisis, so that you can offer a hand up whenever you have the opportunity.

That’s what I’m trying to do. Yes, I’m only one, and I don’t fit into my old stereotype about what a feminist is. But I care about women, and I’m doing something about it.

And I think maybe, just maybe, that might make me a feminist after all.

Jamie RohrbaughJamie Rohrbaugh is crazy in love with the presence of God. She blogs at FromHisPresence.com about revival, worship, prayer, and discipleship. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her trophy husband, and together they have one cat. Follow Jamie on Pinterest or Facebook for frequent doses of Biblical encouragement.

 

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Image courtesy of Girlguyed on Flickr via Creative Commons license.

 

Re-Inventing Christmas

Re-InventingChristmas

It’s “the season” – the time of all things Christmassy. My house is decorated to an acceptably-low standard, my pants are cutting into my cookie-consumer waist, Nat King Cole is crooning a Yule-tide tune on Pandora. It’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas.

And yet, people are complaining about “the war against Christmas”. Apparently, materialism and Santa are trying to edge in against Christ’s rightful place in the season. They will know we are Christians by the way we don’t say “Happy Holidays”, and all that. As with many of the culturally “big” holidays, I have some mixed feelings about it.

christmasgiftsPersonally, we have not told our kids about Santa. This decision also means I need to give my 6 year old a “don’t tell the other kids that Santa isn’t real and make them cry” pep talk before she goes for play dates at this time of the year. So far though, we are doing okay. Santa stories and Santa hats are fun, but there are no gifts from Santa under our tree. We do have a tree. We will eat ham. We will sing carols and go to a Christmas Eve service. We will exchange gifts. We will read the story of Jesus’ birth out loud to our children, and thank God for the gift of Emmanuel.

But having said all that, I’m still not willing to “defend” the Christian Christmas, because as far as I understand – we kind of invented it anyway. And rather than fight for Christmas “as it used to be” in the beginning, I want to put my energies into re-inventing it in the present.

Before you throw a candy cane in my direction, let me explain.

Believers have a long history of  ascribing spiritually significant meaning to celebrations. We are by nature people who look for meaning throughout the calendar. We celebrate rites of passage and comings-of-age. There are things we are commanded to remember (like taking communion), but there are also things we have the freedom to commemorate and remember, and to invest such acts with culturally significant meaning. Humanity has a history of creating traditions and turning them into “teachable moments” for the years to come. We do it in families (think of birthdays), in countries (think of Thanksgiving), in politics (think of MLK day). And we do it in spiritual communities too.

In his relationship with Israel, God commanded a number of specific “commemorative” festivals in their calendar to focus their attention and center their community. They were to remember the Exodus over Passover. They were to remember their need for the forgiveness of sin at Yom Kippur with the Day of Atonement. There were feasts for remembrance and celebration, commanded by God and commemorated by his people.

purim Over and above the mandated ones, though, the Hebrews also added festivals of celebration to their calendar. Both Hannukah and Purim were established by Rabbinic decree to commemorate significant times of deliverance.   The feast of Purim (for the Hebrew word “pur”, which means “lot”, as in “the casting of the lots”, as in “it was a risky thing”) celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people which is recorded in the book of Esther. While God’s name is not mentioned in the book, it is included in the Canon of Scripture and God was clearly and rightly credited for having providentially raised up Esther “for such a time as this” in order to save his people.

Esther 9:20-28 records how Purim was established:

Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.

23 So the Jews agreed to continue the celebration they had begun, doing what Mordecai had written to them. 24 For Haman son of Hammedatha, the Agagite, the enemy of all the Jews, had plotted against the Jews to destroy them and had cast the pur (that is, the lot) for their ruin and destruction. 25 But when the plot came to the king’s attention, he issued written orders that the evil scheme Haman had devised against the Jews should come back onto his own head, and that he and his sons should be impaled on poles. 26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur.) Because of everything written in this letter and because of what they had seen and what had happened to them, 27 the Jews took it on themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.

Purim celebrates God’s rescue, but it was believing Jews who took the initiative to remember it.

I see Christmas as our own kind of “Purim”. God did not command and create Purim – His thankful children did as a way to remember and honor him. And just as Purim was “invented” by the Jews to remember God’s deliverance during the time of Queen Esther, maybe there is space for us to affirm that it is okay to have “invented” Christmas, even though it had Pagan origins. Yes, Christmas has Yule-tide origins around the pagan  winter solstice. Yes, Saturnalia, Juvenalia and Mithra the sun god have longer cultural credentials for the month of December than Jesus, who most certainly was NOT born on December 25th.

But, in a way similar to Mordecai, perhaps, Pope Julius I decreed that once a year, on December 25th, the church should remember and celebrate the wonderful truth that God had come to earth: born of a virgin, born as a baby, born under the law to redeem those who were bound by it.

Christmas celebrates God’s rescue, but believing Christians took the initiative to remember it.

Year by year, following the saints who have gone before us, we choose to invest December with meaning and set aside time to remember the wonder of the incarnation. When we choose a time of year to give gifts (and remember the Gift), to decorate trees (and remember the Shoot from the stump of Jesse), to put up stars (and remember the Star) and hang wreaths – we are not being cheesy cultural plagiarists. Rather, we are doing what people of Faith have done through the ages: using our freedom and creativity to create space for us to remember, to celebrate and to give thanks.

 

(Updated from the archives)

 

What women want

I’m over at Ungrind again this week. Here’s a sneak peek – click over here to read the whole thing 🙂

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I settled down at the table and watched my daughter compose her face in her “now-I-have-something-important-to-say” expression: eyes level, chin down, forehead hopeful.

She paused dramatically and in a butter-cream-smooth tone, said: “Mom, if you just gave us more of the things we want, there would be less crying and being angry with you.”

Reader, I literally snorted with laughter. I laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed until the tears streamed down my cheeks, infuriating my daughter more with each passing second. In hindsight, I probably should have laughed a little less.

I laughed because this was not the first time I was getting advice from my kids on how to do a better job as their mom. Not unlike the young tyrant from Calvin and Hobbes, my children are full of suggestions on how I can “improve my ratings,” or secure better responses from them.

In this particular instance, my 6-year old was angling for me to change my mind about whether or not she could have her ears pierced: a decision we had already said no to. She entreated us daily. For weeks on end. Sometimes with tantrums. Sometimes with stony silences. And on that particular day, she resorted to cool, calm reason. If we would just give her what she wanted, she’d be less angry with us.

Somewhere in the midst of that laughing, I felt the Holy Spirit tap me on the shoulder. Once again, He directed me to consider that panoramic vantage point into God’s parenting of us, His children, which we become privy to when we become parents ourselves.

(continue reading at Ungrind…)

That Time My Pot Got Me In Trouble

That Time My Pot Got Me In Trouble

“There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.*” We pulled over at the side of the road to admire the handmade pottery of a Zulu craftswoman. Her earthenware was rough: clay scooped by the handful from the earth, shaped into a rustic earthenware pot with a sturdy swell at the base tapering into a gorgeous, distinguished neck. I knew we were flying half way around the world just a few days later and that our luggage allowance was limited, but I had to have it.  It was all the rough beauty of Africa in a single urn.

My brother-in-law constructed a custom box for it: repurposing old computer boxes with tape and tenacity. We stuffed its graceful neck with strips of raggedy, old newspaper. I remember brushing away mouse droppings and wondering if they would cause the sniffer dogs at customs any alarm: animal products, and all that. I found the biggest red marker possible, and stenciled FRAGILE! THIS WAY UP!! in alarmist lettering on every side.

I checked my bags through one, two and then three flights, but kept my cardboard box with me on each. I cradled it baby-like through each security checkpoint; held my breath through every bumpy landing. 11,000 miles later, I exhaled slowly as we taxied down the final runway. I was nearly home.

A long, snaking line at Passport Control. Arrivals forms efficiently scanned. A scurry through baggage claim. And finally: the last stop at customs and excise duty – a checkpoint which had only ever required a polite nod and a wave before the blessed reunions of the arrivals hall.

But not this time.

A man in uniform politely waved me to a counter, where I dutifully unpacked all my belongings and watched in fascination as my underwear and toiletries appeared in ghostly X-ray outlines on the screen. My polite chit-chat was interrupted by the customs official.

“What’s in the box?” she asked.

“It’s my pot,” I answered proudly, ready to tell her of the lovely road running from Ixopo into the hills. The expression on her face stopped me short.

What is it?” she snapped.

I pointed to the screen where the graceful outline was clearly visible. “It’s my p…… ”

In slow motion, I realized how incriminating my South African noun sounded to her Californian ears. My scalp prickled.

“It’s my vase! It’s my vase!” I sputtered. “I promise! There is absolutely NO pot in there whatsoever. Just a vase. Made of clay. Nothing else.”

*******

It’s not the only time my words have raised eyebrows. Our first year in the States was replete with moments of social humiliation and hilarity, but slowly our comfort with the local language grew. Our settling into life and community was matched (and facilitated) by a settling into the language of the community. A growing sense of belonging wasn’t just about getting to know people, or being known by them. Grafting into our community included grafting the vernacular into our conversation: once we talked like locals, we began to earn street cred. All our words were still said in a South African accent, but the actual words themselves changed too: diaper, not nappy. Faucet, not tap. Gas, not petrol. Oh for the love: eraser, not rubber.

Accidentally choosing my native words in conversation was like waving an “outsider” flag. Conversation would stall while we awkwardly stumbled to translate our intention. An offer to “fetch someone on my way” was met with suspicion and a shudder of offense. “Fetch” is a verb used for dogs chasing sticks. The more appropriate word here was “to give someone a ride”, or to “pick them up”. We made dozens of these adjustments: taking down linguistic barriers so we could reach across to form deeper friendships.

*******

I noticed it in the church most of all, probably because it was the place I needed to belong most keenly.

The cultural phenomenon of figuring out “who belongs” as defined by their language is a heightened reality within the evangelical church. Aware of theological threats on every side, we parse our words carefully. Some of Christendom’s deepest divides have been chiseled by disagreements over words. Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Christendom parted ways over precise words, because of course it wasn’t just about the words – but rather that the particular words represented very nuanced (and divergent) theological views. Church history is littered with word-wars.

And the church today is no different. We think carefully about whether we describe ourselves as reformed, or evangelical. As a Christian, or a Jesus-follower. We choose those terms because they represent something significant about the way we understand our faith. It means something to be a Baptist rather than a Presbyterian. To be an Anglican rather than an Episcopalian.

Beneath the layer of formal Christian titles, there is the second tier of language, in the way we talk about everyday things. Do we talk about being “born again”, or having “come to Christ”, or “becoming a believer”. To move from a culture where people are “born again” into a culture where people “come to Christ” presents some challenges. When you tell the new group that you were “born again” – instead of initially seeing a similarity (yes! you are one of us! you belong to Christ!), the hearers might at first hear difference (that’s not how I would have put it. I wonder if she’s one of those hellfire and damnation folks. They talk about born again a lot. If she says “the blood of the lamb” in the next sentence, I’m outta here.)

It took nearly a year in the US for me to feel I could really trust my new church theologically. They spoke a different dialect of Christianese: similar enough to mine to understand it, but just different enough for me to be on guard. Just in case. Like the maps of yore, the edges of my theological map contains seas marked “here be dragons”. After a year, I had learned enough to know that even though the expressions of faith were phrased a little differently to where I’d come from – we were still kin, and the bedrock of our faith was common after all.

******

Every new believer we meet, whether we intend it or not, faces new customs when they visit our churches, and not unlike the Customs Official I met, we find ourselves wondering: what’s in your box?

Let’s not be alarmed if the answer comes out as something like ‘pot’.  It may well be that they really do love Jesus,  but they speak a slightly different Christian dialect. We have eternity to figure out the details – but for now, let’s give some grace to those who speak with a different faith ‘accent’ before we jump to conclusions.

  • The opening lines from Alan Paton’s most beautiful book, Cry, The Beloved Country.

The Fierce, Strong, Wild Heart of God

If my memory was good enough to write a memoir: a story of spiritual significance and coming-of-age, this is the story I would want to write. It has moved me to tears more often than I can think of. I had heard many people say that having children was a blessing… but what I didn’t know was that for me, the greatest blessing of having children would be learning what it meant to be a most beloved child of God myself. 

When my friend Adriel Booker asked me to write for her series on the Motherheart of God, I knew instantly what I wanted to write. I know God as my Father, but Oh! It’s just amazing how becoming a mother has revealed God’s tender heart to me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Here’s the beginning, and then head over to Adriel’s to read the rest. (And while you’re there, look around. I love Adriel’s blog.)

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I went into motherhood with carefully weighed expectations:  I knew there would be fierce joy, thousands of photos too cute to delete, sleep deprivation, tantrum-taming, and way more contact with bodily fluids than I’d ever had before.  I also expected a few years spiritual lethargy.  With less time and energy for church, bible study and ministry, I expected to change gears for a couple of years: from spiritual ‘drive’ to a humming ‘neutral’.

I could not have been more wrong.

Friends, nothing has revealed God’s heart to me like becoming a mother. Nothing.

***

In the early days, there was the taking of pre-natal vitamins, and watching what I ate, of giving up skiing and wine without complaint as I marveled at the tiny being utterly dependent on my welcome. In the minutes of the first ultrasound, tears spilled down my cheeks as I saw a heartbeat flutter on the screen: life within my life, a soul of another already contained within mine. Oh, how I loved! And I shivered when, in that moment, I felt the words settle in deep: If this is how you love the little one dependent on you and completely unaware of it, how much more do I not love you, dependent and unaware and so utterly precious to me? 

(Click over to read the rest, won’t you?)