2/28/11

In hind sight



I'm reminiscing and thanking God for all that we experienced while we were in Baja last winter. I think  it has taken time to fully appreciate what we had the privilege to be a part of. Now that we have been home nearly a year  it has really sunk in how much we  were blessed as a family.  It was so easy to take it for granted while we were in the middle of all our daily routines and work.  

A year ago today our kids clothes were faded and worn from months of use and hanging to dry in the desert sun.
Spring was making it's subtle appearance with new leaves and orange blossoms.

The weather warmed and our fleece sweaters were stored away under the bed in our trailer. 

My children's hair was sun bleached white and their cheeks were a permanent shade of pink.

We knew our time was coming to an end and we were making the most of every day.

We attended the annual "tea party"when all the little girls at the orphanage dressed up for a very special afternoon.  They were each treated like princesses and served tea and sweets  in a fairy tale setting.

We said a lot of goodbyes...and see you soon's to children and friends who mean so much to us.




I'm so thankful and humbled by what God did in us during that short time.
The impact we made there was so small in comparison. 
My children learned to see the beauty diversity.   They learned to see past a disability and see the person. 
They learned to be comfortable with those differences. 


They learned how to make friends even though they barely spoke the language and they were very visibly different than their peers.  
 They have empathy for others who struggle with English or come from a different culture.
They know how it feels.
They don't take things like a house, a bed, or a full belly for granted.
They have had close friends who had none of those.

We pulled our kids out of school and drove them across two borders into a country considered "unsafe".  We neglected to sign them up for sports teams and music lessons.   We removed them from everything familiar, safe and comfortable.   
At a very impressionable age no less.

The impression left by that recklessness has been great.

Letting them experience a world that includes children who sleep in dirt and babies left in garbage dumps,
allowing them to struggle, to give, to work, to see for themselves what a big God we serve
changed them.
It changed the people they will become.




We learned that God can take whatever we have to offer and use it in His work and for His glory.
I learned that what we think we have to offer may not be what he wants from us. 
I learned some lessons the hard way.
I was humbled and challenged.



We discovered first hand how faithful God is.  
We stepped out in faith, took a risk, and he was with us every step of the way.
We had the privilege of serving and loving alongside others who spend their lives for something bigger than themselves.
We were inspired and humbled by the passion, faith, and tenacity of our Mexican brothers and sisters.


We discovered that even a small investment of love into someone else's life may have eternal impact.
Only God can turn something that seems so insignificant at the time  into something worthy of his name.


He showed me that family ,at it's best, extends beyond the walls of my house and beyond my own blood line.


Is it any wonder I feel like I'm living with half our heart somewhere else?
I don't want to live in the past or feel discontent with where we are in the present.  What I do want to do is  thank God for it, learn from it, and use it to inspire our future.
What does God have for our family next?
I have no idea.
Right now we are trudging through the world of foster adoption and loving every minute of our newest little treasure.
We know that God's work in us and through us is always changing, always new,
and usually what we don't expect.

2/27/11

when you're stuck inside


When you're stuck inside and every one is going bonkers,
it helps to shake things up a bit.
Sometimes.
Sometimes you just have to maintain a shred of sanity and pray that the cold snap starts to warm up and the kids can play outside.  
By cold snap I'm not talking about a Pacific Northwest "artic blast" of gently falling wet snow flakes, cancelled school, and all the kids grabbing sleds.  

 I'm referring to wind chill temperatures of -50 degrees Celsius,  exposed skin freezing in under 10 minutes.
Most of my readers will likely have no reference point to understand that kind of cold.
Ask the person sitting next to you to slap you on the face.
That is the air when you walk outside your  door.
Admittedly I am a wimp.

Our car won't start unless it has a block heater that has been plugged in with a stiff frozen extension cord.
Then it needs to run for 15 minutes before  we attempt to drive it. 
In the time it takes to maneuver multiple children into a vehicle frost bite has set in and I wonder why we ever left the house.   
(Although the walls of the house are closing in on me staying home starts to seem like a better option)
The roads are covered in snow.  The highway is slick and drifting.
The car heater has a hard time keeping up.

Another reason we've become hermits is that the price of gas is ridiculous right now ...and the closest town is 40 km away.  It's up to $1.30 / liter (for my American friends there is 4 liters in a gallon).  




In an attempt to add some excitement to our week we decided to "go camping".
I am realizing more and more that we are family that thrives on some sort of  adventure, a little danger and  sense of purpose.  
Roman being the most extreme example among us.   Although I now see how we are all wired that way to an extent.
We are passionate, slightly impulsive, big dream kind of people....stuck camping in a basement.

At the same time we are a family that does enjoy a lot of at home, chilled out family time. It's a balance that is slightly tipped to the extreme right now. 

The following are a few quotes that make me laugh from the "How to train your dragon" movie.

 "You, sir, are playing a dangerous game! Keeping this much raw viking-ness contained! There will be consequences! "  (we've got a house full of raw-viking-ness about to burst)


Ever wonder what Saskatchewan is like?
 
"It snows nine months out of the year, and hails the other three. What little food grows here

 is tough and tasteless. The people that grow here, even more so. "

Where on Earth is Saskachewan anyway?!

"It's twelve days north of Hopeless and a few degrees south of Freezing to Death. It's located solidly on the Meridian of Misery. My village.....Most people would leave, but not us. We're Vikings. We have stubbornness issues."


In all fairness, if you overlook the mosquito hoards in the summer and the Artic misery in the winter it is a wonderful place to work and raise a family.  Honestly.  Seriously, the economy here is booming and the people aren't totally tasteless....



We set up tents in our living rooms to entertain our children.



At least there's always family game time to look forward too.

The time when Daddy takes over and mom (the non-gamer of the family) does dinner dishes.


UPDATE:    I am pleased to announce that today  is a gorgeous sunny, down right balmy day.  
 The eaves of the house are dripping with melting snow as the temperature soars  to -5 degrees Celcius. 
To add to my excitement I actually wore make up and left my house! 
A trip to town, church and Walmart all in one morning! (we pack it all in to one trip). 
We attended a wonderfully refreshing worship service and came home to kick the kids outside to play.
Life is good.
I'm holding a giant mug of coffee.  
It doesn't take much to convince me we might survive until spring.  
We just need to survive next weeks cold blustery forecast.

2/24/11

Just because


Posting this 
just because this girl puts a smile on my face all day long.


Laughing at her is one of my favorite hobbies.




Big sister has become quite the little baker.
Although we are still sorting out the whole tsp. vs. tbsp thing.
Details.
She'd prefer to exercise creative freedom.  
A little of this a little extra of that.



Silas just likes the butter and sugar.
Disdains real food but could eat margarine by the spoonful.  

The only thing more frightening than children taking over the kitchen is
 computer hijackers with horrible spelling and grammar that
 threaten to "break your life."
...or just my computer.  Which may or may not be my life.



In other news.
We are still in the grip of  winter.
sigh.
Fortunately my boy is proficient at bringing in firewood, building a fire each morning and keeping it going all day.
I hate being cold.   I am hibernating next to the fireplace until further notice.
When it's safe to leave my house again I'm moving to a tropical island.  

Out of desperation, and because the mail hadn't been picked up all week, I sent Roman on a journey across town to retrieve it  in -30 degree weather.  
He loves it when I give him big kid responsibilities.
School work on the other hand...not so in love with.



It's Friday tomorrow.  
It's been a long week.  Since my last honest bad attitude post I decided I needed to stop wallowing on the computer and get some stuff done.

I have been supermom this week.  Being a supermom makes me tired. 
 Tired but happy I put in the effort.
I even caught up on correcting school work.  I sat with Aili each evening (once the other kids were in bed) going over and helping to correct every math mistake.
Now that is love.
Or a really annoying mom.
Oh well, I'm sure I made up for it with the homemade pizza and popcorn we had for supper.

My new goal is to spend quality one on one time with each of my 4 kids everyday.
That sounds kind of pathetic. Being surrounded by them all day doesn't necessarily mean I'm taking the time to enjoy  intentional moments of sweetness with them.
Getting one of them alone for something other than a phonics lesson takes effort.

We didn't do a "break" this week.
I'm saving time off of school work for when the weather is nice enough to enjoy it.
For now we are hunkered down plugging away in hopes of getting through our curriculum by June.

I think we may need a "Friday fun day" tomorrow.
Silas has been begging to go camping....
We might just have to do that.

2/22/11

weary

Sometimes I feel like I need a break from my life.   Sometime I would even like to have a break from being me.  Maybe try being someone more competent and confidant for a day.

Meeting the  needs of every person in my household drains me.

There is always a diaper to change,
a nose to wipe,
a child to read with,
a child who needs correction or discipline,
a meal to make,
long division to re-teach.....

This time of year our life slows down a bit, we hibernate a little more, and our calender is intentionally less full.
There is no yard work to do and no garden to tend.
My husband is home slightly longer in the morning and is home most every evening.
Our days are flexible and fairly relaxed.
I'm not sure why I'm feeling as overwhelmed as I do.  This is our "down season"...if there is such a thing.
The lull before the spring rush.
Maybe it's a bit of cabin fever.

I wake up with the fear that this will be the day it will all fall apart,
That everything we are working for will be ruined.
Lately, I feel like I'm straining, pulling and dragging a big wagon alone.
I can't shake that feeling that eventually this wagon will become stuck and I'll just sit there in the mud defeated.   We'll be swamped in a land of dysfunction forever.    If only we were free of the ruts that threaten to drag us off course.  

My blog is a whole big mix of everything.   A journal of me trying to figure out life as it is.
Sometimes that's funny, sometimes it's sad,  often it's random thoughts and dreams that make sense to only me.
It is always real.  Maybe to a fault.
Part of me would like to paint  an image and pretend we are a perfect family.
I could look like an expert on anything life throws my way.
I could blog about my immaculate house, my children learning Latin, my crafting skills, and the gourmet recipes I am cooking.  I could capture it all with my photographic prowess.
I would appear to juggle it all with style and swagger.
Sometimes I want to be her.

Maybe to some I come across that way.
Maybe I come across as a lunatic.
I don't know how me or my candid life is perceived ...but I'm just me.

One thing I despise in life is phoniness (in case you haven't noticed by my many rants about it).  I have personally known too many people and families who appeared to have it all together but were tragically broken underneath the image.   Eventually it all comes crashing down around them as they desperately try to hold up a smoke screen to hide the carnage.

No, I don't share everything that is going on in my life.   I use discretion but I am honest in what I write.


My toilets are dirty.  There are dishes in my sink.  I have no idea what I am going to feed my tribe for lunch.  Chances are one of them will refuse to eat it anyway.  My bible is laying on my book shelf untouched for days on end.   I worry that my kids aren't learning what they need to learn.  I fear that I will fail and my own selfishness or laziness will ruin them.  I am prone to forget how blessed I am.

This morning my attempt to ask for help was reduced to yelling at my kids and disrespecting my husband.
I'm that cool.

The truth is I'm not an expert on anything.   I am mucking through doing the best I can with what I have, and with who I am.   I live in an ADD filled household.  It is an exhausting, unpredictable, emotional, and extreme place to be.    Sometimes we thrive and sometimes we barely survive.  I think monotony is wreaking havoc at the moment.

I don't have life, parenting, marriage, or anything figured out and I don't pretend that I do.
I have learned a few things along the way and if my sharing those things helps someone else keep moving forward than I am thankful for that.  I give God the glory.  Maybe my shortcomings will also resonate with someone and we can keep on trudging through together.

I'm just a broken, chipped vessel that wants to be filled and poured out.
Too often I pour out but forget to be re-filled.
Then I am just empty.
I fill myself with things that don't satisfy, and then get grumpy when people want more from me than I have to give.

I had really planned on doing a cute or funny post next.   After a few heavier posts I figured it was time to keep it balanced with some fun and fluff.   This isn't that post.  Sorry.

Next time.
Or maybe you'll just get pictures of baskets full of laundry and a toy strewn living room....or maybe of  4 year old who refuses to eat every meal he is served (actually pictures of Silas gagging and storing  food in his cheeks instead of swallowing it might be entertaining...when you're not the one who made the meal.)  ;)

2/20/11

11 months


This little peek-a-boo girl is only one month shy of a year old.
That one year milestone is such a big one.  
Leaving infancy and entering toddler-hood...and all the childhood years beyond.
I am so so thankful that we have been her parents for that first year of her life.  
So many milestones we've had the honor of witnessing.

Miss Cece has developed a passion for hats and entertains herself trying all kinds of things out on her head. 
Her favorite hat happens to belong to her favorite person,
which also happen to be her two first words.
"Dad  hat"
I'm the one who has changed, scrubbed and washed every  diaper (with the exception of one).  I'm the one who gets up in the night, bathes, dresses and wipes the boogers  BUT
Daddy is the rockstar.   Just the mention of his name causes her to shake and squeal with excitement.  
Maybe I should wear hats more often.
It is pretty sweet though. 
He's just as smitten with her.
Even though she messes up the newspaper.



She is a proficient crawler, explorer and cupboard emptier.
Her silly little personality is really starting to show.  
She loves to initiate all kinds of games.  Mimicking, peek-a-boo, patty-cake, make-mommy-pick up-whatever-I- just- threw-down, or kiss my bunny blankey over and over are some of her favorites.  

Miss Cece just started pulling herself up onto her feet although she isn't too sure what to do once she's up there.   Once she is done being proud of herself she panics and starts to cry for someone to rescue her from her feet.  I am guessing that in the next few days she will figure out her dismount and be cruising from one piece of furniture to another.  

Not much movement with the adoption in the last month.  There really aren't that many steps left they just each take an undetermined amount of time.  It is a very slow process as we wait for her file to reach the top of the stack of files waiting to be processed.   Right now she is a file on a desk waiting to be transferred to another desk waiting to be transferred to a court room.

2/19/11

Out of the archives

Sometimes it's fun to look back over my blog at the last few years of my life.   The nice thing about blogging is I not only see the physical changes and growth but the spiritual as well. It's like reading back over a prayer journal and photo album at the same time.    Some of the posts I barely remember writing.  Some of them I remember exactly what I was feeling at the time I wrote it.    It's a record of God's faithfulness through all that life has thrown at us.
I decided to resurrect a few old posts just for fun.  A little stroll down memory lane, back to when Silas was still a baby and my writing "style" was a little less refined.  


Three years ago today my brother in law's battle with cancer ended and he was taken into a place we can only dream of.  
That day was his last day of pain.
I wrote this post 8 months later. 
 I was mulling around in my head the topic of suffering and this is what came out of that.  Nothing too profound just my honest observations and attempt to comprehend that which is so often so incomprehensible.  




-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pondering pain,   written Oct 2 2008
This morning I took Silas in for his 18 month vacinations...he's actually 20 months now. Good news.  He is back on the weight chart and holding strong at 25th percentile! He's gained 5 lbs since April. My baby is now a little boy running around and starting to talk.

If you have ever taken a child to get his shots you know how traumatic it can be. Silas has a total phobia of all things related to drs. and any place that looks like a clinic. Chronic ear infections, ear tubes, allergy testing, trips to the pediatrition and an ear specialist ...add to that a public health nurse yeilding needles every few months and the kid has every right to be afraid.

He was nervous, clinging and whining just walking into the clinic and screamed in terror while being weighed and measured .... we both knew it would get much worse before it got better. They give kids 3 shots now...one in each arm and in a leg. It is just cruel....necessary...but cruel all the same.

As I sat there fighting tears, cradling my hysterically screaming child while he was turned into a human pin cushion , something crossed my mind...that is after the very brief instinct to slap the lady, grab my child and run. How does God feel when we go through times of pain and trouble and where is he while we endure it? 
A biggy I know, one of those questions whole books are written on by people much more educated in theology that I . I will try not to write a whole book as I try to sort through these thoughts banging around in my head.

I will start with what I know. 
God reveals himself in the Bible as "Abba" the Hebrew word for Daddy...not just father but the word that a young child would shout as she runs to her "Abba" with her arms in the air. I know that God loves us, more than that he IS love, perfect love and I know I can trust perfect love.

As Silas' mommy I am merely human , I make mistakes, I sport bad attitudes and frequently lack patience. Even in my humaness my heart is torn open and the tears start to flow at the mere thought of my child suffering, having to watch it is close to unbearable. How much more does God care for us? ....being that his love is pure, perfect and untainted. Is God there with us while we endure heartache and trouble? 
Again I think about how a loving parent comforts a child.

As I held Silas and tried to comfort him through needle after needle, I reassured him that I was there with him and would remain with him.

I reassured him that it would soon be over and that something better (a whole "fruit by the foot" and a bottle) was waiting for him.

I acknowledged his hurt . I felt each needle prick and the subsiquent sting and burn of the medicine being forced into his muscle as if it were my own. If there was some way to take it for him I would have.

One thing he will never understand at 20 months old is that this specific pain had a purpose. I think the most hearbreaking thing was the look in his big blue eyes . They pled me to help him and at the same time accused me of inaction. If he had a bigger perspective and could know what I know he would understand that I wasn't intentionally subjecting him to this pain for my own cruel amusement or my own powerlessness to stop it.

Wars rage, atrocities are committed, mothers watch their babies succumb to starvation, people are swept out to sea in horrific natural disasters, people battle disease and pain all around me. How often do we look at God with those same pleading and accusing eyes and wonder if He is cruel or just powerless? I know I have.

As a parent ,this morning, I was neither cruel nor powerless. 
I know seeing him suffer even for only a brief time broke my heart. I could have followed my first instinct to grab him and run but that was not my plan for him, that was not what was best for him. I know Silas cannot possibly understand right now why I allowed it to happen.   He has to trust me.

I'm not suggesting that all pain has a specific purpose, like immunizations. But we can't rule out that sometimes it does. Likewise, some pain is a natural consequence of our own poor choices...."If you jump out of that tree Roman and you will break your leg!". I tend to think that most of it is just the natural fallen sinful world we live in. I do know that God can take that pain and bring something good out of it...even though its difficult to see at the time.

So many people I know have faced or are facing things that are so painful that I cannot even imagine the specifics of what they go through. I can't comprehend the suffering of watching a child battle cancer or the loneliness of loosing a spouse. I have never experienced loosing a parent when they should be dreaming about retirement or enjoying their young grandchildren. I do know grief though and the gut wrenching aching sadness that goes with it.  


I have felt the sting of death and have no doubts that it was concieved in the pit of hell. The reason it feels so unnatural for us is that we were not created for this. Mothers were not created to watch their children die, we would literally face a rabid pitbull or storm the gates of hell to prevent them from suffering. There is nothing more unnatural than leaving your child's tiny body in a hospital room while you turn and walk away.


If the world was still the way it was created to be I wouldn't have needed to take Silas to get immunized. Because he is subject to the diseases this world has to offer, I will allow it, as unatural as it is.

I know without a doubt that God is closest to us when it is the hardest to see or stand, when we are groping through that dark valley. He does not abandon us in that place.

God doesn't keep us immune from trouble. We are subject to and victims of the laws of nature, the evil intent of other people, and the fallen state of this world...just like everyone is. One difference is , we do not need to fear. Our Abba sits on the throne and is stronger than the intentions of evil people and more powerful than the laws of nature.

We may not be immune to heartache but He does promise us that we will be held in the midst of it.

He tells us " In this world you will have tribulation...but take heart I have overcome the world."

Some of you know who the apostle Paul is ( if you read about him in the book of Acts you'll come across the guy I named my son Silas after, a man who knelt and worshiped God even though the skin was hanging off his back in shreds and he was chained in a stinking filthy prison cell). Paul was a hateful self righteous prig of a man determined to earn his way to Heaven...that was until he met Christ and realized his need for grace. He was literally brought to his knees in an encouter with the living God and he was rocked and changed to his core. For the sake of Christ and sharing this message of hope and redemption, he was then beaten, stoned and flogged, suffered hunger and cold, he was imprisoned and shipwrecked...even bitten by a viper....if anyone new about pain it was Paul. Here is what Paul has to say on the subject. Italic

"..We know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him (ok that ones hard to swallow when your in the middle of itwho have been called according to his purpose. ......What , then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us , who can be against us? 
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that , who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? .....No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (note: it says "in" all these things...not without, or inspite of)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. " Romans 8:28-39

Shall tribulation? - let the tribulation bring what it will... exhausting, bitter, stressful....it will not separate you from Gods love...the key is not to let it prevent you from resting in that love.

Shall anguish? - can we trust in Gods love and rest in it when our circumstances tell us his love is a lie, and life is unfair? Can we experience true joy despite our circumstances?

Shall Sword? - As I write this, there are Men, Woman and children literally facing a sword and yet still refuse to deny what they know to be true. Christians are being masacred and brutalized right now in India....and in the midst of it they are praising God because they know this persecution will bring incredible growth in their community of believers. Now thats faith refined in fire. What Satan intends for harm God will use for good.



"Either Jesus Christ is a deciever and Paul is deluded, or something extrordinary happens when a person holds on to the love of God when the odds are against God's character. Logic is silenced in the face of everyone of these things. The only thing that can account for it - the love of God in Christ." Oswald Chambers

While Silas was experiencing pain, he did what was natural for him. He turned to me and clung to me. He clung to me with all the strength he had. I think he was actually trying to crawl inside me and hide...if only I had a few more rolls I think he would have. He was confused, hurt, angry and his eyes questioned "WHY?" but he clung, and within only minutes his tears were dried and he was sitting in contentment on my lap eating "sugar by the foot"...I mean "fruit by the foot". 


Sometimes I think we should just follow the lead of a toddler who can trust that , despite his immediate circumstances, He is loved.

2/18/11

Loss and new life

Three years ago tomorrow our family lost one of it's own.
My twin sister's husband of nearly a decade was welcomed into his eternal home.
He was taken from a body wracked with pain and made whole. 
We will never understand why somethings happen like they do.
Or when they do.
I don't think I've ever struggled so long and deep over the sovereignty of God in allowing a loving father and husband to be lost.
I still don't pretend to understand it.
Death is a part of life.
It's a sucky, crappy, confusing part of living in this world. 
However, I know without a doubt that this world is not all there is.

As I look back over the 12 years that I considered him my brother I am thankful to have known him.

We loved him.

There is someone missing at our family gatherings. 

In the last 3 years we have watched his children grow.
We see his personality, his eyes, and his smile, in those children.
We continue to pray for my sister who lost so much. 

In the past three years we have welcomed a new brother in law and two step-nephews into our family.
2 adoptions and 2 new births also add to our family portrait.

Loss and new life.
The world continues to spin.
But for a moment I am pausing to remember and to thank God for 31 years of a life well lived.  

Rarely have I met a person with such a genuine caring heart.

Scott, we miss you!

2/17/11

la vida loca


 I live in a house of crazy.   
It's quite possible we are too far gone to be saved from ourselves.
There are children swinging from the rafters and
rappelling from the ceiling.
If only they were filled with candy.

(Aili modeling her new "love" shirt.)


Where are the adults you ask?
One is behind the camera worrying that either the house or the children will come to ruin.
The other is encouraging the chaos.
"Teaching them about different knots and pullies."
I suppose I should be glad that they will soon be proficient at doing dangerous stunts involving high cliffs and ropes.  


If only it stopped ,just once, before it irrupted into sheer lunacy.


Seriously,  there is just so much wrong with this picture. 


Which is why I am choosing to tune it all out and hide on my computer.
(Miss Cece wonders what she's gotten herself into.)
I reassure myself that God has a purpose for unusual people.
Maybe even somewhere warmer...where my children can burn off their creative energy outdoors


In the mean time, I will  enjoy the luxuries of home that now happens to include a head sitting on my piano.  
My very thoughtful and generous son saw this at a second had store and brought it home as a gift.  
"Mom, I bought this for you so you could remember me when I'm gone"
How comforting.
There is a disturbing resemblance wouldn't you say?
It will be treasured right along side all my other gifts...like the bejeweled goose eggs I received for my birthday.

Miss Cece has not hesitated in joining in on the chaos. 
She fits in quite well actually.


p.s  They have now taken me hostage.
They have strange and unusual methods of torture that include being forced to listen to shrill screaming, constant talking  and incessant whining.
They seek to break me down with sleep deprivation.
Not only have my captors  forgotten to feed me, but they demand to be fed constantly.
 *help!*

2/15/11

Radical

This past week my husband and I have been reading the book


"Radical, taking back your faith from the American dream" by David Platt.

It is without question the most paradigm shifting, eye opening, mind stretching, and heart shattering book I have ever read.   I feel shattered in a good way even though being broken up into little pieces is never a comfortable way to feel (and I am getting very little housework done).

With each paragraph of the book I shifted from one emotional extreme to another.  I went between resisting the urge to  jump up and down on the couch shouting AMEN!!!....to quietly closing the book and wanting to  sink beneath the couch cushions.   I feel down right manic at the moment.

Although I had been hearing about this book and wanting to read it for a while it wasn't at all what I expected.  Not completely anyway.   It is so much more than a social justice, give more to the poor, sort of book.   So much more.

The back of the book says "In Radical , David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences.  He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple - then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard."



We have so many "blind spots" in our lives as modern western Jesus followers.  We have good intentions and  honorable goals.  We  seek to please God with our lives and the stewardship of our "blessings".  We have our nice little families, our polished images, and  our smiley faces.   We bless ourselves, worship our idols, build our little kingdoms, and hoard the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ within the walls of our multi million dollar buildings.
Meanwhile outside the safety of our gates a world is dying.
We throw them our crumbs.
Like some Christians a few centuries ago who thought they were being generous and honoring God by giving their slaves an extra chicken at Christmas.  Many upstanding , religious, people were so blinded by what culture accepted that they were completely unaware of the heinousness of the blood that was on their own hands.

We sooth ourselves with trite statements and shallow philosophies.

We assure ourselves that we are "not called".  "Missions" is a something that a select few do or care about.  It is just a little sliver of a pie chart printed in our church bulletins.  It certainly isn't the very reason we have breath and life.

We keep God in a safe little box.   We worship a shallow,  romantic idea of the cross and the gospel of Jesus Christ.  It is a version of faith that most of my generation has left behind because they see the holes and the hypocrisy.  It costs us nothing.

If Christianity is nothing but a creed to follow it is easy to compartmentalize into a back corner of our lives or throw it away all together.

If Christianity is nothing but the American dream with a "Christian" label attached we are very far off course.  We so little resemble the believers of the first Century or our brothers and sisters around the world.  Our perspective is so severely distorted.

I loved how David Platt  uses biblical truth to challenge our trite small version of Christianity and introduce us to the God of the bible.

It wasn't a brow beating , money is the root of all evil , one size fits all, book but it does have a way of leaving you unsatisfied with the things the world values.   It may just give you a throbbing desire for more.   True discipleship.

"Where as disinfecting Christians involves isolating them and teaching them to be good, discipling Christians involves propelling Christians into the world to risk their lives for the sake of others."
(Amen!  This also spills over into what I desire for my children and my priorities as a parent. Are we raising safe, sanitized Christian kids or are we raising equipped, purpose filled, disciples....world changers.)

Here are  a few samples but  finding the most profound quotes  out of the book is futile because every page is full of them.  You just have to read it start to finish.  Here are a few lines that I remember standing out to me as I read.  It is a borrowed book so unfortunately I couldn't fill it full of pen and highlighter marks.

"Are you and I looking to Jesus for advice that seems fiscally responsible according to the standards of the world around us? Or are we looking to Jesus for total leadership in our lives, even if that means going against everything our affluent culture and maybe even our affluent religious neighbors might tell us to do?"


"the reward of the American dream is safety, security, and success found in more comfort, better stuff, and great prosperity.  But the reward of Christ trumps all these things..."







"We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes."


Other than providing the occasional quote from books I'm reading I have never devoted an entire post to one.    
It is THAT good.
Search your church library,  run to a Christian book store,  order it online, swipe it from a friends book shelf.
Read it!
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On a different topic.  Does anyone remember these kids?  I wrote about them a LOT last winter while we were in Mexico.  "The kids that call me Tia" (auntie).
They were part of our extended family while we lived down there.
I have missed them like crazy.  I have worried about them.
This past weekend we were able to send an envelope of photos and note to let them know we love them and haven't forgotten about them.  A friend of ours that visits the same mission we were working with was able to be our messenger.   They were wonderful enough, to not only find the kids and check on them for us,  but to take them icecream!  The best part for us was seeing this recent photo of our kids.
It about kills me that I can't be there to love them up,  but at the same time the photo fills up my heart with gratitude.
Minerva, the oldest, looks great and is still going to school!






2/6/11

Light meets the dark

I have heard Christians say, when faced with the reality of sin in another human's heart,
 "I can't believe it. How could someone who appears so good do something so vile? " 
Why are we shocked by sin?
We should be deeply grieved over it as the Father is,
but why are we surprised when people do what is in their  nature to do?

We all have that sin nature in us. 
 We all have the option to coddle it,
 think about it, 
justify it, 
and  act on it.
Which nature will we feed, our new nature in Christ, or the old man that we should be dead to? The one we feed will inevitably win.

  Some people look at the world through lenses of black and white and categorize people accordingly.   With those lenses on, other humans are either God's perfect  showcase trophies confidant in their own merit... or they are utterly disgraceful and hopelessly irredeemable.  The two shall never cross.

We, as Christians, love to put people up on pedestals.
Then we become shocked and destroyed when they fall from it.  
Why don't we see our brothers and sisters as humans , capable of sin, given to pitfalls, and in need of accountability and encouragement?  
"Black and white" thinking doesn't account for when the "good Christian" is secretly wicked and the disgraceful wretch is on her knees at the foot of the cross. 
He is shiny and polished ...and she is stained and broken.
Which one understands grace?
Which one knows the heart of the Father?
Even the trophy Christian who shines his shoes, and lines up his kids for church every Sunday is nothing without grace.  He is no more than the beggar at Jesus feet.
When will we stop looking so intently on the outside and starting looking at the reality of what lies underneath?
Under the suit and tie  might be a broken  man shackled by the sin that he desperately hides.  
He needs grace.  He needs someone to see past the facade.  Someone to who can lead him back to the only one who can cast off  the chains.  
Behind the lipstick and pasted on smile might be a woman who is has no clue how to deal with the pain that threatens to overwhelm her. 
Honestly, 
We don't want to know.
It's  messy.   It's ugly,
but at the same time it is beautiful.
It is the fullness of grace.
We are engaged in a battle between darkness and light.   Deception and truth.  Freedom and bondage.
When our hearts filled with  darkness meet with the light of God's grace it creates something completely  new in us.
We should see people through those new eyes.
We will see something that can't be seen through the black and white lenses we proudly wear. 
God's eyes see through our walls, our works, our masks...

He knows the man ,or woman, that we hide underneath.
He's not shamed by your shame.
He's not deceived by your secrets.
He's not afraid of your fear.
He's not shocked by your sin.
He is there ready to take it and trade it for grace.

When we confess before God ,as well as others, it brings us face to face with our own sin.  We acknowledge the condition of our heart and stop hiding behind our mask of false righeousness.  We understand our need for the Savior and only then does the healing begin.  
Until that point, you can go on pretending, hoping no one will see who you really are....

 
"..When you come to where you're broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark

Afraid to let your secrets out
Everything that you hide
Can come crashing through the door now
But too scared to face all your fear
So you hide but you find
That the shame won't disappear

So let it fall down
There's freedom waiting in the sound
When you let your walls fall to the ground
We're here now.."

"...Sparks will fly as grace collides

With the dark inside of us

So please don't fight
This coming light
Let this blood come cover us
His blood can cover us"


Some thoughts from Tenth Avenue North on their song "Healing begins"










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