l e n t :: day8_might

day8_might

One of the daily emails I pop open for morning guidance or encouragement is Christine Caine’s First Things First.  It’s generally a short Scripture verse or passed followed by a quick paragraph or so from Christine, a prophet, preacher, and slave-freer.  I didn’t get to that email until tonight, after spending all day mulling over the word might:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

I simply want to reiterate what King Solomon is saying in this verse — whatever you are doing right now, do it with everything you’ve got.

 As I’ve thought about might today, I considered asking Jeff to take a photo of my torso, each of my arms wrapped around a sick, slobbery, feverish girl as we sat in the recliner.  It takes all of my 1393835_10202065407014443_1030526690_nmight to make it through these seasons of sickness.  I debated pulling up an old favorite image of my parents, the mightiest folk I know.  But for some reason I was drawn to these roots today, so click it’s what I took.

Then reading those two short sentences on my computer screen.  I’ve been struggling recently, feeling like I’m not giving my all.  That serving my family without a strong role in my church or in a workplace or in my greater community just isn’t enough.  And while I do feel continued stirrings that something is on the horizon and new roles will be ushered in, I am reminded that my sick days on the couch with wee ones watching Meet the Robinsons, The Iron Giant, and The Pagemaster (a nice change of pace chosen by my princess-loving daughter!) not just require all of my might but should be honored by my might.  While it’s necessary gritty, it’s also a gift.  While 4pm always hits like a brick, it’s another 4pm opportunity to empty myself to give love to some uncomfortable people.

So tomorrow, when I’d rather give my might planning a shmancy event, or sipping tea with my spiritual director, or formulating an internship program, or creating a budget, or organizing a Good Friday service, I will put my running thoughts down with my S5, and do this mom-ing, laundry-ing, cook-ing, household-ing thing with everything I’ve got.

What are you doing today?  What do you need to let go of to be present with all you’ve got?

l e n t :: day7_go

day7_go

So much go in life.  Plenty articles and stories and studies exist discussing our current culture’s obsession with go-ness: our self-worth built upon the number of full slots in our calendar, or feeling like losers if we are available for a new Friday night plan on Friday afternoon, or assuming that those who only work a 40 hour work week are not working enough, or (my favorite) making our employees feel guilty for taking a day off.  But most of us know we need more slow and a little less go.  But how can we choose to embody that choice this season?  If it’s difficult for you to naturally find slow space, schedule slow space—mark next Wednesday evening as unavailable and have a date with your favorite book.  Attempt to recognize that your needs, be they an introverted desire for still quiet moments in your bedroom or extroverted needs for a lingering dinner conversation, are ok to pursue.  Take a day away – from work or children or stressful relationships—and spend time in beauty.

As a friend put it, how can we go join in with Christ on His journey to the cross?  This season, stop and greet the bystanders—be they humans, flowers, or music.

l e n t :: day6_settle

day6_settleset·tle

   ˈsedl/,  verb

  1. resolve or reach an agreement about (an argument or problem)
    1. “every effort was made to settle the dispute”
    2.   synonyms: resolve, sort out, solve, clear up, end, fix, work out, iron out, straighten out, set right, rectify, remedy, reconcile; informal patch up
      1. “they settled the dispute”
  1. adopt a more steady or secure style of life, especially in a permanent job and home.
    1. “one day I will settle down and raise a family” 

 

For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth.

Psalm 119:89-90 KJV


He changes rivers into a desert, springs into thirsty ground, and fertile ground into a layer of salt because of the wickedness of the people living there.  He changes deserts into lakes and dry ground into springs.  There he settles those who are hungry, and they build cities to live in.

Psalm 107:33-36 God’s Word


The biggest human temptation is to settle for too little.

Thomas Merton


“Get ‘Em Settled”

Title of an article in Beef Magazine discussing how to ensure impregnation of young heifers 


If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

Jim Rohn


If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”

What does “settle” mean to you?  What definition speaks your language?

l e n t :: day4_injustice

day4_injustice

Justice can only exist when we stop building fences.  When complacency and apathy and American self-preservation and arrogance take a back seat (or perhaps jump completely out of the car) to compassion, empathy, a true embodiment of the Golden Rule, and the permeating concept of us FOR them verses us OR them.  When we decide that the war against slavery is worth more anger and awareness-spreading than the downfall of church décor and repetitive worship choruses.  When we realize that if we opened our doors to orphans that there wouldn’t actually be any orphans.  When we would value things (and vote for them with our dollar and lifestyle!) like healthy food and smart healthcare over entertainment and having a house as lovely or as large as our neighbor.  When poverty or OHMYWORD sin wouldn’t just disgust us but bring us to share and love and invite and pray and dance with more than just our better-than-ness.  I realize that I am a wee bit frustrated today but frustration is most often what moves us to action.

What frustrates you?  What injustice will move you to action?

l e n t :: day3_look

day3_look“We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.”

The Message, 1 Corinthians 13:9-15

At what are you looking today?  In your squinty view, what do you see?

l e n t :: day2_voice

day2_voice

Voices.  Some voices I hear too often, like the constant three-and-a-half-year-old storytime intermixed with eighteen month old almost-words.  Don’t get me wrong—I love my hilarious ladies and am grateful that I was able to conceive, give birth, and watch these incredible little women grow—but sometimes it is overwhelmingly loud.  And then there’s my own voice – I’m not sure I ever shut up! (No comments necessary on that one.)  I pursue, even crave or weep after, other voices though: God, my mentors and spiritual mamas and papas, my husband Jeff, dear friends.  Recently the microphone on my cell has been pooping out.  I keep getting told no one can understand me on the phone.  In a way it has cause me to realize 1) how necessary a functioning phone is today and 2) how much we long for clear voices.  This Lenten season, as in all seasons, I have many questions as my family pursues new things and continues to understand our call here on the farm, St. John’s parish, and North-Central Indiana in general.  I long for God to just pick up the phone and give me an answer.  It must just be that God’s microphone is broken too!  But Lord knows I’d be less likely to follow if it were that easy—take for example lying, or lust, or coveting.  Those are clearly no-nos but I fall into them easily.  But when I quiet myself and listen slowly, clarity is sometimes revealed.

Today’s challenge: live without clarity in a broken microphone world.  I guess you would call that trust.

l e n t :: day1_gather

My birthday/Christmas present this year was a lens upgrade and I’ve been wanting to pick up my camera a bit more—not to join the leagues of professional photographers but to be able to capture memories of my family and natural beauty along the journey.  I’ve also been meaning to write quite a bit more but you can just check my blog to see how often that’s happened (hint :: not).  So, as a part of my Lenten rhythms, I am doing rethinkchurch.com’s Lenten Photo A Day Practice.

day1_gather

gather

It would be easy to snap a photo of the seven people chowing down on our meatless dinner meal.  Or grab a quick shot walking into St. John’s gym this afternoon for the ecumenical ashes service.  Don’t even get me started on the IF : Gathering last weekend and pictures I could take of my domino from this year, or my rock from last year, or the bracelet I wear daily that says nothing but “IF” on it, or the email I received from a woman who shared that she went to church for this first time in years because of her experience at IF.  But today I tidied up my sewing space in my Grandma’s basement and all I could think about when pondering the word “gather” was in reference to sewing.  To gather fabric is to stitch two threads onto a piece of fabric and then pull one tight, causing the fabric to bunch together.  Said fabric is generally a longer piece gathered to attach to a short piece.  Skirts, dresses, shoes, curtains, upholstery—fabric is I’m sure gathered all over your home.  We gather fabric to make it fuller.  Comparatively, we gather people close to us to make our life more full.  One of the first things you learn is a big no-no when it comes to gathering fabric is that you better not have too short a thread.  If your thread is too short, you can’t tie a knot on one end or have enough thread on the other to pull.  Or, if you don’t knot one end well, you’ll just pull the thread right out of its stitches.  Long thread.  Much thread on one side of the gather.  Much thread on the other side of the gather.  So as I enter into this season of Lent, begun by gathering with my church community to remember our journey from dust, I am reminded that I can’t have too short or too loose a thread.  And how do I grow my thread, tighten my attachment to the whole, have myself cared for and prepared to play my role in my community, in my gather?  Contemplation.  Spiritual Direction appointments.  Date nights.  Family game nights.  Discipline.  Reading.  Laughter.  Worship and prayer.  Smart food choices.  Even smarter technology choices.

So, friends, how will you grow and tighten your thread this Lenten season?

love, like me

Let me share a short story about Jesus with you:

And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:10-13

I’ve been having many conversations about what it means to be in community with people. To love people.  Especially those outside our lifestyle, culture, our compatible Enneagrams or general understanding.  What is discrimination, how the word has evolved now into its deeply hurtful meaning.  Previously, discrimination meant only recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.  And then, as humans, we regularly decide, over and over and over, that different means bad or unworthy or ugly or out of place.  Now, discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, religion, age, culture, sex, style.  We see the poor use of discrimination ALL. OVER.  I don’t need to list where.

But I do want to discuss one place. The church.  I’m not talking about how your pastor relates to the people in the community, rather how the people in the community relate to the church that they choose.  We go to churches based on finding like-minded people, or we want to “be fed”, or perhaps we want more friends in our age group and it comes down to either a church or bars (personally, why not church in a bar??).  The question that keeps rolling around and around in my head and heart: is this how it is supposed to be?  As we church-hop, we use the old-fashioned discrimination: this church worships with this music, while this one chooses to practice infant baptism, while this one encourages declaring and claiming.  We recognize and understand the difference between one and the other.  But perhaps we look at our brothers and sisters in our various denominations with too much of that second understanding of discrimination: unjust treatment based on differences.

I was raised in a Roman Catholic church by charismatic parents who didn’t (and don’t) believe in all that the Catholic Church teaches.  In college, I began attending a Vineyard community in Holland and was a “Stakeholder” there until our move.  If you don’t know much about one or the other (and I mean really know versus what you think based on your distant interpretation), I encourage you to look into them.  There is great beauty and reverence in each group of Christ-followers.   My deep engagement in the different communities brought me to a great appreciation for the many faces of American Christianity.  As an upper teen, I began to question the necessity of such division though in the current Church.   I’m not just talking about denominational differences either: the Church is separated by race, socio-economic levels, food preferences, worship preferences, the list goes on and on and on…

Back in June, I co-taught at our old church with my mentor.  We spoke about unity.  That sermon still simmers in me almost daily.  In looking at the Old Testament use of the Hebrew word for unity, “Yachad”, I was struck by the use in Psalm 19:9:

“The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.

The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them (yachad) are righteous”

 All of God’s laws, in unity, are righteous.  We cannot piecemeal together a story of truth, or grab pieces that we like and toss the others.  And as I thought about God’s people, all people really, I was challenged in that we cannot grab hold of the people in the Church that we like and toss the others.  God’s word, and God’s law, and the Covenant, Old Covenant fulfilled by the New Covenant, gathered and glorified as a whole are righteousness, are completion, are beauty beyond all compare.  I believe this is what God’s desire is for the Church.  That in its unity we find righteousness.

So let’s look beyond the division of denomination to the division of persons.  Our culture teaches us how a person is to look or how a person is to act.  But that’s just culture.  When it comes to morality or law, I believe we are given Scriptural understandings of right and wrong.  But the Christian faith leaves much room for cultural variation.   In fact, I would say we are encouraged in Scripture to dive right in to the cultures and lives variant from our own as Jesus and Paul were prone to do.

I was recently encouraged to be immersed in the ways, works, and words of Jesus (Thanks Jo Saxton!).   I’ve been reading through the Gospels, slowly, but thoroughly soaking them up.  Return with me to the story I shared at the beginning of my word-vomit-of-a-post:

And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.  And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I also recently heard someone say that your friends need you most not when they’re right but when they’re wrong.  Not when Matt9imgthey’re joyful, but when they’re full of sorrow.  If we only pursue relationship with those like us, considering the others to be “less than”, I think we’ve lost t
he message of Christ.  I am not saying that each of us should go out and become besties with the woman we don’t like  because she’s the woman we don’t like, but I beg you, begin to tear down the walls that you’ve created and be open the possibility that you COULD be besties with the woman you don’t think you like.

Or maybe.  Considering that God would call you into a church community with people that carry different theological beliefs than you (ya know, beyond the Creed theological beliefs).

Or maybe.  Considering that God would want you to dialogue with your family member who dresses and adorns differently than you.

Because when I look at Jesus, I can see no excuse for not inviting people into our life.   For not welcoming those who aren’t comfortable with our lives  as we similarly  cancarry discomfort in theirs.  So come with me and look at Jesus.  Pursue a life of mercy.  Our Teacher initiated and reciprocated relationship with the “less thans” and “outsiders” of his time.

So know the words.  Imitate the ways.  Believe in and observe His works, then, now, always, in those like you and those not.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.

And what does the Lord require of you?

To act justly and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8



“I praise you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to the infants.  Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in your sight.”

Matthew 11:25

Reis Eliana : July 2014

Lord, I beg thee.  Make me humble like an infant, on my knees reaching for yours in submission and surrender and total dependence on your revelation and provision.  Help me to not raise myself by stepping on others based on anything—on anything!!  Let me see each person through the eyes of your heart and not the lens of my culture and own selfishness.  Let it be so. 

 

Risk | Broken chains, thin gold threads of grace, and unchippable paint

I am teaching a literature class this year for three home schooling families—a family I just met, a family I grew up with (and my mom had early hopes of me marrying into), and my family (my first cousin).   We just finished four weeks on Fahrenheit 451 and we discussed the risk(s) that Guy Montag is willing to take for that which he believes is important for society.  We also looked at Faber, and his fear of taking risks.  The kids/students/young adults/young ‘ns (PC Fairy, please help me!) each wrote an essay on what they would risk for something they believe is important.  I LOVED their responses, reading their heart poured out on two pieces of black and white paper—we want to do THIS because THIS is worth it.

Last year as I saw God moving in crazy ways in my friends’ families, Jeff and I started asking God what are we supposed to be doing that we’re not.  Is it time for a change in any area of life?  We went piece by piece through our life—Jeff’s job, my job(s), our church, our finances, our house, our cars, our entertainment, our growing family.  And then obviously we moved from our complacency among Dutch tulips to struggle near highways lined with corn and billboards for carpet FROM THE COB (direct quote, friends).  As I sat in a session during the IF : Local Leaders Gathering a phrase kept ringing in my ears: The days of complacency are over.

So I say to you, friends and strangers, THE DAYS OF COMPLACENCY ARE OVER.

I prayed “Anything, God!” and now I must daily live in the repercussions of the risk we took.   And I struggle.  But I choose to believe that the risk is worth the fullness of life and liberty yet to come.  I have seen a beautiful vision of large chains wrapped around the barns of this community, breaking, no—shattering, down upon the earth, sending a dust storm that covers everything in grey.  But out wind these small, glimmering threads of grace green that grow into blossoming fields, and the implements shine with this paint so impeccable you know you could shoot it with bullets or kick it with steel-toed clodhoppers or write with your Grandma’s biggest diamond against it and it would. not. chip.  And so I cling to that promise when it would be easier to run from the knowledge of love, of the God in the doorway.   It would be easy to say I have risked enough.  I pray, “God, here is my family but please, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease, do not take them.”  For I fear the risk, for I am Faber, aware and convicted, but not sure how to step out into the hope that knowledge and revelation have given us.

I ask myself WHY? Today, I pushed a student, asking him over and over again, why, why, why? Why did you respond that way to the character?  Why do you think that impacted you so?   So, turn the tables, teach: Why are you responding this way?  Well, because I like comfort.  I would rather choose the Christians I like to live in community with then embrace any and all the people around me.  Because I would rather sip on wine with a safe best friend than set a table for new relationships.  Because I like that my checking account actually has more money in it than what is needed for one month’s living.

But you know what’s better than easy friends, wine and money?  Broken chains, thin gold threads of grace, and unchippable paint.     jhtrisk

I am burdened by this incredible vision of fullness and beauty that can come from God alone.  A friend reminded me today of Moses and his story with the Israelites: Can you images how frustrating it must have been to come down from the mountain after these unimaginable experiences with God to find that his friends, his family, his community had chosen something easier once again?  Because they didn’t understand the ways of God and were frustrated by it?  LET US NOT BE THAT WAY.  Let us not choose what looks to be the easy road and instead choose the road of fullness and intimacy and mystery.

So I ask you: what are you willing to risk to break the chains in your family, to nourish the sprouts of new life just itching to pop through the dust of your home, to embrace an outer layer that God has deemed so beautiful and FULL and shining that no earthly edge can penetrate?

Murky Clarity || More Transitions #IFLEAD2015

My hope was not left unfulfilled.  If you offer God your everything, God will joyfully pick you up, shake you up, take what you have offered, and expose more than you thought you had to begin with.  Well.  At least that is how I am experiencing it.

20150913_165615-1

The IF:Local Leaders Gathering created space for me to listen to the Lord.  Many people, especially my mom, continue to ask us: What is your purpose here?  Why are you back on the farm?  We have had no answer.  Sure, we’ve received a variety of words and of course we have desires but no real answer.  Make a lot of sense, right?  We’re not odd at all.  But, like I shared earlier, I had great hope for revelation during these last days.

It came.

And now I feel heavy.  I feel urgency.  I feel great responsibility.  I feel fear.  But I am grateful!  I came with a question (or 153,628,000 questions) and I came home with answers.  Last night, I shared into the late night hours with Jeff, my parents, and my mother-in-law, Liz.  While it was great to share, it seemed they didn’t quite understand the depth of the…words.  How do you explain such intense clarity that isn’t a program? that isn’t a how-to?  that is years of story and experience and desire and fear rolled into an intense culmination of vision and reconciliation and restoration and yet, still incredible fear?  That once again is — watch out! Change is a coming.  Not everyone likes change.

Perhaps my language was poor.  While I obviously started this blog, I do not consider myself a writer.  I am not gifted with words; I’m just a sharer.  I have no desire to figure out life alone and I want to invite others in to comment and encourage and prune.  Dangerous, sure, but necessary.

Or maybe, it’s not meant to be understood yet.

As the days roll by, I’ll share what I believe will be direction for our family-for our little unit and for the folks who call this farm their home.  I should probably make sure Jeff and I are together before I share with the e-world all that’s on my heart.  🙂

But before I sign off–Margie, Rebekah and Caitlin: Thank you for words of encouragement and for reminding me of love.  You get it.  And few will be able to approach the changes I feel I am about to embark on the way you will, and have.  I feel heavy but you help carry the burden, in a unique way. Thanks for being my team! You were already lighting fireworks before you even got home.

IMG_0247

And to the staff, board, volunteers, local leaders, and friends of IF:  Thank you for exhausting yourselves to push us toward the Lord and true discipleship.  You encourage us by example to do anything.  I appreciate your stories and hearts and continual pursuit of real life and bringing folks to Jesus’ ways, words, and works.  Thank for you sharing with us great tools.

Psalm 126

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them

%d bloggers like this: