Saturday, December 24, 2011

Big. Best. Babies.

During big and memorable times of year, like say, the holidays, it's easy for me to get caught up in stressing about doing something bigger or doing something better.

God does huge stuff.  But when He sent Jesus, he showed up as a baby.  A teeny, tiny baby, born into one family.  In one little village, in one little corner of the world, touching just the neighbors, friends and strangers that happened by.  That's big?!

God does the best stuff.  But He knows that we don't.  Maybe that's why He gives us babies, children, little opportunities for redemption.  One child taken too soon, two to redeem and replace.  A little child, a new opportunity for grandparents and parents to love better or love like they weren't.  Little ones with so many needs that if you blow it once, a chance for redemption is probably just seconds away.

My little ones, they are straight from God, precious gifts, and a visible reminder of the little Child of God sent so many, many years ago.  Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Getting what I don't deserve

What if this is God’s message? Not a message that starts by pounding you over the head with guilt, but a message that catches you when you least deserve it and pours out love to win you? Maybe it’s obvious to the rest of you, but I didn’t grow up hearing that message, and the possibility of it has been eating at me for months now.

Two months of my salary was taken, and we were fuming. It was a small offense, I came to realize later, compared to losing all your belongings, having your body or mind taken from you, losing a child. But still, these words hit my previously “enemy-less” world with a thud.

"If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. Live generously.” (Jesus, Mt. 5:41-42)

If my wallet was stolen, I’d hardly think to chase the offender and hand him my husband’s wallet too. But it would mess with his mind for sure, and probably mine too. Jesus and his Father do this sort of thing over and over. There is justice, but there is way more grace. I never noticed, I never understood. I started to, and after a few months I sent a big flower bouquet instead of a lawyer.

I glimpse this again as John and I marked 10 years of marriage and again as we live near extended family for the first time. You blow me away when you do my dishes in spite of me snapping at you. You come to my house and clean up my messes, even though all I do at your house is make messes. We see each other’s crap because we see each other every day and there is no glossing over it. We are sometimes even hurt by it, and we either let the resentment and irritation build or give an unmerited double helping of love instead.

Every time I receive love instead of what I deserve, it stops me in my tracks, makes me consider grace and mercy, and points me to a loving God. When I give one person what they don’t deserve, I start seeing everyone around me a little differently, start being gentler with them.

My lost $2000 is pocket change. Being forgiven 70x7 times by you, more notable. Forgiving a murderer? Giving them a second chance?!? This stuff starts to shake me up. It’s radical. It’s different. I want to know more about the God that would inspire this insanity, the God who catches our attention by giving us what we don’t deserve, the God who tells us to give others what they don’t deserve.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I need you...

It's easy to wish that we could be there for each other more often, lived closer, were the best friend that got the call. At least for me...

But by definition "best" sort of implies one top dog, and if we were all each others best friends, well, it just wouldn't work out. Growing a little older, sending Christmas cards to the trail of states we've left behind, I'm appreciating more and more the tapestry of people that make my life happen, that make my life happy. I need each and every one of you, and I hope you'll stick around for a good many years.

I need you so that I have friends to stay with when I visit Fargo. Or Lincoln. Or Grand Rapids.

I need you to cheer me up when you smile and say a kind word as I parade my family around the grocery store.

I need you to talk about not going to church, so that years later I have a companion when I'm going to church less.

I need you to go out for drinks in the backyard or downtown suburbia, even if we just met, so we feel less lonely.

I need you to hold a family sing-a-long every year so that when I move back to town, I'm enveloped with a sense of my own family belonging to a larger one.

I need you to pick my daughter up from school so that I can go to work.

I need you to send me a birthday card every single year.

I need you to need me.

I need you to be an old friend so that whenever we meet up again, I don't have to explain my entire family history.

I need you to compete against in a friendly game. It's not everyone's cup of tea, you know!

I need you to be dependably by my side every single day.

I need you to have issues. So I know that my screaming child or depressed day or mistake are normal. And we can lift each other up with understanding when need be.

I need you to give me a big hug.

I need you to chat with while walking up or down the hill to school every day.

Now that I've started, this list could really go on for a very long time. So if I've missed you in these first few thoughts, don't even start to think that I don't need you.

Because I absolutely do.

Christmas splurge?

Live happens in neatly packaged (stressful!) semesters around here. One just ended, so I'm going to see if I can in indulge in putting a few of my scattered thoughts to "paper" here this break...