Posted in God

You Are Enough

Today you don’t have to think anything. Feel anything. Be anything. Today you just have to be you. And that is enough. Because you are enough. You don’t have to be skinnier. Prettier. Richer. Nicer. Cooler. More sophisticated. You don’t have to be what you think this or that person is, or the image they portray on Facebook. I didn’t create you to be them. I created you to be you. And YOU are enough.

Now, try to believe it. I know you can’t, because there is a voice deep inside your soul that says it’s not true. You aren’t enough. So you spend your life trying to become enough. But, that’s the lie of the broken, fallen world where you have grown accustomed. But I am above all that, because I am God.

You live in this microcosm, this matrix that you call reality and it looks and feels so massive to you. But don’t you see, it’s just a minuscule version of reality. I move and live within your reality because it’s what matters to you. And I love you, so I care about the things you care about. But, if you could see above your world, and above your reality, you would see just how little it all matters. And how, the things that make you feel so small and insignificant are so small and insignificant themselves.

But you–you are eternal. You are a princess. You are roaring lion that has the authority and the power to make the darkness tremble in your wake. You are an heir, you are a victor. You are a warrior.

adult art beautiful beauty
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

And here you wonder, if you are enough. If you knew who you really were, what you really were, the powers of darkness that hold you now, would run and hide cowering for the wrath and the power that is in you. Because I created you in my image. So you are enough.

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Posted in God, Life

Can You Handle It? Thoughts on Success

When I was young, I dreamed of success as a writer. I envisioned my life as a millionaire author by the time I was 25. And, in my college mind, my thirties would be spent running a media company, based around the many screenplay adaptations of my successful novels.

Oh, and somewhere in there, I had time to marry a rock star (that passionately loved Jesus), and raise two highly artistic children that had traveled the world with us based on my husband’s tour schedule. We had houses in Europe, and would bounce back and forth between countries as our demanding schedules permitted.

But, the problem was, I couldn’t even get my college term papers done on time. It didn’t occur to me then, that the two were related. So, as my twenties passed by, through tedious work, blood, sweat and tears pouring into a stop and start writing/receptionist/retail career, I didn’t understand.

Why wasn’t God giving me all the things He had promised me? Obviously, I knew that some of my dreams were just playful fantasy. But, the gist of those dreams, were so powerful in my heart, that I knew it was part of God’s plan for me.

It all hit me today. Today, I applied for this writing job. It would be making a lot more money than I’ve ever made, and would be a lot of work, but nothing I haven’t done before. And, I realized, everything I had worked for, was coming together in some way. Now, this job is hardly “the dream.” It’s just one more train car on the track to success. But, as I thought about the work it would require, I realized, I could completely handle this job–now.

If I had been given the same opportunity a decade ago, or even a few years ago, I would have floundered. I would have not had the self-discipline, or the organization, or have some of the practical job skills that would have made the job work. I had the raw talent, that had been pruned by some formal training, but those were not enough to allow me to succeed at this job.

And suddenly, so many of the questions of my life began to make sense. There is wisdom in that phrase, “working up to it.” God doesn’t give us success until we are ready to handle it.

So, that’s my question to you–can you handle success? If you were given the keys to everything you wanted, could you handle it? Or would you flounder? I don’t know. It’s an interesting question. My own answer isn’t a resounding, “yes.” Success comes in levels. I could handle some levels of what I am after, but if I were to put myself at the pinnacle of my own definition of success, I would have to say “no.” And God, in his infinite mercy, knew it all along, and all of these years, has kept me from falling flat on my tail.

Posted in God, Life

The Day of the Bunny Pants

I have declared today, The Day of the Bunny Pants. I love my bunny pants. There is something about them…I sort feel like whatever life throws at me, at the end of the day, there’s nothing that can’t be cured with my bunny pants and Netflix.

It’s been a stressful month. A stressful last couple of months, if I’m honest. From the personal aftermath of Hurricane Harvey (yes, we survived, but that was about it)….to an elongated and messy break up, and finding a new job, just to name a few…life has dealt me a pretty random hand this fall.

And I think my choleric nature has gone into overdrive. It screams daily that I need to spend every free minute cleaning up this mess. Every moment must be spent being productive, pushing my life forward. And, at this point, I think I’ve forgotten that I am not a worker bee. I am a free, independent person that deserves to have fun, happiness, and simply bask in the raw joy of living.

I read one time about how the colonial Puritans are responsible for the work ethic behind the American dream. They believed strongly in the Scripture, “If a man doesn’t work, he shall not eat.” That’s good thinking, but like any Scripture or teaching, it can be taken too far. The Puritans were certainly guilty of this. Since they were largely responsible for the foundation of American ideology, that sort of “work until you drop dead,” became a building block of our cultural thinking. And we have taken it to heart for the last two hundred years.

Culturally, we disdain those that inherited privilege, and admire those that worked from rags to riches. We love phrases like, “working their way up,” or “paying dues at the bottom.” And this all comes from our fundamental Puritanical paradigm.

But, is that paradigm right? Is that paradigm Godly? I head a story one time, I don’t know how true it is. But, apparently there are historical records regarding Jesus’ stepfather Joseph. He was commenting on his work ethic there in the carpenter shop. He called Jesus lazy, saying that he spent all his time talking to people. Jesus would purportedly give products away, making it hard for the shop to make money. I don’t know how true that story is, but it makes for interesting thought.

Is our Puritanical work ethic Godly? Certainly God intends us to work. He explicitly frowns upon laziness, and there is Scripture after Scripture about the Godliness of labor and toil. So, certainly we are to work. But, beyond laziness, I don’t think God intended for us to spend our lives working to pay for our lives. Perhaps that is a product of The Curse. Perhaps in God’s natural order, we are to simply enjoy life. So, I think, that as a redeemed person in a fallen world, we should strive to have both. Both joy and work coexisting in balance.

So, this is why, today, I am declaring it The Day of the Bunny Pants. Nothing productive will go on here today.

Posted in God

Five Minutes From Perfect

My life is about five minutes from perfect. Five minutes from being absolutely, divinely perfect. And I am petrified. I am scared that all it takes is one wrong move, and then everything will go toppling around me.

It’s ridiculous, I know. But, some of these roads I’ve been down before, and they tend to play tricks on me. I’m wiser now (I think. I hope) and I’m trying to remember those mucky, miry places that trip me up. Like the pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress, I’ve fallen prey here and there. And there goes everything I’ve worked for. Slip away. Start again. Start anew.

And now, here I am. Almost perfect. It’s a fallen world, so it isn’t right to have a perfect life, right? It’s somehow, against nature, it would seem. After all the missteps and muddy bogs I’ve fallen, surely this time it’s not for real, right? But, a girl can hope can’t she? And, I can see it. Just forward on the horizon. A glimmering city of gold, so close, that I can smell the luscious treats just on the other side.

And I am grateful. So grateful. My prayers everyday have been “please” and “thank you.” Thank you God, for this almost perfect life, and please, please God, let me keep it. Please don’t let me screw it up in my humanness.

I guess it’s all about trust. Learning to trust in God in and not myself. Learning to live day by day. And knowing it is by grace we have been saved, and not from ourselves.

That’s a hard lesson I’ve learned. Veteran church kids are taught that God loves good kids better. Now, we aren’t exactly taught that, but that’s what we hear, anyway. Be good, obedient, respect your parents. Keep your room clean. Obey your teachers. Study. Do your homework. Be as “perfect” as possible, and then pray for forgiveness when you aren’t. Don’t smoke. Don’t do drugs. Don’t hang around with people that do, to “avoid the appearance of evil.” Don’t drink until you’re 21, and then only in “moderation.” Follow all the laws (unless they conflict with God’s laws).  Don’t watch porn. Keep your bedroom door open when you have a date over. And on and on….

And somehow, we get the message that if we do all of these things, we’ll have more “credit” with God than other people. This will make God want to do cooler stuff for us than for other people. One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn was that’s not true. God doesn’t love me because I studied hard in school, and didn’t engage in underage drinking. He loves me because he’s God. And loving people is what He does. I still don’t quite have my head wrapped around all that yet. It’s a scary idea.

So, why, then, do we do good works? Why then, do we not sin? For two reasons–for one,  intrinsic value of it, I think. We do good works so that we will reap the benefits of good works. Study hard= Get good grades. We don’t sin, so that we don’t have the consequences. Don’t do drugs = escaping the mire that is a drug-addicted lifestyle.

Secondly, sin creates a wall between us and God. A wall in which we cannot hear his voice. We cannot feel him. We cannot discern his will. We cannot feel his love–which our souls desperately need. We are separated from God because of our sin. Something like, if you’ve angered or hurt your spouse or boyfriend, or girlfriend. You don’t quite feel “normal” inside, until you’ve made it right. Until that “wall” between you is removed. We don’t sin, because the more we sin, the bigger that wall gets, and the more distant you get from a God who loves you, and you need.

THESE are the reasons we do works, and don’t sin. To keep our relationship with God clean, and to stay away from natural consequences of sin. It is NOT to make God love us any more. It’s not to somehow manipulate God based on some sort of “works based accounting.”

And so, I conclude by saying, I’m learning there is nothing I can do to make God bless me. I just have to trust him. And that’s so hard. Because trust requires your whole heart. And when you’ve been burned by life, it becomes harder to trust. At least I think. Because there’s something in you that says, “But, God, you failed me last time.”  You have to keep reminding yourself that it wasn’t God that failed you. It was your inability to plan. It was your lack of self-discipline. Or, you didn’t fail at all, you learned and grew…and the list goes on. It’s hard to hear the truth. That’s why it’s easier to blame God.

So it is, on the edge of yesterday and today, that my life is almost perfect. And I just have to trust that it will stay this way.

Posted in God

God, Mel Gibson, and The American Revolution

A few weeks ago, I watched that movie The Patriot. I saw it once many years ago, but given the intensity of the topic, it’s something you don’t watch often. But, on this day, as I watched it I was overcome with some interesting thoughts.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, it’s a Mel Gibson movie about the American Revolution. Mel Gibson plays a single father of seven, living in South Carolina. He is a pacifist—certainly frustrated at the actions of the British government, but sees no desire to enter a bloody war. He thinks more diplomacy is in order.

But, his son, played by Heath Ledger, brings the fight literally to his doorstep, when he enlists in the Continental Army. So, the pacifist father must make a decision, and ends up leading a faction of rebel militia. Key scenes involve a Braveheart-esque moment on the battle field as Mel Gibson gallops into a throng of redcoats carrying an American flag, with a rebel yell.

And as I watched this scene, and the bloodshed on the battle field, I wondered what God thought about this moment in history. The movie made no small point of the horrid bloodshed of the war. In one battle scene, Heath Ledger watches from a window, and sees a teenage boy’s head blown clear off by a cannonball. In another, we watch Mel Gibson shoot a soldier partly responsible his son’s death, and then unleash his rage upon the corpse with a Tomahawk until his shirt was about as red as the British uniform. And so it goes…

As I watched this, I thought about these soldiers. How God is passionately in love with each and every person on the battle field. God knew every single soldier’s name, and delighted in their company. God knew their intimate thoughts, and knew everything that was good about them. So, did God weep for their loss? Did he mourn as they lay in a field, choking on blood, staggering their last breaths?

But, at the same time, Old Testament history shows God to be a warrior. He is constantly telling Israel to take cities, and conquer and plunder. He believed in battle, and war and fighting to “Take the land.” And of course, now, centuries later, we have seen the result of the American soldier’s sacrifice. An amazing country, a leader in the world. And we know that God’s grace is upon us. So, does that mean God sanctioned their cause? Did God condone the bloodshed that created our society?

And as I watched Mel Gibson’s horseback character, stars and stripes unfurling behind him, I was overcome with sentiment. These men were carrying a country. Did they feel the grace of God upon them? Did they know that they were birthing something? Did they know the freefalling sensation of being on the edge of something great, something beautiful. Did they really know, they were building something for their posterity? And was the hand of God upon them?

We think of God as this tender hearted, laughing, peaceful being that would never want us to hurt anyone…and that’s definitely a side of God. But, God is also a warrior. And whose side was he on in that war? And if he was on our side, did that mean he was against our enemies–who loyally fought for their own country?

 

Posted in God, Life

A Little Closer to Grace

Bowie was the last to die. Drawn and quartered by the pack. Snickers was decapitated, Mickey got run over. And God only knows what happened to the rest. But, someone had to pay for the crime. So the orange, shaggy dog took a bullet to the head. He took it as well as any I guess. Squealed, and then hobbled home like the wee little pig. He never knew what was coming, until the pain ripped through him. I just hope it was short, I wasn’t there, I just heard the bullet pop.

I still felt squeamish about the whole deal. The law of the jungle, I suppose. But, it seems like such a nasty affair.

We live in a fallen world, and nothing goes as planned. We are hybrid creatures, longing for love, yet mired in sin. There’s not room enough for us all to be loved, so we push each other around looking for love and acceptance, each one of us making a case for why we are more deserving of love than the other. And so it goes until the day we die. Life is a nasty, brutish mess.

I write about it all the time. The man who raped his girlfriend’s toddler, then went to a bar, stabbed a woman over a drug deal, then came home, stabbed his girlfriend, and then took a nap until the cops came. Or, what about the 18 year old that beheaded his mother with a butcher knife, and then answered the door to the cops, casually holding her severed head as if it were the television remote.

Then there are the perverted, like the teacher who put hidden cameras in the girls locker room, or the other teacher who was impregnated by her 13 year old student and then casually invited his parents for dinner. Or the trafficker who held a 14 year old runaway in a hotel room for three months, forcing her to pleasure hundreds of men, while the hotel staff said nothing of the johns coming in and out, the wastebaskets of used condoms they were pulling out of the room, or the scantily clad teen wandering the hall…

Or the Muslim extremists who force teen girls into slavery, and then tell them that if they go on this suicide mission, the bombs will not hurt them, and then they will be rewarded with freedom and a handsome husband of their choice.

Life is a brutish affair. And such a sordid mess, only God can sort us all out. That’s the beauty of the human condition. God is so gracious, he gives us shot after shot to get it right. And he works with us, time and and time again. Each time, he moves us a little closer to holiness, and little closer to grace. A little closer to something beautiful. And maybe that’s what it’s all about anyway. The beauty of Christ, shining against the mire of sin. So, we lean further and further into the grace of God.

The cats got off cheap I guess.