back to real life...

this pretty much sums up my last two weeks of winter break...

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it is so good to take a rest. a change of pace. or schedule.

but then it is also good to get back on schedule. live life with a bit more discipline. a lot less sleep. and to get some things accomplished. things like actually cooking dinner most nights. cleaning the house. not watching hgtv shows for hours.

this week will be a bit odd as i am leaving wednesday with maxx and his choral all state group to chaperone that trip to tampa. i haven't chaperoned any of the choral events and so it will be good to get to know his chorus teachers. not as intimately as i would have had i accepted the rooming situation offered to me. one chorus teacher. her husband. their baby. his mother. and another chaperone. all in a two room suite. ummm, "i think for the good of all concerned i will get my own room", was my response. i really meant, "so i don't end up killing anyone, i will procure my own space." i like people. i like babies. but i like sleeping even more than i like people and babies sometimes/most of the time/okay to be honest ALL of the time.

in the meantime i leave you with this article from the NYtimes... can forgiveness play a role in criminal justice? (you may have to register with the NYtimes to read the article but it is well worth it and won't cost you anything but the minute to fill in your email address.) the article is about two tallahassee families. one of which i know well. the mcbrides. julie teachers art at the elementary school where my kids went. the mcbride children went to vbs at our church. and i have always loved those kids. conor and i correspond frequently by mail and we are good friends. 

the article is heartbreaking. and uplifting at the same time. it is full of moments (as john piper spoke in his last sermon as a head pastor last week) that are "sorrowful yet always rejoicing." it is a picture of the gospel message as clearly as i have ever read in the NYtimes or any other newspaper...

rescue...

i love God. have you figured that out yet?

i love that He is a storyteller. because i love a good story. 

i love that He keeps telling the same stories over and over and over in so many different ways. because He knows that i need repetition. and help. and chai lattes.

and i love how ALL of us love His stories. even when some of us don’t realize that He is telling them.

case in point... (and i bet that EVERY GREAT and even the not-so-great christian bloggers have jumped on this one) but i will join in on the not-so-great side with the fact that ANYONE with a television and a soul was GLUED to the rescue of the chilean miners this week.

several tweeters tweeted ALL DAY AND NIGHT with updates every half hour or so. 

Transient

i cried every time i saw or read that another miner was out.

because God was telling a story.

the story He tells best. and often. the story of RESCUE...

let me tell you the story that i saw play out over and over on the television. just in case you had a life and weren’t watching it 24/7...

33 miners trapped in a dark place. a confined space. a dangerous place. they could improve that place. they could measure out their food. they could exercise. they could “live”. but we wouldn’t call it “living”. we called it “trapped in a mine”. “waiting to be rescued”. “must get them out”.

they couldn’t figure out a way out of that mine on their own. they didn’t have that kind of knowledge. power. strength. now they could only improve what went on in the mine. get along nicely with each other. sing songs. ration out food. read letters from above. they could “use their time wisely”. they prayed a lot. they prayed for rescue. 

then here comes a strange contraption into their midst. it looked like more confinement. in a smaller place. dang, that rescue capsule looked suffocating. but they trusted it. they got in. really, this is what you want me to do? trust in THIS? and they all did. one after another, trusting in something they couldn’t really see on a path that was dark and winding... through the rocks and hard places they traveled wrapped in safety. pulled along by hands they couldn’t see. something bigger than they were. another force at work.

one by one they were rescued. they came to a spacious place. not through anything they had done. not through all that nice rationing of food in the mine. that didn’t rescue them. it kept them alive IN THE MINE. but the point wasn’t to continue to live IN THE MINE. the point was to LIVE life in a spacious place. in freedom.

 psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
       he rescued me because he delighted in me.

and i loved this comment that i heard on the news, “they went in as miners and they came out as celebrities”.

because God tells a story about RESCUE and then He likes to follow that up with a story of TRANSFORMATION.

2 Corinthians 3:18 
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

transformation through the rescue. because i know what that feels like. because i came into this world as a mere human and after my rescue i come out as a child of the King. dark place. rescue. transformation. life to the fullest.

the news outlets couldn’t stop themselves from writing the story of the gospel over and over in the headlines...

“chilean miners taste freedom”. it tastes good doesn’t it my brothers of rescue?

“freed in a flawless rescue”. oh, He is flawless indeed my Rescuer.

“miners emerge to rejoicing and singing”. celebrations continue everywhere to this very day.

“rescue complete”.  praise God that it was finished long ago.

“the future of the mine is in question”. ummm, i think i might know what happens to that mine in the end...

what a great story. no wonder we all watched. and cried. 

some because we know what it feels like. and we look at the joy on those rescued miners faces and we know exactly how that feels.

some because they yearn to be rescued and don’t know to step into His arms.... yet. that contraption doesn’t look quite right to them. it isn’t modern enough. not proven by science. not attractive. they were hurt by something that looked like that once. it looks worse than where they are. but it is rescue. it is freedom. peace. joy. and a million other things that are Good.

and there are those who love their mine. it is all they know. it is home. cramped. but they have food. they have order. they like it there. they have a faint sense that there might be beauty, light, life somewhere far far away. but they can’t quite grasp that it is meant for them. it is just something they dream about at night and then can’t quite reason out during the day light hours spent still in the dark. organizing and perfecting their little world in the mine shaft. making the mine as “liveable” as they can. all the time defending the greatness of mine life. because it is their choice. to ignore the rescue so close at hand. right there. waiting. calling. opening the door to freedom. but don’t mention it to them. wouldn’t be politically correct to point out that rescue to anyone. 

the rocks will cry out the Truth. and sometimes so will our televisions sets. and cnn online.

keep those stories coming God. oh, i know you will.

i have your Word on it...

Romans 7:24-25 

What a wretched man I am! 

Who will rescue me 

from this body of death?

Thanks be to God-

through Jesus Christ our Lord! 

september 11th...

oh yes, one floridian’s plans for september 11th have gotten a lot of press coverage lately. and i am not going to add to that insanity by linking to any of it. 

because in my never humble opinion, the problem with that “christian’s” plans for september the 11th is that it is way too easy.

because he plans to burn.

burning is easy. isn’t it? light a match. put it next to something flammable and VOILA, fire. really, we have been doing it for thousands of years. even the youngest boy scouts learn how to set a fire. then they learn what the results of that fire are... because something winds up in ashes. and if the wind catches it just right, lots more things than you ever intended wind up in ashes.

so what will i, also a “christian”, be doing tomorrow? something harder than burning. i will be building. the same kindling that burns is also used to build. the same Bible that he reads tells me to use my faith to build.

so i will be doing the buddy walk for the down syndrome association of tallahassee. and i will link to that event.

Transient

you see our friends and neighbors, the tomans, have a daughter, claire (pictured above), with down syndrome. and claire rides to school with us everyday. she loves me in a way that far surpasses the way anyone other than Jesus has ever loved me. she thinks i am a rock star because i sing a song to her every morning with the day of the week in it. it isn’t a really clever song and i don’t sing it that well but she cheers for it so loudly that at times i feel like justin beiber must feel.

so tomorrow morning we walk in the buddy walk to build relationships with our neighbors. we walk to build a bridge of understanding, of community, of education, of support for those who know and love people with down syndrome. i walk because i want tomorrow to be a day of hope. a day when the sound of laughter is louder than the sound of burning timbers.

why build? it is harder. it requires getting up early on a saturday. of getting sweaty through working and walking and talking. it takes WAY more time than burning. and WAY more energy. and the results... well, not as quick as burning. not as certain. 

how do i know?

well,  i have burned way too many things in my life. i have taken the easy route and just burned things up with my words, my actions, my revenge, my selfishness, my need to be RIGHT and HEARD and do it MY WAY. i have seen the collateral damage. i have felt the flames and they have even turned and burned me and scarred me even when i thought i was doing something to make someone else hurt and feel the pain. i have smelled the smoke in my hair and in my clothes. i have singed my nostrils and burned off my eyebrows. i have been downright pyromaniacal. and it was easy. fast. certain. resolute. 

oh yes, i know how to burn.

so on september 11th, i will choose to build. in such a small small way that i wonder if anyone will ever see any results from it. but i choose the joy of hard work. the joy of walking hand in hand with friends, family, and strangers. the building of one brick at a time. one log. one board. one nail. one window. one door.

do i write all this because i think i am “better” than that other floridian. nope. just worried for him. worried that this might singe his eyebrows off before it is all said and done. worried because i know that pyromania is addictive and fire spreads.

perhaps i am a bit wiser. i have been shown a “better way”. by someone who liked to build. because He is a Carpenter. you should see what he can do with two boards and some nails (yeah, that one might have been over the top). but He might just be able to tell us a thing or two about how to build...

 1 corinthians 12:31 - 13: 13
And now I will show you the most excellent way.
If I speak in the tongues  of men and of angels, but have not love, 
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, 
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, 
but have not love, I gain nothing.
 Love is patient, love is kind. 
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 
it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. 
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; 
where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. 
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

if you want to make a donation to our team, i am sure you can click here and do that... (our team name is the TOMANATORS. isn’t that a GREAT name? i wouldn’t walk unless our team had a cool name like that...) 

so please figure out how you can BUILD something tomorrow. something small. or something HUGE (but just don’t show me up, that would make me mad). build something that will last long after the smoke clears...