Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our God is Greater - Chris Tomlin

We are in the middle of a great adventure, one that God has invited us to undertake, one that has been filled with great challenges.

The journey will continue to be difficult, we know. This song has touched me, and perhaps you need to hear it as much as I did.

I have not disappeared. I promise

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Prince of Egypt

I had forgotten I had it.

That is, the VHS tape of the movie The Prince of Egypt.

It came out while I was in seminary, and I saw it in the theater.

And that was it.

After seeing that movie, I was fully and completely in a crisis of faith. It was the Passover scene that did it, really. It was just too hard for me to see an actual (albeit animated) reinactment of the killing of Egypt's children by the "passing-over" Spirit of God. I know, I know, they were oppressors, and their violence against others and unwillingness to listen to God and free the people resulted in the Passover, but still...

Seminary itself already shakes the foundations of your faith. All I needed was this movie--and I fell.

After a long conversation with my Old Testament professor the next week, I came to terms and peace with God and the Bible again, and my faith returned, but not without a "dark night of the soul."

I'm honestly not sure why I then obtained the VHS tape of this movie, or why it ended up later with my sister.

But this past week, she brought it back to me. And, while "Jed" stayed with her in her new classroom while she set it up (she's a teacher) and I went to do some work in Columbia (supply-getting and hospital-visiting), she let him watch it. I knew she would. I didn't try to stop her. But I felt kind of funny about it.

Since then, he's wanted to watch it 4 times.

I don't know how I feel about this.

I have watched it with him several times, stopping to explain various things in the best way I can, but it's hard.

So I wonder--what do (or did) you who also raise (or who have raised) your children in faith and knowledge of the Bible tell your children about the "texts of terror," the stories where God smites people, and people kill people, and the Lord seems scary?

I know what I say, and I'd be glad to share.

But it's hard. And since God is the Great Mystery, I am so afraid I'm saying the wrong things, or things that might scar my child in ways that would not please Christ, or be true to Him.

So I'd like to know what you say to your children about these things.

Please comment below, if you're willing to share!

Wayfaring Pastor: Wayfaring Stranger - Selah

My friend and colleague Mike just posted this on his blog earlier today. I liked it, and thought I'd share. Maybe it will touch you where you are, too.

Wayfaring Pastor: Wayfaring Stranger - Selah

Monday, July 19, 2010

Missing "LaLa"

On July 4, one of her favorite days of celebration, my mother-in-law joined the greatest celebration imaginable--around the throne of God.

After a whole morning and afternoon of having music played for her from the laptop she used in the hospital (everything from a version of the 23rd Psalm to "Amazing Grace" to our son's "1st recording" of "Jesus Loves Me" on YouTube), we finally played a song she loved, and had requested for her funeral. That song was "I Can Only Imagine" by MercyMe.

She was breathing as the music began. But with the the first words, we who were beside her looked at her again. She had slipped away. She no longer had to "imagine" the moment described in the song. She knew the glory of that time.

Now, just over 2 weeks later, her family is missing her a great deal.

"LaLa" gave her all to parenting her three children: my husband and his younger brother and sister. She took care of the husband she married at age 18 for 43 years. But the greatest joy of her life came with the births of her grandchildren...6 of them. It was with the first that she took on her new name. As a toddler, he was the first to call her "LaLa," because of the way she sang to him all the time.

On Wednesday, we will mark 2 weeks since the worship celebration of her life. It was grand...a celebration of who she was.

And I'm still giving thanks to God for bringing me into this family so I could know her, love her, be loved by her, and watch her love my child, for 7.5 years. She was a teller-of-the-truth-as-she-saw-it, a fun-lover, a lover of life, an adventurer, a Christian, a loving mother and grandmother, a care-taker, and quite a fighter through her 4.5-year battle with cancer.

She is missed, and she will be for quite some time. But thanks be to God for Judy, "LaLa," and her witness of faith, fight, and love. Thanks be to God for all the prayers and love that have come our way in this difficult time. And thanks be to God for the promise of eternal life with her and all the others who have gone before us in life and faith.

I hope you you enjoy the pictures of the time she and "Jed" shared...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To "Anonymous"

As I sat here in the hospital room with my mother-in-law and and family a few minutes ago, I took a moment to check my e-mail. To my surprise, I discovered that at least one person is still reading this blog. Unfortunately, you have chosen to keep your identity "anonymous."

But whoever you are, if you're still reading, I want you to understand (though I rejected your comment and it will not show up on my former post) my understanding of God and prayer.

I do NOT in any way "blame disease or government incompetence on not praying enough or properly" (in your words). I do NOT subscribe to ANY understanding of God or God's work in the world that DOES blame terrible things on "not praying enough or properly." To do so would NOT make me feel better, and would indicate that I believe in a God not of wholeness, peace, and grace, but of terror.

Instead, what I believe about prayer and God is this:

Prayer is a gift that invites us into, and allows us to maintain, relationship with the God whose will and work are always for our wholeness and peace, and for justice and peace in the world.

True prayer is the equivalent of open, full, and honest communication between a parent and child, or two lovers.

The God I worship is all-loving and wants to be in real relationship with us.

The God I worship did NOT create chaos, disease, division, or government incompetence. That all came from somewhere else.

The God I worship has overcome the power of all of that life-stealing stuff through the self-giving of Christ (who himself was God become flesh out of love for us, to share humanness with us and offer us life eternal in and with God).

Through the gift of prayer, the God I worship reveals healing and resurrection in powerful ways to God's children.

The God I worship will ultimately eliminate all of the life-stealing stuff in the world and make all things right and whole forever. Though I can't explain why that hasn't already happened, I know that God touches us even in the midst of pain to bring wholeness and peace, and I am thankful for that. I do continue to pray for the day of peace and wholeness, and redemption of all creation, to quickly come.

And by the way,
my mother-in-law is now actively dying. Her death will release her from pain and bring her a peace she has not known in some time. And if the government had worked the way it was originally "supposed to" according to our human plan, we wouldn't be able to be here now...we'd be in Russia instead.

So perhaps, in God's mysterious love, this holy time was protected for us to be HERE NOW...even maybe through some "government incompetence." Who knows? I just embrace the mystery and praise God that I can feel the mystery of divine grace.

I also pray that you, and all of the children God created, can also one day feel that mysterious grace. There's nothing more beautiful, or life-giving.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Prayers

There is so much pain in the world, all the time.

But sometimes the deep pain touches closer to home than others.

RIGHT NOW, my mother-in-law is lying in a hospital room in the cancer center of a major regional hospital. This past Friday, she became unresponsive right in front of my eyes, the eyes of my husband, and the eyes of our five-year-old son. Though she is now out of that particular area of the woods, she is very tired of fighting a 4-and-a-half-year battle with an uncurable disease. But she's only 62 years old, and she needs to see her grandchildren all graduate from high school and college!

RIGHT NOW, our second son (who will turn 3 on October 4) is waiting for us to return for him. He is in a "baby house" in Russia with 89 or so other children under the age of four. He has a picture book of our family, a toy phone to "call us" on, and the promises of his caregivers that we are coming back for him. But we can't get to him, because the U.S. government (Citizenship and Immigration Services) has declared that they have until the end of July to process our application and issue their approval for us to adopt this child. They've also said that there's nothing we can do to speed that process up, even though we first submitted our application to them in December. And all we want is to go to Russia and pick up our child, love on him, introduce him to his big brother, and bring him home. RIGHT NOW.

RIGHT NOW, my sister in Christ, friend, and clergy colleague Narcie (a 30-year-old campus minister, wife, daughter, sister, and mother to a 1.5-year-old and a just-now-3-year old) is preparing to have brain surgery to remove a tumor that was found a week and a half ago. She will go in for this surgery on Friday.

You can read Narcie's journey, and share your prayers with her and her father, by following their blogs here and here. I hope you will join me in praying for them.

These, among a few other painful situations for those I know and love, are the soil from which most of my prayers are growing right now.

Or maybe the word is not growing, but "groaning," which is (I believe) one way of interpreting what the Holy Spirit does within us since, or when, we "don't know how to pray as we ought." Come to think of it, there's a lot of stuff I need to hear in Romans 8, which is a passage another dear friend of mine from divinity school used to pray in its entirety, from memory, when her Chron's Disease or Multiple Sclerosis would have her doubled over in pain.

It seems like there's a lot of stuff from Paul in that particular part of that particular letter about suffering and "waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies." And there's something else about groaning in labor pains while we wait for the revealing of glory and God's children in there, too, isn't there? Perhaps I'll go read Romans 8 one more time. Maybe you'll join me in that, and in prayer...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"We Are the Truth"

As you know, we are trying to adopt.

We are trying to adopt, ironically (considering international news of the past week) a little boy named Artyom from Russia. He is not 7, but 2 1/2. We consider him to already be our son, and we are very concerned that our process may be interrupted by this horrible action committed last week by a woman in Tennessee.

If you'd like to be a part of advocating for continued international adoption, which I sincerely believe is a movement of the Holy Spirit in the world, and/or you have an adoption story to share with the world, please consider this "Call to Action" from the Joint Council on International Children's Services.

Please click here and read how from a fellow adoptive parent:

Call to Action