The Heaven in His Eyes.

bible memory match

bible memory match

I played Bible Memory Match-up game with my kids this morning.

I know what you’re thinking: Of course you did, you’re a pastor’s wife, but he truth is, that I don’t generally buy or immerse my kids in “christian” versions of things and here’s why:

I don’t want them to grow up thinking that everything not labelled Christian is bad, or not for them or that things labelled “christian” are necessarily true. I want them to learn how to relate to the actual world around them and not the sterilized church version they could have if I keep them in a bubble… and I want them to ask questions about the truth in things.

I mean, we’re talking about a memory game here, but on principle I don’t generally like the Christian versions of things because it feels like we, the church, are cloistering ourselves off from the “rest of them” when I am pretty sure that’s who Jesus wants us to be hanging out with.

When it came time to clean up the game I noticed the “Jairus’ Daughter” card, then an old song hit me smack upside the head, hard. So hard that I stopped what I was doing to sit down with a basket of laundry and listen to it.

Instead of watching Netflix…. I know, right?

But I didn’t fold laundry, I just listened to it with goose-bumps everywhere and an unfolded pair of pants in my hand.

Then I played it again.

The song is called “Heaven in his eyes” by Rich Mullins. and if you click the link you can listen to it on you-tube. It’s scratchy because it was recorded on a tape player in an old church nine days before the man singing died in a terrible car accident.

In keeping with the lack of Christian paraphernalia around the house, I don’t listen to a lot of Christian music. Continue reading

Clara’s Dedication

This post is late. Months late. But I wanted to post it, because when I looked online for ideas of what to speak to a child at their dedication, I didn’t find much. So I wanted to share the letter we read to sweet Clara in front of our friends and family on the day she was dedicated, March 1, 2015. 

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It was a busy, snowy day in March. We woke up in Dowagiac, did church, jumped in the car, stopped home (Grand Rapids Home) to change and then pulled in to the parking lot at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville for Clara’s dedication service.

We were spread thin from the business of the day and the service had been cancelled once before due to weather. We rushed into the room where the service was to be held and met up with family while I quickly changed the tiny lady of the hour into her dedication dress and tights.

Then all of the sudden it was time to get started and the officiant from church stood before us and spoke in to life what it meant to dedicate a child to God, as a community, as a family.

Continue reading

The Parable of the Exploding Ketchup.

Hey all, I’m really excited to be guest posting at The Mudroom today. The Mudroom is a lovely blog collective that focuses on making room for people in the midst of the mess. My kind of place, think I’ll hang out there more often.

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We pulled out of the zoo and immediately they started asking for more.

Can we go out for Ice cream?!”  “Can we go out for dinner?!”   Oh please Mom! Oh please!”

We’d just spent hours traipsing around the zoo, petting the wallabies, climbing the wooden train and tracking down the tigers.

We weren’t there for me. I mean we were, but you know . . . not really.

As our sticky, crumb-infested mini van pulled out of the parking lot, my husband looked at me . . . “I’m not going to tell them ‘no’ about dinner. What do you think?”

I have a meal plan in place at home, but whatever you want, baby.”

Let’s flip a coin, Mom! Heads is dinner at home and tails is a restaurant!”

It was a very expensive tails.

We decided on a local brewery, because we live in Grand Rapids, beer city USA, and any restaurant that lasts either is a brewery or supports local beer culture.

We walked in and I scanned the trendy dining room, full of local art and hipster beards. I sighed with reassurance when I spotted the stack of high chairs in the corner.

High chairs, okay, we’re allowed to be here . . . I reassured myself. There is nothing like taking kids out to eat to remind you of just where you are in life.

We sat down and ordered drinks and melt-in-your-mouth fried pickles. While our kids wiggled and spilled, I leaned over to my husband and whispered; “It’s like we’re the PSA for why not to have kids . . . or at least not to take them out to fun restaurants . . . everyone must wonder why we dared emerge from our hot dog cave.”

Then my daughter leaned over and said: “Actually . . . I bet they’re all thinking “Wow . . . they have three awesome kids. They are soooo lucky.”

And I was put. In. My. Place.

Head on over to The Mudroom to finish it on up! 

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Prayer is hard, Chili is easier.

When I was in Elementary School I attended an assembly led by none other than Ronald McDonald. It was a pretty big deal, and at the time I was sure he was THE Ronald McDonald from TV and not some lame replica from our local chain store.

In that seminar he drove home one point. Don’t smoke.

Done! I had no interest in becoming a third grade smoker so this was an easy lesson to keep.

Yet my little heart was troubled because …my Dad smoked. Surely, I thought, he must not know the things that Ronald McDonald had just to me, so I rushed home from school, hauled out my markers and wrote him a letter. With pictures, asking him to stop smoking.

Turns out he did know that smoking was bad for him and he kept at it anyway, much to my dismay. I wrote him countless letters.

It became my most fervent prayer request: “Dear God, please help my Dad stop smoking so he won’t die. Amen.” (And probably other things about Care Bears and Disney World and mean kids on the playground…)

But God didn’t come through like I hoped he would. Eventually my Dad died of heart disease, which the smoking surely had a role in. Continue reading

Looking for God’s will in the Grocery Store. (it’s by the raisins)

I spent over an hour last night in the grocery store. My list only had 12 things on it, but still I walked up and down the aisles in a daze. I wasn’t even thinking about anything specifically but it was more a a plodding, processing rhythm.

Moving again. Moving again. Oooh, new yogurt!…. Moving again.

I found beef jerky chocolate bars, and kumquats on sale. I didn’t buy either, but I found myself curious on both accounts.

Also they keep moving the raisins. I hate that. Make up your mind grocery store dictators: Are we keeping them in produce? Baking? By the Canned peaches? I’m already on the verge of madness as it is, can you just keep the raisins put pleaseandthankyou?

I like here. I’ve figured out here (I know where the raisins are, this week.) Why does it have to change again? What is God up to? Why God, why get all settled, have us fall deeply in love with this sense of home, only to mix it all up again after less than a year?

These are questions God doesn’t really answer.

If you ask him how you should love people or to help you be more generous he’s all over those answers, he wrote a whole book about it.

But, if you ask “why” about the hard stuff of your life he just sits with you on that, whispering something that can’t be put into words but somehow centers around a thousand intertwined strings of moments all focused on bringing his healing love to the world through your life. Continue reading

My most important 2015 plan

I’m late to the 2014 reflection / 2015 goal setting thing, I call new baby to that… I mean hey, it’s still January.

Every year, in December, I make a photo book for our family that sums up our new year. Some we give away, one we keep.

photo copy

This year the back of that book said the following:

“2014: The year of Clara. And moving. And church planting. And Kel graduating. And Noelle starting school. And…. a lot of other stuff.”

Last year life exploded across the pages of our calendar. It was a mix of every feeling I’m currently familiar with: hope, joy, heartache, grief, stress, depression, satisfaction, infatuation and frustration.

As I look back through the pages of our 2014 photobook I can see the mix of emotion in our eyes, and as I do each one takes center stage in my chest and, in a small way, happens all over again.

Remember how happy we were when all that snow finally melted and the tulips broke the soil?
Remember how our mouths dropped with the test was positive?
Remember how proud you were when you saw him in his Cap and Gown?
Remember how scared we were as we peeked in on her, sleeping on Kindergarten eve?
Remember how relieved and grieved we were when it all came crashing down?
Remember how overjoyed we were when they brought her to your side and you saw each other for the first time?

2014 was all the things, really it was.

Continue reading

Superman’s Smile.

Yesterday was a really hard day for our family, I’m not trying to be cryptic, I’ll fill you in when I can. 

There are a lot of things I could be worrying on, freaking out about, angry over. All of them rightly so

But you know where I am fixing my gaze instead? On this picture.

supermanIt seems like I would say “I’m keeping my eyes on God” or “his provision” or “his faithfulness” and I am saying that, but for some reason no verse or quote is saying as much to my weary heart as this picture.

This picture says “everything’s going to be fine” and “God is watching out for us” to me in a way that nothing else can.

It’s not a high quality photo, it won’t look impressive to you in a frame on our wall. It was taken in the dressing room of a Halloween Store under dingy florescent lights.

We stopped in because I knew we needed to. I’d spent the morning paying bills, reducing this line and that on the spreadsheet until it all worked out…. ish.

Writing checks, calling doctors to pay uncollected co-pays with one ear as the other one was filled with the voice of a little boy.

“Mom, instead of numbers, let’s look at superman costumes on your computer! Mom! CAN WE LOOK AT SUPERMAN?!”

No, No, No buddy, please wait, not now… 

And then, you know what? Yes. Before we can’t anymore, let’s go get a superman costume. Continue reading

Why I Believe

A few month’s back I was asked by Believe.com if I would be willing to do a phone call with them about their new “I’m a believer” campaign. I looked into their site a little bit, spoke with the lovely Andrea on the phone and decided to go for it, even though it would involve me making my video-blog debut (yikes!) 

The question I had to answer in my video and in the corresponding text was this: Why do I believe in God.

I found this a hard question to answer because no matter what answer I came up with, they were all so self-centered.

I believe in God because he sustains my life in every season, no matter what… he’s the one who got me through with gentle love and endless grace.

This answer is true, but so much more about me than about God, more about my needs being met than a reflection of his infinite goodness, holiness and love.

The more I thought about my answer, the more I realized that it is and must continue to grow into a deep need and appreciation for his pools, his oceans of love and all the ways this is evident in creation, in my life, in his Word.

Is my answer the most mature answer? No, I am quite convinced that it’s fraught with human-failing and that there are others out there with meatier responses.

But we start where we are, yes?

I’d love to share the believe.com piece with you today, and the corresponding video. Bear with me, it was a raw and difficult story to tell in under two minutes… with one take.

And here is the piece at Believe.com, I encourage you to click around and check out the others who are being featured in the “I’m a believer” series.

And honestly, I encourage you to reflect on this question for yourself:

Do you believe in God? If so, why?
If you had to write about it, talk about it in less than two minutes, what would you say? Do you like your answer? 

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Waiting Tables: Lenten Baptism Post for Megan Tietz at SortaCrunchy

Today I’m honored to be writing about my family and the promises of Baptism for my dear friend Megan Tietz of Sorta Crunchy. I’ll start you off here, then you can head over to her place to finish on up. And while you’re there, do dig into what she’s doing to observe Lent this year through her Waiting Tables series. It’s been profoundly helpful and encouraging for me in this season.

flickr.com user antique nature

flickr.com user antique nature

I was baptized as an infant in February of 1982, with my family gathered in the pews of the stained glass church on Baldwin Street. The same church where my parents were married and my grandparents were founding members.

I was baptized as an adult in late August, 2003 in the center of a large church, surrounded by plastic grey chairs with a few friends and family members scattered in the midst of thousands of others.

It was a profound day, full of awkwardness and freedom. There is nothing comfortable about standing in front of a crowd in cotton baptismal shorts, being submerged in a hot tub by someone you only know a little. There is nothing commonplace about leaving soggy footprints on church carpet as you tearfully make your way through the aisles. But for me this mess a thing of wonder, a miracle. After all, faith is not comfortable and baptism is such a profound gift that the dripping mess fits the radical newness it represents.

Dead with Christ and Alive in his resurrection, leaving the old behind in the water, grabbing breath as a new creation.

Imagine how much baggage has been left at the bottom of baptismal hot tubs.

As I mentioned above, I’ve technically been baptized twice which is a real church taboo. So, while my adult baptism was freeing and beautiful, it somehow felt a bit subversive. My entire family is Reformed and believes in infant baptism, so when it came to this evening I worried they would think I was invalidating the beautiful gift they’d given me as an infant.

It was out of this concern that I decided not to invite any family beyond my parents to the baptism, I worried it would cause an issue and I didn’t want them to fuss over it in the first place. So that evening, while spirit-led and memorable to me, went unobserved by most people in my life.

Please head over to Megan’s place to finish the story. 

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Confessions of a spiritual hole-poker

bindmy

I have a typewriter, an old beige-gray Adler from the 1950s. This isn’t all that extraordinary anymore, I know a lot of writers and vintage lovers who have them. Although I don’t know how many use them.

I use mine. It was a gift from a dear friend to help me as I moved through prayer and therapy. I love a keyboard over hand journaling but I needed one without connectivity, somewhere to write where copy/paste to twitter simply wasn’t a choice. Somewhere I could write and pray and be without temptation to promote or share.

So in the mornings I do my prayers on my typewriter, or at least I’m starting to.

If you ever paint me as a disciplined, have it all together writer, pastor’s wife person: please refer to this postor this one… for a little perspective. Then read the rest of this post and all false beliefs well be well and truly shattered.

But some mornings lately I do write and pray and talk to God via typewriter, earlier this week I found myself writing something that surprised me. It plunked slowly from my fingertips and as it took shape I knew it was a prayer worth holding onto.

“God, I feel like I’ve been living in skepticism when it comes to you. Doubting much and believing little. Help me survey this crumbled foundation of faith and start re-piecing my beliefs back together”

I’ve developed this bad habit over the past 10 years. I poke holes in spiritual things. If you read me a scripture, share a theological truth or play me a praise song I immediately look for ways it’s not true.

How it hasn’t applied to my life
Times in which God didn’t come through
Spots where it feels like BS

For I know the plans I have for you…
Really? You planned this for me?
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts..
This is what I suck at being a Christian…Got no peace.

I use the bible to tear myself down, to prove why I’ll never hack it as a Pastor’s wife, why I’m a total hypocrite and surely one of those lukewarm types on the fast track to being spit into the bowels of Hell. I’m nothing if not dramatic in my inner monologue Continue reading