Wednesday, October 2, 2013

coming Home...

What I'm about to say may be offensive to some people.  But it must be said.  I have THE BEST family in the world!  I tend to brag about them quite a bit.  It's hard for me to say what makes them so wonderful.  They're loud and funny and loving and obnoxious and annoying and aggravating and I love it.  All of it.  They are my Home.  They are comfortable.  And I miss them like crazy. 

But tomorrow, I'll only have to miss half of them.  Because this half is coming to Dublin. 

I honestly thought this day may never happen, that Mooly and Daddy would never get around to coming for a visit of their own.  I was wrong.  They're coming.  Tomorrow!  The excitement is overwhelming.  I can't even think straight.  So much life happens here and I can't wait to share it with them.  I can't wait for them to finally experience all the things I try to tell them about, with thousands of miles and an ocean between us.  But mostly I can't wait to hug them at the airport.  To jump and squeal and cry.  To feel Home.

Friday, June 28, 2013


I woke up early this morning.  Like 4:30 AM-kind-of-early.  I hate it when that happens.  I fought it for an hour and a half before finally accepting the reality of my situation.  More sleep was not in my immediate future.  So I got up.  Made coffee and oatmeal.  And climbed back in bed to read this book by Gary Molander. 

Bare with me as I summarize:

Gary starts talking about the parable of the treasure and the field (Matt. 13:43-44).  You know, the one where a man finds treasure in a field.  Buries it.  Sells everything he has.  Buys the field.  Keeps the treasure forever.  The one that I've always thought was supposed to remind me that the Kingdom of God is the most valuable treasure I could ever find so I should be willing to sell everything else I have so that I can keep it forever.  Gary puts it this way, "Our application is that we need to sacrifice whatever it takes to acquire the Kingdom of God.  It's a treasure in a field, waiting for us to possess it.  Pushed to its logical conclusion, we buy the Kingdom of God."

Wait.  What?  That's not right.  We can't buy the Kingdom of God, can we?  Gary says maybe we've mis-applied what Jesus was saying.  So he puts the parable back in its context, at the end of a bunch of other parables describing the nature of God's Kingdom.  The sower.  The weeds.  The mustard seed.  In all these examples, God is the man slash farmer slash landowner.  Humans are represented by the thing that is dormant (the soil slash seed) until life (the Gospel) is infused into it.  The pattern is repeated over and over.  God offers Life.  We chose to accept it and grow, or refuse it and die.  But that's the only part we play.  God always makes the first move.

Until the parable of the treasure.  That's when we decide to make ourselves the main character of the story.  That's when we decide it's our turn to make the move.  Gary says we should hold our horses.  We should keep the story in context.  We should continue the pattern. 

God (the man slash farmer slash landowner) finds a field.  We (the soil slash seeds) are dormant treasure.  He finds us and "in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field."  That's the Gospel.  Everything He has.  He hangs on a cross for treasure in a field.  And He's overjoyed at the thought of it.

Duh.  Thanks, Gary, for helping me see the obvious!

And thank you, Father for constantly reminding me that I'm your segullah.  Your treasure in a field.  Infused with your Life.  Amen.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

it's not fair.

I’m a fairly average consumer.  I rent a two-bedroom apartment.  I get my groceries from the shop down the street.  I buy a few clothes when I need them (or the “shopping urge” hits, which is actually seldom).  I do have a rather large sewing addiction, which means boo-coos of fabric.  But other than that, I would say my lifestyle is moderate.  I’m not overly-conscious, but I’m not extravagant either, so I figure it all balances out somewhere in the middle.

Then I took this survey and found out I have 34 slaves working for me.  Suddenly, my fairly moderate lifestyle doesn’t seem very “fair.”  And honestly, that number is probably on the low end of reality, especially when I start including all the things the survey didn’t ask about (like the boo-coos of fabric I’ve got stashed away).

The numbers get worse.  There are nearly 30 MILLION people trapped in modern day slavery.  Forced labor and human trafficking is a $32 BILLION a year industry.  It’s happening on every continent.  It’s embedded into the production of goods from every corner of the market.  The food we eat.  The clothes we buy.  The electronics we love.  The sports we play.  The beauty products we use.  Almost everything is influenced by slave labor at some point.

The problem comes from a lack of transparency in the supply chain, and it appears that most companies have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to the manufacturing processes their products go through.  Let’s use that fabric I love so much as an example.  I buy it from a retailer, who gets it from a manufacturer, who prints their designs on plain cotton fabric from a factory in China or India, who gets their cotton from fields in Uzbekistan, one of the largest cotton exporters in the world.  That’s all sounds fine and dandy, until learning that over 2 million children in Uzbekistan are forced to pick cotton to meet the government-imposed production quotas.  Any one of those children could be counted in the 34 slaves that are working for me.  

Of course, we would all agree that this is unacceptable.   But am I being too harsh to just assume that my fabric is supplied through forced labor?  And if it is, who’s to blame?  Surely a company wouldn’t willing source unethical product, right?  So I sent several US-based manufacturing companies an email asking what they had to say about their own supply chains.  Only one company responded.  All they could tell me was that their fabric comes from China.  Things aren’t looking good.

So what can we do?  Organizations like Made in a Free World, Not for Sale, and End it Movement are trying to raise awareness of modern day slavery.  But awareness alone doesn’t implement change.  There must be a call to action.  A demand for products manufactured through fair labor practices.  As consumers, we can make our voice heard.  Supporting companies that are accountable to ethical manufacturing can begin to reform the marketplace.   We can join Made in a Free World in saying "Let’s get slavery out of our system!"

Saturday, April 27, 2013

scarlet hope.

You know how I love to turn college assignments into blog posts!  Here's another one for you, from a recent paper on Rahab.  (In case you're not familiar with how two Israelite spies find themselves in the hands of a Canaanite prostitute, you can find the story here).

Rahab was all wrong.  The wrong race.  The wrong gender.  The wrong profession.  She was a Canaanite.  She was a woman.  She was a whore.  She was marginalized, pushed to the fringes, literally living on the perimeter of her community. 

Rahab didn’t grow up in Sunday school, being taught all the right things to believe about God.  She may not have been able to recite the Ten Commandments or be familiar with what animal to sacrifice on what day for what sin.  But she did know a few things: She knew that Yahweh had given the Israelites the land and she knew that was a reason to be scared to death.  She knew that Yahweh had done incredible things already.  She knew that there was only one Yahweh.  And that he ruled over heaven and earth and everything else.  She knew that Yahweh valued all things hesed—mercy and faithfulness and kindness.  She knew enough to chose his side when two kingdoms knocked on her door.  And so he chose to use her.  Right where she was.  In the midst of her brothel.  He used her to keep his spies safe.  He used her to give Joshua another chance to make the right decision.  He used her to remind the Israelites of his faithfulness.  He used her to conquer Jericho.  He used her to bring the Messiah that would conquer Hades.  He used her to encourage Christ-followers across space and time to remain faithful.  

She had been used before.  In countless ways by countless men.  But that didn’t stop Yahweh from using her faith to bless His people and fulfill His promises.  He still chose her.  He absorbed her into the nation of Israel.  He gave her significance.  He redeemed and restored her.  And he gave her rest in his land.

The situation of many women (and men, if we're being honest) looks exactly like Rahab’s.  Enslaved by their circumstance.  Exploited in their weakness.  Ignored by society.  The situation of others looks nothing like Rahab’s.  They’re not all wrong.  In fact, they’re almost all right.  Almost.  But they still feel enslaved.  Exploited.  Ignored.

Like Rahab, we all mess up.  We let the world use us in countless ways.  We invite the Enemy in.  We sell ourselves over to him.  We let him strip us of our identity, our confidence, our freedom, our value.  And because we believe his lies, we convince ourselves that we belong in the dark corners of the perimeter. 

But we can, like Rahab, confess that Yahweh is sovereign Lord over all creation.  We can make a choice for radical change.  We can humble ourselves to Yahweh’s will so that he can draw us into himself.  We can we find redemption, restoration, and rest in him.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

time to wake up.

Meet my hero.  His name is Daddy.

A long time ago, I wrote this post explaining just a few of the reasons why I love him so-stinking-much.

Tonight the list gets longer.  Because today my Daddy faced his longest dream.  I won't go in to details.  It's not my dream to share.  And the details don't really matter as much as the fact that (today) my Daddy faced them.

"Facing" isn't a posture we typically associated with "dreams."  It seems to fit more naturally with things we want to avoid.  Like fears.  Consequences.  Disturbing facts.  Ugly truth.  But there is a dark side to all our dreams that is easy to avoid.  Dreams are scary.  They force us to move away from what is comfortable.  Engage the unknown.  Embrace risk.  Make ourselves vulnerable to the embarrassment of failure.  Sometimes it's just easier to live with the delicious ambiguity of our dreams than to actually take the step toward making them come true.  Sometimes we've been holding on to a dream for so long that the thought of losing it to reality is too much to handle.  Sometimes dreams are so fantastic and outrageous that we resign ourselves to the fact that that's all they'll ever be... dreams.

Like I said, dreams are scary.

Today my Daddy was brave.  Today he faced his dream.  Today he woke up and made his dream reality.  I am so proud of him.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

dye this.

When I was younger (like last year and all the years before), I totally missed the point of Easter.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know... it's about Jesus dying on the cross for me and the fairy tale ending of the resurrection.  And eggs! And bunnies! And chocolate! And pretty new dresses!  Honestly, waking up to a basket the Easter bunny left and finding the most eggs in the hunt after church kinda over-shadowed that first part.

Until this year.

My faith is changing.  Slowly, my Creator is bringing me to a new understanding of my relationship with Him.  But all this talk about being blue and treasured and righteous hinges on one single moment in history.  The resurrection.

It's not enough to believe that I was made by God.  Or that He loves me.  Or even that He sent His only Son to die for me.  Don't get me wrong, all of that stuff is important.  It's just not the point.  In fact, without the resurrection, it's actually all point-less.  Without the resurrection, Christ's perfection is wasted on the grave.  Without the resurrection, Christ's sacrifice is noble, but insufficient.  Without the resurrection, sin and death win the battle for my soul.

But the resurrection changes everything.  The power of Death died the moment Christ rose from the tomb.  By conquering Death once and for all, Christ sealed a new future for all who believe in Him.  He became the Way to this relationship I've been talking about.  His perfection becomes my perfection.  His sacrifice becomes my sacrifice.  His resurrection becomes my resurrection.  His life becomes my life.

The old is gone.  The new is here.  Praise God!

At the death of death
where love and justice kiss
We were born to sin
and only you forgive
In your final breath
grace and mercy win
At the death of death
You died and rose again

(The Death of Death, Charlie Hall Band)

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Last semester, I wrote a paper on Romans 6.  After reading and re-reading and researching and writing and wrestling with what I thought I understood, something began to change:

I used to think that Jesus was blue and I was red and that when God looked at me (through Christ) he saw me as purple, a mixture of the perfection of Christ with my complete inadequacy.  But after studying Romans 6 and the implications it has for new life and freedom from sin, it’s clear that I was mistaken.  That mixed state of purple doesn’t exist.  Because of my union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, I’ve been made perfect.  I’ve been completely redeemed.  That means that when God looks at me, all he sees is the new creation that I am in Christ.  I’m completely blue.  My old red self is dead.  Wiped out.  No hint of it remains. 

My only response then, is to live my new life as he intended.  I’ve already been released from the power of sin, so why do I continue to live like I’m controlled by it?  Satan knows that if he can convince me that the chains are still there, then I will live my life in fear of sin, afraid of messing up, afraid of falling back into that old life that separated me from God.  He tries to convince me that new life only exists as a future promise, that it only applies to the eternal, that the only way for me to get there is to be as “good” as possible, to prove that I really belong.  Even though he’s already been defeated, he tries to hold me down under the power of sin for as long as he can.  He tries to keep me from experiencing the fullness of my new life in Christ that is available to me now. 

So I sit there, with my hands behind my back.  Believing that I'm shackled to my sin.  Wasting energy defending myself against an unarmed assailant.  Wasting time waiting for a future life of freedom that has already been offered.  Being free from sin isn’t about always choosing to not do “bad” things.  If I’m being “good” but living in fear of the “bad” (or even of not being “good” enough), then I’m allowing sin to remain in control.  I’m not living my freedom.  I’m not living the new life that has already been given to me. 

Being alive to God in Christ is about claiming my color.  It’s about living like I know who I belong to.  I am blue.  I am God’s.  On the cross.  In the grave.  Resurrected.  Now.  Forever.  Sin has no power over me.  Full stop.