Saturday, May 11, 2013

women are life givers: thoughts on mother's day and the many types of mamas.

I read an article this past week about Pope Francis speaking to a group of nuns from around the world.  His word to them was this: be spiritual mothers, not "old maids."

Days like Mother's Day always get me reflecting on how grateful I am for whomever or whatever is being celebrated.  My mom is phenomenal and I am so blessed each day to call her mine.  But the Pope's remark got me to thinking a lot more broadly this week about what it means to take up the calling of motherhood.

Women are set apart to be a different kind of a blessing to the world.  The first woman and mother was given the name "Eve" which means "life."  What a bold reflection of our life-giving God!  Women have been made to be life givers.  That's seen most obviously through child birth, but it can look a lot of other ways, too.  We admire you mamas that went through labor and breastfeeding or spent long hours waiting and watching for your adopted little one.  We honor you today for your lifetime commitment to loving these children of yours.  Additionally, though, I also want to acknowledge mothers of all shapes and kinds who may or may not be called "mom."

There are lots of phenomenal women throughout my story that have gone out of their way to love me and mother me.  Spiritual encouragers, mentors, friends, teachers, coaches, RAs, bosses, professors.  My life has been filled with some top notch women.  Some of my favorite mothers have never bore a child.

I think about my vocations at the moment.  Being an auntie to my nephew, Jared, and a godmama to Aaron and Lydia are among the top of the list.  The responsibility I feel to invest in them, let them know they are loved, and help them to grow in truth is huge.  I've yet to have a child of my own, but I hear God's calling to be a spiritual mother.  I think of the love and responsibility I've felt and feel for my college students and youth as their leader and mentor.  Some of my residents in college used to call me "Schmama."  I loved loving those freshmen girls.  I wanted to encourage them and speak life into their worlds as others had for me.  As my former students keep in touch and are excited to share milestones with me, I swell with joy and pride to have been part of their lives.  I also think of some very special families in my life that have invited me to join in loving their kids.  I value that role and those relationships deeply and want to love them well.

This is what Church does [and I'm speaking particularly to the ladies today].  We must be encouragers and speak life to the young, just as others did for us.  Today, I say thank you to those magnificently strong and faithful women that have encouraged and inspired me in what it means to be a woman of God.  I'm grateful to be inspired by mothers of all kinds.

Mothers who are creative and make everyday an adventure for their kids.
Mothers who may not ever deliver their own biological kids, but are mothers to many abandoned and abused children in orphanages or homes.
Mothers who commit to praying and encouraging us and in turn, teach us to pray and encourage.
Mothers who are their baby's source of food for months and months.
Mothers who teach their kids to love strangers.
Mothers who sacrifice so much for their kids to eat healthy and accommodate dietary restrictions.
Mothers who set an example of quiet humility in a role that doesn't often receive much glory.
Mothers who say their sorry and teach their kids to apologize and forgive.
Mothers who don't protect their kids from every challenge or struggle, but walk with them through it.
Mothers who are their kid's biggest cheerleader, even from half way across the country.
Mothers who are so nurturing at their core, that they can't bear to see children without a family so they adopt or do foster care.
Mothers who help their daughters become mothers as they also take on being a grandmother.
Mothers who aren't just raising good kids, but molding great adults.
Mothers who look more like fun aunties who want to make sure a kid knows they're extra special and have lots of people that love them.
Mothers who look more like teachers, youth leaders, or coaches and challenge kids in their day to day life.
Mothers who look more like friends or mentors that seek for others to grow, walk in righteousness, be healthy, and love Jesus like crazy.
Mothers who adopt strays without families nearby.
Mothers who are always available to babysit when full-time moms and dads need some help.
Mothers who commit to be part of raising children and loving children, youth, and adults that aren't their own.

You and your love breathe life and allow people, families, and communities to flourish.

It makes no difference if our first name is "mom" or not.  We have a powerful job in the Church and in your community to be mamas.  To welcome, to teach, to love.  To bring life.
Thank you to those who have brought life into my story and the stories of many.  May we strive to pass on the legacy of life given to us.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

adventure and community: a revelation.

Adventure is such an amazing concept.  My dear friend, Kelsey, and I have spent endless hours discussing the wonders of adventure, dreaming of future adventures, and most definitely having the greatest of adventures.  It’s a topic I’ve frequently written and spoken of.  God beckons me with all that lays waiting within a new adventure.  Adventure is a spirit so evident in people and it draws me to them.  It’s like magnetism.  Those who love adventure bring that spirit out of others.  It’s a spirit that emboldens the timid and only makes the adventurous even more so.  The energy among adventurers is a shaken coke bottle waiting to explode with the potential it holds.

I’ve been a witness to this manifestation of adventure many times without realizing something so obvious, until a new friend pointed it out last week.

Adventure creates community.  It demands connection.  It insists upon a bond and a fellowship.  You have been joined by the experience and even without intention, you will leave being effected by one another.

In a stage and area of life where regular communal adventure doesn’t happen as regular as I’d like, I had overlooked this quality.  I began to think I was losing my taste for adventure.  No.  It’s just meant to be shared.  Life is better together.  Of course, there are wonderful solo adventures; adventures where God shows you something new and you are forever changed by communing with the Divine.  But we were made for community and nothing brings it quite like a wonderful quest, no matter for a several months or only a few hours.

Spur of the moment plans and last minute ideas.  A trip that will take you places you didn’t expect with people you’d never dreamed of knowing.  Adventure is all about exploration and going to a physical scenario that’s new and unknown.  It’s incredible that when we go there physically, our relational, emotional, and spiritual, selves beg for the same.  So we bond with those among us in a unique, real, and new way and we stand in awe as God reveals a new glimpse of Himself to us.  We leave a little more full, a little more known, and a little more aware and loving.

The power of adventure is incredible.  It demands something new of us and leaves us grown, healed, and changed.  I never realized that so much of that power is simply the power of connection with others.  God built us for community.  Who knew that an adventure-craving heart would be a way to get there.

Monday, May 6, 2013

the night before the wedding: reflections on our evening with Emily.

We stood in the kitchen surrounding her.  There’s something so special about the bond of the sisterhood.  It was the night before she would marry her beloved and be called his.  I’ve been in and around weddings for awhile now, but something about this specific night hit me in a new way.

This crazy anticipation filled each of us; not just the bride, but all around her.  It was contagious.  We laid our hands on her and pleaded with our Dad to bless and bring favor, to protect and guide, to spur them on, to love and know love.  We prayed with excitement and joy and we interceded with sincerity.  We entrusted each of them and their marriage into the hands of our loving Father.  And all the while, during that holy moment, I couldn’t help but get overwhelmed with emotion.

A clear thought entered my mind.  This is us.

Desperate and giddy, we wait for our Bridegroom.  The wait has been long.  The preparations and stresses leading up to His arrival have been many.  The trials and joys have taken us on a journey, all leading up to this point.  The night before the wedding.  This is our reality as the Church.  The love I witness between my dear friend and her now husband is huge.  It made the anticipation for the wedding day great.  But standing in that kitchen, witnessing massive love, God opened my eyes to see that this was only a small taste of the love God has for His beloved Church.  All her faults.  All her failures.  And yet, He rejoices over his Bride.  She is not a bride He dreads to take as His own.  He cannot wait to sweep her away into perfect eternity and relationship.  Nothing much matters anymore except that tomorrow, the bride and groom will be united.

As much as my sisters and I dream of being pursued and won by a man who is pursuing God, my heart was so much more overcome by the depth of love by the ultimate Bridegroom; the One who designed us to know what love is and be drawn to it.

More than the excited betrothed, He waits for us.  And we for Him.  No matter what the preceding story entails, a beautiful day will come when Christ comes to take His Beloved home and we will know a love bigger than any other.  Until then, we see glimpses of God rejoicing over us, His Bride, reminding us that the day is drawing near.  The day when all the details fade and we are whole, known, and fully loved into perfection by our God.  Much like the planning of a big day, it’s the perspective of the greater to come that makes everything worth it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


I'm an artist.  I'm learning to just own it.  Not so much the painting, drawing kind.  But I love to create things.  It's not something I ever asked for.  It's just always been there.  I've tried putting it away for more "real" endeavors or let my insecurity convince me that I'm not actually an artist, only to find it coming back again as the most real thing I know.  I can't help myself.

Music.  Words.  Stories.  Designs.  Videos.  Crafty things.  Ideas.  Photos.  Meaningful Experiences.

The creative quality of our God gets to me.  Only recently have I embraced His whispers saying "this is how you're made in my image."  It makes me joyful and content.  Embracing why I exist--to point out the depth and beauty of life through creating and storytelling.  To give people hope and let them know they're loved by bringing something new to life.

Looking at my last hand full of blog posts, my dry spell is evident.  Stress and packed schedules, frustration and questioning, wounds and working have zapped my energy to create.  But today, I can't help myself.  This morning I find my being bursting to bring new things to life.  It begs a question for my morning reflection: "what inspires you?"

- People.  Straight up.  I see others living out boldly who God has created them to be and that makes me want to dive in.  Raw connection where freedom to be is not only allowed, but overflowing.  A deep sense of feeling known and loved frees to me to create.  Even if the product sucks, I'm known and loved all the more.  The destruction of comparison dies in a sea of love.

- Being outside.  When I'm locked up too long, I'm as good as fried.  I see the Master's creative work in His raw art and am inspired.  Being outside gets me moving and when my body feels healthy, my mind and spirit are clear.

- Truth.  Getting in the Word.  Watching the Word shape others.  Hearing what God is teaching those I love.  Watching and seeing redemption and restoration unfold among broken things is the most inspiring creative work of our Father.

- Rest.  The norm has to get broken for my mind to clear and creativity to take over.  One of the enemy's favorite tactics against me is stifling my creativity for the sake of task.  Being creative isn't easily done with a looming to do list.  Creativity arrives on its own schedule and when it's given space to move.  Trying to create under pressure is like spitting on the sparks in kindling in hopes of igniting it.  You must work hard at it, but it can't be forced.

- Straight up Holy Spirit nudging.  Almost as if to say, "seriously...this is what I've made you for.  Knock off the insecurity already.  Ditch the time wasting distractions.  Kick the negativity and create something already."  I think it's a powerful and humbling place to be when God makes it very clear to you that He's not gifted and inspired you just for your sake.  Put your doubts away, remember that you and your gifts belong to God to use for His glory and His purposes, and create in massive freedom.

It's not always easy to be an artist, especially when you're feeling completely unable to create.  We are a people at the mercy of inspiration, but knowing what inspires or what breaks inspiration helps us to be who God has given us to be.  Whether or not you're an artist type, God has created you to be creative in your area of giftedness.  We all need to be inspired.  So what inspires you?