Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Source

Few things fill and stir me like writing does.

I'm aware that my audience here is just a handful, and that my voice is but a whisper. I know this, and if I'm being honest I sometimes lament it.

But the emptying and surge that comes from this practice, this hobby, this ministry of sorts - it's what makes me come alive and leaves me feeling wide-eyed and awakened.

No matter how meager the readership.

What's more...

When I find myself composing for a cause, championing some effort, exposing some serious devastation, shining light on any heinous act being performed around the earth, - this takes my little practice here to full circle, completes it, and makes it round and full.

Using words to rally and awaken souls....

Whether through story, journalism, or poetry....

It's what I'm after.

So when I walked the halls of that women's clinic a few weeks ago - my veins pulsed as I searched for words to describe it.

My artist friend Jamie had organized the visit - after feeling a fire rise up in her heart over the Planned Parenthood videos.

I pulled into the parking lot of a strip, and right there, situated in the middle of rowed store fronts - I saw The Source.

This is a place where women can go here in Houston - who need care in their reproductive years.

It's a life-giving, holistic alternative to Planned Parenthood.

Praise God.

The Source offers up all of the services a PP would...

Minus the taking of innocent life, plus the gift of mental and spiritual guidance.

But here is the wild thing...

They do it all for free. 

They receive no government funding. All they do, is paid for by donations. They operate on a very low budget, while still giving the highest of care at three locations.

I was extremely impressed.

And I was very inspired....

Inspired to ask myself, "What is my role in all this?"

Naturally, among a few other things, my first response to that question was envisioning myself picking up the pen.

So, here I find myself punching keys for the place - hoping that you will ask yourself the "What is my role?" question, too.

We all have a part to play in giving life.

Is it medical care? 
Is it funding? 
Is it advertising?
Is it awareness?
Is it art?
Is it sharing your story to encourage others?
Is it guiding someone you know to a life-giving clinic?
Is it mentoring?
Is it prayer?
Is it reaching out to those brave women who choose life?
Is it helping to provide care for those needing post-abortive recovery?
Is it adoption?
Is it starting more holistic clinics around the globe?

There are so many options.

If you feel led to donate to The Source, head here. Or, if you find a clinic similar to The Source in your neck of the woods - bless them with a donation, volunteer hours, or prayer.

On average 125,000 babies will be torn from wombs today by the time your head hits the pillow.

Life doesn't have to be taken from the babies, to give life to the women housing them.

Both can live and thrive....

If we all seize our role in it.





Saturday, August 15, 2015

He Covers Me

I remembered grace today.

Standing at my kitchen sink, rinsing off plates and spraying down pots, rushing.

Hurrying.... because I still had a half dozen things left to do on my agenda list for the day, and the evening was approaching with speed.

As I scurried and panted through it all - I noticed other things undone and dirtied that needed tending...

The white kitchen floors.
The stains on the white kitchen sink.
The crumbs in every corner of the living room.
The dust on the bookshelves.

These things weren't even on the list - but needed my efforts, too.

Would you believe that I felt overwhelmed and weak and incapable?

Even after checking off line after line on my list already...

Even after schooling two elementary aged kids all morning, and wrangling the young third...

Even after completing not mounds of laundry, but mountains of it...

Even after cleaning bathrooms, and picking up all manner of things in the playroom, and preparing two meals with a dinner to come, and working out, and scribbling through emails, and tidying things...

Even after banging all this out alone for days....as the husband was extremely busy each day and eve - counseling, working, writing, officiating.

Yes.

Even after all that - I looked inward and felt disappointed that I couldn't accomplish everything more quickly, better, with more zeal, with more efficiency.

Never mind what I could do. Never mind what I had done.

It seemed all for not - because I couldn't tackle everything.

But then...

Standing there at my basin, water running over utensils and containers as I scrubbed off leftover contents with bare hands....

The whisper was low but sure....

Grace.

There is grace for you.

You can't do everything, remember.

You can't be everyone, you know.

Look at your efforts and be pleased and satisfied.

And let My grace cover you, child.

I wasn't even looking for it.

It just plopped itself right into my jabbing thoughts and ceased them.

I stopped the scrub for a moment, looked up from the sink, took a deep breath, and thought...

"Yeah. I'll do my best. And You cover the rest. Yes and amen."

It was a sweet, freeing moment for a tired, busy Mom.

Contentment reigned after that.

Friends, it's true that grace is given at no charge.

But let's keep at the forefront....

That this doesn't mean we should play that card all the time - pulling it out whenever we need an excuse for laziness, or deliberate sin, or unrighteousness.

God is always doing His part, even when we are not.

True.

But doesn't that make you want to work as if working for Him always?

Doesn't that make you want to give all, give your best, and walk out your role well?

And then leave all the rest for grace to cover?

Because we do fall short. Us women...we are good, but we aren't God.

We shouldn't expect ourselves to be.

This ministered so mightily to my soul in frail moments.

Thank you, Lord.

And this grace....it's yours too friend.

Let that wash over us all!...

And lead us to thanksgiving and wonder.

***************



P.S. Speaking of grace....I got the grand gift of being able to offer up a chapter for an e-book here recently.....where all the proceeds go to digging a well in Kenya for The Mercy House. Head over to Beauty Through Imperfection to read about the project. If you feel so led... head here to purchase your copy - and enjoy the words of lots of Mama's strewn there - knowing that you are providing water for those who very desperately need it. Hugs and high fives to you all. :)




Monday, August 3, 2015

In Response

The only way I know how to start weaving words on this topic, is to begin with Wilberforce.

Before I take us all in that direction however, I need you to know that always....

No matter the theme or purpose of the piece...

I pray fervently that what I write will bear fruit and bring faith.

This one is no different, and is even more heightened so.

And also, I need you to know...

I am aware of the delicacy with which this topic needs to be dealt.

I'm striving for...

an awakening
a change
a reformation

...but all through appropriate means and measures.

I'm aiming for this to be a gentle push. But a push that gets us somewhere.

Lord, help me.

William Wilberforce was a major catalyst in the abolition of the slave trade in Britain. In his day, slavery was a widely accepted and rarely contested practice.

But when he started hearing about the conditions of the boats bringing African people to Europe, the treatment of the enslaved upon arrival, the deaths that ensued from the audacious journey, the families torn apart, the children left orphaned, the children being enslaved, the kidnappings, the horribly true stories of slaves, and ship captains, and other early abolitionist....

He was stirred to action.

Upon the urgings of his like-minded friends - He decided to pick up the cause and spent the rest of his life championing for, fighting over, and campaigning about freedom for those in chains.

A part of Parliament - he used his position, giftings, wealth, and resources - to put an end to the depravity.

Even though it must have seemed like a mountainous agenda....

An unpopular one.
A dangerous one.
A controversial one...

He picked it up and changed the world, anyway.

And now here we sit.

No longer across the waters dealing with Albion and abolition...

But America and abortion.

It's been weeks since the videos surfaced.

And my heart has ached through and through with each release.

And my repentance has begun, as well.

I have felt a guttural agony over abortions for a long while now. I have screamed on the inside, and streamed tears on counter tops, and pounded my fist on walls over the issue -

But I have never really been a voice for the voiceless in this cause.

And I confess and repent.

Of my laziness.

And of my penchant for being liked.

Both of those things have kept my mouth shut and my arms empty.

But the videos that I've watched - of Planned Parenthood employees talking about babies, and crushings, and infant parts in pie dishes...

Has lit a hot fire under my rear and inside my torso.

I should have been this ignited all along. Everyone should have.

Remember the visions that were laid on my mind while I was in the UK?

One of the first things the Lord put in my head while I was in the bath in Bournemouth....was abortion.

And one of the first lines in the poem He directed me to after I got back....was on abortion.

And now here it is - before people's faces now - the realities of abortion.

And so here I am - wanting to war this with words here...and see where it leads me after that.

My goal isn't really to just defund Planned Parenthood.

Or to terminate all laws allowing abortion - although I'm up for both.

My main goal here is for there to not even be a reason for those things.

I want the people...the public...the persons that fill this nation - to be keenly awakened to the killing that takes place when a child is suctioned from a womb.

I want the truth to reign here - in such a way - that people choose life....not that it is simply forced on them.

I want heart change, not just law change.

That may seem like a pollyanna longing - but look how hearts and minds have done an about-face on slavery over the last few centuries.

It's all very possible.

Especially if the people of Christ will provide help, and homes, and aid to those who bravely choose life and living.

Many say that allowing abortion - gives women the ability to take control of their lives and bodies.

But all it really is....

is taking.

A beating heart. A synapsing mind. A growing, purposed, inspired....soul.

Awaken!

Everyone!

Fast.
Fervently pray.
Ask God for your field and assignment in this.
And go forth and do what He tells you.

There are wombs tonight....that are full and pulsing.... that tomorrow will be bloodied and empty.

There were intact families in Africa at sunset way back on any given eve in the late 1700's.... but by sunrise - family members were missing, gone, taken for good.

That stopped.

Abortion must, too.






******************

"You may choose to look the other way but you may never say again that you did not know."
- William Wilberforce

Make me poet laureate
For the world that writhes in pain
For the child sucked out of the womb
For the prisoner in chains
- From Make Me Poet Laureate by Steve Turner

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Birthday

On this day...

Six whole years ago...

Sandwiched there between my two guys...

God blessed me with a girl.

Typing here, recollecting back on her entrance and her growing - I'm teary and grateful and wild for this spitfire of glory God gave me.

From the very start it could be sensed that she had this certain thread of sweetness....

This underlying thick ribbon of tenderness that softened me in hard places.

But don't be fooled. Running right next to those streamers of gentleness and grace - there's an ability to dart and defend and muster up solid anger, if warranted. 

She seizes and squeezes life.

She always has a plan, an opinion, a comeback. 

She's the first to respond in care when someone's wounded.

She walks around most days with a doll baby on her hip and a purse over her shoulder.

She likes to sit high and perched on Mama and Daddy's bed - next to a lofty stack of library books - where she makes up her own story, out loud, as she flips the pages.

Dresses are her ensemble of choice most days of the week.

And her grandma-purchased Marc Jacobs wedges are her favorite shoe.

She prays over people, and senses moods, and thinks deeply.

She has a silly side - and shows it off often.

She is strong...

In body and in spirit.

She likes shopping, and planning parties, and being around people.

She likes to go, and do, and be, and discover, and belong.

She enjoys a good movie, a tall glass of sweet tea, and a rare treat of snacking on Cheetos.

She is affectionate, funny, loud, quiet, complex, sassy, capable, athletic, curious.... and made of the finest stuff I've ever seen.

And she's pretty.

So, so pretty.

Long flowing hair, and tan hued skin, and blue ocean eyes, and tall to the heavens.

Daddy is already nervous....but very, very ready.

She has changed our hearts and home, brought in much laughter and glee, and rings in all kinds of lace, and a special kind of grace.

She animates, and purifies, and livens our world here.

And so today - I marvel, and stand thankful, and praise the Maker... for this little lady who gives, and loves, and lives so fully well.

Happy, happy birthday child.

You are cherished...

And needed...

And loved...

And valued beyond comprehension or measure.

Let us celebrate you, today.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Marvel the Mind

I couldn't keep up with the creativity.

I couldn't hold pace with the barrage of thoughts, dreams, ideas - filling my brain waves and asking to be scribbled down and seen through.

I was visiting family, when my Mother blessed me with a whole 24 hours to myself.

She kept the kids, while I whisked away to rest, write, wander, dream.

And dream I did.

The second half of my time away - was filled with constant concoctions of creative concepts.

A brainstorm if I ever experienced one.

Remember those bubble diagrams in language arts class?

You start with a big circle - your main idea, and branch out into dozens of other bubbles from there.

That's the mode my mind was in.

And I could hardly get the concepts from brain to paper fast enough.

It's crazy what can happen when you rest....

When you remove yourself for a minute and let your mind open, and let your God speak.

I've often heard in recent years, that creativity comes from rest - not striving.

And it's true.

What strikes me today most, though...on this day I've set aside for relaying what makes me marvel -

Is the ability our brains have to imagine.

We can see things behind our eyes, that aren't before our eyes.

We can watch a movie reel in our minds, and go back to past experiences, and dream up new ones...

And then have all that fantastic stuff flow to ink, and find itself in book pages, or see it's way to stage, or play itself out on screen, or dance it's way through the fringes of a paintbrush.

Isn't that fantastic?

And what's more....

Is that often times all that goodness that is forming in the fibers of your head, and then working it's way out into art - it usually ends up encouraging, inspiring, blessing, speaking to - another.

What a fine process the whole thing works out to be!

And what a wonderful thing to stand in awe of!

Today - if a poem, a song, an image, a story - drops in on your reflections..... let it come to the light. Write it down, draw it out, sit on it for a few - and then whenever you have time for some tinkering, allow that thing to dawn and come to life.

Use what you've been given!

And marvel at it all.






Thursday, July 9, 2015

Snapshot: Anniversary

I'm sitting outside here on the dawn of the day I wed.

The fireball that lights our way everyday is rising steady.

A squirrel is having breakfast on the branch of my tall pine, and his crumbs and extras are free falling in a funny line to the ground below.

The birds are singing their morning song.

An airplane just made it's way overhead.

And a pair of doves are doing that deep hoo they do as day arrives.

Two of the squirrels I mentioned above are fighting over food - screeching and scratching.

The doves: singing loud together their song of light...

And the squirrel's: demanding their own way...

They both remind me of marriage.

:)

What a sweet morning!

There's something sacred about the opening peep of daylight.

And this day, in particular.

Because it's been a decade, plus one - since I walked that long aisle and pledged that vow and promised that person I would stand firm for it all.

The highs and lows, and twists and straights, and mountains and valleys of our marriage are running through like a movie in my mind this morning.

He's sleeping in a bit, because I pulled the door and told him to.

The children are awake and eager to storm-start our anniversary - waiting in their room for the moment their clock says they can do so.

Those children....the result of the commitments we spoke all those years ago - they have taught me the art of celebration.

They have showed their Mama that it's good, and right, and worth it.... to mark, and remember, and praise special occasions and victories.

And this marriage is a victory.

It's been fought for...over and over again.

The man I love.... he's different.

He's countercultural in the way he approaches our union.

He goes beyond expectation, let's pride die, and offers out all of himself for me.

And as he does all this... I learn and clumsily attempt to reciprocate.

My gratefulness surpasses words.

The kids we created are eager and itching to begin festivities.

I should close the laptop lid and head in.

But before I do...

May I pray a blessing over you?

Father, I ask that you lead and show Your love to the person scanning these words today. I pray that they see you working in their lives, arranging events, pouring in strength and faith. If they are married Lord, wrap up their union in truth and vulnerability and sacrifice and healing. If they aren't, Lord speak intimately to their mind and hearts today - holding them close and whispering loud of your love for them. Give that to us married ones, too! Guide each mind that's reading here...into the things of life. And let all of us linger on the good, the things of You. In Jesus, Amen.









Monday, July 6, 2015

Marvel at Man

My Dad is the hardest working person I know.

Most days of the week he is flying all over the country helping some manufacturing plant run properly. He's a beast at what he does.

And he got that way by working for it. 

No college degree.

No pedigree.

No favoritism.

No hand-outs whatsoever.

Grit, and wherewithal, and endurance, and bravery, and divine guidance - is how he busted into the awesome that he is.

A dyslexic child, who was told he would amount to nothing by ignorant teachers...

He was forecasted to achieve little in this life.

For him... the letters were switched up all sorts of ways. And the words wouldn't line up right. And the grade school instructors in 1960's Texas called him stupid, dumb, mean, worthless.

This one certain teacher in particular had a dumb row in her classroom. The person who sat in the front seat of the dumb row....was the dumbest.

That first desk belonged to my Daddy.

All 7 or 8 years of him, holed up in that sweaty wooden desk - labeled and slapped with a losing title from the get-go...

I picture him and his cole black hair, dangling legs, squinting eyes - and it makes me furious.

He has since picked up that dumb row desk and thrown it into a raging fire of passion and work ethic and watched it burn to bits.

Because when you live a life that blows the boundaries others have placed on you...

When you surpass odds...

And sail forth in the midst of setbacks...

And pave paths where others have told you there are only barricades...

You get to grab-hold of those others-induced limits, and catch them to hot flame.

(And your daughter gets to marvel at the wonder and blaze of it all!)

Isn't it incredible what we humans are actually capable of?

Isn't it grand that we have soared to moon landings...

And orbited heavens...

And built contraptions that jettison us across continents...

And invented ways to see and speak to people in real time from any spot on the globe...

And projected images onto giant theater screens...

And climbed massive mountains...

And written wildly beautiful volumes of books from imagination...

And so forth, and so forth...

Isn't it thrilling when a person breaks molds, and forges onward, and succeeds despite lowly estimations?

Marvel at this with me today!

Marvel at all the people you know who have punched prognosis and false prophecies in the face.

Marvel at their God-given gifts, tenacity, and unending drive.

And tell them you are doing so.

Show them you see.

Tell them you admire and admonish their fantastic feats.

And thank the Lord for their example, and inspiration, and fine life.

And then mimic their moxie.

My dad turns 59 this week.

He has strongly endured all of the almost 60.

And I have witnessed it.

And I stand next to that burnt dumb row desk...

And crush the ashes under my feet with him.

Because he has wrestled and he has won.

Marvel, friends.

And enjoy your birthday, Dad. (That desk had nothing on you.)