Smile while you suffer. 

It’s 4:05 am. I went to bed after 11 and Jojo woke up at 1:30. She has just now gone back to sleep. Tom’s on his last overnight shift of the Christmas season so I had to deal with her alone. 

Now I’m up. 

Parenting is streatchingly hard. It is testing like boot camp or climbing a mountain. It reveals the metal you’re made of. 

My grandma joyfully said to us grandkids, “Smile while you suffer!” I always thought she was asking us to put on a mask and pretend suffering wasn’t real. But now I can see that she had reached down into her own suffering and found a way to be grateful. 

The pain of being so tired it hurts doesn’t compare to the pain of waiting for her to come that I did for seven years. So when I am shaking in frustration and at the end of my patience I walk away. And I try to remember the years of waiting because no amount of momentary parental suffering compares with the unending agony and helplessness of the hole in your chest that is infertility. 

“Be anxious for nothing. But in everything, with prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving, make your request be known to God. And the peace that surpasses understanding will be yours in Christ Jesus who guards your heart and your mind.” (My paraphrase of Phil 4:6)

So when I’m sweating and aching shaking in exhaustion rocking my 30 pound girl for way too long. I remember her song that starts…

“We waited so long for you my love, we waited for so many years. In my heart I carried you all of that time. And now you are finally here.”

And I get grateful. And I find the will to rock her for another minute or two. To smile while I suffer. 

J

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Forgive and Let Go

Healing is often blocked by unforgiveness.
Just a few  months ago I met with a wise older woman who talked me through some hurt that was lingering from a bad transition I went through a few years ago. It was the right thing to move on but as transition often is, it got messy. I had already worked through the issue with the people involved at the time, really truly forgiving and letting go but sometime since that original forgiveness, I heard someone say that once trust is lost it takes time to earn it back. 

This thought gave the enemy a window of opportunity and I let the self righteous prideful voice speak. You know the one. It said, “Yeah! They have to EARN my trust back now. Even though they asked for forgiveness and I had forgiven that doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.” I let the nuance of that accusation against them reopen the wound growing back into bitter unforgiveness. All I knew was that it still hurt and I was stuck.

My wise mentor reminded me of the story from John 8 about the Pharisees who went to stone the adulterous woman. But Jesus after mysteriously drawing in the sand he stopped them by saying,

“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

She went on to tell me that some Pharisees dropped their stones, but some threw them in anger wishing as they hit the ground, their stones had been directed at her still. The scariest and most disturbing, were those who hung onto their stones as they walked away. Not letting it go. Saving them to be thrown later.

She explained that the hurt I was feeling was because I was hanging onto a stone of accusation against the people involved. She shocked and challenged me by flatly saying,

“You can’t trust people. We put our trust in God alone. Only He is perfect.” 

I realized that I had been putting more of my sense of worth or security in my standing with others than with what God says or how he gives me worth. “Imagine that Jesus is on one side of a scale.” She said. “What in all of creation could equal him? All the angels? All riches?”

It felt like a trick question. No obviously nothing is worth what Jesus is worth. She continued, “And yet, Jesus said that you are worth his putting on skin, living a pure life and for the joy set before him pain and sacrifice. Even death.

Jesus says the same about everyone’s worth. So if we begin to see others through Christ’s ascribed worth and love it makes it easier to forgive.

She asked me if I ever get angry at Josephine for messing her diaper. No of course not! “That’s what they did when they hurt you.” she explained, “They just messed their diapers.” She led me through a few prayers and I was able to let go of the stones I had been carrying. I’m so grateful for a safe coach to love me enough to help me walk through this. And most of all I’m humbled and grateful all the more for the continued working out of my salvation and the renewing of my mind through the love of Jesus. Profound freedom and joy are found in this Love.

Repentance and Forgiveness are very similar, in that we often need to say these prayers out loud with someone and making the choice to do so is not often in line with how we feel in that moment. But God honors when we choose to forgive and repent. In my experience He rushes in quicker than I think He should and gives freedom and all of it’s feelings after we choose to let go of those stones.

And I’m convinced that sometimes forgiving others and repentance are the same thing.

There’s always more to say more to learn. What are your thoughts on these things? That’s all for now- thanks for reading commenting and following!

J

I was MADE for this…

Sometimes when I’m singing there are these transcendent moments of fully expressing myself in my giftings and everything in the universe clicks into place. And it’s so natural for me to think,

“I was MADE for this!”. 

But my perspective completely changed, as it often does, after I sat down with my dad about a month ago to talk about how expressing my personal dreams and goals might intersect within our church’s Missional Communities.

Now, my understanding of what a missional community is, is still growing and I’m sure will change, as all visionary plans are moving targets with their own life cycles (see the Teach Me page). But I’ll take a stab at describing them. A Missional Community at Navah Church KC is a group of friends who intentionally get to know each other’s stories, pray together, eat meals together, serve our communities and neighborhoods and try to live out what the church of Acts might look like today. My dad coached the church into this M.C. idea in the last year and we are slowly growing these communities at the pace of relationship. As I said, the process is slow. But roots that go down deep can support a strong tree that will bear much fruit. So we are rooting our relationships with the Trinity and with each other at a natural pace. [Hit the link above to learn more on M.C.’s from the Navah website.]

So back to, “I was MADE to sing!” I asked my dad if there might be two missional communities that I’d connect to. One relationship-first and with a missional focus towards my neighborhood or whatever that becomes, and one with a focus on expressing my dream of using my musical gifts with other musicians and worshipers.

He surprised me by challenging the notion that my individual dream or goal is the best use of my giftings, or will be the most fulfilling thing to pursue in my life. He explained that this “But I was born to do this.” feeling is a very culturally western and individualistic  idea.   We played out the scenario big picture. If I pursued the idea that I was MADE to sing as the fulfilling force and driving purpose of my life, what would it do to my family? Would my relationships and every other thing be subject to that gift? It seemed like a good path to a broken sad life. By the end of our conversation I was realizing that “I was made for this.” is a small perspective and a bad starting point to answer the age old, “what should I be doing that will fulfill and bring meaning and purpose to my life? Are there things I was put on this planet to do? ” I think turning 30 has also turned up the pressure I feel from these kind of repeating questions.

Now I’m the first to say it is important to know and recognize how beautifully unique God has made each of us (see Read Me). In fact, (ha! of course I know this..) seeing “individualization” is one of my top 5 Strengths on the Strength Finders quiz. But through this conversation I am coming to realize that our talents are called “gifts”not only because they were given to us as presents from the Father, but because they are to be given away in service and as a blessing to others. If all of the worshipers got together and were not serving each M.C. it would be monocultural.

The opposite of a monoculture is a permaculture. Wikipedia says, “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system…..The focus of permaculture, therefore, is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.”

This is the vision of a Missional Community. Each one bringing their unique gifts to the table to be celebrated and brought with full love thy neighbor as yourself, kingdom-come, submission and service.

“I was made to sing.” has turned into,

“I was made for relationship with God.” and,

“I was made to worship and encounter God, and serve others when I sing.”

That feels like the right place for my gifts to land. They don’t own me. I don’t owe them. But they serve and edify all when they are given as freely as they were received.

Well, that’s it for now.  And as always, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned about these things. Let’s continue the conversation and keep learning together.

J

 

[featured photo is of my mother at her potter’s wheel]

 

Hi there-

It’s been awhile since I’ve added to this blog, so I’ve updated the theme. I feel like a different person than the one who wrote all of these older posts. They were not written that long ago but I am in such a different place now. Life is full and good. Which means finding reflective moments to write will be something to work on. But I am hoping to share more often on things God and others are teaching me, share songs and their processes, and other general thoughts. I am a record keeper by nature and I really need to start archiving my journey again simply to get these things out of my brain.

I am on the long journey called motherhood. Finally! I am tired and growing in patience and my house is a mess and I’m loving every minute. She’s finally here! What a joy-profound to care for my sweet  beautiful little girl Josephine Mary.

More soon on what I’m learning about Forgiveness, Patience, Relationships and whatever else the Holy Spirit is revealing to me along the way.

Until then,

J