I am the only son

This video only has some 30,000 views on YouTube.  I’m certain a couple thousand are my own.  It’s just so good, so very good.  Mumford and Sons are at the center of my musical world.  I don’t know with any certainty they are Christians, but I assume they are and don’t care if they aren’t.  Every song has a underlying message of grace, suffering, forgiveness, and love that are undeniable.  And not a romantic love; it’s love of a Christ-like nature.  Love that is immeasurable and unconditional.  I often view their music through the lens of my Christian heart and it’s something that produces hope in me.

Most of their songs are easy to see with a Christian viewpoint, but this one poses a challenge.  The Dust Bowl Dance is the song, and it’s a favorite of mine.  The core of the lyrics are in reference to the Grapes of Wrath, but it goes further than that, and I’ve had fun thinking over the possibilities.  The song is full of passion, incite, and justifiable anger.  This part always stands out to me:

Well you are my accuser, now look in my face,
Your oppression reeks of your greed and disgrace,
So one man has and another has not,
How can you love what it is you have got,
When you took it all from the weak hands of the poor?
Liars and thieves you know not what is in store.

There will come a time I will look in your eye,
You will pray to the God that you always denied,
The I’ll go out back and I’ll get my gun,
I’ll say, “You haven’t met me, I am the only son”.

Now, just to be clear, I have no factual reason to believe the only son is a figure of Christ.  But I like the picture it paints when you place Jesus into the end of the song as the only son (and yes, some lady in the audience is holding a song with incorrect lyrics).  But picture it … it’s judgment day.  There are people lined up to face Christ, realizing what they thought to be untrue is actually true, knowing they fell short (the same way we all have), hoping for redemption, and what does Christ do?  He goes out back and gets his gun.

Through the lens of a conservative Christian idea of judgment, Jesus pegging off non-believers with a gun could be the compassionate choice.  And yet, when I imagine judgment I don’t picture Jesus with a gun shooting people down, I don’t imagine him physically picking people up and throwing them into a fiery hell to burn in conscious never ending torture for all eternity.

How can there be a promise of an eternal kingdom that is free from pain, suffering, and tears (Rev 21:4) when eternal torture will still be present in that place after d-day?  I’m not staking any claims on my beliefs here, but it’s the thoughts that I thought today … and I thought I would share.

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I Am No Longer A Machine

I realized something today as I was standing in front of my oven, carefully placing eight dinosaur chicken nuggets in a row on a pan.   Both my children were at the kitchen table, happily playing with crayons and blocks.  It was almost noon on a Monday.  It was at this moment it dawned on me that I am no longer a machine.

See as I was standing there, joy in my heart, gazing over their work – encouraging them, helping them, laughing with them – I felt a pang in my stomach.  A knot of anxiety jabbed me deep in my gut.  I knew what it was telling me, why it had graced me with it’s disgusting presence.  I wasn’t producing anything for it.  I wasn’t doing anything that could be formulated into a spreadsheet to display my progress or lack thereof.

At a previous corporate position I held, we had “Our Numbers”.  Or at least, that is what we called them in our department.  I’m certain this report had an official name, something like quarterly summery progress report, I suppose.  To the people in my department though, it was the still small voice in the part of our brains – not stemming from the Spirit – but stemming from Corporate America.  It was the voice that reminded us time is money.  It reminded us that we were nothing more than the production we put out.  It reminded us that in order to get a raise, which on a good year would equal half of the cost of living increase, was determined by the outcome of “Our Numbers”.

There is joy in hard work, company loyalty, and work ethic – all of which I like to think I possess.  There is also a time for simply living in the moment.  We were not built to be machines.  We were built to create, procreate, and honor the earth we were given.

I spent almost 45 minutes with Isaac this morning doing two things; trying to get him to say “shoe” and playfully helping him pull his shoe on his foot.  I spent 45 minutes with my child in which the worth of my time could not be determined.  I spent 45 minutes in which I did not produce and no client could be billed for my time.  Isaac will likely not be putting shoes on by himself anytime soon. And when he does say “shoe”, it could have been the exact same day he would have learned this word if I had not spent those 45 minutes working with him on it.

My worth is no longer determined by my production.  It is not determined by numbers, graphs, or progress reports.  My worth, in my home, with my children, is the level at which I am able to love them … a worth that cannot be broken down and analyzed.  The deep longing I have always had to stay at home with my children, is to be given the opportunity to simply love on them more hours of the day.  I am here to love them.  Nothing I do, or don’t do, short of loving them is going to change that.

I am no longer a machine … and this will take some getting used to.

Holidays are Hard

I bawled in church today like a little girl who just got her pigtails pulled.  Jesus is risen.  Happy Easter.  Holidays are hard.  It’s hard to set out Easter eggs, watch the kid’s excitement in the morning, and not feel overwhelmed that Matt isn’t here to experience it with us.  It doesn’t help that I’m wading through my own messy depression, but reflecting on the mourning of Christ’s death just seems so much more understandable after grieving my own loved one.

Since posting last night, four things have happened that have made me decide to change directions in my writing.  These occurrences have given me a glimpse of the clarity I have been praying for.  The first thing that happened was I listened to a Rob Bell sermon from the 2011 Lent season.  I had started on the sermon series about a week ago.  When I came to this particular sermon I decided to wait before listening; somehow knowing it was going to have an impact on me.  The sermon contents, which did impact me greatly, brought me to the next thing.  I realized I wasn’t putting my trust in God as I have before, and I wasn’t doing this because I was being discouraged by lies from something ugly.  As far as I know, these are new lies, with a new message, that are being whispered to me … which I suppose is why I had so much trouble identifying them as such.  They twisted the truth so that it appeared … well, true.  The third thing?  Illumination Church this morning.  The worship, the resurrection, the sermon, my church family … the whole experience gave me the opportunity to open the flood gates I had been holding back for far too long.  And finally, a conversation with my ever gentle and loving Brad that helped me to more clearly state the feelings I was having, and some ideas on where to go from here.

I think where I am headed is to define who I am in Christ.  I want descriptive, colorful, and hopeful words on which to look to when the lies are whispered.  I’m going to the Bible, and I’m going to find and dig deep into these words.  There is solid ground on which to defeat these lies, and by the grace of God, I’m off to find it.  I want to lean on my risen Savior this Easter and remember His reply to Satan, when he quoted Deuteronomy out in the desert.  Jesus said to him “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  I am trying to live on bread alone.  I love God, I worship God, I look to God for answers, and pray to Him everyday.  But when the sunsets on another day I – far too often – think the results will need to come from me.  Nothing comes forth from me that isn’t of Christ, and I am making myself available to the Holy Spirit to write this truth on my heart.

I wish you all grace and peace on this beautiful Easter!

I gave up writing for Lent

Well, that’s a lie.  I didn’t give up writing for lent, and although it hasn’t been a full 40 days of blogging silence, I do feel like it’s been too long.  I feel like I’m breaking some sort of silence.  I’m on a type of journey; undergoing the change from working 9-5, to now being a stay at home mom with two young children.  I have always worked a 9-5 type job, and this life change has brought on waves of emotions I wasn’t expecting.  At times, I’m overjoyed.  At other times, I’m depressed.  I haven’t been writing.  I haven’t been writing because I feel confused about what it is I should be doing.  It’s as if I got lost somewhere between 2 months ago and today; like I was on a path, going in a direction, thinking this change was part of the plan, and now that I’m here I feel like I’m lost.

This sense of being lost is scary.  The challenges of being a stay at home mom are …. intense.  I keep having flash backs of conversations I’ve had over the years with stay at home moms – conversations about their day to day lives, about the difficulty of the job.  During these conversations, at best, I was unable to relate; at worst, I just plain did not understand.  But here I am, understanding completely.  I’m starving for a conversation that doesn’t include the topics of mac n cheese, SpongeBob, or bathroom humor.  I feel isolated, and yet I feel like I’m constantly running circles … the to-do list that is constantly growing, a child in need of something else, or a mess that needs to be cleaned.  I can’t seem to find one moment to pick up the phone to talk to a friend.  I feel guilty for not talking to my friends more.  I love the opportunity to be home with my kids, but love it or not, I’m struggling.

It so much more than the busy, the isolation, and the challenges.  I’m also struggling to change the way I view myself.  I can’t seem to lay a finger on my new role and this bothers me.  I like to have a clear vision for my goals, my tasks, and my responsibilities.  And I am still working through how each of these things should now look.

Then there is the silence in my writing.  So many things have contributed to this … sadly, none of the reasons are a lack of things to say.  I just feel lost here as well.  Writing with two small children, who are always in need of something, is near impossible for me.  Is blogging still helping me?  Am I still connecting with others?  Is it part of this new role for me?  Does it matter either way … does anyone care but me?  Probably not.  I do still believe that God cares though.  I am not doubting His plan for me, or that He has one.  I am not doubting that the plan has always been there, and is still in progress.  But there are times in your life where you can see so clearly, and you feel confidence in knowing where He is taking you.  There are also times that you are just moving forward.  Right now, I am just moving forward.

I feel lost without the clarity I possessed throughout the last year.  I feel too often like I’m letting others down, doing too little of the right things, and too many of the wrong things.  These emotional tugs drag me through depression, and that has never been a fun place for me.  I have been praying for clarity to return, and I will continue to seek Him.  I’m going to push through my fears of anxious blogging, and keep writing.  I’m going to remember back a year ago, and take my own advice to show myself grace.  I’m not going to give up.  I’m going to move forward.  I’m going to seek peace.