Friday, December 20, 2013

Schizophrenic faith...

"When we all get to heaven... what a day of rejoicing that will be.... when we all see Jesus... we'll sing and shout the victory..."

That song was playing in my head this morning... RANDOM! But it got me thinking....

You know what I think is going to happen on that day of rejoicing? A big collective sigh of relief. You know what about? The fact that we got there even though we got a lot - a LOT - of things wrong...

I inadvertently upset the atheist set on Twitter earlier this week. I posted an article that I thought was an interesting that surmised that it's not possible for one to be a "good atheist." I think some of the reaction was misinterpretation at the title, because it wasn't saying someone couldn't be a good person and be an atheist, it talked about the contradictions in the "faith" (my word) of atheism. I don't get Twitter updates on my phone so it was hours later before I stopped back by so there was a list of angry and irritated responses by the time I got there, making lots of surmises about me and what I believe. You'd have thought they were Christians they way that they made angry and defensive generalizations. (Wink, wink - get a sense of humor my Christian friend.)

One of the "points" that came up in the ensuing discussion was the inconsistency of our faith. Someone said something to the effect of "if you got a room full or pastors/ preachers in one room and asked them all the same questions you'd get a whole variety of differing answers." And it's true.

There are so so so many topics "we" (the church) disagree on. To name a few: the gifts (uh hello, tongues?); the place of women in ministry and the church; the rapture; the last days (pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib); pre-destination vs. free will; Arminianism and Calvinism (look it up)... The list goes on and on. And our precious little "Body" is divided all over the place. If we were able to make a person-sized model, the reality is it would be a wretch of a schizophrenic chap.

And every sect of us is totally convinced we are right and our answers are absolute. And let's face facts, we can't all be right. Either the pre-tribbers or post-tribbers have a solid "I told you so" up ahead, I don't actually think we'll have any interest in speaking it when the time comes, but the opportunity will be there for someone (Me, I don't think you mid-tribbers have a shot, but maybe - you'll have the right to give me an "in your face!" if I'm mistaken.

I think it's sad that so many Christians are afraid to admit they don't have all the answers, and instead of denying that there is a certain level of "blind faith" in our faith. There's a leap we all take - for some of us it's a longer wider leap than for others, but at the end of the day, even the most studied and certain theologist or the most "sense it and believe it" prophetically gifted pentacostal has a gap between what they know and what is real.

I think the reality is the world is completely black and white, right and wrong, no subjective truth - and I don't believe that a single one of us is going to get 100% A+ on the quiz - thank GOD that we don't have to pass to get into heaven.  I'm glad that this "walk of faith" is really a "best ball" tournament in life and that only the shots Jesus is hitting are going to count for anything in the end.

That's the one thing that is the non-negotiable - Jesus.  "The Way, the Truth and the Life." He said it Himself - NO ONE comes to the Father except by Him.  Everything else has a multitude of interpretations and they just can't all be right.  And it makes me sad when I see Christian friends get all pent up and heated over their need to be absolutely right.  It hurts me because I've been there.

I've been in that place where my need to fight for what I was convinced was RIGHT and TRUE.  I've felt the rush that starts in the stomach and moves up through the shoulders into the brain.  Your blood pressure elevates and your hands begin to shake a little.  Your breath catches in your throat.  A mix of anger and intensity battles for release. You try to choose your words carefully "in Christian love" but the more you disagree the harder it gets to be peaceable and kind.  And that's just when you're disagreeing with another Christian!  Don't even get me started when you are disagreeing with a non-Christian who actually feels like a threat to your faith.

My encouragement to you is simple: when disagreeing with a fellow believer, take a deep breath.  Remember 2 things.  (1) It's OK if you're wrong. It's possible, and worst case scenario, when it's not the "Christ and Him crucified, raised from the dead on the third day" essential, there's a pretty good chance you could actually BE wrong. It's not the end of the world. (2) It's OK to disagree. It's ok to "agree to disagree"

When it comes to unbelievers (non-believers) - my encouragement to you is this, no one was ever argued into the faith. And you need to remember that just because someone doesn't believe what you believe, or even worse, if they are actually against what you believe, they are STILL NOT YOUR ENEMY. The Bible says it "we do not war against flesh and blood." And if you can stand nose to nose or even "tweet to tweet" against another, they are not the enemy. And Jesus didn't call you to come and defend Him or His word - He called you to love and serve the lost and dying world, and let the Holy Spirit be about the work of convincing.

I'm not arguing against your certainty or your beliefs, I am inviting you to at least accept some small measure of "what if." "What if I am mistaken? What if I missed the mark on some point of the plan of salvation? I have news for you, THAT is why Jesus came for you, because "sin" is just "missing the mark," and you need Jesus to fill in the shortcomings in every aspect of who you are - what you believe, what you do, how you act, what you think, how you love - it ALL falls short, and WE all fall short, and it's why Jesus came. NOT to school us, but He came to save us- from our sin and from ourselves.

I'm not negating the importance of knowing and being in God's word, it's study, meditation and instruction are all critical, but keep in mind we all make mistakes. I am not the perfect Christian, you are not the perfect Christian. We are not all-knowing, not all-understanding, and I say it again THAT'S OK.

Let us not focus on the fight and disagreement - let's focus on the love and the unity in the body - those were Christ's priorities for us. "Love God and love one another," those were His greatest commands. "SPEAK GRACE," the bible says "SEASONED with salt." The key there is the message of His love and grace trumps the nitpicky need to talk about the details of what we perceive as absolute truth (remember I am NOT talking about the plan of salvation.)

What if we were actually approachable? What if we could actually have calm conversations about the differences and confusion in what all the different denominations believe about topics that unbelievers get passionate about? What if we could reason together and not get to the contentious point that our passion overwhelms our compassion. What if our sadness over an unbeliever being lost made us love them enough that we didn't have to beat them over the head with our Bibles? What would happen?

Maybe I am completely wrong about all of this. I'm so thankful I'm getting to heaven on Jesus and not on being right - and not on convincing everyone else I'm right either.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Phil, I think you kinda blew it...

Pulling up my big girl panties before I even start this post because I'm relatively certain I am going to piss off people on both sides of the media highlighted line that has been drawn down the middle of this controversy.

Now it's new, so I have a lot of wonder and questions that are yet to be answered that only time will tell, so (as is the prerogative and point of a blog) I'm just sharing my thoughts, perspective and still forming opinions over the matter.

First off, I don't disagree with Phil's evaluation of homosexuality - deep breath, about to anger the liberals - here it goes, homosexuality is a sin.

I do disagree with Phil's ignorance or preference (I can't be sure which it was) to get descriptive about body parts. I can't imagine that he would speak that way in front of his wife or his grandchildren on the topic so I honestly have to wonder why he would use the terminologies that he did in a national publication. There probably should have been some hesitation there that apparently wasn't. And be honest, if somebody was standing in your living room and discussing homosexuality and talked about it using the same words (whether reiterating Phil's sentiment or one that was the opposing point of view) the words would have likely been offensive.

I will grant you there are probably no small children reading GQ, but one of the things we get in trouble for as Christians is when we compartmentalize our words, actions and attitudes. The unbelieving world likes to point us out and declare "HYPOCRISY!" when we do that, and so we shouldn't do it.

OK, so I can imagine the stirring that statement just caused in all the Christians who are making this a "freedom of speech" issue. First off, I call "Bullshit" on a big chunk of you Christians who are trying to make it about that. We are no better than the liberals who want to silence us - we'd be just as happy to silence them.

But OK, let's make this about "freedom." I've got news for my fellow Christians - your freedom isn't from the American government. The bible tells us that "It's for freedom that Christ has set us free...." CHRIST has set us free. Your freedoms are not from your government they are from the Lord, and even if they are "infringed upon" by the good Ol' USA, it is not apart from the filter of God's mighty (mightiER) hand.

And while we are on the topic, your freedoms aren't even supposed to be about you. The Bible tells us we have them, but we have to keep in mind how our exercise of them affects those around us. Exercising our freedoms has to be about how we impact others.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33

This is where I think Phil really blew it. Did he have the right to say it? Yes. But did it need to be said? No, not really. This is a man who has been gifted with this great opportunity to influence millions of people. And unfortunately with one foolish interview he may have lost the opportunity. Yes, lots of angry Christians will rally behind him and boycott A&E, but we were not the audience he had the power to influence anyway. We were not his mission field. He's now run the risk of losing that opportunity.

No one was surprised by his beliefs. Honestly, I can't help but wonder if GQ didn't have an agenda moving the conversation in the direction that they did. (I have not read the interview but I have a hard time believing that Phil said, "Hey I want you to know what I think about homosexuals.") I think they asked the question knowing his answers and then relished the poor way he expressed them. Phil could have just as easily kept to the less quoted part of his statement "I love all humanity... made in God's image..." (bad paraphrase) He could have even said, "I believe what the Bible says about homosexuality and it wouldn't have erupted in the firestorm that is now blazing all over social media.

At the end of the day that's the part that makes me the saddest. "The I stand with Phil" eruption all over Facebook and Twitter does absolutely nothing to reach out to the lost people whom Jesus loves. Yes, that's right folks, the fags and the homos and the lezbos that so many of us Christians have dismissed as lost causes and threats to our way of life? Jesus loves them, dearly. And He wants nothing more than for them to know that love and when we get all fired up and politicized about a TV show, we, His representatives just push those people away, and the "love of Christ" that is supposed to be pouring out of our lives is drown out by our words.

We say "love the sinner and hate the sin," but when all you're talking about is your right to hate their sin, and the right to do it publicly, well, they no longer care, much less believe, you give a damn about them as people. That Jesus of ours wouldn't have thought twice about hanging out at the gay bar getting to know these folks in hopes of telling them about the Creator who loves them. He certainly wouldn't have been giving interviews to talk about the biblically correct choice of vaginas over anuses, and because Phil did, he dropped the ball on representing Jesus.

Yes, I know, we ALL do that. We all do that EVERY day (I'm willing to guess a few/many of you are pretty convinced I'm doing a lousy job of representin' right about now too)- and honestly, I am not condemning him for his mistake, but to whom much is given, much is required. He has a huge platform and with that platform comes a greater responsibility with his words and where and how he speaks them. And I think he blew it. And that's a real shame.

I still have a lot of curiosity about how things will play out from here. Two hours ago I was a little irked by the so far silence of his family. I wondered if they would be willing to put their money where their faith is and back their father, but the more I chew on it, maybe they need to preserve their opportunity to maintain the platform for the rest of the family. It will be a difficult task, but I hope they figure out a way to do that without compromise. It won't be easy.

I wasn't watching the show a whole lot in the first place (though my family does) but I have to say I will not be boycotting A&E - not that I think it will be some hugely successful endeavor anyway, but even if it was, why would you punish an entire network of people for the decisions of a few bigwigs at the top, that was what I never understood about the "as Christians let's come against" mentality. Not all their shows are pro-faith and pro-family before this incident, in fact I think there have been some pretty questionable and risque programs, where was the moral outrage then brothers and sisters?

At the end of the day the Bible says we are known by our love - and our time in this world is supposed to be a lifetime of a missions trip. That needs to be our first and foremost direction and purpose. Your opinions and your right to have them and express them isn't the point. Jesus is the point, and He did not come to condemn the world but to save it. So let's get about the Father's business.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The path

The older I get, and the longer I walk this walk of faith, the more I realize that the "journeys" of this life really don't come to an end, they just transition from one leg to another, with perhaps a little rest in between or along the way.

The Lord gave me a dream more than a year ago now. (And yes, I believe the Lord still speaks in dreams.) In the dream Neal and I were traveling together on a journey. We walked by and through and circled about an old "location" in our lives, and we arrived in a new place together. We were in a warehouse of sorts and it was under construction. We came in from outside but we were looking down onto the ground floor beneath us which was a long way down.

Without thinking my husband jumped off the ledge and landed safely below. He beckoned me to follow him assuring me he was fine from the jump and that I would be as well. But I would not jump, Instead, I stepped back away from the ledge and turned to my left where I found a long staircase that led down to where my husband was waiting. The stairwell was wide, white and sort of inviting. It was the kind of staircase where the individual steps were very shallow but they were also long - and the stairs curved around in such a way that I couldn't see very far up ahead, but the stairwell was well lit. At the end of the staircase was Neal, right where he landed from his jump, and he was waiting for me.

Now apart from the deeper personal meaning that the dream spoke to me, and forsaking other specific details, I do have a point. Where we ended up, Neal and I, was in the exact same place - how we got there was two very different journeys.

In and of itself, I think it's a good metaphor for the Walk of Faith. From cross to eternity, we are all making the same trip. However the path and journey that gets us there is individual to each and every one of us.

Now let me be clear, I am NOT preaching an "all roads lead to heaven" belief system here. Please note that I have said very specifically that the pathway to heaven begins at the cross of Christ. But the steps we take in between are individual to each one of us in a thousand different ways - to name a few: strengths and weaknesses, victories and struggles, experiences, even convictions, understanding and confusions - all of these things play a part in the stepping stones and obstacles along the walk of faith.

Too often we get a very narrow perception that the way God speaks to us is the way He speaks to everyone. And we think that His convictions for us are a blanket black and white, right and wrong issue.

For example: Neal and I recommitted our lives to Christ within in a few months of one another. For me God did some immediate hard core convicting and took two things away - Stephen King novels and secular music. Reading wasn't an issue for my hubby, but he is the music man. I found myself really bothered by the fact that he still listened to a lot of music that I didn't think was music he should be listening to. At times I felt pretty passionate - even hostile about it.

The Holy Spirit, thankfully, was quick to backing me off preaching it AT my husband, another story to tell, but not the point of this blog. Eventually God did bring some conviction to Neal, and he changed part of the things that he listened to, but he was not called to the entire abandonment of all secular music that I felt compelled to. It was years later when we were in his car and a song came on that I realized at least in part why there was a difference in conviction.

The song on the radio had a very sexual and inappropriate lyric. I was mortified. Neal didn't even hear it. He'd heard the song a thousand times and never heard the lyric. I heard the song and didn't hear anything but the lyric. I'm a word person, I hear words. Neal is a musician and he hears drum beats and guitar licks and melodies or harmonies (insert a laundry list of other musical terms I don't even know enough to come up with) so our convictions were different because we were different. Both of us all the while wanting to honor God in our words, actions, attitudes and lives.

There are a lot of areas the we as Christians have strong convictions and compulsions that the Body of Christ is well-divided over: drink, don't drink, dance, don't dance, movies, foods, music, politics, causes, parenting methods, the list goes on and on.

And too often as Christians we get so busy with our opinions and policing how other people live their lives that we stop putting our focus on what the Holy Spirit is speaking into our own hearts and minds.

But here's the thing - we are not walking the walk of faith in anyone else's shoes. And at the end of the day the Holy Spirit doesn't need us doing His job in one another's lives. We're not qualified to play that role. We're filtering other people's circumstances through our own experiences and that's dangerous ground.

That's not to say that there isn't a place for wise and godly counsel - specifically biblical counsel, there is, but we're not all called to dole it out without invitation. And when I say "the older I get" I am learning this, I am learning from my mistakes more than my successes. I spent too many years considering myself an expert on the lives of everyone else and pushing people away with "insights and opinions" that were never sought out in the first place.

We need to learn to give each other more grace - grace to learn and to grow and tune our ear to the Holy Spirit on our own. The paths are not perfect, but so long as it is Christ that we pursue, the right direction is ahead.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Victoria Gayle

It was the first time I ever heard the voice of God, maybe the only time I ever heard it so clearly that it seemed like it was actually with my ears.

"You will have a daughter," the voice said as I sat in the passenger seat next to Neal riding down the 57 freeway.

"What did you say?" I asked Neal.

"Nothing," he told me, shaking his head.

It was a moment as I sat there and the realization came to me about Who and what I'd heard.

I was childless at the time, and convinced I always would be. It was a self=imposed pity part that the voice broke me free from. And I say dumbfounded, a new baby Christian who didn't know enough about God or the Bible to be certain - I couldn't be certain that God would speak to me, but neither could I be certain that He wouldn't. I just didn't know.

The place of blind faith can be a blessed place to be, taking God at His word.

It was nearly ten years and definitely two sons later before the little girl God promised me was placed in my arms. In the intensity of delivering into the world my doctor whose hands eased her through the process called out to me and said "look at your baby!" as he lifted her up on to my belly and I met her for the first time.

She was this little round, pear shaped bundle with short little stubby legs. My very first thought about her was that she looked like my mother-in-law. I instantly fell in love with her. She showed up just before midnight, and we called her grandparents and her brothers to let them know she was here.

I can hardly believe that tomorrow will mark a dozen years since that spectacular day. God's first promise to me was fulfilled, and as I look back now, I do not believe He could have done it in a more perfect way.

As I look at my darling girl who looks so much older than 12, I can honestly say she is everything I never knew I wanted in a daughter. She's a perfect mix of the sensitive "girlie-girl" that I never was. She is tenderhearted and thoughtful in ways that far exceed her years. But she also makes this pendulum swing to the other end of her personality that can play hard and loves to be on the move. She has an athletic power and a lithe grace all at the same time. She is everything I ever wanted to be at her age.

Victoria's laugh is one of my favorite sounds on the whole planet. Her baby laugh was priceless, but even now as a big girl her laugh is infectious and contagious, and her whole countenance lights up when she lets it go. My whole warms up when I watch her smile and laugh.

I am amazed by my daughter as she is moving into adolescence. A lot of struggle and difficulty over the last few years dealing with difficult peers has developed in her a kindness and compassion for others that makes it completely worth the struggle, because from the cocoon of trial and difficulty, I see emerging a beautiful butterfly.

Her name, Victoria Gayle, is one the Lord gave me for her over the years while I awaited for him to fulfill his promise - Victoria, the victorious one. Her middle name Gayle meaning festive party. God really named her perfectly.

I cannot believe it's been nearly 22 years since God first whispered into my ear the promise of a little baby girl. I find it even harder to believe a dozen years will have passed by before midnight tomorrow night. I am so grateful for my precious princess.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Prince of Peace

Holy flip flops Batman - is Christmas really less than two weeks away? (I don't know why, it's just what came to me...)

The weather outside is frightful - we Californians have been suffering fear of frostbite with arctic temperatures in the 50s the past couple weeks. I know, I know, I can hear people know with tales of 17 degrees and ice falling off buildings and smashing cars, but let me just say, there's a reason I live in So Cal and there is a reason I will probably die in So Cal - and there will be no slowing of the aging process courtest of icy temps. My family can't even get me to drudge up to Big Bear Mountain for a weekend - I DON'T DO COLD.

Of course I wasn't thrilled to hear it'll be in the 80s by this time next week. I'm extremely temperature specific in my desires. 60s for "winter, 70s in fall and spring and a good upper 80s summer speaks right to my satisfaction meter (if I had one.)

I can't believe Christmas is less than two weeks away. I can say so far only two members in my family are getting any gifts from me, and only one has actually arrived, and it's not even wrapped. It's actually in plain sight in a particular place that I cannot divulge but let's just say my eye wanders to it repeatedly during the week between the hours of 9 am and 3 pm.

We don't have a tree yet... We went last Sunday, piled the family in the car the way I talked about in the last blog, but we hit the one Christmas tree lot where we have had such success the last two years and I think we arrived just after the entire crowd that had picked the lot clean. I saw a guy holding up my perfect tree but thought better of tackling him for it because I thought my success of making a run for it through the large payment line was slim, and his legs looked long. SO yeah, we bailed.

That was when I diverted the family. I wooed them away from the idea of checking out another lot (becaus eI am convinced last weekend was THE weekend to get your tree. Instead I got them to travel over the river and through the woods... ok, not really, more like down a couple freeways - but we wnt and saw a living nativity in Claremont. It was pretty cool - we walked a long pathway that stopped at different "scenes" of the Chritmas story. We saw Joseph freak out in front of a rather comedic innkeeper (I struggled with that one a little) and we saw the shepherds shocked by angels, Herod manipulating Magi - there was about 10 scenes in all.

The final scene was the little stable where MAry and Joseph sat, a perfect little baby laying asleep in a manger before them. It was a beautiful little doll, so lifelike and perfect, but it couldn't be real because it was perfectly still in the midst of a lot of chaos. Horses and Roman soldiers riding about, fussy kids in the crowd, a sheep here, a donkey braying there. There was this sweet little representation of peace in the middle of it all.

I was shocked to find out the doll playing Jesus really was a real live baby. He was so quiet and still. Peace personified...

The Prince of Peace.

That's what I'm looking for. It's why shopping and shopping and spending and wrapping just don't appeal to me.

I don't want Christmas to be an event.

I want it to be a Person.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Last night I had the opportunity to share with a group of young moms. They laughed as I stood before them I declared I was a "card carrying member" of the Bah-humbug club. I must confess, we don't actually have official cards, and we kind of even avoid cards, since those take on a whole other meaning and life in the holiday season.

I am christmas resistant. Please note the little "c" in my christmas, because it's that part of the holiday I struggle with, the little "c" in christmas that translates to a big "C" in Chaos. It's of the Chaos of christmas that I am just not a fan.

A late Thanksgiving seems to exacerbate the problem. It's like you just start to wake up out of your turkey coma and it's time to hit the ground running, but not till Saturday because you'll just never find me out shopping anywhere on a "BLACK Friday." I tried it once and never made it past my computer screen. And then I asked myself, why would I ever want to make it past my computer screen? That's what Cyber Monday is for - (which truthfully, I didn't participate in that either) - but really, I'm an Amazon Prime member, so with free two day shipping I don't actually have to panic about christmas (still the little c) until at least the 20th of December.

I am the sole Bah-humbug member of my household. My oldest started playing Christmas carols (yes I gave him a big C) in early October - and he honestly waited as long as he could. The boy lives for Christmas (again big C) and manages to rise above the chaos of the holiday. (See, he exchanged his Christmas and chaos c's.)

My younger kids and their father, the biggest kid of the house, live for Thanksgiving weekend and the decorating of the casa. While I hide inside and try to hold them off at the front door, they live for lights and outdoor decor. If you drop by now, outside resembles a Christmas wonderland, but inside remains business as usual... but they are working on me, they want that tree, once I give in there, there's no turning back. christmas will vomit all over the house (still the little c, mind you.)

The shopping, the decorating, the wrapping - so much busyness packed into such a short amount of time. The hustle and bustle I see others seem to feed off just makes me want to retreat.

But they'll get me - they'll beg and they'll bargain and cajole until I've waited long enough into December not to fear a roman candle in the living room by New Year's and then we'll finally get that tree.

It's got to be a real tree - no fake ones for this girl. I love the family all piling in the truck and driving from tree lot to tree lot till we find the perfect tree... ok, that's not quite accurate, I love piling the family into the truck and heading out, but I am perfectly satisfied with the tree being found at the first lot we stop at. Nowadays everyone is tall enough to prop up their favorite and make their case. It's funny how they all make their pleas. Me, I'd love a short Charlie Brown tree, short being the key word, but I refrain from a little of the Bah Humbug when the parts of Christmas I actually enjoy are happening, like my four favorite people on the planet all being together for one single purpose and doing it with laughter and joy... that's the Christmas activity I can get on board with.

That night after we get the tree is one of my favorite nights of the season. Putting the lights on the tree is my big contribution to the holiday decor. It's the one thing I do. I put on a Christmas movie in the living room and start wading through the sea of lights, picking out and replacing the faulty bulbs and transferring the bundle on the floor into a string around the tree doing my best to hide every wire. Slowly the companionship ceases, the (not so) littles head off to bed, my hubby follows, or sometimes takes a snooze near the tree, and eventually even Jacob will call out "'night mom" as he heads to bed and I alone circle the tree putting every light in it's perfect spot.

It's a long night and somewhere between midnight and 3 am depending on the cooperation of the lights I find myself finished. It's the moment I wait for. I turn all the rest of the lights in the house off and I just sit back and admire the tree. I sort of bask in the light, if you will.

I wish the whole christmas season was like that, basking in the Light (big L) because it's my firm belief that that's what takes us from christmas to CHRISTmas.

I Bah Humbug not what Christmas is really all about, but what we let it become - when our focus is on what's going on on the outside and we leave the inside in a "business as usual way."

Christmas should be about Christ. OK, I'm not saying disregard the the decorations and the gifts we give each other, but I am saying that all should certainly take a back seat to the real reason for the season.

Emmanuel "God with us" is what Christmas is supposed to be all about. The Light of the world came into the world to save sinners. If Christmas never happened we would have no home in heaven to hope for. Jesus came, that's what Christmas is all about.

So I would encourage you this season stop at the tree, bask in the Light, and make moments of remembrance as to what you're really celebrating. Bah Humbug to christmas, Jesus is the reason for the Season, so Merry Christmas to one and all.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's all gonna burn...

I had this very gut wrenching moment recently that I have been quietly analyzing and pondering ever since.

I found myself sitting in a Hillsong United conference sitting amidst my husband's "people." It was a bit of a fluke with a backyard bbq drawing that had even placed me in my seat among a large group of "worship people."

Friday night while we were settling into our seats and getting ready for the evening's events, I looked directly across the aisle to the exact same row in the next section over to see the seats filled with people from my old church, people who used to be "my people," people I really now in essence "used to know."

Many of them were people I was very invested in at one point, loved on, prayed for, invested in. And then I was sitting among a new crowd - all lovely people, every one of them, but no one that I really know well (well one girlfriend who I am working on getting to know well) but for the most part these are casual friends/ acquaintances, and of course my hubby. I was there because he was my connection and because God decided I should be through a modern day casting of lots.

Both sides of the aisle were worship people, but across the other way were grown people who used to be "my youth kids." People who long ago etched their names on my hearts. They were the people that made leaving our old church hard. But sadly the response to our departure was everything from sadness to suspicion, to anger and offense. And I never know exactly what any is thinking. And if you know me, you know I spend a lot of time trying to figure that out.

I was in many ways an outsider and an onlooker looking in as the Hillsong music began. And I found myself once again envying those up in front playing their instruments and singing their songs. Not for any of the reasons you might imagine, but because when I see people living in a world where their calling, their talent, their vocation and their God all collide in doing what you were made for, I'm envious and I wonder if they realized how beyond blessed they are, but that's a subject for another blog.

I was overwhelmed as I was hyper-aware of my surroundings and even more the people in them. First this amazing group I was with that I feel no real connection to, and I feel like I am making no contribution toward and then there across the aisle a group of people who I once felt completely connected to, where I felt like what i did and said mattered and made a difference in their lives, but not the reduction to polite interaction and strange "let's catch up sometime" conversations that are never really going to happen. I had to sit down and I put my head in my hands and tried to block it all out.

There alone in an auditorium full of people the words in my head rang out loud and clear. "IT'S ALL GONNA BURN."

Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

It's all gonna burn...

That's my biggest fear - that nothing I do, have done or will ever do is going to matter, is going to make a difference.

I know... believe... think... hope that's not true, but at the end of the day... at the end of a lot of days, that's how I feel.

Relationships end, impacts fade, words are forgotten (especially the good and kind ones) and I'm just not sure what I do really matters.

Oddly enough I find a little freedom in that. Because what I realize is, it's just not about me.

I have to love when the opportunity to love is there not for me, not for some payoff, not even for the sake of the person I'm loving, but because of the Lord. The reality is it's all about Jesus - and anything that isn't about Him doesn't matter, and it is going to burn.

Anything that IS about Jesus is His to do with what He will anyway. And whether it succeeds or fails is all going to come down to what He does, and not what I do.

I'm not sloughing off my responsibility to do or to love or to serve - but it has to be about Jesus, and it has to be about His purpose behind it. And I've got to let go of me.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galtians 2:20

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sense of Sadness

It's been around for days now. It's like a backdrop to life when it comes. It doesn't hinder moments of levity and life, a good giggle with a friend, or a smile at something one of my kids says that makes me proud.

Most of the time it's just inside me, heavy, weighting my heart down.

I'm coming to realize it's a part of my spiritual DNA - part of the prophetic/ discerning gift that many don't understand, or even believe exists.

I feel so very aware sometimes of the hurt in the world, inside church and out. I look around and always see the danger signs, the shortcomings, the injustice and hurt that fill the world.

I wish the role of intercessor was as ingrained in me as the awareness of the need, but alas, it is not. I want to do, to fix, to change - it's hard for me to keep silent. And it causes damage.

Sometimes the sadness is clear, and I know exactly what its source is, but more often, like this week, it's just there, in general and I end up making guesses about what it's about. I should never guess because when I do, I almost always make it about me. I feel disqualified, overlooked, I worry about my perceived injustice or rejection.

I spoke with a wise woman yesterday who is extremely discerning. She knows about and believes in all the gifts. The words "prophetic" and "discerning" don't intimidate her or baffle her.

"I've known people with those gifts," she said. "It takes its toll."

She used words like isolating and lonely - and she's right.

My heart grieves for the world around me. The lost, the hurting, the broken. Inside the church and out, they all exist. Often I am very aware that I am one of them.

Following Christ isn't all happiness and strength. On the contrary, suffering and weakness are a very real part of the walk with the Lord. How do I know? Because, His word tells us we are to REJOICE in our sufferings, and it is in our weakness that God's strength is made perfect.

But the sense of sadness never steals the joy - because joy is not emotional, it is deeper and it is abiding. Joy is in the very presence of God.

I am sad today - about a lot of things. But God is good and in Him both my joy and my hope can be found.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The battle in the second pew

I think if I was writing my autobiography that might be the title - if not of the book at least the chapter I'm walking out right now.

It's a hard confession to admit how quickly my mind can be drawn from where it ought to be on a Sunday morning down an unhealthy path of question and doubt, not only of others but of myself. A possibly misconstrued dismissal and my mind goes running down a whole list of possibilities that make my heart ache and it builds like a tide creating a fight or flight compulsion inside me that wants to flee or confront.


It's exhausting.

The battle to take thoughts captive (for me at least) is full time and difficult.

"... we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." Paul admonishes in his second letter to the Corinthians. (10:5)

It's warfare he tells us, this battle of the mind. The dangerous weapons formed against us as Christians are unseen, not seen. No guns, knives and clubs to concern ourselves with, the weapons of the enemy are far more ominous, sneaking up on a relaxed mind.

The enemy comes at us instead with doubt, fear, disunity, accusation, self-centeredness and selfishness. Suspicion - oh that's one of his favorite ones to use against me. Gets me every time too, and leads me down a long road of unhealthy thoughts and emotions.

I wish it were so simple - I can picture just snatching the thought out of the air and dropping it into a "Jesus cage" if you will. "You naughty thought, how dare you!" And I clamp the cage shut and throw away the key - AS IF!

These thoughts may flit in like a butterfly, but they have the teeth of a venomous snake and even when you grab hold of it the risk is high it's going to turn around and bite you, or worse. Do you remember the scene from "The Jungle Book" where the snake Kaa began to mesmerize little Mowgli? The thought like the snake's eyes tries to pull you in and mesmerize you. You cannot focus on it too long or suddenly it's carrying you away into an entirely unhappy, unhealthy - even deadly, place.

Mowgli gets it right though, you have to evict the thought completely to gain control. You cannot play with it even a little.

But life isn't always like a cartoon. It takes much more than brute force (however much you can muster). It takes diligence, effort and a total avoidance of complacency. It's hard work. But I am believing it has to be worth it. Right? Otherwise the Bible wouldn't tell us that's what we need to do.

I think obedience to Christ means that the thought is taken out of our hands and placed completely in Christ's - who unlike us isn't susceptible to the snake of a thought that wants to embed itself in our brains, crushing hope and life out in its efforts. I think it means first of confessing that the thought is not honoring to the Lord - whatever spin that it may take to get there, that is the bottom line, whether accusation, doubt, disunity or just a plain old lie, the thought has set itself up against the knowledge of God and cannot be tolerated much less contemplated.

It's a long and involved job, but it's necessary to live a life full in Christ. So I've got to get those spiritual muscles working, and when those thoughts come for my mind, I just have to knock them right out of the tree - maybe someday they'll stop crawling back up after me in the end!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

At the altar... (Adoption Part 3)

It was late, really late and everyone was asleep in the house but me. My husband had gone to bed, my children, Jacob age 9, Victoria who was almost 2, and Ethan who was 2 were all tucked safely in their beds. Or were they? Were they all safe? Were they even all my children? Those, strangely enough were very real questions to be asked about my Ethan.

He had been in our home since he was just a week old, in my arms from the time he was 12 hours old, and in my heart even longer than that. But suddenly we were faced with the very real threat that this adorable toe-headed little 2 1/2 year old might be taken from us. And as I sat out in my front yard on that cold, windy fall night, I was terrified.

Ethan's adoption story is the story you never tell to a family who is considering adoption. It's the kind of story that might send them running to the hills... almost. And on that night everything in life came into clear perspective - there were only two things that mattered to me, my family, and my God.

I literally sank to my knees in the middle of our front patio, olive seeds digging into my knees, and I wept. Prayer had been a constant as we had weathered every imaginable complication and delay
in our adoption process, and a whole lot of delays you never would have dreamed of. I was begging God to rescue us, to rescue Ethan from this threat. Biology aside, some stranger decided he wanted to take Ethan from our home and his power to do so was real, and the state of California was not on our side.

"He's our son," I prayed. "God, you gave him to us. You gave us his name." You see, Ethan's name had been a promise - it meant "Permanent." And that was all I had to stand on some days. With only the sound of the leaves rustling in the night, God's still small voice spoke to my heart. "It's the Lord's to give, and the Lord's to take away." That truth was like a punch in my gut - one of those truths you hope as a Christian you never have to be faced with. "But you gave him to us," I whispered back in the darkness. It was so quiet.

I don't know how long I knelt out there in my yard beneath the olive tree before I heard God speak again. This time He posed a simple question, "Do you trust Me?"

Did I?

Would I?

What if we lost Ethan? What if after being his family for two and a half years and completely falling in love with him, after he completely became an intricate part of what "family" meant to us- what if God took him away? Would we still believe? Would we still trust? Would we still worship? I pondered those questions.

Then suddenly I pushed myself up to my feet and hurried quietly into the house. Searching I found what I was looking for - a pen, a piece of paper and a match.

I scribbled his name across the paper: "Ethan Mitchell DePriest."

I walked quietly back out the house, down the driveway and to the curb at the street. I folded the paper in my hand.

"I will still believe. I will still trust. I will still worship You..." and wiping the tears from my eyes, I promised, "I will still love You Lord."

And there at the "altar" I lit the match and burned the paper in my hand. I dropped it into the gutter and watched as the tiny flame consumed it and then slowly burned out.

God had given us Ethan, and on that night, alone in the dark, I gave Ethan back, in faith and in trust. He wasn't really mine anyways.

I'm happy to say that the end of that story is a happy one, and here ten years later, Ethan is still ours, wholly and completely - but I didn't know that that night. I had no idea what the future might hold, I just let my confidence rest in the One who held the future. It was a profound moment of faith.

I've been thinking a lot about how much I have wavered from that faith lately, holding tightly to things far less critical than my son - things like a job, financial security, where my kids go to school, where we live. I mean, they aren't small things, but in perspective, they shrink in importance.

This past weekend I've been thinking a lot about that night at the "altar," and I feel like God is calling me back to that "place," and even more so to that profound moment of faith. And He is asking me again, "Do you trust Me?"

He's asking me to change my prayers, from things like "Provide," or "Protect the business... our finances... the kids' education." And instead He's asking me to simply pray "I trust You," and "Lead us where You will."

I have NEVER known what the future held - that is my reality (yours too by the way) but I have been foolish to lose focus on the fact that I have ALWAYS known Who holds the future. I am not so foolish to assume that this altar experience will necessarily resolve itself so miraculously as the last, but I do know that if God's hand is in it (and it is), then I am good.

It's not to say things won't be challenging or that hard times won't hurt, but it is to say that come what may - I will trust Him.

I will believe...

I will worship...

And I commit again, I will love Him still.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

I'm at the altar again... and there's no better place to be.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A short story

I remember when my mother's prayers changed.  We had been praying for a long time about the things that lurked outside our  doors.  Children or not, my mother never hid from us the realities that loomed. Business was bad, everything seemed to be in jeopardy all the time.  It was like at any moment my dad and she might be out of work, we might have to leave our school. There was no sure foundation.  And every day we prayed together as a family, "Please just keep the wolves away."

"Sustain us," she prayed.  She asked for provision, with doubt in her voice she wished aloud to God that prosperity might even return-- but in her voice was more question than confidence that God was even listening.  It was a prayer of fear.

I remember when her prayers shifted from fear to confidence.  What she was praying for was far less clear, but how she was praying was obvious. "God, do what You will," she said.  "Lead us where you would have us go." I wondered what that meant.  I could sense she wondered too, but it was obvious that she was suddenly less concerned with the what, or even the where or how - now all her focus seemed to be on the Who of her prayer.

Everything changed with my mother's prayers.  It was far from easy, but despite some really difficult days, it was better, not because our circumstances got any better, because they really didn't, but it was because suddenly God seemed to be in the midst of those circumstances no matter what they were.

The storms were hard - sometimes it was like standing in the edge of the sea and the waves kept crashing and knocking us down - hard, sometimes painfully so, but every time my mother would rise again.  She turned to us as well and told us "Stand up."  She was tired, we were tired, it hurt, we suffered loss, but it was like my mother would stand beside me with her her hand holding me up under the arm. As I leaned into her she would point out past the waves and say, "He's coming. Hold on - see the Light? God's working."

There were lots of days when I wished God would just have answered my mother's doubt filled prayers for provision and perhaps prosperity, surely it would have been easier. But now looking back all these years later, I know these prayers were better, because they didn't just change how things were, but they changed who we were. It changed Who God was to us, and for that I am forever grateful, because even now in my life when my mother has been gone for a very long time, I look out onto the horizon and tell my own children, and their children to look out past the storm, and with confidence I tell them, "He's coming. Hold on - see the Light? God's working."  And I know it's true, and my children will know it's true, and their children, and all the generations to come have the Hope of knowing it's not the what we place our confidence in in our prayers, but it's the Who.

This story is completely fiction... for now... in Jesus' name. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pudding and puffs

Yesterday we celebrated my wonderful husband's 44th birthday. As a treat for him I decided to make his mom's "famous" cream puffs. It's a favorite "taste memory" for him as a kid and it brings back fond memories for us both of his mom who has been gone too long.

The weekend plans went back and forth, first he and the kids were going to be gone till Sunday and I was going to make him before they got back, then Saturday night they decided to come home early because my middle child didn't want to miss church, so then I ran out of time and wasn't going to make them after all (he didn't know my plan, so no disappointment, right?) Then when the afternoon went awry and he found himself cleaning out the garage while my younger two children found themselves banished to their bedrooms and my oldest awaited his "other plans" for the evening, I decided to run to the store and grab the $21.63 worth of groceries after all.

As I stood in the store Sunday afternoon thinking about the (now) rush to throw them together I contemplated buying a box of instant pudding rather than making the "from scratch" version that made the memory special. I quickly ditched the thought and bought what I needed to stay true to the recipe instead.

Instant pudding is easy, add milk whisk and chill. Making the pudding from scratch is a much more involved process, timing is important, patience too - as I stood there stirring over the hot stove and the heating oven (for the "puff" portion of this little treat) I was very aware of how much easier the little box of Jell-O would have been. I looked back and forth at my recipe, I waited and watched for the liquid to reach the right level of thickness stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan where all the thick seemed to want to remain. On the stove, off the stove, add this, mix that, back on the stove - every step was critical.

I thought about how the Lord must be standing patiently over the "pot" that is my life. The patience he must have with me, adding this, separating that, stirring constantly, creating his masterpiece as well. Even the waiting that is required with the pudding is sometimes required in My Walk of Faith. As I poured my mixture into a bowl and laid the plastic wrap right on top of the warm mixture only to put it in the refrigerator just to sit. It sits and prepares - it seems like nothing id happening, but being in the right "environment" and letting it "chill" makes the pudding the pudding, and not just a lot of sweet and runny slop.

When I made the puffs, they were involved too - and I got impatient. First I couldn't find the right pan, and I used one that was too big. It didn't fit the need. Adding to my impatience the recipe calls for letting the dough to sit for ten minutes - just sit. Then for the next step you have to add four eggs, but you have to add one at a time, mixing each one through one at a time, working out the lumps and making the dough smooth. It wasn't working in the oversize pot. I ended up adding the last two eggs at the same trying to rush the process. I had a mix of runny lumps, and when I tried (in false faith) to scoop them out onto the pan to put in the oven, they just oozed into each other. As I stood there it was obvious I had gotten it wrong. All the ingredients were there, but they weren't put together the right way, I tried to do it my way instead of following the directions.

That too made me think a lot about the Lord and me. And how I make such a huge mistake sometimes to work my way around Him instead of just doing things exactly the way He said, and how I end up with the mess that isn't good for anything at all. I scooped the glob into the sink and ran it down the drain. The second time I I followed the recipe to a tee, and in the end, I got the results that were intended.

The fact of the matter is, in this "kitchen" called life - God is the Master Chef - and His is making a "delicious" creation in our lives - but in order to experience the fullness of that, we have to follow His recipe - and even when that means sitting in the "cooler" or waiting on the stove, or adding "what's next" slowly and methodically - it is for God's good purpose. He knows what He's doing, and nobody wants to have to run the first failure down the drain, but if we have to, I am thankful we can always come back to the recipe if we have to! Because the fact is, when we take a "bite" out of the completed product, it's totally worth it!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jesus got it right.

I have things I like I about my church, and things I don't. Same with pastors, leaders, teachers in my life - things I agree with, and things I don't. Wishing I was a "glass half-full" kind of girl, I'm not, and I am more inclined to note the empty than the full.

It goes for marriage, family- immediate and extended; things I am standing fist held high shouting "YES" to in agreement, and other things where I stare at the ground shake my head and at times even slap myself in the forehead thinking, "Wrong, just wrong."

I have a depth perception problem you see. I can only see as far as I am willing to look (often not past my own opinions); I can only comprehend to the limit of my intellect; I can only discern to the level of my observation. No matter how much I may sit back, take things in and evaluate - I will never have all the facts, I will never completely see the bigger picture, I will never have every piece of evidence to judge the case.

It never stops me from trying, but if I get real - I fall short.

We all do.

Jesus on the other hand will not. He will look at the glass and understand exactly why the line draws where it does - heck, He'll even have a purpose for it.

Jesus will listen to the words of another and hear their heart, not just what they're saying. (Thankfully, and sometimes not so thankfully, that's true when he's listening to me too.)

He understands (and gracefully forgives) impure motives, unconquered weaknesses, overwhelming challenges - and He is frazzled by none of them.

So when I struggle in my sight, looking around thinking things ought to be different - in a church, in a relationship, in a circumstance, I need to remember I can't see what He sees. And maybe instead of looking so hard to see things, I should just look a whole lot harder to see Him.


The One who said to LOVE.

The One who said to FORGIVE.

The One who said to TRUST.

The One who said to PRAY.

The One who said to ABIDE.

I will never find the perfect job, ministry, home, life, family, church, opportunity...

But the perfection I crave to look upon is there, but it's a Person - not a place, circumstance or thing. Jesus is the Perfection in my life. He's the One who's got it right.

So in my imperfection I must simply (and not so simply) seek after Him and trust that He sees and knows and will manage all that I can't. (And newsflash: He does.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Systematically undone

I keep thinking about changing the name of this blog from "My Walk of Faith" to "Systematically Undone," because I feel like that is what is happening to me.

All the years I spent with my building blocks, stacking my faith system, my opinions, my viewpoints, etc., into the existence of who I "am." Three years ago I would have told you I had a pretty good sense of myself, what I believed and how I viewed the world. I was comfortable - everything in black and white, clean lines, orderly.

In these last three years though, God has come along to my little monument and begun to undo what I had done. Like a twisted game of Jenga, He has not chosen to tear things down simply from the top, nor has He chosen to just level things by pulling out the bottom, instead, he has carefully removed my blocks from the most random places - sometimes moving them, sometimes completely tossing them aside. Some blocks being removed have caused a great shift, others have allowed for certain areas to crumble, and because He is clearly the Jenga Master He is able to do so without total destruction.

Where I find myself today in this continued work God is doing is to feel "unknown." People who knew me well three years ago (and hold onto those same perceptions of me today) really know very little about who I am now. There are a few who have been "around" for the process and many would testify that I am, in fact, different than I was before. I've on more than one occasion watched the shock pass through their eyes as they received grace from me rather than judgment, or compassion rather than opinion. I can't take any credit for it, nor do I try to, it's only to say, I'm not so full of myself anymore. These broken down walls no longer hold us the facade of who I used to be. Or rather, who I used to think I was.

Now don't get me wrong - I still believe in right and wrong and absolute Truth, I just no longer find myself in the position to have to be the defender of something that will stand no matter what I do. And instead of feeling the need to correct the world on a doctrine, I find myself longing to be the ambassador of the One who rescued me twice - first from my sin, and then from myself.

Sometimes it is painful. The building blocks guarded me from having to care or feel for those around me. And in all honesty there are levels of callous it created on my heart that are STILL being removed, but I see them for what they are, and I know they ought not be there. Sometimes is the pain of actual compassion for another, and sometimes the pain is wanting to be more compassionate. Either way, sometimes I have to sometimes squint my eyes at the shining truth.

What truth? That I am not God. That although He knows my heart thoroughly, no matter how much I want my heart to be after His, in the end, I'm going to fall short. We're all going to fall short. His ways are not our ways, we look at the logical looking for the supernatural and the two will never walk hand in hand.

It's like trying to take a picture of the wind. You cannot capture with your eyes alone what you must sense and experience on a whole other level to comprehend. "Faith is evidence of things NOT seen...."

We are ALL works in process, but it's as though I feel like this is such a season of profound tearing down and rebuilding that even those who are in my life now cannot know fully who I am or where I'm at because even I am constantly surprised at myself. I hear myself speak a word of grace and I wonder "Was that me?" Shocked only more by the depth that I meant it than that it came from my own voice.

It's funny (not haha, but odd) how although I am still struggling greatly with hurts of my past that I must overcome, that God's great work in my life seems to be having gone back "all the way" to the beginning of when I came to know Him and give my life to Him. Like a scene from Dickens, the God of the past stands with me and we look upon the girl who came to the cross knowing her need for a Savior, the depth of her sin, and drowning in her brokenness. I no longer look at her and think "how far I've come," but now I see I did not "overcome" her, I just buried her behind my building blocks, and began to forget she existed - much to my demise.

What I realize now is the only thing that has really changed is a greater understanding of Who God is, and a loss of understanding of who I am. I am still just as wretched and broken, and just as in need of a Savior today as I was that day almost 22 years ago. In many ways I was healthier then than I have been on any day since because I recognized the Truth... apart from Christ, I am nothing.

God forgive me for being impressed with myself, and any accomplishment in Your name, or any talent or gift you ever bestowed upon me. It was always You, and it will always BE You, because the moment it becomes all me or about me, all value is lost.

Today is a good day - my awareness is strong, not only of my need for God, but of His presence and the work He is doing. I suspect this game of Jenga between He and I will be life long. I am certain in my sin and struggle I will put back up blocks that He will again and again have to remove or reposition, but He is patient and loving, and at the end of the day whatever structure remains, the key is simply this - the foundation is secure, Christ alone, and Him crucified.

Monday, September 30, 2013

On the road of faith...

I am always bouncing back and forth between being on and off track with getting healthy bu being active and watching what I eat, etc., trying to be healthy (which is probably a whole blog post in itself) but one of my favorite things to do when I am trying to live an "active" lifestyle is just walking.

I am not a fan of the hamster wheel treadmill. I go nowhere and I lose interest quickly. I'd rather put my tennis shoes on and get outside and start moving, swiftly. Sometimes I know exactly where I am headed, and other times I just move and make up the rules in my head as I go. I've walked to "where the sidewalk ends" and I have walked a certain number of steps or a certain length of time but whatever way I go what I like best about actually walking is that no matter how far I go, I have to walk back. So wherever my will to go on further ends, my body will benefit from the return trip.

I've logged a lot of miles in the streets of Orange County, must of them swift walking steps, a small portion of them may have even qualified as a run, but from my many observations, I have learned a few lessons along the way that can be nicely expanded to cover the walk of faith as well.

Beware of being like those making right hand turns. It's my opinion that these are possibly one of the most dangerous creatures out on the road. Why?

Because they are rarely looking where they are headed. Their focus is always on what's behind them down the road they're entering on. (That's bad grammar I don't know how to fix.) And if they aren't looking down the wrong direction, their focus is always on the other cars around them, and never on themselves. I'll never walk in front of someone making a right hand turn because I have seen too many times how much they will not actually look to where they are moving - and if you happen to be in that path, you might just get squished.

It's given me a lot of pause to think as I stand waiting to catch the eye of those drivers. I've had my fair share turn to notice me and be irritated because they really need to wait to let me pass. I have the right of way, they do not.

I know I have found myself to be a right hand "turner" too many times on my road of faith. I am distracted completely by what everyone else is doing, all those who seem to be moving in the direction that I want to go. I'm looking back at them, and I am looking at the road from where they've come and try to force myself into the move of traffic only to find when I turn to see where I need to go, that the Holy Spirit is standing in front of me taking His right of way, and I am being told I have to wait.

The right handed turn has to be timed perfectly. The right on red especially must be carefully done. Moving into traffic is tricky, you can easily be taken out, serious damage being done to you. If you don't look where you're headed, you can do as much damage as you suffer.

It's a lot like the Walk o Faith - Yes, there are turns we have to make in where we are headed and what we do. We have to mind the cues given to us by the King of the faith traffic, and if He says, "No right on red," then we have to wait. If someone stands before us, again, wait. But with patience and confidence, not focusing on where anyone else is headed, but rather focusing on where we are going, and waiting for permissions to all align, when the timing is right and the green light is there, that is the time to GO.

God's timing is perfect. We need to trust and wait, and He will get us where He wants us to be.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pharisaical school for girls...

When I came to Christ, I GOT it:

Me = dirty, filthy, guilty, broken, desperately needy SINNER.

Jesus = The Sacrifice, the Holy One, the Cleanser, Redeemer, Healer, Lover of my soul.

You put the two together, and it was radical - LIFE CHANGING!

And Psalm 130 - (go read it) I TOTALLY got it... even though I didn't know much about the Bible, or Psalms or anything specific to those verses - I GOT it.

(just a peek)
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Psalm 130:3-4

I don't know exactly when it started to happen, but it did. Someone probably praised me for something I had done - reading my bible maybe, or memorizing a verse. It was like being given a little ribbon, being told, "Well done." And it felt like I was earning points.

I kept doing, and the ribbons kept coming - I really started working on making sure I was looking good. The list of ways to earn my ribbons got longer and longer - monitoring how I spoke, and what I wore, what I watched and listened to... check, check, check... ribbon, ribbon, ribbon.

Then after a while - I started looking around at other people... and I started judging them for their "ribbon earning power." Oh no, no, I'd think... you shouldn't watch that... drink that... wear that... you won't earn your ribbons. And then I would even look down on them because they weren't working the ribbon system at all.

Somewhere along the line, I lost a lot of my focus of that Jesus who came to set me free, and found myself unknowingly bound by my beautiful ribbons. Truth be told there were times I was pretty darn impressed with myself. I liked my ribbons, and I thought they made me look good. People told me they did. And people were always pressuring me to earn more, but no one pressured me like I pressured myself.

I spent a lot of years in a place where everyone was impressed with one another's ribbons. You had to earn certain ribbons to qualify for certain opportunities, if your ribbons were missing, or even tattered or torn, you were disqualified. You were benched. Overlooked. Disregarded.

I know this, because there were times when I was doing the disqualifying, the benching, the overlooking, even the disregarding - sometimes actively, sometimes just in my own mind.

Once in a while I would get this pang of futility - looking down at all my ribbons, and I would realize they just didn't feel like enough. And too many times my expectations of others to jump on board to the ribbon earning bandwagon pushed people away, or worse, pushed people down.

I had become a full blown Pharisee and hadn't even applied to the school. The scary thing about being a Pharisee is you really don't realize that's where you've come. In your own heart and mind all the ribbon earning is acts of devotion, but the truth is, you tend to forget a lot about the One you are devoted to.

You forget that the One who swooped in to rescue and gave His very all to know you, to be with you, to love you - the One who paid for you with his very own life in a brutal and violent death - He came when you were aware, when you were BOTH aware of your filth and of your need.

You have to go and stand back at the scene of the crime to get some perspective. Not all the little crimes you committed a long the way, the BIG one - the one where YOU hung Christ on a cross, you nailed his hands and feet. The crime where you let an innocent Man pay the penalty for you.

You have to linger there.

You have to look close.

You have to remember...

He did it willingly. Wantingly. Lovingly.

Stand there with all your ribbons and you will without question realize that they are all but filthy rags. You will drop to your knees and shed them as quickly as you can and drop your face to the floor in gratitude.

For me I had to walk away from a LOT to have my eyes opened to see what I had become. I still loved Jesus, but not the way He wanted me to love Him. I was coming to Him on my terms, not His - and worst of all I had completely abandoned one of His most basic commands: I had stopped loving others.

It didn't just manifest itself inside the "club" of others who had accepted the sacrifice. That was a big part of it, it was like a tier system and if you didn't have the right ribbons, or enough of them, well then... It was like Dr. Seuss's Sneetches gone bad. But worse, judgment closed the club. I found myself looking down on the ones who didn't know anything about ribbons at all.

I stopped concerning myself with the dirty, filthy, guilty, broken, desperately needy SINNERS who desperately needed Jesus to swoop in and save them... just like He had me.

I had become a card carrying legalist - gold member.

I think about how grieved that must have made the Lord. The truth was IN me, but I just buried it under all those ribbons...

When I laid down my ribbons, back at the scene of the crime, that's when the real work began. My mind had been changed and it had to be retrained. It's been a process ever since. I call it being "systematically undone."

I refer to myself as a "Recovering Legalist" now. Sometimes my training rises to the surface and I have to make a choice to think or respond a different way. I am a woman of a lot of opinions, so it's not always easy, and sometimes I fail. But I have to go back to the conversation that the Lord and I had when I came back to the foot of the cross to shed all my ribbons there.

"Love and Worship," He said. "These are to be your focus."

He really had to lay it out for me. If I wasn't loving others, then I wasn't loving Him. And the purest form of worship is to love and build up and invest in others - in the club, and out.

He has a commission and a purpose and a plan for me - but it isn't about ME at all. It's about Him, and His kingdom, and doing all I can to help make sure no one is left behind, and those who are following along, don't lose focus like I did. That we are not what or where we once were - but not because of our works, but because of His.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Hurt has a voice

And sometimes it needs to be shushed...

Lately it has been given free reign. And I had to make an apology for that. The apology was clearly and strongly accepted.

But the problem is that all the talking hurt has done was not just to the person who accepted my apology. That's the thing about voices... they carry.

I have said it before, and I say it again: Words are both my greatest asset and my greatest stumbling block.

I am being vague - but those who need to know what I am saying should know I am saying it and know I am speaking to them. Part of the problem is, I cannot be sure specifically where an apology needs to be made. So I am making it here. I apologize. I can only hope it is accepted. Whether you were offended for yourself or on behalf of another, whether you felt hurt, or even felt betrayed, I am sincerely sorry.

I could try to explain myself, but it seems to me that would only undermine the apology, so I will not.

Instead I hope for fresh starts and second chances and forgiveness.

I cannot promise hurt will always be silenced - my transparency is who I am, and honestly, it ministers to some, but perhaps the few (but the few matter).

I will do my best not to project the past on the present, I will not let fear and feelings from "before" superimpose themselves on the things I see and experience now.

I will take things at face value, give the benefit of the doubt. It is NOT my nature to do so, but I will try - actively.

I will do my best when hurt does speak not to allow it to be accusatory or judgmental.

I will do my best to cause hurt to stop, wait and think before it speaks. And to choose where it speaks wisely.

I am thankful for those who choose to be loving enough to confront and address (even tattle.) I hope second chances and restoration will follow right along.

Only time will tell, and I can only do my new part from here. Words (even vague words) cannot be unsaid. I will think on that and remember that before I speak them again in the future... at least I promise to try.

Hurt has a voice, now hope speaks too.

Today is a new day, mercy is new every morning. I choose to believe that's true.

I hope my apology is accepted.

I'm asking for grace undeserved and a fresh start to go with it.

Sincerely, I apologize.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Sometimes that's how I feel - or spiritually bi-polar, perhaps. High highs and low lows and they intertwine and interchange at their own will.

I read an article recently that said "Creative people's openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment." Sounds like a typical Tuesday (or any other day of the week) to me.

Sensitivity might be an understatement. Sometimes I feel like I live my life inside out - emotions and feelings all on the surface, easily bruised and always a certain level of rawness. It doesn't help that I have forever felt under high scrutiny, judgment and rejections.

I have been known to call my self a "strong flavor," and declare that people either love me or hate me, and there are very few in the middle of the road. But the declaration holds no confidence behind it because the sense (or assurance) that there are people out there that really really don't like me just kills me! I have a friend (and a husband, come to think of it) that says, "Why do you care what other people think?" Like that seems the simplest obstacle to overcome ever!

My answer, "I don't know why I care, but I do! Desperately!" It matters to me what other people think of me. Reality may be that it matters to me THAT people think of me. Lord have mercy, I am so stinking self-focused sometimes! Maybe if i could come to terms with the fact that when I am convinced of dislike, judgment and rejection, the reality may be, people just aren't thinking of me at all! Maybe there would be a great measure of freedom in that. I guess I hope someday I'll know!

I'm reading a book called The Search for Significance. It theorizes that these sorts of human struggles I am sharing are rooted in a misunderstanding of my value to God. I wish that were true. What? Why? Yes, I wish that were true because then I would know the antidote. Time in God's Word and His presence would be convincing. But here's the thing, I am already convinced of God's love.

I came to Christ a filthy sinner with the blood of my murdered unborn child on my hands. I came to Him, broken, desperate, empty. Kind women I did not know came alongside me and POURED His love into me and upon me, and they saturated me and my life with His Word. I drank it in, every gulp, sip and swallow, and I am CONVINCED both of God's love for me, and that He thinks I am wonderful. Me and God - we are GOOD.

But I cannot for the life of me reconcile myself to why that just doesn't seem like enough. I feel badly that I don't believe other people see what God sees in me. I feel badly that people don't buy into how fabulous God thinks I am (tongue firmly in cheek). And this girl who has spent her life striving to prove herself for the approval of others and has hit stone wall after stone wall after stone wall now runs ahead with the expectation she's going to get knocked down, beat up and disappointed again.

And those dark thoughts creep up whenever they want to. Looking through social media and stopping on a picture of friends (even acquaintances) being together, enjoying one another and their friendship - I suddenly feel lonely and sad. Why can't I be happy for them instead of making it all about me? Therein lies the struggle. Does it have anything to do with being creative? I don't know - but just as low as I can go from seeing something like that, the simplest offer a friendship, an email or a tap on the shoulder at church with a smile, all of those things can rise the low to a high that can last for days. The power of feeling like somebody cares or accepts you is powerful.

I am still in a season of loneliness when it comes to friendships. I have good, loving, kind women in my life who I've known for a long time that I now only see occasionally. I have some newer women I see regularly but who really don't know anything about me or about what's going on in my life. And then I compare those relationships to ones that have been lost in my life and it's lonely. And then I can be sitting in that loneliness and suddenly be completely fulfilled in a room with my husband and our kids around us, and the pendulum swings, low to high - one personality to another, and I feel completely schizophrenic or bipolar again.

I am certain God has a purpose for this season. But I also know what it is is not something I can see while I am walking through it. I have to declare it in faith that I know He is with me (first of all) and for me (always) and that on the other side of this season, I will hopefully be a little more like him, a little more usable to Him, and a little more relational with Him.

At times I am convinced that that is the core of this season, that I will know HIM as Friend more than ever before. And there have been moments on my knees where he has felt very present, but it's never all the time - and though He is never more than a prayer away, it's not the same as a friendly face across a table, or a listening ear on the other end of the phone. But then perhaps that's exactly the point - my strength needs to be all the greater and the knowledge I have of who I am in Christ and what I mean to God needs to come to the place where it permeates my existence. And I don't have to strive anymore for the acceptance and approval of others. I hope so. But i have to say, the process is long and sometimes it hurts like hell.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Adoption Part 2 - The Incomprehensible

Read the first part of this series here.

Adoption is impossible to describe in many ways. On a thousand different levels it seems illogical. Loving someone who's not "your own" seems like a tall order. I get that. And in my many experiences of counseling women in crisis pregnancy, I understand why it is their fear that giving up a child for adoption seems cruel. How will the child ever feel the love that they should without their "real parents."

It is incomprehensible, until you have the privilege of experiencing it for yourself.

When I took Ethan in my arms that night in the hospital, all the bonding I missed not carrying him myself happened in an instant. Instead of nine months of falling in love like I had with his older brother, and very shortly after would with his little sister, it took about nine seconds.

My theory is that God himself stands above the adoptive child and his new parents and takes his very best supernatural needle and thread and sews hearts together. I know there are lots of stories told about the contrary, attachment disorders and the like, but I firmly believe those are the exception (but people like to tell the tales anyway). Now mind you, God pierces his blessed needle through both the parent heart and the heart of the child (and eventually other family members as well) but picture the thread - for Ethan and I, in an instant I felt my heart completely drawn to his and I am thankful that in my case I had the privilege of being the only mom he ever knew, I know that's not always the case. For older children or parents even who struggle a little, the pulling of the thread may take a little longer until the hearts are intertwined, but the connection is there regardless. It's a "God thing." One of those things that is hard to put into words.

Despite the fact that I felt like I got a glimpse into God's heart for us - broken, with little or nothing to offer Him, He loves us anyway. For me I felt no benevolence in my love for my little boy - only gratitude. Grateful to be his mama, grateful for the deeper understanding of what it is to choose to love, but also overwhelmed how quickly the choice becomes an impulse that I could not overcome.

My biological daughter came very quickly after we brought Ethan into our home. There are less than ten months between their births. Because Ethan's adoption was so extremely complicated and full of struggle, I didn't tell his birth mother about my pregnancy until I no longer had a choice. At that point Ethan's placement wasn't even official (seriously, the details of our story... would send people RUNNING from the prospect of adoption) and when I finally had no choice but to tell her about another baby coming, she could have easily removed Ethan from our home. Losing Ethan was a realistic fear we lived with for almost three years, and it was more than three before he was legally a DePriest.

So the night that it was clear by my bulging belly that I had to tell her I was pregnant was a difficult conversation I did not want to have. When I told her it got very tense, and she got very quiet on the other end of the phone.

"What's wrong?" I asked her.

"I'm afraid you won't love him as much as you do your own kids," she said.

My own kids. She still had no clue.

Ethan was mine. Ethan is mine. As incomprehensible as it is, biology had nothing to do with that.

"I'm worried I won't love my next baby as much as I do Ethan," I told her. And I was.

Thankfully love and hearts are things God enlarges. We don't have limited amounts that we have to dole out, we just get more. It is an unlimited resource and biology has nothing to do with that either.

Sometimes I will stop and catch myself and it will suddenly occur to me that Ethan is adopted. Most days though I completely forget. The truth is, I have the knowledge in my mind - and I am proud of the incredible testimony that is the story of HOW Ethan came to us, and HOW we fought to keep him, but it's only there in that tiny little box. It exists in no other part of who I am. Not in my heart, not in my soul, not in my love, like or care.

Adoption is a miraculous thing, one I wish the whole world could experience. There are simply no words that do it anywhere near the justice that it deserves. And that's why I tell you...

The beauty of adoption - incomprehensible.

The heart of adoption - incomprehensible.

The experience of adoption - incomprehensible.

It's like a secret club, no matter how much you may support, approve or like the idea, without the experience, the fullness of it, is just simply, incomprehensible.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The anatomy of a hug...

I am a reader. Beyond books, magazines and the back of cereal boxes, I find myself trying to read everything - tones, eyes, expressions, inflections. For me very few thinks are completely revelatory at the surface. But the problem with being a reader of things beyond words is there is a LOT of room for misconception. (And for the record words can get pretty confusing too in places like emails, social media and even lovely little blogs like this one.)

But yesterday I found myself finding a hug quite the easy thing to read. Or so I think.

Can you relate? Have you had that awkward forced hug? You've felt the insincerity of it, right? I remember a lot of those in high school. You know the hug I mean, the one where the hugger is pushing back from you before they even pull all the way in. It read with insincerity and obligation. Sometimes they speak separation or dissension.

Not all awkward hugs are that way though. My husband is a hugger, and I watch him reach around in some weird directions to hug a friend. But I know whoever is on the receiving end of my husband's hug finds true kindness, true concern. He's a good hugger.
When I hug Neal it's usually different for me. Though he's no repel-er with even a friend or one of my kids friends, when I stop to hug my hubby, I really sink into it. I lay my head on his chest and I rest there. I am not a hugger, so when I hug my husband, I do it with purpose. He lets me melt into him when I hug him. My hug says need, and his appropriately replies provision. It's probably my favorite kind of hug.

Although I am not a touchy-feely person, I like hugging my kiddos too. My daughter hugs me like I hug her dad. She settles in and rests her head on my chest (though she is so tall now it's really more on my shoulder. My younger son is an awkward goofy hugger. It's that middle school age for him - and when he hugs me there is often a little repelling if I am the pursuer, but if he's made a mistake or done something wrong, he comes looking for a hug. His hug speaks repentance, mine speaks forgiveness. My oldest is a man (gulp) and his hugs are big - he is his father's son. And when he hugs me it speaks of the transition he has made from boy to man, but there still remains some of the little boy lingering inside him, and his hugs speak love (and sometimes self-preservation since I like to pinch his nipples.)

Sometimes a hug speaks friendship, it says "I miss you" or "I want to know you more." Yesterday I got a hug that said, "I see you are hurting. And I care." Not a word was spoken, but that's what the unexpected hug spoke to me. I could tear up now even thinking about it.

Hugs are important. There is a woman I used to know who probably could have built an entire ministry out of hugs. Her hugs were awkward always because she wouldn't let go for a good long time. She held on till you relaxed and settled into the hug. Even when she was finished, you still felt hugged, and you knew someone cared. That's a little how my hug was yesterday, though more awkward and brief - that's what it spoke to me.

I miss the hugs in my life that I once had, which is probably why I have settled into a lot more of my hubby's hugs in recent days, and why I am more willing to hold on to my kids when I can. Hugs are important, and they can speak so much more than a thousand words.

I wish we could feel the hug of our heavenly Father every day. I once had a supernatural experience that was that real, but those are few and far between. So I think it's important that we do His hugging on His behalf. People need to know we care, and they need to feel loved and important. That's what a hug is all about.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Painting - A story

Once upon a time there was a Master Painter.  His artwork was beautiful, profound, every word an original, valuable and a masterpiece. His sense of color and detail was perfect, every work of art was special.

One day a family moved into a new home, one where the Master Painter had once lived and created his masterpieces.  Cleaning out the attic, the former art room, the new owner discovered a painting hidden back in a corner underneath a tarp.

The man lifted the painting out of the corner and set it out in the open against a wall.

"What do you have there?" asked his wife.

"It appears to be a painting of some sort," the man answered.

Now the man and his wife did not know that the home had been owned by the Master Painter so they were not aware of the great value that the painting held.  They noted it's beauty, and appreciated the colors and textures, but they just did not understand its value because they simply did not know much about paintings and masterpieces.

Busy in settling about their new home the new owners went back down into the main part of the house and simply forgot about the painting in the attic and just left it there in the attic, uncovered and collecting dust.

Over the next months they did much remodeling of their new home and dust and filth filled the air in their quaint little home. By the time they returned to the attic, the painting was covered in thick grim, the picture now obscured, the colors muted, the lighting had faded, and the masterpiece seemed like nothing special at all.

"What shall we do with this?" the husband asked his wife.

"I can't imagine anyone would want it. If you tried to clean it you would only likely damage it," she answered.  "We should probably just toss it away."

So the next time the trash man was to come the husband carried the masterpiece out to the curb and left it there for pick up.  When the trash man came along he saw it leaning there against the cans and thought he saw something in it that pleased him.  It was not particularly striking, it was covered in grime and filth after all, but he thought it at least deserved better than the dump where all the trash along the street was headed for.  So he picked up the painting and say it back in the back of his cab, and quickly forgot it was there.

It was for many months that the painting sat behind his seat in the cab of his trash truck.  It collected more filth and began to soak the scents of the trash he carried.

One day on his lunch break the trash man stopped by his home to have lunch with his wife and children.  As he was leaving to go back to work his wife and children walked him out to his truck.  His daughter climbed up into the cab to kiss him goodbye and as she grabbed hold of the headrest of his seat her hand brushed across the painting behind his seat.  With her little hands she tried to pull it up, tearing at the corners.

"What's this Daddy?" she asked.

"Oh my," her father laughed. "I completely forgot about that." And he pulled the picture up out from behind the seat.

"It's so dirty, Daddy," she cried. "And it doesn't smell good at all," she told him, wrinkling her little nose.

Her father nodded sadly, the time in the trash truck had done it's damage.  "Do you want it?" he asked.

"No, no," cried his wife from outside the cab. "You take it where it belongs and finally deliver it to that dump!" she told him.

"Don't you see a little beauty in it?" he asked his wife. "Come on, Mama, surely you can fix it up!" he told her handing it down out of his cab.

So Mama took the painting and carried it up into the garage and set it aside to be dealt with later.

Later came quite a long time after that day.  By the time mama had come back to consider the painting there was a little oil spill on it, and some water damage from when the washing machine had overflowed.  She took a damp rag and wiped at it, but it only seemed to make matters worse.

Then mama remembered the charity people were coming that day to pick up donations.  Rather than fuss with the painting Mama took it out by the curb and set it down between the backs of toys and clothes she was giving away. "Let them deal with it," she thought. "Clean it or toss it, someone else can decide."

So the painting sat all day in the hot sun until the man from the charity came with his truck and took it away.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure," was this charity's motto, so nothing was ever thrown away.  Everything went to one of their consignment shops, because even if something only earned a dollar, it could benefit those in need.  So when the painting arrived at the shop one of the workers there did the best he could to make it look better, a little damp cloth and a little dry wiping, he did what he could to make the painting presentable and put a sticker price of $3.00 on it and stuck it on the floor against a wall near the back of the store where it sat for a very long time collecting again more dust and grime.

One day the Master Painter was on holiday in his old hometown. Now the Master Painter's wife had a fondness for treasure hunting.  She too believed that one man's trash was another man's treasure and she liked to frequent little shops that sold secondhand things. And because the Master Painter loved to spend time with his wife doing things that made her happy, he was always willing to follow along on her adventures.

On this particular day Mr. and Mrs. Master Painter came upon the shop where the painting had landed after Mama had decided the work was too hard after her husband the trash man had left the painting in his truck to long after he found the painting outside by the trash cans where the new homeowners had placed it after finding it in the attic that had once been the art room of the Master Painter himself.

Now the wife looked through every little knickknack and thing and every little shelf in the store, so the Master Painter wandered about while he waited for his love. While he walked toward the back his foot caught on the painting and it fell flat on its face before him.  The Master Painter bent low and picked up the painting and lifted it before his own eyes.

He ran his hand down across the face of the painting tenderly. And his heart ached to see what had somehow become of his masterpiece. Despite the dust and grime, and the tattered edges, he immediately recognized it for what it was, his own.  He fingered the $3.00 price tag and just shook his head.  Here he held a treasure, and it had been completely misunderstood.

Suddenly the Master Painter felt a hand upon his shoulder. "It's yours," his wife said from behind him.

"Yes, it is," he told her.  "How did you know?"

She pointed in the corner and said, "I can see your signature there.  What a shame," she told him. "All the hands this must have passed through, and not one of them knew they beheld a treasure."

That day the Master Painter and his wife paid the $3.00 to buy back the painting, and the Master Painter took it back to his art room.  It took time, patience and effort, but the Master Painter slowly and faithfully restored the masterpiece. He cleaned away the grime, wiped away the soot.  He mended the tattered edges. With his turpentine he wiped away what was damaged, and with his paint brush he brought back color and light.  With one last stroke the Master Painter stepped back to admire the work of restoration he had done.

"It's beautiful. Perfect," his wife said, walking up behind him.

"Not yet," said the Master Painter. "One more thing is required." And then he placed his signature on the painting, darker and clearer than before, so that no one would ever again mistake this treasure for trash.

by Diana DePriest
©August 29, 2013

I think this is a perfect parable for what happens to too many today.  Created as masterpieces, people become redefined by the "elements" of life - neglect, filth, insignificance, assault or sorts from the world.  And before we know it, our value is redefined by a "$3.00 price tag" placed on us by someone who just doesn't understand where we came from, for what or by Whom we were created.

And the "damage" of life can only be undone by returning to the One who created us.  He alone can rebuild, re-beautify and restore.  Until we and others see ourselves the way He sees us, our value is missed, mistaken and seemingly lost. But when we sit and allow the Creator to do what He wills to bring redemption and restoration in our lives, His signature on us becomes so much clearer, so much easier to see.

I feel sorry for the Miley Cyrus' of the Lord who are desperately trying to find their value in the "pricing" of those who have no idea what they are truly worth.  We are masterpieces because of Who created us, that alone brings immeasurable value to our lives.