“Get a Chesapeake Bay Retriever,” they said. “They don’t shed,” they said. Lies. All lies. In the past year since we adopted our bear-sized Chesapeake, Drake, I am pretty sure I’ve eaten more dog hair than some dogs grow over their lifetime. It feels like there is dog hair in everything, on everything, from the carpet and the furniture, to our clothes and the kids’ toys. Dog hair. It’s inescapable. Why, Lord? Why?
What a mess. You have an opinion on the current NFL protest, and so do I.
But, this isn’t another blog post to tell you why you’re right or wrong about the flag, whatever your position might be. It isn’t another blog post defending one side and criminalizing the other.
I am just not going to debate this with you.
It’s been two years, Beloved. Two years since the Lord brought us together. Did you remember? I did. I remember how uncertain I felt, how tentative. I remember because I was so fearful, so hesitant. I remember because I did not know if my heart would love you, could love you. And it wasn’t you. It was me, me with my wounds and hurts, my aches and sadness. I came to you, wondering if I had a single thing to give you, if I had even a solitary word to offer up.
Lately, I’ve been wishing for a magic wand. Nothing fancy or obnoxious, just a simple little wand that I could wave and voila! All better! I’d start with my toddler’s bruised-beyond-recognition shins, and then move on to my 4-year-olds giant knee scab she keeps reopening.
But then I’d move on to the big stuff. Like those few marriages in my church that seems to be withering on the vine. Then I’d wave it over the homes of the family that lost their son in his prime. Next, the young retiree who got that terminal diagnosis and the family who lost yet another baby to miscarriage.
To the Mama-Student
To the one packing her kids’ lunch boxes while skimming her own class schedule
To the one snapping and posting the first day of school pics, as she sits in her car waiting for her own first day of classes to begin
To the one who went back, when the kids were grown and gone, to pursue her own hibernating dream
A couple years ago, some friends asked us to join them at a Dinner Theater in KC. The show was going to be the musical “Joseph and the Technicolor Coat.” I had never seen it but I had heard rave reviews and was eager to see if for myself. My husband, Tommy, came along for the buffet.
The show lived up to the hype. In the opening scene, the costumes were vibrant, the music captivating, the orchestra full of energy. But as the first song came to an end, Tommy leans over and with dismay in his voice says, “Is this a musical?!?” It would be a long 2.5 hours for him.
I was listening to the news on the radio the other day when one of those stories came on. You know the kind, the kind where someone does something utterly heinous to a child and leaves you shaking your head in horror. Some days, I can hear those stories, grieve the sadness, and then go about my day. But other times, the heaviness of the brokenness in Creation crushes me, leaving me gasping for breath, wondering when the Kingdom will come in its fullness.
Too often our preaching neglects this ugly underbelly of existence, particularly the hurts that are almost too painful to speak aloud: abuse, rape, neglect. When us preachers fail to give voice to those deep, ugly sins and hurts, I fear we leave our people and their aches unaddressed, wondering if there truly is a Word from the Lord.
I am a pastor in Idaho, a land labeled with a rather lame stereotype. Because when you think Idaho, what do you think? Yep. Potatoes. I too was once like you, thinking Idaho was nothing but the land of tater tots and fries, but I was oh so wrong. Idaho is the US’s best kept secret with crazy unexpected beauty. Mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, bears, elk, fish. Shhh! We want to keep out the crowds.
Now I am not an outdoorsman…our outdoorswoman as the case may be. But my husband Tommy, he’s like in outdoorsy heaven, particularly in the fish department. Tommy has these fancy polarized glasses that he uses when he fishes. Awhile back, we were at this lake and he kept pointing out all these fish that he could see, and me in my cheap but oh-so-trendy dollar tree glasses could see a whole lot of nothing but shiny water. So we traded and oh my word! My eyes were opened! Fish everywhere. It was magical. Apparently, the lens you’re looking through makes all the difference. They can utterly change our perspective.