I Think We Met in Prison

Leave Hope

I thought I’d be nervous.

I thought the bars and the razor wire and the concentrated mass of humanity would make my insides shake, and I thought my hands would show it and my voice would betray me.

But they didn’t, and I wasn’t.

I saw your little sisters there, all innocent and smooth-skinned with ponytails swinging and doe-eyes smiling. I saw them shocked when we cheered and greeted them with high-fives and hand shakes.

I saw them cry because they were the center of our attention.

I was shocked, too. And surprised when I saw your grandmas there in wheelchairs, or trudging slowly with toothless grin, gray hair all astray. With cloudy eyes squinting to see a familiar face or a fresh hope, they came last in line and headed for the bits of shade.

I may have cried.

Your moms were there, and your daughters and granddaughters. Your neighbors. I don’t know what age I expected them all to be, but it was the sheer range of years that affected me first.

Then I thought for a split second that there were men there, but there were not. Women with stolen identities and shaved heads, women with huge biceps and angry eyes, women trading beauty for power were there, everywhere, but I expected that.

We gathered in the yard (and I may never say go play in the yard again) and there was division, and light battled darkness because some ladies wanted to sit and listen, to follow the rules and be respectful regardless of their tattoos and girlfriends and stereotypes, and some stood out on the fringe and ignored the program. They ignored the requests from the front to please sit down, please enjoy the speakers and the music, and please listen because God has a message for you.

We wore purple as if we were royalty and they wore prison-blue, a blanket of bruised humanity all spread around in the bleaching sun.

By the end of our time there was nothing shocking anymore. A docile lady in her 60′s, with white hair and purple shirt, was surrounded by 5 or 6 girls with tattoos and shaved heads, and the smiles and conversation were as though they had just shared milk and cookies together.

Some sat in groups of 10 or 12, some were one-on-one, and God met every personality and every phobia. People with similar life experiences, similar interests, similar languages, all had a place to minister regardless of the color of their skin or hair or shirt.

Women in blue brought chairs to the tired and scorched visitors. They were concerned with our water and with the bugs in the grass and with our long trip home. They were thankful for listening ears and bolstered by messages of Hope, but this was real life to them.

“You’ll be gone tomorrow, Tresta, and I’ll still be here.”

I want to leave Hope in the places I can’t stay.

Of course the enemy was there. 

There were those who refused to listen , who crossed their arms and averted their eyes. There were those whose only purpose was to intimidate or separate or discourage, and they will always be there trying to mingle among the Hope-ful.

I saw you and I there, too. Because bars are real and man-made and all of us have chosen to be in or out of them, at one time or another.

And maybe still. Good girls and boys, all of us on the outside imprisoned by the bad girls and boys on the inside.

They live for justice or mercy or re-trial or letters to the governor or pardons or next week’s program or maybe a visitor.

Some live in truth and are free, walking the hardest walk.

Some live in denial and won’t cross the Nile where Egypt is purged, won’t face the Promised Land because they know about the 40 years of wandering, and their eternity started already and it ain’t pretty.

But you and I are there, believe me.

We want justice but need mercy and forget that He said there’d be trials and maybe someone will write the Govern-er for us, and we work for a pardon so we get ready for next week’s program and then we’ll visit an orphan or widow. Or prisoner.

And a run-on sentence followed by a fragment is such irony here. 

A death sentence made you free and it lasts forever. Let’s not live a fragmented life or even a fragment of death.

 

 

Linking up with Grace Laced Mondays, The Mom Initiative, Soli Deo Gloria,Titus 2sdays,MercyInkThe Wellspring, Imperfect Prose and #TellHisStory

 

Where All the Broken People Get Fixed

old broken things

It’s been on the counter in my laundry room for months because there’s no glue and no way to reattach the broken pieces.

It made it all the way from Kenya and it’s too precious to throw away, so we keep that broken lion figurine in hopes of someday remembering to pick up some super glue.

It wouldn’t be that hard to fix.

And people need brokenness to be fixed.

Everyday of this week leading up to Good Friday there’s been a breaking. It’s been Matthew 18 and Galatians 6 all week and these people, all of us, we’re too precious not to be broken. Too valuable.

Sometimes we’re held together too tightly though and it takes Mighty Blows to break us, but then. Then we have communion.

Community.

A week full of brokenness leads the weak to repentance and the beauty of wholeness, holiness.

I am terribly unjust and incredibly indignant at injustice, all at the same-conflicted-time.

But the Man on the cross was broken for unjust-me, and the veil was torn and now we all see his face, seek His face, and a broken people can be made whole that way.

First the breaking. Then the wholeness.

And I never thought so many good things could come from broken people but wow. Remember Sunday?

 

and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” – {1Cr 11:24 NKJV}

 

{Sharing this jumbled mix of words with the wonderful community at Lisa Jo’s, where we take five minutes to write whatever comes from the weekly prompt. Today, we write about BROKEN. Click here to read what other’s have to say or to link up your own five minutes.}

Five Minute Friday: Cherished

Cherish

 

For all the struggles and squabbles, there is a grace to keep going.

The moments when you play legos though you’re “too old” for that. The two, three, four of you down on the carpet, building your colony and being good neighbors.

The spontaneous moments a mom could never plan, when a tug on your sleeve from little brother or sister brings a softening and relenting, when you give in to the playing and the time is quality. Pure quality.

There is grace to keep on when I catch you snuggling during the movie, or when I peek in the door Saturday morning to see you all piled up and listening to Odyssey.

When you read that story together, when you share that memory, laugh at that joke, and even when you join sides in coercive plots against me.

Trust me, I see. Because I’m looking for it, looking and hoping and filling the ears of God with requests for this: that my children would be friends.

And you are.

Friends who live and work and play together almost 24/7 and yes, friends who rub on each other and annoy the heck out of one another sometimes. But friends, nevertheless.

I wonder, and I’m pretty sure, that God cherishes when His kids are friends, too. A mother’s heart comes from the Father.

For every disagreement and stomp of the foot, for every selfishness and self-will and Precious Self, there’s something in the memory to pull out and cherish. I forget a lot of things, but I remember the things I cherish.

And we’re all growing up together, making moments to forget and ones to remember. Here’s to remembering more.

 

Linking up with Lisa Jo and the Five Minute Friday community. Follow the link and write with us for five off-the-top-of-your-head minutes!

Five Minute Friday: Stay

It’s not that he really wanted to go, as in a fleshly, I-need-a-vacation, this-should-be-fun sorta way.

He knew it would be hard.  But good.

And while I didn’t really want him to go I knew I couldn’t ask him to stay.

But he told me once that I had the power to make him stay. The wife-power, a dangerous thing. He said that if I was totally opposed to him going overseas, you know – to preach the gospel, equip the saints, encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters – that if I protested and didn’t support him, he would choose to stay and love me.

A wife can wield too much influence and emotions can dominate over compassion.

I “let” him go and love me, love them, love Jesus most of all.

Making pancakes in India

Making pancakes in India

And the time came for me to go, too.  But together, with him and with my firstborn. And I had compassion on the ones who stayed behind.

Sometimes you don’t want to go but you can’t stay.  Then you get there and you want to go but you also don’t want to leave. And He is with us in the staying and the going.

{Five Minute Friday on the prompt: STAY. Join us? Just click here and read what other’s have to say on STAY, or jump in all fearless and write your own.}

When Boys Become Men {Happy Thirteenth, Jacob}

The sky hangs blue in your eyes all year round, both windows framed with blond lashes and sparkling with melt-me diamonds. You use that against me sometimes.

You could ask me for anything, son.

Happy Thirteenth Birthday

I remember your birth because of the pain and the breaking, but I also remember my dad, your grandpa, bringing me flowers and telling me he’d never been more proud of me. Those words are huge from a man like him and you inherited some of that, some of the quiet strength and the ability to drop phrases like bombs.

siblings, hugs

grrrr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ve always been stuck with the label – the Quiet One. It’s perfect that you came between two sisters because you bring balance and stability, with just the right dose of silliness. And when you speak we never quite know – will it be silly or profound or pig Latin or just blain packwords?

You were probably just 6 years old when we met the “Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites”…and the Pull-Up-Yer-Tights. It was a pitch black morning, the four of you barely awake and huddled around for Bible.  And you pull that one out of thin air, all of us laughing and never forgetting. You really know how to liven up Exodus at 6 a.m.

I had so many emotions as I looked back through your pictures, but time and again you had me laughing!

goof ball

There are layers of you that come out, deeper and deeper, and I love it.  I love the silly, but I love your insight, too.

You want justice, and you want people to be treated fairly. I see you, upset when others are upset and anxious to protect the underdog. I know you’re just as ornery as the next kid but you have a big heart.

And you have buttons that get pushed.

I remember when you were a toddler and Shelby was a baby, how she grabbed your toy and your first instinct was to retrieve, but you pulled back. You looked at me and then at her and you let her have it (the toy, that is).  You weighed it all out and put yourself last.

We have to always keep putting ourselves there, Jacob.  It’s really the way of things in this Upside Down Kingdom, it’s how the last become first-in-line at His feet. And there’s never a need to worry about yourself, because He’s got your back.

brothers playing together

You want to enjoy all that life has to offer but I pray you enjoy God most of all. Play with Legos, ride your bike, log with the neighbors and Just Dance.  But most of all, above every other good and perfect gift He gives, enjoy Him. Know that He loves you and is pleased with you and has more for you than you have ever imagined.

You are thirteen today.  That blows me away and scares me and blesses me all at once.

I’m blown away that thirteen years can go by so fast and all I see are these snapshots of you and your siblings on the carpet, surrounded by toys and sippy cups and cheerios. I see a cart full of kids at Walmart and one mischievous toddler tipping the whole thing over. I see birthday parties and tea parties and bald-faced hornets and long car trips.

And now, all of a sudden, you have biceps and can whoop me at arm wrestling.

I’m a little mama-scared because thirteen is only five away from “adulthood” and will you be ready, will I be ready?  You said something funny about a Bar Mitzvah and manhood yesterday, and I can laugh because it doesn’t seem real, but it is, nonetheless. Time will march on and you will be leading someday.

I’m blessed more than anything, though, because of the young man you are. I am confident that, though we have made our share of parenting mistakes and will make more, God has begun a work in you and He is faithful and consistent.

I’m blessed to see you with your siblings and to see you giving them your time.  I don’t think you really know yet just how valuable that is, and how they love to be with you. You are a big brother to them all, even your older sister. No pressure…but you play a HUGE role in their lives. You need them and they need you.  I pray you cherish the moments together.

Siblings

Jacob Daniel. May you lead in your generation, stand for truth and justice, and use your gifts for His glory.

Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,

Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,

That brings forth its fruit in its season,

Whose leaf also shall not wither;

And whatever he does shall prosper. – {Psa 1:1-3 NKJV}

{And just for you, because it’s your birthday and all that, how about some Toby Mac at breakfast time? We love you, Jakey.}

 

Linking up with Emily at Imperfect Prose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Reads for the Fall

I’m ordering a couple of books today – real books with paper edges to dog-ear and wonderful quotes to underline.  I appreciate my Kindle, but fall just seems like time for a candle, a latte, and a friend-in-the-pages kind of book.

This book, Graceful (For Young Women): Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life, because I try hard and I know young women who do, too.  And trying hard sometimes gets us to a place of frustration.

And this book by another Emily, Chasing Silhouettes: How to help a loved one battling an eating disorder, because she writes raw and honest and has great perspective, which is one of my favorite things.

One of the most redeeming things about Christ’s love is that He takes what was shame to us, our fall from grace and our fallen nature, and uses them for His glory.  God alone redeems our messes, and sharing our story is praising His goodness.  These brave authors make way for praise.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! – {Psa 105:1 NKJV}

 

What are you reading this fall?  

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