Daddy Love

Lord, show me how you are a Father.

He walks in with her at his side. I see how he delights in his daughter, this small, wide eyed 5 year-old. He hugs her, smiles, and tells her to have a good day at school. She hugs him again and then runs off, but comes right back. “Hey daddy? Can you wait until I put this in my backpack and then can I hug you again?”  “Oh of course, absolutely!” He looks at me and I see the love in his eyes, “She melts my heart!” he says. They hug again and he holds her as he kneels. He comes to me and tells me that she has been picked on at school; an older student assigned to be her lunch buddy said he didn’t like her. She came home and said “Daddy why don’t the other kids like me? Is something wrong with me?” He was hurt for her, he was sad for her, he wanted more for her.  He asked me if there was anything I could do. Could she change to a different buddy? This boy doesn’t like her and now she has to sit with him…isn’t there a different option?

Oh the love and delight and defense that He has for me. My Father. 

He saw her in the hallway as he came to pick her up. She ran to him and he lifted her up, his blond haired 5th grade daughter. He put her down and came over to me, “Well obviously I’m her dad!” he said grinning as I handed him the sign-out sheet. They waited in the hallway for her sister and she told him an animated story with hand motions and he responded with the same movements. His face showed that he was delighted in sharing this conversation with his daughter. He was enjoying himself, he was listening, he was intrigued with her.

Oh the love and delight and intrigue that He has for me. He claims himself as My Father.

He went out and found her on the playground. She saw him and ran to him and was swept into his strong arms. Her excited, joyful squeal was heard from such a far distance and giggles bubbled out of her smile.

Oh the strength of His arms and the joy that exists in His presence.

He came and his son walked over straight into his arms to be held for a moment. “Hey buddy, I’m glad to see you,” his dad said.

Oh to know His quiet delight as I come to him.

Oh God, you are a good father. And you call me your daughter. Continue to bring this intimacy into a reality where I can see and know and understand. I desire to be Yours. 

Simplicity. I actually want to know.

I desire to be a woman of simplicity…but what does that even mean? Are the things apart from necessary needs of body and mind function and survival…are those sinful and indulgent?  Is it idolatrous for me to enjoy things or desire things? Is it wrong for me to be sad when I am called to give things up? Does that sadness reveal that I really don’t understand Jesus at all? That I’m consumed with things? I find materialistic consumption, dependency on possession, and idolatry absolutely detestable and I don’t want them to have any place in me.  I want to abandon any idols and anything professing to be god and demanding my attention. I don’t want simplicity to become an idol. I want to see blessing in a healthier way. I want to understand Jesus… because He is calling me to surrender everything and follow Him. I want to, but I don’t think I really know what that means. Does this mean that I really don’t understand Jesus at all? Oh Jesus, will you please show me my things? Will you please give me understanding? Will you increase my faith and lead me to obedience? Does obedience have to look joyful? Is sadness okay? Or does that mean that I don’t have any idea what it means to follow You and need to reevaluate everything I’ve ever said or promised or prayed or committed to? What do I hold on to? How do I respond when things are lost or taken from me? They are, after all, just things. I want to be free from the world…but does that mean I have to give up everything and find no pleasure or enjoyment in it anymore?

What does Jesus say? What is the truth? I’m sick of hearing teachers and speakers and motivators and condemners and convincers and inspirerers and charitable persons and evangelizers and givers and takers and criers and shouters and everyone talking about things and what they have to do with the kingdom. “Give it all up!” “It’s all blessing! Enjoy it!” “Get as much as you can and steward it well and give the extra!” “Tithe your money!” “Blessing is a sign of obedience!” There are so many “answers,” but I don’t think enough of us are asking questions…. we just want to know the best way we can live without being wrong.

But I actually want to know. Am I blessed or am I hoarding? Am I truly giving and sacrificing or is this just garbage anyway? How can I worship through giving? Is it really worship if it’s just giving out of plenty, if it doesn’t bring me down or make me humble in some way? Am I living simply or does it just look simple because I’m comparing myself to everyone else? What is simplicity and why do I desire it?

Jesus, what are you calling me to? Please give me wisdom to understand and bold courage to obey. Wisdom without obedience or follow-through is pointless and I’d be better off not even knowing in the first place. Solomon was the wisest man in the world…his wisdom was given by You. But he fell into temptation and lusted and worshiped other gods. He didn’t actually get it. Oh God, I don’t want to be like him. When I pray for wisdom, I’m praying not just so I can know, but so I can act on it. Please give me courage because I know what you’re calling me to isn’t easy. But I want to obey. I want to worship. I want YOU.

 

Here are some articles that I have read from Word Made Flesh writers. I appreciate the honesty and truth written here: 

http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/the-cry-vol-16-no-1/first-things-first/

“I struggle most with the sin of self-righteousness: the attempt to prove to God, others and myself that I am good enough to merit God’s (and others’) approval. And it is this sin that is at the center of my struggle with simplicity. Rather than freely receiving the riches of God’s grace and seeking to grow in a heart of simplicity, I fall back again and again into worrying about how what I have looks to those around me and grading myself on my own scale of simplicity success.”

 

http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/the-cry-vol-16-no-1/confessions-of-confusion/

“Honestly, these days I don’t really get simplicity. At times, I have lived more simply here, often getting sick. Now my pendulum has swung the other way, living with better “self-care” and “sustainability,” some would say. Are these just the latest buzz phrases to justify my selfish, hedonistic tendencies?

Why doesn’t this ever-always guilt go away? I am tired of being idealistic. I don’t know how to be simple. Can I just go Home? Maybe I don’t have enough faith.

Hmm. Maybe that’s it. Faith. Simplicity springs out of faith. If we honestly believe in a loving, just God, we can be free to be simple. We can only be as simple as our trust in the goodness of God.”

 

http://www.wordmadeflesh.org/the-cry/beyond-simplicity/

 “A lifestyle of simplicity is a place to which God is calling us all, but there are some dangers in walking this narrow path. First, there is the danger of moving from detachment to depreciation. Detachment is completely abandoning ourselves to the Father whose love demands our all. Depreciation is devaluing the things we are attached to so that it is easier to give them up. Detachment is looking to God; depreciation is looking to our “valuables.” Soren Kierkegaard speaks of depreciation in his book Fear and Trembling. Commenting on the call of Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, Kierkegaard points to the temptation to depreciate that which one must renounce. If Isaac meant less to Abraham, it would be easier to give him up. But God does not call us to depreciate. Rather, God calls us to resign ourselves wholly, trusting that God will reorder our values.

 lifestyle of simplicity has another danger. It is the danger of seeing simplicity as an end in itself. It is the Pharisaic temptation of dropping our eyes from God to humanity. Simplicity is a relative term. A simple lifestyle in the US looks different than a simple lifestyle in India. If I strive to live more simply than the Jones’, then I make simplicity its own end and am nothing more than a pious Pharisee who wants to be admired for his religious acts. Jesus says that he has no reward with the Father who is in heaven for he has received his reward in full. Pharisaic simplicity is thanking God that we are not like ‘other people.’ “

And So I’ll Inquire

“And David inquired of the Lord…” over and over and over.

And he heard and discerned and obeyed and it pleased You.

He heard Your voice, he learned Your voice, he knew Your voice, he inquired of You so he could listen and obey.

Oh Lord, I want to listen and obey.

Teach me to inquire. Teach me to listen for your response. Oh God, please be faithful to respond.

Speak in whispers and in shouts, in words and in feelings, in actions and visions and scriptures and gentle moving rhythms in my heart.

I want to learn Your voice.

I want to be so aware of your Spirit’s musings.

I want to learn to seek, to listen, to wait, to discern.

I want to be a woman of inquiry.

Who inquires of the Lord. Who waits for the Lord. Who listens to the Lord. Who obeys the Lord.  

Inquiry to patience to listening to obedience.  And you are worthy of nothing less than absolute obedience.

I want the inquiring tongue and the listening ears and the faithful hands and the guarding heart and the obedient feet of a faithful steward of Your words.

Lord, give grace to this steward. Raise me up. Speak to me. I want to hear. I want to listen. I want to respond in obedience to the words I have heard…Your words.

 “Now what more can David say to You? For You, Lord God, know Your servant. For Your word’s sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all these great things, to make Your servant know them. Therefore You are great, O Lord God. For there is none like You, nor is there any God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.1

Jesus, I desire to hear, to move, to obey out of love and honor of who You are.

For there is none like You.

 

Taken from 2 Samuel 7

Rocks Fall Away

I feel it. I feel the distance. I feel the unrest. I feel the absence of peace. I feel how tense my spirit is. Lord, what is wrong? Reveal the reality of my heart right now. I want the ugliness to be ripped from me. I want to be close to you, but something is keeping me from you. Jesus, I want to be brought close.

I see my heart. Short and stout, closed around with dark stones. Stones of jealousy and vanity and pride…an object of narcissism. There is a proud gold crown placed on the top. Oh it is so ugly. What has happened here? What makes me think I am worthy to wear a crown? Is this really me?

Jesus, break this.

Lexie, do you know what happens when it breaks and those rocks fall away? You can no longer seek or expect love. You become vulnerable to only receive without expectation. Because you aren’t deserving. You can no longer seek for ways that you are worthy, but recognize your nakedness and the fact that you are not deserving at all. Then you will begin to receive love…unwarranted. You will stand in awe, you will fall on your knees…you will be overwhelmed because you never deserved it, but it will be showered unto you.

Let the rocks fall away. Abandon the crown. Step out from the safety and protection it all. Stand back and stop waiting expectantly. You cannot keep waiting and expecting love. Stand and just be. Let me tend to your soul. I will clothe you. You will receive, even though you don’t deserve it.

Now I see a small blush colored ball, just lightly textured. It’s moved out away from the fallen rocks, crown abandoned, moved out alone into an opening with tall green trees standing back. The sky is open above, the sun comes in splashes, and the air is thick with forest. I feel a sense of waiting…but God I do not want to wait. I don’t deserve to wait. Take me and do with me as you desire. I. Am. Yours.

I watch as the ball cracks open and the pieces flatten out against the ground. A small red seed comes and rises from the center, dancing upward, bringing behind it a red trail like a vine. It twists and moves and grows upward…spreading and branching out and creating other branches with leaves turning green. It is becoming fuller as it grows. A light twinkling sound like soft bells begins to play. Here is my heart…rising to you. I choose to abandon the comfort and safety and all that guards me. Lord, accept this worship. You are worthy to be praised. 

The Ponderer’s Heart

“She took these things and pondered them in her heart.”

She held them.

She kept them.

She pondered them in her heart, she felt in her heart, she thought in her heart.

Beautiful depth created by emotions and experiences and thoughts and… ponderings.

Not felt and released

Not analyzed and forgotten

Not explained and shared and grabbed and dropped and tattered and used and left discarded

But held, in the deepest intimate place

Pondered in the very core of who she is. Her heart not far from her…she takes and keeps things there…in the bowl of her being.

 

Oh to have a pondering heart.

Soft edges, gently held together

Not free for all to enter and leave as they wish, for there are guards of this sacred place. Oh Lord, be the guard of this sacred place.

Not a high, dark stone castle, with crevices and rooms and compartments and separation and doors and corners to go around…

This ponderer’s heart is light and airy with gentle breath moving throughout, a soft rhythm.

It’s not a globe, mixed as one and turned over and around…there is more order here, for this is a sacred keeping safe.

This is the ponderer’s heart.

With the soft light of a pearl feather and with intimate depth taking the very breath away

The very breath of this sacred place stands in awe of all it holds.

 

Oh Jesus, to have a ponderer’s heart.

To hold the things you give me and not throw them into careless hands who do not know the value of these precious things.

To be free from the pulling chain closing around my ankles to bring me to share these words into ears that don’t hear, to hearts that don’t hold.

Lord, I want to take and hold and hear and taste and see and feel and ponder.

I want freedom in the sacred place.

I do not need to be known by them, for I am already known.

I AM already knows.

I want to let these things transform me.

To let the beauty capture me again and fill me and spin me and dance with me and cover me as I fall on my knees in my tears because of the reality of all you have given me to keep.

I want to be enraptured

in awe

in the space of the sacred place.

Transform these darkened walls with carved out doors, whose halls run with chains, desperate to catch and pull me out, away from myself

Lord, I receive your freedom.

Create in me a sacred place to ponder.

 

Far be it from me

Lord, forgive my Gideon heart. 

Your words are true and you ARE faithful. But yet I doubt your love for me, your words toward me, I doubt your faithfulness over me. It seems too intimate, too close. Who am I to receive it. “Far be it from us to worship other gods” the Israelites said, and I laugh because I know they will turn away again and again and again. But behind my laughter at their words, my heart says “Far be it from me to trust your words and your promises toward me. For who am I to receive them?” Far be it from them to turn from you, far be it from me to turn to you. 

But Lord, you ARE good. You ARE faithful. You desire to help me. Jesus promised His Spirit, and called Him Helper. He is my Helper. 

Lord, forgive my Gideon heart. You spoke to him and he doubted. You spoke and he tested you. You responded and he tested you. He tested you. But you loved him and were faithful to respond. Faithful in his shallow character. You used him for great things, despite his insecurity in your words. 

Lord, what you have said to me I want to believe. But my heart screams “test Him first.” I hate that. I want to believe what you’ve said and receive what you have. Your promises for me are for me. 

You are good. You are patient. You are gentle. You are forgiving. You are faithful. You are true. 

You are the Lord. Worthy to be worshiped. Worthy of my heart’s release. 

Far be it from me to hold my heart in this moment. Lord, it is yours. 

We were a family

I prayed for a family.

Lord, I’m on the other side of the world, please give me a family.

And He did.

We were an odd sort of family, the kind that only comes around once in a while.

Like the one priceless item finally discovered after hours and hours of Antiques Roadshow footage.

Underappreciated and not really understood by anyone looking from the outside.

But possessing so much value, so much story, so much depth.

I’m convinced that this kind of family was purposefully intended by God, to teach and to challenge, to love and to bless.

I’m convinced that though our genetics are far from matching, that we were a family.

We were a family that laughed, a family that cried. A family that called each other out and challenged our ways of thinking.

We were a family that prayed together before bed, when we’d only known each other for a day.

We were a family whose skin didn’t match, whose hair was different colors, whose eyes were not the same… and we didn’t pretend they were. We realized our differences and celebrated it.

We were a family blessed and sent out to the city….the city to which God brought us individually and together, as a family.

We were a family that may have thought we could save the day, but quickly realized that it was our time to be transformed and broken and rocked of every comfort or belief we had.

We were a family that cluelessly embraced the newness and the chaos. That walked around with no idea where we were going or where we were. That got ran over by herds of goats and chased down other foreigners to find out their name. That got kicked out of bookstores for sitting and talking in the quiet area. That drank chai for the first time and smashed the cups as hard as we could, drawing even more attention to ourselves, this strange American family.

We were a family that held the hands of orphans. That walked by people dying on the sidewalk and felt our hearts break.

We were a family that gave food to the beggars, and ate lunch with the people on the street.

We were a family that got lost. That often had no idea what was going on, but embraced it with laughter…we always had good stories.

We were a family that was overwhelmed by the noise…but eventually found comfort in the constant city lullaby.

We were a family that did what we thought was right and appropriate, and laughed when we were wrong. We were quick to give ourselves grace because this place we now lived resembled home about zero percent.

We were a family obsessed with biscuits. That would sometimes announce going out and took orders for everyone’s cookie preference. That would sometimes go out in secret to avoid the list of orders.

We were a family that shared the coveted face wipes and Tums and Gatorade powder.

We were a family that saved our fingernail clippings in a Ziploc bag. That hung our underwear in the window frames. That soaked up leaking bathrooms with pillows and mats. That sometimes forgot to mop the shower water out the wall. That never changed the purple hand towel tied to the rack, despite the fact that most of the time it was dripping. That washed our clothes by hand in the same few buckets on the roof. That tied our clothes to a rope to dry.

We were a family who got excited about fabric scraps. That taught each other how to braid them together to make head bands and bracelets and necklaces and anything else we could possibly make from the scraggly material.

We were a family that spent hours making dinner. That got excited about new “recipes” and always complimented the cooks, even though the mush basically always tasted the same.

We were a family that ate with our hands. Whose hands crusted over with food because our conversations lasted longer than our dinner and we didn’t want to leave to wash them.

We were a family that prayed over sickness. That celebrated healing. That had compassion for the physical reality of each other. That spent hours massaging constipated stomachs with soothing oil. That showered quickly so those who needed the bathroom could get in faster. We were a family that stood outside the bathroom laughing and listening to the laxative take action. “Can you hear that?! I’m not even trying!” We were a family that asked about how big and how much and how often we pooped. That celebrated properly functioning bowels. That laughed about silver rocket suppositories and spared no detail on how it all was going. That offered to play the flute while another guarded the door of the toilet on the roof so that the one squatting could sit and relax and hope the bowels would finally have movement.

We were a family that chose to sit feet apart from each other when every room was open. That discovered the joy in community and the loneliness apart from it.

We were a family that took afternoon naps. That lay on the floor, despite the hair and crumbs and ants and dirt and city that it wore.

We were a family that found joy in the little things…like Masala Munch and Limca and chocolate and new jam and exotic fruit and fans and new laundry soap and the magical women’s train.

We were a family that celebrated birthdays with chocolate cake and mango juice shots and midnight surprises and always a soggy paper card with birthday wishes scrawled out in ink.

We were a family that played Hot Seat at dinner. That never failed to ask “So what do you actually wear in real life?”

We were a family that sat around to listen as one person read cheesy Christian mystery novels. We found so much humor in little things. We were a family that shared laughter.

We were a family that played Bananagrams. That used up all the tiles into one large crossword puzzle with an outer space theme. We were a family of simple creativity and entertainment.

We were a family that sat around sharing “How I Started Dating ______” stories, like it was some kind of reality dating show.

We were a family that went shopping together and helped pick out each other’s outfits. That got excited for new tailoring. That knew everyone’s entire wardrobe and always knew when there was something added or different. We were a family that complimented each other’s appearance, even when it never seemed to change. That got excited for new haircuts and shaves and trimming of pitiful mustaches.

We were a family that sang with no instruments. That made up new verses. That sang the same songs because they meant so much. We worshipped with our hearts. We sang out on the roof over the city, praying and prophesying the return of Jesus.

We were a family that wept over brokenness. That felt anger. That sought righteousness. That prayed for joy and wisdom. That sought justice.

We were a family that was often dry and numb and unfeeling. That encouraged each other even though it felt so hopeless. That gave grace for words said out of frustration.

We were a family that danced in “Deega” and ate egg toast in air conditioned rooms. That hung our clothes on bushes. That stood in pitch dark streets when the power turned off, laughing and never really phased. This was India after all.

We were a family attacked by fire ants. That woke up and counted the red bites and never ceased complaining. That burned coils as we slept to keep off the mosquitoes. We were a family that hated bugs.

We were a family that warned each other before we ate. “There are ants in the bread but when you toast it they burn in the coils. … There’s mold on the bread, it’s blue. If you see it just pick it off.” We were a family that put jackfruit on our heads like caps. That saved the leftover rice even though we knew we’d never eat it…but faithfully kept it in the freezer or in bags on the floor.

We were a family with a broken blue refrigerator. That kept our money in the freezer in a grimy plastic bag. We kept the fridge as our pantry and the freezer as our cooler…it was too warm to freeze but too cold to refrigerate.

We were a family that slept on the floor. That layed on thin chunky mats and flat pillows covered with oddly patterned sheets. That stepped on each other when we woke up in the night. We slept so close that we followed each other’s breathing and opened our eyes to their face.

We were a family that ate small bananas and overripe mangoes, toast with jam or butter, rice and dahl. That enjoyed a chicken burger every now and then. That looked forward to Friday nights when we didn’t have to cook and were blessed with food made for us.

We were a family that was never really clean. That never stopped sweating. That after awhile, didn’t really care.

We were a family of miniskirt loongies and giant nighties.

We were a family of adventure. That hopped onto moving trains. That threw each other into the train car to make sure we all made it. That followed random people who we hoped really were leading us where we needed to go.

We were a family that kept stacks of chai cups on the window sill, beneath the underwear, in hopes they’d survive the flight back home.

We were a family of drastic haircuts.

We were a family where the boys held hands with boys and the girls held hands with girls.

We were a family that played soccer in the slum…in the mud and poop and filth.

We were a family of the Aladdin pants.

We were a family that saw each other in our entirety. That saw the weaknesses and fears and sinfulness. That saw each other with the mask removed.

We were a family that grew together without really even trying. That experienced what real community feels like…the blessing and the challenge of it.

August 1, 2012.

Last day of debrief in Bangkok, Thailand.

Michael’s ankle is infected and he is in the hospital. It’s our last night and we all wanted to be together, so we went to visit him. Twenty four people walked into this beautiful hospital, so clean and fresh…in a hospital sort of way. We waltzed up to the 16th floor and into his room. We made ourselves at home…lounging on the couch, cuddled up in blankets, googling over the food menu, sitting on his bed, admiring the infected ankle exhibit, reading the newspaper, raiding the cupboard for tea, coffee, and Ovaltine, watching women’s shooting and men’s gymnastics on the Olympics, enjoying the excitement of email/Facebook/cell phone repossession, music playing, salted peanuts, Thai croissant buns with weird green filling. Caleb walks in and yells and holds his prize high: “Meaties!! I brought the meat skewers!” There are banana peels falling and splatting on the ground. We gave Deanna the fingernail and hair collection! Then the little Thai nurse comes in, clearly weirded out and finding humor in the array of people and activity. It’s funny that this is how we spend out last night together…hospital, Olympics, and meat sticks. It’s like watching a movie. We would be the most obnoxious reality show.

I prayed for a family, and looking back, that is what the Lord created in us. I didn’t fully see it then, but it is so obvious now. Even if the only thing that came out of that trip was the reality of family and the understanding of joy and pain in community, I would be so thankful.

We really were a family.

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