Aly and the Half-Truth

Aly stood there, entrenched in her story. I looked at her, feeling the cool strength of my resolve engage her. “This is not the whole truth,” I said.  And then, honestly, I sent her upstairs for a shower because I needed a hot minute to think.

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When Nick and I first became parents, we were given a piece of sound advice: There are two pillars in parenting: first-time obedience, and honesty. Start early and allow no grey areas: your children are to respond to your first instruction, and they are to tell you the truth. 

And it didn’t take long for us to realize how high a standard that wise soul had offered us.  We were stunned how quickly we had to engage little people–toddlers!–to contend against cute ignorance.

Over time, we identified a few other issues that we treat with the same sobriety….  But obedience and honesty are two of the strings we seem to have to play with frustrating consistency. Just when we think we’ve laid that foundation firmly, a crack appears and we feel like we begin all over.

Like all people, all three of our children express themselves differently, value different things, and struggle with different challenges.

Aly struggles to tell the whole truth. Over time, I realized she just really wanted me to be happy with her, and so withheld details she felt might trigger hard conversations. I experimented with softer approaches (wondering if I had been too hard on her at some point) but still, the problem was ongoing— Aly was telling half-truths, or omitting telling me anything she felt I might not want to hear (which, for our family, is a lie in a different color).

When I watched the same thing happen at a school event with one of her friends, I realized it wasn’t about me. Aly preferred to write her version of events–omitting any personal failure or embarrassment.

Our number one goal with Aly–really, with all our kids–is relationship. It is key to everything. Her ability to communicate the unfiltered details of her heart will safeguard her and strengthen her against some of the things girls so easily succumb to. It allows her daddy and me to build her well, minister to her intimately, to guide her thoughtfully, and call her up. It makes it possible for us to truly know her. Without training up in her a heart that tells the full truth, a part of her would always be unreachable.

For us, that’s a dealbreaker.

So when Aly told me her third half-truth in as many days, I recognized a troubling trend: Aly was hiding. She was calculating what she said and measuring to me whatever parts of the truth she thought I’d believe or celebrate. These omissions weren’t serious, but it wasn’t the facts I was after–it was her heart, and I saw fear trying to teach her survival skills.

Aly stood there, entrenched in her story. I looked at her, feeling the cool strength of my resolve engage her. “This is not the whole truth,” I said.  And then, honestly, I sent her upstairs for a shower because I needed a hot minute to think.

I spent most of that time cleaning the kitchen and pondering: what does Jesus do when I lie? What happens when I try to sell Him half the truth?  I knew that answer would inform my parenting.

Any time a lie–even a partial one–gets between me and Jesus, I feel Him get very serious, and I sense a righteous grief. He is patient but gets closer–and movement stops, in a full, ominous expression of love that is ready for war. I have been to the edge of his grace, where it turns into full-blown discipline. When a lie gets between me and Jesus, He stands really tall and reminds me Who He is, jaw angled and chest high. He is the Truth. Anything in me that is not in Him is brought into repentance, or into rebellion–into life, or into death.

The way Jesus has responded to lies in me is one of the reasons I know what it is to fear Him. He subdues lies like David subdued enemies. There is no storm like when Jesus overcomes a lie. I knew my response to lies needed to be weighty, because they are so deadly. But also, I still didn’t know what to do or say.

Aly took her time upstairs, and finally came down, quietly murmuring the part she was most interested in: “Mommy, what is my punishment?”

I took a seat on my kitchen stool and she faced me, pulling spaghetti strands off her dinner plate. I took a leap, feeling totally inadequate, really needing Holy Spirit to meet me where my heart intersected with my mouth.

“Aly, I feel like I need to tell you a story.

Aly looked confused, resenting any delay between this moment and clarity on what her consequence would be.

“In the bible, there’s a story about Ananias and Sapphira. They lived after Jesus returned to God. At that time, the Holy Spirit and the unity of the believers was so strong that they were really passionate about taking care of each other. Jesus’ love in them was really strong. They were even selling things and bringing the money to the apostles.

“Ananias and Sapphira had land, and they sold it. I don’t remember how much they got, but let’s say it was $5,000. (Her eyes grew wide.)  They decided to keep some of the money for themselves. So they took $4,000 to the apostles, and kept $1,000 of the money.

“When Ananias took the money to the apostles, they asked him Is this the full price for the land you sold? and he said it was. (Aly immediately disapproved–they were lying!) Peter had the Holy Spirit in his heart and knew Ananias was lying to him.

“He asked him: What has happened in your heart that you would lie to the Holy Spirit?  And Aly, right there, the Holy Spirit struck down Ananias and he died. And they carried him out.”

I continued with the story, scraping it clumsily from memory. I was pretty sure I was missing pieces, but I just trusted the Spirit. I hadn’t planned to tell this story, but it had just come up and out of me. So I kept going…

“Sapphira came in, and did not know Ananias was dead. The apostles asked her the same question: Is this the full price of the land you sold? and she also said it was. But Peter had the Holy Spirit and he knew her lie. He asked her the same question: What has happened in your heart that you would lie to the Holy Spirit?  And the Holy Spirit struck her down too. Men carried her dead body out and buried her.”

Aly drew close and settled at my feet.

“Aly, I have told you from the day you were born that you are very important. I believe your generation and my generation is really important! I believe Jesus is coming back, that we are going to see His face. I know the Holy Spirit is in you. Remember how I am often asking what you see and feel and dream? The songs that come out of you, the pictures you draw, the things you see and feel–Aly–you are really important!  Jesus is coming back–in us!”

Tears sprang to her eyes and I knew the Spirit was laying upon us both. I was suddenly fully examining my own heart, all over again, as I spoke, convicted toward my own holiness as I contended for my precious daughter.

“That’s why our standard is so high. And we aren’t perfect, and we’re learning. Aly you are strong, and smart, and pure, and holy. You are a truth-teller. You are brave. You are kind enough to be honest. The truth is the only way that the Holy Spirit communicates. Jesus IS the truth; we must be people of the truth. We can’t be really close to Jesus, to be intimate with His Spirit, when we have lies in our hearts. Even half-lies. They’ll make us weak and feed the fear we feel. But Jesus makes us wise with the truth.

“You are surrounded by people who probably don’t think much about telling half the truth. At school, I’ll bet you get used to hearing half the truth, or playing games about lies. And I understand. It is hard to tell the whole truth when you’re afraid. You worry how others might respond, or if they’ll be mean or misunderstand you. The world likes half-truths. But Aly, in our home, we are people of the truth. You are a lady of truth.

“Lies in us are death. That isn’t how Jesus wants our hearts to be. He came so we’d have life in us that never ever ends. Lies tie us up inside. The truth makes us free inside.

“Daddy and I love you. Jesus loves you. Feed on that love and let it make you brave enough to tell the truth, even when you’re afraid.”

She began crying softly. It was just so precious as Jesus met us there, mother and daughter, in His sanctuary, in our kitchen, in our hearts, in His Spirit.

I urged her, “Dear, do not cry. This is a talk of love and hope. It’s because you are so important that I cannot allow you to lie. Mommy’s job is to help make sure that everything inside of you is revealed. I will fight for you in this. We will do this together. It’s that important. You are that important. Our family is that important!”

 

She’ll need that lesson again. We both will. In a different form, with varying measures of gentleness and wrath. This one is hard for Aly and I understand, because I’m not much different from her in many ways. But Jesus is returning. THAT IS REAL. Father, help us make every stride we can in ensuring our hearts are strong and mighty thrones for His reality.

And if there are lies alive in us, the Truth Himself can only ever be to us as a dark mirror.  No!  Truth is a person..soon we shall see face-to-face!

Disillusionment

Un-ironically—family is the solution. But you will have to be willing to step out on the water, to allow family to be for you what you have maybe not yet trusted it to be.

This was written with my church family from WHO in mind–but you’re welcome to peak in on my love letters. Whomever reads, I pray healing and courage result. – DRH

Lately I’ve been feeling a conviction that I want to share with you.

For several years at WHO, we’ve been practicing with each other, in every sense of the word, what it means to be God’s family. What it means to be home with the Father in our spirits, as well as home with one another. Figuring out what it means to have open hearts. If you’ve been around a while, you know we have learned a lot, and we get a lot of things right.

And I celebrate every advancement we take in Him in us, because He is so good and so full and rich. He’s the whole point. What He has done with our beginnings is nothing short of miraculous–akin to changing water into wine. We are His glory, in every sense.

But we are literally practicing, and learning….and we’re sort of always in some state of progress…  allowing the Father’s ideas about love and family to override our former, imperfect biases and broken experiences. We’re rough sometimes. We’re not always good at what we say we’re after, and we each have blind spots. We have identities that are being exhumed and insecurities that sometimes take a while to walk away from.

Long story short: sometimes it’s painfully clear we’re practicing—and are not yet in mastery—of what we see He’s after. Our flaws show. And that’s OK. It has to be—His grace is made for these gaps, and frankly, His strength and love shine in these places. Our imperfect is the showcase for His perfect.

But sometimes…  sigh.

Sometimes our shortcomings in being family together are more painful–or less palatable– than we’ve had to endure before, and it hurts more than we ever expected. Love always does. The ideal meets the playing field and scores as many fouls as points.

It can be tough to remember to cover one another in love when we feel victimized by a lack of it. We face disappointment and are brought to pressure points that we usually avoid. Typically, these things include a need for confrontation, a feeling of rejection, or other relational crimes…  things we formerly felt the freedom to subtlely distance ourselves from.

When we encounter these things in other areas of our lives, we complain, and just casually stop engaging.

But in the family culture, engagement is everything. We know we shouldn’t “leave” (meaning, tune out)—and truly, we don’t mean to. However, we also feel clueless on how to bridge the gap we’re facing (and the gap, unaddressed, becomes distance.)

We’re in pain—or we’re confused—or we’re angry—and we stand there, sort of at a loss on what to do next. We don’t know how to “holy it up” to say it right. We don’t want to come off rude. Sometimes a wall goes up, purely by instinct. We judge, we mope, or we click into survival mode in the very place where we are called to thrive. Forward progress stops.

This is where I sense some of us are, and there is where I feel we need to come together in prayer.

I feel the hard work of practicing family has left some of us with unforgiven disappointment that has begun to transition into disillusionment.

This disillusionment—a hopeless, guarded cynicism about something you previously found valuable—is very dangerous to your heart and identity. It will fuel distance, empower victimized thinking, validate gossip and—most tragically—allow you to justify a domino-effect of unjust offenses or poor decisions. It will steal your freedom, and make it very hard to hear the Father accurately. In this place, faith literally starves to death.

This is completely avoidable, and un-ironically—family is the solution. But you will have to be willing to step out on the water, to allow family to be for you what you have maybe not yet trusted it to be.

You need to open up, and say what’s going on inside. When we say open up, we mean it. We know it won’t always sound good, be eloquent or even make sense. Choose your moment, your audience, and your spirit well. But you need to open, without attack, and lay all the poison that’s been swirling around inside to vomit out on the Father’s Table before you—before us. Submitting yourself to us, in Him. Remember, we’re all sitting here in Him together, practicing, learning, bringing each other to perfection. So you need to let it come out,

and trust us to meet you there.

You can’t go to your room in the Father’s metaphorical house, behind a soundly closed door, and argue that you’re in the house, just not at the table. That’s silly. There’s a feast going on here, and you have a seat at the table.

*Straight talk warning* Also, hiding in your room is a form of tantrum–and eventually, mature sons have to grow out of the idea that someone should come and appease them. You have been entrusted with every necessary ingredient of restoration. Be strong, take courage, and use them!)

It is not OK to be silent in this place, at least not long term. It is good, for a time, to wisely weigh the things you’re thinking and feeling and ask the Father to help you… To expand your love, your grace for others, your freedom in forgiveness, as well as unselfishness to see the full picture.

Ask for help to lay aside whatever expectations or fears you might have about how you’re received. We probably won’t validate everything you say or agree with everything you feel. It we did that, we’d be operating outside our identities, bringing temporary comfort but no lasting brotherhood.

Being your family takes as much courage for us as is does for you to trust us to BE your family. (That sentence is a doozy–sorry. Basically, we’re all learning courage in being exactly who we are.)

There might be a small moment or two of angst. There might be a hot word or a spat. Someone might cry, or need a little time to process. But no one is going to run. No one is going to leave, or give up. What’s happening in you has almost definitely happened, on some level, inside of us too.

Our promise to you is—if you want—to help you build the bridge and take the climb to step out of this particular cave on our way up the mountain.

I really feel we need to pray together: pray about disillusionment. Pray for healing from whatever idol we once built about the idea of family that has been torn down as we’ve actually bravely begun to WALK OUT the real heavenly Family of God.

Pray that the Father Himself wins inside each heart, that mercy and humility and unity overcome, and that peace and rest can reign in places that right now are anything but calm.

Our family is strong because it is literally BUILT and SUSTAINED by the person of Jesus, revealed in our practice and ever-deepening maturity. Let’s give each other room, let’s commit to communicate, and let’s each hold our own part of things.

I believe in what He’s doing. I always will.

Like Vampires in the Sun

Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who isn’t in the room?

Like, you’re engaging them in your head,
sparing and defending
projecting their responses
through your own judgments and grudges,
entertaining the fantasy that they are entirely wrong
and you are entirely right.

I do that a lot.
Not on purpose.
It just happens when I let my mind drift.

I can always tell what’s really going on inside of me
if I’m arguing with someone in my head.

I hear their imagined words in my head
arguments spawned out of my heartache
and I answer them audibly
over my steering wheel
over my dishes.

Often my kids say,
“Mama, who are you talking to?”
And I say, “myself.”

I lie, and I tell the truth.

In that moment,
I am always full of confusion and heartache.

Paul calls these moments logismos:
vain imaginations
speculations
They are the bitter bricks that strongholds and fortresses are made of.

Speculations are castles of strongholds we build when we mate with a lie.

I have built entire cities in my heart before I even realized I had picked up the first stone.

Without mincing words,
meek Paul is unflinchingly strong
that vain imaginations must be destroyed.

They are contrary to the Spirit,
stealing and wielding and dividing
Piling layers of fat and sluggishness
on my precious and perfect spirit.

I knew all my vain imaginations merely reflected
where I did not yet know His realness,
did not yet trust others,
or did not trust myself.

Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.

So I have been brokenly tearing these things down
diligently
over and over and over
opening my naked heart, quivering and shaky and standing and learning and failing and sometimes winning.

I’m making it sound like work I’ve been doing, but truly,
Jesus has been doing it.
My entire effort has been stay-open-and-do-not-run.

When I catch myself arguing
with the imagined and invisible,
I repent immediately,
turn myself to Jesus and say,
“Ok. This is You and me.

“Let’s tear this stronghold down.
Remind me about this precious person
and expand Your love in me for them.
Source me in this.
Show me where You are in this.
Discipline me; search me.
Help me test my emotions and affix to You as truth.
I hide nothing. I am afraid of no one.
I am beautiful and loved and highly valued.
This is You and me. Let’s talk.”

And in some places
I’ve been experiencing extraordinary freedom,
a clear, strong gentleness.

I can not overstate the deep, abiding steadiness and fearlessness.

and yet, some parts of me…
they simply will not submit.

I have been laying them open to the light,
waiting for them to burn to ash like vampires in the sun.
Waiting to be loved, reproved, and rebuilt.
Waiting to be told where I was wrong, where I had faltered, what needed fixing

so that I could heal. (read: so I could stop hurting)

I think I thought that if I could just get them to Jesus,
if I could just get these things to Him,
they’d come into context and lose their bite.

But instead of burning dry and floating away,
I instead seemed to be like a miner
slicing through black ore
and hitting solid rock.

The hammer clanged and recoiled.

And I could not figure out why these things
these firm unyielding darknesses
these things embedded in me
would not yield to Jesus.

If anything, they became unspeakably more pronounced,
seemingly immune to death.

I’ll be honest.
I begged for their destruction.
I rejected them.

But they refused to die.
They stand here even now in me,
constructed of something that absolutely will not consent
to dismissal.

And it dawned in me, What if

what if those things aren’t meant to go?

After years of unreserved drilling,
had I finally begun to hit the core?

What if these things will not die
because they are made of life?

Had I discovered the fortresses of Jesus in me?
Had I finally set my eyes on the foundational aspects of my life?

Had I discovered something I could keep?

I was covered in black mud.
I leaned back and brushed my brow,
breathing hard
leaving streaks across my face.

I peered down, testing and mistrusting
any idea that I would deliberately fail to
tear down my enemy.

But there it was,
peeking through the sediment.
A solid footer of solid gold,
Smeared and grimed but gleaming.

I sat down,
sat back,
and wept.

Prairie Fire

During a series of months of difficulty several years ago, Jesus brought me to this place in my imagination. Very very real to me.

I knew it as a wide sky of eternal twilight,
just after the sun evaporated behind the mountains,
a purple sky freckled with stars.

I could come here anytime.

There was calm sea of waving grass,
low rolling hills by a private sea
where I would go and meet with Him.

In my heart, this was a place of faithfulness,
a place where I could lean my spirit into His.

He was always here, sitting on the dock with His toes dangling,
ready to talk with me. Ready to listen and be my friend.
Ready to open for me His innermost.

Today I didn’t mean to go to that place,
but I closed my eyes and there it was.
Me and Dad’s oasis.

But it almost unrecognizable.

I looked down where grass should have cushioned my feet
and it was black.
No grass, no growth of any kind, not even ash.
Cracked and barren, with hot redness in the gashes.

This place of my deepest intimacy had been slain to wasteland.

He had burned it.

He had taken what was beautiful and precious to me
and set fire.

Except that He was still here,
(I could sense Him),
there was no comfort, no beauty left.
Only a earth so torched that it still glowed beneath.

I wept for a moment.
I looked around and mourned to see this precious place so utterly destroyed.
Such violence could not be love.
Was nothing sacred?

I looked for Him and found Him easily,
sensing His quietness over my left shoulder.
My Rock, my Friend, the Fire-Kindler.

I didn’t ask any questions. I didn’t need to.
I knew what this was.
The heaviness of mourning lay in my chest,
the necessary medallion of suffering
in what Love must do when it’s time to burn the prairie.

He took my hand and we stood there,
silent and together
and entirely at peace.

Wisdom had lit the match.

The fire would redeem a great many things that my eye had missed.
How good He is!
There were parasites, thorns and weeds sneaking a living,
hiding and skimming and stealing.
Brown grass strands in the green,
signaling the hints of dryness and death.
There were old, expired things
mixed foolishly with new, creative courage,
old cynicism stealing power and vigor from the field.

Be the fire hot enough, decay will surrender.

A wide countryside of fresh, perfect growth was dormant
just beneath,
waiting for fire to pave aside a new spring.

He loves this place as much as me.
He burned it to show me just how much He loves to be with me.

Fire is my friend.
The black earth will absorb tomorrow’s sun
and the seeds will germinate again.

Soon, these rolling Spirit hills will frame His precious face
not with soot, but with green.
She’s a prairie, wild and at rest,
Black today
but only today.

Tomorrow comes the green and the purple.
He burned because He knows how bright her colors will be.

———–

The incredible image on this post is an oil painting by Louis Copt, as part of his Prairie Fire series. To see more of his work, click here: http://www.louiscopt.com/prairie-fire-1/

To Care Well

Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?

For a while now, the Father has laid a series of words in my heart. When I first heard them, I understood them immediately. They carried a scent of freedom in them, like the smell of the sea and of open skies. I knew I was hearing Him, but I immediately felt my stomach cramp.

Here’s what He said: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”

Wait. Give me a minute to translate.

Some of my walk deeper into Jesus included healing out of a really ugly performance mentality. I felt that to be loved, I had to perform. When others left slack, left things undone, left things uncarried and unfinished, I felt the impetus to carry them. When others said no, said later, didn’t say anything at all, I filled the void, determined not to let the thing fall, determined to be faithful so others could be where they needed or wanted to be.

I’ll say it straight: I liked to be the hero, even if I was the only one who knew it.

(And I want to be clear in saying that I still have a strong standpoint in which I feel the Father’s sons carry weight. They commit. They labor and produce. They serve at great personal expense. Jesus really modeled the convergence of selflessness and identity perfectly.)

But over time, I realized my day-to-day life had somehow become comprised of things I didn’t want to carry, things that didn’t feel alive inside, and things that weren’t fun, important or inspired. Most of what I spent my life for seemed invisible, lonely and even wasted. It seemed there was no outlet for the enormity that lives in my depths. I started to cry when I reviewed my week and saw only glimpses of myself in it. All the rest had been spent bravely trying to stay faithful in the fog, happiness be damned.

I looked again, purposefully reminding myself that I’m a mom of young ones and so a certain amount of mundane repetitiveness is non-negotiable. And that helped, when I took away the dishes, diapers and laundry from the equation. No one gets fulfillment out of cleaning toothpaste off the bathroom counter; it’s the price of being Mom. And Paul himself recognized to Timothy that the duties of being mom brings about our sozo salvation.

But from that, I realized that some monotony, some mundane-ness, is important for all of us. The dull, dispassionate moments of plodding faithfulness are incredible times of refinement, discovery and development. Just as boredom is important for children, tedium tends to force our creativity to surface.

So could it be possible that the Father had brought me to this time of yawning doldrums, like a ship without wind, so that something new could be propelled up?

I sat over my kitchen sink, with all of this rustling around inside. I was unsure how to make room, to make space, for fresh new things without somehow becoming unfaithful to the things I had already given my word to. All of my give-a-damn was used up. That’s when He said it: It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”

I want to share this thought, but I know how most people will likely read that statement. But Jesus knows how to talk to me–and I get that this one might need translation for many other people. I knew what He meant, immediately. He wasn’t giving me permission to divest myself from the burdens of giving my heart to humanity. He was liberating me in how I think about it, so that I could do it well. Let me explain.

It was time to, thoughtful bit by gentle bit, and in the right spirit, lay aside actions and expressions that weren’t mine to begin with. They were scripts, shoulds and sacrifices not compelled by the Spirit in the first place. Not that it was wrong on occasion to pick up something just for the heck of making sure it got done. But it was time to lay aside the savior complex, the hero complex, the assistant complex, the hey-can-I-play? complex, and especially the obnoxious hey-do-you-see-me? complex.

Like you, the love of Jesus alive in me cares about everything. Everything. He cares about it because we do. So if someone has a loss, a fear, a concern, a question, a need, or a thought, He cares. I hear His voice and I know how much He deeply cares. And so, many times, I respond in what I should could must do to participate in caring. I also feel their emotions and I empathize with them, so I feel a fleshly urgency to comfort that.

And gosh, I want to be all things for everybody. I want to pray about everything, help with everything, participate with everyone, show up for everything, support everyone… but here’s the thing. Sometimes, honestly, inside: I don’t really care.

That’s not to say I don’t care about the person. OH MY HOW I LOVE PEOPLE. I mean, deeply, people are my wealth. It’s still very important for me to stay. Stay in relationship, stay in participation, stay in faithfulness, stay in love. But the pressure I put on myself to express what is not inside of me drove into a renewed performance act that left no room for really me in Really Him. The pressure just left me at my kitchen sink, crying that I was not enough, that I could not care any more than I already had, tender though I was.

Literally, trying to care about everything was making it impossible to care anymore.

It’s OK to say “I don’t care.”  The spirit of His words to me being: Diane, I trust your heart. I know who you are. I know you’ll engage well with your whole heart at the right time. Care when My Spirit takes you right into My purposes in you for them.

I heard His words to me and they shocked me, even while a deep breath opened up. Was it possible that I could love others without the corresponding, crippling pressure to source their current need?

Immediately I realized what we do: in our haste to prove we care, we leave the Spirit behind and respond in ways that calm the flesh of one another, soothes the need, throws the emotional life raft, carries the obligation—but often at the cost of entirely betraying our identities and our Source.

I wondered how many times our care-feigned response actually worked against the purposes of the Father inside a child that is crying for life in every place but the True Vine? I wonder how many times my response to the pressure to care was in reality theft against the very real, caring love He was endeavoring to reveal–in Spirit and in Truth, by identity and in full power, through living sons and daughters in their right places.

Look, here’s what Papa wasn’t saying: cross your arms and let your heart get cold. Tell them you don’t care. Be harsh and unfeeling. Don’t invest. Move on by like the priest and the Levite, elite and religious and dispassionate. 

No. That’s not it.

Daddy was teaching me that we are all compassionate Samaritans–and each of us must fulfill that in the exact way He made us. If we, bravely and trustingly and faithfully, offer the custom blend of care that is genuine and generous in us, we will find that the full picture and revelation of His reality will be startlingly clear and powerful and glorious. But as it stands now, we keep stepping on each others toes trying to care in the way we feel we should, instead of in the who we are. And we are painfully abusing a vibrant symphony with a single, feebly-strung violin.

Some of us are going to always minister tenderly, with hugs and tears and comfort. It’s who we are. Some of us are going to bandage, heal and offer beds for rest. It’s who we are. Others of us will make sure needs are met. It’s who we are. Some will observe, some will carry, some will anoint. It’s who we are.

Some of us are huggers–it’s who we are. (And I wasn’t–but you are on notice that I have been converted and now need hugs quite regularly.)

And Jesus Himself–His love in us–will always be increasing, growing and becoming more and more fruitful and abundant. That is Who He is in us.

But it’s ok–in fact, I think it’s important, to know when it isn’t our time to care. Meaning, we quiet our flesh and talk to Holy Spirit: is this my window? Are you compelling me to respond, to act, to be, to do? Love, alive in me, be unleashed! What is love here–stillness or motion? Compel me into alignment with the heart of my Father. Pour Your nature and reality through the reality of me in this moment–either by doing something, or by doing nothing at all. I trust You to provide all their needs, to meet their heart, to join us together as one body. I care about them–show me where and when and how to put my care in motion. I lay down “should”…help me to trust my heart.

I think when we are compelled authentically in this way, we will only ever be moving in synchronization with His best ideas–imagine the harmony! We will be in beautiful partnership with His possibilities–for them, and for us, because truly, His grace is fully employed to ensure both of us are empowered to overcome and arise.

This clears the table inside of us, to care well, to give ourselves, to serve, even to participate faithfully in the mundane.  The pressure is off—in fact, can I say, the time is over—for fake caring. For gestures meant to meet demand. For playing the part not alive in our heart. In its place comes a fantastic opportunity to care well, to love in Spirit and in Truth. This is true worship. And in my opinion, that is far, far more valuable.

Hey, Are you Getting This?

I asked Him to fill it. I asked Him to be my source for it. And then I fell asleep.

Last night in bed, I read for a while and then turned out the light. The cool dark settled around me as my heart turned to talk to Dad.

I had been sort of wrestling all day, in a place I didn’t really understand. He already knew, but I’ve learned to trust how He restrains Himself to encounter me, letting me reveal myself. He’s such a gentleman and makes no assumptions about us.

His Presence was renewing and I took delight in His attention. I was honest about my heart and asked for a pretty specific thing–not stuff, but supply for an empty place in my heart.

I asked Him to fill it. I asked Him to be my source for it. And then I fell asleep.

This morning, I honestly didn’t give any thought to the empty thing in me. That’s the thing about giving an empty thing to a Faithful Father: His heart is to fill us. His heart is to perfectly complete us. When we know His nature and goodness, we can pay Him the compliment of drawing upon His goodness–waiting confidently in steady trust. It’s faith of sweet aroma to Him.

what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a bread, will give him a stone?…If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him…  (Matt 7:9-11)

I went about my day in the regular routine. But a moment came mid-morning when I heard Him whisper to me Hey, are you getting this?

And my head sort of popped up–Huh?–not sure what He meant. I was sort of preoccupied in the groove of busy-ness. But immediately to mind came my prayer for supply for that very specific thing. I looked around at the moment I was in, the conversation I was part of, and the people I was sharing it with. And suddenly I understood.

In that moment, He had pieced together an unlikely moment of perfect supply. It was so seamlessly provided that it was almost hidden within what seemed to be an ordinary conversation. I had almost missed it, so neatly packaged. And it wasn’t at all what I had pictured when I prayed. But there it was–rather, there He was, holding out bread for the vacant place I had brought to Him.

I smiled so wide, and I knew He was too. I felt Him take delight in being again discovered as perfectly faithful, in being Himself for me.

Seek Me…You’re gonna find Me.
Ask me…You can’t make Me weary. – (Matt 7, paraphrased by Jess Ray)

Let’s ask Him, brave and honest and open. And then let’s trust Him in the space between the empty and the full. He’s perfectly faithful. He is perfectly good.

Home: The Most Powerful Seat On Earth

God established parenting before sin entered into the world. “Be fruitful…multiply!”

To me, this means our ultimate endeavor in parenting is not to instill a set of mechanisms that manage sin, but training up each child as a unique individual who powerfully understands and wields the unique and finished work of Jesus. 

This triggers a ripple effect: generations of families who are truly free and pure, operating by the law of love, boldly ruling well by the Spirit. 

This makes parenting a passionate, powerful, exhilarating adventure. Any seduction of sin in us or our kids is overcome by the nature of the Father practiced actively and transparently in the family unit. 

We do not fear sin and we do not fall into sin prevention strategies. We watch it lose hold of us as relationship with Jesus takes preeminence. We repent and deal with thoughts and appetites and practices that fall short. Sin holds no power, has no foothold, in our home and shared life. Rather, we find that even sin reminds us that we prefer to live in the freedom we have tasted, rather than chained in suffocating slavery. All roads lead home. 

Parenting establishes the Kingdom of Christ, in purity and practice, at the most powerful seat on earth: AT HOME.

Basically–our best parenting is done when aligned to the genesis heart of our Perfect Father for family. We walk bravely, firmly rooted in the reality that Jesus fully redeemed what Man could never repair, and that our children are made to walk side by side with us in reclaiming the wild land. We trust our kids and empower strong identities and good decisions. We prize love and its ability to put every broken pattern into order. If we fear sin and what the world might expose our children to, we are thinking too small. We fear no evil, for He is with us. The Light in us dissolves all darkness. 

We are the parents of the Kingdom, kings aligned to the King, multiplying, filling the earth, subduing it. We are presiding over homes of reconciliation, righteousness, peace and joy, growing strong and working out the kinks. There ARE kinks, but we are not caught behind them. We do not become tangled in the weeds. 

To parent is mighty work. It is holy work. It’s important we understand the stakes, and the glorious possibilities.