Yesterday I drove from Austin, TX to Huntsville, AL in the pouring rain with two small children and no DVD player. And it was hard and good and long.
I forgot my auxiliary cord so I spent the day turning the radio dial, celebrating every clear, strong signal—no matter the station. I listened to Stuart Scott”s ESPY speech and an argument about the Seahawks’s chances next year. I listened to a sermon about light and to a guy who said immigrants ruin the economy. I listened to talk about GAZA and the Malaysian plane. Also to disco music and country music and songs about God.
I was listening to a song about God—to God, really—when my daughter London poured her crayons into a cup holder and stirred them wildly with her fingers. Loudly. So loudly. It was one of those chaos sounds that makes your skin crawl.
We’d been in the car for ten hours. We’d be in the car for six more.
And this sound was not stopping.
I was impatient and on edge and ready to pull over and leave the girls in the car and start walking. At the very least I was going to freak out about the crayon sound.
But then these lyrics came over the radio, a guy singing “let them see you in me.”
In the song, the speaker addresses God, asking God to shape him in God’s image. But in that moment, my knuckles white on the steering wheel, London stir crazy in the backseat, it was more like I heard God talking to me. I heard the lyrics inverted: “Let them see Me in you.”
And that was all the realignment I needed. I smiled at London in the rear view mirror. I asked her what she was doing—in my nice, asking-cause-I-actually-want-to-know voice. She said something about coloring. I told her I loved her. She smiled. The sound stopped.
And I drove down the road.
So often I hear God in short phrases like this one, in quick truths that re-frame the way I see in a moment.
When I watch my girls play I’ll occasionally call out to them. I’ll ask, “Are you being kind?” I’ll remind: “Don’t forget to share.” Or, my favorite, “Love your sister!”
I feel like God does the same thing for me, prompting me to make the right choice, reminding me of the life I’m committed to live. It’s like bumpers in bowling, His words keeping me out of the gutters.
I’m thankful for that. :)
Tonight I scrolled through my pictures, looking for some to feature in this weekend’s Field Notes workbook. I looked for pictures telling stories, pictures I took to remember, pictures I took to say thank you.
I found dozens. A hundred. Two. So many beautiful and true.
At this moment I’m sitting in bed writing, the blue computer light washing my little girl’s sleeping face. She tripped in the hall sleepwalking to the bathroom. Now she’s beside me, and she’s beautiful.
And sometimes awkward. And not always obedient. And occasionally a mess.
But so beautiful. Deep down beautiful.
She told God tonight in her prayer that she had a secret to tell Him, a secret about math, and that she’d tell Him later when I wasn’t listening. She called Him her Holy Master. She said, “We’re not like you” five or six times, lifting Him up as wonderfully different.
This is the daughter I’ve been given?
Just a minute ago I sent a message to a friend who’s doing me a gigantic favor. I’m still thinking about her and the favor and all the grace piling up on the doorstep of my life.
I told my mom about the favor. Mom said, “You have a generous friend.” I said, “She wasn’t even the only one who volunteered.” Mom said, “You have generous friends.”
In a few seconds (maybe before I finish this thought) I’ll make coffee. Texas pecan flavored coffee. My favorite. And I’ll write for my workshop on Saturday, a workshop full of women who love God with whole hearts, women alongside whom I’ll spend an entire day learning and growing, sharing and discovering.
I began these thoughts tired and distracted and ill, frustrated at to-do’s I didn’t want to do.
But then the pictures. And my daughter crawling into bed…
As I write, I’m reminded God is here. In the coffee. In my little girl. In my family of friends. In my work. In pixel-painted memories on my hard drive.
Writing has a way of reminding. Not just that. Writing has a way of minding…
This weekend I’ll host Field Notes: A Workshop in Writing to See. I’ll argue for the power of writing to shape a life. I’ll tell you writing opens your eyes to what’s close, forcing you into awareness and focus, enabling gratitude and joy. I’ll tell you writing can lead you closer to God. Or maybe that writing will awaken you to the God who’s close.
We’ll write. We’ll see. It’ll be beautiful.
Won’t you come? :)
It’s exhausting to be on the Internet these days.
Scrolling through my Facebook feed feels like navigating a war zone. With every click I cringe and prepare to pull shrapnel from my not thick skin.
[I know, I know. I should get off. But that’s not so easy for a blogger.]
My problem is less with the world being its inevitable fallen self and more with Christians—good-hearted, well-meaning Christians—who, like an annoying little brother, can’t seem to refrain from saying every thing they think about everything, tossing accusations into crowds like candy from a parade float.
Or like grenades…
I wonder how we found the time and space for so many quarrels that matter so little.
I worry we’ve made all of life into a quarrel, every decision an either/or. We can’t talk about anything important without arguing a side.
We see it in politics, a nation painted in blue and red, hardly even in shades.
We see it in parenting—attachment vs Baby Wise. breast vs bottle, home school vs public.
We see it in churches—Armenian or Calvinist, Amillenialist or Pre-Millenialist, Liberal or Conservative…
As if truth is tidy and always on the far end of a spectrum.
Here’s a simple example:
I read a status recently that said (in effect), “Stop posting so many pictures of your kids on Facebook. That’s inauthentic and self-aggrandizing and you’re missing your life.” I think there’s a grain of truth in that. I think we can photograph our children in an effort to fake happiness.
But it’s not true, not fully. Not when you know people who struggled for years to have children and who’re now giddily photographing every moment of a life they feel beyond blessed to parent. Or when you meet a friend who prays through her kids’ photos daily, photos she takes to remind herself of every God-given blessing, photos she shares out of joy, joy put in her heart by the Holy Spirit.
[I didn’t find a meme for that.]
Things, even simple things, are not always so easy to put in boxes.
Wisdom isn’t found in polarity, in screaming our ideas through a megaphone from one end zone to another. The wise man listens to all the voices, allowing them to commingle and cooperate, sorting them, pulling what’s good, discarding what’s bad.
Wisdom is thoughtful, measured, and often quiet, rarely found in the hyperbolic titles of online articles.
Meaningful discussions of important ideas require context, compassion and relationship. They allow for two things to BOTH be true.
So that homeschooling AND public schooling can both be good for the kingdom of God.
So that investing in small businesses AND investing in welfare can both be ways to love the poor.
So that kids who play games on tablets AND kids who’ve never touched a tablet can both grow into upstanding citizens and terrific human beings.
So that eating raw foods AND eating “regular” food can both be done in ways that honor God with our bodies.
So that people worried about men lusting AND people worried about women feeling shame can both appreciate and endorse healthy modesty.
We realize this when we stop accusing one another and start listening, when we stop injuring one another with our too-sharp words, aiming instead to understand.
My most popular blog posts have been the ones with punchy titles.
And I hate that.
But for a while I decided that’s just what I had to do.
So I accused you of not loving God.
And I tricked you into thinking maybe I didn’t like Sunday morning church.
I used the word “Sexy.”
And I called Peyton Manning a loser. To great effect.
It tires me to think that titles must be aggressive to be effective. But that’s what I’ve seen.
Back when I first started using Facebook, people would “poke” me. I never really knew what that meant. I figured, like Eve poking my shoulder at lunch, they wanted my attention.
But poking is the worst way to get attention. It’s annoying. And it hurts the people we’re trying to reach.
People don’t use the actual poke feature as much anymore. But they definitely still poke.
I’ve been known to poke.
And I’m going to stop.
Because injury incites injury and inhibits communication. Because oversimplification isn’t truth. And because life isn’t about picking sides.
As it is impossible to represent truth fully in any short blog post, here are two things I said that are both true and not true:
"As if truth is tidy"—Sometimes truth is tidy. Often it’s not.
"Because life isn’t about picking sides."—In a way it is. The purpose of life, it could be argued, is to align ourselves with God’s side. Of course, that means choosing good over evil, love over hate, peace over violence. In that way, life is definitely about picking sides.
See? This truth thing is tricky.
Thank you so much! Following Christ is the great honor and mission of my life. I pray that every word I write would glow with (and for) His glory.