Thoughts from my hospital bed

hospital

Sometimes I grunt at God.

I’m pretty sure He gets my drift. The sheer disgust of my current state. The discouraged exhale of a fed up girl not getting her way. The disgruntled wordless bemoaning. The eye rolls. Yes, those silly little eye rolls emphasizing the depth of my frustrations.

I got a text from a friend day #2 into a 6 day hospital stay. He asked me what God had been speaking to me while I was laid up. OF COURSE, this was the perfect opportunity to hear from God. No distractions. No busy schedule. Just me stuck in my hospital bed with absolutely no energy, no real concrete thoughts or deep theological revelation. I did what any good Christian would do. I lied.

I shared something that God has been speaking to me about, but something that has been simmering for months (you’ll be hearing about this more shortly). I couldn’t bring myself to tell this friend that I felt like God had been silent during this “vacation” of mine. I couldn’t actually tell this friend that my desire was to just get through the pain and get to the other side of this affliction.

My pride is my biggest hurdle to true honesty. If I were actually honest with my friend he might think less of me. Maybe he’d start praying for me convinced I was some kind of “backslider”. I’m being silly, but isn’t that where out mind goes? If I’m honest, maybe people won’t like the real me.

During my hospital stay, I didn’t necessarily hear God say anything, but I can tell you something He showed me. I saw love in the flesh. I saw friends rally around me offering their time to sit with me for hours, sometimes in silence. I saw flowers flooding my bed-side table from friends near and far letting me know they were thinking of me and praying for me. I saw nurses in beautiful kindness bring me comfort in forms of painkiller and jell-o.

Maybe, God didn’t say anything. Or maybe He decided to SHOW me something instead.

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I choose You anyway.

heart

Sitting in church a few weeks ago, I found myself undone in the presence of God.

For weeks, I had found myself struggling. My daily schedule that had been managed down to the minute some days had worn me down. Most mornings began with a grunt and an overpowering urge to hit the snooze just one more time. My days were full of hustle– from work, to ministry, to more work. Nights were sprinkled with friends and my determination to keep up with everyone.

And for awhile as I sat there, I missed it. I recognized it certainly, but felt like everyone else was getting to experience it and not me. Mentally, my reaction was a lot like Clark Griswold’s when he found out his Christmas bonus was a subscription to the Jelly of the Month club instead of the huge check he was expecting.

After my internal outburst and temper tantrum, God dropped this Truth into my lap. I won’t pretend to be some kind of poet. I’m not. This is just the way God spoke to me in that moment. I imagine He was using short sentences so my simple mind could grasp it and repetition so it might actually sink in.

You took the man I love,

I choose You anyway.

My finances are bleak,

I choose You anyway.

My heart is broken and crumpled,

I choose You anyway.

I’ve gotten weary in doing good,

I choose you anyway.

I feel all alone in life,

I choose You anyway.

I’ve desired other things beside you,

I choose You anyway.

My car is a piece of crap,

I choose You anyway.

The unrighteous seem to prosper,

I choose You anyway.

My attitude sucks,

I choose You anyway.

I don’t understand why things happen the way they do. I don’t understand why life feels harder for some than others. Why some people die young. Why those who break hearts get the happily ever after. Why those who want children can’t have them and those who don’t want them can.These situations, feelings, questions may never change.

My checking account may never be nicely padded. I may never have a brand new car. I may never have my crap all together. I may be single the rest of my life. Yet my broken, determined heart remains steadfast on Him. I choose to trust Him, love Him, seek Him.

Shame: God’s Favorite Tool

Oh, it’s not?

Then, why do we keep living (and acting) like it is?

I started attending church as a little golden haired cherubim. My perfect ringlets bouncing with each step into the stone encased architecture. My little hands folded on my lap while I sat on the worn, wooden pew. My eyes clenched shut during each prayer. And I was an angel each year in the Christmas program (even though I always wanted to be Mary).

I participated in sword drills in Sunday School. Sat through every awkward dating/sex talk in youth group. Attended a small, conservative Bible College and then later on a larger, more liberal college where I studied Greek and all things Bible. I feel like I’ve seen a lot. The good and the….not so good.

I’m not here to start finger pointing at my fellow Christian family members because that’s no more Christ-like than the topic I want to discuss. My heart has been softened recently in regards to the Church and I don’t wish to speak ill of it. With all conviction of heart though, I feel like something needs to be said in regards to shame.

Negativity, name calling, shaming (call it what you will) should NEVER be used to spur people on to growth.

I get it, some people are big on “calling out sin”. I call it like I see it. You see the flaw in that kind of thinking is that God speaks things that aren’t as if they were. (Rom. 4:17) You may see a sinner, but He sees a saint. Before you get up in arms, let me reassure you, I am not ok with sin. I just think the finger pointing, “calling out” business is the wrong way to deal with it.

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Let me give you a for instance here to drive the point home on a practical level. It’s real easy to pick on girls who dress “inappropriately”. Sure, no one needs to see cavernous cleavage or butt cheek curvature, but telling those girls they look like whores isn’t going to solve the problem. The more you speak something over a person, the more they are going to act like it, think like it and believe themselves to be it. There’s a deeper issue there than her need to expose her body for attention (or even just her preferred fashion choices). There’s a girl who should be built up and called up higher in love. A girl who should be told she’s treasured and worthy of love. A girl who should be told that she’s loved whether she looks like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman or looks like Laura Ingalls Wilder from Little House on the Prairie. It’s a worth issue. Bottom line, Jesus loves her booty out and all.

It’s not like I haven’t been the biggest culprit when it comes to this, friends. Let me assure you. I’ve done my fair share of shaming. I’d just rather be a woman who calls worth out of a person instead of clothing them with shame. I want to empower the sinner (ugh, even saying that sounds so religious) with words of freedom. I want to bring a refreshing word to a thirsty soul.

Mushrooms, Hulk Hogan & Treasure

A few months ago, my parents went to Colorado for a much needed vacation. Colorado Springs is their annual anniversary trip destination and this time, like all the previous, they set out to fill their longing for mountain air. During one of their hikes,  8-miles from their starting point, my parents met two older ladies along the hiking trail. One lady in her 70’s and the other in her 40’s, both yielding bags hanging from their belts that were almost entirely full of mushrooms.

Mushrooms!

As my mother is known to do, she began asking them questions about these mushrooms. There had to be a reason these ladies would take the time and energy to gather them. The ladies appeared protective of their spoils, and determined to gather every one they could find. Gathering took time though. The mushrooms were of course not along the edges of the trail, but off the beaten path making them not easy to spot.

Turns out those mushrooms are worth $65 a pound. Not too bad for a fungus. This may also be the reason the ladies didn’t offer to share any with my parents.

The entire 8-mile hike up, my parents had never once seen one of those mushrooms. Then again, they weren’t looking for them either. You better believe though, on the way down the mountain both my parents were alert and scanning out past the trails edge to see if they could find some mushrooms the ladies may have overlooked. And they did, but only one.

You see there’s nothing casual about looking for treasure. The very concept evokes thoughts of pursuit and searching. There’s passion and drive and desire. The thing is to one person, a mushroom may be a treasure, but to another it is something to be ignored. I’ve learned the worth of a object is determined by its owner, not by the object. For example, I’m not ashamed to admit it, I own a 1990 Classic WWF Hulk Hogan Trading Card. If you google the worth of the card, you’ll find it won’t be making me a millionaire, but I couldn’t even imagine giving it away. Why? To me, it’s priceless. This silly little card holds memories that no dollar amount could eclipse.

What does an expensive mushroom and a not so expensive trading card have to do with you? Well, they are you. You’re this special, priceless treasure that Someone sought after. He said you had worth, so much in fact, that He’d give up everything He had just to have you as His own. Even if it meant giving His life. So, that’s what He did.

You may feel worthless, but He says you are priceless. You may feel like a nobody, but He says you are royalty. You may be forgotten and overlooked, but He has pursued you with an everlasting love. He didn’t do it begrudgingly, but with GREAT joy.

Today, simply know this:  you are treasured, desired and worthy of love.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44, NKJV)