On Running and Death.

A post has been ruminating in my brain for a while now. Not entirely sure what stops me from penning on a daily basis; my brain is so full I feel like one of those weird athletes at the hot dog eating contests….nauseated, and yet…And yet, there seems to be boundless room in their tummies for bread and hog pieces. Yep, that’s what my brain feels like.

I’ve been off my Zoloft for several weeks now. Really, I’ve been off of it for a few months, but every so often I get a headache of dynamic proportions and deduce it’s something seretonin related so I slip a teency sliver of Zoloft down the hatch, and that usually takes care of my ache.

Anyway, I’ve been off of it for a while now, and my therapist’s main concern was not depression, but anxiety. I didn’t really listen to her because I’m so excited that I might actually survive being without it, that I won’t be hitched to a pill for the rest of my life. But anxiety has run my life for the last month, too.

I started a running program through the YMCA. It’s a group running class that I paid to join. The idea is that they give you a group environment, education on stretching, injury prevention, healthy snacks, and at the end you run a 5K, about three miles.I found solace in two girls who seemed like they’d enjoy being silly with me. The first two weeks of class I felt I’d been transported back to High School P.E. class and there are only a few “real” athletes…The rest of us joke around and try to make the best of it without using a competitive bone in our body. Those first two weeks weren’t exceptionally rough from an endurance standpoint, but I never had any intention of being “that” runner who laps everyone. And don’t worry, this isn’t a story about how I became that runner. Ha.

Running is hard, you know it? In fact, exercise freaking sucks. I’m convinced anything that increases your cardiac output over an extended period is 85% mental. I started the class because I wanted to learn how to run again. As a (slightly crappy) sprinter in High School, I never learned the physical or mental discipline of running long distances. All the long distance runners in High School were tall and skinny and ate bagels from the inside out. Okay, not all of them. But some of them were really very strange with that bagel eating thing….Where they’d devour the meat inside and then maybe eat the outer skin?

Anybody?

Maybe a Wisconsin thing?

I swam today because my shins have been hurting. I’m going to the chiropractor tomorrow because my left foot has been going numb for several weeks now. I feel old and broken and I’m only twenty seven. Ha. Even swimming, a sport I’ve been doing since I was five, was tough today. I kept having to tell myself, “keep going, don’t stop, do a flip turn on the wall, don’t be lazy and do a two hand touch just to get another four breaths in…” My set I gave myself was 1900 yards, but I think I only did 1700. Sometimes I think I make goals that are too lofty for me on purpose because I have a real problem giving myself grace. I was somewhat upset with my crappy performance, but I thought, “some movement is better than none at all,” and got dressed to go stretch upstairs.

When you walk upstairs at the Y, there is a long wall of gargantuan televisions that are designed to distract you from the gnawing inside you that wants to give up. As I walked upstairs the row of TV’s all said the same thing:

BREAKING NEWS: BOMBING AT THE BOSTON MARATHON….. 2 CONFIRMED DEAD, 117 INJURED….

Scrolling at the bottom were stats about how many people had run in the iconic race, how many spectators were there. A video kept playing over and over of the exact moment one of the bombs went off. A runner in a red shirt collapsed onto the ground from the propulsion of the bomb some idiot put in a garbage can. His knee gave out. I hope he’s OK.

I wanted to crumple and cry in the middle of the workout floor. I wanted to cry because as people were having the best freaking day of their freaking life, someone decided to ruin everyone’s day. Folks train for this marathon for years. I’ve heard it’s not exactly for the faint of heart. All the mental fortitude it takes to accomplish a marathon is something I can’t say I resonate with, but runners are tough–they’re an intrepid bunch. We’re an intrepid bunch.

That finish line represents a place of such growth, of suffering, of sacrifice, of defeat, of disappointment, a lot of sweat, screaming and crying. And now death? Friends…. here I am, crying, noting that this should not be so. Such a dichotomy pains my ticker.

Tonight I met my brother David for dinner in some place in Oklahoma because he’s here for work. All the way there I listened to the AM station for updated news information. FM radio stations kept playing Ke$ha. This woman called in who had run 52 marathons in her life, including the Boston Marathon, and kept saying she was devastated, absolutely devastated. A man called in suggesting this was all just a distraction, and it was a conspiracy by the US to, and something about stocks. He was cut off and another caller was allowed to speak. The guy on the radio repeated this phrase several times: yes, there may be evil in the world, but there are more of us that are good, and good will always win. Always.

That may be true, but my heart still hurts.

-Becca

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Let It All Out.

I’m embarking on a journey of soul surgery. This, my friends, will not be fun. But is it needed? More than I’ll ever know. this song has been resonating with me all day. I know what I am about to do will force me to reconcile with emotions I’ve hidden deep within. To face and to feel are two things I have made my lifes work to avoid.

I am so thankful that I am where I am, though. God has me here right now, and it is exactly where I am supposed to be, sifting through papers I’ve never looked at or forgot existed. And I will sit in my proverbial attic, legs crossed, and FEEL for the first time, the weight of this paper trail. And there will be piles I take out to the back to add as tinder to my bonfire. Others I’ll need a while to really look at. 

 

Let it all out (get it all out),

Rip it out,

remove it.

Don’t be alarmed when the wound begins to bleed.

‘Cus we’re so scared to find out what this lifes all about,

so scared we’re gonna lose it,

not knowing all along that’s exactly what we need.

 

And today I will trust You with the confidence of a man who’s never known defeat,

but tomorrow upon hearing what I did, I will stare at You in disbelief.

Oh inconsinstent me…Crying out for consistency.

 

And You say, “I know that this will hurt…But if I don’t break your heart, then things will just get worse.”

If the burden seems too much to bear,

remember: The end will justify the pain it took to get us there.

 

And You promise me in time I will defeat this,

‘cus somewhere in me there is strength.

And today I will trust You with the confidence of a man who’s never known defeat,

and I’ll try my best to just forget that that man isn’t me.

you said, “I know that this will hurt. But if I don’t break your heart, then things will just get worse.”

When the burden seems too much to bear,

remember…

the end will justify the pain it took to get us there.

 

Reach out to me, make my heart brand new…every beat will be for You.

And You know, You know you touched my heart when You touched my heavy heart… and made it light.

-Relient K

 

 

 

 

Hear ye, hear ye!

 

When I was a freshmen in college I heard a sermon that I’ve never forgotten. I still think it’s one of the most brilliantly written sermons.

There are some dang good nuggets in here, and I know it’s long, but it’s worth reading. Thank you, Jeff Snell, for letting the Holy Spirit direct your hands to write this.

 

Now ultimately, I am persuaded that I am here for some reason by the design of God, because I stand before you as one addicted to the work of preaching; an addiction to which I neither plan nor hope to recover.

As such, perhaps you expect me to offer an apologetic for the value of spoken words. In an era in which talk is cheap, perhaps you expect me to defend them-I need not.

Those who tell me talk is cheap do precisely that- they tell me so. Their testimony is self-defeating,so I need not offer a defense.

No, I have not come to offer a defense, but I have come to offer a heartfelt plea on its behalf. Not just any words, mind you, but Sacred words. Sacred words sufficiently spoken. You’ve heard it said by Francis, “preach, by all means possible; if necessary, use words,” but I would humbly say to you, “preach by all means necessary; if possible, use words.”

do it. Live it. But Don’t just do it, say it. Deliver cups, thermos’ full, deliver barrels and kegs full of cold water in the name of Jesus, but somehow let them know that is it is in the Name of Jesus. Place on the Alter that marvelous, mysterious, mass of mouth muscle, and allow Your maker to make it into a majestic mouthpiece.

Say it. Say it from the Torah, from the writings, from the prophets. Whether your Ministry Strengths Profile categorizes you as flexible, creative, inter-personally skilled, disciplined, risk-taking, visionary or studious, say it. Whether it affirms your oral communication, musicianship, administration or written communication skills, speak it.

say it!

say it with the raw energy of youth. Say it with the tempered expectations of a forty-something. Say it in the precious wisdom of the aged, but say it. If you are but a child, say it. Don’t just say it to your action figures hoping someday to figure in the action, say it. Say it now, say it clear- you can speak it as well you hear. Say it to your friends. Say it on the playground, in your  elementary classroom, in Sunday school, and in Big Church if they’re wise enough to let you.

Say it because it’s true.

because it’s noble.

say it because it’s exhilarating, exhausting and exasperating all at the same time.

If ya got an “A” in homiletic class or Advanced Speech for Women, say it.

If ya got a “B”, say it. If you got a C or a D, say it.

And if you got an “F”…If you got an f, figure out whether it was due to lack of content, or lack of effort. If lack of effort, learn to care, if lack of content, learn the Truth, and say it.

If you’re on academic probation, you are not on proclamation probation, speak.

If it burns like a fire within you, for God’s sake, speak. It won’t necessarily be for your sake… It might get you stoned to death, as it did Jeremiah. Speak anyhow. If everything within you cries, “here am I Lord, send me!”, it may get you sawed in two someday. Such was the case for Isiah. Say.It.Anyway. If you find yourself holding out your hands all day long to a stubborn and obstinate people: So did God. Speak anyhow.

Fly so you can say it, drive, take a train, bike. You can get there by caravan, cross a desert like an Arab man; I don’t care how you get there, just get there, if you can.

Sacred speech is many things, but this kind of talk is not cheap. And it doesn’t come cheaply.

Though you must arise earlier in the morning than you’d like in order to prepare, prepare.

Though you will arrive home later in the evening than you would prefer, say it.

Guaranteed fact: it will cost you more than you ever intended to pay. Guaranteed fact.

You will laugh. You will laugh with great joy. You will be silenced… a preacher, silenced, in reverent wonder. You will cry. If there is any emotion in you, you will someday cry. But you’ll cry for joy, too. 

Until all have heard, say it. Even if everyone in your audience has heard, say it again.

Should you avoid the spotlight due to an introverted personality, find a quiet corner of the world or a room and say it. If you avoid the spotlight due to timidity, repent, and say it. Should you love the spotlight too much, repent. By all means, repent…There is only one celebrity in this deal, He exists in three persons, fours’ a crowd, by all means repent.

Whether you have thirty days, thirty hours, thirty minutes or thirty seconds to prepare, say it.

When you don’t understand all the details of the passage, tell them what you do know. Tell it.

Tell me the old old story, for those who know it best; seen hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest. May you long for a thousand tongues, that you may speak Your reedeemer’s praise.

If your first sentence isn’t striking, speak it the best you can. If your conclusion doesn’t wrap around to the introduction, Matt Proctor will forgive you. Care enough to be a craftsman, care enough to be careful, but say it. 

Learn Spanish, French, German, and Arabic so you can say it. Learn Canadian. Say it with whatever accent they use in Kentucky…But say it.

Use video, drama, live animals, song, and whatever else you can think of, say it. Fill your points and poems with Truth and passion – they can still work.

Write a manuscript, take a sentence outline, stand up with no notes at all, but say it.

When you get up to speak you will think to yourself, “I am about to throw down!”

And then there will be times when you will think to yourself, “I am about to throw up.” Say it anyway.

Fill the air with “ought, must, should,”

don’t fill the air with “ought, must, should!”

Though some will despise you, speak. Though some will say, ‘he speaks as a god, not a man!’ TELL THEM.

Speak…with love, joy and peace. Speak with peace, patience, kindness, speak with self control.

Sure, some Christians will mock your dignity. Your voice, your attire…these things will become fodder for comedy routines. Forgive them; they are unwise. Sure, some Christians will mock your lack of dignity…They will mock your pulling of a hamstring for Jesus as you cry at the top of your lungs, ” I WILL BECOME EVEN MORE UNDIGNIFIED THAN THIS!” Forgive them, they too are unwise. Speak anyway.

God so loved the world that He gave: Say so. It’s a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of an angry God: say so. How can a young man keep his way pure? Tell them. Delight in His statues personally and then pass them along.

His hands have formed you, that includes your tongue. SAY IT.

Preach it. Preach it! Preach it in the mornin’ and when the sun goes down. Though some will sit there with score cards, you keep on speaking. Your words may seem foolish to them, they may sound foolish to you, but they are the power of God, so speak them.

People do take this stuff seriously, you know. And they won’t just take seriously the words you’ve prepared; they will pay attention to all you say. Hungry people devour bread, even when it’s half-baked bread.

If you find your opportunities limited due to your gender, speak when and where you can,and love Jesus more than saying a word in Jesus’ Name. So if they call it a lesson, say it. If they call it a devotion, devote them. If they call it an address, address them. If they call it a presentation, present…If they call it a personal testimony, for God’s Sake, Testify! There are more women and children in the world today than you will ever manage to address in TEN lifetimes! Don’t focus on where you face limitation; speak where you can, and with the beauty of your female voice, speak. 

Speak as long as the One who breathed life into humanity, gives you breath. When the air is heavy with ultimate mystery, gather around you whomever you can and say it. Say it to yourself,and let your departure contain a farewell address. Like Joseph’s did. Like Moses’ did, like Joshua and Elijah did, Like Jesus did.

There’s a reason John 14 through 17 is in your Bible, you know.  I get the distinct impression that it’s a good way to transpose “goobyes” into “see ya laters”.

Even the Cross event did not unfold in wordless silence. Some would rather see a sermon than hear one; this I know. It’s just that Jesus Himself refused to make the two into a false dichotomy: His Authoritative deeds re-enforced His Authoritative Words, and His Words were an interpretive framework to help people grasp the significance of His deeds. Kind of what you’d expect with someone standing with the Old Testament tradition.

And so.

Even on the Cross, even in the midst of the greatest object lesson the world had ever seen, Jesus spoke. HE SPOKE! He spoke Words of Pastoral promise to a thief, He spoke Words from an ancient Psalm as He cried out in self disclosure, but make no mistake about it: HE SPOKE. And when He got ready to breathe His last, He spoke a sermon that the writers captured in a single Greek Word:

                                              It is finished.

 

And in doing so, He ascribed dignity to the spoken word. And His resurrection served as an opportunity to say even more. Yours will too. Someday you too will get a new body, and included in that will be a new tongue. And with your very first “Hallelujah”, by God, you are gonna finally get it just right.

In the meantime, take the faltering, stammering one you’ve got, and say it.

 

 

It’s going to be alright.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a friend telling me, “You’re alright. You’re fine,” is the most soothing group of words my heart absorbs. Those words ground me, remind me that my feelings are normal (sometimes, anyway); and that redirection is achievable for me.

see, I’m on this journey to find (and expose) parts of myself that I inadvertently shoved into the back of a filing cabinet, though I understand that this shoving was a coping mechanism to avoid facing and feeling. 

I recently shared part of my life that is painful for me with a group of strangers, who are not so strange anymore. I made very little eye contact and was stoic in my retelling, as if I were recalling a boring visit to my Grandparents, circa 1993. A kind friend told me that details to a story are what separates justification and truth, so I shared specifics, though I was scared it would be at this point that I’d be tempted to look around the circle and see eyes widen. When I finished, there seemed to be an extended amount of silence, but that’s probably only because all eyes were on me!

And then I became overwhelmed by the fighting spirits around me; those who cried for me, vowed to pray for me, speak Life over me.

So thankful for friends who cry for me when I cannot, and hold me tightly when I cannot seem to ask for it.

 

Here’s to thawing out, because when the ice melts off the trees and they start growing little buds of yellow and pink and green, life starts over again.

 

It’s going to be alright. I’m fine.

 

 

 

 

Confessions from a Zombie.

Confession: because I’ve been working such weird hours, I pretty much feel like a zombie.

Confession: I have a strange obsession with kicking all the crap (snow/ice) out of the undercarriage of my car and the wheel wells.  Oh, and then I get obsessive about hanging icicles on my car.

Must.Kick.Them.Off.

And it’s not just my car. I feel the compulsion to do this to other cars, too.  This morning I was walking into the bank and there was a dirty jeep that had this gargantuan icicle hanging from the bumper and I desperately wanted to kick it off. I figured I shouldn’t because it’s not my vehicle and the patron could grow upset, thinking I am kicking his bumper.

That was a few hours ago, and I’m still thinking about how much I wanted to yank those stupid icicle off.

Confession: We do a lot of printing at work. One of the single greatest smells of this earth is the smell of paper freshly printed. I drool all over the place just thinking about it. And I have no problem openly smelling paper every time something prints. What can I say? I have an acute sense of smell.

Confession: I started dating a guy who was very,very complimentary. He also used future language, and a lot of “we” words. Because I’ve been in so few relationships, my brain went like this: “Holy crap he’s cute! And he likes ME?!”, then I thought, ” I feel comfortable with this man. He is the first man I’ve felt comfortable with in my entire life.” and finally, “whoa. maybe we will get married someday. I am so ready to love someone.”

He ended up being extremely manipulative and I feel foolish for handing him my entire heart. He quickly discovered how he could manipulate, and that scares me. What about me conveyed that I could be used? I am embarrassed to confess the lengths I was willing to go in order to keep him happy.

I was ready to spend the night with him when God rescued me.

It is as if God spoke to me, “You really want to give yourself to him? Let me just show you who you are giving yourself to first. Let me reveal his character to you.” That’s when I really got the big picture; that he was not planning on staying with me, and only interested in my bank account.

I am so thankful for a God who specializes in executing flawless rescues of His kids. He’s His own S.W.A.T. Team.

He knew the light bulb would flash on, but this too I know: He would have held me if I’d decided to sleep with that man.

Confession: conversely, I love being single sometimes. I love it because I can blast music in my car and sing loudly with no one to object or critique me.

Confession: Sometimes it is unbearably difficult to love the clientele I work with. Those that have been there for months at a time who get needy and expectant, or those (usually females) that have been inside those walls for minutes expecting certain treatment get my blood boiling.

And the truth is, sometimes I forget that I represent Jesus.

I hate that.

On a particularly stressful day when these clients can tell I’m pissed and they say, “hey, (insert: CO, Miss Becca, or just Schneider…) are you havin a bad day?” And I suddenly feel so raw, exposed. It is my intention to keep a fairly neutral outer demeanor, but I get embarrassed that I’ve let my emotions show. And that I have not shown Jesus, but instead an impatient, maybe even power hungry individual. At that moment, I have the choice to get even angrier, ignore that individual, or admit my attitude is out of line, and apologize. Apologizing in the setting I work in is a BIG deal. CO’s are generally seen as prideful bullies. I always want to be firm, fair, consistent–but also gentle sometimes. My role when it comes to medical emergencies gives me the opportunity to show my gentle side.

And I love that.

I love that I get to be an advocate for those that cannot speak for themselves. Years of working in this environment can harden a person; to the point that when someone is weeping from a broken arm, an Officer scoffs because they’ve seen so many actors. I know for certain Jesus has me there for a reason, if for nothing else, than to take care of those folks when they really need it. But, sometimes I forget to be Jesus and am mean.

Confession: I am afraid of letting my emotions show, for fear that I will not be able to curtail them. I dread the thought of sobbing–you know the type, snot running down your face, and someone offers you a KLEENX (like that does anything), your cheeks become a slip n’ slide for your saline, and your lips get chapped because, for some weird reason, there’s a compulsion to lick them incessantly. It’s not the messy mascara that bugs me. I understand life is messy, and the expression of sorrow is often messy. It’s that I truly am afraid that the door to my soul is much like a flashback. That right now, everything is contained, but as soon as the door is opened, oxygen will reach the starving flames and there will be an explosion of dynamic proportions.

I’m finding myself resisting already, and I don’t want to shut down, but I don’t want to give 100%, either. I don’t want to delve into my childhood, because if I start crying, will I stop? and will I truly allow people to comfort me? I mean, let it penetrate into my soul? Will I make an effort to look people in the eye?

“Your presence fills and satisfies; tears down the walls we hide behind. Oh God of every aching heart, we long for you in light and dark; for Jesus reigns, over all, He reigns..We exalt Your Name high above the Heavens..”  Kari Jobe

 

So This is the New Year. . . I Don’t Feel any Different.

Dear anybody in the world that’s decidedly sat upon this blog. It has been dormant for too long. I’ve decided now that I have a working computer (Thank you Stephanie Blakeman!) that I ought to get back to this writing stuff. I’ve dusted off my fingers and the combines in my mind are churning again. I think it will be good for me. I think it will be good for my soul, my ability to process; my relationship with God.

Admittedly, my first kiss was planted on an awkward teen’s cheek. My friend Stephanie (not the one who gave me this fly computer) and I had traveled with the school band to Florida to perform in parades at Disney World. I played the trumpet. It’s a loud instrument that crescendos with exceptional beauty.

For New Years Eve we attended a shin dig for all the school bands playing in the various parades throughout the week. I mostly remember feeling awkward because I had no dance partner, and I had a yellow shirt that was too short for my stomach but wore only because my friends noted it was the “girliest” attire I had. Right before midnight, with N*SYNC pounding, Stephanie ran up to me and told me that we were on a mission: to kiss as many unsuspecting boys as possible; they wouldn’t know what hit ’em.

I didn’t know how to kiss. All my life I’d purposely avoided romance movies, easily looked away from overly coupled couples, saw my parents smooch and thought the slobber exchange was a little nauseating. You might have thought I was home schooled with my lack of knowledge on such things. I had my reasons for abstaining.

So when I ran around the auditorium pecking boys with white long sleeve shirts and black ties that were probably clip on, I think I terrified some of them. My “coup de tat”  was not attractive and none of them ever scooped me up for a sneaky sneak on the lips.  But still, it was exhilerating. 

And then there was the time I kissed my first boyfriend. We were in the community swimming pool. He tried prying open my lips with his tongue. I resisted and he dumped me. Plus I didn’t like him smoking pot and drinking.

I recently began a new and exciting relationship with a man.  He’s handsome, intelligent, we have similiar interests, has an admittedly sordid past (I have appreciated his authenticity), loves his two little boys, and loves Jesus. I have been overwhelmed by his attraction to me. He likes me just the way I am (Billy Joel? Anyone? Anyone).  On our first date we didn’t want to say goodbye to one another. We kept hugging by my car, pulling away, chatting for a few more minutes, then hugged again. He kissed me on the cheek. I reciprocated. He tilted my chin towards his and gave me a few kisses on the lips.

It was sweet, and very innocent, and wonderful and exhilarating.

That story sounds like a Taylor Swift song.

The truth is, I am twenty seven and have only kissed four men.

Tonight I wanted to kiss this man on the lips. I wanted to kiss him good. I want to practice on him all the time so that I can hone in on my kissing skills, become a master. I wanted to hold him close, look into his eyes, tell him how thankful I am that I get to be his girlfriend, and that he can call me his, and I can call him mine. 

 

But that didn’t happen. Somewhere we got lost, and we didn’t speak at all tonight. He wanted to be left alone, and all I wanted to do was be with him. 

I don’t know that I’ve ever been one of those girls that needs a man. In fact, I’ve lived life pretty darn well without one. I don’t get sad on Valentines Day; rebelling against the Hallmark system by going bowling with my single friends. Christmas doesn’t make me want to sit around the fire with a man or get nice gifts from one. But for some reason New Years has always made me a little sad. You see the most passionate kisses on this one night. Granted, who knows how many of them are performed sober, how many of them are hiding their rings in their pockets, will go home with a stranger that night, or walk home alone after the confetti has hit the ground and started staining the streets the color of Skittles. All for one lousy night.

But I wanted to be kissed tonight. I wanted to be kissed by a man that says I have a great butt, damnit. 

 

Instead I went to my friends house and I kissed their one month old Atticus on the forehead. I thanked him for being a gentleman and letting my plant one on him; hoping it wouldn’t traumatize him. 

 

I got over my iconic wish and spent the evening laughing with friends who care about me.

 

I’ll get that kiss someday.

 

 

 

 

Restoration is Messy.

In colloquial terms, I reside in Tornado Alley. I rode out the storm in the bath tub with my roommate Sarah, her dog Chloe, and the cat, whose name changes so often that I’m not sure what to call her. Lately, it’s been Diabetes due to the excessive amount of water she constantly drinks.

So, Sarah and I lived through a fierce tornado in the tub with a dog and cat that never got along except for the hour or so we huddled in there.

And when we emerged from the bathroom, the gentle pitter patter of the rain seemed misplaced; like mother nature was trying to make up for the mess it had just made of things. The trees had been stripped of their leaves, and I could smell diesel fuel, freshly cut trees, and fire. We walked across a field, I found a wet crinkled Dollar bill, fixated on some stupid stroke of luck that was, and when we looked up, we saw our city in piles, like someone got mad and smashed their legos everywhere.

Everything was literally a bloody mess.

Folks from around the world took off work, left their pets at home, got on clunky yellow buses for hours at a time to travel to some dinky town to get their hands dirty. Medics and Fire fighters with flash lights and pick axes, with shears, bags of saline, and spray paint, looked for survivors and found makeshift cots out of car doors lying around.

It was overwhelming, the mess.

A year later there were all sorts of celebrations and memorials to remember those who passed, and to look forward to what we have become as a community, all that has been accomplished through laborious work.

One day, our city was decimated like an eight month old crushing a  graham cracker. The city will never be the same, but there is some wholeness here now. With reconstruction comes restoration, and God is so, so good at that. Because all of a sudden, buildings are standing tall, people are walking, healed; I hear more laughter, and no one really can explain how it all happened, it just manifested over time.

God and I have been sparring today. Playful banter, really. Though at times I’ve wanted to wrestle Him- I’ve asked Him to go easy on me because I hurt my back a few days ago. We’re sparring because over the last few days I have heard of infidelity in the midst of marriages, and it makes my ticker ache. Then there was the news that a man I used to admire and longed to serve alongside married the woman he cheated on his wife for. I can’t help but wonder, how can they have a God-honoring marriage if it began from infidelity?

Can God really use these people? I’ve heard time and time again, God always gets Glory. Whatever it takes, God will get His Glory. God never said life would bring us lessons in neat packages, followed by peaceful resolution by which His Glory would shine through. Life is complicated, and while God does give us lessons every day, He uses even the most vile circumstances to show through as our Lord.

And then I wonder if I’m just as a blind as all those white-wash- tombed Pharisees who sneered at Jesus’ love for Prostitutes and those less “put together”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love messy. I’ve always had a fascination and love for “messy” people. I believe God uses the kid who can’t draw in the lines as well as the one with advanced shading skills. But, even I am unsure of my motives when I wonder how those that have destroyed ministries, appear to have no remorse, take their wedding rings off for a night, only to slip it back on the next night as if they’re slick, can be used by God. I am not uncomfortable with their messiness, I am uncomfortable with the thought that God still uses them, and delights in them.

OUCH. How wretched do I sound?!

Maybe my job is getting to me. Maybe I need to really revisit what God says about Grace. Justice and Grace are two different things, and it not my job to decide the state of someone’s heart (nor their motives), but it is my job to dispense Grace.

Think I’ll keep sparring for a while until God pushes me down to rest (as He did with David in Psalms), or until I am ready to accept and live the wholeness of the Gospel.

Until then.