#navbar-iframe {display: none !important;}

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Grinch is Welcome

It's official. 

My favorite Christmas movie is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Jim Carrey style. 

I love it because it's an incredible story. Dr. Seuss knew how to tell a good story. Redemption, hope, welcoming those who don't feel welcome, all the things. But this year, on the third time through, I'm starting to see this story fully and differently. 

When Cindy Lou-Who goes to the Grinch's lair and invites him to the Whobilation, it feels so important. Because she's just not afraid. She's not afraid of the outcast. She doesn't see him as different. She sees him alone and she sees Christmas and she thinks, "why can't he be a part of this?"

And then she invites him in. She extends an invitation for him to join into what they're doing. She goes to his house, looks him in the eye, and tells him that he's welcome. 

Because everyone is welcome. Even those who seem to reject it and are green and terrifying and are really, really messy, well, they're all welcome. It's really an extraordinary idea. Can you imagine what it would change? If everyone knew they were welcome?

I think it sounds simple, yet the depths of welcome are unfathomable. 

And in this season of Christmas, God came down to us in the form of a baby and told us that we are welcome. Jesus spread his arms and said, "come, you're in!" He changed everything. 

May you experience extraordinary peace, hope, and love this season and a great sense of the invitation you've been extended. You are welcome.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Alternative

I literally do not have time to write this.

I have an essay due Monday on the eschatology of the New Testament and a message to learn and give tomorrow, but I've got blog thoughts and they must come. One thing I've learned in the past year or so is that it is essential we do what brings us rest and peace. Or else we become less full versions of ourselves. Doing the things we love make us free.

I've been thinking a lot about the alternative. I'll explain what I mean. I've actually seen it the most in my life when it comes to hope. Hope is so beautiful and life giving and the very breath we breathe, but it's so unbearable, so risky, feels so dangerous. To hope is to believe, to open yourself up and pull it right out into the path of disappointment. Hope is, if I'm being honest, very scary. The letdown feels too much to make hope even an option. 

But then, I think about the alternative to hope. Is fear the alternative? Isn't living in fear ultimately the choice we make when we turn our backs on hope? I am convinced it is. I'm convinced we clam up, tighten our fists, curl in a ball, and cringe as each new day comes. Those are the effects of fear. So while hope seems so painfully scary, I know that I do NOT want fear. I'll do anything to avoid a life of fear. I don't really know, but in some cases, I know I don't want the alternative.

So it can be said of my day today. 
I don't want to do something. I won't go into what or why or how because to be honest, I don't even know. It's one of those being stuck, hearing lies, confusion kind of things. It's very weird. But anyway, that was my day today. I just sat and stared and couldn't will myself to prepare or do what needed to be done. It was very confusing. On that top of that, I couldn't really quite name it either. Usually once I name a roadblock or a fear, I can sail past it. But this time, I kind of just sat. I knew fear was winning, but it felt like too much of a hard thing to try and overcome. It felt like I was laying down under a slab of concrete. 

And the only real comfort I could find was my disdain for the alternative. I was choosing the alternative. While I don't want to do this thing, I don't want to not do it (haha. double negative). I never want fear to win.. ever. And that certainty in my life (fear=death) is helping me walk slowly towards wholeness, towards the hard thing. Maybe it's too overwhelming to pick the answer or decide right away, but what if we eliminated options? Fear is off the table. Backing down is out of the question. Disengaging is not on the radar. Rejecting people is just not an option. Now what? What now? What is left? And while that may seem scary, it's not fear winning. Because in the end, you'll end up choosing something that fear says you couldn't. 

mmm. yes. 

So, there are those things you and I are not quite sure about. It's the life of being in seminary, I guess, or maybe it's just our plight as humans. You believe something your whole life and then you learn something new and you think, why did I ever believe that one thing in the first place? No seriously, you really cannot remember ever coming to that conclusion. Did it just appear in your brain (?), and now new knowledge is threatening to change it (hi readers. nice to meet you. i hate change. k. bye). Or the craziest is when YOU change. You become more whole and free and real. No joke. Being alive is exhausting. 

So I camp out in the Gospels and read about the person of Jesus because I think sweet relief, He never changes. He is the best choice, He is Hope, the greatest alternative to fear. I think he would say, "my girl, get out from under that slab of concrete and start doing the hard thing. It's a part of how you grow. Fear is powerful, but I am more powerful. We can do it. It's messy and weird and you probably won't get it right the first or tenth time, but fear.will.not.win. My grace is much, much bigger." I'm sure He gave that speech to Peter a handful of times. 

Okay, back to work. Seeya when I seeya. 

Monday, December 8, 2014


I've been listening to a lot of Serial lately. 
I say "a lot of Serial" instead of just "Serial" because I have been re-listening to episodes #sorrynotsorry.
It's an amazing podcast, full of crime and intrigue, puzzles and details (all the things I love). I really could go on and on and fill multiple blog posts about it .. but I'll save my verbal processing for my closest friends. 

Serial tells the story of a murder case that happened 15 years ago. We hear piece by piece of the story every week, and it really is so fascinating. But one thing that has grabbed me the most in the ten episodes so far is when the storyteller, Sarah, talks about spin.

Every piece of information has spin, she says. You hear a piece of information, any piece of information - for example, "Adnan was a devout Muslim and because of his family's religion, he hid his relationship from them"- and then it could mean either one of two things. 1) Adnan was a liar. He was deceptive and sneaky and betrayed his family. or 2) Adnan was just like every other American teenager and had a girlfriend. It wasn't an portrayal of poor character, just a illustration that he was just like everyone else. 

There is a side to everything. It's how lawyers win cases. It's how anybody does anything. And so many times throughout Serial, I'm floored by how true that is. How one thing could mean this.. or it could mean this. Which one is the right one? Are they both right? It's confusing, isn't it? Is there a source, in any given situation, for truth?

And so it is with our lives, isn't it? Something happens and as the situation or conversation or whatever takes on a more clear picture in my mind, I wait to see where I will land. Was that person offending me? Were they encouraging me? Was that personal? Was it not personal? I feel like I teeter so much in the middle. Where will the gauntlet land, where will I decide to rest this situation? How will I spin this? Is it spinning? Is it not? Sometimes it feels like such a crapshoot. 

It's why I am so adamant about the Armor of God. It's why I think my pride will eventually be the death of me. It's why I believe prayer is a daily decision of life or death. It's why I'm always whispering to myself "God is always good, I am always loved." It's why I play Real or Not Real. I'm taking a New Testament class this semester while simultaneously learning about Ephesians with ADVANCE and Paul's letters are packed with how to live a wise life. Be kind, be humble, be like Christ. I guess it's all serving as a filter when and as the confusion hits.  

Maybe you're like me and you sense those precious and weighted moments in time. You know what I'm talking about? Those make or break moments, they smack me hard in the face. You're faced with something // and these are the moments where the choice screams before the spin. 

I could go one of two ways, but I want it to be automatic. I want to know where I'm going to land. I want to land in humility, in assuming the best. I want to land in thinking less about myself, more of others. I want to land in kindness, graciousness, compassion. In wisdom, thoughtfulness, Christ-mindedness. It's a daily battle, but I want it to become ingrained in me. 

I'm reading Anne Lamott's new book (Small Victories) and it's gold. She writes about feeling welcome, living a life of welcome (I want to underline and quote the entire thing. I'll save that for another post). But there's this one part in there that I love so much. She writes about her community and how when she first discovered them, their welcome was both lovely and confusing. She said she had always thought of herself one way - "I figured it was obvious I was a fraud and kind of disgusting" - but her friends saw her as someone else entirely - "my friends thought I was irresistible, profoundly worthy of trust." Then she writes this //

"I thought at first that one view must be wrong, so I made the most radical decision, for the time being, to believe my friends." 

Yes, Anne, one view is wrong. When presented with a piece of information (whether Adnan betrayed his family or not.. or in Anne's case, her very being, your very identity), the spin doesn't have to dominate. And each choice towards obedience and wholeness, makes for a more full and free me. 

for the record, for my Serial people, I believe Adnan was trustworthy and just a normal American teenager.