Because ‘seriousness’ isn’t a fruit of the Spirit

G:

I’ve realized two things lately:

1)     This blog has become more stale than a loaf of bread three months past its expiration date

2)     Christians are way too serious

seriousness

I can blame my busyness for my blog’s dryness, but what excuse do Christians have?

We can’t blame it on our expiration dates.

For a people that have been redeemed through a sacrificial act of extravagant love, we seem to be walking around like our puppy keeps getting run over by a truck every single day.

I’m not sure if You can feel the chill all the way up there in the clouds, but it’s pretty cold down here.

If the “Frozen Chosen” were a brand of popsicles, it would probably be a lot cooler than what they actually are.

My friend went to a Christian concert the other day and told me that the band, in an effort to get everyone to loosen up and enjoy themselves, said: “We’re going to have fun tonight because seriousness isn’t a fruit of the spirit. Joy is.”

I know it was written on the stone tablets, “Thou shall not steal,” but I’m totally stealing that saying.

Somehow we’ve forgotten the joy. The laughter. The happiness.

Yes, there is a time and season for everything. “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecc 3:4). But we seem to be forgetting to laugh and dance.

We seem to be forgetting that seriousness isn’t a fruit of the spirit.

Like a spiritual fortune cookie, Solomon sums it up well in Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

I’m not sure what’s crushing our spirits as Christians. The world. Money. Jobs. Relationships. Suffering. Depression. Illness. I’m sure it’s a list that rivals an exhaustive phone book of New York City.

And I’m sure our joy-less spirits are drying up our bones.

I wonder what would happen if we stopped being a stale people and started being the ones that displayed joy amongst love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Turns out laughter may be the best medicine after all.

Your goofball,

m

Sunsets are like chicken nuggets

G:

I’ve decided sunsets are like chicken nuggets. No two ever look the same.

I’d like to consider myself a “sunset chaser,” if you will. I’ve been chasing sunsets over the ocean like storm chasers stalk tornadoes in a field in Kansas.

And you blessed the socks right off me when I finally saw the sun set over the Pacific Ocean (because the sun setting in bays over the Atlantic just doesn’t count).

IMG_1592

Somewhere between creating day and night you decided to create this amazing transition between the two. And no two sunsets are ever the same. You just keep me guessing. And keep me chasing the new, the different, the beautiful.

Kudos, G. Kudos.

In awe, your child,

m

Sometimes, the boar doesn’t need a haircut

G:

It’s March already?! It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating your Son’s birthday.

It seems as if the older I get the faster time flies—as if we’re picking up speed the closer we get to the finish line.

Since I’ve been gone in Seattle for more than a week for work, my blog clearly showed the effects of my busyness. In my efforts to juggle so many things in seemingly so little time, I always end up dropping at least one ball somewhere (at least I’m not juggling chainsaws).

While at this work conference, there were hundreds of tables where people from schools or literary journals had fun and interesting freebies. My coworkers stumbled upon a table that gave away tarot card readings. Of course I don’t believe in it, but I was on a mission to get as many awesome freebies as possible.

I walked up to the table and picked this card:

boar

The guy at the table stared at it for 15 seconds and declared:

“Clearly, this is a man trying to give a boar a haircut.”

Clearly, this tarot card reading was directly applicable to my life.

I felt the excitement go out of me like helium from a popped balloon.

He went on to say: “This man is trying to do the impossible. You have to allow yourself to be realistic. Sometimes you can’t do everything. Don’t try to do the impossible. Sometimes, the boar doesn’t need a haircut.”

Even though this guy made up all this stuff up on the spot, it reminded me that I can’t do everything.

Clearly, I need help.

For all the things I need to do and can’t avoid, for all the balls I need to keep juggling, I’m thankful You give me the strength to accomplish it all when I focus on You (Philippians 4:13).

And then sometimes, there are those balls that can and should be dropped. Sometimes I try to tackle the impossible, when it’s not in Your best for me. Thanks for giving me discernment to drop the ball.

Because sometimes, the boar doesn’t need a haircut.

Your child,

m

I ain’t my Momma

Upon turning 22, my friend declared that “22 is halfway to 44 which is halfway to 88 which means you are halfway dead.”

(We are clearly no longer friends.)

Birthdays are kind of like New Year’s—they make you reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going. You’re another year older. And another year closer to 88.

On the day of my 28th birthday, I couldn’t help but compare myself to those I love and admire more than anyone else in the world: my parents. I think about where they were at 28. And at this age my mother was married for 6 years with a two-year-old and another on the way.

If my life was supposed to follow those breadcrumbs, the birds clearly had a 28-year feast and unknowingly I stumbled upon the long, scenic route up the side of a steep mountain.

While I would be blessed if I had even 1/100 of the character my mother has, my life has not followed her blueprint.

I ain’t my Momma.

Chatting with another single friend the other day, I decided expectations for young adults are like kitchen cleaners under the sink to little kids. It’s just not fair that the blue stuff that looks like a huge jug of blue raspberry Kool-Aid is locked away behind childproof cabinets—seemingly unattainable. But here’s the thing: turns out that stuff may not be the best for us anyway.

My life and the lives of my single friends are not the lives of our parents. But our lives aren’t wrong. They’re different.

I’m single. I’m living on my own. I’m pursuing my passion for writing. I’m really great at making cereal for dinner.

I can’t help but compare myself to those I love most—and I pray that I have even a fraction of the love, faith, and character that my parents do. But I know You have different plans for me than you had for my father and mother.

I ain’t my Momma.

I’m me.

Your child,

m

On birthdays: a special shout out to my parents

family

G:

Well, 28 years ago today you decided to have me pop out into the world on a cold foggy day with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and my weight matching that of a popular convenient store chain.

I’d like to first give You a special shout out for creating me even before my parents did. You knew the plans You had for me even before my parents knew my gender. You knew how many hairs were going to be on my head even before the “no that’s not a perm that’s her natural hair” afro phase.

But I’d really like to thank you for blessing me by bringing me into an amazing earthly family. For parents whose love rivals the depth of Loch Ness. For a mother whose warmth is greater than the Sahara. For a father whose humor is better than any late night with Jimmy Fallon. For parents who have shown me unconditional love. For a mother and father whose kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, encouragement, support, and guidance has helped form who I am today. For parents who lovingly guided and instructed me on a path to You.

My heart swells with love for them like a balloon to the point of bursting.

Thank you for blessing me with parents who reflect in real and tangible ways the characteristics of You.

Your child,

m

Singleness is the new black

G:

Like the president of Russia deeming the Olympic ceremonies open, I deem singleness the new black.

Cue torch:

olympic torch

Because let’s face it: singleness is like glitter at a crafts table.

It’s everywhere.

Now more than ever, people are getting married later in life. Now more than ever, articles about singleness are spreading like the bubonic plague. Now more than ever, singleness isn’t a curse. It’s OK.

And dare I say it, it’s COOL.

Sure, there are a host of reasons why our culture is seeing a plethora of singles: couples are already cohabitating, marriage isn’t viewed as necessary anymore, college grads are crippled by student loans, etc. But there are a host of different reasons You love singleness: we have unprecedented amounts of time to serve You in ways you created us uniquely for right now.

While our culture may view singleness as cool in their own eyes, I see singleness as cool from Your eyes.

I’m sensing a Paul revival a la 1 Corinthians 7:34-35 in light of 7:8:

Singleness: it’s all good.

Your happily single child,

m

ON ANATOMICALLY INCORRECT HEARTS

heart (1)

G:

Well, it’s February.

Which means that M&Ms are now pink and red. And sugar cookies have received (limited edition) anatomically incorrect heart donations.

But here’s the thing: those darn heart shapes are like an epidemic—they’re everywhere. And everyone’s contaminated.

But the contamination of consumerism isn’t all that alarms me. And it’s not even those giant stuffed bears that have come out of hibernation for $40. It’s the fact that love has lost its meaning. Love has become so overly simplified and cheapened.

Just like the shape of the heart.

Love has come to mean butterflies and sparks and fireworks. One night stands. Lust. Celebrity marriages that don’t even last a month.

But the heart is more than just a circle resting on a golf tee wishing he were a camel (just go with it*). The heart is complex, there are valves and chambers and lots of things I don’t remember from health class in middle school.

And isn’t love so much more intricate and meaningful than sparks and chocolate? Doesn’t love come in many forms? Eros. Philos. Agape. It comes in the form of a husband and wife. It finds itself between friends. It pours unconditionally from You.

Isn’t love more than just a fleeting feeling? Isn’t it a choice? It’s selfless, sacrificial, and ditto everything that Paul said (1 Corinthians 13).

But I get it—Pillsbury would never do well with a sugar cookie with an anatomically correct heart inside it. It would be horrifying looking and confusing and the kids would cry because they don’t understand why their cookie is so ugly and moms all over the world would have to appease their kids’ shrieks and tears by covering the cookie up with pink frosting. I get it. I do.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we celebrated where love comes from and what it really means in all its forms? Wouldn’t it be great if we were all contagious with a love that meant something? A love that wasn’t cheap. A love that wasn’t dummied down like the heart into a simple shape.

The heart is more than a simple clip-art image. And love is so much more than one day in February.

Your child,

m

* Because I’m not sure you got it:

anatomy of a heart

** On second thought, never mind.

Conversations that carry a lot of wait

my-life-is-buffering

G:

I feel like you and I have had three very distinct conversations over my lifetime.

There’s the “Hello, can you hear me now?” conversation:

m: “Hey God, it’s me. m.”

[Silence]

m: “Hey God, not sure if you heard me the first time. It’s me, m!”

[Silence]

m: “Are we having a bad connection? Perhaps you’re on the prayer line with another person right now? Maybe I should pray back later?”

[Silence]

m: “OK—just humor me. Send me a sign that I will have a new job by June. Have my favorite song come on the radio. Or a knock on my apartment door. Have my phone ring… now!”

[Silence]

m: “I just realized my phone was on silent. Let’s try this again… and GO!”

[Silence]

And the “Is the neon blinking light not obvious enough” conversation:

m: “So, I’ve been thinking…”

G: “Just wait.”

m: “But I have this great idea!”

G: “Just wait.”

m: “But if I—”

G: “Just wait.”

m: “But how long do I have to wait?!”

G: “Just wait.”

m: “Have you seen the white hairs popping up on my head?! Do I need to start asking for a walker for my birthday? Some orthopedic shoes? Dentures?!”

G: “Just wait.”

m: “GUYS DO NOT MAKE OUT WITH GIRLS WHO HAVE DENTURES!”

G: “Just wait.”

m: “Okay, listen. Have you seen what happens to me when it’s 6:00 PM and I haven’t had any dinner yet and my blood sugar is low and so is my patience? Hm?”

G: “Have you read any of the Old Testament?”

m: “Touché.”

And then sometimes there’s the “I hear what you’re saying and I’m actually OK with it” conversation:

m: “Sup, G!”

G: “Yo, lil’ m.”

m: “I’ve been thinking. I have a few ideas of what this next year will look like. Writing wise. Job wise. Church wise.”

G: “Don’t make any plans. Mine are better.”

m: “You know what, you are probably right.”

G: “I’m always right. Foresight 20/20.”

m: “Right eye -7.5 and left eye -6.5. Hindsight 20/20.”

G: “Which is why you need me—you are almost legally blind.”

m: (sings) “’Twas blind but now I see!!”

[Silence]

m: “G?”

G: “You’ll sing better when you get to heaven.”

M: “OK, so the plan is to just wait and let you lead me where you want me to go.”

G: “That’s the plan.”

m: “Jeremiah 29:11!”

G: “Thanks, I know– helped Jeremiah write it. Divine inspiration.”

Today, I’m happy with you just telling me to wait.

Your child,

m

Why I’m glad God is not an admissions counselor

admissions

G:

If you were an admissions counselor, I would be automatically denied because I failed to post this letter on my usual time on my usual day.

Reason for denial: can’t make deadlines.

If you were an admissions counselor, I’d call your office and you’d answer:

G: “Hello this is Heaven’s Office of Admissions, this is God. How can I help you?”

m: “Hi. My name is m. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be talking to you right now. I’ve wanted nothing more than to go to Heaven since I was a little kid. I have heavenly paraphernalia plastered all over my room, I’m the owner of at least 5 WWJD bracelets, and I have a Jesus fish on my bumper sticker. I’m a diehard Heaven Christians fan!”

G: “Did you just use ‘Christians’ as a mascot?”

m: “Yes. No. Maybe. Yes.”

G: “When would you be looking to start?”

m: “Well, as much as I know I should want to start any time, I’d be okay with pushing it off until it’s the right time to go.”

G: “We do run on a rolling admissions basis.”

m: “Great!”

G: “For those who qualify.”

m: “Oh.”

G: “What’s your GPA?”

m: “Um…”

G: “Our baseline is a 4.0.”

[Silence]

G: “Hello? Are you still there?”

m: “Yes, sorry. I just stopped breathing for a second.”

G: “Well don’t do that just yet. We haven’t finished the application process yet.”

m: “Do you make exceptions on a case by case basis at all?”

G: “I’m pulling up your transcripts now and I see you got a D in gym class.”

m: “My sneakers didn’t fit right. My big toe was popping out of the top. It affected my kickball skills.”

G: “You failed home economics.”

m: “The oven temperature was clearly off. And you honestly couldn’t even taste the plastic wrapper in the cake. It melted away because of the excessive heat.”

G: “I’m afraid that given your academic history, you wouldn’t be able to handle the demands of this institution.”

m: “But what if I sent you some references?”

G: “Your mother doesn’t count.”

m: “But!”

G: “I’m just checking my e-mail now and I see you sent me your statement of purpose already:

Hell God,

I’m sexting you my statement of porpoises.

m

Sent from my iPhone”

m: “OH NO!”

G: “Oh yes.”

m: “@#$% auto correct!”

G: “You just swore.”

m: “Oh @#$#@%. I just swore on the phone with God. And @#$% I just did it again.”

G: “I’d like to thank you for your call and for your interest, but I’m afraid we can’t accept you at this time. I do wish you the best in your future endeavors.”

m: “But where else is there?”

G: “The only other option is a program far, far south. I hope you like hot weather.”

m: “BUT!”

[click]

Thankfully this is not how you roll. Getting into Heaven is actually easier than getting into Harvard.

Thankfully you are NOT an admissions counselor. And if you were, you would be the worst admissions counselor ever—you let anybody in who believes in your Son.

And you do have unbeatable retention rates.

Your child,

– m

Explore. Dream. Discover.

G:

Well, I’m six days into a new year and a lot of monumental things have taken place:

1)      I finally have a smart phone

2)      I bought an electric blanket since I never turn my heat on

3)      I am now the proud owner of a blender (SMOOTHIESSSSSSSSSS)

My quality of life has exponentially changed.

You know I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions. While it would be a good idea to set a goal of ingesting more leafy greenery into my digestive system, I always become more reflective in a new year than proactive. I think about what was, what may be. But I never really set any fast and hard deadlines or goals for the new year.

I just like to see what happens.

The other day I was looking at the dashboard on my MacBook right next to the Chi Pet widget I forgot to water four years ago:

Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 10.27.02 AM

And I noticed a sticky note with a quote on it I’ve been neglecting to look at as much as my Chi Pet:

Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 10.27.11 AM

There was a reason I liked it four years ago and a reason it still resonates with me today. I don’t want to be idle in the safe harbor of comfort and familiarity. I’ve always wanted to set sail into the unknown and discover what’s waiting there for me. To discover what You have waiting there for me.

Following your will for me is setting sail into the unknown. And I know I’d be remiss if I didn’t step out in faith and let your winds catch my sails and take me where You want me.

I want to explore, dream, and discover your plans—your wonderful plans for me.

I want to make that my goal this year. To step out in faith, to free myself from the safe harbor. To take advantage of every opportunity that You present to me. To grow by becoming uncomfortable, stretched, challenged. It’s a lot scarier than green leafy vegetables, but a lot more rewarding.

It’s definitely no coincidence that right next to the quote by Mark Twain on my dashboard is this verse:

Screen shot 2014-01-06 at 10.31.10 AM

I’m excited to see what will happen this year because I know you are going to lead me when I’m looking to you to guide me. I can’t think of anything more exciting than that.

So lead on, Master Navigator. Put on a pirate hat, perhaps a parrot on your shoulder and let’s set sail.

My quality of life is going to exponentially change.

Your child,

m