a place of rootedness

Written 2/23/14

I’m sitting on the floor in the hall of our new house. My husband is doing some painting touch-ups in our son’s bedroom.

Those two sentences BLOW my mind.

I spent nearly 3 decades of my life husbandless and have had this amazing husband for 1 year and 4 months. I still am amazed that the Lord saw fit to bring us together, and make us one.

Now, this short time later, I’ve got a baby in my womb. [I think womb is a funny word and am determined to say it as much as possible while I have the excuse. You are welcome.] He will make his appearance into our world probably sometime between 3 and 4 months from now. That’s nuts. I have a child, a son. He’s making me huge, and kicking around at my insides this very moment. And I love him, though I don’t yet KNOW him.

And… we have a house! And it’s OURS [and the bank’s… but whatever].

When Jon and I got married, I moved into his apartment. So, we made space to fit me in and we/I changed and added to the décor to make it OURS and not just HIS. This feels so different than that. That was temporary and we constantly considered the temporal aspects of it. This feels like a HOME for our family to dwell in and to grow in, not forever, but for a good while.

This is a place of rootedness… and I think it’s a physical symptom of a spiritual reality.

Jon and I (separately and together) have never dreamed of being home-owners. In fact, we dreaded the thought. We’ve been mobile people who love the ability to get up and go when and where opportunities open up.  “Putting down roots” somewhere sounded lovely, but mostly for other people. When we began talking about the possibility of purchasing a home, it made us feel a bit claustrophobic. {Though I will admit, there has been a part of me that has always longed to settle somewhere.}

We also knew we didn’t want to stay in our two bedroom townhome apartment for too much longer and that buying a house made sense for us financially, much more so than renting a house would. I’m certain, however, that the reason home-ownership began to be less claustrophobia causing was actually spiritual.

Rootedness has been a theme in our lives and marriage. It’s not a rootedness in Nashville, and it’s not even a rootedness in each other. This rootedness is one that can only be in Christ and by Christ.

I know I don’t fully comprehend what He has done, is doing and will do, as our roots grow deep into Him. I know that a large part of it is happening through the Body He has placed us in here in Nashville. I guarantee you that if it wasn’t for the expression of Christ in our brothers and sisters here, we wouldn’t have bought this house and we probably wouldn’t be here at all.

It’s because of our local expression of the Body of Christ that we no longer feel claustrophobic in taking this step. I’d even go as far as to say that I am personally experiencing a deeper sense of Freedom as we take these steps, that once felt heavy and constraining.

Here’s to new seasons, and a beautiful Family to share them with. Happy 2014!

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“Did you go to church on Sunday?”

I’ve had a lot of conversations recently about a particular question that many Christians frequently ask or are asked, so I thought I’d bring the conversation here.

Have you ever asked or been asked: “Did you go to church on Sunday?”

It seems to me that we sometimes get in a habit of making this question a sort of thermometer by which to take each other’s spiritual temperature. If the answer is “yes, I did go…” we move on satisfied by a “healthy” response. If the answer is “No. I didn’t go.” We become concerned.

I have done this a lot over the years but I’ve come to think that it’s a pretty bogus spiritual thermometer. And while I do still ask the question every now and then, because I know people “go to church” on Sundays and it’s a conversation that can be legitimate, I come at it now from a different perspective. It’s almost a “How’s the weather there?” or a “What did you do this weekend?” sort of question. It tells me nothing about a person’s spiritual condition.

Here are a few quick reasons why:

1. The church is a people, not a building or a time of meeting. Assembling together is certainly important and valuable, but it doesn’t only happen on Sunday mornings or in church buildings so I don’t really think it’s a fair question.

2. There are a lot of people sitting in church buildings on Sundays who are there so they can say, “Yes, I went to church.” but they are really disconnected from the Body and from intimacy with the Lord. There are others who, for one reason or another, may not be there but are very connected with the Body and with the Lord.

3. Sometimes the Lord takes us through seasons of wilderness in order to accomplish His purposes in our lives. And, I know this is uncomfortable but, sometimes that might mean a season of “skipping church.”

I’m not saying we should not inquire about and be a part of our brothers and sisters spiritual lives. {I think that we should!} I’m just saying that I think there are better questions to ask and that understanding each other’s spiritual health is a whole lot more complicated than knowing whether or not we’re “going to church.”

What are some questions we could ask that dig deeper?

“Who she was wasn’t defined by doing at all.”

Who she was wasn’t about doing at all.
Bird by Bird, Ann Lamott

Recently, I had a conversation with an old friend in which I was asked, “Why do you even WANT to be my friend?!”

This person IS my friend and has been for quite some time. We’ve had a lot of fun together and we’ve seen each other’s crappiest crap. There have been mistakes and fights and hurt feelings. There have also been many times of forgiveness and understanding and love. Our friendship status is really rather defined at this point. It’s who we are to each other: Friend, even Family.

I questioned the question and discovered that my friend had believed the lie that there is some performance evaluation that every friend must go through to maintain their status. If Friend-A is not performing at the same level as Friend-B, then Friend-B is likely to cut Friend-A loose, cut their losses, and move on with life.

Maybe that’s how it works in the world’s friendship system. But in Christ, there’s a whole other story.

Who my friend is to me, isn’t about performance at all. We have a relationship. This relationship exists IN and because of Christ. It is a relationship of friend and of Family. It’s unbreakable, under any circumstances. Sure, there may be periods of time that one or the other of us choose to DISAPPEAR and be unreachable – and there may even be seasons when that is needed for some reason, but we will still be friends and we will still be Family.

There is Freedom in that truth. We are free to be. We are free to do, but not defined by our doing, or measured by our performance. We are free of needing to fix each other. We are Friends. We are Family. We are reminders to one another of an Identity given to us in Christ. Unchanging, even when unseen.

So, dear Friend. I want to be your friend, because I am your friend and because you are mine. I want to be your friend because Christ has made us Family. What other reason do we need? 

as I learn to recognize the Lord

My temporomandibular joint has a lot of issues. [A.K.A. I have TMD or what most people call TMJ, problems with my jaw and the surrounding facial muscles.] For many years now, it’s caused me various types of pain and discomfort. It ebbs and flows in intensity, but it is always there.

I’m used to it, but I’d rather not beya know?

So, I have an awesome husband who encouraged me to go to an awesome friend who is a very experienced and skilled massage therapist. So I did. Her name is Jill. She’s our sister (you know, in Christ). She also has the same TMD problems. She knows the pain and it’s repercussions first hand. She also knows how helpful certain massage techniques can be and she knows how to use those techniques. I now go see her now every 2 or 3 weeks for a massage. I know that sounds all luxurious and relaxing, and there is a bit of that involved sometimes… but, mostly, I lay there and she inflicts intense pain on my face. But it helps. 

Recently, she tried the most intense treatment she’s done on me so far. I laid on her massage table thinking…

This. HURTS!!!!

If Jill was some random stranger who I came to for help, I’d peace out of here real quick saying… 
“Sorry but this is not helping. This is hurting! Thanks, but no thanks!”

But because I know that Jill understands my pain and has been in this position herself,
and because I know that she cares about me and is doing this to help me,
and because I know that she does actually know what she’s doing…

I can rest in this pain, knowing it’s a good and helpful pain that will make it better later. 

Does that sound familiar? It reminds me of the Lord. He is good and He is the Giver of Good Gifts. He knows our pain. He’s felt it Himself. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us in pain but there are times that, because of His desire to heal and free us, He walks us through some painful things, knowing they are essential in taking us to the better/BEST He desires for us.

The pain I feel during massages is “good pain.” I easily recognize that now. It is not always as easy to recognize growing pains in walking with the Lord, or living in the Body, as “good pain” but it is getting easier more natural to see it as such as I learn to recognize the Lord.

one month // pictures // stay tuned

Our Wedding Celebration was one month ago, yesterday. It has been an incredible month and we have a lot that we want to share. Let’s start with some pictures of the wedding weekend. It was incredible. All of it. And so much of that was thanks to our Church Body here in Nashville and to our friends and family who spent the weekend with us.

To all who were a part of the WONDERFULNESS, we say a big… huge…

THANK YOU!!!!

Our wedding photographer, Mary Rosenbaum, is amazing! Here’s a sample of her work:

When she’s worked her magic with all the pictures, there is sure to be more shared. For now though, here are a few shots snapped by friends at the wedding (as seen on Facebook).

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Stay tuned for a series of posts on the wedding (We did things differently and will talk about how and why.) and marriage in organic church life. Not that we’re experts. It’s been a month. But it isn’t just about us. It’s bigger than that.

He is the center. He is the ALL. | Just look.

Sweater weather has arrived. Scarves now wrap my neck with warmth. I love this time of year. Something about it makes me more contemplative. I desire to sit and think deeply, to paint a picture, or to write a story. I want to hold my warm coffee, tea, or hot chocolate to my face and talk with friends about the things that really matter. And this morning, I was able to do that with two of my Sisters. It was delightful.

Our conversation was centered on What Really Matters – Christ. We were reminded that He is the center, and the ALL. He is about Himself. And we are about Him too. We wondered what the world would be like if everyone knew from childhood that what they are about… is Him. It changes everything.

It’s all about Him. It’s all about Christ. And I don’t just mean that He is the only thing that matters. It’s bigger than that. Much bigger. I mean everything… EVERYTHING … is about Him. It all points to Him. It all comes from Him. It all exists in Him. He is the center. He is the ALL.

I came home and spent some time looking over a blog that is new to me called Modern Reject. I’m digging it so far. On it, I came across a post titled “True and Better Jesus” with a great video reminding us that all of Scripture is about Christ. All of it.

Watch…

I think I’ve “known” these things for a long time in my mind. But I’m now learning to KNOW it deeper, in my spirit — where I suppose I knew it already but I just didn’t know it. (This gets confusing.) Put a little more simply, I’m learning to see EVERYTHING through the lens of Christ. It’s a crazy beautiful world when you learn to see Christ in it ALL…

Just look.

Excerpt: “Community life in the body of Christ: Viewing shame, vulnerability, and worthiness in light of Him”

The following is an excerpt from a post co-authored by Jon Scherdin and myself. We published it today at his blog Hands Wide Open.

If we are built for community and the Christian life is supposed to be corporate, then why don’t we live in a way that reflects that? The reason is surprisingly simple. We don’t believe we are worthy. We don’t know the truth of who Christ is, and who we are in Him. And without knowing our true identity we live in the fear that we are not thin enough, rich enough, beautiful enough, smart enough, and so on. We believe the lie of the evil one, that we should feel shame about who we are and what we have done, that there may be something about us that if seen by others, would deem us unworthy of connection. These feelings, these fears, are extremely powerful. We want to be known, loved, and accepted, but we don’t believe we will be if we are fully seen. We live in fear of vulnerability and believe that the shame it may bring us will break us, when in fact, it is when we do not embrace vulnerability that we are hindered from living fully.

The post was inspired by an incredible TED Talk by Brene Brown. We were amazed at how the truths she expressed in it relate to the body of Christ. We believe that growing in our connection and vulnerability is vital for the church today and thus we think this is a very important discussion.

Please click here to read the rest of our post: Community life in the body of Christ: Viewing shame, vulnerability, and worthiness in light of Him.