Why I Offer My Heart To You

We are all walking wounded.

We have all been hurt. We have all been rejected. We have all offered our hearts only to have them thrust back into our faces.

Why would we continue to offer what no one seems to want? Why would we want to keep risking when we seem to receive so much hurt in return? 

Why would we continue to make ourselves vulnerable, holding out our hearts in cupped hands, when so often the result is more bruising, more cuts, more places that will not heal?


Because this is what God did.
Yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son...
This. This is why.

God continually offers Himself to us. He offers us His heart.

God continues to offer what we don't seem to want. He risks Himself and often receives hurt from us in return. He continues to make Himself vulnerable, holding out His heart to us while we simply thrust it back into His face.

While we were still sinners. When we were God's enemies.

That was when He offered up His heart in the form of His Son.

And that is why we continue to offer our own hearts, to make ourselves vulnerable so that we can form the sort of community that demonstrates to the piece of world around us the immense and vulnerable way that God loves.

art credit: painting of Christ Crucified by Velazquez


Clasping Gold Instead of Gold Stars

It is a difficult and forever-long process, this learning how to make everything sacred

It is also beautifully rewarding.

Learning how to make all things in your life sacred takes focus. It takes the sort of focus that teaches me how to be single-hearted towards God.

She is good at being very focused and single-minded, my youngest. Especially when she needs something.

The dreaded event of all mothers everywhere, her special lovey simply had to be washed at bedtime one night. My littlest couldn't understand why she didn't have her bunny at bedtime.

"Bunny?" "Bunny is taking a bath, darling. I will bring you Bunny as soon as she is dry." "O-hay."

"Can I read you a bedtime story?" "Bunny?" "Bunny is taking a bath." "Bass? Bunny?" "Yes, a bath. I'll bring you Bunny when she is done." "O-hay."

"Let's talk about our day, shall we?" "Mommy? Bunny?"

 I sigh in frustration, yet feel a small stir in my heart. 

What if I were that focused in my pursuit of God, my pursuit of making all things in my life meaningful?

What if I, too, blocked out more of the mindless stories I read and meaningless discussions I have online in order to pursue God? What would that even look like?
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You. ~ Isaiah 26.3

I read about a mother and daughter on a trip together through the world. The mother speaks of a friend who accomplishes a marvelous amount of things during a day. 
What's allowed her to realize her dream where so many others fail, including me for many years, is how carefully and sanely she chooses exactly where to spend her time and energy...Kristin's life illustrates that it takes more than passion and a lot of work to make a dream work--it takes focus. What you think about matters, a lot. Your thoughts drive your actions.
The mother continues to talk about the myriad of women who choose to please others, to accommodate others, rather than choosing to stand up for themselves and their families.

She says that many of us choose to be "good girls going for gold stars, instead of clasping tight the gold of our lives by living as we truly desire."

This has the scent of truth that makes me pause. If I substitute "living as God desires", this touches something deep in my heart. 

How many times have I said "yes" to an activity, to a time commitment, even to a service opportunity, simply to please someone else or to create a certain image of myself? 

So many times those "yeses" have cost me and my family. They have kept me from clasping tight the gold of obeying God's desire that I should, for this season, focus most on these little disciples running around my feet.

I want desperately to be single-hearted. I desire to chase after God, to pursue and focus on only what He has called me to do rather than to fritter away my moments on activities that attempt to please others.

What does this look like? How do you do this in your own life? How do you carefully and sanely choose exactly where to spend your time and energy? 

Do you have a goal, a purpose or mission statement for your family? Do you have a lens through which you filter every request, every moment's choice? 

The mother in my book says that "change happens in the small moments, when a sliver of light finds its way through the cracks". 

To help herself to focus, she "wrote down every single thing I did in fifteen-minute increments for three entire weeks...I asked myself a thousand times a day before acting - and, miraculously, speaking - What am I creating with this choice right now?"

I want to see everything around me as sacred, to be single-minded in pursuing God and His desires for me. I want to choose with intention rather than feelings, excuses, or circumstances. I want to please God rather than man.

I want to clasp tight the gold instead of aimlessly grasping for gold stars.


Losing My Temper Again

Her eyes begin to flood, her hands creep up to cover her open mouth, and her body caves in on itself, trying to hide from the world around her.

My eyes narrow, my hands clench into tight balls of anger, and my body tenses up as if ready for battle.

By this sixth meltdown of the day, occurring because we took a different route home from the game, my heart is weary and my patience is gone.

My voice is low but harsh as I demand that she stop fussing and quit crying, and I spit at her to just be quiet if she can't be happy.

Hurt radiates from her eyes as her sobs get even louder. Guilt pierces my heart as I once again realize that I lost my temper because I didn't want to deal with her. Hard truth: She was inconvenient to me.

I remember that she hasn't had much sleep because her sister just moved into her bed to make room for Baby. I remember that she is struggling with a new sport and feels afraid of too many kids all crowded around the same object. I remember that she is only four and that if I sometimes have irrational meltdowns, perhaps she is allowed a few as well.

This feels like my moment-by-moment cycle: I forget, I am harsh to those I love, I remember, I am guilty. 

I now speak harshly to myself, trying to will myself into perfection, into loving without fail. This always fails. I am not perfect and my will is not strong enough.


I am loved by One Who is pouring more than I could even imagine into the lives of my husband and children.

I and my family are loved by One Who loves us enough to call us His children

We are loved by One Who, before the world was even made, loved each one of us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault. 

I am loved by One Who can make up for all of my mistakes, Who tells me that His power is made perfect in my weakness, Who reassures me that His grace is sufficient. (II Cor 12.9)

My strength is not sufficient to calm my temper.

My will is not sufficient for me to love my loved ones perfectly.

My fierce desire is not sufficient to force my little ones' hearts into a state of loving God and each other.

His grace. This is sufficient. 

I am struck with relief and gratitude, and so I sing. 

He is good when there is nothing good in me. 

He is love, when I am not, on display for all to see. 

He is my hope because He has covered all my sin. 

He is true even in my wandering.

I run to His arms and allow His power to be made perfect in my weakness. I trust all of our hearts to His love.

(song adapted from Forever Reign by Hillsong)


Slinging Mashed Potatoes

My eldest has had trouble loving her sister lately.

When she gets angry, even if it is with herself, her first instinct is to lash out and hurt Little Sister. We've been working on this, trying to teach her other ways of expressing her anger, but it is a long and difficult road. She seems to lose all common sense when her emotions run high.

Sadly, this reminds me all too much of the adults in our country this time of year.

Ah, election season.

Time for everyone to lose logic and common sense and to begin slinging hateful words around like mashed potatoes in a junior high camp cafeteria.

I have been wondering how we got to this place. How did we get to the place where it seems impossible to have a compassionate discussion of ideas?

In my most recent Mars Hill Audio Journal, it was suggested that this has become part of our culture because of the direction that our public schools have taken.  When we emphasize math and science to the exclusion of teaching ethics and civics and philosophy, our citizens grow up without knowing about logic, without knowing how to follow an idea through to its logical conclusion.

Here is a clip of one of my favorite authors, N.T. Wright, speaking about the problem that we don't even have the debate but rather have bits and pieces of a shouting match (if you are viewing this via email/in a reader, click here to view this video):


I can see, having been a teacher myself, how cutting logic and philosophy out of schools would appeal. It is much easier to control the flow of ideas than to teach people to think for themselves. (I am not proposing that this has been a deliberate conspiracy against free thinking in our country, rather that this has been the unintended consequence of placing a higher value on sciences than humanities. It simply helps the cause that the things that are cut out are subjects that tend to make governing more difficult.)

As I thought about how we got to this place, though, and as I listened to respected leaders speak about this issue, I realized that this is not a new problem, this problem of not teaching young people to think for themselves, of not teaching children how to think logically about an idea and spot the fallacies contained within.

In the 14th century, John Wycliffe was one of the first advocates for translating the Bible from Latin, a language that only priests and rulers could read, into the common language, accessible to all. The leaders of his day violently opposed him, wanting to keep the power of ideas to themselves. Wycliffe's opponents cried out, "The jewel of the clergy has become the toy of the laity". In the end, Wycliffe was declared to be a heretic and his body was exhumed and burned, and the ashes were scattered.

As much as I would like to swell with indignation at the thought of trying to control ideas, if I am honest with myself, I can relate. It is difficult for me to trust my own children. I want to control the flow of ideas, to control what they know and understand. This would be much easier than teaching them to think critically and then dealing with the inevitable hard questions that will come.

Thankfully, I know better. God has instructed me to trust. Not other people, but Him. I must trust His Spirit inside my children.

So I will continually ask for help in relinquishing control. I will trust my girls to the care of God's Spirit and trust that He will show them what is good.

As for our country, our election season, let us be the first to use logic and common sense, to show compassion to those with whom we disagree, and trust in God's plan and His Spirit working rather than taking the easier route of slinging mashed potatoes all over their faces.

Art Credits: Vote photo by woodsy; photos of N.T. Wright and Wycliffe stained glass from Wikipedia images