Monday, March 20, 2017

bossy love.

Sit in your seat
Chew up your meat
Just hands on the table and not your feet.

Wipe what is sticky
Eat, though you’re picky
If you take a bite you can say it was icky.

Don’t flick boogers on that lady
Or eat the candy you found that's so shady
(I mean, at least brush off the dirt and then…maybe.)

One butt at a time for privacy
But make haste, this porcelain isn’t your dynasty
And don’t pick up your poop up for all to see!

When a mitten’s lost I can hear your cries
But just look with your eyes
It’s right in front of your face - damn it – surprise.

No shoes on the couch
No chewed gum in the pouch
Of my favorite purse, its cost was no slouch.

Run but don’t slip
Pour but don’t drip
I’m sorry I’m such a hovering trip.

Don’t push, bite, or scratch
Or do - while I pour wine down my hatch
You’re identical twins, you’ve met your match.

And I’ve met mine too
Since the two of you grew
From the tiniest shock to make me brand new.

It seems like yesterday you both fit on my chest
And our daily accomplishment was just getting dressed
I remember tired beyond tired, trying to feel blessed.

These days I grin while you put on your pants
Either backwards with a dance
Or inside out with a prance.

You’re three now and tall
Running, biking, kicking balls
Climbing, hugging, and snuggling us all.

I’m much better for your noise and your laughter
And our messy house a whirlwind disaster

Being your mom makes me a better person and pastor.


Friday, March 10, 2017

life and choice.

Trigger Warning: Pastor who swears, loves, fights, lives, and chooses with all she's got. Like a woman.

We are failing women's bodies
when 97% of rapists evade conviction
responsibility
accountability
remorse
tranformation,
leaving her to heal without justice.

We are failing women's bodies
when children's clothing stores insist
we cover little girls in sparkles and unicorns
limiting their imaginations and power
to pretty and nice.

We are failing women's bodies
when we teach college freshmen
how to avoid getting raped
instead of teaching college freshmen
do not rape.

We are failing women's bodies
when we mansplain the real problem
dismiss her experience
silence her voice
regulate her body
as though she is not fully human
and super human.

We are failing women's bodies when
the uterus is a pre-existing condition
and we elect a Congressman who doesn't understand
why men should also be covered for prenatal care.

Maybe he should ask his mom.
You know.
The one who carried him to term
while his male genitalia developed
in utero.

We are failing women's bodies
when we treat them like an operational loss.
No, we are people-bearing-power-houses.
Prenatal care is human care.
And if we all come from this care it should be
affordable
accessible
really fucking good.

We fail women's bodies
when we act like women get themselves knocked up
when we assume that housing a fertilized egg
is just a lady problem.
It confirms we are too often on our own

responsible for what is
unseen
inconvenient
messy
pro-bono
dark matter parenting

but that does not mean we are
insignificant
less valuable
more on the hook
in need of micro-management.

We go rogue every day
refilling our birth control prescriptions on time
paying out of pocket for health supplies
hoarding vacation days for maternity leave
pumping in closets at work
applying makeup in the daycare parking lot
getting laid off if we miss one more day with a sick kid.

We are failing women's bodies
when we assume
she wants to be a mother
she can get pregnant
she can stay pregnant
she needs our two cents
before making a profound and personal decision.

We are failing women's bodies
when we are foolish enough to think
pro-life is a stance for the unborn alone and
pro-choice a godless apathy.

We are failing women's bodies
until pro-life also fully considers
refugees
immigrants
widows
systemic racism
veterans
poverty
education
mental health
incarceration
hunger
homelessness.

Feminine human life
cannot
will not
be categorized or set aside
from the rest of human life.

Pro-life begins when we stop making the choice
to fail women's bodies,
instead hearing the decisions she must make
in a system that does not honor her deepest
strength
sacrifice
power
suffering
grace
truth
life.

We are failing women's bodies.
And yet she refuses failure
with her beautiful life and her gutsy choice
every single day.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

the evidence.


In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, I will dedicate my March posts to a few ways I reject the cultural pressures I experience as a white married middle-class working mother. Lord knows there are countless other pressures that I don't deal with personally because of these categories, so I will spend time reading and learning about women from other perspectives this month, too.

For the Post-Partum Bodies
When Jasper was born I decided to give up saying negative things about my body. I didn't want him to hear me disparage myself because I have the unique opportunity to define feminine beauty for him early on. If he sees me treating my figure with respect and using it as a vehicle for movement and life, he will believe it's wonderful too. If he hears me saying kind things about other bodies, maybe he will learn to do the same.

It was painfully hard work at first. I noticed how often I thought ill of myself or had to bite my tongue. But six years later, I have brainwashed myself into thinking I look amazing 99% of the time. Refraining from speaking ill of my body caused my self-critical thoughts to get bored and, at some point, they gave up trying to make me miserable in my own skin. It's changed my relationship with the parts of me that were affected by the trauma of rape and recovery so many years ago. Now this lack of self-judgment can be a gift to my girls, too.

I pulled back the shower curtain this morning and one of my daughters was standing there looking at me. While she examined me slowly, I rejected the urge to cover up and shoo her away. I want her to see me standing up straight. I want her to know that the mother of three small children can carry her body with pride and love and confidence, even if she's several pounds heavier than her glory days weight.

"Do you remember where you lived, Solveig?" She came close to me and put her hand on the lower left portion of my torso, her home for 38 weeks. "That's where my tummy got really big to make room for you to curl up in there. And then, after you were born, it got smaller but stayed soft so you can lie your head down whenever you need to snuggle."

Carrying and delivering and nursing my children has been my greatest power as a woman. How strange, then, that society pressures women to lose every pound and become firm again as if nothing ever happened. We're conditioned to shred the evidence of miracles and ferocity. My soft core isn't a symbol of weakness or something to sweat away - it is a tribute to my strength and life and three unforgettable chapters. So I reject the narrative that says I should want the body I had at 28 because my body at 35 tells a much better story - even Solveig can see that. We are not postpartum bodies until we lose the weight or find our abs again. We are forever changed by these events in ways our bodies want to remember. And call me crazy, but I think it's okay if they look like they remember.

For the postpartum bodies out there:
You are lovely and strong. Your flesh and curves tell the story of your deepest power. May your shape be a vehicle for movement and life (soccer and Cheetos!) so that your children can witness your joy and strength as their first example of feminine beauty. For your sake and for the world, do not wish yourself away. We need you, standing up straight and being seen.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

political blessings.

Let’s get something straight about discipleship today.

There’s a cost to following Jesus. 
The gospel life declares that we will be last.
We will lose the preferred life. 
We will die into Christ.

And this is political because politics is defined as “the collective work of the people for the sake of common good”. Jesus did not come for ideas or rules or systems. He came for our breath and our heartbeats and our complicated relationships as creatures of God. He came because God's people have been enslaved time and again to earthly masters who do not do justice, love kindness, or walk humbly with God. He came to break our chains.

Discipleship is inconvenient and counter-intuitive at every turn. By design, it afflicts the Empire’s agenda, every self-serving urge, every tantalizing law disguised as the answer to justice or salvation or smug satisfaction.

I say YES to the separation of Church and State because Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are not meant to sync with the Empire, our earthly compromises, our faliable forms of power. But this does not mean that faith is apolitical, that when the gospel calls attention to the disparity between our will and God's will we should turn the volume down because it's uncomfortable.

The gospel’s politics are made for agitation. The ministry of Jesus was enough to pit religious leaders and elders against his call for mercy and justice that is rooted in the scripture they know well:

Welcome the stranger.
Care for the widow.
Let the little children come.
See and feed the ones who overwhelm or inconvenience you.
Give up your seat at the table for the ones waiting outside.

These aren’t suggestions or fables. They are a lifestyle that breeds discomfort with the status quo and builds resistance to the Empire and its worldly excuses. It was enough to silence him with crucifixion. 

Jesus reminds us that we can only serve one Master. 
We and our ancestors have a recorded habit of choosing
our safety
our success
being right
being in control
being first
being comfortable every time.

For this hot mess, Jesus came.

Friends, if you feel torn apart by this political season, this test of patriotism, this paranoid shouting match between alt-right and reality, between left and right, between America and the world, it’s because you are, not just neighbor from neighbor, but within your own self.

You have ears for the Empire and ears for the gospel
            and it tears you apart.
You have an allegiance to saving yourself and redemption in Christ
            and it tears you apart.
You have faith in fear and faith in the one who says, “Do not fear”
            and it tears you apart.

So let’s get something straight about discipleship today.

There’s a cost. Our relationship between Empire and Heaven is messy and political and exhausting and it’s supposed to be. 

Do not be confused about the task at hand. The Empire will tempt you to believe that discipleship requires your piety, your perfection, your resolute strength all day long. But the gospel needs your vulnerability, your honesty, your weakness, your compassion, and your trust in the Holy Spirit to hold us together as the body of Christ as it has for thousands of years. Where to begin?

·      Acknowledge the many comforts the Empire gives you, always in exchange for your quiet compliance with the world.
·      Confess the ways you receive these gifts, convinced that you need them and deserve them and earned them, no matter how they pit you against the neighbor and stranger.
·      Craft a way to use these privileged gifts beyond yourself for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the world turned upside down by Jesus, who wakes you up and tears you from chains, offering something more beautiful and courageous to do with your life.

There is nothing convenient or tranquil about the Beatitudes. It is a radical secret told to a few who gathered on the mountain, high above the Empire to hear the truth: God’s justice will not be trampled by fake news, fear mongering, noisy politicians, or the test of time. Christ has come to invert blessing and joy and power for the sake of those forgotten, refused, belittled, threatened, and destroyed by the powers of this world.

We cannot set this necessary and risky goodness apart from politics, the collective work of the people for the sake of common good, for the gospel does not bow at lines set by the Empire.  No, it has come and will come until we have been torn apart from everything that separates us from the love and justice of God.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.  Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:  "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.  "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.  "Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.  "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.  "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

This is how fiercely we are loved. We have been saved and we are still being saved and we will forever be saved by news that is costly and death that is broken and work that agitates the cozy, sanitized illusions of our faith.

You see, the gospel is political because it is what the people need.
It is everything the Empire is unwilling to risk.

So take the secret down the mountain, friends.
Tell the world what it means to be torn apart for the sake of God's love and justice.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

oil.


"Anointed on Wednesdays"

We mix lavender with a jar from the top shelf
in the old kitchen cupboard,
cooking oil made holy and wonderful with strong scent.
Sometimes we laugh into this ordinary mystery
while the bowl is passed around.
We say the words
moving our fingers over the temples of strangers and friends –
up and down, side to side.
Sure, it is just oil.
But the minutes are sacred since
we stand so close together,
seeing each other with truth and courage
speaking the ancient recipe for relief and belonging:
You are a beloved child of God.
If you are standing near Linda
you hold the bowl for her, too;
if you are with Johnny
you offer your eyes and gently guide his hand to another.
There is no rush.
We are not more or better anointed when this is accomplished easily
so we move the gift about with openness and wonder.
Her eyelashes flutter because it is good news.
He holds your gaze because he needs it.
Then you pass the bowl with anticipation
for your turn
because after all these years
there is a rush to this claim on your life.
When you notice its shine in the mirror that night

you are glad to be chosen beyond yourself.