Friday, November 23, 2007


Sometimes I wonder if this is all a practical joke. Or simply a fairy tale. If we invented God - a god - just so life would make more sense. Funny, it really doesn't mean things make much more sense most of the time. So that theory isn't quite reliable.

But still, sometimes I wonder.

As Conor and I drove home from our Thanksgiving dinner, I found myself at a crossroads. Sellers was merrily chatting in the backseat, and it just hit me: I'm either going to believe this stuff or I'm not. God, either You exist and I can't figure You out and I'm really, really mad - or this is totally a hoax. Can you seriously tell someone they don't exist? What's the point of saying it at all?

I know I'm not alone. I'm one of a million people out there - and that's just this second - who are suffering. Angry. Hurting. Shattered. Heartbroken. Confused.

There are millions - millions - of people in India who spend each day defined by a caste system that their government long ago declared unjust and antiquated. These people - men, women, children - are called Dalits. Untouchables. Literally. Their children are unable to dip water from the local wells because their sweet, innocent hands are considered unclean. And yet, as I type, more and more of these precious people are hearing about Jesus and deciding to follow Him. Why do they believe? Why do they sing His praises, even as they suffer?

It's hard to wrestle with God. Somehow it feels wrong. I find I get quite hung up on "wrong" and "right." And really, that's what makes me angry. As long as it's all about the rules, life's just going to be one long irritation. There has to be more.

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." I want to follow that Jesus. The One who says to me, "Just as you are... come to Me. I know how to handle it. Bring Me everything." Maybe it's not so much about 'rules'. Maybe it's about the best plan - the Way to get the most out of life.

In John 8, Jesus is teaching in the Temple and a group of religious men bring before Him a woman who has been caught having an affair. As the Message says, "They stood her in plain sight of everyone." Imagine this girl. Her embarassment, her anguish, her shame. The leaders who drag her to stand before the crowd suggest to Jesus that Moses' law - the rules - call for her to be stoned. Stoning might have been something this woman had seen before. Bloody. Merciless. Brutal. I can see her eyes filled with fear, blinking back the tears, cast downward. As Jesus listens, He does something peculiar. He kneels down and writes in the sand. For a while. The Bible says that the leaders "kept badgering Him." Maybe He looked up at her downcast eyes before He stood and said, "The sinless one among you, go first. Throw the stone." And with that, He goes back to the dirt. Perhaps it took some time, some grumbling, some irritable huffs of indignation, but eventually, they leave her. Every one of them. The oldest ones go first. And then it's just the girl. And Jesus. Sweet Jesus. How must she have felt? How in love was she then? "Woman, does no one condemn you?" He hadn't looked up. He wasn't watching. She was no spectacle to Him. "No one, Master." "Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, don't sin." Imagine her heart thumping, her eyes brightening, her tears welling up - but this time, for victory, for life. "Master." She is His. He is hers. She knew the 'rules'. But now, now she knows the Savior - she knows that she is accepted and loved. Now she calls Him "Master." Now, she chooses life. And we, like her, can choose it, too - because no matter how we stumble, we will continue to find life in His eyes.

This is Jesus. This is why I love Him. Because I know I am loved. And because of that love, that love that is deeper and higher and wider than any other love I will ever find, I want to be different. I want to believe. I want to rest, despite my unrest. I want to surrender, despite my need for control. I want to honor Him, despite my desire to please myself. I want to be and do everything I can't be or do on my own. This is the Jesus I want to follow. This is the Jesus I want to show people.

And this is the Jesus that the millions who suffer on this planet choose, time and time again. The Jesus who gives us strength to walk through seasons of life that call for our total destruction. The Jesus who equips us to love those who reject and abuse us. The Jesus who sees potential and ability in our weaknesses. The Jesus who invites the questions, the anger, the frustration, the tears, the sorrow, the heartache. "Come to Me..."

And so I come. I am a seeker of hope. I thirst for joy and happiness and laughter and peace and something - something that feels like lightness and promise. And if what I have believed of this Man does not help me to piece together the broken parts of my story - well, then, there is more to believe.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007


As I type, I sit in a kitchen I've known for years, with people who've known me since the day I was born. There is a wonderful comfort in it, a sense of belonging and value and feeling like you fit, even though often I realize my experiences cast me in a separate mold that certainly has its own form and shape. It's easy to compare yourself and feel like no one understands; easy, because it's true. But the challenge is in knowing it and still, still leaning out for that warmth and familiarity in what you do have in common with those you love. Sometimes that commonality is as simple and deep as bloodlines. I am thankful I can look around this room and call these people, not only in love but in reality, family.

So the trip to Texas has gone well. I suspected it might, suspected I'd be glad I came and thankful to be surrounded by these faces. The first few days were filled with busyness; the world was new and fresh, not being the one I stomp around in most days, and distracting. There was laughter and lots of deep talks and even a ride on horseback for me, which basically equated to feeling like a part of me was living that hadn't in a long, long time. I started riding when I was five; I was never that great, but I did find a sense of freedom and joy in it that little else could match. Having been away from it for several years, it was refreshing and vitalizing to be "back in the saddle." Indeed, just what I needed.

I am now in the tiny West Texas town my mom grew up in, a town that feels as timeless and constant to me as almost any place on Earth. I have come here every single summer - and sometimes, Christmases - of my life and very little has changed. There's something deeply calming about that. This would be a place that Copeland would have come to know, too, and I find my heart aching in new ways knowing I'll never get to share it with her. Still, what makes it beautiful is simply a small part of where she is already.

I don't remember ever having come here in the fall, and as I walked alone down the highway towards my grandfather's grave in the local cemetery, I was pleasantly suprised to see tufts of white scattered every few feet: cotton. The fields have only just been stripped and what remains of the little snow-colored plants drifts out onto the road with the wind, catching on brambles and rocks. I had cotton bolls in my bouquet when Conor and I were married and of course I've known that they are inherently a part of my history and, thus, a part of me, but I'd never really seen the stuff or touched it before. Walking along the highway I held some in my hands and marveled at how soft it is, even straight out of the ground. The wind was particularly fierce that afternoon and as I approached the cemetery I thought of Copeland as I held that cotton in my palm - how its sweet, soft warmth would be cast off the moment I let it go, just as she was. Only with her, I didn't let go. My hands were wrenched open.

I stood in front of my grandfather's grave and felt a sort of comfort in knowing he is with her, that although she has been carried off she is not alone. I let the cotton go, just to see what happened - to see how far the wind would carry it. It flew from my hand and caught, about ten feet away, on the ground - and stuck. The dramatic image was skewed a bit... I had almost hoped it would sail away like some red balloon until I couldn't see it any longer.

I write all of this in the midst of yet another season in the grief. It's pressing in, the weight of it, and I wondered last night if perhaps that's because I'm ready for it to. Maybe I can bear it more than I could've a few weeks ago. I can only hope that I, too, will be carried.

My heart aches for those who've gone before me on this path - those who know the ache and agony of losing someone they never really got to know. And my heart aches for those who are walking behind, who have yet to tread here, where I am. Pray for them. Pray that they will be reminded that what has come from God is good, that what has returned to Him is blessed, and that the time that passes until we are all together once again - well, that is as fleeting as a breath, a vapor, a gust of wind.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

jonathan edwards

I want to ask you to pray today for Jared and Kristin Edwards. They are delivering their third child, a little boy, Jonathan Jared Edwards, as I type. Jonathan also has Trisomy-18. I am assuming Kristin is still in labor - I believe she went in this morning - or perhaps, Jonathan is here. In recent communications through their own blog, we have learned that Jonathan has appeared to be under some stress in utero and Jared and Kristin were apprehensive that he might not make it through birth. We are praying that that did not happen and that they were able to enjoy some time with their son as Conor and I did with Copeland.

Please check in on them via their blog and send your blessings... hearing from all of you during the incredible duress of Copeland's life was an amazing encouragement to me.

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