Thursday, February 4, 2016


What makes up a person? For goodness sake! Who are we?

Today, someone asked me if I watched Fraggle Rock as a kid. We sang the theme song together, far louder than we ought to have and forgot most of the words. For a moment, I was reminded of all those little things very few people in this world know about us. The eccentricities.

If there are any basic needs in this life, beyond food, drink and shelter, perhaps it is to be known.

We all desperately want to be known - deeply, intimately, personally. And along with those things, we want to be loved for and in spite of all that we are. Secretly, we're all praying that those eccentricities are endearing, and not obnoxious.
I can't drink a cup of coffee without spilling it - sometimes on my hand, my shoes, down the front of my shirt, or better yet, the floor - without fail.  
I don't understand dancing... I don't know what to do with my hands, and through I've desperately tried to learn swing dancing, I can only keep rhythm when I'm dancing by myself. And so, sometimes, when I'm cooking, I play 40's music and rock-step all across the kitchen.  
When I was little, my family used to listen to Sunday school songs - especially Steve Green's Hide 'Em in Your Heart, so now, whenever I read a Bible verse that he turned into a song, I sing it in my head. 
I do that a lot actually... music gets stuck in my head very easily. We've starting calling it, "singing turrets." When I hear a song, or think of a song (especially when someone stops the track early) I have the irresistible compulsion to finish singing it. My brother thinks it's hilarious. 
As far as music goes, my knowledge of pop music is ridiculously limited and incredibly dated. Most of my music I've picked up here and there, sometimes from the background music of tv shows.  
I love tv shows, by the way - I'm a sucker for teen dramas, superheroes and the occasional crime show. But I'm picky about my teen dramas - I always look up the plot before I get suckered into wasting time. 
Superman is my favorite, in terms of superheroes, though I do appreciate Ironman, Captain America and Spiderman. For the most part, I'm loyal to DC - though I've only read a total of two comic books. 
When it comes to relationships... I'm the most bizarre combination of a people-pleaser and a stick-in-the-mud you'll ever meet.  
I'm also an introvert, in case you didn't know. And while I love being around people, I feel incredibly overwhelmed at large social gatherings - so I stand in a corner and pray someone decides to talk to me. When they don't - I people watch (which can be incredibly entertaining). 
I love my friends and acquaintances beyond understanding. Sometimes, even when I'm hurt, I pretend like everything's alright, because I don't want to hurt them back - I don't want them to feel badly about themselves. 
And I desperately want people to like me.  
So... who are you? Are you known? And by who? Sometimes I feel incredibly out of step and out of place. I'm not quite sure who knows me. Maybe the very best of my friends. Maybe my parents. But I think that sometimes we hide things from our friends, for fear of losing them. And maybe our parents look at us and see the children we were through their rose-colored perspective.

As I began writing this post, verses regarding being known came to mind. I started pasting bits and pieces in, hoping to teach you what I'm learning, but once I looked up the citations, I realized just how much scripture I've absorbed over the years - I've memorized much of this psalm in parts without knowing. I never remember citations, just words.

Since the word of God is living and active - and I believe that with all my heart - I'm not going to post in part, but instead, leave you with this psalm. Because I think God speaks best for himself through his word.

Oh Creation - you are loved dearly by your Maker. You are known intimately and deeply.
Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lordyou know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit?
    Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
    If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning
    and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
    I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
    men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
    your enemies take your name in vain.[b]
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting![d]
 Psalm 139

Trust me when I say, "he knows you." He knows everything that's wonderful about you. Everything that's unique. And he most certainly knows your flaws - every ugly thought. But He's steadfast and faithful. Your flaws are not a reason for him to leave, in fact, they're all the more reason for him to draw near, and lead you into his purposes, refining you into all that you can be.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

When Children Smile

I recently had a visit from a friend, and as we caught up, she told me about something that happened at work. And let me pause for a moment to preface that this isn’t exactly a dramatic story, but perhaps, remarkable.

For much of our high school years, she could never claim to be very good with children. In fact, when we were seniors, we worked as teacher’s aids during our last two periods. I went to an elementary school – she opted for Junior High. But recently, she began working at a children’s store, and much to her surprise, the children love her.

In her work, however, she’s started taking a different approach. While the parents are technically the patrons of the store, their children are worth noticing. She’d found that when she takes time to notice and talk to the children, it makes the parents smile.

I started thinking that over – something so simple and sweet.

I’ve been a bit fixated on where good works fit into the Christian life recently – what kind of importance and weight do they hold?

I want to point out a passage from Matthew 25 to you. Because – oh my word – her work story melted my heart is the best sort of way. 
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
I suppose that in many ways, the proof is in the pudding: if you truly are in relationship with God, it ought to be evidenced in your life. And if you love the Father, do you let that love overflow to the people around you? When we are kind to God’s children – the people he created – that makes him smile. It’s no different from those families in the store.

That’s why we do good works. It’s not about winning brownie points. It’s not about salvation. And it’s certainly not about our own vanity. It’s all about the Father, because this is what brings him joy. Since God so loved us, what better way to love him back than to make his children smile?