The Foolishness of Creativity

When I was in elementary school I had a teacher who gave us the gifts of calligraphy and poetry. He wore a Mr. Rogers cardigan and wasn’t even one of our regular teachers, but for some reason we spent long portions of our days in his classroom where we learned how to put the nibs in our pens and hear the rhythm in a poem. He opened the world of goodness and truth and beauty to me, in thick books and papers dripped with India ink. He was such a fantastic man that I even bought him a Christmas gift.

Around this time I was inspired to send some of my poetry to a magazine, with a note assuring them there was “more where that came from” should they have a deficit of simple rhymes. I never heard back from them. 

But that’s not the painful part of this memory. 

Continue reading at Fathom Mag.

Fear Less

   

 

Fear

 

**I pulled this post up from the archives and edited it a little, because it seemed the perfect thing to share. Tim and I are heading to India again, and just when I think I've battled down all the "what-ifs", one rears its head again. 

If my brain and time allows, I'll share more about our trip before we leave. Will you pray for this trip? Will you please pray for our children while we're gone? And pray that God overcomes mightily in this work. **

 

 

I stood up when he called my name because I knew it was a good time to die.

I didn't feel anything particular on my heart, nothing profound to share and no life-altering wisdom to add. I just knew that I needed to be stretched and uncomfortable and that the stage was the perfect place for this death.

My husband had asked me if there was anything I'd like to share with the brothers and sisters before he taught. I stood, the only American woman in the room, and choked out something about encouragement and prayers and a thank you.

And I didn't die. (Sorry for the drama.)

Sometimes I put myself in uncomfortable places. On purpose.

Other times, most of the time,  I hide in down comforters of self-protection and fear, because someone might laugh or I might trip over my tongue or forget everything I was going to say.

Or, I could just fail.  And that's almost like dying, isn't it?

Fear is a lying enemy when it keeps us from being uncomfortable. Fear is a chain and it's weight is heavy, making us slow to move when the Holy Spirit might be quickening us.

Fear is a comfortable enabler when it keeps us from doing what is scary-but-good.

There are moments when a pounding heart keeps us from speaking, when common sense keeps us from acting. Moments that pass and no one even knows we were cowards, but we know.

When John says that perfect love cast out fear (1 John 4:18), he means the  fear of judgement, of death and punishment. He doesn't mean that nothing will ever be scary for us - a safe life is not for the children of God.

There are other  moments, longer ones, where fear is defeated over days and months and the years can be tallied up to show you are overcoming. You win the battle over time with a long obedience when you defeat fear day-in-and-day out.

I understand the fear of man all to well. I overcome it sometimes, a momentary bout of fearing less rather than being fearless. When I choose to do it anyway, to do something inspite of fear instead of doing it because of fear, I think I get just a little bit stronger.

But more often than not I give in to fear. I stay safe and comfortable, and I know I don't thwart God's plans but maybe He saddens a little as He, once again, chooses someone else.

That saying, "God won't give you more than you can handle", that's not in the Bible.  If I'm only doing the things that I can handle, what a tiny life I'm living. What a bummer that God doesn't have room to be awesome in my safe-and-comfortable life.

If I'm never out-on-a-limb, clinging-for-dear-life, maybe-I'm-crazy scared, I probably don't need God all that much and I'm probably not going to see His mighty hand. Probably not going to need His rescuing or His refuge, because I've got this under control.

Those are all big thoughts for a woman who rarely leaves her home and who doesn't have much to say in real-life-spoken-words.

Old typewriter

I'm over my head everyday if I think about it, though.

I homeschool my four children and that's more than I can handle. I aim to disciple these four, knowing how I fail and how much I need discipling myself, and do I really think I can accomplish that on my own?

I introduce my introverted-and-selfish-self to new people because it's hard for me. And that might be easy to someone else, the natural and obvious thing to do. But to me it's huge and I need Him.

I say yes to things that freak me out, like prison evangelism and teaching women in another country. Like writing words that may be laughable or worthy of scorn and then hitting "publish" so the whole world can see them.

Sometimes the best remedy for fear is to say yes before you give yourself time to think about it.

And sometimes I attempt things that really are just my own ideas, my own desires apart from God. Sometimes fear really is your friend and might keep you from making a mistake, but failure is a good learning tool and it's o.k. to do dumb things from time to time. Really.

All my mistakes are up for redemption in His hands.

So what are you doing daily that requires God to show up? What are some big things you've committed to that scare you if you think too long about them?

Fear less. That's the victory.

 

Linking up with Grace Laced Mondays, The Mom Initiative, Soli Deo Gloria,Titus 2sdays,MercyInkThe Wellspring,Imperfect Prose, She Does Justice and  #TellHisStory

 

 

I Think We Met in Prison

Leave Hope I thought I'd be nervous.

I thought the bars and the razor wire and the concentrated mass of humanity would make my insides shake, and I thought my hands would show it and my voice would betray me.

But they didn't, and I wasn't.

I saw your little sisters there, all innocent and smooth-skinned with ponytails swinging and doe-eyes smiling. I saw them shocked when we cheered and greeted them with high-fives and hand shakes.

I saw them cry because they were the center of our attention.

I was shocked, too. And surprised when I saw your grandmas there in wheelchairs, or trudging slowly with toothless grin, gray hair all astray. With cloudy eyes squinting to see a familiar face or a fresh hope, they came last in line and headed for the bits of shade.

I may have cried.

Your moms were there, and your daughters and granddaughters. Your neighbors. I don't know what age I expected them all to be, but it was the sheer range of years that affected me first.

Then I thought for a split second that there were men there, but there were not. Women with stolen identities and shaved heads, women with huge biceps and angry eyes, women trading beauty for power were there, everywhere, but I expected that.

We gathered in the yard (and I may never say go play in the yard again) and there was division, and light battled darkness because some ladies wanted to sit and listen, to follow the rules and be respectful regardless of their tattoos and girlfriends and stereotypes, and some stood out on the fringe and ignored the program. They ignored the requests from the front to please sit down, please enjoy the speakers and the music, and please listen because God has a message for you.

We wore purple as if we were royalty and they wore prison-blue, a blanket of bruised humanity all spread around in the bleaching sun.

By the end of our time there was nothing shocking anymore. A docile lady in her 60s, with white hair and purple shirt, was surrounded by 5 or 6 girls with tattoos and shaved heads, and the smiles and conversation were as though they had just shared milk and cookies together.

Some sat in groups of 10 or 12, some were one-on-one, and God met every personality and every phobia. People with similar life experiences, similar interests, similar languages, all had a place to minister regardless of the color of their skin or hair or shirt.

Women in blue brought chairs to the tired and scorched visitors. They were concerned with our water and with the bugs in the grass and with our long trip home. They were thankful for listening ears and bolstered by messages of Hope, but this was real life to them.

"You'll be gone tomorrow, Tresta, and I'll still be here."

I want to leave Hope in the places I can't stay.

There were those who refused to listen , who crossed their arms and averted their eyes. There were those whose only purpose was to intimidate or separate or discourage, and they will always be there trying to mingle among the Hope-ful.

I saw you and I there, too. Because bars are real and man-made and all of us have chosen to be in or out of them, at one time or another.

And maybe still. Good girls and boys, all of us on the outside imprisoned by the bad girls and boys on the inside.

They live for justice or mercy or re-trial or letters to the governor or pardons or next week's program or maybe a visitor.

Some live in truth and are free, walking the hardest walk.

Some live in denial and won't cross the Nile where Egypt is purged, won't face the Promised Land because they know about the 40 years of wandering, and their eternity started already and it ain't pretty.

But you and I are there, believe me.

We want justice but need mercy and forget that He said there'd be trials and maybe someone will write the Govern-er for us, and we work for a pardon so we get ready for next week's program and then we'll visit an orphan or widow. Or prisoner.

And a run-on sentence followed by a fragment is such irony here. 

A death sentence made you free and it lasts forever. Let's not live a fragmented life or even a fragment of death.

 

 

Linking up with Grace Laced Mondays, The Mom Initiative, Soli Deo Gloria,Titus 2sdays,MercyInkThe Wellspring, Imperfect Prose and #TellHisStory