Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"love you aunt gwace"

when i was in junior high, my name was such an embarassment. not because it was dorky, but rather because everytime anyone read a bible verse with the word 'grace' in it, i'd get elbowed and people would start snickering. unfortunately for 7th grade me, we memorized just about every mercy-filled passage in the bible. when i hit about 17, my name wasn't so bad. thankfully the laughter disappeared (along with my huge purple glasses), and i began to appreciate my unique name. it had yet to become 'hip' again, and i was one of very few grace's i knew of. when i hit twenty i realized another change my namesake presented...the Nickname. Now, my family has always called me gracey, but when my friends started tacking on the "ey", i realized that like it or not, it was bound to happen. there is just one person who i LOVE to hear 'gracey' from, and thats my nieces and nephews. to them, im aunt gracey and thats just fine with me.

a few months not too long ago, my three year old nephew benny (the cutie above), was going down for a nap. somehow, whenever i put him down for a nap, he immediately goes down without a fuss. his mom insists that he never does this at home, so im not really sure what kind of effect i have on the little guy (it could be my bossy voice), but he just grabs his blankie and snuggles down to sleep. this happens pretty regularly if i am watching him, but occasionally even the bossy voice doesnt cut it.
this particular day, i had put benny down in the twin bed in our guestroom, and the bed was about four times the size of him. i handed him his blankie and doggie and told him 'night night". well he looked at me with those huge blue eyes...and burst into tears. and when i say "tears', i mean the floodgates opened. i dont even know how he manuafactured so many tears, but the waterworks were kindof convincing. out came the 'bossy voice" and i told him again to go to sleep, and he just kept on crying. about ten minutes go by, and now he is a little upset, i am frustrated, and we are both slightly damp.
so i set him down on the bed, and since he's worn out and now REALLY tired, he snuggles down and does that really cute little sniffle thing that little ones do when they have been crying hard. and i turned out the light and went to leave, when i hear his little voice.

Love you, aunt gwace.

oh man. anyone who has ever heard a three year old's lisp combined with the words "i love you" knows their power. i went over and kissed him goodnight, and he fell right asleep. he had never called me aunt grace before. it was always gwacey or grace, when he could get the R sound right. and it struck me that our names hold such significance. look at isaiah 43:1"But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel:"Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.

I've called your name. "

just like benny called my name, God calls us by name. and our response can be one of two things...we can fight it, or we can listen, ears inclined to the God who knows our name. and still i fight it, you know? i act like my timetable or my priorities are something God maybe has forgotten. i was worrying about something the other day, and my friend drew quickly reproached me with "Do you not serve a sovereign God?" Yea. I do. and He knows my name.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

a place at the table

i talked to my sister last week, and as usual, she was cooking dinner, and changing a diaper and whispering so she didnt interrupt a long-awaited nap. usually it goes something like this: "oh hey grace, whats up? we havent talked in awh-hold on a sec okay? timmy just woke up from his nap...oh okay now i'm back...sorry, im trying to plan a barbeque..we are having friends for dinner..oh wait, now we are having twelve people for dinner...how'd that happen..." i love it. know why? cause with every runny nose she grabs a kleenex for, for every blankie she rescues off the floor, for every person she invites to her home...she is giving. she is probably the most hospitable person i know. her door is always open. her table never too full. not only that, my sister loves the unlovable and lovable alike. she loves her neighbors kids, who are hurting and alone, and who need a place to feel safe. she loves her home group, and has stood by her girlfriends as they have miscarried babies and sent husbands to iraq. she loves anyone who walks through her door.
rob bell says that "in philippians, it says look to the interest of others. subtle in nuance. others. its not look to the interests of those, its not look to those who are in your demographic. its not look to the interests of people we hang with, and its kinda fun to serve them. its others.
its all sorts of people. and essentially, the flow of the argument is, the one soul, one mind..you will encounter this when you serve others. if God is a trinity where one unit is a whole then you, my friends, need to be a whole. mimic this by orienting yourself around others. what paul is getting at (in phillipians), is the others are the strange, the different, the unintelligable. and some of you are thinking "oh yeah..strange...they have a name! three cubicles down!". but paul is saying is do you want to understand Gods love? Gods grace? do you want to truly understand what it means for God to envelop you with his grace, peace, forgiveness, truth and light? then orient yourself around the strange, the unintelligable, the coworker, the relative...circle around them. and in your frustration of trying to serve them well, you will see the meaning of what it means for God to love you in all your strangeness. the person who MOST gets under your skin..they may be the garment of Gods grace that is coming to you to bring you more fully into the love of God. if i could learn to take one step towards that, it will be a step into understanding what it means to be loved by God. if i could learn, maybe i would come to understand the God who loves me in spite of my flaws."
i want to open up my home. to open my heart.
to the unlovable.
to the strange.
to the unintelligable.
to the others.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

most comforting...

'the most comforting thing about my faith...is I dont understand it."-drew aspinwall

Friday, June 13, 2008

conviction hurts

God likes to speak in ways that sometimes creep under my skin until I have no choice but to bleed out what little truth He is trying to convey. Like my friend Will just wrote a great blog about how he finds his self worth in people, and the "stamp" that they place on him, either "youre worth my time" or "youre not". He's totally right. I do it too.
I organize my oft-chaotic life around who I want to hang out with, people I want to avoid, and things I have to do. I. I. I. Did you notice how many times I said that? Its always about me.
God's been working hard on convicting my little heart lately. Wanna know what He's been saying?

You. Are. Selfish.


Truth hurts huh. But truth rings true even when there is no audience. I love to dig my little heels in and, like CS Lewis says, continue "playing with mud pies" when paradise beckons from just around the corner. It dawns on me daily how absolutely depraved I am...how much in need of Gods unbelievable grace I am. I am tired of settling for a mediocre faith. I dont think God is placated with a so-so faith, like we can just be "good enough" and slide on by. I think God yearns for a ultimate faith, the kind that would be willing to be stretched until it hurts.

I want THAT.

Brandon Heath, one of my favorite singers wrote a new single called "Give me Your eyes", and I love it. It says "Give me Your eyes for just one second, Give me your eyes so I can see/Everything that Ive been missing, Give me your heart for humanity". Can you imagine what it would be like to have eyes like the Father's? To feel such compassion for others, for humanity, that it just overflows? I see so many hurting people at my job.
Lately God has been revealing some incredible things in the little medical office I work at.

I looked into the eyes of a woman whose eyes flooded with tears borne from a pain of a divorce.

I see parents who told me they spent the day in the welfare line.

I see girls whose eyes, thick with black eyeliner, tell a story full of hurt, abuse, and sadness.

Every day I have to chance to take fifteen minutes and be Love. To reach out with my stupid blood pressure cuff, and offer hope in the touch that I just pray bleeds love. But the truth is, Ill never be enough of Love, enough salt enough Light, without Christ. Because Im selfish! So I pray...

Give me Your eyes, Lord.