Sunday, September 21, 2008

letters from war

i found a large stack of photos in a box my mom dug out the other day. my grandma was sitting next to me as i flipped through a stack of sepia toned photos, immediately engaged by the handsome uniformed soldiers...about my age probably..but they seemed so much older. in their eyes they carried the weight of a war that i never knew. i paged through about forty five photos. windy beaches that would months later bear the blood of sons and brothers, and smiling groups of soldiers, arms draped round shoulders..the same arms that would hoist each other across battlefields and into trenches. every photo had no name. just a face. a smile. a flash of light reflected across clear, optimistic eyes. a sheen of sunlight illuminating crew-cut blond hair.
i flipped through stacks and stacks, as my mom and two aunts also laughed over old family photos, and they shared stories i had never heard before. i listened.

then i happened to glance up at my grandma.

and the stacks of photos froze in my hand.

and for a moment, i became privy to what it meant to be a war bride. i watched her eyes well up with tears. i watched her hands unfold a letter stamped 1943 and smooth the yellow paper as she read the graceful script. i felt her heartache as a i watched emotions flicker through her eyes. i felt what it must have been like to be married to a man in the service. i was humbled. and i realized that for every moment of freedom i enjoy, for all the rights that are mine....there was a man who fought for them. and there was a woman who fingered letter after letter. women who were wiping away tears of their own as they wiped runny noses and messy faces of their little ones, little ones who asked when daddy was coming home. women who said "i do" to tours of duty and lonely nights and goodbyes.

i considered all this as i watched my friend michelle in her wedding dress yesterday afternoon. beautiful and serene, holding tight to the arm of her husband, a Lance Corporal in the Marines. i listened to her say "i do" with clear confidence because she knew that no matter what, God is going to hold her together, a lesson i have watched her learn with such grace and poise, i am honored to call her my friend.
and i was thankful. that there are women who are called to the high honor of being a war bride.
the wars may have been 64 years apart, but maybe michelle will one day unfold letters and remind her granddaughter that freedom is never free.

thanks grandma.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

deliberate period.

i like tattoos. but not real ones. i like my weekly, meticulous, sharpie ones.

every monday, i take one of those amazing fine-tip sharpies and inscript my left wrist with a word, saying, or scripture, whatever the Lord is showing me that week. the past few weeks have said things like
'peace be still.'
'love is here.'

tiny bits of what God is revealing to my heart in my walking with Him.
after every word, i place a deliberate period.
because i believe that when God says hope, He means Hope.
When God says 'Peace be still' He means...Peace Be Still.
That tiny dot signifies a finality.

a close.

a moment of stillness.

i work at a physician's office, where often i meet people who question the pieces of art emblazoned on my wrist. usually they ask how long ive had it....i usually laugh and say 'oh..two hours'. then they ask what it means. but last week's was different. i heard a podcast two weeks ago that changed my life. it was from a guy named steve chalke. an ordinary man with an extraordinary message. his message is about trafficking, but more importantly..its about ending trafficking and oppression around the world. that's right. end. with a deliberate period. he shares a story about the early gladiator games..where christians would be killed for sport... did you know how they ended? one man got so disgusted at the games that he started yelling during a particularly gruesome match. and he stood up and cried 'stop in the name of Jesus...stop.'
no one heard him. so he tried louder, this time stepping down the steps of the amphitheater which held over 60.000 people. still no one heard his cry. 'stop in the name of Jesus, stop."
he walked further down...repeating his battle plea, as blood dripped onto the arena, mingled with the dust and sweat of the prisoners who were being killed. finally, he crossed the last barrier, slipped his sandal onto the arena floor and hurdled the low wall...until he stood in front of this crowd. in those days, it was common for there to be a comedy act or skit during this portion of the match, or for an additional slave to be brought forth and killed. everyone thought he was a joke. or a prisoner. so they came after him, baring swords and shields as he stood alone.

and as they killed him, with his final breath, he cried

stop. in the name of Jesus...stop.

and the theater fell silent. one man stood up and left.
then another. then another
until 60.000 people were gone.
and all that remained was one man, lying in the dust.

a deliberate period.

he ended the public gladiator games. and after his death, people stopped going. they saw it for what it was...glorified murder. but he ended it. period.
and so on my left wrist i wrote in tiny, solid letters, stop the traffik. and people started asking.
and i told them that in Mali..there is a little boy who was sold into slavery so he can harvest the cocoa beans that we purchase in our supermarkets. and that in Ethiopia, a little girl sleeps on the pavement, afraid to close her eyes because of the evil around her. and that in Thailand there are women my age who never got to be little girls at all.

steve chalke says that the christian life is like a beautiful ballet. it cant be summed up in a minute-long must be danced. what are we leaving behind? deliberate periods? until we start standing up to this will remain. he shared a simple way to combat it...stop consuming. stop leaving behind commas, which invite the next sentence of evil and oppression to march onward.
start leaving periods. stop buying chocolate thats not marked 'slave free', or 'free trade'. stop shopping at stores where slave labor is encouraged. it takes research. it takes effort. it takes hurdling that last low wall, and it mean getting closer to the swirling dust and drops of blood.

but we have to be deliberate. period. we have to dance.

Friday, September 12, 2008

i'm churched....are you?

today i found out i was chosen to be a part of a my first blog tour!

i will be reviewing my friend Matthew Paul Turner's brand new book, Churched.

i am so honored to be a part of this, and hope you will check back often to read my review and any new updates about the book! it's going to be really fun.

here's what the book is all about...

"in this first-hand account, author Matthew Paul Turner shares amusing–sometimes cringe-worthy–and poignant stories about growing up in a fundamentalist household, where even well-intentioned contemporary Christian music was proclaimed to be “of the devil.” churched is a collection of stories that detail an American boy’s experiences growing up in a culture where men weren’t allowed let their hair grow to touch their ears (“an abomination!”), women wouldn’t have been caught dead in a pair of pants (unless swimming), and the pastor couldn’t preach a sermon without a healthy dose of hellfire and brimstone. Matthew grapples with the absurdity of a Sunday School Barbie burning, the passionate annual boxing match between the pastor and Satan, and the holiness of being baptized a fifth time–while growing into a young man who, amidst the chaotic mess of religion, falls in love with Jesus."-Multnomah Books

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? I'm thrilled ;)
feel free to leave comments and feedback, and any questions!