The Quirky Faith logo sports a dandelion wish. I love dandelions. Bright and sunny. Cheerful. Stubborn and immovable. This steadfastness can be a great asset when it is grounded in good dirt.
Dandelions can grow anywhere. In tough circumstances. They are tough and resilient. I love how dandelions make my children smile. How they encourage kids to give big hearted handfuls of joy.
And the wishes! Fun and hopeful. Hope is a brilliant weapon against despair.
I love the big wide mystery of God. You don't get to know everything He is doing. But He lets us be a part of the joy of spreading the word. Part of the journey of faith is like a dandelion wish. Take a deep breath and see what happens.
"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:8
Dandilions are free, accessible to everyone and always around if you watch for them. Just like miracles. Watch for God in your life. You'll find Him.
Tendency to Research
It's a tendency of mine to research. Research quickly and thoroughly. Whenever I come across something new, I have to look it up. This wasn't any different, when I got pregnant. Within 2 hours of getting the positive test, I started researching. Researching how to add a sibling. Researching how to prepare for a new child.
Then, the worries began. And, oh boy, did they begin! I had hardly known I was pregnant for 2.5 hours before I was getting worried. How the new baby would adjust. Was I ruining my older child because she'd have to share me? Could she even comprehend having a sibling? What if her easy going happy self changed because she had a new sibling to share with her parents? There was still a risk of miscarriage, should we tell anyone? What if I had a miscarriage? What if the new baby had something wrong because I wasn't taking the stupid prenatals consistently? What if the test was a false positive?
In the span of 2.5 hours or 150 minutes, my mind was obsessed with worry. Quietly and secretly, as I wasn't sure if I could or should tell anyone yet. Except my husband, who found out and proceeded to take a nap! Only a man could found out we're expecting a baby and then fall asleep within minutes!
As a woman and mother, I feel it is my job to do the research. To worry and solve the worries. To come up with a plan for anything that may arise. To worry about hurt feelings and sibling bonds.
But, really, this is God's job.
When my daughter woke up from her nap, she cuddled in my lap and watched a favorite show. As she did this, I continued my research. Until I looked at her. Really looked at her. And I realized how perfect she was. I worried during my pregnancy with her and she ended up perfect. She is happy, kind, and fun. My oldest daughter turned out perfect as well: loving, funny, and smart.
It took me a few seconds to register this, before I stopped researching and just appreciated how blessed we are. I'm excited for this new baby, thankful for my older babies. I'm happy to give the job of worrying up to God, at least for today. Tomorrow is a new day that I will need to give up control. And everyday thereafter.
That's the Book: Micah
Last week my mama felt sick. Doubled over pain, nothing fixes it kind of sick. Tuesday morning she ended up in the hospital being prepped for an emergency appendectomy. Surgery isn't fun. Hospitals are difficult places to spend a week. The doctors who read the report and diagnosis her situation weren't doing so to be mean. They saved her life.
Micah was a prophet whose message was primarily to the leaders of Israel. The political, religious and economic leaders were breaking the rules of commerce outlined in the covenant God gave the people. As a result, the poor people were being cheated and abused. The whole country was sick. God was not impressed and sent Micah with a diagnosis. Personally I like Micah. He speaks my second language. Sarcasm.
"If a liar and deceiver comes and says, "I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' that would be just the prophet for this people!" Micah 2:11
Can't you see him? I think Micah probably got the same kind of pushback from his peers that a prophet with a message about sin would have today in Las Vegas....or on twitter. A laugh and a sneer. In Micah's day there were false prophets being paid to tell people only what they wanted to hear.
We have that too. Our society excels at distraction, at self medication, at delusion. We are not so good at the diagnosis bit. Truth is we have a pride problem. A greed problem. We've got a rebellion problem. Recognize any of these symptoms? Laziness? Cruelty? Despair? It's a sin thing.
Beware a church or blogger or author who preaches a gospel without repentance. It's like telling someone on a sinking ship there is no need to worry about life boats. You know my mom? Imagine the doctor had been afraid to tell the truth. If he had reviewed the charts, had diagnosed her condition and then handed her a pain killer with a big smile and said "Don't worry! Nothing is wrong! Those symptoms are just society making you feel bad. Cover it up, ignore it. You're good". She would have died. End of story.
Before Jesus, I can tell you I was lost, blind, drowning, shackled. Pride, bitterness, selfishness, unfaithfulness. Find any list of symptoms in the Bible, I was on it. I covered up with a to do list, with control, with food, with detached daydreams. Any sin I skipped was mostly a lack of opportunity. I am so grateful for the people who told me how to be rescued rather than trying to convince me nothing needed to change. I'm forever grateful for Jesus. The savior.
Micah also has one of my favorite prophecies about the promised Messiah. Think Baby Jesus in the manger. And consider this was heaven's darling poured out for you. His origin is from the very beginning. God had a plan.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Micah 5:2
Just following a list of rules doesn't fix the heart. Last week I attended a local Celebrate Recovery group to hear a friend give her story. (Think AA with Jesus. You can find info HERE). I was so encouraged by the kindness in the room. By the honesty and hope. A good program to move through your stuff can help. Micah didn't just address the illness of Israel. He prescribed a good rehab program.
"He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:7-8
Want me to break that down? Here are some practical things I think about as I consider this well loved verse.
How I live matters. Not because of a list of rules. Because it shows the condition of my heart. Because it greatly impacts people around me. Acting justly requires me to not cheat. To watch and address my bias. To build bridges and ask tough questions. To love whom God loves. (Hint....He loves everyone).
Where my heart lives matters. Our pastor yesterday said that in order to have God hear us we must forgive others. He said when we harbor a heart of hate or bitterness we cut ourselves off from God. It's because God is full of love and mercy and grace. So we have nothing in common with him when we hate. You want to get better? Love mercy. Cheer on the ones doing the work of forgiveness. Not the ones being vengeful. Give second chances. Smile at people in courthouses and on work crew. Give grace. Let it go.
When I go on a walk with my spouse or my kids it forces me to slow down and breathe. I listen better on a walk. Fewer distractions. Bigger perspective. Walking humbly with God means the same thing. Space to listen. It involve taking the focus off me and mine mine mine. It means less of me and more of him.
When I left the hospital after my mom's surgery I was grateful. For doctors, for hospitals, for clean water, for medication. I felt the same way when I walked out of the Celebrate Recovery meeting. Grateful. For grace, for salvation, for the cross, for forgiveness. For community and truth. I was grateful for God.
"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." Micah 7:7
Let me speak some truth today to you. If you are in pain, don't ignore it. If you look around and see your life causing grief and oppression to others, get help. Don't cover it up with sex, or medication, or food. I know it's hard to poke around and open those doors. I know it's scary and painful. But if you don't the consequences can kill you. And I know a way to get better.
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the debts of the sea." Micah 7:18-19
Such a beautiful song. Zach Williams, Chain Breaker.
Yup. Another one from the Bible Project. These are great overviews. Read it and learn. Show your friends who think the Bible has nothing to do with their lives. Show your kids.
This is my favorite weighty justice book. If you want to move your faith out of the pew and into the streets where God wants it read this book. Be warned though. Your life may change. If you want a copy from Amazon click on the book. If you see me on a regular basis, ask and you can borrow my copy.
Mom - Can I do a blog?
Well Meghan of course. What do you want to say?
I love you Jesus. Jesus you're so awesome. You're so powerful. I'm so glad you are planning a party at heaven. I'm glad you love all the people in the world. I'm so glad you are helping Dylan do her work at school. I'm glad you love mommy working at her work. I'm so glad you made the rocks and the flowers. Even the whole persons in the world. And I'm glad you made decorations for Christmas. And I hope you love us. I love you Jesus. Now I want to push the buttons.
I kinda like writing on these computers
This is fun. I love making a blog.
I want it to say I love you Jesus you're so awesome.
I think she's got the hang of it.
That's the Book: Jonah
I thought about writing this post as another bed time story to my daughters. But they already know the story of Jonah and the Whale. I think almost everyone; church goers or not; know this story.
God tells Jonah to go tell the evil people in the neighboring country of Nineveh to repent. Jonah runs away from God's request.
"The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me". But Jonah ran away from the Lord..." Jonah 1:2-3a
Jonah ends up being swallowed by a whale. Odd. But my refusels to obey what God has told me have landed me in some strange circumstances so I relate. Jonah sits through a three day time out in the belly of the whale. Jonah is deposited on a nearby beach. Fairly nasty way to survive drowning.
"And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land." Jonah 3:1-3
Jonah decides to listen to God.
"Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Ninevah and proclaim to it the message I give you. Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh." Jonah 3:1-3
The classic moral we tell our kids is to listen to God the first time and avoid great heartache.
End of Story.
Or is it?
Do you know what happens next?
The people of Ninevah listen to the prophet and repent. And then Jonah gets mad because they don't get punished.
We skip that bit in the bedtime story.
Sometimes when I read a book I flip to the end and read the last chapter and then go back and begin at the start. It drives my husband crazy. He says it ruins the suspense. But I love to know how a story ends up right from the start. I work through the book and watch the characters develop as they drive to the ending. The book of Jonah is one of the times when I think it's helpful. Try reading this book through the lens of Jonah's own confession about why he ran from God.
"When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, "Isn't this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." Jonah 3:11- 4:2
Oh my. He didn't run because of fear. He ran because He knew God would likely forgive. These people were the sworn enemies of Israel. Jonah didn't want God's grace for his enemies. So he kept the Word of the Lord to himself. Yikes.
While sitting in the belly of the whale Jonah prays to God. This line shouts out and I want to tell Jonah to pay attention to his own prayer because he's going to need it when he finally hits the city.
"Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God's love for them." Jonah 2:8
Jonah's worthless idol was his bias, fear and hatred of the people of Ninevah. Not that they may not have deserved it. Frequently our anger is truly justified by the violent or unfair actions of others. However. It was still a worthless idol. And the cause of focusing on an idol is to damage ourselves. When I focus on my rights and anger and bitterness I turn from God's love.
My word. I do this. Come on Mindy! Eyes off my pitiful goals and idols and hatred. Turn my eyes to Jesus. It's the only way to get my needs REALLY met.
So from the depths of the whale Jonah promises to obey. And God saves him. Grace. And yet we know cause we read the last chapter....Jonah still gets angry when God gives grace to the people of Nineveh.
Do you watch the news? Anger abounds. From everyone. Politician and pulpits. Poor and Rich. Near and Far. Posturing and pleas. Anger. Dripping, shouting, thick. Yuck. We're so focused on our anger that we are refusing the grace for ourselves that God is extending. God had a question for Jonah that applies to us as well.
"But the Lord replied, "Is it right for you to be angry?" Jonah 4:3
Is it right for you to be angry? Have you been forgiven? I have. I've let people down, I've lied. I've been crass and cruel. But all that is gone because I asked.
What Jonah knew about God is still true. He is gracious and compassionate. Slow to anger. Abounding in love.
Here's the kicker. Want to know where Ninevah would be located on the modern day map? Just outside Mosul in modern-day northern Iraq. My guess is God's grace extends to the people there too.
His grace is for everyone. The people in your family. Even the mean ones. The people in jail. The people on the corner. In the pew and in the bar. God loves them all. What I wonder about my own heart is this. Do I want the good news for everyone? Or do I want some people to never hear the truth? Am I willing to offer words of the opportunity to difficult people, to people I disagree with, to people who hate me? Or do I tend to run and try and escape?
See if you can answer God's question. Is it right for you to be angry? If not, try Jonah's prayer.
But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say,"Salvation comes from the Lord.'" Jonah 2:9
The book of Jonah is not a bed time story for little children. It's a massive, gut wrenching mirror to our own souls. Do you need a time out?
Jonah is so much more than just a children's Sunday School story. Check out The Bible Project's walk through for some new insight.
"There is always, always, always something to be thankful for..." The sign cost me twenty bucks. I bought it at an after season clearance sale. It was intended to be hung during November. I decided that gratitude was in season year round. I hung it in our entryway and prayed that the sentiment would grace my heart and mind as well.
My husband and I just got home from a week long California Coast Cruise. We sailed on the Ruby Princess (cue the Love Boat theme song) and felt like royalty all week. It was our ten year wedding anniversary celebration and a much needed get away to reconnect and relax. We ate lobster, cactus, fresh pineapple, prime rib, cheese cake and creme brûlée. Someone else made the bed and turned it down every evening and there were little chocolates on our fluffy feather pillows every night. We soaked up the sun and watched seals, dolphins and pelicans splashing in the ocean. We slept late and laughed and played. We observed the stars and moon, and watched the waves. We watched people too.
We were encouraged to see so many couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, people in their 90's who were anything but elderly and multigenerational families making memories to last a life time. They were fun to be around. These fellow vacationers wore joy and gratitude like a garment- it fit on them naturally. They were full of laughter. They shined.
Then there were the complainers. Although they carried Coach purses, wore Maui Gem sunglasses and upscale name brand flip flops and were sailing to the same sun kissed destinations as the rest of us, they were miserable. Though they were being waited on hand and foot, they complained about the food, the service, the accommodations and more... It was hard to be near them. They smoldered.
Whenever I feel like complaining and getting a serious case of the "poor me's", I relive a common scene from my teen years when my mom would look at me with a raised eyebrow and would toss a book at me and expect me to read it...again. It was always the same book. It never changed. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.
Corrie and her sister, both devout Christians, hid Jewish people in their home during WWII and later endured life in a concentration camp. At one point in the book she thanked God for lice. LICE! She was genuinely thankful for lice because they kept the guards away. They weren't raped or beat and were left alone to study the Bible they had miraculously smuggled into the camp because they were infested with lice. She literally praised God for lice. Corrie and her sister lived out the following verses;
"Never stop praying. Give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Instead of complaining, they prayed. Instead of giving up, they gave thanks!
The last few years threw some challenging curve balls our way. According to the "Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory" we were racking up the points. This vacation was what the doctor ordered. The Princess motto is "Come Back New". We felt like we pushed the "refresh button". We came back ready and eager to take on life again. Gratitude is like a "refresh button" for our hearts and minds. While we don't aways have the time or funds to hop a plane to a sunny destination, to clear the fog in our minds and stress from our systems, we always have the ability to say thank you. Gratitude is the antidote for a bad attitude and gives us a new perspective in even the hardest situations. This week I was reminded of how a thankful spirit causes a person to appear even more beautiful while a grumbly demeanor causes even the most attractive person to appear sullen and hard. The quickest and least costly make-over is one that comes through prayer, a new mind; a thankful one. And the best part is gratitude is contagious.
I challenge anyone who reads this to find more and more ways to express gratitude throughout this week. Below are a list of ideas to get you started:
- Make eye contact and thank the person behind the cashier counter. Quietly say a prayer for that person while they bag your things.
-Use a sharpie marker to write thank you on the bottom of your garbage can for the collector. Pray for the collector each time you drag your garbage can to the curb.
-Tell your kids thank you for any and every act of obedience or kindness. Tell them that they are a gift from God and you are thankful God put them in your family.
-Before you order your food when eating out thank the waitress for serving your family. When you bow your head to pray ask God to bless your server (and remember to leave a good tip!).
-Take the time to say thank you to the next fireman, police, military, paramedic personnel you see in uniform. Pray for their safety and wisdom every single day.
-Send a note to your child's teacher saying thank you. Pray for your children, their teachers and their classmates while you drive them to school or pack their lunch.
-Wave thank you to the person directing traffic in a construction zone. Say a quick prayer for them as you drive by.
-Most importantly, thank God for a million blessings and more. "Yes, there is always, always, always something to be thankful for."
Do you have more ideas? What helps you be thankful?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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