I've been a week, now, without a voice. I hate being sick. But I didn't make this video this week. I shot this W.E.L.L. Being Series video a couple of weeks ago...and then I sat on it.
Why, you ask? Because I was afraid some friends of ours might feel I was directly referencing them - they have recently moved to the country. I wasn't thinking of them when I made this piece - I didn't even find out where exactly they actually live, now, until a day or two AFTER I finished it.
I am going ahead and publishing this because...well, because first of all, it is the truth. Secondly, I have been "all about" this message since the turn of this millennium - I wrote about it in a series of essays that date back to the year 2001, and I can reference blog posts right here on this blog beginning in '08.
So there you have it. Anyone who has moved to the country since 2001...I am not talking directly to you.
But if anything I say in this video applies to your life, then heck yes, I am talking to you.
Deal with it. (Not really...I only say that for fun.)
Without further ado, here is the video...and please excuse the too-loud music. I'm still deep in Beta Mode, when it comes to creating my weblog videos. Many thanks in advance for your patience!
PS. I am laughing out loud (well...croaking out loud) - please also excuse "The Hand" that pops up, now and again, with the air quotes and other such gestures. I don't know who that is.
Just kidding. It's me. But it looks like someone is hiding just below camera level, mocking me...
Now that I've ruined this for you. You won't take it seriously a'tall.
I spent some time this evening rejoicing in "this Divine Romance"....this "thing" that my Creator and I have for one another.
As I lay there, sprawled precariously across a short wicker love seat on my back porch, the rhythmic song of cicadas and the briskness of night air, so different from the usual languid warmth of southern summer evenings, filled me with joy.
And He spoke of His love for me.
And He spoke of my destiny - nothing big at all, in light of the fact that the Creator of the universe also created me and knows me by name and loves me. Is there a better destiny, a more-to-be-desired-than-this, lot in life? Not to my captivated heart. Frankly, whatever you desire other than Him....you can have it all. You can have my portion. Give me Jesus...lover of my soul.
And I sang to Him.
And blew Him a kiss or three. (That's my personal expression of profound worship.)
And I rejoiced in all He has done for me of late.
And He pointed out to me the fact that the outrageous love I'd experienced from The Preacher yesterday, was in fact, also Him loving me through my nearest physical vessel...
...yesterday, I had suddenly become sick, with aches and cough and misery and no voice. I could only sleep. And croak. And feel terribly unlovely. Yet...yet...
...yet The Preacher brought me flowers. And throughout his busy day, he managed to bring me a dozen or so juices, hot ciders, teas, and home made soup...enough to float a battle ship...crazy-extravagant care by any marriage standard...constantly checking in on me, by text message, by phone (though I could only whisper) and in person as he worked...
...God was trying to get something through to my heart.
"I know that was Tim, but...that was You, too, Lord?"
Yes, it was Him. Then He said to me, "I'll prove it. Look at the sky...just get still, and watch...I will blow you a kiss in the form of a falling star."
So I looked straight up...watching...no longer than five or ten minutes...and just when I thought I might have heard wrong...
...blazing and bright and bold and brief, there it went. A falling star, streaking the ink blue sky.
Remarkably, I didn't weep. I didn't feel chill bumps or Holy Ghost fire. I broke out in a grin, laughed out loud, and said, "God, you're crazy!"
It just popped out. He knows I wasn't being irreverent. I was responding in sheer delight, because there was something of His smile in it first. He laughed first.
Oh, how He loves me.
"...it is more to worship God, and more very delight, that we faithfully pray to Him of His Goodness, and cleave to Him by His grace, with true understanding, and made steadfast by love, than if we took all the means our heart can think. For if we took all these means, it is too little, and not full worship to God; but in His goodness is all the whole, and then faileth right not."
These are Harvest's high school grads this year - all college bound. The first one, on the left, is my youngest - who moved into his dorm at Johnson University on Saturday. Next, is Philip, who moved into his dorm at MTSU yesterday. Then, is Christopher, who is attending UT here in Knoxville.
I am beyond proud of these boys, and of the young girl in our church (not pictured here) who recently graduated from college.
I drove to Johnson U today (an hour from my home) with my son in law ( full time artist, Maryville College summa cum laude art school grad, and new dad!) and a young college friend I have been meeting with (senior MTSU nursing student). We set up a table, along with other churches and banks and credit unions, to greet incoming freshmen and invite them to make Harvest their church home away from home.
Harvest's pastor (my husband) has long maintained that a college degree is not necessary for success...not as God defines it, and not even as this world defines it.
He has been misunderstood, at times, for his stand on higher education...a stand that clearly states, "If God's plans for you require a degree, go get one. If they don't require a degree, but you want one anyhow... go get one. If God is not leading you to pursue a degree, and you have no desire to spend your parents' money - or your money - do not let anyone tell you you must have a degree to succeed.".
We are sure some are convinced that The Preacher says these things, not because they are simply true, but because he himself does not own a piece of paper called a degree. They can think what they like...and if they want to buy into the modern myth of The Degree, they can.
They can join the ranks of the bazillions who got degrees in areas they can't find a decent job, or a degree that has to also rely on a spouses degree to make ends meet, or a degree that has to depend on a parent's degree (money) to succeed...or a degree that, if they trade a life in exchange for a living, they make lots of money...or a degree that enables them to one day change professions, and take up farming, or gardening, and raise llamas and bulls for the tax write off, and live out the same sort of joy that many who never even finished high school are able to live...or they can go get that degree so they can meet and marry someone else who wants a degree, and have babies who will grow up to get degrees and seek spouses with the same.
I am such a Jesus Freak. I don't get that. Not at all.
No one is saying that obtaining a degree is bad or wrong. How foolish and extreme to say that. (...and some DO say that...they really do.). But to pursue a degree for social standing or snobbery is such a waste of time and resources that could be otherwise spent on the Kingdom or on an entrepreneurial venture.
Funny thing is, when you preach grace, people eventually break free from sin - because they want to live in such a way as to bring credibility to The Message. And when you maintain that a college degree isn't necessary for joy or success...you end up with nearly every kid in your church going on to college...because they want to. Because they know they don't have to...yet believe God is leading them there.
And when they graduate, they won't be insufferable snobs. There is a fine line between true respect, and a condescending attitude. That line exists in the heart of a person who either actually does respect others, and those who smile benevolently from their lofty position.
I am pretty sure I know which heart should belong to a child of God.
...not this week. You cannot know how much time and effort goes into one video weblog posting, unless you do it semi-regularly. No time for that this week. But there are beautiful and true-truths being pondered. That's my ponder-ful face (up there).
No, really. Seriously.
I am pondering what love is, as defined by God in 1st Corinthians 13. I am pondering how that love is patient and kind and focuses on what is true and beautiful, etc etc.
I am pondering how that all those things imply boundaries. Love implies boundaries. God has already defined all that is true and beautiful. We too then, have to Biblically define what is true and beautiful, which, in turn, forces us to define what is untrue and ugly.
I am pondering how that "believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things" does not mean believing lies, or hoping for our own way. It doesn't mean enduring the arrogant unbelief of grace-haters who minimize the Finished Work of Christ...whether by flagrant sinning or by being so religious they could intimidate the Antichrist.
I am pondering how that the wisest thing I did (as well as one of the most profound lessons I've learned) was to place distance between myself and COMS...
Women who COMplain...
Women who COMpare...
Women who COMpete...
I am pondering how that real love isn't random sacrifice or giving my body to be burned in a fit of melodrama. The moment I begin to think I have the corner market on caring...and why don't others do as I do...I am, in reality, a noisy and needy sinner in need of being informed as to my boundaries. Love is not puffed up, you see. Stop right there. No more being puffed up. Boundaries.
Boundaries define all that is beautiful in our lives, from doctrine to property lines, from relationships to health, from choices to the lanes on the highway, boundaries make us safe, and inform us continually when we are tempted to think of ourselves as the Exception To The Rule.
The Psalmist David said it best, "...the lines are fallen to me in pleasant places..."
It is after midnight, and I am finally home and settled. My heart is full, I feel so blessed. Aidyn Esther arrived this evening...all 9 pounds 5 ounces and 22 inches of her! It was love at first sight for PopPop and me both.
I didn't get to really hold her until after 10 PM! But I was patient and kind...unassuming, letting others feel like they were getting their special moment.
Because grandmothers do not have to assert who they are....they simply are. And Aidyn will get to know me well and early. And I am so rich I can afford to be gracious.
And grandmothers have impeccable manners.
Besides - she's mine. All mine...in that special way that only grandmothers (and great grandmothers) can say.
Are you ready to be dunked in adorableness???? Here you go:
I. Am. Solid. Gone.
We finally got to have our long talk together, Miss Princess and me. I told her I was wild about her. She told me it was mutual. I told her I would bring her some mousse for her hair first thing tomorrow morning. She said "Thank you, Mimi. You "get" me."
Oh, I get you, baby girl. You and me? We got our own thing going.
I've been going about the house, today, preparing to be a grandmother. My daughter Sarah and her Jonathan will become parents tomorrow. Aidyn Esther comes tomorrow afternoon. Tomorrow, a granddaughter is born, and so is a mother, a grandmother (yours truly), a great grandmother, and an auntie...
How does one prepare to be a grandmother? How...how...how...
I know what to do to prepare the house. I still have to clear out the fridge, sweep the floors, and make sure my little bag of power bars, knitting needles, yarn, and Diet Coke is packed - I'll be there, at the hospital tomorrow, per Sarah's request.
I know how to prepare a home, but how do I prepare a heart? How do I prepare my heart for the birth of a Sunflower baby...my Summertime granddaughter? How do I get ready again to step seamlessly into what I now know for sure to be the sweetest role I will play in all of life?
I wear a lot of hats, have worn many in my history, but this hat of "grandmotherhood" is by far the most joyful and delightful. How do I prepare my heart to meet a small Someone who I will love till the day I leave earth for heaven...and then beyond? How do I prepare to look into her eyes...this sequel-daughter (grand daughter) who I have prayed for since before she was even conceived, and will cherish for all eternity? Relationships are eternal.
How do I go about the mundane preparations for this sort of glory?
Life really is all about maintenance. Even on the eve of weddings and births, even on the day after death, there must be clean clothes and warm meals and physical comfort given to the people I love. Such is the Life of Woman. Ask me how I know.
Somehow, my heart assimilates. Somehow, my mind is slowly wrapping itself around the fact that God is the God of the New Thing. And New overlaps Old, always. One must always be cleaning up around the edges, where Old and New have collided. One must always be ready to tend to the business of tidying up in the place of transition, while simultaneously airing out the chambers of the heart...letting the breeze of newness freshen old routines and mindsets.
I've heard it said that women wear lots of hats. Well, this particular "hat" has been waiting for me, in its box, since the moment I gave birth to this daughter of mine and her sister.
Today I get the hat out. I admire its loveliness. Yes, this hat suits me. I think I will look just fine in this hat called "Aidyn's Mimi".
Tomorrow, I put on the hat for the very first time.
For the rest of my life, I will wear that hat with obnoxious pride.