Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dear Teenage Girl

Dear Teenage Girl,

How I adore you. I see you with your cowgirl boots, perfectly curled hair and that thing you have around your legs you are calling a skirt. It is nearly killing me, truly taking every single bit of restraint I have not to run over to you, throw my arms around your beautiful neck, hold you really close and whisper a story of freedom in your ear.

I want to sing you a redemptive song that's melody softly reminds are a hand crafted chosen daughter of a mighty jealous God. Do not sell your soul to the deeds of popularity. The cost will be high, the debt will be forgiven but the healing will be will be scarred. There is a better story written for you.

You want to be want to wear the homecoming crown and have your shoulders kept warm by the jacket of "the guy" you know the one. You want to ride in the jeep, top down, doors off, wind in your hair...his hand on your leg.

You want flowers on Valentine’s Day, or any day at want hand written love letters promising you that your relationship will be different. It will deify all logic, stand the test of time and y'all will get married, and everyone will be all like, "Awwww I KNEW they would stay together forever!"

So yeah, with all that stuff he're pretty much married in your heart...what’s the point in waiting to have sex? Life is short. #YOLO

You add that extra layer of mascara, wear that shirt a little lower, brush up against him a little longer, in all the right places. You want to be the last thing on his mind when he falls asleep at night and trust are. Well played love, yes, you have power over the thoughts of these unassuming little's intentional. I know...I remember. Guilty.

You want to be invited to the parties with the "chaperone's" who stay upstairs lost in their wine. You want to be the one who can casually drink or dabble in won't get addicted...that doesn't happen to well educated girls who drive nice cars.

You can hold your liquor on Saturday night and your Bible on Sunday morning...after know you are forgiven and that God is your only judge. *Who cares* what anybody thinks about you right? This is YOUR life.

Deep Breath.

OK so you aren’t the top aren't THAT bad...but you want to be in her circle. You want to be in the group text, to at least be know all the inside jokes and be tagged in the photos. So you do just enough to fit in, it makes you feel dirty but least you aren’t at home alone with your parents on a Saturday night right? #foreveralone #looooser

Your language is getting out of hand and what was once whispered among friends is now spoken loudly with no shame in public...and written online. It's your mouth; you can say what you want to. No body’s going to tell you what to are almost an adult. I mean a few years you will be in college so the parenting is pretty much over anyway...right? I am who I am. Sound familiar? How did I get in your thoughts like that?

Baby girl. Beautiful, wonderful, marvelous, brilliant you. I'm standing here suggesting it might be time to take the road less traveled. Make a U turn. Really have a good long discussion with yourself about what your dreams were...and what they are now.

I'm raising my hand telling you "It doesn't always turn out OK. The pain drives deep and years after the choices have been made the memories are not erased."

Have you lowered the bar for yourself? Have you compromised everything, or even just a few things? Have you crossed the line so many times it's not even a thrill anymore? Is there even a line still drawn? A place you have personally decided you will not go? And not because someone told you it was a bad idea but because you know it is in your heart and you care about yourself.

My hands are on your face and my eyes are dead locked with yours...

"It's OK. You are still good. Worthy. Whole. Redeemed. Wildly loved. Forgiven. There is never a point in which you have gone too far that Christ cannot restore. He is not angry at you...but rather standing right where you left Him heart aching. Waiting. He never changed His mind about you. Not once. Aren’t you getting tired of this race? You don't want to be the winner of me...there is a better prize. "

I'm not a bitter old woman pointing my finger at you. (well I am older but let's don't rub it in) We are in this together. I'm extending my hand, not slapping yours.

I get it. It's brutal.

Growing up with too many resources, too many opportunities, not enough adults willing to call you out and love you through a bad choice rather than making you the topic of the next gossip chain. Not enough willing to tell you "No", and not be afraid of your fit pitching. Not enough of us who have gone before you willing to admit, “I made that mistake. Here were the ugly consequences. Here's how I got through it."

Girls, what you are chasing is temporary. It has a life span of about 4 years. High School. That's it. Of all the people you look up too, the ones who have made great names for themselves, accomplished things that brought them fame and honor, in the Christian realm and otherwise...none of them, let me say that again...NONE OF THEM, peaked in High School.

I love you too much to say nothing...I'm begging you to revisit why you are here. Don't get caught up in *it all*. Pick your head up and lift your eyes farther...look beyond were handpicked by Jesus Christ!

You already wear a Crown. You already have His robe around your shoulders. Stand firm and stand tall. YOU are the daughter of a King.

John 15:16-You have been chosen.

Ephesians 2:10-You were created to do good works.

John 1:12-You are His daughter.

Isaiah 61:10-You wear His robe of righteousness.

1 Corinthians 12:27-You are a member of the club. You're in.

Colossians 2:9-10- You are complete.

Colossians 1:13- You are forgiven.

Romans 8:11- You are free from condemnation.

Philippians 1:6-He will not give up on you.

Psalm 17-You are the apple of His eye.

Romans 15:7- You are accepted.

Galatians 5:1- You are FREE.

I believe in you. I believe in you. I believe in you.

Don't sell out. Don't settle. Grab whats rightfully yours...

I promise you, hand on my heart, the best is not now...the best is yet to come. Wait for it.  


Monday, October 21, 2013

Moving On

Everyone I know is too busy. I do not leave myself out of this statement. Yesterday I put the car keys in the freezer...I don’t even know people...let's be kind and say it's because "my plate is full." And if the way I drink coffee is any indication of my multitasking gone really wrong I'm close to completing zero out of 100 tasks. There are no less than 3 cups of half empty mugs on all levels of the house by 10am. I suppose I just forgot I already poured the other two cups? Tragic. Thank God I'm not a smoker...the house wouldn’t be standing.

Most of us go from morning to night with all sorts of alerts and alarms going off on our phones reminding us of our next appointment. Very little down time, very little room for interruptions and for the LOVE of all things hurried up... very little time to run into a long winded talker in the parking lot.

And I wonder sometimes if there is anything under the sun that will make us stop. As it turns out there is. Death will make you stop. Not your death, although come to think of it your own death sure will do the trick, but the death of someone you greatly love...makes you pause.

Even Jesus, upon hearing about the death of His cousin John the Baptist, stopped.

"Now when Jesus heard this, He withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself."

Matthew 14:13

Last week we paused to mourn the loss of a loved one. It was beautiful and holy.

But I read on...verse 14

Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

15 Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

16 But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”

17 “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

18-21 Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.


So in his grief, in his time of mourning, the people found him alone.

Instead of asking them to go away and let him reflect on the death of his family member for a bit longer...He poured out compassion and continued His ministry.

He healed the sick, He performed a miracle, He lifted his face to heaven, He prayed, He blessed, and He broke bread with the congregation and there were even LEFTOVERS.

I like Jesus. OK I Love Him.

I am not suggesting at all that the feeding of the 5 thousand was a funeral for John the Baptist, so please do not email me with your outrage of my theology misconception....I am simply relating a scene that happened in my own life to the flow of a story in scripture.

The food y'all. The FOOD involved after the death of a loved one is all around you in massive quantities. It is so yummy wonderful made by the hands of Saints. The people come out of every corner of the church and they are a living storyboard with all the lifting of heads to heaven, blessing, praying, and breaking of bread.

How I adore the body of Christ and its ability to pause for just long enough and then spring into action...mirroring Jesus...continuing the ministry.

My gratitude abounds.

Below is the recipe for one of the best soups my Grandma ever made. It makes a big amount. Fills my largest Crock Pot to the rim. I want to thank each and every one of you who paused with me last week in my time of grief and whispered my name to The King. I felt your prayers...they sustained me.

Here I am on this Monday morning...moving on... holding out my ladle and filling your cup in gratitude.

Mom Sasser's Famous Festive Fiesta Soup
4 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
2 family sized cans of cream of mushroom soup
1 large jar of roasted red bell peppers, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 large onion, chopped
2 (16oz.) jars mild salsa
4 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Teaspoons pepper
Sour cream for topping
Tortilla chips, crushed for topping
In a large pot, saute' onion and garlic in olive oil for 6 minutes. Add roasted red bell peppers, bay leaves, salsa, pepper, mushroom soup and 2 cans of water. Mix Well. Bring to a boil, for 45 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add chicken.
Pour into Crock Pot and set on low for 6 hours. Serve with a drop of sour cream and crushed tortillas on top.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Grief Looks More Like Joy...

                                                                  Photo by Jarrod Cecil

And then you wake up and she's gone. And you feel nothing. You are numb and the tears that should be falling are bottled up somewhere in your person and they aren't falling. You want so badly to start the grieving process but you can''s been such a long death. And you wonder, am I even sad?

Your best friend brings you homemade fudge and as it turns out fudge goes really well with red wine and you start to smile and the "feelings" are coming back but this time your grief looks like joy.

You recall the way she swayed back in forth in the kitchen, her apron brushing the countertop as she made you ice cold tomato and mayo sandwiches, dashing them with the perfect amount of salt and pepper.

The way she opened up the screen door and hollered for her dog, "Ma-GGIE" and mumbled under her breath when the spoiled beagle ran away. The way she could point to any tree in the forest and tell you what it was called and when its foliage would turn color and drop. The way a sighting of an ordinary Red Bird or Blue Jay caused her to pause and consider the very nature of God.


You recall the way the Lord's Prayer flowed off her lips and how Scripture was framed throughout the house. And peace drapes a blanket across your shoulders. 


Today I will stop long enough to allow whatever shift happened in my heart the day she drew her last breath, to settle in down deep...


Her hands served the poor, her soul was sealed to her God, her feet carried out His commands, her spirit was filled with joy and thanksgiving, and her voice spoke of love and kindness and most of all....conviction.


She was modest, humble, and unapologetic in her pursuit of Jesus Christ. And I was chosen to fall in her family line. Why God would be this kind to me will remain a mystery… 


Her legacy looks like pontoon boat rides, jumping off docks and floating in lakes wearing  swimming suits that adorned long skirted ruffles.  It looks like loving her family members unconditionally and rallying the troops through difficult times.


It smells like fresh from the farm scrambled eggs and big bowls of steamy creamy smokin hot grits wrapped in butter…homemade meatloaf floating in her special sauce and the best ever creamed corn bread.  


And it sounds like the pages of a Bible flipping through arthritic hands. 


It feels like a *strong will* submitted in prayer and warm kisses on the cheek. It feels courageous. It feels passed on and it feels received.


Your little girl weeps at the news and then with all seriousness asks if she can paint her fingernails black for the party. I remind her it is called a funeral and she looks confused.


"Are we celebrating her life? Then it's a party."


Yes little Margaret…It's a party.   

On Thursday we are going to a "party", some of us will have our nails painted black and wear a little make up on our eyes, to celebrate a life that stood for something substantial.


We will raise a toast to a woman who loved purposefully and profoundly. We will eulogize her by bending the knee to The King in which she spent a lifetime serving and worshiping.


And now, wrapped in His righteousness she stands holy, worthy, redeemed, fully restored and glowing in the Light. If I close my eyes I can almost hear the Fathers voice saying to her...

"Well done my good and faithful servant. WELL done. Welcome home."

When I get to Heaven, I will find her one of two places...this I know for sure. Either she will be on her face worshiping her King, or I will follow the smell of fresh brewed coffee and sour cream pound cake... there she will be with her radiant smile and a chair pulled out waiting for me. I will ask her where my grandpa is and she will say "listen." and I will hear his voice in the choir singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb..."

And I will say to her....well, "Thistle-do-me -too" and we will laugh at the family inside joke...


But for today, as I allow this to process, you will find me wandering around gathering details for the party, singing…


"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul."


Because she taught me that hymn and because it is indeed...well.