Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sheep bites

i had an email exchange recently with a friend who has encouraged me as my family and i look for a new church home.
i've made no secret to some of my most intimate girlfriends and a few new friends i've met on a knitting community that i've been burned by the Church. as a sinner saved by grace, i've sinned, and one of those sins left wounds below the surface. wounds that came in the form of sheep bites, the emotional ostracism because one of their own had sinned visibly. we confessed, we teared outward and inward, and even so, were left wanting. we felt snubbed, turned away, a puzzle piece whose shape fits, but the picture is all wrong now. somehow it's been harder to find a Body to share with, gunshy, afraid that we could be turned away again.
i asked my friend to pray for us to find a living group of Christ followers who would accept us in all our ragamuffin grace, and she wrote these words: "i find forgiving is not the hard part. finding a safe place (beside at the Lord's feet) to bleed, to heal and plug in...those are the hard parts." it's so true. i walked bitter for a while, but i'm falling in love with both the Bride and Groom again, and i desperately want to find a place of worship, of community, of teaching. i want a place where it's okay for my heart to bleed out loud, come unscabbed, and then be wrapped back up by tender hands.
in studying John and talking about loving like He loves us, and in abiding in the Vine, we are told we will be given what we ask. my new prayer is to find this place where all of us sheep can gather in the fold, aware of the bites, aware of the times spent away from the craggy path, and remember the Shepherd instead.

Monday, March 29, 2010


ha.... in my fast typing i wrote pwrfwctionism. and had to correct it because blogger won't let you change titles later on. i'm a perfectionist at heart.
this week i have been challenged in a knitting project. i'm working swiftly under a self-induced deadline as i'm seeing the recipient this weekend, and the minor snafus i've faced have had me calling my spiritual and knitting mentor, who, i might add, is an even more intense "type a" than i am. tonight, after sewing up the sides and one of the sleeves, i noticed a glaring error. and could not believe i hadn't noticed it before while actually knitting that portion of the sweater. this may make no sense to you if you don't knit, but i was working in a two-row striping pattern of two colors. tiny little stripes. the error? 4 rows of blue staring darkly at me. on the sleeve. very obviously in its sea of two-row cousins. egads. to rip back or ignore it in the name of "character"? i called meg to ask another question, and then i wearily queried: "you'd change it, wouldn't you?" she agreed, most likely, but also understood that to unsew and rip back would mean a lot more time and effort, and there would be no way to finish before this weekend.
then, quietly, "you know, misty, the Amish women make mistakes in their quilting on purpose. so that by choosing to be imperfect they are never competing with God who is alone perfect."
i've been thinking much on the ideas of my limitations, my imperfections, my weaknesses. but what if the Creator made me with all those limits, imperfections, and weak spots on purpose? He would be made known, both to me and in those who see my testimony living.
He pours his glory each time i pour heavy tears, stopped by my own flesh-toned weakness. i am perfectly made. purposefully made. storied with imperfections so that i may not boast in the perfect stitches of my abilities, the beautiful applique of my desires, the luxurious fabric choices of my own pride... all filthy rags and wonky seams and one-stripe-too-manys. the tapestry speaks for Him, and He speaks story redemptive.
even though my friend won't know the implications, i will leave that extra stripe, small hallmark of character. it was hand-knit by one who was Hand-knit after all.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

home is where the heart is

we've heard that expression a time or two, haven't we? at bible study last night, where we are diving into the gospel of john and just studied chapter 15, our speaker said something that kind of revolutionized the way i think of the word home and the gospel. she spoke of a radical idea jesus shared with his disciples shortly before he knew he was going to die, and the idea is that while he has prepared a heavenly/spiritual home for us that will eternally house us, in the here and now, home is not a dwelling place at all. rather, it is the organic relationship we have with God and each other as he enables us. woah.

i love being at home. mu husband and i are both homebodies. things i love about home? unashamedness, lack of pretence, comfort, love. the speaker went on to say that the longer we abide at home, the easier it becomes, and that rang true as well. the longer my husband and i are married, the more ease we have with one another, and the more familiar the embraces. if i simply rest at home with my Papa, it, too, will be easy one day. that gives me hope, because God-as-Father is probably the hardest relationship i can fathom. i had an earthly father who abused that privilege and hurt me, so i often run away from the paternal images we have of God. and yet, the little girl inside of me still longs to crawl into her Abba's lap and just hold on tight.

one of the themes we've tackled over and over in john is that of known-ness. so not only are we at-home-on-earth by loving and being loved by Jesus, we extend that to others by loving them (his great commandment). she told our group, "the most significant way to abide in Christ is to love each other, and that there is no greater love than the example of his own sacrificial love." you can't love someone you don't know. there is an invitation here to engage in community, to engage in action as cheesy as that sounds. if we wear masks around one another and refuse to be vulnerable, then true relationship is not possible. if we do not know one another, then how can we lay down our life for one another? to be at home with one another is to be at home with him!

i have spent the last year of my life feeling alone and lonely, and yet here is the answer before me... seek out others to love and crawl into Abba's lap, be Loved, come Home.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

i don't speak french, but...

...somehow she knew i'd understand anyway.

my sweet, beautiful and first bosom-friend i ever had was met in college. i can barely remember that first meeting, but i knew that we would be fast friends. she was a missionary's child, having grown up in morocco, and i couldn't imagine anything more exotic in the world. she spoke several languages, including french, and i could have just died from vicarious experiences. she was the first to marry and move away, and we have written love letters of the kind Anne Shirley would have been proud, and we've been able to share glimpses of those broken places in our faiths, our marriages, our motherjourneys. she wrote of her struggle for Intimacy with the Father and we both mused in our emails, "why? why us? why is it so hard for us to believe?"

she wrote a different time, encouraged. she lives in switzerland now and has had to remember speaking in a tongue left dormant for years, and forge friendships after years of easy entry to community; it's been hard. yet, she met with her new pastor's wife and asked those Whys, and the graceful woman answered, "because we are the weaker vessel. take strength from your husband and lean on his faith and in Him who gives faith. be strengthened because you are weak." and so she shared with me, too, that it is okay to be "un vase plus fragile" stating it that way because she knew i'd prefer the poetry of those foreign syllables.

but it's not just about a phrase that rolls off my tongue; it's about a hurt that rolls off my heart, a finally-understanding-why i am who i am. because He made me to break, to crack, to shatter all my earthly expectations and lean on Him for strength, especially in the moments of fissure, in those, the weakest moments, the 4 o'clock meltdowns, the day looming long with a husband gone, the dishes undone and the long hair tangled and unbrushed. He asks so little...and so much. so much He died to accomplish it, and so little that i can do on my own. that is love, and i pray that as i'm un vase plus fragile to my children, i shower them with a love unnatural, broken and shattered to pieces He picks up and makes perfect.