Three Lies Women Believe

Creative Commons by erin & camera

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:1-6
1) It was good for food
2) It was pleasing to the eye
3) Desirable for gaining wisdom
I. Perhaps Eve reasoned to herself: Well, it’s something I need anyway, I’ll wipe this little need that I have right off God’s checklist.   I mean, I’m here any way, I’m hungry, it looks yummy, why not? We believe that we can provide something for ourselves, things that God has already promised to provide for us anyway. 
II.  They say a man is visually stimulated.  So are women, just in different ways: go to get a gallon of milk at the grocery store and we’ve got countless glossy covers that promise a more organized house, a flatter stomach, better-behaved children and a gourmet meal in 30 minutes or less.
That meal, these children, that dining room, they’re so beautiful.  But really, those pictures are what happens at photo shoots and when you are retired.
My mom and 91-year-old grandmother went to visit my recently widowed uncle, who, after my aunt’s passing, picked up and moved to wilderness country in a county that borders NY state. 
My mother called it her missionary journey.
She described a beautifully landscaped yard done by my uncle: a flower garden, a hand-made rock wall and a new gravel path running up to the house, but the inside was a different story: my aunt had always been the home-maker, mom said there should have been some potpourri or scented candles or something…and I just smiled at the thought of my uncle whose favorite past time is trudging deep into the woods to cut down trees with his chainsaw picking up apple-scented potpourri and candles with descriptions like Midnight Jasmine from Walmart. 
It wouldn’t happen. 
We crave those things that are pleasing to the eye, the touch, we know that these things have warmth and character and life, but sometimes they don’t, sometimes all they are are just pleasing to the eye.
I think that’s why Satan had to pick one of the more “crafty animals” because women are smart, we can usually see through things in about 10 seconds, but not always, because here’s the thing: other people’s opinions matter too much to us, that is why we need wise counsel, that is why we must bathe ourselves in the Word of God, because, as the author of Hebrews says, it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart, it separates joint and marrow (Hebrews 4:12).  No matter how smart we are, our judgment cannot and should not replace the Word of God. 
III.  I’ll admit it, I’m a knowledge gobbler, I love it almost as much as say, chocolate.  Give me a book on sociology, child-rearing, psychology, biology and the human genome, I’ll eat it up and feel a tad bit smarter for reading it, nothing wrong with that–right?
We trick ourselves into thinking that if we preform certain tasks, follow certain formulas, we’ll gain that wisdom, but what does scripture say, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  This means obedience.  I can’t stress this enough.  Let us not consider ourselves wise, or even knowledgeable in our own eyes.  Here is our destruction: when we presume to know more than God, more than our Creator who made us and formed us out of man, more than the presence that walks with us and talks with us, more than the Father that says, “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. “    
My point is, we cannot and we should not think ourselves smarter than we actually are,  I’m not knocking all the attributes of the Proverbs 31 women: industrious, merciful, joyful, and generous.  But I am calling to task us trying to achieve this goal on our own.
I’ll leave you with this picture of God’s reward for obedience in Leviticus 26: 3-14
If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the tree their fruit.  Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.  I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.  I will remove wild beasts form the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.  You will pursue your enemies and they will fall by the sword before you.  Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.  I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.  You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move out to make room for the new.  I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.  I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.  I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would not longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enable you to walk with heads held high.
Now this, is all-sustaining, all-fulfilling and all-wise beauty.

Sometimes You Have to Go to Africa to Get Your Healing

The circumstances surrounding my separation and divorce were devastating and I think one of the biggest things that compounded the pain of it all was that my ex-husband now lives about a mile down the road.  It is actually a pretty good thing when in comes to co-parenting, but really, the pain of that daily reality dredge up some feelings that are incredibly hard.
All that to say, when I took my second journey to Uganda this summer, I really had no idea what awaited me.  Who am I?  A single mom, living in ATL, trying to figure out the trajectory of my life with a passion for the orphaned.  (Sound a little Moses-like?) But really, why was God sending me back?
I had no idea the healing that awaited me, but I as sat under that spreading tree with Martin that afternoon, and the tears just flowed out of me like water out of a sieve, I didn’t know it at the time, but God was putting the final piece of that healing puzzle in place.
Back at home, it took me a few weeks to fully grasp what had happened that day, but I sit back now in awe of how God works, that when we are transparent and willing and say “yes” to Him, then a transformation like no other happens.
When God is asking you to go places, just do it.
When God is asking you make that call, just pick up the phone.
When God is asking you to be brave and do that task one more time, send the e-mail, show up, because you have no idea what’s in store for you.
It will be amazing.
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.  Be strong and very courageous.  Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the let, that you may be successful wherever you go.  Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night , so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1: 5b-9

One Wedding and a Birthday

Yesterday was kind-of momentous–a pretty big deal some might say.  A wedding and a 40th birthday rolled into one big, continuous party with Little A and I still coming down off a sugar high. 

The wedding, as those go, was beautiful.  It was Christ-centered and lovely.  Always, the look on the Groom’s face when the Bride begins her descent down the isle is just perfect: a combination of awe, joy, excitement and wow, it is enough to take one’s breath away.  And the moment that she had to physically leave her father and cleave to her new husband was just heart-breaking–that’s when the floodgates open and Little A whispers, “Are you ok?”

The vows were exchanged the kisses surrendered and the new bride and groom took off like joyful youngsters do–but wait, something different happened–something I’ve never witnessed before on said occasion:  the bride and groom can back, they came back to kiss their mothers and fathers and embrace their grandmother and I thought, “My goodness this is amazing.” I tucked the memory in along with the cake…

Then came one of my best friend’s 40th birthdays.  The cadre of hyper 7-year-olds bopping around the house and flowing out into the yard with –wait–how’d-they-get all-that-sugar?-hands…
The adults filled their plates and we ate and made sure the children weren’t scraping or falling or poking in between bites while the dervish seemed to take on an entity of it’s own. 
There was only crowd control at this point…
The time for the toasting and some tears and some more heart-warmth and we raised our cups to our friend who–is, put perfectly by a poet in the crowd as: “The most creative and caring person we know.” She turned and gave recognition to her two friends, one who was slightly younger and also celebrating a birthday soon and to Charlene, the resident, soon-to-be-92-year-old sage in our midst.
I share all this to say that we mustn’t forget our roots, those who have raised us, protected us, taught us, pushed us, encouraged must not be left behind in our past.  So, if we follow the words of Charlene: “Life is what you make it.”
Then let us make it thankful.

Good Fences Don’t Make Good Neighbors

Creative Commons by russelljsmith
 Good neighbors do.
And yes, I may have committed some kind of literary blasphemy with the twisting of Mr. Frost’s whole concept, but the reality is, I miss my neighbors, they moved out two weeks ago and there is a wide, silent hole just sitting downstairs until new tenants move in, and that is just what they will be for a while until we get to know them. 
If there’s one thing I hate more than moving is seeing neighbors move, maybe it’s because I’ve always been the one moving and shaking and Little A and I are hunkered down, settled peacefully with no plans for leaving for now. 
I’m happy for them, I really am, a bigger place is what they’ve been dreaming and praying and really, truly needing now for years, but selfishly I wanted to stand in front of their moving truck with arms crossed and say, “Uh, uh.  This a big joke, right?  This ain’t happening.”  They became our family over the last three years and we became one big, noisy family together. 
Little A sat at the dining room table last night and said, “It just doesn’t feel right without Noah here. “  I had to agree and swallow my own sadness and memories of late night talks, urgent phone calls when one kid was just driving us crazy and we had to move the mass of craziness from one floor to another–at least for a few hours.
There has been a baptism, improptu prayer time, missions send-off, seeing the Lord’s calling, surgery, court date, fundraiser, Easter sunrise morning, coming-of-age party, birthday parties, dance parties, match-making and consolation talks and spiritual pep-talks.  Yes, they have been more to me than your “average” neighbor, they have become friends, and truthfully, I’m a little jealous of their new neighbors now.
Sure, Jesus surrounded himself with 12 close friends and was oftentimes pressed in by masses of people, but I know he knew the pain of loneliness, which is why he was so awesome about reaching out to the sick and the lost and the isolated, the woman with the issue of blood, the short tax collector, the blind, the deaf and the mute, he understood what it meant to be lonely.  He had been separated from his heavenly Father, the one who knew him best for his whole life. Yes, they had communion–Jesus would often spend entire nights in prayer, but there is something about presence, real, true presence.

It’s hard to give your heart away in little pieces and watch those pieces drive off on a moving truck.  I guess this is preparing me for when Little A isn’t little anymore and leaves for college–Please, Lord, don’t let that happen…Do…But Don’t 
“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.”
That would be me.
What can you do right now to show your neighbor how much you love and appreciate them and their barky dog?  Don’t just sit there, go do it.