World Turned Upside Down

 

Backwards planet.
Is this how God planned it?
No love.  No forgiveness.
We continue to live this
Screwed-up existence.

The Lord’s premise-
Turn cheek.

The Lord’s promise-
Reward meek.

The Lord’s command-
Love enemies.

The Lord’s demand-
Child-like faith.

Enter into this holy place as a kid.
Kingdom come.
The least of these is the greatest.
Last shall be first.

In order to gain your life, you must lose it.
Immediately elusive.

Gifts from giving,
Strength from strife,
Honor from oppression,
From death to life,

Upside down.

The Lord’s Lament-
Oceans of tears cried,
For my only son,
Surrendered and died.
But the greatest sorrow?
The greatest pain?
How many people will die in vain?

His love for me is upside down.

I deserve to bleed and He covers me with His blood.
The most powerful being in the universe came as a baby.

Upside down.

He uses the most cruel symbol of death, the cross, to communicate to the world,
“Here is eternal life!”

Upside down.

He takes this world…my world and turns it upside down.

Thank God.

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Take Heart

Psalm 61:2 (NIV)
From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

OR this version which is much cooler and grammatically correct (LOL):

GOD’S WORD Translation
From the ends of the earth, I call to you when I begin to lose heart. Lead me to the rock that is high above me.


So, like, bring me to a higher place, a higher ground. Right? High above me. Like, way up there! Pull me up!

But about losing heart. Losing nerve. Losing courage.

It’s hard to be brave when you’re playing chicken with job satisfaction and basic human needs. Right?

Justification upon justification says, “Pay the rent. Enjoy air-conditioning. Eat food.”

And Jesus said to the rich man, “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.Mark 10:21

Gulp. He didn’t say anything about A/C and paying the rent.

But this was the rich man’s stumbling block. The thing that kept him from God. The one thing he wasn’t willing to do. Walk away from his most precious accomplishment. His most closely-held ideal.

Jesus knew that. He knew the man’s heart, the core of what drove this man every day–get money, things, wealth and power. And Jesus challenged that. Like he does!

The man was rich. You don’t wake up rich, I’ve tried. You have to really bust your hump to get it. You may even have to screw someone else to get ahead. In fact, most definitely.

The passage ends with sadness. The man is deeply sad because his eager heart is confronted by his unmotivated flesh. The account reads, “…the man’s face fell.”

So, his face was all “Yes! I love you Jesus! *SMILES* I’ll do anything for you, just tell me, ’cause I don’t know what to do with all this intention and I’m so excited by you!”

Jesus: Give it all up! Walk away from everything you hold dear. Be like me. Live on faith.

And then, his face was all “That’s the worst news I’ve ever gotten.”

I’ve been there.

This is hearing from Jesus:
To a porn addict: Just come on over to church when you get that whole porn-sex thing figured out.
To an overeater: Stop eating so much and I’ll see you over here!
To a gun collector: Yeah, sell all those things that make you feel safe and powerful and then follow me into a really bad neighborhood.

Uh. What?

Yeah.

I don’t think Jesus was telling the man do this or you can’t hang out. He was saying, “Oh, you want the answer? You won’t like it. It’s not easy!”

He was explaining. “The road I choose for you and the path you’re on don’t merge. Getting to my road isn’t going to be easy. It’s complicated. And you’re going to have to let go of everything that is materialistic. Can you do that? Are you still happy and eager?”

It’s like hearing about this job that you can have where all the best versions of life come true and you have everything you’ve ever wanted emotionally, financially and physically. But you have an hour commute. Or the job is on the other side of the world. The neighborhood is rough. Or there’s no neighborhood…on the other side of the world!

Have everything you ever wanted, but here’s the price: giving up everything that ever made you feel comfortable.

It’s like losing your heart. Losing the very thing that you thought made you tick, motivated you, drove you, inspired you. And you find out, all along, you were ticking to another machine. A greedy, oily machine that disgusts you. But you can’t live without it.


It’s much harder when you’re making decisions for 3 people and not just yourself. I’m married with one child. That’s a decision I made a long time ago and didn’t even have to think about. Yes! A thousand times, yes. Give me those choices, over and over, and I’d give the same answer–yes! Yes, to my husband. Yes, to my baby. Yes, to a lifetime of laughter, love and fulfillment.

But I have wandered this lonely planet for years in search of the right “job” for me. Because wife and mother doesn’t pay very well. 😉 I would love to be a writer who gets paid to spit wisdom on paper. I would love to work from home doing graphic design, photography, acting, writing, creative stuff. But nobody pays you for that. Or if they do, it’s not enough to pay the bills.

I would actually love to serve a mission before I die and help others. Live in a hut. Roll around in the mud. Haul water. Build things. Take showers outdoors. Not take showers at all. Meet people. Love on people. Stinky people.

I know that comes with many challenges. Sickness, loss, difficult physical conditions. No luxury! And how can I choose that for 2 other people?

But if I know anything, those moments are the ones we live and die for, the ones where we feel most connected to other humans. We don’t clean and count our possessions. We see and touch and talk to other humans. What are we living for if not God’s people, each other, our neighbor?

Things are nice. Things are really nice. Comfortable. Secure. Reassuring. Downright luxurious. But I don’t think God created us to be comfortable. Right? Idk. Most of the time, following Christ has moved me out of my comfort zone. Which I hate. But what does a person accomplish in their comfort zone? Even internally?

I’ve never truly loved another person inside of my comfort zone. My husband regularly pushes me into Uncomfort Zone. Being a mom isn’t always comfortable. High rewards in both relationships, but I am often challenged to love without limits. But I don’t want to!

Loving cute little babies and sexy husbands is easy. It’s when they aren’t so attractive that makes it a challenge. “Hey, Babe, do this thing I know you hate just because I like it.” or “Hey, Mom, drop what you’re doing and come help me.” Sigh.

OR

My husband said to me the other day, “Triggered!” Which is our shorthand for, “Leave me alone, I can’t deal with your issue, get off my back! Back up off me, Bro!!” And I hollered back, “Me triggered!” And he just softened so much. His eyes changed to deep compassion and empathy for me. At the drop of two words. He was way outside his comfort zone and loved on me. That’s marriage. That’s being outside of your comfort zone and loving.

Dropping your life, your issue, your house, your car, your bills, your ego at the door and following Jesus. Loving without limits. Driving to the bad neighborhood and helping. ‘Cause where else do they need help except the bad neighborhood? Doing the crummiest jobs because who else is doing them?


I have a chance for a job and it’s everything I always wanted. High emotional satisfaction, working for a nonprofit that espouses Christian beliefs, helping poor people find housing, using my graphic design skills, photography and other creative talents. 100% health and dental benefits. But it’s in a different part of town. It’s a drive for sure. But exactly what I want. Probably very rewarding. But I haven’t been offered the job. I’m in the initial stages of interviewing.

BUT! I have a job offer on the table. Office work. Part-time. Nothing glamorous. Not really in my field. A little, but it’s mainly answering the phone, scheduling rides and data entry. Some social media perhaps.

What do I do? Hold out for the perfect job? Or take the first thing I can get? I feel confident that I will have a job before the end of this month or next. (Unless I become famous for blogging, retire early and eat coconuts. LOL) Do I wait? Do I take the okay job and then quit when offered the full-time dream career? The okay job made it clear, “People come in and then leave me in a lurch, and I just need someone who’s gonna stay.” In light of that very explicit detail, I don’t want to start and then bail when I get something better.

I have been out of the traditional job market for so long, I don’t know what to do. Ethically and idealistically, my gut says don’t take okay and wait. There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer. But we need the dough. The perfect job isn’t so perfect either. There are drawbacks. But it’s my field of graphic design. I’ve waited so long to do what I went back to school for. Ugh.

What do I really want? What do I need to do for my family?


I’ll figure it out. But this is hard. Deep breath. Don’t spiral.

Take heart, be brave, find courage. Follow Jesus. Get dirty. Love without limits today. It’s just that easy!

LOL No. It’s hard.

But try it! It’s like climbing a rock. 🙂

You can be lead to that rock.
But you have to decide to climb it.
But you don’t have to climb it alone.

Lead me to the rock that is higher than me!

 

Growing Doubt

If you’re going to plant something, make it your:
Feet.
Humility.
Kindness.
Reliance on God.

Don’t plant doubt. Doubt is a weed.
Grows fast and takes over everything.
No fruit or flowers can grow
With doubt around.

Doubt will have your well-maintained yard of confidence
Looking like:
A Jungle. Chaos. Hell.
In no time.

Who’s the:
Constant Gardener?
Lily-tender?
Bird-feeder?
Weed-killer?

God
Jesus
Holy Spirit

Doubt is like poison ivy:
Invasive.
Creeping.
Starts an itch that can’t be satisfied.

Once doubt takes over, I can’t stop it.
I’d have to burn my whole house down
To the ground
To beat it.

Scorched earth.
Have no worth.
I steal my mirth
With a Confidence dearth.

I can’t keep this yard on my own. Ask for help.
I’m an inexperienced novice with no skills.
No one ever taught me how to be awesome.
Everyone only reminded me of fear and failure.

God’s been doing this since the beginning of time.
OG-Original Gardener.
So pay attention.
Leave intention.

Oh, Petal. Doubt has no place
In a garden of self-esteem and worth.
Stop tearing up this dirt, sweating over the hurt.
Stop watering negativity with tears, bitterness, and concern.

We were made to blossom and thrive, Buttercup.
Don’t worry, Late-Bloomer.
Every plant has its cycle. Be patient.
Sometimes, the most rare flowers take the longest.

My value and worth aren’t earned.
Or learned.
They. Are. Inherited.
Passed down from my Father.

Genetic. Kinetic. Poetic. Prophetic.

No one can take it away.
No one. Not even myself.
Unless I give permission.
So how can I doubt that, Tulip?

By His Wounds

Jesus is the Physician that came to heal the sick,
Not the well.

Jesus is the Lover that came to embrace the hateful/hated,
Not the pretenders.

Jesus is the Savior that came to rescue the sinners,
Not the saints.

Jesus is the Redeemer that came to raise the dead.
To sound the alarm and resurrect the lost.

He left the 99
To find the 1.

Get found.


Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Amen.

Bear Fruit

No. Not bear (growling animal) fruit. That would look like this.

bear fruit
Lillian Maggio, age 13-My daughter drew this. LOL

No. As fun as that is, today, I get to bear fruit.

Patience fruit.

I am a budding tree and this is the spring of my seasons. The time for flowers and growth and fruit.

There are several fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, loyalty, gentleness and self-control. Galations 5:22 These fruits are from Jesus’ spirit that he left on Earth to help us. As a kid, I never understood that the Spirit was Jesus’ spirit. I didn’t make the connection. Now I get it. I mean, I understood the trinity, but I just thought that God and Jesus were related and then they have a good friend, Holy Spirit. I mean, I knew that they were all one, but…yeah. Now, I got it.

So, after Jesus ascended, when He went to heaven for the final time (I know it sounds weird, Non-christians!), after a few days, He sent the Spirit. To help us. He promised His followers that He would send the Spirit because Jesus knew we would need help. ‘Cause we are so screwed up. He paid the price for our sins and now lives at the right hand of God. That’s His reward. We are separate now, as He has fulfilled His purpose. When we fulfill our purpose, we can be together. Yes?

I have this strange imagination and when I think of Jesus at the right hand of God, I picture God turning to Jesus and talking about me. They probably do this telepathically. Just FYI. I mean, it’s 2/3 of the trinity. Well. They probably conference-in the Holy Spirit, or something.

“So, tell me more about Martha.”

And what Jesus says is so sweet and kind and generous. Undeserved grace. He tells God,

“Well, Dad, she’s really smart, loving, loyal and caring. But. She’s been hurt. Like, you know, everyone on the planet. She gets angry, impatient, rude, ungrateful and downright hateful.”

God, “Yeah. Got it.”

“But! She really wants to be different. When she prays, she usually means it. And she does love Us.”

God, “Cool.”

God is a lot like former President Barack Obama in my God/Jesus fantasy. lol Idk why.

So, the point of that is, I get that Jesus died for me. He would have died for me even if I was the only person on the planet. That’s pretty specific. I don’t deserve it, I don’t have to earn it, I just inherit the kingdom of God. Boom. Done. Crown. Thanks. Forever.

And I bring this up because the rest of the verse concerning the fruits of the Spirit is this:
Galations 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The last line gets me.
No. 1–I belong to Jesus. (D’aw!!)
No. 2–I have crucified my flesh by belonging to Jesus!

I have hung my sin and flesh on the cross and it has died! I have nailed my desire and passion to the blood-soaked wood and it has passed. Through Jesus, through His spirit.

I get that when God looks at me, because Jesus died in my place, that all God sees is Perfect Martha. Martha scattered/smothered/covered in Jesus. He sees a perfect child. The best Martha I can be. That makes me happy. And much more able to be patient. I mean, Jesus died so that I could be impatient about how long the stoplight takes? No.

Anyway, how long did Christ wait on me? Still waits on me?

I’ve been waiting today. Waiting on everything. Waiting on my husband for 2 hours while he’s getting an eye exam. Waiting on sales clerks, recycling attendants, stoplights, scanners, waitresses, phone chargers, emails, post office employees (grr! <<–there’s that bear fruit again) and endless lists of things and people.

I tried to be patient. But I usually failed.

I mean, I didn’t go crazy on anyone. And I didn’t rag on my husband all day. And I didn’t complain to a manager, call an 800 number or even give someone an obscene look, word or gesture. I certainly didn’t ram my car into the plate-glass window of Discover Vision Center.

I just had impatience circling above my head. Dark and brooding. Hovering and swooping. Preying on my thoughts. Scavenging my kindness. Vulturous and hungry. Sitting on my heart like a black crow. Waiting for me to drop my joy. Picking at my left-over love. Choking down my generosity, leaving bitter bones of resentment. Impatience stole my fruit.

I should be grateful for people, phones and cars. I should be thankful for husband, money and luxury. I should chug down a large glass of gratitude and get on with my day.

I’m trying to remember that I’m not patient. The Holy Spirit is patient. And if I ever successfully exercise the ability to be patient, it is not through my own power.

2 Corinthians 12:9 New Living Translation
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

It is because I allow the Holy Spirit to live inside of me. For Christ to live inside of me. That’s how Christ lives. Through us.

I know some Non-christians don’t understand the living Christ. (I get it, this is another weird one.) But He lives in us. His Spirit continues through us. When we love each other and help each other and do unto each other, we make Jesus live again. That’s the living Christ.

But how many Xians do you know that channel Jesus?

Although. His spirit has lingered for over 2,000 years. Swell and ebb, live and die. The church (# of true Christ followers) and the Spirit, in this world, are like the tides in the sea. High and low, at any given moment. But the ocean remains. His teachings and mark and LOVE remain.

Paul said:
Galatians 5:14 NIV
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And Jesus said:
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I don’t see much love every day, neighbor to neighbor. Can I just say that I love seeing my nasty neighbor picking up her dog’s crap when I arrive home? See. That’s not nice.

I do see love at home though. I see it online. I see it in some of our leaders. I see it around the world. I find it in unexpected places. Sometimes, I don’t find it where I think I should or will. I see people trying though.

Love is still there. The ocean remains.

I will be patient.

No. The Spirit will be patient. I will submit to the Spirit. And I will bear fruit.