Category Archives: Iron Maidens

All That #Matters and Why

The very last thing in the world I have wanted is for this writing space to become a place of quasi-political ranting.    Who needs more of that, right?

Besides, I’m ridiculously emotional and thin-skinned when it comes to criticism and I don’t think I have the guts to take the virtual sucker punches being doled out left and right by people who don’t seem to care either way— they just like to punch.

However, I do know the need to obey the Holy Spirit’s nudge telling me to speak up and write out some of the the wrongs I see today. Even though it seems like nobody is really listening….really hearing anymore— it matters enough to at least take a stand. What’s the point in “playing it safe” anyway?

For that matter….what’s safe?

All That Matters

Explain “safe” in the eyes of at least one dear Christian woman I know who sends all four of her sons out in shifts to wear a uniform and a badge in a world that has become increasingly hostile towards them simply because they wear a uniform and badge.

Because someone on the side of evil—not justice— said it was ok and others mindlessly decided to listen. These brave and godly men know the risks. Their wives and family know it too. And tonight, their momma knows the power of prayer and how the safety of their souls rests in the capable hands of their Savior. There, she knows, they are truly safe.

This is the part of the writing where I ought to insert a deep and meaningful quote on safe-ness and somehow draw the conversation around to the ideal safety we should be working towards versus the ridiculous place as a society we’ve wandered into. However, I don’t believe that safety has ever been a reasonable ideal at any point in Christian living.

Truth be told: the need for perceived safety has often led to compromises largely responsible for the upside-down confusion we find ourselves living with today. Little by little, we’ve given away valuable territory in our gospel, thinking we were being tolerant and wise “peace makers” until now, the joke’s on us when we try to talk about “right and wrong” and bring value and meaning to the larger conversations.

The sad fact is that while Rome is burning, the people in charge of making the rules have been fiddling around with definitions and modifiers for relationships they only inherited —they didn’t create—leaving large gaps where the unchanging truth of God should be.

As a result, anarchy has taken root in the underbelly of every institution and is slowly creeping into every crevice of our society. It ought to terrify us. Instead we seem more concerned with what Miley wore last night, whether or not the stock market is going to hold up or if having a Trump card in our back pocket will save us all.

We can point “out there” at the barbarism of ISIS or where people are treating one another like animals and leaders are barrel-bombing their own people while other countries have shut their borders against the ones who’ve manage to escape or avoid dying along the way.

We don’t have to care too much because at least it’s not happening here. Or is it?

It’s all so very real and getting closer all the time. There’s been a quiet erosion of all our stabilizing foundations to such a degree that when it finally collapses around our ankles, stunned we’ll be looking for someone to blame until we realize we might have been the ones who looked the other way

when the babies were murdered
and injustices took place
and the mobs burned down the towns
and the officers were gunned down like nameless, faceless animals
because someone said it was open season.

We’ll wonder how the enemy got in so close and so fast while nobody was looking because we’d forgotten how we were told that a house, a people and a nation divided against itself    Can. Not. Stand.

Oh we’ve got our hashtags. #BlackLivesMatter. #PoliceLives Matter. #EverythingMatters.  Texas Sherrif Ron Hickman dared to say we needed to drop the qualifiers and simply recognize that #LivesMatter and take that to the bank. Maybe. It’s a start but divorced from the Source, what’s a life anyway?

How can ANYTHING or ANYONE  matter at all if God is taken out of the equation? How can any life matter if the One who gives meaning, definition and validity to all of life is removed from the picture?

How can we be enraged over injustice if justice is a fluid concept based on who gets to define right and wrong, life and death, valuable or worthless?

Life only matters when it’s anchored to something solid and unchanging… Someone outside, beyond and bigger than ourselves Who imparts His unchanging meaning and value to all of creation. Otherwise…value? Meaning? It’s all subjective and dependent upon the mood of the moment.

The problem is not somewhere “out there”…. Its right here, in our own hearts where we’ve gotten disconnected from the foundational, unchanging Truth of God thinking we were liberating and expressing our souls freely.

In his essay, The Portrait of a Soul, Ravi Zacharias expresses this place of disconnect so well:

Today we find a limitless capacity to raise the question of evil as we see it outside ourselves, but often hold an equal unwillingness to address the evil within us.  I once sat on the top floor of a huge corporate building owned by a very successful businessman.  Our entire conversation revolved around his reason for unbelief: that there was so much darkness and corruption in this world and a seemingly silent God.  Suddenly interrupting the dialogue, a friend of mine said to him, “Since evil troubles you so much, I would be curious to know what you have done with the evil you see within you.”  There was red-faced silence.”

Oh, I know— in so many ways, I’m preaching to the choir here. Most folks who read here do believe that God created the heavens and the earth and believe in His unchanging holiness and love. Your hearts are burdened like mine in all the right ways for most of the right reasons. We do falter and occasionally we fall but, praise Jesus— we know how to get back up and where to stand.

The problem is only that maybe we’re just way too quiet about it all.
We’ve got our Jesus-ticket to heaven and that’s enough.
We’re just sitting down and waiting out the storm…
trying to play it safe when really— there’s no such thing.

overcoming through vulnerability

Here and now, for such a time as this and as the ones here to serve God in our generation, we’ve got to live out loud, get our hands dirty, bare our beating and bleeding hearts to our dying neighbors and live like we really believe what we say we believe— joyful and strong in such a way that shows we know Who and What really matters…and most importantly, why.

Otherwise… what really matters?

an unfading glory

We’ve rounded that sharp bend in the calendar, barreling straight into 2015 with images of 2014 quickly receding in the rearview of the mind. It’s been an unrealistically amazing year in my world with so many things I can point to and know:

THERE…those moments    right   there… they shaped my life.
Changed me deeply.
I’m marked and branded more eternally by them.

Although markings include the painful news regarding a loved one, a ministry opportunity taking me half way around the world and back— and the exciting addition of a new family member, one person has had more shaping influence on my life than most any other in this last year.

an unfading glory 2

She wouldn’t know me from Adam’s house cat.

We’ve never met and it’s doubtful….very doubtful, we will ever meet on this side of heaven.  Yet, without a smidge of exaggeration, I can tell you this woman has made an eternal impact on my life in ways I pray I’ll never forget.

Since discovering her story online, pieces of the Jesus in her have met me in my moments all throughout this past year, carrying me through many things frustrating and fantastic. They’ve met me in the months leading up to the holidays and all the typical calendar crazy, combined with the preparation for an out-of-state wedding. 

Additional pieces were gifted during quieter moments of recent holiday celebrations and I thought about her often while I worked through the final week leading up to my daughter’s wedding day. When that day came,  I smiled w i d e r.  I loved harder  and I danced in slow circles with my husband— all while her Jesus whispers settled in my soul.

I thought of her— and her daughters— a lot that night.  I was humbled.

She didn’t ask to be there in the ways she was there. I mean, I’d gladly have invited her to come,  but the way it has happened…the way it seems that it has to happen…. Well, I know I’m one of so many who wish …..  it could be different.

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I’d want to be her friend in real life.

I want to imagine we could share all the things: flowers and tomatoes from our gardens, recipes and accessories. We’d swap stories and all those grubby nuggets and precious pearls of hard-won wisdom about how to live and love well.

We’d argue sometimes but make up easily. We’d cry a little and we’d pray and laugh a lot. I’d like a friend like that. She seems so real in these ways…even in her earnest and honest struggle with life, love, cancer and now dying— God’s love through her is so evident and real.

Without even trying, she causes me to ask myself the hard questions:

Could I do this?
What do I have to complain about?
Can I live the remainder of my life with this kind of love for others?
Apologize?
Forgive?
Serve selflessly?
Point always to Jesus?

Her real life friends are struggling too. 

They’ve sat by her in the long dark hours of chemo. They’ve held her hand, made her smoothies and loved her husband and children. They’ve laughed and listened and have possibly argued a little along the way. They supported her while she wrote and released her second book. They’ve watched her make up her mind to fight and live. They’ve stood by her decision now to love well and die with grace. 

With grace…. IN Grace.

The cup of life

I so grateful to know her in this pathetically small way I do.

It’s been her gift to us all— teaching us, leading us and guiding us as she is taught led and guided along the Isaiah 42:16 paths we can barely understand or know. She’s done her best to show us that God is here… now. With her husband right beside her, she’s given us the greatest gift:

the courage to live and die… well.

She’s also given the gift of perspective. Last night I read how she clearly remembers driving for the last time although then she didn’t realize it would be the last time. I thought of this tonight, as I drove myself to the grocery store and exercise class with my hands about frozen to the steering wheel from the bitter cold.

And I thanked God for the van and the cold and the privilege…the health I have to simply drive. Her legacy is a life of chosen gratitude. I want that to be mine too.

Not long ago, she also wrote about how she’s not a hero. I won’t argue with her. I understand. All the world loves a hero and there are plenty of media outlets willing to exploit and make a hero’s story out of many. But this woman– she’s not trying to be anyone’s hero.

As the most Pro-Life and Pro-Love person I’ve ever witnessed, she’s simply courageously spending her last days pointing us to the One who is THE Hero: Jesus. She’s invited us to draw closer to her story and as a result, she’s invited us to draw nearer with her to God, allowing Him to use her journey to teach us how to love Him and one another better and trust Him more.

Rekindling the fire

She knows time here is shortfor all of us really,  and though her story here on earth will soon come to a close, it  continues— on another page and in an unending chapter at Home in heaven.

Where someday, we will most definitely meet. I don’t know if there will be chairs in heaven but I’d like to think there are many. If so, then I’ll draw one up close beside her and there I’ll say,

“Thank you, Kara. Thank you for being my friend.”

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to be my disciple must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” John 12:24-26

**UPDATE Kara Tippetts went home to be with our Lord today, March 22, 2015. Well done dear Sister.

Grateful,Lorretta signature

iron maidens and the dragons they slay

A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open,
Goliath from Gath. …”  (1 Samuel 17-4)

She cussed like a sailor.
She smoked like a freight train.

unnamed-4For awhile she drove an eighteen-wheeler from one end of the country to the other to earn her living.
She lived large, laughed loud and drank her whiskey straight.

When she set her mind to something, it was done— five minutes ago.
She tore apart several houses and put them back together the way SHE wanted them.
Sadly, sometimes it wasn’t her “house” and she left a trail of men in her wake.

She intimidated the crap out of me and yet,  I wanted to please her most of all.
I often felt like I didn’t and I’m sorry I didn’t understand her better.

She was my mother. The toughest thing going and to this day, a good bit of who she was remains a mystery to me. There are not many folks alive who can tell me much more than I know so I’ve gotten used to the fringes and shadows of what few memories I possess.

To be honest, there were many years I was flat out mad at her. Might have said I hated her. Hurt and disappointed by her choices and behaviors— and though it wasn’t her fault alone, I didn’t know how to process what I was experiencing.

In fact, for a while if you wanted to make me so mad I might punch you hard and cry harder, all you had to do was say I was a lot like her. That was enough to draw me out swinging. Not anymore.

So much more is clear to me now that I’m older with a fresh perspective on life and it’s struggles and also… now that she’s gone.  I realize now, we were both tragically misunderstood. I loved her more than I feared the pain of her rejection but somehow never found a way to break through.

I miss her. She was strong and amazing.  She was a tough cookie with a soft spot for the underdog, the downtrodden and the strays. And….in at least the best ways I can tell— I’m a lot like her.

She wasn’t a very big woman but recently I have begun to realize that the pain that once passed between us has cast a giant shadow over me for most of my adult life.     It was a giant I had to slay.      One of many actually.

“David asked …Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?(1 Samuel 17:26)

Iron Maidens

 

People…     giant slaying is some downright dirty and difficult work.

 God has wrought so much healing out of this painful place of struggle in me as I’ve done that dirty and difficult work and I willingly open myself for Him to use whatever He deems useful to heal those deep wounds in others. It’s why I’m here. In the process of it all, I find myself now surrounded by a number of other “tough cookies”…. Iron Maidens is how I like to refer to us — as in the “iron sharpening iron sort of way described in Proverbs 27:17.

None of us exactly chose to be this way. None of us asked for this responsibility or the difficulty of having to slay some pretty terrible giants from our past in order to get here.  But none of us would have it any other way if God can use us. It’s the way we are and because we are His, this is also how He’ll use us if we allow it. Imperfect yet beautifully useful… restored for a purpose. Set apart for a holy privilege. Iron Maidens are brave.

***************************************The becoming

And you know writing through my brave here may seem like I’ve gotten a bunch of stuff figured out but if there’s one thing I need you to know — I’m mostly figuring it out as I go along.     Like everyone else.

There are days I’m just aren’t feeling it. Days when all the molehills become towering mountains covered with gigantic problems that seem tainted and flavored like my past. Those are the days when I’m not sure I can— or even want to fight the battle or slay another stinkin giant ever again.

It’s hard.   Me?      On those days I want to quit.
I feel unqualified to speak on behalf of God or to anyone else.
Maybe even like it’s not worth it.
It’s so much….bigger than me.
Sometimes I feel naked… because I forget Who’s really got me covered.

“Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.(1 Samuel 17: 38-39)

The Sure Cure of the Light

In those moments, God shows me the truth of what it truly means to surrender… ALL.  He may use another person in my life to remind me of the preciousness of this place and the call to keep slaying those giants. Or He might simply meet with me in His Word, under a tree, “face to face as a man meets with a friend.”

But He reminds me that in His hands— everything about my life and journey is useful for this Kingdom call and the tools He’s given me to fight these battles with are ones I know how to use well.      They fit.

 David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground..” (1 Samuel 17:48b-49)

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This early story of David flew home to nest in my heart this past week because this is the very same situation we must apply to any and all giants we must slay in the name of the Living God.

As I re-read the story God spoke and revealed there was more than one giant present that day. The obvious one— yelling and screaming and looking all scary, then David’s own family members who mocked and belittled him. He had to respectfully stare down the giant of a wrong authority-figure who wasn’t willing to face the giant himself…and there might have been the giant of pride in there somewhere too.   All these and more he’d face again somewhere down the line.

But the biggest thing God revealed is that in the end, it wasn’t a stone that slayed the giant that day. God could have done that Himself.     What killed the giant…… was obedience.

Faith in God and obedience to the call.   As David eventually learned,   it’s the only way to slay ANY giant.   In fact, it may be the biggest brave of all.

So…. what giants are you facing down today?  Let’s do this thing.

An Iron Maiden Dancing,Lorretta signature

This article originally appeared at  the Brave Girl Community.

and I’m linking with Lyli  and Holly too!