The lottery ticket paradox

I have a bag of parables and pet theories I used to bore my youth group with…regularly.

One of them was the lottery ticket theory, which goes something like this:

If a rude person verbally assaulted you in a parking lot and insisted that they were handing you a winning lottery ticket you might be put off by the assailant, but you would be a fool not to take the ticket and check the numbers.

Jesus is that ticket.

We Christians are absolute morons–rude, pushy, myopic, prejudiced, morally flaccid.

You name it, we flub it.

But Jesus did not. He flubbed nothing. He gives us back our lousy, flea-bitten lives, whole and restored.

Why bother restating an old story from my former life?

Because I believe.

Because I still believe.

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Perhaps if birds

Perhaps if birds
Could bring the rain
We would seed our yards,
Learn their calls
Keep the cats inside.

/beckon to them with fields of sunflowers
/covet their myriad congregation along electrified wires
Build their houses
Guard their nests
Stay all our empty words

For a mated call to water

My children play
Duck, duck, goose
With rich adjectival muster-
medium-sized duck, superhero duck
Yell Goose! and always be prepared to run

Anthropomorphize these missing storms
See sparrows in each laden cloud

Sow the fields with barley
Surely they will love barley
And swoop down toward us
“with healing in his wings”

All our science is naught
Fruitless and pendant
Cotton in the mouth
We cry
medium-sized rain, superhero rain,

Or no rain at all
Because we have forgotten…

He said fire the next time

Bring the Rain

I have a short story I recite with my son–

It rains
And then the worms come out
Then the birds eat the worms.

You will notice it is both a celebration and a cautionary tale.

The worms don’t fare so well.

But at this point the story is almost entirely mythic. It does not rain here. My son does not know rain.

I have written about my misguided annoyance about this drought, this lack of rain. I used to think God was not listening to me. Now I know we are not listening to Him.

This is our drought.

Both California and Texas are experiencing historic droughts. Here in Texas we squander our water on fracking. In California they are paying people to remove their lawns and deep water drilling is big business.

And in our churches we ignore our glorious interventionist God.

We must pray for rain.

But first we must pray for the reign of God. Our lack of water is merely a sign of the drought of holiness that defines this generation of believers in Christ.

The message is simple and incisive and begins with a question not an injunction, an invitation to love, not a list of rules.

Ask yourself–

Are you in love with God? Do you long for Him the way a man in the desert longs for rain?

And if the answer is yes then the result will be apparent to all who know you.

You will bring that rain. You will bring that water.

The water of life. The city of God. A Man, a Word: Jesus.

There are no deserts of either holiness or love when He is close.

So keep Him close.

Bring the rain.

Clouds without rain

Two days this week we had beautiful storms. There were dark clouds full of rain. Thunder. Lightning.

Only the rain never came.

I told my kids that I had to hope that it rained somewhere in the state of Texas. But the lack of rain makes my heart ache. We need it.

I think of Elijah, praying for God to hold back the rain because of the sin of his people. Mine are no better than his, am I praying the wrong prayer?

This week I heard a story of ordinary sin and degradation. Well…several. This one particular story was disheartening because a number of people who claim to ascribe to a clear moral code registered little or no willingness to apply that code.

When our moral code lapses we are clouds without rain.. The phrase comes from James. He is exhorting a young church to be active in applying the good news and power of salvation to a broken world.

If we don’t because we are uncomfortable we are as useless and sterile as clouds without rain.

Hydrate, Darling. Hydrate.

Adoption Accounting

I recently watched the movie Philomena.

There is a harrowing scene of loss in the movie. A scene I once had to endure myself.

I was a foster mother–a mere placeholder without any legal recourse, but Philomena and thousands like her were the true and legal biological parents of children who were stolen through the misuse of power and secrecy of adoption law.

We need transparency in adoption. No government entity or adoption agency or even adopting couple should be able to hide behind confidentiality to steal children.

And we need to be clear about this:

All children of adoption should have the right to know their true story, their real names, all their family. They may also need to know that this truth of who they were and where they came from…yes, and even who they “belong to” now, may have been obscured in the documentation of the adoption process itself.

For years it never occurred to me that social workers and adoption agents would lie to take a child from a parent.

And for years after I knew they could and did, I felt the subtle pressure to keep quiet about it.

We would rather some things remain opaque, because if they were transparent we would have to acknowledge all our broken stories.

And complicity in such unspeakable sorrow.

Dearest Triplet B

When I lost you
I knew you were never really mine

You have your mother’s face
Your father’s hair
Eyes all your own

For years I marked the days
Knew when your birthday came and went
Saw your face in every crowd

Missed you and wished you well
Because that is what love does

It never stops beating
Down every door for you

I saw every fairy tale through a different lens
Knowing how easy it could be
Excuse me, was…
For Rumpelstiltskin to steal a child
And teach her a world of untrue stories

But in real life
Truth
The Truth
Always sets us free

Do something (brave)

My blog is littered with drafts. I haven’t published anything for awhile because I struggle with–why bother?

In the aftermath of what happened to my family, a lot of people let us down.

It could have been because I was too vocal. It could have been because we were too risky. It could have been a lot of things.

It took a toll on my evaluation of humans. How could so many “nice people” run like rabbits? Or worse. There was always worse.

I battled insomnia. If a person you have fed peanut butter sandwiches can hurt children, the world feels permanently unsafe.

I wrote. I wrote and then wondered why?

Then I began wakeboarding.

I like wakeboarding because no one tells me I can’t do the things that terrify me. In fact, they show me how.

I like it because the people there are brave.

Not just spin-in-the-air brave, but also push-yourself brave.

Many of these brave people restore my faith in our broken world.

Which leads me to “ordinary brave”–

Men who are faithful to their wives are brave.

Judges who prosecute pedophiles are brave.

Health officials who fly into an Ebola epidemic are brave.

Paying your bills and your taxes on time

Holding a lackluster job to provide for your family

Befriending the powerless–

All brave.

When I see brave, I want to be brave.