don’t you fold, gram and gramps

“Seems like kids don’t respect anyone these days… they don’t even respect themselves.” Gram was telling me stories of the kids on her afternoon bus route, “I just don’t know anymore.”

“Well, we’ve got to hold on to hope… because if we don’t have hope what do we have?” I kind of threw it out there hoping it wouldn’t sound as trite as it felt.

I told her to pass that on to Grandpa and that’s when I found out he was on the line too. I could see the whole scene unfold in my mind: Grandma picked up the phone by the computer and when she said, “Well, Caroline, hello!” she made a motion for Gramps to get on the other line and he went into the kitchen to listen in.

Anyway, so Grandpa was in the kitchen, Grandma was in the living room and I was on my way to make my lunch and walk the dog. Grandpa said, “I just wake up every morning and thank God for another day. I say, ‘God, help me not waste this day because it’s a gift.’ And I just got to keep thinking like that.”

I smiled and I hoped they heard it in my voice. Grace and thanks. Thanks and grace.

We can’t persuade ourselves into an attitude of thanks. We are predisposed to passivity when it comes to thanks, if it wasn’t for grace. Only by the grace of God can we look at the world (and at the children who lack respect for themselves or others) and see hope. But it is also only by the grace of God that we can look at the world and see how dark and dreadful it is without hope.

God gives us grace to see darkness and grace to see light and grace to recognize the difference, because we must know from where we came.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)

And such were some of you. Paul is clear about who will inherit the kingdom of God, but he is also clear that the Gospel is not about keeping people out. The Gospel is about bringing people in and, with the transforming power of God alone, making them new. When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, he doesn’t have them all stand by the windows so he can point out sinners walking down the street. No, Paul reminds them of their own lives before they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.

After youth group tonight, I invited a student out to coffee and while I was in the bathroom she overheard a table of middle-aged men chatting about how one of them “scored” on a young blonde.

It’s true – people don’t respect others or even themselves anymore and it’s not just the children on my grandparents’ bus routes. It’s so true it makes me sick to my stomach. Sin has a way of smothering my heart and suffocating my lungs. It’s just so … dreadfully ugly.

But weren’t we once this dreadfully ugly?

God is gracious in allowing us to see sin and evil because only then will we see the weight of grace in our own deliverance.

Don’t fold, Gram and Gramps. Don’t you fold when you’re driving those precious children and they’re running the aisles with arms flailing and curses like sailors. Love because He first loved you.

There’s a lot a darkness out there, so don’t you fold.

Don’t you fold
When the mountain is high,
When the river is wide
Don’t you fold
When you’re out of your mind,
When you’re walking the line

why a scrunched up nose is never becoming

Awhile back my brother said something that got under my skin. I mean, really got good and messy – hit a nerve I think because I flared up real defensive like.

He said he hoped I wasn’t becoming a cynic.

I scoffed and stuttered and scrunched up my nose in protest. Cynic? Me? The one who thinks optimistically about how many plans can be overlapped in one day and about how many grocery bags can be carried at once and that if you sing a song loud enough or dance a jig brave enough the whole world will notice? Me?

I didn’t take it very well.

He brought it up because I wasn’t really a fan of the newest social justice movement to hit social media. I wasn’t against it, necessarily, but I wasn’t throwing money in their direction either. The way I described it to my brother Sam was like this, “There are a lot of good things going on out there – a lot of people doing good. I just choose to support other causes.”

Recently, while reading “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller, I decided it was about the shape of my eyes and the scrunch of my nose when I look at the world. I would never describe myself as a cynic, but there are times when I look at the world like nothing is possible. Like we’re “headed to hell in a handbasket” and “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – all the older folk, that is, who sit in the diners with 50 cent bottomless coffees and talk about how “everything’s gone to pot.”

Maybe that’s when having an old soul is unfortunate – when you feel like you’ve seen enough of life to know that people don’t follow through and good causes are corrupt and you can’t even trust your own resolve.

That’s when I realized the danger of furrowed eyebrows and a scrunched up nose. There’s no wonder in that facial expression; no joy in the possibility of ANYTHING being possible. The danger of furrowed eyebrows and a scrunched up nose is what we don’t want to grow up into. Because we never want to grow out of wide-eyed wonder. Never. Well, I don’t at least. I always want to breathe hope in with deep, lung-filling breaths.

I want to live like everything is possible – like one person really can move a mountain by faith or bring a rainstorm with prayer or heal a paralytic with petitions. I want to believe that God could paint the sky in new colors tonight and that tomorrow I could wake up and not need my glasses (I always squint like spiderman to see if I’m cured).

I want to live like everything is possible because a scrunched up nose is never becoming. It’s  not attractive to throw water on the fire in people’s bellies and I think that’s sometimes what I do with my scrunched up nose.

Today was gloriously opposite a scrunched up nose. Today FILLED to overflowing with possibility and I’m still drinking it in as my fingers stiffen with the cool, autumn air on the back porch. Today, my eyes were wide with the wonder of Creation singing the praise of its Creator while I breathed in deep so I could sing along.

I sent my brother a text the other day to thank him for calling me out. It probably seemed strange that it took me so long, but I’m thankful even if I am slow in learning.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy


Thanks, Amanda, for delighting my ears with this brilliance!