Restless emotions
caught in still pictures
of desire
blending endlessly
with hope for a future
of possibilities
hidden beneath the surface
of everyday life
where we sleep
with our dreams
of waking up
to more than moments
that pass us by.
It’s never certain
how the story ends
but there’s a soul
weaved into the art you create
and I’ll play the part
I’ve believed
would one day be real.
If I open my eyes
and it’s you who holds the moment
in safe restraint
skin tight against
my fear
I’ll take it slow too
so that time
will finally stand still.


Adoption: The opposite of Truth is a LIE

Lately I’ve been processing Scripture from this perspective:  Assuming the Word of God is Truth, and the Bible is the Word of God–I take a verse from the Bible and re-phrase it to say something totally opposite, so that I can then see the correlating LIE(S).

The reason I’m going to such great lengths to re-read the Truth in comparison to its direct opposite, the LIE is because I want to know how and where to apply the Truth directly so that I can combat the lies I let replay rather frequently in my life.  The longer I hear the lies with no true defense that speaks directly to the LIE(S), the more susceptible I am to living in ambiguity with my ever-so-lovely feelings at the wheel.

You can re-read Scripture by not only changing the verse to say something completely opposite, but by changing your assumed “meaning” of the verse to something completely opposite.  One thing I’ve noticed is that I carry a lot of interpretive baggage along with me.  I have all of these deep seated beliefs about what God thinks of life and sometimes I even have an isolated Scripture to back it up.  But when I read verses in the entirety of their context, well, at least as far as my own brain will reach, it calls my initial understanding of TRUTH into question.  Scary, but normal I suppose.  Because If I’m not mistaken, God does say that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways.  So in my new reading of Scripture, in order to identify the LIE with which I more readily relate, I would re-read that particular verse to say “Our thoughts are higher than God’s thoughts and our ways are higher than God’s ways.”   Well then, there’s the LIE.  Duh. But how often do we live in a way that more accurately depicts a belief that “Surely our way of thinking is higher than God’s?”

If we take it a step further and look at one of my assumed meanings of the true version, “God’s thoughts are higher than mine…His ways are higher than mine,”  another way of saying that might be “God knows best.”  A few contradictions to that particular meaning would be:  “Anna knows best.”  “We know best.”  “Other people know best.”  “God does not know best.”

So in summary, this method allows me to more clearly identify how I’m living my life opposite to the Truth.

What spurred me to write this post is because lately I’ve been noticing A LOT of negative press about adoption.  The reason this negativity jumps out to me in such a startling way is because I’ve adopted and I know firsthand the struggles/negativity that seem to be inherent with doing something that is in line with God’s truth revealed about adoption.  I have two responses when I read the negative press about adoption:

ONE:  I agree.  People should stop adopting.  It isn’t worth it, especially if it doesn’t turn out right.  Why take the risk?  Are you REALLY helping the children?  Why would you put yourself in a situation of trying to be a father or mother to children who may turn against you?
TWO:  The opposite of God’s TRUTH, MUST BE A LIE!!!  As ugly and demented as some of these adoption stories sound…as negative as the details that seem to shroud any goodness at all that comes of adoption, the current focus on the negative aspects of adoption HAS TO BE a tool of Satan himself to dispel what God meant for good.

The negative press about adoption all seems to be given with the noble tone of “Justice for all.”  But to me, it seems more like a ploy to play on our FEARS, so as to push us to collectively ignore the fact that there are STILL many who live day to day with no family that cares, there are numbers upon numbers of children who are completely abandoned with no hope of their biological parent EVER stepping back on the doorstep to claim them as their own.

And now I’ll leave you with the very FIRST verse that led me to begin re-reading Scripture in the first place.  “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  My thought process:  If God has NOT given us the spirit of fear, then my spirit of fear needs to go.

The verse gets even clearer, as we examine our own fears.  If the fear is not of God, then it must be of Satan.  If the fear is of Satan, then it must not be of God.

There you go, BAM.  If your FEARs are keeping you from doing what God says is good, then those FEARs most certainly are not from God.

Adopting is a fearful prospect.  Knowing then, what I know now, if I listen to the “fears” that are perpetrated by the adoption news stories, my own insecurities and Satan’s clever scheme to promote evil in the name of a “better good,”  I would definitely NEVER EVER adopt again.

Do you consider the opposite of Truth to be a lie?  Or are you out there fishing in the middle of nowhere, not sure where truth ends or begins?  How do you go about identifying when your “thinking” veers to the left or the right of God’s Truth?

What “fears” rooted in “lies” paralyze you so that you’re incapable of doing what God commands?


Worldview Challenge

globeWorldview:  a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.  -Dictionary.com
What is your worldview?  What is “your comprehensive image of the universe and humanity’s relation to it?”
Our worldview, if not pushed beyond its limits, is typically a collection of images that flash before our mind as bits and pieces of news, certain scenes of movies, faint memories from childhood, and unspoken expectations about what  entertaining activity might fill our schedule at the next hint of nothingness.  Very rarely do we press pause on how we relate to the world around us.  And even rarer is the occasion that we actually take the time to dissect our worldview to see if it merits a lifetime of continued use.
More often than not, when I’m with family and friends, my worldview goes on auto-pilot.  It’s almost impossible to reconcile in person what can be elaborately reasoned out on paper, so in most conversations, I concede.  Or perhaps this is my convenient excuse for not speaking out when I hesitate to call our family’s collective worldview on the carpet, the one that gets precariously built up with the scraps from our day, around the dinner table.  It isn’t that I believe I have all the answers, it’s just that I feel we need to ask more questions, instead of presuming to have the answers.
Recently, I asked myself how I could challenge my worldview without just stoking the embers of what would otherwise be friendly table talk.  How can I prove what I believe to be true, without defending my point at all?  How can I turn moments of defensive fury or silent antagonistic misery into powerful moments of change–not just “I win. You lose. I’m right. You’re wrong.  I’m smart. You’re stupid.” concessions that keep us all angry at one side of the argument.
Practically, how can I better understand my relationship to the universe?  The older I get, and the more I study the Bible, the more I’m drawn to learn as much as I can about the WORLD Christ died to save and the less I’m concerned about political patriotism.
But back to doing something “practical” that will challenge my OWN Worldview.  I decided to memorize the World Map.  Having memorized N. America, S. America, Europe and starting on Africa…..It’s already changed the way I think and respond to others.  Seems kind of silly to write it out loud, but if I’m to begin formulating an opinion about myself and others in relation to the WHOLE UNIVERSE…it seems like revisiting my world map and learning where the world news happens around me, is a good place to start.
For those of you who are light-years ahead of me, please excuse my ignorance.
I challenge you to do something that will change your worldview.  For better or worse.

Navy Yard Shooting – The Thoughts that Count

Forgiveness requires a crucifixion of self.

Washington DC Shooting Suspect

What we think determines how we feel.  Or does it?  Because if we’re so sure that our thoughts shape our feelings, wouldn’t it make sense for us to spend a deliberate amount of time trying to discipline our thought life?  Yet most of us continue to enjoy the luxury (or the curse) of letting our thoughts run wild until surprisingly we end up somewhere we never meant to go.  Once we arrive at the point of no return and we’re stuck on one thought that  keeps incessantly replaying in our minds, the accompanying feeling gradually builds until we either explode or implode.  Explode, means we think something for so long that it becomes a part of who we are and we start reacting to others according to what we’re thinking.  No one knows when the next explosion will occur and anything could spark it.  Everyone is certain there is something wrong with us, they’re just not sure how to deal with us accordingly because they don’t know what we’re REALLY thinking.  They’re only aware of external factors that might be affecting our mood.

Implode, means we self inflict the misery of certain thoughts for so long that we eventually spring a leak and a toxic feeling is released as a slow drip within (that actually also affects us physically).  However, when something triggers the thought or group of thoughts one too many times it results in breakage of the dam and everything just starts rushing out within.  But all of the toxic waste stays contained on the inside therefore causing us to collapse emotionally or mentally.  Others may be surprised when we’re no longer able to get out of bed because they were completely unaware that we’d been habitually struggling with certain thoughts.  We may feel weak physically and unable to muster the energy of interacting with others, because every social encounter requires us to momentarily ignore what we’re thinking and that requires unsustainable levels of energy.

I’ve been thinking (surprise – surprise) a lot lately about forgiveness and what it means because while I want to forgive others, I find it next to impossible to do so.  People like to say that forgiveness does NOT mean that you have to ignore the injustice or flippantly excuse someone’s bad behavior.  But I’m beginning to believe that forgiveness, at least a large element of forgiveness, is just that:  Disciplining your mind to transform the “thoughts” regarding someone’s injustice toward you.

So many of us do not know whether our thoughts or our feelings come first.  But specifically, in the case of forgiveness, let us explore how we might change the way we feel about someone by changing the way we think about what they’ve purportedly done wrong.  Because in my own life I’ve concluded that if forgiveness cannot also eliminate the negative feelings I have about someone, then what is the point?  When is forgiveness complete?  If Jesus forgives our sins but still feels sick to His stomach when He sees us, what good is that?  None of us wants to be loathed, even when we know we’re acting like dirty rotten scoundrels.  Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so is His forgiveness complete before or after we ask for it?  Do you expect others to ask for your forgiveness before you forgive them?  Did Jesus say, “I’ll die on the cross for your sins, if you’ll just admit that you sinned first.”  Doesn’t this one little contingency affect the psychology of how we live and interact with others who have presumably done us wrong?

In my own little world of having been mistreated (or so I think) by the same people habitually, I’ve come to the realization that the first step of forgiveness is action in regard to my thoughts.  I must first take the disciplined action of finding a new way to think about that person before I can stand to look at them again.  And when the process of forgiveness is complete, it may seem like an instant miracle to others, but on the inside, I know that forgiveness was a process, a journey toward the culmination of allowing myself to be crucified for the sins of someone else.  Only after forgiveness has culminated to the point of us being able to genuinely say “Father, please forgive them because they have no idea how they’ve hurt me,”  will we know that “It is finished.”  And oh what an awesome day that will be.

Imagine the peace, the finality of being able to commend your spirit to God in complete forgiveness of what someone’s done to you.  Imagine finally seeing someone the way that Jesus sees them, as helpless slaves to their will and emotion, never fully realizing the impact of their actions on others.

But what a painstaking journey it is, to fight the thoughts, the demons that spit on you and kick you while you’re down.  How humiliating it is to be stripped of our dignity by insult added to injury, by someone’s incessant need to see just how much they can make us suffer before they finally put us out of our misery.  And the only thing that can make this kind of pain bearable, is to keep walking toward the cross in surrender to a higher calling, a new resurrection where our wounds no longer bleed, where the evidence of our pain still exists but only as a testament to the fact that we’ve risen above what was meant to keep us down, down low in the grave, fighting the thoughts, fighting the desire to resist our cross and seek a greater revenge.

But it is our human tendency to run away from forgiveness by trying to figure out someone’s motive, by trying to predict if it will happen again, by possibly excusing their actions as insanity-something way beyond their control, or by retaliating-protecting ourselves by trying to cause them more pain than they’ve caused us.  Our mind runs crazy with trying to figure out how we can logically forgive.  One thought leads to another and if we’re not careful, we might find ourselves in the position of plotting revenge because no matter how much we “think” it through, it will just never make any sense to die on a cross for someone else’s sins.

In light of the multiple mass shootings that continue to occur, most recent in Washington, D.C. at the Navy Yard, albeit on the mind of the killer(s) was how they might avenge those who had in some way, personally or corporately, done them wrong.  And in these instances, do we think Jesus’ long ago plea still holds relevance? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” “But how could they do that?” we say.  They knew EXACTLY what they were doing.  They are evil.  How could someone be so evil?  They need to pay for what they did.  And yet there is no exploration, no reflection on how evil is a cycle, a cycle of which we all take part.  And we fail to realize that the person who committed those crimes was saying the exact same thing, “They need to pay for what they did.”  Perhaps it was a long wrestle with their demons, one too many times that they had been wronged by someone else.  They tried to forgive, but they were shocked to discover that forgiveness means a painful death to self, not lashing out at others until reconciliation comes, but choosing to be crucified in the face of how others keep doing you wrong and will never see the light or feel sorry for their actions.

I feel a part of that pain, the pain of someone who believes they can’t keep walking toward their cross, the pain of someone who decides to abandon their cross because they believe seeing others bleed might be a quicker way to relief.  I relate to the need to ease their own pain, to struggle to escape their own death that seems inevitable at the hands of mercenaries who make a mockery of them by the laws they instate and the polices they create.  In ignorance, they lobby against our cause, not knowing how they force us into a corner where we instinctively feel the need to come un-caged.   I see the irony of how self preservation looks like self destruction to everyone else and I too defend myself and my family with illogical semi-automatic moves to protect and preserve the part of us inside that others fight to tear down.

So all the while, I pray to God that I continue to take the journey of forgiveness until I’m able to completely forgive those who do not deserve my forgiveness.  In this moment of seeing myself as the outraged gunman, who had imploded or exploded as a result of thinking the wrong thoughts for too long, I plead with God that He’d change my thinking before I do the unthinkable–even if what we think we’re capable of doesn’t seem so bad in comparison to killing a dozen people in cold blooded murder.

What was he thinking?

Are we willing to admit that we’re unwilling to be crucified by forgiveness and that we’d much rather place conditions on our feelings toward others?

Perhaps we would then see that self righteousness is the first obstacle on the journey toward true forgiveness.


God, If You’re Real

God, if you’re real
Then where are you
When right now
Somewhere in this world
There’s a child
Hopeless and alone
Feeling a heap of shame
That they inherited
Passed down
To them
Because parents do
What their parents did
Distorted images
Struggling humans
Just fighting for the breath
To stay alive 9 to 5
No time to process the hint of pain
That chips away at our soul little by little
To pass it down old and stale.
And when the heart is beating
Faster than I can comprehend
I ask myself again
Where were you when
We started feeling like
This might be the end
And gradually began
To numb our pain with substance
More real than your presence today.
Where are you when my friend
She who works hard
At being loved
Can’t sleep at night
Because the dark hovers
Just a little too loudly
Over her bed
The bed she did not make
For herself.
But that someone violently made for her.
Forging memories never meant to be made.
It’s hard to be a testament
Of your elusive love
When I feel so far beyond
Your reach
The reach of something grand.
We sing, take comfort in
Recitations of peace
That keep evading those of us
Who can’t see the good
In secret places
Of our buried past
That you’re supposed to resurrect
Memories of salvation
Redemption that makes it all white as snow
And not just bloody races against time
Moments of silence
Where our thoughts refuse to stop telling us
Who we really are.  And why they did what they did.
God, most certain you’re real.
Because we keep killing ourselves
Trying to find you
Reconcile our struggles
With the outcome
And what we’re living for
Is resolve
Healing that I don’t see
In the lives of those who say they’ve been saved.
Where are you if you’re real
I think I feel you at the shrillest point
Of awareness
That our hearts and minds
Are just as fragile as the body
With which we struggle to co-exist.
Your love, the idea that you exist-a fair judge who would never prey
On vulnerabilities of children who just hope to believe
That this time there really is no condition, on being accepted
Moments that I cry out to feel you near
In the moment of thick loneliness
Where we all keep it inside
Because we’re afraid of being known.
Something much smaller
Miniscule hope that pales in comparison
To the looming darkness of my fear
That grips each moment of interaction with others
It doesn’t rescue me all at once
It longs for a complete salvation
The one in finality where you don’t just stop my tears
for a moment so that I don’t pull the trigger
On a better future now.
But where all the sins of even those who’ve sinned against me
And the tears they cried over their own darkness
Will forever be wiped away.


Syria Conflict & Bible Prophecy

Sarin gas victim, Syria

Sarin gas victim, Syria (Photo credit: Ninian Reid)

O.k., first let me say that I am by no means a Bible scholar.  I just wish to shed light on a subject that has come to the the forefront as of recent, even making its way to national news outlets such as Fox News:  Whether the recent activity in Syria points to the impending fulfillment of Bible prophecy or not.  http://video.foxnews.com/v/2660399900001/biblical-prophecy-of-syrian-crisis/

Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I grew up with a healthy or unhealthy fear of the “end times.”  I used to feel afraid when I saw my dad watching the world news.  Some of the things I saw happening in other countries just seemed very scary.  And I knew that these events were analyzed in my immediate sphere of influence as a sign of the end times.  It also seemed that the election of certain presidents throughout my childhood hinted at the demise of “Christianity” and the final judge and rule of God.  But I’m not quite sure where I picked up that idea.  So no pointing fingers.

At a young age, I just wanted all of the scary stuff to go away.  I wanted to live in hope for my future and believe that I’d live a full and happy life regardless of what was happening around the world.

Somewhere in the span of my “finding a mate” years, my attention was never drawn to subjects such as Biblical prophecy and my mind was mainly focused on building a family and making money to support that family.

Fast forward to an irreversible adulthood and the awareness of my existence has shrunken to a meaningless speck of dust on the world map.  And it seems impossible to ignore all the signs of something happening- that surround me.  My point of reference keeps shifting though–like I’m getting jerked back and forth by one of those unfriendly roller coasters that may or may not be safe.

One day, I’m living on the surface, aware that I need to take my daughter to school, make sure a few shirts are ironed, cook dinner for my family, go to bed only to wake up and do it again.  On another day, I come across videos of children (who are my children’s ages) in Syria choking from some sort of chemical weapon attack.  And on yet another day, to my spirit’s regret, I waste my time watching one of the Hollywood movies that to me, makes light of some of the most gruesome acts of violence against humanity one could think to commit- all in the name of entertainment.

Amidst all of this, I read articles about the latest “trends” in worship and how it affects a Christian’s “experience” of God.  In-between I get stuck on some message boards of naysayers who are making self-assured fun of the Biblical nuts who keep getting their prophecy timelines wrong.  And then I sporadically think, well even if I’m nuts, perhaps it would be advantageous for me to at least call attention on Twitter and Facebook to the recent correlation between the latest happenings in Syria and the possible fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

So then I Tweet.   And I wonder if the “Christians” who “follow” me on Twitter will re-tweet, so that they may be a conduit of some “warning” that ‘all may not be well in the world’ and in fact that ‘Jesus may be coming soon, so don’t worry so much about what to eat or drink or post on Twitter.’  That the next worship retreat may be a little less relevant in the scheme of global news.  But not one person has re-tweeted me yet.  And not one person on FB has shared my update or liked it, for that matter.

What is interesting, or at least to me, is that it isn’t the current events that led me to explore my Bible.  It was my Bible that led me to explore current events (I was reading some prophetic passages in the Old Testament and remembered something about Syria that had passed my mind in the form of a dream, so I Googled Syria and Bible prophecy).  The more I read my Bible, the more the culture in which I live seems extremely irrelevant and almost sinisterly laughable.  But don’t get me wrong, I do question my sanity and the way that I process Scripture.

I assume that the reason Bible passages seem in such stark contrast to how I’m currently gauging my life’s meaning, is because my reading of the Bible is biased toward the way I was raised–to believe that the Bible is actually true and not just a book from which to pick random passages to recite on Sunday morning.  Call me crazy, but what is the point of believing in God, if we do not at the same time, believe we are a part of the history or future of things prophesied in God’s Word?

I absolutely hate the fact that the Bible inconveniences us in such a way that it doesn’t exactly align with the fairy tales we tell our children.  But how can we go to church Sunday after Sunday (or stay at home Sunday after Sunday), purporting to be Christians, yet disassociating ourselves with the reality of the tragic events that are ACTUALLY happening across the world?  And by disassociating, I mean continuing to live the same lifestyle, the lifestyle that by all outward appearance gives witness to the fact that we do not actually believe God is an active agent in the world.  Our moments of silence will only take us so far.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not sure what I believe.  I say I believe in Jesus because I think I believe that’s what will save me from hell.   I say I believe in God’s Word because it’s what gives testament to the other things which I also say I believe.   But my days are more concerned with my life from the angle of my lifetime on earth, NOT with my life from the perspective of eternity.  Half of my time is spent languishing the fact that I’m not more popular or that I’m not one of those “cool” people who easily attracts friends.  The other half of my time is spent regretting the inconvenience of knowing there are others who have less than me.

For those who say the Bible should be completely written off as a collection of fables, they only say that from the comfort and safety of their own couch.  I guarantee you that if they were a little closer to the happenings in the major parts of the world where war and famine reign, they would think a little bit harder about “choosing this day who’d they serve.”  They’d spend a little less time laughing at Hollywood’s sick disregard for humanity and a little bit more time fighting for life, fighting to find the Truth about life and death because death seems a wee bit more inevitable.

So how is Syria and Biblical prophecy related to us?  Why does it matter if we believe in God’s Word or not?  Are world events relevant to us and our children?  What is the safety, the assurance that you hold in your heart today?  From firsthand experience, having been exposed to International politics in some round about ways, I can tell you that America is a stack of cards.  I love the fact that I was born in America and that I’ve been safe up to this point–that I have freedom to write what I’m writing and that my children weren’t just gassed to death by our government.  But don’t be fooled, God is not mocked.  America is not our Savior and peace is only God’s to give.

I don’t understand why so many Americans and even Christians laugh off the talk about “impending doom.”  But yet they love to watch movies about aliens and disease that threaten to destroy humanity in a final showdown after which only TWO humans will survive thereafter to populate the earth again.  Do you see the irony in millions of dollars being spent to give moviegoers the high of watching criminal activities take place on a big screen, when the evil is ACTUALLY alive and well in our world, killing the lives of many?

Maybe the reason we’re so slow to believe, is because we’ve never been face to face with death.

Perhaps the reason Christianity is becoming more and more irrelevant is because it’s become the religion of marginality.

If in fact, we spent a few days up against famine and sword, our hearts and minds would turn to finding answers beyond our own reason and imagination.

Some will say it’s selfish for others to “focus” on impending doom, stealing the “quality” of life away from their children by turning into apocalyptic nuts.  And I used to feel the same, as a child who still felt or hoped that I had a lifetime to live.  But what about all the children who were just gassed?  Is it fair to them that we evaluate life only by our own sense of “national security?”

I could go on.


Focus on the Vision

Almost everything we enjoy, cannot be enjoyed in its entirety until we realize that what we enjoy will most always be accompanied by the mundane tasks that make our moments of pleasure possible and we in turn, set ourselves up to focus on the vision, not the next step.

Take music for instance.  One of the absolute most pleasurable moments of music for me is to direct a choir in its polished form on a song that contains the concentration of emotion that has built over weeks or months of polishing each intricate detail.

But the journey to that performance is laden with the mundane, the long and tedious stress of wondering whether it will ever come together, the laborious rehearsals where everything goes wrong–when the effort of choir members seems to be lackluster at best.

Why is it that we define our lives, our day-to-day existence by the journey and not the end result?  Why, when we awaken in the mornings, do we not first think of the end result, instead of the steps of drudgery we must take in order to get there?

It is really hard to let the vision of our “end result” shape our daily activities.  Too often, the complaints of others, the voice of our own insecurities, memories of our past failures and overwhelming prep work destroy our vision and we give up short of that brilliant performance.

I for one, habitually awaken to the remembrance of the next step I need to take, instead of an intentional reminder of the desired “end result.”

No matter what your life’s calling…if God has given you a vision of the “end result,” if He’s given you a glimpse of who you may one day become, intentionally create reminders of that vision and stay inspired by focusing on the end result.  Life can get awfully dark and dreary when the only thing we focus on is taking our next step.

Life is more than putting one foot in front of the other.

There is a vision, a finished product, a postcard finish line.

Instead of filling your calendar this month with reminders about what you need to do next to reach your goals, why don’t you fill your calendar with reminders about the vision of who you hope to become?

Here are a few reminders for me this week: