In Response: On God and The Universe

Under the dome of the planetarium I grasped for the universe and the God who holds it in his hands, my tiny palm upturned to receive… under the night sky.

My eyes, I realized, so inadequate to take in the world around me, while this God, so infinite, could crush me. But he doesn’t.

He loved so he chose creation out of man’s destruction in the garden. A story he knew he would create before the formless was formed.

Under Orion’s Belt in the night sky there is a nebula, I understand, called Messier 42. Full of helium and hydrogen, shaping stars in the chaos, order in the dust cloud brings creation during destruction.

On Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, a volcano pulses water and ice instead of lava out of a frozen tundra of -330 degrees Fahrenheit. And Venus can reach temperatures of 900 degrees Fahrenheit while life microbes may exist on Mars.

All the while I live on this spinning orb that is tilted at the perfect angle so the sun doesn’t burn me to death, in the exact location in relation to the moon for tidal flow. Everything we need for existence clasped in the hands of mother earth.

When I think of God The Creator, I anthropomorphically picture Him breathing the same air I breathe and eating salads, drinking water, inhaling oxygen in lungs like mine, only more magnificent.

Then I learn about solar systems and how the nearest star would take over 10,000 years to visit, and then listen to the sound of the spinning rings on Saturn captured by the Cassini spacecraft.

And there are more stars than I can see.

Many more stars-

As many as 10^24 of them-

And I am small.

Hazardous terrain is not perilous to Him. He does not need anything from this earth or Neptune or Pluto. He is Other.

Reaching, with a pinch, he could enclose that cavern (Valles Marineris) on Mars that’s almost four times the depth of the Grand Canyon. He could blink and the universe could expand or contract and he remains the same.

I am clay in my potter’s hands. He forms me, still forming me, as the stars and the planets and the space in between. He breathes life and defines life, because he is Life- us made in his image- in the image of the I AM.

And I groan to be who I was intended to be, in communion with the living God, breathing air the eternal breathed -longing, in expectation and bursting with potential like the cosmos in His hands.

I try to grasp how the universe expands and contracts in labor pains, at one time a point in His mouth, now ever growing until He returns to set it right again.

I raise my tiny palm to the night sky in worship, still discovering the God who discovered me before the foundations of the world.

Isn’t discovery a gift? I ask myself. The act of not knowing and asking, probing, always wondering, then the revelation of what is or always has been and what I haven’t known. It is a gift from him-

Like Mary at Jesus’ feet when he visited her home and Jesus said to her sister, Martha, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:42).” There is beauty in the gift of keeping the discovery. He gives us the privilege of hiding it away and mulling it over or sharing it with other explorers, grasping for purpose in this universe.

If I could truly grapple how big my God is, then my vices and trials would appear insignificant. Mary discovered this. If He, larger than me, hangs the earth over nothing (Job 26:7 NLT) and he holds all existence together like “a head does a body (John 1:3-5 The Message)” and if he made “The world to be lived in (Isaiah 45:18 NLT),” then I should live the rest of my days with the purpose of discovering Him in the world- in

the caress of my husband’s hands,
the magnificence of the mountains,
the serene sound of waves on a beach,
the beauty of the stars in a country sky,
the craftsmanship in moving limbs,
the intricate details on the back of a spider,
the giganticness of the continents,
the tremble of my lips as I cry,
the treasure found after a bitter season-

Palms raised, always raised, in expectation and discovery of his creation in me- my fulfillment because he became an oxygen-breathing, goose bump wearing, blood-pumping, food-eating human to hug creation to himself.

The Woman God has Called Beautiful

I choose to be a beautiful woman, the one God created me to be.

I refuse to believe the lies that were meant for me, the ones that arise in the night, in my dreams- the distorted face with painted lips and hair curled, wide-eyed beyond sanity.

I refuse to give in to the terror of conformity, the contradiction of creativity, that lie that’s not beauty.

I choose to love the intended me, the woman of virtue, who holds her head high only because she is inwardly bowing low.

I choose this because I am worth it. He thought of me before I existed. He has given me value. I am not worth what the enemy says I am. Jesus died for me. I was worth that much.

I choose this because I am created in God’s image. He formed me in my mother’s womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I was not a mistake.

I choose this because I am loved. He has written my name on the palm of his hand and proclaimed his dedication through his death. His banner over me is love.

I choose this because he delights in me. He dances over me. He desires me. I am my beloveds and he is mine.

I am beautiful because He exists.
I am beautiful because He lives.

Who am I to contradict the God who has created me? I am His.

I, the loved.
I, the wanted.
The woman God has called beautiful.

In Response: From One Jonah to Another

Excerpts from Jonah 2: Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry… When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, and my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple… But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!” Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore.

In Response

Salvation belongs to God, not ourselves. Our own efforts can only take us so far. We can only carry the burdens for so long before we break. Jonah fled when God asked him to obey. He wanted to be “the master of his fate*” when in the end, in the belly of a fish, he realized the impossibility of rescue without someone to be his rescuer.

I’m learning, like Jonah in the depths of the sea, what it means to relinquish control of the outcomes in my life and rest moment-by-moment in the journey; learning to trust, to untangle my fingers from around the mess. Let it fall to the depths where Christ, The Rescuer, has already won.

When we hand over control, God doesn’t just salvage and jerry-rig our life to become a somewhat functioning machine. He makes us brand new so when people see us, the mess is replaced by a new creation, reflecting a whole, image-bearer of God.

Don’t for one minute think The Prowling One will let us go without a fight. We are valuable to God, so Satan delights in our destruction. But every time my white-knuckled grasp loosens, I’m choosing to trust in God’s nature, in his goodness and in what he has done. I’m choosing to act on the faithfulness I’ve seen in my history with him and the truth in his Word.

His death and resurrection didn’t just save us from separation from him at our death, we are saved now. My question is, are we living as people who have been saved? Do we acknowledge our Rescuer from the belly of the fish? 

 

*Invictus by William Ernest Henley

A Little Advice on Motherhood

When I think about all that I’ve read about what it means to be pregnant and a mother of young children, I am overwhelmed with advice, warnings, other’s experiences, statistics, research. We are supposed to do this but not that unless this other thing is present then you should really try this. If all those things fail, curl up in a ball and suck your thumb because you are a failure of creation.

My freezer was half full of chicken, beef and turkey bones I planned to use to make bone broth but ended up tossing (you know, because bone broth is the renewer of most things right in your gut). The other half of the freezer consisted of chicken and calf liver, both of which I had every intention of dehydrating, powdering and making into pill form because of the health benefits for nursing and pregnant moms. It never happened. Add in a few old frozen bananas and you now know why you never see me shop in the frozen section. There is never enough storage.

There are like 500 kinds of foods we are supposed to avoid during pregnancy.

-Eat fish! But don’t eat too much fish because of mercury.
-Eat dairy for calcium! Oh, but not that dairy because it is not pasteurized.
-Always wash your vegetables!
-No alcohol!
-No caffeine!
-Nothing unpasteurized!
-No raw eggs (goodbye cookie dough)!
-No deli meat!

It’s a wonder the human race has survived all these years.

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Forget about food. What about all the other advice?

-Some nameless older individuals advised me to toughen my nipples with a washcloth before breastfeeding. Guess who complied?
-Rub your perineum with coconut oil before birth to loosen it up and prevent tearing…
-Do Kegel exercises so you don’t pee your pants when the baby stands on your bladder…
-Exercise and stretch these certain ways so your body is prepared and the baby is in position…
-Rub your belly with coconut oil because no one should have stretch marks after their baby is born…
-Never sleep on your back because your baby could die…
-During labor, relax, despite the watermelon coming out of your vagina…
-Never lay your baby on its belly because it could die…
-Don’t use a crib bumper because your baby could die…
-Use this product so your baby doesn’t die…
-Never use a pacifier or your child will be stuck in the Freudian oral stage…

It’s enough to make you go mad, which is the real reason why new moms don’t sleep. Forget the fact that we are in essence a dairy cow, called upon every two hours for a milking, our eyes are pinned open at night with the knowledge coming at us from every angle about all the ways our child could die or be permanently damaged. My local MOPS group is my mental health asylum, where others like me go to get treatment in the form of laughter, coffee and the occasional meltdown.

For those who know me, you know I value healthy eating and lifestyle, I co-slept with my last one until 9-months old and nursed her until she was 2 1/2. I just finished a batch of chicken broth, I take probiotics, make fermented foods and plan to go o’natural during labor, so this rant is for myself as well. The thing is, with all the mommy bloggers and articles and research at our fingertips, it can be paralyzing to make decisions. Knowledge is power, but with the inundation of information, I find sometimes there is too much for my brain to process.

We must not forget that we are not in this alone. God is with us. img_0623

The Holy Spirit is The Comforter, so who better to go to for learning about comforting our children? He is ever-present, so who better to go to for advice on being present in our kids lives? God is all-knowing, so who better to go to for wisdom on what to do in every situation?

“If you love me, show it by doing what I’ve told you. I will talk to the Father, and he’ll provide you another Friend so that you will always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth… You know him already because he has been staying with you, and will even be in you (John 14:15-17 MSG)!”

The key? Not just listening, but listening to the right voice. His voice. I can think of many times His voice guided me in regards to decisions with my daughter, even the small decisions.

If I were to put my trust solely in mommy bloggers and research to decide for me, everyone would have told me something different, from one end of the spectrum to the other.

This leads each of us to the question, “Where does our hope come from?”

Does it come from doing everything right? Does it come from doing everything like the mom with whom you compare yourself? Does it come from following every bit of research, every recommendation exactly?

If we put our hope in those things, we will always be disappointed. I lost my first pregnancy even though I did everything right. I lost two others as well. All would be hopeless in those situations if my foundation was on anything but God. Speaking of Christ, scripture reads, “Look! I’m setting a stone in Zion, a cornerstone in the place of honor. Whoever trusts in this stone as a foundation will never have cause to regret it (1 Peter 2:6 MSG).”

So, as I move forward as a mother to young kids, I will do my best and be wise with the information I have, but I will not measure my success on what research I’ve read, who I see succeeding or how many mommy blogs I’ve referenced. My success is based on who I decide to listen to and on whom I place my hope.

Now excuse me, I have a pot of bone broth on the stovetop to which I must attend.

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