Monthly Archives: April 2018

When the Bad Guys Lose

My 4-year-old son, Collin, gets really into movies…  He peeks between his fingers or gets up and hides around the corner during scary parts.   He kicks and karate chops alongside the hero, during spectacular fight scenes. And he furrows his eyebrows in genuine concern when it looks like all hope is lost.  (That is, until he reminds himself what his daddy and I have said many times: “The good guys always win…eventually. Just be patient.”)

We introduced our three “big kids” to the movie Matilda the other day.  Our newborn wasn’t very impressed. But Collin and 7-year-old Cami were deeply impacted by the story of adults treating a little girl so badly.  I mean, really, the entire movie is one shocking display of child abuse after another…until Matilda discovers her powers.

Hopefully I’m not spoiling it for anyone, but by the end of the movie, Matilda has figured out how to undo many of the wrongs that were committed–including returning a doll and chocolates that had been stolen from her beloved teacher.  The climax of the story happens in a moment of poetic justice, when the principal known for throwing children out the window gets tossed out the window herself!

…My Collin literally jumped up on the back of the couch, pumped his fist in the air, and cheered.   “YEAAAAAAAH!!”

The good guys won.  Matilda had owned Miss Trunchbull.

And my little boy celebrated the justice.


Today I read an opinion piece by Daniel Darling, which was brought to my attention by Peter Heck. Both men write to remind Christians that their job on earth isn’t to pound God’s enemies into sand.

I think all serious apologists need to examine their hearts from time to time and make sure their priorities are in order.  As Heck writes:

“…our efforts must be focused around and pointed towards building the Kingdom through the proclamation of truth, not building our own following through the humiliation of another person.”

He’ll get no argument from me on that point.

It’s about God–not about us.

But what concerns me is whether Christians have begun feeling shame over their natural love of justice. 

Are we losing touch with our childlike desire to see the Good Guys win? Is it a problem to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the Truth make a Truth-denier look like an idiot?

See, my goal isn’t to tear down people.   But, when a person stupidly, voluntarily aligns himself with the Father of Lies, then he’s in a position to go down with the ship.

I would love the chance to snatch an enemy from the wreckage before the big explosion and the rolling credits.  If there are any former Bad Guys who are ready to switch allegiance and join the Good Guys, they will be welcomed with tears of joy! (Think of Scrooge or The Grinch.)

But, if an Atheist insists on being Miss Trunchbull, abusing children of God, then Miss Trunchbull is going to get tossed out a window.

…and I’m going to love it.

Can I help loving when the Bad Guys lose?   More importantly:  should I curb that response?

A few years ago, after Osama Bin Laden was found and killed, many American Christians tried to talk their brothers and sisters out of the celebration.  (I wrote “Don’t Stop my Party” in response.)   Essentially, I concluded that it’s very good to feel satisfaction in seeing justice done.

It’s good to be drawn to battles where Truth goes against Falsehood–and to feel that surge of relief and pleasure when Truth (inevitibly) dominates in a total knockout.

Sure, mere humans need to be careful not to take credit for their amazing powers. We didn’t event Truth, so it’s a mistake to feed our egos as if WE are the superheroes…

But we are in a war here.

There are serious injustices and abuses going on.

If you walk into the average church and asked a random attendee to defend a basic belief, he or she probably won’t have an answer ready.  Christians largely are fearful and uncertain, and, what’s more, there are non-believers willingly doing the work of evil who are tossing these fearful children out windows.

It’s looking pretty hopeless in those corners!

That’s why our spirits rise and we want to cheer, when a competent Culture Warrior shows up, clothed in Christ, and absolutely smashes the foolishness.

It reminds us that we have chosen Power and Light and Truth over the poor alternative.

It encourages us to keep fighting the good fight–because truth and justice will prevail, when we’re patient.

I don’t think Darling and Heck would disagree with any of the things I’m saying here. But I’m open to some balance on my persepctive, if anyone wants to debate me.  (And get OWNED!!!)

(Ha. Just kidding.)

Seriously, whenever I read quotes or watch debates involving great theologians, I want to jump up on the back of my couch, pump a fist in the air, and shout “YEAH!!!!”

Is that so wrong?

Advice the World Won’t Give You (Part 7)

Dear Children,

It’s your mother again!   And this time, instead of giving YOU advice, I want to give advice to my future-self about how to relate with you when you are adults.  (If you are reading this as an adult, you have my current-self’s permission to remind future-me that I said all of this.)

My opinions may change, of course.  But,  I NEVER WANT TO GUILT TRIP YOU INTO SPENDING TIME WITH ME!!!

All the time I see empty-nesters posting warnings about how “one day you will miss your parents”  and “your mom won’t be around forever, you know?!”

And it’s fine if they’re just posting a reminder for themselves that they want to call their own mom in the near future…

…but most of the time, their own mothers are gone…

…and they sit around thinking guilty thoughts about how they “woulda shoulda coulda” done more…

…and they worry they messed up…

…and they feel down on themselves…

…so they decide to share some of that guilt with their kids by saying in no uncertain terms, “YOU’RE GOING TO BE SORRY ONCE I’M DEAD!”

Spend Time with Your Parents

My darlings, let me tell you what I really, really hope I’m able to do instead.   I hope someday, when you’re too busy to call me, I’ll realize it is because you’re taking care of my grandchildren and changing the world, and I hope I think triumphantly, “I’ve done it!”

I’ve accomplished my mission!

Your success will be my success, and I hope I’m able to cheer (from a distance, if necessary), with the proper perspective.

I hope my flexibility and my love for you will make it so that you WANT to call or visit home as much as possible.   But, even if “as much as possible” is pretty rarely, I hope I can remember just how difficult it is to be a young adult balancing work and child-rearing and home projects.

I hope I remember it’s actually a GOOD thing you aren’t sitting in my basement, with nothing to do and nowhere to go.  (If you spent all your time still eating and playing and sleeping right next to me, we would have a problem.)

I hope I’m able to celebrate with you because smart and successful people are looked up to and depended upon and needed for many, many things…and it only adds stress if they have an insecure Mama sitting idly in the background.

Call Your mother

And I hope all of these things keep me from doing the Mom Guilt Thing.

I’m sure I’ll mess up.  And I’m sure it won’t be easy to express how much I miss you and love you, without turning it into a personal pity party…  (Because I DO love you, and I already get a little sad thinking how bittersweet it will be when all of you fly your separate ways.)

But, goodness, I don’t want you to get home at the end of a long work day and think, “Aw, crap, I didn’t call Mom again, and she always gets annoyed and complains when I don’t do enough.”

Your successes will be my successes.  If you’re doing your best and following the heart of God, then you will have no reason to feel guilty. 

You will have no reason to beat yourself up after I’m dead and buried, because having kids who follow the heart of God has always been my ultimate goal…

As always, I love you!

-Mom

Arguing With Myself

“Why don’t you just let it go?”

“Wipe the dust from your feet…wash your hands of them…”

“Why don’t you unfriend them or unfollow them or block them for your own mental health?”

Because.

I CAN’T.

The idea that we need to protect ourselves makes sense…  But I CAN’T be sure it’s God’s Truth rather than simply cultural values.  (We can find Oprah-esque quotes everywhere about self-care, but humans have spent a long time trying to tease that concept out of the Bible.)

I have been given a set of gifts that makes me obsessed with the truth. I crave it like a jonesing addict. And, once I uncover a tidbit that helps me move closer to God, I have to share it.

I CAN’T keep quiet.

…unless I’m supposed to be self-controlled.  Maybe the best course is to shut up and leave this between me and God.  (He doesn’t want us to be doormats, right?)

But, wait.  God gave me the gift of communication.   What sort of wicked servant buries her talents in the sand?   Use me, Lord! I’m here, and I’m willing!

All of my experiences, all of the joys and heartaches, all the time I’ve spent wrestling with my Maker has been so that I can share with my brothers and sisters afterward about the Truth I’ve learned.

I have encouragement to offer.

I have Good News (after I tell you some bad news)…

It was for this that I was created!

I think.

Probably.

Maybe.

Hopefully.

….please give me a minute to argue with myself a little more.

If I Can’t Be Honest…

We’re four months into this year, and I’ve only posted to this blog three times.  Obviously, I’m busy taking care of four small children and working from home.   But, I’m also struggling with the line between writing honestly and “airing dirty laundry.”   How can a writer be “real” without sharing a bunch of details that loved ones may not want shared?

I’m itching to discuss real-world issues–openly–in hopes of encouraging readers who may be going through something similar…but how much am I responsible to keep quiet and respect those whose stories are entwined with mine?

Can husband-writers be honest about issues with their wives?  Can parent-writers be truthful when their children are difficult?

Should we name names?

Just how many details am I allowed to give here–before I get backlash for saying something a little too true?

Much of what I want to say involves deeply personal back-stories that would shed light on my weaknesses AND the weaknesses of others. But I don’t want to be accused of throwing anybody under the bus.

And yet…

I believe most of us are starving  (absolutely starving) to know we’re not the only ones whose family-and-friend-relationships are dysfunctional at times.  And we want to hear more than simply, “Yeah, my family-and-friend relationships are dysfunctional at times.”

We want to know HOW.

Just this week, as I caught up with a lifelong friend, both of us were very candid (naming names) about recent conflicts. But, just knowing we weren’t alone made the problems seem a bit smaller. As we realized that both of us are having trouble with people we ultimately love (even when things get heated), I finally shouted, “WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS STUFF IN CHURCH!”

We need to stop offering vague prayer requests, and start getting specific with the details.

We need to stop allowing our most intimate problems to stay shrouded in darkness, just because we think that we (and our loved ones) are waaaaay more screwed up than everybody else’s.  

I believe that all of us have very specific stories that pop into our head when I mention “family struggles,” and I think there is healing when we talk through them.  Cards on the table. No censorship.

And yet…

When does “sharing” become “gossip?”


If anyone thinks I’m overly-critical of certain people in the culture, or that I ask too many questions, let me assure that person: I question MYSELF more than anybody else.  By the time I write about any topic, I’ve usually spent a looooooooong time arguing back and forth in my own mind, making sure I’m confident with any conclusions I may share publically.

That’s where I am right now.

Arguing back and forth–pros and cons–and looking for peace about my decision.  I don’t want to be fake.  I don’t want to feel like my hands are tied and my mouth is gagged.  But my story doesn’t belong only to me; it involves many, many others who are doing life with me.

And so 2018 continues to march on, and I’m continuing to think rather than speak (or type) too much.

I’m taking care of my small children.

I’m working from home.

And I’m processing the pros and cons–arguing back and forth–wondering if and when God will allow me to share what’s really happening in this beautiful mess we call life.