We Are Nashville

It’s become almost a battle cry, “We Are Nashville.” The whole thing was pretty surreal. I mean, really, who expects to get over 17 inches of rain in a 48 hour time frame? Who expects to see local parks transform into lakes over night? Who expects to see interstates you can’t drive? Or buildings floating down said interstates? Those are images you see on TV, not in your back yard.

And yet… there was almost no TV coverage. Well, if you were here, there was nonstop coverage, but outside Middle Tennessee… not so much. I had a friend call from Kansas two days later saying she had just heard…

WHAT? Is this not the age of 24 hour news? How can they go so long without covering what has been called a 500 year flood? How is that not news worthy? People lost their homes, their cars, their lives. Churches were closed because of… rain? Malls were swamped under 10 feet of water. And somewhere someone said there’s no story in Nashville?

Much like a tornado skipping through the land, the flood waters devastated one area, and a mile down the road was not touched. Streets were shut down, restaurants were closed, curfews were enacted. But there was no story?

I wonder if that’s because Nashville did not cry out to the government to save us? Nashville did not blame the President for the water that rush us. Nashville did not wait for buses to clear us out. Nashville did not use this as a chance to steal from someone else. In fact, Nashville‘s churches stepped up, volunteers showed up, neighbors started helping neighbors. People risked their lives for complete strangers.

I am so proud of the place I call home. And I am a bit saddened by the reality of, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Nashville got wet, we didn’t bleed. And somehow that much water was not enough news to most of the media. We didn’t whine about it. We didn’t take our frustrations out on other people. We did what we do best… we dug in, and we took care of the problems, and we took care of each other.

We Are Nashville. Music City Rising. The volunteer state. The way it should be.



Where are you sleeping?

Sigh… sigh… sigh…  Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out to be a mother… I know, it’s a little late… Sometimes my kids bring me to a place where I think I am not able to handle the title of Mom. The other night, T had a dinner meeting, and I was on my own for about 4 hours with 5 kids. I dealt with fights, a hungry, screaming baby, toilet cleaner in the bath water. Sometimes, in the middle of such chaos, I forget just how blessed we are. Then I read things like this:

My sober friend

Oh, wretched person that I am. How can I even think about complaining? Seriously… My life is beyond blessed. I have five unbelievably wonderful kids. We have a big house that keeps the wind/rain/snow/sun off of them when they want to be still/dry/warm/cool. They each have their own bed (though the boys and older girls do share a room, they sleep in their own beds). They have a big back yard to run and climb and swing in. They do not have to sell themselves for their next meal. They do not beg for money. They do not sleep in a dump.

This is where I realize mothering is not just birthing children and keeping them from killing each other. Mothering is about teaching your children to be grateful for all God has given you, while having compassion on those who are in need. Mothering is about helping your kids understand just because it has been given to you does not mean it was for you. Mothering is about helping your kids see a need and meet it, to not walk away and just feel sorry. Mothering is teaching your kids to feel the pain of others without becoming jaded and hard. Sometimes when you are a mother it’s tough to see past the dirty diapers you are swimming in, and find the real lessons in life.

Mothering is about teaching your kids to trust Jesus to meet their needs and to bless Him by being the hands of Jesus to meet someone else’s needs. This is the circle of life we should be working towards. And this will be our goal, until every child sleeps in their own bed.

What were they thinking?

I’m mad. I’m frustrated. I’m sad. But mostly I’m mad.

I wonder, when the rest of the world see’s a headline like this

Saudi Girl, 12, Wins Divorce From 80-Year-Old Husband

what goes through their minds? Maybe they are happy she’s been freed? Maybe they wonder how that happens in the first place? Maybe they wonder why a 12 year old, who should be playing out back with friends, finds herself married? I wonder those too. I also wonder, where does a 12 year old go to live when she divorces her 80 year old husband? Back to the parents who gave sold her into a marriage she didn’t want? I hope not! To live on her own? Again, I hope not! To live with extended family…

Then I read on and I get to this gem of an item: She was married against her wishes to her father’s elderly cousin last year. SERIOUSLY??? Not only is the man old enough to be her GRANDFATHER, he was actually her Dad’s cousin… as in related to her!!!! What is wrong with these people???? (You know, that’s probably as self answering question…)

As far as the being sold into this “marriage” … yes, she was sold into the marriage… The story says: A dowry of 85,000 riyals (about $23,000) was paid and the marriage consummated. OH, I am all kinds of mad! She was sold to her 2nd cousin for sex at 11 years old. This baby girl has been wronged on so many levels. Her family was supposed to protect her, not abandon her. Her family was supposed to love her, not abuse her. Her family was supposed to cheer her on and tell her she could be and do anything her heart dreamed of, not strap her down in utter sexual slavery. (REALLY, what else would an 80 year old man do with an 11/12 year old little girl? It sure wouldn’t be about the conversations they had, and probably not about how well she cooked, or cleaned the house.)

So now the world is cheering that this will probably change the law and set the minimum age for marriage at 16. I don’t know that that’s much better. I just can’t cheer for that. As a matter of fact, I’m having a hard time just getting past this little girl, and where’s she’s going to sleep tonight.

Makes me that much more grateful to God that we live in the United States, and I know my sweet children are going to sleep in their own beds tonight. And it breaks my heart for the other children of the world. Can we just have one big sleep-over at my house?

The Truth in Television

I have been doing lots of reading this week… working on a review of Ted Dekker‘s upcoming novel, so I have not been watching much T.V. Tonight, I took some time for a little couch time with my hubby. What I didn’t expect was to stumble across blatant truth in the form of an odd little show.

Last fall there was an intriguing add for a new show… so I tivo-ed it. Flash Forward was a rather interesting concept, has had some fun little twist and turns, and some turns I really wasn’t thrilled with… However, I’ve hung with it, mostly because I tend to REALLY want to finish something once I start… Basically, show is about how the whole world fell asleep (had a black out) at the same time for a little over two minutes at the same time, and everyone had a vision of what they would be doing in 6 months. Then they all woke up and tried to begin to deal with the craziness of their new lives.

Tonight I turned it on, and was messing around on my laptop when TRUTH reached up and slapped me across the head in the form of a scene between two FBI agents. Both are obsessed with their vision (or lack there of) of the future. The man didn’t see anything, and has since learned he will be murdered a month before the visions took place for everyone else. The second is a woman who saw herself having an ultra sound and learning she was carrying a little girl.

The first time I got a little smack, the female FBI agent is in a fertility clinic speaking with a dr. who is trying to encourage her to wait. She replies with the story of her vision, and these words, “I want THAT baby. Not a different baby two years from now…”

The next scene we see her in, she and her friend are talking about being ready to be a mom, and how much she wanted THIS child. The man said something about how THIS child doesn’t even exist yet. She looked him straight in the face and said, “Yes, she does. I know she does. She is out there making her way toward me. I have spent almost every waking moment thinking about who she is going to be. I can’t wait to meet her.” What??? This child, who hasn’t even been conceived yet, and they are saying the child ALREADY exists???

Now, as a woman who has 5 kids, had 5 miscarriages, and carried a total of 13 babies (there was a set of twins for sure and two possible sets) I get what she’s saying. Pregnancy is so different for a man and a woman. For a man, pregnancy becomes real when he can SEE his wife’s belly grow, and FEEL the tiny kicks that ripple across her skin. The baby becomes real when he HEARS the child’s first scream in the delivery room. But for a woman… for her, the baby is real when the little strip she pees on turns positive. That moment, with that breath, she is totally in love with her child. Her world has been flipped upside down. For the man, his world is rocked a little… For her, the world will never be the same.

The thing that shocks me is that they admitted the child who has not been conceived is still a person. How different that is from most things on T.V. where we are told it’s not a baby until it has been born… until then it’s just some tissue for the mother to do with whatever she wants. And yet, here’s a show saying this as-yet-not-conceived child WANTS to live – has places to go and people to see. Wow.

Breaking hearts

Let my heart break with the things that break your heart Lord is one of my favorite prayers… almost a cry of the heart. Not to obtain some kind of falsified glory, rather because it draws you deeper into the heartbeat of God… But it is a heavy load… one which we truly can not stand under the weight of. Jesus once asked James and John (Mark 10:38) if they could drink the cup He drinks.

He prefaced that question with, “You don’t know what you are asking.” I’m sure he would say the same thing today… You want your heart to break with what breaks my heart? Really? Do you have any idea of the things you will see? The things you will have to deal with? Have you seen the way people treat each other? The molestation of a young child? The abuse of a spouse? The poverty of a third world country? The loss of a child? Or, as a friend traveling abroad just saw, the sight of a child playing on a rooftop with nothing to stop her if she fell, because her house was a tent behind her on that same rooftop. Yes, it happens.

We’ve all seen pictures. We’ve all hear the stories. And we all go on with our lives. But have our lives been changed? Altered at all by the plight of another? Have you ever cried with a grieving mother? Comforted a scared child? The horrors of this world run deep. The scars they leave are tender no matter how long ago they were “healed.”

Can we drink His cup… I think not, as even a drop is too much for us to handle. Or as my friend said, “We can’t but He can. But it is a bitter, bitter cup.” It is with knowing how little understanding of what we are asking, that we still ask, “Lord, let our hearts break with what breaks your heart.” For deep down we know if He breaks our hearts, it will be His compassion flowing from the wound.

Big Enough

How big is your god? Mine is Big Enough. He’s big enough to cover my sins. He’s big enough to heal a broken heart. He’s big enough to help with finances. He’s big enough to teach lessons. He’s big enough to move the mountains that stand in your way. He’s big enough to frustrate the plans of those who mean evil.

What does this mean in the real world? It means He can heal an unborn child, or a very sick child, when the drs say no way. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve been walking in the middle of the Grand Canyon, and not fallen.

And yet, there are times when it gets dark. When it’s so very hard to see Him anywhere. When things feel so out of control and there’s just no way for anything good to happen. I know that darkness of the soul. I know that pain. Life is messy, and any clean up is an impossible job. Impossible. Unable to be done, performed, effected. Incapable of being true. Not to be done or endured, with any degree of reason or propriety. Utterly impracticable. Hopelessly unsuitable.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try

That’s a lyric from a song by Kutless, “What Faith Can Do.” See, when it’s so dark you can not see, faith is a light turned on. It may only be a match light, in all of that darkness, but it’s a light. It’s hope. It’s a breath of fresh air. Why?

Because God is Big Enough.

Working on a Mitzvot

What’s a mitzvot? Our pastor has issued our church a challenge and defines mitzvot as a task one voluntarily undertakes in order to experience a spiritual change. He is encouraging each person to undertake this challenge.

So, technically, we have been discussing this for several years. This past year, T has been working with others to really make this happen. This year will see ink to our dreams, a God given challenge we walk together. Our hearts beat with God’s heart for the parentless children of this world. Somehow, some way we want to be able to wrap our arms around each one as we do each of our own children.

I know, not physically possible.

Then this idea began to grow in T’s mind… I’m a little slower to catch the vision… but I do catch it. Oh, the places this could go… God is big enough…

Now go check out the fruit of all that has been going on…

God in a Box

I have all these thoughts tumbling around in my brain… and hope I can make something out of them. If not, well, maybe I can mess with your head a little 😉 Here goes:

God is not one to fit in a box. You can not draw a line around Him and say this is God and this is how He does things. He is simply too big for that. He is a God of creativity… look at the world around you… is every flower blue? Is every sun set orange? Is every fish gray? Or every leaf straight? Or every snowflake the same?

He doesn’t even do the same thing the same way… like with Moses getting water out of the rock… one time he is supposed strike the rock (Exodus 17:3-7), but the next time he gets in trouble for striking the rock (Numbers 20:7-12). What??? Yep. The first time God told him to strike the rock, the second time He said to speak to the rock, only Moses struck it twice, and was not allowed to take the people he had been leading into the promised land.

I was reading about the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:1-27:21). Have you read about it? No, I mean REALLY read it? The detail that God put in there is amazing. What material, how long, how many curtains, what colors… amazing! This is the same God who orchestrated your life… with the same, or MORE details!

Here’s another thought… there are two views of God… 1)  He gives you a life, and like an iPhone map, it has point A and point B and a line connecting them, then He just watches. There’s no one talking to you. If you want to see a closer picture, you have to work for it… there is no communication. Or, in my opinion, a better view is 2) He is more like my GPS in that there is a point A and point B, but you never see both points. You get one step at a time, and once that step is made, then you get instructions for your next step. Should you stray from the path set before you, you get a “recalculating” and another path is set before you, one that will still get you to the end destination. Isn’t that what He did with Moses? He recalculated, the people got to go in, but for his lack of trust, Moses did not. OUCH.

Recording artist Francesca Battistelli (along with co-writer Jeff Pardo) puts it this way in her song “Unpredictable” :

Help me see that I’m small
That I can’t know it all
‘Cause You’re so unpredictable

Can’t wrap my mind around You
Can’t put You in a box
Can’t keep You safely contained
You’re gonna move the way
You wanna move today
Just let me follow along

What box have you tried to pack God in? I can guaranty it’s not big enough. Maybe, just maybe, if you let Him out, He will blow your mind. Matthew 7:11 says, He will give good gifts to those who ask… is the box you have Him keeping you from asking? Or is it keeping Him from fully answering? Maybe, if you let Him out of the box, you would, as the Psalm says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Follow along and get a taste of something truly good!

New Hope for Haiti

New Hope Academy (our kids’ school) was asked to sing in a song that will benefit Haiti. That means 200 students were bused to a local recording studio where they spent 2 hours singing the same lines over and over… along with a few minor word changes here and there.

I understand the song will be available on iTunes. I’ll let you know more as I do. I am so proud our kids have been able to take part in this act of giving from Music City, USA to the people of Haiti.

Here’s one of the pictures J’s teacher sent… plus some video that ran on our news today:

WKRN’s video

WSMV’s news story

Here’s WSMV’s video, and you can see S a couple of times… well, her ear in a close up of a boy, and on the front row… you can also see her in the picture below.