Friday, July 27, 2012


I'm not sure how often I'll be able to blog, but in these few quiet moments before the kids wake up, I'll share something God has put on my heart this week.

When I visited with my girlfriend last Saturday, we reminisced about our college days when we memorized the Westminster Catechism together. (Yes, we were nerds.) We smiled over the fact that both of us, twenty years later, still have our flashcards in the top drawers of our desks.

So when I got home, I pulled out that old set of flashcards. Yellowed and worn, smudged with coffee stains and crumbs, the familiar words were a bedrock of hope--the anchor of my soul which is both sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19).

"What is the chief end of man?" the first question asks.

(NOTE: my girlfriend and I memorized the old-timey version in tiny print below the paraphrase. If you squint, you can read it.)

"Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever" comes the resounding response.

(Or, as John Piper so eloquently amends, "Man's chief end is to glorify God BY enjoying him forever.")

Question: Why am I here? (Why are you here?)

Answer: To glorify and enjoy God.

To be SATISFIED in Him.

My "chief end" or reason for existence is not, as I sometimes think, to have a perfect life, like all those status updates in my Facebook news feed of smiling families with happy marriages and well-behaved children and adorable pets, posting pics of family vacations and cute kids. (Disclaimer: I do love all of you, Facebook friends. And I'm truly happy for you. But sometimes I have to take a break from my Facebook news feed because it makes my reality so raw. And it makes me ache for something more. Something that feels so palpably MISSING.)

As Ann Voskamp writes in her book One Thousand Gifts,

"Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other."

These past few months, I've been wrestling with what it means to fully satisfied in God. Not to be satisfied in  my marriage (which came to a shocking end). Or in my accomplishments (which aren't that much). Not even in my ministry as a pastor's wife (which was taken away) or the children I love immeasurably.

But what does it mean to be satisfied in God Himself? In God plus nothing? To fall on your face in worship, like Job, when your world falls apart and proclaim, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (1:21)?

It comes down to this: if I never again have a husband... if all the people who are precious to me were snatched away... if I lost everything here on earth...

Is Jesus enough?

YES! my soul cries out from the deepest place where truth lives.

And NO! my heart protests, when the waves of grief crash around me, when I am confronted with stark reminders of what I no longer have, when life just flat-out doesn't make sense.

I'm not there yet. But I'm limping into the arms of my heavenly Father every day, asking Him to help me look past the What-Might-Have-Beens and the Missing Things in order to be fully satisfied in Him.

The Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your soul in scorched places... (Isaiah 58:11)

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Surprise Beginning

Well, as most of you know, it’s official. I promised myself that I wouldn’t write specifics about the Thing Itself, so if you’re looking for “the scoop,” you can go ahead and stop reading. You won’t find it on this blog. 

For those of you who are still here, I’m finally taking a few baby steps into writing about what I’ve been experiencing and learning the past few months. And I'm trying to process how to live a faithful life and hear God's whispers of grace in the midst of my new and unexpected circumstances.

Before I start telling you the stories of my recent journey, let’s start off by clearing the air a bit, shall we?

  1. Divorce is NOT contagious. You can still be my friend; it’s okay. You won't "catch" it.
  2. God hates divorce. In His original design, marriages are NOT supposed to end except by death. Yes, Jesus gave the exception for infidelity. But the marriage covenant is intended to last a lifetime, as a picture of Christ's unending love for the church. I absolutely agree.
  3.  Despite the truth of #2, sometimes there’s a story behind the divorce that you may not know. So please don’t judge every divorced person and think, “They just didn’t try hard enough.” Sometimes divorce comes even when you desperately don’t want it to. When you pray and beg and plead for it not to.You don't always know what happened in that marriage. So when you encounter a divorced person, PLEASE remember to show grace.
 Okay, now that we’ve gotten THAT out of the way…

I have dozens of stories to share with you. I’ve been bottling them up, nearly exploding with the need to express what has been going on. But it’s so hard to put these things into words. 

Here's a little background: I signed the decree on Thursday night, with precious friends covering me with prayer and love and grace (... and bubble wrap dancing, but that's another story!). Then Friday I went on a trip with girlfriends from the neighborhood. So by God's grace, my first full day of being divorced I didn’t spend alone. I was with my closest girlfriends. And the next night I spent with my best, best girlfriend—my heart friend. It was a fun, healing, grace-filled weekend.

There are lots of stories about the girls' trip, of course, that I’m skipping over. It was, to say the least, a very memorable adventure, filled with lots of "firsts" and lots of fun. :)

But here's the story I want to tell you now:

On Sunday, my girlfriend took me to her church in Austin. (Random info: My girlfriend and I both grew up Southern Baptist. We met in a Bible church at Texas A&M. After college, I veered nondenominational and she became Presbyterian. Then I married a Baptist pastor, and she dated an Episcopal priest. Weird how life works out, huh?)

Anyway, the church she now attends is Anglican. It’s VERY far from my Southern Baptist roots. But I really wanted to go. My aching heart longed for the liturgy and reverence and community of the greater body of Christ.

I’ll skip over the details of the service for the sake of time. Which brings me to the heart of this blog—what I really want you to experience with me:


(Before you keep reading, note that I'm not going to debate theological views of Communion. Please, let's just all agree to meet at the table as the body of Christ and see beyond our differing views to the God of the sacrament.)

At the end of the service in an Anglican church, you receive the Eucharist.

Let me say it again so my Baptist and nondenominational friends notice the slight distinction. 

You RECEIVE the Eucharist. (Or Communion. Or Lord's Supper. Whatever you want to call it.)

You don’t pass the plate down the pew--or folding chairs--and take a cracker or filled plastic cup and put it in your own mouth. You don't "take" Communion. Nope. You walk up front, stand alongside the other believers, and hold your cupped hands in front of you. Extended and open, much like a beggar. Humbled. And ready to receive the elements.

Then the priest walks by and looks at you gently and directly. “This is the body of Christ, broken for you,” he says, placing a piece of bread in your outstretched hands. And you receive the body of Christ in a very personal way. Then he presents to you the chalice. Again, he looks at you and says, “This is the blood of Christ, spilled for you.” And he brings the cup to your mouth (you don’t even touch it), and you receive the blood of Christ.

You RECEIVE it. 

Just like you did when Christ gave His life for you. You receive the sacrament the same way you received your salvation. Not of any work of your own, but simply by extending your empty hands like a beggar, cupped and open and ready to be filled by Him.

I’m not going to wax eloquent about all the implications of covenant here, so I will say only this: a covenant is often celebrated with a meal. That’s why a bride and groom entwine their arms to share wedding cake to celebrate their covenant of marriage.

So in God’s magnificent grace, the first Sunday I came to worship with a heart deeply grieving that broken marriage covenant, God reminded me of His own, unbreakable covenant with me. 

And I received the covenant meal.

That Sunday, receiving Communion was a significant reminder that I belong to Him. That He is my forever husband. 

It was a watershed moment for me. One of those significant times you memorialize as a divine encounter with God. Like the old hymn says, it was my Ebenezer--"rock of help." (see 1 Sam. 7:12.)

It marked a new beginning for me. 

Lots of stories have surprise endings—but mine has a surprise beginning. And my new beginning started with a covenant meal with my heavenly Husband.

I don't know how my story will end, of course. Only God knows all the days of my life that were written in His book before yet one of them existed. But I know this: something brand-new started this week. And I am confident that the God who started a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

So day by day, I will look to Him and watch the Author of my life reveal the rest of the story.

"That was just the beginning. I have a lot more to tell you, things you never knew existed. This isn't a variation on the same old thing. This is new, brand-new, something you'd never guess or dream up." (Isa. 48:6)