Saturday, September 25, 2010

O Working Mama

I've been thinking of you, Working Mama.

It happens when the kitchen clock hits 8:00 a.m. and we're still eating breakfast. I think about how you're probably already commuting to work, kids fed, dressed, and dropped off at school-- and you've already had your shower.

It happens when I hit Publix mid-morning, my only stressor being how-to-prevent-my-two-year-old-from-running-over-the-elderly-shoppers and which new recipe I should try for dinner. I think of you and how you manage to buy groceries for the family during the crowded evening rush, or over the weekends.

I remember being a Working Mama, too--when my Saturdays fell to Catching Up on Laundry and my Sundays guaranteed no nap; when I jealously eyed the Gym Mamas dropping their kids off at my class, decked out in the latest Nike workout outfits, declaring their morning belonged to Toned Muscles and Just-A-Little-More-Fit-Than-I-Presently-Felt; when I wished for more time with my newborn and prayed for the grace to make it through another week.

Maybe you're a Working Mama by choice and you don't have a stitch of envy for Gym Mamas. Maybe you love your career and feel immensely satisfied with the roles you so graciously juggle. Maybe being a Working Mama is in your blood and you wouldn't have it any other way.

Whatever the case,

Working Mama, I think




And I hope you get the praise you deserve.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

a God who transcends

It was 6:12 a.m. and I was already 12 minutes late for my  meeting with God. Instead of my usual routine of opening my Beth Moore study to where I had left off the previous day, I felt a quietness,

a sort of hushing of my soul.

Isaiah 6 was the whisper I received.

I knew this passage--this story of a prophet whose beloved king dies. This prophet, whose heart still grieving, lifts his eyes and has one of the most mystic visions recorded of God on his throne. This prophet, who gets to eavesdrop on the melodies of heaven.

For me, I cannot read

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.

and not be raptured into scenes of my past, into moments of corporate worship in a small church-on-a-mountainside, jubilant praise vibrating from the crumbling bricks. Our biggest, blackest mamas would step up, led by the Spirit, and lead us in the chorus that comes directly from this scripture. Our singing of the refrain, 

"holy, holy, holy is the Lord" 

would build and build with each word, each syllable, until the very frame of our building seemed to beg for mercy under the weight of such expressed glory. I was only 7, maybe 8, but moments like those were the cracks under the door of worship through which I would peer, intrigued by the promise of more, the promise of Something Bigger, Someone Bigger, to know someday. 

So I spent the next ten minutes singing that song, trying to lift my eyes a bit higher that morning. I wanted to let God be God and not just my means to a prayer-request-fulfilled, which is far too often all that he is to me.
I thought about death. How, for Isaiah, it took the physical death of a hero in order for him to receive the fullness of God's holy nature. How, for me, it has taken the death of dreams, the death of ambitions and false-identities to truly lift up my eyes and see Him.

Six hours later, I received a call from Mom.

Grandma had just died.


We thought she had more time.

God knew. 

God knew that "on the day my Grandma would die" I would lift my eyes and think about heaven more than I had in a long time. He knew I would imagine myself at the threshold of the throne room, the place Isaiah envisioned, the place my Grandma freely crosses. 

He knew I would like an invitation to join the angels singing the refrain of heaven, 

to join my grandma as she sang,

perhaps for the first time, fully-present, 

along with the holy ones, an eternal chorus. 


God blows my mind.

Only he, in his compassionate wisdom, could take something as sad as my precious grandma's death and  infuse the grief with one more moment with her, with one more promise of the fellowship to come.

I am reduced to the state of a little girl, only 7, maybe 8, whose belly rubs the floor, eyes straining to see through the cracks of a door. The melodies and lights and promise of heaven are bleeding through, under the threshold, faint silhouettes of those loved and lost, the glory of a King who will reign forever. 

For now, that's all we get. Brief moments of revelation, of Reality-to-Come breaking through to our muddled existences.

For my grief, for my perspective, for the attempt to live on purpose with my days left from Here to There,

I'll take it.

"holy, holy, holy is the Lord"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Response to Subscription Problems!

Hey all, 

So, long story short, we fixed the subscription problem--the one where those who signed up to receive Church at the Bay Ladies emails were instead receiving Through This Lens emails (totally different sites!). 

But I can't fix it all. Here's your part:

To activate your subscription to Church at the Bay Ladies, you'll have to click on this link, enter your email address, type in the confirmation code and then--for real this time--you're good to go. 

Here's what the confirmation looks like. 

If you wish to stop receiving Through This Lens emails, there's a link that says "unsubscribe now" at the bottom of all of the emails you've received from Through This Lens so far. Just click on that and do what they say.

Again, sorry for the confusion! 

Happy future reading, 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

please read...

Hey guys, 

So, apparently a lot of you (more than 5 that I know of) subscribed to my blog, Through This Lens, thinking they were subscribing to Church at the Bay Ladies' blog, which is 

Those blogs, CATB Ladies, and my personal-venting-platform, Through This Lens, are not the same!

If you're one of those who thought they were receiving emails from CATB Ladies, but you realize they've been from Through This Lens, 


email me and let me know!! Or, comment on this post.

I'll talk to some techie-friends and try to get it straightened out. 

Thanks so much!!

lost in translation

There's a six year old Muslim boy, living somewhere in a village in Ethiopia, who

thinks I have a pet monkey

living in my house. 

But the curious thing to him was not the monkey living with us, but the birds. 

How do you tame your birds? 

He wrote. 

Where we live, the monkeys can be tame at times, but the birds destroy our crops. 

                  We pass the nights outside, in the fields, to keep the birds away.

My son is three and a half years younger than Hawi, our sponsored child through World Vision.

Soon, he will understand these stories of a little boy who has no shoes and lives in a hut and helps his mother draw water from a well. Soon, he'll be able to find Ethiopia on a map of Africa and will understand why our letters take halves of years to receive responses. He'll trace the postal stamp with the capital's name, Addis Ababa, and will delight over the syllables and hard consonants of a language unknown.  

For now, the joys of sponsorship belong to my husband and me, but I can't help but dream of how Hawi's story will stretch the imagination and worldview of my son.

For an American boy, born into a world of air-conditioning and Mickey Mouse, laptops and cell phones, ice cream and pancakes, books and beach and boat rides with grandparents, the story of a boy living

far, far away, in a village in Ethiopia
should lend itself to lessons on generosity and thankfulness; 

should lead to questions about differences and disparity.

After all, when you're friends with a boy

who sleeps in fields to chase away the birds

your worldview can't remain the same.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

the hands that led me back

Over the past couple weeks, my faith has been rocked.


wrestled with.


I almost felt like defecting.

(the forces that led me there have been badgering my soul for years)

I'm okay now. I'm actually doing really well.

But it wasn't on my own accord that I reached this higher ground.

There were hands that led me back.

My husband extended his hand by listening when the dam broke. It was late at night and I finally realized I couldn't shoulder the weight of my demons alone. He didn't try to fix me. He didn't throw pithy God-cliches my way. He respected my burden and made me feel a bit less crazy. A bit less alone. He promised to love me no matter where I landed. His grip was the first pull I felt towards sanity.

Solomon extended his hand to me in the form of his writings. His prose, once depressing to me and self-indulgent, became oxygen to my suffocated soul. I found comfort in his honest assessment of our condition. I found a way forward in his admonition to embrace the brokenness and love life and serve God. 

Margaret Feinburg extended her hand in her spiritual memoir. The essence of a woman known by Jesus bleeds through her pages and I was reminded, once again, of my own journey thus far. The same voice that Margaret spoke of is one I know, one I've known, once without which I would lose my only identity. Her reminder of intimacy made God seem safe again.

Beth Moore extended her hand to me with her studies. The first day I felt strong enough, "back enough," to try some real academic Bible study, she met me right there, on the first page. She spoke of the conflict the disciples felt when Jesus appeared to be something he was really not. She asked whether I would run when human logic told me to, or if I would stay near Jesus, even then. Even now. Her challenge helped solidify my new-found footing and I was able to move forward a few more steps.

My good friend, Sarah, extended the last hand I needed to finalize my journey. She initiated our conversation and I let her in on the craziness that had been plaguing me. When the final broken thought had been shared, she and I stood in awe of a God who doesn't let go. Who can handle it all. Who just might have wired my mind this way, that I might search for him and experience him in the darkness. 

I'm back.

But it wasn't on my own.

There were brothers and sisters who helped lead me to this safer place.

I'm not sure there's any other way. 

Who has helped you through your dark places?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

middle names and not-at-ground-zero-mosques

My middle name is Marbury.

One that my mother, grandmother and other various ancestors hold. The most infamous "Marbury" we lay ancestral claim to is Anne Marbury Hutchison.

Anne lived back in the day of the Puritans. And didn't exactly agree with the established church. And spoke about it, in public, and without heed to the ecclesiastical warnings of what might happen to her if she didn't pipe down.

So, Anne was sentenced to prison over a harsh winter, while über-pregnant, and eventually was excommunicated. (Her husband helped purchase an island near Rhode Island, relocated the family, and years later returned home from a trip to find Anne and several children scalped by local natives.)

You should read her story.

Here's where I'm getting...

If my beloved heroine and namesake had lived in modern day lower Manhatten, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich and 68% of Americans would think her expressions of faith were wrong (and insensitive and whatever other words we're spewing around).

While many might not see the correlation-- Anne Hutchison leading her own version of Bible study and offending the Puritans and the moderate Muslims planning to build a Community Center and offending the Republicans-- it's there. The same reasons that sent Anne and her family packing to a god-forsaken island are the same reasons there are grossly ignorant tweets being made by political has-beens and wannabees.

We are America.

Not just the white, Christian, country-music-loving population among us, but the blacks and latinos and Asians and Catholics and Muslims and atheists.

We have a moral high ground to hold to--one we stake our worldwide reputation on. A high ground that's been used, time and time again, to justify our foreign policy, to allow us to make demands on other nations that we ourselves won't succumb to.

That moral high ground is our defense of Freedom. Freedom to worship whatever. Freedom to say (almost) anything. Freedom to meet about saving the trees or saving the unborn babies. Freedom to live productive lives, unhindered by a religious government that tells us what to do on Fridays. Or Sundays.

This is why we think we're better than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Taliban, Fidel Castro, Hu Jintao and all other present and past despots who regulate religion and its expression.

And we should think we're better than them; better than their narrow-minded, restrictive policies.  

As long as we stay better than them. 

The minute we tell a peaceful, America-loving, group of citizens that they cannot express their persuasions the way they please, we lose that high ground. We lose a piece of our DNA, a part of our sacred foundation. We lose the very thing that has attracted millions of oppressed sojourners, in search of a better and freer life.

We lose our American-ness.

I will always lobby for freedom of worship and a secular state because history speaks, too clearly, to what happens when one group of citizens is allowed to dictate the religious behaviors of the rest. It's a slippery slope, this religous intolerance. I fear for the future of my children, my white, hopefully-Christian, probably-country-music-loving children, if our nation begins to acqueise these sorts of demands.

Only 90 years ago, another terrorist organization was at the height of its power and influence. Its members met in secret, monitored the social and religious behaviors of its community, and executed acts of terror on undeserving, innocent citizens.

Far too quickly have we forgotten that the Ku Klux Klan members claimed to be Christians. That Christian churches exist in the very towns where these terrorists lived and worshipped. That these KKK members would worship at Little Town Southern Baptist Church on Sunday morning and then meet to discuss their next lynching on Monday night.

And yet, we don't protest, we don't tweet about the "insensitivity" of those Christians with their buildings so close to the hallowed ground of martyrs. We are able to make the distinction between moderate, sane Christians and Christian terrorists.

Another distinction needs to be made. Soon.

If not, at best, we look and sound like idiots. At worst, we lose our Freedom.


(Let's check our facts: The "Ground Zero Mosque" is neither at Ground Zero, nor is it a mosque. The building site is 2 blocks away from Ground Zero. Ground Zero can't be seen from the site. It's a proposed community center, complete with a basketball court, fitness center, theatre, Islamic prayer room, and a memorial to the World Trade Center victims. Sounds pretty threatening to me.)