the gospel mean and wild.

"it is by warfare the soul makes progress." 
{abba john the dwarf}

"it is the essence of the sin of the garden to re-imagine God as the mythical tolerant god." 
{dean waldt}

the more my kids develop as individuals, the less useful i find gospel presentation. those cute little Bible board books & flannel graphs, although have their place, have become increasingly limited in their redeeming power as my kids age. more and more i find my fingers scrambling for tools of gospel application. time for them to meet the real person. the real power and truth. Jesus.

"it is a spiritual gift from God for man to perceive his sin."
{st. isaac of syria}

with a constant tornado of evolving carnality needing to be diffused, i find myself ill equipped in really digging to the eye of the storm or the root of the problem. they were born in a clump. and their issues seem to clump and interweave and feed each other so you don't know when one ends and the other starts. sibling grappling, truth spinning, boisterously brilliant self-expression, they keep me on my toes. instead of the clear communication of "no" to their brother, they catapult their message from the banisher high dive landing their feelings in a graceful bellyflop on top of their unsuspecting sibling. instead of coming clean right away with the truth that they had indeed pinched their sister's bottom to get a reaction, they spin an elaborate story about how their fingers, possessed with injustice, took it upon themselves to sheriff the situation and how they really had no control at all in making them stop.  they have creatively re-invented discipline into discipleship for me. taken the words punishment & penalty from me and inserted equipping but costly consequential life, learning. i am not raising mindless lemmings and my goal is not obedience.  it's to know Jesus. uncut, unedited and in full. Jesus redeemer & rule breaker. Jesus, the untamable God.  

" on the whole, i do not find christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. does anyone have the foggiest idea of what sort of power we so blithely invoke? or, as i suspect, does no one believe a word of it?" 
{anne dillard}

"woe to the person who smoothly, flirtatiously, commandingly, convincingly preaches some soft, sweet something which is supposed to be christianity!"
 {soren kierkegaard}

i don't just want to keep my kids in line or keep them from making mistakes & spilling milk. kid's are professional mistake makers and this is how they learn. i want to be more about the motivation and less about the don'ts. more about that complicated but tremendous muscle, the heart. less about the surface observation of improper behaviour. but this is a tall, tall task, one with no match to it's intensity. until i realized, Jesus is not some passive meek person. He was kind and good but He was also dangerous & unpredictable. our christian culture has emasculated Him. watered Him down to some trickling brook not the earth trembling, tsunami that He is.

"at first i thought, it's ok. nothing bad is going to happen. a few seconds later the wave hit the road, and i thought, now i die." 
{tiina seppanen, tsunami survivor}

maybe it is just the beginning of summer transition. maybe it is just their combined ages, i'll never know.  but i have found myself upping the anti around here. instead of a sweet, sensible talk about lying being unkind, i find myself intensely describing that lying is like playing for the other team. satan's team. it's dressing in clothes that are not God's and it's helping the other team score a goal. so which jersey are you going to wear, which team are you playing for? or instead of a repeated discussion about the choices we have been making, the story of one of the wilkins' infamous uncles who could not abide within the parameters of the reasonable law & always had to have it his way, and decided he just did not want to get along with anybody and he now spends his days a small cage called prison, with no friends or fellowship, gross food and no choices left to make because they had all been taken away from him. do you want to follow him? and when i look into their saucer-sized eyes, i can see it. i can see the gospel being worked into their consciousness & growing into conviction. and although this may seem a bit much to an outsider looking in, it is the yeast getting worked into the dough. it is the kingdom becoming beautiful revelation to them.

"we are fonder of consolations than we are the cross."
 {teresa of avila}

and sometimes the kingdom does come with the whisper of a prayer or the cuddle of comforting psalm but sometimes it also comes with a crashing confronting force. you cannot have one without the other. He is not a cuddly, soft blanket anymore than He is a raging wild fire here to consume it all. He is equipping just as much as He is demanding. He is more than our fluffy board books. more than our sing-songs. more than we can imagine. and i don't want to forget that, as parent or as their sister in Christ, who is only two tiny steps ahead of them on this journey of sanctification.

this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus.
this is the gospel mean and wild.


the blind will see, the lost is found {part 3}

it is true that everything always looks better in the morning. especially once one realizes they haven't permanently lost their sight. God took pity on me and the blister had disappeared but so had the goat. for good it seemed.

not a footprint. not a broken branch. no indication of where she had roamed off to, steve canvased the neighbourhood by four-wheeler. all. day. long. one neighbourly farmer, in particular snickering at my dedicated husband's perseverance.
"she's gone for good i tell ya! she's dead! there's no way she made it through the night!" he taunted only to be followed up a few hours later by an inquisitive text asking if we had found her yet.

and then we got our lucky break. as dusk was quickly settling on the open miles upon miles of back fields, steve's eye caught sight of that sorry goat's rump foraging in the far back corner of a corn field, on the very edge of a trepadacious wilderness. we flew at his beckon to help corral her. he had her backed against an old cedar rail fence that separated the farmer's field from the deep & impending ravine. thickets of fierce shrubbery & prickly vines swelled & swayed against the fence, surely discouraging anyone's passage through. i silently climbed the fence further down, parting the wilderness with my hands, to block the back way out just as insurance to her capture.

mom & steve slowly inched towards the now shaking fugitive, talking sweetly so as not to alarm her. we had found her, we all smiled. we could see her with our very eyes and were inches from touching her. suddenly, she took flight over the fence & the thick shrubbery swallowed her up as she came crashing through other side of the bush towards me. i fought hard to swim through the raspberry thicket that entrapped me, missing her completely as she bounded down the ravine, cannonballing into a swamp ditch with a enormous splash.

my heart now thudding in my chest, i knew i could trap her in there. the ravine turned into more of a deep, steep ditch that streamed slowly out to the main road. i could hear steve now position the car on the road waiting for the moment she would emerge if i could push her forward. the steep banks and bramble hid my hovering presence as i followed the wet jingle of her bell closer and closer to the road until i tripped on a rock and fell with a thud and she stopped dead. i had given myself away. i cautiously peaked over the bank and she looked straight at me and i knew in that very moment i was going to have to pull off that move from swiss family robinson where they wrestle the snake in the river. i poised and catapulted my body hard over the bank, belly flopping flat out in green swamp just inches from that dreadful goat. i scrambled and she scrambled up the other bank, getting snagged & cut by every kind of branch and bramble imaginable. she momentarily snagged her collar on a low hanging cedar and i desperately clawed through the mud & vines, grabbing her by her back leg just as she cut herself free from the cedar and bounded over the fence and far away, her bell angrily jingling all the way off into the maze of corn fields. it was dark now and the mosquitos were thick and swarming. i dared open my mouth, although my legs had become an open feasting ground. wild celery stalks grew taller than my head, flapping in my face as i scampered fast enough to not lose the sound of that bell. i tried not to think of the consequences.

i ran hard and fast, starting to panic that i was alone now in the deep darkness and wouldn't be able to find my way back until i stumbled into the neighbours cow field. their three teenage sons had now joined the search party with their four-wheelers ripping it up which rightfully frightened the cattle who would stampede from one end of the field to the other without warning. i felt like i was living some impossible video game, except without the superpowers. soon i had lost the sound of her bell and i felt sick to my stomach again at the thought that our farmer friend might be right.

just as i was losing hope, i stumbled across a fresh trail where the wet dewyness of the grass had clearly been disturbed. all those episodes of mantracker came fresh to my memory. i followed the trail sprinting with renewed spirit, zig zagging this way and that. i was so focussed on following the trail that i forgot to look up and ran straight into the butt end of the most enormous, very white tailed deer. the deer bounced off indignitly and i, in complete & utter shock, clutched my chest and fell to the ground crying uncontrollably, letting the mosquitos have their way.

nothing but the sound of coyote howls, calling for her, filled the moon-lit cold air.
we were never going to find her and i knew it. i briefly weighed up the horrid pros and cons of shooting her. and decided against it. and picked myself up off the ground and started to make my long trek back.

as irate as i was at that goat, the nothingness of having lost something so beautiful and so treasured filled my chest with tightness. i would never have another like her. and the fear in her brown bulging eyes bothered me. i had chased her right into the wild wilderness that would take her life & i would never see her again.

once i made it back to our neighbours house, now lit up like a fortress, i realized how close she had come to home. what a dark tragedy, i thought to myself. to come so close to home and paralysed with fear, turn the other way, walking straight into the mouth of her real enemy.

i couldn't give up on her. my heart just had to have hope that she would come back to us by some miraculous circumstance. i couldn't bare surrender to the alternative. with the teenage boys still ripping around on their machines, their parents assured us that they were having so much fun, although their skill & technique in goat herding was questionable, we said goodnight and with our head hanging low went home to bed.

'Father, is there any way to get her back?,' i prayed as i closed my eyes. i know she's just a goat but He reminded me of a song i used to sing to our kids. it goes a little something like this...

Say you had a hundred sheep 
and one little lamb got lost 
in the dark, in the cold, far away from the fold 
What would you do? 
What would you do? 

You’d say go get the lost one 
And leave the ninety-nine 
That little lamb is lost 
And that little lamb is mine 
Bring it home on your shoulders 
And call up all your friends 

Rejoice with me, I’ve got my little lamb again. 
Rejoice with me, I’ve got my little lamb again. 

Say you had ten silver coins 
And one silver coin got lost 
Your treasure, your wealth 
In the cracks, in the filth 
What would you do? 
What would you do? 

You’d say go get the lost one 
Turn the house upside down 
That silver coin was lost 
And that silver coin is found 
Light the lamp, sweep the ground 
Then call up all your friends 
Rejoice with me, I’ve got my silver coin again. 
Rejoice with me, I’ve got my silver coin again. 

If God had a child 
Who wandered far astray 
Who was sad, broken hearted, whose guilt kept him away 
What would He do? 
What would He do? 

He’d say, go get the lost one 
He’s who I came to see. 
He thought he was an orphan 
But he’s coming home with me. 
The angels are rejoicing. 
The sinner is my friend. 
Rejoice with me, my child is coming home again. 
The angels are rejoicing. 
The sinner is my friend. 
Rejoice with me, my child is coming home again.

how beautiful a picture of God's love for us. that He would give it all up to find His treasure, His beloved, you and me. to come and find us in the cold, in the cracks, in the filth. to save us from the jaws of death that we so eagerly toddle towards. He snatched us out of a life full of frightened frailty, wandering through the wilderness, belonging to no one and nothing & He washes our shame & guilt far away, soothes our wounds from the wild and embraces us with arms open wide as His very own child. that, my friends, is Love. that an orphan would be called a beloved daughter.

soon after i fell asleep, with the grips of hope still clutched tight in my hand, we were awoken my a late night phone call that the boys had safely captured her and had carried her back to their barn on their shoulders. they had bedded her down and other than exhaustion, she was absolutely fine & we could come and get her in the morning.

and i leapt out of a dead sleep, in those last few minutes before midnight, and danced in delirious delight on our bed! my body torn and tired, i slipped into a deep sleep that night with my hand on my heart in gratitude.

the lost is finally found.


the lost is found {part 2}

it was her mezmerizing beauty that captured my heart and momentarily immobilized my brain. we called her "dortje", dutch for dorthey. she was no ordinary goat, and she begged an extraordinary name.

she was entirely different from Scarlett. we had taken the van which had a deeper back but she hadn't moved, curled up in the fetal position in the back boot. hadn't made a single sound. only her odor breifly gave away her presence in our mini van. one of the kids had even remarked how good she would be at playing hide and seek {which we found out was ominously prophetic}. when we got her home, i knew from my last delivery to the barn, that this may be an issue. my mom hugged my waist to anchor me to the ground this time, still sore from my last dragging. Dortje, even though half the size of Scarlett. jumped out of the back with twice as much pazzaz and for a few good paces dragged both my mom and me, with our heels dug in. it took both of us and all of our might to steer her into the barn but we did it. and we were proud.

normally, a new pastured or free range animal on the farm would need to stay cooped up for a week or two until they got used to this being home but Dortje had been so anxious she had stopped eating all together and we thought, wrongly, that being in with our other does would help her settle better. it worked for a few days. but in those few days we had also attempted to milk her which she had apparently felt a catastrophic injustice to her personal space.

it was on the eventual eve that i gave up milking the fiery wild-ling, that she decided she was not coming into the barn for the night. it had been pouring rain all day and everything was slick and muddy out in the pasture. i called to her & tempted her with grain but she was not interested in interacting anymore. even Scarlett came out & tried to reason with her but it just made her run faster and further.

i tried to cloak my plans for her capture by looking off casually into opposite direction while i slowly walked behind her, attempting to push her forward towards the goat barn. all the other goats with their heads taking turns bleeting out the barn door for her to seek asylum. and she flew fast and hard against the fence that bordered the busy road momentarily pausing for dramatic affect like she was going to jump if i dared step any closer. i held my breath like i was the one that was going to get run over if she did pop over that fence. in one such pivotal pause, she took a sharp turn and bounded towards and into the little goat door opening into home free! and i gunned it to close that little flap door before she could escape. as i slid in the manure slip-and-slide that had accumulated outside the door at mach 3 into the side of the barn, i frantically reached in to slam the door. to my surprise, she rocketed out of that little door, right over my forehead and trampolining off my mid drift. and i lay there. just for a moment. with my head propped up on a muddy rock. flat out trampled in the cold, cold mud as harsh rain drops & tears pooled on my cheeks. Scarlett & Jemimah peaked their heads out cautiously to see if i was ok. i was not ok. and i was gonna get that son of biscuit of it was the last thing i did. i slowly sat up and gritted my jaw.

it was considerably darker by now and i could barely make out her deer like frame in the back distant corner of the field. i marched off into the wind and rain with determination that she was not going to get away with this. she crashed through the creek that cuts our pasture in two and i too flung myself, unsuccessfully, across the creek inches from making it to the other side. i stood there for a moment as snails filled my shoes and sunk deeper into the mud and let out a exasperated cry! the horses had now taken notice and sauntered over to check out what my problem was. but they were no help. no help at all and scared Dortje further and further into the back corner.

i collected myself and crept as quiet as one could with snails squeaking in their crocks and a ridiculously over sized raincoat and pants so soaked with rain and mud that they has lost their will to stay around my waist. i crept into the pitch black as close as i possibly could to the sound of that dinging bell around her neck. she was walking the back fence looking for a way through without getting electrocuted. and i sneaklily snuck until i knew i was close enough. i knew i could grab her and pounced hard on her which scared the living life out of that goat. slick as slug from the rain, she popped out of my arms dragging me over the electric fence with her. the blast of electrical shock stunned me so hard i let go and she was gone. her bell bouncing away into the thick, thick bramble of our neighbours 200 acre backyard.

in sheer horror i bounded my soaking, sopping pants in a hysterical fit all the was back to the house, screaming for help! by the time i made it to the house, i collapsed completely out of breath, trying to explain the urgency of the situation to my mom and steve, who had thought i had been serenely milking the goats all this time.

we threw the dog & some rope into a vehicle and scoured the street behind the field that she'd escape into. we searched until 11pm, knocking on neighbours doors to let them know about our fugitive situation. and then we stopped. my mom wiped the goat footprints off my forehead and said, it's time to leave it until morning. she made me a small bite to eat after i had changed into dry clothes.

as i cried my woes and worries about finding that horrible, terribly, preciously beautiful goat, i noticed that a big blister started to rise under my eye. wild celery is a real problem in this area and if you get in your eye, you instantly go blind with no hope of recovery. in despair, i declared i was probably going to go blind, flopped on my bed and fell fast asleep until the early morning hours.