Brave

This weekend I went to see Brave with my almost 18, senior in high school, about to leave the nest, teenage daughter. No one warned this momma that I would be in serious need of some Kleenex as I watched this coming of age movie with my almost come of age daughter sitting beside me.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet I’ll try not to give any spoilers. But from the previews you can tell that Merida and her mother, the Queen, see life a bit differently. Merida’s whole life she has been taught by her mother as to how a princess should behave. Merida tries to follow her mother’s example, but finds it hard to live in the confines of being a prim and proper princess. So she sets off on a wild adventure in an attempt to figure out how to live life in such a way that brings her joy.

I saw a lot of myself in the Queen. While I’ve never raised a princess I have raised three daughters and many of the words I heard the Queen speak to Merida I’ve spoken to my own girls with one simple change. Instead of “princesses don’t” it was “Christians don’t”. A good Christian girl doesn’t act that way. A good Christian girl shouldn’t think like that. As I Christian you should… The list goes on.

The Queen and I both had good intentions, to protect our daughters. To keep them safe. To teach them appropriate behavior. But in doing so I have to wonder if maybe we’ve taken God’s wild, passionate and brave creation and tamed it.

There’s a scene in the movie The Chronicles of Narnia where Lucy is asking about Aslan, who represents Christ. “Isn’t He safe?” she asks. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course He isn’t safe. But He’s good!”

The life Jesus calls us too is a life a daring adventure, not a proper tea party. And I am guilty of training my daughters for the latter. But I want more for them. I want them to be Brave! I want them to be so excited about the kingdom of God that they’re willing to go anywhere, tell anyone, give any amount just to be a part of it. I want them to love fiercely, laugh wholeheartedly, and give selflessly, living life with eyes wide open drinking deep of the adventure of it all.

Man that’s scary.

It’s safe to sit in a movie theatre and think about giving your daughter wings to fly. It’ scary to pack her belongings in a car and send her off to a new city or country to chase after Jesus.

A friend shared with me this morning a line from a blog that made me think of Merida and my daughters. “If we lose this generation of young people from God’s kingdom: It won’t be because we challenged them too much, but because we challenged them too little. It won’t be because we pushed them too much, but because we didn’t dare them enough.”

Psalm 127:4 says “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.”

Arrows are designed to be released. To be sent flying through the air, usually into danger. They are not meant to be kept safe, left at home, away from the dangers of life.

It’s hard to let go. Harder still to let them be brave. So much of life isn’t safe. But it is good. And He is good. And there’s an adventure waiting for our kids if we’ll just give them a chance to fly.

Carried

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I find myself in a season where everything is up in the air and nothing is certain. Trapped in the temporary, I find myself familiar with mascara stains and desperate prayers as I seek after the God that carries me. I want to know the end result after the rug has been jerked from underneath me. Even though the future looks like a question mark, He remains my constant source of stability. (Is 33:6 NET)

And yet here in this place I’m no longer the mother. I am the needy child with arms outstretched waiting to be picked up. I long to know the outcome to this waiting game and yet it’s not for me to know right now. I simply have to wait, to rest, and allow myself to be carried. When I carry my children they never seem to worry that my footing will be unsure. They simply rest in my arms secure for the journey. With their legs wrapped around me and sweet head on my shoulder, their gaze remains on what is behind us as we move towards where we are headed. One day our yesterday will be a blur and only the faithfulness of the One who carried us will remain.

“Indeed I am composed and quiet, like a young child carried by its mother; I am content like the young child I carry. O Israel, hope in the Lord now and forever more.” (Psalm 131: 2-3 NET)

I’m not sure where you are on your journey, but this much I do know. God desires to give you a composed confidence as He carries you. Your arms are probably tired from the load you are carrying. But, place your hope in the Lord, sweet child of God, and allow yourself to be carried.

“And she will have no more fear of change, being full of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge: the fear of the Lord is her wealth.” (Is 33:6 BBE)

Much love to you on this journey,

Jennifer

The Dance of Joy

Yesterday should have been my twentieth wedding anniversary. I had planned to be celebrating with a cruise to the Caribbean or something of the like. Instead I found myself surrounded by waters not so tropical. After a long day at work I came home to an empty house and a shaggy lawn. Hot as it was I got out the mower and tackled it. By the time I was done I was sweaty and approaching grumpy (heat does that to me) so I grabbed a floatie and jumped in the pool.

Normally our small pool is not relaxing. Fun? Yes. But relaxing? Not so much. With 4 very energetic kids anytime I get in the pool I’m just hoping to survive. But yesterday was different. The kids are visiting their dad for the week so it was just me in the pool.

It was one of those perfect summer days. The sky was a blue as it gets with big whiter than white clouds. The birds were chirping and feasting and providing silly entertainment and the trees were dancing in the slight breeze. As I laid there floating I thought to myself that at that exact moment I was blissfully happy.

How is that even possible?

Last Sunday we studied the connection between joy and anguish. They are strangely tied together all through scripture. In our lesson Beth Moore was talking about how sometimes God morphs our anguish into joy. Literally turning one into the other.

You turned my wailing into dancing;

you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy

Psalm 30:11

Only God can do that. Only God can reach into the depths of our despair and transform pain into praise. Only God can take what was broken and create beauty. Only God can birth joy out of sorrow.

A lot of times I think we believe that we either have one or the other. We must be joyful or sad. Broken or whole. Hurting or healed. But maybe the secret is that in our hearts there is room for both. I think of Jesus weeping as He walked to raise His friend from the dead. Of Jesus embracing the cross for the Joy set before Him. And I wonder… can joy and anguish co-exist?

Angie Smith in her book Bring the Rain which she wrote after the death of her fourth child said “Grief and joy danced together as if they had the right to.” And don’t they? Don’t grief and joy often go hand in hand. Beauty and ashes. Joy and mourning. Praise and despair. Because in the sorrow, in the darkness, there is always God. And He is the source of Joy. Joy was there when Steven looked up from the pile of stones surrounding him and saw His Savior’s face. Joy was there with Paul & Silas as praise filled their hearts and their prison. Joy, surrounded by sorrow.

Today grief and joy dance together, because they have a right to.

~Keri