Why Dessert Should Sometimes Be First

Remember when you were little? When life was – well, less complicated? When you didn’t refuse dessert because of “too many calories” or “I shouldn’t really” or “If I do I’ll regret it tomorrow when I look on the scale”. Refuse it even as you eye it the way you used to eye the cute new guy or girl in junior high?

When did life become less dessert and more left overs? Was it with a first heart-break? Or in the middle of teething babies and toddler tantrums? Was it when kids began to question and faith got harder, doubt and apathy easier?

Did life become more left overs and less dessert because of dashed dreams and forfeited goals? Did dessert get left out because expectations were not realized and life brought more sorrow than you dared think you could handle?

In the middle of a world that offers leftovers, sometimes we need to serve dessert first. Just because. Just to remind ourselves that there is sweetness still to be had in life.

Dessert first to surprise and delight tiny people who have to eat their vegetables. Dessert first to change the normal, spice the routine. Dessert first because God is good, and offers Sweet Grace in the midst of leftovers.

Today, or sometime soon – have dessert first!


That Dang Love Chapter!

20130117-181301.jpgOn that sneaky little Sunday tucked suspiciously between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day our minister preached an upsetting sermon. Taken from the apostle Peter’s second epistle, it was about remembering and repetition.

There’s nothing wrong with hearing the same old stuff over and over again. In fact that is how we learn. That’s how we grow.

The upsetting part was a tiny little moment of illustration.

Pastor Steve was speaking from his own experiences even from his recent past. Some of what God had been repeating to him in the quietness of his own soul was from the famous ‘love chapter’–1 Corinthians 13. You know,
​“ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not ​dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love ​does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always ​hopes, always perseveres.”
Ministers, more than any of us, are exposed to that wonderful passage. Over the course of their careers they preach on it at countless weddings, they hear dozens of sermons on it, they deliver dozens of sermons on it. They do well to take it to heart and understand that even if they communicate in the language of their parishioners, even if they understand the heart of God and have big faith, if they sacrifice everything for the sake of those they minister to—they are reduced to nothing unless they love, and love well. Steve had been learning that again.

And then he said the most annoying thing
He had come to the conclusion that if he was inpatient or unkind, if he was at all self-seeking or easily angered it wasn’t the problem of the person he was trying to love–it wasn’t his son’s fault, nor his wife’s—it was his. It meant there was a lack of love in his own heart.

And that made me mad!

What exactly was he saying? It’s not my children’s fault? When they don’t listen, when they persist in ignoring me, when they are ungrateful and rude, when they don’t pick up after I’ve “repeated” it 1000 times? When they assume I’ll do something, when they take me for granted, when they leave messes and piles in newly cleaned places?

How can the anger I feel not be their fault? This anger, irritation, frustration, rage that creeps and crescendos more often than I’d care to admit — how is it possibly a reflection of my own heart?
Later at home, away from the polite piety of church, with a morning mug of coffee, I thought hard about these things. I read and reread the passage. I thought about my own heart. I remembered and reflected on my responses to real life.

And I realized it really is true.

It’s not Connor’s, or Adelaide’s, or Bronwynn’s fault. Yes, life in family can be exasperating. But that’s where we’re supposed to learn to love. It’s where we own our own responses. It’s where we honestly admit our lack of capacity to love well on our own, without a Tutor who’s name is Love. It’s where we say I’m sorry. I didn’t love well. Please forgive me.

I’m not saying that children don’t sometimes put mothers over the edge. They do. But I’m saying that I’m responsible for my own responses. Lately the love’s been spread too thin.
I asked God to lead me into Love this year. Let this be the year I learn to love, to love really, to love well.

Fierce Love

Deutsch: Ein Löwe wird verwendet um Aslan darz...

I’m not sure when I first realized that my love for my children was a fierce love. Was it when I held my first-born and counted fingers and toes? Was it on the way to the emergency room cradling a 2-year-old with a gash over his left eye? Or was it when I watched one of them being excluded from a game or play time?  Whatever event or time it came over me that this was not a quiet, comfortable, sit down by the fire love. Rather, it was a fierce love characterized by strong emotion and equally strong action.

Maternal love is a fiercely protective love lest anyone hurt my children. It is a believing love – wanting to give the benefit of the doubt. It is a hunting down love – I will get you. I will hunt you down if you hurt my kid. My maternal love wants to be a building up love – hugging tightly even as a vice grips my heart at their hurt, wiping salty tears away and praying for the words to encourage and heal the wound. Maternal love is a fierce love.

And so when I read the words that describe God’s love I think I get it. From metaphors of labor pains, bears with cubs, and leopards I am given a picture of a fierce and female love that defends and protects, often at a great cost.

“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.” Isaiah 49:15

“Listen to me, you descendants of Jacob,
all the remnant of the people of Israel,
you whom I have upheld since your birth,
and have carried since you were born.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:3,4

In the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia  “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe“, before the four Pevensie children have met Aslan they talk with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about him. In the conversation Susan and Lucy find out Aslan is a Lion.

“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”

Maternal love has never been just a comfortable, safe love. And no matter how much I may want to portray God’s love as comfortable and safe all the metaphors tell me it’s so much more. It’s a defending, all-encompassing, satisfying, nourishing, protecting and restoring love. Surely it’s a fierce love.