April Snows & The Magnificent God of the Trivial

Yesterday I woke to this our my bedroom window. And went to bed to the same. This is the season of impatience and wonder. Week after week we wonder---are we stuck with this forever? Snow shifts to rain, then sleet, then a sunbreak turns our faces to the sky in shock and gratitude 

and for just a moment we bask, open-mouthed

                         (Mark Balsa Photography)

for twenty minutes, when the clouds turn and our mouths are filled with snow, then gale-ing winds, then hail. We learn to shut our mouths when we go outside. We get depressed.

All day and night, the ocean sucks at the foundation of our house . . .


       This is the season of unending winter, and this is a week like every week of the glorious and inglorious, all mixed up together: A Recitation Contest at my sons' school, then another at another school. Today an hour long radio interview on the hardest subject ever. Days in bed, and a doctor visit for my 12 year old son's ingrown toenail while I am hoping not to heave, still recovering from a week-long virus. 

This was the week in our Home Group when we made sandwiches for the homeless shelter. 

And the week for visits with a hurting friend. A meeting with the Arts Council for an upcoming play, and calls to my brother who is desperate for help with his son, and 

and in and among all this it's time to clean my refrigerator and scrub the burnt meat off the grill and change the sheets and feed the dog and take out the trash . . .  I don't want to do any of this. I want only to do the important things. The things that matter . . . 

 And while this week sweeps me up in its skirts of the trivial and the necessary, friends are diagnosed with cancer and husbands are leaving wives and terrorists are killing believers . . .    

           I have to learn not to repent of my trivial life while others are sick and suffering. I must go on cleaning my refrigerator and making spaghetti and bandaging my sons' toe---because this is what God wants me to do. God has not given up on any of this---not the suffering of the families who lost their fathers and husbands and sons, and not any of us as we whirl through our quotidian hours---and the weather reminds me of this. 

The weather around the world, from drought to torrent  is but the flick of his eyelash, a thought, a word spoken that holds back a storm-risen sea and lets loose a deluge or keeps the sun burning warm. But never is His eye dulled or inattentive. His daily word keeps atoms spinning around invisible matter, holds the earth in orbit, keeps the sun in its place.

        And He is the God over late-stage cancer and ingrown toenails, who gave His people laws about cooking, mildew and skin infections. He is the God who counts every hair on your head and who mourns  the fall of a sparrow no one else sees, who delights in the thighs of the behemoth, who counts the days until the doe in the thicket gives birth, watching intently as she labors. He is the God who says, "Everything under heaven belongs to me!" 

And that includes us. And every silly scrap of our lives that we think too small for this great God: that, too---the trash, spaghetti, sheets, leaky roof, sick dog, sticky refrigerator---that, too. From Him. And God desires that we are present to Him in these details just as He is present to us. With Him. 

Don't let the terrorists win. Don't let despair, cancer, the suffering of others steal the joy God has for you today even in the tiny places of your life. The battleground is not just overseas---it's right here in front of you: the basket of dirty laundry, the mold in your bathtub, the stacked dishes beside the sink, the sandwiches for the shelter, the child awaiting your attention, the report that's due tomorrow.  

Offer it all back in gratitude and joy. Refuse guilt. Know God is at work here as surely as He is work in Palestine, in the terrorist camps, in hospitals. Yes, feel small and insignificant, but know He is the Magnificent God of Tiny Things. That's us.    

"Love this day," my friend Laura says. Tomorrow as it blows and rains, I will see God in it, and I will Love the God who made it, who showers all of us daily with the tiniest tasks and the greatest salvation. 

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, 
continue to live your lives rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness."

The Tragedy of Human Ken & Barbie and The Gorgeous Image of God

My 12 year old son got braces this week. Not long after, I was shopping in Walmart and overheard a woman talking to her daughter. "God made everyone beautiful," she said impatiently. The daughter looked about 13. She was short, plump, with pigtails and---braces. I smiled, knowing exactly how it felt to look like that----except I would have killed for the braces. My crooked teeth would not see braces until well after I was married. I would hide my teeth and try very hard not to laugh.

      I wonder what the daughter asked. Maybe, 'Why am I not beautiful like other people?" Or, "Why are some people ugly and some beautiful?"

      The mother could have given another answer. She could have said, "Well honey, if you don't like your looks, you can undergo a series of expensive, risky surgeries including implants, nose jobs, liposuction, gel fillers and so much more.  You can reach perfection dear! You too can look like a doll! You go girl!" 

 She could direct her to one or all of the Human Barbie's now vying for our attention. This newest one, another from Ukraine is only 16 years old. She explains her attempt to look like a Barbie doll this way:

"I started dressing up like this (as a doll) because I want to look perfect. I think that all women should be well-kept and immaculate. I wanted to be my own inspiration."  

She's late on the scene, though. Another Ukrainian woman, Valerie Lukyanova has held the title of "Human Barbie" for several years:

She underwent radical plastic surgery to achieve her goal, to be "the most perfect woman on the Internet."  Just last year, she announced she had become a Breatharian, forgoing food and water to live on air and light alone. (This is for real. More here:)

      This sweet mother in Walmart could also have directed her to the Human Ken, who is proud of his now 140 surgeries to attain his plastic-doll looks:

And here's the lovely couple together:

       Justin (Human Ken) has had a few complications. When being injected with gel to create fake muscles, his body reacted. He was partially paralyzed for a brief time. Now, he's helping to pioneer what all beauty-seekers will soon be clamoring for: six-packs, biceps, deltoids, all the muscle definition you want without a moment of sweaty exercise. You simply get gel implants, like Justin's:

With muscles sculpted from plastics and silicon, with a blank face, he's clearly closing in on the doll!!

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended a documentary film festival. The first film I saw was,  "On Beauty." It was the rare kind of movie that elicited from the audience a spontaneous burst of applause that would not stop. I was among the applauders. Here is why:

I've become a huge fan of Rick Guidotti and his organization Positive Exposure.

Here are some of my favorite portraits:

Thomas Merton has written,

“We are what we love. If we love God, in whose image we were created, we discover ourselves in him and we cannot help being happy: we have already achieved something of the fullness of being for which we were destined in our creation. If we love everything else but God, we contradict the image born in our very essence, and we cannot help being unhappy, because we are living a caricature of what we are meant to be.” 

                                                     ― Thomas MertonA Book of Hours

We are living a caricature of what we were meant to be.

     I dont' know if Rick knows Jesus, but I want to see through  my own eyes as he sees through his camera. I want to see and witness to the stunning image of God in all people.  

 Do you not see it too, all around you? The ravishing glorious beauty of God in human flesh?

Let us all open our God-made eyes to see as He sees.