Chaos, Interrupted

I watched as my pastor bounced up and down with excitement while delivering the good news of the Gospel to us one Sunday morning, even as I questioned my own faith. My spiritual life felt dry and dreary. I sang the usual worship songs, but not with much enthusiasm. I listened to the sermon, but I wasn’t moved. Where had my excitement gone over the past several months? Where was my desire for Christ?

As I sat and listened to the Good News I panicked when it didn’t move me. Something had to be done. I longed for the closeness with Christ that I felt I had as recently as a few short months ago. I was weary of my parched-desert and decided that I had to find my way out. And so I began to scheme. I made a promise to myself that I would wake up the next (Monday) morning and get back into the Word. I pledged to read and pray and write. Surely this will fuel me. Surely this will change my spiritual posture. And then maybe I, too, could hop up and down as my pastor did, Christ flooding my heart.

My well-intentioned plans were thrown out the window when Monday morning slapped me in the face: arguing kids, a missing shoe, and a reluctant kindergartner who greeted the morning with, “I’m not going to school!” All I could think about was hurrying the kids out the door so I could get to the business of getting out of this spiritual desert—surely that would make me a better mom and wife. If I had joy in Christ, then I could have joy in raising my children…or so I believed.

As I pulled my car into the drop-off line at school, my kindergartner’s protest began to escalate. I could see that this would not be a battle easily won. Even my other children saw it; they were begging me to let them out of the car quickly because they could see the gathering clouds of the impending storm.

As the teacher opened the door of the car, cheerfully greeting my kids, our eyes met. Even she could see that this was going to be another one of those days. I stepped out of the car and wrestled my six-year-old onto the sidewalk. I managed to make it to the gate before being kicked in the shin and informed that I was hated in front of what seemed like the entire school. In pain and anger, I made it very clear to him that he was never to kick his mommy again. And like that, I had terrified an entire group of five- and six-year-olds who had formed a semi-circle around our wrestling match.

Then I did the unthinkable: I burst into tears.

I broke down not only in front of my son’s friends, but in front of all the parents and teachers that I had worked so hard all year to impress.

I just cried.

In my moment of weakness, I suddenly saw very clearly what God was doing. Even though my day began by quickly spiraling out of control, my spiritual sand dunes began to transform to look more and more like lush waterfalls. In all of my planning and effort to bring myself out of my desert, God was showing me something that I needed more: weakness. In midst of the Monday morning chaos, I saw Christ more active in my public weeping than I would have on a benign morning of quiet study and solitary prayer.

I did read my bible that morning. In fact, I couldn’t wait to read it. I needed it like someone dying of thirst, crawling across the desert, desperate for a cup of life-giving water. God used my weakness—not my strength—to bring me out of the desert. Had things gone as planned, I would have forged ahead believing it was up to me to find more faith and that it was up to me to manufacture some kind of excitement toward the gospel.

When we take it upon ourselves to work to get closer to Christ, like I did, we slip back into the false notion that gaining more faith is something that we can accomplish. There is no amount of list-making and effort-giving that will give us more of him. No. He wants us to throw away those lists for a simple reason: it’s not about what we do for God; it’s about what he has done for us. Faith is a gift that cannot be earned.

It is the times of chaos and the difficult days that force us to our knees. It is on our knees where we find grace. The humiliation of that Monday morning—a suffering that caused a death to my put-together self—was the avenue by which Jesus brought life to my parched soul. No work, no matter how good and indisputably right, can make us love Christ more.

It is good news that we remain his beloved whether we are having a respectable moment (calmly dealing with an angry child) or an appalling moment (yelling at that child in front of the whole school). The Good News causes us to stand in awe of him.

It is in our weakness that we are finally able to see how much we need his strength.

It is in our weakness that he calls out to us, drawing us to him for strength.

It is in our weakness that we find Christ.

Jesus Loves the Scantily Clad

I made myself a pair of cut-offs before heading to the beach last week, only this time I cut them to hit a whole four inches above my knee. Gasp! Scandalous, I know! But for me this is yet another step in my freedom from the life that I was once bound to; a life of rule keeping, list embracing, and a shame-based moral code with no room for error.

You see, for a woman like me who once donned only skirts and dresses that fell below my knees, believing that pants were immodest, that I should wear shirts with neck lines up to my ears. I also had a heart that believed I was doing it all right; shorter shorts are a big step in a good direction. For a woman like me, and maybe like you, modesty has been yet another mask of the imposturous self; another link on the chain of imprisonment.

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Mother’s Day: Love It and Hate It

Mother’s Day. I kind of love it and I sort of hate it.

My kids are so sweet; they make me cards and I always enjoy at least one piece of toast in bed. And if life hasn’t been too ridiculous, my husband will have endured a trip with four kids to the dollar isle at Target for a new pizza cutter or a dish towel. I love the homemade cards that tell me that I am the “Best Mom Ever.” I proudly hang them on my fridge. I just wish they spoke the truth.

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What Is Grace?

What is Grace?

“Shut up!” How childish that sounds coming from a mother of four. Immature, cutting words passed through my lips, taking flight as they hit the air, piercing my eight-year-old’s tender heart. Before I knew it, the words were gone, a vapor I could not grasp and stuff back in. The regret came fast and lingered through the evening. I’d done it again.

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Easter Is For Losers

Holidays always make me feel like a loser.

It’s a time that I let the comparison crud creep into my heart more than others.

It’s all around me, in my face: the crafts, the traditions, the moms who make every day special (or so it seems).

It’s what I begin to rate my motherhood by.

Am I doing enough? Is it special enough, unique enough, healthy enough, elaborate enough, simple enough, spiritual enough, fun enough?

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The End Of The List

As I get to the beginning of a new year and read the world’s lists of resolutions, I can’t help but feel like a bit of a loser: I just don’t seem to care. I have no interest in trying harder in 2015. I have no desire to write out a list of what I want to do better this year.

Sure, I think it would be great if this was the year that I got in shape, or if I made it past the book of Numbers in my Bible reading plan. But I highly doubt that writing these things down on a list—once again—will get me any further than it has in previous years.

What do you think? Am I a loser because I lack motivation to better myself? Is my negativity bringing you down? Shouldn’t I have a little bit more hope in myself to affect change?

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Jesus Pushed the Elf Off the Shelf

“Mommy, if there really was a naughty and nice list we would all be on the naughty list.”

This statement from my seven year old had much greater theological depth than she knew. Her observation didn’t come from a manipulative self-pity over being naughty. It came from a clear view of what she knows about the gospel: “None is righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).

As the traditions of the holidays swirl around my children, my hope is that they will learn to distinguish the law from the gospel. I want my kids to know that God is not another Santa Claus. I long for them to embrace the fact that they are not capable of being good enough to receive anything but coal in their stockings and that our hope for goodness can only be found in the only One capable of perfection.

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My Pipe Dream Now A Reality: UPDATE from Kimm

Dear readers,

It’s been a year and a half since I sent an email with the subject line: “Something to Think About”. It’s that very email that started this whole Dropping Keys deal. I wanted to start a blog that would be considered a “safe place” for people who had been oppressed by the law but were never given the freedom of grace. I wanted a place where readers could come and not have to wade through myriads of how-to posts before they read something that would feed their soul. I desired to share the law and gospel in a way that made Christ beautiful and dropped keys of freedom into the hands of beautiful rowdy prisoners. So I called upon a small group of Jesus loving Twitter friends. We had just officially met over lunch at Liberate 2013, and it was apparent that these women had the same passion for sharing Christ through the written word as I did. So, via the above mentioned email, I threw out the idea of putting together a blog that created a place where we could freely write about the outrageousness grace, a place you could freely come, empty handed, and receive.

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Where Can I Find Joy?

I think I do a pretty good job of hiding behind my sense of humor, but those that know me well know I’m–on the inside–a melancholy, introspective kind of person that thinks, cares, and lives too deeply. It’s my nature as a “realist” not to look on the bright side of things but rather to think through what might happen if I were never to reach the bright side. I’m prone to depression; I must always be reminded that things aren’t “so bad.”

So, when I’m told to “choose joy,” I wonder if joy is actually a choice. I wonder, how does one go about choosing joy?

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The List

During my early thirties, my over active guilt glands were at their peak, self-introspection was killing me and depression had its long bony fingers firmly grasped around my neck. For several years, every day felt like a matter of survival. Every day felt like failure.

Amongst my drawer full of books that instructed me on how to be a better Christian, wife, mother (etc.), there was a self made list to which I often added new items. It was a list of my sins. A list that grew longer as each minute passed. Every night I would pull it out, stare it down, and wonder how I could ever be forgiven for all that I had done; wonder how anyone could love me who knew all of these things about me; wondered how tomorrow I’d expunge these sins from my record. The list became an obsession to the point that I could feel its presence in that drawer throughout the day. It was calling out to me the shame of the secrets that I longed to be set free from.

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