Even Easter Points Back To The Garden

If you know anything about me, you know I love the Garden.

Not the one in my backyard, that resembles a weed patch…my passion rests within the Garden that God created and named as Eden. Throughout my years of teaching and writing I am always returning to the Garden. But recently I have been returning to it in a new way—through the Crucifixion.

It’s been this journey of writing and blogging about parenting and teenagers that has drawn me back this time to THE place that holds our deepest identity. The Garden is where the Creator crafted us to bear an image that we are told directly reflects and is rooted in God.

Sure, the Garden is part of our creation and that’s wonderful, but what about our pain? The places that we experience darkness, fear or stress in relation to parenting our teenagers? Does the garden hold any significance for that?

The night before Jesus died, he gathered with friends, ate a great meal, washed people’s feet, sipped his last wine and then did something that seems significant–he went to the garden.

Can’t you just imagine it? Jesus and his friends entering this place that holds life, yet is covered by the deep encompassing darkness of night. He did not go alone to this place, but instead he invited a few to come with him and asks them to “keep watch”.

Do you have those kind of friends? The ones who will enter dark places with you?

Jesus returns to this place where Life began and cries out to the point of sweating blood. Science confirms that this physical reaction can occur when the body feels deep stress. And somehow, this comforts me. Why? Because the very real physical reaction Jesus’ body is having makes him seem close, more real, and more relevant in relating to the messiness of pain.

Jesus was no stranger to pain. And neither are we. Some of the emails I’ve received this month relating to teens reveal:

  • a father wrestling for hope, while a son’s sexual actions are threatening the family financially…
  • a mother who has not heard from her daughter in weeks…
  • a pregnant teenager scared to come home…
  • parents torn apart by a son’s one night stand that will leave permanent physical scars…

The Garden is a place that holds life, but also it’s a place where we pour forth our greatest pains, fears, stresses  and ask God to meet us there, beg God to take this away. I would love to “let this cup pass” and drink from another. But, Jesus models something beautiful that I believe is at the core of what the Garden holds for us when we dare to return, to God, especially to the darkness:

The Garden holds DELIGHT.

Yes, Eden in Hebrew means delight. I don’t mean the kind where you feel giddy and want to frolic in the tulips. No, no, not that kind. Instead the kind of delight that’s deep within the core of who God is. The God who will not leave you and will not forsake you — no matter how deep the darkness is that you walk through.

So to you, my fellow parents, who might be facing some of what may seem like the darkness of night in parenting, you are not alone…

I invite you to return to the Garden, gather the sacred friends that will go with you (even if they do fall asleep for awhile), because you are not alone…

Jesus showed us the way to the cross, but it involved returning first to the Garden, the place where our deepest identity began and our image was made–by the One who will walk with us…





My Baby As a Sexual Being

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, sex education was not in my repertoire of anticipated parental highlights. No really … I promise. It wasn’t.

But I’m here to tell you, whether we as parents like it or not, the moment our sexual act of conceiving a child begins, so does the child’s sexual education.

So how do we teach children about sexuality?

How do we nurture into them the truth of who they are? How do we begin noticing how their sexuality is a part of them and name this sexuality with intention while nurturing without shame this wild and wonderful part of their being?

I have only one suggestion.

We must return to the beginning. Their beginning. Our beginning.

She was such a wee thing, ten fingers and toes her sweet body scrunched up into the small hollow of my arm, nestled in total abandon and trust. Her gentle breath coming in and out like a whisper that was suddenly causing me to listen for what she had to share with me.

I was in love.

This pure innocent life stole my heart and has never returned it to me. Do you know the feeling?

In amongst the feeding…burping…changing…sleep deprivation…it somehow never dawned on me, a profound and simple truth…

My sweet precious baby in my arms was a sexual being.

Scripture tells us, we are made in the image of God. A child reveals a glimpse of wonder for who God IS and at birth I was invited to hold this new, never before created image of the wonder of God…

….my child bears my own DNA but also my child bears the image of God.

I can return in my mind to those moments of birth and see clearly this something, this image that was real in each of my children, a pure and sacred part of life.

Do we see and value those images of God that are etched into our children? And yes, even into our teenagers?

Did God intend them to be sexual beings?

Often we are frightened by how life, culture and hormones transform a seemingly simple child into a raging hormonal whirlwind waiting to blow at any moment. We think the worst. After all, we remember our own struggles and can fail to see that the place holding the origins of our children’s sexuality is the hand of OUR Creator.

Thank God. Literally.

There is a lot to learn about sexuality when we return to the beginning, our Source of life.

Will we dare to invite our children to enter both the joys and struggles of how sexuality can teaches us about who we are and how we were created?

It will be a journey. But this journey is so needed. And so good.

Home Sick

“Anyone pulled from a source longs to go back.” No pen/paper available and having vowed off texting while driving, these words have lingered in my mind, though I cannot remember who said it. The surprise is that these words kept returning me to places that I had been “pulled away” from a source and have sought to go back:

A childhood home, friend or memory – seeking to touch a part of my past…

Birthing my children, experiencing the loss of them in my womb – letting go…

Tears over the phone with one I love – longing of  “I want to see you now…”

And yes even creation in Genesis – man and woman separated….

There is a point in creation where God firmly, but gently extracts from deep within one to reveal two. “…this is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, she shall be called woman.”  At that moment the man sees with new eyes who he is, because of who the woman is, now before him.

Being released and called out of...

While many see this as a moment of unity, joining the two, I just wonder if there isn’t something more here? Did they feel the loss of the places of being held/holding?

After all the woman was within the man-now she is separated from and outside…

The man sheltered and held the woman-now he is separated and feeling a void…

To be pulled from a source of home, that first place of being, creates a longing to return. Every kid that has ever gone away to camp has experienced this in some way…a heart tugging to return home, to that which is known and anchors us.

The risk God took is that we would see our Creator as the source of our home, not one another.

Can I see my Creator in me? Do I see the source of my home?

Do I taste of home being within my Creator or that which was created?

I want to be home sick…

Womb of God

Two days till Christmas and in the middle of the night with a sense of urgency I popped out of bed (maybe it was the rich meal I had the night before). Churning emotions, began to tumble within me and the only identifying label I could name was anxiety… I walked about my house in the dark, with only the light of the night sky shining in through the windows. With a blanket I curled up in the front window and I let the night hours hold me for a bit, and the questions began to arise…

How could God entrust, into the hands of this earth, an innocent Son to be carried by a young girl?

Did God know that the place of birth would be a dirty stable with animals breath as a heating system?

And I am called to trust God?

I mean come on, really what was the thought process on behalf of this child? I have kids and I know the longing of a parent’s heart to create pathways that include the very best, I was suddenly a little pissed at God…

Maybe it was the magnitude of the night sky’s expanse, the silence of the walls surrounding me or the lack of sleep but clear as a bell as I made space to hold these questions, I felt what I can only describe as a warm gust of peace stirring around me and it landed gently within my growing agitation (I seem to be experiencing polar opposites these days with some consistency).

Maybe the itchy-raw hay would have felt like a haven of rest after traveling on a donkey’s backside?  Might Joseph have needed to see provision as more than a place to live?

If I don’t truly experience the process and birthing of where I am, I will never learn to live the parts life I have been given. The only way God could ever have known it was okay to entrust Jesus to the womb of a young girl was that the young girl had been born of the womb of God….her origin was from within God as well. The womb of God creates life within us.

This morning I opened my inbox and found a beautiful post from Madeline L’Engle about the womb of God. It comes from her work in Bright Evening Star. Her words are poetic and inspiring and for my blurry eyes they confirmed that the PEACE of God is holding even my anxious questions in a sacred place that creates life, the very womb of God holds me…