chapter one

get ready for the longest intro ever.

People blog for different reasons. To document their lives, show off their babes, connect with friends. I'd say I blog to spark. I blog to spark something in you, in her, reading during your kids' naptime or at your office desk. While you watch The Biggest Loser or before your first class. I sure don't write to teach you and probably not to entertain - but if I can spark something in you and in me, spark real life community, spark up a new dinner recipe, or a new perspective on my kids post-naptime grump... then that's a good blog day. Right? But sometimes lately, I just want to write. What I want to write. I've been waking up at 4am wanting to write and rushing through my bi-weekly shower just to get out and jot my thoughts down. Anyhow, it's all way too long to be considered a blog and it all feels connected to this one idea. But surely it couldn't be a book because I don't know anyone in their right mind who'd want to read a book by me. But if this was all building a book, what follows would be chapter one. 

Not so much your typical blog, but a first thought in a series of long thoughts about one subject.
..............

The other night I was talking to my sister and Nick about churches. Typical. Since becoming believers, we've been church people. Not just gone to them - loved them, worked at them, spent our spare time in them. Over the years, the Lord has graciously taught us about being careful in our words concerning His bride, the church. In the past, I've haughtily spouted off my opinions and perceptions about churches I've been in or seen from a distance. The power of the Holy Spirit, in conjuction with being an early church planter's wife has softened me. It's coming. Our first big mistake. Our sixteen little mistakes in one week. Our first disgruntled member. Nick's first bad sermon. And in the grace I beg the Lord for preemptively, I close my mouth (or try very, very hard) when talk could turn to tearing down one of the bride. 

This night, my sister brought up a point that I hope stays etched on my heart forever. We're trying to use really graceful words to describe different churches without necessarily calling one right or one wrong. Trying to acknowledge separate visions and endeavors, in a respectful-comparison-way, since we're all on the same team. But she points out - differences in churches, theologies, ministry-styles, buildings and worship services aside... and with grace in heavy consideration, churches are usually characterized by something. Known for something. The one on my heart tonight, sadly, in my mind - is slowly becoming characterized by broken marriages in leadership. This other one, by a really gentle and powerful undertone of the Holy Ghost's control. This one, good works for the sake of their city. This other one, unashamed attractional gospel. Some wear their characterization like a name badge, some fight so hard against is they're known more for their defensive than anything else. But beautifully, sometimes, a church, His bride, can look at herself - the style of her dress, and see... THIS is not what I'm supposed to be wearing. And gently, lovingly He looks on her with grace and shows her the simple, slow, gracious steps to the right attire. "This, Love, is more appropriate", He says.

Afterwards, she isn't characterized by her shame of needing to change or the damage done by misstep. She's known by the honor and praise she brings Him in her obedience. She's characterized by the new gown of glory He gives. 


And at this point in the conversation, I let my eyes rest on my husband. Because they've moved on and I'm still reeling alone in this whole "characterized as" analogy. So today, it's just for me to dwell on. I've now made the short jump into my dangerous waters of introspection and I'm obsessed with what in the world I'm known by. What have I been known as in the past and what would a complete stranger know me as after a short conversation? If my husband wrote a paper saying, "this is who you are", what would it say and why does it matter? Would I agree with his synopsis? With yours? What does the Lord characterize me as, what am I known by to Him? And oh my goodness, what in the world does He WANT me to be known by. 


So there it is. 
This little ball rolling all around in my heart. Because the old questions of "do other people think I'm a good mom?" and "do I look like I've had three kids?", those wonderings are fading. Instead now I'm wondering, "Am I known as someone who would serve you like Jesus, or known by someone who weighs their own rights; their own needs before anything else?" More questions like, "Am I known by my mothering or Father?". When the dust settles, yes I'm a believer, yes I'm a mom, yes I'm a wife, yes - I have messy blond hair and a penchant for yoga pants. 
But what in the world am I known by?