The sound was deafening. The crunch, smash and explosions of the collision could be heard through out time and across space.

They still echo today. In our questions….

“If God is loving and full of grace- how can he allow anyone go to hell?”

“If God is just and we all sin…how can anyone o to heaven?”

Are these ideas incongruent?  Is one statement a lie and the other true?  It just doesn’t make sense.

In a world of mathematical “if, then” statements… can both statements be true? What would happen if they were?

I think they are- and I think that seeming conflict, that incongruency and nonsense…. caused a violent collision.

At the corner of justice and grace.

There was no squealing of tires.

There was no ambulance wail announcing his injuries or quietly driving away carrying his body to the morgue.

But there was a sound. One that had never been heard before or since. The sound of God taking on flesh- of justice colliding with grace and causing carnage to his body.

It was brutal. Bloody. Painful. Horrifying. Some wept. Some cheered. All were affected. Many still are. I am.

He was more than mangled. He was:

Alone.

Cast off.

Forgotten.

Abandoned.

Left in a tomb. To rot.

Except, he didn’t.

He could have escaped.

Except, he didn’t.

He could have called down angels to save him….

Except, he didn’t.

The story didn’t end with carnage. Instead- Somehow- the brokeness, the abandonment the pain… transformed. On a Sunday morning 3 days later.

He rose. I don’t know how.

But in that moment- carnage and death and sin and pain were overcome. They became: Freedom. Peace. Love. Joy. Salvation. Forgiveness. Life.

I don’t know how.

I believe that the only way for grace and justice to both exist and both be true- was for them to collide. And become one. Transformed. Then risen.In him.

It wasn’t a collision at a crossroad…it was on a cross. The transformation happened in a tomb…. and over 2000 years later-it happened again, in my heart.

Today- I celebrate the sacrifice that Jesus made, not in a joyful party or in some sick relishing of his pain… but in thanks, for what it accomplished.

I don’t have all the answers. (The truth is I probably have more questions than answers.)  But today- when reading the story of Good Friday and Easter Sunday….I heard the collision’s echoes. Did you?

Dear Lord- I have so many questions….the truth is it doesn’t make sense that you’d take on flesh live perfectly and then die innocently and that would be the final perfect sacrifice that would free us all from sin and pain and death…it doesn’t make sense that Christ would die and then rise again… it sounds like a fairytale. And yet- the sound of that collision still echoes. It echoes in the prophecies that were fulfilled. It echoes in the evidence and the stories…but most of all it echoes in my heart. Where once was just an empty tomb…. but now is life and joy. I love you Lord- and celebrate your sacrifice….thanks is not enough- but it is what I have to give. I love you Lord- amen

For my readers and friends-

Maybe you have questions. Maybe you don’t think this makes sense either. I get it. But today- and through this weekend- as so many celebrate not just the collision- but the fusion of grace and justice….I ask you to listen. Take a few minutes to read the prophecies about The Messiah, and see if and how they were fulfilled. Maybe read the whole story  in the Gospel of John….see if it echoes in your heart…

There is so much more to Easter… than eggs and chocolate….;)

Happy Easter-

And for those who believe differently?  Thank you for grace and patience as I express what I believe… ;)

Also- I have to thank Dan Pratt- one of pastors at our church– for speaking the simple words: Where grace and justice collide…. and inspiring this post…. some words just resonate when we take the risk to share them:)

I hoped I’d run out of invitations.

I hoped my pen would run out of ink.

I considered accidently “forgetting” just. one. name. The name of my child’s bully. I just didn’t want to include him in this party.

Him. The child who votes my kid out of clubs third graders create on a daily basis. The child who makes Noah (9) have a stomach ache and long to stay home from school. The child who’s a friend one day and an enemy the next. The child who has provoked more phone calls to the school in 6 months, than I’ve had to make altogether, in 21 years of parenting. The child Noah wants to be friends with (Noah wants EVVERYONE to be his friend-)… but is (at least on occasion) a bully.

The truth is: I wanted to give him a taste of his own medicine. I wanted to leave him out. I wanted to hurt his feelings.

I wanted to bully, the bully.

I just wanted Noah to enjoy his own birthday party without fear of being bullied. And I wanted revenge. and I wanted to do the right thing.

Not just what felt right. I did a bible word search for “bully.” It’s not there.

But….something about doing to others as you’d have them do to you… is. Likewise is some nonsense about kind words turning away wrath. And some crazy thing about turning the other cheek. And vengeance belonging to God. ugh.

I didn’t run out of invitations.

The pen didn’t run out of ink.

I couldn’t forget that name.

And as the pen hovered over the final invitation, I remembered the note I’d received at the beginning of the school year.“If your child brings invitations to school to give distribute, please either include everyone in class, or distribute outside of class. We don’t want to hurt feelings by excluding some people.” I didn’t want to. I thought about making it a smaller party. Distributing invitations outside of class. But Noah wanted to invite the whole class.

I had a choice. Would I bully the bully by excluding him….? Or respond in grace and do what I felt was right: invite him, keep an eye on the situation and hope for the best? would I put into practice the gospel I say I believe….or allocate it to only places where it’s comfortable to do so?

I wrote out the invitation. (I may have forgotten to include the time… ) I shoved the invitations into a ziplock bag and threw up a quiet prayer….

“Lord- this kid infuriates me. I don’t like him. I want to exclude him. The truth is- I want to hurt his feelings. But he’s yours. He’s precious. He’s loved. I’ll invite him. But it would be nice if he didn’t come.” Amen

I talked to Noah about how he felt. And about the weird verses that seem so fitting- and awful in this circumstance. We prayed. we discussed options. We talked about feeling left out. We planned to tag team the kid if he got out of hand. (hey- my kid’s party means i get to confront – I’m in charge!) And Noah decided to invited him.

His was one of the first RSVP’s. I told his dad the partie’s time, when he called. Yes. The same time as everyone else. (I may have been tempted to tell him a different one. Maybe.)

I may have hoped he’d get that virus that was going around, and have to miss.

He didn’t. (Although I got it…good thing I don’t believe in karma..)

I’d like to say the party went without a hitch and the two boys have happily ever after been friends.

It didn’t. (My husband ended up telling the kid to layoff- in the middle of the party. ) They aren’t. And they may never be.

There have been more phone calls. More meetings. More tears and tummy aches.

But I know this- we did the right thing.

Do I think this is the answer to bullying? Do I think this is always the right thing? Nope. But it was this time.

Dear lord, I pray for this situation and so many other situations of bullying that happen everyday. I pray for those bullied and bullying… that they’d find your love and grow in it- instead of bitterness, vengeance and hate. I pray for every mom who’s pen is hovering as they face a decision to bully the bully or take the high road of grace….let us grow in love- even for the bully. amen oh? and lord? if my kid happens to give him a little smack down and give the kid a clue? I would happily discipline and love him through that- too.

Questions:

have you faced this kind of choice?
what did you choose, and why?
has your child been bullied and had the issue solved? how?
how do you deal with the inner momma bear that wants to bully the bully?


Funny how tough we are, when we’re wearing our “water wings”, showing our muscles and making our “game face” as long as were on land.

Too bad everything changes when we hit the water. The transformation is quick and complete…..we go from “WWF” to “Wah wah wah”.  At least I do.

How many times have we witnessed this picture? A loving Dad holding a trusting , yet, fearful, almost 4′ tall child, while standing in water that’s 3 1/2 feet deep. You hear screaming. But the screams are a mix of fear and fun and a desire  for reassurance.

I’m afraid I’ll DROWNDED” screams the child, holding his daddy’s neck like a boa constrictor holds it’s first meal in a month.

“You’re ok, I’ve got you” affirms Dad…

“HOLD ME, DADDY!” Screams the child.

“Do you want to get out?” Asks Dad…

“No..No OUT, I want to swim! But- HOLD ON TO ME!” Screams child.

“I’ve got you, I won’t let go.” Replies the dad, his voice nearly strangled by the little arms wrapped around his neck.

The Dad grimaces from the fingers digging into neck flesh, but carries on. He won’t let go. He loves that boy.

As they float and bounce along, the screams change to screeches of joy.

“More motor boat, Daddy!”  “Faster, Daddy! Dip me daddy!” Giggles now punctuate each word.

“Almost time for dinner, big guy” Dad warns– noticing the sun is now dipping into the horizon.

“NOOOOOOOOOO, I Swim!!!!!” screeches the now- fearless little man.

He’s no longer afraid, he’s swimming in the deep end… with his dad.

What changed?  What turned his fear into joy?

The only thing that changed was his trust.

His daddy had always been holding him. He just needed time to trust it…

There’s more than a swimming pool story here. There is the story of my journey with God. (more…)

J.R.R. Tolkien once asked the question What if there existed a place called Middle Earth, and What if Middle Earth were under threat? Every good story begins with some form of this question, and so does every life.  by-Don Miller,  you can read the rest of the post here.

What if…..

The question has haunted me.  Or maybe, it is my answers that haunt me.

tracey solomon says:

  • What f I just submitted the book proposal and it got published?
  • What if my basement was clean?
  • What if I let go of my past and moved into my future?
  • What if I exercised instead of complaining about my size?
  • What if my dream, IS God’s plan??

To each of my “what if’s” I withheld an unspoken “what if”…a fear.

  • What if I submitted the book proposal and it never got published?  Would that mean I’m not supposed to write?
  • What if I left the basement messy?  What if I don’t really CARE about my messy basement? Does that make me a bad mom?
  • What if I don’t know what pain the future may hold, and am afraid to face it? I know the pain of the past.  It’s familiar, in a sick way-it’s almost comfortable. ( At least: it’s predictable. and I can visit it at will.:P)
  • What if  lost weight and became “visible” again?  (umm yeah, being a little “fluffy” makes a woman kind of invisible… it’s true. I am wonder woman with invisibility powers!- also women judge thin women harsher..imo.. it’s not fun. Yes. see? I have issues. )
  • What if my dream is NOT God’s plan?  What if I made the whole thing up and am actually, just crazy?  What if it IS.. and I can’t handle it?

What if.. I stopped thinking so far  ahead and just did the next thing.  What if I took one small step in the direction of a what if… and that led to the next and the next and I found the answers along the way?

What if I lived loved and lived the adventure of my “what ifs?”

You know what?  I think, I just did.

And now– here’s the “what if” of my heart….

What if women took risks to connect in honesty, truth, respect and love?  What if we did it regardless of background, differences, prejudices, fear and insecurity?  What if we did it anyway, and what if, one at a time, two at a time, ten thousand at a time…we changed the world????

Well.. I don’t know the answer to the what ifs… but I know I want to find out.

What are the “what if’s” of your heart?  What are the unspoken things that hold you back from taking a step in their direction?

You are not alone. We can face the what ifs- together.

What if our what if’s are meant to bring tension to our faith and  exercise it and change it from dead, to living as we test them with our actions?

18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e]and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Edited because seriously- this is the next thing I read….apparently John Acuff is also haunting me… well- or God wants to be very clear today…if you have dreams and what ifs… please go watch this video.

How am I messed up am I ?  Let me count the ways:

I am  insecure.  I am (often) immature.  I am (usually)  impulsive. I am (monthly) moody and hormonal.

I sometimes get panicky and paranoid.  I get angry over lame things, I act like a jerk. I yell. I nag.  I do all the things I know not to do. I self medicate with chocolate and junk food and junk entertainment- instead of turning to the healer who loves me.

It’s easier for me to forgive others than it is for me to forgive myself.  Sometimes my failings replay in my mind  like a movie and  I’m strapped in the theater seat, unable to escape from reviewing. It’s a struggle for me to stop the movie and change the show.  But I can. With God’s help.

Yup.  Told ya. I’m Messed up. I know all the reasons why I’m messed up…and I actually do a pretty good job managing the crazy… but you know what?  It doesn’t change it.

I still am.

I’m coming to realize we all are.  And it does NOT define us.

A few weeks ago I made a short video.. about how I matter. And about how YOU matter.
watch it…. let’s see if you notice what I noticed…..

Once I got past the whole “I hate my head and my voice” thing.. I noticed something about the video… as I’m talking about how much “I matter”… I’m not very convincing.  My eyes are darting to the notes I have tacked up on the chair behind the camera…I look nervous.  Honestly?  I look like I’m lying.  Or maybe like I’m just saying the right thing…Maybe, I was.

And then- I start talking about how much YOU matter.

And I believe it.  You can see it.  My eye contact changes… my demeanor changes…my voice has an authority that comes with the truth…I KNOW that “mothers” matter.  I believe that YOU matter…

It’s time I start believing that I matter.

I mean really… if I’m called to share this truth with others.. it’s kind of important that I BELIEVE it.. don’t you think?  Who believes a liar?

I am not defined by my past, I am not defined by my failures… I AM defined by who God says I am… Loved.  Cherished. Forgiven. Called.  Imperfect.  Willing. Changing.  Growing. Beautiful. Just as I am. Crazy and all.

I want to start believing it… what about you?  I think prayer is the only route to move from head belief to heart belief.. join me?

“Dear Lord… my messed-up-ness is not a surprise to you.  My crazy and my failures are not bigger than your grace.  regardless of how I feel…I am held in your love and you whisper the truth about who I really I am: I am Loved.  I am Cherished. I am Forgiven. I am Called. I am perfectly- Imperfect.  I am Willing. I am Changing. I am Growing. Help me hear your whispers of truth Lord.. and help me to believe them… I love you Lord- amen. “

Lord- I believe.. help me in my unbelief….

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

” ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”.……..

He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.”

You’ve met them, or maybe, like me, you’ve been one.  We smile and carry brochures.  Some drive limited edition vehicles that tout their sales excellence. They share pictures of amazing trips they’ve earned to entice you to become part of their tier.

They are passionate about and believe in, their product.  They are smooth and well trained. They are the direct marketing, sales force.  A force to be reckoned with.  They have the personal sales thing down pat. It doesn’t matter whether it’s health saving juices, vitamins, life style products or basketry- they have a product and a business opportunity to sell you, and they WILL sell it .   I know, because I was one.  Almost.  I say ALMOST, because, I was awful.  I loved the parties and the people, not so much the sales or the tiers…

Things I learned the hard way, from Direct Marketing:

1) I stink at it. (The show part I was good at, that was fun- I love people! The actual sales? Not so much)

2) People know when you are connecting with them for the purpose of selling them something, they mostly hate it, they feel used.  If they like the product- they may buy- but the relationship, will most likey, suffer.

At the (fairly low) height of my direct sales experience, I remember seeing “that look” come over people’s faces, when they saw me coming.  I had ceased to be “Tracey” and had become “The pusher”.  Their eyes darted- looking for an out. They looked for anyone to suddenly become engrossed in a conversation with, to avoid talking to me. The song, that played passionately, in my one track mind, must have been written all over my face like a lyrics book.  It went something like this: “I have something YOU need.  How about we talk and I tell you all about it?”   Let’s just say, I eventually quit.  It wasn’t for me.  I could never figure out how to sell through relationships, without damaging them. I’ve met people who can- but they are a rare breed.

Lately, I’ve noticed, that when I bring up my faith in new relationships- people initially respond like I’m a direct marketing sales rep for Jesus.  Their eyes dart, looking for an out.  Some, physically tense up and brace for the “sales pitch”.    There isn’t one coming.  Sharing my faith isn’t a tiered marketing program.  I do not carry Jesus brochures and church- for me- is not a sales meeting.  I don’t go to sharpen my sales pitch and build up excitement to go out there and:  SELL.

(more…)

The red fruit made my mouth water.  I could hardly wait for it’s ripening. To help pass time, I planned recipes for each tangy morsel.  I planned: fresh tomato salsa, bruschetta, hand made pasta tossed with tomato, olive oil and garlic and topped with looping curls of Parmesan Reggiano… the list ran for pages.

I carefully tended the plant. I gave it the perfect amount of water. I fed the soil the recommended type and amount of fertilizer.  I made sure it received the right type and amount of sunlight.

This required copious amounts of research, as I am naturally a plant slayer- not a plant player.  Maybe my acrylic nails block the green-thumb gene.  Or maybe, that gene is recessive and totally skipped my generation. Either way- I am the Dr Kervorkian of the plant world, plants come to me for help with dying, not living.

Daily I checked the fruit. And daily, my heartbreak grew.  Instead of growing and plumping to perfection, each fruit slowly deteriorated.  First, they puckered and drooped, then flattened, moldered and finally: rotted.

I reviewed all my research materials.  I’d done everything by the book:

  • Water- check
  • Sunlight- check
  • Fertilizer- check
  • Temperature- check
  • Soil- Check

Well. Almost everything.

See- I wanted fresh tomatoes and when I went to the grocer they had beautiful, but not quite ripe, tomatoes. I brought them home, tied them onto a tiny christmas tree, and tended them to (what I thought was) perfection. I thought they’d finish growing and I’d soon have the plump red fruit I craved.

Not so much.

Ridiculous?  Maybe. Evidence of my plant induced-idiocy?  Probably.

I bet I’m not the only guilty party.

Oh please, don’t pretend you’ve never done it.

Maybe it wasn’t tomatoes..  If you’re like me- maybe it was another type of fruit.  The fruit of the spirit, that you tied on and hoped would grow.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For years I read this list as my personal “To Be” list. (A little like a “to do” list, but infinitely harder to complete.) I tore it apart and tied on tiny unripe tomatoes of the spirit…

I tried to be loving, I became: annoying.

I tried to be joyful: I walked around grinning. I looked psychotic.

I tried to be peaceful, my best effort was closer to denial.

My attempts at patience made me grind my teeth until a TMJ flare up drove me to the ER for Vicodin. (This made me kind of peaceful in a stoned, not so much a holy spirit- way.  Which is not the same thing.)

(more…)