9/16/2014

Beloved Becky

Be still, my heart. I love this one.
Also, we both have amazing skin. Go us.
Today is my beautiful, beloved, best bosom friend Becky's birthday.

[I really wish there were an alliterative "b" word for friend there.]

I wanted to do something really special. Bigger than a Facebook post. Better (I hope) than just some cash for a gift. Though she's also getting some cash for a gift. :) I thought about Becky, what best makes her feel loved, and I just knew that writing something about how incredible she is, what a gift she is to me, would be a sunshiney burst of love into her sweet and tender heart. I hope this is even a shadow of the gift of grace God has given me in your friendship, Becky!

My first thought when I met Becky was, "She is so beautiful. No way will she want to be my friend." It's true that Becky is gorgeous outwardly. It was a lie that she would then be ugly and shallow inwardly. She is definitely not! Her undeniable outward beauty is surpassed exponentially by her undeniable inward pure gorgeousness. So even though I found her intimidatingly beautiful, assumed she would want nothing to do with me, I was drawn to her. Sometimes I just get this, "You and I are meant to be good friends," feeling about people and so I just tell them that. Becky is a rare gem who said, "Yes! We should definitely hang out!" and then we actually did.

[Have you heard of the Seattle freeze? It is very real. Basically, we're really nice, and when you say, "Let's hang out!" we say "Definitely!" and then we not only never initiate making that happen but we also subtly, politely blow you off and never get to know you. I won't lie--I do it. But who says, "You seem so awesome! But to be honest my life is crammed full and I'm just not interested in putting someone else into it. Best of luck finding friends!" to someone? Apparently non-Seattleites.]

Becky and her love, Josh

So, I am a person who just goes there right away. You ask how I'm doing? I'll tell you about my pain and the mess and my heart and exactly what I can see Jesus doing and exactly where I want nothing to do with him. But I expect you to just listen and say, "That's nice."  I'm learning to let people love me and speak into that. A lot of my growth there is because of Becky; more on that later. So we went there right away. Just the real, raw, deepness of life. The first time we hung out.

Can I just tell you how amazing that is? It is a rare treat to have a friend who is able to just be transparent with you and you with them. It's even more unique to find someone who will speak into your situation, even challenging you. But that most unusual, precious find of all is someone who isn't looking for areas to speak in. When it makes since they take the risk to step in, knowing you might possibly reject them if you don't like what they say, yet they don't think it's their job to figure out what is wrong with you and try to fix you.

[I think this is rare in the real world. I also admit I am coming from 16 years of my deepest relationships tending to be with Christians, who unfortunately are notorious for thinking our Christian faith means we're supposed to clean our lives up and our worth to God is in "helping" him clean up other people. But I also am coming out of 7 years at a church that tragically regularly confused living by grace to mean doing all the things in Jesus's name, including sin-hunting in others so they might not miss the glory of God. So Becky? Someone willing to be real about her mess and not trying to impress me with her leaning-on-Jesusness? Who also wants grace for me in my mess and not to feel good about herself by playing a significant role in my growth in leaning-on-Jesusness? Truly, a grace diamond in Mars Hill's performance-based rough.]

Becky and her first love, wine. [I kid, I kid!]
But can I tell you the VERY best part about Becky? I legitimately love Jesus more because of her. I believe fewer lies about Jesus and myself because of her. I have more freedom and joy because of her.

You see, people think that the way to help people grow in Jesus is to listen for the stuff that doesn't sound right and then say, "Look at this verse. It says to "be anxious for nothing"! You have Jesus! Believe him and don't be anxious!"

That. Does. Not. Work.

Not for me.

And, I think, because you are human, not for you either.

The truth is, God tells us not to be anxious...yet he knows we are and will be anxious. The verse says, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Do you see it? I boldfaced "but" because God knows we will be anxious. It's not, "Be anxious [since that is totally possible] and just totally trust everything God gives you because, duh, Sinner, he's good." God knows we'll be anxious. The context of this verse is Paul asking for help for two women who love Jesus and spreading his Good News but struggle in relationship with one another. Paul references his own struggles in the Gospel (you know, jail and beatings and eventually being beheaded simply for telling others about Jesus). Seriously, go read Philippians 4. It. Is. SO. Good.  But, FOR REAL, talk about reasons for anxiety. God knows we'll fret about not getting things we want and getting things we don't want. I mean, find me ONE person who has NEVER fretted about relationships or health or financial security or just general happiness and comfort in the future, be it tomorrow or 50 years.

Oh. Right. There is exactly ONE. Jesus Christ. The rest of us have failed, and if you've failed once then you have failed completely. But therein is the beauty of my friend Becky. She is so graciously skilled and humble in the seasoned blend of grace and truth. The truth is that God is good and I can trust him. Yet the grace is that he knows I am anxious. Becky gently reminds me of these two truths, but my favorite thing about her, and why she is a true iron friend, is that she intently listens, identifies with my pain/frustration/general sinful ridiculousness because she struggles, too. And then she just asks me this two-part question, in one form or another: "What does Jesus think of you? What is he saying to you?"

Becky and her beautiful baby bump, just a few days before Gabers entered the world.
 I never feel judged. It's never that icky, "OH DEAR GOD I AM A HORRIBLE SINNER WHO EFFED IT ALL UP AGAIN! CLEAN UP CLEAN UP CLEAN UP CLEAN UP! CLEAN UP ON AWFUL HORRIBLE AISLE TAMI NUMBER FOUR!" Instead, it's always that little impetus to turn my face back to Jesus. To see that I am securely his and he adores me. He treasures every opportunity to show me, in my weakness, that he is gloriously and perfectly patient and loving. He shows me that, again and again, through Becky.

A big reason Becky is able to do this so effectively is because she has allowed Jesus to minister to her in both her suffering and sin. Becky is radiant--brilliant blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes. In my heart, she is glowy. She glows because what radiates isn't just physical beauty. In her humble reliance to keep turning back to him no matter what ugly comes out of her heart; her refusal to give into the temptation to control her responses and look really good and godly, Becky simply emanates Jesus and that illuminates my life with more of him. She personifies the truth that when we are weak, he is strong.

Me meeting baby Gabe. He's the best.
Finally, I want to publicly give credit where credit is due. For a plethora of reasons, I have a horrible sinful tendency to tell you my mess...but then I don't want you to speak in. I don't trust you. And also, while I am telling you my mess, I am also constantly trying to not be a burden and filter myself so that I can't possibly offend anyone. I say I don't care what anyone thinks, but I actually really, really do. I am convinced that I am a yucky burden to God and others so it drives my interactions not just with people but even with my own thoughts.

Yet I am more reliant on Jesus than I have ever been. I am in less bondage. Becky is why. One of the single most poignant moments in my life came during a 3 hour conversation in my car, you know, just quickly dropping her off at her car after hanging out. But she listened to me ramble (shocker) about how this battle rages inside of me and she said, "Tami, I want freedom for you."

And she meant it. She craves my unshackling with a selfless love that was just completely Jesus's heart toward me. A revelation of his love. A seminal moment in this incredible "it is finished" journey that Jesus has whisked me into over this last year. Death to performance, life in liberation. Becky is a crucial role in that journey, and that is why I am not just waxing poetic when I say that no matter how I try I can't pretend to be to her what she has been to me.

No, seriously. THE. BEST.

That is why Becky is so extraordinary. I feel awkward because I keep talking about me, but I don't know how better to express what an incredibly safe and special person she is. The reflection of Christ and his tender compassion for other people flows so purely through her. The Holy Spirit is sought and actually listened to by her.

My word, you are a beautiful and incredible person, Becky Glaser!

So, beloved Becky, happy birthday. Today, may you be overwhelmed with how incredibly precious you are, first to Jesus, but also to those of us incomparably blessed to call you Friend. I have many amazing people in my life, but the honest truth is that no one has quite wiggled their way into my heart and been the pure grace to me that you are. I hope to be even a smidgen of the friend to you that you are to me, because even a hint means you are getting very loved on. That's how truly amazing you are. No amount of effusive words could ever make clear how much I adore you, treasure our friendship, but I had to try!

I mean, come on. How do you not love that sass? It is impossible. Love is imminent.
You are sassy. You don't take yourself too seriously. You are the least shallow person I have ever met. Making you laugh is kind of my favorite thing ever. You are a mama so sweet that many other kids will wish you were their mama. Guys probably think Josh got lucky because you're so gorgeous but what they don't realize is the real goldmine is your precious, tender, giving yet wisely stubborn heart. You really are a gift beyond measure or compare to me, and I see a divergence in my life, a turn toward more Jesus and more freedom and more joy because by God's grace I got over myself for just a second and told you we should be friends. I grow more and more thankful for that moment the more I know you. I pray our love is a lifetime of increasing unity in the Spirit and the bond of peace.

I love you, Becky! Happy birthday, beloved friend!

My other gift to you: praying that our adorable chubster baby Gabe will have a miracle long sleep and give you some solid rest. Readers, pray that with me? We all know that the best gift for any new mama is sleep. Today baby Gabe is one month old so let us pray little dude sleeps so his mama can sleeeeeeeep!

xoxo to you, Becky Lecky!
<3 Tami Rami

9/11/2014

Ok, Bandwagon. Join, I Shall

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I am joining bloglovin. Because big changes are underway. Blog's gonna get pretty. And maybe I shall actually write more. Ha!

xoxo

^Never said that before. Who am I?

9/03/2014

The Death of a Friend

Mars Hill Bellevue

As you may know, there has been a LOT in the news lately about Mars Hill Church. Mars Hill was Jason's and my church home for 7 years; we started attending just 2 months after we got married. We were "all in" and she (being the church) was the only constant through many changes in our lives. Jobs and homes and relationships and family messes all ebbed and flowed but Mars Hill--attending on Sundays, community group on Tuesdays, serving and leading and doing life with our friends and community group--was the only constant other than one another. 

I have wanted to write about our experience and all that we are going through. It has been A LOT. Some of it relates to my last post--suffocated by fear of saying the wrong thing. Other parts are, I think, wisdom--I don't want to carelessly run my mouth, or throw out to the world every thought that runs through my head. I want to be legitimately helpful, marked by--I hope--a certain amount of grace and maturity given to me by Christ.

Nonetheless, I have intentionally stayed away from this space. I'm not quite ready to say details about our experience, or add my thoughts to the internet fodder; maybe I never will be. I can talk about all the beautiful ways I learned and grew; the ugly ways my sin made me willfully blind to the yuck of Mars Hill; the utter frustration and helplessness I feel as I watch people I love and adore just get crushed and maimed by the Mars Hill machine through this mess. 

But today I need to tell you about a tragedy. 

I am watching a dear friend willfully kill herself.

You see, I have been incredibly angry about the situation at Mars Hill, yearning for repentance and so frustrated by the refusal to do so. But now, I think a mourning is setting in. I feel like I have a friend, one who has been beautiful and wonderful to me in so many ways. Yes, she is a sinner, but our relationship has weathered each of our sinful natures and really seemed to be quite solid and beautiful, centered on Jesus.

But now, she has cut me off for dead. You see, she is dying of cancer, a vicious cancer that has metastasized into every bone and vital organ and the disease is all throughout her body. You can no longer even decipher the healthy from the dying cells. It's horrible as I watch her deteriorate from healthy and vibrant to decrepit shell.  She's simply rotting away in front of me.

But it gets worse: she refuses to see it, defies the very idea of even needing  treatment. She admits she's a little off but it's just a case of the sniffles. Just trust her--a little rest and some restructuring of her life will make it all better. 

Worst of all, in her refusal to see, she's cutting me and everyone else off for telling her she's dying, that this cancer is KILLING her.

[For more information about what is happening at Mars Hill, there is a LOT. But I recommend you read this letter from 9 men who were, at its writing, elders at Mars Hill. The ones I know in this letter are men I trust without hesitation; because of the horribly dark culture behind the scenes right now I still commend their writing this letter among the bravest things I have seen at Mars Hill. With this I recommend this letter; Dustin is a man my husband and I love dearly. Please pray for his family. They are dear and precious to us and this is all just heartbreaking. Beyond words.]

And so I watch her die. A miracle in the eleventh hour *could* happen, but we may already be about to hear the midnight bell slice through the night. The utter devastation to my heart is in knowing that it did not have to be this way, that her husband and close friends asked her about the lump and have been urging her to get help for 18 years. She is dying and devastating those around her and though she is not yet in her casket the finality of her death feels simply like a formality at this point.

This doesn't have to be this way. It never had to be this way. IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS WAY.

My ability to wrap in eloquent words is...not. I have none. I am torn between numbness and weeping, depending on the hour. 

I share these words, instead.


My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

Refrain

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

Refrain

His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.

Refrain

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.