Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life... It strikes us when, year after year, the longed-for perfection does not appear, when the old compulsions reign within us as they have for decades, when despair destroys all joy and courage.

Sometimes at that moment a wave of light breaks into our darkness, and it is as though a voice were saying: 'You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask for the name now; perhaps you will find it later. Do not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.'

If that happens to us, we experience grace."

-Paul Tillich, The Shaking Of The Foundations

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

on chaos and rest

I could explain to you why I haven't been blogging lately, or how busy we've been, but I will not. I'm sure you can guess. You are probably very busy. Your friends and family, too. So you know. We have all been so busy.



In January a friend said during small group, "Sometimes the Lord says: There will be a time for rest, but that time isn't now." I closed my eyes as he spoke; the words were for me, I knew, and maybe others too, but my heart received them directly.



Two truths: There will be a time for rest. That time isn't now.



Weeks of chaos passed, and I found myself in the backyard with an armful of laundry, my mind wandering into a pool of vacation dreams. I imagined a weekend with sun and sweet breezes and sand and my husband and nothing else, and my hope lounged there, drunk on the glimmer of peace and rest. My mind, not resting at all, began to spin and contrive, asking where, when, how, which beach; this must happen, get me to the seashore. I need this. I am tired.



and Rest Himself came



and caused the spinning to cease



and set this before my eyes:



"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever." Revelation 22:1-5



Paradise itself.



There will be a time for rest. Total and full and complete rest. Eternal. Perfect, permanent peace. What incredible grace it is that keeps that in store for my soul.



And I can't even begin to comprehend the Grace that gives rest now, too. That sees my armful of laundry and wistful vacation dreams; my anxious, tired heart, my weary feet. Sees my scheduled days and to-do list. The mental tally of all that's contained within "busy"; He sees it.



And He meets it with grace. How much must He love me to come-- when I hadn't even thought to ask Him to-- and make everything quiet, still, sweet, light.



So much. It's so, so, so much.
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Saturday, December 31, 2011

my new year



Well hey! I knowwww-- I've been absent from the blogging world for most of the fall. But I'm excited about getting back into it-- posts are always swirling around inside my head and so they will certainly be making their way to the blog.

Good timing, too, since my New Year is looking pretty incredible: Travels, weddings, lots of yummy food, ministry news, marriage year 2, Young Life camp trips, New Orleans adventures, a job I like...

Here's a snippet of joy for your New Year's Eve, for your year, for whatever lies ahead.

It is, I think, the ultimate encouragement; the most solid of grounds to stand upon, the sweetest confirmation of our purpose and worth. Sit and let it cover your anxiety, quiet your fears, and steady your heart.

...

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

I give thanks to my God always for you

because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,

that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge

even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you

so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing

of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end

guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is faithful, by whom you were called

into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Monday, October 24, 2011

three songs for fall

So call me crazy, but the seasons have definite influence over what I listen to. For example, fall and spring will find me listening to Sea Wolf quite a bit, but I rarely do so in the winter, and never ever in the summer. For years it has been like this. I don't know why. My brain just doesn't approve of Sea Wolf and summer. Underoath and the like get played November-April (with the exception of this gem which I would listen to every day if I remembered). Winter also finds me playing a lot of Damien Rice; spring & summer, Iron & Wine and Sufjan.

Perhaps there are deep psychological reasons for this, but I am not aware of any real rhyme or reason for these preferences. I want what I want when I want. Regardless, I present to you three songs that scream fall to me, for reasons I apparently cannot explain.

Get excited. They are GOOD.

(1)

The first: "Welcome Home" by Radical Face. If this song is new to you, prepare to fall in love. Listen to the beginning: The chimes you hear are the exact notes you can hear on the porch of the home I grew up in. They are perfection; I hear them and can almost feel the crisp, cool Michigan air on my face. Ahhhhh.



It is lovely in it's fluid melody, staggered with skippy claps and intricate piano. The vocals are simple, quietly powerful, with a hauntingly sweet quality. For me, this song somehow evokes a stark contrast of both buoyant joy and excitement, and a deep awareness of grief, almost mourning. But it flows so sweetly through the emotive chorus and bridge that I find myself in a place of worship and joy and wonder at the great God who inspired someone to weave together such perfect sounds.

(2)

The second: "Leftovers" by Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit. You know when you rediscover something you've had for a while and it takes on new life? That's Johnny Flynn's 2008 album A Larum for me this fall...I can't get enough. Me and modern folk get along reallll well. Oooh and you even get a real video for this one, fun right? Take a listen:



It's one of those songs where you start out tapping your feet and then suddenly you're bopping your head and before you know it you're dancing like a fool all by yourself while you're brushing your teeth. Errrrrr well maybe that is just me, but you get the idea, right? Love the quirky lyrics and catchy chorus with its perfect harmony. His voice is one of my favorites, and I love when the fervor of his singing slips into a perfectly-tuned shout. I can't say enough good things about Johnny Flynn. If you like this, check out the rest of his stuff-- everything he touches is gold, I swear.

(3)

Last song: "Love Immeasurable" by Ryan Long, a former Young Life musician. We sang this song at camp this summer, and I fell in love.



I don't have a ton to say about this song. The words are beautiful. The melody is simple and sweet, lingering perfectly on each word to bring the incredible lyrical imagery to bear. Imagine this song being sung at camp in a darkened club room with just an acoustic guitar and the voices of 300 middle schoolers. It was SO beautiful that when I bought the song I was actually disappointed (even though the recorded version is great).

Good huh? What have you been listening to?

Monday, September 26, 2011

freezing soup: it's a heart issue.

As a girl I was enchanted by the Little House on the Prairie books. My great-grandmother passed on her set to me; they were yellowed and tattered when they came to me and I read and re-read each one until pages were falling out. Laura's life was so attractive to me. She explored woods and played with paper dolls and swam in creeks and made maple sugar candy. And she was perfectly content. I remember wishing that the world was still a place where oranges and cakes were delicacies and people were happy to eat mere bread and butter when there was nothing else. The simplicity and yet fullness of this lifestyle was attractive to me even as a child.

Sometime in middle school I told my mother I thought I would be really good at being poor. I don't know what we were talking about; probably something related to living a simple lifestyle. My lovely mother is the queen of the simple life. She's got it down. We were probably talking about how she makes her own chicken stock or uses bread ends for croutons or doesn't buy paper towel or something else amazing that she does. I saw such value in these practices from a young age, and carried along the assumption that it would all transfer seamlessly into my own life.

Surprise ending: It didn't.

This is partly because being poor didn't seem like a real possibility to me. I grew up fully expecting to one day stake my ground in the upper-middle-class world. Little daydreams about pinching pennies and living off of soup were merely daydreams, more fascinating than they were serious.

But now here I am, and the truth is I really stink at being poor. And it has taken me a long time to figure this out. Growing up with one socioeconomic status and landing in another is a confusing journey of replacing old habits and being really honest about where you are. It's hard to walk into a grocery store on a tight budget and ignore all of the Kashi-organic-superfood-crazyexpensive goodness screaming your name. When I was single it was easier to pretend I could afford things like that, since the only person my budget affected was me. I spent a few years in college attempting to maintain the lifestyle I desired, thinking, "I'll tighten my budget when it really matters."

But here's the problem with that: when "it really matters" your old habits will still be in effect. Your flesh will still be patterned to react a certain way. If you are used to ignoring your bank account and buying whatever you want, you will do that even when it really matters.

My hope in writing this is to encourage you, whoever you are, to think about you and money. Are you pretending to be in the "it doesn't really matter" place right now? Are you trying to live above where you can afford to? Do you spend money when you know you shouldn't?

Think about these things. Ask the Lord to reveal to you why you mess up, because habit is involved, but it is ultimately a heart issue. Maybe you are medicating your life with new things, or doubting that God is good, or believing that you are in control of your life, or trying to win the approval of people. When you begin to understand which lie your heart is believing, the burden will be lifted and habits can be changed.

So for me, this:

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. [1 Timothy 6:6-10]

and this:

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. [Psalm 36:5-9]

are what I want to soak in this week.

And I am actually going to put into practice something I saw my mother doing; buying and eating a rotisserie chicken and then using the rest to make chicken stock. I found this great tutorial and plan on using this clever method



to store it! Look how cute, little soup muffins. You freeze them, throw them into a bag for storage, and grab a few in the morning to put in a thermos for lunch. Perfect right? Yes, this is me getting excited about soup-freezing methods. It's the little things.

Monday, September 12, 2011

good days in disguise

Sometimes the day arrives dressed as a bad one.

Sometimes morning sun can't shine bright enough to pierce through last night's tears.

Sometimes the very saddest of songs aren't a sufficient match for your sorrow; the loveliest song grates against the stubborn grains of your heart.

Sometimes you get stuck thinking in what ifs and why nots and how comes and why mes.

Sometimes old insecurities, once beaten, rise up again til your blood races inside charged veins and breath escapes you.

Sometimes the Enemy whispers and snickers and deceives and suffocates and contrives his way right into your very mind.

---

But always you are a child of the Most High God.

Always you may take refuge in His arms.

Forever He will be your defender, your shield, your fortress.

Day after day He promises His plans are detailed and perfect and good.

Without cease He will fight for your soul and heart and mind.

You. Are. HIS.

Forever.

---

Psalm 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

---

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

totally 100% craving a vacation

I've got the vacation bug. Thanks Pinterest.

If budget allowed, I'd totally pull a Yes Man and run to the airport to buy the first ticket out. (Which, from NOLA, would almost certainly be Atlanta. So...maybe the second ticket out?)

Maybe my surprise ticket would take me here...


Gondolas! Yes. Perfect. I know Venice is supposed to be an overpriced tourist trap that is overcrowded and stinks like pee. But whatever! Let's do it.


Or this? I think I could be about it. I mean..I guess don't really know what it is. Some sort of little modern caveman resort hut complex? Super. I'm in. Leaving tomorrowww!


Or this bench. It's in France. So, that right there should be enough. Look how perfect it is. I just want to go sit on it. I bet wonderful things happen when people are sitting on that bench.


I'd also be quite content to wander around the English countryside and pretend I'm Elizabeth Swan do some exploring. I'm very fond of walking.

Sometimes I get caught up in the everywhere-but-here excitement of vacation dreams,

and I forget that this


and this


and this


is right in my backyard.

And as you can see from that last photo, we have a pretty good time in Wal-Mart, so...we're gonna be just fine.