In the Stillness

When was the last time you just sat? Still in the moonlight? Or quiet in the moments before dawn? Gave your soul time to breath? Found yourself weeping at the beauty of music that rises heavenward where words dare not break the mystery of the moment?

Perhaps now would be a good time to give it a try again…

How to Slow the Season

Today is the first day of December. In 25 days we will be celebrating in homes all across the country. Those of us who claim to follow Christ are supposed to be celebrating His birth. But, I wonder if we really are. I wonder if we’re really celebrating the American Dream with some Jesus platitudes thrown in.

I think we sense that we’re a little “off” and that somehow Christmas has gotten off track. We taste the dissonance. We even attempt to change. For most of us, the solution has been to get more organized, not really reform our heart’s focus.

What if we made it less about better time management and gift budgeting… and more about Jesus? I don’t want to just put a governor on my spending or make better lists or freeze meals ahead of time. I want to actually change where I focus my gaze. On what Whom I set my affections.

Some two thousand years ago, the Creator of this vast universe did the unthinkable. He stepped down from His throne where He receives honor and praise and glory unceasing. He left all of that, squeezing His infinite self into frail flesh.

I think we only sort of fathom what that meant for Him and way it changed everything for us.

Maybe this December could be about trying to fathom just a little bit more of it. Would you join me in trying?



Beautiful Things

“I have found only one religion that dares to go down with me into the depth of myself,” wrote G.K. Chesterton.

That going down… it is both fearful and hopeful. I will be all out bold and say it: we are liars if we don’t admit the fear of it. What will I find in the depths of me? The secret thoughts. The years of hiding. What if I don’t want to go to the depth of myself?

And yet, there is this…

He is making beautiful things. Always.

Why do I prefer the ugly? Instead of submitting to the beautiful? Why?

One Non-Denominational Girl & Her Musings on Lent

I’m a decidedly non-denominational girl. I love Jesus. I love His Church (usually!). But I’ve never been particularly drawn to one denomination or loyal to one tradition within Christianity.

We worship Sundays in a converted carpet warehouse. Our pastor preaches most weeks in jeans. We’ve never even owned hymnals or had a formal pulpit. Our services are very simple with very little ritual… save the benediction at the end. We hold loosely to our “traditions” because we don’t want to elevate one way of doing something and get stuck in rut.

I’m not necessarily saying that’s better. It’s just what I know. (And, clearly, what I like.)

As a result, I know very little about the “church calendar” and some of the tradition that it highlights. I’ve never had the ash smudge on my forehead. Or abstained from meat on Fridays. Or given up something for Lent.

In fact, for most of my life, my view of those ideas was fairly jaded. Perhaps it was my experience with so many people who had ashes on their forehead one Wednesday every year but virtually ignored Jesus the other 364 days.

Or perhaps it was my misunderstandings of the traditions. Honestly, giving up diet Coke for 40 days seemed silly to me in light of the extreme and weighty sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf. We Americans indulge ourselves in excess nearly everyday. Most of us know very little of true sacrifice and service. Many of the people I knew who gave up something for Lent gorged on their now-forbidden treat right before and after their 40 days. How could that in any way help us appreciate the anguish and sacrifice of the God of heaven and earth dying on a cross to pay for the awful sins of every person who has ever lived?  Did we think we were impressing Jesus or somehow identifying with Him by depriving ourselves of chocolate for a month and a half?

Most of my experience with such rituals was little more than pomp and circumstance. But, in recent years, I have come to appreciate some of the heart behind some of those traditions.

One thing I have come to value is the way such times help us to remember. We are forgetful creatures. So forgetful. So quickly. God knows that about us. He’s the one who instituted communion as a way of remembering. We do need reminded. Regularly.

I think such traditions can also help us to slow down and reflect. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to get swept into our cultural definitions of a holiday. We get mired in the commercial messages that pound away at our soul. Suddenly it’s April and Easter is about finding the right dress and eating jelly beans and designing the perfect centerpiece for ANOTHER big meal.

And, honestly, that’s OK for Target or Macy’s or whomever. Really. I don’t expect them to make Easter about the sacrificial death and amazing resurrection of my Lord. That’s what we who follow Him need to do. We need to make it about Him… in our homes and in our own hearts.

If slowing down for 40 days of fasting and reflecting before we celebrate Resurrection Sunday will help you to do that, then by all means, please do.

As for this non-denominational girl, my observation of Lent will mostly be in intentional reflecting. I have some books that I will use to help me focus. I have some ideas rolling around in my head that might work for the whole family. If I feel prompted, I might fast in some way during this time. It’s all still a bit of a work in progress for me. (As usual, I’m a little behind schedule. You know, since it starts today and all!)

One thing I do know. I know I want to be a woman who regularly reflects and revels in the Cross and what it means for me. Dorothy Sayers writes that to make the Easter story into something that neither startles, shocks, terrifies, nor excites is “to crucify the Son of God afresh.”

I want to be startled.

How about you?

On Building the Great Cathedrals & Being Invisible

Do you feel invisible sometimes? Like all the work that you do in the quiet places of your life goes unnoticed? Do you wonder if it all really matters? The chore charts and the homecooked meals and the lavender-sprayed linens and the homework wrestling-matches and the carpool conversations and the notes in their lunchboxes and the fresh-baked brownies after school and the affirming words for your husband. I mean, really, does anyone care that the toilets are clean today or that I saved 20-cents on cereal or that I buy whole wheat instead of white bread?

Maybe you gave up your career for this. Or scaled back your ambitions – took the part-time position or passed up the promotion or decided to put your discertation on hold until the kids were gone.

And you wonder if it matters. If anyones sees you…

As we head into a busy season of life where we all do a little extra, most of which never even gets noticed, you need to know that your work behind the scenes does have great worth. All those extra touches and intentional family moments do matter. You’re building something beautiful. And, yes, someone sees you.

Watch this 5-minute video and let her words soak into the hidden places of your heart.  To the places where your unspoken questions haunt you. You need to be reminded of this. Really.

The Invisible Woman

When Hunger is a Good Thing

Hunger. Perhaps you’ve felt it before. At the end of a long day of physical labor. Maybe the whole family has been in the yard all day: mulching, weeding, planting. The kind of day when you’re bone weary and there is a gnawing in your stomach because your body just needs more fuel. You feel a little light-headed. The kids are hungry too. Long faces. Exasperated whines. “Momma, I’m starving…”

Thankfully, dinner is waiting. The crockpot of chili you put on before the work began.  It’s been simmering in there all day. As you walk through the door and into the kitchen you are greeted by the smell of it. The goodness can be served up in the next 20 minutes or so. After hands are washed and cheese is shredded and table is set.

But, that 20 minutes can seem like an eternity to the tired, ravenous bellies. The options are few: stave off the hunger by snacking on junk until the meal is ready (this is usually the choice of the children), control your appetite (maybe you’re on a diet and you’ll have a slimfast to suppress your craving), or refuse to settle and just wait for the good stuff.

You’ve probably done all three at one time or another.

It occurs to me that we often do the same thing with our spiritual hunger. Living this life can mean weariness. The toil, the stress. Fighting the law of entropy – trying with everything we’ve got to stop the decay and the tendency toward disorder. We know that everything around us seems to be falling apart.

And so our souls cry out. We are ravenous. Hungry for something to fill us up and fuel our inward places. Maybe the longing isn’t for something but for Someone. “Abba, I’m starving…”  

So, we take our hunger to the One who made us. He who knit us together and knows the deepest longings of our hearts.

But sometimes He doesn’t fill us up the way we expect Him too. Maybe we have to wait too long or His feast is not the meal we had in mind. Again the options are few: we can fill up on junk, we can try to tame the appetite, or we can wait for the good stuff.

The temptation to fill up on junk is a strong one. We do it all the time. “If only I can numb the longings with other things. Something that will give me a quick fix.” The junk food can take on many forms – some more obvious than others. Sometimes we dress it up and try to make our Biggie Fry sound healthier than it is. We can even make it sound spiritual. An event or a program or an experience. Even a relationship.

But, truth be told, taming the appetite is often no better. It looks better on the outside and it’s often the favorite in religious circles. But it’s often just legalism. Controlled, scheduled times of religious duty. Our attempt to keep God under control in our box in the closet.

But, what if we rejected both of those options and just let the hunger burn? What if we refused to settle for anything short of God Himself? What if we let the desire consume us?

It might be messy at times. Maybe even a little crazy to the people around us. Loving God does that. People don’t always ‘get it’. Especially if it changes things. Too much passion makes us civilized Westerners uncomfortable. We’re OK with religion as long as we can keep it in its nice, tidy, politically-correct box.

But the omnipresent, all-powerful, all-knowing God of Heaven & Earth doesn’t fit very well in a box. And neither does hungering after Him.

Perhaps Mr. & Mrs. Beaver said it best in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe:

“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver, “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

“I’m longing to see him,” said Peter, “even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”

Let me join with Peter and long for Him. Let my hunger for Him be a consuming fire. Let it undo all my manipulating and efforts to control my appetites. Let them instead be fed in Him – even though it might not be safe.


Thankful to be hungering for God with Ann and others at A Holy Experience.

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