Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Driving home to see family in Atlanta brought back fond memories of driving with Emmett.  Car conversations on the way to our childhood homes were some of the best conversations we had.  Growing up in the same houses for so much of our childhood made driving to see family more like a historic adventure, complete with a full cast of crazy characters and complex plot lines.  But despite the usual fun and drama of seeing family, it was the conversations we had going and coming that were truly epic.

After a couple years I began to time how long it took us to settle into these conversations.  One year when we were a little frustrated with each other it took us over an hour to settle into the comfortable communion we typically shared, marking an unpleasant record that was never repeated.  Thankfully.  On such journeys, we would speak of all things, often beginning with relational oddities in our lives and moving on to dreams, goals, plans, and prayers.  And no matter how far away from each other we felt beginning the journey, we were always caught up by the end.

Returning home is such a common theme in literature that it feels trite to talk about it.  There's a line in a song by Mumford and Sons (don't ask me which one, that was Emt's job) that goes:
It's not the long walk home that will change your heart, but the welcome you receive with the restart.
That particular line has resonated with the Romans 8 verse that has been on my heart recently:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (18)
How do we stay focused on this incomprehensible glory and the often intangible love of God when present sufferings, even the mundane sufferings, are so distracting?

We have this great, amazing home in heaven that Christ has gone to prepare for us.  Combine that promise the picture of the prodigal son's father waiting to welcome us home and throw us a party.  Think of that - a father who loves us so recklessly that he throws off all dignity to run out to meet us.  Doesn't that make your heart soar?  Yeah, for about 5 seconds before reality comes crashing in on your heartwarming daydream full of butterflies and big hair and cheesy 90s love songs.

But seriously, daydreams aside, the knowledge of how well I am loved should change me in radical ways.  And yet, radical is not always filled with blue skies and soft breezes and perfectly coiffed hair.  Truth be told, radical is often more like a dirty, sweaty rock climber clinging so desperately to the rock face that his leg muscles are spasming worse than teenagers at a rock concert.

Shortly after taking our baby daughter off life support, I asked Emmett to sing the doxology with me because I knew if I didn't praise God in that moment then I might never praise him again.  Shortly after Emmett passed we gathered in the living room, and once again I asked to sing the doxology for the same reason.  So I suppose that when I consider my present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in me, I cannot deny the depth of suffering, whether mine or others.  I can however recognize that if pain can be this acute on earth right now, then the joy of heaven with God and Jesus (and perfect hair) must be mind blowing.  And that hope keeps me clinging to the rock face, often out of sheer stubbornness, but at least I'm still clinging.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Every so often I get the chance to make a public confession of one of my guilty pleasures, and last night was one of those nights where, sitting in a room full of women, we were able to share and laugh and swear each other to secrecy.  While I won't share any other juicy tidbits, I will share my own guilty pleasure and open up the floor for mocking.

Teenage vampire romance.  Gets. me. every. time.

Yep, there it is.  Mock on.

Shortly after we were married, Emmett was in graduate school and I was in my first year of teaching.  I would come home so brain dead that Emmett would find me lying on the couch watching hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns.  Hours.  I'm pretty sure Emmett thought he was in one of those TV specials where the person you marry turns out to have another spouse or be a psycho killer or have a sixth toe.  I remember him just staring at me one day like I had three heads and asking, "where did this come from?"  But I won him over.  It wasn't long before he was watching them with me, although he always reserved the right to mock me for my guilty pleasure, which I graciously allowed him to do. But before you mock, you have to at least admit that all those other silly shows (like Glee and American Idol, etc) and sports (gasp - yes, even sports) are at least as much a pointless waste of time as my own guilty pleasure.  Then, when you can embrace your own ridiculousness, you are free to mock me as much as you'd like.  Until then - shut.  up.

My guilty pleasure has been coming and going for a couple decades, lying dormant for years, and then popping up unexpectedly again.  So the other night when I had nearly a dozen or so loads of laundry to fold (don't judge - you know you put it off, too), I was perusing Netflix, which incidentally has quite possibly the lamest streaming options ever, when I came across a TV series that shall remain nameless.  I've been watching it off and on as I do laundry or work out, and in between laughing at myself, I've tried to figure out why I like it so much.

Now is when you insert the eye roll because I'm about to get spiritually inspired by teenage vampire romance.  Yeah, you just read that line for real, but don't think that what follows in any way justifies this kind of trashy television.  It's trashy and will remain so, but I love it and most likely will continue to do so.

So here is the basic formula for teenage vampire romance.  This basic plot line has not deviated at all from when I started reading smutty vampire books at the age of 12 (way before Twilight, by the way).  Vampire boy meets human girl (oddly, never the other way around).  Boy wants to kill girl and drink her blood.  Boy tries very hard not to kill girl and drink her blood.  Emotional and physical turmoil ensues.  Inconsequential characters die and somehow no one is really concerned.  Girl must either die or become a vampire, and we all know what usually happens. It's very much like a modern sleeping beauty in a way.

I began to realize that it was all the moody vampire brooding over trying not to kill people that resonated with my soul.  Yeah, I'm probably a closet Emo.  Move on.  I find that I am drawn to this archetype when I'm feeling unusually besieged by sin and constantly aware of my struggle to resist my sinful nature.

Because, truthfully, when I sin I am killing other people.  Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 that "because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold."  As I struggle deeply with sins of the heart, I am realizing that I am completely unaware of how each decision I make to follow Christ or not unknowingly pushes others a little closer or a little further from Christ.  That scares me.  Not that I claim any guilt or responsibility for another person's decisions, as we will each stand before Christ for our own choices, but I often neglect or ignore the influence of the Spirit at work in me, to my own shame and disgrace.

I came across the word besieged in Lamentations 3 this morning, and it bounced around my soul a while before taking root.  My soul feels something spiritually akin to what the starving people of Jerusalem must have physically felt when they were being besieged by the Babylonians in Jeremiah's time.  I do not claim to have experienced anything even remotely as intense as Jeremiah, but I feel the flaming arrows of sin and temptation coming at me swift and straight most days.  Temptation is aimed with uncanny knowledge of my weaknesses, as if I have betrayed my own self to my enemy.  So this passage in Lamentations 3: 21-26 was a good reminder this morning:

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him; 
it is good to wait quietly 
for the salvation of the LORD. 

Sometimes it is good to wait quietly because right now I'm pretty sure if I move, one of those arrows is going to pierce me right through.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"kick me"

Lately I've been wondering why people believe in God.  Don't misunderstand me, I'm not having a crisis of faith here, but I am learning to read the Bible with eyes wide open.  You hear a lot about God's blessing, but it comes at a pretty steep price.  I mean, take Abraham.  Sure God promises to bless the earth through him, but then he wanders around apart from his family, afraid of nearly everyone he runs into, trying to fumble his way through what God wants him to do, and still God withholds his son for decades.  That is a lot of extra time on your hands to wonder what in the world God is up to.  And yeah, Joseph gets to rule Egypt, but what about the lonely years in slavery and prison before hand.  Now don't try to gloss over it and say that Joseph knew God was with him and that made it all okay.  Because it didn't, and it doesn't.  Joseph was human, and though he was most certainly better than I am at being human, he was in an Egyptian prison with lovely things like lice and starvation and filth.  Or pick a prophet, any prophet really, and you end up with a lonely old man who is fleeing from a crazy queen or sinking in muck at the bottom of a well for telling people to be nice and reasonable.  And let's not even get started on Job, who was picked on because God loved him so much.  Seriously, I think it's pretty much a miracle that after reading the Bible any of us are still willing to sign up for this gig.  Jesus wasn't kidding when he said that just as a king should count the cost of going to war, you should consider what you're getting into before following him.  Some days I feel like getting baptized was like having a "kick me" sign permanently attached to my back.

So I've been memorizing Romans 8, which is not going nearly as well as I'd hoped.  But I was reading ahead (proving, of course, my obscene slowness, or perhaps laziness) when I came across this little gem in verse 18:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Being somewhat naturally contrary, I promptly disagreed.  It's not a good idea, by the way, to disagree with scripture.  So I did what any self-respecting Christian would do, and I immediately told God that this verse didn't make any sense.  I can sort of wrap my mind around the present sufferings part, although I'd be happy to understand that part less.  But the "glory that will be revealed in us?"  I mean, what?  From context clues, I can deduce that this glory is so awesome that it eclipses the so called "present sufferings," but I have yet to fully, or, hey, even somewhat, understand that glory.

And don't go getting all pseudo-spiritual on me and tell me if only I loved Jesus more or trusted him more, then I'd have happy, glowing butterflies in my soul and speak in the tongues of those ridiculous motivational posters that say things like, "determination" and have a picture of an ant lifting a volkswagen.  I'll just want to slap you.  Because life is hard and full of lice and muck and boils and crazy old women who want you dead.

I love the answers God gives to prophets like Habakkuk and Job, men who stand up and point out that this world and God's plan don't make a single iota of sense.  I love that God never says that things are okay, as we like to tell each other, because God knows that things aren't okay.  I love that not only does he not give them some pat answer, but often he doesn't answer their complaint at all, except to say that he is God and he is operating his rescue plan because we messed up big time.

Christ came to rescue us and begin the revelation of God's glory in us, and it is so mind-blowingly awesome that my mind shuts down.  Literally, shuts down.  So I've been praying to see the glory that will be revealed in us.  I have no idea what it means to ask that of God, but since he never really answered the questions the prophets were asking, I figure he'll tell me whatever he wants.  And I still won't get it, just like Habakkuk and Job, I'll stand there dumbfounded, but maybe, just maybe, a little less blind than before.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Last Monday

from Monday 11/19 - 

There's nothing like starting out your Monday morning by putting your son in a car with his grandparents while he is sobbing these enormous choking sobs and saying, "I want to be with you always, mom!" over and over.  You'd think I was selling him to slavery instead of sending him with his grandparents for an extra day of family fun.  I mean sheesh!

On some levels I can totally relate, though.  I suppose that's exactly how I sounded about Emt while he was sick.  I could make further parallels about wanting Quinn to grow in maturity and trust, blah blah blah, and try to sound really spiritual.  But really, for many reasons beyond Quinn's control, he just needed to go with his grandparents because I need to be somewhere else.  

As my heart broke with Quinn's this morning, I couldn't help but think of God's heart for me.  I have struggled lately with the longing to have Emt back, and for some reason that struggle is particularly evident in my dreams.  I woke up the other morning with a desire for Emt so strong it was overwhelming, and before I really woke up, I could feel the Spirit pressing a single question into my consciousness.  "Would you really trade my care of you for your own desires?”

And strangely enough, I could answer no, and really mean it.  Because the tenderness of the Lord is so palpable that I can nearly feel his arms around me.

As I type this, I’m sitting in the Nashville airport.  The last time I was here was with Emt, traveling back and forth from Houston.  I opted out in security and got the detested pat down and thought of Emmett. I passed by the restaurants where I would try to tempt him with food and thought of Emmett.  There were so many memories of that airport that I wasn’t expecting.  I remember exactly where we sat in the Starbucks in C terminal, the sandwiches we would get at Provence, the process of pre-boarding.  

Despite the memories, though, there is peace in the midst of uncertainty.  And hope.  Definitely hope.

Monday, November 14, 2011


This morning was the kind of morning where you step outside your door and just long for an adventure.  The weather was mild, and the sky was moving from overcast to sunny and back within the span of minutes.  As I took the dog for a short walk, I noticed the birds were as intoxicated as I felt, hurrying about and shrieking with a frenetic glee.  It was a sweet morning, the first in goodness only knows how long that I woke up with a light heart.

It made me think of the short story called, The Light Princess by George MacDonald.  It is a very charming story about a princess who feels no gravity, so she has to be carefully tethered down lest she float away when doing something as mundane as getting out of bed.  Light-heartedness has become so foreign that just contrasting it with my usual heaviness made me feel dangerously unstable.  It was nice for the weather to conspire with my mood, threatening to sweep me away without warning.

Just an image.  A feeling.  That is all, but for today, that was more than enough.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


October and November have always been hard months for me, even before Emt was sick.  Work is at its most demanding during these months, and my annual cold waits for the least convenient moment to knock me out for a couple weeks.

Images of grapes being crushed in the winepress or raspberries being pressed through a sieve linger in the back of my mind, I suppose because I feel a lot like the fruit right now.  So I'm waiting.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord,
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130: 5-6)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Last week Emt would have been 32 years old.  The day came and went with little fanfare, with the dreary weather complementing my mood.  The crisp fall air that has finally made its way to Nashville signals Emt's favorite time of year.  He relished fall, with its unpredictable chilliness and would have been invigorated by a freezing walk through the neighborhood to help Quinn trick-or-treat.  Emt always seemed to come alive in fall, and his playful mood would make you forget the cold.

I, on the other hand, find myself strangely mute these days.  After hanging out with some of Emt's college friends a few weeks ago, I thought, "gosh, I'm boring!"  Now don't get me wrong, I really enjoy being boring.  I've had plenty of drama, but as I read through Project E4:E5, a collection of notes to Quinn about his dad put together by a couple of amazing friends, I remembered how much laughter Emt brought to my life.  Although Quinn and I are pretty good at being silly together, I find that I rarely laugh, at least not with the kind of laughter Emt drew out of me.

So I've been praying for more laughter in my life.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

tumbleweed and purple crayons

Sometimes I feel a little bit like tumbleweed, broken loose and blown about.  Other times I feel a bit more like Harold, floating along with my purple crayon in a nice purple bubble having all sorts of interesting adventures.

My space right now is very safe, and I'm not sure what that means, except to say that I feel I've been given these days as a present to just be, to heal, to regroup.  I find myself wanting to be all kinds of anxious about what I should be doing now that I'm not pursuing a life with Emmett.  I have to intentionally refrain from jumping into activities and commitments simply for the fleeting comfort of finding an identity in something other than Christ.

Not that life's easy, now, don't get me wrong.  Temptation presses in on my little bubble, sometimes poking holes I have to fill with my handy purple crayon almost faster than I can draw.  Or I go tumbling right through the same sins like I have a million times before and find myself tangled and broken in need of repentance.

But I have a strong sense of being held, and I keep reading psalm 139:
You hem me in - behind and before; You have laid your hand upon me.
At the most acute times of suffering, that verse has been suffocatingly oppressive, almost impossible for me to read even though I'm drawn to read it over and over.  But now I can read with something like a feeling of wonder.  In working through Hebrews 12, I've recently come to verse 11:
 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
I wonder how many times I have not submitted to the discipline of the Lord but instead gone about my own way because it seemed pleasing at the moment, only in the end to suffer acutely from my own sin and folly.  It has been freeing to undergo a discipline that I cannot escape, to be pressed upon so firmly that I cannot help but submit, and find that in submission even to the pain and loss there is comfort and peace.  I see now how submission leads to righteousness because, having tasted of the Lord's sweetness to those who grieve, temptation has lost much of its appeal.  As a small example, I have seen the desire for intimacy and love wreak havoc on all sorts of people, myself included, when not submitted to Christ.  And though I miss the intimacy of marriage, I am not (perhaps I should insert a yet here) tempted to pursue it again.  My eyes are opened in new ways to sin and brokenness, and I harbor no illusions about how they damage even relationships based on Christ.  There are a thousand more examples that I am still working out in my own life, as if I'm looking through a kaleidoscope and beginning to see pictures in the swirling colors for the first time.

So I'm patiently waiting as the Lord chisels away at those scales over my eyes.  Like the blind man who saw people walking around like trees, I don't seem to really see things properly the first time (or sometimes the second time, third time, etc), so I'm trying to sit still and be patient while the Lord works on me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Tonight I spent some time updating the journal I've kept for Quinn since he was a baby.  I'm not much into baby books, but I enjoy writing, so I've kept a sporadic journal of his life.  I read it after I finished tonight's entry and found it nice to remember moments or stories I had forgotten.

In all the cleaning and sorting, filing and organizing, and looking through that I've been doing lately, I've found it hard to let my mind rest on one topic.  Like a bird lost over the ocean, I am wearied by my inability to land.  Work and life have been hectic, and I find myself disengaged from just about everything.  Reading is difficult because words dance before my eyes for ages before I can extract any meaning from them, and writing feels like I'm trying to speak through mud or as if I'm trying to form words after just waking from heavy anesthesia.

I spent some time praying for rescue, for a place to land amidst the floodwaters of my soul.  I'm still waiting.  But that's faith a lot of the time for me right now, watching other people's lives move forward while I look for a place to land or an olive branch to let me know that land is out there somewhere.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Last Saturday at the monastery was the kind of crisp fall day that tempts you to curl up in bed for an extra hour, but the schedule of the monastery had me up and out of doors while the chill was still strong enough to creep into my bones.  I loitered about the monastery in the morning, attending my first catholic mass and browsing the gift shop before finding the keeper of the maps.  She handed me a photocopy of a hand-drawn map and wished me luck.

I set out across the road, awkwardly juggling the map and my day pack while trying to turn my head all directions at once.  I was ill prepared for the sudden downturn in temperatures, so I alternated holding the map and tucking my hands into my sweatshirt.  The grey clouds marched in full state across the sky, pierced only now and then by a warming shaft of sunlight, so that I would be chilled right down to the bone one minute only to be rescued by a brief break in the ranks.

Across the road there was a nicely mown path through a field to the top of a hill where a statue (I assume of Jesus) stood.  Several people walked up to it or sat on benches nearby.  The possibility of following a wide, well-populated path was tempting, but I was far too cold for a leisurely stroll and too anxious to get  lost in the woods, metaphorically speaking.  So I headed a hundred yards or so down the road where a small trail led through the woods to a vague marking on the map labeled "statues."

Now I'm quite timid about heading off into the woods by myself.  Contrary to my what my last post might indicate, I'm actually not nearly as afraid of getting murdered as I am of getting hopelessly lost and missing lunch.  So I actually considered staying in my room all weekend and reading, taking short walks to the gift shop whenever I felt the need to sample fudge.  My timidity, combined with my stunning lack of directional sense, pretty well convinced me that I was doomed to die of starvation if I set one foot off the road.  Whether out of stupidity or simple need, I forced myself onward, traveling well-worn paths that morning and venturing further into the knobs (that's what they call the hills around the monastery) as the weekend wore on.

Leaving other people behind at various benches or statues, I kept pushing onward until I finally broke into my own private clearing, slightly off the trail.  The dew had already soaked through my shoes, and I paused to bask in one of the rare shafts of warming sunlight and listen to what first sounded like torrential rain but turned out to be the wind crashing through the trees across the clearing.  Slowly, I felt loose wisps of hair begin to dance around my neck.  Suddenly I found myself swallowed up by the wind as that small piece of sunlight was once again obscured by clouds.  Here would be a nice place to talk about how I was similarly swallowed up by the spirit of God, yadda, yadda, yadda, but really, all I could think was, "man, I hope it doesn't rain.  I'll probably get lost AND get hypothermia."

I wandered around for another hour or so that morning, getting my bearings without wandering too far, choosing to defer adventures requiring any more courage until the afternoon.  I felt particularly uninspired and morose, and of course I was afraid of missing lunch, so I made my way back to the monastery gardens and found a place where I could read and write that was sheltered from the wind but warmed by the temperamental sunshine.  So I read for a while, and then I wrote:
I wake up to God every morning, his name in my heart and on my lips.  I hide his word in my heart and chatter to him throughout the day as if we were old friends, and still I feel the depths of my inadequacy, an impossible distance between us.  Like a child playing house, so I play at keeping religion.  And instead of feeling closer to God, I begin to wonder if I ever knew him or if he has been to me nothing more than a paper doll to dress up and and keep me company wherever I go.  In this I envy the birds around me, the insects and wildlife: to just do, without thought or reflection, that which you were created to do.  And perhaps in doing what is to us the mundane, simple task of living, others will hear music that, like a birdsong, lifts the spirit and points heavenward.

Friday, October 7, 2011

psycho killers

Wow.  What a full week.  I had fully settled in my spirit to spend this week reflecting and reading, and instead I've spent my small slivers of spare time watching videos of Emmett that came in the mail and looking through some of his notebooks that I keep finding squirreled away all over the house.  My spirit has been quiet and reflective.  I wouldn't say peaceful, exactly, but free from the frantic emotional swings so characteristic of my soul lately. 

I've been plagued with terrible dreams for a while now.  Ironically they were particularly bad while I was at the monastery, but yesterday morning, I woke up from one that was both awful and so arresting that I immediately started praying.  In the dream I was at school, and though in the dream I knew all the people, they were not actually people I know in real life.  There was a serial killer on the loose, and his first move was to kill the entire cheerleading squad (what does that say about my psyche?).  Although there was a group of men trying to capture him, he was able to continue killing.  Then when I was on the phone with a friend, he came to kill her and she told me who it was.  It was the man in charge of group trying to catch the killer.  And I had a problem.  I knew no one would believe me because this man was so charismatic, with the kind of magnetically attractive personality that leads you to believe almost anything rather than the truth.  So he came to my room, and asked me to go on a walk with him.  And there was this weird moment because I knew he was a psycho killer, and he knew that I knew what he was.  But he was so freakishly attractive that I really didn't care if he was going to kill me.  Until some teeny tiny voice in my brain started shouting, "run you moron!"

The dream petered out from there, but I woke up breathless with God's words to Cain in Genesis 4 on my heart, "sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it."  For the first time in a long time I really felt the heartlessness of evil and it was creepy.  It was like that face in the dream was leering at me, knowing exactly how to wrap sin in a package so enticing that I wouldn't even care I was running to my death.  So I immediately started praying, terrified by my own helplessness in the face of evil, not that something would happen to me, but that I would be tempted away from Christ to my own spiritual death.  I prayed over and over to be hidden in Christ and protected beneath the shadow of God's wing.

Paul warns repeatedly to flee temptation, sin, evil, idolatry, etc.  So I've been praying to be able to hear that teeny tiny voice when it tells me to run like crazy and that I would be given the strength to set my legs in motion.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Perhaps if I wanted to find some sort of deep, soul-satisfying peace in my silent wanderings last weekend, I shouldn't have listened to an audio recording of Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge on the drive to the monastery.  Probably not a good call.

I tried not to have any expectations, but I found myself somewhat disappointed by the lack of extraordinary.  And then I picked up a little book called, Life of the Beloved by Henri Nouwen.
Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply.  It is like discovering a well in the desert.  Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper....
Remember that feeling of diving into a new relationship that makes you want to stay up late into the night talking, discovering all you can about this new person before you?  In the same way, being intimately awakened to the tenderness of God through suffering makes you want to jump in head first and drink up everything you can.  Except that there is no end to God.  Had we never been separated from him in the fall, an eternity would still be needed to plumb the depths of God's mysterious goodness.  And I realized that my frustration was really impatience, as if I could force my soul to enlarge or my eyes to open.
From the moment we claim the truth of being the beloved, we are faced with the call to become who we are.  Becoming the beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make.
If it is true that we not only are the Beloved, but also have to become the Beloved; if it is true that we not only are the children of God, but also have to become the children of God; if it is true that we not only are brothers and sisters, but also have to become brothers and sisters...  If all that is true, then how can we get a grip on this process of becoming?  If the spiritual life is not simply a way of being, but also a way of becoming, what then is the nature of this becoming?
...  This is such an important question because it forces us to let go of any romanticism or idealism and to deal with the utter concreteness of our daily lives.  Becoming the Beloved means letting the truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say, or do.  It entails a long painful process of appropriation or, better, incarnation.  As long as "being the Beloved" is little more than a beautiful thought or a lofty idea that hangs above my life to keep me from becoming depressed, nothing really changes.  What is required os to become the Beloved in the commonplaces of my daily existence and, bit by bit, to close the gap that exists between what I know myself to be and the countless specific realities of everyday life.
Isn't that just good enough to soak in?

So I let go of my expectations for the weekend and just tried to be present, prayerfully asking God to show me that I am his Beloved, and I plan to carry that prayer into the days and weeks to come.


I haven't written much lately because there wasn't much to say.

I got to the point last week where things were moving along fine, but I still seemed to carry a deep sadness.  How do you communicate that without wallowing in self-pity?  How do you propel yourself forward each day with intentional perseverance while gracefully acknowledging the grief?  I'm not sure I've found that balance, yet, and my moods still vary so widely I feel like an infant being tossed about on the waves.  Sometimes it is better to be silent.

So last Friday I left Quinn with friends and made my way up to a Trappist monastery in Kentucky called Gethsemani Abbey for the weekend.  It was an unexpected, last minute getaway, and I was looking forward to some rest (didn't happen), reading (happened), hiking (happened) and praying (happened).  I'll spend the next few days blogging about some of my wanderings, both reflective (on some of my readings) and humorous (on getting lost in the back woods of Kentucky).

But for now, I am attempting to catch up with life, which is demanding this time of year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


The intensity of this weekend has caught me off guard.

Some things are easy because we should have done them years ago, like cleaning out the piles of junk in Emmett's studio that he never used.  Where, incidentally, I found every single clipboard in the house that Emmett had at one point squirreled away someplace safe, and where we haven't been able to find them for years.

But other things, like cleaning out Emmett's closet, are not so easy because there is a note of finality, a reminder that he's not just on the road again.  As I sorted through Emmett's things (and I bet you'd have never guessed that he had more clothes and shoes than I did), I also sorted through memories and emotions.  I rearranged my clothes, but it felt like I was reorienting my life, a feeling I wasn't prepared for because I felt like I was turning towards emptiness (as in a completely unknown future, not as in a lack of Jesus).

I also spent some time listening to a song a friend wrote about Emmett (Check out his CD here: the last track is the one to which I'm referring, but the whole disk is great), and though it's a good song, well a very good song actually, it's also a hard song because, unintentionally, I think it captured Emmett's mood very well.  Unlike many sparkly songs about dying, it poignantly captures the tension caused by a long illness.

And finally, last night, as I was working in the kitchen on some Team Emmett things, I heard Quinn sobbing from his bed.  I don't think I've ever seen him cry so hard that for several long minutes he couldn't even tell me what he was crying about.  He finally choked out that he was sad about daddy.  He had gotten out some books written by another friend about love and eternity (check those out here), to look at in bed, and those books always remind him of his daddy.  He wanted me to read them to him over and over, which I could barely do.

This weekend has been full of Emmett, even down to the weather.  Fall will always make me think of Emmett and intensify his absence.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


So a combination of losing my lawn service (he got another job) and an end to the drought made Quinn comment the other day that our grass was getting really long.  You know it's bad when your four-year-old points out exactly what you've chose to ignore.  I've had so many offers for help that I was waffling on what to do.  So I decided to tackle it myself because hey, I've never mowed a lawn, and it can't be that hard, right?  Besides, everyone should do it once.  So here are my observations after mowing the lawn for the first time (And yes, it's okay to laugh and the comments are open for mocking):

  1. Always start in the backyard so that your embarrassing attempts at starting the lawnmower and your obvious lack of expertise about exactly how to maneuver the lawnmower do not become dinner table conversation for the neighbors.
  2. If the self-propelled feature is no longer working on your lawn mower, then you do not need to go to the gym beforehand or for the next several days if there are hills in your yard.
  3. When your husband mentions that the self-propelled feature isn't working (years ago) and says he needs to get it fixed, don't just smile and nod.  Make sure he follows through just in case you need to mow the lawn someday.
  4. If you accidentally run your lawnmower into mulch, you might want to close your mouth and duck because it flies everywhere, or at least that's what I've heard.
  5. Moles really are as evil as Emmett said they were.
  6. Rather than mowing a hill full of mole tunnels (see #5) that is enclosed by fences on two sides and bushes on a third, just give up and buy a goat.
  7. Mowing grass is much more satisfying when your lawn is thick and lush (the backyard) rather than when it looks like a bald man's combover (the front yard).  Now I know why Emmett was obsessed with planting grass seed last fall.  It's all dead now thanks to the summer.
  8. Thin strips of tall grass between two nicely mowed isles are not chic.
  9. And how in the world does that one blade of grass that's two feet tall survive multiple mowings? No idea.  It's still out there in the back yard.
  10. Watch out for low hanging branches waiting to assault the innocent head passing by.
  11. Artificial turf was a genius idea.
I enjoyed mowing the lawn because it made me feel awesomely powerful, and I had such a good laugh at my own expense.  But now I'm completely ready to do my part in stimulating the economy and find a lawn service.


Read this from Hosea 11:1-4:

1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son. 
2 But the more they were called, 
the more they went away from me.  
They sacrificed to the Baals 
and they burned incense to images. 
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, 
taking them by the arms; 
but they did not realize 
it was I who healed them. 
4 I led them with cords of human kindness, 
with ties of love. 
To them I was like one who lifts 
a little child to the cheek, 
and I bent down to feed them.

Now read it again.  and again.  and again.

Last night I picked up a little book called Surrender to Love by David Benner on a recommendation from a friend, and wow it is like a well aimed arrow straight into my heart.  I've already read half of it, though I must admit, it's only about 110 pages long.  Just take this passage:
        It is surrender to love that I really resist.  I am willing to accept measured doses of love as long as it doesn't upset the basic framework of my world.  That framework is built on the assumption that people get what they deserve.  That's what I really want.  I want to earn what I get.  And for the most part I am content to get what I earn.  Nothing grates me more than a handout.  If you doubt this, just ask someone who lives off charity.  What humans want is to earn the love we seek.  
        The Christian God comes to us as wholly other - so different from the gods of my imagination, so far beyond my control.  Encountering such a God is terrifying because encountering perfect love is an invitation to abandon ego.  A god of our own making would be much less terrifying.  But such a God cannot offer me what I most deeply need - release from my fears and healing of my brokenness.
I was meditating on some recommended passages of scripture from this book when Hosea 11 caught my attention, and I was overwhelmed with the tenderness of the Lord.  Tenderness is not a word frequently used to describe our Lord, yet the images in scripture overflow with tenderness.  He teaches us to walk, takes us by the arm, bends down to feed us, leads us with cords of kindness, and all that in this passage alone.  The whole rest of the Bible overflows with the tenderness the Lord feels towards his children.

Tenderness is taboo because it makes us vulnerable.  In our culture, the concepts of surrender, love, and fear are avoided and despised because we mistake them for weakness and loss of self.  But what if in surrender, we find our real selves and the power of God?  What if we've been avoiding that which will bring us the greatest peace?  What if the pain is just a temporary trial that we pass through to find joy?

Dwelling richly in the word is revealing the incomprehensible extent of how sin and self have blinded me to the truth that would set me free.  How often can I speak the truth that I cannot see at work in my own life?  Yet I am encouraged to throw myself on the grace of God more every day, knowing that his tenderness, not my merit, will be there to catch me.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


For the first time in almost two decades, I've taken up swimming laps occasionally.  I would like to say that I'm super spiritual and pray and contemplate life while I swim, but mostly I shut my mind off and try not to lose count of the laps, which inevitably happens at some point (and, unfortunately not because I swim a lot of laps).  But this week my mind was flooded with childhood memories of swimming.  Since from the ages of 4-13 I spent practically every summer day at the pool for about 8 hours before the two hours of swim practice, I had a lot of memories to wade through.

Particularly strong are the memories of my parents, specifically my mother, who must have spent hours making me chase her around the pool when I was little.  At least, it felt like hours, and I was convinced I was going to drown (Love you mom, and by the way, I do the same thing to Quinn!).  That image has stayed near the front of my mind this week, and I finally realized why when I reread one of the most intriguing verses in Romans 8:
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (11)
I first took notice of this verse a couple years ago when we had to read Romans for summer reading at school.  Several things in life overlapped to make Romans 8 a powerful and particularly enduring force in my life at the time; the loss of our daughter, a mission trip to Poland where our pastor preached through Romans 8, and finally reading it for school.  I remember sharing this particular verse with a small group and noting that Paul feels it necessary to repeat himself.  The verse actually caught my attention because I had one of those weird brain moments where I thought I read the same line over and over.  It actually took several minutes for me to unravel my own confusion and figure out that my brain wasn't a skipping record, but that the author was intentionally repetitive.

Paul repeats here two things, that the Spirit of God lives in us and that this is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.  Let me say that again, the Spirit of God lives in us and this is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.   Did you catch that?  Because I've been a believer for fourteen years, and I'm still working out the logical consequences of those two truths, so one more time (read it slowly and out loud):  the Spirit of God lives in us and this is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.

Um, wow.

No wonder Paul repeated himself.  I'm surprised he only did it once.  Because I just want to copy and paste that sentence over and over.  So many days, I am convinced that the very God who holds all of creation in existence and still cares for me tenderly and compassionately will let me drown.  And worse yet, I operate as if the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead and conquered death once for all will not be able to complete his work in me.

Don't get me wrong, the power of sin to deceive is a vicious foe, and the battle that rages for control of my mind is intense.  I mean, like smelting metal in a furnace intense.  So perhaps that is why I desperately need to be reminded of the greater power at work within me, a power that neither begins in me nor draws its strength from me, but a power that will give life to my body.  Real life, not that namby, pamby self-numbing, entertained-to-death, safe kind of life.  And I'm finding that real life to be soul-crushingly difficult, but desperately good.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Quinn confesses to me frequently his deep, passionate wish that superheroes and superpowers could be real, to which I usually respond with the somewhat heartless, "yeah, but I really don't want supervillains, and it seems if you have one, then you would have both." Not cool, mom.  Not cool.

Our summer reading for work this past summer was to memorize two psalms and the opening passage of John.  The assignment fortunately coincided with particularly broken spirit, and I was longing to dwell more richly in the word, so I filled up pages and pages of writing these passages over and over.  And though I had memorized verses before, I found that dwelling richly in whole passages was so good for me that I decided to continue on with a couple more passages, Romans 8 and Hebrews 12.  

I've also found that nothing puts me in my place like trying to memorize scripture.  You couldn't sit me in the corner with a dunce cap long enough to create the same amount of feelings of shame and inadequacy induced by trying to learn a few verses of scripture by heart.  My mind is so dull and slow that these two chapters alone might very well may take me the rest of my life, but I suppose that dwelling in those two chaptes for the rest of my life might do me a whole lot of good.

Not only am I not very far along, I often find on mornings like this one that I have regressed several verses.  This morning in particular, Romans 8: 5-8 just would not come out.  But as I went over and over them, wanting to beat my head against the wall in frustration, I realized that maybe, just maybe, the Lord was trying to get his word into my thick skull in another way.  I mean, read the verses for crying out loud!
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
 I have been in such a battle with my own mind lately that you think it wouldn't have taken me WEEKS to figure out that these verses were extremely relevant to my life at the moment.  Did I mention how thick and dull my brian can be at times?  Just this morning, I woke up early (thanks to the lovely birds outside my open window on this glorious fall morning), and had to struggle not to let my mind wander into unhealthy places.  And no, I'm not detailing those unhealthy places for you, so stop wondering what they are.

I mean, this is a battle, people!  No wonder my mind doesn't want me to hold on to these verses because it would rather be picking daisies in la-la land than submitting to the father of my Spirit and living in peace.  I am nuts and I know Christ!  Imagine if I didn't!  Oy!

I've had some interesting conversations with sweet friends lately about putting on the armor of God, the power of Satan to deceive even those who have loved God for decades, and the need to humbly come before him every day in prayer.  I have never been so aware of my need to stubbornly and forcefully arm myself with grace and mercy and truth and the righteousness of Christ because those flaming arrows sent from Satan are aimed with stunning accuracy at my weakest points.  And frantically moving my little tiny shield is no longer doing me any good.  So I'm diving into big passages of scripture with big meaning, and rolling around in them until all the indecent parts of my soul are awkwardly exposed and then graciously covered with Christ's righteousness.

 And that is the best super power of all, to be exposed and then covered by the relentless grace and mercy of Christ, to submit, as it says in Hebrews 12, to the Father of our Spirits and live!  Because if I could shoot lasers out my hands or get big and green to squash whoever annoyed me or beat up anyone I wanted, then we'd all be in trouble.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I've been slowly falling apart these past couple weeks, drawing away from my savior and closing off parts of my heart.  The attitude of my heart was slowly working its way out in chores not done, friends not called, time not spent in the word.

This past weekend I took Quinn out to Foster Falls with a group from school for an overnight camping trip (which he loved) and a taste of outdoor rock climbing (which he did not love).  It was the perfect weekend for a voyage into the woods.   I had spent the previous week checking out our tent, trying to find all the gear stashed over the house, and planning for every possible four-year-old curve ball.  Between working, preparing for the trip, and visits from family, I didn't have much time to think about the trip.

But I could feel the panic setting in on the drive down, and sure enough, as I strapped on Emmett's pack with his tent and sleeping bag inside, the full weight of how much I miss him came rushing over me all at once.  As we hiked the short trail to the campground, we were often alone and the tears would fall hot and fast as Quinn jabbered on behind me unaware.  I did marvel at his ability to maintain a constant stream of chatter while practically climbing to the campsite.  He certainly did not inherit that skill from me.

This morning we decided to spend playing on the edge of the plunge pool at the base of the falls.  The water was deep and frigid.  I couldn't help thinking how Emmett would have enjoyed the freezing cold water and would have found a way to drag me in against my will.  Since we didn't have Quinn's swimming vest, we played on the shore chasing villains, trying to skip stones, and finding rocks that looked like rock monster teeth.

Quinn enjoyed his weekend so much he went to bed about 6 pm tonight without a fuss.  I however, spent most of the weekend just trying to hold myself together because Emmett's absence was so powerfully felt.  There were times the my efforts at self-control cost so much that I could barely speak.  Consequently I didn't have much time for reflection until we got home and my hands were busy with unpacking and laundry.  And I couldn't seem to get these lyrics by David Crowder out of my head:
He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane,
I am tree bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy
all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me. 
oh, how he loves us so, oh how he loves us, how he loves us so.
(check out the whole song here)
It would seem that I have been dabbling on the edge of God's mercy, refusing to immerse myself in His love.  Because it is in his glorious presence that my afflictions are truly eclipsed.  Therein lies the beauty of affliction, for whatever form it takes, whatever state it finds me in, it will never fail to bring the love of God into sharp focus.  And somehow, even in my circumstances, I am learning thankfulness.  I find myself curious to plunge the depths of God's love, knowing that I will never be prepared for the shock of clarity and depth of grace I will find there.

So my prayer this week is to be able to immerse myself in the love of God as if I were jumping into that freezing cold plunge pool and feel my breath taken away as the full force of that love surrounds me.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Last Friday I was cleaning out some files on my phone, specifically several dozen pictures taken by Quinn, mostly of his fingers, when I came across some old videos I'd made of Emmett with Quinn.  It was weird to hear Emt's voice again, to see his smile and silly jokes.  It reminded me of how much laughter he brought to our home.  

Then Monday I was looking through something in my office when I came across Emt's last journal where he had prayed for me, for strength to keep fighting, for healing and so many other things.  The unexpected rush of emotions was a bit overwhelming.  Quinn came in the room shortly thereafter, and after asking me what was wrong, he said, "Mom, just imagine a bird playing drums, that would be so silly!"  And, in an attempt to make me laugh, he kept telling me to imagine different animals playing the drums.  I have no idea where he picked up on that skill, but it was both funny and heart-breakingly sweet at the same time.

So we laughed together, and I spent some time thanking God for the gift of my son, who, like his father, is one of the very few people on earth that can make me laugh that kind of deep, soul cleansing laughter.  Tonight I'm specifically praying for a house full of more sweet laughter.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So last Monday (sorry it's been a while!) I arrived home to find someone's pet bird perched on my doorstep.  Literally.  A bird.  Perched.  On the little sliver of step right in front of my door.  I mean, I know what to do with a stray dog, but a stray bird?  So being the genius I am, I got a handful of birdseed (yes, the comments are now open for mocking) and tried to get near it.  Needless to say, that idea was a complete bust.  So after chasing it around the yard for a few minutes, I finally threw my scarf over it so it couldn't flutter away, and gently picked it up and returned it to the owners.

As I held the little bird, though, I couldn't help noticing that I could see its tiny little heart pounding away in its chest as if the heart were about to explode.  I felt a little sorry for the bird because being lost with your wings clipped has to be a terrifying ordeal.  Then he started trying to peck me through the scarf and I didn't feel so sorry for him anymore.

Lately, though, I have felt so much like that bird.  Except that instead of exploding out of my chest, my entire ribcage seems to constrict until I feel like I can't breathe, and I want to have a panic attack because I have papers to grade or laundry to fold.  Add to that a layer of guilt for all the phone calls I haven't made or the notes I haven't written or the nice things I haven't done for people, and some days I can hardly get out of bed.  It is very not rational.  So don't try to explain it away.  I'm nuts.

And so I find myself praying for help to grade papers and for five minutes to make a phone call or just for the motivation to get out of bed.  So while I would happily live without the anxiety, I am learning the meaning of dependency and strength.  I'm learning that being strong is not about riding an emotional high from good things going on in your life, but slowly and graciously doing whatever is in front of you at the moment.  I'm learning that dependency, when wrongly placed, leads to all kinds of grief, but when rightly placed leads to joy.  I'm learning that sometimes the hardest thing we can do is to walk through life with eyes wide open to God's truth about ourselves and this world.

And the Lord pours out his mercy in unexpected ways.  I find that when I wake up and pray because I can't make myself get out of bed, I soon hear the footsteps of a sweet boy who woke up an hour early and brings me a book on dinosaurs to read.  The simple obedient faith that makes me get in the car to go to work is rewarded with new mercies and a sense of peace to replace my dread.  And by sitting down to write when I'd rather hide in a corner or play games on my phone, I find healing and understanding.

The way the Lord has answered me, not by making things easier or relieving me of responsibilities or even by taking away my anxiety, but just by being present in the midst of my struggle.  That presence makes me cherish my savior in ways I never thought possible.  If I had stayed in bed or quit, how much of Christ would I have missed?  It makes me wonder about the mercies I have already missed because I have been too weary or afraid to take the next step, and that thought encourages me to keep going.

I've been working on memorizing Hebrews 12.  Don't be too impressed, in a month, I've done maybe five verses, so this is going to take me a couple years.  But one prayer I have been praying over and over for myself is from Hebrews 12:1, to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles so that I may run with perseverance the race marked out for me.  Right now I feel like I'm wading through sludge, or maybe quicksand, but maybe one day it will feel like running.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Every once in a while, I really love me some cheesy Christian music.  I was listening to an old mix the other day in the car, and the Rich Mullins song, "Hold Me, Jesus" came on.  There's a line in there that says, "It's so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart."  Man is that ever a good summary of where I am.

I forget sometimes how much the Lord guards your heart in grief, protecting you from even your own harmful patterns of sin.  Unfortunately, re-entry into reality is always too soon and incredibly painful.  I have cried myself to sleep the past couple nights like a pressure valve having to let off steam so I don't explode.  And I'm not saying that so you'll write me nice things to make me feel better about myself (please don't), but more that you'll know the intensity of spiritual warfare going on in my heart. 

The blessing in suffering is that it brings with it an overwhelming desire for heaven, but the curse is that suffering constantly reminds us that we are not there yet.  Old thought patterns and sinful tendencies are clamoring for my attention again, and my soul is wearied by the desire to just mentally check out.  Sometimes just showing up for my own life is an act of faith greater than moving a mountain. 

So I keep repeating Romans 8:1-2 and Hebrews 12:1 to myself:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 
 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Because right now it feels like I'm running a race with feet covered in blisters, and a healthy dose of perseverance, or perhaps just flat out stubbornness is what I need.  But maybe it isn't really blisters that I'm feeling.  When I run during the week, I start off my run listening to Phil Wickham's song, "Desire."  The opening lines are:
I’m running through the gates of love, as fast as I can
I can’t wait to see You cause I’m a desperate man
You made the light and sent it down
to show us who You are
Now It’s bursting out my heart

My desire is burning like a million stars
And I’ll keep reaching out, reaching out for You.
I really like that song, and now the words make me wonder if it's really blisters on my heart or if that's just how it feels when your heart is about to burst with longing for something you don't yet have.  Probably a bit of both.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I am a psychoanalyst's ideal patient.  With a four-year-old boy who insists on wearing his Batman costume almost everywhere, it isn't really surprising that I've been having superhero dreams.  I had this gut wrenching dream Sunday night about Emmett and I being superheroes together in some kind of X-men type of school where we couldn't talk, but he kept giving me the Vulcan live ling and prosper symbol which actually meant "I love you."  Talk about romantic.  Wow.  Apparently, not only do I have undiscovered superpowers, but I am a closet trekky.  Sweet.  My subconscious is awesome!

I have been having trouble dwelling richly in the word lately.  During the break, it was easier to quiet my spirit and settle into the rhythm of scripture.  With the start of school and Quinn having a cold, my time is more disjointed.  This morning, he woke early with a coughing fit, so I held him in bed and read Isaiah 5 out loud to him.  Not exactly kid material, but oh well.

After reading the letters of Paul, I've gone back to the prophets.  I wasn't really sure why, but I have found in these books a beautiful heart of brokenness for the nation of Israel that seems to reflect my own feelings.  Passages that used to make my eyes glaze over now seem to shimmer with brokenness and compassion.  I read Lamentations first, for no really good reason, and in it Jeremiah refers to himself as a man who has seen affliction.  I continue to marvel at how suffering of any sort, when accepted as the grace of God, opens my heart to truth.  As I read Isaiah's rebukes in chapter 5 to those who "run after their drinks," and "draw sin along with cords of deceit," and to "those who call evil good," I reacll Paul's reminders that I once dwelled in that life, and, but for the grace of God, would dwell there still.

I find myself as the school year begins, being constantly caught off guard by how the Lord opens my eyes to be compassionate by drawing me into the ugliness of sin.  At a very basic level I begin to understand how truly offensive even my smallest sins are, but then I find that awareness leaves my heart more gracious.  It is a strange irony to know how deeply sin offends my savior and yet to find that knowledge stirring in me a deeper love for sinners.  At the same time, the Lord is using the awareness of my own ugly heart to remind me that I am his beloved.  Just like Quinn's need to be held is most desperate after he has done wrong, so I also need the arms of my savior to hold me closest when I have most offended him.  I continue to wonder what kind of person I would be if I could see other people this way, as most in need of my love when they least deserve it.

The words of this song have been on my heart as a fitting summary of my thoughts and emotions.  I think I've shared them before on the Team Emmett blog, but they are worth repeating.  I'm praying this week for the weight of God's love to melt my pride.
"Hymn" by Jars of Clay
 Oh refuge of my hardened heart   
Oh fast pursuing lover come 
As angels dance 'round Your throne 
My life by captured fare You own 
Not silhouette of trodden faith 
Nor death shall not my steps be guide 
I'll pirouette upon mine grave 
For in Your path I'll run and hide
Oh gaze of love so melt my pride 
That I may in Your house but kneel 
And in my brokenness to cry 
Spring worship unto Thee
When beauty breaks the spell of pain 
The bludgeoned heart shall burst in vain 
But not when love be pointed king 
And truth shall Thee forever reign
Sweet Jesus carry me away 
From cold of night, and dust of day 
In ragged hour or salt worn eye 
Be my desire, my well sprung lye
[Chorus x 2] 
Spring worship unto Thee 
Spring worship unto Thee 

Thursday, August 11, 2011


One thing I remember from all my German in college is that there are a lot of philosophers whose names start with the letter S: Schiller, Schopenhauer, Shleisselhopper (okay, I made that one up).  One of them, maybe Schiller, wrote a sentence that I can remember so distinctly that I even still remember what the page looks like and can flip right to it when I open the textbook that lies buried under Quinn's bed.  He wrote (in german of couse, this is a loose translation) that we keep ourselves so busy because if we were ever to stop and look down, we might realize that we are standing on nothing.  It was one of those moments when something you read changes your life, and then you go into class the next day and somehow it feels like everyone else read a different text altogether.  Of course, the assignment was in German, so I may have read the wrong text or perhaps he was talking about bunnies.  Nevertheless, that sentence changed the way I think about so many things in my life.

In many ways this summer has been a good time away for me, a time for resting and grieving, but I find myself back to work this week, jarred to reality by the cacophony of voices all clamoring for my immediate attention.  The transition, though good, has been hard.  The difficulty lies in returning as a completely different person to a very familiar task, only now I am accompanied by the fear of slipping into a my usual patterns of sin.

I sat on my back porch this morning drinking tea, enjoying the coolness of a late summer morning despite being overwhelmed by this week.  This prayer by Thomas Merton was perfect:
     The way You have laid before me is an easy way, compared with the hard way of my own will which leads back to Egypt and to bricks without straw.
     If You allow people to praise me, I shall not worry.  If you let them blame me, I shall worry even less.  If you send me work, I shall embrace it with joy.  It shall be rest to me because it is your will.  If you send me rest, I will rest in You.  Only save me from myself.  Save me from my own, private, poisonous urge to change everything, to act without reason, to move for movement's sake, to unsettle everything that you have ordained.
     Let me rest in Your will and be silent.  Then the light of your joy will warm my life.  Its fire will burn in my heart and shine for your glory.  This is what I live for.  Amen, amen.
I am praying this year to be saved from myself, from my poisonous urge for change just for the sake of change.  I am praying for the grace to dwell richly where I am, to find holiness in the ritual of the mundane, and to find rest regardless of my circumstances.  Amen and amen.