Tag Archive: Jesus

Guest Post: Aubrey Sampson: I Wish

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hope this morning finds you surrounded by love in some form: friends, family, netflix, pets (don’t bring them to me, I’m allergic) or, of course, your significant other.

I’m super excited about today’s post because it’s beautifully written by a very talented gal named Aubrey who’s working on a book about overcoming shame with Zondervan. While you wait for the fall release, check out her blog aubreysampson.com.

When I first read “I Wish”, I was both touched and convicted. Aubrey has an incredible way of taking an every day experience and revealing the heart of what’s going on inside. I thought Valentine’s Day was a perfect opporutnity to wrestle with the idea of contentment since the holiday often sets many of us up to fail. “I Wish” is a great reminder that we have everything we need to be joyful.

I Wish

by Aubrey Sampson

Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods and Disney’s latest production of the same title are bookended by two powerful words: I wish. The point is that wishing is cyclical. We wish. We receive. We wish again.

I’ve wished for a new kitchen for quite some time now, but the reality is that on a church planter’s salary new countertops and appliances are the stuff of fairy tales. To my surprise, however, for a Christmas gift, my husband went all heroic-DIY on me. He restored our kitchen cabinets, repainted the entire room, and even used some hardware store credit he’d been saving up to replace our 1980’s eyesore of an island light. It was an affordable way to make my dreams come true. The new kitchen looks gorgeous. I am in love. I am grateful. And yet…I continue to wish.

A few days following the unveiling of the kitchen, I began to think of all the little things I wanted for the new space. A circular rug would be nice. Some new coffee mugs would be cute to display. Nothing too grand or out of reach, really, but before I knew it I was hunting the internet incessantly for sales; ignoring my family to scour decorating apps for farmhouse-chic chalkboards, neo-distressed island stools, and kitschy kitchen dishes. At night while my household slept, I would tiptoe down the stairs to search, uninterrupted, through EVERY DESIGN BLOG THAT HAS EVER EXISTED.

And while there is nothing inherently wrong with online shopping, I began fixating on what I didn’t have, couldn’t afford, and desperately longed for. I wasted long hours placing household items into online shopping carts only to delete them in a moment of anti-materialist resolve, only to later add them again.

My wishing had mutated into obsessing, and I transformed from a sweet Sondheim fairy tale character into a nighttime Gatsby; surrounded by my new beautiful kitchen while staring out at the Other Kitchens just out of reach. And all of this was literally in the span of a week.

In scientific terms: Girl. Gone. Cray. Cray.

Incidentally, as swiftly as the wishing came, the shame followed. I hated myself for this covetousness, this greed. All around me neighbors are losing homes and jobs, and yet I’m daring to wish.

In his classic book, The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer writes, “There is within the human heart a tough, fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets things with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns my and mine look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do.”

I think of my grandmother. Raised by share croppers in Oklahoma, a widow with four children, and still reeling from the residual impact of the Great Depression, Mamaw would deny every gift we tried to give her. “But you need a dishwasher,” we’d say.

“No I don’t. I have always washed my dishes by hand and will do so until the day the good Lord takes me home.” She wasted nothing and shared everything. She was a woman content to decorate her house with newspaper clippings, photos of flower bouquets or mountain scenery. She most certainly was not a woman possessed by Pinterest or owned by Overstock.com. Sensible Mamaw would never have wasted money, let alone a commodity as valuable as sleep, to pore over images of mid-century modern soap dispensers.

These are such first world problems, I know that. At the end of the day they are also Garden of Eden problems. I am Gatsby but I am also Eve. I dwell on what I don’t have. I’m discontent. I don’t believe God has provided everything I need. I wish.

And let’s be honest, right now my struggle happens to be with material items, but if it wasn’t, I’d be longing for other things: approval, accolades, affection.

“We either love wrong things or we love them in the wrong ways,” writes Jen Pollock Michel in her beautiful book, Teach Us to Want. “Instead of loving God faithfully, we devote our affection to trifles…We seek our good in something or someone other than our eternal husband, who is our God.”

In an attempt to stop the madness, to honor my DIY husband, and more significantly, my Eternal One, I finally began asking myself some difficult questions about wishing: What would it look like for me to cultivate gratefulness? Can I give generously to others rather than hoarding in my online shopping cart? Can I enjoy beauty without becoming greedy? Can I learn to wish for the right things?

And the most essential question of all: Can I learn to be content with nothing, knowing I possess everything in Christ?

So I’m trying. I’m turning off the phone, keeping a thankfulness journal, practicing generosity, trying to find true rest. I’m not buying the rug or the soap dispenser.

Even so, something in me knows this: my true contentment will never be found by forcing my possessions back into their proper place. It will be through remembering that Christ possesses me.

Even in my “cray cray,” even in my shame, even in my wishing, I am his.

We are his. And he will be faithful to transform our desires and change the object of our longings. And at the same time, I believe that our wishing won’t end. In fact I don’t think the point of our Christian lives is to stop wishing. I actually believe God will help us to keep on wishing, because at the end of the day, all of our longings are designed to point to and be met in him. As Sondheim put it, “To be happy and forever you must see your wish come true.”

In other words, we will wish until we find the ultimate object of our wishes—Jesus.

 Photo by zazzle.com

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Mouth in the Dust

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Good morning.
Mondays…Ugh.
Between the items I didn’t get to on my weekend to-do list, and the ones I already know I’ll miss or mess up this week, I feel frazzled. On my commute, I tell myself I’ll  do better and this week: I won’t skip workouts, neglect friends and family, and fail at writing. All my planning berating only reminds me just how behind I’m starting off today.
There’s a picture of the person I want to be in my head and she takes a lot of time, effort, and work. (She of course makes it look effortless) She has time for everyone in her life and for herself. If she only gets up earlier, tries a little harder, and learns from her mistakes, she can be real.
Today, as I exited the freeway and parked in front of my office, I remembered a verse someone read in church yesterday that I wanted to look up. I figured it would be a good idea to start there before doing anything else. I opened my computer and looked up Lamentations 3:20-29
“Surely my soul remembers, and is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope.”
Here’s what stood out to me this morning-
His lovingkindness and compassion never fail. They are new every morning.
Every Monday. Every day, I get to start over and He isn’t disappointed or frustrated with me and my shortcomings from yesterday. He looks at me with kindness, no matter how unkind I am to myself.
The Lord is my portion. All the stuff I think I have to do and achieve to secure the life I want are not what I am actually sustained by. He is my portion and He’ll give me what I need to do. Bonus- He’s portioned controlled. If I take on only what He’s asking, I won’t have more or less than what I need.
Wait, Seek, Be Silent, Mouth in the dust. I love that image! Mouth in the dust. It’s like the writer is shouting “JUST STOP AlREADY AND BE QUIET!”  People like me need that:) Why is it so hard to just stop? Why do I start ever week thinking I can get to everything if I rush? If I just wait, seek, be silent, and literally put my big overused mouth to the dust, He’ll help me handle the things I’m trying to control. Then, and only then, do I have the hope being the person I believe He wants me to be.
Ahhhh….That’s better. Monday. Mine feels a little more manageable. Hope yours does, too.
XOXO
Cindy
Image by Lyrics And Life

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To Lent…or Not To Lent

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b45037a73a99965e59ee6b23962e1eeaLent has never been strongly encouraged in the churches I’ve been a part of, but I have participated a few years here and there.  As yesterday came and went, I still couldn’t decide.. “Do Lent?? ..Don’t do Lent??” My main struggle was over my attempt to honestly avoid using it as a form of “Self Help.” I didn’t want to give up something I’d been meaning to cut back on, or use it as motivation to achieve a goal. Getting bikini ready for spring (oh, and Jesus) seemed a bit disingenuous. Maybe you can give up something you love and think of Jesus, but I just usually end up mostly dwelling on “How many days are left??!”

Lent was designed to prepare a follower of Christ for the celebration of Easter. Through prayer and reflection, we sacrifice things in order to identify with the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness without food, water, or companionship. I thought I’d  read the story to see if it sparked an idea for a more intentional practice. What jumps out first is it opens with, “Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted in the wilderness.”  He was led there by the Spirit. If I’m going to do Lent, I should at least pause and ask God if it is something He is leading me into.

As soon as the 40 Days were over, the Devil starts in on Jesus by tempting Him to turn stones into bread. He wanted Jesus to lose faith and resolve that God would provide and fully support Him during His journey. When looking for something to give up, we can ask ourselves: 

  • What keeps me from trusting God with my life? …Is it my calendar? Obsessive complaining? My finances?  
  • What things keep me from being grateful or noticing His provision on a daily basis? …Pinterest? Comparison to others? Shopping? TV?

Next the Devil tries to test Jesus’ trust that God will protect Him. I could spend forever on how our culture, myself included, is obsessed with safety and struggle to trust God in this area. We might ask ourselves:

  • What things am I doing on my own because I don’t believe deep down God will come through?…  Am I a workaholic? Can I attempt to give up worry with the words I say to myself and others? Am I too focused on something I want that I don’t have?
  • What crazy things do I do to control situations? How am I holding on too tightly to things and people I love? …What could I stop doing that would teach me to entrust them to God? Do I snoop on Facebook? Do I hover? Is there an outlet I use to channel my fear?

The final temptation is fascinating to me. Jesus knows he has a very tough road ahead of Him. Since He will soon go through great pain and suffering on the cross, the Devil tempts  Jesus with an easier road. He offers Jesus the illusion of a shortcut and wants Him to lose faith that God knows best. We can ask:

  • Where am I distracted from or full-on avoiding the life God is calling me into?
  • What things am I doing or not doing because I am struggling to believe God’s way is best? 

Jesus went straight into the wilderness from His baptism where God told Him, “You are my Son and I love you.” Immediately after, Satan is right there casting doubt on Jesus’ identity.

  • What keeps me from believing I am fully loved by God… Social media? Certain people in my life? Lies I dwell on?
  • What could I add in that would help my heart and mind believe I am His  and fully loved ?  ..Reading, praying, memorizing Scripture.

Lent is not about getting fit, organizing a closet, or checking off the “I read my Bible” box. We have a greater opportunity to identify with Jesus as He struggled to affirm His identity and trust His father with His life before going to the cross.

To Lent..or Not to Lent.  I still need a bit more time to sit with my own questions (welcome to my crazy head). I’ll be late about it, but the end result will be better. If you need ideas, blogger Rachel Held Evans put out 40 Ideas for Lent 2014 you may want to take a look at. I’d love to know what you are giving up or adding in this season.

Photo by: helt enkelt

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Good Morning

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I wish I could tell you I was one of those people who wakes up early, takes the proper vitamins, and does a few posture enhancing stretches before spending an hour reading my Bible and praying. Unfortunately, I’m more of a snooze twice, rush a shower, grab coffee as I rush into work five minutes late kind of girl. I do notice a big difference when I start my day with some type of Spiritual time, however short. Like many of you, I often turn to Jesus Calling for these times. I really loved today’s…

Come to Me for rest and refreshment. The journey has been too much for you, and you are bone-weary. Do not be ashamed of your exhaustion. Instead, see it as an opportunity for Me to take charge of your life.

Remember that I can fit everything into a pattern for good, including the things you wish were different. Start with where you are at this point in time and space, accepting that this is where I intend you to be. You will get through today one step, one moment at a time. Your main responsibility is to remain attentive to Me, letting Me guide you through the many choices along your pathway.”

It’s funny how easy it is to forget that I need only focus on Him and where He is moving moment by moment. Without meaning to, I end up worrying, spending my best energy, and hustling to get the things I’m convinced A)Will make me happy and B) Clearly need me to take control in order to see happen. I have to constantly be reminded that the idea of me having the power is ridiculous and God is always holding things together. In essence, I waste a lot of time and anxiety while the choice to live into His peace is an available refuge. (And may or may not include refraining from pushing snooze and spending more time with Him)

“He (Jesus) is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 (Emphasis mine)

Photo by Alyssa Fioravanti. An incredibly talented and lovely girl you can spy on (here)

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Welcome

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Dear Hannah,

Please don’t let my first impression fool you. The fact that I set off the infant abduction alarm at the hospital and had to wear a SARS mask to meet you does not mean I came to harm you. Quite the opposite. I came because I love you and couldn’t wait to meet you. And truthfully, most of your encounters with me will be slightly awkward, but usually memorable. Buckle up.

I’ve never been an aunt before but based on what I know from my own aunts, my job is to show you the ropes, be your ally, and take you on lots of great adventures that your parents won’t approve of and your grandparents are too old to try. We can go anywhere you want to go. Unless you pick something lame. Then I’ll choose something else for us to do.

Who am I kidding? You hold all the power. You’re like a tiny ruler in the Johnson universe. We are all drawn to you and you can have whatever you want with a finger squeeze or a baby giggle.

The first thing you need to know is your mom is incredible. She was very sick in the beginning and she fought through it to bring you into the world. She loves you unconditionally and will be a wonderful and caring guide to you as you make your way through life.  Also, she bakes the best cakes. You came out 9lb 8oz. so chubbiness is not new to you. Eat the cake. You carry it well.

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Your dad is my brother. The rules state I can’t be too nice to him (especially in print) or it will explode his head. Between you and me, Mark is a great man. He’s the most generous, kind, and loyal guy I know. This will make for a wonderful father. You’re a very blessed girl.

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They say it’s ideal if you have 5 adults other than your parents to walk with you through life. You already have two sets of awesome grandparents, great grandparents, two uncles and aunts, a whole church, lots of friends, and I’m worth at least 2.5 …so you should be good to go! I can’t speak for everyone, but I think we all want you to know that Jesus loves you very much. He loves you more than we ever could and His love will help you grow up brave, kind, and good.

Welcome to the family! There is no getting out now!

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It’s Not What You Say, it’s How You Say It

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From time to time friends of mine send me articles on singles/dating. Let me just walk you through what happens when I get these:

Notification. Click. Cringe. Reluctantly read.

The absolute worst is when someone posts one on my wall for the whole world to see.

Notification. Click. Horror. Delete. Delete. Delete. Why is it so freaking hard to remove from my phone?! How long has it been there?!?!

In my right mind, I’m thankful friends take the time to pass them along. I need to be up to date. So please, keep sending… as emails.

Recently I was sent one called, “What Not to Say to Single People” posted on Relevant. Let me start by saying there are helpful ideas in her blog. My goal isn’t to attack it. I’m responding because it made me stop and wonder for the first time, why do Christian articles on singleness make me so uncomfortable?

I came up with the following: It’s the way Christians talk about singleness and dating. It’s not so much what we say, but how we say it.

Think about it; in the secular world the single life conjures up images of fun, freedom, excitement, choice, and strength. It’s hot and sexy to be a single girl. The single storylines we see in movies and TV aren’t tragic, but exciting. The plot ends when a girl gets married.

The storyline we get in church is that life can’t begin until we are married.  We usually only see the roles of wives and mothers played out. Christian single life paints images of tears, desperation, cat ladies, and awkward adults gathered around a bowl of church punch playing Catch Phrase.

Why is this? Both groups are talking about the same exact phase of life. (And both have misunderstandings to be sure) But why do Christians talk about it so differently? How can we talk about dating in a way that highlights the good parts about being single?

 

Don’t Make Singleness a Thing

Honestly, I’m horrified by the fact that an article on on how to talk to singles even exists. (I realize I am writing one.) I’m sitting here feeling all-normal, when apparently people need help talking to me. Really? It makes it sound like we have some type of rare disease that requires special handling. I can’t imagine an article like this in a secular setting. Married or not married, it’s not as big of a deal outside the Church.

Don’t Make Singleness Everything

In my office, people talk about all kinds of things- sports, news, and job related issues.  At a Christian function? Forget it. I’m constantly fielding random questions about my dating life. Since the Bible is largely silent on romantic love, it seems odd that Church is the place I feel most pressured to answer for myself.

I don’t hate talking about my dating life and I’m grateful people care about what goes on. It truly is an issue of proportion. One friend wrote me,  “My pastor is CONSTANTLY commenting on how he’s praying for my future husband. However he never comments on how he’s praying for a better job or financial stability or something else equally worthwhile.”

My friend appreciates her pastor’s concern and prayers. It gets tricky when it starts to feel like the only thing people care about.

Don’t Talk About Singleness if You’re Married

I’m going to get burned at the stake over this one, but hang in there with me. Think, “I can talk about my mom, but you can’t.”

Just like finances, marriage, parenting, and dieting are often precarious and complex issues, so is dating. These are topics we build up to with people we put our trust in over time.  For some reason it’s socially acceptable for a married person to casually ask a single person how their relationship is going, but inappropriate for a single person to ask how a marriage is doing.

That being said, I have married friends I love talking about my relationship with. The difference is, I’ve invited them into it.

 

Don’t Treat it Like a Problem to Solve

My biggest concern with Christian single articles, books, and conversations is they typically come across as “how-tos” with lots of advice. This is off-putting because it presupposes the single person is unhappy being single, and unmarried because of a lack of knowledge or effort.

You can see how this would be frustrating.

The Relevant article said, “It’s important for those who are married to remember the struggles that come with being single and do their best to walk away from an interaction with a single leaving them feeling helped, not hurt.”

Do you see the top-down innuendo? While I appreciate the heart behind this, it’s uncomfortable to read your life as a “struggle” in someone else’s eyes. Also, it assumes I need help when I don’t see finding love as a problem to be fixed; I see it as something that happens when it happens.

The truth is, I like my life. I don’t like reading things that give the impression I’m unhappy because I’m not married. If you are married, how would you feel if most articles assumed you were depressed in your marriage?

The bottom line is no one fully understands love. Poets, writers, musicians, and philosophers have tried to capture and describe it since the beginning of time. Despite all efforts, we still don’t even have a solid definition.  Single people don’t like being talked to as if it’s something married people have figured out while we haven’t.

 

Don’t Go too Far with Expectations

Christians can be weird.

We somehow manage to get even weirder around the topics of dating and relationships. We don’t like grey areas. When you take a mysterious concept like falling in love, it’s tempting to want to put it in a standard sized box.  In this case, married with children by 26.

When a person doesn’t fit this expectation, our instinct is to want to fix, help, and give advice. Which is a bummer. My single friends and I don’t want to be fixed. We aren’t unhappy with all of life because we aren’t married. Sometimes we love being single. Like Saturday mornings, when no one bugs us or needs our attention. We look at the divorce rate and know marriage isn’t going to solve any of our actual problems. In the meantime, we pursue other things and enjoy our independence. Maybe we’ll get married at 40 or 50. Maybe we’ll love it. Maybe we’ll hate it. Either way, we want to decide for ourselves.

There are so many ways to live a life. I often wish I lived outside my Christian circles because there seems to be more space for things to look differently. Which is disappointing since Jesus is the ultimate includer of the outsider. Something about the way He spoke to people made them feel welcomed and validated. And at the end of the day, that’s how we all want to be talked to.

 (photo source unknown)

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Book Club: Heart Speaks to Heart

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1-59471-116-XSo… As a whole, what did you think? If you had to boil it down to one thing you took away, what would that be?  For me, it was the reminder that Jesus loves us with a depth and intensity we can’t begin to wrap our minds around. …And sadly, I neglect this love all the time.

 Ch. ONE

What’s one thing you came away with from chapter 1?

Here’s what stood out for me:

Whenever I pick up a book, particularly a Christian one, I open it up and my mind goes straight into learning mode. I make mental lists of what I need to change, do, add, take away, become etc. With the added need to blog about this book, my crazy and busy mind hurriedly turned to the first chapter and was smacked in the face with the opening words,

“Come to me…

Instantly I felt my heart soften and I had to put the book down and reorient my thoughts in order to receive what Nouwen had to say.

I felt chapter 1 spoke of Jesus coming to serve.  This idea still shocks me.  Perhaps it’s because I just started a new job, but I kept thinking about the way we do things in our world. There’s a structure in place for how we help each other. In a company for example, the people on the bottom work for the person at the top.  The CEO is ideally busy doing the most important things and everyone else is working on lesser tasks to help the boss reach his or her goals.

I got this image of a lesser employee, a temp maybe, stressed out, busy, and burdened by their job tasks. Things are tense at home, bills are adding up, and the temp is behind at work.  Suddenly, the CEO walks in during the week of a huge business deal.  Everyone is working like crazy to make sure things run smoothly.  As the CEO heads for his corner office, he pauses at the desk of the temp and says, “Hey, how can I help you? Is there anything I can do for you today? Any way I can lighten your load?”

It’s crazy, right? But that’s the image I get in Ch. 1. I feel like Easter is a big day for Jesus and He has the whole world in His hands. He has big important things to do. I opened the book, pen and paper ready to jot down the areas God wanted me to work on, but was instead met with an invitation to hand over my agenda and simply spend time with Him.

Come to me…and I will give you rest”

What? With everything you have going on, you, Jesus, want to help me? That’s embarrassing. You’re God.

What came out for you? Lots of excellent thoughts on Jesus’ perfect love as the only satisfaction for our longings, hurts etc. I’d love to hear your take away.


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Drift

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“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”–D.A. Carson

This past month led me on a few unexpected trips. From Seattle to Northern Arizona, and a couple stops in between, I spent long hours with friends I don’t often see. Each place held the treasured privilege of hearing what’s really going on in their lives. In the midst of happy updates, we traded the stories you don’t see in Facebook posts and hide nicely behind Instagram filters. Nothing out of the ordinary surfaced, just the reality that life comes with really high highs and really low lows.

“It’s a fight. You have to constantly be working on the relationship if it’s going to make it.” “I’m really tired of trying to figure him out.” “I’m so confused.” “Sex isn’t what it used to be.” “I can’t solve this.” “It’s lonely” “He lost his job.” “I can’t take more rejection.” “If only we talked more.” “Why doesn’t he call?” “She was supposed to be my friend.”

People do not drift toward holiness. We drift toward compromise… disobedience… superstition…

After listening to my friends and reflecting on my own choices, I would add that we often drift toward good and important things- jobs, relationships, dreams, experiences and ministry. We drift unknowingly and we turn around to find ourselves living for these other things. We get hurt by them. We stress out over them. We expect them to solve our feelings of discontent, fear, unhappiness, and insecurity. It’s part of being human.

But in the end, we never drift toward Jesus.

It’s a constant battle to remember and believe He is our only shot at joy, peace, and meaning in the first place. It’s a struggle to simply trust Him with these other things. The good news is we can always find our way back to Him. We can have His presence today.

This song and Psalm have both helped me drift in a better direction lately. Hope they do for you, too.

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Psalm 34

I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.

Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.

The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!

Calamity will surely overtake the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

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Book Club

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9704a9cf0c98fc22c047240f629e8b08Hello, friends. I’ve always wanted to be in a book club and never had the opportunity.  Last month I accidentally started a track team (that is not a joke) and it got me thinking, why not start a book club?  So I am, and I’m inviting you. This one will be online so no need to take off work, hire a sitter, or wake up early on a Saturday.

Here’s how it will work:

For this month, I’ve picked 3 books. Hopefully a few of you will send in suggestions for next month.  You can read one or all of them between now and March 10, at which point I’ll host a conversation about each of them right here on the blog.  Sounds easy, right?

Fiction

7514925Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Before you skip out, please read the line I came across, “For the girls with messy hair and thirsty hearts.” How good is that dedication?! Immediately, I googled and found my way to this book, whose description reads, “Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair…”  I’ve always loved the story of Peter Pan and am excited to return to Neverland! Who is with me? #imadork

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Sociological

2545 THE GIFTS OF IMPERFECTIONThe Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown. My friend Herci recommended this book to me last year and I started it and LOVED it.  Work picked up, got busy, blah blah, somehow I didn’t finish it and now I’m excited to get it done.

Brown spent 10 years studying vulnerability and turned her extensive research into a fascinating book on our culture’s intolerance towards it.  She submits our aversion to vulnerability leads us to struggle with perfection, extremism, and numbing.

As far as I know, Brown doesn’t profess to be religious, making her commentary on the importance of spirituality all the more interesting.  At one point she says, “Spirituality without vulnerability is extremism.” Great insight!

Here is a video of her speaking:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UoMXF73j0c&list=PL363179C52AAC3147

Spiritual

1-59471-116-XHeart Speaks to Heart by Henri Nouwen. Aside from a profound appreciation for Nouwen, I thought this book would be the perfect way to prepare for Easter.

While living in a community of men with special needs, Nouwen met an elderly woman named Mammie, who ran the house.  She encouraged him to write about the Sacred Heart (heart of Jesus) but Nouwen was uncomfortable and uninspired by the idea. Mammie continued to insist for years.

Eventually, Nouwen moved away to become a priest in Toronto, at which point he felt called to retreat to a monastery for Holy Week  in order to connect with Jesus.   Nouwen decided this would be the perfect time to try and write about the heart of Jesus. As the days approached, he realized he no longer wanted to write about the heart of Jesus, but rather, to the heart of Jesus. Instead of writing his thoughts on devotion to the heart of Christ, he asked Jesus to touch his heart and wrote about that experience.

“When Holy Thursday came, I began to write to Jesus- from heart to heart. I also wrote on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday.  I did not look at any article or book. I simply prayed as I wrote and wrote as I prayed.  It was easy; it came without effort.  The words flowed out of me, and I realized that I was doing precisely what Mammie had hoped for from the very beginning.  She wanted me to pray and to pray with my whole heart, and she knew that the heart of Jesus would open my heart for such prayer.”

Let me know if you’re “in” with a comment! See you March,10th;)

(photo source: unknown) 

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Merry Christmas!

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235313149250394507_zXXfVfGX_c[1]Merry Christmas! Hope today finds you amongst friends, family, and surprise gifts under the tree. I got my own Christmas miracle yesterday when my aunt and uncle showed up to our family get together with a super attractive Swiss guy. My cousin Joy and I thought it was enough that he was there to help with her siblings with special needs and visit his wonderful sister, but then we found out he was a carpenter…..like Jesus, but hotter….and by the way used to play water polo for Switzerland’s national team. Oh, and he’s headed to Canada to learn how to build log cabins….LOG CABINS.  We played cards, went to church, made snow angles (Ok, there were no snow angels) but the whole thing reeked of a Hallmark movie. Say this in a childlike voice:

He does exist!”

Today I’m celebrating with the other side of the family, sans beautiful foriegn men, but surrounded by loved ones nontheless.   Since I’m feeling particularly blessed, I wanted to give a little in return. Here are a few songs to wish you a Merry Christmas!


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