Posted in Living this Life

Let us REJOICE!

I didn’t know 14 years ago, when I started this habit, how much it would impact the rest of my life. And today I needed this reminder, cuz truth is, it’s been a rough week … I don’t need to go into details because I suspect you’ve been through it on some level yourself.

Here’s the story: when my daughter was little, I would start each day by announcing “this is the day the Lord has made! Let us REJOICE and be glad in it!!” I would take her little baby arms and wave them in the air. As she grew, it led to full body happy dances as we would rejoice in our day.

One sad day, my little 1 1/2 year old munchkin was quite sick – she spent the day laying on me and being miserable. Near the end of the day, speaking mostly to myself, I said, “well, sweetheart. It’s been a rough day. But it’s STILL the day the Lord has made…” and with all the strength her little spirit could muster, she lifted up her arms and waved them slowly in the air. I get teary remembering that moment even now, because that simple act reminds me on a daily basis that we can rejoice even when our arms are too tired to lift.

When our spirit feels depleted and we have nothing left. We rejoice with what we have, and Almighty God will pour in what we need for the next step. Thank you, Charissa, for this beautiful lesson – I needed it today, 13 years later. My friend, in this place we are all in, this is my prayer for you this week: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Posted in Living this Life

The God who thought up noses…

I don’t know if it’s happened to you, but sometimes something as simple as a word can come to you and turn your whole life upside down.

Or maybe it makes everything somehow more “right”.

It’s the moment you discover that the strange ache you’ve carried with you all your life has a word, and that word somehow gives it context, and allows you to breathe in a fresh way.

It was 1996, I believe. I was sitting in Jerry Root’s class at Wheaton College and he said the word. It was used often by Lewis and oozes through his writings – and it describes something I had innately sensed my whole life, but never had a way to describe it. This started a life long fascination with how to fold this perspective into my daily life.

I know – I’m taking forever to get to it. I feel a little vulnerable here – kind of like that kid on the baseball field who is chasing a butterfly when a fly ball is coming her way.

Quiddity.

Try wrapping your tongue around that one. It’s kinda delicious, dontcha think? Makes a great scrabble word – although I have yet to find an opportunity to use it. And don’t try to google it … there’s not a whole lot out there besides a sterile and boring dictionary definition about the essence of a thing. I’m going to lean on Lewis to explain this a bit better:

…”Jenkins seemed to be able to enjoy everything, even ugliness. I learned from him that we should attempt a total surrender to whatever atmosphere was offering itself at the moment; in a squalid town, seek out those very places where its squalor rose to grimness and almost grandeur, on a dismal day to find the most dismal and dripping wood, on a windy day to seek the windiest ridge. There was not Betjemannic irony about it; only a serious, yet gleeful, determination to rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being (so magnificently) what it was.” (Surprised by Joy)

This comes alive every time you stop to admire the beautiful intricacy of a spiderweb – before removing it from the corner of the living room… again. Or tilt your face up as you walk to the car during an unexpected rain storm – letting yourself feel the cool wetness running down your cheeks. When the option is hide your face while you get wet or throw out your arms and glory in it, what will you do?

Every time a firefly makes you catch your breath with wonder. (I mean, it’s a bug… with a toosh… that glows! Come on!!) This would also be an good time to take a little rabbit trail and listen to the song “Fireflies” by Owl City. https://youtu.be/psuRGfAaju4

Piper puts it like this: “Lewis gave me an intense sense of the “realness” of things. The preciousness of this is hard to communicate. To wake up in the morning and be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the sheer being of things (“quiddity” as he calls it). He helped me become alive to life. He helped me see what is there in the world—things that, if we didn’t have, we would pay a million dollars to have, but having them, ignore. He made me more alive to beauty. He put my soul on notice that there are daily wonders that will waken worship if I open my eyes. (Don’t Waste Your Life)

I don’t know what your personal world looks like right now. But I’m guessing it looks different. Some of you are stuck home, getting bored and restless. Some of you are on the front lines, working those long shifts at the hospital, stocking grocery shelves, or trouble- shooting for your employees who need to keep getting paid, perhaps. I know there’s a lot of different feelings. And I know I can’t fix it – and that’s the hardest part of it all. That helpless feeling.

So we do all we can … but when the room gets quiet and the anxiety tries to creep in – the fears about what next week or next month might look like. What the bank account will look like. That haunting loneliness that sets in – the racing thoughts that hit when it’s too quiet around you. What do we do then?

We live this moment fully. That’s really all we have, isn’t it? That cup of coffee – the warm blanket. The sound of your kids laughing – or the sound of your kids fighting. It’s the sound of your kids – let the smile flicker across your face. The rain that won’t stop – watch the way it trickles down the window – wonder at the beauty reflected in that fleeting moment. See if you can find the many layers of grey that pile up in the sky on the gloomiest day of the week. The pile of laundry to fold – again… let the warm smell of clean clothes envelop you. Just for a moment.

Let the adventure wrap itself around you – even if it stays mainly in your living room. Find the fingerprints of God all around you – He’s showing Himself in all the little places, and it’s breathtaking. Let’s curl our toes in the warm mud of this different place we’re all in and find out what God’s up to.

“”We must smell and, as Chesterton said, marvel at the God who thought up noses. Feel the texture-filled world and let sun, wind, and rain wash our faces.”  – Jon Bloom

“Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They feast on the abundance of Your house; You give them to drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light, we see light” Psalm 35:7-10

 

 

Additional reading:

Every Moment Holy – Doug McKelvey

Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Tish Harrison Warren

Posted in Living this Life

Sinkholes and Chickens

It rained a lot around here recently. Like, a lot. State of emergency type rain – flooding in towns all around us.

And in my town – a giant sinkhole opened up in someone’s backyard.

So, you know to do when a giant sinkhole opens up in your small town? You go take a look, of course! And as we drove by, the realization hit me and my husband at the same time – this was a house that we had looked at possibly buying a few years ago when we were moving. In other words… this could have been our house, with a sinkhole for a backyard!

sinkhole

I have thanked God many times for the home He has blessed us with – but this time I thanked Him with an extra degree of awareness. Because I saw what He had saved us from.

It all kind of got me thinking. We all know how sinkholes work. There’s something wrong under the surface. Unstable soil, a cave or a hole underground faces sudden or unpredictable pressure. And the surface gives in – the pressure takes advantage of the weakness and causes a collapse.

Sinkholes happen all around us – everything looks fine on the outside, but inside where no one sees, our souls are slowly being eroded in immeasurable ways.

Confidence seeping away in the barrage of lies thrown at us by the world.

Mired in insecurity because we can never seem to measure up to what is expected of us.

Trapped in a life we never thought we would live. Decisions we wish we could change, but how does one undo the mistakes of the past?

Paralyzed by fear and choking on darkness.

Most of the time we can keep up the façade. No one can see the gaping hole inside threatening to consume us.

And then I think about Jesus. As He laments “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” Mt 23:37.

chicken 2

Jesus sees her guilt, her sin, her filth. And He longs to gather her up and protect, heal, nurture. “But you were not willing,” is His cry.

Does He not weep even more over our stubborn hearts? The pride that keeps us from letting Him gather us close? The stubbornness that keeps us broken when He is so eager to heal? Hear His heart for you… let it sweep over you and fill in those empty places in your soul.

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides across the heavens to help you and on the clouds in his majesty.” Deuteronomy 33:26

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:25

I don’t know what you see when you look over the landscape of your life today. Maybe everything looks okay, but you sense a sinkhole coming. Maybe you see what you’ve been healed from (or saved from) and are holding fast to the One who keeps your life intact. Or maybe it’s all you can see when you look out of the portholes of your soul – sinkholes scattered like landmines, leaving you trapped and isolated.

Hear this, my friend. There is no chasm too great for Jesus to bridge. It all starts with one step – letting go and letting Him in. To those places you can’t admit are there. To the gaping insecurities and holes that you have spent your life trying to fill. And let Him gather you close, and heal those broken places.  Nestle in tight under His wings, and He will give you rest.

Jesus hen

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91

Keep reading – His promises are true and so beautiful!

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” Isaiah 49:16

“But this is what the LORD says: “Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save. Isaiah 49:25

 “The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you. He drives out the enemy before you; he cries out, ‘Destroy them!’” Deuteronomy 33:27

“And the LORD will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Isaiah 58:11

 ““Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19