Sunday, April 17, 2011


What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. - Romans 8:31-34
My church has been memorizing Romans 8 during Lent, so I've been dutifully following along because I always do precisely what I'm told.

Seriously, though, memorizing this chapter has been one of the most edifying things I've ever done. Every morning (well, not quite every morning) I memorize a new verse; then while I drive to work I start at the beginning and quote as much as I can. It's changed my mornings. My commute, although a brief one, has always been marked by the stress of running late and feeling guilty about it. Now instead of berating myself with a list of "should haves" I begin my day with "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." I need it every time.

As I was working on today's verses (33 & 34, since I didn't get around to it yesterday), I was stopped short by the impossibility of it all. Christ himself is interceding for me? God graciously gives me all things? Who am I to deserve all this?

The questions I ask in unguarded moments are the most telling. Who am I to deserve all this? Silly girl – that's why it's called "grace."

Seriously: whoa.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Journal Entry: Newly Sprung, Part 2

The latest from the handwritten log, or "nlog", of the happenings, prayers, and thoughts of my life.

Sat, April 9

Spring has officially arrived. Today I celebrated by cheering at the Goose Creek 5K for the fourth consecutive year, eating our community brunch, playing football in the rain, playing cards outside a coffee shop. And now I'm flopped on my belly on my quilt in my backyard, surrounded by violets – and by students, similarly situated, studying, resting, pursuing the Lord.

Have I mentioned that I love my life? Have I mentioned how fulfilled I am right now in my calling? This past week was busier, if possible, than the one before, and the grace to enjoy has been as thickly distributed as these violets.

I prefer nlogging to blogging, but I'd like it even better if it provided a simple way to upload relevant images, such as these:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Newly Sprung

Maybe it was the ten days I spent on the Mediterranean coast in February, but I wasn't craving spring yet when it showed up. The daffodils started smiling and nodding at me from the side of the road long before I thought to look for them. And the first violet? I didn't have to seek her out; she came to me in the fist of my favorite 12-year-old, and she didn't come alone.

The violets are everywhere, generously sprinkled outside my workplace, a pool of purple by the gate where I live. And I'm reminded of a God who gives grace upon grace. I'm not in survival mode; in the midst of chaos and clamor, I'm thriving. How many times have I heard it said, "He gives grace not just to endure, but to enjoy"? How many times have I said it to others? How many times have I grit my teeth and just endured?

But now by his grace I'm newly alive, facing greater challenges but somehow loving my life and my calling more than ever, convinced that he withholds no good thing.

Monday, September 13, 2010


"What was it I was thinking about? There was this thought, there was this thing I was thinking."

Yes, I just said those very words out loud to myself. There really was something last week that I was wanting to blog about. Can't for the life of me remember what.

This post is just my way of saying that, yes, it's been a long, long time. This post is that solitary "bleep" on the heart monitor in a dramatic TV scene. I'm still alive. I'm still here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Closing the Gap

I am officially a Bad Blogger. I haven't posted in almost two months. Bad! And as one who has learned by experience that interpersonal reconciliation is best achieved by plain repentance without an attempt to explain oneself, I won't tell you all my good excuses. I won't tell you, for instance, how insanely busy I've been, or the emphasis I'm trying to put on real life community, or the fact that my creative energies have been sapped by invested in work-related blogging. I won't tell you any of those things, because I hate it when people get defensive and try to justify themselves. It's not only godless, it's annoying.

I was reading an old journal this morning (Why? Because I have four whole days before I leave the country with a team I'm leading, so I was looking for something to stave off the boredom) and was startled by this prayer I'd written: "God, I want to close the gap between me and You."

Me? Close that infinite gap between a holy God and a depraved sinner? What was I thinking?

Granted, it was nearly ten years ago, and I suppose I ought to cut myself some slack for that lousy theology. What shocks me is not that I thought that way or lived that way -- I know that was the case, and I thank God every time I think about how He's rescued me from the dark weariness of striving to make Him like me. What shocks me is that I wrote that down and didn't even recognize that it was the opposite of the Gospel -- a Gospel I thought I'd embraced but clearly didn't understand.

All that to say, it challenges me -- first, to examine my own heart, and second, to examine what I teach, whether by word or by example, to make sure that any challenge to righteous living or obedience or godly standards is never presented without the why (because of love and for His glory) and the how (by His grace). Otherwise I'm just adding to a load that was never intended to be borne the way we tend to bear it because it was already carried with the cross and when He said "It is finished!" it really was.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poem In My Pocket

It's Poem In Your Pocket Day -- apparently the 8th annual, but last year was my first. No time to scribble one down today so it's in snapshots on my phone, which is in my pocket, and I guess that's the next best thing. And here 'tis:

The Invitation
George Herbert

Come ye hither all, whose taste
Is your waste;
Save your cost, and mend your fare.
God is here prepar’d and drest,
And the feast,
God, in whom all dainties are.

Come ye hither all, whom wine
Doth define,
Naming you not to your good:
Weep what ye have drunk amisse,
And drink this,
Which before ye drink is bloud.

Come ye hither all, whom pain
Doth arraigne,
Bringing all your sinnes to sight:
Taste and fear not: God is here
In this cheer,
And on sinne doth cast the fright.

Come ye hither all, whom joy
Doth destroy,
While ye graze without your bounds:
Here is joy that drowneth quite
Your delight,
As a floud the lower grounds.

Come ye hither all, whose love
Is your dove,
And exalts you to the skie:
Here is love, which having breath
Ev’n in death,
After death can never die.

Lord I have invited all,
And I shall
Still invite, still call to thee:
For it seems but just and right
In my sight,
Where is all, there all should be

I'm not all about transubstantiation, by the way -- or alternative spelling, for that matter -- but I am all about God being all, for all. Thanks, George.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Happiness is...

...a pocketful of almonds.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happiness is...

...hammocking in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

Especially when it follows some good Food-n-Fellowship (including an Easter egg hunt in which I decided to make a tradition of hunting violets instead).
Speaking of violets, the day after bemoaning their absence I found one! I was dashing back and forth cleaning up our community lunch so could only pause to cry "There you are!", snatch her up, and slip her into my Bible for safekeeping (as it happens, right next to God saying, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it").

And here are Violets #2, 3, 4, & 5...

...and #s 6-15...

...and Karina sniffing #16.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I woke up Saturday morning to the sound of a mourning dove outside my open window and the news that my friends in Sudan were safe.

This morning, celebrating the Resurrection was all the more meaningful after the darkness of that good Friday. As I listened to the familiar story of the prodigal, I wanted to raise my hands and say "That's me!" I was dead, but I'm alive again; I was lost, but now I'm found.

Then this afternoon: more bad news, as a dear friend who's become my little sister shared the troubling report of her fiance's health concerns. For some reason I thought that after Friday there would be no more blood tests or frightening unknowns, no more wars or rumors of wars.

He's alive, and because of him so are we, but this world isn't our home; it's groaning for redemption. I won't bother trying to explain what I mean, since we sang about it this morning:

Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me,
I cannot proclaim it well.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Then clothed in blood-washed linen,
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace!
- Robert Robinson, "Come Thou Fount"

He's risen indeed. Come, Lord Jesus!

It was a good Friday.

A friend of mine left Friday morning to attend a funeral in his hometown.

Over lunch, a friend of mine shared the struggle of realizing that her father is dying.

In the afternoon, I grieved with another friend over the loss of a dear, close relative.

Then I discovered that a good friend was being held at gunpoint in Sudan. She is one of my heroes for pursuing a childhood dream of starting a medical clinic near the Darfur region. A group of militants took over their compound and held the workers and patients hostage. As I prayed for their deliverance, I remembered her telling me years ago that she would consider it a privilege to lose her life while serving in Africa.

That evening as a group of us enjoyed the spring weather, coffee, and conversation on a café patio, someone mentioned that a man she'd known for years had recently commit suicide.

In the parking lot as we were leaving, someone else got a phone call. Her "Oh no!" was alarming, but before we could find out what had happened a woman pulled up. She asked us for directions and lisped out her story through a broken jaw: she was in an abusive relationship, she told us, and was on her way to meet the creep so the police could catch him. She was bruised and nervous, but what struck me most was the pink baby carrier buckled into the backseat.

When she left, we learned the source of my friend's "Oh no": her sister's friend, a single mother of four, had lost her little boy. He'd been abducted, horribly molested, and killed.

By now the day had gotten a bit surreal. What's more, I kept checking for updates but still had no news from Sudan.

That morning I'd led a worship service focused on the weight and wonder of the cross. One of the aspects we meditated on was how Jesus was falsely accused at his trial and did not defend himself; we, on the other hand, are truly guilty but try to justify our crime. And he took the punishment while we go free.

As Friday progressed another friend of mine kept those of us in his social network updated on the events of that day in history. "By now he had been betrayed and humanity was putting God on trial. It was a good Friday," he tweeted. He continued throughout the day as Jesus was questioned and the crowds chose a criminal over him. And then: "Now the entire weight of wrath fell on him. Not some or part, but all. God was killing his Son. But it was a good Friday."

We are badly, badly broken. We're so unworthy of the cross -- but oh, how we need it.