Monday, April 21, 2014

Playdates with God: Be With

It's the day after the stone was rolled away, a day after the earthquake and I still hear that question ringing in my ears: Why do you look for the living among the dead? And I keep asking myself the same –why do I keep looking for Jesus in all the wrong places? When I know he lives in me, that in these hands –in this tired body—is the power of the resurrection? Still, I look everywhere else for new life instead of slowing to hear that still, small voice inside of me.

Holy week did not feel so holy what with a new puppy running around, Easter dinner to plan, and a couple extra projects I took on over spring break. What was I thinking? I questioned myself as I rolled a third coat of crisp white paint on the walls of the downstairs bathroom. Everything takes longer than I think it should and I swallow guilt with each stroke—regret for spending my boys' spring break inhaling paint fumes instead of doing something fun with them.

There are too many things that need doing and too little time for the doing. I'm always behind and left feeling overwhelmed and lonely because of these things I take on. They are all good things but they are not necessarily the life-giving things—the things that awaken my soul and open my eyes to Jesus.

This morning in my study time I read about the calling of the twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1-4). The author of the commentary that companions me points out that the twelve were chosen to be with Jesus. “If they were to do his work in the world, they must live in his presence before they went out to the world; they must go from the presence of Jesus into the presence of men and women ...” We get so caught up in the busy-ness of life, he says, that, “... we are in danger of forgetting that none of these things matters, if it carried on by people who have not been with Christ before they have been with others.”

This must be the first thing. Be with Jesus.

Holy week felt rushed and littered with too many responsibilities.But isn't every week holy? And this is the grace of our Lord: every day a new beginning.

In this moment, I will choose to be with Jesus.

How do you slow to hear the still, small voice?

The winner of the Spiritual Misfit giveaway is Kel Rohlf! Congratulations, Kel, I'll be in touch.

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

May the light of the resurrection break into your everyday moments today. Over and over again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

One Thousand Unwritten Poems, Sleeping (poem)

one thousand
unwritten poems sleep
in my bed—
your hands, your eyes,
the curve of
your shoulder …

the redbud is
blooming on the
hills, blossoming
the hollowed out
places; filling all
that is empty with

my breath is pale
in the night; I am
not good at being
hunted, and worse,
still, at the sport.
let's hide here
a while.

I will not forget.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Michelle DeRusha's Spiritual Misfit (and a giveaway!)

Michelle DeRusha opens up her book Spiritual Misfit: A Memoir of Uneasy Faith with the story of the necklace she stole from a classmate in the third grade. She never wore the necklace for fear of getting caught, but how it tormented her, this sin.

"Regret rushed in almost instantly. The thrilling high of the conquest crashed into gut-wrenching fear. Aware of its weight all day in my pocket, I passed up my usual penny drops on the junglegym at recess for fear the necklace would plunk into the sand as I swung by my knees. Later I dashed to the girls' room and perched on the toilet with the gem balanced on my thigh. I thought seriously about flushing my loot but worried it would plug up the system. Plus, I realized that wouldn't solve the real problem anyway, the whole rotting-in-hell dilemma. A simple flush would not hide my sin from the all-seeing eyes of God."

This first glimpse we get of DeRusha's complicated faith journey is the kind of storytelling we are treated to in Spiritual Misfit. Raised Catholic, the author shares stories of wrestling with guilt and doubt and how this eventually opened a door to a deeper relationship with God. She writes with transparency and humor about some of the feelings we've all had when trying to live out our own faith.

Spiritual Misfit is an important book. It not only addresses the myth of the one-faith-fits-all, it helps us see how doubt and faith can coexist. We leave Michelle's story with the affirmation that God is big enough to handle our questions—even the ones that don't have a clear-cut black-and-white kind of answer.

I laughed out loud and was brought to tears at Derusha's skillful storytelling and her witty way with words. I think you will too. It's a well-crafted manuscript with a message we all need reminded of.

Spiritual Misfit releases today and I'm excited to offer one book for giveaway here! Just leave a comment by Sunday evening (that's Easter night!) for a chance to win and I'll announce the winner in Monday's Playdates with God post. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Playdates with God: Smitten

We drove over 300 miles—one way—to pick up a little three pound package that would steal our hearts.We drove until the hills flattened out, through lands of patchwork quilt-like barns, where hawks glide in circles over nubby cornfields and red-winged blackbirds gawk from atop road signs. We drove to puppy breath and plump belly and sharp little teeth that nibble ears.

And it seems crazy right now, in the midst of this busy life, to take on a living breathing responsibility; but as Jeff said, “I haven't been so excited about something for a long time.” There's never really a perfect time to fall in love, what with all the sacrifice that comes with it. But the house feels more like home again now that this little one is with us, and we smile more easily these past few days. My pockets are filled with training treats and we have stocked up on the carpet cleaner. Life will be even more complicated for a little while.

But it will be sweeter too.

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us: 

The Playdates button:

Friday, April 11, 2014


The birds sing the heartiest before the sun lifts above the blue line of the horizon, right outside my bedroom window. And to awaken to birdsong is to awaken to wonder—wild, sweet notes pealing through the dark. Hope opens like a flower unfolding in the sun. Every year I forget this—how spring shifts the heart, how the stone is rolled away.

Yesterday evening I prepared my little garden for planting—tilling in a new layer of topsoil, breaking up chunks of earth with my fingers. I have broccoli and onions, some different varieties of lettuce, and kale, all ready to be covered over with a blanket of soil—put to sleep in preparation for a new awakening.

Every spring, I am the seed. It is the painful breaking open, the reaching through the dark that yields the fruit that feeds, after all. But this morning, I look out over the meadow behind our home and see how it has flowered. The seeds the birds have dropped over the years have grown into a lovely orchard of pear trees, all frocked out in lacy blossoms. I remember a time when the meadow was mostly grasses—well-kept with only a couple apple trees, three pear trees, and that prickly chestnut. Time and neglect have made her a new place, and the meadow is flushed out with brush and thistle now; hints of last year's wildflowers whispering against young saplings. The goats have made some progress around the perimeter, but her midsection is still a wild place.

This morning that wildness sings to me and I am taken by the way the pinky-white blossoms break up the twiggy undergrowth and weave beauty through the monotony.

This morning I look out over the meadow behind our home and see that this spring I am the blossom. I am this fragile, translucent beauty that takes wing with the wind—carrying the memory of the breaking open in my skin, leaving behind a sweet perfume and the promise of plump fruit.

Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
to spring.
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship.

--Julian of Norwich

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


This morning I read the story of Jairus's daughter—how Jesus restores her life—and these words take the breath right out of me:

“He took her by the hand and said, 'My child, get up!'”

He told the mourners not to fear, that she was only sleeping. When I read these words I am filled by the ways he keeps awakening my sleeping heart, opening my sightless eyes. This is more than compassion. This is resurrection. How many times has he taken me by the hand and said, “My child, get up!”?

This weekend at the Refine Retreat I told Christine, “I didn't realize how tired I was until I arrived here. And suddenly, it's like a deep breath. I can rest.”

It reminds me of something I read recently in Mark Buchanan's book The Rest of God:

“A curious thing about restoration is that it doesn't need doing. Strictly speaking, life carries on without it. Restoration is an invasion of sorts. It's fixing something that's broken, but broken so long it's almost mended. This man, this woman—they've already adapted to their misfortunes, made all the necessary adjustments. Restoration meddles with what they've learned to handle, removes what they've learned to live with, bestows what they've learned to live without ...These people are doing fine just the way they are. They've learned to live this way. They've almost accepted it. They've taught themselves tricks to bypass it, to contain it. To utilize it, even. They've built lives around not being whole …”

When I don't slow myself to rest, this is what I am doing—building my life around not being whole. I walk around, dead—surrounded by mourners, flutes playing, wailers lamenting. And it feels normal. It feels ok. How long have I carried this tired inside of me?

But Jesus touches my hand. “She is only sleeping,” he says.

“What if the real blessing when we rest is not what we receive but what we give?” Teri Lynne asked us this weekend. And it's true. I have not been able to give freely, to love with my heart wide open. Things have been too hard, I've been moving too fast for Jesus to take my hand and rouse my spirit.

Resurrection.That is what I received this weekend. When I returned to my little valley home, all the fruit trees were in full bloom. I drove through my familiar with new eyes.

Spring had come while I was sleeping. And waking up had never been so sweet.