mercury

mercury. n. also known as quicksilver.
fickle, erratic, liable to sudden unpredictable change.

God knows, I am dissonance,
uneven, untamed, unsure
of the ground beneath me
it shakes with the weight
of the world
and I cannot catch up
with my own breath.
thoughts teem within me
I talk in circles
can you hear me?
(if you could
would you listen?)
this middle ground
is waging war against my soul.
I cannot even tell myself
where I will go next.
life swirls in a galaxy
and all I can see is
the space between
and all I can know is I’m
waiting to be swiftly pulled into tune.

 

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Martha, Martha

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But the Lord answered her,

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Martha.  Martha.  I love you.
You are worried, troubled, riddled with anxiety about meaningless things.  Chasing after control over sand that will fall through your fingers.  Trivial things.  Believe me, none of that matters.  In your heart you know this.  Trust me now!
Only one thing matters.
Me.
Come to me, Martha!  Taste this sweet surrender.  This freedom and grace you can never lose.  You are mine forever!  All your sin, all your strivings and fear, everything that separates you from the Father, all of it means nothing when you understand what I am here to do for you.  If only you knew now the depth of my love for you!
Believe in me now, my Martha.
I am the good portion which will never be taken away from you.  Choose me.  Chase after me.
Abandon your worries.  I am peace and purity and justice, and I want you in my arms.  I alone am Lord.  I alone am worth your worship.  Come to me.

umm…

Remember when I said I was going to start posting twice a week?  About that…

When our plans become casualties of getting through the day, we begin to know our weakness,” sings Will Reagan in the United Pursuit song “Looking for a Savior.”  I know exactly what he means.  My blogging plans have been pushed aside in favor of school, work, dance, socializing, sanity.

Why have I not blogged?

I have no great inspiration and no time to come up with great inspiration.

In short, I don’t think I’ll be doing the biweekly posting thing.  I’m sorry to everyone who signed up anticipating great posts twice a week.  I’m sorry to my family who wants to hear from me.  Whoops.  I am weak.

Summer is here, and that means one of two things: 1) I’ll actually get a blog post in every week or so, or 2) I will have no time to write.  So bear with me.  Please keep following me.  (Or don’t.  I need to learn to not care as much about my follower count.)

Instead of trying to cram in writing, what if this summer I am intentional about being with people and forging meaningful relationships?  Writing is great.  Blogging can be encouraging for others.  But as much as I am an introvert, I am a people person.  My life has been changed by the people and events around me.  I want to be a force for change in the people I care about.  God is very good and very kind, and I want to be like him.

Kudos to everyone who blogs regularly.  That is a considerable feat as it turns out.  Maybe someday I’ll come back to it.

Is this a goodbye post?  I don’t know.  Let’s see.

book review: Nothing to Prove

It is too easy to get just so tired of life. Rushing from place to place, spending time with people, performing, performing, performing. It’s exhausting!

image

I picked up the book Nothing to Prove because it had a neat cover and I recognized the author (Jennie Allen is the founder of IF:Gathering).  I had no idea how much I would benefit from reading this book!  Honestly, it has changed my perspective of grace.

Jennie Allen lays out how the gospel redefines our lives and how we can find freedom in knowing that our debt is paid.  The book starts with a focus on us, on our need, our lack, how we simply can’t measure up.  I know it’s not just me who comes away from everything I do with “Wow, I was not good enough.”

Listen, we are not good enough.  It’s a fact of life.  We just aren’t.  But that’s how grace works.  If we were good enough for God, we wouldn’t need Jesus!  But as it is, we fall incredibly short of God’s standards — which means that his mercy is that much more incredible!

Jennie Allen unpacks the streams of God’s goodness. Our striving, our tiredness, our fear, our shame — God offers rest and protection.  He offers a cause to fight for.  He offers a deep relationship with himself.  He is more than enough for us.  If only we would let go of trying to measure up!

I loved this book so much.  It’s not that long, but it took me a while to get through because it’s the kind of book you need to take time to digest.  In fact, after every chapter is something Jennie calls an “experience guide”: a Bible verse to meditate on, some questions to ponder, maybe a journaling prompt, and a way to take action with others.

I love to annotate, and I found myself underlining and starring something in just about every paragraph.  Let me share a few quotes I love:

“God is not after great performances or great movements.  He is after us!” (p.33)

“What if we stopped doing things for God and started doing them with God?  When we make that shift, we will be different.  Because when we are with Him, we see Him for who He is and He changes us.  This is a journey into greater faith.” (p. 41)

“We are called to walk on water — and to do so boldly DESPITE OUR FEARS.  Jesus isn’t scolding us for being afraid; He is calling us out of our comfortable boats to do something unthinkable, something that is possible only with His power.” (p. 155)

“We began this journey clear that there is an enemy trying to take us out.  But we end in a different place.  We don’t need focused on an enemy or even focused on ourselves.  We end focused on our God.  Who he is frees us; who He is flows in and through us and changes everything.” (p. 232)

Overall, I highly recommend this book, and even though it’s just for women, I say you guys should take a shot at it.  Ten out of ten, people.  (Plus the cover looks really neat.)  I will definitely be reading it again… and again.

Buy the book here, or read more about the author.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  Honestly, I really recommend this service if you have a blog (or another such platform) on which to share a book review! Free books in return for telling other people about them?  Yes please.

 

moving hearts

Moving is a difficult thing.  Sometimes you move to a different house in the same city, or to a nearby city, but sometimes you move across the country — or across the world.  No matter what, moving means change.

Friendships change, people change, and I change.

This is something I had to learn young.  When I was seven, we moved from Maryland to Ohio.  And inevitably, ties with my MD friends were weakened and severed.  Suddenly I had half a dozen long-distance friendships, which were slowly replaced by new friendships here in Ohio.  I’m still dealing with some pain from that, but at the time, it was okay.  The church here was so welcoming.  I was young and eager to make friends.  In fact, I believe I have made some lifelong friends in my time here.  (But who knows?)

When we moved to Kentucky for half a year when I was twelve, things changed once again.  We were thrust into a necessarily tight community of men (and their families) coming to learn how to be pastors in an intensive school year.  We only had seven months together, none of us knew many people in our new city, and we became something like family in that short time.

And when we came back to OH, again change was waiting, because everyone here had not waited for us to come back but had continued in their lives.  We had to adjust, knowing that we would probably never see many of our KY friends again, and had to throw ourselves back into the routine of Ohio church, school, weather, relationships.  To this day, I am hardly ever in contact with most of the people from MD and KY.  And that’s something I’ve had to accept.  It’s so hard.  I am a fiercely loyal person by nature, and I want to hang onto relationships as long as I possibly can, and when I can’t, something inside me changes.  I have had to learn that very few friendships stand the test of time.  I know that’s a lesson learned naturally in life — it just feels like moving was the accelerated course.

Places change and grow in my memory.  As years pass, I remember more little random details about my childhood in MD.  I remember the boardwalks, the ocean, the rhododendrons, the afternoon walks, the carpet in our house, the dandelions, the shopping trips.  These are sweet memories, and I long to visit MD again, but I know that being with the people won’t bring the memories back.  In fact, someday I want to go back with some of my new friends and not tell any of my old friends.  I want to go to the ocean just to see it again.  I’ll make entirely new memories.  I’ll see the Chesapeake Bay again and have ice cream and wade in the salty waves.  And while I’m at it, I’ll visit Kentucky too.  I’ll go to church and peek at my old backyard and take a bike ride and visit Churchill Downs once more.  (yes, it’s important to see my old friends again, and I love doing that! but not in this scenario.)

Sometimes I can get so caught up in the memories, the sadness.  I MISS EVERYTHING SO MUCH!  But I know that because of the hardships of moving, of having few real friends every time, of leaving people behind, of forgetting things, I have gotten stronger.  I’ve learned how to say goodbye, and I’ve learned how to treasure where I am.  And I’ve been given unique friendships with people who have moved as well.  Yes, I have known loneliness and pain.  But those are pretty essential things to know as a human.  I’d say God knew what he was doing when he moved my heart around!

Not everything lasts forever.  But we can learn some amazing things when seasons change.  Unlike the constantly shifting winds of this world, our God is UNCHANGING!  And he is transforming us from glory to glory!

bell jar

there is a glory
so brilliant
it eclipses your darkened sight,
so pure
it floods your mind with peace,
so good
it makes your heart feel at home,
so fresh
it sends a breeze through your thoughts,
so sharp
it slices through your bell jar.

the birth of Christ

Read Luke 2:1-21 here.

A story most of us have heard for years… What if we try to see it in a new light?
Starting at the beginning.

So it’s been a little over 400 years since the last recorded sign from God. Messiah has not come. Maybe many people have given up hope and secretly think he will never come.
The Greeks have come and gone, and now the Roman Empire is steadily taking over. Herod is placed over the Jews to manage them for Caesar. In the past four centuries, history has been moving without the people of Israel: Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, and Spartacus have lived and died. Perhaps the Jews are aware of the events happening around them. Then again, for the past nine months they’ve been unaware of the GREATER history growing among their people!

Then, Octavian (Caesar Augustus) orders a census to see how much he’s controlling. People are switching towns. Inns get a lot of business. Roads are full. Days of travel in both heat and cold. A young couple finds themselves in Bethlehem and all the inns are crammed full. One innkeeper is gracious and lets them have his stable for the night. Stalls full of horses, maybe some belonging to Roman soldiers. A couple cows. Probably there are quite a few lambs for sacrifice.
Of course, some of those sacrifices are just going to be ceremonial. Where has God been the last four hundred years anyway? he hasn’t spoken up. Will he care if they move on from religion?

Some shepherds are on a nearby hill with their sheep for the night. They are thieves and criminals, and this is basically the only job they are seen as good for. As dew descends, they settle in for a long night of watching the sheep in their pens. They’ve gotten used to living together. No one else pays attention to them, and they’re learning to be okay with that. It’s just the way the world works.

And then suddenly a blinding light appears in the sky! What is happening?? No natural phenomenon can explain a brilliant sun at midnight! not only light but color! Sounds! GLORY all around them! And in the middle, a massive, majestic angel of God. So God is real! Here he is, speaking to His chosen people through an angel! Doubts flee in the face of his glory. And the shepherds know that even if this glory was not meant for them to see (the angel is obviously in the wrong place), at least they have seen it, and it has changed their lives. They know. They know God is real. They know of his majesty and kindness. He has appeared to man!
And it is terrifying. Blinding, swirling, trumpeting light. Who can stand before the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob? The shepherds fall to their knees and cover their eyes, unable to look at the glory, all thoughts of sheep thrust from their mind.

Then the angel speaks: DO NOT BE AFRAID.
Immediately the shepherds realize two things:
• the angel is speaking to them. This is not a drill or a mistake!
• they need not be afraid, God is on their side. Not only is his glory amazing, but it is also good.

and then with ears that can barely take it in, they hear words they can’t register fast enough: Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the LORD.
THE MESSIAH! the Messiah is coming! Tonight! On a night overrun by people obeying the Roman Caesar, the Messiah has arrived.
Did they understand he would deliver them from more than Rome? “Great joy for all the people.” His kingdom lasts forever!

Then before they even know what’s happening, the sun multiplies into thousands of suns! THOUSANDS of angels, singing the most beautiful song creation has ever heard:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests!

Their song seems to go on forever and at once seems too short. Time stands completely still, for time is not a thing God is limited by, and heaven opens to the shepherds for eternity until the angels depart.

The shepherds stand in shock until they remember the things the first angel said. Look for a baby in a manger, a feeding trough! So they move. This is the Messiah! Among the horses and lambs and cattle they find two exhausted young people. A young teen girl who has just given birth for the first time. Her protective betrothed, who sits a respectful distance away while gazing adoringly at the baby in the girl’s arms. The baby is unremarkable, not particularly cute as far as newborns go, but they know who he is. He is God with us. All of a sudden he is glorious, not just a crying, red baby!

it is well

This is from the hymn “It Is Well With My Soul,” my dad’s favorite hymn of all time — and probably mine, too.  Read these lines and scriptures carefully.  Let them marinate in your heart.  Think about them.  Chew on them.  God is good!

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Psalm 4:8 says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  The Lord reigns; let his people be glad in him!  True joy depends not on the swiftly changing circumstances of this world but on our God: and our God never changes!  Under his wings is the refreshing shade of peace and calm.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Job 22:21 says, “Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.”  Know that the Lord is God; his ways are higher than our own.  Rest in his true goodness and sovereign wisdom!

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Ephesians 6:15 calls this “the gospel of peace.”  Oh the peace that comes when one realizes that their sin is not their responsibility anymore — that despite all they have done, God has redeemed them for himself!  This is peace beyond that tranquility of the mind; this is peace of the eternal soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Isaiah 9:6 says Christ is the PRINCE OF PEACE.  Imagine being able to honestly say, “it is well with my soul.”  How deep this peace reaches, to the depths of the heart, mind, and body, when circumstances demand anything but peace!  But no, we have wellness beyond this world’s understanding.  It is all because of Jesus that we have peace in the Lord, that we can stand before God on the last day and rejoice in his victory!

soulmate

She looked down at her wrist, as she did so many times each day, hoping to see something different. One year, 1 day, 35 minutes, 2 seconds. She was going to celebrate her 83rd birthday tomorrow.

Why was she supposed to take so long?  One would think that she’d be used to the idea by now. She’d known since she was a little girl that she wouldn’t meet her soulmate until she was eighty-four. That didn’t make it better. She was doomed since birth for some deep loneliness that friends couldn’t fill.  Now that she was nearly eighty-three, she found herself looking at her clock more than ever with a kind of restless excitement.

Continue reading “soulmate”

what is man?

the stars are carried in the hands of the Almighty Lord, expanding and contracting, full of intense heat and intense cold, stretching across our sky in colors beyond our imagination.

the comets streaking across the sky are guided by our God, set upon their course before time was created, brilliant balls of fire and ice hurtling through space, brushstrokes of light across the starry horizon.

the clouds, the stars, the sun, the moon, the galaxies, the auroras — all tell us of God’s glory and majesty.  When we look at the heavens, the skies display the work that God has intricately, carefully, beautifully done with his own hands.

and there’s you.

there’s you, standing under the stars, marveling at the sprinklings of light that have taken thousands of years to reach you, worrying about tomorrow.

what is man, that the Lord would love him?

please, please know that against all odds, against all expectations, you are loved with a love that lasts beyond time’s boundaries.  The one who guides meteors across the sky is our God, who is on the throne, who has claimed you as his own!

“To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.”  
Deuteronomy 10:14-15