What I’ve Been Reading

A couple weeks ago I posted on Facebook that I had been reading too many serious non-fiction books and I needed some lighter fiction to read on vacation.  People weighed in with some great suggestions and although I am a slooow reader I took them up on several and thought I’d report back.  So here’s some fiction and a couple of terrific non-fiction books you might want to check out.

Maisie DobbsThis was an engaging read that takes place just after World War 1 in London. Maisie Dobbs, a detective, is like a female version of the PBS series “Foyle’s War”. I love the setting and the period in history and found the historical information on WW1 and its aftermath to be sobering. A cool mystery.

The Invention of Wings. People have been recommending this to me for years, but because of some vague recollection of something I read previously by the author that I didn’t like, I’ve resisted. My loss. This book chronicles parallel lives, based on a real woman of privilege in early 1800’s Charleston S.C., and her slave girl (close in age). It is beautifully written, engrossing and enlightening.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  Quirky, different, and a quick, read. This is the story of a young widower on Alice Island in New England who runs a book store and discovers a toddler left to his care. It’s a bittersweet story of love and loss and choices that change us. I always want inspiring and uplifting endings and didn’t really get it here.

SkiosMy friend, Joanne is a voracious reader with much broader taste in books than mine (Read: she’s smarter and more literary). If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should. I got this suggestion from her, but I’m not crazy about farce or mistaken identity so I probably should have given this one a pass. It’s about a man (who I pictured looking like Hugh Grant) assuming the identity of a visiting lecturer at a gathering uber-rich folks on a Greek island and the mishaps that ensue. For me it was alternately entertaining, ridiculous, frustrating and tiring waiting for all the story lines to finally converge.

All the Places to Go (How will you Know?)  John Ortberg has impacted my spiritual journey more than any other.  This new book, about open doors and discerning God’s will, is immensely readable and relevant, filled with John’s delightful humor. He has great insights about biblical characters as always. Most of my copy is underlined. Highly recommend!

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My husband, John, read The Boys in the Boat and LOVED it, so that’s what I’m reading now. Also, check out my friend Matt’s post on what he learned from The Boys in the Boat.

One last thing…I don’t know if I’m the only one, but the change of seasons really affects my appetite.  Blustery fall days with crimson leaves make me want to make soup. Lovely spring days like we’ve been having lately make me want to bake cookies. Similarly I find my appetite for God’s Word can change with the seasons of my life. Lately I’ve been ravenous, gobbling up Scripture like someone gobbling up chocolate after Lent.

I’ve written here before about how I like to mix up what I do for devotions, but one constant this year is a “Bible in One Year” reading plan through the YouVersion online. The one I’m using was created by Nikki Gumbel who started Alpha. I love it because his commentary identifies a unifying theme each day. I have found this particular discipline so valuable and strengthening. I have grown in my love of God’s Word and amazement at His care for every detail of our lives.

Now it’s your turn! What have you been reading that’s engaging, inspiring, uplifting??

 

What to do With all the Big Feelings

I’ve shared before that the emotional trajectory of any given day (or hour) of my life can look a little like this.

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Even if this isn’t your norm, perhaps there has been a day or two…

It seems that lately, many people around me have been facing circumstances that have thrown them for a loop even if usually their emotional life looks more like a merry-go-round than a monster roller coaster. So what do you do with all the Big Feelings?

One of the things I love about Scripture is that it’s so authentic, that often I may be experiencing something or feeling an emotion and one of the Bible people seems to jump off the pages and say “Me too!”

The community of young married couples I shepherd has started a study of David. I’m thinking David might have been a roller coaster kind of guy – a musician, shepherd, warrior, leader, and writer… As part of our study, this week we have agreed to read a Psalm written by David every day, starting with Psalm 3.

I love the Psalms because I feel kind of like a voyeur, peaking over someone’s shoulder, reading their journal.  The Psalms are just so dang real!

The Psalms are FULL of All Of The Big Feelings.

Can you say drama???

But the great thing is that the Psalms model how to deal with that drama.

Religiosity may say stuff or deny – don’t admit the messy feelings.

Secularism may say emotion is god – it rules all.

But the Psalms give us a third way to deal with our emotions. In the Psalms we see that we shouldn’t be necessarily celebrating our emotions, or bowing down to them, denying or venting them indiscriminately.

The Psalms give us an example of praying the Big Feelings – pouring them out and processing them with God.

In addition to praying Scripture, whether the Psalms or other books, I try to ask :

  • What can I learn about God?
  • What can I learn about the person I’m reading about? (positive or negative examples)
  • What truths can I apply to myself?

So…Here’s what I see in Psalm 3…

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But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the one who lifts my head high. v.3

David – 

He prays his fears.

He’s brutally honest – this is not how he “should” pray. He asks for retribution for his enemies (not a model to follow :), but reassuring that God is a safe place).

He reminds himself where his “glory” lies – not in temporary things, but in God. He seeks God’s approval, not the world’s.

“The single most characteristic thing about David is God… The largest part of David’s existence wasn’t David but God” Eugene Peterson

Me – 

Where is my “glory” today? Who or what am I looking to to be my shield and the one who lifts my head?

If the heart of my identity is in God’s approval I will be secure.

This morning I read Psalm 5.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;

So what about you? Share some thoughts about your time in God’s Word?

An Open Letter: 5 Things to Consider When Seeking God’s Direction

Dear M&A,

It’s hard to believe you’re coming up on your second anniversary!  In those short years you’ve faced many hard decisions, huge change, and intense challenges. Now, at the end of grad school, you face some more. More open doors and some that may shut. All with their own set of consequences.

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I’m writing you this now because Dad and I have been where you are. And I’m writing it here because you’re not alone. Many who read this are trying to discern God’s will – trying to decide:

  • Should I quit this job?
  • Move to this place?
  • Marry this person?
  • Break up with that person?
  • Start a graduate degree?
  • Take this risk?

So today I want to tell you about a time early in our marriage when we were trying to discern God’s will. We felt like we had outgrown the setting we were in and were prompted to open ourselves to a move. We prayed, sought counsel, and explored options.  In the end Dad received a call to a large church across the country in a place where we knew no one. In a place with a different pace of life, different culture, and different values.

In both the process of deciding, and the reality of living the following two years, I think we learned some things about God and His ways. I’d love to share some of our lessons, just as I’d love to hear what you are learning in this season.

1.  God’s will isn’t some ONE hidden secret icon that He’s trying to make difficult to discover and if you get it wrong it will be like a disaster scene out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

And if somehow you get off-track, we have a God who is in the business of redeeming. The God of infinity chances.

2. Sometimes you just need to ask, “What would be the most pleasing choice to you, Lord?” and decide. I love what Luke writes in Acts 15:28 when the apostles were making hard decisions for the young Jesus-following community:

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…

God didn’t speak through a megaphone, but the apostles prayed and listened and made the choice that seemed good. When we moved to D.C. nothing was totally clear, but it seemed like a God-honoring choice.

3. If you are married, God won’t lead one of you to one conclusion and your spouse to another. Pray and listen until you are united – both on the same page.

4. God’s main will for you is the person you become, not what you do or where you go or what title you have.

God’s primary will for your life is that you become a person of excellent character – one who loves Him and others with increasing devotion.

5.  Just because it’s God’s will doesn’t mean circumstances will be easy. (I know…Not exactly what you wanted to hear, right?) This one threw me for a loop. Not that I thought life would be easy (exactly) if we were responding to God’s “Go!”, but when we moved to D.C. EVERYTHING was so hard it caused us to question at the time, “Lord, did we miss the memo?  Did we get this wrong? Were we blinded by pride and the thought of bigger and better?”

“When God calls people to go through open doors, what generally happens is life gets much harder. Abraham leaves home and faces uncertainty and danger. Moses has to confront Pharaoh and endure endless whining from his own people. Elijah runs away from a power-crazed queen. Esther has to risk her life to prevent genocide…” John Ortberg

When we moved I was 8 months pregnant with you, Maggie, and had Katy who was 19 months old. We were moving away from family for the first time, to the place with the highest cost of living in the nation. No money. No community. There were no moms in our neighborhood. And Dad was feeling like a square peg in a round hole in his job.  I (dramatically) felt like an Israelite in the wilderness.

But here’s the thing…Even if we made a mistake, God redeemed the time and grew us in ways we might not have grown elsewhere. And even though the circumstances never got better we experienced God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficulty. He knit us together in deeper love for Him and for each other in our little family.

You’ve already faced hard decisions, and we’ve marveled at your wisdom in drawing together your community of Jesus-followers to pray with and for you. We’re part of that community and we’re cheering you on as you enter this new season together.

love,

Mom (and Dad :))

What decisions are the rest of you facing?

We Need More of This

The other day, John and I walked into the Apple store right at opening.  This is what greeted us.

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It’s not a great picture, but all the staff (all 30 or whatever of them) lined up and CHEERED us in, clapping and woohooing!

Now cynics may be mumbling “Bah humbug! Marketing…” but not me.  It didn’t matter that the employees who were cheering  didn’t know us.  To me they were saying we’re in this together and we’ve made it through another day and night and we’re still here. We all deserve a cheer.

We need more parades, more “atta boy’s” and “atta girl’s”.

As I write these posts I try to think of you who are reading on the other side of the screen…

You’re starting a new business, a new graduate degree, a new job, or anticipating a new baby and the future is full of uncertainty about finances and all of the things.

You’re a young mom who can’t remember the last time she had a full night’s sleep or a moment alone, or a shirt without spit up on it and you’re struggling with every fiber of your being Not. To. Lose. It.

You are fighting cancer, or addiction, or anorexia and you’re begging God for strength and healing.

You’ve experienced betrayal or rejection or loss and you’re desperate for the power to forgive and know you are always loved and valued by God.

You’re stuck or floundering or overworked and you long for direction or rest.

Or maybe it’s just been another ordinary week where you’ve put one foot in front of the other.

And for many, perhaps your most eloquent prayer has been “Helpmehelpmehelpme!”

You’ve made it to the end of another week. You’ve had your less than stellar moments, sure, but you’ve also had moments of bravery and patience, and kindness.  You’ve persevered.

So high five and “way to go!” You deserve to be celebrated!

This week we’re in Florida and every morning as I bike to Starbucks I pass this little old lady who is practically engulfed by the HUGE neon yellow safety vest she’s wearing. She carries her coffee, and she takes the teensy tiniest steps you can imagine, but there she is in the walker’s lane of the road, and I want to throw her a party! She just keeps going, not “despising the day of small things” (Zech 4:10)

If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, shuffle. If you can’t shuffle, crawl. Just keep moving. I’m cheering you on today. But more importantly, God is.

Let those on the hunt for You sing and celebrate. Let all who love your saving way say over and over, “God is mighty!” Psalm 70:4

 

Soul Detox, part 2

Monday I posted on the challenge of of soul detox and specifically, the impact of social media.  For some of you this isn’t relevant and you can stop reading, but many are asking things like:

  • If a tree falls in the forest and no one posts about it has it still fallen ?
  • If I don’t post pictures of all my child’s “firsts” do they still have a chance to get into Harvard or will they be in therapy?
  •  WWJT*
  • How many cat pictures are too many cat pictures?**

This month, Andy Crouch, the editor of Christianity Today wrote:

“The personal screen, especially with its attached and always available camera, invites us to star in our own small spectacle. As our social network chimes, blinks, and buzzes with intermittent approval, we are constantly updated on our success in gaining public affirmation. But having attracted us with the promise of approval and belonging, the personal screen can just as easily herald exclusion and hostility…”

I have wrestled with the power of social media as it affects my soul. As I’ve been thinking about this, I see at least 5 purposes for social media (and a lot of it is good!):

1.  Sharing information or resources.

2. Community connection and encouragement.

3. Mobilization of folks around a cause.

4. Self-promotion.

5. Self-promotion thinly disguised as sharing information. (See also, “humble brag”)

As a writer and a speaker wanting to reach others (hopefully FOR Jesus and in a way that honors HIM), the conventional wisdom says I have to communicate through social media.  Build a platform. Grow an audience. But whenever did Jesus go with conventional wisdom, right?

Whether your job “needs” a platform or not, social media can impact the health of your soul like sugar can affect the health of a diabetic.

When we post or scan or link or like, maybe we can ask ourselves:

In this moment is social media a tool or an idol?

  • Is this a tool that I am using in a way that will enable me to love God and others better?
  • Or is this an idol – tempting me to live out of my false self – the self that is dependent on titles and likes and comparison and promotion to be validated.

In addition to the potential toxicity, there’s also the distraction factor of social media.

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Let’s face it. We are all spiritually ADD and no amount of Ritalin is going to help. We are so bombarded with STUFF from the world that maybe cultivating some boundaries in order to focus on Jesus is a good strategy.

“Oftentimes the very things that look like opportunities are the things that later on distract us and derail us.” Michael Hyatt

I see tremendous value in social media. I just think we need to submit it, like everything, to God (which is hard!) I’m not sure the details of what’s best for me, so I’m continuing to pray. I’m asking “Lord are there boundaries of time, or sites, people, or posts that will help me love You and others better?”

“Do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time.” Greg Mckeown 

My reading this morning just “happened” to be warnings on idols from Deuteronomy. He is timely, eh? :)

“Don’t fool around with other gods, the gods of your neighbors, because God, your God, who is alive among you is a jealous God.” Deut. 6

I know this isn’t an issue for everyone, but I’m interested in hearing thoughts from those of you who have struggled in the area of social media and your soul.

*Tweet

**One is too many

Soul Detox, part 1

So, Lent is over. All of you who have been fasting from chocolate or coffee are celebrating the return of All The Good Things. The season of entering into Jesus’ experience of sacrifice and cross-carrying, to the other side of Easter is over. Dark to Light. Death to Life. Winter to Spring. Vegetables to dessert (How lame are we, right?)

I was a little late to the Lenten party (so to speak), but I shared how I was trying to be intentional about being present to Jesus during Holy Week.

Part of that meant a social media detox – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest – and also turning off the radio, because these are things I suspect can distract me from Jesus, and foster a less-than-healthy soul.

I thought it was going to be a terrible, awful, no-good, very boring week.

I was wrong.

It was an enlightening and life-giving experience.

It was kind of like switching from a 60’s black and white picture to HD TV.  I felt more aware of the pixels of life with Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, I see huge benefits to social media, but this week without it (AND without radio)…

  • I felt more at peace, not anxious with FOMO or comparison stress. I wasn’t looking to others for how I was doing.
  • I was much more present in conversation and sensitive to the needs of people around me.
  • I aware of many promptings of the Holy Spirit – promptings to question for better understanding, to reach out to someone in pain, write a note of encouragement, ask forgiveness.
  • I experienced a ongoing conversation with the Lord. Because when you’re bored…why not pray?  As I saw people I thought to pray for them.
  • It made me aware of the nonessentials that eat up my time.
  • It helped me to step back and evaluate how different social media outlets affect me differently – positive, negative, and neutral.

I read back over that list and it sounds magical. NOT. There were downsides, but it was a good soul discipline.

Social media may not be a big deal to you. I share this, not because what I do is important, but because maybe we all need to ask:

What is distracting me from loving God and others well?

Not just during Lent, but everyday.

What do you fill up on like Dove dark chocolate Easter eggs that leaves you feeling empty of what you really need and a little bit sick?

Maybe it’s information on the internet, or an abundance of alcohol, or your appearance, or shopping, t.v., or…

Are there tweaks to your soul diet that you might try? Junk food to cut back on or fast from?

After Lent, what might you say no to this week in order to make more room for Jesus?

 

 

Watching from a Distance

It’s Saturday morning. I’ve walked with Jesus and His disciples this past week.  I’ve tried to hear the noise, the shouts, the whispers, the work sounds, the shuffle of dusty feet. I’ve tried to smell the animal smells and the sweat and the anointing spices. I’ve tried to feel the heat, and uncertainty. I’ve tried to draw near and touch Jesus’ robe.

We walked into Jerusalem with excitement last Sunday, out to Bethany to eat and rest with friends, back into Jerusalem filled with stress, activity, agendas, fear, and hatred, out to Bethany to be anointed, and in for the Last Supper and Passover. Out to the Mt. of Olives for prayer, and into Jerusalem for His trial and death.

Here’s one of the things I’ve noticed. Everyone was watching.

Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over. (Mt.26:16)

Jesus asked His disciples to keep watch with Him on the Mt. of Olives. (26:38)

Peter watched from a distance when Jesus was arrested. (26:58)

Many women watched from a distance at the crucifixion. (27:55)

But one person did more than watch. He courageously drew near after Jesus had been crucified. (Mt. 27:57-61)

When a criminal was executed the body was often left unburied or put in a pauper’s field. A relative, like a mother might ask for the body, but Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy member of the Sanhedrin.

The Sanhedrin. One of the groups committed to getting rid of Jesus. But Joseph had become a disciple. And now he went to Pilate and advocated for Jesus. Asked for the body. Gave him a burial in a new tomb. He didn’t follow at a distance. He drew near and honored Jesus.

Joseph felt the sacrifice and was willing to share in it, not just watch.

Watching from a distance is like scrolling through our Facebook newsfeed and “liking” what we see others post. It’s like giving Jesus a wink and a thumbs up without getting our hands dirty. Without any cost to us.

Sometimes Easter morning can feel like that. Just a thumbs up for Jesus before we return to our agendas.

The thing I’m thinking about this morning is how Jesus was “all in” for us. How He didn’t watch from a distance, but drew near and loved us thoroughly and sacrificially. Because of the cross…

There is nothing we can do to make Jesus love us more, and nothing we can do to make Him love us less.

Forgiveness in Christ is there for the taking, but it’s not cheap. It’s not meant to be appreciated from a distance. It’s only as we draw near that we learn that grace cost Jesus everything. And as we do, we see that grace isn’t the permission to withdraw, but the courage and power to step in.

Praying that you and I will draw close this Easter…

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What to Do on Your Thursday & Friday When You Can’t See Sunday

It’s Thursday morning as I write this. I’m sitting at “my” table at Starbucks, greeting regulars in this coffee community between reading the account of Jesus’ last Thursday before the cross.

As I am sitting here, a friend stops by my table. A friend going through a dark, dark, time.

Her own cross. Her own death, waiting for resurrection.

She made a brave choice, but the pain on this side seems worse than ever. Betrayal from people near her, loss of community, questions of God. It’s her “good” Friday and she can’t see to Easter Sunday yet.

I think of her as I learn from Jesus walking through His Thursday and Friday before Sunday. We focus so often on how Jesus is God and perfect, and we aspire to be transformed into people who look more like Him, that we sometimes miss the ways He looked like us.  He had friends who let Him down, and desires for an easier way, but in His most Thursday and Friday moments maybe we can learn from Him.

  • On Jesus’ darkest days He gathers with His people. He leans into community. He speaks truth and He asks for help. (Mt. 26:17-46).
  • He gives thanks.(Mt. 26:27, 30) Not a fakey “Praise the Lord I’m dying here!”, but a genuine gratitude for patches of God-light in the midst of darkness. A sunrise, a loaf of bread, a hug, fresh spring breeze. There is power in thanksgiving in the midst of hard circumstances.
  • But Jesus leans into His Father more than His community. He prays, because He knows as important as the company of friends is, the company of God is the only sure thing. (Mt.26:39)
  • There is a rhythm of engaging and withdrawing. Going into Jerusalem and going out to Bethany to stay with friends. Sitting with his home team around a meal, and sitting alone in the Garden of Gethsemane, a short distance away. (21:1, 10, 17, 18; 26:6, 30, 36) Time for processing, and preparation, silence and solitude.
  • He’s doesn’t hold back. He pours out His heart. (Mt. 26:39)

“My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”

  • He submits to His Father’s will because He trusts His good plans. He trusts His Father’s ability to bring redemption and resurrection. New life out of painful death. (Mt. 26:39)

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As I think of my friend right here at Starbucks, I also think of many of you who are reading this in offices and homes and dorm rooms around the world.  Is it Thursday or Friday for you today?  As you look at this hard time are there choices Jesus made that might be helpful to you?

 We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. Hebrews 14:15-16 MSG

**Just a quick note…I’ve changed the commenting system. The good news is it is easier to comment. The bad news is that the first couple of times you comment the system requires me to “release” or “approve” your remarks before they show up. I try to stay on top of it, but don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up immediately! :)

What are You Noticing This Holy Week?

Are you joining me in fasting from social media, and entering into the last week of Jesus’ life? Great! If not, no worries. Maybe you are doing other meaningful things. I’d love to hear!  My goal has been to make as much space for Jesus as possible. To enter into His death so I can better understand the resurrection.

Here’s the thing…I love the movies with inspiration and uplift, and PROFOUND TRUTH.  I love the big movie music that convinces you there is good in the world and you can be part of it. But the soundtrack to this week so far has been more like The Shawshank Redemption than Rocky.

As I’ve read each day I’ve asked, “Lord, what do you have to show me about Yourself and what do you have to show me about myself?” Additionally, I’ve tried to put myself in the place of the disciples. The thing that strikes me is that the disciples loved Jesus and like kids looking up to a hero, they were anxious to please, but it was so confusing.

Holy Week was confusing because they assumed Jesus’ agenda was their agenda. Just like me.  Here’s some of what I’ve been noticing and asking…

Sunday

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey instead of a horse like a conquering military hero (kind of like driving into New York in a Mini Cooper), everyone cheered even though His mode of transportation was weird. They were still hopeful that He was going to be “their guy”.

John Ortberg says,

Palm Sunday represents all the times that we get really excited about Jesus because of what we think He can DO FOR US rather than who He really is, and what He really offers.

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Surrender is acknowledging that there is a God and it is not me.  So most of disciples are wrestling with this confusing process of bringing their agenda in line with Jesus’.

Monday

Jesus curses the fig tree and clears the temple. The fig tree, like me, like many, looks green and healthy from a distance, but up close is not bearing fruit – the true mark of submission and discipleship.  Are we about looking fruitful or actually bearing fruit through the power of Jesus? Where’s the fruit?

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Tuesday

Each day Jesus leaves Jerusalem and goes out to stay in Bethany with His “home team” – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Mary, in spite of the confusing events, is in tune enough with Jesus that she quietly anoints Him with expensive perfume.  Do we have a rhythm of engaging and withdrawing? Do we have a community of support and partnership? Is there enough stillness in our life that we are sensitive to the acts of devotion Jesus might ask of us?

Wednesday

It’s possible to be close to Jesus but not give our heart to Him, not bear fruit, not embrace His agenda. Judas wants Jesus for what He can do for him. Judas holds onto his own agenda.

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In our family, both my husband John and I like to drive. We like to be in control. We’ve come to the agreement that I drive during the day and he drives at night, but that’s only because I have night blindness.

I have no depth perception. Things are NOT as they appear to me at night! I had to learn the hard way – accidentally driving through stop lights, over curbs, and getting lost – that I need to surrender the keys at night.

I surrender the keys to John at night because I trust that he sees things more clearly than I do.

When we surrender to God we’re saying “I admit that things may not be as they appear to me. I trust You to know better.”

I can’t surrender my agenda to God unless I trust He has my best interest at his heart.

Those are a few of my thoughts as I’ve read. What is proving to be meaningful to you this Holy Week?

 

Failing Lent

How’s Lent been going for you?  Me? I’m really terrible at it.  My husband majored in Lent, growing up Catholic, but not me. It was never part of our faith tradition, and now it always seems to sneak up on me and all of a sudden it’s Ash Wednesday and I’m stressed about what I should or shouldn’t be doing or giving up, and what the meaning is supposed to be.  Am I supposed to identify with Jesus’ sacrifice or am I supposed to fast from worldly stuff that is sucking the life of Jesus out of me, or am I supposed to pull back to reflect on All Of The Deep Things?

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Those words “should” and “supposed to” float through the air in slow motion like a hand grenade or a heat seeking missile looking for where it can do the most damage. I end up feeling muddled and guilty that I haven’t done it “right”, whatever “right” is.

I can’t find the word “Lent” in my concordance, and certainly not “Thou shalt prepare for Easter by…” But I do think intentional preparation for Easter is a good thing.

I think the idea of Lent is to help us pay attention to God and life and death and resurrection the way it would be good to pay attention to Him all the time – like at 5 o’clock on a July evening when we’re sitting on the patio eating burgers, or on October 3rd in line at the grocery store.

So I’ve muddled through Lent again this year, unlike a young friend I mentor who has fasted from pop (but only brown pop), and sweets (but not on on her birthday or during the week she was in Italy, and chocolate covered almonds don’t count).  I laugh at her, but she says even this has really helped her pay attention and turn to Jesus in the moments she wants things she is sacrificing.

You cannot have resurrection without death.

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