September 28, 2010

Silent Night, Holy Night

"As soon as we are alone...inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important."
~Henri Nouwen (Making All Things New and Other Classics)

The last time I had overnight guests, I put my fan in the spare room for their comfort. We laughed and talked halfway through the night. After a hearty round of "Good night John Boy, Good night Pa!" the house hushed and to my surprise, my head blared!

How many thoughts can one girl have at one time! The whir between my ears must be akin to when an avalanche meets a tornado meets a hurricane. A messy raucous!

Why was I thinking a thousand thoughts all of a sudden?

And then it hit me. My brain always fusses at warp speed. I just never noticed because my fan's white noise muffles my thoughts.

I became keenly aware- with all my yammering filling my mind, I didn't have space for the Lord's voice.

Right then, laying in the still dark, I began to practice the age old discipline of silence. I asked the Lord to calm the rapid-fire voices of my plans, musings, anxieties, excitements, memories and to-do's.

It took a while, but I grew accustomed to the quiet. And my friends, that Silent Night became a Holy Night as I drew near to the one Voice I needed to listen to. Were there epiphanies or major transformations? No, not really. But there was sweet peace and a realization He is near.

Perhaps that is an epiphany after all to my overworked mind. I may just keep my fan in the guest room!

September 21, 2010

In the Ordinary...

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. ~Ephesians 1

We look for visions of heaven and we never dream that all the time God is in the commonplace things and people around us. ~Oswald Chambers

A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.
~St. Francis of Assisi

Becoming the beloved is pulling the truth revealed to me from above down into the ordinariness of what I am, in fact, thinking of, talking about and doing from hour to hour. ~Henri Nouwen

In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

September 20, 2010

All He Had

He died without a thought for his own welfare... ~Isaiah 53

Maine in summertime. Have three more glorious words ever been laced together? I contend they have not. My Grampy and Nanny lived Downeast, which happily afforded me childhood summers roving the East Coast. A favorite destination was Acadia National Park located on Mount Desert Island, or MDI as the locals call it, a'yuh!

(My sisters and me on top of Cadilac Mtn)

From the peaks of Acadia’s crowning jewel - Cadillac Mountain - lavender lupine, Canada's lush green borders, and white sailboats bobbing in the deep blue ocean fill your eyes. Sweet hay and crisp pine scents romance your sniffer. Warm, salty breezes refresh you. Acadia translates to "heaven on earth" in French; I couldn't agree more.

(A lil' slice of heaven: Acadia National Park)

Before I get carried away though, I want to introduce you to George. George Dorr.

His were the sort that hung out with the perpetually exclusive, though I'm not one to name drop (cough, cough! Kennedy, Vanderbilt, Rockefeller). Flabbergasting wealth afforded them luxurious summers on the coast as well. Determined to keep MDI their private playground, they rapidly scooped up land to perch their "cottages" (ahem; see picture below). MDI did not stand a chance to remain naturally pristine with the tug of war waging between these Industrious and the timber companies. In the early 1900's, George and a few other men saw the warning signs. Act now to rescue the land or it will be lost forever.

(Dorr summer home, The Old Farm)

George, bachelor and heir to a New England textile fortune (read: did not have to work), jumped into action and took the helm of saving MDI's spectacular natural beauty. He and his cronies tirelessly petitioned the other wealthies to donate their land. If they wouldn't budge, George bartered with his own inheritance.

(Thanks guys!)

The main goal was this: rescue as much land as possible, put it under the authority of the government so it would be untouchable and call it a National Park. This with a new fangled idea George and friends came up with.

All said and done, 47,000 acres of land (open to all!) now proudly bears the name and security of Acadia National Park; 30,000 of these acres are on MDI.

George did it! But at what cost? A high one...he died a pauper. At the time of his death, George called a shack his home, having given everything - cottage (the one pictured above), land, inheritance - to save what he loved.

(Wild Lupines)

I wonder if George was in love with God. If so, did he recognize how his life's example points to Christ's?

Christ sees something so beautiful He gave everything to save it. He left His home in heaven.

He gave His very life.

He gave His very life.

He gave His very life.

He saw something beautiful and acted out of mercy on the cross to rescue so all would not be lost.

Now, we bear His Name and rest under His authority...untouchable to that which would destroy and mar. We rest under His hope. And we rest knowing He thinks we are utterly invaluably beautiful and worth His very life.

(View from the top, Cadillac Mountain)

George gave all he had for the public to enjoy Acadia National Park, aka "heaven on earth." Jesus gave all He had to bring heaven on earth, so we can one day enjoy Him in heaven. I hope someday you visit the park to appreciate George’s efforts. (Send me a postcard!) But more than that, I sincerely hope you visit the cross of Christ and approach His throne with confidence to find for yourself the Love that saves you for eternity.

The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him. ~Isaiah 53

September 16, 2010


Kids play a game called Mercy.

One kid inflicts pain on another till she cries "mercy!!" Game over. Ohhh, but to be the one who doesn't cry out. Now that's the stuff playground legends are made of! My folks never liked my sisters and me to play Mercy; they saw the thick line distinguishing childish frivolity from absurdity.

The wisdom of the years my parents possessed, knowledge of this game’s inevitable anguish, is why adults don't play Mercy. Or do we?

I’m pretty sure we do. We play games with pain. We taunt it. With one breath we claim, I can handle you! Only to find the pain is so bad we can’t catch our next breath. At any time we could say the word and be free from pain's abusive clutch. Why then do we cry "more!" rather than "mercy!"?

Because the pain morphs into its own sedative, luring us into a false familiar. It becomes part of our identity. We fool ourselves: enduring this pain makes me legendary with others, right? They admire my tenacity and strength to withstand. Anyhow, it’s my lot in life, so I may as well own it.

No; that's deception. It's settling "into a false belief that says, 'So this is it. This is the life Jesus spoke about'" (Stephen Smith, The Lazarus Life). This notion sustains pain and gives it a voice. Pain touts, “God can't won't doesn't fill that hole like I do. Stay….we’re good together. All you’ve suffered will be forgotten by others if you heal. I am safer than healing. Stay in our bed of tears.”

Seasons set aside to mourn are good and natural. They are….Ecclesiastes 3. But they’re just that: seasons. Not lifetimes. Letting go of the familiar pain can be scary. But we don’t go it alone. “Ultimately it is not up to us to 'self-help' our way out of the darkness. God is the one who delivers. Fear does not emanate from God. It comes from a trembling heart, a shaking soul. Fear is birthed in darkened tombs where we imagine the worst. It is then nourished in secrets, lies and half-truths" (Smith).

Y’all, I don’t want to stay in that shaking, dark, fake tomb. Do you? David said in 1 Chronicles 21, "I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing." The price tag of crying mercy is high: comfort, familiarity, self pity, pride...

So much more is given in return though: peace, comfort, joy. As a little girl, I would run to my parents when the game of pain hurt too much. And just like them, our Papa is waiting with healing in His hands. Rest assured, crying mercy isn’t equivalent to ripping off a band-aid. Healing is a process and He’s a gentle healer. The first step is simply to cry “mercy!”

I've had enough of this about you?


He will deliver us. ~2 Corinthians 1:9

September 13, 2010

94.1 FM

As a Word Nerd I've wanted to study "Be still and know I am God" (Psalm 46) in the original Hebrew for a few months now. Especially the "Be still" part. I just really felt that the Lord wanted me to know what it meant. Plus, my gut told me it would be rich.

Driving home from coffee with a friend last week, I was flipping through radio stations, when a Scottish accent arrested me. {I'm a softy for accents!}

Lo and behold! What do I hear? "'Be still and know that I am God' Do you know what 'Be still' means in the original Hebrew? It means "Let go."

I am not making this up! That guy on the radio said those words verbatim. And then it hit me that the Lord must really have wanted me to hear this sweet invitation and lesson.

Let go.

So what do you say? Do you want accept His invitation and let go with me?

Let's let go and know. Let's let go and know that I. Am. God.

Jesus said...before Abraham was, I am. ~John 8:58

*10,000 Angels, Sandra McCracken. Much as I {heart} CC, I highly suggest taking a listen to Sandra's version of this song. I couldn't find it on youtube but it's Be.Yew.Tee.Full.

September 8, 2010

Failure is not an Option

What do you dream of doing? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Let's talk!

"I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate." ~Julia Child

September 1, 2010


Art by: Laura Amstutz, Creative Spillage {}

This sweet and beautiful artwork by my so very talented and gorgeous friend Laura snagged my heart when I first saw it. As I viewed the whole series, the snag pulled and unraveled. I followed the string back to where it was caught.

There I saw the faith and grace of Naomi and the blend of her hope and fear; trust and doubt. Seriously, I could end there. 'Nough said. Laura's art is beautiful beyond words. And speaks for itself.

I wish I had as beautiful words; but I only have ordinary words to describe the extraordinary woman Naomi was. Despite that, I want to share just a little about Naomi and let Laura's art speak to you too. Moreso, let the Lord speak to you through these tender, lovely pictures.

so·journ –verb (used without object) stay for a time in a place; live temporarily

If I were to title Naomi's story, I would call it "Sojourner." Hers is a story of sojourns of sadness and grief; hope and joy.

And like the mama in these captivating works of art, she stayed under the shelter of the Most High, acknowledging Him in all her ways. Sharing Him with her daughters-in-law; inviting them to take shelter in Him too.

Her faithfulness to rest under His shelter amazes me. Yet I often wonder how different Naomi's journey to her homeland would have been had she fully realized the way God sheltered her in her sojourn of grief. I imagine her stay there would have been shortened. What if she knew how He had gone before her to prepare Ruth and Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David, Mary and Joseph...Jesus?

I wonder too, how different my journey would be if I fully realized the ways God shelters me? And how ultimately my journey leads to Jesus as well. I imagine I would stay under His shelter more, rather than letting go and running elsewhere for covering. I would sojourn less often in valleys of sadness and grief and put more permanent roots in the land of hope and joy.

How do you see God sheltering you and leading you to Himself? What sojourn are you in right now?

How do you see God calling you to help shelter widows and orphans like Naomi and Ruth? Laura describes her inspiration for this series: "So I've been overwhelmed lately with concern for widows. Particularly those in Middle Eastern or South Asian countries. I watched a documentary and one woman, Zainab Wahidi, described loosing her husband as loosing her shade. That she now has to provide this shade, this cover, for herself and her children." Please prayerfully consider offering shade to a child through Compassion International. You will change a whole family's life! {}

*Please visit Laura's Creative Spillage gallery! {}