pen in hand.

There’s something to be said for pen in hand.

I picked one up last week, wrote some eight pages in my journal about the crazy that had been the past two weeks (and incidentally, has continued right into a third).

I picked one up the next day when Rachel mentioned she was going to free write every Friday and asked me to join her.

I picked one up earlier today, writing out Psalm 46 in painstaking cursive, the better to remember it.

There’s something to be said for pen in hand.

•••

I have missed writing.

I started blogging because I loved writing and was fascinated by the idea that my words could be read by complete strangers. I had long cherished the dream of being a published author and blogging felt like halfway to the real thing.

I’ve kept a journal since Christmas 1997, not always as frequently at some times as others. But I have always, always, always been writing.

Except when I haven’t, and that has been a frequent refrain of late.

•••

I am not sure I recognize blogging anymore, and I have long stayed away from this space because I am no longer sure how to interact with it.

But this is my manifesto, my declaration, that as a writer once and thus a writer forever, I will keep writing, not only or even always here, but in public and private documents, for the rest of my life to come.

Writers write; it’s what they do. And a writer is who I am, whether it’s fingers to keyboard or pen in hand.

glasses in the road.

They were thrown, although they appeared as if out of nowhere, as if they had popped into thin air after a journey across dimensions. Gravity pressed them downward, and tires knocked them about, and they stopped there, square in the middle of the road, and I almost rescued them but I didn’t.

•••

I judged the person who threw them for littering, I’ll admit, but not for very longer. Instead I thought of how they could be reused, how our church deliberately collects them and takes them to Africa every August. They had been thrown by someone driving and landed in the lane going the opposite direction as me, and I wondered how crazy I would be to jump out of my car right quick and pick them up.

I checked oncoming traffic and miraculously, it was clear, but I didn’t unbuckle my seat belt, I didn’t open my car door, I didn’t move.

•••

There is a threat to the Church and his name is Complacency. He is one of Satan’s most successful servants.

He will keep us on our couches, in our comfy church pews, in our leather driver’s seats. He will keep us doing the same things for the same reasons with the same perspectives if we don’t see him, fight him, pray against him.

He will let us drive past people in need, past cities in desperate need of our service, past schools and churches and homes filled with children who need us to pray with desperation and conviction to be the best example of Christ we can be to them.

He will let us drive past them in the road. They could’ve irrevocably broadened the perspective of one person across the ocean, and I let them stay there, in the middle of the road, to potentially cause harm instead of good.

•••

It is the everyday, the ordinary, that God will use to transform our lives if we let Him. Complacency does not have to win, because our God already did.

Two pieces of wood, three thick nails, one human body, and yet the combination yielded deicide and paved the way for divine victory.

And so what might have two lenses and a metal frame have done in His hands?

•••

Let me tell you a story about a pair of glasses that somebody threw in the middle of the road in Bloomfield Township, Michigan.

In one ending, they are rescued by a woman who was unafraid to be called crazy by people who would never see her again. They are placed next to a pair of her own glasses, long since useless to her. She will put both pairs in a basket in August and not even a few weeks later, they will be carefully packed in a suitcase whose owner is bound for Uganda. The owner will spend their time there ministering to people by treating medical conditions. One of those people will be a person whose sight is poor, and they will put these glasses on to see as, for a long time, they have not been able.

In another ending, the same woman of the previous ending drives past them, wrestling fiercely with but ultimately defeated by the fear of running into opposing yet nonexistent traffic and being called crazy by the people behind her. She will think about the glasses she left behind and the person who could have benefitted from them for half a mile after they are gone from her sight, itself augmented and fortified by lenses, and she will imagine their fate, crushed by tires, potentially embedded in one or two or five; she will think of the owners who may have to spend $200 or more to replace these tires pierced by glass.

Ultimately, she will go home and she will write a blog post about it, wishing back the moment and regretting that she left a pair of glasses behind after someone tossed them in the road.

soccer daze

Little girl dreams: revived, refreshed, fulfilled, just by watching this team take on the world and win.

Sixteen years ago I watched the US play China in the final of the 1999 World Cup. I was eight years old. The game went into extra time, then penalty kicks. I will never forget watching Brandi Chastain drill her PK past the Chinese goalkeeper to win the game.

That generation still lives in the 2015 victory; Christie Rampone played on that ’99 team, and it is not until she has retired that her generation of soccer players will have completely turned over their role to the next. But their legacy will live on even as it is being reshaped and remolded by this generation.

You’re all the ages you’ve ever been, all at once, and I have been eight almost as much as twenty-four since the US played their final game against Japan on Sunday. This is not just a game; not just a sport. Soccer changes lives.

I know, because it changed mine.

independence.

It’s another installment of Speak Up! with Amber and me! This month’s topic is independence.

Head over to Amber‘s to hear her thoughts on one of our nation’s core values. We’d love to hear yours as well, so link up below! Please remember to add your permalink and comment on at least two other vlogs.

keepin’ it fresh.

About a year ago, I took my inaugural visit to Traverse City for Margaret‘s bridal shower. We took an evening wander downtown and I bought this bumper sticker to put on my car. (Spoiler: it’s still not on my car.)

Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes, all of which are freshwater. They are the largest freshwater lakes in the world, comprising our backyard, and we forget just how blessed we are to have them, especially when it feels like God has gathered one of them up in His arms and dumped it over the state, like it has for a few weeks running now.

I take the Living Water as much for granted. It’s unsettling and frustrating to find yourself at the point of realizing that you, in an umpteenth recitation of the cycle, have felt caught in the quicksand, striving by your own power to cut through the muck, when Jesus is standing there, eyes pleading, Child, only take My hand and you’ll come free.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Nevertheless, that’s where I found myself a few weeks ago when summer life group offerings were announced and I discovered that one of my favorite couples in all the land were hosting a life group to study Matt Chandler’s Explicit Gospel. And despite having the gospel pounded in my head from birth, practically, I still need to hear it approximately every other second. So I signed up and here we are.

(Really, here I am and wish you were too, because if you are human, you need to hear this.)

“The gospel changes everything,” I listened to Meredith Andrews sing last night, but the question is will we let it? Because truth is truth, regardless of how we take it. God is good, mighty, strong to save, seated on His throne, extending His right hand in mercy, loving us despite everything for Christ’s sake. We can take it or leave it. He died for us to have that choice.

So we can hear the gospel but miss the point, or we can listen carefully to the good news and let it transform us completely. Because that is the miracle. For people who don’t believe God does drastic miracles anymore, He does, because He is doing them in us if we will only offer our lives for His glory.

The problem is, we don’t understand that. We don’t understand what being saved is because we don’t understand what we would be saved from. And to simply say “sin” is too little, I think. We assume sin are certain stigmatizing behaviors and leave it at that instead of diving into the minute intricacies and manifestations of sin in our lives.

Sin is not only the things we’re so used to hearing condemned from the pulpit, but anything we do that is contrary to God’s character. So it’s snapping at your coworkers out of anger where Jesus would extend grace (guilty), which Jesus tells us in Scripture is tantamount to murder. It’s disobeying and therefore dishonoring your mother when she asks you to do the dishes (guilty), the only commandment with a promise attached. It’s choosing not to speak to the new person at church because you are preoccupied with your friends or too scared or just don’t want to (guilty), deliberately withholding the love of Christ when He says His followers will be known by how they love. It’s saying you deserve something, anything (guilty), when you don’t deserve anything at all except death because of how filthy and wretched we are. It’s withholding mercy and forgiveness (guilty) when the entirety of your earthly and eternal lives depend on the mercy and forgiveness God either has or is willing to grant you upon repentance. It’s the smallest lies, the most subtle manipulations, the slyest insinuations. Guilty, guilty, guilty.

But for His grace, I am done for.

And that is the gospel. That is the good news.

The good news is that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The good news is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). The good news is we do not have to be conformed to the world, but can be transformed by the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus (Romans 12:2).

The good news is amazing grace, that saved a wretch like me, an angry, bitter, selfish, manipulative woman, whom God is transforming more like Himself by the work of His Spirit in me, made possible by Jesus’s sacrificial work on the cross at Golgotha. Because of HIS great love, we are not forsaken. Because of HIS great power, we are saved to Him and made new. Because of HIS great mercy, we no longer walk in the darkness and are set free to walk in His light.

So often I forget that. And that, itself, is sin: living in ignorance of God, not remembering Him, not reading His word, not speaking to Him. But, praise Him! we don’t have to stay there. His heart beats desperately for us and He has every power to move us forward. I want to remember. I want that knowledge to invade every fiber of my being, to change my hard and stony heart, to unclench tiny fists shaken in spiritual tantrum, to open my eyes to the goodness and greatness of our sovereign God. I want His love to pour over my parched soul and bring it back to life. I want to be made new; I want to love Jesus more fully.

I want to keep it fresh.

going on a picnic

I want to apologize for how long it took me to post this! I’ve been having technology & Internet issues for a couple months now and the blog has suffered greatly as a result. Thank you for your understanding!

 

Amber and I are so stoked to welcome you to the sixth installment of Speak Up!

This month’s topic is: if we were going on a picnic, where would we go, what would we eat, and what would we do?

Be sure to head to Amber‘s to hear what sunny California setting she’d host her picnic at!

And remember, please link your post permalink instead of directly to your blog, as well as comment on two other linked posts.

Please also note: Between going to Jamaica in April and transferring my blog to WordPress, I wasn’t able to comment on your posts those months. I apologize for that! Amber and I firmly believe in making this a space where we encourage and learn from one another. To that end, I will be spending this weekend watching your vlogs from the past three months. Again, I apologize for the delay! I’m super excited to hear about your celebration and growth, as well as this month’s picnics.

invitation to home.

It’s a glorious afternoon when I walk out of a parking garage to find the post office.

0963fcIt’s paradoxical, perhaps, that a stationary building represents adventure to me, but it does. I think of all the words printed or written painstakingly on various types of paper, fitted into envelopes, making their way on planes and trucks to mailboxes around the country.

It’s one of my favorite things to visit in every new town; even when city buildings and libraries and stores are being built modernly, the post office is always quaint.

I’m still learning the rhythms of my new town, even though I’ve lived here since September. And today, I stepped into a blustery Saturday, watching cars breeze down Main Street and people wander casually down the sidewalk. I made my own way, by instinct, to the Bean and Leaf Café, where my roommate and our friend sat, laptops already open for the afternoon of work ahead.

It’s stability and connection, the post office, uniting the two as perhaps nothing else does. The building’s always there, the letters always rushing through, giving us glimpses of friends and family miles away and the opportunity to celebrate their joys and mourn their sorrows. I felt comforted as I saw it; I have not wandered often into ROMI’s downtown, but it felt like a warm invitation, letters embossed firmly into a thick paper, requesting no RVSP but a “drop by whenever you like.”

wednesday wreads, vol.22

Am I Selfish for Travelling?” by Ashley

So am I selfish for making my dreams of travelling a reality? Am I a bad person for making my family wonder and worry about me while I take off to gallivant around the globe? Does chasing my dream justify the fact that I’m abandoning my friends and family for extended periods of time? Am I crazy for not wanting to settle down and start popping out babies?

•••

Holy Moments” by Tabitha

The rest of the day flies by, and depending on the day, nothing or everything gets done. We have become frequent fliers at the library, Costco, and even through the Dunkin Donuts drive-through. I love hanging with my son. He seems to enjoy being out and about and I find myself pushing my introversion just for him.

•••

I Don’t Want to be a Christian” by Courtney

Jesus rode a donkey. Not a Porsche. He wore a robe and sandals. Not Chanel and Jimmy Choo’s. He carried with Him the presence of the Almighty. Not a Michael Kors bag.

•••

The In Between” by Cassie

Of course I want to be a mom one day. A mom that is present and invested. However, I also want to have a job that is fulfilling and gives me purpose outside my role as a wife and mother. That doesn’t mean it’s more important, it’s just something I need personally AND I feel like it was a gift I was given. To help people.

•••

Small, Messy, Un-Glamorous Days” by Sarah

Billy and I get in the car, strap the kids in, and drive around with coffee in hand. We do this multiple times a week. It’s lovely because of the coffee, the company, and the fact that my children are able to communicate but unable to run around.

•••

To You, vol.3” by Brittani

To the single twenty-something,
 
I can see the despair of an expectation that wasn’t met sitting in the back of your already busy mind as you drive home, alone, to the apartment you rent by yourself.
 
It’s a thought that crosses your mind daily; you wonder if it’ll always be this way, or if this is just an abnormally long season of life.  These seasons come and go; school, a new job, transition, but this one just seems…different.  And you discover that it is much, much harder.