Dark Days

This is my view as I write at 5:45 a.m.

photo-66Trouble is I’d have much the same view at 7 a.m., or 4:30 p.m.  It’s just that time of year when everything goes frozen and dark and silent.  It’s a living picture of Advent – that time of waiting in darkness for the Light of the World to appear.

As I write I’m wondering how many people reading this feel like they’re waiting for something.  Longing.  And how many feel like they are in a time of deep darkness when they can’t see anything that makes sense.  Fuzzy outlines, but nothing sure.

Darkness and longing.

Ever heard of night blindness?  

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When God’s Good Work Doesn’t Seem Good

Tuesday morning at 2:11 a.m. our friends’ baby took one last breath and slipped into the hands of Jesus.  Gentle, healing hands much bigger than ours.

Her parents have known for six months as she fought to grow in her mama’s tummy, that short of a miracle, her breaths would be few, if at all.

Every time the doctors asked if they wanted to abort, they gently said “No”, grateful when the question stopped coming.  They are strong.  They cling to Jesus.

With a good idea of what was ahead, they read with faith and heartache, “I knit you together in your mother’s womb.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  But she was. Continue reading

The Choice Today Gives You

A departure from Fearless Friday this week… Day after tomorrow our youngest daughter, Maggie will marry the love of her life.  It’s a week of celebrating God’s faithfulness.  Looking back and praying forward.  Our Maggie is  an adventure waiting to happen.  Someone for whom the world is full of friends she just hasn’t met yet.  Her ability to choose life is seen clearly in this post from two years ago

I never, EVER thought there would be a day in my life when I would accidentally end up in a nudist camp, looking for the Giant Lady’s Leg Sundial in rural Indiana. But that’s exactly what happened.

I just got back from the road trip my daughter Maggie and I took driving a U Haul, moving her to D.C. and stopping at quirky sights along the way.

Our trip included car dancing, U turns, bonding with fellow truckers, and stops like the sundial, a space acorn (we just missed the UFO convention) and a hot dog bun “museum” of sorts.  It was a blast. Three days of adventure filled with laughter.

I kept thinking of Deuteronomy 30:19 that reminds us to choose life!”  The life that God has created includes everything from the inspirational, to the sacrificial, to the…FUN!

So…on this Memorial Day weekend I hope each of you find a giant orange moose, or a space acorn, or something that gives you delight!

How are you choosing life today?  What are the life-giving relationships, experiences and spiritual practices that bring you joy?

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When You See it and When You Don’t

Our daughter Maggie got engaged last weekend.

We exclaim, “Oh, yes!”  We can clearly see God’s faithfulness, His provision, His plan.  And we sing, like it’s New Year’s Eve, with confetti and streamers and hugs

Great is Thy faithfulness O God our Father.”

Two new babies were born to friends this week.  And we sing

“Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.”

A delightful surprise package of gifts appeared on our back step.

Blessings all mine and ten thousand besides.”

A dear friend was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.  And it’s hard to see, but we try to sing

“Strength for today…”

The homeless guys still show up on our corner every day, and we have loved ones who are still prodigals, and others who are single, or childless and don’t want to be.  We want to sing a lovely future into their lives.

 “and bright hope for tomorrow.”

Israelis and Palestinians are killing each other.  Our voices waver a bit…

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth.”

Years ago we took the girls on a family vacation to Colorado.  They were little and excited.  It was the first time they would see the mountains.

But Maggie couldn’t.  She kept saying, “I.  Do.  Not.  See. Them!”

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Walking in Circles, part 2

Have you ever done a prayer walk?

Last Sunday I started a new small group study with young couples at our church using The Circle Maker curriculum by Mark Batterson.  You can read more about it here.

Anyway, because this study is on prayer, and because I really do want God to transform us through this, and because I hadn’t done it in a long time, I found myself walking circles around the outside of our church, praying at 9:00 Sunday morning.  Yes, I felt a little odd.  I’m just sayin’.

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A Letter to my Daughters about Today

On this blog I share stories from my life, but my deepest prayer is that they wouldn’t be just about me, but about all of us and our quest to see the hand of God in all of life.  Even though this is to my daughters I hope it’s meaningful for parents and sons and daughters alike.

Dear Precious Girls,

As I write this we’re on our third flight coming home from Sri Lanka, through Bombay and Amsterdam.  Too much time to think.  Feeling out of sync with time changes, and nostalgic, and ready to sleep in my own bed and be in a normal summer routine that includes Minnesota lakes and green grass.

In this season, traveling to exotic places, experiencing the humidity and dust of ancient cultures, the taste of unusual spices and the the smell of incense and poverty, I am grateful.  But I also long for home and the simplicity of summer days when you both were little.

Playing Monopoly and hopscotch on the driveway, picking strawberries, and making water balloons, and walking to the library as we were serenaded by cicadas.  Creating forts and reading Betsy, Tacy, and Tib aloud on hot summer afternoons that we savored like melting popsicles, slurping up the goodness of the day.

I think in contrast, of this season of your life now, as young professional women living in D.C. where you have a vibrant faith community, stimulating dialog about important ideas, and the opportunity to experience Supreme Court arguments, Embassy receptions, and White House fireworks.  A good, good season.

I want you to savor every moment, drink up every drop.  To choose life in all its fullness.  This is the season of your life when you’ll set courageous goals and experience lovely victories and maybe fall flat on your face some too.  You’ll nurture deep friendships, look to wise mentors, and invest in causes that are deeply meaningful.

It’s the season when you get to ask yourself,  “What story do I want to be able to tell in fifteen years?”

In this season I pray you’ll pause, not only to acknowledge the good gifts, but also the Gift Giver.  Yeah, I know there are rough days with job stress, and not enough money, and bad hair days, and questions about what’s next and where, but still…

I may be tempted to look back with longing, and you to look forward with longing, but meanwhile there’s today.  Gregory Boyle quotes Thich Nhat Hahn saying “our true home is the present moment.

The Desert Fathers would repeat one word over and over.  Not “Jesus” or “Love”, but the word, “today”.  It reminded them where they needed to be.

So today, where you are, and where I am, let’s just choose life and thanksgiving in the present.  God is good.  We get to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” in every season.

And when you come home this summer for a visit, let’s be sure to play Monopoly and go to Dairy Queen.

Ascribe to the Lord…

We sang the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness at our wedding on a hot, muggy July day 29 years ago, and it became our family refrain, sung at every defining moment.

We’ve sung it loud in gratitude.  We’ve sung it haltingly in desperation, we’ve sung it in harmony and with hope.  With tears of pain and tears of joy.

This past year I’ve had the incredible privilege of worshipping with believers on five continents.  Singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” side by side with folks who were raising their voices in tribal tongues like Tonga, or Aramaic, French, Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish…

In a packed mud church in Zambia where praying for daily bread isn’t an empty phrase and people thirst for living water.

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

Alone in abandoned cathedrals in Italy where God is still present and you hear the echoes of followers long gone.

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

In the Swiss Alps where believers are a minority like a tiny flame trying to bring light to the darkness.

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

In Brazil where girls need to be reminded they are beautiful, beloved children of God first and foremost.

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

In the Bethlehem where Christians pray for peace and refuse to be enemies even as bullets fly.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

In Sri Lanka where everyone helped bury the dead after the tsunami and the sound system squalks and squeals and people fan themselves in the sweltering heat and humidity as they sing.

Great is Thy Faithfulness.

I write these words fearing they won’t communicate the power I feel.  I am not an emotional worshipper, but when I come before the Lord with people of every language, people with burdens I cannot imagine, and faith I cannot fathom, I’m wrecked.  I’m a puddle.

I wonder if you’ve experienced anything like this.  It’s hard to express, and yet, I feel the Lord says to me over and over again “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name” from Psalm 29 and I have to try.

I think of this as a small glimpse of heaven written about in Revelation 15:9  “All nations will come and worship before You, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

What moves you in worship?

Christmas Card Fail

One of the casualties of the Holiday Ham meltdown ’11 was our family Christmas card and letter.  We’re not going to do one this year to save some money.  As the Christmas Queen who wants to do everything Christmas, and who’s dream is to be a snowflake in the Holidazzle parade, you can bet this wasn’t my vote.  I’m really into tradition.  We even have a book where we keep all our family Christmas cards through the years.

But maybe it’s better this way.  I received a link to The Best of the Worst Holiday Cards yesterday and I’m thinking some of ours might make the cut.  We were really into holiday sweaters.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking…What if Mary and Joseph wrote a Christmas letter a couple of years after Jesus was born?  It might have begun like ours did in 1987, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”?

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