December 25, 2013

Fire in the Sky • A Story of Christmas

The hushed stillness of their hillside perch was a welcome reprieve. Now only a muted roar behind them, the bustle of crowded Bethlehem fell flat.

Marah leaned back with her hands in the cool grass and gazed down at Josiah. Even in dimmest moonlight, his young features bore uncanny resemblance to his father’s. It was unsettling and comforting at the same time.

Josiah’s chin tilted toward the dark heavens. “Mama,” he said, “Is it true about the fire?”

October 31, 2013

A Choosy Beggar

He sat by the sidewalk, dark leathery hands outstretched.
"Help me get a meal?" he asked us as we passed. So we turned, and we offered him the hearty remains of our recent lunch. His eyes fell on our gift, and his face fell as well. "No thanks," he said, backing away, "I don't like that kind of food. It just doesn't agree with me."

Half relieved we'd get to keep our food, half indignant that he'd dare turn it away, we walked on. Judgment seared across my heart. Beggars can't be choosers. I guess he wasn't very hungry, after all. 

October 25, 2013

The Quiet Man • A Friday Flashback

This Friday Flashback was originally written in July 2006. 

He was the teacher everyone wanted to avoid. This past year of college, more than a few conversations about Mr. Shepherd began like this:

“Who’s your Bible teacher?... Oh-- that quiet man?… Boy, do I feel sorry for you!”

October 3, 2013

Here's My Heart, Lord

I’m a lost cause. I don’t fit in anywhere. I will always fail at this. God has forgotten about me. All this work is for nothing. I don’t deserve this pain. Everything is against me. Nothing’s ever certain. It’s all a lie. There’s no hope. I have nothing to hold on to. 

By the end of a hard day, lies have crept into my heart. They're half-truths, subtle whispers that I begin to accept and live.

I find myself in desperate need of a daily day’s-end reset. I need renewal in the fashion of Romans 12:2. Like a guitar played too long without rest, my heart strings need to be tuned afresh.

August 14, 2013

Why There's Repetition in My Prayers

I wonder if the people who hear me pray regularly grow tired of the recurring theme.

When I talk to God, I think of His character. I think of His holiness first. But before that thought is even complete, I encounter how great His love must be, since He is so holy, to allow and even desire that I know Him.

Let me tell you how extraordinary that love is.

July 31, 2013

When Love Looks Like Sixty Cents

I counted my change last night. After I scoured the living room floor and the bottom of my purse, I had $2.27 in quarters, nickels, and pennies. I also had an overpowering craving for a cinnamon roll.

My husband is well-acquainted with my frequent compulsions for milkshakes and cookie dough and chocolate and the like. He sweetly gave in and agreed to drive down the road with me in search of cinnamon rolls.

June 6, 2013

Pursuing Purpose & Finding Peace

Do you know that feeling of overwhelm? When you have an infinite to-do list scrolling through your mind over and over, like a stock ticker at the bottom of a television screen? When you’re furiously rushing through a task just to reach the next one and mark it off the mental list? I experience this chronically.  

Last week, though, I think I finally found the “off” button for that to-do ticker. 

May 28, 2013

My Top Five Podcasts

What if I told you that sometimes I look forward to deep cleaning the kitchen, scrubbing the bathroom, and weeding the garden?

It’s true, but only because I trick myself into loving those chores.

While my hands are busy working at something they can do by rote, my mind craves a challenge. Listening to a good podcast makes all the difference.

My iPhone has greeted and deleted a slew of different podcast subscriptions. I currently subscribe to twenty separate podcasts, but there are only a few for which I most impatiently await new episodes. 

Here are my top five favorite podcasts.

April 29, 2013

Change of Plans

I was out in the garden, staking up a tomato plant. The silence was extraordinary. No birds. No breeze. Blue skies directly overhead.

With no warning, a flash shattered my concentration, followed instantly by a ground-rattling boom. Raindrops began to splatter on my hands, while I rushed to finish stabilizing the tomato cage.

As I ran through the lightning-punctuated downpour, the distance between my garden and back door seemed further than usual. So much for my outdoor to-do list. I sat inside catching my breath, drying off, and thinking deep thoughts about planning.

March 14, 2013

Not Having a Thing

For about two years, I have really struggled with not having “a thing.”

You know what “a thing” is. You hear about a 5K and say, “Whew! I could never do that, but Kate could. Running is her thing.” The topic of art comes up, and you think of someone you know who's a genius with oil paints, and you say, “Painting is Christina’s thing.” Or maybe you know someone who’s all about dressing well, and when those seasonal catalogs come in the mail you think, “Jessica would love to see this. Fashion is her thing.” 

January 22, 2013

The Joy Dare

I have been deeply ungrateful. I bet you have too.

Consider this:
Every time you or I complain about anything, we're really saying, "I'm not thankful for what you've given me in this moment, Lord. Take it back. I don't want it." Even though He says in Romans 8 that He works all things together for our good, to conform us to the image of Christ, we're ungrateful for the refining fires. I've written before about my struggle with discontentment; it is, at heart, a struggle with ingratitude.

I'm not thankful for the weeks when we don't know how the rent will get paid. I'm not thankful for diseases that afflict the people I love. I'm seriously not thankful for the painful moments of being the only woman in the group who can't join the conversation about toddler trials, when all I ever wanted was to mother a houseful of children and start young at it too. I'm not thankful for hospital bills, broken washing machines, or midsummer car rides with no air conditioning.

January 10, 2013

Five Ways I Want to be Like My Mama

This blog is all about my journey toward living purposefully, with the result that home is a pleasant place. My mama does that better than anyone I know. 

For months, there's been a blog post sitting in my drafts folder titled simply "My Mama." It contained a few disorganized thoughts on things I love about my mom. That draft drew my attention recently, because today is my mama's birthday. I'm not revealing how old she is; but she probably wouldn't mind if I did. She's the kind of lady who would gracefully tell you her age if you asked, and she'd add that she's thankful for every year. (Granted, it's probably easier to respond that way when you still look as angelic as my mama does.)

Everything I'd written about my mom in that original draft was a quality I desperately hope to grow into. So I tried to fit those jotted thoughts into some order. Now my challenge is limiting the list to only these five.

January 7, 2013

Kale Chips?

I've recently begun to try my hand at gardening, in hopes of learning to grow as much of my own food as I can. This pretty kale was calling my name from its place in the soil.