When This Is the First Prayer of the Day

metal_anchorchain_chain_665878_hSome days are just hard. Then another one comes along just like it. Then another. And before you know it, they’re stringing together like the links of a heavy chain and you’re dragging the weight around, exhausted and discouraged and maybe a little (or a lot) angry at the unfairness of it all.

When I start to feel that heaviness,  I find myself waking up well before daybreak and whispering, “God, please let today be better”. It isn’t a plea grounded in hope, as in I know God is with me and will make all things work together for good if only I will believe. No, usually it’s more of a desperate, I give up, I’m drowning here. I’m at Your mercy.

It’s not a time I need a sermon or a theological explanation about God’s grand designs for humanity and what a small part of it all my tiny life is. It’s true the big picture of human history is infinitely vast and knowable only to an all-powerful God. And it’s true I can trust Him to take care of me in the larger context of eternity.

But when I’m in pain or exhausted from too much drama and the frustrations of life, you know what I need? Continue reading

Floating in a Sea of Icebergs

People are complicated. I’m sure that’s not news to you.

I think about my own life and the image I always try to project: polished, confident, intelligent. You know the drill.

icebergs - Alaskan Dude Flickr
Photo by Alaskan Dude, Flickr.com

But I’m an iceberg and so are you.

There’s what we let other people see, and then there are all those other layers and dimensions we keep below the surface: our past, our weaknesses, our fears. To be seen as who we aspire to be requires that those aspects of who we are remain hidden. But all that other “stuff” is still there below the surface.

Being in relationship with each other – unless we keep it strictly superficial – is going to be tricky, maybe even dangerous. We’re sure to bump up against each other and those layers we didn’t know were there for others will bruise us, while ours will bloody them.

The loss of comedic great Robin Williams this week really drove this point home to me. Here was a guy who brought so much joy and laughter to his audiences and seemed to always have a funny retort and positive outlook.

I think I could have been friends with him if our worlds had intersected in some way. No doubt I am not alone in that. He was a rare presence.

But he is quoted as having once said, Continue reading

Delighting in the Perfectly Imperfect

Over coffee recently, a friend intrigued me with her description of a relative we’ll call Jackie. Jackie, it seems, embraces the odd. If you were to go shopping with her, you might be flummoxed to discover she prefers the items with tiny flaws: the one blue vase with a splotch of orange paint where it shouldn’t be, the picture frame with a nick on the corner, the sofa pillow with a pulled thread. Nothing that renders the piece unusable or unsafe, mind you, just something perfectly imperfect.

Me? I’d be rummaging through the box or bin for the one object in the whole selection that WASN’T slightly crooked or smeared or cracked, but apparently not Jackie.

What’s more, Continue reading

When the Circle Widens

lake_ripple_brown_703068_hI’m not kidding when I say there was a glow in the room. My neighbors had invited my daughter and me over to meet their new grandchild – their long awaited, breathlessly anticipated, deeply adored grandchild. They knew how much we had been looking forward to meeting this little one and it was going to work out perfectly. Their daughter and son-in-law would be there with the baby all afternoon. I could hardly contain my excitement.

She was everything we thought she would be and more.  Beautiful, angelic, perfect. That is the absolute truth. But what impressed me even more than the preciousness of this child Continue reading

The Tiny Pink Suitcase I Can’t Put Down

picket-148325-mThe truth is, I don’t really know what was going on. I witnessed a small drama and, as we are all inclined to do, I overlaid it with my own narrative, which may or may not have been accurate.

Here are the facts, no interpretation or assumptions. Just what I saw. You can decide what you think was going on: Continue reading

A Question My Grandmother Probably Didn’t Ask

Miss Ruby – as my grandmother was known to her friends- was a hardworking, dignified Southern lady. Her husband (my grandfather) died tragically when their children were very young. She raised my Dad and my aunt as a single parent, working two jobs, opening her home to boarders, and selling cakes and pies she baked from scratch.

She had a lot of wisdom and wow, was she resourceful! But I can’t imagine she had the luxury of choosing the ideal timetable for any of the major decisions she had to make. She couldn’t take extra days or weeks to consider her options; she had bills to pay, repairs to make, kids to clothe and feed. I expect she was in survival mode much of the time. Continue reading

Are You Fashioned for Joy?

I came across a Gaelic prayer this week that began:  “As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, you have fashioned me for joy.” Have you ever considered that? That you are “fashioned for joy”? Is it really possible God intentionally designed and crafted us for joy?

Sometimes it sure doesn’t seem like it.

If the prayer were true, joy would be as foundational to our daily experience as our hand holding a morning cup of coffee or our eyes seeing the hour on the clock. Joy would be natural … and obvious … and so automatic as to barely require thought.

And yet.

There are people in my life – not just acquaintances but friends – who are battling fear-inducing, seemingly insurmountable challenges: treatment for a life threatening disease, a child’s mental illness spiraling out of control, deep betrayal, job loss, marital breakdown, incarceration. These dear people are experiencing life’s lowest blows and I wonder, how are they to find or exude this joy for which they were created? Continue reading

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