Sunday, December 30, 2007


It's funny how, once you've gotten over someone you were once interested in, things that were once endearing to you (like mismatched socks or quirky habits) about the person you once admired become disenchanting and ridiculous.

Of course, this thought is not the result of one specific incidence of unrequited pining, just a realization which I happened upon during a quiet moment in my head, a moment when an accumulation of loose ends actually becomes a recognizable pattern.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One of my favorite Christmas Hymns

The tree of life my soul hath seen,
laden with fruit and always green.
The trees of nature fruitless be
compared with Christ the apple tree.

Its beauty doth all things excel;
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
the glory which I now can see
in Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought
and treasure dearly I have bought.
I missed of all, but now can see
'tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil;
here I will sit and rest awhile.
Under the shadow I will be
of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Its fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
it keeps my dying faith alive,
which makes my soul in haste to be
with Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

What Resonates

"Ecstasy and delight are essential to the believer's soul and they promote sanctification. We are not meant to live without spiritual exhilaration...The believer is in spiritual danger if he allows himself to go for any length of time without tasting the love of Christ...When Christ ceases to fill the heart with satisfaction, our souls will go in silent search of other lovers." -Maurice Roberts (The Thought of God)

What about when it's not our fault that Christ has ceased to fill the heart with satisfaction? What if it's been so long we have forgotten how it feels to sense ecstasy and delight?

The God who made the world and everything in it, being the Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us for, "In him we live and move and have our being" -Act 17:24-28 (ESV, emphasis mine)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Ultimate Costume Change

I don't know if it's been the prolonged drought in the Southeast or the unusually long warm season we've been experiencing. Or it could be my previous failure to attend to such detail, but the trees have been changing in a way I've never seen before.

I'm used to trees changing their color all at once, overnight from green to red, then a few weeks later naked branches catching the breeze. This year however, most of the trees I've seen are three colors at once - red at the top, fading to an orange or yellow center, and still green on the bottom and inside. I feel like I've caught them in a privately sacred act of changing their seasonal garments.

And the show has been delightful.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

On Taking the Next Step...

Walk forward now in the light you've been given. Do not bemoan the darkness ahead.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I Need This Reminder

'Whether we think of or speak to God, whether we act or suffer for Him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than His love, and the desire of pleasing Him. All that a Christian does, even in eating and sleeping, is prayer, when it is done in simplicity, according to the order of God...In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is a continual prayer."
-John Wesley

"One may long, as I do, for a gentler flame, a respite, a pause for musing. But perhaps there is no other peace for the artist than what he finds in the heat of combat. 'Every wall is a door,' Emerson correctly said. Let us not look for the door, and the way out, anywhere but in the wall against which we are living. Instead, let us seek the respite where it is - in the very thick of battle. For in my opinion, and this is where I shall close, it is there. Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves. Perhaps, then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear, amid the uproar of empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, the gentle stirring of life and hope. Some will say that this hope lies in a nation, others in a man. I believe, rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate frontiers and the crudest implications of history. As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the ever-threatened truth that each and every man, on the foundations of his own sufferings and joys, builds for them all."
-Albert Camus

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
-Galatians 6:9

Sunday, October 7, 2007


Come stone, dry bone,
Come Ebenezer,
Come grace, come raise
This dead believer.
Be still, come kill
My sweet deceiver.
And turn from whence you've come.

Done death, old breath,
Done whitewashed tomb,
Done lost, done rust,
Done fruitless womb.
Come near, I'm here,
Done empty room.
And look at what you've done.

New flame, new name,
New soul and marrow,
New birth, more worth
Than many sparrow.
Done falter, fresh altar,
Burn smoke and sorrow.
And see new life is come.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Lie of Well-Roundedness, or Why No Man is Really an Island

I guess I have been meaning for a while now to get this down in writing, but I've been spread thinner than "gold to airy thinness beat" as John Donne so nicely put it. Subsequently it's been bouncing around in my brain, picking up speed until I had a chance to sit down and put paper to pen...or keyboard to screen, in my case. Anyhow, the fact that I've hardly had a minute slow enough to write this just augments the point I've been meaning to make, that I have once again become caught up in the lie of well-roundedness.

Here is what I mean. For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in countless activities which have, thankfully, provided me with copious opportunities to decide who I am and where I'm going. Piano lessons didn't last long. Ballet only slightly longer. Soccer nearly a decade. Show choir. TNT. First Priority. Community Service. Church of God State Youth Leadership. Not to mention school and church. (Is this starting to sound like a resume? I apologize.) And all of this before I received a high school diploma, with honors of course, because universities actually care about that sort of thing (or so I'm told). One would think that when I hit college and started discovering a little bit more about who I was, I would begin to pare down and focus my efforts in one or two directions. On the contrary, my schedule only became more discombobulated with a hectic class schedule now involving professional training time, social justice, various ministries, intramurals, making meals and cleaning house, bible studies, study groups, getting a job, etc. etc. etc. Once in a while I might even revert to satisfying those basic needs like fatigue and hunger.

And I get the creeping feeling that I'm not the only one thinking "Stop the world! I want to get off!" I think this is pretty typical of college students and twenty-somethings, and maybe it gets better with age. Or maybe it gets more monotonous as we learn to handle a hectic routine. But what answer do I so often hear spoken or implied for why I run myself absolutely ragged? "We just want you to be well-rounded."

Oh, well that makes everything worthwhile. Right?? I mean it's great that I can be anything I want to be and that I don't have to worry about being stuck in a job I hate for the rest of my life because I can just change my specialty or get another degree, or six or seven. Surely if nursing doesn't work out I can just be a folk singer, if that fails then a chef, and if all else falls through at least I'll be married by then with 2.47 children and a dog and 3.6 masters degrees and no more clue about where I'm headed than when I moved into my dorm freshman year of college. How encouraging! Maybe I'm exaggerating just a little.

When did everyone become required to be a Jack of all trades instead of just two or three trades, the ones that bring Jack the most joy in life, the one's that best fit Jack's God-given gifts, the gifts that Jill and Joe don't have because they have other gifts that Jack doesn't have? Maybe this is why Jack's feeling pulled apart at the seams. Cultures that appear to us much more "primitive" may just have more of a handle on their own identities in terms of individual giftedness and how they fit into the bigger picture. If they go to college (which, don't get me wrong, I wish everyone could) it's for the purpose of a vocation. If they don't, this specialization starts earlier. But I haven't, in my tiny limited view of others cultures, see such an emphasis on production or convenience or immediacy.

If I am well-rounded, then I can purportedly be self-sustaining, but I don't know if that's such a good idea. If I can be and do everything, then I don't need other people. And they, in their well-rounded individuality don't need me. What happens when I run into something I can't do, or when I get lonely, for crying out loud? How do I communicate that need if I've never needed anyone before? A fine example of this is our world economy, where sweat shop workers are pieces of a well-oiled machine, where exchange is in the form of information, where small farms who aren't using chemicals to produce more faster (or growing too much and then "dumping") are going out of business, and anyone who can't keep up simply perishes. Why buy from a local artist, farmer, tailor, whatever when you can go to Wal-Mart where they have everything?

Because it's cheaper and easier. Because we're stretched to the max with activities from morning until night and we don't have time to take the scenic route. The route where we stop and talk to people along the way. Where we notice when the leaves are changing colors and we are in touch with our families and communities. Where we can be the good samaritan because we're not in a hurry to get to church by 9 o'clock sharp. Where we can read a good book or take a trip to somewhere we've never seen before. Where I need what you give and you need what I give. Where a three-in-one community-oriented God looks with joy on the lovers he made who are pushing and pulling and heaving together, not against each other, and not each on our own isolated road.

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." -Mother Teresa

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Down in the depths of my heart. Where?

I had a really nice conversation yesterday. The niceness may have been more related to my partner in conversation than the content of our discourse, but regardless, it's still a slice of time I have rewound and played over and over in my head in the hours since (even possibly at the neglect of more important subjects on which I should have been focusing my attention).

Every time an experience like this happens, the scripture that resonates in my head is "she treasured all these things in her heart." I have heard addresses delivered, usually by men, on what, exactly, this means. Mostly it boils down to the fact that she meditated on her experience. But, inasmuch as I understand the way she thought about events of particular meaning, a word as simple as meditated just seems so unsatisfactory. It falls short.

I think women meditate on things in a way that men will never be able to understand, just because of differences in the way we're wired. We take special moments and "treasure them up in our hearts." As Sarah Grace so eloquently put it, we decorate them. That's not to say we embellish the truth of what actually happened, but we contemplate with the knowledge that our feelings on the subject are unique to us alone. We remember the feeling as much as the event. We do not only replay memories, we nurture them and guard them, as if they were locked in a room to which only we have the key.

Maybe this is also why we can bring up memories at will (sometimes in an accusatory fashion, sorry guys) of which the unfortunate men in our lives seem to have no recollection.

But yesterday I felt like my heartstrings must have hummed with the same resonance as Mary's did in some far-gone century.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Posterchild for Scotch Guard

I never make it very far with coffee. At least some of it always ends up as a part of my wardrobe. Usually this is in the morning, and I am stuck with that awkward stain all day.

But it's totally worth it for the conversations I get to have over said coffee. My life is rich.

Thanks be to God.

"Come, come whoever you are.
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow
a thousand times
Come, yet again, come.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

It's Been A While

I guess it's time for me to start writing again, since people are actually starting to tell me in person that I need to update. Have I forsaken the task of life documentation because of lack of time or lack of anything interesting to say? Maybe it's a combination of the two.

In short, my two weeks in Kenya were hard and beautiful and healing. I miss so many things about Kenya, but I'm also glad to be home where God is doing exciting things within my heart and among the people I know.

I also led a three day backpacking trip for incoming Samford freshmen. Despite some minor bumps in the road, it went fabulously and it felt really good to do something I thought I could never do. And I developed some really neat relationships in the process.

The new apartment is great. Haley and I are obsessed with it. I wish I could stay here all day.

And now I'm only two days into classes and already feel like I need a break. I'm excited about the emphasis on community - both building community and/or plugging into one. It has really been stirring in this heart of mine for a while now. I get antsy about it because I'm so enthralled. But there's a lot of communities I'm trying to mentally reconcile and balance in my own head and, on top of this, my to-do lists are exanding into oblivion.

Shiloh was a much needed respite and refueling this evening, and God provided me with some very poignant words and images to renew my weary spirit. First, when April spoke of God drawing us to himself, a phrase which I've heard close to a thousand times, the first image that came to my head was from this past weekend at Council retreat when I had the joyous task of taking care of five-month-old Owen Pitts for Brian and Renee. It's Friday afternoon, there's no one else in the house; I'm sitting on the couch with my feet propped up, watching the rise and fall of baby Owen's back as he lays curled up sleeping on my chest. He has the occasional habit of burrowing his head into my collar bone, but his limbs are drawn up perfectly underneath him and all is quiet and right in the world.

This mental picture brought to mind the scripture where Jesus says "come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in yoke is easy and my burden is light." The literal translation of "easy" in the verse means "fitting" or "appropriate." This is how Jesus draws us in to give us holy rest - shabbat. Just like Owen was "easy" as he sprawled across my midsection, perfectly fitted between my arms and chin for rest, we are drawn into our heavenly father's arms for rest. And the space in which we dwell is fitting for us, is appropriate for our rest and comfort, because the Father knows exactly what we need, exactly how much we can bear, exactly how to bring us peace.

"A mother's arms are made of tenderness, and sweet sleep blesses the child that lies therein." -Les Miserables

"For the Sabbath was created for man, and not man for the Sabbath" -the bible

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Was reading back over old journal entries last night, and I found one that I find especially applicable to myself at this moment. Maybe I know myself better than I thought:

..I realized today that I struggle with discipline (which I always knew), but that because I feel so frustrated and bored at being disciplined, I'm actually squeezing God out instead of a leaving a space for Him to fill and dwell. All He asks of me is to rest - which is why He created me with such a penchant for solitude. And failure to rest is the worst weapon I use against myself and my God. It throws my whole universe off balance. And not just bodily rest, but spiritual, emotional, and mental rest. Peace. Quietude...

I'm leaving for Kenya on Friday morning. I'm feeling grateful. Still have some mixed feelings about it, but I'd rather take this emotional (and otherwise) risk than not.

Was also advised today that I need to grieve my trip to Swaziland (or lack thereof). I think this is probably somewhat true. Although I don't believe there is waste in God's economy, it truly was a loss.

Prayer is appreciated.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Friday, June 8, 2007

A Word Of Explanation...or something...

This will be difficult.

Since February, I have been planning to make a great leap and embark on one of the biggest adventures of my life - two months in Swaziland. God has been incredibly faithful in providing the means for me to go, and I have been overwhelmed by the support I have received from family and friends. Before actually leaving the country for our African destination, our team goes through a week of training camp at the AIM training compound in Georgia. Night 3 of training camp, my world falls apart.

Through a number of painful circumstances and prayers, God says something along the lines of 'your number one mission is not to save the world, or go to Swaziland, or whatever else you have been preparing for. your number one mission is to trust Jesus and be obedient to that calling, and now is not your time to go to Swaziland.'

What else can I do? Where do I go from here? I am back in Birmingham, more confused than ever about who I am, who God is, why all this has happened. I am full of fear and sadness and guilt and feelings of failure. My strongest impulse is to isolate. What will people think? What does this mean for me? What am I doing here? Am I crazy? Is this all just a big mistake? What is true? Why am I still afraid? All of this is a mystery to me.

In some moments I am at peace knowing God is a god of redemption and power, not discord. Most of the time I just want to crawl out of my skin and disappear.

Now, as I'm unpacking my suitcases and washing red Georgia dirt from my clothes and reading birthday cards meant for July and notes of encouragement for the mission field, I feel like a grieving person cleaning out the house of someone who has just died.

Here is what I am sure of:
1. I am creation. Because of Jesus, God looks at me and sees no flaw.
2. God is sovereign.
3. God is the God of the oppressed in Birmingham AND in Swaziland. There is God's work to be done everywhere.

I apologize for my candidness here, but if we cannot be honest with one another in the body, then where can we truly be who we are? And now I invite your honesty. Feel free to ask questions or speak truth to me.

"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten..."-Joel 2:25

Sunday, June 3, 2007

On the Brink

The other night when I was watching the national spelling bee with my family, one of the spellers said that he fights off nervousness by metaphorically picking the wings off of the butterflies in his stomach. It sounds like something I would trying to do.

In about eight hours I will leave the comfort of my home, and in four more the comfort of my family. I will adopt a new family of about 15 people. I'm thrilled and anxious out of my mind. I feel like I've been waiting for this day since I was born, but for some reason there's a little tiny voice saying "Turn back now! Egypt is so safe!"

I was born to take this step. I know this is right. God has brought me here.

It would have been so different if I had been at this juncture a year ago; I am not who I was. I cannot think of a better place to be springing from than the place I am right now in my spiritual, emotional, and intellectual understanding. It is for these same reasons that I am so hesitant to go. I will miss the things which have brought me to this place; the past nine months, and especially the past four weeks or so, have been incredibly formative for me. I'm finally free. And I no longer have anything to run away from like I would have a year ago, only people and places I am sad to leave.

My even-keel since of peace is periodically disrupted by thirty second epidosdes of sheer panic. What in the name of all that is holy am I about to do?! Two months!

Only two months - they'll be gone before I know it, and I will return a different human being.

God, ground my spirit in holy community, binding us all together in perfect love. I have not been given a spirit of fear. If you say go, we will go. Jesus, you are the reason why.