Monday, June 29, 2009

Moldy Oldies

I did a thorough cleaning of the refrigerator yesterday. It's amazing how something can be so revolting and so therapeutic all at the same time. It wasn't that I was especially in the "mood" to pull everything out, empty the leftovers from last Thanksgiving, and scrub out the tupperware. Actually, it was more out of necessity than anything. See, I had just bought groceries. All of the new turkey bacon and strawberries needed a home, and that required that I roll up my sleeves, don the rubber gloves, and get down to business.

Coincidentally, I had just started a new devotional that very same yesterday. For the next 40 days I will be intentional about giving up the time I would normally be doing something in particular - in this case watching tv (I am, after all, a nanny...though I've never tasted a Bon Bon) - and instead spend that time working through the Scriptures and questions in this devotional.

Well, after I had finished working through the devotions for last evening I headed out for a 30 minute drive to pick my husband up from the airport, and I decided to do something drastic - turn off the radio and pray.

First I chatted with God about how excited I was to be doing this 40 Day Journey, and I told Him that I wanted Him to challenge me and change me (yada yada yada), then I found myself asking a question. "Why don't I pray anymore?" Yes, I was asking God why I don't pray, because I've thought about that question often and I couldn't come to any conclusions. "You know, Lord. You know why I don't pray. You know my heart."

Then it hit a ton of anything that's sudden and painful.

When you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.
~Psalm 4:4b

I knew at that moment that I would know the answer to my own question if I had been taking the time to sit silently and to search my heart. It had been so long since I turned off the music, the tv, the people, the thoughts, the noise and silently sat and searched.

Then I thought back a few hours to my putrid refrigerator. I had to clean it out, I had to go through it and find the stuff, I had to make room for the fresh, good things. I took the time, searched through everything, dealt with the problem areas, and it paid off opening up so much space.

My heart is, shamefully, like my refrigerator. It has gone way too long without a good, thorough cleaning. As I drove to DFW at 10:30 pm, I found plenty of mold growing on things in my heart - things that I had pushed to the back instead of working through right away. Some I had even forgotten were in there because I hadn't wanted to deal with them.

But just like me (the domestic marvel that I am) and my refrigerator, God has so many good things that He wants to give us if only we'll take the time (and the silence) to do a thorough search and deal with the messes that have been growing in the far back corners of our hearts.

Spiritually speaking, it's time for me to roll up my sleeves, don some rubber gloves, and get down to business. It'll stink, but I want to have room for the strawberries.

Friday, April 24, 2009


They glanced around at each other awkwardly, avoiding eye contact with him. A few mumbles could be heard, but the wind drowned them out quickly and he didn't seem to notice. Finally, Philip broke the silence.

"I don't want to be the wet blanket or anything, but we're pretty much in the middle of nowhere...and there are a lot of people. There's nowhere to find enough food - not even close. Why don't we just send them home and they can buy bread on the way?"

He looked disappointed as he listened to his friend talk. "They've already followed us for three days. They won't make it back. They'd collapse before they ever made it home."

There were a number of frustrated sighs let out at this, but Philip wasn't going to argue any more.

"How many loaves do you have?" he asked.

"Seven," they replied with the kind of sarcasm that really meant, " you want us to break them into 4,000 pieces?"

He climbed up onto a rock and called to the crowd to sit down. He raised his eyes to heaven and thanked God for the seven loaves and few small fish they were able to scrounge together, then he handed them to his friends and asked them to pass them out to the starving crowd.

The people ate and were satisfied.

After he had fed them he sent all the people away and asked his friends to help him clean up the mess. They went around in groups of two carrying a basket between them and picking up the broken pieces of food that were strewn on the ground.

They couldn't believe their eyes - each group had collected a whole basketful - James and John had two!

Then Thomas piped up, "Didn't he just do this last week?"

My husband gave a sermon on this passage, and his tag line that he repeated throughout was, "God loves to meet your needs." Christ's words in Mark 8 begin with "I have compassion on these people," and that compassion - not their need to see a miracle - drove him to provide for their needs. He wanted to take care of them. He wanted to provide for them. He loved to meet their needs.

Both times that Jesus fed the large crowds he asked his disciples what they have, what they were able to pull together. They searched all around and gave him everything they found to see what he would do with them, how he would use them to meet the need.

Seven loaves of bread cannot feed 4,000 men. A few small fish cannot feed a crowd of women and children. That meal was completely insufficient for them...until it was in the hands of Christ. When the meagre spread was received with gratitude by the Son of the Living God he turned it into a feast that not only satisfied the need, but gave them a souvenir of God's faithfulness to take home with them.

We don't have much. Sometimes it looks like what we have is completely insufficient for our needs. We come to God with nothing but a couple of humble paychecks, two cars, our health, a little bit of free time, and a whole list of needs. By all accounts it's not enough, but that's before it touches the hands of Christ.

When we give our resources over to him - not hiding the fish in our pockets, and not saying our bread will never be enough - but hand them over to him wholly, he loves to meet our needs. He takes compassion on us, and blows us away with what he can produce.

But sometimes it's hard to remember that when all you're holding is seven loaves of bread and a few small fish.

But I guess I should trust him by now. Didn't I just see him do this last week?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Needing the Weeds

It was a long walk - a very long walk - and a dry walk. The air was dry, the ground was dry, and my throat was dry. I kept my eyes on the ground watching for scurrying animals or, even worse, scorpions. There was tall rustling grass just plagued with ticks, I could feel it, and dry underbrush that was home to some rattlesnake nest I'm sure I was close to trampling.

We walked through the gulley following the very non-descript map we had been given and it was feeling a little eerie. The trees were dead. The grass was dead. That armadillo was dead. Everything, it seemed, had been drained of life and I gave up any hope of seeing something that was thriving in that deserted place.

Then, in the basin of the parched gulley, we came across the weeds. The ground was dry and cracked all around it, and the bright green of the leaves lay in stark contrast to the gray-brown dirt which surrounded them. There was no moisture in the dirt, but somehow these weeds had been able to grow strong, to dig in their roots, and even to multiply. In the middle of such a desperately dry place the weeds took on a unique kind of beauty.

They were life.

Now don't get me wrong, I know they were just weeds. They had no colorful flowers. No long intricate stems. No intoxicating aroma. In any garden they would've been an eyesore, but in the middle of what could otherwise be deemed a wasteland, they were awesomely beautiful. Life had grown out of a dry, cracked riverbed and stood (albeit 1/4 in. off the ground) as a testimony that it was, indeed, fertile ground.

I've had a lot of "dry seasons" that closely resemble the Texas landscape. Parched and cracked and desperately needing refreshment while the proverbial vultures wait on the branches overhead for me to give in. I go through seasons where I just feel empty of all life, and it's hard for me to remember what life even looked like in me.

When was I ever refreshing? When was I ever weighed down by His fruit? When was the last time someone stopped to look at the beauty in my life?

But there are also those weeds that somehow seem to pop up without any nourishment or any warning: an encouraging word from someone, a tearful prayer, a moment of meaningful worship, or sudden clarity about a verse of Scripture. They're nothing fancy - no elaborate spiritual masterpieces. These are just small, simple things that stand as testimony in my life that, however dry or desperate the terrain may be, the Spirit is never done with His work in me.

I'm learning to love the weeds. They let me know I'm still alive.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.

~Jeremiah 17:7-8

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


you've been with me
so long
now I want to know

I want to hear you
say your name
in your voice
tell me who you are
show me what you're like
reveal your heart to me
all the good that's in you

come to me
speak to me
but only pass by me

because I'm afraid
of who you are

And the LORD said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you and I will problaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live."
~Exodus 33:19-20

Alone on a mountaintop Moses pleaded with God to give him some answers. The LORD had shown Himself faithful time after time throughout the entire story, but at this point in Moses' need he just wanted to see God.

God, in all His goodness, holiness, mercy, and compassion chose to reveal Himself, and yet conceal Himself. He gave Moses the glimpse he was asking for, the promise and hope he craved, and the intimacy and presence for which most of us are too timid to ask. At the same time, who He is was too much for Moses, and in His mercy He witheld enough of Himself to spare Moses' life.

This is God in Exodus. This is God as He reveals Himself to His chosen people, fulfilling the promises He made to them in the beginning.

This is the veiled unveiling.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


"I will"
I said
and you laughed

I reminded you
when you lied
(and stole, and cheated)

I repeated it
when we fought
and you walked away

My words
are yours
to have and hold

not because you're beautiful
but because they're mine

I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
~Genesis 28:15b

That promise, that hope, that faithfulness that God promised to Jacob when nothing seemed to be working out or making much sense...that is the theme of Genesis. Beginning in the Garden God has been working all things toward completion, and He will not stop until He has kept every last one of His promises.

God promised Abraham and Sarah, and they laughed.
Jacob stole his way into the promise, lied to his father, and cheated his brother. Jacob wrestled with God himself then demanded a blessing.

But no matter what happens (or happened) to merit His rejection, His promise is trustworthy because of who He is and because He is the one who made it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ramblings of a rusty writer

I haven't written in a while. Well, I have written, but it was more to fill space than anything. I guess I'm just in one of those funks where it's not only hard to find the time to write, but when I do sit down, nothing comes. The following are 3 things that "flowed", for the most part unedited. They're not very good, and they're not intended to be. They are merely my efforts to get myself going again - a jump start, if you will. Please don't judge me (or my writing) based on what you see here. Judge merely my effort to get myself back to doing something I love.

Writer's Block
Searching, pulling, reaching (fishing)
hoping to find something
that reminds me of yester(day)(month)(year)

fingers tracing, pointing (cold)
wishing to grasp
an idea
(not even a masterpiece)

sighs falling from my mouth to the floor
with a thud
longing to be light again
to be full again

sighs that can't seem to find the words.

The Poet
She sits, uninspired
twirling a pen
between her cold fingers

The baby squirms on the floor
reaching for a toy,
finding satisfaction with a sock

There's a fly in the window
*tap tap tap*
trying to find an opening

She cracks the window
the fly escapes (the baby cries)
"Looks like snow"

She scoops up the child
turns out the light
and walks through the dark room

"I hope something inspires me tomorrow."

Confessions of an English Major (and double writing minor)
I was almost a math major. I really don't like Brit Lit. My "ideal evening" does not include settling in with a good book. I still claim that Crime and Punishment is my favorite book even though I haven't read it since that one time in high school. I love poetry, but only from certain eras and certain authors, otherwise I just don't get it. I've never read The Canterbury Tales, even though I took an entire course on Chaucer in college. I rarely ever proofread. I haven't written down most of my "good" ideas because I don't have a long enough attention span to complete them. I have a number of plays in my head that no one will ever know about or see. I don't think I'm a very good writer and I'm very rarely pleased with my work. I hate journaling. I've lost most of the hard copies of everything I wrote before and during college and I never saved my grad school writings, so they perished with my hard drive. I notice every time someone says "I'm doing good" (in case you're not uptight about it like I am, you're not doing good, you're doing well). I like poetic language, so poems or prose that have lines like "her sticky lips pressed / together" irk me (this is also why I don't like country music). I'm really bad at grammar. I studied Old English which, although beautiful, has proven to be completely useless. I don't have the patience to endure most novels. I'm still not completely sure of all of the symbolism and motifs in The Heart of Darkness. I never read The Scarlet Letter because I had the Cliff's Notes for it. In college I claimed that my spiritual gift was B.S. I don't like editing. I'd rather watch the movie than read the book.