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How to Do Less Striving (And More Living in Wonder)

Jesus is a Mighty Beauty. I wish I could really get this into us. Preach it to the church, you know. That Christianity isn't about keeping rules, or defending systems of dogma or one-upping others, or having all the right answers, or even having our act together. Christianity is about walking daily here in this dirt and this filth and this wreck, alongside a Mighty Beauty. There is a great Some One who who wants to live our ordinary life with us. We could live in awe of Him. Of the One who transforms us from the inside out. As we rub shoulders with Him, keep our eyes on Him, ask Him for His thoughts and do the sort of things that He did, we actually become like Him. That is compelling to me. It's the kind of stuff that ignites fire in my bones and gives me hope for the w[...]

Why We Can Pray (And Then Rest)

Miracles still happen. But they often happen in the dark unexpected places, the places where no one’s really looking. They’re quietly happening. Because you pray and you hope and you wait, seems like forever you wait, and you don’t see anything good or glamorous, yet.  But you planted those seeds with your prayers and you watered them with your tears and sometime when you weren’t paying attention, things were growing. Slowly, slowly growing. Little heart, didn’t you know? Haven’t you heard that there’s a glorious Kingdom full of light? And love? And vibrant life? It comes slow and quiet like a dawning. It’s a strange paradox, this Kingdom. The here already and not fully realized yet. Sometime in the quiet of night, when the moon waxed full there was this breaking. You coul[...]

Dear Artist

Dear Artist, (Or Photographer, or Writer, or Musician, or Creative Maker of any sort of things,) You know that feeling you get, when you sit down to shape something new, and you feel stuck because you're pretty sure nothing you create is any good? It's that paralyzing feeling. That angst that makes you second guess yourself and so you figure you'll just go ahead and put away the camera, like for good. And shut down the lap-top from here on out and never scratch out another word or dry out the paint brushes and never pick them up again. But, something in you just won't let you quit. Because you know, if you don't create and if you don't sometimes share what you make, then you'll sort of wither away, little by little, there on your insides. That part of you that come[...]

Why It's Okay to Rest

Dear fellow human being, You have permission to rest. To walk outside and sit at the foot of a wild thing, and be ravished by it's ecstatic existence. Or to take a nap. Or read a book. Or just sit a spell and stare at nothing much, for a little while. You don't have to produce all the time. Or try to fix everything. You really can enjoy your life. If you're a sensitive person, this will feel strange. If you're constantly aware of the suffering in the world, you'll find it difficult to rest. You'll feel guilty that you can plant seeds, or water the garden out in the sunshine, while someone else is being oppressed. You will want to run around, relentlessly, trying to figure out how to save more people from harm. And if you're a "do-er" it will humble you to stop doing for [...]

The Girl Who Knew Best

Somewhere along the way, I become a Martha. Do you know what I mean? There's this story in the Bible. It's the story about how Jesus speaks into the lives of two women who are desperate for meaning and peace. It goes like this: Jesus is traveling around town, preaching and teaching and healing folks and Martha, (whose family is already good friends with Jesus and greatly loved by Him) invites Him over to her house. Which amazes me because I rarely invite anyone over to my house unless I'm good and prepared. She must have been good and prepared. The dishes were probably washed and the floor was swept and the windows were wiped down and the toilet was scrubbed. When I do finally have someone over to the house, I'm usually scrubbing the toilet RIGHT as they are walking in the door. [...]

Thoughts on Eight Years of Motherhood

One day, I had this baby. He was just a little thing with a whole lot of hair and a round face. I was nervous. I was scared to death in the middle of the night at that hospital, while my baby slept in the bassinet beside me because I had never been a momma. And now here I was, completely responsible for this intricately formed, tiny human being. But the music played on the CD that I had brought and in the night I cried through my fears and into God's comfort, "God of all I am, You are the Great I AM, holding all the world inside Your hands. Maker of all I see, Your love has captured me, More than all the grains of sand that fill the sea, You think of me."  (from the Praise Baby Collection) Deep down, I had mostly always wanted to be a momma. I had played it a thousand time[...]

When I Look Into Her Eyes

When I look into her eyes, I feel at home. My soul and all my inner angst calms down. I feel at peace. And I wonder for a little while, like, I just sit there on the couch holding her in front of me, gazing into her bright eyes, and I wonder, quietly, what it must be like to peer into the eyes of Jesus. Because when I look into my baby's eyes, I am looking into the eyes of someone who has never done anything wrong. And Jesus never did anything wrong. He was absolutely pure, through and through. Innocent. Good, in the most perfect sense of the word. Delightful. Like, my baby. I ponder that for a while and I let it settle in. Innocence. Purity. Goodness. Beauty. And when I'm thinking about these things, I tell you, my soul calms and I breathe slower and deeper[...]

On How I'm Learning to Be Steady in an Unsteady World

When I was in college, I remember sitting alone in the old A-frame "BSU" building. (BSU stood for Baptist Student Union. I don't know that any of us were consciously baptists. That's just what they called it.) Anyhoo. I was sitting there waiting to meet with the BSU director because, if I remember correctly, I was on a worship team, and so the director thought it would be a good idea to meet with the ones in positions of leadership, to make sure our souls were doing well. And I must clarify--I wasn't a worship leader, myself. I mostly just played guitar and sang a bit out of tune, but they were desperate for help, so I thought it would be "cool" to join in. By the way, I think that was the last time I actually felt cool, when I was carrying my guitar around campus. Now, I occasio[...]

An Unsappy Post about Love

Love is good. My friend (who happens to be the most loving person I know) told me once, “No one ever runs away from arms open wide. They run toward them.” This particular friend’s love has healed me on more than one occasion.  This is my life’s journey—to be the most loving person I can become. I want to be an unconditional love that heals like that. But, love is hard. It’s not what you thought it was going to be. You thought it was going to be like the movies. You thought it was going to be passionate. And romantic, always. You thought there would always be ardent desire. You didn’t know there would be morning breath. Or jeans left on the floor after you just picked up. Or dishes left in the sink, when they could have just as easily been stacked in the dishwasher. You didn’t[...]

Bubby and the Pickle

Back when I was a new momma, I used to blog funny little stories of my kids.  "Bubby" is nearly eight years old now, and he informed us a few years ago that we can stop calling him "Bubby" already. Sheesh. But anyways, here's an adventure from back when he was just a little punk. Enjoy! Hey Momma! What's that you got up there? Smells kinda funny. But, it must be good the way you're gnawin' on that thing. I could use a snack. It's been a whole ten minutes since I ate last and I'm famished. Hand that thing over. Wait! What the wing-nut is THIS? (Thump, thump) And why is it the consistency of fermented rubber? (Smack, smack.) What'd you do? Leave it out on the counter for weeks? This reminds of the time I got lost in Dad's shoe pile. I'd r[...]

A Prayer for My Friends

Hi, my friends. I was thinking about you today. And I was thinking about how I want this space to be a shepherding place. A place where you can come and have your heart tended to. I figure the world has knocked you around a bit. I know it has me. And so I just wanted to nourish you the way Jesus (and my community of friends) have nourished me. So, I'm praying this prayer for you today. Just rest and let me pray this over you, okay? And if there's ever anything you'd want me to write about, or a place in your heart where you feel stuck and need tending to, let me know and I'll ask God for some words for you to put here. You can always email me here: surprisedbyhope@yahoo.com A Prayer at the Beginning of the Week (For My Friends) God, Maker of afternoon light, Thank You for [...]

A Sunday Contemplation: How Church is Healing Me

I love my church. It's like medicine for my soul. I get bruised up a lot during the week. I go to church to heal. Maybe you wouldn't know I was healing if you looked over at me. Because usually I'm crying. But, crying is the way I heal. It's this great, frustratingly necessary release. It's funny though because it's really hard for us to get to church. At least, it's hard for us to get to church at a reasonable time. Brent and I had a spat about this on the way to church. Which means that we got to church but we arrived there frowning and ready to cuss. We've learned by now just to go there anyways. And we're learning that we don't have to pretend like everything is okay once we get there. But usually just seeing our other struggling-along friends that somehow managed to make it the[...]

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