In the Margins {Just As We Are}

pearl in clam

Of all the invitations we might send or receive, there’s one that can’t be beat.  Four little words strung together like beautiful pearls  — “Come as you are”.  And just like pearls formed around something as seemingly unremarkable as a grain of sand, He always invites us to come as we are, but never leaves us the way we are.  At the heart of it all is the miracle of transformation and restoration.  Yes, this is for you and me; with our questions and doubts, rough edges and brokenness, but made in His image, created for so much more.   Full of grace, these simple words let us know there’s a special place with our name at the table.  We are welcome here.

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In Quotes

“How beautifully the leaves grow old! How full of light and color are their later days!”

{John Burroughs}


fall tree 1

I found this quote at the back of a magazine last week as I waited in the doctor’s office on a gorgeous autumn morning.   Among others sitting in the room with me were several elderly people and, looking around at their faces, I thought about how each of them had a name and a story all their own.  They’ve celebrated many birthdays and no doubt earned every wrinkle around their eyes and each gray hair on their head.   They’ve seen countless sunrises and an equal number of sunsets; known ups and downs, joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, companionship and loneliness.   And I found myself hoping this quote described them too.

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In Quotes

“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor.”

{Old English Proverb}

 


ship in storm3

Is there anything in nature quite like the ocean to remind us of how small, how assailable we are?  I have very mixed emotions about the vastness of it all.  I don’t know how to swim.  So, a day by the sea usually involves sitting contentedly under an umbrella with a book in hand; soaking up the sound of rhythmic waves; the smell of salty air; and the panoramic view as banded shades of white, green, blue, and gray appear stacked on top of each other as far as the eye can see.   A walk on the beach in the surf’s ruffled edge;  collecting little treasures of driftwood, sea glass, and shells is pure relaxation.  How easy to lose track of time, lulled to sleep as the sun warms my face and seagulls call overhead. What’s not to love?

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In Quotes

“It is said that in some countries

trees will grow,

but will bear no fruit

because there is no winter there.”

{John Bunyan}


apple tree

 

Leave it to Bunyan (1628-1688) to make what appears obvious into something so much more.  I’ve had such a tree.  An apple tree.  Two years in a row with record warm winters meant there weren’t enough necessary chilling hours to produce fruit.   Still looking every bit like an apple tree, it didn’t yield anything.  It never broke dormancy.

Confession:  I’ve been that tree as well.  What is it about times of abundance and ease (let’s clarify; there’s nothing wrong with either) that can cause our hearts to slip into spiritual dormancy?  Times you’d think would naturally produce a bumper crop of mature fruit as temperate goodness characterizes most days, are instead often marked by stunted growth. 

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In The Margins {When Life Is Sweeter Than We Know}

parent and child 1

On a sweltering summer day twenty-some years ago, my husband was on our back porch just outside the kitchen door struggling to repair an old, worn out lawnmower which had stopped working mid-way through what was already his least favorite task.  Feeling equally worn out, dripping with sweat, and clearly frustrated by his failed attempts to fix it, his face and body language told the story.  I was busy cleaning and noticed our three-year-old daughter standing inside the door, intently watching him and saying something in a soft voice under her breath.  Curious, I walked up close enough to catch her words —  Good job, daddy; good job.   Everything in me melted.  Unmoved, she quietly repeated her encouragement till a while later he was able to get the mower started again.  He looked up to notice her face pressed against the glass, and with a quick smile and a thumbs up, went back to work, completely unaware of the love and pint-sized empathy extended to him from the other side of the pane.  As she stood there,  I realized her heart was ten sizes too big for her tiny frame.

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In The Margins {Simple Can Be Best}

 

coffee and succulent

Hello, friends — how have you been?   As summer wanes here in my little corner of the world, it’s nice to check-in with each other if only to be reminded through all the seasons of life, we’re not alone; particularly when experiencing the kind of testing everyone’s journey takes them through at some point in time.   If there’s something I can come along side with you to pray for, please drop me an email.  You’ve heard me say this before but I think it’s worth repeating: one of the most beautiful things about this commonality?

It doesn’t matter how similar

or vastly different our stories

may be in their particulars,

we share the same

fundamentally human need —

to know God is both present

and passionate about everything

that touches our lives.  

Especially in times of adversity.

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In The Margins {A Mystery of Grace}

woman umbrella

How are you, friends?   I’ve been slowly working my way through summer reading goals only because there’s a select group of books worth the extra time.  I’m not great at recall, so note taking is my best friend and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it!

If you’re anything like me, you find encouragement in the lives and stories of people who, even as they weather life’s storms, can say without duplicity: “You’re a good, good Father”.   These are the  Jobs of the world, seeking shelter in the never-changing faithfulness of God, knowing we don’t just set our sights on a desired outcome but rather on the promise that He is working everything for our good and for His glory (Romans 8:28).  Being convinced He uses all things, testing and blessing, as the mold by which we are “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29), these men and women are confident that through thick and thin, He will be faithful to complete His good work in them as they abide in Him.  (Phil. 1:6).  More than platitudes, this is the rock solid hope for every child of God.  Each of us is meant to follow in the footsteps of Job, unfaltering in trust and even worshipful in suffering (Job 1:21).

But, let’s be honest — it’s not always easy to embrace this upside-down thinking, especially when it’s so very different from what we’re told “living our best life” should look like.  It is a mystery of grace.

“We take comfort,

however, that mystery

is not a synonym

 for contradiction.”

{R.C. Sproul}

Turns out, these ordinary people show us with extraordinary example what it genuinely means to live, regardless of everything implied by comparison in those little squares on IG!  This beautiful life, showered in goodness and often visited by hard stuff, is far too layered and abstruse to ever really fit on our itty-bitty screens .

instagram logo

And so, meet William Cowper. But before you start reading and decide mid-way to stop because his story seems heavy, I want to say the purpose of this post is ultimately to introduce you (or re-introduce as may be the case) to poetic truth at its best!  So, keep reading — I think you’ll be glad you did.

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