Archives For rest

Psalm 16 for Pilgrims

June 30, 2014

thousand

I learned to draw perspective in fourth grade art class. My teacher had a tangle of salt and pepper hair with a shock of white near her left ear. I cannot remember her name. We drew roads, black and yellow, and buildings with angular windows, using our rulers with one eye closed. After that everywhere I went I saw triangles. Roads, stores, cars, floors, tables. Perspective made of triangles.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Two Fridays ago, my mother marries the man she’s shared a home with for nearly a decade. As I watch them pledge their troth to one another, I cannot help but think of perspective: how mine has changed, how hers has. Then I am in a pool, staring up at the covered lanai, made of squares, but not one of them a proper square, no matter how I looked. Then to a conference with 4000 other women, with stories and lives so very different than my own. Now I am back on the road again staring at the triangle-road stretched out, thinking about perspective.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

No matter how far or fast I drive today—over the Gulf Bay and Lake Ponchartrain, Route 10 over acres and acres of swampland, from the pine forests of Pensacola, through the cotton fields of central Louisiana, to the urban sprawl of Dallas—the widest part of the road always seems to be right in front of me.

All of the opportunities before me now feel broad and pleasant. I want to dip my toes in a thousand pools and test the water in every one of them. But farther ahead, where the road narrows and crests, it all seems scary and unknown. I know what to do today, but what about the thousands of tomorrows after that? It is not perspective I need, but perspective.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

God is for me, who can be against me? God is sovereign, who can thwart his purposes? God disciplines his children in love, why would I avoid it? God is on the crest of the hill, at the narrowest part, preparing a wider path of more joy than I can even hope for. This is the perspective I need. This is the perspective he gives.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Jubilee

June 19, 2014

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I was 13 when I knew I would be a writer even though definitions of verbs and adverbs and gerunds were still a bit hazy in my mind, not to mention my atrocious spelling. I came of age in the coming of age of spell-check which ruined it for us all. No idea how to spell anxious or brevity or volatile or naive? No problem. I wonder what will become of us now that most digital devices anticipate our words before we can spell out even their first few letters. We are already less than literate, now will we be less than half?

I’m no opponent of modernity, nor am I antagonistic to those who spend their resources grabbing up every new resource as it comes. I am writing this on a 15inch MacBook Pro, on which I spent more to get the anti-glare screen and super impressive pixel ratio. I wake up every morning to the alarm on my iPhone which gets me to work on time so I can learn and earn more so I can buy gadgets such as these. Praise God for GPS without which I’ll bet cities wouldn’t grow so fast so quickly.

Stepping back from the whole of it, though, the writing, the spell-check, the convenience, the anti-glare screen, (everything except the alarm), causes a kind of built-in pause, as it is meant to, and this morning I think about the year of jubilee.

Rightly understanding the law’s place is one of the gospel’s great benefits, but sometimes I lament that He who set us free indeed didn’t keep a few of the more beneficial laws around for good measure. The Year of Jubilee would be one I’d have kept because I’m very bad at resting and my guess is you are too. Because we can do everything faster, better, and more efficiently, we can do more and more and more until we’ve lost sight of why we’re doing it at all.

What are we doing anyway?

There’s much talk of obscurity and the normal and going about our business, minding it in light of the Gospel and little else, and this resonates deep in me. But I wonder sometimes if the reason we have this conversation at all is because minding other people’s business is so tres chic these days. “All up in your bizniss” in the street lingo. Sharing it all brings this strange delight, a false sense of togetherness and a true sense of coolness.

I used to think the word community was derived from common and unity, or together and altogether. But it’s not. Com: together and Munus: gift.

Gift, together.

In the Year of Jubilee, God’s people would return to their own land, and return the land they’d inhabited to its original owners. They would set free captives and slaves and servants. They would forgive debts. They would celebrate all year long the gift of God to them. They would community: gift, together. A long year of gifting.

When I set myself down and rest my mind and eyes and ears from all that which threatens to steal my joy, I think it’s the stuff of it all that steals it most quickly. Instead of feeling gifted to by what modernity has brought, I feel stolen from. It steals my time and my energy, my opinion and my coolness. Apart from all that I do or have, I am not cool after all.

But it turns out things don’t steal my joy, my need for them does

What is beautiful about Sabbath and Jubilee and rest, is when I’m set apart from what I do or have, I am nothing—and nothing is what I bring to the cross. Nothing enables me to gift everything and come, trembling and grateful, empty-handed, atrocious spelling, without GPS or alarm, come. Quiet and aware. Stilled and stayed. Comforted by nothing but His grace and love toward me.

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If you are a Villager, or you podcast The Village’s sermons, this weekend Matt is preaching from II Corinthians 5. If you struggle with doubt, I encourage you to listen. One of the things I love about my church is that it is a safe place to wrestle with sin and the brokenness that sin brings into our lives. As I’ve been reading Spiritual Depression by Martyn Lloyd Jones, I’ve been so freshly encouraged to be honest not only about my sin, but also the brokenness that trickles down as a result of it. Note: if you haven’t read Spiritual Depression, I cannot recommend it more highly.

From Chapter III:

What is the cure for [spiritual depression]? For the moment I shall give principles only. The first principle is evident: above everything else avoid making premature claim that your blindness is cured. It must have been a great temptation to this man to do that. Here is a man who has been blind. Our Lord puts spittle upon his eyes and says to him: ‘Do you see?’ The man says: ‘I see.’ What a temptation it must have been to him to take to his heels and announce to the whole world: ‘I can see!’ The man, in a sense, could see, but so far his sight was incomplete and imperfect, and it was most vital that he should not testify before he had seen clearly.It is a great temptation and I can well understand it, but it is a fatal thing to do. How many are doing that at the present time (and are pressed and urged to do so), proclaiming that they see, when it is so patent to many that they do not see very clearly and are really still in a state of confusion. What harm such people do. They describe men to others as trees, walking. How misleading to the others!

The second thing is the exact opposite of the first. The temptation to the first is to run and to proclaim that they can see, before they see clearly; but the temptation to the second is to feel absolutely hopeless and to say: ‘There is no point in going on. You have put spittle on my eyes and you have touched me. In a sense I see, but I am simply seeing men as if they were trees walking.’ Such people often come to me and say that they cannot see the truth clearly. in their confusion they become desperate and ask: ‘Why cannot I see? The whole thing is hopeless.’ They stop reading their bible, they stop praying. The devil has discouraged many with lies. Do not listen to him.

What then is the cure? What is the right way? It is to be honest and to answer our Lord’s question truthfully and honest. That is the whole secret of this matter. He turned to this man and asked: ‘Do you see ought?’ And the man said, absolutely honestly: ‘I do see, but I am seeing men as if they were trees walking.’ What saved this man was his absolutely honesty.

Now the question is, where do we stand? The whole purpose of this sermon is just to ask that question—where do we stand? What exactly do we see? Have we got things clearly? Are we happy? Do we really see? We either do or we do not, and we must know exactly where we are. Do we know God? Do we know Jesus Christ? Not only as our Saviour but do we know Him? Are we ‘rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory?’ That is the New Testament Christian. Do we see? Let us be honest; let us face the questions, let us face them with absolute honesty.

May Sabbath

May 2, 2014

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It was after writing this post through tears in the early morning hours that I remembered it was almost May. May means Sayable Sabbath month. Usually I feel ready for that 12th month Sabbath; I feel I’ve earned it, worked hard at my craft, swallowed pride, written my heart out for 11 months. But all I feel this year is guilty for how much I’ve hated writing for six months.

In November of last fall I began feeling like I’d lost my voice. I wasn’t sure where it had gone, all I knew was this was a different writer’s block than I’d ever felt before. Usually I press through, write anyway, exercise that muscle, and the words eventually come. But this wasn’t missing words, this was a missing voice.

I was asking the question, “Who am I?” in a way I never have before. I’m not a person who struggles with identity. I know my strengths, my weaknesses, and my proclivities. Every writer has to know a few things before writing a term paper or book: who am I and who is my audience? I’d perfected the answer to those two questions, but suddenly neither of them seemed right anymore. I didn’t know who I was and I certainly had no idea who my audience was.

When we lose our voices I wonder if this is simply God’s grace to us after all—since we are His and He is our only audience.

I think of Isaiah in chapter 6, standing before the throne of God, the seraphim around Him singing one refrain, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.” I think of Isaiah standing there with his head bent down, saying the words, “Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips.”

Do you feel the uncleanliness of your lips sometimes? Whether you are a pastor or a blogger or a mother or a son, do you feel the clutter and grime that spews from your mouth and your fingers? The realization again and again of how selfish and prideful and arrogant you are and how you cannot clean yourself up enough to stand before the Holiness of God?

I feel it. Oh, how I feel it.

It was a burning coal that cleansed Isaiah’s mouth but we are all looking for the nectar and sweet juice to cleanse ours. The affirmation of friends, the compliments of strangers. We want the feel good way to feeling good, not the burning coal, God, not the burning coal.

I have felt the burning coal these last months. Learning the hard way that I am a person of unclean lips and all around me are others with unclean lips. We who are being sanctified and being transformed are still so not. Look, and not too far, you will be undone too.

We do not Sabbath to give God his due, His 10%. We are not tithing our time, giving of our first-fruits. We Sabbath to remember we need Him. We do not need rest or stillness or peace or comfort. We need Him. We need a vision of Him and His holiness. We need a burning coal. We need to be undone. We need to be touched and sent. But only through Him, Lord of the Sabbath.

Normally I have guest writers for the month of May, but somehow that seemed cheap to me this year. I want Sayable to be still all this month, to Sabbath, and to offer to you readers the blessing of one less thing to read. I know that doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially for sponsors, but I’m willing to lose here. I want to lose here. I want to feel the burning of the coal on my mouth, my voice, my “platform,” and my pulpit. I want to stand before the throne undone.

My word for 2013 was rest and it wasn’t until yesterday that I saw the humor in it. I came into 2013 sleep deprived and exhausted. By the time I finished the year long theological training program in May (in which I needed to rise by 4:30am to make it to class on time), I wanted to swear off middle of the nights for the rest of time.

This year sleep has been my elusive friend and favorite companion. In other years I’d have said I was depressed, but this year was different. I honestly was tired. I was soul tired, heart tired, mind tired. I wanted emotional rest, yes, but really, I just wanted to rest.

There were so many times this year when I resented the sleep I craved. “What is wrong with me,” I’d ask myself. I’ve never been a snooze-button pusher and I would press it three, four, five times every morning. I’d keep myself up later than I needed, simply because the thought of more than seven hours of sleep sounded lazy, unnecessary, and entitled.

I know there are some of you who may roll your eyes at the luxury of being able to press the snooze button at all; your alarm clocks cry themselves awake intermittently through the night and early into the morning. It’s okay, there are other things you get that I don’t that are much nicer, so we’re even-steven.

As I reviewed my year, asking myself a dozen questions I ask every January 1st, I realized I’ve been given exactly what I asked for, rest, but I hadn’t seen it for what it was. God gives his beloved rest and sometimes that’s just plain shut eye. Sometimes what we seek is a haven, a quietness, a trust, and strength, thinking that will bring us rest, and rightfully so:

In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

But sometimes we just need to trust the times and sunlight and darkness, and just go to sleep.

I’m grateful I slept through 2013. It wasn’t the rest I thought I wanted, or craved, but at the end of the year it was the rest I needed. I can trust that because God never sleeps, never slumbers, always keeps watch over His children.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
Psalm 121

My word for 2014 is work. Let’s see how this one turns out ;)

Silent Sanctification

August 1, 2013

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I’ve written here for 13 years, about doubts, fears, concerns, questions, deaths, divorces, heartbreak, joy, moving, lessons, and learnings. In many ways this place is the very public working out of my salvation. Were you to peruse the archives you would find much poor theology and even more straight up narcissism. This page was my heart splayed out for anyone to read and I bled myself dry for it.

Last night I said to one of my closest friends that sometimes silence is the best sanctification, and I gave her a numbered list of all the things happening in my life right now that I can’t talk about publicly. At least not this publicly.

There’s so much of the blogosphere that lauds transparency and authenticity, but even that is rife with trophy stories and humble brags and I am strangled by the fear that I will join their ranks if I so much as whisper the numbers aloud. The truth is that even good things bring with them deep breaths and open palms. I do not know how this or that will turn out and I can’t even guess. And I don’t want to give you the opportunity to guess. Because I am selfish? Perhaps. Because I am fearful? For sure. But also because some things are best worked out in quiet, gentle, and still ways. Sometimes our rest is found there, in the stillness, in the mind’s sleep.

Sometimes writing in this place has been the best sanctification for me. But today silence might be my best sanctification.

In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
Isaiah 30:15

A Life Full of Sabbaths

June 10, 2013

It’s Wendell Berry all this month. I drink in his essays, turning words over and over in my mouth. I read him aloud, even when no one is listening. Last night as she spreads cornmeal on wooden boards, I read her three paragraphs to give context to the quote written on the chalkboard: Though they have no Sundays, their days are full of Sabbaths.

He speaks of the cedar waxwings eating grapes in November. But he penned the poem The Peace of the Wild Things nearby then and poetry is meant to speak of the mysterious in the mundane and so he speaks of us, or the hoped-for us.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This morning I read in Mark of Jesus healing on the Sabbath, the pharisees outrage, and the calm response of the Lord of the Sabbath: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

How we have forgotten that. How have we forgotten that?

She is leaving to get bread flour to bake round loaves in the brick-oven. Do you want to come with, she asks, dropping her prepositional phrase and picking up her purse. I am drinking coffee on the side porch and nothing could bid me leave the wild rushing of the river in front of me and the song of the orioles above me. This is my sabbath and I am made for it, I think.

The last time I was home was a year ago, in May, and I have waited a year for these few days. They are not exactly as I imagined in my mind, other duties and events capped its full breadth, but it is a few days at least of quiet and still. I was made for this week, I think. The coals burned hot in the brick-oven the other night and faces gathered around the tables, children everywhere, laughter lingering. A phone call from Malaysia from a globe-trotting brother: you always sound so happy when you’re home, he said, and it is true, except when it hasn’t been.

I have lived this year holding my breath, it seems, waiting for the mornings when I could sleep past 4:30 or when I at least didn’t have to hit the ground running, literally, as soon as I woke. I have lived this year waiting for Sabbath, guarding it with a fervor I didn’t know I had. If anyone came near it, I would square my jaw and shake my head: it’s mine!

I preened myself for my Sabbaths.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Whenever I rest and really rest, empty my head of expectations (yours and mine), listen, really listen, I remember there is nothing of my doing in salvation; that salvation is one long rest in the same direction. There is work too, obedience and sanctification, moments of weakness and moments of strength. But at its core and its very marrow, the work of salvation is rest, Sabbath. It is to say, again and again and again, I rest in You, Lord of Rest. I find my Sabbath in you, Lord of the Sabbath.

The work of salvation is to live a life full to Sabbaths, even when there is no margin and little space, when there is demand from every outside element and every inside emotion. This is to trust that a God who rested when His work was not done—even when it was good—to set an example for His people: You are not done, children, no, but it is still good. And so rest. You are not made for Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for you.

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May Sabbatical

April 30, 2013

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It’s been a year since my last writing sabbatical and I wish, oh I wish, I could say this May will be spent much like last May was. It won’t. But it will, however, be a sabbatical from this blog.

I always feel a bit guilty when I do this, but on the other side of a month away from the blog I am a healthier and happier writer. And this year I need it more than ever. I’m not sure what happened in the past year, but it still feels a bit like whiplash—a good kind of whiplash, but whiplash nonetheless. I’m writing regularly for multiple publications, trying to finish rigorous classes, coming off of an unbelievably busy March and April at work, still keeping up with 100 in 2013, prepping to co-lead a 12 week course this summer, and have a little more on my personal plate than I have stamina for.

I need a break.

And not only do I need it, God assures me there’s much joy in taking it.

This morning we read Isaiah 58 in class and I loved this short section:

If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly,
then you shall take delight in the LORD,
and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth. 

I don’t know about you friend, but I’ve been hobbling along in the valleys of the earth for quite a few months, riding on the heights sounds like a good plan. I’m grateful God designed our bodies to need rest and wish I was better about giving mine the rest it needs. But I’m going to just thank Him for the small ways we can step back and call the void of doing a delight.

While I’m gone I have a passel of friends who graciously fought all over each other to fill four weekly slots for the month. Why only four? Well, I suppose I figured a rest might be good for you too. These four ferocious friends are all steadies for me, men and women who love Jesus deeply and extol His name beautifully. I’m excited to share their words with you. I hope you’ll enjoy their posts and you’ll click through to their sites.

A post like this gives me an opportunity to just say thank you to all of you dear readers. It sounds a bit trite to say that, or I don’t know, gushing, but I truly mean it. As truly as I can mean it. I would still write without you, but it means so much to me that you all just keep coming back and telling your friends about Sayable. I read all your emails and am constantly encouraged by how transparent and hopeful you all are in them. Thank you for sharing your stories with me, telling me how much you love good theology, how it changes you and is changing you. Nothing brings me more joy than to know the God of the universe has dipped his hand to you and brought you to ride on the heights of the earth with Him.

He’s a good, good God.

See you on the flip side!

(I will have April’s 100 in 2013 up later this weekend, but that’s it. Promise.)

s t i l l

January 4, 2013

It came to me over lunch, baby carrots, blackberries, and tiny purple potatoes. I was reading, underlining a sentence I wanted to think about later.

Later. When later?

I took a deep breath and took another bite, letting the blackberry jewels burst against the roof of my mouth and the sweet juice fill every corner. I always mean to be part of the slow food movement but my life doesn’t let me. It is enough that I am a part of the whole food movement and it has to do for this season. Slow food, like slow reads and slow moments, take time and time is a luxury in these days.

And it came to me then: still. I thought the word for 2013 was going to be ask, but what if God was asking me to stop asking and just be still? What if He was saying, “Enough already, I’ve heard you, you persistent widow, you poor and needy, I’ve heard you. I’m on my way. Now be still.

Someone told me once a quote he’d heard, “Single men run better with a heavy load,” and I couldn’t help but feel it was applicable to me. I know how long stretches of idleness go for me and they never go well. I run better with a heavy load.

But what if God is pulling off the heavy load I’ve piled on, and asks me to stand still while He does so? Will I stand, like the child getting her shoes tied or the old man getting his hair cut or the woman waiting at the window, still?

I think about Still all afternoon. It smacks of someone left behind, but in its fullness, isn’t Still also something that is constant and steady, still going, still faithful? Isn’t Still an image of beautiful life frozen in time? Isn’t Still the act of being calmed, stilled? I have never wanted to be left behind and it is mostly all I have felt my whole life (Those are honest words, but God is Still faithful to me.), but what if being Still is the way God brings something beautiful to me?

What if this year He wants to be the Deliverer instead of me the offering?

What if this year He wants to be the Servant instead of me the savior?

What if this year He wants to be on the move on my behalf instead of me on His behalf?

What if this year, Still?

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A Trustworthy Saying

December 1, 2012

Suppose there is someone in your life you trust implicitly. Suppose on every issue you gladly turn to this person for wisdom, counsel, support, encouragement. Suppose this person loves you, has your best interest and God’s glory in mind. Suppose in every direction, whichever way you look at it, this person takes the proverbial cake. Except in one area.

Say it’s that they cannot bake a good cookie. This person repeatedly disappoints you, continually confuses you, and surprises you every time with how lousy their chocolate chip cookies turn out. No matter how you look at it you cannot make sense of this one small area.

Now, suppose that God asks you to trust Him beyond how you trust this person, and in spite of their continual failings in this area. Suppose that God says, “I know this person cannot be counted upon to make a perfect chocolate chip cookie, they continually forget necessary ingredients, and almost always burn the cookies, but that’s okay, trust Me, because my faithfulness supersedes theirs and always will. Trust Me.”

Now you have a choice: do you trust God (even though you’ve never actually seen God make a half decent cookie of His own) or do you keep your eyes on this person who, despite this one little thing, has never failed you yet?

That is the question, isn’t it?

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
Psalm 20:7

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How to Get Things Done in Time

November 13, 2012

A good reminder for me on days like today, in weeks like this week, and in whole seasons like this season, is that I have 24 hours to steward and so does everyone else. I feel acutely the reality that I have 24 hours, but it is often difficult for me to remember that everyone else I know also has only 24 hours.

I’m feeling pressed and crushed and persecuted and torn down. I’m feeling like there is never enough time or enough energy or enough hours in my day to accomplish what I feel like I need to accomplish.

A few weeks ago Tim Challies wrote about being busy and I go back to that post often, especially the last few lines,

“This is what disturbs me most, that my busyness, or the perception of busyness, makes me less effective in the areas in which I want to do well. That cost is too high to tolerate. So let me say it again, primarily to reassure myself: I’m not busy. I have all the time I need to accomplish the things the Lord has called me to.”

There are so many areas in my life I want to do and I want to do well. I don’t do much halfway and I rarely do anything if I don’t know that I can excel at it in some sense.

This is pride and while it simultaneously brings me to the end of myself and to the foot of the cross, it also simultaneously puffs me up and drains me out.

I ask a friend the other day why God would call us to something that we couldn’t follow through on all the way and the more I think about that question, the more I realize that the entirety of the Christian life is encapsulated there: we have been called something that in and of ourselves, and left to our own devices and power, we cannot ever be: righteous, whole, and holy.

I have 24 hours today and it took me eight minutes to write this post. On one hand I feel as though I wasted those eight minutes and I do not have eight minutes to waste today. On the other hand, though, I have to know that if God has called me to do it, He has given me all the time I need to accomplish it. That’s His promise to me. I only need to be faithful and trust He is at work within me and without me.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

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WHO TOUCHED ME?

September 27, 2012

It’s 8am and I slept in. It’s no secret in our house that my bed is the favorite—roommates take naps in it when I’m gone and sometimes they take naps in it when I’m in it reading or typing or staring. But mornings in my bed are my favorite and they are rare.

I told everyone who asked that this was the last week they could have a piece of me. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner filled up, and I hit last night going down hard. I knew it would be like this and I did it on purpose. I’m going to be saying no a lot in the coming weeks and months because saying yes to one thing means saying no to other things. God has built in an upcoming season in which I’ll have two projects that will need to take precedence, forcing me to say no, no matter how much I want to say yes.

A friend told me a few weeks ago that there’s a sense of celebrity in human-nature—everyone clamoring over everyone else to brush shoulders with someone else, network higher, garner more followers, get more likes, podcast more talks, meet more people, drop more names, and

I just want to stay home and drink tea.
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Last night in church I felt the spirit go out from me. I sat in the back row, the corner chair, and I felt tiredness creep up and the weariness set in. I felt lost in the crowd, seen and at the same time, unseen by the only One I want to see.

I was reading about the woman with the hemorrhage in the Gospels, she who dragged herself from her home, covered her face so she was unrecognizable, and touched the hem of his robe. “Who touched me?” he asked and his disciples were incredulous, “Who touched you? In this crowd? Who touched you? Seriously?

“I felt the spirit go out from me,” he said. “Who touched me?”

I stop on that and reread it. “I felt the spirit go out from me.”

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It’s easy to feel lost in the crowd, isn’t it? Where touch is pedestrian and plain, where being noticed feels impossible and oh so possible all at the same time? Where healing feels a hem of a robe away and holiness is near? Where we’re all so desperate to be noticed, to be known, to be heard?

I’ve been part of the crowd recently. I follow them. They follow me. We all run circles around the real One we want to see. We do ministry. We are ministry. We lift up the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees. We run in packs, rubbing shoulders with the people who are already in.

We even touch His robe once or twice, or at least touch someone who’s touched His robe.

But He’s not stopping the crowd for us. He’s not questioning His disciples for us. He didn’t feel the power leave Him when our hurried pressing met his woolen dressing.

That was reserved for the one who pressed through all of us just to get to Him.

Last night I felt the spirit go out from me, but not because I am like Jesus and know so acutely the spirit inside of me, but because I am flesh and blood, real and broken, and if I do not run to Him over and over again asking for more, I will feel the lack. There was no time this week, no time to press in, close to him, crowding out the other voices and distractions, to touch the hem of His robe for the healing of my bleeding soul. To take from him the Spirit He freely gives.

But to come close, to touch Him, He knows this and stops everything for that moment. He sees past the crowd and gives freely His spirit.

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You don’t get to be a successful introvert without having somewhat of a panicky gaze on your heart and head and all things you fairly constantly.

What I mean is, if you want to know who’s going to struggle with preoccupation of self more than anything, look in the mirror first, and then look to your left and right. We’re everywhere—you can’t hide from us. Why? Because we can’t even hide from ourselves.

The benefit of this self-awareness is that if you want to know what I think about any issue, you can ask me. I will probably have a litany of thoughts on which I have ruminated and masticated until they’re confiscated by some other mounting question. You want thoughts, I have thoughts.

The damage of this self-acuity is that when it comes time to put my eyes on someone or something else, I have so poorly trained my eyes in the direction they should go that I cannot hold my gaze for very long without looking away.

I can train this heart of mine to follow the tracks, but even that doesn’t stop the train from derailing. The only steady things sometimes are the rails themselves.

The train has been derailing for me this year. It began with a glance away from beautiful Jesus and faithful Father, and it continued downward until my eyes have been setting somewhere south of healthy. So it’s time to trust the tracks. Time to trust that training my heart will get me home and, oh friends, there is no other place I want to be than home.

The tracks for me are repentance and rest, quietness and trust—and if this post resonates with you, I would guess those are the tracks for you too. To do those things, though, it’s going to mean sacrifice and I’m willing to do that.

Here are three of the ways my sacrifice might affect you:

I. If you primarily come to Sayable from Twitter, nothing will change there for you.

II. If you come from Facebook and you aren’t a close friend, family, or colleague, I would recommend that you go over and Like this page. This is because I will be slowly be straightening the rails of life by keeping a close watch on what I ingest on social media—beginning by removing the amount of people on the friends list of my personal page.

III. I will also be shutting down comments on Sayable for a season. If you’d like to contact me, please do so through email, though understand it may take some time for me to respond.

I said above that I know my heart more than anything else I know, and the truth is that I love interacting with readers. I love hearing your stories. I love when you track me down, find me, and say, “Lore, your words, they have encouraged me and changed me.” I love that. I love it mostly because I love knowing that the deep and agonizing work God does in me results in deep and beautiful work in you. But I’m afraid that sometimes all the words coming back at me don’t bear the sort of fruit I want the beautiful work of God to bear. Please don’t read into that statement or assume it to mean anything other than what I am saying: I want the work that God does in me to result in good fruit. If it does not, I want Him to prune it.

Thank you for loving me well and thank you for space. Thank you for always encouraging and thank you for challenging. I long to write for Jesus, but He lets me write it for you too, and I’m grateful for that.

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Made for peace

December 23, 2011 — Leave a comment

Our home is a quiet one tonight. The baby (her words, not mine) of our family has gone home to New York for a week, the mature one has gone to bed (or to study for grad-school), the world-traveler is sleeping on the couch in front of me, and I am sitting here, in our collective favorite chair. The silver spoon turned wind-chimes sound outside and the heater hums intermittently.

I was born for quiet nights.

A year ago at this time I was still working from home, making tangible, touchable art every day, creeping by on pennies and coffee, and loving life more than ever before. Peace was everywhere I looked and I felt alive, so alive. I was born for peace.

I know this about myself.

And yet.

I let the commitments, the pro-bono work, the meetings, the small-groups, the good-bye parties and welcome home greetings, I let them crowd in until I am suffocating under the weight of a blocked out calendar. Three weeks ago I suffocated. I went down, down hard.

Unless you’re the Baby, the Mature, or the World-traveler, you might not know that because I kept a smiling can-do face on until Saturday night. But Saturday night I came home and crashed hard.

A combination of leftover pneumonia and a sinus infection are good excuses as anything to lay low for four days, and so I take them. I tell myself, “After Christmas, you will get things in order. You will sit down. You will think about life. You will think about what went wrong this fall. You will ask for grace. And you will walk in the Spirit.” And perhaps that’s true. Maybe that will happen after Christmas.

But tonight I’m grateful for a quiet house. For peace.

I am no stranger to asking God why He made me the way He did. Why this gift? Why this talent? Why this personality? Why this prone? Why? I ask it of Him more than any question perhaps. And it’s mostly because I’m so desperate to be faithful with what he’s given me. I want to be faithful with that measure of faith. But why does He pile on the responsibility, the weight of knowledge and the drive to do more than I’m capable of in the end?

Why has He borne me for quiet nights and peace, if my life is most faithfully used in the middle of chaos and need?

I don’t have an answer to that tonight.

I’m thinking a lot about Mary and why God chooses us on the merit of the miracle, but also gives us responsibilities that look less miraculous and just mundane.

That’s all, friends. That’s all.

 Just me. And our favorite chair.