Category: Faith

God Can Hold Our “Anythings”

God is feeling so big in my heart right now that it’s hard to go through the every day motions of washing dishes, listening to Umi Zumi stream in the background, vacuuming up dirt and tiny specs of glitter and sequins—the dress-up leftovers of two girls’ epic game of pretend.

I started reading a book called “Anything,” by Jennie Allen.

The question she poses goes something like this:
If this world is all we have, then why are we living so morally and well behaved?
But if God is real, then why aren’t we living like it? Why aren’t we pouring out our hearts, lives, passions, and possessions on God’s altar, and living all-the-way for HIM?

Why? Because I don’t want to be a zealot.
zealot (noun): a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

((“Because I don’t want to be a zealot,” the pastor’s wife said (and the congregation snickered.))

My feet are here in the mess of right now, but the spiral of pain and the difficulties of this life are out of my control. So my heart gets on tiptoes and tries to peek into God’s glory. I pray, “God give me more of you,” and it makes my head buzz with hope. But then this world keeps spinning in its pragmatic pattern. My tiny world keeps reeling from the same soundtrack of chores, and errands, books, and bedtime. It’s so hard to contain God’s glory in this ordinary life.

Mary had her feet planted on a dirt floor when she had a vision. When the angel left she had to go about the every day tasks of right now. Maybe she rubbed her eyes and wondered if it was real after her wonder wore off. But God grew inside her until she couldn’t ignore Him any longer.

I will keep doing these ordinary things, knowing God came in the most ordinary way.
But I will also lift my hands to Heaven, and shout, “Anything, Lord!” Have your way with my heart and life. And then I will doubt and try to take it back again. But it is already out there, my heart waits tentatively in the light, trusting that this great God will also be gentle and kind as he shepherds my lost heart home.

“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Revelation 7:12 (NIV)

“Anything,” starts with a tentative whisper, then grows like a fire in our belly, until we long for a story that is greater than our own plans can contain. A God we can cradle, yet whose glory our hearts cannot even grasp, yes this God is capable of everything—and we can be confident that He can hold our, “anything.”

How to Get Through the Hard Anxious Day


I’m doing something a little different today. Instead of waiting until I feel cleaned up and inspired, I’m coming to you in the midst of an anxious day. I woke up, and instead of feeling clear-headed and optimistic, my mind feels a bit jumbled, everything around me seems a bit blurred at the edges. I can’t explain why, but my heart feels in a state of unrest. This would normally be a day that I would avoid writing altogether, and especially social media–or I would look at my newsfeed and wonder how everyone else always seems to have it all together. 

Let’s be messy together.

I’m inviting you into my messy space right now. Dishes are in my sink, my coffee is cold, and there are trails of toys throughout the house. The kids are bickering in the background, blasting their favorite Jana Alayra song, “Jump Into The Light” and tossing brightly bedazzled dress-up dresses like confetti.

It’s spring break which has been hard for my anxiety-prone brain. I do better with routines and plans, instead of long, lazy stretches of undesignated time. I feel restless and unsatisfied. Amidst these confusing contradictions, my heart feels weighed down with the needs of kids, unmade meals, and unmade beds. My mind feels on constant overload with kids buzzing underfoot looking for new ways to make messes, and asking for a snack every fifteen minutes. The worst though is the guilt that pokes at the back of my mind, inviting in the other bully, shame. Yes amidst the hard anxious feelings, the worst of all might be the guilt that shames me when I don’t feel grateful, satisfied, and serenely peaceful with my circumstances.

I am grateful and satisfied with my life, and God offers me peace again and again as I enter into hard places. But that doesn’t mean that I always feel grateful, content, and peaceful every day, in every moment. 

So here we are, in this mess of life together, with tangled emotions and untidy hearts. I could wrap all these hard emotions and struggles up in a tidy bow of encouragement, but I won’t.

Instead, I’d like to tell you that these days will come. I believe there are ways we can walk through the hard feelings and unsettled nerves of these days, and allow God and others to walk beside us. I believe that these hard days might be the places where God is shaping us for His greater purposes. 

Here are a couple thoughts that are helping me get through this day. I hope they can help you too.

Be honest with those around you.  If you feel messy and uncertain, then invite others in and let them speak truth to your heart. This could include your children. When I have an anxious day I will tell my family, “today is a hard day.” My four-year-old daughter will nod with a look of concern, and love. She’ll hug me and remind me “Jesus loves me.” My husband will give me more understanding and grace. I try to offer myself more grace and space as I move throughout this tender kind of day.

Colossians 3:16 “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (NIV)

Be Honest with God. I find it hard to pray when I’m having a hard day. My prayers come out as run-on sentences and unfinished thoughts. But God doesn’t need me to have it all together. He doesn’t need a pretty prayer to meet me–I believe He wants all of me, in whatever place my heart is at. Jesus himself prayed in soulful shouts and desperate pleas.

On the hard days, moving through the long hours is an act of obedience to God; obedience when I give my heart to Him each time my thoughts threaten take me down a dark winding path; obedience when I show love to people around me even when it doesn’t flow from me effortlessly. On these hard days, from my first breath to my last waking thought, my prayer never ends. As I wrestle to turn my face to Him again and again, my day becomes a living, breathing prayer.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Serve others. There are some days when all I can do is tend to the people God has placed right in front of me. I need to accept my limitations and set healthy boundaries. Then there are the days when the best thing I can do is get outside myself. Sometimes talking to a friend that’s struggling, sitting and reading silly stories to my kids, or cooking a delicious dinner for my family is the best thing I can do to get out of my own head.

Take His power in place of your weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) Once this hard day is over, we’ll be wiser, stronger, and more compassionate. We are empowered by Jesus who entered into the weakest, hardest places in order to bring reconciliation and grace. I remember that somehow, by God’s power, he can use my anxious mind to grab hold of Jesus more and more–and by some kind of miracle, He can use my brokenness to make others feel wholly loved through Him.

So join me in entering into this vulnerable place, friend. This world means social media, and surface conversations, polite smiles, and hidden truths, but we can crack open these exteriors and let His love seep into the secret hurts and struggles that need His healing. It starts with being honest in front of God and others. My prayer for you and I is that we find space and time for that. I pray that we embrace the slow sacred work that He does in our hearts, minds, and lives, even in these hard, anxious days.

Believe it or Not: This Time Will Pass



Dear Reader & Friend,

I’m sorry I haven’t been writing to you. Life has been full with good things and a to-do list that seems to undo itself–a house that seems to unclean itself each week. But you get it. You feel the same way, having trouble finding time to pause, and breathe in God’s goodness; time to think and ponder and dream. I pray you find time for those life-giving activities this weekend. 

I felt a pressing truth I needed to squeeze in a moment to tell you.

THIS TIME WILL PASS

This time will pass of waiting with questions, and answers that are too big for you to wrap your thoughts around.

This time will pass of mind-numbing work, wondering if you’re making a difference.

This time will pass of sleepless nights and foggy days, up round the clock feeding a needy human that pulls the life from your tired body.

This time will pass of tension in your home–thick silence as you wade in the muddy water of hurt and resentment.

This time will pass of sticky kisses, and “Mommy I want you,” and “Hold me.”

This time will pass of aching uncertainty, chest heavy with rocks, minutes passing like gravel through your tender heart.

This time will pass of “honey I’m too tired,” or “let’s sneak away,” like school children stealing a few sacred minutes together.

This time will pass when you feel called to something greater, but tied to something that’s needed. 

This time will pass of arms and legs pulled in every direction, lap always full, your body never your own.

This time will pass of childlike enthusiasm, curious questions, and “just one more” story.

This time will pass of a confusing blur of doctor appointments and medicine, side effects, and charts of numbers to explain your painful reality.

This time will pass of holding hands, and wrinkling your nose as you laugh at an inside joke, looking at each other with certain love, and fragile hope.

This time will pass of feeling breathless from a pain too big to feel at once, and loss too big to ever fill.

This time will pass of hoping and trying, and waiting, and testing–the crush of another negative, the painful push to keep trying.

This time will pass of disappointment, of resentment and hurt, of unmet expectations, and longing…

This time will pass of smallness, of innocence, of dreaming, and planning…

This moment, in its mundaneness, its beauty, its pain, its plainness–it will pass.

It will all come to pass.

So we must rub our sleepy eyes, and pay attention. We must tie our heart to the present, and offer our presence, to show up, to love, and to trust that each moment is writing a beautiful story of redemption and grace, woven into the greatest love story ever written. 

 

 

Rest in HIS ENOUGH

I am with you now.
In the wandering, in the waiting;
when your plans didn’t work out.
When your dreams aren’t coming true.

I’m with you in the uncertain space.
Where there are more questions,
than answers.
Where your fears feel bigger than,
your hope.

I’m with you although you feel all alone,
It might surprise you,
but you aren’t the only one;
that’s longing, searching, praying,
for things that are bigger than you can dream.

Longing for understanding;
searching for meaning;
praying for more.

But in this quiet moment,
As you hush the stirrings deep within you,
Let your heart long for more
than you could ask or imagine,
and yet,
Let your soul rest in His ENOUGH.

Knowing, believing, praying,
that when He says “IT IS FINISHED,”
that means His work in us,
IS JUST BEGINNNING.

And it is very good.

What I Want This Christmas

Its the final sprint to Christmas and I’m standing at the crossroads of anticipation and sadness. I love the festivity that Christmas brings. It brings people together in joined anticipation. It gives us a reason to wear pretty clothes, and string up lights, and hang wreaths. Our hearts beat a little faster at Christmas in preparation and excitement. 

But what happens the day after Christmas when the paper is torn and the shopping malls rush to disassemble it all? Its a day we don’t discuss in the days leading to Christmas, a day we put up on a shelf to face when we must, when we’re forced to look at our weight on the scale and long list of to do’s reserved for “once Christmas is over,” once again.

But before you think I’m a total Christmas buzz kill I’m getting at something, I promise.

I’ve heard about Christmas wishes of the different children in my life. Bree wants a unicorn, Hannah wants a bike, Ava wants an IPhone. I have my own little list of the things I’ll shop for at the after-Christmas sales. Then I think of the famous song by Amy Grant, “My Grown-Up Christmas List.” I would love for those hopes to be fulfilled too. Things like “no more lives torn apart, that wars would never start, that time would heal all hearts.” Yes please to all three. But as grown ups we know that we live in a world that will always be a bitter blend of beautiful and ugly–that on this side of Heaven, restoration comes in the dark corners and broken bits of life.

So I sit here looking at the twinkle of my tree, and a glimmer of hope in my children’s eyes. My heart is full of hope, and love, and faith, and yet a deep ache for something more. Something more that I’ll have to face on the other side of Christmas, but is hushed to sleep with sugar, and wine, and pretty paper.

It challenges me to ask how I can take the bright hope of Christmas into the days that follow. It challenges me to think of the things that I can unwrap on the 26th, 27th, the 30th, and January, February, July, and the long dark days that scatter between.

So, this is my Christmas list:

  1. Laughter Every Day– Even if its laughing at this mess of life, I want to find a reason to laugh every day: kid’s belly laughs,  laughs that cramp my stomach and escape in tears at the corner of my eyes. I wish for bowls and bowls of laughter.
  2. Heart to Heart Conversation– The kind of talk that makes me feel seen, the beautiful mess I am. I wish that this year I see more people holding out their hearts so I can cradle them–more people that know me enough to love me through all my aches and victories. More time with the people that already do.
  3. Inspiration– Whether its books or poems, center pieces, or paintings I want my life to spill creativity, and the hope that it blooms.
  4. Song– I’m learning that music lifts my mood and inspires my words. I want to remember that even on the days that feel too somber for song, that I need to turn it on, and let the hope crack open my heart.
  5. Ordinary Grace– I don’t just want the holy grace that I experience in the words of forgiveness from a pastor. I want to share and experience the reckless grace from loving wildly. I want my kids to learn grace as a life, and not just a precious word between the pages of scripture.
  6. Messes and Face Time– I want to abandon my chores to read my kids books, to cook impromptu muffins, or to leave my house in a moments notice to sit and listen to a friend in crisis.
  7. Lovely Contradiction– Too much of my life I’ve wanted to organize things in a way I can understand them. This makes me the ultimate judge and curator of life. I’m learning people are a knot of complication and nuance. That I’m not called to understand or approve but to love and be love to a world that doesn’t have enough.

Every Day Christmas

As a kid on Christmas morning, I would gaze at the pile of papered packages beneath the tree, searching for the big one—with my name on it. Biggest was best, of course, and so I would spot it, pick up the oversized gift with my child size body, and place it at my parents’ feet. I perched and pleaded for my turn to unwrap the promise contained within the bright and festive Christmas paper.

Our first year in Orange, I learned that St. John’s does “big,” well at Christmas time too. Big crowds pack in to worship within an ornately decorated sanctuary, aglow with strings of lights and candles, colored by brilliant stained glass windows, and humming with breathtaking music. St. John’s also does big outreach events for the holidays, things like hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas for kinship families, Project 23, and Operation Christmas Child. I love all these things, and more, about my church.

When I first came to St. John’s, I just stood in awe, taking it all in— all the vibrant ministries, all the worship opportunities, all the talent and history. I came from a small church, where I was the big fish, and at our new church, I wasn’t sure of where I fit in.

But like a God who would send an infant to a manger in Bethlehem, to make his grand appearance, I found my place at St. John’s enfolded in the humble and gracious fabric of its people.

On Ash Wednesday this year, we received word that our daughter, Elyse, had a rare auto-immune disease called Juvenile Dermatomyositis. It quickly spiraled, and a week later, Nathan and I cradled our 18-month old in the hospital, so weak she couldn’t walk or lift her head.

By God’s grace and provision we were able to get back on our feet, and with treatment, Elyse has been doing remarkably better. But, on Mother’s Day, a pipe burst in our bathroom, leaving our family of four displaced from our home for three months.

I thought I would find my place at St. John’s on a platform, but little did I know I would find it within the space of my greatest vulnerability and need.

It was in these circumstances I experienced St. John’s story through eye to eye relationships, through humble and heartfelt generosity, and the love that spills into the cracks of ache, like a trickle from the altar.

In my deepest pain I encountered the sweetest mercy, through loving home cooked meals that tasted like grace. The Haiducs can make a mean lasagna. One day a box of “busy bags” showed up from an army of St. John’s moms, with toys and crafts that lifted Bree’s spirits and kept her busy, and scraps of Bible verses to keep me going. One day a bouquet of dandelions and ingredients for smoothies was dropped on our doorstep. A check arrived in the mail to meet the amount due for an overdue hospital bill. The Friendship Quilters made a quilt sewn and tied with hope and prayer for our Elyse.

I shared on Facebook one day that Elyse’s sun sensitivity had gotten worse, and two days later, someone showed up with a princess parasol for her. While the teachers at St. John’s gathered hand drawn Bible verses and other inspiration in a book, for our family. Classes of kids drew cards of encouragement, and bowed their heads in countless prayers for a baby girl they knew only from pictures.

When our house filled with water, St John’s families showed up with towels, and buckets, strong arms, and hot boxes of pizza. As we tried to get our house ready to move back in, two high school students from church, volunteered to watch our girls, as a St. John’s life group of 6 people arrived in work clothes, to vacuum, mop, and organize.

I love big gifts. This year I’m thinking about getting my girls a Barbie doll house to unwrap on Christmas day (Shhh! Don’t tell!). I love sitting in a magnificent, century old church, and feeling small, as I join my voice with an overwhelming chorus of worship. But lately, God is helping me to appreciate small gifts too. He’s giving me eyes to see the small gifts of handmade love and outstretched hearts that tell the story of St. John’s through community, and relationships.

I think thats the story God was teaching us with Christmas too. Instead of a big platform, God sent his son in the helpless package of soft, baby flesh—displayed for shepherds to worship in a wooden manger surrounded by livestock. Immanuel, God-with-us, came to Earth completely dependent on relationships, for a mother to love and nurture, and a Father to guide. Jesus began his ministry by becoming close friends with twelve other men, by touching, by healing, and by serving people.

Tonight I’m grateful for my baby Elyse. I’m grateful for every smile, for every step she takes, and when she twirls, I watch in awe. I’m grateful that God uses babies to remind us of who He is. I’m grateful that, through her, God has taught us what St. John’s is all about—God sized love—in human packages.

So I guess this Christmas, the question I’m left with, is how do I continue the story?

Create Your Own Sunshine

 

 
 
SHADOW GIRL
One day the sun will kiss your face
One day your body will not ache,
A day you won’t need to run away,
Yes, there will be a day.
A day you stand in the light,
A day you will chase the sun,
A day when all will be made right,
A day we’ll stand in the light of the son.

I met my close mom friend for coffee. My two-year-old daughter was in tow, and her eighteen-month-old son was her debonair date. We rioted the local hipster coffee shop, our toddlers climbing on the benches and shouting, as we collected skeptical glances from the Chapman University students with their laptops, sipping macchiatos and balancing oversized spectacles on their baby faces. The entire cafe let out an exhale as we got our coffee to-go, herding our rambunctious kids outside along with our oversized strollers. It was a cloudy morning, which meant I could actually enjoy a casual stroll outside—like a normal mom and her normal little girl.

My daughter has a condition that means she cannot be in direct sunlight. Even with the cover of clouds, we have to protect her from too much UV exposure. We use hats, UV clothes, sunscreen, and parasols, but when she is having a flare up—even all of those precautions don’t always prevent her from getting a painful rash on her face, elbows, hands, and knees.

But this Fall day, we felt normal, walking beneath the protection of clouds, we felt free from the burden of hiding. My friend and I talked freely. The kids chased each other. Smiles were contagious and laughter came easily.

A couple hours later the sun peaked out, reminding us our precious morning was ending. I put my daughter in her car seat, and decided to drive around the down town area so that she’d fall asleep. As I began our drive, my daughter complained that her fingers were hurting. Our morning outside was having its effect. As my daughter quieted down and gently gave in to sleep, I let my mind wander to the sad thoughts I usually avoid. My daughter would never feel the warmth of the sun on her face, without it hurting her. The realization stung more than usual. Tears blurred my vision, and I blinked to let them roll boldly down my cheeks.

I paused my car at a stop sign, and looked up to see a white church sign with big block letters. “CREATE YOUR OWN SUNSHINE,” it read. The intersection was empty, so I grabbed my phone and snapped a picture. I knew it was a photo I would treasure, a story I would tell my daughter about one day.

In life we will all face limitations. Whether its the form of disabilities or disease, mental illness, grief, or the eventual effects of age—life eventually presents struggle—seen and unseen, that influence our every day lives. Sometimes we are born with our limitations, sometimes they show up and surprise us one day in a diagnosis. Whether its something we’ve lived with for a lifetime, or a new normal, there will be days when the loss will surprise us with a sharp new pain. As we live day by day, hour by hour, our limitations present themselves in new challenges that we don’t always anticipate. Sometimes its the same old challenges that suddenly wear a hole in our hearts like the toe of an old sock.

Our greatest fears and vulnerability loom beneath the surface of our imagination like a monster under the bed, making us want to run and hide—or hang our head in shame.

But when we face the limitations forced on us by a world we can’t control, we can stop, and look up and see the challenge of each new day: “CREATE YOUR OWN SUNSHINE.”

Pain and suffering leave gaping holes in our hearts and lives. Our limitations will taunt, accuse, and challenge us to believe that we aren’t whole. But maybe those holes can be the place where God plants the seeds of sunshine.

The sun rises each new day. The son rose after three days of darkness. When this life weighs down on us with its demands and limitations, when we feel like we have to hide in the shadows, or feel too weary to get out of bed, we can look up and see the Son.

The Son takes our weakness and shame and makes us whole—the Son shines hope into this dark world. We hold out His grace in our tired hands, like the shining sun that lights us up, from the inside out; and in his hope and promises, we can “CREATE OUR OWN SUNSHINE.” A little light that promises hope in hurt, a grace shaped love that keeps our hearts beating for more.

 

 

Can We Stop and Sit Together?

This morning I sit, like a fixed point in the center of a storm of distraction. My house is messy, I still have a project due, and my girls have been watching a show–maybe longer than they should. But my heart feels full of so many things I want to share with you. I wish time and kids would allow for me to sit and savor conversation with you over hot coffee that grows cold, because there’s too much to say between us.

Lately I’ve felt tired. In this marathon of life we’re on, I feel like we’re in a season of endurance. Our fight against Elyse’s JDM isn’t following the easy arc we hoped it would, we’re back in our house and yet so much is left undone.

I’m not naive to think we’re alone in these struggles. Everyone has some sort of battle they face on a daily basis, whether its cancer, rebuilding a home that was disassembled by flood and fire, or fighting back the darkness of anxiety and depression. Maybe its just overcoming the small annoyances life throws at you, like to do lists that never seem to get done, or small disappointments that add up, and grow burdensome, like the loose change in your wallet.

Sometimes the biggest struggle we face is isolation and weariness–the feeling like there’s too much to do and we’re doing it alone. Sometimes we feel like nobody sees how much work we’re putting in. Sometimes we just wonder if anybody sees us, if they really care.

If we were having coffee, I would put my hand over yours, I would look into your eyes and tell you: I care. Others care too. I just think that our culture has become so bogged down with performance, that we’re all battling this fog of busyness, the fog of being seen, but never really feeling fully known., 

Maybe this isn’t you. If it isn’t, that means you need to pull others out of the fog. Take them to lunch, listen to them, and encourage them.

We all have the weapon to fight back the fog, and it is love. Love quiets the raging voices, love calms choppy waves of uncertainty, love transforms gnarled nail shaped wounds into marks of sacrifice and forgiveness. 

If you’ve forgotten how to love well, if you’re feeling too alone or weary, I invite you to visit your local classroom. Its a place you may have to kneel, ask questions, get messy; but in this place you will forget yourself enough to let joy overtake you. Are you ready to hear where it is?

Its in the park, with wood chips in your shoes and dirt under your nails. Its in a classroom that smells of syrup and play dough. Its on the floor with toys strewn around you, and gleeful screams in your ears. Surround yourself with children, and let them remind you that life is about reckless abandon, its about reckless love. Because a child’s love breaks through the walls of isolation and apathy.

I get lonely. I feel like everyone knows who I am, but few people know me. It feels like too much work sometimes to invest in friendships when my life takes so much work as it is. But when I need to feel known, when I need to take a break from the pressure to perform, I get on my hands and my knees and let my daughters climb all over me. They knock down all the walls I’ve been putting up around my heart, and remind me that love is easy, if I just let it in. Love is loud, and messy. Its hands on. Love shows up and knocks people over and disarms them with tender grace.

So when the world feels like a confusing place. When we feel alone and unknown, lets love like we dance when no one is watching. It means throwing open our arms, closing our eyes, finding the joyful rhythm, and throwing ourselves in. God will always catch us. 

There’s an awkward silence between us now. Tears in our eyes. We both feel like we’ve been a little too vulnerable. We stand up, we hug each other–the kind of real hug, where we really hold on and squeeze our arms tight. We look at each other and smile, then head for the door–ready to keep plodding forward, ready to face the day knowing that we’re not alone.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

BLACK COFFEE HEART

Come meet me in the morning,
When the monsters are asleep.
Whisper me the promises,
I know only you can keep.

Come meet me in the morning,
over coffee, black as my heart.
Let your love pour into me,
to cast out all that is dark,

Come meet me in the morning,
Tucked away, but not alone.
Let me know that you hear me,
Breathe life into dried bones.

Morning after morning,
You guide my mind; My thoughts you guard.
You greet me with the sunrise; And wipe soot from this old heart.

Why I’m Going to Stop “Comfortable Prayers” and Complacency in My Faith

I had a dream. One of those dreams that was so insightful that I willed myself to try to drop rocks in the waters of my haze to remember something concrete for when I awoke. As I held the hard porcelain mug of strong black coffee the next morning, and blinked the fuzziness from my vision, I tried to pull up any tangible memory of what I had dreamt the night before. Just one smooth stone of thought emerged, just one line from a poem by J.R.R Tolkien from The Lord or The RIngs: “Not all who wander are lost.”

The words swam through my head all that day and into the next night. Tossing and turning as I pondered an unanswered question, I finally felt compelled to get out of bed at 4:30 the next morning, to look up the verse that Paul spoke on “Mar’s Hill” (I’m a pastor’s wife, but I had to google where this was in the Bible, because I HAD NO CLUE.)

Here is a portion of what I read from Acts 17, where Paul is speaking to the people of Athens, who had many gods, and many, many altars to gods in their cities:
“Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands (…) because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (…) God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 18:22-28

I know God. I know the touch of His presence. And yet, reading this I felt struck. How often do I keep him in the confines of the temples built by hands? How often do I not seek, or reach, or find him, but settle for the lukewarm knowledge that he is just there. I think God is challenging me to wander, to search, and pray, to reach with flexed fingers, and kneel on tired knees. Because if this God I believe in, and know, is all that I imagine him to be, then I want to spend my days searching for more of who He is, so that I can figure out who I am, in Him. Amen? Amen.

Did I mention that right before writing this I found a sign above my writing desk (I’m at an AirBnB in Chicago) it said: Never Stop Exploring.

TO AN UNKNOWN GOD
Wandering, waiting,
Listening, slowing,
“Be still and know,”
But knowledge is fading.

Altars and idols,
Something to satisfy,
Anything that fills,
Our hungering belly.

Flesh that itches,
Wandering minds,
Nothing that fixes,
Only confines.

But God in flesh,
Without an agenda,
Mercy unleashed,
Perfect surrender.

Dwelling in me,
Not God unknown,
Compelled to speak,
of THE GOD that I KNOW.
by Lindsay Hausch