Stepping into this New Year

As news unfolds this week, there is hope mixed with uncertainty and suspense. A vaccine is rolling out but cases rise as a new variant of Covid spreads. Just when I want to rely on the future looking a certain way, uncertainty prevails yet again.

New Year’s resolutions feel ridiculous after a year that upended so many of our plans. What do we do with this milestone this year? 

We recently saw the movie News of the World, which I highly recommend. Tom Hanks and Texas. Really, y’all, what’s not to love?

I read the book a couple years ago and loved it. The movie does it justice.

Its beautiful, heart-rending, and important. This year we can all identify with the losses of the two main characters. With the dangers they face in a hard, cruel world. And with the importance of relationship and connection.

It’s a must-see.

One main theme is about what to do with who we were and who we are now. Do we look back and hold it all or just keep moving forward in a straight line?

In some ways, a little of both is necessary.

While this year may feel like an anomaly, and hopefully it is, it still bears weight on what we are and what we will become.

It shaped us and will continue shaping us for years to come. Looking back on the past year has never felt so important.

Read on to see what that practice has looked like for me a couple years ago…


I hardly ever make it to midnight awake. Usually I roll over about midnight, disrupted by the rumble of a few fireworks, then drift back to sleep. The day dawns and I wake to find myself in a whole new year that feels just like another morning.

Except that most new years days I spend a chunk of time reviewing the last year. I took up this habit one year when we lived overseas and I spent a quiet, sunny morning going over Michael Hyatt’s 7 Questions to Ask About Last Year. I still remember the chair I sat in, it was that powerful.

Since that year, I look forward to reflecting every new year. Lest you be afraid this somehow leads to those resolutions, be afraid. Somehow, these questions and reflecting on the past year just naturally lead to revealing what’s important to take with me into the next year.

Maybe it’s also the coffee that kicks in about the same time, but I end up holding onto a few thoughts about what I want the next year to include, if it’s up to me.

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Remembering is a funny thing. I lived a lot of life this last year, and forgot quite a bit of it. Memory to me feels like I’m holding a bunch of groceries at the grocery store like when I think I don’t need a cart. I can only hold so much and my brain just drops things  that it can’t keep holding onto. Sometimes they are the right things, sometimes not. It can be startling what I forget and remember.

Why? Why do I remember some things and forget others? I’m not sure. But its a reality. Reflecting on the past year is a means to much grace and mercy. I look into the year and lay out the events and experiences before the Lord and myself and sift through them. Are there themes? Regrets? Disappointments? Joys? Always, yes.

This year, I stood back and looked and saw a year of great adventure and drama. As I sorted through it, I saw more clearly the reality I’ve felt as the year drew to a close. It was a roller coaster year…again. I’m ready for a little boring. A bit less adrenaline.

Extensive travel, romantic drama, medical issues, rich family time, and ministry to others defined our year. It was a good year. It was also a full year with lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. So many good things but also a few very real, hard, new things to navigate.

In the middle of it, it has been easy, maybe even necessary, to just pack experiences in my bag of memory and do the next thing that needs doing. The problem with that is that I need to look up every once in a while and see the bigger picture, the distances traveled, the goals ahead, the victories and sorrows along the way.

Like a rest stop on the journey, I need the time to reflect so I can acknowledge God’s hand in it all, and recognize that He has been with me the whole way. That He sees and He cares even if it’s not all worked out, resolved, or better. I can have joy when I look back and remember what He did work out too.

What distilled over the course of my morning was that…

  • writing is still very important to me. I regretted not keeping it up this past year. I need to make time to write.
  • exercise took a back seat for different chunks of the year and that was necessary. It is now important that it not stay in the back seat.
  • making peer friends in this season of life is challenging because of the many demands on life. I greatly value having good friends and I need to keep moving forward in cultivating friendship.

Notice there’s not a lot of specific goals. I don’t really have a word for the year. But, now I have 3 areas of life that I know are important to me that need some attention. It helps tie a tiny, imperfect bow on the past year and move a bit more confidently into a new year.

If you end of spending the time to go through this process, please share what came out of it for you!

On George MacDonald

Walking on Sunday nights and Monday mornings is exciting. Monday is big trash day in my neighborhood, the day when all you cleared out of your house over the weekend gets set on the curb for pickup.

Among the treasures I’ve accumulated from these piles are: a 6 person tent, a kids life vest, a trash can for the garage (ironic, right?!), and books.

My kids don’t like to walk with me on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.

On day, two whole boxes of books called me over to the side of the road. As I searched through them, I gleaned the giver was probably a professor with lofty literary leanings who was interested in Christianity. I picked up a couple C.S. Lewis books, one of which was a book of George MacDonald quotes compiled by Lewis.

The preface gripped me as I delved into the book back at home. C.S. Lewis admired MacDonald. Wow. Just that one fact drew me in deeper. Anyone C.S. Lews counts as a mentor deserves attention.

As I learned more about MacDonald and read his quotes, I met one who saw deeply into the nature of people across generations. George saw the world, the times, and the people in it with a lens honed in on God’s heart. He knows God and cuts through all the add-ons we tend to accumulate in our lives.

Its always surprising to me when a person from a culture and time period so different from mine can relate truth that transcends to the here and now. How do they do it? I think it has to do with the nature of truth, it transcends.

So, here are a few of my favorite quotes from a novel I read by George MacDonald entitled A Daughter’s Devotion. Doesn’t that sound so Victorian and romantic? In reality, it is like meeting a mature sister and her father and following their life of fath.

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite George MacDonald quotes from A Daughter’s Devotion:

Some will answer that you must have either distrust or self-confidence. "You must have neither," I reply. You must follow the truth and in that pursuit, the less one thinks about himself, the pursuer, the better. 
Let him so thirst after the truth that the dim vision of it occupies all his being, and leaves no time to think of his hunger and thirst. Self-forgetfulness is the healthiest of mental conditions. One has to look to his way, to his deeds, to his conduct--not to himself. In such losing of the false, or the merely reflected, we find the true self. (p.44)

But what is the use of the most powerful of medicines while they stand on the sick man's table? What is the mightiest of truths so long as it is not believed? The spiritually sick still mocks at the medicine offered; he will not know its cure. (p. 214)

In God alone, who is the truth, can creatures truly meet. (p. 267)

Jesus is the only man who is no exception. We are the exceptions. Everyone but Him is more or less out of straight. (p. 286)

Happy is he who has learned the gospel according to Jesus, as reported by John--that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all! Happy is he who finds God his refuge from all the lies that are told for Him and in His name!  (p. 220)

Love and marriage are of the Father's most powerful means for the making of His foolish ones into sons and daughters. But so unlike, in many cases, are the immediate consequences to those desired and expected, that it is hard for many to believe He is anywhere looking after their fate. And the doubt would be a reasonable one, if the end of things was marriage. But the end is life--that we can become the children of God. (p. 260)

All God's gifts are a giving of Himself. (p. 240)

We may spoil gratitude as we offer it, by insisting on its recognition. To receive honestly is the best thanks for a good thing. (p. 45)

For me, this photo evokes that idea I get with George MacDonald of seeing something beautiful from a long way off.

My 4 Holiday Best Practices

I’d love for my holidays to be magical and nostalgic this year like a Hallmark commercial but, in reality, I’m pretty wiped out and its still a few weeks until Thanksgiving break.

College students I talk with face longer than normal school breaks too. So many of us are home so much more, its come up that we’re a little nervous about more together time.

I’m not sure where you are as you anticipate the holiday break, but I’m already thinking through what might help my break feel restorative…or maybe just not totally suck.

So, here are a few lifelines I’m holding on to over the holidays in this very tumultous year.

#1: Read.

Fiction is always important to me. I read fiction every night. Lining up a few really good books for the holidays is a high priority on vacations and holidays. Good fiction helps me put worries and to-do lists aside at the end of a day and mentally unwind.

And when I say good fiction, I’m saying all fiction is not created equal. Remember that episode on Friends where Joey reads Rachel’s novel? He’s spot on. There’s plenty of good books out there that satisfy our God-given hunger for good stories.

Check out my top ten all time favorites!

#2: Ritual.

Ok, that sounds weird. I’m not into empty or evil rituals. I am into grounding patterns for my day that can reset my world a little bit. This is especially helpful when there is no outside schedule I laid out for me to follow, like during holidays when school and work are on a back burner.

One ritual I plan to keep is waking before my kids to a cup of coffee and reading my Bible. Another is taking a walk before it gets dark each day. These activities are not new and carrying them on helps me process through my days or prepare for them.



#3: Relax.

For the past few years, I’ve set aside one day of personal vacation before my kids are released on holiday break. On that day, my focus is to do indulgent things like watch a movie at 9am, wrap presents in the living room, and eat what I want to eat from a restaraunt even if I already have a sensible meal in the fridge.

Last year I assured my husband I loved and liked him and politely asked him to make himself scarce that day. He is so gracious and made himself scarce that day. It is a wonderful day. I’m looking forward to it this year so much!

Its my version of Treat Yo’self.

#4: Review.

I always spend the early hours of January 1st engaging my soul with some reflection on the past year. This year is one for the books, literally! If there was ever a year to reflect on, this is surely at the top of the list.

I know there are a few ways to do this so pick one that works for you. My favorite is Michael Hyatt’s Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year. Something about sitting in the quiet, remembering, grieving, celebrating, and recording my thoughts on my year helps me face the new one.

If you haven’t tried an exercise like this, consider setting aside some time to reflect and record.


Will more time at home be a gift after so many months of more time at home? I’m trusting that God always has more good in store for all of us in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

I’ve enjoyed the Lord in each of these practices in different ways and I’m all about sharing the wealth! So let me know if you adopt one. I’d love to hear how it went for you.

Modern Fortitude

The word fortitude popped into my brain this week. Not a word I use much. Sounds rather Puritan and stuffy, not characteristic of the fun and spontaneous image I like to curate.

I love words but sometimes when they come to me, even I don’t know exactly why or by what path I retrieved them. Why fortitude? A word I rarely use. A word most people rarely use these days according to my brief internet search.

I’m not even reading Jane Austen right now. Jane is a likely person to use a word like fortitude, but I’ve been reading twisty, suspenseful thrillers the past month or so.

According to the internet, a bastion of truth, the word fortitude has gone from 0.0013% usage in 1840 to 0.00013% usage today. Its darkest days were the 1990’s where it dipped to 0.00006%. I’m not awesome at math but I know another zero after the decimal is a big decline.

It begs the question, was fortitude ever really popular?

Is it popular now? I’m not sure fortitude will ever rise to the best lunch table at the local high school, but current circumstances guarantee a rise in usage. Just this blog post should raise the graph line a speck!

So, what does it mean? I actually had to look it up. Even though I am using this word to describe what I need right now, I’d been going on intuition more than precise definitions.

For-ti-tude: courage in pain or adversity.

And, there it is folks. What we need for these times. This is what I am asking God for these days…courage in pain and adversity. Fortitude.

Because we are all in some degree of adversity having experienced radical changes in our daily life and behavior from how we greet people to challenges figuring out how to live and work the way we were used to living and working.

I think of the British with their reputation of the stiff upper lip. Is that what it means to have fortitude? Many times that is what is expected of those that display fortitude. Literally, they’re lip doesn’t tremble because tears are imminent.

They don’t cry.

Well, I’ve failed then. I’m not courageous in pain or adversity.

Ha. You must know me well enough, I hope, to know that I reject this flat, emotionless view of fortitude.

Fortitude, I believe, is equally displayed in the tearful, plodding act of living out the life God gave us for this day. This day, this year, it is a pandemic, political strife, relational divisions based on ideologies, and all the collateral damage that lies in the wake.

Its not doing just what your emotions tell you to do, but walking forward in life by faith that God through His Spirit can give you just what you need for what His path for you entails.

Notice, I say His path for me. Not my path for me though the sweetest days are when my path for me and His path for me are one and the same. Those moments, because lets be honest, they’re usually not days, are full of meaning and purpose and joy even as they can also be filled with pain and adversity.

So, yes, I am in need of fortitude, not the stiff emotionless upper lip variety but the continuity of courage that life always requires, no matter the season.

But when times are universally difficult, hopefully words like fortitude can give us a sweet reminder to rely on Jesus to provide the courage and hope we need to walk, often tearfully, through pain and adversity.

On Authority

My dad and I snuck into a national park one time. We drove up, parked, and vaulted a low level fence.

To be fair, we couldn’t find the door. Did we look much? No. But we did see the fence and we jumped over. It wasn’t that hard.

This is the type of fence people don’t climb over.

Our first clue that we might get caught was that everyone wore one of those headsets that gives you an audio tour. We did not have one. We expected a security guard would notice and throw us out so we began avoiding them.

Real cloak and dagger stuff. I miss that man!

It was the most fun I’d had at an historical building in my life. We had no right to be there. I think there’s a connection.

There’s so much going on in my mind these days as the divisions in our world and nation lie exposed before us. The word authority is in its second week of grabbing my attention as I continue reading the accounts of Jesus’ life on earth (aka the gospels).

It screams of the pages…authority. He had a authority. He spoke like one with authority. He claimed authority. He did not need authority from people. He taught like one with authority.

What did that look like? Sound like? What does it mean to have authority?

I have a measure of authority in certain spheres. I’m kind of an authority on what’s in the pantry, the kids’ schedules, how much laundry detergent to use, and bargaining.

But its all a bit eye-of-the-beholder stuff. I totally forgot about the expired coconut oil I bought 6 years ago sitting unused in the corner of the shelf. Kids’ schedules change and I’m late for pick up. Detergent dosages are up for debate and ultimately set by Tide or Whirlpool.

When it comes down to it, there are few areas of my life that I am free to act with complete authority.

And, even if I had that kind of authority, I know myself well enough that I would also need many wise, honest people around me to check my propensity to make many, many mistakes.

Jesus made an impression because He acted according to the truth because He is the truth. He needed no stamps of approval, oversight committees, or consensus. Everything was His and everyone knew it the moment He arrived. They may not have liked it but they could not avoid the truth.

He possessed authority and wielded it perfectly even as a humble carpenter of doubtful parentage (to the critics) without the highest-level education available for the day–because of His divinity.

There was something fun and terrifying in seizing authority that day in Tennessee with my dad. All along, though, I knew I was a trespasser… a fraud.

Learning to truly submit to God’s authority in my life from the depths of my soul–that is a daily deeper dive for me. I find that I’m becoming most truly myself when I submit to God.

That’s true freedom, not to live as my own authority but embracing my place under the One who has all authority.

Finding Lost Things

I am the #1 finder in our house. If something is lost, I’m the one that gets called in pretty quick. Sometimes too quickly.

I’ve threatened people in my family. If I find it upon entering your room and just looking around, I’m going to be…not happy, I say.

While I packed to go on a trip once, I opened the cabinet where we kept our nice DSLR camera. My destination was beautiful and I wanted to beef up my stock of photos. The cabinet opened and no camera.

This puzzled me because I’d taken a trip the week before with the camera and was sure it came home with me. I backtracked my steps and remembered that when I got off the plane at home, I left it in the overhead bin. I’d left it and lived in great peace and calmness not knowing our expensive camera was gone.

But I was headed to the airport so I decided to just check and see if they had a lost and found. My experience with losing things in Asia was not great. If you left something somehwere, it was no longer there 5 minutes later. My hope was almost nonexistent.

You know what? I came home with our camera.

There was a lost and found. The camera was waiting. To claim it, we needed to look at the photos. Bummer, dead battery. So I described the photos of the panda reserve, little blonde kids, and a wide smile wreathed the woman’s face.

She remembered the photos and gave me back our camera! I was so happy.

The camera is still with us taking great pictures.

Losing things is not fun. Finding things is so much more fun.


Here’s a few things that guide my searches…

It will not come to you. The essence of lost things is that they do not know they are lost and they cannot get back. We’re talking about things here. They just are where we left them. They’re not going to come back to us on their own. They must be found. Waiting around isn’t going to bring them back.

Lost things do not come back on their own.

Where was it last? Start there. You see, lost things are where they are. They are things and they don’t know they are lost. They do not move on their own. It’s obvious and easy to forget when looking, but you must backtrack and determine where the item was last.

You must go and discover where the lost thing is if you want to find it.

What was happening? If backtracking doesn’t work, then think about what was happening. In the panic of losing things, my family members generally resist my questions. They feel antagonistic and blaming. What were you doing? spoken to a sensitive soul feels accusatory.

But, it helps me to know if the shoes are under the chair where Xbox is played or in the backyard because they were contaminated with the dog waste.

Discovering the story around the loss will help you know where to look.

Why can’t we see it? So often, I find things because I lifted something else. The calculator was under the shirt. The keys were in the pants pocket. The stuffed tiger was in the microwave (yes, that’s a funny story of sibling rivalry).

Sometimes the item is hiding under something. Well, it isn’t hiding but it got covered up and needs to be uncovered.

Be persistent. Ask dumb questions. Basic elementary questions like what was I carrying? Where would I be if I were Ali’s camera after an airplane trip? Keep asking and don’t give up hope that there’s a lost and found when nothing ever seems to get found.

Persistence and hope lead us much farther than despair.

Wait. Somethings are only found by waiting. When we’ve exhausted the search, sometimes we need to wait. Often, one day it will just show up in the least expected place.

Time can uncover what our abilities cannot.

Pray. The much loved stuffed Tiger was lost for three days. Three days of comforting a crying boy with a second best toy at night. I related my small dilemma to a friend on the phone. She said she’d pray. I prayed a one liner to God that moment, looked to my left and saw Tigey stuffed between the fridge and the wall.

God can find things for us when we ask for help.

As I walked around campus and my city this week and talked to people who are seeking God, I started thinking about finding.

Do I really search for people? It haunts me a little

I hope I can be as good at finding lost people as I am at finding my kids calculator.

Gardening Gems

Every so often I’m in the car around noon on the day the gardening talk show is on the radio. Somehow I just never want to turn the dial eventhough I don’t garden.

It might be his soothing voice saying who knows what about a topic of which I know little. Or, maybe this will be the year I’ll need to know these things because this will be the year I become a planter of things. 

But a couple times over the past month, I’ve stayed tuned because what he’s talking about resonates on a deeper level than maintaining my yard. 

Once it was soil. Yes. Dirt. He was talking about dirt. It caught me because he said something like 75% of the chance that a plant grows is determined before the plant is put into the dirt. He was talking about the soil. If the soil was prepared well, the plant would grow well.

That explains a lot of why my flower bed look like they do. I just dig holes, put stuff in and pray. It hasn’t worked great. 

Then, today they were talking about pests and diseases in plants. They complained about people who see pests and disease and just want some spray to take care of it. So silly their tone suggests.

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No, I did not grow this. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Hmmm. That’s kind of what I do. Just get rid of the pest and we’re good, right?

No! They talked about looking at the whole situation and taking care of what was causing the issue in the first place or it would come back.

I realized my gardening is very surface level. I’m in it for fast results, not really the long term cultivation. I’ve not learned to cultivate the land and truly care for it. 

The same is often true of my spiritual life. I want fast methods to lead to quick results.

Instead the Bible talks often about gardens, cultivation, tending, and shepherding…all activities that are wholistic and slow but when embraced in our soul, yield the lives we really want. 

Lives that grow and produce beautiful things that can sustain others too. 

We don’t know what to do but…

I encounter more people now as our community stumbles forward and we try to feel each other out. How close is it ok to approach a person on a neighborhood walk? What criteria do I use to decide if I go back to church in-person or watch online? What level of risk is appropriate to be with people and for what purpose?

Figuring out this new world, learning how to live in it as we hold in tension so many competing realities is a weight we are all learning to carry.

The other times in my life that I remember talking this much about how to interact with people on a daily basis was when we first moved overseas. My husband and I experienced an onslaught of new our first few years overseas that left us speechless, staring at our McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

We are now back in the country we grew up in. But, with the sudden shift of culture caused by this pandemic, it again feels like we are learning a new world. We are in the same place physically as last year but doing so many things so differently adding to the strangeness of it all.

It’s like the world tilted and I’m left again grasping for firmer ground.

A passage of the Bible that captured my attention this past week was the story of Jehoshaphat (yes, like in Great Jehoshaphat!). He was one of the good kings in the Bible. He went around to the whole kingdom to talk to the judges and tell them, look guys, you’re working for God and He’s not a God of injustice, bribery or partiality so let the fear of God guide you.

Wow! I really appreciate that kind of leadership.

A lot of times you read these stories about the good kings and generally things go better for them, but not Jehoshophat. He soon learns a huge army is coming for them and they’re pretty powerless to stop it. He prays this great long prayer but at the end he says, We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You. 

So then, another guy stands up and says he’s got something to say from God. He basically says, don’t be afraid or discouraged. Go out to the battle but you will not need to fight in this one. Stand firm and hold your position. God ends up routing the enemy before they even get to Israel’s army.

There is something beatiful and right in determining you’re up against something bigger than you can deal with and saying I don’t know what to do. And, then, still showing up to the battle even when it’s not clear how it will all play out, just that God will be there.

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In all this upheaval, I’m realizing the importance of showing up to see what God will do. When I say show up, I mean open up opportunities, be available and trust that God can do something no matter how meager and anemic the method feels.

Somehow, he’s not limited by our physicality. I can tell you, God shows up on video calls, phone calls (they’re back in again–just give younger folks a pre-call text), and conference calls.

I guess that’s where I am today, I don’t know what to do often. I feel overwhelmed some days. But I want my eyes to be on Him.

Sometimes its more that I don’t know how to do it this way, but I am trying to take the step and trust Him to be there in the middle of it with me.

Each time, as I look back I can see that He’s never deserted me.

 

Enraged

I had just sat down when she started banging on my stall door…yes, my bathroom stall door. What transpired is family legend—that time mom lost it in the bathroom in Asia.

Finding a decent bathroom is a challenge when traveling, especially overseas, maybe especially for the westerner in eastern lands. There’s this kind of toilet called the squatty potty. When mastered, it frees one from a consuming fear of being forced to learn under duress.

But beyond that, just finding a relatively clean bathroom with stall doors (yes, doors!) is notable. This bathroom on that day was not only clean, it had stall doors and it was not a squatty.

I don’t really take pictures of bathrooms much…butt here are some cool doors.

Toilet paper, you might ask? No bathroom really ever had toilet paper. BYOTP was the name of the game.

On this day, I made a point to stop at this particular bathroom to make a pit stop in loo (punny, right?) of the unknown I might face the rest of that day. It felt like the sun was shining on me because there was no line when previous times I’d waited in a long line for the privilege of this clean bathroom.

So, I commenced to commence behind a nice locked stall door. And a woman came in the bathroom and immediately started rattling my door telling me to hurry up because she needed the stall. She shook it so hard, testing the lock, that I feared she was going to break the door open!

And I immediately lost it. My language was good enough to say things I am ashamed of now. Looking back on it, there is an element of comedy. Here is a little of what I remember:

Hurry up! I need to use the bathroom! [rattled door]

I can’t go faster. Go find another bathroom.

I don’t know where one is.

Well! Go ask someone! I’d show you if I could, but, well…I can’t help you right now…I’m busy!

You are taking too long, let me in. I have to go! [more rattling]

I can’t let you in and I have to go too!! I’m using the stall! Stop shaking the door or it will take longer.

Hurry up!

I would if I could. If you’d like to teach me, go ahead!

And it went on and on like this. I was trembling angry when I finally finished, walked out, slammed the door and kept talking very loudly to her…ok, shouting in anger at her.

The look on this woman’s face when out walked a white girl was kinda priceless, really.

At this point, my dear friend was coming into the bathroom. I should mention that my daughter was in the stall next to me during this whole encounter, totally perplexed about why I was so angry.

To give you an idea of the level of my outrage, my friend thought someone was assaulting my daughter—that’s how mad I was.

The event passed and I’ve told the story a few times and thought many times about why, why, why I lost it so quickly and so completely that day.

People who have known me a long time know that I get angry but this was something different, it was rage.

The only conclusion I came to was that someone was threatening a basic human right of mine, to a space, to time, to perform a basic bodily function. It was like she was trying to shove me off the toilet mid-stream, and it was downright offensive.

And it enraged me to the point of a fluent, loud, trembling argument in my 2nd best language. There is a double edged-ness to fluency. Being able to really argue in a second language can get one into a lot of trouble.

What if it wasn’t a toilet stall though? What if it was a different, much more important space like a good school, a safe home for my family, healthcare, to life?

And I understand just a little more the rage one can feel when pressed and challenged for places way more important than a toilet stall.

Rage feels terrible and so it often gets labeled a negative emotion and we are often encouraged to get out from under it at any cost…mostly by suppressing it.

But anger is an emotion, a powerful one, but only an emotion. The wrong comes when we act on it in ways contrary to God’s truth—like when I berated this woman rattling my stall.

This might be why trying to pacify justly enraged people rings a false note in their soul. Asking others’ to bury rage because we may feel uncomfortable with the emotion is not coming alongside someone in pain.

This is where lament comes in—lament is agreeing about the wrong done that brings the rage felt. It honors the emotion while bringing the injustice together to God, the only one who can ultimately judge justly.

But in no way does falling on God’s ultimate justice excuse us from our God-given role to pursue justice on earth while we live here as His ambassadors.

What injustice we see more commonly is way more subtle than a rattled stall door…its more crafty and more insidious and more unseen…and, so, harder to understand.

So, listen carefully and listen well and listen long…observe…and I bet you’ll hear the rattle of a stall door. Something intruding on a space that should be respected and guarded and safe.

What if…

So much news predicts such a grim future. Life as we know it gone. Futures forever changed. This generation will suffer the worst.

I’m glad I don’t know the future. Anticipating the unknown has usually proved more awful than actually walking through it for me.

But, what if all the adversity predicted is the severe road to a better future, a different life lived from a different source, for us and our kids?

Along those lines, I wrote the following lines…

What if all the losses taught us to mourn?

What if all the mourning taught us to empathize?

What if all the empathy taught us humility?

What if all the humility taught us our poverty of soul?

What if our poverty taught us to search?

What if in our searching we found God? Who knows loss. Who mourns. Who empathizes. Who endured poverty. Who meets our needs?

Our need for Him to restore our dignity. Forgive our wrong. Heal our wound. Feed our mouth. Guide our path… Replace our heart.

With a new heart. A heart warm, not cold. A heart alive, not dead. A heart that feels, not numb. A hear not sick anymore.

What if our hope was not on the stock market, the cure, the vaccine, the vindication, the political party, the back to normal?

But in Christ

Who makes all things new

Even this broken world

Even we broken people

Would we then welcome the losses that taught us to mourn?

The mourning that taught us empathy?

The empathy that taught us our poverty?

The poverty that taught our need?

And the need that taught us to search?

And the search that brought us to the heart of God?

To me, the stairs are the adversity and the joyful girl at the top, my daughter, like the joy of finding God along a hard steep, path in life.