Friday Finds: 4/21/17

Happy Friday, y’all!

I don’t have any typical finds for you this week.  April finally had her baby and it was amazing to watch! From hooves and a nose out to a baby giraffe on the ground in 12 minutes.  It was awesome!

What I want to share today is a quote from one of the books I’m reading right now, Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, by Hannah Anderson.  The chapter I read this morning was so convicting and encouraging.  Here is an excerpt:

“Because our emotions are powerful, it’s tempting to simply shut them down or deny them like the ancient Stoics would. We know the danger that comes when we are led by them, how easily we lash out in anger or manipulate others. But simply controlling our emotions doesn’t make us humble, or healthy, people. Instead, humility calls us to something better. Humility calls us to feel deeply precisely because we know that ‘God is greater than our hearts.’

“Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to care for you when your heart breaks through disappointment or suffering. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to rejoice with you in times of joy and success. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to correct and lead you through doubt and fear. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ He can handle the depth of your emotions. He is not afraid of them, and as you bring them back to Him,  you shouldn’t be afraid of them either. In this sense, humility does not shut down your inner life; humility redeems it.

“So that, with the psalmist, we can finally and confidently proclaim, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.'”

Humble Roots, p.114

He said, “Good morning”

Matthew 28:1-9 — Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

This morning, I read this familiar passage in a new translation (Holman CSB if you’re wondering). Instead of “Greetings!” (ESV and NIV), in the CSB Jesus approached the women and said, “Good morning!”

The cheerfulness and familiarity of the term struck me in a way “greetings” never did.  The contrast between this entrance and that of the angel makes it all the more notable. The angel appears in all the glory and power of heaven – everyone trembled at the sight.  Then, Jesus quietly meets the women on the road and without a trace of fanfare says, “Good morning!”

The Greek word used here is chairo and it has multiple meanings. It was used to say “Rejoice!” or “Hail!” or even “Peace to you.”  But it was also a familiar — common — greeting in the day.  They used it to say hello and goodbye, like “Be well” or “Ciao”.  It’s a word you would use when you were reuniting with old friends.

He says to the women, “Good morning!”

The greatest understatement of all time.

I think He was saying, “Good morning” in every sense of the word.  “Rejoice! – your sorrow has turned into joy!”  “The peace that transcends all peace is yours today.”  “All is well and all will be well.”  And finally, “Hey, how’ve you been?”

He says hello like nothing had happened, but really everything, had changed. The fate of humanity, the trajectory of the universe, forever altered.

Matthew Henry writes, “The salutation speaks the good-will of Christ to man.”  When Jesus said those words He spoke reconciliation.  I am alive and your sins are now atoned for.  And now He is not ashamed to call us brothers.  He walks up and simply says, “Good morning.”  We have peace with God and fellowship with Jesus Christ.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross…” (Ephesians 2:13-17)

He Speaks in the Night

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night

And You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone…

I don’t normally wake up in the middle of the night.  While it may take me a while to fall asleep, I usually have no problem staying asleep once it happens.  So I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I awoke around 2am and found myself wide awake.

Realizing I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon, I sat up and reached for my book. In that brief moment, I found myself overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness. It came like a mighty wave and I felt like it would drown me.

I looked out the window and uttered a single word, “Why?”  Why did I feel this way?  I haven’t felt this alone in a long time – this year is one of the first where I feel like I truly belong in this town, in my church… Yes, I long for a family, but I am surrounded by a family of faith and children who run to greet me when I get to church or worship practice or small group.  It has been a gift.

But the truth is there is still a piece that feels alone. Unseen. Unknown. It’s a far deeper longing that the ache I feel for a husband and children of my own.  It’s hard to put into words.  And on this night, my heart was overwhelmed within me.

The why was quickly followed by for how long, O Lord?

Almost immediately, my soul heard His answer.  It wasn’t an audible voice, but the words that filled my mind were ones that were both tender and full of authority.

Let me first tell you what He didn’t say.  He did not give me an expiration date on this feeling. He did not give me the name of my husband or even promise that there is one out there.

He said this: You will never feel this way in heaven.

Feelings of peace washed over me.  I am already fully known, seen, understood. I belong.  I am seated with Christ in the heavenly places.  All of these things are already true.

But for now we see in part.  I have days when I feel like I belong and I am a key part of this fellowship.  There are other days when I think I could disappear and no one would notice.  While I am fully known already, I can only see imperfect glimpses of that reality from time to time.  One day I shall see fully and be able to understand that I am fully known.  There will never be a single moment in eternity when I feel like I don’t fit. That feeling — that fear — will disappear.  It will just be a memory, like suffering, sickness, and death.

I will never feel this way in heaven.

This means for me, this life is as bad as it gets. These feelings have an end date and they will be gone for good.  I rejoice in that hope!

And what a wondrous thing / I can stand to sing / ‘Cause when I fall to my knees You’re the One who pulls me up again / And what a mystery that You notice me / And in a crowd of ten thousand You don’t miss a thing / I am seen and I am known by the King of kings and Lord of lords

 

Songs quoted:
“Good Good Father” (Chris Tomlin)
“You Don’t Miss a Thing” (Bethel Music)

 

Friday Finds 4/7/17

My spring break starts at 3:30pm today!  I’ve been anxiously awaiting this day for weeks – we had far fewer snow days this year and Easter is so late…I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.  I’ve been working hard this week to wrap up loose ends so I can actually take the whole week off.  One of my goals this year is to only work the days I am getting paid to work.  I’ve already failed but I’m making some improvements.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve “found” for you this week.  They’re all on the deep side, but worth your time.

I am Racist – I so appreciate Chad Ashby’s thoughts on this.

Ode to the Church – this is a couple years old, so you may have seen it before, but it’s a beautiful picture.

Always Good, Never Safe – short devotional examining the God of Israel and Aslan.

God Will Give You More than you can Handle – because otherwise we wouldn’t realize we need Him.

Also, I just started reading Alive in Him by Gloria Furman – I’m only a chapter in but you must BUY. THIS. BOOK.  I can tell it will be one for which I end up underlining more than 50% of the text. This is the type of book I want to read.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to my girl April the Giraffe – I’ve been watching her pace in circles for six weeks. I hope that baby comes out soon and it doesn’t happen in the middle of the night so I don’t miss it.

What I Read: March 2017

I can’t believe it but I kept up my two books per week average yet again during March.  I did not, however, read every day and that is something I’m really trying to do this year.  Below is my March reading list – it’s got some good ones, some great ones, and some that aren’t worth your time.

Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up (Ian and Larissa Murphy): I admire this couple, especially Larissa, quite a bit.  I first heard their story through a video Desiring God promoted and they have a hard but inspiring story.  I was eager to read this, but it wasn’t what I expected.  I am hesitant to say anything critical because this book is written by two people telling their life story, but they would have benefited from a ghost writer.  That’s all.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxas) – an extremely well-researched and well-written biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It took me several months to read but it was worth the time.

Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult) – just when I was ready to give up on this author, she surprises me with this!  SGT is definitely my new favorite of her books and one of my favorites that I’ve read this year.  It does not follow her typical formula and for that I am thankful.  I don’t want to give away the plot, but it is a fast-paced story with well-developed characters….and takes a look at race relations in America.

The Wonder (Emma Donoghue) – this is the second of Donoghue’s books that I’ve read (the first was Room).  I read this one in a day – it drew me in from the beginning and the story went in a direction I did not expect.  I think Geraldine Brooks fans would like this book.  I enjoyed it.

We Were Liars (e. lockhart) – I picked up this YA novel as part of my 2017 Reading Challenge – I needed one with an unreliable narrator and this did not disappoint.  Just when I thought I understood what was happening it became very clear I was way off.  Other people have said they figured out the plot twist early in the novel – I almost want to read it again to see if I can find the clues.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Amy Schumer) – this book was not for me.  Schumer starts the book talking about her sexual escapades, tells the reader the book isn’t about sex, and then talks about it on just about every page. I skipped through a lot of it and never found any redeeming qualities.  If you want a funny book written by a female comedian, read Tina Fey’s book or either one of Mindy Kaling’s.  So much better.

English Lessons (Andrea Lucado) – I recently received an ARC of this book after being selected to be part of its launch team.  It comes out May 2 and I highly recommend it.  It’s a memoir of faith and I found it relatable on so many levels.

Emails from Jennifer Cooper  (Robert Scott) – you get the plot through the emails in this one and I appreciated the unique device.  It’s got action but it is also a great character study.  As a counselor and naturally curious person, I really enjoyed this part.  (Disclaimer: I have a friend who played a big role in the development of this book.)

I’ve got a huge “to-read” stack ready for April. Hopefully with spring break coming up I’ll be able to get to a lot of them.  Happy Reading!

When You Realize Your Heart’s Been Changed

Growing up I had this friend who was in every class with me from kindergarten through high school graduation.  Really, I had a frenemy in every class with me – it’s just that the word hadn’t been invented yet.  I didn’t have a difficult childhood but there were times she tried to make it one.  If she was bored or had no “better” people to hang out with, she was kind to me, but the second anyone cooler than me (and I wasn’t anywhere near the top of her list in that department, by the way) cared to show her attention, she kick me to the curb in a hot minute.

I tried, oh I tried, so hard to get her to like me.  Nothing I ever did was good enough, and, for some reason, I still gave her opportunity after opportunity to hurt me.  My high school journals are full of this swinging pendulum.

July 29, 2002: “God, I am having so much trouble loving _______ again. Maybe she is insecure about her volleyball ability but every time I make the slightest mistake she treats me as if I’ve committed an atrocious crime and she can’t trust me anymore!”

Somehow in the midst of it all, I wrote out another prayer, “God, I can’t wait for you to change her heart anymore.  It hurts too much and I can’t bear it. So change mine instead so this doesn’t destroy me.”

I remember so many nights just sobbing in my room over the injustice of it all.  My poor mother – I’m sure many of those times I was overreacting, but she said with me and spoke Truth to me nonetheless.  I distinctly remember her encouraging to walk with grace and dignity, confident that the Lord would deal with her in His time.  She assured me this would happen, whether I witnessed it or not.

Those words, lots of prayer, and the kindness of God got me through the rest of high school  My frenemy didn’t change, but we graduated and went our separate ways and her opinions no longer mattered and she no longer had opportunities to reject and belittle me.

….and now God is dealing with her….

And there is no part of me that takes delight in this fact.

I drove home Friday afternoon for a funeral. My frenemy was there, her face showing the result of sin, brokenness, and devastation.  She has endured more pain in the last 10 years that probably anyone in my graduating class, and was delivered another blow this week.  The circumstances of her life are such that she can’t cleverly hide her past choices and consequences.  She wears her brokenness for all to see.  She’s been humbled.

And there was no part of my heart that felt God had finally given me justice.  I didn’t look at her and think, “Finally – she got what she deserved.” Instead, the only prayer that left my lips was, “No more, Lord.  The one you love is sick. Come heal. Come redeem.  No more.”

In that moment I realized God had indeed answered my prayer.  Granted, I am now about 15 years removed from the worst of the incident, but many of us are able to hold grudges longer than that.  Instead, I realize He has changed my heart.  We’re still in the midst of whatever he’s doing in hers, and I am going to pray every day that the resolution is one of abundant life.

But the miracle I want you to hear today is the work He’s done in me.  In the last fifteen years, He’s taught me the depths of my own sin. He’s humbled me, softened me, and given me a deeper measure of empathy and compassion.  He’s changed my heart and without realizing it, I’ve come to love my enemy.  I only want good for someone who once seemed to enjoy inflicting me with pain, and I appeal to Him to have mercy and redeem.  Because I know if He can change a heart as cold and embittered as mine, there’s nothing he can’t restore.

 

Friday Finds – St. Patrick’s Day & March Madness Edition

It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year!  I don’t care too much about St. Patrick’s Day – I’m not even Irish enough for it to count – but I love the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament – so many games, so much excitement.  I almost want to take off work one year just to watch all the games…but I won’t. Not this year anyway. I also have a huge paper due Monday so I’m not even sure how much of it I will get to watch.  And I’m dying to visit the twins (and their parents) so that will take precedence.

Here are a few “Finds” for you from the week.

A Little Commentary on This is Us – this is the last time I will talk about this show for a while. The season 1 finale was Tuesday and I’m already looking forward to season 2. I think it’s a great show – there’s a lot of talk about it being emotionally manipulative. I disagree. I see it as teaching empathy.  That’s good for all of us.

If you are interested in having a little St. Patrick’s Day treat, here’s a recipe for a homemade Shamrock Shake that you can have whenever you want, because…here’s some terrible news…my local McDonald’s stops selling theirs BEFORE St. Patrick’s Day so I can’t even actually have one on St. Patrick’s Day. So that’s fun.

Sarah Bessey wrote a great post last weekend that resonated with a lot of people.  I appreciated her honesty and perspective. So I Quit Drinking.

Lastly, my good friend Chad Ashby wrote this great article for Desiring God a few weeks ago – Hospitality Is War. Chad is a pastor in South Carolina and the husband of one of my dearest sorority sisters, Mindy.  You can read more of his writing at https://chadashby.com/.

OK – I think that’s all I’ve got. Have a wonderful and restful weekend, Friends!