New Things

I am writing this today mostly because I feel the need to document the events of the past 21 months as an Ebenezer, even if no one is reading this anymore. Obviously, a lot happened for all of since January 2020. When I last opened this blog, COVID-19 was only vaguely on the horizon as a bad virus in China and none of us had any idea how much our lives were about to change.

Mine has changed tremendously.

In January 2020, I found myself in a place of contentment. I liked my job, was connected to my church, and was deeply invested in ministry. I’d finally embraced a life of singleness and most days had a sense of fullness and confidence in living out the rest of my days that way.

On January 29, I said yes to a dinner invitation, mostly because I figured once we had dinner, this man would realize he didn’t want to be with me and would leave me alone.

On February 1, we had dinner and talked for over four hours.

When the world shut down on March 13, we found the slower pace of life allowed us to continue getting to know each other more purposefully.

He asked me to marry him that summer and I became his wife in October.

17 months to the day after that “yes”, our daughter was born.

And here I am, Jason’s wife and Audrey’s mother. So much has changed in a short, short time.

We are slowly figuring out who we are as a couple and a family and resting in God’s kindness. I am learning new routines, new rhythms for walking with the Lord (because — no time!), and navigating how to establish community while we maintain a pretty small circle due to health concerns.

And I am confident of this – I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I hope to write more about all that has happened soon. But for now, here’s an update. Life is crazy and very sweet.

Studying the Bible in 2020

In my last post I mentioned that I’d made some plans for studying the Bible this year, so today I thought I will share that with you.

For the past 5ish years, I’ve made it a goal to read through the whole Bible in a year. I successfully did so in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. I used several different reading plans during this time.

In 2019, I decided to try something different for a few reasons. In the fall of 2018, I began teaching the women’s Bible study at my church. That fall, we did Jen Wilkin’s study of Genesis 1–11, God of Covenant. During those months, I found it difficult to study Genesis and prepare those talks, and really spend time studying what I was reading to finish the Bible in a year. So, I chose not to make it a goal to read the Bible all the way through last year. Instead, I read all of the New Testament in January, which, averages out to 9 chapters per day. This also was not conducive to in-depth study, but I liked how it helped me get the big picture in a relatively short period of time. While I read, I practiced summarizing each chapter in 2-3 sentences. This helped me trace events and key arguments. I recommend it if you’re looking for something new. There are also plans out there to read through the New Testament in 40 days. That may be fun to try for Lent.

Beginning in February devoted the rest of the year to studying specific books in depth (they were the same books I was teaching in our women’s Bible study). The spring was spent in 1–3 John, and the summer and fall were devoted to Genesis 12–50. I have come to love spending months in one book and the depth of the insights that come from that.

With that in mind, for 2020 I am trying to find the best of both worlds. I am back to reading through the Bible in one year. I am using the Blue Letter Bible’s chronological reading plan which can be found Here. In addition, I am going to pick 3 or 4 books of the Bible to study in depth. I will be studying Hebrews from now until mid-April (our spring study for church), and then will move on to James. I expect to spend most of the summer in James. I’m not sure what I will choose for the fall. I’m hoping an Old Testament book will stand out as I’m reading.

I also want to be sure to mention that there is no perfect way to study God’s word. Maybe you’re reading this and don’t think you could possibly spend that much time, or don’t yet know what it means to really study. Just take what time you have and read it! That’s the most important thing. Five minutes a day is not a waste. If that’s all the time you have right now, use it! While I have a pretty full schedule, I live alone and don’t have to care for a family right now. I’m also probably not spending nearly as much time as you think. I’m a really fast reader.

This is what it looks like in my house. I do my daily reading through the Bible in the mornings while I eat breakfast. The reading takes 10-15 minutes. Please understand that I am not doing an in-depth study here. I am reading for comprehension and a bird’s eye view of the meta narrative. I am using my Growth Book to track a few themes that I want to able to trace through the whole Bible. Right now that means, I’m noting where I learn the names/character of God, a foreshadowing of Jesus in the Old Testament, and any reference to the presence of God among his people. If something else jumps out at me, I write that down, too. Then I pray and I’m done. That’s it. That being said, we are only 8 days in to 2020 so there may be more topics I want to add as I go. I’m studying Hebrews in the evenings while I eat dinner. This habit is a little more difficult to build because I’ve grown accustomed to eating my dinner in front of the TV. Again, I’m spending maybe 15-20 minutes going through Jen Wilkin’s Hebrews study and reading commentaries. I do spend a little longer on Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons depending on my schedule.

What are your Bible study plans for the year? If you’ve got any questions for me, drop them in the comments and I may answer them in a future post!

Hello Again

Hi, friends.

It’s been a while. I didn’t mean to take a year off of writing this blog, but I guess that’s what happens when you don’t have a plan TO write and get a little busy.

Aside from just being too busy to make writing a priority, I think the biggest reason I haven’t written lately is because I really didn’t know what I wanted to say. I want this blog to have a purpose, and most of my posts were just lists of books I’d read and, quite frankly, I didn’t enjoy writing them. I also read far fewer books in 2019 than I had in previous years (55 vs. 100+).

That leads to me to this – what can you expect from this blog in 2020? Well, you can expect more than one post in a calendar year. On January 1, I sat down and made a list of 20 things I wanted to accomplish in 2020. I’m not going to list them all publicly, but as I do some of the things on the list I may highlight them here.

One item on the list, however, is to post on here at least twice per month. Some of those posts may be book reviews, since I do hope to read 60 books this year. My goal is also to get back to the original purpose of this site, which can be found in its name, This Cloudy Glass. What I hope to share the most is what I’m learning as I study God’s word — those glimpses of Him that are obscured by our own limitations, but bright enough for us to know He is marvelous and glorious. I’ll share more about how I’m studying the Bible this year in my next post…stay tuned!

In closing, here are the lyrics to the song that inspired the name.

Like a Glass (Dennis Jernigan)

Though I see right now through a glass rather dimly / I can see enough to know I need You desperately / Shine the light of Your true Living Word deep within me / I know I need Your grace, I just want to see Your face

Like a glass, here is my heart, and I see You rather dimly / But You see clear within me, cleansing every trace / Of the dust I’ve let build up that’s kept me from what I love dearly / To see Your face more clearly…I just need Your love and grace ‘til I see You face to face.

There are times when I think I can see Your face more clearly / Like the lifting of a mist as the sun reveals the day / In this life I want to know You so well that when death’s near me / I will notice no big change when I finally see Your face!

In the Garden

Our story begins in a garden. In the most perfect and beautiful garden one can imagine – the home God made for the man and woman he’d made. The man and woman enjoyed peace, all comforts, and a perfect relationship with the God who loved them and made them. They were given a charge to fill the earth and rule creation. The garden was meant to grow.

But instead, we find the woman, Eve, fell victim to the lie that God didn’t really mean what He promised. For a moment she doubted His desire for her good and did the one thing He’d told her not to do. She committed treason.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the mad and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden

Eve understood in that moment what had been lost. In shame, she ran from His presence, though she couldn’t possibly understood fully what the effects of her actions would be.

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

He went looking for her in the garden. And we read next that God issued consequences for this sin and in the same breath promised one day the curse would be undone, when Eve’s offspring crushes the serpent’s head.

Then He clothes them in garments of skins. Did you catch it? God makes a sacrifice to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness and shame. The first sin offering. Right there in the garden.

Then He tells them they must leave the garden, but not out of anger. They have not been cast out. Even in this, He is protecting them from eating from the tree of life and begin eternally trapped in spiritual death.

“The expulsion from paradise, therefore, was a punishment inflicted for man’s good, intended, while exposing him to temporal death, to preserve him from eternal death” (C.F.Keil). It was merciful for God to send them out of the garden and prevent them from eating from the tree of life.

And so this story ends with a cherubim with flaming sword blocking the way in to the garden. I see Eve glancing back toward him, thinking of all she has lost.

But this is not the end of the story, or of the garden.

Years later, the Promised One arrives on the scene and one night, He walks purposefully into a garden. He surrenders to His Father’s fill in total obedience. Unlike Adam and Eve, He does not doubt the love of the Father. Here He is betrayed by one of his own — arrested and taken out of the garden to die on the hill.

He is crucified — naked, put out for open shame, and wearing a crown of thorns. He bears the full consequences of the crime committed long ago. He dies.

So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Another garden, another sacrifice. The Promised One surrenders in the garden. There He is buried, and for a moment, hope is lost.

But there in the garden, the Son of Man rises with healing in His wings.

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”….

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stopped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”

Here we see Mary Magdalene, one who knew as well as anyone the full impact of the curse. This daughter of Eve, from whom, Mark tells us, Jesus cast out seven demons. A woman scorned and shamed, rejected, hopeless. What she must have been feeling in this moment! Her days following Jesus had transformed her life and given her purpose and joy — what was she to do now? Was it back to brokenness, isolation and hiding in shame?

Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

I hear the desperation in her words. Where is my Jesus? What have you done with Him? At least give me His body to mourn. Where else could she go?

Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (Which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” — and that he had said these things to her. 

The first act of the Risen Christ was to find the broken and shamed woman in the garden. This time, though, she wasn’t hiding from Him. This time, the woman turned and beheld Him, then ran into His arms. The Risen Christ finds the woman and reconciles her to Himself. Mary Magdalene – the first to trust in the finished, complete work of Jesus Christ. She walks with the presence of God in the garden. The angels in this garden no longer prevent access. These angels usher her toward His presence and announce His finished work.

And still, this, too, is not the end of the story. He gives her a job to do. Go and tell. Tell the others Christ is risen. Tell the others the curse has been lifted and Jesus is making all things new. Everything sad will come untrue – even death.

Like Eve, Mary’s mandate is to be fruitful and multiply. Go and tell and bring the blessings of the garden to the whole earth. Go and tell that men and women from every tongue and tribe and nation will believe and one day be citizens of that great city, the New Jerusalem. For in the middle of that city is another garden, filled with the river of the water of life; “also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

One day soon we will all be with Him in the garden.

Abiding in Truth

A little over a month ago I came across a new podcast, Journey Women with Hunter Beless.  Several of the episodes have been so good that I’ve had to stop what I’m doing to take notes. One, however, was so profound for me that I’ve listened to it (and cried through it) more than once. [You can check it out here – Intimacy with God with Kim Vollendorf.]

One thing that Kim talks about is how she made some ABC meditations one who God is and who she is in light of salvation.  I found her lists so inspiring that I decided to make my own. It’s taken a few weeks and I’ve only done the first one – attributes/characteristics of God, but I wanted to share it here.  I will (maybe) share the other list when I’ve finished it. My list looks a bit different from hers….there are many different words that could go with each letter so I picked what resonated most with me right now in this season.

For now, though, here are the ABCs I’ll be reciting and meditating on as a way to abide in the Truth every day.

God is Able. He is Better than all else. He Cares for me. He Delivers me because He Delights in me. He is Eternal, He is Faithful Forever, He’s Good and Gracious to all He has made. He is Holy. He is Infinite and still Immanent. He is Just and Kind. He Loves me and is full of Mercy. He is Near to those who call on Him. He is the Omnipotent One. He is my Portion and Peace. He Quiets my soul with His love. He is my Rock and my Refuge, my Strength, my Song, and my Salvation. He is Truth, He’s Unchanging. He has the Victory and His Ways are Wonderful. He is eXcellent in all his works. He Yearns to show compassion on his creation and His Zeal for His glory will not be denied. 

Friday Finds: 10/6/17

I hope it’s feeling like fall where you are – it’s almost 90 here, but I’m trying not to complain about it.

Here are a few links and other things for your weekend.

The National Book Award announced its nominees earlier this week. Out of 20 books nominated in non-fiction and fiction, I am both surprised and a little embarrassed to say I haven’t read a single one! I do own Sing, Unburied, Sing (it was one of my Book of the Month picks last month), so I will make reading it a priority. I haven’t even heard of most of them.

I mentioned Free of Me by Sharon H. Miller in my September reading summary.  Sharon wrote a great piece for The Gospel Coalition highlighting the themes of her book. Read this and if it resonates with you, get her book.  I think it’s great.

Melissa Kruger also had a great post on TGC’s site this week: Life in the Shadow of Death.  She’s another one of my favorite authors.

Worth a Listen

Here are a few sermons/podcasts that made me say “Amen” more than once.

Curtis Jones of Bayou City Fellowship in Houston, TX: “The Good Samaritan and Race in America”

Nancy Guthrie at TGCW16: “Three Little Words that Change Everything”

Rockbridge Church (my church!): “Church Works: The Building” and “Jonah: Part 1”

And, lastly, a couple new albums that I’ve been playing on repeat: Where His Light Was by Kristene Dimarco, and Lecrae’s latest release, All Things Work Together.


Something for your Sunday

I needed this today: “Hope for the Unhappily Single”

“If we are married in this life, it will be for a brief moment, and we won’t regret that brevity ten thousand years from now. We really won’t. No one will say, ‘I really wish I had been married’ — much less, ‘I really wish I had been married for five or ten more years on earth.’ That would be absurd when those years seem like seconds compared with all the gloriously, thoroughly happy time we have when our marriages end at death.

“We need to think about that as we weigh the intensity of our desperation to have it now. We need to ask whether we have made marriage a qualification for a happy and meaningful life. Am I undone and miserable by the prospect of never being married? Do I think of myself as incomplete or insignificant as an unmarried believer? These questions might reveal red flags that warn us marriage has become an idol.

“Ultimately, we will all be single forever, and it will be gloriously good. We will all be finally married forever, joined together forever with our Savior and First Love. We’ll know well then that the marriages here on earth truly were small and short compared with all we have in Christ.”

Church of the Small Things

Does any of this matter?

This is the question that haunts me on the bad days, the days when the mundane and seemingly trivial tasks get on my last nerve.  How many times with I have the same conversations with these overly dramatic 7th graders? Why does the kitchen sink stay so full of dishes when I’m the only person living in my house?!  I thought my life was going to be more than this. And I know it is more than this, but it’s also very much just this.

The answer to the original, of course, is yes, yes it does, and that is why I am so excited for Melanie Shankle’s book, Church of the Small Things.  In this book, Shankle shares the way these small moments can be beautiful and breathtaking in their own way.


Her stories resonated with me and as I read her words I remembered many similar moments in my own life.  Like just last week when my almost two-year-old niece pulled up a chair next to me while I was watching football and put her hand on my knee.  Just an ordinary beautiful day…

The most powerful memory, however, was that of the church house group my family went to when I was young. We met every Tuesday night at a dear elderly couple’s home.  My dad played the guitar and we sang worship songs together, then the kids went into the basement while the adults did a Bible study (I mean, I guess that’s what they did) and prayed together.  We kids played outside or in the basement until we heard the host call out “Ahoy down in the engine room!” – the signal for us to come running for snack time!

That house group was my family: my honorary grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my older brothers and sisters.

I remember some Tuesdays the adults took longer than others.  As the kids got antsy, one or two of us would sneak upstairs to see what they were doing and maybe get an idea of when they would be done.  Once when it was my turn I peeked into the room and saw a woman in tears, sharing something difficult, while several others held her close and prayed.  In that moment I saw clearly what the church was called to be.

Now, over 20 years later, I am the single 30 something in a multi-generational house group.  I stay upstairs with the grownups while the kids go into the basement.  It’s come full circle for me.  My favorite part of the group, though, is the kids. Because I know full well what a beautiful thing it is they get to see each week, and I hope I am showing them the love I received.


All that to say — GET THIS BOOK!  Church of the Small Things doesn’t release until October 3rd, but if you preorder now (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) you will receive some awesome gifts just for preordering.

Once you’ve ordered, fill out the form here and receive:

  • My Favorite Things ebook by Melanie Shankle
  • Church of the Small Thing Video Study Session 1
  • 4 Downloadable prints from the cover artist
  • A book themed lock screen
  • The first 3 chapters of the book so you can start reading now!
  • Coupon codes for some discounts on Melanie’s favorite things
  • 5 recipes

(And, the book usually arrives on release day when you order it this way, so that’s an added bonus.)


Friday Finds: August 18, 2017

I’m just going to start by saying there’s nothing fun about this Friday Finds post.  I am just wrecked over the ridiculousness that is happening in our country right now (and has been happening for way too long).  I’m sick over it.

Therefore, this post is going to be a list of thought-provoking articles and podcasts I’ve found lately.  I tried to add some of the more nuanced discussions, however, there is absolutely no nuance in the issues we are facing.  There is no gray area when it comes to white supremacy.  This is just wrong. wrong. wrong.  It’s disgraceful.

Some Articles:

Let’s begin by defining some terms: What Christians Should Know About the Alt-Right

A Few Thoughts from Timothy Keller

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies

How Black Lives Matter Changed My Theology

The Monuments Must Go – an open letter from the descendants of Stonewall Jackson.  Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee’s descendants have made similar remarks.  In fact, both of those men worked diligently for reunification in the later years of their lives and wanted all symbols of the Confederacy to be disposed of permanently.

White Debt – and yes, we are talking about reparations.

Let’s Talk about Whiteness

And while we are talking about speaking up for the oppressed, have you heard what is happening in Iceland?  This is a tragedy, and we’d be naive to think it isn’t also happening in America.

Some Podcasts:

“White Supremacy is Spiritual Bondage” – a great message from The Gospel Coalition’s podcast.

Truth’s Table Podcast – I just started listening to this a couple weeks ago.  Here’s the description from their website: “We are Black Christian women who love truth and seek it out wherever it leads us. We have unique perspectives on race, politics, gender, current events, and pop culture that are filtered through our Christian faith. So pull up a chair and have a seat at the table with us.”  The episode entitled “Respectability Politics Reimagined” is brilliant.

Pass the Mic – Pass The Mic is the premier podcast of the Reformed African American Network. Tune in every week for engaging discussions and high profile interviews addressing the core concerns of African Americans biblically. Notable episodes: “A Biblical Theology of Race” and “Current Events: Charlottesville”.


Friday Finds: August 4, 2017

I’m back!!! Amy, this is for you.

I had such good intentions about actually posting this summer, but clearly failed.  I spend so much time sitting at my computer at work that I prefer to never open my laptop at home unless I need to pay bills.  That being said, every month one of my goals is to blog more and I really do want to accomplish that at some point.

Here are some “finds” I’ve enjoyed this summer.

  • Knitting – I’m not actually very good at it, probably because I only end up doing it once every few years when I make a baby blanket.  This summer gave me the opportunity to do it again (thanks, pregnant friends) and I remembered how much I love “creating” something with my hands. I’m currently working on an afghan for myself. It’s the first thing I will have made and kept!
  • The GIPHY feature on my iPhone – I’m having a blast sending GIF only texts with my sisters.
  • More podcasts – I’ve found several new good ones this summer and now I have too many in my queue.  I either need to unsubscribe from some or be at peace with not listening to every episode of every show. Some of my new favorites include The Gospel Coalition’s Word of the Week and Real Crime Profile.  I also recently started listening to Ben and Ashley’s Almost Famous Podcast (they interview other Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants and talk about the show).  Another fun one if you are nostalgic for the TV Show “Reading Rainbow” is “LeVar Burton Reads” – each episode he reads a short story.  It’s fantastic.
  • This sweet story about a couple growing their family – you have to read the last sentence – it’s hysterical!
  • This News story out of Ocean City, MD.  This is my nightmare.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Check back next week!