Have you ever read a fictional or biographical book minus the first chapter?
I remember as a young child sitting in the book closet of our home (I never realized until I just typed that phrase that we had a “book closet” rather than a “linen closet”! I’m thankful my parents cared that much to keep us stocked with good reading!) and reading Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John.
The book so profoundly affected me that as seven year old, I determined I was going to be a wood carver…and for several years saved money to purchase carving tools. In hindsight and judging by my decidedly un-artistic abilities, it’s probably good that this dream never materialized into mangled pieces of wood. But I digress.
One aspect I remember most about reading Treasures of the Snow was its missing cover and front pages. The story begins with a Christmas Eve scene in the Alps of Switzerland. In the first chapter, the main characters and their relationship both to one another and to the plot of the story is set…but I missed some of these pages. Without these important details, I struggled to make sense of following pages.
It’s too bad to miss the beginning of a book you’re reading. But what if you miss the beginning of the story you’re living? Continue reading →
I saw a date in the margin of my Bible this morning that made me start—2/26/04. It wasn’t just the date that took me by surprise, but the realization that it has been exactly ten years since that day.
I remember where I was when I wrote that date—on the top bunk in a guest room in Bowie, Texas.
I remember the verse I read just before I wrote that date. (I don’t actually have to remember that one—it’s right there in the margin of my Bible. But I remember it anyway.) Psalm 86:4, “Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”
I remember what I did after I read that verse and wrote it in my journal. I stepped outside the guest house with a spiral notebook and sat on the back stoop to write an article for the magazine I was editing at the time. The article appeared in the June/July ’04 issue of Stepping in the Light, and it was titled “Sing, Little Bird!” The article provides some insight into that day: Continue reading →
Earlier questions had received similar answers, and Natalea and I were running out of questions for entertaining the six-year-old in the car. I had given him and his mother a ride home from church, and we were stopped at the store while she made a quick trip in.
In the hot car with a restless six-year-old, quick was seeming pretty long.
“I know! Let’s play a game—let’s see who can see your mom first when she comes out of the store!” (Yes, I know that is a boring game. I was at the bottom of the barrel—“I Spy” was next.)
But to my surprise, this was the moment Nicholas finally had something longer than a grunt to say. Continue reading →
Actually, what I most wanted was to parachute. I think I must have been about six or seven when I learned about parachutes and how they work. Ready to experience the thrill for myself, I found two ready-made chutes (a.k.a. plastic grocery bags) in the kitchen drawer and persuaded my sister to go parachuting with me off the top of our backyard swing set.
Quite honestly, it was a disappointing adventure. No broken bones, but no working chutes either. Continue reading →
Seven years ago, I stood under a star-studded sky in central Texas and made a decision. With a tinge of dramatic anticipation, I looked to Heaven and prayed my own paraphrase of Jeremiah 26:14: “Lord, do with me as seems good in Your sight.” And then I offered a particularly painful area to Him.
But the outcome of that decision wasn’t quite what I had hoped.
I learned early on that spiritual decisions make spiritual turning points. And turning points are usually exciting. There is a surge of joy in Holy Spirit-prompted surrender, and there can be a rush of anticipation in the biblically-rooted change sure to follow.
So seven years ago, when I knew that I needed this surge of joy and longed for a fresh sense of grace, I made a decision to surrender.
…marks 171 years since David Livingstone first sailed for Africa.
I recently had the opportunity to read another biography about Livingstone this summer. I was especially impressed as I learned that, in the minds of many, he didn’t have much “missionary promise” when he sailed for Africa. He wasn’t a bombastic preacher, and he didn’t have a charismatic personality. Not likely to succeed.
Much of what Livingstone did in Africa was tedious and slow-going. He preached the Gospel everywhere he went, but he was navigating unexplored territory, usually sick, often hungry, and sometimes deserted. He persevered and died without seeing the full fruit of his labor. Continue reading →
Perhaps it was the crisp fall air from this morning, or perhaps it was the bag of apples calling from the fridge, or perhaps it was the fact that this was the first evening in over a week that I’ve had a few minutes without a specific obligation. But whatever the reason, I decided to make an apple pie tonight.
My mom makes the best apple pie ever. Of course, pie baking expertise is not absorbed by osmosis—as I am well aware. It’s the crust that always gets me. My mom bakes a perfect crust—thin and flaky. I can’t remember that I’ve ever baked a good crust in the kitchen alone. But, since it’s been years since I last tried and failed and since I couldn’t reach my mom on the phone, I decided tonight was the night for success!
I pulled out my mom’s recipe and began measuring and mixing. Yep, the flour and salt mixed together great!
As I began to cut in the butter, I called Kristy, a dear friend from out of state whom I haven’t talked with in months. We chatted as I watched what was taking place in the bowl in front of me with growing concern. This wasn’t looking quite right. In fact, it was looking very wrong. Continue reading →
I write this post after two virtually sleepless nights—both directly or indirectly related to a bad rash of poison ivy. (Ugh!) While concentrating on not scratching last night, I remembered a verse about long, painful nights that had been a help to me during my college days.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).
I remember one morning in particular reading this verse after an especially short night of sleep.
Of course, none of us like to experience the “night of weeping” referred to in this verse—a season of heartache or pain. These night seasons always feel too long.
But as I read the verse that morning through droopy, bloodshot eyes, I realized that the alternative isn’t any better. Short nights don’t make for happy mornings! Continue reading →
In the context of a larger conversation, a friend happened to mention last summer that she had completed a moderate workout the evening before—running for forty-five minutes on a treadmill at 5.7 mph. Without much thought, I noted the comment and reminded myself that I really needed to be exercising.
Less than a week later, I determined to begin, and I set a goal for myself of forty-five minutes per day. I decided that I should start my new plan with moderation, and remembering my friend’s earlier statement, I decided forty-five minutes on the treadmill at 5.7 mph would be good for the first day. (She said it was moderate!) It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a strenuous workout! I chalked it up, however, to being very out of shape and determined to persevere.
Four miles and forty-five minutes later, I staggered off the treadmill and collapsed on the floor. The next day, I could hardly walk. (If you’ve not been much of a runner, let me encourage you that this is not a good start!)
During those grueling forty-five minutes, I grasped for something to occupy my mind—anything to distract myself from my exhaustion. I thought of Hebrews 12:1, “And let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Continue reading →