Why Gray is Better than Black and White

“It is possible to enjoy Me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances. My light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark.”   Sarah Young, ‘Jesus Calling.’

I grew up in Southern California, the land of pavement, palm trees and perpetual sunshine., All that blue and bright color became a backdrop for the clearly delineated cultural, political and religious landscape of the ’50’s and ’60’s.

But times have changed. Oh, they have changed.
Lines have blurred, been redrawn, moved again.
We have no longer a common vocabulary, no shared reference point for the weight of a thing–cultural, political or religious.

The word “President” has been reduced to caricature. When I say “church” it calls forth a non-committal body without bearings, bereft of power, often innocuous in its offerings. (Not the church particular, but the church as a whole.)
When I mention “truth” the connotations are a free-for-all. The center has moved, knocked from its pedestal.
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Glancing at the January gray outside my window I can see much better than on those golden, blue-sky mornings of Summer or Spring. When the beauty cracks open, color and light stealing the stage.
All the bright green things–it’s very distracting.

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Maybe in these gray days we can see lies better, black against the sky.

We must keep our eyes focused on the horizon, the goal of what matters beyond politics, religion or culture. See the truth as an incandescent bulb, a lighthouse before us as we make madly for the shore, rowing in the dark.
We have to contend for the Light, my friends. We have to keep rowing.
There is only one beacon breaking through the clouds.

It is the God things that matter. The God things.
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sharing with Lyli and the Thought Provoking Thursday link up

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Start Small, Start Now

Yes, here I am on a Wednesday, writing a little something for you, dear readers.

I’ll keep it short–my random brain is considering a quarterly newsletter communique to stay in touch. In keeping with my ‘start small.start now’ mantra for the New Year–what practices will move you towards who God has made you to be?–I’m extending my reach with another writing avenue beyond this blog.

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Tentatively titled, “Random Acts of Writing-the Miraculous to Mundane,” my newsletter will be a wrap up of life, faith and leftovers, so to speak, from my non-linear brain. Random Acts will also be an extension of the thoughts on “Glory Writers” our online Facebook group, sharing words to encourage, inform and uplift along with thoughts on writing, life and faith.

(By the way, if you’d like to join Glory Writers, just knock on the door. Glory Writers–Putting Faith into Words–is facilitated by myself and Emily Allen. From the description:

“Glory Writers–A vibrant community for Christian writers to find connection, inspiration & information about all aspects of writing, blogging & publishing. This group is a catalyst for encouraging and growing writers of faith from where they are to where they want to be, through weekly opportunities for sharing writing projects, questions and comments and Monday Facebook live videos.
Come join us!”  
We’re a closed group, but would love to welcome you.)

So, would you like to receive such a compendium? Perhaps your friends would? Let me know in the Comments by leaving your email address and I’ll add you to the list.

First issue–March 15th–woohoo!

 

How Not to Be Intimidated by this Great Big Year

For someone who considers herself a writer (I do. I am.) it amuses me and surprises others when I announce, if asked, that I’m not interested in writing a book. Well except maybe my memoir–isn’t everyone writing a memoir? 

But writing an actual book? No. I know how much time and effort goes into such an endeavor–why would I opt for that?

Except that well, maybe I am. The book idea literally dropped into my brain the other night after the long ride home from a Christmas visit to my son’s. I had a few Deep Thoughts while traveling in the car, a reflective time of our four days together, but I had no idea my thoughts would turn into anything. When I sat down to download my thoughts on paper I ended up with an outline, chapter sections, an introduction and marketing plan.

I’m sure every author starts in such an inspired fashion. Of course the hard part, the seemingly impossible part, is to finish the job with the perspiration part, to misquote Einstein.

But this post is not about the book idea but the idea of a book. Those are two different things.

For everything we do begins with an idea. And it’s the DOING that sometimes keeps us from even beginning.

Our pastor’s message last Sunday was about Nehemiah’s rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Prodded by a broken heart for the condition of God’s city, Nehemiah asked for permission from the King to return to Judah and assess the situation. He began the task alone under cover of dark, surveying the project and noting what needed to be done.

After Nehemiah gathered the information, he returned to the King and asked to begin the work. Permission was granted; Nehemiah solicited help and commenced building, stone by stone, day by day. And 52 days later they were done.

The point of the message: Start Small. Start Now.

Perhaps the progress you seek will take more than 52 days; it may be more like 52 weeks. Life changing work usually takes little lifetimes. But that shouldn’t frighten you from taking the first step.

What is your small step?

Continue reading “How Not to Be Intimidated by this Great Big Year”

On Keeping Words-Notebooks, Quotebooks & Journals

               “His view of truth was such that he would have accepted no distinction between ‘spiritual’ and secular’. He saw no conflict between his Christian convictions and his interests in science and philosophy. All true knowledge leads to divinity.”   Iain Murray, “Jonathan Edwards, A New Biography”

Whenever I visit the Thrift Store I head to the book section first with an eye out for old children’s books and classic literature.  I have found many treasures that way, the most recent being a very slim volume written by Natalie Babbitt (her very first book, 1969) called “The Search for Delicious.” Although it’s hardly a classic, Delicious does have a fairy tale feel with some timeless themes.

Babbitt begins the story of a king and queen fighting over a definition of the word ‘delicious’. The King is writing a dictionary and is stuck on the letter ‘D’ because no one in the castle, his wife in particular, can agree on what is delicious.

Twelve-year-old squire Gaylen is shortly dispatched to travel across the Kingdom, polling its citizens to record their thoughts and opinions in his notebook. The King hopes to reach a consensus of meaning and thereby restore peace to the Kingdom. Gaylen sets off on his horse Marrow with little more than a pen, a notebook and food for the journey.

Gaylen’s task takes him far and wide, leading him to some very strange encounters, a bit of adventure and not a few brushes with disaster. In the end, everyone in the kingdom agrees on the meaning of the word ‘delicious’, Gaylen learns how to be brave and harmony is restored.

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I enjoy saving and savoring words—new words, old words, your words.  Although I am not endeavoring to write a dictionary, I have quotebooks and notebooks of varying shapes and sizes containing all manner of language within their covers.

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Words with more than one meaning—like ‘make’ and ‘take’ or ‘pitch’ and ‘frequency’–all go in my ‘Defining Moments’ journal. (I got the idea from Kel Rohlf, who wrote a little volume on words and their meaning, devotional style.)

I have a small Moleskine of other words that are new to me, the meaning of which I have yet to learn, set aside for my own dictionary work. Words like ‘mimesis’ and ‘amanuensis’ via the book I’m reading for the season—“Waiting on the Word—a Poem a Day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany” by Malcolm Guite. Continue reading “On Keeping Words-Notebooks, Quotebooks & Journals”

What to Do When You’re Distracted

“I had more freedom now and I had to feel my way into it, see which barriers had fallen and which still were up… I couldn’t be satisfied until I knew the boundaries and where the openings were, if any.”   Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow, c. 2000

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When Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction…But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” I think He meant the words more as a protection than anything else. A protection and a promise. (Matthew 7:13,14)

I am very easily distracted, especially by other folks’ words. If there are conversations going on around me while I’m trying to listen to a friend, I have a hard time focusing. And when I have too many words—virtual or on paper, it’s almost as difficult to concentrate or hear. (I recently donated two enormous shopping bags of books to Goodwill because it was too “noisy” in my living room.)

In the wake of the recent Presidential election, I almost let the weight of All the Words crush me. Everyone had an opinion or argument, even fellow believers. Especially fellow believers.

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Besides being easily distracted, I have a knack for people-pleasing and being easily influenced. I began engaging in online conversations just to have my say or prove my point. In the process, I almost forgot who I was and what God has called me to.

Of course, our enemy would like nothing better than for us to engage in conversations that add no fruit to our lives or further God’s kingdom. Distractions can be helpful in accomplishing this. Those verbal pathways don’t have to be evil or dangerous, but if they’re not part of my journey, I don’t need to be going there.  Continue reading “What to Do When You’re Distracted”