Hungry for mercy: thoughts on comparison, prayer, and Luke 18

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Fear settled in like the rain clouds this week. Not a torrential downpour, but a misty trickle that has me wanting to pull blankets over my head and hide. Like a scared dog, I want to tuck my tail and slink under the couch waiting for the threat of thunder to pass.

I want to hunker down and armor up, praying God will somehow vindicate me. I play the me vs the world game.

It’s bananas. It’s unhealthy. I know it.

And it still took me about twenty-four hours to find a bigger perspective while my feelings roamed all over the place and the lies weighed in heavier and heavier.

I consulted Jesus. What I wanted was vindication.

What I needed was grace. Continue reading

That embarrassing moment when I saw the thing about me everybody (but me) probably already knew

As I wrote the highlights of my reading from 2016, every part of me wanted to defend my reading choices, explain what I learned. Particularly choices I thought may be controversial. As the word count for the draft scaled 1,500 words after book four of twelve, something had to give.

Nobody wants to read that. Not even me. Probably not even J, who likes to read everything I write (God bless him for his enthusiastic support! How I love that man and the way he loves me!).

The words my friend Lo gave me from Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” came rushing into my brain. I don’t have to be perfect. I can be quirky and strange, as I actually am. I don’t need to hang my head as though the books filling my sails with air and faith and hope last year needed to be explained. I am allowed to celebrate the books God used to mold me.

So I chopped and simplified the post, largely leaving the books unqualified and unexplained — minus two with disclaimers from the authors themselves. Perhaps it’s mysterious, perhaps not quite persuasive enough. Perhaps it leaves more questions than answers.

What matters most about that post is not the actual book list, but the vital lesson I learned about me as a writer. Continue reading

What if election season is good for us?

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Election season freaks me out. Following news on Twitter. Skimming through posts in my Facebook feed. Listening to political conversations. All of it is making me bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S.

And as I sat prepping sermon notes this morning, my emotions got in the way. I am afraid. When I get scared, I lose hope. I want to control people instead of trust them. I focus on guilt over invitation.

But, here’s the deal. None of those inclinations are helpful. They don’t produce the change I’d like in the world. Hope. Trust. Invitation. These are the things which move us together towards a goal. Continue reading