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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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gaze of God

At the heart of the Universe, God wears a smile. 

For weeks now, I have mused the gaze of God upon my life. It all started when we studied the life of Peter in my small group. I came to believe that Peter’s life pivoted when Jesus gazed at him after his third denial. Jesus looked at him and knew him and loved him. There in the mess of Peter’s greatest failure, Jesus met him. He did not look away. He did not shrink from Peter. He did not even give Peter up as a fraud. 

I remember a time when this shift began in me. While on the mission field in Honduras, I began to understand that God loved me even in my greatest failures. I think the change in God’s expression - more accurately the change in my perception of God’s expression - marked me. And since then, I have come to believe that God uses my brokeness more powerfully than anything else.

I’ll never forget the day Donnie came to our clinic in Honduras. His mother and grandmother brought him wrapped snugly in a blanket smelling of smoke. The people of the mountain where we lived,  Rincon de Delores (corner of pain), had no electricity. Often they did not even have running water. Donnie was the fifth child of his family, and he had cleft lip and palate. At first I could not discern which woman was his mother. One held him and did all the talking. She clearly loved him and meticulously fed him with the tiny bottle they brought. She often asked questions of the other woman, the one with her head down in shame. This one would not meet my eyes. She seemed to want to run. She hovered near the door. 

I took Donnie in my arms and began to examine him. His thin arms and legs told a story of the difficult time he was having. He was close to being dehydrated despite being fed. His lungs rattled with fluid. He did not have fever. As I asked questions about how they cared for him, I discovered they fed him while he was lying down. Bottles are rare in Honduras. The women did not know that Donnie was likely aspirating the milk. I taught them how to feed Donnie correctly. 

As I examined him, I talked to Donnie and told them how wonderfully made he was. I praised him for his strength and his courage to fight for his life so far. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mother (the shame-filled one) soften. The corners of her mouth began to turn up just a tick. She could not take her eyes off her baby. 

She returned to see me over the years never with the other woman. Donnie grew and thrived. He eventually had surgery and all that was left of his wound was a small hairline scar. 

This interaction marked me. For the first time, I saw my lack of gentleness in myself toward myself. I would never have told this mother - just let Donnie tough it out. As I modeled kindness, she shifted and the love she felt for Donnie conquered her shame. 

I began to embrace the broken and crusty parts of myself. I asked Jesus for grace to wrap my arms around the entirity of my life. I began to see His grace equally in joy and in pain. And I invited the weaker, frightening, frailer parts of myself to the banquet of grace. 

As I muse the life of Peter, as I muse the interaction with precious Donnie; I see God’s gaze toward me. His loving gaze changes me. It changes my face. As my face looks to Him, it is radiant and will never be covered in shame. 

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