Goodreads to Muse

Click to read my reviews

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

Gigi's favorite books »

Entries in grace (39)





In case you didn’t notice, yesterday I did not post a word. It was a horrible day with a lethal combination of bad luck and exhaustion. The final blow included unloading the car in a driving deluge.

Sam’s injuries included hitting his eye on the window of the car, a busted lip compliments of his brother, and nearly piercing his own ear with one of my earrings. The giant loop had a clip on the back. Sam placed the earring on his lobe and closed it. He nearly had a piercing by the time I removed the earring. 

Last night when I realized I had not posted a word, I lay horizontal in my comfy bed. Dynamite would not have moved me. Hence the word free, I am free to choose not to do something. 

I am free to choose who to worship. The young man pictured above made an impression on my soul. He participated in a native dance exhibition when we visited Peru. He danced before the Lord with all his heart and all his might. He will live in my memory as a perfect picture of free.

If Lent teaches us anything, it is that we need Jesus. His death gave me freedom. I cannot earn His love, deserve His forgiveness, or merit His grace. 

If the Son of Man makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36



clean: 40 words in 40 days

This morning I unfurled clean, white sheets across our bed. The smell of laundry detergent mixed with slightly musty wafted up to my nostrils. The nearly wrinkle-free, spotless sheet reminded me of what it means to be forgiven.

On this day I’ve mused clean. What does it look like for God to pour His infinite love into a finite vessel. He removes my sin as far as the east is from the west. What if I loved that way? Lived that way?

A clean start. A clean bill of health. A clean slate. I am given these and more. 

For now a sleepy seven-year-old boy sleeps in that white haven. Tomorrow I will start over. Clean.


penitence: 40 words in 40 days

penitence |ˈpenitns|


the action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong; repentance: a public display of penitence.


Unless you are a monk, penitence is not a popular word. Today we suffer from shame-phobias. It is easy to confuse penitence with shame. Even though we don’t hear enough about it, penitence is vital to a growing relationship with Christ.

Lent is to remind us of the place we occupy in Christ. Forgiven. Redeemed. To experience the fullness of this forgiveness, confession is key. To experience the richness of living as The Redeemed, penitence is paramount. 

On Ash Wednesday, we read a Penitential Litany:

Most holy and merciful Father:
We confess to you and to one another,
and to the whole communion of saints
in heaven and on earth,
that we have sinned by our own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

The process looks like this. I sin. I feel guilt or shame. I ask for forgiveness and receive it. I apply the blood of Christ. I move forward in grace. 

I realize that my life is not marked by this process. I go weeks without confessing my sins to the Lord. And I sin every single day multiple times a day, sometimes a minute.

Reading those words on Ash Wednesday among the fellowship of believers moved me to thirst for more penitence in my life. 


The Voice

This week a precious four year old came to my clinic, eyes and nose gushing water. Fever. Body aching. As I stood before him to get a nasopharyngeal swab for a flu test, he hauled off and kicked me like a bucking bronco. That wasn’t the worst part. He coughed effusively in my face. I wandered away with the swab thanking Jehovah I had a flu shot this year. 

Last night I felt the first effects of the love he had shared. Pins and needles inhabited the back of my throat. This morning I lay in bed like a sack of lead. Sam and I decided to watch church from home on live streaming. With a little IT help from J Mac Brown, I got her up and running. 

Sam pointed to Bill Wellons on the computer monitor and said, “I remember when he wore his jeans inside out.” What would Bill have for us this morning from the Word? We have been snailing our way through Luke’s gospel. Chapter 23 finds us back with Pilate. And true to form, Bill had a basin set up and kept washing his hands like he suffered from OCD. 

As he dried his hands, he uttered the point that kind of stuck in my heart. What we do reveals who we listen to. Voices swirl in my head. Just this morning, I had spun out down a bunny trail of blogs on the “purity culture” in the evangelical church. Powerful words cracked open the elephant in the living room. 80% of us enter marriage as non-virgins. I must have had 5 or 6 tabs open reading through the stories. Despair threatened to grab my eyes from behind and pull me down. Even in the raw-honesty and self-disclosure fit for priests and not blogs, I could hear the contempt. One side pointed fingers as they labeled “unrepentant.” The other cast the villain as patriarchal shamers intent on seeing women in burkas before the end of the year. 

So many voices calling for attention and change. So many voices claiming to be right. I felt sad that we have shamed women who haven’t kept themselves pure for their marriage bed. I felt fear that some of the stories of these courageous women would blur the idea of chastity. 

I literally bounced from tab to tab to read as I watched Bill preach. Finally, The Voice called to me. Be still. Sam came over and climbed up in my lap. We snuggled below a furry soft blanket. And as Bill closed, he asked, “What is The Voice saying to you?” We ended by singing In Christ Alone. I raised my hand in worship. Sam emulated. I realized Sam had given me the perfect vision of what The Voice says to me. He lay back on my shoulder little arm raised to the sky. Peaceful. At Rest. Worshipful.

You are loved.


receive mercy

Writing about mercy with Jenn Lebow on Mercy Mondays ended up on my highlight list for 2012. As I researched and read about mercy, it made me thirsty. Thirsty, that is, for mercy. 

Quickly I saw that my little Campus Crusade definition “to withhold a judgment deserved” did not do justice to this term. Perusing the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, I discovered that the Hebrew term for mercy also means womb. Hebrew is a language of few words, actually. Often the complex abstract words have literal meanings. As a lover of words, this delights me. And so I wrote a definition of mercy from my study of it:

Mercy is a woman. A woman with a womb. She is strong and tender. Her arms open wide to embrace and hold fragile, war-weary souls. She is not faint nor is she shy. Her strength in the face of fear and cavalier sin overwhelms the crudest sinner. Her ancient face is lined with furrows of kindness and gentleness. Goodness marks her days. As we fall into her embrace and burrow into her womb, life-giving blood courses through our souls. Sins  evaporate. Shame flees. Forgiveness triumphs.

Click to read more ...