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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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Entries in His Voice (4)


come hungry

Admitting I am hungry is not that hard. Seeing my gaping spiritual need for Jesus can be a lot harder.

In John chapter 6, Jesus feeds over 5,000 hungry people who have been following him. He sees the crowd and asks Philip where they could buy some bread for them. Philip is from the area and Jesus asked him this to “stretch his faith.” Philip points out feeding this crowd would cost eight months’ wages.Andrew notices a boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish. But says, “That’s a drop in the bucket for a crowd like this.”

Gaping need. Empty stomachs. Empty baskets. Empty pockets.

You know the story. Jesus has the crowd sit. He takes the loaves and the fish and blesses them. The disciples hand out enough food to fill the stomachs of the crowd, about 5,000 men and the women and children with them. The disciples gathered 12 baskets of leftovers. 

The crowd then kind of stalks Jesus. He slips them a few times. Things heat up when he calls them out saying they only follow because he filled them up with food and for free. He tells them about spiritual food. His body, he says, is the real bread; his blood, the real drink. 

The Jews grow more and more restless as he builds his explanation. They argue. They bicker among themselves. They fight. Many leave Jesus. 

Even the disciples say, “this is a tough teaching, too tough to swallow.” Many disciples leave and never return. 

The people and even the disciples could admit their physical hunger, but the spiritual hunger they could not acknowledge. They resorted to poking all kinds of holes in Jesus’ story. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? How can he say he came down from Heaven and expect anyone to believe him? How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?”

They argued, they bickered, they fought, they fled. 

This is my story. I argue. I bicker. I fight, and I flee. 

I frequently try to assuage my spiritual hunger with things like perfectionism and performance, relationships and food, rescuing and numbing. Every day I have an appetite. What will I choose to fill me? I use things to fill my appetite so I won’t have to see the gaping need, the empty soul-stomach or the empty baskets and pockets. In reality, nothing will fill me but the Body and the Blood. 

Like the disciples, I look for physical resources when only spiritual resources will satisfy my hunger. God wants our physical and material needs to invite us to see soul needs. “The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen.” 

Recently I found myself numb at church. I realized I had been stuffing the wrong things into my soul. With a few words of confession, I asked for the Spirit to fill me. I admitted my spiritual hunger and how many times I turn to other things. 

I felt my appetite return for the things that truly fill and satisfy. “The one who brings a hardy appetite to this eating and drinking will be fit and ready for the Final Day.”

And I opened my hands to receive.

All Scripture is from John 6, The Message.



finding my voice

I quit blogging.

Because I got into a cat fight on Twitter with another blogger.

Because the vitriol and hatred in the blogosphere suffocated me and paralyzed me and sucked the words right out of my heart.

Because I lost my voice in the vortex of it all.

I don’t want to be another voice in the matrix plugging my little corner of theology or morals or even truth. 

So I had to ask myself: What do you want?

I know that words live in my bones and clamor to come out. 

I know that I will not win any battles with words shaped like swords hanging over the heads of my supposed “enemies.” Who is my enemy? Those who believe differently than I do? I don’t think so.

I know that I have a voice, and I was created to put thoughts into words and share them.

I know that I write to shape myself and perhaps others. And that when I don’t write, I don’t grow. 

I wrote these words weeks ago but haven't had the courage to post them. This morning I uttered a prayer before I had my coffee asking the Lord to help me find my voice, my prayer wordless and more like a groan. Then I made my way upstairs, coffee in hand, for some quiet time aka water for a dry soul. A random book  (Bird by Bird) came into my view, and I plucked it from the shelf and read the answer to my prayer.

We write to expose the unexposed. You can’t do this without discovering your own true voice. Truth seems to want expression. Unacknowledged truth saps your energy.  - Anne Lamott

I paused because I didn’t want my voice to be bended and sound like all the others. I paused because I needed to heal. I am writing because I breathe and I have to. The experience held up a mirror and I saw jealousy and narrow-mindedness. I saw pettiness and the desire to be right over love for people. Now I sense it is time to write again.

I recently stumbled upon Glennon Doyle Melton is a voice of encouragement amongst the many caustic voices. I am reading her book - Carry On, Warrior. She writes, “If anywhere in your soul, you feel the desire to write, please write. Write as a gift to yourself and others. Everyone has a story to tell. Writing is not about creating tidy paragraphs that sound lovely or choosing the ‘right’ words. It’s just about noticing who you are and noticing life and sharing what you notice. When you share your truth, it is a love offering to the world because it helps us feel braver and less alone.”

I am thankful for space and time and a loving God to help heal my soul. I am thankful for you who read and let me know you are encouraged or touched in some way. May this offering of love warm you and encourage you to write or dance or sing the story God has given you.

let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't... Romans 12:6 The MSG



Final Word

When your parenting spans 22 years, you learn to cherish things like basketballs sitting atop the kitchen island and stinky socks in the corner. You stop getting ruffled by armpit odors that will not come clean and 30 minute showers that drain hot water heaters. You take a deep breath when the Wii has been roaring for several hours. You treasure and ponder in your heart the way they grow and how the years feel like minutes. 

Saturday we decorated for Christmas. I tried to shake the feeling of being rushed since I had not even digested the turkey from Thanksgiving. Joy cannot be brokered but mine took a dip when I had to string the lights on the tree twice. As we listened to Sara Groves sing Angels We Have Heard on High, Sam’s expression turned pensive.

“Why,” he asked with his head slightly tilted, “is she singing Oreo over and over?” 

Gloria and Oreo sound distinctly alike and I am certain if the angels had ever tasted double-stuffed they may have considered singing Oreo. But, dear child, they are sounding the praises of their Christ, the Messiah. The story unfolded of shepherds in a field and the nearby birth of the Savior of the World. 

Not too  much later as I stood stringing lights in the den (my position for most of Saturday and Sunday), the boys were watching Avatar, a cartoon favorite. This amazing story spans several 100s of episodes. But I “happened to be” there as the Avatar was coaching Kora (the next leader). And I swear to you what he said was exactly what I had been hearing the Lord say to me in the quiet space of our times in recent mornings. 

When I heard this with the clarity of a soul-ear attuned to the Shepherd’s voice, I laughed out loud sort of like Sara did. Gladness filled my spirit and the pricks on my hands from the tree stung less. 

He will speak. And sometimes we hear Oreo when it is Gloria. He has spoken through asses (by that I mean donkeys and sometimes foolish people) and he has spoken through cartoons. 

This Advent, I honor the Final Word. Jesus. I pray to use my mouth to utter the story, the good news. No doubt I will complain about traffic and prickly trees and God-forsaken lights. But above it all, I pray my tongue will shout to the top of my lungs: GLORIA!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. John 1:1


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.