Goodreads to Muse

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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 Mystery (4)


see the unseen

It is quiet here at midday on the first Sunday of Advent. Only the sound of boys chatting and laughing, the sound of Fifa 15 on the Play Station, the sound of the Titans game low in the background break the quiet. My stomach is full of turkey sandwich and the house is littered with Christmas decorations. 

I don’t know how many times I have completely missed the first Sunday of Advent. It is easy enough to do, especially when leftovers from Thanksgiving still stock the fridge. I would get so frustrated with myself over forgetting that first Sunday. 

Today, though, we did not forget. Matthew (23) was home from college so we grabbed the chance to decorate the tree together.  I suppose I have a Norman Rockwell image in my mind of how this should go down. The scene includes hot chocolate and carols in front of a warm fire. Everyone is laughing and chatting. Everyone is engaged and eager to help hang those little ornaments on the branches. 

Today the distractions are endless: Nerf guns,  remote control flying helicopters, football on tv, iPhones and iPads. Matt and I goad the kids to help reaching a shrill tone of voice in desperation to get the task done. The lights take two hours and my back aches from holding light balls over my head. They are much more crowded up in one spot near the top of the tree. Charlie Brown may have done a better job! 

But more than anything,  one feeling prevails on this day. 


My eyes are focussed to see the camaraderie of the three brothers. My ears are tuned to hear the laughter and teasing and love. It ends soon enough with Matthew back to Knoxville and Matt to work. 

It is into the everydayness that Christ entered. He stooped down and made Himself a baby so that He could save us. I do not want to miss His incarmational Presence this Christmas. When I see the love of God or when Mystery cracks open my paradigm for life, will I run and hide? Or will I open myself to it? I want to say the same words as Mary. I am the Lord’s handmaiden. May it be as you have said.

Will I give up my notion of Rockwell scenes and perfectionism? Will I embrace the mysterious way the Lord has ordered my life? Will I surrender to Mystery? Will I keep  my eyes open to see the unseen?

For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37


interrupt me

Lately I have been struck by the way God enters our world and interrupts life.

Going about our daily tasks especially when routines are not in play like summertime, it's easy to forget God orchestrates our steps.

Some areas of my life are perplexing. I examine them and think this is not the way I thought things would turn out. I'm learning to let go of what I had planned even sometimes what I had hoped in order to grasp what God wants.

So much is packed into those words. Easy to write, hard to live.

The truth is that I am promised nothing on this earth save this moment and God's availability to me in it. And that is everything that I need. My flesh pulls me different directions and says I "need" this or that. But all I really need is God's Spirit in the here and now.

A million times a day I look anxiously about to either the past or future. When I do that, I lose my peace. My access to that peace is in this moment and I trust that He is enough.

Today, like almost every day, as soon as Sam woke up, he joined me on the patio. He asked me, "Do I have swim practice today? Do I have tutoring? Do we have church?" I picked up my phone and showed him the iCal. Two very important words were at the bottom of the screen. "NO EVENTS."

We both took a deep breath and laughed. How will we see God in a day like today? Chip Dodd says that mystery is walking in faith that God is big enough to be in control, and that God doesn't require our help to get the job done.

I can't wait to find out how mystery and "no events" play out in today.


my keeper

A week ago Matt trimmed our bushes in the front yard under a blue sky. As he worked on a tall holly, he discovered a bird’s nest. Quickly he got away from it in hopes the mother would not smell human. Mother birds will abandon a nest if she thinks there is danger.  As he showed us the nest from a distance, we realized that one of the baby birds had fallen out of the nest. The scrawny, featherless bird hung upside down snagged on a limb. His beak moved open and shut as if to cry for help.

Matt tried using a rake to “catch” the bird and push him up to the nest. We finally left him there hoping the mother would return and pick up the bird with her beak and put him back in the nest. 

Today we realized the abandoned dead bird was still hanging there in the holly bush. His brothers and sisters chirped in the nest right beside him awaiting their next meal. 

It’s really a horrifying picture of this dog-eat-dog world. Is there a more dreadful picture of frayed humanity (avianity) than a mother abandoning her child/ren?

If I’m honest, this speaks to a core fear I have of God. Often in the midst of confusion, trials or hardship, I wonder where He is. Has He abandoned me? Will He? When will He?

And yet we have these promises in His Word. Hebrews 13:5 says, “Don't be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, ‘I'll never let you down, never walk off and leave you.’”

It’s interesting to juxtapose this promise with the warning. Don’t be obsessed in getting more things, He says. Because when we are afraid, we grasp and grab and search about for guarantees. 

And so in the dark, as I honestly confess my fear, I reach for His hand. And it is there.


God's presence in confusion

Confusion happens when mystery is an enemy and we feel we must solve it to master our destinies. Gerald May

We were flying down the road on the way to freedom. I said to my friend, “we are safe.” In that moment, I realized I had left a child at McDonalds. We had been eating a Happy Meal when 15 or so enormous men with gargantuan guns  entered. In fear, we snuck out. One problem. A child was left behind. Upon realizing I had left him, I turned around u-turn style no braking. Then realized I was in reverse and traveling backwards. Then came the dead-ends. I did not remember my way back to McDonalds. Then I saw the tanks and more big men with big guns. I was frantic, screaming. I took out on foot. I sprinted through alleyways, houses, shrubs. Finally, I started up some stairs that ended in a room with insulation and naked people of all ages hiding there in the insulation. 

Even as I cleared the sleep from my eyes, the details of this dream sharply stung my mind. Since we returned from Honduras, I have had varying scenarios with the same theme: a lost child I cannot get to. 

God’s “no’s” are about our protection. Whose protection? In this scene, God (if He is sovereign and I believe He IS) separates mother and father from children. Brothers are separated. Four children are left behind. In another country. Ruins. Wounds. Weeping. Devastation. 

Where is God? Why did He say NO to this? How can He rebuild? Redeem?

Yesterday Lloyd taught on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God placed it in the garden (a limit, a no) along with the Tree of Life. His plan was for us not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. We got to eat freely of the Tree of Life securing our immortality. Once we ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we were cut off from both trees. And chased from the Garden. From that moment on we would grope, fight and chant our way back to God’s Presence.

Abundant Life flows freely from God’s Presence. So now I don’t need the Trees. I have Christ. His Life paved the way for me to know God’s Presence, Desires, Influence, Healing in my life NOW. If we were created to be priests in the garden cultivating and keeping His Presence in the Holy of Holies, I can return to that role at any point. My TASK is to live with that as priority numero uno. I am a Levitical priest in the Holy of Holies robes a swinging, bell a jingling, incense burning.

So even when the circumstances paint only a picture of CONFUSION. What is God doing? Where is He? I don’t see Him. I can’t find Him. I rest in MYSTERY. 

He is at work. He is sovereign. He is the Father to the fatherless. He is I AM. I am not.

I go to my Holy Place where He ALWAYS is. And I bow my knee to Him. I shake my bell. I burn my incense. I chant the Holy Scriptures about the Truth of who my God is. 

I believe.