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 Space (7)



If Advent means anything in my life, it means to offer space for God to work.

As I understand it, the gospel means that God saved me in my sin and nothing I can do will increase His love for me nor diminish it. As I grow in my faith (sanctification), I can offer ground to Him or in other words offer my life.

This attitude is beautifully demonstrated by Mary the Mother of Jesus. Mary's words show a heart willing to bend to God's plan and a will deeply trusting of God's goodness. "I am the Lord's handmaiden. May it be as you have said." Luke 1:38.

I want more than anything for my life to reflect that sentiment. Sometimes I look around and I cannot see my way clear of the refuse of this fallen world. I don't see a way back to grace. I cannot find a path to peace.

My past (faith) reminds me that God has provided for me and has never left me. He has come through at the last minute or He has acted in surprising ways. This is the soil of my faith. My future (hope) is built on trusting His character. I want to live with that kind of memory and vision and let it shape my present.

These past few days at the beach have given me the space to prepare for Advent. As I wait, I offer the God of the Universe space in my heart to work.

Mary offered her womb - a space for miracles. I want to offer space and wait to see what God will do. This is what Advent means to me.


have mercy

I am 46 hours late for the Mercy Monday post over at Jenn Lebow’s Mercy Mondays. She mercifully allowed me to still post. I mostly am late because I still don’t really know what mercy is. I’m asking. God is slow and painstakingly clear in His telling.

Ever since Jenn visited me in early August and we sat on my swing until late in the night, I’ve mused mercy. Like Jenn, I studied James in the spring and truly sang hallelujah as I read that mercy triumphs (James 2:13). Nothing like the book of James to rouse up a good case of mercy-itis - only cured by mercy. 

We talked about our good ole Campus Crusade definitions. Mercy means the withholding of a judgement deserved. Grace is unmerited favor. These two are so close that you cannot differentiate the very arteries and veins suppling their lifeblood.

This week in preparation for a post on “mercy as pardon,” I pulled out some 10 or so 10 pound books. I’ve looked at the Old Testament Word Book, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, Addiction and Grace by Gerald May, in addition to various online sources. One phrase has captured my attention... “this is the exact place where God met with humans.”

The wings of two cherubim shadowed the mercy seat. Once a year the Hebrew priests sprinkled blood on that exact spot - the mercy seat - as an atonement for sin. Atonement means something that makes the offended party glad again. It means to be in harmony with one another. Literally to be AT ONE. 


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The star

As December goes by in a blur, I'm taking some time to look for the holy. As often happens, the first Sunday of Advent blew past me. I counted Christmas Sunday and therefore miscalculated the first day of the season. My church has chosen not to light the candles on the Advent wreath so I sat through the service none the wiser. It was Wednesday before I picked up my Advent book and realized my error.

In this season, I need a yellow light to slow me down... Even a red light to stop me. A busy, fast life swirled around a cold, damp stable as the King of Wonder entered his human tent. Why should I be surprised if it is the same for me today?

Yesterday Skip, my dog, and I took a hike by the river. Several times I stopped in my tracks as the beauty of heaven and nature singing took my breath away.

NO ROOM, was the Innkeeper's response.

I want to make space for God-child today in my heart.


open hands

This thought floated through my mind as I reached for a pecan I had toasted. Really, the only manner to overcome addiction is moment by moment.

The irony was not lost on me.

I was not hungry at the moment. The pecan was just there at the wrong place and the wrong time. Well, that is my excuse.

A lot of things are up in the air for me right now. As both children enter school in a few days, I am faced with a lot of space and a number of choices. Space is what I have longed for and wanted. When facing space dead on, one can become paralyzed by fear. I’ll never forget snorkeling and swimming suddenly over an area where the ocean floor literally dropped off into eternity. The space massive space threatened to envelop me. It was a moment of terror looking into that deepest blue and realizing how small I was/am.

Gerald May, in Addiction and Grace, talks about the space left behind when one curtails an addictive behavior. “Although this emptiness is really freedom, it is so unconditioned that it feels strange, sometimes even horrible. If we were willing for a deeper transformation of desire, we would have to try to make friends with the spaciousness; we would need to appreciate it as openness to God.”

Living with that space is difficult and exciting. There is no other way to do it than moment by moment.

May goes on: 

The purest acts of faith always feel like risks. Instead of leading to absolute quietude and serenity, true spiritual growth is characterized by increasingly deep risk taking. Growth in faith means willingness to trust God more and more, not only in those areas of our lives where we are most successful, but also, and most significantly, at those levels where we are most vulnerable, wounded, and weak. It is where our personal power seems most defeated that we are given the most profound opportunities to act in true faith. The purest faith is enacted when all we can choose is to relax our hands or clench them, to turn wordlessly toward or away from God. This tiny option, the faith Jesus measured as the size of a mustard seed, is where grace and the human spirit embrace in absolute perfection and explode in world-changing power. Gerald May, Addiction and Grace, p. 128

Will I clench my hands around the pecan (the idol) or will I relax them and let God fill the emptiness? Will I turn wordlessly toward Him?


my rhythm

rhythm: noun; a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound : Ruth listened to the rhythm of his breathing.

Every year growing up, we traveled to Destin, Florida, early in the summer to the finest, whitest sand known to man. Now, as an adult, I feel incomplete if I don’t get to the ocean at least once a year. And such is my rhythm.

And so this year after the City Swim Meet on July 23, our sweaty and smelly family of five loaded up our van and turned south. This kind of traveling requires commitment and stamina. Thank goodness Matt has the stamina. You put him behind the wheel, and kind of like a bull, he will get there or bust. We got there at 2:00 a.m. For an hour, we came alive and took in our little condo on the 22nd floor. Then we collapsed in the beds for a few more hours of sleep. Most of us had slept in the car too. 

For a week, we enjoyed the beach, the fresh seafood, the view, the ocean and body surfing, the quiet. We unplugged. We rested. Another rhythm. Since returning last night, I have concentrated on finding a new rhythm: re-assembling our home after the madness of re-entry, re-stocking the fridge, re-establishing a daily routine of meals. Re-orienting myself to normal daily life helps me find my rhythm again.

In Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton suggests some practices for helping us keep our lives on a path of spiritual transformation. She addresses topics like solitude, reading scripture through lectio divina, prayer, self-examination, discernment, sabbath and establishing a rule of life. The rule of life helps us answer two questions: Who do I want to be? How do I want to live?

At the beach, I spent some time contemplating what I want my rhythm to feel like. Silence must be part of my days. I’d like to intentionally make Sabbath more about rest and play. My Bible will become more of a love letter and less of an instruction manual. Undoubtedly, a yearly trip to the beach is something my soul and spirit must have.