raced the river

Last night, I raced the river (chasing the current like I thought I could catch up) with a silly smile across my face. The trees had shaken off the snow from the mysterious Spring storm and I shared the path with bikers, runners, dogs, and the most adorable lady with a walker. I threw my smile at all of them, giggling at the children who roamed unaware of the etiquette I assume is standard on any city path (don’t walk directly towards someone running in your direction).

I raced the river and caught several times on the breeze what C.S. Lewis would describe as “joy.” It was an excitement that fluttered with a “heaven-like longing” that cannot be fully satisfied on earth, but even the presence of the longing overflowed in delight.

Dr. Jerry Root explains one of the central themes in Lewis’s writing, heavily influenced from his own experiences with Joy. He spoke reverently in “Surprised by Joy,” his autobiography, about the brief passing moments where he experienced an unexplainable bliss and then was left to figure out how to experience it again.

Well, anyway… as I raced the river last night I knew I wouldn’t catch it. I knew I could not really take in the beauty of the cool early evening in the way I wanted to, the way the evening wanted me to. I think that was part of the blissful moment – knowing there was too much beauty to take in, even if I drank in every scene as I ran on the path.

So, my joy bubbled out because it couldn’t be contained. The river, the overcast sky, the families, the bikers, the little old lady with her walker, and the children wandering out into the middle of the action – all these very simple and mundane threads in the fabric of a Sunday night, but every bit a reason to smile.

Sunday evenings are great medicine for Monday mornings, yes? The scenes are different, but there is joy hidden in this day – the sunshine, the birds, and that crazy owl that is trying to tell me a story. I’m on my way to a staff meeting, but I’ll first be dropping off these little love bundles for “every day in May” creative challenge.

blessings, stamped and ready for sending
blessings, stamped and ready for sending

 

don’t stop too soon

It is a brave soul that uncovers raw pain
to search for meaning in existence,
that wearies and wars the shallows
to dig the depths of sorrow’s persistence

Don’t stop too soon.

It is a brave soul that sheds skins
and peels off veneers to find what truth is,
that pulls hard against peril when
layers reveal atrocities and ugly ruins

Don’t stop too soon.

It is a brave soul that opens eyes
against the blinding light of the sun,
that burns its heat and with fierce
impression reminds from where it comes

Don’t stop too soon.

It is a braver soul who believes
that Christ paid the ultimate cost,
tortured Himself so the tortured soul
would no longer be living lost

Don’t stop being brave too soon,
and whatever your bravery may find,
know that Christ Himself is brave for you
and His victory is thine.

This is day 4 of my “every day in may” creative challenge – to write something (poem, story, note, thought) as a special blessing for someone. I won’t share each day, but I wanted to share this poem from day 3.

There are several people in my life going through difficult times right now, so I’ve been thinking about bravery. If we are brave enough to be exposed and vulnerable (great thoughts from recent TED talk on this), then we will most definitely step into a mess of pain. But if our bravery ends there, we will miss out. We must be brave enough to see the deepest and most vulnerable hurt to experience the deepest and most satisfying joy.

there is a peace

This last day of April stretched out long and I stretched out to test the seams of it – to try to be as patient as the moments that crept by so I could experience each one fully. It has been some time since one day has had so many slow moments and I was content to savor them all. Maybe it was the sun that slowed things down, begging me to look extra long at the city as I sped from place to place.

There is a peace.

Maybe it’s irresponsible to be unafraid of the future and maybe it’s naive to hope for impossible things. Maybe the illusive peace this world craves with groans is not a thing my soul can feel. But, maybe not.

By grace (o, mysterious grace!), we can say, “There is a peace” both with certainty and with hope. Our belief that God is Redeemer, Promise-Keeper, Defender, Lover, Savior, and Friend prompts our certainty and his faithfulness to be all those things prompts our hope. The grace empowered cycle of certainty and hope is a fountain that wells up and overflows in peace that covers all uncertain and desperate moments.

There is a peace to settle your soul. Well, it’s settling mine anyway.

What shall I do with a settled soul? How can I make sure the certain and hopeful moments are not wasted? Our memory verse (from Fighter Verses) for this week is Romans 12:11-13,

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

There is a gracious peace that has settled my soul and the Lord is calling me to make my peace productive. The same grace that allows me peace makes provision for good works (2 Corinthians 9:8) that have been prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). As I savor the cycle of certainty and hope, God is breathing life into my bones so that I may live and move and have my being (Acts 17:28).

All this peace is for a purpose – that the Lord would be glorified in my dependence, my delight, and my diligence.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

There are many, many ways to serve our friends, family, and neighbors. This is May 1 and every May I try to accept the Every Day in May challenge. This year, I am going to use my love for creative writing to bless someone new each day. This might be through a story, card, special email, or clever joke. I may or may not post everything I do, but I might report some of the stories that happen as a result. I encourage you to take the challenge as well – for the month of May, choose to do something you love every day. My little addition is that you would use the “something you love” to bless others – that way you are both glorifying God with your gifts and blessing others with your offering!

from @frenchtoastgirl

every day in May

Happy May Day!

Back in 2010, my sister accepted a challenge to do something she loved every single day for the month of May. The idea is not all that unique (type “every day in may” in Google and you’ll see what I mean), but she made it her own. She painted every single day for a month. Don’t worry – her house still had wall space at the end because she gave much of it away. She issued the same challenge to me and I accepted – in the form of writing. I wanted to stretch my creative muscles and try writing in ways I hadn’t tried before. That was in 2010. 

One of my writing prompts during that month also came from my sister, who asked me to write a creative interpretation of the boy with the fish and loaves that fed the five thousand. I loved the prompt and the process of writing, “the story of a boy and a satchel,” which was used during the Sunday morning youth services at my sister’s church.

This year, for the month of May, I’d like to challenge you to choose something to do every single day. Something you love, something you do well, and something that you wish you did more.
Can I add another something too? It must be something that will add to someone else’s life as well. When I first accepted the challenge, I was writing for myself. I love everything about writing, but when I wrote for my sister’s church it was bigger than my little love for my little craft.

I know, it’s a big commitment.
But big commitments take bold action and can produce serious amounts of joy.
I’m in. Are you?
If you are taking the challenge, put this image on your blog or facebook so others can follow the journey.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy
every day in May!