wearing sunshine

I will not wait until Spring for Winter to melt away.
Nope. Not gonna wait.

If Spring refuses to come, I will wear it instead.
wearing sunshine
wearing sunshine on a school day

Sure, these days are cluttered and cumbersome. But, if I read back over my recent blogs, it sounds like I’m constantly fighting for freedom instead of enjoying the freedom already won on my behalf. And, it’s true – it is a fight, but maybe I am only honest about the fighting part.

Let me ease your mind.

Laughter is still happening. It sounds like giggles when I pry the doors open of the subway and realize I’m on the wrong train. It sounds like cheesy jokes at a fancy restaurant on Broadway and 28th Street when I’m dressed like a country bumpkin. It sounds like loopy laughs when the card game Jungle Speed lasts until 2 am.

I wanted to make sure, lovely reader(s), that you knew about the way I got to watch all the colors of dawn wake up from the window of the J train last week. I really hope you know that I saw smokestack clouds forming lazily above buildings in early evening pink hues. I mostly hope you hear, in my forever winter tone, that I do believe Spring will come.

Let the winter come. For it is the only path to Spring.” – N.D. Wilson in Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl

when the skies wear out

The sky was beautiful today, but it is not forever.

The pale blue will not always look so perfect; the clouds will not always stretch across it like orphaned feathers. There is nothing permanent about the beauty we see around us. Like the thick ribbons of snow from yesterday getting trampled into brown slush underfoot today, there is nothing permanent about the beauty on this earth. At least not now.

And I have a hunger for the beauty, for the kingdom come, for the eternal. I have a hunger for a beauty that will last forever. We are in the middle of the dead of winter and sometimes it feels like our stone hearts are as dead as the dirty brown earth the snow is covering. It feels like our hearts are too dead to be revived by beauty.

Here is a bouquet of sorts. This song sounds to me like a beautiful flower delivery today – beauty and life in the dead of winter’s grim. Open it and listen and sing and rejoice because Christ makes beauty possible and Christ makes beauty secure.

As I celebrate the presence and beauty of Christ in Epiphany, I am also looking ahead (as Christ’s followers must have). I am looking ahead because, as Christ forgave sins and healed sinners, He was looking ahead to the cross.

Being present does not mean forgetting future glory. Being present does not mean avoiding future pain. Being present does not mean poor planning.

As Christ planted His presence in the soil of this earth, He also looked ahead to the ultimate sacrifice and endured it “for the joy set before Him.” He looked forward to the day He would satisfy justice and restore His children.

Rock of Ages, you have brought me near
You have poured out your life-blood, your love, your tears
To make this stone heart come alive again
Rock of Ages, forgive my sin.

Christ is the beauty that is forever, when the skies wear out.
Christ is the beauty that makes stone hearts come alive again.
Christ is the beauty that is hope secure.

there is no master puppeteer

It happens to everyone’s life.

We think we’ve wrangled enough control away from the arms of fate to coordinate our own puppet strings. We convince ourselves we are more secure this way – directing our own destinies. If the pace gets too frantic, we say it is because we want it to be that way. If it is too slow, we say the same.

We are all trying to “make it” and none of us want to fail. That explains the mad wrangling to be master puppeteer. But that means somewhere, in the middle of the dead of winter’s whirlwind, we lift up our stringless arms like we’ve seen them for the first time. We realize there are no puppets and no Master Puppeteer. We realize the fate controlling position we have been desperate to maintain is not a position at all.

It doesn’t matter if the ways we want to “make it” are worldly or heaven worthy. It doesn’t matter if our aspirations are corporate ladders or non-profit puzzles. It doesn’t matter whether or not we are clever. It doesn’t even matter if we have felt success.

What matters is that somewhere, in the middle of the dead of winter’s whirlwind, we see that only God is sovereign.

Maybe in theory, we always knew. We read the verses and heard the sermons and listened to friends’ humbled tales. We looked up at that great blue expanse and at the speckled night sky. We blinked eyes open in the morning and held joy in our hands. In theory, we always knew this world was too mysterious and painful and beauty-drenched to be contained by strings we could hold.

The devil in us convinced us it was possible and we believed.

But there’s something about winter that unravels the belief that we can control anything. Maybe it is standing on a subway platform wondering if our ten toes are still in tact. Or maybe it is trudging miles every day against the wind to catch public transit so we can make it 3.7 miles across the borough. Maybe it is lugging laundry 3 blocks away in wintry snow/rain mix. Or maybe it is gaining weight and wearing layers like marshmallows.

And when winter does unravel this foolish belief that we can be the Master Puppeteer (and that there is such a thing at all), we collapse a little bit with a great sigh. We fold into relief that it doesn’t depend on our performance or our planning. We re-read the words we’ve already memorized in Scripture and we nestle in to a future we cannot control.

“My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19

“Let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”
1 Corinthians 3:21-23

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7

“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”
John 16:23-24

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”
Mark 11:24

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
Ephesians 1:3

“Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”
1 John 3:22

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2 Corinthians 5:21

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
2 Corinthians 9:8

“Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation.”
Psalm 68:19

We bless the Lord who daily bears our burdens – not as a Puppeteer but as a Savior. We bless the Lord as we claim His control over the future and the past and the present. We bless the Lord as we live today believing He is able to make grace abound.

when the cold creeps in your bones

The cold wind is sneaky in this city. 

It crawls underneath and in between your layers. It wiggles under your collar and hugs your winter knees. The cold wind is sneaky and I’ve become a chain tea drinker as a result. Unfortunately, the wind always wins and now I’m pretty sure I have a fever. Obviously, the remedy is a big bowl of bean/carrot/garbanzo soup with rosemary, thyme, and cilantro. That and tea and the classic White Christmas. Obviously.

mmm soup

I kind of want to be done. Done with winter and done with commuting and done with the cold that creeps in my bones. Honestly, the best remedy for that “done” feeling is not soup or tea or seasonal movies indoors. The best remedy for any kind of mood is truth and that’s exactly what my friend reminded me about when I got this email today, perfectly timed and perfectly spoken. This is the kind of encouragement that reminds me there are bigger things, more beautiful things than what is making me “kind of want to be done.”

Read, friends and be encouraged by someone else’s words.

First of all, I would love to come to Pancake Monday. What a great idea!

Second-thank you. I was just flippin through your blog and came across a post from Feb of this year “saying no to things we like in favor of things He loves.”  I have been struggling mucho with this lately! It seems that I fit really well into this world.

Like I fit easily into the clothes of the world and I am rewarded for it by people who are deemed important by worldly standards. It’s easy for me to be admired for my looks and funny things I say. I learned early on that to make people laugh is a gift, but it is easily used incorrectly and for selfish gain. This isn’t bragging, it’s honestly a struggle. It’s a struggle because I know the truth that all these things that are so easily admired are nothing, and momentary. Yet in the moment the instant gratification is intoxicating.

The weight of it becomes fraudulent as if people are going to find out that I am a liar. Well, I am. And a sinner, and selfish and a long list of other things. And how it seems terrifying to be found out, but in reality there is freedom in that truth.  I have been wrestling in the legalism of “acting right” vs “acting wrong” and it drives me crazy.

But your post helped me to put down my judges gavel for myself and realize that to be obedient shouldn’t feel heavy. And if it is that I need to give it away. The price has been paid. To remember that to treasure Christ is worth more than momentary popularity. There is joy in the messiness and imperfection and that I am wonderfully made. That taking up my cross may seem heavy but that I’m not doing it alone.

The best part is that as I was struggling through this this morning I was honest and told God that I was having a hard time believing that he is better and asked to make my heart believe. Then I read that post and, if only for this moment, I am renewed. How amazing that He consistently and constantly pursues my heart and leads me back to his grace over and over again.

Yes, anticipation sometimes looks like work, but it is never without reward. Christ came. The One we anticipate came and is coming again. Our anticipation is never without reward because God keeps his promises.

it’s official

If you weren’t convinced before, this oughta do it. Remember my boot sliding escapade last week? Well, apparently I didn’t.

Here’s how I do the math:

snowstorm overnight + slightly warmer daytime temp + 5:00 pm = ice covered sidewalks

This is the equation that lands me smack dab in the middle of crazy (don’t forget that I’m notoriously unstable in good sidewalk conditions). I had been office-d all day, plugging away in Excel (wishing my brother would have given me the tutorial he promised over Christmas break) and pushing some papers… so I was ready to run.

The snow made my whole body nervous this morning (when I realized I have no idea how to drive in it), so running was going to be my way of snatching back my winter joy. The first five minutes involved a simple, out loud conversation with myself, “This is stupid. You are stupid.” But, I kept going… down the icy stairs, through the icy park, past a cautious walker, and looping around to follow the path toward the university.

I kept thinking, “Why am I doing this?” and then answering, “because this is how to live winter” … and then catching myself from a near fall. I really had very little mental space to process while I ran because I needed to focus singularly on staying upright.

I let a giggle jump out and chase the sky.

Let the winter come! And, oh, let me run in it!

I loved every bit of my run – no matter how official it made my craziness (I’m not sure that was even in question to begin with).

I loved the way the man stared at me when I said, “Should have brought my ice skates”
and the way I ran by the university campanile at exactly 5:30, approaching an ice patch (and the way I jolted when the bells chimed)
and the way people stared at me like I was some luny freshman, trying to resolve off 15 pounds
and the way the Cadillac slid to a halt to let me pass in front of it
and the way I only slipped once and another time saved a fall with bowling-like form
and the way the footsteps in the snow revealed other crazy people
and the way the wind whipped at my back on Lincoln Way, encouraging me on in my ridiculous endeavor
and the way the wind slapped my face on University, reminding me of my ridiculous endeavor
and the way that my stride grew every time I hit iceless pavement
and the way that winter is a muscle doctor – it’s like running inside an ice pack
and the way my lungs burned and my sweat froze

Let the winter come! And let me run in it.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy