Growing up I don’t remember being grounded much. That’s not to mean I was the perfect child (far from it y’all) because I was met with a spanking instead when my mouth got me in trouble. A grounding would mean my oft-times introverted self would have a reason to sit and read for hours instead of playing with the majority of boys that grew up in our neighborhood.

Being grounded or getting grounded has taken on the connotation of that of airplanes more than it’s intended meaning. We’ve been there when a plane has gotten grounded, and the disparate sighs of the passengers and the crew too become the soundtrack of a gate. Or it’s been our own and we scurry to try to get around it, finding another one to hop onto to bypass the grounding. But being grounded as a person means you are stable, realistic, unpretentious. Wouldn’t you want that for your plane as well as your character?

Maybe that grounding as a kid was so that we could be more grounded as an adult, emotionally and mentally stable, realistic. Being grounded gives us time to think about what put us there to begin with as a kid. What consequences our actions (or words) hold for us and those around us.

I thought on this as well when I saw Paul’s words to the Ephesians of “being rooted and grounded in love”. And then again his words to those at Colosse, “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.” That grounding means rooted, holding fast, and found tapped into the very love of Christ and hope of the gospel. Being grounded isn’t a punishment but a reflection of character and of Christ Himself, who we are called to reflect. That to be grounded means we are unmoving and not blown about by whims and feelings, but connected to the source of our rooting, the True Vine Himself.

I think for me I’d much rather be grounded more and more as an adult, finding that if it’s in love it ends up setting up roots that grow deep and secure not in my own actions, words, whims and feelings but in Christ’s, in the very Hope of the world.

Daffodils in Winter

SONY DSCI cut daffodils out of my front yard the other afternoon.  Daffodils…Y’all it is the last day of February.  The high today here in Nashville? 72. This is ridiculous.

I am having NONE OF IT. NONE.

This winter kid is having serious withdrawals of no snow, freezing temps and big sweaters. My sinuses hate me, my allergies are in full swing and I do not want to look at pastel colored things just yet bunny rabbit.

I want my winter.

In my tantrum of missing winter, I had somehow misplaced that Lent begins Wednesday. As in tomorrow. I have been looking toward Lent in many respects as a means of shifting thoughts and heart-dwellings more towards Christ and less in the muck I have found myself sinking into in the new year. While I have bemoaned the lack of said winter, I can now see the hope coming forth earlier as a good thing. It means a time of seeing my need laid bare for Christ and the gift that is salvation brought forth at Easter.

I may not have liked spring reminding me of the hope, the joy and the need for Christ but I can now understand more than ever how deeply my soul needed the newness of life coming from the earth…reminding me that from that very earth is where I came and that without Christ, it is where I would return.

Lent can be the focus as spring ushers in the coming reminders of salvation, resurrection and life in Christ boldly. It’s a time to give space, time, attention and focus to our need for Christ and His love for us that was so great He beared it all for us. When I want to choose discouragement over a lack of snow, I can remember the joy that is the site of yellow daffodils springing up each morning and evening, every day on my table, and what that life represents to me as a fellow ground-dweller.

Spring would look much different without the hope of salvation, the promise of freedom and the love of a Savior.

Living in La La Land

rs-la-la-land-3d3a431a-8329-4539-b953-51e2d61a396cInitially I wanted to see La La Land, but then when the hype and awards buzz hit peak level I slowly started backing away from it. Opting instead to see new favorite Hidden Figures (it’s amazing, you must see it). But alas, I finally saw it in the last couple of days.

And y’all, I loved it. LOVED. Here’s a caveat, I keep a skeptical eye on musicals. I am really not a fan when people break into song for no apparent reason. They also tend to be overly sweet in nature, sometimes not, but often so.

Back to the matter at hand, La La Land…y’all it is a great telling and portrayal of the tension of ambition and love with the backdrop of Hollywood. But to see the tension fully of the two individuals play out was something that really pulled the story together. I love me some Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (hi Crazy Stupid Love, anyone?) but more than that, they showed the conflict they were both living out so well.

Because often the struggle of pursuing dreams, dreams that break you and hurt you, can be in direct conflict with love and a relationship because we like the idea of a clean separation of both, of handling both, but what often happens is they are pulling and tugging us in directions that come across as opposing. I could not help but see the beauty in that mess on the screen. The messiness of life in general can cause us to hurt and emote in ways we wish we didn’t, or even lead us to give up on that pursuit simply out of the need to not be hurt anymore by it, choosing instead the more solid route of comfort and security.

Seeing La La Land was a reminder that messy can be beautiful and it can be both temporary and permanent, it can leave us longing and wondering, but it can lead us to places we’d never thought possible if we recognize the tension of both and allow the tugs and pulls to be in the right direction. But we may not get it all the way we thought we would, and there in lies the rub of it all with our own selves.

We struggle against the path of perfection, of our ambition and love both intertwining easily in order to get all that we expect instead of living out the hard tension of hurt, heart break and wrong timing. When we are able to face them we understand more about who we are and how we resolve those. Maybe we shouldn’t be living so much in la la land with our expectations and instead find a way to live in the tension of ambition and love a bit more.

Bachelor Friday

It’s been quiet this week around here as I have battled quite the cold/flu/sinus infection concoction that seems to be after everyone in these parts. Have any of y’all had this crud? It’s rather infuriating just how easily something like that can take you down for days. I digress though, y’all didn’t pop over here to hear about my sickliness. On to the Bachelor…

I had to go back and re-watch the first half hour again because I was in such a sick fog I completely blanked on who went home and what occurred between the crazy and the crazier out there on the patio furniture in Wisconsin.

My poor namesake Sarah, I was rooting for ya girl. You had a funny opening line as the “runner-up” when you met, you seemed bright and witty…much too good for this dude. You even weighed in to the Corinne crazy to help guide her a bit, but alas you went home, and were you ever emotional about it.

That’s what struck me this week (over the voodoo dolls and two-on-one date nuttiness) is that you get very vulnerable when you open yourself up to a relationship with someone, even in the format of a reality show and knowledge that 20+ other women are vying for this same guy.

After a few interactions with a person you get a certain comfort level that allows your heart to open up at the possibility of something more, that this could be the person you marry….Women, we tend to get invested at that point. We put our focus and our heart into it much more than a guy for the most part. We look beyond the present and start to see a potential future, leaving our hearts open and willing to look past circumstances or rational thinking (sometimes) at what might be a life partner.

I watched Sarah break down in the post-ceremony catch up at how she wants to be loved, and I think at the heart of the matter they all do, much like we all do at our core. We desire that love when we release ourselves at the possibility of a relationship. We find we do want that even if we’ve kept ourselves guarded and unexpecting of anything further. It takes courage to be vulnerable and also realize you are wanting love like that in your life, the love of another person who is right there in front of you and you see a connection with. It hurts all the more when that’s not what they desire or it doesn’t pan out how you had given yourself the freedom to hope it would.

So we find ourselves much like Sarah was on Monday night, emotional and questioning if love was meant for them…wondering if love from another is what we all are destined to have.

Love, Silence and Refugees

Almost four months ago I sat at a small table in a refurbished warehouse/gym on the outskirts of Bologna, Italy. I was a foreigner in a land I didn’t speak the language, but was welcomed with open arms by a community as I sought to get to know them and how they served. At this table sat several members of our team, along with an Italian citizen and two refugees from Ethiopia.

That night we were assisting the home church with a fellowship time for the refugees, as they were in temporary housing adjacent to the church. Bologna had turned into a holding place for many refugees seeking asylum and assistance from Ethiopia mainly, and were seeking to work and provide in order to bring their families into the safe haven as well.

That night the refugee crisis came right up to me, not just on a tv screen or a story shared in social media. That night among the 11 men who were there only 2 spoke English, the other nine speaking French…but none speaking Italian. They had no means of supporting themselves while they waited for the paperwork and government red tape to clear them, they were simply there. And the church was seeking to honor them, their humanity and our love for our neighbors by opening up their doors and hearing their stories, giving them a place to be and feel like a human once more.

As I sat at that table, I wanted to run and do something else, be somewhere else because the stories were hard, they were real, and they were sitting right in front of me. One 17 years old, without family, sent out to escape to a better life outside of war and poverty, telling us about his favorite thing to eat-a stew his mother makes. I thought of my nephew, just four years younger, and how I pray he never knows that life but these do. The other man was 30, years of running and war were very apparent in how he talked and in his eyes.

For almost four months now I have thought back countless times to that cold night in Italy, sitting in that room with those men, and hearing their laughter as we played musical chairs…simply to take their mind off of the hard and into enjoyment for a time. I think about their feet, in flip flops that didn’t fit as Italy was heading into fall, and clothes that were a couple of sizes too big but all that they had. I think back to the smiles and frowns, the heartache and unsaid words of worry and despair.

I sit here this weekend and grieve for my country. A country of privilege that has decided to turn their hearts towards hate and doubt, to throw up arms and walls rather than choose to work through the fear-mongering to the root of the problem. A country that no longer sees the refugee as a person but something to hate and despise. That is not me, nor is it the God I love. When I love my neighbor as myself, I don’t get to define that neighbor nor how to love them. It does mean I welcome them, even when it hurts, even when I don’t want to do it and it means that I love instead of judge.

I am thankful that I live in a country which provides such profound freedoms, but I now begin to see that the things we have sat silent on, thinking that they’ll right themselves, have instead turned to ugliness and hate, to rhetoric and headlines. When you give refuge to the least of these, you are giving it to God Himself…regardless of belief or religion. We are called to love as He loves, to love those who don’t look like us, to love those that seek harm. Love doesn’t give boundaries or policies, it simply does.

Love means sitting in the hard and putting a face, a name, humanity to crisis. Love means standing when those around you call you to sit. It means stepping up for those who cannot, those who have been told to keep quiet. Love means filling the gap between it all to show His love for them, for us, for all.

For me, to hear the refugee and shrink back means that I am disobedient to the call to love that Christ Himself has given Himself for. The call to redeem the downtrodden, the outcast and the forgotten isn’t done through me but through Him, but when He calls me to love He calls me to be His love to them, for them. It means not being silent, not allowing the ugly to win and fear to see victory. To go beyond quoting the Scripture but living it out for those who do not know it, who need to see it as living Truth and for obedience to the One who first showed us how to love.

When You Need Tuesdays

Some days are just bad. Some days you just get overwhelmed, emotional and feeling as if it just won’t stop…I joyfully call those days Mondays. I don’t know what you all call them, but that’s my label for them.

Those Mondays where you find no matter how much you strive, how much you churn out or do in your own self, it just doesn’t get you far. It doesn’t amount to much and you look to find that you now have even more. A certain level of panic, anxiety and frustration sets in for me when that happens. It’s almost like I am being pulled by an undertow in the ocean and I am struggling to no avail.

You see though, that’s exactly it. I am the one struggling. I am the one fighting. I find it is so me-centered that I haven’t let much, if any, of God in. I haven’t sought Him out to be my Strength, my Comfort, my Help, my Healer. I want to make sure I get it done and then I get the glory. But I don’t get it done, and find my head a mess, my heart in turmoil and my frustrations pouring out of my mouth.

My recent prayer has been for God to make me aware of those times and my need for Him, not more of myself. To make my utter dependence on Him known to me, and that it is only in Him am I able to do anything. I had one of those Mondays but found myself doing the same old thing of relying upon self rather than trusting in Him. Throughout the day I kept spinning in my own tracks, never really making headway and seeing the mounting issues. As I reflected afterward I kept coming back to these verses below, and how I am thankful for a new morning. Something I have reflected on recently here.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22, 23

But I hadn’t focused on the consumed part. Because of His love, we aren’t consumed. I am here, present and moving forward. But it’s because of His love, for me, for you that the struggles of yesterday did not consume me, they don’t take over today. And while I am still working on the reliance of Him in the moment of Mondays (as there will be more) I know that through His love I am not consumed. I am not overtaken. Even in my failings and faults, when I strive in my own strength, He doesn’t fail.

So I greet a Tuesday with hope, love, and new mercies.

If Instagram has taught us nothing, it’s that everyone is a purveyor of sunrises (or maybe its sunsets). Here in Nashville especially we tend to have some crazy sunsets I know…simply because my Insta-feed and Twitter scrolling will tell me what I have seen with my own eyes.

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I stood this morning, sun still working it’s way to horizon, at my living room window as the sky lightened. It’s a magical time in the hours before dawn and as the sun works its way to greet us with a new day. The mornings I am able to see the sun rise (when it’s not been cloudy for what seems like forever, as it did the last few weeks here) I feel like I have been given a glimpse of creation.

Beauty and creation of a new day. A new day not yet filled with busy, tears, frustrations. A new day not yet realized of the joy, happiness and contentment it contains. It is just new. As if the whole earth is holding its breath.

As I sit this very morning and type this, the sky is lightening to my left out the front while to my right and behind my shoulder the moon still hangs, in half of it’s normal size. Even it anticipates the beauty of this new day, clinging to the last depths of night hoping to witness creation unfold once more anew today.

Sunrises bring anticipation, affirmation that God is with us at least for me. I cannot see a sunrise and not breathe a little deeper, filling with the engulfing goodness of His beauty at work. It is knowing that I have navigated whatever the night has brought with God greeting me newness in today. He was with me in that night but reminds me that beauty awaits with but the turning of the day.

Maybe today we all need to breathe in the newness of the day, the beauty of light dancing upon the horizon. Brilliant warmth flooding our view as a reminder that no matter where we find ourselves He brings beauty, mercies anew for today. He gifts us that with each new morning for us to see hope in the midst of uncertainty, joy in the midst of sorrow and beauty from a God who loves us so.