This Isn’t Safe: TCB post

I was recently asked to join the Top Christian Book’s Writing Team, and I’m privileged and excited to share my first post with them with you. Check it out!

“Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the lion, the great lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan… “Is he – quite safe?”

“Safe?”said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

I think often we echo Susan, asking if our God is harmless. Because we would like a Coke-Machine God. We can insert our prayers and good deeds, and ding! He spits out a comfy 9-to-5 job, a comfy white-picket house, and even a comfy Mercedes-Benz if we’re really spiritual. We want a talisman Jesus. We can sit Him up on our car dashboard for when we want a favor or a free parking spot, and aha! He lays out a road of good fortune. We want a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Lord. We can walk along our own merry way, but if we happen upon some hard times, someone’s sick, or a job is lost; we can pay attention to Him and whoosh! He shoos away all our troubles, just like the ending of all those Hallmark movies.

We’d like just a nice, beneficial God. He’s comfortable, easy, and safe.

But a God who decimates our comfort zones, who desecrates our personal idols, who demands our entire being? No. Thank. You.

Read the rest here.

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How to Say “I Love You”

How To Say I Love You

As featured on the Rebelution.

This summer I staffed at Summit Ministries, which was an exhilarating, exhausting, hilarious, heart-wrenching, broken and beautiful time of growth and service and encouragement and learning.

But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about questions.

“What do you mean by that?” “How did you come to that conclusion?” “What are the ramifications of that belief?” These and dozens of others were expressed and encouraged at Summit throughout the summer. But I want to talk about one particular question. One that none of the speakers, staff, or students — and yet all of them — ever directly verbalized.

How do you say I love you? Continue reading

The Thunder of God’s Presence

The Thunder of God's Presence

I love storms. Hearing the rushing, rolling majesty flooding through; staring wide-eyed at the bright paths from the clouds flashing in and out of existence in a moment’s time; soaking in the jostling booms multiplying against the hills — I revel in it.

I mentioned this strange delight of mine at a friend’s house recently, and their dad suggested that perhaps it wasn’t that unusual. He pointed out that often the Bible uses thunder as an allegory for God’s voice, and we moved on to discussing the instances at Sinai and other places.

But that one thought stuck with me. Biblical allegories should be the best ones there are, for the Great Author of all has made both things being compared. So it can be enlightening to dig deeper into them, discovering the facets of Himself the Creator reveals in His creation.

Because thunder, scientifically speaking, is the noise created when air molecules rush in to fill the space emptied by the searing heat of lightning. The roaring crash is the sound of a vacuum being righted. Emptiness being filled. Continue reading

Looking Back — My First Blogiversary

My First Blogiversary

How do you measure growth? When you’re young it’s easy: inches and shoe sizes and buying longer pants yet again. But what about when you’re older? How do you measure the growth of the mind? How do you trace the trail of the soul? We can walk about with our eyes the same color, our clothes the same style, our days the same schedule; and yet our insides completely changed.

And we forget. Familiarity breeds — ignorance of it ever being any different. When we forget to look back, we think we’ve always lived in this same plane, in this same place. Which means we lose a little. We lose those hard-fought victories, we lose the jumping in exultation, we lose the heart-wrenching convictions, the spirit-overwhelming love.

Growth is good. By looking back we remember where we came from.

This last year has seemed so very short, and yet as if it’s been forever. Here I am, blogging for a year with about 150 followers. That’s amazing and wonderful and — terrifying. Continue reading

A Practical Guide to Culture: Book Review

A Practical Guide to Culture Book Review

If you’ve never gotten onto a river ride that you mount using a giant spinning table — well, I’m not sure if I would recommend it to you. Oh, they are easy enough to find. There’s one on the Rio Loco ride at Sea World, and I’m sure Six Flags or any other theme park with a river ride has one as well. But I waver in suggesting it to you. Because as enjoyable as the rest of the ride may be, that wooden platform is completely and utterly unbalancing. Literally. You step off of a firm concrete slab, onto a twirling place of confusion, where neither your feet nor your stability is right. You mentally know that this is completely safe, but still your adrenaline jumps as you rush to a boat as quickly as you can, for a moment irrationally worried that you might be left behind. And sometimes, that’s what life can be like for young adults.

I should know. I am one. Continue reading

We’ve Shattered Our World

We'veShatteredOurWorld

The world hurts. But not as much as it should. Because honestly, I closed myself off, tried not to feel much over Manchester. Not because it wasn’t an utterly abhorrent thing, not because the loss of innocents isn’t tragedy, not because the inside of me shouldn’t cry at such loss, but because I shut myself off from the pain. There’s too much — I don’t want to feel.  Something inside cries that I’ll be crushed if I do. Because month upon month, week upon week, day upon day, some new horror overwashes us. I don’t want to acknowledge it. I don’t want to accept it, because then I must accept too that our world is shattered.

This place where we thought at least children are safe — it doesn’t exist. This world where people’s lives were respected — it’s not here. Our world, our towns, our homes, man himself — is shattered. Continue reading

When Your Third Birthday Is Our First With You

When Your Third Birthday

It was your birthday this week, brother-mine. It was a blast. We went all out, with a cake shaped like a jet (which you loved, though you loved the cake-pan more, since you could play with that), wrapping-paper covered in vehicles, and more presents than you even wanted to open.

Now, you’re only three, so you didn’t quite understand everything, but you still grinned,  ate cake, and played with your toys. And you’re only three, so you didn’t quite understand the sadness connected with your birthday. Because this was your third birthday — yet only your first one with us. Because you’ve been on earth three years, but only six months with us. With your family.

So my heart aches for you. Continue reading

Don’t Spend Your Time Preparing For Your Future Home

Don't

I read a quote the other day, from a title or an article, saying “You should spend every moment of your waking time as a single readying yourself to provide for your future home.”

And I’m ashamed to say, I didn’t actually read the article. And that’s not a direct quote. That’s simply the best I remember of it, though I do remember being shocked at how specific “every moment of your time” was. I did fully intend to read the article, willing to give the author credit for having an explanation, a caveat. But sadly, somehow its page was closed, and I couldn’t find where it came from or where it went. So I shall assume the best of the author, and believe that they intended to explain themselves, and place preparing for our future home in its proper order of importance.

Yet the fact remains, I know of teachers who might just accept that quote as it now stands.

I know of girls who believe that quote just as it now stands.

I  know of people who live that quote just as it now stands.

I used to be one of them. Continue reading

3 Lessons From an Almost 3-year Old on Prayer

3 Lessons

There’s a toddler dashing about our house now, a skewed-hair mess of sweet and sass. So I’ve learned to do many new things.

How to distract him with something else fun, because he can’t be banging thunder on the piano while siblings are in online class? Check. How to persuade in a few more bites of eggs, because despite what he may think he can’t survive on just watermelon? Check. How to change an overly-full diaper on laughing child who refuses to stay still? Double check.

Though my parents do take care of most all of Xan’s needs, I’ve still learned many practical physical skills from this little brother of mine. But sometimes he teaches me spiritual skills as well.

Because one of the things little ones are best at is needing help. And when they need help, they come to adults for aid. Whether they’re hurt, hungry, mad, or just want that one toy down, they go straight to the only people who can answer their needs. And I think there are several thing we can learn from them about coming to God with our needs.

1: You’re Dependent

Continue reading

The Beauty of Paradox: Guest Post on the Rebelution

The BeautyofParadox

Slime and Beauty. Not two words we would usually associate together.

Because slime is gooey and sticky and messy and bleck. But you know what, I saw beauty in it. I caught a glimpse of the delight of paradoxes the other day.

The rain steadily drummed off the porch, constraining the energy of the kindergarteners inside. But taking such simple ingredients as cornstarch and water, a magical portal was opened from this grey world into a new one — one full of green and yellow and pink and blue slime.

Delighted, powdery-whitened arms and hands mixed and mixed until they made a new discovery. It was hard — and wet! When they forcibly dug it up, crushing it between their chubby fingers, it was solid, hard. But after a few moments of inactivity it would melt away, escaping through the cracks of their fingers. (The scientific name for this actually is oobleck, or a non-newtonian fluid.)

It changed, it didn’t stay the same, it was confusing, a paradox! And they were ecstatic. This was the most fun they had ever had. I tried to explain to them, in their terms of course, the science and reason why. But what good are words and explanations when you have hands, touch, and movement already assaulting all your senses with delight? They didn’t really care why. They were just amazed, just thrilled, just delighted that it does.

And I wonder sometimes if in wanting too hard to just know, to just completely understand, to analyze until there are no more paradoxes — we kill our joy. Perhaps not understanding can be the most wonderful beauty of all.

Finish reading here on the Reb.