Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pat Benatar knows. Musicians, artists, poets everywhere echo. The battle of the heart isn't easily won. It's not new. On the flip side of joys are let-downs, dashed hopes, and disappointments. I've tasted of them. But, in trudging through some tough breaks, I'm learning I have got to choose to make room for hope. God longs to bring new life to my dry bones. He longs to regain His rightful place in my deepest heart. It'd be easy—and much more natural—to be defined by pain.

But, God help me, I want to laugh at the days to come.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Lingering memory of Dahlonega's Bear on the Square this past weekend, coupled with a recent screening of Cold Mountain (Nicole, I'm seriously coveting your coif), has me loving me some banjo and fiddle-heavy music right now. Oh, play me some mountain music.

Hurray for the Riff Raff (out of NOLA) was out at the Old 280 Boogie in Waverly, AL this weekend.
John Grimm and Beverly Smith brought some Old Time tunes to North Georgia
Colossal Gospel's out of Leeds, AL
Emmy Rossum's "Barbara Allen" never goes out of style
Neither does Jack White's "Wayfaring Stranger"

What songs are you singing, folks?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trial by Fire

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear.
Psalm 112:7-8

Just last night, I was talking with some folks about the importance of building a firm foundation of trust in the Lord. We talked about (me, with a new assurance) the fact that storms, wind, and rain are promised to come. It's not an if, it's a when.

I always thought I'd be a woman sure enough of His goodness to be able to endure bad weather, but if I'm honest, I feel like I was hanging on by a thread over the last few months. I did not live like one who knew she was being grasped tightly by a loving God. I did not operate out of the above scriptural truth. I was swimming in my own fear.

So, I'm strapping on the tool belt and bringing out the hammer. I'm praying to be able to drive nails into what's immovable and believe with my life (and not just my words) that, come what may, in Him, I cannot be shaken. In a season of peace, I want to be fortified with this truth.

Sure, I truly believe I'll mourn again. I'll endure rough patches, and watch others I love fight through difficult seasons. None of us are immune. Despair waits around the corner. And, when we come upon it, we can sit in the dark for a while, grieve loss, and feel sad. But, in the end, we stand in the hope in the Gospel, in the end, we can walk into the light.

** This verse always reminds me of Patty.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Celebrating Beauty

You don't have to be impressed. My most recent revelation isn't anything you haven't heard before. But, it's true. It's something that I've heard and 'known' for as long as I've walked this earth. Only recently when I said it out loud and understood it with my life experience, did I realize it's profundity.

Struggle, hardship, and difficulty are synonymous with life itself.
Peace and joy on earth are coupled with heartbreak and sorrow.
Ashes and beauty take turns.

The most recent season of my life has been one of the tougher I've endured. Hell, the twenties themselves haven't been altogether peachy. Every year has brought with it loss, self-doubt, financial uncertainty. The Lord has broken me time and time again, revealed my selfishness, my false self-sufficiency, my ugly ugly sin.

And in the midst of all of that, there has been great joy. And astounding beauty. And plenty of laughter.

You see, they go together. They weave in and out of each other like fabric fibers. Once I get through one hard thing, it doesn't mean I'm excused from life's hard knocks forever. Financial/relational/aspirational peace may eventually come, but only in Christ does it really last.

If I'm going to enjoy this life, I'm going to have to choose to celebrate who my God is through it all. When life is colorful and easy, I'll have to remember to praise Him, from whom it all flows. When I grin and bear through the worst, I'll put my pennies in the bank that, it too, is grace.

Shauna Niequist says, "When you realize that the story of your life could be told a thousand different ways, that you could tell it over and over as a tragedy, but you choose to call it epic, that's when you start to realize what celebration is."

I've seen the underside of beauty this week, in the lives of my church, in the hearts of my friends. I've realized that if it's not me, it's her, or her. Unrest isn't hard to spot when you look for it in the lives of the people you love.

But hope—a believer's underground root system—is there to be noticed. Life is in the heart-pricking depth of someone's words, it's in the flowers in your front yard, it's in the toothless grin of your six year-old next door neighbor. Lord, open our eyes, that we might see the epic story in the daily and the Divine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Heart's Reminder

Put things in front of your eyes to remind your heart.

These words—repeated over and over in Martha Zimmerman's Celebrating the Christian Year—have become words I often murmur to myself. Unless I'm careful, when it comes to observing holidays and traditions throughout the Christian calendar, I succumb to the catchy tunes and color palettes of big box stores. It's easy to do. My default mode is passivity. I let things happen to me, rather than create the reality I want to live within.

In my finer moments, I have the courage, strength, and energy to grab a hold of life as I want it to be. Yesterday, I made a batch of these soft pretzels, a historic symbol for the Lenten season. Without milk, eggs, or sugar, they were designed for a time of fasting—their little crossed "arms" assuming the posture of prayer. In a small way, putting them in front of my face (and more precisely, my mouth), pushed me to remember Christ, through whom all things were made. Christ, who brought and end to all my sin and shame.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Learning Late from Lent

Do we really believe that we are held by a God whose love does not let go? Though we may thrash and tug and try to walk away, do we really believe that God's grip on us is tighter?

This lent season sure is good about reminding me of depravity. Too good. I admit that, far too often, I get stuck in the pit of my utter helplessness. I forget the long arm of Christ that has reached down from heaven to pull me out. During this last week of reflection, I want to really think on the goodness of that Friday. When he died, he gathered up our shame and guilt and took it with him to death. That leaves us with an undeserved lightness. Let's live in it. And give thanks for the way He grabs us between the fingers, even when our arms are crossed.