More and more

We sang a true song at church yesterday. Most philosophers won’t accept this phrasing that “it just felt true” as legitimate reason to believe something. The particular one I’m reading right now definitely wouldn’t.

All we want and all we need
is found in Jesus.
All we ask is more of You.

I go to a church where we sing repetitive worship songs. We sing the verses and choruses over and over again. And if you don’t really want to worship, that can get old pretty quickly. Or if you’re bitter about repeats. I’ve had days like that. I think I need repeats though. Because the first time through I don’t always realize that the truth in the song is truth for my life.

Nothing else can satisfy our hearts’ desire.
All we want is more of You.

That didn’t feel like all I wanted yesterday. I wanted more time to do my homework because I’d chosen to make a music video with my housemates in costume instead of work on my paper the day before. I wanted more time in general.

All we want and all we need
is found in Jesus.
All we ask is more of You.

I want a secure future. I want to not feel anxious about my future (and about everything else). But a life of worship isn’t about what I want. Really, all I want isn’t found in Jesus.

Nothing else can satisfy our hearts’ desire.
All we want is more of You.

Or is it? I haven’t figured out human desires on a philosophical level yet. Do we actually want things that are bad for us or bad in general at the core of our being? My experience says, sometimes. And that really means the answer is yes. The Bible says, sometimes, always, or more often than we breathe, depending on how you read it.

For the Lord is good
And His love endures.
Yes, the Lord is good forever.

I haven’t figured out how to consistently line my wants up with Good. Or maybe the answer is the same as it is for everything else.

And I’ll shout it out
from the mountaintops.
Yes, the Lord is good forever.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God…” That’s been a recurring theme in learning to set my life straight in the past couple years. If the sometimes that I find that it’s true that I want God more than anything else are to be explained, that passage might say why.

We want you more and more.

It matters, what we look to. In a culture of fillers–filler words, time fillers, fillers in food, end tables just to fill the space–we can fill easily with the extras. Those things that are supposed to be side dishes become our main entrée. We want the peripheral when the Kingdom of God could be manifested in us.

We want you more and more.

I know I’m like this. I want the easily digestible. I don’t want Jesus to come challenge my way of life or my thinking or the way I treat people.

We want you more and more.

But I do. The more I sing that refrain or live it, the more I want God. So maybe it is the number of times I sing it, sing it and mean it. Or know what I’m singing. Maybe I will continue to want God more and more the more I live revolving around this.

More and more.

Dressing for the season

Question: How many times have I gone to title a post, “Rainy Day”?

Answer: Every time I sit down to write a post when it’s raining.

Minneapolis was gray and dull today, which I of course, could not see unless I rolled to the farthest edge of my desk and peered into the office behind me to see what was out the window there. I spent the day copying and pasting. Pretty much all day. I got a good six hours of copying and pasting done.

I took deep breaths on my way into the office, not knowing that copying and pasting was what was ahead of me (but really, I’m just glad to have a good job with nice people where I’m exposed to things that teach me about the industry in which I’d like to work), blissfully enjoying the cooler, drier air.

It was so lovely. Made me want soup. Any weather that makes me want soup is good weather.

I passed a guy who looked ready for November, like maybe he loves dressing for the cold and couldn’t wait for it to arrive: sweats, sweatshirt, down vest zipped all the way up. I probably stared for a little too long. Either you’re not a Minnesotan or you just really wanted to sweat. The temperature was right around 60 at this time, people. 60 degrees. Fahrenheit.

Maybe he heard the weather was changing and was trying to be prepared as he went out for his morning run. Gosh, that makes me sweat just thinking about running in that getup.

He was prepared. Maybe too prepared. Maybe prepared too early. And now I have a visual for whenever I find myself trying to step too far into the future.

Should I start making a list of all the places I want to check for open positions right before I graduate? Should I set a calendar reminder? Should I send emails to all those people now so they’ll know I’ll be applying for jobs? Should I research all the job descriptions I could possibly apply for? Should I get another backup job?

That’s just on the job front. Today I had the fleeting thought that I might enjoy being a school librarian. Here’s what followed:

I wonder what a library science degree entails. Should I Google it now? Make my decision at this moment? Oh wait, no, I’m working. Should I do an internet search for, “so, you think you want to be a librarian”? Should I buy glasses? Practice my shushing and emphatic reading-out-loud of books? Should I start memorizing leveling standards?

Calm it down, girl. Take off the down vest. Not yet.

There’s a time and place for preparedness. But there’s a point at which it becomes both faithless and unhelpful. Unhelpful because who knows what will come before you reach the hurdle you are trying to jump over from 1,000 yards away? And faithless because this kind of frenzied preparing seems to think that God isn’t concerned.

(Feuerbach might say here that I’m choosing laziness, that I’m renouncing moral effort)

I suppose instead of renouncing moral effort, I should take up my cross daily and wait on God. That sounds lazy, but remember the guy in the fall getup. And remember that waiting is harder than action, much of the time. It requires trust and patience (which I lack).

Right now I don’t need six job offers or even six companies to which I might apply. *Takes off down vest* I don’t need to know what my next degree will be or if there will be one or if I need to be a school librarian. *exchanges sweatshirt for t-shirt* I don’t need to live in the future as a fail-safe because God is already there. *struggles to remove sweats over gym shoes… falls over… rights self and pulls on gym shorts*

No one else can play your part, a prayer on suicide prevention day.

We’ve wondered why we hurt, Lord. Some of us more than others.  And there have been days where we thought it might be better to leave it all behind. God, we’ve been in darkness.

Bring us your light. Meet us where we are. Remind us that you knew us before we were even thought of, pre-utero, before our parents were born or met each other, you knew us and had a purpose for our lives. Remind us of that, because sometimes our vision gets short-sighted.

Let it be now that you carry us. Send us your people to show us how valuable and needed we are. Send us someone to remind us that you are present in pain and that your power is made perfect in weakness. Touch our hearts with hope, God.

If there’s anything we can’t manufacture ourselves besides salvation, God, it’s hope.

Press into the pain, Lord. Bring light to darkness. Bring hope to the hopeless.

You’ve done it before, and we ask you to do it again. Remind us that no one else can play our part.

My foolish God.

As often as I try to be open about my struggle (and I use that word because it is a struggle, every single day) with depression and anxiety, I have to say that it’s so hard to come out with it. There’s never really a point where you’re ready to tell the world that your emotional life is messy, that you don’t have control over it sometimes, and that you have woken up every morning for weeks in a row and just cried because there was another day to live through.

That’s not something that ever gets easy to say. And if it does get easy to say, that’s because you’re forgetting how hard it was.

Because I know that I’m far from alone in this, though, I want to speak up. I want people who don’t have depression to have an idea of what it’s like and to know that if you’ve never experienced it, you will not understand, ever. And I want people who do have depression and have experienced it to know that there is no good reason to feel ashamed (I say “no good reason” because obviously, there are plenty of reasons that we feel ashamed. They are real, but depression is not shameful). You are not alone.

In the road to healing, I’ve read a lot of articles written by people with depression, and I’ve noticed this divide between Christians and non-Christians who write. I feel torn sometimes, because sometimes I just want to write like Hyperbole and a Half. She’s so honest, and I can relate to all of the things she says. She’s so blunt, too. Sometimes, I want to say that I feel like ______ (insert word there that Christians don’t use), too because depression feels like an emotional curse word.

Then I read things like “Anxiety and depression can also, ironically, be a conduit of hope—an opportunity for the foolishness of God to be displayed in our lives.” from The Gospel Coalition and see that God has a place in all of this. He’s not just a part of my pain; he’s CENTRAL to it. He’s the one who never departs and makes meaning out of it.

I love that phrase, the “foolishness of God.” Because it really is pretty foolish to shower grace and mercy and love and blessings on some person who is going to fail you and disappoint you at least half the time and only listen to you when they feel like it and not obey because they think they know better (stupid people).

How foolish my God is, to love me.

How foolish He has been during the past year. How foolish He is to see my depression and try to tell me that something meaningful will come out of so much pain and so much deadness. God is silly.

It’s foolish to think that someone who can’t bear the thought of getting out of bed in the morning or cries while eating breakfast for no reason or has to deliberately remember how emotional interaction with other human beings works because of the horrible emptiness in her heart or who can’t possibly have anything genuine left at the end of the day to offer her roommate could be someone God wants to reach out to. That’s messy. That’s ugly. That’s icky. That’s not “holy.”

But that’s where we find Jesus. He works in messy. He comes into pain. He says, “Not only do I still love you and want you to be a part of my Kingdom, I want to use you. Like this. And when you start feeling a bit better, it’s going to be even more meaningful. You’re going to have a story, and I’m going to help you tell it.”

How foolish.

How wonderful.

My foolish, wonderful, gracious God wants to use my story of not being able to do my homework because I needed to just cry for a few hours and do something with it. He wants to not just use my story but me, the one who did the crying and hurting and……


I guess we did that, too. We are doing that.

My foolish God.

My foolish, amazing God.

He is the reason that it’s worth it to tell my story and be open about my struggle. He gives meaning to the mess and passion where there was only pain.

Coffee and oaks.

I’m still on my first cup of coffee, so don’t expect brilliance this morning.

I try to be a faithful Bible reader in the morning. For years, my dad’s Bible has sat on the edge of the china cabinet next to our kitchen table, only removed when he reads it at breakfast or takes it with him to church. My mom has a drawer for her Bible study supplies, all in the living room where she drinks her coffee in the morning and spends time with God.

If I don’t have to get up too early, I read my Bible during breakfast like my dad…. I’m still working on that faithfulness piece. I rest in the knowledge that Jesus isn’t finished with me yet.

Anyways, this morning, after a spotty record of faithful quiet time this week, I picked up my Bible and sat with French toast and coffee at our counter. I just finished reading Ephesians, and I was at a loss for where to go next. I like short books because I can finish them quickly and read them again in a week if I need to. Longer books intimidate me, so that’s why I was a little hesitant to get going on Isaiah.

Gosh, it’s long. And it’s dense. And if there was ever a book where I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, it’s this one…. well, I sort of do, but there are a lot of things I don’t understand in it. It’s no Leviticus or Numbers or Revelation, but Isaiah knows Israel’s history and situation at the time he’s writing a lot better than I do.

Still, I thought it might be a good book to read. I can take it slowly.

Last week, my pastor reminded us that prayer is integral to everything in our lives. He encouraged us to pray before we read scripture, to ask God to speak and to give us clarity.

So, as the caffeine went to work on my brain and lungs and heart and everything else, I asked God to speak and to give clarity… of course, this was in between getting distracted by my French toast and staring out the window at the blue truck rambling down the street.

I need coffee to focus.

I started at the beginning, and when I got to the end of chapter 1, something caught my eye.

You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted. You will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen. You will be like an oak with fading leaves, like a garden without water. (vs. 29)

It caught my eye because I love the verse at the end of Isaiah, in chapter 61:

The will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. (vs. 3)

Big difference.

It was a small revelation, but I had to think about what changed the message from the beginning of Isaiah to the end. What made it so that Israel, the people to which both of these verses are directed, could become oaks of righteousness instead of oaks with fading leaves?

My study Bible indicates that oaks were the places were the Israelites conducted pagan rites and were sexually immoral. This was the very place where they had rebelled against God, so he says, “You’ll be just like them. Since you’ve chosen them over me, you can be like them. You’ll be an oak that is dying. Because that’s what the world offers: no water, dying oak.”

But God is responsive. He sends Isaiah to prophesy to Israel, to tell them what they’re doing, that it’s destroying their relationship with Him, that it has consequences. As Israel turns to Him, God’s words change. He tells them that they will no longer be conquered by their enemies, that they will be called His people again, that they will become a healthy version of an oak.

He restores that image. Where oaks were once a symbol of ungodliness, they are now a “planting of the Lord for a display of His splendor.”

That’s just so like God, isn’t it? To be disappointed in us because of what we’ve turned to but keep chasing us down until we’re ready, to say “You were once this, and you will be a transformed version of that. You will be my planting for my glory. You will have deep roots in me.”

I need these reminders that God restores, that no cause is lost.

Beautiful feet.

My feet were in less than optimal shape when I left Europe, as you probably remember. I most likely have a stress fracture in my left foot, and my heels are so calloused from former blisters and chafing that they look much older than 20.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns! Isaiah 52:7

Right. beautiful. I bet they are less than beautiful, especially if they have to climb mountains to bring the good news.

My feet have been taking a much needed break this week, the only exception to that when I lost my mom in Target and traipsed the entire store trying to find her. I’m so not used to these huge stores.

I wonder why Isaiah used beautiful. Or at least, I wondered until I looked at the entire chapter. The passage speaks of God loosening Jerusalem’s bonds, of putting on strength and being redeemed. Of course the feet of the person who proclaims that God reigns and that peace and salvation are coming would be beautiful.

So the red, sore, blistered feet that have been crammed into hiking boots in order to scale a mountain are beautiful because they bring with them the message of salvation.

I went to Holy Yoga with my mom yesterday. In the classes, when you’re in final relaxation pose (do not for a minute assume that we lay on the ground for the entire class though. Oh heck no. My soreness today is proof of that) the teacher comes around and usually rubs your temples with an essential oil and makes the sign of the cross on your forehead.

This time, however, the teacher came around and rubbed our feet with oil.

I can’t tell you how powerful that was to me. It was like an anointing, and in that moment, I felt God blessing my poor, hurting, calloused feet. Or rather, the message that I could bring on the mountains if I used my feet.

The teacher came up to me after the class with a towel, saying, “Sorry, I used way too much oil on your feet!” I laughed and tried to wipe a bit of it off so I wouldn’t slide right out of my flip-flops. But I still could feel the oil on my feet all day. And it was a reminder of the blessing that blistered, calloused feet can bring.

Our feet can be the instrument to bring good news, to proclaim salvation and redemption. I want my feet to be blistered and stress fractured if that means that I can use them to proclaim that God is redeeming and bringing new life.

How beautiful that would be, to proclaim that our God reigns, no matter the toll on my feet. Because God will take care of my feet.


I can’t lie. Sometime the Bible scares me.

Then the earth quaked and trembled.

The foundations of the mountains shook;

They quaked because of his anger.

Smoke poured from his nostrils;

fierce flames leaped from his mouth.

Glowing coals blazed forth from him.

(Psalm 18: 7-8, NLT)

I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything more potentially terrifying.

Yet today, these words were an immense comfort to me. I’m comforted because that’s my God. That’s the God who goes to battle for me.

Sometimes I see my opponents as small. Darkness in my mind? Well it’s small. Especially compared to God. Sure, it’s bigger than me, but barely. I mean, on a really good day I could give it a black eye. Temptations? Well, I mean I do okay with those. I try not to succumb, and sometimes I do, but I’ve got a decent track record, but they can’t be that big.

Let me just lay something out here that I think we forget sometimes: Evil is not small. Darkness is not gray fog. Pride, Envy, Lust, and those other sins we’ve got on speed dial could swallow you and three hundred of your closest friends in one gulp. We are small fish in a big sea of things that want to tear us away from God and bring us down. They want to rip apart our souls and make us slaves to the darkness.

When you put it that way, aren’t you glad that we’ve got a God who breathes fire? Because in Psalm 18, the fire is for the Psalmist, David. Not to devour the him, because David loves God and knows to whom he belongs. No, the fire is for all the things trying to eat at him.

His love is deep. His love is wide, and it covers us. His love is fierce. His love is strong. It is FURIOUS. His love is sweet. His love is wild, and it’s waking hearts to life.

My God breathes fire. “I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from all my enemies.” My God “opened the heavens and came down… mounted on a mighty angelic being, he flew…. He shot his arrows and scattered his enemies…. At the blast of [his] breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen.”

I think I’m sticking with Him. Yep. Definitely.

In the wind

We saw the rain on one side of the bus as we journeyed to Mont Saint Michel last week. The wind blew the rain drops onto half of the windows so that it appeared that the bus split the storm. Split the storm it did, because when we arrived at the shuttle to take us to the mount, the clouds parted and the sun shone.

The sun shone and the winds blew, so strongly that we could have nearly fallen into it and let it hold us upright with its force. It blew salty sea micro droplets onto our skin, into our hair. It made the walk harder but not less pleasant. The sun still shone and heated our skin while we basked in the salty air and the old abbey.

Tonight, the wind blows steadily in the aftermath of a rainstorm outside my room. I can feel it stirring the trees and the grass and whisking everything up and settling it down somewhere else.

I need the wind to blow. I love to stand in the dark with my eyes closed, to feel the wind on my skin and hear it rushing around me. Not to see it because, who can? Unless it’s salty, it won’t be good to taste, and even then…  The smell is fresh, full of newness, air from somewhere else.

God wasn’t in the strong wind for Moses. He was in the still, small voice, because God needed Moses to know that battles aren’t won by might or by power but by His Spirit, which can win battles with a whisper.

But God is in the wind, for me, because God wants me to feel how He brushes past me and around me, always circling back to blow through my life again. He picks things up and deposits them elsewhere, sometimes pulling them out of my reach, sometimes placing new things beside me.

He wants me to feel Him beside me, around me, filling my lungs and brushing past my closed eyelids. I close my eyes because I don’t have to watch Him work to know that it’s good.

Tallies and today.

“Teach me to number my days…” so I’ve got 39 tallies on the back of a Spar receipt. They’re numbered. And in all likelihood, there are 102 more tallies to add to that. But just adding a number to the day doesn’t add meaning, does it?

Is it what we do with the day, with the hours? Is it how we feel? Is it what we learn? Is it what we eat? (please, oh please, let it be what we eat)

Is it who we love? How we love? How clean our house is? How short our to-do list?

Is it who we help? Where we go? Where we don’t go? What we say? What we think? What we don’t say or think?

Is it ‘D’, “all of the above (and then some)”?

Does today’s meaningfulness or lack thereof depend on yesterday or tomorrow? Or is it just about today? When did today begin? When I first opened my eyes and decided the day wasn’t ripe enough yet? What it the second time? Was it at the first sip of coffee or the first spoonful of yogurt? Was it the first smile I exchanged with a stranger on the street or my first footstep into the grocery store?

What makes today count?

I want today to count. To count as a day where I did something or said something or thought of something. A day where I didn’t just survive but thrived. What makes a day cross the threshold from a day where we existed to a day where we lived?

More than just a tally, but a tally with memories and accomplishments. Accomplishments? Maybe not a certificate but a new muscle or a train of thought, new pages read or written. Old pages revisited, old muscles re-strengthened. Memories? Maybe not in picture form but in character shaping form or paradigm shifting form.

Oh, God, let Today change me. Let me live today fully, whatever that means. Let me thrive and accomplish, not by the world’s standards of checklists and paychecks but by making some progress on your scale, to go further into what you’re doing in and with me.

Let it be more than my 40th tally.

Violence on a full tank.

I drove into the first glow of morning today, on my way back from taking my parents and brother-in-law’s parents to the airport. In my sleepy, early-morning stupor, I thought at first that the mix of light and gloomy gray clouds was the reflection of headlights, but I soon realized that something much brighter was shining from the other side. I would be dead to the world for the sun’s official arrival, trying to make up for lost sleep before church, but as I rolled toward the rising sun, I thought about war.

In Judges 7, the passage I read as I gulped down a yogurt at 4am, Gideon takes a whole bunch of men to fight Midian. God tells him that he would rather deliver Israel with a small fraction of the men Gideon thought he needed, so that way it’s obvious that it was God’s power that delivered them.

And God’s power did deliver them. He caused the Midianites to turn on each other as the small band of Israelites attacked, which made the job significantly easier.

God did some attacking. He sponsored the Israelites violent campaign, actually instigated it.

So, when should I get violent?

I kept driving down the highway, picturing one of my favorite professors as I thought. He wasn’t very open about his opinions in the class I took with him last spring, but he did own up to one specific belief.

“I’m a pacifist,” he admitted with one of his signature hand gestures, as if to say well, there’s that. Do with it what you like.

And, since I admire the man greatly, my first thought was whether I should be a pacifist, too. If nonviolence was good enough for him, it was good enough for me.

I think about how often I respond to people violently, harsh words or looks that could kill. I think about the times I’ve wanted to rear-end someone for being inconsiderate on the road (a nonsensical response). Violence doesn’t seem to be a good first response. Speaking of first responders, what if that was the paramedics’ first step? If you can survive this, we’ll give you CPR and take you to the hospital…

But God did it.

I know, that shouldn’t be my criteria for whether or not my actions are just. I should not get out my garden hose and try to flood the earth. I’m just following God, Officer. Really! God has a few advantages on me, the knowledge and the goodness and the power, which give him supreme ability to take care of things.

God’s track record in the Old Testament is filled with patience. He waited hundreds of years before passing harsh judgment on evil people groups (evil not only because they didn’t follow him but because they had vile practices like temple prostitution and infant sacrifice, among others). He was patience with them, gentle even.

It seems that was God’s first response, which matches up with what we see in Galatians.

“For the fruit of the Spirit is violence, judgment…”

Nope. But gentleness, kindness, and self-control are on there, along with patience and peace.

It seems like violence is our last resort. Or at least, it’s God’s. Whether we’re allowed to go that far… I don’t know. I know I’ve been in situation where it seems the only way that the person I’m trying to speak truth to will hear and understand is if I yell and shake them and threaten and dangle them by the ankles off the side of a tall building.

From what I’ve seen of God’s responses to people in the Bible and from his responses to me, gentleness is the status quo. I don’t know what exactly that means for nations and people groups and businessmen, but for me, it means that I need an extra dose of the Holy Spirit.

And probably more sleep than I got last night. Fill the tank, people. Fill the tank.