Posts

Jonah-esque

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I've been listening to Taylor Leonhart's lovely new album, Hold Still , on repeat.  (You should definitely avail yourself of the pleasure!) Belly of a Whale particularly captured my heart.   ...but You cannot resist Your tendency to save me from myself... ...but You cannot resist Your habit of forgetting how I fail... These lines struck me as a gentler, less cynically ironic rendition of some of my favorite words that the prophet Jonah spoke: "I knew  that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster."   They also reminded me of the words that we pray each week in my church: "You are the same Lord whose character is always to have mercy." What a remarkable truth.  There are times when, like Jonah, I find myself wishing that God wasn't quite so  merciful, because it is not my nature to always have mercy.  It's my character to run out of patience and graciousness, to wa

Coming "Soon"

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I know, I know, we're not really anywhere near the actual season of Advent yet. (Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash ) But Kicky is 39 weeks old today, which means that she is abundantly welcome to show her face any time.  And I've been thinking about Advent.  Thinking about how eager I am to meet someone who I haven't seen yet.  Thinking about the wildness of trying to count down to something that I don't know the exact time for -- just "soon."  Thinking about how hard I'm working to keep short accounts, because I don't want things in a mess when she does show up. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy... (1 Peter 1:8) He who testifies about these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20) Pay careful attention, then, to how you live -- not as unwise people but as wise -- making the most of the time, b

Abiding

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John 15 begins with the famous "remain in Me" passage, where Jesus compares His relationship with His disciples to that of a vine and branches.   What it means to "remain" or "abide" is a topic that I've heard a lot of teaching about -- how branches exist and can bear fruit because they're connected to the vine, etc.  To be honest, most of it has seemed kind of obvious or not particularly memorable.   But this summer it's come home to me in a new way, courtesy of our daughter (currently called Kicky, due around the end of September). She abides.  Her life depends utterly on my life.  She eats and sleeps, gets hiccups and dreams, all in the context of being connected to me.  She may kick and flail at times, but she's not going anywhere that I'm not going. I don't think she stresses about if she's spending enough time with me, or if she's growing at the expected rate, or if she's making me proud.  She doesn't have to.

Jesus & Abusive Leaders

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I had trouble sleeping last night -- maybe it was something I ate. (More likely it had something to do with the long nap I took after we got home from church.) It's a rare thing that I'm in a good mood or headspace when awake for a lot of the night, and last night was no exception -- my mind and heart were both whirling around the topic of abusive church leaders, and the devastation and shame that they bring.  (Photo by  Dave Herring  on  Unsplash ) There's no shortage of examples in the news, although Ravi Zacharias is probably the most recent big one.  Hitting closer to home is the ongoing conflict in the church that I was in before I moved to China.  Although I've caught only the edges of it, it's been sickening and heartbreaking and infuriating.   So this morning, the reading for Pray As You Go was from Luke 4 -- the passage where Jesus stands up in the synagogue in His hometown, reads the passage from Isaiah, and proclaims that its fulfillment has come.  And

Mark 2

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  (Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash ) What were you going to do, run away? Your friends were bound and determined to carry you to the itinerant preacher; Never mind the time they had to take off work or the crowded traffic of Capernaum or that there really wasn’t space for them. No, they were going to get you to Him if they had to carry you the whole way drag you up onto a roof and dismantle someone else’s house. And then, there you were: all eyes on you, the interruption. But He didn’t leave you hanging, an impersonal prop in an object lesson,   a convenient sermon illustration. He didn’t ask if you believed, if you wanted to be healed, to tell the truth, the whole truth , and nothing but the truth,   so help you God. He looked at your friends with that twinkling light of an acknowledging smile rising in His dark eyes and nodded, like He had heard their desperate prayers, and labored breathing, and swallowed curses as they wrestle

A Word for 2021 (and a few more words, in reflection and expectation)

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At the start of this new calendar year, I wonder what to hold onto, what to focus on.  My email inbox is full of tools and tips.  My planner’s pages are mostly empty.   I did not live the last year perfectly or always gracefully— there were plenty of times that my light flickered and wavered with turbulent emotions, stress, conflict, fear, selfishness, frustration.  I spent a lot of time in questioning complaint.  Yet the light of God’s goodness was constant, if sometimes hidden from my eyes by storm clouds.   Photo by  SwapnIl Dwivedi  on  Unsplash There are many ways (so many ways) that I hope to grow this year, so many facets of roles and responsibilities that are parts of my life that I hope to develop in.  I want to be more consistent in my time with God, to rush less, to greet people with wonder and attention, to be physically healthy, to make space for mental health and to be wise about taking time to breathe (especially when those around me are struggling). But my attention and

The Weary World (Advent 2020)

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"Hi, Hannah?" my doctor said when he called me this morning, sounding weary and apologetic.  "Your test came back positive." Aside from feeling like I have a sinus infection -- which is not surprising, as the weather in western Pennsylvania has been jumping up and down all through the fall -- I've felt fine.  Well, aside from that and the growing craziness as we go on week three of quarantining at home. We're thankful, still, that we knew  almost immediately after coming home from Thanksgiving that we had been exposed to covid.  (Something about our housemate not being able to smell or taste anything was a significant tipoff.)  We're thankful to get to make sure that we don't spread it, especially since many in our congregation are older, and one of our ministry team members has plenty of respiratory complications without any additional virus.  We're thankful that my jobs aren't impacted by me needing to stay at home, and that Jason has a job