The trio for this week’s Which Word Wednesday is something I’ve seen a few times recently, although I’ve failed to keep track of the examples. And examples make this so much more interesting! Oh well—onward. It’s another round of homophones with cite, site, and sight. Let’s look Continue Reading…
A few years ago, I read The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision CEO Richard Stearns. My tears flowed for weeks every time I thought of the widespread suffering and pain in our world. That book tore me apart. I needed it, but it hurt. My prayers became fervent: Show me where You want me to spread the reality of Your Kingdom, Lord. Let me be Your hands, Your feet to anyone who crosses my path—and make me brave enough to take a path beyond my norm.
That was in August 2010. By October, my work took a new path to new people and a new land. I was invited to work as a freelance writer for As Our Own. (If you are new here, read this to learn about As Our Own.) To me, it felt like the Lord was answering my prayers: This is your spot. Love these girls in India. Extend My love to them and the country.
It has been my joy and privilege to spend my words for India, dedicate my time to raise funds for the work, and tell anyone who would be willing to listen about the girls I met there (how I miss them!).
India is my spot—or part of it. And after reading Stearns’s second book this week, titled Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning, I long for every inch of my heart and life to be about the kingdom. As I’ve said before, I can’t do everything, but I can do something. Being on Beach Retreat gives me time to refocus and ask what my something is.
Toward the end of Unfinished, Stearns shares several examples of people who are doing their something. They are running businesses or building schools or adopting children. It reminded me that we are called to the Great Commission as the Church—together, with everyone doing their something. Just in my small circle, I see these Kingdom acts:
counseling the distraught . encouraging the addicted . sponsoring kids overseas . adopting kids and being foster parents . giving medical care to the poor . feeding the hungry . befriending the homeless . investing in teens . knit hats for needy children . visiting the imprisoned . fighting for the oppressed and enslaved . sacrificing for those in crisis . loving kids . helping family . deliver meals to the weary
But that’s not all. I know my dearest friends well enough to know they want God’s Kingdom on the inside too—they are diligent about dying to self and exalting Jesus. Compelled by His love, my friends are spending their lives for Him and His Kingdom.
They inspire me to a greater something.
Of the 12 books in my Beach Retreat 2013 stack, I’ve ventured into three, plus the Bible. The first was a nonfiction about a lit professor who hosted Jane Austen book clubs throughout Latin America over the course of a year. Her commentary on reading’s benefits and luxury makes me appreciate that I have the time, means, and ability to read and read and read in the days ahead.
Gratitude was a good setting for my heart to process deeper things from A. W. Tozer on spiritual lethargy and Richard Stearns on living for God’s kingdom rather than one of my own making. And truths I’m reading from the Bible—in Romans 5, Luke’s Gospel, and various Psalms—all point to the miracle that God has loved us and pursued relationship with us throughout the ages, finally secured by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus: “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).
I see common threads in all I’m reading, and these threads weave a glorious tapestry of God’s love for me, for others. And because of this great love, I can approach the throne of grace and boldly ask for Him to speak, to break my heart, and to send me out to love as He does. Here’s the highlight reel:
Word of God Speak | a personal prayer for more than the status quo
Give me a hearing heart, a heart that hears, for I long for the Great Whisper—the Voice!—to reach my ears, my mind, my soul. Speak of Your love that reaches the outcast, Your mercy that comforts the brokenhearted, Your wisdom for the double-minded, Your peace for the unsettled, Your power for the oppressed, Your healing for the sick. May I follow the sound of every word You say, chasing You into the darkest places where hope is scarce, where I can be Your hands and feet to those who need Your presence.
Break My Heart | The Dangers of a Shallow Faith: Awakening from Spiritual Lethargy, A. W. Tozer
“It is not by reading the Scriptures in the original languages or in some contemporary version that makes us better Christians. Rather, it is getting on our knees with the Scriptures spread before us, and allowing the Spirit of God to break our hearts. Then, when we have been thoroughly broken before God Almighty, we get up off our knees, go out into the world and proclaim the glorious message of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.” (22)
Put Me to Work | Unfinished: Believing Is Only the Beginning, Richard Stearns
“We are indeed trying to topple the prevailing regimes that have oppressed the human race since the fall, those based on power, money, oppression, corruption, and falsehood. And we are seeking to replace them with the good news of God’s rule, based on truth, love, forgiveness, compassion, and justice.” (165)
Emerald waters fill the horizon here, and the hush-rush of waves meeting the sandy shore fill the ear. Both fill my heart.
Here I am on another Beach Retreat—how many years have we done this now? We have wondered, unable to pinpoint it exactly. I think this may be year four for me, so that would make it maybe year six for Lodge Ladies D and J. We’ve come each time to the same beachfront bungalow along the same sleepy shores of Anna Maria Island to enjoy the same routine of books and quiet and coffee and fellowship and prayer and journaling and food and rest.
As I walked along the familiar coastline taking pictures of this familiar spot of the Gulf, it struck me that if my ocean photos from all Beach Retreats were mixed together, I wouldn’t know year one from year three or two or four. The ocean doesn’t change, really. It’s beautiful, yes. But it’s not noticeably different from year to year.
I don’t necessarily remember specifics from the other Beach Retreats, either. Do I remember what happened year one or two or three or four? I’d have to consult my old journals or search The Patch for old musings.
When it comes to Beach Retreat, there is sameness that makes specific memories slippery in my brain. And that makes me sad, because I don’t want this to slip away. This is what I thought of as I gazed out to the waves, pondering, asking the Lord Jesus to clarify and to comfort my lamenting heart.
Just as these futility-of-life thoughts were about to drag me out to a sea of meaninglessness, it occurred to me: It’s not merely the same Beach Retreat from year to year. The same waters that met me today are not the same drops from years past. The beach is not the same beach, because this year it has more shells—that’s new. I am not even the same woman—I’ve had a year of experiences that have changed who I am inside, adjusting how I see and process life. But there are still places in me that haven’t changed enough for my liking—I look at the horizon and see sameness: weak places, unrefined areas, immature patterns.
This is the crux of life, though, is it not? We face change and sameness every day.
Beach Retreat gives me a chance to reflect on the process. Here I rest in the sameness (the good kind!) of God’s love and the fellowship of dear friends. That steady sameness gives me courage to pursue the change (the good kind!) that’s needed, that I long for. Beach Retreat 2013 is unique. It is special. I will never be this Erin again. I want to savor it, knowing change and sameness will meet me at every turn.
Definitely a picture-worthy occasion.
Oh book stack, how do I love thee!
Beach Retreat allows the time and space to read to my heart’s content. Such a treat! And because I want to read All The Books, I always pack way more than is reasonable for a seven-day stretch. I always hold out hope that I won’t leave one page unturned, one word unread.
Here are my potential reads for the week, from the bottom up:
We Are the New Radicals, Julia Moulden (nf)
Unfinished, Richard Stearns (nf)
Running for My Life, Lopez Lamong (nf)
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Those of you who know me know that my heart doesn’t beat for horses—I have a now-hilarious horseback riding experience that sealed it. (Let’s just say I’m not a fan of crabby horses or saddle bruises.)
But my heart did skip to a happy beat when my running-buddy and writing-friend Becky shared an article about the Derby from our local paper with the following description of one of the horses entered in the race Continue Reading…
Well, I survived every runner’s race day fear: I overslept.
Yep. Every time I run the Champaign half marathon something is off-kilter—heat in 2010, illness in 2011, and now oversleeping in 2013. oh.boy.
Here’s what happened:
As I snuggled into bed Friday night at the iHotel, I set my phone’s alarm for 5:40 a.m. That would give me 40 minutes to wake up, get ready, and eat something before my 6:20 meeting with other Team East White Oak runners who were racing in honor of As Our Own daughter Premila.
I woke up before my alarm, feeling rested and content. I wondered how much longer I had until my alarm, so I clicked my phone from its sleep mode. It said 6:05 a.m. I stared at it, trying to comprehend what my eyes were seeing. No . . . that can’t be right, I thought. But a quick look to the draped window with the sun peeking through told me the sad truth: My alarm was set incorrectly, and I had overslept.
Panic hit me Continue Reading…