Craving A Slow Season

This season, I want slow. Mugs of creamy coffee turned cold because conversation rambled on instead. Evenings spent curled up on the couch staring at the tree, lights blurring in sleepy eyes. Mornings surrounded by Bibles and books and pages full of slanted script.

Our hearts needs slow. We don't need more, we don't need hurry, we don't need busy. We need rest, peace, slow, quiet. The songs sing it, our voices join in, but do we welcome it? Do we open up to the silent night, the holy night? Or does the frenzy take us over?

The best of winter, the best of Christmas, is the way it draws us in and close. Around fireplaces, around bright trees, around a manger scene, around a kitchen table, around a living room, around a sanctuary. The cold is outside, harsh and bitter, but we are welcomed in toward the warmth, toward the heart of all goodness and glory. We are invited in to the stillness, the silence of that holy night, invited to shed our stresses as we shed our coats, and sit before a Savior as he sleeps.

The nativity scene isn't a decoration, it's a declaration: our King has come. The infinite as an infant. The Savior as a swaddled babe.

Let's rest in that. Sit slow as that truth floods us. Gather together with the ones we love and share the sweetness of this season. 

Our souls need this. I've never felt that so strongly as now, that we need this rest, this waiting, this expectant anticipation. We try to race to Christmas, rushing through December, but it burns us out and steals our joy. Like the ones who traveled slow and steady to visit a family far away gathered around a manger, let's journey slow and steady to Christmas, absorbing the beauty and the truth and the mystery of it all.

This Little Light of Mine

It's been a week of burn-out. Defeating, exhausting, overwhelming burn-out.

I've started each morning like I always do-- a few snoozes, a few stretches, then spending time in the Word and reading my devotions. Big mugs of coffee. Big, cozy sweatshirts. This time is sweet, slow, and simple. It does my soul so much good. I feel refreshed and ready for the day. I feel like I struck a match and lit a candle that brightens the space around it and sweetens the air.

Then, the rest of the day comes.

The flames I've lit in the morning, the fuel I've fed my soul, they're snuffed out. And I let it happen. It's like I put the lid on the burning candle, the flickering glow struggling to stay alive but succumbing to the lack of oxygen within seconds.

I feel like those flames tonight.

A stronger source first set me ablaze, and I tried to shine brightly with my little light, but day after day, my flame has burned out. I've felt suffocated, frustrated, stuck. It's been a week of burn-out.

I've tried to explain it, tried to put this mood into words to friends who know me well, and words wouldn't come. And those friends didn't understand. They suggested solitude, silence, stillness.

But I've been doing that. Every morning. Every evening. Every weekend. Why isn't that enough?

Where is the disconnect between my little light and my Giver of light? Why can my little light not stay shining? Why have these days brought burn-out, not brightening?

My little light has left the source of the flame. I've gladly received the light, then I've turned away and tried to keep it ablaze on my own. Thanks, God, for giving me this light. Now, I'll take it from here. I've got this. You can go on and keep lighting other flames now, mine's glowing good and strong here, see? I'm shining on my own strength.

But then, I'm not. What a joke that I thought I could. My flame goes out when I think I've got this life thing figured out on my own. My flame goes out when I read the Word in the morning and leave it all on the dining room table instead of living it. My flame goes out when I leave the Giver of light behind, forgetting He's what made my little light shine in the first place.

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine. Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine.

I know that burn-out when the candle is blown out. I know it all too well.

When Satan comes and threatens to steal my flame, I'm going to let it shine.

When frustrations come and threaten to steal my flame, I'm going to let it shine.

When stresses come and threaten to steal my flame, I'm going to let it shine.

I am not the source of strength, the source of light. I cannot sustain my life on my own. I flicker and fade when I forget the Gospel, when I forget truth, when I forget how desperately I need rescue and a Savior.

I'll leave you with this, because this was everything I needed.

This preaching gospel to yourself daily isn’t cliche — it’s critical. Otherwise it’s your very life that’s in critical condition.

When you fail and you bleed fallen and you’re the mess just wild to somehow make it, it’s inhaling the Gospel that heals — Blessed assurance, Jesus assures: You don’t have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps — you only have to pull close to God.

It’s the gospel in shorthand and pure relief: My hope isn’t built on my performance but on Jesus’ righteousness.

The flesh is always performance driven and everyday I need to become Cross-centered again.

And no one needs the Gospel only once — because all the bad days need the Good News of His grace again and again.
— Ann Voskamp

The above quote can be found in this full post.

Loving Like Jesus Requires Touching the Untouchable

It was a sunny day and I was outside playing with the two little boys I nanny every afternoon. While getting the dump trucks and fire trucks from their bin in the shed, the boys discovered a spider web bigger than their heads, with a spider in the dead center. They were fascinated, and their fingers instantly reached out to touch the spider. I quickly pulled them back and told them "Just use your eyes! Look, but don't touch."

I didn’t think much of it—I was protecting them, keeping them safe from the potential harm that could have come their way if they had gotten too close.

Later that week, that moment came back to me as I was flipping through the Gospels. I realized something about Jesus as I scanned over those chapters and books. He touched a lot.

The man with leprosy came before him, asking to be made clean. Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him and his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3)

Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. (Matthew 8:14-15)

The daughter of a ruler was dead in bed.  Jesus took her by the hand, spoke to her, and she got up at once. (Luke 8:53-55)

Two blind men followed Jesus, crying that he would have mercy on them. He touched their eyes and healed them because of their faith. (Matthew 9:27-29)

The stories continue throughout the Gospels- Jesus moving, speaking, touching and healing person after person.

I think about those people in our world today. They are still just as real as they were when Jesus was here. There are people on street corners holding ragged signs that announce their circumstances to passersby-- homeless, broke, hungry, no job, down on their luck. There are people living under underpasses and bridges, surrounded by trash and broken bottles, with just a slab of concrete for a bed. There are still blind, sick, lonely, hurting, deaf and dying people all around me.

I look, but I don't touch.

...continue reading the rest of this post over on!