“Track your fears with the light of Scripture and you are directed to God.  Your fears are more about God than you realize.  Along the way that light also helps you see yourself more clearly.  What you see is that the world is organized into two kingdoms, and the boundary between those two kingdoms, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed, cuts right through each of our hearts.  Our preference is to straddle that line, but our patient God keeps persuading us to be wholeheartedly devoted to his kingdom.  There is no other way to distance ourselves from fear and anxiety.”

(Ed Welch, Running Scared, p. 311)

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Yesterday, I was reading to Ian from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  Initially I was reading to him, but the more I read, the more I was reading to us:

What does a rocket need to lift off and go zooming into outer space?  It needs a launchpad.

Do you know what God’s launchpad is in our lives–from which he can do ANYTHING?

Is it great faith?  Our perfect record?

Incredible courage?
No.

It’s our weakness.

God’s power comes to us in our littleness, in our brokenness, in our not knowing, in our not being able.

And when God’s power meets our weakness?

Liftoff!

A Cupcake Story.

September 28, 2013

Cupcake Book Cover Web

My friend Hillary and I published our first children’s story through Amazon recently!  I wrote, she illustrated.  It’s an allegory about God’s perfect timing and beautifying work in our lives.

Some of you might recognize it from this blog from 2011.  I took it down once I decided to make it into book form for my little cupcake-lovin’ cousins … and I guess for others who stumble across it on Amazon and other places in a week. :]

Now whenever someone asks me, “What did you do during your maternity leave with Ian?” I can say, “This!”  Hehe.  Well, this, and learning how to take care of a bebe. ;]

“But work He does.”

October 21, 2012

I recently reread Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery, the last book in her Anne of Green Gables series, placed during World War I.  I started reading this series when I was in the tail end of elementary school, and I’ve been rereading these books ever since.  Somehow, they never get old.  Or … maybe it’s that I just never mature.  Haha. ;]

I never noticed it before, but these stories really speak to both the theology of its time and the theology of the author.  I guess it’d be impossible to tell the story of people’s lives and have it so real and believable unless their deep beliefs and thoughts about God (or not) bled through all their comings and goings.

Some conclusive theological points raised in dialogue between the characters or in individual thoughts are off, I think, but some are pretty sound and poignant.  And all the more so as illustrated in a life story.  Case in point, dialogue between two characters about God’s “involvement” in the war — a war they felt keenly, as they sent their fiances, husbands, childhood friends, and sons off to the trenches:

“We think very lightly, Mr. Meredith, of a calamity which destroys an ant-hill and half its inhabitants.  Does the Power that runs the universe think us of more importance than we think ants?”

“You forget,” said Mr. Meredith, with a flash of his dark eyes, “that an infinite Power must be infinitely little as well as infinitely great.  We are neither, therefore there are things too little as well as too great for us to apprehend.  To the infinitely little an ant is of as much importance as a mastodon.  We are witnessing the birth-pangs of a new era–but it will be a feeble, wailing life like everything else.  I am not one of those who expect a new heaven and a new earth as the immediate result of this war.  That is not the way God works.  But work He does, Miss Oliver, and in the end His purpose will be fulfilled.”

(pp. 165-166)

It was a good reminder in an unexpected place. :]

Work He does.  And it is a good work.

If you will hold the rope.

August 21, 2012

Reading William Carey’s biography, British missionary to India at the turn of the 18th century, “the father of modern missions.”  Many still marvel at his single-minded labor for the gospel, but I wonder how many know of his four faithful friends?  Friends who vowed to hold his arms up until death — much in the way Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites.  Friends who then kept their word.  Friends who fiercely loved him and the God of their cause.

The night before Carey left for India,

The five contrived to get apart — Ryland, Sutcliff, Fuller, Pearce, and Carey.  They talked for the last time together of the task which lay before them, with all its uncertainty and possibility.  Carey drew them into a covenant, that, as he went forth in the name of their Master and their Society, ‘they should never cease till death to stand by him,’ and to this they pledged their troth …

Later, in Fuller’s warm mind, it took imaginative shape, and he would often thus describe it, until his pictorial words became transferred to the original event, and the rope-holding pledge became a fixed and consecrated tradition.  But the simile was Fuller’s, as he once explained to Christopher Anderson.

“Our undertaking to India really appeared at its beginning to me somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating a deep mine which had never before been explored.  We had no one to guide us; and, whilst we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said, ‘Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.’  But, before he descended, he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us at the mouth of the pit, to this effect that ‘whilst we lived, we should never let go the rope.‘”

With entire fidelity, that covenant was kept in every case until broken by death.

(William Carey, S. Pearce Carey, p. 108)

Makes me wonder: Whose rope am I holding with that ferocity of devotion?  And who have I humbly asked to hold my rope (maybe not to the distance of India but in similar fashion)?

Now that I’m in the tail end of shingles, I think I can focus long enough to write a complete thought.  I never knew how persistent physical pain could disrupt the flow of thought or jolt you awake in the middle of the night … but even in this small glimpse of what that might feel like, my respect for those persevering in the faith with chronic ailments or pain has grown exponentially.

It’s been a quiet season on this blog, but I’ve had the opportunity to read and read like I always dreamed of doing once I didn’t have homework waiting for me at nights or wedding planning.  Haha.  And I’m currently reading S. Pearce Carey’s biography of William Carey (JohnE’s copy; hooray for the marriage between two libraries, too!) and poems by John Piper.

If you have a relatively free summer, I recommend both.  Biographies are a great way of enjoying “a heart at leisure from itself,” and this is a particularly good one … and Piper’s poems are pretty poignant.  I read the poem below yesterday and was encouraged by the illustration of a woman whose ultimate hope isn’t in her husband or in his “safety” or “preservation” but in the God of the gospel, exemplified by her submission and willingness to hear Truth from her pastor.

Oh, to cultivate such a heart by His grace.

John Piper wrote this poem when he heard of a newlywed waiting for her husband after the Interstate 35 bridge over the Mississippi collapsed on August 1, 2007.

Waiting For My Husband After the Bridge Collapsed

O God, please let him be unconscious,
With his wallet lost, unknown
In some draped cubicle, with nurses
Near, and scrolling through his phone.

You never stayed so late. O Jesus,
I would give this house, and weep
With joy to know he stayed at
Work, until he fell asleep.

It’s midnight. I’m afraid to call, or
Even look too closely at the cars
Above the water, with the broken
Windows, glimpsed between the twisted bars.

I sleep. And you are there, the current
Of the Mississippi in your hair,
Caressed, so still, so still, so breathless,
Love, as when last night I touched you there.

I wake to hear the doorbell ringing.
It is two A. M.  And through the hues
Of porch-light, Yes! No matter
What. My pastor always brings good news.

©2012 Desiring God Foundation. Used by Permission.

I wrote this a little while ago elsewhere but decided to post it here today.

One of my favorite authors and literary inspirations is Elizabeth Prentiss, author of Stepping Heavenward and writer of the hymn, “More Love to Thee, O Christ.”  I first discovered her my sophomore year of college while haunting The Shepherd’s Conference bookstore in 2004 with my friend Stephanie. There, we asked one of the pastors’ wives for book recommendations.  She held up a copy of Stepping Heavenward and recommended it to us as one of her “favorite rainy day reads.”  I bought it right away.

A week later, I got stay-in-bed sick.  So for two straight days, I ate crackers and wept through the pages of Stepping Heavenward.

It had been a year of spiritual depression, soul darkness.  I shut down.  Shut people out.  Became morbidly introspective.  Doubted my salvation.  Imagined God was constantly frowning on me — after all, if He’d saved me, couldn’t I get it together now and sin no more?

But in the pages of Stepping Heavenward, Elizabeth Prentiss let me live for a while in the shoes of Katy.  She let me read her journals, hear her prayers, and see God’s nearness and kindness in her life.

I had learned so much theology up to that point in my life, but I didn’t know half of what it looked like in real life.  But in that book, I caught a glimpse of it.

To this day, I’m thankful for stories — fictions, biographies, allegories — that help make transcendent truth, imminent truth.  Literature that fleshes out the reality of Christ, the reality of walking with Him, for kids both young and old.  After all, isn’t that one of the greatest values of Christian literature?

Whereas expository writing gives us the precept, literature incarnates the precept in an example — an example that does not simply illustrate the truth but is itself the meaning.  A work of literature is incarnational — it embodies meaning.  The customary literary terminology for talking about this is to say that the writer of literature shows rather than tells.

(Leland Ryken, Words of Delight, p. 13)