Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

The Other Couch

Apr
30

Confession: if you look long enough, you’ll notice quickly that this photo is not Instagram-perfect. To the right, you’ll see the bins of stuff still sitting around from when I started Konmari-ing and then life got in the way. A Diet Coke from a drive-thru sits on my coffee table, even though I know lots of folks will let me know about how it’s poison and I should make my own drinks from fermented kale and stevia. And for your own sanity, dear enneagram ones, please don’t glance under the coffee table itself. You don’t wanna know what assortment of vitamins, half-read books, tupperware containers of dried fruit and nuts, journals, bottle of Lysol wipes, and other random crap is lurking under there. Just don’t do that to yourself. I give you permission to look away until I organize it (likely first thing in the morning on February 31).

But, there’s something else in this photo – the reason I paused and took it from exactly this angle, no contorting to hide the mess.

See, I never sit over here.  (more…)

When We’re Waiting in the Top Envelope

Apr
21

Photo: Engin Akyurt

In my living room, next to my favorite bookcase, two envelopes hang on the wall. Nearby is a small stack of notecards. We put our prayers in the top envelope – the little leaf reminds us of hope for the future – and when God answers, we move them to the bottom envelope, our hope having bloomed into joy.

My little prayer corner.

I set this up after reading that Anne Lamott has a box where she keeps her prayers – God’s inbox. I thought this was genius but that we needed an outbox, too, a way to keep track of all the times God has answered – because, if you’re like me, you know how it goes. We pray (and pray and pray) and when God answers, we are grateful. But then, as the storms of life move in and the wind begins to toss us around again, all those filled needs and reassurances fade into the chaos and uncertainty around us. We forget (at least, I forget) how God has shown up for us in the past. How over and over again, when it looks like all is lost, He has come through.

I wonder if Jesus’ friends forgot too, right around this time a couple thousand years ago. The whole world must have looked pretty black this weekend. A Friday that looked anything but good, followed by a Saturday in what must have been utter darkness and despair. For a moment – an agonizing few days – it appeared that the corrupt power systems of this world had won. Goodness and love had taken its last breath and was buried.

Planted.

Just like our envelope prayers. When it has been a lifetime of leaves with what seems like only occasional flowers, too few and far between, and now the whole tree itself looks dead and dry, it can seem impossible that Sunday will ever come. That a dead tree could ever bloom again. That a Man could rise from the dead, resurrecting our hope and faith with Him. The waiting is the excruciating part, when we’re not sure He will come through this time, even if He has countless times before. But may we remember, even in the waiting, even in the not-sure and the not-yet, He is still good.

If you are waiting in the top envelope, hold on. Sunday and flowers are coming. You are not forgotten. You never, ever were, and you can never, ever be. The God of the universe, Maker of oceans and stars, is already whispering to your flowers to go on, unfold. Just wait till you see them. Just you wait.

 

-c

Why Grace?

Jul
16

photo: Michael Gaida

Today, I want to talk about grace. I chose it as the name of my blog, my podcast, my little corner of the internet. But I realized recently that I never explained it to you, why it’s so important to me. You see,

Grace changes everything.

A friend of mine once told me a story that illustrates what grace is really well. When my friend was a kid, he loved baseball. Couldn’t get enough of it, played it all the time, basically ate, slept, and breathed baseball. Once, when he was about nine, he was playing in his backyard with some neighborhood friends and accidentally hit one right through his parents’ bedroom window. Eeeesh. He knew he was in big trouble, and his mom confirmed he was going to get it when his dad got home. Knowing his dad, he knew that meant a spanking – probably a big one, with the belt – and having to do some work for his dad for a looooong while in order to pay back his parents for the window. He waited in his room, consumed by his guilt and shame – how could he be so stupid to play facing the house like that? – and full of anxiety and fear leading up to the spanking. By the time his father got home, he was a total nervous wreck. He could hear his dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs, and when his dad opened his bedroom door, he jumped what felt like a foot off his bed. (more…)

Away in a Manger // Advent: An Invitation to Hope

Dec
10

photo: Trinity Kubassek

Advent and the arrival of Hope and Goodness into the world just makes my heart want to sing! So this year, we are taking a closer look at some of my favorite Advent hymns. Each Sunday during Advent 2017, check back to find a new post and a new song, which I hope will fill you with the joy of Christ’s birth. This week, I’m sharing with you my take on “Away in a Manger.” Press play above while you read, sink into hope and rest awhile. This Advent season, let’s remember Who we wait for and sing Him into our world together. As the season unfolds, you can find all the posts here: Advent 2017: An Invitation to Hope.

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I have never personally given birth, but I can’t imagine the fear and completely crazypants emotions that must come with going into labor in a stable. First of all, that is basically outside. Can you imagine? I would have lost my mind, y’all. In a moment when you really want some privacy and comfort, that’s the last place I’d want to be. Jesus’ mom had no inflatable heated birthing pool, essential oils, or customized birth playlist soothing her soul. There was no epidural, and no doctors or nurses or midwives coaching her and ensuring her safety. Heck, this poor, extremely pregnant lady and her husband couldn’t even get a hotel room for the night. They had just survived a ridiculous road trip, but instead of getting a good night’s sleep, this woman actually brought her child into this world on a dirt floor with sheep and goats hanging around and watching. What a mama. We protestants do not give Mary enough credit. (more…)