Everyday Grace

Searching for goodness in the ordinary

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…)

When Father’s Day is Hard

Jun
11

photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán

My first father was Danny Tanner. Kind but firm, wise, and good at cleaning up messes both physical and emotional, he was who I sometimes pictured as a kid when I thought about what fathers were like. In case you didn’t grow up in the 90s watching basic cable after school, I’m talking about DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle’s dad on the TV show Full House. He always had the answers when his girls got into trouble, and even when they really screwed up, he always let them know he loved them and would always be there for them. This was a far cry from my own father experience. Maybe I gravitated toward Mr. Tanner because my own concept of what a father was was blurry and ungraspable, sort of like trying to remember what someone looked like in a dream. I had a vague outline, but the details never came together. Mr. Tanner was a concrete figure, an example that made sense. (As a little girl, I thought he was a real person, a real dad, so you can imagine my shock later in life when I watched Bob Saget do some standup and my beloved TV dad evaporated into thin air.)

I’ve never met my biological dad. I think the first time I remember realizing this loss was in kindergarten, when the time came to make Father’s Day cards and crafts. Everyone around me had a dad to make something for but me. I don’t say this to get you to feel sorry for me, but to get you to understand that this is when it hit me that I was different from the other kids in this way. I knew what a dad was, I guess, but I had never really thought about where mine was until that point. I went home and asked my mom, and after a long pause, she told me he “ran away.” I’m sure she was just trying to find simple words to explain a complicated thing to a little kid, but I remember thinking, from what? I began to internalize the idea that I was something to run from, or at the very least, not worth sticking around for. (more…)

No Happy Endings

May
28

photo: Lucas Allmann

When I was a little girl, I loved stories. My mom used to read to me all the time, and I learned to read at a pretty young age just by sitting with her and absorbing as she read to me. She read me a lot of stories from the Grimm brothers’ giant book of collected fairy tales, and the copy she had was so old and worn that it no longer had any covers. These stories didn’t always have happy endings, but the best ones did. The prince would show up, the princess would be rescued, the land would be healed, and all would be well. I don’t think the desire for a happy ending is limited to little kids. I think all of us secretly want and hope for a happy ending for ourselves, too – but if I’m being honest, I just don’t think happy endings exist. Let me explain. (more…)