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

How to Talk to People When The Ship is Going Down and Everything is on Fire

Jun
25

photo: Jure Širić

So this week has felt like one long horror movie, only the doors are locked and they’re not letting anyone out of the theater. We’re just forced to watch as thing after thing after thing happens, and suddenly everything is exploding and we don’t even know where to look.

Right?

We’ve watched little kids be separated from their immigrant parents at our southern border and felt helpless. We’ve argued about whose fault it is on social media. We’ve seen the photos and tried to figure out where to donate and listened to the recordings of toddlers crying themselves sick because they just want their mama, their papa. I have felt emotionally exhausted all week, and I’m sitting on my comfortable couch in Kansas City. Trying to imagine how they must feel makes me physically dizzy. We are creating So. Much. Brokenness and trauma. Dismantling families like we sort through old clothes for donation: this one here, that one there. Send this one, keep that one, this one is a maybe. Cages full of kids with hearts full of breaks.

I’ve noticed the same fight break out on social media eleventy hundred times this week.

“They shouldn’t have come here, then none of this would have happened.” (As if it’s that simple when you fear for your life and the lives of your children every day in your own home.)  (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…)

A Word About Guns

Feb
17

photo: Fancycrave // CC0

If you’re anything like me, you’re scrolling through social media and article after article following Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida with a broken heart and a lump in your throat.

“Thoughts and prayers.”

“Other countries don’t have this problem. Gun control now!”

“More laws won’t help. Arm the teachers!”

There are a lot of comments on social media regarding guns and gun control that I would like to reply to with words that are less than kind, but after a little prayer involving lots of asking God to put his hand over my mouth, I’ll just say this. We are in a tense place right now as a nation, and most of us are full of fear. Fear of our kids being taken from us, fear of our guns being taken from us, fear of nothing changing for the better because we cannot agree on how to move forward. In an environment so charged with fear, we turn to blame. The democrats, the republicans, Congress, the president, past presidents, your neighbor who wants or doesn’t want gun control – all of these folks are easy targets for blame when we are afraid. But if we consider ourselves people of faith, we do have another choice. When we’re afraid that the world has gone to hell and there’s no other option than to start firing back, let’s listen to Jesus.  (more…)