Unhurried Lent: Day 40

Something Transformed

I hope that you have enjoyed these Lenten posts. They have done their work of slowing me down by giving me a theme to stop and reflect on each day. And today’s theme is one that came with many thoughts.

I love the transformation of the seasons, how spring becomes summer, becomes autumn, ushers in winter only to turn around and do it all again.

Spring – Good Friday at Dyffryn Garden – Wales
Autumn in Triglav National Park – Slovenia

I also love the transformation of taking glass shards and making a beautiful pattern that will then become a vase or a bowl or a piece of jewelry.

Glass in the kiln
Glass from the shards – A work in progess

But most of all I love the transformation that Jesus brings.

My Jesus Makes All Things New

The world was good,

The world is fallen,

The world will be redeemed.

So hold on to the promise.

The stories are true.

Jesus makes all things new.

Andrew Peterson – All Things New

Unhurried Lent: Day 39

Waiting

For us, Saturday of Holy Week is all about the waiting. We know the end of the story. We wait for the resurrection. But sometimes I wonder if Friday was the day of waiting for the disciples. Were they waiting anxiously for a miracle, that last minute breakthrough that would change everything?

When Jesus breathed his last it must have seemed, not a season of waiting, but the end of the wait, the end of the hope, the end of everything.


Christ on the Cross, Eric Gill

But I love the symbolism of this song.

God rested.

“He said that it was finished
And the seventh day, He blessed it
God rested”

Holy Waiting begins in the rest of God

“The sun went down
The sabbath faded
The holy day was done and all creation waited”

God Rested – Andrew Peterson – Prolouge

Unhurried Lent: Day 38

Something Given

Life is gift.

On my Facebook page is a cover with a quote by Wendell Berry. “We live the given life, not the planned.” This speaks to me.

And here is another favorite quote, a passage really, from N.D. Wilson in his brilliant book, Death By Living. If Berry’s quote speaks to me, then Wilson’s words are a resounding cymbal in the core of my being.

US: https://amzn.to/2Isf8F0
(As of the writing of this the Kindle version is on sale for $4.99)

UK: https://amzn.to/2DnfkRI

Don’t resent the moments simply because they cannot be frozen. Taste them. Savor them. Give thanks for daily bread. Manna doesn’t keep overnight. More will come in the morning.

Our futile struggle in time is courtesy of God’s excessive giving. Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one. Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh. A mind still thinking, a heart still beating. Imagine sticking your finger on your pulse and thanking God every time He gave you another blood-driving, brain-powering thump. We should. And we shouldn’t, because if we did, we would never do anything else with our living; we wouldn’t have time to look at or savor any of the other of our impossibillions of gifts.

My wife and I tend to overgift to our kids at Christmas. We laugh and feel foolish when a kid is so distracted with one toy that we must force them into opening the next, or when something grand goes completely unnoticed in a corner. How consumerist, right? How crassly American.

How like God.

We are all that overwhelmed kid, not even noticing our heartbeats, not even noticing our breathing, not even noticing that our fingertips can feel and pick things up, that pie smells like pie and that our hangnails heal and that honey-crisp apples are real and that dogs wag their tails and that awe perpetually awaits us in the sky. The real yearning, the solomonic state of mind, is caused by too much gift, by too many things to love in too short a time. Because the more that we are given, the more we feel the loss as we are all made poor and sent back to our dust.

Oh, but we notice heartbeats when they stop. And we beg for more. If we are capable of sulking about Christmas while still around the tree half-buried in shiny paper (and we are), then of course we are capable of weeping when Christmas appears to be over. The ungrateful always farm bitterness in their hearts. Those with faith (yet another gift) rejoice even at the end and after. They wipe tears, more profoundly feeling the full wealth of lives given when those same lives are lost.

N.D. Wilson

Book Review: The Artful Match

About the Book:

Cara Bernay has never fit in. At loose ends in 1881 London after a near tragedy costs her a job, she befriends a carefree artist. With his help, she begins planning a new life and developing her own artistic talent. But soon Cara finds herself at odds with the artist’s brother–a handsome but arrogant earl forcing his brother back to a “respectable” life.

Henry Burke, the Earl of Morestowe, feels the weight of growing financial burdens. Despite misgivings about Cara’s mysterious background, Henry sees she’s a positive influence on his brother Langham and on Henry’s young ward, and he strikes a deal with her to return with them to their estate.

But the family has their own secrets, and when all the secrets come to light, Langham, Henry and Cara all have choices to make.

My Thoughts:

I almost never read a third book in a series without reading the preceding books, but this book caught my interest so I decided to give it a try.

It was clear that there was a fair amount of backstory that I was missing, but the author did try to keep me up to date so the lack of prior information wasn’t confusing. And I’m curious enough now that I’ll probably go back and read the other books.

Oddly enough, the character that I connected to the most was the earl’s brother; the migraine afflicted, substance abusing artist. I think it is the mark of a good writer that all the characters in the book are well developed and that you can really see inside the lives of more than just the main character. That said, Cara’s impulsive idealism made for an interesting story.

There were clear indicators that the character’s had more than a passing relationship with God, even though some of their understandings were off at times. In fact, those struggles with false beliefs are what makes the characters so very human.

The writing felt light and easy to read, even when the subject matter was serious. All in all, I am glad that I read this novel and I’ll look forward to reading more by Jennifer Delamere.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Unhurried Lent: Day 37

Something Humble

As I pondered the the theme for today I began to think about seeds, those tiny little vessels of hope. Though they are small and unassuming, humble in every way, they contain within them beautiful expressions of life.

There are so many parallels when it comes to considering the seed, especially in the parables of Christ and the story of death to resurrection that we are moving toward, this Holy Week.

Humble bulbs that I put in the soil today
Anemone bloom from last year’s bulbs

From humility to glory

Unhurried Lent: Day 36

Something Treasured

There are so many things that I treasure, blessings beyond holding, but the one that I decided to interact with today was the treasure of time. It is a treasure that holds joy, tears, laughter and grief. It is a treasure that can’t be measured for we don’t know the measure that we have been given.

“My heart has known the winters and my feet have known the snow, but mine eyes have seen the glory of a seed begin to grow … We are made alive, by the King who paints beauty with time.”

Treasured Memories

My heart has known the winters
And my feet have known the snow
But mine eyes have seen the glory
Of a seed begin to grow

There is a time to uproot, darling
But most days just hold on tight
For there’s a time for darkness, honey
But dawn will always beat the night

Sometimes death will come calling
When you’ve been good and warned
And other times its cold hands will cradle
Dreams yet to be born

There is a time to dance on sorrow
And a time to kiss her cheek
There is a time to mourn in silence
But justice aches to hear you speak

And I don’t know the end, or tomorrow’s story
But I have found the one who gives me rest
And I will make my bed in His promises
For He holds true when nothing’s left… When nothing’s left

There is a time when laughter will echo
Through your halls of peace
But war is known to change your locks
And carry off the family keys

There is a time for healing and pain
A time for drought and a time for rain
There is a time for everything
Until we crown the risen King…Until we crown the risen King

And I don’t know the end, or tomorrow’s story
But I have found the one who gives me rest
And I will make my bed in His promises
For He holds true when nothing’s left… When nothing’s left

So crown Him in your mourning
And crown Him in your laughter
And crown Him when it all turns dark

Crown Him when you bury
And crown Him when you marry
And crown Him when your faith finds a spark

Crown Him for He’s faithful
And crown Him for He’s worthy
And crown Him for He is good

Crown Him for His promises
Cut through the blindness
Of children that have barely understood

The beauty that has come
And the beauty yet to come
And the beauty that is yours and that is mine
And that death produces life
And that we are made alive
By the King who paints beauty with time
By the King who paints beauty with time
By the King who paints beauty with time

And I don’t know the end, or tomorrow’s story
But I have found the one who gives me rest
And I will make my bed in His promises
For He holds true when nothing’s left… When nothing’s left

John Lucas – Lyrics: Time

Unhurried Lent: Day 35

Something Challenged

I wrestled a bit with today’s theme, turning it over and over again in my mind. I settled on my sense of place as my something challenged. I love roots and history and belonging and yet I have spent my adult life following a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, settled for a season and then on the move again.

“No place is a place until things that have happened in it are remembered in history,” says Wallace Stegner.* So I am challenged daily to put down roots, to build history, to remember and to find my belonging all along the journey. This is the challenge of a sojourner.

How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand … there is no going back? J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

*Reference Link to article with quote

Unhurried Lent Day 33: Book Review – Glorious Weakness

Recap: The main idea in these Unhurried Lent posts is that I’m taking time each day during Lent to slow myself down by reflecting on and creatively responding to a theme.

Something Weak

When I started to think of this theme I thought, “I could just put up a selfie and that would say it all.”

And then I thought, this is a great opportunity to review Alia Joy’s book Glorious Weakness.

About the Book:

As a girl, Alia Joy came face to face with weakness, poverty, and loss in ways that made her doubt God was good. There were times when it felt as if God had abandoned her. What she didn’t realize then was that God was always there, calling her to abandon herself.

In this deeply personal exploration of what it means to be “poor in spirit,” Joy challenges our cultural proclivity to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” She calls on readers to embrace true vulnerability and authenticity with God and with one another, showing how weakness does not disqualify us from inclusion in the kingdom of God–instead, it is our very invitation to enter in.

Anyone who has struggled with feeling inadequate, disillusioned, or just too broken will find hope. This message is an antidote to despair, helping readers reclaim the ways God is good, even when life is anything but.

My Thoughts:

First I want to say that Alia is a beautiful writer and that this book has some really encouraging and powerful things to say. BUT, as it says in the introduction, this book is not for everyone.

Alia’s story spans a number of themes and I kept getting broadsided by things that I didn’t see coming. If you have had medical or sexual trauma in your life or you have unresolved/unhealed wounds around transitions, family, church, mental illness or end of life losses take some caution approaching this book. When the publisher’s description says this is a deeply personal exploration they aren’t kidding. These are the kind of stories that I hear often as a spiritual director and several times I set this book aside feeling a weight of compassion fatigue just from reading what Alia so openly shared. It is one thing to hear tears dripping through your telephone line and have the opportunity to be present with someone. It is another thing altogether to read about raw pain and have no way to interact with the one telling you the story.

The thing that I love is that in the telling of these deeply moving and personal stories Alia kept finding the places where God was filling her own lack with His fullness, even when she couldn’t see it. I also loved how she kept returning to the idea of living out the language of hope in the midst of our circumstances.

In summary I think that Glorious Weakness was a beautifully written, but emotionally demanding memoir of finding God in our weakness and seeing His hand-print of glory on our lives.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.