Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wouldn't it be fun if...

The other night I was with a group of women. We were talking about how quickly December flies by. We were talking about the ideas that come to mind to do. There was recognition and acceptance that you do them if you can and you do not if you can not. So many ideas can not be done.

One of the women said quietly (I'm not even sure how many others heard her say it), "Wouldn't it be fun if we had time to share with each other what some of those things are?"

I've been wondering what my answer would be to that question. I've decided that if I had endless amounts of time in December, I would sit down and write a bunch of hand written letters. I would start with the stack of Christmas letters that are on my kitchen table from friends who live out of town. I would respond to the things they have shared. I would express joy over the fun and exciting events of 2010. I would share in their sorrows and do what I could to help them be hopeful for 2011. Then I would sit and see who comes to mind. Who has made a difference in my life in 2010? As those people came to mind I would write them a note telling them what I remember about the encounter/s we had. The fireplace would be lit along with the Christmas tree. Either a vanilla or cinnamon candle would be burning.

There are ways that my life does not feel extremely wealthy. But in the area of friendship, I am awed by the abundance I know there. I have risked much in the way of friendship. I have been blessed beyond measure. Compound interest works in relationships too!

I may not get to sit and write letters this December, but I hope writing this little blog entry will help me to be more mindful about meaningfully saying thank you along the way in 2011.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


One morning in the last ten days. I woke up hard pressed on every side. Not a great way to start the day. I could not shake the thoughts and feelings that were pressing in. I have given a great deal of thought and prayer time to the topic of sin recently. This is not a pleasant topic to contemplate. I was more than a little irritated that I could not simply decide I was done thinking about it and turn my mind off to it on that day. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not.

In an effort to avoid making everyone's day miserable, I headed to my office to spend some focused time talking with God about it.

I have been asking some questions about grace. It is not possible to understand the vastness of the grace of God without being laid low by the reality of sin. Sin in my life. Sin in the life of others around me. The interaction of sin on each other. Once again God was not rescuing me from the ugliness of something I really did need to see, to be touched by and even hopeless in for a time.

I realized in the conversation with the Lord that I was not capable of grasping what God was trying to show me. I needed help. I spent some time in Romans and then I thought about a book that came to mind when I first entered the room. I picked it up. The title of the next chapter was Humility-Sin. Not even making that up. A glimmer of hope appeared as I started to read the pages.

These are some of the thoughts I have after reading through this chapter. When our eyes are opened to sin we have choices. Will we react to sin with sin? Will we self-justify and self-preserve? Or, will we believe there is another way provided by Christ? Will we choose humility? The life of Christ or Grace makes humility a possible option. Part of why I was troubled earlier in the day because I was very aware I had not responded to sin well. I am surrounded by people who do the same thing. It was all feeling rather impossible. Sin is very common and grace is very uncommon. But as I prayed through all of this, I was seeing and believing that Jesus does make it possible to make a different choice than the norm. To choose humility and grace in the face sin is possible. When surrendering to faith in Christ is chosen, God is proven marvelously truthful, effective in the face of sin and hope is returned. God is recognized and glorified. Grace and humility truly are radically different from the norm.

The whole conversation felt simultaneously very big and very pointed. What am I going to do with all this when I walk out of this room? I asked God this question. The thought that came was to say in my mind the word Grace the next time I was confronted with my own sin or the sin of another. I was hopeful that this choice would in some small and yet sacred way invite all the vastness of what I was learning to be effective in a very pointed and needed way.

I also had the thought, when I crossed the threshold out of my office, that this truth would tested. It was.