teach me the secret.

"For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
I know how to be brought low,
And I know how to abound.
In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
+ philippians 4:11-13

Some days, I don't see how this is possible. possible amidst stark transitions ushered in by life. possible amidst changing friendships and heart-burning farewells, miles separating. How is it a possible reality for me when life demands are at crossroads with heart desires. when past reminds of golden ebenezers, and future, of unscaled horizons. when the present suffocates at times. I just struggle to see it as possible.

But for Paul, this evasive contentment was a reality, a blessed actuality. But he doesn't claim to have conjured it up--how do you wrestle and subject your heart to satisfaction?

He admits he needed Jesus.

the Jesus who chose to leave the high places and enter the low. whose life was marked with the starkest of strokes. who left the place of joy, the dearest of all communions, to take on the world's brokenness, their depression, their restlessness, their separation, their ingratitude. the Jesus who really does know my tears. He was bitterly separated from His treasured Father--forever together, now utterly apart. He knows what loneliness feels like--will we call him friend?

Surely if this One promises strength, I ought not fear. He won't confine my heart to stale contentment, but will fill me full with pacifying joy.

Teach me the secret.


when time has no mercy

Some people long for a new year to bring a fresh start, to hit the reset button and try this things called life over again. Some struggle with grief of guilt and limp into the new year with back bent over with burdens. Some once more unapologetically borrow last year's untouched goals and yet-to-reach resolutions and hope for better luck this time around.

But this year I'm finding myself in this unnamed category. A category of people finding themselves drowning in sentimentality, unable to forget the fullness of this year. The smells, the sounds, the sights still so fresh they couldn't possibly be drifting every second farther into history. People in this category find it almost a bitter farewell to change this 3 to a 4, as if all these moments that are held so close are in a way still in the present until the clock strikes midnights and the number 2-0-1-4 reminds that all those memories really are in the distant past.
"forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize."
+ Philippians 3:13-14
But just as there is hope for the self-help individual, the guilt-laden, and the apathetic, I know there is hope for people of my type. There's a way too look up, to move forward. There's a constant to compensate for changing tides. There's something better guaranteed for our future.

I have hope because there's a God bound by no years or numbers. He's a constant. He is good. He fills hearts to satisfaction as well this next year as in ages past. He promises that better things are ahead. And He always delivers on His promises. He gives me confidence to face tomorrow.

So those of us who trudge on with regret that the best is behind, we're fools. We're unbelievers. We don't understand the good God has promised. Our best life isn't now. We have aimed low, because the best is to come.
"And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them."
+ Isaiah 42:16 
May He, this year, raise my sights, deepen my trust, go with me where He leads, enlarge my heart, use each breath, and claim all glory.


of cousins and laughter and swings

Two of the most darling girls dropped by for a short visit yesterday! These cousins of mine love walks and parks, so a short jaunt to the playground it was. Olive goes a million miles per hour and will talk your ear off, while Penny can always be found right at her heel, doing her best to keep up and copy and outdo the big sister. They make quite the duo!


the most puzzling paradox

perhaps the greatest mystery, most puzzling paradox.

God in flesh stoops to knees. He fills wash basin and cups dirt-caked heels in hands. the feet of his traitors, his forsakers, his friends. He rinses and scrubs. their dirt He takes on.

God in flesh falls to knees. His body, He breaks--blood, spills. cups sin-stained hearts in pierced-through hands. rinses and scrubs hearts of traitors, forsakers, enemies, rivals, and dearly-loved children. their sin He takes on.

and He tells me to follow.

"you, the servant, think you're something else. you, like all of your race, long to be served. but you're not above me, your master. so if I kneel, if I serve, if I wash, if I stoop, if I break, if I enter the mess--so do you."

and this is my life purpose in simple terms of bruised knees and wrinkled hands and big heart that follow the way of Jesus.

and as I pour out, and lap up the water, making messes but refreshing souls, Jesus promises to tend to me. He'll still pour water, like grace, over my weary soul and trail-worn feet.
"There is always enough God. He has no end. He calls us to serve, and it is Him whom we serve, but He, very God, kneels down to serve us as we serve. The servant-hearted never serve alone.
"Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but the one we yearn for: joy in Him."

- Ann Voskamp
When Jesus commissions us--"wash each other's feet. serve each other as I serve you."--He puts our service in the context of the gospel. just as He stopped low and entered humanity and washed feet and died underserving, we stoop low, serve the ungrateful and underserving, give grace free and full. and those actions become the gospel script, the echoes and reverberations of God's grace to a dying and broken world.

Jesus doesn't call for more manners, for more polite gestures. He breaks the social barriers, goes against the tide of cultural coldness and lack of compassion, and calls us to lowliness, in convenience, and self-crucifixion.

Love is the laying down of LIFE.

the simplest complexity

What is love, you ask?

Love is the laying down.

the laying down of rights, the laying down of pride and the "better than" attitude. it is the laying down of ownership and possession, the laying down of personal space and entitlement.

Love is the laying down of life.
and doesn't this simple definition clarify it all?

it is the way in which God has demonstrated his love for us.
it is the way in which we respond to that and demonstrate our love for Him--the giving up our lives.
it is also the way in which we then express life-pouring-out love to others.
to give of entitlement, to give of resources. to lay down your rights and preferences. to lay down your life.