The Hue You Gain

The Weeping Cherry sends forth bright red buds, and the House Finches descend.

Did you know that the male finch, with the bright red coloring, gains this hue by eating those red buds? The pigment from what he eats comes out in his feathers. Isn’t that so wonderful?

I take this photo through the screen (so it’s not clear), but I wanted you to see the connection between the bud coloring and the color of the feathers. I learn that if he ate more orange or yellow, I’d be seeing a different looking bird.

I marvel at the interconnectedness of the Weeping Cherry and the beauty of the bird. One feeds the other; one finds expression in the other.

What we feast upon–physically and spiritually– finds expression in us somehow. It’s colors us, excreting out. I remember this afresh today. I want to gain a vibrant, glorious, divine hue.

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It Wasn’t Pretty

I officially had the worst intestinal virus ever. I literally cried out to God on my knees to have mercy on me! For 5 days, I felt hopeless and miserable. I couldn’t find joy no matter how hard I tried. I didn’t feel spiritual, wise, good, or loved.

Bible verses didn’t help. Prayer didn’t help. I told my husband I was one big hypocrite, and that I thought I was so strong and spiritual. I wasn’t! When we went back to the doctor, I actually told him that the spirit-filled life wasn’t working against my pain!
But it was. I learned frailty. I learned that emotions are not truth and were never the truth. I learned that God carried me whether I could perceive Him or not. 
Faith–when all the emotions and all the sensations of the human body spoil the feeling of it–remains untouched and real inside the core of my will. 
Faith never depended on me anyway, none of it. The real me is that frail one, doubled over, angry and hopeless, in desperate need, crying out in the darkness. That’s me. 
“It was good for me to be afflicted, so I could learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:71 

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Morphine Taught Me This

I went to the ER to rehydrate and manage the pain of the intestinal virus!

I felt so silly and weak about the whole thing, but I had a fever of 103.7 and was more thirsty than I’d ever been in my life. I was folded over in pain the entire night.
Even as they were trying to rehydrate me, I felt like it was foolish to be there.
Then, like golden nectar of the gods, the doctor gave me morphine and sent me home happy, hydrated, and primed to sleep all day. All tests came back fine; it’s just the good old tummy virus.
That morphine felt so good. I didn’t want to be strong anymore.
Then, when church friends brought meals for dinners this week, I realized declining such offers of care are foolish and silly.
We don’t have to be strong. Morphine taught me this today.
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At Least 20 Good Things (Even When Ill)

I’m disappointed with how quickly I sink down into the pits when I’m sick with a fever and upset stomach. The whole day seems terrible. Near evening, I remember I can choose gratitude in between trips to the bathroom. I’m thankful for:
A husband who takes care of me 
Children coming in to visit

Soup

Gatorade
Crackers
A bed
Clean water
A bath tub
Warm blankets
Television
Phones
Weeping Cherry tree outside
Gummy bears
Laughter
Pizza
Ice cubes
Heat
Medicine
Texting
Thankfulness 
Sleep
Healing
Cats sleeping by me
It does feel better to thank God for all of these things.
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Of All the Dinners I Have Ever Made, This One Wins

My awesome dad recently made this delicious dish from a recipe in Southern Living (click for recipe). It’s amazing. I mean it. Try it. They will love it. It’s called Lemon Rosemary Garlic Chicken and Potatoes. It’s made in one dish!

The preparation even makes the house smell good. Fresh rosemary! Fresh lemon!

And the end result? Just look. I just threw everything together, and this happened.

Lemon Rosemary Garlic Chicken and Potatoes 

Our friend, Lauren, reported that it’s her favorite of all the dinners I’ve ever made.

I hope you try it. Enjoy!

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It Begins on a Single Day

Today I remind my students that today might be the day they meet a lifelong friend. 

As they meet up in new writing groups, I ask them to imagine that these new people might just become very important to them one day.
It’s a great way to think about this new day. I keep my eyes and mind open to new people. I remember that one day, I met my best friend and husband. One day, I learned the names of my wonderful neighbors. One day, I called a woman to teach my children piano, and she became our dearest family friend.
It begins. On a single day, it begins. Maybe it’s today! 

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By Faith, Enjoy the Torment (A Rather Upsetting Verb in Scripture)

It’s amazing to consider the overwhelming truth of 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. In this passage, you’ll find another unusual and upsetting verb: torment.

Torment means severe mental or physical suffering.

Paul, at the height of his joy in all of the “surpassingly great revelations” about Jesus, simultaneously experiences torment that God allowed. Paul says this torment was “given” to him–like a gift.

He pleaded (a deeply emotional appeal) for God to save him from this torment, and God did not. Why?

Paul gives at least four reasons why this torment becomes a gift. First, you can read the passage:

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 

Can you imagine really, really believing this? Can you imagine truly delighting in weaknesses, insults, hardship, persecution, and difficulties? Delighting? Really? Delight means to take great pleasure in. 

But how? This sounds crazy and impossible. Here’s what I see in the passage:

The tormenting thing perfects God’s power in his life.

The tormenting thing allows God’s power to rest on Paul in a special way (as in when we learn in 1 Peter 4:14 that those tormented by insults “are blessed, for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on [them].”)

The tormenting thing allows for a special strength unknown before because of weakness.

Finally, I learn that a certain gladness and delight–even joy–comes from the torment of persecution, insult, ridicule, or exclusion. Jesus says we are blessed when this happens because of Christ.

I’m going to take this by faith today. I’m going to walk in it and rejoice because of it.

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