And I Ate It

I didn’t save this berry for my children or husband or even a neighbor. Oh no, I ate it immediately. I feel no remorse whatsoever.

Sometimes, the gifts God brings into our hands are for us to enjoy, and that’s right and good. I know too many people who feel guilty when they enjoy some simple pleasure because they’re taught to deny themselves all the time. Remember that it is God “who richly provides all things for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17).

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Something to Gather Right Now

It’s raining, but I know I have to harvest this day’s strawberries. The whole time I’m out there in the mud and underneath the dark sky, foraging about for ripe berries hidden beneath the rich green foliage, I think about the blessing I might gather in any season, under any sky, in any circumstance.

Yes, it’s terrible weather out here, but still there’s something to gather.

Doesn’t Isaiah 45 talk about how God can bring treasure from darkness? Doesn’t Psalm 126 talk about how those who sow in tears reap a great harvest of joy? Doesn’t Isaiah 43 talk about God making streams in the wasteland?

There’s something to gather from this day and every day–some wisdom, some joy, some beauty, some blessing. Go and gather it! Go right into the rain and darkness and gather it up!

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A Season for Long Stories

I love this season of graduation parties, block parties, pool afternoons, and just sitting around being together.

Today, we were with folks all day long, just sitting around. We swapped long stories of vacations and childhood and gardens and children and pets. In a town like this–during a summer like this–it’s a lot of simple living in community.

We enjoy food and being together with neighbors in a leisurely way. We have time for long stories. In fact, I better get back out there because a neighbor has stoked a huge fire for all the kids on the street to roast s’mores. We’ll tell more long stories well into the night.

This is what I love.

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Surprise!

“If God knows everything, then He never gets to be surprised.” This is my daughter expressing sadness over what she feels is one of life’s greatest pleasures: the feeling of surprise!

She loves surprises. She loves unexpected little gifts and friends arriving unannounced. She loves it most when I say, “I have a wonderful surprise for you.” Maybe it’s a treat I’ve baked or a new book I’ve found for her that’s hiding under her pillow. Maybe it’s a movie I’ve rented or a special event I’ve planned.

Her love language is surprises. She loves them so much that I try to create a few each week.

“Doesn’t God ever get that feeling?” she wonders. “He doesn’t, does He?”

I think about this today as I smile with joy at the red ripe strawberry in the patch. I knew it was coming all along (just like it has the past four years), but each time, it’s a delight. Each time, it’s astonishing and wonderful. Some things are just so beautiful that it doesn’t matter if you know they’re coming. It’s deeper and better than surprise; it’s wonder and worship.

But I’m still thinking about this.

I’m thinking about how much a child loves surprises. Then I’m thinking about how much I absolutely love creating the perfect surprise for this child. I’ve grown up into the person who loves surprising instead of receiving surprises, so maybe that’s part of God’s character. There’s more joy in making the surprise than getting it.

This makes me wonder how God must be fashioning the perfect surprise for you right this moment. You have no idea it’s coming, but it’s coming. You have no idea what it will be, but it’s going to be so amazing that you’ll be simply astonished all day.

It’s coming!

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What Only Slow Makes Happen

We’re growing many unusual things in our garden, things like artichokes and radishes and eggplant. Every morning, barefoot and chilly, we all go to the garden to check the progress of things. The basil is growing well, and so are the tomatoes. We find little blossoms on the peppers and the cucumbers. The carrot seeds have finally sprouted across from the beans.

It’s a funny concept, but we go out there to love our little garden and encourage it.

We’ve harvested enough strawberries to freeze two bags for winter pies. Blueberries ripen alongside the flowering blackberries and raspberries.

It’s a slow kind of thing that’s full of love and gentle care. Even the composted dirt is a slow kind of thing.

Slow, slow, slow.

I love the patience of it and the way I feel when I’m out in the garden. The Slow Food Movement agrees, and I’m having a good time learning all about it. I want slowness to seep into other areas of my life because if you know me, I’m the exact opposite of slow! There’s no slow in me at all! Well, maybe there’s some.

I’ve been a proponent of Slow Parenting (I didn’t know that was a real thing) for all these years, and I learn today that in addition to Slow Food and Parenting, you can have Slow Church, Slow Art, and all sorts of other Slow Things. It’s all about slowing down one’s pace to savor. It’s about relationships and community and not over-scheduling.  It’s about natural processes and having the time and space to let God work. You can’t rush God, and you don’t want to. It’s about loving well because you have the time and space to let things unfold.

Most of the beautiful things happening in my life come from slow things. The walk-to-school community, for example, has wasted thousands upon thousands of hours when we might have just dropped off children from our minivans. Instead, we’ve savored our friendships and our neighborhood because we took some time for a slow walk to gather up all the children. On that slow walk, we talk and talk. We laugh and observe.

We grow in ways that only slow can make happen.

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How Do I Stay Out of Trouble? (The Best Answer I’ve Found)

I’m still thinking about this one question that everyone asks online.

I think of you.

I haven’t met you or know anything about you, but I’m guessing that you asked this question because your heart wants to be good. You want to do the right thing and become the person you’re supposed to be. You want to stay in school, stay off drugs, stop drinking, stop breaking the law, and finally make some good choices. You want a great future! You want happiness and prosperity!

But you just keep getting into trouble. 

I was thinking about you last night and your question. It turns out that you aren’t the only one who has asked this question. Great and mighty kings asked this question, as did the ancient prophets. In Psalm 119 in the Bible (written most likely as early at 530 BC), the question is posed by a great man:

“How can a young person stay on the right path in life?”

The writer provides the best answer ever.

Here are verses 9-16:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? 
By living according to your Word.
I seek you with all my heart; 
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
I meditate on your precepts 
and consider your ways.
I delight in your decrees; 
I will not neglect your word. 
13 I


I read this Psalm and realize that the answer to your question is this:

1. Seek God with all your heart
2. Ask Him to help you keep his commands
3. Read and study God’s word (the Bible) so you know what those commands are

And guess what? The writer finds great joy and delight in living according to God’s rules. It’s better than wealth! In fact, by “only walking in God’s paths” (verse 3) and by carefully obeying God, you will  find true happiness (verse 35), your life purpose (verse 37), real freedom (verse 45), amazing comfort (verse 50), abundant blessings (verse 58), all the hope you need (verse 81), great wisdom (verse 100), refreshment for your soul (verse 156), and most importably, a deep love and connection to God (what you were made for).

I love how Psalm 119 ends in the New Living Translation:

I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me. . . 

So that’s your answer, and it’s the best one I know. I pray that if you have wandered, you will let yourself be found by God today.

Here’s the full text of Psalm 119 for you.

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A Picture of Strength

All I know is that where once there was concrete, now a plant grows up. I imagine the persistence and the gentle but unstoppable force of it all. I imagine the tiny seed that kept on doing what it was made to do, no matter what.

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“You hum it, and I’ll play it.”

Last night, my daughters’ favorite person in the world–their music teacher–gives them a little mug that talks about being the kind of musician where “you hum it, and I’ll play it.” It’s a funny little line that sticks with me all morning.

You hum it, and I’ll play it.

I imagine this dialogue:

You know that song I’m forgetting that goes something like this? I hum it.

“Yeah, I know that one. It goes like this,” she plays it perfectly on the piano.

So many times in my life, I’ve forgotten the music to a song in my heart. So many times in my life, I’ve had bits and pieces of something beautiful, and I’ve needed someone to play the whole tune for me, to give me the whole story, to translate the language of my heart into the truth about God and who I am.

I think of hearing the music of the gospel and someone telling me what the song is–the one I’ve known but forgotten or know a bit of but can’t put down in words. And mostly I think of God listening to whatever I’m going on and on about in life. I can ask Him to tell me what my own heart wants to sing.

When I hum it, God plays it. He knows just how it goes.

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He Will Follow You

This morning, the pastor explains that when the psalmist writes in Psalm 23 that “surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,” we might translate this more accurately as “your goodness and mercy will pursue me, will harass me, will eagerly chase me.”

The Hebrew words make me smile when I think about God appointing his mercy and goodness to chase me down. It’s so eager, in fact, that it’s like a kind of harassment: a harassment of goodness! I’d never thought of it like this before. The persistence of God to love me! The Hound of Heaven coming to bless!

I think of the whistling of God to find me to then harass me with goodness.

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