Open and Begin

Sometimes, we just need to open a new document and begin. We’ve delayed long enough; it’s time.

Open the fresh white page!

You don’t have to have everything organized and clear. Begin, and see what comes out from the tips of your fingers on the keyboard or from your pen on the page.

You don’t need permission. You don’t have to wait till you feel smart enough or better somehow. Begin today, and see what happens.

A writer knows how to open the new document and begin. Every morning, open and begin.


On Our Behalf

I read these words by Hannah Whitall Smith in my devotional time this morning:

“Because [God] is thus with us, we may be also sure that all His wisdom and power are at our disposal and engaged on our behalf.”

For whatever situation we face, we have Jesus’ wisdom and power available to us.


New Formation

I watch a flock of geese fly over the Pennsylvania countryside. Rather than the tight and orderly formation I normally observe, I instead see a wobbly, tumbling assortment of birds.

It takes a long time till they eventually form that V-shape and fly efficiently into the distance.

I remember that for every thing I’m trying to organize— or any dream I wish takes flight—there’s that wobbling moment that looks like everything’s about to fall out of the sky.

But eventually, things fall into place.


Watch, Listen, Pray

As I watch the news, and I listen carefully, I realize that some days we might set apart to watch, listen, and pray.

I spend too much time talking and theorizing when I might watch, listen, and pray.


You Missed Everything Again

My friend reminds me of something I posted four years ago this very week. It’s my response to the most dreaded question students ask on email. I thought I’d repost it for you today. It’s originally called, “You Missed Everything.”

My least favorite emails from students include these kinds of sentences: “I wasn’t in class this morning. Let me know if I missed anything important.” Or this: “I’m going to miss class Monday. Will I miss anything important?”

Yes. Yes, you will miss everything important. What will you miss?  I’m so glad you asked.

You will miss that moment that will never come again, with people who will never gather in this same configuration again, with words spoken by us all that won’t leave our lips again in that same way.

You will miss a comment by a student that could have changed your mind; you will miss talking to the one girl about something that might just make her your new best friend; you will miss a lesson on writing that might have inspired a novel or memoir that the world needs. You will miss writing something in your notebook that you’ll keep for forty more years and read again when your own daughters take a writing class.

You will miss this.

And we will miss this.

We will miss your voice answering a question that unlocks something for someone else. We will miss the tilt of your head as you think about something and the way you tap your pencil like that. We will miss your insight. When you miss class, you miss you being you at that moment, in that place where verbs and semicolons dance in some spiritual place where students gather with coffee cups and bagels and notebooks and pens with a teacher whose entire life culminates in this moment when she holds the chalk and begins.

So yes, you missed something.

You missed everything.


To Suffer Long

This morning, I read in 1 Corinthians 13:4 about long-suffering love. When you read that “love is patient,” it actually translates long-suffering or patient endurance under offense or trial. It’s a form of patience with people who cause suffering in your life. It’s a kind of kindness and calmness in the midst of troubling people.

Can you imagine developing long-suffering as a character quality? I pray that God makes us into long-suffering people who love as God loves us in the midst of our offense to Him. I think of all the trouble I cause and will cause and how God’s love is patient. 


Till We Shine

I’ve been thinking more about how God treats us as His treasured possession (Deut. 14:12). To Him, we are a rare jewel in His hand (Isaiah 62:3).

Imagine how you treat your most precious, treasured possession, perhaps a gemstone. You protect it carefully; you position it in the best light; you refresh any parts of it that seem worn or fading. If we care for our earthly valuables in this way, consider how much more God will protect us, position us, and refresh us.

I normally think of God’s great care for me through Psalm 23. I like to note all the verbs of God like how He makes us lie down, how He leads us beside still waters, and how He restores our souls. That’s if I’m understanding a sheep and shepherd metaphor. But if I see myself as a rare jewel, a treasured possession, then the verbs change. In this case, I see God refining (Zechariah 13:9), purging (Isaiah 1:25), shining (Philippians 2:15). The verbs, unpleasant and purifying, must work to make us shine.

I think of the heat of refinement. I think of watching a cobbler shine the tough leather of shoes till they shine. I think of observing the protection and care of the rare jewels I’ve seen displayed in museums. It’s a harsh, stifling experience that’s necessary to reveal the stunning beauty God created in us.

Growing up in the Lord means we walk alongside the gentle Shepherd and the One who refines us.


First Day of Autumn Here

What a wonderful new season! I grab a sweater to warm me from the chill of a 60 degree afternoon. I keep the windows open and know we’ll sleep so well as the evening cools down to 50 degrees.

We talk our walk and crunch hundreds of acorns. On our street, we rake acorns into great piles like leaves. I remember that year I made bread from acorn flour. We won’t starve if something happens to our food supply; the acorns will feed us!

I attempt a new soup in my crockpot (mushroom, sweet potato, kale, cauliflower, and quinoa), and as it simmers, I crunch an apple that signifies a new harvest down at the fruit farm.

We put the garden to sleep and gather the last of the tomatoes. We leave the green peppers to continue their ripening. We water the mums we’ve planted. They’ll bloom this week.

Sweaters and slippers. Apples and soups. Acorns underfoot. It’s autumn in Pennsylvania!


What God is Really Like

In my Bible, written in tiny print under Psalm 103, I read this commentary: “What God does for us tells us what he is really like.”

What is He really like?

What does He do for us?

I find I’m so happy to read once again the action of God on our behalf. God is really a God who forgives all your sins (not some of them), who heals you (if not now, in eternity), who redeems your life and covers you with love and compassion, and who “satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

He satisfies our desires with good things! Good things!

What a beautiful psalm to remind us what God is really like. His love is so great, His forgiveness so vast, and His goodness so perfectly matched to our desires.