Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Switch your bookmarks!

Beauty from the Heart will soon be moving to a snazzy new address.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Uncompromising: An Excerpt

Hey ya'll.

Moody Publishers has graciously allowed me to post an excerpt from my book, Uncompromising here on the blog.

Click here to download the first 22 pages

or purchase a copy at any of these retailers:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

While I sit here sopping wet

On this trip to the water I have been stalked by a sense of--what is it? Longing does not fit. Call it an intense stirring; a desire to be swallowed. Feet half sunken in sand, foam gathers at my ankles. Wave after wave collapses on the shore, as if grasping but never reaching, the heart of land.

As I watch this pattern of life that does not need me in order for it to persist, I ache for it to swallow me. To become one with the ocean. But I submerge myself in the water, patted back and forth by the waves as a ball of string with a kitten; never “one.”

The term “one” has been stolen by yogis, hippies and John Lennon. I understand it in a broader sense. I want the endlessness this ocean represents to belong to me--for “forever” to be carried in a locket near my heart. That’s not meant to sound cheesy. I don’t know how to say it.

Reading an essay on an academic’s conversion to Christianity, I am distracted from the meaning by the form. Words glisten on the page with far more power, potency and richness than gems. I want to own them. Don’t I already? I know these words well. Yet we are not at peace.

She spews words like “grace” and “catechism” much as the ocean does. The salient words canvass my mind in a rushing gale. What do they do to me? What do I want here?

I am reduced to scraping, trying to understand. I am enlarged by this fear, which feels a lot like awakening; a lot like a baptism.

The dimensions grow thin. At the water, I feel the earth eroding under waves. The sands are shifting. My own balance is quaking. I wade in.

I feel like a turtle in one of the eggs buried nearby. A whole world of new molecules and colors and light awaits. One peck could crack open this shell. One web-thin membrane stands between me and a different sort of birth. Everything is ready.

A long stream of seaweed clamps around my forearm. The tide pulls. I am pushed over. Caught, but not swallowed. Yet.

The Shell Collector

On the inauthenticity, fear, and pride that gets in the way of loving people...

I collect shells. While most people keep their shell collections in glass jars, I carry mine with me every day. My shells go by different names. They're the various shields I use to hide behind: "Humor," "Smiling," "Independence." Those seem to be the ones I use most, but lately I've grown sick of them.

Why? They get in the way of truly knowing people and being known. Don't get me wrong; humor, smiling, and independence are all parts of who I am. But too often I fall back on them because they're the safe parts. They're parts that don't require me telling the truth about the other stuff, like pain, discouragement, frustration, fear, and shame. My shells make me safe.

But they don't make me free.

Read the rest.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interview with Paula Hendricks, staff blogger for the True Woman Movement!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Glorying in the Unseen

I don't feel much like a soul right now.

Let me explain:

I eat. I sleep. I write papers.

And I've noticed in all of this, I have begun to lose real contact with the people in my life. Sure, we talk all the time, but our conversations have gotten surface-level. We talk about eating, sleeping, and papers.

Ever been there?

Attempting to dig out of this rut, this morning a friend and I sat down to share a Bible study together. We read 2 Corinthians 4 where it says "the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." Also noted is that rough experiences here on earth are only a "momentary affliction" which is preparing us "an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."

I don't necessarily consider papers, or busyness in general a "momentary affliction." But the weight of the world can indeed press upon our souls, making us forget that we have them; we can easily forget the eternal weight of glory in the midst of running to the store, meeting with so-and-so, and getting assignments in on time.

C.S. Lewis talked on this in his sermon, "The Weight of Glory." He said, "You and I have need of the strongest spell that can be found to wake us from the evil enchantment of worldliness."

Worldliness isn't flashing neon lights, gambling in Las Vegas and living like you're Bruce Wayne. At least, that's not the kind of worldliness that tends to capture me. It's the sneakier stuff--the good and perfectly justified stuff--like school, chores, and the simple "what'sgoingon" that tends to snag most.

In days such as these, I find the 2 Corinthians reminder a source of awakening: "...the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." May we be given eyes that look to the unseen.


So, I feel like a horrible person. I just now found a stash of unread, unresponded-to emails in our address. If you sent one of these, please accept my humblest apologies.

While Lindsey and I can't reply every single email we receive, we do our best. If you sent us an email (especially of a time-sensitive nature), please expect a response from me soon!


Monday, May 02, 2011

C.S. Lewis on Friendship

“I have no duty to be anyone's Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine. No claims, no shadow of necessity. Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.

"The common quest or vision which unites Friends does not absorb them in such a way that they remain ignorant or oblivious of one another. On the contrary it is the very medium in which their mutual love and knowledge exist...Every step of the common journey tests his metal; and the tests are tests we fully understand because we are undergoing them ourselves.

Hence, as he rings true time after time, our reliance, our respect and our admiration blossom into an Appreciative love of a singularly robust and well-informed kind. If, at the outset, we had attended more to him and less to the thing our Friendship is 'about,' we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.

In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest.

"Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze...when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk..."

-C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 71-72

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Surprised by Pain

I don’t like pain. No one does. We try to make it easier with platitudes.

“Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

“You’ll understand the reason on the other side.”

And a Princess Bride quote for good measure: “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

All those statements might be true to varying degrees. But they don’t answer the “why” behind circumstances. They all try. But they don’t make surgeries, torn muscles, death, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns and broken hearts easier to understand.

It’s the problem of pain we’re dealing with here. It’s messy. It’s age-old.

And it’s incredibly important: When a friend is sobbing I want good theology to inform what I say to encourage her. I don’t want to just give platitudes. I want to love with affection that is comforting and true. When I’m fighting despair or depression, I want to know that I know that I know that God is worthy of my trust.

So for me, I focus on this question a lot. Why does God allow suffering? Where does His sovereignty mix with His love? When a friend’s car is totalled, or when my day absolutely feels like one of the circles of Hell, my first question is: why?

And although God has spoken much to us on suffering in His Word (Abraham, Joseph, Job, Paul, the Psalms...), and He does give us a place to stand in regards to pain, I do think I sometimes ask the wrong question.

Instead of asking “why pain?” it may be more just for me to ask “”

Because...if you think about it, pain does make sense. Ever since paradise was lost, we’ve lived in a ghosttown; every human in their raw, natural state is a vapor waiting to fade. We wade through a sinful world without Edens, often busy and bustling to avoid the reality that we are daily nearing death. Sin is here. Death is here.

In one of my favorite poems, Eve ponders her life post-Eden. She says, “With shadow, my cup overflows.”

So true. We live in a world of shades. And we brought the shadow on ourselves.

The pain makes sense.

It’s the beauty that doesn’t. It’s the grace that stands in contrast. Why do butterflies even flit into concentration camps? Why are there oases in deserts?

Even more than temporary common graces--the question runs deeper. Why does God give us joy? We’ve earned this sinful state. Why does He offer redemption at so high a cost to Himself?

Pain has always been part of the package. It’s the healing, the happy days, the ecstasy of hope--those are the mind-bogglers.

Why does God choose to stagger me with joy? That could be a better question.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

God in the Doorway

Two very different quotes ringing in my head these days:

"That day, a day of the following summer, Miss White and I knelt in her yard while she showed me a magnifying glass. It was a large, strong hand lens. She lifted my hand and, holding it very still, focused a dab of sunshine on my palm. The glowing crescent wobbled, spread, and finally contracted to a point. It burned; I was burned; I ripped my hand away and ran home crying. Miss White called after me, sorry, explaining, but I didn’t look back.

Even now I wonder: if I meet God, will he take and hold my bare hand in his, and focus his eye on my palm, and kindle that spot and let me burn?

But no. It is I who misunderstood everything and let everybody down. Miss White, God, I am sorry I ran from you. I am still running, running from that knowledge, that eye, that love from which there is no refuge. For you meant only love, and love, and I felt only fear, and pain. So once in Israel love came to us incarnate, stood in the doorway between two worlds, and we were all afraid." -Annie Dillard, from her essay, "God in the Doorway"

"I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul."-Jeremiah 32:40-41 (God speaking about the New Covenant that would be made with His people)