Justice and Mercy

We’re about to enter the season of practicing gratitude for what we have and those we love. It’s a time for considering others as more important than ourselves, remembering that it’s still more blessed to give than to receive. Shall we inaugurate this change of weather and thought with a little outward-focused contemplation? Our adventure with the Proverbs 31 woman (and recognizing that we are all her) continues with the concept of serving others. If you need a refresher on the basics, read this first.

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Creative Thinking

Fall is a beautiful time to dream big, try big, and even fail big. I just finished up a free online art class that included some ways to view the world creatively. The instructor suggested taking walks in nature, paying attention to the different kinds of light you’ll encounter: filtered through changing leaves, dappling the surface of water, turning golden as the sun sets, billowing soft in the mist. You should try it sometime—you’ll discover a whole new way of seeing.

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The Heart of the Woods

Once upon an autumn, there lived a forest. Though the trees were lovely to look at, their dislike for one another made their hearts ugly and filled the sky with a dreadful noise. (Of course, you couldn’t hear their bickering; when people walked through the forest, those trees held their breath and were the quietest trees in the world.)

A young sapling listened day after day as the forest spewed grumblings and gossip, wishing he could unite the trees. What would the sky sound like if the only noise he’d ever known were gone? Was anger the only voice they had?

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(Re)treat Yo Self

“When you work, Jesus rests. When you rest, Jesus works.”

Jack Frost

A clean house. Zero responsibilities. No drama. Remember the part in How the Grinch Stole Christmas where his “small heart grew three sizes that day?” That’s how I felt during my first ever personal retreat earlier this week. I’ll give you a rundown so that you can plan out your own staycation. (If you can’t do it in the next month, maybe soon after the chaos of the holidays has ebbed?) When we begin to see time for personal care as an investment rather than a waste, sabbath can move back into our schedules—and with it, the renewed energy, joy, and peace that result from doing life God’s way.

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Strength in Weakness

Liar, liar, pants on fire! (Some random line about a telephone wire…)

Kids chant about obvious falsehood, tiny truth radars built into their DNA. They can often spot a lack of genuine character a mile away. Sadly, though, we grow out of our ability to quickly spot lies around us, and nowhere is the resulting damage more significant than in our souls. There is a liar out to get us, prowling around seeking whom he may devour. Inattentive hearts are easy prey for him.

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When Jesus Messed Up

I was born with a desperate need for perfection. I hate having to admit I was wrong about anything; as I’m wrong fairly often, it’s a vicious way to live. The most constructive criticism or even the softest suggestion tears away at my ego, hinting that I should have known better, should have chosen better in the first place. I am merciless to myself and thus standoffish to other people, hunched like a wounded animal over my fragile sense of rightness.*

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