How to Sing Your Heart Back Home

Did you know you’re building a hymnal for your life?

It’s filled with lines from books, lyrics from songs, quotes from movies, and a unique assortment of other odds and ends you’ve picked up along the way. All such content filters through the grid of your mind and settles into the deepest places of your heart in a pattern as individual as the swirls on your finger.

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A Look Back

Call me nerdy, but I just love a good schedule. Give me some stickers, colored pens, and a blank calendar, and I’m a kid at Christmas. There is so much calm in the regular rhythm of planning—a chance to exert order and beauty and life over the chaos of time that doesn’t yet exist, an opportunity to mold the moments that make up whole seasons with purpose. Looking forward in anticipation is my jam.

Then there are the days that call for looking back. Because hindsight is 20/20, this practice provides perspective so I don’t rush from one experience to the next in an unending string of random events. When I sit down and quiet myself, God shows me what He’s been up to in the middle of, in the white space around, and in the interruptions to my beloved plans.

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Miss Judgy Pants

Confession: I struggle with an addiction to judgment.

On the giving end, I am plagued by opinions about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. While Southern manners and a fear of conflict keep roughly 98% of those opinions unspoken, they constantly light up my brain like a superhighway. Much of that mental activity is spent declaring myself either guilty or innocent. (You can guess how that goes in the mind of a perfectionist—the ‘Never Enough’ song from The Greatest Showman sums it up nicely.)

On the receiving end, my heart is marked by a desperation to see approval reflected in the faces around me. Have I impressed you? Disappointed you? At any given moment, am I smart/good/involved/________ enough? How worthwhile do you think I am? Due to the fear of actually finding out, I don’t ask; I assume the worst, turning every bystander into a frowning inspector.

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Interrupting Me

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

(C.S. Lewis)

One of the odd quirks about my personality is the cognitive distortion of all-or-nothing thinking. Because I thrive in a predictable environment, it tends to show up in special splendor when my routine gets knocked out of whack. “What? The power’s out? Looks like I’ll be spending some quality time on the couch with Pinterest.” “Uh-oh. A home project has taken over space in my brain. Cleaning the house at all will have to wait until the whole thing is finished.”

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Rose-Colored Glasses

The little one struggled to form the name of his diagnosis. He watched his mama say them one more time, those two immensely difficult words for a four-year-old mouth to wrap itself around: cystic fibrosis. Suddenly, his eyes lit up with dawning recognition. “Oh! Sixty-five roses!” As pride swelled in his tiny chest for conquering yet another obstacle in his daily adventure, he couldn’t have known he’d just coined a phrase.

Half a century later, you can still find #65roses accompanying posts about this life-altering disease.

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Good Theology for Bad Days

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on February 7, 2020. You can find it here.)

God, You’re so good.

God, You’re so good.

God, You’re so good,

You’re so good to me.

I choked the simple chorus out on Sunday morning despite a lump rising in my throat. Weeks of waiting for the results of a major medical test numbed my ability to belt out the lyrics with the same gusto as those around me. Instead, a pitiful, broken string of truth fell quietly from my mouth, each word a salty tear.

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New Year’s Gospel

With glasses raised and confetti scattered about like snow, we bid farewell to another year. As a fresh decade opens in the annals of history, let’s apply the good news of Christ to the last 365 days to gain some gospel perspective. The more we can commemorate God’s past faithfulness, the more we can anticipate His future work, so really dig in here. (This will be interactive, so feel free to grab a journal to record your thoughts.)

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Drop Your Weapons

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on September 28, 2019. You can find it here.)

Has God ever ambushed you? 

I recently attended a conference session about the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). The speaker did a wonderful job of applying this timeless story by discussing the rocks we all carry around in our pockets, just waiting for the opportune time to lob them at “that one person.” And we each knew who “that one person” was for us.

Except I didn’t.

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One-Trick-Pony People

(This post was originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on August 21, 2019. You can find it here.)

Martin Luther was a 16th century German cowboy with a one-trick pony called “Gospel.” Utterly obsessed with the subject, this firebrand monk once wrote that “the truth of the gospel is the principal article of all Christian doctrine . . . Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” If you went to dinner with this guy, you could depend on coming away with a greater sense of why Jesus matters.

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