As I write this, I’m in Michigan, more than 600 miles from home. I love Michigan for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of the people who’ve remained my friends even though I haven’t lived in this place in more than 5 years. Getting together with them now is always sweet, and always fun, and always does good things for my heart. This month’s visit was extra special because my goddaughter was baptized, and when she came up out of the water her parents laid her in a towel in my arms, and I got to pronounce a blessing over her that she be someone who hears God throughout her life. And I committed myself to this person, just two months old, and to helping her grow up in the church and in God. And I committed to helping her parents parent well.
This visit, this month, this weekend, I have felt the weight of all of that. This weekend is working its way into the deepest places of my heart, and I think maybe it’s helping me grow up too.
The Prayer of Owen Meaning – per the recommendation of my friend Leigh, whose been telling me I need to read this novel for two years. It’s an awesome story of friendship and growth and faith, and I can’t say enough good things about it. It’s long at over 600 pages, so it’s a commitment, but it’s one worth making:
“It’s a no-win argument – that business of what we’re born with and what our environment does to us. And it’s a boring argument, because it simples the mysteries that attend both our birth and our growth.”
My buddy Alise wrote a great piece at the start of the month about friendship (Why I Don’t Want Diverse Friends) and then capped off her month by speaking at a conference about friendship. That she talks about friendship as much she does, and that she’s intentional about her friendships and why she’s making friends is exactly probably why we’re friends:
“But I want to be open to friends. Just…friends. The kind of friends who gets excited about the new season of Arrested Development. The kind of friends who can argue about feminism with me and then go for coffee. The kind of friends who stay up late at night quoting movie lines and sharing a bottle of wine. The kind of friends who know what pictures on Facebook will crack me up and is sure to tag me in them. The kind of friends who see what I’m not saying and don’t let me get away with that.
And if they’re gay or atheist or male, then that’s fine…”
Shauna Niequist, who I talk about so much it probably seems like she’s my friend and not simply an author whom I love, wrote about life around the table on Donald Miller’s Storyline blog this month. I’ve talked before about how I’m not much of a cook, but Shauna’s got me thinking about becoming one because…people and community and caretaking and Jesus:
“These are things I can’t change. Not one of them. Can’t fix, can’t heal, can’t put the broken pieces back together. But what I can do is offer myself, wholehearted and present, to walk with the people I love through the fear and the mess. That’s all any of us can do. That’s what we’re here for, the presence, the listening, the praying with and for on the days when it all falls apart, when life shatters in our hands.
The table is where we store up for those days, where we log minutes and hours building something durable and strong that gets tested in those terrible split seconds. And the table is where we return to stitch our hearts back together after the breaking.”
“Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I drifted off the Romans Road and stumbled onto a bigger, wilder Gospel in which salvation is less about individual ‘sin management’ and more about God’s relentless work restoring, redeeming, and remaking the whole world.”
“At the Chris Tomlin concert it’s late and I’m tired, and this is not the kind of concert I go to. But he starts singing an old hymn, and I’m singing too, and I feel it all the way through.
I am one of the broken and beloved, and I have been all this time looking for an anthem. And the one we are singing is grace.”
Jen Hatmaker wrote about knowing when to walk away – from relationships, churches, careers, friendships, expectations, roles, tasks, organizations, whatever. She offers that we need to trust ourselves, pay attention to the red flags, and recognize there is bravery in walking away:
“Locked in a toxic relationship or career or ambition or community, the levels of unhealth and spiritual pollution can murder everything tender and Christlike in us, and a watching world is not always privy to those private kill shots. It can destroy our hope, optimism, gentleness. We can lose our heart and lose our way. And here is the key: we can pour an endless amount of energy into the chasm, and it will never matter.”
Sarah Bessey wrote a piece on the “theology of staying,” and this woman is speaking my language! I swear, I have said these same things to my closest friends over the last two years, and have even written my own blogs about why I made the choice to say. Sarah, however, says it better than I ever could:
I used to live the Gospel beautifully in my own head; I thought about it all the time. But the radical act of staying put, the theology of place, the making of my own home, is teaching me–the over-thinker–that thinking isn’t quite the same thing as doing. My intentions and beliefs and pontificating about community matters not one iota if I am not engaged in living out the reality of it.
Castle, Psych, and the Mindy Project.
My friend Beth and I went and saw 42, the movie about Jackie Robinson, because I love baseball and Beth loves me. And it was so much better than I expected! Harrison Ford does a rockin’ job as the curmudgeon owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and he proves to be as likeable as he’s ever been. Also, the team dynamic among the Dodgers as Robinson joins the team is really interesting to see play out. I have new found affections for Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese.
I’m officially obsessed with The Weepies. How have I not heard of them until now?!
A good friend texted me lyrics to this Matt Redman song this week. Because I know my friend and I know that when she heard this song and thought of me that she also prayed for me, this song is my new favorite.