Whoever has skin, let them touch.
Whoever has mouths, let them taste.
Whoever has eyes, let them see.
Whoever has nostrils, let them smell.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.

Whoever has skin, let them be touched.
Whoever has mouths, let them speak.
Whoever has eyes, let them be seen.
Whoever has nostrils, let them be savored.
Whoever has ears, let them be heard.

Five Senses: in the cactus room

Touch: There’s cool air coming in from the vent above me. I feel it on my skin. It makes me long for spring to finally get here and stay here. We’ve had really dark and gloomy days these past couple weeks, and it makes it so we can’t send the kids outside to play on the playground. It makes our days off harder too because then we’re stuck inside with not much to do. I look forward to feeling the sun on my skin and the cool breeze of the spring air. My favorite kind of weather is a day with lots of warm sunlight, but with a cool steady breeze.

Taste: I’m drinking coffee right now, and it actually tastes pretty good overall. Usually the morning coffee from the coffee maker isn’t very good. But I think it’s very much influenced by what I ate for breakfast and how tired I am. I had some cinnamon toast crunch this morning, which is pretty much the unanimous favorite cereal of the girls, and I think the cinnamon taste left my mouth prepped and ready to go for whatever kind of garbage coffee I might put into my body.

See: Right now I am sitting in the room that has the most light. It has the most life. It is the most welcoming room in our home. In front of three large windows we have a ledge with all sorts of succulents and cacti. I love this room. It brings me peace.

While I say that though I read and saw a video of some horrible atrocities in Syria with people being gassed and killed by their own government. Again. It’s just the worst thing. And I just don’t know how to process it. My brain and heart are too full to know how to even address it. That’s not even to mention trying to figure out how I categorize events like these theologically.

I know that people I respect also struggle to know what to do with events like this too:

Smell: Although I don’t smell anything specific right now, I am reminded that I can take a moment to breathe in a long, slow breath. To stop and reflect. I am sitting in the middle of the United States of America. I’m safe. How greatly has that shaped my perceptions about God, the Bible, and my faith? What would my faith look right now if I were in Syria?

Hear: The house is quiet. Micah is at school. Ezra is in the back with Sarah. I am sitting alone and I am enjoying this time. I hear trucks pass out the window from time to time, but otherwise it is very quiet.

Emotion: Right now I am feeling tender. I am not particularly happy, nor am I particularly sad. I’m sensitive. News stories about Trump, North Korea, Syria, etc. easily sway my mood and my heart right now.

After thinking for a while and looking at resources on suffering and things, I saw this great video about the book of Job.

Kill the Flame

This song by Leonard Cohen has been haunting me for a few months now: 


If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord
There’s a lover in the story
But the story’s still the same
There’s a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame
They’re lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame
If you are the dealer, let me out of the game
If you are the healer, I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory, mine must be the shame
You want it darker
Hineni, hineni
Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord
Hineni, hineni




Here’s the YouTube link if that works better for you:


Presenting Ourselves Before God

The Lord hears the cry of the poor. When the armistice with self-hatred is signed and we embrace what we really are, the process of liberation begins. But so often we we are afraid to do so because of the fear of rejection. Like Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame who thought he was hideous, we daub cosmetics and spiritual makeup on our misery and supposed to ugliness to make ourselves appear presentable to God. This is not our true self. Authentic prayer calls us to rigorous honesty, to come out of hiding, to quit trying to seem impressive, to acknowledge our total dependence on God and the reality of our sinful situation. It is a moment of truth when defenses fall and the masks drop in an instinctive act of humility.

-Brennan Manning

Giving Space for Shalom

I believe one of our deepest longings is for peace and rest – for shalom. There’s a lot wrapped up in that – connection, belonging, safety, complete transparency, trust, compassion, and freedom.

One of my many lofty goals when I’m at my best is to help give space for people to experience moments of shalom. I think we constantly battle as human beings accepting who we are, believing we can do better, yet knowing that we are generally doing the best we can at any given moment. This leads to feelings of inadequacy, shame, and anxiety, and therefore unrest within the deepest parts of ourself.

Part of the irony of trying to experience shalom in our lives is that we are constantly struggling, hustling, and trying to earn shalom in our lives. But that’s not how we encounter shalom.

We all long for shalom, but we tend to look for it in the wrong places.

Grace and shalom are found in God. They are embodied in Jesus. They are swirling through this this world as the Spirit of God. They are found in the fingerprint’s of our God on his creation. For some reason we tend to think we have to pursue shalom, when really we only have to receive it. Similar to grace, we often make the hard moments of life harder on ourselves by thinking we need to earn shalom through hard work, or by being doing enough “good” things.

I believe that one of the greatest privileges that we have as image-bearers of God is that we are deemed ambassadors of his kingdom. We get to reflect and bring God’s infinite love, grace, and shalom to others. We are most likely to experience shalom as we we give space for others to experience it.

When we bring shalom into the chaos of this world and into the lives of one another, we are living into our unique role in this world as human beings. No other species has the ability to overcome the way of nature with the way of grace like we do.

In my experience, shalom breaks into our lives when we give space for others to experience peace and rest by being welcoming, honest, compassionate, empathetic, and good listeners. When we pay attention to the lives of those around us — their emotions, their words, the emotions behind their words, their composure, their schedules — in the midst of our violent, narcissistic, and consumer-driven world, we give them the space to recognize they are loved. I believe as we love others as God loves us – with a love that seeks us out and tells us we are valuable and worthy – we are participants with the Holy Spirit in God’s relentless pursuit of his furious love for all people.

This is what we are invited into. We get to tell, through our words, our actions, and our attention, the good news of God’s love to others, letting others experience the freedom and rest that is found in the shalom of the Kingdom of God.


Seeing God

I took a step outside this morning to take my son Micah to the bus and took in a nice long breath of the cool November air. Instantly, I felt God’s surrounding peace and presence in my lungs and body. It was the simple nourishment I needed in that moment.

The last few days I’ve been trying to go over the beatitudes every morning in my mind. I do this to remind myself of what the Kingdom of God looks and feels like. For me to be able to recognize the overlap moments I need to be thoroughly familiar with what the Kingdom of God’s tells are in this world.

I have been particularly focused on the beatitude

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

I have been trying to pay better attention to the conversations, situations, and predicaments I have found myself in recently and trying to see where God might be at work. But I believe for me to truly understand and see God working, my heart has to be filtered of its impurities. They get in the way of letting me see the fuller picture of what may be going on. Of course God’s grace is constantly at work in and through and around me, but when I stop to pay attention after intentionally assessing my heart the veil often gets pulled back a bit and I can see God at work.

There is depth in every moment.



What is the overlap?

I keep thinking of various ways to describe the complexity of our existence. The fact that we are born into a world of struggle, sin, and shame but created for a world of connection, love, and grace. The kingdom of man, and the kingdom of God. The way of nature, and the way of grace.

Some in the circles I have been a part of have described our present reality with our future hope as “the already and the not yet.” But I haven’t found that concept to really describe the reality that I encounter.

I think to talk about the reality of God’s kingdom and/or presence of God as the “already, not yet” takes away from the mystery and paradox of the reality of our existence — that we have been born into a world of darkness, yet created for a world of light.

God’s presence in his creation was here before we were even around. Even before the earth had been fully formed, God’s Spirit hovered over the waters of the earth. We became participants with God in his creation as soon as Ruach Elohim entered in through the nostrils of Adam. Then, two thousand years ago, the New Adam came and participated as one of us, born as his own creation.

It’s not even that we are between two kingdoms. The kingdom of God has already fully broken in. The kingdom is here. The complexity isn’t that we live in between two kingdoms, it’s that we live in two kingdoms. We’re invited to recognize this, live in it’s confusing yet peace-giving reality, and then bring that peace to others.

The creation we see in Genesis 1 is called good. When man and woman are created, they are called very good. Yet that is not the world that I was born into. But it is the world that I was created for. Creation is God’s temple. It is where He calls us, inviting us to come be with him. To find rest, in Him.

There is boundless wisdom in the Lord’s prayer, but Jesus tells us to pray for “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

There are moments when this prayer is answered. The moments when we can fully see and participate in both worlds simultaneously.

I call it the overlap. The moments where what we were created for overlaps with our present reality. Moments where we find cracks in the world of greed, violence, and depravity so that the light is able to shine through.

The overlap is when we recognize the breaking in of the kingdom of heaven into our present existence. It is when we recognize our meaning and purpose as humans. We are image bearers of God, little representatives of creation’s Maker, told to bring order to the chaos around us. To overcome evil with good. To live peaceably with one another. To tend to the earth and participate with the master sower. To populate the earth and participate with the master sewer, who stitches together every unique individual made in His image. To have faith in the midst of polarized certainty and unresolved ambivalence.

The moments where we empty ourselves of our self-serving desires.
The moments where we look to the world around us with compassion and mourning.
The moments where we recognize our purpose and worth, and live in that freedom.
The moments where our hunger and thirst to do right overcomes our own appetites.
The moments where our instinct is that of forgiveness rather than vengeance.
The moments where we pay attention to the Spirit’s grand symphony that surrounds us.
The moments where bring peace and rest to those living in chaos and unrest.
The moments where we do not fear those who can merely destroy the body, but of only the one who can destroy both body and soul.

These are moments of the overlap – where we live as we are intended to, ambassadors recognizing God’s kingdom in this world. Moments where we realize that the Spirit of God has called us to participate with him in the way of grace even in the midst of the the way of nature.

To experience the presence of God, all we have to do is breath. Ruach Elohim fills his creation with his presence and peace, so that no matter where we go in this world we can take a deep breath, and there be in his kingdom and his presence in us.