- Hi, blog readers. Sorry. Again.

- Things I have been up to: Reading (but that’s a given by now, I hope), writing some stuff here and there that is not yet fit for public consumption, thinking about writing stuff but not actually doing it because my brain hurts (more on that later), watching the news (which, in the past few weeks, has been both a terrible and a great idea–more on that later, too), planning a party, watching way too many YouTube videos, and, well, recovering from pneumonia.

- Yeah, pneumonia…I was wicked sick for a couple of weeks (!) and was dealing with things like 104* fevers and not being able to take deep breaths and coughing up green things. Oh, and weird medicinal side effects, too.

- It’s very interesting, though, because my being forced to slow down and not do a whole lot except read the news and watch YouTube and movies means, well, God finally got hold of my attention and pointed out all the ways that I’d become really self-centered and self-righteous and, as a result, I became really awful at loving Him and other people well. This is not a particularly fun revelation to receive, but it was very, very good at the same time, because with it came the recognition that I am also really terrible at receiving grace, both in forgiveness and in the help that God gives us in fighting our self-centeredness and self-righteousness. And then, the understanding that it’s okay to receive grace–more than that, God really, really wants me to, because in doing so I am receiving Him, which is why He’s been after me from eternity past in the first place. Which is all to say, I want to please God, not just because I love Him, but because He has loved me to the uttermost and wants to help me to please Him.

- ^ That was utterly rambly and repetitive. Did I mention the part about my brain hurting? My body is not exactly efficient at oxygen absorption and usage (freaking lungs not working properly…), so I mostly just have the ramble lately. But you get what I mean, right? I hope so.

- Okay, so the news: If nothing else, the past few weeks have gotten us talking about mental health, power (and the abuse thereof), race and privilege, and persecution of the Middle Eastern church. We still have so far to go, so much to talk about, so much reconciliation and forgiveness and trust to be had. We cannot love one another if we don’t at least try to understand each other, and even if we come out disagreeing, we can at least hear each other’s stories and experiences and try to know one another as people, not ideas. As my brother–my Christian brother, my fellow adopted one of the Father’s children, which makes him my kindred in ways that are deeper than race and gender and even denominational lines–as my brother put it in an interview on NPR, all of this “is a human issue.” We have to care for and shepherd one another through all these things.

- Whew, that was a lot.

- And if nothing else, the last few weeks have taught me that we are frail. We are weak. And it is in our weakness that God proves His strength; it is when we are in crisis that, somehow, by grace, we learn how badly and how deeply we need Him. And it is in our desperation that we realize how much He meets that need–not just with His blessing, but with Himself, and that is what we need most. My church, or at least pockets in my church (who knows, it may be more than I know about) have been talking about revival, and asking God for it to happen, and recognizing it when it does happen. Very frequently, revival is birthed of crisis, sometimes pain, but always in a people who cry out to God for help. May it happen in our day, and in our hearts. (And by the way, I would commend to you Tim Keller’s speaking on revival: here, here, and here, and probably some other places too, if you Google “Tim Keller revival,” which sounds like the name of a terrible band.)

- My church is having its 10th anniversary in September. We’re throwing a party. I’m more or less in charge of planning it and I have a lot of help, for which I am extremely grateful. Anyway, it’s going to be fun.

- I think I have a mild sinus infection or really serious allergies. Either way, the right side of my face hurts.

- I’ve been in the doldrums the past few weeks in regards to pretty much every area of my life and I have no idea how to get out except just to wait it out and keep going and hope my emotions and motivation catch up with the truth.

- YouTube channels I subscribe to and recommend highly if you’re into learning about stuff: Crash Course (10ish-minute-long videos on stuff you learned about in high school and probably forgot, run by John and Hank Green [yes, the John Green who wrote The Fault in Our Stars]), Sorted Food (British guys show you recipes, plus occasional silliness), SciShow (short videos about science), and How to Adult (two folks teach you about things like how to do your taxes or laundry or interview for a job–not that I really need to learn this, since I am a legit adult and all, but if you know a person about to go to or graduate from college, or who really, really needs to get their life together, send them here).

- I need to get back into writing, using the Getting Things Done system, finishing books (I’m one or two chapters in to about 9 things right now…), and not spending most of my time watching YouTube videos.

- I know this is not the greatest post ever, but part of getting back into writing is just sitting down and putting some words on a screen, even if they’re not particularly interesting. So thanks for putting up with this, all.

(I need someone to write the music for this)

And all of us are miracles of modern art and science
We rescued what our fathers made and killed it for our children
And in a growing universe what god could come and find us
No home except the thoughts we made and all we build within them

The winds of change blew down our shelters of straw
The ocean floor is littered with our lost innocence and awe

But in the end, my lonely friends
The world will die and rise again
And we will be like forest trees
Who clap their hands for joy

And all of us were orphans in the streets of ancient cities
The exiles of a kingdom that was meant to last forever
We try to find a home by being strong or being witty
Or beautiful, or standing up against the culture’s weather

The kings of earth went passing by our ragged weary eyes
The poor and wretched wait to watch the city’s soon demise

And in the end, my lovely friends
What once was lost will live again
The sun will rise before our eyes
And raise its hands for joy

For forty days You wove in and out
Of the fabric of time and space
The needle restitching the world

What fun You must have had, what
Joy You must have taken in surprising
Your people with the fact of Your life

And You keep doing it again and again
You show up out of nowhere when
I least expect, and I am continually

Astonished by the fact of You

I have waited once
For the coming quickening light
I can wait again

It’s not Sabbath yet
(although the sun is swiftly setting today)
so I am making the bread
and sweeping the floor
and washing the windows
and trying to get dinner together
even though I am not hungry today
none of us are hungry today

I am doing the thing he told me
not to do: but today I want
to do everything I can
to ignore the news that came down
the road from the city
because otherwise everything will unravel
like the tears in our garments

So I keep brushing past the blood
on the doorposts
I keep not looking up at the darkening sky
because as long as I keep moving I can still believe

All the women came back to our house,

So it’s just us. And our brother, laying low after

A month of miracles, and a few hangers-on:

All of us healed in some way, recipients of

Some gift. And we are chopping up the herbs,

Baking the bread. The men came back from the

Temple with the lamb and poured its blood on our house,

And now we eat.

 

But the twelve? And the Lord? In Jerusalem, and all I want–

Though I am grateful for this company, this family stitched together

Around my tired heart to keep it warm–all I want

Is to run into town and fall at His feet again, still scented

With last week’s perfume, and listen.

I fear that tonight, after a month of miracles,

The miracles may end for good.

 

Tonight in Bethany my ears still ring
With loud shouts and the rustle of the palms;
Old men, young women, little kids would sing
Their loud hosannas like a victory psalm
To welcome in their conquering King and Lord,
The Victor over pagan rule–and then
You turned on them–You flipped the merchant’s boards
And moneychangers’ tables, and then when
The dust had settled, You cried out: “This place
Should be for prayer, you robbers!” Oh my Lord,
You set Yourself outside the priests’ good grace
Far more than prudence, wisdom would afford.
My Master, I gave up my life to go
With You–but will it bring us grief and woe?

1. Hi, gang. It’s been too long. I’m gonna try to do this more often. (How often have I said that? Oh well, we’ll try it again.)

2. I think it may be because of my weird melancholy bent, but Advent and Lent are two of my favorite church year seasons (Holy Week and Eastertide are my actual favorites, for what I hope are obvious reasons). There is something about confessing that we are weak, and that we are sinful, and that we need God’s mercy, that is also surprisingly freeing and joyful. I’m praying that God does necessary things in my heart, and in others’ hearts, this year.

3. This is kind of a weird feeling for me, but lately I have just not wanted to read. Maybe my brain is tired of downloading information, or I have too many options, or something. I don’t know. But my read count is surprisingly low so far this year. It may also be that I’ve been attempting to juggle four or five books, and they’re all really long. (Speaking of, current reads: The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly On Prayer by C.S. Lewis, and Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, because I’m having a weird nostalgic streak. I started Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather, but had to put it on hold because of all this other stuff.)

4. The post title comes from a song I’ve been humming a lot this Lent, “I’m Coming Back” from Sojourn Music: “But my gold has turned to dust, and all my idols rusted over/I’ve gained the whole world and lost my soul.” Sojourn’s the music department for a church in Louisville and they consistently turn out good stuff, so I highly recommend them.

Some days, everything’s cool; we are content
And health and life are well inside our grip;
But other days your light has all been spent
And darkness intervenes, your heart to strip
Of all its dressings, all its healing balms;
It lays you bare and naked to the bone
And desperate, and devoid of what could calm
Your burning heart, your desperation-groans.
Some wounds are slow to heal, infection-bound–
And some, though now scarred over, still are sore;
What healer could there be to come around
And reach into your still-too-tender core?
What drug, what surgery could ever cure
Your broken heart, the sorrow you endure?

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