Category Archives: Article

The Doors of Our Minds

Mark and I read recently in Divine Providence about how the door to heaven opens and closes in our minds, and if the door is closed to heaven, you just can’t see what is true. I find this a very helpful way of thinking. I like to envision doors opening, and also closing, below me, into hell. If I can shut my eyes and decisively shut the door under me, it quiets the vindictive, revengeful voices telling me what a bad card I was dealt or how hopeless it all is or whatever thought is plaguing or paralyzing me. 

We all have our blind spots, our closed doors. For me, my 50s have been great for opening doors I didn’t know existed.  Consciously deciding to be curious has helped. Wanting to be an angel someday has helped. Watching what happens when large swaths of people believe their causes are right, impenetrable, and that other voices should be squashed, has also helped. 

In a related way, I have recently felt doors opening while listening to podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to get out of our echo chambers (groups of people who think exactly the way we do). You get to hear real people talking in a public yet frank way to people whom they trust about the issues that matter to them. Curiosity has led me to many thoughtful conversations that have subtly changed my perspective. One of these is the “Family Life Today” podcast, which is produced by a delightfully frank, open, die-hard Christian couple who are not afraid to discuss the topics where most people in their tribe daren’t tread. Doubting God. Blended families. Teenagers leaving the path. Introverts: does everyone have to be an evangelist? Perimenopause! One of my favorites. They interview authors frequently, and it was Sherri Lynn who wrote a book entitled “I want to punch you in the face but I love Jesus: the Ultimate PMS Companion.”  She was a riot! 

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Sin and Judgment (Cue the Scary Organ Music!)

Sin!  Judgment! All right, buckle up, here comes gloom and doom.  Get ready to feel like a worm.  Get ready for judgment and catastrophe and indignation.  Right?  Isn’t that how we instinctively react to the whole concept of sin?

I learned a very helpful perspective about sin from reading a little book called The Forgiveness of Sin by Rev. Chauncey Giles, a New Church minister in the late 1800s to early 1900s and a favorite author of mine.  I know, it sounds dry as dust, but it turned out to be pretty awesome.

People often feel like the Lord made up a bunch of arbitrary rules about what would be good and what would be bad.  So it seems like the Lord says something is bad or good because He feels like it and He gets to make the rules.

In reality, it’s not arbitrary at all.  Sin means spiritual disease.  There are lots of types of sins, and they are described in the Word with the names of natural diseases because those diseases are the physical symbol of those spiritual ailments.  So to say that something is a sin is simply to state that it does harm of one sort or another to our spirits.  The Lord’s statements about right and wrong are the equivalent to statements of scientific or medical law.  In fact, scientific and medical law function the way they do because their functioning is modeled on the functioning of spiritual law.  Physical and spiritual illnesses are two levels of the same things that function in the same way on different planes.  

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Surely the Lord is in This Place

I’ve thought a lot about the progression of life.  The Lord created us beautifully with such incredible stages and phases from infancy to old age and everything in between.  I am in the in-between.  I have young kids – but not babies.  I have older kids, but not yet in high school.  I am in a phase of overall normal health and strength.  I am strong enough to care for my home, and can reliably walk, carry things, pick up children – even as I watch my kids still learning about their bodies and how to play games and care for themselves, and also watch my older relatives and friends work on slowing down.  I am in an in-between phase.

And often I don’t feel well equipped to navigate the daily challenges of the in-between with grace.  I look at kids and long for my own early childhood when I had few responsibilities and all the time in the world to lie in bed and read a book.  I talk with people my parents’ age and I am amazed at the skill and the warmth and the practice that they bring as they face life’s ups and downs and I long for that knowledge and understanding.

I can get stuck feeling like this in-between is too hard. Everyday I pray quick prayers for patience and warmth and love throughout the day’s challenges.  I often read small parts of reflections, or sermons, or Bible verses. I go to church most weeks and get through each talk with at least a part of my brain listening as I support 4 wriggly kids.  But as I navigate this busy and chaotic time I so rarely have the space to focus deeply on turning to the Lord.  I almost never get to read a whole Bible chapter or listen to a full sermon.  And this can feel unfair to me – as though I NEED that time in order to follow the Lord. How does this phase fit in the system – what is this crazy in-between time of life? I can get trapped in feeling like the demands of having young kids but also not the full knowledge that another decade will bring me is somehow my fault.  

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Ocean Thoughts

Until I thought of myself as the sea

I used to separate good days from bad until 
I thought of myself as an ocean. I used to 
split times I felt strong from when I felt weak 
until I imagined myself as the sea. Calm and 
rocky, wild and soft, still and powerful and vast 
and more than any one thing. In the ocean it’s 
hard to divorce one mood from another, one wave 
from the next. Now, on my worst days, I think 
of how good life is too, how I still can greet joy 
while swimming through grief. How fragile 
strength feels. How I’m not any one thing in any 
one moment on any one day. I’m all of it and 
all of it is me. 

– Hannah Napier Rosenberg

I came across this poem on Instagram and it resonated deeply. It feels like something that women in particular relate to, and need to hear. It led me to my frequent meditations on enough-ness and the struggle to be all of our feelings and experiences at once, not diminishing or canceling either side. 

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