There is a child in every one of us who is still
a trick-or-treater looking for
a brightly-lit front porch.
Today’s post is by Scott Landis I just dropped her off at the airport. I drove away with tears in my eyes as I felt that deep sense of pain that comes each time we say goodbye. Why is it so hard? Why does love come with such a painful flipside? But this time, as […]
We are all traveling somewhere, whether we regularly find ourselves at the airport, on a path through some untamed wilderness, or at the kitchen table. Life’s journey moves us from one place to another, and we are the unwitting (and sometimes unwilling) passengers.
I happened to be watching a home shopping channel the other day for various reasons, none of them particularly grand. In the midst of hawking that day’s best value, the host mentioned she had been talking with her daughters about the meaning of mercy. Surprised, I thought, “Huh, what an interesting word to explore with young children.” I began thinking about my seven-year-old son, Gabe, and our adventures in spiritual formation. Feeling expansive, I decided to choose a “word of the month” to explore and discuss together, not unlike a vendor’s Today’s Special Value, perhaps. I guess you just never know where inspiration will crop up.
In honor of summer’s effulgence and the sun’s ever-reliable gift of light, we began with the word “generosity.” There were many life lessons and examples to share, and inspired by this initial success, I decided to be a bit more daring in my choice for September. I chose “power.”
Our world is full of examples of the abuse and misuse of power, but what is true, life-giving power? Could I explain it, not just in the negative but in a positive way that left a meaningful impression on my son’s young life? I researched examples, stories, and quotations looking for a wise and solid definition, eventually defining power as the ability to take action for good. Such a simple definition, though, belies power’s great complexity. Power certainly conveys a sense of dynamism, but it also includes the choice not to act. Power carries a sense of strength, whole-heartedness, clarity, and resolve. But power is also experienced in vulnerability, tenderness, and tears. Power suggests freedom, but we all know epic stories of those who have been imprisoned and deprived while still possessing great personal power and freedom of spirit. True power holds together freedom and responsibility, strength and wisdom.
Today’s post is by Savannah Kate Coffey “Whatever comes, the great sacrament of life will remain faithful to us, blessing us always with visible signs of invisible grace.” ~John O’Donohue The Bless the Space between Us The days of 2014 are waning and I am venturing a guess that we all began this year somewhere […]
Today’s post is by Christine Berghoef. Growing up in an old farm house with limited kitchen upgrades, I used to question my mom and dad’s sanity in their choice to not install a dishwasher. Between my parents, me, and my three growing brothers who seemed to put down several meals between meals throughout any given […]
Thomas Keating says that God’s presence is a gift, closer to us than breathing, than thinking, and even closer than consciousness itself. You don’t need a silent church pew or a remote holy isle to access it. God’s presence, love and grace, are already there waiting to greet you wherever you are. Pausing to notice your breath can be a great tool to remember this–you always have your breath with you.
Today’s post is by Savannah Kate Coffey.
Happiness may be one of the most misunderstood and maligned virtues of our time.
Happiness is, on one hand, exalted as the supreme goal of existence. There is great pressure to be happy. If you are not happy, your life is not worth living and you must be doing something wrong. Shopping, traveling, and self-help are popular solutions to this problem. There are many paths to happiness and though every path is not right for every person there is certainly one for you and you should keep searching until you find it. If you find yourself still unhappy after about– oh, say, 50 years, or maybe just 50 minutes, you probably need professional help. Of course, sex, drugs, and rock and roll are always available to you. Whichever path you choose, your happiness depends on you, is fully within your control, and it is your responsibility to procure it.
On the other hand, our churches rarely have much to say about happiness because happiness completely misses the point. Life is about faithfulness, maturity, service, and perhaps “joy” (the more respectable cousin of happiness). Happiness is simply a fleeting distraction that holds no lasting value. Life is a test requiring great perseverance. God certainly isn’t interested in our happiness because God is much too serious for that. God wants us to grow up and if we aren’t happy, well, so be it. We are at least wise, mature, and orthodox. We have inherited our Puritan ancestors’ fear that if we encourage happiness we tacitly promote the licentious sex, drugs, and rock and roll mentioned earlier.
The pendulum swings back and forth causing so much confusion that even a sweet, Southern girl may resort to swearing in sheer frustration. Both perspectives are distortions of something inherently good. As distortions they are unlivable. Happiness is either pie in the sky, always just out of reach, or it is the dangerous enemy of mature faith, and as such, is illegitimate. We live either as slaves to the seduction of happiness, or as martyrs in the rejection of it.
What would a livable and faithful pursuit of happiness look like?
Today’s post is by Bryan Berghoef
There is never a dull moment at our house. My wife and I have four children—amid the flurry of homework assignments, birthday parties, sibling spats, and dinnertime squabbles—there’s a lot of constant noise and movement.
One of the delightful things about having young children is their unbridled enthusiasm and overwhelming energy. They are fully present, without a sense that there is anything else to be. They are fully in the moment. This is a gift of being a child, not being weighed down by thoughts of the future, or by a sense of responsibility, or worry. They are right here, right now.
The downside is that everything is so important, and when something doesn’t go their way, right now, it’s reason for complaining, crying, sometimes even—panic. Spilling milk really is something to cry over. A favorite toy breaking feels like the apocalypse. Even as I write this there is fighting in the sandbox. (Don’t worry – we have plenty of moments of calm and laughter as well in our household!)
I long as a parent to be able to maintain an inner calm amid all this outer chaos and confusion. I find that I very seldom am able to cultivate that on the spot. It is something I need to consciously develop in other moments, so that when the chaos comes, I have a reserve of calm from which to draw. It might be a daily time of prayer and silence, a quiet walk outside, Scripture reading, or some other practice.