January 2011


Last week I brought home a couple of burritos for lunch. I opened mine, put on lots of hot sauce and started eating. My daughter took hers upstairs to eat in her room. As I took my last bite, she came down the stairs asking if our burritos got switched. It dawned on me I had eaten the wrong one, the one without the meat and heat. I hadn’t remembered or noticed mine was supposed to be the other one, just ate it without thinking.

How much do we do without thinking? Sometimes it’s because we’ve always done it that way, or because our moms did it a certain way. How many beliefs do we hold without really thinking about them? Like believing Jesus had to die because his Father was angry? Or believing God won’t love or forgive us unless we live up to his impossibly high standards? How many times do we sing the same songs in church without really thinking about the words?

A lot of people think Christians check their brains at the door of a church. They think we’ve been brainwashed or that we drank the Kool-Aid. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you stop thinking – it means thinking even more, about who God is, why we’re here, how we relate to him and our fellow humans. It means becoming more thoughtful and more appreciative of life and all it brings.

We got burritos again a few days later and I’m happy to report I ate the right one – I did some thinking first.

It was calm today, but last week the wind was blowing pretty hard. I don’t like walking when it’s windy but decided I needed to get out and move. So I braved it. As I walked, I played Pollyanna’s glad game, where you try to find something to be glad about in every situation. I was glad it wasn’t snowing or flooding! I also told myself I was burning up extra calories moving against the headwind, which was something else to be glad about.

Going against the wind (I hear music!) is an expression we use when we hold opinions or beliefs different from the majority. I couldn’t help but think about grace. Most Christians will tell you they believe in grace but in real life, are still trying to earn favor with God and even their salvation. Many churches say grace but preach legalism. If you really live a grace-filled life, you often find yourself moving against the wind of legalistic teaching and pressure to do enough, be enough, perform well enough.

Rest in the grace of Christ, but don’t let the wind blow you back into legalism.

On my walk this morning, I listened to a podcast of an interview with Steve McVey (www.gci.org, You’re Included). He talked about grace. Here’s a thought from the interview:

When you live in the circle of Father, Son and Spirit,
it’s not about demands but desire;
it’s not about law but love;
it’s not about responsibility but relationship.

Then I listened to a song by Casting Crowns called Who Am I? Did you know it’s possible to get the chills while working up a sweat? It’s a great song about grace (thanks Mary Jo, for introducing it to me).

I love listening to podcasts as I walk, and a little music too! From time to time, I’ll be posting more about what’s on my iPod, to share what’s inspiring me.

“Sorrow is one of the things that is lent, not given. A thing that is lent can be taken away; a thing that is given is not taken away. Joy is given; sorrow is lent.” These words by Amy Carmichael, Christian author and Irish-born missionary to India, remind us pain is not permanent, even though it may feel as though it won’t end.

What happened over the weekend in Tuscon, Arizona, is a heartbreaking tragedy; at the same time, the stories of heroism and selflessness are heartwarming. My thoughts and prayers are for all the victims and families. May God give them comfort, peace, rest and joy even in the midst of the pain and sorrow.

It’s been a long time since I posted here so I’m going to change my ways. WordPress has issued a challenge to post every day or week (I’m going with weekly) for the whole year and I’ve accepted. And now that I’ve made it public, I have to follow through. That’s one of the rules of accountability: telling others helps you keep resolutions.

I snapped this photo early one morning when our resident hawk paid us a visit. I wish I had a better zoom on my camera, but you can see him (or her) pretty well. For some reason, hawks are my favorite birds, well, equal with hummingbirds. But hummingbirds are kind of scarce this time of year.

Happy New Year and happy hawk watching!