Confessions of a Distracted Do-Gooder

“Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, happy biiiiirrrrthhhdayyyyyyy….”

Her baby dimples and toothy grin could melt the heart of any scrooge who considers taking away the singing birthday card she clutches so tightly. As her sister opens gifts and jokes with her older brother, this little one wanders in pure delight, the card opening and closing amidst her attempts to swipe a drink of soda from someone’s glass.

To think that several days ago I wanted to give up on this all together. Continue reading

The Creativity of Relationship

I find humanity a lovely, fascinating, complicated and sometimes frustrating thing.

I know you feel the same. I hear it in our laughter together over ridiculous viral videos, our confusion over a global crisis, and the love and loyalty we carry deep inside.

I hear it in words of loss, pain, and mourning; squeals of happiness or the silent smiles of deep joy. We all share this collective joy and pain of living. We all know what it’s like to be loved, and we know what it’s like to be lonely.

All my life I’ve felt what you might call the tug of the artist–the desire to be creating, inspiring, and making beauty. Only recently did it burst into my mind with sudden clarity–how every relationship is, in essence, an act of creativity. Taking two people who are completely unique and forming a relationship that has never existed exactly like this before. Continue reading

Sacred Pauses

The crow and I have become good friends.

He, remaining impressively quiet in the early morning hours (I’m sure just for me!) and I, sitting on the deck or staring out the window, mug in hand, simply appreciating his presence. We are witnesses together here, of the first spring blossoms and the changing colors of the sky.

I look ahead on all the possibilities of the day, the segments held together like the juicy flesh of an orange bound by a thin membrane. Each one that goes by I want to savor, notice, taste, appreciate. I want to recognize the gifts. I want to thank the Giver.

Rarely am I able to diagnose my own needs. But at the start of this year, looking ahead at all the blank boxes of the calendar, it wasn’t too hard to sort this one out: I needed more time to pray. Or, perhaps the real truth–I needed to pray more in my time.

How much I go to God in prayer is a much better indicator of my own self-sufficiency than I could ever diagnose on my own. The more I realized how much of my day I go through with an “I’ve got this” mentality, the more I’ve been humbled by my own pride and self-importance.

This is about remembering my hourly neediness, my constant dependence on Christ.

As ten o’clock nears, the crow caws louder, hopping from roof to branches. I look up from my work at the trees whose buds are now mysteriously becoming leaves. Soon the bells will chime again, calling me to pause, let go of my drive to achieve, and take time to remember.

They say it takes seven weeks to develop a new habit. If that’s true, then this post is a bit premature, for I’ve only been setting alarms for about two weeks. There are days when I’m in meetings or with friends, and those moments sweep by without notice. There are days when prayers happen while scrubbing floors or driving home, or in a simple breath of “thank you.” But I hope, whatever it looks like, I’ll be able to build this habit of pausing six times a day to recognize the holy ground I’m walking on.

Interestingly, having a natural division of the hours in my day is helping me stay a bit more organized, maybe even get more done. Taking a few minutes to breathe in between crossing off the to-do list has given me a chance to process emotions, evaluate priorities. And yet that’s not the point. Whether or not it’s beneficial to me, I want this to be about Christ. About worship. About re-orienting my life and perspective, reminding myself not to live for self-gratification or pleasure, reminding me to look around for opportunities to do good, opportunities to give thanks. It’s about preaching the gospel to myself over and over again, repenting quickly when I’ve sinned, filling my mind with truth and praise.

This is about not getting sidetracked by pursuing justice, and neglecting the pursuit of Christ.



What I love about a cloudy morning is the way curls of steam rise like little white blossoms from the mug.

And how, when the wind blows up here on the third floor, the panes rock back and forth like a clumsy attempt to soothe all the stress and discouragement I’ve closed in.

I love how the world holds me like a blanket just long enough to feel that it’s OK to spend five extra Friday minutes staring out the window at the just-budding branches. Then suddenly, a few bright rays break through, land on my forehead like a brisk blessing, and it’s time to get back to work.

For several weeks I have felt at-odds with my desires, recognizing envy, discouragement, and selfishness in some vulnerable places. I cling to the words:

“You can’t have community with those you compete with,”


“We don’t need more things. We need more meaning.”

Unfurling from these two truths is a single word like a wisp of morning steam.


I walk through my house fingering it like a stone in my pocket.

This house-it is enough.

These daily tasks-enough.

This messy kitchen, this sticking door, the contents of these closets–enough, more than enough.

And the uncertain dreams? the middle spots with unknown endings? the relationships sometimes causing so much thought? Enormously, abundantly enough-if I choose to accept them.

Sometimes it seems the whole of life is remembering. I remind myself of these words last November, how this is the beginning of the fullest life, the biggest blessing: choosing to name this enough. I remind myself of what we read last December, what I struggled against like a cord wrapped tightly–“Embrace the small.” Embrace the downward life, because this is the way of the Kingdom.

What feels like compromise or constraint can turn out to be the greatest blessing.

What feels like “settling” can be the jar of clay with the treasure inside.

What seems insignificant  can be a gateway to glory.

What seems boring and ordinary may just be the very tool for a job this size.

“The meaning unfolds in the ordinary Wow. Thank You. Yes.”

Ann Voskamp

The Day After Ash Wednesday

On the day after Ash Wednesday, I sit with a circle of women who are trying to balance All The Things.


Aging parents.

Work schedules.

Families in crisis.

Homework duty.

Not one of us at the table could say we had it figured out. And right there at the end, she turns to look at me and asks the question all of us are asking: “What does it look like to spend myself for the Gospel?”

Because the truth is, we’re often one “yes” away from being burned out and worn out and we wonder if we have enough time to give towards things like ending sex trafficking? Our hearts break for stories of abuse and betrayal–but how do we make sure we don’t commit at the expense of our own children and families?

If you can relate to wondering if there’s anything left in your life to give towards justice, head over here to join me for a moment to breathe deep and find hope today.