it is well

Happy Easter, friends of the blogosphere.

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Here is my prayer for you, and for me, on this holy day (and every day):

That you would find yourself opened up, bare and raw and exposed to the realities of this world. That you may know, with the deepest clarity and pain, just how broken and full of sin you are. That in that brokenness, you would experience the truth of Jesus Christ’s death and His glorious RESURRECTION, and feel wonder in the knowledge that He has made a way out of death for you. That you would be overwhelmed by his love and his sacrifice, and that you would live out the rest of your day with the assurance that, now, all is well.

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

that kind of girl

 

I was introduced to this song way back when in high school, and it has held a special place in my heart since then. It’s just so beautiful, in a thousand different ways.

Close your eyes, lay back, and listen.

relationship tidbits: affection

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“I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”

― Audrey Hepburn

The thing that strikes me about affection is that it is a mark of mindfulness. It’s one way of saying to your significant other, “I’m paying attention to you“, even when you are tired or busy or have your mind set on other things. It’s a sign that you care about the other person more than you care about finishing dinner or doing the laundry or working on your blog. And it demonstrates that your love for them is greater than simply your mood, because you’re affectionate in the midst of the rhythms of your everyday life. It is an area that requires intentionality. In my experience, you can’t be affectionate simply when you feel like it… it’s an active practicing of love.

Will and I practice intentional “hellos” and “goodbyes”: when one of us is coming or going, the other stops whatever it is they’re doing, stands up, and really pays attention to what’s happening. No more mumbling, “Hey”, or “Love you, see you later!”. Instead, the person arriving or departing gets a hug and a kiss and a smile, and a few moments of eye contact before the other returns to their day. When we’re together, we hold hands, we kiss, we hug. We say “I love you” and “I choose you” and “I’ll be here, no matter what”. We are effusive with our affection, in both our touch and our words.

We feel both loved and loving because we do these things profusely. It has chased away apathy and selfishness and neglect, and has prevented either one of us from building up bitterness or anger… how upset can you be when the other person is actively, intentionally loving you? At the least, it causes whoever is holding a grudge to finally open up so we can resolve the problem. It has made all the difference.

“Lord, I pray for open physical affection between my husband and me. Enable each of us to lay aside self-consciousness or apathy and be effusive in our display of love. Help us to demonstrate how much we care for and value each other. Remind us throughout each day to affectionately touch one another in some way. Help us to not be cold, undemonstrative, uninterested, or remote. Enable us to be warm, tender, compassionate, loving, and adoring. Break through any hardheadedness on our part that refuses to change and grow. If one of us is less affectionate to the other’s detriment, bring us into balance.

Where any lack of affection has planted a negative view of marriage in our children, or taught them an incorrect way of relating to a marriage partner, help us to model the right way so that they can observe it. Show us how to openly confess our errors to them and demonstrate our commitment to live differently.

Change our habits of indifference or busyness. May we not so take each other for granted that we don’t make the effort to reach out and touch one another with affection. Help us not to weaken the marriage through neglect of this vital means of communication. I pray that we always, “greet one another with a kiss of love” (1 Peter 5:14). I know that only the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can make changes that last. I trust You to transform us and make us the husband and wife You called us to be.”

The lovely prayer is from Stormie Omartian’s Power of a Praying Wife, and the photo is from this site.

p.s. see more tidbits here, here, or here.

guilty pleasures

boxed dark chocolates

grey’s anatomy

ridiculously expensive greeting cards

playing zoo tycoon 2

disney princess coloring books

eating frosting on a spoon

harry potter memes

singing taylor swift songs with a fake southern accent

and this:

If you could…

… have any talent, what would it be?

By talent, I mean natural inclination or innate aptitude. Not a superpower (aka, being invisible or flying) or a skill (aka surfing or playing the violin). Personally, I wish I could pick up languages easily. I’ve taken six years of Spanish and it might as well have been one. I can’t even order food at Mexican restaurants. I lived in Thailand for five months and by the end of it, only had the vocabulary of a two year old Thai child. Now, of course, it’s all gone. The only Thai words I remember are “tourist”, “please”, “no”, and “taxi”. No matter how hard I try, whether it’s in the classroom or in full immersion, the words just don’t come. I’d love to be one of you people who just pick up new languages like it’s a walk in the park. You know who you are.

Speaking of Thailand, I would say it’s about time to share some pictures.

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Back to the subject, though. What about you? What would you choose if you could rewrite your genetic predispositions?

metalypsis

Metalypsis [met-uhlep-sis]

What a funny word. What does it mean, you may ask? Well, according to my old “Doctrine of the Word” papers, it’s definition is something along the lines of when “one text alludes to an earlier text in a way that evokes resonances of the earlier text beyond those explicitly cited” (thank you, Richard Hays). So, essentially, it’s a literary echo. It’s when you learn more about the second passage of a book because it reminds you of the first. The very structure of the text is like music, self-repeating and layered—throughout the Scriptures, the authors reuse phrases, changing the wording subtly so that it has an even deeper meaning that evokes the first (this metaphor can be attributed to Leithart).

The concept is one of my FAVORITES, out of all the things that I learned while getting my Religious Studies degree, because I think that it epitomizes some of the most essential doctrines of the Scriptures out there. When many Christians think of the Bible, they think of it in confusing or watered-down terms. The Bible is a “love letter”, they say, a mirror for our personal struggles and a storehouse of encouraging quotations. There are a few stories thrown in, and a couple of books that don’t make any sense, but mostly it’s just God’s way of helping us through hard times. This picture, guys, doesn’t even come close to the realities of the intricate, powerful, written Word.

Above all else, the Bible is first meant to be the narrative of God’s work over the course of human history, not something that can be randomly utilized for our own purposes. Both the Old & the New Testaments are continuously telling one long story about how the divine has interacted with humanity- that is, it’s a story of creation, of sin, and of redemption. At the beginning (think Genesis, Exodus, all the way to the prophets) this interaction primarily took place between God and Israel, but through Christ, Gentiles (that is, anybody who is NOT a Jew) are pulled into that narrative as well. This concept is reinforced by… you got it, metalypsis. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul mentions a portion of Israel’s history that is described in Exodus and Numbers: although he is vague, his use of metalypsis opens up the world of the New Testament and evokes images of, among other things, a golden calf. The New Testament passage is referring to the Corinthians’ situation regarding meat sacrificed to idols, and Paul addresses the issue by first speaking to the Gentile Christians as if they were Israel. From that point, Paul’s entire argument is based on an imaginative projection of the Gentile’s lives into the framework of the Jewish narrative. That means that Gentiles can read that Old Testament as if it was our heritage, too.

This historical-redemptive narrative is often broken up into two parts: the Law and the Gospel. The Law are those portions of the Old Testament that lay out the ways that Christians are supposed to behave to become righteous, and the things we can do to try to atone for our sin. It’s a disclosure of God’s will, which, in the ancient times of the Old Testament, separated his people from the nations surrounding them. It was an expression of their special relationship with God. In the history of salvation, it acts as an indicator of man’s (both Jew and Gentile) sinfulness. Enter metalypsis: in Romans 3, Paul uses passages from Psalms (13:2-3, 5:10, 139:4, etc), which emphasize the unrighteousness of those outside of the covenant, to apply this failure to both the Gentiles and the Jews. Thus, the Law reaches out of its purely historical and narrative sense (as is connected to the Jewish identity) to judge all of humanity, which then causes it to point to the need of a Savior. And so, we realize that the true heart of all these rules is to make us realize that we can never keep them. We can’t do it. The Law condemns all people as sinful and broken and indicates that God has gathered his people in unity under his righteousness, both Jew and Gentile.

And then we get to the Gospel. This portion of the Bible is the accounting of how God, in his love and mercy, makes a way for humanity: Jesus Christ (God incarnate) lived a perfect life and died; by faith in him, now any person can be saved through grace. Throughout the New Testament, metalypsis is used a thousand times to reinforce the nature of Jesus as God. For instance, the use of the phrase “in the beginning” (1:1) in the gospel of John echoes the harmonic process of creation in Genesis, where the sovereign God created and filled the world in an act of divine self-giving. The reader is reminded of the foundational nature of this act and connects Jesus, the Word, with all that God does from the point on, for “He was with God” (John 1:2). Connections between the Incarnation and creation are instantly drawn— ties of renewal, of God’s self-sacrifice, and of hope become clear and the Christian’s reading of Scripture is enriched. This apostolic reading is generally used as a tool to read Christ into the larger narrative of the Biblical story, as the older texts change meanings in light of the newer ones. Thus, the purpose, inspiration, and unity of the Bible become even further interwoven, pointing to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

The Bible is so much more than we give it credit for. It’s the complex, culture-laden, living and active narrative of God’s work throughout history. It’s a story of the Law and of the Gospel, of our sin and our redemption, of Christ making a way into life where before there was only death. As I said, it’s powerful. Like so many good things, the Scriptures are incredibly simple and yet way more complex than you or I could ever understand … in that, I would say that they are beautiful. Metalypsis is only a tiny fragment of how layers of meaning in this text are unearthed, revealing that verse after verse points to the truth of Christ. When I was first introduced to the concept, I found it mind-blowing. And now, well, I still do.

let’s talk about beauty

How many of us women believe, really believe, that we’re beautiful?

I’m not talking about inner beauty. I’m talking about the other type. The skin, the body, the hair. The external, I-feel-sexy-and-confident type of beauty.

Apparently, only about 2%.

I know that this is, in many ways, old news. But it’s something that I am slowly learning in a very real, very personal way… something that leaves me feeling astounded and heart-broken and with a newfound, humble sense of solidarity with the women of this world. I’ve always thought of myself as less than beautiful. I grew up ashamed of my weight, my chin, my legs. If I could just be pretty, I would think, everything would be okay. And then I’d look at those girls around me and think that they, obviously, were charmed and gorgeous and worry-free.  Without a doubt, they were beautiful. Really. And then, through a series of new friendships and subsequent confessions over the last couple of years, I realized that they didn’t like their bodies either. I was stunned. It never occurred to me that while I was thinking that so-in-so in my economics class was gorgeous because she was thin, she was jealous of me because of my curves. Or that having freckles could be such a shameful thing for somebody, or having small breasts, or curly hair, or thick knuckles. I thought that every one of those women were gorgeous, no questions asked. I was so engrossed with “thin” being the ideal for beauty (and my lack thereof) that I never realized that others are painfully aware of other pieces of the American standard of perfection. Maybe you would say that same thing about being acne-free, or being tall, or having a “good” butt.

As I become more aware of this truth, I watch the women around me living in shame and my heart breaks for them. You are stunning! I want to tell them, and I believe it. Those of you out there with thin hair, broad shoulders, or big feet… I have never even noticed. And honestly, I don’t even pay attention to others’ weight, even though it is the thing that I am most aware of in my own body. I want women to feel their beauty in their hearts and in their very bones, and to let it lift them up into a confident life. I pray that they will never again look in a mirror and feel disappointment. That they will never choose to sit in the back, or feel anxious about going to the doctor, or say “no” to a date because of the way they look.

And then, I realize, maybe they’re thinking the same thing about me. Maybe, just maybe, I’m not quite as flawed as I think I am. Maybe they would be astounded by how many tears have been shed over my body, just as I would be amazed by how deeply their wounds cut. Maybe we really are our harshest critics, in the deepest sense of the word. Maybe.

Here’s to celebrating beauty. Here’s to being beautiful.

p.s. the stunning photos belong to Danny St Photography.

sleepless

Oh, you’re still awake too?

Why don’t you listen to this playlist with me?

So far, I’m loving it. It’s the perfect way to spend my time at 1:34 AM.

inlet wanderings

Wake up slowly. Take a long drive. Eat a tasty brunch at a tiny cafe. Walk the beach. Explore the inlet.

Breathe, smile, and watch the sun cross the sky.

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a blessing for you

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“May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart. May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people. May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really can make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim.”

-The Franciscan Blessing