Thursday, October 29, 2015


"I pray you, husband, be thou not so disquiet; the meat was well, if you were so content..." - Katherina, The Taming of the Shrew

More than thirty years after high school, I remember this line from William Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. How could anyone who sat in Mrs. Whitehead's senior English class EVER forget Steve Kinsey's interpretation of Katherina, next to Jeff McClain's Petruchio?!! This one line brought the house down, and made Mrs. Whitehead laugh so hard that she had tears streaming down her face and could hardly breathe.

...if you were so content...

Contentment is something I often struggle with. If you look at the list of Blog Topics on the right side of this page, you will see that the topic of contentment has been the subject of multiple posts.

I would love to be able to say that contentment is a lesson I have mastered. Checked it off. Moved on to the next thing on the list. But just when I realize that I have been enjoying a prolonged period of relative contentment, this gray shadow swells in my chest, a vague, sinking feeling of disquiet.

Over the years, I have learned...

Contentment is not imperturbability.
Contentment is not resignation.
Contentment is not passivity.
Contentment is not denial.
Contentment is not "going with the flow."

Contentment is something much bigger and deeper, more solid and more active than any of those things. Also, contentment has a sweetness which those other things lack. I have tasted it.

Contentment, at least for me, requires discipline. It is work. W-O-R-K.

I read recently that contentment springs from gratitude, and gratitude is grounded in humility.

When I am discontent, it is pretty clear that I am lacking gratitude. Sometimes, it is harder to connect the dots all the way back to humility...or the lack thereof.

Paul said that he "learned" contentment (Philippians 4:11). We are commanded to be grateful (1 Thessalonians 5:18), and a stubborn refusal to do so is a mark of the unregenerate heart (Romans 1:21). Christ himself practiced humility (Philippians 2:8), and we are told to do the same (Colossians 3:12).

Contentment isn't just something that happens to me - like a passing mood. It is something I DO.

...if I were so content...

Monday, October 26, 2015


Often called "trash" trees...
Prone to colonize - they will spread all over everywhere (sort of like kudzu), crowding out other, more desirable trees.

Not particularly sturdy - they break/fall over in rough weather, leaving lots of debris for you to clean up.

Not especially good for firewood - unless you're talking bonfire.


Are they not gorgeous?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I love weddings.

The daughter of a dear friend was married this past weekend. Although I was not able to attend the wedding, I have thoroughly enjoyed the many pictures that have been posted on Facebook. Such a sweet family! A glowing bride, a beaming groom, so many precious faces radiating the happiness surrounding such a joyous, special occasion.

Always at a wedding, as the bride and groom exchange vows, I think to myself, "You two have no idea what you are promising. You have no idea what you are getting into!" And without fail, the somber thought passes through my mind, "You can not keep such big promises. You will both break these vows you are making today."

But, still...I love weddings.

Because weddings show me Jesus, the bridegroom who does know what big promises he is making, and who does keep his promises, always.

Remember that marriage was created by God, to be a picture of his covenant love for his people, and then consider the vows traditionally recited at a wedding...


The minister asks, "[Groom], will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live with her after God's commandments in the holy estate of marriage? And will you love her, honor and cherish her, so long as you both shall live?"

"I will."


"I, [Groom], take you, [Bride], to be my wedded wife, and I do promise and covenant before God and these witnesses to be your loving and faithful husband in sickness and in health, in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, as long as we both shall live."


Now, substitute "Jesus" for the name of the groom, and substitute "my church" for the name of the bride. And consider that "as long as we both shall live" means eternity. Tell me, does your heart not do somersaults?!!


Every time I hear these vows repeated, I feel like a bride on her wedding day, heart pounding, bursting with joy at the thought that at the end of the long aisle I am now walking, my Bridegroom waits.

I LOVE weddings.

We were babies! And, no, we didn't have a clue what we were getting into...

Monday, October 12, 2015


If you have raced with men on foot and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? 
- Jeremiah 12:5

I want to run with horses.

Really, I do.

And I want to stand and fight in the thicket of the Jordan.

Well, I think I do, at least in the comfort and safety of the Walter Mitty world inside my tiny brain.

When I read accounts of my sisters and brothers in Christ who are being persecuted - even killed - for their faith, I wonder, "Would I have such courage? Such unwavering faith? Such endurance?" I want to believe that I could live well under severe affliction. I want to believe that I could die well, too.

But I'm not so sure...

I consider that today my spirits are low because I feel like so much of my labor has been in vain. My heart is bruised because I feel like I have been marginalized. Someone glibly dismissed my earnest concerns. Another someone snubbed me. Unkind words wound; so does being ignored or misrepresented or the subject of gossip.

And so with a downcast spirit, I curl up and lick my wounds and wonder why loving Christ and loving the body of Christ sometimes hurts so much. Shouldn't this be easier? Shouldn't this be joyful?!

Then I remember my brothers and sisters in Christ, living and dying in hostile places on the other side of the world. Theirs is a great honor - their Savior has deemed them fit to suffer well and to die well for Him. They really do run with horses. They really do stand in the thicket of the Jordan.

Me, I have only raced with men on foot, and yet I am weary and I stumble.

But I am not completely downcast, because these runners-with-horses give me hope and revive my drooping spirits. To their weak sister, who bumbles and stumbles around like a baby who is just learning to walk, they give a parting gift...

Through their faithfulness and sacrifice, they encourage me:  "Get up, little sister! Get back in the race! Persevere. Press on. Strengthen your weak may yet one day run with horses!"