August 29, 2015

That Thing I Do Now - Volume 111

Happy Weekend, Y'all!

I hope this weekend is finding you ready to slow, to enjoy, to unwind... (and to maybe do a little reading, of course!)

Featured today are posts by Annie Downs, Kaitlyn Bouchillon, Lori Harris, Michelle DeRusha, Laura Boggess, Alia Joy, Preston Yancey, Colleen Mitchell, a post from right here, and - of course - a video to wrap it all up! 

Happy Reading! (Ya'll know to click on the authors' names below to read the entire post, yes?)

* This post by Annie Downs over at Incourage with When What You Want Brings Joy and Sadness...
"I love seeing musicals. It’s been a love of mine for a long time. In fact, I was just in New York for a few days and bawled my eyes out while watching Finding Neverland on Broadway. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve experienced.

Some friends here in Nashville have had season tickets to the local theater for a few years. I keep thinking I’ll join them; I’ll get a season ticket seat with them. It’s been about three seasons running that I’ve thought to myself, “Annie! You know you will love this! Buy in!”

It’s part of my ongoing goal for 2015 to find more things that give me rest and make me feel alive and full of joy. It has been like a treasure hunt — walking at Radnor Lake, watching Arsenal soccer, painting my nails. And being a season ticket holder for our local theater.

So I did it. And I was giddy all morning. It felt very grown up and artsy and all the things I wish I was. ;)

But because I bought it later than my friends, and I only had the finances to buy one seat, my season ticket is alone. Sure, my friends will be in the same room, but they will be sitting together, and I will be alone in the balcony.

I’ve been single a long time, so I’m not afraid to be somewhere by myself. I’ve also spent the last few years learning to do what I love — go to New York, move to Scotland, try a new restaurant — even if it means being alone.

But for some reason, as the afternoon of my first day as a season ticket holder ticked by, I felt deeply sad. Imagining sitting alone one night a month for the next seven months felt heavy. But hadn’t I brought that on myself? And wait, wasn’t I excited about this?

What does it mean when doing the thing you want brings both joy and sadness?

That feels awkward to me. Like, if I love it, shouldn’t it just be awesome? And if it makes me sad, shouldn’t I avoid it?"

* This post by Kaitlyn Bouchillon with Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here... 
"We weren’t in danger but as a group of nearly ten Haitian men started shouting over one another, shouting something about us and what we were doing, we each quietly slipped a few feet away. Two friends stood in the distance and started whisper-praying. I racked my brain for anything that would bring peace to the situation, but I only understood the tone, not the actual words being said, and so all I could offer was a silent “God, I am so helpless here. I have nothing.”

My eyes searched the sky until I finally looked down into the eyes of a sweet girl in a little, dirt-covered pink dress. She didn’t have a smile in sight but I reached my hand out, her mother eyeing me. I could see the hesitation on her face and the dare in her eyes to walk further from the shouting, but there I was praying to the sky for bridges to be built and so out my hand went. I’m not sure if she took it or if I slipped my hand into hers as I knelt down to look into her face, but nonetheless my white skin was held in her brown hand and it was beautiful.

I don’t remember her smiling for more than a split second, just a flicker of white, but it was something. The noise died down and we continued on as the little girl ran back to her mama. That was when I started singing.

I couldn’t pray more than “God I have no idea what to say. Just be here. You’ve got to come and be with us.” Those sentences on repeat, not because He didn’t hear me the first time but because I had nothing else.

And then the notes played in my head and so I sang along. Not because He wasn’t already in Haiti, but because we desperately needed His presence. Not because my welcome would bring His power sweeping through, but because it acknowledged the power already belonged to Him.

Holy Spirit you are welcome here…
Quiet, timid, under my breath

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere…
Lord, only You can smooth the language barriers and bring peace to the chaos

Your glory God is what our hearts long for…
We’re here for You, only for You, always for You

To be overcome by Your presence Lord…
You’re already here and I know it, but come and sweep us up in your love, power and truth"

* This post from Lori Harris with Public School, Justice, and What We Should Do... 
" Coupled with three years of living in our neighborhood and getting an education via the school of hard knocks, Isaac had been gearing up for his first year of public school for longer than anyone else in the family. And based upon everything he had learned, his biggest fear was possibly getting put in a choke hold, in his classroom, with Won and Shon and Josiah somewhere in the next building unable to come to his rescue.
Thad prayed and we all assured Isaac he was going to be just fine because no one was going to be able to resist his red hair. Or his freckles or his perfectly round face or his infectious laughter or his mad dancing abilities or his compassionate heart. We also knew he could defend himself. {Don’t judge. Our environment warrants teaching these sorts of things.}
I watched the clock all day waiting for his bus to arrive at 4pm. When I heard his bus pull up on the corner, I stood on the porch and waited until I could read his face. He was beaming. I snapped pictures with every step he took until his feet hit the porch and he began to unload.
Mama, the girls kept rubbing my hair. It was awesome. And these kids had never seen freckles or red hair and they loved them. One boy said he wanted my freckles. Can you believe they have never seen freckles? Why not? Lots of people have freckles. School was awesome except for this one kid who was smaller than me and told me he wanted to knock me out. I just told him he couldn’t do it. And I had pizza sticks for lunch and wait for it…CHOCOLATE MILK! My teacher loves me and thinks I can read really good. I missed you but I didn’t cry. And school is so long. I was starving.
 I hugged his red head before fixing him a snack.
And then I stood over the kitchen sink and gave myself permission to let every question I have concerning our public schools bubble up to the surface of my heart and spill on over."

* This post by Michelle DeRusha with Learning to Let Go of Outcomes...
"In the words of Emily Freeman, God has been trying to teach me how to live in the kingdom he has built for me, rather than in the kingdom I have been trying to build for myself.

I am finally listening.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, drive, dreams and success. There’s nothing wrong with working hard toward a goal. God has work for each one of us to do, and he expectes we won’t slack off in doing it.

However he also expects us to hand over the outcomes of our work. He expects us to rest in him. He expects us to do our best at the work he has given us to do, and then hand the rest to him: the expectations, the fears, the hopes, the outcomes, and even the results of our work.

This is where I go wrong every single time. I do the work, because I’m a Hard Worker, but then I cling with a vice-grip to the outcomes. And when the outcomes don’t line up with my expectations, I cling all the harder.

This clinging wears me out. It’s exhausting and disheartening and just plain depressing. It’s the clinging to the outcomes, not the work itself, that makes me question my career and calling. It’s the clinging that makes me wonder if I’ve made a grave mistake, if maybe I shouldn’t be a writer after all.

“The subtle difference between my work feeling heavy and my work feeling light,” writes Emily Freeman, “lies 100 percent in whether I’m holding onto the outcome of my work.”

When God said, “Trust me. Return to me and rest in me,” he was referring to something much, much bigger and much more important than publishing success and career success. He was talking about my relationship with him.

God is calling me to live here, right where I am, right where he has me for a reason. In the smallness. In the now. Regardless of outcomes. Regardless of results."

This post by Laura Boggess with We Are Still Here... (a tribute post to The High Calling)
“The writing life can be so Benedictine—we live cloistered, set apart, dedicated to tapping out words as prayer. And yet, in Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg says, “Writing is not just writing. It is also having a relationship with other writers … It’s much better to be a tribal writer, writing for all people and reflecting many voices through us, than to be a cloistered being trying to find one peanut of truth in our own individual mind. Become big and write with the whole world in your arms.”

How do you say goodbye to a community who has become your tribe? To the people who bring you the world and offer you their hearts in story? Over the years, The High Calling has become just that: a place of relationship. The voices and friendships I have found here have helped me fill in the details of my chalk outline, coaxed my writing voice into a rich, wide-lipped smile.

The day after the kids drew their chalk figures, one of those sudden, driving, summer storms blew through. I watched from the window as all that color ran down my neighbor’s driveway in rivulets. When the sun came out, the mural was gone. No rainbow-striped skirt, no wide-lipped smiles, no outstretched hands clasped together; every speck of color scoured clean.

I felt sad, until my neighbor’s screen door banged open. Out skipped the little girl in a rainbow-colored skirt. As he always does, her little brother followed close behind, red hair glinting.

Halfway across the drive, she reached out her hand. And when he reached out to take it, I felt my heart swell.

We were here. We are still here. Hands outstretched toward one another. Nothing can wash that away.

This post by Alia Joy over at Incourage with Hope Planted...
“My mother is a gardener.

She grows dreams from tiny seeds. Plants hope in small furrows of soil as black as coffee grounds. Each time she drops one into the ground her hands wave the soil gently over them like she’s tucking them in for the night under the midnight earth.

Sometimes her face gets dreamy when she looks out at the poppies’ dancing faces waving to her in the breeze, and I think this must be her lullaby. A place to rest.

The ground has taught her patience during the times when things are unseen. There is a faithfulness to waiting, anticipating growth. A longing even.

There are seasons when things are so blisteringly hard and the ground is razed and scorched and the pillaging seems to mean no harvest will ever come. These are the dying days. We all have them. Seasons of loss, seasons of dry land and the shadows of overcast burdens blocking out the goodness of God.

We throw the kitchen scraps into our compost and pitch and twirl it like we’re tossing giant mounds of spaghetti with an oversized fork. It’s the castaways and the trash. The things that would find their way into the bottom of a dumpster that become worm food and then soil and then fruit.

I believe in the God of lost things.”  (Seriously... click through and read this. You know you want to!)

This post by Preston Yancey with dear jackson, about your mother...
Dear Jackson,

I want to tell you about your mother. You already know a lot about her: you know her voice, you know the way she moves, you know how much she loves you. There are things you can't quite understand yet, complicated things that in some ways maybe you won't ever understand until you're a parent, too. But I want a kind of record, so that someday you can return to this like the other letters and know her a bit as she was before she first held you.

Jack, your mother is brave. She will deny this and supply ready evidence to the contrary, but don't be fooled. What your mother doesn't remember about bravery or, more specifically, her own, is that Jesus doesn't ask the already brave to do brave things. Jesus asks the becoming brave to keep becoming. Jesus walks out on water and says, "Do not fear, it is I. Come walk out here with me." And Jack, I've watched your mother get out of that boat so many times..."

This post by Colleen Mitchell over at Blessed Are The Feet with Born Again...
"I realize that somewhere along the line, I have stopped longing. A certain healthy contentment has crept into my bones. I feel known. I know myself. I am intrigued by the woman I am and I like her company. My life fills up all my spaces and I don’t long for more as I once did. My projects are enough to fill my plate for a long time to come and I am satisfied to keep dirty right where I am doing this work.

But somewhere along the way, I eased so deeply into that satisfaction that I stopped longing for Him too.

I look back wistfully at my days of running hard after God. That girl was relentless. She was passionate. She was so sure that only He would fill her. She let the wanting of Him drag her to places unknown and found courage in knowing that He was already there. She grabbed His hem and held tight to Him.

There was a time when I spent long hours simply imagining myself sitting at his feet.

I knew the curve of his knee and the smell of the dust and the comforting feel of His hand stroking my hair. I was brazen enough to pull in close and rest my head on Him. And with each deeper knowing, I longed to know more. With each intimate touch, I longed for deeper intimacy. With drawing in, I longed to go further.

Now I am not longing. There is no great need crashing over me that only He can answer. I am satisfied with myself.

And I am sad.

My words have gone away. Life is entirely good and entirely plain. Vanilla ice cream in the hand of a girl who was made for artisan gelato in exotic flavors."

* This one from right HERE with Time is a Gift that God Lavishes Upon Us...
"Time is a Gift that God Lavishes Upon Us...

We are free to spend it, to invest it, however we want.  
But we can. not. save it or store it away!

It's like manna, only good for one day.

People who face death,
--who know that they are dying,
they know this truth.

Gratitude rises up
and being fully present
becomes their goal.
They reflect back
in thankfulness,
and count gifts
in every day.

This is what Ann Voskamp taught us: 
That the only way to slow time down
is to weigh it down
by being all in!

This is the real secret to living the Abundant Life

that was promised to us!"

Lastly, we close This Thing up with a video each week and sometimes it is funny and sometimes it is worship... this time, well - this time it is amazing... enjoy! (and #LetGo!)

Happy Weekend! 

P. S.  Don't forget to enter the Giveaway I am hosting to win a copy of Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines.... you can enter HERE if you live in the US.


  1. Funny thing I've read almost every one of these posts this week. Annie's post was so great. I hate going to movies etc alone but her words reminded that I can go alone. And Kaitlyn, Alia, and Colleen's so good. I'll have to check out the others too.

    1. I love that we are reading so many of the same things! xoxo


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