The Beauty and The Fear

This seemed like an appropriate time to repost this gem from 2013, in a world that existed prior to Bedrocks and Borderlands. The past two days we have been experiencing the Houston Ice-capades of 2018 and I couldn’t help but revisit the wisdom the last real winter taught me.

Houston winters are fickle at best. One day you are traipsing around in sandals and shorts and the next morning, you are searching the deep dark corners of the wardrobe for your winter coat, the one you bought for that one trip up north.

Today is of the latter variety. Last night the thunder rolled in. Trees crackled and snapped all night. And I awoke to icicles adorning every branch and poorly placed power line in my backyard. As I drove, ever so cautiously, to work on the outskirts of this fine city, I began to notice the trees. From the highway, being eye to eye with the treetops in the distance, their adornment was stunning. It was as though they were wearing the most beautiful gown, hand-beaded by the most sought after designer. Their leaves and branches shimmered as the weight of the ice enhanced every curve and crevice of their magnificent figures. Beautiful.

But as I exited the highway and turned off onto the road that takes me daily to my work, I had a new perspective. I was no longer standing among the trees as though they were my peers. Rather, I was beneath their branches, and I felt small. Most days, I drive that road in awe. It is easily the best part of my commute. The way the sun streams through the branches…I am transported to a land of magic and fairy tales and legends of heroes defeating evil, my own personal Terabithia.  But today, those trees were not the guards ushering in life. Today, those trees were bent, heavy with the burden of slowness. This slowness is seen in the ice that weighs them down. It is only water, the very thing that they need to grow and stand tall. But last night, as temperatures dropped, those molecules of water slowed down and changed. Some trees held the weight well, took the change in stride. But, many others were bent so low that I feared that they might come crashing onto me in a moments notice. Others had already met that fate, limbs were strewn about the ground, evidence of a burden too heavy. And honestly, a drive usually marked by warmth and light, was marked today by heaviness and a little fear.

And I see myself in those trees. I see those of us who are shepherding others in those trees. Sometimes, we get into the groove of the normalcy of life, it’s bright and warm and full of the hope of a faraway land. We feel strong, like we could conquer anything in this light, and others see it too, this magical strength, this ushering in of life. But then, sometimes overnight, things suddenly slow. The things that have nourished us transform ever so slightly, molecules rearranged, and we bend under the heaviness. And bending is fine, we were made to bend. Our knees bend to absorb the shock of force when we jump or run. But if our knees are not strong enough, if the trees are not strong enough, too much force and weight will break them. And if we -leaders, parents- are not strong enough, too much of this slow burden will break us. Of course, strength doesn’t come from oneself. It never does, not with trees or people. Strength for those trees is developed over years, from the first sprout of the seed-the depth of the reach of roots and the nourishing quality of the soil they are planted in. Many trees can grow tall without ever growing strong. And you and I can as well. We can reach great heights but if our roots never reached great depths, or if we are not nourished by the soil of Truth and Life, we will be broken by the heaviness of the burden. And if that is our state, if we are not standing in a strength of faith having been built up over the years, we are a danger to those beneath us.

But, when we have grown up with the strength of The Lord soaking into our every fiber, when our strength comes from the Source, then everything looks different. We may bend, but when our view is from the heavens downward, the bending of the branches gleams with a beauty of the intricate work of the most glorious Designer, the Strong Creator, Elohim. He sometimes pours His light through our branches and He sometimes adorns them with the slowness of burdens. When He is our strength, the threat of danger is over shadowed by the careful work of His detailed and purposeful delight and design.

May we be leaders who soak in the gifts of The Light and the days that warm us so that we might stand when the tiny molecules of our plans are rearranged and become heavy.

Rest or Laziness?

Currently my apartment is a mess. There is no poetic way to paint this picture. It is simply, a mess. Suitcases partially unpacked, unmade bed, old mail, groceries on the counter. But, hey, summer has been crazy with two big trips, recovery time, and the usual weekly expectations as well. Not to mention trying to figure out finances for all that is coming my way this fall. There is a whirlwind of happening and a girl has got to rest, so we can excuse the mess, right?

We are commanded to rest. Sabbath. Set aside time to be still.

Sometimes, that means excusing the mess. But not always. And not in my current case. I have not been resting. I have been lazy.

So, what is the difference?

I believe there are two main differences. Intentionality and outcome. Let’s break it down a bit…


  • Rest requires planning. Laziness just happens.
  • Rest means investing in your life. Laziness means wasting your life.
  • Rest minimizes distraction. Laziness is distraction.
  • Rest hides in relationship. Laziness hides from relationship.


  • Rest prepares you for action. Laziness dissuades you from action.
  • Rest creates room for you to be filled with life. Laziness fills your life so there is no room.
  • Rest removes the weight from your shoulders. Laziness adds the weight of guilt.
  • Rest sends you out. Laziness sucks you in.

I have rested a bit this summer, but in all honesty, mostly, I have been lazy. The housework has piled up, as has the guilt. The mess is driving me crazy, and yet, just as sugar begets sugar cravings, laziness begets Netflix marathon cravings. And like any bad habit, it takes hard work to replace it with good habits. However, true rest is worth the effort.

Still not sure what the difference is between rest and laziness? Well, I asked my internet friends for tangible examples from their own lives. Here are some of their responses:

Rest is meeting my friends for coffee. Laziness is spending hours liking and commenting on social media.

Rest is getting up early to knock out a few hours of writing. Laziness is sleeping in until noon and waking up still feeling exhausted.

Rest is sitting on the porch, drinking a glass of wine, chatting with friends. Laziness is always choosing that over the dishes in the sink.

Rest is watching a movie with my child. Laziness is watching Sports Center instead of taking care of life.

Rest is creating something. Laziness is playing games on my phone.

Rest is giving myself a pass one day on making my bed. Laziness is giving myself a pass everyday.

Rest is going for a walk. Laziness is not leaving the house.

Rest is a Chick-fil-a run so I can spend time doing something I love. Laziness is a Chick-fil-a run so I don’t have to think about what to cook. 

Rest is lying on the beach with a good book. Laziness is lying on the couch and playing games on my phone all day.

Rest is watching Gilmore Girls during the kids’ nap time. Laziness is watching tv all day. 

Rest is turning off my phone so I can hear from the Lord. Laziness is turning off my phone so I can avoid someone. 

Rest is spending time reading God’s Word on my own. Laziness is skipping church because I don’t like the sermons. 

Rest is deep, intentional conversation over coffee. Laziness is staying superficial with new friends.

So there you have it. Real life examples of rest verses laziness. What about you? What activities are restful for you and when do you know you have crossed into laziness? 

The Piano Lesson

Since the beginning of our relationship, she has been staring at me from across the room. Every now and then, I would open her up and run my fingers along the ivories, hoping the years of lessons would come back like riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, the piano is not a bicycle and my fingers don’t remember the dance that they reluctantly practiced all those years ago.

See, two years ago, I acquired this piano. She is quite possibly the most beautiful of all my belongings. She made the move with me from a four bedroom house in the city to my one bedroom suburban apartment. And yet, since being in my care, she has never lived her purpose. Instead, she has served as a shelf, a home for books and photos and the dvd player. The piano has played the background of many photos and she does it well. Still, a piano is meant for more.

I had the best of intentions when I acquired her. I planned to sit and force my fingers to find their way again. I pulled out my old lesson books and my music theory text book. I had good intentions.

But good intentions are not the same as intentional actions.

I don’t know your story, but perhaps you are feeling like my piano. Perhaps you have been aching for the more you were made to be. It’s a story we all have lived, waiting for someone to recognize that we are meant for more than a pretty picture. We wait for permission to share the song locked up in our souls, aching to be played. A piano must wait for someone to come along and put her to use, but you and I…what are we waiting for?

You have good intentions to serve in your church but no one has asked? Be intentional in your actions and offer your help. You have good intentions to make friends in your new neighborhood but your neighbors stay locked away behind busy schedules and drawn curtains? Be intentional in your actions and knock on a door. Always meant to write a book, learn that skill, make the phone call? Whose permission are we waiting for?

If the answer is anyone other than the One who created us, then it’s time to stop waiting. And if the answer is the One who created us, then let us be very sure we are not putting words in His mouth. He may very well ask us to wait, but He will not ask us to let our strings grow rusty and our keys sticky beyond use. So let us not mistake our fear for His forbiddance of living within our purpose.

I sold my piano this week. I had to be honest with myself about the reality of our relationship. There are many skills I’d love to learn. I do not have the time nor the mental capacity to learn it all and do it well. So, I am sending my beloved bookshelf off to a home where she will live her purpose. She will belong to a piano teacher and the fingers of children will learn to dance along her keys.

You may have many passions and the thought of choosing a path may paralyze your heart. It’s time, friend. Be honest about what you are made for. Be honest about what is the envious dream of another life and what is wired into your being. And when it still feels there are a million streams flowing from your soul, make a choice and take a step. You may find that the streams cross a ways down the road but if you keep waiting for permission, you will most certainly find nothing but bitterness towards all those who withheld it. No matter how much you plan to live with purpose, it is in the walking that purpose is found.

What are you waiting for? Be brave. And remember, good intentions are not the same as intentional actions.