Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The transplanted tree

Hi, Readers -- A dear friend recently told me she hadn't been getting updates to my blog. I wanted to make sure all of you who followed my blog here or had subscribed to get email notifications know that my blog has moved:

Please visit my new page, where you can find an easy-to-use email subscription field. (You will need to fill out the new one, as I can't transfer your email subscription for you.) I look forward to seeing you in my new virtual garden!

If you have this page bookmarked, be sure to update your bookmark to the new page, too. Thanks so much for reading.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

This blog has moved on

It was time to "repot" this blog. You'll find it at
You've heard the expression, "Bloom where you're planted." While I believe it's a good saying to encourage us to make the best of our circumstances, I also think it's true that sometimes we simply need to move out of particular situations to improve our lives.
If you're like me, you're already looking around your garden preparing for Spring and planning what plants you might need to repot or move to a different part of the garden. Repotting or transplanting plants can be essential to those plants' survival. Maybe the pots are too small for their roots to thrive. Maybe their spot in the garden has become too shady for them to grow and bloom and flourish the way they should.
The same may be true of your own life. Sometimes staying put and making the best of a situation is simply not the best strategy. Maybe it's a destructive relationship that we need to leave behind. Or an untenable work environment. Or an addiction to something unhealthy. Or simply a lazy habit.
In last week's post, I gave you 29 reasons to stop procrastinating and make whatever leap you've been considering. And I promised a leap of my own: "repotting" this blog from Blogspot to WordPress.
So voila! If you have my blog bookmarked, please take a moment to update your bookmark. You might also like to follow me by email (look for the email subscription link at the top right). Subscribing this way means you get every new post delivered directly to your inbox, so you'll never miss a message from me. For those of you very dear readers who follow me here at blogspot, please feel free to unfollow me here and follow me at the new blog:
I look forward to seeing you there and hearing what you think of the blog's new "pot."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fig season is a long way off

From the archives ... my very first post on this blog. As I edit to make the big move mentioned in Wednesday's post, this post somehow decided it wanted to be first in the list again. So here it is. Enjoy, and look for a new post from me next week -- announcing a new home for the blog.


My minister, Ned Hill, spoke this last Sunday about his love of figs ... and his inability to turn down the offer of some fresh figs from a stranger on a park bench in DC. The two of them conversed for a bit, and then, seemingly out of the blue, the stranger said, "My God, you're a preacher!" Turns out the stranger was a Rabbi, and he could recognize one of his own kind.

Well, all of this made me crave figs, and we're still dealing with a frigidly cold winter and the forecast for more of the white stuff coming our way. Dried figs aren't really going to satisfy the craving, and so I'll just have to wait patiently and, instead, fill myself up with stories about fig trees from the Bible.

There are two main reasons I'm talking about craving figs here. One is to tout a great new book by Lysa TerKeurst called Made to Crave, where she invites women (and men, too) to hold on to the truth that "we were made to crave ... God, not food." So while I'll have to wait a few months to satisfy my craving for fresh figs, I can satisfy my need for fig stories and what they say about God's truth for my life by turning to the Bible.

That's the second reason I'm writing about figs in the middle of winter. I want to introduce you to this new blog: Flourishing Tree. I hope you'll read along as I share my journey through the Bible to explore the ways trees spring up as metaphors for how we should live our lives.  Along with Biblical encounters, I'll share with you some other ways my life is flourishing: through writing, running, reading, art, music and more. And I hope you'll do the same -- the seeds you share here may be just what another reader needs to transform into a flourishing tree, too!


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

29 reasons to make the leap

Unless you've spent today under a rock, you probably know it's leap day. You've probably heard people urging you to "Seize the day," or do something different today.

If only we treated every day as leap day, a day to break out of our comfortable routine and shake things up a bit. No matter what day you actually get around to reading this, I've made a list of reasons to make the leap -- into whatever you've been putting off, whatever you have wanted to do but lacked the courage to complete.

My reason is simple and selfish: I've been putting off migrating this blog over to WordPress, and I figured if I told you, my dear readers, about the move then I'd actually follow through with it. So next week (at least, I hope it'll be ready by next week), visit my blog here to see news about the move and to find the new link. In the meantime, here's the list of 29 reasons to leap.

The first four are mostly a pep talk for me and a handful of friends who have considered migrating their blogs over, too, but the rest apply to any of you:
  1. One-way conversations are simply no fun (I know people who are all talk and no listen, and being around them is annoying, and I don't want my blog to be like that un-fun). Plus, y'all have told me that commenting can be really frustrating or even downright impossible.
  2. WordPress will give the blog a cleaner look for readers using smart phones and tablets.
  3. I'll be able to blog more easily from a tablet (yep -- they make an app for that). So that means I can keep in touch with you more easily while I'm traveling or otherwise not chained to my desk.
  4. I'll have more layout choices for the blog, which means it'll be more fun -- or at least easier -- for you to read and navigate the blog.
  5. A leap like this can teach yet another small lesson about how to stop procrastinating. I believe this to be a lesson that will take a lifetime for me too learn, one that I won't get it right until the last possible moment, and even then, I may try to find a way to put things off a bit longer.
  6. Leap year only happens once every four years -- so take advantage of the extra day to try something adventurous.
  7. You won't have to keep wondering, "What if ..."
  8. You'll gain a sense of accomplishment.
  9. You'll gain a sense of peace.
  10. Leaps usually aren't boring.
  11. It's good to take your breath away from time to time.
  12. You can quote Emerson, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Hobgoblin is just a fun word to say. Try saying it out loud to yourself right now. Does it make you smile a bit?
  13. After the leap, you'll free up your mind to think about the next challenge.
  14. Leaps give you an interesting topic of conversation.
  15. They're also a great reason to pray.
  16. And they're an even better reason to ask others to pray along with you.
  17. Leaps can re-energize your mind.
  18. Impress your kids and set a good example for them. A friend posted the words to one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs on Facebook today, and I thought it fit perfectly with this: And I want to stand up and I want to stand tall/If I ever have a son, if I ever have a daughter/I don't want to tell them that I didn't give my all./ And I just want my life to be true/I just want my heart to be true/I just want my words to be true/I want my soul to feel brand, brand new.
  19. Impress your dog.
  20. Leaps give you something to crow -- or tweet -- about.
  21. Leaps can make your life better/easier/more exciting/richer (I don't necessarily mean material wealth, here).
  22. A leap could make you a better friend/neighbor/expert.
  23. You'll have a story to tell your grandkids one day.
  24. Your leap may bring a blessing to someone else.
  25. You might just learn something new.
  26. You'll expand your options.
  27. You may discover a new calling.
  28. A leap could be the most exhilarating part of today.
  29. A leap may be God's way of preparing you for an even greater leap -- and maybe each subsequent leap will be less and less scary to you.
Whether the next few days find you trying to decide to move your blog, quit your job, jump across a stream during a 50-mile trail race, start a new church, start a new hobby, or start a big new chapter in your life ... make the leap.

Legal disclaimer: I'm not encouraging you to try anything stupid, death-defying or death-enducing, but if you do something and don't manage to defy death, your family and friends can't sue me because of this list. However, if you follow my encouragement and moments of joy, freedom or even hilarity result, I hope you'll share them by commenting below.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The ashes of our celebrations

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent that will be a time of penitence and preparation for Easter.

As you know from last week's post on obedience, I'm struggling to obey God's call. Being sorry for that struggle comes easily to me. Being ashamed of it does, too. However, Lent isn't about shame. It's about repenting -- turning back around toward God. And that's exactly what I intend to do during this Lenten season: turn to face God and to learn to hear His voice and obey His call in my life.

To mark that intention, I'll go to my church's Ash Wednesday service tonight and have a minister place ashes on my forehead as a reminder of my desire to repent and of the promise of God's gracious forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice for us.

Even as far back as the old testament, people repented by wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. While I'm glad the church doesn't require us to wear sackcloth until Easter, I'm also glad for the blessing of wearing ashes, even for such a short time, as a reminder to focus on God's work in this season.

May I tell you a bit about the ashes at my church?

Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday mark the most joyous celebrations in our church. Palm Sunday is less raucous than our Easter services, but it offers a glimmer of joy at the beginning of Holy Week, the week we mark Christ's arrest, torture and crucifixion. On Palm Sunday, to commemorate Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the children's choirs and adult choir process in waving palms. The children crowd in to the front of the church, happily waving their palms and sometimes batting each other with them. They know it's a time of celebration, and hey, if you can torture your little sister standing in the row in front of you by hitting her with a palm branch, that's just a bonus, right?

Our choir director retired this past summer, but for many years, he has taken those palms from Palm Sunday and burned them down into ash. That's right: the ash we use to mark the beginning of Lent comes from the palms we wave at the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent.

There's something I find comforting in that completed circle from one year to the next. Our celebrations in life come and go. Some are more joyous than others, but they never last. Think of what was left of your last party: probably a stack of dishes by the sink, a full trash can and recycle bin, and good memories of time with family and friends.

Sometimes, all that's left of a good celebration is ash. We generally think of ash as something to be disposed of, something useless and even mournful. But even in the ashes, we find blessing. Ashes are reminders of something past, but the ashes of Ash Wednesday remind us of the hope we have for our future. In the ashes, we find a closeness to God, a reminder that He desires our coming nearer to Him, and a promise of Easter on the horizon.

Today's ashes mark us for God, a mark worth of celebrating. Not in arrogance, but in humility. Are you willing to carry His mark?

I'd love to hear about your Ash Wednesday traditions. Have you attended an Ash Wednesday service already? Or will you go to one later this evening? Even if your church doesn't have a service of ashes, I hope you'll see this day -- and the season of Lent -- as a blessing and not a burden.