Light and Dark Together

Step through the doorway?

Both at the same time.

One thing I can’t help but notice as I walk through this time of being grief’s handmaiden is the joy that walks alongside the grief at one and the same time. 

I first encountered this idea in a significant way through my friend Kirsten, who wrote her way through the carrying of her son, Ewan, with his unknown future and his too-few days with an honesty, depth, grace, truth, and dignity that left those of us bearing witness to the journey with our mouths hanging open in awe and respect, shaking our heads in amazement at the fullness of all she held and chose to share with us.

She wrote about the tension of her experience — of loving Ewan so fierce and firm and yet holding that joy and love and hope for his future alongside heartbreak: his difficult, difficult road ahead. After Ewan died, she shared more about the both/and journey of grief, how it includes laughter alongside sadness. And then she wrote about her continued journey through this tension as she experiences the joy of being Austen’s mama and the ongoing loss of Ewan she holds every single day. 

Like I said: awe and respect. 

I’m experiencing this holding of light and dark together in a different way, namely through an awareness that as those I love walk through dark hallways right now, light and life also crop up elsewhere and invite acknowledgment, too, alongside celebration.

Within a few minutes of learning a beloved pastor and pastor’s son in our town died, a close friend of ours shared the rejoicing news that her son had come through a surgical procedure with flying colors. Light and dark together. 

As Kirk and I walk through the loss of his mother this Christmas season, we’re also celebrating some great strides. We’ve marked some financial milestones that have been a long time coming and are moving in lockstep motion toward some more. It’s a time of great celebration for us, even as he’s holding his fresh grief. Light and dark together.

My heart is holding the losses of those I love every single day, and it’s a heart that’s tender and often tired. And yet I’m also watching in amazement and with deep joy and satisfaction as my work with Still Forming seems to bubble over with activity all at once — the long-worked-for launch of the Look at Jesus course this month, the enthusiastic signups for the beta version of a new discernment offering I’ll be sharing in the new year, the invitations to offer my giftings and/or speak in several different venues in the first half of 2014. Things are moving, and I am thrilled, even as I’m sad and confused and weary from all the loss in this season. Light and dark together.

As I scroll through my Facebook feed every day, I see it all: the heartbreak and the joy. And I want to honor and hold every single piece of it. To dignify each person’s real experience, whether it’s high or low. This, too, is what it means to be a handmaiden of grief.

“Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.”

—Romans 12:15, MSG

Living a Rhythmed Life: Getting to Say Yes


Hi there!

Yesterday we talked about having to say no, and today we get to talk about the fun part: getting to say yes! (This is my favorite part.)

And so, to orient us to this part of the process, I’ve created another little video for you that you can watch here:

If you can’t see the video in your e-mail or RSS feed, click here.

As I mention in the video, it’s taken us quite a long time to get to this point of actually planning out what a rhythmed life might look like for us individually. There’s so much to consider before we can even get to that point. 

But hopefully now, with the foundation we’ve laid over the last three weeks, you have a great sense of what matters most to you and what elements ought to stay or go in your life (and why), so that you’re able to begin plotting out the rhythm points of your life.

To download the chart/visual aid mentioned in the video, click here: 

Getting to Say Yes

Next week, I’m planning to do some wrap-up thoughts on this series — sharing some things I’ve learned, some challenges I encounter with living this way, and devoting some time to what it can look like to live a rhythmed life online. 

Do you have any remaining questions about living a rhythmed life?

The True Self Is Radiant

Light shines through.

For the past several months, I’ve been honing in on the calling of my one particular life. It is something that, when I look back upon my history, makes total and complete sense. But it’s only recently that it’s become clear and integrated. It’s only recently that I’ve acknowledged it and begun embracing it with trust.

One of the firm foundations of my calling, I’ve come to see, is to present Jesus. And this morning, as I walked on the beach with Jesus and talked with him about this, I was struck with such amazement that God wants me — me! — to be a part of other people’s journeys toward greater closeness with himself. 


Yet even as I told Jesus how hard it is for me to wrap my mind around that reality, I saw such joy on my face. There was a natural, full smile on my lips. 

There was radiance. There was joy. 

I didn’t do anything to make the joy or radiance appear. It just, suddenly, was there.

And it made notice: our true selves are really that way. Radiant. Full of joy. Smiling with freedom and ease. Unguarded. Vulnerable. Confident. Free.

Can you recall any moments when you have experienced such radiance in your own life?

Having Fun with Jesus

Azaleas bloom.

Something I’ve noticed about Jesus lately is how much he loves to laugh. 

Yesterday afternoon, for instance, I was praying for someone at my desk when I noticed a huge burst of joy exploding in my heart. It was that moment of realizing I’d been in the presence of God and could trust him wholly — and it made me want to dance!

I was back on the beach with Jesus again, dancing around on the sand in my bare feet and even venturing back out into the water with him. We were laughing and playing, and he was smiling and laughing with me, totally enjoying the moment and my joy. 

It’s kind of amazing: the God of the universe, knowing all things and having all wisdom and holding the entirety of creation together, but also enjoying laughter with me.

How might you enjoy the lightheartedness and laughter of Jesus today?

"Man Is More Manlike . . ."

The view from here.

While reading a book over the holidays, I came across this quote by G. K. Chesterton that has continued to stay with me: 

Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial.

— G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

I’ve known quite a bit of grief in my life. 

Some of those griefs are more obvious than others. Some made pricks with the tiniest pin at the time they grazed me, almost without my noticing, until the pain of it came cascading down in a torrent fifteen or twenty years later. 

For many, many years, such grief and pain were the major themes of my story. 

But that isn’t the case anymore.

I give full credit to the healing work of Christ’s love in my life for that. (I wrote about one of those threads of healing that happened in my life 10 years ago on the blog for Spring Arbor’s graduate program earlier this week.)

Here is something true.

There was a time I couldn’t fathom telling my story any other way than through its prism of pain. But I’ve since learned there is completely new and free and joy-filled life on the other side of sorrow, when we are met in the honest depths of our pain with love.

Such love brings about a life that eventually makes the pain small. It is a love that eventually helps us know joy as the main thing, and grief as the minor. 

Can you relate to either sides of this story — living inside the depths of grief, or emerging on the other side of it into healing’s joy? What have you learned through either experience?

He Is Laughing With You

Balloons for the birthday boy, Ewan.

Today, in the place I am with Jesus, I see him laughing with me. 

And when I’m laughing with him in this moment, it’s on the shoreline of a beach. Sometimes we go into the water, get our feet and legs all wet in the surf and play around in the waves, but other times we’re standing on the wet sand, talking and laughing together. 

It’s that laughter that arrests me today.

He’s got such a beautiful smile. Joy is in his eyes. His laughter comes from the deep. His enjoyment of the present moment with me is full. He enjoys me, he enjoys the sand and water, he enjoys the sun, he enjoys himself, and he enjoys our laughter. 

Every little thing we notice together, he enjoys. Even the funny-looking sandpipers and seagulls strutting about in all their antics. 

What are you enjoying today? Where is laughter emerging? Will you allow Jesus to join in that laughing moment with you?