When Stepping Away Is Your Only Choice

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Before I left the US for England, I had the audacious goal of writing to you about daily adventures and sharing collections of photographs with each blog post. It turns out there is a lot of life to live here. Opportunities for sitting quietly with my thoughts and then writing about what I’ve processed are slimmer than expected.

Sometimes stepping away from the familiar to start over is the kind of trust that can change your life.

With a new normal comes a range of emotions. A see-saw between exhilaration found in new experiences and the fear that I’ll forget something important. Or that you’ll forget about me when it is silent here.

In the midst of distracted delirium, writing helps me to remember. Putting words to my thoughts is like holding a magnifying glass to God’s presence.

Writing is the discipline of noticing where He leaves crumbs toward the beauty He is highlighting. Words assign meaning to my days instead of walking around oblivious.

When I forget how I got where I am standing today, amidst the laundry, piles of paperwork and boxes to unpack, I can easily wander off course and miss the vibrancy of His intentions.

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It’s why He says, “Remember the Sabbath.”

He gives the Sabbath, not because we need more spiritual hoops to jump through but because He knows how much we need it. And how easy it will be for us to forget rest is a gift of His love extended.

Wherever your weekend takes you, may you know that you belong, that your wayward feelings in the moment are not an indicator of your value or judgment about the future.

Part of finding a new normal requires acceptance for what is and what will be. Remembering how you got here is your compass. Rest and know that what matters the most will come clearly into focus.

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Want to make rest a routine, not just something you fill in between the cracks of your busyness? Join the Sabbath Society. Follow Sabbath-keepers in community with the hashtag #sabbathsociety on Twitter and Instagram and our Pinterest board, Surrendering to Sabbath.

 

Why the Details Matter

On Sunday, during announcements in church, I’m distracted by a butterfly fluttering high on a wall of stained glass windows in the balcony. Sun streams through each colorful shard illuminating cabernet to cherry, gold to lemon, navy to sapphire. The butterfly is drawn to light as the pathway to freedom.

The longer I watch a silhouette of wings dust the glass I realize what I’m witnessing is the continuation of what He began whispering just minutes after my alarm went off.

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A few hours before arriving at church, I lay cocooned in bed under covers, holding my phone above my head, scrolling through Facebook when I stop on a photograph that captures my attention. A friend’s mother wearing a sweater imprinted with butterflies. It feels significant somehow.

And then I remember.

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On August 19, my son’s 15th birthday, I wrote these words to my friend Lynn in and email. “It seems everything is on hold, life is frozen and it feels as though I may crack.”

It was my response to the first of many delays in getting to London over seven months.

Lynn wrote these words back to me, “You are being protected in the chrysalis. It is a safe place. You will not crack, but the chrysalis will split at just the right time and you will emerge to take flight. All is being readied.

The chrysalis–the in-between place–is a time of preparation. You can’t rush it. You don’t know God’s full plan or timing. If the chrysalis is split prematurely, your wings will be disabled. The chrysalis is a safe place, a place of rest, a place where He is forming you in order that you will be ready for your final destination and flight.

Take hope. God is shaping you and He is arranging beautiful colors and colorful experiences. He is asking you to trust Him in the chrysalis “soup,” when the way seems murky. This won’t last forever, and everything will suddenly crack open (you will not crack up!), and you will spread your wings and take flight–straight across the ocean.”

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After church, I engage with a new friend from Lithuania when I notice in my peripheral vision someone waiting to speak to me. Turning around, I greet a young woman wearing a backpack. She smiles and introduces herself.

The accent is American; her name and countenance, familiar.

Twenty years ago, I knew her as a little girl lighting up the hallways with her presence at Valley Cathedral in Phoenix, the church where H and her father were pastors together.  She is travelling through London, navigating the city on her own to find us at St. Barnabas on Sunday.

A piece of the past surprises us in the present on the same morning H uses a sermon illustration that happened at Valley Cathedral two decades ago. A story I had forgotten about.

But Jesus doesn’t forget the details because He is present within them.

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When you are tempted to think your days are checked off as inconsequential until the moment your life becomes significant, may I remind you that in Christ there are no throw away moments. No random intersections with people or places.

God knows what you think before you think it. The details reveal the beauty of His presence in the process of preparation.

In hues of paint, the view you see through your window; in rogue butterflies trapped inside a church and the stream you’ll see when you open Facebook. In people who surprise you from the past on the day He knows it will be most meaningful.

If you are in the uncomfortable place of the chrysalis, remember we are all beautiful butterflies in the process of salvation.

It turns out Lynn’s words were prophetic. Take hope, His timely release is a flight worth the wait.

Seek the Light; it is the pathway to freedom.

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Welcome to My World {No Strings Attached}

Westminster Bridge at sunset, London, UK

“I have a few of the lovely church ladies coming to my home for an informal lunch on Thursday, 2 April at 12.30 and I wondered if you might like to come? It would be lovely to have you and to get to know you better,” wrote my new friend in an email.

Of course, I accepted.

I walked a couple miles to the bus station, climbed on the C1 and looked out the window while listening for the name of the proper stop. Crossed a busy intersection between red buses and black cabs and met a woman coming to lunch on the front stoop, buzzing our host to let us into the building. Squeezing into a two person elevator, we rode up to the sixth floor and walked into a stunning home full of smiling faces.

Almost four hours later, I looked at my watch, excused myself from the conversation and retraced my way back.

As I sat on the bus winding my way around parks and cafes full of people, I thanked God for bringing me to London. And for the people that have warmly welcomed us.

The first time I came here as an adult, I wasn’t as brave about navigating public transportation or accepting invitations from people. I was stuck in London without money or connections. And I learned what practical hospitality means from the welcome of strangers.

Join me at Grace Table today where I’m sharing what I know about practical hospitality; the selfless act of inviting someone into your world without strings attached.