January 05, 2021

Lesson 241: 2020 Book List

Top reads for the year have been bolded and italicized. Enjoy!

January

* The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

* Cozy Minimalist Home by Mcquillyn Smith

* Becoming by Michelle Obama

* At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider

* Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

* Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki


February:

* Messy Beautiful Friendship by Christine Hoover


April

* Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (reread)

* Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (reread)

* It's Easier to Succeed than to Fail by Truett Cathey

* Open by Andre Agassi


May

* Broken and Beloved by Sammy Rhodes

* Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (reread)

* A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

* Good to Great by Jim Collins

* All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin


June

* Elizabeth Cady Stanton: An American Life by Lori D. Ginzberg

* Little Big Lies by Liane Moriarty

* The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

* Money-Making Mom by Crystal Paine


July

* Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

* An Affair with a House by Bunny Williams


August

* The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer

* Holy Hunger by Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

* Arriving Home by James Farmer


September

* More Beautiful by Mark D. Sikes

* Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson


October

* A Gentle Answer by Scott Sauls

* Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

* Friendish by Kelly Needham


November

* Untangling Emotions by J. Alasdair Groves and Winston T. Smith

* The Dance of Connection by Harriet Lerner

* Relationships: A Mess Worth Making by Timothy S. Lane & Paul David Tripp (reread)


December

* Extravagant Grace by Barbara R. Duguid

* Near & Far: Interiors I Love by Lisa Fine



May 14, 2020

Lesson 240: Covid and Life and Sheds

Covid-19. Week 8. I'm at home, alone. The kids and Mark are out for the night, social distancing appropriate activities. Camping and such. For the first time, in a long time, it's just me.

And I find myself writing in the shed attachment of our garage. Surrounded by broken electronics. Tools. Gorilla glue. A lamp that I wanted out of the house, but that Mark felt would be useful in this separate unseen place of his.

And it feels fitting.

I could be on my back porch. Enjoying the beauty of the gorgeous green this unprecedented spring weather has gifted us. I could be looking over the first buds of the pink hydrangeas potted out there, transplanted from our last home. A spot I continually describe as decadent in its lushness. I could be breathing the fresh air and considering the subtlety of the light as it fades away so gently, as it does at the end of an incredible day.

But even in its privacy, the back porch has views of neighbors and neighbors have view of me.

And I have the best neighbors! If this season at home has taught me anything, it's that I have the best neighbors!

But I don't want to see them, right now, while I'm alone. And I don't want them to see me.

And I could be in my comfortable and welcoming house. We all know I've spent enough of these last eight weeks, tweaking and moving and painting and creating, massaging it ever so slowly it into a place of beauty. My hobby. My obsession?

But my house, my home, is a place that is meant to be full. Full of children. Full of friends. Full of college students.

And what I want, what I desire, is to truly be alone. In a place with no others and no future of others.

I want to be alone.

And so, here I am, writing in our shed.

Though alone, and desiring to be so, I'm choosing to share these thoughts, because of something a friend said last night.

After preaching a phenomenal sermon on Ecclesiastes 1, proclaiming the goodness of the resurrection to college students nationwide (via zoom, of course), speaking about the disappointment of the world in contrast to the delight of Jesus, he said that throughout his life and ministry, the times when students and others have most connected to his speaking and teaching, are the times when he spoke about the hardest situations. His deepest cuts. His most painful moments. (My summation of the thought, not his direct quote.)

And as I wandered around my empty house, looking for a quiet space, to be alone, willing to be alone with the Lord, after landing in our shed, I realized how fitting a place it was. This is the place. And I realized, these are the thoughts, the feelings, the emotions, that will translate. To others.

I love people. I love beauty. If I want to "be happy" or feel alive, I chat with my neighbors or friends or mom. I walk through my garden. I indulge in the sensory overload of those back porch hydrangeas. How magnificent! Who am I to be sad in such a world as this?

Maybe it's the 3 in me, or maybe it's something else, but with people, or in nature, my spirits are quickened. I'm revived. I am truly reminded of the joy and love available in life.

But in a lot of ways, more than anything, I'm distracted away from the lingering pain or hurt that I want to consider. The pain or hurt that set me wandering, seeking the solitude or beauty in the first place.

And rather than face the pain, I accept the gift of temporary beauty or relationship and move on.

And there are all sorts of reasons why this is and why it's ok.

But the pain, the hurt, the sadness, doesn't go away. It just buries itself in deeper. To a place that is untouchable, to a place not worth mentioning again, because my goodness ... look how beautiful it is, and see how wonderful people are.

Covid has been a season of a lot of coping. For a lot of us. Underlying the goodness of extra time and room to breath, there's been a layer of ... all the things.

I listened to Dan Allender give his synopsis of this time, speaking of a communal experience of low-level (sometimes high-level) trauma. And one of his points was that this season of uncertainty and low-level trauma will certainly bring about the resurfacing of un-dealt-with trauma.

The un-bright and beautiful. The unloving. The non-communal moments of our lives.

And after eight weeks of all that nagging me, it feels more appropriate to process honestly in the shed, than with the flowers.

Everyone who walks by gets to see the flowers. All the friends who visit our home are invited into the living room. But who spends time in the shed?

In the most non-cheesy way possible, I want to say, that Jesus spends time in the shed.

It's where the paint and the paintbrushes are stored, the drop cloths and rollers. The tools needed to make that bright bedroom the most perfect shade of blue-gray-teal-white. It's where the plant food and seeder and mower live, waiting and ready to do the work required for a glorious yard.

The house. The yard. None of it happens without the shed.

And after hearing my friend speak about how Jesus uses the hard to bring him glory, to bring connection and healing, I'm sitting here, looking around this space of ruggedness, of unkemptness and work, and realizing it's here, that he'll work.

The pain itself doesn't bring God glory. Another friend has been reminding recently me that pain does not simply go away. It is either transformed, or transmitted, but one way or another, something happens with it.

And transformation of the broken, can only come through Christ. The one who came to redeem. The one who makes all things new.

Transformation of the pain through Christ. That brings him glory.

And believing that. Trusting Jesus to come into the shed with me. To see past the beauty of the yard and the house, the witty banter and playful conversation. To see me. To know he sees me and to know that he still loves me. That is the work of a profound grace.

That's the true and only way forward.

So here I am. Doing this work with him. Going to battle against the demons of hell, and boldly (not so boldly) proclaiming that hope comes through the resurrection of Jesus. My savior and my king. To bring him glory.

And feeling grateful that he knows. That he is. That he's here. And I'm not alone.


Lesson Learned: Sheds.


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