- 2017Jan 10
"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19
There are those times in life where it feels you are being given a fresh start and an opportunity to reset, reflect, and move forward again from a different perspective. My family and I have been given one of those opportunities through a move to a house in the country.
We had been looking to move for some time, and when this particular opportunity came up it seemed too good to be true: not far from where we currently live, but far enough to be away from the hustle and bustle, nestled on a quiet country road with lots of space for our kids to roam and explore. We moved in around the first of the year, which makes our resolutions to purge and minimize much easier and much more urgent as we continue to decide what stays and what goes.
The views are beautiful, there are good places for writing, for drinking coffee, for writing while drinking coffee, trees for climbing, fields for running, and wildlife all around. I have always been a typical suburbanite, more accustomed to concrete than grass, and know next to nothing about country life. The world that involves managing acres of land, propane tanks, pole barns, and wondering what to do with a water well and the septic system are all new territory to me, but that is also part of the allure. Here I find a chance to learn and appreciate something new as we start this new year.
Among our first joys in this cozy country house was meeting our nearest neighbors, whom we have affectionately named Ozzie and Harriet. These two Cardinals appeared at our window right away, as if to welcome us to the neighborhood, and have appeared every day since. Each morning without fail we watch them perch outside our window for a few moments to say hello, and then they are off to chase one another around the yard, until finally landing on their favorite tree branch out back. They have been around the house longer than I have, and I hope they are willing to show me the ropes on how all this country life is supposed to happen.
I'm more than a little excited to spend my time by the window watching the adventures of these two love birds as they watch our family continue on this new adventure of our own. I get the feeling that while we are watching them, just maybe they are watching us as well with just a bit of curiosity, waiting to see how things turn out for the new family on the other side of the window. It will be exciting to see what 2017 holds for our us and for our new friends Ozzie and Harriet.
- 2016Dec 10
How does a blog post go viral? You just might be surprised. Last December I was watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas' with my kids, and realized that Linus drops his blanket, or rather flings it, at the exact moment he says, “fear not” while reciting the Christmas story from Luke 2.
It was fantastic! I had never noticed it before. I wondered, had anyone? I let my kids finish the show, (who am I kidding, they let me finish the show) then after rewinding it a few times I was amazed at the symbolism that had been hiding there for 50 years, and decided it was certainly worth sharing. I took about half an hour to write about it, posted it on my website for my family and co-workers to read, and went back about my usual business of drinking coffee and doing whatever else it is that I do.
The next morning, I was shocked to see that over 100 people had already shared it! Soon it was 500. Then it was 1,000. A few days later it was on crosswalk.com, then The Gospel Coalition, then Lifeway, then it was being discussed on radio stations in places I had never been before, trending it’s way around social media and just about every other Christian media outlet. It wasn’t long before pastors from all over the country contacted me to ask if they could share this article with their churches on Christmas Eve, and I can think of no higher honor than that.
This insight about Linus and his blanket continues to be shared more times and in more places than I can even keep track of at this point. It is exciting that it has been so relevant to so many people, but I think I'm starting to know why.
First, the timing of when Linus drops the blanket is just super cool. Although we may never know if Charles Schulz put it there intentionally, it seems difficult to believe he didn’t. The blanket drop allows us watch a classic favorite in a new way, with new emotions and deeper insights added to the strong feelings we already had about it. As a guy who worked for years as an English teacher, this is golden.
Secondly, it is a strong visual reminder of the false security we all so desperately cling to, and how we can let go of it. Our world is undeniably filled with fear. We fear for our kids, we fear for ourselves, we fear the other political party, we fear the future, we fear uncertainty, we fear losing, we fear failure, we fear being misunderstood, we fear what others may think, we fear a lot of things.
The year that has passed since I wrote “Drop The Blanket” has been filled with all kinds of things to cause fear and insecurity. A year later, we have to ask, are we still holding on those false securities and fears, or have we learned to drop the blanket and trust in the angelic message to “Fear Not!"? I am thankful that this long ago message of the Saviour's birth is still wonderfully true.
My big question is whether all of us who have been so impacted by Linus and his now famous ‘blanket drop’ have really been able to drop our fears throughout the year. I am amazed and honored that Drop the Blanket seems to be entering the realm of Christmas tradition for many people, but my true desire is for it to become a reminder of how to live everyday, especially when it is hard to do so. I struggle with that and I bet we all do.
But nonetheless, letting go of that security blanket every day is important. Trusting that Christ is bigger than the things that we are afraid of is important. Letting go of fear and holding on to faith is important. I need to do it. We all need to do it, and we will all be better for it. My earnest prayer for you this Christmas and in the year to come is that no matter what you may face, you will be able to daily Drop the Blanket and Fear Not.
If you have a story of how you were able to Drop the Blanket in 2016, please tell us about it it in the comments or message me on facebook. I would LOVE to hear how you have dropped whatever blanket you have been carrying!
- 2016Nov 22
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
- Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
As I read these words during the week of Thanksgiving, it reminds me that this is a perfect time to take a deep breath, both literally and figuratively. It is a good time for a 'reset', to turn our eyes away for just a moment from social media, from current events, from all the ills with which our society is afflicted, and simply pause to give thanks.
I love this letter to the Philippian church for many reasons: the church was started by Paul and Lydia; the first documented Christ follower in Europe, who also happened to be a woman. It has a theme of joy even though it was written by Paul when he was in prison. The entire letter serves as strong encouragement for whatever we are facing, but this passage in particular is a remedy for trying times.
Rejoice always! No matter how bad things seem. No matter what the future may or may not hold. No matter if things are going the way you think they should. Rejoice because you are loved by a God who is real and who cares for you more deeply than you can ask or imagine. And He has things well under control.
Let your gentleness be evident. Isn't gentleness a sign of weakness? Not at all! In a world where so many are shouting, gentleness is sign of strength, wisdom, and a fruit of the spirit. It no doubt takes the spirit of God living actively in us to allow that gentleness to be evident to all! But what blessing can come from it.
Do not be anxious about anything: The political environment, your income, your life situation, your car that isn't working right, your relationships that are faltering fast, your future possibilities even as they appear bleak. Do not be anxious about them. There is a better way.
Present your requests to God WITH THANKSGIVING! If we decide against anxiety, what are we to do with our worries? Present them to God. Lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus. Admit that our anxious worry won't accomplish anything, but through Him we can accomplish all things. He is our joy, our strength, our wisdom and our hope. He is also our only true peace.
That transcends all understanding. When I look at the troubles I face even today, I can not see a way out of them, and I can not understand how I could possibly find peace in my situation. There is nothing in my line of sight that suggests peace is even a possibility. Maybe that;s why Paul, sitting in a jail cell, reminds us that the peace God gives is beyond anything we can even understand. Which is a positive thing.
I wish you and yours a VERY HAPPY THANKSGIVING! May we turn our eyes towards the one who made us and give thanks for the breath we breathe, and for every blessing He has shown us over the past year. “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” - Charles Dickens