Eternity in Our Hearts

Bringing what endures into everyday life


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What I learned this summer {random + reflective}

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Thanks to Emily, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned this summer for, well, all summer. Emily’s Let’s Share What We Learned in (fill in the month or season) is my favorite online place to gather with fellow writers who are looking for God on the move in little and large ways. It’s not only fun, it’s good for the soul.

The worlds of politics and culture are increasingly audacious and frightening, but a curious life – one that looks for God on the move, even in ordinary places – is able to move as well, stepping forward toward hope, trusting that God is still actively working toward redemption.

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The ordinary places of our lives hold extraordinary potential when we take a break from the hustle, open our hands, and receive simple moments as reminders that God has always been in charge and finishes what He begins.

God is on the move. (2)

As I consider what I’ve learned this summer, I remember people who have inspired me, writers who have challenged me, and random things that invited me to try something new. There may or may not be pictures, as in # 1 –

1) I learned how to boogie-board. In the ocean y’all. Those who know me well may find this a little surprising because I’m not very adventurous when it comes to water and sand in unintended places. But the opportunity to laugh & play with my girl was worth every bit of awkward. I actually “rode” a few waves successfully, but let’s all be thankful that our best moments can happen without a camera. Just trust me in this.

2) As I wrote last time, I learned the importance of traveling light as we ventured out internationally. Since then, I’ve been introduced to the idea of rideable suitcases. Have you seen this?

Anyhow, the current version of rideable suitcase has less packing room than a carry-on, so perhaps it fits within my pursuit of simplicity after all (that’s what I tell myself because I think this looks fun in a ridiculous kind of way).

No matter the type of suitcase, I’m still hopeful that traveling light is possible in everyday life, even in a culture where more is seemingly better. Which leads us to #3 …

3) Did you know that there are now at least 20 varieties of Oreos, from classic to cinnamon bun to Swedish Fish? My daughter and I counted. We took pictures.

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Yet, as you know, simplicity isn’t about Oreos. If you have a passion for blueberry pie Oreos, there’s no judgment here. (Full disclosure  – I caved to the Key Lime Pie Oreo. It’s pretty tasty.) I can’t see our culture backing away from the pursuit of more, but I can think about how I respond.

Earlier in the summer, I heard a pastor speak on the “tyranny of choice,” a phrase which intrigued me. So I googled “tyranny of choice” and discovered 13,300,000 results (which, in itself, is kinda ironic). Anyway, research studies consistently conclude that the “more is better” assumption actually increases the potential for disappointment and regret.

The “tyranny of choice” theory makes sense to me. Even more, it confirms that the Holy Spirit knows our hearts and understands the temptation as old as Eden to experience more, be more, own more.

There is Spirit-inspired, and counter-cultural, wisdom in the Apostle Paul’s teaching to be content in all things.

Philippians 4: 12 – 13 ~ I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do this through Him who gives me strength.

1 Timothy 6: 6 – 7 ~ But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Now I don’t think that traveling light requires me to shun unique flavors of Oreos. I can enjoy a Caramel Apple Oreo (doubtful) without throwing the weight of happiness-expectations upon it. I know it’s a silly example, but perhaps we do the same with clothes, cars, houses?

There’s a balance here somewhere. I want to be a little wiser, a little more aware about my response to “stuff” in general. I long for the peace of fully trusting that God provides my portion (see Psalm 16:5), and that’s joyfully enough for me.

4) While waiting in a doctor’s office, I flipped through a Martha Stewart magazine where I spotted these ideas for DIY jewelry organizers. I love repurposing things, so I painted a spool rack, and now I have a new way to keep my necklaces and bracelets in one, neat place.

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5) Early in the summer, our family enjoyed a beach trip, a mission trip to Albania, and then a side trip to Austria and Germany within one month. Then we stayed home for the rest of the summer, for obvious reasons! So, to keep the spirit of learning and curiosity going, we became hometown tourists. In Davidson, a small town nearby, we visited the old-timey Soda Shop and the South Main Sweet Shop where my daughter entered one of those guess-the-number-of-candies-in-the-jar contests.

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In this case, the candies were those teeny cinnamon red-hots. And about a week later, my daughter received a phone call to let her know that she was the undisputed winner of the contest because she guessed the number exactly at 282 red hots!

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In Davidson’s Rumor Mill Market of local artisans, we stumbled upon a desk that fit what my daughter has had in mind for a while now. Bonus – the price finally fit what I had in mind 🙂

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To match the white/gold theme in her room, we learned how to paint furniture, thanks to The Nester’s How to Paint Furniture Like a Real Pro. (It’s not as difficult as I thought, though we may or may not have taken some short-cuts).

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In Waxhaw, another small town outside of Charlotte, we visited Jolly Rolls ice cream where they make your custom flavor while you watch. I picked Key Lime Pie (obviously), so my server chopped up a piece of pie, poured cream over it, spread the mixture out over a cold slab, and scraped it up into yummy rolls.

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We took Mom to see Sister Act at our hometown theatre (Central Piedmont Community College) where we enjoyed a great evening filled with talent and laughter – and prayer 🙂

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I believe anything can be a spiritual discipline when we recognize the presence of God with us in it. So whether you moved here just last month or if you were born in the hospital down the street – this place is part of who you are now. This place holds your story, at least a piece of it. This is the place where God wants to meet you, for better or worse.

One way to honor the place where you are is to tour it on purpose.” ~ Emily P. Freeman

6) One of my favorite stories in Scripture is that of Jesus’ visit to the home of Mary and Martha. I’ve long identified with Martha, who grew frustrated with her frenzied meal preparations while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, absorbing his teaching. As I reread the passage in Luke 10, I noticed some wording that I hadn’t noticed before … Verse 38 says, “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.”

Because I struggle with hospitality, it struck me that Martha opened her home to Jesus but not her heart (in this moment). Like Martha, I push myself to make everything just so when I open my home. I thought this is what hospitality looked like. But sometimes I wonder if just so is more about my need for approval and less about my guests. Distractedness and perfection prevent me from opening my heart to them (and this isn’t what love looks like). This summer, I’ve discovered GraceTable, an online community that reassures me that hospitality isn’t perfection but presence:

“We believe that the hospitality Christ calls us to is one of brave surrender–a willingness to open our hearts and homes to people who may or may not fit neatly into our personal categories. (Romans 12:13) … This table is for the expert chefs and the microwave queens. Hospitality isn’t about what or how you eat–it’s about setting the table with love.”

7) You know that notification symbol at the top of your Facebook feed – the one that looks like a (flat) globe?

I learned that when you travel to another part of the world, it changes with you. When we were in Austria, I noticed that the continent switched from the Americas to Europe. I found this surprising, then – duh – obvious, and then sorta creepy.

8) One of my favorite summer-reads was Ian Morgan Cron’s Chasing Francis, a novel about a pastor who loses all the “answers.”

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During a pilgrimage to Italy, Pastor Chase explores the spiritual legacy of Saint Francis of Assisi who was a humble yet powerful, enduring voice for peace and justice. Francis sought to follow the Savior’s way of sacrifice at a time when the Church was consumed with self-serving opulence and power. In Cron’s novel, the disillusioned pastor’s faith is invigorated through Saint Francis’ passion to see Christ-followers serving as His hands and feet to the least of these.

Francis’ words still challenge the living Church today –

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor. Amen.

8) I love inspiring quotes, so I conclude (finally, I know; it’s what-I-learned-this-summer after all) with new (to me) favorites:

“Sometimes our journeys need airplanes and sometimes they are quiet, 30-minute walks in our neighborhood so we can clear our heads and figure out what it means to be rooted — wherever we are.” Ashley Hales

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Anger at the way things are, and Courage to see to it that they don’t remain the way they are.” Saint Augustine

“Here’s Francis’ strategy–if you want to critique something, just do it better. Don’t go off at the mouth criticizing everything that’s wrong with the Church. Just do it better. Let the excellence of your life be your highest form of protest.” Ian Morgan Cron

“Faith is the only way of knowing that is also patient with not knowing.” Richard Rohr

It’s the differences between us that make us a Body and not a uniform.” Ann Voskamp

We position ourselves to be better listeners–we more easily set aside our assumptions and anger and start to ask questions with an intent to understand what is unfamiliar to us … We can only start the process here…real change has to happen in our communities and neighborhoods. As I heard Pastor Derwin Gray say once, “Proximity brings empathy.” Trillia Newbell

Thanks for reading, my friends. I’d love to hear what you’ve learned this summer. What did you read, discover, or see with new eyes? Let me know in the comments below!

And check out Emily’s link-up to explore what other writers are sharing about their random & reflective lessons from the summer.

 


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Simply curious and curiously simple

When summer began, I didn’t think about simplicity and curiosity like I do now, as summer nears its end. Sure, every time I rummaged deep through my closet, I thought about the need to clean out. But simplicity as an overall priority wasn’t in the summer plans.

And why would I think about curiosity? I guess it crossed my mind occasionally when my daughter was little and asked “Why?” probably a million times, as all curious children do. I suppose that many people think of curiosity as generally nosy and potentially irritating (not to mention dangerous for cats).

But when I consider what I’ve learned this summer, simplicity and curiosity are the recurring themes – which seems odd, given that I conceptualize the two as almost opposites. Simplicity, to me, seems a minimalistic quality, while curiosity is expansive. If simplicity is focused like a microscope, then curiosity is exploratory like a telescope.

Yet, I’ve discovered that these qualities, in tandem, are lenses through which I see more of God.

One of the more important lessons showed up on the summer curriculum when my husband, daughter, and I told our friends how much luggage we were planning to carry around Europe for 2 weeks. My heart sunk when they told us that, basically, we were nuts.

I’ve never traveled lightly. As I pack, my mind creates a plan for every “what if” I can think of.

If only I had been a Boy Scout, I could take the “Be Prepared” motto to a new level. Travel with me, and I’m willing to lug all the snacks, hair gel, Tide-To-Go, first-aid supplies, and ponchos that we could ever need.

Pack lighter, our friends said.

You won’t be able to walk quickly between train, bus, and subway stations.

You need to limit yourselves to a carry-on each.

Quite reluctantly we went home to unpack all the things we wanted and repack only the things we needed. This required a wrestling match between what could go and what must stay home.

During our trip, I discovered a lesson that traveling writer Tsh Oxenreider has known for a while: “There’s a beauty to curating our life’s needs to the basic essentials. There’s a step of faith involved when you decide to leave behind those socks in order to make room for that swimsuit” (In my case, room would be made for snacks). You can read the rest of Tsh’s post on traveling light {here}.

The Febreeze fabric refresher made the cut, thankfully, so I doused my outfits in Linen Fresh every time I wore them (repeatedly). We ate unfamiliar but delicious food, and the packed nibbles weren’t necessary after all. And we managed the buses, trains, and subways while looking as little like tourists as possible (well, that’s not completely accurate but, hey, we tried).

Lesson learned. I really can simplify and survive. I wanted to come home and streamline.

As I considered what to release, I decided that my newly acquired spirit of curiosity was worth keeping. For two weeks, in the midst of Austrian Alps, German rolling hills, and Albanian countryside, I marveled at the Creator’s glorious touch upon the amazing people, stories, and sights we encountered on our journey.

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Before Salzburg, I didn’t think I’d be all that interested in Mozart’s birthplace, his life, or his classical works. But I realized there that Mozart’s musical masterpieces bear witness to the One who composed heavenly melodies before violins and pianos existed.

My awareness of God’s glory was undoubtedly influenced by my surroundings. But could it be that wonder arises less from place and more from perspective?

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I’ve started to think of curiosity as a posture of open-handedness in which we release our grasp on the urgent things in order to freely receive the essential things. Traveling light increases our capacity for exploration, and simplicity creates space for curiosity to fill.  I long to live open-handed, in hopeful expectancy as I release and receive as God wills. Then He stretches my faith in His limitless possibility. Open-handed anticipation seems, to me, the essence of worship.

Even though, years ago, my little girl’s bevy of questions irritated me at times, they endeared me to her childlike spirit. I remember her delight in discovery, her ability to be awed. This is the sort of faith which children of God aren’t meant to outgrow.

We’re born with an innate curiosity that compels us to explore, marvel, and believe there is more to life … I don’t want us to just be curious about God; I want us to be curious for more of Him. I believe that the goodness and wonders of God can amaze us, but it’s our curiosity for more of Him that propels us forward to experience more of His presence in our lives (Logan Wolfram, Curious Faith).

So I have begun to see curiosity as the anticipation of God’s movement. This can happen as I wash dishes at my sink and watch the butterflies dance with the flowers and the hummingbirds hover and dart, jockeying for position at the feeder.

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As these miniature wonders capture my attention, the Holy Spirit reminds me that the Heavenly Father is mindful of the tiniest of creatures and He’s promised to be all the more trustworthy for His children. And He never grows weary or irritable with our pursuit of Him.

God’s patience toward our curiosity remains constant even when our childlike faith is obscured with hard questions. Even as I long to travel lightly, I can’t dismiss the heaviness in our world – in my own soul.

I started blogging after my father was diagnosed with cancer. Although I had followed Christ for most of my life, I was never awed in anticipation of Heaven, to be honest. Maybe it’s kinda boring, I thought … Maybe things of this world have more excitement to offer.

But Daddy died, and to have any comfort at all, I started reading and writing about eternity.  I was curious for eternity. And curiosity offered forward movement.

Grief was my companion but powerless to keep me stuck in despair.  As I learn to be awed by the Lord of eternity in the here and now, this moving forward with hope cannot fail.

When I take time to really seek and consider the greatness of our God as He shows Himself on earth, I am increasingly certain that His eternal presence is anything but boring.

In A Hunger for God, John Piper writes: “If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because we have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”

Curiosity, in my mind, is the drinking deeply, and simplicity is the making room for the great. Together, they satisfy a thirsty pilgrim who learns to travel lightly.

May we not stuff our souls, like we stuff suitcases, with so many small things that we become distracted and burdened and miss the great things. Margins built into each day allow us to pause and breathe and seek God in the marvelous and in the mundane. This requires some unpacking of what we want and repacking of what we need (which I suspect is what we want most of all.)

Maybe this means that we unload unnecessary material possessions or a people-pleasing mentality or a tendency toward comparison or a reluctance to forgive.

And we repack a curiosity that turns us toward one another. If we become more genuinely curious about our neighbors and their perspectives, strengths, wounds, and needs, perhaps that curiosity will birth compassion in our souls, rather than competition or criticism. It gives us a lenses through which we see God’s glorious image in His children. May we hunger to observe and to listen and to understand and to love and to experience the manifestation of God’s glory in this way.

God’s table is offered here for all of us, here and now. Let’s meet one another in this spacious place to be simply curious and curiously simple for Him, and our brothers and sisters, together.

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Here are my favorite resources for traveling light and staying curious:

The Art of Simple by Tsh Oxenreider and a community of people who define “simple living” this way: living holistically with your life’s purpose.

Curious Faith: Rediscovering Hope in the God of Possibility by Logan Wolfram ~

“Sometimes we may not be able to fix what’s broken. But we can’t lose the capacity to walk curiously after the Lord just because we can’t make sense of everything that happens in a broken world. Hope and curiosity are still for us. And when we carry heavy things we have to believe that the redemptive work of the cross can and will be redemption enough. In the end, God always ends. He always restores. He always redeems.”

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Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman ~

“What if, instead of thinking we have to choose between our ordinary life and an extraordinary life, we began to realize they’re the same thing?”

“Let me hear Jesus whisper to me the lesson he taught the disciples, the one about praying for this day our daily bread, not bread to last the week. Let me believe him when he tells me the most important work I’ll do today is to receive the love he wants to give and then hand it out to others.”

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Nothing to do with algebraic formulas (or what I learned in May)

Every May, students demonstrate what they’ve learned over the course of their classes. Our daughter just completed middle school with final exams, projects, and papers. And although I wouldn’t call it a “test,” May has been a time to examine what I’ve learned too (let’s just say that, unlike my daughter, it has absolutely nothing to do with algebraic formulas).

As I wrote in my what-I-learned-in-April post, spring is usually my favorite season of the year, but it’s been far from usual – meaning down in my soul. And May has been even more difficult.

But thanks to Emily (who asks us to share what we learn each month) and Candace Payne (aka Chewbacca lady), I’m learning to look for light-hearted, simple pleasures that might seem quite ordinary but which hold the potential to infuse gratitude, laughter, creativity, and beauty into daily life.

As Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” So here are a few random, creative, and soul-good things – with a couple of more serious reflections mixed in – that I’ve learned in May …

1 – Brian Hull is an amazing talent. Love, love this! I can’t decide which Disney/Pixar character in this version of Hello is my favorite. Watch and let me know which one you like the best …

2 – From the Disney Style website, you can download printable templates to decorate graduation caps (on the top of the mortar board). The designs feature The Incredibles, UP, The Lion King, and Tangled. Since the templates were introduced, creative grads from the class of 2016 have been sending in their own designs, including caps inspired by Peter Pan and Finding Nemo. You can see them {here.}

I’m thinking a Star Wars inspired cap would be far, far away the coolest.

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3 – There are 915,103,765 ways to combine a mere six, eight-stud LEGO bricks. What? This cannot be right. I simply can’t wrap my wee brain around this fact, but I read it on a visit to a Lego-inspired sculpture garden. I googled to confirm, and sure enough, a professor from the University of Copenhagen took 21 days to come up with all the formations. He estimates that it would take hundreds of years to determine all the combinations using nine or ten bricks.

So if you need an inexpensive idea to occupy your kids this summer, there you go.

4 – Brookgreen Gardens, where the Lego sculptures are on display, is a beautiful place to visit, if you’re ever in the Myrtle Beach, SC area. The hydrangea gardens are in full bloom in May. We met some barn animals too, including my favorite – a bashful little lamb.

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5 – A new study finds that engaging in the arts actively (writing, painting, cooking, singing) or receptively (listening to music, visiting a museum) for 2 hours per week improves overall mental health. I believe that the creator God wired us, in His image, with creative natures that find deep joy in reflecting and enjoying the processes of making things new.

There is always something to be thankful for. (2)

 

6 – March 17, 2017 is.the.day. My daughter and I have many feelings about the release of Disney’s live action version of Beauty and the Beast.  The dark and mysterious trailer is minimally perfect.  Out of darkness Lumiere asks, “What if she’s the one?” All the chills.

 

7 – “Appointment” is a part of disappointment. Faced with a circumstance that turned the opposite of what I had hoped, my initial reaction was to feel bitter and sorry for myself. But this time, gently – because He speaks truth with love – the Holy Spirit showed me that this response, an unwillingness to open my eyes and hands to His sovereignty in every delay and unmet desire, clenches my soul into a fist. But when I turn to Jesus with weary but open hands and confess, “I need you,” He appoints peace. He supplies patience.

This is not a one-time doing. It’s my daily choice to release what I thought was better and trust in God’s best.

When I’m disappointed by another person, an open-handed response says that I trust Jesus as unchanging, sufficient, and steadfast. When I’m disappointed by unfulfilled expectations, an open-handed response says that I trust that God supplies everything I truly need. When I’m disappointed in myself, an open-handed response says that I trust that I am no higher judge than Jesus who never condemns. And when I’m disappointed in God, an open-handed response acknowledges that He is God and I am not. Each of these disappointments hold in them an appointment through which I may grow in grace, if I will choose that response.

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For Mother’s Day, my daughter made me a sugar scrub with coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. I enjoy and highly recommend it. But if you use such a scrub in the shower, be aware that it makes the floor quite slippery. I may or may not have learned this the hard way.

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Our brokenness is a better bridgefor people (2)

I had lunch for the first time with an acquaintance that I’ve known for a while. Through tears, she revealed painful secrets that I would have never suspected. As my heart ached for her, she said, “I feel funny telling you these things because you seem to have it all together.”

This stung. I’m not a person who has it all together and I don’t want to be. But I confess that I wrestle with the temptation to turn what I share on social media into a selective, filtered highlight reel. To know and be known without editing is scary. My daily life is one of hard and honest questions, weaknesses, frustrations, and sin. I don’t believe it’s always necessary to showcase these struggles on media outlets either, but somewhere there’s a delicate, discerning balance in what we reveal to the public eye.

Our time together was a reminder to reconnect with real life, face-to-face relationships. Through the rest of lunch, we had a deep-friend-level conversation about pain, community, and healing. I told my friend that I was more like her than she may have ever realized.

Sheila Walsh says, “My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.” We need to build better bridges for one another. I recently wrote a post that made me queasy and twitchy with its vulnerability. I second-guessed it a hundred times, but it became by far my most-read post, and to be honest I’m not sure how I feel about that, other than raw.

But I’m learning that pretending that we have it all together prevents us from coming together.

Together, we need Jesus and we need to see how He chooses to heal our brokenness or He chooses to use it to draw us, and a needful world, to Him.

May, you have taught me well. Somewhere deep inside, there’s a Chewbacca lady who wants to laugh out loud and linger with your lessons (no mask required).

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I’m joining the “Let’s Share What We Learned in May” discussion at Emily’s site {emilypfreeman.com} today …


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5 Random and Real-Life Things I Learned This Summer

1. I still can’t figure out exactly how a day becomes a “DAY.” Wednesday, July 30 is Paperback Book Day, Father’s-in-Law Day (oops, I missed it), and Cheesecake Day (bah, I missed it!).

So I want to know — who determines these days and how will I know when one is coming? It’s critical that Insect Repellant Awareness Day not catch me unaware again (June 3, btw).

If you never want to miss an important occasion (like Two Different Colored Shoes Day, May 3), you can check out Days of the Year to stay informed.

Oh, I did learn that in the US, a day is eligible to become a National “DAY” if an organizer can gain 100,000 signatures on an e-petition.

— Sorry, but Hairball Awareness Day is taken (April 25), but as far I can tell, Toilet Plunger Day can be totally yours. —

2. Honestly and somehow I didn’t realize the prevalence of economic orphans. After my mission trip to Albania, however, I have sweet faces etched in my mind and heart. Many of the Albanian children in the Bethany orphanage have at least one living but impoverished parent.

92% of children living in Sri Lankan orphanages are economic orphans. The percentage in Liberia is tragically higher – 98%.

Biblically, it’s not an option to look away. When adoption doors closed to my husband and me, God opened our eyes to the fulfillment of James 1:27 through other means. Looking locally is important, I think, in our own communities and in the places where children are economically orphaned. Here, there are many ways to come alongside an adopting family in their preparation, travel, and transition. And there, we can support organizations and ministries that create sustainable income and livelihood opportunities so that families can stay together.

Orphans, and would-be orphans, need us to not look away.

3. Trend alert – state pride!  I guess it’s not new to love where you live, but I see this everywhere these days – state pendants, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. This could be a bummer if your state is Colorado (and square). Here in NC, we’re catching up with our Texan friends who charted the state-pride course for us 🙂

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4. How have I never heard of the Golden Ratio? Mind-blowing! As a counselor at Genesis University camp, I learned that the golden ratio is nature’s blueprint. The composition of natural objects and their geometric shapes, radial symmetry, or natural spirals are consistent with this mathematical proportion. We find the golden ratio in insects, seashells, honeycombs, seed heads, fruit (pineapple for instance), ocean waves, flower petals, and pine cones, just to name a few.

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When God instructed Noah to build the ark (Genesis 6) and Moses to construct the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 27), He gave specific dimensions that fit the golden ratio.

AND the very design for you and for me, the DNA molecule, is based on the golden ratio.

When the most elemental structures of the world are so perfectly and consistently proportioned, it truly takes more faith to believe in randomness.

May I suggest that we choose sacredness instead? —

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Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty. The whole earth is full of His glory (Isaiah 6:3).

5. The most gripping story of the summer for me personally has prompted news reporters into my hometown.  I see them taping their reports from Nancy Writebol’s church a few miles from my house.

We know about Mrs. Writebol of Serving In Mission (SIM), along with Dr. Kent Brantly of NC-based Samaritan’s Purse, because they have chosen a path of sacrifice by ministering to ebola victims in Liberia.

We work where it’s dangerous. We work where people die, where there is great suffering,” said Ken Isaacs, representing Samaritan’s Purse.

When Mrs. Writebol’s husband was asked why he and his wife would serve where few will go he responded: “What else could we do when our King bidded us to go into this harvest field and when He said there are souls needing to hear about Christ?

With fervency, we pray for healing for Mrs. Writebol and Dr. Brantly. And yet, they have already surrendered all, having followed their Savior in the way of death. They entered a world not their home and exchanged comforts and conveniences for the sake of the Cross. Dr. Brantly requested that Mrs. Writebol receive the one ration of an experimental drug that arrived yesterday.

Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25).

Although I’ve been a Christ-follower for years it’s changing me, this hit-home-lesson of devotion to Christ and denial-to-self. The national media reports talk about a virus, and even with a heavy heart, I see victory.

There’s something else about this story that’s contagious – The Gospel is spreading.

Whatever happens this side of Heaven, Mrs. Writebol and Dr. Brantly have given what they could not have kept and gained what they will never, under any circumstances, lose.

jimelliot

Thank you for reading these serious and not-so-serious thoughts. And thank you to Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky who offers these “What I Learned in …” link-ups. Having this opportunity to share helps me to take a more wide-eyed look around my world. There is much I need to see.

Join me, and let’s widen our lens.

— What have you learned this summer? —

Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you!

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