Do You Have 17 Inches?

It is said that Emily Dickinson, who wrote over 1,800 poems in her day, did so while sitting at a simple wooden 17-inch desk in her bedroom. Her desk and chair faced a window which opened to the flower gardens right outside  her home.  

Seventeen inches. 

Not a custom built-in. 

Not a family heirloom roll-top.

Not from within a personal home-library.

Not among other scholars and colleagues.

Seventeen inches.

Not the latest IKEA built-in. 

Not from within a custom she-shed in your back-yard. 

Not with a Facebook group of like-minded creatives.

Just 17 inches.

There were times, years ago when my children were very young, it felt like a luxury or a non-essential to find time and space to pour out my thoughts into creative work. It felt selfish, self-indulgent, unnecessary, and wasteful. It actually felt impossible at times. 

However, I began to realize that those descriptors are only true if that is the posture of my heart, (and that is entirely possible, let me be clear).  Instead I began to see th…

Mercy: thoughts & a song based on Psalm 23

Update: I wrote this post over two weeks ago.  Little did I know within minutes of hitting 'publish', the mercy of God would chase me down in a very specific way. In a way I knew I desperately needed but didn't know how to ask for. The mercy of God through Jesus is real, unrelenting and good. Always.

Psalm 23 is probably one of most well known passages in Scripture both by the believing world and secular alike. But it's also one that has brought intense comfort to the same respectively, over the ages. At first glance it makes sense's a beautiful image drawn by the Psalmist David, using the metaphor of sheep and their shepherd as mankind with God. 

But what's more is that this brief passage, only six verses, contains the scope of a man's life.  Periods of dark, near-death experiences, even being disciplined and trained by the Shepherd, are sandwiched between the proclamation of…

Safe & Familiar

My older two just spent a week overnight at camp. Granted, this is the same camp we work at, and it is only 10 minutes away, but this was the first time they'd been away from home for this many days, so this was a big deal. I knew they'd have a blast.  I had no problem dropping them off. I knew I had seen enough maturity in them to know they could self-regulate to a degree on their own, they could follow instructions and avoid death for the most part;)

I had braced myself for picking them up this morning, knowing that I was about to gain back two exhausted, hyper, full-of-stories, and perhaps crabby kiddos.  I wanted to be as patient and loving as possible with the transition home and into normalcy....something I needed grace for.  
What I didn't realize is how ready they truly would be to come home. Of course they're catching me up on camp stories about games experienced, songs learned, one-on-ones with counselors, Bible teaching lessons, funny cabin moments, and tough…

New Song: Humanity

Over the past 4-5 years God has been sensitizing my mind and heart to seek out what empathy for others looks like and how that should impact the way I live among others in my community, my country, this world.  I've been challenged in thinking about empathy in light of listening to others' stories, hearing a point of view I know nothing of, and really seeing someone as an image bearer of God.  I have not mastered this. In fact, I really feel I'm still at the tip of the ice-berg in understanding and living out what this looks like.  I suppose we all are.

This past year I've been listening to the Cultivated Podcast and recently listed to the 2-part interview with Christian author and thought-leader, Andy Crouch. In it he discusses a broad range of his experiences from playing piano in an all black gospel church as a young white seminary student, to writing and editing for major magazine Christianity Today, to developing a heart for and writing about issues of justice.

A co…

New Song: The Well

Song Inspiration
For the past year I've been teaching a study on Identity in Christ for our mom's ministry group at our local church. It's a study that evolved over time through my own personal study, and then morphed into a formal arrangement of lessons as the committee asked me last year to formulate curriculum suited for our group this year.  

There are a thousand subtle and not-so-subtle ways we find our identity in things that will not fully, or eternally satisfy.  Over the course of the year we kept revisiting this idea found in Jeremiah, of how we wrongly seek out satisfaction through other things when Christ Himself is the only One who can fill the empty spaces inside us.  

Jeremiah 2:13
"For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water."

I've been on a personal journey with this over the last couple years myself; learning to run to…

Weekend Songwriting

Sometimes songs are written from pieces and fragments pulled together from the notebook in my purse.. from last week's thoughts, or last month's sermon, or things I've been teaching others all year, while learning them for myself in cycles. 

And sometimes I have to scratch out things I thought were super brilliant, because in the end they were actually horrible. I'm in the middle of all of that right now on a song I've been putting off getting out of my head for months.  I'm trying to resist the excitement of "finishing a song", and instead am making sure each line, each phrase, each word and each part of the melody is the best that I can write right now.  

If you're a song-writer, or creative of any nature, do you tend to rush to finish your song (or project), though not your best work, or do you labor over it so much in perfection that it you never complete and release it?  I'm working on the balance :)

Retuned Hymn: John Newton - Olney Hymn #66

Some of the work I am a part of at my local church includes leading others in worship through song, and some of it also includes collecting meaningful, gospel-centered songs + readings for others to share during the offering portion of the worship service. Recently I was introduced to this site, which houses the full collection of John Newton and William Cowper's Olney Hymnal.
The Olney Hymnal is a collection of songs written by Newton and Cowper for their small, rural church in the late 1700s. The songs were written with the people of the community in mind who were mostly poor, lower class, and uneducated. They wanted the songs to be accessible to the average person in their community (I love this by the way - they considered their people and wrote with them in mind!)
I dare not put myself in the same category as their work, but am simply giving myself the challenge of re-tuning a handful of the Olney Hymns over time. I have grown to LOVE what the people of Indelible Grace are doin…