Walking in Amazing Grace…

This is what grace does […]. Grace gives us the faith to be utterly assured of what we cannot see […]. It connects us to the invisible One in an eternal love relationship that fills us with joy we have never known before and gives us rest of heart that we would have thought impossible. And that grace is still rescuing us…  –Paul David Tripp (emphasis mine)

“Amazing Grace” is a powerful hymn. Whether I’m singing along with a congregation, singing alone, or simply reading the words, the lyrics always move me to tears.

When I watched and listened to my beautiful colleague, Julie Moore Foster, and her equally beautiful daughter soulfully sing “Amazing Grace” this morning, I was stunned into meditative silence.

Even before I reached the end, which presented a short montage of Julie’s oldest daughter’s life, I knew their singing of this song was not “just singing” but a powerful story of God’s work in the soul–His amazing grace.

They lost Témar at the beginning of 2015, a loss they walk with every day.  I “knew” Témar briefly; she was enrolled in my British Literature class her last semester of college, the semester I lost my sister. Two years later, I bonded with Hannah, the daughter featured alongside Julie in the video below, over our mutual loss of sisters.  A question in my Shakespeare course led to an intense discussion of disappointment, loss, and coping with the “most difficult” challenges of life–a moving experience that I might have the courage to share another day.

I know what it is to be saved by God’s grace, not just from sin and the ravages of this world, but rescued from the deep, murky pit of grief and despair that can suffocate and rob a life of meaning and joy. But when my mother, Julie, any mother–indeed any parent–can stand upright and sane in this messed up space where parents have to bury their children, I see clear evidence of God’s grace walking and talking among us.

Notes on the song/video: “Amazing Grace” arranged by Kelvin Wooten, Wayne Bucknor, and Julie Moore Foster. Direction and videography by William Jenkins. Audio production by WoodaWorx Productions, Inc. The song is part of Julie Moore Foster’s first album, Soul Songs. To find out more see: Soul Songs Project.

Rest. Reflect. Reset.

I lived all week for this moment, for this period of contemplation and rest.

We run ourselves ragged by going and going and going like the Energizer Bunny, but all aspects of our health require that we pause, that we tune out all the noise and allow ourselves to repair from the daily wear and tear of the week past.

For the next several hours, I am pausing to…rest, reflect, and reset.  Maybe, you’d like to join me.

Microblog Mondays: Permission to Rest

Happy New Year!

Two of my nieces shared a meme from “Quiet Quotes” today–one on Instagram, the other on Facebook. The meme reads, “Raise your hand shamelessly if you have successfully wasted the first day of 2017.”  I raised both hands because I did absolutely nothing on the first day of 2017.

Red-tailed Leopard at the Nashville Zoo

Clouded Leopard at the Nashville Zoo

I was fine with my utter slothfulness until night fell and sleep beckoned.  Then…I started thinking about all the things I could have done.

However, today has been super productive, and as I’m blazing through my to do list, I feel differently.  The “wasted first day of 2017” led to a “successful” second day of 2017.  I accomplished more today than I would have accomplished yesterday and today had I not allowed myself to simply rest.  I work (hard) constantly, often even when I’m on vacation.  I earned the “day off,” and the reality is that all the things that must be done will be done when they need to be done.  I have just about a week left of my winter vacation, and I give myself permission to rest even more if I want to.

What about you?  Do you allow yourself time out–to do nothing–to “be” in your own skin without guilt?

[Note: This year I will be participating in Microblog Mondays.  The idea is to post a short blog every Monday–from one word to eight sentences. This one is a little longer than I intended, but “short” is relative. Right?]

Divine Rest…

Closed Bridge at Ditto Landing

Closed Bridge at Ditto Landing, Huntsville, Alabama, 2016.

The whole love of the “Law” has been lavished on and has cherished the Sabbath. As the day of rest, it gives life its balance and rhythm; it sustains the week. Rest is something entirely different from a mere recess, from a mere interruption of work, from not working. A recess is something essentially physical, part of the earthly everyday sphere. Rest, on the other hand, is essentially religious, part of the atmosphere of the divine; it leads us to the mystery, to the depth from which all commandments come, too. It is that which re-creates and reconciles, the recreation in which the soul, as it were, creates itself again and catches the breath of life–that in life which is sabbatical.”
― Leo Baeck, Judaism and Christianity