A friend of mine is on vacation with her family. She updated her facebook status that they were in a hotspot for fantastic views, but couldn’t see them because of a dense fog. I commented, a more subtle kind of beauty.

And since then I’ve been thinking of different kinds of beauty – of skies angry with storm clouds; of reflected light and peeling paint; of dirty, happy children; of the pattern of raindrops on a window pane …

… and of Jesus, man of sorrows, who had no beauty to draw men to himself, but whose perfect life of kindness and compassion is so beautiful that it makes my heart ache to think of it.

I want to learn to see beauty where few others even attempt.

I want my life to reflect the beauty of Jesus so strongly that others are drawn to him even when they don’t understand.

I want my appreciation of the beauty of this life to be easy, and natural, and thankful, and glorifying to the Author of beauty.

it’s a funny mix of 20 and 40

no less dreams

but more reality

seems like yesterday

forever ago

a blink

a lifetime, it’s always been so

exactly the same

changed beyond recognition

what will the second half bring?

My son has Cerebral Palsy (that’s early onset brain injury to the uninitiated). He depends on a wheelchair and is non-verbal. In a way, this reality in our family has always isolated us from the typical western church social structure. We can’t always attend church family events, because access or environment makes it difficult for Isaac. For a while, when he was a very emotionally unstable pre-teen, my husband and I even attended separate church services because Isaac was too disruptive to attend and there was no one to watch him.

It was ok. I’m not complaining. We made it work for us. But it has made me sensitive to the broken people …

The physically disabled, like Isaac – people who don’t come to church because the physical or social structures won’t accommodate them.

Those whose lives have been broken through addictions – people who may not come to church for fear of not fitting in.

The relationally broken – single parents who are outside because they don’t fit the Sunday morning mold of two smiling parents and 2.3 freshly scrubbed children. Mothers who have lost custody of their children. Runaways. Prostitutes.

The economically broken – people who may shun church because they can’t afford the “right” clothes, or car, or the “suggested donation” for lunch, or the fee to send their kid to camp.

I ask the following question of church goers out there: What are we going to do about the broken people?

I have some ideas – but I’m only going to mention one – one that is close to my heart and experiences.

Even though, as a church, you are not required to meet ADA (American Disabilities Act) specifications in your building, do it anyway. Build ramps, install elevators, designate wheelchair seating, provide space and opportunities for families to worship together. If you’re raising money for a building project, don’t start building until you have enough money for ramps and elevators …

Neglecting to do so sends the wrong message. It says …

  • we don’t see you
  • we don’t value you
  • we don’t want you

Exactly the opposite of the message of the gospel …

This post is my contribution to a group writing project at Bloggers Unite to promote the empowerment of people with disabilities.

On July 21st, 2006, four years ago today, my beloved daddy died. In the spring of 2007, just a few months later, I started blogging. The two things are inextricably linked.

After several months of mentally curling up into a ball and wanting not to be … I needed a place to think what I was thinking; to feel what I was feeling; and to question what I was questioning.

This blog became that for me … and more:

  • It helps me be who I am and become who I am becoming
  • It helps me to feel what I feel
  • It helps me question what I believe and remember what I know
  • It takes me deeper into myself; into God; into living

In a way … it saved (and is saving) my life.

Maybe you think that’s a bit dramatic, a bit over the top … but what I was doing in the latter months of 2006 wasn’t living … it was existing, marking time. And who knows how long that limbo would have lasted, but my very good friend and spiritual mentor, Jon, suggested that I take up blogging – and I started writing …

  • and talking
  • and praying
  • and responding
  • and feeling
  • and healing

And even these days, from this healthier place, the weeks and months when I don’t have time (or think I don’t have time) to write, I start to free fall back into that half-life … existing without living.

** This post is an entry in the can writing keep us well – group project hosted by Confident Writing.

I know that it’s a little off-kilter to be writing a goals post in July – but for me, I’ve decided that July is the new January.

I’m a teacher and Christmas break is just enough time to catch my breath – to recover from an arduous semester of teaching – no time to write goals, much less to live them out in January, right when the insanity begins again full force.

But now … now I’ve been off for a month. I’ve had time to think and to veg and to watch too much tv; time to do a little desultory house cleaning and cook some actual meals in between the frozen pizzas and the fish sticks; time to remember that time is running out. My brain is officially revived … revived sufficiently to choose my three words for 2011 …

And they are …

Drum roll please …

just do it
This life is a funny tension between look ahead and live now and I’m longing for a better balance between the two. I want to keep working toward my dreams, but live in the moment and experience now.

Right now, Robb and I are teacher/missionaries in Portugal (read about it here), but we don’t believe it is forever … so, looking ahead, I see two things: professional writing (and maybe speaking) and ministry among refugees and immigrants.

Two things to just do

  • submit a minimum of 2 articles per month for publication (print or web)
  • get certified to teach English as a Foreign Language (BONUS – this fulfills both look ahead and live now!)

The other side of just do it is to stop procrastinating:

  • don’t save that email to deal with later – just do it
  • write that birthday card today
  • clean up the supper dishes now
  • put the clothes away immediately
  • read or delete
  • don’t think about, write about, talk about, obsess about what I should be doing as wife/mother/teacher/friend; just do it … or let it go.

Check back in January … maybe by then I’ll have made some progress.

… I turn off the engine, open the door, pick up my briefcase … I don’t remember the drive … did I notice the ocean … hey, it’s kinda windy today …

Arriving to work on autopilot.

… back home … laundry, check … start dinner, check … homework, check … dishes, check … fall into bed and start all over again.

Autopilot is the enemy that robs my soul of the satisfaction of a life filled with hard work, meaningful relationships, family, faith, friends, music, words, ideas, dancing, laughter. When I’m on autopilot, I forget to see the people in front of me; I forget to breathe the fresh air and smell the rain-kissed earth; I forget to taste the food; feel the raindrops; relish the hugs; I forget the blessing.

Autopilot sucks.

It’s like when you’re reading a book and you get to the end of the page and realize that you have no idea what you’ve just read. Your heart wasn’t in it; your mind wasn’t on it.

That’s no way to read a story.

And it’s certainly no way to live a story. Unlike my book, I can’t go back and re-read my life. I need to pay attention this time.

No more autopilot.

This post is an entry in The Importance of Story over at Chris Brogan’s blog.

Last week we took the girls to the zoo (read about it here). Toward the end of our day, we went to the dolphin show. As we were waiting (in the front row) for the show to begin, I was watching the dolphins swim serenely around the tank … while simultaneously being bombarded by the noise of about 30 pre-schoolers in yellow hats (eventually we moved up a little). Most of the noise was about where to sit. Some of the kids wanted to sit up higher, while others thought it would be better to sit lower. And they were all operating under the assumption that the loudest voice wins.

In the background you can see a different, green-hatted group ...

You can see a similar, green-hatted group in the background here ...

But I was sitting there, marking the difference between what was happening in front of me and what was happening behind me. And I was thinking … I want to live where the dolphins are swimming. They aren’t worried about what they might miss later; they are enjoying what they are doing right now. They don’t seem to be crying for the wide ocean they’ve lost; they are enjoying the refreshing pool they have now. They aren’t chattering and arguing and complaining; they are swimming, and smiling, and enjoying.

  • Maybe I can spend less time worrying about what I might miss, and more time enjoying what I have.
  • Maybe I can spend less time thinking about what I don’t have and more time enjoying the ocean of blessings surrounding me.
  • Maybe I can spend less time complaining and arguing and convincing, and more time listening, and smiling, and enjoying.

Oh, and I think I want to start swimming again …

This is the second in a series of posts about following Jesus in rest.

For the first, go here.

In Matthew chapter 3, we find Jesus going to John the Baptist … to be baptized!

It occurs to me to wonder, why did Jesus do this? Baptism is an outward symbol of inward repentance, a burying of the old self and a birth of the new. Since Jesus had never sinned, he had nothing to repent of. John knew this. He asks Jesus, why are you here? I need to be baptized by you!

Jesus answer is that it is right to do this to fulfill all righteousness. In other words, this is how God planned it from the beginning, so this is how we’re going to do it. Jesus knows that it is not wise to try to get ahead of God, to second guess, to try to do things in one’s own way and in one’s own strength. He has waited, honoring his family commitments until this moment, the right time, the right place. Jesus knew that there is a proper order to things and it is best left to God the Father. Jesus rested in the timing of God. Can we do that? Can we trust God enough to wait? To know that he has amazing things in store for us and blessings that we can’t even imagine?

If we wait and trust … we rest.

If we strive and push and manipulate … we stress.

Additionally, we see the Spirit descending on Jesus … clearly the rest of God is facilitated by the Spirit. The more we walk with the Spirit … the more restful we will find our lives.

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve been working my way through a devotional by Alicia Britt Chole called “Intimate Conversations”. Today’s excerpt was based on the concept of providing for rest and margin in one’s life. This seemed to me especially fitting since it is the beginning of my spring break. I decided to take these as my theme verses for spring break.

Alica suggests that the reader “learn from” Jesus by reading through the gospels and getting a sense of the flow of Jesus life. How did he rest? How was his yoke easy? With all the demands on his life, how did he keep from becoming frazzled and burned out?

I thought it would be a great exercise and decided to read through Matthew with that aim and to share it here, with those of you who are still reading despite my seriously sporadic publishing.


In Matthew chapters 1 and 2, of course, Jesus is not teaching anything yet; but I note two things:

First, whenever God told Joseph to go … he went. Immediately and without question. It must not have been particularly restful at the time … but from it I conclude that it is more restful to say yes to God than no. (Just make sure it IS God you are saying yes to and not your colleague, your pastor, your Sunday School Superintendent … ).

Second, Jesus is given many names in this short chapter. He is Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins (1:21); He is Immanual, God with us (1:23); and in chapter 2 verse 6 He is identified as the Shepherd of Israel.

Jesus had a destiny to fulfill, a purpose for being on this earth. I imagine that, at least in part, His serenity came from living in that purpose and letting nothing distract Him from fulfilling that destiny. Part of our journey on earth surely must be to discover that purpose, that thing which God has prepared in advance for us to do, and living in it. It sounds restful, doesn’t it?

My name (Anna) means grace … which is kinda funny, because I’m a little clumsy. But I am growing into my name spiritually – becoming more and more able to offer grace instead of judgement, to give others the benefit of the doubt, to begin to see people the way Jesus sees them. But the Bible says that the one who overcomes will get a new name (Rev. 2:17). Perhaps, our journey on earth is to become fitted for that new name, and as we become more and more aware of who God has made us to be, and as we conform more and more to that name, we experience more and more of that elusive rest that is spoken of in Matthew …

… what do you think?

help me
i feel far away
and empty


you are near
when I don’t feel it


as the Father has love me
so I have loved you


help me


by: anna lenardson