Category Archives: hope

my 48th year

I’m turning forty-eight this week … again. Let me explain. For the past year, I’ve been telling folks that I’m forty-eight. I’m not kidding. Somewhere in the madness of this last year called My Life, I lost a year. So when my birthday rolls around on Thursday, really I’ll have gained a year. Make sense? Me neither. Safe to say, I have another twelve months of being forty-eight, and it’s likely to be my most productive year ever since I’ve been granted these extra 365 days of fruitfulness.

Ah . . . the blessedness of an extra year! I know. Not really, but it’s a delightful consideration, is it not? To wake up and realize you’re not as old as you feel?

Somewhere along the way, I stopped counting my years. Candles on the cake (after nearly five decades) don’t garner as much enthusiasm as they once did. Turning double-digits and turning twenty-one were milestones met with eagerness. Back then, I had an entire world in front me. At forty-eight, there’s a whole lot of world behind me—a lot of life lived, enough experiences had, mistakes made, memories collected, and highlights celebrated to fill several dozen scrapbooks.

How much more can there be?

So much more.

Consider the possibilities of an extra year. With an extra year I’ll be able to . . .

  • Have the conversations I meant to have.
  • Write the letters I meant to write.
  • Make the calls I meant to make.
  • Pray the prayers I meant to pray.
  • Give the love I meant to give.
  • Send the gift I meant to send.
  • Drive the miles I meant to drive.
  • Invest the time I meant to invest.
  • Do the work I meant to do.
  • Pursue the dreams I meant to pursue.
  • Speak the truth I meant to speak.
  • Plant the seeds I meant to plant.
  • Share the fruit I meant to share.
  • Afford the grace I meant to afford.
  • Offer the apologies I meant to offer.
  • Extend the kingdom I meant to extend.
  • Enlarge the Jesus I meant to enlarge.

Indeed, a delightful consideration. With all of these extra days added to my year, I’ve been granted the rich benefit of more—a second chance of sorts, a way to re-invest my energies and my heart in the right and good direction. There’s nothing to dread. There are only opportunities to embrace. Another year, when cast in the light of sacred potentialities, is the gift that keeps on giving long after the cake has been eaten and the balloons have deflated.

This is the blessed do-over of my 48th year. I’m so grateful for another opportunity to live the life that I meant to live last year and to do so alongside the Giver of Life who graciously grants me this privilege.

Don’t dread the candles, friends. Instead, count them. Remember them, and then get busy living the life you mean to live. I’m so honored to share my 48th year with you . . . again. As always …

Peace for the journey,

See and Believe

“Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.” –John 20:6-8


He saw and believed.

Saw what? Strips of linen and a neatly folded head wrap.

Believed what? That Jesus was no longer there. Scripture is unclear as to exactly what John believed, but it’s safe to say that he, at least, believed the earlier report from Mary that Christ was missing from the tomb. Maybe he believed more deeply, that, in fact, Jesus had been resurrected. Regardless of the depth of his belief, one thing was for certain–

Jesus was no longer in the tomb. This fact remains.

Jesus is no longer in the tomb.

Why, then, do we so often treat him as if he were still there . . . assign him to his grave, keep him locked up behind stone as the voiceless, immovable Jesus? Hesitantly, quietly we whisper our unbelief: If only he’d been the one.

I know it sounds harsh. Who of us as Christians would ever admit to keeping Christ in the tomb? I’ll admit it. Sometimes I don’t give the resurrection the respect it’s due. Every time my unbelief gets the best of me, instead of making my way to the tomb to behold Christ’s resurrection, I often make my way to the cross to take hold of his death. Certainly, both truths—the death and resurrection of my Lord—are equally important to any story of faith. But when my journey of grace stops short of the empty tomb, I’ve missed the rest of the story.

That rest of the story? Resurrected life. Life beyond the cross. Life beyond death. Life lived most radiantly and confidently because of the empty tomb.

Let us not stop short of the tomb this Lenten season. Instead, let us run alongside Peter and John, and let us behold what they beheld; let us believe what they believed.

Jesus is no longer in the tomb. Instead,

  • Jesus is alive and well and sitting at the right hand of his Father.
  • Jesus is alive in us through the power and indwelling of his precious, Holy Spirit.
  • Jesus is here.

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)

Believe and be blessed, friends. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

it might be hope

I made a telling discovery this morning during my morning devotional time – a few thoughts I’m lingering on and in as I begin this grace-day with Jesus. It’s about my standing “near the cross” and the posture of my heart therein. Let me explain.

Three years ago, I led a group of women through Alicia Chole’s study, Choices: to be or not to be … a woman of God. In this current season, I have the privilege of doing the same with another group of women at our new church. One of the questions that Alicia repeatedly asks of us in our times together is, “How is your garden growing?” (alicia chole, choices: to be or not to be a woman of God, 2003, p.4)

What I like most about this question is that it roots in intentionality—something along the lines of: This is the garden of your soul, Elaine; what’s being planted in that place? What is growing there? And therein, I cannot sit back and simply lead. Instead, I must sit alongside my sisters as a participant. Just because I’ve done the study before, doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be some fresh digging, fresh seed planted in the soil of my own heart. If I can’t give God access to the spade and shovel to work within the confines of my soul, I certainly shouldn’t waste the time of the members of my group in shepherding them toward the same.

And so, I give the trowel over to Jesus and ask him to break up the soil of my unplowed ground, to see, once again, what is growing within me nearly three years after this familiar blade first broke the soil regarding the choices I make … to be or not to be a woman of God.

Week Three, Day One (ibid, p. 29). Alicia guides me to consider that familiar scene at the cross, where Jesus’ mother, close friends, and followers were “standing by” as eyewitnesses to his suffering (see John 19:25). I journal my thoughts regarding the many, strong emotions that must have been present that day. I do so without looking back at the responses I wrote to this same question three years earlier. In keeping my responses fresh, I’m able to (at the conclusion of the activity) look back to those earlier responses and compare them with my current ones. It’s a rich exercise in evaluation.

Easily, I find the similarities. Feelings that include: confusion, emptiness, sorrow, loneliness, fear, gut-wrenching pain. I imagine many of you might reach these same conclusions regarding the emotions surrounding that day at Calvary. What surprised me the most in the comparing of my two lists was the inclusion of a couple of emotions this time around that were glaringly absent from my list three years ago. Those emotions? Relief and hope. Relief that Christ’s anguish had come to an end—a finishing point to an event that had, undoubtedly, been building up in their minds for a long season. And feelings of hope based on the reality of the finishing work of the cross—something along the lines of: Now that we’ve come to this moment in his story, I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do next.

And therein is my discovery, my lingering. Why the emotions of relief and hope this time around and not three years ago? Well, that’s another story for another day. But when I look back to where I was three years ago (a season of deep suffering and wounding) and to where I am today, the discrepancy is more clearly understood. Suffering sometimes clouds the truth, and the truth is … suffering does a finishing work in all of us. When we arrive at suffering’s end, hope often turns up in our hearts to surprise us and to invite us forward into holy expectation for the words yet to be written onto the pages of our lives.

This is the garden of your soul, Elaine; what’s being planted in that place? What is growing there?

Well, it feels like relief; it feels like it might be hope. What about you, friends? What is growing in the soil of your heart? Won’t you take some time today to consider the question with Jesus? It’s a fine deliberation and one that has the potential to yield abundant fruit for your soul. As always …

Peace for the journey,

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