Saturday, December 24, 2011


Merry Christmas to one and all.

And although this is the day we have deemed to, in the words of Relient K, "celebrate the day that [Jesus] was born to die, so I could one day pray for Him to save my life," it isn't what is on my mind so early-late this morning-night.

As I'm lying here in my childhood bedroom attempting to sleep I was thinking about humility. I have a myriad of quotes in post-it note form on my computer screen. Many of which are C.S. Lewis. I'm telling you the man was brilliant. One of them reads, "Humility isn't thinking any less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less."

Spurred on by a conversation with a friend, I was lying here, trying to imagine what that looked like. A mental image popped into my over-active imagination of an eager face looking at other people with feigned interest. It seemed forced and shallow. And you know why I think that is? Because my nature when I first begin to ask a question about the look of an action is to imagine the look of the action. I know that seems overly-obvious and stupid, but hear me out.

Maybe what I do so often isn't ask the question of, "how does this play out in my heart?" but rather, "what should this thought play out to in my life?" or rather, "what will people think of me when they see me acting this out?" And as sickening as that looks as I write it out, that is almost automatically where my mind goes all the time. It's about the posture I take.

The other day my sister-in-law and I were talking about how much we compare ourselves to other girls. What resulted from this conversation was the reminder that to be healthy isn't to necessarily feel like we are the creme de la creme, but to consider ourselves of equal value as the rest. I think the concept is the same for our faith. Maybe humility isn't raising or lowering ourselves on the "Christian totem pole" but maybe it's not needing to focus on ourselves and being able to take in the steady rhythm of life while walking with God as best as we know how.

Every one of you reading this probably is like, "well duh Emilie." But it's kind of a fabulous thought to me. I've thunk it before. But the word "posture" came to mind tonight and stuck. When I imagine posture I imagine the Princess Diaries when her grandmother ties her to a chair with handkerchiefs. It was about her appearance, and in that scene, and basically throughout the entire movie, she is not a graceful woman. When we try to posture ourselves, or place ourselves in a specific light, we tend to focus on the actions. It becomes about who we talk to, what we read, where we go to church, what information we know about whom; all these little factors with which we use to define ourselves and use to either tear ourselves down or build ourselves up.

The other side of the coin is looking beyond our posture. Asking for healing so we can root out our incessant needs to rate other people and ourselves and base treatment upon that.

Sara Groves sings this Christmas song "To Be With You" and it's one of my favorites. In the song, she says, "we gather round the table, we close our eyes and sing 'Praise God from whom all blessings flow.'" And it sticks with me for no other reason than the subtle reposturing in my mind that happens when I look at the celebrations that are occuring yesterday and today and choose to say, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." It grounds me. This year I don't need a big theological anthology to make me enjoy the season. I just needed to be reminded of God by a 300 year old liturgy.

I think maybe that's a big chunk of the walk that I miss so often. I think it's part of the reason I blog. I am a fickle person and I constantly need reposturing to look at things clearly. Writing is like a magnifying glass for me. It causes me to collect my thoughts in a pile, examine them, and sort them into their reserved places. Some of them are unripe and go back through the grinder, some need the finality of "publication" to settle deeply within me, and some, well, some are fresh and new and just need to be tossed out to see what's next for them.

So with a critical eye, I deem this thought one to be churned for awhile. Gnawed on. And for that, Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I spend much of my time comparing. Comparing my life, faith, body type, hair, clothes, friends, etc. My mind whirs constantly with similitudes and variances to the point where I always find inadequacies. Either within me or others. This reality of myself produces a lot of ingratitude. It causes me to live a life where every good thing comes with a "but". The absence of joy and contentedness is quite evident to me, if not to others looking in.

I also have recently pinpointed in myself a major lack of motivation. I want to do, to craft, read, and think, to enjoy life in the ways that I know to be life-giving. But I often choose to sit and watch Hulu or waste my time on Solitaire, they are cop outs. So this break I am trying immensely to fill my time with actual life-giving activities, not cheap time-wasting fillers.

One thing I'm trying to be better about is reading. I love to read, I always have. I think there is something enchanting about being invited into someone else's story, whether it be fictional or reality. It allows one the ability to escape their own reality for awhile and step into another perspective. I learn a lot through reading, not only through the information it provides but the magnitude of watching information impact other people's lives. It inspires me and causes me to ask good questions of my own life.

My sister suggested One Thousand Gifts to me recently. I always take recommendations from my sister seriously because she has a beautifully honest heart that begs for true answers. She is someone who has seen hard things and chooses to face their realities and ask God for the hard answer, the true answer. She inspires me. So when this book was mentioned, I immediately wanted to pick it up, and I'm so glad that I did.

Ann Voskamp writes of Eucharisteo in her book, the greek word for Thanksgiving. For me, this has always been another cheap Christian platitude. And starting the book I was skeptical. What does she have to say about being thankful that I don't already understand or haven't found to be completely cheesy? Three chapters in and my skepticism is now a red shade of embarrassment on my face. She's got me gnawing. Chewing the cud. This woman begins a list of one thousand things to be thankful for. Again, something in my mind I would have processed as cheesy. Cue the deepening shade of red.

The longer her list becomes, the more she experiences joy. The contentedness of a moment of beauty through suds and cheese. And it's not the event or scene that leads her to this joy, it's God being the source of it. Finding that time was meant to be embraced, not hurried. When we rush and speed we are choosing to overlook the God in the moment. We aren't seeing things clearly. Living the slow life is an idea that my mind has gone to a lot, but it stops after the concept. I struggle to find what that really means. I think to live without anticipation is to trust. Maybe when we slow down and choose to find merit in the moments we have we are choosing to see God better. Making a cognitive decision to look to Him and find satisfaction regardless of the circumstance.

For years now I have not been able to connect two thoughts. The first being that God is God, that He is big and has created existence, that what I do isn't inconsequential. Two, I live a life here on earth, surrounded by people who experience hurt, anger, sarcasm, laughter, and joy. Not a lot of times have I felt as if each of my experiences here connected to the bigger picture. And when Ann talked about her list, God started connecting some missing links. Her growing list caused her to slow down and see God in things, and so began connections of the here to the eternal. The seemingly insignificant here began to point to the ultimately magnificent there.

And that's where that leaves me right now. I want to start looking at the minute and begin to be led to the crucial. I want to stop using cheap fillers and do life-giving things with my time. Isn't that the point? To live the God-life by finding things that point us to Him?  For me it manifests itself in creating, writing, reading, playing piano, etcetera. I tell my small group girls all the time that they need to find the things to them that are life-giving, that point them to God, and then to do them. Ironically it is difficult to do, because laziness is easy. But I'm discontent right now, laziness hasn't led to life.....go figure. Romans 12 speaks so much about a full life of caring, loving, of not comparing and belittling others. I don't do those things naturally, especially when I am more concerned with living an easy life rather than a significant life. I want to see God in the minute though, to slow down my living and expectations. So I'm trying to choose it, asking God for the want to choose it, and making myself try a little harder. These thoughts are still shallow in my mind, but I wanted to throw them out there. The regurgitation to you helps make it a little more concrete to me.

I find I don't quite have to words to end this post. My mind is a jumbled mess of thoughts about the subject and I can't close it down. So here is the good-bye for now. Short and abrupt.