Over the past five months or so, I’ve been in something of a transition. First there was an intentional Wadi Cherith season, rooted in the just-rest-and-wait- and-stay-out-of-view example of the prophet Elijah. Then there was the nudge, on Christmas night, to plan a pilrimage to the Isle of Iona, Scotland this Easter. Then there was the gift of music, as my friend Blake Flattley invited me to work on a new liturgy and I—who cannot sing or play an instrument—begin hearing/writing/composing hymns. Then, after a new season of working with a Spiritual Director for the first time, a totally unexpected Call to begin a 2-year program in Christian Formation and Spiritual Direction. This program has already blessed me with the gift of a community of like-minded souls. More pointedly, it forced me to write a 10-page spiritual autobiography on “how I saw God working at every age and stage of my life.” This assignment, which I did grudgingly, led me to the answer I’d been struggling to find over what my next book would be. I longed to write another heart book, a memoir, but could not envision the scope, the framework, the timeline. This assignment gave me just the container I needed and set me back to the steady rhythm of prayer and reflection and writing. My office is now filled with stacks of old treasure–advertising memories, and screenplays, and unsold novels, and datebooks, and journals filled with notes and names and faces and big visions for stories, for the Church, and for speaking to those who don’t want anything to do with the Church. In all that, I unearthed a single DVD from my first big interview when Baptism by Fire was released. As it happens—really, as it happens?—it was filmed 20 years to the day that I will be leaving for Iona. That’s what life is like in the hands of the Master Storyteller.
This is a question I get asked more and more lately. Who are you? How did you get here? Why are people listening to you? One retreat director, who—based on multiple recommendations—was engaging me as the lead speaker at a week-long event for 2017, actually spelled out the confusion,” I mean, you’re not a pastor or a professor or a worship leader or a director of Christian Education.” In other words, how did you become a credible figure without any of the traditional credentials?
I get the confusion. In the Lutheran world where God called me to faith (and out of which He has not yet shown any inclination to move me), I am an anomaly. Not of the German Lutheran culture. Not a lifelong Christian. And, perhaps most confounding, a woman who talks about theology and culture—both inside and outside of church walls.
When I was working on my MA thesis, I discovered a non-Lutheran, Luther scholar named Gordon Rupp, who said this about a pivotal season in Luther’s development: “you could almost hear him growing in the night, so plain is the growth in maturity, independence and coherence in a few months.”
This idea that a person’s public writing might reveal the fingerprints of God in her life stayed with me, until I came to see that the answer to the question “who are you?” might be hidden in plain sight, in the blogs, books, and talks I’d written over the past five years.
Soon I will be releasing an e-book that will endeavor to retrace the steps of the Living God in my life over a period of profound transformation. It is my hope that in sharing my story, others will be encouraged to pray, listen, and follow His Spirit with boldness and great joy.
Soli Deo Gloria
In celebration of the launch of my new book happy are those: ancient wisdom for modern life Amazon is giving away free copies to the first 20 people who respond to this giveaway!
I hope you get a free copy, (and hope if you miss the cut you’ll consider splurging on one anyway). This little guidebook is making my heart sing and I do so want to share the joy!
My new book happy are those is now LIVE for Kindle (or any e-reader)! It’s short (you can read it in an hour or so), it’s small (the paperback—which will be out by the end of the month—lays flat in your hand), and it’s filled with wisdom that’s been around long before you or I, and will be around long after we’re gone.
With so many of us starved for answers about how to navigate this thing called life, of how to find happiness in it, of how to live the life we were meant for, I thought that talking through this old poem called the first psalm (aka The Two Ways of Living) would be helpful. If you get a chance to read it—and I really hope that you do—I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you buy it now, you’ll have plenty of time to read before kick-off Sunday!
In a few weeks, I’ll be releasing my new book on Kindle. This small guidebook contains all the best wisdom I have about how to navigate this thing called life. Here’s a sneak peak at the opening pages…
Just say the word and you can feel it in your very bones, the presence or the absence of it: happy. Happiness is tied to the human heart, the human spirit, and the universal human search for the meaning of life. For most of human history, happy was intimately tethered to the wisdom of God, but today psychology and philosophy have stepped in to help us discover the root truths of happiness free from the burden of faith.
Martin Seligman, a leading 21st-century researcher in positive psychology describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose—to making an impact for good in the world. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference in living a happy life.
With all this clarity about the nature of happiness it’s curious, then, that our modern era is so filled with people suffering from depression, anxiety, isolation, despair, hopelessness, purposelessness, and feelings of deep insignificance. Maybe our love of individualism has made healthy engagement in community impossible. Maybe the sea of competitiveness we’ve created for ourselves to swim in has forced meaning to the back burner. Or perhaps we’ve been extracting happiness more from pleasure than engagement or meaning, undermining all three. How many of us find ourselves overdoing some “guilty pleasure” until it starts creating more guilt, boredom, or destruction than delight?
The road to happiness was never easy, but it was always clear.