When your desires are a bit unseemly {Oneword365 Linkup}

You know I love books, so when my friend Kim posted on Facebook at the beginning of the year the best book she’d read in 2013 was Consider the Birds by Debbie Blue I sought it out. Almost immediately. I respect Kim’s opinion and the book looked intriguing.

A provocative guide to Birds of the Bible.

Ravens and Trust

This will go on my fav books of 2014. The biggest gift this book offered me was the reminder to slow down and pay attention. Are there really enough birds mentioned in the Bible to warrant a book? A book that isn’t tedious and trying too hard? Do birds mentioned in the Bible have that much to offer us? Even especially those of us who are non-birders?

Yes, yes, yes. Though a book about birds, it’s really about the life of faith.

As a brief sample, the first chapter is about the pigeon — purity and impurity. Chapter three (one of my favorites) is about the quail  –desire and slavery. And the last chapter, chapter 10, on the raven — failure and trust.

It turns out humans are more like ravens than other types of birds. I loved the way she ended the chapter and the book:

“It’s one thing to believe God feeds the little pretty birds of the air. They have small appetites. They need a few seeds. Everybody loves them. It’s not that much to feed. They do not seem needy. But what if you’re ravenous?

“Is the hope that God will feed you as long as you’re not that hungry, as long as you don’t need that much? God will feed you sure — if you have the appetite of a little dove, as long as all you need is seeds, dry little seeds? The hope is not so proscribed.

“God feeds the ravens, the ravenous, the mixed-up greedy glutton carrion eater. That’s saying a lot more, somehow — something more shocking, maybe than God’s willing to give bird food to light eaters. And how much more will God feed us? We need a lot. A lot of food and attention and love and healing. The world needs a lot. And I don’t think I usually believe that God will feed us all. Jesus seems crazy here to me, unreliable, like, how can we even listen to him here? How can we model ourselves on the raven, like the lilies — it’s lunacy to ask us to believe we will be fed.

” What if we could trust that we will be fed?”

She nails it, doesn’t she? I think most of us believe that if we have nice, dainty, reasonable appetites when it comes to purpose, relationships, our physical bodies, even provisions we want, if we keep them small and non-imposing enough we can expect to be “fed”/ heard.

We have been formed by the messages we receive from the world about how to make friends and influence people, how to put our best food forward. But being in relationship with God isn’t like going on a first date, we don’t have to monitor how much is on our plates, how generous we are with the tip, how interesting we may appear.

Sure, God likes the those parts of us too, but part of trust is that he can handle and respond in love to ALL the parts of us. The shiny parts that clean up well and the parts that we are too exhausted or worn down or depressed to care. What if we could trust that we will be fed?

I read this chapter earlier in the year and it was only recently in telling someone about the book and flipping through it I thought about ravens in light of my word for the year, trust.

This month, the lesson trust has offered me is the raven. Mathew says “consider the birds,” Luke says “consider the ravens.” This month I have been.

How hard is it for you to trust you will be fed?

P.S. Thanks Kim for the recommendation! And for those who love a good forward, this one is written by Lauren Winner!


Trusting Tuesdays button (Mobile)

Here’s the deal for the link-up:

  • Every third Tuesday I’ll host a link up. Trust + Tuesday + Third = three T’s and I don’t have to mark my calendar with different dates! Just remember TTT. The next one will be on July 24th  and you can get more details here. The link up will be open for one week, after one week, you’ll need to wait until the next month.
  • Please link back the link-up, either by using the Trusting Tuesday picture or simply a text link.
  • I’ve also started Pinterest Oneword365 board and want it to be a community board (meaning let’s have our Oneword365 posts all in one place!). Check it out!
  • If you miss a month, don’t beat yourself up. This will go on for the next twelve months and isn’t meant to overload you or make you feel guilty. We’re going to be a group of cheerleaders.

Photo credit by Douglas Brown via Flickr

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4 ways God prepares you for a calling

This week at Velvet Ashes our theme has been “Prepare” and I am hosting our final post of the week. I wrote the following for folks preparing to serve as cross-cultural workers, but God doesn’t just prepare some for the journey before them, he prepares us all.

God is preparing you


It is with a bit of fear and trembling I approach the topic of preparation. And you know what, that is OK. This is holy ground we are on.

Living in an era of tips and hints, I don’t want to reduce this to a list that removes the mystery and wonder of the ways God works. Yet saying, “Good luck, you’re on your own!” doesn’t honor the ways in which we can take steps to be prepared for the field.

As I picture you in my mind, whether preparing to move overseas for the first time, or preparing for a new assignment, or preparing for a change in your family dynamics, or preparing to return to the field after a time of sabbatical, I see you surrounded by boxes, and lists, and hopes and dreams. It is probably an exciting time, but also an exhausting one. Yes?

I want to remind you, you are not alone. Others have been prepared by the One who called them for a task or to a place and you will be too. As I recalled the great cloud of witnesses we have, I marveled in the variety of means God used to prepare them.

  • With Mary, He sent an angel to talk with her in person–she had someone physically show up, sit down and talk with her, answer questions, and reassure her.
  • With Daniel, He used formal education and relationships.
  • Esther was prepared through physical attributes and relationships with her uncle and Hegai.
  • Paul was prepared through the family and connections he was born into, the training he received, the positions he held, and then through a time of obscurity.
  • With Joseph, the son of Jacob, God prepared him through dreams, family betrayal, being lied about, imprisoned for years, forgotten, and an ability to hear from God about dreams.
  • David was prepared through mundane, ordinary tasks (tending and protecting sheep), obscurity, time alone, and musical training.
  • Moses was prepared by being given up at birth, being bilingual and bicultural, having a speech impediment, and through connections.
  • And with Joseph (betrothed to Mary), he was prepared through his strong character and a clear dream.

This is a brief list of eight people, can you imagine how long the list would be if we went chapter by chapter through the Bible and spent time studying the ways in which God prepared people? Four  things stand out to me:

  1. He prepares each of us in unique ways.
  2. God often uses multiple streams of preparation.
  3. Some of the preparation only makes sense looking back; some — like the training and education–made sense beforehand.
  4. And not all of the preparation will be, shall we say, fun or positive.

As you get ready to go to the field, may you hear God whisper over and over to your soul, “Fear not, for I have called you. I’ll go before you, beside you, and behind you.” Right now as you prepare for some of the knowns like the weather, the food, what clothes you need to pack, schooling and all of the materials needed, learning about the spiritual climate where you will go … know yourself.  If you tend to obsess about knowing more details, let us know in the comments (specifics aren’t needed) and we will leave comments letting you know we’re praying for you. And if you have the kind of personality that might need to focus a bit more on the details, leave us that kind of comment and we will pray for you too.

It’s not only the known you’ve been prepared for, you have also been prepared by The Sovereign One for journeys you didn’t know are before you. Trust that God knows where you are going and what you need and will meet you at the time.

Some things will be trivial delights. I never understood why I didn’t like big hunks of meat and cutting them with knives. This seemed out of place growing up in the US. But in China, this part of me made sense! And my lack of love for cheese. Oh the glories of never needing to special order food!

Others more serious. I don’t know what you will face. But I know the One who knows and he leaves us with two promises: he will not abandon us and he will provide us with those to help bear the burden.

If you’re getting ready for a change in life, what are some of the practical ways you are preparing? As you look back, how have you seen God prepare you for other parts of your life?

Survey says … and no creepy kisses!

survey says

If you ever watched Family Feud, did you feel CREEPED out when Richard Dawson would kiss the contestants? Me too. I didn’t stop watching because I found the surveys entertaining and informative (and the problem easily solved by closing my eyes). There is just something about “Survey says” and all eyes being on the board that just […]

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When the view out the window is a blur

Peters family

The notification came yesterday. Peter’s been found. And later the update on Facebook: On behalf of the Spear family. “It is with the deepest sorrow we have ever experienced that we report to you that our precious Peter Spear’s body was found and we have identified it. We are together as a family and lovingly […]

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When all you can pray is help, please help

Peter Spear

This is not the post I had planned for today. I have another one ready to go (it’s the survey results and I’m excited to share it.). But laying in bed last night, knowing what I know, I knew it wasn’t the right post for today. Pastor Bruce was the lead officiator on my dad memorial […]

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A new must read for China hands


Love her or hate her, Empress Dowager Cixi does not leave us with the option of just letting her drift off into historical obscurity. Jung Chang’s (author of Wild Swans) recently published Express Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China is destined to become a must read for China hands. I can hear a few of you […]

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Do blow torches and fireworks mix?


My parents have a few mantras. The one I most hear is: Where did you come from?  How did two Type Z personalities create a Type A person?  (Double recessive genes is my standard answer!) One that’s less philosophical is: There’s no place like Frisco, Colorado to watch fireworks.  (Frisco IS great, but the Hong Kong Harbor […]

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In which I am disturbed {a holy disturbance}

Can you believe it was a year ago I was putting the finishing touches on packing up my life in China? The following was written on one of my last nights and this week seems a fitting time to republish it. I am thankful for that evening and friends who will walk with me even I’ll […]

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To my beloved niece on her 13th birthday

13th bday

Dear Niece #1, Today you are 13. As with many aspects of life that sneak up, I find this sentence hard to believe. And then I look at you and no longer see a little girl and I know it IS true. Today I stop and marvel at you, dear niece, and the ways you turned […]

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In which I discover we are like bonsai


As I shared last month, I learned that “bonsai” refers to a type of tree training and not to a type of tree as I had thought. Any tree can be a bonsai, which is interesting in and of itself but there was more the bonsai has to offer us. Every sign in the bonsai exhibit […]

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