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Clean, Well-Lighted Places

Filed under: — jen d @ 3:58 pm

Two weeks ago I spent most of a Saturday afternoon dodging snow bullets. Big, fat, wet flakes pummeled the Boston area for the better part of the day and into the evening. If it hadn’t been so wet, it would have qualified as “Charlie Brown snow” or, as Mels calls it, “engagement snow.” Mind this was the 30th of October we are talking about. Seeing that much winter that early in the season is rare even for us and, frankly, a frightening harbinger of things to come (think many early mornings spent breaking shovels in half while trying to dig your car out of crusty, rock-filled snowbanks; if you succeed, and make it out, someone else steals your spot or the ploughs fill it in again before you get home again later that evening.) Still, despite the fear and trepidation at the thought of another record-breaking Boston winter, I couldn’t help feeling that sense of wonder at a first snow. Something so clean and cheerful about it, so quiet as it falls. The trees, still laden with most of their leaves which are ironically very late in turning this year, couldn’t have handled anything more than the dusting they received by the end of the “storm,” and by Monday temps were back up near 70 degrees. I just don’t know, sometimes, about this city of mine. But I do know I love the way the snow looks against the wrought iron streetlamps, dusts the edges of the shopwindow awnings and how it fills in the cracks between the bricks on the sidewalks in my neighborhood.

Walking home that Saturday evening, I regressed a little and found myself face-up at the sky delighting in snow like angel’s ashes brushing my face and dusting my lashes. I flicked icy droplets from my sweater and marveled that winter seemed to have overtaken summer so seamlessly, and without warning. It was as if I’d slept through autumn which, as a child, had seemed to last forever and progress in degrees. What’s changed? Am I just too busy? Not busy enough? Have I become that boring, not to notice my favorite season, to fail to relish in the little pleasures of harvest times, mulled spices, vivid colors and clear mornings? Where had the days gone? Sadness replaced my light-hearted snow-scoping as I approached 102 Chandler, sometimes known as my home.

In my building, the lights had gone out in the common areas and so the only light guiding me up the somewhat warped and winding staircase came from an unseen skylight several stories above. Climbing that staircase that evening was like ascending out of a grave, or trying to. My apartment door was located halfway between darkness and silver-blue light, and I stood outside it for a moment with my hand on the lock feeling inexplicably nervous and little sick. Dead quiet in the building, no light, aware of the snow insulating the walls around me, and me soaking wet and confused about time. There was something existential in it, a sense of urgent anxiety welling up within me and pushing me to escape the beasts lurking on the stairs. Disoriented, I wrenched the key in the lock and fought my way into my four walls, flipped the light switch and stood with my back to the door, taking in the familiar details of my rooms, the little proofs that I had indeed been there before. That I was home.

Maybe you’ve never had moments like this. I personally hadn’t had one in a very long time. (more…)


“I Can Touch You.”

Filed under: — jen d @ 12:16 pm

In recent weeks I’ve experienced a dramatic shift in the tides of a certain spiritual battle within my flesh. Temptation to this one particular sin in my life comes in transient waves dependent upon various circumstances within and without myself, but the decision to dive headlong into an approaching crest is entirely my own and without excuse. So many times I’ve not even considered standing against the crush; or, when I do decide to stand, I overestimate my strength and lose my footing as the sandy ground is literally swept out from under my feet. The undertow is always stronger than the wave itself, and in an instant I’m engulfed and sucked out to open water. (more…)


For This Cause I Bow My Knee

Filed under: — jen d @ 9:29 am

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing spiritual gifts and ministry burdens with a dear friend and sister in Christ here at the IBC in Boston. She posed a question that no one has ever really asked me before: “What are your spiritual gifts, Jen? What is your bent towards ministry?” I replied that while I still wasn’t sure I understood all or even most of the whats-whens-and-hows of the doctrine of spiritual gifts (especially where mine are concerned!), I did know for certain that the Lord has bestowed in my heart certain spiritual desires for the body of Christ, and that these desires have become burdens, and that as such, I suppose my bent towards ministry lies in seeing them somehow fulfilled in the lives of those in my local church body, especially. What I want for them, what I see as especially important for our new brothers and sisters in Christ, is what the Lord has begun to grant me in recent years through the friendship, discipleship, and teaching of so many other more mature Christians: I want them to not just know about Christ; I want them to know Christ. I want them to fully taste the relationship between doctrine and God’s character, to go breathless at the thought of the great communion we have with Him through His Son, and to daily experience quiet rest and safety as found in His bosom. I want our church to “grow up” in Christ–but not just outwardly! (more…)


The Real Reward

Filed under: — jen d @ 1:38 pm

This morning I rode into work struggling with a very specific thought pattern consisting mainly of untruths and delusions I’d willfully put into place in my heart and mind. It’s amazing how much energy one can put into endeavoring to maintain an illusion, to cultivate feelings that one assumes would go along with the fulfillment of that illlusion if it were to become a reality. We say we sin and deceive ourselves and feed our flesh because it’s easier than telling ourselves the Truth and resting in it, but lying to ourselves in light of the Truth we’ve been given indeed takes an enormous amount of creative effort. What we really mean is that we just WANT to deceive ourselves and feed our flesh because it FEELS GOOD NOW.

Or at least, it feels good for a LITTLE while – a very paltry, sad, little nanosecond, really, if that. Part of the deception is thinking that these feelings are really pleasurable, but as Christians, we know better. We know that the “satisfaction” of sin is a rotten peach that only looks good until you take a big, foaming bite out of it. Even if we hold off taking that bite and just hold on to the peach and admire its outer skin for as long we can, we’re never more satisfied than we are frustrated about it. It’s garbage, and we know it, but we want to be sure before we throw it away, so we usually end up biting into it, with inevitably nasty results. (more…)


16,801.5 Days and Counting

Filed under: — jen d @ 10:17 am

Psalm 90:10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

In CREATIVE COUNTERPART, a book mentioned in my last post, the author shares a story about a woman who decided to count up the number of days she’d have left on the earth if she were to live to be 70. Today I’m officially 24 years old, and I decided to try the excersize in honor of the event. Forty-six years sounds like a lot more than a mere 16,801.5 days, doesn’t it? Especially since – as we’ve been so potently reminded by recent world events – there’s no guarantee of having them! And, this time last year, I had over 17,000 days… In another 20 years, there won’t even be 10,000 days left in the countdown. It’s a somewhat sobering thought. (more…)

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