Fresh Mercy: on how mornings don’t always feel fresh.

boots fresh spring

“I will never forget this awful time as I grieve over my loss, yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: the faithful love of the Lord never ends!…His mercies begin afresh each morning…”

Lamentations 3: 20-23


When I have been washed under by loss and each step forward took gritting my teeth  through ragged, broken breaths, fighting back the ocean of pain always rushing to my eyes at the slightest suggestion, I have found this verse a life-line.

It steadily acknowledged that there are times that are legitimately awful. It did not say “count your blesssings.” It said “this is really bad.” It allowed me to hate how life was. And yet it held out this:

Dare to hope, because He offers fresh mercy this morning.

It would be hopeless, except you have Him. 

So dare to hope, even in this.

Words to live by, because my hope rests on His solid love. Words to take up in dark hours, overwhelming moments, heartbreak and loss. Words to rally toward when I look at the situation and can’t come up with a way to make it work out, when I’m at a loss and see no good outcomes.

And words to take hold of when mornings don’t feel like fresh starts.

This morning, it was not a huge loss or a major transition, but a thousand small weights that I carried when I met this verse again, and still He spoke through it. Because it’s easy to feel buried the moment I open my eyes to the alarm clock, and even with daily things, hope takes daring. Even in the daily routines, my insecure soul longs for new reassurance.


Teach me. Show me how to use this day. Show me who you are in it.

Thank you that struggle leads to life and that my growth is a process you tend to with such care. Thank you that your mercies are fresh, for the deep hurts of life and also for the daily burdens.

I’m buried under too many urgent things today. I find myself developing “alarm fatigue” and shutting off my brain, my desire, to all of it, because I don’t know how to choose which thing is next, which thing most deserves my attention.  Or if I know…I falter at how to do that thing, because it is big and important, difficult and time-consuming. And whatever I choose, I still feel the sting of what I’ve neglected. There is more I need to get to than I have time for, and urgent things lose their urgency when I lose hope that I can ever get to all the needs before me.

Oh Lord, what is it like to have no limits?

What was it like to step into a body that suddenly had them?

Only you know the balance.

Lift the pressure and give me your settled peace in its place. Show me your radiant joy for this moment, here, now, beneath all that remains unfinished.

Show me how to enjoy that even I am unfinished. For you are doing the work. You are not in a rush, and I don’t need to be either. It is enough to lay the needs before you and do this next thing well. It is enough to see I am too small to get to everything and to breathe easy because it is not my job to get to everything after all.

Lift my eyes from the worry that steals away my energy and teach me, Lord, to dare to hope. In the big and the small. In loss and in busyness. In emptiness and in overwhelm.

You offer fresh mercy for this day, too. Unbury me that I may taste it.



Lie Down: on how NOT to do vacation

lie down

“…the Lord, their true place of rest, and the hope of their ancestors…”

Jeremiah 50:7


My suitcase is still sitting in the middle of the living room. It’s not even unpacked yet and the hum of everything that needs to be done is rising inside me. I have been battling an emotion I can’t put my finger on all day.

It was not until I read this passage that I could name it: restlessness.

This surprises me because I just got back from vacation. I broke the routine, I went to a conference full of fresh information, I escaped with Cody to Seattle for the weekend and I thought I would come back feeling rested and whole and refreshed and ready to jump back in.

But I don’t.

I don’t. Because physical rest doesn’t solve everything. Fun does not necessarily fill the soul and interesting things don’t satisfy it. Our weekend held adventure and exploration and wonder (I will never get over jellyfish), but I did not carry it home with me breathless and reminiscent, as I often do.


Then, as I read about Israel’s true place of rest, I realized that I know this place. And the times I have come back from a break relaxed and emotionally ready for the world are the times when there was a good chunk of time set aside just to be with the Lord.

This trip, I did not build in time to linger with Him. I read quickly in the morning and rushed off to the next thing. I planned visits to Pikes Place, Puget Sound, Seattle Aquarium and the Garden of Glass, but I did not plan a visit to our true place of rest.

forest path

I did not build our schedule to accomodate pauses, reflection, still moments.

I did not plan a time to ask questions, to face angst, to listen, to savor His word like a dessert instead of gulping it down like breakfast-to-go; to ponder, when I would normally get to the point; to pay attention to Him and ignore the distractions.

Physical rest is no substitute for soul rest, and that’s why a change in physical location does not automatically send me back refreshed.

New scenery helps, because it doesn’t hold all those visual cues that normally call me away to my responsibilities and my waiting to do list. But I often see new locations only for the new sights and sounds and experiences they have to offer, and miss the potential they hold to slow down. 

puget sound 2

I miss the chance to stand still while nothing is demanded of me; to unload mental burdens and to unpack complex thoughts and to take in my Savior, unrushed. Anytime a vacation has held that, it’s been the highlight. The whole setting seems cast in warm hues, and I walk forward at ease because I have been to my true place of rest and that’s what He is like.

When I haven’t made it there, I can tell. Because physical restoration is no match for soul heaviness. A change of pace is not the same thing as emotional relief. And I find myself irritable, distracted and troubled over why my vacation isn’t working.

rainy sound

I can pack it chock full with exciting activities and relaxing settings, but it doesn’t come close to when there is just empty time to connect with Him. There, I find Him SO GOOD, so much better than all that I could have filled the time with.



The relief at the end of my to do list is nothing like the rest I experience when you tell me to set it aside. You are enough while my list is unfinished. So help me to lay it down long enough to see you.

You transform the way I look at my whole world, and even the vista from the top of the Space Needle pales next to the view through the rain-stained window I have right here.

plants growing!

A worry-free weekend, away from all my responsibilities is not as good as a worry-free Monday, right smack in the middle of them. Because I can learn to just breathe, take each step, and follow you through it, instead of serving the thousand fears and concerns that steal away my moments while I long for my next break.

You are the Good Shepherd and you make me lie down.

So help me lie down now.

lying down

Oh self:

Lie down.

On your bed, on your couch, on your floor, in your chair, at your desk, or just in your head. Lie. Down.

Lie still, Lie flat, don’t move, don’t rush, don’t accomplish, don’t impress.

For the next 5 minutes, take a soul-cation. Rest, because HE has done the work. He will carry out His work in you. You don’t have to hold all of life together. He holds it.


Lie down all that extra stuff you’re carrying. Unload on Him.  (Psalm 55:22)

Lie down and stay there until those racing thoughts quiet and you can hear Him again.

Lie down because you’re allowed to! You are called to enter into rest. (Hebrews 4)

Lie down and enjoy the green pastures, the still waters, the breeze, the birds, the rain, deep breaths, the blank canvas behind your eyelids, the quiet musings that do not go unheard, that heart of yours that beats for a purpose beyond the ordinary.

You just had a vacation and you’re already dragging? Lie down.

You haven’t had a vacation and can’t even keep up long enough to plan one? Lie down.

fish lying down

Come to Me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.            (Matthew 11:28)

Self, you don’t even need PTO to have it. Or a free weekend, or an escape, or a day without deadlines, meetings, small people who need you, and big people who are waiting on you. You don’t need plane tickets or a beach or a quiet forest because He is your true resting place and He is right here.

Lie down and listen.

Stand still and see.


Rags, Not Rope: on kindness in crisis

“…So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to a room in the palace beneath the treasury, where he found some old rags and discarded clothing…”

Jeremiah 38:11

Why do I care about some ancient guy with a hyphenated name who is digging around for old clothes? Let me set the stage:

Jerusalem is at war. The prophet Jeremiah has repeatedly warned that fighting Babylon is a losing a battle. He is ignored. Again and again he announces God’s instructions to go with Babylon quietly and make new homes there. This was a time for surrender, not battle. Jeremiah spoke the truth, but he was not popular.

Now those warnings had landed him in a muddy pit, where he sank in the muck. No food. No water. The city in chaos around him. Evil officials gloating that they had finally silenced the nay-sayer.

Fire. Screams. Scuffles over waning supplies. The occasional boulder smashes against stone, hurled over the wall and punctuated by the hoarse war-cries of an enemy dialect. Wind whistling through tattered awnings and collapsing structures that once formed the border of a sunny, bustling market.  Now there is no sun. The air is thick with smoke.

And Jeremiah sinks in the mud.

Lowered into the dark where his cries would be drowned out by the noise of a city under siege, Jeremiah had no way to summon help. Perhaps it is this situation that finds its way into his Lamentations prayer:

“They threw me into a pit
    and dropped stones on me.
The water rose over my head,
    and I cried out, “This is the end!”

 But I called on your name, Lord,
    from deep within the pit.
You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading!
    Hear my cry for help!”
Yes, you came when I called;
    you told me, “Do not fear.”

Lamentations 3:53-57


Enter Ebed-melech, who catches wind of Jeremiah’s situation and makes a bee-line to the palace to speak with the king.

He, too, was facing crisis. He, too, felt the lack of food and the siege on the city wall and the swarming Babylonian army pressing up against it on every side. It was not from a place of security and safety that he reached out to help. In the midst of his own concerns, he noticed Jeremiah.

He bursts into the palace and exclaims to an already over-tasked king that Jeremiah has been placed in desperate straits. He gains permission to take men and go rescue him. Then comes verse 11, where they go, not straight-away to the cistern, but to a lower room in the palace where they start to scavenge rags.

I read it and thought,  How resourceful, they must not have any rope. I bet they’ll tie them end-to-end and use that to get him out.

But I was wrong. They did have rope. Ebed-melech took the detour for another reason.


“…He carried these to the cistern and lowered them to Jeremiah on a rope. Ebed-melech called down to Jeremiah, “Put these rags under your armpits to protect you from the ropes!” Then when Jeremiah was ready, they pulled him out…”

Jeremiah 38:11-13

It’s a small detail, but it caught my attention. There’s a guy stranded in the bottom of a well, starving and sinking, and Ebed-melech’s thoughts go not to the rope they need to get him out, but to the rags they need to protect his skin.


Help me to become an Ebed-melech.

May this story serve as a reminder that you care not only for rescue, but for ropeburns. Even if no one else sees my desperation, you hear me, and that is enough. You are capable of providing the most compassionate of advocates. You see when my life is in jeopardy. You notice my smallest abrasions. You bring help just in time, and you bring help in ways I wouldn’t have thought to ask for.

May I learn this of your character, Lord: that you are not just heroic, plunging to the rescue. You are kind, carefully arranging padding. And that is what you produce in those who serve you. Not just courage, but kindness.

Teach me to trust you with my crisis, that I may move into the calling to rescue others. Like Ebed-melech, may I think of the small things, not just the big things.

For when I tend to the small things, I step beyond duty into love.

And that means that sometimes the small things ARE the big things.

Related Reading

On Dread & Distance: Biblical Guidelines for how to Respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic
5 Steps to a Light Heart in a Season Heavy with Coronavirus Concerns