29 reasons to make the leap

Unless you’ve spent today under a rock, you probably know it’s leap day. You’ve probably heard people urging you to “Seize the day,” or do something different today.

If only we treated every day as leap day, a day to break out of our comfortable routine and shake things up a bit. No matter what day you actually get around to reading this, I’ve made a list of reasons to make the leap – into whatever you’ve been putting off, whatever you have wanted to do but lacked the courage to complete.

My reason is simple and selfish: I’ve been putting off migrating this blog over to WordPress, and I figured if I told you, my dear readers, about the move then I’d actually follow through with it. So next week (at least, I hope it’ll be ready by next week), visit my blog here to see news about the move and to find the new link. In the meantime, here’s the list of 29 reasons to leap.  Continue reading

The ashes of our celebrations

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent that will be a time of penitence and preparation for Easter.

As you know from last week’s post on obedience, I’m struggling to obey God’s call. Being sorry for that struggle comes easily to me. Being ashamed of it does, too. However, Lent isn’t about shame. It’s about repenting – turning back around toward God. And that’s exactly what I intend to do during this Lenten season: turn to face God and to learn to hear His voice and obey His call in my life.

To mark that intention, I’ll go to my church’s Ash Wednesday service tonight and have a minister place ashes on my forehead as a reminder of my desire to repent and of the promise of God’s gracious forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Even as far back as the old testament, people repented by wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. While I’m glad the church doesn’t require us to wear sackcloth until Easter, I’m also glad for the blessing of wearing ashes, even for such a short time, as a reminder to focus on God’s work in this season.

May I tell you a bit about the ashes at my church?  Continue reading

Will I ever learn to shut up and obey God?

This week, as I’ve continued work on the book I’m writing about trees in the Bible, I’ve turned to the book of Exodus to look at Moses. When you think of him, what pops in your mind first? The ten commandments? Moses proclaiming to Pharaoh, “Let my people go”? Or maybe it’s a Moses that looks remarkably like Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea? Those are all images of a strong, confident Moses, but he wasn’t always that way.

One day, he was leading his flocks near Mount Horeb (known as the Mountain of God), when he saw something peculiar:

The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush;
and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not
consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight,
why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look,
God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he
said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals
from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said
also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the
God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.
– Exodus 3:2-6

Moses’ curiosity stopped him in his tracks, and his encounter with God that day would change him forever. Notice that God didn’t call out to him until Moses had turned aside from his flock. God was waiting until Moses was quiet and fully paying attention.  Continue reading

A Valentine’s ode to chocolate trees

Valentine’s day is just around the corner, and I’ve been reminded in the last few days of a few of the reasons why I love trees.

One reminder came yesterday in The Diane Rehm Show. Rehm invited a panel of experts to discuss the state of the cacao tree – which provides us those lovely pods filled with beans that, when fermented and roasted, are transformed into a favorite Valentine’s gift: chocolate.

Save the chocolate trees
Scientists are hard at work trying to learn more about cacao trees so they can help farmers around the world produce stronger, healthier cacao trees – ones more resistant to climate change, drought, pests and disease. They’re doing this in part by mapping the genome of known varieties of cacao trees, and by exploring the Amazon to find wild, uncultivated strands that may be able to infuse greater genetic diversity to the current pool of cultivated chocolate trees.  Continue reading

Running roots

I’ve mentioned my love of running before, but these days, it takes up a lot of my thoughts. Just a few short weeks ago, I registered to run my first marathon and sat down with my husband (who also happens to make a great unofficial running coach) and mapped out my long runs from now until mid-June, when I’ll run the marathon.

I wish I could say I feel completely confident about reaching this new goal, but overly tight muscles and memories of old injuries keep threatening to drag me down. Anyone who has run a marathon will tell you that overcoming the mental hurdles is half (or more) of the battle. And so I know I need to win the mental race before I’ll be able to endure the physical one.

That’s where patience and discipline come in. Let me be the first to admit that neither of these two virtues is a strength of mine, but I know I’ll need to cultivate both to toe the line at that June marathon with a firm hope of finishing.

Running the marathon is a bit like enjoying a fully grown and thriving tree planted in your yard. Trees don’t just spring up fully grown overnight, just as humans don’t typically wake up one morning and find themselves magically able to run 26.2 miles.  Continue reading