Eyes to See

Eyes to See

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

~ Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV)

Have you ever read that passage above and wondered what the bit about the eye was doing in between the two parts about material things and greed? I’m not sure I ever really understood it … until I read it last week. And I can take no credit for this insight, LOL–it was in the notes. But oh, how clear it suddenly made it!

In Jewish tradition, the eye is considered the “lamp of the body.” The eyes are how we (normally) behold the world and recognize the situations around us. For most of us, our eyes give us our first impressions of people; we train ourselves to look more closely to notice details, to see beyond that first impression, but still, it’s a key part. It’s why words like vision encompass not only physical sight but also dreams and missions.

But the tradition is even richer than that. Eyes are also how we see our neighbors’ needs–they are how we recognize where to enact compassion. In this passage of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus isn’t talking about whether we need eyeglasses or not. No, He’s talking about that kind of sight, how well or poorly we truly see those around us. A common understanding of “bad eyes” and “good eyes” at the time was whether seeing those around you stirred you to compassion and almsgiving. If seeing the needs of others stirs you to do something to help them, then your eye was good. If not, it was bad.

Now suddenly this passage makes sense sandwiched between those two others, right? If you’re so concerned about the earthly treasures you’re trying to save up for yourself that you refuse to help someone in need, your eye is bad. Your eyes, which should be shedding light on your soul and shining it from your soul, is instead filling you up with darkness. You’re only seeing your wants instead of others’ needs. You’re blinded by greed.

And then what Jesus says next really hits home. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

If the very thing that should be light is not, then it’s just a matter of a lack we can shrug off. It’s not just that we’re “not doing a good enough job.” It’s that we’re actually spreading darkness–in ourselves and then from that broken lamp into the world. It’s not just that we’re not doing good–it’s that we’re doing harm.

If we are not serving God by loving others, then we are serving someone else. Mammon was the name of a pagan god of money. So if we’re more concerned with storing up wealth and doing what we want, then we are in fact worshiping this other god. You cannot both love money and love God.

We are called to love God and love others. And we’re called to demonstrate it in our actions, so that we are known by our fruits. This particular demonstration is for many of us, especially in the Western consumer culture, so difficult! Because yes, we need money. We need it to live and support our families and do the things He calls us to do.

So how do we strike that balance?

By never holding our treasures so close that we hesitate to give when our eyes see a need. By not evaluating that need based on what it will cost us, but on whether it will glorify Him to meet it.

Let’s never let anxiety for the future, for what we’ll eat or drink or wear tomorrow, keep us from helping someone today. We’re called to radical trust in God. Trust that He will care for us tomorrow–perhaps through someone else choosing to obediently meet our need. Can we get to the point where that is a joy–to receive help as surely as to give help? Can we walk in both humility and generosity?

Can we do it together? You shine that light for me…and I’ll shine it for you. And together, with our good eyes and our lamps shedding light onto our path, we can make our Way along the road He walked before us. The road that leads straight to the Kingdom of God.

Crosses of Purpose

Crosses of Purpose

I’ve done a lot of thinking and writing over the years about the Cross of Christ, and what that means for our crosses, too. I’ve mused about our Lord’s dread of the cross, being willing to give up everything to take up that cross and follow Him, and why one of the Gospels puts in that we need to daily take it up.

These are reflections that I usually ponder for obvious reasons during Holy Week, so I certainly didn’t expect to start a year off with a post about the cross. But during my prayer time last week, I was meditating on Jesus’ cross–the physical one, which both He and Simon the Cyrene carried–and something new occurred to me. And that is this:

When Jesus spoke so often throughout His ministry about us, His followers, taking up our crosses, He was certainly speaking about burdens and sacrifices, yes … but He knew something else about His own cross. He knew it wasn’t only about suffering and sacrifice. He also knew it was about PURPOSE.

Christ didn’t suffer and die and accept that burden of our sins for nothing. He did it for a purpose–the ultimate purpose. He did it for the salvation of all mankind.

We know this, of course … but have we ever paused to apply that to our crosses? Maybe you have, but it had never come to me in quite that way before. That He is calling us to take up our purpose. Our calling. He is calling us to walk that out every day. He is calling us to obey and act and carry it into our lives. Up that hill.

Is it a sacrifice? Yes. It is sometimes hard and heavy? Yes. Do we do it anyway? Yes. Because it’s worth it. He is worth it. Working for Him and His Kingdom is worth it.

We have many jobs in our lives, many things that employ our time. We celebrate the dignity of work, of earning, of enabling the survival of the families with whom God has trusted us.

But we are also ALL called to follow Him, first and foremost. We are called to go forth, every day and every week, and shine His light into this dark world. We are called to take up His cross, His passion, His purpose for our own and share about the salvation of mankind. To share in that salvation. We are called to go and to do and to obey.

For a purpose. His purpose. The purpose of the Cross.

How are we walking that out in our daily lives? How are we focusing first and foremost on it in our other work? Is everything we do for the purpose of the Cross … or are we at cross-purposes with Him?

What do we need to reevaluate as this year begins to align ourselves more fully with His purposes?

Introducing Patrons & Peers

Introducing Patrons & Peers

Ever since I was girl, I knew what my calling was: writing. Specifically, to write novels that show people the beauty of faith, the glory of God, and how our lives are richer when they’re lived with Him. I love to use human romances, well-drawn and in amazing settings, to demonstrate how God loves us.

Many years ago I listened to a class from a writers conference in which the amazing Susan Meissner broke writers into three categories: the hobby writer, the ministry writer, and the career writer. My critique partner looked at me and said, “Which are you?” I didn’t even have to think about it.


The funny thing is that I actually combine ministry writing and career writing. Which is to say, this is how I make my living…but money concerns are not what determine what and how I write. I will write—and I’ll write the stories God puts on my heart—regardless of whether I get paid for it. I can’t not. My bio says I’ve “long claimed that words are the air I breathe,” and that is the simple truth. Everything I do is in some way geared toward getting the written word into the world, whether it be through my writing, my editing, my cover designing, or our publishing efforts. I do it because I believe stories change the world. Fiction changes culture. My words, if written faithfully and put into the hand of the Lord, can be a tool He uses to touch hearts and lives. That is my prayer—that is always my prayer.

But of course, the reality is that my family needs to eat, which is why over the last few years, more and more of my days has been geared toward that “other” work I do—cover design, typesetting, helping other authors. Which is great work, and I love it…but my own writing time has been pushed into the margins. I’d like to change that, because this is still my primary ministry, my primary calling. Not only do I have writing contracts to fulfill, but I also have so many other stories I’d love to find time to write, stories my readers keep asking for—more in the Shadows Over England series, stories about secondary characters from other books and series, you name it. When I consider carving out the time to write those though, something became very obvious: I can’t, not with the way things are going now. I can barely get each contracted book done in time. Writing more? That’s going to require a change. That’s going to require…you.

And so, I’d like to invite you into this ministry. I’d like to give you, my readers, the chance to more actively participate in my calling, and to share yours with me as well.

So here’s what I’m envisioning. I’ve set up a system where you can help support my writing directly, at whatever level you feel led. In return, you get access to private pages here on my website and even a community through an app on our smart phones. I will check in with you every week by video chat—and members can reply with their own video chats! We can build each other up, share our struggles and our victories. I will let you into my world—not just the public side of it, but what it really means to walk out this calling and ministry day by day. I will share the pitfalls, the triumphs, the prayer requests, the challenges, the ideas and brainstorming, and the big dreams that we have. We can walk out our callings arm in arm.

If this works like I hope and I end up with ability to cut back on my “extra” work, that means more time that I’ll be dedicating to writing, so I’ll be creating more fiction for you. I’ll be able to work on those extra stories in some of my series that readers are always asking for but which I can never work in around my other contracts. It means I’ll be able to spend more time researching and building my faith, so I can work all that into my stories too.

And mostly, for me, it’s about humility and sharing the calling and ministry, opening up…which is often so hard for an introvert like me to do. But I know the value of community. And I want to truly have it with you. That’s one of the things I’ve most enjoyed about things like the tea parties and my Facebook lives—they give us the chance to really connect, to get to know one another. I’ve been wondering how to take that and multiply it, how to really edify each other. I’m excited to see if this is a way we can do it.

So right now, I have two options set up: you can join as a Patron (for as little as $25/year) or as a Peer (starts at $100/year). Both options give you the choice of subscribing by month, quarter, or annually, and each one is also set up with “choose your own price.” So while there’s that minimum buy-in for each level, if you feel led to give a different amount, you can! Everyone who joins the ministry will get access to a private page here with updates and bonus content—some blog-style thoughts and devotionals, videos, and maybe even extra fiction. You’ll be able to share your opinion on things I’m working on and really join me along the journey, every step of the way. We’ll have the privilege of praying for each other, and you’ll be invited to share YOUR journey and calling as well! You’ll receive an invitation to join a special video chat group through an app called Marco Polo (free download on your smart phone!) on which I’ll be doing weekly updates and to which you’re welcome to reply with your own, you’ll get a coupon code for my store good for the duration of your subscription, and other perks aimed at enriching each other’s lives.

If you choose the Peer level, you’ll get all that plus you’ll receive each of my books, signed, as they release—you won’t have to place a pre-order for these, they’ll be automatically sent to you if you’re a supporter during a release. (No more trying to remember if you’ve pre-ordered already or not!) You’ll also receive a special tote bag design that won’t be for sale or available elsewhere, along with other perks throughout the year.

Too often in our society we have this idea that we need to rise or fall alone, do it all ourselves—but that isn’t the kind of Church that we’re supposed to build. We’re supposed to support each other, love each other, give to each other. So this is me being very vulnerable and saying, “This is how you can help me create more.” I need the freedom to focus more on my primary calling. And it’s also the chance for you to share with me and the other members of our community what YOUR calling is, and how we can support YOU.

I hope you’ll join me—share in my life and calling and ministry and let me share in yours. Because I truly believe that if we come together, supporting each other in word and in deed and in giving, then we’ll accomplish some amazing things for the Lord.

2022 Word of the Year – Devotion

2022 Word of the Year – Devotion

What am I devoted to?

This is a question that had been weighing more and more on my mind as 2021, my “intentional” year, drew to a close. I’ve trained myself to really evaluate how I’m spending my time and energy, and I’m so pleased with how “Intentional” did indeed guide me throughout last year. So as I prayerfully considered where to focus in the year to come, I realized that I want to take that same intentionality and do some shaking-things-up. For a purpose.

Which is where that question comes into play. What am I devoted to?

I am devoted to God.
I am devoted to my family.
I am devoted to my call to write.
I am devoted to learning more.

So…are those the things that are getting my time?

Hmm. That question made me stop and think more than I should have had to. Because, no.

While I have “devotional” time every morning, it had been getting shorter and shorter as I felt the squeeze and pressure of so many things that need done. Sometimes it was only five minutes, maybe ten. If it stretched to fifteen, I began to feel like my day–my time to work on my projects–was lost.

And then throughout the course of the day, I found myself using “my” work time for my author-career work, but the majority of my day on other people’s projects (designing, editing, uploading etc. for WhiteFire). These are good, worthwhile things…but here’s what I began to ask myself:

When people ask me what I do, what do I say?
I’m a novelist.
So why is that not getting my time?

When people ask me what the Most Important Thing is, what do I say?
My faith in God and love for Jesus.
So why is that not getting my time?

When people ask me what I strive toward, what do I say?
To always be learning and deepening my understanding of the things that matter.
So why is that not getting my time?

I’ve always prided myself on writing well-researched historical fiction…but I wasn’t spending much time researching. I haven’t been reading much. All of my Most Important Work has been continually pushed to the margins as my husband and I strive to support our family with creative and freelance work (always a challenge!).

In 2022, I want to change that. I want to keep those things I know are most imporant and truly devote myself to them. Were I in academia, I would be applying for a sabbatical, so I’d have some time to study and renew and refresh, to pour myself into learning and going deeper and writing-writing-writing.

Alas, I am not in academia…but still I’m working on a way that I hope and pray will allow me to do more of this ultimate work that God has called me to and less of the pays-the-bills work. Stay tuned for another post about this next week. =)

I hope that 2022 will prove to be a year of prayer, of contemplation, of deep joy, of many words written, of much time spent with my family. I especially pray that as I focus my lens upon those things that matter most, I’ll find new ways to sow into my readers and my community as well; because I fully believe that if we serve well and serve together for those most important things, we’ll see change rippling throughout our days and year and lives.

What are you devoted to in 2022?

Word of the Year Reflection – Intentional

Word of the Year Reflection – Intentional

My Word of the Year for 2021 was “Intentional.” (You can read my January 1 post about the choice here.) And now, as 2021 draws to a close, it’s time to look back over the last twelve months and reflect on how I lived that out or didn’t.

Unlike most of my previous Words of the Year, which I often totally forgot about for months at a time, LOL, this year–perhaps because I prayerfully chose it rather than waiting for God to just bash me alongside the head with it–it actually provided direction for me.

I wanted to be intentional in my relationships, in my time, in my writing, in my rest, in my health and eating habits, in reconciliation.

I actually began the year by getting intentional with my space. I am not an organizer. And the four of us live in a modestly sized house, where we not only homeschool, but from which my husband and I both work. That means this house is crowded with materials from 12 years of schooling and also the “stuff” for two different offices. I had been, since we moved here in 2013, working at the kitchen table. Which meant clearing my work off the kitchen table every evening. It was getting ridiculous. I had been dreaming of an office, a desk of my own.

Then I looked over last January and realized that there was a desk sitting in front of the window. It was technically Rowyn’s desk, there from our early homeschooling days. It was beside a bookshelf full of schoolbooks. It had been completely taken over by junk and cats, because Rowyn never actually used it. So…why couldn’t I?

The first few weeks of January I spent completely rearranging the kitchen to allow me to take over that space for my work. AND I LOVE IT. I now have a view out the window instead of at the stove. I don’t have to move my computer multiple times a day for school and dinner and other food prep. I actually have a place for my research books and Wacom tablet and notebooks with weekly goals and accomplishments. My beautiful Tiffany lamp (the first and best thing I ever won! LOL) is sitting on the corner. I have a lovely purple-wood bowl that my uncle made holding my lotions and lip balms. The school bookshelf has now become my bookshelf (because Rowyn’s school is independent this year too, so all his books are in his room.) This has been a huge blessing to me, and a decision that has impacted every single day of the year.

I also cleaned out and organized the cabinets, countertops, and pantry, which have continued to be great choices too. 😉

I’ve intentionally established routines for a lot of things that otherwise got pushed to the margins–everything from when I make and freeze the week’s supply of pancakes for Rowyn (did you know that grains impact blood sugar less when they’ve been chilled/frozen and are then reheated?? The results are pretty amazing!) to when I check on/purchase/pack up tea party supplies.

The intentionality with relationships was hit or miss with me, I admit. My days are so exhausting and busy that it’s often bedtime before I think, “Oh shoot, I meant to call so-and-so.” Sigh. And some of the progress I did make isn’t to my credit so much as the other person’s. My mom and I now have a standing lunch date for the first Monday of every month. My best friend/critique partner Stephanie and I have been faithful about meeting up either in Zoom or Meet or via Marco Polo every Friday to report on what we’ve done that week in terms of work. And what I love about that is that it also helps us combat discouragement in those weeks when it seems like nothing got done. Inevitably, we did way more than we thought!

I also started last January determined that I would stop borrowing time from my writing and author-career work to do other people’s projects. This is something I’d been doing a TON. The morning hours–which were supposed to be for my work–were constantly becoming time to design or edit or upload for WhiteFire. Things that needed done, but those hours are my best for creativity, and when I gave them to other projects that don’t require as much of it, simply because they felt “pressing” to me…well, my own work kept getting de-valued. I wanted to put a halt to that.

And I’m happy to report that I have. Those morning hours have been spent almost exclusively on my own work this year. I have brainstormed stories and written them, I have written bonus content for book releases and newsletter subscribers, I wrote a 19-page detailed synopsis for the book I’m working on right now, I’ve set up a new store on my website…all sorts of great stuff that happened because I was intentional about it. Makes me so happy!

Rest…this remains crucial to me. I get up at 5:30 every morning, and I’m going at least twelve hours a day, often more. It’s exhausting. Combine that with the physiological effects of stress from my son’s diagnosis, and I was beyond normal levels of exhausted by summer. I was being deliberate about preserving hours of the day and week for resting, yes…but it wasn’t enough. I woke up every morning barely dragging myself out of bed, and I could have fallen asleep again at the drop of a hat at any point in the day. So I made some radical changes to my diet (more on that below), improved my energy, and am feeling SO much better. I still have to be intentional about resting, otherwise I tend to push too hard. But now those evening hours are more a blessing and less a blur. 😉

I admit that the first half of the year, I wasn’t intentional at all about food choices or exercise. It was haphazard, based entirely upon what I had the energy for…which wasn’t much. So in August, my husband and I started the Keto diet to see if it would reset my metabolism, and it has been amazing for us. I’ve lost the extra dozen pounds I had put on, I have energy again, and my every food choice has to be deliberate. Because I get so few carbs in a day, I’m making sure they’re good ones–veggies and nuts, mostly. Because my calorie intake has been greatly reduced, I’m making sure there are no empty calories in there, and generally choosing leaner proteins. I expected this diet to be a burden…honestly, I love so much about it. In the new year we’re going to transition from strict Keto to Low-Carb, which will double our carb intake and then lower fats and proteins accordingly, and I’m looking forward to more veggies and fruits and the occasional bite of pasta or rice or potatoes. But I’m so grateful we decided to do this!

David and I also instituted a daily walk. We actually just started doing this in September, upon realizing that one of our favorite things about vacation in the Outer Banks is that we take long walks on the beach every day (usually twice a day). It’s a time when we not only exercise, we talk. We brainstorm. We dream. Well, this year, one subject of that brainstorming was how to bring it home with us. So now, every morning at 7:30, we go out and walk for 45 minutes. Not only is it a time to keep our bodies in shape and get our blood flowing for the day, it’s a time to communicate. To dream, to brainstorm, to talk about ideas, and to plan out our day and week. This has been so amazing! We weren’t sure how long we could keep it up with temps and weather turning wintry, but so far extra layers have served us just fine. =)

And finally…reconciliation. When I used that word in my post on January 1, I intended it in several forms: racial and ecumenical, primarily. It has long grieved me that there is so much division within the body of Christ. We are meant to be one Church. One body. Working in true unity–which means harmony, multiple notes, many differences, but no war among those members. More and more as I watch the world around me, I am so sad to see continued strife, selfishness, and blatant hatred among those professing to be Christians. My brothers and sisters are attacking anyone who doesn’t agree with them–verbally, and even threatening it physically. We are valuing our own wants above others’ needs. And we recognize no authority to tell us we’re wrong.

For years, all the work we’ve been doing in writing and film and conversations, has been aimed at ministering to people with this lens in place. To helping each other see fellow believers as Christ does. To challenge preconceived notions and really think things through. And a long questions for us was not only “How do we do this?” but “Where do we do this?” We’d always just kept doing it wherever we were. But in late October, we made the difficult decision to change churches. Not because we didn’t love the people we served beside for the last sixteen years, but because we could no longer ignore the call to pursue our faith in a place with more structure and which embraced longstanding tradition. And honestly, the moment we made the decision, more joy flooded our souls than we had ever known before. We’re now following God’s path for us in a new location, and we’re loving every moment of it. We’re viewing the subjects we’ve discussed a million times through a new lens. And several times in the last couple months, I’ve sensed spiritual shackles releasing. I know that sounds weird…but it’s true. When I consider certain things that I’ve long had hang-ups or confusion on, it’s like there’s suddenly clarity, or at least peace about it.

So all in all, this has indeed been a year of intentionality, and it has taught me things I intend to carry with me in all the years to come. Though it’s been a year with its challenges, it’s also been a year with so many victories and blessings. When I look back on it, I can now smile at the strides I’ve taken. And I’m so looking forward to where God leads us from here on out!

People, Events, Ideas

People, Events, Ideas

Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people.”

I think if we’re being honest, we all do all of those things…so let’s take the idea of “minds” out of it and assume that we’re all capable of discussing any of the above things. The question then becomes: Do we? Which category do most of our conversations fall under? And what makes one better than another?

C. S. Lewis talks about this same idea in his book The Four Loves, in the “friendship” section. Friends, unlike familial relationships, are chosen. They are chosen not because one person or another is “nice,” but because of mutual interests. When friends get together, their conversations may touch on events or people, but primarily they fall back on discussing the thing that bound them together to begin with–the idea that they both love. Maybe it’s theology, maybe it’s mathematics, maybe it’s knitting or hockey or writing. The “what” doesn’t matter–what matters is the discovery of someone else who loves it like you do. It creates a comaradery that forms the basis of the relationship; and though you usually end up learning everything else about the person too, and caring about it, that “everything else” (the people and events of a person’s life) are still somewhat incidental to the binding agent of ideas.

Case in point: my best friend is Stephanie Morrill, YA writer. We met at a writers conference. Up until then, we both had many friends from our general lives, great friends even, to whom we were bound by faith or shared experiences or other interests. But it only took a few months for us to become best friends, because we shared the same primary interest: writing. Now, that was thirteen years ago. Over those thirteen years, we have learned all about each other’s families, daily lives, beliefs, hangups, faults, strengths, dreams, fears…you name it. Our friendship certainly isn’t only about writing at this point. But even now, a huge percentage of our conversations are about writing in one form or another. We check in via a video app once a week to report on our work. We share nearly daily not only what’s going on in our lives, but what’s going on in our stories. We are best friends–but at the core of that is that we are writing friends. Because we each define ourselves primarily as a writer.

When I first shared the Eleanor Roosevelt quote with my husband (he’d heard it before), it helped us to put words to some of our thoughts about other conversations we encounter in our day-to-day life. Every day, we take a walk. The purpose of the walk is to share our thoughts and take care of any planning for the day, so that we can then both get to work without interrupting each other a million times for these things. However, inevitably our conversations drift away from the practical–who’s going to take the kids to youth group this week? What time do we want to plan this meal with so and so?–and to ideas. What is the purpose of art? Why do some stories resonate and others fall flat? Why do some churches scoff at transubstantiation and other hold it as the most precious and sacred thing?

I don’t think this says anything about our minds being particularly great–but I do think it speaks to the habits we have formed in our relationship…and the fact that our relationship has as its foundation a lot of shared ideas.

But let’s chat for a minute about why there’s a hierarchy of subjects.

Let’s start with people. Anyone can talk about other people, right? And to a point, we need to. I need to know that my grandmother was just taken to the hospital, and how she’s doing. I need to know when my parents will be out of town. I even need to know what Stephanie’s neighbor is up to now, in that it impacts Stephanie’s life. I wouldn’t call talking about people small-minded–but I would call it “normal.” Or even “ordinary.” It’s what anyone can do, and what comes all too easily.

It’s also what leads us into the sin of gossip. Because talking about people doesn’t usually just involve facts–it involves judgment. Lewis also observes in The Four Loves that “the human mind wants to make every distinction one of value.” Which is to say, we can’t compare without deciding that one is superior to another. You can’t even compare two colors of shirts without deciding which one you prefer. Well, the same goes for people. We can’t note a distinction between Mr. A and Ms. B without judging between them. We can’t compare them to ourselves without either feeling lacking or superior. We can’t see two lovely people without trying to decide who’s lovelier. Nicer. Smarter. Funnier. More faithful. You name it.

This doesn’t only lead us to gossip–it leads us to bullying. Sexism. Racism. Bigotry. Religious extremism. Terrorism. Genocide. So many of society’s problems come from comparing people.

Then we have events. We can view this as “just the facts.” The news. The things happening. Certainly not bad things to know…but as I’m sure we’ve all run into time and again, there’s really no such things as “just the facts” without a slant. This is, again, something we as humans just naturally do. We interpret facts. And how are we interpreting them? Through what lens?

One of the things my husband is most “famous” for saying is “Know your why.” This call to self-awareness is so crucial–if you know why you do something, why you view events the way you do, why you make the choices you make, why you view people in the way you do, then you can perform a self-check on whether it’s right. Whether it’s good. Whether it’s the way God views those people or events. If you know why an event is being interpreted in a certain way–whether by you or someone else–then you can guard against the slant. You are, basically, turning the event into an idea.

Let’s take the riots last year as an example, because they served to open my eyes to this in a lot of ways. If you view it simply as events–riots, destruction, violence–then you’re simply going to condemn those involved. But if you look past the events, to the ideas behind them–to the people hurting, to the desperation, the cry to be seen–then you could well view the event in a different way. A way that doesn’t negate “the facts” of violence, but which give them a broader context. A way that might make you ask, “What would it take to push me to that point? What can I do to help?” instead of just judging and condemning.

Ideas, you see, invite us to look at things from new perspectives. They challenge us. They make us stretch and grow. Aristotle says that “all men by nature seek to learn.” My favorite translation puts it this way: “All men, by nature, stretch themselves out toward knowing.” That’s the power of talking about ideas with other people who also like to talk about ideas–it stretches us out toward knowing. It invites us deeper into the events and people we know by asking the bigger questions about who they are, what makes them want they want, what fuels the events of the day, what we can do to interact with or change them.

Of course, if you only ever talk about ideas and never put action to them, you won’t ever accomplish much–even this requires a balance, right? (Something I’m so guilty of! I’m great at ideas…less great at following through on them, LOL.)

But the first step to going deeper in life, dreaming bigger dreams, growing closer to God is always to turn your own thoughts and conversations along that path. Expand it from people to events, and then from events to ideas. Ask why? Ask how? And approach every topic with an open mind and heart, always considering first “Are my assumptions wrong?” If you start there, you’re going to be amazed at the new ideas, the new Truths that become clear to you.

And soon you’ll find yourself making Eleanor Roosevelt proud. 😉 More, you’ll find yourself drawing ever nearer to the God of all Truth, who cautions us against judging others and viewing the world through human eyes. It will draw us ever closer to seeing things through His eyes instead.