what now?


“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.” – Elisabeth Elliot

what’s in front of you?
what’s your next thing?
what now?


The number 40 appears in the Bible again and again as the number of days (or years) in which a person (or a people) undertake a cleansing and life-changing journey. Rain pouring down on an ark for 40 days and nights. Forty years in the desert for the tribes of Israel before they can enter the Promised Land. Forty days in the wilderness for Jesus during which he resists the temptations to turn from God’s will. – Karen Herzog

the Lenten season is
reflective of Jesus’ 40 days/nights
of fasting and prayer
right before the Spirit led him

“Jesus saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him, alighting on His very body.

Voice from Heaven:  This is My Son, whom I love; this is the Apple of My eye; with Him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:16-17 (the Voice)

then the Spirit led him into the wilderness
to be tempted, to be tested

the Voice translation indicates that even though Jesus had fasted for 40 days
and was hungry
he was also curiously stronger

I wonder what it looks like in my life to be curiously stronger?
have I ever been that…

  • strong
  • curiously strong

is that what this season is all about?

let’s kind of break this down a little, yes?

God “identifies” His Son

Jesus knows Who He is

“This is My Son, whom I love; this is the Apple of My eye; with Him I am well pleased.”

“My identity must be anchored to the truth of who God is and who He is to me. Only then can I find a stability beyond what my feelings will ever allow. The closer I align my truth with His truth, the more closely I identify with God—and the more my identity really is in Him.” – Lysa Terkeurst

the Spirit leads Him into the wilderness

Jesus knows where He is

The Spirit then led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil

Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights

Jesus knew He was not alone

Satan questioned everything about Jesus…and tested Him

if You are…

“If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”

“The more Christ fulfills the cravings of our souls, the more he changes our taste capacities from the inside out. The more we walk with him, the more we want him. The more we taste of him, the more we enjoy him. And this transforms how we live and what we live for.” – David Platt

if You are…

“If You are the Son of God, jump! And then we will see if You fulfill the Scripture…”

Jesus didn’t take the “it is what it is” attitude..

Satan continued to poke and prod…hoping to trip Jesus up

“And still the devil subjected Jesus to a third test. He took Jesus to the top of a very high mountain, and he showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in all their splendor and glory, their power and pomp.

If You bow down and worship me, I will give You all these kingdoms.”

then Jesus
in His brilliant wisdom
told Satan to get out!

“Get away from Me, Satan. I will not serve you.”


Jesus was “identified” publicly
He was aware of where He was
He was not alone and knew Who was with Him
from the beginning, we were a big deal to Him
He is both the question and the answer
through it all, even in the midst of

his hunger
his becoming curiously stronger

we were on His mind…

our next steps were on His radar
we were His next thing…
we were His “what now”

Nothing like that had ever happened before—no eye had ever seen,
    and no ear had ever heard such wonders,
But You did them then for the sake of Your people, for those who trusted in You. – Isaiah 64:4 (the Voice)

it’s interesting to me
and intriguing to think about
the fact that we are God’s
memory of the familiar
we are familiar to Him


So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. – John 13:34 (the Voice)

and equally as interesting
is our lack of memory of the familiar

my lack of intimacy
lack of association
with the constancy of Jesus


so, what now?

“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.” – Elisabeth Elliot

and rely on the memory of the familiar
the pattern of grace
the message of mercy
reaching out
serving and being served.
the here and now of grace…

Hope is stirring deep inside me
Making all things right – Kari Jobe

when questions are answers: connecting emptying restoring









“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal.

Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” – Andrew Murray

kind of looking outside the box
we tend to put God in…

kind of turning that box upside down
and shaking things up a bit…

not being satisfied with how things have been
how things are…
but seeing beyond to how things can be

reaching out…for the thing(s) we can’t see

trusting without the use of our senses


letting go…of what we can see



giving…of ourselves

to those who need it
maybe even if the one in need is us

…stewardship of our words – how we talk to and about ourselves
…stewardship of our time – how often do we take care of ourselves physically and emotionally and spiritually and mentally
…stewardship of our resources – time, talents, gifts, abilities, finances

returning to the basics of our faith


maybe the question is
not where
but how

not what
but why not

not why
but how much

not when…
but always.


connect empty restore

grace is the answer…





when questions are answers


the art of asking questions…

clarification – why do you say that?  how so?
reasons and evidence – what would be an example?
viewpoint and perspectives – what would be an alternative?
implications and consequences – how does that tie in with what we learned before?
question about the question – what was the point of the question?  what does that mean?  how does this apply?


where are you?
the starting point…
gathering clues

who’s there?
who is this?
I can’t see…

why bother?
it is what it is…
what’s the big deal?

could there be answers in these questions?
is the question actually the answer?

I think that is what I have been journeying through
this Lenten season.
looking at Lent differently
and asking a lot of questions


and starting out with the presupposition
that I don’t have any answers…
today, I am wondering if I really do have the answers
because I am asking the questions.

am I searching for answers
while the question eludes me?


what if what looks like it’s falling apart
is actually falling together? – Ann Voskamp

what if the answer is the question.

Who do you say that I am?
Do you want to be well?
Why do you call me Lord, Lord?
Why are you so afraid?

where are you?
who is this?
why bother?

you’ve just got to do the next thing even when nothing feels like it’s changing anything. – Ann Voskamp

“Prayer is reaching out after the unseen; fasting is letting go of all that is seen and temporal.

Fasting helps express, deepen, confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God.” – Andrew Murray

in the questioning
in the pondering
in the sorting and sifting
…we learn to
and let go
…we learn to
and fast
…we learn to

grace to do the next thing.

There’s a place where fear has to face the God you know – Casting Crowns, Oh My Soul




why bother? what’s the BIG deal?

what’s the big deal?
why is this so important?

why bother with Lent?
why bother with
trying to understand
or figure anything out
or dealing with the mess and the crud

Over time, our hearts and souls, when left unattended, get messy. Lent invites us to deal with the mess. This is not about quickly cleaning things up and pretending they were never there, nor is it about ignoring the mess. Lent invites to roll up our sleeves and sort through the debris of our lives. – Michael Hidalgo, Why Lent Still Matters

getting dirty
and paint splatters

prayer fasting giving becoming doing changing redemption
resilience hope repentance mystery freedom

grease under your nails
sweat on your brow
and scraps

unworthy less than failure selfish chaos confusion questions disappointment heartache defeat

become a new thing
beauty from ashes

I see shattered
You see whole
I see broken
But You see beautiful
And You’re helping me to believe
You’re restoring me piece by piece – Natalie Grant, Clean

what if this newness comes
when we sit in our stuff
when we sort through it
when make moving forward a big deal?

when we make taking care of
who we are
a big deal?

“Lean into the pain. Stay there in the questions, in the doubts, in the wonderings and loneliness, the tension of living in the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, your wounds and hurts and aches, until you are satisfied that Abba is there too. You will not find your answers by ignoring the cry of your heart or by living a life of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty. Your fear will try to hold you back, your tension will increase, the pain will become intense, and it will be tempting to keep clinging tight to the old life; the cycle is true. So be gentle with yourself. Be gentle when you first release. Talk to people you trust. Pray. Lean into the pain. Stay there. And the release will come.” – Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist

what if we started to bother with
and be bothered by
whatever is

true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse (Philippians 4:8, the Message)

truly, what would that look like?

might there be less
and gossip
and drama
and dissatisfaction
and disappointment?

what if we were in actual communication with God?
instead of using Him as a sort of cosmic
ATM – continually wanting something out of Him –
no matter what it might be

what if we shifted our focus
from meeting our own desires
to concentrating on and thinking about
those things listed above

what if we actually looked for
needs around us
and then did something about it.
what if we gave more
and took less
what if we practiced stewardship
in every area of our lives?

what if we paid closer attention to the words we speak
the things that we watch
what we eat
what we do to soothe our own anxieties
those things which may ignite our senses?

what if we fell into step with Jesus…

to learn the unforced rhythms of grace

what if the big deal about Lent
is that this is a time for us to
sort through our crap
and learn to walk again.

Rhythms anchor us and center us. A rhythm may move slowly at points, and more frenetically at others, but the cadence gives order to it. Breathing is a rhythm. Life happens in rhythm. – Glenn Packiam, What’s the Deal with Lent?

what if we have lost our rhythm?
I think I have lost mine…
or maybe I just need to remember it.

“To walk with God is an unfolding rhythm of life, a wild music of many moods and tempos, embracing the shadows of doubt and disillusionment and the black dark of despair as well as the sweet blue heavens of joy and affirmation, the glorious sunset colors of the soul moved by beauty, amazed by peace.” – Esme, in The Clear Light of Day by Penelope Wilcock

or maybe I need a fresh set of eyes
a new perspective
to live

grace – it’s kind of a big deal.



Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt. 11:28, Message)






why bother? it is what it is

it is what it is

what does that mean?
when do I use this phrase?
what do I mean when I say it?

It’s just a short way of saying “this is the reality and we can’t change it, or don’t want to”. – Paul Cutcliffe

this is just the way it is.
there is nothing I can do about it.
I don’t want to do anything about it.
that’s just the way I am.
I might as well suck it up and get on with it.

it is what it is.

so, why bother?

The problem with “It is what it is” is that it abdicates responsibility, shuts down creative problem solving, and concedes defeat.

“It is what it is” is an admission that the problem is too hard and suppresses the attitude that leads to creative, unseen solutions. – found on militaryleader.com

throwing up my hands and declaring that
I can’t do anything about it
I don’t have to take any responsibility
and I also don’t have to even think about a solution

I put off working on that project
and the final product does not
reflect my ability

it is what it is.

I have so many things on my plate
there are not enough hours in the day

it is what it is.

my feelings were hurt
my pride was poked
I don’t really feel valued —

it is what it is.

yeah, God and I have been closer
I can’t seem to
get anything out of my relationship with Him
He seems distant
and silent.
I know that He loves me
and He is not going anywhere…
it’ll get better

it is what it is.

why bother with any of it?
why try to maintain relationships at all?

why attempt to sift through years of
and crud –
nothing is going to change

it is what it is.

what if —
what if our perspective changes
we look at life through changed and fresh eyes

what if we look at things as they could be?
would things be different?
maybe a world of possibilities could start to emerge
a simple square —-
it could be a square, or —-
it could be a baseball diamond, or the frame of a house, or a graduation cap

what it could be…reframes the mind to look for solutions without boundaries – militaryleader.com

solutions without boundaries.

that kind of shatters the
“it is what it is”

because, really
the defeatist attitude that is attached
to that phrase
is kept neatly
packed in a box
that same square that could be so much more
with borders and boundaries
and fences
that are laced with barbed wire
and electricity

we don’t have to even try to scale them
there is danger
there is fear
there is doubt and guilt
and shame

why bother?

if we can try to visualize
that “thing” (whatever it is for you)
without boundaries and borders
and electrified shards of
hurt and pain
and discomfort

do you think that perhaps
we could start to live –

truly live?

as I have been examining 
Lent and what that means in my own life
and trying to figure out where I am 
and who’s there
and why even bother with any of it…

I have been hit
square between the eyes…
with Truth —
and it hurts
it is painful
it is uncomfortable

and it is hope-full.

and I have been called to something higher – Matthew 5:48 (the Voice)
we all have.

think about this with me….

imagine if our Savior
looked at his Dad and said…
“it is what it is.”
or if he uttered those words to
the Enemy in the wilderness
as he was hungry
and tired
and alone
“it is what it is”
or if when accused
“it is what it is”
or if when He looked
at my and my sin
and my separation from Him
and shrugged and
“it is what it is”

what if He was like me?
like you?
like us?

I am so grateful and thankful
that He is not like me, like you
like us.

I am glad that He bothered with grace…

O Your grace so free washes over me
You have made me new, now life begins with You
It’s Your endless love pouring down on us
You have made me new now life begins with You – North Point InsideOut, Death was Arrested

why bother?

turning Lent upside down…

the advent of Lent…

the heaviness of Tuesday…

where are you?

who’s there?

why bother?

lots of thoughts
tons of words
some making sense
some – not so much

trying to unpack
the basics

ever looked at a project
with its overdue deadlines

or your living space
that is overrun with clutter

or what you’ve accomplished
and wondered if you have made a mistake?

and thought…
why bother?

what’s the point?

the effort is too great
I am exhausted
I am frustrated
I am getting all wound around the same idea
I need fresh eyes
(I need a maid) 🙂

back to the basics…
why bother
and try to go deeper
with one opinion

why bother?

the expectations for the project are too high

I can’t seem to make a dent in keeping
my own living space in order..

I never thought this would be
so controversial

why bother…

why try to figure this out..
why have a different view
a different outlook
a peculiar perspective

why bother?

you are good at your job
you are diligent
you are conscientious

baby steps
one item at a time
one room at a time

remember that I know the plans
I have for you…
to give you hope
and a future
not to set you up to fail
or feel like a failure

why bother?

seeing what stands in your way
but being able to see past that
to the possibilities


that’s why we bother.

that why I unpack my thoughts
and examine the words
that I have heard
to sift them into

why bother?


and restoration
and redemption
and resilience



why bother?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy – I Have This Hope, Tenth Avenue North

fussing over grace…


who’s there? I can’t see…

it’s too dark…
things are blurry…
there isn’t enough light…
I need my glasses…or I need new glasses

there is no one around…
but I hear something.

sitting in my self-pity
and wallowing
feeling stuck.

who’s there?  I can’t see.

kind of paralyzed
who is looking back at me?

how many times can one heart break?
it was never meant to be this way
look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be

who am I?  where am I?
I’ve changed

but I can still recognize
the one I love in your tear-stained eyes
I know you might now see him now,
so lift your eyes to me

but, how can you recognize me?
I am not the same
this new normal kind of sucks
and I don’t even really know who I am…

when you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
when you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

I am broken
I am damaged
I see regret
and shame
and guilt
and scars
and I can’t see You

when you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
when you see wounded, I see mended


You see your worst mistake
but I see the price I paid
there’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won


I see my child, my beloved
the new creation you’re becoming
you see the scars from when you fell
but I see the stories they will tell


you see worthless

I see priceless

you see the pain

I see a purpose

you see unworthy, undeserving

I see you through the eyes of mercy

  • taken from song, Mended, by Matthew West

Be strong and courageous.  I will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

you are not alone

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross. – Colossians 2:13 (MSG)

I am alive

You, beloved, are worth so much more than a whole flock of sparrows. God knows everything about you, even the number of hairs on your head. So do not fear. – Matthew 10:31 (the Voice)


I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…- Song of Song 6:3


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1


the cross has made you flawless

not alone

Let me see clearly so that I may take in
    the amazing things coming from You… – Psalm 119:18 (the Voice)

not by sight…but by grace


who’s there? – who is this?


who is there – truly.
do you even know?

maybe it’s dark
and stormy
and a little scary

you feel all alone
with nowhere to go…

it’s just you.
and you are hiding.

then you hear it…
that squeak
that subtle wisp
that intake of breath.

is that your own movement?
your own inhaling
your own cheep?
could it be?

how do you know?
who are you?

“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” – Ralph Ellison

there is some truth to that.

do we sometimes
our true selves
and as a result
are in
enslaved by a false entity?

my friends,

“The exhausting manipulation and control it takes to protect an identity based on circumstances will crush our hearts and hide the best of who we are behind a wall of insecurity.” – Lysa Terkeurst

I think that when we are in the dark places
the brokenness of who we are
we don’t even recognize ourselves

“Maybe wholeness is embracing brokenness as part of your life.” – Ann Voskamp

what?  could it be?

“How can it be? When we’re naked and ashamed and alone in our brokenness, Christ envelops us with His intimate grace. When we’re rejected and abandoned and feel beyond wanting, Jesus cups our face: “Come close, my Beloved.” When we’re dirty and tear-stained and despairing, Jesus Christ is attracted to us and proposes undying love: “All that you’re carrying I take… and all that I am is yours.” How do you ever get over that?” – Ann Voskamp

could this be
who I am?


not alone
not abandoned

have I been here all along?

is this the real me?

is this the real You?

“When You created me, Lord, Your very first thought of me made Your heart explode with a love that set You in pursuit of me. Your love for me was so great that You, the God of the whole universe, went on a personal quest to woo me, adore me, and finally grab hold of me with the whisper, ‘I will never let you go.'” – Lysa Terkeurst

is this journey about
getting to know me
getting to know You

….kind of a re-acquaintance?

is this what prayer is about?
continuing conversation
more about…You
about me

“The Prayer that precedes all other prayer is, may the real me meet the real you.” – C.S. Lewis

so, I think we need to get back to some basics…

so we can know
who’s there
and who this really is.

uncovered grace.

Bring me back to the place
Of forgiveness and grace
I need You, I need Your help
I can’t do this myself – Undo, Rush of Fools


who’s there?

I suppose this is a great place to insert a totally dumb/hilarious knock knock joke…


“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“A broken pencil.”

“A broken pencil who?”

“Never mind.  It’s pointless.”

ever felt the pointlessness of … something, anything?

truthfully, for me
most recently it’s been this blog.
what’s the point?

ever felt discouraged?

yeah, me too.

when I was thinking and praying about the Lenten season this year,
I knew that I wanted to do something different –
something out of the norm
….turning Lent upside down was the “something”

for me, the first week’s notions just seemed to flow
this week, I am struggling.

maybe I am still trying to figure out where I am

maybe I need this Lenten season more than I realize…

what if…this is Jesus moving into the complex, messy places of my life to be with me in my struggles and darkness to offer healing and hope in the midst of my pain? – Mark McMinn

what if this is a call to keeping moving
a call to growth

so, back to the question at hand…
who’s there?

maybe the nights are long and lonely


maybe the days are cloudy


maybe the future looks grim


maybe some other voices are knocking…


who’s there?

do you know what is amazing to me?


i greet shame and guilt
i don’t stand in the way as unworthiness and obligation
bully their way in
hypocrisy has a key to my locked door

who’s there?

do you know what else is kind of fascinating?
these things don’t respect me
honor me
….they don’t even knock at my door –
they have a sense of entitlement
and barge right in —
especially when I am in the middle of something

beautiful and true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8)

and I tend not to stand in their way
and then wonder why I am
and feeling sorry for myself.

who’s there?

when I hear a rustle

who’s there?

when I have this feeling I can’t shake

who’s there?

when I feel like I am alone in the wilderness?

is anybody out there?

“Sometimes when you lose your way, you find yourself.” – Mandy Hale

You don’t have to fight this on your own.  I always go ahead of you.  I fight for you.  I have your back.  I know that you are feeling alone in this barren place, but haven’t you seen me – sheltering you and cradling you?  Trust me.  I have taken care of you.  I will always show you the right way to go.  (my own paraphrase of Deuteronomy 1:31-33)

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14

so, as I am discovering where I am
I am counting on not being alone.

and it’s not pointless.

  See, you have nothing to fear. I, who made you, will take you back.
        I have chosen you, named you as My own.
     When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm;
        you will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
    If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs,
        keep going; you won’t be burned. – Isaiah 43:1-2

who’s there?
always-present grace.




where are you? gathering clues


where are you?

if you had to tell someone exactly where you were…
what would you say?
what information would you provide?
what are some clues?

do you know where you are?

I think that is the bigger question…

let’s work through this…

right now, I am sitting at my desk
typing on my computer
my desk light is on
I see pens
and papers
and post-its

I have Tenth Avenue North playing
I hear the keys of the keyboard clicking with each letter
I hear the furnace intermittently kick on and off
I can hear some traffic outside

I can feel the edge of my desk on my forearms as I type
I feel the smooth keys on the keyboard
I feel the solidness of the chair supporting me

I smell the scent of “clean” wafting through my room from my Wallflower
I smell the lingering scent of bleach left over from a night of cleaning

I taste my morning coffee.


5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1
(I actually just walked you through a grounding technique)
in the
aware of my surroundings
able to identify and name them

so…back to the question at hand
where are you?

I kind of am referring both to a
heart place
and a physical location

if you are journeying with me on
this upside-down Lenten adventure
(how’s that going for you, by the way?)
then you are understanding the
importance and necessity of
knowing where you are.

so…here are some questions
to answer with your heart
to search deep within yourself
to answer honestly
to be open to

in your current “Jesus heart” location
what do you see?
what do you hear?
what do you feel?
what do you smell?
what do you taste?

do you see

a dead-end
the same thing, day after day after day
no way out?


a way through
new things, every morning
an escape hatch?

Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame. – Psalm 34:5

do you hear

the voice of shame
the whispers of inadequacy
the shouts of pain
the mumbling of accusation


I love you.
You are enough.
Let me carry that with you.
You are free.

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. – 1 Kings 19:12 (MSG)

do you feel




When you feel dried up and worthless, God will nourish you and give you strength. And you will grow like a garden lovingly tended; you will be like a spring whose water never runs out. – Isaiah 58:11 (the Voice)

do you smell

the acrid stench of unworthiness
the rotten odor of failure


the sweet aroma of mercy
the fragrance of forgiveness

In a turbulent world where people are either dying or being rescued, we are the sweet smell of the Anointed to God our Father. – 2 Corinthians 2:15 (the Voice)

do you taste

the bitterness


the goodness?

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him. – Psalm 34:8 (MSG)

put your senses to work
use them to pinpoint your location
and provide clues to where you are


here are some songs that might help:

Stray – The Assemblie

I See God in You – Josh Wilson

Faith My Eyes – Caedmon’s Call

Dove’s Eyes – Misty Edwards

Touch the Sky – Hillsong

Holding My Hand – Kristian Stanfill

Holding Onto Hope – Jenny and Tyler

We are Listening – Sojourn

Beautiful History – Plumb

Come as You Are – Pocket Full of Rocks

Be Still – Storyside b

Come as You Are – Crowder

Healing Hand of God – Jeremy Camp





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March 2017