And Now, The Fish Slapping Dance


Gentle Reader,

My house is a disaster. Really. We’re down to the last room in the Grand Epic of Replacing the Floor, which means everything in my bedroom has been shoved into the guest room and everything in the guest room has been shoved into what passes for an office (that nobody ever uses) and there is detritus everywhere. The dogs can’t figure out what’s happening to their environment; in protest of the disruption, they knock over bathroom wastebaskets and generally behave badly.

I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or decamp to the nearest cheap motel.

Attempting to see the humor seems the best choice.

Did you know that Christians aren’t supposed to have a sense of humor, though? I didn’t until recently. Again, belatedly I learn that I have been doing my life all wrong. Must have lost the instruction manual. Apparently we are supposed to be deeply serious people, always and ever concerned with ruining everybody’s good time.

How sad.

Jesus went to parties, you know. As in, He was invited to parties all the time and saw no need to avoid them. Heaven certainly sounds like it’s going to be a gigantic, forever-long party, full of light, laughter and good food. For what is being in the presence of God if not happiness? If not constant smiling?

Is life serious? Of course it is. It’s also absurd. A friend texted me a couple of hours ago, relaying a story she’d seen on the news of a man who broke into a house and began doing laundry. Not his laundry. The laundry that belongs to the people whose house he broke into. Yes, theft is a sin, but that’s funny. What sort of burglar thinks, “You know, I’ll just do some washing up for these fine folks that I’m robbing?”

There are two sides to my personality; one is very serious, dark and afraid, the other ever-amused and struggling to hold back giggles at inappropriate moments. This particular blend is what it is. At nearly 34, I’ve about given up on attempting to reconcile how I can, at the same time, be both numbingly anxious and laughing so hard tears spring to my eyes. That is, I suppose, humanity.

I believe in learning, study, contemplation. I also believe in a good pie to the face. I don’t think God minds a good joke. In fact, I think He laughs. Give yourself permission to do the same. Allow yourself to see the funny, the farcical. Perhaps, in so doing, the proverbial silver lining is found.

William Makepeace Thackeray (one of the best names ever) wrote in his novel Vanity Fair,

The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion.

When I frown at the world, when I dwell on all that makes me sad and scared, I find more things to be sad and scared about. When I do the work of looking up and smiling (for it is work, as all choices are), I find more things to smile about. That’s not pop psychology or self-help babble, nor is that a substitute for medication or therapy, if needed. (Real talk: I am beginning to become annoyed at having to place this disclaimer in my writing so often. I wish that anyone who ever reads here would simply, somehow, know what my position is and that I’d never have to state it again). It’s taking ownership of our thoughts an attitudes, something we are advised to do throughout Scripture.

And now, The Fish Slapping Dance. Not because it means anything. Not because it must be analyzed. Because it’s 17 seconds of sheer, unbridled silliness. It’s okay to giggle over this and promptly replay.

Bonus content: The Spanish Inquisition compilation. (Yes, I love Monty Python and yes, Michael Palin is my favorite. Some of my fondest memories involve acting out absurd, stupid sketches with old friends, both original and ones that we blatantly stole from this British comedy troupe. Please don’t sue us, gents. We have no money).



Five Minute Friday: Happy

Along the Way @

Gentle Reader,

Tonight, we celebrate.

Two years ago, just after I joined the FMF crew, our beloved Kate Motaung took over hosting duties from the equally-beloved Lisa-Jo Baker. Week after week, she dreams up prompts for us to tackle. She gives us space to be silly or serious, shallow or substantive. She encourages us to let the words flow. She is our cheerleader. She prays for us, most of whom she’s never even met. She buys ice cream specifically for consuming during the Twitter party. She threads running jokes throughout every chat. Her words move us to think, to laugh, to worship God.

She is our Fearless Leader.

Kate, we love you.


Oh, emotions.

I hate them.

Give me the world of the mind. I love it there. Ask me about my feels regarding a particular person or thing and I many times I have to stop, sit down and think about how to put the feels into words. (People find this odd because I admit to being anxious, but I guess I don’t view anxiety as an emotion. It’s a constant). Some can create masterpieces with their emotions. I’m more of a finger-painter.

What makes me happy?

Reading the Bible. The smell of fresh chocolate chip cookies. The way Benny’s tongue hangs out of his mouth when he sleeps. Chris’ laugh. My mom’s spaghetti because it tastes like home. New books. Praying. Watching the wind blow through the trees. My dad’s extremely dry sense of humor. The way Blue curls his long wiener dog body into a ball when he’s laying on the couch. Scarves. Boots. Autumn. Being best friends with my brother. Pride and Prejudice. My “Messy Mondays” Bible study group. Candles. Organizing things. Purging clutter. Painting my toenails. Learning something new. Spending time with close, trusted friends. Pausing to listen to voices raised in praise during church. Being part of the chaplaincy team at the shelter. Oreos dipped in milk. Saturday nights at home with my husband and my dogs and a good movie or Netflix binge session. Grace. Forgiveness. The promise of Eternity.

And this, right here.


I am happiest when I’m tapping the keys or dragging the pen across the page. Even when I’m sad or angry. When I write, I am completely myself. And when I’m writing on theology, I feel the Holy Spirit all happy inside me.

Happiness gets the side-eye in Christian circles. It’s not “holy” or whatever. When I read the Bible, I see a whole lot of God and man together in happiness. Yes, life is hard and trials are a sure thing. But doesn’t God make you happy? Just being with Him? Knowing Him? Sitting with Him?

It makes me happy.


My journey to faith. (15)

Photo Credit: Bảo-Quân Nguyễn

Five Minute Friday: Joy

Slong the WAy @

Gentle Reader,

I’m beginning to cycle into the “I refuse to turn on the computer” phase of my love/hate relationship with technology and thus did not attend the chat last eve. It’s no wonder, really. Twenty-three days into the 31 Days Challenge and staring at the screen for eight hours a day every time I’m at work does that. But it’s impossible to do this blogging thing without the keyboard and the interwebs. So, we press on.

Kate gives us: joy.


Joy is defined as a “feeling of great pleasure and happiness.”

That freaks us out.

For some reason we Christians have bought into the idea that pleasure and happiness are bad things. Or, if not exactly bad, they are suspect. Over and over we are told that happiness is related to circumstances and must not be an emotion we pursue. Because if we pursue happiness, then we are pursuing things that might be sinful. Because happiness and the desire for it is part of the sinful nature. We are told to instead ask the Lord to develop joy in us, a thing usually very poorly defined. But it sounds holy and righteous.

It’s hard to unpack all of the wrong thinking about this in five minutes.

Yes, the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). We can’t live our lives based on emotions. They don’t have brains. They don’t always appropriately correspond to the situation. We have to make choices based on what we know, rather than what we feel. For example, the wife who feels angry at her husband should not use that emotion as the rationale for cheating on him. She must filter that anger through what she knows to be true, through what God says.

At the same time, emotions aren’t evil. What we do with them certainly can be, but feelings like anger and sadness and surprise aren’t sinful. They just are. They just exist, built into us by a God who knows what He is doing.

So it’s okay to want to be happy.

Life is tough. There are days when you’ve got to put on your helmet and just plow through. It’s not going to be all puppies and rainbows. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. You are going to cry. You are going to get mad.

But you’re also going to be throw-your-head-back-and-belly-laugh happy. It is just as good and right to smile with the Lord and enjoy the pleasure of His company as it is to pour out supplications and frustrations before Him. You aren’t immature or unspiritual when you do so. You aren’t outside the bounds of orthodoxy.

The fact that God deigned to save us and then took it deeper and came to live in us should make us happy. It is a constant circumstance. A thing that never changes. It what we come back to the times of sorrow and screaming. He turns our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11). He is a blast. He has a great sense of humor. We are allowed to be happy because of Him.


My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Dare

{ image source }

Gentle Reader,

‘Tis the time. The five minute time. The (kind of) Friday time. It’s Kate. It’s the crew.

It’s a: dare.


I have many sweet memories involving my teen-aged girlfriends. We’d all pile into someone’s room, or a tent in the backyard, and giggle over girlish things until the wee hours of the morning. Or until a parent yelled at us. We’d eat ourselves into a sugar- and pizza-coma.

It was beautiful.

One hot, sticky, early-autumn evening, we were squashed in that tent, sharing secrets and gushing over a certain older boy we all had a crush on. And, of course, we played “Truth or Dare.” It escalated. It always escalated. The gal whose house we were staying at had one of those wonderful creatures known as a cute boy next door. So, naturally, we tried to get his attention all evening.

And then someone dared me to run around the tent. In my pajamas.

I did it.

It was awesome.

We squealed with laughter and wondered if he’d seen me.

I wonder what happened to that girl. When did she get so bogged down with worries? What happened to the girl who would run barefoot through sprinkler-soaked grass while her friends smothered their faces in pillows to keep from screaming?  Her stride was confident, her smile easy and free.

I want to find her again.


I really do what to find her again. I want to find the part of myself that was able to let go of cares. Maybe that’s why I’ve been watching and listening to so much comedy lately. It’s a heavy world these days and I just want to get a little lighter. Feel a little brighter.

I’m thinking that maybe you, dear one, want that, too.

So, a challenge. Have some fun tomorrow! Do something, eat something, watch something, listen to something, sing something, read something that brings a smile to your face. Just because. Don’t think about calories or schedules or the “should’s.” Find a little slice of blessing in this here place and devour it. Soak it up with gusto.

And know that the Lord sent it to you.

My journey to faith. (15)