Paper research. Fun? Nope.

By Lisa Huddleston

Probably like many of you, I have a great deal of difficulty finishing long-term projects. Oh, I start out with gusto, raring to go and looking forward to the challenge, but after a few days, or weeks, or months, or in some cases even years, I want to throw in the towel.

And that’s where I sit today–towel in hand and just about to let it fly! I’m struggling with my exercise regimen, my healthy eating program, and I have yet another paper to write for a class that will not be completed until the first week of May and still has several projects left to conquer. I just don’t wanna do anything that I know I should do today. Ugh.

That said, I did do one thing already on my list of “supposed tos.” I read today’s #LentChallenge selection. How does God always know? Really, how does He always arrange it so that I am forced to look at the truth that hits me right where I sit? (Remember where? In my corner of the ring about to throw in the towel.)

“But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’m completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead. But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” (Paul, Acts 20:22-24)

Man (said with a long, drawn out, annoying Midwestern aaaaaa sound, please) … I really want to quit. You name it, I want to quit it. But no, God has to go and make me read these very words today–and I actually have to hear and heed them.

Okay, I get it. For some reason, I felt compelled to begin these classes in order to renew my teaching license–maybe to continue my work at the Adult Learning Center, maybe to face what would feel like “imprisonment” by taking a real, paying job rather than continuing to work for free and in freedom. Who knows? (Yes, God does. I know.) But whatever the outcome, I need to finish what He started in me. Keep walking on that long obedience trail in every way that He has placed before me.

Obedience is tough even for the short-term, but this long obedience stuff just may be the end of me. I guess I can hope so anyway–all the way to the end.


Balance is the great spiritual illusion--light triumphs forever!

Balance is the great spiritual illusion–light triumphs forever!

By Lisa Huddleston

Today, about 8 hours ago in fact, the planet we live on did something remarkable. It arrived at a tilt on its axis that allows for an equal amount of daylight and dark. This balance arrives twice a year: one time announces the arrival of spring (Vernal Equinox) and the other heralds fall (Autumnal Equinox). Imagine it (or actually record it–it’s not abstract but concrete)–light and dark each having equal time. Isn’t it an interesting balance to consider? Half light, half dark. Neither trumping the other. Yin and yang. Balance.

However, if we were to consider these phenomena in spiritual terms (as many on the planet do), we really would need a great imagination. While there is an apparent peace in the physical balance of the earth, such a peace in the spiritual realm is simply an illusion. Light and dark can never balance one another spiritually. Dark always flees from light. Just a pinprick in the night sky can dispel the whole canopy of black. Light always always wins–so why is it that we humans so often seek the dark?

Jesus put it like this, “This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is” (John 3:19-21, The Message).

Ever turn on the lights in a roach-infested kitchen? That’s what we look like when God’s light first floods in. Scurrying and running for cover. Skittering across the hard surfaces to dive under the cabinets. We prefer to hide away in the dark, and if we really are roaches, that’s probably a good idea. Someone really is looking to flatten us with a shoe.

Can you relate?

Can you relate?

But we are God’s children–not bugs! His loved ones. His light doesn’t seek to destroy us, but to find us and make us the people he has created us to be. We have to trust him and trust ourselves, our terrified little selves, to his God-light. Only then, when we clearly see and are seen in the light of truth and actually welcome its revelation, only then can his God-work shine through the darkness we think we love.

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself–Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration” (John 4:23-24).

God is shining his light into the darkness looking for us–the real us–even if we look a little roachy right now. It’s safe to come out of the dark. Welcome to the Light of the world!



All the power is contained in the seed--not more not less, but all!

All the power is contained in the seed–not more not less, but all!

By Lisa Huddleston

The apostles came up and said to the Master, “Give us more faith.”
But the Master said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it.” (Luke 17:5-6, The Message)

We don’t need MORE faith, we need to act on the faith we already have! #LentChallenge


Bridie & Kathleen Dancing 2

By Lisa Huddleston

As Irish luck would have it, I tried reading today’s passage for the #LentChallenge while listening to “Fresh Air” on NPR. In one ear, Irish-American author Alice McDermott quoted W.B. Yeats’ “A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety”:

O mind your feet, O mind your feet,
Keep dancing like a wave,
And under every dancer
A dead man in his grave.

And in my other ear (or rather through my mind’s eyes) I read from The Gospel of Luke:

You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! …

People walk over that nice, grassy surface, never

suspecting the rot and corruption

that is six feet under.

And I smiled a wee bit at the similarities. The dancers and the walkers both willfully unaware of the corruption just six feet away. Twiddle dee dee.


imagesBy Lisa Huddleston

It rained this whole long Sunday, and my husband built one of the last fires of this season while the dog and I curled up and dreamed one more time at the foot of our blue and orange altar. Only four more days and the official first day of spring will arrive. Tight-fisted buds with green tips, my first-born’s birthday celebration, and the first tick of the year found tightly affixed to the inside of the dog’s back leg have already come. And soon and very soon, we are going to see the spring.

And I am glad to know that the change is coming–as I always am. But this year I am less sure as to how it should be received. The young will rejoice with pastel and seersucker and bonnets and eggy baskets of pink and blue crunchy sugar. The old will smile and feed the excitement by hiding treasures in the tall grass and behind the roots of old trees, enabling the myths and stoking the fires of faith.

And apart from it all, not young and not quite yet old, I will watch and pinch a smile and wonder at my role to play.

“You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now” (Luke 12:56).



A basement treasure my daughter discovered  for her new house. Repurposed and lovely. (Photo credit, Sarah Essary.)

By Lisa Huddleston

I love to learn. Not just to get a job or to write a paper or to win an argument. I love to learn for the pure sake of learning itself. And I sense that that makes me weird in some intangible way. Whether that means reading an article about a new “favorite” author (Barbara Kingsolver in The Sun) or formally taking a class or two at a local university to renew a teaching license I will probably never use, learning and expanding my understanding of this world is vital to my continuing to grow and therefore to live. (Standing still is not an option on this spinning planet.) Learning is like food for my brain. Miracle Grow. Manna. Crack.


But lately learning has been less of a “buzz.” Yes, I am dutifully, even ploddingly, pushing forward. Reading new books. Pondering new concepts. Making new arguments and realigning or restructuring old thinking to fit with my new discoveries. And all that is good. Necessary even. But I can’t stop asking, “So what?” What am I doing with what I learn? What difference does it make to the world around me? What difference does it make to the world within me? I mean, if all my learning and searching is just collecting like the dusty basement junk I recently wrote about, why bother with it?

But I cannot stop. Like a hoarder I hang onto old bread ties of truth and pieces of butcher string concepts because these are the things that hold it all together. The gravity that pulls the pieces in rather than flinging me out into the cold chaos. Although it might be tidier to throw old ideas away, I find myself sniffing, circling around to revisit them, but in a different, older light. Dimmer or brighter, fading or growing, I cannot say for sure. Like deja vu but through 3-D glasses.

Recently I told dear friends that I had circled back to views I held when I was in my teens–that I now had the mentality of a teenager! All over the place and about a couple inches deep in any direction. They laughed, but I think some things I say just worry them. I guess I do sound as though I may be losing it from time to time. But that’s only because I may be!

And so today I am pondering Constructivist Learning Theory. Interesting ideas about how learners build their own meaning based upon previous learning constructs. I get that, don’t you?


Picking sunshine.

Picking sunshine.

By Lisa Huddleston

“Take a lesson from the fig tree. From the moment you notice its buds form, the merest hint of green, you know summer’s just around the corner. So it is with you: When you see all these things, you’ll know he’s at the door” (Matthew 24:32-33).

It has been a long, cold winter. Some of the coldest temperatures and biggest snow storms our country has seen in many years. But, finally, thank goodness, the signs of spring are growing more visible every day.

1798709_10203246592352317_1899297240_nThe garden is tilled and onions and greens are already planted. The dogwoods, forsythias, fruit trees–all are covered with buds that long to burst out in pink and yellow and green.  The martin houses are swept clean awaiting any early arrivals. And today we gathered our first bouquet of daffodils–later than usual but more welcome than ever because of the long winter. Spring is truly almost here.

And isn’t that just the way it is? The longer the wait, the colder the dark, the rarer the yellow and purple and pink–the more we long for and welcome the warmth and light of spring! Like rays of sunshine sitting in my kitchen. I am grateful.

If you have time, read Matthew 24-25 today and ponder the similarities as the world awaits its Savior. The waiting makes us desire him even more. And speaking of more–join me in reading the New Testament for Lent. Much sweeter than the chocolate or sugar many are giving up for the season–and much more filling.

Margaret Feinberg has a handy reading guide to follow in case you’d like a way to break it down. Yes, it’s already started, but it would be easy to catch up or just begin with Week 2. Like a ray of sunshine after a long, cold winter!




By Lisa Huddleston

A place for everything; everything in its place. 
Right wrong. 
Black white. 
True false. 
All neatly filed away.

But tornados come. Hormonal, chemical, literal winds of time whip apart the categories that give order to my life and then chaos reigns. 
Organized religion, educational theory, liberal conservatism and vice versa. 
Illicit or elicit? 

I feel the sucking pull, and it really does sound like a train. But there is no safe place to go to hide my brain from the storm, and I know my thoughts, my files of self, will soon be flung to neighboring farms and driven into hardwood trunks of trees to hold the fragments of who I thought I was.
Lord. Jesus. Christ. Have. Mercy. On. Me.
A mantra. 
An OM. 
A chanting lullaby to calm the wind. 
"Peace! Be still."

But I will never straighten this mess again, and I am doomed to uncertainty. Of this am I sure?
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, dirt that I am. 
Naked I came and naked I will leave with miles to go before I sleep.


My granddog enjoying the simple life in her new house.

My granddog enjoying the simple life in her new house.

By Lisa Huddleston

My daughter and son-in-law moved into their first real house yesterday. Naturally, they and all who love them were very excited about it! We all could picture the sweet little place picture perfect with its white picket fence and brightly colored zinnias growing along the borders. Serene and peaceful.

But let’s face it–moving is hard! Your body gets tired, your emotions get strained, and your nose clogs up from breathing too much dust that has collected on  the too much stuff that takes almost all of us too little time to accumulate. Oh my goodness. So much stuff.

And here’s where it gets personal. Sarah and John have only been married for about a year and a half; Chuck and I have had a home for almost 30 years! Can you imagine what it would take to move us? Ugh. It literally unsettles me to the core of my bones to consider. That horrible load of stuff that has crawled bits and pieces into the corners of the closets, the attic, and–I can’t even bear to consider–the basement where all sorts of detritus of this life of ours has gathered.

It is convicting. It is disgusting. It is gluttonous. It has got to go.

And it is going. As each child has moved out, they have scooped up old couches, beds, dressers, and enough dishes to set up housekeeping. And while I have deeply grieved the child, I have rejoiced over the loss of the stuff.

Soon our youngest will be moving from a dorm to a “home” of his own and with him will go more stuff. Then we will begin in earnest to shed the gluttony of our past, and even now we have begun the process. Sorting and categorizing. This to the dump. This to Goodwill or the Help Center or the Habitat store. This for Nick. And before something new comes in, something old must leave.

Truth. If we haven’t used it in years, we never will. And to keep what others need when you do not is a sin. Like stealing. It simply is.

Yesterday reminded me. The more I own, the larger my burden. Help me, Lord, to simplify. Less of me, less of this world, and more of you.

“My practices change over time, but the goal is consistent: to learn to live a happy, useful life on this earth without using up an unnecessary share of its goods.” Barbara Kingsolver