Monday, December 28, 2015

The Thing I Learned in 2015

The earth has traveled another 584 million miles. So, if you are anything like me and wonder what you just did with the last 362 days in 2015 ––there is that.

We've all been twisting and whirling in a wild path around the sun.

This year has left me spinning and wondering what I even did that matters.

I was going to post my favorite pictures from 2015 but decided to spare you.

I looked back at the things I hoped to cultivate more of in my life this year and laughed at some and felt grateful for the others.

I'm staring at the clean unmarked pages of my new planner that lies open on the desk.

I love a new year.

A fresh start.

New hope for the days that lie ahead.

But today ––it’s still this year.

It's been a good year.

It's been a hard year.

It may not have ended like I would have wanted, but in other ways, it went better than I could have hoped.

I always have to resist the urge to run ahead.

For some reason I’d rather do that ––run ahead, rush past quiet moments.

I’d rather do something even if it amounts to nothing. It’s easier that way. Distractions and constant movement keep me from doing the deeper work in my soul.

There are many things about how I’m wired––my passion and personality–– that I’d like to not be.

And every year I think I might become more, of who I long to be.

My best efforts to work out, eat healthier, be a better steward with finances, love people, spend time with those I love, be in the Word, journal, write and generally care about others..... well I've failed at most of it.

But there is good news.

Even if I had done it all well, it still would not be good enough.

Thankfully it's still all about Jesus.  And He is enough.

Today as much as any day, I am aware of the gift that Jesus is in my life.

He came to earth to die for my sins and as long as I'm here, He will be doing a deeper work from the inside of my soul to the outside of my life.

If I have learned anything this year, it is how His mercies are new every morning.

His grace falls fresh like beads of blessing, molecules of mercy, tears full of tenderness. And they trickle until they form a stream, that flow into a river and tumble into the sea until it fills an entire ocean.

An ocean of His grace.

And the ocean cannot contain it all.

At the end of the day, at the end of this year, until the end of all time ––that grace is enough.

And this spinning is like a dance. Twirling, bending low to the Son of God.

He holds the entire universe in place and will finish what He has begun.

I'm letting these final days of 2015, slip by quietly.

Tell me? What did you learn in 2015?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Merry Christmas

These final days of Advent.

The final hours before the Celebration.

The celebration of Jesus' coming to earth.

His leaving heaven to arrive on the landscape of earth in the form of a baby.

His story is unwrapped for us one page at a time beginning in the book of Genesis and weaves a red ribbon of grace all the way through the book of Revelations.

Beginning in the beginning. Adam and Eve sinned and we all followed the same broken path.

In the pages of history, God knew we had a problem that we couldn't fix ––no matter how hard we try.

His family line is full of messed up people, just like me. Their stories reveal the dark secrets of liars and murders. Those who committed adultery and families that didn't get along.

There were priests and prophets and prostitutes.

People. Messed up people who had been beaten down by life, carrying the shards of their unrealized dreams.

God called that kind of people and they made room in their hearts to believe it.

God still calls people. Anyone. Everyone.

You can be rich or poor. Old or young. Maybe you have lived a pretty good life or messed up everything you've touched.

No matter how beautiful your home, how great your vacations, how large your bank balance, nothing will fill us up except Jesus.

And speaking for myself..... I tried hard.

I tried too many things the world had to offer.

Then I tried religion.

I tried being better than I was before.

But I finally ran into the Gift that only Jesus offers.

The free Gift that is hard to receive because it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him.

But when I finally let Jesus be enough? Well, it's been a wild, amazing ride.

He is the best kind of high. He is the most beautiful kind of love.

I'm still unwrapping the wonder of it.

It changed how I see Christmas.

The Christ of Christmas has been what finally changed me from the inside-out.

Right now, everything around me calls to ––hurry.

The traffic. The people in line. The list that is unfinished.

The gifts that still need to be placed under the tree.

But I'm pressing into the hush.

Because of the One who hung on a tree.

Jesus did this for me. He did it for this whole messed up world.

There is more to these days then exchanging sweet treats, glossy cards, and gifts.

Christ gave us Himself as the ultimate Gift.

Not just this week, but every day of the year.

This moment ––right now.

Will you join me in making more room for Jesus?

Because the reality is....Jesus is no longer a babe lying in a manger.

His throne is no longer made up of hay and wood.

 Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
Philippians 2:9-10

And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth 
and under the earth and in the sea. 
They sang: "Blessing and honor and glory and power 
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever."
Revelation 5:13 says: 

I love you so!

Merry Christmas friends.

Monday, December 14, 2015


In her book, A Circle of Quiet. Madeleine L’Engle called the word, “ontology,” her, “word-for-the-summer.” For an extended period of time, that word continued to unfold and come alive to her. The meaning of ontology has a lot to do with creativity and teaching. Both of those things are part of the legacy Madeleine L’Engle lived and left for us to enjoy.

Madeleine L’Engle was born in 1917 and died in 2007. She probably knew little of the thousands of people every year who choose a One Word.

I believe words have been finding people for a long time.

It has happened that way for me. Single words arriving uninvited and rearranging the furniture of my life and heart.

To focus on a single word seems narrow and small, in a world so full of words.

I wrote about my One Word for 2015 here.


I was sure that I didn't want a word like that.

I told you about my experience in the ocean while scuba diving. A vast body of water, magnificent and powerful. The liquid beauty that stretches out in all directions and seems to drop off on the edge of the horizon. Even on relatively calm days, waves can rise higher than buildings. 

But the thing about the ocean?  

Walking on the shore is wonderful. To sail in open water is refreshing. But to never go below the surface is to have missed the greatest part of the ocean.

You have to go deeper to find the greater wonders. 

When you dip below the surface there is an almost instant feeling of awe and freedom.

It is other-worldly.

Gravity is changed to buoyancy. You are held in its weightlessness and astounded at the silence. Even in all the odd trappings of SCUBA gear, you are no longer aware of anyone's appearance but entirely caught up in the wonder of your surroundings. It causes you to be enthralled with the experience and empty of thoughts about material things.

Your eyes are wide open and all your senses are on alert. 

That is a bit of what this year has been for me and going deeper.

That is very much how I see God.

According to 1828 Webster dictionary, the word deeper is to, "thrust or plunge." It is to extend far below the surface. To go beyond the superficial and obvious. To go deeper is to peer into the hidden, profound and secret things.

It is to pierce beyond the surface of shallow.

I think I need to hear that again. 

Going deeper is to move past what is shallow.

Oh, the joy of simply moving past small talk!

To get past the formal nice-ness of admiring each others temporal stuff.

I want  to hear your messy story and enter into your untidy life and rejoice in the broken places God is using to reveal His glory.

This year has been getting past that kind of stuff and pressing in.

Pressing into the Word.

My one word, deeper, has drawn me into the Word ––deeper.

I don't know why that would surprise me.

This has pushed me to get up early to make time to read. And I've been keeping a private journal which is honestly not my thing. And I've been uncomfortably learning to be okay with really imperfect blogging and the sharing of my heart in my public journal.

It's been about spending many days alone, in the quiet. Leaning in and listening to what the Spirit is teaching me.

Going deeper has been risky and a tiny bit a lot, uncomfortable.

This year I left a perfectly good paying job and working with a-m-a-z-i-n-g people, to do things that are unseen and unpaid.

And even though there isn't a shred of evidence that what I've been doing matters at all, I feel like, maybe for the first time in a long time, I am doing what really counts.

My going deeper has largely involved being in the Word more and praying more.

It has resulted in a deeper surrender and an unexplainable love that has risen even in the face of difficulty.

This year has been full of highs and lows. 

There has been great life events and drama.

The heaviness of death and the weightlessness of grace.

There has been the ever, surging, seasons of change.

There has been the hard and the familiar, the beautiful and the truly dark.

But to the God, I serve, even the dark is light. (Thank you, to my friend, Kathy who reminded me of this verse.)

This year, going deeper has involved deeper conversations, a deeper desire to know God. a deeper joy, deeper healing, deeper truth, and deeper hope.

I've spent far too much time walking along the shoreline and drifting on the surface ––of the vastness of who God is.

Madeleine L'Engle was changed by her "word-for-the-summer."

My word "deeper" has pierced the mundane and the apathetic and altered how I see life and hopefully how I live life.

Can I encourage you too?

Don't just stand on the shore. Take the risk and plunge into the deep places God is calling you to.

Going deeper isn't a way to play it safe, but it is a way to live life well.

Tell me what has been messing with your heart?

Tell me how I can pray?

Tell me, what I can do to help you as you journey this life?


Monday, December 7, 2015

When You Want A Soulful Christmas

I have a confession to make.

For more years than I care to count, I exhale a sigh of relief on the morning of December 26th. The added crazy, glitter-filled curve balls, which I allow to take over my days, too often deplete my soul.

The very holiday that is about the gift of Jesus is all but lost under yards of wrapping paper, blinking lights and noise.

Life is especially loud and fast during December.

And God is most often heard in the quiet and the slow.

Maybe this is why I found it so refreshing to run across this podcast by Bonnie Gray and Kathi Lipp.

The title drew me in. "How to have a more soulful Christmas."

Bonnie Gray is such a tender, soft-spoken person. Kathi Lipp brings great perspective to the pressures of Christmas.

I'll share two quick takeaways I found helpful.

The first suggestion was to write a Christmas mission statement.

It almost seemed silly, but when I jotted down a few hopeful words, I could see that my heart wants more of what Jesus is about and less of what the world has to offer.

The second thing that resonated with me was the word, "linger."

Kathi Lipp talks about making space in this busy season to sit across the table from people and ––linger.

And the only way for me to linger more with others, is to say "no" to some things so I can say yes to others.

The day-to-day stuff of life has already consumed eleven months of my year. And December is now a week short on days. But in the time that remains.... I'm letting go of the expectations that crush the hope of Christmas. I have a few plans that will create space for experiences which do feed my soul and hopefully the souls of those I love. And there is room for interruptions, because life and people don't fit into a bullet point list.

Because December 26th is coming and this year I don't want to miss the reason I celebrate Christmas.

So, if I were going to love on you all––just a little––I would share one of my families favorite Christmas cookie recipes. I'd much rather sit next to you and chat, but this is the next best thing, right?

I'm not sure why we only make these at Christmas.

I don't bake a lot since I feel a personal responsibility to eat more than I need, however, this is a recipe that I can make ahead and have on hand.

Cinnamon, chocolate, and coffee flavors blend together layers of flavor. Dipped in chocolate makes them beautiful. A great cookie to linger over coffee and conversation.

Through the years, I have altered this original recipe, since I don't cook with shortening. I substitute butter and I have also tried unrefined expeller pressed coconut oil and coconut sugar.

I almost always double the recipe since the dough freezes well. And right now there will probably be more opportunities to give them away.

Jesus came to bring us the gift of  Peace, Hope, FreedomLight and true Life. I can't reflect this truth if my soul is running on empty.

It's still early in the season isn't it? Share how you keep things simple?

How can we embrace the wonder of these days with wide eyes and deep slow breath?

© Rhonda Quaney