Finding Rest After the Debates and Josh Harris

What a week it’s been!

My daughter and her lovely new husband have been with us at fishcamp since early June. But they left a few days ago. (How I miss them!)


*Joshua Harris, the 21 year old author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, who became a Christian media star launching a generation into “courtship” rather than dating—-has now kissed Christianity Goodbye. The now forty-something former pastor renounced his faith, making international news. We’re shaken. (Do we put too much faith in our Christian celebrities’ faith??)

*The democratic “debates”? I didn’t watch them because I live here in the wilderness, without TV (and often without internet!) But the pundits say the debate focused on personal sniping. The world is ablaze and we’re still launching insults instead of solutions?

*My edits on my next book have come back from my editor. I have a thousand little changes to make. I will be a slave to my screen again.

*And finally, in our annual summer measuring and marking on the doorframe, my teenage sons each grew an inch since last year. Naphtali posted a half inch gain (“it’s all the yoga,” she smiled.) I didn’t want to be measured, but everyone insisted: I shrank. I lost (another) half inch. (And I hate yoga.)

Sometimes it’s just all too much and you have to leave, escape. One night I grabbed a paddle and launched a kayak. And the next few nights, I went out fishing with my kids. (Would any of this make me taller? No, but it would make me happier. And it did.)

I found so many consolations:

*Tiny kelp crabs fell into our skiff. They’re ornamented in bonnets of kelp, which they fasten with their pincers, looping and hooking the ribbons on the tiny protrusions on their shell. Biologists tell us they’re dressing to hide, to camouflage, though I’m certain they’re fancying-up for Sunday dinner, or a night out on the town, (which, in this case, would be an hour in our skiff.)

kelp crab in hand.jpeg

*I found five starfish on the beach. Which is nothing, but it’s five more than we had last summer. Two summers ago Kodiak Island was stricken with Sea Star Wasting Syndrome, (from warmer ocean temps). Our beaches, always festooned with hundreds of purple, orange, magenta sun and starfish were desolate of starfish. Wiped out, as they were along most of the US west coast. They’re recovering there——and maybe they’re returning here as well? I am hopeful.


Everywhere I turned I saw loveliness. Rocks dressed in barnacles and bright wigs even on the dullest days.

rockes on beach with neon kelp.jpeg

Mothers and fathers feeding their children.


And then, in the kayak two nights ago, silently paddling, mother and babe.


I am on these waters too with my beloved ones, (though we’re not nearly as cute).

Abraham + Leslie in skiff, sunset.jpeg

And then the skies whispering overhead as we glide back home.


This is my Sabbath, out here, on these waters, on these shores. I know you need it too. When we turn off our screens, the unnatural world, and turn to the natural world—-we are not escaping or retreating. We are returning. And we are resting, even while we work.

When watching an otter, an eagle, a kelp crab, a sunset, I find rest. My tired ears hear again. I see again. The rocks shout out whose world this is. The moon, the sun testifies. The eagles know who feed them.

We are the only ones in all of creation who forget. We are the only ones who lose our faith. We are the only ones who “politic.” We are the only ones who never have enough.

SABBATH rest, Norman Wirzba tells us, is not about closing our eyes, taking a nap, retreating from the world. It’s about ending our restlessness, our discontent, the not-enough-ness that rules our lives and drives us sad, mad and frantic.

Stop. Declare a Sabbath. Go watch the sparrows, the spider outside your window, the otters. Hike the mountain behind your house. Walk softly on the beach.

All this has been given to us out of love.

Watch, listen, love it back. And you will find rest.

red heart rock on beach.jpeg

Where is your favorite place to go to find rest, to find Sabbath?

Breaking Bad, Breaking Down+ How Do We Stay Alive?

It is blowing 50 again, the third 50+ mph blow this month. The power went off this morning.  The sea outside my window fumes. The house cracks and creaks. Where is so much air coming from? Whose breath has been taken? Mine. My breath is gone today. And maybe yours as well. A massive collection has been taken, without our permission---and our breath has been stolen. We gasp and sigh with what little we have left. We drag ourselves out of bed, wondering how we'll make it through the day.

No one wants to live this way.  We want to not just be alive, but to feel alive, with energy, fizz and joi d’vivre and breath to spare.

What will we do to feel awake and alive? What won’t we do to feel awake and alive? Some people bungee jump off bridges. Some climb cliffs without a harness. Some race motorcycles. Some snort cocaine. Some go to churches with rock bands, lasers and smoke.  I go out in the skiff in storms, climb mountains, watch eagles, teach. Walter, a high school chemistry teacher, started cooking meth. Over five TV seasons of “Breaking Bad” he climbed the corporate drug ladder to the top. In the last episode, aired this last Sunday, we finally hear from his own (scripted) lips why he did it: “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it,” he said. “And I was really, I was alive.

He says it in past tense, because soon he will die. By his own hand. And he will kill a bazillion (nasty) people along with him, deaths we will not mourn.

I write about this today in bed, not feeling happy or excited or anything, really. I gave it all this week. And then, what was left, I gave on Sunday.  All through the Sabbath “day of rest” I was awake and full of song and Scripture and teaching and company and conversation and hugs and hope …. I took it all in and breathed it all out. And now, the wind blows outside my windows and I lie listless, hollow.

 “And let us not grow weary of doing good,” the apostle Paul writes.
But I am weary. How can my strength be so small? What happened to “they that wait upon the Lord shall run and not grow weary?” What happened to “they shall mount up with wings like eagles?” Or, the verse I chanted through gritted teeth as I birthed each one of my six kids, “I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me!!!”
In truth, sometimes Christ weakens me. In truth, sometimes I can do nothing. In truth, sometimes I feel nothing. 

I would worry, but I have lived long enough to know this. That Life is so varietal and extravagant and miraculous that it encompasses even the days we hate: the days of boredom, sickness, fatigue and numbness. This too is living, though we may not like it or choose it.  And for some, like the unlucky prophets of the Old Testament, who were thrown into  cisterns for months, locked in public stocks, chased into years-long exile, most of their lives were days like these. And for others plagued with chronic illness or debilities, this is their every day. (Peace and soul-rest to you, suffering friend, who knows so much more about this than I do. …)

What do we do, then, when we’ve lost our breath, our strength and even our joy? What do we do when we’ve given too much away and the world is flat and we are made of straw?

How do we stay awake and alive?

We do what we're supposed to do.  We do what God does. 

We rest. 

God, the One who Made ALL things, who inexhaustively keeps worlds spinning beneath and above us,

He was not done with the cosmos, with measuring Time until----

             until-----he rested. 

We need to rest too. 

We are but dust, remember? 

Dust with God-breath inside,
  dust and breath still named very good. 

And so, we give ourselves the grace God has already given.  

We trust God to run the world without us. 

We lie and wait upon the LORD, not ourselves.
We remember and rehearse

     What we have seen,  
           What He has already done with us and for us.

We rest in all of that. 

If this is the pattern of our lives--serving well and resting well--

“in due season we will reap, if we do not give up,” the apostle Paul tells us. 

Do not give up. 

Ask others for the help you need. 

Hire someone if you must and if you can.

 Rest and sleep and breathe deep. 

Fill your lungs. 

I am doing the same.

Peace, friend.

Strength and joy will come again.