Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…


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Learning from the Sower

Several weeks ago I felt challenged about how I was spending my time. It would be an understatement to say that life is busy. I’m constantly – as I’m sure you are – barraged by phone calls, emails, text messages, tweets, Facebook updates and face-to-face meetings. Social networking happens at all hours of the day. Coffee dates with friends are slammed right next to conference calls and meetings. Gym workouts are superseded by the growling in my stomach and the heaviness of my eyelids.

I wouldn’t trade the connectedness of my life for anything. I love getting the email from a friend in Switzerland saying that she will be in the country this fall and would like to know how close Seattle is to Atlanta so we can visit. I love encouraging text messages from friends. I love phone calls from friends and family. I love the ability to easily stay in touch with everyone from my childhood friends to my newest friends.

What weighs heavy on me is how easily I slip in to the chaos of life and allow it get me off track from the things that matter most. Life’s issues have a keen ability to take the front seat and push the healthy items to the trunk.

I’m reminded of the parable of the sower in Mark 4:19 – “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

I’ve only heard this story used to illustrate circumstances when an individual puts his or her faith in Jesus. But doesn’t it also apply to mature Christians? How easily we fall in to the trap of focusing on our circumstances instead of the One who can help us through our circumstances. We allow the irritations of life to pull us away from our only true source of soothing. Life’s worries choke out the Word and make us unfruitful.

The great qualities of relationship with friends and family, of staying connected, of keeping an active social calendar, of climbing the corporate ladder and of so much of life, can so easily overshadow the eternally impacting qualities of relationship with God.

If I’ve learned anything from my current state of perpetual motion, it’s that I want to be a person who leans in to God when things get difficult or busy, not one who lets the chaos edge out my relationship with the Lord.

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Checking the Mailbox

As a kid I can remember getting home from school and running out to the mailbox to look for any mail that may have come for me – only to find the little black box, attached high up on the wall of the front porch of our house, empty. But this didn’t stop me; I just knew that there must be a piece of mail for me. So I turned on my heel, swung the screen door open, rushed around down the hall and round the corner into the kitchen to ask Mom or Dad, “Did I get any mail today?!”

Inevitably, the answer was typically negative, but on the rare occasion that I did receive a little envelope in the mail, I was beyond ecstatic. I mean, someone took the time to write something on a piece of paper, place it in an envelope, seal it, write my address, affix a stamp to the corner, then drop it in their mailbox to be picked up and delivered. Getting a piece of mail meant that you were someone special and important.

Remembering back to the mail that I received – and cherished as if it was $5 (remember when $5 was a LOT of money?) – the items are nothing I’d currently consider of great value. These were letters from Girl Scouts of America about the annual cookie sale, postcards about my elementary school’s book fair and information about an upcoming dance recital. Those pieces of mail were all OK, but the one letter that I can vividly remember getting was one from Wendy’s thanking me for my valuable input about their restaurant. The best part of all was that it was personalized with my name not only on the envelope, but also on the letter. Oh yeah!

How in the world did I get a letter like this, you’re asking? The always administrative and inquisitive person that I am adored filling out questionnaires and forms – even as a kid I wanted to share my opinion and learn how it compared with others’.

I think my parents and I stumbled upon this little mail-receiving scheme by accident one evening when I saw the comment card on the wall of our local Wendy’s and asked if I could fill it out. The gracious parents that I have, they obliged and located a pen for me to use while I munched on my hamburger and fries (and Frosty). On the way out we dropped it in the box and thought that was the end of it – until this gem of a letter showed up in the mailbox. I was hooked and, as I remember it, wanted to complete any questionnaire I could get my little hands on!

Multiple personalized thank you letters from Wendy’s later, my love of receiving mail hadn’t waned, although my desire to receive these particular letters did. I ultimately moved on to middle school pen pals in Europe, love notes with boyfriends, college acceptance letters, utility bills, community newsletters and “junk mail” (gasp!).

At this point I’m sure you’re wondering why this is all so important to me right now that I would take the time to blog about it? I’ve spent a significant amount of my professional career receiving copious amounts of mail. My first job out of college included opening and sorting anywhere from 50-100 pieces of mail a week to determine what was newsworthy to cover at a small weekly newspaper. My next job included a season each year where hundreds of boxes and large envelopes would be dropped off in my 6-foot by 6-foot cubicle in a matter of weeks. And in my current job I open not only my mail, but my boss’ also. But this doesn’t make up for the decline in personal mail I receive at home.

With all of my bills paid online now (And really, can a bill be considered mail? Isn’t it more of a solicitation for money?) it occurred to me that I haven’t received a piece of mail – bill or otherwise – in more than two weeks!

Mail is such a vital part of our society – for passing along information, relaying feelings and stories, sharing pictures, giving opinions and more. So much of this happens in electronic form (I love how quickly we can communicate now) that the snail mail version is left to handle mass promotional mailings, catalogs, wedding invitations and holiday cards. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it leaves a lot to be desired as far as “reading” someone’s handwriting. (Are they neat or messy? In a hurry or deliberate? Emotional or controlled?) Without realizing it, it’s as if we’re reading the body language of the writer through their handwriting without ever laying eyes on him or her.

So all this to say: bring it on! Let’s take the extra time to send a friend a handwritten note, place a stamp in the corner and drop it in the mailbox. It’ll be good for your soul and light the excitement of the little kid inside your friend!