Exploring the Deep

Passionately pursuing life, faith and adventure…


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when the grocery store trumps texting

When I was growing up I remember seeing people in the grocery store who would run into friends and stand in the produce aisle in a long drawn-out conversation. They would block the path and carry on like they were the only ones in the store. It was mildly annoying.

I’m officially one of those people. And I’m ok with it.

I love living in a town that is small enough that I often run into people that I know. (Granted, I prefer that I don’t run into them immediately after I’ve left the gym when my hair is a mess and my make-up is smeared. I digress.) I love the seemingly random meetings. I love the quick conversations about the weather or what is in each of our carts. I love the longer conversations about the important things in life: family, health, love, death, faith. I love that in those conversations a greater connection is formed. It creates something that extends beyond the cubical walls, the church doors or the espresso machines.

So much of our world is impersonal and spent behind a computer screen. True connections with others can be hard to form when our preferred communication method is email or Facebook. I’m just as guilty as the next person. It’s easier to send a text rather than make a call. But what do we lose in the process?

My grocery store run-ins fill a void that technology can’t. It’s a salve to a part of my heart that wants to read facial expressions, see a smile, hear a laugh, share a tearful moment. They are encounters I think about for several days because there was an exchange of care one for another. These run-ins are moments I cherish and enjoy every minute of…even as I block the aisle and am oblivious to the irritated shoppers around me.

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Chance, fate and a friend.

I don’t believe in chance. And I’m not sure I believe in fate, either. What I do believe in is a sovereign God who leads and directs me into situations and circumstances that can seem like chance or fate on the surface.

I know many of my friends will disagree with me. They will claim that either there is no God (or He doesn’t care) and so everything in life is left to chance. Or they will claim that God orders every step of our lives so everything is predestined. I just can’t bring myself to believe either of those scenarios.

There have been too many situations in my life that, despite my own plans and actions, have lined up in a way that only God could orchestrate. Take this afternoon for instance: I made a quick stop in the grocery store after leaving the dentist’s office where my appointment could easily have finished five minutes earlier or 10 minutes later. I wasn’t on a schedule, just picking up a few items before heading home. I went from one area of the store to the other without any logical path when I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a few weeks. It was clear there was something bothering him so we chatted for a few minutes and shared what was going on in our lives. A word of encouragement, a reminder that there’s someone who cares on the other end of the phone, a quick hug and off we went with our spirits lifted.

Some would look at this exchange as fate and others as chance. I suppose you could argue it was either of those, but life simply seems like more than a series of random situations and we seem like more than pawns in a giant game of chess. Without a doubt I know God cares about us – and in this moment I’m confident that because of His love, God led my day so that I could run into this friend and brighten his attitude along with mine.


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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.