Tuesday, August 27, 2013


For some reason, I was never hungry for lunch yesterday. (This. Never. Happens.) I went out to Starbucks with a coworker and picked up an iced green tea; I threw back some cinnamon almonds because I figured I should eat something. And, predictably, by the time I got home I was ready to start gnawing on my purse strap. It's not often, I suppose, that I am actively hungry.

But that got me thinking this morning about hunger. Because I don't have much experience with real hunger--participating in a 30 Hour Famine with my teens a few years ago is the closest I've been--I find that I hunger for other things...

I am hungry for knowledge. If it had been financially possible to just stay in college for another 5 or 10 years, I probably would have. I love learning knew things (the things that interest me, anyway) and puzzling them out. I love reading and organizing my notes and formulating thoughts into pages of writing. I love knowing things--my best friend accurately calls me an intellectual snob. I find myself getting a little antsy to soak up new facts, new ideas, new learning.

I am hungry for experience. I'm devouring a book for Speakeasy right now that covers a man's travels around the continent as he works toward and develops a sustenance farm in partnership with his church, discovering permaculture and composting, monastic life and Central American social politics. I open Google Maps to look up something for my real life, but find myself dragging and zooming to corners of the world--Baffin Island, Indonesia, the Azores--that I have no foreseeable plans to get to.

I am hungry for stillness. This seems silly, coming from a woman who lives alone--why is this not everyday?--but I hunger for a different breed of silence: a purposeful, chosen, dedicated stillness. The kind of stillness that finds you as you sit on the porch in the early morning cool with hot coffee resting in hand, the vastness of an unlived day hanging invitingly in front of you like steam from the mug.

I am hungry for community. I spent Sunday morning with some church friends giving out free lunch at Willard Beach, and I found myself amazed at how quickly we fell into community with passersby. Much to my surprise, there was no suspicion, no circumspection. There were single moms and elderly men and teenagers, all of them talking and laughing in the speckled shade of a perfect day, content--eager!--to share time with strangers. I am hungry for this: for family to be found in neighbors and acquaintances, for us to remove ourselves from relational bomb shelters and share life.

And why am I hungry? Because I settle for slacking off. I settle for rewatching and rehashing and keeping to myself. I settle for sleeping in and wasting time on things that do not--cannot--matter. Instead of living with eagerness and energy and expectation, I curl into the corner and hold my breath and wait.

When I think back to the 30 Hour Famine, I don't remember the hunger of those two days, so much; but I remember the meal we shared at the end: a bite of bread and juice for Communion, and then simple beans and grains--food so much of the world would be tearfully grateful for. I remember laughing with my kids as we shamelessly scraped our bowls clean with our fingers.

There will be a day when all of this is memory, and I don't want to remember the hunger.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five-Minute Friday: Last

Back in the saddle with 5MF = happy Channy. If you like a little writing exercise, you should check it out. The rules are simple, the people are nice, and how much more energy do any of us have by Friday, anyway?


There is so much ELSE, so much OTHER. So many distractions and excess parts that have no place. But in the quiet, when I can bring my brain to a place away from emails and deadlines, this is what I see:

Us. Simply us. Doing simple things: reading a story from one of our childhoods or making dinner. Looking out into the night sky or flying down a highway with the radio on. Passing the phone when a relative calls and debating repainting the kitchen. Romantical ideas, maybe, but no romance is complete without them, and these are the things I bring my brain to when life is mundane or when the waiting gets painful. Because one day, like Adam, you and I will say, "At last--this is the one my soul loves." And isn't that what covenant love is? That at the last--at the last piece of the day, at the last breath of life, there we will be: palm to palm, dust to dust. At last, Ella sings, life is like a song. At last.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Little Revivals

"Imagine a woman has her money all arranged, and somehow loses some--doesn't she tear through her wallet, her desk, the laundry piled on the floor in search of it? And when she finds it, doesn't she text a friend or post a photo on Facebook: 'Check it out--I really DID find five dollars!' In the same way, a veritable dance party is thrown in heaven for a single broken heart turning back into the path of God."
Luke 15:8-10, Channy Paraphrase

Life has just been a little meh lately. In several instances over the last few months, people have eagerly asked me what's new, and I have replied with brevity, with apathy, with silence. This isn't to say things are bad, just that there is nothing remarkable--literally nothing worth remark--in my life lately. "That's good," replied one friend a couple weeks ago. "It means things are stable. Stability is good." Well, yes. But there's stable, and then there's stagnation.

And that's what I've been feeling lately: stagnant. Things have been fine--got a nice letter from the CEO celebrating my 5-year mark at work, ministry is trucking along like never before, I've had lots of good friend times lately, I've been in the Word every day for [checks helpful app] 43 days. So what's missing?

I puzzled on it for a bit, and frankly, it didn't take long. A few months ago, there was balance in my life--lots of busy-ness and filled work days, lots to do for ministry as idea after idea fizzled, trips out of town and fitting in as much time with friends around that as possible. But over the summer, everything sort of screeches to a halt, and that time that was my needed rest and downtime (Netflix + couch + mildly healthy snack food) became my all-the-time. And it's stunning how habit-forming that it, and how sneaky--I knew that I was wasting hours each day doing nothing but watching TV shows I don't care about... and yet I didn't care.

So today--roll up sleeves--I made myself a little resolution. (Perhaps I've mentioned my general loathing for New Year's resolutions... so hello, August 22!) It began with waking up early--and rather than hitting snooze for a third time, getting up early--grabbing my journal, and starting my day with Jesus, writing out some thoughts and petitions of prayer. And it's continued with working hard--not just getting the minimums done, but getting a jump start on future projects at work, punctuated by a visit to our gym. And it's continued with--drumroll, please--me canceling my Netflix account.

I should give you a minute here.

While I love Netflix, it continues to be too great a temptation to flop, to turn off the brain, to watch things that, at best, are mildly entertaining and shift from that to emotionally/spiritually unhealthy surprisingly quickly. So I'm spending tonight blogging (shock!), reading my book for Speakeasy, and going out with a friend*.

These are all teeny, pretty insignificant things. But as I ate my dinner (and listened to my Hillsong United Pandora station and had myself a little dance party that may or may not result in heartburn soon), I found myself noticing how small shifts bring about a total change. (For more cookie fortunes, turn to Chapter 7.) I've done very little, but I feel very different. And I got to thinking that I wonder if we don't limit the idea of Luke 15 up there by only quoting it in reference to those utterly blind to God who are found. Because my life, while defined by some major repentances, is more commonly shaped by little revivals, bits and pieces that fall back into place after weeks or years of restlessness and disorder.

So I'm simplifying. More books and less screen time. More writing and less Words With Friends. More prayer and less prattle. More relationships and less... all the crap I pretend is relational. Little changes. Simple things. Almost too small to make a difference. Almost.

*Because we aim to bring you the whole truth on this little program, I shall confess: said friend and I went out... to watch a movie. But it was SOCIAL. And we went out--grabbed blankets and pillows and ice cream and pizza and flopped on the grass under the moon by a lighthouse and my beautiful bay and laughed at the movie and the kids quoting the movie around us. This beats Netflix a million to one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Five-Minute "Friday" : Story

I missed the real Five Minute Friday (I was on vacation! ...Away from my phone... Yes...), but I love the FMF concept in general--and this week's word--too much to skip for the teeny little reason of being three days late to the party...


When I think of "story," she's who I see: a little blondy-ginger two-year-old, gleefully toddling through grass and pavement, mindless of the sidewalks, then slamming on child brakes to hunch down on the bank, so desperate to not only witness but take part and immerse herself in--

--Well, they're just ducks. Any adult can see that. They aren't numerous or particularly pretty. They're sort of milling around in the water, doing their duck thing, but Story is fascinated, caught up, ensorcelled.

She's an actual, real girl, too--this isn't a metaphor. The niece of a friend, and my companion for one afternoon a couple years ago in Centennial Park in Nashville. And my friend's sister named her Story.

I loved this, loved it from the first time Lauren told me--I may have even insisted on meeting this child with The Best Name Ever. I love that this girl will live with this word swept in loopy script over her head every day: You are writing a story, right now, right here, in this. You are your own character, nobody else's. You are making something new, something lasting--but also something fragile and easily remade. There will be clumsy missteps, but they only lead to more interesting paths; there will be crushing mistakes, but redemption is always the better story.