Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

The Life We Cannot See

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

A couple years ago, some friends of ours were married in Ojai, California. Ojai is an out-of-the-way town nestled in the hills between the busy interstates going in and out of Los Angeles and the scenic California coast. Like many tourist destinations, there are quirky shops and restaurants, nice hotels and a long list of recreation options. But to me, the best part of being in Ojai was the citrus smell. The roads are lined with orange trees and tangerine groves, miles and miles of sweet-smelling fruit.

I’m not sure The Teacher would have enjoyed the sights and smells of our wedding weekend getaway as much as I did. In fact, after reading his opening thoughts in Ecclesiastes 1:1-12, it seems like he might not find much in all of life to enjoy! Listen in to some of those observations, shared here from the Message version:

There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke.
What’s there to show for a lifetime of work,
    a lifetime of working your fingers to the bone?
One generation goes its way, the next one arrives,
    but nothing changes—it’s business as usual for old
        planet earth…

Everything’s boring, utterly boring—
    no one can find any meaning in it.
Boring to the eye,
    boring to the ear.
What was will be again,
    what happened will happen again.
There’s nothing new on this earth.
    Year after year it’s the same old thing.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time, not in Ojai, California, but in a different grove of fruit trees altogether when the world was new, when everything wasn’t full of weariness...

Pop on over to The Mudroom to read the rest. They are feauturing a devotional reflection from Ecclesiastes every Friday in November. Next week: Is "a time for everything" good news or bad news?

When Life Slips Through Your Fingers

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

Every Friday in November, my latest book Ecclesiastes: Life in Full Color is being featured at The Mudroom blog. The following devotional reflection is based my book and the related materials available for small groups.

When it comes to reading and studying the Bible, I totally play favorites. The English major/story teller part of me loves to return to the narratives of Genesis, Ruth and Acts. The singer/poet side of my heart enjoys opening the Psalms and finding ways to sing along. The searching/seeking side of my heart comes back over and over again to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and the letters of Paul in the New Testament.

But the rest of it? Let’s just say that some pages of my Bible tend to stay more crisp than others. The laws and codes of the ancient Hebrews, the long metaphorical prophecies, instructions for building the temple? Sure I’ve read them, blazed through on a journey through the Bible in a year once or twice. But not places I tend to spend much time.

Until recently, Ecclesiastes has been one of those books in my own Bible. Neglected because I didn’t really understand it, passed over in favor of more familiar passages that seem easier to apply to my life as a Christian.

I mean, let’s just look at that opener in chapter 1, verse 2.

 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

Talk about a strange thesis! The Teacher starts his talk with the assertion that everything – all of life - is meaningless. And in case you don’t believe him, he spends the next chapter, really the rest of the book, reasserting how empty and shallow and difficult life can be.

Continue reading at The Mudroom by clicking here

Hanging in to the Finish

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

By the time this post gets published, I will have likely had a baby.

Oh God, please let that be true.

But today, as I sit at my computer with my feet up on the desk, I’m 8 months along and feeling huge and uncomfortable. I have to go to the bathroom all the live-long day. Everything makes me cry. Bending over requires a fully thought out getting-back-up strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. I wanted this pregnancy, celebrated at each happy milestone as the months have progressed, can’t wait to add another little life to our family.

But today? I’m done. D to the O to the N to the E. As in get this guy outta here already.

But no. He’s tucked in tight for a little while longer. And my job is to persevere until this season is finished.

Truth be told, most of life is like this. There are seasons and jobs and sometimes even people we’d like to be done with. But often, we have to wait until the time comes, hanging in there to the finish. The thing I’m trying to remember this week, swollen ankles and all, is how God offers joy and peace in the middle of it.

Continue reading at Middle Places by clicking here

Sometimes It's Good to be Wrong

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

I never wanted to live here.
Colorado? Yes.
Boulder? Absolutely!
In the family dorms on campus behind the football field? Definitely not the dream.

We had a deal. My husband received a sweet fellowship to follow his dream of working in Physics research. I was supposed to get a cute little house on a tree-lined street in the suburbs where I would stay home with my babies.

Except the boss moved the research lab to Michigan.
So the house fell through.
And suddenly we found ourselves thousands of miles from anything we knew with no place to call our own and an uncertain professional future.

Well, not no place. The university housing office offered us a spot, 840 square feet of linoleum floors and concrete walls with neighbors on every side. I knew I should be thankful. There was the nagging voice in my head, reminding me that our new home on campus was more than enough to meet our needs, more than many have the world over.

But I’d been telling myself a story. After living in dorms and apartments for nearly 15 years, I wanted a home. I wanted paint chips and flooring samples. I wanted space for a piano and room to entertain. I’d convinced myself I deserved those things.

It’s a spiritually dangerous place, living as though you’re owed something.

Continue reading at Jen Pollock Michel's blog by clicking here