In Which an Ink Cartridge Reveals the Truth {Book Club}

Last Wednesday morning I read Chapter Four in Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. After basically highlighting every word in “Losing keys: confession and the truth about ourselves” and thinking deep thoughts, I took the final sip of my morning tea and opened my laptop. I am the president of the board for a local ministry and we had a meeting at 9:00 a.m. We were reviewing a recent fundraiser we had hosted and planning next year’s budget based on funds raised and projected income. You know, normal ministry stuff for this time of the year.

I printed off the agenda and a few other documents, closed my laptop, packed my bag and did a quick pass by the printer to pick up the documents. In the afterglow of this lovely chapter, my day was going great. You can see where this is going, right? Somehow I didn’t.

Only one page had printed and the stupid printer greeted me with a cheerful reminder that I was running low on ink. Except, I am not running low on “ink.” I am running low on blue, yellow, and red ink . . . which is why I printed all documents in black and white! Two weeks ago I changed the black ink cartridge and know that my black ink cup floweth over, so where were my documents?!

Reopening my computer, I found the documents I needed to print and then my phone rang! Didn’t people know I was in the midst of a small major crisis? It was the Executive Director of the ministry asking if she had told me where the meeting would be. Externally and calmly, I said she had two weeks before in an email but I appreciated the call. Internally and frantically, I screamed, “Why are you calling me when I am doing battle with the prince of darkness himself in form of my rogue printer?!”

If I hit every green light I could still make it to the meeting on time. On the way, I glanced at my watch and noted the time, 8:52 a.m. At that exact moment, waiting for the light to turn green (Yes, the second light I came to was red, oh the injustice of the entire world!), this chapter crashed like a wave against the shores of my soul.

What had I just read? What was the point of this chapter? The word “redemption” seemed to play hide-and-seek with my memory. For the life of me, I couldn’t recall specifics of this chapter. I had a small chat with myself. I decided that if waking up reminds me I am beloved, and doing something like making the bed reminds me God has invited me into co-creation, glancing at the clock or my watch would become a trigger to remind me of . . . what, I wasn’t sure, but I would review my notes and solidify what I need to learn from this chapter.

Today, one calm morning later I find this gem in the chapter: “For some of us, the idea of repentance can bring to mind a particular emotional experience, or the minor-key songs of an altar call at a revival meeting. But repentance and faith are the constant, daily rhythms of the Christian life, our breathing out and breathing in. In these small moments that reveal my lostness and my brokenness, I need to develop the habit of admitting the truth of who I am—not running to justify myself or minimize my sin. And yet, in my brokenness and lostness, I also need to form the habit of letting God love me, trusting again in his mercy, and receiving again his words of forgiveness and absolution over me.”

Ah, when I look at my watch it will remind me who I am: flawed and loved.

Later Tish wrote, “Over time, through the daily practices of confession and absolution, I learn to look for God in the cracks of my day, to notice what these moments of failure reveal about who I am—my false hopes and false gods. I learn to invite the true God into the reality of my lostness and brokenness, to agree with him about my sin and to hear again his words of blessing, acceptance, and love.”

I have no doubt God is also bringing these words to life in your ordinary days too. I can’t be the only one who read this and did battle with a printer. Right? Friends, don’t leave me hanging! Share in the comments how this slower reading and communally sharing in the comments is both revealing who you are and forming you towards who you can be.

And if you happen to need a document printed in black ink, I may or may not be able to help. Ha! See you in the comments.

Amy

P.S. Here’s the reading schedule for Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life:

October 16: Chapters 2-3, October 23: Chapter 4, October 30: Chapters 5-6, November 6: Chapters 7-8, November 13: Chapter 9, November 20: Chapter 10, November 27: Chapter 11

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

11 Comments

  1. Keri Christensen October 22, 2018

    Amy, you are not alone. As I read your words I hear your voice and for some reason this morning I am brought to tears. The truth of the ordinary resonates with my inability to remember his faithfulness five minutes later. Perhaps it’s me picturing you drive through our home state in the fall with golden leaves and blue skies that makes me long for home. Then I remember in the life of the ordinary my home is not my home. It is not the same place I left 5 years ago. People have been born, married, and died since I left. All of which is quite ordinary but somehow feels exordinary today. Amy, as I type my morning musings, I am thinking of you and thanking the father for you. Blessings to you! Keri

  2. Julie B October 23, 2018

    Well – I can relate to the lost keys……but more here in East Asia my need for repentance is revealed more and more with slo-o-o-w internet! Oh my some days are more frustrating than others! ” I glimpsed, for a few minutes, how tightly I cling to control and how little control I actually have.” I hate to admit it but I resemble that remark!

    “This is not the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This is the roadside ditch of broken things and lost objects, the potholes of gloom and unwanted interruptions.” Sometimes I act like like it is the Shadow of death – and yet I love her statement, “….and here, in my petty anger and irritation, is where the Savior deigns to meet me.” Again as she says so well…..”the lost keys provide a moment of revelation, revealing the lostness inside me and my misplaced reliance.”
    Oh yes….I loved this chapter and the reminder that the mundane annoyances of life show off those cracks in my pot and how much I am in need of His grace. And her concluding statement – ” God searches more earnestly for me than I do for my keys.” If only I could remember that in the moment of my angst!

    1. Abigail November 7, 2018

      Julie, me too! And VPN issues, etc. I highlighted many parts of the chapter about the lost keys. And this really hit me, as I read it around the time I thought I lost my wedding ring on our trip. I had hidden it so well that I couldn’t find it at first. It’s those moments when I’m just filled with such dread, and the more I try to remember where I put it, the more I couldn’t (effects of stress affecting memory, I know). Thankfully I found it not too long after, after pr ing desperately for help. It really does show the lies I believe about being in “control” of anything. Yes, I pr that He brings that to mind!

  3. Rachel Kahindi October 23, 2018

    When she told the story of the dryer, dishwasher, and ceiling fan breaking within a few hours, she was telling my life story. It’s never just one thing. And yes, it does feel like the universe has me on a hit list sometimes. “And it exposes my idolatry of ease, my false hope in comfort and convenience—I just want things to run smoothly.”

    Then she goes on to talk about how well she can put faith in God during real, actual suffering, but daily annoyances…not so much. “My theology was too big to touch a typical day in my life. I’d developed the habit of ignoring God in the midst of the daily grind.” So me. Of course I trust God in a true crisis, and he takes care of me and fills me with peace. But I expect to be able to handle daily life on my own instead of “cultivat(ing) the practice is meeting Christ in these small moments of grief, frustration, and anger.”

  4. Maria Mullet October 23, 2018

    So I just read the chapter and now I’m entering the rest of my day and my week with a bit of trepidation – what printer cartridge breakdowns or lost key episodes are headed my way? 🙂 Both stories things I can completely relate to – but I never drew the connection between how the ordinary can bring out the truest sense of my brokenness. Living cross-culturally, I see this all.the.time. For some reason, it’s the tiny things that make me want to snarl. The way no one really heeds a red light, or it’s ok to show up an hour late, or I could go on. I hate the ugliness of my flesh comes roaring to the surface in irritation at these small, mundane things. These things show “that I am profoundly in need of grace.”
    What impacted me the most profoundly in this chapter is that directly following my repentance, I need to remind myself of the redemption and love that follows. “I also need to form the habit of letting God love me, trusting again in his mercy, and receiving again his words of forgiveness and absolution over me.”
    I am pretty certain that lost keys are a part of my future – so are printer mishaps – oh that this act of repentance and then acceptance of God’s redemption would follow!

  5. Bethany Dunn October 23, 2018

    Man, I needed this today. It has been exactly this since 5am yesterday morning, and I was beginning to break down. I needed the reminder. Thank you, friend, for sharing your printer struggles and honest (all-too-familiar) reaction. 🤣

  6. Shelly October 23, 2018

    From Maria’s post: I need to remind myself of the redemption and love that follows. “I also need to form the habit of letting God love me, trusting again in his mercy, and receiving again his words of forgiveness and absolution over me.”
    This is powerful. How often do I NOT run to Papa for the help (and love) I need in my moment of failure – relying on myself, plowing over someone in my effort to control some corner of my world, being bossy with my dad – all because I fear I have been forgiven too much already. Yes, receive again (and again and again…) His words of forgiveness and absolution!
    When living in China, my “lost key” moments were commonly internet connection problems (not just slow speeds) and printer drivers missing when lessons needed to be planned for the next day. Yikes!

  7. Sarah C Hilkemann October 23, 2018

    Oh yes, it is so the little things that absolute get to me! Slow internet, yes and Amen. Ants absolutely send me into a tailspin and my peace disappears. When I lived in a village for a year there were endless things and I had no capacity to see God’s goodness shining through all the cracks, or any idea of my belovedness. The challenge of giving myself grace when the little things undo me is one I’m definitely pondering.

  8. Jessica Evans October 24, 2018

    YES. This chapter keeps whispering its truth to me throughout this past week. I love the idea of “meaningless interruptions, sheer failure, lostness and brokenness” becoming “moments of redemption and remembering.” How quickly my day too goes from 60 to 0 when I desperately want it to go the other way! The thought of Christ meeting me in these moments and letting grace seep into this daily brokenness is comforting. (For me, searching for lost items and not being able to acquire the things on my shopping list seem to send me into a downward spiral. The indignation I feel when I put in so much effort to go grocery shopping and they are out of three of the six things I need. Several other choices are on display but I NEED what I wrote down on my list and my good day goes dark. God must constantly meet me in my grocery shopping!)

    1. Abigail November 7, 2018

      SO good! Thank you for sharing how Christ meeting you in those moments with grace is comforting. I want to see and experience that. Oh, yes, going to the certain supermarket that consistently carries what I NEED but then suddenly doesn’t. I was thankful to note progress in my reaction to that when I went to Walmart for chicken breasts for a recipe and they suddenly didn’t have any. Normally I would’ve complained loudly to my husband, but in that moment there was somehow grace to just say “That’s disappointing” without getting all bent out of shape. That had to be Him!!!

  9. Spring November 5, 2018

    . I am really enjoying this book. And the keys mantra? My daily life. At times I question the reasons behind my disorganized chaos. I can’t tell you how many times a week I offer my children a dollar if they find the item I am missing. I own 5 pairs of glasses, and yet there are times when all of them are missing. I actually recently had a keys experience. I couldn’t find my phone for the life of me. We were leaving the area to go back home (4 hours away) and I needed to find it. Because of the chapter, I decided to sit and eat breakfast. After calmly approaching, it I did find my phone! I was so thankful for the reminder of where my peace comes from and where I can find it in the everyday.

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