Figuring Out Brokenness


For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

 ~Psalms 51:16-17

I do not like the idea of brokenness, in fact, I try all day every day to be the opposite of broken–in my parenting, in my marriage, in my friendships, even in my walk with God.  Being broken means my messy parts in all of these areas are exposed, which means I might have to admit I have messy parts.  And I don’t like to do that.

The irony is that in my trying to be a “good Christian/mom/wife/friend” I am actually pushing God away.  Of course he wants me to strive after righteousness, but when I become prideful or self-sufficient in my pursuit of Godliness or the other roles in my life, I fall completely short of His delight in me.  Look at the scripture above.  He does not delight in my material sacrifice–pleasing him with good deeds, striving for perfection, or looking good in my life.  He actually delights in my brokenness and a contrite heart (realizing my need for atonement).  When I stop ignoring or hiding my messy parts–the fight I just had with my husband, the impatient way I snapped at my child, the gossip that slipped from my tongue, the bag of chocolate Hershey eggs that I just frantically consumed, I truly feel the pain of my brokenness.

And I experience the desperate need for a Savior.

It is the place where pride and brokenness meet that God can work His great grace and love in our lives.  There is not room for both, and a broken heart for God must push into that space with greater force.

Sometimes the reality of our sin is overwhelming and impossible to ignore.  We feel crushed and almost hopelessly distant from the love of a good God.

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. ~Psalm 34:18

Yet, these God-breathed words can wash over us during this time.  He is so near in our complete weakness, because we have no pride to consume all the air we need him to breathe into us.

If we want to experience a deep relationship with God, where we feel his presence, his love and his mercy, then we can rejoice in our brokenness, for it draws Him near to us.  How wonderful to be messy.




How To Eat A Pie

This might surprise you, but there is more than one way to eat a pie.  I know, because this is what the current pie I am eating looks like:


Why? Because it was my birthday yesterday and my dear friend Christine brings me a freshly baked (by her own hands) pie each year on this one day.  The pie comes with strict instructions: “DO NOT SHARE.” Which gives me great freedom to dig that fork in any which way I want.  I can just have a bite (ha!) or I can have a third of the creation all at once.

In my pursuit of slowing down and being grateful, this is finding extra meaning for me this year.  I am savoring the bites, and even flaunting them a bit in front of my children, who don’t really like apple pie (fortunately).  I am grateful, and I am living in the moment of the sugar and crust and delicious filling.

It’s nice having freedom for once to not conform to the “rules of the pie”–eight symmetrical slices to be shared and eaten politely on a plate.

It’s interesting that the rule my friend gave me actually gave me freedom.

Have you ever thought about that with the Christian life?

Too often we don’t see rules as leading to freedom, instead we see them as necessary evils that we either fight against or embrace legalistically:

“We shouldn’t wear this, we need to say that, we certainly don’t do those things, did you see what that person did?”  We tend to make it sound all judgy, with shouldn’ts and should haves. We heap expectations on others, while often ignoring our own misfires.

But God’s real plan for us is freedom.  How do we reconcile both?

Here are some thoughts:

God knew in his wisdom that some ways of doing life are better than others.  That is the key to understanding Jesus, and his tangible effort to connect us with his Father, followed by his death on the cross paying for our sin.  We have no laws anymore, no sacrifices to redeem us enough to be in God’s presence once again.  It is done.  We are connected through repentance and faith and belief.  We have freedom.

We also have choices to make every day, some good, some bad.  Our freedom to choose can sometimes be the very thing that imprisons us.  Adultery, murder (literally imprisons), dishonesty, gluttony, envy, idolatry,  just to name a few.

Back to the pie… what if I always ate a pie set before me this crazy, one-forked big-holed way?  What if I dug in to a delicious warm apple round at a party with my prongs, carving out the middle, going back in several times to get the best bites in front of a group of wide eyes.  Um, yuck.  My party days would be over.

God knows that some ways to live our life (eat our pie) are better than others, which is why in His Word he gives us instructions, guidelines, even commandments.  He knows that some “free” decisions in life lead to heartbreak, pain, suffering.

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander of every kind.” 1 Peter 2:1.

Throughout the bible, God speaks of obedience and righteousness, and He also speaks of hope and grace and a future.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you , who through faith are shielded by God’s power…” 1 Peter 1: 3-5

God has an inheritance for us, a living hope and a new birth.  He is not all about rules, there is so much more!

Yet he knows that if we tank our life in sin, we get buried in the heap of mess, guilt, regret, and shame.  There is no freedom in that.

Which is why there is freedom in the word of God, with all its wisdom and guidelines.

We are to live a life of passion and love because of the great love God has for us, his children.   At the same time, let’s pursue righteousness–let’s serve and obey God because we want to out of our love for Him, and because we trust him with our best life.

This is the balancing act of the Christian life.


















A Random Act of Grace and a Cherry Pie Recipe

A Random Act of Grace
by Sandi Patty

My dad, Ron Patty, was the youngest of nine kids. When he was a boy, he and his buddies would play football in the street of their small-town neighborhood. Invariably, someone would miss a catch or kick the ball too far, and then their one and only football would land in Old Lady Russell’s yard.

This was not a good thing. Old Lady Russell had a “thing” about her yard, and she obviously didn’t like kids either because if she caught one of the boys sneaking into her yard to get the ball back, she’d come out and rant and rave at them. The boys would move down the street to play for awhile, but eventually they’d end up back in front of her house, and inevitably the ball would land in her yard again.

The boys would draw straws or flip a coin or in some other way decide who the unlucky fellow was who would have to sneak into her yard to get the ball, but Old Lady Russell apparently had nothing better to do than stand by her window and watch for the trespasser to arrive. She’d fly out the door, ranting and raving as the poor kid grabbed the football and hightailed it down the street.

One day she decided she’d teach those ornery boys a lesson. When the ball landed on her lawn, she was ready for it. She trotted out the door, snatched the ball up off the grass, and disappeared with it into her house.

No more football.

None of the boys was brave enough to go knock on Old Lady Russell’s door to ask for their football back. They knew what the answer would be. The youngsters headed home, dejected and miserable.

My grandmother, Grace Patty, noticed that Dad had come home in the middle of the afternoon. She watched as he collapsed into a heap in the chair and miserably slapped his ball cap against his knee.

“What happened, Tyke?” she asked her young son, calling him by his family nickname.

He told his mom what had happened. She listened attentively, nodding and empathizing. “That’s too bad, son,” she said. “I know how you all enjoy playing with that football.”

“Yeah, well that’s over and done with now,” Dad said morosely.

Grandma returned to the kitchen, and Dad slumped around the house. Pretty soon, though, he smelled something. His mom was baking a cherry pie. Well, that cheered him up some. He loved his mom’s cherry pie. But just as his appetite was at its peak and he spotted the pie cooling on the kitchen table, Grandma Grace (oh, how perfect her name was!) threw him for a loop. She sat the pie on a tea towel inside a cardboard box and handed it to Dad.

“Tyke, I thought I’d make a cherry pie for Old Lady Russell. Can you take it over to her house?”

“Mom! Are you crazy? There’s no way I’m taking her a pie,” Dad said. “She’s a mean old lady, and she doesn’t deserve a pie. Did you not hear me say she stole our football? And besides that, she’ll probably kill me if I come into her yard, let alone if I knock on her door.”

Grandma acted like she didn’t even hear him. “I was just thinking she’s probably lonely since she lives all by herself,” she said. “I know it’s hard to make yourself cook when there’s just one person. I’ll bet she would enjoy a cherry pie. So just tell her it’s from you and that you were thinking about her. Don’t ask for the football back. Just say you’re sorry and you didn’t mean to make her mad and would she like a pie.”

So with great fear and trepidation, Tyke carried the cherry pie down the street and through the gate into Old Lady Russell’s yard. He balanced the box on one knee as he nervously knocked on the door. Then, when she came to the door, he stuck out the box and said, “This is a cherry pie from me and my mom. We thought you might like it.”

Well, Old Lady Russell just melted. She invited Dad in. And although he still wasn’t sure she wasn’t luring him in to kill him (and, for heaven’s sakes, we wouldn’t send our kids into a stranger’s house today!), Dad went on in. They had a little visit, and she even offered to cut him a piece of the pie. Then she gave him the football back. And from that day forward, the kids never had a problem with Old Lady Russell. In fact, she would occasionally sit on her front porch and watch with great delight as the neighborhood boys played their football games.

What a lesson Dad learned that day. It’s one he never forgot. One that he taught to his children, including a daughter named Sandi (and one that I’ve taught my children too). It was a lesson that illustrated the power of a random act of kindness—a random act of grace.






  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  •  4 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  •  1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  1 cup white sugar
  •  4 cups pitted cherries
  •  1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons butter


1.    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Place bottom crust in pie pan.  Set top crust aside, covered.

2.    In a large mixing bowl combine tapioca, salt, sugar, cherries and extracts.  Let stand 15 minutes. Turn out into bottom crust and dot with butter. Cover with top crust, flute edges and cut vents in top. Place pie on a foil lined cookie sheet — in case of drips!

3.    Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown.

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