Christmas, Dear Love, Gospel

Chicken Soup

Its funny the things you took for granted that quickly become memory triggers years later. I stand in my kitchen chopping carrots. I always do it wrong. I never learned the proper way to hold your hands, to hold the knife. My dad did. He was always a good cook. He always knew how to fold his fingers away from the blade to protect them. I remember, even as a young girl, standing next to the counter with him, chopping vegetables for the spaghetti. I remember how he would always look down at me and say, “No, Katie, like this.”- He always called me Katie- and He’d take the carrot in one hand with curled fingers, and the knife in the other, and he’d begin to chop. “This way you won’t cut yourself.” And then he’d hand the station over to me and once again I’d begin to chop with fingers ready but still exposed for a knife waiting to chop. I never quite mastered that trick.

Dad always loved cooking. All of us kids picked it up. In our own way, we all spent our fair share in the kitchen, mastering our own favorite dishes. I don’t know why I’m thinking about that now. I don’t know why, as I stand here chopping vegetables and looking out the window to whispers of winter I’m thinking about that now. Funny the way memory is triggered.

My dad is sick. It was a stroke to the brain stem. And now he’s locked into his body, staring, staring, always staring. Unable to move body or words into the space around him. He’s just there, in the hospital, seven hours away from me, staring. And I keep thinking about his mind. Because his mind isn’t staring. Of that I’m sure. No. His mind? His mind is wandering. Around where I’m not sure, but wouldn’t you? If it was the only movement available to you, wouldn’t you wander? Wouldn’t you journey? And I wonder, what memories has he triggered. Does he remember all those days in the kitchen? Does he remember teaching me to chop vegetables, over and over and over? I don’t know. I don’t know what he thinks about. But I can imagine.

My dad is sick. And for the past five days I’ve been in a flare that has caused my own lock in of sorts. Three of those days I spent in a dark bedroom without moving. My body ached from the marrow out. Even the slightest movement of breath rolled my stomach in a tidal wave of nausea. In and out of  sleep I came. And in the waking, in the sleeping, I thought, I wandered. “Why is this happening? Why won’t you take this away? It would be so easy if you could just take this away. With one touch, you could take it all away. Please, please take it away.” And anger would rise, and suddenly surrender. Because who am I to command a sovereign God? And who am I, a sinner, to complain about a world full of sin? And why would I shoo away a holy moment, wrapped in the comforts of a tender God? It was painful, it was aching, but it was tender, and it was precious. For I am my Beloveds and He is mine. And even in my retching and purging all that was within me, He was there. Holding my hair, holding my heart. It was a lock in of sorts, but it was a lock in I will treasure.

I don’t know why this happened. I don’t know why He would heal me of a disease and then allow it to come back. I don’t know. And believe me, I’ve gone through a web of reasons. But I do know this, Sarah was healed. And God gave her, in that year of healing, a blessing that she would watch grow into her legacy. God gave her Isaac. And then her womb closed, and it didn’t open again. But she was not any less healed. And just as God gave to Sarah, so he gave to me. He gave to me, in my year of healing, a blessing. He gave joy, he gave me a taste of the feast that is coming. He gave me truth to a God we cannot put in a box, a God who heals, a God who loves above all else, and works in mystery, so that His will and His glory is forever put first. And just because that year is over, I am no less healed than Sarah was. And I get more. Because yes, I want healing, I will live everyday with the truth that I have healing, but I get more. Because I get to see through the eyes of my dad. My dad who is sick, and locked in, and angry. My dad who is limited. My dad who doesn’t understand why a God who loves Him would do this to him. I get to be there, in his heart, I get to cry and intercede, because I know limitations. And I know confusion. And I know suffering. But I also know Presence. Holy Presence. And I know True Love. And I know Remedy. And He is Jesus. He is my Husband. He is the One who knows me best, who loves me best. And He is there, with my dad, even when my dad can’t see it. And I get to pray that for him.

Winter feels long. Winter feels like death to some. And snow falls, like a corpse blanket, finalizing, and sealing in that death. And we want to know why? And we want to know, ‘How long Lord?’.  And we want to know where the love is in it all.

I pour the chopped vegetables into the stock. Each piece falling, plopping into thick bone broth made to soothe, made to heal. Vegetables chopped, bones boiled, each destroyed, cut up, broken, killed? All to come together and heal. Death for life. Even in Chicken soup I find the gospel. Death for life. Death for healing.

I don’t have answers today. I have lots of tears. I have lots of tears. I don’t have answers. I just have memories. Memories triggered. And whispers of winter. And daydreams of snow.

But even on the snowy days, Love is alive. And the death that seems so deeply penetrating into this earth of ours, is only rest, is only preparation. Like vegetables chopped, like bones boiled for broth. Each a season, each an ingredient. Dry bones come alive. In a soup made for healing. So we might cry with those who can’t. So we might cry with those who won’t. All for love. All for Love.

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A Month of Worry, Christmas

Complete, Perfect, and Lacking in Nothing

I have this problem. I think it may be one of the reasons I worry so much. I am a compare-er. I am always comparing things, to find the better option. And the worst part is that I am always comparing the offerings of God with the offerings of this world.

Somehow, for whatever reason, I have grown up with my mind made up that there are things that I need. These things will make my life complete, perfect, lacking in nothing.

Wait…

Did you catch it? Did you catch what I just did, what I just said? Did I just ask for things of this world to make my life complete, perfect, and lacking in nothing. Haven’t I heard that somewhere else?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1: 2-4, NKJV

I didn’t even hear it until I said it myself. I have gotten so confused, I have compared so much, that I just took words, God words, the Word, and tried to make it work with the world. As if the two could ever mix together.

I think you all know how much I love Christmas. Just in case, I’ll tell you again: I love Christmas. I could live in winter year round if it meant December every day. Christmas every day. But, just like every other thing about the season, I have let the manmade magic warp my wonder. I stare amazed at one tiny Christmas light, forgetting there is a whole sky of bright lights above me. I have let the tiny little lights on my tree glow brighter than the Light of the World.

I compare because I don’t want to wait. I compare because this world says, “Have it now. Have it your way. Have it just the way you like it.” But that is such a lie. Because when we have it now, on our terms, through our manipulations, we come out incomplete, lacking in everything. We aren’t satisfied in the world because the world doesn’t know us. It didn’t create us, it corrupts us. And yet, I am still confused when the corruption doesn’t satisfy. I need living water. I need water that keeps me from thirsting. From comparing. From trying to taste something better. God, let me see that I have living water. Let me taste it, let me drink from fountains that give me real, authentic, beautiful life. And let that living water wash over me. Let it restore and redeem the parts of me I let comparison take. And let it replace the water that leaves me thirsty.

Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

John 4: 6-14, NLT

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Christmas

Gospel Bells

I didn’t plan on writing You a letter tonight. It’s Christmastime and I’ve been caught up in the season, with parties, and friends, and shopping, and such. It’s easy to do.  It’s easy to get caught up in the magic that Your Person brings to our small, little earth. And yet, on moments like this, when I actually stop and realize that I am forgetting the very thing I am celebrating, I like to sit and remember.

So tonight, in this still moment, I want to remember You. I want to remember all the things You are, and have been in my life. There is no one like You. People say that so much, in prayers, in song, in the day to day, that it becomes so cliché. But I hope You hear the truth of those words when I say it… There is no one like You. No other person can stir up the hope and anticipations that You stir within our hearts.

I have never realized how saturated Christmas is in the gospel. We have tried to ignore You, we have tried to turn the story away from its main character. We have tried to dilute the gospel message, and say that Christmas is about other things. But those other things, joy, peace, goodwill to men, these are things that You brought to us. How can Christmas be about these things, and not You, when these things are You. We have tried to forget You, in a world built to remind us of You. And yet, Your love for us does not lessen. You love us just as fervently as You did the day you decided to create us.  And so the magic of Christmas continues. Because within the magic is the soft whispers of Your love. Snow falls oh so silently around us, and wraps us in magic. And we can sense there is something more. Something that settles deep within our souls. Stillness knits into our hearts, echoing ancient truths of you. Merry Christmas becomes more than a greeting, it is an invitation to know You. Oh that we would know You. That we would see You. Let us see more than just red and green. Let us see Your presence, Your person, Your heart.

Let the gospel bells ring as Christmas bells do. Let us hear Your message in these carols. Let fresh snow fall on quiet streets. And let us see overwhelming love fall with it.

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