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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Dear Love, Holy Moments, life making, Praise Songs

He Brings Grace Like FireFlies

It is the end of summer. And my soul aches to say goodbye to it. Number two pencils have begun to  fill jars instead of sweet tea and crisp burst of air invade mornings hinting to a new season. So many have eagerly awaited the fall, and as each leaf drops there is a momentary celebration as they anticipate all the more to come: bonfires, holidays, and that inspiration that seems to accompany the season. But for me, I can’t help but wish I could have a few more days of summer. All I can think is where did the time go? How did this season, this season full of so much fun, so much to do, end so quickly? And my heart chews while I look out the window. And I realize I am watching time pass right in front of me, stillness is only a trick of the eye, and even in my awareness it is a magic trick I can not figure.  

I am southern through and through. And I roll around in the hot season like a dog on grass, mouth open, tongue out, tail wagging. It is the magic of the season that I cling to. Summer days, summer nights, and memories that smear into ideas. Memories of childhood. Memories of running through sprinklers with my brothers and sister, while wearing that swimsuit-the one with the iridescent purple- all day long and deep into night, catching fireflies in between gloppy spoonfuls of half melted ice cream, memories of laughter, so much laughter. Is that why it calls to me still? On nights so humid that I feel the curtain of vapor that hangs heavy in the air, my own theater, with its cicada symphony tuning up, readying its song, making melody in its own kind of chaos. The conductor taps for attention, and suddenly light. My mind its own kind of camera. And there is action. As fireflies light up the sky, light up the trees, light up the air, swooping, jumping, gliding. Its own miniature ballet. And I, all child and wonder, am captivated by the season. I sit in my front row seat with mouth ajar, and memories smear into idea. Yes, it is the magic of the season that I cling to.

I watch them. Those tiny dancers in the sky. I wonder why they charm me so much. But I find myself watching, glued to their choreography. I cannot look away. They are brief moments of joy, arranged in sequence, one after the other, for my delight, for my pleasure. Moments of grace. Moments of joy.

Yes.

Moments of joy.

The phrase catches me off guard. Had I forgotten joy? In the midst of sitting out the season I loved so much, in the midst of watching rather than experiencing, had I forgotten about the very thing that makes me smile? When was the last time I felt joyful? When was the last time I sought it out, looked for it as often as I look for my keys? When was the last time I considered myself a joyful person? Consider it all Joy, brothers, when you fall into various trials. Trials? Yes, I had that. But joy? I’m not so sure. Consider it all joy when you fall. Fall? Yes, it feels like a fall. I hear the oomph as I hit the hard pavement of a broken world. I look down to scratched knees and trickling blood. I feel the burn of air to exposed nerves. So many exposed nerves. So much burning. I fell. I fall. I keep falling. Trial after trial after trial. How do I find joy in the fall, in the falling into?

My mind comes back to the moment. I am sitting under full moon in the land where fireflies come together. One by one they unite in their synchronized  dance. I smile. I half giggle. I reach for them. I remember. I remember the nights mom sent me outside with a jar in hand. A jar to catch as many as I could, jumping into the air, hands cupping into the sky to seize the moment (moments of grace? Moments of joy?), to seize those dancers, but what else? It is more than just bug catching that made those nights so memorable. It is more than just creatures pulled to jar.

It is joy. Joy that sweeps in and out of those days and nights. It is joy that sweeps in and out of these. Like a child I run here and there with my jar, catching them like fireflies, hoarding them in my little catcher, determined to gather, determined to keep my stock, determined to press face hard against glass and watch the glow. The wom!, wom!, wom! of light that fills air, fills sky. If but only for a brief moment it is enough, it is enough to fill dark moments with hope, for another glow, and another, and another. And like a child addicted to the thrill I watch. I whisper. I watch, quiet and still, careful not to scare the magic of hope away. It is sacred. These summer nights thick and muggy. It is sacred. These nights of magic as I watch grace spread out and fill the backyard, fill the trees, fill the air. And bouts of light appear. Suddenly, and just as quickly it is gone. The moment fickle. But I do not care. Because the magic has thrilled me. He has thrilled me! And I am child once more, bubbling laughter out and over like a fountain, like a fountain of pure joy. And I know. I know my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. And so I run, I run into His creation, I run into thick, muggy, humid life and I let drops of vapor cling to me. Because it is hot, and it is stale. But in the hot, in the stale, whether it be middle or end (does it really matter?) yes, in the hot the fireflies come. In the hot the magic bursts into open air. In the hot, not in the cold, life comes out of crooks and crannies, birthing, birthing, always birthing. And light is found. Yes, in the hot it comes. In the trials. Consider it all joy when you fall into trials. Consider it all joy, for it is in the hot, in the trial that hope can thrill. It is in the trial that the fireflies burst their light. He brings grace like fireflies. And it is only in the hot, muggy nights I see them. Only in the dark is their magic spectacular. Only in the trial does the wonder come. Yes, I see it now. Consider it joy when you fall into various trials. Consider it joy, clap hands in wonder with each catch. Knowing that the testing of your faith, the catching of these moments produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect, complete, lacking in nothing.
It is the end of summer. And my soul aches to say goodbye to it. But I hold my jar, full of grace, full of joy. Little glowing reminders of the hope He has for me. My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. And I see Him in every glow in that jar. He is my grace. He is my joy. He brings grace like fireflies. And light, light, always light, sometimes in moments, sometimes in hours, sometimes in whole seasons. And no matter its length, I do not care, Because the light has thrilled me, and I know, I know, my help comes from the Lord. For I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.

 

Psalm 121:2 | James 1:2-4 | Song of Songs 6:3

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A New Day, Dear Love, Holy Moments, Love Story

Cups

My whole life I have dreamed of my wedding. Of being a bride. Of being a wife. Over and over and over again I dressed my dolls in white, traipsed them back and forth across brown carpets letting them walk imaginary aisles towards their grooms. When my mom went to work I would sneak into her closet, dressing myself in lace scarves and gloves all white and stare, always stare into the mirror and into my imaginations. I was not a girl playing dress up. I was a bride. I was beautiful. I was wanted and loved.

As the years passed I fell asleep dreaming of him. The one that I would meet who would want me over any other. The one who would, on one knee, look up at me with eyes so genuine, asking me to be the one he would wake up to, share coffee with, while morning sun spilled down smiling faces and into cups, the one I would drive to not so far off adventures on weekends, laugh, share life.

As I got sicker, I wondered if he would care. Would he love me enough to find joy in protecting me, providing for me even when there wasn’t much I could give back? Would the sick get in the way of the love? Would it still be worth it to him? I walked into events, always looking. Was he that one? Or the one leaning against the wall? Or the one laughing with friends in the middle of the room there? Was he here? Or would I meet him next week, at the the Starbucks on Morrel? My eyes were always looking, my heart was always wanting. The little girl in me still staring into her imaginations.

And I don’t know how exactly the sickness took the attention. But slowly, I noticed less and less, as the caring dwindled and the keeping up rose. And slowly it was other things that took my attention, namely the basics, the everyday needs of life that suddenly felt so much heavier than they ever felt before. And I didn’t care so much about finding him, because there were too many other things that deemed themselves prevalent.

Isn’t that how it goes? The child in us, ever hungry for relationship and love, seeks out, longs for, hopes in. And time goes by and we age through circumstances, and independence and necessity for the to-do’s and the to-get-done’s becomes louder and louder and suddenly relationship no longer seems vital, and love is merely a luxury rather than a need. But the to-do’s and the-need-to-get-done’s, that never ending list, that always-being-added-to list grows heavier and heavier to the burden of our backs and for a girl, like me,  who can’t notice details in the healthy, it is an impossibility in the sick. And suddenly, I was thick in the quicksand of self-sufficiency. Gurgling calls of help as fingers sunk deep into sand. And my mind went back to the One, the One who loves me over any other, and I couldn’t see Him, but He said He was there. He said He would never leave me. And suddenly, again, I was reminded that it was His presence I needed over any other.

And so we talked. He and I. We talked. And I told Him all of it. Every day. Ever hour. We talked and I reminded the One who didn’t need reminding. And we talked, while morning sun spilled down not so smiling faces and into cups. Into cups I didn’t want. Into cups I never asked for. Into cups I hoped to rid myself of.

If you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

Into cups that gave more than just drink. Into cups I found more than just relief of thirst.

This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you…

Cups of covenant. Cups of remembrance. Cups of relationship. Cups of love. And over those cups, He asked me what I wanted.

Ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you.

What I wanted. What I wanted? Did I even know? I had always wanted a husband. And that dream seemed so long ago. Slowly, life shook and cracked and crumbled around me. The strippings of a world no longer necessary, a world full more of superficiality than I had ever noticed before. What I wanted. How could such an easy question feel so difficult. Words that felt so tangible I rolled them around in my fingers. Possibilities flipping through my mind, and after so much, they no longer seemed important. I wanted security, but money no longer seemed necessary. I wanted peace, but at what store do we buy peace? I wanted to breathe, but how do I send off for breath? But a husband. The age old desire circled back into my mind. The little girl in me hoped, but the worn, tired heart wanted more.

“A husband.”

My answer, alone, exposed, and unsure. My answer, reeking vulnerability as I placed it there, open on this table of discussion, this table among cups. I looked to Him. I looked at Him. His words, an open invitation into more, but did I want more? And what did my answer mean? A husband. A husband? I thought again. I rolled those words over and over my fingers, like a marble and a trick I never knew I had.

I said it again, “A husband.”

Confident and sure. It grew in me. And slowly, with each time spoken, I knew. I knew what I wanted.

A husband.

Tears fell. Cups were poured. Covenant. Remembrance. Relationship. Love.

Memories came. Aching, longing, difficult memories. Reminders of all the moments. Those strippings of life, of hopes, of dreams, of security, of security feigned. I looked back on all the years, years stolen by drought and famine. By pain and loneliness. By disease. By fear. I looked back at those memories. At looked at the cups He poured now. It had to be Him. It had to be Him! I cried. Tears fell. I poured out into those cups. My aches, my pains, my fears. Never before had I realized. Never before had I seen what I really longed for. Never before did I know. But I now knew. Now I saw. In the multitude of this famine, this drought of the soul, this drought of my life. No job, no car, no thing. No things. No security, tangible and sure. Just aches, just pains. No insurance, no remedy. No remedy? A husband. Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find. A remedy. A husband. Even in saying it I slowed my breath, I slowed my heart. And question turned to confidence. My eyes and mind focused together. It had to be Him. With realization I looked up and I saw, I saw the cups He placed before me with new eyes.

It is the lie of the enemy. Self sufficiency. Independence. The American dream. It is the lie of the enemy. I do not need anyone else, I can do this on my own. Provider? Protector? I can do it. I can make it. It is the lie of the enemy. And we fall so easily. We let it coat our souls like oil lathering skin. We sit in it. We get comfortable in it. Yes, this feels good. And so we settle in. We believe. We get up and go to work, we earn our money, we watch our bank accounts fill. We gather our manna. We eat our fill. We think, “I have gathered. I have done this. Look at what I have done.” And we forget our Husband. The one who gave. The one who provided. The one who filled. It is the lie of the enemy. I see with new eyes.

“It has to be you,” I say. Once again, I look across the table, past the cups and into the eyes that have never moved. “It has to be you.”

I pick up the cup. “Drink this in remembrance of Me,” He says. I drink. I drink from the cup. I accept the covenant gladly. “With this ring, I thee wed.” I drink. Because it has to be Him. It has to be Him. He is my husband. He is my protector. He is my provider. And were it not all stripped from me, would I have seen it? I look around my kitchen, I look at these walls, these pots and pans, these pretty things. And then I see the sun, dripping down these walls, these pots and pans, these pretty things. He is in it. He is in it all, and yet I hardly see. Not until today. It has to be Him. I want no other. No other husband. I only want Him. And so I drink. Hearty, mouth gulping, pouring down my chin, drink. The new covenant of His blood. Covenant. He and I. My greatest and only Love. I drink, and with each drink, I know. I have found the One my soul loves.

Drink this cup in remembrance of me.

I drink. And I remember. And I with grateful gulps I remember. I remember what He has done. I remember what He does. I remember what He will do. For my maker is my Husband, whose name is the Lord of hosts; And my Redeemer is the Holy one of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. My Maker is my Husband. It had to be Him. It was always Him. With this ring I thee wed. With this cup I thee wed. I drink. And I am loved.
It was always Him.

 

Luke 22:42 | I Corinthians 11:25-26 | Song of Songs 3:4 | Isaiah 54:5

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A New Day, Dear Love, Healing From the Inside Out, Love Story, The Plans He Has for You

In The Lap of Love

It started with a problem. With two. With four. Multiplying and adding up until soon like bees they swarmed around my head. And there were so many, so many that stung. I remember crying. I remember biting my tongue to keep the tears from coming. I remember the chin tremors, the heaving shoulders. I remember it was all just too much. And I was mad. I was so mad. Angry. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. Burned out. Confused. Tired. Sad. Grieving. Yes, I was all of those. And more.

And so much more.

Everything felt wrong. Everything felt heavy. I had worked it over and over in my head. I had thought through a million different options. A million different answers. A million different exercises and choices and things that could work or may not but at least I could say I had tried. But in the end they all felt like that thing we can’t make sense of. That thing between a rock and a hard place. They all felt stuck. And so I kept thinking, and I kept trying, but mostly I just kept crying. Because it was hard. It is hard. And it didn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense how He could see all of this. See me go through all of this, and just do nothing. Why wasn’t He doing something? Why wasn’t He stepping in and fighting for me? Because I was tired, and I was weak and suddenly it was all too much. And I couldn´t make any sense of it. Didn´t want to. I was too burned out to put any more thought into it, and yet it was the only thing I could think about.  Just this rock. Just this hard place. I couldn’t see any other thing. And so we talked, Jesus and I. We talked and I poured out my heart. Poured out my fears. Poured out every ounce of me that couldn’t handle this life. And He just sat there, and listened to me. Like He always does. He´s always open to listen to me. Even when it’s what I think I shouldn’t be saying. He sat there and He listened to me.  And suddenly I found myself saying something I never expected to say.

“Jesus it was so much easier for you than it is for me.You had no problems”

I don’t know where I was going with this thought but suddenly, like a snowball, it just rolled out of me, growing bigger and bigger as I spoke. It felt like blasphemy. But it also felt so right. And so I kept it. And I chewed on it like a wound on the side of a cheek. And whether or not I wanted to it was something I kept finding myself going back to. It didn’t seem right and yet I couldn’t see a fault in it.

No problems…

No problems.

I chewed.

And it stung

I chewed again.

And like truth always does, something resonated.

No problems.

Yes, somehow I think that’s right. It felt so wrong to say, but the more I looked, the more I confirmed.

And so I thought back. Looked back. Compared. I looked at His life. I looked at mine. And then back to His. I compared and compared until I couldn’t do it anymore. Me and Jesus. My life. His life. All my pains, and all my blessings. All my loss. All my gain. All His pains. All His blessing. All His loss. All His gain. It didn’t make sense. In every comparison I came out the winner.  

I lie night after night in a bed made up with pillows and blankets, and He continually had no place to lay His head.  I have never had to think of where a meal was coming from, even in the tightest  days. And yet, I think how many times did He have to look to the mercy of others. How often did He change out his garments, buy new ones. I thought of my closet, full and overflowing. He never had a full time job, never kept an incoming salary, and yet, yet there was something more. His life was indeed exceeding and abundant. His life was joy.  His life was happiness.  His life was abundant. It didn’t make sense. But I couldn’t stop coming back to it.

No problems.

No problems.

Yes, of that I was sure. Jesus had no problems.

And so, there must be something more.

I looked over His life again.

“What am I missing?” I asked Him. “What is it that I can’t see?” I looked. I looked again. My brain chewed on those thoughts soon creating a knob of mental flesh.  Quietly, He spoke. “The Father.”

The Father. You had the Father.

I looked back over His life, and I finally saw what I never saw before. I finally saw the difference between Him and me. The everyday difference. Everyday. ¨You spent everyday in the lap of your Father. You spent every day in the lap of Love. It wasn’t just desire. It was necessity. He was your life source. Love was your life source.¨

I and the Father are one. Even as you, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.

I and the Father are one.

Could it have been more than just a declaration of divinity? Could I really have read it wrong all these years. Could it have been a declaration of identity? A declaration of security?

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist through him.

It was so much more. He had no problems. He trusted in His Father. Looked to His Father. No, there were no problems. Trials? Temptations? Pain? Suffering? Yes, absolutely. But not problems. How could there be?  He sat every day in the lap of Love. Trusted every iota to the Giver of good gifts. Communed continually with Jehovah Jireh. If He didn’t have then His Father would provide. Either through the power of the Holy Spirit, or generosity of those around Him. And if He knew there would always be provision, then there was nothing to fear. And with no fear, there are no problems.

When there is no fear there are no problems.

I chewed again. It was a meaty thought. And suddenly, I began to digest.

Problems aren’t really problems. Problems are only moments of fear. Moments in which we can’t see the way out. But perfect love casts out fear. And when we soak in the reality of Love we have no fear. And with no fear comes no problems. Every problem is just the inability to see His provision. Every problem. Every problem is just a moment of fear. Every problem.  But when we walk through the problems. When we see what we are truly afraid of, light shines in and darkness is overwhelmed. When we walk through problems so that we may sit in the lap of He Who Is Love, when we talk out our fears and see that He holds them in His hand, that He carries us past our problems, past the wilderness and into promise, then fear is conquered and we are left only to love. Only to be in love. Only to soak in its fragrance. Only to find joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. And when we walk through our problems and collapse in the presence of Love we gain boldness and courage and days are no longer weary, and nights are no longer long. When we walk through our fears and into the presence of God the Father, when we learn how to sit in His lap and depend, consist, survive off His love, we find the provision rather than the problem. And when we find the provision, life begins to happen.

Walls begin to crumble. Hurt begins to heal. Color begins to shine.

When there is no fear there are no problems only provision. And when we find the provision, life begins to happen.

John 10: 30 |    John 17 :21|   I Corinthians 8:6

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Dear Love, Love Story, When It Gets Dark

My Romance

I dreamed last night. And in that dream, there I stood: alone. In the middle of a makeshift gym court turned dance floor. I was there all alone as Tony Bennett crooned his romance through old speakers that crackled in rhythm to his song. And I wanted to dance. I wanted so much to dance. But I was alone and broken and weary. And with that broken spirit, all I could muster was a slight sway. Back and forth, off to one side, and then to the other. There, in the middle of an unnamed high school basketball court. All alone on thick glossed floors, alone in the spotlight. But as I swayed, suddenly He was there. Walking towards me, with hands held out- for me and only me. Nail scarred hands, open and inviting and seeking me. Tony Bennett sang about his romance and all the while I experienced my own as my greatest love walked up to me, took my hand in His and suddenly we were dancing.  

He and I. The One who loves me more than I could ever know. My Greatest and Oldest love twirled me on the dance floor, all the while inviting me to more.

“I have not forsaken you.” He said.

“It feels like you have.” I whispered back.

His hands held mine just a little bit tighter.

“Trust in me with all your heart. Don’t lean on your feelings.

I couldn’t speak. Too much grief in my throat choked any words I could speak. But even in my grief, we danced. His hands held me as if I was His most precious possession. And in His presence I was perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. Even in all my insecurities, I felt secure. In the entirety of all my doubt nothing hung in the balance. I laid my head on His shoulder. I pressed my burdens onto Him, and let everything blur into redemption. We swayed. Back and forth, back and forth, relaxing into our steady rhythm, and there was no one or no thing but us. And I don’t even know how long we stayed like that rocking together as He soothed my anxious heart. Minutes. Hours. Days. We rocked. Back and forth, back and forth, until a splash stole my attention. And as I looked down at our feet I watched as ocean water pooled below us. I don’t even know where it came from or how it got there. And just like every other thing I seemed to be coming up against, it made no sense. Water on a dance floor? It wasn’t even an inch deep, but there it was, whooshing its sea foam around us, our own little riptide.

And I remembered. I remembered that time I stood there on the shore watching the tide come in. Watching the sunset. Watching the beauty, completely entranced. I remembered how He was next to me then. “Stop worrying about the details, just focus on the beauty of what I am doing, Beloved.” That’s what He told me way back then, and it was what I was reminded of in that dream. That dream that seemed all too real. 

“Deeper waters, Beloved. I am taking you to deeper waters. Don’t lean into your own understanding. Trust in me with all your heart.”


My eyes opened and suddenly I was no longer in that gym but awake in the darkness of my bedroom.  But even in the darkness of midnight, He was still there. And I could see with refreshed eyes all that lay before me. Even in the darkness, even in the confusion, there was light. Because despite my circumstances, despite all my questions about the unknown, despite every frustrations and every sigh, He is there. He is directing and creating, building and writing every detail into existence. And He does it all for my good, for my benefit, to create a better story for me. And all the while, He woos. He romances. He reminds me who I am and why I matter. He is never too busy for me.  And despite the million things that need His attention, it is never so much that His attention is diverted. He is my greatest and oldest love. He is ever and always for me. And His romance is my romance. He holds me. He protects me. He works for me. All the while twirling me in steps of beauty. And in the safety of His arms, while He continues that good work He is completing in me, we dance. He and I. Back and forth, back and forth. We dance. And I remember the greatest romance my heart could never have imagined. And my anxious heart is anxious no more. Because He loves me. And His romance is my romance.

 

Hebrews 13:5 | Proverbs 3:5 | James 1:4

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Dear Love, Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out, life making

Your Sins are Forgiven

I hear the beat of pavement below my feet. And all I can do is continue to run. One foot in front of the other. And my lungs burn for the breath they cannot find. And my soul burns for the relief it cannot grasp. And nothing makes sense. And everything hurts. And memories come, and memories go. And this one calls and that one texts, another letter from a friend, more bad news. And now a conversation followed by tears. And all the while memories from I don’t know where make themselves comfortable in the den of my heart. Comfortable. Cozy. Settled in. But they are not welcome. And I cannot make sense of it. And that seemed like a nightmare, but I think it was real.  And I wish I had imagined this but no, indeed it is fact. And are these memories or do I dream?  I try, I try to make sense of it all, but instead there is only spinning. And more calls, and more bad news. Betrayal. And pain. Ignorance. Bad choices. And pain. Sorrow. Brokenness. And pain.  And I want to find solutions but only hear my mind scream, “Run!” and so my feet  pick up and I am running. 

And even in the steady rhythm of my feet I cannot hold it in. Because my mind is not the only thing that screams. And suddenly I hear audibly what my heart and mind have done in quiet. I scream. And I feel my soul retch. Because it is too much, these memories they are too much. These circumstances, they are too much. These reminders of not enough and rejection, of abuse and betrayal. With bullies, and trespasses, and invasions of trust. And so I run.  From the memories. Memories that pull and tear as they creep up from the deep places. Places I forgot. Places I didn’t even know were there. Places I carved out of the crags in order to make room for what needed to be forgotten. And so I run, from pain. Stabbing pain in the heart of me. From those I trusted. From those I love. From those I felt safe with. From those I didn’t.

And the more I remember the more it tears. But it doesn’t tear them. The ones who hurt me. The ones who heaped insult onto injury. The ones who smashed into my heart with every pain, every insult, every awful thing. No, they don’t feel the tear. But I do. And they don’t know what they did. Those abusers of my heart. But I do. And they don’t lose sleep because of it. But I do. And they are not haunted by what they did. But I am. I am the one left with the pain. I am the one left with the fear. I am the one left with the issues. No. They do not know what they did. They do not know what they continue to do. They do not know what they do-

As soon as I say it I remember. Remember another who felt the same.

Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.

Forgive them. That is what He did. The memories came. And the pain with it. And it creeped to the deep places, and it pulled. And it hurt. And still He forgave them.

And insult came with injury. And it tore into the deep places and He forgave.

And it tore into the skin. With nine tails it tore into the skin.  And still He forgave them.

And it tore into His crown, with thorns deep and haunting and yet He cried “Forgive them!

And so He cries to me, “Forgive them.” And all I can think is, “But they do not know.” And I want to run faster, harder, farther from the pain. And I want to scream. But instead I cry. And I retch. Losing more than just my dinner. Losing strength. Losing the battle with this disease. And I feel weaker, because I cannot do this. And it is no wonder I am sick.  Because the pain. The pain is there. And I do not know how to forgive. I do not know how to let go. I do not know how to be at peace with those who bullied my heart. And again it tears. And again it pulls. And again, I cry. Because these memories. These memories, they tear. And He whispers, Be still and I slow my pace. And again He whispers, Be still. And my feet obey a different mind. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.  

I stop. And I breath. I breathe in. I breathe out. Deep, full, soul filling breath. I stop and I am still. And as I breathe, I digest all He said.

No, I cannot do this. I cannot let go. It is not in me to forgive. But it is in Him. And He is in me. And again I hear it, Be still. And my anxious heart flutters less. And more breath is available to me. And I begin to see. Forgiveness heals the heart. And I remember the paralytic. The one lowered through ceiling, into the presence of Jesus. The one who picked up his mat and walked away from his sickbed. The one forgiven. Your sins are forgiven, the Healer said. Your sins are forgiven. Yes, I begin to see. Forgiveness heals the heart. Forgiveness heals more than the heart. Forgiveness heals the church, the family, the body. Forgiveness heals the whole. Forgiveness makes us whole.

Your sins are forgiven. I say His words, over and over. Feeling my lips as they form over words of life. Your sins are forgiven. The paralytic’s sins. My sins… My sins. And I realize I could only see their sins. I could only focus on their sins. Oh Father, but what of my sins? Sins of fear, fear of everything but you. Fear of rejection, fear that the truth is too painful, fear of abuses and affronts. Yes, I have focused on my fear, but on the wrong fear. Oh may I fear You, and You only. For it is the fear of the Lord that brings wisdom. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him. He will hear their cry and save them. The Fear of the Lord brings to life. Yes, forgive me Lord, and bring me to life. Bring me to repentance. Bring me to healing. Bring me to forgiveness. That I may forgive them, for they know not what they do. But You do, and still You forgive. And I cannot forgive, it is not in me. But it is in You. And You are in me.

Oh that you would bring me to repentance. Bring me to forgiveness. Bring me to healing.

Psalm 46:10 | Luke 23:34 |  Philippians 2:5 | Matthew 9:2 | Psalm 111:10 | Psalm 145: 19 |

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A New Day, Dear Love, Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out

Faint of Heart

I jerk my eyes open. Sun glaring bright into my face but for the first time in weeks I am thankful for it. Thankful for the intrusion that this time isn’t an intrusion, isn’t an annoyance. I let the sun lay there, on my skin, it’s bright, sharp light burning into my not quite ready eyes. It was a dream. I can sigh. It was a dream startled awake by light. It was a dream, an untruth, an imagined reality.

“It’s not real” I hear myself grumble with morning voice. As if the encouragement will make the ache lessen. “It wasn’t real. No matter how real it felt.”

It felt real. It felt much too real. Driving to see friends, my mind imagined a place in which I was no longer welcome. Walking up the drive, anxious to see them, I hadn’t seen them in so long. But rather than walking into a hug, I walked into isolation. They had replaced me. They had replaced me with others. Those who were less of a mess than I. In my dream, I watch as they gather together, enjoying one another, and while I am there I am no much more than a bystander. They hardly even noticed me. And then, without a word, they leave. They all left together, leaving me there in that house, alone with the sun. The setting sun. And as I looked up into that sun that was sinking into earth, catching the last of its rays before it, too, left, my mind disconnected and woke up to a rising sun instead. “It’s not real. It was just a dream. I never saw them. They never left me.”

So why then, did it feel so real?

I’ve been detoxing for the past five days now. I thought this was going to be a physical thing. This has been so much more than  a physical thing. Yes, there have been cravings. Yes, there has been a lot of cleaning out. Yes, there have been some breakouts. But this has not been a physical thing. It started with cravings. Cravings for things I thought I had more control over. Forget sugar, these cravings came from a deeper place.  Cravings for people, those who rejected me a long time ago, rejections I apparently never got over. Cravings for things God put in the past to keep in the past. Then there was the cleaning out. Cleaning out of old thought and old ways. Cleaning out of a mindset that continues to agree with the put me downs and keep me downs. There is so much to clean out. I didn’t even know it was there. He said we were going deeper…We’ve gone so much deeper. And now, there’s these breakouts. Breakouts I can’t seem to remedy no matter what concealer I try to use.  So many breakouts. Little forest fires of the heart, suddenly engulfing emotion and mood, thought and desire, leaving me in a flurry of action, fighting with buckets of tears, desperate to put the fire out, desperate to put the mood out.

And so was I, waking from that dream. That all too real, but not really real dream. Why do I dream this? Why do I think this? I thought we dealt with this. I thought I handled this. But all to often I do not handle, I simply move on. I find a band aid that fits and sticks and I think, “There, its all done.” and so I move on, left with a wound that was on its way to heal and yet, was not quite healed.  I forget that aid implies helping. Not taking over. There was still work to be done, mending to attend to, and yet, I once again choose to see other things. Why go to the murky and the mucky when I don’t have to. We are a culture built around the beautiful, after all.

And so here I am. Five days later detoxing. No, five plus many more  years later. Detoxing from all these poisons I left in my body. Detoxing from all those wounds I left to fester. Detoxing from all those lies I chose to believe, to let sink in. He told me we were going deeper. I sat there in that hospital room, eaten alive with disease, and in a whisper God told me we were going deeper. We’ve gone so much deeper. I didn’t realize how sick I was. I didn’t even realize how many toxins were poisoning me, body, mind, and soul. I didn’t realize how much I needed it, this detox. But here I am. Dealing with more than just green juice. Dealing with more than just a diseased body. Here I am dealing with a diseased heart, a diseased soul, desperate for the remedy, desperate for truth. I’ve listened to untruths for so long, spiritual propaganda that has sunk into the deep places of my heart.

I thought this was going to be a physical thing.  This has been so much more than a physical thing. And so we go. On to the next chapter, on to the next day, on to the next toxin. How often do we let ourselves detoxify? How often do we awaken our souls the lies that have sunk to the deep places? How often do we sit and listen, letting The Still, Small Voice speak into the pain, speak into the disease, speak into the atrophied heart. And when He speaks, how often do we respond, choosing to believe His truth over those we have built our life on?  How often do we believe love, believe in the power we so desperately want to be true. It is a journey for the faint of heart, the faint of heart that is ready to become strong. And so I carry on, drinking this juice, hearing His voice, and going deeper.

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