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.

Adventure Makers, Gospel, life making, The Mucky Stuff, The Plans He Has for You

Let Down Your Nets

He does not call us to the easy, you and me. He never promised it even once. Put out into the deep, He says. Put out into the deep, let down your nets for a catch.  No, He does not call us to the easy. But neither does He call us to the small. His desire for us is to have a bountiful catch. More so than I could ever want for myself. More so than you could ever imagine for yours. But the call requires the necessity of the deep. And so we must, in order to have gain, reach deep into deep. We must go into the unknown, the unseen, the murky, and reach down for a deep, deep catch.

He is calling me to deeper waters. That I know. He spoke those words over me two months ago. He did not promise to tell me the name of those waters, or how far I would go. But He did promise not to leave me or forsake me in those waters. And now I am here. Knee deep, wanting to go farther, and yet, nervous. Nervous because I do not know if I have the faith or the trust to walk into the murky. Nervous because I know that no matter the outcome, it will be hard, and I do not feel strong. Nervous because I do not have a finish line in sight, and I don’t know how much endurance I can muster.

I never thought I would be back here. I never thought I would be called to this place again. This place of hurt and pain. And it needs no name, because we each call it something different. But we all know that place. That place that needles at our side. That place that keeps us awake through the longest night. That place that brings tears over and over, deep sighs, and long frustrations. That place that makes us ask, “why” in a multitude of groans. Yes, we all know that place.  

And we don’t always want to go. And we certainly would never walk into those waters if we saw what was to come. And yet He calls us. He calls to you and He calls to me. Soft and full, He calls us. He calls us forward into waters we would not go into otherwise.

And that call requires the necessity of the deep. It is required, it is mandated.  We must, in order to have gain, reach into the deep. For there is no gain in the shallow. There is no adventure in the shallow. There isn’t even room to store in the shallow. No, for by its very definition gain must require depths. And that is what He wants for us: Gain.  Gain so much farther out of my scope of imagination than I am capable of. Gain so far from the realm I deem important. Gain that is ever inexplicably more. Gain that refreshes and replenishes what that enemy sin took from us. Yes, His desire for us is a bountiful catch. An abundant catch. I came that they may have life and have it abundant. And in the deepest places of your heart you know, that it is your desire as well. And in the deepest places of your heart, you hear the whispers for more. And you wake up with the ache of a soul that longs for more. And you walk through days with a soul that lunges towards the hope for more.  And as the sun sets into night, so does your gaze onto the more that is to come. In the deepest places of your heart, you hear the whispers for more. Because we were made for that catch. We were created to know the bountiful.

But to know that catch, to understand what it truly means, we must go to places we have never been before. We must reach down into the deep. Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls. Your waves have rolled over me.

No, I don’t want to go. It may not be the inspirational answer, and it may not be the christian answer, but I do not want to go. Because it is different, and it is scary, and it is dark. It is a place I have never been to before. And it is a place in which I must give up everything. But when we go to the deep, it is there and only there that we find life abundant. And when we go to the deep it is there and only there that our hearts no longer whisper for more. And when we go to the deep it is there that we find our catch.

When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon,”Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as you say and let down the nets.” When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken;”

We do not just find our catch, we find abundant catch. We find a catch that fills us. We find catch that spills over into the lives of others, and fills them as well. And we are seized with amazement at the One before us, the One who lead us to that catch.
No, He does not call us to the easy, you and me. And He never promised he would. But there is more to experience than the easy. There is adventure. There is a love story. There is life. You need only to put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.

John 10:10| Psalm  42:7| Luke 5: 4-9

Gospel, Healing From the Inside Out

Bitter Waters

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the Wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the Wilderness and they found no water. When they came to Marah they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah.

I went out into the wilderness. It was barren. It was empty. It was hopeless. And I thirsted. I thirsted for something I could not find. I went in the wilderness looking but found no water. I went into the wilderness but found no water. And out of my thirst I took whatever I could find. I let substitutions feed me. I let them try to satisfy me. But those waters, they could not feed me. I bathed in them. I tried to drink them. I tried to take them in. I tried to let them be the thing I needed. But those waters. Those waters could not satisfy. I wanted them to. I tried to make them. But I could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter.

Bitter waters. Waters I tried to sustain myself on. Waters I tried to gain life from. Waters that had no hope for life.

Bitter waters.

How often do we live on bitter waters. Bitter, lifeless, joy-stealing waters.

How often do we let the world tell us what will give us life, what will satisfy that thirst.

How often do we settle for something we must choke down.

Bitter waters.

The world says “Drink!” and so we try. But we cannot drink the waters of Marah, for they are bitter.

And life gets stale. And our souls are thirsty. And we don’t know what to do because what we think is life giving is actually life stealing. And there is no being filled, but we continue to drink. Because we know no better. And what we think is life giving is actually depriving.

And so we grumble. And so we cry out, what shall we drink?!

So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Then Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed Him a tree. And he threw the it into the waters, and the water became sweet.

He is always our remedy.

And these waters are our lives.

And the tree is the cross.

And we cry out for an answer, for a remedy. And we grumble for an answer, for a remedy. And even in our grumblings He shows mercy. And we find the answer is in the cross. It is our only remedy. He is our only remedy. And this cross is thrown, hurled into our lives, into our waters and those waters becomes sweet. Our lives become sweet, satiable, satisfying.Our lives become abundant. For I have come that they may have life. And have it more abundant.

And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statues, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians. For I, the Lord, am your healer.”

He is our remedy. He is our healer. He makes the waters sweet.

He removes all Marah. The Marah in our lives. The places that lack. The places that thirst. Oh that we would let the Tree come in. Oh that we would throw the Tree into our waters. And taste the sweet. For He removes all Marah.

Exodus 15: 22-26| John 10:10