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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Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out, The Vulnerable Side

Hungry Bellies, Hungry Souls

It’s been a hard month. Writing has been so hard. But it has also, I think, never been so necessary. You’ve got me in the vulnerable places. And I can’t guarantee I’m going to say the right thing. But I can guarantee I am going to say the most honest thing. I remember years ago when I first started writing. Years before I even began to think of publishing. I just wrote for me. To get thoughts on paper, and out of this cage I called a head. I remember then my fear of vulnerability. And that’s another blog for another day. But I remember how much God impressed upon me the necessity of it. “I made you to be a storyteller,” He told me. “Tell your stories. With your whole heart. That’s all I’m asking.” And from that day on, that has been my motive. To tell this story the best way I can, with the most truth I can. Life is a fickle thing. It wavers and shifts. It ebbs and flows. And sometimes it just downright hammers and chips away at us. There is no perfect formula because we are each different. And the pain I ingest one way you will ingest another. And there is no one way to do things. Except, in Him. He is the only one way that agrees to all of us. And I don’t have answers. I have questions. I have emotions. I have hormones. I have needs. I don’t have answers. But He does. He always does. And in Him there is fullness. There is joy. So I’m telling you this to say that I may not have the answers, and I’m asking for grace as I walk these coming days vulnerable and honest and visible. I am probably going to make mistakes. But I am always going to point back to Him. He is my answer. He is my joy. He is my life. Everything else is just icing. And I believe He likes icing. So I know I will get my cakes with icing too. But for right now, as I walk through this wilderness all I need are the basics. And I’m OK with that. Cloud of smoke by day. Pillar of fire by night. I just need the basics.  

Pain has come to an all time high. Sleep became my pain management. The more I slept, the more I could ignore the passing realities. And so I gave into the exhaustion. I let my body slip in and out of consciousness, as a meager opportunity to forget current pain. And then I’d awake once a day starving, ravenous, ready to eat.

Food became and has become a bully to me. It is the thing that taunts me and rubs in my face all that I want, and all that I can’t have. It’s not just the food, although that in itself is enough. It is what the food represents: Life, joy, normalcy. I find myself watching people on such a critical level these days. Every move, every twitch, every flip of hair and reaction of face. And in those moments I find myself anxious to study why they are different. What did they do different?. Why do they get to be healthy and I don’t? Why can they eat, why can they eat whatever they so choose without a thought to the reaction? It is low to admit, but I have found myself jealous of babies multiple times as I watch them pick their squares of cheese and assorted vegetables and cram eagerly and satisfied into their mouths. And I try to distinguish what I have done that makes my body so unwilling to cooperate and theirs so eager to the opposite.

And so we come back to that time of day, every day. When my stomach can no longer ignore the call for food, and hunger takes on an almost animal reaction. I dread that part of the day. Because I know that whatever decision I make it will be the wrong one. If I don’t eat, if I ignore it, the pains come. Mixed with the nausea of a blood sugar level much too low. I leave myself to dry heaving and blackouts. And the mind games that follow from just wanting so much to eat. If I do eat, it does not matter what I choose, I will get sick. I have tried broths, and juices, vegetables, fruits. And some days I just give up caring and choose what sounds good. Big, hearty, casseroles of the soul that make me feel like I’m not really living this life that I am trying so hard to avoid. And then I get sick. And it is a choking sick. It is a crippling sick. Pain that curls me up onto the floor gasping, retching, begging for relief. Sometimes it lasts only a few minutes. Sometimes it lasts much longer. And if there is any good in it, it is that I am so exhausted afterwards I am able to sleep again for several hours. Able to escape again.

Food just doesn’t taste the same. It tastes like fear, like pain, like regret.  And the hungrier I get, the less sounds appealing. I sat on my deck watching the wind between the leaves this morning. I sat and we talked. “Food doesn’t taste good anymore. Nothing tastes good anymore,” I told Him. “When will it taste good. Will anything ever taste good again?” I sat with Him on that porch swing and we rocked while the breeze swirled around us.

What do we do when life no longer tastes good? What do we do when the pain overtakes beauty? When the mundane becomes reality and suddenly there is no longer pleasure on the tongue, on the soul, but bitterness that takes its place? What do we do when grief is greater than joy? What do we do then?

Food is such a basic necessity of humanity. It is the quickest reminder of these practical bodies. It is the quickest reminder of a soul hungry for more. To be satisfied. To be filled. It is what we were made for. And lest we forget, our ever grumbling stomachs are there to remind us. Or is it our ever grumbling souls? They grumbled through the wilderness. And the manna fell. And they grumbled again. And the quail fell. And they grumbled again. Filling, and filling their baskets full, their bellies full, only to watch the manna spoil before them as they took more and more never satisfied. And we do the same. Grumbling through the wilderness. And the manna comes. The bread of life. Taste and see that the Lord is good. But instead we stand and stare and whisper, “What is it?” Taste and see that the Lord is good! And still we stand to the side. “What is it?” Taste and see that the Lord is good. When do we reach out. When do we partake of the miracle He has brought to the dessert? The bread with which we can live on for years. The only food that sustains? When do we fill our baskets, fill our bellies, fill our souls, and know that it is good?

It is not the food I am hungry for. It is life I am hungry for. Life abundant. And time and time again, His manna falls from heaven. Taste and see that the Lord is good, He says. And I only stare. I do not partake. I do not taste. My grievances become greater than my joy, and I am blinded to the goodness. Oh may my hunger never leave. May it stir this belly inside of me, this eternal soul. May it grow and grow until I reach out, until I realize that man shall not live on bread alone. No there is far more to be benefited from. The truth? I am fed. I am full. I am satisfied. I know hope because of His calling. I know riches because of His glory. I know power because of His resurrection. And I know fullness because He fills all. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Taste and see. Do not stare at it. Do not stand to the side and whisper, “What is it?” Do not watch from the sidelines, while the mediocrity of culture eats away at your fullness. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Dig your hands into the Bread of Life, falling from heaven into the souls of men. We are hungry no more. Life abounds and we are filled. Oh that our eyes would see, and our lens be changed. Oh that we would taste and know that the Lord is good. He is my fill. And in Him is my fullness. And I am hungry no more.

Psalm 34:8 | Ephesians 1:15-23

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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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Detoxify, Healing From the Inside Out, The Plans He Has for You, The Vulnerable Side

This

Lord, This is hard.

This.

Miss Wankeral, my grammar teacher, told me to never leave a “this” alone. “A marriage is always necessary”, she says. “It must have a partner”. This rock. This doll. This something. But what is the “this” in this situation. This time. This trial. This learning. This acknowledgment. This job. This task. Yes, all of those. And more, I suppose. You are drawing me out. That is a truth I know. You are drawing me out and taking me to someplace new. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Yes, you are taking me to someplace new. A place of healing. A place of still waters and green pastures. You’re teaching me to walk away from the things of this world. Be in the world but not of the world, You say. That has always been so hard to understand. But I am finally starting to understand it. It means to let go of everything I see but cannot understand and to hold on to everything I cannot see but can understand. Let go of culture, let go of things, let go of people, let go of money, let go of dreams. Hold onto your love, your joy, your peace, Hold onto You.

Yes, this is hard. It is hard to give it all over to You. Yes, the hard things are the things I’m not ready to give over to You. There, that’s the truth. That is the “this”. The grammar that exposes my heart. This is hard, this giving over is hard. This letting go of the hope that my way could be better than Your way. I don’t want to give up my comfort. I don’t want to give up my choices. I don’t want to bend my back to Your will, to surrender to every possibility. I want to keep this fist clenched, and this is the hard. The faith to trust that Your will is better, every time. The faith to believe that despite what I hunger and crave it may not always be what is best for me. The truth that being in the world is not the same as being of the world.

I don’t want to give these things up, especially not to You. Because if I give them up to You, I know that You may not give them back to me. These relationships. These comforts. These indulgences. These desires. These things I want so much even though I know, secretly, they only hurt me. These images I have of myself, of where I should be heading. There they are again. My should be’s and want to’s. Oh how they creep.

Come unto me, You say. Come to me and I will give you rest. Yes, You are right. It is exhausting; juggling all my desires on spinning out of control plates. Fooling myself into believing that a tight grip on my desires equates to a tight grip on control, a tight grip on life. I have no control. And maybe I have life, but what kind of a life is it? It is not an abundant one, not with this fist so tight. Not with these plates spinning, always spinning, and falling off, and flying off. And where did that one go? And how did I forget to watch this one? And when did that one break?  Yet still I cling, except when I cling so desperately to anything but You, nothing goes the way I hope for.  And the very medicine I need is the very medicine I pull back from.

Surrender.

No, it does not taste good. And rather than swallow, I choose to hold it in my mouth, continually tasting the bitter I so believe it to be rather than giving it chance to soothe and heal. Come unto me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest. You know me so well. Yes, I am weary. Weary of the conditions of this world. Weary of what culture says I must be, how much money I must make, what I need to be happy. Weary of how this disease drags and pulls and blurs. Yes, I am weary. And the burden grows with each clench of my fist. And the very thing I hold to is the very thing that causes this disease to spread. I came that they may have life, and have it to the full. A full life, that is what you want for me. A full life, full of every possibility. Why then do I let this fear grow inside of me? Why do I tell myself that surrender brings loss? Why do I choose to ignore truth. Because surrender sews possibility. It is a door not a wall.

I swallow the stuff.

I swallow the liquid medicine I have held onto for so long. I swallow and let it soothe, let it coat. I swallow the medicine and realize it is not so bitter. Come unto me, You say. Oh Jesus, let me come, here I am. Take me. Take my heart, take my desires, take these plates. I reach out to you and with it I realize I have let go. These hands no longer make fists. These hands, clenched for so long are now open. Open for possibility, open for life, open to hold Yours. And as you take my hand, I feel it. I feel that balm, as it coats and soothes, warming my innards, the deepest places of me. Warming all that is in and around me. This balm that sinks to the bowels of my heart. This balm that instantly heals. This abundant balm. And as it sinks I realize it’s not as hard as I thought. And as it heals I realize that my this has changed. Yes, my this has changed. And there is no more hard, there is only easy. There is only rest. There is only You. There You are. Come unto me, You say, Come unto me and I will give you rest.

And oh!  What a rest it is.

Isaiah 43:19| John 17:16| Matthew 11:28 | John 10:10 

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