Thursday, December 4, 2014


There's this quieting of the soul that happens. When the mind is opened to thinking again. The defense mechanisms fail, and somehow you're glad. The defense against thinking, it seems safe. Yet it's a poison that leaks into every part of your soul. Wherever it goes, a paralyzing numbness follows. 

Our hearts are fragile things. With it enters pain and brokenness. This rendering in two, we dread it, we hate it, avoid it at all costs...yet what it costs is our very selves.

A breath of fresh air fills my lungs as my heart comes alive again. And I see it...with my heart sealed off, stuck in the deepest corner, I can't truly live. And I long to truly live.

You see, Jesus said it clear...that He is the life (John 14:6) . The only way...and he is my only way to truly live. Because in the moments he made me, when three came together in a huddle of hearts to give me life He linked my heart to his (Genesis 1:26) . And it's only when my heart beats in sync with his that it beats at all. And I am alive.

I laugh, the relief coursing through my veins. I'm alive! Truly alive, awake.

 This beating together, I see through his eyes. He shows me the world, just as he sees it. But what he grieves him. (Genesis 6:6) And as my heart beats with his, it grieves mine too.

Gasping, I reel back. This beating with his heart, it's brought my heart to life. Like water to a parched land. I knew the joy and peace. The giddy happiness. But now this sorrow and pain. And He whispers to me soft. That this is living alive. Because when you live with a heart that's closed, everything around you is grey, lifeless. But when you live with a heart connected to his, beating in time, you get to see a whole rainbow of colors. But you also get to see the black and white. Because in order to taste joy you must know sorrow. In order to live, you must die. (Romans 6:3-4).

And this is why I guarded my heart, why I hid it so deep. Because it hurts to live awake. To live with a kingdom outlook requires me to see how much this world is hurting. How it needs the One I have. How many hearts are not beating because they are locked away in the grey like mine was. God is banging on the door, calling out for them to simply listen for a moment. And I hold my breath, heart pleading that they will listen. Because I know that desperation. And I know the heart gone cold. And it was only grace that brought mine back to life, that reattached my heart to His.

And the reaching hearts, those who hear the call and long to be rescued, I know they try in vane to grab onto Jesus. I desperately want them to know that it's not about hanging on to Jesus, or trying to find him in the dark. It's about letting go, to quit striving. And I tell my own heart quit trying to grab on because I will grow tired and weary. What then? And I don't have to hold on. All along He has been holding on to me. Deuteronomy 33:27

I try to stop flailing and grasping. And the more I try, the more I fail. But as my heart beats with his, I learn his rhythm. So I let go and fall into love. And I allow the Comforter to soothe my heart. And I find it's about focusing on his rhythm that gives me heart a steady one. To focus on His heart calms my own.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Dodging Fast Balls

Life is full of hard decisions, upset schedules, hectic days, long months...One fast ball after another. Most days the ball hits you right in the face, and it's all you can do to catch your breath before the next one comes. Some days you can actually duck in time as it goes sailing by your face, but eluding the next ball is even harder still. Then there are days when you see the fast ball in slow motion, and when you hit it, it soars so far that you wonder how you did it.  Most often for me, I get hit smack in the face. I've never been good with balls, whether it be a soccer ball or life fast ball. I have been blessed enough to dodge a few, but actually hitting them seems few and far between.

So many things tell us that life is suppose to be grand and beautiful. That each new day is the start of a new adventure. We've got bookshelves full of how to books, telling us how to enjoy our vacation to the full, how to create fun memories with those around us, how to make a holiday more special. Do more of this, buy more of that, do more meditating, think happy thoughts, make yourself look on the positive side. And we nod, and say "I can do that!" and we try. I've seen some people succeed on doing those things, and others (like me) who have finally quit trying...but whichever category we fit into, it seems like we all have the same outcome. It simply doesn't work. We aren't happier. Even when these thoughts come from Christian sources, there's something about our hearts that simply doesn't grasp the concepts, even if our minds do.

Sometimes we are so afraid of feeling deeply, that rather than experience joy and sorrow, we trade it for a weak form of sadness and a shallow happiness.  We think that, in so doing, we are shielding our hearts from great pain. What if shielding ourselves from great pain in emotion, is actually creating more pain in numbness?

You've heard the phrase, "pull yourself up by your boot straps". We've all been told to get back up, dust ourselves off and keep going, because you can do it.  All I want to do is lay down and kick my feet and yell and scream. I think at times, we all want to do that. Our sinful nature that caused us to do that as children was no more alive than it is now. We all have days we simply don't want to give grace, don't want to do the dishes one more time, don't want to get out of bed. We all want to scream "I don't want to!" Yet we still go back. We trudge though life, slinging mud as we go. We get filthy, truly believing that getting through life and getting out clean and joyful are antonyms. 

But I'm telling you God washed me, and he says that he only needs to wash my hands and feet, that my whole body doesn't need another bath. And just like Peter, I want him to wash me completely because I'm not sure I got clean the first time. And I easily forget how he comes and washes my stinky, dirty feet. How he's not too much of a King to get down on the ground to touch the feet that have trudged through unnecessary mud. I shake my head in wonder, my head still shaking 'no'. 

But how do I not? How do I not trudge through mud, how do I not get hit by those fast balls, how do I not get frustrated and forget the graces and see things as ugly, and not except those gifts that are somewhere around me? How do I not close my eyes, when closed eyes protect me from all the things I fear. How do I slow down. Stop. Listen. And feel the water rushing over my feet, making them clean. And does the washing ever really stop, or is he working on it now, even as my head shakes a stubborn 'no'. I don't know how to stop this unending cycle, this torrent that makes this sacred ground into mud. The scary thing is, sometimes I Don't Want To!

 I read the words of John, I see the storm through his eyes. My heart searches for reassurance... I want to see Jesus through the eyes of 'the one Jesus loved', because surely he sees clear?
John 6:16-21 : That evening Jesus' disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn't come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough. They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, but he called out to them, "Don't be afraid. I am here!" Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination!

That second sentence, it catches my attention, I pause long. I see myself in that situation...I see that situation in my life. That moment you actually hit the fast ball, you're standing on your rock, Jesus Christ. I'm seeing the graces, thanking him, and extending them to others. I know for a fact I'm where he wants me to be, and that he has a plan.
 Hoping he'll come back before that next hit. I see the sun going down, that next obstacle in my path coming swift, and rather than stay on that solid rock, I go back into the mud and hope to make it till I can find a new rock to stand on, another experience of God to keep me safe for a moment. In heading into the mud on my own, I try to step lightly and not get so covered in the mud, but on my own there's no way to keep clean. My moments are getting crammed with things I have to do, decisions I have to make, people I have to please. As the chaos surrounds me, my heart is no longer trusting, and I can feel myself slipping.
And just like the disciples, I experience my own gale, and my seas grow very rough. And I grow afraid. No longer looking for Jesus, the only thing I want, is to get to the other side. You can taste the panic, the tears surface. You feel all alone. And like the disciples, instead of turning around, I keep heading strait into the storm, not going moments like this, but hours...even days. The disciples had been fighting their storm for at least 6 or 7 hours when they finally looked up into the face of Jesus. And relief? It doesn't fill them. Fear does. And not just a small amount of fear...they were terrified. 

In the midst of our storm, how easy is it to doubt if the God we see now, is the same one we had communion with before we jumped into our day? What about the Jesus who met with us that one morning we actually took time for devotions. Kind and welcoming, the one who washed our feet. After doing everything wrong, after yelling at the ones we love, neglecting the things we should have done, ignoring the graces, and complaining through our day, are we afraid that this Jesus we see now is someone else?

What if we listen to his voice? What if we grasp on and hold tight to his word. The word that says I am the I AM. The one who reassures of who he is, who displays how he is the same even when his children sin? That's when we become eager to have him close...and we arrive at our destination. 

I write down the scriptures, I post them around. I see the ship in my bathroom, the one that always gets dusty, and who has time in this crazy life? And I smile at the fast ball that I actually get to hit this time. Breathe. It's okay. It's only when I let the torrents of shame touch that dust that it becomes mud. And I thank God that he holds those torrents back when I see dust as simply a reminder...a grace. That dusty ship becomes a great reminder, to invite God into my boat and be thankful that he dusts me mud.
And wasn't our destination really not a place, but to be close to him?


Friday, April 4, 2014

Bowl fulls of Grace

I can hear the fridge humming away, the computer making little noises. My unwashed bowl sits here, and in my mind I try to make it disappear. If only that worked on dishes, among other things. But, they don't, and in some ways I'm glad that I can't make my messes disappear.

Living life surrendered. Well, it's a beautiful thought. And one that many people say can't be done. At times, I have to admit that I kind of agree. When have I really surrendered? And actually lived that way for an extended period of time? The idea seems laughable. Sometimes, a lot of times, I feel that God has to lift my face - to lift my eyes up to his. And when I actually lift up my eyes without fear, the eyes of grace that meet mine - they tell me that I am made worthy.

"The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down." Psalm 145:14 ESV. The LORD, my Yahweh. The one of power and love. YAHWEH of the old testament, and of the new. The creator of my very soul and heart. He is the one who catches me as I fail, and raises me. 

A precious little girl in my life, only two years old, has this concept down. She lifts up her little hands to me, completely trusting, relaxing in my embrace.

If only we could look to God with those eyes of trust, relaxing into the grace. Oh to have childlike faith!!!

"He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; on them he has set the world."

Do you realize dear one? Do you understand dear heart of mine? The Lord picks us up, those who come to him in our brokenness, and he puts us in places of honor. The foundations of the earth, the very things he has set in place, on those he has set the world. And even though our world has it wrong so much of the time, honor does not belong to those who have it right all of the time. But to the humble and broken who come in humility - those are the ones who truly have it right.

And a laugh raises up in my throat and I look around. This mess...I certainly don't have it right. The confusion in my heart and mind, no there is no order and correctness here. But our God, he loves this. He loves me in my mess. And His beautiful grace abounds all the more. 

I picture his grace all around me, tangible in this mess. The grace of a dirty dish and the food he has provided. The humming of the fridge is music to my ears. And it's not because of what I have. It's the very fact that it pleased God to give it to me. I am not grateful to have more than others. I am grateful because God presented me with a gift. 

He sees my mess, he sees the way I can not contain all these gifts he has lavished. And He knows that I was made for eternity, so how can I truly understand how to live inside of time? He never meant for me to. And the fact that I am okay with that - okay that  I can't do it on my own and lift up my hands for him to carry me through...that's what life surrendered looks like. 

This is Life Surrendered, God? My eyes burn. He never asked too much of me - in fact all he asked was that I receive the gift of his son shown through all these gifts around me. And that in excepting these little gifts, I've in fact accepted his son. It's so simple, and so beautiful.  

I have believed him, and in the moment I hold this dirty dish, this grace bowl, and accept it as gift, I have accepted his son.

And just as a small child is grateful for the smallest trinkets her father gives her, so I am thrilled with the gifts my Yahweh has placed in my hands. And through this lens of grace I see the smile spread across his face.

This is the Beautiful Surrender.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A society without pain or a life with choices?

Dear reader, you may be aware that my goal for lent was to strip my life of the things that distract me in order to focus on this question : Is God really real? Seeing the movie God's Not Dead brought me face to face with this question. And so I ask again, and I search.

When I talk to an Atheist, main topics include the question 'If God is real and good, then why does he allow horrible things to happen? If he does, he has horrible moral standards!'

My friend, does he have horrible moral standards, or are we at odds with our desire for freedom of choice and relief from any type of hardship?

Let's consider this in depth. You may be familiar with a book called The Giver. You may be interested to know that they are coming out with a movie based on this story. In this make believe society, all inhabitants conform to a way of life that they agreed on long ago, and of which they submit their children. In an effort to be unaffected by any type of pain, they agreed to live in a world devoid of anything that could cause discomfort. This world they created had no weather changes, so they would never be too hot or too cold. They were given jobs to do, so that no one could be without purpose. Assigning each family a boy and girl child, no mother and father would feel the pain of having no children, and no child would be homeless. With the elderly and unwanted going to 'another city', they would never experience the pain of death.

Would you want to live in this society? Before you answer, you might like to know what this cost them. With no weather changes, there children would never build a snowman or play in the sun. With no choice in jobs, they could not dream and explore. Being given two children, these parents would never experience the joy of a unique family of their own flesh and blood. With the elderly gone, they would not grow old watching their grandchildren grow up. These fabricated livelihoods protected them from immediate threats that seemed life ending, but stripped them of the day to day joys of living life to the full.

Even though we see this scenario in books and in movies, and are appalled by what we see, we still blame God for not creating this seemingly perfect society for us. Why does a good God allow all these things to happen? Why doesn't he protect us from all these things that plague our world? Using the same logic, I must ask, if God indeed created this society for us, would we be calling foul for all the things we were missing out on? We will have to sacrifice these experiences if we want a life devoid of pain.

We are asking God to essentially take away the pain, but in some way leave the experience. That is like going on a water ride to cool off, but requiring that you don't get wet. Or wanting to build a sandcastle, but not get your hands dirty. Every experience is made up of lots of little pieces in a puzzle, and when you start taking these pieces away, you will never have the whole picture.

God allows these experiences because he intends to leave our free will intact. He will not create a society like the one in The Giver, because rather than forcing us to conform to a belief and lifestyle, he invites us to freely choose his love. And when we freely choose, and allow our hearts to truly experience the world he has given us, then we will truly embrace the experience of his love.

Now it's time for you to choose. Would you rather a society without pain or a life with choices and experiences?


Saturday, March 29, 2014

The River - My Life

No two rivers ever look the same. Rivers run fast, they rush over stones and smooth them, they rush through turns and straiten them, and often they have a lot of rapids. The land around them is never the same - the same tree, or bush, or rise will never appear twice. But somehow, they all empty into the ocean, in a cascading of water.

Life is very much the same. Each person, just like a river, never will be like another one. We are all different. Life has troubles along our paths, and honestly they often seem to be boulders. Later, I'm sure, we'll see them as mere pebbles. 

Fast balls seem to fly at us from all angles, throwing in twists we weren't expecting. I often find that these huge turns in the river always bring me back around so that I am no more than a degree off from where I was headed - just like a river that seems to have great big turns, but on inspection of a map, it seems to be going almost strait.

Turbulence, what is life without it? Rapids knock us out of the life boat, and sometimes you have to ride them to the end before you can get back in.

We have to experience moments as they come, just like the scenery along the river. No matter where I go in life, I will never catch that one moment again. Just like I will not see the same tree further down the river.

Just like the rivers, every human life has a different path - a different story to tell - but no matter what stones we have to smooth, or turns we have to maneuver, or rapids we have to ride, we are all heading towards our eternity. This eternity, just like the ocean, has no depth that can be found, or ending we can ever see. But it is certainly full of beautiful mysteries for us to explore.

It's so easy to obsess over times in our lives, or decisions we have to make. And often, I think we are so close that we see only the turn, instead of the entire picture. We have a beautifully painted map if we will only take a look. Scripture shows us how seeing the entire picture can change your view of an event. I want to see the picture God is painting of my story, not only treasure the moments along my path, but have the eyes to see His big picture too.

As water runs over my hands, I am reminded of this picture, reminded of the "river of my life". But then I smile, because I'm also reminded of something else. In God's masterpiece of my life, there is no drain, and no moments "go down the drain" and no efforts are worth nothing. Because all those moments that seem to be doing just that - going down the drain - they are simply moments in which my rocky character is being smoothed out. And so, I let this river run it's course, I hang on tight, enjoy the scenery, and remember that a renewal of hope is a map look away.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lent - a heart law

I fail. I utterly fail. I fail the people I love, I fail my job, I fail my home and my pets. Over and over I see it. I can not measure up.

The week before Lent, I sat in bed pondering what it was really all about. The more that I asked God, the more I began to understand. In order for God to get it through this thick scull of mine, He let me know what he wanted me to give up...then he lead me to the answer of why. It was pressed into my heart that for lent I should give up Facebook and novels.

Why God, why those? In that moment of asking why, I knew why. It was because I had to ask. I had to ask why I had to give those up for him. Didn't I love him even when I had those things. This is what I learned - the reason I gave up those things in particular.

 My Facebook was my door into the lives of others, and their door into mine. I wanted to feel like I was apart of those big moments in their lives - even though I could not be there. And the farther I go into Lent the more I see - I was not willing to invest myself in those moments. I just wanted to say I was there without the work. The heart work of dedication. And my family? I was no better off with them because I was buried neck deep in "trying to sort of be there" rather that just....just being there.

 And the books? Let me ask you this - do you want to read a book if you're not sure the author will give you some sort of satisfying ending? Even if it's bitter sweet, there must be an ending. And I love that last chapter of a book, where everything comes together. Oh, I've never read a chapter so slow as the last chapter. What our hearts need to learn, what mine must learn even haltingly, is that the story God is writing in our lives will have a glorious ending. I don't need a book for that beautiful ending, and I don't need to fear.

Oh that my heart could learn these lessons and learn them well. The beauty of Lent - it's in the ugly things. It's in the torn apart, the broken, the failings. In these things I see a need for a savior, and isn't that the point of Lent?

I thought that giving up the books and the Facebook would be easy, and at first it was. What a small law to keep. But God is pressing into my heart that this agreement I made with him was not about an item or a web page. It was about a heart matter, a point of view, a heart law. And my heart has broken this law that I agreed to.

And so I tell myself no. I will not allow myself to bury in and hide my head. I read his word and sharpen my sword. I invest and I live with as much hope as I can.

But still I fail and pick myself up over and over....over again. My family I have failed, I'm not good at this raw heart lesson God is teaching me. So I reach out again and try to hold onto Jesus in the waves instead of hanging onto the boat.

And I laugh and cry at the same time. I know that this - this undoing of the heart, this opening up - this truly is Lent, and though I've failed in Law, I have overcome through my salvation. I have experienced Lent to the full - failing until you see that you can not keep any law, that Christ must keep it for you. Humility and salvation - there is beauty in the broken here.