what it means to have a good day

This is one of those posts where I type words with eyes closed. It’s the only way I know how to slow down. I want to hear. I want to not be on a tread mill. I want to breathe deep and know freedom is real.

It’s not just a dream is it?

what a wonderful world

We do work, and we do love. We do going and moving fast and it is oh-so-hard, to stop.

I struggle to let soft breezes blow on my face. I struggle to feel sunshine. I struggle to sit down and know I am captured, here. I am chosen, here. I am pursued and wanted, here.

So many words fly by in this internet space. I love it, and I tire of it. It amazes me how information is so readily available to us–how we know the news a second after it occurs. And we fill up our minds with information so we can be educated and informed and with-it and smart. I do this. I want to be filled up and smart.

And I struggle to let Him in. I struggle to let in my God, the one here, right here–but whom I ask (when I remember), to stay close, to keep up. I’ve got a lot to do and I want to do it with Him and the day is going by so fast and the list of things to do is long and the kids are almost home.

Has this been a good day, Father? Can you show me what it means to have a good day?

You closed your eyes last night, telling Me you missed me. You rolled over and you asked Me to tuck you in. So I did.  I pulled the sheet up close around your face, and I leaned in ever-softly and I whispered it so you could hear it: Yes, my daughter, I am here.

You tell Me you miss Me and how you feel the days are flying by. You tell Me you miss Me, and you feel like you’re on a treadmill and is this any way to live?

You tell me you miss Me, and I want to dry your tears and tell you I am here and you are okay.

Really.

You can miss Me. You don’t have to chase Me.

I am right here.

But you need to know something. You love something more than Me.

You know what it is.

You love success more than Me. You love achievement more than Me. You love accomplishment and victory more than Me. You push and pull for the task to get done and you worry if you are smart enough or good enough for the thing to be completed. And that’s what you care about. Because you worship something other than Me: Success. And that is what makes any person weary. That is what makes any person work and work with little feeling of accomplishment.

I am your strength, my darling. I am your captain, your friend, your Father, your King. I am your hand holder, your path walker, your trail clearer. I am your guide, your hope, your need taker. I am your vision, your desire, your rest, your soft breeze. I am the one whose kiss at night soothes you, whose hand holding yours strengthens you, whose walking next to you emboldens you.

My daughter, breathe deeply now. I am here. Let’s work together; let’s walk together; let’s be together.

Yes, you miss Me, but no more. No more missing.

You are found. When you feel missing because you think I am missing but you are the one missing, remember you are who is found.

So, I am here. And you can feel the breeze on your skin and let the sunshine fall on your face. In every darkness I bring light. In every crowded room I bring fresh air to breathe. It is time for new thoughts, a new way of doing things.

Try Me. Choose Me. Want Me.

I am here.

Do you fall weary into bed most days? Oh, how this makes a lot of things clear for me, about why I do. And now, I’ve got some things to lay down. . . It’s different for each of us, I know–these things that make us miss God. What about you?

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as you begin this day

Before the morning, before the messages come, before the words swirl and work to define, we say, I am Yours.

San Francisco window

Before we see ourselves with clouded eyes–just ten years old then, decades older now–and believe there is much to work on, to tweak and work out, to correct and improve, Your eyes behold us in our glory now, in our fullness, telling us,

You are beautiful. You are beautiful. You are lovely to see.

Before the messages come when we were so young, believing that what matters is what people see, what the world believes about us, how we perform, what we do, how each choice only measures up to matter if praise is given, tangible rewards received, You whisper,

I love you now, right now. My love cannot be earned.

San Francisco open door 2

Before the twisting of what is true tears our heart and we make choices that show we don’t believe, You see us unblemished, pure; we fall and You wash us clean.

Before our trying, and failing, to carry this life on our own strength, You remind us how on our own we can do nothing, that You are all we need.  You offer Your breast to lean on and let us listen to Your heart singing,

You are My beauty, My girl, stay, this is your resting place.

San Francisco railing

Before doubts attempt to shadow hope, the stirrings become questions about whether our rising up, in Your name, matters, You whisper truth within us, turn the lies inside out and offer back the voice You always gave.  You show us what cannot be quieted–this voice that will not be silent until You restore, heal, redeem.

Before the darkness falls and the weight feels heavy, You lift us, reminding us there is nothing we bear alone, there is only light in the end, there is only Your arms holding us.  There is only You, in the beginning.

Praying for you, dear friends, as we begin this week together. How can we pray for you today? And how about this song (below), to kick off your week? The whole You Make Me Brave album goes on sale April 24. But if you can’t wait that long (like me), you can find it over here now. (Just sharing it ’cause it’s what I’m listening to this week, thanks so my dear sister and friend who shared “You Make Me Brave” with me on a day when I desperately needed the reminder.)

Jennifersignaturescript

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sometimes you just can’t stay

Five of us on spring break in the big city closest to our home. It is the beginning of adventure now, reminding me how much I love a beginning—all possibility in a thing on the cusp of turning. We have no agenda, on purpose. We are curious what will happen if we let things unfold.

I grab hold of my husband’s hand, watching our two sons and daughter race each other up the steep paved walks, and I think about beginnings. I think about what is required for a beginning to be realized, and the relationship beginnings have with endings. For a beginning to occur, we need to welcome whatever, in relation to the beginning, is supposed to end.

There is such a push and pull in the usual, the trying to let things be what they are. But giving up control? To let things begin? Perhaps a certain amount of courage is required to jump into a beginning, a possibility, while trying to not be the one fully in charge.

Is that it? Is it courage? Maybe it feels a bit like that when, in the discomfort of a potential beginning we anticipate the ending that must precede it. This will be all new territory, and we’re not sure about that. In these cases, a part of us whispers it is safer, saner, better, to go back to the ending, the place where we were before the beginning, and stay.

We want to stay.

San Francisco

Even though we know it is not for us to stay. Even though we know adventure—living in faith—only comes when we are willing to let the part of us afraid of new things, afraid of risk, afraid of not depending on our own strength . . . die. ‘Cause, as my 6th grader would put it (even though I hate it when he says this word)—that feeling of letting something go, something so familiar . . . well, it would kind of suck.

Yep, death hurts. It’s tough to look forward to the unavoidable uncomfortableness that comes with an ending.

Even if that’s the only way we can ever live the truth of beginning. And begin adventure. And begin to feel a little bit more free.

My children keep running, my husband and I following them just behind.

I have been dying a bit these past days, putting down something close to my heart for the purpose of something good and new around the corner I can almost—but not quite—feel and hear, taste and see. I friend was telling me the other day about how dying is the only thing that brings about life. And I remember the death of the seed in the ground bringing forth roots and green sprouts in moist soil, stretching tall toward blue, endless sky.

And I think about us here, we women who want to live out stories of beauty, where yes, the sky is blue, and yes, we are the young girl, heart beating fast, breathing free. We want to be stretching our arms out wide and we want to be laughing long through dancing sunlight underneath speckled boughs of green.

And to be that girl, the girl of freedom and beginning and life, we must let our selves die again, trusting our Jesus, trusting His way to life, trusting death and laying ourselves down. In doing so the relinquishing of all control is our choice, our path to life, our only way to live.

From behind them, I breath in my children’s laughter. I watch their arms pump fast and their strong legs charge resolutely. Their voices call loud as they urge each other on.

Yes, keep going. Even though it’s hard. Together, we’re making it to the top of the hill.

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when beginning again is scary

I approach you, Father, remembering. For I am scared. I ask you to help me remember where you’ve been. I need to see you. I need to remember who you are. It’s the only way I can have courage to trust you!–to say yes to beginning, to say yes to what you call me to do.

And to be honest, when I think about this new thing (what I will be sharing with you so very soon here, my friends), I am both parts excited and scared. For, sometimes, to begin something, another thing needs to end.

I’m not sure I want to . . . end . . . begin . . .

But you tell me to go back, to see where you were so I can see the beginnings you offer now, the beginnings you offer then.

So, I go back, and I look at words I wrote three and a half years ago, one of the very first posts of this blog. And I share it here again, friends . . . because I love being here with you, with Him. And together, perhaps we can help each other remember . . . and see right where He is, and where we are with Him, right now.

Here I am . . .three and a half years ago. . .  in December, right after Thanksgiving . . . before these almonds blossoms were in full bloom . . .

almond orchard tranquil

Dear Father, I pray Your words in me now, Your heart singing in mine now. I long for words to capture what You have placed on my heart this past week, how You have been coming for me. I love You, Father, Your gentleness, Your beauty that comes in gentle whispers, and in cascades. But always in love.

Father, give me Your words now. Not my own. Let me forget myself now. Stir my heart.

Here I go.

Here we go.

I am praying for words now to capture how my Father has been stirring my heart lately. Ups and down with relationships, good and challenging moments with family over the Thanksgiving holiday. Struggles in me surrendering my heart, turning toward Him, and then His joy I find when I do step out in faith. I see the messiness of going, with Him, into situations where I need Him so desperately, as relationships don’t have a control dial on them, a setting that I can adjust with my personal remote control. (Oh, the magic in that!) But I am finding such hope now, in the new struggles (the new struggles sometimes blending in with the old) as I look back at where He has met me before. He has never forsaken me. He has never left me. I am His temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).

He dwells in me.

I am in a place, in my searching for more of Him in me, to have to lay down–surrender–my desire to have things more figured out than I do. My heart longs for more than what is in front of me, more than the concrete, immediate, day-to-day challenges of life here. I want to love the dirt, the grime, the challenges of this life; I want to love people here well. But I have been thinking about Heaven a lot lately. Craving understanding about what it will be like there, having the Father revealed even more to me. Seeing Him face to face.

I struggle with being present with the people in front of me, loving well, with His full heart in me. I can be enjoying a moment with a friend or family member, or serving, and, in the back of my mind, I find part of myself not present, thinking about the next thing. And also wondering, is this it, Lord? Is this what it is supposed to look like? Am I loving well? Do I bring You joy?

I want to soak up each moment He has for me. Despite my questioning, despite my stumbling, I know, without a doubt, there is a greater thing ahead, a better place ahead. In my impatience of wanting more of Him here, longing to feel His touch and see His face now, I momentarily forget the truth: He is here now. He is in me now. He is after each person’s heart now. I can see His face, His footsteps, His heart all around me. There is waiting, and yet there is no waiting.

The King has already come.

A few days ago, the day after Thanksgiving, I went for a run in my parent’s orchard. Running under the canopy of almond boughs, beneath the arching of the branches over the soft, cold ground, I was struck that this orchard, trees like this, but grander, more beautiful, more amazing and breath-taking, will have to be in heaven. The way the beauty of these trees seized my heart then–the memory of that experience that I hold deep in my heart now–capture me in their majesty. I run between them and I get lost. Time is not time. Each moment cannot be recaptured, but I know this moment, under those trees, will last forever. All moments with Him last forever. There is no other place to be. There is no other place I desire. I am called to my Father. I am here, but not here. In these moments my Father grabs my heart and shows me more of Him. He reminds me that in everything I do, in everything I see, He calls me Home.

I saw with His eyes that morning, saw the trees that my dad planted with his own hands, the heavenly canopy above my head, the seemingly infinitesimal amount of dormant buds on a single branch awaiting spring, and I knew that now, not someday, some far-off day, but now, I am in Heaven.

The walk towards Him felt like a wedding, a beginning, but timeless, too–the rejoicing of the angels resounding in everything near and far. The earth reverberates. Heaven celebrates. I want to participate now. I don’t want to wait. What I know is that what He called me to in the orchard was not something I want to hold out for another, more convenient time, to absorb. He is now. He is in me. He beckons me to His beauty to behold. And I want to run there, under the beauty of His branches forever. I have not felt more content. I was present with Him, Him in me. Close to heaven, if not completely in yet, heaven.

almond orchard fade

And then, when I stopped running, walking back, I looked down and noticed the crunch of the leaves under my feet. Jesus walked under these trees. Jesus walks under these trees now. He feels the tread of the ground, the sinking one’s feet feels in the cold, moist dirt. His feet get muddy. He notices the colors of the sky, the leaves changing, the storms coming in, the whisper of His heart, His Father in Him. He was here, on this earth, and His Spirit lives now.

He has not left.

I am my Father’s daughter. I am called to a higher place, not someday, but now. Kim Walker sings a song, saying “Heaven is here now, He is all around us.” I am with my Lord. It is not something I wait for, I long for and cannot attain, something I simply imagine. It is truth. I am called home. The mysterious beauty of the almond trees reminds me of the glory of the giant sequoias of King’s Canyon, a few hours from here. I stood before those trees two weeks ago, speechless and amazed, feeling so small, so grateful to be able to witness their size and beauty. Heaven is beautiful. We see only pieces of it now. Look around. He is not small. He is here, so we are here. More and more will be revealed someday.

That is hard to take in, Lord. I want to devour it all–now. Help me in my impatience for more of You. Turn my face to You, my heart to You. Let me receive You now, all that you have, now. Of course that is more than enough. Someday will be more than I can comprehend. And now, also, is often more than I feel I can even take in. I look up. I walk with You, notice Your sky, Your leaves, Your silent but singing boughs, Your beauty. Let me be captured by You. Let Your heart in me bring You joy. Let it sing for You. Let me love what You love, Jesus. Show me. I don’t want to miss anything.

Right now, I run under your boughs. And I see You. And I can run no longer. No more words then. I stand amazed.

So glad you’re here, friends,

Jennifersignaturescript

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