Together? We’ve Got This

Together we've got this

For H.

conversation 21

God, let’s do this quickly. You know I’m uncomfortable here. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable with you. But I’m uncomfortable talking to you, sharing my heart, finding the right words . . . particularly when I’m in the company of other women.

What is this about me, Father, that I doubt I have words to communicate how you are stirring me when I am with women I am supposed to trust? They love me. They know me.

If you are safe, why do I not want to pray aloud to you? Is there something missing in me? Is there a way I am doing this that needs to be changed?

I’m going to leave it like this, then . . . I’m done talking.

But wait . . .

Could you really have anything to me to say?


My girl, I do have something to say: you don’t need to worry about what to say to me or how to say it. You don’t need to worry about fitting in or measuring up in any prayer group or women’s bible study.

You don’t need to think about what it’s supposed to look like to love me. How the world sees is not how I see.  And what I see, my girl, is a bold and tender warrior who loves and does not hesitate to do the hard thing when it counts.

Don’t doubt how I’ve made you. But look to what I’m doing in you. Your lack of confidence in speaking? That’s not you. Your hesitation to communicate your true thoughts? That’s not you. But let’s rewind a bit. What these women you are with need from you is you being you. And you are doing it, my darling. Continue stepping forward in confidence that I have made you and you can hear me and you are loved by me and you have what it takes to pray.

Because you did just now, you know–pray. Praying is talking to me. And this? What we’re doing here? This is a relationship blooming–because this here is a conversation.

But here is something new: each time you pray  . . .  listen for me to answer back.

I have more to show you. I have more of my presence to give you. I want you to claim it. I want you to know it.

Come on now, girl. The two of us together? We’ve got this.


Song to listen to: “My Lighthouse,” Rend Collective


This is day 21 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Then. Always. Now.

Then. Always. Now.For P.

conversation 21

Things have quieted down now, God. All five kids have been gone for years. D has been around more. I’ve missed him, although you know how I don’t like to admit that to him.

When D and I are together, I remember what it is about him that I’d always loved. He had a smile that captivated me, and eyes that made me feel like I was the only one in the room. He was jealous for me, passionate in his pursuit of me. When he got lost and struggled to find out who he was for all those years, I could hardly bear it. And, while I didn’t realize it at the time, I was shutting down a part of myself–the part that desired love but didn’t know how to show it.

I wonder if I am any good at loving him. I wonder if I am good at loving, at all.

It has been hard, these years, trying not to care even though I love with an intensity that makes my heart feel, sometimes, like it will surely explode. I know I have some healing to do about my parents. My grandmother loved me and held me and always wanted me close. But a part of me aches, I think, because my parents didn’t know how to love me like I am.

What do I do with all this love inside me, God? I decided, long ago, that the best way to love is to hold it all in. Is it okay continuing like this, trying to protect my heart? I think I do it at the expense of relationships that need me. How can I be present; how can I be all in; how can I pursue?

How do I show the people I love that I love them when I’m afraid to show all the love that I have to give?


Then. Always. Now.My daughter, watch me coming. Watch me coming to rescue you. Watch me standing next to you, bending low and scooping you up, just like your grandmother did when you were a little girl. Watch me come to you, not holding back my love for you. I am yours. I am all in and I am with you and I am not going anywhere.

You are made with a fierce strength–but one that is now tender and raw and wounded. You have been trying to convince yourself you are okay, and you are. But let me be clear on this: you are only okay when you know that you are loved.

Do you know how much I love you, right now, just like you are, my darling? Do you know I always have?

Return now to the place where we began. Return to the place where  you first knew me. Return to the moments when you knew I was close and when you believed I was so far away. Ask me to show you where I was. Ask me to show you how I held you, what I was doing in that moment.

Because in the moments with your dad, his head bent low, his back to you in his chair, I was with you, my daughter.

Because in the moments with your family all around the table and the chaos and the fight to be seen, I was with you, my daughter.

Because in the moments when the front door didn’t open and you tucked the children in and you slept by yourself, so many nights, I was with you, my daughter.

And I want you to hear this, my darling. I want you to know this and live like you believe it: You were never too much, my dear. You were never too much to love. You were never too much to spend time with, have fun with, dance with, laugh with, hold hands with. You are beautiful and you are cherished. Then. Always. Now.

Let me show you how I cherish you. Let me show you how precious you are to me. Let me show you how you are captivating and I can’t keep my eyes off of you.

You are the one I choose.

You are the one I’ve always wanted.

You are the one I want to be with.

Then. Always. Now.


Song to listen to: “Rock of Ages (When the Day Seems Long)“, by Sandra McCracken


This is day 21 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Stay Here, My Love. I Stay.

stay here my love I stay

From Me

conversation 20

Father, I can’t hear you when the day moves too fast. It’s been too full. And I know there are days like this, but I miss you when I don’t slow. There was a time when I was restless and I sought to be filled up, using whatever was near me to do the job. Internet shopping was my go-to when the kids were little and they used to nap in the afternoons. And gummy bears–the big Costco bags, too.  My mind and body were filled with things that never satisfied. They could never fill me like you do.

I can feel the tension in me as this week is filled with things to do, Father. I can feel in me the self-inflicted pressure to want to please people, too, as things get so busy. Their expectations of me drive me to make decisions I often later regret.

But each decision I make out of fear of not being liked, out of  the desire to be perceived as successful or responsible or whatever, leaves me empty. Because you aren’t there, in these places I chase down. You aren’t there, where I seek validation and fulfillment outside of you.

I confess to you my brokenness. I confess to you my worry about messing up. I confess to you my pride–how it drives me to get less sleep, the false and fleeting reward of productivity, efficiency, success.

Help me seek only your face, your whispers, your voice in me. It’s your voice in me, Father, that sustains me. It’s your voice in me through which love for me is received.

For your voice is not just a voice that I hear. Your voice is a presence to which my soul responds. I am lost without your voice. I can’t find my Home without you leading me there.

I give you the remainder of this day, my Lord, my King. I give you all of me. I let you wrap me up and lean back against you and stay. Oh, Father, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear your voice, unless I desire, with all my heart, to stay.

Justin gave me rings a few weeks ago that he had stamped with my favorite lines you’ve whispered. They are written in Loop:

stay here,

my love.

I stay.

And I gave these rings straight off my hand to a friend to wear because she, too, needs to remember.

stay here,

my love.

I stay.

And she wore them and then she gave them back. And now I continue to wear your words on my hand. Your words. Your voice. My prayer.

stay here,

my love.

I stay.


Take my voice deeper in now, love. Take me in deeper. Walk with me. Listen more closely. My voice is how you awake. My voice is how you dream. My voice is how you stir and seek the more I have planned.

You know there is more for you, more of me to realize in you, to experience in you. Awake a bit more, now, love. Awake and get to dreaming, get to seeing and hearing. Let me quiet you and help you run. Run hard. Run fast. Run straight into me and don’t pause to look around–and especially, don’t look back.

I will lean in close and tell you more. I will lean in close and draw you deeper in. I will lean in close and reveal more of this language you want to know.

Speak this language with your heart. Speak this language with every move you make. Speak this language with your love. Let it overflow, love. Run straight into me–deeper now–and let me overflow into everything you, and onto everyone you touch.

With my voice.

With my love.

With my hope.

With my light.

And in this running? And in this seeking? . . . In this speaking loud the language and love you pour out with my strength and might?

stay here,

my love.

I stay.


Song to listen to: “Remind Me Who I Am,” Jason Gray


This is day 20 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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How She Loved You

How she loved you

For C.

conversation 19

I watch these trees change outside my windows, God. The leaves turning from green to bright orange and red. There is quiet here, in this new place where all six of us moved. We are far from the city now.

The countryside sings tunes sweet and low—the creak of the branches in the wind, the frogs when night blankets the hills. There is music here I wish she could hear too, God. I miss her. I miss her voice and her smile and the way it felt when her arms were around me.

My mom.

She’s been gone now, twenty-one years. Remember how she battled? Do you remember how she believed—and we all believed—she would be healed? My heart aches for her. And I look at my daughters and my sons, three of the four whom she never met. Oh, how can I take it in how you let her meet my daughter, my firstborn, her first grandchild, in the same hospital where she was staying and where she died ten days later? Oh, God, you let her meet my daughter.

I wish she weren’t so sick so that she could have held her, too.

That daughter of mine is growing up so fast, Father. I can’t believe she’s moved out and on her own. Twenty-one years old, the same number of years my mom has been gone. How is it my daughter is already grown? Is this the same little girl I used to carry around and cuddle close? How is it so much time has gone by and I’ve raised these four and my mom has been gone this whole time?

Where am I going, Father? Am I doing okay? Am I raising these children in a way that would make my mom smile?

We’ve moved so far away from what I knew, and it feels right. But I still worry and wonder and hope this is all going to turn out more than fine.


how she loved you

Oh, my darling how she loved you. She loved you with an overwhelming love, a love that came from my heart in her. And she showed you that love, because I adored her too, my love. I know what it is like to give up something you love. I know what it means to have a beloved suffer and you wish it didn’t have to turn out the way it did. But I have been present with you, my love. I’ve never left you. All the hours in the hospital. All the nights when you were at home alone. All the times when you stayed up late at night in your room, worrying and wondering how to fix this, how to pray hard enough to make her well.

I know.

I know it was so hard and your heart hurt and you didn’t want her to go.

I know.

I give you new beginnings, my daughter. Each time you turn to me, each moment you surrender to me, I begin again in you. I gather you up, my love.

Those were my arms you felt, too, when she held you close. Those were my words of love, too, when she looked you in the eyes and told you it would be okay, that she was there, that you could tell her anything, that she loved you and she would never stop.

That mother’s love is a fierce love. It is a love that would give anything for her children. And she hated that she wasn’t able to keep staying here, loving you. But she knew me, and you know me too. Her prayers, again and again, were prayers of love for you. Prayers of yearning for you. Prayers of desire on behalf of you.

She loved you with a love that surrendered you to me. She loved you with a love that would have given anything for you, because of me.

how she loved you

Those children of yours? This love is passed down, my darling. That love she showed you? That love I gave to her? You are showing it to your children. You are blessed with my presence. You are blessed with my love in you. You are blessed with my hope in you.

If you know me, if you hear me, if you follow me, believe me now. Believe I am here. Believe I help you to stand. Believe I am your steadfast anchor, your rock.

You are not slipping. You are not falling. You are not alone and fragile. You are given a love that holds you and protects you and goes before you. You are the one to keep leading, my dear. Keep leading them to me. Keep leading your children to me. By my love. By my words in you. By my whispers to you and my love upholding you. It is the only thing on which any family can stand.


 Song to listen to: “Majesty,” Caedmon’s Call


This is day 19 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Letting the Pieces Fall

Letting the Pieces FallFor J.

conversation 18

I grew up knowing you, God. I would curl up next to my grandmother and she would tell me about you. Her Bible was worn and beautiful. Next to her, hearing her talk about you, I believed you were real. I believed you were with me. I believed you loved me.

And I needed to be loved.

She would read scripture and then talk to you like you were the only one there, even when I was in the room. She saw you, right next to her, and I learned you are a friend I could talk to. Not remote and strange, but close and good and present.

You know how mom wasn’t around as much and how my grandparents were my rock. They loved me. On weekends I would crawl up in the big bed and grandpa would let me talk to him about everything. I was the only child in the family, and when my mom wasn’t ready for me, my grandparents decided they were.

Letting the Pieces Fall

God, thank you that you’ve never left me. I have felt lost many times, unsure about the decisions I’ve made, particularly since I am married now. You know my husband and my two children and how I feel completely overwhelmed most of the time. You know how I wonder if I’ve made a mistake that can’t be rewritten, with my marriage that can’t seem to get fixed, with my one child who struggles to find joy and find his place. Yet while I am lost, I have never felt incapable of being found.

I need to be found again now, Father.

So I will curl up next to you, just like I did with my grandparents, as a child, and I will let you hold me here. I will read your words and you will quiet my heart and I will know you are present here. I will let you guide me and bring hope and direction here.

For I need you, God. I drop my hands and everything I hold. They are empty now. Please, pick up these pieces and put them back together, God. I don’t even know how.


Letting the Pieces Fall

There are some things I want to show you, my dear one. There are some things I want to whisper to your heart. There are some things I want you to know and believe and live out. For you are treasured, my love. And you are not forgotten.

I hear your words, and I see beneath them. I know that little girl you speak of. I know her heart. I know the turmoil she endured, the way she felt lost, the way she felt abandoned.

Is that when rescue becomes even more realized? Only when realizing one is lost can one appreciate how she is found?

Yes, you are found. Yes,  you are dear–and perfectly designed by me.

Those eyes of yours, my love, what do they look on each day? Those ears of yours, my love, what do they choose to hear?

I know how things were so hard when the cancer came, when it spread and they had to operate and you were so sick, so sick for so long, my darling. I know how alone you felt and how you tried so hard to be strong.

Now listen: I know you want to love your husband. I know you want to hold up your family. I know you want to be strong. I know you want to do what is right. But there is a point, as you know, when trying to be the strong one just doesn’t work. (I know, through these ordeals, this is what you’ve learned.) But now, my girl, now . . . yes, I say you can do it. You can be strong. You just need to be strong in your weaknesses, strong in your love for–and strong in your reliance upon–me.

Letting the Pieces Fall

You are needed. So go forth. You are beautiful. So let your beauty be revealed.

Yes, I want to tell you something about your beauty. My darling, don’t let your beauty hide. You have been changed, yes, by the disease, but you are glorious in your beauty and you are glorious in your strength in me. You are called forth now to stay here with me and recognize my whispers to your heart and know that I give you what you need to love your husband and your children. I give you what you need to teach and to be a friend and be a daughter and be held, too. I know you know you can’t do a thing on  your own.

So, yes, curl up here with me, my love. I will hold you, and I will refresh you. I will restore you, and I will nudge you now, to step into places of discomfort for the good of your family. I will ask you to step into places of uncomfortableness, because you need to heed my whispers now. I am asking you to rely, even more, on me.

My girl, you are so much more than you think you are. Let me show you what I see.


Song to listen to: “Endless Years“, United Pursuit Band


This is day 18 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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When Your Whole Self Sees

Alaska Kennicott

For B.

conversation 17

My Lord, I wish my words could write out the vision I see. For I see you. And I feel you close.

Your arm wrapped around my back, the touch of your palm behind me. Your other hand wrapped around mine. I recognize you, while we dance.

I know what it means to have you look at me. You draw me deeper, where it is just us two. It is the place where I am myself. It is the place where I am free.

I might seem beautiful here. But it is only the reflection of you. You, my Lord, overwhelm me. How can I be in your presence and be able, still, to stand?

I fall on my knees, my head bowed, knees trembling. I can’t raise my eyes. But I see you, in my heart. I know your eyes, though I am afraid to look at you, straight on.

But I must.

Your fingers are under my chin now, and you tilt my chin upwards until I can see you. And you are bent so low, leaning down over me.

Why do you bend so low, my Lord? How do you do it? How can I remain here with you? For you are so amazing, so fearful and mighty. Yet you are gentle in your fierce love for me. You are tender in your steadfast pursuit of me. You are not reckless but careful and wise in your determination to stay here, in this place of love, with me.

Oh, my Lord, how do you stay? How do I stay? Can you continue to teach me who I am and who you are and how to keep within me where you are?


Close your eyes now , my child. Can you hear it? Can you see it ? I know you do. You are surrounded by love. You are surrounded by beauty. You are surrounded by joy. You are surrounded by voices raised in singing. It is time to worship, my love.

Stand tall now. Raise your hands. Lift your voice, your whole soul singing out. You can’t help but do it. You are made to sing. You are made to dance. You are made to be, completely, with me.

In this place where I am there is no separation between us. And my presence may overwhelm, yes. But it is what restores you, heals you, fills you so love overflows from your whole self. You are whole here. You are complete here. You raise your voice and shout out loud the truth of hope that you can’t keep to yourself anymore.  You can’t help but worship and respond to me with your full heart.

Your complete self.

Your whole self.

Stay here? You can’t not stay here with me.

And when you stay, you worship. And when you worship, you see.


Song to Listen to: “Heaven,” Daniel Bashta, featuring Mac Powell


This is day 17 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Going All the Way

going all the wayFor the Beloveds

conversation 16

Let’s go to a new place together, Father.Will you grab my hand? Who leads? You? Sometimes I wonder if I effectively articulate my heart to you, forgetting you don’t need any perfect words from me. I have a friend who, when she hears you, she writes down what you say. Can I hear you, too? If I do, do I need to write it down?

I am made differently than anyone else, and I know that is perfect. But it doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

Perfect.

Good enough.

Beloved.

Remind me it is okay to just be myself, with you.

Free me from comparison, God. Keep me free. It is lovely here, with you.

I have my Bible open now. I want your words to me from these filled pages to be more than words. I want to hear you clearly but I wonder how, exactly, to do it. Do I stay quiet with you? Do I sit and pray the Psalms? Do I go to church and sing songs of worship? Do I serve and love and serve some more?

I will do it, Father, whatever it takes. Or, at least, I think I will. I read a post by Annie Downs sharing how we shouldn’t sing out loud the words of “Oceans” unless we are willing to go all the way with you. She says we can raise our hands and close our eyes and feel all wrapped up in the beauty of the music, the lyrics. But to take the lyrics right on into our hearts and live them out? Well, that might be another story.

What story are you calling me to live, God, with you?going all the way

Am I willing, God, to leave the safety of what I am used to, where I am comfortable, to pursue you, no matter what it requires of me?

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters, wherever You would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet would ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.

To be able to even hear you here, I give you all my doubts and insecurities, my worries and fears. I give you my lack of words, my mind, my heart. I give you my friendships, my relationships, my finances. I give you my heart . . . Well, here I am, saying I am giving you my heart . . .But I wonder if I truly am?

What does it look like for me–not anyone else–but me, to follow you completely, with total surrender? And is this anything I even want to do?

Thank you, Father, for how you hold my heart, in all its ramblings.

Holy Spirit, you understand more than my words. You know each word, really, I want to say.

I’ll leave it like it is then.

Like that.


going all the wayMy girl, you’ve said it all. Anything worth pursuing is worth going all the way. With your heart. With your talents. With your time. What is all the way? I think you know. And it isn’t, like you say, about the words. It isn’t, like you say, about effort, trying harder to love.

Yes, I hear you: it is about surrender.

Drop it all now. All those burdens. Yes, keep doing it.

It’s feels so much better now.

You can see me now.

You can hear me.

Words? Who cares about words unless your heart is carried by me? I give you what you need to speak. I give you what you need to love. I give you what you need to work. I give you what you need to live–with freedom. With joy.

Oh, my girl, my lovely one, my free one. You are glorious and beautiful in the freedom I give you. You are glorious and beautiful in the staying you do with me, in the going all the way with me, in the surrender.

Keep giving me all the worries. Keep giving me all the fears. Leave all that weighs you down, with me. What I have to give you can’t be held unless your heart is free. What I have to give you can’t be held unless you are holding fast to my hand.

Yes, you are.

Yes, you know what it means to be free.

So sing that song, my love. Sing it loud–but do it, only, with me. Because I will teach you how to sing it and what the words, translated, mean, just for you.

You don’t want to miss this. I’ve got some good things planned.

We are heading somewhere, you know. And I know you want to go.


Song to listen to: “Like an Avalanche” Hillsong United


 

This is day 16 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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At the Kitchen Table


IMG_7467
For J.

conversation 15

I remember me as a little girl, God. I would wake and the sun would not yet be up. The house was still, only dad awake at the kitchen table. And I would sit next to him and wonder about what was coming next, how if I asked him the right question he might see me. The paper would be open and I would scoot up close, wanting to read the words he was reading, wanting to know what was so interesting, what captured his attention.

I wondered what it would take for me to get him to turn–how I could get him to see me, ask me a question, notice, that I was wearing my favorite shirt.

Music would flood the house, later in the day. The piano open, the guitar out. And we would sing, the five of us, me and my parents and my sister and brother. The weight of the morning would lift and I knew everything, then, was okay.

I wonder, now, God, about the timing of all these moments you bring. I wonder about how you shape us, how you create for us families, how you speak into us and create environments that affect the way we act and think.

How did you make us each so differently? And why is it I forget, so easily, how you crafted each one of us, with your breath? I think about your crafting of me, wondering about how the way I was raised affected the choices I made later, as an adult. Is this what you planned when you made me and you designed me? When you created this heart, this soul, this miracle, were you fine with the outcome of me?

When am I fully mature, Father? When am I done being crafted? When am I done being shaped? Was my birth just the beginning of the development of my soul? Do I keep growing and changing and becoming beautiful, like you, even after I’ve breathed my last breath?

Oh, God give me a childlike faith. You have made me so I am filled with questions, and I both love it and I grow weary of them all, too. Let me not worry so much about the answers but let me be satisfied with whatever it is you want to teach me. Help me know you are here and you’re in control and that yes, everything is going to be okay.


at the kitchen table

My darling, each of those mornings, I was there, sitting with you. I put love song in you, the tender heart to love others. I crafted you to notice when someone was hurting, when another person, even someone you didn’t know, was in pain. It is so good to ask questions, because then we can have a conversation. I ask you questions and you ask me questions back. I fill your mind with questions and your heart is stirred and you wonder how to piece it all together. It is my joy to watch you live this life, my darling.

You are my daughter, and I love you as you are. And who you are is who you are becoming. Only, with me, can anything be complete.

You know how you loved to jump and spin? How you loved to push yourself and watch your body grow strong from hours of work, hours of discipline, hours of practice? You still love that, I know. You still love being outside, noticing the burst of purple as hydrangeas bloom, the smell of pine as you walk under canopies with me, in our garden. I have made you to love pushing yourself to learn and grow because it is how you are being made to be complete, in me. You are doing the things you love to do and you see me with you. You are growing  in your completion when you are seeing me, noticing me, engaging with me.

Oh, can we go on a walk together, right now, my darling?

Let’s keep doing this, talking about questions and wondering about answers–especially answers found only through communication with me. You, my daughter, are my treasure. You can always scoot up close. I am always interested in what you have to say.


Song to listen to: “Can’t Outrun Your Love“, Ellie Holcomb


This is day 15 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day!

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