Our God is Not Silent, Love

coffee shop

To all the girls

conversation 31

There is a circle forming, and I can see it. You show me glimpses of it, when I curl up next to you. Even in this noisy coffee shop where I write now, my fingers on these keys, a long line of people behind me waiting to order. You show me glimpses of the circle, even when the world around me is full and busy and loud. Yes, you are here too.

And glimpses of the circle are good enough for me, Father. I can hear you wherever I am, if you are speaking. And you are often speaking, my Lord. ‘Cause you love us like that.

You love us and appreciate silence but you love communication even more. And your girls, here? Well, I think we have trouble hearing you sometimes. And I wonder if this is why: where you speak to us is unfamiliar. Your voice enters in a place in us we don’t yet recognize, a place where whispers form, a place where healing comes.

Because, for me, the place where you speak to me was a place where only lies filled the space. The space was full–too full–of false beliefs about you and about me. Lies that felt so familiar I didn’t know they existed.

How can I ask you to break a lie and show me truth if lies I don’t even know I believe are crowding you out?

There was no space for you, Father. My prayers desperate scribbles:  Do you love me? Can I love better? Do I even have any love to give? Work harder to be a better mom. Work harder to be a better wife. Work harder to be a better Christian. Work harder to be a better person.

Your girls here? I think a lot of them pray similar prayers, too.

I still struggle sometimes, you know. But now I know where to go when the lies come, when I believe I can’t hear your voice in me. You gather me to you, part of the circle where the daughters gather, the daughters who know they are loved, who know how to dance and sing and be free. It is the place where you gather us and remind us, again, we are yours, we are loved, we are free.

Oh, God, we see your beauty here. And in your beauty we have eyes to see our beauty, the freedom that comes when we claim our place, when we bow our knees and we let you take off the dark cloak of shame that pressed us prostrate to the floor.

You are here, my God. You are here, in the circle, bending low. You are here, in the circle, where your daughters are held and rescued and found.

Help us to hear you. Help us to say yes to you. Help us to let you in, no matter how difficult it feels. Helps us to be daughters who are known and fearless and grateful to pursue their true identity in you, community around us that reminds us of the place of Home, and adventure where we stay with you and go out, always, holding your hand.

I give you words, my love. They are words from a place of love. Because you know you are loved and you are free, you are able to speak. Because you know you are adored and you are pursued, you are given voice to sing loud the cry of the claimed: you are chosen,  you are delighted in, you are the one I wait here, to see.

To all my girls, listen close. I have something to say. In the moments when you feel fear overtake you, let me take your hand.  The circle is a circle with me at the center. Nothing else. It is a circle of hands clasped tight. Where daughters move in and out. But despite all movement, the circle remains. Growing larger, yet staying intimate. It is a circle of understanding and freedom. It is a circle where joy is captured. It rises high.

I am the center of the circle, my daughters. I am the center of the joy, the creator of the joy and the beauty and the light.

As part of the circle, you radiate out the light. You are with me and you go out, to tell people about this light. You show my light in the way you love. You show my joy in the choices you make to see. You express my voice in the way you spend your days. Moments being known. Being delighted in. Being fearless because you know whose you are how you are not alone.

So let me set you free again. Let me tear off that heavy cloak of regret and doubt and weariness and shame. These burdens are not for you. Not here. Not in the circle. The cloaks fall when you are of the circle and you are standing free and tall.

No cowering, my love. No hiding, my love. No striving to fix all the past and fix all the worries of the future.

Stay here. Free. Rescued.

I speak to you and remind you who you are and how there is so much more to you, just to you, I want to say.

Song to listen to: “Out of Hiding (Father’s Song)“, Steffany Gretzinger and Amanda Cooke

This is conversation 31 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to stick with me, here.

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Ready to Ask What a Future Holds?

future holdsTo the ones who no longer want to run

conversation 30

Father, bring it on. I want all of you, and I hope you hold nothing back. I can take it. I can go back to those hard moments, those moments when the world was spinning and I couldn’t find legs to keep me up. ‘Cause I know you want me to. I know you want to heal me, bring me Home to you. I know you want me to trust you more, let you grab hold of this not-so-sure hand of mine and take me to a place I’ve never been.

I’ve never heard your voice, at least not that I can remember, not a voice I recognize as yours.

I’ve never seen your face, even though I close my eyes and I try to imagine you.

I’ve shirked from surrendering to you, and I have trouble in the quiet, distracted and afraid it will swallow me up. Would you meet me there? Would you teach me to not be afraid?

Because I want to be bold and fearless, with you.

Because I want to stand tall, letting your words to me in this stiff Bible of mine dance right off the pages and into my heart.

You’ve made me to hear you, right? You’ve made me to want to be with you, right? We’re made to be together, aren’t we?

Oh, come on, Father. Come on in. I am choosing you, no matter what that requires. I am tired of running. I am tired of trying to fix this life of mine on my own.

Take it. Take it now. And I’m going to come running right with you now. Not away this time. ‘Cause I want to be with you. I am tired of running away.

I am here, child. I wait as long as it takes. I wait as long as you need me to wait. I’m in no hurry. I’m not worried about your next step. But I do know the next step you should take. And I do know how each step takes you in a direction towards what is good for you or towards a distraction from who you really are.

When I speak to you, child–because, yes, I speak to you–it is to the daughter whom I see underneath the layers of wounds, underneath the shrouds you wear. You radiate light, my love, through the shrouds. But it only peeks through. And I speak to you and I guide you and I give you glimpses of what it looks like, what it feels like, to have the shrouds be removed completely.

Oh, daughter, you are not meant to wear these shrouds. They are heavy and dark. They are restrictive, the way they bind you and prevent you from seeing glimpses of what, in you, I see.

But whether you hear me or not, know that I keep speaking.

Whether you see me or not, my love, know that I am here.

Whether you feel me or not, whether you sense my nearness or decide for yourself I am far away, I am close; I do not leave. My love for you keeps me in you, the moment you said yes. But for more of me, for the lightening of your load, for freedom from doubt and worry and chasing, yes, let me come on in.

I hear you. I am coming. I am going to heal in you these places that have not yet seen light. I love your readiness, my darling girl. I love your willingness, my daughter. I love your soft heart and your courage, letting me be your courage and the director of your future now.

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

This is conversation 30 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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How We Walk Towards Home

how to walk towards home

To His girls

conversation 29

Wind dances like a butterfly through branches laden with crimson, persimmon, and sun. It catches stray hairs framing her face, tickling her nose and resting just above where her eyelashes curl. She reaches and pulls the hair back behind her ears and closes her eyes to hear sound dance.

Wind sending leaves jumping and crunching. Wind brushing her cheeks and kissing where light warms skin. Wind crackling as her feet tread sure and silent, one foot, and then another, through carpets of sweet velvet green.

I see her, Father, walking the path.

I see her, Father, hands empty. Fingers bare.

I see her Father, listening, but not with her ears. Seeing, but not with her eyes.

She watches the wind and she is in the wind, your breath on her back, your sun on her face, your touch on her skin.

Your daughter of wisdom. Your daughter of beauty. Your daughter of light. Your daughter of kindness and gentleness and courage and might.

Awake her, my God. Awake her from sleep and keep her walking. Awake her from sleep and keep her listening. Awake her from sleep and keep her seeing.

She steps in freedom. She steps in joy. She steps in humbleness and strength.

She is yours and she has much to do.

Remembering. Staying. Listening to your breath in the wind, seeing where you invite her feet to tread.

Daughter, awaken from the night. Awaken to see the chains from which you are free.

Yes, stay awake now. You are awakening to me, with each step you take. You are awakening, with each pause in solitude, each turning towards me.

Keep walking now, my love. Keep walking with me. Keep walking towards me. Keep listening for my voice in the wind, the very wind against your cheek, the very wind that whispers to your heart,

You are the daughter who is made to see. You are the daughter who is made to hear. You are the daughter who is made to recognize hope–how you are made for a world where beauty is what you inhabit, more than anything else. The beauty of knowing me. The beauty of inhabiting, in your heart, your true home.

This is day 29 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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God, Why?

window .jpg

For SB

conversation 28

Brown cardboard stacks silent like morose soldiers awaiting marching orders. Everything we own shoehorned inside. It’s taken days to pack but weeks to admit I want to scream and tear open those boxes and chuck plates and books and toys across the room.

We say goodbye to the house we thought you gave us God, the house of our dreams, the one we worked so hard for, the one we thought we’d live in forever. Why now? Why this job loss? Why this financial strain?

The worst day was telling the kids we had to move. The way D lowered his eyes like a puppy dog and the way S slammed her door and didn’t talk to me for four days. We collected boxes from the supermarket. Went to the produce section and got sent around back. Stacks of banana boxes and apple boxes. And then we went to the neighbors and collected plastic containers they no longer needed.

We aren’t moving far. The rental house is just a few blocks down past the school, and then another right turn at the donut shop next to the Starbucks where I used to go before work. But you know that, God. And I’m trying not to be mad at you, but I really thought we were in the clear. I thought the work would keep coming, especially for H. We had worked hard for so many years to buy our own house. And then to foreclose? To have to give it back and move out and squeeze into another house so much farther away from the kids’ schools?

But you know what is hurting most.

You know.

H isn’t talking much anymore. I think he’s depressed, God. I think he thinks he’s failed us somehow; he fears I respect him less because he lost his job and the whole family feels like the world is upside down.

I know we don’t deserve a thing, Father. I know you provide for us everything we need. I know you give and you take away. I know I should be trusting you more, here.

But it might be awhile until I feel okay again. I’m trying to have faith in you, but it’s hard to have faith when I want to just yell at you and scream, Why?



I know the room feels silent, daughter, and you wonder if I am here. I have heard the prayers, my love. I have collected the tears in the night, measured the sobs of your dear ones, felt the confusion, the accusations, the fear.

Come with me, now, where I want to take you. Sometimes moving is more than a move to a new physical place. Sometimes the move is closer, deeper in. And sometimes, initially, moving to new places feels darker and more ominous, too.

But keep your eyes on me.

I have a light that shines bright, my love, and I shine it forth, marking the way ahead. I shine it for your sweet girl and dear boys. I shine it for your husband. I shine it for you, for your listening to me, for your art, for your work in how you listen and love and serve.

Stay here, where I am, where I shine bright the light. Stay here, where I am, and I will direct you and bring forth hope in the dark places. All the dark places where fear wants you to sink further in.

I lift you out, my love.

Yes, keep your eyes on me.

This is day 28 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Break Me

break me flowers fade
From me

conversation 27

Father, why is it the people I think are closest to me are the ones, sometimes, that I actually feel understand me the least? Or, is it, really, that they understand me the most?

I was confronted the other day by someone close to me who said that my priorities aren’t straight—that I should surrender my days to you more, that I am not giving of myself like I should.

Father, I dread being told that I need to change. I dread being told by someone else that I should probably go to you and ask you what you think. I think it is because I fear that I am messing up somehow.

And I don’t like to mess up.

And I don’t like being told what to do.

And I especially don’t like someone telling me I am messing up and I need to surrender something in me. Rather than listen to what they have to say, I want to attack them with my words. I want to deny I am doing anything wrong. Instead, I want them to change to accommodate me.

You love me like this, right?

In the garden of Gethsemane your Jesus bowed and surrendered, modeling, even before he ultimately let himself be sacrificed for our ransom, what it means to completely trust in you, completely surrender to you. Jesus shows me what it means to love you. What it means to be your child. What is means to know you are here and you are listening and you want to know how we feel about things.

To be a disciple of Jesus means we trust you, Father, more than ourselves. It means we trust your will is what is best. But—now this is important—being a disciple of Jesus requires knowing your will first. Otherwise it is impossible to surrender to it.

Is that right, God? Must I know you will before I am able to surrender?

Does wisdom necessitate surrender? Or does wisdom follow willingness to surrender?

I know this: my rebellion stems from the same pride that Satan had when he rose against you and wanted to be better than you, thinking his way was best. He didn’t want to get any closer to you; he wanted to remove himself from your presence because he didn’t like being told what to do and he believed he was smarter and more beautiful and wiser . . . than you.

And I am doing the same thing as Satan did when I turn away from wise counsel and I use harsh, rash, unkind words in an attempt to fend off the person who loves me and believes, for me, it is good to pursue change.

Father, here is my confession then: I am the rebellious daughter who wants to come home. I am the prodigal, the mess-up, the prideful girl who needs to fall, who needs to get low.

Take me like this, will you? Your will not mine be done?

And this time my friends, there are no words to the conversation. Sometimes, you know, there are no words. But, rather, it is His presence that fills us in response.

And with His presence, I am before him, on the ground, a heap of rags in a background of turquoise and shadows. He stands before me, a Father who faces his daughter and knows that sometimes it isn’t words she needs to hear.

Sometimes, she needs to be allowed to cry at his feet, to be given permission to let her tears fall over him. She is unworthy and she is loved. She is broken and she is mended. She needs to pour out her heart to the One who knows her and adores her, despite her wretchedness. For she is loved by the One who loves. And she is remembering who she is.

He bends low to touch her face, reaches his hand underneath her chin. She knows He is asking her, with his movement, to raise her head, to look up. So she does.

She does.

She does.

This is day 27 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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I Sing Loud Your Praise

sing loud

For J.

conversation 26

Father, you know how I don’t mind telling the story. Well, that’s not true. I hate to share it. It’s hard to go back and remember what happened when I was so little. It’s hard to look someone in the eye and tell them what was done to me and how at the time I didn’t know it was bad, although it didn’t seem good, either.

I could be bitter, I guess. I could stay angry, stay wounded, let my heart become hard. But this world is too good, Father! You are too good!

Even though the abuse happened to me, over and over, starting when I was three years old. Even when I had to put myself in foster care, leave the home I wished were safe, at the age of 16. Even though I had no place to live. Even though I didn’t know how get back on my feet. You’ve given me strength, my Lord. You’ve given me resilience. You’ve given me a heart that is grateful. I am grateful for my circumstances. I am grateful for you being with me.

I have never been alone, through it all. When I share about the tough times, I can smile through my tears. I keep my heart focused on you. I want to be more like you. I want to love you more. You provide for me. You care for me. You catch every tear that falls. You bless me, again and again, with friends, with people who love me. You provide me with food, with a place to sleep, with work to do so I can love others.

Oh, Father, there is so much for which I am grateful! My heart will surely burst from the joy of being with you! I will keep following you, trusting you, seeking you with my whole heart. This life is not too difficult. My past does not deter me from loving and from following you. You are enough for me, my King, my Savior.

My lovely one, how I cherish you! Oh, how you make me smile! You stay close, always close, and I have walked with you, held you, loved you with an everlasting love. This life is so hard; there is so much evil, but so much good, for I am here. And oh, my darling, how you choose to see me! How you choose to see the good!

So I send you out, watching you go forward with strength and with beauty, with a warrior-strength, noble and beautiful, full of love and kindness and mercy. You walk with mercy, my love.

Every step you take is blessed with mercy, with kindness, with gentleness and love. I bless you, again and again. I love you and pour myself into you. I look at you, and I am glad! I look at you, and I say, ‘There, that is my daughter! The one who walks with calm, gentle strength, into situations that require much. She is not deterred. She know from where her strength comes.’

My lovely one, my precious one, I have more good for you in store. You delight in me, and I delight in you. You make the eyes of my heart smile.

Song to listen to:  “Our God,” Chris  Tomlin

This is day 26 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Who Will Walk Like Beauty?

walk beauty

For the Beauties

conversation 25

Can we all join hands now, Father? She is so different from me. And so beautiful. Her voice resounds and she moves with authority, like grass sways in gentle wind. She goes forward and she knows with each step she will be held. Eyes straight ahead, head determinedly set. But she is looking. She is looking and she is seeing. She has hands calloused and strong. She is sure.

She looks for the lost, knowing her King walks with her, knowing she is led.

She is beautiful. She is beauty walking. Who can follow her? Who can follow beauty into the night? Who can follow her onto the paths where others are afraid to tread? Who will put down what they are carrying, their schedules, their lists? Who will put down their fears, their burdens, their wounds? Who will present them to the King?

Who will lay them down, one by one, and ask Him to put salve on the places of pain, the places where evil came and violated? Who will come and be rescued? Who will come and know there is help and there is hope and there is a place where each daughter can find shelter and be home?

Find the shadow under the wings, dear ones. Follow the path that leads towards rescue and stay. Wait and stay. You will not be disappointed when Love finds you there.You will not be looking this way or that for a different way to be filled.

No longer will anything else satisfy. No longer will anything else quench your thirst. Come, beauties, come and be fed and find shelter and be healed.

For you are asked to go forward, walking resolutely. The beginning of the end and the beginning. I will meet you there.

Song to listen to:  “Chasing You,” Sarah Reeves

This is day 25 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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Carry It On, My Love

carry on my loveFor T.

conversation 24

God, remember me, your little girl? Those were the days of pursuing perfection, the days when she was sick and the mom I knew, the mom who laughed and planned, the mom who loved and filled a room with energy and life, lay prostrate for hours at a time. I missed her.

Me, this girl of hers, her only child, the one whom she whisked away from one side of the country to the other, the one whom she protected and shepherded and led to Jesus. She was my strength; she was my rock; she was my everything. And then her body began to fail. And I decided, when that diagnosis came in, that I needed to do what I could to make her better.

Be quiet when she was sleeping. Come home right after school. Get good grades. Don’t go to parties. Don’t get involved in sports. Keep my room clean. Be present. Be available. Don’t make her worry. Be the good girl and get everything right.

Carry it on my love

carry it on my love

I loved her, God. I loved her and I wanted her to stay. I loved her and I don’t understand why she had to suffer. She never complained. She never asked me to be perfect. That was my decision. I loved her with all my heart, and I didn’t know what to do to help her. So I tried to be the best daughter I could. Did it even do any good? Did she know how much she was treasured? Did she know how much she was adored?

I ache inside, God. I ache for her smile. I ache for her voice. I ache for her laugh, the laugh that would fill me up and make me feel safe and let me know, without a doubt, I was found and I was home.

With her, wherever I was, I was home.

I have spent years trying to find my way back to her, to feeling like I did when she was here. I was loved, God. I was loved and I was cherished and she was what I needed. I need her still, now.

Take this heart of mine, Father. You have been chasing me down, and I have trying, these past years, to turn, to listen, to not try to do everything on my own. I know, now, I don’t have to be perfect. I know now, I never did. But the part of me that still misses her, that still wishes it were all okay (because it doesn’t feel okay that she is gone), struggles to not try to do everything right. That little girl inside me wants her sons to know they don’t have to be perfect. She wants her sons to know their mom is strong and their mom is safe and they have a safe place, if they need to, with her, to fall.

When I was little I didn’t let myself fall. And I don’t know what it would look like to let my boys fall. I confess, I want to do everything in my power to not let them fall. (I don’t want to imagine what that would look like, God.)

So take this heart of mine, God. I give you all of me. I give you my fears and my little girl heart. Make me whole. Grow her up . .  . and can you tell her something for me? Can you tell her she doesn’t have to be strong?

carry it on my love

carry it on my love

My daughter, take off your shoes. My daughter, come with me. My daughter, let me show you a place that is holy.

When I made you, you were crafted to look like me. You have within you my breath. My words breathed on you and in you. And what I see when I look on you, what I see when I stand with you, my shining one, is what is holy. You are pure and you are untarnished. You are shining now. You are glorious now. You are filled with light now. My daughter, I’ve never let you go.

I filled the room when I cared for your mother and I cared for you. I filed the rooms of your home, walked with you at school, guarded you while you slept. You are precious to me, and I know it was so hard when she was sick. I know how you were scared and you didn’t want her to worry. I know how you tried to be strong and do the right thing.

Do you know I am so proud of you? Do you know I stay with you and I watch you and I fill you with me because I love you? Do you know I have even more of me to give you? Do you know I have amazing things to show you?

So remember that little girl within you, yes. But do another thing, too. I want you to talk to her. I want you to tell her this, straight from me:

It is not your fault. It is not your fault your mom died. It is not your fault she got sick. It is not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong. I am the one who carried your mom. I am the one who protected her heart. I am the one who guarded her and stayed with her and filled her with peace. That joy she had? That love she had, for you? It is because she knew me. It is because she trusted me. You know me. You trust me, too.

You carry within you her inheritance, the blessing of being known, the blessing of being loved, the blessing of being protected and filled with joy.

You are my joy-carrier, my darling. I fill you with my joy. Carry it on; carry it forward. It is me you are carrying. It is me you are beholding. It is me you are showing to your sons. Just point to me, living out freedom, not bondage. Living out joy, not striving to keep it all together.

Remember, I am the one who holds you together. Letting yourself go is the only way to carry that joy in you forth.

You can’t try harder now, love.

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

This is day 24 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day.

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