in the pain and the wonder

Two and a half years ago they began documenting the journey towards Home. The cancer prognosis, “treatable, not curable,” and the church saw the family clinging to Jesus. Emotions sinking low, hearts reaching high.

So many trials those years–with other family members leaving, a life ending unexpectedly soon. All while the fight to live continued on.

Oh, God, how we want to live, and how we live to trust you.

how we want to live.jpg

We read the news reports of families searching for strength–claiming the body of a daughter, a brother, a mother, a son from the ocean deep. We continue reading other stories: lives tortured, spirits almost ripped in two–through slavery, through mutilation, through physical, emotional, psychological abuse.

Oh, God, how we need you, and how we need to see you.

From the outskirts of hope, from the periphery of understanding, we cry out or stay silent. We grow angry or we feel nothing. We beg for answers or we hurt too much to care.

And you are so vast, God. You are too great for our small understanding. And we beat against your chest, or we walk away from you, or we stand fast, not needing to know what you know, trusting that not knowing all your ways is okay.

It is okay.

And we remember we are small and we are loved and this heartache, this dying, this suffering is what you feel, too, And maybe we can’t understand it all–all this pain, but let our hearts settle right down into you, hold us as we cry. Remind  us how we are here to love as you loved. Remind us we are here to let these hearts of ours break and break again. Remind us we are here to have our hearts do what yours has done, Father, over and over again . . . 

For the stone has been rolled away.

And while we can’t understand and can hardly bear the ache from people we love suffering so deep, we trust you more than ourselves. We stand in the middle of the grief and we see your face. We stand in the middle of the marriage failing and the children crying and the friend dying and we trust the answer we can never come up with on our own is you.

You begin again.

The stone is rolled away and we begin again. The stone is rolled away and we see that anything we thought was secure, that mighty stone dust in your hands, is only our arrogance, our pride, our desire for control causing grief layered upon grief.

Yes, we will feel the pain; we will bear it.  But take away our pride that makes us want to have you all figured out when things don’t go the way we think they should.

We lay ourselves down. We mourn and we shake our fists and we fall broken on weary knees.

Oh, God, you are our strength. You are our hope. You are the resurrection. You are the life.

So, yes, forgive us for the ways we doubt you.

We lay ourselves down.

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?

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

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.

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

cartwheels on the sand

When she said she saw herself doing cartwheels on the sand, I knew I’d never get that image out of my head. It is too good, too beautiful, too full of His glory to ever, ever forget.

cartwheels on the sand

I asked sisters what they could imagine . . .

I asked this group of women, all gathered around, what they could imagine if they could let themselves believe, with full hearts, freedom is real: freedom has been given them, freedom has been handed to them, personally.

Because Jesus held their face in His hands, His heart melting from the beauty of His girl, and whispered. . . you were worth it.

(Oh, girl, His suffering, His rising, His choosing you as His bride . . . because you were worth it.)

And I’d do it all again, you know.

I’d do it all again.

For you.

But do you believe it? Do you live out believing–for real–you are free?

And then she said something that made my heart leap: I don’t even know how to do a cartwheel. And when I am with Him, and I am quiet, and I ask Him to help me imagine freedom, He shows me this: I am there with Him, on sandy beach, beauty stretched out far beyond what I can see, blue waves crashing against timeless shore, and I am doing cartwheels. With Jesus. I am doing cartwheels with Jesus on the sand.

Of course you are. Yes, of course, you are doing cartwheels with Jesus on the sand.

In Paul’s words in Galatians, we are reminded how freedom has come through Christ and His sacrifice. Freedom comes through a heart surrendered to Christ, not a mind set on following rules prescribed by this world. And if you love Christ, you are already set free. You are free right now, this moment, my sister.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free;

But we must choose. We must choose His freedom. We must choose to have our heart set on Christ. A heart set on anything else but Christ is not free.

therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1).

I’ve said this before: I am with you now, but living this life purely, resolutely, does take effort. It takes commitment and focus and resolve to stand fast with Me. It takes a heart stripped away of all burdens, all distractions. Everything in this world attempts to distract you from Me. But I give you what you need so you can do the things I’ve prepared for you to do. But you have to believe Me. And you have to live believing Me, with every action you take.

So I wonder what I am pursuing. I wonder what I am chasing . . . if what I’m chasing isn’t Christ, if what I am chasing isn’t freedom.

Freedom might not look, for you, like cartwheels on the sand. But I promise you this: what He whispers to your heart, about freedom, about being with Him, about surrendering everything–everything–that gets in the way of you being with Him, just Him . . . is going to make everything in you want to leap and cry and sing. All at at the same time.

And that’s a good thing, sister.

And it sounds to me a lot like being in a place of His beauty, doing cartwheels.

Together, let’s pursue His good thing.

Be intentional, my love, about the choices you make. You are designed to make choices alongside Me, with my guidance, so you are never alone. But the times you do feel alone are opportunities to probe your heart, considering what drives it, what consumes it, what drains it. You are meant to have a pure heart, and anything in it distracting you from living purely, with intention and good purpose toward my good plans for you, needs to be laid down. Give Me your heart again, my love. Don’t wrestle with that burden on your own.

So ask for more faith, and I will give it. So ask for more courage, and you will feel Me close. But that isn’t enough. Try it out now, the faith and courage I give you. Try out the presence of Me within you being enough for you, and do the things I’ve created you to do. I will purify your heart. I will keep you and strengthen you and carry you. But you won’t know I’m doing this unless you take some risks, trusting Me more than anything, anything, else. (Excerpt from Loop, “Choices”.)

So grateful for you here,

Jennifersignaturescript

 

Can you imagine His freedom for you? How can I pray? 

 

this post isn’t just about sex:: a giveaway

No Shame in Longings -Moody

It’s been a while since I’ve written about sex here. Although it’s woven into my story, a threaded needle I used as a weapon to hurt boys who should have stayed just friends.  Six years ago, when I  finally began to pursue God with my whole heart, He showed me, bit by bit, how many lies I had been believing about sex. I had used it as control, I had used it as a weapon. I had used it to gain attention. I had used it replace a low self-esteem. The biggest lie I let myself believe was that sex with these boys didn’t mean anything. I didn’t yet know that sex is not just a physical act; it’s a soul connection, too.

God wants our whole heart, and when I had sex outside of marriage, my soul was connected to each person I had sex with. It wasn’t just a physical thing; it was a soul thing, too:

There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body (1 Corinthians 16-20, MSG).

Just two years ago, more than twenty years after being in sexual relationships before marriage, I prayed and broke the soul ties I had with the boys with whom I’d had sex.  My sexual activity before marriage was affecting the intimacy God was inviting me to share with my husband when we became married. It has been a long road of healing for me around sex: for much of our seventeen years of marriage, sexual desire prompted me to feel shame.

Not Separate- Moody

The thing is, it doesn’t take a past like mine to get women to feel confused and frustrated around the idea of sexual intimacy. It’s difficult to even talk about, face to face. With all the Christian friends I’ve had over the years, there are only a very small handful with whom I’ve opened up, and whom have been open with me–over kitchen counters with mugs of coffee, over walks through trees with muddy shoes slipping on wet trails. The topic of sex is usually a silent one. We reason we don’t like talking about sex, I think, is less that the topic itself is embarrassing, but more because we struggle talking about desire.

101-  The church has majored on playing defense on the topic of sex. In an effort to keep teens chaste, women modest, and men monogamous, the primary message coming out of the church is DON’T: don’t look, don’t touch, don’t think or feel sexually. This has resulted in Christian women who are confused about whether sexual pleasure is really okay (Pulling back the Shades, 101).

We are made to have desires–desires for God, desires to be loved, desires to be fed, physically and spiritually, through sex within marriage. And when we feel shame around sex, or we feel our desire for sex is not being met, women may be tempted to satisfy that desire in other ways. And this is why Dannah Gresh and Dr. Juli Slattery have written a book on this topic–because they found women were turning to erotica to satisfy deeper unmet needs. For books selling to women, erotica is the fastest selling genre. Specifically, the erotic novel series,  50 Shades of Grey, sold 70 million copies in its very first year.

Their new book, Pulling back the Shades, is a reaction to the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, but it is also much more:

Not only do we want to pull back the shades of Grey for you to see God’s truth about what it and other books like it can do in your life, but we also want to pull back the shades on your own sex life. This book is not meant to be merely a reaction to Fifty Shades of Grey. Ultimately it is about YOU—your longings, your questions, and your wholeness as a spiritual and sexual woman. We hope to offer you something you deeply need (Pulling Back the Shades, 13).

 

And, friends, I think we do need a book like this. We need women coming alongside us, listening to our questions, bringing light to our confusion about sexual desire–our bodies and our hearts. Here are some awesome quotes from the book, to get you thinking:

Erotica strategically and masterfully pulls you in by exploiting what your heart secretly longs for.  Your longing is legitimate. We just believe there are ways to get what you are looking for without compromising God’s standards (Pulling Back the Shades, 18).

Women love a great romantic escape, but be careful how you escape, because some fiction or online relationships promise to satisfy, but in the end they lead to more dissatisfaction. We have met with women who started reading erotica to awaken their sex lives with their husbands, but it actually caused them to be less satisfied in their marriage bed than ever. Single women have told us they used porn as a “sexual outlet until marriage” but it suffocated their desire to pursue a relationship at all. And we have counseled hearts wounded deeply by online relationships gone bad. What seemed innocent to them ended up being harmful (30).

We’ve got news for you: God is not about just playing defense on the topic of sex. His message doesn’t just include a big, fat NO. He created sex and He is all for it! In fact, God is for great, pleasurable, and frequent sex within the context of marriage. . . God knows you are a sexual being. He made you that way (101-104).

The bottom line is this: sex is sacred and deserves incredible honor. We cannot afford to speak of it in hushed tones, but must walk in full freedom regarding this beautiful gift from God. If we can do that well—as difficult as it may be—we will not only prepare the way for sexual fulfillment, but the world will see the love of God in the mystery of marriage (114).

This book is not ultimately about Fifty Shades of Grey or even about erotica. This book is about the spiritual battle for the hearts and souls of women. Our prayer is not just that you throw out the junk that enslaves you to the world’s thinking but that you join a call for revival among God’s women (147).

Does this book sound like one you’d like to read? I love the site Authentic Intimacy, which has a team of awesome Christian women focusing on these two things: encouraging women in their intimacy in marriage and their intimacy with God.  It’s a safe environment to come forward with your honest questions around intimacy.

Can I be Spiritual & Sexual-

I wanted to let you know about Authentic Intimacy and all the good they are doing there–so go on over there and check it out. And also, let me know if you’d like a free copy of Gresh and Slattery’s amazing book, Pulling Back the Shades. Authentic Intimacy is giving away 5 copies to You are My Girls readers. Just leave a comment before this Friday March 14, at 9pm (PST), and I’ll enter you in the giveaway!

Want to read some more posts I’ve written about marriage and intimacy? Try these:

marriage bed

crumbling sand

when getting intimate is hard to do

Love that you’re here.

Gratefully,

Jennifersignaturescript

 

when you’re waiting on God’s plan for you

We bow our heads in prayer, the eight of us. We are women who’ve known each other for years now. And we’ll tell you we’ve been seeking God a lot longer.

We’ve spent weeks sharing with each other our stories. We’ve bent low, weary, as details from the past are said aloud for the first time. We want to see where He is now, so we look back to where He’s been.

It’s not easy.

God's plans

Even in the looking back it can be hard to see Him. We want to see Him. But our hearts . . . well . . . our hearts struggle going back. To the time when our parents split up and we felt we weren’t wanted. To the time when our dad got sick and we felt we needed to keep it all together. To the time when we made ourselves believe our choices, away from God, lead to condemnation and punishment.

We can read about God, we can talk together about God, we can go to church and listen to worship songs and lift up our hands and not know Him one bit. Not at all. Because knowing God is not about knowing His plan. We complicate things with our desire to have everything figured out, especially the things that are futile to try to know, the things we are never designed to fully understand.

But we can’t help but ask Him anyway: God, what’s the plan? I hear you have a plan for me that will make all this heartache worth it–that will help me decide my next steps? Can I get a peek at it? Can you whisper to me what’s ahead?

Do you ever beg for God’s plan for your life, and it feels like you get no answer?

Maybe we’re asking God the wrong question.

God's plans pin2

It is a false comfort we seek when we believe joy and peace come in having control over the unknowns in our lives. But still we ask, and we make plans ourselves when it feels like He doesn’t say a thing.

It’s the same reason we fear slowing down and listening to God and trusting in His healing. It’s the same reason we want to take matters into our own hands and write our story ourselves, have control of the details. God may have a plan for us, we say, but it feels vague, which makes us uncomfortable. We soon give up on God, give up on listening, and plunge right into making up our own plans, by ourselves.

‘Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all’ (Luke 18:17).

I tell Justin, my husband, I want to be a person who thinks simply. I want to be fine with not knowing the details of what’s ahead–not knowing the intricacies of God’s plan for my life. If God bent close, his loving eyes looking at me and whispering soft, his hand stretched out, holding a map, saying, “Here you go, here is the plan for your life, here is where I hope you’re going, here is where I hope you’ll be in ten years, in fifteen, in twenty. . .” I think I would hyperventilate from the weight of the responsibility. I don’t want to know. It’s too much for me to know all the details of God’s beautiful plans for me, as He looks at me in my fullness. It’s too much for this simple head of mine to try to carry around the weight of His plans.

For I would try to carry them.

God’s plans for us are too good for us to imagine and comprehend. They are too glorious. . . and I wonder if we would surely twist their goodness and feel pressure to try to not disappoint Him if we knew more than what we are supposed to know. I wonder if we would strive to live up to the plans He has for us rather than rest in knowing He’s got our lives completely under control.

So, shall we try this? Shall we focus on our God rather than worry about all we don’t know? Shall we linger in His presence rather than talking about chasing Him down? Shall we praise Him for not telling us the details rather than worrying out the plans of our lives ourselves? Shall we rejoice that we get to live a life where it is simply about being with Him?

The details of His good plans for us–and all the awesome adventure with Him–will follow.

God's plans 2

‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts’ (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9).

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

And here is an excerpt from what He said in Loop, “Do You Wonder About the Plan”:

What if I told you the plan I have for you is not for you to worry about? What if I told you there is only a small part you can understand of all the things I know and the things I want you to know and the things you just don’t need to be concerned with?

Here is my plan: I have good for you. It is my desire that you know Me, that you love Me, that you follow Me, that you serve Me. It is my plan, it is my desire, that you want to be with Me, that you want to talk with Me, that you stay here, in this moment with Me, and concern yourself with knowing Me now, this moment, and not considering all the details about the future that I know and you don’t.

What do you want to know? What do you want to know that you think I am holding out on you?

Here is what you need to know: I love you, and I never forget you. Your life is my preoccupation. You are part of my plan for this world, which I love and which I desire to heal and bring to life and have know Me. I don’t want this world to miss out on what I’ve always had for it, as I hold out my hand . . . as I hold out my hand.

 There is more to talk about on this topic for sure. But let’s pause here.  Do you struggle with wanting to know God’s plan for your life? How can I pray?

Much love to you, sister,

Jennifersignaturescript

so, if we can’t fix ourselves . . . (#loveidol)

fixing ourselves

There is a movement starting, a movement by daughters desiring to see. We want to see, with clear eyes, the face of our Father. You are made,  friend. Remember, you are made.

Anything we do to prove our worth–worth previously bestowed to us by God–is in vain. The gift of being loved, of being created by the God who loves us, does not need to be bestowed again. But sometimes . . . too often. . . we feel we need to prove our worth ourselves.

We find ourselves believing a mistake was made when we were created, a problem in ourselves we need to fix. Or else, why would that abuse had happened? Why would my parents have split up? Why would my mom have died? Why would I have married someone I’m not sure I even love?

Do you see h0w God wants our hearts now, this moment, despite what happened twenty years ago, despite what happened yesterday? Do you know that we are not the remedy of our own brokenness? We are not the key to ourselves being fixed?

When bad stuff happens to us in the past, it is easy to see the future as a carrot we want to grasp. It is going to be better, then. It is going to be better when. . . And we think it is up to us to do the fixing of our own brokenness, even though we know, deep down, this isn’t how it works.

Now sister, listen.

Whatever happened in the past, while shaping us and affecting each choice we make this very day, is not what decides who we are. Our Father decides who we are. Our God who made us speaks the truth of who we are. Our present relationship with Him, how we think of Him, right now, this moment, determines whether we reach for Him or whether we reach for something or someone else to fill our aching desire to be redeemed and loved.

You, my friend, are made to be filled up by the love of God. Anything we do to try to replace His love and fix ourselves–by earning, by striving or food or sex or things–is never going to work.

I know. I have been guilty of loving idols rather than loving God, again and again and again.

So I am a sister joining the movement– the heart cry of Jennifer Dukes Lee, in her book, Love Idol: Letting Go of your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself in God’s Eyes. Because I am tired of running and proving and second-guessing my worth, I am going to spend this Lenten season slowing–doing something I never allow myself to do because I love doing it but I feel I haven’t earned enough credit to be given permission to do it: slow, walk, read.

For these forty or so days of Lent I want to lean back into the arms of my Father and rest there. I want to stay there. And I want to read stories that captivate my imagination and give me glimpses into the heart of God. I want to take walks in sunshine and listen for His voice and not worry as much about whether or not I’ve earned the permission to do these things. While I will continue to write and do the things He has created me to do, I am going to lay down the idol of proving my worth through productivity. And I’m going to pick up His invitation to rest and enjoy Him in the way He’s made me to.

He’s right here. He’s not a God I need to attain. But I miss Him when I think the act of pursuing Him, in my own strength, is how I find Him. He is right here.

So I slow.

He is right here.

How are you clinging to God this Lenten season? What idol might you need to lay down? How are you hoping to fix yourself? How can I pray?

Come on over and check out Jennifer Dukes Lee’s cool page about Love Idol, which releases April 1. You can preorder  it now. All this goodness just makes me smile. Love Idol

Sharing with #TellHisStory.

 

when you think you can’t hear God

As a teenager I used to write poems. Full of melodrama and hyperbole, spaghetti-looped words aimed to communicate a heart that couldn’t name its own feelings. I would scrawl them out all the same. It felt better to try to communicate my crazy, mixed up heart than to stay silent. It felt better to reach out and tell someone I was struggling or I was sad or I was angry, even if they didn’t have the solution, even if I didn’t know the reason for the feelings in the first place.

hearing God light

Sometimes we don’t know why we feel the way we do–why the walls feel like they’re crowding in, why we just can’t feel joy-filled, or grateful or peace-filled, despite all those how-to books we grasp from the stack towering at our bedside.

We ache to be fixed. We ache to be different. We ache to know why we feel the way we do and how the heck to get ourselves all figured out.

I’ve been putting down the how-to books lately and picking up worlds of story that bring me hope and raise my eyes to Jesus. I read stories in His word, yes, but I’ve also been reading fiction. I hear the Father pulling me away from striving and nudging me toward His rest. So I’ve been getting myself outside and taking walks and noticing what makes my heart come alive, what helps me see Jesus, what helps me stay present with Him.

There is a rhythm of life He sets for us, a gentle, steady pace so much better than the hurried one we might design for ourselves.

Walk slowly and steadily, daughter. I’ll let you know when the pace needs to be fast. Sometimes it does. Sometimes I move quickly with you. But it’s a pace that’s never hurried. It’s okay to slow, for in the quiet you can hear Me more clearly. And then when you’ve spent time with Me there, and you know my voice there, you’ll hear my voice in the rhythm of work, in the rhythm of serving. You can’t do these things with Me without believing you hear Me.

Hearing the Father’s whisper in my heart–grasping the hand of my Savior and walking, running, skipping, dancing, swimming, climbing, resting, laughing–comes when I choose my own open-hearted freedom, doing the things I love to do.

In everything you do, you can listen for Me. It’s not that I speak to you constantly, in words; but I am with you constantly. And my presence is the language of your heart you’re created to hear.

hearing God clouds

What you are made to love to do, my friend–whether it is cooking or painting or encouraging or teaching or organizing–is the gift of the Father to you so that you might bring Him glory, in the particular way you are designed to do it. And when you do the thing you are uniquely designed to do, in the unique way only you–only you–can do it–you are in the presence of your Father. For you can’t do the things you are made to do–and also love and bless another person–unless you are doing that thing you love while in the presence of God.

‘Cause that’s when you’re hearing Him. And that’s when you’re feeling Him. And that’s when you’re walking with Him.

You hear God best when you live out the identity He’s given you to live.

Training yourself to notice how I’m with you is not for the purpose of following a rule. You are able to get through a day without Me—but not well. Just not very well. We are made to be together, the two of us. I’m never alone, and you’re not made to be alone. Let’s go together, shall we? Do you see how I hold out my hand?

Practicing seeing where I am is responding to my life in you. It’s not turning Me away. It’s realizing, a bit more, the fullness of who you are.

hearing God sky

When you feel unsettled, when you feel restless and lost and alone . . . consider a thing you do that, when you do it, you feel a little lighter, a little more awake, a little more filled with contentment and joy.  That thing that brings you joy is one of the ways God uses to talk to you, connect with you, be with you. He designed you the way He did on purpose.

So do it.

He wants you to do what He has made you to love. Do that thing. Then you can love Him in the way only you know how.

You see, I see you. I see the real you, the daughter in all her fullness, in all her completeness. I know where you’re going. I know where you’ve been. I am with you now, seeing you here and seeing the full beauty of my glory in you. You are made for so much more than you will ever know—unless you trust Me more than yourself, unless you live knowing I am for you, with you, in all things.

Don’t worry about what it looks like exactly, to spend time with Me. Don’t try to figure out the right way to listen, the right way to heed my voice. Start with knowing I am with you. Let yourself relax and lean back into my arms. See my face. Hear the beat of my heart.

I am with you.

I am with you.

Enter each moment anticipating how you can be with Me.  

And then, my voice? You’ll be living out each word to you I say.

*Excerpt in italics from Loop, “You Can Hear Me”.

Do you know how you best hear God’s voice speaking to your heart? Have you explored what it might be?

 

 

 

when light falls

when light falls

We hear whisper towards home, towards connection, towards open arms and gentle place to rest our weary heads. When we lay down at night we consider our day or try to forget it. We reflect on the beauty, the surprises, the ways we fell flat on our face.

We cry, some days, our heart aching.  Bright sunlight falls cold; clouds cover light. Warmth? Where? How to be drawn close? How can golden light fall?

We shout loud for light. We sing hard for hope.

We fear darkness uncovered still allows in no light. No hope. No choices. Only a dead end. Despair.

Oh, may we ever feel the sun again.

But yes, Father, You are light. You pull us in—towards beginning, towards healing, towards promises of future, towards rewriting the story of our past.

We choose. We choose You. On the longest days, the darkest days, the days of shadows and regret and frustration and isolation.

You come. You come again.

And You rescue us. Here. Now. Again and again and again.

Hold us tight now. Let us love You and hope for You and choose You and see You.

Oh, how You love us! Give us a greater glimpse of this love that is too great for us to imagine!

And here, here, let this be a place, Father, where we come together, reaching for You, breathing deep Your open-space love that never ends.

Draw us in. Draw us close.

We, your daughters, come.

Praying you have the most beautiful, glorious, light-filled weekend, my friends.

breathe

The boys goof off in their bedroom, throwing clothes at each other and not getting dressed. Their room is a mess already. Books stack high on the floor where I emptied their bookcase yesterday and started priming the shelves right in the middle of their room. I take a few steps toward the hallway, warning them that if I have to go in there to ask them to stop, I’ll have to stop making lunches, and Jackson will likely be late for school.

Oh, yeah. I have to walk in there.  Clothes are flying; the boys are ducking and scooping up rumpled t-shirts tumbling from open lockers and I barely manage to not trip over the heaps of books near the door.

It’s Monday.

Breathe.

clothes messy room

books on floor

bookcase

I kick one of the boys out of the bedroom so, hopefully, the two will actually get dressed and manage to wear normal clothes and not pajamas to school. (Although, with this California weather these days, the boys’ regular uniform of a favorite t-shirt and longish athletic shorts makes what they wear to bed look not so different. I’m close to complete surrender: agreeing that wearing shorts twelve months a year, no matter what kind of weather outside, is perfectly fine. . . But boys, really . . . you’ve got to get out out of your pajamas.)

Abby flits about the kitchen in white cotton nightgown and wild tangled hair while I tighten the sash of the chamois L.L.Bean robe I’ve had since college and assemble sandwiches for lunches. Our dog, Fulton, is actually giving me space so I’m not completely tripping over him, like usual, which is awesome. I throw fruit leathers and yogurts into the lunch bags, zip them up and bolt to my bedroom. I have exactly two minutes to get out the door.

lace

No time for makeup or hair drying. I’ll have to grab my makeup bag and attempt to look presentable later, if I can. I have a doctor’s appointment after school drop-off and it’s a few towns away and I was nervous I’d forget. We’ve got to go.

Breathe.

My mom had breast cancer right after I got married. She is fine and cancer free now, but my doctor is pushing me to get an ultrasound, in addition to the mammogram I already had, due to my family history. I sit in the medical office parking lot on the second floor and watch pink blossoms reach high from branches from the tree below. I am calm and I am fine, but there is something in me, wondering, wondering, if this will be the day I find out there’s actually something wrong.

Do I want something to be wrong? Why do I assume one of these times I will hear bad news?

Breathe.

The sun shines bright and beautiful outside and I sit there, in my car, forty-five minutes early for the appointment. (And for those of you who know me well . . . you know me being early is not the most normal thing.) I try to call my mom, but I don’t get her, and then I start checking email on my phone, and then I find I can’t answer a single one. I am restless–for I am not made for worry, for anxious thoughts, for flying and dashing and hurrying and striving. I miss my Father. Oh, this regular, ordinary Monday.

Breathe.

My daughter, listening to Me is a practice I want to teach you. So, first, take a deep breath. And again. Slow down now. Wait a bit, for Me. For I am here. Trust that I am here. As you listen to the sound of your breath, as you feel your lungs expand—the air pushing through, your chest rising and falling—think about inhaling Me, breathing Me in. I am as close as your breath. I have created you so I am in you, part of you. I am the natural rhythm of your breathing.

I am what you are desperate for. You are not alive without Me. Your soul does not breathe without Me. I am fresh air in tired lungs that live to expand and take in this fresh air I offer.

Oh, daughter, breathe Me in. All the way now. Breathe Me in.

I dare not take this life for granted: this moment stretching out, this light carried forth, this air filling my lungs. God’s breath in me is what I breathe. My very lungs move, inhaling and exhaling–so automatically, so miraculously–because His breath fills me. I cannot breathe, I cannot see, I cannot live without God’s breath in me. Father forgive me: I forget. I so often forget.

Breathe.

The results are fine. The doctor tells me right there she doesn’t see anything suspicious, and I am relieved. But there will be a day, perhaps, when the news will not be so great. I’ll hear it on the phone or in a doctor’s office or in the words of a friend as she shares with me what she is going through that feels not, at all, okay.

And what can we do, sisters? What can we do when we struggle and we fear and we don’t even want to lift our legs out of bed? What can we do when we feel alone and overwhelmed and sad . . . so very sad?

Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

i love you canvas

Breathe, my sister, breathe. Know this Father of yours, who created you, has not left you alone, all alone, without hope or help. He has given you breath and He gives you breath again. Your lungs rise and fall with His touch, His very breath in you, His very love allowing you to keep going, press deeper, and stand.

You’re not alone. What you’re going through is not too much for you. What you’re facing is what your Father longs to carry. You are made to breathe Him in, my friend, and you will be sustained. Breathe deeply of His love. Breathe deeply of His hope. Breathe deeply and think of Him and reach for Him and hear His voice sing loud. Oh, sister, He sings with joy and hope over you. He dances with wild emotion over you. This day is not too much for you. Your Father who sustains you, who gives you breath, comes for you and lifts you from this place and you will see Him and be restored.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy (Zephaniah 3:17).

Breathe, now, sister. Breathe Him in and be restored. You are held and you are loved.

Breathe.

I love you close up

Can you hear Him speak to you, now?

There is no magic formula for listening to Me well. There is no complicated list of suggestions to follow. I have no check list. I have no program to offer you. But I have myself to give you—to give you again and again. And when I give you myself I give you all of myself. I don’t hold myself back from you. I do not set myself apart. I want no separation from you. I give you all of Me for I want all of you.

So breathe, my child. Breathe Me in. All of Me. Think about how much you need Me . . . And my love for you will pour out, and you will know Me more, and my goodness will flood your heart. Then, you will know, even more, whose you are and who you love and how good it is to breathe air. Air that is pure, air that is fresh, air that sustains.

On this day, my friend, what is stirring? How do your tired lungs need God’s fresh air? How can I pray?

*Excerpts are from Loop: “What You Might Take for Granted”. Subscribe to receive twice-a-week notes of encouragement, just for you.

Linking with sisters at Soli Deo Gloria.

so, that story of yours . . . do you wish it were different?

God has His eyes upon your story. He’s created you, the protagonist, and He’s invested. He knows the layers of complications in each scene you live, the characters weaving in and out, the arc of conflict, the way you make choices to make your story what it is.

Do you want a different story? Do you see the beauty of the one you are in?

your story

My husband and I, as we waited for our son to arrive home from the airport last night (he had been in Washington D.C. for a week with his school, and we missed him terribly), stayed up late watching the movie, About Time. The main character, Tim, learns he has inherited the gift of time travel. In the movie trailer it asks, ”What if you could relive every moment in your life until it was perfect?” Tim begins experimenting with reliving events, popping in and out of his own life, in the past, to make tweaks, improvements on the moments he wishes he had done a little bit better.

Would you do this–go back in time, if you could, to change decisions you’d made, adjust actions you’ve always regretted? It’s an interesting idea, and one I admit I’ve thought about a lot, with the mistakes I’ve made in the past.

I remember that day, not too long ago, when a new wave of regret washed over me about the abortion I had at sixteen years old. I had previously, over the years, experienced horror, as I realized, a bit more, what I had done, decades ago. I had experienced sorrow and despair. I had experienced anguish and frustration. But I was surprised when a new emotion overwhelmed me one day: anger. I stood one morning in my bedroom and yelled, heart beating fast and sobbing, to God,

“I want to rewrite it all! I want a different story! Why did I get the one I had?”

your story 2

I had just heard the story of a friend who had a story that started off a lot like mine but turned out the complete opposite. At sixteen she had been steadfast in her intention to get an abortion when, at the appointment, she found she didn’t have the money she needed. She called her sister, in desperation, for help in paying for it. Her mom, a new believer, heard the phone call and jumped on the phone, talking her out of it, saving the life of her grandchild and own child.

When I heard my friend’s story I was struck by the beauty of it all. The rescue. The redemption. God swooping in and saving the day. But soon came the anger, which caught be completely off guard. Why her, God, and not me? Why did she get that story and I got the one I had? Why didn’t You come rescue–for the sake of my child, for the sake of me? Why did you save her child and not mine? Why did no one intervene?

I take full responsibility for the choice I made. I own it. And I know that if someone had intervened, with the heart I had then, it would have been unlikely that I could have been convinced to do anything differently. You see, I was convinced that the life of looking like everything was perfect was more important than the life of vulnerability– where you asked for help, showed people your flaws, revealed how you are desperate for change. As a teenager, I believed the lie that looking perfect was the ultimate goal. I thought I might be worthy of love then.

It’s a lie I have had, repeatedly, to lay down.

My heart raged at God, jealous of another person’s story, envying her’s, wishing some one had rescued my child. Wishing I had had a softer heart. Wishing I been more humble. Wishing I had asked for help. Wishing I had desired to fight for the life of my baby.

Even though your story is different than mine, I wonder if you, reading here, have ever wanted a different story, too?

In the movie, Tim goes back to his story and tweaks a few things. But then a couple of times he messes up things completely–changes the course of history in a way he never intended– when he tries to fix things he wish had never happened.

Our actions have consequences we may not appreciate. There are consequences when we fail to love, fail to surrender, fail to trust, fail to lay down our life for the sake of another’s. And because of the grace of God, the sacrifice of Jesus, God shows us the choices we’ve made and how He loves us still.

He loves us still. Even though we don’t deserve it. Even though we can’t go back and fix things. Even though we have lived lives of pain and death and destruction. God sees our story and doesn’t turn away.

God’s version of rewriting the story is showing us where He was during the whole thing. He doesn’t change the events we’ve already lived, but He lets us choose now, His  crazy, full-on love. He does not force us towards love. Rather, He guides us and He stays with us and He loves us through the hard things of our past, never turning away or leaving our side.

You see, God had rewritten for me the details of the scene when I made the choice to do what I did, end the life of my child. While I made the horrid choice to have the abortion–and, as much as I wish I wasn’t that girl in the orchard who believed her pride was worth preserving rather anything else–I now, after a long battle with God for my heart, I trust God’s good plan, always, for my life.  He has taken me back to that December night under the bare branches of the almond tree, and He has shown where He is, now, in that moment then.

In the movie, Tim stops time traveling. He chooses to stop trying to fix the past. He chooses, instead, to focus on the present. He chooses to ”Try to live every day as if it was the final day of my ordinary, extraordinary, ordinary  life.” To focus on God in our present opens us to His healing us from our wounds from the past. Likewise, this healing of our past is what ushers in more joy of God in the present. 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Oh, your story, my love. . . Do you see it written out? Do you see my fingerprints upon the page? I love looking at it, all the good that has happened, all the places in you where I want to bring hope, all the places in you that still need healing, still need freedom. There are places in you where you still need to see where I was, how I loved you in each place of heartache, disappointment, and pain.

So, let me show you the story of your life through my eyes. I have some new things to show you, some rises and falls you have not yet seen. And it’s good. I will show you the places where I come, with my presence and my hope and my love, to make it good. 

Does this sound good? Let’s look, together, at your story.

What about you, friend? Do you need God to show you what He sees when He looks at your story–past and present?

Subscribe to Loop to read more letters of love, like the excerpt above, sent straight to you.

{The three winners of the iTunes gift card? Ursula, dejavu2blue (from an email comment), and Rebecca! Yay! Thanks for all who entered the giveaway}

with abundance and laughter and joy, freedom is for you (what I learned at a women’s retreat)

We sit in clusters, sixty women tucked in a log house on a hill in the middle of a Colorado snow storm. Snow presses up to ceiling-tall windows, glistening. Everything outside–the mountains, the distant pine trees standing sentry–washed with sparkling, quiet white. Sunny, the golden retriever who lives here, flies by the window, a reddish blur of fur every few moments, doing laps in white spray. Bounding, bounding.

She makes me smile.

Yes, yes, this is for me; this is for you. We are made to leap and live free, washed with white, transformed, brand new. But how do we get there? How do we live uninhibited, joyful, carefree?
snow 1.jpg Linda, who drove hours to be with us and share what she hears when she pursues and listens to God’s heart, does not hold back when she talks. She knows what it means to live trapped. She knows what is means to believe she is doing all the right things while nothing feels or turns out right. She knows what it means to be hungry, desire newness, crave redemption, risk falling so she can live in fullness that can’t be compared to any one thing.

That’s you, too, right? Are you hungry? Are you tired? Are you craving a new life?

snow 2.jpg

I watch the snow through the window behind her when she speaks: it’s beauty, how it’s so clean. But Linda’s voice captivates me, and I turn. She smiles and reaches her arms far, her square glasses framing eyes sparkling blue, brighter than the sky, brighter than the twinkle of ice crusted on each window sill. She knows who she is. She knows the sound of her Father’s voice. And she has come to tell us about Him, and how we miss connection with Him–and walk on too dangerous ground–when we align ourselves with things far, far away, from Him. These are things that can seem so good but might actually open up entry points to the enemy getting in.

How am I vulnerable to not trusting God? How do I choose my own way rather than His?snow 3.jpg

Ang, leading the four day retreat, demonstrates, with her hands spread out, head thrown back, fingers wide, eyes up, back arched, what it looks like to live fully abandoned, fully present, fully awake and on.

Yes.

And what it looks like to live life filled with striving, fear, shame: head bent low, arms hugging torso, back curled forward, eyes down. Oh, no. No. Let’s not do this.

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We have a choice. Stay here, in shame, in darkness, in self-pity, in self-protection and false safety and hiding. Or here, risking community, seeking His voice, asking Him in to heal, going for help, laying down the idols we believe in more than our God.

You don’t have to do this alone. You are not made to do this alone.snow 5.jpg

Stand up now. Lift your feet. Straighten your back, lift up your head and then raise your eyes. Look up. Look up, into the eyes of your Savior. Yes, open your eyes; keep your chin raised to heaven; spread your arms. Spread them wide, fingers outstretched. Is this you? Can we do this? Can I do this with you?

I know this feels so . . . exposed. I know being so vulnerable and open is difficult, uncomfortable. It’s hard to not want to protect ourselves from this world. We have been wounded so much. Life has been hard.

Yes, He knows. He knows. And, I promise, He promises, He is not going to leave you here, here where the pain overwhelms, here where the memories are pressed down deep, in a place that feels safer than the thought of dealing with them, bringing them to the light. That would be dangerous. That would be painful. That would take a lot of work.

Yes. Yes, it will hurt. But . . . it will be good. I promise.

I watched Ang,the beautiful organizer of this whole retreat, spread her arms out like this, head back, a dozen times this last weekend. And what it represented–the freedom and complete joy and abandonment of self and focus on Jesus and fullness of heaven in me–is what I want. Everything in me screams yes, yes, yes!

Yes, I want this. I want to live a life holding nothing back.
snow collage.jpgDuring the break I listen, desperate for His voice, the only navigation for my life that is true and sound and good. And I hear Him. I ask Him, what do you have to say to us, Father? What do you have for your girls? And the tears pour fast (as usual) and I scrawl this down:

My daughter, I am holy. I make everything holy. You have nothing to fear. I am bigger than every thought, every ache, every fear. I stand before you in the gap, between your belief and unbelief. I stand before you—your God, your rescuer, your redeemer. I stand before you and you are not forgotten. You are held. Always.

If you want Me, if you want more of Me in your life, I will come. I will not hold back. If you want my love, if you desire more freedom and joy in your life, ask Me to come. Let Me come to the deep places, the dark places, the unknown places.

I know you. I know where in you I need to go. So trust Me. Trust Me. Let Me come. With Me I bring no fear. With Me I bring no sorrow. With Me I bring only hope and newness and life. I am life, for you, my love. With my love for you I bring life. I pursue you, and I will never let you go.

So, come. Come. Ask Me to come. Ask Me to enter in. You hear Me. I am close. So close. And I love you. You are the one I love.

And I believe Him. I believe Him. So I will go. And He will heal me. And He will make me new. And I will live fully awake and filled with His joy.

This white snow falling soft and quiet is beautiful. And I want to run through it. I want to bound through white and spin ’round and laugh, snowflakes dancing in my hair.

 How does it feel to stand up straight, head back, arms out, eyes turned up to God? How can I encourage you and pray for you? 

Also, if you want to get hugs of encouragement twice a week, just like His words above, make sure you check out Loop, by clicking this link right here.

This post is linked up with Jennifer Lee, #tellHisstory.

 

planning for the wedding

I can listen for God and not hear Him. I can say I am open. I can say I want to lay everything down at his feet. I can say I am desperate for his presence and his voice and his truth to go deeper into me.

Can you relate?

Isn’t this one of the reasons we gather? Don’t we need to practice being vulnerable and real–encouraging each other towards not trying so hard to be someone different than who God has already created  us to be?

I think we are starving.

We want to eat God’s truth. We want to consume the love that he is.

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For we are tired. And we ask him, desperate hearts crying out: How do we see you and be with you in this world that does everything it can to pull us away from you? How do we stay close to you? How do we be vulnerable and open and yet protect our hearts from what is not good?

How do we gather? How do we keep you as our focus? How do we live freely, knowing our identity, leaning into community, seeking adventure, in your arms?

Everything in our world pulls against true connection, pulls against time to slow and sit and listen and tell stories of hope, of loss, of pain, of regret, of joy. It is a world of going and doing and striving and getting ahead or just keeping up. It is a world of believing there is a “better us” just around the corner if we only work a little harder, look a little better. And this doesn’t mean just superficial things–how we look, but how we act, too. We are always striving to be a better version of ourselves.

But the version of us He sees, right now, right now, is the version of us He loves. Always.

And this is why we are chosen. And this is why he died. And this is why there is going to be a wedding.

He has proposed. He is the bridegroom asking us if we trust him, if we want to heed what he says more than the lies of this world.

So, you ask Me, how do I protect your heart? How do you live in this world, one of comparison and envy and slander and thievery? How do you protect yourself from comparison when that is the culture in which you live and the wedding is around the corner but not yet a date you can perceive? How do you await my coming again, my Son’s rescuing you again, in a world of tearing each other down and pain?

Oh, my dear, look to Me. The only way to protect yourself is to regularly look into my eyes, see Me looking at you, see Me desiring you, see Me writing your name upon my heart and feeling sorrow when you believe you are not good enough to be desired as much as her, or her, or him.

Look to Me, look to the choice of my Son, as He kept His gaze on Me. He practiced looking on Me, listening for Me, being away with Me. He removed himself from the world while remaining in it, too. It is possible for you, to remain close to Me and observe this world and be my daughter who desires to join Me in loving this world, while not being eaten up by the evil of it, too.

Practice coming away with Me. Practice looking for Me. Practice recognizing my voice. Practice looking at this world through my eyes and seeing yourself the way I see you, with a name, and a purpose and a mission and a beauty all your own. There is no one person, not one daughter of mine, like you. Come closer now. My arms are wide open.

We can do this. We need to practice listening and being still and trusting and then going . . . After all, there is going to be a wedding.

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).

What are your thoughts on how we might encourage one another to practice, together, being with God?

let’s ride, wind in our hair

“You have to confess it. You have to say the lie aloud. You have to throw it to the throne of Jesus. You have to reject it even if you still believe the lie.” My friend looks me straight in the eye, and I hold her gaze for a half second before staring at my mug, wishing I were small enough to hide under the table. Now what? I think she’s right.

I know I had better not stall.

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When you recognize a lie as a lie, even if you can’t imagine no longer believing the lie, throw it up to heaven.

Renounce it. Reject it.

I heard this message again the other day, on my metal folded chair in church, grasping paper coffee cup fast in my hand: Jesus knows the way out of hell. God’s plan, His desire, is to save us from hell, save us from separation from the Father. And God sent his Son to die and take on every single one of our sins so He could lead the way out. He is the way out for us, sisters. Jesus knows the way out. He knows the way out of whatever you are facing.

He can reveal to our hearts the lies we believe that separate us from the Father. He can reveal to our hearts the twisted truths we believe about ourselves. And here was mine: I don’t want you to like me for who I am. I want you to like me for what I do. And my fingers pause now, as I write this, the tears spilling out. For it is hard, isn’t it, to say the lie out loud? It is hard, isn’t it, to be vulnerable? It is hard, isn’t it, not to wonder, what will she think of me, now?

So I cling tight to Him, His love letter to His girls, reminding us about truth, the truth of us:

The truth of you cannot be articulated in just words. The truth of you is a name and not a name. The truth of you is more than a description of personality, a page of characteristics, a list of mannerisms and popular expressions.

There’s something you must remember: you must live your truth. You must live, with determination and might, your truth. You must know who you are designed to be . . . if you want freedom, if you want liberation from lies, if you want joy.

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So in the coffee shop chair, where I spend my Fridays, I push my ear buds into my ears so the guy in the armchair across from me doesn’t think it’s weird I don’t have a laptop in front of me and my hands are open and my eyes are closed and my head is down, my hair shielding half of my face. ‘Cause once my Father has pressed in and showed me glimpses of pain, glimpses of sorrow, glimpses of damage I cause when I believe lies about myself and about Him, I can’t wait one more second to renounce the lie causing the whole darn mess. Jesus knows the way out of hell, not me. And I cause a lot of mess when I have let myself be separated from God because I think I know better. . . I think I know the way out instead of Jesus.

So I say it right there in that coffee shop on that Friday afternoon, less than a hour before I need to jump in the car to pick up the kids from school. “Jesus, I confess I want to be liked for what I do. I confess I care more about what people think about what I do rather than who You think I am. I want You, Father, to love me for what I do! I confess I don’t want you to love me for who I am! I repent, and I reject this lie. I reject the lie that my value comes from doing rather than being. I reject the lie and I break the agreement I’ve made with the enemy that my value does not come from being a daughter of God. I give this lie to you, and cast it on the throne of Jesus.”

And I stayed there. It was too good to not stay, this daughter He made, at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus offered me his hand, and He took me where He always takes me, in the garden, by the river, through the path where the green grass tickles my legs and flowers perfume the air. I can feel the perfume now on my skin.

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We walk up, up the hill, the grass blades leaning over the path so I can’t see the ground, can’t see where my bare feet fall. I see Jesus ahead of me, His looking back at me, smiling. He knows I love this, this walking through beauty, with water rushing fast, to my left, and sunlight shining bright through arches of trees. He knows I will love where we are going.

He leads me to the top of the hill where the waterfall is thundering, and He knows I want to jump. I want to jump right in. The water isn’t cold and the sun is warm on my cheek. And I turn my face up, and I am in God’s house and I am with my King and I am safe and I doing what I am made to do and where I am made to be.

And then I am alone. I am in a meadow, my back pressed into the soft earth. I lay in the flowers, eyes closed, the sun a blanket on my skin. Then the earth trembles beneath me. The soft ground shakes. I must rise. In front of me runs a giant white steed. It is huge and powerful and beautiful. Its eyes flash, and it whinnies as it stops right before me, its hooves stomping into soft earth. I want to ride it. I want to jump on and go, even though I’ve only galloped on a horse once, in my whole life.

But I can’t.

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Suddenly I am not in the meadow but in a dark, shadowy place where there are walls and I am standing, cold, alone. My hair is tangled and my clothes are dirty and tattered. Shredded pieces of linen, a grungy robe, filthy and brown, hangs from my shoulders. I lower my head, hands open at my sides.

Then, there are hands lifting each piece of clothing off of me. They were so heavy. I had no idea how heavy each piece was, as it hung on my tired frame. I then feel hands around my ankles, and strong fingers unfastening shackles around my bare feet, shackles I had never seen, attached to chains I never knew I wore.

And I am in the meadow once more. I am wearing a long gown and my hair is loose and clean, the sun shining bright and the air perfumed with light as it falls like love upon blooming flowers. I am on the steed. And I am wearing armor now, and I have a sword in my hand. This. This is the daughter He sees. This is the daughter I am. This is the daughter He calls me to be, the one who is free because she is willing to fight. The one who is dirty and broken and vulnerable and alone when she strives to be what she wants to create herself to be. The one who is actually beautiful and true when she lets herself know freedom, when she lives out the truth of the identity her Father sees.

Come on, sisters. Let’s break these lies. Let’s ride, wind in our hair.

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lie girl story 2

You, my daughter, are made to be strong, with Me. You, my daughter, are made to do things I’ve prepared, just for you. You, my daughter, are made to go forward, not back. And to go forward, you must fight and break the agreements you’ve made with the enemy. You must know I have come to claim you, the daughter I made. You must know your life has been paid for. You must know you are free. 

And sometimes, with my truth in your heart, you must reject lies about who I am. You must do this. Don’t wait. Do it right now. This it what it means to fight—for freedom from lies. It is rejecting lies and surrendering to Me. It is fighting for your identity, the one the prince of this world wants to take from you.

So, when you are weary, when the world presses in, remember I am here with you. Know I am the warrior who never sleeps. Know I rescue and ask you to trust Me more than anything else. That is how you fight. That is how you know who you are. That is how you are set free.

Sister, how is He pulling you close now? Can you dare to let your heart imagine the wonder of you He has created?
How can I pray for you?

is it time for you to get going?

She prays for clarity about God’s plan, His will. She won’t go forward in her decision making, she says, until He makes it perfectly clear. The popular prayer is that God open or close a door. But I wonder if that is how God works. Yes, sometimes He shuts the door completely, so there is no way for us to go through. But more often, I think, He allows us to be the decision maker regarding whether we reach out our hands around that handle and open or shut the door to where He is. He is with us, on one side of the door or the other. But I wonder if we see where He is if we are too focused on the door itself, and not where Jesus is, with us, right now, and where He invites us to go with Him.

get going

Change is hard. Moving through a door takes risk. Staying in one place, not going through a door we want to go through, waiting with Jesus on one side of the door and not going through, is hard, too. I’ve never prayed for a closed or open door. I don’t pray for clarity much. Maybe I should do that more. My prayer, more often, is that I see where Jesus is, I see where I am in relation to Him, I see His face and the shape of His hands and what He sees and who He calls me to love. I care about doors less, I guess, than holding Jesus’ hand and being on the same side of the door as He is. A door is an opportunity, a yes or a no, an invitation to listen, no matter what side of the door you are on.

Maybe, as we pray for wisdom and guidance in our decision making, the choices we make about how to live our life, we do so by studying and waiting and then going. Going forward. Going forward and saying thank you for what He has given. Going forward and seeing who He has already created you to be, what you love, who He has put before you to love–and if that door will enable you to love these people in a way that allows you to lean on God with everything you are, surrendering your desires for His desires for you.

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I wonder if going through a door with Jesus is heading into that wide, open space where there are no doors–a gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) but always exciting and life-filling invitation to joy. What if we stop looking at doors so much except only as what might be the personal barriers we create for greater intimacy and life with Christ. A door is the worst door ever if it is one closed to Christ and His knocking.

A door is good for hearing Jesus knocking on the other side and for realizing, if we are hearing Jesus knocking, we are on the wrong side of the door. In that case, we better get that thing swung upon, pulled up, off its hinges as fast as we can. It’s no good being on the wrong side of the door, Jesus on one side and us on the other.

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Let’s stop praying the safe prayer for clarity and go and do something. Pray to hear His voice, pray to hold His hand, pray to walk more closely, pray to move completely in His step. Pray for boldness and our strength in Him. Pray for faith to take risks, not knowing what in the world is around the next bend but it’s okay because we aren’t stuck behind the door. We are through it, moving way past it, and Jesus is right there with us, and we can feel His breath steady and sure, even with the path getting bumpy and the steps uneven and long.

Go forward and pray. Wait on Jesus and pray. Look where He is and trust, if you can’t see Him, and you don’t know where He is, He is behind the door you haven’t yet opened. Or He is so close you can’t separate Him from yourself and you need to quiet down a bit and stop freaking out and listen more intently to His heartbeat, in sync with yours.

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I’m not sure how Jesus feels about doors, but I know that when He talks about them in the scriptures, He is talking about being on one side of the door and wondering why we are on the other side. He isn’t going to barge in, and that’s one of the things we like best about Him. But He is capable of coming on in, if we want Him to. And I don’t think we want to live the life being all polite and and passive all the time. Maybe praying for clarity is fine; looking to Jesus for our decisions is definitely the way to go. But let’s not pray the polite, do-nothing prayer for clarity if we have no intention of going through the door Jesus has open for us, all along.

Want to hear some more on the topic of waiting. . . and trusting . . . faith? Try these words, with scripture:

Don’t Waste this Life with Fear

Take a Step

Are you looking at a door right now? Where is Jesus? What move is He asking you to make? I love gathering here, with you, seeking His face, listening for His voice together,  friends.

Linking with sisters at Jen’s place.

family come home

I wonder how much I should think about this, the way angels surround His throne, the way song is speech and individual longing is forgotten. All is realized. All has come.

I can sit in my house, light blanketing the family room, and not be here, not really.

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I am here and I am in a deeper place. I am here, kitchen sink still waiting to be emptied, dog waiting to be walked, and I am in my Father’s home, at His feet, hands reaching skyward, fingers extended long. My voice sings loud and it is beautiful and there is light everywhere and sisters and brothers surround me. I am in the middle of light, not looking on it, not looking at it, wishing I were deeper in.

I am in it.

I am circled up, radiant and full. I need not search for a thing. My yoke is light. I am weightless. I am with my Father and with my family and Home. I am Home.

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And you, sister, are here. You are here with me. I need not type words on a screen to reach you. I need not wish the pain would stop and the longing filled. I need not wish to tell you you are not alone, but held. I need not desire connection missing and sisters holding hands and not pretending to be strong. I need not be tempted to hide and look more beautiful and more productive and more perfect. I need not strive to keep up and run faster and do better.

I will be Home. We will be Home. And girl, I see you. I see you now. I see you there, as we stand, empty-handed and hearts raised. United. We are one here, at the throne.

Grace comes gentle and glory comes triumphant. I am in light, with you, and my heart takes me where it sees–beyond what these eyes of mine can ever, here, on earth perceive.

See with your heart, sister. See now, with the heart He has given you. Reach deep within  you and trust your longing for a friendship, a relationship for which everything in us yells out, with exuberance and hope, yes, yes!

We are made for this.

I remember walking in the garden, my arms around my beloveds, the sound of their feet as their soles touched the earth. I remember their voices, their laughter, how easy it was for them to walk side by side, share with Me their every thought. . .

You are meant to be with Me, my chosen one. You are meant to be with Me, walking in the garden. You are meant to be in community with Me. You are meant to be strong only in my presence . . . Let Me walk with you. Let Me be your friend.

And I see Him, and I see you, and I see us, all gathered around our Father, a family, the family come Home. And now, I pray, I pray we see, this day, with all of its dangers and sadness, its lists and responsibilities, the glory of the throne, a glimpse of His smile, the beauty of light shining from a Father’s gaze, the walls come down, the front door, this Home, open.

Open wide.

Dear sister, I’m so glad you are here. What community, what hope, what light are you desperate and hungry to see?

And do you know about Loop? Did you know I have a letter for you, and a free gift if you subscribe? Click here to find out more.

she is the one I despise

We can’t do a thing well unless we believe we are loved. For me, I have struggled with the whisper you’re not good enough. And my frustrated, rebellious heart shouts back, Good enough for what? For whom?

I can crumble, beaten, or I can charge forward, searching hard for His hand. I don’t know any way to live free except to follow. And I know this only after years of rebelling first and wanting, so much my own way.

But maybe there is no other way.

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The night we took the Christmas tree down was a hot whirlwind of living nightmare. It was the night I pushed for my own way. My heart pounding, the words charging fast and loud. Boxes crashed down from the attic like stones, tempers vigorous and burning. Word-arrows hit the bullseye again and again, both ways. I didn’t see it coming. Our first fight, like this, in front of the kids.

I know what it means to go too far. I used to live like this, before getting married. Going too far was a way to judge whether or not I was loved, whether or not I was seen. I have lived much of my life afraid to be meek, afraid to be humble, afraid to be quiet. I have fought for my own way and everyone in my path has suffered.

It is a charade to pretend your life is better when you are the one in charge.

she is the one

Oh, that old self! She is the one I despise. Traces of her fight their way out when I least expect it–the self I wished was killed and gone for good. But still she slinks her way back, her bitter striving creeping out from some deep, dark place. She comes only to bring destruction, wreckage, pain.

The old self, when I look her in the face, the vice of her grip around my heart, her steely eyes piercing me, urging me to fight for the sake of MY self, I sink to my knees and know the world is spinning and I can barely hang on.  For there is no self worth fighting for if it isn’t the self for which my Savior already died. I don’t want this old self. It’s poison to me. I want the new one. The one He died to give me. Yes, the one filled with light and beauty and love.

You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you (Ephesians 4: 20-24, MSG).

I say I  hate the old self, but Jesus dislikes her more. Because He loves you, because He loves me, because He sees us in our fullness and knows our true, new self ready to embrace life with Him, He will never let us go until the old self is good and dead. But we are the ones whom He’s given the tools, with Him, to kill it.

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He gives you tools to partner with Him in killing the old self because He knows you can’t live this free life He has given you with her here. 

The old self is dark and she is selfish. She is envious and she is corrupt. She grabs hold of hope and chokes it, hissing cold breath into your ear. You are not good. You are too far gone to change. You are alone and forgotten. You have never been loved and known. 

Don’t you hate the part of you that fights for her own way, tries to silence the lies whispered in the dark, all by yourself? We can only fight with the tools He has given us.We can only rise and fight with weapons of love. And kindness. And gentleness. And patience. And self-control. We can only fight with a heart that is reconciled with Christ, a heart that wants His way, not our way, with a heart that knows there is no other way to peace, to hope, to joy, to love, to a life free of striving and rebelling and fighting and struggling and cajoling and lying and tearing for what this heart of ours–this heart of ours without God in control–wants.

The steely cold whisper of the old self screams to be heard in the noise, refuses to be quiet, still in the chaos, calm.

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate (Romans 7:15).

But our God is bigger. He is bigger than any mistake we’ve made. He’s bigger and more lovely and more powerful and more wonderful than any whisper of that old self that tries to bring us back down. You have a Savior on your side who has come to save you, again and again and again. He will never relent. He will never turn. He will never back down. He’s all in.

He is completely, head-over-heels, just can’t get enough, in love with you. You are not alone. You are not out of control.

Because you are held by a God who never lets you go.

It’s time to surrender again, to the Savior who comes and restores you to the new self He died for and promises.

I don’t think, in the end, that old self even has a chance.

How do you struggle with the old self? How can I pray for you?

Connecting with Jen and Jennifer, this day.

how much do you want it?

First words, this new year. Time bending in, her hand outstretched. I hear her, see her wooing, come on now, look ahead and stay right here, both. This day. This moment. And everything in me wants to stay.

This new year.

I am up in the mountains with my family, we five, and my sister and her husband and their beautiful duo of daughters. There is no snow, but blue sky. And we gather up in a rented house with yellow paint facade and a Christmas tree lit bright and happy on the porch outside. When I go for a run on New Year’s Day, my husband partnering with me, on his mountain bike, I am grateful for crisp air in stale lungs. I don’t know what’s ahead, but I see a trail now, a path for these feet to travel. And I wonder how much God loves determination married with faith to go forward, running fast and hard and humbly, into what He has.

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do you want it? -mountain road

do you want it? railroad

I write out the words for Loop a few days earlier, “How to Get Through a Day.” And I love the title, the practicality it suggests. I so often want an itinerary, a good plan, with God’s stamp of approval, for my day, let alone my year.  It isn’t quite what He offers, in the whispers that come next. But He talks about the value of rhythm in a day, the sway of a girl and her father to music they create when they are in sync, when they dance, when the daughter notices the Father’s lead and bends to follow His next steps for her.

This new year.

He loves to grasp the hands of His daughter and gently lead her forward. He leads her forward into their dance of no distractions and total focus and beautiful adventure and good things He has designed just for her. How much does she want it? How much does she want to dance with Him, trust Him, move into this new year with full-on, abandoned, desire? Does she desire her God? Does she desire all that He has for her this new year?

Your hands fit perfectly here, the way your fingers curve around mine. Your arms fit perfectly here, the way they reach up and out, bent and strong. Your feet know the steps I teach you. Keep stepping out, ready for pauses, alert and ready for subtle changes in pace, in movement. I love how you do this, daughter. This is a dance all our own.

This new year. This day. This moment. A dance–with His daughter. A dance with me, a dance with you. A dance only we, in our own  unique way, can participate in, with our Father, the one who calls us home. 

How much do we want it? How much do we trust?

This new year.

Shall we dance, friends?