They sit, these sisters, clasping tea in hands, telling me the story I know. The story of silence, the story of keeping it all hidden, pretending everything is okay.
They sit and share the wounds of the darkness, love muddled in attempt to keep things clean, organized, simple. The problem with pushing down truth is that truth cannot be hidden forever. And there is a cost to silence that is more bitter than the initial pain itself.
Repercussions to silence are felt in new ways–all for the fear of letting light shine.
Avoiding conversations about the tough stuff may mean avoiding the potential mess that occurs when hearts are spilled open, raw. But avoidance–choosing silence–opens the door to believing lies, to making agreements about things that aren’t true.
Do you, friend, have a memory when you, as a child, tried to put together the pieces to a situation you didn’t fully understand? Do you feel the burden of silence, of things unspoken, of relationships strained?
We are made for relationship. We are made for community. We are made to share stories and let His light shine on the places of pain, of fear, of pride.
I’m sharing this story over at the Allume blog today . . . Click here to join me and finish reading.
“My darling, let Me create something new within you today. I plant seeds of hope within you, and I promise to bring you joy. Do you believe I can and I will? Truly, do you believe?”
Why does He ask me that question again? Must He repeat it? And why does He continue to ask me questions about my heart and what I truly believe? It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me pause, and sometimes I just don’t want to pause. I want to keep going my own way. I want to feel comfortable, sure of myself, feeling like I know where I am going. I want to be strong and independent. I want to have it all together and be successful and well-liked and wise.
Is hope what I want? Is more of God what I want? Do I believe He would bring me joy?
He knows how I can so easily keep going my own way. But He also knows what is most true: My heart flails, and I sink, in despair, on my own.
So He keeps asking questions:
“Do you now ask what will it require, this planting? Do you wonder what you have to give to receive gifts of hope? May I ask you—is there somewhere else that you could receive these gifts, on your own?”
Oh, I am wrestling here. . . Do I think I can find joy and hope on my own?
I am good at living like I do.
Perhaps I am worried . . I am worried about what God’s planting seeds of hope in me would require of me. Because I remember Paul’s words: ”What you sow does not come to life unless it dies” (1 Corinthians 15:30). Paul speaks of Jesus dying for our sakes, so that we may have new life. But in the Holy Spirit’s invitation to plant seeds of hope in my heart, I know God is inviting me to die, too. For seeds to grow, for His planting to be successful, I have a choice.
“Receive the gifts—my gifts to you, my girl—or not. But you can’t find hope on your own. And you can’t find joy on your own.”
He asks me another question:
“Do you believe I can give these gifts to you? Do you believe I want to? Why worry about what the gifts will require of you to receive them?”
I hear Him asking me if I believe Him, if I love Him, if I trust Him . . . if I believe He is good and faithful and my God.
My heart wrestles with Him–searching for what I really believe . . . wondering if I am willing to surrender so that I can both die and live. . . live and die.
Yes. I do. I do. And I want Him to plant these seeds of hope. I am tired of trying to figure out how to find joy and hope on my own.
And then He tells me how to do it.
“The requirement of receiving hope and joy is trusting Me more than yourself, loving Me more than yourself.”
Letting God sow seeds of hope in me means that for hope to be born in me, I must be wiling to surrender and let the sinful part of me die. He is in control and I am not.
His plans for me are good.
He is love and He is light. He is beauty and hope and peace and joy. He is my Father and my Creator, and I want to follow Him.
No matter what it takes.
And I am dying.
And you know what. . . even though it hurts and I have been crying a lot this week, the heart that for so many years I believed was dead inside is now opening up to receive more of Him. And I see myself stepping back from caring about recognition and validation and the world’s standards of success just as I feel Him moving me to a new place of greater strength in my identity, in Him.
“Sometimes, girls, you’re just in a soft place–a place where your heart feels vulnerable and a bit happy and sad all at once. You wonder if there is something wrong–’cause you cry easily, this day, but you can’t figure out why. But it is good, and you are glad–because you are feeling. You are filled with emotion and it makes you remember that you are alive and God is breathing and there was a sunrise today and this heart of yours is beating. I take a deep breath in these moments–because often, when my chest feels tight like this–I feel like breathing is the last thing I can really do. I can hardly catch my breath. And this is when I remember I need God to catch me. And that is what I needed all along.”
He plants in me the truth of who I am, and I am more myself today, this moment, than I have ever been.
There is no going back now.
I will take more death, any day, for more of this Life.
What about you, His girl? Are you receiving Loop in your inbox twice a week? It is His heart for us, here. I have never been more sure of that. (You can sign up right now, right here.) How do His words sit with you? How can I pray?
y daughter sings at the top of her lungs the song I am teaching her to sing–the one my dad taught me on our drives in his silver four-wheel drive pickup on the way to the dump in the summer, a few miles into the foothills from our house.
Who put the bomp In the bomp bah bomp bah bomp?
Who put the ram In the rama lama ding dong?
Who put the bop
In the bop shoo bop shoo bop?
Who put the dip In the dip da dip da dip?
She sings it with gusto–for the way the words sound on her lips . . . for the chance to use her toothbrush, when she is supposed to be brushing her teeth before bed, as a microphone . . . for the way our voices rise together, in silliness, when it comes to our favorite part:
Who was that man?
I’d like to shake his hand
He made my baby
Fall in love with me (yeah!!)
And when I tuck her in at night, I know that the way to live fully has a lot to do with faith and little to do with enthusiasm, too.
We have a chance to live this day out fully.This day, friends. We are led towards something amazing and beautiful to do with Him, this day.
I wonder what that looks like for you?
I pray you have the most beautiful, grace-filled weekend–lived out with enthusiasm and gusto, friends. Let’s not hold back from entering into what God has. And this song, “Brand New Day”, shares my heart– that we approach all the possibilities before us, brand new, and with hope.
In the last couple of posts here, I wrote about surrender. This is a topic I write about a lot, in this space. It is what I share here and here. It is what prompts me to ask the Father again, “Remind me how everything I need is within me. Tell me again that You adore me and that I am enough. Strip this heart of mine clean that I may see You and receive You and walk the way my Brother did, my King. I want to be with You like He was while He was here on earth, spending each day by Your side.”
And He never tires of leaning in close, smiling at me in that way He does, to tell me again. “Girl, you are mine. There is not one thing I would do differently if I made you all over again. Please, stay here, with Me.”
Now, it is the staying here with God part that I want to talk about.
One thing I love about blog posts: I can say just a little bit about what I am thinking–in these tidy little snippets here and there. . . It’s super convenient, and expedient, too. But I need to return here to this idea of surrendering to the Holy Spirit within us, what it looks like to stay with God, because I want to clarify something.
When I write how we need to surrender our will to God and rest with Him and know that He is the One in control and not us . . . When I write how we don’t need to strive to be more than we are because, in Him, we are complete. . . I don’t mean that abandoning the posture of striving and assuming the posture of being with God means that we sit around with God and do nothing.
I am not advocating doing nothing.
He has given us these amazing lives of ours to actually do something with them. Loving, in His name, is one of the two commandments Jesus shares as the most important for us to follow. Loving Jesus and loving others may begin with us sitting still to soak up God’s presence. Absolutely. The Holy Spirit is in us, and sitting still with God helps us to remember we are not alone.
We need to sit sometimes, but we need to go, sometimes, too.
God gives us specific desires in our hearts to experience Him uniquely, moment by moment, based on our personalities and temperaments . . . He shows us what we love to do, and He invites us on adventures with Him so we can experience even more the life He is in us. He marries the desires of our hearts with His invitations to love. We love His children through the things He has given us to love doing while on earth. Sitting still is one of the ways we can help ourselves hear His still, small voice within us and give ourselves the Sabbath rest He calls us to. Resting is an act of obedience to God . . . and it is good for us.
But sometimes, our call to obedience, our call to surrender, is not a call to rest.
Here’s the tension: In the surrendering, we are striving towards God, in the most beautiful way. We are choosing Him. We surrender our old selves and let Him clothe us with His righteousness. We recognize we can’t earn God’s love and grace; we can’t earn a gift, especially one we can never deserve.
Surrendering the old self and believing we don’t need to be the one in control takes obedience. And obedience to God is choosing connection with Him, whatever He calls us to do.
Perhaps obedience is sitting still, watching waves break at the ocean shore. Perhaps it is taking out the garbage and serving our family and driving the kids around and cleaning up after the dog. Perhaps it is packing our bags and going across the world and serving His children in need . . . or simply loving our neighbor down the hall or across the street.
Surrendering can mean sitting still, and it can also mean moving. The thing is, in each answer of obedience–whether sitting still in His presence or clinging to His hand as you rescue an impoverished child across the world–you are moving with God. Each act of obedience, each act of surrendering, each act of believing He is enough and we are enough, with Him, is being with Him, abiding with Him, moving with Him.
Even in our rest, and even in our going, we can abide.
Jesus could do anything in the will of His Father. He submitted His will to God. He experienced the freedom that comes from knowing His Father was the one in charge. He chose that kind of Life, just like we have the opportunity to choose this same kind of Life and freedom, too.
We are called to be obedient. We are called to abide–be with, live in Jesus’ presence, tune our hearts and minds to the posture of the Holy Spirit within us, our Guide that does not fail.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges Christians face is not being willing to surrender our will to God and not being obedient to the Spirit that is within us. We might spend our lives trying to earn salvation by doing stuff for Jesus under the guise that we are doing that stuff with Him.
Let’s not confuse doing things for God with doing things with God. There is nothing worth doing that we can do on our own.
At my kitchen counter, as I assemble a meal for a friend, I hear Kim Walker-Smith sing loud through the speakers: “I don’t want to camp out and stay in one place, God” . .” She seeks His voice, “What are you doing, what are you saying . . . I want to be with you tonight. . . I need you more . . Your presence is life to me . . . I need more of your presence every day, every day, God.” This is my prayer for us, here.
His presence is the beginning girls. We can’t do a thing without it.
Oh, Father, I am so thankful we don’t have to.
Do you feel the tension between staying and going, as you abide, girls? How is He calling you to move with Him? I would love to hear a bit about your journey with Him now.
It’s midnight and we wait for the second email to come in before heading over to the school to pick him up. A week away and it has felt like both forever and just a few minutes. These weeks slip by so fast. Eleven years now of being a mom. I wonder how many more moments I’ll get to wrap him up close, enfold him in these arms that used to encircle him every night. I may have known what bad habits I fostered that first year of life, that dependency on me as I nursed him to sleep every night so that he couldn’t go to sleep by himself and we didn’t get a sitter to go out on a date for a year. But I didn’t care. He needed me. And I loved it.
I loved the way he loved me with that wide-eyed, pure way of his, the way his next word, after “Mama” and “Dada” was “dog” for everything: the moon when it shown bright in the sky, the book he was carrying around, his truck. With determination and confidence he would name what he saw, and while it may not have been accurate, it was perfect and made me smile. It is still one of our favorite stories about him now, especially when we see him on the floor these days, wrestling with one of his best friends, his long-awaited dog.
He has been away with his fifth grade class for a week in Washington, D.C. a long way from California, and the first time he has set foot on a plane without us. We don’t get to talk to him, connect with him in any way while he is gone, and my heart about leaps out of my chest in relief when the email comes with the Shutterfly invitation to view the first photos of their album. There he is, at the buffet, all smiles. He’s made it. He’s smiling. Oh, that boy of mine. So small yet, and so big. How many more years until he leaves? When will it be–that day I can no longer hold him in my arms?
Our hot tea is caffeinated the night we wait for him to come home–for the shuttle to deliver him at the school, two blocks from our house. We watch the final episode of Titanic and then open our computers and get anxious, wanting to time our going over to meet the bus just right because we hope to sneak over together–even while our two younger ones are home asleep. We don’t want to head over too early and be gone from home more than a few minutes. But we also don’t want to be late for the bus pulling into the parking lot either. So, with impatience, we wait.
And when it is 12:35 and the second email hasn’t come to tell us whether they are still delayed, we don’t walk the two short blocks but jump in the car to get over there as quickly as we can. As we pull into the school parking lot, we scan the area to see if we are early or on time.
The parking lot is almost bare.
“Oh, good, the bus isn’t here, yet! We haven’t missed it!”
And then our hearts drop.
“Oh, no. Oh, no. The bus isn’t there. . .It’s already gone! Jackson is standing there, by that one car! Do you see him? He’s all alone! We are late! We are late! We missed him being dropped off!”
My mother’s heart breaks right there. I am both mortified by how this looks–that he may think he was forgotten or that we just didn’t care–and full of sorrow, as I see our boy’s tired, sweet eyes, trying to look so brave. wheeled luggage in one hand. He stands there in the dark parking lot, 12:40 am, with his school principal and a dear friend who was picking up her son, too. She waited.
We were twenty minutes late. That little boy of mine was standing in that parking lot waiting for his mom and dad to come and get him, just like all the other parents, and his parents didn’t. They weren’t there.
It is crazy and makes perfect sense, doesn’t it, that when we feel we’ve failed our kids somehow, a piece of our heart feels like it is dying right there?
Oh, how I wanted to rewind time, go back and have left the house twenty minutes earlier, email or not.
I know I am being overly dramatic and have so little to grieve about: after all, he is here now. He made it back safely. The plane didn’t crash. He was cared for. He actually didn’t stand in that parking lot all alone.
But when he walked into the house and uncharacteristically said, so simply, “I’m going to bed now.” I just about crumpled to the floor.
How do we navigate these waters? How do we manage to keep going when we can’t press rewind and do it all over?How do we feel okay when these opportunities to be present, to be available and supportive, feel so much more fleeting than before?
He is still the boy who likes to cuddle, and I crawl up onto that top bunk of his and lie down. His covers are over his head.
“I’m sorry, buddy. I’m so sorry.”
“Mom, it’s okay.”
His sweetness, his forgiveness, is beautiful, and I don’t deserve it. It makes me even more sad.
I stay up for two more hours, my heart beating fast, my husband letting me cry.
How many more days? How many more moments?
Oh, God–I mess up, and you love me still. Let me keep going. Let me keep loving.
Let me be okay with his growing up, and my messing up . . . and with his decreased need to grasp a hold of my hand.
How have you wrestled with wanting to rewind time? How do you lift up your hands and trust God, knowing that, no matter how we mess up, He forgives us and loves us still?
[T]his world will spin around, friend, but He’s holding you close. I know what it feels like to feel you are what you do. That words on a page or items crossed off on a list or projects completed make us feel like we can breathe a little deeper, relax and rest — then, and only then — a little more.
And I push again this with you, friend, knowing I run a race, a baton of beauty and glory held fast, a promise that cannot be pried from any hands. I wear these colors with humility, stumbling sometimes, but held. Oh, how we are HELD.
And I want to hold your hand, too, friend. Across this screen I type these words in haste, writing in a kitchen with pots still to be washed and laundry spilling from baskets and on my family room couch. I write with little boys side by side, comparing notes on a game they play, on intermission from the dance party I share with my girl, in between costume changes. Sugarland plays “Stuck Like Glue” on a speaker three feet from my ear.
I reach across this screen because He reaches around and grabs me, reminding me that if nothing gets “done” today, if piles are still there by the end of the day, if it feels like we are putting out fires right and left and the room feels like it spins . . . I remember, with you, that He has us.
And only because He coaxes me, ever-so-gently– to remember it’s all okay, and He will guide me in all that needs to get done today. And I can trust Him. And I can slow down.
You — and I — friend — don’t need to do a thing.
I forget this. And I remember it now.
And all because He gathers me to Him, in truth, with you.
In the midst of claymation movie-making and banana muffin tins that need to be scrubbed . . . In the chaos of Alice-in-Wonderland dresses twirling in circle after circle and thank-you note writing and leaning, leaning, girl, with you, how can I pray for you?How can we say ‘yes’ and let Him connect these hearts, together, as one?
In his love,
So thrilled to be linking up here, with Richella, at Imparting Grace, for the first time:
[I] want so much to push against You, Father. Beat on Your chest, prove to You how, really, truly, I am just not worth all this – this new life. I want to reject You, remind You of what I did, how despicable it really was. And You say You love me? How? Why?
My friend Jen, in My Girls on Monday, grabs my shoulders at the kitchen sink, telling me she read my post, and I don’t want to talk about it.
“Oh, yes, I closed the comments.”
“I needed to write it, to express where my heart is right now . . . and I didn’t want anyone to feel like they needed to cheer me up. It’s where I am.”
Without hesitation, she turns to face me square on, eyes earnestly locked on mine, “I came to tell you, you do deserve it,” and I turn away.
“No, I don’t believe you.” And I usher everyone from the kitchen and into the front room.
Father, no, how can I? I deserve nothing. I deserve death. I do know that is the point of You coming, of Jesus’ sacrifice; but, if I’m honest, Father, I struggle because, sadly, I want to deserve it. And I know, no matter what I do, changing the past or not, I know I can’t.
Oh, Father, how I need You to come.
And You do.
Jen leads this morning. She reads Your scripture, Father, piercing my heart:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing (Galatians 2:20-21).
I have heard these words, Your words, Father, so many times. But I hear You wanting me to believe it this time. Believe it is true.
Jen plays two beautiful songs by Gungor, one which speak of our dry bones, our desperation for God and our feeling like dust. The other celebrates the truth that we are each created anew, in His image — that with Him all things are possible, and He calls us, in Him, to new life.
She asks us, while we listen to the songs, to consider the state of our hearts: What is the dust in your life right now? How is God bringing you out of the dust? Or, are you still clinging to the dust, in your life?
The lyrics build . . and my chest tightens and tears pour from my eyes the whole way through.
And my friend begins to read Brennan Manning’s words, from All is Grace:
My life is a witness to vulgar grace — a grace that amazes as it offends. A grace that pays the eager beaver who works all day long the same wages as the grinning drunk who shows up at ten till five. A grace that hikes up the robe and runs breakneck toward the prodigal reeking of sin and wraps him up and decides to throw a party no ifs, ands, or buts. A grace that raises bloodshot eyes to a dying thief’s request — ‘Please remember me’ — and assures him, ‘You bet!’ A grace that is the pleasure of the Father, fleshed out in the carpenter Messiah, Jesus the Christ, who left his Father’s side not for heaven’s sake but for our sakes, yours and mine. This vulgar grace is indiscriminate compassion. It works without asking anything of us. It’s not cheap. It’s free, and as such will always be a banana peel for the orthodox foot and a fairy tale for the grown-up sensibility. Grace is sufficient even though we huff and puff with all our might to try to find something or someone it cannot cover. Grace is enough. He is enough. Jesus is enough.
The Father asks me, whispers to my heart, that under that tree, where He sat beside me, when I chose to end a life that He gave, I was beautiful then.
For He had already taken it all — all my sin — before I had even committed it.
Yes, vulgar grace. Too beautiful for me to comprehend.
Too beautiful for me to turn away.
To ask you the same questions my dear, wise friend, asked me, “What is the dust in your life right now? How is God bringing you out of the dust? Or, what dust is still clinging to you that the Father is asking you to give up to Him?
[W]e go with His breath in us, His delight urging us on to claim more of Him, more of what is true.
You know that little-girl heart I talked about yesterday? I have wondered what it takes to find and claim it.
And perhaps action is what is required.
Last year, sitting in the car before picking up my daughter from ballet, I grabbed a pen to find those words He gives to claim who I am, whom He sees. The words of my roles, my duties, my responsibilities and strengths were scrawled out; but it was the deeper truths about me that He wanted to me see.
It felt bold to write it down.
It helped me believe they are true.
That I am free.
Would you like to join me in writing down the truth of who you are? Just bits of words that carry with them power, as we say ‘yes’ to being His. There is so much more of us,with Him, that He desires for us to know.
Come on, now. You can do it. He’s got your hand.
Oh, yes, one more exciting thing . . . the new women’s community site, Sisters in Bloom, is live today! And guess what else? There is a free ebook, Hope Renewed: Real Stories of God’s Promises Fulfilled, by the Sisters in Bloom writers, for you to snag and download right there in the sidebar. Just click that button on the right! So many beautiful stories of hope and redemption in there. (My story of Him coming for me is in there, too!) :) Don’t wait!
As Christmas approaches, there is much talk of Advent. Advent means “coming,” and it is the season the Christian church marks to wait, in expectation, for Jesus. For thousands of years the Jews waited for Him, and currently, now that He has come, we celebrate His having come while awaiting His return. His coming gives life, gives hope and joy and gratefulness for His living in us –- and excitement in anticipation of seeing Him face to face someday. And it is in this face-to-face encounter that we must remember Christ’s posture of humbleness when He came.
We are familiar with the story of the humble surroundings described in “Away in the Manger”. We are familiar with the wooden statues of nativity scenes displayed on mantles and tables during this time of year. What would it be like to let the Father show us our posture if we were part of the real nativity scene, this moment? How do you picture yourself at the King of King’s humble introduction to the world? Imagine yourself there, fully present to the sounds and smells and sights of a teenage girl and tradesman caring for a swaddled infant in a feeding trough.
Are you standing? Are you sitting, kneeling? Are you speaking? Where are you, in the stable? Do you position yourself in the dark corner? Are you hanging out with the sheep? Can you make out the baby’s cries above the rustling movement of the animals? Can you feel your beating heart?
When I consider this, it is so easy for me to find myself lurking in the shadows, intimidated, overwhelmed, scared. I am unworthy, this girl who tries so hard to have it all together and often fights to not have to surrender; and, in my unworthiness, how can I even look on Him? I consider the human baby, God come down, in a smelly animal enclosure, and I can hardly take it in. (Look at Him. Look at His posture of complete surrender. What is mine, as I say, in this season of Advent, I come to worship the King of Kings?)
One of the dangers of me entering in to what Christ brings — keeps me standing there, looking in, observing Jesus from afar — is my romanticizing who Jesus really was, how He really came, how He really lived. Striving to be worthy of worshiping our God who chose to come down to earth, become human, let a tradesman guide His head out of a human’s womb, have the smell of work animals and the hard ground of a rough stable be the stage for His arrival on earth, can be too beautiful, too powerfully humbling for me to want to feel like Jesus would want to be by my side. I forget that angels from heaven came to shepherds in the night, not to earthly kings on a throne, inviting them to rejoice in the coming of Light to the world.
How do I rejoice? How do I worship? What is my posture of celebration when the King invites me in?
Father, You teach me that Your rescue mission for Your children came through Your Son epitomizing humbleness –- showing, through His sacrifice as a human, that it is possible to live a life of Light, of love, of freedom, of joy. Christ, fully human, fully God, was on earth showing us what it is like for a human to depend fully on You. And I stay at the periphery of the stable, unable to worship Him, move toward Him — with Him — unless I humble myself too.
In John 17, as the day of the cross draws near, He prays to His Father, on behalf of us, on behalf of His disciples. It is here that I am reminded of the Son’s complete dependence on the Father. He did nothing without Him, and this is the truth of it all: this is what makes Christ God’ son, what makes this baby, our Savior, worth more than all our praise, worth more than all our worship. It is in His glorious humbleness, the beauty of His complete surrendering to and trust in His Father that we can throw down all of our hopes of ever feeling more put together, more worthy, more invited in to be present with Him, than we do now.
Where we are invited in to worship the King who came, as we wait again for His coming again, we remember how Jesus turns all the expectations of this world upside down. This no static nativity scene. As we remember how Christ came we celebrate His life in us now, His joy in us now. He pulls us out of those dark corners where we live regretting all of our past mistakes and feel the weight of our unworthiness to come close. Yes, we are unworthy. Yes, we have messed up and have fallen short of the glory of God. And that is why He came; that is why He came like He did. And isn’t that perfect, really, how we need Him so?
Press on, My daughter, enter in. You can do this, for I am in you, too. I was in My Son, and My Son came for you. My Son comes for you, dying for your life. I have chosen you, too. I live in you, too.
Move in it, child.
Don’t stand at the periphery, child. You are in this scene, too. This is your worship. This is how you move in. This is how you move with Me. You are not an observer to Life. You are in this, too. I came for you, child. Dance with Me, now. Celebrate the birth of Life with me. That is your life.
Girls, we are invited to dance with Jesus around the stable, kicking up dust, and rousing the animals from sleep. We are invited to worship through surrendering, becoming humble, like Him, and joining in on this celebration of waiting on His next coming, the next Advent,with Him, holding our hand, hearing the music and helping us match His stride.
What do you think? Shall we kick up some dust and join in?
The trees are quiet here, leafless, buds still playing hide and seek till Valentine’s Day. I know these orchards, not in the plant-it-yourself, dig your hands deep into the ground kind of way — but a sure knowing, all the same. Possibility is aching to burst forth, these hidden buds sleeping to awake again to sweet, popcorn-almond blooms. So grateful that life doesn’t sleep for long. I now tread softly on this rich, hallowed ground.
God walked here, sitting with me under this tree, this cold earth one December. I know what it means to lie postrate on frozen earth longing for death. With the longing for death comes the dying of a heart. And also, in the coldness, comes Life beating, unable to detach from love pressing long — His gaze, His hope, holding fast.
In the looking back, in the worship of a Father who brings warm life out of cold shadow, I see, again, the beauty of restoration. This morning air brings light again to memory. I see You again. With these feet running through these rows where life began — in the dying — I remember how little good I deserve. Death knows my name but still life claims me. I deserve to be buried, lifeless, in this cold ground.
But, sweet girl, I see you now. This woman-child looks back, moves through these rows, trees organized like soldiers, faithful, branches steadfast, reaching high. And she sees. She sees what could have been and what is now. She chooses to see beyond what her eyes perceive and trust this heart-whisper that tells her she is adored, treasured — a broken, chipped pot found beautiful again and restored.
We, dear sister, are about to bloom. We are restored, found treasure. Can you see it?
my mom’s sweet words of encouragement regarding pursuing what God puts on my heart
my eldest son’s joining me on my run with our dog through the orchard, climbing the dirt pile with him and seeing how far out we could see
my mom’s homemade vegetable soup
cuddles with my husband on the couch
arriving back home and finishing decorating the Christmas tree
My Girls gathered in my living room and laying down the vulnerable, hard thing to receive His good grace and light
My friend’s gentle words to me, something written in her journal, wrap love tight, right around. Breath catches while heart swells. All resonating, tender true. Her words press deep, reminding me of the intimate shaping of our hearts, these lives He gives, the finger paint dance-touch of the Father in everything we say and do.
Footprints are evidence that someone’s been here. Fingerprints are further evidence — that someone has not only been here, but has touched things, held things, moved things. Likewise with God. His footprints tell us He is with us; His fingerprints on our lives tell us He holds us, touches us, moves us.
And then she sends me a Steven Curtis Chapman song that she had forgotten long ago:
FINGERPRINTS OF GOD
Psalm 139:14, 15; PHP 1:6
I can see the tears filling your eyes
And I know where they’re coming from
They’re coming from a heart that’s broken in two
By what you don’t see
The person in the mirror
Doesn’t look like the magazine
Oh, but when I look at you it’s clear to me that . . .
I can see the fingerprints of God
When I look at you
I can see the fingerprints of God
And I know it’s true
You’re a masterpiece
That all creation quietly applauds
And you’re covered with the fingerprints of God.
Never has there been and never again
Will there be another you
Fashioned by God’s hand
And perfectly planned
To be just who you are
And what He’s been creating
Since the first beat of your heart
Is a living breathing priceless work or art and ….
Just look at you
You’re a wonder in the making
Oh, and God’s not through, no
In fact, He’s just getting started and ….
And she signs her words to me, to you, sweet friend,
Just wanted to let you know ….
Happy Thanksgiving, His girls
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well (Psalm 139:14).
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Phillipinans 1:6).
I remember this, the feet stretching out, sweet dog at my side. The surroundings are different. No more rows of almond trees, soft grass underneath my feet. And my sweet dog Inga next to me was not tethered to anything. She got to roam free, like I did.
There were no paths to stay on. Rules to follow. There were no scary wood chippers on the street that cause Fulton, this timid golden guy next to me now, to huddle down and refuse to budge. There were tractors, sometimes, and pickups on the road half a mile from the orchard edge. The cats would follow us out on the beginning of the run, and then it would be just us, Inga’s dark brown coat and sweet brown eyes knowing the secret between us. She was the friend where nothing needed to be proven. There was freedom out there, with her, as we ran through the sloping rows.
And now, running again, first time with a buddy by side since those turbulent, silent years growing up, I realize how I know this — this place, even with the different canvas, the busier, paved street, this sweet guy by my side on a leash to keep him safe. I am safe again, for I know it now, in a way I felt but didn’t as fully recognize then. And is this the growing, then, the recognition of what has been there all along, the awaking to freedom, the life for which my soul cries out, ‘yes’!?
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I want what You have. I want it more than anything, this desire that burns deep and doesn’t want to be hidden in a corner where it can’t be seen.
I will enter in, drinking this blood, eating this flesh, savouring this Life with all I am.
Let it be all I am, Father.
I want it all, all of this Joy. Let nothing separate me from You.
I will follow, Your Joy in me leading.
I will heed it.
I can’t bear to leave this gift behind — so stunning I can’t turn away.
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Father, empty me of myself. I want to hear Your voice.
Father, empty me of myself, I want to love with Your heart. I want nothing to get in the way.
Father, empty me of myself. Let me forget me to love like You love.
In the slowing, let me seek You. In the music of children’s voices, hugs and conflicts, laughter and tears, let me find You.
Show me what it means to serve.
Father, hide me from the enemy and keep my heart pure. Search me to discern what in me pulls away from You.
Let nothing come between us, Father. Let Your Spirit be my breath, my beating heart, my mind. Let every thought be Yours.
There is freedom in deciding whether or not to be my own. There is freedom in belonging to You. There is freedom in being seen and known and pursued and adored.
I know who I am in You. I know what I love. You battled those fears that kept me from discovering my heart — the passions for exploring mountains and hearts, listening and writing, soaking in quiet and moving fast, in sacred song.
I hear Your voice breathing life. I see Your hands touching my heart. I behold Your beauty singing majesty and grace.
You cannot be contained, yet You reach down and hold me, Your Spirit lifting me. I am a new creation.
In the sacrifice, in the love that is love, the old falls away. I behold newness. I walk in newness. I will look up and rejoice for the new works You are doing. I will claim the gifts You bring.
In Your eyes I am cleansed. You wash away my sin and draw me to You. You do not repay me according to my choices of selfishness. You do not give me what I deserve.
You restore in me a new heart, a life that sings of joy and promise.
No matter where I am, You are there. No matter how far away from You I feel, Your eyes never leave me.
How great is Your love Father, that each child, each work of Your hands is glorious and perfectly made!
I will seek You and I will find You. I will listen for You and I will hear. I will believe and walk in Your ways, with Your guidance and love in me.
I do not go alone. My heart is protected, shielded inside Your love. I am the beloved child who is gathered up and shown how to love with a love that reaches beyond understanding.
Your kingdom lives in me. You give me life. All glory, all praise, all love comes from You.
I will sit in the stillness with You, Father. I will stay here and not turn. I will remember who I am and what I need. I will seek You and I will be found.
You bring peace to my heart: slow me down, stop me from turning. I do things on my own, and the day runs fast and I do my best to keep up.
I want more of You, Father. I remember the feelings of self-loathing, the lie surging, making me despair, rather than rejoice, for needing You so desperately. Is my heart so much more attached to this world, than to You, that slowing feels like weakness? When surrender feels like losing, giving up with no gain?
I am your daughter, a princess, a warrior in a battle for a life to surrender so for other lives I can fight. I am humble but not meek. I am small but not weak. I am one, but I stand with You, Jesus. The Father in You, the Father in me.
I am tired of quick turn-and-run-prayers on the go.
And so I will sit at Your feet and I will listen. And I will climb up into Your lap and rest my head against Your breast and hear the beating of Your heart. Your love for Your daughters, Your sons, pouring over me true.
I sit, and I let You show me the blood of Your wounds, Your body lifeless and torn when Joseph and Nicodemus took You, worked hours bent, blood-tear-soaked hands wrapping Your body in cloths, worshipping their King who recovered them from ash.
Your body they laid down quiet – bracing deafening silence about to burst in a stone dark tomb.
Word come Life rises. Death splits wide and You pick up our pieces scattered all around.
In this stillness, where I listen, I see my pieces still scattered, my heart still heavy from the burden of running, forgetting I am gathered up, thinking I am the gatherer of my life, thinking I am King. I work for life, not following the One who already gave it, too busy to slow and sit, hear Your words beating live.
My daughter, You are not your own. Let me carry the words, the future of this life. Stay present now. See the beauty now.
Yes, it’s not complicated. Life with me is not complicated. The world’s lies are complicated. My love is not difficult to understand. I love all. I do not discriminate. I do not withhold. My Son trusts me fully, and He completed the work I gave for Him to do. What work do I give you to do?
Love. Love fully — with Me, in you. Love well. Do not discriminate. Do not withhold. Trust that I live in you.
See it in My people, now. See the anguish, the heartache apart from Me. I do not bring suffering, child. But I sometimes let it happen so that My children turn to Me and see more of My face. I so long to hold them and bring joy and peace to their hearts — the places that ache and churn and do not feel peace. I go out to these places, child. Do you see? Do you see Me?
Broken windows, twisted lives, heartache and despair? Lonely blank walls behind which My children are left to die, without knowing My face? Can you help them know My face? Can you help bring My heart to them? I ache for them to know Me.
My girls, let me bring you home. Remember your home. That ache is the part that misses Me, that longs for peace and truth to land.
And with His love we are called to rise, warrior daughters. His love our strength and shield. His sacrifice brings life for us to share.
Warriors daughters, sit and listen to the beating heart that made you. He has fought the battle for you and won, and you are mighty and strong in His name. There is another battle He invites us into, with Him, to fight.
The tomb is empty, and there are more hearts that don’t feel His heart beating. I want to sit, listen, and follow.
Light enters gently through the window — panes framing pieces of beauty, of promise, of darkness ending. Light also asks permission to enter your heart, illuminating a plan, a whisper of peace and joy. Will we let it shine?
Come girls, let’s ask Him to enter today. He calls you beautiful, He calls you His own. He knows the lists of things to do and promises, despite all obstacles, that His plan for you — for you, the one He sees and adores, the one He calls His girl — is good.
Morning reaches in, warm light beckoning towards newness, rebirth. I let it drape softly, gentle blanket of promise, if not comfort. I am not sure I am ready for birthing pains again, insides dry and cracked. It always hurts, this turning over, brittle crevices of heart breaking to let the new growth, already beginning, arise from within. To be filled in and made new, always a choice, always an offering, an invitation for insides to be scraped, made straight, and cleaned. All before the pieces crumble a bit more, falling quietly towards rocky soil, and turning, ever surely, to dust.
And Jesus, and the Father comes . . . for me, for you, His girls.
My daughter, I have not forsaken you. The water is drying up. Who will fill it? From where does it come? Can you fill it? Can you fill to its capacity? My Father can fill it.
I am your King, your One who fights for you. I never leave or turn. There is much to do, and I have placed you where I need you. My delightful one, see where you are, where I am. Look for Me, and trust where I go. Can you walk with me this day? Can you look for Me and come out of hiding? Do you think your way is what is best — that I would leave you and hope you fail to turn back?
No matter what path you take, I urge you to turn back. I want you to turn back. You are My delight. My heart aches when you are not close. We are meant to be together. That is when you feel most whole. Worthy one, you are worthy of My love. How can I not adore, cherish, dote on what I have created? And I know what is best for you, so you do not need to fret. I did not create you to let you fall behind when you are out of My sight. My love equips you to go out and love well. It is impossible for you to fall short. It is impossible for you to fall when I am with you. And why would I leave you? Do you stand with Me? Love Me? Adore Me? Cherish Me? Stay with me and you will. My love burns for you and you are drawn to Me. I can’t be ignored. That ache, that unsettled feeling, is Me stirring you to turn again to Me, for I have much in store for faithful ones who lay it down — who remember who holds their life — and turn.
Turn, daughter, turn. My eyes are gently on you. My love pushing through the world — the world I want to scoop up and hold close, the world I came to save. And I save you. Remember, I saved you. Remember what has already been done for your freedom — freedom of your heart to love Me or not, turn to Me or not. But peace will not enter your heart unless humbleness is what leads you to stand, and My eyes are what you see, and My heart is what beats in yours, and my life gives life and joy grows and grows.
For My joy for you does not cease. You bring Me joy. You are enough and perfectly made, daughter! Forget the past! It has shaped you — and looking back is good if you let Me do the healing. I heal you now. I restore you now. I have plans for you now. Heed My whisper, daughter, in the rejoicing of the angels and the coming of the dawn in the night. I am for You. I am in you. I am the light in the darkness and the place where you land. Let me prove it to you by you trusting Me and going where I call you to go. Trust Me, daughter.
My tears fall when you turn away and don’t let Me come in to heal. I am sorry for the pain, and I long to take it away if you let Me. Do you trust Me? Do you hear Me? Do you see Me? My daughter, are you there?
When my heart was embittered
And I was pierced within,
Then I was senseless and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.
1 Peter 1:3-10
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.
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I know what it is like to not want to surrender. I know the heartache, the frustration and pain, the walls pressing in so I can’t breathe. I know what it is like to wish for God to wave His magic wand and transform me, to come fix the situation so peace would come.
I know what it is like to want Him to save me, without me doing a thing, and to desire for Him to make it all new.
You are made by the One who paints the sky each day you rise.
You are made by the One who breathes life into you and calls you to wake, to turn, to see, to rejoice, to dance.
You are made by the One who beckons you to follow, to watch His footsteps, not the path ahead. The path is for Him to see, and He is for you to trust.
You are made by the One who holds you and lifts you and challenges you to go where He goes, reminding you that you are perfectly designed, exactly what He intended, that you are good. He sees beyond what you see and melts when He looks into your eyes.
You are made by the Glorious One who has good things in store for you, who reminds you there is no need to fear — to worry about tomorrow, to feel any doubt about getting through. He is your warrior, your True One, your Rock. He does not leave you. He does not fail.
You are made by the Creator — forming with His hands your hands, with His hands your feet, with His hands your face and your beautiful heart. Each part of you is exquisitely designed, a masterpiece.
You are made.
You are made.
You are made by the One to worship, with all that He is made you to be, the One who deserves all praise. You are made for His delight, and your delight rests in worshiping Him. You are made, beautiful one.
It is enough that you are made.
Here is a song my dear friend, Julie, gifted to me on my birthday yesterday. It is called “Intimacy”, by Jonathan David Helser. Please listen, with me, and join in the celebration of the Maker and with appreciation for what He has designed. You are beautiful and adored, perfectly made. Sweet blessings to you this weekend. (And Happy Father’s Day!)