trapped? how about living the life you’ve imagined?

trapped.jpg

We can wake up, these days, and believe, with all our hearts, that this is the most ordinary day. The alarm goes off and everything looks just the same as it did before. Same bed, same room, same situation as the previous day. There can be comfort in the sameness. There be comfort in knowing the routine. It offers some feeling of control, which can feel safe. And safe can feel good.

I wonder if I think I desire safety and routine, but in reality I desire something I will never receive because I have so little faith. Doing the same thing, day after day, hoping that there will be more time to accomplish a certain task, or that my relationship with my family and friends–and my God–will be closer and more meaningful and awesome.

Or maybe I struggle with the hard work change requires. While Justin and I write how new life comes only after resurrection from death–how Jesus modeled new life only after agreeing to die, and with Him, setting us free from sin–I am convinced, again, something in me may just need to die. For I want to abandon, once more, the feeling of being trapped.

Feeling trapped in the life God has given me–in the life Jesus died for, in the life of freedom He offers–doesn’t make much sense. We’re not meant to feel trapped. We’re not meant to feel overwhelmed. But we can feel that way, nevertheless.  So I stand, in my need, with the Corinthians, as Paul speaks God’s words to my heart:

Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of his Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that (1 Corinthians 1: 5-9, MSG).

I have not a thing to lose now. My Father has given me everything I need. Trapped? I imagine this is not a favorite word in His vocabulary. He came to save us as we were enslaved in sin, trapped in greed and pride and lack of faith. Trapped.

I used to feel trapped by the guilt I’d feel by not feeling one hundred percent fulfilled by being a mom who stayed home full time with her kids. I believed there was something wrong with me. There was.

I used to feel trapped in relationships when I’ve felt disconnected from someone I cared about, or  misunderstood. I’ve felt trapped when my desires and passions were not claimed–when I ignored how God made me to love certain things, and I wasn’t doing them, or I wasn’t allowing myself time to believe they were real, or for me to do. Something was wrong in me then, too.

do what you love

There is a life Jesus has fought for me to live, a new life that is more than circumstantial. It is a heart change, this reality of freedom. It is a life that requires faith to realize. It is a life that I want to choose.

So, do I just trust you more God? Do I call out to you, pleading “I believe! Help me with my  unbelief!” ? Do I just refuse to believe in ordinary?

There’s a pillow sitting on the little couch in the front room we had made from the crib our babies’ slept in those first years. “Live the life you’ve imagined.” I like it–all the possibility it reminds me is real and true, and, well, possible to experience. This ordinary day.

live the life you've imagined

But I think it comes down to this for me: I need to believe the life I imagine is possible to live, with Christ, is for me–a life of freedom,where He is capable of taking from me every silly thought and every heavy burden.  A new life bought by His ransomed life. I live to die and be resurrected and live, again, with Him.

So, again, I pray God helps me die.

Die to anger and to self-obsession. Die to my plans and to the minutes that don’t go like I thought they should. Die to resentment and to my  critical spirit. Die to selfishness and to greed. Die to believing the lie I’m not good enough to do the things He’s made me to do, or that I shouldn’t even begin to imagine freedom from worry or fear or pride.

And live to imagine He is here. Live to imagine I am made by a God who loves me. Live to imagine I can handle anything, with Him by my side. Live to imagine, no matter what I face, it’s going to be okay.

Sisters, can you imagine being free?

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.

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.

snow 4.jpg

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.

 

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.

she is the one 2

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.

she is the one 3

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.

to believe in

My mom laid out the wrapped gifts under the tree while I sat frozen to the couch. My boyfriend was still there and wouldn’t leave. He didn’t have a place to go home to, and I didn’t know how to ask him to go.  It was 11 pm, too late for him to still be here, and now my mom was bringing out gifts from the bedroom, one by one, laying them out.

I  had been to the counselor already, just the day before. The plan was set to return after Christmas and get the thing done. But I was sixteen, and more of a child than I knew then. And while I knew there wasn’t a Santa at this point, or anything else left to believe in, after lying to my parents and the whole world already about who I was, I still wanted to believe in things I didn’t have a right to believe in. Magic and surprises and presents under the tree that weren’t there the night before.

I had been keeping a secret from my parents and my friends about who I was and the price, only now, seemed too great. My mom bending down to place presents underneath the tree when I should have been in bed. I couldn’t bear to ask her if I could help her. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I wasn’t supposed to be pregnant at sixteen and awake when I watched my mom play Santa Claus and she didn’t know who I really was.

to believe in

to believe in 2

to believe in 3

to believe in 4

It feels so much easier sometimes to believe in a God who is distant. Believing we are loved based on our behavior, our merits, leaves us with a feeling of control, of self-righteousness. I was used to earning, working hard for attention and love. Somewhere early on, I had decided the praise I received from doing the right thing meant who I was was good, too. I wasn’t yet ready to believe I was loved without deserving it. I knew I wasn’t really good, wasn’t really pure and noble and kind. Sixteen years old and I was finally getting glimpses of the death that comes in trying to earn love, a gift that can never be earned.

A baby boy was born to save my life and the baby growing inside of me died because I thought that was the only way I might live.

There is no way to breath now. There is no way to live with excitement and hope, a grown woman now, excited for magic and beauty and the wonder of opening presents under the tree. . . without letting in love I don’t deserve, without realizing I am incapable of loving unless I know I am unworthy of it and my Savior died for me because He loved me anyway. Knowing we are loved, still, despite our sin, frees us to love and not strive towards anything not ours to give.

My two oldest children just woke up, and then the third, stumbling cheerfully into the family room where I am under the white fluffy blanket by our heater. They don’t know yet what they are capable of–all the beauty God sees in them, how they are built to love and be desperate in their surrender to a King who arrived the most beautiful in His humbleness, in His knowing He was chosen, He was free, He was loved. We are asked to love like a child, with eyes open to wonder, full of faith and acceptance for things we don’t yet understand. When childhood is stolen, through sin, the Father who loves to be with us, sing to us love songs throughout our day, asks us if we’d like the innocence back.

tree

tree 2

tree 3

Shall we stay here together, a little longer? Shall we wait together, your shoulder folded into my chest. Shall we rest? May I give you rest? It is time to slow now. It is time to stay close to Me. There is so much to do, I know. But is there? Do you trust your list of what needs to get done more than Me? It will not all get done. There will never be that perfect day to spend with Me. But this moment, this moment right here.

When I tell my children what I know about the God who sits under trees next to daughters who strive and strive to be loved, I don’t have to tell them the details of why I know what I know. I can show them in stories of trying to be loved when I was loved already, and in stories of love with arms wrapped around weary shoulders and whispers of love to rest tired heads.

Come close, my daughter. I miss the slowing. I miss the gentle rhythm of moving, my step, then yours, my leaning, then yours. Let this be the season of slowing, of sitting with me. Come, with anticipation. Come, with expectation. Come, with excitement. Come, with time to spend with Me. Come, with desire. Come, with surrender. Come, with longing. Come, with a seeking heart.

Come to Me, and I will sit down too. And we will sit together, side by side, and we will enjoy this day together. You will be so close you will hear the sound of my breathing. You will watch the movement of my lips when I speak. You will know the color of my eyes. And you will know the feel of my skin as I hold your hand in my own.

Can we sit together now, my dear?

I’m not going to miss my King this Christmas, this baby who lived looking to the One who knew who held him. There is too much life, this day, to stay the sad girl, up too late at night, in front of the Christmas tree, wishing she were someone different than who she is.

Does Christmas feel heavy for you this year? How are you doing at slowing and letting Him care for you? How can I pray?

Also, Kay B. won the Sarah Ha pendant giveaway! So happy to get that shipped off to you yesterday, Kay! Merry Christmas!

{The words in italics, above, were excerpted from Loop, “I’ve Written You a Love Song”. Have you subscribed yet? You can, here.}

the messy and awesome work of letting God in

Going through the hard, dark places of our heart with God isn’t fun. It’s super uncomfortable. It’s exhausting. It’s inconvenient. We want Him to go deeper in, to do anything it takes to free us of lies we believe about ourselves, about this world, about Him.

Don’t we?

We know nothing separates us from the love of God. He pursues us relentlessly. But His pursuit of us is one of a Father disciplining us sometimes. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He is all-in, and He loves us too much to let us keep on going down a path that isn’t good for us. But the thing is, He asks us to let Him, give Him permission to do the work in us.

We are made. He wants to keep making us brand new.

In C. S.Lewis’ The Great Divorce, (one of my favorite books of all time) we see the beauty of redemption when angels ask visitors to heaven who would otherwise stay in hell, if they would like to be free of their false selves and live, with Jesus, in heaven. The angels reveal to the people the horror of their sins, and the despair that exists when they continue to refuse to let God in to their hearts.

In one situation, a man’s struggle with lust is manifested as a lizard that whispers lies into his ear. The man has become so used to the lizard’s voice that the whispers of deception feel a part of him. He can’t imagine letting the angel rid him of it, creepy as it is. The man panics and promises to keep the lizard quiet, saying that it won’t bother anyone. He’ll keep it under control and no one will ever even notice that he is there. The angel pursues the man, though, urging him to let him kill it, and the man finally relents, with a piercing, scream as the angel reveals a sword and slays the lizard, saying “I promised that it wouldn’t kill you; I didn’t promise that it wouldn’t hurt.”

There is such horrific danger in the existence of the false self. Unless we surrender and let Jesus take that sin within us, we lie writhing, like the man with the lizard on his shoulder. Our false selves are our inauthentic selves. They reveal what we look like without God.

Check out this compelling video by The Skit Guys, sent to me by one of His girls, Nikki. It shares a dialogue between us and God, as God asks us if we would like Him to come and remove the things weighing us down, preventing us from living the life God intended us to live.

It’s a choice. And sometimes, it isn’t pretty. (Subscribers, click here, to see the video.)

The other day,  I shared with you how, in the car on the way to my haircut, I called out His name, rejecting lies I wanted nothing to do with anymore. And I believe He heard me. And I believe His mercy, new every morning, comes with a mighty strength, covering me, protecting me–His Holy Spirit coming with a mighty sword to free me from the entanglement of deception in which I get so easily mired.

But I didn’t wake feeling entirely new. I am still in my earthly body, struggling, in my weakness, to surrender and rely on His strength. And it is hard. But I keep listening. And I keep trusting. And I keep surrendering.

After praying, I didn’t feel like magic fairy dust was sprinkled on my head. The clouds in the sky didn’t part and the sun didn’t shine a spotlight of grace right there, through the sunroof, on my head. But I know I am made, and He is with me. He is changing me. He is shaping me into something beautiful, a daughter even more like Himself.

If you are in this place, of feeling like there is something weighing you down. . . if you want more of God’s freedom and are tired of being entangled by the weight of a sin that prevents you from experiencing His joy, please know you are not alone. Don’t keep silent about it. Don’t try to work it out on your own. Don’t try to fix yourself.

You can’t do it. It just doesn’t work.

Because you are made, you need your Maker to come and bring His healing. And once you let Him in, the process might not be quick. It might not be easy. It might be frustrating in how long it takes and how painful it feels.

But, oh girl, let Him do it. And tell us about it, here, or send me an email, so I can pray for you.

You are made.

Any work He does, painful as it might be, will be good. And it will be worth it.

Promise.

madeday12series

 

madesubscribenew

breaking agreements with the enemy, again {made: day 10}

breaking agreements

It’s been a struggle, looking for words. I’m a woman looking for the lost coin. I scramble, heart desperate. Because when I press in, asking Him more about what it means to be made, to live in that reality of Him, I am reeling. There is something I’ve been bumping up against before this series even started. It’s what prompted me to write it — push in, slow down, listen close, trust more . . . consider what it means to be made. Created. Designed. His.

I want more of Him. For I am so tired, so tired, girls. When I was in a circle of women this week, women open and vulnerable and fearlessly sharing what they don’t want to speak aloud . . . but they do, I was frozen, not myself. I walked in excited to see them; and then I sat there, feeling unable to speak, wishing I had set a fake timer on my phone as an excuse to beat the heck out of there.

But I stayed. Miserable and blessed all at once.

My dear friends coaxed me into His arms, helping me believe, for real, how truly loved I am.

Don’t we all need to be coaxed out of our turtle-like shell, once and a while? Don’t we sometimes forget and need to be told again and again how much we are loved?

And I when we went around the circle, asking each woman to share the one word on her heart right now, I said I wanted death.

I have written here before of the insidious power of agreements–false beliefs we tuck away and believe are true about ourselves, about life, about God. We are so comfortable with these agreements. They feel so much a part of ourselves, we don’t even recognize them. We don’t believe they exist.

But they do.

And what this Made series is churning up in me is this: the need to die, right now (again) to insecurity about my not being enough.

On the way to get a haircut (first time in six months, pretty exciting), I sat in the car at a train signal, my heart heavy. I want to be free to love, unencumbered by self-doubt. So, at the blinking red light I said it loud, right there, “Dear Jesus, I reject the lie that I am not good enough. In Your name, I break the agreement that I am unworthy and I need to work to earn acceptance and love. I agree with You now . .  . In Your name, I agree that I am secure, I am whole, I am worthy, I am loved.”

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

I have broken these agreements before. But I needed to do it again. There is a war on our hearts, making us doubt ourselves, the beauty He has created, the wonder of what He has made.

I search my heart, desperate to find what I am missing. No matter what it takes. I don’t want to miss this, this life, all the possibilities of joy I might miss if I don’t die first, to live.

There is more to say . . . the words coming slowly. But I’m going to trust them.

The next place He invites me to go with Him: when the agreement was first made. . . Want to stay tuned?

Do you find there is opposition when you think of the beauty of you being made? Do you accept it readily, or is there a part of you that struggles to be free within that truth, even when you hear it, over and over again? Is there an agreement, girls, that you might need to break?

madeday10series

madesubscribenew

 Psst. . . I was also over at Allume blog today, talking about Holding Life Loosely. And there’s a free printable I made for you all, over there, too! Come on over!

she

She is the one in the beginning, the one who walked and believed there was no where else, no existence, except by His side. She leaned in close, felt gentle strength holding her up, knew nothing mattered except to be near Him, with Him. She had nothing to remember, nothing to forget. Her footsteps were sure and her path clear.

Rain could fall and it would be only drops of promise, of a future only good, only safe, only hope.

she.jpg

She didn’t know yet, what it meant to look beyond herself, see herself, doubt herself, forget she was the one chosen, the one molded with hands who held the earth and shaped the sun and strung heavens out one after another and then another. It was before she found there were other whispers beyond the voice she knew, whispers that come in bright daylight as well as cold night. Whispers that bring with them separation and doubt and death.

She found what comparison and envy and distrust and ugliness and self-worth is, turned vile and hot. She found her beginning and end, the reality of herself without God, what she is without Him, all corruption before Hope comes again and washes what was her, until beginning.

Until beginning.

Begin.

5-minutes of writing, in community, at Lisa-Jo Baker’s. Come on over to read all sorts of other voices, on “She”.

Praying you have the most beautiful weekend, friends.

condition of the heart

Are the consequences of our mistakes punishment by God?

If we believe we’ve heard the voice of God speak to us, and we ignore it, do we think the consequences of our ignoring His words to us, His whisper of the Holy Spirit to our hearts, is the reason bad things happen to us in our lives?

Or, what if we’ve never recognized His voice? What if we don’t yet know Him–or don’t realize we do–and we live far away from Him, independent, alone? Does God stand back, wait for us to turn? Do the repercussions of our behavior ripple from generation to generation, never ceasing, so that the sin is felt and responded to, without ending, through relationships, through countless family ties?

condition of the heart.jpg

I am in a room of women, and the sharing of story, the detailing of lives and choices and regrets and wounds, make the space both holy and beautiful and desperate and sad. I am filled with questions, with the way one sister’s story can feel both so similar and different than another’s.

My mind is spinning, and I think about what I know . . . and how I know the things I know about God: the Father of mine who relentlessly pushes me, with gentleness and firmness, into seeing how sin, separation from Him, brings only pain.

Yes, sin has consequences. We make choices towards relationship with God, and we make choices away from Him. We recognize pieces of His love for us, and we also reject it, turn our back on Him, believing we are the only god in our lives that we need.

I think of the God of Eve, who created her to walk with Him, beside Him, with nothing to hide. (Oh, to walk with the Father, in a garden of beauty, by His side!) And then how she questioned Him, how she thought maybe her ideas of things were better than His.

Sin is what separates us from the Father, although that was never His intention. That was never His plan. He does everything to let us choose Him and find our way back to Him.

Are we finding our way back?

Our God is a Father of unity, not separation. Our God is a Father of joy and hope, not bitterness and pain. It is sin that causes disunity from God, nothing else.

condition of heart dark.jpg

I listen to the stories of sisters and think about how no matter our life experiences, each moment is an opportunity of choice–love God or not. And when something gets in the way of our loving God, it is the sin that has caused the separation. And God is bigger than any sin or any mistake or any regret. Yes, there may be consequences of sin–and it is our bearing of these consequences that lets the old self die so that Christ in us can live anew.

“In reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4: 22-24).

I know first hand the death of old self, again and again. Yes, I want to die–each piece of me separate from Him–to be made new. And why? Perhaps here, a few glimpses . . .

I know the God I know, the One who had me by the hand, as a child, before I realized He was there. The One with whom I felt safe but didn’t know well, but whom I prayed to night after night, the only hope for one of my family members, whom I feared would die and get sick, because of smoking.

I know the God I know, the One who tickled my face with gentle wind as I ran through rows of almonds, barefoot, with both dogs and cats chasing with me, and the squish of the wet mud between my toes, and the crunch of gravel as rain water rushed through with might, down the creek.

I know the God I know, the One who stood underneath the wall clock, in the kitchen, reaching out His arms for me as tension escalated. In the middle of chaos, He showed me there was a way to be whole, in His arms, and dance.

I know the God I know, who cried, underneath a leafless almond tree, as I believed I was more important than anyone, anything. Two decades later I am tired of running, and, finally, He shows me–knowing I am ready now–to see pieces of the effects of sin upon a life, the torn shreds collected, and mended and stronger now, by Him.

I know the God I know, love who rescues and takes me back to moments in my past where I have believed lies, situations where my perception of myself and the girl-woman I was made to be–and my view of God–had been twisted. I know the God who replays the scene of my memory with a new lens. He wants to show me where He was present, whether or not I ever realized it, the whole time.

I know the God I know, a God who gives second chances, who gives us a new way to see the world, I know a God who presses in and encourages us to die, to all the twisted, broken, damaged habits and beliefs that separate us from Him. I know a God who lets us feel pain and feel the results of living life without Him, if we want. And I know a God who never stops pursuing, never stops loving, never stops caring.

I know the God I know, who aches for this world, for the ways His children are desperate to die and be born again.

Yes, there are consequences for sin, but Jesus doesn’t need to die again to give you life again, in Him. Just once, friend. Just once. The pain of sin, the pain of our past, the pain of our present is where He comes, where He is present, where He refuses to ignore and turn away.

This life is hard, and it is filled with hope. This life is painful, and is filled with healing. This life is brutal, and it is filled with beauty.

I don’t have answers, only questions. But that’s okay. I know what I know. And I will surrender the lies that come telling me my God cannot be trusted. For this isn’t head knowledge I’m talking about. It’s a condition of the heart.

How do you wrestle with these questions, girls? What does your heart know about God?

Linking up with Jennifer and other story tellers.

red

The word gets kind of caught up in my mouth, near the back of my throat, when I read the prompt: Red. I’m not sure why and I’m afraid to think about it, so I just start typing, trusting that it will just come out with the letters pressed down, one by one.

Click. Click.

Oh, yes, I know. I know why. I think I did before I started and now I just don’t want to get it down.

Red

 

 

 

It’s the color of life washed down, of rivers of veins pumping and the salty sticky smell, sweet and sour, the thickness on legs. I went right on to basketball practice the next day, you know. I had the appointment and the cramping, like they said, started in fierce, and this sixteen year old didn’t know there would be pain.

She was doing everything she could to escape it. And she lay on the sofa, in muted colors, pale pink and dusty white and darkish gray, watching the television flicker in and out while her teenage boyfriend changed the channel and his older sister tried to sooth her and pretend she didn’t know a thing about what was going on.

And the red kept coming, but not enough to stop her from doing what she thought was the responsible thing: keep going, don’t change lanes, stay the straight course, the sure one. Keep running where you know the end in sight. Don’t let that light turn now . . .  red.

Writing for five fast minutes, with the community of writers over at Lisa-Jo’s welcoming place.

In the middle of night

I squirm deeper into the bed, pressing my head into the soft pillow. That ache started again, the one of regret, of sorrow heavier than the weight of a simple mistake. I have no opinions about the pain, this heartache. It does not make me feel better, more forgiven, somehow, to feel the heavy guilt of my choice some twenty plus years ago. I don’t make myself think on it, as memory itself. I don’t believe God wants me to revisit the desperate ache that comes with it, just for the sake of feeling guilty. I don’t will myself to remember as some kind of self-inflicted punishment in order to ask God’s forgiveness, again.

But the regret comes, despite His forgiveness. God’s forgiveness about our sin doesn’t make the reality of the sin itself easier to accept.

in the middle of night

The story of my abortion is listed in a little  “About” tab on the top of the menu of my blog. It reads “Testimony“, and I keep it there, though I don’t like to think about it much. But I leave it because for me, it proclaims hope–our Father’s tenderness to us, a testament to His lovingkindness despite a daughter’s desperate brokenness and sin.

And I like to think about God’s lovingkindness. I like to think about the truth of Him and not forget what I am, without Him.

God’s amazing tenderness, His kindness, His presence, renews me. Yet I am never without the weight of this sin, this guilt, despite His forgiveness. Once and a while, even after more than twenty years, the reality of what I did breaks me all over again, and my chest tightens from the weight of the memory, my lungs struggling to find air enough to breathe.

I just finished a best-selling nonfiction book (finally, after starting it last summer, on a camping trip, and putting it down again until this summer). The narrator is a woman telling the story of her experience walking the Pacific Coast Trail, for months, on her own. She mentions in a single sentence within the first chapters that right before she set off on her adventure, she has an abortion. . . And there was no more word about it.

As the author, she is looking back, telling about her experience nearly twenty years hiking the trail. And there is no mention of sorrow, of struggle, of regret. I read that book with curiosity, trying to have an open heart. Chapter after chapter, I wondered if one of the ways she would grow, in her experience, would be to see the truth of what she had done and feel regret. I was judging her. I was confused by her not talking about it, even once, during the rest of the book. I didn’t understand how it could be talked about so casually. I wished she had never brought it up at all.

Perhaps that isn’t her story.

I wonder about you now, reading this . . . I wonder if there is regret from your past that ever surfaces. I wonder if you know you are forgiven. I wonder if the reality of God’s amazing love for you makes your past feel almost impossible to take in.

His love is so great. I am so undeserving of it. I must just accept, in faith this truth: it is impossible to reconcile the past. But God’s woos us to Himself with His kindness.

” . . the kindness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4).

I grow tired, weary of thinking about my sin, the past I would do anything to change. I turn my face to Him. The tears fall faster now, soaking my pillow as I feel His hand on my head, His hand pulling back my hair. His words, so sweet, so undeserving, “You, daughter, are beautiful.”

When part of you is dying

Sometimes, words just need to be said aloud. I needed to do that here, girls. I am a bit serious, but trust me . . . There is joy, at the end of it all.

Apiece of me is dying right now. After all the prayers, on my knees, over the years and all the small deaths I’ve died already, there are always more deaths to die.

That’s the way it is, girls, isn’t it? Death welcomed or death rejected?

I am torn by the question: do I want part of me to die?

He says in yesterday’s Loop, “Planting”,

“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.

Deep breath.

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.

This is what I posted at the You Are My Girls Facebook community page yesterday:

“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?

Linking this post with the beautiful God-sized Dream community at Holley Gerth’s and with the courageous story-tellers at Jennifer’s (#tellHisstory).

It might be time to get up now

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.

Girl it might be time to get up

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.

Rejecting Grace

[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.”

“Why?”

“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.

And, oh, how I just want to earn Your grace somehow, Father, and I can’t.  I want to go back and fix it all, go back to that moment, under the tree, when I made that decision . . .

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.

I am dust and He plants His fingers in it, bending low, writing in it my new name, reminding me He does not condemn me, all while I expect to be stoned.

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?

Sharing with Jennifer:

And with Ann and Emily:

New Life Kiss

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?

Heart-thankful for

      • 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

I am happily linking to Ann Voskamp’s Multitudes Mondays, as well as L.L. Barkat’s ( The Wellspring), and to Laura Boggess’ (Seedlings In Stone) beautiful blogs.

On In Around button

Warrior Daughter

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.

And fail.

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 follow.

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.

Will you, sister and friend, come, too?

Birthing Pains

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?

Psalm 73:21-28

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.

Click here if  you like to have posts delivered  right to your email inbox, or  here, if would you like to connect more with His girls and like us on Facebook.  Would love to connect with you!

I Know

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.

Please, God, change me.  I want to love differently than this.  Please change this hard heart so it is soft.

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.

I know what is is like to think I have hope in a big God — One who is mighty, all powerful, a God whose very hands formed the world, whose very words brought light from darkness, brought life from dust.

And I know what it is like to not know Him, trust Him — when these beliefs about Him are just information in my head, not actions that reveal a heart with faith in who He truly is.

My choices, my actions, reveal if I even know Him.  I can’t hide what I truly believe.

I know what it is like to dig in, stubborn, wanting to win a fight, believing love is conditional upon another person’s actions.  I know what it means to to not choose love simply because He did.

I know what it is like to want to change by my own willpower, to try to conjure up kind thoughts, a productive mind, a strong body, a desire to do good things all on my own.  I know what it is like to believe I am strong when I feel like I don’t need a soul.

I know what it is like to think I have faith in a God who could fix this brokenness in me.  I know what it is like to think His granting me a gentle, forgiving, loving, peaceful, joy-filled, rejoicing heart wouldn’t be too much to ask — and that I wouldn’t need to change how I think, how I speak, how I live.

I know what it is like to not want to do any of the work, if it is hard.

I know what it is like to not want to give in to Him — to have a heart unyielding to discomfort and change — to be unwilling to concede that in my letting go and trusting Him I will discover what it means to have faith.

I know what it is like to feel alone (although I know, in my head, He never leaves).

I know what it is like to fall, to fail, to cry out in desperation, to feel like I am dying when my spirit struggles against the giving up of the lies — the darkness in me that has made me my own god and kept me distant, guarded, and proud.

I know what is is like to feel that I am  moving in circles when the same issues resurface, the familiar fights and struggles return and I am overwhelmed, again, and finally have to turn.

I know what it is like to finally let His light shine on the dark places in me and the Light has been so bright that I have fought it, not wanting to face it, not wanting to face Him.

I know what it is like to turn away from God, feeling overwhelmed by what surrender will require, resistant to the truth that I will finally be released from these chains and free.

I know what is is like to take steps toward Him even when I don’t feel like it, and when I don’t even know how.

I know what it is like to begin to see, and trust, and believe that His love is enough.

I know what is like to die to live.  And I know what it is like to fail, and have the peace come when I let Him pick me up.  And I know what it is like to have to do it again and again and again.

Hard Love

In the orchard, cold ground, although just December in California, and she wants to end it here.

This choice, the weight of the decision before her is that she thinks she has no choice.  Her life, the self-absorbed focus on her life, only hers, creates the walls of the darkness.  This garden is not the garden where Jesus wept, heart shaking, for the journey His heart prepared to endure.

Her bare legs pressed into the dark soil and she thinks about herself, her dream, her image, the lies pressing in and choking her in the darkness.  The love of self, the desire to put oneself on the throne, above Him, has already squelched the life in her and then killed the chance of the life in her that was not hers to take away–and all she thinks, to survive.

Hard love.

It is not this.  Rather, it is choosing to sacrifice, to give it all, for another, no matter the cost, knowing exactly the cost, and doing it anyway.

Hard love.  And He came next to her in the darkness, 20 years later she sees it; she never knew He was there all along.  Kneeling there, bare almond branches overhead, and He loves.  Here, in the darkest places of the heart.  He loves.  He comes.  He rescues.  He redeems.

 

Above is what I wrote in a “5 minute Friday” with Lisa-Jo, at The Gypsy Mama.  She offers the challenge of  writing “for 5 minutes flat with no editing or tweaking”.  She encourages “let’s  just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.”  I encourage you to jump on over and join in!

I Declare

i-declare-003

I am Your daughter, Your chosen one.  I am no mistake.

I reject that I am not enough, that my life is small, that the the eyes You have given me, the heart that yearns to align with Yours, to break for the hurting, to cry out, in the darkness, for more light, is not powerful.  With You, Father, I stand.  With Your Son, I walk, holding tight, wanting nothing to separate me from Love.

I reject the lie that I have no voice, that my life is not significant, that I have nothing to contribute, that the place where You have me lacks meaning.

I reject that I am alone, that I am isolated, that no one understands the cries of the world’s pain.  I reject that You don’t hear my prayers, that You don’t speak, that You only speak to the chosen, that You have favorites, that You love some more than others.  I reject that I am lost and could never be found.

I declare that You have taken my sin, the darkness of my heart, You take it now, the frustration of my heart, my caring what anyone else thinks other than You.  Let me be obedient and not want to own any outcome.  This life is not mine.  Remind me Father, and take it, again:  It is Yours.   Let me see only Your face  . . .

I declare with all the Saints that You are all I need, that I will stand with You, go where You call me to go, claim this voice You have given me and that Satan has tried to hide.

I declare that I will not hide from this heart–that at its foundation, my beginning, my being knit together, You in me, I am good, I am holy, and that You are big enough to take away any darkness that lurks and wants to lessen my faith.

I declare that I will take up my sword and fight this battle with You, my Lord, that You have come and defeated all darkness and I stand with You, fighting now, for the hearts of the women around me, the hearts of the people You call me to love, with Your love, the lives that You awaken me to, the lives You love more than Your own.  Let me love like that, Father. Let me forget myself, stand with Your truth in me, see only Your face, and Love.

I will not accept anything less.  I don’t even know what Love is without You.

And You show me.

i-declare-001

And I say this knowing, from the truth You give me, that You bring glory to this world.   I say this knowing that You have come to share with us the glory that You had with the Father before You came, the glory that was within You, because of the glory of Him in You.   You brought down Life to us when You came.

Spirit, You are in me. With You in me, I have that Glory, too.  I have the Father in me, too.

My life is only for the purpose of being loved by You and, from that Love, pointing hearts to You.  I don’t do that well, Father, unless I lay down all in me that threatens to get in the way, all lies that want to penetrate and stick, all wounds that I don’t want to surrender for You to heal, all ways that I want to keep in the darkness and not bring into the Light.

Bring me into the Light, Jesus.  Let me stay there, Your eyes on my face, my eyes locked with Yours.  Hold me close, give me strength to love.

You came, Jesus, as a voice to the broken, to mend our hearts, to bring hope and make ashes rise from death and bondage to freedom and Life.

Humble me, Father.  Take this life.  Let me rise, loving well, with You.