How Confession, Gratitude and Joy Go Hand in Hand

Confession, Gratitude, JoyA friend reminds me last week, how gratitude is an act of defiance–wielding a sword against the struggles of this world. She searches for beauty, knowing she will find it if she searches for it with God’s heart, eyes focused on Him rather than the pain and suffering the world wants her to focus on–and be pulled down by– instead.

And then another friend, a friend who lives across the waters, this morning–this morning that I am up hours earlier than usual because it is Thanksgiving break here and I feel I have a million things to do and a million things to accomplish before the house stirs. (Because it is launch week for Loop, and did you hear that Loop is releasing earlier–this Friday, November 28–and you’re going to need to come back on Friday to find out some additional fun news? ) And she speaks on the radio (scroll to 26.:13 to hear Nicky’s segment) about how gratitude is what pulls us out from a posture of survival and to one of joy. It is where we see Jesus’ face.

I needed to remember these things.

So, with the voices of my sisters as a balm for my heart, I am reminded of how God sees me–and how it is difficult for me to see what He sees–and be grateful for it–when I don’t confess to Him my insecurities and my distractions by this world. Below are words I wrote in January. They are ones I needed to read again today. I am eager to hear how you are this day, and how He is reaching for you, too.


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

I know I had better not stall.

confession, gratitude, joy

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

Renounce it. Reject it.

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

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

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

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

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

confession, gratitude, joy

confession, gratitude, joy

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

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

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

confession, gratitude, joy

confession, gratitude, joy

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

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

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

But I can’t.

confession, gratitude, joy

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

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

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

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

confession, gratitude, joy

confession, gratitude, joy

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

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

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

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

HOW CONFESSION, GRATITUDE, & JOY GO HAND

The 1Thing to Do When You Mess Up

The 1 Thing to Do When You Mess UpThe day started off fine. But we didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before. So, we do the awkward stumble of trying not to be irritated at one another. In these situations we hold it together pretty well, for a while.  But it doesn’t take much for a light-hearted conversation to turn into a discussion we never wanted to have.

Early morning at the coffee shop, we get in the wrong line and silently blame the other one for not moving over to the right one fast enough. And then the silent blaming isn’t silent any more. And I wish I didn’t do what I do, so easily, think about winning an argument, justifying my position, rather than seeing where Jesus is, in that line with me, observing His posture, feeling His hand reaching for mine.

I forget He is here.

I forget He is in me.

I forget I am filled with light–when I choose Him.

I forget I am more than this, what I see, what I feel, what I hear, what I speak. I am all these things, but I am more, too. Because I am the warrior-daughter who is called to follow her King and lead with fierce, tender love.

When I, in my weakness as a human, do not use the Holy Spirit’s strength in me to rise about my present circumstances, I neglect the crown He places upon my head. I deny His life in me. I reject His sacrifice, His strength that is mine.

Justin and I sit across from each other in the chilly upstairs room of the cafe and I ask for his forgiveness. And I ask for my King’s forgiveness, too.

I confess I am, at my core, selfish and weak, without the light and life and hope of my Savior.

So I begin again, not trying harder, in my own strength, to do better. No, I am through with attempts to try harder at loving. Rather, I surrender. I lean back into Jesus and turn into him.

I don’t ask Jesus what he wants to say. I don’t ask him to help me do a better job of loving my husband. I don’t ask him to help me be more giving, more considerate and selfless. I turn into him. I choose to turn. I choose to remember him.

I choose to see Jesus–not choose to look for him, but choose to see him.

For our Savior is not hiding. And he is not aloof. And he is not disappointed in our mess ups. He loves and he loves and he loves. And it is in the act of his loving that we turn into him. And we are healing here. And we are safe here. And we are ourselves here.

So, this day, want to join me in practicing turning?

Turning into Jesus.

After all, it’s all any of us can ever do.

It’s all we ever need.

May I pray for you, His girl, as you turn towards your King? What prevents you from turning? Or, how does it feel to turn? Can you respond here, with one word? And I will pray.

The 1 thing to do YAMG pin

Wield Your Sword

Wield Your Sword

 

It wasn’t just what she said. It was the way she said it, too. This friend of mine, this sister across the miles with whom I spoke on the phone for hours. This sister whom I have yet to meet face to face.

Her voice and her laughter. Her conviction of how this life can only be living, truly, if we are willing to wield a sword.

She makes me wonder where I wield one–and how I move with my King in battle, a King who goes before, saying onward, go forward, I am with you; you do not need to be afraid.

About your past.

Ab0ut your sin.

About your family.

About your finances.

About your decisions.

About this moment.

Wield your sword when you wake. Wield your sword when you work. Wield your sword with your King who fights before you, asking you if you trust him, if you see him, if you want to follow him and stay with him or cower, afraid and behind.

He will stay with you, if you stay.

He will remain close, his arms circling you, his breath warm on your wet cheek. But he stays here until you are willing to wield your sword. Because to fight on your behalf he asks for your permission.

To fight on your behalf he asks if you believe. To fight on your behalf, he asks you if you are coming. To fight on your behalf, he asks if you will take up your sword, the one he has designed for you and placed, like a glove, in your hand.

It is the sword you are meant to carry. A sword of courage and humbleness. A sword of fearlessness and gentleness. A sword of action, not passivity. A sword of trusting and listening. A sword of leadership and obedience. He leads and you follow and others follow and wield their swords too.

You wield your sword and your sisters and your daughters and your brothers and your family and your friends — they see you with your sword and they believe and they are encouraged and they see him in places they didn’t know he could be seen.

In the darkness of caverns deep, where only cracks of light get in. And your sword lights the way, the sword that reflects his light, your sword that carries with it his voice and his sacrifice. For you. He carries you as you wield your sword and you do not to fight any battle on your own.

But you must fight. You must press in to his light and let it shine all over you. Let it pour down, that light of him. Let it cover you, girl. For you have a mountain to climb. And there are thorns on the path. And there are rocks and boulders. And there are ruts in this road that threaten to trip you up. But keep your eyes on him, girl, and wield your sword and carry on.

Tread that precarious path he has laid out, the one where daughters who are fearless will follow. And there is healing there, when you follow him, wielding your sword.

You are the daughter who is fearless.

You are the daughter who is strong.

You are the daughter who holds up her head; she raises it high, and she does not yield against the enemy who says she is only worth what people say she is worth, what the world says she is capable of.

Wield your sword, choosing to see, choosing to look for beauty and truth and light despite the darkness of the walls that close in.

For I speak to you from one who has been prayed over, who has heard the words of  a sister who goes ahead, radiant in the light of her Father. She wields her sword and says come on now, let’s go. It is good here, with him,  It is good here, where he goes, even though I can’t see the path. I can see him. I can see him. And that is all I need.

My sister wields her sword and I wield mine and together we carry our instruments of battle–his truth, his heart in us, his healing as he speaks and we hear him and choose to see, choose to listen, choose to believe.

He is good.

He is here.

He is on this path with you, right now.

So come on, my sister. Come on His girl. Wield your sword.

It feels good in your hand.

Let’s march forward, our King before us, together.

 

Today? This weekend? How might you be looking for Jesus, raising your sword, seeking him for strength and courage? What is it you face? I’d love to pray for you.

You Think You Have No Voice? Listen Carefully Now

Voice? Listen Carefully Now.What is voice? How does one discover it, hear it, claim it? Why do we want it? Why do we thirst for it, search for it, wish we had it?

You know what it is. You know why you want it more than anything.

Because it is how you are made, His girl. You are made to live out that Voice.

It is to your voice that the Voice calls, my sisters. It is to your voice that He calls because you are made to sing loud with your voice–the beauty of you, the delicate-messy-wild-wonderfulness of how He made you.

Or whisper it.

Or place it gently around you.

Or wear it, bold and brazen, for the sake of the voices of the ones who believe, still, their voice is not heard. Or not meant to be heard. Or not worth being heard.

Oh, yeah, those are the voices who need your voice. Those are the voices who need you to listen to the Voice in you. Those are the voices who cry silent tears in barred, cold rooms. The rooms where their voice is silenced.

Because the Voice in them is yet unrecognized, unnoticed. They hear only a tenuous hush, a meek murmur. They don’t hear yet the Voice calling, inviting them to sing.

So, that Voice in you? Listen closely to it now.

Listen to it’s whisper. What you love. What makes you smile.

Listen to it’s song. What you are made to do. What makes you angry, frustrated, sad.

Listen to how it is fullness within you, the way it gestures, and encourages, the way it tantalizes and promises only what is true: you are special, here, in this place, with Me.

And you know how you hear it? Do you know how you know it’s song?

You have to practice listening to it. That Voice within you? It is meant to be heard, by you, in the way that you hear, in the way that you live–with your passions and your talents, with your imagination and your faith.

With your voice.

You practice listening to the Voice within you by living out loud with your own voice.

Living out loud in the quiet, deep inside you, in the place where He calls you, deep, deep inside.

You recognize the Voice through practicing–heeding how your voice depends upon the One Voice. How the voice you crave, you need, you chase down, is always in you.

So listen.

And sing out.

Loud now.

In the quiet.

And then.

Then.

We/you need to hear that v/Voice.

What is one challenge you face in trusting God’s voice speaking, living, within you?

Our God is Not Silent, Love

coffee shop

To all the girls

conversation 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay here. Free. Rescued.

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


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


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

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

Break Me

break me flowers fade
From me

conversation 27

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

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

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

And I don’t like to mess up.

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

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

You love me like this, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

She does.

She does.


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

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

I Sing Loud Your Praise

sing loud

For J.

conversation 26

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

Carry It On, My Love

carry on my loveFor T.

conversation 24

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

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

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

Carry it on my love

carry it on my love

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

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

With her, wherever I was, I was home.

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

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

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

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


carry it on my love

carry it on my love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can’t try harder now, love.


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


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

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

Then. Always. Now.

Then. Always. Now.For P.

conversation 21

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are the one I choose.

You are the one I’ve always wanted.

You are the one I want to be with.

Then. Always. Now.


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


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

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

Stay Here, My Love. I Stay.

stay here my love I stay

From Me

conversation 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

stay here,

my love.

I stay.

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

stay here,

my love.

I stay.

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

stay here,

my love.

I stay.


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

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

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

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

With my voice.

With my love.

With my hope.

With my light.

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

stay here,

my love.

I stay.


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


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

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

I Love You The Same

I love you the same

For H.

conversation 14

I have heard you call my name, in the night, and when the sun rises bright and quiet through the white window frames. I am stirring, Lord. You have called me and I am waking up. You whisper to me, through pages, through letters of typed black, in scrawls on paper, in song and the quiet whispers settling gentle in my heart.

I am your dear one, I know, although I struggle to feel that way sometimes. Are you happy with me, God? I know you love me, but are you happy with what I’ve done, with my choices, my decision with time? I am uncertain about how my days are supposed to be spent.

I want to be the wise woman. I want to be the certain one. I want to go forward with confident certainty. Don’t be frustrated with me, God. Don’t let me go through these days and not stop me if I am doing something wrong. I want to know. I want to know if I am messing up, if I am turning right when I am supposed to turn left. I fear not being faithful. I fear going through this life and not doing enough, being enough. I crave contentment, certainty, a knowing, deep within my heart that I live, with a full heart.

You have made me brave; let me be brave. You have made me intelligent; let me pursue you with fire and delight. You have made me fierce; let me seek you and set on fire the hearts of the people around me—that they see me and see that gentle, quiet contentment that comes from knowing you and following you.

I am yours, Father. Let me stay here, in that knowing. I am here. Let me not run away and search for hope and meaning anywhere else.


I love you the same

My daughter, deep breath now. I have chosen you, and yes, I come and bring soft places for you to land. My arms, here, are where you find who you are. I love how you ask me questions. I love how you stay here with me. This is so good. Will you stay, here, a little longer, child?

You are my treasure, a light shining in dark places. Take me with you, my heart within you, as you speak, as your walk, as you serve. And that serving, my girl? It isn’t something you need to strive to do. Just love me. Love me first. Be with me first. Stay with me first. All the answers to these questions will be clear.

You know how to stay here. Your heart is quieted with me. I smooth back your hair and I am quiet, with you. You don’t need to do a thing, you know. You are with me and you respond, naturally, to me in you. It is what you breathe. It is how you feel free.

So lean back against me, my love. You are my precious one, the one in whom I delight. You will be loved tomorrow the same as I love you now, this day.


Song to listen to: “A Little Longer” Jenn Johnson and Bethel Music


This is day 14 of Voice: 31 Conversations: Click the image below to find out more.  Subscribe to follow along each day!

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

For You Shine Bright, My Love

You Are Bright

For J.

conversation 13

Oh, it’s been cloudy here, God. This heart of mine drifting, unsure of what it feels. Sleeplessness can do this, I know. For I am so tired, stumbling through days with this precious life, my newborn, swaddled close. You journey me back home, where family is, and I am sure you are here.

Take me up close now, God. Take me in deeper. Take me where I hear you, where I feel you, where I recognize you, through the haze of my sleep-deprived state.

There is color all around and I want to step out into it. There is music singing. I can hear it in the trees, the aspens stretching gold fingers to blue sky and shouting aloud your name.

Help me shout with my whole heart, my Father. Help me to sing out loud this beauty you give me. Help me to inhale your rest, ingest you food. Let your words sink deep into my heart, your presence all around letting me rise.

You shine so bright, my Lord. Your holy presence fills me and equips me for standing. With you I sing and I stand.


My bright shining one, there is color all around you. You radiate hope my darling. You illuminate me.

I see you. I know you. You are given rest. You are loved and not forgotten. You are found and held.

You are my darling one who speaks healing with her words. You are my song, my poemia, my crafting of beauty when it stays and doesn’t fight and lets me show you how special you are, in my name.

My lovely one, close your eyes now. For I am here, in the turmoil. I am here, in the chaos. I am here, in the uncertainty. I am here, in the wondering of what’s next and when and how.

You, my shining one, know how to rescue because I’ve rescued and I am here, in the beauty of this moment, asking you to let me hold you close. No searching for me is required, just an acknowledgment of your desiring me. For you are made to desire me, and here, in the desire, I speak love and restoration into your heart.

There is more for you, in the staying close, in the trusting me, in the letting me hold your heart.

you shine bright


Song to listen to: “I Am Yours,” by Misty Edwards


Join me here each day, sisters, for this 31 Day series. Subscribe and you will get each day’s Voice slipped quietly into your inbox each morning. And click here to read Voice, from the beginning.

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

How Light Shines in the Dark

For L.

conversation 7

Jesus, I sit here in the dark, looking for light. Everything feels still, but inside I am churning. Can I just curl up next to you? I tuck my knees underneath my chin, bare feet on wooden floor. Yes, sit here, too, will you?

Yes, you’re already here.

I can lean up against you, your chest rising aginst my shoulder, your breath against the top of my head. And I listen to my breathing. In. Out. It’s the only thing I’m going to focus on now. No thinking. And I feel your breathing, too. Yes, keep your arms around me, will you? Will you let me stay here? Because I am tired and I don’t have answers for how to fix me, how to fix him, how to change this mess.

Oh, God, can I go back to the beginning? Can you let me rewrite that one day, and the other one too? Can you show me what I can do, how our hearts can be wiped clean and taught to trust one another and have joy with one another? Oh Jesus, can you remind me what it means for my whole heart to feel light and free and joy-filled? It is possible for a heart to know how to smile?

I’ve grown up knowing how to smile, how to fix, how to make things beautiful, but this isn’t the beautiful I want anymore. I want your kind of beautiful. I want your kind of real life. But I can’t bear to step outside, away from your heart beating. I am scared and I am tired and I just don’t know how this whole thing is going to get better.

For it is still dark here. And it is still still. Can you fill me with your laughter? Can you fill me with your hope? Can you fill me with your strength? Can you fill me with your light?

I crave wisdom, Jesus. I want to see the path and see my feet on it and hear your voice in my ear. This is the way. Walk in it. I don’t want to leave you. I want to stay here with you, your arms wrapped fast around me.

Do I have what it takes to love with a new heart, God? Do I have what it takes to start over, believe in light flooding in to dark places, even the places I can’t transform, on my own?

Oh, God, I want to change, but does it make a difference if he doesn’t change, too? What do I do? How is this going to work?

But it has to. And I know that anything is possible with you.


My daughter, I will stay here with you. I will stay here as long as it takes. Holding you, drawing you in close to me, is what I love to do most. I’m not going anywhere.

I love sitting here, too, you know. I love having you close. I will stay her with you. I will never leave you, if you want me to stay.

Yes, it is nice here. I love to comfort you. I love to remind you how precious you are to me. I stay here, with you, listening to the rise and fall of our chests. It’s nice here, you know. You with me.

See that window there? Do you see that hint of golden shining through, as the sun can’t help but come in? You can’t close out light, child. You can ignore it, or try to escape it. But if you want to see it, you see it by knowing it’s there, even if you only feel darkness all around you. The light is large enough to cover everything, each piece of darkness that wants to remain. No darkness stays dark. No problem stays the same, when the light touches it. Even if the darkness looks and feels the same, upon our touch. It is being changed. Darkness can’t stand against the light.

I stay here with you, watching light come in. I stay here with you, helping you choose to desire light. I stay here with you, teaching you what light feels like on your skin, upon your face, how it can reach all the dark places–in each corner of this room and all the places in your heart.

Ask me where you want the light to shine. Ask me how you can make it shine in places, too. Take my light in you and raise it high and nothing can stand to not be changed. Nothing can stand to not be affected by light shining bright and tall and wide. In my name, child, light challenges all darkness and battles and wins.

I have come and given you light and I hold you in it and you are filled with it and you are not the same as you were before. And all who see you and hear you and stay with you are responding to my light in you. And that light, my darling girl, let’s nothing stay the same.


Song to listen to: “The More I Seek You“, Steffany Gretzinger {Friends, this song, is one of my favorite, favorite, favorites . . although the quieter version by Kari Jobe, is the one I listen to all the time.}


Join me here each day, sisters, for this 31 Day series. Subscribe and you will get each day’s Voice slipped quietly into your inbox each morning. And click here to read Voice, from the beginning.

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

I Know What You Miss

For H.

conversation 6

Dear God, it’s quiet here, and I think I’m okay with the quiet. But I miss him, that boy of mine who had to go to you, so soon. He was so little, God, and I’m not sure I understand why some people have to experience so much pain while others seem to go on, in this world, with little tragedy striking. Is that true, that some of us experience more pain than others? Or, do we each experience similar degrees of suffering, but just different kinds?

Why did he have to suffer, God? And is it okay that I miss him so much? Is it okay that I struggle to not be sad with his being gone? Oh, God, he was our son.

Do you know pain, God? Is it love that causes us to feel so deeply, to be filled with so much sorrow and distress, when someone we love goes away? Would we not feel this pain if it weren’t for love? Sometimes I wonder if I can bear this pain, if I can keep going—and I feel guilty about this when you have given us other children to love and raise. And when you have never left my side.

Still, why do some people’s children live long lives and others die? Why do some people not get sick and others suffer? Why do children die and why do their parents live?

It is interesting how we use words, so carefully, to describe something terrible happening. We use the phrase “tragedy striking”—like the experience is something removed from us. But this is not removed from me. This is not far away, but real. And I know it’s real to you, too.

You brought him to us and you took him and I know you have him but I miss him. I miss holding him, God. I also miss how he smelled. And I miss the feeling of his skin on mine. I miss his cries and his smiles.

Oh, God, you continue to heal this heart of mine. You have not given more than I can bear. But I miss him, and I know he is with you. Please, keep healing me. Please keep me close and protect my heart.


My daughter, there is something I want you to know: I never left him. I held him each day. I was was with him before he was born. I was with him the day he breathed his first breath. I am with him, even still, beyond the moment when he breathed his last. It isn’t over, my darling.

Your heart, I know, feels like it will burst some days. Your heart feels too heavy for you to rise, on some. But I made you, my girl, and I made him, too, and I am with you, from the beginning, to the end.

I want you to know something else, my dear: with me there is no end. This suffering, this pain and stretch of time when life feels so long and so hard . . . there will be an end to this pain. And I have come, and I have restored you, and I have called you mine. You are mine.

You have seen me hold him. You have seen me with him. You know you have never been alone, and that I’ve walked with you and that his laughter will never be forgotten by you, his smile will be what your heart, forever, knows.

But I want you to know this, too: I know your smile, and I know how you love, and I love your questions and your yearning. I love your desires and your dreams. Those dreams of yours are ones I want you to give me. You are made to be with me, trusting me, letting yourself believe in what feels possible because anything is possible with me. I have held you, in the hard moments, and I have never left you. I know his absence feels so much to bear, but you also know I’ve given you a strength that you recognize as mine, in you.

I give you faith. I give you hope. I give you the ability to dream and seek me. There is so much more I have for you, my daughter. Want to come and see?


Song to Listen to: “God So Loved,” United Pursuit Band


Join me here each day, sisters, for this 31 Day series. Subscribe and you will get each day’s Voice slipped quietly into your inbox each morning. And click here to read Voice, from the beginning.

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

 

Awake and Running

VOICE a journey towards life (1)

conversation 3

For N.

I am awake to you, Father. I am standing tall now, looking for you. I want to run, and I want to dance. I want to feel the fresh grass under my toes and the dewdrops that appear in fresh morning light. You are holy and so beautiful, God.

I am here, with you, in the place where the sun rises just across the hill. I am not sleeping any longer. My soul awakes, and I am seeing.

I am looking for you and you’re letting me find you. I am looking for you and you are letting me touch you. I am looking for you and you are letting me see the color of your eyes, the ways your eyelids close over beauty, the way your hand feels when it is closed firmly around mine.

You’ve got me, and I love it here. I don’t want to go anywhere else. Help me stay here, in this place with you. For it is lovely and it is peace-filled, and I know I can do anything and go anywhere when I am here, with you.

I got weary sometimes, Father, from work and the time I spend sitting and trying so hard to be helpful. You’ve given me this heart to love and to feel your Spirit in me, whispering words to me. I can hear you, when I pause. And I can see you, when I stop and seek you. And I wonder if this place of sitting here, working each day, commuting so long to my job, being stuck in traffic and being in this leadership role, is the way I can truly serve you.

When I am with you I know who I am and I am content, not restless, but still. But I struggle to stay with you, in the long hours at work, and in the night when I am exhausted. I want to disappear then, open a magazine and see what things I could buy. I want to go shopping with girlfriends and leave the stress of everything behind. How do I stay here, in the middle of stress, in the middle of tough decisions, in the middle of weariness, when I fear I’ll fail to find you?

Are you here, in the daily mess of my everyday? Are you here, when I am not seeking you? Are you here, when I am striving and I am going and I am not looking for you at all? Are you only here when I am open to you being here? Are you only here for me to find you when it occurs to me I need you? What happens when I forget I need you? What happens when I need you desperately but I am, in reality, running far away?


My darling, do you think you can ever run away from love? Do you think you can stay away from your home? I don’t force my way into your heart. I pursue you, yes, but I don’t push my way in. And you know this. You know what it is like to be with me and to look for me, yes.

Do you know how I love to watch you, no matter what you are doing? Do you know I have formed you, just like this, to move with grace? I fill you with grace. I fill you with me.

Don’t fret, my dear. Don’t worry about the weariness and the disquiet and the restlessness you feel from the work I’ve given you to do. Practice looking for me during the day, when you are at work, just like you do when you are still, with me. For you know what it is like to be with me.

Know that I am present with you, my darling, even when it feels I am far. In your work and in your play, there is no place I don’t want to be with you. Don’t worry about doing your days right, whether you are doing a good job or not doing a good job of seeing me or looking for me. Choose me by loving what I love. Choose me by continuing to seek me. Choose me by desiring to stay. I am here. I am with you. You know me and I only want to show you more.

It is good you miss me when you have gone away. It is good you recognize how your heart yearns for me, when you are wayward and absent from where you think I am.

But ask me to quiet the fears. Ask me to touch my hand upon your heart and deafen you to thoughts of worry. Be my daughter. Be my girl. Stay. Stay awake. I stay here with you.


Song to listen to: “Fall Afresh“, Bethel Music (feat. Jeremy Riddle)


Join me here each day, sisters. Subscribe and you will get each day’s Voice adventure slipped quietly into your inbox each morning. And click here to read Voice, from the beginning.

 

I Want to Choose to See

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He is a tough one to figure out, this little boy approaching teen who grabs my heart with a smile and pushes me away the next day. A lot of conversations around this house are about how to be kind, how to love well, how to think about the heart of another before oneself.

But I think it is the talking less and showing more that matters most. And I am grateful how he lets me hug him in the mornings, the dark still resting on the house like a blanket hushing us back to sleep. But I’m awake, and he’s awake. And we sit side by side in the dark room just off the kitchen. When the rest of the family sleeps and there is only that one crazy bird outside calling the rest of the neighborhood to wake on up.

I sit here, in the dark, with my son, and I read a note from a sister in England who reminds me “how different God sees!” I can try to begin this day asking Him how He sees. For I can charge right on with my expectations for this day without heeding and listening and waiting.

I push God away so much, without even realizing it much of the time. I get so caught up in whatever it is I want to be doing, not even thinking about Him, that I don’t see that I am doing it. There is that young place in me, still–the girl who pushes back against her Father’s pursuit, His gentle nudge, His arms-out-greeting each morning as I rise.

Come on now, sweet girl, turn. Let me help you see as I see.

So for a while, this day, I will put way words and typing. I will put away cleaning and planning. I will put away wondering and thinking. For it is right now–my right now with Him, that matters. And to be in communion with Him–to even practice being with Him so I can notice how He is with me at all times–is the most important thing for me to do, this day.

In what way, this day, are you choosing to see?

 

Want to Know How to Remember the Most Important Thing?

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This is one of those  posts where I close my eyes and write. I am in that mood where I feel used up, distracted. But I know if I take a deep breath and ask for help, if I ask God for words for what I am feeling, He will give them to me. He does that for us, you know. He wants to restore us and give us glimpses of our true selves. We wants to help us understand our hearts.

Last week I wrote about how being with God doesn’t mean you have to be in a place of quiet. But I am learning how, while my surroundings don’t always have to be quiet–and my actions don’t always have to be quiet–my soul needs to be quiet. I need to be in a state of seeking God, if I want to be most awake to the whispers of God.

Now, I believe this is true: He loves it when we are quiet before Him. He loves it when we choose to put everything down and listen rather than try, so much, to do. I used to believe a good day meant one filled with a completed to-do list, with accomplishing. But now, I am believing the best days are ones when I seek Him and I let Him find me and I desire Him, even when I feel depleted, a mess, or my mind just can’t seem to quiet or slow down.

Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

I like the days when there is space. And I like the days, particularly, when space feels impossible to find but I ask Him to give me some anyway. 

Because He always does.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).

Have you ever tried this?  Prayed for more of God because you desire to be with Him? I am guilty of praying for more of God because I’ve hoped that by spending time with Him I will be a better person, a better version of myself.

But what if being with God is the only way we can experience moments of the fullness in us God sees? What if  the “us” spent away from God is not us at our truest, our most pure and clean?

Now, I know you know this: If we never spend time with God we feel stuck, alone, frustrated. This is because we are not giving our souls what they crave most: God. And with God, when we are in a state of seeking Him, we do what we are made to do: worship God.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37).

I am learning, when I am with God, that the me without God isn’t the person I most want to be. I am learning, when I am with God, I love being with Him. I am learning, when I am with God, I want to be with Him simply because I like being with Him. No other reason.

But the problem is that I forget this.

I forget that being with Him is the best place I could ever be. I forget that being with Him is the only thing that brings me peace. I forget that being with Him is the only place of light and freedom and joy.

And I want these things. And I forget these things when life gets too loud.

It isn’t just in the quiet spaces that we find God. However, being with Him in the quiet spaces helps us recognize Him when life around us–and in us!– feels loud. Finding Him in the quiet helps us hear Him and recognize His voice. Then, when we are loud, when we can’t slow because we feel it just wouldn’t be responsible or prudent or whatever . . . we need to heed our soul’s desire to quiet. We need to heed our soul’s desire to worship Him. 

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

There is a clamor in our souls without God. It is the clamor of hearts who are lost without their Maker. We crave time and adventure with the One who designed us. We can’t do a thing on our own.

But we forget that, don’t we?  We forget how good it is to feel desperate for God. We forget this desperation is beauty. We forget this desperation is freedom. We forget this desperation is peace. We forget our strength is found in being desperate for God.

We forget our strength


Father, help us stay desperate for You. For in that desperation we are most able to breathe. We are most able to think. We are most able to remember the things You have created us to do, the things You’ve created us to love to do.

Help us to dream, God. When we are with You, we are more able to dream. And we like those dreams with You, because in them anything is possible. You increase our faith.  You help us believe that we can do anything with You, too.

We are so loved.

Father, help us here, your girls, to crave you with our whole hearts. Give us glimpses of beauty and delight as we stay close with you.

We remember you said it so perfectly once: “I am your home.”


Is there any other way I can pray for you, His girls? How do you feel about being quiet and seeking God? I’d love to hear . . .

Why I Don’t Love the Term “Quiet Time”

artPaint is thick underneath my finger nails. Turquoise and silver and black chalkboard. I didn’t sit quiet the day I went up into the attic and found the basket full of picture frames, still filled with photos and kids’ art work from preschool five years ago. There is a photo of Justin with Ollie on his shoulders, little boy fingers grasping Justin’s forehead as a handle. And there is a photo of me in the entry of the church nursery before I handed them five-month-old Abby, the baby girl who radiated a joy I wanted to inhale.

The wall in the family room, with the thick black framed bicycle art, was driving me crazy. It needed to go down; I wanted to replace it with something I could make with my hands. I wanted to grab a brush and get out the tools from the basement. I wanted to play music loud in my kitchen, while the kids were in school, and I wanted to make a mess and make beauty and hang it up and look at it when I was done.

There is something about being still with God, with listening and letting my imagination be wide open, that stirs me to want to create. I can be quiet with Him; I can be filled by Him. And then, after being with Him in the stillness, I am both energized and exhausted and can hardly sit still. I usually write during these times–the moments after sitting with God. But this day I wanted to make something beautiful–and tangible–too.

So I stacked up the dozen frames and took out the glass and went out in the backyard and sprayed the back of each rectangle with looking-glass spray. While the glass dried, I got out brushes and small tubes of silvers and blues and layered ocean and sky onto slices of wood. And then Justin came home and screwed the edges of the frames together and we hung the whole thing right up on the wall.

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And I wasn’t quiet while I worked that day. And I wasn’t listening with an attentiveness and a piqued curiosity about God’s thoughts about me there, in the kitchen with the sunlight streaming in. I just knew He was happy with me doing it. I knew it gave him pleasure to see me using things He had given to create something new and surprising and beautiful.

This, in all its mess, is something that makes me smile: Old pieces of wood stacked up in odd angles with blurry silver glass and a funny black chalkboard painted on plastic from a kid’s art frame from Pottery Barn. “Full Life” is what I wrote in my messy scrawl. And on another chalkboard, “create,”  And then on the other chalkboard we have over the kitchen counter, “present.”

quiet time

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And I wanted this to all be mine–a life that is full not because I want to create something–but a life that is full because I am a daughter who creates from God’s pleasure and desires, more than anything, to be present.

I wonder what it looks like for you, after you sit for a bit with God. Are you quieted? Are you excited? Are you exhausted? Are you weary? Are you energized? Are you filled with Him?

One thing I want to throw out the window is an expectation of what time with God is supposed to look like. I’d love to start a conversation here about how creativity and imagination and goodness and beauty feels stifled, unreachable, unattainable, when we feel we just aren’t any good at being quiet with God.

What are some of the ways we hurt each other–and ourselves–when we have narrow expectations about what “quiet” and “stillness”–with God–is supposed to look like? Can hanging out with God be a quietness within us–and stillness and peace attained from knowing who we are and who He is and how, at our core, we are loved?

Is this where anything peaceful and good and beautiful begins?

{Sharing with Jennifer at #tellHisstory.}

 

When We’re Afraid What Will Happen When We’re Alone with God

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Father,  you called me to quiet recently, and I don’t want to ignore it. I can’t hide that part of me that wants to achieve and to produce. I can’t hide that part of me that likes to run hard and loud and fast.

I trip a lot then. And I tire. Again and again I try to run a race all on my own, and you love me so much you let me do it.

So I am here, telling you I am tired of running a race alone. I am tired of trying, so much. I want to run hard this race you’ve given me to run, but I only want to do it with you.

Loneliness comes from shutting you out, from not opening the door, from seeking for the lost piece of me that is only found in you.

I want to love well, God.

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And I want to be quiet with you.

I am yoked with you, and I want you to set the pace.

My friends, here, these girls of yours who gather close and desire you to gather them even closer, are longing for quiet, too. They want to be with you and hear your voice and stay, as long as they can bear it, in the quiet with you. But it’s hard, sometimes.

I want to be married. In the quiet, will you ask me to lay that down?

I am scared of what will happen in the quiet, God. My heart is too heavy, my head is too full. I am afraid to quiet, because the noise inside me feels too loud.

My daughter is hurting, Father. Can I stay here, in the quiet, with You? She is suffering. It is so hard to bear.

I have allowed the busyness of this age get to me so much lately . . . my soul is aching to sit with You.

What do you have to say, God? In the quiet with you I haven’t been speaking. I have been watching you, these pictures of you and me, often as a little girl–sitting in tall grass, yellow wisps of stalks bending near my cheek. Or we have been running, your hand tight around mine. And the hill below is so beautiful and vast and there is water down below and we head to it, and you are laughing. So often, you are laughing.

But, Jesus, I know you cry, too. And I know you ache, too. And I know you draw us close to you with this love of yours that is sometimes too much for us to accept. But we want to see you. And we want to hear you. And we want to know you.

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What do you have to say to these girls of yours, Jesus, who want to sit with you, in the stillness, and be reassured by the presence of the only One who brings hope and light and calm?

My darlings, there is no right or wrong here. (And there is no way you can outrun me, my love.) There is no way you can sit with me and do it wrong.

Yes,the quiet can feel like noise, sometimes. Everything feels amplified when you are trying hard to not be distracted. Or, the noise is welcomed distraction, when you are afraid to sit with me. Don’t be afraid to be with me.

There is not one word I can say now that will convince you to sit with me. There is not one word or story I can share–or encouragement I can offer–when your heart doesn’t want to hear it.

You know I want to be with you. You know I delight in having made you. You know I rescue you. You know I have plans for you that are better than anything you could ever dream up on your own.

But to hear me? To really hear me? That is to simply be with me. You can’t hear me unless you want to be with me. You can’t see me unless you want to see me. You can’t feel me unless you believe I am here. I am here.

I want to be with you, and I am with you. But you have to let go and trust me more than yourself. Let your mind go. Let your emotions open up. Let your heart guide you to deeper places with me.

There are no rules where I am, with you. I take you to deeper places where you are known and you are free. Time with me stirs you to know yourself more.  You see glimpses of who you are, how I see you. No words can convey that. No words can convince you you are mine and you are loved; only time with me will. Only time with me can bring your heart to me. Only time choosing me–time choosing me above anything else–can rescue you, can let me rescue you.

And I want to show you how I rescue you and how I love you and how you are safe here, with me. So take a risk–something new and exactly perfect: Be with me. It is who you are. It is what you are made to do. Be with me. We will stay and we will go and I will awaken in you parts of yourself that have been dead and asleep.

Wake up now, child. Wake up and see the light. It is on you. It is with you. I am here. Sit still with me and we will go places you have always needed to go.

I can’t wait.

LET'S NOT BE AFRAID to be alone with God

Sisters, let’s keep staying in the stillness with Him–a little each day? How amazing to do it together. It may be quiet, but there’s a lot of action here we don’t want to miss out on. What do you think?

Because You Need to Be Free

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I circle the track, trying to get in shape for a December marathon relay with my sister, brother, and brother-in-law. Running is not as easy as it used to be–when high school and college races were what I lived and breathed–and it’s so tempting, instead, to just jump on the bike machine near my desk in the writing studio. (Reading a book while I sit on a machine and pedal to nowhere without having to leave the house? That takes a lot less motivation.)

Running, for me, can be hard. And inconvenient. And–when I’m not yet in shape–painful. But I feel like myself when I do it–like the girl in her dad’s orchard, running between the almond trees, like the woman who wants to listen for God’s voice and have it propel each move she makes.

What we choose to do with our time reveals to us more than just what we love and what we hate to do. What we choose to do with our moments, our days, indicates our response to God’s blueprint when He made us–our living out who we are, who God made us to be. When we say yes to do the things we are made to do, things we do that bring us joy and help us feel the joy of God, in us, we are making the choice to be ourselves.

Why do we spend so much of our days, our weeks, our years, desiring to be anything–or anyone–different?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately: what it might mean to more intentionally seek being only myself. How do I choose to do only things that make me feel the most myself? How do I say no to the temptation to strive to be anything or anyone else? 

I run in circles around the track and consider the question God has been whispering to my heart: how can I be more myself–just myself, perfectly myself–in every choice I make, in each decision that comes, in how I use my time?

What do you do to feel most like yourself?

I realize how tired I am trying to be someone other than whom I’ve been created to be: envy and insecurity sneaks in like gray fog curling quietly around my heart. There are so many moments I have trouble seeing, I have trouble feeling free. When Paul urges the Galatians to stand up for the freedom they have already been given, in Christ, I realize how often I let myself feel just the opposite of free.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you (Galatians 5:1, MSG).

This has been my harness for much of my life: I look at what I don’t have rather than what I have. I look at what I am bad at rather than what I am good at and what I love to do. When we wish we were more organized, more creative, more productive, more talented, more intelligent (and on and on), we’re blind to who we really are. We’re blind to what Christ wants to show us; we’re deaf to God’s whispers to our hearts.

The biggest problem with feeling insecure about ourselves is the very focus on ourselves and our own deficiencies. (What a waste of time! What a waste of a life! What a waste of freedom!) The point of our lives isn’t to focus on how we need to improve. The point of our life is to love Jesus with our whole heart–and to love others, too.

And because we have Jesus right here, we have nothing in the way of living the free life of being ourselves, with Jesus, right now. Can I believe this? Can I choose to focus on who I am in Christ rather than the lies of what I am not?

Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him (2 Corinthians 3:18, MSG).

Christ’s freedom, in our lives, is wasted, when we don’t live, fully, as the person God created us to be.

We are only free, we are only experiencing Christ’s freedom, when we love Christ and the Holy Spirit in us is the voice we listen to above all other voices. The voice telling us we should feel anxious, afraid, nervous, envious, greedy, lustful, impatient, critical, judgmental, unkind is the voice that needs to be silenced in our lives. Only Jesus–only choosing to love Him and let Him show us who we are in Him–will take our eyes off the imperfections in ourselves and focus on the perfection of Him. And His perfection and goodness will inspire us to live the freedom that is always there for us to experience and live.

I think I’m going to keep thinking about this–but do more than just think about it, too. But first, I want to think about my God and how He loves me. I know He is going to help me, with everything I am, to love Him back. He tells me I have what it takes. And then freedom, I bet, is going to be pretty amazing.

You have what it takes, too. So do something today that makes you feel like yourself–no one else. ‘Cause there’s freedom and joy and a whole lot of good stuff coming our way–that’s right here. Sister, let’s not miss miss it.

Because you need to be free

What is one thing that makes you feel like you? What is that one thing you can do today?