the masterpiece once collecting dust on the floor

There is always a new way to view an old story. We hear of a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. We hear of a King who came to reign, with feet bare, born of a teenage mother, and of a family heritage of prostitute and adulterer. He arrived perfect and left perfect, with genes fully human–with a family tree before him scarred with stories of jealousy and murder, deception and mistakes. He is my family and your family. He is my story and yours.

masterpiece

You have a story all your own, with ups and downs and things you regret, things you’ve done you wish you could change. Ask Me into those places. Let Me show you a new way to view these old stories. There is a fresh story I want to give you, a fresh perspective on every past thing you’ve done that you regret.

The old stories are hard to look at with clear eyes. Our memory clings to moments that sting–or our memory feels an empty room, quiet and still, lonely, neglected. Our Father holds it all so close, these memories of ours–whether we can bear to remember the painful details or not.

There is hope everywhere, child. There is hope in everything, in every moment, in every past, in every future. The hope for the future exists in Me—and I ask you to trust Me so I may show you how I look at your past. When I show you your past, I am asking you to trust Me in how I see you. And how I see you is not at all how you see yourself.

My friend can’t remember much of her past from her childhood. It is too painful, too raw. Much has been blocked from her memory–and when moments flood back, she can barely stand the view. Her heart breaks for the girl she was that wasn’t seen, wasn’t loved, wasn’t adored and delighted in. And to hear that God sees her, in those moments, holding her past and her present before Him, so lovingly, in His hands, is difficult to bear. What is she to do with all this mess, all this pain? What is she to do with the absence of happy memories? How is she to have courage and faith and hope when her heart aches for the little girl still within her that feels alone and helpless and lost?

Her past melts with her present, as the pain of the past never fully goes away.

masterpiece 2

Fair one, I come for you. I come for you again. I do not tire of being close to you. I do not tire of leaning in, listening to your words, your cries, your pleas, your songs. I strengthen you. I equip you. I restore you. I surround you with hope. I bring people around you to show you hope. You have brothers and sisters I want to show you, people whose names I know and whom I delight in bringing forth to you, whom I delight in you getting to know.

There may be a hint, now, of story within a different frame. The little girl in the room abandoned is watched with heart broken wide. Every tear held in hands safe and sure and strong. The pain remains, but the ache subsides–the ache to be loved, to be known, to be healed. This little-girl-grow-woman can look at that little girl alone and see her now, through the eyes of God. She can still cry for her; she can still mourn. But she can rejoice, too, for the story she tells is from the heart of a woman who knows she is loved.

I give you glimpses of beauty, glimpses of glory, glimpses of hope and light. But the light that shines all around you, the light that shines from within you, the Spirit I give you to lead you and be your friend and carry you through these hard days, is what makes you beyond beautiful, my daughter. You are beyond what you can imagine right now.

Sometimes, we just need to know this: we are more than what these hearts of ours can bear to see. For in His eyes, no matter what choice we made, no matter what horrible thing was done to us, we are not broken. Not one bit. We are whole.

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Yes, we are frail and we fall. Yes, we are vulnerable and we get hurt. Yes, we are sinful and we mess up. But we are also amazing and beloved. We are also held and cherished.

You, my dear, even in your darkest moments, even in the parts of your story where you felt the very most alone, you have always been seen. You have never been forgotten. You have never been less than special. Surrender your heartaches to the Father who loves you. Let Him awaken hope in your heart. Let Him awaken you to see yourself, and the little-girl self of your past, with His true eyes. What God sees is the only sure thing we can ever see.

We need new eyes to see an old story. We need to stop standing on the edge of the nativity scene and, instead, jump full-on in. We need to see our Father’s hand extended to us. We need to stir up the dust in the barn and push up next to the animals and hear the angels singing and smell the musty hay in our lungs. We are dying to live with hearts awake. We are dying to turnover these old broken stories of ours and let them be beautified, mended, restored.

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We are not meant to forget our old stories only because they are too painful to remember. We are not meant to ignore them because it is too much work to let ourselves feel. We are not meant to sleep through a life that is not black and white but full of messy blurs of color mixing from one to the next.

Your story is amazing and messy–a crumpled piece of art God has found in a corner of the room, under the bed, collecting dust. A masterpiece He unrolls and presses to His heart and pins onto His favorite wall, where He can see it all the time. He loves your story. He loves you. He loves everything about you, and He is sorry for how you have been hurt.

I am praying for you, my dear sister, and I am so happy you are here. What beautiful story of yours do you most need to see Him rewrite and make new?

* All sentences in italics excerpted from “You have Something to Say”, Loop. You can subscribe to these twice-a-week email devotionals here.

** Make sure you enter the giveaway for the fabulous Sarah Ha pendant! Giveaway ends Thursday, at midnight.

*This post linked up with stories at beautiful Jennifer Lee’s place.

you are the beautiful land . . . and a giveaway

you are the beautiful land I sit on the couch, head throbbing. Day four of the flu. The pretty red chair from Justin’s grandma’s house we moved from the front room to the family room to make space for the Christmas tree is piled with clothes I will not fold tonight. There are schedules to sort for the busy last week of school and the to-do list isn’t even written. Well, I’m not a list maker anyway.

I’m in sweats and I haven’t showered and I’m in my not-so-comfy red cotton GAP socks that I’ve had since I was in college. I listen to Ellie Holcomb singing “I will lift my eyes from this fragile life, You will rescue me, You are my Prince my Peace”, while my dog who thinks he is a rug barricades me, sandwiching himself into the tiny space between the couch cushions and the ottoman. Our youngest son comes out again because he is having trouble sleeping and we take turns tucking him in. My husband and I feel our congested heads will surely explode. But we are together, and we know we will be healed soon. All will be healed.

When I thought of you, I knew who you’d be, this day. I knew the story, and the unfolding, and the journey, and how it has been hard.

This day isn’t the day that has been hard.

When I drove to Justin’s office last Sunday night to use a landline to be interviewed about my story of what I did when I was a teenager, I didn’t tell anyone the station of the radio. I managed to tell some friends ahead of time that it was happening, so they could pray for me. But then I refused to tell them the station so they could listen to it live. I can get tired of telling my story. I can get tired of sharing my mistakes and my shame. I can get tired of remembering the things I would do anything to change, if I could do my life over again.

But I do it.

I write and I speak the story because here’s the truth: it isn’t a story of shame anymore. It is a story of hope and beauty and new life.  But still, I forget. Pride makes me fearful and want to hide. So, I drive to my husband’s office on a Sunday night in the dark, running clothes still on, hat pushed down over ponytail, and I pray each word I say is translated in His truth. I want the story to do more than just make sense.

I don’t leave you here to wander forever. I come and rescue and lead you with my right hand holding you fast.

Every story ever worth sharing is never about us. It is the one whispered to us in the quiet, the one about a daughter and a Father and a beginning and a joy and a hope that never ends.

I had forgotten this truth when I felt shame welling up again and I wanted to keep the interview kind of a secret. I look at my sin and my self-imposed suffering and often stop there.

I am sorry it has been hard, but trust I don’t leave you here, in a place of desolation, in a place where it is only desert. I don’t leave you here to wander forever.

When I listen, I go to a place He has uncovered, a place He has seen. It is the place where He speaks. It is the only place where anything makes sense. Here is beauty: mess and regret and bad choices are what He delights to turn upside down.  It is His surprising love I will never tire of sharing, no matter how uncomfortable it feels to say the messy stuff, aloud.

Speak out truth now. Speak it out, even if you don’t yet believe it. I will help you believe. I will help you believe I will rescue you. I will help you believe I am here. I will help you believe, with your whole heart, I am enough.

And when the Podcast was available, and I listened to the story of a girl who felt alone and who let selfishness kill a life never hers to kill, I heard something I didn’t expect: the whisper of a Father, a Father who will bend low, on hands and knees and surrender everything for the love of a girl who He knows and who He created and who He encourages to be the full beauty He always sees her to be. And now, when He whispers this to us, I just have to believe. It is too beautiful to not believe and cling to with everything I am:

The land ahead is lush and you are cared for. You know how you are carried and valued and delighted in and seen.

You are the beautiful land, plentiful and rich and bountiful. Your heart is full and your life is full and your future is full and you are beginning now. . . You are beginning to see.

Yes, you are the land, my friend, you are the beautiful land, plentiful and rich and bountiful. He sees where you are and how you need healing, and He whispers,

Bend low now. See what I see. Quiet your heart and let Me show you what I see. Let Me speak truth into your heart that you may know who you are and know you are not alone and know how I lead you to new, fragrant places. See.

I may yet not see all in its fullness, but I am beginning to see. I may yet not be home, but I see glimpses of beauty in the path. I know I am heading towards good things. I know I am going  to a place where He is now. I know I am being held, with reassurance, resilience, fortitude. He is the rock. I don’t have to be.

Oh, my daughter, I see you. I like what I see.

Friend, can you believe it?

Here, my friend, is the link to the podcast, and here–what I am excited to tell you–is an opportunity to enter a giveaway for a special necklace below.

sarah ha pendant

Isn’t it pretty? Did you have any idea that wearing this pendant means you are wearing the entire Bible around your neck?

This amazing necklace was sent to me by Sarah Ha, a jewelry maker who uses nano-engraving technology (believe me I had never before heard that term before) to inscribe the entire Bible onto a single pendant. The charm is so beautiful, and protected by a mineral-glass window and hung from a chain of 100% Sterling Silver. The kids and I had a blast checking out the jewelry reader on their site that shows just how this all works. Check it out. It’s pretty cool.

Sarah ha pendant 2

I don’t do a lot of giveaways around here, but when I was contacted to see if I would be interested in being sent one of these beautiful necklaces, I didn’t hesitate. I was excited to say yes so I could give it away to one of you, here.

What do you think?

Sarah Ha pendant

You have until Thursday, at midnight PST, to enter the giveaway by using Rafflecopter below, and I’ll announce the winner on the blog on Friday.

xo,

Jennifersignaturescript

a Rafflecopter giveaway

after you have suffered a little while . . .

I have struggled here. With gratefulness. My eyes squinting hard to see beauty, to see miracle, to see all the obvious of what He has done. I have looked for more, for a better day to be reality now. I have throbbed with impatience.

That was just this week.

suffering a little while

Can I wake up? Can I live with gratefulness for who I am and what I have? False whispers distract, pulling me away from Home: you are trapped and don’t know how to make the most of a day. You are flailing and out of control. You are given much and are failing to measure up, still.

God’s words pull us back to Him, our minds open, expectant. We hear His words; yet, our hearts struggle to believe it applies to us, our situation, our life. What our mind desires to believe, our heart struggles to accept as true.

Do you feel even more alone when you hear God’s words for you and they feel like only words? What happens within you when you still feel stuck, alone, abandoned, crushed? What happens when the circumstances haven’t changed but God is telling you He loves you, He sees you, He is here?

Do you love Him, praise him, rejoice in the suffering, this moment, right now?

I hear questions from sisters:

Would a God who loves me continue to let me suffer? Would a God who loves me continue to let me stay here, on my knees, in the dark, the walls pressing in, letting me, once more, fall?

A friend of mine, last spring, put this verse on my heart. It has taken months for me to let the words sink deep:

Resist him [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your [sister]hood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 5:9-11, ESV).

This verse can make me uncomfortable. I squirm in my chair when I think about suffering–when I acknowledge my suffering (and don’t try to ignore it or push it down) and when I hear my God tell me He knows. He knows about our suffering. He knows what you, my sister, are experiencing, right now.

I want to skip to the end of the verse, when Peter, who knows suffering first hand (but who also, initially, did everything he could to avoid it), gets all worked up: The “God of all grace . . will himself restore, confirm strengthen, and establish you.” He knows what we are going through and we are not forgotten. He knows our plight, and He calls us to Himself. He knows every detail of our situation, and He promises to not keep us in this place of suffering forever.

You will not be in this place of suffering forever.

Twice this week I have joined my children and my friends at a national ministry for the homeless, called CityTeam Ministries. I did simple things, like pull up weeds and serve food and peel potatoes and place mandarins into plastic bags. And I listened to stories.

I heard the story of Miles, from Texas, just twenty years old, whose mother died of a drug overdose and whose beloved grandmother died soon thereafter. I heard how when he was a teenager he was addicted to drugs and had no place to go and lived on the streets. I heard how one day he felt compelled to buy a bus ticket instead of drugs and he joined his brother in California. I heard how he came into the front doors of CityTeam and his brother welcomed him and they gave him a job and a place to live. Brothers saw his suffering, and they showed him the face of Christ.

I heard the story of Tobias, whom I served next to in the kitchen, while I scraped potatoes peels of the floor. His blue eyes sparkled as he told me his gratitude of being surrounded by loving community now. He says he can do it this time–stay off the streets and keep this job and stay sober. And I heard the story of Reynolds, who is the boss of the kitchen and left a triple figure salary as the chief chef at the Hyatt Regency in town because he wanted to go into ministry. He wanted to love on people who are suffering. He wanted to speak the love Jesus has shown him into the lives of people who don’t yet know His name.

I go home and wonder at my life–the home I have and the family and friends God’s given. All gifts. All things I don’t deserve. And I get to write and listen to stories, doing something I love  . . . But He gives me the means to do it. And I didn’t merit it.

And I read the letters from you, sisters, of your suffering, of your waiting, of your longing for more and your longing for suffering to end. And I hold it up to God and wonder why . . . And I confess I want to have answers, and I confess I want to fix all these messes. I confess I want to have the right words and take all this suffering away. . . And then He leans and whispers, I know. I know. I don’t leave.

And His heart moves me to action.

For there is something we can do, sisters. We don’t have to lie passive, in our suffering. Our Father, with us naming us as His righteous ones, His chosen ones, His daughters, has equipped us for battle, has equipped us, in His name, with weapons to fight the suffering that could so easily steal our hope and our joy.

suffering 2

There is an action for us to take here.

Do you see it? Resist. Resist Satan as he whispers his lies in our ear. (And we can be more vulnerable to believing these whispers, in our suffering.) Resist, as Satan tries to steal our joy in Christ, as he tries to steal our hope and keep the eyes of our heart focused on despair, on hopelessness. Resist, as he wants to keep us impatient and looking to the next thing to try to fix ourselves. Resist, as he wants to keep us tired and weary and busy and anxious. Resist, as he wants us to be blind to God’s goodness, deaf to His words of love. Resist, as he wants us to feel stuck and not free, hopeless instead of hopeful, sorrow-filled instead of filled with God’s joy.

Yesterday I was feeling the weight of lies upon me, stealing my joy, making me not want to be grateful for what I have. I seek a heart quiet in God’s love, strong and secure, not looking beyond what He has given.

Do you know, friend,  you are not the only one who listens to His words, reads His love letters upon the page, and doubts the words are for you? Do you know you aren’t the only one who can get herself to believe she is stuck, and that nothing will ever change . . . that she will never change?

The way you move, with Me, is a pace that feels like dance. You move with beauty and with grace and with light that cannot be contained. It is made to be seen. You are made to be seen by Me, and I see you, and I delight in you, and I love how you do it (Loop, “The Way You Dance”).

I’ve been reading Phillip Yancey’s book, The Question That Never Goes Away, and I love his reminder about Christ being enough to handle whatever we are going through–and how He knows, He knows, and He doesn’t leave us in the middle of what we are going through. He has done it. He has suffered for us all: “Christ is God crying I am here . . Because of Jesus, we have the assurance that whatever disturbs us, disturbs God more. Whatever grief we feel, God feels more. And whatever we long for, God longs for more.”

What do we do?

Oh, Father, what do we do now? What do we do when we hear You love us, You are here, You invite us to dance . . . and we just have trouble believing it? What if the pain is too great, the wounds too deep, to feel like raising our heads, to believe a look into your eyes will help?

When will healing come?

Our heads hear God’s truth, but our hearts are desperate to see it realized in our lives. We cry out, “my heart feels like broken fragments. . . my heart is gasping for breath.” But we know our suffering isn’t too great. He suffered. He gave it all. His love is even bigger than any suffering we endure, ever.

So we surrender, and we bow low. And we pray, and we lift up our hands, for we know He is close.

Emmanuel. He is here.

Father, we know You are here. We know You know our hearts, our suffering, our aches and longings. And You are here. And You love us. And this is the reason You invite us to dance.  And this is the reason we know we can do more than endure.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18).

I am praying, friends. And for my American sisters, I pray you have the most beautiful Thanksgiving. 

 

sick and tired . . . and the sweetness of it all

We start this week on a slow roll, the weekend stretched long with all five of us sick. We staggered home from the boys’ football games, after sitting outside in 90 degree weather all afternoon, and plopped down on the big king bed. My husband first, then me, then our little girl and middle son. Our older couldn’t make it off the couch in the family room before running out the door to throw up again. (On my flowers . . .lovely.)  I can’t remember the last time–or if ever–we had all gotten the same bug at the same time. And it was brutal, but there was sweetness in it, too.

We didn’t know yet that the boys were getting sick with what Justin and I already had (and Abby got first, days before), on the day of their weekend football games, the one Jackson had worked so hard for all week, including having to change his diet to make weight as a bigger, older player on a younger team. It was an away game, almost two hours from home, but the first of the season. And these boys love football. So, we were going to get them there, even if we had to take throw-up bags in the car for Justin and me in the process.

We didn’t think we would have to use a bag–for Ollie–on the drive there.

I managed to be the driver, while Justin, who was feeling worse, tried to sleep. When we arrived, I was blessed with the ladies bathroom all to myself as it was my turn to get sick, hours before the first game started.

While the boy’s warmed up (as Ollie bounced back once he saw his team and was determined to play), Justin and I crawled over to some shade near a fence behind the stands and laid down on the coolest, most heavenly grass in the entire world. I will never forget its softness, the way it cradled my aching limbs and head.

And then my parents arrived to see the games. And my sister and her family, too. And the coach came over to ask Justin to help him videotape. And we stood up and tried to hold it together, while the sky was spinning and the sun beamed down. And we made our way to the hot metal bleachers, which, even under the shaded awning my heaven-sent sister brought, felt like grills used to cook meat in an oven.

football Jackson.jpg

Our 42 (in the back) waiting for the handoff.

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Our 66 as defensive captain before the game.

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Justin and I decided that day, in the sun, feeling sick, and doing one of our most favorite things to do–watch our boys play football–was one of our worst days ever. . .We felt so terrible we didn’t know how we would make it home. And then the throwing up started again, in the car.

Yes, it was rough. . . and that’s why our bed was almost as nice as the grass, when we got home.

It feels silly, now, to admit how unpleasant this all was–especially since those moments of being sick this weekend were some of the most special, too. After sleeping for over twelve hours straight, the next day was filled with snuggles with my boys on the couch, reading aloud the book we didn’t get to finish over the summer. I had a tea party in the backyard with my daughter. We watched episodes of Myth Busters. I took a few short bike rides around the block with my kids as an easy way to walk our dog. Our weariness slowed us all down, and while, I don’t want to get sick again anytime soon, I loved how being sick together helped me appreciate the sweet moments of slowing down, together.

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I don’t know what you’re going through right now. I imagine it might be a whole lot worse than this silly stuff I just described about my family’s bout with the flu. And I would love to pray for you. I would love to be with you, help you find some soft grass on which to lay your weary head. I would love to listen to what is on your heart, what made your long weekend filled with beauty, or what made it make you want to run away and scream. I would love to let you lean on my shoulder, sharing the burden with you, while the tears fall. Or see you smile and hear your laugh as you tell the story of that crazy thing that happened that just keeps making you smile.

I would love to stand with you, praying for you, sister. When I write, I trust these aren’t just words on a computer screen, floating out into space when I hit the little blue button on the right that says “publish”. They are meant for you, right now.

Because we all get tired and need to know we aren’t alone.

Because we all get discouraged and need to know we are heard and someone cares.

Because we all get sad and lonely and mad and confused and wonder what it is we are supposed to do with this day and wonder how we will ever get through it.

Because we all know, sometimes, it is difficult to even raise our heads–that it aches to feel or see.

But I know this is true:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

And I know it is true that we are not meant to journey these tough days alone.

Looking forward to hearing from you, friends.

Love,

Jennifersignaturescript

Linking with Emily and Jennifer today.

When I pray for Oklahoma

Oklahoma

Father what do you see?

You could not bear what I see, what I know. But I stand here, amidst the rubble, putting together hearts that fear they will surely break.

I repair.

I stand amidst the rubble, the crying out, the suffering. I stand amidst the sweeping piles of things that were homes–places where my children laid their heads, where they felt safe, where they felt today would be a good day.

I stand in the middle of the hard places, of the moments where pain swallows all hope. I came and know what pain is, what sorrow and devastation look and feel like.

And I stand here, amidst the pain and the mess and the uncertainty about which way next to turn. I stand amidst broken dreams and lives upended. I stand here.

Now watch–watch how the upside down will be righted. Look, with Me . . how the pain will be washed away. Look how the children come and help, courageously, knowing I go before. I am here.

You are not alone. I am here. I stand.

Know that I stand and my heart splits wide again as my children cry out, ‘God, where are you?’ Know, I stand, when the winds wail and my children flee and all is vulnerable. All is capable of breaking and not being repaired.

Until I come. I will come.

And you will see Me. . . in the arms wrapped ’round, in the reaching in to grasp and save, in the tears and the sweat and the going back to work, and back again, even though it is hard, even though the needs feel too great, the mess too big.

I am here. I stand.

I do not cower in this place. Lift up your heads to see Me. My weary ones, my tired children who run scattered, come. Let me gather you up. Let me wipe away your tears. Let me shoulder this burden. Let me be your strong place, your hope.

Call out.

I hear you.

I stand.

Tree

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in it season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.  The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.  ~ Psalm 1:1-4

The sermon on Sunday is truth I drink with mighty thirst:  the tree, the streams of water sustaining the roots that plunge deep for nourishment.  I grab hold of the small disc around my neck with the form of the tree,  branches stretching, pressed into metal, and my chest tightens, tears trickling down.   I believe this, that we are this tree, this tree firmly standing through times of drought, sickness, suffering, war — for all roots dependent on the Father’s water and light for sustenance surge deep.  To live, to survive this world, hearts must root into the safety of the One.  Otherwise, we float away, hardened shells of corpse, shallow roots too weak to hold.  Seeking life beyond His word, His truth, sustenance besides living water, the leaves shrivel. There is no fruit.  Rather, the brittle trunk breaks, and finally falls. This world’s weight is too heavy to bear such sin.

My sin.  My heart.

My dear friend across the circle on Monday brings up the tree, our longings for the One uniting us.  “I want to be the tree!” she shares.  She wants to be the tree who weathers and stands and produces fruit in its season, despite passages of hardship, tragedy, and lack of rain.

Lack of rain.

And as the earth’s crust lies depleted in its dryness, floating in the wind and the children cry out, we will lift up these tired branches to the One who sustains, who loves, who does not look away or fail.

Oh, Father, bring rain to your children.  All provision comes from You.  We lift up our hands to the One who provides all we need, for our roots are always satisfied, always anchored strong.  This tree will not fall in this desert place, for Your living streams will sustain. And You will lift up these tired branches so we can carry your broken and depleted and offer what You give:  Your life, which does not weaken; Your arms, which hold us up; Your heart, which aches for Your children who lie covered in the dust of this world.   This world trembles for Your streams that lie deep, beyond our vision, Your heart below the surface.

Let us dig into these streams, Father, which You make available or us to live.  Let us drink of Your water to give hope to Your dear ones who need You.  Sustain us and remind us of what is true:  You are the mighty One whose heart aches for these children who lack food, water, shelter, care — and You say I am the hope, the life.  And the children who claim You go out, in Your name, our roots drinking You, to offer Your hope and life to the thirsty.  The thirsty, Father.  Please bring water.   Please, bring hope.

The lights do not go out on these nations.  My children cry, and I hear.  Cry out, my children, cry out, for Me.  I hear your voices.  It is not in vain.  The land’s dust settles in the dry places, and more dust collects, until the world aches with its burden.  Young ones, My sons and daughters, I see you.  Bring water to the thirsty.  Bring food to the hungry.  Bring shelter to the sick.  I am with you.  I am the tree who covers in the storm.  You are the tree who offers shelter, now, to my children.  The cries are for you, my trees who thirst for me.  The cries for you to hear, with My heart.  The cries for you ro respond to, with My provision. My love of this world is for you to respond to now, My Spirit in you mighty and bold and all you need.  Go now, with all you need, this living water for you to drink and be sustained by and rise with, so the branches of love stretch far and wide.  No one is forgotten.  See where I go, where I nudge you.  Your heart is good and knows what it should do.  Do not be overwhelmed and frozen.  Step forward now, young ones.  I carry your heart.

Cries of the Heart

To the Father who redeems, who restores, we loves us beyond what we can ever comprehend, we trust You.  We believe You heal.

In a hospital room lies an 18-month old little girl who wandered into the driveway of her home yesterday and was run over by a car.  She is in a medically-induced coma, her body broken, her parents’ hearts breaking.

In another bed, in her own home, a young mother lies locked in with her thoughts, blinking her only way of communicating, after suffering a stroke a year and a half ago that has paralyzed her entire body.  Her children hug her and she feels it but can’t respond.  She has words to say but cannot speak.

A woman’s husband who separated from her a year ago has a heart attack and her heart breaks with this love for him, for the family and father she hopes for her children.  She waits on Him and trusts, arms open and tired.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find  rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11: 28-30).

Your children cry out to You, Father, and You hear us.  Pain does not turn You away, make You indifferent, aloof.  You carry the broken-hearted, Your resurrection being our hope, Your life in us helping us bear the trials and suffering of this life.  Redeem, Father.  Your children cry.

My dear friend at SoulStops wrote a post this week that stirred my heart, as she explored God’s words in Romans 8:28:  “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”  She shares how Jesus knows each pain we suffer and wants to bring His ultimate healing to every wound.  With Jesus’ taking away all of our sin, we are redeemed, all sin wiped away.  And the Father does not turn away. He hears His children’s cries.  He comes.

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!

Somersaults and Shadows

“My voice rises to God, and I will cry aloud;  My voice rises to God, and He will hear me” Psalm 77:1

“My children in the dust, I rise.”

Cartwheels and shadow games, somersault races and soccer kicks. The innocence – make us innocent.

But we aren’t.

Believe in the voice, children, the heart of the Father in you.

Make us innocent again, Father, that You may look on us as untarnished, unblemished, glorious and worthy in our unworthiness, our dust.

We are but dust, filled with Your Spirit, and as we rise and we appeal, in Your fullness, moved by Your might in us, let us rescue, in Your name.

Your children cry for justice, for peace, for absolution, for the terrors to cease — and You come, Father.  You must come.  Your heart cannot turn away.  We have been washed clean and Your eyes cannot turn away.

Father, we are Your children.  We rise from the dust, from the shadows, into the light and call upon Your mighty hand to lift up the despondent, the despairing.

Dear God, set Your children free.  You have, and we trap ourselves again in lies, deceiving, ourselves about who we are.

“Glorious Ones, rise!  Out of the desert I call you!  Rise, My darlings, and come help Me to gather them up.  Innocent as a dove, wise as serpents, go in with My power, your humility.  Don’t turn away from where I call.”

 

Do I Really Believe?

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The weary children cry out, in petition to their God, their Father who saves, their only hope and salvation.

He has brought salvation, the God who gave it all.  This God who knows suffering, who does not stand apart, aloof, from His children, but longs to “cover you with his feathers”, so that “under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 86:14-16).

What does it mean to stand, with my God, when a beloved suffers?  He looks at me and reminds me that He has saved us, but I am here to love His beloveds, especially in their suffering.  Do I believe He will give me what I need to love well?  Do I forget myself, not knowing who I am, who He created me to be, as His child, when I hear His word and do not act on it?

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does (James 1:23-25).

My Father, let me cling to Your hand.  Help me to remember who I am!  I lose myself, forget my identity, when Your words are not action in my heart. Transform Your words in me to action!  Let my heart awake and not sleep!  Let me rise up and go where You call.  Your word is life.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men (John 1:1-4).

Father, Your promises to us in Your Word are life, and we carry Your life in us when we let Your Word be in us, a living, active response to Your truth.  What does it show when I hear Your Word but don’t respond?  Of course, then, You tell me:  I don’t really believe.  I am not proving I am a doer of Your word.  You say that if I only hear and don’t act, I am one of the “hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Am I deluding myself, Father, convincing myself that I am aligned with You, Your truth, but, in fact, I merely stand, unloving, on my own?

Do I believe, Father that it is “all joy”  when your “faithful ones encounter various trials”? (James 1:2)  You say the “the testing of [our] faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that [we] may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4).  I say I believe this, Father, knowing You are good and that Your plans are always good and perfect. But do my actions show it?  Do I,  indeed–in-deed– really believe this, if I don’t live with Your heart?  If I don’t love the ones who suffer–doing what You’ve modeled, in Your joy, in Your love–am I just a hypocrite, thinking I am a “believer” in what I hear, in what I say, but not in what I do?  If that is how I live, then I don’t truly believe.

Your Word lives in us when we respond to its truth.  It is not static, flat letters upon a page.  It is a living, breathing joy that comes when Your life is lived out.

Can I help those who suffer feel less alone?  Can Your beloveds feel loved by Your children if we don’t act, in love, with Your word in us?

You remind us, Father, “The Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.  They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off” (Psalm 33:3-5).  You are not far away.  You are in us when we believe what You say and step out, with Your love in us, and love, faithfully, completely, beautifully and with courage–in Your name.

Help us to go, Father.  Help us to love.  Help us to hear, to act, to believe.

In Your name, Jesus,

Amen