Grown So Lovely

How has this life suddenly grown so lovely?

Brush of color on the edges of oak leaves, spindled branches curled along the beige brick buildings lining my new street. Sweet tinkle of bells above the coffee shop door across the street, patrons going in and out for lattes, gathering together at the patio tables with bright red umbrellas. The hum of cars grazing puddles from last night’s showers. Sun sifting through hazy clouds to wash the town in a soft cream glow.

And I am still here. Alive, awake. Experiencing the glory of a morning arising in this small town. I do not take a single second for granted.

Align My Hope

Birds are chirping out my window, somewhere in the split-wide blue sky.

Spring is coming. The light lingers, air holds hope of warmth in weeks to come.

I have learned to wait through the winter, watching for signs of more welcoming weather.

I have learned patience, and also how impatient I really am.

Life should be enough. Breath, beautiful enough.

I have learned to be content. But is it wrong to want more?

Life in full; overflowing, rich in experience.

Is it wrong to want?

He has promised life in abundance; what was given through a life lived true and perfect.

Is it wrong to hold out my hands and ask for more?

Wrong for my soul to speak and ask for revival?

Peace. All I want is peace to know there is goodness within my grasp.

People are strolling the street, ducking in and out of shops, stopping for homemade bread and chocolate.

This town has its charm, albeit reminiscent of the dark mystery of Stepford Wives.

Lord, I want to break free.

Come alive, dig deep beneath surface and find a way to align my hope with what’s in the world.

Piece together my passion, explore what makes me curious. Connect the dots.

Lord, I want to be obedient.

Follow where I am needed, walk the way woven together for me.

Spring is coming. But where are the buds that should shoot forth from my heart?

Is it wrong to ask for more? For my heart to come alive?

Come alive, heart. Please God, find a way.

Who Indeed Restores

You are a restoring God. You number and name the stars, and You know our names, too. You care, You pay attention.

 

He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
-Psalm 147:3

 

I want to believe in good things. I want to get excited for what is coming, look forward in expectancy. Such a battle.

Trust is a choice. So is hope. They are also mandates, but it’s a choosing in my heart. Choosing to believe that You are good. Choosing to believe that You have good things for me. Choosing to be expectant, to look in positive anticipation for what You are going to do, what You are bringing.

Such a battle. But You, O LORD, are my banner and strength, the God who indeed restores.

 

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Better For It

I was born for something. Born to be someone. But what? And who? This is the question that has hounded me as I gained years, gathered lines in my life. Always, whether I was aware of it or not, my purpose, my deepest desire for approval, has followed me through seasons, through laughter, through furious tears. And always at the end of the day, draw of dark, the edge of my heart stitching itself into the hopes of others.

I’ve longed for a grand amusement set far beyond this bound of land and time. A sacred realm stretched sweetly through the fabric of my soul. Stepping lightly through this world, ears tuned for echoes of Eden.

In the balance, in between. Longing for the memories and events that pierced my heart in the purest sense. Hope that has challenged to never disappoint.

Yes, oh hope-filled girl. Your hope will be challenged, will be battered down. And you will bleed. Oh, how you will bleed.

You will not be the same person as when you began this journey, but you will be better for it. You will survive and stare the miraculous in its startled face.  

Life Will Take Root

It has been a long winter. Harsh, with the lashing winds of life and raw sting of medical surprises. Oh heart, you have battled the elements. And you have held with vigor to the seeds planted deep under the earth of your faith.

Still the air strikes breath from your lungs sometimes, but be patient. Keeps seeing through the snow, through the dimly lit nights and savor the spark of grace that illuminates the little moments that look like spring. It is coming. Life will take root once again. Can you not feel it, can you not see? He who has cared for you through the watch will bring to you a new season. He is already at work. Stay patient. Keep wrestling, grappling for the good.

For it will be good. Signs have already arrived, in the breaking down and cleansing cries, breath of truth exhaled in exhaustion. The warmth and laughs of friends around your table, your people, your journeywomen, companions who you never saw coming. And the sleet turning to snow, softening, falling fast and thick. Embrace it. Lean into everything. Winter will not last. But you, my courageous heart, will.

 

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Recoil

Why do I recoil against life here?

Why am I refusing to let go of my life plans and expectations? Why am I clinging so tightly? Why can I not just open to what is here and embrace what God may have for me? Why am I having such a problem releasing things to God? I stiff-arm.

It feels like my glass box of expectations has been taken out of my hands and cast to the ground and shattered. And I don’t know what to do with it.

Let it go.

Let go.

 

But what’s the point in having plans and hopes and expectations if they don’t come to pass? I feel if I let go of my expectations for my life, then I will be settling for a second-tier life, and I don’t want to settle.

 

“Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”   -Matthew 10:39

 

Why even have hopes and plans in the first place if I have to let them go? And what kind of life will I get in return?

Right now, I have more questions than acceptance.

 

I will not doubt, though all my ships
at sea
come drifting home with broken
masts and sails;
I will believe the Hand that never fails,
From seeming evil works to good for me.
And though I weep because
those sails are tattered,
still will I cry, while my best hopes
lie shattered:
“I trust in Thee.”

-Streams in the Desert

 

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Love Like That

The crowds. The echoing screams. The choice. They released a murderer and sent Him to the cross. As it was meant to be. Because while His face swelled with bruises and lips tasted sour vinegar, as His breathing labored and the sky draped itself in dreary mourning, your face flashed through His mind. Your name rested on His tongue, which was parched and took every last ounce to utter words that sealed fate: “It is finished.” Then He dropped his head, crown of thorns wrapped in matted hair, and the temple curtain tore in two, breaking the barrier between your spot in darkness and the welcoming embrace from the mighty Creator of the heavens and earth. For while He fought sin, became immersed in every thought, word and action you would cast, He know the trade was worth it. Worth the pain and humility this lowly death would take to raise you up with Him into eternity. He chose the blows that bled His breath from His lungs, because He saw the love of the Father reflected in your clear, searching eyes, begging to be rescued.

So He fought. Laid His life down for you to lift yours to sit at His right hand, the hand that held the nails and secured your salvation.

 

You’ve never experienced a love like that before. I guarantee it.

 

Prayer:

Thank You for thinking of me while I was not yet a glimpse in this life. Thank You for the nails, and for the battle against death won to save me from my sins. Please let me remember how You love, so I may show that love to others around me. Amen.

 

No More Mourning

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
-Revelation 21:4

 

You came for us while we mourned, while we wailed against the injustice, the suffering, the sting of heart that stayed a companion as we strained our eyes to catch a glimpse of You. Your heart understood ours, cracked and bled and gnarled itself up in sorrow, well acquainted with grief. Did we ever understand? Could we?

How You wept into the city, seeing how we couldn’t see. All around, religious piety and rules, regulations that wrapped us in a choke hold, one You broke free for us. But it took the shadows, the whispers, the exchange of hands for slick coins, the passing of Your body from one inquisitor to the next. And You stood silent, a lamb come for the stain of the world. Your body, blistered from whips and crushed by a crown of thorns, and still they made You climb with a cross close to You, a reminder of what was coming. Hands drilled, ankles torn by nails, a life-size painting perched for all to watch. Breath, rattled, eyes smeared with blood.

Did You imagine what it would feel like, when You nodded consent to the Father and took our  form? Did you knowingly shed glory for gore? Was it my face that crossed Your mind as You trembled on the wood?

All that Your beautiful hands had done. Crafted tables, turned them over, stroked your mother’s hair. Mixing mud and saliva so a man could see, tearing the bread, holding Mary as she wept for her brother. Those mangled hands held galaxies, transformed fish into a banquet.

You have made rough places smooth. Life from death. Light from dark. Air from clumps of earth. While we mourned, You made things new. We came to You, ourselves broken and bleeding, belief on the brink. We were so helpless and scared, yet You took mercy, even while we hurled our insults. Did we know what we were doing? Did we understand?

Our hearts are tired of crying. And You said we’d mourn no more. So we looked to You, as Your voice scratched out that it was finished, and You gave us a lifeline, revival for our searching souls.

 

Prayer:

You made a way where there was none. You gave up Your glory to become like us, misunderstood, mistreated. And You stayed the Father’s course, obedient until the last breath. Thank You for Your sacrifice, thank You for the love that permeated every inch of You, every heartbeat that broke for this world. Thank You that You have made a way for us to see the Father. Amen.

 

This, Too, Shall Pass

It’s fitting, the fog outside my window. Mirrors my insides. Mist, milky gray, hovering. This, too, shall pass, but now I’m stuck smack dab in the mire.

In the middle of March, it’s no longer the winter terror that took its place over our state, spring is weak, but she is coming. The warmer temperatures (anything is warmer than the teens we’ve been used to), melts the mounds of snow to smaller bumps, trickles trails of water down the street, softens up the dirt, churning to mud. It’s ugly, it’s messy, branches strewn all over the place that were long buried. This is a mess, the shift between seasons.

And this is where I am, in the in-between, hardly moving. Wrapped in a listless haze while my heart deconstructs a great many distortions.

O LORD, You have searched me
and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
-Psalm 139:1-2

Is it wrong to want more? To break out of the vanilla, the blah, and break forth the zest of life.
Somehow, I don’t think it is.
Somehow, I think God is calling me, is calling all of us, to more.
More of His goodness.
More of His grace.
More of His trust.
More of His love.
The ache of knowing, of being known—this, too, shall pass. It is already shifting into light, into redemption and restoration. The call for more—a pass from what if into what already is.

***

This is part of an ongoing series that will share excerpts of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Grappling for Good: Revealing grace to light the dark. It’s my journey through a year of unexpected circumstances and soul excavation to discover the goodness of God in surprising ways.

Above the Waterline

They say to trust the Lord and He will help get you through your struggles. But I think that’s something the superficial Christians say to keep them from truly experiencing the underside of God, the side where your heart is a razor cutting into the tender hope laid bare in the bones of your soul. When you are breaking every day, a constant thorn in your side that does not seem to be getting any better or going away any time soon. My heart bleeds for the impossible, and I cannot just turn off the way I feel. My head says trust the Lord because He works all things out for me, but my heart, that bruised, lonely piece of me where real life seeps in, it is not so sure, cannot see the other side because it takes every ounce of energy just to take another step.

Trust, to me, is tiny. It’s baby steps. It’s all I can do to place one shaky foot in front of the other. One breath from my lungs into another. It’s holding my eyes above the waterline, refusing to submerge under the sea. It’s deciding to see God’s goodness in the mundane, for only the moment stretched at my fingertips.

I have to keep telling myself to breathe. I have to literally remind my lips to part and exhale the air I’d been subconsciously trapping within, holding off my heart.

Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow and that’s all I know. In the bowels of the bad and breaking, it has to be a moment by moment walk with my hand stitched to His. It is one tiny whisper of trust, and then another.