Stir the Waters

O God, You are my God,
Earnestly I seek You;
my soul thirsts for You,
my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
-Psalm 63:1

 

My body, mind, spirit, soul: All long for awakening.

Winter has lasted far too long; now, the spring within me, eager to stir.

I have been so parched for You, the Gardener of my soul. Weeds and thistles, thorns and droughts have dried me. I’ve stood under a scorching sun with no shade; oh God, I am burnt from such exposure.

But You promise living water, what will wind its way through this desert and draw streams for my scorched earth to sip. I watch for You, I wait heart upturned, long for the switch of seasons, from barren land to plenty.

A tremble rolls within my chest; could it be the beginning rumbles of rainfall? For what may be replenishment to my thirst? Quench me, Lord of my longing; make soft the hard and scarred landscape of my soul. Stir the waters above, send them to make way for spring. Even droughts must someday be done.

I yearn for You, God of my thirst. I seek You, I look for You, look past this parched place and angle my head for a glimpse of Your grace.

You are my God, and I am here, waiting. Yearning earnestly, desperately, for signs of replenishment, stretching my ear to hear the subtle strains of trickling water. Stir these waters; whet my heart for a deeper dive with You. Slow is the process to seep through this guarded earth, but steady is Your pour.

Awaken again all that You have prepared, this turn of season and time with You. I am parched, but I put my heart in Your hands and turn my face towards the west, watching, waiting for the rain.

 

Linger:

What is difficult about feeling dry and parched?
How can I position my heart to wait for God’s replenishment?
God, what are You saying to me through this verse?

 

Lord, I am dry and empty, longing for You with all I am. It has been so long. I need You, need Your presence, need You to move within me. Bring the refreshment my soul needs. Stir these waters within me and help me to wait on You while I long. I lift my weary mind, body, soul, and spirit to You to tend gently and see me through. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Choosing Fact Over Feeling

I wake with a jolt, heart shocked alert, mind reeling and running a hundred marathons in minutes. The room around me, black like spilled ink, douses my thoughts with slick lies and unreasonable worries. I’ve been wracked by anxiety for the last few weeks, fallout from trauma of three ER visits in a month, my husband and I sick with COVID and absolute terror of the unknown.

I can’t relax, can’t get myself back to sleep for the fear that pushes me awake, taunting that this is all there is, a new way of living that allows me no rest.

In mental anguish, wracked with the worries that stack on top of one another like cement blocks, I blink and call out to God in the night, repeating promises that He has given to me:

I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for You alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 (NIV)

The thoughts don’t slow, but somehow, His words slip through the stream of scared thinking and my running anxiety. Here, I hold to Him who I can’t see, but believe is at work fighting on my behalf. My husband relays this confirmation as we sit in bed, and I breathe.

**

So incredibly honored to be published in another Proverbs 31 devotion book. This one is especially close to my heart as it’s all about sleeping peacefully in a world full of worry.  You can pick up a copy–FREE–with a donation to P31 Ministries. I know you’ll be blessed by the beautiful devotions and prayers in this book by some incredible women.

What lays heaviest on your heart as you lay your head on your pillow? We understand the anxieties that come right before we go to sleep. That’s why we wrote our newest devotional: Clear Mind, Peaceful Heart: Prayers and Devotions for Sleeping Well in a World Full of Worry. Written by women just like you, these devotions will help you remember the true source of help when you feel anxious and unsteady through reading God’s Word, prayers, and the stories of fellow sisters in Christ. For a limited time, you can get a copy FREE with a donation of your choice to Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Get your copy here!

 

Holy Even Here

… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.
-Romans 5:3-5

 

Here I am, again with my heart trembling before you. Here I am, holding myself out to Your great love, which is unfailing and on which I stake my hope. It’s been a long road; a hardness threatens to take hold of me. After prolonged time of hurt and pain and feeling so disconnected and far from You, I long for a response from Your mouth.

Yet You lead me in new ways, stretch my faith and grow my character, because suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And not just a singular hope, but one that does not disappoint, because You pour out Your love for me, directly into my own heart. How I long for that direct love deep inside, but I fear I will not have the closeness I once felt with you before.

Let my faith be greater than my fear. Let my heart be gentle, tender, open to You love, open to experiencing Your love in greater ways. You do speak, one way or another. In the care and words of those close to me, in the cobalt lake on a day where the sky spreads wide and clear; in Your word that digest, even if it’s only one or two verses at a time. You make Yourself known; You still make Your way towards me.

Let Your words be soft and gentle to my scratched and dry soul, water my parched places with the right words that will tend to my brittle soil. Let them be purposeful and perfect for my deep needs.

Allow me room to breathe, to fall into Your goodness. There has been so much barrenness, pain, fear. So much straining to stay up and hold to a blind faith when I could not feel. And how I love to feel the expanse of emotions! I’ve told myself of Your truth when my head couldn’t hear or believe, set what weak belief I had on Your character and promises. I’ve pleaded with You to hold onto me because I was too weak and tired to hold onto You.

You are my sustaining power, my grace again and again. My burden becomes my blessing because I encounter You when I am at my lowest; there You lay with me, heart against heart, for You, too, know what it is to bleed. The suffering, the mystery, the unanswered questions—here I let go and lean into the things suspended, breathe into the pause, and clear a space for You to sit with me when I can’t hold still.

It is hard, but it is holy, because You are here. The One who is no stranger to suffering willingly stakes His life to mine. Nothing can separate me from the expanse of Your love, the deep, rich, high and beyond love that has chosen to stay. Even when I run, when I flail, even when it feels futile, terrified of what You’ll find inside, here You are, Your gaze unwavering.

Surrender the fear, You whisper. Surrender the shame, the guilt, the fear of control. Let go, and let Me in.

Surrender can begin to stitch me whole. Here I am, all of me, exposed. Letting You in to where only You can go. Grace. Goodness. Glory. All grab hold of my heart as I entrust my mind to You. I receive You in; now hold me near and guide me closer.

Rest. Truth. Trust.

Greater are You who are in me than he who is in this world. Holy even here. Your death, giving me life. My life, given to You. We are here, in the hard, becoming holy, building hope. Yes, Your holiness is healing, yes, holy even here.

 

Read Again:

… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.

-Romans 5:3-5

 

Linger:

Where have I been keeping my heart and mind closed to You?
How can I find holy even here, in the hard?
God, what are You saying to me through these verses?

 

Abba Father, You have been with me through so much pain, confusion, hopelessness, and hurt, and yet You’ve never once left me. You are the God who stays, who sees, who heals. I want to give You these hidden places in me, where I am fearful and weary and unsure what will play out, but I am trusting You to keep making a way, making hard things holy. In Jesus’s name, amen.

 

Listen To:

Make Room by The Church Will Sing

Hope Grows Slow

Hope: that long-buried seed you forget about because it’s dormant. Hearing nothing, seeing less.

Weeks pass, then months, and you get used to the feeling of emptiness, a lack of expectation. It becomes your regular as you begin to wonder if this will be reality.

Has the frost destroyed the soil of your heart? Will this always be the way, living muted, on auto pilot, surviving day by day?

You even wonder whether God intends for this new normal and long for His presence and love that seems to lack.

Where, in these barren fields, is He?

**

This winter doesn’t seem to end, even when the first days of spring officially arrive. The ground is still frozen, grass lay brown and brittle, miles of bare branches and zero signs of life. Snow and sleet still pour down, relentless, and the cold is a constant companion.

You get used to the monochrome.

But you cannot underestimate the determination of the seed, deep buried underground. It is meant to do what it was made for; it listens to the One who first dropped it into the earth of such a fledgling heart.

Though it tarries, wait. You cannot rush the work, the becoming. You do not know when or how, but that is not up to you anyway.

Perhaps that seed you wait on is waiting on its own orders, its own cultivation.

**

Hope grows slow. An important metamorphosis is happening in these slogging, messy months and it cannot be rushed. God is all seasons and shaping and for deep and good transformation, and He does not adhere to time like how you cling to it. For Him, the seed is hidden in a safe place, nurtured, protected from the elements until it is ready for release.

God has been saving you.

God has been savoring you.

God has not stopped caring for you every step of the way.

 

**

It’s a joy to be featured over at Agape Review with my creative essay, “Hope Grows Slow” — I would love for you to read and find a seed of hope for yourself: Hope Grows Slow

Strength in Stillness

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)

The afternoon sun streaks through my living room window, and I settle into my seat, finding just the right spot for the light to warm my body. On my windowsill, books bend into one another, and pens spill from their holder; my daily Bible verse calendar shows an image of majestic mountain peaks and a scriptural assurance of faith I cannot see.

The call to faith in the unseen resonates deeper than I wish it to.

I’ve spent these past six months fighting for my mental and physical health.  I’m still wrestling with the lingering aftermath of COVID-19 and anxiety, comparing my state of exhaustion to where I was before I got sick.

When I see my life as it was, and I see the setbacks I’m battling, I can’t help but be tempted to spiral down the “why me?” rabbit hole. The daily battles leave me worn and wondering just how this will play out.

My camp is close to crumbling, and I need reinforcements. If I have the Lord of heaven’s armies with me, what is His tactic? What is His next move?

Is it to strengthen me supernaturally so I can take ground where I have loosened my hold?

Is it to storm my enemies and knock them down in one motion?

Is it to wait for me to say the right prayer or scripture and believe just a bit more for my faith to come to life and be “useful” in my healing?

Or is it possible God is calling me to something radically different? What if God’s will looks something like this: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)?

The more I meditate on this verse, the more I realize I’ve been carrying much more stress than I need to. I’ve hoisted the weight of my health on my shoulders, striving to learn answers, comparing what was to what is now, and holding heavy, unrealistic expectations in my heart and mind.

Maybe you are, too. Maybe we’ve all been holding on to our own designs of how life should be and having trouble wrapping our minds around reality.

What do we do with the vice grip we’ve put ourselves in?

 

**

What a joy and honor to be over at Proverbs 31 Ministries today to examine what strength in stillness looks like. Will you join me there?

Good to Come

Plush grass cushions my body as I shift on my blanket, blue pearl of a sky wraps the dome of Port Washington, harbor full of hulls and bows of sailboats. Lake Michigan spreads wide and comfortable out to the eastern horizon, where a thin line of gray clouds gather low. Sparrows, red-winged black birds, and chickadees play in the air, plunging and rising around the park. Sun rests warm on the back of my neck; out in the distance, white-winged caps of wave flank and furl for speedboats flying across the open water.

This early June day is dipped in what it should be, the delight of a drowsy, sun-soaked slowness and as close to perfection as we can get this side of heaven. It’s also my 37th birthday, and the lightness of the environment matches me inside. I have been slow to embrace my birthday, but for some reason, perhaps for the first time, I see this day as a start to another year, a start I can—dare I?—believe will bring new healing and joy that haven’t yet been revealed? What newness is to come? What road to wisdom and wholeness and depth and life?

The wind shifts and blows from the southwest, covers the warmth from the sun with a thin blanket of cool breeze. But the sun still stays, and so does the light blue of the sky. Fishing boats still motor through the marina, make their way to the wild azure water past the lighthouse. Birds still dance and sing, and my heart stills stays open, ready, asking God to move my mind, body, and soul in a restoring direction, let this smooth, simple day be the start of His good to come.

 

Beauty, Here

There is beauty, here, now. In this season. Yes, even in this season of suffering. There is a good God who sees, who feels, who emphasizes and emphatically says all is good, because all is God. He is the Waymaker, Deliver, Strong Tower and Soft Place, the One who loves unfathomably and unconditionally. Here, in the dappled sunlight that streaks through the pines, the flash of wing in the cross of Blue jay from one branch to another, the gentle rhythm of the water that never hurries, always sets its course assuredly. There is no rush, no hidden agenda. The waves just move.

And I just move with it all, swept in the current, roll with it under the watchful eye of Him who pulls me close when I am over my head in the deep waters, enclosed by flames. He soothes when I feel scorched, overwhelmed. He is here, in this season, bringing beauty when I pull my heart to hear His heartbeat. Lord, keep showing me where You are in the hard, keep showing me the beauty and grace that gets me through.

You get me through, somehow, in the stillness that somehow suddenly appears, when I am unexpecting, when I am parched and drink my fill.

 

How We Have Grown

When I came home from work on a frigid Monday evening, worn out and sick, I found a brown bag full of saltines and Verner’s Ginger Ale at my back door. I barely even knew you. But that was who you are, who you continue to be. You took care of me then and you take care of me now.

How has it been two years since I took your name, took my life and placed it in your hands? My goodness, how we have grown. How we have built each other up and asked for forgiveness, how we have learned how we feel by assessing body language.

You are my support. When my smile is wide and heart is light. When my mind and heart are heavy and my smile turns into sobs. When I lose my way, you bring me back. You are patient, loving, gentle, kind, and more than I ever could have imagined.

What a gift you are, my pillar from God who speaks His love into me with words, with actions, and with nothing at all but strong and secure arms around me. You have held me in my darkest of nights and somehow the light has sifted through because you stay, unafraid.

My love dives deeper into depths I cannot understand or explain. You hold me up and lay beside me, lead and walk with me. Thank you for picking me, for choosing me and understanding me more than I ever could have dreamed. Happy two-year anniversary, Eric. Two years as your wife is just the beginning. My support and love for you only strengthens. You’re my favorite!

 

Untangle My Chest

I wake to a new day, sleep still lingering in my eyes. As my body stirs, so does my mind, doing a mental scan of my thoughts and emotions. I notice, again, the weight in my chest, gaining strength. It’s been the pattern for weeks, my constant companion in my waking hours. Frustration settles, as I prepare to battle through another day weighed down.

This invisible heavy hand has a hold of my heart, presses down, keeps joy from rising, from excitement growing.

I’m a tangled metal knot with no idea how to lift the oppression. It’s debilitating—how does it dissipate?

I share this with Eric as I brew the coffee, kettle boiling, beans ground into powder for my pour over. He takes me face in his hands and leans me in close, nuzzles my nose.

“It’s like a tangled fishing line,” he explains, the man familiar among open water. “There can be many knots—big ones that take a lot of line, small, tight ones that seem almost impossible to sort. But you work them out, massage the line. It takes time, and you have to be patient, but eventually the knots loosen and come undone, and you’ve got a full, clean line again. Sometimes you have to clip, sometimes you lose a hook, but eventually it works out, if you take the time and care.”

I stare into his blue eyes, still sleepy in their own right, but true and focused, soft. His next words are almost a whisper. “That’s what God’s doing with you. You are uniquely made and it’s beautiful. Something’s gotten tangled inside, and He’s sorting it out with His own hands, helping you untangle.”

I hold to his words, wondering. That’s a new picture I’ve never drawn before. The tender process of becoming undone to be pieced together. The strong and nimble fingers of my Lord, massaging out the clump of knots crimping my life flow. Bending close, breath on my face as He studies what has curled to choke me inside, maneuvers each strand to slip free.

It’s in this intimacy where I find my God Immanuel, the One who wants to be with me. If I lean in, allow Him His work, I find His presence, find healing strength in Him.

Resurrection

Jesus,
You are the resurrection and life.
So why am I falling apart,
unraveling?
You broke open
for our vulnerable frailty.
In my brokenness
I come, crumbling, to You.
When You lay in a tomb,
chest still, fingernails still flecked
with blood and wood, I, too,
slowed my lungs.

Yet here You are,
flesh and bone and spirit,
whole and free.
Where is my resurrection?
I still wait for lightness
in my soul and a mind
quieted with Your love,
long for joy and fullness.

Return me to life.
By your breath I inhale,
receive the same power
that burst open your eyes,
warmed your palms.
I, too, fold and break
to come alive.