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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.

A Season of Sun

It comes to me sharp, out of nowhere. After months of wondering where my words went, months of days full and packed with a new life of running a start-up nonprofit, creating blueprints from thin air. After adjusting yet again to another season of life, alternate plans I did not see coming, and attempting to make sense of what I am unable to piece together.

Sweat pools in the dip of my chest as I pant my way along the harbor, breath catching up after my morning run. Clouds pull across the breakwater, give room to the sun streaming sparks of light on the water. Seagulls perch on tops of poles, feathers fluffed and gaze calm and unflinching, as if this was their territory and I and the fishermen with their poles and nets were trespassing. But the fisherman go along with their lines, cast, send their bait beneath the water and wait.

My lips curve a smile in greeting; my eyes catch their weather-whipped skin and scraggly beards. I’ve stopped to chat with a few on occasion, who had been happy to tell me the types of fish that glide the Lake Michigan currents—carp and rainbow trout, small barnacles brushing the underwater rocks. Slowly, I am learning the language.

This new life is languid, restful, healing in ways I was not aware I needed. My lungs take in a dose of fresh wind off the lake with a hint of rose bushes that continue to bloom again and again.

And there it is: I realize why there’s been a drought in my writing.

I am not used to writing happy.

My heart is light and has found joy. I am not familiar with a season of sun. I am used to the shadows, the unseen, the conflict and struggle of spirit, crush of my heart that crumbles, tapes together, and cracks apart in rhythm. How I processed the turmoil and strain, to make sense of my confusion, the wrestling of my will with God’s. Put pen to paper. Poured out my thoughts, my heart. I bled in ink.

Now, I find my heart is calm, even glad. God has come through on His promise that He would yet fill my mouth with laughter and my lips with shouts of joy (Job 8:21). I can hardly believe the change that has come subtly yet is ferociously here.

I am so much better at building up my battered heart in the ditch where I lay broken. But where does that leave me now, when I have nothing to lament?

Lean in to love, my heart whispers. Lean in to the lightness that lifts in your chest, the spark in your eye, the elusive smile that now stays on my face.

The water winks at me, reminding me that it has known this secret long before my life made room for this new rhythm, before I saw the beauty.

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.

Reconstruct Me

But He knows the way I take;
When He has tested me,
I will come forth as gold.
-Job 23:10

 

I step through jagged
stones of glass,
cutting the innocent
softness of the underside
of my feet.
though I tread carefully,
pieces of the pain
embed into me,
a reminder that where I go,
I am fallen.
Walk with me.
when I crumble,
be the One
to reconstruct me.
You know my paths,
know which sands
will slice my skin.
You see me scream
my confusion into the
silent sheet of night.
Observe me,
but ready Your hand
to pull me from the mire
when I slip into
its cunning grasp.

 

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.

Empty and Alive

When things are empty, it’s usually not a good sign.

An empty wallet signifies a lack of money, hardest when bills pile up and income wobbles.

An empty glass means you’re out of your favorite beverage, or out of a positive outlook.

An empty brain signals no one’s home upstairs. Usually not good in a school setting.

An empty room- void of warmth and activity.

An empty promise is a hard burden to bear.

An empty heart cries out from the depth of its echo, longing for another soul to smile and let them know they are not alone.

 

But an empty tomb… now that is a very good thing.

A beautiful sign.

A refreshment to our souls.

Because an empty tomb means a risen King! Because the stones scraped together could not contain the power and the glory of the One whom was placed behind the boulder three days previous. When the tomb was opened and no one lay inside, a light pierced the hearts of those who turned and saw the Savior standing before them, with a beating heart and mankind’s hope fulfilled.

A chamber cleansed of death. A new arrival that lifted us to life. A symbol of sadness turned to joy. A bare room, empty and alive. The Son of God, full of flesh. Vibrant. Victorious.

 

An empty tomb took us to a place of astonishment, as the impossible turned possible before our eyes and the breath in our hearts cried out, “Hallelujah! He is risen!”

 

He is risen, indeed!

 

Prayer:

You conquered death and the wrath of God for my sake. Not simply for the whole of the earth, but for ME, the tiny one who stumbles and shakes with fear. You have made me victorious through Your scars, so I may stand cleansed in front of the Father. Because of Your triumph, I am Yours. Thank You for this new and enchanting, eternal life! Amen.

 

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.