I'm the guy who sits next to you
And reads the newspaper over your shoulder
Don't turn the page
I'm not finished
Life is so uncertain
Ain't that the truth!
What to say? What to say? Will I have enough to say?
Will it be coherent? That's another thing, entirely.
It is not good for man to be alone. And yet, we so readily isolate. Physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I am a rock. I am an island. Well, not so. Not so.
I can be just self-sufficient enough to sink that island kingdom of self. Gah. The thing I've hated the most is admitted my need for others. Crazy! But not a rarity.
It's been a week. I thought we were safe from tornadoes here in Cali, but in fact, they just whip through looking a little different, sweeping y'all to Arizona.
God willing, I'll be home to speak at our Women's conference tomorrow. The theme?
Refuge, refuge, refuge. God's refuge in relationships. Coincidence? Well.............
I've been working on just what to say the last few weeks. What part of my testimony to share? Now, I need to edit furiously. Twenty minutes is just a warmup. Where do I even begin?
Too much too much too much.
In these last few stressful days, we have taken so much comfort in the refuge offered in this refuse heap. I may go bald from all the hair-pulling (for real, I don't have enough to begin with), but I've been helped to calm through those praying with us. Focusing on difficult decisions and conversations, because of the family looking out for our boys without a thought. Fellow trainers, stepping right up to cover, when I was supposed to be covering them. No question. Friends answering our annoying questions. Nurses putting up with our ignorance. God has bombarded me with examples of the importance of community. Being knit in. Being shored up in order to shore others up on our end. It's a might fantastic machine we've got boy. Forget the island, I already had a mountain of a witness to the story of OUR lives emerge from the last two years. Can we do a part two? Nah, no one needs to be subject to that much of my rambling.
Look out for each other. Run to each other. Don't hide away from one another. You may become your own Bikini Atoll. Bombs away. No safety there.
What Cornflakes are to Post Toasties,
What the clear blue sky is to the deep blue sea,
What Hank Williams is to Neil Armstrong, can you doubt we were made for each other?
Lyle Lovett- Here I Am
Now you've carried me 14,000 days
Isn't this the story of our lives
the violet burning - finest hour
What is this, even? Judas is prepping to speak on the vital importance of relationships? Loving our sisters? Being Christ for each other? It's nearly impossible to stroke the keys and bring forth words that don't autocorrect to hypocrisy.
Is this a test? A joke?
Or more grace?
The Lord keeps refocusing the selfish eyes outward. To the rest of the body. Those exemplary hands and feet. And to His work and continued faithful promise of refuge.
But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
As we ready to speak on God's refuge of relationships, pray for us. That the enemy would not bring division and condemnation. He is prowling, looking to devour. But the story of our lives is this - God has carried us. And he has gathered us together in those gracious hands of His. It is not MY life, but our lives. Woven together through many mercies into one body of Christ. It's His workmanship and you're all a vital part of it. You've grabbed the lost lambs and lead us through the dark night. Through those rocky crags.
You've spoken words of life. And medicinal rebuke. Gentle encouragements. Hedges of protection. Healing salve for the injured.
The loudest sound in my heart is a happy cry of relief and gratitude for the safety He's provided though His family.
Continue to seek each other's good.
And our Father will bring us all home together.
Breathe and weep
With our lights out
This is the way home
This is the way home
It was the loudest sound
In my heart
This is the way home."
the violet burning - the loudest sound in my heart
Listen here or purchase here
There aren't enough days
Enough weights to even out the scale.
Not enough good in me to clear the evil done. Ever.
Not a single deed is done that doesn't confirm it. Ever.
Walking with whispers of anxiety and ruby red cheeks betraying shame of the footprints I've left.
Stepping outside is a daily discipline of breathing in the Lord's forgiveness. Turned out in a cloak of humility under His armor of strength. Ready to be seen through, to be recognized for what I am. Every footfall is effort. Every click-clack of my heels. And still, He pushes me on. A nudge out the door with a recitation of His promises and graces already given.
And He tells me who He is.
He is grace, itself. He is patience. He is kindness. He is relentless.
He is beginning and end.
He is home. He is near.
He is justice with mercy. He is the strength for weak knees and weak hearts.
The hand offered in frightful places.
The washing of my feet.
Of my soul.
The gospel that guides my tread.
The calming voice:
It's okay, daughter. We're crossing the threshhold together.
Your works are not penance, but my own love to you. Step outside and see what beauty I have in store today.
Remember the road we've already walked. Remember.
And thanksgiving propels me forward. Past fear. Through the unknown. Because He is known to me. And He leads with love, my friends.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
"I struggle to fly now."
sia- bird set free
The air is electric with fear, making it hard to leave the cage. The chill of exposure to the outside ruffles the feathers. Concentrate on breathing, calming the adrenaline.
All the possible scenarios playing on a loop through my brain.
Heart is racing. Eyes are watery.
Fear of failing.
Fear of succeeding.
Fear of all the little voices of regret that follow me around....the things that lurk around the next corner.
Walking on high alert for fear of the unknown.
. Trying to stay a step ahead of my own gasoline fire that nips at my high heels.
Excitement and terror are sitting on my wings.
"All smiles, I know what it takes to fool this town
I'll do it 'til the sun goes down and all through the night time...
...I put my armor on, show you how strong how I am
I put my armor on, I'll show you that I am"
All the power pieces come down from their perch in the closet. I look to these soft and weak things to armor me up. Ready me for work again.
Blowing off the dust from my breastplate of blouse and pencil skirt My "Edgar" suit; the costume of another, sharper girl. One who is impenetrable; whose heart is safe. It's called a power suit for a reason, right?
Doesn't it impart super-strength; make me Wonder Woman?
Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,*
Placing those black leather heels on as weapons to crush sticks and stones.
Ready for expected battle.
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.*
Perhaps this cage is where I ought to stay with fear as my protector. Hiding behind motherhood and domesticity. I can pretend to be smart and wise and clever from back here.
No one ever need be the wiser.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one*
Those arrows gonna fly right past if I can act the part. Be tougher than tough.
Fiercer than Sasha.
Ready to take it all on my own strength.
Hair is coiffed, Mac is charged.
Good to go.
Out of the way. I've got this.
Ignore my shaky arms and nervous eyebrow twitches.
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.*
help me not to rely on these flimsy things
give me peace and wisdom and strength to face these fears
'cuz it's terrifying and i like to pretend I'm not scared
help me work as unto you
and walk in your grace
with diligence and integrity as my go-to pieces
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.*
Hey, Hurley, have we traded places today? The cursed numbers are back and threatening. They keep tick tick ticking up. That should be encouraging, right? We're going in the right direction, up, up, up as we build back a hollowed shell. Strength upon strength. But, my mind says, "stop! that's quite enough now. are you kidding, me?! What are you doing?"
The panic has been manageable so far, but today....today, my throat is tightening. I almost cried this morning when my trainer said, post-workout, I still needed more fuel. Red alert. All the panic buttons are sounding. But he's right. My body was shaking from depletion, which I could barely believe possible.
I'm eating #allthefood. And #alltheproteinshakes. And #alltheenjoycupcakes.
At least, it feels that way to a gal whose thinking has always been counter to this.
For the record, I didn't cry. C'mon, I'm tougher than that. Well, I pretend to be anyway.
The mental/spiritual exercise is more exhausting than the rigorous training I'm putting my body through.
My calves cry, "eat more." My energy level says, "even more, girl." My trainer says, "now, some more." Habits are so hard to shed as I try to see the nutritional information as a positive; a force for good. Does it have enough of what I need?...instead of desperately calculating the day's calories-numbers as the enemy.
Too much, too much, always too much.
Now, struggling to put in enough, to keep up with demand. My mind is having a hard time keeping up. But, that's a big part of taking up this physical challenge. A push to break destructive habits. Laying the anxiety down at Christ's feet; asking Him, "Take this please. Run with me though this." The putting on of nourishment to the putting off of restriction, spiritually and physically. The numbers are not my master. Not my curse.
God, keep my focus on your grace and kill their hold on me.
Help me run this race well....
oh, and that marathon, too.
I just went back to winter camp at thirty-nine as the supposed adult, if you can believe that. In the spirit of Rainy Day Woman, I snowshoed back in time, remembering God's provision for a teenager scrambling to be at home somewhere.
Quiet for an anxious, trembling heart.
A little stability, a space to take a breath in belonging.
Some relief from a mad, mad world.
I went up the mountain.
Now, I do not recommend Jane's Addiction as a conduit for worshipping God, but Comin' Down the Mountain is a lyric of thanks for me. It's a memory of friendship born of music. Because remembrances are everywhere-especially in my ears. It's Wayne Everett singing while hanging out post-worship service, as we had a little band named the Prayer Chain that we'd recently begun following, as our musicians at winter camp. I know, don't hate. But that moment stands out as a symbol of God banding together a rag tag bunch of youngsters as a sort of family unit. At least that's what is was for me. Driving some awesome vehicles-Chinook, anyone- to rock shows every weekend and playing our own music (#truth- I only had a minuscule chickbackupsinger role-probably out of pity). It helped push back the tide of overwhelming loneliness that this then fifteen-year-old girl had been drowning under.
Those years were a life raft; they kept me afloat.
I couldn't have vocalized my squall of insecurity; my gawky demeanor of nerves, flitting around looking for calm.
But God is good and He knew.
And still does.
That year, I went up a mountain and came back down with some brothers and a sister for life (looking at you, Robyn).
And a new nickname.
And God has given me a heart for youth, because I remember.
With great affection I salute you, Sgt. Wormwood as I battle in the flesh against that bitter root that always wants to pop up-with remembering His grace in seemingly random playlists of Bob Dylan, Jane's Addiction, and the Prayer Chain. Going back last summer for a meet and greet with my Fab Four was not a simple act of fandom, it was overwhelming thanks to God for my future, because His hand held me in that past.
When the encourager becomes the knife-wielder,
How can I love you or I'm sorry ever leave these lips?
Doesn't a strip of duct tape come with violating the terms of agreement?
These hands that have stripped others raw,
How can they hold another's in distress?
That's a gift too precious to be entrusted to such as these.
There are so many question marks in your use of weak vessels, Lord.
In your use of this one. It would feel more appropriate to find a rock to hide under.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
You are that rock. Into my unending weakness, you pour your strength. You speak wisdom into my foolishness. You make sense of my fumbling words. You calm the racing, anxious heart. You clothe my ugliness; covered with the light of your righteousness. You tell me, "Walk child. I'm leading. Just walk." You endured all my knife wounds with love. Repaid evil with good. In your grace, you allow what should be refuse to be useful.
Strengthen what's been broken.
God, comfort those I cannot.
Sometimes I watch your eyes when we talk. When bruised spots are touched. And I want these words to penetrate. God, help me not say something stupid You are not defined by the blows you've taken or given out. Your hearing is good and you nod in understanding. My heart aches. I want to make it take root in your hearts, cut you free from this anchor. God, give me wisdom to know when to stop speaking my own words, let them be yours Because you don't believe it, yet. God, help me believe it My eyes want to swap with yours so you could see yourselves as I do. Precious ones, fearfully and wonderfully made. Without lenses of "have-dones" or "should-bes," but as you are. Here. You are loved and lovely right now. And my vision is no where near that of your creator, who sees you and holds you as his child. I understand. I struggle to keep hold of this promise, too. God, you really want to use this lump of clay? I see the panic. The frustration. The fear. The tears of defeat. I want you to feel the breath of life that comes when you let God's words to you - about you - burn away all the lies. God, burn those gripping me right now You are no more scandalous than the rest of us. God, help me remember this, too Christ's covering for us out of God's love for us is the scandalous part. Undeserved and shocking.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:6-11
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
So, those moments of cracking the door open to give me a glimpse of your heart, your struggles? They're gifts for this anxious one who needs to remember it all, too. See, God is using you right now. When we talk, I can hear the Spirit echoing all of this back to my own ears. my own heart. This is where we find rest, dear ones.
^^^Like the shirt in the pic? I put a new post on"Wearing My Blog on My Sleeve," with a link so you can get your own and support a cool organization.^^^
"Ain't it just like grace to come wash away this shame..."
In Ruin / the Violet Burning
As our sin affects others, so does grace-filled obedience. I reap the benefits of others' faithfulness very day. Of seeds sown long ago. Lost in the drama sometimes, are the quiet faithful ones whose love of Christ is lived out daily in unspectacular ways. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit. And that actually is quite spectacular.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26
Not the hypocrites, with puffed out chests, doling out law and judgement from fists of pride. Or doing things for selfish gain. Yeah, I see them, too. But those who follow the most important commandments and lead by example day after day, year after year. They are Joshua, living "long obedience in the same direction" (credit to Kari Way, who led a heart-opening walk through that book).
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
They live disciplined lives in small things and large.
Not seeking attention or glory or possession.
Jesus' lordship is evident in watching these beauties over years and years. The tendency for comparison used to leave me in a pile of defeat. But, the gracious example so many of my friends have been has turned into hope. Hope of being a steady. Not just a quick and dirty dressing up in the guise of one.
The truly faithful, whom I thought I would surely scare away, have been the most enduring lovers. God's word is in their hearts and on their tongues. Truth comes from their lips with gentle kisses. All the small things that root faith deep slowly make for strength to grab a hold of in times of trouble.
They cry real tears.
They do not stir up strife.
Their words and actions line up.
When I'm ready to throw in the towel because I've not reached a place I think I should be already, I remember them. As with enduring friendship, so this faith is grown over years. Consistently choosing to honor God. Giving without noise or fanfare. Those I know will actually pray when asked. Who'll speak honestly about their hearts and struggles. Gossip doesn't leave their lips, not out of rules, but out of love. They are safe and we need safe.
Well done, good and faithful servants.
There is abundant grace for the prodigal and much of it comes from these priceless ones. Putting an arm around my shoulder to walk me home.
God, build me the faith of a steady with patience, one day at a time.
See also Rock Steady from #write31days
Some years simply need to settle into the soil like so much fertilizer.
Hibernation for the winter sounds pretty good. But 'tis the season for reflection, right?
The nuclear dust has settled. God has given good gifts. And continues to. I just wish it had been someone else's mess of a manure pile.
A quiet depression has come in holding hands with resentment. No cause. No event. Just regret turning in on itself. I have let it sit too long without remembering God's promises. As if saying, "thank you for this long list of miraculous changes, but..."
Perhaps my expectations have returned. Of being a good mother. Being a wife. Being a sister, daughter, friend. With what I think that means. Being useful. And my patience is no longer my strong suit. That feels strange. Christmas is upon us and I can't seem to pull it all together, yet. The drive is gone and that's a little frightening.
So, patience, patience, patience, lest I become stuck.
It's been a year unlike any other.
Facing demons in the mirror. The absolute horror of my selfish heart. Imploding under all my expectations. The kicking and screaming of a spiritual temper tantrum. A lifetime of bottled-up rage exploding on those around me. Fear. A lot of fear. A letting go of all control and learning to trust God with all the uncertainty, even as He pried my hands off, finger by finger. Fighting death. Fighting destruction. Fighting to even want to fight. All of the miracles along the way. The unexpected grace from friends who demonstrate Christ's love without blinking. The balm of fears unrealized. Renewed relationships once thought unretrievable. Learning to practice loving enemies. (let's be real.... still working on that one, folks) Watching the new creation that my hubs has become. Wrestling with what that means about my own spiritual walk.
And a lot of fumbling.
Knowing I've chosen to give things up for a purpose, I still sit in feeling useless.
I fight resentment. I still feel out of place. Wibbly-wobbly.
Here's me, blogging all the things I've tried so long to hide
"Ask her, she has nothing better to do.....," is what I hear. Silly and childish, I know.
Funny how easy it is to slip back into this mindset. To let that depression wrap around my heart like a warm blanket, until it chokes the truth out.
So, back to remembering what is true.
God, will I ever get it?
Asking, because I already know the promise in the answer.
"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:15
Patience as the rain finally falls. The soil is stinkin', but has been readied.
Maybe I just need to go see Star Wars again.
Or listen to a little Queen.