Chasing Joy

"I am guiding you on the way of wisdom and I am leading you on the right path." Proverbs 4:11

Category: hope (page 1 of 5)

no security, only rest

come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…

we are standing on the shore, my boy and i.  watching his brother and dad out in the water….struggling, struggling, struggling.  time has slowed and we fear help will not come in time.

we are staring death in the face and it is terrifying.

we are powerless.

some teenagers in their fishing boat arrive first.  then the firemen, paramedics, rescue/dive team.   they carry my youngest boy onto the stretcher and into the ambulance, then my husband.  Their bodies so weakened by hypothermia, they are  shaking shaking, my boy looses consciousness, then comes back talking gibberish, crying out in pain.  my older boy and i, we watch, we speak strengthening words to them, we pray.  we make decisions-will we ride in the ambulance with them or follow in the car?  which hospital?

we are all well cared for, the doctors do their jobs.  the boys all begin to recover, both the ones in the water and the one standing powerless on the shore.

after a few days, when everyone is back to school and work, i sit in the quiet….

….and wail.

men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury.  and the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied.  the more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured…

screwtape to wormwood -cs lewis

it is not strange these painful things that happen.  i know, i know.  the injury on this particular day was pointed, specific, cutting deep into a desire and felt legitimate claim.

and so i lament.

lament would provide a bridge back to the safe presence of God….only someone engaged in life can lament.

a sacred sorrow -michael card

gravity is a law of nature, a reality of life.  it cannot be thwarted, controlled, denied.

i am lamenting many things, but the main thing is; the absence of security.  like the presence of gravity exists, so does the absence of security.  i have no power or control over the outcome of a planned day.  i cannot lay claim to any expectation of smooth waters, joy-filled experiences, or long days with the ones i love.  in an instant it all can be taken.  all. of. it.

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for the past 3 years i’ve been memorizing Romans chapter 8.  it’s taking a long time.

i think i’m reciting to myself to help get thru these days following tragedy, where the rug has been pulled out from under me and i’ve discovered there is no floor.  i think i’m behind because it’s taking so many years to memorize this one chapter.  i think lots of things that are merely a shadow of the reality of a God that is near.

…hope that is seen is no hope at all.  who hopes for what he already has?  but if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

i weep and wail at these words.  i confess that i no longer know how to pray.  standing on that shore, i cried for help only, reasoning that my boy and husband in heaven with their savior was to their gain and my loss.  wondering how to move forward with a heart of flesh instead of stone.  knowing that i can plan and dream and create, but i cannot control and am given no guarantee that fun or rest or simple monotony will follow.  i am promised trouble, and joy.  i don’t know how to expect both.  i don’t know how to pray.

…in the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express…

Michael Card is on to something.  as i lament, as i weep and wail and honestly express all the things i’m thinking and feeling, the One who translates it all crosses over the bridge and engulfs me with His very safe presence.

Young gives the meaning of rest as “rest again, cease from, rest thoroughly.”  Rest again is the word for today.  We are not promised smooth roads, but rough.  When things are smooth we should look up in delight and thanksgiving, thinking of them as breathing spaces rather than as the normal condition of things. Rough roads make it certain that we shall often come to our Lord for rest.   Our dear Lord will never be surprised by our frequent coming.  He will never tire of resting us, and in the rest He gives His strength.  His invitation stands sure:  Come unto Me and I will give you rest, rest again.

-Amy Carmichael

He is in me.  He is for me.  He is with me.  He is my hope.  it is enough.


to draw further in:  a playlist for times of lament.  Stars by Skillet.  Never let go by David Crowder.  Fierce by Jesus Culture.  I won’t let you go by Switchfoot.  It is well by Bethel Music.

pondering with Mary

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And coming to her, the angel said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”  But she was greatly perplexed at what he said, and kept carefully considering what kind of greeting this was….The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Highly favored, that’s what the angel told her; she had found favor with God.

“While they were [in Bethlehem] the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

i’ve been pondering Gabriel’s words, coupled with all that lie ahead for Mary; all the loneliness, the misunderstandings, the rejections…. it would have been a long and exhausting 9 months.  then they arrive in Bethlehem to discover no room for them.  As Mary set up camp in that barn, did she grumble and stomp;

is this the way the Lord favors?

how many days did they stay there before the ‘time came for the baby to be born?’  a week, two?  uncomfortable and very pregnant, was she able to sleep?  did she snap at Joseph-had he tried-really tried- to find them somewhere else to stay?  the baby would be coming soon-were they to have him here?  Had God completely abandoned them?  were they so very alone?

He was despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him.

as the ones chosen to carry this Savior to term, to then love and parent him….did Mary and Joseph bear this same fate?

as a follower of this Savior-as one in whom He dwells….is this my story too?  when loneliness, fatigue and rejection set in, when the condition of my home is frustrating me, when the contrasts of this world seem to weigh heavier on the dark side…. will i grumble and stomp;

it this what it means to be highly favored?

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And if we are His children, then we are His heirs also: heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [sharing His spiritual blessing and inheritance], if indeed we share in His suffering so that we may also share in His glory.

maybe for Mary, when she began to set up camp in that barn it went this way instead;

huh…this is not what i thought it’d be like in Bethlehem.  thank you Joseph for trying your best to make my bed of hay comfortable.  the baby will be coming soon.  let us pray for the strength we need.  Gabriel said i am highly favored.  God will be present here.  He will provide help.  we are not alone.

 

maybe for me too,  setting up camp in this life, it can go this way instead:  “He has said he is enthralled with my beauty, He keeps track of the stars, He dearly loves me.  God will be present here.  He will provide help.  i am not alone.

For I consider [from the standpoint of faith] that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us!

 

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Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth Peace to men
on whom His favor rests

May you experience His assurance of His delight and deep deep love for you this Christmas season.  


To draw further in: Luke 1:28-38; Luke 2; Romans 8: 17-18 amp; Philippians 3:9-11; Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 45:11

 

a study in contrasts

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the pictures scroll through randomly as my screen saver.  a boy with a stick and a tire amongst the red dirt of Uganda.  my two boys hugging tigger at disney world.  snow on mountain peaks.  the sunrise over the train tracks near my house.  it stops me sometimes as i walk past-these are all photos taken by me, grouped randomly by my computer-a study in the contrasts of my existence.

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i sat to think about the intensity of the last 24 hours.  pausing for quiet, to recover, to be restored, redeemed.  my mind moves back a day, back a day, back a day.  the intensity of the last month….year….5 years….

i breath.  in.  out.  pray prayers without words.

“if you are tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”

+++

Alleppo has fallen

refugees are making sleeping bags for refugees. 

the grey house with the green door on the corner of 7th boasts flashing lights “porn!” “Live girls”  a marajuana leaf, a car missing it’s window

my neighbor is remodeling.
her house looks beautiful,
i so appreciate it’s beauty.

one of my neighbors’ house caught fire on election night.
it was in the attic.  now there are keep out posters on the doors
due to asbestos

i stood and watched the firemen do their thing.
with smoke pouring in next door, a neighbor steps away
to close her windows
and get a cup of cold water for the one who was in the house
when it caught fire

this little house of ours is overflowing with art projects,
christmas projects, school papers, children fighting,
a broken dryer, piles of dishes,

 the heat and plumbing are working,
children are also laughing,
scheming surprises for one another.
christmas lights will soon shine their joy
into the dark of night.

one minute i lament,

the next i praise

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i’ve been praying,
and these are what my prayers look like;
dear god
i come from two countries
one is thirsty
the other is on fire
both need water

.later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered
everywhere
everywhere
everywhere

-Warsan Shire

+++

i’ve been praying too.
prayers that look messy
full of stuttering, absent of many words.

i walk through these days
gazing at the world travelers
i whisper
where is the beauty?

worldsbeauty

they answer

everywhere
everywhere
everywhere


instagram: fingerprintofgod; theexodusroad; natgeo; solehope; tiinautti;theexodusroad;
there are many more expressions of beauty i’ve found on instagram.  my list is  here.

to draw further in: Isaiah 40, 58; Psalm 91, Romans 8, Matthew 4:12-17; O Come O Come Immanuel

remembering while we wait

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we are waiting…
we have not forgotten.

-Christmas Canon

it’s been cold these last couple weeks.  following an unseasonably warm fall, we’ve leaped off a cliff from 60 degrees down to 2.  wind whips while this mother and her son run across the parking lot dashing into the warmth of the auditorium.  shortly i’ll watch my boy dutifully put on his band concert-yawning and looking around as his stick keeps time on the cymbal.  he’s frustrated and bummed that his favorite teacher of all time took another job this year, leaving him behind to yawn his way through with one who yells at him if he attempts to jazz things up a bit.   “maybe things will be better next year in high school,” i offer-the only consolation i can think of-wondering if it sounds as lame to him as it does to me?

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she turns the  6 month chip around and around between thumb and finger, “i don’t understand why i would be tempted now?  i KNOW there is no life there, so why these urges to use again?”  this friend of hers fumbles through a prayer, hoping beyond hope that the One who hears will tend His little lamb as the Shepherd that He is.

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one of them sits comfortable and warm, in her fancy house with her fancy car and faithful servants to come and care for her child and clean her house.  another sits in a church, homeless and alone, but a warm bed and a home cooked meal greet her each evening as she and her toddler enter.  their lives seem so vastly different…..yet so very much the same. they battle their guilt and shame, deflecting off on to any inanimate object, seeking absolution from a statue made of wood.  her mind says it’s working, but her heart knows no release from the misery of living under shame’s heavy hand.  i wonder if there is any hope?  the only remedy i have to offer is left behind with the dinner as they each leave their respective table.  “thank you for coming.” says one as i gather my coat.  “thank you for giving me a comfortable place to rest.” says the other as i make the rounds to lock up for the night. tonight one will lay her head on an air mattress, the other a feather pillow.  tonight both will sleep with their souls crushed under a weight they cannot lift.

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type, delete, type delete.  i struggle to pray.  struggle to find words.  my tounge feels tied.  fatigue weighs heavy, thoughts swim around and around and around.  i had words yesterday when worship overwhelmed me.  i come faithfully to meet with the Object of yesterday’s worship, to draw on His strength, to find my words again.  just as i cannot force Him to appear in a way that i can grab hold of, so i cannot force words to flow in a way i can grab hold of either.  this advent i longed to offer more here.  but this is all i’ve got.

~~~~

we are all waiting.  my boy who is finding the class he used to love the most to be the one he likes the least.  my friend longing for the day when the urge to use is truly forever gone, never to catch her off guard again.  the two ladies i shared separate meals with, one homeless, the other affluent, both needing release from themselves.  and me, fighting for words to come, waiting for them to flow when i am able to receive them, pin them down, and share them here.  we are all waiting…..

rejoice! rejoice!
Immanuel
will come to you
o Israel.

in the wait…..i

have

not forgotten.

hope for the unsuccessful

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it is a difficult thing to be entrusted with living breathing small humans, tasked with the job of guiding them into adulthood.  this morning after yet another rough dialog i find myself in a place of needing to do some work, of not having time to waste, and yet being so full of all the emotions that i can’t focus or move forward.  tears cloud my vision, discouragement and despair threaten to take over.  teenagers are complicated as are middle aged adult women (such as me).

i find it so easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees these days.

IMG_3403two weeks ago i prepared a training session for a group of women who lead school age students in bible study.  the remains of this session spill from my pile of papers. but of course, i sigh as i kneel down to pick them up.  providentially one of the papers catches hold of my tear-filled eye and i pay attention.

i’d given each group a piece of paper with a line down the middle and the words successful and unsuccessful at the top.  the instructions were to list off things that make them feel this way in their classrooms.  then i gave them a fill in the blank sheet to complete as i recited the following truths:

Looking to God’s purpose vs. a personal sense of success.

i…prefer things to go smoothly, and feel more comfortable when i’m in control.

God….often works through human weakness and failure, and invites me to yield to His control.

Being prepared and purposeful is important and necessary.  It is good and nice to have a classroom run smoothly….

yet…

The struggles i face do not represent failure, but opportunity for growth…and to see God do amazing things through an unlikely vessel such as myself.  it is more important that God is glorified than that i feel successful.

it is more important that God is glorified than that i feel successful.

True success is allowing God’s higher purposes to prevail.

in light of all of this…how will my inner dialog change?  how will my prayers change?

 

IMG_3545i prepared that lesson, i read those words out loud two weeks ago.  today it’s as if i’m seeing them for the first time.  choosing to reject the mocking of myself about that and instead letting them wash over me afresh, in this moment, after this particular argument, with this particular child.

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methods and mothers may fail (guilty and guilty)
children may falter and fail

God’s love never fails.
God’s higher purpose prevails.

 and that right there brings me such a depth of hope and a settled calm.  my inner dialog does change, and so do my prayers.

maybe you too?


to draw further in:  meditating on Matthew 11:25-30, Hebrews 2-4 and what it means to make every effort to enter into the Rest/Easy Yoke of Jesus.

 

a feeble fasting

 

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i pray for victory and it comes in the form of sheets on my couch instead of admittance into a facility staffed with skilled folks.  believing instead that the enemy still has the upper hand in the life of one who longs to be free from his grip, the 5 of us make space in an already tight and cramped home.  we spend the mornings on the back porch with tea and cigarettes.  she sees me on the floor scrubbing the bathroom, she excuses herself when words are tense between a parent and teen.  she joins us in gut laughter at the dinner table over some joke a middle school boy tells.  she wakes to this same boy fixing her tea and toast while his parents are at their early morning bible study.  this is our junk and our joy.  and victory from the One who knows her frame looked like sending her to spend 3 weeks with us, regardless of what i believed.

pain and heart longings were often the topics of our back porch discussions and today as i sit for the first time alone back there, i find myself missing the morning moments of clarity and healing that my Victorious King brought to my doubting and hurting heart through our discussions.  i miss being a witness to an enemy who is ruthless and a Mighty God who never lets go, never lets go, never lets go.

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there was a day early in februray that marked the beginning of lent;  that season of fasting.  i had spent time pondering what, if anything, i’d give up.  but then a phone call and i forgot all about it as life took it’s own turns and bends and shape.

is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter?

a call to love and be a hope bearer from the One who promises those who hope in Him will not be disappointed. except that i am prone to disappointment, discouragement and such doubt.  it grieves me so to admit it.  i need His help to overcome my unbelief every. single. day.

i wrestled hard in prayer for this one sleeping on my couch, prayers yes for the Lord to have victory, but cries too that i would believe and not doubt that it was so.  that i would carry hope instead of the real hopelessness that i actually felt.  and one day she says to me; “you gave me hope.  when i didn’t have any hope in myself, you did.”

then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.  Then you will call, and the LORD will answer, you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.

the journey for both of us is long and there is no guarantee it will ‘all turn out ok’ as we might think.  but there is a God in Heaven and He gives hope to a weary one through a doubting one.  Who is a God like our God?  able to do the miraculous on a dry and splintery back porch?

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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.

i never understood this verse before.  but today i see, the only reason hope does not disappoint is because of the Holy Spirit-He does His work through us who are all weakness.

The Strength of our hearts will do His work through us who are all weakness.

take heart, I have overcome.  I am the Root, and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.  Yes I am coming soon.

amen. come Lord Jesus.  and may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  and when your trust waivers?  may He strengthen your frame and satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land.


to draw further in:  Isaiah 58, John 16:33; 1 John 5:4-5; Romans 5, 15:13, Revelation 12:11; 15:3-4; 22

hope for the hopeless

dener rescue mission

about an hours drive from here there is a place that offers hope and healing for those facing homelessness and addiction.  their newsletters remind me of the possibility, remind me that Jesus Saves.  i need to be reminded….often.

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in the morning light the sky is grey and cloudy, my little city full of contrasts.  the deep red of the train car and the yellow lights of the mini school bus stand against the snow that has become grey and black.  the colors of the houses seem muted with the grey empty trees that tower above them.  but as i drive further out towards my son’s middle school i get a glimpse of the mountains.  those mountains have ministered to my heavy heart before and today is no different.  the entire mountain is shadowed and deep blue…but the snow-capped peaks are glowing.  somehow the sun is breaking through the clouds just enough to shine on those peaks.  my son’s school is only 2 miles from our house which sits right in the middle of town,  yet from that vantage point 2 miles out i can see those sun kissed peaks.

my heart is heavy today over someone i have grown to love caught in the web of addiction and homelessness.  the small hope from last night has been crushed under the weight of the phone call this morning.  getting a glimpse of those peaks as my son and i wait our turn in the drop off line causes me to catch my breath and  i quickly call out ‘l love you, have a good day’ as the tears begin their release.  half of me has been listening and engaged as i make the pb&j and get my kids out the door, the other half has been in the depths of prayers reminding myself and my God of His sole Ability and Power.

but truth be told, my heart is full of doubts and hopelessness.  i begin to listen to the wondering if Jesus is able to save, if He is able to rescue, if hope is even possible?  as i drive back home, those peaks begin to be hidden behind the tall ancient trees,  i catch glimpses of them only because i now know to look.  but by the time i reach home, they are completely hidden from my view.  This world is grey and dark, shadows of addiction and sin and a myriad of problems we all know so well hover.  but somewhere the Sun is shining on the mountain peaks.  whether i can see it or not.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.

Because of His great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.


 

to draw further in:  Isaiah 40:26; Romans 7:21-8:39; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 12:10-11; all the ‘To Him who is Able…” verses.

 

Kingdom Come/things i learned this first month of 2016

writing has been so very hard this month of new beginnings.  thoughts mingle with beautiful sentences inside my head, but when pen hits paper or fingers touch keys they fly away like ornery fireflies, refusing to be captured.  snippets here and there, but nothing of length and so what better way to persevere than to gather the threads up and bring them to emily’s month end gathering.  it seemed hopeful to me to do so, and doing something hopeful feels a little like winning don’t you think?

caroling, cancer and first and second things.

someone we love was too weak from her cancer fight to make it to Christmas eve services.  when i heard the news the first thought that entered my ordinary small brain was this; “we should go caroling to her.”  always so quick to deem my inner thoughts silly i left them there, but the Spirit had His way with another and the message made its way among the congregation.  after worshiping in our church building, we took it outside and drove over in the dark to her front door to bring ‘tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy.’  singing to one so very weak and frail assaulted all of my senses and through tears i lifted my head up to heaven and cried out; “what is in fact the point of this?  she will still have cancer in the morning.”

a few days later i’m stirring chicken soup on her stove listening to her family share how much the caroling ministered to their very souls.  he says he will remember our singing for the rest of his days….days that will soon be spent learning how to live life without his dear beloved wife.

january 1st she  went home

and the One who welcomed her into His arms whispered to my soul; “curing cancer is a secondary thing.  ministering to the spirit of My beloved?  that is a first thing work.  singing at her door those tidings of comfort and joy brought My Kingdom Come.  child, keep learning to trust Me.”

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the parable of the merciful servant

he’s next to me in the car telling it all.  “my friend wanted something i had.  i said no.  my friend was mad.  my friend choked me and my neck got stuck in my zipper. ”

he keeps saying; “my friend, my friend.”

i know this ‘friend’ without my son ‘naming names.’  i am familiar with his ways.  my son’s choice of words gives me pause, i know he means what he says but i don’t understand.

two days later i’m standing on the playground watching  boys playing at football.  my son waits for this friend of his to be open and throws the ball to him.  i know it is intentional.  he’s shared many a time how he just wants this boy to have success.  to make a play, score a touchdown, have something to celebrate because he’s so often in trouble.  he misses the ball and my son calls out encouragement and building up words.  to the boy who choked him.

and the One who bled for these boys whispered to my soul “Kingdom come.”

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who do you think you are?

there has been this inner struggle that i’ve not been able to put a name to.  the One who knows my frame knows it, and knows just how to open my blind eyes and help me to see.  i saw that emily freemon was hosting a webinair on how to write a book proposal and i was drawn to it which didn’t make any sense at all.  i’m not writing a book or a book proposal.  i signed up anyway.  when she spoke the words naming a writer’s real fear; “who do you think you are?” the tears flowed freely.

one piece of the current struggle-not just in writing, but in being fully myself in the presence of others -has been exactly this.  a subtle accusation whispered and payed attention to.  what now, now that i see it?

well, the prayer went like this:

Lord, i still can’t do it, i still can’t write.
it doesn’t flow,
i still feel stuck.
kingdom come.

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a study in hope

Theologians talk about a prevenient grace that precedes grace itself and allows us to accept it.  I think there must also be a prevenient courage that allows us to be brave-that is, to acknowledge that there is more beauty than our eyes can bear, that precious things have been put into our hands and to do nothing to honor them is to do great harm. And therefore, this courage allows us, as the old men said, to make ourselves useful.  It allows us to be generous, which is another way of saying exactly the same thing.

Marilynne Robinson | Gilead: A Novel

There is a way in which the jesusy folk tend to write (I do it, too), and that way feels so disconnected from my real life that I could scream. I don’t feel disconnected with my Jesus, no, but I do feel disconnected with the pull inside me to sound this way or that – or with the pull of what others are doing so successfully to point to the kingdom of God. Maybe some perspectives are done; they’re processed, cooked up, and plated well. My perspective is still raw. I’ve barely cleaned these veggies.

Amber Haines | An Uncooked Story

People will tell you to put down your books and join the real world, for heaven’s sake. They will remind you that you live in a university dorm or an apartment reached by only a sliver of light or a temporary rental and do not even think of wasting time or money on land you do not own, but you would do well to smile and say nothing. Go on. Read. Read your books and dream your dreams. You are storing up treasures in heaven.

But after I tucked them in bed and in between her sobs and up the stairs and down, ushering children into jammies, I prayed a new kind of prayer. Prayer was no longer discipline, I was desperate. Tired and needy and confused. And weak. Really weak. There were no books to tell me what to expect from my child, with her particular history — her cocktail of losses and grief, who was wedged into our particular family. Even the best parenting strategies were not sufficient. I needed Him.

We were the kind of weak which many Christians spend their entire lives training themselves to not be.

Sara Haggerty | I Think I’ll Choose Weak, Today

 


thank you dear reader, for your gift of time spent here.  let’s continue on in hope, shall we?

may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

romans 15:13

 

Christmas-where you belong

the boys are out watching the new Star Wars movie, my girl and i are staying in to watch the Book Thief. i have my doubts, the book being a favorite i expect the movie to disappoint.  but we’ll give it a go and see.  across town a friend is battling hard against cancer and another dear one is waiting on a new prescription to ease his suffering, praying for sleep to come for the first time in months.  wives are waiting on husbands to fly home, children are spending their first Christmas split between families.

it’s a mixture of the reality of joy in a Savior come down and sorrow in a world waiting redemption.  as i prepared a card for my friend with the cancer, the words the Lord has been ministering to my heart are all i had to offer.  it’ what i offer you here.  it’s where a weary and burdened soul finds rest.

belong

oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, oh tidings of comfort and joy

May you and yours know both the comfort and joy that Christ Himself gives this season and into the new year, whatever it holds, as we wait for home.

for when you are waiting for health

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A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…..

~~///~~

The drive has been long in the night.  She pulls in tired and weary, she glances back at the slow and peaceful breathing of her sleeping ones.  resting her head on the steering wheel she breathes deep.   “Oh Lord, please make something out of this mess, somehow redeem these years, restore these hearts.”  she rests her eyes but is unable to rest her thoughts.

they tumble out of the car, the kids running free after being cooped up for the hours of driving it took to get there.  the family pile out the door with smiles painted on and arms out wide.  the expectations linger thick in the air as she braces herself at the trunk, breathing deep and praying for strength to endure.  one last breath and she gathers up the presents and bags and faces the music.  everyone else has already made their way inside, she enters, sets things down and joins the others around the dinner table.  the conversation stays where it always does, all the elephants packed neatly on the shelf and smiles all around.  “fine, fine fine”  echoes like the seagulls on finding nemo.  she smiles to herself at the picture as everyone shares all the ways they are ‘fine.’ 

she tries to play along, it’s only a short visit after all.  but when she looks in the eyes of the sulking teen and the toddler pulling for the hundredth time on his mama’s sleeve, she sees deep into the un-fineness of it all and something breaks.  the tears start slowly, and she tries to hold them in and look away.  it’s awkward and uncomfortable, first one set of eyes catch hers, than another.  the dam breaks and before she can excuse herself discretely, the room grows silent as all eyes rest on her.  broken under the weight of all the brokenness sitting around this table, she lets the grief flow.

she receives a pat on the shoulder with; “now dear it can’t be so bad” and someone breaks the tension with a request for potatoes.  the room fills up again with conversations about great aunt myrtle’s oysters and that time it snowed so hard no one could come for Christmas.

she looks up and glances over again at the teen and toddler.  the toddler happily plays with his cranberry sauce, the teen moves her food around.  she stares around this table of brokenness.  she wonders about hope.  

This is what the sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”

~~///~~

christmaslightstree

the above words are a work of fiction, my attempt to paint a picture.  the realities are stories too close, too painful to share.  the levels of dis-function and unhealthy patterns of relating that we have been walking alongside this month seem to have reached epic proportions. it is magnified on all sides i think because these holiday seasons are the times when time with extended families increases.  i have been battling against despair,  against loosing hope.  as far as the eyes can see health is not appearing.  repentance continues to be rejected and all the striving and excuses and “fine, fine, fine” remains the norm.  my heart grieves.

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
He rises to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!

The reality is that the Only One who can bear the weight of my hope is Jesus Himself.  The Holy One of Israel who longs to be gracious, who rises to show compassion, who is a God of justice; it’s His light which shines in the darkness.  it’s just the darkness has not understood it.  a hope that thrills is this:  yonder lays a new and glorious morn.

For today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.

He is a Wonder of a Counselor, a Mighty God, the owner and ruler of Peace.  we are all weakness, yes, us who want to love well, who want to bring the light of LIFE that is real living, but God….our God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can even fathom, He is the strength of our heart and our portion forever.

in the waiting, i remember ^^.

in remembering, hope appears.

when hope appears, peace descends and along with it a release of the outcomes into the capable hands of a Father who is good.

with release, i can show up again….from a place of health.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in HIm,
so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.


to draw further in:  Isaiah 30, quoted above vs. 15 and 17, John 1, Isaiah 9, Psalm 73:26,  Romans 15:13, O Holy Night.

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