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 2 of 5)

for when you are waiting for relief

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are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?

a year ago i prayed with an intensity that can only be explained as a movement of the Spirit.  i prayed for a “hope that wouldn’t mock, but pull you up even just a little out of the pit you are currently in.  oh, it is so despairing, dear Lord, please grant Your Beloved some relief.”

i shared this prayer of hope with the ones it was for and all day long i carried around faith of a child; expectant and excited to see how their Ever Present One would succor their weary hearts that day.

turns out it was one of their most hopeless days ever.

blessed is he who is not offended in Me

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the logical fallacies that seem so, well, logical, fall like rain and gather in pools in my mind.  doubt becomes a dog at my heals that refuses to leave.  i’m walking with the limp of one whose boot is engulfed in mud.  this is how prayer feels now, heavy and weighted down.

But we know our Father. We know His character.  Somehow, somewhere, the wrong must be put right; how we do not know, only we know that, because He is what He is, anything else is inconceivable.

For the word sent to the man whose soul was among lions and who was soon to be done to death, unsuccoured, though the Lord of Daniel was so near, is fathomless:  “And blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in Me.”

-Amy Carmichael Rose from Brier, emphasis mine

one of the errors in reasoning is that the more i fumble in prayer/doubt the quicker i’m tempted to quit.  ‘your prayers cause more harm than help’ the dog growls, they reveal to you a God who is cruel.

the argument is rendered invalid because i know that God is not cruel.  Mysterious, yes.  Wild and Big and completely Other, yes.  i do know His character.

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There is only one place where we can receive, not an answer to our question, but peace–that place is Calvary.  An hour at the foot of the Cross steadies the soul as nothing else can.  “O Christ beloved, Thy Calvary stills all our questions.”  Love that loves like that can be trusted about this.
-Amy Carmichael

tho in my limp i lack courage to share my prayers with these dear ones still suffering; i’m still praying.  praying for moments of laughter, the kind that takes their breath away and does the work that only laughter can do for a soul.  prayers hoping in Stephen’s God to ease their suffering with a tangible glimpse of His nearness.  and when the words get stuck in my throat, i lift up these:

O Lord, we bring Thee him for whom we pray,
Be Thou his strength, his courage, and his stay,
And should his faith flag as he runs the race,
Show him again the vision of Thy face.

Be Thou his vision, Lord of Calvary,
Hold him to follow, hold him fast by Thee,
O Thou who art more near to us than air,
Let him not miss Thee, ever, everywhere.

LORD, Thou hast suffered, Thou dost know
The thrust of pain, the piercing dart,
How wearily the wind can blow
Upon the tired heart.

He whom Thou lovest, Lord, is ill.
O come, Thou mighty Vanquisher
Of wind and wave, say, Peace, be still,
Eternal Comforter.

-Amy Carmichael

but even if You do not, oh Eternal Comforter,  You Who sang of John’s greatness; doubting, imprisoned John longing for relief–  steady us at the foot of Your love poured out, remember us with an overshadowing of Your still small voice;

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   I am your Abba, and you belong to Me.

to draw further in:  Matthew 11, Daniel 3:16-18, Amy Carmichael’s book Rose from Brier

those pictures of the green leaves and pink flowers growing out of the largest thorns i have ever seen were taken at the San Diego zoo.  i think we stopped and marveled at this fascinating plant just as long as we did the pandas.

*logical fallacy= a flaw in the structure of a deductive argument which renders the argument invalid/an error in reasoning that renders an argument invalid.  when your kids enter high school they use phrases that you are supposed to know, having gone to high school once yourself.  i had to look it up too.

for when you are waiting to be seen

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“so what do you do?”

there are people who are able to put a nice boxed up title around what it is that they do.  i am not one of them.  and feeling a bit lost in my identity just plain goes with the territory, boxed up title or not.  i know that my identity is in Christ and not in what i do, yet what i do is deeply connected to who i am.

here in this tiny little corner of the big wide web i write.  there are other small things i do in my brick and mortar life, but my answer to the person who most recently asked this question were these two words;

“i write.”

“oh!  what do you write?”  she responded, genuinely interested in me and my mysterious life.

“uh….i don’t really know.”

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i’ve questioned the time i spend blogging, we aren’t a family with large resources and it would not hurt for me to get a j.o.b.  one will be heading off to college in the near future and the other two following close behind.  who am i to think spending time on this writing is adding value to anyone?  the voice of my college creative writing professor rings loud and clear-he said i had no talent.  it was ok, i was in school to be an engineer anyway.

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 There is a lost art of studying the works of others to find your own style. All of the “masters” were first apprentices. The apprentice sat beside the “masters”, listening to their process, paintbrush in hand, mixing paint, creating strokes that told a story, and stirred their creative spirit.

Jeanne Oliver Studying Under the Master’s Art course*

my painting daughter has a large oil painting that was due last friday.  the professor gave everyone an extension for monday.  she painted all. weekend. long.  yet only half of the stone church sits below the glowing sunset above it.  she brought in what was done and her professor’s words stand in contrast to mine; “hannah, you are one of my most talented students.  many painters spend a year on a painting like this, you can turn it in whenever it is finished.”

the point is, dear hannah, to keep painting.   keep studying the masters and their process. grow and shift things around when needed.  but by all means, don’t quit.

we don’t live in an apprentice culture anymore, but the concept has value to me when i let it.   my perception of an apprentice is one who works long and hard hours without pay, status, or tangible outcomes.  they are behind the scenes, unseen.  they do the work because of a hope for what is not yet, but will be.

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unseen.  hope for what is not yet, but will be.  apprenticing.  the slow process of growing into a truer version of myself.  this is what the writing life is for me.  it’s still unseen and in process.  it takes an immense amount of courage and patience to do the apprenticeship work, to believe that the One who knit me together has value to add to this world through words i compose.  small work is challenging in it’s hidden-ness no matter what form that work takes i think.  but there is One who entered the world He created through the smallest way possible-who arrived as an ordinary baby, in a tiny little corner of the big wide world.

He is the God who both sees and knows what it is to be unseen.

the point is, dear me, to keep writing.  let it take years if it needs to.  but by all means, don’t quit.


*Jeanne Oliver’s Creative Network is free to join, and the costs of the courses offered vary.  even though my art does not involve paint, i’ve taken a couple of her courses and had the privilege of meeting her when my daughter took one of her classes.  she is inspiring, delightful, and such a gift to the art world.  i highly recommend visiting her site no matter what kind of artist you may be.)

i’ve found paying attention to other artists and their process to be extremely valuable.  most recently i joined hope*writers, a community of fellow writers hosted by author’s that i trust:

A community of people who write about hope, who value encouragement and practical advice about writing as craft, business, and calling.

The community is called hope*writers. We believe we do our best work when we have good support. We want to help you skip the learning curve we’ve had to struggle through.

-the hope*writer’s team

 

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the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.

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discouragement threatens to take over like ice holding life captive.  and i know what is true.  i know Jesus wins.  i know His light will break through darkness.  i know His presence is real and true even though it isn’t felt.  He keeps track of the stars, He holds the ocean in His hands.

still, reciting the truth to myself doesn’t seem to melt my heart growing cold.

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i join other’s more faithful and rest my hands on a man who is suffering.  and the words they fall short, they stumble under the tears and longings unmet for oh, just a glimpse of You Lord.  Stephen, while being stoned, got to see heaven open before him, oh Lord, just a glimpse of you would bring such encouragement and strength to endure.  please?

and grief sidles up next to the discouragement and they draw a wider circle around my heart.  grief over my own lack of faith in the goodness of a God who gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.  i’m pleading with the Lord with more doubt than faith, it seems these days there is more doubt than faith and i long to be a better lover to the Shepherd of my soul.

little baby,
i am a poor boy too,
i have no gift to bring,
that’s fit to give a king

the ice wraps around and knowing that my Sovereign God is faithful and true, oh so worthy of my trust, doesn’t melt the discouragement grief and doubt away.  i know i’m struggling to trust Him.  I know He is worthy of my trust.  i preach the gospel to myself, i remember and remember and remember.  but i can’t seem to create the trust i lack.  i am a poor girl too, i’ve no gift to bring, fit for my King of Kings.

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we’re driving along this beautiful winding road.  the kids in the back seats delighting in the curves and hills, my capable and loving husband at the wheel taking his family from place to place, navigating the weather and traffic and enjoying the ride.  He slows down for pictures and speeds up for tummy-tickling joy.  i sit in the passenger seat missing it.  i’m the drowning swimmer needing a slap in the face so as not to drown the lifeguard seeking to rescue her.  i know this.  i know there is no reason for the fear that has joined in with discouragement, doubt and grief.  but the knowing doesn’t melt the ice.  and i long to share in the joy of the others and for peace to descend out of the chaos and take a firmer hold of my heart.  i pray and pray and pray.

and wait.

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take heart, your redemption is near

dear ones listen, friends pray.  hymns penetrate.  tears fall freely while the worship band sings.

we are a flock unworthy, lambs frightened and silly and dumb.  we are the sheep of His pasture.  we are the sheep the babe came to save. we are desperate and needing redemption from a God who comes down.

the preacher reminds us of the cloud of witnesses, those who’ve walked in such darkness, who’ve seen a great light and bear witness to the glory of knowing Christ.

and the suffering one reads aloud…

though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  Praise be to our God and Father, in His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through His own resurrection from the dead.   set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

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there is no hope in my ability to respond to the stuff of life with faith hope and trust.  my hope is reduced fully to the grace given when Jesus Christ, the One willing and able to keep me from falling, the One who fights for me, the One who never leaves or forsakes even when i think He has, my hope is reduced fully to the grace given to me when this Jesus is revealed before me and i see Him as He is.

Abba, i belong to you. *

peace descends and the ice begins to melt.


to draw further in:  Acts 7, Revelation 6:9-11, 1 Peter 1:3-13; 2:9-10, Isaiah 30-33; 40-42; O Come O Come Emmanuel, Christmas Canon

*Brennan Manning.

 

returning to worship

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Thanksgiving vs. Christmas

this year, for the first time in ever, Christmas has infiltrated my Thanksgiving fortress.

all the kids have Thanksgiving week off and we have a road trip planned.  This road trip has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, or Christmas for that matter, it’s just that it coincided time off for everyone and resources available to travel.  we’ve been planning and anticipating for ages, focusing in on the states and sights and mapping our course.  to say we are all excited is quite the under-statement and it’s just now sinking in that we are also in the midst of the holiday season.

because of being gone for these last two Sunday’s in November, i had to begin the Advent study i’m leading early to fit all the lessons in.  and a few of the sights we’ve picked for our trip will be all decked out for Christmas.

in the middle of the night, with study and trip prep swirling around inside my head, something occurred to me.  as i pondered the advent lessons and anticipated the Christmasy sights headed our way, i was reminded of my stubborn battle cry of; “no things Christmas until after Thanksgiving….by golly we will be thankful thankful thankful!!” and i became doubly aware that this resistance has little to do with Christ, and everything to do with culture. in my fight against culture, i’ve inadvertently bought into the lie of what Christmas is actually about.

i know what Christmas is about.  we decorate with nativity sets and have a Bible under our tree instead of presents.  We bring Christ into it in every way possible.

do you see the subtle lie woven into what i just said?  We bring Christ into it? is not the whole of Christmas Christ bringing Himself to us?  (que the music; and the soul felt it’s worth)

as i’ve begun early to meditate on Christ’s coming, as i’ve prepped for our trip and a Thanksgiving week different than it’s ever been, i’ve realized that in my fight to keep Christ in Christmas and Thankfulness in Thanksgiving, i’ve unknowingly declared that the world has triumphed and the battle is mine to wage.  this year, the Spirit who speaks to the churches has been infiltrating my heart in a whole new way-as He does year by year, month by month, day by day, hour by hour.  it’s a re-setting of worship, and it looks a little like pondering the Christ-child early;  a little like being awe-struck and immensely thankful for the babe in a manger, a Lamb come to save His people from their sins.  a little like breaking through my stubborn resolve and allowing the fluidness of the Spirit to be my guide instead.

….regardless of what the calendar says.


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on paris and suffering

these days haven’t been completely consumed with prepping for our trip and the stuff of life.  i’ve seen the news headlines and read the reports.  we as a family also watch and pray for the persecuted and my heart has held a vigil for those in N. Korea for years.  we’ve people near and dear suffering just down the road and our prayers for healing continue to be prayed without seeing any visible results.

i’ve no profound words today to offer that would do anything for all the questions.  but there are those who do and i wanted to point to them:

Seth Haines book Coming Clean just released last month.  it’s a book about pain and faith and offers such nourishment and companionship to anyone else who has experienced suffering and the questions that come. (which, unless i’m missing something, would include all of humanity.)

Emily Freemon offers us a Prayer for those who are grieving.  

and a couple of years on the tail end of a fire that was on the tail end of a different fire there was a flood-and i penned some words about it-taking comfort from this song by Christa Wells that she is now offering for free: This Thing is Not Going to Break You 


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both the art of these fine artists and the Spirit’s movement in my heart lift my eyes away from the calendar and the newscasts pointing them instead towards the One who was and is and is to come.

thus, worship is restored.


to draw further in:  Revelation 4 and 5, Romans 8, Matthew 1, Luke 1-2

 

 

life | down paths i fear to see

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I said, “Let me walk in the field.”
God said, “No, walk in the town.”
I said, “There are no flowers there.”
He said, “No flowers, but a crown.”

I said, “But the sky is black,
There is nothing but noise and din.”
He wept as He sent me back,
“There is more,” He said, “there is sin.”

I pleaded for time to be given.
He said, “Is it hard to decide?
It will not seem hard in heaven
to have followed the steps of your Guide.”

I cast one look at the field,
Then set my face to the town.
He said, “My child do you yield?
Will you leave the flowers for a crown?”

Then into His hand went mine,
and into my heart came He.
Now i walk with a light Divine,
The path i had feared to see.

-What Christ Said by George MacDonald. 
find the complete poem here

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ten years ago i found myself in the middle of packing boxes preparing to move into the tiniest house ever right smack dab in the middle of town instead of the dreamed and worked towards log cabin in the mountains.  i remember clearly hearing the Lord’s whisper; “I am answering your prayers”  It made no sense at the time for it felt like He was answering my prayers with a big fat NO! still i pondered His whisper in my heart and watched and waited.  now, these 10 years later, i can see it.  how my deep heart longings and desires for my children and family were answered with a big YES! via a path i would never have known to choose.

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the children have grown from toddlers to teens, yet following my Guide down paths i fear to see has remained a consistant theme for me.  what i’m beginning to grasp is that these are becoming the very places where He does His best heart work.  where He grows us and heals us and frees us.  these paths are often neither easy nor comfortable, and at times i’m being led straight into the valley of sorrow unable to comprehend the rivers of joy that await me on the other side.

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recently i found myself praying during the long dark hours of the night.  unable to sleep with an ache that can only be quieted by the One who knows, i walked circles in the floor and laid my heart bare before my faithful and wise God.  daylight came and life continued on as it does, but there was a settling and a watching and a waiting on my capable Father.  doors appeared and decisions were made completely unrelated to my late night longings….or so i thought.  as far as the eye could see there was no connection between the ordinary goings about in that day and the restless wrestling of the night before.

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but the One who governs the sun, moon and stars-He knew.  and today i find myself completely amazed at the way He orchestrated such a perfect answer to those prayers that night.  i’m in awe at the ways He is responding to the desires and secret petitions of my heart.  here again it is on a path where i have said-out loud to other people-that i would not walk.  a path i said wasn’t a good fit for our family.  today-this particular path-is precisely what our family needed.

what if the thing we think we need will actually prevent our true longings from being fulfilled?  what if the things we think will ruin everything will actually give us life?

could it be that some of the places we run away from are the very places that hold the deepest treasures, deepest freedoms, deepest joys?

 

He’s teaching me to go where He says go, when He says to –not because i understand, or even expect anything but more pain or frustration, or even have any notion of the connection between the latest command and prayer of my heart –no, i go because my Guide can be trusted where He leads, because He is for me, and He knows better how to fulfill my heart longings than my small brain can comprehend.

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where is it for you?  is there somewhere you are running away from, turning back because what is ahead is a valley of sorrow and you are afraid? confused?  take heart!  there is a whole cloud of witnesses cheering you on.  david was afraid too as he trusted in his God.  Abe was confused too when he reasoned that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead.  and dear ol’ Paul, through learning, was persuaded that this One he knew and believed was able to keep that which he had committed to Him.  and then there is JJ Heller….

He is able.  i know Whom i have believed.  i will trust.

 

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in

Psalm 37;  2 Timothy 1:12, Genesis 22:5; Hebrews 11:19

waiting through the dark night of the soul

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…in the early days of spiritual life, the soul often finds delight in devotional activities:  We love to read the Bible, we hunger for worship we long to pray.”

-John Ortberg, Soul Keeping

i sit with my Bible, Daily Light and my journal, and stare off into space.  i have experienced the life found in saturating my soul with His words, and yet, here i sit and there is nothing.  i attempt to read and it all just goes right out into space and i can’t take hold of anything.  i, the one who has been writing words since i learned to write, cannot form a sentence, cannot find words to pray.

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“But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper.  He will remove the previous consolation of the soul in order to teach it….” In the dark night, my prayers feel like they reach no higher than the ceiling. In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes.  In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.”

-John Orgberg, Soul Keeping (quoting The Dark Night of the Soul by Saint John of the Cross. This Saint John of the Cross describes the dark night of the soul as not just the experience of suffering, but the suffering in what feels like the silence of God.)

my Rock has been silent.  for quite a long time.  He’s not a tame lion you see, as CS Lewis would say.  and yet, He hasn’t been altogether silent.  there have been the middle of the night awakenings, where His word pinpoints and brings comfort and conviction.  The moments of standing at the sink of dishes and being overcome with prayers that bring me straight to my knees.  He’s just been uncontrollable.  and i’ve been thirsty.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

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all summer long i’ve been sitting with Psalm 19

pondering what it means that nothing is hidden from the heat of the sun and the correlation between that and “the law of the LORD, the statues of the LORD, the precepts of the LORD, the commands, the fear, the ordinances of the LORD.

pondering that and wholeheartedly declaring as if it was my own pen which penned the words; Who can discern his errors?  Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins, may they not rule over me. and oh, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer.

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When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes embittered and angry.  There are some who become angry at themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do.  They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation….Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give.

-John Ortberg Soul Keeping

as i’ve wrestled with this silence and distance, and then sudden nearness and loudness of my God-i’ve longed to tame Him.  i’ve longed to figure out what caused this riff and distance between us, i’ve longed to capture His nearness that i could control it and bring it forth when i need it.

because i need Thee every hour.

because He is my strength, i cannot make it without Him.

as if His silence means His absence.

except that it doesn’t.

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Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

and so, as i wait on Him in the darkness, i continue to show up with my Bible and Journal and pen, knowing that He is present whether i feel Him or not, whether i hear from Him or not.  and when my deep longings and deepest fears wake me in the middle of the night and He meets me there with balm and communion and connection-i drink as if a child in Uganda at a freshly drilled well.  i join my fellow sojourners on Sunday morning and close my eyes and breath in His word as it is spoken by them.  i receive His living water when He gives it, and flip over from psalm 19 to psalm 37, where He quiets me with; “Trust – Commit – Rest – do not fret”

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and i say to my soul; “Surely the darkness cannot overwhelm me, for my God is near.”


The Life series will continue-just as those thoughts come, not necessarily in series.  i know i’ve been quiet here, a by-product of this season i’m in.  thank you for grace.

to draw further in Psalm 37, 139, Isaiah 40, especially vs. 26-31

life | running

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the alarm goes off in the dark of summer.  the inability to quit on my girl is stronger than the mighty ability to quit on myself, so i get up and rouse her out of her slumber.  we push it to the very edge, she and i, giving ourselves first 20, then 10, and then 5 minutes to get ready. yes, 5 minutes will be enough, our sleep hungry bodies think.  this is the logic of one whose natural body rhythm does not include mornings.  so we run late and we don’t comb our hair, but we show up.  she has a swimming class.  and i will run.

my health is not where i want it to be.  and i am a simple minded person, not one to cook complicated food or start complicated plans.  i know two things that need addressing, an addiction to sugar and a lack of exercise.  there are more, but two things are enough to focus on for the time being.  so for the sugar addiction I’ve replaced my daily chai tea lattes with just tea and for the exercise, i’m running.

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i want to quit.  i really do.  mightily when the alarm goes off yes, but even still after my girl has sauntered off to class. i rationalize other things to do during this hour, maybe stay in the car and read, or go sit next to the other moms by the pool and get to know them-that would be neighborly and right wouldn’t it?  no, that still small voice replies,

run.

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I’m Brennan.  I’m an alcoholic.
How I got there, why I left there, why I went back, is the story of my life.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I was a priest, but am no longer a priest.  I was a married man but am no longer a married man.
How I got to those places, why I left those places, is the story of my life too.
But it is not the whole story.

I’m Brennan.  I’m a sinner saved by grace.
That is the larger and more important story.
Only God, in His fury, knows the whole of it.

-Brennan Manning from The Furious Longing of God

there is a storm swirling around inside, dark clouds looming thick and strong.

and when i run it rises up from those deep places within and spills forth into view and i see it.  like Brennan, this is not my whole story, only one part of many other parts that make up the whole of me.  but it is an important part to look at and sit with.  today, however, i resisted for 30 minutes.  i just sat in the car and kept the storm just below the surface, glancing at it a little, forming words around it a little, only a little.  but the One who always wins had His way.  knowing the invitation for what it was, i opened the door and got out of the car.

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too often i think satan is winning.  too often it feels like he is winning.

he is not winning.

he does not win.

O LORD, the king rejoices in Your strength.
How great is his joy in the victories You give.

-psalm 21

i am no king, but i too rejoice in the victories He gives.

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today as my feet hit the pavement the tears flowed freely.  out here on these public streets we wrestle, He and i, deep calling to deep, mining for the treasures He’s promised in the dark places.

personal words with real and deep laments brought before me to hold in my hands and look at from all directions. invited to know that He is the Lord, the God of Israel who summons me by name.

i have no hope for change or remedy or relief.  these are the places the fight has gone, He knows this.

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but i am still running.

and there is hope in that.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in:  Psalm 21:1 and Isaiah 45:3

 

life | in anguish

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God does not keep a man immune from trouble; He says -“I will be with him in trouble.” It does not matter what actual troubles in the most extreme form get hold of a man’s life, not one of them can separate him from his relationship to God.  We are “more than conquerors in all these things.”  Paul is not talking of imaginary things, but of things that are desperately actual; and he says we are super-victors in the midst of them, not by our ingenuity, or by our courage, or by anything other than the fact that not one of them affects our relationship to God in Jesus Christ.  Rightly or wrongly, we are where we are, exactly in the condition we are in.

“Shall tribulation…..?” Let tribulation be what it may-exhausting, galling, it is not able to separate us from the love of God.  Never let cares or tribulations separate you from the fact that God loves you.

“Shall anguish….?” -can God’s love hold when everything says that His love is a lie, and that there is no such thing as justice?

“Shall famine….?” -can we not only believe in the love of God but be more than conquerors, even while we are being starved?

Either Jesus Christ is a deceiver and Paul is deluded, or some extraordinary thing happens to a man who holds on to the love of God when the odds are against God’s character.  Logic is silenced in the face of every one of these things.  Only one thing can account for it-the love of God in Christ.

“Out of the wreck I rise” every time.

-Oswald Chambers

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


 

to draw further in; Romans 8

life | through grief

chairs2

Three days of mourning have been declared in Haiti after a power line fell on to a carnival float in the capital, Port au Prince.

-bbc news

Moses was 120 years old when he died… The People of Israel wept for Moses in the Plains of Moab thirty days. Then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.

-Deuteronomy 34

OSO, Wash. — Washington residents paused Saturday to observe a statewide moment of silence at 10:37 a.m., exactly a week after a devastating mudslide tore through this rural mountain town.

-LA Times

I remember when i first read of Haiti’s 3 days of mourning in the aftermath of the carnival tragedy.  not only did they cancel the last day of the event, but 3 whole days of mourning?!  i wondered what that must look like.  businesses closed, schools closed, families gathering together talking about it, openly weeping? i only imagine-not having ever experienced such community grieving.  i read of how Israel mourned for 30 days when Moses died. 30 whole days until the days of weeping came to an end.  wow.  this contrasted against how we do it in the States.  we pause for moments.  and they are moments of silence.  that feels like a slight acknowledgement and then back to work and moving along as ‘normal’.  i have felt the shock of that.  in the face of deep personal loss, i can recall being perplexed by the moving about of others-folks who know nothing of the loss i’ve experienced-doing normal things like getting groceries and picking up their kids from school.  i know in my head; “of course they are, why wouldn’t they be?” while my grieving heart can’t figure out how to make one foot move in front of the other and my grieving mind can not be trusted to work the stove.

our bodies are made to feel.  and some feelings need time.  life follows death, healing follows brokenness, rivers of joy follow valleys of sorrow.

i learned as a child that pain and grief were not to be felt.  count backwards from 10, breathe deep, but by all means, don’t cry.

it takes courage to feel.  i come from a family of wimps.  i mean no offence by that, we wanted to be strong, it’s just that the understanding of what real strength is got mixed up somewhere along the way.  and so i grew up stoic, priding myself on my lack of tears and pretend indifference.  but the color of my world grew more and more gray.  and my heart shriveled.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

-Isaiah 35:3-4

This One who wept and groaned loudly, He did come.  and He taught me how to grieve.  and through grieving all the losses past, and continuing to grieve losses big and small as they come, color has returned to my world.  and my heart has opened…

…and i have come to life.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


All photos except for the first one taken by Hannah Lucas

To draw futher in:  John 11, 16:20-22; Hebrews 5:7; Ecc 3; Deuteronomy 34

life | retrieved

wall H

He surrounds himself with words.  fine sounding arguments to deal with the broken places.  i stand alone in his space and i read them and grieve over how far away from truth and real healing he is.  i lose hope.

but i do remain in that place of acceptance.  acceptance for where he is at and what he is able to give and receive.  another kind of death assigned to me is this relationship.  great glory goes to the Father of the fatherless for the way He enables me to love this man who is limited in his ability to love in return, to love in a way i desire to be loved.  and there is still great weakness and fear that remains in how i’m relating.  i am fully aware of the trembling inside when conversations begin to shift in uncomfortable directions.  i find my own self coping through diversions and distractions, keeping things safe.  i lose myself in the presence of others here, but when it is quiet, the One who gives sight to the blind helps me to see.

Finding the Love that Retrieves at www.everybitterthingissweet.com

in the dark of the night we stand debating over another one far gone and a false prophet among us.  the scene shifts and i find myself in an arena full of those held captive by Balaam and his deceptions.  searching through my belongings, they grab hold of my blue bound book, the one with my name inscribed on the front.  they empty it of the treasures i’ve tucked inside, passing them out to bystanders and mocking me in the process.  i don’t care, i snatch it back-letting the little things go, knowing that the real treasure is the pages and words contained within.  taking my seat, i’m discovered by the other truth bearers who’ve infiltrated these ranks and we band together standing united against the fray.  it’s invigorating and delightful to find i’m not standing alone.

and then i wake up.  it was only a dream.

light H

i look over at his chair and i remember sara’s words.  i remember how far the Mighty Warrior Jesus went to retrieve me.  the dream brings into focus the truth of the battle, the truth of what i stand on and cling to, the truth that there are fellow soldiers who have infiltrated the enemy’s territory.  i rise and retrieve that blue bound book with my name engraved on the front.  The Spirit brings to mind words and i turn page after page searching them out.  and then i breathe them in.  my Hope Bearer fills me with renewed hope all the while reminding me of my source of worth and joy, lest i misunderstand and stumble into expectations and seeking where worth and joy cannot be found.

Oh Lord, You are my God!  i will exalt You and praise Your name-
for in Perfect Faithfulness
You have done marvelous things…

This is what the Lord says;
I have seen his ways, BUT i will heal him;
I will guide him and restore comfort to him,
creating praise on the lips of the mourners in Israel.

Can plunder be taken from warriors?
or captives rescued from the fierce?
But this is what the Lord says;
Yes
captives will be taken
and plunder retrieved.

ladder

life begins when the Source of life retrieves.  i know this.

i forgot this.

i have renewed hope for this one who surrounds himself with fine sounding arguments.  he is seeking life where it cannot be found, but i do recognize that it is life that he is seeking.  i also recognize that the current god he’s bowing to is successfully tricking him into thinking he’s found it and there is no hope in that.  rather, my hope is in the Mighty One who is Mightier, the Powerful One who is more Powerful.  that greater is He in me than he that is in the world. i hope because Life Himself retrieves captives from the fierce.

See now that I Myself am He!
there is no god besides Me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
I have wounded and I will heal,
and no one can deliver out of My hand.

life

a series exploring the concept of life- what it is and what it means to have it.


to draw further in;  Colossians 2:1-8; Romans 16:17-18;  2 Peter 3:3-9; Isaiah 25; 57:18; 49:25; Psalm 119:72

 

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