Chasing Joy

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

Category: settling (page 2 of 2)

for understanding | composition

Her eyes give away the anxiousness mixed with anticipation.  in her thoughts she reminds herself that her God is both good and sovereign and can be trusted with what He gives and where He leads.

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Photo taken at a Quilt Show in 2011. I do not know the artist’s name.

composing  those words and this picture amidst a scene of other excited travelers embarking on a wonderful week-long artist retreat in Normandy France  would carry the statements about God into a specific place in a receiver’s heart.

composing those words and this picture amidst a scene of bomb-destroyed rubble and other weary and frightened travelers embarking on a long journey to a refugee camp would carry the statements about God into a very different place in the receiver’s heart.

same words, same picture.  different understanding.

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the places that the Lord is inviting me- you know, those places of feeling inept, the pain of being misunderstood, of struggling with communication.  i have become aware of a myriad of ways this is playing out in my life these days.  Providentially showing up it seems everywhere i turn.  and so my Father has my attention and i am seeing various places for tearing down idols and building up strength in Him.  so here i am with another unplanned series.

today is a lesson in composition.

i have mastered enough of the English language to effectively use words to communicate.

however, that composition thing-the way words filter in through the composition of a person’s life and land where they will within that– Jesus alone is master of the skill of weaving words perfectly and personally, getting to the individual heart of things.   He is also the master of the skill of giving enough detail in such a way to gain understanding.   me-i am inept at all of that.  and so if anything i say is to be understood the way it is meant to be understood-He will have to intervene.  and if anything i say is to be understood the way HE means it to be, He will have to intervene there too.

…”for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

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and so the Master Communicator invites me to pray over my words….

….and then release them into His capable hands.

An Unexpected Journey-headed north

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hope has been restored and that is a big thing.

We’ve left the Dear Ones in the South that i come from, and head to the North to Dear Ones on the other side.

We’ve traveled from the heat of the desert to the cool of the mountains.  i’m physically fatigued-but spiritually restored and that makes all the difference.  still, i’ve caught the older one’s sickness.

because, of course.

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the choice is presented for a 6 mile hike and really it’s foolish to even consider. this cold, or flu, or whatever it is, carries with it a cough and shortness of breath as it is.   but-we’re at a family reunion-and we’re in S. Dakota.  and there are all the people.  and i just think that it seems we are sick every time we travel and so i could stay in bed and rest to get better or i could go and do things i can’t do at home with people i very rarely see.

so i go.

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and since i have one son who can run a mile in 7 minutes and it takes just the glimpse of where we are going for him to loose awareness of anything else but that-he starts hiking.  Jeremy,  working to keep up with him, calls back to me and my youngest that he’ll keep track of this one if i keep track of that one.  it makes sense, i’m sick and the one with me is our slow and steady one.  but …. in the haste we forget that Jeremy is carrying all of our water and food.

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and i wonder if i will make it.

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it is glorious. and so worth it.

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of course when i get back to camp i limp over to our camper and crash.  and now it is plainly obvious to everyone that i am sick and getting sicker.  and there are a few naysayers who call my choice the foolishness that it is.  the words don’t stick.  a day without regrets has been redefined.

An Unexpected Journey-headed south

mimi colorado

the heat of the sun soaks into the broken van.  stuck there at exit 49 along the Colorado River and the kids aren’t quite sure what to think or say-so they sit there with big eyes and quick obedience.  i cry and pray that the tears will stop once the phone does find a signal and i am required to communicate clearly where we are and what we need.  i drain the car battery trying to keep the dying phone alive.  my phone’s charge lasts long enough to connect with roadside assistance, and there is nothing left to connect with my husband who is all the way back home.

Howard the tow-truck driver is on his way.  the kids help me pack up the car and get ready.  i tear my favorite pants on the guard-rail.  i answer their questions as best i can; -the tow truck is coming-he will get us to the nearest city.  some Dear Ones –who were adventuring themselves and aren’t too far away-are coming to help too.

after dumping the van-Howard drops us off at a dairy queen to await our coming help.  i breathe deep at the sight of the elementary school across the way.  we get our ice cream and walk over to wait.

and i am thankful for the elementary school playground and ice cream.  and for Howard who was so very kind.  thankful for the exit 49 so i could be off the highway.  thankful for the husband on the phone who is so very kind too.  thankful for the finding of a hotel-a fancy shmancy hotel-for cheap.  the term Travel Mercies is being redefined.

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still, here i am

with all these decisions to make.  lots and lots of decisions.  i have this complex and difficult history with decisions that adds to the struggle.  i’ve begun to understand this about me.


i wake in the night to hear her tossing and turning.  the thermometer reads 102.  she says her throat hurts bad.  i’ve nothing to offer for relief and no transportation.  i do what i can to make her comfortable, taking her cot and giving her the bed.  the boys sleep soundly through it all, it’s all a grand adventure and these detours are nothing to lose sleep over- to them.

i flex and make a new plan for tomorrow;

    1. pick up rental  go to urgent care
    2. pick up rental
    3. stop at transmission shop.
    4. sell car to the junk yard.
    5. get back on our way?  or just go home?

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we all decide that continuing on is the wise choice.  there are cousins to connect with and a new cousin to meet.  the kids have no idea how hard this all is.  all these decisions made with limited information and limited sleep.  they are good sports and enjoy themselves regardless of what i choose.

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 the sick one spends her days in bed while the boys and their cousin play in their fort.  grandma stays behind, because though my sick one is 14, i won’t let her be sick on her own.  we girls, as we’ve been called for years and years, spend rare hours together.   the ruts in the road are well worn and try as we might to forge a new path these ruts are deep, compounded by distance and lack of time for tending.  i realize this as we have time for talking, brief moments to share from our hearts.  i tread lightly-testing the ground as i go to see if it is safe to move forward.  sometimes it is and i share deeply.  sometimes it isn’t and i hold back.  sometimes i forget about the testing and self-editing and realize after the places that cause discomfort for them and for me.  there are moments to ponder that these are the ones who have known me the longest….yet, in some ways, hardly know me at all.

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 my prayers are reduced to groaning.  i’m losing my footing and beginning to forget what i know.  i’m spending time with family by day and tending to a sick teenager by night. the fog creeps in and my body shifts into survival, physical and spiritual fatigue takes its toll.  the One who knows and understands everything, He breaks through the fog and gives strength to keep going and keep loving and keep engaging.  to listen and seek to know, without seeking to be known.

 “in times like these,” He encourages, “it’s no longer about being in the word every day.  it’s about living the word every moment.”

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 still, despite the personal victory won of remaining engaged, other hopes fade and begin to die out.

i take a risk and share with a friend;

 “it’s just hard to see any hope of anything else but this ever.”

he replies;

 “Don’t give up hope.  God is big.”


as our travel shifts to the North, my eyes and heart begin to take in hope.  those words spoken by a fellow traveler are life giving.  the fog lifts if only a little.  my eyes catch glimpses of hope in unexpected places.  i grab the camera and my pen, because i want to remember both the bigness of my God and the way He speaks.

I AM your feast, in the presence of enemies...” (via jon foreman/psalm 23)

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 a tree-growing out of the rock.  planted and tended and grown by the Only One who could.

words that press in just the right places:

Oh child, I have searched and known you!
I know when you sit down and when you rise up;
I discern your thoughts from afar.
I search out your path and your lying down and Am acquainted with all your ways.
Even before a word is on your tongue, behold, I the LORD, know it altogether.
I hem you in, behind and before and I lay My Hand upon you.
(psalm 139)

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He is big.
Bask in the hope of His Bigness
Behold it.
Bask in the Wonder of being searched, known, and treasured.

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and then, seriously, i’m walking under Mt. Rushmore’s hall of flags and i look up and see this!! It’s Rhode Island’s flag, in case anyone wants to know. the 13th state. Admitted to the Union in 1790

 “And this hope is an anchor to our very soul, because He who promised is Faithful.”

 

for when i forget what i know

zekesand

For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

He came to her as she meditated on His knitting.  He came to her with joy and assurance as her belly grew.  as she and her first born looked at all the photos of the stages of a baby being formed-and marveled at His work.

until……

“i wish i wasn’t me” -zeke age 5

what about when the knitting needles missed a stitch along the way and one is left with a broken body?
when your 5 year old is speaking words that sound too much like suicide?
            what then?

He came to her with His words

“not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord Almighty”  -zech 4:6

and He came to her with a song in the dark hours of those hard days
            (because He knows how the songs work for her)

the Love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell….

and she believed Him.

and He strengthened her.

and He made her to believe His love was in fact greater and deeper and beyond the body that was broken.

and it never occurred to her
not even once
to pray for healing.

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last night it occurred to me, that it had never occurred to me to pray for healing.

and now that it had
would i pray?
knowing all the ways we’ve known His deep and great love
         as a result of
this broken body that belongs to zeke?

he’s 11 now.

and weeks before this most recent insight, i was given another.

how of all my children-this one has the most freedom to be fully himself in the presence of others.

and i’ve pondered that for a while-perplexed a bit at how in the world that came to be true?  and how in the world can i help my other 2 along the path?  

but last night as i listened to the question that formed (inside my head) with it’s accusations; “why did you not ever pray for him to be healed?  do you not have faith?  even through a year of studying all the ways Jesus healed in the book of Matthew-it didn’t come to mind then.  why?  what does that say about you?  what does that say about your love for your son?”

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there are a lot of lies mixed in with doubts mixed in with perplexity at the initial questions.  and as i sat there clueless.  the piano began to play the familiar words that would come to me all those years ago…

oh Love of God
how great and pure
how measureless and strong….

Who is this God?  who hears the thought churning inside my head-that no one else hears?  who moves the hands of a pianist to play the very words that my heart understands.  words that only He could know would soothe and remind of what is true?

 

the longer i live, the less answers i have.

but one thing i have come to understand is this

God’s love is real.
it’s measureless
it’s strong.
it’s constant
and is not expressed in the way that i think so much of the time.

i praise You because zeke is fearfully and wonderfully made;
Your works are wonderful,
i know that full well.

my frame was not hidden from you
when i was made in the secret place.
all the days ordained for me
were written in Your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!  -psalm 139

 (please don’t misunderstand, i in no way mean to imply whether or not prayer for healing is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. i still don’t know why we never thought to pray for healing for my zeke, or if we will begin praying for this.  it’s not really about that.  this post is about being settled -yet again- in the midst of doubt and confusion-and attack.  being settled-yet again- into the love of a Father who knows everything.)

grasping

wonderstruck without words
         at who You are
look up,  You beckon
        look up at the vastness
              and remember the sky
                     and the way it reminds you of the vastness
of My love for you.
a knowing….that surpasses knowledge. 
(what does that even mean??) 

And i pray that you, being rooted and established

in love,

may have power…. to grasp

how wide and long and high and deep is

the love of Christ

and to know this love that surpasses knowledge

that you may be filled to the measure of all

the fullness of God.

Now,

to Him who is able

to do immeasurably more

than all we ask or imagine,

according to His power that is at work within us,

to Him

be glory for ever and ever!

Amen.  ephesians 3:17-21

melting

“What do you want?”

…….

the accusations and temptations to do more/have more
and the accusations and temptations to do less/have less

who can know what it is they are to do?

i’ve been personally becoming aware of the whole identity thing….
and had a couple of meltdowns over the state of the lives of the 5 living here in this home
….and the state of this home
and some meltdowns over the state of the lives living outside of us, the state of this dying world.

this week in Matthew-we are in chapters 19-21

been also studying David and Saul and struck by (read: identifying with) Saul and his crisis of identity and battle with envy….and the picture of what he becomes-it’s not even human anymore.

……..

days go by and time alone to sit at the feet of the One who gives the best counsel and listens and knows everything…..the days go one after the other after the other and there is none.  and the world shouts in my ears and i forget what is true and meltdowns partner with striving and there is no peace inside.

until today.  and i sit with this question:

“What do you want?”

and i just don’t have a clue what the answer to that is.

but He does.

and so He shows me:

tho i have not seen Him, i love Him, and even though i do not see Him now, i believe in Him and am filled w/an inexpressible and glorious joy.  for i am receiving the goal of my faith, the salvation of my soul.

what do i want?  joy.  unspeakable, inexpressible and glorious joy. 

and all my striving and pining and trying to figure it all out what to do and what not to do and where to live and where not to live and how to live and how not to live
             is all a frantic search for this joy.   

it doesn’t come as i think it will. those words in 1 Peter were written to….

God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered…..who have been chosen (through the sanctifying work of the Spirit)
                for obedience to Jesus Christ.

i don’t like being a stranger.  i don’t like being scattered.  i don’t always like obeying.

melt me with Your beauty, melt me with the truth of who You are and who i am.  the truth of the real goal of my faith-vs. the lesser things i make it.  the real source of joy vs. the lesser things i’m pining for

Restore to me the Joy of Your salvation, and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.  -psalm 51

for further melting….in a beautiful way:  

When Life has Taught You to Run Past its Best Conversations

Being a Closet Radical

The Lord, my Shepherd

 North Carolina sky

God is my shepherd

i won’t be wanting

i won’t be wanting

He makes me rest in fields of green. by quiet streams

even while i’m walking…… thru the valley……… of death and dying.

i will not fear, cause You are with me, You’re always with me.

 

i don’t even know how to write this post.  how to paint the picture for you to understand how those words nourish in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

in the middle of the week as i lay in bed, unable to sleep because of the trauma of the day, i recited the entire thing to myself over and over and over again.

this week was full of heart wrenching struggles. the possibility that my neighbors (little) dog would have to be put down because of my (very big) dog jumping the fence.  rejoicing over that outcome (she made it through surgery and will be ok) and stressing over a now large bill to pay and new fence to build from a small bank account.  the time at the day center for homeless families sitting alongside a man with his head in his hands weeping over the news of his little boy far away-6 yrs. old and both legs amputated.  my pregnant sister in the hospital again.  too far away for me to visit.

and a month ago, in the middle of our flood, i buy a ticket that will take me to the other side of the US for the weekend.  i couldn’t see into the future to be sure that it would be ok to go.  i just had to trust that it would be.

it’s not really.  but i’m going anyway.

when we booked the flight/car/hotel i couldn’t see thousands of miles away what the hotel we were choosing would be like.  i just had to choose one.

here’s where the words fail me.

so i’ll just say that i needed my Shepherd to comfort me and make me rest when the fields weren’t green at all and there were no quiet streams.  i never noticed till now that following that wonderful image (i mean can’t you just see in your mind those fields and the stream?)…following that

is the valley.

of death and dying.

David says he won’t fear.

why?

because His Shepherd is with him,

He’s always with him.

well, my Shepherd did make me rest in spite of the lack of green or quiet.  and i thanked Him so very much.  That His presence was constant and this weekend could still be a time of rest and refreshment…even here.

but then

in the middle of the night

bugs

bugs crawling on me. all these little bugs crawling around in my bed. suffice it to say.  i freak out. and i leave. and through my sobs i manage to find myself a more suitable place to stay. 

…………………………………………

i don’t even know.

here i am.  this week?  i have nothing.  i know nothing.

and at 2 am far from home i’m wrestling with deep stuff.  i wanted rest.

Whole only comes after broken.  Healing only comes after wounds.  Are you willing to go a bit further and see?…….It doesn’t mean that God is trying to teach us a lesson in our difficulty.  Perhaps He is simply creating a masterpiece.  -emily freeman a million little ways p. 104, 105

perhaps He is creating a masterpiece.

am i willing to go a bit further and see?

man the wrestling is hard work.  and i won’t be attending the Barn event rested.  i’ll be attending quite fragile and quite simply exhausted i predict. 

but the beauty (masterpiece?) of this weekend is that i never questioned

that He was with me

the entire time.

When i couldn’t find words, only sobbs-the Spirit translated my groans for me.

when i began to condemn myself He brought to mind just the thing i needed.  (one example: condemning myself for freaking out over the bugs and not just toughing it out-and i remembered Corrie ten Boom and the biting flies.  she’d put up with much thus far in that concentration camp –but the flies were too much for her too.)

He shows me that there are quiet streams here too, in this valley of death and dying.  He sticks in my mind jon foreman’s words: “Two things you told me: that You are strong and You love me…..yes You love me.”

and

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?  Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.  And even the very hairs of your head are numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. (matthew 10)

and internet at the new hotel so i can stream pandora and have music to drown out any lies the enemy wants to whisper.

Yes.  He is my Shepherd.

i won’t be wanting.

i won’t be wanting.

And this same God who takes care of me

will supply all your needs

from His glorious riches,

which have been given to us

in Christ Jesus.

(Philippians something i think)

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