Saturday, December 31, 2011

Living Every Day in a Holy Way



Now that the holidays are over, what are you going to do? What are you thinking about as New Year's approaches? Ah-ha! May I take a guess? New Year's resolutions? Those sometimes lofty or attainable goals we lay out for the upcoming year.

Do we lose weight? Spend less time on the computer? Spend more time with the kids? Take more walks? Be nicer to a difficult co-worker?

But the new year doesn't have to be about hope turning into perceived failure. We can make every day count as a holy day - by being intentional about living our lives in a holy way.

You can still use your resolution list for this. You can still try to lose weight, but do it for the right reason: to be full of the Living Water Jesus wishes to give, to be full of spiritual food, not the junk food we crave. We can still spend less time on the computer, but make it holy by spending more time in God's Word and in God's presence. We can still spend more time with the kids, take more walks, be nicer to that co-worker. All this can be done with holiness in mind. With Jesus in mind.

So don't think of resolutions as lofty goals that you make and break by the end of the month. Be intentional about living every day in a holy way. Be the hands and the feet of Jesus. Count blessings as you drive to work in the morning or as you wake up to start your day. There are so many opportunities to start over this year, no matter how bad the last year had been. God given us each a new day, makes us a new creation:

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)


I wish you a most blessed 2012 full of love, peace, and joy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It is Good


Have you ever had a guilty conscience? I know I have. Have you sinned? I know I have.

Imagine now being Adam or Eve. The first to sin, the first to betray, the first to break God's heart.
I invite you to watch the amazing song, "Good," performed by Matthew West and Leigh Nash from the CD, "The Story" - an amazing CD of songs inspired by Biblical characters. This is the song for Adam and Eve. The lyrics are below. But do watch the video; the animation is stunning.

http://youtu.be/iQ9rG73SKd8

If I could, I’d rewrite history
I’d choose differently; if I could, I would
I’d leave out the part where I broke Your heart
In the garden’s shade, fix the mess I made
If I could, I would

If I could, close my eyes and then

Dance around again; if I could, I would
Be who You adored, why did I need more?
When beauty was not trained to hide behind my shame
If I could, I would.

Can You hear us cry?

Wishing we could turn back time
To feel Your breath when branches move
Take one more sunset walk with You
Must each tomorrow hold
Such brokenness untold?
Can’t imagine how You could
See all of me and say it’s good

If I could hold one memory

It would surely be how You walked with us
I’d go back in time, untell my first lie
And let love’s injury heal in spite of me

Can You hear us cry?

Wishing we could turn back time
To feel Your breath when branches move
Take one more sunset walk with You
Must each tomorrow hold
Such brokenness untold?
Can’t imagine how You could
See all of me and say it’s good
Say it’s good

It is good. It is good.

You still love us more than we believed You could
Could there be something more?
Will it ever be the way it was before?

Can You hear us cry?

Wishing we could turn back time
To feel Your breath when branches move
Take one more sunset walk with You
Must each tomorrow hold
Such brokenness untold?
Can’t imagine how You could
See all of me and say it’s good


Ponder that refrain: "Can't imagine how You could / See all of me and say it's good."
He does see all of us and say we are good. He forgives.
Can't you just hear the longing and regret in the voices in this song?

In the beginning, it was all beautiful. Can you imagine it? Such an unfiltered relationship with the Lord? Can you imagine the sunset walks with Him, talking with Him, communing with Him?

But then, they who were adored "needed more."

We all want more when what we have is so wonderful to begin with. I suppose that is free will, isn't it.
Well, they wanted to be like God - as powerful, as mighty.
And they broke His heart.

But

He still loved them "more than we believed You could."

I am certain that God hears their cry. I am sure God hears our cry when we cry out to him in pain, in need, in confusion. We all wish we could turn back time, don't we. To undo the mess we made. But we can't. All we can do is live with the consequences and that is what humankind has done for eons since the Fall that broke us away from God.

What is redeeming is that we are redeemable. What is comforting is that He loves us anyway!
We break His heart every day and He is still there, loving us.

Have you every hurt someone? Have you broken their heart and now there is a severed relationship because of it? I am sorry; I know that pain.

But look - God can never be severed from you!

Look - if He can forgive His first children, Adam and Eve, His first human creations, if He can love them DESPITE, even love them BECAUSE...

just imagine how much He can love YOU.

I pray this entry and this song can be of some comfort to you.

Can we go around sinning and hurting others and get away with it? Of course not.

But there IS love for you. There IS forgiveness.

You ARE good.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Holy Stepparent


I know I posted about this last year, but I want to point to it again this year, for all you stepparents.

Did you know that Joseph, husband of Mary, was a stepfather? Think about it - he was!

But this stepfather did not have any petty birth parent to deal with, didn't have to worry about his stepchild resenting him, didn't have to worry about buying his stepchild's love.

No, his stepson was born for loving him. His stepson was born for loving the world. All of us.

His stepson was the Ultimate Son.

How proud Joseph must have been -

and how nerve-wracking! Can you imagine? Stepping in as "father" to this baby...

when this baby had the Heavenly Father as well.

I look up to Joseph, He did not run away from the task.

I don't need an angel to come down to me and tell me that I need to tend to this family of mine. I have had a holy encounter regarding that, however.

During a church service specific to healing, I asked God who He wanted me to serve.

He said to me, "serve the children."

And I thought, what children? In other countries? Do I become a missionary?

But no, He said: "serve your children."

So, in a way, I suppose I am like Joseph.

I was told to serve and love my stepchildren, just as Joseph was told to love and accept Mary as his wife and Jesus as his earthly son.

So the stepparent chain continues...

as old as the world itself...


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spice Up Your Marriage - being the hands and feet of Christ!



I was eagerly looking forward to listening to Susie Larson's "Live the Promise" show today. Little did I know I would hear an idea that would spark a new adventurous spirit and idea!

Today's show was Faith Radio Net :: The Great Giveaway! Susie asked her listening audience, "what is the best thing you can do with ten dollars?" I was blown away by the answers she received. So many people being the hands and feet of Christ, being obedient, but gladly, not with burden or "I-have-to"s.

I'll give you an example that brought me to tears and touched my heart. Susie received an email from a man who said that he and his wife made a Christmas pinata and invited children of families they knew over to their house. Not just any children, however. These children all had special needs of one form or another and they provided pizza and fun for these kids as well as time for the busy and weary parents to do as they wish: go out on a long-needed date, take a nap, go Christmas shopping, pray.

Working with adults with disabilities, I see how taxing it is on caretakers who care for those with special needs. The blessings are enormous and definitely need to be acknowledged, but it is such a hard job. I don't consider my job hard...I consider the job of the person who lives with the person to be challenging...the family of the differently-abled person who loves him or her so much and supports him or her in everything they do...

That is a job full of rewards and frustrations all its own.

I listened to person after person call in to "Live the Promise" and tell what they did with their money. Whether it was $5 or $10 or $2,000 (yes, in one case it was that much), they were such a blessing to others. It is so obvious that when you give (and believe that you are not losing but gaining) that you will receive in return. Receive what? Well, sometimes that amount of money the person gave away will "mysteriously" and miraculously return in some form the next day or week. Or maybe the receiving is simply in feeling the Holy Spirit overcome you and wanting to burst from the sheer joy of it all.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
~ Luke 6:38

So what does this have to do with spicing up your marriage? Well, Susie revealed what she did with her $10. She and her husband were at a grocery store and felt called to pay for the groceries of the woman in front of them. Susie tapped the woman on the shoulder and asked if she could pay for her. The woman's eyes filled with tears and said something like, "you don't know what that would mean." As it turns out, Susie and her husband had "stumbled upon" a woman who was a single mother barely getting by. She was in desperate need and there Susie and her husband were, offering Jesus' love and grace.

Susie felt so inspired by this act that she and her husband decided they were going to go on a "missionary date" once a month. They'd pray to God to put people in their path who were in need and they would go out and bless someone with God's love.

Well, hearing that put my mind and heart's gears in motion. Husband and I are in need of some spicing up with all the responsibility we shoulder from being sudden-full-time parents to the three kids (whom we love and are so grateful for) - but face it - we sometimes need a break! We do try to go to the nearby town and go on a date once in a while, but you can only go out to a restaurant and movie so many times. We need some adventure.

What better adventure is there than to do God's work in this world? What better thrill is there than to show strangers (whether they know God or not) that God loves them and wishes to bless them with a random act of kindness?

"You have blessed us all so
We bless all"

~ "All Is Grace" by Shaun Groves

So I wish to extend that challenge to you as well. It is Susie Larson's challenge as well as mine as well as Jesus'!

What can you do with $5? Can you pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru?
What can you do with $10? Go to a gift catalog like ELCA or Samaritan's Purse and see how far that money can go!

Will you join me with your spouse and be a missionary dater, too? We can go on "missionary double dates!"

Tell me all about it when you do so!

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, 
you did for me.'"
Matthew 25:40

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dancing with Dreams


This isn't a directly-God related post, but it was an important experience for me. It touched my heart and I believe anything that touches your heart has God in it, so I am going to share.

Yesterday, I took my almost-8 year old stepdaughter, "G," to "The Nutcracker" downtown.





When I was around 7 or 8 my mom starting taking my cousin and I and it became a yearly Christmas tradition for about 4 years. How I remember dressing up in my velvet blue dress, my mom curling my hair, tasting my first ginger ale!!!

So I got "G" a beautiful new shirt that she oooohed and aaaahed over. I helped her put barrettes in her hair and a necklace on. And we met a co-worker of mine and her 8 year old daughter for lunch and then we all went to the ballet.

I was a bit worried if "G" could sit through the whole thing. I took her and her 13 yr old sister to "A Midsummer's Night Dream" ballet last year and neither liked it...

But to my delight, "G" loved it! She wasn't acting all excited and googly eyed over the experience, but she did say she loved it and was smiling. I asked her what her favorite part was and it was the same part as mine as a child.



During the ballet, tears slid down my face as I remembered my cousin and I reenacting "The Waltz of the Flowers" and doing our own dances. It made me miss my mom a lot.

It was so nice to share that with "G." When we got home I dug out an old picture of me and my cousin next to Santa while we were at the theatre for "The Nutcracker."

And sure enough, I was in my blue velvet dress.

Our advanced technology has changed the way people live their lives today verses how we lived as children.

But little girls still wear fru-fru dresses and go to the Nutcracker.




Friday, December 16, 2011

The Yoke and the Burden



“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

I’ve been thinking about the concept of a yoke. In a literal sense, “the word ‘Yoke’ means a bar of wood, so constructed as to unite two animals (usually oxen), enabling them to work in the fields, drawing loads, pulling instruments used for farming” (Bibleseo.com).  

Figuratively, it can mean slavery (1 Tim 6:1), Servanthood (Lev 26:13 and Jer 27:8-12), Submission, Forced Subjection, Burden, Load, Oppression (Isaiah 9:4), and Bondage to Sin (Lam 1:14).

So Jesus is offering his “yoke” to us in order to learn from him. Is he offering the burden he carries? The oppression and load that our sins put upon him created? That’s what I thought at first. But Jesus wouldn’t give us a burden to carry, much less the sins he’s had to take upon himself in order to save and redeem us. He took that on for us so we would be set free. So it’s not the burden of sin that is his “yoke.” Then what is it?

I think the key to finding out what the yoke is, is in the phrase, “for I am gentle and humble in heart.”  Jesus offers us something and that is himself: gentle and humble in heart. He asks us to take upon those traits. Perhaps his offering is this (paraphrased by me): if you become gentle and humble in heart, you, too, will find peace and rest.

Another verse that baffles me is, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Do you believe what Jesus offers is easy? In some ways, I have found it to be the easiest thing in the world – to follow him, to love each other, to be honorable and genuine, to serve others as Jesus did. I try to do that in my job every day and then come home and do my best to serve my husband and family with love and appreciation and acts of service (sometimes I can improve upon that last one).

Yet in other ways I find this yoke that Jesus says is easy to be extremely hard. It has been hard to let go of my New Agey ways. To get rid of the things that weren’t “of God” and those things which drew me away from his side and path. It has also been hard to love those who “persecute me.” In other words, to love my enemy, to love those who don’t necessarily like me or are good to me…to extend grace, peace and love to them. Boy, has that been a struggle!

And understanding that the Christian walk does not mean a struggle-free walk – that has quite possibly been the most difficult realization. In fact, in some areas, I have found that being a Christian makes situations more complicated and challenging.

But I think back to Jesus saying, with arms outstretched, “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” and I want to run into those arms and embrace him, surely do I want to take up his yoke. I want to follow him. But then there’s that word: burden. Instinctively I cringe at that word.

We carry a lot of burdens around with us, don’t we? I know, for me, I feel a great weight on my shoulders from my responsibilities of being a good stepmother, a good wife, a good worker, a good daughter, a good friend, and above all that, a good Christ-follower. When days go nicely, those things don’t feel like a burden at all, but one bad phone call or one snarky comment can make all those things tumble down upon me like a rockslide. You bet I feel burdened.

And yet… I feel a whisper…that is the burden I pick up for myself. Jesus does not place those burdens on my shoulders. He asks me to follow him. The expectations I have for myself, the things I try to do by my own strength – that is not exactly listening to Jesus’ commands, is it.  He wishes for me (us) to place my trust and faith in him, to surrender the power I think I have over to him and to let go of control. That doesn’t mean I become a powerless puppets, on the contrary. I have found that when I release my self-made burdens to God, I feel unforgettably lighter and better.

So is his yoke easy and his burden light? I’ve decided that my heavy burden is self and circumstance-made, not placed upon me by the Lord. He asks for me to let go of all that “stuff.”

Faith is trust and belief in that which we cannot see, right?

An easy yoke and a light burden is a difficult yoke and a heavy burden lifted up to God.

Won’t you follow it, too?

It is especially important during this holiday season as we get bogged down with shopping for presents and trying to make every family member from all sides happy. As we try to give the perfect Christmas to our kids and of course we must give a little bit away for the needy, right? Oh, I’m not saying those things aren’t important, but let’s have perspective. Our to-do lists create mountains of paper on our kitchen counter until Christmas Eve, the night of the birth of the babe who came to save us all, where we suddenly want to scream at all the things we have left to do and all the things we don’t think we’ve done enough of. Suddenly we are failures and we deem this holiday a failure.

Please don’t let that be your Christmas. Follow the easy yoke and the light burden that Jesus offers. Release all those stresses to him and open the eyes of your heart – look around you at the smiling children who are just thrilled to receive a tight embrace and a loving word. Look at the beautiful light displays around your neighborhood and marvel at how it illuminates the block. Thank God that we (in southern Wisconsin) haven’t had a huge snowfall yet.

Yes, count your blessings! Go out and get Ann Voskamp’s, “One Thousand Gifts” and start your New Year being more aware of the splendor of God and take up that dare to be more fully awake and alive.

His yoke is easy and his burden is light – if you let it be. If you let go of the trappings of the World and our culture, the trappings of what our society has made Christmas into: focused on gifts, money, the most of this, the most of that.

Mercy to you this Christmas. Peace to you this Christmas.

I invite you to take a breath. Did you do that? Okay, now stand up straight and notice your shoulders. Are they tight and heavy? Go to a window and look upward. Imagine yourself releasing all the world and you-placed burdens until you can envision them as balloons floating up to the sky. Jesus can take them. He can handle it. He wants  to handle it.

A prayer from me:

Dear Father in Heaven,
I release all the rushing around I do this season, all the frantic buying of gifts when I know we don’t have enough money nor do our kids need that many gifts. Lord, I thank you for blessing my family with good health, financial provision, enough food and shelter and love. Please bless our family with your presence and infuse our home with love. Help these kids know they are safe and loved eternally – by you, Jesus, and by us as their parents. Lord, take away the “perfect Christmas” I carry around in my head. There is no perfection that we humans can create and counting on that is asking to be let down. I rely on you, Lord, to provide for us this Christmas and forever. I want to take upon your yoke and learn from you. Oh, I so want to learn from you! I know I need rest in my heart, Lord, and I ask that for everyone in this world as they hustle and bustle around this season. I ask you to bless them with deep breaths and the ability to see the beauty and blessings around them that aren’t bought or man-made. Dear Lord, help us to focus on the “reason for the season” – your son being born – what a delight! What a thing to behold! Let us celebrate that, Lord! Let us celebrate you by shaking our self-made burdens off of us like dander, like a dog shaking the wet out of his fur. Bless all who cry out to you, O Lord, and lift up their burdens and finally, Lord, give them rest.
In your precious name,
Amen.

Enjoy this powerful song, "Rest," by Downhere at the following site:

an interesting blog I came across while searching for a "yoke" image:
She even references my favorite author, Ann Voskamp!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Waiting on Waiting: Thoughts on Advent

photo credit: © Adam Gryko - Fotolia.com


I am now a little over a year old, in Christ-terms. Meaning I have been walking with the Lord - all-in - for a little over a year. I still consider myself a baby-Christian, but I have done a lot of growing in the past year. And besides, I know of a Christ who was a baby once.

If there is one thing I know I still have a lot to learn about and lean towards it's the idea of instant gratification. Waiting. Waiting for exciting events, waiting for doomed ones; waiting for answers, waiting for results, waiting for responses, waiting for what my ego tells me I need to know and have.

And do you know what I need to be waiting for? The only thing I need to wait for?

The will of God to be done.

And do you know when a perfect time to do that is?

Advent.

And Advent it is. Now. I don't have to wait to wait. I can start my waiting now. But I'm not waiting for prayers to be answered, events, or responses. I am waiting for the celebration of Jesus' birth. I am waiting to celebrate. And in that waiting I celebrate.

I celebrate all the things that God has given me this past year that I either prayed for and received or prayed for and did not receive. For both are blessings of one sort or another. My ego cannot tell what is best for me, only the One born in the manger knows. Such a tiny creature knows how every twist and turn in my life will turn out. What a thing to behold!

God, thy will be done! I wait for Your working in my life. I wait for You. In this, my second season of Advent, where I am truly beginning to understand what waiting on You means, I wait for You to fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may do Your will.

Psalm 130:5-6 calls to me at this moment:

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
   and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
   more than watchmen wait for the morning,
   more than watchmen wait for the morning.


More than watchmen wait for the morning, O Lord. I wait for Your Son's birth from here on out and hope for a renewed spirit within me.

And I recall the devotional song we so often sing in church with lyrics by Keith Green:

Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me
Create in me a clean heart, oh God
And renew a right spirit within me

Cast me not away from Thy presence, oh Lord
And take not Thy holy spirit from me
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation
And renew a right spirit within me


Lord, I will wait. I will wait for the answers, promises, questions...
I will wait for when it is Your time and not my own.
I will wait in this waiting season of Advent
and rejoice
as if I have received everything I could ever want
for You give
so lovingly
so overwhelmingly
that I most certainly do receive
everything
and more...


Blessings to you during this season of Advent. Experience the experience of waiting.
And perhaps...
right in the middle...
you will realize that He has been there
all along.


This blog entry was written in correlation with Charity Singleton over at Wide Open Spaces. See the Advent Writing Project here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hurrying through Not Hurrying: a Needful Listen


Hurry makes us hurt. Ann Voskamp, author of "One Thousand Gifts," wrote that in her book. I've talked about that book more than any other on this blog. Today, Ann was on my favorite radio program, "Live the Promise." Listen to it here

I felt inspired by the program to, indeed, slow down and savor the season. To bend low like the Wise Men, not climb that ladder high like American culture tells us to. I wanted to come home and

stop
sit
sing
sip

I wanted to

love
listen
lean

Instead, I walked into a house full of homework and rushing to get dinner made so this one could go to Confirmation class and then rushing and fretting because the youngest was having a meltdown over dinner and then rushing to get him calmed down enough to get the 2 younger ones to their Awana clubs.

And now I am rushing to write this blog entry because it is burning inside of me, this longing to slow down and yet I'm rushing, rushing, rushing to slow down. And yes, Heavenly Father, it is hurting.

I want to scream at myself - Haven't you learned anything? What did you listen to on the radio?

Or I just want to scream.

Husband is picking up the younger two from Awana which enables me to go to our church's 7:00 Midweek Advent Service. Ironically, that's why I'm rushing to get this blog entry done. So I can go to that. And once there? Will I rush, too? At church? Really?

Advent is about

waiting.

Waiting for the birth of Christ. Waiting for Grace. And as Ann says on the program, Grace is not just about doing good deeds so we get into Heaven. No, it's so much more than that.

To find out what Ann says, listen to that program. I want you to so very badly.
And then come back and tell me what you think of it. And remind me of what it says.

Because I think I'm going to need reminding.
A lot.

Bless you during the beginning of this Advent season, the season of waiting, of slowing down, of breathing in the breath of the child born in a tiny manger. He had so much to hurry toward, you would think. I would think. Saving people, saving the world. But He didn't hurry, did He.

No,
He didn't.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Wedding Day



This post is for my husband and for my Lord.

I was driving home, grooving to Casting Crown's newest CD, "Come to the Well."

I love so many of the songs and have had huge spiritual highs with practically all of them. The song, "Wedding Day" came on, one I love, but hadn't totally connected with yet.

Yet.

I listened to the song carefully, this time:

Listen to it here:

There's a stirring in the throne room
And all creation holds it's breath
Waiting now to see the bride groom
Wondering how the bride will dress
And she wears white
And she knows that she's undeserving
She bears the shame of history
With this worn and weary maiden
Is not the bride that he sees
And she wears white, head to toe
But only he could make it so

[CHORUS:]
When someone dries your tears
When someone wins your heart
And says your beautiful
When you don't know you are
And all you've longed to see
Is written on his face
When love has come and finally set you free
On that wedding day
On that wedding day

[VERSE 2:]
She has danced in golden castles
And she has crawled through beggar's dust
But today she stands before him
And she wears his righteousness
And she will be who he adores
And this is what he made her for

[CHORUS]

[BRIDGE:]
When the hand that bears the only scars
And heaven touch her face
And the last tears she'll ever cry
Are finally wiped away
And the clouds roll back as he takes her hand
And walks her through the gates
Forever we will reign

[CHORUS]

I first felt called in appreciation for my husband with the lines, "When someone dries your tears / When someone wins your heart / And says you're beautiful / When you don't know you are / And all you've longed to see / Is written on his face..." Yes! Husband has completely loved me when I felt unlovable. He has dried my tears like no one else. And everything I've longed to see is written on his face - love, devotion, honesty.

I heard those lyrics a second time and I realized that I feel the EXACT way about how the Lord does that for me. He has dried my tears, He has told me I'm beautiful on many occasions. His love is written across His face!! What love these two have for me!

Other lyrics that touched me were: "She has danced in golden castles / And she has crawled through beggar's dust / But today she stands before him / And she wears his righteousness / And she will be who he adores / And this is what he made her for..." I feel that yes, I have danced in golden castles - had wonderful experiences - and yet I also have crawled through beggar's dust - had horrible trials and tribulations. But you know what? I now wear his righteousness and this... this walking with the Lord, this living His will, this loving others the way Jesus loves me, THIS is what He made me for!!!

I obviously have assimilated myself into this song. I've thought about it in terms of me. And yet do you know what this song is really about? How Casting Crowns wrote it? It is a metaphor for the true Wedding - the Bridegroom being Jesus Christ, the Bride being the new Jerusalem:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ... 
~ Revelations 21:1-27 (ESV)

I'd just like to say Wow. The Holy Spirit is surely with the lyricists of Casting Crowns. 

I am married to Wonderful Husband, yes. For a little over two years now. And I have been "married" to the Lord for one year now. And the next wedding? Anticipation fills my soul...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

When You are Overwhelmed with the Need of the World


Charity.
What do you think of when you hear that word?
Giving.
What do you think of when you hear that word?

Do you feel excited and full of potential, ready to give? Or do you feel overwhelmed at all the need in this world?

Do you feel jaded by all the commercials over the decades that paste poverty-stricken children on the television screen and do you think to yourself, "oh, they're just getting the worst-looking kid to pose and they just want my money - my money won't actually reach them."

Are you thinking, "somebody else will take care of them?"

Maybe you feel guilty when you hear 2 Corinthians 9:7:

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

Are you not exactly a cheerful giver? Please. Do not feel guilty. I have thought long and hard and have had it placed on my heart: God does not want you to feel guilty. Let me explain further.

Right now, a number of my favorite Christian writers are blogging from the Compassion International trip to Ecuador. You can read the many inspirational and heart-touching blogs and stories here.

I'm reading Ann Voskamp's blog posts the most because she speaks to my poet's heart. In her November 10th post, she writes about meeting one of her sponsor children, Lidia, in Ecuador. Ann writes,


"All poverty is first poverty of a relationship." 

And who is that relationship with? She continues:

"Falling out of relationship with God was our first fall into poverty  — and into conflict and sin and hardship.  And all subsequent poverty —- All poverty stems more from an absence of right relationships than a right resources. Anything that takes the place of the primacy of the Christ-relationship leads to a place of poverty."


Tears spilled over as I read her 11-10-11 post, as she marvels at how she "fritters" away $38 a month when this child, Lidia, has waited THREE YEARS to find a sponsor. Or rather, for a sponsor to choose her. I looked at my bank account and felt ashamed at all the menial purchases when so many children are abroad, sick, starving, dying. 


And then I felt what you might feel: complete ovewhelm. I can't do it all, God! I cried. I CAN'T! How can I help them? Do I go on a missionary trip and lend my services? I wondered if I could make a quick phone call, drum up some money, and join Ann, Shaun, and their friends at Compassion and quickly go there and lend my aid. 


Then I realized I am a wife and a stepmother who is dearly needed at home. What was I to do?


Then...something else came to mind. I remembered an interview Susie Larson had done on "Live the Promise" with a family who had sold all their possessions (after learning that riches did not cause true happiness) and bought and R.V. and began their ministry, Passion to Action. You can hear their amazing interview here.  (particularly important is the talk at 32 minutes and 40 seconds and on).

To fully understand the connections I am trying to make, I urge you to look at these links I am giving you. Listen to the podcast of the husband and wife's interview on Live the Promise. 


Jay and Beth Loecken packed their 4 kids up and took an R.V. and decided to bring their family on the road to serve and love others. They say a lot about serving others and focusing right in our own community. They are not saying to disregard the needs in third world countries, but they made the point that there are needy people right next door to us. 


And that made me think. What does God call us to do? I looked at Scripture:


"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:1-4

He calls us to give, but to give quietly, without "trumpets" and fanfare. Basically, do not give for your own glory, but for His. 

And then I read 1 John 3:17:

"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."


So for the love of God to be in you, you must think of those in need. To have a heart for the needy, is to have a heart for Jesus. 

But what about all of us who feel guilty/overwhelmed/jaded by all the need that is in the world? Whether we don't actually believe that much is out there (I don't believe that) or whether we think that we can't possibly make a dent in this world...

Well, you know what? Yes, you. You. YOU can help. YOU are called to help. 

BUT...God does not call you to do anything that He has not equipped you with. 

So... do we do the BIG and go be a missionary for Compassion International? 

Or do we serve our own communities? Do we bring a casserole to the recently-widowed woman down the street? Do we offer babysitting to a family whose parents are overstressed and burdened (that recently was blessed upon me)? Not that that kind of serving is "little," but it isn't as BIG-SOUNDING as the above mentioned example? 

Big or little? Far or near? This or that? 

I don't want to judge one or the other - the point is that you need to ACT. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:17 once again). 

Yes, I understand there are so many cries for help. So many men, women, children, abroad and in our own country, state, town, street. Where ought we put our focus? 

Do we need to worry so much on the Where? On the How? Ought we just focus on the DOING of something? 

Stay with me here. 

What if EVERY ABLE person donated money to either a sponsorship program or money to a program that helps the poverty-stricken? Or what if EVERY ABLE person donated time at local soup kitchens, hospitals, or cooking dinners for that sick neighbor...

does God care about the HOW? He helps makes things happen.  But we have to make the WHAT. We need to make the first step. The ACTION. God will make the HOW of our steps. He will use us to do His good if we allow Him to. 

Now listen to this:

Our God is a God of HOW. He needs us to do the WHAT. He will direct us, guide us, if we let him.  

Do you feel a little less overwhelmed? When I realized this - that I didn't have to fret over how my help was directed - just that I had to make that step to help...when I realized that God would take my help and use it for His glory and good, I felt so much lighter. 

We all try to be God once in a while, don't we?

But God is God and we are human. Flawed humans who sometimes don't know what to do with all of our privileges, yet at the same time some of us don't know how to ask for help for what we need. 

Let God be God and let us do what we need to do: take action. 

I feel so passionate about this, folks. I was explaining this whole concept to my husband in the car and I was almost crying. I was so grateful to God for laying these thoughts and realizations on my heart because I feel it's so important to share. 

You don't need to feel guilty or overwhelmed or jaded or think you can't possibly make a difference. The TV may make you think you have an obligation to this or that in a foreign country. And maybe you do. Is that something that calls to you? For some, it is. And God bless their souls and acts!

But maybe you feel called to help out locally - for the homeless or needy families in town. 

The point is, my lovely friends who have stuck with me and are still reading this long blog post, is that you must first do something in order for the glory to go to God. 

If I may digress a little, let me say that I am the first to admit that I am a bit selfish at times. I want to do my thing the way I want to do it. But I am tired of the selfishness. And I do feel called to go abroad and place myself in a country that is in desperate need. I want to force myself to serve others. Am I going to book the tickets next week? No, I know that trip will have to wait until God provides. 

BUT I know I can work on that selfish nature by looking around in my own neighborhood. There is a woman at church who is in the hospital for a brain aneurism. She is such a sweet soul and I want to check up on her. And God has called me to serve my stepchildren. They are broken in their own ways. They have food, clothing, shelter, but they are very needy in emotion. They crave love and I need to make myself available to them. That sounds easy, but trust me - for me, it isn't. 

So what I am trying so hard to say is...

just act. Don't worry about the HOW and just do the WHAT. 

God is a mighty God, God is an awesome God. He is a mover and a shaker. 

Trust in Him. Act. Be His vessel. Glorify Him with your good deeds and kindnesses. Look outside of your own personal box and make yourself aware of the needs around you. 

In giving, we receive. 

My dears,

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  

 Colossians 3:12


May God bless you with ideas and passion and may He work your work, may he make your WHAT glorify Him and what Christianity is all about and may He work a miraculous HOW through your efforts.


Now, enjoy this song that has the lyrics that talk about what I've been talking about:
Steven Curtis Chapman's "Do Everything."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Anniversary of Giving and Taking Away


I don't know how to start. Some moments I feel overcome with grief for what day it is: the 5th anniversary of my mother's death. The day my world stopped turning and spun out of control for many years. And then last year - on this day - I spun into the Lord's embrace and there have I nestled myself happily and gratefully. And yet some moments I rant and rail against God, asking him why? Why did He have to take my mother, my best friend, away from me? Look at what happened to me two years after her death: I got married and became a stepmother of three. So much happened in my life that she was not a part of.

Last night while sitting in the passenger side of the car, head leaning against the cold window with eyes searching the stars and moon above, I listened to the new Casting Crowns CD,"Come to the Well" and I was in an angry place. I wanted my Mom. I wanted her not just alive, I wanted her right next to me, holding me. I wanted to talk to her, to hear her voice, I wanted to feel her arms around me. And I was angry.

Then I remembered what I had heard in a Beth Moore Bible Study on the Book of Esther. She talked about "reversal of destiny." or peripeteia which is a fancy way of saying reversal of fortune - that is to say, a literary device and concept of a turning point, a change of circumstances. There are plenty of people in the Bible who have had reversals of destiny. Actually, that is what a lot God's Word is: the lowly, the least-deserving or the least-expected people turning out to reach the highest heights, become the greatest people, the wisest, the strongest. In the book of Esther, it was Esther, herself, who started out as the Jew, Hadassah, who rose in status to be the Queen of Persia. Such an "ironic" or upside-down turn of events is an example of "reversal of destiny."

I asked myself: what was my "reversal of destiny?" What became ironic in my life - born from tragedy which turned into something benefiting me or others?

I struggled with figuring this out until last night in the car, looking up at the sky. As I was venting to God how unfair it was that my mother was no longer with me, I began to feel a calm settle over my body. My mind stayed on thoughts of my mother, then drifted to thoughts of my stepchildren. And that's when the pivotal phrase hit me:

A mother mothering without a mother.

How ironic. What a tragedy turned into a blessing. Blessing, you ask? I often don't think so, but my stepchildren are in full-time care of  Husband and I because of an emergency situation that happened in their lives and thank God Husband and I had a stable home and life. It has been nothing short of total chaos trying to manage a life which includes a (fairly) new family of 3 kids plus husband...but I'm doing it.

And I know you probably don't understand this because you didn't know the dynamic between my mother and me, but I think I would not be as effective a stepmother if my own mother, though much loved, was still alive. Oh, of course I long for Mom to know my family, but for some reason, God thought it would be better for me to go at this without her earthly presence.

I don't pretend to know the mind of God, nor do I wish to. But this realization gave me some purpose for Mom's passing. And whether or not I am right about the "reversal of destiny" and my place in it, whether or not it makes sense to you or to me, it brings me a certain sense of calm and peace and on this day of days, the 5th year of her passing, I think that's a fine thing to think.

I'll leave you with this verse from Psalm 30:11:
  
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

I hope to feel that way some of the time. I say some because I know I will grieve, I will hurt. But I know the Lord makes all things new, that He loves and guides...

and in coming to Him, I have been made free (mostly, because hey, I'm human) of this anger at her death. 

I hope the verse comforts and inspires you. 

And I'm curious. What do you think about "reversal of destiny?" Google it. Wiki it. Look up what Beth Moore has to say about it. And get back to me. 

Happy All Saint's Day, as celebrated in my Lutheran Church today. 

God Bless. 
And Mom, I love and miss you. 
 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baptism by Bathtub


I cracked. I fell. I was empty, at bottom. I was in the bathtub, almost fully submerged, water over my ears so I could hear nothing. I asked the nothing to become God's voice and asked Him to speak to me. I laid there. I did not hear anything, exactly, but a peace came upon me. I got out of the bathtub, dried off, went into the bedroom and wrote in my prayer journal. The words that came out I know came from God. I want you to read what I heard and wrote down. Fill in the details with your own details, the things that you struggle with, the things that you most succeed at. And at the end of His "love letter," I hope you'll feel as loved as I did, as new as I felt - a new creation, emerging from the waters of the bathtub.

*******************************************
My child,
I love you when you cry 
over your beloved mother. 
I love you when you grieve 
over having to give up your beloved pet.
I love you when you feel like running,
escaping,
hurting yourself. 
I love you when you don't think
you are a good mother, 
and think you can't love them
like you ought to.

I love you when you are passive-agressive,
selfish, impatient,
and mean.
I love you when you doubt.
I love you when you hate your life. 
I love you when you feel lost,
like you have
no one left
because

it is in your lostness,
your sinfulness, your
very bottom,
where you finally
look up
and see Me,
that I have always 
loved you, always been there 
by your side, 
though everything.

I love you at your worst
and I love you at your best,
when you hold your stepson in the morning
and rock and rock and rock,
when you cradle your husband's head
and guide him to Me, 
when you watch a client at work 
with awe and delight.
I love you when you seek
Me out in everything you do.

I love that you puddled into the bathtub tonight
and lay with ears and body submerged
and asked Me to speak to you.
I love that as you listened to the sound
of water going down the drain,
you imagined your burdens draining as well.
I love that you felt peaceful.
I gave you that peace.
Because you deserve it. 
Not because you are perfect
and will never fall again,

but because you are human
and, in falling, you continue
to look for Me.

I love you always,
in all ways,
to depths you cannot imagine.

Love,
God.
********************************************
How do you feel after reading that? I feel strongly that God didn't mean that for me, alone. He meant it for my husband, my stepchildren; He meant it for you. 

We are human. We will fall. But in the falling, we must cry out, look up to God. 

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

~Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

Look at that: a song of ascents. Ascend upward...look upward...

and just maybe you'll want to take a bath sometime soon...

and listen.  



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Giving Up



My pot has been about to boil over for a while now. Full-time custody of three kids very suddenly has sent Husband and I into a tailspin and knocking on the email doors of many friends, asking for advice and help.

Yesterday, it just became too much. The many ways in which I have lost my different identities - woman, writer, wife - and the identity which has become convoluted - stepmother - have turned me round and round until ashes, ashes, I have fallen down.

I've fallen.

And so I asked my work for a mental health day today. And, kindly, they agreed.


I was listening to Matthew West's song, "Strong Enough:"


"I know I'm not strong enough
to be everything that I'm supposed to be
I give up
I'm not stong enough..."

And I realized it. I give up. Yes, I give up. I wanted to scream it out my window: I GIVE UP!!!!
  
But in listening to West's song, I realized it wasn't that I was giving up and waving the white flag and leaving it at that. Instead, I was giving up on trying to control the situation....and giving it to God.

We hear that phrase a lot, don't we? It's become a kind of cliche: Give it to God. In our culture, we think that means just letting go and letting your worries drift into nothingness. 

But we who believe in God know better. And even those of us who believe in God, but who suffer and need reminding, must know: we may give up, we may release the burden...but in giving up we hold on to the One who can take it all on. The only One who can handle it all: yep, you guessed it. God. 

So Lord, I know I'm not strong enough to be all these identities on my own. I'm not strong enough to handle three unique children each going through their own emotional growing pains. I'm not strong enough to handle trouble in my marriage due to stress, lack of time together, etc. 

I just can't do it, Lord. 

If you give up, do you think that's a failure? Do you feel bad? Do you feel less of a person?

Don't. If you give up...and give over...and hold onto Him who can carry it all for you...

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  
Matthew 11:30 

...you will find life all the more sweeter to live. I try to control so much. I try to make the kids not have temper tantrums; I try to make traffic run easier; I try to control Husband's moods....

I give up, Lord, and I give it to You. For you can make all things new. 

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"
2 Corinthians 5:17 

Only You can make me be what You call me to be, Lord. 

I bow before you. I look upward instead of inward.   

May you release the tight clutch you have on life and in opening your palm, may you see butterflies flitting up to Heaven. 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tacos are Yummy, but...



My 4-year-old stepson is now in Awana, which is like cub scouts for God. His 7-year-old sister is in it as well, but I'm going to mention something that he did recently. He learned and memorized his first Bible verse:

"God is love."
~ 1 John 4:8

He says it really cute. I wonder what it means to him. Then I wondered what it means to us. I meditated on the word, "love," and realized it is a far overused word. We say, "I love tacos" and "I love my spouse" in the same sentence. Do you see something careless in this?

God took his Word very seriously in the Bible: 

"The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Psalms 12:6 (KJV) 

 and that makes his words holy. I am trying to be more intentional with my words. I praise God more - not just for the good things, but for the struggles which allow me to lean on him and to glorify him through my perseverance. I count my blessings. I use words of affirmation toward Husband, which, in turn, helps him feel appreciated and supported. Sure, tacos are yummy, but the love of God calls me to share is so special and dear to me; the love I have for God is so enormous, when I say, "I love..." I recognize the weight it carries. 

How heavy or meaningful is love for you?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

There Is A Time


"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."
-- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV) 

I know about seasons. I feel like I've lived a thousand Winters. A million Falls. Not enough Springs or Summers, but, indeed, I have had some. There have been times for "every activity under heaven." I have been born and I have died. I have planted, uprooted, killed, healed; I have woven in and out of all these seasons in the span of maybe ten years. Is that what the Lord means? 

Or are we just supposed to know that there "is a time for everything?" Perhaps we aren't supposed to go out and do all these things, but simply know that "there is a time."

There is a time for this and that. For trouble and for goodness. What I get from that is that we are not supposed to plant ourselves in one spot. For instance, the problem I most have is that I lean backward into the past too often and get caught in memories. Memories with their own fragrance, their own theme song, their own attic room. There is a time...

I feel God saying to me, however: "But, Lisa, not all the time."

For there is also a time to let go of things, to plant yourself in the present with present-day people, children, friends, home, job, following Christ. 

I found this excellent article on letting go of your past - not in the tossing-aside into the trash way that some may think, but rather in a gentle way that God calls.... read the article, Letting Go of Your Past and read how, exactly, you are called to do so. Do not be confused. Do not think it is bad to be caught up in your past, as I used to think. This article takes you through the gentle steps God calls.  

As I write this, we are letting go of the carefree days of Summer and entering the sobering, school-filled-excitement season of Autumn. Fall. I often "fall" during Fall due to it being the anniversary of my mother's death. It will be 5 years this November. Historically, Autumn has brought with it ghosts and pain. Now, November 6th is a different kind of anniversary. Besides being the day my stepfather called me on the phone at 1:30 in the morning and told me to "be strong... your mother died...."... it is now, since last year, the day that I came to the Lord. The night I laid in bed beside Husband and he, first, prayed fervently for our marriage, for our walk with the Lord to increase, for us to fight wordly influences and take up the Cross and raise a Christ-centered family... now my day of opening my heart and life to the Lord is the exact day of the anniversary of Mom's passing. Accident? 

God didn't want me to dread the season of Autumn. He didn't want me to fall every Fall. To let the pain and trauma take me over during the months September all the way through January. I didn't deserve that. My mom didn't deserve that. The people around me didn't deserve that. He wanted to give me a different idea of death. And now, I do know that Mom is with Him in heaven and yes - I will see her again. And that is comforting. 

The air is crisp. Shades of gold, orange, yellow begin to warm the air and my view of the outside world. The season is changing. And that's okay. I am ready for this season. I am ready to view it differently. I am ready to let go of the past seasons and how they have stuck to me like molasses. I am ready to move on into celebration. 

For there is a time to mourn and a time to celebrate. A time to die and a time to heal. 

And without the Lord, I could not ever, ever move on to a different season. I would continue to be stuck in my old stubborn Wellington boots. Ready to walk through puddles and nothing else. Ready to see only the storms and not the rainbow. 

There is a time...

Are you moving into the next season?

Bless you whether you move with ease or some gentle prodding....  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Let the Healing Begin



I used to heal in a vacuum. Meaning I believed that one healed through one's own devices, whether that be self-medicating, or, for me, therapy. I was raised in the therapy world of the 1980s, 1990s and early to mid 00s. Therapy was where I sought relief; I depended on my therapists to counsel me and therefore be "on the road to healing," as they would say.

I had a traumatic background. I learned early on that I would most likely be in therapy for the rest of my life. And so I hopped from one therapist to another the way children try different kinds of candy. But my pieces of candy had promises attached to them, promises that were given to me by my parents, by well-meaning friends, and other important people in my life. They wanted to see me helped. Healed. I really thought I could be healed through therapy, through a lifetime in someone's office, talking it all out, swallowing medication prescribed by well-meaning but undereducated psychiatrists. The healing would take place by myself, in the vacuum of my life.

This morning, while I drove to work listening to the contemporary Christian music radio station that is always on, I heard one of my favorite songs:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQjXofJzx60

"Healing Begins" by Tenth Avenue North

I listened to those words carefully and I realized that I was not done with my healing - and more than that, I had gone about healing the wrong way. For doesn't it say in Proverbs 3:5:

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding ?

My own understanding (and my thearpist's) was all I ever knew or depended on. So did I make an idol out of my therapist? You bet I did. And now that I'm Christian and following God's Word, do I take this verse a whole lot deeper? You bet I do.

So as I listened to "Healing Begins" this morning, I thought about the concept of healing. I realized that I am healing a little every day - and not just from past wounds. Healing is not only a past-thing. I am assaulted every day with trappings of my ego and forces that don't want me to walk with God. Every day is a constant battle to remain faithful, to remain confident in the knowledge of who I am under God.

I am under a lot of present-day, constant stress and I bet you are, too. But with the grace and presence of God - through the Bible, prayer, other Christian resources such as friends and books, healing becomes a constant effort. Does it have to be an effort, though? Life can be so effortful as it is. But this I tell you: pray unceasingly. Keep open your mind and heart and dialogue with the Lord. Walk with others who walk with the Lord. And as we realize that, with God, we are healing every day, life becomes less overwhelming. Day to day. We are not doing this alone in a vacuum. With God, there is no vacuum. When we love Him, we open ourselves up to a huge, expansive world of supernatural love that can make a tough day feel like a mere annoying itch.

So when I need to heal, I don't depend only on my therapist or medication. I turn to prayer. I turn to God's Word. I turn to Him and ask His help. And always, always, I feel relief.

"The light meets the dark..."

His light meets my dark...

and I am washed in His love.

I wish you healing of a deep and profound nature and that you recognize the need for God's almighty assistance. Sit on His couch and try that one for size.

Bless you.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Are You Looking for Your #1 or Your #2?

I heard Susie Larson over at Live the Promise interview Craig Groeschel today. His entire interview is worth listening to -- a little tease:

Do you want to know what "oddly godly" means? Go listen!

He talks about marriage and the state of it today (to put it simply; more complexly, he says so much more) and talks about how many young people come to him (he is a pastor) and say,

"Oh, Pastor! Pastor! I've met this awesome guy/girl... I know he/she is the ONE!!"

And Craig Groeschel posited, shouldn't God be the One? Shouldn't we turn to the Lord first and love him and establish our first intimate relationship with him first? Definitely!

Thus, says Groeschel, let God be your #1 and when you look for that good potential spouse, say:

"I met this awesome guy/girl...I think he/she is my TWO!"


He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
~ Luke: 10:27

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When You Are Wordless


I can't find words to start this. It's been so long since I've written. That's not for lack of wanting, however. There has been such a variety of things that have happened to me, revelations God placed on my heart, spiritual attacks, new kindred friends made, a return to some of my roots (poetry and writing), chaos within the family, and so much more.

I've started this entry about five different times. Each time I've ended up too busy to finish. So I started writing beginnings of entries in my notebook, by hand, and hoped to copy it on the computer. That didn't work out.

I have all these ideas and no butterfly net to catch them.

I have all these reasons to cry out to the Lord in praise

and all these reasons to cry out to the Lord seeking help.

Being wordless, disconnected from you all, is new to me. I've been journaling (thereby keeping my sanity), but not until today has one poem or essay come out.

I still don't know if this entry will SAY anything. I feel I have to let all the mishmash of wordlessness spill onto the computer screen before I can continue.

So yes, I have written a poem. Allow me to copy it down here. Lend me grace; it is a rough draft.

All Across the River

Poets of this world
are like my long-lost
siblings taken from me
when home life crumbled
into particles of dust.

I mourn for them, feel the
phantom limb from which
they were torn, hear the far-
away scribbling of pens
I cannot join.
My club, my posse,
all across the river.

Gospel songs ring with
life the way it is now:
spontaneous, rapturous
praises, hysterical, bird-
falling sobs.

In my sleep, I whisper
Who am I without a pen?
A blur, a fast-forward machine
using hands to do so many things
except what I used to do best.

Fingers feel empty, grasp for air.
Air cannot hold me up.
I hear them. I see them
across the river.
There is no boat. There are no
footsteps on the sand.

copyright LMB 2011


When you are wordless, as a writer, as someone who has lived and breathed words, what do you do?

Ah-ha. It just hit me.

Prayer!

I feel so overwhelmed with happenings, I have forgotten to sit in the quiet, in the silence, and pray. I have been so transfixed by my new Android phone (a huge novelty to have such a nifty device) that I turn to playing with that and all the apps and widgets and whatsits and such that I don't stop and read the Bible.

Oh Lord, please forgive me. I have raised idols. Yes, the phone, yes, the happenings, and yes, even words. Mere words have become idols. The need to post here. An idol.

Now I can't get on my case too hard like I am wont to do. I can be so hard on myself and I know God doesn't want that, either.

But I feel such a need for simplicity. Our days are packed with appointments to this therapist or that doctor, to this court date or to this parental visitation. We come home late, eat dinner late, put the kids to bed late, and then hussle ourselves to bed because Husband needs to be awake by the horrible hour of 3:00am. I don't like the act of NOT falling asleep with him so I choose to go to bed when he does, thereby choosing to forgo the late evening hours to do.

So a need for simplicity. Husband and I say, We need to read the Word soon. And we keep saying it. And not doing it.

As I wrote in the last entry, I don't want to make idols of other books, other people, other things. There are two very simple things a Christian needs: faith/love in God and the Bible. All else is supplementary, in my opinion.

So perhaps I need to accept the wordless times. Perhaps I shouldn't beat myself up so much for not updating this blog in a while.

I'm going to ponder this, sit in the emptiness (which is probably the fullest place I can find), and get back to you.

What does wordless mean to you? What do you do when you are in that season?

Bless you.