Monday, December 30, 2013


What now, Jesus?

When I need you today, each day, every day.......Jesus?
Where are You between the "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given...." and redemption?

Probably in the middle of a multitude of diaper changings, midnight feedings, late-evening floor pacing, early morning cooing, afternoon napping, all ten perfect fingers-perfect toes wondering of new parents in the what-seems-never-ending whirlwind of newborn"ness".

Because surely Mary and Joseph experienced those things.

And surely, You, in Your humanity, experienced those things.

And surely, no matter how miraculous, healing, and life giving Your arrival was, You had to get through the ordinary and mundane - the days after all the awed visitors and gifts - in order to arrive at the specific Miracle-Making, People-Healing, Disciple-Making, Life-Giving, Kingdom-Preaching time God, Your Father, had already ordained for You.

You.  All of those things.  Confined within my incapable, incompetent, disinterested humanity.

The improbability of a quick, easy, painless, bloodless birth and the irony of the King of Kings sleeping on straw.

And me with the expectation of "Happy Christmas"...

I can't get my mind around it today.  The You I talk to today and the babe we've all been awaiting these weeks past.

And now, reflecting upon the "Big Day" that has now come and gone...

~The hyped-upped anticipation of arrival and celebration and the return to the (sometimes) crushing ordinariness of the tasks that consume the everyday.

~The Big Picture made up of all these tiny details.

~The sudden turnaround of instant renewal and the drudging slowness of a snail-paced transformation.

...and finally coming to the realization that You are both the overwhelming joy and rescue - our salvation - long awaited.....and the steady comfort and strength for everyday.  For all the seemingly insignificant details that come together to form the whole.

You are the small - the helpless babe.  The child of human parentage...."For to us a child is born..."

Midnight cries.
Ultimate vulnerability.
Absolute dependence.
Utter neediness.

You are the Big.  The Son of Divine Origin..."to us a son is given..."

Wonderful Counselor.
Mighty God.
Everlasting Father.
Prince of Peace.

You have heard my cries.  You have seen my vulnerability, my dependence, my neediness.

You answer all my "whys" and "wherefores".  You are Wonderful Counselor.
You have the power to accomplish Your plan.  You are Mighty God.
You are loving and forgiving.  You are Everlasting Father.
You reconcile me with God and with others.  You are Prince of Peace.

On the "big" day and every day.  You are.

Not only for my then, not only for my now, but for my next.

You, the not-so-ordinary or mundane but extraordinary and heavenly, in every aspect of my ordinary and mundane-my commonplace and my worldly.

YOU are what is next.

Not "What now, Jesus"?  
Me.  Questioning You.

"What now?"  


You.  The Answer to my question.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Planters Life

I never much liked to garden.

I don't like dirt.  

I don't like dirty hands.

I don't like dirty nails.

I don't have the patience it takes to wait.  

Not liking to do it and having to do it don't sit well with me.  

...Stiff-necked much?  Stubborn and hard headed much?

Maybe just a bit.  Can you relate?

Yet, I am a seed planter.  I am a sower.  I am compelled-driven-to do this thing.  It is my faith in action.  It is my purpose put into words.  It is the overflow of grace poured upon me that spills over and out onto others.

And yet my vessel never empties...

It requires hands to get dirty.  It gets under every fingernail.  It even finds its way into places I never knew could contain such messiness.  It requires patience to wait.  Not liking it has nothing to do with having to do it.

This is not to be confused with being the Gardener.  In this instance, my job will not be to cultivate.  It is merely to plant.

I will not be the One to send the rain.

I will not be the One to make the sun send forth its powerful rays.

What I plant will carry along with it everything it needs to regenerate.  I simply must be obedient in offering it freely and placing it in the dirt.

I may get to enjoy the fruit of the harvest or it may be enjoyed by another.  Either way, the planting must be done.

Or there will be no harvest at all.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lessons from a Load of Laundry

It isn't lost on me.  The irony of this moment.  I stare down into the depths of the darkness.  The water is murky, a churning gray...already tainted with the dirt from that which is being cleaned.  The spindle with its grooves, turning, pulling down the pieces of material and pulling them under.  Each churn brings the scraps of cloth-safe as they are, contained within the safety of the encircling basket-into contact with one another as well as the agitator, practically beating the ugliness and stain right out of it.  The repeated wrenching almost feels as if it will tear the clothing asunder...but it does not.  They will emerge-one hopes??-free of stain, returned to the original unsullied state, once again like new.

I would not have seen this.  I would not have been so mesmerized.  If I weren't here.  If I weren't looking for the joy.

So much swirls around us, out there in this sin-stinking world, and if we don't look, ask to see, really want to see, we won't find the joy that is there in front of us.  The joy that resides in the activity of the seemingly mundane.

Oh, but the laundry??  Really??  How can any of that make sense of what doesn't make sense?

From the earliest point captured by memory the draw of being wife and mommy has pulled at my heart.  When I thought I lacked direction, when I thought I didn't know what I wanted to do...when I thought I didn't fit was only me, not conforming to the patterns of this world.  It was only God, cementing deep within me the desire to do His bidding.

A desire that quite simply is the highest calling...

The calling to glorify Him.

When my yes is whispered to Him, He merges my desires with His plan.  When I lay down my life, when I offer up to Him all that I have and all that I am, with a willingness to do all that He asks of me, He is glorified.

Three weeks ago today a new direction for this season of my life was made known to me.  Three weeks ago today that which held me bound to the thought of doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing, of doing what would make me look good to the masses, of doing what others thought I should do...was loosed.

Setting me free.

Free to be criticized, ridiculed, laughed at.  Free to do what isn't normal and isn't as freely accepted or supported by mainstream culture.

Leaving me free to do what I am supposed to do.

Free to do what God wants me to do.

Free to find joy where before I had found tedious, endless repetition.

Free to not be crushed by a crazy, over-filled schedule.

Free from being required to live up to someone else's standards of who I am supposed to be...too stressed to look for the joy under the ugliness that can be everyday life.

Free to indulge in the luxury of a load of laundry, endlessly churning, continually cleaning, making the clothes like new again.

Free to wonder anew at how I feel His calm assurance, I know and can trust the safety of His hands-hands that contain me, safely encircling me, calming me and comforting me while the agitations of this life claw at me, pulling me under.  I marvel again that while it may seem the repeated wrenching and wringing may almost tear me apart, He is my gracious Father, He brings me forth, cleansed from sin, restored, like new.

I do not have to hope that He will.  I know it to be true.

25)  I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean
I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.  
26)  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; 
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  
27)  And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to 
follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.

29)  I will save you from all your uncleanness.
Ezekiel 36

1)  I love You, O LORD, my strength.
2)  The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18

Monday, September 24, 2012

This One Thing That Is My Thorn...

And just when I think the day is going splendidly well....

Did you ever have one of the "those" moments?  You know, the ones where things seem to be moving along oh-so-well only to end up with you having a meltdown...coming unglued?

If I start my day with praise, worship, and Scripture...if I don't sit down first to the mindless tasks of nothing...if I choose to look the day in its face and meet it square on...those are the days I check off as good.  Productive.  Worthwhile.  Satisfying.

Not so this day.

I wasn't prepared for the unexpected assault.  It came out of nowhere.  The one thing that will tank my mood in an instant.  The one thing that will cause me to question, to grouch, to raise a stink about life and its absurd unfairness.  That one thing doesn't really happen to be the issue, just the effect that it has on me.

And don't we all have that one thing?  And why haven't I whipped it already?  And why, why oh why, do I have to deal with this again?  How am I to be effective in ministering to anyone in any way when I can't even master this one thing?  Of what use am I, broken as I am?  Broken in spirit, broken in heart, broken...what worth lies in a broken thing?

As quick as a flash I have plunged to the depths.  I am angry and hostile.  Shaking my fist at God.  Pounding my palm with a "fix this NOW" demand.  Begging a reprieve from my inability to live up to my own standard.  

With the sweet gentleness that belongs to Him alone, He speaks softly to me.

This brokenness that must be addressed is my own death.  Death to self.  Death to my own expectation of how life should be.  Death to the very fact that this one thing may be what is asked of me to be endured.  There must be death in me so there may be life in others.  My death to self and my expectations is to be part of what they see, to encourage life in them.

This conceited thought that I don't deserve what I am facing, that I should not have to endure the trouble of this one thing that grates on me and pushes me to every last limit is the very weakness I must give over.  

What is my expectation?  That He will immediately deliver me from this that I consider hardship?  That He will completely remove any test or pressure that might conform me into the creation He has designed for me to be?

Why, yes.  Many days that is precisely my expectation.  Sadly enough.

But if I remember correctly, that defeats my entire purpose for being.  The purpose of giving Him glory.  For where is His perfect power displayed?

...only through my weakness.  

9)  But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  10)  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak....

...then I am strong.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hoarding Life

To say that it has been a while....well, there's an understatement.  It wouldn't be from not writing.  Just not posting.

When the mind is working, and the lessons are forming, and there are things to be revealed, thoughts continue to tumble forth and sentences are formed to capture the idea and put definition to it.

Sometimes it just isn't always worth sharing.

Rereading this for the third time and wondering, is it the third time that is the charm?  How long does it take, really, for all this to sink in and actually become a catalyst for life to change?  Or have I changed every time, it just feels that this one is the most painful-perhaps the more permanent-one in my life?

I consider the past weeks and all that has been in them.  My heart has been ambivalent about the upcoming weeks (why am I wasting time worrying about tomorrows anyway??) and I haven't been looking forward with joy.  It has been more akin to dreaded resignation.  I'm already consumed with the time wasted, moments missed, "where has the time gone?" thought process that removes all gratefulness from my heart.  Grabbing all the moments together into one big pile to mull over later-tomorrow, maybe-when the crush of life slows down.

I begin to look at the future that way, I lose sight of the good and I quit being thankful and I start again with a sense of entitlement....and, oh no, here goes the attitude again...

I cry out and scream and pout.

-No, no, no!  I don't want it this way!-

The forever 2-year-old in my heart that won't be silenced.  The ungrateful, unhappy, when-do-I-get-MY-way, spoiled collection of ugliness.  

All I ever want is to be done her.  Over her.  So far away from her I don't remember the time she lived so close.  She is whiny.  Noisy.  Unpredictable.  Ungrateful.

I've started the list.

But my spirit is defiant enough to not want to follow through:  There.  I'll show you! eyes find the red blankie.  The tattered remnants of a much-loved piece of fabric.

Ah yes.  The softening.  A melted mama-heart.  Thank You, God.  For the boy.  For the blankie.  For the devotion and the protection and all that he feels and knows and loves.  And all that comes with the simple joy of familiar softness next to a cheek.  And just how long do I get to keep him little and sweet...?

I move over to the dishes.  I can't quite form thoughts well enough to stay seated...must be in motion...but I can't quiet my spirit.

...I recall the words of a husband spoken to the anxious heart of a wife "Just remember, you are talking to are talking to are talking to me...."

Eyes brimming with "heart rain" every time I think on it.  Those would be words I would want to hear.  I think of my own husband, the one who takes the brunt of the worst of me.  How I would long for such comfort.  Thank You, God for words of assurance. thoughts move on to a friend who spent a day last weekend saying goodbye to a beloved friend too young to be gone...

Praise You, God, she is with You.  She knows You.  There will be laughter again together one day.

...into thoughts now alighting upon the richness of thanksgiving comes the one thought meant to break me...that of the life journey of a beloved that isn't where it should be...

Do what You must, God.  Make it unpleasant, unbearable, You may save.  But don't forget-You won't forget-to hold this mama's weeping heart close...

...and there it is...there it is!

What the world calls a silver lining.
The bright side.

-but is really eucharisteo-seeing all is grace and choosing thankfulness.

and just like that, in an instant, spirit broken, heart healing, given in to joy...


...who can hoard their life when they see the abundance of His grace?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Between Loss and Glory

We are a crowd of observers.  We celebrate and remember in odd ways sometimes.

I have hurriedly dressed and gotten ready for this moment.  Almost as if I have lovingly prepared to go to a wedding or party.  I made sure to dress appropriately, style my hair in a complementary fashion.  I checked my appearance as I made my way out the door, Husband and little loves already out awaiting me.  I have seen to their attire as well.  Making sure all was in order...

The drive is quiet and I am thinking about the absurdity of it all.  The world outside is too busy to notice.  Traffic is like any other Friday afternoon.  Could they really be unaware of what is happening, even now?

We arrive and make our way inside.  Quiet.  Quiet.  This is how we approach the sanctuary.  No triumph, no victory, no joy...

What is it we are trying to do?  Is this how we try to grasp the awesomeness that is soon to be Sunday morning and it's Glorious Revelation?  To make it bigger, more meaningful, grander than what it will already be?

My mind is conflicted.  I don't know how to reconcile it all.  I take out a notepad and begin writing notes.  Is that ok?  Can I do that here?  

Here at a crucifixion...  

"I can't be sad!  I can't be sad!  I know what Sunday brings!!"
~One of my first scribblings...

I'm struggling to truly relate to what is happening here but my perspective is not one that is there, on that hill, watching my Savior die, without hope, without any true understanding of what is transpiring.  I have the blessed perspective of after.  Of knowing.  Of patiently awaiting Sunday morning.

I have been reading the Gospels, bouncing back and forth, rereading, making notes, reading yet again...attempting to find some grain, some tidbit, some small, tiny, microscopic, over-looked morsel that will satisfy this questioning.  This all leads to more questions.  

At first, I'm caught up in the Gospel of Luke.  Here I found a very interesting sentence that I had not noticed before:  ...and then He said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."  The meal to commemorate the bloodshed of the lamb that saved Israel's first born from death, eagerly desired to be shared by the Lamb whose blood would be shed so that I, a deserving sinner, would be saved from death.  About to suffer indescribably, yet eager to share His last meal with those He will die to save.

As we, assembled there, take part in our deathwatch, the lights grows darker.  With each passing Reflection observed, another flickering flame is extinguished.  As we continue to immerse ourselves in the painful recollection of what was humiliating and dehumanizing, we cannot seem to turn our eyes away.  No, in fact, we stare intently and try to make sense of it.  

Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

The final flame-snuffed out.  The hush.  The death knell tolls.  We make our way to the wooden structure.  Quietly.  Quietly.  I reach my hand out to feel the ruggedness of it.  The surface coarse and rough.  

"Thank You, thank You, Jesus."

I turn quickly and walk away.  I must go, must get out.   

"Now what?" I think as I burst through the doorway to the streaming brightness of the sun outside.

I don't know.  But it leads me to more questions.  

What did the disciples know of death?  Up to that point, what did they think was going on?  Even though they had lived with, learned from, and followed Him, they were still in the dark.  At least that is what I have come up with.  They didn't understand fully, and would not until His return and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.    They must have questioned every conversation.  Every word spoken from Him.  They had no hope.

And here is my trouble.  My Saturday, that day between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday is not like that first one.  My Saturday is filled with hope.  I know what Sunday brings.  How do I try to relate to the depth to which the disciples must have plummeted?  I can recall the times in my life, those times before Christ, the ones that were despairing, but that doesn't really compare.  

I propose my questions to others.  Someone who may have insight to something I have missed.  One such person has called the Saturday between an "indescribable gift", stating: (the) "Most important growth in our lives happens on Saturday-between loss and glory."

I think about this.  I think he is on to something.  This "gift"?  Yes.  I'll take it.  How many times will I get to observe this wonder?  I have the opportunity every year I am alive and following Christ, to partake in the joy that is the Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  While I do have the hope, knowing full well the outcome, I also have the presence of One who is there.  I can find the joy in the scourging, the degradation, the humiliation, the piercing, the wounding, the death that is the sacrifice of the Lamb.  The payment for my sin.  I find joy in it because I know that there will be nothing that will keep Him in the grave.  I take joy in the knowledge that they have done all they could and still, the grave could not hold Him.  Death could not keep Him.  My Savior has conquered the grave.

Saturday is the "wait for it, wait for it..." as my heart leaps in expectation.  As I find my excitement this eve before more intense than any other eve that precedes an amazing day.  The day where I can find no uncertainty because the battle is already won.    A day I find filled with anticipation and expectancy, knowing full well my God will come through.  A day to reflect on what the disciples may have thought or been burdened with.  A day to praise Him for what is coming, and to praise Him for the joy of redemption.  A day set aside for a time of important growth. 

A day when all things are made new.

A day pressed between the days of our greatest sorrow and our greatest joy.  

...But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Where's My "Yes" Anyway?

I was never completely sure I was supposed to go.

Not when I was first approached by Jade at Family Camp but immediately responded with a "yes, of course I would love to go!" answer.

Not when I began a conversation with Victor weeks later saying "you know, Jade has been talking about taking a team to Uganda..." and being met with his response: "Yes, I know.  You're going."

Not while sitting quietly at our first meeting, listening to all the others tell of how they had received specific "yes'" or "no's" in regard to the trip.

Not even when we were told we would be spending time with young women who have been rescued from trafficking and prostitution-a ministry dear to my heart.

And even though I already had a passport and insurance that would cover immunizations thereby saving me in terms of the amount of funds that would need to be raised, I still wasn't convinced.

I wasn't sure I was supposed to go as I was writing my support letter and trying to piece the words together to form some coherent request for prayer and funds.

The Sunday morning, two days before our entire amount of ticket money was due, as I sat, $750.00 short of my ticket cost, pleading desperately to the Lord for Him to reveal Himself to me, I felt no peace or confirmation.  I did, however, hear "Do not tell them you won't be going.  Trust Me, it's not Tuesday yet."

Five hours later, when a check for the very amount needed was given to me by a very unexpected source with the words:  Just consider this God saying '"Yes, you're going"...I was amazed and humbled.  But not convinced.

I continued to wonder...

...even after the ticket was paid for
...when I found myself funded literally to the dollar amount needed
...when everyone else was talking excitedly
...when I was receiving blessing upon blessing by way of written Scripture and encouragement
...knowing there were so many faithful praying people here supporting us
...when I was on the bus to the airport we loaded onto the plane
...holding the babies at the orphanage and praying over them
...when the girls from Kwagala Project welcomed us with great fanfare we shared nightly as a team
...worshiping with Ugandan believers at Watoto Church
...meeting Uthman and being able to hug him (although that was my personal highlight!!) I got to know the culture and become better acquainted with our Ugandan driver, Patrick
...after having returned home safely

There was even a moment a day or two after we arrived where I asked Jade, "What am I supposed to say when I get home?!  All of the these people will want to hear some wonderful story, and I don't have one!!"

Let me make it clear:  I wasn't doubting.  Somehow I "knew" even though I did not feel or hear a specific yes in the way I expected to receive it.

I simply did not recognize His faithfulness and provision as being the confirmation.

I see now how that confirmation came in the form of many other moments-faith steps- that when I looked back upon them as a whole quite audibly spoke yes to me.

The "yes" is visible in the changes I have undergone as a result of preparing for and taking this trip.

It is known by the simple response of "yes" to being changed.

The "yes" is the impact God continues to make on my heart as a result of this trip.

The "yes" is for the future, next, as-yet-planned trip.