Monday, February 3, 2014

Voicemail and His Voice.

When I need to talk to You, I fall to my knees and can't wait a minute to open my heart to you. I'm usually desperate. And You bend Your ear to it, as if You couldn't tell the story far better Yourself. 

I was so excited to share something with a friend today. Aching, bursting. And after too many days of not calling, not enough reason to, suddenly today it killed me that her phone just hummed until the voice mail clicked on. The difference between words being left unsaid or not, is in the needing to speak them. 

Sometimes my needs are cumbersome and weighty, and sometimes, like today-- my need was a burning desire to share joy. Either end is a tipping of the mundane. 

How can I make my whole life a conversation-- with Him? For He is an unloading-the-dishwasher-type of Friend, but I feed Him with the pot-roast-dinners-talk, and we stay so one-type-conversationed. And I miss Him in all the other ways He is. He isn't mundane. But He makes my mundane not mundane either. Because He cares about it.

And He doesn't have to knock at my door, drink coffee, and talk for two hours to make me feel less lonely. He can whisper to my heart and do the work in a breath. He can do it over a pile of laundry. If I let my words need speaking. If He is what's urgent. Not me. Otherwise, I let words go unsaid.

But He says my whole life is a conversation. To Him.  
"casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
1 Peter 5:7  

Together in Grace,

Because He made my life, It's not about my life, but about my life with Him. About sharing it. And it's worth it to Him. It was worth dying for.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beautiful Scars.

His pain did not last forever. The moment the seal of darkness broke from the tomb, and death no longer held power within, without; He was healed. Yet the scars proved the wounds. His scars bear the only traces of our forgiven sin.

If His wounds were left open...if He lingered at death's door, God's healing work would have been incomplete. And His work was finished. The scars can hurt Him no more.

Usually it's my most painful wounds that scar. Or most shameful. Or most careless. And long before the wounds heal, they fester. 

There's Balm in Gilead. And when He heals, wounds become scars that prove the Healer and the scars, prove the healing work of His, and it's beautiful-- like scars over a pregnant womb. And when they no longer hurt, the healing is work is finished. And because His wounds healed, so can mine. That's what makes His scars so beautiful.

God could have healed Jesus while he was taken from the cross-- in the sight of all; could have healed Him on the first day. Yet He did heal Him on the third day. Quietly. It took patient waiting, and it was perfect timing. Christ placed His life and death in His Father's will.

Beautiful scars that were once wounds remind me of His love today. Just as His love reminds me that my wounds are what His scars stand for. 

And because we live in a world with jagged edges-- a Savior who binds wounds will always be what we need. 

And nothing will be more beautiful than His scars.

Together in grace, 

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I’ve stood in my garden as seasons changed—and waited for joy to come. 

And I felt cheated of it, like it was something I couldn’t simply spiritually mature into my garden. And plain old contentment seemed a poor-man’s-fruit when Christ offered the sweetness of genuine joy.

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

But for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross. The cross was not His joy. He looked ahead of the cross—to what was to be gained—His Father’s joy, the joy of our redemption, to our joy—and because of that, He counted the cross as a joy. And endured the cross. And despised its shame.

This present loss is not my joy. And it makes this burden of not feeling a certain way less weighty.  For these seasons of searching for joy have only amounted to looking in the wrong directions. Looking in my heart for some elation as proof it exists-- and isn’t just faked; looking for more than just a bud on the branch, more than just a passing glimpse of joy, and I finally found the problem-- that I’ve looked for my own joy, and not to His. 

Joy is set before me every time I ask, “How can I bring You joy?”
My day may still be hard. My heart may still hurt, but how can God be given the gift of joy that I cannot? And bringing Him joy sets my eyes on Joy itself, on the Eternal: on the Gardener, not the garden, on the Light, on the Living Water, on the One who restores my soul. And truly, I can count that all joy.
And those are the things that really tend a joy-fruit garden.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Our Beautiful Gardener exchanges the gifts of joy we lay at His feet with faith renewed in our hearts. We never leave His feet empty handed.

Together in Grace, 

Friday, January 24, 2014


Careful strokes of paint and fistfuls of play dough transform into little masterpieces at my table. And in these messy moments I realize that the most beautiful art is formable. Paint swirls loosely, pencils and pens can color into any limitless shape-- but the old crunchy pieces of play dough are unworkable.

Isaiah 64:8 
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.

I wonder what I am to Him—formable? Can He make something beautiful of my life? Or has my control hardened it? Is my heart stiff for His potter hands?

And when I cease to be teachable, I am a clay pot that must break. For I can no longer bend. 

I've been glued together enough times to know. I am a Wabi-Sabi, as the Japanese so name their imperfect pottery. But if my clay is soft, imperfect is in the eye of the Beholder.

The most beautiful art is formable. 

And the most Beautiful-- Him. He who has no beginning and no end, Whose Spirit hovers over the waters of the deep, Whose fingers paint with the stars, Whose blood turns black hearts to white--

He who formed man out of dust-- He who took on the form of man-- He who forms our ashen hearts to beauty-- He is what is most beautiful.   

And He takes time to make masterpieces.

Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but he who hates reproof is stupid.  

Together in Grace, 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Words from Him to Me.

Mixed in with a stack of junk mail and bills, a letter from my uncle arrived unexpectedly in reply to a Christmas card I'd sent. I sat down to pages of hand-written memories of a dad who he remembered as a brother, and friend. 

Strange how one person can be known-- and remembered in different ways. My longest memories of him were as sick, dying. Not the man he was in the pages I held. My memories of him were few compared a brother who'd grown up with him-- witnessed a whole life. 

I wonder that I'm not limited to a few hand-written memories of the God I know. I have a full, complete history. Eye-witness accounts, Autobiography. And if that isn't enough, we can each know Him intimately and share our experiences with one another, learning more of Him as we live in community.

I treasured the memories given to me, whitewashing them over a dad losing his strength-- to a man who was once strong and bested his big brother in lifting weights, and enjoyed doing it. 

But I treasure most of all that I hold more than one chapter of His book, more than one story of the Bible. I don't just know of Him dying. But of Him living. 
They aren't stories retold from man to man. They are words from Him to me. It is love that God hand-wrote His life for us line by line, so we could know Him. 

It is love that He wants to be known.

Romans 15:4
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Deuteronomy 29:29
The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Together in Grace,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

He Sang in My Lap.

Just a little song. The words were, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy..." 

And outside was a storm. And inside was a storm.

And that little song being sung in my lap sounded ever so much like His song, like Him quieting me with His love.

Zephaniah 3:17

17 The Lord your God is in your midst,
    a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
    he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.

And right then I needed that. To be reminded that He is singing over me always.


Together in Grace,

My Story has an Unfinished Ending.

My story has an unfinished ending, and parts of the plot, the thickest parts, are the hardest to leave hanging. I want to write the chapters myself, flip back pages: edit. I want to see what went wrong, and why. It’s so messy. And sad. I’ve cried over recent chapters behind closed doors more than anyone knows but Him, the Author. 

And that’s why the story is unfinished. Because it’s His story. And that I get to play a role in it, however hard, or bittersweet-- may it be for His glory. Because one day there will be a last page where the questions end, and His face answers every question, [cs Lewis]  and I desire that I will have played my part in His story well, a thread in His story which weaves into the great tapestry of His grace.

I don’t often talk about my story because it’s too personal. I don’t like to mention how much I love someone who doesn’t want to walk with God,-- who means the most of all to me. And it hasn’t always been so. It’s confusing to my children, and as much as I want to keep them from the pain of it, I see it pressing in a little more all the time. I keep this part of my life’s story held in tight to make it less real, but there are no advantages to living a lie, though the enemy gives me a long list of reasons otherwise. But this is my story. I don’t like to mention my struggle with seizures, and the medicine that makes me feel so slowed down that I have to work hard right now to just be me. I want to quit my medicine to lessen the side effects, to be a better mom…After all, I grew up with a sick parent, I don’t want to do that to my children, but that won’t really solve the problem. I get scared and frustrated because I can’t make it stop in my head. I don’t like to mention any of this, but it is my story. We just moved across country, my husband has a new job, we are starting from scratch. When we got here we had only a sofa and mattresses for furniture and knew no one. My husband travels and is gone a lot of the time, so the kids and I have had to be strong on our own. This is my story. Or at least this chapter. And why is any of it out loud? Because I’m not ashamed of it anymore. I didn’t do anything wrong to cause it as the enemy wanted me to believe for so long. It just is. And the Author of this story has a role for me to play, and He has strength enough for me to walk it out today, and when I turn the page, He’ll have strength enough for that page too.

I’ve faced great heart ache when judgment has preceded grace as others may have seen glimpses of my story. This Christ does not do. I’ve seen some view life as though their lack of trials was a result of their good behavior; therefore trials, mine or any ones were a result of sin. Here enters shame into my story. I don’t see evidence of God working this way. When He chooses us for different parts in His redemption story, it’s not based on our levels of goodness, or talent. We’re not casted on our behavior merit. He uses us as we are, and He uses what we are. He is the One who writes on our hearts. He created us. It is only by His grace my story is not yours, and your story is not mine, so how can we judge? Judging someone’s story is almost like shaming God for writing it. 

And when I dwell too long on these hurts caused by others it does the same thing too. It shames the pain written into the story, that He wove onto the pages, for endings beyond the chapters I hold in my hand.

The problem with both, is this puts us at the center of the story, not him, and He is the Story

We are deceived to think we control any part of this. What has happened, He’s allowed. Hearts hardened and softened-- He’s chosen. The timing-- He’s planned. It’s all part of His work prepared in advance, and work being carried out.  

It's not our doing that changes the plot. It's His doing.

Lying about someone’s story hurts almost as much. Hearing their pain, and offering a lie in return, like, “I know everything is going to be okay,” is counter scriptural. And trite. Only God knows how our stories end. Truth is surrendering the pen. Truth is being able to live with whatever He writes. Truth is not a false: “It’s going to be okay,” because no one knows that. Lying about someone’s story discredits it, and assumes they haven’t prayed and cried and bent down on their knees.

When I hear your story and attempt to compare it to my story, it doesn’t help you either. My endings are not your endings. And I need to remember that. And I need to listen, and not be so quick to tell you about the happy ending written in my story, because that may not be the end of yours. I may just need to hold your hand and walk with you. I may just need to remind you of the Great Author we share. And that’s why we share stories, to remember Him, not remember ourselves, and that sometimes is what gets mixed up in the telling.

Unfinished stories are at least all promised one thing: an ending. And unanswered questions are promised an answer. For today, may I be as Mary, ready to be a handmaiden of the Lord in whatever part of His story He asks me to play. 

And for today, may I be thankful that He is the Author, not me.

 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah55:9

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If we were to write…Fredrick Lehman says it best:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Together in Grace,