December 30, 2013

Ever On

Beneath my left hand is a worn scrap of paper taped to the cold silver of my laptop. It has been there for almost a whole year now. The days have taken their toll, most certainly.

Trust. (not crust. Have some imagination. . .)

God asked me to work on trusting Him more this past year. O for grace to, I always say.  I have needed much Grace this year.  I feel a bit like this reminder--a little worn around the edges, a little misunderstood, but still there. I am still here. In these lingering days of 2013, the gratitude falls and gathers like the snow that drifts across the grey today. This year has been a year of Grace falling, and before I knew it, the ground was covered. I learned to watch it. Learned to taste and see each moment.

I wish I could say I did taste each moment for the gift it was, is. I failed in many ways. I got lost in the shadows of my selfishness--oh what a place that is. At first it seems so, well, fun! But it is a lonely place.

He found me, as always, hiding in the shadows, and drew me out. I shiver now with the humble beauty of this: the hidden patch of blue in the sky above, the golden sun glowing through snowy trees, the light flick of the Q-tip arrow my sister shot at me from beneath her flowing red cape, the familiar creak of our aged floors, the gentle pianic songs, the noiseless snow collisions as flakes meet ground.

I have regrets--regret is a curse we cannot break, I think. But "ever on go we."

Another word will be chosen for this year. But for now, what comes is a perpetual sunrise of thought: {My soul waits for the Lord more than watchman for the morning, more than watchman for the morning.} Psalm 130:6  That echo, that drifting thought that lingers on the mind that the measure of my year is not what I have done, but how much I need who He has been--

the One who Comes. . .

the One who Sees. . .

the One who Holds. . .

Him, in whom I--we--can trust.

December 25, 2013


Slowly growing,
steadily glowing,
silhouetting hills, 
trees, mountains.


They cried so long ago,
"Come, O Come!"
Their hearts as beggars',


Not as a star,
not weak or dim,
but as Sun,
steady, certain 


"“But there comes a light...a light of love…No mere candles waiting in the dark, but a dawn.”
Ann Voskamp

"The dawn of Redeeming Grace." That statement, slipping in a carol sung so oft, is perhaps my favorite line of any song. He comes like the dawn, steady and sure, glowing over the horizon. What would He come for?

Redemption. Making that which was wrong, right. Making that which was dirty, clean. Making that which was empty full. Making all who are weary, strong. Making all who are lonely, loved. Those who come to Him, or really, simply turn to Him. He has already come.

Grace. Undeserved. As my pastor said tonight, just before a thousand candles were held high in laud to the Redeemer of our souls, we cannot come to the story of Christmas without coming to the dilemma of our own helplessness. We are broken people. We don't like to hear it, I don't always like to hear it--but we are. I am. In humility, this is the most freeing diagnosis. People find relief in finally figuring out what is wrong after months of tests and doctor's visits, even if the diagnosis is bad. Why? So they know what can be done.

We are a broken people. Let it sink in, just how broken we are--no sin is greater than another to the Creator. That lie? Makes me as dirty as a murderer in God's eyes. What can be done, then? He comes. He sends Himself--His Son who is Himself in the mystery of the Trinity. Plans His birth carefully--made sure there were no rooms, no places of comfort. He planted Himself right in the messiest of places, and isn't it grand? To know He'll plant Himself in my messiest of places without hesitation.  'Tis a glorious imposition, which wrecks my life, but makes me whole. Ahh, where I would be but for Him: lonely places, indeed. But in that still moment, as my pastor spoke of His hand reaching through eternity, I felt the weight of it, the heaviness, the closeness of Him, reaching into time to soften this hard heart once more.

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts"
Hebrews 3:15

December 14, 2013

days of Grace

Many days are messy days.

I freak out sometimes. When all the emotions have built up, they just burst like a water balloon, drenching the poor bystanders: my friends. Usually for the most pathetic and ridiculous reasons. Like spilled milk. Or Coca Cola, whatever the case may be.

Yet for some reason my friends stay. They give me some space, but they do not leave. They are potraits of, and vessels for His Grace. Undeserved love that stays.

I find it more true each day, with each eruption of ugliness, volcanically spewing from my corroded heart, hardening all around me. He breaks through my igneous and gives me innocence. He soothes my burnt lungs with the water of His love. He cools my heated temper with His patience. 

I am a dragon. Like Eustace in Narnia, I need my dragonish ways painfully removed. But oh, when the scales fall away--then I can really live! Even in the cold winters of my heart, He is the hearth I draw near to, yet the hearth that draws me near. He thaws my frozen fingers, so I can hold the cold hands of others.

“I do not admire the term ‘progressive sanctification’, for it is unwarranted by Scripture. But it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace. And though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace — and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress.“ Charles Spurgeon

"Christianity isn’t about growing good — it’s about growing grace-filled." Ann Voskamp

So I grow, filled with grace. letting Him clear my crowded inn, to make room for the One who couldn't stop loving me.

December 10, 2013

Winter Returns

Winter returns; its stark contrasts and faint etchings reside comfortably on the landscape. 

It is late, and though my eyelids fall and rise laboriously, my mind pecks bird-like at the windows of my soul. Dreams are not rehearsed enough; they need more practice before my eyes become their audience. So my fingertips patter away in the dim light that lies almost harshly on my face and hands. 

I've been pondering snow, reading about snow, musing about winter, wondering about leaflessness. 

The woods were my refuge last week, one warm afternoon. I had missed the comfort of long, grey-brown torsos and arching, spreading arms. I stood beneath a tree for a moment, lifting my arms as he did. His gnarled, aged limbs somehow had more grace than my smooth, young ones. In the shadowy grey of winter, he held up his arms, unwavering, resilient. He had nothing--he was missing limbs, had lost his leaves. Yet still he held up empty hands, praising, trusting for spring. 

Perhaps the trees are wiser than we. 

"In the bleak midwinter..." there come small flickers of clarity, if only we will open our eyes. 

{I prefer winter and Fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape — the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.}
Andrew Wyeth

Winter pares us down, strips our finery, and reveals us truly. Winter is clarity, and yet winter is mystery. Its purposes are not ours to know, but are secrets scripted in ice and snow--languages that cannot be known.

"God's purposes are not for me to understand His plans. His plan is for me to understand who He is."
Ann Voskamp

May He find and warm our wintry souls,
in the bleakest of winters and drifted snow.