September 20, 2014

fade into a new glow

That is what it feels like--this blog fades, but into a new glow, of my new blog, Stones by the River.

I want you on this journey with me.

He has plans--small big ones, and I want to give you what I can, what He can give through me.

To give you encouragement, to give you empathy, to give you small reminders, because it is the small that add up greater than anything we see as great in our lives.

So art--my illustration & graphic design skills will be used for His glory, for your knowing His glory.  And my words, hopefully even better.

There has been self-doubt. There has been back-and-forth. There has been trying to measure the success of a blog, when I should have just been counting the ways He loves. I mean, there are hundreds of other blogs. Thousands. Maybe more. Why add to the clutter?

But I ignore my small-mindedness, and I step out on the faith He asks. He doesn't promise 100 readers, or even 50. He promises that if I follow Him, I will know Him, and He will finish the work begun.

Maybe this new blog will be used to fill small spaces in lives. Maybe I won't ever know--which is probably for the best.

Being a writer is hard--the self-doubt is monumental. But there is One I cannot doubt.

So join me? Walk a few minutes every other week or so beside me? Have tea, coffee, cocoa? I will bring art, my heart and words, won't you bring your eyes and soul?

September 12, 2014

I wasn't ready

10:46 pm, and I decided I wasn't ready. No five minutes of free-write and community for me.

I didn't think I would even do it. I will probably be among the last, and my blessed few will read it.

Everything is messy just now. Complications to finding work, friends bleeding hearts half out from a hundred miles away, Restlessness itching me from the inside. Transitions, transitions.

I won't be using this blog much anymore--I have decided to start a new one, because I am ready for something new. This was my first blog, my first brave, and I will be letting it go soon. I might still do my five minutes here, but even that is unknown just now.

I am ready for something different, something focused, yet more encompassing. I am calling it Stones by the River. It will be my space to mark the places where He has been in my life in the hopes that we might all see Him more clearly. I want to incorporate my other artistic skills--photography, lettering, drawing. Remnants was what I had time for when I had time for it. But He deserves more than my remnants, and I am ready now to give more.

I must decrease, I must, and this new blog will hopefully be a way for Him to increase.

I wasn't ready to post these words, wasn't ready to share this part of my journey, this risky venture into new, uncharted lands. But He was ready.

I wish I could give you, dear neighbor, something more profound, more interesting, more beautiful, but today this is all I have.

September 9, 2014

let us create

tonight I link up brave with Aliza Latta on her blog. Sharing hidden away writing that doesn't seem ready for the light of day. So here are two.

A restlessness
below my skin
beyond currents of blood
through tendons and muscles
and burrows in my bones
then deeper
to a place I cannot point to
or touch
or even explain
except that
I know it is
my soul.

This restlessness is 
that gurgles in the night
or a slow rising
of invisible wings
and the gentle lifting
of my chin to point
to that blue ceiling
speckled with collections of dandelion seeds
in preparation to take flight
when the wind sweeps a certain way.

But restlessness never uses
plain sorts of words
is never explicit or clear.
She is a haze that clouds
the places I rest
so that I am never certain
I am where I hoped I was.

She gives a depth to life
and reminds me the breadth of
widening eyes and
opening windows to let in fresh air.

She never speaks,
but looks out every window she passes
with a little bit of


The strings tremble,
shaking out
a tune.
and the songs
that are sung
by the
are perhaps
the most beautiful
of all.

September 6, 2014


He speaks between,
behind and before my own words,
turning them back to me,
as though writing is really like tossing a

I write,

then read those words
and remember in humility,
in rain from my light-catching eyes.

My words are crumbled bits of bread dropped,
small reminders
stone altars at river banks,
as though He is whispering

I was here.

September 4, 2014


Five-Minute-Friday: a chance to sit down and pen unfiltered, unedited, with community about one word. Share your story, won't you?I have been hanging out with these wonderful writers for a while, and it has been one of the most encouraging experiences of my life. So please, come sit with us awhile?

Just link up with Kate Motaung here and encourage the writer who posts before you--that is the best part!


Sometimes I don't listen very well. 

After the way Job's God-words have been walking behind me and throwing shadows across my path, you would think I would get the picture. But Job 26:14 is back for another round of unedited writing and community. 

It has been easy for me to feel down. There is a hold on my dreams of students and books tumbling around a classroom under my direction. Some days feel heavy with the weight of imagined judgement and my own disappointment. 

So I began the adventure of substitute teaching today.  I watched the sunrise spread all purple and pink and golden rays and lines flinging across a sky scaled with grey clouds, and the sun came up orange. That ocean wave of mist twirled up in the hollow in a perfect curl.``

All I have is what I need, this I know, Audrey Assad sang quietly. I felt peace then. I knew not that I would be blessed by the coming day.

He'd been whispering in my lonely, tear-flecked moments "My ways, you cannot know." Whispers of His goodness to come, outskirts of ways, incomprehensible thunder, hemming in behind and before, searching out paths. 

I could talk about my day for quite a ramble. But I will just say this: I couldn't stop smiling on the drive home. 

Grace spilling into smiles, and hope rising like a second dawn, slow and misty.

August 28, 2014


Five-Minute-Friday: a chance to sit down and pen unfiltered, unedited, with community about one word. Share your story, won't you?
I have been hanging out with these wonderful writers for a while, and it has been one of the most encouraging experiences of my life. So please, come sit with us awhile?

Just link up with Kate Motaung here and encourage the writer who posts before you--that is the best part!


There wasn't even a word yet, and I was writing. Because I needed to. Because the writing awakens wonder.

Sometimes I don't live like I believe Psalm 139. "You hem me in, behind and before," "I am fearfully and wonderfully made," "in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me," "I awake, and I am still with you," "for darkness is as light with you."

Darkness is light in the eyes of the Creator. No darkness His sight cannot reach, and not just a reach that grazes with shaking fingertips, but a deep reach.

His eyes see what ours cannot—but our soul-eyes gaze, as Tozer writes, and this is faith, the things unseen. And yet all that darkness, all that not-so-simple dark as Luci Shaw says, “swims with complications” subtleties that He knows. How does God see? Does He have eyes? Or does He sense as Aunt Beast does, things beyond those who see can sense? (A Wrinkle In Time)

And how can I forget this? This wonder—not at the world or sunsets or winging birds, but at the Spirit hovering over the waters, and maybe that is why the wind across the lake fills lungs like no other, for He swept across the waters and breathed life into lungs and veins and minds and the wonder of Him sweeps over again, each breath a whisper of His name, and a remembrance of that first Adam-breath.

And remembering the last breath as He gave up to give us breath beyond this worldly air.

And these, Job reminds, are but whispers we hear of Him, the outskirts of ways reaching far beyond what eyes and minds can sense. A God we cannot overestimate. He knows “when I sit down and when I rise up,” knows “my thoughts from afar,” is “acquainted with all my ways.” Oh, to marvel that He knows.

August 27, 2014

letting go

This has been the song that echoes my heart. That whispered soft "I understand" when I neededwell, need it. Only He could orchestrate such a collision of music and soul. So please let the notes find routes to your heart and know that you are not alone.  Letting Go by Paul Cardall  
The ache, soft sometimes, that comes with the slow uncurling of fingers. 

The rhythmic release, repeated slowly, gently, rocking back and forth in a quiet tug-of-war. 

Thoughts of what is lost, sway forward to thoughts of what could be discovered. 

Remembering Who it is that loves first. 

Then stillness, surrender, and slow relinquishing of control, of dreams, of all that lay in sweating palms. 

Freedom follows. 

A smile curls on face, corners of mouth lifted by joy. 

August 21, 2014

noticing change

Five-Minute-Friday: a chance to sit down and pen unfiltered, unedited, with community about one word. Share your story, won't you?

Five Minute Friday - 4I have been hanging out with these wonderful writers for a while, and it has been one of the most encouraging experiences of my life. So please, come sit with us awhile?

Just link up with Kate Motaung here and encourage the writer who posts before you--that is the best part!

Today's word: CHANGE

I look in the mirror and wonder a bit. Could that be me? Staring out placidly from those hazel eyes?

I don't look different. But then, I don't look in the mirror as much these days. I have been too busy looking in other directions.

It sure is me, in that reflective world. Makes me ponder, reflect. What has changed? Why do I feel so different? Something is missing. It is not gone completely. But it is smaller--something in the way I breathe and the words I speak. Not explicit, but an undercurrent of something filling in.

I run my thoughts over heart-scars and they tell me what I have happily lost--fear. And what fills? Him. And His courage.

My circumstances have not changed. I still don't have a job. And it looks right now as though I will be substitute teaching this fall. Something I used to look down on. Something I used to fear. All of my friends who just graduated with me have jobs--teaching and in other fields. And I find I am to wait. But I am not afraid.

This small place is much larger when you look closely, count details and see opportunities in humble places. And as much as it hurts, as disappointing as it is, and even though I grieve my dream, I am excited.

There are so many small ways to serve here, and if this is where He has me, this is where I will bloom. I will have time for people and writing and art and music. Time to prepare myself better for future students. Time to grow.

Only He could be such peace.

August 14, 2014

how to tell

Five Minute Friday - 4Five-Minute-Friday: a chance to sit down and pen unfiltered, unedited with community about one word. Share your story, won't you?

I have been hanging out with these wonderful writers for a while, and it has been one of the most encouraging experiences of my life. So please, come sit with us awhile?

Just link up with Kate Motaung here and encourage the writer who posts before you--that is the best part!

Today's word: TELL

Sometimes I don't know how. 

How to let the words spill unfiltered--how to release the fear that dams my thoughts, my feelings, my self. I sat in a cold room and tried to express how much I love teaching, and the words came out all wrong.

I sit here wishing I could express my frustration with people I cherish. Speak my affection for people I love. 

But sometimes words just don't work quite right. This word is too long, too many hard sounds--that one is too short, not enough vowels. The emotions wear the words like an ill-fitting dress that bags where it shouldn't and squeezes everywhere else. 

Maybe we can't always tell our hearts with words. Maybe we were given eyes and hands and tears and laughter by the One who weeps and laughs with us because they can speak where the words don't fit. Perhaps there are pauses and spaces in conversation on purpose, to make room for all that words cannot do. 

I adore words, but I cannot help but admit their humility. Is not silence more eloquent for the contrast of wonderful words? We were given both. We need both. 

There are so many ways to tell people about the Love that casts out fear. Let Him show us. 

"When God will not use thee in one kind, yet He will in another. A soul that desires to serve and honour Him shall never want opportunity to do it; nor must thou so limit the Holy One of Israel as to think He hath but one way in which He can glorify Himself by thee. He can do it by thy silence as well as by thy preaching; thy laying aside as well as thy continuance in thy work." Mr. Oldfield's Soliloquy, North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell

August 10, 2014


My thanks to Luke Mathys for the "earthy" metaphor describing God's love, and his lending of the idea to me.

His love is
yet unearthly.
And deep within it
I am pressed and planted,
a tiny seed,
feeling a little lost in the thick of it,
startled by the vastness
reaching softly round the globe—
immensity unable to be held or contained in frail
clay pots that break like
idols’ feet.

It is here that I wince as
my outer walls break open—
an awakening eye—and something
reaches up,
part of me I had never
known or seen or hoped for.

Waking is an ache
can I keep my eyes open?
Face the bruises and jabs from thorns,
sticks and stony hearts? Face darkness?

But here He slows me
to a pace—a place—
where I can feel textures,
lean into loam, and know,
He is closer than all that dark.

He readies me to bloom.

August 7, 2014


Running on empty,
as they say,
wondering how to get through the day.
trying not to break
when I think of what
I do not have--all 
the things I crave, and never get.

But maybe I need broken,
a crack to let the light in,
the love in;
and be filled.

We seal ourselves
up so tightly,
so that our hearts don't bleed out
and our souls don't fall.
But we aren't plastic bags
or tightened mason jars,
but cupped hands,
that hold what is given, 
and let the rest slip through 
with gratitude.

Release what is not to keep,
and receive what is blessed.

This is how we fill.

August 4, 2014

of dreams and the future

This was first penned to a dear friend whose blog you should definitely check out. It was as much for her and I as it is for you--I had it in the back of my mind that it might make its way here. After a refreshing weekend on one of my favorite humble plots of land (Camp Union) I am home and seeing with new eyes, learning that "the secret to joy is to keep seeking God where we doubt He is." (Ann Voskamp)

I walk on remembering that you know this place. I trudge through the uncertainty, the flailing arms and flinging questions that sit on my shoulders and whisper to my mind: Why does it seem that no one wants to hire me? Why does it feel as though all the work, the care, the dedication, the love of it cannot be translated through the iceberg with writing we call a resume, hardly anything worth resuming. What part of my flat, paper self  falls thin to the other papers that are not even papers but electronic files, just lines and lines of code—and who can find soul in words that cannot be poems?

But you know this place, this path of that dreaded word that smacks us in the line of the grocery store when we cannot bear to think the person in front of us might dig another coupon out of her carpet bag with the bird-handled umbrella sticking out of it. That p-word that demands of us what we are too angry, too hurt, too scared to give because we wonder if calm means we don’t care? Patience. There, I said it. You’ve known the path that requires that precious commodity found only in choice.

You’ve had to wait.

And in my fluttering honesty, you had to wait longer. I think you still are. For those dreams, and I have waited, what, two months? And already I’m fidgeting because impatience is an uncomfortable position in a hard chair that aches your bones and cricks your neck.

I remember trying to find the words to say trying to grasp the difficulty of walking without certainty. Of being encouraged by your certainty in the one thing we both know is a firm place to found a life.


I remember them because you said them, and I echoed them back to help you remember them, these electrifying promises.  For our good. Friend, for our good. That is what He said, and we both know our good is not the smooth slope, because smooth seas and skilled sailors and all that stuff they say. It is the narrow valleys, steep cliffs and tear-stained nights that do the difficult, sometimes painful work of making us whole.

That tearing off of darkness to make way, make room for dawn.

July 31, 2014


begin--Five Minute Friday

Well, it seems I don't know where to begin. Yet I know I am at a beginning. The truth of it, the promise lingers below my language, below my awareness sometimes. I am standing on the edge of a beginning. He is standing beside me, holding my hand, reminding me to stop squirming, to stop straining my eyes trying to see where we are going.

Endings are always beginnings.

I ended college, and summer slipped her restful evenings into my lap like a good book. But not before worry planted weeds in my mind, cluttering up the wildflower thoughts He grows for my good. So I tend to my mind, weed out thoughts that don't belong, and pray that whether rain (a job) comes or not, the garden will grow.

Maybe there are bigger plans. Maybe there are smaller plans for bigger good. But I am learning patience, choosing trust, living uncertainty, finding joy. Beginnings seem muddled to the ones who are in them. But peace does is not dependent on or provided by my understanding.

Peace is Him.

And if peace is Him, and He is with us, we cannot fear to begin.

July 25, 2014


Five-Minute-Friday: Finish

Finish--I think of the finishes my mom coats on her art, the finish she puts on to echo age, a brown varnish, a walnut dye. And I think of how He is finishing me.

I wait here, watching the opportunities fall to those I love--jobs, interviews, fellowships. And I wait. Still being touched up, while He is painting that patience and trust, finely adding shadows, that small flower in the corner, that little stroke of courage.

But this work in progress is learning to enjoy the process, this leg of the journey that moves so slow. Waiting for the finish of this part of the story, this summer of struggling to find myself in Him. But here in this shallow valley, there is inspiration. There are words that flow unchecked, marking white pages and typing patterns and being written alive by His story. There is painting and the careful mix of colors, the smooth strokes of love for the canvas that create something humble-beautiful. Even the carving of wood--hard cuts, frustrating grains that run the wrong way, a bird growing from what was once tree.

So as He puts the final touches on this chapter, adds a finish to make me shine, I find something more encouraging and life-altering than a job or a published book: Him.

July 23, 2014


We print it
on our coffee mugs,
tattoo it
to our skin,
slather it
on social media,
but do we really believe it?

Does it sear into our very souls?

Does it burrow in our bones?

Does it soak into our skin
like a watering rain
down in the deepest roots
of the oak
that stretch into the dark soil?

I want that.
I want it to be the
and blood that paces
in ceaseless rhythms around
the hollow tunnels of my heart.

I want the truth
to be more

than tarnish.

"I think it is virtually impossible to honestly say that knowing God, as God intends to be known by his people in the new covenant, simply means mental awareness or understanding or acquaintance with God. Not in a million years is that what “knowing God” means here...You can know about God by research; but until the researcher is ravished by what he sees, he doesn't know God for who He really is." John Piper

July 17, 2014


Five Minute Friday: Bloom

It seems so perfect, so planned by a great Orchestrater. I spent time with the flowers today. Smelled them. Arranged some in a vase to replace the sagging, wilting crew dropping pollen and petals on the table. A fresh bouquet so that mom will feel a little loved when she gets home. To remind me to go outside and let the flowers bump my shins and thighs and nose when I get too close.

To remind me to live. To remind me that this state of limbo, between college and (hopefully) finding a job is not a conveyor belt taking me to the next place. No, wherever we are put can either be a garden or a pit of dirt.

I've been digging, taking off the sod, preparing the ground for a patio. It really doesn't look nice, that rectangle of dirt littered with hacked grass and an annoying abundance of small rocks. That stretch of dirt will be something else soon, but right now it is ugly and barren.

I want to be a garden. "Bloom where you are planted," people always say. Yeah, that's something people get right, at least in the head. Even if you are in a tiny, plastic pot instead of a gorgeously landscaped raised bed with stepping stones and sun--bloom.

I am learning to make each day count in small ways--a kind note, an encouraging text, praying for and thinking about friends in hard places and good, showing kindness instead of retaliation, patience instead of frustration. It is hard work--gardens usually are. But He has the greenest thumb to ever exist.

July 12, 2014


The words flow, and I speak to myself, write pictures of what I need to hear. But the poem bursts, and blossoms, and though humble, perhaps in need of more tinkering, I tremble and lay it in your hands.

Perhaps you need these words, too.

There is a darkness ahead
that eludes my endless scrutiny.

The future is in black white,
and we are painters,
stroking with the colors we choose.
But we can only paint
This moment is our canvas—
woven and gesso-ed,
and we can paint
as many blockades,
as many closed doors and blinded windows,
with as many shades of dark
as we please,
but only the Master painter
can paint the open ways.
He will paint our paths,
and we may recount the susans,
black-eyed and cheerful
in sunny shades of gold,
or sage trees stretching praise,
and even paint our own lips
in the midst of
Or we can paint the rocks in the road,
cast grey over sky and perpetuate
our own kind of rain.
As frantically as I try,
I cannot paint the curved road straight.
I swerve in haste
and end in crippling decay.
So I learn in challenging, small strokes
to paint flowers
and sunsets and the beauty
of dying trees, fallen down barns
of storms that rage,
and the gentle hush they leave behind.
To paint that which does not
strive to be beautiful,
but is good,
sometimes hard, uphill good.
To paint without words
my thanks
and my joy—my life.

There is a brightness ahead
that eludes my momentary scrutiny.

"The cynics, they can only speak of the dark, of the obvious, and this is not hard. For all it’s supposed sophistication, it’s cynicism that’s simplistic. In a fallen world, how profound is it to see what’s broken?" 
Ann Voskamp

July 10, 2014


Five Minute Friday: Belong

I miss it already. The slight curve of the rows of soybeans that rose and fell faintly toward the tall stand of woods. I miss it because of what was behind me as I stood watching the sun rise through hovering mists. Behind me was a place I had been petrified to go to, because a lot of past hurt dwelt in my heart. I was used to being the outlier, the one who stood a little away because most people just tolerated me and weren't sold on the idea of being my friend.

But somehow, I ended up at camp.

It was all in the small things, really. Small kindnesses of negligent importance. A small golden bear full of honey brought just for my tea. The hugs that were scattered across days. Spontaneous side-comments of honesty.

I thought I was too introverted to be a camp counselor, too shy, too weird, too nerdy, too un-athletic.

But when God is at the center, everyone belongs. Because when you belong to Him, you belong where He is. And on that small plot of land, He was in charge, and with every breeze through the wide windows of the tabernacle I knew--I belonged.

Where God calls is where I belong. "You must run the risk of fearlessly loving without running away." (Jason Gray) When I did that? When I loved with all I had? When I went where He called? I belonged. And the people around me did, too.

July 3, 2014

pennings from the plot of land

These are a few of the poems I penned at camp. I cannot claim them to be brilliant, but they are mine, because they were His, and so I present them as the gift they were to me. May they bless you in small ways.

Also, none of them have titles. I just haven't gotten there yet.

I am an emptiness,
a hollow shell
that echoes all I pass
and all I crash into.

I was
until I found

the ocean.

Soul trembles
like aching muscles
that strain
to hold fast
to the rocky places.
No strength to
go higher
only to put off the fall.

But we’ve already

The sun melts
into gold
that runs into tiny
cracks in the rock—
in myself—
I didn’t know existed.
There is light in my veins
and hope rises,
a pale moon,
as though shadows were silver.
The trembling
has not ceased,
nor the task made easier,
only possible.

A thousand
tiny blades of grass
            and I am counted
                 more than a

June 29, 2014

a small plot of land

A fragment of colors hung like a promise in the sky above the tidy rows of beans and corn, above the distant congregation of shadowy trees.

That my two weeks as a camp counselor at Camp Union would end with such a promise, an echo of Noah, is an inexpressible assurance. I cannot describe what He was promising, for I do not understand it yet. I don't need to understand, only trust.  And maybe it was to remind me of promises He already gave--Daniel 10:19, Philippians 1:6, Isaiah 30:15

On that small plot of land speckled with white structures, framed by fields that flood between patches of shadowy trees He flooded me. I could not manage it all on my own--kids were everywhere, and I snatched solitude like sneezes--unexpectedly and quickly. My patchwork of days was stitched together by learning most of all that I need Him--every hour every moment. 

I learned about pride and about how much of it I have. It took days for me to finally admit to myself and to my dear friend who brought me to camp that he was right--I did fit in, I did belong there. I had given up on belonging in youth-church settings, there had been so many failed attempts to find a place that felt like a home. Too much hurt to open up. Too much pride to admit that I was comfortable living on the fringes of places. 

I learned about love and how much of it He has. I spoke at campfire to some jr. high campers words that I had not planned nor knew until I had stood to loose them. I spoke about how we can never live out the love of God if we don't rely on Him to give it to us. A funnel cannot hold water, but when it is being used it is never empty. The Israelites could not keep manna, but they could receive it every day. We cannot hoard the love of God, but let it pour through and we will never feel empty. 

I learned about people, and how beautiful they are. I could have sobbed both Saturdays when the souls I had known for a week stumbled away like little pack mules with pillows and bags. Some hurting, some joyful, some broken, some mending, some numb, some afraid. I did not want to leave them.

I learned about the humble, and how He delights to use them. For camp has no draw--no fancy logo, no zip lines, no pool, no log cabins, no attraction to the worldly eye. But His eyes watch over, and He moves in strokes that paint what could not be illustrated by human hands. 

So I looked to see what He would paint in me and what He would paint with me. And I found that I had little faith about so many things. Perhaps I had struggled to believe His promises because I was looking not to Him but to other places for assurance. "Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God." A.W. Tozer. And I came back to my One Word 365: Christ. "My dear friends, look to Christ. There die all our selfish aspirations." Alistair Begg. And our fears. And our pride. 

There may be more posts in the future about camp--perhaps more specific, perhaps some of the poems I wrote while I was at camp. I could fill a small book with thoughts and stories from my two weeks. Maybe I will. I end with this, however:

"Father, help us to give up our self-reliance...lest we live on the fringes of faith without ever being embraced by Your love." Alistair Begg.

June 13, 2014


Five Minute FridayMESSENGER

He is never late. So this Five-Minute-Friday was right on time. Lisa-Jo's words spoke right to where I am in various ways, not just about writing (thought definitely that, too), but living. My sisters and my mom and I were just talking about the silence I am shrouded by when it comes to job interviews. Friends on facebook, friends I text, they are all loud and excited about the multitude of calls and chances they have been getting. I am surprised at how genuinely happy I am for them--how I do not covet theirs, but simply wish for my own so I don't feel so...inadequate. Is my application so forgettable? Am I marketable?

There have been guesses made to what this silence was for--some may be right, some may not. "All that quiet you’re uncomfortably comfortable with whispers, “rest” and maybe you actually need one, still you wonder and worry and wake up feeling a slow undercurrent of sad that you don’t quite understand." Lisa-Jo said.

"It may feel quiet, and we possibly even feel forgotten, but God is moving to work out His plans all around us. What is our part? Trust." A Pinterest quote highlighted in pink just after Lisa-Jo. 

And maybe I am finally getting it, because I read this today: "Do what scares you today." And I promptly forgot about it. Then I looked fear in his shallow eyes and did something, began something that scares me, scares me a good deal. And I come to this night of a beautiful full moon gleaming over the trees and I talk with a faraway friend and I don't know what my right hand is doing until it is done. 

He knows and is moving to work and I am learning to rest. Learning. Thank you, Lisa-Jo, for being my messenger, for releasing words not your to hold, but His to move. 

June 5, 2014


Five Minute Friday HANDS

I don't know why, but this one has been tough.

Maybe it is the toughness in me, the stubbornness that refuses to simply leave in His hands what I never held. Never could hold. Clinging to my future is like holding a piece of air. It is unseen and impossible.

"Just leave it in the hands of the Jesus," Brandon Heath sings quietly to me. "If we're gonna pray about it, there's no use worrying. If we're gonna worry about it, why are we praying?"

I don't know Brandon. Maybe it is the familiarity of worry. Because the hands of Worry always give back what we handed them. But what a jumbled mess that is.

The hands of the Healer hand us the dreams we don't deserve. He takes our small-minded ideas, our faint hopes, our blind wishes, and surprises us with things more beautiful; a re-crafting, recreating of our dim dreams.

It takes courage to leave our hopes in His hands. Sometimes that means we'll never see them again. Which is only good news if we can be brave enough to see it. To see Him.

June 2, 2014


Home is my center.

The rhythms of my doings
those syncopated measures
are not drowned out,
overrun by rushed triplets
in cut time--if that is musically possible.
I am no fine musician,
I do not practice
my old flute, or my pitchy tin whistle
or the flailing vocal chords
that blaze out my open car window.

But I practice another song.
The song of thanksgiving,
a sweet melody heard in calm,
'midst rest and quieted spirits.

I practice, too, the song
of trust. That melody
is tough.
Not difficult to do,
but difficult to choose.
It is not always cheerful--
it is far from being safe.

This poem isn't shining,
no brilliant metaphors.
It's simple,
to my rhythm that
often changes course.

But here at my sweet center,
the measure of my living
is clear, like water from a spring,
that blessed Well of Life.
I find my space and tree-friends
and then I am free to still
and listen to the echoes
of His promises,
as He loves away
my fear.

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

May 30, 2014


Five Minute Friday
Five-Minute-Friday: Nothing

I throw the word nothing around probably as often as I throw around the word love, both of which are habits I would like to weed from the section of my vocabulary garden labeled "words I use often."

It would be extremely easy for me to say that I have nothing. But it would be wrong. Having just graduated from college, I have no job prospects. Literally, none. I got two rejection notices yesterday, and brushed them off into a filling basket of "things I don't trust God with." I have no steady summer job--just a compilation of odd jobs and some graduation/birthday money to live off for the summer. I live at home with my parents and sisters. I am not really "making it" as they say.

Again, it would be easy to say I have nothing.

But yesterday, I went over and helped a friend hang her cool maps and arranged her mantelpiece while her adorable daughter gave us laughter and joy. It meant a lot to my friend that my sister and I would come over, and it meant a lot to me that she would have us and feed us and make us tea. Today I went kayaking. Except my sister and I, after struggling to find the straps, wrestling with one of the kayak racks, driving forty-five minutes out to one lake, whose parking lot was blocked by construction, then driving another half an hour with detours and confusion to a lake whose parking lot was filled with random people (who were't even kayaking, gah!) simply drove for two hours and then went home. Sounds like we did nothing. But we sang at the top of our lungs, drove slow through gently curving fields, sunlit woods and on winding back roads we'd never been on before. It was anything but nothing, and even though we didn't even get to the water, we had laughs, and a great story to tell when we returned.

He makes beauty out of nothing. He makes the unexpected out of everything we dismiss as nothing but really can be gift. So look out--you might not go kayaking, but maybe you'll get something just a beautiful, maybe more so. I don't have a job, but I have life, a life I can live now.

May 22, 2014


Five Minute Friday CLOSE

"Wherever we are, God is here...Ten million intelligences standing at as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here..." A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

He goes on to talk about how we are unaware of His presence, though "where can I go from your Spirit?" (Psalm 139). Manifestation of presence, awareness of Him follows obedience, Tozer tells us. I agree.

My distance is really a numbness caused by my own sin. Surrender of pride, repentance of sin, these are the ways to erase that imaginary distance.

Isaiah 30:15 tumbled into my lap last week:

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning(repentence) and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

I need to lean in close, lean in quiet, lean in humble. 
Because I need Him close. 
Ever so much.

May 14, 2014

college senior ponderings

With an exhausted sigh that tastes of denial, I breathe slower--the finals, the classes, the four years behind me.

This end feels like a beginning and a middle and it is and it isn't. A college collage of ripped papers and crafted dreams and shining hopes and already fading memories. My eyes are wells sometimes and I don't always know quite how to feel.

I wrote a speech for graduation--I didn't get chosen, which was honestly more of a relief than a disappointment. And perhaps it was meant to be prose on a page; it seems better in black and white than in vocal chords. These are parts pieced together with my own thoughts that float like Monet's water lilies to the surface.

We began in autumn, the leaves burning like brilliant fires, do you remember? We conclude now in our own autumn, and we are the leaves, burning brilliant, ready to be released into the winds of the world.  If you listen closely to the rustling of robes and whispers like leaves, you’ll be able to tell. We have grown, and are readily not ready for the impending seasons of this life. For who is ever ready for what is to come? 

So many days, so many ordinary moments. If we look closely, they were the truest stuff of this journey, the seemingly small decisions that have brought us to this ending. And the people--they were perhaps the most important part. My friends are not celebrities, but I have had the privilege to know them, a privilege I count more valuable than knowing all the famous and rich in the world. 

I am so grateful for these people, these years. 

I was not always grateful—grey days come to our lives as easily as they come to Ohio. We plodded through the rain, the snow, and maybe, just maybe those grey days were the most important days, those days forgotten but as real as this day. Why? Because we walked on. If you sit here, you pushed through difficult assignments, hard life decisions, maybe illness, fatigue, mysterious motivation crises, and a hundred other shadows. Those days lie to us, and we were almost convinced that this day would never come.

It is the small steps that take us to the future as we keep lifting and dropping our feet to the ground that spreads ahead like a massive world. Lifting and dropping, never giving up. 

These are not all my thoughts on this time. Not even a fraction. But these are the simple thoughts that are those water lilies on the surface of my mind the night I finished my last final of undergraduate college. 

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind,” commented C.S. Lewis. Perhaps a bit hard to believe this at the moment. But I think it is so. 

A final thought: God has been faithful through each grey day, and I never would have made it without Him.

May 12, 2014


There was this rain in the night:
big, splashing drops on the sill,
small, silent drops on the sheets.
There was this arc of gold at dawn
light and hope mingling with friends
the green leaves still fresh.
There was this Love pervading,
a current below the bittersweetness
of having to say goodbye,
of "the end" and trembling curtains
falling shut.
There was this gratitude,
this list of a day just begun
that He used to save her.

thunderstorms, sunrises, hard goodbyes, new beginnings, green and grey, no greater Love.

Linking up with Ann Voskamp for Multitudes on Mondays

May 8, 2014

thanks and many thanks

Five Minute Friday
Five Minute Friday: Grateful

So I have listed for coming almost eleven months. Numbered, noticed, nudging my eyelids wide to what He does. It has not always been easy--my eyelids droop, vision dims, pen drops.

But today I am grateful for:

~the remnants of the sunset--strange blues and purples feathered and glowing in the drowsy day.
~half-hearted trust in His provision that received more than deserved
~this community of people--mostly moms it seems so often, that welcome even a funny college girl who types and reads and has a heart for those who are so brave and honest in the challenging life of motherhood
~spontaneous adventures with friends
~the best college job a girl with a creative flair could have asked for--one that helped her develop skills that might have gone unnoticed and neglected otherwise
~the gentle whirring of the fan
~His holding of me when I was too scared or tired to notice or care, and how I see so clearly that it has saved me
~lilacs in bloom

May 2, 2014


Five Minute Friday: MESS

I wonder if I will ever find time to clean my room.

College life is great--except for the part when for four years I have lived "home" in a single room--my bed a couch, dining room table, homework spot, and, oh yeah, a bed. Also, I have what I call flat-surface syndrome. It means that flat spaces magnetically (magically) attract stuff. Lots of stuff. But despite the mess, my dear friend came over last night to spend some time with me. I invited her into the mess and she came without hesitation.

I wonder if I will ever have a clean heart.

It seems that I tend to make a mess of things in my life--especially when it comes to my heart. I send it through blenders, shredders, compactors. Yet somehow, He comes in and works it slowly, that clay, spinning it, smoothing it, sometimes digging out debris. He never asked me to come to Him cleaned--because my standard of cleanliness is dirt compared to His righteousness and goodness.

I am learning ever more that my messes are the places He draws near to us through. "Thin places" Ann Voskamp called them--the places when our mess strips us of the pride that keeps Him at bay. The places He wants us to experience healing.

Facing messes is hard. But the more I face them, the more faithful I know Him to be.

April 25, 2014

a dearer name

Five Minute FridayFriend

"Is there a dearer name than friend?" asked Abigail Adams.

I love that, but another question pecks at the door of my mind there a harder name than friend?

Maybe I've just always been shy. Maybe I have always been afraid. Maybe I learned to be afraid. Maybe both. Trusting is not easy for me. True, utter friendship runs deep for me.

But I write and I find courage in Him and He sends the people who change me for the best and hold me in the worst. These people:

The one who pens and shares soul by hitting "sent". The one who refuses to let me hide. The ones who make me laugh--at myself, usually, which is needed. The one who spoke first, who walks to my house in winter. The one whose feet were not made for marching, but whose heart was made for encouraging. The one who is who she is, who loves her daughter and loves people. The one who is nothing like yet so much the same as me. The one who shared pain and honesty. The one who went to Jamaica with me. The one who told me I was beautiful. The one who makes scones and tea with me while watching Sherlock. And the ones whom I love.

The One who

He knows what I need, and safe isn't really safe. Love isn't safe and neither is He and neither are they. Today I am grateful for friends.

April 23, 2014


“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19  

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:19-25


The word weaves around my heart with the Word the way the wind plays with my hair. Even so, it just occurred to me that, yes, of course! We are in the season of new, of re-new-al. Spring, which comes in low rumbles, between buckets of rain and sunshine, the growing pains of the year.

A recovering from winter. Being again covered in joy, letting grief slip away over the waters once ice now weaving steadily threads of life and abundance, shining with gloriously piercing pieces of sunlight, the way lake-ice cannot reflect. The threads spill over the dam and pull time along and I must let that one crinkled beech leaf sail bobbingly away down the tiny stream to its future and turn to mine. 

The old ways of fear must die--the fears that strike in winter, when we are cold and lonely, hiding inside. Relinquish the white-knuckled grip on the threads of time, of life, that will only leave painful, rope-burns as they pull away. 

When we hold our lives tight, we really only strangle ourselves, push our seedlings back into the dark ground, overshadowing, hiding the light. Let spring come. Let Him come near. 

I speak to myself, mostly. Draw near, for He is faithful. Don't neglect meeting together--stop hiding. Encourage. He will make a way. Trust. 

I pray for everyday Spring: to be remade, renewed, restored, redeemed.
For I need it. 

But I trust in You, O Lord; 
     I say, "You are my God,"
my times are in Your hand.
Psalm 31:14

April 17, 2014


Five Minute Friday: Glue
Five Minute Friday

so much broken.
so much torn.
we're a shredded collage
that tries to restore

aching for peace,
the ache almost
that cracks
the soul ruthlessly;
almost as much
as the sin does.

elmer's won't do--
it'll dry up,
like even the best
of friends.

the only glue
that will do
is not manufactured.

the only glue
is Ghost,
the One who seeps in
than any krazy

the only glue
is Gethsemane-pray-er,
the one who sweat blood,
who took
the cracking sins
and cracked.

the only glue
is God,
who restored,
no collage of wrappings,
no seams,
just scars.

April 11, 2014


Five Minute Friday: paint

There are many paintings I could speak on, the lovely lakes, the mellow mountains, the fantastical field.

But they are not my best paintings. Not because they are not good, but because there is a truer painting.

I remember mixing the colors. Black, mostly black, with streaks of darkened green, shadowed blue, burned red, polluted purple. I remember each color was a confession, a type of grief over my shame and guilt, and I painted and the confession was more than the words I spoke. That painting is of my broken heart. My brokenness.

But there, in the ocean of chaos, shadows and darkness is a small island dimly lit by a bright little lantern.

The lantern is Him, patiently standing in the midst of all the ugliness of who I am, shedding light, burning slowly away the edges of the darkness.

Only He can do it. I am glad He decided to plant His little lantern in me.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light
to my 
Psalm 119:105

April 4, 2014


Five Minute Friday: Writer

I've been a writer since I could write. I still have some of my earliest work about a wolf who befriended a lake, and kissed her in thanks. About rabbits and foxes and small adventures made of misspelled words and the crazed new handwriting of a young girl.

Writing has sustained, kept me going. Sometimes I write to think rather than the other way around. But I haven't always believed I am a writer. There have been dear friends who have had to convince me. But they did. And so did He.

Writing not only sustains me, but can be the means to reach out and touch the wounds of others, a way of conversing with people far from me. It is a gift that I hope can be for His glory, ultimately.

But being a writer in this world is hard. Collegiate expectations are heavy, pushing postmodernism, this cynical, dark way. But I have never been good at being bullied into things. Stubbornness pervades, and I write my own joyful melancholy, the hope that He has given. He weaves it into every word, and sometimes I don't even see it until later.

Sometimes the writing bleeds out, but the best, hardest writing is honest writing.

He is faithful when we are writerly brave.

March 22, 2014


Deep down,
and just below
the surface,
somewhere beneath the soil,
surrounded by

Cold air sweeps us inside--our houses and ourselves. We burrow deep, desperate for constant sun. Numbed fingers clench, chilled shoulders hunch, cold faces scrunch, weak hearts wrench.


There, on that tree, fuzzy brown buds swell. And that patch of dead leaves, skewered by shoots--green, small, pointy. That one smoldering forsythia? There, too.

And that is what we can see.

Below the ground, the gestation of green has been working, wrangling with the darkness, the frost, the hard, the dirt, the loneliness. Seeds are not static below our line of sight. There is more here than we see.

We are wrangling in the dirt, scratching to poke through the surface, ready for spring. A time for everything.

We want it here,

We may not be as ready as we think.

in the light of hope.

Spring is coming.

"Under the giving snow blossoms a daring spring." Terri Guillemets
"To every thing there is a season..." Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV

March 14, 2014


Five Minute Friday: CROWD

Crowds crow at the thoughts. Crowds are the thoughts. The pressing demands of intellectuals, the pushy philosophies, the downright mean critiques, the thoughts trying to care, trying to get it right, but all just dissolving in the pixels, painting a picture of nothing.

Nothing and everything.

The thoughts crowd the quiet Voice. Stillness is impossible with all the movement like tiny waves that back-and-forth swayingly.

"In the silence of the heart, You speak." Audrey Assad.

Yet all I can do is sing the words, and quiet, stillness eludes.

I just want to be alone with the One whom my soul longs to be with.

Emmanuel, God with us.

That word has kept me going this last two weeks. Remembering that whether I am crowded by thoughts, He cannot be crowded out.

He is with us.

March 9, 2014

with us

"What is your favorite name for God?" he had asked the congregated hearts.

My thoughts had never lingered on the subject long. People spoke, in awkward loudness that tried not to shout: "Savior"  "Redeemer"  "Messiah"

All I could think of was one word:

"God with us" according to Strong's Concordance, a combination of a word for god and the preposition with.

Why do I love that so very much?

What if I really believed that of God? What if I really lived as though He were with me? I forget Him sometimes, in my frailty.

How would I change if I knew in the depth of soul that I walked in the company of God?

In the heaps of messes, in the stretching shadows, the dimming light, the aching burdens, the wrenching pain--



And He knows pain. And He is with us, in us, around us, before us, among us, and for us.

Here. With. Not nearby, but with.

May I never forget.

March 2, 2014

twenty dollars

Today a woman handed me twenty dollars.

I cried.
Winters are winters—beginning with magical wonder and trudging on through barrenness, coldness. The cold air sends us inside ourselves to look for some cocoa, retreating farther and farther toward the grail of warmth that we think can be found inside.

I have not found it. Believe me, I have dug deeper into myself this winter than I ever have before, laying bare lies, sins, and confusions I used to refuse to admit.

It is a lonely road, even among friends. Winter has this loneliness that invades my bones, even when it is sparkling among children, whispering among pines, dancing among breaths. Spring sometimes seems the most absurd impossibility imaginable. So does hope.

It takes the generosity of one woman, who handed me twenty dollars so that others might be able to abandon worry, so that the young people could have snacks and stay up all night, even if they don’t have three dollars to spare. In some ways, her generosity may seem small, but oh, it is always the small.

It is the small that carries us through everyday—small graces and gifts and brave.

It is the small that breaks my heart for what it needs to be broken for.

In looking for an entirely different quote, I stumbled upon this one. It tells my own tale better than I can:

“It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.” 
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

The woman who handed me twenty dollars showed me that one small kindness, one small brave, can be enough for Him to take us to far greater ways and places than we would ever have found on our own. 

February 20, 2014

tears, a cold, and fear

“To the degree you experience God’s love toward you – that He sees you as beautiful and radiant – you will be changed.” Tim Keller

Some days He hits me like the cooler of colored sugar-water they pour over the heads of winning coaches.

I am still flinging drops from my eyelashes, still drying off the face. The best moments leave me feeling a little abashed, as though I stood soaking wet in front of a crowd, and very much loved.

He whispered it between the lines. He always does this when I am sick--stuffs my nose, wears out my bones so I finally stop my incessant plodding and just listen.

Listen to how He works in the life of a woman I admire and respect, who pens bravely, gently, fiercely, honestly. This hit me today, breaking the walls I feebly construct.

I shy away from His love. As I read, I knew it. And the reasons are unbearably ridiculous. I am afraid to change. Or really, be changed. I refuse to experience His love, refuse to trust Him, because of fear. The lie, the great and powerful lie that hides behind curtains and smoke, and shouts that I am better off where I am. That I am safe. We are never safe, but in the Hands of the One who spoke stars into flame. It is a different kind of safe.

I am afraid, though. Afraid, honestly, that He won't be enough. That I will step out in faith and be left hanging, falling to my own demise of shame and failure. How patient He is to have pointed me toward it gently, clearly.

Some might sneer at this, or roll their eyes. There is no God, they say. And if there is? Well, we cannot know Him. And the Bible? Just a bunch of old stories.

Maybe so. Maybe they are just a bunch of old stories, but they are also just the Word of God, the Words that change people. The words that have inspired great things in the right hands and horrors in the wrong hands. Even these are under His sovereignty.

Some might say Christianity is wrong in so many ways. They don't know Christ. Christians, well, we are wrong a lot. We do dumb, selfish, stupid stuff. But even our mistakes have a place in all this.

This is one of those posts again, that takes directions and I cannot see where they lie. I am following Him in this, because I have no other way to go. If they only knew what it was to trust God. It is hard, so hard. But I have never seen healing like the healing God does. I have never seen giving like His. I have never seen love lived the way God lived it. For all the good in the world means nothing without love. It is no more than a blaring trumpet through which we exalt ourselves.

How can I trade the love of God for the false safety of fear? I can't. So I will continue to count and be small brave, readying for the bigger brave He might ask of me.

Do Your work in me, Father. 

February 14, 2014


Five Minute Friday Garden

Herbs, honey bees, sunflowers, purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, hostas, sunlight, rain, soil, roots, seeds, leaves.

So many parts of gardens. So many pieces that make a garden grow. I miss the feel of the earth in my hands, under my fingernails, planting hope. I don't miss weeding.

But isn't that the most important part? Weeding out the bad, the in-the-way, the aggressive, the suffocating? So much to weed from my life--wasted time, fear, laziness, fear, selfishness, fear, did I mention fear?

I pray He can help me weed out all that stifles growth in the garden where my soul grows. Let courage, selflessness, love take root, and blossom for His glory. Let this winter work the hardness from me, let it soften my soil, let the snow water my roots, let His word take hold and feed.

I need His light.

February 7, 2014


Five Minute Friday: WRITE

Whew, funny this should come up. Writing has been my ocean these past two weeks, surrounding me, sometimes drowning me, sometimes carrying me far away and then back again. Taking a writing course can be an exhilarating, terrifying challenge. Especially for someone who has never known if she truly has some kind of talent.

I have a gift, and I want to use it for Him. This course is teaching me that to use it well takes steady work, wide eyes, and a little bit of brave. I love that thinking about writing makes my eyes snap open to the world, because sometimes I wear very dark sunglasses. So I plod along, working the words like clay, being worked like clay by the Word, and finding great joy in the penning.

Fear is ever present. But here, in the writing, I think I am gleaning more courage than anywhere before.

So write on, push the pen,
and be pushed
by a greater pen
in the hand of the
One who gave you
and life,
and greater love.

January 31, 2014


Five Minute Friday HERO

I don't know what to write today. Hero? Well, I am not a hero. I can think of my heroes: William Wilberforce, Ann Voskamp, Mike Donehey, Abraham Lincoln, Ruth, Rahab, perhaps  few more.

They were and are all brave. I am not.

But maybe that is just what I see. Maybe, just maybe, they were as afraid as I am at some point.

Maybe being a hero isn't about fame.

Maybe it is about small brave. A small brave that grows and grows.

And maybe it is about the Hero who gave the biggest brave of all: Himself.

Maybe that is where we start, the unlikely heroes in a story that has many parts, but has only just begun. What do we have but ourselves to give? He gave us those, these bodies, these souls, and if that isn't a start, then I don't know beginnings. Which is possible--I was never good at beginnings.

The goal shouldn't be to be a hero.

The goal should be Him.

January 24, 2014

visit--five minute friday

The day began in darkness, with only the moon and her sparkling courtiers as my traveling companions through the city, a sky itself with glittering lights and dark splatters, crowded spots and lonely spots that wove like a terrestrial picnic blanket on the Midwestern ground. When sleeping fields finally appeared, the sun eased himself awake and warmed my back, lighting up and painting the barren trees and broken stalks amid snow. Snowdrifts graced the side of the road like frosted peaks, and I drove steadily west.

I neared the X at the end of my dashed line, and when I had looped around it like a bird landing, I found a sister to warm my soul and tea to warm my hands.

It began as it always does when we are tired: a story, some silence, some cooking, another story, some trying to wake up, some grocery shopping, this unsteady pattern. We always sort it out, and end in ferocious sister-laughter, sides hurting, hearts healing, a melody inimitable that tumbles like a leaf in the wind.

What we always find is how big He is in the small things. I fight for joy, counting, looking with faith that joy will be found. She sighs with the ease of old company, and I pen, and sister visits are always the best.

January 19, 2014



If I could use one word to describe myself, that would be it.

Sounds a bit depressing, eh? Well, it is realistic. I am not a good person. I have fallen short of the standard, I have lied, I have run away in cowardice, I have been horridly selfish, and I have been insupportably proud. I have thought myself better than others. I am not.

I have failed to meet God's standard. It is impossible for me to reach it. Broken laws must have consequence, there must be justice. Otherwise, we would all be thieves and murderers. Still, in His eyes, we are as bad as thieves and murderers. He is so good and holy, that our goodness, the good things we do, is barely a shred of what He does, and our endeavors can never redeem us.

Today I received a gift from my church. Some people went to a concert where my favorite band would be jamming, but I could not go. This morning after service, my pastor handed me a bag. "Tenth Avenue North" the bag read, and inside was a t-shirt from the band--a beautiful one with a ship sailing in a storm. I have done little if not nothing to deserve such a gift. Even before I had begun to be involved, at the third service I came to, I was told I was part of the family. I had done nothing, and yet they extended their arms and hearts to me, knowing nothing of who I was or where I'd been.

They preached the Gospel to me, without words. They gave me love I did not deserve, love I hadn't earned. That's the Gospel! The story isn't over where I left off. God sent His Son--Himself, in the mystery of the Trinity. He sacrificed, stepping into time, taking on flesh, and walked among us. He spoke truth, He loved, and a few loved Him back, but most ridiculed Him, most spat in His face and nailed Him to a cross to die a shameful, painful death. Even in the last moments, as they divided the spoils, He begged "Father, forgive them." (Luke 23:34). It isn't a myth--a man named Jesus died on a cross, and it was for you and it was for me, and it was not what we deserve.

At that moment, when Jesus surrendered unto death, bearing the punishment of our sins, our wrongdoings, our selfishness,  the curtain that divided the people from God was torn in two, rent from top to bottom. This was a big curtain--I believe it was close to 80 feet. And it was torn from the top to the bottom. There was--there is--no longer a divide between us and God.

All we need is to admit that we don't deserve it. That we are as bad as our worst thoughts say and more. “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

When I realize that I am undeserving, then I am infinitely more grateful for every circumstance. It is today that I realized that the best moments, the moments that linger in my memory, the moments that have defined my life have not been moments that I was responsible for. They were not results of my own will or determination. The best parts of my life have not been things I have done, but things done unto me. By God, in saving me--my first memory is accepting God's love. By the generosity and love of others. 

Maybe I am crazy in the end, maybe I am a fool and will be forgotten and written off by the cynics, waved away by others. I haven't found answers to all my or their questions.

I found something better: Him. 

January 14, 2014

precious Jesus

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”
“My Jesus I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.”

The familiar words swirled around in my head while hymns of old danced softly on piano strings.

My hope is built—is built. Not was built, will be built, but is built. My hope is not now what it will be and is not what it once was. We are so eager to quantify, to pinpoint that which shifts and grows. To lean on the surety of our own feelings instead of His promises, His actions, His love. We grasp for pinpoints because we grasp for control. I do it every day. I feel faithful today, maybe it will last me for a week, I say to myself.


I feel faithful today. Full of faith. Thanks be to Him Who gave me faith, loves me, builds my hope on His own sacrifice. Who makes me righteous because I am a coward who cannot even give a little girl a flower in the parking lot of the grocery store. His righteousness is enough to cover all my sin. And it is His righteousness that moves me to want to try again, to never fail to show a kindness where it is needed. I will fail, but I will do better, because of Him.

It ends with a quiet love song, not eloquent or full of imagery, or really profound in any way out of the ordinary. But oh, it is the ordinary that changes me more than the extraordinary. It is the smallest of moments that cuts to my heart and points me to the One who whispers “I love thee,” in reply to my simple tune. My Jesus, I love Thee. My heart dams the joy; joy brims in eyes. I know Thou art Mine. I belong to Him and He to me. He has given Himself, and I cannot ever count gifts enough to compare to that gift.  

         precious Jesus..."