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