Soul Celebration


We’ve passed over Havana when the tears begin streaming down my face. Uninvited. Quiet.

I didn’t know they were right under the surface, just waiting for enough stillness to emerge.

As if it were a spring of water, I’m attempting to pour into my man the stories I drank in yesterday, Sunday, from life after life touched by God.

Tears of awe.

Each life a battle ground where forces of destruction, disillusion, or dysfunction for a season wreaked havoc. Like the storybook princess bound under a spell, long enough to forget there was ever a time outside its grip. For some, there wasn’t.

Until; enter God. Gently, providing the key to each lock, using human hands, one by one, He opened the cages inside their souls. One by one, contortions replaced by compassion, tensions by releases.

But yesterday, I saw more than restoration. I saw original design. I saw the purpose and potential woven into each Imago Dei, each spirit mirroring its Creator.

Embarrassed, I wipe my face in my scarf, as tears keep splashing the new hopes, dreams, and fresh ideas I bathed in, inside the eyes of the people I love. Not cheap, Hallmark movie sappiness, but springing from salty wells of loneliness and sacrifice and a grace so inexhaustibly deep – I have no words.

As we begin the landing, my flow ceases – my heart’s window washed, I’m now ready to see Guatemala…

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, AMP)

A Moth to the Fame


It’s one of those rare days where the sunshine calls us into its light and we have the freedom to follow. Yearning to feel the wind whip our faces, my man and I hop on his Harley, but every stop sign and every intersection, there’s a traffic jam. An obstacle course to our rush.

But we are off today; we have no where to be and no timeframe to get there. He turns up his music, and Young Oceans sweep us into their worship. I realize that from our very first ride together, almost 25 years ago, I have loved to listen to his music.

He’s the quiet type, my man, so every word that escapes his lips, I cherish. But something about meeting him in his playlist takes me deeper into him, but also wider into our one vision. Right there, between stop and go in North Miami, my soul breaks out of the traffic rut and soars into the sphere of wider perspective where I feel most free.

I’m turning fifty next month. Exactly half my life lived on this continent, even in this city that has been the most chaotic, colorful, flavorful setting I could have wished for. I could not be more grateful as I reflect back.

Even before Jesus swept me into His arms and gave substance to my longings, I made a vow that I would hold nothing back. Terrified to live some orderly, organized life where form and function choked out the soul, I flung myself into whatever intense cause I could find, a moth in search of a flame.

Though I later reluctantly became familiar with the dark side of most ideologies, I’m still grateful for the pull towards the revolution fires. Zeal for the ideal is the fingerprint of God, a compass carefully placed in the human heart to guide us back to His.

Back on the motorcycle, we finally break free to ride the speed of the highway, the sun caressing our backs, the drums and synthesizers bursting in our chests. The longing to be flung, body, soul, and spirit into life, into love, free of the mundane, free of the constant circumspection of sin.

The first twenty five years here, by the grace of God and the invaluable army of ragamuffins that became our people, we pioneered a church, raised and homeschooled our children, and took in a few who needed a home along the way.

The first twenty five years here were a beautiful bootcamp for discipline and balance. A constant tug-of-war between seemingly conflicting priorities, it felt at times like the fire inside was spread so thin, it was only smoldering memories of youthful dreams.

But He sustained the embers with which we were entrusted.
And He sustained us, especially in the dark nights where even flickers seemed out of of reach.

I’m turning fifty, as my man has eye on his upcoming senior citizen discounts. And I’m savoring this moment.

My life’s first trimester was characterized more by wildfires than life-giving passions. Whoever said youth is wasted on the young was right – we didn’t have the wisdom to hone our savage strength.

My second gave birth to so much, and the joy of watching those lives rise in their own passions would be enough. Swelling with gratitude, I would be deeply satisfied if this was it.

But if this ride doesn’t kill us, I’m turning my wrinkled face to the last trimester. I feel like a young horse after a pint up winter. I can smell the new season, and I’m itching to run. To fly.

As a child and even young adult, I would look starlight into the sun, just because I loved the feeling. My optometrist sighs and tells me it shows. My eyes sight is terrible, but oh, I love fire. Older and wiser now, I long to let it loose again, not my own, but the fire of God who burns to love His kids and show them His beauty and free them from all lesser flames.

I long to look into His eyes till my sin is burned away, till my whole being is one flame of His to warm this cold earth and illuminate my world with His fire.

“Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;” (Revelation 1:12-15)

“I want to hear You say well done
I want to be welcomed in
I want to feel Your love like sunshine
On my resurrected skin

I want to hear the music play
I want to hear the trumpets sound
I want to hear You call my name
And watch my feet lift off the ground”
Phil Wickham

https://youtu.be/sDG4hEWNZbk

So Come


Again, we stare at the screen in disbelief. Hooked up to our individual devices, still we are one in the grief. At our bagel bar this morning, my man and I don’t say much, as the CNN live stream in the corner continually bleeds over all of us this latest tragedy. A bearded man with a weary face enters with a laptop under his arm, and just says one word to the weathered waitress: “Orlando!” She shakes her head and brings him coffee.

So life goes on. For awhile, we will post #weareorlando, and we will agonize with strangers, before we again polarize into our factions of idealism. Gun control. Muslim control. Build a wall. Build bridges. Trump. Hillary. Feel the Bern. It’s understandable; we are hurting and powerless against this evil we grasp to define so that we can work to eliminate it.

What else can we do?
We pray. We post. We donate to good causes.

And for awhile, we invert our generation’s motto from “Don’t judge me” to “Where is justice?” We know the drill; we’ve been through it too many times already. And we know this won’t be the last or the worst.

I feel an odd detachment this time. Like a spectator. Like we are all in a theater, acting our parts, but outside the building’s little enclosed world, I hear the slowly rising roar of a tsunami wave approaching. Clips of scattered post-apocalypse movies play in the periphery of my mind, while my eyes try to focus and engage in the play I’m part of.

But I can’t focus. I hear that coming wave and I know it carries the elimination of evil we all cry out for. As in the days of Noah… We have no idea what we are asking.

We demand justice, but reject the Judge.
We hashtag compassion, but have outlawed its Source.
We are lost, but long to be found.

“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” (Romans 8:22)

They say, that while while being swept into oblivion by anesthesia before painful surgery, even grown men call out for their mama. Under the rubble of our well-intentioned efforts, our souls weep for our Creator.

We are so thirsty, and no Starbucks concoction or alkaline water from the theater vendors can quench it.

But He is here, pouring out His Spirit on anyone, whosoever directs their thirst at Him. Jesus. The Living Water. Before the wave of destruction, the rain from heaven gushes life into any dry soul who wants Him.

I rip my eyes from the theater and leave the building. Outside is my vagabond people, pilgrims and beggars, saints and sinners, their faces turned upwards, drinking the rain. Their backs to the theater, their chests toward the darkness, they sing intercession that slows the wave and protects the people inside.

For awhile.

“Dreams and visions of the Son
As we stand in Your presence
Revelations of Your love
As I look to the heavens”
(Hillsong)

After the wave, the River of Life, pure and healing.
The shadows of violence and fear now washed away. The souls saturated in love. One people of peace. Everything new, fresh, as the first day in Eden. Better. Complete.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

The invitation is for now. We have but a little time.

So come.

https://youtu.be/LiK9S8iq4ek

13 June, 2016 18:18


Again, we stare at the screen in disbelief. Hooked up to our individual devices, still we are one in the grief. At our bagel bar this morning, my man and I don’t say much, as the CNN live stream in the corner continually bleeds over all of us this latest tragedy. A bearded man with a weary face enters with a laptop under his arm, and just says one word to the weathered waitress: “Orlando!” She shakes her head and brings him coffee.

So life goes on. For awhile, we will post #weareorlando, and we will agonize with strangers, before we again polarize into our factions of idealism. Gun control. Muslim control. Build a wall. Build bridges. Trump. Hillary. Feel the Bern. It’s understandable; we are hurting and powerless against this evil we grasp to define so that we can work to eliminate it.

What else can we do?
We pray. We post. We donate to good causes.

And for awhile, we invert our generation’s motto from “Don’t judge me” to “Where is justice?” We know the drill; we’ve been through it too many times already. And we know this won’t be the last or the worst.

I feel an odd detachment this time. Like a spectator. Like we are all in a theater, acting our parts, but outside the building’s little enclosed world, I hear the slowly rising roar of a tsunami wave approaching. Clips of scattered post-apocalypse movies play in the periphery of my mind, while my eyes try to focus and engage in the play I’m part of.

But I can’t focus. I hear that coming wave and I know it carries the elimination of evil we all cry out for. As in the days of Noah… We have no idea what we are asking.

We demand justice, but reject the Judge.
We hashtag compassion, but have outlawed its Source.
We are lost, but long to be found.

“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” (Romans 8:22)

They say, that while while being swept into oblivion by anesthesia before painful surgery, even grown men call out for their mama. Under the rubble of our well-intentioned efforts, our souls weep for our Creator.

We are so thirsty, and no Starbucks concoction or alkaline water from the theater vendors can quench it.

But He is here, pouring out His Spirit on anyone, whosoever directs their thirst at Him. Jesus. The Living Water. Before the wave of destruction, the rain from heaven gushes life into any dry soul who wants Him.

I rip my eyes from the theater and leave the building. Outside are the vagabond masses, pilgrims and beggars, saints and sinners, their faces turned upwards, drinking the rain. Their backs to the theater, their chests toward the darkness, they sing intercession that slows the wave and protects the people inside.

For awhile.

“Dreams and visions of the Son
As we stand in Your presence
Revelations of Your love
As I look to the heavens”
(Hillsong)

After the wave, the River of Life, pure and healing.
The shadows of violence and fear now washed away. The souls saturated in love. One people of peace. Everything new, fresh, as the first day in Eden. Better. Complete.

“And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

The invitation is for now. We have but a little time.

So come.

https://youtu.be/LiK9S8iq4ek

[Come]

In Over My Head


She was quoting to me the exact same chapter from the exact same book I so often use to help people understand boundaries. In the hour we spent together, my counselor said nothing new to me, nothing I myself don’t regularly say to others. And yet it was hugely helpful.

Sometimes familiarity with principles and processes weakens their effectiveness. Not because they no longer hold power; like gravity, the laws don’t change. Truth will always set free and God will always be good. But like the people we are prone to taking for granted, good habits and gospel truth can slip into the grey zone of oblivion, even while we look right at them.

My descent down the slippery slope into stress began when necessity required I step into new roles and responsibilities. Unfamiliar territory with new giants. Or rather, old giants in new disguises: Worry, Anxiety, and Control, all from the tribe of What-If.

What if provision doesn’t come? Worry.
What if I make a mistake? Anxiety
What if my husband makes a mistake? Control.

In the nights, thundering heartbeat, dry throat, and exploding headaches woke me up.
In the days, my capacity for compassion was drained and my ability to listen compromised by the loud chaos inside. Temporarily, I could shoo the imposters away with “It’ll be fine,” but they always returned with a vengeance. I got so used to them that I forgot they weren’t welcome.

Until they reared their voice in a conversation with Heather. Fighting for her daughter, Heather has been to hell and back. In the process, she faced some scary giants of her own, and through some very, very fierce battles, she stared them down and won back her freedom. So now, she doesn’t mess around. When she spots evidence of the enemy at work, she calls it out. As she did for me.

Which led to me booking an appointment with a counselor to get help sifting through the stress and the stressors. So there I was, hearing such familiar words and concepts, and because of their familiarity, I was tempted to dismiss them.

“Only God can provide for people; you cannot”
“We don’t have grace for “what-if,” only for what is.”
“Your are not your husband’s Holy Spirit; second-guessing his every move doesn’t help him.”

I know, but….

I know. No but.
Exhale. Ahhhh.
Quiet acceptance.
He is God, and I am not.
Relief.

For the first time in months, I feel the relaxing warmth of peace spread from my mind to my body, deeper than I could will it. This isn’t mind over matter – it is stronger. Places I didn’t know were tense, let go.

Truth always sets free and lies always entangle.

Somewhere in the swirling newness of this season, I swallowed the lie that the weight of my life and those I so love, rests on my scrawny shoulders. Had you asked me, I might have denied it, because I know better. But I still swallowed the poison.

My counselor prayed that I would see the boundaries between my responsibilities and God’s – and because He gives sight to the blind , I did. It was like seeing through the right prescription glasses again, and my soul found and finds rest in the quiet wisdom of His Word.

“Be still, and know that I am God;”
(Psalms 46:10a)

Yes.
And still, it’s a process.

That one counseling session didn’t neatly tie a bow on the complexities of living by faith in a world where nothing adds up, as far as human eye can see. More than a ready-made solution, it was a seismic shift underground whose shockwaves still are radiating, closer and louder, a continual shaking to sift the human from the divine.

Weeks later in my car one night, my friend asks a question that triggers the ingrained guilt over my insufficiency. Tears burn in my throat as I list to her the balls I’ve dropped: unanswered emails, phone calls, the usual suspects, but each representing a life I care deeply about.

With sweet simplicity, the most healing salve, she just says, “I guess that’s where faith comes in, right? That He is God and you are not. I guess that’s where trust comes in: that He can handle what you can’t.”

As she states the obvious, I see His concern laced with humor in her eyes.

Well, is it true, or isn’t it?

“No guilt competes
With innocence crucified.
No grave can hold what your grace has justified.
With breath that brings the dead to life,
With words that pierce the dark with light
Only by the blood are we set free.
With mercy strong to carry shame
And nail it to a tree You alone
Hold the power to redeem.”
~ Lauren Daigle

http://youtu.be/r47ux0RhLMQ

Since then, the underground rumblings have become continual tidal waves rushing me further and further from the shore of my control into the ocean of grace. I fear drowning less and enjoy the splashes more.

His way is fun and free.
I’m not looking back anymore.

“Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head.” Bethel Music

https://youtu.be/qv3-TDdD1pM

What May It Cost You?


Materially, I am among the most privileged in the world, but by American standards, I live in a shack. Two bedrooms with one bath, our 1,000 square foot home is old and in need of continuous repair, which we are slowly and methodically undertaking, as time and finances allow.

But it feels like the mythical curse of Sisyphus, who was condemned to an eternity of rolling a boulder uphill then watching it roll back down again.

The bathroom walls are currently held together by duct tape, the ceiling is drizzling plaster dust, and the tile on the front steps are a lawsuit waiting to happen. You get the picture.

In one of my sleepless nights, I stumble into the bathroom and look at that black duct tape (yes, that could have been done with more finesse, but that’s another story…) – I groan at the sheer ugliness and pray one of those sleepy frustrations “Lord, help me to understand this.”

Decades of priorities, such a homeschooling and traveling to see family at the expense of maintaining the house, explain a lot. The circumstances that led to here are complex, and most of them, we don’t regret. Still, there’s a nagging awareness that in this one arena, no matter what we do, this thorn in the flesh remains.

“And I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees”
(Simon and Garfunkel)

For us, the thorn has been financial. For others, it’s been one health threat after another, or relational upheaval, or family deaths. You name it.

So in the wee hours of the night, looking at the black tape on my yellow walls, I see the collage of our hardships, of which mine is by far the most superficial. “Lord, help me understand.”

I must have drifted off to sleep, but when the alarm shakes me out of it shortly after, I remember the prayer. Like a dull ache, it’s just there, lingering in my groggy soul.

Coffee.

After decades with this habit, my morning routine is on autopilot: light a candle, open my Daily Bible, exhale.

More coffee.

And it happens again: He meets me right here in my messy nest, right here in my messier flesh. Cutting through the worries and expectations that hover like black matter around my spirit, He speaks:

“Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins—a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, “The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the others gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford—she gave her all.” (Mark 12:41-44, The Message)

Suddenly, I’m aware of the air conditioned comfort from where I complain. Aware of how much I have not given.

As is typical, I sense His questions, rather than an answer: “What may it cost you, Elisabet?”
“Will you draw a line for Me that says, “This far and no further?” “Is that really what you want?”

My gaze falls on the title of the book next to my bed , “i am n”

This single Arabic letter n conveys the life-altering accusation that the bearers, or the occupants on the house where it’s painted, are “Nazarenes,” people who follow Jesus of Nazareth.

“Any person who takes a stand for Jesus in the occupied Iraq, any person who chooses to be “n,” pays a high cost. Without warning, some Christians are dragged from their homes and
businesses by armed militants – and they are never seen again. Pastor’s who share the message of Jesus in their communities are beheaded in front of their families. Children who don’t renounce Jesus are shot. Teenagers may be taken from their homes and families and forced into service of ISIS or beaten, mutilated, and left for dead.” (Pages 15-16)

“What may it cost you, Elisabet?”

My Iraqi siblings don’t love their children any less than I love mine. They feel the un-anesthetized pain of these horrors, and those too unbearable to describe, exactly as I would. Knowing that one word of compromise can spare them, they face their persecution steadfastly. Not because they are super-human, but because they have counted the cost.

Somehow, they’ve embraced the greatest treasure that “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

This dilapidated, mortgaged house would be a palace for them, but that’s not the point. Not anymore.

Jesus follows the story of the poor widow who gave it all, with His disciples marveling at the grand structure of the temple, and grand it was. And He answered them, as He now answers my plea to understand, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2)

My black tape on the wall is a visual reminder that all of this will be shaken, so that only the eternal remains. In the waves of refugees rolling in over Europe, I see the transience of life itself. The martyrs are living stones in a temple that will never be destroyed, and everything inside me just yearns to be among them. Not to die, but to live.

Everything, Lord, it may cost me everything. Forgive my spoiled perspective and replace my expectations with Yours.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

“Through the eyes of men it seems
There’s so much we have lost
As we look down the road
Where all the prodigals have walked
One by one
The enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves

But we know that you are God
Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith you’ve given us
We’ll step into the valley unafraid”
(Lauren Daigle)

http://youtu.be/7XAeyFagceQ

No Longer Slaves


Rays of sunshine finds you pressed into the shadows of familiar fears. The unexpected light makes you close your eyes, the warmth relaxes your tense face. I watch the tight armor loosen its grip on your vigilant muscles.

A thousand dashes hopes, a thousand miles of pain, caught somewhere between nightmare and dream, life and death – is anything real?

Back in the chains of slavery, at least Babylon’s opium soothed your raw nerves for a while. A least in the beginning. At least you hadn’t tasted freedom enough to let your mind reach for it, stretch for it, move towards it.

In rare moments of clarity, you know better than to nurse nostalgia for a captivity, that even when airbrushed through filters adding fake colors and vibrancy, was never home and never safe. Though its sirens aim their song straight at your soul to lure you back, you know deep down, it would lead to shipwreck.

You left in the first place, because someone described the Promised Land in a way that sparked hope to the dying embers inside.

“God is for you, not against you,” they said.
“You don’t have to stay a slave, because He has the power to deliver you,” they said. And you saw in their eyes a freedom that eventually subdued your survival-mode cynicism that “Life’s too hard for pipe-dreams.”

And you began to see undeniable signs that perhaps God was paying attention after all.

And you made the leap of faith – you decided to trust God.

And your life changed – you tasted the salty winds of freedom for the first time in your life when you left your old life behind and began the journey toward the Promised Land.

But the unpaved road went through the wilderness, and it got hard. Much harder than you expected – it almost seemed harder than what you left behind.

Sure, God did come though and somehow created the bread and water you were dying for.

Sure, it was great while it lasted, but you got hungry and thirsty again. It just seems that while you are following God through this desert, the Promised Land is a moving target.

You’re tired of the unknown. The stress.

Even though your old life was hard, at least it was familiar. At least you knew what to expect.

The whole time you are pondering this, God is right there with you. You get so used to Him that you no longer notice the many ways He shields you and caresses you with the tenderness of a parent who just can’t keep from stroking a sleeping child. But the child is asleep and doesn’t know… So you tune Him out and allow yourself to fantasize about the life you wished you had.

You’re confused.

Wasn’t it supposed to get better, not worse, following God?

Some people tell you it really doesn’t have to be this hard. They say God wants you happy – and you are not.
Who is Jesus anyway, and what does He want from you?

What you can’t see is the dark presence of your old master hovering over you, a toxic cloud of confusion and accusation and memories of failures and rejections, relentlessly buzzing over you, scanning for any opening to penetrate with hellish precision, the soul Jesus died to liberate.

As exhausting as that oppression is, it cannot enter without your permission. A rape victim myself, I know how violation incapacitates our defenses and cripples our perception of personal space.

Having been discarded as worthless, it’s a gradual process to realize our immeasurable worth. Because sweet words were misused to manipulate and control you then, it’s hard to trust them now.

Because life is still hard. So your old training kicks in and presses you against the walls in hyper vigilance, and cold as death, cynicism’s venom sneaks back into your thoughts.

That’s the opening your enemy has patiently waited for.

But he is not the only one fighting for you. Actually, where he comes only to kill, steal, and destroy, God is tirelessly wooing you back to truth, to hope, to love.

But the choice is yours.
The enemy cannot – and God will not – violate your free will.

So you are free.

And that’s where this ray of life dances over your face, teasing you like a melody to awaken your sense of adventure again.

In this shadowland, life will be hard. Whoever tells you differently is selling you a lie, and it will come at a cost.

But as light tickles your faith, can you begin to hear the songs from the Promised Land again? Deep in your spirit, you awaken to songs from your Homeland in your heart-language, singing in your blood.

And it stirs resilient strength inside you, a primal sense of purpose rising, a stubborn determination to stand fully erect, unashamed and un-intimidated, come what may.

You were made for this. You look around and realize that shadows are populated by so many just like you.

Some have fought back the paralyzingly darkness a bit further than you, and you see in them that each step towards the light strengthens their resolve and sweetens their fragrance.

Others have yet to even realize that they are succumbing to unnecessary deception.

Inspired by the first and infuriated on behalf of the second group, you suddenly hear your own voice and the words of William Wallace, aka Braveheart, thunder through your chest and cut through the fog:

“I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?

Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!!!”

http://youtu.be/uBAW_YTjWUo

“You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
‘Til all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God”
~ Bethel Music

“Should this life I live
Hold nothing but the cross where Jesus took my shame
Then with arms stretched wide
And my head held high
My every breath will sing again”
~ Hillsong

The spirit and the Bride cry “Come!”
Beloved, you are nearly Home,
At last ONE in unbroken Hallelujah.

http://youtu.be/XxkNj5hcy5E

Soundtrack of Faith


We’re here to study and write, leaning into the sounds of silence together, my man and I. Books and iPads, hot tea and coffee ready, we hope to hear from God. Like Moses outside the camp, but with Sonny’s BBQ instead of manna. The flame in the propane heater is no burning bush, though. We need to hear from God.

As always, our processes are polar opposites: While I immediately dive into research and outlines, he breathes calmly and stares into realms known only to him. Like a swimmer with goggles, I tune out the world to focus, while he splashes outside any lanes I can see, to the rhythms from his ever-present Bluetooth speakers.

I squint my eyes and cover my ears, trying to redirect my thoughts from his music to the messages waiting to be mined here. Dictionaries and commentaries call for quiet immersion, but splashes of melodies and poetries keep teasing me up to the surface.

I see sunshine dancing in my man’s rugged face. His thoughts seem freed in this breezy place of quiet solitude, his eyes alive. He doesn’t know I’m looking. I open my clenched hands and allow my own disciplined plan to sink….

Somehow, that opens my soul to the intimate memories tucked into these melodies that have become our soundtrack.

“All to Jesus I, I surrender all
Humbly at His feet I bow
Pleasures of this world, I would gladly trade
Take it all Lord, take me now”

Fresh enough still to be raw, I remember shouting my despair from hormone hallucinations into the rising drums of Jesus Culture’s I Surrender All. My voice broke. Feverish fears screamed through me. But somehow that song became a prayer that carried me through the surge to saner shores.

http://youtu.be/NDP5GgBTRE4

“Mercy roars like hurricane winds
Furious love laid waste to my sin”

http://youtu.be/KQwHhFZzuDc

Her angelic voice carries me back to December’s windblown fields in Denmark, where we drove endlessly though idyllic villages with candlelit farmhouses, my old regrets nowhere to be found. Decades of mercy roaring through my life shattered the straw structures of false identities and counterfeit relationships and established something solid, eternal instead, “so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

“The constellations are swimming inside
The breadth of Your desire
Where could I run, where could I hide
From Your heart’s jealous fire

All treasures of wisdom and things to be known
Are hidden inside your hand
And in this fortunate turn of events
You ask me to be Your friend”

http://youtu.be/Q8unoeiaYoI

Such understatement in the masculine words of John Mark MacMillan! This “fortunate turn of events” is the miracle of my life! And even that is a microscopic expression of the thunderous, sacrificial Love that created this Paradise, corrupted though it may now be.

Through the screens of the back porch, I see the sun setting on another Sunday. The ordinary, wrapped in golden light.

As song after song washes over me, I hear the ancient duet between the Lover and the Beloved. Wave after wave of human prayers and experiences rising in crescendo and then crashing against the unwavering shore of His reality.

I can’t say that I heard from God. I don’t even know that I feel Him. Extended somewhere between faith and sight, riding these melodic memories, a peaceful awareness that He is here.

“In the process
In the waiting
You’re making melodies over me
And your presence
is the promise
For I am a pilgrim on a journey

You will lift my head above the mighty waves
You are able to keep me from stumbling
And in my weakness
You are the strength that comes from within
Good shepherd of my soul
Take my hand and lead me on”

“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

http://youtu.be/xMW-O9GB-UY

Glorious Daily Life


I write the date in my journal. January 21, ’16. I stare at the apostrophe before 16 and rub my eyes. 16 years in this millennia already, and life goes on as always. I remember when Y2K seemed the abyss of the unknown in front of us, and we expected computers to crash and and therefore bank systems to implode; we expected the domino effect of the apocalypse to begin then. And maybe it did.

But staring at the previous pages in my journal, scribbled in all colors and moods and places I’ve been, what I see is just the mosaic of daily life as its been lived throughout the pages of history.

Mine is a voice in the chorus of countless mothers praying for their children and grandchildren, shepherds for their sheep, friends for their friends.

Wars have trampled over us with iron boots, historic battles lost and won by the blood of our sons. Inventions promised our mothers easier lives, but we are as stressed as ever. But under the umbrella of mega events, life is just – daily.

Im turning fifty this year.

Like rings on a tree, the face looking back at me in the mirror is lined by winters I thought would kill me and summers of celebration. But mostly, the seasons in between have pulled age like a film over the face I remember from photos before Facebook.

Unlike the culture obsessed with youth, I’m grateful to be at this stage in life. Those wrinkles testify of sleepless nights from babies and worries and belly-hurting laughter from unexpected joys and mind boggling absurdities and memories I can’t remember. I don’t want to airbrush away the hard-earned scars of life.

As much as it cost me, it cost Him more.

In my visible age I see with increasing clarity the mercy of my invisible Hero. The more my kids insist that my hearing is deteriorating, the more clearly I hear the songs He sang over me.

Those trembling nights when my man and I held each other awhile our business collapsed or our son was desperately sick or my mother died, the roaring fires of fear and grief and regret surging through us, I did feel His cooling breath whispering lullabies to my soul, until my body relaxed under His watchful eye.

When my legs buckled under me, and they did, and they do, He didn’t allow me yield to my weakness, but coached me with appropriate volume, “Just one more step.” “You promised me your best.” “Just keep going, keep going.”

http://youtu.be/-sUKoKQlEC4

My phone is lighting up with agonized pleas for prayer and sweet shared victories from those, with whom I’m so privileged to huddle up closely while a storm is tearing through all of our lives.

I’m not naive. I know the cost of the path we’ve chosen.

I know we are burning our candles from both ends. “Nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Back to back with my people, facing the giants together, I know this, and we are still standing.

The next page in my journal is blank.

If I could write my life ahead, it would be in blood-red fiery letters:
Remember whom you have believed, who has carried you through fires and floods already. His Spirit is coursing through your veins and His love through your longings and dreams.

Cast off the worry and doubt that shackle your soul and run free. You don’t have to wonder what the blueprint for your life is; He already told you: Love. Love! LOVE!!!

Yes, the details will overwhelm you and torrential obstacles engulf you. Yes, your lungs will burn and your heart will rip and pain will be your faithful companion. But so will grace.

This is the only life you were made for: the whole-hearted, full-blooded, no filter adventure that moves heaven and earth for the glorious cause, right here, on the pages of daily life.

“It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.”
(Psalms 18:32-36)

http://youtu.be/7XAeyFagceQ

22 January, 2016 09:34


I write the date in my journal. January 21, ’16. I stare at the apostrophe before 16 and rub my eyes. 16 years in this millennia already, and life goes on as always. I remember when Y2K seemed the abyss of the unknown in front of us, and we expected computers to crash and and therefore bank systems to implode; we expected the domino effect of the apocalypse to begin then. And maybe it did.

But staring at the previous pages in my journal, scribbled in all colors and moods and places I’ve been, what I see is just the mosaic of daily life as its been lived throughout the pages of history.

Mine is a voice in the chorus of countless mothers praying for their children and grandchildren, shepherds for their sheep, friends for their friends.

Wars have trampled over us with iron boots, historic battles lost and won by the blood of our sons. Inventions promised our mothers easier lives, but we are as stressed as ever. But under the umbrella of mega events, life is just – daily.

Im turning fifty this year.

Like rings on a tree, the face looking back at me in the mirror is lined by winters I thought would kill me and summers of celebration. But mostly, the seasons in between have pulled age like a film over the face I remember from photos before Facebook.

Unlike the culture obsessed with youth, I’m grateful to be at this stage in life. Those wrinkles testify of sleepless nights from babies and worries and belly-hurting laughter from unexpected joys and mind boggling absurdities and memories I can’t remember. I don’t want to airbrush away the hard-earned scars of life.

As much as it cost me, it cost Him more.

In my visible age I see with increasing clarity the mercy of my invisible Hero. The more my kids insist that my hearing is deteriorating, the more clearly I hear the songs He sang over me.

Those trembling nights when my man and I held each other awhile our business collapsed or our son was desperately sick or my mother died, the roaring fires of fear and grief and regret surging through us, I did feel His cooling breath whispering lullabies to my soul, until my body relaxed under His watchful eye.

When my legs buckled under me, and they did, and they do, He didn’t allow me yield to my weakness, but coached me with appropriate volume, “Just one more step.” “You promised me your best.” “Just keep going, keep going.”

http://youtu.be/-sUKoKQlEC4

My phone is lighting up with agonized pleas for prayer and sweet shared victories from those, with whom I’m so privileged to huddle up closely while a storm is tearing through all of our lives.

I’m not naive. I know the cost of the path we’ve chosen.

I know we are burning our candles from both ends. “Nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Back to back with my people, facing the giants together, I know this, and we are still standing.

The next page in my journal is blank.

If I could write my life ahead, it would be in blood-red fiery letters:
Remember whom you have believed, who has carried you through fires and floods already. His Spirit is coursing through your veins and His love through your longings and dreams.

Cast off the worry and doubt that shackle your soul and run free. You don’t have to wonder what the blueprint for your life is; He already told you: Love. Love! LOVE!!!

Yes, the details will overwhelm you and torrential obstacles engulf you. Yes, your lungs will burn and your heart will rip and pain will be your faithful companion. But so will grace.

This is the only life you were made for: the whole-hearted, full-blooded, no filter adventure that moves heaven and earth for the glorious cause, right here, on the pages of daily life.

“It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.
He teaches my hands to make war,
So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You have also given me the shield of Your salvation;
Your right hand has held me up,
Your gentleness has made me great.
You enlarged my path under me,
So my feet did not slip.”
(Psalms 18:32-36)

http://youtu.be/7XAeyFagceQ

[Glorious Daily Life]