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]

A Prayer for Your Year


A week ago, we greeted everyone from our dearest to strangers, “Happy New Year!” Sometimes sincerely intended as a blessing for their year, other times more in the thoughtless vernacular of “How are you?” that doesn’t expect a real reply. In those days surrounding January 1st, most of us took some kind of inventory, trying…hoping… to nurture a happier new year.

I heard the greeting roll of my tongue, as I hugged a young professional woman who found her best friend dead this year. I whispered it into the ear of a boy, whose family was repeatedly slammed by severe emergencies last year, mom and dad, brother and sister, and his own three-year-old body rushed to the hospital at different times. “I love you up to the sky,” he whispered back. And I wiped my eyes in his hair.

I know clouds are rolling towards all of us. In spite of all our best efforts, pain will find us and and try to convince us that it’s too much. Unfair. Pointless.

Already feeling the chill of those approaching clouds, my heart cradles the many I wished Happy New Year, the many I hold so dear. Several of them are battling cancer or watching their loved ones devoured by it. The greeting sounds hollow now, almost cruel, and I wonder what might have been a stronger blessing?

Peaceful New Year.
Victorious New Year.
Wise New Year.
Brave New Year.

May you look into the year ahead with your head held high, no matter what winds will whip your hair and burn your eyes. Not in pride, but “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

May you stand erect on the solid ground, not of your own strength, but of the unshakable work of Jesus. When He redeemed you from death and darkness, He promised you that you would and could take every step forward in His strength. When panic thunders in your ears, as it will, may you hear His breath close to your soul whisper,

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

May you walk into the cloud of the unknown, knowing He will meet you there. When others urge you to hold back, but you sense Him calling you forward, may you go anyway. There are places with Him not everyone goes – - – like close to a bloody, excruciating Cross. Of the many who proclaimed loud bravery, only one male disciple followed Him there. May that be you.

When uncertainty pulls the rug from under you, may you know that He carries you close to His heart. When questions seem to undermine your faith, may you stand on what you know, not what you don’t.

Corrie Ten Boom describes walking with her dad, asking him questions too heavy for her age. Instead of answering her, he places his heavy briefcase on the ground and asks her to carry it for him. “Daddy, I want to, but I can’t. It’s too heavy for me; I’m too small.” “And so it is with the answers you seek. When you can carry my briefcase, I will answer them.”

“Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
(Psalms 131:1-2)

Oswald Chambers suggests,”Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child— a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows…

Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.” (My Utmost for His Highest, July 29)

May we know deeper Him this year.

“From the cloud You speak
What was veiled now is seen
Jesus the image of
The invisible God
Divinity confirmed
In the transfigured Word
A kingdom once concealed
On the earth now revealed”
(Hillsong Worship)

“There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;”
(Deuteronomy 33:26-27a)

http://youtu.be/HLMtfq5epbw

17 December, 2015 12:31


We embark on the journey exhausted. Increasingly, a gazillion details interrupt our sleep, and we need this vacation the way an overstimulated toddler needs sleep after a day with too many birthday parties.

Unbeknownst to us, the Uber ride from our home to the MIA airport, sets the unusual tone for the whole trip: “You’re a pastor? I need a pastor,” our driver comments, as he initiates conversation and then entrusts us with the fractured pieces of his broken life and his longing for faith, for God.

As does our taxi driver in Paris, as does a store owner in Helsingør, and eventually a waitress in a castle we visit. Foggy and fatigued though our heads may be, we see a theme unfold:

There’s a tangible thirst for God.

It’s unexpected light breaking through to our weary souls on this journey back to my roots.

Descending upon the country that boasts the happiest people on earth is a shocking encounter with comfort and ease. Renewing my Danish passport is as simple as stepping into an old friend’s living room, complete with candles and free coffee, and they even rushed it at no additional charge.

But somehow the gentle efficiency everywhere discombobulates me. After 24 years, vivacious Miami chaos has become my norm, and this orderly, well-oiled machine feels almost suffocating. A too-warm comforter caressing weary travelers, but also offering lullabies when one needs to stay awake…

I feel my spirit slightly out of focus.
Though I gratefully drink deeply of the generous, nourishing love of my family and friends, thoroughly soaking in the kind of intimacy that only grows after decades of honest life together, I feel slightly off balance.

My cherished Copenhagen has moved on without me. I have to stare intently at the currency to distinguish the different coins from each other, and I realize that many of the young people in the street weren’t even born when I left.

Still, in the cobble stones, I hear the sounds that so enticed me as a little girl. In the red roofs and centuries-old green church spires, I sense the history that drew from me the vow to one day live here. It looked so different through my childhood eyes, and I don’t know how to process the schism between then and now.

Suddenly this ancient city seems so fragile. As do I. Suddenly this charming world seems so small, so temporary. I feel like a falling leaf that doesn’t know where to land.

Into this internal swirl, the many encounters of strangers seeking us out without even knowing why, penetrate like rays of early morning sunshine. There’s a greater world calling, our Creator stirring in many an awakening to His unseen presence. The invisible arousing dormant echoes in hearts of those, for whom visible comfort is not enough.

I keep shaking my head to align those realms.

The last day, we return to Jensens Bøfhus, a little Steakhouse in Hillerød, overlooking another magnificent castle, drawing my heart to my King.

That night, my father tells us more memories from escaping Nazi Germany, and I watch him reliving that terrible hunger, which cigarettes only superficially eased. Though it’s been more than ten years since we buried her together, I feel my mother’s smile, as we listen. I hear her soft laugh….

The way Danish voices caressed my vagabond soul when we first boarded the Copenhagen-bound plane in Paris, American twang now touches me the exact same sweet way in the same airport.

Neither and both are home for me.

On this opposite route across the Atlantic, something inside me returns into focus, as I watch Helen Mirren’s character return to Vienna in “Woman in Gold.” The way past and present blend together to the voice of an old cello, but still don’t satisfy the aching for Home – in the scene of a Jewish wedding dance, I glimpse and feel the tug from the eternal again. The ache is sweet.

When Your Soul Feels Squeezed


Pain pours though her eyes. From the well of countless disappointments, where confusion and dying dreams decay, words, like polluted fish, escape towards the light.

Hoping to be caught, to be understood.
Hoping that if someone would understand what it’s truly like to live inside her soul, her life, that would fix something.

With all the attention I can muster, I listen. I want to see what she sees, hear what she hears, feel what she feels. Walking into the home of her heart, my questions seek to turn on the light. Room by room, I try to discover with her the colors, scents, and sounds that populate her world. Gradually, her isolated emotions merge into a fuller picture, and I begin to understand.

Touring her thoughts and relationships with her, I recognize the reactions I, too, so often clung to like an infant’s security blanket, rocking myself back and forth in their rhythmic repetition:

“No one understands”
“I am all alone in this”
“I am stuck and can’t get free”

Though friends might agree and family support us in the misery, their comfort often unintentionally enforces the bars of our emotional jail.

What keeps us bound inside our own souls is the lie that we are victims of someone else’s choices.

Powerlessness, Passivity, and Pessimism.

Until the day my mentor on the phone took a deep breath, sighed deeply, and asked with the sober sternness I needed right then,

“Why?
Why, Elisabet, are you bound to a mood that isn’t even yours?
Jesus died for your soul, so you would LIVE. Not so you could wither away in someone else’s shadows. Go find the sunshine He has for you.”

“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)

It was like someone opened the door to a musty dungeon, and fresh air flood into my spirit. I am not bound to live in a constant boomerang of reaction and counter-reaction with anyone.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Yes, I still have to remind myself of His freedom when hurt tries smother me under the blanket of self-pity. There is plenty of complacent company in the cave that nurses offenses, but like dogs gnawing on their own wounds for attention, the benefits are nowhere near worth the cost.

I grab the hands of my young friend and try to impress on her the incomparable freedom of living for the smile of Jesus, rather than for the hope that her man changes. As she lifts her hopes upward instead, he probably will. But if her motivation were linked to his behavior, she would still be bound.

Cut him loose from the apology you never got, and the times he was lost in his phone when you were vying for his attention, and the way he still doesn’t get the signals you send… – and you will BOTH be free from the tyranny of insatiable expectations.

Then look up at your Creator and receive fresh vision of what you were designed for. Who were you meant to be? Who do you want to be? When do you feel most alive?

He understands why you flinch by certain words and actions. He, who shaped the deepest trenches in the ocean, is intimately familiar with the caverns of your heart. As He is with theirs – with whomever you share this entangled tango.

No human affection will ever caress you the way His Spirit balms our bruises, just by being there. Once you accept that, it’s much easier to appreciate their well-intended kindness, however clumsy or inadequate it may be. As is yours. As is mine. We are all broken creatures who try our best in the divine art of love.

And just as He promised, it’s when we lose our life in His that we begin to live. It’s when we crucify our demands of others that we are free to receive what they willingly offer. It’s when we give ourselves away that we are most deeply satisfied.

It tastes like Jesus.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and envision the freedom, that no one but your Maker can define who you are and who you become. Without your permission, no one can steel the seeds He plants in you, and no one can overshadow you when you stretch toward the sun.

Lean your head back and fill your lungs with His breath – can you taste it – His freedom inside you?

If not, take another, deeper breath and let your spirit soar high over all the smog of your life, till you see the whole globe in beautiful, birds-eye perspective, its blues and greens wrapped in white breezes, after millennia of pollution still reflecting the Creator, who holds your heartbeat and intently watches the shadows and lights in your soul.

Exhale…

Open the fist of resentment and let it all float away…..

Enough.

Let there be light…

http://youtu.be/rRiIWL04po8

Letting Go


I open my hand. Etched into my nerves there are all those I love. No, love is too generic a word – more precisely, those I carry under my skin, inside my soul. When they hurt, my stomach knots into a fist. When they laugh, sunshine floods through me.

If I could design my own world, we would all freely flourish in our callings and passions in wide open spaces – and then meet over candlelit kinfolk dinner every night. Unrushed. Unstressed. In unbroken oneness.

My daughter’s room is empty now. Her vinyls are all back on the wall in her typical whimsical way. Because my chaos-gene lives strongly in her, order was never an achievable ambition for us – till now. Approaching fifty, I’m gradually arriving at some sense of influencing our home environment, and with her gone, the newfound neatness carries over from one day to another.

I miss her.

In the foothills of Southern California, I kissed her goodbye. Both of us composed. None of us knows where the next six months will take her. Vaya con Dios, mi amorsita.

Pastor Saeed hasn’t seen his children for over three years. Unjustly detained and tortured in an Iranian prison, for “crimes against the national security of Iran” (for prior involvement with Christian house churches), still his soul is free. Unconquerable. He wrote to his daughter for her eighth birthday:

“I know that you question why you have prayed so many times for my return and yet I am not home yet. Now there is a big WHY In your mind; you are asking: WHY Jesus isn’t answering your prayers and the prayers of all of the people around the world praying for my release and for me to be home with you and our family.

Jesus allows me to be kept here for His glory. He is doing something inside each of us and also outside in the world. People die and suffer for their Christian faith all over the world and some may wonder why? But you should know the answer of WHY is WHO. It is for Jesus. He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives.” (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/article/pastor-saeeds-letter-to-his-daughter-rebekka/)

I can’t imagine their anguish of their separation.

My man and I sleep in air-conditioned comfort, and what we give, we give from a base of first-world luxury. This crazy, busy, too-many-balls-in-the-air, too-many-people-to-be-as-faithful-as-we-wish life, this is what we were made for. Still, the toll of the pressures he bears is increasingly visible to me: the deepening bags around his eyes, the heavy sighs, the restless sleep. Though hard seasons have forged more spiritual steel into us, these physical marks on him hint nonetheless at his mortality.

So I savor every moment. Watching him make coffee and putter about in his quiet morning routine, I drink him in. Tomorrow together is not guaranteed.

He cannot not slow down. He’s a man on a mission, and he answers to a higher authority than a worried wife. He is only as free as his conscience is clear, and our hopes are anchored in eternity, not here.

Even in queasiness, her glow announced my darling daughter-in-law’s pregnancy way before their Facebook announcement. My grandchild. Actually, two “grandchildren” will be among the many babies entering this confusing world next year, and I ache to protect them.

I want them free and I want them safe; unpolluted, yet savvy. But underneath these natural desires, drawing from a well much deeper than my mother-heart, splashes from the River of Life awaken a truer prayer for them:

May their WHYs be satisfied in the WHO.

Like sunflowers, may they live erect, stretching in His golden purpose towards their Sun, no matter the cost. Pressing down on us us with intensifying madness, the descending darkness is only
temporary. May their vision soar above these shadowlands, to where the sky is free, and may their freedom liberate others. “He is worth the price. And He has a plan to be glorified through our lives.”

This ancient monastic prayer breathing through me, I open my hand and release them:

“Lord, have mercy
You I adore
Into Your hand”

http://youtu.be/NDP5GgBTRE4

“As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.” (Isaiah 59:21)

Lost And Found Relationships


Bypassing the psychedelic theology of “Lost,” what is it about that last scene, when everyone gathered in the church, young again and free of old tension while the violins breathe that sense of eternity over the slow motion film? Our hero is dying, we know it’s sappy, but it still rings true.

Something deep inside cries yes, that’s how it should be. There’s something “home” about that church scene that resonates through many other movies and resonates in the human soul, and I’m beginning to taste that buried relationships really can resurrect.

I didn’t see it at first, when threads from the past began to be woven again into the tapestry of my life . The first one, my long-lost, deeply-cherished friend returned to my life after twelve year’s separation, time needed for us both to grow into health and strength in our individual lives. Could this be for real – she was back, and it was beautiful. It is beautiful.

Since then, others have emerged.

This week, two friends, whose lives were intertwined with mine decades ago, independently of each other reached out to invite me into their life’s project. Just to play a tiny part, but still, a weaving together of our paths again.

I’m honored, I’m delighted, and I’m flushed afresh with love for these two. Both widowed, and both turning tragedy to triumph so fiercely that it jolts me out of any lazy coasting. Nothing is to be taken for granted. Life and strength and family are much too essential to be delegated to autopilot routines.

Years ago, while I was living on another continent before my first trans-Atlantic trek to the U.S., Mimi dated Robert, who would later become my husband. She’s the type, who not only lights up a room, she transforms any otherwise mundane situation into a special event. Colorful, compassionate, and highly accomplished, she is now returning from the darkness of despair after her husband’s alleged suicide with tour de force determination to catapult others forward through their pain through her upcoming book. I will report soon about her upcoming book release just before the holidays!

Check out Mimi, now going by her full name, Mishael Porembski and her warrior widows here: http://www.teamlady180.com

Bill is a gentleman with a cologne that makes me feel safe and a humor that keeps me on my toes. Close to ninety, his entire life has been dedicated to building on his father’s legacy, while inspiring countless others to build theirs. He’s writing his memoir, and I’m invited to contribute with the portion that wove my thread into his story.

And this is the story that makes me see the the whole tapestry of loss and letting go with new eyes:

In the early 1990′s, my husband and Bill had together pioneered a church model in South Beach, where a slow, genuine revival was rising in the fashion community. There was no Bible-believing, English-speaking church, and confusion was beginning to muddy the Message.

As seasons changed, Bill moved on to teach at Princeton, and the Gathering became Calvary Chapel Miami Beach, which will soon celebrate its 22nd birthday.

Until four years ago, our location was central South Beach. Renting a small second-story space for an obscene amount, we nonetheless loved the crazy normal of drag queens attempting to pose as ushers, homeless people sitting side by side with superstars, and just the general mayhem of a city celebrating insanity.

But out the blue, a bank approached us, pleading with us to purchase an abandoned church building in North Beach, which had last served as a Brazilian “Art Temple”. Because of our commitment to South Beach, we refused them twice, before hearing the voice of the Lord.

This was His idea.

The building turned out to be the original home of a church, planted in part by Bill’s father, Daniel Iverson. Many purposes have passed through, and several generations have prayed from that church split, till it was again housing His church. 40-something years passed.

God is faithful.

Our relationships and our life projects matter even more to Him than they do us. Sometimes, when we clench our fists too tightly around them, or when the threads have becomes a tense knot, He separates them for a season. Sometimes for the rest of our earthly life. But even so, He holds the tapestry’s design.

It’s fair to give Facebook due honor for reconnecting us with people from the past, for better or for worse. But stronger than a social media phenomenon, I see a relational, redeeming God, who would leave 99 sheep to go seek for the straying one, who would leave Heaven behind to find us in our helplessness and then rescue us to freedom.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

Maybe your relationship is buried in the ground for now. Maybe you are bleeding where it was amputated from you, and you can only mourn. Good! There’s a time for that. Let that loss pulse through you and run its full course.

But underneath spans the unshakable safety-net that He is good and wastes nothing. Anything that can be shaken will be shaken, but then that which is eternal is revealed.

“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)

Endings just feel wrong. TV shows, relationships – we get invested. We are made for eternity where no death or separation ever amputates us again, and we get a taste of it here.

The loves who belong in your life, He will return, in His way and His timing.

Trust Him.

“Every day at dusk I chase the sunset, sunset
Looking for a glimpse of Heaven’s skies
I’ve been given a taste for something
That nothing in this world can satisfy
But I know that a time is coming
When I will be in glorious delight”
Kings Kaleidoscope

Closer Than You Know


Predictions have swirled for years. Distant hooves galloping towards us with warnings, almost too surreal to be believed. Though mocked as “sensationalists” and “extremists,” the watchmen nonetheless can’t un-see the approaching dust clouds.

Early in his nightmarish Night, Eli Wiesel introduces his trusted teacher and philosophical mentor, Moshe the Beadle. “I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions,” Moshe tutors, but when he later miraculously escapes Nazi deportation, returns to his Hungarian village, and recounts the horrors he has seen, neither his questions nor his answers are welcome. So when evil kicks through their door of denial, they are unprepared and unprotected. Doomed.

And how do we face the unfathomable? Selling broken babies and stolen children for profit in the U.S., throwing Christian refugees overboard in the waters between Libya and Sicily, raping before discarding young girls in the Islamic State – how do we face that? And what what is the warning implied?

The watchmen see a kaleidoscopic move of brazen barbarianism in “civilized” societies, failing national economies, increasing natural disasters, diseases, distresses – a world spinning out of control, as a new picture emerges into focus.

Old prophecies collide with current events, and it seems this September might be the crash site. Among the voices sounding the alarm, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn urges us to consider the prior years of the Biblical Shemitah (2008: Stock market crash, and 2001: 9/11) – and that this is the year of Jubilee, as well. Mark Biltz alerted us to the historical tetrad phenomena, where blood moons and solar eclipses correspond with Jewish holidays, and Geoffrey Grider has compiled a list of significant world events taking place in the space of 15 days in September. (See below)

It looks as a perfect storm.

When tragedy transformed Moshe the Beadle from teacher to tale-bearer, even the right questions were no longer enough. Though no one would listen to what he had seen, he could never un-see the atrocities burned into his soul. Though he yearned for sleep, even death, the sights and sounds penetrated every fiber of his existence, and he could not be silent.

“Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)

We hear the approaching thunder, and we see the signs in the news. We feel the chill, as the night casts deeper shadows, and our hairs stand up, as we realize: it’s almost here.

We, the people of the King, are not to hide in His palace, but to shine His light into this darkness, a beacon inviting as many as possible inside, while there’s yet time.

We have come for such a time as this!

This is not the end. A new day is rising with healing in its wings for anyone who leaps from this evil furnace into the arms of Goodness Himself. He is light the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that sparkles in life.

“The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the LORD binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.” (Isaiah 30:26)

“Don’t turn away from Me
For My love won’t be undone
Don’t hide your face from Me
For My light has surely come
Surely Come surely come

Lift up your eyes and see
Heaven is closer than you know
Lift up your voice and sing
Know that My love won’t let you go
And I won’t forsake you”
-Hillsong United

Geoffrey Grider’s list:

“September 11th – This year will be the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center. There is a very good likelihood that somewhere either in America or where American interests are concerned that a Muslim terror attack will occur.

September 14th – Rosh Hashanah (with partial solar eclipse)

September 15th – The Jade Helm military exercises are scheduled to end.

September 15th – The 70th session of the UN General Assembly begins on this date. It has been widely reported that France plans to introduce a resolution which will give formal UN Security Council recognition to a Palestinian state shortly after the new session begins.

September 17th – Congress has until this date to vote for or against adopting our Nuclear Treaty with Iran.

September 20th to September 26th – The “World Week For Peace in Palestine Israel” sponsored by the World Council of Churches.

September 21st – The UN International Day Of Peace. Could this be the day when the UN Security Council resolution establishing a Palestinian state is actually adopted?

September 23rd – Yom Kippur

September 23rd – Pope Francis arrives at the White House to meet with Barack Obama. Some have suggested that the timing of this event is highly unusual. Francis is the 266th pope, who will be meeting with President Obama on the 266th day of the year, leading one Internet preacher to wonder if “something is being birthed” on that day, since 266 days is the typical human gestation period from conception to birth.

September 24th – The Pope addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

September 25th to September 27th – The United Nations is going to launch a brand new sustainable development agenda called “The 2030 Agenda“ in New York City. The Pope is actually traveling to New York to deliver an address which will kick off this conference. Unlike Agenda 21, which primarily focused on the environment, the 2030 Agenda is truly a template for governing the entire planet. In addition to addressing climate change, it also sets ambitious goals for areas such as economics, health, energy, education, agriculture, gender equality and a whole host of other issues. This global initiative is being billed as a “new universal Agenda” for humanity.

September 28th – This is the date when the Feast of Tabernacles begins. It is also the date for the last of the four blood moons that fall on Biblical festival dates during 2014 and 2015. This blood moon falls on the very first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, it will be a “supermoon”, and it will be clearly visible from the city of Jerusalem.”