that feeling when you get a gift and it’s awesome

hours curled on the kitchen floor, with each sigh and sniffle willing in sunshine or smiles, a new season, something.

when did life get so frowns and tears?

another tissue box shuffle–full to empty. empty and low. the sidewalks notice me. maybe. that’s how i feel.


flipping through this big, ancient, alive book I find this:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

psalm 103:1-5

starving girl, an outward reflection of inner rejection. shredding myself, acidic mantras beaten into brain grooves deep and foreboding… stupid, ugly, never good

enough.

muscles fizz and spasm with unending tension, unable to function. bruised, beaten, distressed.

puffed up mind, torn apart soul

curled like a hedgehog or fallen leaf,

weeping sheepishly on the linoleum tiles

drowning slowly

in shame.


psalm 103:4

:WHO REDEEMS YOUR LIFE FROM THE PIT

how to hope for a saving hand, when already eleven feet under?

this takes Spirit and love beyond the border of stars and dark.

to believe in God though

death steals hearts near yours and

sickness feeds on your very bone marrow.

starving stomach, do you hope for sustenance

deferred heart, do you thump up to beat a melody, still?

dusty drum set

book spine uncracked

how does the lioness mama crouch to pounce after missing potential dinner twenty times

already


the healing came like crocuses and acrobat chickadees after a biting arctic melts under raw sun extract.

the rays of sun, like curls of flame, crackled and licked chilly waves of air. wild and unhindered, the fire consumed old chaff of life. Jesus–my Jesus– purifies my heart, electrifying each notebeat to compose a new rhythm, new land. like a tree gracing the forest ceiling, many take solace in His roots, bark, branches.

 

the healing came slowly then suddenly, and nothing of my own doing.  two cross beams nailed across east and west, Jesus hung there for me. lived and died and lived again. gives me life, too. this i know with all the atoms I’m composed of–He loves me.

dancing with the Author, His hand ever extended, Jesus invites you and me out of the pit. redemption. 

a free gift.

displaced | replaced

displaced affection, worldly lust and gone the wrong direction. no love for You, no fear of You as Almighty God. i exchanged the truth of God for a lie, an adulterer, I ran, giving my heart to whatever. took cover under the world’s ways, ran far astray. lukewarm and doubleminded—a house divided, unsteady like a wave tossed in the ocean. shame blinded me to grace. i hid. sewing fig leaves to cover my skin and sin, exposed under Your all seeing eyes. here I am, three stories deep in sin, trying to believe that You love me. i’m Your enemy, God! Evil, Lord! i’m totally evil. You see all of my thoughts, how they judge people. how i beat myself up. how i worry. how afraid. You see me sinning. how far i feel.

yet my feelings deceive.

You love me.

if I want proof, i only need the cross. You sent Your Son, Jesus, to be with us. to die for us. to rise. You paid our debt, took our punishment. Your blood’s the only cure for our sin sickness. antidote to death. hallelujah–darkness undone.

as i gaze on You, You’ve always already seen me. saw through my disguise. Your eyes well with compassion, gave Your Son up so i could be free.

the Gospel is for people like me. for the ones who struggle. the ones who feel far away. for the one’s who know they’ve done wrong. messed up. given up on themselves. who know they’ll never be good enough. shame and affliction. fear and addiction. weak. poor in spirit. the Gospel is for us.

Gospel equals good news. Gospel is You made a way to Yourself. Gospel is God wants us. in our distress and angst, God reaches out and pursues. a fierce pursuit of a disobedient and obstinate people. sick with sin and utterly unworthy. yet the Maker of the universe says: I want you. the shed blood of an innocent Saviour: proof of this earth-healing Love!

what is this mercy? i do not deserve this. love so ferocious my sin swept into the ocean. weeping with thankfulness. i’m undone in Your arms. broken apart because you love me! you put my puzzle pieces together but a new picture you form, I’m no longer winter storm but a peaceful willow beside a stream, full of life, full of peace. my life dances praise to the one who ransomed me from my soul’s bleak, cold misery to a life of victory. i lift my eyes to look on You always. now i live not for me but for You. rags for riches. dirt for beauty. Jesus, You’re all i have, all i want. the answer to everything, the risen reigning King. break me open pour me out, living sacrifice. worthy worthy worthy. Only You are worthy! a trillion thank you’s. each breath a song of gratitude.

Dare to Believe 

White polka dots twinkle through dark cloak above. To our eyes, these lights shine tiny. In actuality, each one blazes bright and big. 

Like earthly eyeballs and far out stars, perspective counts. 

As humans, we see in part. We never know what the next hour holds, let alone the next day or year. 

Faith is the bridge between God and our limited sight.

In the unknown of life, faith transforms fear to victory. Through simple, childlike trust in Jesus, we’re free from worry and uncertainty.
I may not know it all, but I know the One who knows all–Jesus. Thankfully, He is the only One we need to know! If we have relationship with Jesus, we have life eternally.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:1‭-‬7 ESV

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Hebrews 11:1‭-‬3 ESV

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:8‭-‬13 ESV

Pregnancy Diaries: God is on the throne

Finding out you’re pregnant for the first time = hitting the climax of a rollercoaster then continuing on, being catapulted into the sky. Totally unchartered territory, like clouds and thinning air. A concoction of emotions spit up: ecstasy, joy, gratitude, and the morning sickness puke emotion–oh-crap-how-do-I-be-a-mom?!

then  you remind  yourself: bajillions of parents have given birth successfully, not broken their fragile two day old, navigated toddler tantrums, even survived their teenager’s ‘tude.

…wait. there’s a PERSON inside me! WHAT?!! A person the size of a sesame seed, according to my baby bundle in tummy app thing. How do I even. How do I even begin. How do I even begin to understand this! A sesame seed…

the first few days after finding out the news were filled with high pitched  phone calls with my girlfriends, constipation, thankfulness, and a monster erupting from deep beneath my skin folds. the fear monster, inevitably accompanied by his stinky friend, anxiety.

what if i miscarry? or preterm labor? or the other 408 bad things Google tells me could happen? not to mention all the stories I read online of excruciating birth experiences. an anxiety seeped in and began to constrict my joy, suffocated my heart. not to mention my years of insecurity mounting surrounding motherhood.

God! I cried, Help! Free me from fear and anxiety! Help me trust You. Make my body a safe, healthy, peaceful place for our baby. May I be a temple of Your Holy Spirit, Lord Jesus. 

at that time, a song came on Pandora: On the Throne by Kari Jobe.

I will walk through the valley of fear
I will walk through the storm
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome

For the Lord is
He is able, He is faithful
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne

I will walk in Your promise
Walk in Your victory
I will walk in Your power
I won’t be overcome, I won’t be overcome

For the Lord is
He is able, He is faithful
Higher than the mountains that I face
Every season, I will press on
For God alone, is on the throne

yes! My soul screamed in relief. God IS on the throne! At this, fear shrunk back and anxiety fled.

each moment, life and death are set before us. each moment, a choice. each moment, I can choose. I can choose fear, worry, doubt, self-centeredness, flesh. Or I can choose to trust God, to listen to Him, to obey Him, and to know: He is on the throne!

On The Throne by Kari Jobe

love display

innocent lamb
led to slaughter
our punishment
poured on Him
because of love
His body torn and broken
raw & ripped open
He died in our place
(willingly)
took our shame
bore our weakness
sin and sickness
pierced arms stretched wide
blood tide flowing from your hands and side
removing sins
inviting us in
embracing the broken

spotless lamb

perfect sacrifice

He hung in the sky
crossbeam lifted high
hope realized
love displayed
crimson droplets fell
splattering thirsty earth
the holes in His hands
make us whole
all our shame erased
by grace
He’s the answer to our soul—
Jesus

trickles of blood
droplets of mercy
breathed his last
(it is finished)
temple curtain torn in two
earth shook
rocks split
tombs opened
the dead breathe again
raised to life
victorious one
walks out the tomb,
setting us free
victorious King
fierce Father
beautiful Savior
waterfall of life
galaxies of grace

He hung in the sky
crossbeam lifted high
hope realized
love displayed
crimson droplets fell
splattering thirsty earth
the holes in His hands
make us whole
all our shame erased
by grace
He’s the answer to our soul—
Jesus

God’s wrath for our sins
poured on Jesus—
Just and Justifier
finally satisfied,
now we’re His bride
washed white
adorned in beauty
holy, set apart for the sake of God’s glory

He hung in the sky
crossbeam lifted high
hope realized
love displayed
crimson droplets fell
splattering thirsty earth
the holes in His hands
make us whole
all our shame erased
by grace
He’s the answer to our soul—
Jesus

if i ever doubt God’s love
the cross forever seared
on my heart
reminds me
of truth
my one true love
now we’re His bride
washed white
adorned in beauty
holy, set apart for the sake of God’s glory

mental ride, part 3

two paramedics wheeled me to the tall grey mental hospital. blurry paperwork, scribbled signature, an indefinite smile on my face. checked in, locked down.

another patient confronted me; I acted back. bubbly nurse lady escorted me to the quiet room, bolting the door shut. small chamber with padded walls and lone bed. kneeling, I cried  for love. my stomach folded and my mind raced figure eights through quick sand, oasis, ocean, and space. it travelled at record speeds, incomprehensible and lost. a realm unknown to man, I forged new frontiers—insanity disguised as genius, brain deceiving itself. my slow body slumped on the floor.

 

woe when my brain and body eventually matched up.

mashed potatoes

meatloaf

chocolate milk

hairnet lunch lady smiled

scooped carrots

man tranquilized mid-meal

again.

 I observed outside world through window dotted with tint. a foot clinic. roads. trees. birds dancing midsky. mountains crisp against dull blue backdrop. 

after each meal, we walked the unit. digging a trench in the linoleum floor, the other patients and I circled the ward. beautiful nature scenes, oversized and framed, lined the outside of the narrow hallway. the wall pattern: door door waterfall door door forest door door mossy rocks door flowers door door pond. My mind escaped the trapped place, traipsed out into the brilliant scenes. fields and flowers, passing hours upon hours in the desolate plain. waiting for it to rain. or snow, some form of precipitation. I wanted participation in the bright symphony outdoors. my soul choked in the hallway. desert spread through my throat. seven days enclosed in stained off-white hospital walls, my brain’s off switch slowly flipping to on. I missed fresh air the most.

like a cat trapped in carrier, I clawed, silently asking how do I get out of here?

I scrawled notes with the golf pencil and tiny notebook provided:

charge nurse: Charolette

Med nurse: ?

take meds

ask Tim for help

schedule on wall

follow schedule

take showers

I found my brain in the water. the scalding drops seared my shoulders crimson. I scrubbed my scalp for the second time that day. the warm sensation soothed a body disconnected from brain, brought mind down from spaceship ride, touching to earth with a soft pouft.

whoever has ears to hear…

Close your eyes. Listen. 

Till the thoughts spill out your mind onto a blank canvas of quiet.

(this takes time. stillness requires patience…)

Listen. Until time hits the brakes, until tasks fade.

and you simply are.

Busyness melting away, distraction destroyed.

When the fabric of your soul mirrors glassy motionless water and its weaves loosen, allowing things like grace and love to settle in.

Hear God’s whisper beat a song on your eardrum.

See the wind waltz with branches and leaves.

Breath inflating then deflating chest,

lungs no longer vacuum bags full of stress and soot,

but hopeful clouds with rain cascading down, evaporating up—a refreshing cycle.

Look up, heart.

and listen.

Pause the music. stop the tv chatter. listen.

Quiet’s uncomfortable…

(but do comfortable people grow?)

Quiet like a cave. like planets gliding through deep dark space.

Quiet like the forest, save for birds and trees.

Listen—hear the earth’s cry.

Stop long enough to be woken up.

World broken. world bleeding.

In our innermost chambers, we all know

we weren’t made to drown

but to soar!

Look at this dirty and disgraced, sad and out of place bluegreen marble.

Broken homes, broken bones, tear drops, break ups, death.

Suicide, flooding, miscarriage, abortion, murder.

Divorce, cancer, disease, loss.

House fires, gossip, lies, overdoses, pain, scars.

Look at the news, at a  young child’s tantrum, inside you.

The fact that dust collects on ledges

and shelves proves

this world’s fallen.

Since the the first human sinned, all inherit infection.

That minor chord creating discord in each human

longs to be restored.

Some look to sex. others, a bottle. others, a cigarette.

Some cut, some shop, others eat or go to people.

Regardless of how you deal, we’re all seeking a filling for the black hole in our soul.

I’ve looked to ideals, I strove for perfection.

Created me-centered dreams that—if they only happened—would solve my being’s puzzle.

I idolized marriage and a husband.

“he’ll fulfill me,” I thought. “I know it!”

After 26 years of looking to people and grades, dreams and ideals, perfection and travel… I sit next to you on this 5 second bench called life, testifying: it’s all empty. Whatever your “numb”-er of choice is (alcohol, food, drugs, sex, tv, busyness, social media), it’s all the same and it’s not working. when you slow down and listen, you’ll see… empty.

And if you try to stop sending your hungry heart down that same dead end road, it’ll only go down another. Transferring heart throb from one idol to another is a maddening hamster wheel of meaningless unrest.

The Bible says our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). The answer is not behavior modification, we need intervention to be saved from self destruction! And we’re completely incapable of doing so ourselves. We are born disobedient. Since the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, death entered the human race and we’re infected with this sickness called sin.

Here’s where the hope comes in.

A Saviour is necessary—someone who saves those who cannot save themselves (everyone). This is accomplished through grace. God’s holy. He cannot be in the presence of sin. Because He loves us, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to be the bridge between us and Him.

God is also just. As a just judge, He cannot allow our sin to go unpunished. When Jesus died and rose again, He bore God’s wrath for our sin. Like the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament that foreshadowed Him, Jesus is the spotless lamb. The once and for all sacrifice, Jesus bore the punishment for all who believe in Him. Now each person, if they choose Jesus as their Lord, are invited into His very near presence—what every heart longs for. This isn’t a light matter… to have a Lord means total submission, every thought taken captive to scripture, each moment surrendered, life. laid. down.

Ultimately, it’s all about God. Everything. Even the cross is for His glory.

Close your eyes. Listen. Do you hear?

Listen.