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.

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.

tales from mania, part 2

sirens raced out like morning light on fast forward, quickly waking a sleeping plain.  they interrupt air and quiet, causing dog hair to raise and people to pause and pray. I never thought I’d be be the cause of such commotion.  two men—one tall and brown haired, the other round with a big laugh—strapped me onto the raised, roller emergency bed. they wore bright, rough coats and spoke gently. they strapped me down, with my Bible on my lap. their big black boots thumped down the hospital halls as they wheeled me away.

the lanky one sat in back with me. he hooked me up to a vitals screen. question marks blinked on a couple panels.

ah yes, of course. I’m dead. that’s why the medical gadget can’t find my pulse! HaHA! inner smirk.

“thank you for carrying me,” I said.

“not a problem,” said the medic. “you’re the lightest thing we picked up all day!”

because I’m not here! I’m dead!

two paramedics picked me up and wheeled me off to the back of an ambulance en route to the mental ward. they performed their duty, with grace. my body strapped down, speeding away, meanwhile my mind went on vacation to the Milky Way where stars twirled in deep dark empty space, where lost thoughts shot like pinballs or shooting balls of bright gas, disguised as truth. my own world where I could play and not be chided for saying I died. in my mind, life left my mortal tent long ago.

emergency encounter, part 1

Another girl in the basement of the Emergency Room, broken and maimed by life—like me–sobs and quakes in the corner of her room. She steps out. Wails. I step out. Her bloodshot gaze shoots through me like a bullet.

“Hi, my name’s Annabeth,” I say.

“Charolette,” she says, extending her snotty half gloved hand. I shake it. Her body shakes too, racked with withdrawal, shocked at benevolent touch.

She tells me her story–the equivalent of cobwebs and oil spills, cosmic rush then electrocution and detonation. Hot tears drip from my eyelids, mingling our pain. My throat swallows tightly as I look at the wall.

What can I say?

I reach my arms around her crumpled shoulders, pull them near. We stay caved inward for minutes, like birds landing after working hard and long to stay in the air.

“Can I pray for you?” I say.

Her nod is barely noticeable yet monumental, like beavers high-fiving after constructing their first high rise. I offer a short, sincere petition to the Maker of stars. She leans in harder, squeezing my heart pulp. We let go, touch down in hospital world.

She turns and shuffles back into her area, but not without a smile. The gentle upward curve softening her cheeks and eyes says thank you deeper than words ever do.