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.

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

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.

newlywed thoughts

Strapless off- white, pristine fondant, waterfalling flowers, lace and burlap. Pinterest weddings paint a picture of perfection. Everything personalized and do it yourself. Expensive and hand picked. The bride’s every wish realized.

The only problem—marriage isn’t about you. The opposite: marriage is about selflessness. To demand the first day to go your way or the highway, ladies, is to setup expectations destined for destruction.

Going into marriage, I made up expectations. Thought up the perfect version of me, of him, of us. This picture, in my mind and heart—galaxies from 3D reality. As daily living became spills and stains, my mind’s picture failed. Somehow, I wasn’t Wonder Woman and he wasn’t Prince Charming. We were two sinners living together. I sunk, grasping for a handle, gasping for oxygen, whooshing down a mountainside, wide eyed. Dirty laundry and concocting dinner, cuddles and navigating differing opinions.

As the man and woman composing a marriage are imperfect, marriage is far from perfect. To devise an imagined way things should be is to ask for disappointment. The only perfect marriage is Christ and His Bride the church.

Marriage is:

metaphor of Christ & church

sacrifice.

messy.

vulnerable.

hard.

worth it.

beautiful.

intimate.

commitment.

continual engagement.

seeking.

inhaling your exhale.

sacred.

hugging.

grace.

Gospel platform.

pursuit.

forgiveness.

harmonious.

a daily choice.

covenant.

selfless.

worshipping Jesus.

“no matter what.”

not about you.

Looking to eternity, marriage is about God’s glory. When both hearts are lodged in Jesus, eyes upward and legs kneeling, it works. Marriage is no longer a focus. God is the focus. Just like focusing on a wedding suffocates a couple, idolizing a marriage shortchanges God. God jealously yearns for the spirit He made to dwell in us.

Two dust forms, melded together by the Master’s fingertips. One clay mold composed of two rebellious hearts beating after the jaded jungle of self, envy, lust, greed, pride.

The solution? A substitution—one died for all so all who believe can live. Now we lay our life down. One’s desire died for good of two becoming one so God is glorified. In God’s eyes, already one. On earth, daily moving towards unity—each moment an opportunity to choose each other again. Soul’s starving not met in flesh and blood but looking to Christ for relief. Heart sigh—needs met in Saviour. Husband free to succeed, to fail, to soar, to be himself. Freed of wife’s expectations. Grace blankets us, covering our evil. We dance tuesday, sunday, thursday, days between. We dance, cold, wet grass between our toes. Spinning stars sing over ourself, one in the silent sway of mystery—two becoming one.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Ephesians 5:22-33

Finally, some advice to the engaged woman. This is a time to prepare for the rest of your life together. Pray for your husband. Read God’s Word. Ask God to prepare your heart to be one with your husband. Take it from someone who learned the hard way—don’t obsess over a wedding. It only leads to heartache. Obsess over Jesus. He’ll take care of the rest.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

To the dating, don’t allow your identity to become wrapped up in your significant other. Put God first. I’ve tried millions trillions 65 zillion times to have my heart’s longings satisfied by a man. It is a dead end. Only the Maker of hearts can satisfy the heart. Trust me, I’ve learned that lesson numerous times, and always the difficult heartache break ouch way. Save yourself the trouble. Be loved by Jesus.

Save sex for marriage. God designed sex to be only between husband and wife. A way of being one. Any sex (or messing around) outside marriage only leads to emptiness and harm. God created sex! He knows best! Sleeping together outside of marriage is sexual immorality, which is sin. If you already messed up, don’t despair–Jesus died for us! Hear the good news: He died as the penalty for your sin. If you repent and turn from your sin, believe in Jesus, God will forgive you and you begin a relationship with Him!

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body.  Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,  for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NLT

Only date someone you can see yourself marrying. And wait on God’s timing. I knew a month into meeting my husband that he was going  to be my husband. A year and a half later, he popped the question. If only I was patient and trusted God. Instead, I was an impatient mess, constantly wondering why he hadn’t proposed yet! I am SO grateful God did not allow me to have my way. If we had gotten married when I wanted to, it would have been very difficult as I was not strong in my faith. God grew me, then we got married. Then I grew more. Marriage is very sanctifying!

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

To those who desire to be married but God’s said not yet, trust God and seek Him. Become the person  you want to marry. You can pray for your future spouse. My husband’s prayers, years before we ever met, brought me across the country and into his arms. Remember–prayer is powerful! God’s timing is perfect!

Don’t waste your singleness. God is our purpose. Singleness, whether a season or a calling, is an opportunity to wholeheartedly serve the Lord!

I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.  But a married man has to think about his earthly responsibilities and how to please his wife.  His interests are divided. In the same way, a woman who is no longer married or has never been married can be devoted to the Lord and holy in body and in spirit. But a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities and how to please her husband.  I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.

1 Corinthians 7:32-25 NLT

If you’ve been wounded by a broken marriage, come to Christ Jesus. He can heal you.

To all, love God and love others. That is why we are here.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Matthew 22:36-39 NLT

a prayer for people

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-6-27-50-pm

Lord Jesus,

in an ever changing world, I praise how You never change. In a world of unpredictability, You are sure and faithful. In a world of loss and heartache, I praise You that nothing can separate me from Your love, not even death. You are my eternal comfort. When I feel like no one else understands, You understand perfectly. God, thank You I never need to fear because You are with me. Thank You I have nothing to worry about because You are sovereign. You’re Lord of the past, Lord of the future, God with us now. Help our souls to stop striving, stop trying to do life on our own. There is no life apart from You. Help us receive You and rest in You. You are good. You know what You’re doing. Thank You! in Your name, Amen.

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Romans 8:38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angles nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 147:5
His understanding has no limit.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

Matthew 1:23
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Psalm 136:1
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.