Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Welcome to our world

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited Holy Stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home
Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome To Our World
Welcome To Our World

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born
So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God
Welcome To Our World

original Christmas song written by Maryland native Chris Rice and recorded by Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant and John Tesh

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What if I miss it?

What if I miss it?

The beauty of this season marred.
By loss and anxiety and things that really wound.

A young mother in the prime of life.

A loss leaving us reeling.
Barely able to cope.
Most of us.  On some level.
By disappointment and despair.

What if I miss it? 

The merry of Christmas.

Not showing up as expected.
The sorrow and what ifs threatening to crush.
And my own lack blowing up in my face.

Filling this space I call Christmas. 
With noise.
With political correctness.
With busy.

And then.  Something helps us remember.

Not to miss.

The humble birth in a stable. 
Holy God.
Coming gentle at Christmas.
Wooing our hearts.  Whispering love.

A night shimmering and we all shivering to remember glory coming down.

And then the coming off the tree.  Years later.
Shivers again.
Holy God.  Suffering.
And then.
Announcing grace.  With fanfare.

Answering the pain in our hearts with a love song.

So maybe this Christmas.
The tree's not up.  Cards not sent.  Maybe not feeling like it.

But still.
Doesn't have to be missed.

Because of Christmas; the manger scene.
Because of Easter; the tree.  And then.  An empty tomb.

And so everyday.
A relationship with Holy God.

Our beautiful sweet friend didn't miss it.
And though we miss her.

She.  Beholding the glory.
Of which we only get a glimpse.  Right now.

Because of.

A shimmering night when everything changed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Until the whole picture changes

The phone rings.  This morning.
A surgeon's office calling.
After weeks of lying low; healing eluding.
This may be the answer.
Almost a relief.  This.  Almost.

Turning to my window, hungry for goodness.
Searching the vista.
And I see.

A grey November-breaking morning.
Treetops waving furiously; tall trunks reaching skyward, silhouette-like dark.
A riot of color spiraling down; leaves falling like small torpedoes.
Unleashed against shades of steel; the sky. 
The green expanse beneath covering with autumn color.
A season falling hard.

And so we all.  At times.
And some - so much harder than my own.
I know.

And yet.  For us all. 

Of uncertainty, pain and loss.
Tragedy even.
The being side-lined.
And the waiting.
For change.  Healing.  Relief.
Better news.

Clouds scuttling angry now.
The muted light of wild November sky.
Speaking to my heart.  This beauty fierce.

And downstairs.
Another view from a window.  If you were to peer inside.

The house rolled up, put away, covered.
Also waiting.  For normalcy.  Here too.
Workmen noisy tearing out.  Walls demolished.
A bin loaded full.  Overflowing even. 
With the old, the worn-out.  To be replaced.
Weeks of waiting.  In disarray.

Dishes piled high in a bathroom sink.
Picnics from my bed.

When nothing is as it should be.
When unexpected drops in to call.
When the pain won't stop.
And walls come crashing down.

When winds blow hard and leaves fall.
And seasons change.

There is beauty still.

And I have watched.  From a window.
The changing.  Summer warm to fall.
Framed each day within the panes of glass.
Like a silent movie of old; each frame slightly different.
Until the whole picture changes.
Into something new.

And though I expect it.  In the seasons.
And love this ever changing vista.
I am always surprised. 

Preferring instead a modern movie; my life.
Frames changing faster.  Prettier.  Happier.
Glamorous and exciting.
Resolution within two hours.
A good ending.

But, really.  I know better.
Life is hard.
And I continue to be surprised.
When the everyday, ordinary isn't good enough.

But what if it were.  Good enough?

If walls had to come down
and lives had to slow 
and seasons had to change.
To bring the new.
To redeem.

A bird soars high overhead.  Above the treetops.

Unexpected goodness too.
In every season.

This beauty fierce.

While we wait.  While we struggle.
Until the whole picture changes into something new.

God redeeming.

In the beautiful ordinary everyday.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

This. Exploding.

Running down the narrow street.
Anxious to see better.  The view.
A vista unveiling; grandeur unedited.
Never failing to impress.

Just an autumn Saturday; unexpected and mesmerizing.
The telling of glory.

Worth the hunt.  Worth the chase.
Nature exploding. 
For all to see.

In the midst of ordinary.  Every day.

Homes built to see it. 
Tables set before it.
Windows thrown open wide to it. 
Weddings planned around it.  Vacations too.

This glory.
This telling of the heavens.
Thrilling us.
Stirring the soul.

The reasons artists paint and architects draw and photographers snap.
Lovers linger and climbers climb and people take delight.  In the beauty.

A rainbow arcing high.
Waves crashing wild on sand.
Galaxies strewn across inky black.

A window. To something greater.
Than ourselves.
The going public of infinite God. 

And the heavens are telling.

Our hearts made for this.   
Because, on some level, us all; chasing.
That which fills us to the brim.

Taking our conflicted, emotional, soul-searching lives.
And filling us.
The goodness.  Pointing.
As good as this is.  There is more.
And I run.  With my camera.  Snapping glimpses of God.

Life is hard. Sometimes stories harsh. 
But into this realness, the broken of life.  God has spoken.
Nature pointing. 

No fuller or more final expression of God.
Than Jesus.

Deep calling to deep.
The roar of the waterfalls.
The waves and breakers sweeping over me.

And God.  Is there.

Unfathomable love painting the skies.
Raising the sun.
Sustaining the universe.

And my heart running each day.
Breathless for this love story.

The angels know.  Creation knows.
Beauty only pointing.
To the author.
And sustainer and redeemer. 
Of this world.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.

My camera points. 
And my heart responds.
Beauty exploding.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer dancing with fall

It has been different this year.  Not a bad different; just different.
Never before glancing at the clock, a few minutes to go, the numbers relentlessly changing, moving ever forward.  A tide unstoppable, finally lining up; midnight.  Turning sixty.  Never before so reflective at the passing of an hour. 

In awe even.  Of this passage of time.  Seasons changing.

Earlier on the patio the very fullness of summer.  Air thick with cicadas, flowers bursting from pots, barefoot and carefree with air warm and starry sky filling.

But, ever so subtle.  Crickets too and geese overhead and a few leaves changing color.  The fire pit welcoming.  Evening soon turning to chill.

Summer dancing with fall.

A beautiful thing really.  The merging of seasons, this overlap of beauty surrounding.  This dance.  And so the passage of time. 
Also of beauty.  This life we have to live well. 
Wrinkles reminding, birthdays celebrating.

But even more than that.  This time.  Even more.  Another season colliding head on.

An injury sidelining.  A sister encouraging.  My own heart yearning.

A time to slow.  A season.  To do things differently.
From busyness and distractions and the constant doing.

And what I found.

Summer.  Beautiful Summer. 

Warm and gentle and unhurried.
Turning it's head right there in the slow; my quiet pursuit.  With God.

And in choosing slow.  Over time.
Giving up the frantic, the wild hanging-on, the paddling upstream.

Instead, life in the moment; holy ground.


And now.  Summer's end.
Candles glowing.  Evenings lingering.  To savor. 

Because other seasons fall hard.

Losing jobs, losing friends, losing health, losing hope.  This brokenness. 
Sometimes deep and razor sharp.  Finding sorrow part of our lives.

But what I've learned in the summer, turning fall; shocking grace. 
God redeeming. A faithful Father. Relationship.  Every day.
Filling my heart. Forgiving me.  Amazing me.  Asking for a dance.
Unfathomable love.

That's the thing to be in awe of.

Not the turning of a clock or the passing of a year.
Not that.  But God filling.

Summer dancing with fall; reminding.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Reflections upon 9/11

Reflections today
Taken yesterday in Washington, D.C.

Remembering  . . .  the wars fought, the lives lost, the battles continuing.

Our forefathers, the brave men and women of today, their families.
Sacrificing, suffering loss, serving still; praying together.
One Nation Under God.
Reflections today.

Beauty reminding in the summer night.
This republic on a bright and shining hill.
But never to forget.  9/11 reminding.  To pray. 
For our leaders.  For our country.  For freedom.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September summer

                                                Welcome to 10 on 10 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Like a lover's kiss

Getting away.
The last days of summer.
Squeezing hard the pursuing.
For rest.  And beauty. 
To just be.

And so we hit the road.
My man and me.
Just a bag and a camera.
Some books and a journal.
To celebrate what is.

And what we found.
By letting go.  Traveling light.
Conversation good; unraveling life.
Beauty-surrounding goodness.
Soaking it in; this unencumbered.
The unhurry; days full of slow to recapture our hearts.

Living the moment; savoring well.
Kisses stolen.  A playful grin.
Laughing and teasing and drinking in new.
Tables on street corners under the moon.
A quiet understanding; a girl and her man.

But ahh, now it's Monday.
Home.  Missing then.

Somehow it's different.
And no going back.
Life stretches forward.

And I am reminded. 
How we are wired; how put together. 
To enjoy and live full; this life.
To pursue the romance.
The happiness, joy.

But the stuff here on earth.
Comes too quickly to end.
And the arrows and disappointments fall hard.

And the happiness trips. We fall in pursuit.
Of things not fulfilling.  Disappointing.  Again.

And as good as a trip with a man I adore.

The getting away, the romance, the fun.
The beauty of seasons colliding.

There is more.

Journal filling.  Eyes wide open.
Turning pages. Conversations deep. Hungry for God in the beauty of slow.

And then.
Grace falling like rain.
Helping me breathe. 
Helping me live.  Seeing truth.

The stunning love of God.

And like a lover's kiss. 
The response comes easy.

Pure and simple.
For this sacred romance.

To be loved so by God.
Unconditionally.  Unfathomably. 

No difficult task; loving back.
It's the sense of duty that kills.

And just like the joy in spending time with my man.
And the extravagant goodness of being away.
So, too, the joy even better.
This worship.  Of God the Creator.

And me.  Delighting in God.

All else. This past week. 
All the goodness.
A sweet gift. 
From God.

And so I miss that time tucked away.
And I am grateful for my sweet man.

But this I remember on Monday.
And all days in between.

Happiness.  Joy. 
Within our grasp.

In delighting in God.
The Sacred Romance.

And my response.
Easy. Like a lover's kiss.

On a Monday morning.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

That's all

I push "publish" and cringe.

Funny, though. I push the pen and I'm thrilled.  To express my heart. 
And my words empty my soul and fill the page until I can breathe again.  Writing my fears, my thoughts, my prayers - to God.  A very personal penning.  For years.

But then the blog.  A new world opening; shimmering with the joy of finding others feeling just as I do.  In their brokenness, in their fears and in their quest to find God in their lives.  And I am thrilled again.  By their story.

And I can't help myself.  I join the throng.  Having been to New Jersey at Christmas on a mission trip; the inspiration.  Taking pictures.  Writing about the stories there.  After Hurricane Sandy.

And now.  Barely able to get anything else done.  This passion to read.  To write. 

But mostly, this insatiable quest in a bruised heart.  To find more of God. 

Because in the telling of stories; the messy, the raw, the embarrassing even.   We begin to heal.  Our messy spilling out on a page.  Just to know we're not alone. 

And we need each other.

And so, a blog.  Often misunderstood and overlooked by some.

But for others.  A place to heal.  Finding God shining through the cracks of our brokenness.  Helping us in the struggle to keep our eyes on Him.  In telling our story.

God entering that space.  And it becoming a sanctuary.

I love Ann.  And I wonder why I even try.  She does it so well. 

But she encourages.  She needs our stories.  We need hers.  And in seeing her so vulnerable and how it has helped me heal,  I am also vulnerable.  It humbles me.  And reminds me that I, like everyone else, struggle.  And life hits hard. 

Sometimes we cover it up so well.

So, here, on these pages.  Just a telling.  A story.  Of a girl and a life.
And a God who does not disappoint.  In the daily, the hurts, the messy of life.
He shows up. 

And messy pointing us to God; His grace and truth.  Holy ground.

And so I push "publish" and cringe.   
Praying God will use my messy to bless.
That's all. 
That would be really good.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

To really learn

I pick up my pen.  Thankful.
For pen and paper.
How I live; writing.
Writing.  Reading.  Thinking.

This time; different.  The reading.
A new discipline challenges. 
And not just for the moment.
Or a day or two.  And losing momentum.
Not this time.

This time.  To really learn. 

It is one thing to read a book and appreciate. 
To have it resonate.  Deeply.
Or to listen to words and agree with the heart.
Truth to rejoice over. 
And to rejoice. 

But in the rereading.
Of 1000 Gifts.  Written by Ann.
Something more getting my attention.

And I'm listening.

Because the worry of life. 
The un-trust. The discontent.
So much to burden the heart. 
So much to slow the soul.

Worry, complaint, anger; our natural default. Fighting hard for self. 
Hiding the fear.  The angst.  The questioning.
The whys of the not-enough riddling our soul.

And so it resonates.  This story.  1000 Gifts.
In someone like Ann. 
Sharing her journey; so raw, so intimate, so brave.
So riveting; a best-seller.

God-glimmering truth through the cracks of the pain of this world.

Because he, the enemy, not winning the battle.

Already won. By God.

It was in the upper room that Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup.
For us to remember.
And giving thanks.  Always giving thanks. To the Father.
Knowing what was asked of Him.  The cross.

But giving thanks.  Jesus.

Me; having to be reminded.

In all things, give thanks.

And so I am reading again and counting.
Counting 1000 gifts.
Having counted a year ago.  And then again another time.
And then forgetting.  Losing the tablet.
Somewhere in a drawer.

Friends sometimes mocking.
I joining in. 
Ann even; questioning. At first.
Can it really be this simple?

The living full?

Because some days and some events tugging hard against us; being grateful.
Questioning a sovereign God.

But this I know. 
Life was not created solely for my happiness.
Even the thought; embarrassed laughter. 
And yet.  Living like I think so.  Sometimes.  Much too often.

Ann helping me remember.

And, more importantly, to learn.
To really learn.
The discipline required.  The coaxing on a hard day.
To count gifts.  To be grateful.

Writing it down.  Making a list.
So the default in my head changes.

The new default; gratitude.
By making lists.
#301. a quiet house
#302. good conversation
#303. sky rumbling with thunder
#304. summer warm on the patio
#305. stars coming out one by one
#306. the silhouette of pines tall 

And joy even and giddy happiness.  In the naming of gifts.

Appreciating what I overlook and do not see.  Usually.
By not picking up pen and paper.
Or my camera.

But to really learn; discipline transforming.  Worth the effort.
The lens changing everything.

#307. picturesque old barn in summer
#308. wooden rail fence zig-zagging across meadow
#309. window full of wondering high on a house
#310. dandelions dancing
#311. cornflower blue doors welcoming

And the ordinary, everyday; becoming holy ground.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

We have this treasure

We have this treasure.
In jars of clay.

Pondering the verse.
Wondering the implications.
My life.  Now.

A jar of clay.
Nothing fancy.
Liable to brokenness.
And often the feeling.  Indeed.
Cracked, broken, stretched  . . .

The verse continues.
Hard pressed on every side; but not crushed.
Perplexed; but not in despair.
Persecuted; but not abandoned.
Struck down; but not destroyed.

And the reason.
Jesus.  The Lamb of God.
Our treasure.

Therefore, we do not lose heart.

And yet we do, at times.
Lose heart.
And so the encouragement.

Reminding.  Again and again.
Life is at work in us.  Grace unfolding. 
We have this treasure.
To live full even when the vessel weakens.
Even when hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, struck down.

And the why.


With the resources of heaven available.
To come down from that cursed tree.
Instead, he stayed. 
He hung.

For love.

Desiring restored relationship.  Intimacy even.
A love story.
Making all others, beautiful as they are; pale.
In comparison.

Even watching a sweet proposal such as this.

Engaging the heart.  Soaring on joy. Just to watch the unfolding.
Of love.  The romance of the heart. 
And that with my man.  Meant to be.  Grateful always.

But this love affair with Jesus.  Something much more.
What my weary heart created for.

The Sacred Romance.
Only He filling our longings.
Wooing the heart with grace and truth.
Always the bride. 

We don't know God until we know Him as a lover.

Unfathomable.  Indescribable.
This love story.
This treasure in jars of clay.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Probably not

Just get over yourself!

I wrote these words, laughing, on the big kitchen chalkboard.
Finally, after the tension, laughing; me and my husband.  My best friend.

For I had asked him.  Again.
Asked others.
Read my own words - back to myself.
Desperate for answers.  This new season.  This life I have.
Not content being me.  Needing to be more. 
Never enough.

And I have to tell you.
The veil parted.
This time.

I got it.

After endless searching.  The asking.  The deep sorrowing.
Looking for truth.  The mirror up.  Seeing the ugly.


With myself.
With others.

How in the world to do it all?

Just get over yourself!
How easy to say.  How easy to laugh.
But how readily the inward groan when these words do not resonate.
To feel not enough.  To wonder the whys.

Expectations from childhood high and unattainable.
Cries from a pulpit resonating deep.
Opportunities round the globe.  Ministry.
Endless needs.

And my heart shuts down.
In the fear.  In the striving. 
Expectations.  Of others.  Of myself.

Where to start?  What to do?
Tired.  Overwhelmed.
Trying hard to meet. 
Sometimes only in my head.
To do what is required, what is asked, again and again.

But the striving to be what you are not; a dangerous road.

And in the studying and in the doing and in the asking.
Weariness and joy-gone and exasperation. 
Shame.  Inverted pride.
Not the pretty.  Nothing pleasing about it. 
For anyone.

So one last time.  Asking.
The words hanging in the air, coming between us.
My man and me.

And then I hear.

The words gushing forth like a runaway garden hose.
Filling the air with sound and gesture; hilarious.
But serious truth.
Impassioned.  Eloquent. Humorous. Unscripted.
Raw feelings expressed in the ordinary. 
Getting my attention.

And to sum it up.  What he says.

Hear me good. You are enough.
Do you think you have to save the world?
Get over yourself!

And I.
Shocked and grateful for the hearing.
Details eluding me already.  The impact full.
Wishing I could replay.
To remember. The truth I hear.
Standing stark and naked between us.

Hitting my heart like a tsunami.
Flooding me with relief.
To be myself.

And then I laugh.
We laugh together.

Jesus came to save the world.
Not I.
Not even a little bit.

Remembering other words.
Reminding me again.

"Come to me."
"All you, who are weary and burdened."

Maybe you.
Needing to hear.
To be reminded.

"Come to me."

What our relational God desires.
For this we were created.

"Come to me all you, who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest."

When we get over ourselves, the road takes a turn.
Taking us down a different path.
A life consumed with God.  Not self.
Not the measuring of the doing and the accomplishing; endless striving.

This time pleasing God.

But pleasing others; those mad-dash attempts to feel good about ourselves.
Nothing more than a dead end street.

"For I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls."

Someone that good, that merciful, that gentle with us.
And me so undeserving.

Bubbling up goodness from my heart in gratitude.
Living a life to please Him.
The answer.
The road to take.

Struggles constantly reminding.

"Come to me."

And it is good.  So good.
Words on the blackboard.
In big letters.  Laughing.  Rejoicing. 

Do I think I have anything good to offer to anyone before I get over myself first?
Probably not.