Broken Beauty

I remember that Sunday morning meeting when she dragged her ragged soul in all beaten back and bruised by words. Her heart bleeding tears as she stood there barely standing.

Barely breathing.

But it was when she stretched out her trembling hands to receive a body broken and bled for her that a lump caught in my throat and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything more beautiful. Humility and weakness at the presence of the table and it took me back.

Way back.

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To a strong buff man who in the eyes of his four year old daughter could do anything, pulling me close and whispering words of salvation to a pig-tailed girl in gingham before I could even begin to comprehend what it meant.  And he’d show me by taking it how real it could be. How much we needed it. How it was never to be taken for granted this grace spilling our cups full.  And I drank it in…every word. And swallowed it down how much I loved Jesus.

But sometimes it takes the bottom of the bucket falling out a few times before one realizes just how much Jesus loves me.

Today we weary ones filed in and the band sang out:

“You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone…You split the sea
So I could walk right through it
All my fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me
So I could stand and sing
I am child of God…”

And the word we try to pack up neatly in a box and slam the closet door fast so we don’t have to stare it hard in the eye was breathed out loud and it clean grabbed the breath right out of me. Because behind every white lie, and every broken heart is fear. It’s what keeps us awake at night and gnaws on us as we push hard through the day and it’s a slave driver that has no mercy swallowing us up in depths of despair.

And I sing louder beating back fear with truth because I know that I know that I know….

“I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God”

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I toss it all…and the need to be put together…at the feet of of the One who paid my ransom and I stand up to walk broken. Right down the aisle up to the table where brokenness is declared beauty; weakness–strength. Tears mingled with bread and the cup and in front of all these witnesses I pronounce in receiving You are enough. You are enough for this season of unknown.  You are enough for my weakness. You are enough for me not being enough. You are enough when I may not have enough. You Are. Not You Were or You Will Be. Your name is…

I AM.

And sometimes? Just sometimes you need to swallow it all down with one ample helping of this yumminess while remembering there is no striving, no striving…only holding fast…holding tight…to what you’ve already been given.  Stand firm in grace friend!

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This treasure found here in this delightful kitchen: http://www.lynnskitchenadventures.com/2013/02/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-banana-bars.html

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All Is Grace

There’s times when you know you’ve grown.

Like the time you were strong enough to say no to that extra slice of cake (I’m still working on it) or yes to truth telling when a lump in the throat is sure to hold you back. But you know you’ve really grown when you stare your deepest darkest fear square in the face and the monster that was hairy and green with fiery eyes and horns growing clean out of its head is simply a girl…your girl…retching in the parking lot of a gas station. And you find yourself not shaking a bit or breathing hard to stay present, but stooping to push soiled hair from a tear stained face whispering it’s going to be ok only this time meaning it instead of wishing it. And in this out of body moment you grasp for the first time that ALL the crazy good and bad sum up the adventure of life.

And we only get to live it once.

I’m usually the one picking the red m&m’s out of the bunch instead of swallowing them all down together.

I turn to glance out the window and there they are. All lined up on the sill, healing in these bottles. It hits home, it really is all grace. We’re all sick as dogs and I’m giddy with joy.

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Amazing the freedom when fear’s set free. And I can’t believe it’s taken me a lifetime for it to sink in and take root.

Drink.It.In!

Embrace each moment for what it is. This ugly turned beautiful with pure lavish grace all joy for the taking.

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Hope Blooms

“Do not fear death, but rather the unlived life. You don’t have to live forever. You just have to live. And she did.” Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

We walk them to the bus their shoulders bent, laden with cares of a Monday and my heart is breaking before the sun climbs high in the sky.  It’s not as easy as handing them their blankies anymore to ease pain, and hugs only go so far.  But I do know who goes with them and I need Him right now as much as them so I grab coffee in hand and stumble out into this drizzly grey morning to pace the streets and whisper His name.

My friend Sally knows it better than most that what we really need above anything else is Jesus.  And sometimes the best prayer for someone is His name.

In the middle of pleas for “help Jesus” and “increase my faith” and “don’t let me get stuck trying to live the safe life for myself….for my children” I stumble upon themOut of weeds and summer’s grass fading hope grows.  Hope lives.  Hope blooms where it is planted. And Hope changes everything.

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Suddenly I’m alive. I can choose to really live or just live to get by.  I can keep wishing the days away until we’ve all arrived or relish in the stops along the way however painful they may be.

It truly is all in the journey and fear will forever steal joy.

I pause, tears mingling with rain, and somehow I’m all smiles this girl surprised by joy.

Picnic at Summer’s End (when I’m really at my end)

Somedays one needs to slip away and soak in all this unadulterated beauty.

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Even Jesus knew the loud gets louder and the clamor of crowds make hearing the Word harder. So we slipped away with picnic in hand and some journals and sand toys and I don’t remember breathing so deeply.

And with each breath burdens lifted. Suddenly it got a whole lot easier to be brave because when fear is greater than faith nothing is possible and monsters under the bed are real. But read Ruth and it doesn’t take long to see our God rewarding the courageous heart. The one risking it all to step into the unknown, the unseen, the uncomfortable because a God unchanging waits calling into the deep.

It takes heart this being brave and we have all we need in this kingdom where the King is Love.

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For the weary, a picnic recipe that isn’t the last straw:

CEASAR SALAD with Chicken Leftovers

1 head iceberg lettuce chopped (or romain)

1 cup mayo

1/2 lemon juiced

Garlic salt and pepper to taste

cooked chicken cubed (as much as you like or have)

croutons

freshly shredded Parmesan cheese

Stir mayo and lemon juice together. Put in a container and over ice in cooler. Place lettuce and chicken in a container large enough to toss ingredients and place in cooler. At picnic add croutons, Parmesan and toss with dressing adding seasoning as desired. Enjoy!

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BRAVE

This, the prayer of my heart as I languish through a day of feeling “less than”:

Be brave.

Be strong.

Don’t give up.

Expect God to get here soon. (Psalm 31)

Embrace tears. They wash clean. And know that even in these insidious moments where you doubt every step and promises whispered in dark spaces, there is redemption. There is hope.

Do hard….because greater is HE that is in you than he that is in this world. The story already has an ending. LOVE wins the battle.

And the message needed at just the right time from a dear friend….

NEVER let fear be greater than faith.

Why We Really Need To Face Our Fears

They laid her all warm and new into these wobbly arms of mine and I knew life would never be the same for she had changed me in the enlarging as I waited nine months to meet her. I never knew fear like I did as a new mom. The feedings, the sleeping (or lack of), the cries of all kinds and through all hours, and the questions clouding the small piece of sanity left after sleep deprivation. But the one always lingering I dared breathe, let alone whisper: what if something bad happens, and worse yet, if it’s on my watch? And I trembled and shook and got hard on these knees because that’s what raising up a child does. It exposes every fear you’ve ever buried and someday somehow you have to stare it down long enough and know that bigger than IT, is a God who is watching for you. Who longs to give rest. And regardless of what you do or how you control, He’s really the one who’s got it!

The millionth doctor (or so it felt) finally had a clue that something was wrong. These infections and days upon endless days spent in bed were not normal. He sent me off to another specialist and I was scared. What if they found nothing…or worse yet, what if they found something? And he did. And it was scary. And I wanted to run but there was nowhere to go. So I got hard on these knees and found a God watching, working in the dark for my good and as prednisone healed this body from cryptogenic organizing pneumonia blessings upon blessings, gifts beyond number were scattered along the way. I take my last treatment today a new person. We can either let illness enrage or enlarge the soul. The challenges in life can be what makes us bitter or beautiful. We have a choice: choose fear and control or surrender and rest.

I tuck them in tight, bellies full from the celebration of a hard season past over steaming bowls of homemade pasta with new friends, and she asks it with tears streaming…”Momma what if something bad happens?” The lump forms and my voice falters because what do you say to the one you love when you’ve wrestled and battled these fears yourself time and again? It’s then I remember truth I stumbled on when I forged into this thing called motherhood and I pull it out and read it slow:

If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city,
the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?

“God’s got this” I say to her, and no amount of controlling or trying or fearing will keep us safer, or make us better. It’s in the opening of the hands, the surrendering we find rest. Ahh, how far I’ve come and yet still so much farther yet on this sojourn.

One season down….how many more to go? Only He knows and I’m ok with that.image

From Fear to Faith

Lord when all would consume and shake this being to the core, give courage to move from fear to faith. In you I find safety; a quiet haven for this spirit to rest from struggling and striving and serving little mouths…and hands…and feet. With you I can breathe in, exhale out, bare my soul to its depths and know I am still loved.

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Your love covers warm like clouds blanket the sky and I am held tight in and through the unknown for nothing is hidden from your sight. Even as darkness comes you are the light that pierces bringing hope, the promise that you are still near.  And where you are, fear has no home.

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When you think you can’t hold on any longer

blog cover pic 2Hey there beautiful you. The one hanging on with fingernails about to lose grip. I know this life is beautiful and it’s messy and sometimes it’s impossible to sort the good from the bad and there are days when only truth telling will ease the pain of the soul. So grab a cup warm my friend and let’s breathe deep and ease the ache with balm from the word because we, the believers, are the truth tellers and if we don’t speak it, who will? This speaking life comforts and heals, it soothes and lifts burdens cause the days are long and one too many straws become heavy and we still have a sojourn ahead. So let’s pray this together shall we? In the quiet of our hearts let’s water our thirsty spirits:

“Be still and know that I am God.”*

God in the middle of illness, smack dab center in the chaos of kids, sitting near as grief tears the heart in two, present in the mountains of never-ending laundry and bills that twist one into balls of anxiety, there as you wait for answers…or closed doors or open ones. Be still. Know! He is God!

“Be still and know that I am.”

I am the light in this very dark situation, I am the way out..the way to life. I am love and beauty and righteousness and by My hands I hold everything together…yes even that broken bleeding heart of yours. I am patience and peace and joy and in my presence is hope eternal.

“Be still and know.”

Know that I am with you even until the end. I have loved you with an everlasting love and nothing can separate you from me. Not sickness, not today or tomorrow or hunger or danger…nothing can take you away from me. I am your beloved and you are mine and with me on your side you cannot lose!

“Be still.”

Cultivate a quiet heart in my presence. Do not run into the future for grace is given only for this moment and it is being lavished on you. Drink, receive with open hands. Bask in the loveliness of this moment for fear will only take you away from me. Embrace my perfect love. I am singing over you with songs of joy! I have called you by name. You are mine and I’ve got this…whatever it is…I’ve got you!

“Be.”

Be the beautiful you I made you to be and in all the messiness of being, know that in me you are forgiven and have the amazing gift of second chances because failing is just an opportunity for redemption. Stop comparing yourselves to others and striving to gather. And remember it is never about what you do for me, but what I am doing in you! Relax, sit back, open those clenched fists, you are my masterpiece in progress.

*Psalm 46:10 quoted in this diminutive form by Saint Patrick