Me

I am

From sunlit mornings

And dancing shadows of leaves

Warm cups handed by friends

And sweaters that fall

Softly against skin.

I am downstream of family love

A waterfall

From grandfather

To mother

To me

And time

Calmed

And content

From raging storms that

Can toss and do..but don’t..

Cuz I’m cared for and in

Rhythm with the Jackson 5.

I am from the spring rain

Melting snow and earth

Coming alive with

Fragrance pushing

Hyacinth out for air

And singing birds

And words that dance off

A page and bring wisdom

From the ages

About theCreator of it all.

I am an artist heart

Of twisted green and

Scent and petal and

Rainbows and whales

And Goldendoodle smiles

And conversation with souls

And twinges of internal

Groans from sad stories

Of others I want to

Cradle in thick-knit blankets.

Some say I am like maple syrup

Too sweet, too sappy, too

Unreal for palate or comfort…

But I say I’m good on raspberries

And dark chocolate and if

You cannot understand that

Then you don’t understand

Me

Mind-Numbing Ruminations

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest….”

Several years back, I was standing on the precipice of an immense life change, carrying a weight of confusion and multiple emotions.  Our entire social network was pulled out from under us, and almost everything we believed was henceforth put on the table for questioning.  My thoughts did not know where to stop or start.

During that time we “got away” to a vacation on Banderas Bay, a beautiful alcove surrounded by the Pacific. One morning, I was walking on the beach, picking up rocks, and ruminating on the same heavy thoughts. I was mentally worn.

While in wordless prayer, God brought to my mind this well-known verse and used my surroundings for a perfect word-picture:

“Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.”

…..So there was little me, at the edge of the big-wide ocean with a rock that I had been looking at intently and carefully massaging in my hand. Casting…….
“What does it mean to cast?,” I thought as I looked at the stone weighing down my hand.
……I wound up a pitch…..Followed through, and released……….

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When I cast it into the ocean, the feel of it leaving my hand
And the sight of it dropping into the vast waters….
The satisfying sound of its fall……
The disappearing……………………
That wonderful disappearing…………
Where I could no longer carry it or feel it anymore….
Where I could no longer SEE its lines and colors…….
helped me then, and in days to come,

to release the actual stones weighing down my mind;

to release them into HIM, where their weight is rightly measured and beautifully hidden;

to release them upon His vast character and consuming love…… for me, for you, and for those we need to forgive.

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May we live the blessing of a life that is light and free.

“….Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Jesus

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Extras:
References: Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG); Psalm 54:22; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 27:13,14; Philippians 4:6

Definition of “Casting”: from Strong’s 1997 = epiriptó:  to throw upon, place upon, to throw away, throw off to cast upon, give up to, God.

 

Fitting quote: “If I must seek an identity outside of myself, then the accumulation of wealth, power, and honors allures me. Or I may find my center of gravity in interpersonal relationships. Ironically, the church itself [and other relationships] can stroke [the sin nature] by conferring, and withholding honors, offering pride of place based on performance, and creating an illusion of status by rank and pecking order. When belonging to an elite group eclipses the love of God, when I draw life and meaning from any source other than my belovedness, I am spiritually dead. When God gets relegated to second place behind any bauble or trinket, I have swapped the pearl of great price for painted fragments of glass.” – Manning

Prayer Challenge

In my prayers of deepest longing,

I ask You to saturate, invade, take over.

~~

And I yield to You my dearest belongings;

my fears and speeding thoughts by your love, lowered.

~~

Here poised, can I pray without condition –

willing,
surrendered to face

pain for Your end, all-wise?

~~

And, to set my face steadfast –

resting,
knowing Your compassion overwhelms all hurt,

And You, Yourself, shall be the prize?

Relationship Not Rules

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“My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.” 2Cor.12:9 MSG

“Walking with Jesus is not a task to be performed, but a relationship to nurture.” Suzie Eller

Faith uncorks the bottle of your soul and lets God in.

May you filled with all the fullness of God.
Blessings, L 👥🍃

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy.” T. Roosevelt

This has been my struggle lately.  (Maybe some can relate?) I *too* often compare myself to others and find myself less-than or lacking. I know I shouldn’t do that, but I do. This is what it is like: I picture myself in the large room of His Body where we all occupy, and my head turns from side to side……and then down at me. I am dissappointed. But then  these words fall on my ears:

“Certainly, when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they show how foolish they are.” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:12

After a sigh of “that’s right,” I look up and see His eyes looking INto mine. His look is piercing and yet comforting. He takes my hands, my palms up with His hands under mine and I hear Him say, “I. Know. You. I don’t make mistakes. Don’t look around or down, but turn your eyes upon Me. I always give exactly what is needed.”

I allow His words to seep in and almost literally, feel a weight leave my body.

“The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” ~ Psalm 23:1

When Your Life Has Lost Color

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“Time is the brush of God, as he paints his masterpiece on the heart of humanity.”
~ R. Zacharias

Fall is a beautiful season and {I strongly believe} it should last in full color through November. But it doesn’t. Ever.

Just maybe, however,  it’s quick passage is meant to remind us that we also do “fade as leaf.” That time is very, very precious – and it’s beautiful offerings are to be carefully taken in as though our season is also very short.

How easily I forget this. Yesterday He graciously reminded me to Let. Him. In.
……to let Him into the innermost chamber of His temple and to let Him “search me and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts.” He reminded me to be There, in the Holiest of Holies, *with Him* unafraid, unashamed. 

His call was refreshment. His call brought color to what was beginning to feel –  even without me noticing – a dull black and white, a blur of sorts, instead of a slow thoughtful passage.

Let’s open our doors to Christ – just like we ‘take in” a beautiful scene in nature. Let’s *join Him* in the blessed process of His painting His masterpiece upon our hearts – as we sit at His feet, behold His glory, hear His words, and move at His call.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.” ~ Rev. 3:20

When You Feel A Bit Shabby

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This morning I was feeling ugly. This is not too uncommon for me because half of my face does not function correctly; I have Bells Palsy.  I have had it for 16 years, but now, well, things are exacerbated with age. So today, when a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit came across my path, I soaked it in like a welcomed beam of light……and immediately felt rooted and grounded.

I hope, friends, it does the same for you:

“‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Let’s remind ourselves today how long, and how far, and how deep the love of Christ comes after us. He is relentless in His care and will never let us go. He will love us, like a favorite, even when worn and falling apart. Now I can find a lot of beauty in that.🍁

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Should I Feel More? (Mourning with Less)

“In the world you will have tribulation…” (1)

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I never questioned what love was until I sat looking out the window of our brown-shuttered house on 45th street, waiting for my dad’s white convertible to pull up in the driveway. I sat…..waiting, tracing the stitches in my blue, hard-covered suitcase as I looked out. This was not the first time. I had been there before, but this time I had doubts. I had questions.

Love, to my 10-year-old mind, was very simple up to that point because I felt I was living in it. I did not question its existence – kinda like when you are taking a walk in a beautiful valley. You don’t question what that valley is  because you are there. You are sensing it, feeling the breeze, touching the flora. My parents were divorced, yes, but my mom and grandparents always made sure I was surrounded and protected – I felt loved.

But, as I sat by the window that day, I was forced to back away from the feeling of being there by my dad.  That beautiful valley was becoming more like a distant view, colder and detached; because as I sat there by the “waiting window,”  the evening became night, and ever….. so…… slowly……..the…. time….. passed.

My dad never showed up –
again.

I expected him to. I expected him to be my daddy. Doesn’t every little girl?

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I always looked forward to spending time with my dad. He was charming in the eyes of others. He liked to bring me to the mall, hand me a $20 bill and send me off to buy something. He would take me to lunch (leave big tips) and sometimes take me to a movie.  But then there were the times in between when me and my 2 brothers would never see him, never hear from him. My brothers liked playing sports but he would rarely come to their games, instead, he had his own leagues.
We watched my mom struggle to provide shelter, food, and clothes for us. (We had all of those things but it was because she fought for us. She kept the valley breezes blowing in our home.) She did not receive her allotted child support and for a while, we were on welfare living in a 2 room shack sleeping in 2 double beds. SO after a while, I started to resent those $20 bills handed to me. I wanted my dad. I wanted him to give himself, his time. I wanted him to show interest in who I and my brothers were, and what we loved.  I wanted him to stop trying to appear like the nice guy to everyone else and to really be a nice dad. In time, that beautiful valley that I was distantly viewing with him, slowly became more like a postcard in my hands – nice to look at but far, far away and unreal.

My relationship with my dad continued to be of post-card quality as my years went on. I would hear from him every couple of months, sometimes every month – whenever it was convenient for him.  I would day-dream of him really taking interest in my life. He was present, but was more there in the bigger moments to hand out gifts. I did appreciate those things  – don’t get me wrong. I did. But I had always hoped we could talk – really talk. I wanted a daddy who really liked to be with me. I wanted to feel his strength and presence over my life. I wanted sound advice. I wanted to trust him.

When my husband and I had 2 beautiful children, I again caressed that postcard and wished for more of the “real”. I thought maybe they would be a catalyst to better our relationship – they were so wonderful after all, and here was the second chance he always told me he wished he had. He said he was sorry for his absence and would do it differently had he had the chance. Here was his chance.
So, I remember vividly when he broke the news to me (all while he expressed tremendous guilt) that he would be moving 4 states away to rural Ohio to live with his in-laws. Disappointed, I remember looking out yet another window – this time with no suitcase packed, no anticipation, no more waiting. Thoughts unraveled as I gazed out  into the wooded lot next to our family home – my stare blank, my mind full, the sound of my 2 children playing in the background. I held that post-card relationship in the hand of my mind wondering why this would be all there would ever be. I wondered about the unsettling feeling I had – the co-mingling of love and resentment in my broken heart.

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I recalled some things my mom told me about my dad’s growing up years. His parents, Mona and Daniel (a coal miner) had him when they were very old so by the time his teen years hit, his parents were in their mid 60’s. They were (described by my dad as loving each other and never fighting) described by my mom as distant, his mother very cold. Hence, my dad ended up very often on his own. For that young boy, I felt compassion – maybe he had never learned responsibility; maybe he had never learned how to love (have I?); maybe he learned how to survive for himself. I don’t know for sure – and I will never know.
But I did resolve to know this: my dad was broken, just like all of us. I resolved that we are all tangled up in some way because of this broken world – a world where the god (small g) makes messes of people lives.  He authored sin; he destroys relationships; he keeps the love of Jesus Christ veiled and re-defines it into something “other” –  something that looks similar but lacks real life. (2)
Love on this earth will always be imperfect in some way, and can never be defined or explained through another human being – in some way it will be distorted. Perfect love can only be found in its immutable Source.
For this, I say, “My soul wait only upon God for my expectation is from Him.” (3)
Not people.
Now this is the goal for which I clumsily reach…….

…..and when my eyes rest there, my expectation from others grows dim, my resentment leaves, and the true “definition” of love seeps into my pores.
I start to learn from Someone,
instead of trying to define love through someone else.

This alone has released any anger and has allowed me to forgive.
“He heals the broken in heart and binds up their wounds” (4)

 

But forgiveness does not make two people close. I have tried over the last 10 years of my relationship with my dad to still hope – but a certain distance was more comfortable for him
so, it became more comfortable for me.

I question that distance, especially now.
A few weeks ago my dad died and it is as though he is now at the “waiting window” of my heart watching for me to feel more.

Maybe I should feel more.
I feel like I should feel more.
I try to force myself into that postcard in order to produce some realness.

But it is just not there, so I ask for grace.

My dad asked for grace too. And I guess, that is what heaven is full of………he is there now not because of what he had to bring, nor what he could not bring, but simply and only because of the blood of Christ.

“For by grace are you saved through faith, and not of yourselves” (5)

In glory, my dad finally knows perfect love. He is with my late brother, Steve and he can now finally talk with my mom with an open heart. Fences are being mended and one day I will be there too and we will be a family again.

“….but take heart I have overcome the world.”

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Maybe in this broken world, the beautiful valley of 1 Corinthians 13 love is a piece of grace too — a gift we get to experience in fragments. Fragments that are precious to enjoy in those moments we have them.  But reality for now – is that we will not always BE there when it comes to our relationships  – and it is unfair to expect others to fill a place
only God can.
And He will.
IN the Person of Jesus.
He calls us to intimately learn of Him. (6)
He calls us to wait at the window of His meek and lowly heart with great expectation.
He calls for our souls to repose on His chest and with perfect freedom of soul unabashedly say,

Abba,
Daddy.

And in that place, we return to the freedom of a well-loved child. (7)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~How have you found healing for your own wounds? How have you dealt with a broken family? Leave a comment – I would love to hear your thoughts.

Extras:
1) John 16:33
2) 2 Corinthians 4:4
3) Psalm 62:5
4) Psalm 147:3
5) Ephesians 2:8,9
6) Matthew 11:29
7) John 8:36

 

Through Another’s Lens ~ Tullian Tchivdijian

hs-2006-01-q-webAs small humans, we find moments where we are standing on the edge of awe-inspiring vistas, seeing God in ways we hadn’t before. We grab the tools/scopes needed to help us get a larger view. At those times, we cannot help but wave our hands to whomever is near and implore them to look through the scope with us.
That is how I feel. I am sure others feel that way too.
Let’s look through another’s lens.

A Father’s Love ~ T. Tchividijian

When I was 16, my parents kicked me out of the house. They had tried everything. Nothing worked. And it got to the point where my lifestyle had become so disruptive to the rest of the household, that they were left with no choice but to painfully say, “We love you but you can’t continue to live this way and live under our roof.”

A couple years after they kicked me out I was living in an apartment with a couple friends and I called my dad (after losing yet another of my many dead-end jobs–I only called him when I needed something) and said, “Rent’s due and I don’t have any money.” My dad asked, “Well, what happened to your job?” I made up some lie about cutbacks or something. He said, “Meet me at Denny’s in an hour.” I said okay. After we sat down, he signed a blank check and handed it to me, and said, “Take whatever you need. This should hold you over until you can find another job.” He didn’t probe into why I lost my job, or yell at me for doing so. He didn’t give a limit (here’s a $1000).  And I absolutely took advantage! I not only remember taking that check and writing it out for much more than I needed, I remember sneaking into my mom and dad’s house on numerous occasions and stealing checks from out of his checkbook. I had mastered forging his signature. I went six months at one point without a job because I didn’t need one! Any time I needed money I would go steal another check and forge his signature –$500, $300, $700. I completely took advantage of his kindness—and he knew it!

Years later he told me that he saw all those checks being cashed, but he decided not to say anything about it at the time. It didn’t happen immediately (the fruits of grace are always in the future), but that demonstration of unconditional grace was the beginning of God doing a miraculous work in my heart and life. My dad’s literal “turning of the other cheek” gave me a picture of God’s unconditional love that I couldn’t shake.

My father died in 2010, twenty-one years after he sent his disrespectful, ungrateful son on his way. And it was his unconditional, reckless, one-way love for me at my most arrogant and worst that God used to eventually bring me back. Until the day he died, my father was my biggest cheerleader and my best friend. I miss him every day.

Steve Brown once said, “Children will run from law and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from law rarely come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home.” I ran from grace. It drew me home.

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