Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Levanto Mis Manos

Seated on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with some of the most faith-driven people I've ever met.

People that most would overlook as they sit shivering on a street corner wrapped in newspaper,
or as they pant carting their shopping cart of humble belongings up the hill in the city,
 or as they wait in line for food stamps.

"I want to learn Spanish," I say, pointing to the man's Spanish-English bible as Angel spoons shepherd's pie into his mouth, chews quickly, swallows, and smiles large.

"Yes! Read Salmo veintitrés." 


Stumbling over the life-giving words in a beautiful language, butchering every attempt at pronunciation, I read. 
Enthusiasm spreads across the faces of those who were fed these words as children in this way. Stories spill over of mothers reading this before bed, of churches in Puerto Rico and weddings and home wells up in the hearts and spills over as tears form in the corners of eyes and souls find belonging in a Psalm.

"Read Salmo noventa y uno. My mother read that every single night before bed," Naomi requests softly, misty-eyed. 

I carefully muster the words, trying to hard to deliver these sacred words in a way as lovely as they are, in their true nature of joy upon joy.

" 1 El que habita al abrigo del Altísimo
     se acoge a la sombra del Omnipotente. [a]
2 Yo le digo al Señor: «Tú eres mi refugio y mi fortaleza,
     mi Dios, en quien confío ".

"Amen!" shouts Angel. He is a freed man by these words.

"Wow!" Naomi gushes, "I knew you were an angel, I missed these words. There was a reason you came here today!"


She rises, with strength not her own, and lifts her hands to the Spanish music playing in the background, singing along, 

"Levanto mis manos!" she sings in abandon, she offers in surrender. Not caring who sees, blissfully unaware of any others but the Lord, the love of her life, her strength and her courage.

Courage in the face of a daughter's illness and grandbabies in adoption and custody battles and the trials of each day. 

I gaze in longing at this devotion. 

Just that morning I had written in a prayer journal of the searching and longing to know Him, though He lives inside me I feel silly and ridiculous and how can I not know a God who lives in my very heart?

It is simple, the way we find Him. Simply complicated by the world around. 

Naomi found Him. That is why I love that place, where those labeled lost by the world gather and show they are really found, how they know finding the Lord with every ounce of energy, clinging to Him with all strength. 

How they rejoice in His promises.

I was the one wandering lost that day.

Naomi found Him. She knew constant thanks, gratitude and praise as natural as breathing, the hunt that is more than worthwhile is not a hunt but a lavish love, and expedition of worship. 

I find Him there too. All insecurity I carry as rotten cargo, it shall disappear so my Savior can live and reign in the heart that beats for Him. It is knowing security, it is knowing my stronghold.
And rejoicing.

Rejoicing like no one is there.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Song of Surrender

This surrender.
This Spirit-filled surrender.
Why, child, deny my gift? He says.
The gift of grace.

I Praise You Lord, that I fall short.
Praise from insufficiency, I feel wild crazy free.
Not sane in the dancing for the fact of failure imminent.

I want to eat and eat of this grace 'till full.
But I will not be satisfied while outside Your grace.
Why do I scurry spent in fruitless effort, scurrying around the greatest thing?

The reason for a cross bloody.
Oh, that cross.
The Spirit-filled surrender is the afterwards of that cross.
 It's the story of Life neverending.

Do I stand before a Savior risen and deny?
Do I close the book I did not write, say there is no more when it is not my word to speak, fight a losing battle to not take a gift that He longs for me to have?

I am weak.
I shout, lungs exhale saving truth, boasting in weakness:
I worry,
I fear,
I am not confident,
I am not perfect though I try
 and try.

I exhale to inhale a Spirit whose gale is stronger, more furious and thunderous than that painful exhalation. 
It is the life after death.
It is the gift that blossoms from the sacrifice as I claim my new heart, my new life.

Praising You Lord for Your uprising in me.
Cyclone of fire in this puny soul, overwhelmed to ashes pure, risen with Him to life in a gift, in a Spirit victorious.

Sweet Surrender.

How can I help but smile helplessly in love each time I know Your name?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In the wind

Lord, I feel You in the wind.

A whisper, an undeniable kiss of what is there.

I love Your soft caress in the zephyr,
the flipping of the pages of my life in Your breeze,
the just-letting-go, 
the floating upon that which lets the sparrows glide, the ships reach shores, 
and kites soar higher, disappearing into Your sun.

I close these eyes,
feel Your breathe on me,
the one I breathe and long to breathe, all my days.

Another tale of saving forgetfulness

Sweet like a spring rainstorm when God showers me with lesson after lesson and they are almost exactly the same.

Sweet knowing a Father who has the universe takes the time to teach me, humbling.

Again I drive to school and the panic feeling pricks at the heart...

cellphone? Check
wallet? Check

By some silly miracle I recall as I pass the point of no return on the way to school: work shoes.
I have forgotten shoes to change into for work.

Options, options. I remember my mother, who would help.
No, I can't do that to her. I really can't.

But the idea of asking her for at least some guidance keeps returning. Something so trivial, and I'm an adult and I have to call my mother and...

sigh, giving in, I just text her.

My mother, the one who is the image of selflessness in our home, the image of everything I want to be for someone someday, does not text "Too bad" when I tell her of my ridiculous mishap and my flawed forgetfulness; she does not say, "Tough luck,"
no, this woman knows grace.


"I'll meet you for lunch during your break between classes. When and where?"

I don't deserve this.
 I don't.
She shouldn't have to do this.
But she does, with love.

And in a busy day overwhelming, I pause for a bowl of soup and baguette to talk to the one who understands and loves me.

As I returned back to school fully equipped for a workday, my Father in Heaven, the one who created grace and the one who is love and who understands even when the whole world does not, He seems to say, "And us? What about us?"

Ah yes.
How great it is to finally see.
How I not only forgot shoes, but I forgot that I can return to my Father and dine with Him, sharing His feast of grace, never too far from a foundation of faith, never too good for salvation and help and my Rock, my Light.

To dine with Him and meet Him in the midst of a chaos I make for myself and surrender ideas of my own self-sufficiency and sip warm mercies and delights slow in vulnerable serendipity.

To know the foundation and be full.

Monday, April 22, 2013

When a small, silly panic made a revelation

I smile, nearly giggling, as I write these words, feeling like a juvenile teenie bopper, like a casualty of the digital age. With a deep breath:

my eye-opening trial today was a day without a cell phone.

I admit feeling silly, the moment I realized it was missing from my school bag the heart clenched up, choking in panic, as if I had forgotten a wallet or a final paper.
Or worse.

Too late to turn around. Too scheduled, gas too expensive to make the trek back to retrieve it, 35 minutes each way.

The decision: a day without a cell phone.

Feeling naked without an electronic device the size of my palm, anxieties arise of breaking down on the highway without a means of communication, impulses to check it moment by moment as natural as the breathing in and out, feeling lost without checking the time every five minutes-

One word: slavery.

My forgetfulness becomes a monumental blessing, a pivotal point in the day of one seeking God passionately, as a child fumbling through life messy and clumsy but loved extravagantly.

Oh if I were as impulsive about prayer.

Oh if every five minutes I was itching for God's words.

The condition of my heart was found in losing something.

Today, I was reminded how I complicated the simple trusting of the Almighty Father.

And did I mention I got more work done, I felt more connected to my Creator through disconnect with the world, I did not die, I did not lose track of all time, I did not miss a thing.

No, I was set free.
 Chains broken free, chains freely broken.
 Grace made big in a mishap, grace expanded in a shortcoming.

Reminded in freedom from a phone that I am free from this world, reminded that the Lord is indeed my Shepherd, He is all I need.

Feeling foolish, but wiser still in my foolishness, for the Lord worked and spoke and loved today.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

More Faith

Morning after morning for the week I sat, curls on the head all standing in disarray like some mad scientist, pouring over the same question: what is faith in a time like this?

How my definition has been morphed and twisted;
 how little faith, a Savior whispers to me in my boat amidst the storm.

The storm which set pressure cookers into explosions, took a boy from his mama, rewarded a public servant with a lethal bullet, leveled a Texas town, quaked the earth in China, and proclaimed the won battle after battle by evil.

What little faith I have!

Pouring over the place I had memorized, the verse a heart has known by heart since before I had accepted Christ: Hebrews 11:1. Simple enough. Faith is believing in things I do not see. Okay, God is up there. Done. Check.

Then why this thirst. Why does it seem weak in the darkness looming where men were loose on the streets of my favorite city with grenades and death tools galore?

 I want to have this unshakeable un-moveable rock-solid never-doubting life-giving world-changing faith that the love of my life offers to me. I thirst, heart dry.

I thirst, I cannot name it. I tell myself, friends I love, family-- I tell them all to have this faith, but does it dwell in this heart? Where does it spring from? What does it mean?

I find it. I find the tidal wave in that book I read often. That book which is Faith. That book which is life constructed in words sweet.

Faith is salvation, salvation is faith.

Faith is the approval, the smile of a Father that I cannot feel but oh I feel it warm in the soul.

Faith is understanding what this place we were tossed from the womb to survive in, that it is perfect in it's construction of words and promises, held up by life-giving words, sturdy.

Faith is what conquers, conquered, and will conquer death forever.

Faith is hiding int he wraps of God's love, my safe sacred holy place.

Faith is knowing in the heart that God is who He is and that His blessings are without exception for all who love Him.

Faith is the super-hero saving the world, the blind obedience of one whose eyes are opened and really see.

Faith is following without fear, putting all expectations we once owned, good or bad, to death so that God's great glory can bloom full.

Faith is waiting.

Faith gave birth to millions, laughed in the face of limits to produce limitless abundant.

Faith is death to this world, no turning back, blissfully alien, living as one not of this world.

Faith is embracing your title as explorer, searcher, with a longing gaze hunting for Christ in all things.

Faith is closing the eyes to the old familiar lie, to openly and boldly choose God and promise.

Faith is claiming a city prepared, a love and acceptance realized.

Faith is passing every test, ready to lay down all, give all, and become nothing and everything.

Faith is assuming the impossible.

Faith is a future footing on the victorious zenith of the Lord's promises hardened through trial and truth.

Faith is worship beyond the human body's limits.

Faith is a fearless love against the demands of the world to hate and be bitter.

Faith makes a refusal to the body we bore into sin and claiming a perfect body in Christ.

Faith is joyous suffering.

Faith is inviting pain for just a taste of saving grace while the worldly treasures glitter bright before you.

Faith is seeing the invisible God and knowing no fear.

Faith is exemption from death. 

Faith is living it. Faith is finding out each moment for oneself what it is through a passionate pursuit in love with Christ. And it is not defined on this earth, in this lifetime.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Not a single one

Words like a swift smack to the side of my face this morning. Words from the Word that gives life and encourages and loves and holds me in times hard and dances with me in times great.

Not what I was used to, but definitely what my soul craved, unbeknownst to me at first.

Words read, "But they have all gone wrong; they are all equally bad. Not one of them does what is right. Not a single one."
-Psalm 14:3

Four little words combined in the culmination of a Psalm haunt me, make me fidget uneasy:

Not a single one.

Wait, the true nature of my heart now revealed, what about me? All I try and try to do, and it's not good?

So much of my life wasted, inaccurately  measuring it as if it were some treasure pot of my achievements, my successes, my, my, my. 

I ask myself, Who am I fooling?! Do the good acts of a sinner cleanse me of sin? Surely not. So are any of us, whether missionary or martyr, really good?


This would hit like an accusation, like a filthy attack from behind when I could not see, but I see this weakness as a gift to be treasured, held carefully in the vessel of my heart, kept as gold

For this one verse is not the whole story.
It waits longingly to see it's salvation, in the one whom I love: Jesus, sweet and strong.

My failure is just as imminent as His love will make up for it and more. 

My sins, my snapping at my family and my hesitation to talk to that person about Jesus and my shortcomings of all varieties will be made clean and forgotten

More love lies here in a surrender, in a realization that I cannot do the saving. 
No longer stumbling, no longer covering up, no longer hungry, grasping at things on a shelf too high for my tiny understanding of righteousness to reach


And a loving Savior brings me to a new level of blessings in being His blessing, not my own.      

Saturday, April 6, 2013


"I rely on Your constant love;
I will be glad because You will rescue me."
-Psalm 13:5 (GNT)
It seems like so much to ask
but in this safe and quiet morning moment it becomes my lifeline:

To trust in some unseen thing. To rejoice in the future that may happen, with all confidence as if I stand now as an eyewitness to it, though my doubtful heart screams that I am not.
As if it has already happened.

Oh but it has! The Words remind sweetly singing in a melody that my heart was not at first ready to sing a harmony with, hardened. 
Then the Words continue. Words underlined in pen and ink and pencil, from yesterday, from years ago, from last week. Did I underline that repetitive reminder found in Deuteronomy for naught? 
God has done such grace-filled saving. Again He saves today, Mighty Father reaching down with outstretched love, outstretched gentle reminding to the most stubborn of His daughters.

Remember how it was in September, whispers soft, I feel them.
Remember the nursing back to health. Remember the simply ungraspable yet fully owned miracle of the cross. 

He already saved.
He still does.
And He is already on His throne at the end of this race I run, where life comes together in all its imperfection laced moments and stress upon layer of stress unfolding and meshing to reveal a masterful plan that has always been beautiful in every way.

It is sure.
Not sure like life.
Not sure like that failed friendship where best friends no matter proved untrue.
Not sure like that relationship that promised together forever crumbled before hopeful eyes.
Not sure like that Air Force career dream that young girl's feet stood so sure on, then fell through like quick sand.

Sure is Christ, no matter what life has said about "sure." It is real now. In Him it is life. In Him, constant and sure are found, discovered, kept and treasured.


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When He gives you exactly what you ask for

In the midst of one of my favorite things it strikes:

In the midst of mixing and measuring, recipes and sweet gifts to be shared, the bloating of my belly and the swelling of my thighs and the transforming of my body with lies and obsessions that like to visit like old friends and then leave like thieves.

My soul groans.

Sunlight undulates into kitchen calm, dancing to the cleansing hum of the dishwasher, sweet singing from a Bethany Dillon album, and stillness.

All this rising of old thinking, all the rising due to such a silly thing: food bought and calories not counted and the unknowing, the loss of my coveted control in my intake.

All this so silly now written on a page. So silly, so small when put into phonemes, mashed into words and strung into sentences. I smile sad.

And in this I'm fed the nourishment I longed for.
In this uneasiness, this falling off the edge of a cliff anxiety amidst the comfort of rising pie, warming banana bread, and a shiny kitchen glow.
I close my eyes and recall the prayer prayed in morning hours when thoughts now become a lot to bear on my own.

Father, make me humble.
Father, show me how to love with all this soul, all this mind, all this strength.

But right now, I really need Your heart to do this. I need it.
But right now, I need such strength. You are all my strength.

My spirit gasps in realization. So this is what that great commandment in Deuteronomy means. So this is what I'd glossed over with dull eyes year after year of reading this verse.

And I begged You to know. Just on the brink of snapping angry, just before my flower wilts, just in the nick of time, You satisfy with a grace-filled, loving answer.

I remove a warm pan from the oven, refreshing it in the lovely kitchen air. Words echo from a Chris Tomlin song heard on the radio before, and now so loudly in my soul resonates:
"Lord I need you, Oh I need you,
Every hour I need you,
My one defense,
My righteousness,
Oh God, how I need you!"

Out of the heat, the pie becomes.

Out of my trial, with His refreshing, lovely truth, I become.

It's the only knowing I need.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hide and Seek

"How much longer will you forget me, Lord?
How much longer will you hide yourself from me?"
-Psalm 13:1 (GNT)

I've felt this way.
I have.

I admit this to a Father who already knows, feeling silly and exposed in a morning prayer.

I do not like to recall, nor do I like talking about it, but the hide and seek game I played with my Salvation is not the end of the story which turns it, twists it, and transforms into beauty, glory. 
Only Christ could take a damaged nothingness like I once lived and make glory abundant.

In my worst starvation, in the time when anorexia was my master, in time when bones were jagged and skin was paper thin and breaths were wavering and heart just about to give out, it seemed lost.

And by "it," I mean me. I was lost. Life, lost. Love, lost. Walking, living in a corpse, spirit dwindling.
I cried tears that clouded a dashboard view, all alone driving home from another workout that I was amazed I'd survived without heart failure. Chest pains torching.

I cried weekly in church, hoping no one would see, as make up meant to cover up dark eye circles and dry, pale skin washed away, salty mudslide down my cheeks. 
It must have looked like closeness, but really, it was sinking, drowning.

I just did not think He could save me. 

And therein lies the problem.

There it is.

I just did not believe.

These cries for help were not in faith. 

It seems so elementary, doesn't it? Baby stuff. Things some of us were spoonfed, or repeatedly shoved down the throat, since Vacation Bible School days and parents lectures and sermons galore. 

Faith. Believe. Just have faith. Faith. Just believe.

But believing is the finding and keeping of our Savior. 
The true believing brings miracles. 
The chasing, the exhausting hide and seek game comes to an end and the life you long for, the life you cry for so long for, it becomes yours because it is His and He is yours and you are His and you are kept.  

I remember on this day when I can see His promises are kept and the believing is the dawning of my day as a sunrise of red and violet fills the bedroom with light.

And I pray, I pray that I would not belittle that word ever again.
 Just believe.
 The "just" makes it so simple, but no, the just is fundamental. Believing is a task, but more. Just believe-- make it the heart and the soul and the fundamental of the life lived for Christ.