Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Uselessness of Words

I'm going to use words to convey the utter uselessness of words.

I feel naked and foolish jotting down these exhausted letters crunched together into hollow words, trying to proclaim God's glory, as I've just laid eyes on a Psalm to splash me with truth and awaken me to a new day of mercy, a new day of grace:

"How clearly the sky reveals God's glory! How plainly it shows what he has done! 
Each day announces it to the following day; each night repeats it to the next. 
No speech or words are used, no sound is heard; yet their voice goes out to all the world, and is heard to the ends of the earth."
-Psalm 19:3-4a (GNT)

My notebook scribbles in love letters to a Savior, the clickety-clack of a keyboard that somehow delivers a blog post, the soothing utterances to a friend in need, the lyrics of a hymn flowing fresh, the rhythmic delectable lines of a poem, they are all God's gracious gifts without a doubt.

Yet in the silence of eyes closed and breeze caressing hair and flower fragrance tickling the olfactories and birdsong and leaves rustling, I can experience how God's dear expressions in the silence are masterpieces of their own.


<3 beautiful
 ✮ Mount Rainier Sunburst - WA
Miraculous nature all around us seems to have this down to a science, made to do this from the dawn of their creation!

But wait a minute.... so were we!

Then I see the most fruitful, most lovely, most glory-drenched expressions flourish in the fruits of the Spirit.

Fruits of love as I give until it hurts, only sporting a silent smile as I allow the overflow of life abundant to spill.

Fruits of humility as I admit to my brokenness, my inadequacy, only to glow with the grace that heals and fixes and forgets the downfalls that once ruled over my heart.

Fruits of patience as I kneel at the level of that difficult child in the preschool class and delight in them as Christ delights in all of us unruly sinners.

Fruits of kindness as I do the uncomfortable, the out of the way, the uncharacteristic of me, and I bestow the taste of God's goodness somehow and a smile is made and a seed is planted in the heart.

All these declaring how great God is in the wordless perfect servitude. All these fruits of peace and comfort are wordless embracing us whole, and that wordless is powerful.

As I write these words, I pray that my wordless actions, the allowing a Spirit loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, and a multitude of other things, will bless others far greater than these ramblings.

For that is the real glory, the real goodness, the real joy.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Greatest Truth while Visiting Granpda

Do you remember the first time you realized life ends at some point?

I don't exactly remember that moment, but I feel as though it had something to do with the gold fish my parents kept buying for me because the family rule was we couldn't have a pet until Dad retired from the Air Force. All I knew was, those fish wound up being flushed down the toilet, one after the other, just the same.

Depressing, I know, but on a perfect day with my Dad visiting his hometown of Frankentrost I realized it doesn't have to be depressing.

Before we wandered the jolly Bronner's Christmas factory and marveled at the twinkling ornaments and the largest Christmas store in the world,
 before my Dad led me on a tour of his memory, enjoying the bouncing polka carried by the cool breeze and the crunch of toffee fudge samples at Zak's Bavarian Kandy Haus and doing our best to remember German words and strolling through Zehnder's Covered Bridge witnessing the twinkle of the Cass River in sunlight,


before all that, the perfect day began in a square plot of land where I could see miles and miles of neat rows of corn and sweet farmhouses.

before all that we walked somber through the grasses, weaving through lifetimes concisely carved into stone, by name and years lived.

We searched the bouquets and flags and memorials for the grave of my grandfather, Ralph.

It all felt eerie to me at first, though the sun shone kindly on our shoulders and the rains from earlier in the day left remnants of cool and it could not be a more delightful day. Then we found his name, and something told me to kneel, and on my knees my heart smiled as tears welled up.

My heart smiled as I ran my fingers gently across my grandfather's name, tracing the letters one by one, because I know my grandfather knew Jesus. 

I did not know the man well, but I love him. I was not yet six when he passed away, and I vaguely remember his funeral. Yet I carry the stories told of him like trophies to treasure, each shiny token of his life a puzzle piece, to understand the one grandparent I have not had my whole life.

But I know he was a man who loved to serve God. I know that he grew to be a man who just wanted to do what the Lord wanted.

I smiled because he is in heaven, he is with Jesus rejoicing forevermore. 

And in that moment, kneeling there in the soft cushion of grass, I wanted to run and make sure every single one of my family members and friends and acquaintances and enemies and classmates and co-workers would reach the same spectacular place: that I could smile over their final place of peace knowing they are with Jesus Christ, living in eternity just experiencing His mercies, His love, His glory anew with each passing second in a marvelous existence.

I write so often about the experiences of knowing Jesus and what miracles he sustains me with moment after moment, but those are nothing compared to the miracle I cannot express in mere words, with feeble anecdotes and useless rambling metaphors.

 That miracle is that Jesus died and rose and death doesn't win in the end. And I yearn for all of you to know that miracle. That is the real reason for rejoicing. 

This message is often received in offense. This doesn't surprise me because the one I follow, the one who preached this message was nailed to a cross because it offended people so much, so I suppose it's to be expected.

This message is often received tied to self-righteousness and wrapped to resemble some exclusive club or some contract with endless fine print of who you have to be and what you have to do to attain this way and truth and life that extends splendidly forever, and that's a shame. It's just this: Jesus made a way, and longs for us to take it and rejoice and live and delight in Him for eternity. And it's true love. And it's sweet and marvelous.

Back in Frankentrost I prayed from that smiling heart. Thank you Jesus for saving us. Please let Grandpa know I love him and miss him dearly. Best of all, let him know that I will see him one day thanks to an evening in a hospital bed where Jesus embraced me just as I am. And tell him I can't wait. Amen. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013


The simple metaphors I glean from nature are trinkets precious in the treasure of what God reveals in a day. I melt into this day of rest on my picturesque wooden screened in porch, lit by green glowing and sunlight jovial. As an unknowable melody of cicada buzz tickles my ears, I admire the dewdrop diamonds scattered in magical display across the leaves nearby.

Then the intricate spider web woven in strands of glittering silver, found at the corner of my porch and then the one strand of white sparkle extending from the safe bed of soundly spun web to touch the lively foliage.
I marvel at these loveliest creations, and at the concept of God's gracious glory reaching out like that web. The effort that stretch was, unnecessary yet utterly beautiful to behold in the light of His presence. The stretch to deliver undeserved love to all the human race.

I don't have a bottom line today.
 no moral to this simple story, no lesson learned, no life application, no challenge. 

But humility is my refreshment as I just still myself to this love stretched out, not being able to grasp fully it by some deep thought, some journaling, some pensive gazing at my backyard.

No, I just close the eyes, let the small smile spread, realizing the unfolding blossoms of grace as I think of God's unnecessary stretch this morning, bestowing glittering gifts countless that change my life in moments unending.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On Letting Go and S'mores

Friends circled around a bonfire, and God had a victory in their presence.

Magnificent victory. Victory glorious and as I toasted marshmallows and fashioned s'mores in true summer celebration, I longed to be back in the vulnerable moments as my faith family of young believers and seekers and radical grace-tasters found the victory in that fire.

Each held reasons not to trust God in our hands, symbolized by fragile twigs cut from the branches overhead. Each friend held the twig, turning it over as voices wavered revealing the stories deep, the wounds deep, and revealing why the weakling sticks in our hands were actually monsters, rock-solid and growing and growing, not twigs, but towering tree-trunks endless.


But it's not until we receive the invitation to burn these reasons we do not trust our Maker, our Savior, our Strong and Mighty.

We could actually be rid of these sores, these wounds, these reasons that turn into fears that turn into lives not lived in fullness of grace.

In the darkness there, as friends rose and let go of the burdens, I realized that these reasons not to trust, while they may seem daunting and insurmountable, well, they become what they really are when we know the fire that promises to burn them.

When we know the fire that promises to destroy them, we see them for all they are: weak, and insignificant.

And we rejoiced in the freedom of letting go. Letting go of past abuses. Letting go of broken hearts after being cheated. Letting go of friendships ended after giving so much. Letting go of eating disorders. Letting go of addictions. Letting go of shattered homes. Letting go of abandonment, of the not-belonging that makes us believe healing is impossible.

In that moment of tossing the twig, hearing the crackle and watching the golden flames waving int he darkness, burning my hurt, I realized that in my lack of trust for God, I denied a full recovery.

I had always just assumed my disorder would never be healed, that the insecure thoughts and torturous obsessions would always be a part of me.

Oh, but it's not. Healing is real. And the trust is the key.

Because the fire of Heavenly Victory has won. Trusting Him, I walk gingerly into the fullness of life, where I ask and I receive from the Father whose glory is all around and whose love is never-ending.

So I sank my teeth into the sweet s'more I had made, laughing with friends as we debated on whose marshmallow was most perfectly cooked, and knew the sweetness of surrender.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Forgiven Much

Wait upon the Lord

Cringe across the face and swift footsteps taken in fearful retreat will follow upon hearing these words.

I know the drill that comes with these words.

 Keep on hoping.
 Keep on trusting.
 Keep on praying.
Keep on doing good.
Keep on persevering.
Keep on smiling, because don't you know, you have to be joyful in all this too?!

What if I'm tired? 
What if the weights are heavier and heavier as I run and wait, run without sight of a finish line?
What if I don't even know what I'm running for, after all, the body is healthy at this stage in recovery, and things are good, aren't they?

Aren't they?

The tiresome waiting engulfs the heart and I writhe in it, letting myself become churned into weary and hopeless and worn.

Then I remember the words of my victor Savior Jesus Christ to the woman with the alabaster jar. So many times I've felt like this woman. So many times I've met her in different light, because the cross will never hits your heart quite the same way twice.

How she collapsed in her shame and became tangled in her tears and writhed and her race was heavy too.

But it's where she collapsed and what she did, that's what counts. 

She collapsed at the feet of the Savior of the World.
Utterly taken in a moment of grace and shame; the filth of the past on display so that purity and newness of life Himself could come in, cleanse her beyond imagining, heal her beyond expectation,

and He said, "her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little."

Forgiven much, loves much. The well of my soul has been dry of this love, and here he tells me the key: Forgiven much.

How I long to love like that woman. Love so overwhelming it spills and collapses and knows nothing but joy, nothing but vulnerable joy.

Have I denied that forgiveness?
 For 10 long months it's as if I've had a tag placed around my ankle, bearing a name that has been the monster grasping for my feet, capturing me just before I escape:

And a Savior longs for me to just take it off so love can come, but I've never completely disowned it. I've never completely shed that identity. I've never completely known that forgiveness.

This is the Resurrection:
I am forgiven.

Rather than allowing that tag to be my namesake, I move on to a place in my life where my name shall be Forgiven. My name shall be Friend of Christ.

It's a large forgiveness to behold, a magnificent demon to conquer, but Christ has because He lives in me and He rose and calls me to be risen too. Right here, right now. I am forgiven.

The woman that day took on a new name as well. The shameless one who loved lavishly. The one who was forgiven greatly. 

What weights are seizing you before you take up the gift of the Resurrection and bear no name but sweet forgiven lover of a Savior?

Will you be forgiven much with me today?

Monday, July 8, 2013

In the Shadow

Smiling in the serendipitous moment like a silly young girl, I wonder at the treasure I've spied lying across my summer struck backyard.

The sun captures the sparkle of the dew sprinkled across the lush green this morning, and contrasted in the cool shadow cast by a tree is nearly the shape of that beautiful cross.

Sure, it may be a stretch, but it is received and lapped up by a soul who yearns for Christ's messages. This message is more than a coincidence to smile over and in a blink forget. Sacred metaphors for what I behold begin to dance across a sometimes overly-analytical mind.

How narrow the area of the cross is, yet how refreshing is its refuge.

And I admire the dew diamonds, how they'll melt under the very sun that ignites their sparkling beauty now.

Aren't days like that sometimes?

Doesn't the day, in all it's heated pressures and drying of the soul and relentless trying winds melt life's magic sometimes?

Then there's that cross,
where the sun doesn't burn
and the refreshing fruits of the spirit still quench the thirsting soul,
and the narrow becomes rewarding.

And then I gaze up at the tree God grew, His blessing casting this whirlwind of thought, bouncing marvelous reminders of grace to and fro across my spirit.

I smile, armed and ready to face the day, knowing my shine will not diminish under the heat, so long as I dwell under that cross. 


Sunday, July 7, 2013

One Race to Run

In the heat of July the confession bubbles and boils over a heart that just doesn't want to admit it.

Reading the words on a blessed page never felt so uncomfortable:

13 Such is the destiny of all who forget God;
    so perishes the hope of the godless.
14 What they trust in is fragile[a];
    what they rely on is a spider’s web.
15 They lean on the web, but it gives way;
    they cling to it, but it does not hold.
-Job 8:13-15

God was there though. God was there offering cool grace refreshing as I was ready to confess and know a Savior's unending capacity for my messiness. 

My confession:

My hope was not in Jesus Christ in that moment there. 

my hope was in being charming and skinny,
my hope was that my wavering faith would be instantly remedied by a trip to summer orientation at my big Christian college,
my hope was that my  Christian walk would be solidified and defined by a smiling face, a fabulous volunteer resume, the convicting books I read, and the things I say. 

These things can be lovely. But they are not love, though deceitfully masked as closeness with Christ, they fall. 

Without Christ they are the spider web promising a plummet.

Words like those are painful to admit aloud, every syllable sticking with sharp truth, wondering why you deserve the healing that will follow.

But the healing came down. 

Though I've mutilated the race for Christ and made it a race for the fragile nothingness surrounding me, Christ came as soon as my cry was heard. He opened hands and heart once again to a life of praising, glorifying, and living in love Himself for eternity.

One truth, rock solid. One race to run.

What is your hope in?