Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and follow Me.

-Song of Songs 2:10














Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yearns For



My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for You.
-Isaiah 26:9
           
            What does your soul long for?
            What do the inner spaces of your heart burn for? What strikes the match and sets your passion aflame?
            In the most sensitive chambers, your most tender pieces, what is it you really and truly yearn for?
            Surface. You keep it all above the surface, bobbing in the abyss and hollowing up your heart with a soft smile and simple greeting that tells the world you’re fine, that you’re simply floating through this life.
            But that’s not what you’re meant for. You know it, in the terrible tremors that rattle your ribcage and keep you up at night, breath heaving, head spinning. Reach your fingers beneath the waters and delve into the inner workings of your hidden secrets, the closed doors that dare not come unlocked. Turn over the tables, smash the lamps and watch them shatter across the floor. Let out the lion that prowls within. Open up, admit to yourself that what you seek is more than surface words and clever conversation.
            There is something you crave. In the caverns of your chest, it pulses, murmurs, reaches out with ready hands. You cannot keep control if you’re meant to lose your life.
            So what is it you can’t keep washed down? What is it that fills your eyes with purpose, that lingers on your lips with sugared satisfaction? What is it that keeps you up in those marble midnight hours, trembling and flapping its wings, daring itself to unclasp the hinge of its cage?
            Purple hearted, bleeding beauty that penetrates your armored skin. There it lies, ready and willing to fight with you. To launch your cause and blow this world into another orbit souls have never seen.
            Go into that sacred space. Train your eyes to the darkness and feel around until you find its wriggling form, eager to be unleashed.
            What is it your soul longs for?

Prayer:

Father, my heart bleeds. Even when I don’t want to admit it, can’t find the way into those sacred chambers. But You have instilled these longings within me, these passions I can’t shake. Please help me know what to do with them, to admit to wanting more and steady my breath to linger under the surface. Take my heart and turn it to Yours. Amen.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fulfill My Lonely Heart



He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry and saves them.
-Psalm 145:19


This snow keeps spilling from the sky, folding itself over the earth, white with purity wrapped in puckered pain forgotten.

            Its beauty steals my breath, silences my wavering doubt that shivers, brittle, beneath the earth.

            The wind is fierce, cold and penetrating, slapping my face and shaking me to expose myself to the thoughts that vie to break me.

            I am still together, founded on my faith, trusting in all that moves unseen. The snow still clothes bare branches with modesty and reason. In my heart, beneath my breast, the flurries pile and pierce my tender places, chipping away at the edges, and I am one more flake away from fully covered.

            What if I admitted that I’m lonely? That my heart is hungry for attention and turns to the sky and seeks shelter in Your arms? What if I said I’ve lost my confidence and need You to swoop in and show me just how much I’m worth in Your eyes?

            What if I told You the restlessness in my heart won’t settle and is burdened by being so far from what I’ve held so close?

            You tell me that You alone can satisfy, so why am I flailing my arms, trying to grab onto anything that stops my spinning, drinking any drop that slides down my throat to keep me from falling to the floor in uncertainty?

            My soul burns for You to blaze in front of me and remind me that You are here with me, fervently fighting for my honor, rising up as a lion and roaring in protection. I want to feel You in my bones, screaming in my sinews and ardently pursuing me in my dreams.

            I want to feel You, hear You, call to You so passionately my throat dries and dents in protest. You tell me You are with me, but my heart has so far sunk into my chest it’s threatening to bury itself in the sands of my aching.

            Do what You need to do in order to bring light to my eyes once again, to soothe me with truth and stamp Your seal upon my heart. For I am small and needy, curled up against the crowd and ducking down to be unseen. I have found familiar comfort in shadows, in shrinking. You believe me to be more, to be bold and brave and beautiful.

            Help me to see it, help me to feel the intensity of Your stare and sweetness of breath against my lips. Revive me, restore me, melt my hardened heart afraid to hope and set me high in Your heavens, set above the sparkling snow that builds its base in Your commands.

            I am all of the above, I am waiting with fervency for You to crash into me and tear new fulfillment into the fibers of my chest.

Prayer:
Lord, I am alone and in the unknown. Each day I am wandering, seeking, and yet I do not find. Fix my eyes on Your majesty, Your beauty and Your great desire to call me Your own. Help my heart, let it be consumed by You. Call to me Lord, with urgency and undying affection. Amen.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Receive with an Open Heart




Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.
-Philippians 4:17-18


An unusual transaction in my bank account.

            I didn’t go in and add money, but there it was, more than what I had the day before. A gift, apparently, from a donor for my adventure and to sustain me until I get my first paycheck at the end of the month. My parents relayed this to me, because they somehow took a few of my deposit slips from my bank book before I left. My body recoiled against the news- how dare they deal with my account and go in and add a sum to my account without my knowledge or permission! I burned with red hot anger and my pride ruffled and rampaged on the defensive. I’m a grown woman, and I don’t need pity offerings to keep me on my feet because I’ve chosen the road less traveled for the past few years and made just enough to break even.

            I rushed out a check for the amount back and slipped it into a letter I wrote to home. I mailed it and told them to remember and tell whoever sent it that I would not accept handouts.

I don’t like to receive.

            I don’t want to take charity from anyone, but I am stuck with nothing to do but accept what I have no control over. Receive the kindness of strangers, the offering of time and homes and meals. Receiving gifts family and friends send, monetary and otherwise.

            It’s been a struggle for years. I like to give, hate to receive. I hate to use the word hate because it has such strong, vibrant implications, but all of me cries against the gifts that show up on my doorstep with no return address.

I’m bad at accepting things. Always have been. I don’t even know why. I love to make others happy, like to surprise them with a small something- a cup of coffee, a beautiful journal waiting for their thoughts and ideas, a note of encouragement to tell them how beautiful they are. I love showering them with love in a way I pray portrays God’s love and how special they truly are in His sight. I don’t like others to think of me. I am simply God’s servant, doing my tasks for Him as is my duty. I do not expect, nor look for, anything in return. Which is why at the first sign of generosity my guard goes up and I back myself in a corner, ready to spring.

I’ve railed against this act throughout my life, and it’s noted most closely by my family. As my mom likes to joke with a sad truth to her tone, “It’s a wonder you’ve been able to accept God’s grace in Christ.”

That’s a true statement, and it makes me think. Has there been a time where I have readily or eagerly accepted a gift? Have I opened cupped hands, cherishing the object or kind word lovingly placed in my palms?

            How can I be so resistant while others take so freely, almost to the point of greed? They think nothing of the action and I sit and mull it over and brace myself for the resistance that coils so electric inside me.

Call it undiscovered pride, call it stubbornness or a blinding false belief. Or just plain believing a lie. I can make it on my own. I don’t need help. I can’t let anyone give me something because it will make me look like a freeloader.

A few days after sending the letter home my family received my returned check and gave me a call. I tried to keep my voice down while discussing the offering. Then I found out who it was from and wept. My heart softened at the thought and care and generosity that this person carefully constructed to provide me. Because this person loved me, because I was off on my own venturing into this new life God has called me to, because of what I mean to them, they wanted to show me the same kindness I’ve shown to them through the years.

My family tore up the check and I am keeping this sweet offering. And after my tantrum, when the emotion flees from my body and I sit mentally crumpled in surrender in my room, a thought comes to me, quiet but poignant.

In refusing the gift, I refuse the giver. In turning away a great offering that takes time, thought and effort on the part of the person offering, I do them a disgrace and say they are not worthy of my acceptance, that if I turn away whatever it is they stand before me holding, I am not allowing them into my heart, I am not allowing them to show me this same love of God that I strive to share.

God loves a cheerful giver. But He also smiles upon a cheerful receiver. One who knows where the gift comes from and willingly acknowledges His presence in the present. One who looks upon the giver and sees the heart inside the act, the quiver of excitement in sharing the moment and seeing the delight shine in grateful eyes. To give is to receive, but to receive offers up a selfless, holy gift, as well.

I’d like to say I’m changed forever. That it’s a quick fix and I’ll never again fight against something slipped into my hands. I know this new realization will take time to sink in my head, tie around my heart. This will be an ongoing process, one I will continually have to check my behavior and actions and seek Christ’s demeanor in this sacrifice. For it is a heavenly offering, a sacrifice sweeter than the works I grind out each day.

Still this stubbornness. Look the gift head on and see beyond to who offers and humbly accept what God gives. Be glorified in the gratitude, fellowship with the donor, whoever they may be, and receive with an open heart.

Prayer:
Lord I thank You for opening my eyes to see my stubbornness. I thank You that You want to work with me to see receiving as an act of worship, a gift to You to bring joy and gladness to not only myself, but the person who gives to me, as well. Please help me to keep this perspective as I struggle with accepting, and may I continually be thankful for the gift You gave in Your Son Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Just Be




Because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from Heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.
-Luke 1:78-79

 

            It’s Christmas. Snow sparkles on the boughs of trees, crystal flakes floating through the air, breath escaping lungs and dancing into the cold. Streets bustle with last minute activity, families gather, laughter bright and echoing. The world rejoices, but only after items are crossed off wish lists, stockings are stuffed and minds are filled to the brim with any and every last minute details.

            You, my dear one, are craving a moment to quiet your heart. I see it in your beautiful face, lines etched with pressure of performance. You fidget, you flounder, you fear this Christmas will be forgotten.

Slow down. Still yourself in the slur of frenzy and a race to rush ahead. Forget the gifts, glitter and ribbon glow, the wrapping, the cookies warm and full in the oven. Stop your straining.

            Just be.

            Be a silent night, an inky softness in the eve, velvet, expectant and pregnant with wonder.

Be a blazing light, when angels lit the sky and sang melodies no mortal ear has ever heard.

Be a believer, like shepherds who heard of a King and eagerly raced to a manger and tell the town of what they saw.

Be a Mary, storing her baby boy deep in the pockets of her heart, pondering the glory in a mud-stench stable.

Be a star, stretched high above and bringing good tidings to all men, a burning glimmer greeting the earth.

Be grace-filled. Brimming with the Life that lay swaddled in cloths and pumping tiny fists against straw. For what this tiny child came to do. And how you are helpless to DO anything but receive Him.

O come, let us adore Him. This small and silent Savior, who saved our sanity while saving our souls.

Prepare your heart for the miracle of the nativity, the miraculous in the mundane and the blessed rest your core is ready to claim.


Prayer:
Lord, let this be a silent night to savor You. To remember the world as it was thousands of years ago. Take me to that night, that wondrous miracle that unfolded in a stable. Quiet my heart. Help me to rest and remember all that You have done and all this season means. Please slow me down to discover the beauty and glory of this Christmas. Amen.

Golden Boy




Whoever welcomes one of these little children in My name welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me but the One who sent Me.
-Mark 9:37


I have always loved you from afar.

            When I first saw your photograph, the smooth, cinnamon of your skin and round, imploring eyes, my heart cried out for you. My soul leapt across oceans to find you and soothe your fears. “Yes,” it whispered. “I have found you. I choose you. I am molded to your heart. I will love you with all I have.”

            And so I read of your world through letters, poured my eyes over the lines to learn of all you liked, and prayed with hope lifted for God to hold you close because I couldn’t. At night I dreamed of your laughter and wrapped my life with yours. Thoughts and questions danced in my mind, tinkling like wind chimes lulling me to sleep. Who do you want to be? What is the color of your heart? Do you ever think of me? I don’t know if you could feel it, but I sent a piece of myself in every photograph and card I could never send fast enough. For years I gave my heart to you, over a distance that carried promise and love in a thousand translations. In the deepest, most timid spaces of my heart, I kept the desire to see you tucked inside.

            You were an angel haloed in Heaven, and I could not touch you with earthly fingers reaching and climbing to your castle in the clouds. I always yearned for you, soaking in the colors in your drawings, noting how you always painted a sun that brightly shined in the sky.

            And then, a miracle. My arms, flying to yours. I prepared for months, thinking of things you’d like and stenciling your smile in my mind. Each day was another breath, drawing the space between us closer, each month a planet orbiting around your light. I was in your pull, and it was all I could do to keep from running the miles and countries between us until I found you in the breaking daylight. Patience was a thorn in my side.

            I crossed borders and skylines to be with you. As I waited to meet you, my stomach jumped, full of tiny crickets that chirped to see your face. My eyes devoured the doors, watching for the chocolate hair and secret smile. I became the earth, anticipating the moment when you streak into my atmosphere, a burning ball of beautiful boy. My heart was a stuttering record, skipping and scratching against my lungs. Seconds seeped by, trickling onto the pavement until I saw a pair of black shoes stepping towards the door. Air caught in my throat and my eyes drank you in- every curve of your face, each strand of hair blowing in the quiet breeze, the wide eyed innocence and shyness pooling in those endless brown eyes.

            I knelt to you and found my hands reaching for you and suddenly the softness of your shirt was knit to me and your tiny bones found space between mine. The span of your arms reached around my neck and wrapped me to you. And I held on, breathing in the life beating before me and the particles arranging to make us one. You are flesh and bone before me, with a heart so wide and gentle, generous and joyful. My world ignited this day, fanned by the flames of your unabashed laughter, the sheer radiance of your spirit. My life burns brighter because of you, because of the unquestioning acceptance you give me; no hesitation, only happiness.

            You are my sun. You move me in ways I never dreamed possible. I am yours, and it tears me apart to say goodbye. Here I sit, thousands of miles in the air, staring at the steams of golden light woven in the clouds, crying next to a stranger because I am moving away from you. I mourn the distance growing between us, and I have a crazy thought to demand that the pilot turn around and bring me back to you.

            But still, you are here with me. Cradled in the softest pocket of my heart, your smile sewn on my lips. Your blazing eyes fused in mine, the web of your small hand still pressed in my own. We will be together again. We will float through the universe of our dreams and our love will be transferred between God’s messengers.

            I have loved you with a closeness that transcends mortal ways of wonder. We are welded in one another, and what God has matched together, no man can take apart.

            You are my heart. You are my golden boy, my teacher, my admiration. I am forever changed because of you. Shine brightly. The radiance of our Lord is bursting out of your sun-swept soul.

Prayer:
Lord, thank You for this experience that goes beyond words. Thank You for the privilege of helping Freddy grow and learn of You. Watch over him, guide him, and keep him close to Your heart. Please be with the children waiting to hear of Your hope and love, may they keep the joy that radiates within them, and may You call upon Your men and women to step up and give voice for the voiceless. Amen.
 
 

Coming Home




I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
-Ecclesiastes 3:12


Your words are like coming home.
 

                Each line, like a gate enveloping a warm butter yellow house, latch loose and swinging open easily to walk the path up to the painted wood porch that awaits me.

                Meaning blooms from the page of Your persistency, fragrant violets and azaleas assailing my senses as the roots You plant in me strike deeply in the soil.

“I will not give you up.” Each letter delves into the fervency of Your declaration.

“You are Mine.” Each syllable strikes through the thunderstorms raining down on me, seeking to drown as I reach for You.

            I was a vagabond. Dust-drenched and dry, cracking in a stagnant stubbornness. My own wandering quickly caught me in a trap of thistles. The more I shook to escape my discomfort, the tighter all the thorns stretched around me. I was becoming a wilting vine in a weary plot of land.

But You saw my snare and leapt to pull me from my folly. Tearing apart the weeds wrapped upon my soul, You snatched me from the thicket and brought me to a garden of refreshment, wrapped along a porch filled with laughter and dazzling sunlight, and wide, welcoming arms.

I reveled in the attention and listened to the winds whisper my arrival. How eagerly they swept in to see me, how languidly they lingered and let Your breath wash them through my stains.

This is a retreat and revival I have never known. This is the front porch peace I’ve always dreamed yet never seen. And You are the bright burning streak of light that glistens in the twilight. Your smile stretches across the covered caverns of my heart, filling the void with color and scent central to my prayer. You drift along my memory like a lilac and rose scented sky.

I am here. I am happy. I am closer to the clouds than I have ever known. Wrapped in a blanket of bliss, I serenely stare at the waltzing world, laughing and dancing and waving to me in shared revelry. And as You shift into the seat beside me, I turn to take in Your vibrant eyes and find the space my heart has forever longed for.

 
Prayer:
For the first time in a monument of memories, I am happy. I am hopeful and serene and settled securely in the soothing truth of Your care. You have found me and saved me from my searching. Restore my heart to fill with Your favor and savory sweetness. Amen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Wrestling with Your Wonder



Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not go unless you bless me.”
-Genesis 32:26


            Imagine me, so shy and shaking, rising above my fear and daring to dance with the flashing of Your eyes. Were I to lift my chin with certainty, could it stay stoic and brave?

            I have humbled myself in the dust, knowing my place before You. At one light kiss of air I could disintegrate into no existence, pulled away by Your power. But I have been created in Your image, and seen as good. I am part of Your people, painted into Your world and placed with purpose to fill the vacancy void.

            I must be worth something. You must see me as more than cunning claims me to be. I am Your child, and as such I can be sure You want what’s best. Which means I can make my way through a bruise-filled night where a pressing pushes in around me, and I am held by iron hands. I can push back and bring a turning tide towards the dawn. And though I am weak, I will hold steady to the truth that You listen to my requests. “Bless me,” I will mutter, mutely at first, because I am uncertain myself at what I ask, but my heart will strengthen and grow grander in its gusto. “Bless me,” I will repeat, louder, steadier, matching the rhythm of my heart. Because You are good and have come to claim me as Your prize. My hands close around your coattails refusing to loosen because I believe in Your blessing, that it will fall upon me and shine like the sun.

            I will receive your inheritance. I will be firm in step for following You. And I will come out touched and changed for holding You to promises You have held for me until the perfect time, after wrestling with Your wonder.


Prayer:
Father, thank You that You long to bless me and teach me Your ways. I am stubborn, and I struggle to see what You have before me, but I long to grab onto You and wrestle with my past, present, and future and refuse to stop until You promise You are with me wherever I go. Help me to hold on to Your promises, and reach for Your love. Amen.