"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Advent Needed Today

Last night it was at 2 am.  Sometimes it comes in the quiet of the morning... or maybe it comes into the stillness found when I am chopping vegetables for dinner.  Worry.

Worry comes.  Unbidden.  Unwelcome.  But, it comes and I find myself fighting for breath and truth---searching for a solid rock for my emotions to rest upon.

Worry.  Often about yesterday.  Most often about tomorrow.  The thoughts swirl around my mind and my heart.  Dizzy with what feels "real"...but, in reality isn't real at all.  It isn't now.  It's a story.  It is only a fictional piece playing in my mind:  Re-membering yesterday and fore-telling tomorrow.  What might have been?  What I should have done.  What I did wrong?  Will I have enough?  What might come?  What could be the end of this story line?  What if?

Last night it came at 2 am.

The darkness and loneliness of night makes the battle evermore fierce sometimes, doesn't it?

Truth fought hard at the corners and edge of my mind last night.  Do not worry.   Do not be afraid.  Do not be anxious about anything.  I heard the whispers.  But, these words felt so far off.  He felt so far off.

Lord, why is it so hard sometimes for me to take this in?  Why can I not live in this freedom that you offer and bought for me?  

Lessons long learned.  Lessons taught and written about here.  Freedom found.  And, so easily lost... again.  I believe.  Help me with my unbelief!

Morning came.  It always does.  Oh, my Dayspring!  "...through the tender mercy of God, whereby the dayspring from on high hast visited us, to give light to them that sit in the darkness..."  (Luke 1:76-79)

His faithfulness found me here again.  This morning I came.  I sat and waited.  I listened to His Word.  I asked.  Today, a fresh day.  A day to stand on His Truth and He, Himself, as the rock that can steady my heart.  His hold ever secure in midst of the fictional flood that overwhelmed me last night.

He came.  Today, He came.  My Dayspring.  My love.

Love comes.

Truth comes.  Light floods.  Welcomed.  Asked for.  ...hoped for.  The coming.  The Advent again this morning.  Fresh coming.  His whispers---ever steadfast---won and pushed through this morning.  No longer at the edge, His Presence filled.

Advent means the arrival.  The coming.  The rising.  The dawning.  My Advent, my Jesus!  Oh how this heart needs Your coming each and every day.

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Loaves

"Fraud alert!" is never a good email subject line.  Right?

Usually these alerts amount to nothing.  Something I did has triggered the credit card or bank alert system. But, not yesterday.  

Yesterday 1,000 dollars was taken from my bank account.  After seeing the alert, I logged into our bank and my savings account sat there staring at me with 0.08 cents as it's balance.  Black and white.  8 cents. The money was gone!   

In the following micro seconds, while staring at the 8 cents,  I had a fervent stream of  deep fear and worry.... my daughter's help for college, travel to my brother's wedding this summer, the car breaks...  AH!  How?!  NO!?!  

And then almost immediately the phrase came into my mind... understand and remember the loaves...

Quiet and whispered...  remember the loaves, Stephanie.  

The phrase floated over my consciousness, as I sat staring at my empty bank account, and I could feel a peaceful invitation.  Actually, maybe a smiling, happy invitation:  Come in... You need never be afraid.  You can be unmoved.  You actually can trust Me right now, too.  

Recently, my son and I have been discussing this "loaves" phrase from Matthew 6: 50-52 " Take courage!  It is I.  Do not be afraid.  Then He climbed into the boat with them and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hard"

Directly after watching Jesus feed five thousand people, the disciples get into a boat and get caught in rocky, difficult weather and water.  They are afraid.  Jesus walks to them on the water and that freaks-them-out maybe more!  The minute He gets in the boat, the water calms.  This surprised and shocked them, too.  What?  Jesus can do miracles?  What?  He can walk on water?  ...and in His presence, the wind dies down?!  It is almost as if this was the first time they had seen Him do miracles.  But it wasn't!! They had already seen so much.  In fact, He had JUST fed five thousand mouths in front of their eyes.  (with twelve left over baskets of fish and loaves, I might add!) 

But, their hearts were hard and they hadn't taken it in.  They hadn't understood.  They weren't remembering.  They were walking into this new situation---rough, tough seas and the ghost of Jesus--- and they were not translating His previous work to their difficult-now.  

How often do I do this?  How often do I forget?  

Oh! How many thousands of loaves has He given me and others I love!?!  Oh... how many answered prayers has He heard and answered.  He has lavished His very Self on and in me.  Years and years of fresh, daily miracles:  His power shown forth in food and the elements.  In the midst of difficult and the hard He has been present.    

In that early morning moment in front of my empty bank account, I stopped.  I hear you, Lord.  Almost with a slight giggle myself, I said out loud:  I understand the loaves, Lord!  I will remember and not harden my heart.   And, I left it.  ...not physically, of course.  There are phone calls and emails to be written---follow-up needed.  But, I left it emotionally.   I really left it.  

The whole day I left it.  Because of the time zone issue, there was nothing to be done till evening.  But, I dropped it and moved on in my day with peace and joy.  

With the trust, there was an implicit assumption and understanding that it may mean the money was gone for good, never to be recovered.  Sometimes God says, "No" to our requests.  He doesn't always give us physical loaves, to be sure.  Jesus never promises that the boat isn't going to rock!! 

If the money is gone for good...  Jesus, You've got this and You are with me!  

If it can be recovered... Jesus, You've got this and You are with me!  

I need never worry.  

I do worry sometimes.  And, I do harden my heart.  I don't always hear or respond to His peace-filled invitations.  But...  

Today, I understood the loaves.  

*In the end, the situation was sorted by the bank.  The money was returned.  There was indeed theft and apparently someone in New York had my debit card (even though I have it in hand here in the UK).  The joys of this dark and clever criminal world we live in!  But, in truth, all is well.  By the end of the day... all bread was back in the basket!  And I have plenty.    ...but, actually, in truth, I had plenty and enough when the bank account showed 0.08 cents.   

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can you just sit and wait, Stephanie?

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It was 2 in the afternoon when the electricity went off.

Surprised, I got up and went in search of the landlady to let her know.

I had come away for a few days of quiet retreat with the Lord.  Staying in a tiny little cottage down the road from my house, I had been having a great time journaling and praying.  

Hardly even bothered about the electrics, I stuck my head out of the cottage and happened upon the landlady to let her know about the shut-down. She wasn't surprised; but apologetically explained that she would have it all sorted by 4----a few hours time.  No worries, right?  

The hours past quickly as I continued to worship, journal, read and pray.  I first realized the passing of time when I noticed the darkening of the room and I started to get a little cold (the heating is connected to the electrics).  I got up in order to start the kettle for a cup of tea.  ...no electricity.   Looking at the clock, it was now 5 PM...  and the daylight was quickly leaving.  My little cottage was starting to get dark and cold---and I just wanted a hot drink.  

So, slightly bothered now, I popped my head out of the cottage in search of the landlady.  She was no where to be found.  So, I ventured out...  finding the electricians hard at work by flashlight and lanterns.  Yes, darkness was indeed quickly descending.  

I politely asked them when they might be done working... and they assured me that it would only be another half hour at most.  As I turned away from them and began walking back to my dark cabin, I felt the strong urge to cry... sadness was welling up---hard and fast.  

Wow!  These strong emotions...for this relatively small thing, Lord...  What is this about, Father? I want to weep here.  What is really going on in my heart.  

I sat down and picked up my journal and with the trickle of light from the descending sun,  I wrote: "This is definitely not only about the electricity!" 

I spent the next few minutes crying and writing...  trying to articulate all the "small" and large things that have been frustrating lately.  ...the myriad of things that I am and have been waiting for.  

Waiting.  It is not an easy thing to do!  I am not a patient person.  ...and there is a lot of waiting and ambiguity in this life.  

The landlady said it would be working at 4:00... it was now nearly 6 PM.  I was cold, getting hungry, tired, and it was dark.  I was imminently loosing my the ability to do any journaling or reading.  

The next hour was spent in utter frustration.  In and out of the cottage, I went.  Making my annoyance known in small ways... I paced, I sighed.  I asked again--- when?  When will this be sorted?  I kept getting the same answer...  only a few more minutes.  Surely just 20 more minutes.  

The sadness I had been feeling slowly and steadily turned to anger.  Utter frustration.  

As I sat in the dark cabin... verses kept coming to my head, on after another.  Wait on the Lord.  Wait for the Lord continually (Hosea 12:6).  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Psalm 37:7).  I wait for the Lord, my soul waits!  (Psalm 130:5)  

Just wait.  Can you just wait?  

Stephanie, wait on the Lord. 

At 7:15, I texted my husband:  Dark.  Cold.  Hungry.  Electricity is still out.  I am done.  I am so frustrated.  Waiting in the dark...  

He wrote back:  Do you want me to come get you?  

Clear as a sun-filled day, I knew in that instant the answer to that kind question from my husband...  
I knew.  I knew I needed to wait.  

I texted back...  I don't know.  ...No,  I think God is asking me to wait.  

He texted back...  Ok.  Wait it is.  Hmmmm...  Waiting in the dark.  Praying for you right now.  

Yep!  He knows.  My husband knows all the things we are waiting for.  

In that moment, I put my phone down.  I  walked over with distinct purpose and sat on the couch. With stubborn resolve... with a sorta-"fine, then!"-mild tantrum feeling, I sat down.

OK, Lord,  I am going to wait!!  I don't know how long, but here I am...  Here I am.  I am waiting.  Into the dark, I went and I sat. Hands on my knees, sitting with obstinate determination... I sat and chose to wait. In that moment I felt surrender.  

It was only seconds, hardly even a minute later...the lights came on.  

Just like that... as if with perfect comedic timing the Lord responded to my final surrender with: Good!  Well done.  Finally!  And, bam! the electricity came on.  

It was 7:30 PM and God had another life lessons for me...  Can you wait, Stephanie?  Just stop, sit down... be still and know that I am God.  Not the first time we have been here!  But, indeed, here we are again.   Just waiting.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Friend's Lament...Tears as Intercession

When I heard the news, I immediately burst into tears!

Tragedy struck my friend's family last weekend and I could barely believe my eyes as I read.  NO!  I can't possibly be understanding this correctly... No, Lord... NO!

The stream of tears surprised me.  Tears, like I have said before, are not a norm for me... and yet, they came like a torrent.  I wept for my friend.  I wept for the loss of a brother.  I wept for the children. Very few words... only tears.

It was as if the Lord was allowing me to feel, just a small tiny bit, of what she and her kiddos must be feeling when they heard that their father was gone.  ...in an instant.  One car.   One moment.  And, his life here on earth was over.

The shock.  The trauma.  The confusion. The pain.  ...oh! the grief, Lord!

While, I know, we don't grieve like those without faith... (1 Thessalonians 4:13) We have a great and enduring hope!  I am certain, without any shadow, where this man who loved God is now living--- oh! the glory of the resurrection! 

BUT, while we don't grieve without hope; we do still grieve.  We must grieve.  We must lament. We turn our hearts and our tears into a Psalm to set before the Father's heart.   When I read the news, I wanted to wail, to rend my garments and put ash on my head.

Our hearts are made for eternity.  Death is a separation that cuts and bleeds and tears at our very God-made natures.  We know we are made for more... for always-togetherness.  Death feels like a harsh blow in the now.

For days now, I have been carrying this friend.  Night and day.  As if I am walking so very closely to these dear ones.  It is like I can hear their hearts, feel their cries.  I have been feeling deep and profound sadness for days.  "When one part of the body hurts, the whole of the body hurts."  (1 Corinthians 12:26)  I know I am not alone in this pain-carrying.  I see it on social media.  Others are affected by this loss of a friend, a brother, a mentor.  We grieve and we pray.  We worship and we try to lend a hand.  What else do we have?

I believe that God gifts us with this grief-intercession in order to bear the burden and lighten the load. Jesus Himself is the "light" yoke (Matthew 11:28)--- and we are His hands, feet, mouth, and His eyes as we cry.

Lord, may my tears to you be an offering---an intercession.  Would You count all our tears as we grieve and would You have mercy and hear our cry?  We know this world is not our home.  We put our trust in You alone.  We believe that You are the God of all comfort; that you, Jesus are a man of sorrows, well acquainted with suffering.  Oh! How this mamma and those children need You right now.  We ask, ...we know..., that you will come alongside and cover.  Just as their daddy once covered... would You be their shield and their rock; their strong tower in the midst of this time of trouble.  

~~To support and carry this family, please consider giving to their go-fund-me account. We can lend a hand and lighten the load, even if only slightly.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Defiant Against a Dark Morning

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There are just those days...  

There are mornings when I wake up and it feels really dark.  ...the sun is shining and the sleep was fine---but, the cob webs are thick in my brain and my heart feels heavy.   A dark cloud hovers.  I just feel very tired.  Sad.  Dark.  Do you ever feel this way?  

This morning I crawled out of bed with a hovering weight and exhaustion...  wishing for more hours in bed.  As I sat down, methodically following my stubborn routine of "God-time first", I opened up to Psalm 25. And, there it was... 

There it was in black and white print---life on a page.  An invitation.  Light to be had.  ...an offering:  

"In you, Lord my God, I put my trust"

On dark and difficult days, I have a choice.  Do I open up and let the light in?  Do I lift my face and speak truth to my soul?  

This morning, as I read these words, I knew there was an invitation.  Trust Me.  

Trust me for your enough again today.  In Me you have all you need.  Trust Me for all you need.  Trust that I am bigger than it all.  

In exhausted surrender, my head fell back into the arm chair, face raised... 

I can only whisper these words today---  You are bigger than it all!  In, You, Lord my God, I put my trust!  

I sat...  for how long, Lord?  I sat and I asked.  I prayed.  I listened.  In You, Lord my God, I put my trust!  

Into my heart began a faint song...  words that rang true and echoed life.  "We are more than conquerors through Christ"   (song here... do have a listen, if you can...such beautiful truth in this song!)  

I found my phone and listened on repeat--- these words becoming my prayer.  

There will be dark days...  we have them.  We all do.  The heavy dark speaks lies to us and makes us feel we are separated from Him in some way.  This is not true!  We are never separated from His love.  Never.  

Seek Him first...  open His word, looking for His heart and His invitation of life and light.  

For, indeed, we are more than conquerors through Christ!  
"In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!  For I am convinced [that nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord!" (Romans 8:37-39)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Songs of My Heart

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Like a stream of consciousness, the memories come unbidden.

I was simply sitting down to blow dry my wet hair and then in my mind's eye, I am there...  nearly 20 years ago, but I am "seeing" it and feeling it, like it was yesterday.

While in this season of launching my first child, there seems to be this movement in my mind... seemingly random memories coming like a wave.

Different things trigger the memories---a picture, a smell, a song, a comment.  This morning it was music.  As I often do,  I hit play on my "Worship" playlist.  I sat to begin a regular morning routine of makeup and hair.  Within only a few notes, the memory came rushing in...

link for song...  take a listen, if you can

The song begins with ..."It is our confession what we are weak... so very weak!" 

In a moment, I was taken back...  holding, rocking, clutching a baby girl.  We had taken this little one with us across the ocean into a backwater country.  Young and terrified, I stood over her crib, holding her tiny body while her fever screamed at my momma's heart, "Be afraid, be very afraid!"  

It is an intense fear that we feel as we hold our little ones and watch them writhe and struggle against sickness.  It is a deeply intense fear that we all feel when we are out of control... when we can't fix it, we can't make it okay.  

That night long ago, it was this song that I sung over her.  As I held her and prayed, the words seemed to flow out of my soul---a song, a prayer, a confession---

 "It is my confession, Lord, that I am weak---so very weak---but, You are strong!"

It's our confession, Lord that we are weak…So very weak, but You are strong
And though we've nothing, Lord…To lay at Your feet
We come to Your feet and say, "Help us along"
A broken heart and a contrite spirit, You have yet to deny
Your heart of mercy beats with love's strong current.
Let the river flow, God.  By Your Spirit now, Lord we cry
Let your mercies fall from heaven! Sweet mercies flow from heaven!
New mercies for today--Shower them down Lord, as we pray

How long did I rock her and sing this song over her that night?  It feels like I have been singing and rocking this over her for her entire life!

Today, as I writhe and struggle with the feelings of launching her.  As I watch her sadness, her pain, and as I feel my own...  As we truly roller-coaster-ride the ups and downs of this launch:  ...excitement, hope, anticipation, mixed with the high fever of grief, frustration and terror...

As her tears, and mine, scream at us, "Be afraid, be very afraid!",  I am in that selfsame place I was 18 years ago.  

I am holding her, rocking her with my heart, and I am praying these very same words... 

Help us along!  New mercies for today, Lord, shower them down as we pray!  

And, each time I sing this.  Each time I pray...  He holds and He rocks.  He stills.  In these moments, I know He sings over my soul.  Even when I can't hear it, I know He is singing...  He is always singing His song.  

Today, I choose to listen and lean in.  I let Him hold me and rock me.  Today, I say "yes" and hear His words--- Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

My Enough

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In this season of life sleep is not always a given.  There are many mornings when I feel heavy and exhausted after the restless or sleepless night.  It had become a daily habit of mine to tell the family at the breakfast table how much sleep I had gotten...  "I only got 3 hours of sleep last night" ...longing for those around me to take part, sympathize, and understand.

It was only a few weeks ago that I had the thought... why am I keeping track?  What is the point?  Is it helping me in any way to know?**

Brene Brown in her fabulous books often talks about a 'mentality of scarcity'.  We walk around struggling with the "not enough" feeling all day long.  Scarcity.  I am not enough... or I don't have enough.  Not thin enough.  Not smart enough.  Not tall enough.  Not funny enough.  Not enough time.  Not enough sleep.  Not enough energy.  Not enough fun.  Not enough money.

This 'not enough' mentality--- scarcity--- haunts us and follows us around throughout our days. But, it's a lie.  This way of thinking is absolutely false.

In contrast, we are told that we have "all we need for life and godliness"...  (2 Peter 1:3).  Scripture tells us that God gives us all we need...

It is false to say I don't have enough for life.  No!  In Christ, I truly have all I need!

"The way to slowly die is to believe you live in scarcity---not abundance" ~Ann Voskamp

According to Scripture, when we live in Christ, we live in abundance.  Abundance of grace. Abundance of strength.  Abundance of peace.  Abundance of life and light and truth...

So, I have decided to stop keeping track.

An older friend here told me she read an article that said it is helpful to not look at the clock when you wake up in the middle of the night.  The news article stated that it helps you fall asleep quicker if you don't know... or don't look.  I started there one night.  (and this was quite a discipline)

Now when I am tossing and turning... or wide awake... I just don't look.  I cover my clock with a book!  Why do I need to know?  It only brings trouble to my mind, it never helps.

I just stopped keeping track entirely.  I don't count.  I don't keep track and I don't tell my family how much sleep I got, or didn't get.  I actually don't know!

My goal in the morning, instead, is to swing my feet around, plant them firm on the ground and stand on the truth that I have enough.  For today.  For life and godliness, today, I have all I need.   In this, I can be very thankful for any and all sleep.  Slowly, I am trusting I got exactly what I need.  Jesus is my enough.  He has given me all I need today for life and for godliness...

Today, I had just enough sleep.  If, in fact, I didn't get much; then, He will give me enough energy for what He is calling me to today.  In Him, I have enough.

I speak to my soul...  Trust the Lord, Stephanie.  Trust that He is Your enough.  Trust that in Him you have abundance.  He has given you what you need.  And, indeed, He will give you what you need for today.  

**Of course, it is helpful to keep track of these things when we are struggling to take good care of ourselves.  ...am I giving myself the vegetables I need?  Am I giving my body exercise and healthy care?  Am I going to bed at a beneficial time---allowing for enough sleep?  In these ways, it can be super helpful to know... or keep track.  But, this isn't my problem.  I am taking good care of my body--- heading to bed at a decent hour.  I am just simply not sleeping.  (a very common problem, so I hear, with women 'my age' and older!)  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sorting and Slowly Saying Goodbye

She is sorting her room.  It's time.  In 12 short weeks, she will pack up and leave this home... beginning the launch into a new world.

Bravely, she has been sorting and purging her things.  Her clothes...  ah!! but, I remember her in that shirt, that dress, that sweater!  

This girl, my sweet girl.  The one who keeps everything... the girl who remembers gifts given to her from 10 years ago.
With courage, she sorts and she purges.

Her art... her crafts...her jewelry... her books...   ah!  I remember those art books and the years of painting with those brushes!   ah!  I remember her devouring that book series.  

Unlike some, we don't have the freedom (or the "illusion" of freedom) to assume we will be in this physical place forever... so she has to pack it all up.  It all needs to be put in a box or a bag... a few things to store for "memory" sake (can Grandma's attic even take any more of our things!?)  ...a few things to fill a dorm room.

Most of her things...  most---we will just give away.  The first load went today.  Dad drove it up to the local charity store and offered these things as a gift.  We lay it down and give it away.  It feels heavy as we carry the boxes of books and label them "free to a good home".  ...in a strange way, the books feel like they have life in them---tied so strongly to a lovely memory of her.  Her childhood in a pile stacked in a box.  ...memories of her snuggled up in bed, reading.

It's a strange journey we walk here on earth.  All of us.  We know, somewhere deep, that this earth is not our home.  We are not long for here.  We know this.  Scripture tells us that walking this sod is only a quick, whispering breath in the scheme of time and Reality.
"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” You do not even know what will happen tomorrow! What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)
Our lives are just a mist...  a mist that appears and then vanishes.  

So why does it hurt so much to let these things go?  Why does this pink sweater, this piece of art, that necklace, and these books... why do they tug at my mother's heart and hurt so much.  Why does the box of books feel so very heavy as I lay it down? 

I am pondering and sorting with her, I think.  I am sorting through memories.  Sorting through the truth of these last 18 years...  

I told her today that part of me wants to do it all over again!  She was such a joy to parent.  Like a good, familiar book that you want to snuggle up to read over and over again---I want to 'read' those years just one more time.  

But books are not always for keeping---they mold and gather dust.  The jewelry rusts.  The sweater will fray...  And, the sweater is not her. These things are not full of life.

And, ....and, my girl is not for holding-on-to.   I can't keep her.  She was never mine to begin with...  I must let go.  I must continue to release and surrender.  

Bravely, today I sort and purge with my girl.  I remember and rejoice.  I regret and rehearse.  With courage, I allow the very-now of sadness and grief to come.  I let go and lay down.  I hope and I pray. I trust and I press-in to the One who IS always.  

For, I, too, am launching into a new place...  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What does freedom look like?

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When talking about our fragile bodies, the word "mass" is never a good word. Mass is just a bad, bad word.

When the word mass comes with a measurement of length and depth and is found in your 17 year old daughter's abdomen... well, it is an absolutely sickening, horrid word.

She had been in pain.  We knew that the daily pain had been increasing... with frequency and intensity.  But, you just never expect.  We didn't expect it.

On January 14th, they found a mass in my daughter's upper abdomen.  The ultrasound tech poked, prodded and spent an extra 20 minutes measuring and trying to discern the realities of this mass.   In that beautifully new, pristine white, sterile, cold room, the doctor explained that there was a 3.6 cm x 3.5 cm x 1.5 cm mass.  He showed us the sonogram---there it was, plain as day...even to an untrained eye.   It needed more investigation and he scheduled a CT scan for the following day.

The next 48 hours was a wild mix of emotions.

We were in a different, foreign country.  We had only arrived the day before.  My husband was scheduled to speak at a 400 person conference in Asia on the topic of "Freedom".


For the past three months, as he had been preparing his lessons for the conference, it had become our family mantra, "What does freedom look like in this, Lord?"  ...when my email account is failing, when my friend is in depression, when my unsaved family member is in the hospital, when I spill beetroot juice on my white sweater, when the university decisions for our kids hang in the balance, when we are grieving the upcoming launch of our girl.... In these things, small and large, what does freedom look like?  

In jet-lag, in shock, in someone else's home.  With this news... what did this mean?  What was next? The mantra question just hung there around us, whispering into my soul.

What, Lord, does freedom look like in the midst of this?  

After we sent out an email to let our prayer partners know of the mass... the email responses began to come in.  Our friends, so many of our friends, were standing with us.  Praying, they wrote.  One after another wrote to us and told us, "We are praying!"  Our family, our friends... they were praying for us. These emails were a sweet balm.  As they came into our inbox, we read them together, prayed and felt the comfort of Father's kids worldwide standing in the gap.  Asking.  Pleading. Praying.

Our friends who live in this foreign land---they cooked for us, shuttled us to and from the hospital, prayed with us.  Laughed with us.  Cried for us.

Freedom looked like being the weak ones---the ones in desperate need of prayer and help.  Freedom looked like the comfort of the Body of Christ.  Freedom looked like unhindered asking... His kids knowing God's heart, His power and the possibilities asking on our behalf.  

For those who follow this blog regularly, or know me personally, you will know I am not a big "crier".  I don't cry easily.   I have often said that I have plenty of tears inside, they just don't seem to make their way out of me!  My crying friends  (which tend to be some of my favorite people) know that I envy them.  I tell my free-to-cry friends often what a gift their tears are to me.  If only... If only I could cry like that!

These past months, though, something beautiful has been shifting in me.  I finally asked a free-crying-friend to pray for me.  I asked her to ask the Lord to give me the gift of tears.  He has been answering.  Slowly but surely, I am crying!  ...weeping, in fact, at times.  I rejoice in this health.  I am still not a "crier"...and I don't anticipate that my personality will change... but, I am more free to allow the heavy, hard, tear-filled pain come and have it's way.  I am finding freedom to feel. Freedom to be sad---deeply sad---I am finding freedom to cry.

What, Lord, does freedom look like in the midst of this?

So, with this horrid, terrifying news, I quietly excused myself to the guest room...and I wept.  I wept freely and with faith that He was with me, He was hearing.  Lament in the purest form... I poured out my heart in tears to the Lord.  Pain,    pain,    pain... that was all the words that came with the tears. Just deep pain.

My baby girl.  My darling baby girl.

Pain. Pain. Pain.

Freedom in the Lord looked like pain and tears for me that night.  Freedom looked like feeling. Lament and surrender wrapped up in pain... there was deep freedom.

48 hours of deep pain...  waiting, watching, feeling...

As we waited in the hospital for the next poke, the gross green-colored juice to drink, and the IV... my daughter began to sing a song.  I don't remember what song it was... but it was quiet and it was worship.  It was surrender.  We joined her and sang.  A quiet singing in the busy, bustling hospital room. Freedom looked like surrender.  Freedom looked like worship.

On January 16th, the very same doctor looked at us and shook his head, shrugging his shoulders.  He said he couldn't explain the discrepancy.  The mass was gone.  The CT scan showed a clean, pristine, beautiful abdomen.  No mass.  No problems.  All was "healthy and good" in my girl's abdomen, he said.

It's a miracle!  I said this without really thinking.  It just popped out of my mouth as an exclamation. "We asked Jesus to take it away!" I told him.  He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled.  "There is no mass," he said.

No mass, he said.  These are good, good words.

We walked away with two CDs in our hands:  an ultrasound with a mass and CT scan without a mass.  Walking away with a documented miracle, and deep relief, my daughter and I jumped, danced and cried in the hospital!  Right there in that place, we freely expressed our joy.

Freedom looked like proclamation and witness.  Freedom looked like profession of joy, praise and worship---  Dancing and crying and hugging... looking a bit "mad" I am sure to any on-looker.

As we exited the hospital, aware that we wouldn't be back anytime soon, the phrase came into my heart... He said "yes!"

He said yes...  

I knew that freedom looked like receiving and rejoicing in His "yes" to our asking, our praying, our pleading.  Freedom looked like knowing He sometimes says "no"... but, today, He said yes.   Trusting Him for His answers.  The freedom to ask and to trust His kind, His all-knowing heart...

In this... In this there is freedom.

What Lord does freedom look like in this?  

...freedom looked like being exactly who I am with and in Jesus.  ...Needy and weak.  ...Honest and real.  ...it looked like surrender and worship.  Weeping. lamenting, rejoicing and laughing.  ...freedom looked like asking, hoping, pleading, expecting.  ...freedom looked like receiving and proclaiming.  ...witnessing and trusting.

You Lord, present in the the unknown, the scary, the painful,  the "no" and the "yes".  You, Lord, Present in the lament, the worship and the joy...  You, Lord, are our freedom.  
You are freedom, Jesus.  You.

It is for freedom that I am set free.... (Galatians 5:1)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom... (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Monday, January 9, 2017

Rehearse the Truth

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Be careful not to forget, God says.

Do not forget... you are free.  I brought you out of slavery.  You are free!!  (Deuteronomy 6:12)

He tells His kids that He will give them comfy, warm houses with full cupboards.  He knows they will sit in quiet, green pastures. Good food.  Good drink.  Full bellies.  God gives and God also knows.

In that place... in a place of abundance... we must be super careful!  (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Be careful not to forget Me. 

How easily I forget.  He knows this of me.  In my comfy home, with my full belly... I can forget. How compassionate and full-knowing He is! He not only knows my forgetful heart; but, He offers a way to remedy the problem. He tells me how not to forget...

He helps our feeble, amnesia-prone hearts.  

Remember, He says.  
Recount.  Rehearse.  Remind.  

And He gives us lovely, practical suggestions as to how to remember!  Love me, He says and talk about Me all the time.  Know my Word and tell others all day, every day, about it. Write it down. Paste it on your walls.  Put it right there in front of your face.  (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)  Talk about it when you get up.  Talk about it when you sit down.  When you walk out and about, talk about Me. (Deuteronomy 11: 18-20)

He understands that we forget.  So...He says, as you go about your day--- your mundane, every day tasks like walking, sitting, eating--- while you go, talk about Me.  Speak the truth.  Tell yourself the truth. Tell yourself and tell others the love-filled, hope-arousing, peace-giving Truth!  

Today, I remember.  I remember what God has done in 2016.  I recount, with my family, what He has done in years past.   I remember His goodness, His salvation, His grace, His gifts of love and sacrifice.

I remember my freedom.  

We will recount.  We will rehearse and remind each other.  

Lord, I will be careful to not forget You!  My faithful, loving, kind Father... today, I remember!  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Comfort Food

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I am a hungry girl.

And, I love my comfort food.  Coffee.  Cakes.  Chips and Chocolate.  You?

I hunger for love and attention.  I hunger to be known.  I hunger for peace and quiet.  And, I hunger for rest.

The ways I have tried (and do try) to feed that hunger are wide ranging and numerous.  My "comfort foods" of choice vary in taste and color...  I attempt to use sleep and television.  I use people and reading good books.  I have also been known to plan and organize, to clean and order life.  I can use (and abuse) chocolate and peanut-butter.  Coffee.  Cakes and Chips.  What do you use?

The hunger in me to be at peace or to be known, heard and filled can be intense at times.  Like a craving that rises up from my gut.  It cries out and needs feeding.

Two days ago I opened God's word to Psalm 93 and read the first line.  "The Lord reigns" (Psalm 93:1).  Upon reading those words, in an instant, my hunger ceased.  In that moment, I sat with the words, trying to take them in.  Mulling, meditating, bathing in the truth of those words.

The Lord reigns. 

The Lord reigns.  

His Word---the Truth of who He is--- a meal for my hungry heart.

Yesterday, I opened the same Psalm.  I read the second line.  "...the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength; indeed, the world is established, firm and secure." (Psalm 93:1)

Better than chocolate.  Better than coffee...  better than a good night's sleep or a well ordered cupboard---my heart felt rest.  Even better than the best of friends.

As I mulled and sat with those words---whispering them under my breath.

The Lord is robed in majesty. 

Robed.  Majestic. 

The Lord is armed with strength.


The world is firm and secure.  

Ah, the comfort.  Ah the quiet that Scripture brings my heart.  This all knowing, reigning, strong God knows, sees and fills me.

The comfort food of God's Word never ceases to amaze me.  This hungry girl comes---even for just one short moment---and she is fed.

"I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; 
with singing lips my mouth will praise you." (Psalm 63:5)  
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