Hope and Soiled Hands

When small seeds of hope, planted in fresh soil, are stolen by the ravens it’s easy to become weary.

We toil in darkness on hands and knees. Prayer lifted in desperation can seem to hit empty air when the harvest waits.

Still, I’ve found hope doesn’t lie in seed. Hope lies in the waiting soul and the hands of the sower.

Tomorrow will grace us with newness and we can plow and dig. We can take life in our hands and cover it, willing, in the dirt and start a revolution. We can wet it with tears wrought in prayer. We can wait hoping for rain. We can harvest the rewards of diligence.

My hope isn’t in one seed. My victory not taken by one theft. My hope is bigger, stronger, cared for by work, and harnessed in faith. My hope, the anchor of my soul, is in the giver of life. I will win and I will rest in Him.

The Squeeze

Skinny Girl Squeeze beginning

All I can seem to think about the last few days is what it is to be squeezed. Maybe you can relate. You know that feeling when the walls, the ceiling, the air above, and the floor beneath you, seem to be closing in. It’s that sensation of not knowing if you’ll make it out…not knowing if that elusive light at the end of the tunnel will bring warmth to your face. It is the season of the uncertainty, the uneasiness of tight places, the wondering in the wandering.

When my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we spent some time among the rocks and trees in the Northern Alabama. The wonderful man from whom we’d rented the cabin we stayed in took us out on his land one afternoon to explore, hike, and get lost in the majesty of it all. In the spirit of adventure he talked us into going through a few tight places where the rocks barely gave access. First, we wriggled our way through what he called, “Fat man’s squeeze”. It was a little tricky for my husband to maneuver, but my scrawny frame didn’t object so much.

A little further down the path, we came to an opening in the rocks that he informed us was “skinny girl’s squeeze”. He didn’t fit so he’d never been that way, but one gentlemen who worked for him had made it through and told of the gorgeous view from the other side. Maybe the wonder and majesty of the journey had awakened a bravery and sense of adventure in me that had been dormant for a while, but I thought, “I’m a skinny girl…bring it!” and decided to give it a shot.

Everything was fine until about halfway through. The walls of stone around me had narrowed a bit and I wasn’t sure if I was as skinny as I thought I was. Size zero or not, it was getting tight in there. Then my shoe got stuck. By this time, my feet had to be turned sideways, as if I was ready to plié my way through. There was no room to turn in any way. In an effort to free my foot from its prison, I leaned a bit toward the end of the crevice until I was almost lying down. I heard my guide from behind yelling for me not to lie down or I’d never make it. They wouldn’t be able to go in after me either and help wasn’t a possibility. I HAD to keep going, upright; there was no other option.

I’m not quite sure how I did it, but I eventually got free and made it to the other side, an inch and wiggle at a time. It was beautiful there. There was something magical about knowing I was one of very few who’d been where I was standing. I felt alive in a new way standing there in the open, knowing I’d made it through the squeeze. I drank in the beauty surrounded by stone that had kept so many out. There, in the openness, where the sun shone free, I was a conqueror, a warrior who’d fought through the obstacles and made it to freedom.

Lately, I’ve been in a place that reminds me of the rock. I’ve been squeezed, hard-pressed on every side as scripture describes it. I know now, just as I did then, that God will never put me somewhere without providing a way out. There is a light on the other side. But, I have to keep moving forward to reach it. If I lie down, I’ll end up stuck. Even when my feet seem wedged into the rock, there’s a rock that’s higher than I that is faithful to bring me to freedom if I just keep on standing. I have to keep moving forward, there is no other option. He, my guide and comfort, is faithful, and He calls to me words of instruction and encouragement even when I’m beginning to panic.

On the other side, there is a beauty I’ve never known. On the other side, I am stronger. On the other side, the sun is shining and I am wiser and more prepared for the next obstacle. I will never forget the squeeze. I will always keep moving forward. The other side is so worth the journey.

squeeze

Peace Out!

peace

“Praise the Lord!  I will praise the Lord with my whole heart.” Psalm 111:1

“Life’s full of tough choices isn’t it?” Ursula in The Little Mermaid

Let’s be real…life can be hard! We live in a culture that seems to chant the mantra, “Whatever makes you happy must be right.” Where did we get the idea that we were meant to be happy all of the time? It’s an unrealistic expectation to put on ourselves. Life will hit us with all kinds of tough stuff. Job loss, divorce, sickness, pain, relational drama, car accidents, stress, the list is long. The reality is that the good stuff is often born in our response to the bad stuff. We have a choice to respond in faith or in fear.

When we allow circumstance to drive us, we end up fractured. We kick and scream against the pain. We worry. We lose sight of the light in what appears to be overwhelming darkness. We forget that the light doesn’t ever stop shining even when it is blocked by the storm. Even when we can’t see it well, the sun is still shining. Our trust and faith should allow us to find it regardless of the current view.

I choose to live my life from a whole heart. I choose not to allow circumstance to dictate my joy and my compass. I don’t have to be happy, but I can choose to be whole. I WILL praise the Lord with my WHOLE heart. My heart is full even when my world seems empty. My heart is whole though the world seems broken all because I choose to believe in a God who sees me, who loves me, and who makes a way for me when there seems to be no way. He has always provided and He won’t stop now.

If life hits hard today, just keep moving. Realign your focus and choose to praise when you feel like panicking. Adjust your eyes to find the light. You have the choice. Peace isn’t the absence of trouble. Peace is the knowledge that trouble doesn’t win, doesn’t define us, doesn’t get to control us. Peace is found in praise and trust. Peace out everyone!

Bedtime

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I drink deep the sinking light, the silence that causes me to catch my breath and wait

for life to re-enter my being in the passing moments

while clocks tick and angels watch over sleeping babes and snoring men.

all while the sun sleeps nervously awaiting morning

if you’re near, whisper

my ears quake at the booming sound of nothing

it’s been a long road

feet relax beneath fluff and cover

and I wonder if I’m really home.

 

Messy Me

content

I haven’t been writing lately. Not because the desire has left me but because I knew what came out would be messy. Quite honestly, lately, life has been messy. All of the broken and jagged pieces I’d thought time had smoothed, surfaced with force, cutting through my clay heart and thin skin. What remained was a tattered, worn, version of me. I guess it’s true when the scripture says to be careful when you think you stand because you will fall. I am, once again, a living example of this principle. You’re welcome.

Maybe there’s extra grace there, somewhere in the rubble. There’s this extra measure of assurance that if we can get through so many ups and downs and He hasn’t failed us yet, maybe it’s true that He won’t fail. Maybe we will fail, as we so often do, but in the end, there’s a beauty in the mess if we can only take the risk of embracing it.

 You see, I don’t have to prove myself. I don’t have to be clean to come to the one who washes me. I don’t have to have it all together before I come to the one who knit me together in my mother’s womb. I don’t have to have it all figured out to lean in close and hear His wisdom. I don’t have to play all the right notes before I listen to the song He sings over me. And there again is the beauty…that in the midst of the mess, He’s still singing. He never stopped singing. So maybe I should sing too.

So with reckless abandon, I choose today, to sing wildly. I jump to my feet, dodging the obstacles, and dance.  The mess probably won’t go away anytime today or maybe even tomorrow, but piece by piece, I know He will rebuild me. I am more than the messes. I am a victor. My messy heart will sing in wonder, not because of who I am, but because of who He is and how vast His love is for me. What more could anyone ask for?

The Greatest of these is Love

Though Angels’ tongues could escape my lips and sentiment sweet should flow

When grace extends my patience thin

When arms become empty, hearts heavy, feet ready for escape, eyes drifting, head aching, song quiet, candles huffed to cooled wax, all seems lost around me, I remember. 

Greater love has no man than he who lays down his life for a friend. 

Perfect love casts out fear

Love suffers long and is kind

Love thinks no evil, bears all things, believes all things. 

Love never fails. 

Love is not about what I can get. 

For love, I empty myself 

I give all

I prefer another

I am fulfilled 

Love

Dust Buster

boy in duststorm

Photo credit: Arthur Rothstein, A young boy in dust storm, Oklahoma, 1936 PBS

 

“Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust” Isaiah 26:19

The dust hangs heavy in the air, swirling around hiding the light with haze.

It’s easy to become lost in the chaos, caught up as the torrent of fear flows by, catching us unaware, unprepared.

It’s easy to break and stumble. It’s easy to give in and crumble as the mud starts to cake, heavy, on our skin. We become a sculpture of something else, a figure we never expected to be.

The mirror betrays us. We can’t recognize the person staring back, glass eyes, with fire dimmed to ember.

But there’s a song, a melody resounding above the thickness and our eyes suddenly open to the wonder.

Open your mouth and sing along. Let praise emanate from within. Let it cleanse the air with the sweetness of Spirit. Let it wash the skin and mind with life.

Sing of His greatness, hear Him call you by name, and know that nothing else matters. He sees, He hears, and He adores you.

Figure of dust, know that you are a treasure, transformed by love song into beauty.