Husbands, Touch, and Turkeys

He reached for me and I recoiled.

It isn’t him, it’s me. The storms have intensified and when that happens I go into lock-down mode. He softly reaches out, tells me he can’t handle it when I draw back.

It shakes me, he leaves, we go our seperate ways.

I’m sitting on the couch folding clothes when he returns. The kids are in bed and he heads for the recliner, exhausted. I have a choice and the old me would like to make excuses and take advantage of his tenderness and willingness to forgive, say I’m sorry and let things continue, just this time, me on my couch and he on his.

But the new me wants more.

I go sit in his lap.  “I’m sorry,” I whisper against his skin. “I’m so overwhelmed and we both know my natural response is to withdraw, clamp down, preserve what I have left. Sometimes I forget that’s not what I really want.”

I’m talking about the old Me, the one who for so long believed the lie that to preserve oneself, you have to self-protect, draw in, give the bare minimum.

But the truth is that to preserve one’s self, you give yourself away. To find your life, you must lose it.

Sometimes I can’t see when I’m falling back into the trap, back into the old habits and ways. Sometimes life happens so fast you start acting instinctively.

That’s when I need someone to tell me I’m being a turkey.

A turkey and an eagle both respond to the threat of a storm, but very differently. A turkey runs under the barn, seeking shelter and hoping the storm won’t touch her. An eagle, on the other hand, leaves the security of her nest when a storm approaches. She spreads her wings to ride on the air currents of the coming storm.

The eagle knows that a storm’s currents can take her higher than she could ever go on her own.

For many years I lived the turkey. It is very instinctive for me to self preserve. But somewhere along the way, through many, many storms, I got pushed out of the nest and realized I wasn’t a turkey after all. I’m an eagle.

The free fall was terrifying. But then Father Eagle was there to scoop me on His wings and my trembling eaglet body relaxed and began to discover the awe of what was happening.

It happened again. And again. And again. Each time, Father Eagle pushed me out of the nest I wanted to stay safe in, each time He swooped down to bear me up on His wings.

He taught me I was made to soar.

Until one day, when the choice was mine to leave the nest or to stay, I took the plunge.

It felt good… to deliberately choose giving up safety in order to soar. It felt good taking the risk. It felt good to live for something other than myself, to know my purpose.

The turkey in me still wants to run sometimes, to hide, to keep safe, to not leave security, at least what she perceives to be security. But the voice of a dear loved one can remind me I’m made for more than cowering.

Sometimes it’s another eagle who can show us what we’re made for. Because we all forget sometimes.

They help us remember that we don’t want security most after all. We want to fulfill our destiny. We want to be what He made us to be, do what He created us to do.

We want to soar.

So go soar my friend. Go soar.

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Learning to Live All Over Again

I saw the pictures today… how he just welcomed his new son… how he transferred to a new hospital… how he is learning to live all over again, this time without legs.

I can’t pretend it didn’t ache.

I can’t pretend I didn’t wish for things to be different; I wished those boys had a Daddy who could chase them and lay on his back and flip them on his knees, like my kid’s daddy does.

And I wish the burden just a bit easier for the family and thousands and thousands of families the world over crushed by a fallen, sliding world that we can’t keep in orbit.

But wondering how the world can carry on doesn’t in fact help anyone.

Calling on the One who spoke it into existence and sustains it’s every blade of grass, who changes earth’s inhabitants like a garment, who sees the gazelle giving birth in the secret place and the sparrow plummet and Who carries each of His beloved ones to their dying day… drawing near to Him helps.

Because when I press against His heart, I hear something. I hear steady. I hear calm. I hear no crisis.

I hear complete confidence from a God in complete control who creates something from nothing and who calls Himself Love.

We are safe.

Somehow, Jake knows this. Somehow, he believes.

Somehow, he found his way close to that Heart before the ugliness of his circumstances told him to despair.

Wait. Maybe that’s just it. Perhaps that Heart told him there is no ugly. Just a dark glass that we look through that distorts things, giving the appearance of ugly. And Jake chose to believe.

Will I?

To read about this incredible young man, Jake, click here: Jake’s story
For Jake’s most recent photo’s, click here: Jake and Family


The Grit and the Glory

We planted the bulbs a few weeks back, digging our hands in the soil {and finding worms along the way}

Funny how God can use a bulb to teach and dirt to nurture.

I’m decaying, like that round lump. I’m unsheathed.

The shoots are poking out of the ground now, tiny blades far stronger than they look. Their life is real, unexplained. Their Maker sprouts them from decay and Sustains them in dirt.

And I can’t explain why this makes sense, why it fits, but it does: this new life is about abiding in Him.

The awe that I get to commune with God and in this find my life, my breath, my identity, my very being.

It is the absence of self reliance, the death to protective barriers;  just the simple trust in His beauty and grace in the form of Christ within.

“I am calling you to a life of constant communion with Me. Basic training includes learning to live above your circumstances, even while interacting on that cluttered plane of life. You yearn for a simplified lifestyle, so that your communication with Me can be uninterrupted. But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. Accept each day just as it comes, and find Me in the midst of it all.” Sarah Young, in her “40 Days with Jesus” devotional

Yes. It is about abiding in Him no matter what the clutter in my heart, in my home, in my surroundings, in my relationships. The life springs up when I “die” to the distraction of all those things and keep rooted only in Him.

And He is always there, larger and more real than anything else.

“Remember that your ultimate goal is not to control or fix everything around you; it is to keep communing with Me.” Sarah Young

It is possible and I’m finding out the glorious truth, the beauty of Un-sheathed.


How to Make the Bitter Sweet

“I’ve got a big ol’ steel cup of bitter,” she told the ladies group.

“Five kids, homeschooling, a controlling husband, a home based business. The demands never end and the resources are never enough.”

Another spoke up and shared her waters, the lot she’s been given, the bitter she can’t get down.

Who hasn’t come to the waters of Marah? Bitter waters aren’t potable. Our human condition cannot stomach such.

The ladies in bible study all turned to look at me, like I would have some answer for them.  Um… blank. I was thinking of Marah and I mumbled something about Exodus 15 and grew silent, hoping someone else would step in and take it over. It’s all I had.

I went home and looked again at the place Marah, where God “tested” His people.

I’d seen it in my own life; I’d heard it from the ladies at group; and now here it was in the scriptures: we come to the bitter and ask, “What are we to drink?”

The question implies we anticipate a change. This water hole isn’t going to cut it, surely God is going to take us down the road to a new, fresh, clear place where we can drink and be satisfied.

We expect God will make things better by changing location, circumstances, or by giving a quick fix.

But He doesn’t.

“…the Lord showed him a tree…”

He shows us “the Tree,” the wood that when brought to bear on the bitter turns it to sweet.

But oh, wait a minute.  I’m seeing something here. It was at the bitter waters that God revealed Himself as “The Lord, your Healer.”

Surely it is the bitter of life where God makes Himself known to us as The Great Physician as well… if we can get past asking how our needs are going to be met and let Him do what He does best.

The Physician begins by “testing” us.

“…and there He tested them.” (vs.25) The Healer gives His people a stress test!

The waters of Marah are a test to determine our condition. Here, our Healer God evaluates our health and exposes the hidden.

Have your bitter waters brought out complaining, grumbling, negativity, and short-sightedness in you?

{Ouch. That stress test hurt.}

That’s okay, because He isn’t done yet.

Next, the Physician gives a prescription.

“There He made for them a statute and ordinance…” (vs 25)

When I reached the words “statute” and “ordinance” I got down on my knees in astonished praise. Statute means “a prescription, a specific decree.” Ordinance means “a decision, the act of deciding a case and giving a proper, fitting, customized plan.”

God tested His people with bitter waters to determine what the proper RX should be.

The lasting prescription He gave was the cross, the wood in the water.

So blown away was I by this that I googled it to see what else I could find. “What is the statute God gave in Exodus 15:25?”

I asked this of a computer.

This is what came back:

“The leading of Israel to bitter water, which their nature could not drink, and then the sweetening or curing of this water, were to be the statute (the Rx) for Israel by which God would always guide and govern His people, and a judgement (a decision, a custom fitted plan) inasmuch as Israel could always reckon upon the help of God and deliverance from every trouble.” Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the OT

Right there at Marah is where God, the Great Physician, revealed His prescription for bitter waters that can’t be stomached. When I am facing a moment in my day when I just. can’t. get. this. cup. down….there is a solution.

I can apply the Cross.

God doesn’t lead us to another water hole to drink from. He shows us how we can drink from any water hole, praise God! no matter how bad it’s waters are. He tells us, “I’m not changing a thing, I’m giving you a lasting ordinance, a foul-proof way to make your bitter waters sweet.

Two and a half weeks later,  I’m reading Galatians 6 and Paul says, “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross…” and my ears perk up and my heart opens wide and I can’t wait to see what Paul has to say about the Cross, that beam of wood that makes the bitter sweet.

“…through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.”

It’s what Paul says next that astonishes me most. “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them.”

Is he talking about the regulation? The lasting ordinance? THAT rule? The Exodus 25:15 one?

The Cross changes everything. It makes the bitter sweet because absolutely nothing is “old.” Behold, all things have become new!

The Cross gives Purpose. I am dead to ordinary. I am dead to meaningless. I am dead to empty mundane tasks. Everything is new and full of purpose. There is no ordinary. Whatever I do, it is eternally significant.

The Cross gives Presence. The Cross is the Bridge by which I leave the ordinary, the bitter, and enter the Divine Sphere. I am dead to the world and alive unto God. I have access to Divinity at all times.

The Cross gives Power. It is not about me “doing” something, like circumcision of old. It is simply living by the rule that I am indeed a new creation because of the cross of Christ. I am not helpless. The Cross is the “power of God.”  (see I Corinthians 1:17-18)

It is not something to be understood with the head, but accepted with the heart.

“Even so, consider yourselves also dead to sin, and your relation to it broken, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Romans 6:11


The 3 R’s of God’s Classroom

I hear his story on the radio, on the way to take oldest to school.

His name is Matt and a car accident changed his life. He lost the ability to read.

Every time he sat down to read, he just could not put the words together. “I don’t understand!” he kept crying.

They told him he’d never finish school.

But he decided to try. He submitted himself to a program in which he re-trained his brain to read letters on a page. For over a year, he re-trained.

He had four hundred and eighty something days straight of migraine headaches.

It hurt. He pushed on.

It was hard. He pushed on.

It was agonizingly frustrating, re-learning something a completely different way, when he’d already done it the easy way years earlier.

He pushed on.

He can read now. He graduated with honors. And now he’s pursuing an MBA.

The story comes on a day when I want to give up. I’m oh so tired and the grueling work confuses the mind, sweat stings the eyes.

The story concludes on the radio and the Voice speaks to me: “I told you these days would come,” and I remember nearly a year ago, when He first gave me my prognosis.

I was sitting in the audience, waiting to hear the preacher, thinking the Word would come once the announcements were over. But no, there was one who had something to say and He spoke through that one.

The one had limped down the aisle to the podium, dragging his leg behind him.

His words were just as slow, forced out of a mouth that couldn’t keep up with the mind.

He barely spoke two sentences before he ambled back down the aisle, but in the span of those two sentences our mutual Maker spoke loud and clear, with no faltering and no stuttering. “That’s you,” He told me.

It was so powerful and so out of the ordinary that I told my husband about it that evening. “Yes, I know the young man,” he told me. “He calls himself “Marine 4 Christ.'”

I was so taken by this connection God had made between me and this young injured soldier, that I googled him. “Marine4Christ.” I found the connection in listening to his testimony.

Like Brandon, I am a wounded warrior. Years of abuse and spiritual bondage left me wounded and paralyzed, in a coma of sorts… Dead weight to those who cared for me.

“You are awake now,” He said to me that day as I watched Brandon’s story. “Like Brandon, I’ve redeemed your life too.”

“Now. If you are to get well, you too will have to relearn everything.

Relearn Everything.

I knew it would take hard, agonizing work. Grueling days, hours, moments. Impossible odds. Days when I’d say, “I can’t do this anymore.” It would take a team of people around me who pushed me to do what I felt simply and absolutely impossible.

But if I was to get well, if I wanted to live again, I would have to re-learn the ways of Grace. I’d have to learn how to eat again, how to work again, how to stand up and walk.

I’m still in the classroom. Today as I wondered if I’ve made any progress at all, God showed me that I have at least learned what the 3 R’s are in His classroom, and I’m giddy with the knowledge:

1. Receive- The way to eat is to receive. Receive all of God’s goodness and grace and to do that, one must open up, let go, do the opposite of what comes naturally when one has lived on life support. “Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”

Open up, take in, swallow down. Receive.

2. Rest– The work of God’s classroom is to rest, the cessation of self striving and self effort. To move the spiritual body means letting Him be the one to both give and fill the prescription. He is in me both to will and to work.

Resting in God’s Kingdom classroom is not passive! “Labor to enter into that rest…” (Heb 4:11) Entering rest is perhaps the most difficult work of all.

3. tRust– The walk of the godly is to trust. The just shall live by faith. Just as each step is an act of free falling, so walking by faith is learning to free fall through my days, letting God-legs catch and sustain.

This is what it means to re-gain the ability to walk.

On a day like today, I wonder if I’ve made any progress at all. I wonder if I can pick up and just. do. today’s. part. Then I hear Matt’s story and I remember Brandon’s story and I know that like them, I can do it too. My life is redeemed and my Physician won’t forsake me.

And He’s placed me in just the right environment for me to re-learn, with people in my life (especially the 4 children!) who will push me and force me to new limits. I just need submit to His plan and keep practicing.

One day, I’ll be eating on my own. I’ll have full range of movement again. I’ll be walking.

And today? Well today I’ve moved one day closer.

Have a great weekend, dear friend, you who have happened upon this place today…


Injecting Mud

It didn’t  start out that way. It never does.

At first, she just didn’t feel good- ever.

When she talked to family and friends about it, they brushed her off and told her she was fine. Eventually they told her she was paranoid- a freak- “so stop talking about it already.”

She went to the doctor. In his stoic, professional manner, he let her know she was healthy…at least her body was. Her mind?…

The shame and condemnation she began to feel from others for a problem she couldn’t identify began to stoop her shoulders. The messages were sublte: “You’re crazy.”

“Worthless. Nobody believes you. Nobody cares.”

“You’re about as valuable as mud.”

Mud.

Mud. Mud. Mud.

The word became a chain, slipped silently around her soul, and squeezed the color of life from her being.

Slowly. Ever so deadly.

She got a wild idea that maybe she should get some mud.

She did.

Maybe she should put it in a vial.

She did.

Maybe she should carry it in her purse.

She did.

Maybe she should inject it, just a little.

She did.

She began injecting mud.

Anytime she felt worthless, she would inject a little bit, reaffirming her value. “You’re dirt. Maybe you’ll kill yourself and do everyone a favor.”

Her body began to respond to the poisons she was pumping into her system. She lost feeling, suffered from nerve damage. Her already deteriorating health worsened- she couldn’t climb stairs and limped when she walked.

When I read her story in the comment section on a ministry site, my heart almost stopped. How I longed to rescue her from the lies- the poison- that ensnared her!

She was asking for help. Was it too late for her? After all she had done to her body, would God still give her a chance? Could God forgive her?

Even now, nearly a year later, I cry. I’ve asked the same thing. I’ve believed deadly lies- injected poison- and I’ve done terrible things to myself and others and I’m the outcast who is worthy of shame, contempt, rejection. Mud.

And the last lie of them all is the deadliest, intended to be the final blow to the soul: “Even God doesn’t want you.”

But God…

But God…But God…But God!

But God, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ- for by grace we have been saved.

Maybe you’ve never injected mud. Maybe your spiritual veins are squeaky clean and you shudder and run from the thought of such darkness. Good for you.

But maybe someone reading this relates. Maybe someone isn’t so clean and wonders if God can forgive you?

My friend, He has.

Those aren’t Sunday School words, they are words spoken by the Someone Himself who left the glory of heaven to dwell in dirt. He came down not just to speak those words but to prove He meant them.

He said it. Woman your sins are forgiven you.”

He lived it. “..Forgiving one another even as God, in Christ Jesus has forgiven you.”

He gave it. “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

He died it. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

And then, just to make sure we got it, He proved it. “He was delivered over because of our transgression but was raised because of our justification.”

Start injecting that, my friend.

Start. Injecting. That.

For you are alive from the dead, raised up with Christ. The enemy came and knocked you down and kicked your teeth out and dealt you a blow that sunk you deep and robbed you of life.

But God stepped down from heaven, took on the form of a babe, reached out with Carpenter’s hands, and rubbed the mud from your face, gave the antidote for mud pumped into your veins. “Live!” He uttered. “Live!”

Do you hear His voice? Does your soul stir awake? The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!”

You who are so good at injecting poison, start injecting Life.


A Christmas Gift For You

For five long years it sat on a shelf in the closet.

Amidst shoes and winter sweaters and baby clothes its bright pieces beckoned a child, promising cheerful play.

Except the children were all gone and there was no one to notice a simple 8 piece track with matching bus the color of sunshine.

Then, Christmas 2010, the family returned! From travels and adventures spanning the world, they returned to this place for the holidays. This is the place they call “home.”

After the children are in bed, we visit the closet in Grandma’s house, sorting through stored belongings and taking out old toys that will be re-wrapped and discovered all over again this Christmas.

We find the sunshine set and I lock the pieces in place while husband finds a screwdriver to bring life to the matchbox-car sized school bus.

But when a new battery is inserted and the switch turned on…nothing.

Our hearts sink at the ending of the toy that brought firstborn son so much joy. “He played with this set for hours,” Husband says, and I nod sadly and finger the small bus.

“I wonder if they could just push the bus?” I mutter it as I place the bus on the board to see if it would work.

My fingers feel the familiar curves; my eyes imagine a little boy’s laugh as I push the bus around the track time after time. When I stop, the bus rolls just a split second…then keeps on going!

The wheels have come to life and what I thought was a thing of the past is new and moving and real and will be the joy of not one little boy on Christmas morning but 4 little ones, eager to have a turn arranging the pieces and seeing little bus go.

Something inside me awakens too.

It has been many long years since I dared to go there. It has been stored away, placed up amidst other memories and seasons gone by. It was a nice thought, once. A noble idea, a soul dream….but I moved on. I had to. Life didn’t have room for me to take it along, like an overstuffed suitcase. It had to stay behind, parked on a shelf in a closet far, far from me.

And when I chanced upon it again, I fondly fingered its beauty, remembered with bittersweetness its joy and awe. But it doesn’t work now. It can’t. It’s a thing of the past and cannot be resurrected to fit my present.

Except suddenly, when the wheels of the sunbeam bus are nudged and encouraged, Divine fingers seem to reach down and nudge and encourage the place of dreams in me.

And just as little bus drives around track on its own, awakened again by fresh power and a little coaxing to un-freeze his wheels, so the message reaches my heart: in its time, the dead can come to life.

Isn’t this what Christmas is about? “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son…”

Years and years of waiting…of wondering, “Is this the One?”…of longing…of finally closing the book for 400 years and placing it on a shelf in the closet…of silence.

Until…

The time had come.

The darkness behind earth’s closet doors pierced through as the Light of the world opened the womb of a woman.

Hands that Created brought Life to us and what we once thought dead and hopeless and just a dream of the past became living and real and not just for us to open but for a whole world to receive and awe over and find joy in.

The time has come. For you.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.

Today is the day of the Lord’s favor. Today is the day of salvation. Today.

Heaven has come down. Life has been given. Today is the day. Rejoice!

And like the wheels on little yellow bus, we can come to life.  Come to Life.