Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thin Places

Somewhere in the writing of C.S Lewis, he speaks of "thin places".

where the distance between us and God is lessened.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Prelude to Victory (The Warrior)

calling the shots,
at the helm
i flinch


under command,
i thrive

in deference...
in trust...

fixed with Spirited sword
i am prepared for battle
Another rises
to fight for me

Warrior emerges

the Shield

the City of Refuge

the Strong Tower

battle rages
left unscathed
crimson covering
washes pure

once formidable foe
slinks back 
toward eastern front


toward western front
i walk donning
forgiven past
victorious present 
secured future

Friday, January 18, 2013

Prelude to Victory (The Weapon)

truthful belt
righteous breastplate
peaceful feet
faithful shield
saving helmet
all weapons given for battle
while grateful, leave me on defensive

always reacting 
side-stepping attack
blocking arrows 
making second move
maneuvering according to an enemy's plans

on the run
anxious life
looking over my shoulder
crouched down and low
afraid to let guard down

like a scavenger
in search of scrap of bread
i long for victory
arms that give me edge
to produce offensive strategy 

prayer breathed out
from weary lips
a surrender
before Stillness
who waits to be known

and weapon forms
connected marrow of Truth 
from multiple pens
Spirited sword

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Prelude to Victory (The Struggle)

formidable foe
familiar enemy
with subtle approach
i should recognize

past battles
leave me limp
yet the war seems to
empower him

wars inside
unseen, unknown
dragging me
to depths despised

emotional free-fall
clawing for grip
emotional free for all
desperate for truth

i stand toe to toe 
with Doubt
and i...
i flinch first bestow on [her] a crown of beauty instead of ashes, 
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
[She] will be called an oak of righteousness, 
a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. 
- Isaiah 61:3

Monday, January 14, 2013

On Her 4th Birthday

Dear Moriah-

Your older brother was only 9 months old when we found out you were on your way. Your older sister wasn't even 4. Daddy and I were shocked. We wondered if we could handle parenting 3 children so young. We already felt so deficient in some ways.

Truth #1: God always knows best.

I know we've spoken it to you. We intend to repeat it over and again as you grow. God knows what is best. His ways are perfect. People consistently focus on circumstances, that's why we became overwhelmed at the thought of your coming. By focusing on circumstances, we could see only our feebleness. God, however, asks us to call on His character. He is a good, loving Father who knows what is very best for us. And in May of 2008, holding a positive pregnancy test, meant understanding that God's best meant we were to be a family of 5 regardless of how we felt. Not much time passed before shock gave way to excitement. We lovingly anticipated your coming. We claimed the words of Psalm 127. Yes, indeed children are a blessing and you were that for us.

Truth #2: God has good, hopeful plans for your life.

I know if we've said it once, we've said it a hundred times. I've prayed it over you most nights of your toddler life. We were surprised to find you were coming, but God never was. Before the foundations of the world were laid, He knew you would be born in this place at this time for specific purposes. The God who knit you together in my womb is the same One who has great plans for your life. And when God has something planned, He's not taken by surprise. 

One meaning of the name Moriah means "Chosen by Jehovah". It's one of the reasons we decided on that name for you. You were chosen by God to be a part of our family and we desire to affirm that even in the every-day calling of your name.

Truth #3: God is crazy about you.

Of all the basic truths in life, this is perhaps the hardest for me to walk in. I've let too many places, too many voices, too many experiences contradict this idea in my living. I want it to be different for you, my precious daughter. I want you to live with the sure confidence, that no matter what, you are infinitely loved by the One who made you. 

God wants your heart...He did, after all, bear His for you through His Son. God wants your love...He did, after all, demonstrate His through unfathomable sacrifice. 

I pray you will never run from the arms that hold you fast. I pray you will run hard toward the heart whose rhythm is your very life. I pray you will see sunset orange and feel wooed. I pray you will feel spring breeze and know divine caress. It's all a part of this sacred romance - that God is yours as you are His. Know His love with every fiber of your existence.

There are so many other things I could write; so many lessons I could share.  But for now, Moriah, I am going to stop and go share birthday doughnuts with you. 

From the start, sweet girl, you have changed our lives. You have changed my life. And I am the better for it. I love you...always!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Warthog's Wisdom

"If we're always looking ahead of what we see, 
how do we know when we get there?"
- Pumba

Strategic Management was one of my favorite classes in college.
I figure it has to do with my love of doing things on purpose.
Living with intention.
Moving toward the goal with exacting steps.

I want to live life well. 
And I believe part of that process is knowing why we do what we do.
Our motive, much of the time, for our decisions comes from a sense of where we think we're heading.
There's a goal and we want to get there. 
So, we take purposeful steps to walk toward that goal.
We keep the goal in front of us. 
Ahead of our sightline, that we might stay focused.

But, if you are like me, occasionally you find yourself nearer the goal but having been blind to the journey that got you to that point.

I am very good at focusing on the task when I have something to accomplish. I also know the task is never as rewarding as the relationship. And I am guilty of forfeiting people to production. (Much self-analysis could be done here, but I will spare you).

A new year is here. 
A natural beginning. 
A logical time to evaluate, refocus, set direction. 
I so love to do that.

But it was Pumba's words that got my attention the other day. In the middle of the newness of the year that begs for my purposeful thought and planning, all I could hear were the resounding words of an animated warthog.

"If we're always looking ahead of what we see, 
how do we know when we get there?"
- Pumba

Would I know when I've reached my goal? Am I too busy moving on to the next goal and strategy that I've failed to enjoy the path that led me there? 

I know it's trite, but it's truth...that one must enjoy the journey. 

I know it's trite but it's truth...that the end doesn't justify the means.

Oh, I know. I know "Cat's in the Cradle" has been sung enough. The hat of accomplishment hangs on the peg of regret. And I know it's banal, overstated, tired.

But, what about me? Do I get it? Really get it?

Of what value is production without presence? 
Of what benefit is accomplishment without memory?

I want to be intentional and purposeful for the future and for today. 
I want to strive for the yet-to-be while basking in the right-here-and-now.

Is it possible? Can this tension be appeased?
This is my year to try. 
My year to be present in this day so that my tomorrow is a joy to receive.

Here's to being present on purpose.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Face in the Sunlight - Part 3

Yesterday, I said the choice to put your face in the sunlight is a courageous one. Choosing light always involves risk.

The risk, I suppose, in coming into the light is exposure.
Light makes flaws more apparent.
Light leaves little room for debate of what might or might not be.
Hiding is not an option.

We sometimes sit in the shadows and question the wisdom of full disclosure.
After all, people can be harsh and cold.
People can be unforgiving and cruel.
Exposure can mean making the bullseye more visible for others' arrows of judgement.

Jesus spoke of the fear man has for the light. Fear of being exposed because we have lived for ourselves and have chosen badly. Jesus said we run for the darkness when we choose self and we keep running, frightened at the potential painful unveiling if we get caught by the light.

And truth be known, when we've dwelled in darkness, light can be painful, at least initially. 

Yet, if we remain in the shadows, we are never seen.
Light makes us known. Don't you want to be known?
Light means trading masks for permission to be fully ourselves, 
or at least learn to be.
Light brings us face to face with the One who knows us best 
and loves us most.
Light brings freedom.

In putting our face in the light, we dare to be Epiphany people. To be found. To be seen. To be known. Fully. Completely. 

To live in light is to be loved. To be accepted. Embraced. 
Being Epiphany people means living in light's fullness that we might bring others to the Light as well.

Here hopine we will choose to be Epiphany people who love Light and run fast toward it with every breath we take.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Face in the Sunlight - Part 2

Wake up. 
Put your face in the sunlight. 
God’s bright glory has risen for you.
The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, 
all people sunk in deep darkness,
But God rises on you, His sunrise glory breaks over you. 

- Isaiah 60:1b-2 (The Message)

Neither light from the bright orb of gases, 
nor the dark which is caused by the earth's rotation. 
Not of literal light and dark do I speak.

For cloudy days cross the skies and the planets keep revolving, but my heart? My heart has a choice.

Epiphany light is the light of the soul.
The light able to shine though the world is still dark with violence, hate, apathy, oppression.

So when I read Eugene Petersen's rendering of Isaiah 60:1b...
"Put your face in the sunlight"
I am shocked from complacency once more.
The reminder of choice.
Epiphany light shines out or is snuffed out each day because I have a say.

This day...this moment...a choice.
The fact is that Light has come. (John 3:19)
This Light is risen upon us, upon all men, upon me. 
(Isaiah 60:1 and John 1:9)
This Light has been misunderstood by the very darkness He came to dispel. (John 1:5)

But this day...this moment...I have a choice.
I can choose to put my face in the sunlight.
I can choose to embrace Light.
I can choose to celebrate Epiphany.
I can choose to live and breathe and have my being in the light of the Son.

Christmas ushers in the Light and calls us to be Epiphany people. People who put their faces in the sunlight, exposed and vulnerable and seen. People, who by that very courageous act, have begun to dispel darkness.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Face in the Sunlight

Yesterday was Epiphany.
The day of Light now gone,
marking, for me, 
the truest end to Christmas season.

How in this world of dark places and cold spaces, 
do we dare to find light anew?

Here are some ways Light overcomes the darkness for me...

      the made-up jokes of my 5-year old
      ancient words, ever true
      sufficient strength promised for right now
      a kind word that reminds me I matter
      choosing love 
      saying "I'm sorry"
      siblings getting along
      filling pages with graces
      prayers of my 8-year old 
      laughing to tears with my husband
      full moon bright over roof tops
      assuming the best in others
      my 3-year old's smile
      knowing His plans for me are good

Wake up. 
Put your face in the sunlight. 
God’s bright glory has risen for you.
The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, 
all people sunk in deep darkness,
But God rises on you, His sunrise glory breaks over you. 

- Isaiah 60:1b-2 (The Message)

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Word for My Year

The challenge has been given to pick a word for 2013. A word that would define direction, purpose, pursuit for the next 365 days. I have never done this before, but this 12 months will be different.

My word for this coming year is...present.

fully here.
conscious; aware; at attention.
understanding the import of this current moment.
unwilling to sacrifice now to the regret of yesterday 
or the deadline of tomorrow.

I have some ideas about how to work toward this end and I will probably write about it here in the days and months to come.

Here's to a new year filled with awareness, attentiveness, and presence.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Growing Self-Awareness

Recently I took a personality survey. 
I love those kinds of things. 
I mean it.
I. really. love. them.

There's this standing joke between my best friend and me about my disdain for learning how things work. 
I couldn't care less. 
I mean it.
I. really. don't. like. it.

But I love to learn about how people work. 
Why they do the things they do. 
What makes them tick.
Enter my romance with personality surveys. 
Exit my disdain for most things science-y.

And yet, for someone who loves the study of people, you'd think I would be a little more self-realized.

It's difficult for me to see myself clearly. 
I know how I want to see myself. 
And it's easy to see the benefits of varying personality traits in others. 
But with me, well...I either can't see myself accurately 
or if I do, I don't like what I see.

But, for now, after this last crack at a personality test, here are some of my thinkings about who I am and how I tick:

- I am an introvert who likes being around close friends.

- Big groups drain me and shut me up fast.

- Under pressure, I tend to choose the task over the people.

- I am a person interested in how others are feelings and what they are experiencing.

- I am detail-oriented. (Wouldn't it be funny for me to have a typo in this one?)

- I like to think of myself as a visionary, but I am actually not great at brand-new ideas. I do better with something to give me concrete direction.

- I fight the lie that my worth is determined by my performance because I am a recovering people pleaser.

- I like quiet. Too much noise induces stress.

- I am fairly intuitive but also look to my 5 senses to help confirm my gut.

-I am cautious. Not a risk-taker. But I wish I was.

There is a valuable benefit from this current awareness of myself. To understand these truths about myself provides me allowance for my own humanness.

So, when my children are screaming wild with fun but I am about to climb the walls, I can know there is a reason why. It's not that I am a bad parent who can't enjoy life. Instead, it's an indicator of personality.

When I am sensitive to another's feelings, wondering if that somehow disqualifies me as a decisive leader, I can remember that is part of how I'm wired.

One of these days, I want to be utterly comfortable in the skin God made for me. I want to be fully me without regret or apology. I want to embrace the whole of me because the world - my world - needs me to be me.

Every little piece of understanding I gain, about me or another, nudges ever so much closer to that day. And I am finding that journey is well worth it. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


"I never get anything."

My audacious Kindergartner sat at our dining room table and whined out the words.

Never mind that Christmas had occurred less than 7 days before. Apparently his rear view mirror obscures the view.


I think about the Little House books. How Laura thought abundance was a shiny new penny in her stocking along with a stick of peppermint and an orange.

My son sits in the wake of Christmas excess and says he gets nothing.

(another sigh)

So, I do what any logical, self-respecting mother would do. I say...

"How about I take back all your toys and then you can really see what not having anything is like."

Probably not the best choice of words in the midst of my frustration, and yet it got his attention.
His eyes widened a little. 
Sat without words briefly.
And then wanted to know if I would really do it.

Good question.
Would I?
Would I really take away new toys in an effort to teach gratitude?
Would I sacrifice just-spent money on the altar of contentment?

In all honesty, I am not so sure I would. 
And yet, I am just frustrated enough by the accumulation of things that I just might.

I spend so much of my time - too much of my time -  managing stuff. 
It's overwhelming and defeating.
It's suffocating and disheartening.

I feel caught, almost trapped sometimes by the tension.
Desiring to give to my children and yet desiring thankfulness in my children.
I am beginning to think more is the enemy. At least more toys, more games, more stuff.

There is surely a freedom that comes with the thought of letting it all go. Giving it up. Selling it. Passing it on.

Stuff is it's own kind of prison. 
Multitude forms it's own kind of bondage.
And I am tired from the shackles.
And it's hard to think in my desire to give to my children, I have helped place chains on them in the prison of much.

Lord, forgive me. 

I don't have answers. Not complete ones. Not yet.
I do know this, however...

if my children are to suffer from much 
than I want it to be the suffering brought on by 
much love, 
much forgiveness, 
much compassion, 
much kindness, 
much gentleness, 
much contentment, 
much hope, 
much redemption, 
much peace-seeking, 
much sacrifice.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! 
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. 
Galatians 5:1 (The Message)