Life is good spent tearfully. The wellspring of my soul is overwrought, the tears well up and flow. The great responsibility: mourning, fasting, praying. (Nehemiah 1) It is often times the daily call. Drops of joy in rain on cloudy days. The bob and weave of relationship building, dancing in hope, buckling in rejection, catching breath in anticipation, shaking fists at betrayal. Loving; beautiful, hard, worthy of giving yet difficult in deliverance. God’s word shut up in my bones like Jeremiah (Jer 20:9), hard pressed into my thoughts and seeking venue for it’s power. It was Paul’s thorn, Esther’s fear, Nehemiah’s burden. It is God’s purpose sealed on each heart before the heart pumps with new life and the brain thinks with new vision.
It is burden that weighs heavy, one you can’t lay down, wakes you up before dawn or makes it impossible to close your eyes to its illumination of truth. Its the wrestling over a life broken or one needs saving, sharing insight into soul searching or opening doors closed tight to breath in loves pure touch of grace and light.
Tearfully I live in the trembling. Few seem to comprehend, questioning, shaking heads, wondering. Yet it brings words to life, wakes up minds, convicts souls, seeks forgiveness, pursues relationship, revives the church! It is power, strength, patience, faith, obedience, discernment daring boldness and calling out salvations song.
Tears for walls fall, stains clear, healing comes. Tears for lost, broken, hardened. Tears for new truth, open eyes, redemptions call. Tearfully seeking Christ in moments alone, worship with many, witnessing Gods glory.
The Calling, Gods bidding, my burden of great responsibility to another; pushing limits, praying grace, hoping change or anticipating need, seeking to love.
Its a sobering love deeply felt and gently calling back.
If you feel it, if the tears fall in or outwardly express the pressure one feels to reach another, express it. Seek Christ and lend hand and ear like Paul in chains but free, walk boldly into the throne room and pray the King extends the scepter like Esther, lay down in mourning, pray and fast and leave behind what you know to rebuild like Nehemiah, stand in the field gleaning waiting for your Boaz and trusting the Saviors marriage to your soul. Life is lived best when in fellowship with Christ and in perfect step with the calling He imbedded in your blood with salvations receipt pumping through and always prompting you, tapping you on the shoulder of your mind to hear, to act, to live.
We are in a tearful state of waiting. Everyday we wait. Most do not know what they are waiting for, and few find contentment in the waiting for few truly understand what they are waiting upon. Waiting on Christ’s return to bring us to full perfection, satisfying our souls longing, bridging the gaps between us and God with our sinfulness, bringing life full circle to His throne of grace and golden streets and beauty beyond reason. Creation waits, withering and fading in the waiting, worshipping God in their full glory. Always choosing Christ, trusting His deliverance, seeking His sun and moon and water. The birds sing to Him and He provides. (Romans 8:19-22)
Oh if we too could trust God as creation does, and worship Him in trusting fellowship. A bubbling tear of joy would flow crocodile big down our cheek with gladness. Thus is our purpose as His child, to call people to redemptive living, serving, breathing, trusting, gasping for truth through our selfish screening, dying to fellowship with depravity and things that kill and touching the robe of healing for salve on our washed out, burned out, lived out lives.
Do not swat your hand of discard at the words God has pressed upon your spirit for so long. He has not left you, He has not rejected you, He has been pulling hard on your heart strings and you have been running away from the music of His steadfast long-suffering voice. Throw back the scales from your eyes so that you might see. Seek refuge in His wings for His span is big enough to encompass you and He will draw out the poison we have taken in and fill you up with the balm of mercy and love, so that we too can spread this remedy to hurting souls fleshed out in sin.
I have witnessed this great work through many tears with God’s call on my life to breathe life into others; God’s moving upon a body of believers, where salt and light have lit up the house (Matt 5:13-16), though hard pressed to understand, but most certainly not crushed, perplexed but not despairing , persecuted but not abandoned. (2 Cor 4:8) We know that neither death, nor life, nor present, nor future, nor depth nor height can keep us from the love of Christ. (Rom 8:38)
“The love of Christ poured down with blood from holes in hands and feet. His watered eyes He cried upon the cross, “forgive them Lord take me. ”
Although I am weary, I approach the throne with tears. Jesus wept. (John 11;35)
Tearfully sow and reap shouts of joy! (Psalm 126:5)
Tearfully seek as food day and night. (Psalm 42:3)
Tearfully pray, He hears our pleas and adds more time to our life. (Isaiah 38:3
It is a sobering of the mind. (I Peter 5:8). Remove yourself from childish living. (Eph 4:14) Diligently answering the call (II Pet 1:10) Proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into the marvelous light.”(I Pet 2:9)
Tearfully, Lacrimoso, lay it down oh lay it down.
“I am weary and overwrought with so many battles left unfought, oh when the saints come marching in I want to be one of them.” Sara Groves, When the Saints
There is an old gentleman that lives on my corner, right by the neighborhood mailboxes. He sits on his porch like Abe Lincoln’s statue, stiff and hardened. The moment you step one foot upon his property he rises and bellows out, “GET OFF MY LAWN”.
It was surreal Saturday to see a moving van at his house. I’ve been in this neighborhood for 12 years. He’s known as the “jerk on the corner.”
I have wondered through the years what had happened in his life to cause such bitterness to take root. I have seen others who have been unable to escape it’s grasp. I too struggled with resentment and anger towards those who were responsible for the blisters on my soul.
Tresspassers: people who sin against you, improper acts, muddy footprints across your back, blindsided while you were sleeping. “GET OFF MY LAWN”.
In my 46 years of life I have experienced much that could have easily embittered me. Sins against my body, betrayal against my soul, abuse of my mind, theft of my financial security, death of a little girls dreams.
The last few weeks ive been watching my daughter attempting to cope with her own tresspassers and digging out the scriptures that will allow her to choose forgiveness. It is so hard. It is so much easier to become stiffnecked and mad at the world.
God changes our perspective.
Jesus died to save a wretch like me.
Oh wretched man that I am.
All have sinned and fall short.
I too am a tresspasser.
In my eyes sin has weight and mine is light comparatively. But in God’s eyes my sin sentenced me to death.
How you live daily is a choice.
Choosing to be bitter and stand at the corner and scream the atrocities that have been pelted against you will make your days endessly sad and despairing.
Choosing to forgive and love others because Christ first loved you regardless of how you have been treated will fill your days with God’s never ending joy, a peace that passes all understanding, new mercies every morning. You will never be alone, always cherished, blessed beyond measure.
Forgiveness heals you.
Oh the benefits far outweigh the world and what its unforgiving heartbeat can offer your eternal soul. The world and its ways knock the breath completely out and leave a hole that keeps you fighting for air.
I remember sliding down the wall of our duplex in Benbrook years back. I was holding my 1 year old daughter and my 4 year old was holding tight to my right arm. I had just received in the mail the final divorce papers. It was like a heavy weight boxer had punched me full force in the chest and I was struggling for air. He had been long gone, but, the finality of it felt like death. A puncture in my dreams deflating my hopes. I couldn’t catch my breath. My oldest began to cry and she shook me, “Momma, Momma”. I am certain it was just seconds but, it felt like an eternity. I struggled for several years to catch my breath. I wanted desperately for my longing heart to move forward in truth.
How do we refill our souls with hope, how do we recover from the blows that knock us down face first in the dirt?
I will never forget it, that pivotal moment when the Holy Spirit came on me, when Christ became my center, when the living water and nourishment of God’s word sealed that gaping hole in my heart and allowed the Breath of Life to inflate my hopes and dreams into something new. The realization that no matter what others had done to me, I had sinned and fallen short. I am a trespasser, the jerk on the corner screaming “GET OFF MY LAWN!”, and that led me to my knees. The airbag inflates with God’s grace and mercy.
I am praying for my neighbor whose life has obviously been painful, that with his new move he will relinquish his grip on the past so that his remaining days can be sunshine and roses like the ones he grew so beautifully in his garden of pain.
I am praying for my oldest who continues to cry out “Momma, Momma”, that she will feel the washing of the Holy Spirit as she reaches for Christ who responds “Daughter your faith has made you well go in peace and be healed.” Mark 5:34
I am praying for the one who has trespassed against my daughter, that his choices lead him to his knees, to a place of humility and seeking, that he will find Jesus and be set free also.
I am praying for each of you. If you are harboring any bitterness, any unforgiveness in your heart, let it go and be free. God will deal with them on their issues and you can deal with your own.
Forgive those who trespass against you.
As a mother you want desperately to protect your children from any possibility of harm. You seek to train them better than you, to help them choose wiser than yourself, to hold them close. When you become a mother you instantly stand taller and become more alert of life and danger swirling around you. Your daily routines, places you frequent, food you eat, everything changes to accommodate your new agenda. The life of a child in the balance. A valuable gift from God entrusted to you to love, to train, to give wings, to share Christ.
Today, I am broken, saddened that one of my precious children is hurting. The world can be truly brutal in its deliverance. You hope as they grow that you can soften the blows yet, sometimes, just as you also had to, they have to experience its sting. The venom of sin from self or another penetrating the heart, breaking it down and sending the scattered pieces into their flood of tears. How do we stop the flow of the poisons grip on our child’s soul? What can we say that breathes a healing salve on the wounds and brings new life to their empty bones? How can I answer the question ‘Why is this happening?'”
Sins grip on this world is so maddening, unrepentant in its destruction, determined to rot the spirits power. It doesn’t make sense, it confuses the mind, it trips up our passions and chooses to devour. I Peter 5:8 It is disguised as an angel of light. II Corinthians 11:14 A thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10.
Oh, I know how to answer those questions, I know the answer to the pain. I know the Great Physician, the Healer, the one who binds up our wounds and heals the broken heart. Isaiah 61. I know my plight as a mother is for my child to hear me. For sunshine to open wide the eyes with its light, for God’s glory to rain down and expose the darkness that has settled around. To see the sad state of the one who cannot see, the one that is lost in the gratification of earthly treasures. Oh to understand the jealousy of a just God who protects that precious gift entrusted to its mother, the child chosen to serve, to love and to give of self regardless of its return.
I ask you Lord please dry up the river, take the hand that is afraid to relinquish its grip and peel the fingers back on the tangible and familiar past so that your words of transformation can breathe this bird back to life more hardened to the world and softened to the hands of the potter, more refined and transformed by His grace. For no one can snatch you from His hand John 10:28, God’s truth will set you free John 8:32, you are made beautiful in His time Ecclesiastes 3:11. I pray forgiveness for the trespasser and restoration of my little nuggets soul Psalm 23.
You have come so that we may have life in abundance. John 10:10
Reviveth the soul! Psalm 19:7
I remember I was sitting at my office desk one hot summer afternoon. I was sifting through some of my x-date cards determining my plan of action for that day. I heard a slight swooshing sound and then the frontal glass that expanded the entire length of our office space exploded. It sounded literally like we had been hit by a hand grenade. The glass splintered into millions of little square pebbles that scattered to the ground and spread out like sparks from a sparkler stick. I jumped approximately 3 feet in my rolling chair, the chair flew out from under me and I landed bum first onto the hard commercial carpeted floor. When I collected my thoughts and could truly begin to see what had transpired, I picked myself up off the floor and ventured towards the open air that was wafting now into the building. Lying flat out on the concrete walkway was a grackle blackbird. His blacker than black feathers shown like blue rainbows in the hot sun, his seemingly lifeless body unmoving but for the gentle sway of his feathers in the wind.
Birds are an intricate part of God’s creation. By design they have acute vision, being able to figure out distances, and miniscule details with great precision. Yet, even with their remarkable vision it is common for birds to hit the window. It is believed that they are easily deceived by the reflections that project back off the trees and landscape. A bird would believe that they are still moving forward when suddenly they run smack into reality. If they live through it, they sit up, look around, wonder what could have happened and then take flight again. As they pass another building with clear glass windows they see trees and landscapes and continue in the deceitful flight, easily deceived again. BAM! Glass shatters and they fall to the ground.
Are we not just like the bird? I know I am. We are naturally stubborn, independent, rebellious people who believe we know the way in which we should go regardless of the warning signs or if we have done this before. In a twelve step program they would tell you that is the insanity of the disease, doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result. How easily we are deceived by the grandeur of the offer in front of us that we fail to see the people standing with neon signs at each mile marker “stop”, “dead end”, “explosives ahead!” God is the one offering us spiritual glasses to navigate the bright rays and provide clarity to change the insanity and seek refuge.
I have recently been watching someone I love dearly hit the glass. Deceived by skilled gestures of chivalry and hollow promises, the childhood dream and blind hope of a future of happiness, the desperation of others already perceivably enjoying that life. Fully focused on the limited vision, centering life around something expected to be on the other side of the glass, sold out to its possibilities and completely cuckolded by trickery; as is the serpent’s way. On the other side of that glass is the truth. The glass is clear. The happily ever after does exist. It contains the hope of life eternal, the dreams that come true, the treasure of life inside by the refiner’s fire. But the reflection taints the glass, fogs up the window and limits the visual clarity of what is inside.
As I sit here contemplating how to gently nudge this little bird’s nose into the glass as to avoid a repetitive concussion, God’s words say this about the bird and glass..
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the Father.” Matthew 10:29
“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but, then I will know everything completely. Just as God now knows me completely.” Corinthians 13:
He is in control even when we fall. He is inviting us to come to the window. He dusts us off and pulls us up and undoes the latch. Then He whispers…
91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge[b]—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will hold you there
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
The truth: the way to shatter insanity, to break the cycle and see the new flight plan.
As God shakes the feathers of this wee little bird with His breath, it trembles. The presence of God stirs the heart, quickens its beating, and allows new life. Are we willing to leave the nest for the solid food found through the clearing?
The breath fills the lungs, the wings spread, the eyes are opened and the window has been raised: Shake it off, let it go and take flight on Eagle’s wings: chivalry is not dead.
Life is a journey with amazing adventures, crazy stunts, unbelievable horror and truly delightful joys. How we live through it, how we change and who we give the glory to for this incredible life we transition through is of vital importance. God created man to serve him and to give him the glory in EVERYTHING we do. The effortless job performance comes from one who trusts Him to bring the right audience.
In 2015 I want to relinquish my incessant struggle with control of things around me. Learning to abide in Him, trusting Him to do what is best for me, and living each day to its fullest possibility in service to Christ.
Join me in celebrating 2014, a year that was not without its trouble, but, brought redemption to this parched soul. Join me also in praying for 2015, that we see the light of the world in the never ending moments of life’s possibilities.
Thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for embracing, loving, giving, serving and praying with me when those instances block the road of change.
Let us juncture together hand in hand on the stage of life and deliver another worthy expression of God to the world, for He is the orchestrator of our own personal symphony. Seek first His kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you.
This is my vision for 2015 of what God has written on my heart to pursue and provided me a clean slate to write. He knows what lies ahead and what we have left behind, and He knows what blessings and joys that will come to us.
Necessary Changes for 2015
- Quest study – I have never fully completed one of these in its entirety. I will be studying the Letters of Paul. I need to finish one of these studies in its entirety.
- Women in the Word – Acts – deeper engagement in the home work portion. I always rush through the lessons.
- Read 12 books for book club plus 12 additional books, write chapters in my own book
- Have coffee with someone new twice a month
- Create exercise room in Brandy’s old bedroom
- Paint dressers and complete bedroom
- Paint bathroom and redecorate
- Exercise 4-5 days per week incorporating different types of exercise and strength training in different intervals; Swimming, biking, walking, elliptical, weights
- Participate in several 5k walks
- Continue eliminating fatty foods, eating better, drinking lots of water, reduce starbucks.
- Lose 50 lbs by end of 2015
- When purchasing clothes, eliminating clothes that have not been worn in a while or no longer fit. Donate them to women who can enjoy them.
- Find more writing jobs
- Find adjunct professor job
- Continue writing and seeking opportunities to write for others and to share testimony
- Stay within financial budget, reducing and eliminating debt. No more loans, credit cards, or seeking financial assistance. I would like to pay off all credit cards this year and reduce car loan by ½ with focus on high end commission sales and other second job opportunities. This will require many extra hours at work and less personal time, but, necessary for future.
- Employer start retirement fund
- Be more available for my mother, helping her clean up and spending quality time with her
- Coffee and study with Julie each week
- Find new ministries to be involved in
- Pray, encourage, share, give, love, forgive my children and others with God’s amazing grace
- Make prayer a priority each day whether in car, bed, walking etc.
- Sing in the Texas Traditions Choir Spring Show and Christmas special
Favorite Moments of 2014
- In January I received the Cadillac as a gift, and had the plastic “Frank Kent” sign on the back. God answered a prayer from when I was a child, when we had nothing and we would drive around the traffic circle and I would dream about owning a pristine luxury Cadillac vehicle. Although short lived, the Caddy was a sweet ride.
- March, Trip to Fredericksburg with Mom and Amanda/Ashley. Winerys, Luchenbach and shopping.
- April, Women’s Prayer Retreat at River Bend, much needed sanctuary
- April, promotion at work
- May, edited a book
- June, joined an online book club, LOVE IT!
- June, wrote a Vignette for a book being published in 2015
- June, Trip to Huntsville State Park and Galveston
- July, Trip to Rockport, Texas
- September Amanda made it into BIGGIE, the talent show at Oklahoma Baptist, and Brandy and I traveled to see the show.
- October, Brandy went to Disneyland with her college nursing friend, Syndey. They had the time of their life.
- October commissioned my first writing job for a non-profit organization
- November, Brandy was promoted to Charge Nurse at Texas Health Huguley.
- December, loved decorating tables with my sweet mama at the Christ Chapel Women’s Brunch.
- December, Brandy moved to her own home, with the dog.
- December, Purchased Steel, my new car.
- Brother Steve and his wife Sherri received word they are approved for adoption. Can’t wait.
- I spent all year creating my sanctuary, my book nook, my place to abide and its awesome.
- Began leading a small group for women
- Women in the Word study on Genesis: profound to my heart and soul.
Growth in 2014
- It is hard to give up what you are used too. This year I was no longer a student, relinquished my volunteer position for Oasis for Single Moms, one kid in college, one working on her own but still at home, had to change Sunday school classes. That place where you near the end of an era in your life, uncertainty. This year I have grown in the depth of my trust in God to lead me in His ways and direct my steps. I have ventured out into new horizons.
- Discipleship teaches another about how to live in Christ, but, it also exposes where you fail. Sometimes we get comfortable in our sins and do not even see them in action. I have learned to examine my actions and responses, how I live and serve Christ and how my failure in doing it well affects others.
- Abiding in Christ is a tall order. Abiding means to have a steadfast, unshakable faith that is unwavering in times of trouble, sadness, pain. Remaining, enduring, surviving, standing, accepting who I am in Christ and living it out loud.
- Focusing on taking care of me based on that truth of who I am in Christ: Working on my health, I feel stronger in conviction, determined to change, ready for 2015.
- The study of Genesis was enlightening. I learned the value in waiting on God before I act, trusting profoundly that He is in control.
God has been redesigning my life and I LOVE IT!
Ever felt like your life as you know it has come to an undefined end? Having been in school for upwards of 30 years, raising my two daughters alone for the last 20, serving on the Board at the church and leading the Single Mom’s Ministry the last 3 years and so many other little things that having recently ended, I have felt this way. Over the course of this last year I have discovered that school is out, my children are now raising me a little and my time to serve in that ministry capacity had ended: it was time for a new plan. But, I did not have one and I was restless.
Internally and prayerfully I was lifting my hands to God, “Please Lord help me figure this out, what can I do, where can I go, what should I be doing, who can I help?” I was also attempting to do some things on my own to no avail. In the still waters where I floated and walked over the summer He spoke. In my newly renovated bedroom/book nook half finished He spoke. Through my current boss, my mentor, referrals from friends, my Starbucks Baristas, random strangers, my children and ministry connections He spoke. “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”
I am an avid reader. God laid several books in my lap this year that were empowering: 12 Clean Pages, Bread and Wine, Falling in Love with God, Soul Keeping and My Best Yes. I am a leader. God has redefined my leadership roles: Office Manager(and I thought i would be teaching), Small Group Leader, Mentor, and continued Sunday School Teacher. I am a writer. God has given me writing/blogger/editor jobs: Editing a book, launching a book, writing a Vignette, editing a grant, possibly writing a grant, hopefully creating and writing a blog for a friend’s Non-profit, continuing to write on my own personal blog and working on building my own ministry. I am a singer. I am officially an active member of the Texas Traditions Chorus.
How easily we take the reigns of our own life thinking that we understand our calling. How quickly we throw our hands up to God and question what he is doing. How fast we become angry when things do not go as we were believing they would go.
We battle, we fight, we recoil and bite back, we scream, we run, we charge forward, we bob, we weave and we fail in our own strength. God whispers in the wind, speaks through a friend, dances with you through a strangers compliment, exercises His love by forgiving you of your folly, treasures you in the brokenness when our attempts at grasping the road ahead end in sweat and tears and striving, striving, striving.
In the beginning God.
The Great I Am.
The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
And He rescues. He speaks life into you. His word flows out.
Be still and know that I am God! Trust in the Lord, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths or make them straight. For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord! It is well with my soul. Wait upon the Lord. Seek and ye shall find.
Breathe in the breath of life.
I awoke the other day to the sound of the birds singing. I put our dog Gunner out on the tree to play and began preparing for another day. The dog began to bark and I paused to peek out the window and watch. He was barking up. The birds chirped. I listened. The dog barked, the birds sang. the dog barked, the birds sang and then another dog barked and the woodpecker pecked the telephone pole and a squirrel paused in the grass and the birds whistled. I realized that they were talking to each other and it reminded me of another scripture. All creation testifies.
God redefines our life.
All of the books I read that spoke to my deeply longing heart were gifts or recommendations from friends. My new leadership roles were years in the making, through my education which had to be finished, through my ending leadership roles where God was refining and preparing me. My writing jobs have come through my connections with authors and relationships built over long periods of time. My singing came after finally accepting an invitation that had been sent out for several years running. The treasure I found was not only was it a chorus of women who love four part harmony, it was acapella – where my life with Jesus began.
We took my eldest daughter to get her ears pierced at the mall when she was 13. We had attempted it before and she couldn’t go through with it. When it came time for the gun to shoot the ear she began to scream. Her scream penetrated the acoustic mass ceiling of the mall, reverberating through the place. People began to gather and watch perceiving that we were torturing and forcing this little girl to do what she did not want. I held her down as requested because she had begged me to make sure it happened no matter the cost. The brave employee pulled the trigger. BAM!!!!! Suddenly her screaming stopped flat. “Oh that’s it!”
Sometimes we do exactly that in life. The anticipation of the unknown is overwhelming. We expect a certain result from life and bury our heels in deep begging for life to stay the same. Sometimes we begin to move and then recoil and run. Sometimes though our screaming stops.
We breathe in the breathe of life and He renovates your everyday.
God is redesigning my life and I am loving it and I am LIVING IT!
I love travel, especially road trips to places we have never enjoyed in the past. I get excited making my list of what to pack, making it all fit in the car, purchasing the perfect snacks for the road, the music we will listen and suffer through, the games we will play and the places we might stop along the way. We have taken many adventures on very limited budgets. We have only flown 1 place together as a family and that was to Hawaii, however, many countries separately. But, traveling the highways and byways of the United States of America has been precious hours of deep conversations about life, jokes and funny stories, singing out loud and many, many warnings from police officers reprimanding my speed. Yes, it is absolutely true and I am grateful for their ability to slow me down, since I tend to want to go faster and faster in life.
The most recent journey was to Rockport, Texas. Months ago I was having a conversation with my customer and Christian sister. She had just returned from Rockport and was telling stories in animated flamboyance about her adventures there. She said God had given her this place as a sanctuary from life. I told her how much I too love just getting away, traveling and enjoying the world. Before you know it she had offered me her house to bless me with God’s place and we penciled in a date.
Hidden in a rundown trailer and RV park on an old farm road was a little treasure of a mobile home made into what she called her little dollhouse. It was freshly painted white with brighter than country blue shutters. She had placed a boat life saver and a replica of a lighthouse on the hitch side of the house. There was a wonderful cabana on the back side with a sunroom and two carports that were painted white with a bright limy green latticed top. It was a hidden gem for sure.
The water at Rockport Beach was crisp, yet calm and tranquil. The fine grains of sand just flowed through your toes, free of debris and shell pieces. Schools of tiny fish would flow through your legs and little crawdads or crawfish were buried into the sand banks. The waves were just ripples that glowed as they flowed in the hot dry sun. It was exactly what the Great Physician ordered for my soul.
One of my favorite passages in scripture is Psalm 23. I memorized the entire passage in 4th grade and the words that God hid in my heart so many years ago comes forth for such a time as this; vs 2b-3 “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”
Beside Still Waters
It was a time to relax, to laugh, to enjoy, to contemplate, to communicate, to slow down, to breath in God’s goodness, to pray. Yes, just what the doctor ordered.
Traveling is a journey to experience new places and spaces, people and food, creation and change. Traveling has led us to different climates, different cultures, different belief systems, different loves and hates, different thinking. Traveling has taken us over rolling hills, up steep snow capped mountains, to tropical islands, and iceberg filled waters. This time traveling had led us to the sweetest place, where the spoonbills swoop and the dolphins jump and the crabs back crawl into the waves.
As any journey goes they are imperfect: Arguments, frustrations of small living quarters and swarms of jellyfish coming in with the tides. But, it was a gift, a small point in time where we could stop and listen to God and to each other.
As I sit here a couple weeks post beach, and my sun glowed tan is beginning to fade, I thank God for all of these wonderfully fulfilling journeys we have taken to foreign countries separately and many states together. They have enriched our lives, empowered us to do, enhanced our vision, exposed our erroneous thinking and elevated our excitement about God’s incredible goodness.
As the days have unfolded afterwards my vision is a little bit clearer. The stresses of the year prior have been buried in the sand and the new stresses of the weeks ahead are handled with a new refreshed perspective on managing life. As I sit here in my sanctuary at home, listening to the dog chew his bone, the girls giggling in the other room, exhausted from the events of a wonderfully fun and busy weekend celebrating love and new chapters of life, I am embraced by a loving God who has quieted my fears, calmed the storms raging within, brought rest to my desire and stillness to what I think I need and peace in a world that is not peaceful.
He restores my soul!
I was floating on the lake at Huntsville State Park last weekend enjoying the majestic view of the trees, standing tall and connected and stretching into the heavens. The sky was a soft blue and the water was a rustic orange color. The sun was shining off the water, reflecting gloriously bright. A very large bird swooped down near the water and soared beautifully just shy of its surface, Catching a fish in its beak and then landing on the far side of the lake’s shore.
Such peace. The tranquility of the soft sway of the water beneath me lulled me into a silent trance. Fermata. Resting, holding. The laughter and chatter and the splashing of the water as people jumped off the wooden island surrounded me, yet I was just floating on a pillow of possibility and hope. The hot sun was warming my skin with small dark spots of God’s glory. Freckles. Always a reminder to me of God’s presence in my life.
I need these times of quiet reflection. Time where I listen to God’s creation and He answers some of those longing questions in my spirit. This year has been one of internal struggle and external complications. Life is not always roses and smiley faces. Sometimes the seaweed chokes out the vast beauty of an otherwise seamless shoreline. Imperfection amidst the perfection of God. My life is very good. But this year has been hard.
Those waves can hit so hard they strip you to the bone. I know this because in Hawaii, while standing on the North Shore a few years back, a wave did just that, stripped my swimsuit clean off. This is a frightening reminder of how violent life can be and how quickly life changes. How quickly we find ourselves in the murky waters off course, yet God is always with me ever so gently pulling me on that weak flotation device directly back to him.
Monday a woman reminded me of just how gracious we should be for the days we are given. She came in specifically to share with me that her 24 year old son had died suddenly of sepsis. He had been our customer since 2009, and every month she had faithfully come in for him and made his payment, talking with me about God, always pointing to my little wooden plaque that says “God is faithful.”
Today, she smiled at me with tears softly rolling down her cheeks as she showed me his obituary and death certificate. The earthly finality of life. I said, “I guess it was God’s time for him to go. He sure is feeling great today!” She said, “you know what Susanne, do you believe that too?” I said, “Yes I do, scripture says we will not know the time or the place and God has numbered our days.” She pointed at that plaque of mine and said, “He could have been a son that gave me mighty trouble, into drugs, or alcohol or many other things. But, God gave me 24 of the most joyful years of my life with Chris. God is faithful.” My boss, who was standing there sharing this moment with us, reached down to hug her with tears in his eyes too. “Yes ma’am He is!”
We have reminders of how vulnerable and weak we are in body such as the death of her son for her. For me it was the events of Sunday evening, that put a crack in our protective bubble. We have lived in our home for almost 14 years. We have never felt unsafe. In fact people have more than feared for us just because we live in a mobile home, yet, we have laughed it of off. There is the white trash cliché that we laugh at and pin fun quotes about on Pinterest. Yet, you never consider that evil exists and that the cliché might actually be true for that particular day for anyone, no matter where they live. Should we adhere to it?
Evil was right there with me. In the Fermata, in the quiet, in the calm. We are vulnerable and its ok. God is there to calm the storm. We cannot let the evil that lurks around in the dark steal our joy and ability to stand. Death brings new life. Light exposes what is hidden in the dark. A mask removed reveals the truth of the character behind its empty face. He is a sinner.
His name is Scott. I have heard his name thrown around the park for a long time. “He beats his wife.” “Mark went to Juve for hitting Scott.” “Scott had the cops called on him again.” ON and on it goes. But, yesterday, He knocked on my door and identified himself as Todd who lives around the left corner, with a spider man mask beside him on the porch rail, a kitchen knife in his back pocket and a lethargic, half stoned out of his mind squint in his baby blues. Amanda opened the door because she thought through the limited light in the small peep hole in the door that it was her uncle. He asked if he could borrow our phone.
Having been physically abused, having been a victim already of a senseless crime, I am generally usually on guard when it comes to strangers. I pay attention as it may to details and assess almost sixth sensish things going on around me. Because of the events of my past that feeling that creeps up your spine is not a welcome one. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up, the dog began to bark with a determined howl from his crate in the kitchen. I spotted the mask and made one of those assessments, “he is not getting to my daughter.” So I asked Amanda to get the dog so we can bring him out to go to the bathroom. She said, “Are you serious?” “Yes” and I stepped outside with the phone.
I asked him determinedly if the mask belonged to him, knowing full well that it was not their just 20 minutes earlier when we said goodbye to my niece and sister in law. His response, “what would I want with a children’s toy?” That certainly sounded scripted. “Who are you calling?”…”My ex-wife, can you help me Um I don’t know how to use this phone.” Seriously dude, its a smart phone touch tone; that was obviously a stall tactic. He was swaying a little, fidgity. Amanda had the dog almost to the door and Gunner rushed face first into it growling and snarling and ready for attack. They came out side and we had to fight to pull Gunner off of him. I grabbed the phone and said, “What is the number?” I dialed and handed him the phone. He walked slightly away from me. He handed me the phone. I said, “they didn’t answer?” He said “no”, as Gunner was trying to rush him again. He said “thank you” and disappeared around the right corner. “Amanda says, ” I swear I saw a kitchen knife in his back pocket mom!”
I called my brother who lives in the direction he was going and explained a little, he said, “I will get him.” Then I called my other brother who said, “headed out.” Then I redialed the number the man had called and a woman answered the phone, “Hello again?” “Hello, do you know the man that just called you.” She said, “he didn’t say anything.” I said, “well he came to my door to borrow the phone and he said he was calling his ex-wife. Said his name was Todd.” She said, ‘Darlin I do not know anyone named Todd, you need to call the police.” SO I called the police and they sent a car.
I receive a call from my brother Chris. “Sis, it was Scott, we are questioning him now.” I said, “Who is Scott?” as I did not know him by name and had never met him, just heard the stories since my brother is acting manager of the park. “You know Scott, Mark’s step dad.” “oh no, he told me his name was Todd, Chris and said he lived in the opposite direction of where he lives.” He said, “well he admitted coming to your house and he is seriously high. Call the police, he is a pretty dangerous guy.” I hear Scott in the background as my little brother Stephen is interrogating him. “What are you going to homes for at 11 o’clock at night borrowing their phone. That was a my sister man.” He said, “I didn’t know it was your sister or woudn’t have gone there.” Steve, “You still don’t do that to anyone, why were you doing that.”
A police woman came to the door and we explained the situation. She was harsh and cold explaining that it was not against the law to knock on someone’s door at 11, to ask to borrow the phone, to have a mask or to lie. I explained that he had obvious criminal intent, and he is high as a kite. My brother’s have him detained down the street. She said, “if he comes back you can get him for criminal trespass, but, for now do not open your door and there is nothing we can do.” She did not give us that warm, protected by the law feeling that we’d hoped for.
The end to this bizarre story is that it turns out the woman on the other end of the phone was his current wife, but since he identified himself as Todd she really didn’t realize she was asking me to call the police on her own husband. She identified the mask as her child’s mask not understanding why we had it in custody. He was in the older ladies house next to me right before he was at our house. She knew him and had let him in. His story was that he had to use the bathroom and theirs was out. He lingered in her bathroom for more than 10 minutes, coming out telling her that it wouldn’t flush and could he use her other bathroom. She had that same eerie feeling that comes over you when intentions are vague and she said, “its a new toilet and you need to leave.” She said he lingered long trying to get out of the house and she repeated her desire for him to leave. When she found out about us, she was mortified as to what his actual intentions had been. As were we. It was obviously not good, and we are grateful that we did not find ourselves a few years later on an episode of Criminal Minds.
The intentions of the heart, the desires that fester and grow within someone who does not have God to help guide them can be overwhelming. A mind that is drug induced can magnify these desires to do evil to get what it wants, and those who are not constantly allowing God to lead the raft, tend to run right over the edge of the waterfall right into the rushing waters that drown. God protected us by exposing his face and full identity regardless of his masked disguises, his intentions and his folly of errors along his path.
So, we occasionally fall off the float too, become in-balanced by fear or misguided choices and find ourselves sinking as we did this day, and as I have felt this year thus far. The water is cold, dark and lonely and even if you open your eyes you cannot see. But, if you reach up, with a small tinge of faith, your hand to God, he will pull you to safety. He will put his full weight behind your body and help you recapture that balance that is necessary to find the calming peace of His majestic arms.
The bird was still sitting on the far off shoreline the many hours we spent in the lake that day. God is watching, waiting and stirring the waters on our shoreline. Beckoning us to follow him. Asking us to forgive and pray for those who harm or even just intend too. Reminding us we are sinners saved by grace and we too could find ourselves in the timultious cesspool of sadness that comes in living without God’s buoy of hope. Rest upon God’s life raft and seek His face. Fermata. Holding. Resting. Calm.
Pray for Scott and his family.
I really love Valentine’s Day. People say its for couples or families because they go to special dinners, buy flowers and candy and occasionally that illusive diamond. Kids love it too, especially buying those boxed cards and giving one to everyone in the class. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was making my own Valentine box, decorating it eclecticly with different shades of pink, red and white hearts and cutting the card size slot in the lid! But, the REAL reason I love Valentine’s Day is because it is yet another day that testifies to love. My life is ALL about love.
Yes, I am single and I have been single FOREVER. Ok, only for two decades. That is less than half my life right. SO many people think that Valentine’s day makes the single person sad and lonely. Truth, it makes everyone sad and lonely occasionally. Why? Because our hearts long to be loved. We seek for something to fill that deep desire in our souls and flowers and words of affirmation hold the threshold for but a brief and tender moment in time. They say a diamond is forever, yet, it leaves us wanting more.
Why is it so brief? Why does that search for it come back with a reckoning force? Because the definition of love is God. Scripture says our hearts long for a perfect love that only God can give because God is love. So to me the testament of this specific day that centers around those 4 letter words, LOVE, is how your life testifies of it, not what you will receive from it. How are you loving others? Are you reaching out to others in need? Do you share Christ with those who are searching? As brothers and sisters in Christ are you calling each other higher, calling each other out of sinfulness, calling each other to the transforming grace of an Almighty God?
We confuse love with happiness, with feelings of gratification and elation. When we inflate the impact of a gesture that’s intent is never perfect but usually good, we deflate like a needle puncture in a balloon if they fail to deliver again and again and again. When life throws us lemons we complain. Lemons make a lot of incredible blessings for that is how it is with sour things: Lemonade, Lemon bars, Lemonheads, Lemon pies, Lemon tarts. Sour combined with the sweetness of life. Think about it, without my bad marriage I would not have the two biggest blessings of my life, my daughters. Without my physical abuse and other struggles I would not have the compassion and willingness to forgive offenses nor would I be able to run alongside others who struggle the same. God is love, happiness flows from Him.
God’s intentions are perfect and His love is genuine. His love never fails. People are imperfect and intentions are not always good, even in the best of relationships. People always fail, that is why Christ died. We must journey outside of our hearts and our desire to God’s heart and God’s desires. This shifts our thinking from self to Christ and moves love into our veins and into others souls.
This has been a tough Valentine’s day for me, wading knee deep in God’s discipline is difficult and challenging; Some my own doing and some just the realities of a broken world. I am missing a friend. I am missing my daddy and my youngest daughter. I have that tug deep in my soul when I visibly see all of the posts on Facebook and I say to myself, “I want that Lord.”
He gently whispers “Here I am.” Look for me in the compliment of a man passing by, in the sunshine that shone after days without its brightness, in the sweet and thoughtful gifts I received all day from my boss, my daughter, my coworker, my mother, my sister in law and friends on Facebook, in the larger than expected paycheck and the sales I made at the office. God is love and God is real and God is right here with you in all the moments of testing, discipline and stories. His love language is spoken into the very air we breath each day.
Valentine’s day is over but God’s love is in the air and everyway. Some celebrated it alone, some with their friends, their kids, their lovers. But a new day has dawned and that time has ended. Love didn’t. The sunshine that is shining brightly outside is a banner to that fact. Step outside and feel its warmth touch your face, feel the wind blow the breeze through your hair, hear the sounds of life moving, cars driving, kids playing, birds chirping. That is the language of God’s love to your broken soul. For we are all broken and love is what puts us back together.