Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Marcy P.:

I wrote this for our ministry blog… to communicate with friends of our ministry a very difficult but beautiful journey we’ve stepped into, though we are across the ocean from the heart of it now. However, it seems to fit in well with my audience here also. And it’s my hope and prayer that you be encouraged by the beauty that springs from ashes in the life of others. And that you will also be inspired to know this God who is still good in the hard stuff.

Originally posted on The Vertical View:

10177421_10153160922172571_7067492584133406236_n

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3

I’ve always understood that verse to mean that I am so grateful for the life of a person… that when I think of them, I thank God for them. When I think of how dear my children are to me… sometimes moved to tears by the undeserved gift they are to me… I thank God for them.

And that is beautiful and it is true.

But Ericlee and Dorina have inspired a new interpretation in my heart.

Every time I think of either of them… I see, in their lives lived out, that GOD IS GOOD. And when I think of them, I think of His goodness.

And upon my remembrance of His grace and glory and intimacy revealed in their lives… I find an overflow of gratitude in my depths to God for His sovereignty.

I thank God…

View original 718 more words

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 I recently had the gift of a trip to Disneyland with family and friends.

I think the popcorn-smelling-gases they pump into the air negatively affected the decision-making part of our brains because we all thought it would be a good idea to start with Space Mountain. With our little kids. Or maybe the sentimentality of our own childhoods overpowered our ability to think clearly as a parent.

Regardless, off we went.

I ended up in the front row with my five-year-old daughter. Now, my sweet girl is fearless, so perhaps in my muddled thinking that’s why I thought we could “sacrificially” take the front row.

We climbed in and I explained to her what to expect. We’d go up. There’d be loud music. And then we’d be flying through space. But don’t be afraid; I’m here and it’s fun.

Well, we went up.

The music was loud.

And it was terrifying.

Way more terrifying than I remembered. Darker. Faster. More jolting. I don’t remember if she was crying or screaming or in a panicked silence… I only remember the fight-or-flight awakening of my brain and the acute awareness that I’d just brought my baby onto this ride of terror.00029878_000

I pulled her in as close to my side as possible. We went up, down, sideways. We couldn’t see a thing except stars that looked on a collision-path with us.

“Just hold on, sweetie, hold on,” I whispered, as I made her body one with mine. So that with every turn, every jolt, every drop, her body moved with mine… and not its own whip-lashed free-flying that I imagined hers would’ve done without me.

I spent the entire ride praying safety and security and peace into her ear and heart.

“Hold on baby girl, I’m here with you.”

A billion-feeling light years later, the ride ended.

She looked up at me and said, “Can we never ride that ride again?” Oh, my brave girl.

I apologized over and over for taking her on the ride without going on it first myself. I told her that I didn’t remember it being so fast and dark. I later learned that’s because it wasn’t. The ride had only re-opened a few weeks earlier: faster and darker.

My daughter blew me away with her self-awareness.

“Mommy, even if you went first and told me it was too scary, I would still want to go on it. I would have to see for myself if it really was too scary.” 

 

And if my life is like Disneyland (ha!) then God has just taken me on Space Mountain.

He took me on a ride I wasn’t ready for. Wasn’t expecting.

As the ride climbed up, my heart panicked. “Letmeoff, letmeoff, letmeoff!” It was too late.

I imagine He whispered into my ear some of what to expect… but the rest just had to be experienced. And as the ride burst out into a fast-paced careening through an unpredictable outer space, He pulled me in.

Whispered peace and comfort and security into my ear and heart.

Held me so close that my body moved with His through the turbulence. Through the climbs, the drops, the sudden twists to the side, our movements were one.

“Just hold on, baby girl, hold on.”

Oh, I’m holding on. There’s no feeling in my hands, they are so numb with the holding on. With the leaning into His side so I don’t have to feel the tug to fly out of the coaster.

And when I feel brave… I peek. And what I see in those flashes of brave peeking, well, I think it’s beautiful. It’s the universe. And He knows the name of every star. Placed it right where it is. And I can feel the wind massaging my cheeks, my hair, and it almost feels good. Then we drop again, climb again, twist again. And a billion-feeling light years later, it’s over.

Daddy, can we please never ride that one again?

Well, the ride part is over. Will be over.

And I’m changed.

I’m hyper aware of my mortality. My husband’s mortality. The mortality of my children.

And I’m not as brave as my daughter. I didn’t need to experience this ride to know it was too painful. I believed the others who’ve ridden it and that was enough. Or so I thought.

I’m grieving that life is so short, so hard. Grieving that I don’t know when this ride ends and that I can’t see the track. Grieving that I don’t know when my last day is… or their last day or your last day. And that I just have to love so incredibly deeply, cherish immensely, hold tightly while it’s here to be loved, cherished, and held.

And I’m terrified.

“Hold on sweetie, I’ve got you.”

And He does.

And it’s going to be okay.

I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

Psalm 94:18-19

Our Lives, His Excerpt

10685037_10153175440767571_1806702757_n

It is well

with my soul

It is well

with me.

I woke up singing this song. Perhaps it’s my new anthem too.

So let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name.

I sat on a deck with the ocean in my view.

The ocean that still knows His name.

Images flashed of Ericlee lounging on patios and decks, seeped in the Word. Even with what proved to be a terminal diagnosis, he continued to love God’s Word, to lean into it and grow from it. To teach it to his daughters and wife. To my own family when we were together.10502062_10152975594872571_6266086793850406544_n

It’s a new morning and he’s still not in it. His memory and legacy continue to do its work in hearts. It carries his ministry, God’s ministry. And it gives courage to his wife and daughters.

But this isn’t the story I would have written.

My story keeps him here… miraculously healed- a testimony of God’s goodness and realness to all of his lost and found friends. We would cry and laugh and dance and sing and be in awe and shock. And we’d say, “We knew our God would come!” They would share their testimony of God’s healing all over the world… maybe even open their own juicing center to help other families in recovery. And people would be changed. Healed. Saved. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The way it would’ve been in my story.

Well, He came alright.

He came to hold his hand and steady his heart and mind. To take back the breath He’d loaned him. To smile with tears in His eyes, down His cheeks, stroking her back while she whispered peace and hope and permission into her lover’s ears.

He came to say, “Hey coach, you did it! You won the race; well done!” He looked up at his Daddy- saw the pride in His eyes, and clapped a clap of victory. He came to sweep him up into arms and hug so that he didn’t even notice when he’d let go.

He came with tenderness in His eyes, placing the medal of medals around his neck. “You are healed. Let’s go home.” And His embrace smelled of home. And the cheers and shouts and whistles were deafening-but he’d done it. In his 40th year, though he’d set many goals, he’d achieved the greatest one.

Then God gave a nod and a look and His army of ministering angels were off. Their task set before them. Their minds ready with purpose- into the world. To dance and wail with Haitians, with family, with friends, children, wife.

Never alone.

Through it all, through it all

my eyes are on you.

Through it all, through it all

It is well.

Through it all, through it all

my eyes are on you

It is well with me.

I choose to accept this story even though I don’t love it. Because really, I’ve only read this small excerpt. There’s a whole book… a book among a series, each with many pages and plot twists and climbing action. And perhaps this piece needs to be here for all of the rest to make sense. Perhaps this is what makes it work. Maybe everything good to come hinges on this chapter.

And who am I to rip out the section that pains me without having read the rest of the book?

I am not the author of this one… I can only read, tears streaming, praising the Author for His great character development, tension… resolution. He’s a world-class writer. His stories wind and weave together all of the important elements. If we are moved then He has written well. Gripped our hearts. Involved us. Changed us.

I can’t wait to read the rest.

Even so, It is well.

tumblr_mk8rmjBHkC1rli2p2o1_400

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300

There are many things in life I’ve thought I was ready for. As a kid, I thought I was ready to read. Or write. Or make friends. Swim. Ride a bike. Along the way, most kids realize that these things we watch other kids do so easily… come at a cost. Frustration at the struggle. Scraped knees. A nose full of water. Eventually we were ready, but not when we thought. Not in the way we thought.

Then I grew up and I was sure I was ready to get married. So I did.

And realized maybe I wasn’t. Not in the ways I truly needed to be, like selflessness. Like humility. Like all levels of maturity. I was in… and now I had to grow up within it. And years after I needed to be… I might finally be ready. On good days.

Then the pill made its way out of my blood stream, my brain, and I thought I was ready to be a mother. Ready to tackle this task that so many others before me seemed to do with such grace. And we welcomed him into our home. Our lives. Our hearts. And he kept us up all night. All day. Screamed that maybe I wasn’t ready. But here we were, all in. And seven years later… well, I’m still not ready. At least one of my four children daily reminds me that maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. At least not in the picture-book fantasy world of mothers. Or the mothers on the covers of magazines who are toned and smiling with their doting children on knee. I was ready for that. Not this.

The thing about being ready is that it’s entirely reliant on our feeling about the whole thing. About our sense that we have it within us to complete whatever task is set before us. That somehow we are capable of being what we need to be. That we can muster up within us some grand effort.

I won’t pretend to say that I was ready to see him go. To see him cross the finish line before us. To join a welcome-home party I wouldn’t be able to attend yet. There were moments… when his pain was excruciating and his wife and girls looked on, prayed on… that I was ready for his suffering to end. For his body to be healed in its full glorious restoration that only Heaven promises.

was ready for his suffering to transform into eternal joy and peace and fellowship with his adoring Savior.

But I’m not ready for all the rest. For the hole that leaves us. For the daughters without their daddy. For his wife without her lover. For his mother without her son. For his family without his physical presence. Audible laughter. The runners without their coach. I’m not ready.

But here we are, in the thick of it. And tomorrow we celebrate him… hold our own welcome-home party on this side. We’ll laugh at his antics and tears will spill and songs of hope and peace we will sing. And none of us will feel ready but we will keep holding each other up as we walk forward.

Because really, the only way to actually be ready, is Christ.

Summed up in that one word. THE Word.

It’s not by our ability to muster up gumption. It’s not an act of our self-determined will that we can be ready for the things that really call on us. It’s only through Christ that we have any strength (Philippians 4:13). It’s only by the riches of His glory in Christ that our every need is met (Philippians 4:19). It is only God’s peace that transcends understanding (Philippians 4:7). It is only by trusting Him, not my ability to feel ready, not my understanding of why bad things happen to good people… only submitting to the reality that we are not big enough, strong enough, sufficient enough to live this hard life… that we will have a straight path to walk (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I’m not ready. And I don’t have to be. My Sustainer is always ready.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46.4

He. Is. Ready.

FMF- The Intimate Whisper

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.

And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. 1 Kings 19:11-13

How often have I searched for God in the wind and the earthquakes and the fire? I’ve waded through their heart-pounding sensationalism, looking for the All-Powerful God. The one who must be visible in flashy shows like that. The One who speaks like thunder and for whom the whole earth trembles. 

But He wasn’t in the wind. 

And He wasn’t in the earthquake.

Nor the fire. 

But in a whisper. 

The gentle whisper that could easily have been lost to the flashiness of the louder phenomenon. Like the sweet little kid who lives in the shadow of a boisterous, exuberant older sibling or classmate. Who wants to be noticed, longs to be seen… but simply remains invisible in the presence of the others.

Yet what if that little kid were our Savior? The voice to all of our hope? But we… I am blinded so often by the charisma of the brighter star. Deafened by the siren with the greatest voice.

And I miss it.

I miss what comes next.

Or maybe I don’t . To be honest, I’m tired of loud and flashy and gaudy. And something in my soul longs for simple. Longs for depth. Long for something different. My eyes are drawn to the ones in the shadows, because I know they have value.

Then He whispers and some of us can hear it.

And that whisper is for us. And it means He is near. 

Because whispers can only be heard in close proximity to the whisperer. They are meant for intimacy. For that closer-than-my-personal-space-normally-allows kind of intimacy. 

Whispers are for the lost-in-love lovers as they giggle and swoon to their own sweet-somethings. Sweet-somethings so cheesy they must be whispered or the other eavesdroppers might gag. 

Or cry.

Broken tears for their own lost loves. Their own lost sweet-somethings.

But there is One who still whispers to us, and that whisper may come after the show-and-tell of the wind and fire and earthquakes, but it’s there. 

His words are meant for you, but you must draw near to hear them. 

Lean in… what is He saying? Get closer. Closer. 

Now listen.

 

 

 

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300We have a new host for our Five Minute Fridays… Kate Motaung, and I’m grateful that she is carrying the banner. Lisa-Jo, I know God is calling you to other wonderful things… and I will miss you (in FMF) but will continue to follow you around the blogosphere and literature.

Change.

For most, this word strikes terror. The kind of fear that brings chills with cold sweat and the creepy someone-is-watching-me fright. The thought of change makes them jumpy. Paranoid. “When’s the next chaaaaaaaaaange?

Yeah, that’s not me.

Strange, I know. (Okay, disclaimer: I don’t like negative change… like death and sickness or great, big, out-of-control losses).

Other than that, I love change.

I thrive on it.

It gives me energy and fills me with life. Now, I’m an introvert, so quiet time also fills me with life. But the runner-up is change. I always want to be learning something new, experiencing a new culture or a new language or painting a wall or creating.

I’ve often wondered if I’m troubled. Like, maybe I should abhor change like everyone else. What is it about me that makes change so easy? So comfortable? So… welcome?

For one, I think God has wired this into me. And so did my parents. I’m a Highly Mobile Kid (HMK). I moved A LOT as a kid and when we finally stopped moving… I didn’t know how. So I changed my room around every month. Or when I got older, I learned to travel the world. THIS did wonders for my soul. But it also was a detriment. It was like a fix I needed. When life was too mundane or ritualistic… I e to get out and get a change “fix.” WHAT?!

In some ways, this is frustrating to me about my own self. Part of me would LOVE to want to be settled and permanent and rooted. Truly. And perhaps if I could live multiple lives at once, one of them would be as such.

But I can’t and I’m not and sometimes I want to cry and sometimes I jump for joy.

I’m a mess.

Then God smiles on me… after 5 years of teaching me to root and deal with complete monotony (which ended up being AMAZING years)… He plants me in Germany, on the border of Switzerland and France. I’m a hop, skip, and a jump away from other cultures and languages. When life (which I AM living here… regular, every-day life, complete with day after day of laundry, cooking, dishes, rearing of children, work, etc) begins to drain me, I have access to the world. OH, I love the smiles of God.

But this planting only came after the hard call to plant. To dig deep. And you know what? I wouldn’t be here today… living so fully within the design God commanded of my personality and heart, if it weren’t for those years of planting. And some of my deepest, truest friends come from that same soil. And the huge amount of Support Heroes who provide for us to serve a Black Forest Academy… well, they wouldn’t know my from Suzy Shloozy if it hadn’t been for those years of planting. And the ways He matured me, grew me, developed in me, invested in me, during those years… are how I can be here and be healthy.

Yeah, the change I needed most in my life was the change I kicked and screamed against.

The change asking me to stop the change for awhile.

I’ve always known and trusted God as my constant. He’s everywhere I go. I never leave Him behind, or He me, when I travel. He’s my constant. He’s the only constant I truly need. And while He understands the life of a HM (He experienced life as one Himself) and frees me to be such… if I’m to know Him entirely… then I have to make my peace with not changing.

Because He doesn’t.

And how can I be so repelled by something that so deeply characterizes who He is? Consistent. Steadfast (Lamentations 3:22). Unchanging like the shifting shadows (James 1:17). The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8). He doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6).

To know this piece of Him, this piece of His divine nature, I must embrace those moments in my own life. To make my peace with the seasons left untouched by variation and transition. To understand that it’s not the “fix” of another adventure that really gives me life… but the Giver of all things good and beautiful. Sometimes that beauty is revealed through an adventure, yes. And sometimes it’s revealed in the quiet nuances of each regular moment.

Exhale

5-minute-friday-1 Exhale.
I’ve been chewing on this word.

The claustrophobic, chest-bursting pain of capturing breath and locking the prison door. Nowhere to let it go. No room to set it free. 

This has, in many ways, been my last year… grasping for any chance to breathe in deeply… 

and then to let it out again. 

“I can’t breathe” has slipped into my thoughts and out of my mouth more than once. 

And I wish, that just as this has been a figurative reflection on my state of mind… that there was also a figurative inhaler to help me out. 

How shallow my wishes are.

How God longs to draw me into a room with the purest of oxygen and hold me through the deep gulps of His life-giving breath… while I’d settle for an inhaler. 

Do you ever just wonder how, exactly, to answer that call? What does it look like to step into God’s embrace and breathe? I know it’s what I need. I beg for it. Flatten myself into the earth before Him. Pleading for respite. For healing. For grace. And I wait.

And wait.

And wait. 

Am I doing it wrong? Is there more to surrender then letting it all go? 

Hand lifted, “take it!” I cry. 

And He does. In His time. In His way. While I continue to scan the horizon for His relief forces, to come in and sweep away the trouble, whether it’s mine or another’s.

Searching the hills, slowly dying in the mud of the battle field. 

Waiting. Gasping. 

Defeated… can’t. breathe.

Then it’s there. That long, slow, life-sustaining exhale. 

I feel it. 

And I look up- and He’s there. Smiling. Been there. Pulling me to Him.

To that place where breathing comes on the tide of the sea, in sweet rolls and waves that rock and shush and fill the soul with peace.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers

%d bloggers like this: