To Open Here or There


A hand with fingers curled tightly


Slowly unfurling like the petals that turn outward, revealing a best kept secret to the sun, the sky, the bird.

The warm breeze sweeps across the palm, drying the sweat of hard work… the hard work of clenching, fighting, holding.

Drying the tears that have fallen in fear.

In the dark and quiet places where silence rings loud and whispers overwhelm.

Where open feels like safe twirling with terrifying.

But it’s here… here in the light of day, fully exposed, where security rings true.

There’s nothing in the shadows.

No faceless voices.

The only suspense lies in how you’ll respond to the grace poured like sweet milk and honey mingled over your precious soul.

When the terror of being discovered washes away in the Light that frees.

That saves.

That redeems.

Here in the sun, open hands freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Free to believe. To dream. To sing. To dance. To create.

Free to receive the goodness pouring from a thorny crown.

The fear promising safety in our closed-off-world is the lie of liars. There’s no peace there. No security. No control.

Only smoke and haze and mirages of good and visions of bad. Whisping through fingertips. Teasing.

No. The only security is knowing there is none… but for Him. FMF-Open--600x600

And we can’t hold Him with closed fists.

He washes over.

Coaxing. Wooing. Waiting. Drawing. Patient. So patient.

Then we flash our best kept secret to the sun, the sky, the birds… and we wonder what took us so long.

Because THIS.

THIS is beautiful.

FMF – Wait


Here’s the deal. For over four years, bunches of bloggers have gathered every week to huddle around a prompt word and just write. It’s called Five Minute Friday, and we don’t think about the ins and outs of grammar or spelling or punctuation. We just write.

And it’s glorious.

I’ve done this quite a few Fridays, but rarely explain what I’m doing. HA! So now you know :)

Today’s prompt is “wait.” Good one.

Waiting is a time in space that I used to dread. At times, I still do. Mom would say, “Wait,” and ugh! But I want it now!

The doctor would say, “Wait,” but ugh! I want to get it over with!

Waiting can feel torturous.

More and more in our self-indulgent society, where we are taught that our immediate happiness is our merit, waiting doesn’t even appear an option. What we want is owed to us by the very fact that we are… well, us. And we matter. And we deserve what we want when we want it regardless of how it affects another’s happiness.

But I’ve learned that waiting is a discipline… and one that bears the fruit of true happiness, joy, and developed character. To survive a season of waiting… to delay gratification and self-pleasure is to know true, lasting gratification and pleasure. In time.

If a baby were birthed at the time we demanded… who knows but that his/her lungs would be under developed or his/her vision not quite formed. But the womb and its Designer take the time needed to form what must be formed, in its time, and gift the child when he/she is ready.

I have had to wait a lot.

I waited for five years, gritting my teeth and mourning as though a death had fallen upon me, for the life I’m now living. But while I waited, I built community. Invested. Rooted. Loved. In ways I’d never done before.

Little did I know, God was using those five years of my impatient perseverance to develop in my life everything I needed to be a healthy, whole person amidst my dream. Had I forced it sooner… I would have been less… well, less everything. Less mature, less developed in character, less adaptable, less intuitive, less patient.


But that time of waiting formed in me, and for me, everything I needed for the gift to come.

How I sadden to think of how much of that time I spent in grief… blind to the ways God was using it to give me exactly what I hoped of and dreamed of.

In HIS time and in HIS way.

What are you waiting for today? What longing has been put on hold in your heart? What despairs you to see off in the distance, seemingly unattainable?

I won’t preach the current message of our world. “Give up everything for your dreams!” “Press on and never give up!” “Don’t quit!” “You deserve happiness, don’t let anyone take it from you.” “You can be anything and everything you want to be!”

Instead, I say… tenderly hand the dream over to the Dream Giver. Trust Him with it. Trust that, while we deserve nothing, He holds something beautiful for you. Something the He will care for, nurture, develop, raise… and when the time is just right… He’ll give it back. And it will be more beautiful, more splendid, more.


More than you ever imagined or dreamed possible.

It will exceed the dream you handed over.

If you will be but willing to wait.

And while you wait… look for Him. Look for what He’s doing in the meantime… He’s not wasting it. Don’t you either.

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3: 19-26

Read a previous post, {Dad’s} Lessons in the Waiting on other values in waiting.

Chasing Glory in Patience

I’m raising two teens. Perhaps all teens are like this… but I find having conversations with them, at times, akin to having to personally, forcefully, remove teeth from their mouths. Their faces– big eyes, tight lips, silence… convince me they must feel the same.

But these conversations must be had.


And I lose patience. All of it. Navigating the manipulation-via-silence versus time-to-process-information may as well slay me. Sometimes it does. My patience, at least. Then I say things like, “You want a relationship with us… but relationships require a level of dialogue. Let me know when you’re ready to talk,” and I usher them out the door.

Ain’t nobody got time for that. (Yes, yes I just did).

Then I flop back on my bed and think, UGH! Will I ever get this right? How ’bout an “I love you, sweetie, and want to hear your heart. I’m always here when you want to talk” and then I just sit and wait. 

But I don’t have it… the yanking of metaphorical teeth is exhausting. Draining. It hurts my brain.

Then it hits me like a blast… right in the middle of my self-reprimanding tirade:

There is GLORY in God’s patience.

His patience to put off His due wrath and judgment so that a few more turn their hearts. His long-suffering… how we sin again and again against Him… how this world turns with such evil.. yet He waits for those few, that not one would perish to His haste.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

I catch a glimpse of that glory in my own impatience… the grating of nails across my soul to wait… to suffer long. The glimpse is to my shame but to His great credit. Praise God for His patience or I would be lost. May I yet walk so patiently. To pour and pour and pour my heart and sweat and soul into that which returns no regard… returns only big blank stares and stone hearts. How He must ache a million times over… and yet He’s patient.

When I deserve wrath, He is patient… waiting that I would lift my eyes up.

When I deserve judgment, He is patient… suffering long as a parent waiting for their child to come home.

When I deserve condemnation, He is patient… holding His tongue and offering His heart instead.

Where I deserve nothing good, He offers every good and perfect gift.

Love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4a).

“…God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Even when I stare with big eyes, tight lips, and silence, He is patient.

In my nothing, He is everything, and it is here His glory shines.

His glory is the beauty in my mess. It fills the emptiness between what I am and what He needs and makes it sufficient.

Makes me sufficient.

Even as I close the bedroom door behind my children and kick myself again for another less-than parenting moment… He is patient.

Lord, let Your glory fall!

(Chasing Glory with my sweet Dorina Gilmore and a handful of our special people. Join us! #GloryChasers)

FMF- Send


“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here I am. Send me!'” -Isaiah 6:8

Isaiah didn’t say these words out of boredom.

He didn’t raise his hand begrudgingly after everyone else shifted in their seats and looked away.

“I guess I’ll go…” was not his answer.

In fact, He didn’t miss a beat, knowing that his enlistment came during great political turmoil. His nation and people were being threatened from every side.

Being sent would not be safe.

It would not be comfortable.

He wouldn’t find superstar fame or wealth or security. At least, not in the way the world defines these things.

He exhorted the nation’s leaders to trust in God alone… and when they did, they were rewarded. But when they didn’t… they all suffered. Being “sent” also meant being the bearer of bad news. Exile. Destruction. Judgment.

But there was always hope.

Repent! Trust God alone. Forgiveness. Clean slate. Freedom.

A Savior.

He witnessed God’s plan. His good plan.

To send His own self, in the flesh, to save those who would receive Him.

Our holy God wasn’t just looking for someone else to send… He answered His own call.

And it wasn’t “safe.”

It wasn’t comfortable.

He didn’t come to live a life of superstar fame, or wealth, or security.

He came because He “so love the world… that whoever believed in Him would never perish, but live eternally” with Him… in all of the comfort, security, safety, and wealth that Heaven could offer (John 3:16).

There was no other way.

And He didn’t have to raise His own hand. He could have let our sin take its course. He would have been just to do so.

But no one else qualified for this mission.

And He so loved the world.

So loved you.

Will you raise your hand?

It won’t be comfortable. It won’t be “safe.” People might even hate you for it.

But you will not be alone.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

-Deuteronomy 31:6

You don’t have to be strong. Intelligent.

You don’t have to love to travel. You don’t have to be an extrovert.

The only qualification is a willing heart.

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. -1 John 2:17

Rest, Comfort, and 2015

They’re good words. Abide. Rest.

And they leave me feeling a little discouraged. By now, I should know what it is to live abidingly in Christ… and I should be an expert at Sabbath rest… right?


I realize, though, that these are not words to master. That’s the “do-er” in me. The Martha. The Behavior Analyst. The goal-driven. I want to master things, including understanding, living and breathing these words.

The reality is… I need to refresh myself daily on these words of 2013 and 2014. To see them as opportunity. Grace. Gifts. Always available, regardless of my awareness or intentionality with them.

He abides in me No. Matter. What.

He offers me rest In. Every. Circumstance.

And this year, I choose…


Are you chuckling? :) Not the kind of comfort you might be thinking, though I’d love to indulge in a year of comfort. 

I mean paraklēsis.

I mean the kind of comfort that only is only needed when your heart is wrenched. When your soul is dragging. When you want to disappear. To find a rock, crawl under it, and hibernate. When good seem impossible. When better seems hopeless. When you’ve cried in despair. Or desperation. When circumstances confuse. rock. shake. When the earth shatters. When you want to hide your face in shame. Or embarrassment. Or pain.

When you need comfort.

When your soul needs relief.

When your body needs ease and freedom from its agony.

When your heart needs reprieve from the pain.

When the Comforter steps in, wraps you up, and swallows you in the peace that doesn’t make sense.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 

When the God of all comfort consoles us, encourages us, defends us. Paraklēsis is all of those things.

And He asks us to return the kindness.

So this year, I hope to have a paraklēsis filter on my life circumstances. That with each challenge I encounter, I would pause and ask first, “Where do I see God’s comfort in this situation?” And second, “How can I extend this comfort to others around me?”

Now, if 2015 is anything like 2014, I will have a PLETHORA of opportunities to practice paraklēsis, both as I seek to realize it from God’s hand, and as I extend it to others.

And I will continue to embrace His abiding presence as I seek to abide in Him, as well as strive (ha!) for the holy sabbath rest that our souls, hearts, minds, and bodies need to thrive.



Naughty to Nice

It’s the time of year again!!! It’s Susanna Leonard Hill’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest!

Write a children’s story (children here defined as approximately age 12 and under) in which wild weather impacts the holidays!  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words

Here’s my submission :) Enjoy!

Naughty to Nice

“Fantastic flight,” said Santa, folding his empty bag.

“Santa?” asked Marion. “You asked if Sam was naughty or nice this year—”

“And you said, ‘Naughty,’ Santa reminded.

“Because he’s always naughty. Every year. Naughty,” piped Lena.

“We double checked the list… he was nice this year,” said Marion.

“Nice?” Santa chuckled. “I knew he could do it.”

“He’d never been nice, so we assumed—”

“Re-harness the reindeer!” Santa called out. “Load the best gift! Quick!” Marion hung his head, embarrassed. “Kids can always change,” said Santa, patting the open seat beside him. “A naughty-to-nice child is special!” Marion slid beside Santa.

They were off, with bells and Santa’s laughter…

until a large crunch rocked the sleigh. “What was that?” asked Marion.




Hail. BIG hail. The sleigh twisted as the reindeer leapt out of the way. Marion covered his head as ice-balls attacked.

“Santa!” Marion cried.

As Santa shouted directions to the reindeer, a hailstone knocked his hat. 

The reindeer wove a path through the storm to Sam’s house. Santa and Marion dashed inside.

Sam, wrapped in a hole-y blanket, sat beside a low-burning fire. The hail shook the thin walls.

“Sam, we’ve brought you something.” Santa placed a colorful package next to Sam.

Sam asked, “Are you taking back the coal?” An open bag sat beside the hearth. “I’m naughty to get coal so we can light the fire. This year I shared our coal with my best friend. Was that too nice?” he sobbed.

Santa crouched beside Sam and pulled a bag from behind his back.

“That’s the biggest bag of coal I’ve ever seen!” Sam exclaimed.

“It’s enough for you and any friends who might need some.” Sam leapt into Santa’s arms.

“You don’t have to be naughty to get what you need,” said Santa, chuckling. “Just be who you are… and let me help with the rest.”

On the way home, ashamed of how he’d misjudged Sam, Marion asked, “How’d you know?”

“Let’s just say I’ve been around the world a few times,” said Santa, his laughter trailing behind them into the dawn.

Dearly Loved

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 Dear: “Regarded with deep affection; cherished by someone.”

It never goes away.

It’s the same longing I had as a toddler, as a teen, and now as a married mommy.

I just want to be dear to someone. To be regarded with deep affection and cherished.

And not just by anyone.

By a man. A husband. A lover. A protector. A strength. A defender.

I love my girlfriends, and indeed, I want to be dear to them, too… but there’s a place that can’t be filled by a girlfriend. Kelly Needham has a great series right now on Friendships Gone Wrong. It’s fantastic. If you’re a woman, you should read it. I want to be dear to my friends, just not that dear.

And sometimes, even in marriage, I still have an unmet longing to be dear to someone. Even as a mother, with adoring children, this depth remains unfulfilled. Is it because they don’t love me enough? Because they don’t cherish me?


Well, on some occasions I can convince myself that the answer is “yes.”

But really… it’s not meant to be filled by a human being. I am created with a void that only God can fill.

Yes, my human counterparts can warm my heart with love. I can feel overflowing with affection. I can feel enamored and romantic. But all of those feelings fade away, and I’m left with my own self, my sense of inadequacy and insufficiency, my failures flashing in my face… and I don’t feel so dear anymore.

Yet He says, “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Deut 8:3

He lets me hunger for more than this earth can fill.

He lets me thirst for more than this earth’s water can quench.

He lets me suffer for more than this earth can cure.

Because it was never meant to be my sole provider. My all.

He was.

He is.

He is my beloved and I am His.

He bids me come and fills me with Himself. And only then am I content, in whatever circumstance. Only then do I have the peace that transcends understanding. Only then does the song of lasting joy break out.

Only then do I hear Him whisper, “Dear Marcy.”

Get more of Jimmy’s music here. He’s FANTASTIC. We love the Needhams. :)


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