Sunday, October 2, 2016

1!

Crazy to think, one year ago today we made our way through pouring rain and rising floods to pick up the part of my heart I never knew was missing.

I could tell you the story of heartbreak, of hard days and lonely nights, a year of tough decisions, of struggle, of hardship. Aint it just like a dog? To turn my life upside down. The story of the past year looks so different now- such sweet mornings and belly laughs, new experiences, a love I longed for but failed to fathom.

I’ve said it a thousand times: he’s the best gift I’ve ever received. The reality though? So much more. He’s been such a promise of what’s to come, a down payment, proof of God’s faithfulness, the giver of all good gifts… Oh to think what else He has in store!

I can’t end without a thank you—To my amazing mom, who braved the (literal) storm and made the trek to Lynchburg with me to pick up my boy. To my sweet aunt (and uncle) who hosted us on the way home that first night, reassurning and kind, feeding us pizza and calming my nerves as I stressed about the possibility that he might pee on their rug (he didn’t!) To Q’s precious foster mom who opened her home (and her heart) during his transition. To countless friends and family who encouraged me along the way (and understood when I cancelled plans because I had left my dog home alone all day and couldn’t justify leaving him again.) Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, but please know that I am blessed because of you. 

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
Roger Caras









Thursday, December 24, 2015

show me your glory

It’s a familiar path, this is home. I feel my body relax as soon as my feet hit these salt-stained, splintering boards. They lead me out into the water, closer to the deep. I know these waters; I’ve splashed in her brackish shallows on sunny days of seasons past. I’ve watched her rise, angrily battering these same weathered boards, leaving them warped and twisted, but better for it. Tonight, in the quiet stillness, she reflects the sinking sun, the daytime sky’s final dramatic act before the nighttime curtain call. She doubles the beauty that dances above and everything seems multiplied.

“Show me your glory!” Moses cried out to Creator God. A humble man’s bold request in a moment of passion. My plea echoes the same. Just a girl standing on the edge of the earth, peering up at the almost-night sky, “Show me, God. Teach me your ways, show me your glory.”

“I am loving and I am compassionate and I will show you. But there are things far too wonderful for you to see.”

So God placed Moses in the cleft of a rock, high enough and close enough to see his goodness, but hidden and protected and from the things too wonderful. The mighty hand that lovingly reached down to cover him on that hill is the same hand that curled around a mama’s finger in a stable somewhere in Bethlehem. And when those same hands grew strong and calloused, they climbed a different hill to do the only thing that would truly accomplish what they had set out to do since the beginning of time when they gathered dirt in a garden: to make us close to him.

That is the hope and the heart of this season, and the joy of this promise is what sustains us throughout the year. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Not to be close to us, but so we could be close to him. That is reconciliation, that is forgiveness, that is hope. 

I pause to take it all in, living in the cleft of this mountain is daunting and thrilling and scary, but the view is impossible to beat. When I’m overwhelmed by the wonder of it all, I can’t help but smile at the glorious unseen. The things too wonderful…

Someday.

For further reading:
Exodus 33:12-23
Ephesians 2:13
Romans 5:8

Sunday, October 25, 2015

He binds up our wounds

By the time I make it to the bottom of my second cup, the last few sips have gone cold. I'm reading through the framework of the faith, the pages written by spiritual giants, scrawling out notes as I try to make sense of it all. But the truth is, I'm distracted. The snoozing pup beside me, the hum of the washing machine upstairs, a buzzing phone at arm's reach.

Be still//And know//That I am God.
  
But what does that even mean? And who am I to stand before a holy & righteous God, perfect in wisdom and power, and yet-- mindful of me.

I find Him in the beautiful. The flaming sunsets and twinkling stars. Changing leaves and roaring oceans. The cooling air and a blazing fire. I feel the warmth of His presence like the sun on my skin.

But the ugly?

I wrestle with the demons of doubt. Nights clouded with fear. Anxiety that sneaks up like a thief at my door, stealing joy. There are wounds. Old hurts that ache as the weather changes. Stiff ankles and creaky knees. "Why haven't you healed me yet?" I cry out in frustration, bleeding and crying.

He's tried. Lord knows He's tried.

But the stitches He used to bind my broken heart? I tugged them out long ago. The nasty, ugly scab that He forms time & time again? I pick at it like a child. At my darkest I doubt His goodness...
God what do you know about wounds?
And He reaches out His hands. 
What do you know about pain?
He pulls me close to His pierced side. 
What do you know about bleeding?
Faithful and patient, abounding in love and mercy... “Child, what do you know about healing? Will you trust me this time? Give up the jealousy and the bitterness and fill your hands with the hem of my garment instead?”

I will try. Because the last woman spent 12 years bleeding. And that’s no way to live.

There’s no doubt I find Him in the beautiful. But He finds me the ugly. Right at the center of my broken, fallen existence. He binds up our wounds. This is the fullness of grace.


For further reading:
Matthew 9:20-22
Psalm 147:3

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

what a difference...

He picks us up.
Dollar plants, sitting parched in garden store bins.
Wilted and lifeless, He takes us home.
Easing us out of our plastic containers,
carefully tearing us from the things that hold us back.

He breaks up our roots; awakening, stirring...
pouring leftover soil into hand me down pots.
Chipped and tarnished: in broken vessels He places this:
hope.

Summer is rough.
Oppressive heat chokes the life out of us.
Torrential downpours leave us battered and bruised.
Deadly pestilence eating away...
But we are not destroyed.

All along- He is watering and feeding,
pruning and nurturing the life He sustains.
‘til one day you look and suddenly see:
growth.
What a difference a season makes.

Monday, September 14, 2015

the cure

It's a strange juxtaposition... The floors are still sandy but the house smells like apples, cinnamon, and cloves. Pumpkins sit perched on tabletops while beach towels tumble in the dryer. The sun hangs high, brave in the sky right now, but I already know she'll go to bed a little earlier today than yesterday. 

Isn't that the way it goes?

The calendar says summer for another week or so, but my heart? It's ready for harvest. This is our fallen existence. A heavenly creature landlocked on earth, a spiritual being trudging through the monotony that is this physical life. It's not all bad. The joy of fellowship, His revealed truth, the blessings of a truly beautiful existence. 

But all too often I catch myself clawing selfishly, longingly for what lies ahead just beyond my reach: certainty, an explanation, answers. The day I look back and say, "It all makes sense! The struggle, the pain, the joy, the victories, the defeats." Other times I find myself holding on white-knuckled to the things of the past: comfort and the familiar. The terrifying unknown terrorizes me. My dreams taunt me with what might have been, the things I let slip through my fingers like sand upon the shore, too numerous to count.

I'm a kid at summer camp. A girl in a foreign county with no luggage of her own.  

But He calls to me. Like a crying baby, He hushes me in the stillness of the night. He knows my wistful spirit, my homesick heart. He breathed life into these bones, for such a time as this. And it hits me, maybe my comfort isn't His top priority. Maybe I'll never be fully comfortable in a place that isn't my home. And maybe, probably I'm not supposed to be. 

Maybe the nagging, the longing isn't for anything seen, it's the unseen. Maybe the desires of my heart were for Him all along, I just didn't realize it. It only makes sense that the cure for our ailing hearts would be found in the One who formed them. 
Anchor of my soul- you sustain. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

this is love

I went to Hospice yesterday. I rode along with my mom who went to visit her precious aunt battling a brain tumor. In the car I watched a video of a pregnancy announcement, in an entertaining turn of events, the husband surprising the wife. His eyes filled with happy tears when he realized they were going to be bringing another little life into the world. When she finally caught on to what was happening she was elated. As she started to cry, I did too, thinking to myself, "This is love..."

Moments later we pulled into the facility. A kind woman with a warm face pointed us in the direction we needed to go. Quiet and clean, peaceful yet sterile. We rounded the corner and entered the room. Her breathing was heavy and labored, the morphine and the swelling of her brain keeping her in that place just beyond our reach. After a while in the room, we went outside and talked with my mom's uncle. He had spent most of the morning working out the excruciating "details."As we talked, tears filled his eyes and he said, "I'm glad it's her. I would hate for her to feel this pain, this loss." And then, I realized, "THIS is love."

There's more to love than pregnancy announcements. It's miscarriages and infertility. We get caught up in weddings and forget about funerals. It's not simply the person standing beside you on the mountaintop, it's the one prostrate beside you in your deepest valleys. We think it's hours of endless conversation, but what about the time when no words can fill the space? It is more than having a hand to hold, it's the one that keeps holding on when the other can no longer squeeze back. Love is sacrifice, pain, and vulnerability. It's risking it all for another. Sometimes better sometimes worse, sometimes sickness sometimes health. Til death do us part. 

So love, sometimes, means letting go. But holding fast. 

For her, today holds the hope of heaven. For him, it's day 1 in a world that for 34 years his precious wife held together. Choose love and choose wisely. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Oh July

July is the oldest sister, established and stable.
She's fiercly independent, but painfully nostalgic...
Naturally nurturing and overly empathetic.
High standards and expectations, she can't help but be disappointed at times. 
She's cutoff jeans and a hand-me-down ring.
A calculated risk, understated elegance, saving grace.
At times predictable, but the kind of girl you can count on.
Tears of pride pooling in her smiling eyes
Wise beyond her years, but the first to admit... 
She's got a lot to learn.
Sometimes she lets her heart get in the way.

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