Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye..... Hello

As I sit in my warm home with family I love, I think back on 2013. I am thrilled to know that all of the unanswered questions of this year have their resolutions in Jesus. 

This year the Lord has allowed joy and pain, answered long term prayer, has granted healing and carried us through profound brokenness. 

In it all I have become evermore acutely aware that He is enough. His love is enough. His grace is enough. That as I turn to Him with all that life contains He molds and makes all things new. 

The process is not usually pleasant, is often exhausting, and always involves going deeper in trust and surrender. 

And it's all worth it. All of it. The tears, the waiting, the prayer prayed a thousand times, the joy, the miracles, the love. All worth it. 

He is, has been, will always be, enough. 

Now and forever. 

Happy New Year....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oh to be a child bride...

Oh to be a child bride.

To have your entire life planned out for you. Whom you will marry, where you will live, even what you will cook, and quite possibly what your children's names will be. I marvel at the submission and trust that living in those confines would take. I wonder at the potential security that may come from knowing your life mate from your earliest memory. I also know myself well, and it's pretty safe to say that I would buck those confines at every turn.
No choice. No voice. Absolute obedience without any thought to what is in your heart, your personal desires, YOU.

I don't doubt that the people who engage in this practice believe that they are doing what is best, honoring a long standing tradition.

As I was pondering this a few weeks back I got to thinking about being a bride. Not just my personal experience, but the experiences I have observed over the years. Young brides, cheeks flushed with anticipation and the glow of fresh dreams. Widows remarrying, preparing to once again love and become vulnerable after pain and loss, learning to open their hearts and lives in a new way. Brides with a past more inky black than the leather of the old Bible that sits in my nightstand drawer, who never even dared dream that they would have someone who would accept them, love them, want them just as they are. Let alone a wedding.

It's an honor to be asked, to have the offer of another person's life laid down for you. It's humbling. The reality of the bowing down, the tears in the eyes, the honesty of heart intertwined in the words, "Will you marry me?"

I love a Love Story. I love a Dream. I Love being asked to be a Bride.

The gracious beauty that fills my life is unending.

That He, the Lord of All Creation who has known me from before my earliest memory, would ask me to be His Bride. It requires profound trust and weighty submission, but the confines are all freedom. Peace, joy, hope, redemption, unfailing love.... everything my heart has ever longed for is found in Him. Obedience to His commands are all blessing. There is nothing He asks of me that He HIMSELF does not give me the strength to do. It is often that I realize I am not doing much more than laying in the palm of His hand, resting in Him as He carries me through a storm high above the waves of fear and doubt.

His offer is precious, stunning, gloriously unique.

I know His hand well now, yet am humbled as if He has asked again for the first time.

Song of Songs 4:7

Monday, August 19, 2013

Maybe I just needed a reminder...

I've always been afraid to write. 

Not to say that the fear has stopped me. It hasn't. Well, not completely.

But it has crippled me often enough that I find myself irritated.

At age 11 I started a novel. I wrote some 40+ hand written pages about a secret child conceived in WWII, who just happened to be my age, and was now accidentally finding out about her true identity through documents she came upon while snooping through her "Uncle's" things.....

I remember finding it after having set it aside for months, I read it... every page... and picked it apart mercilessly. Never good enough. I burned it.

I wrote poetry from 13 to 18 so much that my room looked like a recycling bin... I thought in verse. I even led a poetry group at my community college... and now those things too are lost.

Then I wrote lyrics, more than I can count. They would float to me in dreams, or on warm breezes coming in the window on another long drive, or maybe I would find them in the soapy water of supper dishes while listening to the soothing sounds of my lover (husband) on the piano...


I want so badly to be and say and do what would be good and acceptable, to not misrepresent the Lord who has truly grabbed my undeserving life from that pit of horrific sin and selfishness and utter despair.

It used to be that I wanted to be liked. Liked is nice, sure. But Holy is better. Holy, Wholly, WHOLE. I had more holes in me than swiss cheese, and it took me decades to realize it, but I'm not so interested in 'liked' anymore. 

Also, being accepted was paramount. I always felt rejected and despised on so many fronts. Then one day, well one day all the other days culminated into THIS day, I finally got it. I AM ACCEPTED. Not just by people that are frail and flawed, although I have quite a few of those that really love me, but by the GOD OF THE WHOLE UNIVERSE. 

That pretty much changed the motivation for writing. For doing anything, everything.

I still find myself second guessing my words, my thoughts, the message I'm broadcasting to whoever is listening. But I don't burn stuff anymore. At least there's that....

I think I find myself repeatedly in a state of circumstantial vertigo.... like the consequences of bad choices, mine and others, form into something akin to a tornado. I can see it forming sometimes, and trust me I know what that looks like now, and there's nothing to do but get out of the way, burrow into the soil of Faith, or run into the Arms of the One who is never afraid of the storms, no matter what brought them on.

Often I sit in a fog, a daze, a combination of pain and overwhelming grief. 

Loss is a vacuum... an emotional black hole.
Unfortunately I have a lot of loss in my life, and more is coming.
Loss is as non-negotiable as change. It's just a fact of life.
Jesus knows Loss. He understands grief, and He's always willing to walk me through mine.

I love that.

I said this the other day at my family reunion, and I mean it more now as I'm writing than I did then: There is so much more good than bad in my life.
That's the truth.

It's where I'm at. I'm grieving. I'm walking through fire. I'm in Deep Water. 

And I'm clinging to the sure hope of Isaiah 43:
1But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
    O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
    I have called you by name; you are mine.                            
 2 When you go through deep waters,
    I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
    you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
    you will not be burned up;
    the flames will not consume you.

“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
    I will gather you and your children from east and west.
I will say to the north and south,
    ‘Bring my sons and daughters back to Israel
    from the distant corners of the earth.
Bring all who claim me as their God,
    for I have made them for my glory.
    It was I who created them.’”

He has proven Himself faithful to me, in situations that I thought I would never get through, without Him I indeed wouldn't have. 

I really have nothing to fear, not writing or anything else. In the end everything always comes back to Jesus and His Love.

Jesus KNOWS me, this I love. He has never left me and never will. He holds all those I love in the palm of His hand and has Grace enough for us all.

Maybe I just needed a reminder...


Sunday, December 16, 2012


I wish there were a breathless font. A font that could communicate a whisper. 

I am unable to even process what is going on in my life at this moment. 
This week has left me with an ache in my gut that won't stop. 

I ache for the horror that has happened in my old neighborhood mall...

I ache for the families and children in Newtown....

I ache for my father who is slowly dying, a prisoner in his own body....

and then last night the new ache, a new diagnosis atop the old one, an accelerator revving up the destruction of his brain... his body.... him.

Again. I wish there were a breathless font. It's where I am tonight.

I'm comforted to know Jesus was a man of sorrows.... He understands all of this. All these sucker punches. 

I'm trusting He will help me to sort it out as well. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Love in the Waiting...

Marriage, commitment, devotion, and chronic illness.

I sit this morning in a sanctuary surrounded by the beauty of the season. Glowing golden lights suspended in the air, representations of that Light, that Star that led the way. Trees perfectly placed, boughs laden with white fluff, sending their own light twinkling from deep within.

And yet I see something that shines with a light and warmth so true, so sincere, so beautiful that all else pales in comparison.

There is a man at our church whose wife suffered an aneurysm over a year ago. I did not know this couple before this event, I don't even know this man well now. But I noticed them the first time I sat in this sanctuary 10 months ago. It wasn't because of the wheelchair  or the way she seemed to be asleep throughout the service.


The teaching was on marriage that Sunday. On love. On commitment. I remember seeing this man holding his wife's hand. Not just resting his on hers, but holding onto her hand. Intermittently he would caress her fingers, reposition her arm, covering her hand with his.

It was a poignantly beautiful picture of the words that were being spoken. Devotion and commitment with skin on. Love in the real, painful, day after day waiting.

This morning as I look at the trees in our sanctuary, I visualize that kind of love in an arboreal form. I think of the trees on the rugged coast of Northern California, forced to dig down deep into the ground. To network their root systems and in so doing finding strength that they never would have had alone.

But the thing that strikes me the most this day is their beauty. The constant beating of the wind has forced them to warp and bend. To create a stance and form that never would have happened under circumstances that are mild and calm. People come from all over the world to photograph these trees. To admire their gnarly twisted majesty.

To stand in awe of the ability to adapt and become stronger, even more beautiful in the midst of the beating. And the wind doesn't stop.

I stand in a similar awe today. I see the wind blowing, and it hasn't stopped. Stronger than the wind, more majestic than those awesome trees, I see the love of Jesus in this place. Causing this family to stand. In a strong, adaptive, majestic way. A perfect picture of His devotion, His commitment.

This is Love.

Love in the waiting.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Close Proximity (Copied from my journal) written 12-1-12

This happens a lot. I open the journal and words flood like people through an airport terminal in my brain. I'm not sure what to write.... I know I NEED to, but I'm always so concerned about the message I'm sending, the possibility of hurting someone's feelings, even my handwriting.... And now, my body has decided to finally truly freak out so there is the added concern that my swollen first-finger knuckles won't let me write at all. This seems to be a strong pattern in my life; fear that I'm missing something, doing something wrong, waiting for the 'fly swatter', then ultimately throwing up my hands and giving in to defeat based on the 'knowledge' that I'll never get it right anyway.

Defeated living.

Waking up with a frown in place, muscles tight, ears ringing, stomach ache, pale bloodless hands, in a ditch where joy should be. A ditch that started out as a rut. Then comes a book, a magazine, a devotion, a song... and I hear His voice. I've heard His voice many times in this stumble, crawl, sprint-walk we've been on this last 21 years. He has often had to repeat Himself, one phrase in particular stands out... "Do you trust Me?". The answer has changed several times. Initially it was an emphatic, "Of course I do!". Then a miscarriage, "No, I don't. Why?". Then a decade of abuse and the fire-storm of consequences rained down on me and my children, "Not very well...". Next a divorce, titanic panic attacks, children hurting, acting out of their pain, knee-jerk responses, running from His voice, "I'm too scared to, I can't..... I won't." Then more pain, more consequences, broken hearts, broken dreams, selfish choices, regret, shame, guilt. The deepest part of the rut. I couldn't hear His voice at all.

Then came the wall.

The emotional, physical, spiritual wall. I hit it with the force of a freight train. Months turned into years of strange physical symptoms; mood swings, low blood pressure, inability to swallow, panic, depression, unmaintainable thyroid levels, insomnia, fatigue, hair loss, weight loss, no appetite, muscle spasms, arthritis, TMJ, visual disturbances, and the crowning glory: tinnitus of every variety.
Something inside of me had been sending smoke signals for many years and I had either looked the other direction or closed my eyes altogether. Well, the smoke signal fire had blossomed into a wild fire that threatened to engulf me. Dr. after Dr., specialists, blood work, live imaging. I watched myself wasting away. Unable to swallow anything but the clearest liquids. I lost 17 pounds. 17 pounds that were not extra by any means.

All the momentum of my sin, the consequences of my rash decisions, the stress of legal battles, the abuse, the loss, the heaviness all finally threw it's weight right into my throat.

I remember wondering, as I closed my half-open eyes at night, if I would awake the next morning. Feeling my heart pound out it's slow, hard, beat that rang in my ears... at times it would be at 50 beats per minute. Some of those beats so haltingly that it seemed there were no guarantee of the next one. The sensation I recall most acutely though, is the nearness and the tenderness of the Lord. At the most desperate point in that acute 2 month span I heard Him clearly... First, "You are forgiven. Completely." Then, "I love you. I'm here." And finally, "I will renew and revive you." All the while the sound of this whisper, "Trust me", came filtering in and out like the sound of the waves rolling gently, constantly on the sands of my heart.

I had the opportunity to respond, "Help me to trust you, Lord." Then, "I want to trust You, Lord." Then, "Take my fear and guilt and shame. My hands are so full of their residue that I can't hold onto Yours." Then, "I trust you Lord." Wince... "I trust you Lord." Gritted teeth. "I trust you Lord" But let me help you out with this mess, that child, this man, my life...

Renew and revive He did, only to find me sprinting ahead in short bursts... with the end result always being me snuggled up the wall I hit before. Never with that same intensity, but always ending up in close proximity to it.

Fast forward to now... several months ago strange symptoms began to creep back in, with some new ones to keep things interesting. I smelled 'smoke' but went looking for water in the wrong places. Again, unmaintainable thyroid levels persisted, white hands and face, hair loss, weight loss, foggy thinking, depression, irritability, suicidal thoughts, louder tinnitus, chest pain, muscle spasms near seizure intensity, and no appetite. Doctor visits became weekly, blood work, dosage changes, prayer for answers, dead ends with lab results, MD's stumped, no energy, kids frustrated, husband scared and tired (again), and responsibilities and obligations mounting like fresh snow fall on Mt. Baker. With joints swollen, head ringing, muscles wound tight, I seek His voice. He speaks to me, "Have your magnesium checked." And, "Go to this Naturopath." Then, "Buy this book." And in reading Lucado's GRACE, I heard Him speak loud and clear, "You can rest now." 

Those words hit me like a brick. The tears flowed instantly.

"YOU can rest NOW."

I'm realizing that rest and trust go hand in hand. Trusting the He is in control, that everything that needs to happen will, trusting that He is more than able to watch over and reach my loved ones. Trusting that He is able to carry me and that His promises ARE true. Only when I relax in that trust can I truly rest. Laying down with a head full of worries and a heart full of doubt makes for tossing and turning, there's no rest in that. So, one step at time, in step with Him, learning to breath in His rest, and breath out Faith. Just as our dog Louie the Meatball needs a gentle leader harness to remind him that he doesn't have to be on guard, that he really isn't in charge, to RELAX. My sweet Gentle Leader is doing the same for me. Each pain, swollen joint, with every tone only audible only to me, I hear trust, rest, trust, rest.

" God my Shepherd!
I don't need a thing
You have bedded me down
In lush meadows,
You find me quiet pools
To drink from.
True to Your Word,
You let me catch
My Breath
And send me in the
Right direction."

 From Psalm 23 (MSG)

Adrenal fatigue, anemia, arthritis, hypo-thyroidism.... all His messengers. All the same message, "You must rest now. You will rest now. You CAN rest now."

Thursday, June 7, 2012


My weakness is not a surprise to Jesus.

I know that that sounds ridiculous, nothing is a surprise to Him.
I, however, have felt like a failure, frustrated, and disappointed when faced with my own frailty.

Today the Lord showed me that He actually rejoices when we discover our weaknesses. 
That He intends for us to recognize them and become dissatisfied with our own 







He loves it that when we realize that our own strength only drives us to a dead end, He is there to carry us.
That when we have used the last ounce of our own cleverness and wit, He offers true wisdom.
When ideas are all scattered on the ground and there are no thoughts but hopeless ones, He renews our minds and gives a new perspective.
Time after time our efforts leave us exhausted and frustrated, He says "Rest".
Plans for your marriage, plans for your children, plans for your health, your finances, your home, you.... slip right through your hands and down the drain... He offers guidance and direction, a way back through redemption.
Self. Coming to the end of it is quite a process. More resilient than Morning Glory... more versatile than blackberry bushes in the North West ..... the clear call is to die, to die to self, to lay it all down... to live in Him.

I'm truly starting to see my weakness as a good thing. Like a road sign, pointing me back to the Savior every time. Like a need for nourishment, or a deep thirst, the message is clear....

I need You.

I need You.

I need You.