Monday, June 28, 2010

O Resplendent Light

I am bloody. Clothes torn from my shoulders, grime smeared across my face, blisters on my feet, cracked knuckles, weary back. My heart is still racing in my chest and I can feel my own pulse under my jaw. I close my eyes, only for a second, breathing deeply.

I am empty. Everything I had, every ounce of strength, every gift... I have used it all. Empty handed, broken, and weary.

I am not the only one.

I look around me and realize I am surrounded by hundreds of thousands more. Fog rises from the ground around our feet, the sky above our heads has been torn apart - the veil between Heaven and Earth has been rent in two.

All I hear is breathing.

I search the faces of those around me, but my heart does not mourn their brokenness. No. Even through the haziness of my own sweat and blood I can see: on each of their foreheads is a seal. An imprint.

And while I would have once mourned such devastation... while I once would have sunk deep into my own emptiness... I know I too bear the seal. Even in my weariness, something within me rises.

One last time, the earth groans beneath our feet. A cry - a birthing pain.

It is over.

Deep, black clouds churn on the horizon. Pushed back. Pushed down by Heaven itself.

Reaching up, I try to wipe away the sweat and grime dripping into my eyes. But before my hand even reaches my brow, I feel my face being cupped by hands, callus and rough.

With His thumb, He wipes away the dirt.

I look up into the eyes of the One for whom I'd been fighting all along.

Into the gaze of the One who'd been fighting for me all along.

And as the blood red moon pours out into the dense clouds, I realize He is bleeding too.

Sweat and grime and blood drip from His forehead, and in the moment when the light in His eyes meets the weariness in mine, I reach up with rough and callused hands and wipe His brow.

"Well done, my love," He whispers.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

My Prayer

Use me.

We've been through this before. As I sit here, watching opportunities all around me, I wonder why they don't belong to me.

And I realize it is because I haven't fully exhausted the opportunities You have given me.

I recognize these moments, as well, as the moments of calm right before the chaos.

Chaos that drives me, propels me, into Your will. Into an adventurous existence with You and the world You created.

For some reason, I expect You to work in my life in the same way You are working in others. I expect You to use me in the same ways. Call me to the same work. Respond to me with the same answer.

And I end up pouting. Wishing You'd do something exciting with my life. In my complaining, I fail to see what it is You are actually doing.

I know You have deemed me worthy of use. That on the days I am empty of myself, I am a container You can use. I hear Your words and I see Your hand working and I know, deep inside, that You are using me.

Open my eyes to see what You've already laid before me.

Teach me not to compare myself to others. To wallow in self pity and discontentment because I work in a cubicle all day long. Because I'm currently walking in a life of financial obligation and restraint.

Keep my passion burning. Use it to propel me forward into the plans You have for my life.

I want a life of adventure. Teach me not to be complacent. To be passive and wait. Teach me to be proactive. And to take initiative. Give me courage.

Take the restlessness in my heart and DO something with it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Into the Wild

At some point, our worlds have to grow.


They should.

I'm thinking back, nine years ago now, when my world expanded for the first time. Pointed west, the RV drove straight through Indiana and Missouri and Illinois and up through Minnesota and across South Dakota and into the wild.

I thought I had seen mountains before. But while the Appalachian mountains are full of culture and emotion... the first time I saw the mountains of Wyoming and Montana and Colorado... my heart stopped.

And I was only thirteen.

At some point, you are given a decision to make. You are provided an opportunity to push back the walls of your world... to extend your grasp farther than you have ever reached before.

So often, we fail to seize these moments.

But in a few days, the best in my life will push back their horizons to encompass something wild. Something foreign.

They will suddenly understand what I mean when I talk about the big sky.

Or feeling small.

And breathing clean.

What it means to stand still and be overcome with dizziness.

To feel as though you've trespassed... as if we've tried to urbanize, and never quite succeeded.

The first time a bison crosses the road or their voices echo over the Badlands or the sun sets in Kansas; the first time they see Denver's sky scrapers in the shadow of the Rockies, or play in the snow in their flip flops...


As hard as you can.

Push against the edges of the world as you know it.

Physical, emotional, spiritual.

Test the boundaries and cross them, pioneering new territory.

Where you will find yourself.

Where your soul will meet your body.

They will watch fireworks in a new city next weekend.

And get to watch as two of their grandparents look at this created world through redeemed eyes.

I pray for quiet moments. And for thrilling ones. I pray for patience and flexibility. I pray for hot water in the showers of the campgrounds.

I want one of them to sit in the front seat of that RV and feel the sensation of flying above the road. Or fall asleep in the Walmart parking lot, to be waken up by loud pick up trucks and the hum of traffic.

They will expand their worlds and then turn around and come home.

And home will mean so much more, because they travelled so long to get back there.

I pray for revelations.

In three weeks, two young women's lives can change forever.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


We made eye contact from across the street and before I knew it, his little legs were propelling him across the blacktop.

I know children well enough to know what was coming next. So I planted my feet and opened my arms.

Still a few feet away, he launched himself in the air and landed right in my embrace.

Without a moments hesitation he encircled me with his tiny arms and laid his head on my shoulder.

"What is your name" I whispered in his ear. He pulled his head back and looked me square in the eye.

Something that sounded like "Jeremiah" came out of his little mouth.

He held up four fingers, struggling to hold his thumb against the palm of his hand. "I'm four," he stuttered proudly.

Even as tiny as he was, my heart and arms were full to bursting. He laid his head back down on my shoulder and I had a brief thought - just for a moment entertained the idea of not going anywhere. Just standing there with Jeremiah in my arms.

I don't love easily. And I don't trust easily.

But I loved that child.

And if I love that child... who is not mine... how much more does our Father love us?

Enough that when we run after Him, He stands firm, opens His arms wide, swings us high, and gives us a place to rest on His shoulder.

Later, when my mind returned to Jeremiah, I heard the Father whisper:

"I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Call on Me, I am listening to you. Seek Me with all your heart and you will find Me."

I am running headlong in to His arms.

Because I love Him. And I trust Him.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


He circled around me a few times before taking a seat on the park bench. Fairly nondescript, he didn't draw much attention to himself at first. But as I talked, as I listened, I kept catching him in my peripheral vision.

The bottle, wrapped up in a brown paper bag, sat on the bench next to him. He leaned forward and the silver cross dangling from his neck glinted in the street lights. Occasionally he would look up and connect with my eyes. But his were dark under the flat brim of his hat and I couldn't tell what he was thinking.

Doubt is subtle. He circles around you a few times, judging your weakest points. Doubt is patient and will lurk on the peripheral as long as it takes without calling too much attention, for fear we might recognize him for what he is.

But the Spirit knows Doubt. The Spirit within senses Doubt's approach, and if you have given the Spirit reign over yourself, the Spirit will defend your weak spots.

If Fear is the enemy's greatest tool, Doubt is not far behind. In this life, so little is tangible. So much of what we depend on is Faith - internal and invisible. We cannot see. We can only Hope. We can Trust. And there are ways we can guard our hearts. There is armor to protect us from the fiery arrows the enemy tries to destroy us with. We just have to remember to put them on. Run to the shadow of the Father's wings.

The last time I looked up, he was taking a swig from the bottle. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees. And silently, I began to fight my battle. Not the first time I've waged war against him, certainly. "I see you", my heart whispered. "I recognize you, I know who you are. Come out of the shadows. You have no place here."

He put the cap back on the bottle, stood up, and walked away as quietly as he'd come.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

He smells like patchouli and wears sandals. He doesn't really ever say much and rubs his lip with his forefinger when he's thinking. He is the one who taught me how to parallel park in an old muscle car with no side mirror, in between two green trash cans.

He is who baptized me and who stood for an entire hour in the living room with my first serious boyfriend. He is who showed up in the parking lot to apologize.

The one who told me secrets. Who asked me the hard questions over Italian food on my 19th birthday. He is methodical and secretive and far more emotionally driven than he'd ever let on.

He doesn't know it, but he taught me to love people. He won't admit it, but it is because of him I have a deep heart for the inner city.

I have his social anxiety and his screwed up digestive system. I have his nose and thick hair.

He is the one who sat with me in the hospital the day the doctors told me my life was about to change. And he was the one who stayed up late in the hospital room, a month later after the surgery, watching West Wing while he thought I was sleeping.

He's the one who used to sleep walk ... the one who would come and eat a whole meal in the kitchen at two in the morning without ever waking up. He's the one who took me to get my first tattoo. The one who acted like he never understood when I broke up with a boyfriend - but would later connect all the dots and give me a high five.

He was the first one on the scene of my car accident.

He's the one who detaches. Who told me to have fun and take lots of pictures in Africa and who unloaded my bed in my first house and left almost immediately.

He's the one who took me to Magees for the first time. He's the one whose attention I have sought for years and years. He's the one who makes friends with my friends. Who would listen to Prairie Home Companion on the radio in the mini van.

He drove me to work for a month when I didn't have a car. He gave me my first camera.

He's the one who has never given me answers. Who quickly loses patience with my emotional baggage.

He's the one whose words pierce the deepest. Whose opinion I grew up respecting the most. He wheezes when he laughs.

He's the one whose music rocked me to sleep for most of my childhood. He's the reason why I want to find a man who can play the piano.

He's the reason I know behavior can be understood in context. He's the one who told me I was miserable. Who bought a car and drove us around, blasting Mutemath through the new speakers.

He's the one who was sitting next to me when I realized why God had kept me in Lexington.

He's the one who took me to the gym and helped change my body... change my life. He's the only one I can run with.

He's the one who has called me with a broken heart. Who called me just minutes after he proposed. He's the one with four daughters. And then three more.

He's the one who grills in the snow and takes baseball bats into doctors' offices. He's the one who taught me to drive a 5 speed and kayak on the ocean.

He's the one who took me on that walk in the rain seven years ago.

I'm not sure I've seen him hold a baby in fifteen years. Or that I've spent more than an hour at a time with him in the past year. He's the one with a totally different life than mine. Who is sometimes hard to get a hold of... whose attention is hard to keep. Whose letters I keep folded up in my Bible.

He's the one who will walk me down the aisle one day.

He's the one who my children will call Poppy.

Today is his day.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Something Beautiful

He was building a sandcastle just beyond the water line. Swimming trunks weighed down by sand and salt water. His dark skin shone in the sunlight, and he laughed playfully as his older brother stomped on the bucket to release the sandy turret.

Occasionally he would run to the water's edge and stick his toes in. The tide would wash over his ankles, just enough to cool him off, and he would run back to his sandcastle. Back and forth he would run, never daring to go deeper. The loud, green waters scared him every time they pulled at his feet... something beckoned him. But fear kept him preoccupied on the shore.

And then I saw him coming. He had been watching for a while under the shade of the umbrella, and he finally came to join the young boy at the water's edge. He reached out his bigger hand and the little boy slipped his smaller one in, squeezing tightly. Together they walked into the ocean, taking a step farther than the little boy had ever been on his own.

The waves were up to his waist now and I watched him pull on his father's forearm, drawing him closer, seeking protection.

Suddenly the little boy let go and ran back to the shore. He stood, shaking his head, covered in sand and dripping wet. His father turned around and came to stand beside him, hand on his shoulder.

It only took a moment before, hand in hand again, they returned to the water's edge. And in one swift motion the father lifted his son up into his arms. He walked slowly into the water, going deeper than they'd ever gone before. The waves swirled around his waist, washing his son's knees.

And watched as waves crashed over their heads and the son came up sputtering, clinging to his father's neck, laughing and laughing...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where I Belong

I see You.
Here, I see You.
In their faces. In the way they touch mine.
They call my name and run to me.

I see You.
Here, I see You.
They know You differently than I do.
And You remind me I am not here to teach them.

I see You.
I've always said I'm looking for a place where my soul meets my body.
And I threaten, if ever I found a place where You stood, I might stand and never move.
I have found both.

I hear You calling to me.
The same thing I've been calling to You for so long.
Come close! Come quickly!
All this time, You've been drawing near, and I've stayed clean and dry.

The wind whips through the streets.
City blocks are touched by Your unseen hand.
As the sun rises and sets, Your glory and love bathe the suburbs and the ghetto alike.
Both needing to be set free.

You are hungry.
You are poor.
Your pockets are empty and threadbare.
But mostly... You are lonely.

You haven't had a conversation in days.
You haven't had someone pick You up and hold you.
You haven't been told You're loved.
You haven't been told You are beautiful.

But I see You.
I recognize You here. Now.
In their faces I see Yours.
And when I reach out for them, it is You I find.

I've been searching for home.
A place where I belong.
Where i am fully known.
Where who I am and who I want to be, suddenly, are one and the same.

I've found this place once before.
In a culture on the other side of the world.
I met You in between beats of a drum.
In the voices of children, dark and lovely.

I have found it again.
In my backyard.
in the chaos and controversy and conflict.
I do not see what the world sees.

I see You.