Love Comes Near (Unforced Rhythms Link-up)

Love word with Christmas decorations

I simply cannot get over the beautiful truth that God chooses to be WITH me. The lengths to which He went — to which He continues to go — to position us forever next to each other. It is the message that has been moving in me most strongly this Advent season.

That the promised One is coming. Indeed, that He HAS come. That Hope and Peace and Joy are fully satisfied in He who is Love. I know of no better version of love than this. God is WITH us.

She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ (Matt 1:23)

WITH is such a powerful, beautiful word.

Not God over us. Not God under us. Not God ahead. Nor behind. Not sleeping. Not tiring. WITH.

With means beside. In communion. Doing life together.

God could have come to Earth in any number of ways. Demanding His rightful place. Making sure He could not be ignored.

But he chose a baby named WITH. 

Because in spite of us being a rag-tag group of messy misfits, He just simply could not imagine NOT being with us. Not 2000 years ago. Not today.

So whether or not you are with the ones you love this Christmas. Whether or not the gifts fit or the tree gets lit. Even if the Bumpus’s dogs eat your turkey.

My fervent wish — my prayer — for you all this Christmas is that the WITH-NESS of God will overwhelm you. And His WITH-NESS will stay with you all through the year.

(Reposted and updated from December 25, 2013)

*******

The wonderful Kelli Woodford (Chronicles of Grace) is taking a well-deserved blogging break in December, but she has graciously let me borrow the Unforced Rhythm link-up community for the next few weeks. Your words are welcome here. So very welcome.

If you stopped by here for the link-up, would you consider to connecting with me as well. On the right of this page you’ll find lots of ways to keep in touch. Just pick your favorite method of communication, and I’ll see you again soon!


Joy that Creeps (Unforced Rhythms Link-up)

 

Christmas Joy BannerThe heat rises slowly. But the frost does not give way.

It can be stubborn like that.

Cold and unfeeling.

Eventually its crystals will succumb. The persistence of warmth provides no other option.

And the progress is small at first. The tiniest of clearings at the far south of the windshield.

My vision is still highly impaired.

I watch as one warm spot edges out the coldness. Then another and another. Until one quick motion erases the ice and clears my view.

Sometimes joy creeps like that, too.

It started for me in the thumbs.

I don’t know, really, how long my fingers rode in stillness. Months, I am sure. Maybe even years. Until the day I found myself tapping rhythmically to the radio.

And I did not make it stop. I let it creep.

Steering wheel drum solos. Head-bopping. Full-fledged car karaoke.

On some days the frost returns. That doesn’t surprise me anymore.

A permanent smile is worn only by the foolish. Or the liar.

So I do not curse the coldness.

For I know where to find the warmth.

Because an ice-covered windshield clears faster when you turn it towards the sun.

And my heart, in search of joy, is no different.

Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty
    and will lift up your face to God. (Job 22:26)

*******

The wonderful Kelli Woodford (Chronicles of Grace) is taking a well-deserved blogging break in December, but she has graciously let me borrow the Unforced Rhythm link-up community for the next few weeks. Your words are welcome here. So very welcome.

If you stopped by here for the link-up, would you consider to connecting with me as well. On the right of this page you’ll find lots of ways to keep in touch. Just pick your favorite method of communication, and I’ll see you again soon!


Why a Manger? (the part of the Christmas story I missed for 40 years)

Sugar-free for 63 days, and I have reached the bargaining stage of my grieving its loss. Creeping as close as I can to its boundary. Nibbling the edges of sobriety by wondering if allowing myself the crumbs of something sweet would send me back to Day 1.

Wanting my cake. And eating it, too.

Looking to for the literal “sweet spot” where I can enjoy both satisfaction and sobriety.

Which really isn’t the point at all.

I have long known that true freedom from food addiction — a complete recovery — would have to be radically different from any diet or food plan or eating habits or exercise program I have used before.

Because while some of them were helpful, even momentarily healing, none were a cure.

Had they been, I would not be here now.

Which my mind understood to mean that returning to my previous medications for my food wounds would not be enough. For a final clearing of the dis-ease between me and food, a complete heart transplant would be necessary.

I have spent the last 63 days using various spirit-filled resources to aid in this transaction. The trading of pounds for peace. Choosing to overflow my soul instead of my stomach. Moving from death to life.

I am slowly learning to distinguish between physical hunger and soul hunger and feed each appropriately. Food as fuel for an empty stomach. Jesus himself as sustenance for a growling spirit of stress, loneliness, boredom, or feeling out of control.

I am eating my Daily Bread of His Word and lapping up the Living Water.

I am tasting and seeing that HE is good.

And still the struggle to surrender my whole body and its feeding habits is very, very real.

****************************

For more than 40 Christmases, I have heard its story.

A very pregnant Mary. A donkey ride to Bethlehem. A star-filled night. An over-booked hotel. A birth in a barn. A bed of straw.

Animals and Angels. Shepherds and a Star.

But I have always missed this part.

“You know that at Jesus’ birth He was immediately placed into a manger, right? But do you know what a manger is? It’s where the food is placed for animals — Jesus Christ was placed into a feeding trough! His birth makes a statement that He came to be fed upon.” (Feasting at the Lord’s Table, Mike Cleveland)

From His first minutes of life as a human, Jesus made a way for us to be filled. Sustained. Satisfied. In every way.

He would later testify that He came to bring us life. Abundant life.

Not life full of tiptoeing around a buffet or beating our bodies into submission. But a life satisfied first and FULLY in Him.

I admit I am still learning this process — discovering what feasting on the Lord and His Word and His Spirit means as it pertains to when to lift my fork and when to lay it down.

But I can tell you this. My hunger is building. It has never rumbled in me more than it does today.

Not for food. Not even for sugar.

But for a moment with the King. The one in the manger.

__________________________

TWWbutton200x200_zps62610d74Linking with Kristin Hill Taylor and #threewordwednesday (Click the logo to the left for insights from more wonderful writers and friends.)

For When a Flicker Lights a Way for Hope to Come (Word of the Week)

isaiah 9-2Longing for a word from The Word to guide me through the week, I come before Him expectantly.

He leads me through a labyrinth of anticipation. Of yearning. Of hopefulness. Of waiting.

Of Advent. The Coming of all our hearts long for. Both those things of which we are quite aware. And the fullness of abundantly more that He promises as our inheritance.

We long for a Messiah — our salvation. We long for Emmanuel — God with us.

We long for an experience of His love. A taste of His grace. A promise of His peace.

We long for the days of no more tears and no more pain.

Because the world, so often, is dark and cold. I have heard its stories on the news. I have listened to its echoes in the aching words of those I hold dear. I have read its reports across the blogosphere. I have harbored its weariness in my own soul.

We long. We are restless. We wait.

In the waiting, I am at a loss for words.

And maybe silence is the only proper response. The only appropriate action for the anxious anticipation. The only prayer that makes any sense in the lighting of Advent’s first bit of light in a world full of darkness.

The candle of Hope. advent

Those who walked in the dark     have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land     of darkest shadows.  (Isaiah 9:2)

Just one light in the blackness. Just a flicker of hope. It is enough to push back against despair.

It is enough to awaken our hearts. It is enough for us, the waiters — the Advent people, to declare the coming King.

And by its light, may we find our way to all the corners of darkness, until the Light of the World, shines fully on us all.

If you have 10 more minutes, please watch this message about Hope from Ann Voskamp. It’s powerful, darkness-shattering stuff.

____________________________________________________

I return each Sabbath for a fresh Word of the Week. For the God-breathed pages to come alive in a phrase or two on which to spend a 7-day feast. To meditate upon. To use as a jumping off point for whatever other words God would have me hear during the week. I would love for you to join the Word of the Week (WOW) discussion by adding your selected verse to the comments … or reflections on any scripture reading. 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms — a wonderful community of writers who gather each Monday to share with you HERE.

For When I Tap my Toes & Trust the Driver (Word of the Week)

psalm 20-7In the days before SUVs and seat-belt laws, I spent my days in the back of a station wagon. Exploring the country’s interstates and landmarks in carefully planned summer vacations.

Mile after mile. Four people in a Ford.

Often you could find me ticking off the exits on an atlas. (Even then, I needed to know my place in the world.)

But there were also hours upon hours of car games, singing, caring for dolls, naps, and just laying back watching the sky surround us.

********************

My feet are on the dashboard. Toes tapping to James Taylor. Or The Beatles. Or an 80s pop mix where he quizzes me on band names while we ride.

I had been used to driving myself along these roads. Now I am a wife. And a passenger. I learn to relax and pass the time unconcerned with traffic and other drivers and the gas light.

But it’s not a natural reaction. Letting myself be led. Accepting there is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. Forgiving the passing up of the parking spot I would have selected.

Not being in control.

********************

I awake every morning this week with Tim McGraw on my mind. “No other shotgun rider beside me singing to the radio.”

He wrote it as a love song. I hear it as a daily reminder of my positioning on this planet.

Stay in the shotgun seat, Beth.

No need to grab the wheel. I’ve got this covered.

Bridges. Tunnels. Mountain passes.

Snow. Ice. Rain. Tornado-like winds.

We travel together.

He drives.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7)

____________________________________________________

I return each Sabbath for a fresh Word of the Week. For the God-breathed pages to come alive in a phrase or two on which to spend a 7-day feast. To meditate upon. To use as a jumping off point for whatever other words God would have me hear during the week. I would love for you to join the Word of the Week (WOW) discussion by adding your selected verse to the comments … or reflections on any scripture reading. 

Linking with Unforced Rhythms — a wonderful community of writers who gather each Monday to share with you HERE.

Enjoy this blog? Find Beth in these Places, too.