Peace for those with Empty Arms (Unforced Rhythms Linkup)

peace-1024x682(pp_w579_h385)Empty arms carry some of the heaviest weight.

Maybe it’s Distance. Divorce. Depression. Deployment. Death.

A relationship unreconciled. A wound unhealed. A longing unfulfilled.

Maybe your hole is left from a dream that never came true. Or the one that ended before you were ready.

Oh, my friend, I have been praying for you.

Again and again this advent season, God has brought you to my mind.

You with the empty arms. The ones that feel especially vacant in this time of joy and celebration and light. I hear your soul’s songs of lament even among the 24-hour broadcasting of reindeer songs and snowman tunes. I see you standing timidly with your single candle of hope while it feels like the rest of the world is fully embracing multi-colored bulbs and twinkle lights.

And I have been holding you closer to heaven, dear one. Asking God to be extra close to your tender heart. Begging Him to show up for you in expected places this Christmas. Praying that you will taste of His love for you in new ways.

And that you will have peace. Oh, how I have been praying for your spirit to have peace.

For your soul to sit in stillness, acknowledging every ounce of your sadness, crying every necessary tear. But knowing, deeply knowing, that you are held.

You and your empty arms are embraced so very tightly in His.

Now. Always.

May you know it. May you feel it.

Now. Always.

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HEY, BETH... Where are the links!?! HEY, FRIENDS... Over HERE!


“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

The wonderful Kelli Woodford (Chronicles of Grace) was inspired by these verses to name a Weekly Web Gathering of grace as “Unforced Rhythms.” She is taking a well-deserved blogging break in December, but she has graciously let me borrow the UR link-up community for the next few weeks. Your words are welcome here. So very welcome.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list… 

(due to technology issues, Linky is not allowing the actual links to show up on my post page… I hope to have this resolved by next week, but please COME OVER HERE to add your link and/or read precious words from my Grace-Filled friends)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

All My Fountains (Three Word Wednesday)

rose-garden-fountainI have tasted a perfectly seasoned steak. And the most decadent of chocolate desserts. I have drunk from a frigid mountain stream. And a freshly-squeezed lemonade at the fair.

I have tasted the rewards of hard labor. And the energy of a ballgame crowd. I have drunk in accolades. And promotions.

I have tasted sunsets. And cloudless starry nights. I have drunk of tender kisses. And music that brings me to tears.

Still I get hungry.
My thirst, it is not quenched.

The world’s fountains, they have failed me.

The wells of food. Of fun. Of success.
Even the cisterns of relationship. Of nature. Of art.

None are Bread of Life. Not one, Living Water.

As they make music they will say, “All my fountains are in you.” Psalm 87:7

The difference is depth.

Drinking of fountains other than Christ are shallow, and satisfaction can only be short-lived. Puddles. Fun to splash in, but lousy for the cleaning of a soul.

Drinking of the fountain of grace is deep. And pure. And fully thirst-quenching. Life-giving. Life-sustaining.

May it be true of me, Lord. That all my fountains are in You.

Chris Tomlin – All My Fountains

This dry and desert land
I tell myself, “Keep walking on”
Hear something up ahead
Water falling like a song
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let it flow

A flood for my soul
A well that never will run dry
I’ve rambled on my own
Never believing I would find
An everlasting stream
Your river carries me home
Let it flow, let it flow

Open the heavens
Come Living Water
All my fountains are in You
You’re strong like a river
Your love is running through
All my fountains are in You

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

a person I used to be

stone-angelThe tattered remains of tissues rest in my lap. Another clenched in my fist.

My young world has turned on its axis. For the first time really. The tough realities of death. And loss. And unfairness. And vulnerability.

My grandpa’s passing. Two dear families leaving my hometown. Being called a cheater by a teacher. The Junior High locker room.

I am 13. And nothing feels the same anymore.

If this is what lies ahead on the path of “growing up,” I want none of it.

Maybe that’s why on many days, in many ways, I still feel like that girl.

The calendar pages turned. My braces and glasses came off. My hair has been cut and grown again and cut and grown. I’ve lived in four additional states since then. My name has changed.

But have I?

For the remainder of this post, click over HERE to where I am guest hosting at Kelli’s Chronicles of Grace and kicking off the linking party with Unforced Rhythm friends.

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