For when the words write themselves. On me.

NE Cross“I go to prepare a place,” He said.

Sometimes that place is within driving distance.

A quiet retreat center near Omaha, in this case. The drive a three-day journey.

Each mile a wearing down of the callouses that had grown around me. Each passing exit an invitation to lay down another layer. The ones that had been added to my spirit so slowly and subtlety, I had no sense of how many it would take before the numbness wore off. Nor how exposed the long-neglected feels would become.

“Come away with me,” He whispered, “and let me show you the story of your life.”

The words wrapping around me in hugs. In song. In conversation. In scripture. In nature. In laughter. In tears. In silence.

Abundance. Peace. Blessing. Faithfulness. Grace.

A feast of words I was unaware of my hunger for.

Until I came open. Exposed. Turned inside out.

I went to a writer’s conference and didn’t write a thing.

For I was the canvas, not the pen.

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Linking this reflection of Small Wonder with my friend and fellow blogger, Kelly Chripczuk, who hosts a Community of blogging Beauty Hunters at her site. Because our Big God shows himself in the most amazing small ways.#smallwonder

Under the Tutelage of The King

psalm 25-4Before I could walk, my heart had already been imprinted with the words, “Jesus loves me.” Faithful nursery workers rocked and sang on Sundays the truths I heard at home all week.

I have always known I am a daughter of The King.

And like any princess of position, I enjoyed mostly comfortable days unfettered by the worries of the kingdom — and largely ignorant of the happenings outside its safety.

I flitted about carefree in the courtyard without fear of intruders. Or snakes. Or storms. I was blissfully confident in my Daddy’s ability to keep all things well.

And while this may be the proper place for a child, an heir must eventually invest herself in kingdom itself.

To step in the footsteps of His forgiveness in order to learn His gait.

To listen carefully to His words in order to speak in His dialect.

To receive His grace abundantly in order to cast its residue on others like He does.

It’s time to learn the family business.

Lord, tell me your ways.
    Show me how to live.
Guide me in your truth,
    and teach me, my God, my Savior. (Psalm 25:4-5)

I come close and study His moves. His words. His patterns. His rhythms.

I apprentice under the tutelage of The King. I Dwell.

Linking up with Kelli and the other lovelies at Unforced Rhythms.

Grace is an Island (Unforced Rhythms Link-up)

digital art by nienor
island in a storm by nienor

I am pulled by the tides. Battered by the waves. Tossed about by circumstance. Worn down by the struggle.

Like Paul I cry out, “I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.” (Romans 7:19-20, The Message)

I forget all that I have learned about floating. And I surrender to the flailing. The attempted saving of myself from what feels like drowning in a sea of stress. Never considering to check if my feet could touch the bottom of what might simply turn out to be only a momentary pool of pressure.

Gasping for breath. Thrashing my body from side to side. Reaching for an anchor. Settling instead for sugar.

And what I already knew about myself and my drug of choice was proven true again. It only takes a little to make me want a lot.

I allowed it for a day or two. It’s Christmas, I reasoned. Nothing more than I can handle, I pretended.

Knowing with each and every bite that I had awakened my addict persona. And that she would not go down easily.

So I braced for the storm. For the onslaught of shame and guilt. To be knocked back and forth against the stones of “shouldn’t have” and “how could you” and “you’ll never change.”

I set my jaw, tensed my muscles, and lowered my head for the coming punch.

But the punch did not come. The winds did not howl. The sea did not swallow me.

Because Grace came instead.

And where I expected to be pushed face-first into the sand, Grace lifted me.

Where my lungs had filled with salt-water, Grace replaced it with the Breath of Life.

Where Shame wanted to scream obscenities at my mistakes, Grace simply said, “Let’s start again.”

With a gentle hand, Grace set me on an island. A solid rock in the middle of the sea.

Here the tides only ebb and flow at the shore. The waves do not overtake me.

Here the breezes sing this song.

Grace. Grace. God’s Grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace. Grace. God’s Grace. Grace that is greater than all my sin.

p.s. I did not intentionally plan for my last post of 2014 to be focused on my Word of the Year: Grace. But it’s a fitting finale, indeed. I have found nothing anything close to comparable to selecting One Word each year to keep me focused. Partner it with a scripture, and the power multiplies. I’ll be announcing my 2015 Word soon, but I am spending these days praying that YOU would meet with The Spirit to come to agreement on One Word for the new year. And that you would have the courage to embrace it, then allow Him to unfold it in you over the coming days.

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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)

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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!


Youer Than You

youer than youGrowing up is hard.

Even when you’re almost 41.

Even when it’s not the first time you’ve had your feelings hurt or your pride bruised or your confidence shaken.

Even when every rational bone in your body knows the stinky breath of the enemy is the one whispering about your lack of worthiness. Even when you know he’s a lying snake.

Even when you know Jesus and talk to Him often and have seen Him faithful over and over and over again. Even when you know His love is wide and deep and high and long.

Even then there are moments of shock of how much this life can be unsettling. Like the first moment as a child you realize not everyone will like you. Because, up to that point, you never considered that not everyone spoke nicely and could be your friend.

And you start to think it has something to do with you and hardly anything to do with the fact that people who walk around broken can’t help but cut each other with their rough edges.

Maybe all there is to do in that moment is stop. And listen to some wisdom from the great Dr. Seuss.

Today you are you; that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.

I’ll Just Be Beth. You Just Be You, friend.

Because no matter what else happens today, you are still the best and youest you that I know.

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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.)

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