forty-one candles (#smallwonder)

2015-03-28 17.59.18I thought by now… is a dangerous game to play
Especially on a birthday morn

It beckons
I do not bite
For all the well wishes and awaiting adventures
I do not have time for such silliness

Instead I watch the bay
Its ripples ever towards me
Wave on wave of more and new and washing and renewal and memories
Promises kept
More to come

The tide –both creeping in and waning out– pushes waves of favor my way

So I find I cannot think of things not yet done
As I sit with the hallelujah of what’s been done in me

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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.

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)

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.

My Most Important Interview Ever (Word of the Week)

psalm 139_23-24 neutralI have never really understood the phrase, “Know it like the back of your hand.”

Because I have no idea what mine really look like.

I know there is a mole near the center of one. The left, I think. I take a peek. Nope. It’s the right.

Because the left is where I have a small scar from a vacuum cleaner (don’t ask.)

Turns out that’s the right hand, too.

Which means I don’t really know myself well at all. I, like others who know things “like the back of their hands,” may be kidding ourselves about what we actually know at all.

We build facades to impress or to hide or assimilate to a group. We often don’t know we’re doing it. And of all the people we wear masks for, perhaps we fool ourselves the most.

Early in any relationship, we ask a lot of questions of the other party.

Where did you grow up? What was it like? What were your dreams? What are your goals? What was your relationship with your parents like? Do you like your job? What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What’s your favorite food/color/ice cream/movie/….

We instinctively know it’s the best way to get to know someone. Questions. Listening. Time.

And we neglect all these things for ourselves.

We don’t ask ourselves who we are or what we want. We certainly don’t take time to listen to much of anything our inner self is trying to say. We fear time alone not knowing what we may discover.

And we learned a long time ago not to ask questions we don’t want to know the answers to.

So we walk through our lives not as our real selves, but as those we think we are. Which keeps everyone at arm’s length. Even our truest self — the one just bursting to make herself known.

I am challenged as I move forward in my recovery to take a full and fearless inventory of myself. My memories. My motives. My strengths. My stumbles.

As a trained reporter, I’ve asked many people many kinds of questions — even the kind you don’t really want to have to ask. I am a professional asker. It’s the answering part I have less experience with.

But here I am, poised for the most important interview of my life. The one with myself.

I don’t believe in reincarnation, but I have had multiple births in this lifetime. And I’m in the throws of contractions for yet another — the Beth who is free from thinking that filling herself with food will satisfy her soul.

The earlier versions of myself were bringing me to her, but the imprisoned me is not who I really am. Certainly not who I was designed to be. They have a lot of baggage to leave at this stop for a forward path of freedom.

I do not say this in a self-deprecating way. Not as a way to dig up dirt on myself or point fingers or scold any earlier Beths.

But I speak as an excavator now aware that ALL the root must be removed before a new tree can thrive in its place. As a surgeon who can leave NO infected piece behind lest the wound never fully be healed.

Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)

The Message version says it like this:

Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

This excavating — this surgery — it may be messy work. Discoveries I would prefer to leave hidden. There may, too, be beautiful finds in the deep places.

There’s only one way to find out. Let the interview begin.

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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.

 

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