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

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.)

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)

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