Monday, May 25, 2015

an unexpected flood

I almost left it as a draft.
Those words I posted yesterday.  
Those desperate, unedited, "we're gonna be late for church!" words did not seem worthy of the situation they spoke about.  And so I almost left them sitting in a file, unpublished.

Sometimes the Spirit of God compels us to do something - not to do something perfectly but to just do something.  And so yesterday I quietly posted those words that seemed grossly inadequate and then I watched as, unbelievably, God took a small offering and used it in a big way.

Throughout the day I received emails and texts all related to that post.  I saw God moving in the hearts of people in a very tangible way.  But it wasn't until I sat down at my computer late last night that I was completely blown away.  What I wrote here yesterday has been viewed by TEN times as many people as most of the posts I publish.  This isn't about numbers and it certainly isn't about my blog.  It's about what all of this represents.

God is so very present here and now.
Right smack dab in the middle of a world where things go terribly wrong he is still making things right.
Sometimes in our greatest despair we find God's people coming together in the the most breathtakingly beautiful ways.  I have seen it happen again and again.  That you would all voluntarily wade out into deep dark waters alongside people who, in many cases, you don't even know is astounding...and it is evidence.

It is evidence that we all feel the need to rely on something and someone greater than ourselves and our circumstances.
It is evidence that God is still working in and through people in mighty ways.
It is evidence that prayer is powerful.
And perhaps, most precious of all, it is evidence that the life of Dobbs Eddings was not lost in vain.

Literally thousands of people around the globe have shifted their gaze from the things of this world to the face of God.  With whatever questions or sorrows or pain they carry they have turned towards Him with their hands full of the weight of this world and something has happened.  It's not so much what we have said to God as it is that
in the act of turning towards him we have given him access into our hearts and into this world, 
and
He. Is. Flooding. It.

That's what it feels like to me.
A flood of light and life.

This hole that has been left by the death of a child and the crushing of his parents' hearts and the fragility of his brother's new life has been FLOODED with the presence of God.  And with the presence of God comes
truth and
love and
grace and
peace
and restoration
and so all of those things are now at work not only in the life of the Eddings family but in countless other lives too.  And that, my friends, is the power of our God.  Each one of you a vessel of his Spirit poured out on a parched world.  It leaves me breathless.

Thousands of people have stood up and bowed down all to say -
Yes, this is excruciating.
Yes, we question 'why?'
Yes, our hearts are breaking.
But if the enemy intended this to bring harm we know that our God will not stand for that.
We believe that not only will God redeem the brokenness in this life but that as we trust and surrender ourselves to Him, He will strengthen and unify us and pour out his blessings on us.
I will step back now because this is not my story to tell.  It belongs to the Eddings family and I know they will steward it well.
In the meantime, will you continue to hold them with your prayers?  They have a long, hard road of healing ahead of them.
Would you plead for the life of baby Reed?  He has undergone such trauma so early in his life.
And will you continue to enter into other people's lives through prayer?
Will grant God access into your heart with a simple turning towards him?

As you do, know that I am praying for you too - every single one of you.  I'm praying that in those moments of
lifting and listening,
weeping and rejoicing,
you will come face to face with the God who holds us, and everything else in this world, together...
and in those moments there will be a togetherness of our spirits and a transformation of our souls that will overcome the darkest of despair.

Flood this place with yourself, God.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus’ sake, which makes Jesus’ life all the more evident in us. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best!
{2 Corinthians 4:8-12}

Sunday, May 24, 2015

when all you can do is pray

This morning I woke to little girls giggling across the hall.

Yesterday was Lucy's birthday and we surprised her by arranging for her best friend from North Carolina to come and spend the night.  She couldn't have been more excited to see her.

It's been big celebration around our house this weekend and I was laying in bed feeling grateful for my little family {plus one} all snuggled in happy and healthy around me.

When I finally got up I grabbed my phone to check the time and noticed an email from a friend.  The subject line indicated a prayer need so I broke my Sunday morning rule of no phone use and opened it.  With every word I read my heart broke open.

A friend and his wife had been in a car accident.  Although they had sustained minor injuries, she had been rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section.  The baby was in critical condition.  And then, worst of all, their 2 year old son had not survived.

I dropped to my knees on my kitchen floor and wept.  I wanted to pray for them but for a moment all I could do was grieve.  How can you wake up one morning with giggling across the hall and then the next - silence?

With my hands open on my lap I offered them all up to God.  I don't know exactly what they need and I can't begin to imagine exactly how they feel but God does, and can.  I always find such comfort in his greatness.  And so I just kept praying for the greatness of Him to overshadow the greatness of their grief.  I pleaded that they would find him in very real and tangible ways deep in the middle of this darkness.  I know he is near to the broken-hearted and so he is there, with them.

I don't know why I'm showing up at the keyboard this morning because really - I have no words.

That family, like my own, loves and believes in Jesus.
That family, like my own, has committed their lives to serving and following Him.
But here's the thing.
Loving and following Jesus doesn't mean that you don't still live difficult days and endure devastating blows.
It doesn't mean that you avoid the excruciating pain that comes with the loss of your child.

What it does mean is that you are held.
As we cry until our eyes burn
and ask 'why?'
and plunge into despair
and wonder if we will ever be happy again,
we are not alone.
We are wrapped up in the arms of a loving God who has promised to never leave us or forsake us.
We are wrapped up in the faint hope that restoration and redemption will come.
We are wrapped up in the peace that comes from knowing that God will bring about what is best for those who love and surrender their lives to him.

And we are wrapped up in the prayers of those who love and believe all of that for us in the moments when we have a hard time believing it for ourselves.

There was a time in my life when I prayed half-heartedly and from a place of ritual more than relationship.
Now I pray like it's my job.  And, really, it is.
I pray like my words are weapons wielded in the middle of battle.  And, really, they are.
I pray like I'm a messy, desperate person.  And, really, I am.

It could have been my child.  I could be my child.  I know it's so hard for any of us to imagine, but ignoring reality doesn't make us immune to it.

In the despair I've faced in the past and the despair I will most certainly face in the future there is one thing I count on...
When the collective prayers of God's people come together a strong, giant web of love is formed to lift our weary, broken, grief-stricken spirits to the One who will hold and heal us.

So if you're feeling helpless in 'just praying' for a friend today, remember this -
it's your job
it's your weapon
it's okay if it's messy and desperate
because every moment spent
and ever word spoken
matters more than you know.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

find a way

You know it's bad when your six year old waits for the thundering words to quiet and then steps out into the hallway and looks you dead on -
     You know mommy, you guys just need to find a way to get along.

Having your own advice handed back to you can be a smack right across your face and the sweetest mercy all at once.

This blog is a place where I share the good and true things God is teaching me in this wild ride of life.  Some days it is a process of beautiful discovery,  but I have to be honest and say - I don't always find my way along flower-lined paths with a gorgeous glow of a sunset behind me.

More often than not I find my way by tripping over a root in a dark forest and falling flat on my face and having someone {i.e. my daughter} come to my rescue with words that bring me back to my senses.  It can be painful moving these old wounded joints that set me upright on my feet again.  Tripping over those roots reminds me of my own unseen sources of life and how necessary they are to the parts of me that are seen - and heard.

I went back to apologize to him.
And even though I was still frustrated - I meant it.
I was sorry the words came out the way they did.
I love my husband so dearly that you wouldn't believe me if I tried to explain it to you, but sometimes my actions don't match my intentions.  If I don't correct that quickly - the repercussions are dangerous.

Have you ever been sorry about something?
Oh goodness.  I've been sorry about so many things I've done, said, neglected, thought...
and when I don't find a way to express my regret - my apology - I leave the wound exposed and prone to deeper damage.

I don't even remember what our argument 'heated discussion' was about now, but I do remember that sweet little face speaking bold words with confidence.
...you guys just need to find a way...

In all my regularly scheduled failures I find -   intentions are nothing without actions to match.


Friendships and families have been broken apart for centuries because people couldn't do the hard work of making their actions override their feelings and support their intention - 
to love
to honor
to respect
to cherish
to stick it out together.

Where do you need to find a way today?  
Maybe you need a way back to your spouse, your child, your parent, your friend, your co-worker, your neighbor...
There's a way to say you're sorry.
There's a way to reconnect.
There's a way to reconcile.
There's a way to understand.
There's a way to make your intentions match your actions even when the feelings don't line up.

There's always a way to love because love is the way.  

It's how we do what we do.  It's why we do what we do.  
It's not based on momentary emotion.  It's based on lifetime commitment.  
It's not easy and comfortable.  It's hard and risky.  
It's the intention and the action combining for maximum impact.  
It's why it's the strongest force in the world.  
There's always a way...go find it.  

Wherever your love has 
dwindled, 
weakened, 
hardened, 
been lost altogether - do the hard work, the heart work, of getting back to it.  
I would rather slow down and take the time to press my roots into a deeper source than keep running so recklessly I'm tripping and falling over everyone else's again and again.  In the long run you can imagine which one brings more pain.


And there are a million ways to do it.
So let's go find them.
Let's go find our way back to freedom and love today.

Friday, May 15, 2015

the hard questions i'm asking

Let's talk about the worst thing you ever did.
What?  That doesn't sound fun?
Before you hate me, let's just go there for a moment.

What is the thing you are most ashamed of?  

Saturday, May 9, 2015

together

The walls are bare.
Just like the way they laid their hearts out for us.
Bare and beautiful.

The IF team just moved into their new offices but they welcomed us into something that felt more like home than a place of business.  There isn't a single thing hanging on the clean white walls of that old stone house in Austin, but the whole place was painted in love and grace.  Some people and places make you instantly feel like family.

Monday, May 4, 2015

when God gives you something scary

When I was a little girl I heard the story of Mary.
You know Mary.  She's the one who married Joseph.  The one who gave birth to Jesus.

I'm sure it wasn't my first time hearing her story, but it is the first memory I have of it.  The reason I remember is because after I heard the story - I heard from God.
Hold on.
Before you write me off as a complete lunatic give me a chance to explain.

Monday, April 27, 2015

when you just want to be chosen

I first heard Ann Voskamp say it -
     all is grace
and I know it to be true.

This weekend the baby wrens hatched in the corner of our kitchen window like some crazy, extravagant gift wrapped up just for us.  Who gets front row seats to a real life nature show while scrubbing dishes?  Seriously.
We feel chosen.
We are chosen.
Everybody wants to be chosen, right?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

what are you waiting for?

I was perched precariously on the kitchen counter with a dripping paintbrush in hand when they arrived - two friends I hadn't seen since our college days.

When you move into a new house {that is actually really old} there is work to be done.  This is one of the reasons you haven't heard much from me lately.

There has been painting of walls and cleaning of corners and drilling of holes that seem to never end.  And all the while there is still the usual laundry piling high, dishes getting crusty, and kids who demand to be fed.  Sometimes I feel like there is so much work to be done and not enough time to do it all.  Anybody with me?

If I'm not careful my to-do list can grow so big and bossy that it blocks my view of what is really important.  I can set my eyes and my heart on it's glaring demands and suddenly I am left standing behind a wall of tasks that won't let me move forward.
Have you ever felt 'stuck'?
This is how we get there.