A Thank You from the Child in Me

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Thank you for the food we eat,

the quality, the variety, the abundance.

Thank you for the world so sweet,

the color and form of all creatures, for flowers and trees.

Thank you for the birds that sing,

and call and whirr and peck, making me smile.

Thank you God for everything,

  for every good and perfect gift. 

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My Voice Outstretched

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For me, singing is like following a rainbow through black rain.
It is like crepuscular rays that rupture leaden skies.

Singing is like walking in an unmarked place, lost, not sure of prayer or path and
seeing far off the pinpoint light that means home.

It is faithfilled praise, knowing that in this one moment with this one voice,
I am sure of one thing.

It is a hopefilled reach, feeling that in these simple words with this simple tune,
I am grounded in at least one true thing.

Singing is declaring Your worth when I am unsure of myself.

Singing is my voice outstretched, knowing if my hands were raised,
I would not sing but cry.

For me, singing is a peace of the puzzle of life—respite, restoration, renewal;
and so when other parts of my life seem weak and wondering, lacking conviction,
I will sing.

When disoriented,
disheartened, and
feeling distant,
I will sing.
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Psalm 104:33
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise my God to my last breath!

Psalm 5:11
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.

 

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: These Frail Threads

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I don’t want to be naïve again, speech peppered with Praise the Lord’s and God Bless You’s, and other Christian slang, as if by filling in the blanks I could sanctify the moment.

I meant well.

There are elements I wish I could reclaim—the idea that God would intervene if I could muster enough faith, the idea that God would love me more if I kept more of His rules.

Always.
Simple. Kind of.

I would love to get back to the uncomplicated worship where I knew God was big, powerful, and good, and that somehow my weak words meant something in His kingdom economy, that his gifts freely given actually changed things—changed lives.

Even mine.

But things don’t always turn out as expected. The right key doesn’t always fit in the lock; and though I still believe, my belief is tangled and mangled with shaky hopes and sanctified suspicion.

The strength of will is not always armor enough when facing a cosmic battle. And inspiration and revelation once cavalierly received have slowed to a trickle in the murkiness of time, trouble,

and desperation.

Cataracts of soul have dulled even further the glass darkly explanations, and my longing for more drives me to my knees.

Can I have the wonder back? Can I feel again past the numbness of mind and heart? Oh, Lamb, Oh Lover, Oh Rescuer, save me. Let me feel again what it means to be connected to eternity with these frail threads of confidence and leave the doubt of this dirty life behind.
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Psalm 86:1-7
Bend down, O LORD, and hear my prayer;
answer me, for I need your help.
2 Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God.
3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
for I am calling on you constantly.
4 Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you.
5 O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive,
so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.
6 Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD;
hear my urgent cry.
7 I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble,
and you will answer me.

Surrender

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Surrender feels like failure.
It feels depressing, like giving up.
There is a darkness to it, a weight to it—the unwilling outmanned, outmaneuvered, surrounded, and pressed to defeat.
Surrender feels like exhaustion.
It feels compressing, like yielding up the last breathless bits of me.
And yet You call me to this laying down of arms jazz
in exchange for Your loving arms.
And I find that surrender to You is not as much giving up as over—not as much failing as falling into a tender pull,
deference to one more wise and able, after all my best ideas have faltered and failed,
after all my excuses have dried in my mouth,
after all my tears have washed away nothing.
It is the unclenching of a fist, the unmasking of a façade.
It is the baring of a war-torn will, the stripping of all that chokes and hinders.
And I find that surrender to You is not as much like crying “uncle,”
but more like a hallelujah.

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John 15:4-7 (ESV)
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
James 4:10
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Whispers

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Whispers thread through the flaming rage,

almost lost, almost imperceptible, drowned out by opinion, history, frenzied fury, and flailing fists.

The whispers tip toe in my tossing mind, seeking a place to land and be heard.

They are the filaments of hope, the clinging truths that cannot be destroyed by rhetoric or abuse or repeated dogma.

They are woof and warp, the solid underpinning of this spinning, unsettled mess.

Are you listening? Am I listening?

We are all the same—blood and bone.

We are all broken—body and soul.

We are all human—color and kind.

God loves. And

He whispers in the tumult

to see as He does and love as He loves.

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Romans 13:10 (NLT)

Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.

1 John 4:7-8 (NLT)

Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Proverbs 10:12 (NLT)

Hatred stirs up quarrels,
but love makes up for all offenses.

 

There is a trust . . .

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There is in trust a writing between the lines.
I trust you, but that trust expects an outcome acceptable to me. My blank slate of surrender has a lot of smudges around the edges—things like “Don’t make it hurt,” “Let all end well,” “Let love be stronger than hate.”
There is in trust a whining between the lines
that holds hands unclenched, but my heart is hidden behind my back with fingers crossed.
Is there a kind of trust without the small print—Yours and mine. A trust that knows I and my loved ones and my cares are in the arms of Someone not only able but willing to do what is good—
no matter what that looks like.
There is a trust, and I am learning and yearning for it.

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: Willing To Be Defeated

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I used to be cocksure,
willing to trample fragile souls for the sake of being right. And
it hurts to think I was so unlike Your sacrificial kindness, so unlike Your bleeding, selfless truth.
May I be willing to be defeated to win one. May I grow accustomed to embarrassment to at least appear humble as the pride prickles are chiseled away—one by one, by weary one.
My kingdom looks ever dim in the bright hues of Your shining presence—and may all see You
in spite of me.
If I would feed on Your words more than I feed on my need, I would be so much more nourished
with life to give.

My Book of Uncommon Prayers: There is a line . . .

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There is a line in the sand, and I dare not cross—
but funny thing about sand and funny thing about lines,
they wash away with beating waves, leaving a skimming reflection where surety used to be. So maybe instead of lines in the sand, I should head into the surf and just ride out these waves.
But some days I feel more infidel than faithful.
When the press is great and rescue far off, help me not to fail
but to fall
into you.
Without You, I will sink in the undertow and be lost.
Are Your arms bigger than my sorrows, Your view wider than my narrow vision, Your heart tougher than my doctrine, Your compassion deeper than my loss, Your love hotter than my tears?
If there is a way that I must walk, can it be a yes-way, a water-walking way—a path of fullness and yeses.
So often I walk in these in-betweens, chained to an accumulated load that fills my soul with the hollow No.
Piercing doubt, filling, spilling. Knocked sideways. Sinking in the swells.
But I am ready for the Yes, Lord, not a way that seems right,
but is right.
No variance to the right or left, but straight-ahead trust
to joy, unspeakable peace, unbreatheable, that just is.
When the press is great and rescue far off, help me not to fail
but to fall
into you.

 

Significance

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Sensing the need to feel

Important, –> that thoughts, actions, and

Gifts really matter, not just in the big scheme of things,

Not just ticks on nature’s timepiece,

Intertwined with myriad others, who

Fashion a purposeful life, a fanciful life, going somewhere–>

It is inbuilt, this need to belong, this feeling that

Creation matters, that we matter,

And that I as one lone voice matter,

Not just as a cog in a

Cosmic wheel–> but as imagio deo–

Everlasting because He has given me significance.

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Enough

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Known by many but known by few—image, identity, purpose twisted together, carnal and spiritual, an alienating stew,

feeling just as alone in a group as alone; and I thought

You would be enough, but . . .

The rants and rails of pundits are as unsettling as personal attacks. It is just like with lawyering where winning is more important than proving what is true. And

strangers take sides, and friends take sides, and what takes shape is a pulling and a tearing, and

I feel caught in the middle with no solution,

no resolution, and all of this when I thought

You would be enough.

And playing church stopped being an option, but I thought being more real would have less pain, but

the ragged edges of human spirits with or without acceptable doctrines is just as bleeding hard as playing the game and hiding the differences behind smiles and “God bless you’s,”

skirting round the edges of maybe relationships, and here, I thought

You would be enough . . .

But my need bumps up against inability to change how people feel, how people act,

how and whether people care—and the weight of emptiness haunts me in the night when I search the ceiling for release,

for answers, for a place to belong, and

I pray that with all of this,

You will please be enough.

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Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. ~I Peter 5:7