Those who live in the shelter of the Most High,
look to Him as a definitive defense, a protecting shadow, planted, rooted, and
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty,
find a peaceful sleep, a breathe-easy embrace in the threatening storm,
the coming chaos.
This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge,
my place to regroup, recoup, and take quiet, desperate respite,
my place of safety,
protection from threats without and disabling fears within;
He is my God,
Provider, Healer, Revealer, the One Who sees, Lover, my Abba Daddy,
and I trust Him
because in this upside-down world, who have I but You.
Psalm 91:1-2 (NLB)
Words, syllables, inflections,
breathed and yelled, soft and loud,
mouthed and thought, heard and not,
written and spoken,
valued and ignored, but so weighty for the one who owns them, for that one desperate to be treasured.
When we begin, words tumble out in disjointed digraphs and stutters,
cheered and encouraged by proud parents who imagine brilliance with each blurb; but
with time and teaching, the excitement diminishes, and like with any drug, the content needs to be more potent to illicit the same reaction, from spelling bees to grad speeches to wedding toasts and dissertations.
The audiences change, and the stories get retold; successful soliloquies get notched on the belt of significance as the words ebb and flow with the rhythms of life. But then
those who are really listening grow fewer, and more and more voices fill the air, diluting, refuting, and polluting
the pulsing megabytes,
the pixelated opinions that fill our moments, competing with our aging soul-words.
And it is that—soul.
It is as if we start to live a little less, feel a little less, when our words fall to the ground just beyond our lips, buried in the myriad messages that surround and clutter the unnourished imagination.
And I wonder if all this noise will be forever the way of things—if loss and longing, poetry and song, description and discerning will lose their distinctiveness in the throes of hashtags, vlogs, and all the literary litter that swirls like gnats.
a time to remember how the present God became an intensified presence, donning our flesh to be one of us. The depths of my despair, loss, and dysfunction cry out to the depths of his love, accessibility, and resource and
that deep crying to deep is answered in Jesus.
I had cataract surgery done a week and a half ago. I chickened out last year–something about a knife near the eyes bit! But I was getting desperate, so I did not read any contraindications and just went for it. I had not been able to drive at night for over 2 years, and even daily activities were becoming a strain. I probably should have asked more questions, though, because rather than a piece of cake, this “routine” surgery was more like liver and onions–more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.
I am very chemically sensitive, so having gotten through the procedure with fairly minor and endurable hiccups, the worst part became the reaction to the steroid drops which are needed for speedy healing. This is a five-week process, and I have quite some time to go, but I hope the worst is over.
That was the bad and the ugly. The good part is that somebody turned on the lights! Whites are whiter and colors are brighter, not to mention that everything has distinct edges and not fuzzy, ever-changing ones. The green in the traffic light is . . . well, green green! It is almost like a different color. It is not preferred by me to undergo any surgery, but given the positive change in my sight, I think it was worth it!
My eyes are blue blue again. Haven’t been like this since forever! You don’t think about it because the discoloration and hardening happens slowly over time. Even my own photographic work is brighter and more colorful. And I have discovered I am a much better photographer than I thought. 🙂
We don’t become aware of the hardening process that alters so much of what we see because it happens bit by bit, year by year. And only when it cannot be ignored any longer do we even recognize it is something to be dealt with. I am thinking that is kind of like what happens with our hearts. If betrayals and loss, disappointments and disillusionment build up, then over time the hardening becomes something to radically deal with. It interferes with our ability to prosper and see life and mission clearly. But it starts small, and it builds layer upon layer. I am not sure how to prevent that from destroying my joy, but my desire is that I would become aware of the hurts that bind and settle down into my spirit.
May I hold lightly to pain and hold tightly to renewal is my prayer.
I was once a thief, deliberate, conniving, and unrepentant.
I got twenty-five cents for a weekly allowance, and it was the good old days when that kind of coin really meant something. Well, . . . not really. It didn’t buy a lot even then. And hence the devilish temptation.
Between the one-room school and home was the general store where everything from gum to gum boots smelled like the owner’s cigars. There was cold soda pop in the cooler and a variety of gum and sweets under glass. Nothing was as good as an Orange Crush or Hires Root Beer after a grueling day of study under my teacher Aunt Luella in elementary school. But my twenty-five cents never lasted long.
Every evening, Daddy had this habit of emptying out the change in his pockets and placing the coins on a little ledge that ran along the bathroom wall. Those shiny silver quarters called to me something fierce. To be honest, I also heard the call of the tarnished ones just as clearly; and one day, I anesthetized the prickling of my delicate conscience with the anticipation of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit and a pop.
Having crossed the dark line, the second time was easier, and the third easier still. I got to the point that I did not even wait to see the money on the ledge. I would rifle through Dad’s pockets in the closet.
My larceny progressed day by day and week by week from one coin to two or three, and I stored them on a convenient little shelf inside the metal box spring that supported my mattress. I had found in the trash can this handy little cardboard box, which had a drawer that slid in and out—the perfect size for prepubescent contraband. As it happens, it was also the perfect size to house new condoms, but I did not know that at the time!
I was cautious not to let my candy spending sprees attract too much attention, typically only spending a quarter at a time; and if Mama ever asked where I got the money for that treat, I would just tell her I had not spent my allowance yet.
Sadly, my mom was much better at math than I was, and eventually my pernicious ways were found out. There was also the thing about my face turning red any time I tried to lie, which was a real deterrent to the life of crime I was bent on. When confronted, all my dark deeds came tumbling out in a sobbing, wet confession.
I fully expected a spanking and a repayment plan that would last into high school, but a fifty cent fine, a prayer, and a hug was all that was required to set things right. It was rather a relief to be caught since the cold, hard cash chaffed my sensitive conscience and never quite gave the satisfaction promised.
As it turned out, no sweet was as sweet as a pure conscience and the soft forgiveness of my parents and my Lord.
The man at the entrance handed me a bulletin from the top of a large stack. He gave a vacant smile—a smile saved up all week long for Sunday strangers. His eyes focused somewhere just above and to the right of my forehead. It made me wonder if there was a fly caught in my hair.
The music grew louder as I crossed the foyer and entered through one of the sets of heavy double doors to the sanctuary. Slipping into a back pew, I glanced around. The church was old with dark mahogany and stained glass, the pulpit a million miles away.
The congregation was in the middle of a song, led by a golden-robed choir with bright faces and sure voices. At the close of the song, a smile in a suit encouraged the people to spend a few moments greeting those around them. The lady in front…
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When light fades to black, and the chill comes,
when horizon and foreground meld to one, and minutes tick by slower than day;
I find myself alone with my thoughts—the rest of my world sleeps.
dream streams of past, present, and never weave spells of narrative in my restless mind.
If I could make sense of it all, I could justify my tossing and turning,
my drifting and drama, but it all seems just a colorful exercise in nonsense-making—
but so not.
And I rise more weary.
I have done superhuman things in my dreams, but wake in silver light
as ordinary as when I went to bed.
And my dreams grow larger as my world grows smaller.
And my rest grows weaker as my need swells.
Are you in the visions, evanescent wisps, circling in cerulean night,
or is my unsettled soul strangled by the diary of a life housed in three pounds of flesh?
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”
I heard your whisper in the wind, and
I leaned to listen; but
my lisping voice rose rough and rasping, replaying all the shame moments,
the named moments—over and over,
owning their bite.
I glimpsed your face in the greening breeze of spring, and
I opened my eyes wide to see and be seen, but
the haze of doubt drifted down like a curtain, so I was unsure of what was there; and
blinking long and hard only tired my eyes,
I put my knee to ground in weakness,
convinced that my limping life would never be anything more than this,
that tears would ever flow; but
you met me there
words are soft and
light is clear and
belief is birthed from unbelief.
Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10a
Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. ~Mark 9:24b
How can I make my ambition Your ambition?
Every now and then, unworldly inspiration and imagination penetrates
this sin-chained mind, this bone-bound spirit,
and I rejoice,
but just as quickly, flesh presses in—
pride presses in,
puffing me up, showing me what a wonderful thing I did for God.
Is there any hope to live a pure life,
a noble life,
when wriggling in skin and bone, a soul enslaved?
But to be free.