A Long Prayer

A Long Prayer

Dear God,

There is much that I am uncertain about.

This interpretation, that interpretation…

And if I don’t feel a conviction to do this, does that mean that I am not actually called to do it,

Or

Does it just mean that I should grow some spiritual muscle and develop a conviction for it

?

 

 

Also,

Is it always holier to do the more uncomfortable thing

?

 

I don’t know how to pray, God.

How can I pray, when it only reveals how very little of you I understand?

I imagine that you must be

So

Much

More

Than just a perfect superhuman.

But

What

?

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And what do I do if I realize that my motive for knowing you more

Is so that I will appear and feel more

Wise?

(I hate when my motives get all twisted like this.

Forgive me.)

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I know that learning to know you is a journey-

An adventure!

I will not navigate it perfectly.

I know that there are mountain-tops along the way

With much clarity.

I also know that there is…

Muck.

 

Speaking of muck…

 

I confess that when I hear the words child-like faith

Something inside me splinters

And not in a good way.

 

I have slid into a pit of

“Earning my faith”

By being skeptical about this and about that.

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We talk about owning our faith and how good it is to question and search.

But nobody tells you

What to do

When you are just…

Lost.

 

When the answers to your questions sometimes involve that child-like faith and you just

Can’t

Quite

Regain it.

 

There is much that I am uncertain about.

 

But also…

 

The daffodils in the flowerbed outside our door just keep blooming and blooming, through cold and through gray.

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In The Horse and His Boy, Aslan was all the lions.

 

There are certain things that I hesitate to pray for because I’m afraid you’ll send me what I ask for.

 

“… in You we live and move and have our being.”

 

Some days, the sun shines in a warm way and the grass is green beneath me.

 

Perhaps, right now, many small pieces of you are more necessary for me than one giant understanding. And maybe I don’t even need to worry about putting all those pieces together.

 

Maybe I will just watch for the beautiful pieces and name you as I see you.

 

I’ll be watching, God. I’ll be watching.

 

Amen.

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Question: What are you certain or uncertain about these days? Hearing either is encouraging. 

Briers and Thorns

When I read all those “do not be afraid” Bible verses, do you know what I want them to mean?

I want them to mean, “There’s nothing to be afraid of.” Nothing ugly enough, nothing powerful enough, nothing dangerous enough to actually break me. Now that idea is comforting and empowering.

But I don’t think that those verses are saying that.

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I know that I have been protected and surrounded by beautiful things my whole life, but I am aware that there is much unthinkable ugliness and power and danger out there.

Things that destroy and kill in the worst ways. Things that human hearts cannot endure.

And so those “do not be afraid” Bible verses? I can’t believe that they mean that we are immune to the evil and the awful around us.

We just aren’t.

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Look at these verses from Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 2:6-7

And you, son, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed by their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house.

God straight-up tells Ezekiel that there are going to be briers and thorns, scorpions, words, and looks.

Things that are going to make him feel small and vulnerable.

But He still tells Ezekiel not to be afraid.

That’s why I don’t believe that when God says, “Do not be afraid,” He means, “There is nothing to be afraid of”.

I think He means something more like, “There are many things to be afraid of, and it’s not easy out there, but I’m more powerful than any of those other things, and I am with you, and that is the strongest and most valuable protection you could ever have. Do not be afraid.”

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Briers and thorns, scorpions, words, and looks.

They’re real. They’re out there.

And yes, they’re against you. (Sorry if this is discouraging…)

Do not be afraid.

We have Someone inside us, Someone who has covered the earth with His grace and love, Someone who has no beginning and no end.

A Spirit so deep and so wide that nothing else can even compete.

Do not be afraid.

2 Timothy  1:7

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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The Holy: to Come and to Stay

I live

I love

I laugh.

Beauty thrives and twists.

This is good.

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But I have forgotten once again

Who I live for

And love for

And laugh for.

This is so like me.

To be so

Busy and

Happy and

Excited that

I don’t even see the burning bushes around me.

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Holiness is a seeping, bursting sort of thing.

It pours from the church windows and doors, both in and out.

When the music soars

My soul does too

And I am taking my sandals off and

Why would I ever look away from flames

That speak and wrap and refine

and spark brand new life?

At the end of the song I walk away and

I live

I love

I laugh.

Beauty thrives and twists.

Happy and busy and excited.

I don’t see the burning bushes around me.

The nears sometimes and the fars other times bring

Rips and guilt and desire.

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This is not what the veil was torn for.

The earth shook and rocks split.

God poured Himself over mankind.

It is time to come and to stay.

To see the Great Sight

To stand with my feet directly on the Ground

To feel the Holy beneath me and around me and in me.

To experience the glory of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

To know that I have been seen by Him.

To know that He is the answer

And that He does not always look the way that I expect Him to look

And that sometimes He burns far too brightly to look at and all that is left is to

Bow down.

 

 

 

The Dance

You might already know this, but my husband Ricky makes videos.

They are funny, warm, comfortable, and entertaining for all ages (seriously, even five-year-olds like them!)

He recently made a video about my family’s vacation at a beloved mint-green cottage. We have history with that cottage. We love it, and it’s the kind of place that seems to love us back.

Here is the video. You don’t have to watch the whole thing. But I would like if you would watch three seconds of it. You should watch from 5:28-5:31 (approximately).

Did you see it? Did you see that dancing cloud that swirled across the right corner of the sky during the time lapse?

I happened to notice it one time and it stuck with me.

About a week after we came home from the cottage, Ricky and I went for a bike ride. It was a glorious evening, with beautiful clouds as the sun set.

One cloud in particular caught my eye and I thought, “I wonder if that cloud is dancing?” It seemed like the sort of cloud that would be, although it didn’t appear to be moving.

Some dances we don’t recognize as dances, I guess. Our perspective is all wrong. Too slow. Too small.

What else around me is dancing?

It seems like the whole earth is dancing with the Grandest Dance Partner of All.

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Perhaps I might be dancing too?

Slow and untrained and not always graceful?

I am beyond excited for the Time and Place when we are shown that our faltering steps had more beauty than we understood,

Because of The One Who Is Before Us.

The One Who Holds All Things Together.

Amen.

 

March Break.

It deserves to have words such as beautiful, glorious, sweet, and luxurious used to describe it. It’s just that wonderful. It has been, perhaps, the most perfect March Break in my whole entire life. I think that I appreciate it more as a teacher than I did as a student.

I have been doing lots of wonderful things.

I planted my spider plant. It was time. It has been living in a cup since Christmas, I believe. I think that it has already grown. They grow up so fast, don’t they? Now I am always wondering if it’s time to be watering it. Unfortunately, they don’t need a whole lot of water. I’m so excited about watering it. A plant might be just the kind of pet that I need.

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I worked on my puzzle. What a puzzle. With its curly edges and massive chunks of blue sky and white blossoms and green grass. I like to sit down and work on it every few weeks or so. All good things take time, right? I loooooove my puzzle.

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I bought some things, like a song book and shoes and disco ball.

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I ate turnovers and drank tea. One time, I tried to do it while doing my devotions. In my mind, it seemed like the ideal situation. But it was too hard to do them at the same time. So I ate my turnover and then did my devotions for a long, long time. It was a glorious morning.

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Speaking of devotions, how do you guys do them?

I’m not going to lie.

I am a devotional snob.

As in, I don’t like devotional books, because I prefer to have my own thoughts. Isn’t that dumb? I’d rather read the Bible and come up with my own thoughts than take in the ones that someone has already had. There’s no pure reason behind this. It’s because if there’s something good to be thought of, I want to think of it myself. It’s a rather selfish thing. But it has affected the way I have done my devotions for at least the past two years. My system consisted of prayer journaling, reading the Bible, and reading a chapter of some “teaching” book. (Somehow, I don’t mind reading the “teaching” books, but don’t like the devotionals.)

But recently, I finished meandering through the Bible. I got to Revelation and I was done. So… I started over. But the thought of essentially doing the same thing again (in a different order and different time frame) really did not appeal to me.

That was when I decided that it is time for me to take in less.

Less scripture.

(Hold your horses. I know that it doesn’t sound good. I’m not done talking yet.)

Take in less, but focus more. This possibly goes with this desire that I keep feeling to live simply.

I don’t even know how to describe what I mean by simply. I picture a white living room and eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables when I think about living simply, but that’s not what I mean. Maybe I mean being appreciative of and thrilled with the simple things and moments. Not having a life that’s filled with unnecessary clutter. I haven’t defined this yet. I’m working on it.

I had already taken a step in this direction close to the beginning of Lent. Let it be known that I love checking Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram and some of my favourite blogs. And I realized recently that it’s becoming very habitual to do these things, and that they can be beneficial things, but I was taking in too much, and not doing anything useful with what I was taking in. It was not benefiting me in any way. So I decided that it was time for me to take in less. Not eliminate these things completely… just use them less. Don’t let them take away from other things. When I read a blog post that challenges me, stop there. Don’t go on to the next post. Think about it. Use it.

Basically, my idea was, “Take in less. Produce more.”

So I decided to apply that to my devotions too. Read less. Pray more. Do more. Write more.

What good is all that taking in if it doesn’t change you in any way?

All this to tell you that I am doing the “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” reading plan on She Reads Truth. And I am enjoying it. There are a few verses to read, and then a devotional that goes with it. And that devotional… it’s okay. I’m enjoying this whole ordeal very much. I love that March Break allows me lots of time to linger, whether it’s in the Bible or in my journal or writing other things.

But are there devotional books out there that you have enjoyed? Or studies that you have done on your own? Or creative things that you have done? If there are, you should tell me sometime or comment! (Don’t feel obligated to comment. I’m not doing this for comments. I’m doing it because I’m interested in hearing what other people do. Because this reading plan will end, and then I’ll need something new to do. And if you don’t give me ideas, I will probably never stop doing unnecessarily long posts about my devotional journey, and I don’t think that’s what any of us want.)

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