Hold Tight To Hope

Though You say You’re with me always, I feel left high and dry. You brought me so close to sweetness and then snatched it away and slammed the door on my heart. I can’t tell You how much that stings. And so I nurse my wounds, already sensing my default to close off from the world.

I am still so terribly alone. And there is nothing You seem fit to do to soothe the sting, the ache. I don’t know how to pray. Don’t know what to even pray for. I have absolutely nothing for You, and what a desolate wasteland that is.

Selfish is me. But I don’t know how else to be. How can I do it—live this life?

I keep trusting in what I cannot see and it is so hard.

You are God. I am not. But I fight for my grip on life, my heart, afraid to relinquish control.

Like I’ve ever been in control in the first place.

 

 

**Read the rest at ALTARWORK!

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Release. Breathe. Open.

Spring wants to come. The cardinals are hopping among the branches. Other birds are calling down the sun, kindly asking to come a little closer and bring the warmth that these months bring. The air is still brittle cold among the blue, false premonition of an underlying warmth that may not come for a little longer.

I remind myself for this month and forever: keep hold of hope. Suddenly, the sun will come and smile upon my face.

Keep hold of hope and let go of all that restrains me from the full life that waits with patience.

I tell my head to clear itself of all the preconceived notions of what I thought this life would bring in time, loosen my expectations and shake them from my way of living, giving it all over to God. Everything—my exact geographic location, how I thought my professional career would pan out, my singleness, my impact on the world—cup them in my hands and offer to God. Offer from the very base of me. Of the decades through my life, the little girl with wide-eyed dreams, the teenager aching to be loved, the young professional carving her way in the world. And now the woman in her 30s, seasoned and tempered by life, still easing her bones into understanding that life isn’t meant to be figured out.

Show me how my heart should beat, how to merge its cadence along with this life.

Show me how to feel the wind upon my skin again, like the first time I experienced the sense of touch.

 

/// Why is it such a hard thing to swallow my pride and give up my life and let God Almighty take me where I’m meant to go?

I want to wipe my mind’s slate clean, with no memory of all I dreamed and hoped and longed for, the paths that I would take to go to the life I’ve been dying to live. Set away my expectations and release them into the heart of Him who holds me safe, knows my name and calls me chosen.

What can I do to take away the plans of my life that have been branded on my heart? How do I just surrender what I’ve worked and groaned for years for and simply follow like a child? To fall, trusting, into the arms of a Father who is good and loving and true.

I always seem to try to take the world back into my hands. But try as I may to let the wind blow where it pleases, a piece of me still wants to push the wind’s direction, even if it’s a subtle shift. ///

 

Now to Him who is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine…

 

Why bother imagining at all if He’s going to blow the roof off my reality? If He’s going to sweep in like a summer shower and drench me with surprises in the best possible ways?

Let go, dear heart. Leave the page unwritten and look for the ink to imprint upon the line. Let His heart surprise you, and dare again to allow the sun of spring to move across your days.

Release. Breathe. Open.

Watch the wonder amaze even you.

 

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Release.   /// symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Sky Among Shadow

Overnight, this Midwest town transformed to a winter land. The sun will melt a few inches throughout the day, but  unwelcome nonetheless as we edge into April.

I hear them calling from branches, those messengers of warmer days. But the birds are all confused: which is it, snow or spring?

This crazy weather makes miss Kansas City, where every day was a guess as to what it would be like. I miss the growth that carved itself in me. I still feel like there was so much more to explore, so much more to become. I did not feel my time was up. But God moves in mysterious ways, and I had to embrace the wind that had already begun to sweep me away.

///

My whole life I’ve been afraid to settle. Terrified of lowering myself to minimal. Of striving for the very best I’m meant to make of life and find out I didn’t quite achieve that level, make the cut.

When I was navigating what would become of this next season of life, I did not want to find myself back in my hometown, because I was terrified I’d slip back into the old ways of life in this slow, decades-paved pace of life. To have stretched my spirit and grown into another person—deeper, wiser, eyes open to the wide world around me—only to snap back to the beginning, go through the motions and get caught up in the bubble of middle-class suburbia.

Well, here I am. Back home. When I asked for any and everything else, God gave me a Great Lake and a job to build from the ground up.

To settle is the absolute worst destiny for me. I do not want to turn back as I look on my life and wonder, What if? Where did my hopes go? Where died the dreams I draped across my heart to heal the world?

Water drips down the covering outside our center, late afternoon sunlight glares off the wooden tables in the window. A stillness when the kids are gone. A slow revelation of life just as I feared, but a fight in me to make it different. ///

How do I settle when every bone in my body fights against the notion? Resign to monotony, day in and day out, drudgery that depicts what’s contrary to what God has reassured me of time and time again.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been set upon a voyage doomed to fail. Is there room for sky among shadow?

How do I be real with myself and voice my deepest fears? How can I be honest without regretting my current situation that is, as ungrateful as I may appear to be, seasoned all over with grace?

There is so much of my life I haven’t expected.
Like a crazy winter storm in the middle of spring.
So much unanticipated, to stare in the face and say is mine.

Right now, I feel pretty weak in these times of uncertainty, clinging to what little of hope for abundantly more that I still hold in my heart’s pocket.

I look up from my table, where papers and notes are spread before me. The café is full of light.

There is no room for shadows. Only breaking open of sky. Green splashed against the wall, canvas of color line the room. Silver espresso machine gleams with its newness. If I slip close enough, I can catch the lake blue of my eyes reflecting back, studying me.

How do I keep my head and my heart straight up?
Stand in the sun. Stay in the Son.

Choose this day to believe that I am heading towards the best of life. As a cherished one of God, there is no other destiny.

In the midst of the sorting of seasons yet again, it’s all I can do to take one breath and turn it into a prayer of surrender, of obedience with a trusting heart. A trust that chooses to take today, full of snow and the unexpected, and keep hope alive for spring.

Because it’s coming.

Because I can wait.

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Settle.   /// symbolizes where five minutes started and stopped.

Set Me Free

I have joy unspeakable
down deep that cannot be moved.
Glory, I am free.
Glory, He came for me.
Took the grave
took my shame
took the filth inside of me
hallelujah, He has set me free.

For the glory of the Father
for the glory of the Son
I will boast in my salvation
through my savior’s love alone.

Anguish

It is a crushing pressure,
to hang the weight of the world
upon one’s shoulders.

An overwhelming anguish
that snakes its way
along the spine and
coils around the heart.

When sweat becomes
drops of blood that pour
down your skin,
you know it’s serious.

But surrender is sacrifice,
bend of knee and will.
He broke bones and flesh
to burst forth
new beginning
for us all.

Hosanna

What did the people think, as they saw You heading towards the Jewel City? What did they believe they would see? The survival of Your people? The placement of a new King? They had waited for Your arrival for millennia, and now You appeared, shifting Your weight on the seat of a donkey’s foal. How their eyes must have lit up, sparked to life by the glimpse of their Savior. How the whispers glided from mouth to mouth: “He is here! He has come! To free us from our chains of burden!”

Branches snapped away from trees, laying as pavement on the dusty road ahead.

“Hosanna!” They shouted, dirt-specked faces full of hope.

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Sandaled feet slapped the ground as the crowd ran beside You, arms and palm branches swaying in the air as You continued Your entrance into Jerusalem. How excited they grew. How expectant they were of Your reign.

You saw them coming from a distance. Felt their eagerness in Your heart. To fulfill Your Father’s words, the final stretch was spent on the back of a placid mule. The chanting reached Your ears.

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

 

 

**Read the rest over at ALTARWORK.

 

 

Be Still And Know

It’s always the same.

I run towards the proverbial brick wall, stop my feet inches from the edge, where one wrong move sends me straight down.

A test of my faith when there seems to be no way.

And I am faced with the same questions:

Will I trust?

Will He come through?

Will I wait for Him to move?

 

Caught up in the cacophony of my own mind, how can I become a believer when over and over, I fall into the same patterns of disbelief, worry and anxious heart?

It’s a desert in here, and I cannot see the way to shade, to the coolness of the day and drink of living water.

But there is a small voice within, my compass steadfast and collected.

Breathe it in, this bubble of air stirred awake in my bones.

///

Be still and know.

Be still.

And know.

Be assured.

He’s got me covered.

Has my best interests at heart, my dreams within His own, the people and places already set before Him before time began.

See what He does for the sparrow, the panting deer. They find their nest, are led to the stream.

When I worry, I take my trust away from Him who ordered the stars. I try to misplace Him in my heart and strain to satisfy my own desires.

There was manna from the sky, quail from the brush, seas parting and walls that tumbled down. Story upon story shapes the history of His character, solid in faithfulness.

He has brought me this far; how can I not place my hope that He will stay true to His word?

When I flail, may I subdue my spirit. When I scramble, may I stop and fall back into His arms. His assured, capable arms that have carried me through more than one storm.

Taste and see His strength. Especially when I have none.

He will provide.

He always does.

Always.

///

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Provide.   /// symbolizes where five minutes started and stopped.

Coming Alive For Christ

Hutha is a dead man come alive who risks all for the sake of Christ.

The FCA India leader holds tight to the words of Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

God set Hutha apart to be a messenger to the nations, and he enthusiastically follows the call. After all, if it were not for Jehovah Rapha, he would not be touching the lives of hundreds of villagers throughout his country by his story and a soccer ball.

As he began to know God in 2004, Hutha fell mentally ill in a spiritual attack. While he prayed for healing, his village ostracized him, thinking he was drunk or wild, calling him “Mental Man” and refusing to use his real name.

He remained in a hospital for one year.

His family, steeped in black magic and the Hindu culture, sought help from witch doctors, who suggested they use the blood of a chicken as sacrifice. Hutha refused and said he would rather die in the name of Jesus.

 

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It is an absolute privilege to share this incredible story of my good friend and spiritual role model, Hutha, over at FCA.org. Please click the link to read the miraculous journey of this leader.

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The God of healing is restoring hearts through sport, and there is even more of His work to be done. The vastness of Hutha’s region in India requires resources to travel and gas to power Hutha’s motorcycle. Please pray for volunteers to join Hutha in his work, and for finances to be able to go where God sends him across the region.

Click here to support Hutha’s ministry, and visit fcaworld.org to learn more about what FCA is doing in India.