To Always Have Hope

I don’t like being up early. But here I am, on the couch as the world out my window slowly unveils itself from the misty charcoal. All week, my right arm has felt like a nerve pinched; I still have tiny doses of fear that I’ll fall apart from my health trauma.

God, You have been so good to me.

Sometimes, I am still afraid.

Sometimes, I still don’t see this world as You want me to.

Sometimes, all I see is myself.

 

You bring me from the barren places and set me high on a steady rock; my feet firm in Your truth. Perhaps I will always falter at points, but I will always have hope. You have taught me that much, to ask without doubt, look to joy, to always have hope.

Banana cream oatmeal this morning. Here’s to being healthy, in habits, action, and thought.

God, You have transformed the patterns of my mind.

Sometimes, I wish I were more.

Sometimes, I want to be fearless.

Sometimes, I believe I can use my life to make a difference.

 

You have done deep healing work in my heart—literally, with closing the holes in my aorta, and also emotionally, binding up my scars and wounds and restoring me to my first love in You. Surely, You have shown me great goodness in the land of the living.

Now, light has opened to a pale gray, brush of clouds low in the sky. The street is seeing more traffic—here comes the world awake in my little area of the world.

God, You are my sustenance and strength.

Sometimes, the dreams in me beat against my chest so loud I fear I’ll tear in two.

Sometimes, I wonder if they are enough.

Sometimes, I settle.

 

You have brought me this far not to settle but to live my life in full. For abundant joy, and I am beginning to know for the first time what that looks like, and that it is OK.

You claim more than OK for me, for all who lean into You. Help me not to forget.

Oh God, help me not to forget Your beauty is my breath.

 

But as for me, I will always have
I will praise You more and
more.
– Psalm 71:14

 

 

Sliver of Sun

How in the world has He brought me this far? How has He redeemed such brokenness in me, the crumpled little girl with a gaping heart and hurting hope? He who crafted carefully the course of the stars came close to touch my wounds, stitch them softly, and sing a song of reassurance over my resting body and soul. He calls me by a name I would not answer to before: Beloved.

I couldn’t believe it, refused to see it, and yet each day this past year He set it everywhere before me: Beloved. I am He who brings good because I AM. His saving me in my stroke, His lacing up the holes in my heart, bringing the one my heart loves through my back door—into my busted kitchen, of all places!—my new home, every simple moment, He has smiled as if to say, “See, here is how I love you. You are my beloved and you’d better start believing it.”

With this Christmas, another reminder that a new day has dawned, sliver of sun rising in the blends of gray. Here is a season of hope, a thrill for this weary soul who is made new, restored, and with the lilt of her voice, rejoices.

Comes In Quiet

It comes in quiet. Slips through the lights of my tree, curls around the steam of my coffee. Goodness. The new life God has for me.

I inhale and take a sip, test it on my tongue. Rich, yet smooth. Another drink, the taste is still the same.

My friend Janet is proclaiming over me today: victory, joy, freedom, and peace. I am praying Immanuel, God with me. Today is a day of miraculous proportions. Today is a day of sweet simplicity.

Everything is beautiful. Nothing is the same.

There’s a wooden bear that’s turning in half circles on the inside branch of my tree. It catches my eyes, and I see the ornament next to it- in curved metal letters, the word JOY.

Yes, it is a day to rejoice, to remain confident that I will continue to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living, while walking in my unknown.

Taste and see the LORD is good.

I take another sip, let it warm me slow and full. And when I am done with this cup, there is another, ready and just as rich, waiting for me to pour.

Always Enough

My tree is aglow with white lights, next to it, red and white block words spell out Believe. On my window ledge, pointing me to the street, the call to come and see, to look for what is ahead.

These have been special days, sitting around the kitchen table with china plates loaded with turkey, soft stuffing, layered Jello and green bean casserole. Sitting with the light of my family, going around the table telling what we are thankful for. There is much to be thankful for. Life. Health. Breath. God’s growth in our hearts. God healing my heart, literally and figuratively.

There is always so much to be thankful for.

//Full from Thanksgiving, the goodness of the day, warmth of home and Eric included in family time. Full-on Christmas mode, lights strung, perpetual gray outside, feeling cozy in my heart. Filling up the empty spaces that were barren for years, God refueling, pouring His good to the brim of my cup.

I am learning to lean in to His crazy, unexpected, roller-coaster plans that are nothing like I was looking for. I think back on what I believed I wanted, how I fought to keep my vision for myself, and how I’ve willed myself to step forward into the unknown, release my grip on my plans, my life, the fear of breath cutting out again, and falling into God palms open and up for Him to fill.

What He does, I am always surprised by. But it brings an unanticipated joy, a swell of heart in contentment, amazement at the care and precision He has taken in my life.

My heart is a balloon that has constant room for His breath, warm air that massages and expands. I am living in full the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. His promise to me, come to pass. Praise His holy name for the miracle work He has done in one broken, love-starved, heart-holed girl. Such restoration by His might only.//

This is the season to celebrate. Step back and wonder at all that has transpired in just one year. In a few days, it is one year when I first met Eric, when he walked in my back door to fix my fallen ceiling. Then, just two days later, the one-year marker of my stroke, hospital stay, subsequent knowledge of a hole in my bleeding heart.

For right now, just rest in the moment. Relive the wonder and simplicity, the small sparks that light this night, these treasured, still-framed days.

Always, there is much to be thankful for. Breath, beauty, beating hearts that take in micro moments of this world. Always, there is enough.

 

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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: Full.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Embedded One

Out of nowhere, all wonder has transpired. We’ve gone from random strangers, a stranger who I was mad at because he was late to come fix my ceiling, to being the one embedded in my life on this personal of a level.

How in the world does this happen?

How is it good?

He’s in the kitchen cleaning up the dishes. Turning off the bathroom light. Taking care of things as I get to work.

Taking care of me.

Oh God, this wall of a heart of mine. Something’s cracking, letting in the light. And it scares the daylight out of me.

But the good keeps coming. The light, another opening through that wall. Pieces soften, tumble.

It is good and that scares me.

A sweet, light kiss on the forehead. It reaches down to the soft spot of my heart. I stand with eyes closed, receiving this unexpected grace, this unrecognized affection.

God, how did You maneuver all this, how did you come through the back door of my heart and bring him in, without my ever preparing, unexpected?

This is the unexpected—God’s love, wrapped in flesh, in forearms strong, this towering heart of a man who is patient and kind and keeps no wrongs.

Complete care, come at a time I did not know was needed so deeply within my healing heart.

One Step at a Time

It’s only 6:30 but the darkness swallows up the sky like the bottom of the earth turning itself inside out. It’s pressing in on me, like a hand slapped across my chest. I’ve been cooped up all day, defenses down. My apartment feels small, constricted, the artificial light in here no substitute for the sun. This heavy night slides closer to my windows, leaning on the panes, coming close.

It’s coming close alright, this heaviness. The anniversary of my stroke. Almost one year. When the room and my world rocked, spun with no control, no road map of where I was going.

I have to get out. Go walk around my town, the cozy line of shops in the crisp air. The air cuts me in the best ways, opening up the shrunken cavern of my chest so I can breathe in full again.

These weeks especially have been a tug-o-war over my life, the way I anticipated it to roll out, my plans and ideals yet again balled in my fist. And God, kindly dismantling them and asking me to open my palms.

//I want to control my life, because everything these last eleven and a half months have been out of my control.

I’ve had no say in my stroke. Or the holes in my heart. Or moving out of my beloved flat by the lake. Or a hectic job where the work never ends. Even my relationship with Eric, as beautiful and a sweet gift that it is, I never saw coming.

And I am afraid, because these all came as a surprise to me, out of the blue, and I fear the floor could drop again at any minute.

I know that isn’t a good place to live from, but this is where I am for the moment. It’s OK to acknowledge, but it isn’t OK to stay there. One step at a time, especially when I don’t know where that next step will lead. One step at a time, I lift my eyes unto the hills to find my hope. I cannot see what’s on the horizon, what will come, but I know that I can open up my heart to the One who does.

This life is always unknown. We just get introduced to it each day and cultivate a relationship with it in tiny, eyes wide-open ways.//

These damp sidewalks cause me to concentrate my shoes on each scratch of pavement. It wouldn’t be good to slip. Each step is vitally important, is the focus.

What does it matter if I don’t know what’s coming? There’s nothing I can do about it, anyway.

Just stay with this step. Then the next.

 

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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: Unknown.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

The Lasting Memories

On the first day of November, I am greeted by a street of white, brick buildings laden with snow that actually fell the day before. Yes, our first snowfall of the season came in October. Goodbye, fall. Winter wants to arrive early. The beauty of my favorite season, forced to a shuddering end. I tried as best I could to savor it, because I knew how fleeting all the colors, the feel of fall, would be.

Like seasons, this life, too, is fleeting. We are given a little time here on earth to make what we can of it, cultivate relationships, redirect our callings. And when God is satisfied at how our days were spent and wants us home, we go.

Every ounce of what we are allowed here is precious, delicate, important, true.

Time is but a breath, our years but a heartbeat.

What lasts?

The ordinary moments that swell inside me, freeze me in the middle of their actions and sting my eyes with gratitude. Coffee in the morning. Lake Michigan. Eric’s laugh, his honest blue eyes. Every breath. At least, until the last one God gives me is done.//

What lasts?

Living into our legacy that might remain for a few more years. Digging into the dreams of family and friends, encouraging them, believing in them. A charcoal blue sky against mostly barren trees save a few russet leaves that aren’t ready to let go just yet. Sunlight spraying shadows in slants across an angled roof. My fingers, curled around a blue pen.

Find what is precious and hold it to the light, turn it in your hands and notice it from all angles. Watch where it sparkles, where it is smooth.

Don’t waste time on what is trivial. Go deep. Be genuine. Let everything be done in love. Believe for the impossible. Look for what lasts and light it aflame within.

It is a new month. What will be the lasting memories that come from these days? I want to live each one out to the full, focused on the present, giving whole-hearted thanks from my hole-filled heart.

Open wide for the wonder anew. What the Almighty can do. And be ready to be astonished. For there it all begins—at the One who is the first and the last.

 

 

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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: Last.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Those Who Wait

Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.

Those who wait. Who trust. Who cease striving and are still, resting in Him. And as they cease striving, the Lord renews. He gives strength, revives those empty places. It is He who fills our tanks back up, not us trying to fabricate our own extra energy.

It is a big ask to wait. To trust in God’s timing rather than our own. To be OK that answers may come later down the road and we must keep plowing ahead with our head barely above the bramble. To keep eyes fastened to the horizon with no fixed mark except He who is invisible made visible in all that’s around us.

We may not know where we are going, when the dark will end, when we regain our strength, but on we go,// lifting our weight of burden on to Him whose yoke is light.

Wait. He is here, already moving, breathing light into the dark. All will come to pass in good and right ways. For He who promised is faithful, and God deep in the dark with us is really what we need, His strength in our weary bones, His power when we crawl on oh so weak. He is the Light by which we move, the One who massages our tightened shoulders, leans over our ear and whispers, “Trust. Be still and know.”

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.   -Isaiah 40:31 KJV

 

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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: Wait.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Counted Sacred

The colors are pressed so bright I am awash in light, serenity of earth changing its garments. Soft leaves swaying to the ground. I am in my peace place, an island at the end of the earth, it seems, where I am allowed to catch my breath, slow my pace, fill my heart with quiet, with love, with God’s presence so palpable I feel His arms around me.

Each breath is counted sacred, a gift. I am here to breathe in the air, gulp the fresh scents of fall as nourishment for my body, my soul.

Slow. Give up the hurry and linger long and soft in the sway of branches swollen with color, the dance of wind on water.

For the first time in a long while, I allow myself to dream. To paint a picture for days to come, months, even years.

For a girl who could not get herself to hope for anything past the current day, this is another gift, a quiet miracle.

The Boy and I are dreaming now, together, and this is unfamiliar to me. But when we curve around the gravel lane arched with burning reds and yellows in a robin’s egg blue sky, windows cracked and glimpsing the diamonds on Detroit Bay and every water in between, we can’t help noting which lots for sale we could make do on, envision life later.

It’s a beautiful thing, to lean into God and let Him lead through the long way right where I most need to be. Where I never expected to meet my blessings face to face, full on, where they have been standing in the sand, watching, waiting to show me around.

Soft Promise

The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.   -Psalm 145:9

It has to be a daily surrender of my life and heart.

I am too human and full of a choking selfishness to get through an hour more without turning every fiber of my being over to You. To let You take control. To let go of the life I’ve wanted, the life I’ve clamored to get back to, though You’ve continuously shown me that what I want may not be what You have for me.

I must surrender that You are God and I am not, while I sure try and act like my own mini god. It’s rebellion, pure and simple. When I pull away I am stubbornly saying I know what is right for me, that though You can fight for my calm from the chaos of this world, You can’t possibly handle my little piece of it.

I keep making a mess of this life. And I keep begging You to let me live free from my mistakes. Keep clinging to the rumors of Your goodness, eager to experience for myself. Messier and messier, I leave a trail of my clumsiness behind me. But You keep cleaning up what I have broken and finding ways to rearrange the pieces.

You don’t ask me to understand my struggles, my situations, Your mystery. It’s all just that—mysterious, as You intend. Submit to the holy shroud, take only the step enlightened before my feet. Trust in my heart that Your thoughts are not mine, nor are Your ways anything I can comprehend. And that it’s a good thing, that You really do know best, that You want to rearrange my world to rotate well with You.

One breath. One heartbeat. One blink of my eye. That’s all I get, one moment, and then, perhaps, another. To be okay with that is a beautiful surrender, mindful decision that sets me free to fall on You, fall into You, intake Your soft acceptance.

I may mistake my worth, Your care, but I have grace to get me through. And I must lay my own life down to get to Yours. Push back the screaming fear to hear the gentle tone of Your voice. The one that speaks to me and tells me what I am afraid to know.

Bring me to the truth of it, those deepest parts of me where I feel most exposed. Offer me a soft promise to fall asleep to, new mercies when I wake. Pressure erases when I cast my heart on You.