Wednesday, 23 April 2014

(in)RL - My Prayer for You


Dear Friend,

You're about to enter a sacred place.  You're about to have a shoes-off holy moment.  You're about to hear stories of joy, stories of brokenness, and stories that will hurt.  You'll soak tissues with tears because you'll soon realize all of these stories that beat wildly, together they beat the rhythm that your story needs to hear. 

In two days women from all around the world will gather -- a stalwart of soul sisters -- will begin to see the beauty of their stories.  College student, mother, aunt, sister and best friends will see how the pieces of their brokenness fit into the tapestry of community and how Christ moves among His people in holy and healing ways. 

Maybe you're like me and you've broken up with community a time or two in your life.  Maybe the thought of turning your heart back to all that He has for you has you making tracks for the door.  Maybe the past has you ignoring the invitation your neighbour, or your best friend, or the lady you don't know, but see every week in church gave to you. 

Can I just whisper here friend... He knows.  He knows anxiety thrums deep in you bones, He knows you'd rather not.  That you would. really. rather. not.  He knows all this and more and He will never leave you.  He's had this moment planned for you... right from the very beginning. 

He will be there in the welcome of your gracious host, in the laughs shared around cupcakes.  He will be the one in the hand that passes the tissues as His love for you fills you to overflowing. You are brave, you are courageous and you are exactly where God needs you to be – entering into deep hospitality with the body of Christ.

My prayer for you is simple.  That you would know Him more.  That you would come with your heart and palms open ready to receive all He has for you.  My prayer is that through the coming together and the breaking of bread, through the laughter and tears you would know a communion that aches sweet and deep in your soul.

My prayer is that once Saturday ends and you're in your car heading home you'll see how you were part of Kingdom work.  How your story meshed with my story, or the story of the women next to you is building the foundation of holy-ground work.

And this Kingdom work, it doesn’t stop on Saturday, the coming together of hearts, the practice of hospitality, the building of communities they are things that will lead the next generation of women. 

And can’t you see?  Can you not see how that sound, the sound of your life, beats a rhythm in my life and mine beats a rhythm in yours and together we make music.

There is no off note. No discoloured chord.  There is only a sweet fragrance of doing life together.  We need you and we need the music of your story.




Registering for (in)RL is as easy as 1,2,3...   Simply click HERE enter your information and find a meetup near you!  I know you're a bit scared, or worried, but don't you worry we build strong benches built on Christ's love at (in)Courage and there's room enough for you! 



Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Heart Waits Heavy

My heart waits heavy this Saturday.  

It's Easter and I am surrounded by family.  The cottage doors flung wide open and laughter, food and memories seep into the wood of the walls for safe keeping. The fireplace is crackling.  The sun is shining, its light bending around the naked trees.  And yet, my heart feels heavy.
This waiting.  It is madness. 

Mary mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene knew of this waiting.
By the time Jesus had died and Joseph of Arimethea and Nicodemus had retrieved His limp and lifeless body,  it was too late.  Too late to visit the tomb.  Too late to prepare His body for burial.  

Passover had begun and all that the women could manage was a quick shopping trip through the markets to buy the necessary spices and oils.  The task of preparing their Saviour would have to wait until morning.  
Sundown to sundown - they waited.   

I imagine this Passover, this particular one, must have been frenetic.   There is nothing that get's a crowd moving mob-like than death by crucifixion.  The air must have been rife with cold and caustic comments.  And after His body was removed from the ugly of the cross, the throng of people moving toward burning home-fires would have been massive. 

"We have just killed a man .  We just watched him breathe his last - but we best make it home before sundown, because heaven forbid we break God's laws."
Sundown to sundown. 



The irony of this does not escape me.  Passover.  This is not any Sabbath.  This is a celebration.   A remembrance.  Israel's sons spared the kiss of death, as the Egyptians watched their first born die.  No, the irony does not escape me.   Thanks returned to God for sparing their sons and saving a nation from the clutches of Pharaoh, when hours earlier they watched His Son die a heinous death.
A son's life spared for a Son's sacrifice.  

There would have been a few.  Just a few who would head home, hearts too numb and death too cold.   Would they even bother to light a lamp, a fire - how would they ever find warmth again?  Denial and shock would begin it's reign and the keening sound of mourning would be muffled in tunics and robes. 
Would any of them remember the promise?  Would any of them remember that He promised the torn veil and His reign in just three short days?  Or would they feel death fall on them with the weight of a sackcloth. 

And the women who desperately wanted to honour their Lord?   A mother, who should not know the pain of burying a child and a woman free from demons who, until Jesus, would not have known salvation`s kiss.  They were waiting, their grief settling deep.  Pinned to the walls of custom, the commandments immovable while their hearts beat sadness and their tears dripped memory.  They waited.
The waiting.  It's madness

But...
It's always darkest before the dawn...

Thursday, 17 April 2014

My Sin Was There

My sin was there that day.  The day He entered the garden.  When the weight of iniquity pressed His knees to the ground.  When His brow dripped red with drops of blood, right where the crown of thorns would sit. 


 My sin was there that day.  Squeezing His heart,  and as that anguished cry ripped hoarse "nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42),  He felt the burden of His choice and surrendered to His Father's will.

My sin was there on that day.  The day when betrayal's kiss pressed  his cheek like the iron that would pierce His skin.  When 30 pieces of silver slithered into the palm of Judas for a coup well executed.
  
My sin was there that day.  When darkness ruled and He was arrested under the shroud of night.  The Pharisees, fearing riots in the Temple,  slunk coward as they stood behind the Roman and Temple guard.
My sin was there that day.  When Peter, the Rock, shook fear and trembling. When his mouth opened and his tongue let loose denial, not once or twice, but three times he rejected the Son of Man. 

My sin was there that day.  When the religious leaders badgered and question. Daring Him to turn His back on the throne of God, His rightful place at His Father's right hand.



My sin was there that day.  When the one and only human, Pontius, could release Him from the grip of death and yet, he chose to release another and wash his hands instead.


My sin was there that day.  It covered His back as He was whipped and beaten. As flesh was torn open and laid bare.  When they pushed the thorns on the very brow that sweat drops of blood in the garden.
My sin was there that day.  When the guards gambled for his clothes and spit in his face, mocking Him - The King of the Jews.


My sin was there that day.  When the cross beams of salvation pressed deep into deeper wounds, leaving splinters and dirt and pain.  When he struggled under the weight of the cross - the sin of humanity.
My sin was there on that day. When they pressed him on that ugly tree and when "[He] cast all my sins behind [His] back"  (Isaiah  38:17).  When the cruel sound of metal striking metal and the iron ripping flesh became the requiem of His love for me. 


"He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (Isaiah 53:3)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Legacy of Faith

It is often easy to say that we step out in faith.  It's easy to say we truly believe to the very core of our being what God is whispering to our souls in the quiet morning.

I fill pages of journals with promises that have settled deep.  Some of those promises coax tears from my eyes and gently unfurl my tightly clenched fists.

And yet... 

Sometimes faith throws you a curve ball.  Sometimes the plans of God never quite play out like you imagine and your find yourself facing a mountain of impossibility and doubt. 


Jacob was closing in on his 130th birthday when God called him to Egypt.  I'm not entirely certain what was running through his mind at the time but I'm sure it wasn't making a trek from Canaan to Egypt in his more advanced years.

I can also imagine that he heard the echoes of the covenant between God and his grandfather Abraham.  A promise he mostly likely heard at the breast of his mother and then at the knee of his father over and over and over again.

"I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant:  I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.  And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants.  It will be their possession forever and I will be their God." - Genesis 17: 7-8 

So why was God asking him to pack up his belonging, heard his flock, gather his family and pile onto the wagons Pharaoh had provided and move away from the promise given to his Grandfather?  

Here is what we know.  We know that Jacob wanted to see Joseph, the son he thought dead, before he himself died.   We know that the land was dead, famine had wasted away crops and dried up river beds and as a result Jacob, his family and his herd were also wasting away.  We know that Egypt, because of Joseph's gift of interpretation, had prepared for seven years with storehouses of food when the famine hit. 

Despite all of that head knowledge, it must have felt weird to walk away from the land you've come to know as home, the land that was covenanted to you by God, and become a foreigner in another.  Jacob was scared. 

God understood that fear.

On the way to Egypt Jacob stops at Beersheba and offers a sacrifice, the same place where God reiterated His covenant to Jacob's father Isaac.  And in this place, God speaks to Jacob in the same way He spoke to Isaac.

"I am God, the God of your father... do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation.  I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again.  You will die in Egypt, but Joseph with be with you to close your eyes."  Genesis 46: 3-4 


Jacob would never again see, touch or smell the land that was given to Him through the covenant. He would die a foreigner in a strange land.  And yet, he still chose to follow the path that God laid out before him. 

Sometimes the path changes and when that happens we can stand still and be paralyzed by fear of the unknown.  Or, we can stop and offer a sacrifice and all that beats anxious in our hearts to God because He cares enough to listen to our fears. 

God's promises are His promises and He can be trusted to keep those promises. 

"Without wavering, let us hold tightly to the hope we say we have, 
for God can be trusted to keep his promise."  Hebrews 10:23

The revelation of those promises?  

That is full of the beauty and mystery of faith, part of the extreme bravery of stepping out and into His full purpose even if it scares us. 





Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Land of the Living


Some days are so much harder than others. Some days uncovering the holy in the ordinary requires an excavation of your heart.

When you ask me how I'm doing, I want to turn and plaster on the bravado-smile and tell you that everything is fine.  Yet, there are days when nothing could be further from the truth.

Lately I've been struggling with doubt.  Daily I've needed to claw my way to a place of finding certainty in the promises of God.  Lately I've been struggling with unbelief - Oh Lord, please help my unbelief - as I look in every nook and cranny for the goodness of God.

If I look closely enough I can see how He has helped my unbelief.  He has brought me you.  Yes, you the one who I'd rather tell I'm fine, but instead I will sit right next to you on this bench we've built together. 


Bravado builds walls.  

Benches build hope.  

Hope builds joy.

There's a simplicity we overlook when we forget that our wounds, our hurts need light to heal.  And, all too often that amnesia keeps us locked too long behind the walls of bravado when what we really need is hope.

The hope that has truth spilling over and washing away the dirt.  Hope that has me fighting for joy in the middle of the messy parts of me that I would really rather you didn't see.

Sometimes living, real down and dirty living, means you fight for joy.  It means that you boldly proclaim the goodness of God despite the tumult of your heart. It means you drive a stake into the landscape of your heart and proclaim - I BELIEVE in the goodness of the Lord. 

Living means you sit yourself down on the bench that is built on the solid foundation of Christ and grab the hand of the sister next you and speak truth.  It means you skip the bravado and head straight to joy.

Sometimes living means you fight for JOY. 










Thursday, 10 April 2014

Five Minute Friday - Paint

Five Minute Friday

  The best night of the week ever.  We stop what we're doing, take a big breath and silence the critic while we write for five minutes flat.  No over thinking, no back tracking, no editing.  Just write our hearts.  It's the bravest kind of writing I know.  Click on the logo to the left to join in the fun! 



Word - Paint

GO! 

I'd wanted a space for what felt like forever.  Somewhere to create and contemplate that didn't have me navigating dirty dishes and piles of life strewn all over the the dining room table.  

I wanted calm and serene, a room that I could walk in barefoot and feel like I was on holy ground. So, when my oldest moved out, I moved in and that in itself sits in the tension of bittersweet.  The end of something that ebbs into the beginning of something else. 

I painstakingly picked out paint, a butter yellow that glows soft and warm when the candles are lit.  To my husband's surprise, and I'm sure delight, I banished him from the room.  I want to do it myself I told him. 

With each stroke of the brush, each pass with the roller I could almost see the words and prayers and whispers to God that would echo off  the walls.  The times I would sit at my desk with my hair standing straight on end with the frustration of not being able to find the right words. 

I could feel the way my heart would just sigh into His presence. 

I love my room.  I do and everyday I'm grateful for a little corner to call my own. However, what I've learned in the past few months is that the walls and the floor and the perfectly cute desk aren't prerequisites for the glory of God.  

The glory of God can be found in the dirty dishes, the sticky tables, the piles of life that get left by everyone and cleaned up by no one. 

The glory of God is found in your messy bed or the laundry that just. won't. stop. 

The glory of God is found in the painted glory of your ordinary life. 

STOP. 



Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Surprised by Motherhood {A Book Review}

It isn't often that book draws me like a moth to a flame.  It's not often that I find it next to impossible to separate myself from the couch after sinking into words. It's been a rare occasion that I issue instructions about dinner to my husband and son from my perch beneath the blanket because I. Just. Can. Not. Put. It. Down. 

But this book was different, it is different.  Every page was like light, bright and stunning.  Every chapter was like a gravitational pull that kept me centered in its goodness.


As the mother of  18 year old and a 20 year old I thought my days of reading books about motherhood were long gone.  To be honest, I thought reading anything about motherhood at this point was sort of like arriving on Sunday to a party that actually happened on Saturday. Too little, too late.  

I couldn't have been more wrong.  From the moment I first read Lisa-Jo's words on her Blog I knew that my heart had heard a rhythm that it needed to hear.  Somehow God used the words of a mama to Littles to heal the heart of a mama to Bigs. 


Surprised by Motherhood is everything my heart felt at the time when I was trying to navigate the puke and the dirty diapers and the new landscape of a heart that God had given me in my kids.  It was everything I felt, but never had the guts to speak out loud.

Somewhere along the journey I learned to cover up the storm with "I'm fine," when really, I wasn't, I was drowning in a sea of would'ves, could'ves, should'ves. 

So yesterday in the light of her words, God showed up.  And her writing, so much like her glorious South African lilt, flowed with an easy grace into the cracks and caverns leftover from the guilt of all I thought I had done wrong in the raising of my children.  It flowed and it settled and it healed. 


So it doesn't surprise me that late last night after turning the last page I crawled out of bed, whispered a well done to the author on Twitter and then promptly sat in my office, laid my head down on my desk and cried until I couldn't cry any more. I cried until, for the first time in this long journey of motherhood, I felt whole. 

My words here seem so inadequate, so lame compared to the goodness you will find in its pages.  So go and buy it. {PSA: You will get nothing else done once you crack its spine AND you will need boxes of Kleenex}.

Man, woman, mother, father, daughter, son... it doesn't matter who reads it - it needs to be read.

The story is Lisa-Jo's, but the eternal echo of our Creator is weaving His spirit through her story into our story and it's one we all need to hear. 



Where to Buy It

Amazon (US)                                  
Amazon (CAN)
Indigo Books (CAN)
Dayspring