Holy Broken

My dark heart, on blast in my actions, drives me to glimpse God’s heart in fasting. He reveals much in Isaiah 58, Behold you fast only to quarrel and to fight….Is such the fast that I choose?….Will you call this a fast and a day acceptable to the Lord? It pleases Him when we commit to restraining our flesh that His Spirit may grow stronger within us, but never at the cost of peace. Never at the cost of justice. Never to turn our eyes inward, but to turn them Upward.

So I know, that in seeking Him, I have been a Pharisee (that nemesis of Jesus we all pretend not to be). For the family member who intrudes on what has become “my” time receives a snippy retort. And suddenly I have not loved God, but myself; for every human who walks on this planet, and in the halls of my home, bears God’s image on earth ((for good or for evil)). It is revealed that my seeking is now motivated by what I can get instead of Who He Is. How I yearn to be available to His call. How often I miss the mark by the log in my eye (Matt. 7:5).

Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.~1 John 4:8

Oh, that my days may be acceptable to Him.

It is imperative that I live broken because of the paradox of Christian existence. This paradox is that though my days on earth will never be flawless & sweet aromas to Him, yet, in Christ, they always will be (even in my legacy of sin & hypocrisy?!). How can it be so?

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.~Psalm 139:6

What mad contradiction it is as I cry out with the saints: I BELIEVE; oh, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24)! Like roots & weeds, the good & bad exist alongside each other within us. In our Lord, the weeds can be strangled, and the plant can grow strong, sending off seeds on the wind in every direction, until He gathers us all, in holiness, to His rest. But we must acknowledge our imperfection. We must live with two realities before us: 1) my sin, 2) His glory. The sin to make us broken, the Glory to lift up our heads, to be a gentle palm beneath the chin saying, “smile, HIS is the victory, ain’t no grave gonna hold you down[Crowder].”

But He Himself [Jesus] will be refreshed from brooks along the way. He will be victorious.~Psalm 110:7

I can measure His love as tidy as a tablespoon of turmeric: Jesus came, He lived covered in woodchips & sinlessness, He set into motion a movement of followers that would bring every nation to Him in worship & then…He died as a criminal.

For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross. ~Colossians 1:19&20

Teach me to feed my body with food & my soul with Your word. Free from trying to nourish my soul with the temporary food of this life. Only sometimes overlapping the two when my body is sustained by the strength of Your Word (may it be so!) in a fast that pleases You.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. ~Galations 5:24

For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.~Psalm 138:6

Giant Leap

The sun filets the blurred green countryside. I’m driving too fast. Sun-bleached hair whips my cheeks, coarse.
Pumping gas I realize that everyone sees the same me that they saw last summer; a kid lifeguard in that not-quite-full-fledged-adult stage. $32.98. I get a little discouraged as I hang up the nozzle. Have I gone nowhere since last year? Is the only difference between me now and me then the few thousand dollars in my bank account and the restored air conditioning unit in my truck? Is that all I have to show after the most challenging year of my (short) life?
I recall the thoughts of this morning: how heavy my wrongdoings now weigh on me, some more than others. I see how destructive my foolishness has been more clearly than ever before. I feel God’s displeasure when I make sinful mistakes. Ouch, for I slip so often.
Decide what to be and go be it.
That’s just it. You have to know Right to know wrong. The weight that I feel, the tears running down the window panes of my heart, those are of God, not the Devil. Recognizing those blunders is a step in the right direction. Maybe even a leap. I care; I care more than ever that what I do be glorifying to God. I believe I know a little better what pleases Him now than I did last summer.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him! 1 Corinthians 2:9
The chasm is wide between me and eternity. Happiness is far away, but it is closer. Closer than ever before!
The ache, the roughness of shame feels like a noose tightening on my neck, threatening me now. The good news? It only gets better as the noose gets tighter. God’s redemption becomes more dramatic, His love more radical. Messiah Jesus draws closer, I am made new.
Sometimes I wish that I was under the sun in Africa instead of Arkansas, or at a pool in Chicago instead of Chenal, but I would not change this story for that of another. It’s so exciting, it’s so amazing.
I don’t know about you but I am definitely staying tuned to see what happens.

“Go, and sin no more!”~Jesus

Salt Sadness

Humor me as I use my favorite illustration yet again…

Ocean waves.

I was a part of a rock face, maybe a coral reef. I broke off. I splish-splashed into the sea and the water carried me away for miles and miles. I rode, days and nights, on waves like horses. I was touched by fish, caressed by sunlight fingers reaching their yellow rays down, down to the ocean floor. Then Mother Sea spit me out onto the sand and ocean salt water rushed over me. I held my breath, the water receded. I see the sun, I breathe deeply, my eyes sparkle, and then the water is back over me, threatening to squeeze the last breath from my lungs.

I must walk, I can’t.

He is here, he is gone.

I am broken, I am restored.

Carried off into the wild blue sea. Rendered unto death. Saved from despair by that which gives the salty surroundings life. God is good; He knows the fish, He knows my name.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all

Lab Rats

Anticipation, slightly fearful. It creeps up me like moss climbing an oak tree. But moss is on the outside. This feeling, it starts to coat my insides. My emotions become choked: cut short by the tightness in my breast.

Be calm.

This too shall pass.

Look forward, beyond this. Let your internals breathe. Allow air, thick and nutritious, to feed your panicked mind. Oxygen seeps in and bathes me in clarity. Healthy, wholesome; it can happen.

Perhaps it will.

I went in, not sure whether I should be accepting this as a big deal, or playing it off. The piercings had to come out, minimal blood loss required.

I disrobed and sat on my gurney. The nurse had fled. The woman next to me was learning  how to keep the bladder wall from being irritated by her cathiter.  Nothing between me and the cold air but a napkin-thin hospital gown.

Naked, I thought. Exposed. Fragile.

And then I thought of all the children, grown or young, who go through this time and again. They are poked and prodded, and treated like lab rats. Their hair comes off along with their clothes. Not just once, but as many times as they can count IV pricks in the crook of their arms. I cried for them. Tears for the battered ones. Tears for this sick, sick world. Tears because of how easy it is to ignore the stench of death that surrounds us.

And I wanted to cry more but it seemed childish to do so. Tears can’t change a thing.

 

Goes Without Saying

My eyes are heavy, because there’s no more tears to cry;

Don’t put your business on the street.

Mama sells herself for heroin;

Don’t put your business on the street.

Daddy run off when I was only three. If he is my daddy…

Don’t put your business on the street.

I hate the way it makes me act, but I never want to stop smokin;

Don’t put your business on the street.

That lady ain’t doin no harm to nobody, but I gotta do it anyway because they’ll hurt me if I don’t;

Don’t put your business on the street.

He always comes in at night, I just pretend it doesn’t hurt;

Don’t put your business on the street.

They broke my legs, my trust, my pride,

But I won’t put my business on da street.

They want to help me, but I got self respect so I listen to what my family’s always sayin:

“Don’t put your business on the street.”

 

 

“…given the vocation of service to the Lord…”

Highlights

A menagerie of memories from the 365 days that we labeled, “2012:”

Teaching kids to read.

“God created us because He wanted to love us.”

Finishing the Radical Experiement!

Seeing my favorite band (Page CXVI) in concert.

Highschool graduation!

MEXICO!

“I wonder what homeless people talk about….”

“He does not try to pass the time but sits down and lives.”-Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen

“And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.”-Dumbledore

Anything this side of Hell is pure grace.

“It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”-Lamentations 3:27

“We could get into trouble,” Isabel.  “That’s how you know it’s an adventure!” Hugo (Hugo, the movie.)

“Quiet your mind, hear what the land has to say,”-Zac Brown

Don’t cry “peace” in the good times only to yell for war when something doesn’t suit you.

It’s not that I am crying,  it’s just that hot tears are falling from my eyes because it hurts so bad.

“…an aesthetic voyager struggling to destroy the beast within,” Chris MccCandless.

NOMADS.

“The compassion we feel when we see the bad things going on in the world is not humanism, it is God’s spirit,” Jamie Zumwalt.

A glowing jellyfish-larva fight on the beach late in the evening.

Bloodshed follows bloodshed.

We cannot take back the way we treat others.

“You are waiting. I am smoking.”-Sherlock Holmes, A Game of Shadows.

I feel the sun. It soaks into my bones. My toes curl with gravel between them. The thoughts in my head are as transparent as the cloudless sky. Wind whips hair sharply around my face. Literal truth: I am on the floor in my bedroom. Soul truth: I am on a great red peak in the midst of a canyon wonderland. Ah, imagination power.

We cannot apply the distraction of politics to our faith.

Watching old friends struggle through ancient issues, and holding them while they cry.

“Let us love our God supremely, let us love each other too…”-George Atkins, “Brethren We Have Met to Worship.”

“I’m sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.”-J.D. Salinger

“You’ve got such an old soul to you.”

My prayer is for the people who have decided that death is preferable to life.

“The Christian, when he dies, catches hold of Christ’s garment, and Christ bears him into Heaven,” Charles Spurgeon.

“Sad parting promises fresh adventure.”

Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller.

“No Heaven will be so sweet as a Heaven preceded by torments and pains,” Charles Spurgeon.

“All the little man on the witness stand had that made him any better than his nearest neighbours was, that if scrubbed with lye soap, in very hot water, his skin was white,” To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

She who loves life can do anything.

I care about you more than I coud ever care about me.

“…that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.” 2 Kings 19:19b

“They don’t recognize you asl the adult that you are, but you probably just need to submit right now,” KimT.

“This too shall pass,” the Sadler.

The nearly-tangible blanket of peace that God wrapped around me as I left the children whom I loved with my entire heart to the care of their Jamaican school-teachers and caretakers.

Buying my truck.

“And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh,” John 6:51b

That’s my life; my year. Thanks for reading all the way down! I am being shaped for something big. Odds are you too are being shaped!

spoopsandyoyo@gmail.com

Do I Care?

Would I really?….

My grandmother has back pain. Terrible, crippling back pain. She literally must sit all day; sometimes she lays down if it gets intolerable. So my grandma, after a lifetime of working hard, and constantly being in motion, sits on the couch and watches TV. Unable to work full time as she always has. Unable to be comfortable. Now, her only joy in life is her family. The 5 minute phone calls that come once or twice a day; the Christmas visit. A once-independent woman now relies completely on others to take time from their busy schedules to stop by and make her smile. That’s her life.

I am young. I have much hope for my future: college, a career, kids, adventures. I have great friends, a handful of good jobs. I have a church community as well as my own truck and the ability to come and go wherever I please, whenever I please.

Would I, given the chance, trade with my Grandma? Would I turn away all the hope of my future for the sake of relieving her pain? Do I care that much?

Is she more important to me than…me?

I like to think so, but I know that I could not take on her burdens without sinning against her, and God, in the midst.

That’s the difference between me and Jesus. He did what I am incapable of doing. He looked down from perfection, saw pain and swirling torture. From my shoulders He willingly lifted the weight of Hell, and for 33 years He lived far from the perfection He deserved.

All for me.

All to free.

Dry Up For Me the Jordan

I am strong and Titan, she said.  She looked in the mirror and there was Strength.  A girl with no loyalty, only power.

I can do anything.  Here is what I can do for You, God. Let’s go!

Then God showed her a bit of Himself…twice.   She cried out:

All. All for and to You! Draw me nearer, You are the wind in my chest, the breathe behind my sails.

He stretched out His Heavenly hand and touched her.  She believed she was ready to go, sold out for His glory.  He knew it wasn’t time yet.  She was not broken enough.  He weakened her, let her be torn apart-limb from limb, dream from dream.  Physically, emotionally, socially, financially:  all fell away like sand in an hour-glass.  He wanted her to let Him take over in order that she become 100% His servant-slave.  But doubts crept into her heart; she looked in the mirror and the demons told her:

Weak. Undesirable.  You’ll never be happy, worthless girl.

She believed them for a moment and the pain rolled over her like a cement truck until her Saviour renewed the Divine hope within her soul:

Don’t give up, Beloved.  There is so much more to come.

He whispered to her heart:

This too shall pass.  Press on.  I am a God of miracles.

Life.  Real, extraordinary life is around the corner!

Life’s Lead Weight

The life He has chosen for me-

And I have agreed to-is going to be hard

It is not called the straight and narrow

Inaccurately.

This He tells me,

This I hear,

The lesson sinks deep into my stomach:

A lead weight

To last a lifetime.

Joy shines down to clarify the darkest of darks;

A broken Alleluia rolls off my tongue.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

Faith Is

Faith looks different in every stage of life. It morphs and changes each day. Life keeps us on our toes as we try and figure out what today’s faith looks like.

Right now, my faith is…

Believing that a perfect chain of events has led me where I am today.

It is not my fault-or any fault at all.

It is a Divine conspiracy.

Right now-here-is the destination.

Something great is going to happen.

This is not a dead end.

It is only a  rocky start.

This is not a preview of all the sorrows and struggles that my life shall be made up of.

Faith is getting affirmation from a God I cannot see because He alone understands what is going on.