a psalm of deliverance

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Refine my heart, in the hard and holy places, Oh Lord,

Lead me to the gates of peace.

You give my strength and consolation in affliction,

And never turn Your face from my pleas.

Though the earth trembles under my feet,

And thunder rolls in the mountains,

And the rising crests of waves yonder, as if looking,

Over a vast, greying graveyard,

Though my enemies crouch in my doorway,

And surround me in my weakest places,

You are with me.

Though my knees tremble under the weight of my transgressions,

And I struggle against the bonds that hold me low,

My soul rests in You alone.

I watch towering trees buckle under winter’s hand,

Formidable strength made weak by piles of white,

And they lay their arms along the broken soil,

Still my soul sings, and my heart rejoices,

For He carries me across thresholds of silver,

His almighty hand orders the stars to their heavenly places,

And the fire to cease destroying,

The hands of men to hold back their evil schemes.

 

Yea, though I bend under the melting snow,

He holds me up, and I take roots where hearts may fail.

Let us draw near to Him,

For every breath is a hallelujah.

(This was a poem that we wrote for our Aesthetics class, which we were instructed to make similar to a Psalm.)

~*~

I have to say, this past year has been rocky and burdensome at best – this poem being an offspring of those struggles. And now that it’s December, I can look back at the previous months and see more and more clearly God’s hand through it all.

So if you’ve been struggling too, I just want to give you encouragement that even though you can’t see how things can get better, they do. And then things will get worse again. And then it’ll get better. Because that’s just how life is – unpredictable.

But you know what? The Lord is with us through it all, and He sees us through.

So goodbye 2016 – God is in control.

be still.

These precious hours seem to run by without a wince or a breath.

As the days get shorter, the cold becomes impenetrable, and the pale morning sun begins to settle behind fog veils on distant mountains, I find that my anxieties and stresses have multiplied – and no wonder. I’ve allowed myself, once again, to be caught up in my own shortcomings, responsibilities, and burdens, rather than leaving them where they belong at the feet of Jesus.

I suppose I’m just ready to be free of these weary bones I’ve become.

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So many nights I lay awake, expectations weighing heavy, questions begging to be answered, when it seems that no answers can be found.

And I’ve heard that all we have to do is be still.

But how? I wonder. What does that even mean? How can I ‘be still’ when my heart is pounding against my chest, awaiting my next big mess-up, or watching the news and shaking my head, not understanding how anything could be as it used to, or rushing to this meeting, worrying about that person, constantly pulling over for ambulances, holding a crying child, fighting the feelings we all know, but never talk about – how can I have this peace, this ‘be still and know’? ‘Know’ what?

That He is God.

That I am incapable. That I am weak. That I am weary. But that His strength takes root where hearts may fail.

To know that He is God, is, essentially, to understand that nothing is outside His hand. That nothing breathes without His breath. The very breath we sigh with, the sharp inhales of our sobs, the same breath we draw to utter curses against the bitter circumstances we are in … were given to us. But sometimes all we can do is stand still until the rage withers, waiting, waiting, until we meet the edge of ourselves.

This is where it starts – and ends. Perhaps we may not fully understand, or even fully desire God’s will over our own, but we can trust that the Author knows what He’s writing.

While I am still learning that the sun also rises, I’m taking a moment to be still, and say, “Thy will be done”.

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the things i wish i could say

Oh, how many times I have dreamed of being more than I am. Of being the person I wish I was. Of saying the things I wish I could say.

But words – such wispy, phantom things. And yet they have a way of either weaving the fraying strands of your happiness or ripping you apart.

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People always tell me that I am good with words, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They read what I’ve written, edited, and perfected in countless hours and tell me it must come easy to me. It doesn’t.

I walk up onto the stage, stare into bright lights, speak my heart, they applaud, I bow, and everything moves on. They tell me how gifted I must be and all I can manage is to murmur a thank you, and my words stumble over each other and they look surprised – disappointed even. Because not everything is as it really seems, and I am not the powerful wielder of words that they think I am, that I wish I was. When given a paper and pen, and the good part of the day, I may manage to write something that makes sense. But ask me a question in person, and I freeze. I stare, in silence, dumbfounded, no words coming to my aid for any coherent thought in my head.

The strongest desire of my heart is, that somehow or in some way, I could harness the power of words and use it to repair hesitant hearts, hurting souls, or a broken world. And how many times has the opportunity come, that all rhetoric and words flee my mind? That I sit there, stupidly, at a loss, grasping for phantom words hanging in the air between us to soothe and repair, only to end up mumbling something about God’s sovereignty or grace, and then sitting there in helpless silence.

Have you ever felt the brokenness of the world? Have you ever had to talk to a mother who spent sleepless nights surrounded by the rush of nurses and bright lights and white walls, watching her newborn covered in tubes and IV’s struggling to breathe? Or maybe it’s an older woman, crying into your shoulder after confiding about her abusive past which she still hasn’t recovered from. A hurting friend who doesn’t see how things can possibly get better. Or an 11 year old asking the tough questions you’ve wondered the answers to yourself.

And sometimes you question the extent and power of Christian love when words fail? I do. Sometimes I really do. If the balming, healing power of words can’t soothe, then what can?

But maybe, perhaps, that is enough. Maybe – maybe I have no power over words, or can’t summon my writing muse on command, but maybe … the truth of the gospel and of God’s unconditional love is enough, because really, when it comes down to it, we’re all just walking each other home.

As Christians, we are not called to always be able say the right things, to be skilled rhetoricians, or to have perfect eloquence. We are called to speak the truth of the gospel and to reach out to the needy with the open arms of Christ’s love. No special rhetoric. No fancy words. No perfectly scripted speech. Feeling incompetent or helpless in those situations doesn’t disqualify us from being used by God.

In the end, you listened and you loved and you cared and, sometimes, that is enough.

one thousand gifts

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–> deep conversations with strangers

–> thunder storms

–> apples & cheese

–> frank sinatra

–> big, old books

–> babies🙂

–> answered prayer

–> valley of vision

–> music from west side story (esp Maria❤ )

–> graduation!

What have been your gifts lately?