justice and righteousness

imageThere is a deep chasm in my mind where words hang on eerily suspended hooks,

unattached…

waiting to be strung together in a poetic sequence of thoughts.  Words like justice, righteousness, cultivate, understood, grace…and then there is this,

Surely there is a mine for silver and a place where they refine gold.  Iron is taken from the dust and copper is smelted from the rock.  Man puts an end to darkness, and to the farthest limit he searches out the rock in gloom and deep shadow.  He sinks a shaft far from habitation, forgotten by the foot; They hang and swing to and fro far from men….he hews out channels through the rocks, and his eye sees anything precious.  He dams up the streams from flowing, and what is hidden he brings out to the light.

But where can wisdom be found?  Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living.  The deep says it is not in me, and the sea says, it is not with me.  Pure gold cannot be given in exchange for it, nor can silver be weighed as its price…

Where then does wisdom come from?  And where is the place of understanding?  Thus it is hidden from the eyes of all living and concealed from the birds of the sky.

God understands its way, and He knows its place…and to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.'”  Job28:1-4, 12-15, 20, 21, 23, 28.

And there was none like Job…suffering out of his righteousness, understanding the fear of the Lord was far more precious than the worth of pure gold,

or his skin, or the living breath and beating hearts of his children, or the security of herds of cattle, or the respect of the love of his life....

and he described the search…

and how they carved…

in gloom and deep shadow…

and came up lacking

But Job knew

and he would not recant.

Its been awhile since words have made their way out of the deep channels of my mind, down through the tips of my fingers dancing over keys, tapping out what I hope and pray radiates something true,

and craved,

and mysterious about God.  So I hew out channels where words swing to and fro across the shadowy ghosts of syllables and somehow they find themselves here for anyone to read and to contemplate and to wonder…

and to seek for themselves.

Paul Washer once said this is how he views himself as a servant of God called to preach the Word, searching for words, within the mine of Scripture, that will pierce the souls of men.  How we agonize over what will make God glorious and the sinful heart of man repulsive.

like mine.

and then I realized there were things I thought I cared about, that I didn’t,

like justice and righteousness,

so I hammered and stuck dynamite down into those words until they blew up all over my conscience and imbedded their shrapnel so deep into my heart until each breath felt like pain in sorrow and repentance. And I realized, if I were to fear God, I would surely fear not being obedient to His call to justice and righteousness toward the fatherless and the single parent, and the alien, and the afflicted who God holds a special love and care for.

And we are commanded to,

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.” Proverbs 31:9  And to reflect the heart of God who,

“…makes a home for the lonely and leads out the prisoners to prosperity.” Psalm 68:6. And…

“to administer true justice, show mercy and compassion to one another.  Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the immigrant or the poor.” Zechariah 7:9-10.  And…

“The Lord your god defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.”  Deuteronomy 10:17-18.

and then I opened my mouth wide and spoke forth a 15 year vision that had pounded itself out in miles, under Asics, measured by prayers as I ran the streets of New Richmond,

and I asked the souls knit to mine to pray that if this were God’s vision, He would move it from our hearts to the land in which we dwell so that we might cultivate faithfulness to our God as we care for the unborn and the women who carry them.

and we are becoming The Weaver’s Hands…

a home, safe and warm, where the love of Christ abounds, and we grab the hands of the rape victims, the abused, the afflicted, the hungry, the homeless, those running from abortion, and we fling open our doors and say, “Come!” We have a room for you here!  We have food for you and your unborn child! We will shelter you! We will show you the love of our Abba Father that heals and infuses a mysterious hope with an unmistakeable fragrance of life for the both of you! You are safe and you are finally home.

Our name is derived from Psalm 139:13-14, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.  I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Our mission: We believe every life in uniquely and purposefully created by God.  It is our mission to defend the unborn and to support the women who carry them.

I want to be like Job, who did not recant, and who’s wisdom and righteousness far exceeded those who focused on his suffering as a result of his guiltless sin.

Because he “delivered the poor who cried for help, and the orphan who had no helper…the one who made the widows heart sing for joy and who put on righteousness and it clothed him.  Whose justice was like a robe and a turban …who was a father to the needy and investigated the case which he did not know.” Job 29:12-14,16.

and in the holiest communions where my breath warms the carpet below my lips, and oil is being poured out over my head as I drink and imbibe deeply with the One who has taught me to understand His grace…this grace…this gospel that is constantly bearing fruit in me…I pray bears much fruit in the lives of the women The Weaver’s Hands will serve and embrace.

And so as we wait official recognition from the IRS as a non-profit organization and plan our beginning fundraisers, would you consider committing with me to praying for The Weaver’s Hands?  A maternity home for young women abandoned and afraid.  A home that will offer them the love of Christ, education, parenting classes, discipling, counseling, vocational and domestic skills, adequate nutrition, adoption options, etc…

If you want to learn more, feel free to email me at pedersn@frontiernet.net and find out how you can become a partner with The Weaver’s Hands and support us in prayer or financially.

Hidden in Christ,

trish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rescuer

The Rescuer

I didn’t always love Him. To love Him meant to follow Him, and truth be told, I followed every shallow desire but Him. He wrote His name on my heart when I was seven, but I understood love to be captured on a stage. If I performed, I was loved; rewarded. Good grades, making the cheerleading squad, honors in band, having the right friends, and following all the rules equated with acceptance. It was early in my teens when I grew tired of the performance. At 14 I drank something from a mason jar that burned my throat, and though I hated the taste, I loved the euphoria. The fire flowing down extinguished the performance, if just for a night.

At 17 and pregnant someone came to call. He was of short stature, rounded in the middle with waves of white on top. He walked slow and crooked up our washed out gravel drive, unhurried. He held in his hand something he said was just for me. A brochure with a cross inviting me to come, and rest from my weary running. “He loves you, you know?” And then he was gone. I didn’t even know I ran from the God who hounded, wildly…furiously. I gave off an aroma of pride mingled with shame and the scent of a God who gave up. I ran to places I never thought Jesus would go,

like the abortion clinic.

So there I sat, in a room filled with women decorated with brilliant threads of ethnicity. Sisters banded together by an Image, surrounded by husbands, boyfriends, mothers and friends all in support of a woman’s choice. Some holding shaking hands as whispers soothed the common ground of fear barred behind steel hearts. Some stared at the floor, while others leafed through magazines too ashamed to look up and meet another sister’s eyes.

Maybe if someone would have told us we were all sisters we could have looked deep enough into one another’s broken souls, joined hands, and with borrowed bravery opted out of all this…together.

At age 20 and on my third pregnancy, I had been listening to the same voices the rest of these women had been listening to, voices promising freedom for an all clear future. Clear of responsibility, clear of unwanted multiple children, clear of single-parenting. These voices helped to drown out the whisper hush of bones forming, hearts whooshing, brains weaving. Their language bore no sound, but if we were still long enough we could hear them, expand with them. The voices all around sold us freedom. A small price if we remained deaf to the ones void of speech.

And there I sat in a room filled with women shutting out the life forming quiet. All seeking the same answers to the one question we had anguished over for hours, days, weeks, “Should I have an abortion?” Somehow on this day we found ourselves in the middle of all that was wrong dressed up in right. It was then someone said my name, and there it hung…somewhere in between two rooms. I ached to stay in the room where I was drowning in sick and shame, the air thick with the stench of leaking blood and spilling hearts. I knew what would happen in the room beyond this circle of chairs,

a room where the knitting of lives were unraveled, falling into Hands of holy. I was desperate for a way out.

Once inside, I was told to undress, put on a gown and get comfortable on the table. As I laid there with knees raised, awaiting the routine ultrasound before the procedure, I turned my head to the side and scanned the line of sterile instruments, each in its place, orderly. Forceps small enough to enter through the small round of a cervix, yet powerful enough to crush a tiny skull lay next to a vacuum. The smell of disinfectant masked the invisible trail of intermingled blood of babies and mamas on the cold steel underneath of me.

Remember, it’s just a blob of tissue.

“Six weeks,” he said, and then he was gone. Time stood still as I began to drown in waves of emotion, His breakers washing over me. I was desperate for a life line, our life line. Was there any way out?

Halfway up the middle of a whispered prayer, the nurse returned and brought with her words of freedom. “We cannot let you have this procedure. In reviewing your information, we see you have a short history of taking anti-depressants, and it’s against our policy to grant an abortion to anyone who has been treated for depression without consent from the doctor who prescribed the medication.” It was like one giant love-wave swept in and ushered me out in a violent rush of grace. The One who releases captives and takes them captive for His glory had unshackled me; my bonds burst. I had walked in bound, oblivious to policy, hoping to gain freedom in exchange for a life. But it wasn’t the exchange of my baby’s life that bought my freedom that day, it was the exchange of Christ’s life for mine.

Jesus stooped low and drew a line in the sand for me that day. He roared and called me home. He has been rescuing me ever since. I’m not sure why I was spared from an abortion that day. In my mind I had already committed the act. So I stand with sisters who grieve what was and proclaim to them that no sin is too dirty, no heart too broken, no spirit too crushed, no human will a match for Love on a cross. Take my hand, and take His life.

Sleep or Savior?

So it’s been awhile, cuz those holidays hit like a whirlwind and kind of make a giddy mess that takes time to clean up.  It was a good mess, a grand mess, a sweet mess, as our rain bird was home from college and brought with her a house-guest for six days.  We baked, I chopped, and diced, and boiled and fried and filled that guest’s belly and made him mighty satisfied. Cuz that’s how I love much of the time, satisfying bellies.

But I’m back updating this blog where I spin words and hope to brighten them with vibrant color, soften them with shades of earth, and still them with glass blue so maybe the canvas of them will hang in the backdrop of your mind somewhere, if God uses them to paint truth into your life.  So here I go….

Denial is a funny thing.  It takes the hand of self-absorption and runs head on into false hope.  I know because I’ve slipped my own wretched grabbing fingers into the hand that looked like comfort, looked like more…

somehow looked good and better…like what they have.

And so, unsatisfied with words of love, spun in truth, dripping with fatness, breathed out in a holiness meant to shake the ground on which I stand… these words…

no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (psalm 84:11...)

holy words…

sharp words…

wounding words…when you are tempted to believe He is a God who keeps from you,

not only challenged my faith, deepened my wonder, and stilled my insatiable chasings…

they blew up my love in a way that the scattered pieces somehow fell into place somewhere between heaven and earth…and hung there…

on the symphonic tones of a love song.  

Some of us move from trial to trial in this life.  Some of us resist and some of us simply sway to the rhythm that leads in chords of love.  Listen to the words of that old ancient psalter inspired by living Spirit breath,

Oh Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me.  

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

Oh Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever”  Psalm 131.

In many ways I am one who has moved from trial to trial in this life,

walking in Wisdom’s shadow, cocooned in the night, breathing in a Holy exhale.

Some trials have undoubtedly rocked the corners that connected and held everything together…that four-cornered box that made sense. Unshakeable ground seemed to tremor and quake, threatening the sureness of steady feet. Like my first-born’s brain that got all shook up like a bowl of jello inside her skull when she hit that tree…ten years ago.  One life-changing event gave birth to residual on-going trials.  Health has been threatened, marriage has dipped its toes so far into selfishness there has only been enough oxygen for one, as waves of that old false hope and greener grass suffocated.

And those locusts have had themselves a feast on the soggy scraps of our drowned out union.

And here I sit so wrapped and swaddled in inexpressible joy, clothed in favored righteousness, that when I read words that have life,

and grant life

and grow life,

and EXPLODE life, like…

“…Oh You who hear prayer...” my deep gets all stirred up and finds its way out down my face during that dark. fourth. watch….the one just before that soft glow reflects off frozen snow.

Because don’t tell me He isn’t near, and that He doesn’t uphold all things together, and that He didn’t know me before I was born and set me apart and choose for me to be knocked off my throne of self and blown over by a love force so strong I can’t stand.  Don’t tell me He isn’t in control of every detail of my life and spoke my name before sperm and egg united, and has carried me from the womb into these years that mark themselves with strands of gray,

and sagging skin,

…Don’t tell me when He takes away He isn’t giving back 100 fold in joy and peace and hope and love and soul-knit relationships and a composed and quiet soul that finds its rest in His sovereignty and lovingkindness that can never be taken from me.

Don’t tell me that God of Moses and Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Job, Paul, Peter, James and John….doesn’t love me so fiercely He will stop at nothing to shape me into the image of His only and most Holy Son.  Even if that means trials…

and taking…

and pruning…

and sharpening…

and sleepless nights….as of late.  Cuz those sleepless nights challenge my comfort and ask…

what do I crave more?

Sleep or Savior?  

and then my soul waits quietly for my God more than the watchmen for the morning,

YES, MORE THAN THE WATCHMEN FOR THE MORNING! and that symphonic love song plays over me, and hems me in, in the dead of night…and I meditate on my bed in stillness…and trust that…

no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly…”

and my soul is composed.  Because I agree with the One who commands the morning, and gives to me life and breath and sleep, and tells those proud waves where to stop, and wounds and heals, and restores, and feeds the sparrows and clothes the lilies…in that dew drenched valley,

and set His gaze on me and made this wretched woman the object of His love.

I agree with the One who wrapped up more of Himself in brain injury, and sickness, and crashed into the two who kept their haughtiness prized like a trophy on a shelf, and shattered it so we can experience that gift of humility and servanthood and keep serving and loving and bowing as we sway like a pendulum on the Strong Cord that wove itself into us.

And those soul-knit relationships, you know the ones…the ones you call upon to say your name under that torn veil to the One who hears prayer...(Psalm 65).

When you ask and say….”I want to stay by my man at night and be blessed with sweet sleep and wake tangled up as two…will you pray for me?”

You can be sure they will pray, and that God will hear,

and that sleep will come, like it did last night,

and we were watched and held by God. 

 

less than pumps and pencil skirts?

The other night I walked into a room of people that scare the dickens out of me.  I’m not sure what “the dickens” are, but whatever they are, they were cowering and trying to find a place to hide, but the room was swarming with people and the dreaded question was inevitable. At some point within the next 2.5 hours, I would have to answer.   Pencil skirts and pumps have a way of making me feel “less than,” and I shrink when they move toward me.  Maybe it’s that they physically tower over me, or maybe I’ve come to believe that the sparkly intellect sitting atop the business attire somehow dwarfs my mind’s occupation of trying out the Pioneer Woman’s latest recipes, and scrubbing toilets.  These lovely women are paid for what they know and I “just” volunteer my services, lowly as they appear.

And there it is, that pesky little word that has somehow become my safeguard due to it’s familiarity.  By safeguard, I think I mean it gives off some sort of persona that speaks, I know my job isn’t as important as yours, but it’ll do for now…as if I plan on doing something more important than caring for the four other people closest to me sometime in the very near future.  I’ve trained my brain to say it over and over again so that it has become habit, and there it landed, in the middle of that room filled with suits and glitter…”I just stay home…” was my response to two prominent business women’s question.  Suddenly, I felt very small and the need to defend why I stay home, especially since all three of my children are grown.

I’m convinced everyone waited for me to go to work when all of my children were in school.  I was even more sure they thought, surely she will go to work when her kids are teenagers.  What must they think now that all three of my children will be in their 20’s in less than two months, and here I sit?

Truth be told, sitting is for writing, and if I’m not writing, I ain’t sittin!  And when I ain’t sittin’ honey, I’ve got an unending list of work that is never quite finished.  That list, well, things get crossed off it from time to time, and scribbled ideas get added, and oils and onions and runaway fixin’s from dinner preparations stain it…but that list, is anything but “just” a list.  That list is a list of love, and when I act on that list, it’s a labor of love, and when those two grown men I care for that share this sanctuary, we call home, with me are the recipients of that labor, and the two daughters come home and smell those familiar smells and know right where they can find mom…

well, this upside down crash and burn world can stop itself for a moment in order to grant some revivin’ to the weak, some restorin’ to the tired, some fondness of the sweetness of “same” to the ones who always have to face the new out there, some refreshin’ to the empty.

And the world can just keep on light speeding itself into wherever it’s racing outside the four walls of this nest the goose and I have built…

and fought for…

and cherish…

and want to extend…

and from now on if you ask me that question that made those dickens run like chickens,

“What do you do?”

I’ll refrain from preceding my answer, “I stay home” with the word “just” because that silly little word steals the worth right out of what I do.  It’s definition means, merely or only….

as if somehow I did more it would make me more interesting, more worthy, more anything but a crazy in love husband lover, grown kid lover, and brothers and sisters in Christ lover (who get some of me regularly, too).

and since Titus 2 is a raging passion of mine next to loving Jesus with every ounce of me, I take seriously my charge to teach those younger women how to be husband and children lovers.  And if we’re all gonna do this thing…we ought to understand that word “love” in the good ol’ Greek, instructed to us in Titus 2:4-5, means an affectionate kind of love, then we best understand how to be affectionate…

which means to be devoted to with a fondness for.  I don’t know about you, but when I devote myself to something, I’m all in….and if God has told me to devote myself to loving my husband and children and keeping a close watch over my home, any outside energies would mean the goose and those twenty-something kids would get “less than” God’s grace through me unto them.

That’s all for now folks…cuz ya see, it’s the Christmas season, and I tend to get a little wild in my plannin’ and preparations come this time of year. The rain bird will fly (drive) home from college for a few weeks, and the southern Pedersons will arrive all the way from Little Rock AR, and I’m guessin’ they could use some home cookin and lovin too.

But I’ll be back, God willing.

in awe of what the shepherd’s saw,

trish

 

this is how you breathe

This is a follow-up letter from our our women’s retreat in October, but really it is for everyone who knows…

We cannot breathe without Christ.

Dear Beloved,

It was a lovely weekend, wasn’t it? I planned it all, you know, perfectly, sovereignly, for you.  I wanted it to be special, all the details, carefully and lovingly sorted through.  My thoughts are always precious towards you, you know?  I love you so much the sand grains on the mighty shores of My ocean’s boundary lines do not outnumber how much I think about you.

Every. Single. Day.

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You are always on my mind.  I loved you before you knew Me.  I thought about you before your mama carefully formed each letter of your name, swirled in ink, a signature handwriting belonging only to her, across that page. Angelic beings stooped in awe as she ran the tips of soft-skinned fingers over the outline of letters, in love and anticipation of the day I would let air touch your wet skin, and they asked, “Another one, God?”  “Yes,” I answered, “another one added to us,

fashioned solely for her First Love,

sent forth on mission, equipped to serve,

isn’t she beautiful?”

Your first cry was a cry of rebellion…a tiny fist raised against Providence,

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and I loved you.

I secured and ordained each day of your life and wrote it down in Heaven’s book.  Most of your days were walked out in self-rising, desires that fed your flesh, wants that robbed our intimate and familiar conversations, distractions that made you forget My scent.

My hands are sheathed in wet clay and I delight in the spinning of your life.  I have fired you in the furnace of affliction, and whispered, “Return to Me with all your heart…surrender to My design.”

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And so I set aside days and times and a season on a sprint into color, brisk with the entrance of Autumn, warm with leftover summer sun, seasoned in fever heat, to remind you that…

I wrote your story…, don’t shut the book, don’t let it collect dust.

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When dust settles, we forget.  But it’s almost as if forgetting is safe. But safety in forgetting means ignoring traces of my Father hands sculpting a masterpiece.  My invisible fingerprints riddle your life, can you see them?  Love your story because I wrote it, not because you are

the star, 

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or the victim, 

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but because it was woven together in holy threads of color, sewn in glory,

by ME.

I often plan special events for my beloved children to remind them of My great love poured out in living blood, leaking through open tears of ripped flesh, running down a trail of holy washing.. A lifeblood that never dries up.  A vine that never withers.  A lion whose roar never wanes.

He roared

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And you ran home, and fell in His arms, unashamed, and He led you in a holy dance, that felt effortless…you inhaled Him and let Him sweep and dip and twirl you until you lay in His arms,

sweetly satisfied.

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He was as close as your breath and your heart joined in unison to His steady, rhythmic beats of Divine pulse.  There was no place on earth you would rather be,

you couldn’t look away. 

The irresistible fire in His eyes locked you in with an intense, arousing love. This was your time…you felt His holy kiss and He fastened Himself to you.

The music is still playing

Can you hear it?

Turn down the noise of the day and turn up His song,

The one He plays for you just before dawn… 

He has been singing over you as you rest in perfect trust….

Wake up and run with Him! Feast on words and the sweet juice of pomegranates, drink deeply and imbibe until you are intoxicated with His love.

This is how you pour out into those who are clawing at every last bit of tethered hanging strength you have.  This is how you:

Keep loving

Keep serving

Keep giving

This is how you breathe.

This is how you respond in love to a harsh comment

Or a whiny child

Or a rebellious teenager

Or a needy neighbor

Or an angry brother or sister

Or the betraying friend

Or the pastor who doesn’t respond

Or the church who hurt you

Or the mother or father who forsake you and sided with another

Or the selfish husband

Or the unbelieving spouse

Or the cruel teacher who hurt your child

Or the mentally ill

Or the poor who can’t find work

Or the hungry

Or those we judge because they are different

Or smell

Or smoke

Or who keep making the same wrong choices over and over

Or the thief

Or the cheat

Or the adulterer

Or the same-sex attracted

Or the prisoner

Or the addict

Or the drunk who ruins every family event

Or the brain injured

Or the child on that wild spectrum.

Fill up and drink from Jesus every day and pour out grace-laden buckets upon buckets on those who can’t see, or hear, or understand, or taste,

yet. 

The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.” (Psalm 25:14) 

“It will come about in that day, declares the Lord, that you will call Me Ishi (Husband)… (Hosea 2:16). 

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:9). 

“When I found Him whom my soul loves; I held on to him and would not let Him go…” (song of Solomon 3:4). 

Consumed in holy fire and intense Divine love,

Trish

 

“Tomorrow is none of my business”~ Elisabeth Elliot

She said, “do not forecast grief” and it got stuck somewhere on a pathway between an axon and a neuron in all that gelatinous gray matter that’s capable of more harm than good inside my skull, and the skipping sentence kept firing itself off every time I saw certain destruction in my future.  This statement flowed right off the tips of fingers that obeyed what her mind had come to believe, to trust, to hope in and to guard.  These same fingers extended in a sacred and transformable grace that physically touched the same savage murderers, a jungle tribe of fierce warriors, who speared down her first husband, the one who gave his life in order that they might hear, see, taste and touch Christ.  These broken and barbaric natives she would return to with her year-old daughter to continue her husband’s legacy of hope to go into all the nations shining the light of Christ.

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She married again and her second earthly love met Jesus face to face long before she would.  A woman of sorrows, and a woman of immovable and monumental faith.  I wish I knew her, but she passed this last year, leaving a legacy of biblical womanhood most of us will never measure up to, though I continue to strive.

I could reason all day long why my mind entertains visions of future grief. I mean its easy to do, isn’t it?  Us moms seem to be prone to being anxious, after all, our families depend on us, right? Take a breath here now before I give you the answer…

Wrong.

I could agree with modern psychology on the subject, recorded in scholarly journals, that argue nurture vs. nature, environmental influences, traumatic events in childhood, etc., are the root cause of my fears…

or, I could stand on ancient truth, swaddle my heart in sovereign Love and providence, and nestle under the wing of my Father, knowing He works out all things for my good and that “tomorrow is none of my business…” as this dear old pillar of Titus 2 echoed in many of her messages.

And so in the grief that was appointed along my path of 45 years and a few more weeks and days added to that, has taught me that my fears are rooted in the pride of desiring a control over that which only God sets in motion, and an unbelief that still sprouts stubborn in my own dark, uncultivated heart.

The reality is we all experience traumatic events that have the ability to shape our lives.  The first one I remember rings about as loud as that wall phone I answered when I was 10. That forever remembered phone call that interrupted our normal and safe American Christmas. I’ve answered two of those in my life now, one when I was just a decade old, the second 26 years later. But on the eve of celebrating Christ’s birth where Santa is no longer real, and you realize your parents go to great lengths to make Christmas everything your heart desires,

it rang.

Our home was warmed cozy with crackling burning oak, grandma’s familiar gooey bars of caramel, and  jovial bickering between dad and his mother-in-law over who belonged in the kitchen, chopping and dicing. Shiny boxes  riddled the floor overflowing from under the boughs of decorated evergreen, this was our storybook backdrop of  waiting.  We had planned and prepared for our familiar guests, we joyously awaited their arrival,

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but their chairs at the feasting table remained empty that year, their presents unopened.

I had waited in anticipation for my favorite uncle who was sure to bring more excitement and added fun to the season,

he always brought more fun…

but that drunk knocked his soul from his body that night instead….and left his family in a heap of twisted metal lying in the wake of  battered shiny wrapped boxes, now splattered with his blood.

How is that for a Christmas celebration?

Do not forecast grief.

And then a few short seasons later, you lose the home you grew up in, the one you still see 27 years later housing fond memories of a sliding hill, a two-story treehouse, a lit-up and bubbling jukebox in the basement where you and your friends danced to the fifties music still stacked inside of it. American greed and a crashing economy that gave rise to inflated interest rates, forced your family out of those four walls that made you feel safe.  This home, the one you still drive to down that old familiar road, where you first learned to navigate that 76′ Caddy, when you visit.

Do not forecast grief.

Then you begin your life as a single mom and meet the man of your dreams  and you’re diagnosed with a benign blood cancer in need of monitoring and constant testing and powerful medication in order to keep it in check so it doesn’t stop your heart or build a sticky dam of a clot and cut off your lifeblood between your brain and your heart, or lodge itself somewhere in your massive spaghetti highway of veins and arteries..

Do not forecast grief.

Ten years and three kids later you fear you are losing your mind as you suffocate under the weight of anxiety and paralyzing fear and it knocks you down into your bed where you stay for two weeks, fighting for every breath and a sane and sound mind.

Eight months later your firstborn slams herself into that interstate tree, still standing…that seems to be stronger than your marriage that fell apart under the weight of it all. And a decade into everything you’ve learned to gauge in time according to either before or after the accident, is inching you forward in a ten-year recovery.  Breathing is getting easier now.

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Do not forecast grief.

And now you are afraid to hope for normalcy,

and a season of rest. 

and yet God says there is a season for everything, and you hope this is your season, and you pray this is your season, and your tears reflect past pain juxtaposed against unexplainable peace and a holy sewing of satisfaction in the appointed grief.

Because in the margin of that Holy sword that you open up morning after morning, the one that keeps piercing you and carving into your soul…the one where you wrote on the first page of James:

“My Trials and the teaching of God”

  • Blood Condition /taught me to trust every day of my life is recorded in His book.
  • Anxiety and depression/taught me who God is instead of who I thought He was.
  • Hannah’s accident/taught me intimacy with Christ and submission to His holy will.
  • An eight month long digestive illness that caused constant pain/taught me God’s discipline and the sweet love He has for His children.
  • Ongoing marriage trials/taught me to love God more than my husband and to keep serving and loving.

And you know that He indeed did work all things together for your good and His glory and taught you that this,

“momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” 2nd Corinthians 4:17-18.

And you come to believe its not your trials that shape you, but the God of the universe whose heart is kind and whose thoughts towards you are precious, is the one who perseveres you through each affliction in order that you begin to look more and more like His Son.

And your heart that once fell out of the nest and hit the ground way too fast and too hard,

is now soaring at the thought of radiating Christ and giving off a holy scent that awakens others who can’t pick their hearts up out of the dirt.

And you stop forecasting grief,

because tomorrow is none of your business,

and today you smell good to somebody, and that life-giving aroma, that scent of a holy mystery that emanates from your pores, that fragrance that smells like the pleasing oils of a King…

someone will catch a whiff,

and breathe His breath,

and rise out of their death slumber.

And the words of Christ will sink into those stubborn fear roots and cultivate the truth that will eventually choke them out and set you free,

“do not be anxious for tomorrow for tomorrow will take care of itself…” 

Tomorrow is the Father’s business, it always was,

and He is a good, good Father.

and you finally believe you can rest in today.

Held, consumed in hot breath and living love of Christ,

trish

we fit

I noticed it when you slipped your fingers into the soft hollow of my palm, that familiar fit, safe and warm on that Sunday morn last week.  22 years long of sweet sameness, warming one another, exchanging a living heat, created for a lifelong together. The beats in my chest tapered off and a gentle sigh escaped the upward satisfied curve of my lips in response to the slipping in of your fingers.  This was right, and in that moment nothing was wrong.  “This is my gift,”  I thought, “the best earthly gift, given to me to enjoy, play hard with, rest tangled with, wrestle angry with, cry shattered with, laugh til we heal with,

and  it reminded me why covenants are kept by the Keeper,

not the ones who throw away.

Cuz truth be told, we would all throw one another away if it were left up to us.

If there’s one thing we’re good at…

it’s garbage,

and our hearts have become the landfill….

a thick stench rising,  choking out hope, until we are offended by one another.

As if bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh are dispensable,

When we are done with them we can always get a new one, well cuz, this one just isn’t working so well for me, or for us, anymore.

yeah, it’s all a bunch of garbage.

My eyes opened on you one day so many calendars ago, and I loved you.  There was no way around it, really. After they saw you, they kept looking for you, scanning rooms, crowds, bars, in hopes that you would walk in, because when they found you everything in me moved with an energy belonging to an anticipation, filled with excitement, pressing into the unknown.

You noticed me about as quick as I noticed you and the days leading up to our first exchange of awkward words and fumbled touch served only to feed our desires to be known by the other. After all these years, we still find ourselves sinking into the knowing.

We were made for each other, you and me…

We fit.

And then you sang to me before you even said hello.

Who does that?

Our raisings and origins and values were worlds apart.  Yours was pride and responsibility, mine was a different kind of pride mixed with belonging to a strange and foreign tribe and tongue….people who believed Jesus meant what He said and moved in sync to that invisible love…

even when our house was cold deep in Wisconsin frozen, we still shared meals,

and opened our doors.

and that mother-in-law of yours, well…

she taught me to pray

and to fight

for you,

and for us,

and I never saw anyone believe holy words in that ancient book, like her,

and 18 years of that

shaped me for you.

Providence is a strange and mysterious thing and our lives are riddled with prints of holy and breaths of wind led out through glory.

Before these four eyes locked into one another, with the latching of a promise not to look away,

they prayed for you…you know the ones, those other parents belonging to the same tribe who thought you might marry their daughter.

And he prayed for you…

The smoking Catholic priest who opened his home to two best friends a country away from home fresh green out high school, a bit too brave, with invincible confidence, the two of you. And look at both of you now, following after Christ….

These praying ones, these were the ones who cherished life and eternal souls housed in sin-wracked bodies. Cuz they knew how to bow their own sick-shackled frames down low, breathe in dirt and exhale a cry for help.

And somehow

they got all tangled up in the shaping of our joining through cries halfway up the frail pulse of their prayers, where God stooped low to meet them.

And amazingly it all fit in a giant puzzle that’s so hard to put together at times. It often just sits there waiting for someone to start working on it again, connecting pieces until beauty and purpose take shape,

until you see it’s Designer.

And I cry when people won’t work at the puzzle and throw away the most valuable pieces,

like trials, and sadness, and crushed dreams…and shattered people.

And the most important pieces of it all,

each other.  

So the Keeper, the Designer of the pieces, the ones He made to fit together into something lasting, reflecting beauty, radiating intense divine pulsing love…He’ll take our pieces that we can’t seem to find where they fit anymore, and gently press them in for us.

Cuz the cross made us all fit.

And that thought we’ve all believed from time to time, that something, anything , is better than my life,

this marriage….

It doesn’t fit! Cuz somehow pieces of another puzzle got mixed in with yours and it doesn’t belong!  Throw it away and search for the one that fell out and is hiding at the bottom of the dark closet of your heart, the missing piece, it’s still there!

Grace is calling and grace will give you the strength to seek and to find, but the way there is brutal.  The trail is marked with blood and leads to death.  Death of desires, death of dreams, death of wanting anything, everything, something, even one thing  more than Christ.

So my sweet goose, my best friend, my partner in toil and sewing and reaping, and healing from all of our wounding,

So. much. wounding.  

The Keeper of our “perfect fit,”

yeah, Him..when He woos me into that secret place morning after morning, when I leave my side of the bed, next to your side, and you roll over into that warm where my heat still lingers…

It’s there where He fills me, He heals me, forgives me, restores me, strengthens me, and satisfies me so that even when our edges fight our familiar groove,

yeah, We still fit.

I love you, Eric, you’re my goose and my groove.

Trish

Reformed? Charismatic? Reformed Charismatic?

I am currently pecking out intentional words  in a memoir and one of my life shaping sentences writes like this, “Charismatic expression, hellfire and brimstone are a mess of twisted sticks in my roots.  I’ve sorted through that tangled mass of doctrine, and by an invisible and mysterious grace kept the truths they taught,  and with some hard work and prayer sweat managed to dig out and discard the rest.”

I am burdened and pressed flat, rolled over and squeezed out as I write.  I find myself praying for revival continually. Wrestling like Jacob. Hoping like Abraham for Holy Spirit fire, for God to renew His wonders in our day, for an Acts 4 experience where walls shake when sons and daughter’s gather to pray and an anointing power pours out that empowers us to live a bold and ragged-raw gospel. I find myself praying for the body to operate in all of the gifts of the Spirit so that we function at optimal health,

so that not one is lacking,

and I am a five point Calvinist.

Yet, I long for the God of experience.

I burn.

I cry with Moses, “show me Your glory!”

 I want to walk roads of dust with Jesus,

and Peter,

and John,

and James,

and see miracles, touch his robe and be healed,

see the enemy defeated where it seems he has trespassed on holy ground, and I can’t help but believe,

it’s coming.

I believe there is a great divide that has left us fractured, as a global body of believers, in the magnitude of a 7.9 theological quake.

On one side we have charismatics with a fiery faith, believing in the God who responds while we are still praying (Daniel 9:23), and still grants words of prophesy that are meant to encourage and strengthen those who are disheartened, weary, feeble.  Words that reach out and gently lift a downward head toward Christ and say, “March on, Saint, the battle is the Lord’s, take heart,

The lion of Judah has roared!

Have we forgotten that we belong to an ancestry of those who bent for hours in ragged prayer, interlaced with unknown tongues on floors in intercession for the perishing and persecuted? The ones who still believe in the God who is the same yesterday, today and forever and still heals real life threatening diseases, abnormalities, deformities?

I envy their freedom to believe, and yearn for such childlike faith that knows,

their daddy can fix anything.

I love my Sovereign God who does whatever He pleases (Daniel 4:35)

and…

I believe in the hope of those who long to see Him renew His wonders in our day (Habakkuk 3:2).

I dance like David within the safety of my four walls free from judgmental staring and fear-filled stoicism.

I writhe on my floor in prayer and intercede in ways that leave me in awe of something beyond my humanness that believes God is responding to hearts He has already positioned to pray in faith, like this…

because He delights to answer and bends low to listen when we tell stories of answered prayer between miles and worlds,

riches and poverty,

 loneliness and belonging,

sickness and health. 

And in our lowly posture we grow ever more in intimate relationship with Him through aching knees and heavy hearts.

These words I pen stem from the fingers of a life that has shared in some of the sweetest of sufferings with Christ, and in my suffering hope rose,

out of gray dust and taught me to sing,

“whom have I in heaven but You, and besides, You I desire nothing on earth” (Psalm 73:25).

Still I pray the words of truth that have tattooed themselves on my frontal lobe in order that I will remember to pray them…”and God gave him rest on all sides… “(2 Samuel 7:1).

And I dare to believe in the God of Job,

who restores.

I pray with longing for the day when all is restored, and the curse is broken.  Yet there are caverns in my heart that echo, “I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:-13).

On the other side, could it be that we are indoctrinated to a fault so much so that we suffocate ourselves in the systemized study of theology and forget the supernatural God who revealed Himself through human hands that healed and gave Divine authenticity to the Jewish carpenter’s son through miracles and wonders?

This God who shook walls in prisons in response to praise, and cast out demons, and raised the dead, and healed the blind and the lame, and made well the sick.

We say our foundation is firm, but the one man has built upon below believers’ feet has quaked because its builders have labored on a theological fault-line that made us choose!

Is this a call to return to the God of the Bible? Could it be both sides are sick? Are we not a people who is to embrace the gospel as a whole so that we may be made whole?

To dance like David undignified with all his might?  He may have looked like one who had gone mad wildly thrusting his body about.  What would us stoic conservatists say if  we witnessed a King do that today?

or even our own pastor?

What happened to having the Spirit of David shape our hearts so that we do not move unless we first inquire of the Lord with an expectancy that He will answer and go before us?

Are we paralyzed with fear that if the Spirit shows up in an unfamiliar way people will run? But if we so embrace the Sovereignty of God then what could we possibly fear about that?  If we, reformers, believe nothing happens apart from His will, can we not embrace what might feel uncomfortable to us, trusting He does whatever He pleases on earth, turning men’s hearts any way He desires to?

If a man’s heart is turned to prophesy, are we not called to test the spirits and to keep that which is good, encouraging him in his gift? If one were to speak in an unknown tongue over us, would we tremble in awkward fear or wait expectantly for an interpretation from another?

If we say we have enough faith to believe in the sovereignty of God who raises up kings and tears them down and believes all suffering is for His glory and our good, can we not believe in the God who manifests the Spirit given to us as a pledge and a seal and with a power beyond reasoning? If we are truly filled with the power of God, why are we content to only see that which is humanly attainable?

and not dare to believe in the God who is able to do more than we can even ask or think?

Oh to believe like David who didn’t hesitate to listen for the Lord marching on the tops of balsam trees believing this Mighty God was on His way before him in order that he may slay an army and experience rest on all sides for a season. (2 Samuel 5:24).

And are we not a people to follow Paul’s example in shipwreck, in hunger, in poverty, in sleeplessness, in little, in prison, believing with a supernatural faith that the gospel is not imprisoned? And all this spins itself out in cracked jars so we see glory filled power housing itself in earthen vessels. Are we not the ones to share in the sufferings of Christ refined through molten fire?

Oh believer, God created us with a longing for more of Him.  For some, that means to long for more theology that they are lacking,

so that they may know God!

For others it means to long for more experience so that they do not shrivel up and die of thirst and hunger despairing because they have not heard, felt, tasted and seen His goodness pulled down by gravity, reaching through the body,

trembling in His presence.

We are to thirst for the living God.  If He is living, does that not mean that there is a divine energy within and around us that is meant to be experienced and known in Spirit manifestations that are meant to edify and offer hope?

The christian life is a complexity of blessing and suffering.  Gain and sacrifice.  Seasons of rest and seasons of an exhausting weariness.  Calendars of sickness and health,

like marriage.

Are we not betrothed to a Holy God who does whatever He pleases yet cares for us as a loving, cherishing and protecting husband?

Within this holy union between believer and Heaven’s King there will be times of ease and rest and renewal and blessing after blessing,

and times we are called to walk a dark road of suffering trusting Him for strength for each step, even when all we can do is crawl to the cross.  But the crawlers need the faith to believe that God is a God who heals and restores and meets needs and that Holy Spirit power will be poured out and fanned afresh if we consecrate ourselves to our living God and repent of our unbelief.

If our heart’s collectively cry with expectancy, “Show us Your Glory!” Resonating between the reformed and the charismatic, in humility gleaning from one another more riches of His glorious grace, may we then reach across the divide

extending  an invitation

to dance with one another, swaying to a holy harmony,

healing under Christ’s triumphant crescendo,

so that we may run like gospel warriors together conquering in Holy Spirit power.

whatever that looks likes.

praying for revival, burning with Holy Spirit fire,

trish

hidden treasure in chronic illness

This week has been one of those weeks…

a week where the new roll of toilet paper sits on top of the empty roll until the new roll runs out.

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It’s unlike me not to change it, but I have been distracted.  I have had to preach to myself in order not to give in to a theology of fear that threatens to rob me of my steadiness in a Sovereign God who reminds me that “all the days He ordained for me were written in His book...when as yet there was not one of them (Psalm 139:16).  

And that “He performs what is appointed for me…and will accomplish what concerns me.” (Job 23:14, Psalm 138:8).

Some things are hidden and stay hiding in dark places reeking of must or damp cardboard.  These things got put away with a heart that couldn’t let them go, wanting them to be remembered, relived, re-read, framed or even put on display.   But they didn’t mean as much to the ones who came later,

passing through marked decades...

these items laden with layers of our existence…

dust…

remind us of where we came from and to where we shall return.  They speak a language of fragility, that displays our human weakness.  Pictures fade, ink seems to disappear into the yellowing of aging paper of letters written by hands that ached to touch the one they were sending words to. Silver and brass tarnish…and the fingers that marked them and souls that took pleasure in them have since absconded,

while bones lie down in dirt.

But if we studied them long enough,

we would learn that there are invaluable treasures in the dark places.

Boxes that house years, that keep a steady moving in sync with seasons, that turn into centuries of unknown value.  Lives that beared an Image. Hidden treasure meant to be discovered.

So one day we climb stairs, or descend them, searching and rearranging and find ourselves disappearing into hours and afternoons remembering with sighs and tears and hope and spark and new discovery.

Eyes scanning, souls sinking deep into a life that was here…

and glistened in reflection of the Author of it all.

Invisible prints of feet in wet dirt walked here and then blew away.

But in the blowing,

the wind obeyed it’s Master’s course.

Not one life escaped His notice.  Nothing they left could stay hidden for long, even if that’s what they wanted.

They lived, they breathed, they ate, they drank, they touched what we now touch, remnants of their story, portions that leave us aching for more. They got sick, body rejecting, healed…returning.

And we are better for the remembering… savoring…

the discovery.

So how does a chronic illness remind us of treasures in dark places?

I was 30 when a routine blood test exposed hiding cells that tried to flee back into angry veins with every sharp stick of that shiny point.  But the plunge of the needle into skin and stubborn blue pathways found them,

the ones that work for our bodies when we get cut deep and bleed long.  They work to clot our blood, rushing in and swiftly adhering to each other,

saving us. 

But I had too many…way too many,

and the risk of a sudden clot lodging in my heart, lung or brain was too high. My bone marrow had kicked into overdrive and couldn’t shut itself down without help.

The bigger needle used to suck up marrow extracted from my hip, strong and hard from my year of running miles alongside mornings, would prove a challenge to the one who extracted its gelatinous substance.

And then we waited two weeks to hear words like,

benign, leukemia, stroke, heart attack, small doses of chemotherapy every day the rest of your life, small chances of cancer forming, and oh yeah, we don’t know the long term side-effects since we typically don’t use this medication for someone as young as you.  Twenty years long might not be desirable, but when your 60 and start it, its ok. Most of our patients are over 60.  

I was 30.

My blood disease kept hiding though…symptoms remained nameless and kept to themselves.  If they wanted to see this rare condition they had to keep sticking that same scarred over piece of peachy flesh covering one  ungratefully stubborn vein, so they did,

every eight weeks.

“And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me…”.

In His weaving of me, in a dark place inside my mother’s safe and tiny womb-house, He knew the day would come when this chronic illness could no longer hide, and that  He would bring it into light,

shining through aging cracks of an earthen vessel.

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That day would come drowned in tears and a fear chasing it back to yesterday where it didn’t exist, yet it would tenderly lead my trembling soul through a doorway of tomorrow that would unveil my greatest Treasure.

That door would open into a world of sight, taste, touch and sound my senses had not been aroused to.  Like the God who calls us into a living breathing relationship with Holy and discovers that even mutated blood flows intermixed with the divine energy of the One who breathed new life into me.

The Creator of time and light, and me and the worker bee, and the human-like emotion of the dolphin,  and lines drawn for seas, would continue to reveal Himself  to me through the lens of chronic illness.

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I learned that though I suffered loss in three miscarriages, that were probably all a result of my run-away marrow, He still appointed me two more babies to smell, and to press warm skin against mine.  To show them Jesus and see how He marked them and set them apart, and to show them how to live believing,

every day of their lives were ordained and written in His book.

When you are diagnosed with a chronic illness, everything you thought you controlled rolls away from you like mad thunder and strikes lightning in your soul that awakens a helpless dependency.  This dependency fights hard against natural desire and it bends you under its fierce wind.  This is an intentional bending…fashioned by Holy, formed by Love, shaped by gentle power,

clothed with gospel intention.

Chronic illness forces us to slow down…to slow down enough to hear that Voice without sound interrupt plans and schedules and dreams and work and play. It can force us to invest into people and places, like the sanctuary of home, and hostile relationships that  once seemed to run second or third or fourth in our all-in mad sprint toward being the winner, because we matter more.

If we are willing, chronic illness presses us to give up first place, come in last, and serve others who keep trying to win.

Chronic illnesses force us to not only be dependant on a Sovereign God, but to be humble enough to say, “no,” or to admit we need more rest, or listen to professionals that God uses to help write our stories for His glory, or to take medication we think we don’t need.

To not to listen could be to sin as we try and prove our invincibility that shapes itself into a destructive idol.

You hem me in…and have laid your hand upon me (Psalm 139:5).

Fifteen years of a powerful drug counting platelets, teaches me tomorrow does not belong to us and to not live-tomorrow-today/ .

Chronic illness taught me to breathe,

and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them, 

and live it without fear of the last  chapter, the last page, the last sentence. the Author is my Father, and He gives to me what is good.

My life verse has become, “Whom have I in heaven but You, and besides You, I desire nothing on earth.  My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and portion forever” (Psalm 73:25-26).

There is a treasure in this cracked jar of clay that houses this chronic benign blood disorder, and it is the reminder that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to me.

The theology of fear and the sovereignty of God simultaneously whisper, tomorrow does not belong to you…one steals joy, the other settles the future steadying you today.

So which voice will become your Treasure?

held, consumed, crazy in love with Jesus,

trish

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Sisterhood

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It was the deep freeze of the first month when they asked me to speak. There is a certain tribe of female descendents of Abraham that have let their hearts bleed into mine in a way that made us kin. Our messy pools of heart spill just sort of ran together that way and like a river flows into an ocean, we found our trails of blood intermingling and flowing into a sea of grace at the base of wood where Jesus hung. It is there where we were given a new language, holiness unspoken,

with every embrace

and softness of lips on cheeks…

and touch of aging skin wrapped around fingers…

that echoes “you belong to me now…”

These beautiful disciples, woven with softness of femininity, have been Sovereignly knitted to me.  We are colors without names, for who can describe the brilliance of the One who wove the dull, worn and faded threads of our lives into His…in order that this patchwork of polka dotted sisters might reflect a sort of radiance like a diamond captures color.

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And I think that’s what happened in the season where leaves rust, and twenty degrees lower blows in cool, but the sun…

the sun’s glow still heats earth, in the same way we are warmed by the fiery heat of a God who commands the morning,

and chases the runner. 

This God who scatters frost…

and fills up heaven’s storehouses with snow…

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Has appointed times for icy hearts to unfreeze and be kindled afresh

until bones feel fire.

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It was the entrance of autumn when I spoke…and we, like the blowing leaves with crisp edges, tapped out a holy rhythm…a Sovereign song composed for us, and for them and our retreat went like this…

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He taught us about a woman who sold her body again and again to hungry men that wore her sin.  It was civil robbery, for they robbed her of more than she was selling, yet her heart deceived her and offered services she thought she could separate from her soul,

until she heard about

the carpenter’s Son.

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She had heard He preached good news to the poor, the ones destitute of Christian virtue, lowly, afflicted…unable to save themselves.

and her soul awakened out of its sin-sleep

and she ran…

and fell…

and wept…

and shattered her most valuable treasure…

at His feet,

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in front of the rich, the astute, the law teachers, and the righteous,

and they all

hated her.

It is there where she risked everything to get to Jesus and declare in silent posture,

THIS IS GOD,

DOES YOUR SOUL NOT KNOW IT?

as she wept and washed His feet with tears and hair.

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and then the women who came to retreat,

traveled to the cross,

with their pieces of shattered Alabaster stone marked with sins now being laid at the cross…heard,

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“your sins which are many have been forgiven, for you have loved much, go in peace Luke 7:47-50).

And then He told us He had a secret place for us.  For just us and Him and to find it and return their day after day after day and enter into familiar conversations with Him and to recline on His bosom like John,

so that we may have an unwavering assurance like the beloved disciple,

who felt the scratch of His beard,

and the beat of His heart strong

against his back,

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and heard words wrapped in warm breath.

John saw, tasted, heard, and felt

everything our hearts long for.

And we learned that the secret counsel is for those who fear Him…(Psalm 25:14), and that is where we feel Him hemming us in (Psalm 139:2).

and where we know that our “valley of Achor, (trouble)

is a door of hope,

as He reminds us who we have been betrothed to in the holiest of marriages (Hosea 2).

On the Celebration Sunday of retreat, I shared for the first time, my story of how I was left splintered, hanging off the edge of reality, slipping into insanity, and finally completely shattered.  My cracked words flowed out alongside tears as I sniffled my way through tie-me-to-you.

We learned that we are invited into His chamber and that the kiss of His mouth is better than the sweetest of lingering wines…(Song of Solomon 1:2),

and that we are to drink deeply and be intoxicated with the fragrance of His love, and when we are this love-sick for Him, His name will drip like honey from our tongues and our gardens will breathe out a gospel fragrance.

We learned He found us when we were ripe for love, like so many of the women there, and that He covered our nakedness and gently bathed us and poured healing oil on our wounds (Ezekiel 16:8-9).

And we heard,

Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.  For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.  The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, and the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.  The fig tree has ripened its figs, and the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.  Arise my darling, ,y beautiful one, and come along!” (Song of Solomon 2:11-13).

We traveled to the-cross/

We learned He was waiting for us to come and meet with Him in our closets or living rooms and feel His power like Moses did in a tent of canvas,

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where he had Holy conversations with his familiar friend (Exodus 33:7-11).

We returned to our First Love.

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I am humbled, broken, and overwhelmed that God led me to women I could share my broken alabaster story with.  I know He has knitted my heart to yours and I continue to pray for each. One. Of. You. We are a sisterhood washed in blood, and scrubbed raw in mercy. He has knitted our souls to one another.  We are kin.

held, consumed in Holiness I do not deserve,

trish

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