the gospel for dogs…cuz we all need a Master

I adopted my dog, Ezra, in sin.  No, really…it was sin. Ya see, my faithful pure-bred, tri-colored, English Setter, Luke, had passed away after we had almost reached the ten year stride together. Sometimes blood thickens and stops a beating heart.

Strokes just happen in old age… or any age.  Luke managed to survive three that week before the last one crept itself into his sleep and slowly swallowed up his last breath.

He died on a Thursday….

the floor boards beneath his still body felt warm with his lingering left over heat when I found him like that.  Peaceful, in his bed.  I had visited him earlier in the pitch of the night around 1 am, “Lukey?” His old tired head lifted slightly as he reassuringly peered out his one patched eye, the one that marked him since birth making him the irresistible pick of the litter, as if to say, “I’m so glad to know you’re still here…thank you…” I knelt low to kiss his familiar face, tell an old friend that love and faithfulness had grown sweeter in me over the years we’d been together, and press into hear his heart through familiar fur and beloved dog scent. I told him I would see him in the morning. But the morning brought sobs and instant loneliness.

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I fell asleep on the couch later that week and dreamt that those old familiar rapid sniffs at the end of a wet nose against my cheek were waking me. But when I opened my eyes he was gone. I begged the goose for another dog.  Luke had been my companion as a stay at home mom for ten years. He and I waited side by side for the kids to shuffle and a bumble through the door every day after tired teachers said goodbye and janitor’s sweeps swayed through halls. Luke was always ahead of me on this.  If I saw him sitting by the door, eyes locked on the cu- de-sac in front of our house, I knew it was time for the kids to arrive. Sometimes we baked cookies together as we waited.  Luke would jump off the couch as soon as he was on to cookie scent, usually at the first mix of warm butter and sparkly granules of sugar.

And so it was too painful to think of baking cookies without two sets of paws waiting to scamper after run away chocolate chips, irresistible deep eyes that could hold a thousand word vocabulary with each blink, twitch and extra fur-skin on furrowed brow rising and falling to the inflections of my voice, right there at my side, in every room, at every hour of the day.

So the rain bird and I set out exactly one week after Lukey’s passing to adopt a dog we had found in secret against the goose’s wishes.  We had kept this one quiet alright, and set out on our journey to fill our aching senses of touch missing silky fur, sight missing ignorant cuteness, smell missing that inoffensive odor of dog that becomes more desired than disdained to dog lovers, and sound missing a language only dog lovers understand spoken and exchanged through howls, yips, growls and barks.

and we found this…

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pitiful as he was, well, being last and all.  The rest of his siblings had already been chosen, but not Ezra.  Here he remained…caged, all day, every day, having already been returned from a prior adoption that just couldn’t keep him. He had tasted freedom, only to be returned to what seemed to be a hopeless future.  That is, until we set our gaze on him.  He was simultaneously adorable and incorrigible.

Turns out the dog we had researched and traveled over an hour away to adopt, just wasn’t going to make it back to the shelter in time from spending a few days with his foster mom, but if we wanted, we could certainly take Ezra.

Pitiful and playful…lumpy and loveable. If nothing else, I felt like his name was meant for us, Bible lover that I am.  I knew Ezra was a minor prophet, but I didn’t know just what mysterious meaning his name held.  I’m big on meanings of words and names.  They seem to hold foundation and base to the soul behind a name, either steadying it or affirming its proneness to falter. And the original meanings of words, well the richness runs deeper than the sound or use of our language we so often take for granted or unskillfully use.  Words and names give authenticity to what the heart is speaking. If we use them too casually or idly, it’s an indication the heart could use some digging and tillin’ about it, fallow as it is.  If we think…if we pray… before our words have a chance of getting ahead of our tongues and slip too quickly out between the thin space of our lips, they can speak life and truth leaving a legacy about us. A rich, gospel infused legacy.  So this little lumpy guy Ezra, well his name means, “the Lord helps.” I guess that rang true for Ezra that day we adopted him, sinful as it was going against the gooses’ wishes.

I’m not downplaying that sin. With my incorrigible pup in tow, I found it to be more of a grueling challenge than the comfort I was seeking in a new companion. I almost gave up on poor Ezra.  Through tears, I begged the goose’s forgiveness and vowed to continue the arduous task of caring for this lump of nothing but naughty. Five years later, the goose still isn’t crazy about Ezra. The goose complains, “he barks too much!”  I say he is just doing his job, what he was created to do.” But praise God He can redeem all sin for His glory so we are free to live and love in a mysterious swaddling of grace. A grace to care for animals passed on to us through the Creator’s heart, an assignment if you will. Like the first one he gave to the first man, Adam.

And so it is with Ezra…the dog I purchased and adopted in sin, God has used to teach me more about Himself and it goes something like this:

I am Ezra’s master and he is the creature.

I chose him in sin.  God chose me while I was dead in sin (Ephesians 2:5)

I adopted him and I lavish love on him. Heaps and heaps of love he could never earn.  I am adopted (Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:15) and He lavishes love on me (1st John 3:1).

I loved him from the moment I saw him and knew he belonged in our family.

I provide for all his needs, physically and emotionally. He never has to worry about a shelter, food, comfort,

perfect care… My God supplies all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

Ezra’s eyes are ever on me filled with trust. Yet he still fears me leaving and suffers separation anxiety, even though I will never leave him anywhere like he was left and torn so irreversibly from his mama.  In fact, I reassure him that I love him several times a day. My choosing Ezra was a sort of promise and covenant sealing the adoption. And because of that covenant, I am responsible for Ezra and his needs and comfort never go unmet.

Does this sound familiar, beloved?  It should!  Read Ephesians 1: 1-14 and remind yourself of these heapings of unafforded grace.

When it’s time for a walk all I have to do is say, “are you ready?” And Ezra runs to the door. I always use a lead with Ezra even though he doesn’t wander too far away without one, for safety purposes we need to stay connected. It is for Ezra’s good that he stays on the lead so he doesn’t catch a whiff of something tempting, set his nose to the ground, and ignore all of my commands, while instinct takes him further and further from boundaries of love.  Often during our walk I let the lead lengthen, but that isn’t always good for either of us, you see because Ezra gets easily distracted at all the fun whiffs and smells in the woods and so when the lead is long, Ezra tends to leave my side and wander off on a scent that creates tension in the lead.  He is no longer in step with me and force is needed to reign him in.  Other times, Ezra breaks our pace and rhythm by thinking he has to “mark” every little stem of a weed or bush there is instead of keeping in step with me and our destination on point.

I don’t know if you are catching anything I am writing about in terms of how we are all a bit more like Ezra than we think.  Isn’t it just like us to want to leave our mark on so many things, instead of staying focused on the one thing we were called to?  We just long to be accepted…noticed…remembered….

You see.  Jesus says, I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We need to stay connected to the vine, in order to bear much fruit in Christ, in order to move freely to His rhythm, walking in step with Him.  In order to leave that gospel infused legacy, we need to abide in Christ…stay tethered…  If we don’t, we too, will end up lost in a world of wanderlust, fending for ourselves, outside the boundaries of safe grace we are free to walk in while we keep in step with the Spirit. But just as Ezra has this instinctual and unstoppable urge to follow any scent outside the path, we too, have an instinctual sin nature about us, that is easily distracted and pulls so strongly at our curiosity, that we tend to take our gaze off the Prize and chase after anything that seems to feel or look good here and now.

Scripture commands us to “keep our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2).  But when we take our gaze off Christ, our hearts are attracted to far lesser things that promise excitement, comfort, success, money, love, fulfillment, even health and wellness, calling to us from the darkened woods on either side of our light-filled path with Christ.  Imagine,

the scent of money

or success,

or sports,

or status,

or an ungodly relationship,

or envying our neighbor or sister in Christ and her marriage,

being nothing more than the straggling weeds Ezra stops to sniff or leave his mark on along the way.

WEEDS! and if the weeds aren’t bad enough…he will stop to sniff out

dead, wet leaves….

the feces of other animals…

and the putridity of a half-eaten, rotting carcass, full of maggots…

These things actually smell good to Ezra!  He doesn’t know that they are bad for him, and can make him fatally sick.

They are deceiving….

And so it is dear fellow follower, if not for being tethered to Christ, we would be off full sprint through deep woods, only to our own folly and destruction.

What grace we experience tension on this tether! The tension ensures us that we are still connected to the Vine and that even though we are sin-driven on scents of deceiving pleasure, fruit will be bore as we become more and more disciplined along our journey with our Master.  And though we may lag behind when the hills are steep, the next go around on that same hill we will have found that we have gained momentum as we go from sniffin’ and a laggin’ to “laying aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Well that’s it fellow sojourners, I hope you enjoyed my gospel for dogs, cuz God can redeem even my sin of adopting poor Ezra against the Goose’s wishes and redeeming it in a story for His glory!

Stay connected!

 

Fat Tears

Fat tears fall harder…

as if they hold more weight…as if they came from a deeper well of stored up shouts and unkind words, silence and washed out wishes…

cowardly prayers dipped in doubt.

Some are yours. You know you stuffed them there. And others dove in before you could stop them right out your closest’s mouth. And together they rose higher and higher inside that pain well sloshing around a bit … unnoticeable as they were… like the lulled sloshing of waves against wet sand making something that had once left its mark disappear.

Like the familiar things that set rhythm and sweet safeness to a relationship. The mysterious things like the arched curve of two pairs of feet that tread miles of shore in step with each other.  Or deepened the imprints of a mattress with weight and heat side by side. Or someone you once knew and have missed every day even when you can’t really remember what you’re missing because what you think you miss is really an unanswered future wish.

sometimes these things get erased in the waves for a while.

Sometimes we don’t hear the sound or notice their disappearance until the big waves finally crash in,

….and so it is with fat tears.  They sort of just come crashing. They aren’t even nice about trickling  out eye corners or sliding down the high bone of our cheeks gracefully as if the destination they were aiming for somehow made the journey more glamorous. No.  Fat. Big. Tears….just fall hard and they fall fast. It’s like they jump off that tiny lower ridge trying desperately to hold them back, but their force is too great. Because if they stayed in that deep sloshing heart-well your spirit would drown. It doesn’t matter where you are when the pain dam breaks.  No, pain isn’t kind to social settings or polite enough to think of those it may make uneasy when they see it. Pain just stores itself up in that well reserved for things I’ve gotten over and things that aren’t supposed to matter anymore, and overflows when you least expect it.  You expected you were over this….

by now.

And you really thought you were.  But the fat ones,

they tell a different story.

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Do you ever notice how someone else’s joy can deepen your pain? In a way that makes the most mature of us, the ones who have walked with Jesus more years than we singled it, barely wait to be able to see God and ask Him a thousand questions about our suffering. Yet we wait…

we wait more than the watchman waits for the morning  (Psalm 130).

we wait because no eye has seen nor ear has heard any God besides You who acts on behalf of those who wait wait for Him. (Isaiah 64:4).

We wait because there is transformation in the waiting. A glorious becoming…that looks more and more like Jesus as we behold Him…

through fat tears  (2nd Corinthians 3:18).

We wait because it renews our strength (Isiah 40).

we wait because Christ waited and God is long suffering towards us and wishes that no one should perish.

We wait without answers so the answers we were never looking for are found while we wait in the pages of His Word where our eyes fall on words like Hope, and Faith, that hold far more virtue than knowing why now.

We wait because waiting ignites prayer.

And prayer steadies the soul.

And in the waiting we find His faithfulness.  His faithfulness in a spouse who though may not understand us, and may be one of the closests who wounds us from time to time, still lets those fat tears fall..ten years falling and doesn’t seem to tire of them but gently prays to the rhythm of their dropping.

And in the waiting we learn that the joy well goes deeper than the pain well because His gaze feels hotter on us in our pain and His scent is sweeter to us…and we wake to that aroma that is thick and heavy and carries with it the weight of His presence.

Its warmer in the waiting because that robe of righteousness wraps us a bit tighter, and an unspeakable peace blankets us as the Holy Spirit wraps Himself around us like a warm autumn wind.

and in the waiting we once again unpack those heavy burdens, that stayed a bit too long this time, and hand them over to the One  who joyfully exchanges them for heaps and heaps of this thing called grace.

And grace raises our eyes until they are once again locked in perfect Love.

Those fat tears?  I suspect they’ll be back from time to time. Our theme that runs through our story here and now runs broken. But it’s a holy broken woven into a grander story, and it looks more and more like the One who holds every single tear in a bottle,

even the fat ones.

 

Our cleft

I used to know in my heart we wouldn’t stay…it was just a place of rest along the way.

Sweet rest. Nourishing. An open hand that fed us, wings that sheltered us, spirit that whispered us to sleep there in that place. Our ears grew familiar with His breath there.  A dance of three swayed above us within earthly lines drawn up and measured out in heaven. A place chosen just for us.  Three children felt the holy vibrations of the moving dance above as days crept forward into weeks, and months spilled into unstoppable years,

resisting time. 

That place sheltered celebrations.

….and that place wrapped itself around

soul-groaning pain.

Jesus became a familiar scent to prickable souls and ever questioning minds there.

That place was good. A good gift from a good good Father.  Tired limbs settled bone and muscle in a house of wood furnished with soft comfort. Emotionally fringed minds were refreshed through glorious sunsets on a porch made for two. We could see God there. We felt His invisible presence. And Holy Love swaddled us in safe as light turned into dark in that place.

It wasn’t long before that place celebrated three high school graduations and we wondered if we were supposed to go or to stay…and all that wondering made its journey through prayers and conversations about God drawing lines, and establishing boundaries and dwelling places and directing our steps no matter what man plans in his own mind. And it was like we were being propelled in forward motion out of that place and into a new place.

A new place where God had planned for our feet to land and our souls to settle into.

This was an open space of land, and hills and trees, and water.  It’s as if we breathed in more of God in the new place.  Keep,us breathing…i think I smell you here, God.

 

if there is grace it reaches far enough to touch what isn’t…

if there is love it penetrates what knows nothing of it…

if there is mercy it floods over what should never know it…as it hides in dark, putrid forgotten places.

All because calloused hands of wicked men stuck a makeshift cross of wood in dirt and nailed a King there.

we know Someone we shouldn’t.  

And if there is God, our hands cover our mouths while our eyes open on the side of Him we are only allowed to see while this cleft He has carved for us keeps us safe.

I see glory here.

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Not that I didn’t see glory in that place. Such a sweet familiar place, with worn floors beneath our feet, chipped and gouged, and the people smell that belongs to every home. Glory filled that place in much the same way that Isaiah saw glory fill the temple…

but this place has been channeled out of rock for us…and every morning he passes by as I cry show me your glory! My backyard of barren and scarce grass in that place has been replaced with a fresh, clean lake poured straight down from the pitchers lined on shelves in hidden storehouse rooms of heaven. When God filled it, He knew our names and said “live in the land and cultivate faithfulness” Psalm 37:3.

So we are here on the shores of Holy water.  Not because the water has power, but because the hand of El Elohim, filled the surface of the deep and formed this place.

we are a people familiar with pain.  It’s a shared pain to a select few of us who were called to watch the children of our flesh suffer. We also know the hollow ache of the two called to be one staggering alone in search of anything that doesn’t look or sound like him…or her… We know sickness that has lasted months and years and we know health.

And if there is a God that takes away…

then there is a God who gives…

if there is a God who strips…

there is a God who restores…

and so I began to pray, show us that you are the God of Job who restores…

the God who restores the years the locusts have eaten…

the God who delights in giving good gifts to His children…

if I have known suffering, can I humbly and boldly ask for restoration? Is that ok, Lord?

I wouldn’t trade one minute of the suffering, because without suffering, I would not know the ecstatic intimacy of my Love, my treasure, my hope, my joy….in Christ.  Through suffering, “I have found Him whom my soul loves…”  Song of Solomon 3:4.

houses and places are but things that will one day tumble down and the land beneath them will be rolled up like a smoking scroll…for our God is a consuming fire. but they are also places God uses as sanctuaries of rest and quiet and reprieve.

Make us faithful with this sanctuary of time and space, land and water…show us your glory that we might reflect it so that those who grope in darkness see shards of holy light streaming crooked through our broken frames that house your Spirit.

Why are you so good to us? We are here today and tomorrow will not know us.  Yet we sink into the stillness of who you are, unchanging, abundant in grace, rich in mercy…and we stay….

for now.

This place we cannot claim, for it belongs only to the One who’s hands formed it.  This house, though man made documents tell us we own it, truth soaked words carved into hearts of flesh tell us You are the rightful owner of it all. We are eternally grateful, our hearts overflow with a new gratitude.  This is raw, fresh love for us. Keep showing us who You are.

So you have set our feet here.  Oh that thousands of pairs of feet would walk this earth and feel the quiet still of the lake here with us. Imprinting their soles alongside ours in this dirt and lake-drenched sand  Open our doors wide to share what you have generously bestowed on us for such a time as this.

I am hemmed in here…this tiny cleft..

and I see Glory.

 

Kissed Alive

She’s got a heavy heart, a messy soul, a reckless mind, and I think its beautiful the way she carries herself” ~ author unknown.

I wish I could have written something better to describe myself but when this popped up on Pinterest under writing quotes it was like looking into a screened mirror where words reflect this battered, been shattered, and healed whole, Spirit-binded  human heart.

And the truth, is we will all limp into the kingdom.  We heal, but though we heal, these tents of bone and blood and memory heal crooked.

and there is beautiful in the crooked…

there is holy in the limp…

there is glory in the cracked vessels and chipped pots.

Ya see, because the beauty and the holy and the glory tell a story of a heart so full, so inflamed, so kissed alive by Trinitarian love that here, somewhere in the unseen depths of this tent built straight up out of a frame of dust, that each day gives way to that ol’ moan of creation,

holds a spirit drunk with joy now with scale free eyes set cracked wide on Glory.  Beholding A Living hope, as this pervasive, ubiquitous Love pours in like aged wine and cloaks this messy girl in the warmth of a hushed and holy presence….in our secret place…reclining on Jesus like John, his beloved.  Entering into familiar conversations, face to face, breath to breath,

and my skin knows His touch.

Oh stain me with truth-blood and mark me Yours!  Tell me love-secrets only Your Spirit understands with groans over these reckless prayers the girl tries to articulate but fall prey to unwelcome waves of thoughts that drift to the days list….

We have a love language…YOU and I….of holiest loft.  You fasten Yourself to me with kisses, cover my nakedness and bathe me in hyssop.  Your fragrance intoxicates me…

and I am love drunk.

because there is no one more romantic than Jesus.

He can’t wait to make us His bride and His preparations to do so are continually in motion.

This intimate-covenant love…was drawn up and decreed in a space before rhythms of time and seasons of harvest moons.  It was sealed in a violent outpouring of human blood soaked in heavenly Diety.

And now I belong….

and everyone wants to belong….yearns to belong….

waits in anticipation for the grandest of invitations to the banquet of belonging.

You set a feast before me on a table prepared by You.  Fruits of ecstasy await my watering mouth…and the taste of You is an explosion of joy as every sense within me is heightened here.

Fresh awakened.

You steady me with Your love.

Oh set my heart to Your rhythm.

As my heart beats to the rhythm of Your sweet love, lead these feet where others will not go.  Mark my path where You have walked and sewn tears that grow the fruit of compassion.  May I eat of this fruit, swallowing it whole, soaking up its nutrients that revive dead and darkened places in me, sweetening my life as I reach outward on unfamiliar ground.

Awkward ground, like abortion clinics and homeless shelters.

Take these hands, the ones you made to touch, to create, hold babies without fathers who belong to scared mama’s and rock them to the song You sing over us In heaven’s symphony.

a sweet sound putting us at rest.

Take this mouth and let it teach the most ancient of Truth that reaches our marrow and shapes us into that Holy image.

Oh Lord, make us women, people, who fall so in love with Jesus, that when we go forth in Your Name, our faces will radiate Your jealous love.

You see because there are untouched places…

hopeless faces…

fatherless children…

single mama’s…

lonely outcasts…

refugees…

Desperate to know they’re not forgotten.  Craving a space to call home, and arms to be embraced in.  Hungry, starved souls stripped of hope, dignity, bravery gone bare…

and they moan in sync with creation and it might haunt us if we heard it….that eerie moan, as one might moan on a bed of death…

do you hear it? It cries for justice and screams for righteousness and none hears. We can’t hear them because we can’t hear Him.  We can’t still ourselves long enough to listen to the crinkle of paper whispers through ancient Spirit inspired words, “I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly…learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow…” (Isaiah 1: 13,17).

To know Him is to love Him and to love Him is to be crushed with longing for His breath, His word, His presence, His heart and carry our heavy hearts and messy souls and reckless minds to that fresh prepared place each morning where He starts over with us so we can start something new with them.

The ones He will gather from the east and from the west as He prepares a home for the lonely through us, The Weavers Hands. Oh pray for our maternity home as we prepare this place and swing wide our doors as we say, Send me, Lord!

Cuz even a heavy-hearted, messy, reckless-minded girl like me can reflect a peculiar beauty, dance wild with joy, and love harder than she’s ever known when I’ve been kissed alive by my Beloved.

 

Ten Years Tired

There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every event under heaven…

every.catastrophic.event.

Every curtain closes.  Darkness and black rise to the stage.  Their performance sways and jerks rhythmically in a choreographed dance with drunken shadows…. reeling from the intoxication of tragedy.  Looking for hand in front of face through thick  moonless black where no form can be seen.  Close your eyes and see the outline.  Its there….just close your eyes …

Close your eyes.

This kind of intoxication slows you, makes you forget things you once knew, things that belonged to you, sharpened your senses…now dull with slowed reactions. An all consuming exhaustion creeps itself right into mind, muscles, marrow…nestling itself into the frame that holds you straight.

And you somehow get used to the massive weight of it. A weight that bends you. smites you…. hangs your ambitions on a cross and slowly crucifies worldly gain. You can’t drag your own bloodied feet off this path marked with holy blood. This is what you do,

because its what He chose. 

and in the choosing we do not find fault.

But… we do mourn. and sometimes there are days that remind us of the loss,

and the ache

and the overwhelming tired,

and we sit down and try to untangle the mess of it all like trying to untangle a gold necklace with an expensive jewel hanging off the end.  I really like this necklace but I can’t untangle it…is there hope of ever wearing it again?

Stick it back in a drawer and try another day…its still there.  It will always be there because we can’t throw away something so lovely, so meaningful, so beautiful…because when the light shines on it, it captures beautiful things in what used to be…

cuz used to be belongs to Him.

Even if we only ever get to take it out and admire its mess

and hold it up to the light…

on one of those reminder days…

Kind of like us. We used to capture smiles for pictures with frames.  We used to gather with the the ones who knew what was in our souls.  Sweet.familiar.friends.  the ones you talked about unmentionable moments with, cuz they understood…they didn’t shame you.  The sameness in all of us was,

well, the same.

Conversations were real and dirty and good and the best part was feeling like you just took a long satisfying nap after this kind of gathering.

Best friends turned into ghosts.  Are you still there?

We groan. we sleep. Tomorrow comes and we groan and sleep. The night invades through a hope filled sky of color too beautiful for words.  Mixtures of glowing orange and tired pinks interwoven with leftover afternoon blue…the sun, in its obedience, tucks itself on the other side of massive round…as dusk brings a quiet and confident rest in hope beyond hope and the God that calls that which doesn’t exist into being.

Just close your eyes.  There is an outline.

A broken video camera, leaves moving images of memories stuck on a ten year pause.  Golf clubs collect 5200 weeks of dust.  Can I swing with all my might and watch that ball fly away only to be sunk down into another hole?

Ten years of time measured in shortened phrases…

Before the accident…and…after the accident.  We lost something the night tissue slid over tissue in a tangled mess of hair like axons and neurons creating bleeding lesions that made dark ambiguous graves for dying cells.

There is an appointed time for every event under heaven.

Even brain injury.

And we lay ourselves down in graves next to cells…that we may be shaped into an outline that becomes visible only in the black when you close your eyes in prayer

and agree…

about that appointed time for everything….

for now anyway…

and its a glorious image…am I weak enough to look like Him?

 

 

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