Saturday, November 30, 2013

When He Sees

November is breathing her last and I want to try and figure out how to prolong these dark autumn days just a little longer.

I don't know where these days have gone.

I prepare the candles for advent and our home for Christmas and their excitement is building, but I just want to be back at the beginning of the cooling-down days of Fall; to hold on to the burning fire of fading leaves for just a few more moments before each memory made swirls on the blowing wind of time ticking fast.

I look back on this year and it has been beautiful and hard and the newborn haze has quickly been replaced with pre-toddler motion and my hands feel so empty and full all at the same time.

And I have been Sarai, the one who dreams of a dream fulfilled and always the answer seems to be no, not yet. 

The waiting of it aches.

And I have been her, the woman who sees the potential in other places and demands that that is where it will be made right.

But it isn't.

It never is.

Only Jesus is Savior and anything else crumbles under the weight of rushed ambition.

I have been Hagar, not empty but desperate and wandering, searching and not sure where to go next in a place void of all answers.

I have been both.

The angel of the Lord? He found Hagar by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.

Her flight was taking her in the direction of Egypt.

She was heading back home.

She was moving towards the familiar. Where else could she go?

It feels that way, sometimes. When what I have planned for falls through and when what I am doing hurts and feels awkward and heavy. Why not just throw it all off and go back to what I know, what feels familiar and right and doesn't require too much of a change?

Hagar was heading back home, but she was also staying near a spring of water. She was staying near a source of life.

And it was here that the angel of the Lord stopped her, he met her, he called her by name.

She wasn't forgotten in the promise of another. She may have been discarded by the ones over her, but she was still treasured by the One Who formed her. Their eyes may have looked away as she started over that dusty plain, but His Eyes never, never left her.

He told her to go back. Back to shame and humiliation and what would be hard. He asked her to walk that path back and to submit to a woman who would despise her.

But she would go back with a promise.

And she would go back knowing that God Himself saw her.

The years and the days may whirl by in a dizzying speed,

my heart may ache at all that is changing and moving and these hands may cup small ones close because tomorrow, they won't be so small.

But as the seasons change and calendar pages are flipped and as we enter into a season of Advent and Christmas, I can know,


God sees me.

I am known.

And the One Who Sees is the One Who Provides and He will cover my days until He welcomes me home.

I can trust this.

I can trust Him.


Father God, You have given this day and You gave all the ones before and You hold me in the questioning and You see me in my wandering; You cover me and You know all that tomorrow holds. Like Hagar, help me to know You as the One Who sees, and like Sarai, let me know You as the God Who sustains in the waiting.

And as November fades in the quiet and crazy of Christmas, let my heart burn with a deep love that is unfading for You in the long nights that find me waiting for Your arrival.

I love you, Jesus. You are so good.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

For When She Wonders (Day 21)

Mama, what happens if someday, someone calls me ugly?

She asked me that just as I was tucking the sheets under her 6 year old chin.

We are all dust and we all crumble under the pain and hurt of the brokenness around us.

And the one thing she longs for is beauty.

She searches it out and is the first one to point out the beauty of nature around us. The first one of my children to compliment a stranger, no matter how crazy or outlandish an outfit. She seeks beauty in all things and she is tender enough still to actually find it.

But what happens if...?

Somewhere along the way, over days or weeks or mere seconds, the thought crossed through her mind that the one who seeks the beauty may never have the beauty sought out in her...

And she was crushed.

Dust crumbles under the weight of worry and expectation and just like the ground we will return to, when it is dry enough, it will all just blow away...

I hold her close and recite those words long ago memorized at a bible camp when a longing for home made the tears run down my face; when I was all awkward and gangly and thought these words were never meant for me,

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.  Psalm 139:13-14

God creates beauty and that means that you are beauty in motion. You are beautiful and there are only beautiful people. The only ugliness that we see are the ugly attitudes we allow...but when God created you all wonderful, He created true beauty.

She needs to know that He has His hand on her. That there is no where she can go that He won't find her...There is a God Who sees her. That when she is lost in a sea of loneliness or when the darkness of sin sweeps over her, she is never unseen by Him. He sees her and loves her and relentlessly pursues her.

Her covering of dust may make her feel ordinary, hidden, like nothing really special at all, but the One Who knit her together in my womb lifts her up and calls her beauty His own because He sees and He pursues and He gently lifts her up.

Then He turns to her mama, to me, and I see that He says this for my dusty and broken heart too...

God Who raises me from the dust, You use the fears of my daughter to speak into the fears of this heart and instead of ash blowing away, You cup this heart and pour Your love into a simple, fragile jar of clay.  You are the Lifter of my head and the Lover of this soul and eyes that are lifted and filled with You, see true Beauty and lives are transformed...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To Become Small

The desire to be seen,

to be known,

can be so strong at times.

As though being where you are and who you are is never quite enough.

But the Father sees. He sees when you take a step back from all that striving to be noticed. He sees that step you take back, away from chasing after all the mirages of what you think will satisfy.  He sees, when in the quiet, in the mundane, in the routine of what He has given to you now, you step away from it all. Not to enter into a fight for recognition, but to enter into the quiet, intimate spaces of being known fully and completely by the very God Who created you.

He sees what is done in the secret places, in the quiet places, in the questioning of your worth and in the feeling small.

Because it is then you see Him most clearly.

If God doesn't rule your mundane, then He doesn't
rule you. Because that's where you live.   ~Paul Tripp


My Father Who sees in secret, make me fearless of being small. Of being unknown. Of being known fully by the One Fully God. Nothing escapes Your eyes that always see and when I place myself before Your greatness, there is no other place safer for my soul.

Rule the mundane spaces, the places I despise. Transform them into an oasis where I see you most clearly. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When I Can't See {Day 13}

We meet in that familiar stance again this morning, as the sun streams in the window by the front door and defiance flashes in her eyes.

My face is set to match her will and we stand at that standstill, again, for the one thousandth time.

We both know that as the mama, I will eventually win, but she is going to give me a run for my money before she allows that to happen.

And it isn't until later that I remember those verses from this morning, after the battle has been won in my favor and she is calmed down and quietly working that His Word sinks deep:

But now, you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander,
and obscene talk from your mouth...Put on then, as God's chosen ones, 
holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and
patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against 
another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also
must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything 
together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:8, 12-14

I can forget often, that before her anger can be addressed, my heart needs examining; while her eyes are flashing, mine need to soften. Before we stand, locked in a heated battle, my arms need to open and pull her in close.

It feels more natural to allow frustration to take the wheel - for my position as the mama to be the driving force behind compliance...but that isn't what Jesus asks of us.

Instead of putting on what feels normal, He asks us to go against the grain and to put on what our flesh will want to rip off:

Peel off anger and cup compassion.

Remove wrath and receive kindness.

Throw away malice and kneel in humility...

And when everything in me wants to complain about the attitudes and the immaturity, forgive. Bear with the child, the friend, the stranger, the one out to harm; bear with them and lean into the Holy Spirit - receive from Him all that is needed to speak His Life and Love to the broken soul in front of me.

Because I am only seeing with my eyes what is going on around me. I don't know what is going on deep down in her heart. I don't know what set off the first battle cry and in the heat of the moment, it is going to be even harder to decipher. 

Tomorrow, we will try again. 

Tomorrow, I will meet her at the bottom of the stairs and trust that Jesus will show me how He sees her heart.

And the white flag will wave in surrender to the One Who gave her to me.


You are the God Who Looks at the Heart and most days I fall into that chair exhausted because I don't know what is going on in that head of hers, of his...of theirs. I fall exhausted because I don't fall on You and if I just would...I would find You to be faithful and loving and kind.  God Who Looks at the Heart, of them and of me, You give when we ask for wisdom and You graciously, along with Jesus, give.  Today is done, tomorrow is new and Your Mercy will be mine for the taking - so be with us in our sleep, be with us in our waking and surround us with Your Love in our interacting with one another. You are so good and so amazing, to love us and to draw near to us the way that You do.  Thank You, Jesus.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Because He Freely Gives {Day 11}

He's been saying it more and more these last few weeks. Really, he's been saying it since our anniversary. And I want to be careful with his words, because, they are *his* words and because I know the amazing heart behind them.

However, they are hard words.

Because they have lived hard. They have witnessed hard.

But as he held me close over our anniversary weekend, he whispered in my ear that he was thankful. Not just for us, for our marriage and this life - but he was coming to be thankful for his dad's suicide.

I heard the ache behind his words and the longing of a son for his father because no matter how clear a gift becomes in the unwrapping - loss of any kind still stings even as time begins to soothe.

He said those words because he sees how his loss has opened up places in him that God is using. That the broken places are becoming healing places and the loss of a father has cultivated a father's-love in his own heart for the father-less around us.

What would happen if we opened our eyes more to see the working and weaving of good around us that God the Father does for those who love Him?

Really - what would happen? I want to know.

I drove in the dark on the freeway this evening, over to a neighbouring town just to sit and be with a tea and a book and on the way back, as I took each exit I began to wonder at the absurdity of where I am.

I had a plan.

I had a plan and it was a good plan. Well thought out and safe, it would have kept us in a quiet neighbourhood in a quiet little town in the middle of nowhere and we would have lived out our days and we would have grown old and quiet together there and in the end, been buried together under piles of snow and ice in the winter and harvest dust come fall.

Then God stepped in and shook things up a little. Or a lot.

It all depends on how you look on things like that.

And I found myself driving home on a freeway, debating whether to take the exit into downtown or the taking the long circuitous route instead and choosing the former I entered into the city that I'm still trying to stretch into feeling like home.

I asked Tony tonight when the shock would wear off - when the surprise of *here* would no longer be surprising.

He didn't really have an answer.

And the thing is - I am grateful. I am so very grateful to be found here. To be given all that we have been given here. That it is here where we have been able to heal. Where we have found the footing we lost and been thrown back together. It is here that we have jumped back into ministry and where we have found our calling, where we have sought God and His Will like we have never done before.

We have been found desperate for Jesus here in the place and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

Which seems wrong to type, given what we have lost in the living we have done. But it's true. Jesus said that to follow Him we need to lay down our lives, take up our cross and follow Him. To love Him above family and friends and houses and cities and those lives we long to protect.  He is to be longed for above everything else and in all of that losing,

we will find the greatest Gift.

When we give of ourselves freely to Him,

we find the One Who Freely Gives.

Because more than quiet, safe lives; more than fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters, more than comfort and ease and the right clothes and neighbours, He longs to give us life - abundant and full. But that life comes with a cost: His Life. And when we allow that to sink in, deep down into the very depth of us - we'll begin too see, each hard loss that feels like it's going to kill us, each blow to our bodies, our wallets and status quo, each question that is sobbed into feathered pillows each night - it all finds it's answer in Jesus.

No, what He asks isn't easy, but what He gives carries great worth. When we offer up to Him, what we would rather freely hold back onto, He freely gives His strength, love, faith and peace and He will lead us through the hard things He allows, opening our eyes to see past the circumstances that are paved in sorrow to find the incredible gift of incredible Life with Him.

All because He freely Gives.


You did not spare Your Own Son but gave Him up for us all and because of the weight of that, I can trust that each gift You offer and each promise You make and each provision you give - You graciously give because it is in Your nature. You give because You love. You discipline because You love. You provide for the desperate because Your love is desperate that all should come to repentance. I can trust You - even when it seems impossible and crazy. I can trust that as I walk in Your leading that You will lead me to a place where I can hear You - where I can see Your glory at work.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Romans 8:32

Thursday, November 7, 2013

When He is Gracious {Day 7}

Failure can settle in deep and I won't want to stand at my sink to see what the days Naming will be. Instead, I become tempted to wallow in that deep sea of self-pity and wrap myself in rags of defeat instead of a heart washed white as snow.

Until I look up and see that He is Gracious - a Gracious God full of mercy.

Until I look up to see my daughter crumble - her tears on her face and her head laid on her arms.

Until I look up to see the face of a friend who shows grace to the broken heart of my 7 year old and gives her a way to express her pain through art.

Until I climb those stairs in the old, creaky building and hear laughter coming out of the room closest to me.

Until I peek my head in and see her head thrown back in laughter with one who so willingly steps in as an older brother to my four.

He is Gracious and He delights to show mercy and so many days I forget. I forget that His grace is a gift and His mercy is tender and He wraps my days up in both - will I willingly open up my eyes to find them?

We carry home drawings and brownie crumbs and a sleeping baby curled up in my arms and we nestle in close at the close of the day and His Hand has never left us - His graciousness has kept us secure.

You wait to be Gracious and You exult to show Mercy and I am desperate for both. Tender Savior, Your eyes never leave Your children and in the dark of night or in the dark of sorrow or in the light of great joy, You wait for me to look to You, to trace Your movements throughout my days. Blessing is found when I still and wait for You, the riches of Your Grace most clearly seen when I sit with whatever You allow to come my way. Gracious God, You are so very good and Your Mercy calms my heart.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

In the Suddenness of Loss {Day 5}

He is there in the corner of the small video Tony took of Elias learning to ride a bike while Geraldo held him steady.

He is sitting on his own bike grinning away at my son while Elias giggles loudly and forgets to keep his feet on the peddles.

He is sitting on his own bike and his smile doesn't give away the news that Tony waited to share with me once the little ones are sleeping and I'm curled up in my own chair.

And I hear the news and I'm frustrated that today of all days is the one where I'm sick and Zeruiah is wheezy and he sat there on his bike with that smile hiding big emotions and today was the last day that he and his 3 brothers and 1 sister would be at Madison House.

I can sit here in the dark and remind myself for the 100th time that this was what we were told - that this is a transient community and a child we would see today and for the next 30 days may one day not show up again. Sometimes ever, sometimes until the next season would come around.

So be prepared - I kept hearing this: Be prepared.

And you can prepare your mind and you can say the words over and over, but these are children and they are precious and they get under your skin and deep down into your heart and you lay awake at night praying over lives that you begin to love like your very own.

And I'm not ready to say goodbye.

I'm not ready to not have that chance and I think of the five of them and how they have played and loved and fought with my own four.

I'm not ready to not have at least one of them come quietly up beside me and just be, just to tell me about their day, just to play with Zeruiah.

I'm not ready to not see the smiles and to not hear the laughter and to not hear the jokes or the stories or the questions.

I'm not ready to not know if they are okay.

More than anything, I wish I could have said goodbye. I wish I could have reminded them how very loved they are by Jesus and by us; how amazing they are and that no matter what, God has a very specific plan for their lives.

Because you can see it - you really can. God's Hand is there and evident on lives of these kids and you can see it on these 5 as well. God sees them He knows them.

I may not be ready to let them go, but I can trust that He never will.

I have hope in the God of Hope.

I have hope that He hears and He holds the prayers that I pray for them. 

I have hope that His eyes will never leave them.

And I wonder if this is what hope does - not that it numbs and deadens the ache, but that it gives it a purpose.  That the ache and the hurt, when cupped by hope and filled with joy and peace in the believing - in the act of faith -  that it grows a soul more tender towards Christ. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13

I don't want to become used to the transience. I don't want to become used to the goodbyes. I hope each one aches as much as the first so I can stand witness to His cupping of pain with hope and faith and trust - reminding my heart that keeps growing larger and larger to pray and to entrust each one into His faithful care.


You know that the words tonight are few but that the hope is desperate and tenacious. You see sparrows and know the number of hairs on each head and You see each child that comes and goes out those front doors. You know them. You love them. You aren't going to let them go. My helplessness can be be transformed into hope-full-ness and even in loss I can be filled with Your joy and peace.  Go before them. Go before us. Weave our days with hope in You.

Monday, November 4, 2013

When I want to Fight {Day 4}

She stands there with fists clenched and eyes narrowed as her teeth grit out the word no. It's a simple request that doesn't suit her schedule and we stand there with wills locked and eyes clashing.

Even in the beauty of a sun drenched day, there is a warring. A constant striving to prove that I'm right or he's wrong or she has no idea what she is talking about.

And then that coin flips and I'm not going to forgive, I'm going to build this wall - I'm going to keep them out and you at a distance and if there is a battle to be won or fought or lost, I'm going to enter in. I will do anything to keep myself safe.

I have forgotten, over and over, when emotions are high and tension pulls taut that the battle, the main one in the places I can't see, has already been won.

I've already fought. I've already won, He whispers, so just be still.

Political climates can tip precariously and leave the air uncertain, a child (or parent) can wake up exhausted from unrelenting dreams and the cloud above them heaves dark and foreboding,

A fight can be just waiting to happen.

But as the unrest circles and presses in close, when temptation to take up arms seems like the more productive and right thing to do,

step back and wait.

The striving your flesh wants to do already has a Victor in the work of Jesus Christ.  He fought the battle. He conquered sin and His grace, His favor is sufficient for you. For this day. For this time.

Just be still.


You are God and You have already won the greatest battle that needed to be fought and that victory still spills over into every area if only I would stop huddling over the broken places that pride has convinced me I need to win.  Your victory fills in the sin-gaps and You ask me to only be still - to believe in Your work on the cross and Your resurrection from the dead; in You alone, my salvation is sure.  You fight for me and even if the broken places still crumble, they crumble in the presence of Mighty God and I can know and be assured that one day, my eyes will see and I will know and finally understand. I can rest and I can be still.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

He Hasn't Forgotten {Day 2}

I can easily forget, in the mama-ing to my four little ones, in the needing to be big, that I too am so very small.

As my youngest flashes her dimple at me and tucks her face away - as I hold her close to my chest, the calendar pages still turn and 10 months fly by and my heart aches with the passing and the aging and I am not big enough to slow them all down.

Time feels constricting and aloof in the same moment and somewhere in the middle I stand, caught in the ever-changing illusions of giant needs and the stepping away smallness that comes with the territory of motherhood.

I can forget my own fragility until they begin to take that step away.

Peter, his pen scratched out the words, Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

And Isaiah, pointing always to the coming Messiah, he leans in to the people of God,

I drive home in the fading light and sometimes the weight of what we carry feels too much - as though my soul is threatening to give way and my heart is one quickened beat from shattering. I grip the steering wheel as though it is a lifeline and the I-can-handle-this that I have wrapped around me begins to unravel and the very guttural lowness of who I really am cries out for Him; For the One Who gently leads, Who lends His yoke, Who takes my anxiety because He cares. For me. For the ones He has made.

My days carry responsibilities, both big and small, but there is One Who is a Tender God Who takes note. I don't have to come before Him boasting that I can handle it all on my own. In His tenderness, He welcomes me, crawling, grasping, sin-stained and broken because He knows my frame. He knows I am but dust and His compassion gathers me close and a daughter finds rest in the presence of her Father.



As a father shows compassion to his children, so You show compassion to me - to those who fear You. For You know my frame, You have never forgotten that I am but dust. In Your holiness, You remain gentle to Your children and Your faithfulness becomes a safe harbor for Your weary daughter who forgets, at times, just how very small she is.  Thank You for your mercy and grace. For Your yoke that binds me to You, for Your arms that gather this mama-heart close and for Your invitation to take my anxieties from me - all because You love. All because You see and know of what I am made.  How can I not love You in return?

{November rolls around again and again, I place a singular focus on the 30 days of this month. Seems kind of silly to choose Adoration, since I had decided to try to Adore Jesus here for the next year. But Adoration can feel unexpectedly awkward and that awkwardness can cause a pulling back. So really, this month is to relight that fire I first felt back in the heat of summer and as the coolness of fall settles in, as the days grow darker, I want to refocus my heart back on this discipline. In a way, this is a restarting and a settling back in on a journey to know Him more...)

Friday, November 1, 2013

{Day 1} Provider God

It is the first of November and my front window is cracked open because I burnt the popcorn and sugar and this house needs some fresh air. My toes are ridiculously cold and my slippers lay in a jumbled heap by the front door - there is no need to bother with them...I will be warm under covers soon.

My culinary attempts backfired this evening and instead of kettle corn, the little ones wolfed down chocolate popcorn instead. They seemed to appreciate the added flair of sea salt tossed in and we settled in and snuggled close while the movie flashed across the screen.

These moments this evening, the ones filled with giggles and tears and warm little bodies scooting in closer, there didn't seem to be enough time, enough awareness to soak it all in.

Provision - that word so tightly linked with money and finances and making certain that one always has enough.  But what happens if it is more?  

For those moments when the kind word is the last word you want to say, 

When they are all asking and clinging and pulling and each one convinced that their request is the greater one,

When patience is so thin it can't even be seen and that cereal bowl filled full with milk and cheerios falls to the floor and you are already running behind,

When you say one thing and he hears another and there is that moment between the word you are going to regret saying and the breath you could take in instead.

Could we pause long enough instead to look for the ram in the thicket? Instead of grabbing hold of the tangible, the obvious, the flesh-bent answer, could we stop to listen for His voice?

As we journey up our own Moriah, taking faithful footsteps forward through questions and confusion and chaos, can we, can I, trust Him enough to know, to really know, that at just the right time, when I need Him to come through most, He will.

It may come all tangled up - I may still have to wrestle it out into the open, but I know that in my desperation, He will prove Himself faithful.

He is the God Who Provides.

I have known You as the One Who provides for our very physical needs, but I have overlooked the deeper, more intimate ways that You provide. For each moment that could erupt in tempers flaring or fears flailing, You provide the words, the attitudes that could bring You the most glory, if only I would open my eyes and my heart. You don't leave Your people caught in brokenness. You aren't after the death of a situation but You come near to breathe Life back into it.   

{November rolls around again and again, I place a singular focus on the 30 days of this month. Seems kind of silly to choose Adoration, since I had decided to try to Adore Jesus here for the next year. But Adoration can feel unexpectedly awkward and that awkwardness can cause a pulling back. So really, this month is to relight that fire I first felt back in the heat of summer and as the coolness of fall settles in, as the days grow darker, I want to refocus my heart back on this discipline. In a way, this is a restarting and a settling back in on a journey to know Him more...)