Friday, November 28, 2014

When Thanksgiving Doesn't Look the Same.

The sun is setting so much earlier now - the dark settles in long before the little ones are ready for it to. We light candles and flip switches, forgetting how powerful the pull of light can be.

I witnessed the truth of it last night in the aftermath of turkey and stuffing, in the reminding myself that dinner would happen and there was no time frame and family was here and friends were here and hearts were more important than perfection.

His face appeared at the door, oddly misshapen and hamburger-like, as though someone had pounded it raw.

They had.

Three sheets to the wind and terrified, he saw the light on and an open door and he walked in. He knew he would find safety here.

And Tony, he came near, stood near to the overwhelming stench of alcohol and terror and he turned and grabbed a plate and began to heap it high of warm food, good food and his gaze finds mine. I know it now, deep in my soul, I know exactly what this is - and I fumble for more, desperate to give because this man is more that what he appears. He bears the very image of the One I love and if serving him means I am really serving Jesus than let me give him pumpkin pie - let me heap it high with ice cream. Let me love in the small ways that I can.

The ground underneath an intoxicated ex-gang member becomes holy - the air in the hallway is sacred, I want him to see Jesus somehow through his haze.

He leaves before I can give more.

In his wake though, come three small ones. Shy smiles and sweet dark eyes. They come in and play quietly in the hall - content it seems to play in the corners until ice cream is mentioned. The one little boy, he holds out his plate for seconds and I see this for what it is, another opportunity to love Jesus, another way to serve Him, another way to brush up against the Holy. So when this little one asks for maybe a pickle too, I want to give him the whole jar. I want to give him everything on the loaded counter. If the breaking of my heart means I can see more of Jesus, then shatter it completely - I want to give Him my all.

We slip on coats in the dark of the night and this little one, he races ahead of us - thin cotton covering even thinner arms. We walk behind him and I reach for Tony's hand. This boy, he is so small, how can no one be out looking for him? But I remember, there is One Who see him too and maybe he came to us so we could be the safety he needed - we could be the ones making sure he got home. 

There is a rythym here that I am learning - a weight that leans heavy on my soul. Gun shots are fired in the night and I wait for more but am met with only silence. The clouds are dark in the west.

I read this morning of the ugly-made-beautiful and I nod along with the author's words. I've witnessed it and I don't want to lose the wonder of watching God move. I didn't know that I could love a broken area in this way that I do, but maybe now that my own broken places have been exposed, that they have seen the Light and are finally finding healing, my eyes search out evidences of Him more -  and He meets me here. He shows me His beauty and glory and His image transforms the faces around me.

I wrote it on the chalkboard above my sink, hours before the guests arrived and Olivia began to heave, I placed it as a lockscreen on my phone because I need the reminder as the days grow dark and I could forget His truth and fall back on fear and I need it infront of my eyes because I want His Light to blaze here in this home, in my life, 

I will give thanks to the Lord
with my whole heart;
I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1

This Thanksgiving was marked by the beauty of His presence, transformed by the beauty of His grace. He extended our family and let us love Him through the loving of others. How could we ever stay the same?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

For When it Feels like I Can't.

It was before the tempature dipped below freezing that I took the scissors in hand and snipped the branches all fiery red from the leaves still hanging on. I had meant to have it all ready by the time the first of November came, but the death of one of our Madison House kids came first and everything else was pushed aside for a time.

The leaves have begun to let go, drifting lazily onto the table.

Two of the chickens have died - fluffs of feathers and one cracked egg are the only evidence of their existence. A dear friend gives me two of hers - the golden colored one hides in the coop, afraid to come out; displaced and disoriented she calls out for the familiar.

I get it.

We hang the paper leaves on the branches letting go of the last of the season and Lyla, she holds hers in her hands and her voice reads the words above the noise of her brother and sisters, each one, even the baby, wanting a turn to find a place for Life to grace the empty places. 

Tony gets ready to leave for work today, holds me in the doorway and prays strength over my head. The sky is heavy with clouds and he walks out into the grey and I touch his face just a bit longer, trying to hold on to the warmth of him - the fear of how brief life is taking over, pushing out any peace and making my thoughts anxious.

It's while the baby naps and the older three are tucked in to watch a movie that I find a moment to sit and breathe. That I open the pages of His Word and my fingers fumble to 1 Thessalonians 5 and the words of verse 16 grab hold:

Rejoice always.

Rejoice, even in the quiet and obscure - in the mundane and where the only eyes who see me are the four sets who are just children that I too often push too hard to act older than they are.

Rejoice always when I see myself mirrored in the Word of God and my brokenness is displayed and I know - truly know - only He can fix my soul.

Rejoice always, in the uncertainty of what I am called to do, in the questioning and even in the temptation to "bury" the gifts He has placed in me; because the risk of investing them is too frightening.

Rejoice always in the in-between spaces - in the knowing that there is more, but clueless as to what that is.

Rejoice always, turning my whirring, screaming thoughts to prayer. Lifting up these gasping offerings and trusting He will turn them into a sweet and pleasant aroma rising to Him.

Rejoice always, in the middle of daughter/mother wars; when my eyes are opened to the broken places in them and His answer is grace, always grace first, to the heated situation.

Rejoice always, when all I want to do is weep for all the years lost, the memories of this coming season, neglected and hurting children and the never ending temptation to gloss something pretty over it all.

Rejoice always, for God is still in control, His eyes never turn away - and that like Paul, I can say, "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1:6).

He isn't through with me, so my soul can rejoice. He has plans for my children, so I can rejoice. He will use my broken family for HIs glory - so rejoice. He is far greater than hard rejoice.

Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks - this is His will for me...for us.

So I will rejoice and boldly give God glory.