The Wedding Gown

It hangs from the wide, white trim above the closet door in the spare room of our home.

It has been hanging there for three weeks now.

My eldest daughter’s wedding gown hangs hidden behind a loosely drapped sheet.

This morning my heart needed to go sneak a peek at this beautiful gown of ivory and lace. I stood there silently; staring at its lifeless form, hardly daring to believe that in just one week my daughter’s virgin body would give movement to its delicate fabric.

 My heart trembled..

And a tear came to my eye..

I could hear her toddler voice still talking non-stop; I could still see her little arms swinging constantly beside her as her clever little mind would piece together my answers to her non-stop question of “why mommy?”  Her little freckled nose would be scrunched and poised upward in curiosity. 

This beautiful red-headed daughter of ours  is about to make a covenant vow to be married to one man for the rest of her life.

A precious vow…

A promise to be there, to show up, to love, to give, to laugh and cry and do pain faithfully alongside her husband.

My daughter will begin the biggest adventure of her life.

I pray she sees it as that…an adventure.

Any adventure holds twists and turns of unexpected things; take the movie “UP” for instance. The motto of the marriage portrayed was, “ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!” and as the story unfolds, their relationship was defined by their response to difficulty rather than the portrayal of a perfect, fairy-tale relationship of  “happily ever-after.”

Adventure is filled with fun as we learn to lean into its surprises and not fight them. Adventure should prove to re-set us, ignite us, shape us, so that we become more of who we were created to be; never destroying us, but teaching us what it means to embrace a relationship of committment.

Our daughter’s upcoming wedding is stirring so many thoughts, emotions and memories.

How I pray God’s protection and blessing on the union of her marriage. I have asked God to use them to give hope to many in their demographic culture who resist and struggle against life-long committment; a culture, I believe, who are in many ways, fickle cowards.

All it takes is one agent to start the change; may it be you my baby girl alongside your strong, German prince of a husband to be!

HOPE in a Hope-less Place

I am presently sitting on an inherited footstool from my great-grandmother.

An antique floor lamp casts minimal light upon me as stare at the blank screen of my laptop computer. 

Quite frankly, I do not “feel” like writing.

My mind has a storm of thought, and I struggle to know what to birth and send out to oblivion.

….

I am thinking about the word “hope”.

How exactly is it defined? I do not want to use the dictionary this evening, I do not want to use a commentary, I don’t even want to use a concordance. Call me a scholastic fool, I don’t care ( I don’t even know if “scholastic” is a word tonight…is it?) Call me an uneducated homemaker, I don’t care about that either.

My present world is surrounded by living conditions that I would love to “wish” away;  homeless people, broken people, societal misfits, prostitutes, addicts, Hell’s Angels, even the Russian Mob (I’ve been told);and high rates of suicide and depression moved in long ago.

Ask me if I want to live in this “God-forsaken”, dark, foreboding town and my “flesh” would readily reply “nope!”

There have been mornings I have awoken to an overwhelming spirit of feeling “trapped” and a desperate weak plea leaves my lips, “Pleeease God, find me a way OUT of this place!” My mind moves on to recall memories of two WONDERFUL years lived in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.

Vancouver consists of the same patchwork of disfunction…WHY am I affected and infected so differently by it in this town? My answers leave me with shame, sorrow and a desperate plea for Jesus to change my heart! The stench emerging from my attitude could shut up every barking, howling dog in my neighbourhood.

…..

“Create in me a clean heart..for I have turned my face from You…save us from our ways, O God, O God…for we have turned away from You…Lord have mercy…” (Gungor: “We will Run”)

…..

Just WHO do I think “I” am? 

Is it true of my eyes that they have become narrowly focused on what “I” have deemed “unlovely”?

As part of a trip to India a few years ago we were taken into the  heart of the slums, literal garbage dumps that hosted homes made from recycled GARBAGE; my heart was broken, torn and heavy with desperation as I walked through what these poor people called “home”.

Where I live presently is widely removed from these conditions in parts of India and yet the pompous nose of my heart is turned up in attitude. I have come to adopt a North American attitude of entitlement.  A heart attitude that clearly shouts, “I AM BETTER THAN YOU, I DESERVE TO LIVE WHERE I THINK I BELONG!!!”

BAH!! I Stink!

Where is the hope in this? Where is my hope as I face myself in the mirror? Who is this woman who “preaches” love for Jesus and yet her heart whines at being placed in the middle of the very crowds Jesus spent all His time with? Is her faith real?

“Take me to the edge of hell Lord, THAT’S where I want to serve you!!” Yes, THAT IS EXACTLY what I prayed four years ago.

Hmmm…

You have heard it said, “be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.”

God answered that prayer and here I am, confronted with the greatest battle of hell I have ever faced in my life.

I feel like cranking of a Jonah, but the thought of sleeping inside a whale doesn’t sound like a good time to me.

So where and what is hope?

I just read Psalm 103.

It is written there that God does not treat us as our sins deserve, that our sinful junk is removed from us “as far as the east is from the west”, (I don’t think that Columbus nailed a measurement on that distance).

A beginning then, is knowing that in the midst of my shadowed heart of sin I can be forgiven, cleared of this wrongful debt I know that I should owe, but no longer do.

I also read that God remembers that we are “dust”…I so thankful He has not forgotten that tonight.

Hope for me in this mess of heart and stubborn will, means that I can turn the page on this chapter of my life and KNOW that the next page WILL tell a different story, and because of God’s work of redemption (making me new), the RESULT of REMOVAL of my sin, I KNOW my heart and mind WILL BE changed.

” But this I CALL TO MIND, and THEREFORE I have HOPE: the steadfast love of the Lord NEVER CEASES; His mercies NEVER come to an end; they are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:21-23)

…..

I have only lived in this town one year, early conclusions are dangerous ones. I await in hope that if God’s love is unending and constant, and His faithfulness is GREAT, then I can TRUST Him for that FOR these precious lives that I live among WHO NEED HIM DESPERATELY.

My attitude speaks a message to them that they are hope-LESS….WOAH! Where is Jesus in THAT message baby girl?!

So there you have it folks, my sinful heart laid bare and with it needed discovery; I am as broken as everyone else around me.

Hope defined?

For me tonight… simply stated;

JESUS CHRIST!

lost inside a broken heart

It is an unusual day to write.

How do words emerge when a heart sits lost inside a cave of pain for others?

I know truth, it is the rock beneath my quivering feet that reminds me that “Even in laughter the heart may ache.” (Prov. 14:13)

Sometimes I long to hear good news of the miracles of God’s hand in pain and suffering.

….

“What can I do?” I asked of myself as I bumbled along in my jeep on an old country road.

The question fell onto music notes and the lyrics of Hillsong United’s “Aftermath”, …..”I know You’re WITH me, I know You’re WITH me here, and I know Your love will light the way…and I know You’re WITH me, yes I know Your WITH me here and I know, Your love will light the way…”  The words reached deep like raindrops rolling down a leaf and a surge of musical expression found its way through my flesh and into my mind….an instrumental version of the same song began to play; drums beckoned, and keys of notes fell like ice crystals falling from heaven: I was transported to what I call ” The Deep Soul-Place of Meeting.”

A vision came; I was dressed in a white, ankle length dress while lost inside movements of dance; my bare feet pounded dry earth around the Throne of God. In my mind’s eye I could see the dust rising as I danced in angst for the pain of others.   My arms reached high, and my fingers released perfectly shaped red rose petals into the air; A swirl of current toke them up to the nostrils of God; I could see every petal leaving a fragrant kiss upon His face, a face undefined as a result of brilliant light that exuded from it. The air was sweet with aroma from the heart cries of His people.  I continued to pound the earth with dance while my heart released prayer after prayer after prayer for the many in pain and suffering.

I couldn’t stop, around and around I danced, claiming the Name of Jesus over each one, my soul shouting at the enemy that he would not win, not ever..

The place was a mess of dust and scent of rose.

Amidst the prayers a battle was being waged over every soul, The armies of Heaven were stepping in and taking unseen action over every name lifted up.

The place was on fire with thunder and noise of victory! Shouts of “hallelujah!” and “amen” and “yes!” arose.

I do not know if air was necessary to my lungs, I do not know if I was physically weary…all I could do was continue to pound the ground in dance for what I knew my bible teaches is truth for those lost in “the Valley of Shadow.”

Background words to the musical piece wove their way into my present reality: “Holy are you God, Holy is Your name; Everything I am, my heart will sing, how I love you”; over and over the voices sang these haunting words of truth as the vison continued.

…..

I find it difficult to describe what happened to me in my little black jeep today, perhaps it was too intimate of an encounter to share with anyone…but none-the-less I share it to give a message of hope. I believe and I know that God accepted, heard and loved every prayer offered for those in need today.

“May my prayers like incense rise before you, the lifting of my hands a sacrifice..O Lord Jesus turn your eyes upon me that I may have mercy in Your sight.” (Psalm 141:2)

Don’t walk away dear ones, He loves you and awaits your return to hope in expectation of His tangible, intimate heart of love for YOU!

“REJOICE in hope, be patient in tribulation, be CONSTANT in prayer.” (Rom. 12:12)
 

Wisdom from a Hummingbird Dual

They were in a serious battle!!

Two hummingbirds sword fighting over the bird feeder, threatening each other with such intensity that neither could drink the sweet nectar for fear it meant a fatal stabbing.

It was great entertainment for me as I sat on my back patio with my morning coffee; it also brought a very clear lesson about conflict in relationships.

Sometimes we grow so self-focused in relational conflict that we actually prevent one another from drinking the sweet nectar ever-present in the midst of it all.

You know Who I’m talking about… our Savior Jesus. He waits quietly while we busy ourselves over self-defense because we have taken offense.

Listen to God’s word from the book of Colossians;” 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 in perfect harmony. And LET the peace of Christ RULE in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.” (3:12-15)
….

The highlight of my hummingbird entertainment was observing both birds fly away without having received food from the feeder. They managed to keep each other from the one thing they needed and desired.

I heard God’s voice loud and clear that morning before I had even opened my Bible!