Today There’s Still Beauty

What would happen if you took time to be still? If you took time to be you? If you took time to be wholly and holy with God in his world, in his creation?

Beauty can renew and beauty can speak to the deepest parts of our soul and our hearts. But only if we let it. Only if we seek it.

Only if we take time to be still.

This morning, I had a wonderful conversation with a friend who reminded me about the amazing things that God does when we are quiet and still and focused on him. When we come and sit with him and when we listen for him.

Because that is when we can hear him best, in the quiet of our life and in the quiet of our mind. And as Sara spoke, I heard God’s voice in hers, over hers, calling me back to him, back to the intimacy that breathes life into me and into my moments.

It’s not that I have strayed from him, but that I’ve been too busy for him. Crazy, right? Too busy for the God who created me, who redeemed me, who loves me. But that’s what’s been happening, a little more each day, probably since a week or so after Easter.

Recently, I have not been still; instead, I have been hurried and harried.

Recently, I have not stood in this world that God created and sought his presence; instead, I have flitted from one To Do to the next mumbling short bursts of please, please, please and will you, will you, will you.

Recently, I have not let time be; instead I have chased it and fought it and wasted it.

Recently, I have not let myself be me nor let myself just be; instead I have shape shifted to meet other’s expectations and I have retreated behind walls of protection and self-preservation in efforts to control my world and the people in it.

standing in God's creation

the beauty of God’s creation

But today, I talked to Sara and she spoke love and truth and they were the very cup of cold water that my thirsty soul needed. She was the voice of Jesus reminding me that I am wholly his and that he wants only to hold me in his care.

So today, I am still, even if only for a few moments. I pause and I let time pass even while I push aside the list of things to do and ignore the sense of urgency that the day hoists upon my shoulders.

Today, I am still. I am standing in the midst of God’s creation with its sprinkling of misty rain and its vibrant, lush green and its cushion of overcast grays.

And there, in all of this beauty, in this moment, I see God. I see him in the colors of flowers and grass and leaves. I hear him in the swishing of the leaves. I feel him in the delicate tap of raindrops on my arm. I smell him in the newness of the mud forming beneath my naked feet.

And there, in the stillness, I realize that I am whole. And that I am holy. Standing in the presence of my Creator, I am revived, I am alive, even in stillness. Because of stillness.

I breathe in the beauty, letting it soak into my skin, carrying it with me as I turn toward the rest of my day, renewed, resurrected to holiness and wholeness by his presence in my stillness. And I remember that it’s this intimacy with my Creator that gives me my strength and my courage, that gives me my every breath.

And there’s no way I’m too busy to be still.

No Longer Nothing

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

Five Minute Friday

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Nothing

{Go}

out of the darkness

out of the darkness

Thinking about it takes my breath away. The idea that there was nothing.

Nothing but the Spirit of God moving over the deep dark nothingness. And then.

And then, creation began.

From nothing.

From nothing but the whisper of God’s words, creating something from nothing.

Only God.

Calling me out of my nothingness, out of my darkness, out of my doubt, out of my fear.

Into his light.

Into existence, into life, into his presence.

Nothing but the Spirit of God moving through me, through my heart, through my soul.

Through my life.

Impeded only by my stubborn, stiff-necked, prideful, know-it-all attitude.

But, still.

From the stillness, from my stillness, there is life. So much life, given freely in Christ, who was everything.

My nothingness, my darkness, infused with everything: infused with life, infused with Light, infused with truth, infused with hope.

No more nothing.

But everything.

All the world my stage upon which to stand and to shine my Light and to proclaim his glory and his Truth.

To proclaim my story that comes because.

Because of his glory.

I am because.

Because I Am.

I am his. I am Light. I am Truth. I am loved. I am redeemed. I am somebody.

Because I am his.

Because his Spirit moved across the nothing that was me and breathed life into me.

Into the dust.

Knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I stand because he fell.

I love because he loved more.

I live because he died.

I rise from nothing, from ashes, to become all that he saw in me in the time before time.

I am because Jesus lives in me.

I am.

Because I Am whispered life into me.

Each heartbeat an opportunity.

Each breath, a whisper of God in this world.

{stop}

A Life of Beauty

I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory. Maya Angelou

a glimpse of beauty

a glimpse of beauty

Maya Angelou’s life, like her words, were beautiful, encouraging and inspiring. And in honor of her beauty and her life, I find myself thinking about my words as well as my life, and how well I am using both. Because I want to take hold of those wisps of glory and ignite them for the world and for the Creator to see.

I want my wisps of glory to be bold and brilliant and to be all-encompassing, so that by those wisps of glory I am able to lift up those lives that touch mine.

I want conversations that I share with my little girls to be prayers raised to God’s ears and to be worship of his glory.

I want my words to speak love into the lives of those who cross my path each day.

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope. Maya Angelou

I want my life to weave a story that flows with love and beauty and poetry and creativity and delight in Jesus.

I want to live boldly even in the face of adversity; especially in the face of adversity.

I want to extend my words and my life to others, to walk alongside them and to encourage them in the living and the sharing of their stories.

I want to live deliberately, doing what I can where I am to change the world with my words and my deeds.

I want to celebrate joy in the small, insignificant moments by whispering words of wonder and love in my little girls’ hearts.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. Maya Angelou

I want to sit quietly in the shade of a tree and consider the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds me and capture that in words and in memories.

I want to absorb the vastness of the heavens and speak its starry wonder in whispered prayers and conversations with my husband and with Jesus.

I want to laugh at things that are silly and at things that are petty annoyances or frustrations so that joy lives in my heart and in my soul and in the words I speak.

I want to embrace gentleness and kindness and reflect that in the way I live with my girls, with my husband, with my neighbors, with my world and with God’s children.

I want to stand beside still waters and let the silence surround me and fill me with the presence of God in the world and in my words.

Nothing can dim the light which shines from within. Maya Angelou

I want to remember and to remind others that the God of all creation bends low to touch his heart to ours, to take our hands in his, to whisper his promises in our ears.

I want my choices, my words, my actions, my every breath of life to proclaim hope because we are born of hope and redeemed in love and because we live by faith and love with grace.

Lost at Sea

Writing Prompt:

“O, thou ever restless sea / ‘God’s half-uttered mystery,'” wrote Albert Laighton in his poem “The Missing Ships” (1878). While significantly fewer ships go missing nowadays, search teams have recently been pouring all of their efforts into finding the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The longer the search takes, the higher the likelihood the secrets inside the aircraft’s black box will be lost forever. This week write a poem about searching for a “lost ship.” Consider the ocean’s depth, the cleansing powers of its salt water, and the hopelessness of its vast magnitude.

{raw writing with no inner critic}

Overwhelmed by the waves, she sinks, the surface receding from her sight.

Her hopes, her dreams disappear with her beneath the surface.

She has energy enough to save herself or to save her dreams; she refuses to choose.

Because really aren’t they one and the same?

Aren’t her hopes, her dreams, isn’t that who she is, at least at her core?

So she thinks.

She does not think about the moment that her feet touched the water’s undulating surface, skimming its boundless edge, making her way to him.

Because he beckoned.

Because he called her out.

Called her out upon this scintillating sea that rises and falls beneath her feet like her breath.

And so she stood.

And so she walked.

Boldly.

Until the weight, until the wait, of her dreams demanded her attention, wanting her all.

Even as she breathed in the saltiness of the miracle.

Even as she lost herself to the moment.

The wait gave her pause.

The weight gave her cause to stumble, to lose her lightness on the water, to sink into the waves, swallowed by the vastness of it all.

waves on the shore

Another wave washes over her head and she sputters, fighting against the weight that threatens to take her down, deep below the surface.

Into the depths.

Into the darkness.

Until.

A hand reaches her, pulls her up, holds her there as she catches her breath and catches his eye.

Do you trust me?

Do I trust you? she asks herself as her breath falls into the rhythm of the waves.

Miles behind her the boat sits empty.

Do I trust you?

She lets him see her, scared, dripping, embarrassed. She needs to know how he sees her.

She needs to know.

About her dreams and where they are and what happens next, but.

But, all she knows is that her feet skim the water’s surface and his hand holds hers.

All she knows is that she did not drown.

All she knows is that he did not let her go.

Do I trust you?

He watches her. Lets her go.

And she knows.

It is not him who needs her.

It is not him who needs her answer.

 

The Naked Truth

I walk in darkness but yearn for light.

I fight back tears of hurt and of fear and of regret.

I look around and do not recognize the life I am living and wonder how long was the journey to this moment. A month? A year? A lifetime?

I walk in darkness but yearn for light.

I taste the salt of my tears as they slide silently to the curve of my chin, weaving a pattern of brokenness and of longing. A longing for more than what I see and a longing for more than what I am living.

Though I recognize glimpses of beauty, I am buried by a burden of sorrow, a burden of illusion. Self-created illusion.

Where I proclaim faith, there is yearning.

Where I proclaim love, there is hurting.

Where I proclaim dreams, there is doubt.

Where I proclaim grace, there is guilt.

Where I proclaim light, there is darkness.

Where I proclaim life, there is dying.

Where I proclaim Jesus, there is Jesus.

Because his presence doesn’t need anything from me but to whisper his name, even when that whisper comes from the dark pit within my heart, the part of my heart that stays hidden beneath the smiles and the illusion of a life lived well. I don’t know, maybe you have a darkness like that. A darkness where the pain is real and raw and ignored.

Because to show anyone, even Jesus, that festering pustule of pain would surely contradict the joy of life in Christ you project.

But it’s there.

And sometimes, when you least expect it, the tears fall and the pain rises and the storm rages forth and the carefully created facades are battered away, leaving only you, naked, for all the world, and Jesus, to see. No longer hidden by carefully crafted illusions. Exposed and real.

And afraid.

Afraid of who you’ve become and afraid of where you are and afraid that you cannot change these things.

 photo courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski on stock.xchng

photo courtesy of Michal Zacharzewski on stock.xchng

So you whisper his name and you call on his mercy. And you beg him to help you because you cannot help yourself. You are the woman at the well, you are the woman caught in adultery, you are man with a legion of demons, you are the man who can never get to the healing waters when it’s time, you are the woman who touches the hem of his robe, you are the ruler who knows he can heal your child.

You are broken, but you are his.

You are hurting, but you are his.

You are afraid, but you are his.

You are lost, but you are his.

You are lonely, but you are his.

You are trapped, but you are his.

You are yearning for more because you are his.

You are his.

And because you are his, nothing is impossible. Though it all seems too much for you, nothing is impossible for him.

You are not impossible for him. You are not too much for him, you are not too broken for him or too messed up for him or too lost for him. You can never be too much of anything for Jesus. He knows you. He created you. He loves you.

He loves you.

He loves you right now in this moment and right where you are.

And if you let that raw, naked truth, if you let that no-strings-attached, overflowing love, wash over you and seep into all of the cracks of your carefully created facade, I promise you it will find its way into that hidden darkness in your heart. It will bring healing and it will bring hope and it will bring light. Because trust me, his light has overcome the darkness and he has overcome the world. He has already won the battle so you don’t need to fight it.

You are his.

He loves you.

Nothing is impossible for Jesus.

Whisper his name and watch him work in your life, in your heart, in your darkness, in your pain.

Because you are his.

Grace Enough for Today

Sometimes my heart knows the words I need before I can speak them. Sometimes my heart feels the hurts and the brokenness before I realize them. Sometimes my heart yearns for a hope I can barely understand let alone express. In those times, I let my heart speak. I let it whisper prayers for healing and for truth.

And for grace. Enough for today.

Enough for today.

Today, I claim the grace I need for yesterday’s words spoken in anger to my children and to myself. I claim the grace I need for the missed steps, for the choices I made that didn’t honor you, Jesus, and for the bitterness I clung to rather than release in favor of you and your truth.

Today, in this moment, I confess that I need grace more than I can bear. I need your grace, Jesus, and your mercy. Because some days are rough and raw and I am needy and weak. Because some days are ugly and you, Jesus, are beauty.

You, Jesus, are the beauty in my brokenness. You are the beauty and the grace that sustains me. You are the source of all that I yearn to be and to see in my world.

Today, Jesus, I claim the grace and the blood that wipes the slate clean and gives me a new start.

Today, Jesus, I step out of the boat and onto the water not just in faith, but in hope. And in expectation.

Today, Jesus. I give today to you. Every moment. Every thought. Every word. Every dream. Every hustle. Every desire. I lay them down, Lord. And I pick up your love, your grace.

Today, Jesus, I walk in love. I walk in grace. I walk in hope.

Today, Jesus, I look to you and seek your face and your truth, especially your truth about me, about who I am because of whose I am.

today I will bask in the beauty of who God is and what he has done

today I will bask in the beauty of who God is and what he has done

Today, Jesus, I refuse to accept the lies of the Enemy that worm their way into my brokenness, wanting me to believe that I am less than, that I do not count, that I do not matter, that I am not enough. Instead of his lies, Jesus, I stop here in my tracks and look to you. I look at you and there I see who I am. I see who you created me to be and who you daily call me to be.

No, I will not live out the lies that claw at me relentlessly.

No, I will not live out the picture the world paints for me.

No, I will not live out this idea that I am less than; I will not cut and run.

I will not give up.

I will not quit.

I will not give in to the chorus of voices that try desperately to drown out the voice of Truth. 

No, I will pause and I will breathe and I will heed that still small voice that whispers on the wind that moves through the trees and is carried in the song of sparrow and projected in the shapes of the clouds and the shadows on the ground. In that beauty is the truth. In that symphony of creation is the essence of me.

Please, Jesus, hold me. Hold my heart, my dreams and my desires. Shape them, and conform them. Align them with your Truth and with the desires of your pure love, your pure Light. Take the promise of them and bear them with me so that I may walk in your Light with my eyes firmly locked on you and you alone.

Let your presence fill me as I seek your face today.

When Night Closes In

{this post is part of Five-Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker}

Five Minute Friday

How it works: Write on one word for five minutes. No editing. Then link up your post with the rest of the brave writers on Five-Minute Friday and encourage them by reading and commenting on what they’ve shared. {All the details for how to play along are here.}

Today’s word: Close…

{Go} 

Darkness surrounds me and I close my eyes. Beside me, close enough that I can feel her every breath, my sweet six year old mumbles in her sleep. Restless again.

I close my eyes in desperation.

I close my eyes in exhaustion, yearning for sleep.

I close my eyes in prayer.

Jesus loves you, my darling

Jesus loves you, my darling

A prayer that comes out in the from of a familiar childhood song, Jesus Loves Me. It’s the song I have sung to each of my daughters from the moment I held them in my arms.

Except that I have always sung it as, Jesus Loves You.

And so, here, in the dark, in response to a difficult dream, to a night waking moment, I close my eyes and sing a prayer over my sweet girl:

Jesus loves you, this I know

for the Bible tells me so

little ones to him belong

they are weak but he is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves you,

Yes, Jesus loves you,

Yes, Jesus loves you,

the Bible tells me so.

I sing this prayer until I see the lids of her eyes flutter and close. 

And then, I sit a little longer there in the dark. Watching her. Watching over her.

Praying over her.

And I thank God that he is who he is and that he is in control. That he loves her.

That he loves me.

And for a moment, with darkness cloaked around me and God’s voice whispering so close to my heart, to my soul, I sit. I pause.

And I marvel at the fact that my daughter and I share this amazing love. That we share the same Father in heaven.

With my eyes closed, I bask in the Light of all that he is.

{stop}