faithfulness, grace and letting it go

"If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself." - 2 Timothy 2: 13

"...Christ in you, the hope of glory." - Colossians 1:27

These words simply leapt off the pages at me this morning as I read.

A year ago yesterday I made a mistake. I was pretty sure I was supposed to be somewhere doing something with someone, and as the time drew nearer and nearer to go do it, I began to question my sanity and my ability to hear God's voice at all... so not only did I do nothing, but I ran in completely the opposite direction. I have had great cause to regret the decision I made that day - the events I can see now in retrospect that were set off by that choice caused what could be viewed as a lot of unnecessary heartbreak. And yet I have learned so much along that road, for all that it maybe wasn't the best road to be on in the first place. There's no Plan B - I know that. God knew long before I did the number of idiotic things I would say and do over the past year.... but I suppose it's just human nature to wonder what would have happened if only we could get a do-over every now and again....


I've said it before: the acronym I learned for grace was "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." Mercy, forgiveness, peace, acceptance, love - everything we need so desperately, freely given to us at great cost. A gift that is not temporary, not conditional on our deserving it or earning it, and that will not be taken back. I have had so much cause in the last 365 days to need that grace for so many reasons....

Guilt is a horrible antithesis to grace. As a perfectionist who wrestles a good deal with feelings of inadequacy and hates failure with a passion, I find myself in the guilt cycle a lot... knowing there's grace, but struggling to accept it, somehow thinking that if I just beat myself up a little more, it'll somehow atone for the fact that I was an idiot. God is continuing to remind me, even this morning, that I really need to knock it off. It isn't true; beating myself up over the things I've failed at will not help. Wallowing in my guilt will do nothing but focus me in on myself. But looking at Him - fixing my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2) - will do everything to help.

Years ago when I first became a Christian, a couple of counselors at the camp I attended pulled an all-nighter and prayed for the 5 of us that had come to Christ that year and in whom they had invested. They got us each a Bible, and asked God to give them verses that would speak into and mark our lives in the future, and He did. They called it the "Emergency Scripture List" and I cannot tell you how many times in the half a lifetime that I've been following Christ I have turned to that list and found exactly what I needed. (Funny how God works that way - His Word meeting our Toward the bottom of the page, they had written out 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." And next to that, they wrote "-- a promise that NO ONE can wear out!!!"

No one can wear it out... it is as true today as it was yesterday. All I have to do is own up to what I've done, where I've erred, how I've failed to be faithful to Him and turned to myself or whatever it is - and He will be faithful (for He cannot disown Himself, and He lives in me by grace). And not only will He forgive me - but He'll also purify me. Sometimes that hurts like hell. Fire is hot, and silver needs to be melted to be purified. Sometimes the flowers need to be crushed a bit to emit a sweeter fragrance. The metaphors could go on and on, but you get the idea... Purification is a process that takes time and can be relatively unpleasant sometimes. But oh! The end product - being like Christ - is so worth it.

There is a beautiful confessional prayer I found years ago in one of Madeleine L'Engle's books, The Love Letters. The story, as I remember it, is that of a nun named Mariana who falls madly in love with a man who, by virtue of her devotion to Christ, is off-limits. They have an affair, and the story tells of her struggle with her feelings and her knowledge of right and wrong, and deals with all kinds of issues surrounding sin and grace - and there are two bits of the story that are kicking around in my head. (Spoiler alert!!! For those who want to stop reading...) :)

One is something I think the nun wrote to the man at the end of the story. "I have discovered that you yourself were less important to me than my own passion." (p. 314) Wow. Doesn't that just sum it up right there? Any struggle we have with sin may boil right down to that "it's all about me" attitude. No. It isn't. It's all about God and His glory, and when we focus on anything else, we wander.

But the prayer.... at the end of the story, Mariana goes to confession, and she says, "I confess to Almighty God . . . that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my most grievous fault..." (p. 328)

Through my most grievous fault.


"But thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!" - 2 Corinthians 9:15

the lionization of roses

To lionize something is to attribute an extreme amount of importance or significance to it. People lionize celebrities, or places like Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower...

I have lionized roses.

I've always loved them, ever since I was a little kid. Ha, I've just remembered an elementary school Easter where I so wanted my picture (you know, the annual Easter dress/bonnet picture) taken in front of our rosebush. I can see the snapshot in my head - me and my sister and my mom with her arms around us, in front of the bushes. They smelled so wonderful.

Years ago, when I first started leading worship, a friend of mine had given me a necklace and a matching set of earrings shaped like silver roses. I wore them almost every time I led worship for awhile, and I felt such an... I don't know, it was just right to put them on as I headed out the door to church. Kind of like taking my shoes off. It was just something I was supposed to do.

Fast forward to October of this past year - 2007. Second Friday, I believe. Our leadership team for Torch meets each month (in theory) and we were taking turns going about and telling each other what we felt God was calling us to, what our gift mixes were, and how we were wired, and then people got to give us feedback on whether they thought we'd discerned rightly or not. It was pretty cool, actually. I happened to be up that particular night, and I shared all the usual things about worship leading and missions and whatnot, but startled even myself by saying that I felt God was calling me to teach, and discovered it was true as I said it aloud.

My friend Veggie (yes, really) kicked off the feedback portion of the discussion by saying, "Happy, you're a really complex person." And everyone busted up laughing. (I'm still honestly not quite sure how to take that... I mean, I know it's true, but seriously...) :)

And Jake later that evening walked out of the meeting with me, and said, "You know, when Veggie said that, at first I thought, 'yeah, you're kind of like an onion... only that would imply that you're spicy and you make people cry, and that's not true. No... really, I know it's kind of cheesy, but the image that comes to mind is that of a rose. It's absolutely beautiful in its bud form, but as it unfolds petal by petal it just becomes more and more beautiful. And that's who you are."

Wow. That's cool...

Last winter I went to an interesting little church, and everyone in the meeting that particular night had a vision of some sort during the worship time and shared it (it was a small meeting). I didn't say anything, being a visitor, but on the way home, Jake asked me, "so what did you see?"

Part of what I saw was a pool in an ancient city
, and I was sitting at the edge of it, and behind it and over my head was this lattice thing, and vines were beginning to grow over it. And then a couple of months ago there was a night (around the time I was having all those flashbacks to old memories) during which I had a strange experience... it was like I was looking at all those memories through a telescope, but over the whole image was superimposed that lattice, and over it were rapidly growing vines that were just covered in roses...

I've prayed off and on for a couple of months now, asking God what that was about, and I think I've finally come to understand. The lattice is His love and His word (the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the framework) - and the vines are my identity in Christ. And every rose is an aspect of my personality, finally beginning to bloom.

You wouldn't believe how many times roses/flowers have come up in the past few weeks. Jake randomly posting on my Facebook wall "every rose has its thorns." (yeeeeaaaahhhhh... sorry about that; I'm working on it, really!) Quotes in Elisabeth Elliot's Passion and Purity. Something my pastor said last Sunday. Jill Briscoe reading something on the radio last weekend from someone else about the way some flowers exude a stronger fragrance when their petals are completely crushed. (Roses can be like that. Their bushes also need to be vigorously pruned in order to help them grow...)

And this amazing Ansel Adams photo of a rose growing through a piece of driftwood...

I had a dream a couple of months ago, which didn't, after all, mean what I thought it did - but in the dream there was this lion walking around and he was wearing a crown. In the crown, instead of the jewel you might expect as the centerpiece, was a single live rose, and it was in full bloom.

I am the rose in the Lion's crown, and I am blooming...

One petal unfolding at a time, I am becoming who I was always meant to be. It's taken a good deal of investment - time, energy, sunlight, fertilizer (a.k.a.: sh*t.... lol!) , love.... but it's working. I am becoming the rose I was meant to be.... and I am worth waiting for.

That's a revelation I have truly come to treasure.

send the rain - part 3

No, I haven't finished the bridge yet, but I just had to tell you about the really amazing experience I had this evening. It's been really stormy all day, which suited me just fine because it just seemed so appropriate to the day (more on that later) - but this evening I was dinking around with that song, and just as I got to the bit about "Jesus, send the rain" in the first section, the heavens opened up and it poured buckets. And it kept pouring until I finished the song, and there was thunder and lightning during the middle section where the music gets very angsty and stormy (the part where I don't know the words yet, but thunder and lightning fit in there somewhere). It was one of the most freaking cool things ever - and then when I got to the tail end where the music gets all peaceful again, the rain lightened up, and stopped altogether.

How cool is that?

We serve an absolutely amazing God.

amazing grace and unadulterated hope

So much for being unaccounted for. :)

HT: ASBO Jesus

Jon called it "unadulterated hope." I love that. It sounds so... pure. sweet. innocent. the way it should be....

of course that does beg the question... what does adulterated hope look like? And how (or where) do we find unadulterated hope? Feel free to discuss in my absence. :)

hymnsings and requiems

It was a great weekend.

Sorry for the longer silences of late and to come - between song-writing, spring weather, 3 months worth of homework crammed into 2 weeks (I have 2 papers and an exam to accomplish yet this week!), and the internal rumblings accompanying the next of the shifts that are always signified by these silences... anyway. I'll be back soon, I promise. (Maybe with an explanation!) Hoping for time for one good post on Friday for sure - but the rest of the week I'll probably be pretty much unaccounted for.

But it really was a great weekend. I took a road trip with Jesus to visit some friends, and it was so good... I got to go hear a concert last night that was really well done - Beethoven's Triple Concerto and Mozart's Requiem. Beautiful. Moving. As always, the sadness of the requiem got me thinking and tearing up about other things... somewhat appropriate, being funeral music, that I was able to just sit and mourn a loss or two in the darkness of an auditorium, but then I got turned heavenward by the more joyful ending of the piece, the company of one of my best friends, and God's Spirit just coming to comfort me.

And then I got to go to a church this morning with actual pews and stained glass windows (if you have one that you go to, just stop the next time you walk in and look around and appreciate its beauty for me, would you?!). They had a hymnsing before church - anyone could pick what hymn they wanted, and they did 2 verses. It was so cool... And then I got to sing more hymns, and participate in a liturgical service. I got to confess my sins and be reminded that I'm absolved of them. I got benedicted. :) And I got to hear one of my other best friends in the world preach for the first time in years - and he was always quite good, but he's even better now. And God really spoke to my heart through his sermon, so that was pretty sweet too.

The rest of the day was incredibly restful. Good chat with best friend in current hometown. "Spontaneous" (translation: incredibly strong hunch that turned out to be God's direction) trip to the bookstore for an excellent book. Walk in the forest preserve. Park bench with the new book. Vision meeting at church that was packed out (this was incredible) and meeting up with old friends I haven't seen in months. All in all, a good day, and a good weekend.

And definitely time to go sleep and gear up for the week. Blessings to you all, and I'll "see" you soon.

send the rain - (unfinished)

for the widow at Zarephath

standing here in this desert place
watching the clouds roll in
wondering if today's the day
it's been so long since we've had rain

and You have been faithful
You have been faithful
there has always been enough
but still we are waiting
waiting and praying
praying, Jesus, send your rain

standing here, with hearts of clay
cracked and dry, just like the ground
longing for torrential rains
to flood and soak into us now

and You have been faithful
You have been faithful
You have always been enough
but still we are waiting
waiting and praying
praying, Jesus, send your rain

Holy Spirit, come
Lord, how we need Your Presence here

standing here in this desert place
it won't be long 'til we see rain

(c) 2008 Happy Records, Inc.

send the rain - part 2

for the widow at Zarephath

so... i've never actually done this... posting songs in process... welcome to Happy-land, the unseen side. :P and a glimpse into the sort of process a lot of things go thru in my head. (tho i still claim the best songs i've written are the ones i've just sort of thrown up...) :P

verse one has amazingly stayed the same:

standing here in this desert place
watching the clouds roll in
and wondering if today's the day
it's been so long since we've had rain

wow, look at that - so has the chorus- except for one word; i changed "your" to "the" because it sings better

and You have been faithful
You have been faithful
there has always been enough
but still we are waiting
waiting and praying
praying, Jesus, send the rain

verse 2, slightly modified:

standing here, with hearts of clay
cracked and dry just like the ground
longing for torrential rains
to flood and soak into us now

i got to thinking about what happens when torrential rains hit the cracked dry ground - it pools on top. (i am well familiar with that image as i've successfully forgotten to water Stanley often enough that he is officially no longer with us. well, he is, actually, as i've been too lazy to take him out to the trash... sigh. procrastination is a rare art form, do you know that? (i'm writing my term paper right now, can't you tell?)) :)

and You have been faithful
You have been faithful
You have always been enough
but still we are waiting
waiting and praying
praying, Jesus, send the rain

now this is the bit that's giving me trouble.
it's pretty much ALL WRONG.
the ideas are right, just not the words, and I think the Lion will need his own song. it's about roaring and chasing the darkness away, and Narnia ending and all that sort of thing.

so... Send your rain! Let it pour
yes, i like that - but then what?
something about a floodtide...

and somewhere in here should be something about life coming back... clouds breaking open, blessing falling from the skies (this storm may not look like blessing at first but it is... because they've needed it so long...)

Let thunder crash and lightning flash

and mercy falls, redemption calls

and everything is right again...

raaar.... i really want to get this bit figured out! i've got the music, just not the words... *sigh* i really should go write my term paper... :P

then the last verse - (not quite the) same as the first anymore

standing here in this desert place
it won't be long till we see rain

(c) 2008 Happy Records, Inc.

So that's that. I hope you found it entertaining. I personally enjoyed the read about Stanley. And am trying not to read too much into the fact that he died... lol.

send the rain

for the widow at Zarephath

standing here in this desert place
watching the clouds roll in
and wondering if today's the day
it's been so long since we've had rain

and You have been faithful
You have been faithful
there has always been enough
but still we are waiting
waiting and praying
praying, Jesus, send your rain

standing here, our hearts like clay
cracked and dry just like the ground
longing for torrential rains
to wash away the dust and pain

and You have been faithful
You have been faithful
You have always been enough
but still we are waiting
waiting and praying
praying, Jesus, send your rain

Send your rain! Let it pour
Let the thunder crash and lightning flash
till everything that's Yours is drenched
and mercy falls, compassion calls
and the Lion lays down with His lambs
and everything is right again

standing here in this desert place
watching the clouds roll in
and wondering if today's the day
it's been so long since we've had rain

(c) 2008 Happy Records, Inc.

I think that's how it goes, anyway.... still working on it. :)

going to war

I led worship with my shoes on tonight.

It was the weirdest thing... I took them off to go get onstage and I felt ... I don't know, I just felt like I should put them back on. So I did. And I went to war.

I had a couple of personal wars to wage tonight, one for a friendship that's a bit on the fritz, and one for my freedom from something with which I am wrestling. But mostly I went to war for our people. We sang a song tonight called "The Lord Is Gracious and Compassionate" and I felt in my soul a conviction that we were not really believing that. So I challenged that, and declared God's Word to be the truth, and asked our people to stand and to go after it - and we sang at the top of our lungs that as far as the east is from the west, that's how far God has removed our transgressions from us.

Do you know how far that is? You can't get there - it's so far, it doesn't exist.... that's where God puts our sin. It's gone. How incredibly freeing is that?!?! Whatever it was that separated you from the Lord today - or whatever tried to - it can't, because it doesn't exist anymore. All our sin is atoned for - it's done, it's finished. He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love.

I am told that there was a good deal of freedom in the room tonight. I hope so. :) I was rather caught in the haze of battle... but it was good to be there. With my boots on. Going to war.

Check out 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 today, if you get a chance. It's a cool story - and one that I want to meditate on. What drew me to it tonight was the idea that as the musicians went out at the head of the army and sang and praised the LORD, God went to war for His people. And He was so successful that while the army marched to war - when they got there, there was nothing left to do. "You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm, and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you." (v. 17)

I took my place tonight, and I am watching now to see His deliverance. Praise the LORD, o my soul; praise the LORD.

checking in about those New Year's "resolutions"...

It made me laugh, because I'd forgotten all about it - but I'm so glad I found this, and I'm glad for the way God worked in it today. :)

On New Year's Day, I posted a meme/challenge called Stand At The Crossroads. Mike's the only one who took me up on it, I think, but the question of the year was: what three things would you like to see God accomplish in your life this year? and the challenge was to check in periodically and see how it's been going.

Mike actually remembered. :) Which reminded me to go look and see what I'd said.

1) I would like to see God's hand at work in the development of my character. I want to become a more humble person, more caring, more compassionate, more honest, more trustworthy, a better friend, a kinder person - more like Jesus. I want to love God and my neighbor not because I "have to" or because it's right, but because it's an honest extension of who I am. I cannot become those things on my own. I need Him to refine me.

Would it be prideful to say I think I'm getting there? lol... I'm NOT there yet - but I've seen growth... and interestingly enough, the term paper topic I chose that I've been researching and will be writing on all weekend is on loving your enemies - the flip side of loving your neighbors - or rather, realizing that your enemies are your neighbors... wait, that doesn't sound quite right... :) but I think you know what I mean...

2) I want to recognize God's voice more clearly and more readily. To do this I need to spend more time in worship, more time in His Word, and more time in His Presence. I need Him to teach me how to hear His voice.

Yep. Working on this too - and while I forgot, He sure didn't. :) Remember that guitar string story?

3) I want the Lord to teach me how to trust Him more deeply than I already do. I am aware that this means He will likely lead me into (or allow) circumstances that will require me to trust Him. Remind me I said this, but I'm okay with that, if it means that I truly learn to trust Him for everything I need, materially, emotionally, spiritually - everything.

deep sigh. Yep. He's definitely teaching me about this. The Battle of the Shoes was a big part of that. and there's... well. some laundry just needs to stay in the laundry room, but i am learning to trust Him.

in accordance with the Word of the Lord... part 4

reflections on 1 Kings 17: 14-24

links to:
part 1

part 2
part 3
1 Kings 17

I can't imagine what it must have actually been like. It's a two-story house, but maybe only a room or two on each level; stone walls, dirt floor likely. A small jar and a little jug sitting in the corner of the kitchen. Every morning, dumping out the flour, mixing it with water, cooking it up, eating the bread. Getting up the next morning - and doing it again. In spite of the fact that it was empty yesterday.

Or maybe it was different. Maybe the jug and the jar were always full, tho I don't think so. I think it was just as He said in v. 14: "The jar of flour will not be used up. and the jug of oil will not run dry..." So maybe she scooped out the flour, and it was still in there - but in her mixing bowl too. And she poured out the oil, but there was the same amount left in the jar.

I don't know how it worked exactly. But either way, it worked. There was always enough for three people. "in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah." (v. 16)

What would that have been like, for a woman who did not know God, to see a miracle like that every morning? What would it tell her about Him? What does it tell us? The words that spring to mind for me are: faithfulness. provision. love. compassion. enough. This is a God who cares about His people. And He cares enough to provide for those who are not-His-people as well. I wonder if she ever experienced wonder about that. Or if, as time went on, the wonder began to wear off, and "oh, of course there's enough" became the expectation instead.

But one day, her son gets sick. He gets sicker and sicker - and then he stops breathing. And she blames Elijah. And she blames herself. She thinks it's because of her sin that her son has died (oh, so she knows she has sinned... i wonder if they've been talking, all these days, this widow and this prophet she's been feeding). And she thinks Elijah killed him. Or she says she does.

But she's seen the miracle. She knows it's God she's dealing with. And somewhere, she might have hoped... but only way down deep where she didn't even admit it to herself... but maybe? So when Elijah asks for the body, she lets him take her son.

I wonder if she followed him upstairs. If she saw what Elijah did. Or if he simply told her about it later. I would have followed, I think. But maybe not. Maybe I would've collapsed in a heap and just sobbed. I might've been tempted to throw things. Maybe a jug of oil or a jar of flour. But she didn't throw them. And however it is that we know, the Bible tells us that Elijah took the boy to his own room, and he "cried out to the Lord."

This was no nice, polite, lame "please make him better if it's Your will, God" prayer. This was so much more "in your face." Elijah cried out (loud?) - "O LORD my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?"

Lord - You are still the King. You're still in charge. You're the one I appeal to.

My God - You are God. But You are my God. So I come to You.

Have You brought tragedy also upon this woman... - oooh. This is telling. Elijah considers what has happened to him - being in a foreign land, living with a widow and her son, having all he needs provided, and not being killed by King Ahab - to be tragic. It is possible he is need of a bit of perspective here.

It is also possible that it is tragic. If all were the way it were meant to be, life would be normal. There'd be rain. Elijah would be at home. The king of Israel would be serving the God of Israel. But all is not normal. And it's tragic, because it could all have been prevented if one stubborn, stupid, selfish king would swallow his pride and burn a few Asherah poles, say he's sorry, and repent of his sin. And it's tragic and unfair that a woman who risked trusting a God she did not yet know and cared for one of His prophets should lose her son to an illness that he probably wouldn't have caught if there'd been rain and ... um, vegetables? I don't know. Regardless, it's unfair, and Elijah lets God know he thinks so.

Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this boy's life return to him!" (v. 21)

And God heard. And said, "Okay. Yes."

And Elijah, incredibly relieved, I suspect, took him down to his mother.

And she, in complete incredulity, says, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth." (v. 24)

Now she knows? Really? And not one second before? What did she think about the flour and the oil? Was it some kind of fluke? Did she need further proof? Really?

Apparently so. But before we get too judgmental... where have we not recognized God at work? Where were we once able to attribute something to His hand, and how have we forgotten, taken for granted, or denied His work in and through that? Good, bad, or indifferent... Elijah spends a good chunk of time with this woman, and while God has spoken to her every day, by fulfilling His promises to her - she still needed a final "this is true" moment to push her over the edge into absolute faith and belief in Him.

And God made sure she got it.

in accordance with the Word of the Lord... part 3

reflections on 1 Kings 17:10-16

to start at the beginning of the series, you can go here.
for 1 Kings 17 online, here.

So Elijah hoofs it to Zarephath, and lo and behold, there's a widow at the town gate gathering firewood. (I suppose he knew she was a widow by what she was wearing, but still I wonder if God didn't whisper something to the effect of, pssst. Elijah, that's her....) So he asks her for a glass of water, and some bread.

I wonder if she knew he was a prophet. Or if she was just being nice because he looked so tired and hot and obviously in need of a glass of water. And I wonder what she thought when he asked for some bread...

What she says is interesting:

"As surely as the Lord your God lives..."
(v.12) As surely as the Lord your God lives.... as in, not my God? How does she know? Well, it's just a guess, but as he's Elijah the Tishbite from Gilead, and she's the widow of Zarepath in Sidon (which is not in Israel)... he's in a foreign country.

Wait a minute - God sent him out of Israel? Well. At least Ahab can't catch him, then. But why would God do that?

Well, it turns out He has something to say.

"Don't be afraid," Elijah tells her (v. 13). Was she? Maybe. Probably not of him, but maybe of his God. I wonder what the gods of Sidon were like? Maybe they were the sorts of gods who would take the last of what you had and let you die... What she's said to Elijah then makes sense - please don't take the end of our food, it's all we've got, and we're going to die anyway. (This is, by the way, where I remind you I'm sitting at my kitchen table, speculating and interacting with God's Word, and that I'm not in a seminary library researching the text properly. Don't take any of this as if it's authoritative, please!)

Elijah tells her not to be afraid, and that the God of Israel promises that if she'll take the risk and make him some bread, "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD gives rain on the land."

sidenote - it's not raining in Sidon either...

So she goes home and bakes the bread. She brings it to him, and goes home. And there's flour and oil again where there wasn't any. She gives him everything she has left. And God gives it back to her. Every day. For a long time.

It reminds me of the story of the widow Jesus saw in the temple once, who put two coins in the offering, and it didn't look like much to anyone else, but He knew it was all she had. I wonder what the rest of her day was like. And what she thought as she put it in...

This is necessarily vague, but the long and the short of it is that I'm in yet another season of surrender. Right now I feel as though a part of my heart is about to shatter. But God never breaks anything He can't mend, and I guess - no, I know - He knows what He's doing. I just wish I did...

But I, like the widow, will hold nothing back. If He wants the last of my flour and oil, He can take it. And I will trust Him (Psalm 77 again) to give back what I need, remembering the deeds of the Lord, and how He has always been faithful. He's a good Daddy - and just like any parent, sometimes says, "No" to things I really want because it's better. And I don't need to know why for it to be true.

I really do want to know why. I want to know why something that has brought so much joy and gladness and wealth in the truest sense of the word - something that really did feel like a gift from God - is something He wants back. And I really do want to know why it doesn't seem like I can have even one week lately where I'm not completely broken about something... you guys have walked it with me, in vague detail; you've seen it - but I did say I wanted to be like Jesus, and I guess there's an awful lot in me that isn't like Him at all that God just needs to root out, and this is probably part of that. It doesn't look much like blessing at all to me right now - any more than it probably looked like blessing to the widow to be given the opportunity to give up the last of what she believed she truly needed to survive - but it worked out alright for her, and my God is a good God.

So here we go, I guess...

in accordance with the Word of the Lord... part 2

reflections on 1 Kings 17:5-9

(if you missed Part 1 you can read it here.) :)

So Elijah did what God said, and he hightailed it to the Kerith Ravine. It was a pretty sweet deal for awhile... he hung out in the ravine, the brook provided all the water he needed, God sent some ravens along with bread for breakfast and meat for dinner - he had everything he needed. Daily bread - truly provided. Yes, the bird thing was maybe a little weird... but it was kind of cool, too, and raven germs didn't seem to affect his digestion all that much... :)

What strikes me immediately about this part of the passage is that as Elijah obeyed the Word of the Lord, he was blessed for it. If he hadn't gone specifically where God sent him, there would've been a pile of moldy bread and rotten meat by a water source in the ravine, and a hungry, thirsty (and oh, by the way, most likely hunted) prophet somewhere else. But because Elijah did what God told him to do, he found himself well provided for...

For awhile. But as v. 7 points out: "Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land." Logical course of events... no rain, no brook, eventually. So what now?

Well, God had new directions and new manners of provision for Elijah. And now that he'd seen at least two major things he'd heard God speak turn out to be quite true, Elijah, in faith, went for it. When the Word of the Lord came to him, he followed it, and headed off to Sidon, looking for a particular person... he wasn't sure who exactly, but he figured God would probably point her out. :)

Elijah believed God for some pretty incredible things.... "Elijah, go tell the king it's not going to rain for years, and that you're the one who will say when that changes." "Elijah, go live in this ravine, and I'll send birds with enough food to sustain you." "Elijah, go to this city in this region and there's this woman I want you to talk to." And he did it.

I wonder if he ever thought he was crazy?

And what did he do all day in that ravine....?

I can't say for sure, but I'm betting he did a whole lot of praying and worshiping. And napping, probably. And I'm betting that hidden time was exactly what he needed - not only to protect him from death at the hands of Ahab (which really wouldn't have been smart on Ahab's part, as Elijah was needed to bring the rain... but worshiping false gods wasn't smart either, so enough about Ahab) - but also because in that secret place with the Lord, he learned to walk with Him in ways that many prophets of his day could only dream of... and that fellowship with, that intimate knowledge of, the Lord would fuel his ministry in some pretty incredible ways.

I'm not sure I want to be chased down by kings and queens or anything like that - but I want to walk with God that way.

the me meme

Erin got tagged in a meme that I guess you could say is sort of half of a meme - it's a "me" meme - a.k.a. all about "me."

So, because I feel like blogging but don't have much to say, here's the meme.

I'm breaking the rules: you're supposed to post the rules, but i don't particularly feel like it. I'm in an oddly rebellious mood this week - I've eaten about a gallon of ice cream (very bad) and dyed my hair orange. Now I'm meme-ing with no rules. :) Consider it an aberration from "normal" Happy-like following-the-rules-ish-ness and cheer for me. Take this as a tag if you feel like it; don't if you don't. :)

so the questions (and my personal answers) are:

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

2008 minus 10 years = 1998. The year after I graduated from college. i nannied for a family in California for two or three months. Moved back to Michigan, and worked at a hotel - and hated it. And taught my first pre-school class. THAT was a good job... for all its challenges. :) Set me on a career path of teaching and nannying that I have (overall) not regretted, in spite of periodic bouts of "what have I done with my college education?" fits over the years... :)

2. what kind of snacks do you like?

i'm an Oreo-aholic. which is why i rarely buy them. same with Reeses' Peanut Butter cups. and once upon a time, M & M's.... just this way, actually....

popcorn - the kind you make on the stove in an old-fashioned turn-handle popper... with plenty of real butter and salt...

almonds. i eat a lot of them.... organic dark chocolate from Trader Joe's or World Market or Ten Thousand Villages... dried cranberries. ice cream (oh, wait, that's dinner...) anything you can put in hummus... yum. wow... i'm hungry, all of a sudden. :)

3. 5 things on your to-do list

1. put away the laundry I washed on Wednesday that is nicely folded (some of it, anyway) in a basket 7 feet from the closet (if that).

2. pay bills

3. go grocery shopping (includes run to Target to buy bookshelf on sale for books that are currently occupying windowsill, in case lawn mowing person decides to mow past window by bed, the sill of which currently contains books which prevent complete closing of shade... which could necessitate early risings on Saturdays, which really shouldn't be necessary...)

4. write term paper!!!!

5. shred contents of last junk mail basket (yes, i'm down to only ONE!!!!) :) (insert roaring crowd noises here) lol....
and of course, as you know, now that it's written down in list form, it has to get done!

and in the interest of getting a good night's sleep and getting that stuff (or some of it) done tomorrow, i'm breaking another meme-y rule, and splitting it. I'll answer the other 5 questions another day. :)

in accordance with the Word of the Lord... part 1

reflections on 1 Kings 17:1-4

so i won't be so ridiculous as to call this new series "5:00am devos," as i am unsure that i ever actually succeeded in writing one at 5:00am, nor that i will ever again be capable of getting up at 5:00am on a routine basis, but nevertheless, this is the start of a new series. i've been meaning to read up on Elijah for awhile now - he keeps popping up. so today, in the midst of a mini-funk brought on by the combination of a late night (and subsequent loss of sleep), pms, and a friendship that periodically gets a little fritzy and seems to be there again (sigh) - i made a choice: i will not give in. i will not just be in a funk. i am going to eat reeses' peanut butter cups and feel sorry for myself, but i am not going to do it alone. so i went to the Book, hoping to hear from the Lord, and started hunting for Elijah. i don't know if this is the first appearance of Elijah, but it's where we're starting. :) so turn in your Bibles, please, to 1 Kings 17. or click on it, and pick a translation. :) (and you'll want to go read that now...)

So here's Elijah, lucky enough to be alive in the days of King Ahab, one of the most, if not the most, rotten of all Israelite kings. Ahab, we're told in 1 Kings 16: 19-33, "did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him" and "did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him." And Elijah, the nice man from Gilead (you know, the sweet land where there's that really nice balm, according to the song, that makes everything better? :) that place...) - Elijah gets to go tell the mean king in Samaria that since he's being so bad, it isn't going to rain for three years.

I bet that made his day.... can you imagine it?

"good morning, Lord!"

"Good morning, Elijah. Hey, guess what, I need you to do
something for Me today."

"oh, cool. what is it?"

So God tells him.


when Elijah recovers, he gets up and heads off to see the king. oh, to have had a window into his head that day!

"um, excuse me, King Ahab?"

"yes, ... what's his name? Elijah? oh that's right, from
Tishbe... well, what the blazes do you suppose he wants?
yes, Elijah?"

"um... it's just ... well... see, here's the thing. um..."

okay, so it probably didn't go exactly like that. :)

So Elijah actually tells the king, "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word."

Silence reigns for a moment, as it sinks in.

Elijah just told the king of Israel that he (Elijah) alone would speak the words that would allow the rain to fall again. "As surely as God lives, which He does, this is the way it is."

danger!! (immediate! and to Elijah's person!)

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there."

I imagine Elijah was more than a little relieved. Never mind the bit about birds feeding him; he'd think about that later. For right now, all that mattered was that he didn't have to stand here with King Ahab staring at him like that...

part 2 can be found here

with a little bit of sheepishness...

So around 2:30am on Saturday, I was still up, watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls, until I realized what time it was, and thought, "what am I doing?!" As I was praying before falling asleep, I believe God said something rather specific. I wrote it down in my journal, and labeled it "A Bit of Mentalness."

I want it to be true. I want to believe God said what I thought He said. Yet it seems so... improbable, if not impossible.

But there it is.

And then there's this:

As I was praying on Saturday, and again on Sunday, while walking into church to lead worship this weekend, God told me very specifically that I was going to break a guitar string at the end of the last song during the last service. And sure enough...

All I could do at that point was just grin, and finish the last few bars of the song.

And He whispered to my heart: "Hap... My sheep know My voice."

So time will tell... but I'm hanging on to Psalm 27:14 with a relatively ludicrous amount of joy and looking forward to seeing what tomorrow brings. I think the next three months are going to be a lot of fun. A friend of mine reminded me last night of something I wrote on his magnetic wall a few months ago: "a merry season is near, though to get there the way may not always be easy. believe it." (hey, you do what you can with refrigerator magnets.)

looking forward to... well, Christmas. :) (and now i want peppermint pie.... sigh ... 9 more months. i can wait. really.)

april fool's day

I'd forgotten how into it little boys get....


and some of them never get over it as they grow older... but this particular prank is relatively amusing. and (no fooling!) there's a really fun and educational explanation of what this is all about on a blog called Chickens Don't Have Armpits. i'm not kidding!! :) (they really don't - being as how chickens don't have arms...)

and by the way - if you read my 3:00am musings - bless you. that was long and journal-y. :) i'm still tracking with what i said, but i'm pretty sure most of it was only 5/7ths of a complete thought... :)


no, that time stamp down there isn't kidding - it really is shortly after 3:00am at the moment. i woke up totally wired about half an hour ago, and when i asked God why, He said, "well, you've been wanting time to write, haven't you?" so i got up, checked my email, went to make an omelet and decided somewhere between fridge and stove that garlic buttered shrimp sounded better, and so here i am, writing and eating really good shrimp at 3:10am.

mmm. oh, wow. this is really good shrimp...

so i did something last night that i'm not sure i have ever done before. i went to rehearsal for Torch, had dinner with some friends (it was Torchfest, which is our end of the month "let's all bring food and hang out" night), stayed for the sermon - and went home. just about the time the band got onstage. i don't think i've ever not gotten onstage when i was "supposed" to unless i've been really sick. i actually wasn't "supposed" to be up there last night - it was a stereotypical two-people-called-in-and-no-one-knew-until-just-before-rehearsal night and so we all shuffled what instruments we were playing - the bassist took drums, the guitarist took bass (because otherwise it was going to be me, and i've never played bass in my life) and i took guitar and vocal because the girl who was leading this week told me she needed me to, and i was too tired to argue, and someone else stepped in and ran powerpoint for me.

there was a discussion time between the sermon and the musical portion of our worship, and a few of us were hanging out in the soundbooth talking. our pastor wandered by, and asked how i was doing. i said i was tired, and jokingly asked if it would be poor form if i went home. he said something to the effect of: "no, actually, i think it would be great if you did that. because godly women know when they need to walk away from ministry for awhile in order to abide instead. go home and get some sleep." and the next thing i knew, i was in my car on the way home. and i was asleep by 10:00pm. which is why i'm now up.... five hours a night has been the average for the past few weeks, and it's time for that to stop.

i've asked for some time off from ministry stuff. not because i don't want to do it anymore, but because i need to rest. re-root in God's presence. get my papers and the final done for the correspondence class i'm taking. sleep. learn to see straight again. i am really hoping they say yes. it would give me almost three weeks of freedom, and it would be so nice to just go to church...

this past weekend was amazing. it's not the biggest platform i've ever been on, but it's the biggest i've ever led from. and i got up there in my sockfeet and worshiped, and it was sweet. it was a bit of a weird zone, because the acoustics of the room prevent you from being able to hear the congregation singing, and the lights prevent you from seeing most of them, so it's almost like being in a really loud bubble up there, but i worshiped the Lord, and there were moments when i felt such joy bubble up in my soul as i sang. i didn't get a lot of feedback afterwards, but there were a few people whose opinions i value highly who let me know how incredibly sweet they'd found His presence that morning, and i was able to walk away knowing that i'd done my job well enough that i hadn't gotten in His way, and i was glad for that...

but at the end of the last service, i sat there on the edge of the stage for a moment, and i just started to feel a little depressed... it had been a good run. i think i can safely say that i didn't bomb it. i was really glad to be up there in my socks... but there was almost a sense of... "that was it?" it felt... anticlimactic. all that build up, and then it was done. it was great. but now it's done.

and i'm left with three songs in my head. The "so what we have learned" song from VeggieTales (along with questions about what i've learned from all this, which i will get to eventually, tho probably not this morning!), Jump 5's Spinning Around, and Charlie Hall's Marvelous Light. and... now what?

"spinning around, i've got this funny feeling, turning my whole world upside down..." (jump 5)

"lift my hands and spin around, see the light that i have found, oh the marvelous light, the marvelous light" (Charlie Hall)

and this:

jON has left an absolutely beautiful comment on one of my posts (Translucency), and i wasn't sure whether to laugh or weep when i read it, as it is so timely. this is what he said:

this brings words to mind from trent reznor.

"are you sure what side of the glass you are on?"

i think in my life, i was always facing the wrong way. god kept drawing me to himself, however, slowly but surely. it wasn't until he finally pulled me on the other side of the glass that i awoke.

why is this glass in my way?! what happened?! everything used to be so clear! now i don't know what's happening!

"turn around" he said.

then i saw it. the world in technicolor right before me. i was looking the wrong way the whole time. if i had turned around before, i would have noticed i was already encased in the translucent glass, never having seen truly before. and i would have known the instant i became free as a cause for rejoicing rather than fearing my entire world had failed me.

jON, that's beautifully worded. thank you.

i'm in that sort of a place right now. a place where i know if i just spin around a little further i'm going to be able to make sense of at least some of this...

what i wish is that i'd been able to ride the tide of worship that flowed through that room this weekend and been aware that i was riding it. i know i did - i just didn't feel it the way i wanted to. but the reality is that i'm so drained and so tired and so insanely busy that i am not habitually leading worship out of a place of abiding right now. God has blessed what i'm doing anyway - but He's also made it clear that it's time to shush for a bit, and draw away with Him for awhile.

There's a scene in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time that's been kicking around in my head for days now, and I think it ties things together rather nicely... Meg has just found her father, who is (ironically) imprisoned in a glass column on a very dark planet. Within it there is nothing but darkness, but with the right lenses (Mrs. Who's glasses), the very particles of the glass that traps him shift, allowing him to escape. So he picks Meg up, and they go through the glass together:

"For a moment it seemed that the chill darkness would tear her from her father's arms. She tried to scream, but within that icy horror no sound was possible. Her father's arms tightened around her, and she clung to his neck in a strangle hold, but she was no longer lost in panic. She knew that if her father could not get her through the wall he would stay with her rather than leave her; she knew that she was safe as long as she was in his arms." (p. 139)

and on that note... i think i need to go abide in my bed awhile longer. :) Good night... er, good morning, rather. :)