that... was incredible

So preaching Monday night was probably one of the coolest things I have ever done. I was really nervous going in (but you knew that!) and as I stood in front of all those people and Mark prayed over me, the expected and dreaded adrenaline rush hit, and I thought, oh no! I'm a goner... oh, Lord, please help!

And He did. :)

I was totally fine, and while I know I have years worth of growing to do, and that there are probably a dozen ways in which it could have been better - that was a really good first run. And it feels strange to say that, like it's prideful or something, but I feel like I had so little to do with it - really, I'm just grateful, because there are so many ways I could have totally screwed that up, and I didn't. In fact, God really used me to speak, and I'm sure I don't even have a clue as to half of what He did. I am so honored, and so humbled, that He would do that...

And afterwards, a handful of people were waiting around to talk to me, to tell me how God had spoken to them, and to tell me their stories about hard things going on in their lives - and I got to pray with them, and see God at work in ways I could never have anticipated Sunday night, as I sat editing and re-editing, and doing my best just to be faithful to His word and what was kind of on my heart to say... It didn't go perfectly - but that didn't seem to matter - God's Word just went out and did what it does - and to be allowed to carry it was just an immense privilege... I'm honestly not even sure that it's really sunk in yet... I actually preached ... and it went well!


well, today's the big day! i've been informed that this is not the first time i have preached, but it is definitely the first time i've done it on purpose without a guitar to hide behind. i am the slightest bit nervous, and i have absolutely no idea how this will go. when i lead worship there are eighteen million things to think about and i generally, after years of doing it, catch about five of them. (lately i've been forgetting to tape my music together and put it in a binder so i don't have to worry about page turns as much - that's hard when you're playing straight thru to the next song on your guitar, but most of the time, i manage it.) still, there's almost always something that comes up on stage that makes me think, gosh, i wish i'd thought of that earlier - this would go so much better if... i can't imagine it's much different with preaching.

what do you do with your notes? do you just read off the page where you wrote it all out? that might work from a pulpit, but i've got a music stand and stage space to pace around in. what if i forget what i was saying? (this happens in conversation, and i am not a "let's stand up in public and give a speech" type of person.) and what if i miss it? what if i accidentally say something that isn't true? i've studied, and i've sought counsel, but what if? this is extremely serious business, sharing God's word, and telling people how to apply it to their lives... stepping into a position of authority and assuming the responsibility that comes with being given that authority is no small task. it's... exciting, terrifying, a zillion things i can't even define.

and yet... as Rachel said, months ago - it's like i'm standing on the edge of the promised land, looking out over it, and all i have to do is believe that God has given it to me, and put feet to my faith. it's time to go get it.

last May, i finally realized that God had given me something to say; i just didn't know what it was. i'm still not 100% sure, but i'm going to show up and start talking tonight, and i guess we'll find out. :)

prayers appreciated!!!! :)


i went to the birthday party of a good friend last night; it was really fun, and we had a great time, and right in the middle of all of it, God was at work in one of the most unexpected ways...

i've alluded to the fact that i'm just struggling a bit emotionally and mentally right now (see Psalm 13), and part of that is this ongoing war with my anti-failure/perfectionism issues... i hate failing. at anything. especially when it involves letting people down. and last fall i managed to do it royally in a particular situation and there was so much hurt and misunderstanding on both sides that it didn't really seem like there was ever going to be a healthy resolution to that. i mean, i said i was sorry for my part in it, and i left the door open for communication (or i thought i had), but the other person either never saw it or never walked through it, and eventually our ways parted completely, and it's been simply months since we've talked. the last time i saw him we didn't even say hi... and it isn't something that's been in the forefront of my mind much - it was relegated to the mental drawer of "things i really wish i'd handled a little better/don't do that again" - but i was thinking about it again on Thursday, and found myself extremely upset about the whole thing, just randomly, and i had to take it back to God and say "i don't know what to do, but my eyes are on You."

and this guy with whom i'd had such a falling out was at the party last night.

i walked in and thought, "oh, no - this is going to be so awkward..." but after a few minutes, i decided that, whether it was my turn to say something or not (and i'd been opting for "not" for months), i am thirty-three years old and it was high time to just grow up. so after a while i walked over to where he was sitting, sat down nearby, met his eyes, smiled, took a deep breath, and said, "so how are you?" we caught up on random life stuff briefly, and then he had to go to pick up his fiancee, and as he was leaving, we hugged, and i said, "i really am sorry." he said, "thank you. because, Happy, that really hurt." i didn't know what else to say, so i simply said, "i know. and i'm sorry." and he just kind of looked at me, and he smiled, and i said, "don't be a stranger. drop me a line every now and again, and let me know how you are." and he said he would.

it was a weird moment. good, but weird. there's part of me that wishes he'd taken it the next step and said, "i forgive you." there's something about hearing those words that just makes it easier to really let it go... but if he hasn't, i suppose that's not really my issue. i've forgiven him - and i'm most of the way toward forgiving myself (tho exercising grace toward myself is always hard). if he wants to talk more about what actually happened, i know i can do that now. it would still probably be awkward - but i'm not sure i care. i just don't want to be at odds with anybody in God's kingdom over anything. i'm okay with people not agreeing with me or liking me particularly (in theory, anyway. when it comes right down to it, i would like everyone to like me, as previously noted) - but i'm not okay with tension about it. this is my family. these are the people with whom i'm going to spend eternity. even if we're not in agreement over something, i would at least like to get along...or at least be patient and kind and everything else that love is, in my actions toward people...

it was such an unexpected moment. but i'm glad for it. because whether there's ever more conversation about it or not, it seems like a chapter just got closed and it even had a happy twist at the end. i suspect our conversation was something he really needed, and i'm glad God gave me the grace to step outside of myself and have it - and i guess maybe i needed it too. it's definitely one thing now crossed off the list of things that the enemy can throw back in my face. yes, i failed miserably in how i handled that last year. but yesterday? i did "the right thing." and i didn't do it because i felt i had to or because someone told me it was what i was supposed to do - i did it because i love Jesus, and because i really wanted to. and it felt good, to finally be in a place with this where i was driven not by guilt, but by compassion.

and it was pretty sweet. (thanks, God...)

Psalm 13

I've started asking God where to go in His Word when I sit down to read at times, and this morning He said Psalm 13. I have dearly loved this psalm since the first time I heard Shane and Shane's version of it... and this morning it made me smile and want to weep all at once, as it so expressed my heart in prayer today... and I am so glad to serve and love a God who knows me so well. How treasured I feel, that He would see my heart and lead me to the exact place in His Word that so accurately said everything I wanted to say...

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;
my enemy will say, "I have overcome him,"
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.


HT: ASBO Jesus

Exercising grace. Sometimes it's ridiculously difficult, especially when you find you need to exercise it toward yourself, do you know what I mean? There are times when I find it so much easier to extend grace to someone else for their faults and failures than I do to myself, but it's such a double-standard. God's grace to me is just as effective and just as much a gift as it is to anyone else, so why do I hold myself to a higher standard than that to which I hold others? Is it some sort of backwards pride? An "I'm better than you, so I have to act like it" thing? Dear Lord, I hope not... but the fact is, I am a perfectionist, and I want to do, think, and say everything right all the time, and never fail... (which sounds ridiculous when you put it like that, but there it is...)

And I'm really lousy at it. In fact, you could term it... (feigned gasp) failure....
Lord, have mercy. And please make me more like You. Amen.


I've found myself with a lot of head chatter this week. I think a lot (you've probably noticed that by now) and there's usually something (or many things) flow-charting in my head - but there are times when pretty much all you can term it is "chatter" - an endless stream of negative self-talk that does no good, and nine times out of ten turns out to be a pack of lies from the pit of hell... And it's so easy to get discouraged by that sometimes.

But God, in his mercy, has been really cool about helping me to notice more quickly of late when it is that I'm starting to get caught up in that sort of mind-set and the emotional tangle that comes with it... and I've got a new tactic that helps me to laugh it off a bit. I have a very young friend who cannot say her "st" sound yet, so when she says "stop!" it comes out "pop!" (It totally cracks me up.) A few weeks ago, she actually said it to me about something, and I looked back at her in astonishment and said, without thinking, "No, you pop!" And we both started laughing, and now it's a joke... but sometimes, when I find myself getting all internally angsty, I will take a deep breath and tell myself to "Just pop!" And it makes me smile, every time. Which is a very good start to being far less angsty... (yay!)

isn't it pretty?!

thanks, Erin!!!! (not that i haven't said that a dozen times already, but i thought it needed a little publicity too.) :)

it's funny how something as simple as a new template or moving your couch can cheer you up. not that i was depressed, exactly. just... well, i've been inexplicably out of sorts entirely too often lately, and i'm not really sure what's up with that. and today was so weird. i went to church for the first time in two months, and it was just really strange to be back. normal, but totally not normal either. i didn't really know where i fit... and trying to explain that to my pastor who very kindly and thoughtfully asked while we walked across the lawn to investigate the "issues" with the gigantic blow-up jumpy thingy/climbing wall/slip-n-slide for the church picnic - well. let's just say it was a disjointed and in the end less-than-productive conversation. i went home with more questions than i'd had when i walked in.

and sundays of late have been days of utter rest and solitude. today wasn't like that. i did go biking. that was nice. showering when i got home was even better. it was hot today.

but here it is, the end of the day, and i need sunday - and tomorrow is monday. how did that happen? oh, wait....

"sometimes what happens to you is emotional, Hap. I still want you to praise Me."

i'm going to go take out my contacts, find some cozy pjs, and spend a little time doing that, i think. on my couch, which is in a new spot....

everything's changing... and "it's all good". it is.

sidenote: while i was cleaning and reorganizing this weekend, i found 27 books on my shelves that i have never read. and that's not counting the dozen or so loaners from friends... lol. well. at least i won't be bored...even at two books a month, that's more than a year's worth of reading, right there.... :) and then there's the matter of that junk mail basket... and the other one.... ;)

pardon my dust

I've joked often that my living space reflects the reality of my inner state - but I'm not sure it's really a joke. Funny, maybe. But not a joke. Whether it became true because I said it so often, or whether it always was true and I just observed it humorously before the truth really sank in, I do not know. Nevertheless, there it is. Walk into my house (er... three-room flat in a finished basement) and you will know within two seconds how I am really - unless, of course, I knew you were coming, and then, in spite of the fact that I still think of what Lauren Winner has to say about true hospitality, I will have... cleaned up a bit. (Translation: everything that wasn't put away is now shoved in a box, my desk, my closet, a kitchen cabinet, or under my bed, etc. and I will have at least wiped down the bathroom and boy-proofed the bathroom - and no, this does not mean encasing it in bubble-wrap - and maybe, just maybe, if I had enough time, vacuumed up a few of the dust-bunnies. (now dust on shelves, picture frames, etc. - that stays (mostly because I just don't notice it...)))

I've been itching of late to do something new to my space. I'm the sort of person who just spontaneously re-arranges her furniture every 6 months... and I'll confess I've thought about it every now and again, but I have yet to rearrange anything since I moved in about two and a half years ago. I've been content with things the way they are. It's a small space, and it works the way it is. It's been okay. But something in me just wants a change, all of a sudden. So last night I went window shopping with a friend, and came home with picture hangers (for the frames that never made it to the wall), a new rug (on sale for $8) and a couple of cloth covered boxes that will fit perfectly in my bookshelves. I have a mental plan for reorganizing my kitchen/living room - we'll see if it works. If it does, I will then have to rearrange my bedroom, because I'll have books that need a new home. And my room - my retreat spot - needs a face-lift anyway. (Although I gave myself a budget - $25. I have $6 left.... This could be challenging.) :)

So what does all this say about how I am really? Well, your guess might be better than mine at this point, but at the very least, I suspect it says I am ready for a change...

Just before I left for my road trip, Jake sent me this video of a song called Fidelity, by Regina Spektor. He said to think about the guy in this video as a metaphor for my calling. Watch it first, and then I'll tell you what I said to him, as I was watching it...

Did you watch it? :)

I did - and my first observation was, "Jake - the guy has no head!"

Something about this song is messing with me, tho...

Anyway. With all of this itching for change and newness and for people who need heads to obtain them, I'm also in the mood for a little blogospherical change. I tried Wordpress last weekend. I don't know enough of the technical codes to make that work well at this point, tho. And I really like Blogger -I find it to be very user-friendly. (thanks, Blogger people!) :) So I'm sticking around - but there might be a bit of dust kicking up as I reconstruct a bit. Erin (bless her) is going to help me with some of it. Feel free to offer commentary at will as we go. :) Yes, this is my space - but I'm also the kind of person who likes her friends to feel at home, which is why I'll probably never go with a black background, in spite of the fact that I liked it - Sara, my bff, can't stand it. :D

So that's the story. Pardon my dust for a few days. Just think of it as yet another shift... :)

everything's changing...

an object in motion will stay in motion until it is stopped by an equal and opposite force.

i’m discovering it is possible to have the metaphorical wind knocked out of you when you are that object…

one of my friends just got engaged, and i’m really excited for her. another one of my friends has been in Africa on a missions trip for a few months, and she wrote yesterday to say that she isn’t coming home until January now. another friend is in Fiji and while he is coming home next week, he won’t be here long before he’s off to new adventures as a result of this trip. two of my friends are moving to Minnesota. another just up and quit his job in pursuit of what God has for him, tho he has no idea what that might be.

and i’m still here. i’m still in this very flat state (which has its share of nice people, but just isn’t West Michigan), and i’m still living paycheck to paycheck, in a friend’s basement. and i feel like, just for a minute, i’ve been totally winded by something. it isn’t jealousy or envy, i don’t think - i don’t want their lives - i want mine; it’s just - i don’t know - life. i feel like i just got sucker-punched - but not by anyone… maybe by my own choices, or a false idea of what my life “should” have looked like and doesn’t? i don’t know exactly. all i know is that just for a minute there, i couldn’t breathe.

but i’m better now.

and i’m excited for these friends and for their futures… and for whatever mine might be. i wouldn’t know any of these people if I didn’t live here, and i’ve been blessed to know them - and… well. at least there’s email and whatnot. sigh…


i never thought i’d be here, in this place of reticence on a sunday morning, in this place of ambivalence about going to church…
i didn’t go this morning. i haven’t been for weeks. and i feel like maybe i should feel guilty about it, but really, what i feel guilty about is not feeling guilt. i’m not sure why i’m not going, either. maybe if i knew i had some sort of latent anger or something towards the church, i could manage to feel guilty about that, deal with it as the sin it would be, and go back. but unless i am completely self-deceived, i’m not angry about anything. i’m not even all that disillusioned… i’m enough of a cynic to recognize that no place and no people, no matter how passionately they’re pursuing God, will ever get it “right.” no… if anything, i think i’m just kind of burned out.
worship. what is it? ultimately it is simply declaring God’s worth - giving Him the glory, honor, praise, etc. that He deserves. that’s why we’re supposed to go to church. to worship Him together - the various parts of the body of Christ assembled in one place. expressing unity. remembering that “oh, yes, I can’t be a Christian in isolation.” allowing others to minister to us, and in turn, ministering to them - each of us being who God made us to be with gifts that complement the gifts of others and work together to point to His wisdom, glory, omniscience - amazing-ness.
a worship service. a service. a gift offered to God’s people by those in a more formal ministry capacity, whether professional or volunteer. structured, designed carefully, to teach worship both by model and instruction. liturgy. formal or informal, every service has one - we come, someone calls us to worship through song or formal words. we sing, we pray, we recite creeds, we remember together who God is. we get quiet and listen for God to speak. (did you know this is what you’re doing when someone preaches?) we respond to His voice.
this is why we are supposed to go to church.
but why do we really go? do we go because someone will notice we’re not there, and we care too much about what they think? do we go because we’re supposed to? do we go because we don’t know what else to do? do we go because we think it will make God happy? because it’s just what you do? because it makes us feel like we’ve done something about our spiritual lives for the week, and even if we manage to sleep right through the time we told God last week we’d give him every morning for those “quiet times” (oh, yeah - it was really quiet, except for the snoring) it will make us feel a little better, because “at least i went to church”?
you know, there was a time when i would have said that if those are the reasons that got you to church, well, fine. because there’s a sense in which they really are all valid reasons, in that they all do sort of play into what happens on a sunday morning. i think God is pleased when His kids get together and worship Him… but i guess what it really comes down to is: are we doing that? if i’m not worshiping God, what am i doing?
and yes, worship is a choice. it’s a lifestyle. it’s a zillion things i don’t know anything about and a couple dozen things that i might know something about. and i’m not saying that when i do go to church on a sunday morning that i am not worshiping God. i am - i do. but it got to be so routine… i don’t know. something about the experience just lost something. and i don’t want to be one of those “felt needs” people. i don’t want to bail on church because it isn’t what i want it to be - because it isn’t about me. it’s about Him. and i believe that meeting with the whole body of Christ, and doing life with people of all generations is extremely important… but maybe that’s it. while there are grandmas and grandpas, and little babies, and everyone inbetween - i wasn’t doing life with them. i was just standing on a stage, leading them into God’s presence, and smiling and saying thank you when they told me how pretty my voice was - and i wanted more than that. i wanted them to really know me. but doing life together with people takes work and time. and who has the energy or the time for that? you can’t know everyone. you can’t do life with everyone. you’ve got to be intentional, and you’ve got to… to some degree … keep your circle smaller.
Jesus did that. He ministered to hundreds of people, sometimes in a day. And He had people He traveled with, men and women with whom He did life. 12 friends in whom He confided more deeply on a regular basis. a few of whom were His closest inner circle. and His Father, to whom He gave His life and His time, getting up early in the morning and withdrawing to quiet places.
and i guess maybe that’s part of what this whole weird zone of finding myself among the temporarily unchurched is for me - it’s a drawing away, a getting away to a quiet place. i’ve been sleeping in on sunday mornings. waking up, reading, journaling, blogging, going for walks, riding my bike, sometimes spending part of the day with a very close friend or two, and just keeping it low-key. i’ve been resting. spending time with God. thinking about being unchurched.
and realizing that i’m not. not really. i think i’d be a little more worried about this sunday morning ambivalence if i didn’t have Torch on Monday nights. but i do - and at Torch, i get to worship in community, minister and be ministered to. i get to use my gifts, and see how they complement the gifts of others. i get to spend time with my closest friends, and do life with them throughout the week. i get to sing, dance, shout, and get quiet before the Lord - and i get to be myself. there’s even a touch of the multi-generational thing, as people with kids start coming, and mentors come and invest in us. it isn’t perfect - but it’s good - very good. and it is something for which i am seriously thanking God. i know it won’t always be enough. but for today it is.

cross-posted on the most curious thing

singing this love song

Day 5. I woke up later than usual in a little motel called The Welsh in Wall, South Dakota. (And no, I did not go to Wall Drug although it was right across the street. I didn't know I was supposed to. Tho its apparent fame does explain all the billboards for it on the interstate.) :P

Getting to the Welsh had been quite the journey the night before. I was exhausted, but I felt God urging me to press on closer to home that night. I wanted to stop in Wyoming, but felt He said to keep going into South Dakota. I kept driving, hearing "not yet." "5 more minutes." "1 more exit." Milestones, all of them, not destinations. Driving thru Rapid City, "See? And you said you would never make it this far." There were times when this conversation felt extremely frustrating, and at one point I was seriously questioning whether any of this was really God talking, or if I was having a conversation with my perfectionist, over-achieving self and if, really, I should have stopped hours earlier... and I drove past a billboard that said, "I am the Good Shepherd." And I had to laugh. "My sheep know my voice, Hap." So I kept driving.

"Almost there. You'll know it when you see it."
"I have no idea what I'm looking for, Lord."
"I know. Kind of fun, isn't it?"
pause. "Well, yes, actually..."

More driving. Looking for a sign (literal or metaphorical). Nothing, for a long time. And then, just as I was about to hit the proverbial wall, there were the signs. "Wall, South Dakota." Ha ha. So I stopped, and spent the night rooming in one of the coziest little motels I've ever seen. My room would have fit perfectly in any secluded retreat center, it was so peacefully and artfully decorated - I felt I'd come home.

As I was leaving in the morning, God said, "Hap, no matter what happens today, I want you to trust Me, and I want you to praise Me." okay... So, you would think that after the four days of incredible rest I had been experiencing that quiet trust would come easily. Apparently not. I started to worry... what if my car broke down in the middle of nowhere? what if I got in an accident? what if something happened to someone I cared about and I was stuck two days from home still and couldn't get to them? what if, what if, what if.... and God let me get away with that all the way to Minnesota. Even stopping at Al's (where the coffee is still 5 cents!) for lunch did not alleviate my concerns for long. (should I even be here? maybe i should have kept going...) I was second-guessing everything I did, and I was tired, and cranky, and... oh. I am so sorry, Lord. I haven't really trusted You today.

"Sometimes 'what happens' to you is emotional, too, Hap. No matter what, I want you to trust Me, and I want you to praise Me."

Got it. (Minnesota, already a beautiful state to drive through, was an even more pleasant drive after that.) :) And the first part of Wisconsin... and then I started thinking about finding a place to stop. I wanted to rest, journal, maybe take a walk somewhere and watch the sunset. I just wanted to be with God, somewhere other than my car.

And I couldn't find anywhere to stay. Every place I stopped was either sketchy, too expensive, or booked. And then I was close to the Dells and it was a Thursday night, so there was no point in stopping - and then I was past them - and then I was just a few short hours from home, so what was the point in spending that kind of money when I could just go home? So I drove through the night and got home sometime between 2 and 3 am. It was craziness. But it was also kind of fun...

And God sustained me. And at the end of that very long day, I went to sleep, praising Him for His goodness and for bringing me home.

That night I was driving through South Dakota, before I found a place to stay, when I was so exhausted but felt God urging me to keep going... He said, "Do you feel me sustaining you?" and I did. I really did... I could feel the strength and the ability to simply keep going that He was giving me. And what I think He said then is this: "I'm going to give you rest this year - more periods of longer rest than you might imagine at this point - but there will be seasons where you will have to plow a little harder, too. In those times, because you have been at rest, you will be able to run hard and be at rest internally - you will feel Me sustaining you. Even when you are very tired, remember, I will sustain you."

How could I have forgotten so quickly? And yet... the object lesson stuck with me once I realized on that last day what I'd done.

The entire trip (and this is only the briefest account of it!) felt like one great metaphor for life and this journey I - we - are on. It was about being at rest, learning to hear His voice, living out of that place of abiding in His presence even when things are busy and/or uncertain, trusting Him, following Him. It was about learning how to allow the Lord to sustain me, rather than trying to do it myself.

Years ago, one of the chaplains at Hope preached on a verse from the psalms, and I can't find it this morning, but it says, "I lie down, I sleep, I wake again; the Lord sustains me." And he talked about the connection between the two parts of that verse - the pattern of daily living and God's sustaining power in all of it... and I love that. In music when you sustain a note, you hold it out; you make it last longer... in life, when God sustains us, the sound - the chord - the melody of our lives is held - and I suspect that if we truly lived in a pattern of rest and activity, allowing the Lord to sustain us, that our lives would truly sing a love song to His heart that the world could not help but notice. It's what I want for my life, anyway. So be at rest, o my soul. Amen.

rainbows and promises

I left the waterfall completely at peace. It had, thus far, been a good trip - not without its less fortunate moments (lol...) but good. I was ready to go home.

One of the things that completely blows me away about God is the incredible vastness of His creativity. The landscapes for a majority of this trip were absolutely breathtaking. There were actually times when I simply felt exhausted (particularly in Yellowstone) by the beauty that surrounded me - I was completely overwhelmed by it, and couldn't take in anything else. (This may have had something to do with the altitude too, but I don't really think so.) ;)

The drive back through Montana was just as lovely as it had been on the way to the Park. And then there was Wyoming (I took a different route home). Do you know, the phrase "rolling hills"? I get that now. There really doesn't seem to be a better way to describe it. And the big sky of Montana (they were so not kidding about that!) follows you a good way through Wyoming. It was so incredibly, achingly beautiful. I could totally live there - if it weren't for the snakes...

I drove into a rainstorm in Wyoming, and the cool thing about that was that I could see it raining up ahead for miles before I ever actually got there. And behind me, the sun was just starting to go down. Perfect rainbow conditions, wouldn't you say? The same sort of thing had happened in Montana on the way out - I actually, there, drove under the corner of a storm system - it was so cool - blue skies all around it - which I guess is true of any storm really, but how often do you get to see that from the ground? (The rainbow pictured above is actually the one I saw there.)

I was praying, at that point of the trip, about a situation back home that had been bugging me a fair bit (okay, truthfully, I was imagining what I would say to someone whom I knew would ask me about it when I got home, realized what I was doing (having a conversation with someone who was not there) and turned it to prayer), and I felt like God was saying, "Hap, it's going to be okay about - (the situation)" and my response to that was, "okay, I trust You," and then I looked out the window and there was a rainbow in the skies, and I thought, wow, that was cool timing; thanks, God!

And then I kept thinking about the situation... about how much what so-and-so had said had really hurt, etc. - and I started to get upset about it - and it started to rain. Remember back when I was working on that (still unfinished song) for the widow of Zarephath? That whole concept of asking God to send the rain has really stuck with me - I was talking with a friend about the widow's story months ago, and my friend observed that God had provided for this woman so faithfully on a day-to-day basis, but that what she really needed was the rain - and that tension between knowing that what you have is enough for today but still waiting for something else really resonated with me - and for this situation, I started asking God to send His rain - at least metaphorically - but you wouldn't believe how often it's rained at significant moments over the past two months. Maybe it's all coincidence. Maybe it's not. At any rate, this moment really didn't feel like coincidence.

I looked over at the rainbow, and it was now a double rainbow. And in case I hadn't gotten the point - the highway turned just then, and I could see both sides of the double rainbow. It was amazing. I don't know what "it'll be okay" looks like in terms of practical reality - but I believe it. :)

waterfalls and romance

Somehow on the morning of Day 4, tho there are very few intersections (and very few roads) in Yellowstone National Park, I managed to get on the wrong road. (Those of you who know me personally and know how par for the course this is may stop snickering now.) I'd suspected that such was the case for awhile, as I was not seeing signs for things for which I expected to see signs... so I finally pulled over, and looked at the map. At that point, it would have taken me a really long time to get down to Lewis Lake for the quiet morning I'd planned to spend there. So I sat in my car and debated... looked at the map again, saw there were a few waterfalls ahead eventually, and decided that one of them would do. This turned out to be an excellent decision, as one of the best moments of the trip was right up that road.

This is Undine Falls. I'm not sure when I've been in a more perfect moment than the time I spent by the falls. The roar of the water, the cool mountain breeze, the birdsong, the sunshine - and a trail to hike. I took it, of course, and soon came to a "crossroads" of sorts... the trail continued on the other side of a fallen tree I could have climbed over; it also looped back to the overlook around a rock. I chose that rock as my meeting place with God, and took a seat. Spent a while just soaking it in. Read the story of Joash and Jehoiada (2 Chronicles 24). Thought about it. Prayed. Rested. Became - as Madeleine L'Engle would say - simply my ontological self. Picked up the book I'd started the night before: Walking With God, by John Eldredge. It was perfect timing.

As I was sitting on that rock, any number of people came past - most either walked around behind the rock or continued on over the tree and down the trail. But for whatever reason, two people, at one point, actually came and walked around in front of me. (The trail there was narrower, sloped, closer to the edge of the ravine and uneven footing, but I will grant you, the view was a little better.) They were an older couple - probably in their mid-late '60s - he was still fairly spry, but she was having a little difficulty managing this part of the trail. He stopped a few feet away from me to wait for her, watching the falls, then noticed she needed help. She handed him their camera, and then he reached out for her - and there was just something in the way their hands met, and the way he helped her up that last bit of the trail - I felt I had just witnessed an incredibly holy moment - and the coolest part of it was that I didn't feel like an intruder. This was something I was meant to see. They stood there for a minute, admiring the view, and then continued up the trail. And I... I simply sat there. And wept. Just for a minute. Because it was such a beautiful thing to have seen, in this beautiful, perfect moment.

And because there was something about that moment that touched a chord deep in my heart... the same chord that was struck weeks ago, as I was walking through a local park, and saw an old man pushing his wife through the park in her wheelchair... the same chord that was resonating when I wrote Sparks...

I went back to my book. Read some things on p. 36-37 that (totally out of context) spoke to my heart in that moment. And then the breeze kicked up a bit... and I just knew. God had heard that chord.

And, in fact, He's the One who played it...