Category Archives: Waiting

Desert Prayer (Meditations with Rilke)

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

But you take pleasure in the faces

of those who know they thirst.

You cherish those 

who grip you for survival.

– Rilke’s Book of Hours: I, 14

I know that I thirst. I know it with a depth of certainty I have for only a few things. It is the desert after all – what else does one do out here besides thirst?

And grip You for survival. Do You see? I am gripping, clinging. All my life force is wrapped around You. I cannot let go. I will not let go. Do You see? I choose You. I am choosing You day after silent day, even when I cannot see.

I cannot see Your pleasure. I cannot see Your eyes light up with the truth of cherished. I cannot see.

But still I thirst. Still I grip. Because if I do not have You, I have nothing. This I know. It is all at once my torment and my hope.

You. Only You.

 

*I recently purchased a copy of Rilke’s Book of Hours and oh my goodness – it is so beautiful and so intimate. I find myself able to articulate things from deep places in my heart as I contemplate his words and have decide to write my way through some of them. It will be a series of sorts, as various poems resonate with me and prompt a response. Consider yourself invited to eavesdrop on my vulnerable dialogue with God here.

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Restless Shifting

Photo by Jennifer Upton

Photo by Jennifer Upton

There is change coming.  So close I can almost taste it, not close enough to touch it.  Bumps of uncertainty lie in the path – possibilities of the change being delayed or perhaps not as smooth as we’d hoped.  But it is coming.  And I am restless.

Strange how a seemingly insignificant act can seem to trigger a chain reaction.  Last Wednesday, I went to get my haircut.  This alone was monumental because I haven’t been taking good care of myself.  Well, I’ve been trying, but mostly unsuccessfully.  Discouragement is a beast, and he was keeping me paralyzed.

Somehow I mustered up the will and made the appointment and set aside the money.  And on the way there, I resolved one more thing – when she asked how I was, I was going to tell her the truth.  Now, before you feel sorry for the unsuspecting hairdresser I might have bombarded, let me just say, this one is my friend.  I’ve known her for a lot of years; she was a bridesmaid in my wedding.  We don’t live close to her anymore, so I don’t see her often.  But I knew the truth would be safe with her if I could lay down my pride long enough to speak it.

Call me crazy if you like, but something powerful happened in the process of voicing my truth, allowing my own beauty to be poured into and most of all, receiving my friend’s words when she said, “Things are going to change. Soon.”  They were not the trite words of someone who didn’t know what else to say; they were spoken with the weight of knowing.  And within the next three days the wheels of change were set in motion.

And now we wait.  Some more.  But this time with a very bright light on the horizon.

The restlessness broods.  New questions come to replace the tired ones.  I discover (again) I am not my best self in these in-between seasons.  But I want to go into the new season healthy, with momentum, so I am making deliberate choices to pursue discipline with new fervor and to take hold of Rest even when she tries to be elusive.  Because afternoon tea and messy art projects and snuggles with my kids and lingering in my husband’s arms – these are the constants I can carry into the new season, however we get there, whenever we get there.

Can I offer you this encouragement?  Whatever approaching transition or change you face (because, remember – life is constantly cycling through seasons), find your anchor.  It may not be obvious.  It may not be easy.  But there is something in you that you carry in your heart from season to season.  Even if it is as simple as the daily ritual of slowing down to sip Earl Grey.  Find it.  Savor it.  There are things ingrained in your heart because it is a gift of God to you – the constants in the middle of life’s endless changing.

The restlessness may not leave all together, but it does not have to own us.

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Five Minute Friday: Willing

Image Source: CreationSwap

Image Source: CreationSwap

I remember what He asked me, so clearly.  Me – the girl who loves to travel more than anything.  Me – the girl who adapts to any other culture so much more easily than she adapts to her own. Me – the girl who wanted to change the world.

“I know you will go if I ask you to go.  But will you stay if I ask you to stay?”

I love Him and He loves me, so I said yes.

And here I have stayed.  Here I have laid my heart on the altar, let Him dig deep, let Him shake everything that can be shaken.

The years go by, and the process continues.  But I am willing.

Willing to consider if things I have always believed might be wrong.

Willing to let my mind be re-formed.

Willing to let my heart be ignited with new passions.

Willing to redefine, rediscover, reshape.

As long as it takes.  As long as He holds me through it all.

I am willing.  Because I am His.

 

*This post is part of Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday link up.

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When the Safe Places are Shaken

Photo by Austin Upton

Photo by Austin Upton

I think I have been in hiding for the past few weeks.

There are places I have come to rely on as havens in my life, but recently, almost every one of those safe places has suddenly become a little less safe.  There is a shaking happening.  And it’s not fun.

But it is revealing.  I find myself approaching God’s heart with new eyes, new ears.  As I am forced to look at my world differently, He also prompts me to look at my own heart differently.  And I am discovering that for all my independence and strong will, much of what I have become has been defined by others, not Him.  Not the One who most truly sees me.  So I lean in closer, teach my soul to be still and know.

I am not unique in this experience.  Snippets of stories waft my way in spite of the arms’ length I have been holding the world at, and I know there are many others feeling the tremors too.  I whisper to you the comfort I whisper to myself: He is shaking everything that can be shaken, so that only what cannot be shaken will remain.

I think of my children when they are faced with a new circumstance or experience, how their little bodies draw close, arms wrapped around my leg or holding to my hand.  I cannot take away the uncertainty or the apprehension, but I can infuse them with courage through the assurance of my nearness.

And so we draw close, wrap our weary arms around the everlasting arms.  It may not stop the shaking, but it will remind us of our refuge and release the strength we need to stand firm, even as the ground around us sways and shifts.  But once the stillness comes and the dust settles, we will know with heightened clarity the things within us that are unshakeable.

Consider things around you that are shaking.  Is there perhaps something new He wants you to see in your own heart?

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Pleading (Psalm 6)

Note: Something I have been mulling over is the familiarity that can come with being raised in church.  I’ve read through all of the Bible so many times, my eyes can glaze right over the words without them imprinting on my heart.  But I believe with all my heart these words are eternal and can speak to us again and again.  This is my attempt to interact with Scripture in a different way, a more personal way, a way that makes it real to me where I am right now.  It is not meant to reflect any in-depth study of the original Hebrew or anything like that.  As I read Psalm 6:1-4 today, this is how my heart found a parallel with David’s words.

God, are You angry with me?

You feel far and silent.

Is this punishment?

Please – I am struggling.

My soul, my heart, my mind are faint –

done in from all the effort of facing each day,

trying to keep moving.

I need help –

even my physical body

is wearing down from the fight.

Questions,

Uncertainty,

Confusion,

Disappointment –

I am in anguish.

Make it stop.

Please, please just make it stop.

Do something!

Not something small,

not temporary relief.

Get me out of this hole,

this dark place.

I am clinging to words I’ve heard

again and again,

that You love me

and Your love does not fail.

Show me.

Save me.

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A New Approach to January

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As the final days of December wafted away and January inched ever closer, I felt a small panic beginning to rise in me.  I need to make plans.  I need to think through goals.  I need to.  I need to.

I am not one of those people who belittles resolution-making.  Making things happen in life generally requires having a plan and working the plan while staying wide open to miracles that could gloriously set all your dreams in motion.  There is tremendous value to assessing where you are and where you want to be, honestly identifying what is working and what is not.

What I found myself resisting was the need to have the introspection done, all these goals identified, new habits and patterns and disciplines ready to commence on January 1.  I’ve always pushed myself for this, but I have been battling weariness and I knew.  I just couldn’t make it happen like that.

One of my aunts – so wise – commented somewhere that while she knows the value of well thought resolutions, she finds she’s generally too tired after the holiday season to try and work it all out in time for the New Year.  She has a February birthday, and so she gives herself until then to make her assessments and adjust her course.

For me, waiting until my birthday would be pretty impractical (July baby here, so half the year would be gone!).  But I decided to take the entire month of January to rest and to calmly formulate some plans and goals, to allow myself to wallow in some dreams and find out if they are still really what I want.

An awareness has dawned.  I think so often our resolutions happen like an impulse buy – it seems like a good idea at the time, but we haven’t fully thought it through, only to discover later maybe we didn’t want it that much after all.  And there goes another failed resolution.

Add to that goals that are exactly what we want, but they’re never practically broken down into a workable plan, almost guaranteeing their failure as soon as they are formulated.

And the biggest flaw in the mix (at least for me personally) – while the holiday season is undoubtedly wearying and busy, there is still a certain slowing that comes with it.  Regular routines and schedules are temporarily suspended.  Lots of time is made for people and eating and fun.  There’s a certain grasp on reality that gets lost.  And then you sit down to make resolutions and anything seems possible, as if January 1 brings with it a magic re-start switch where you can go back to real life and implement all these new changes to your life at the same time.

Maybe this isn’t everyone, but it has certainly been me.  (And I have a feeling I’m not totally alone.)  The value of allowing myself an entire month to think through these things is that in the midst of my return to routine, I am able to assess what is practically going to work as I take steps for change.  I’ve already been able to return to the drawing board a few times and say, “Ok, this goal is still good, but I need to think of a different approach for making it happen.”

So this post is a little more practical, but I feel there are people out there who get frustrated with this whole resolution process, not because they don’t see the value, but because the pressure has been too high.  Here it is January 13 and maybe you feel like you’re failing already.  And for you, I want to say, it’s ok to slow down.  Give yourself some extra time.  Who cares where anyone else is at with their resolutions and goal-implementing?  The important thing is for you to be able to look back on your year and feel satisfied with the steps you were able to take.

Perhaps take a deep breath, find a quiet moment and begin the process again, allowing yourself some days and weeks to choose direction.  The dreams pulsing in your heart are worth the grace and extra time.

 

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Filed under Perfectionism, Rest, Waiting

Why Shouldn’t I Begin Again?

a silver thread in the braid

edged the security of her familiar world

her lips moved

why shouldn’t I begin again

– elora nicole

Advent.  The season of waiting, hoping, expecting.

But maybe you are afraid.  Maybe it seems this is only a pause from the ordinary and then everything will go back to the way it has always been, the way it has become.  And perhaps it’s better this way.  Easier.  Do you really want to upset your entire existence?  Is it worth the trouble, the breaking, the re-shaping?

Do you see the silver threads woven in to your story?  The waiting of Advent is not merely about a pause.  Emmanuel did not come to be with us simply to create an interval where we could catch our breath before returning to the ordinary.  Majesty did not don the robes of humanity to give us a change of scenery, a break from the usual pace.

No, He has come to interrupt our existence.  He has come to restore what was lost.  He has come to transform the familiar into mystery and wonder.  He has come to make all things new.

This sacred pause is a catapult into uncharted territory, where the Divine collides with your story and redirects your path.

You have permission to begin again.

This post is based on a prompt from Story Sessions.  You will never find a more amazing community of women and writers.  Join us?

 

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Dear December

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dear December:

You and I need to have a talk, here on the eve before you consume the world.  Pull up a chair.  I’ll pour us each a glass of wine, and we can sit by the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree, melancholy Wintersong in the background.

I have been thinking long and hard on what I’d like to say to you, yet I find myself still mostly at a loss.

What can I say?  I have always embraced you, arms and heart wide open, ready to push aside the dreariness and drink in your sparkle.  No matter how weary my heart may be, you come near, and I begin to find renewed faith in miracles.  Hope raises her head once more, in spite of anything else trying to smother her fire.

But for quite some time now, I cannot say you have returned the favor.  You smile, but it never reaches your eyes.  You reach out your hand, but you never pull me near.  I begin to suspect, if it were wholly up to you, you just might consider leaving me alone in the cold, but somehow my stubborn determination to cling to childlike wonder still wears you down.

It is tempting to give up the attempt to wrap you in a lingering embrace.  The fight in me is waning after years of one intense battle after another.  Hopes for miracles have been dashed again and again, and I have cried enough tears to float a small boat.  I am tired of hope and faith and clinging to promises that have yet to come true.

Still, do you see these blossoms peering beneath the snow?  It will take more than a blanket of your ice to smother the beauty my heart believes in.  You cannot snuff out life with your chilling whispers and piercing winds.   No, December, you underestimate the resilience of a fire rekindled in the midst of broken hearts and shattered dreams.  If sparks can blaze to life even while tears fall, your blizzards are outmatched already.

So dump your ice and sleet on us.  Blow those winds that bite our bones.  I will keep my course, one foot planted in front of the other, one more step and one more day.  Perhaps your frozen heart will thaw a little, and you will choose to be more kind.  We will be here, our candles lit to welcome your warmer side.

I do not know what to expect from you this year.  {this scares me slightly. A lot.}  But go on and come; maybe one starry, frosted night at a time, you and I can sit alone and resolve our differences.  Maybe you can learn to love me again.

*This post was inspired by a prompt from Story Sessions.

 

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When You Need Christmas Now

So I have these rules, these rituals.  And one of them involves not decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  The very next day.

Truthfully, I love this ritual.  I pull out my Christmas dishes late Thanksgiving night, make the table all festive.  I assemble the tree and fluff the branches, and I make sure Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby are ready to serenade us first thing.  I plan a special breakfast.  And then I fight for sleep all night, probably the way kids do before actual Christmas morning.  Now that I have children, I love this ritual even more – the excitement in their eyes and voices as they realize the Christmas season is here!!!  We eat together, and then we spend the day decorating the tree and transforming the entire place into a magical Christmas wonderland.  Every room gets something.  Really, I love this official welcoming of the season so, so much.

But this year, it has been different.  I was trying my best to hold out.  It didn’t work.

This past year has been so, so hard for our family.  And just a few months ago, things got even harder, heartbreaking.  Then all of a sudden, there was this surge of hope, faith, promise followed by . . . well, disappointment.  More waiting.  Hard questions and no answers.  I must confess, over the past couple of weeks, I could feel the discouragement wrapping itself around me tighter and tighter, choking off my breath, threatening to crush me.

And suddenly, I needed Christmas now.  Not in another week.  Certainly not in another month.  Now.  Right now.

I need the hope of promises long awaited finally and gloriously fulfilled.

I need the grace of a majestic King who chooses to reveal Himself first to lowly, humble shepherds – the least and the forgotten.

I need the miracle of people walking in darkness seeing a great light.

I need the reality of the Word – the abstract and intangible – being made flesh and living among us, close enough to touch.

So . . . our tree is up.  The kids picked out funny sparkly dinosaurs for their ornaments this year.

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And I smile every time I remember the very first Christmas I shared with my love, and the future seems to rise up in front of us again full of promise.

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Our family meals have an added sparkle.

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We’re spending more of our evenings, snuggled up, experiencing old and new holiday movies.

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And I didn’t go for a marathon day of decorating.  I am spreading it out, savoring, pulling items out little by little when we need a new dose of Christmas now.

Sometimes it’s ok to break the rules.

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The Rain

It’s raining.

There is nothing I love so much as the sound of falling rain.  A peace that can not be contained by the bounds of my understanding falls over my heart.

I believe You will come like the rain.

The heat is intense.  It’s August in Texas after all.  The plants get droopy.  The grass is tinged with brown. You run out to the car real quick and return drenched with sweat.  The weather forecast stretches before your eyes with all those three-digit numbers and if you get lucky enough to see two-digit numbers, a quick glance at the fine print where it says “Feels like . . .” chases away your momentary relief.  But then, all of a sudden, clouds gather and the sweet song begins.

I believe You will come like the rain.

The farmer carries his worried heart outside, casts a hopeful eye at the sky, winces in the glaring light of the cloudless blue.  The crops are dying.  The dry months have dragged on and on.  He knows in his bones, this year is going to be rough.  The harvest will not be enough.  They will pinch pennies and hope for next year.  Yet even in the frustration, the decades have taught him, and if not today, it could be tomorrow.  It may feel like it some times, but drought cannot last forever.  And then, one morning, clouds gather and the sweet song begins.

I believe You will come like the rain.

I toss and turn in my bed at night, 48 months and counting, stress and pressure the only constants.  I do what I have to do, and some days, it is more than I can bear.  I cast a hopeful glance at the sky, the ember of hope shrinking each time, and I am desperately trying to nurse this one last, flickering spark.  The phone does not ring.  The answer does not come.  If not today, perhaps tomorrow, but the confident voice wavers.  My gaze returns to the sky once more, but I shrug and look back at reality because all I see is a small cloud, the size of a man’s fist.  Though memory comes of another story, another time, another man who clung to the promise of such a cloud . . .

And I believe You will come like the rain.

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