Run.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were in Ireland, my husband and I.

In a land of green and rocks.

We were trying to find The Burren.

It is national park of some sort but there were no signs showing the way in or the way out.

There were no tourist money throw down places.

There were no people.

Just wild land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were lost.

We already driven for miles, for hours, on twisted roadways lined with black thorn scraping the sides of our car.

We were tired.

And we had fallen into that flesh place where one needed to prove he was  an excellent driver and was doing his very best to keep us from getting killed and the other needed to prove she is an excellent map reader but did not manage to brush up on her gaelic before leaving the States.

We kept looking  for a sign, anything that indicated where we were. We even asked a lady walking her dog and all she could tell us was that it was “dune the rude a-ways.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing but sharp edges.

Nothing but sharp nerves.

Nothing but sharp words.

The words pierced jagged into our souls as we twisted around curves of stone and thorn.

We ached to find a place of refuge but we did not speak of it.

Pride can be a silent enemy.

The road bent and we with it and there it was. Our strong tower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name of the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run into it.

I ran out of the car and down into the fallen stones, my eyes on the round tower.

The gate was locked.

Am I allowed in this place?

It is the whisper of the enemy of our souls that tries to keep us from coming into a place of safety. A place of protection.

I ignored the hiss of whisper and stepped over a stone wall and found myself face to face with a pasture full of bulls.

They would not keep me from standing in that sacred abbey place with celtic crosses shining in the going down sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Run.

Run as fast as you can, past the bulls, past the whisperer, into the place of Refuge.

 

The arms of Jesus. Your strong tower where you are made right again.

There Are No Shoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story goes something like this:

A man comes in to a lodging place late after a night on the town. When he sits on his bed, he pulls one shoe off and drops it to the floor with a loud bang. Feeling a bit guilty about the people sleeping in the room below him, he slips off the other shoe and places it quietly next to the dropped one. He undresses and gets into bed and as he’s about to fall asleep he is startled by a loud voice coming from the room below. “Drop the other shoe, would you? I can’t get back to sleep waiting for to drop the other shoe.”

Some say this was an old vaudeville act which was meant to be funny.

Some live their lives likes it’s a reality.

The mouth is set, the teeth clenched waiting for the inevitable bang of disruption.

The expected disaster. The embrace of Murphy’s Law.

There is no laughing waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The enemy of our souls tries to hold a shoe over our heads.

The enemy of our souls appeals to the place in our hearts that says we deserve the things that come to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah. Deserve.

That earning thing. That consequence thing.

What words do we grow up with?

“You didn’t eat all your supper so you don’t deserve any dessert.”

“You did everything that was required and then some…you deserve an A.”

“You did everything on the check-off list of life.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You missed too many church services.”

“You didn’t handle your money properly.”

“You cheated on the test, your taxes, your wife.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deserved. Justice. Fairness. Reward. Punishment.

Comrade words.

If I read enough, if I really show how much I love God, if I give it all, He will have to bless me.

It’s only fair. I deserve it.

If I forget to pray, or I am bored by the God words on the page…if I ignore one more plea for help, then I will not receive blessing and perhaps even invite punishment. This is fair. This is just.

God speaks:

Who are you that you determine “deserves?”

By even comparing myself to another smacks of usurping the sovereignty of an Almighty God.

His voice comes to me in the bathroom when I am washing my face.

“Do you dare to presume deservedness?”

I  will  bless you.

I am Jacob in that moment.

Going after a blessing in my own strength and having it culminate in a wrestling match with God Himself only to be stun-gunned in the hip by the finger of the Almighty.

A limp to remember Who he is making demands of.

The finger of God in my heart reminds me that He blesses not according to deservedness.

 He is The  Bless-er.

Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.

It is Who He is, a Bestower of Gifts that abound and spill.

He is the spiller of gifts because there are so many.

It is the gifts that fall, not shoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfulness for everything that comes in this life is the river, the conduit, the stream for more and more blessing. 

I am thankful His blessings are not given or withheld based on what I deserve.

Deserve. Strike it from the dictionary.

The word should be banished from human language.

Under the Blade of the Spade

Let us go to the other side.

Jesus words.

To a bunch of leather-faced fisherman who know the drill.

Men who know boats. Men who know the water.

Just another routine trip across a lake they’ve navigated hundreds of times.

They could do it in their sleep.

On this day it is Jesus who sleeps.

Somewhere in the middle of the lake, a storm blows in brutal enough to drive even sea-worthy men to panic.

And in their fear they accuse.

Teacber, do You not care….?

Jesus speaks. Hush, be still.

Is  He just talking to the wind?

The fishermen had forgotten in their fear  the sleeping King had told them from the beginning they were going to the other side. 

I took the spade to some plants the other day and plunged the blade into the middle of the greenness and pushed.

I heard the snap of the tender stalks. 

I carefully lifted the blade and plunged it in again, this time around the perimeter of the plant, lifting the roots.

The spade brought the intial cut.

The shovel did the rest.

Slicing into the ground it cut through the entanglement of roots and life-giving dirt and separated the stalks  from the only home it has known.

I shook the dirt clods from the roots and carefully laid the bent and bruised stalks on the ground while I dug another hole.

The plant I ripped from the ground looked dead.

But I know a secret.

I plunge and cut and uproot because I want more flowers.

I know that the uprooting will bring new growth.

I know that the bruising will bring more life.

A new chapter begins for my family upon hearing that the company my husband has worked for the better part of twenty five years is suddenly shutting some operations down. 

Unemployment was not on the radar screen.

The horizon is clouded and we cannot see what is in front of us.

We feel the sharp blade of the spade.

We are learning to trust in a King who rests during a storm.

We are learning to trust even more in a Savior who wants us to live out of faith and not fear.

To live out of praise and not accusation.

I know the King cuts and slices and uproots. 

It is because He wants more flowers.

Mother’s Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mothering is like fence building with rocks and bricks that don’t match.

There are sharp edges.

It takes time to fashion a mother who is intentionally kind. 

It takes time to put the rocks and bricks in the right place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is the heavy lifting of apology.

But it is a necessay foundation. When a mother apologizes and admits to her children her own need for a Savior, her children are given a great gift.

They learn how to forgive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It takes time for things to bloom and by then the mother is weathered and not a little broken.

Some might think this unfair, but the mother knows it is the way of the Cross.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cross covers it all. The arguements. The attempts to control. The scary, angry face.

The cross covers a mother when she is afraid. Will her children grow up well?  Despite her….involvement?

One day in the midst of a pile of rocks, fallen down yet again, she sees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children, born from her womb, grown, with talents she knows nothing about. Children who know things she doesn’t know.

Children who teach her.

Her heart is full.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers who live among rocks and are covered by a Savior.

May you see all that Jesus has done in you and through you in the lives of your children.

 

 

Brick and Mortar Rest Stop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes you are going along in your life and you actually see the blessings.

They are standing right in front of you. 

A memory steps out of  the shadows reminding you that God spoke about these very blessings a long time ago.

Sometimes you hear His voice as if He’s peering over your shoulder, and you think, “Is that You, God, breathing on me?”

You find yourself standing under God’s smile and you know full well it is not because you’ve done something good.

It’s because He is good.

He promises that you will get to the other side and you believe Him because the miracles are happening all around you.

You are moving forward.

Then you see it. Jericho.

A  brick and mortar place.

A set in stone place.

You are stopped dead in your tracks and that’s when you realize how tired you really are.

Not. Going. To. Move.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve hit a brick wall.

And it takes a moment to realize God put it there.

I am deliriously happy with some recent events in my life.  A new church building.  A new grandbaby coming.  A son getting married. A successful homeschool adventure coming to a close.  And these are just the ones that have a calendar date attached to them.

There are so many others.

With each new blessing, each new adventure, the to-do list seems to grow and I need to be reminded Who spoke the blessings into being in the first place.

Joshua needed reminding, too, before his Jericho moment.

“Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying ‘The Lord your God gives you rest, and will give you this land’ “

The rain came hard this morning and I woke up wanting to sleep in the cocoon of a blissfully dreary day.

I couldn’t move forward in anything I was so tired. 

Instead I walked in a wide circle around walls that appear impenetrable. It’s all I can do sometimes.

No fighting, no laboring, only walking.

And chewing on words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words that promise rest and a future land. A mission. A portion for me to walk in.

Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Some of the walls in my life are of my own making, but other times they are put there by the One who loves me because He doesn’t want me to take another step until I’ve rested.

I am learning there is still time for sounding trumpets.

 

Keeper of Dirt

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There is a scene at the beginning of the movie, “Far and Away”, when a young Irishman named Joseph is leaning over his father’s death bed, (actually, the old duffer was laid out on a table) and after dying once, then coming back to life for a brief moment, the father exchanges some words with his son about land.  The father laments that all dreams eventually end up in the bottom of an ale glass, but  Joseph will have none of that. He means to own land one day, and tells his father so. The poor boy will not accept his indentured servitude and that his chances of taking land from the nobles would be, in his father’s words, a miracle.

“I’ll work my own land someday.”

“Without land, a man is nothing.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“Land is a man’s very own soul.” 

So poetic. So Irish. Makes for a good movie scene.

Then God speaks.

Desiring land, one’s own piece of dirt, is hard wired into the human heart, the human soul.

We are made from the land. Under the breath and holy hands of the Almighty the dirt yields up a man.

God places him in the land and on the land. A garden place it is, a place to cultivate and to keep.

But the man forgets who he is and what he is made of, so he takes what is not his to take and he falls.

The land falls with him.

Then God speaks.  

To your descendants I have given this land…

A milk and honey place. A place of wheat and barley and vines and figs and pomegranates and oil.

God gives it all back.

He lifts man from the fallen place and  He lifts the land, too.

For the upright will live in the land, and the blameless will remain in it…

It is springtime and my hands are in the dirt. I am embarrassed when I meet someone in public because I have forgotten that my nails are ragged with the digging and the dirt won’t give up its place in them no matter how much I bathe my hands in soap and water.

I am a descendant of land keepers.

My grandfather made straight lines in the New Hampshire dirt with his tractor, moist earth clods falling from the tire treads.  He lined the perimeter of his house with flower mounds lasting until winter’s frost.

My father walks his land somewhere in the midwest, taking care of the field and the woods, sometimes leaving a pile of firewood for a  human forest dweller only God knows is there.

I turn the garden soil because I am keeping it, cultivating it. I don’t care how small it is or that the yield is something I put in a vase.

It is a milk and honey place for me and I think of God mostly when I’m there. 

If you are in a dry and weary land, I pray that you will know God makes a way even there.  When we seek Him He promises to make an oasis in the desert place. Even the desert land comes under the breath and holy hands of an Almighty God.