Friday, May 19, 2017

The Door in the Valley of Achor

December 19, 2012

My anxiety has been increasing lately, with the holidays and the house not renting and this chaotic world that we live in.

Last night I read some and it calmed me down. I lay in bed, quietly breathing and feeling the spaciousness within, when my whirling and repetitive and anxious thoughts are still.

I am always with you, Jesus said.

And I thought, why? Why does He repeat that to me so very often? What does that mean? What is He saying to me?

I rested in the question. The first thought that came up was that God was like some sort of Santa-figure, always watching to see if I've been naughty or nice.

No wonder His words don't comfort me for very long, if that's the meaning that I've been unconsciously assigning to them!

The next thought that came up was that He was with me in order to "use" me in some super productive way.

That thought always comes up, even though Jesus has corrected me on this many times. It's been ingrained in me that God is only with us in order to "use" us as if we were nothing more than objects.

Those were the surface thoughts. After those thoughts, a wondering thought came up from a deeper and quieter place in my spirit.

I considered how Jesus has gone to great lengths to remind me that He's always been with me, even when I wouldn't have guessed He would remain, from childhood and in every moment and in every interaction, and that He does not remember my sins.

So then it seemed to me that He might be with me because He loves me. As an expression of this love, He created me to be in the world and for Himself to be in the world through me.

Just because. Just as myself, the self He created me to be.

And then this morning, I read this:

"Think of the many, many stories about God choosing people. There’s Moses, Abraham, and Sarah; there is David, Jeremiah, Gideon, Samuel, Jonah, and Isaiah. There is Israel itself. Much later there’s Peter and Paul, and, most especially, Mary.

God is always choosing people. First impressions aside, God is not primarily choosing them for a role or a task, although it might appear that way. God is really choosing them to be God’s self in this world, each in his or her unique situation.

If they allow themselves to experience being chosen, being a beloved, being somehow God’s presence in the world, they invariably communicate that same chosenness to others—almost naturally. And thus the Mystery passes on from age to age. Yes, we do have roles and tasks in this world, but finally they are all the same—to uniquely be divine love in a way that no one else can or will."

-Adapted from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, pp. 42-43

Prayer:

Come, Lord Jesus!

December 22, 2012 (this is my first journal entry)

So I have to write about something lately.

I’ve been reading and in this book, it talks about being awake to the present moment, no matter what it brings, without judgment, just to be in it. That is where one finds God.

And that is true, and I have been practicing it.

Also, it talks about three ways of relating to God, and one is as His beloved.

And I remembered of course, that kind of longing and I wondered where it went. I was pouring out my heart to Jesus a few nights ago, all my frustration over my confusion about faith and asking and receiving and my guilt about all that, not understanding it.

I mean, I was shouting at Him, bent over double, crying out. It was exhausting and risky, but I really have grown into Him, because I was able to do it.

Jesus was tenderly listening and gracefully supporting. He didn’t give me answer, except to remind me that I have asked Him about that before- because I had been feeling guilty that I hadn’t.

And so I asked Him about the longing, where did it go? And we remembered together all that longing and I couldn’t discern if it was Him or I that had tapered it away. But it seemed as though that was part of the journey, part of growth deeper into Him, a kind of give and take, rising and falling.

For some reason, I remembered Jesus all over again, how delicious He is. And I loved Him, I loved Him, I loved Him, without reserve, passionately. He received all this and gave back and I remembered all this kind of loving that is between us like that.

And Jesus teased me, because He knew me. He said, you love Me even with all this? And it was as though He gestured back to all the unanswered questions and all the frustration and anger that I had about those unanswered questions and the discomfort of them.

I said, "Yes! Yes, yes, yes, with all that, no matter what, all the time, I love You with all that I am." Because it’s true. It amazed me, even in that moment, and I said, "I can’t help it- it’s Your nature. I can’t help loving You. I can’t resist You."

A part of me thought this was unfair. And I thought, Jesus must be narcissistic or something, to be able to go around not answering questions, doing whatever He wants and still being loved. I resented this ease.

I recognized this emotional honesty as part of the process- the very important part of being in the moment and not hiding even the difficult parts of my authentic heart. So instead of squelching that thought, I let it flow up.

I reminded myself that even C.S. Lewis struggled with a similar thought- that God is always demanding to be worshiped and glorified.

I reminded myself that God does not keep Himself aloof, demanding to be glorified, but that He incarnated Himself into this world and tabernacle among us and now lives in us, and so feels all the suffering and humiliation and longing and deprivation that this life brings.

Also, Jesus loves us even more irretrievably that we love Him. It is as though He makes Himself a captive of His love for us.

You are My beloved, He affirmed, as I was thinking all this.

I was glad and I welcomed this reminder of who I was, even though I did not feel passionate longing at that moment. But I did not stir it up; I let myself be who I was in the moment.

I’ve been doing this all along and I have had some extraordinary times of simply being in love, as it were. I am able, now, to allow everything to flow up in love as it will, and not to run from my identity as His beloved.

This morning I got up and I made myself open to the present moment. When I do this, I feel and hear and see everything so clearly. Everything has this extraordinary beauty, even myself.

I am especially delighted by sounds; everything makes a sound and I hardly ever notice it, unless I am in the moment, and then I am surrounded by them. The sound of the water is especially intoxicating.

Each moment I tell myself not to seek Jesus, but to be present to what is real and the beauty washes through me.

I can’t describe what it is like, except that it is as though I am infused with Jesus, and everything around me is infused with Him and yet also itself and beautiful in itself and I am passionately, intimately and completely claimed and enjoyed by Him, without perceiving His manifest presence in any particular way. Except that my whole self is alive, alive, alive- living and awake.

I was doing this, and again I was there in the moment, to the present physical reality that surrounded me. I felt the heaviness in me and the ache of grief, the ache that is both physical and emotional.

I let everything flow up, the heavy grief and the loss of potential, the loss of all that could have warmly sheltered a tiny life and nurtured as it grew, but instead, now unnecessary. No life to hold there and now unwanted, unused, just something to be tossed away, gotten rid of, washed out.

The grief welled up in waves from deep with me and through my chest to my shoulders to my face, which twisted up in sorrow and I let the grief flow up through me into Him. I drew my open heart right into His; I held nothing back.

It wasn’t just the loss of what could have been, it was also the loss of a certain kind of life, a certain kind of person that I could have been- a mother, the center of family life, a kind of busy, loving, present reality centered mother sort of tied to the normal things of life through her children and her husband.

And I was none of those things, I was this strange, barren, solitary woman, full of strange spiritual experiences, most of which I can’t express to any other person.

And again, as He did before, Jesus told me that I was not barren, I was spiritually full of Him, and that the children of the barren woman are more than that of one that has given birth.

I did feel this; I did feel that I was completely enveloped and suffused with His presence, without perceiving Him in any particular way.

I cried out to Jesus that I did not understand what He meant by spiritual children, that it didn’t make sense to me, that I had no spiritual children, that only four people read my blog and my book wasn’t published and I had no people that I was teaching or guiding.

But Jesus insisted that it was true, in whatever way it was true, so I accepted that, even though I couldn’t understand it and even though I still felt my physical and emotional grief and loss.

It was a raw and intimate and immediate, and it kept flowing into the next moment and the next moment and I kept waking up to the moment as it came and I was alive and I was intoxicated by Him and completely infused by His presence.

I kept having to breathe in deeply and I felt my lungs expand and I kept getting dizzy and reaching out against the side of the wall and feeling the solid surface under the hand, everything around me seen in a bright, quiet clarity, the light and the colors.

I felt Jesus' presence in everything and I kept accepting this and it was intoxicating. It was ravishing, awakening, without definition or boundary and it was simple- as simple as breathing, and my eyes taking in the light.

I kept thinking, I am His beloved and accepting that and not turning away from that, and it was ravishing, the simplicity and the completeness of that love.

Jesus kept reminding me that no matter what the next moment might be, He was always there, always with me, that this was always true. I didn’t have to make it true or to grasp at it, I just had to trust that it was always true in each moment as it came.

As I am writing this out, I can’t help but recognize the way in which I have grown. This kind of intimacy I would never, ever been able to accept, earlier. I would have been too much hindered by shame and disbelief. I wouldn’t have been able to accept myself as Jesus created me, or to believe that He would accept me with all the grief and all the raw love, just as I really am.

I have made some leaps and bounds in my spiritual growth.

December 23, 2012 Published

We are landlords again.

Keith got the call a few evenings ago, out of the blue. The last people to view the house loved it and wanted to move in the next day, and they did.

Looking back now, Keith and I are not sure how we made it through the last five months. It was unnerving, akin to walking on thin ice day after day, hearing it crack a little beneath our weight and looking always for the shore and not seeing it.

Our Christmas this year is still going to be modest and we are not able to travel up to Indiana as we usually have.

We did, however, buy something for Baby- the crib mattress. Keith jammed it up into our cart and then we looked at each other.

"For Baby!" I exclaimed happily. "Whoever and wherever he or she is!"

"Whoever," Keith repeated, smiling.

When I got home, I put away the groceries and then dressed the crib with Winnie the Pooh sheets and bumper pads. The nursery looks much more cozy now. I can imagine a tiny, wrinkled new born lying on those sheets, wearing footed pajamas and looking around with jerky movements and wide eyes.

We are going to take one month to try and do some repairs to our battered finances and then we will take out the loan in February and go active at the adoption agency.

This Christmas has been rough. I always feel as if I am scavenging through all the emotional clutter to get at something meaningful, some small piece of joy or hope or wonder that is left under the pressing anxiety of expectations.

I was cleaning out my bedside drawers recently- looking for something which I did not find- and I came across this scrap of paper on which I had written all the anxieties that had been pressing down on me at that time.

It was a long list and the funny thing was, I couldn't remember a single one of them. None of them mattered, in the long run. All of them were resolved.

All I could remember was how oppressed I had been by them at the time.

I've brought that scrap of paper to mind many times in the last few weeks. I don't know how or when, but I know that everything that feels heavy and impossible, everything looming over me right now, will be resolved and pass away.

As usual, I try always to wake up in the present moment; to be alive here and now, no matter how much I would like to escape into a rosy vision of what the future might hold, no matter how tightly I feel myself to be tied to the past.

Right now, for example, I hear the quiet clatter of the dryer and the whir of the heater, as it fights off the chill of this gray morning. Keith's sneakers are tumbled at the floor beside my desk and my glasses rest on top of a Christmas card sent from my parents. The Christmas lights twinkle in a haze of red, orange, green and blue; their reflections shine diffused and soft in the wood floor below. Lynn sits at the window next to me, intent on some mysterious and pressing matter that only she knows about- a rabbit, maybe.

Right now, I feel worn out, inside and out. And that is okay. Even the landscape around me is resting now, bedded down deep and sleeping in the short days. After the quietness, a different season will be coming. Right now there is only the promise of it, a light in the dark.

February 16, 2013 Published

There is a post-it note attached to the bottom of my computer screen these days.

It reads:

"What would I be Doing if I wasn't afraid? If I had no fear? Only time, faith, hope and love."

Each time I read it, I think: What a great question! Let me think about that. Usually, the answer is: write. Write my ever loving little heart out.

Sometimes it's on the Dear Birthmother letter, which I admit, is not quite finished, though it's the very last unfinished part of the pamphlet.

And the hardest. It's so hard there aren't any words to describe how far that takes me outside of- not even my comfort zone, but myself, to write that. God could not have chosen for me a worse, more unlikely, more personally terrifying path to parenting than domestic adoption.

Actually, if I were to talk openly about Jesus and not about writing, I would say that He has a habit of sneaking up on me in my unguarded moments and suddenly loving me.

He has to do this, because lately, I've been very guarded with Him and He seems to respect that. I don't know why He would; He doesn't have to.

I wake up in the morning and glare at Him defensively, in a manner of speaking. I feel prickly. I don't want to know that He loves me anyway, it offends my sense of proportion.

But every time I manage to drop the act and simply be my unguarded, awful, prickly self, I feel as if He catches me up in His arms and pours His love all through me. He's very persistent that way. Eventually He might even wear me down.

Eventually I might give up the act entirely and surrender, in very practical terms, to this idea that He loves me exactly as I am, hidden self and surface self, flesh and blood and spirit and haywire emotions and all.

Sometimes I manage to drop the act entirely and simply be with Him, but that's very difficult to do. It's so raw. My heart cracks open and everything pours out. I stop trying to pretend that I feel better than I do. I had a vivid, almost guttural experience of this last month.

I felt as if my body was empty and becoming emptier, losing all that would have warmly held a new little life, something of inexpressible value. Instead, I was being poured out, all that emptied out, not needed, becoming colder and worthless, tossed aside, an empty cup.

I gave up trying to fight this crippling pain; I let it flow through me. It went through me in waves of loss. And the extraordinary thing is that I felt myself to be absolutely suffused by the presence of God. Every breath I took, I breathed in God. Every shudder of pain that I felt went through His own body, it was as if we had the same open, fragile skin and suffered the same bruised and broken heart.

I couldn't get away from this sensation, any way I turned, any way I moved, I was enclosed and suffused by God. I kept taking huge, gasping breaths of air, partly because I was crying and partly because the air was just so heavy with Him.

It was beyond words, but I could not escape His complete and irresistible impression upon me. It was the most intimate that I have ever felt myself to be with Jesus.

And the deepest thing, the most compelling thing, is that it’s His own pattern, it's like a shadow of His own life, which also was poured out, emptied, and so He is all through it.

These sorts of tender sacrifices are very close and dear to His heart, inexpressibly so. They have incredible value to Him, though we can't see how or why right now.

*

Oceans
Hillsong United







Friday, May 12, 2017

With All That Followeth

September 28, 2012

I've been doing a lot of thinking about writing. Last night, I lay awake for hours, thinking about everything I had ever written.

Do you know that they are all the same story? It's astonishing to me. From the time I was fifteen years old, writing with smudged blue ink on papers torn out of a ring binder, I have been writing the same story.

Here is the story; I can tell it very simply.

There is a girl. She is powerless and unformed.

She is taken out of her known world.

She falls in love with a man who is powerful, self-aware, self-disciplined and ageless. He loves her first and for no reason.

She finds out who she is by two things: the internal conflict that comes as a result of extreme displacement between the place where she was and the place she is taken-by contrast, and the sense of belonging that comes as a result of instinctive, unconditional love- by acceptance.

End of story.

Any external conflict is largely meaningless, poorly thought out and badly timed. It always is, because it simply doesn't matter. It's the internal conflict and resolution that matters.

You recognize this story, I'm sure. It's a common story. I've been writing about my longing for God. Within God are two things I want desperately-context and unconditional love.

What I can't understand is why I need the mechanism of the other world. Why does the girl need to be taken out of her known world in order to find God?

That's what I've been thinking about, lately, when I haven't been thinking about other, more practical day to day things, like what to cook for dinner.

Thank goodness I don't angst over those things!

What should I cook for dinner, and why? What does frozen chicken mean to the human condition? If I bake it, what does that say about my inner motives?

Moving on.

November 13, 2012 Julian of Norwich

“For as the body is clad in the cloth, and the flesh in the skin, and the bones in the flesh, and the heart in the whole, so are we, soul and body, clad in the Goodness of God, and enclosed. Yea, and more homely: for all these may waste and wear away, but the Goodness of God is ever whole; and more near to us, without any likeness; for truly our Lover desireth that our soul cleave to him with all its might, and that we be evermore cleaving to His Goodness. For of all things that heart may think, this pleaseth most God, and soonest speedeth [the soul].

“For our soul is so specially loved of Him that is highest, that it overpasseth the knowing of all creatures: that is to say, there is no creature that is made that may [fully] know how much and how sweetly and how tenderly our Maker loveth us. And therefore we may with grace and His help stand in spiritual beholding, with everlasting marvel of this high, overpassing, inestimable Love that Almighty God hath to us of His Goodness. And therefore we may ask of our Lover with reverence of all that we will.

“For our natural Will is to have God, and the Good Will of God is to have us; and we may never cease from willing nor from longing till we have Him in fullness of joy: and then may we no more desire.

“For He willeth that we be occupied in knowing and loving till the time that we shall be fulfilled in Heaven; and therefore was this lesson of Love shewed, with all that followeth, as ye shall see.”

-Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love, Chp. VI

November 13, 2012

For some time now I've been living in the truth that God is in me and I am in Him, and that this needs no proof, no constant assertion, no seeking. It simply is, in each moment.

I've been doing this in part to prevent myself from making a personal religion of my perceptions or experiences of God. It would have been easy to do. And in fact I had started to do that. It would have been easy for me to constantly seek what I already possessed, to try to recapture by the outward mechanism what had happened there before by the grace of God.

I also began to rest like this in part because I saw how I was dividing myself into the acceptable and the unacceptable. I was doing this to every aspect of myself- thoughts, emotions, aspirations, my physical self. I was trying to take over and direct a kind of bleaching process that by early training I so closely associated with the gaining and retaining of intimacy with God.

Frequently, I would become so busy sifting myself that I had no time or ability to simply be with Jesus at all. It was ultimately a futile, endless pursuit, one that filled with me shame and frustration.

When I realized these things, I made a deliberate choice to suspend this type of self-imposed division. I gave myself over in my entirety to Jesus, so that He could divide as He wished, in His own way and in His own time.

At the same time, I stopped seeking the experience of Jesus' presence and simply rested in the truth of Him. I let go of my expectations, both of myself and of Him. I let myself be still.

(This was critical, because I was beginning to associate the experience of His presence with His love and faithfulness, and there is no peace and trust in that incorrect assumption. It leads to a kind of desperate searching that is based on a constant need for reassurance and not on a longing to love God and know Him and be with Him.)

In the early summer, when I was first making this transition of thought, I would sometimes become anxious that I was no longer actively seeking God. Like a child that is just learning to walk, I would take a few steps and then reach out for Him, for reassurance, to know that He is still there even if I could not feel His hand. (Sometimes entire days were taken up with this kind of neediness, but He never grew impatient with me.)

Each time, I heard Jesus tenderly say, You know that I Am.

He said this to me so often that it became like a stream of living water constantly running through the deep places of my spirit. I could hear the music of this water, this living connection that runs through my spirit and God's Holy Spirit, which is, in some profound and mysterious way, one spirit.

And I do know. I know that He always is. This is a peaceful and whole way of living, and I am getting better at living in it.

Still I find myself reaching out to Jesus, sometimes out of anxiety and sometimes out of love.

Out of love, I lie still in the bed at night and listen to my own breath. I remember that it is the breath of God.

When I breathe in, I take my breath from His mouth. When I breathe out, I return it to Him. The intimacy and trust of this causes my spirit to settle down into a deep and living rest. I know myself to be cocooned in the living heart of God, face to face with Him.

Jesus taught me this Himself, but for a long time, I was too shy or too full of shame to surrender myself to it. Now I can begin it in trust, knowing He is there.

"Should I ask You for something?" I sometimes ask Jesus. "Should I be asking You, over and over again, for the house to be rented or that we be matched with the right birth mother?"

But then I wonder why would I ask Jesus for things I already know He's intimately involved with.

I no longer associate God primarily with the result. I understand Him to be almost inextricably involved in the process. He is my entire life, moment by moment. (Therefore, all the meaning and all the good is no longer only based on some future goal, but it is spread out over my whole life, and so I must and so I should be right here, doing what I should be doing right now.)

Besides, maybe going through a disrupted adoption plan is a necessary pruning or threshing. In that case, why should I ask to avoid it?

Every once in a while, I do find myself asking Jesus for something specific.

"Aha!" I tell Him, humorously. "I have made a request of You! I do still do that, after all."

I no longer pause to get myself ready to meet with Him, as though there were some sort of powder room where I could go to touch up my face before the official meeting. He’s already living in me all the time, although I sometimes forget this.

I remember getting caught up in this sort of fruitless pursuit one night. I was trying to get myself in the right and holy frame of mind, before resting in Him. As usual, this was frustrating. It's like going around in circles.

Then I remembered with sweet relief that getting myself in the right frame of mind- trying to earn Him, was not the way to Him. I let myself fall back into His presence, just as I was.

"I almost got lost on the way," I confessed.

I knew where you were, He said tenderly. He would; He is the way.

I know that I am His. Sometimes I call Him by name, and the intimacy of it send shivers through my spirit.

There's pleasure in both pursuits, the seeking of God and the resting in God.

It makes me think of something He said, something that I have wondered about, from time to time:

"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
-John 10:9

I always wondered, in and out of where?

I wonder if we are sometimes turning inward to Him, and resting in the truth that He is in us. And maybe sometimes we are going out and seeking Him, with all the deep yearning for Him, and the pleasure of knowing He will be found.

Either way, we have entered; we are safe. We have a resting place and we have the give and take of intimate relationship, which is so very nourishing.

December 3, 2012 Unpublished

I have been having the hardest time lately. I came across a belief along the lines that God might have a critical moment where we must respond- to God, to our destiny- that we might get tapped on the shoulder and if we don't respond right then, well, that is bad, perhaps irrevocably bad.

This terrifies me for lots of different reasons.

I've been sort of moving through the day as best I could, which is not very good, but Jesus keeps telling me that all I must do is move through it, be in it.

I asked Jesus about that critical moment and He replied that it was quite possible that for other people, He might give them the experience of a critical moment, because that is the way He is relating to them and because of the way their spirit and soul grow and develop, but that He might not provide such a critical moment to everyone- specifically me, because in my case, such a thing is not a good fit for the growth of my spirit.

"So it is not like that with me?" I asked Him.

Jesus replied immediately that if such were the case, not only would He have told me so very clearly, in a way I could not miss, but that He would also have given me the strength and ability to see it through.

And of course, at no point has Jesus ever said such a thing to me- that I had to make a critical decision right now, or never. So I felt incredibly relieved, because that just makes perfect sense.

Then Jesus told me to sit down and write this down, I think because He knows I have been so anxious about it.

December 3, 2012 Unpublished

So last night I was just overwhelmed by feedback- specifically speaking, a lack of feedback that I had hoped for, no response at all. (This would not impact me in the same way now. Silence is sometimes the only response possible, for a variety of good reasons. The Lord has settled that understanding peacefully withn me, but He was only beginning that kind of work at the time of this particular blog post.)

As I was pouring out my deepest feelings, Jesus was pouring back to me empathy and love- in such a way that I was able to see myself more clearly and gain more clarity about the intensity of the feelings.

You've given this person authority over you, Jesus pointed out. You fear them.

Immediately, a bunch of things coalesced in my mind. I remembered doing this once before, and Jesus confirmed immediately, that yes, I had.

"And You didn't like it," I remembered, feeling guilty and suddenly wanting out from the present conversation.

I don't like it.

And then I remembered that whenever God says to fear Him, it’s usually because He doesn't want us to fear anything else.

"You want to be the only person holding the authority to define me," I stated to Jesus, realizing this.

Absolutely, He answered- though He didn't use a word, but the meaning was unmistakable.

I felt this great sense of freedom. I felt freed from the prison of wanting this other person's validation and approval. I could respect and learn from, and be compassionate and humble toward others, but I need fear only God.

December 6, 2012

I figured maybe it was time for practical updates.

The house still has not rented; December is the fifth month that we have carried the mortgage on two houses. It's numbing.

We have lowered the rent as far down as we dare to go; we have had a move-in special for the last two months.

People are often making appointments to see it, but only one family filled out an application. They weren't very good candidates, but beggars can't be choosers, so we decided to take a gamble on them.

That fell through anyway, the day before Thanksgiving.

For about six hours before it fell through, I could see suddenly that everything would be alright. We would actually adopt. The whole thing would happen.

Then suddenly the door closed and it was all impossible and mind-numbing and so one might as well go back to real life again.

Keith is going to be Santa today for his company's Christmas party. Last night we had to look for his old black army boots, the pair he wore in Germany, so long ago.

The closet is off the nursery, such as it is. I knew this would happen when I began decorating it; I knew it would at some point be a symbol of pain, and so it is. I don't like going in it.

That room has a surreal look to it, especially in the glare of the overhead light. It has the feel of a room that a parent has kept perfectly, although the child has gone somewhere beyond their reach.

There's simply nothing to be done but wait.

I watched the video of The Snowman. In it, there is a scene of a little girl looking out the window at the starry sky while she holds a card with Santa on it. She is awestruck to see the snowman and the boy go flying past on their way to the North Pole.

I realized, as I watched it this time, that she was able to be so transported by awe in part because she was kept safe and sound by her family. Her parents slept somewhere cozily in the house, having made a space for the child to grow, to be filled with wonder, to have her own dreams.

Somehow, this struck me to the quick. I had always thought I would be one such parent. I had always thought that my home and my love would shelter a number of small children as they grew, secure and yet filled with wonder.

But this is not so. When I think of this, I feel withered and dried up. I feel irrelevant to the big picture, to the real things of life.

This is a terrible way to feel and so I have learned to push it away and to feel nothing. This is an unhealthy thing to do and goes contrary to every bit of personal wisdom and experience that I have gained in life, but there it is. That's what I do.

It's certainly what I do when I flick on the light of the so called nursery and see that dust is gathering on the small clothing and toys, and everything seems to be some kind of unthinkably cruel joke as my husband empties bag after bag of old army equipment onto the floor in search of a boot so he can dress up as Santa for all the children in his company.

But I remember how quickly everything was switched back when we thought we would have renters, so I know this feeling of pathetic hope and weary impossibility is just an illusion. I just have to wait through it.

I could become angry at Jesus for this. I know He would not mind if I did. However, I just don't see the point of it, since I know that what I suffer, He suffers.

So what should I say to Jesus? Shall I say, why do You make Yourself suffer so?

The night I knew for sure that we could not pursue international adoption, He said to me, I have a plan for your life.

I'm not entirely sure why He felt the need to tell me so, as it is perfectly clear that He has a plan for every one's life.

And what can a person say to Him in response? No? I refuse?

In which case, I tend to believe that God becomes the following storm. He becomes the sailors that toss you off the ship, and He is the ocean that receives you and the whale that swallows you.

Eventually, He spits you up upon the shore, where He meets you, and teaches you about His offensive mercy.

So there is simply no escape. Sun or shade, one must sit and wait with Him. That is what I have learned, anyway.











Friday, May 5, 2017

May 5th

December 18, 2016


After a confusing start, when I finally got in the chair, and said, without words, "Here I am," Jesus said, I'm glad you're here.


I was tempted to get up and do something else, and asked for forgiveness for my inability to love Him even a fraction of what He deserves. I was quite ashamed of this, and I wanted to stay away in order to avoid facing Jesus, but I cannot hide such things.


In the midst of this, Jesus reminded me that He has veiled His glory so as to make choosing Him an actual choice- in the fullness of His glory, worship will be inescapable. But He has humbled Himself so that we have the gift of choosing Him, which is precious and meaningful to Him.


I threw my arms around Jesus and declared, "I choose You! Thank You for allowing me to give You this gift!"


Sweetheart!


December 21, 2016


"I get up again." That is what I say to Jesus when I find that my attention has wandered, or my longing has ebbed- I pull myself up and back to Him regardless, because that is how I can offer the choice to love Him as a gift. Sometimes, that is almost all I do for the bulk of the time, unable to see Jesus but knowing He is there.


December 22, 2016


I waited in the quiet, and saw His face, full of tenderness, composed and quiet. Knowing this sight in His invitation and open door, I went and curled up in His arms and leaned against Jesus and confessed all that came up, so as to be rid of it.


Rested in Him again during the day, and was talking to Jesus about this. "How foolish to think one can hide anything from You! I can hide nothing from my Creator," I confessed, with abandoned trust.


Nor should you, Jesus said, smiling.


December 23, 2016


When I finally could rest, Jesus rested Himself in my arms immediately.


"I listen, I listen," I said to Jesus, making my whole self still so that I can be receptive to any way in which Jesus wishes to come to me or call to me, which He does by giving me a glimpse of Him, and then I know where He is. Or I sense His presence, and I know the same, and I cherish that and accept and continue listening, each time accepting with trust and cherishing with love what He gives of Himself.


This causes my wonder and worship to increase at Jesus being with me, until the presence of Jesus is close to overwhelming, and I am seeing in an almost continuous way, giving and receiving love and presence in a flowing, intoxicating way, though my set time with Jesus does not always reach those heights of joy.


"What a priceless privilege to choose to worship You when it erroneously appears boring!" I declared to Him, when His presence was not strongly felt. "How wrong that is and how much You have veiled Yourself in order to give me the chance to make that choice! I choose You!"


My precious one, My heart, Jesus whispered.


Saw a strong, up close image of two hands , one holding a smooth, thick piece of wax and one a heart shaped punch cut out. The heart shape was pressed into the wax, slowly and surely, which would leave a heart shaped hole deep into the center of the wax, and a heart shaped piece inside the tool, just like a cookie cutter would, only much thicker. I didn't see the hand pull the cutter out. I saw this as though through golden light like honey.


After seeing this, I returned to Jesus as I normally do, and asked Him, "Are You giving me gifts (of a different kind of spiritual sight)?"


I'm giving you gifts, He confirmed.


December 25, 2016


Immediately caught up into His presence, but with many distractions. I had to keep getting up and returning my thoughts to Jesus as an act of worship. Saw His face come into clear view, smiling at me, knowing me.


"I confess, my flesh is weak and I cannot love You as You deserve- but I can keep getting back up!" I cried. "I can do that."


Precious Jenny! Jesus said, holding me close.


"It's by faith," I reminded myself, reaching for and finding Jesus, having been pulled away by another distracting thought, and filled with love to discover myself with Jesus.


Jenny, Jenny, Jenny, He said, lovingly.


"I love You," I told Him intently, touching gently His face, His face that was bruised and beaten. "I love You." Jesus holds Himself very still to receive- in the same way I listen for His love, He also listens to my love for Him.


*
Mary could turn to the servants and involve Jesus even though He had just told her it wasn't yet His time, because she knew Jesus- she knew His compassionate heart. She knew Him from long experience. She knew from being His mother what the Gentile woman must have known very quickly by faith, despite His telling her that it is not right for the bread for children to be given to the pets- she saw His heart of compassion and pressed for her request anyway.

Her request has such faith that it holds a prophetic picture of Jesus as the Living Bread of heaven being first offered as the Messiah to His own people, and then being broken on the cross and being offered to the nations. Her request went right through  what was seen to what was going to be given. When Jesus fed the multitudes, all the crumbs were gathered up so that nothing was wasted, and nothing was.

Jesus granted both their requests, praising the Gentile woman and no doubt giving His beloved mother a look of warm, good humored love before telling the servants what to do- looking at her with the kind of love that is deeply grounded in intimate, long standing relationship. He didn't praise His mother's faith in words because He didn't have to; He knew her faith and she knew His love.


"Open my eyes to see the beauty of Your corporate bride!"


You must see it by faith.


"Well, that I know how to do!" That is pretty much all my training, the training of seeing and walking by faith. I can look past short comings and anything else, and refuse to judge or pass sentence by those things, and see her beauty by eyes of faith- faith in the perfect work and faithfulness of Jesus, who will finish all His work, because of His name's sake. This opened my eyes to Jesus' authority and dropped me into wonder that I could be in His presence at all.


"Can it be, You with me, You who are head of all Your church?"


Expand your faith, Jesus commanded.


"For there is one Father and one Lord Jesus Christ and one body and one Holy Spirit," I quoted imperfectly, to give direction and basis to my faith. "You are holy and sovereign and beautiful in majesty, and Your name is above all names..."


Jesus breathed on my cheek, and feeling the warmth of His breath, my fear melted further away. "And You are my Friend and my Beloved, and have been with me all this time!" I added, obediently, in wonder. "To You be the glory!"


"Please brace their hearts, according to Your mercy and loving kindness," I added, pressing on His compassionate heart according to the revelation of how Mary His mother had, and Jesus burst out laughing. I have never seen such sparkling merriment in His face, His eyes dancing with light and laughter.


December 26, 2016


"Here I am. And here You are, in the place of beauty and wholeness You made for Yourself," I said, welcoming and cherishing Jesus with love.


Jenny, beloved Jenny.


"Rest Your heart in me," I had told Jesus last night, before falling asleep, and a look of intense love passed over His face.


Comforting one, He called me.


"Thank You for helping me  remember that," I said to Him, returning to Jesus after typing it.


You're welcome, He replied.


"Lord Jesus, I am trusting You to get me through this life to You, and You will!"


How could we be parted? He asked, with tender, quiet certainty.


December 28, 2016


"Lord, how are You?"


In response, I was swept up tightly into His arms of love. Jesus is full of love this morning.


Rejoice in Me! Jesus declared, when I threw my arms around Him in joy that I can be with Him and love Him.


Remembered His removal of something misplaced in my heart last night as I had my arms around Him, my cheek to His heart. "Thank You," I told Jesus gratefully. I was cherishing a memory, which I hadn't known what to do with, but I gave it all to Jesus, who is the Lord of my life, and my Life, and He took it away, which lifted a burden I hadn't realized I'd been carrying, and made more clear space for the Lord. Everything is His. Jesus is the only One who gets to define my life- what is important and why, what remains and what does not. Jesus alone determines these things about me.


"Thank You," I whispered again to Jesus, my Lord and my Judge, His quiet face of love so close to mine. "All glory to You, all glory to You!" Because Jesus is the One who is bringing me to perfection, just as He promised, therefore, all the glory of result is His.


Another distraction, returned to Him, right back to His living heart, enclosed by my Lord.

"Forgive me," I asked, because of these distractions.


Jenny, He said. His peace flowed through me, washing away the anxiety and misplaced guilt.


As I have rested with Him, Jesus has become much bigger than ever I perceived Him before- as though at the end, Jesus on the Throne. Almost I couldn't come back to Him because of this. Stretch out your faith, Jenny, Jesus commanded, so I did- I put my whole faith in Jesus to get me to Him- because the faith that Jesus speaks of is always faith in Himself, and I was with Him, to Him be all the glory.


"Lord, You have everything," I stated, because it was perfectly clear to me in that moment.


But not you, He replied, meaning that He longs for me to be there fully, which is something Jesus has said to me before, in the first years or so of seeing Him and being with Him. I used to pull as hard as I could on this longing of His in order to persuade Jesus to bring me home early, but after a while, Jesus asked me no longer to do that. What He said was, Don't put Me to the test. He meant, don't put His love to that test, because it was His will that I should finish my course, and instead, I should trust His love and do His will.


"Tree of Life, Tree of Life!" I cried, clinging close to Jesus in joy and relief, the words rising out of me in recognition of Him. "Oh tender holy Tree of Life!"


"May I come one more time to You?" I asked, having been pulled away again by distraction, probably by writing the above. Every time I pause to record something, I have to turn my attention away from Him in order to write, and afterward, I must then turn the whole of my attention back to Him.


Come close, Jenny,  said Jesus, Lord of lords, King of Heaven, smiling. So I came close into His embrace, in His arms of power and authority, and breathed in His living warmth and clung to Him and burrowed into His arms and now I must get up and serve Him in my daily life.


*
What love could be more deeply satisfying, more primal to the created, than the love of their Creator? There is no deeper love. He is the Beginning and He is the End. And yet His love does go deeper still, because He is our Savior, our Redeemer, casting off His glory, leaving heaven, being made like us, incarnate, living a human life, giving Himself as a ransom, becoming sin who knew no sin, dying our death that He might destroy death and become our eternal, abundant Life- so that we could be with Him. That's how much we are loved by the One that created us, that gave birth to us.


December 29, 2016


"I'm here," I said, settling in.


You please Me so much, Jesus said, before I could see Him at all.


"Jesus!" I whispered in delighted love, coming to His arms and looking at His smiling face. "My heart goes thump thump!" I patted my heart with my palm.


Receive it, you will not be ashamed, I remembered Him saying, and my faith increased to wonder, and Jesus' face crinkled up into merriment as He watched me.


"Jesus! Jesus!" I whispered, stunned, leaning my arms on His shoulders. "You are infinitely better... infinitely... You are..." But I was unable to put the feeling into words. I touched the corners of His eyes, wrinkled by sun and laughter, remembering all the ways He pours out love, His loving eyes never leaving my face, waiting.


When I come to Jesus, my joy rises out of me like a bird in flight, like a trilling song. Tongues and songs came pouring out of my throat to know I was with Jesus, safe and sound, home at last.


"Oh my goodness, it sounds like screeching,"I said, embarrassed at the high tone of sound- it's at a very high pitch, and my song warbles like a bird's.


Never believe it, Jesus countered, without words assuring me that He heard the full resonance and depth of sound in a way that I cannot yet, and it pleased Him.


What is your crown? Jesus asked me.


"It's You," I told Him, because that is the obvious and first answer. "Faith in You," I added.


Just so, He agreed, and He reminded me of that verse from so long ago- He crowns the humble with salvation. Jesus is salvation in Person.


*
We were standing, and I was holding His hand tightly, and looking at where the fountain is and suddenly I saw it in beautiful detail.


"Oh, I see it!" I breathed, delighted. It is rich with life, color, movement and light on the water and flowers, and life in the waters. The leaves are delicate and alive, a thin sheet of water pours over the rim of the upper basin, which has turned green from algae.


December 30, 2016


"Here I am."


Jenny, I love you.


It's not a ritual or a formula- it's new every time and yet the boundaries never change- it's always only between the Lord and I.


"When I come into Your presence for the full and final time, I'm going to fall at Your feet," I whispered, overwhelmed just by the degree of His presence that I was then caught up in.


I'll catch you.


December 31, 2016


He called me softly.


"Yes, Lord? Your servant is listening," I replied in a tad formal manner, because of being overwhelmed with His presence, and Jesus looked at me with dancing eyes, loving but full of humor at the incongruity of my formality when I'm holding Him in my arms.


"I'm so sorry (I wasn't doing that before)." Waking up to meet with Him? Choosing Him with more ardor even when the ecstasy is not there? I can't remember anymore, but His answer is important regardless.


Jenny, one step at a time, He assured me.


January 5, 2017


I give you all things, Jesus said- I need not strive or worry or look elsewhere for anything at all. Everything comes from Jesus.


"Yes, Lord. So be it."


*
"Here I am."


Precious Jenny.


"Precious Lord Jesus!" I replied, laughing, deliberately embracing the usual term of endearment from my One and Only. "Just to hear Your voice! That You call me anything at all! That I'm precious to You."


January 10, 2017


"Are You angry?" I asked, when I reached Jesus and was resting- meaning about how I had handled the challenge. I always feel that I could have done better; I can always think of a better way of handling it afterward.


No, sweetheart.


You've done well, Jenny, Jesus whispered to me, as I sank deeper into His peace- but I think that's sheer grace. Humanly speaking, I am barley loaves and two fish.


After a long, exhausting day that strained me almost to break point, came to Jesus in quietness, saw His outstretched hand and took it in wordless gratitude, already feeling the infilling of peace, and Jesus lifted my hand and kissed my fingers, His eyes full of love.


The doors to one thing have slammed shut, but I can’t help but think that this means the doors to prayer will swing wide, wide open and may it be so! I accept.


January 11, 2017


"Thank You for being in my life- this life," I said to Him, thinking of potty training and breakfast making and messy imperfection. I was falling into His peaceful presence and thinking of how He is Jesus, and yet He is with me, always.


In the very early morning, had woken and reached out for Jesus, and saw His tender, loving face looking down at me, and I was tucked into His arms like a baby, my face resting against the crook of His neck.


I've been thinking of how I've been released now to pray. "I want to pray with You, not just to You," I told Jesus. His eyes were full of depth as He listened, moved deeply by some sober emotion, His face seen with an unusual, sustained clarity.


"Your prayers are the most powerful force there is," I said, becoming aware of the fire burning in His heart- an eternal, consuming fire. "The fire in Your heart!" I whispered. "I want to pray with You, toward Your will, Your purposes on earth."


Yes, Jenny, He replied, gathering me up. I looked at Jesus again and again, drinking in the sight of Him in that beautiful, unusual clarity, each time looking at Him, wordlessly confessing all that I am to Him for His judgement, but there is no anger in the face of Jesus, only intense feeling that is held in peaceful stillness, and power and gentleness in equal, perfectly controlled measure. I kissed His hand, work toughened, corded with sinew at the wrists and the backs of His hands.


You are with Me, His voice was unshakeable, certain.


"Yes, Lord," I whispered.


Don't be afraid.


January 31, 2017


I knew that Jesus was with me, but hesitated going to Him. You have to believe that I want you with Me, I remembered. Saw His arms of love and accepted His closeness.


Distractions at every turn, but again in that high room, fell at His feet and kissed the hem. Just to touch the hem of His robe!


Just to be in the outer courtyard and to know Jesus is in the building. Just to be in the main building where He sometimes walks, and to know that He has walked there! Just to be in the inner buildings and to hear His voice from a nearby room echo down the hall as He speaks to people far above me. Just to catch a glimpse of Him! Saw Jesus sitting deep in thought and alone in the room; He looked up at me and His eyes lit up, filled with joyful expression, but I ducked away before the emotion of delight could show in His face because I was too shy to acknowledge it.


A moment later, I went right back and curled up in His arms. "I know Who You are and I know that You love me," I declared to Him in joy.


Found myself again in the higher room, after returning from distraction.


So where are you? Jesus asked me.


"With You."












Friday, April 28, 2017

The Scent of Water

August 30, 2012

Yesterday, I read a short blog about a woman giving birth. There was a picture of the young woman standing beside the ocean. It was simply of her belly, and then there were a few lines describing the birth. The mother was described as a warrior and stronger than she knew.

I was sitting there and then I was crying, just like that. I had this unexpected moment of clarity about my anxiety and shame. I remembered again why I feel broken and dry, absurd and childish.

It's not just tied up in my memories of repeated sexual abuse from before I could talk to grade school, the memories ready, at a moment's notice to twist my self-identity back to what I learned so early, the feelings of shame and brokenness are now because of my womb, my flesh and blood. I didn't just learn shame and worthlessness as a girl. I learned it all over again as a woman.

No wonder I feel so outside of the world, so strange. I'm not passing down through all those same channels, not passing by the same landmarks. I'm off somewhere in some field, a grab bag of broken pieces, watching the clouds.

My body won't catch life like a little spark, and warmly shelter it. I'll never know how strong I could have been, in that arena.

I comfort myself with the thought that we will adopt, and I will be a mother, regardless, but I can't seem to stay emotionally connected to this. It doesn't seem real. It feels like we'll be in the adoption process indefinitely- all this year and all next year. There's nothing but this tunnel.

As far as I know, we are waiting only on Colorado's background checks to come through. They sent us back the paperwork. Between the time we had sent it, and the time they received it, their fees went up by three dollars.

Some bureaucrat in the state of Colorado picked up their blue Bic pen, crossed out the printed fee of thirty dollars, hand wrote in thirty three dollars, stapled pink sheets to the forms, and mailed them back.

So that set us back two weeks, all for six dollars total. Spend it well, Colorado, spend it well. And who knows, maybe there is something else we are missing. Our homestudy agent keeps asking for more medical information on Keith.

I sent her his entire medical record and pages and pages of lab results. If she wants to know more about Keith's health, she is going to have to ask God, because we're tapped out.

Surely this process must end. Surely the reason why I haven't heard from her is because she is satisfied with the latest installment of my husband's medical information.

A soldier from Keith's old company texted him a picture of his new baby girl. She was adorable with these chubby cheeks, huge dark eyes and dark curls held back with a ribbon. It didn't hurt to see the picture. It was a little reminder of what waits at the end of this process.

September 6, 2012

Yesterday evening, I was sitting outside by the pool, marinating in melancholy. (How's that for an opening sentence?) It was almost a pleasant melancholy, the sort that fall inspires so often.

At first, the setting sun was lighting up all the leaves from underneath, so they were rich gold under and thick green on top, and this swath of gold shot almost horizontally through the grove of trees toward the low hills at the east. The sun set and everything was blue and green, and then mostly blue.

I was sitting there thinking about how stressful everything is right now, and how the stress has been unrelenting- pressing down and pressing down, and how it is wearing Keith and I down as if it were a grinding stone.

For some reason, maybe some sweet scent in the evening air, I remembered feeling exactly like that even when I was fifteen or sixteen, only at that time, my anxieties and stresses were based on completely different things.

This was a comforting thought. I remembered the critically important thing to remember at all times: life is difficult.

Life is difficult, but in my experience, it only approaches intolerable when one has gotten hold of the wrong idea that it wasn't supposed to be like that. Then one wonders what is wrong with oneself, that one's life is actually not like a bowl of cherries at all.

Sitting there, I had a sudden inclination to dig out my old journal from those early days, so when I went into the bedroom, I pulled the tattered, spiral-bound notebook out of its hiding place and crawled into bed to read it.

And what did I read upon first opening the page, but an enumeration of my internal suffering, which I had, for the first time ever, dared to scrawl upon a page. And there were pages of it. I dared even to be outrageously angry at God, in that first journal entry.

I was in awe of my boldness, my emotional authenticity. Apparently, so was I when I was writing the journal. In fact, I can remember writing it, and how I trembled, and how I didn't want to stop, because once I stopped, I would have to face God after having written all those horrible things about Him. I didn't even end the journal on a positive note. No, not at all.

However, a few days after that, I must have read, for the first time, The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Gouge. I copied several quotes about suffering, and thereafter, scattered all throughout the journal, I have written, somewhat enigmatically:


By which I meant, I will suffer. I will walk into the heart of this journey, this lesson, this sacrifice. As far as I can tell, that was the first time I learned that lesson, the lesson I would be relearning, in one way or another, all my life.

September 13, 2012 Telling Stories

I keep reading awesome blog posts where the authors are writing passionately about things- good things, great things, and I think, should I also be writing passionately about some things?

I got to feeling so guilty about it that I had ask Jesus about it- should I be... I don't even know. Louder.

Jesus keeps assuring me that everyone has their part to play, and they don't all look the same, but they all reflect a part of who He is. I am a quiet part, and that is okay for me.

I remembered a few other times when I struggled with this sort of self-doubt. I remembered last fall, first realizing the mind-bloggling array of ways in which people followed, served and loved Jesus- the complexities of their different doctrines, anecdotes, stories, metaphors, religious books.

It was overwhelming. When I offered this up to Jesus, He was quite firm. He said not to wonder about how other people were with Him- that was between Himself and them. As for me, I must keep my eyes on Him; He was enough for me.

It's kind of like that C.S Lewis quote- that we can only know our own story. We don't know the other person's story. We come to God as ourselves.

I remembered another time, when I was completely awed at another person's ability to describe God using logic. That was humbling. My bumbling, vague, emotional rendering of God seemed, in contrast, so not useful to anyone else, possibly even off-putting.

"I can't glorify You using logical arguments," I pointed out to Him, guiltily.

That's okay, Jesus said with His good natured humor. You're not a member of My debate team.

That is actually what Jesus said. It made me laugh out loud. I was walking in the park when this was happening.

"You mean, I haven't majored in Apologetics?" I asked Him, daring to extend the little inside joke.

Just so, He said, warmly. I walked on a little further, and then He asked tenderly, Who are you to Me?

I knew right away the answer Jesus wanted.

"I'm Your dove, Your dove in the clefts of the rock," I answered, though it made me shy to say it right out like that.

Just so, He said, and that was that.

I'm still not sure if Jesus was serious about actually having a debate team, or if He was just making a point. I suspect He was just making a point. He did have a tendency to make points using illustrations.

But I bet in a sense Jesus does; those are the people who are making excellent and well thought out and much needed points, who are clarifying the issues.

Sometimes I wonder what exactly the point of being me is. I seem superfluous in His plan. I don't seem to have a raison d'etre. I mean, what good are doves? They're large, soft and messy. They don't earn their keep.

But wait a moment. Sometimes doves carry messages- little messages, usually meant for only one person at a time. They are used by lovers and by people in the middle of a battlefield somewhere. They carry necessary information, encouragement, clarification- all of this goes on sort of under the radar.

The point is, doves carry messages from one person to another person. They are quiet missives. And, actually, I find myself doing a fair amount of that sort of thing. No one would ever know, because they aren't public messages, they are personal. They are tailored to whom I am speaking.

I am always flying out from the clefts of the Rock, because I am so frequently hiding out there. I always return there, because I am a dove and that's what I do. He feeds me, what can I say. I know a good thing when I find it.

According to Wikipedia, doves are capable of homing, but only over short distances. So long as it is a short distance, they will always know very well how to find their way back home, although they may get distracted by a predator.

Hm. That sounds familiar.

"I almost got lost on the way," I told Jesus one night, after a brief struggle with condemnation that had almost kept me from resting in Him.

I knew where you were, He said tenderly.

And doves are symbols of peace. That sounds familiar too. Another time I was walking along, minding my own business, listening to the song, "How Beautiful are the feet of those who Preach the Gospel of Peace," from Handel's Messiah.

It was a sunny day, I was enjoying the quiet presence of Jesus, who seemed to be beside me, and all around me, and within me, and within the music, and shining off the leaves and moving with the wind.

Then, into all this peace, He spoke. You are one of those who preach the Gospel of peace, and your feet are beautiful to Me, He said.

I was horrified. He could not have said a worse thing to me, for several reasons. One, I couldn't believe that He would mention my feet. But worse was this awful idea of my preaching anything at all. I was pretty sure that I had not been preaching and I had absolutely no intention of ever preaching anything.

So I brushed this whole message right away- I pushed it right away. I refused to consider it.

I walked on.

Then I began to get this sinking feeling.

I began to wonder if there could be any truth at all in what I had just heard. Of course, I thought of the story of Jesus washing His disciples feet. It was obvious that He did not have a problem with feet. In the Song of Songs, the Beloved actually points out how beautiful are the girl's feet in sandals.

The sinking feeling got worst.

I thought, "Oh my goodness, I was rude! I was rude to God! Oh dear."

Then I thought about my blogs, and how, over and over again, I had actually been talking about Jesus, and who He is and who we were in Him. I had been preaching peace, a peaceful rest in Him, quite unconsciously, simply by talking about the things I was learning or thinking about.

"I'm sorry," I told Him, in a very small voice. "And thank You for...  about my feet."

It was as though Jesus put His arm around my shoulder and drew me up close to Him, and we walked along together, like comrades in arm.

So, when I think about it, there are lots of reasons for me to simply be myself, even if I am a quiet one- Someone's dove, a quiet murmur of peace.

September 18, 2012

This month is flying by. It's disconcerting.

I love September, and it's already half gone and October will slide by just as quickly and then boom, it's Thanksgiving and then Christmas and then everyone is exhausted, hungover and never wanting to see another Christmas ornament again for the rest of their life.

Except for those neighbors that never take theirs down.

Anyway, September is half gone, and we haven't heard from our adoption homestudy agent. I sent her an e-mail this morning, wondering where we were in the process.

Surely we are towards the end. The year is sliding by and I'm starting to feel the pinch of it. We have to get this show on the road, who knows how long it will be before we're matched with a birthmother.

The nightmare scenario is that we'll be matched at the same time the Army moves us to another post. It's not a deal breaker exactly but it does mean we'll have to do the homestudy all over again in another state, and in a massive hurry.

I keep remembering our homestudy agent lifting her hand in the air and snapping her fingers. "You'll be matched like that," she said, with the easy confidence of twenty years’ experience. That seems too much to hope for, but it has happened like that.

Yesterday, Keith opened the door to the nursery, in order to store something in there. He paused in the doorway.

"Hey, this is a nice room," he said, surprised by the sight of it. I sometimes forget that it's there, too. It's part of surviving the process.

Mothers are getting younger and younger, have you noticed? They are beautiful in their young strength, those mothers. They are an entirely different generation from mine. They were in grade school when I was in high school; they were below the radar, running around in ponytails and now they are populating the world and looking stylish and beautiful at the same time.

As for me, I have been hollowed out and polished thin. Persistent longing has worn me down and softened all my edges, like water that runs and runs over stone, wearing it as smooth as silk.

God has some mysterious inspiration in mind for the shape of me. He keeps me always on the wheel, spinning me out, elongating me, pulling and smoothing the edges.

I wonder sometimes that I don't hate Him for this. Why wouldn't I? Isn't He my jailer, isn't He the rock wall behind which hides all the treasure I desire, treasure He is storing up and jealously guarding, unwilling to let even the one good thing fall from His fingers into my empty lap?

But I find that I can't. I trust Him too much.

Where did this trust come from? It doesn't make any sense. Maybe the pleasure of being in His hands is greater, in its own way, than the answered desire.

Anyway, how much do I suffer, really? Sooner or later, there will be a baby. I must simply be in the process and it will come about. God is weaving the brokenness of my life into the brokenness of someone else's; I am being woven into the larger picture.

And He does open His hands and treasures are constantly tumbling out. There is the blue of my husband's eyes as he looks at me shyly from under his ball cap, the warmth of his shoulders under the soft cotton shirt. There are all the colors hidden behind my cupboard doors; I open them and my eyes are filled with the glow of orange, green, red and yellows.

We went to a small town rodeo on Saturday night. We sat on the metal bleachers and watched the cowboys get tossed out onto the soft Georgia soil, their hats spinning away.

There was one horse, he was cream and white and wild and he kicked his rider off in a fury of offended dignity and then went surging and plunging by the fence, still kicking, still tossing his fierce head.

"Oh no, you won’t," I knew he cried. "How dare you dream! I'll toss you all off!"

That stallion was also my gift. As he went thundering by, my spirit rose up in fierce joy with him.

Everything in that moment got all tangled up in joy: the evening sky that was melting into night and the hazy wooded hills and restless crowd, the children huddled in rows near the fence like sparrows, wide eyed and chattering, all the lights high up on the poles shining down onto the tossed soil, the gleaming chaps of the cowboys, their faces shadowed under the broad brims of their hats.

Maybe that's why I trust Jesus. He's the only one that can take me in His hands and spin me into shape without breaking my spirit.

September 19, 2012 Unpublished

I'd been thinking about something last night. I'd been thinking about how people who were very close to God were so very often vividly themselves, sometimes to the point of eccentricity.

I see this in the Bible and in history and also around me. The world is full of zany, eccentric individuals who almost glow from the sheer goodness of God. They are simply themselves and they no longer fit in anywhere but in God. I think I'm becoming one of them.

So last night, I was talking about this with God.

"I'm not ready to display that sort of love, in my writing or in my life. It seems too scary, too risky, to be that much myself," I confessed to Jesus.

Then simply write about Love, He suggested, with His usual lovingkindness.

"Yes... of course, love,' I answered, thoughtfully. "But how? How does one actually capture or demonstrate Your love? How does one live it out?"

By simply being who you are, you demonstrate a living trust in My love, Jesus answered. Others will see it, and reach out in longing for a similar foundation for themselves. They will dare to be loved more deeply.

"Ah ha!" I said. "That makes sense, but I'm on to You! I happen to know that we've just come full circle, and You are pointing out that I should do the very thing I was reluctant to do at the first."

*

"How beautiful and delightful on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces peace,
Who brings good news of good [things],
Who announces salvation,
Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

-Isaiah 52:7