Friday, March 17, 2017

Love That Will Not Let Me Go

April 25, 2012

Well, it never rains but it pours here in the Indiana household.

Yesterday, I got a call from Keith telling me he was in the Emergency Room and that I had better come down because it was very likely that he would be going into surgery for gallstones.

So, wincing, I wiggled my foot into sneakers, tied the laces with one hand- not easy to do- and drove down to the on-post hospital.

I limped up to the front desk, where the receptionist looked a tad surprised that I declared myself a visitor and was not admitting myself.

Keith wasn't in his room when I got there. He was getting an ultrasound. When he came in, he was in a wheel chair, wearing a hospital gown and socks, all of which rung my heart. When the doctor returned, it turned out that Keith does not have gall stones, so again, no one knows exactly why he is feeling the pain, but at least he didn't have to go into surgery. The doctor thinks it might be another condition and gave Keith medication to treat the symptoms, but it's really just another shot in the dark.

We came home to a musty house because it hurts too much for me to open windows, take out the trash, vacuum, or wash dishes. The past couple of days, I've just sort of limped around the house looking at things I used to do, and wearily limped on by, because I know I cannot do them without an inordinate amount of pain.

However, last night I was able to wash some dishes, which was great. Is that not a strange thing to declare? Who knew that a person could actively desire to clean their house?

The open wounds are slowly healing up, but it's taking a while. I didn't just scrape the skin, I shaved entirely off along with layers of flesh, and not smoothly, and across a large portion of the palms of my hands. But it is healing, and I love me some Neosporin. That stuff is great. Our bathroom looks like a ransacked first aid station.

Tomorrow is Family Day. This means that I, here in the state of Georgia solely constituting the family of Keith, will have to show up to experience some Mandatory Military Family Fun. I will stoically endure the fun times and then the next day, we have our first meeting with our case worker at the adoption homestudy. We meet with her up in Atlanta.

Hopefully, by that time, I will be able to shake her hand. I met Keith's boss in the parking lot at the hospital and had to ask him to hold my hand gently, which, let's face it, sounds a little strange at first. Apparently, I'm famous, because even he had heard of my accident. I have become "that wife." Lucky Keith.

So, it has gotten rather busy and messy around here, which is good practice, I think, for when we become parents.

April 26, 2012 Unpublished

I can't wash my hair- or anything else but my fingers, for that matter- so Keith has to wash my hair.

He has maybe... a quarter of an inch of hair per Army regulations? Me, I have almost three feet of thick, uncut black hair. It's thirty three inches long, from root to tip. When it's wet, it's very heavy and pulls tight against my scalp, so I have to wash it in segments and it takes a loooong time for shampoo and/or conditioner to rinse fully out. If I leave it unwashed for even two days, when I do wash it, I must do it twice to get all the grease and dust out of it.

All this to say, he washed my hair yesterday after three days of no showers and this morning, my hair is still greasy. This would be fine, no problem, no cause for comment, except today is Family Fun Day.

I'm going to look like Alice the Goon, limping around with greasy hair and unshaved legs and smelling like Neosporin.

I wish I were healing faster. There's still no skin on the palm of my right hand. It's just open flesh. It's clean and healing at the edges a little, but it's just open.

So is the one on my foot. It's right on the spur of my foot, just below the big toe, and I'm beginning to wonder if the white part of that wound is actually the bone. I think it might be, because on my other foot, I can feel that there is really nothing but a layer of skin and maybe tendons over the knobby bone.

And then to make things worse, everything is itching. But there's nothing to itch. There's no scab to pick at. So I just limp around the house in my PJs, itching, sore, greasy and with the bone of my foot aching. What an awesome time to meet with all the other wives in the company!

*

Three times in the Gospel of Mark Jesus prophesies of His Passion. The first time Jesus tells the disciples that “The Human One”—as He calls Himself—will suffer grievously and be rejected and put to death, and after three days be raised up (Mark 8:30). Peter argues with Him, and Jesus rebukes him—this is the only time that Jesus calls someone a devil (Mark 8:33)–saying that man’s way is not God’s way. Jesus is insistent that the way to God is the way of the cross. It's not the prosperity Gospel of “The American Dream” with a little icing of Christ over the top.

In faith, there is no possibility of an uninterrupted success story.

-Richard Rohr, Adapted from The Four Gospels (CD, MP3)

Prayer:

Teach me the way to live and die.

April 28, 2012

When I flipped over my calendar and it read, "When doubts fill my mind, Your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer," I thought to myself, "Rats. I'm going to have to blog about this." (Psalm 94:19)

Whatever it was that made it possible for me to be vulnerable and open about my spiritual experiences in the last six months- call it naiveté, innocence or whatever- I don't have it anymore. I feel extremely self conscious.

In fact, I pretty much assumed that part of my blogging was behind me and that I would go on and blog about far more common subjects, like adoption and crazy capers by the pool, and eventually, far, far into the future, about motherhood.

And for the most part, I think that is what I will be blogging about. But I guess my experiences of God are part of how He's writing my life, and so it seems likely that I will blog about this from time to time.

For the last few days I have been irritable and cranky, mainly because of lingering pain/itchiness and the continued inability to do much for myself. I have been getting better, but slowly.

On top of this, I've been judging myself because of my bad attitude.

"Love is long-suffering, Jenny!" I tell myself, mercilessly. "Love is patient! Love is kind! Love does not snap at one's husband (who, by the way, is feeling much better and is eating healthier) or resent the dirty house or the necessity for Mandatory Military Family Fun! This whole situation is a great opportunity to demonstrate how far you've come, and you're failing the test."

Because of this, when I feel the presence of Jesus, I feel miserable and guilty. That happened last night. In the perfectly natural and yet inexplicable way that I know, I knew He was there, and that He loved me.

"Go away," I muttered, into the pillow. "I don't deserve You."

No one does, Jesus replied, with His tender love.

And, as usual, my understanding opened right up. I remembered, all over again, that no one has earned His love by their good behavior or their great attitude. It's simply not earned at all. It's a free gift, it's without end, and it's always offered. We either accept it, or we don't. But His love is constant.

"That's true!" I told Him in relief, and surrendered my weary self to His love- the line, "Oh Love that wilt not let me go, I rest my weary self in Thee," from the hynn by George Mattheson comes immediately to mind.

And this love is passed on to everyone else around you, Jesus continued in His quiet voice.

Right away, I thought of this verse:

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

This morning, I thought of this quote:

"We do not have to work out how to get ourselves into a good position for having a relationship with God, we do not have to design ways of explaining our position to him, we do not have to create a pretty face for ourselves, we do not have to achieve any state of feeling or understanding. The newness inherent in any situation of encounter with God is brought by him, not by us..."

"...one of the arts we have to learn is the sublime art of weakness."

-The Beatitudes: Soundings in Christian Traditions, Simon Tugwell

Then I read this morning's verse, which led to this blog about how His comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer when doubts had filled my mind.

April 30, 2012 Unpublished

This morning, I opened the French doors rather tentatively. That feeling of joy, wonder and anticipation that used to fill me each morning was elusive- a vague though appealing memory.

"I don't remember how I did this," I told Jesus.

I do, He assured me, right in my ear. I knew Jesus was behind me and that He had me in His arms. I’m feeling that a lot, feeling Him behind me, with His arms holding me so securely. I feel safe and centered and secure that way.

I felt that when I reread my verse from yesterday, which began, "Create in me a clean heart, O God..." That verse brought up a lot of spiritual baggage from my old church. It was very unpleasant. (I believed myself to be inherently unacceptable to God, and that pleasing God required a constant maintaining of great effort by keeping every rule as constantly as possible, in order to be acceptable to God, Who I believed to be hostile, demanding and distant.)

This morning, I forced myself to read it again, and I felt Jesus holding me tight in His arms. I was secure in Him, as though I were enclosed in Him. I know I am misunderstanding that verse, but it doesn't matter if I can't figure out exactly how right now, because Jesus is my everything- my life, my spirit, my righteousness.

The verse this morning was:

"How gracious and merciful is our Lord! All He does is just and good, and all His commandments are trustworthy. They are forever true."
-Psalm 111:4, 7-8

Last night, I was thinking over the many extraordinary ways that Jesus has communicated Himself to me, and it was amazing all over again.

I was tempted to feel arrogant about it- to feel better than others. As usual, this temptation caused me horror. I was repelled by the idea and horrified by the consequences if I made that part of my identity. I want no part of that way of thinking.

I handed this thought to Jesus as though it were a package.

"Here," I said, "this is for You."

I felt His presence, large and immediate and loving and right there. Jesus was bending down to me from above. He took the package from me and kissed my cheek.

I felt loved, free and relieved all at once.

I thought about how my life is His work, and how He is constantly developing me.

For eternity, Jesus assured me, and wonder filled my soul.

Forever. He will always be invested in my life, drawing out who I am. He will always be drawing me deeper into Himself. Jesus is infinite, so there will be no end of knowing Him.

May 1, 2012 Unpublished

I feel very blah today. In fact, I could not think of a good reason even to get out of bed.

"Today is going to be a bad day," I told Jesus, before I even pulled the covers back. "I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with today."

But I know, He said.

"Sure, You know. You always know. But You won't tell me, will You? I have to blunder through, wondering what on earth I'm doing that's of any value."

Suddenly, a realization dawned.

"You want me completely dependent on You, don't You?" I asked, resentfully.

Yes, yes, that is the point. Jesus didn't have to answer that in words; the truth was too perfectly obvious and echoing within me in His words- Abide in Me; apart from Me you can do nothing.

It turns out, after all this blogging about it and a multitude of inspiring quotes, I don't really like grace. Mercy annoys me. I don't know why Jesus loves me. I'm a poor student, for one thing- a slow learner.

That's who I am, some days- I am a person with a terrible attitude, having a ridiculous dialogue with God in the morning.

It's pride, is what it is, really. I want to feel like I earned something. It turns out, I don't want to learn the sublime art of weakness.

I want to be a normal person, with a normal distance from God. A lovely, formal distance. I want to meet with Him formally on Sundays, safely.

In the morning, I would have a respectful, civilized quiet time with Him as I study in some subdued, encouraging devotional.

During these quiet times, Jesus would never actually talk to me, because that would be weird, and He would have too much respect for the integrity of my normalness (yes, I just made that phrase up) to do that to me.

Instead, I would feel a lovely, warm peace in my heart, enhanced by the sunshine streaming from my kitchen windows.

In this life, I have children and they are at school and later I will run errands and I do charity work and my mother lives nearby and we're going to have my parents over for dinner on Mother's Day, with my best china.

My children have lovely rooms with their names in painted wooden blocks over their beds and in the evening, I help them with their homework and counsel them gently, when needed. I would teach them moral object lessons, about how to be good people.

Why can't I be that woman?

Instead, I'm thirty four years old, infertile, with greasy hair because I still can't take a shower due to the open wound on my foot.

I can't write anything worth publishing. All the things which used to inspire me no longer do so. I'm stuck in creative limbo.

I forgot to put Keith's uniform into the dryer last night and so he had to wear his second best this morning, and I have no idea what to make for dinner tonight.

I live in a rented house in a random state and in two years, I'll live in another one somewhere else completely random.

And God has no respect for the integrity of my normalness. He impresses Himself on me in such a way that I can't deny it or escape it.

This is what I read, when I got up this morning:

"I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night- but even in the darkness I cannot hide from You. To You, the night shines as bright as day." (Psalm 139:11-12)

Jesus is relentless.

I was riding in the truck on the way to Family Fun times and talking with Him. I felt His love all around me, His invitation that I rest in His love.

"I'm failing this test," I told Jesus, instead. "I'm being a miserable person."

I felt even more the strong draw of His yearning love like open arms, I saw His arms open, inviting me to sink down into His embrace.

I refused. “I am failing this test. You’ve been with me all these months and I have not improved at all. I will never learn if I’m not punished. If You won’t punish me, I will punish myself.” And so, in order to punish myself, I denied myself His love; I stubbornly kept away from Jesus.

You are misunderstanding the entire experience- this whole time I have been with you, the whole purpose and meaning of it, Jesus said, and I saw a telescope, only I was looking through the wrong end, which made things appear needlessly and almost comically small and far away, and Jesus switched it, so they could be seen close up. At the same time, Jesus flipped my understanding.

The test wasn't for you to succeed, Jesus told me. It was for you to learn an undisguised surrender, to trust Me completely with your weaknesses. Now give over your cranky, self-centered, prideful self to Me and let Me love you, you impossible girl.

(Jesus gave me a visual understanding at the same time as His message. This visual was of a branch that has been cut off of its original tree, and I saw the wound at the end of the branch, where the sap is still flowing. In order to graft it to a new tree, that wound must be deep and wide, and the tree to which it is going to be joined must have an even larger, deeper cut made into it. The two cuts must be bound together and left to heal, and the healing makes one tree. If there aren't those cuts, the graft won't take, and the branch will die. But if the cut is down into the life, the branch will become a part of the new tree. Jesus was saying that if I tried to perfect myself, either by self-punishment or by reward, I would have no way of connecting to His life. I would not be acknowledging any need for Him. But if I could be honest with Him about the gaping wounds, instead of hiding them from Him, I could let those wounds be the places where I am joined to Jesus, because I had surrendered myself to Him and remained in Him. The healing of those wounds would be the receiving of and abiding in His life.)

You know what made it even more astonishing and impossible to escape? There was a song on the radio station, and Jesus was filling those words with His own meaning, so that I was hearing Jesus saying, repeatedly, I see My love offends you, please forgive Me! But I will never and can never stop loving you. You must believe Me and accept the truth of what I'm saying, because every word I say is true.

*

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.


O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.


O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.


-George Matheson





Friday, March 10, 2017

March 10th

November 14, 2016

"I need to be trained," I said in frustration, realizing that I was picking up on spiritual atmospheres that I should have prayed for directly.

I'm training you, Jesus replied, reminding me that I had been asserting the truth all through the situation, which I had been doing by habit.

Take the lowest place, Jesus had said to me, driving there this morning, and I ended up in the nursery, having forgotten what He said, and wondering if something was going wrong because nothing was going as I had expected, but continuing by faith to rest in His good will being arranged. Then Jesus reminded me, and I was filled with laughter. Afterward, I was able to pray, and it worked out perfectly, in the preschool room in the basement, on small chairs.

Be hungry for Me, Jesus said, when I was asking Him to glorify His name by manifesting His goodness here and now, in the world.

November 15, 2016

I put you there, Jesus declared, meaning that church.

"Then we will be there, no matter what through," I accepting, knowing that there would be a great deal to be gotten through, but settling my faith that if it was His will, then Jesus would bring us through each challenge.

Jenny, I can do it, Jesus affirmed, meaning get the victory in all of them.

In the night, I remembered again my desire to pray passionately in the Holy Spirit, to cause the entire atmosphere to go up in flames of the Holy Spirit, and thought perhaps now this could happen during the church prayer meetings when the Lord places us there.

Swiftly though, I remembered that I had just a few days ago been to a gathering of my brothers and sisters, hoping for the same thing, and instead the Lord had told me to take the lowest seat and that I had in fact ended up in the basement sitting on a small preschool chair that was only a foot off the ground, praying with one other dear sister in Christ.

Remembering this, I realized that it must be the Lord’s will first and that I must lay even the desire to pray onto the alter to let it die if He wishes it to die, so that only His will comes forth no matter what that looks like, so I reached into my heart and I pulled out my desire to pray, and it was like bringing forth the inner heart from my heart. I put this desire on the alter and lifted my hands away from it and stood back from it- because it was very difficult to let it go completely- and I said to the Lord, “Your will be done. Your will alone be done.”

The greatest gift, He said, His voice steady and strong.

November 17, 2016

Travailed again in prayer tonight. Anyone walking in during this would be shocked by the intensity, but it doesn't matter, no one saw me and I can't care what it looks like, because the words of the Lord are pouring through my spirit in this all-consuming surge and I must let the words pour out regardless. I must give expression to the understanding that the Holy Spirit is lighting up in me, one thing after another, each thing going up in flames- the understanding of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, the power and meaning of it, His unrelenting love, His authority, His return and how we are not ready to meet our holy, fiercely loving Lord and His Christ, our King, and His intent for mankind, that we should be images of Him, unique, living expressions of Himself, His living sons and daughters, set in a perfect creation, everything in harmony, in light, pouring forth glory to Him in song, in breath, in flesh and blood, in nature, in earth as it is in Heaven- as this pours through me, and my poor body ends up sometimes on the floor, sometimes kneeling, sobbing, gasping, rising back up in joy to be caused to remember something and then back on my face to plead.

"Lord," I breathed, crumpling up in a small heap at His feet, when after this I went inward to be with Him.

You know Me, Jesus insisted.

Written later:

“Day after day, step after step, making my way toward You,” I declared, in relief, trust and determination, seeing nothing but the long expanse of time before me before I could be with Him.

Precious Jenny.

November 20, 2016

Today I’m heading back to the church for prayer and Sunday service, and the screen saver keeps showing me a bird leaping from a piece of rock shaped like two hands lifted. I had a nightmare and then a dream about redemption.

Go with a joyful heart, Jesus had told me.

That was very hard going, to do that. I ended up at the foot of the bed, praying and taking huge, heaving breaths and giving myself, body, soul and spirit, into the hands of Jesus, because I knew I would be showing up, physically present and seen.

On the way there, I had to take my soul in both hands and thrust it up into joy, commanding myself to be joyful. I’m not sure that I actually became joyful, emotionally speaking, but my faith became pliable and determined.

The fear goes away once I arrive at the place I was traveling toward, and that is what happened at the church. The fear goes away and I am someone new, I am the person I became when I passed through the fear, the person that I could not become any other way, by any other gate.

I shook the hand of the pastor and told him I was there to pray with them, if that was okay. He told me I could go on in, so I went. I thought it would be corporate prayer, but it was private prayer. I gave myself over to the Holy Spirit and prayed however He was moving through me- the words and the Scripture.

I knew I was not hidden as I am in my quiet room, but I kept my eyes on Jesus, and kept in surrender to Him, because He was telling me that His glory and His goodness are seen on us, and so I must be seen in order for His life to be seen through me. My life is a witness to His Life, so I was willing to be seen for His sake. I was heavily under the fear of the Lord Jesus, because I knew without one shadow of doubt that I would see Him face to face to account for myself, and that I was in His presence then, and that I was in the presence of His living Body on earth, His anointed, His church.

Then the pastor had us open the Bible to Psalm 100: and it is this:

“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness and delight;
Come before His presence with joyful singing.”

And he said that he wanted us to shout for joy to the Lord, and then again, he said that he wanted all of us, right then, in our own words, to thank the Lord for something that the Lord had done for us that year.

There was so much to be thankful for! Everything rolled past my mind- Keith leaving the army, getting retirement pay, houses sold, the move done, the new house built. But the one thing that stood out in my mind, vividly, was that one moment when I was that close to throwing everything away, and the Lord brought me through. I was thanking Him for that when my heart lit on fire with the understanding that I needed not to merely thank Him under my breath, but I could thank Him out loud, to praise Him in a spoken voice.

“Should I? Is this what You want?” I asked Jesus, in absolute need to know His will.

Yes, Yes, He replied, strongly.

I tried to open my mouth but it was as though it were stuck and I said to Him, “I can’t get my mouth to work! How can I do this?”

Jesus’ intense desire that I should speak swept through me and I physically leaned forward, listening, listening, trying to find a way to begin speaking. There was no question. I must obey, because He is my Lord and because of my reverence of Him and recognition of Him and His will. I had to obey because my fear of Him was greater than any other fear. The words suddenly were tumbling out of my mouth into the quiet atmosphere. I almost didn’t recognize my voice.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,” I cried out, and then the rest poured out. “When You say that we must pick up our cross and follow You, we never carry it alone,” I declared, lit up with this understanding, when I reached that point, tears filling my voice. “We never carry it alone! You come along side us and You put Your arm around us and You say, “Let Me carry the weight.”’

“You brought me through, and You will bring me all the way through and all the glory goes to You, Lord Jesus! I will praise You for this in Your courts,” I cried out, seeing the courts and eternity as though it were only yards away through an open door on the wall before me, heaven gathered in unseen rows and ranks around the throne, high and lifted up, Jesus Himself unseen but His presence familiar to me even then, even in that situation, “and I praise You for this now,” I declared, pointing with authority to the floor, to the here and now, drawing a straight line between them.

The service was on Isaiah 54, and my mouth dropped. The visiting pastor said he had a word for us from God and that it was to lengthen the cords from side to side, because the Lord was going to enlarge us, and not for our earning it, but because of His loving kindness, which is better than life. Sing, o barren! was the verse. He said he rarely has such a good word, it’s often a rebuke, but this was a good word and he had never before given such a word.

He was talking about finding pain points in the community and connecting them to the love and healing of Jesus. He said that we would need to buy new wineskins- new ministry set ups and things, to contain the new wine.

Jesus has told me that I may, in fact I must, write to the pastor and share with him my blog. Come out, Jesus said. I must begin to come out now and be seen according to His will and for His glory.

Afterward, I faced some of the most dismal, humiliating warfare ever, which seemed to crush my spirit and I labored through it for some time, but Jesus’ words got me through and I remembered not to eat the bitter fruit. If I make poor choices, I eat the bitter fruit and it is not worth it. Anything is better than the bitter fruit.

You will see Me and you will not be ashamed, Jesus told me later that afternoon, when I was resting and reached out for Him.

November 21, 2016

Still going through a major adjustment after the service. My fear of God has increased and so has my adoration of Him. It’s peculiar. It’s as though I realize that I am real. I am a real person. I showed up, and gave my testimony and that testimony is about my Lord Jesus Christ. He is really with me. This is not a hobby. This is not on the sidelines of my life. I am caught up in the heart of God Himself and He is writing a story in my life with His own hand. I belong to Him, lock, stock and barrel. I am flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone here in the world, where it is possible for me to give Him glory, to make manifest His goodness. I may do that for Him, because of Him, because Jesus is shining through my life. I must be obedient to Him in all things and repent immediately when I fall, and trust in His grace continuously. Continuously.

I knelt down in the sunlight, in submission to Him.

My own, Jesus said quietly.

“It’s so hard to believe,” I confessed, because even then, it was possible to doubt.

Do you think it was easy for Mary?

What an extraordinary leap of faith she took, to say yes, to agree! Completely surrendered to the impossible, to the divine will, to the suffering that followed, her whole life and her whole self altered by what was asked of her- to physically bear the Son of God.

But afterward, she knew a secret no one else would have known in the same way. Mary knew she was a virgin. Everyone else would need faith to believe this, but Mary knew that Jesus was the Son of God. It would not have been easy, but no matter what buffeted, what she suffered, what she faced, she had that deeply personal knowledge revealed to her by God.

People saw Jesus Christ in the flesh and still did not believe in Him. They watched His greatest miracles happen right in front of them, right before their eyes, and they did not put their faith and trust in Him. It is possible to see God in flesh and blood right in front of you, to look right into the visible face of God seen under the strong middle eastern sun as He speaks to you in your own language, a young Rabbi from the rural north, to see Him radiating the healing power of the Holy Spirit amid the joyous cries of the healed rising up to heaven and the cries of their family, the trilling of joy, the lame skipping across the ground on restored limbs, and still in that moment to be skeptical and to demand for a sign.

November 27, 2016

I have lately been drenched in His love. I don’t even want to check my phone, all I want is to drop everything and fall back into Jesus. Anytime I can turn my attention entirely toward Him and not worry about what my physical body needs to be doing, I am immediately with Him.

Jesus has a strong ability to draw, and when I feel that drawing power running like a river, I turn and surrender to the current.

“The door is always open and it leads always to You,” I told Jesus, in awe, looking up at His face, intent, still.

“You’re very serious,” I said to Him, wondering about it.

I love you so much, was His explanation. But love makes Him laugh, too.

His face! It’s not His radiant face that I love the most, though His beauty is like a golden lamp that way. I love His rugged face, the windswept face of Galilea, with the sharp planes and hollows of His cheekbones and the roughness of His beard, His clear eyes with the long, thick eye lashes and the strong brows above, His expression intent, focused and yet gentle; seeing everything, demanding nothing. He deserves everything, He is wholly worthy of everything, and yet Jesus waits in love.

When I am caught up in His love that way, it is not possible to pray to Jesus for anything, because the knowledge of His perfection and His sovereignty is overwhelming. It is possible only to thank Him and to worship Him for His perfect will and His perfect work.

Another time, however, I was with Jesus but not caught up so high, and I was praying, only it was more of a conversation where I was bringing up things on my heart and asked Him to do His will and to line me up with His will.

I kept asking Jesus, “Is it okay if I bring this up now? Can I ask You about this right now?” and His answer was always, Yes, Jenny. Go ahead. But it’s a little unusual to be in His arms and bring up this or that subject.

Every time after church, I get hit with this massive bulldozer of horribleness, each time it seems worse than before. But if I am willing to suffer through it and to hold to His words at all times, I reach the other side, exhausted but still on track.

Written later:

Knelt at the side of the bed, remembered that He is perfect in all of His ways, and declared that. "You were rejected, a Man of sorrows and aquatinted with grief, but You never doubted the Fathers good plan or His good heart. Help me never to doubt Him either, no matter what I face."

Beautiful Jenny.

December 5, 2016

My faith has been burning brightly these days, and I have been caught up in streams of love from Jesus, who is making Himself quite manifest to me. I see Him many times in the crowd and the disciples are shouting out Hosanna! and the Pharisees are complaining and Jesus looks at them through the tumult and He shouts out to them His reply, joyfully, holding His hand out to the surrounding countryside, where the rocks may remain mute that day.

Everything is a joyful melody, a moving chorus of voices and feet and sunlight, and there in the center is Jesus, and within Him, His burning heart, filled with emotion, holy and personal. He is seeing far beyond.

My alarm rang at five in the morning, and when I finally went to get up, I saw Jesus at the side of the bed, full of love, holding His hands down to me to help pull me up. My love and gratitude spilled over at this generous gesture of love, that on a Monday morning, He should show Himself to me in such a way, at such an ordinary moment of life.

I see Jesus in the house in Capernaum many times, teaching, but I see this only in glimpses. Almost as soon as I see this, I fall asleep. Most of the time, I see Jesus in the inner rooms, but I never see the rooms at all, because my focus is on Jesus and the fact that I am with Him. My entire awareness is taken up with this. Sometimes, though, I am aware of the texture of the couch under my hand and of the light and landscape that surround us, and the calm inner spaces behind us, those two rooms and the woods beyond.

At church yesterday, I was filled with the Holy Spirit so much during prayer at one point that I was worried I was going to keel over and my head was burning hot. I have no idea why, and I don’t even remember what I was praying about at that moment. I see Jesus many times as I pray, bending down toward me with His smiling face of love. I saw angels locking arms around the exterior of the room, for protection, to keep the atmosphere holy and safe to be vulnerable with the Lord. I saw a silver net coming up under the sanctuary, encompassing the room and so I prayed, “Lord, tighten the net and bring it up, bring it up.”

Then at the alter call, five people came up to take Jesus as their Lord and Savior. He took my face in His hands as I cried, hearing this. They also called up anyone to reconnect with their calling from God and I kept asking Jesus, “Am I holding back on my calling in any way?” Twice, His peaceful, sure answer was, you are here.

I have arrived, according to Jesus.

In the afternoon:

An outpouring, Jesus said. It pleases Me, it pleases Me so much.

Which is what He said of these prayers for the church and the lost in this area, that keep rising in my heart, and I keep praying them. All morning I have been.

“I want life to come flooding in! I want life to come flooding in! I don't know why I long for this with such persistent intensity... You must have put Your heart in me...” I saw this, a transfer like osmosis because of being so close to His heart so often, the feelings and longings of His heart have soaked into mine and are alive there.

Yes, Jenny, Jesus confirmed.

That night:

You are so ready for My disapproval, Jesus whispered.

"I know," I confessed, my voice small.  When I first present myself to Him, I'm always on the verge of flinching away in shame at what I assume will be correction.

"A humble and contrite spirit, oh Lord, You will not despise," I reminded Jesus in a whisper.

But you must have confidence in Me- My goodness, My faithfulness, My love.

December 11, 2016

Like a tree planted by the waters, I was told, when remembering that all my strength comes from Jesus.

Saw in the inner room the bright light of the sun breaking forth through clouds, saw this as though through the walls, several times. Saw beautiful, ornate patterns of clouds imprinted over floor and walls in light, saw deep, deep water, saw my face reflected, saw below to clear depths. Felt the green leaf of a grape vine, went down to the dock.

December 12, 2016

Sat quietly in the chair and meditated on Jesus and was drawn right into His arms, where I confessed all myself and eased out into rest, and drank deeply of Him and was reassured as to His good, good will, because He is the Potter and I am the clay. I breathed the warmth of His sweet breath and rested in Him like in deep water.

This is what I must be doing in the mornings- I must write down my notes, and then rest quietly in the chair, doing nothing but being with Him. This is better than at night or early morning, when I fall asleep easily and my focus is unsteady. Also, I can keep my phone in my hand, which is convenient.

Trust My timing, is what Jesus said.

From my phone:

That's what I'm always afraid of- to show up as wrong in the physical world.

Do you trust Me?

Let go of everything- every concern, every hope. "Yes, I trust You."

"Testing!" I told Jesus, realizing that's what this is. Just as I had to test to learn His will for which church to join, I have to test to find His will in what way I will serve that church.

Yes, Jenny.

The time was 1:23 pm when I picked up the phone to record those words.




















Friday, March 3, 2017

Each Day He Carries Us

April 12, 2012 Unpublished

I haven't blogged about this, but I have been feeling Jesus close and comforting these last few days. I am aware of how closely and lovingly I am bound up in Him and with Him. I feel this at night and I feel this in the morning and I feel it when I walk and when I write and when I call out to Him.

Yesterday, I walked and I felt myself to be strange, such a strange mix of naiveté and wounds, innocence and insight. I seemed strange to me, oddly broken, an odd mix of childlike nature and wisdom.

I don't know why this struck me as bad, but at the time, it did. It was like I felt unnatural. Anyway, I was feeling this, and I reached out to Jesus, and He was there. He was there, and He drew me into His embrace of comfort and love and Jesus said, strongly, I created you. He said it with clarity and authority.

It was particularly clear to me that I was not audibly hearing His voice, because I was hearing, instead, Oh Thou who preaches good tidings to Jerusalem, get thee up into the high places," and "Behold, your God."

April 13, 2012

Last night, Keith and I processed a lot of our emotions around the adoption. There are a lot of emotions that come up!

It was difficult to work through them. We had to process again our grief at not getting pregnant, and question again our decision not to further pursue infertility treatments.

We wondered- should we have continued? Will we regret it that we didn't try clomid again, and then again, and maybe artificial insemination? Should we put the adoption aside and try some infertility treatments? Did we give up on having biological children too soon?

These are excruciating questions. However, the result of our conversation was a recognition that this is the right way forward.

"This is something I don't think anyone can ever be completely ready for," my husband reminded me. So true.

But however one is becoming a parent, one is never completely ready. We just have to take a deep breath and jump in and trust.

We both have an authentic desire to adopt, which is apart from the complex questions about infertility treatments. That is, even if we had conceived, we still would have wanted to adopt.

Then, this was my verse this morning:

"Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families; He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy... Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms."
-Psalm 68:5-6, 19 NLT

Is that not astonishing?

Hopefully, today the home study office will call and let us know if we were accepted into their program.

April 15, 2012 Unpublished

We didn't hear from the agency yesterday, so maybe we'll hear on Monday.

I read this verse recently and it struck me:

“Not to us, O Lord, but to You goes all the glory for Your unfailing love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1 NLT)

The glory would indeed go to us, if we could earn or keep that love and faithfulness by our beliefs and actions. But I don’t think that’s how it works.

The way I understand God now, He won’t share His glory with another. There is no other Savior, there is no other Rock. He alone saves, and He laid down His life for all.

He brings life- He began and He will finish, and everyone’s mouths will be stopped, because what can you say to the unstoppable force of Love, your Creator, Redeemer, Lover- your God? What can you say to the One who brought you into being because He desired you?

Not much, that’s what. I usually end up throwing myself down at His feet in worship and adoration.

April 15, 2012 Unpublished

I never say everything I want to say when I blog.

When I recognize God, it is not a new recognition. I understand and know Jesus as the wellspring of myself, the Source of who I am. I know Jesus because I can't know myself apart from Him. Apart from Him, I don't exist.

Frequently, I worship God simply because I exist- simply because I get to be one part of this vast, gorgeous tapestry of life. Furthermore, the deeper I go with God, the more clearly I see the uniqueness and mystery and reality of everyone else. It astonishes me- the reality of other people.

I never experience this so deeply as I do when walking. I see God all around me. I feel as though I am walking in the center of life, that life spreads out from around me, not because of who I am, but because of Who is with me.

Everything that I see glorifies God, is God-breathed, and shimmers with His life and His creativity and His love. I know myself to be caught up in God, breathed through by God, delighted in by God- because He created me. I'm one expression of Himself, of what pleases Him.

And so is everything all around me. Everything all around me is lifting up their voice in praise and love to their Creator.

April 17, 2012

Still haven't heard from the adoption agency.

This is not a good sign. It means either that the adoption agency vastly underestimates the time they take to process any paperwork, or that we are not a viable candidate for adoption, and they can tell that simply from our application.

Maybe my application got lost in the mail. Maybe it needed two stamps, and I'll find it today in our mailbox, unopened and sternly marked by the local post office.

Okay, I just called them and everything is fine. We are in the program and setting up a time for our first meeting.

She recommended beginning the process with the placement agency at the same time- that is, right now.

I was considering simply doing one thing at a time; finalizing the homestudy, and then beginning with the placement agency, but I guess we'd better do both. Oh boy.

Last night I was reading in Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. I always want to see God, and so I am often rifling through the Scriptures, looking for little glimpses and I got caught up in that particular section.

I ended up frightened and confused. I couldn't tell what it was talking about, half the time. In desperation, I flipped to the first chapter of John, and immediately the poetry of those lines were like waves on a beach, waves of deep, inexplicable peace:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

And then, I got to the part where John the Baptist stands there, in the crowd and he sees Jesus, and he cries out:

"Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"

Because of my previous reading, I heard that cry in a way I had not before, and worship and adoration just washed through me, beyond words.

After all I had read in the Old Testament, it was as though I saw Jesus, and knew Him all over again, only deeper, and with a profound sense of recognition and wonder and adoration.

So come to think of it, I guess I did get a glimpse of Him after all.

*

(This blog is the last one in my original journal collection. I stopped here, thinking that the main work of God in my life had concluded. I continued to write blogs, many of which remained unposted, but I did not begin writing in a journal again until December of that year. Between this post and that time, there were almost nine months where my spirit was resting and trying to absorb everything that had happened, and where I learned a great deal of difficult wilderness lessons. It was these blog posts in particular that made it difficult for me to obey Jesus when He told me to go back and publish the whole story of His work in my life. I did not want to be so humbled. The sharp contrasts between my backstory and my current testimony will only increase, but I will continue to share them as He directs.)

April 21, 2012

I had an accident yesterday, while running around the pool like a maniac trying to tackle my fun loving husband who had just pushed me in the water.

It turns out that those signs that sternly warn of running at a pool know of what they speak.

Oh, but it was glorious fun a short while. I was running like the wind, I was running as if I were ten years old again. I leaped nimbly in and out of the garden bed and swiftly rounded corners, ever gaining on my goal.

And then, out of nowhere, a blur of black Labrador- Abby, coming to Keith's rescue, or simply caught up in the excitement of it all.

She brushed by me mid-stride. I wobbled, I thought with relief, "Hey! I caught my balance. I'm not going to fall after all!"

And then the concrete was in my face and I was sliding along on my stomach at a frightening clip, arms outstretched.

Everyone was horrified. I was embarrassed, thinking, "Why can't I ever act my age?"

But I wasn't really shaken until I saw Keith's ashen face.

"I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry, Sweetie," he murmured. He attempted, gingery, to put his arms around my wet, bleeding and dazed self.

Eventually, I looked down and noticed that my hands were filling up with blood. I limped into the kitchen and tried to wash the blood off.

Layers of my skin had been peeled off and bunched up near the bottom of my hands. My left knee was swelling up and the skin had been scraped off the side of my left foot.

Keith took over emergency operations, both his training and his character came out in full force. There was no stopping him. He poured peroxide on everything, liberally applied band aids and then, for good measure, wrapped endless layers of ace bandages over my hands and loose socks over my feet.

This was difficult for me to let him do. Usually, I become like a wounded bear when injured. But yesterday, I was oddly docile and let him go to town. Partly because the poor guy felt so guilty, though it wasn't his fault.

I took off the bandages this morning; some of it had stuck to bits of the open wound that hadn't been covered by the extra-large band aid. Getting that off was not fun.

Last night, I was thinking about Mary Magdalene running to the disciples and declaring passionately that she had seen Jesus, that He was alive.

I thought about how that might have gone over, how John might have come up and put his arm around her shoulders, because:

"But these reports seemed to the men an idle tale ([c]madness, [d]feigned things, [e]nonsense), and they did not believe the women." (Luke 24:11, Amplified)

"Mary, Mary," John might have said. "Poor girl. I know it's so hard, we all loved Him. We all want Him to be alive. But you have to be reasonable. He's gone."

And Peter might have added, "Are you sure you weren't just imagining things? It was probably someone who just looked like Him. I thought I saw Him yesterday, in the crowd near the Temple."

It would have been easy to discount Mary's story. After all, she was a woman, she was clearly emotional, and everyone knew her history.

Then, when the two disciples who had met Jesus on the road shared their story, they would have met the same reasoning- because it is so reasonable to think that way. In fact, some of the Twelve might have even gotten angry at that point.

"He died!" maybe Thomas declared with angry grief. "He's gone! Wishing that He's here won't make it less real! You didn't even recognize Him half the time you were with Him. Your story makes no sense. Clearly, you just want Him to be still alive, so your mind is making things up. But it's over. It's finished. They even took His body away from us.

"Now we have to start over!" maybe Thomas would have continued. "We have to carry on His legacy as best we can, but no one will listen to us if we go around talking like crazy people. We have to come to terms with what is real."

I was thinking about these things, and I remembered what Jesus said to them, when He finally appeared to them:

"Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:27-29)

Or, to put it another way:

"Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

"But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength." (I Corinthians 1:21-25, NLT)

April 22, 2012 Unpublished

I woke up this morning and automatically braced to "meet with God" to get myself in order, as it were.

Then I remembered that was simply not necessary and the tension melted away and as it did, I felt Jesus presence, loving and close.

"Hello," I said to Him, with delight.

April 24, 2012

You know you're a writer when you're leaving blood smears on the keyboard, but go on typing anyway. I just cannot process my life the way I need to if I can't process it with the written word. Today I'm not bleeding on the keyboard because I'm sporting the very latest in band aid technology.

I woke up today feeling melancholy. Probably because I still can't take a shower or go for a walk, or wash dishes or lift heavy things.

Last night, Keith said, "Honey, I didn't realize just how much you do. You keep me going- you are the fly wheel to the big wheel."

That's what sweet talk sounds like from a Tank Commander from Indiana. It just so happens that the fly wheel on his ATV is currently broken. Without that little gear, the rest of the engine doesn't start.

After more then six months of blogging about my personal experience of God, my perspective on it has changed. I'm still processing this change.

At the beginning, the wonder of it just swept me off my feet. I wanted to hold on to the experience itself- every day, every moment.

However, over time, I began to understand, in a way which is beyond words, that God is deeper, more vibrant, more real, more present than I could ever possibly know or understand through even those personal experiences of Him.

In Him, we live and move and have our being. This truth transcends any momentary experience of His presence or His love; it's the unchanging context for how we experience Him in the moment.

Yesterday, as I was walking through the kitchen, I saw a pattern of morning light against the wall, and through the window, the wash of light and green leaves outside.

This sight filled me with joy, and in the next breath, my joy deepened, or expanded into the understanding that Jesus was there, that in His light do we see light, and that He is the source of all joy. His life is the light of men, and that light shines out, always.

There are no words for the tenderness of His love for us. It surrounds us and upholds us all the time.

There is so much mystery and beauty in life, and Jesus Himself- the Living Word of God, our Creator and our Beloved, is at the heart of it.

"I will honor You as long as I live,
Lifting up my hands to You in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest of foods.
I will praise You with songs of joy."
-Psalm 63:4-5, NLT