Creator God

Creator of little things

Of buds, and bugs and birds that sing.

To thee be praise.

Creator of hidden things

Of atoms, molecules, and tings.

I bring thee praise.

Creator of unseen things

Of spirit, soul, and angel wings

I stand in awe.

Creator of awesome things

Of mountain, lightening, fairy ring.

I love thee more.

Creator of everything,

Of all I have, to thee I bring.

Creator of me.

Advertisements

Waves of Grace

I spent a day by the seashore.

Is it cliché to say I spent the day thinking about the grace of God?

I sat on the shore and watched as waves rolled in.

Another.

And Another.

And Another.

And they never ever stopped.I looker out, as far as I could see an there was more water than I could imagine. Everywhere I looked there was more water.And I watched the people. Some went in timidly, others raced into the water as though they could hardly wait. Some stayed on the edge only getting their feet wet. Others dived completely underwater.

There was no shortage of water. It was each person’s choice how far they wished to go in.

So much like grace.

I went in. Loving the feeling of the ocean waves pounding against my body. Big waves and small ones. Some were painful, others gentle and soothing.

I watched the sand on the edge as it washed away revealing beautiful seashells underneath. They would be exposed for a second and then, unless you hurried to pick it up, it was gone. Hidden once more beneath crashing water.

The tide came in. Farther and farther. It snuck up on some people. Some let it come, others fled from it’s advances.

So much like grace.

The bites on my legs stung a bit from the saltwater. Cleansing and healing. Painful a bit, but good

.The sand swirled around me on the edges. But when I walked in deeper, it was calmer, less muddled. More pure.

So much like grace.

I wonder at the lessons the sea has to teach us.

So much like grace, so much like God.

Beautiful.

Awesome.

Eternal.

Never-ending.

So much like my God.

Of Travel and Opportunities

I’m headed for Guatemala, folks. I’m sort of surprised that I’m actually going but here I am, in the airport, waiting for the next 2 hours because of a flight change. And I’m going to learn Spanish. At least as much Spanish as a person with average intelligence and self-discipline can learn in four weeks.It just sort of happened, in one of those cool – this is what life has for me – sort of ways and I am thankful. It will be good for me to be a student again and to simply step outside of my normal life for awhile.I’ve been learning something lately, and I think it might be a big something.All of the really good and adventurous things in my life have happened because there was an opportunity and instead of being afraid I said yes.Take the opportunity in front of you. No you don’t know what will happen but you don’t know what will happen if you don’t take it either.Experiences are worth much more than their immediate cost. They change you and shape you and slowly, before you know how it happened, you are a different person.But maybe you’re happy about the person you are. Maybe your life is the best it can be.But for me, it is worth it. I like the person I’m becoming more than I liked the person I left behind.So I’m going to Guatemala. I’m taking this opportunity and we’ll see what happens.I think when God gives us an opportunity, He’s disappointed when we ignore it and keep going down the same old path. God is a God of adventure.I’m along for the ride.

This Child

If you came with me to children’s ministry and met Tyrone, you’d probably wonder why we even let him come.

Sometimes we wonder why we let him come.

Sometimes all we see when we look at him is the scowl on his face, the anger in his eyes, the cuss words coming from his mouth. The tobacco in his pocket that he’s chewed since he was 3 years old.

Sometimes we forget that he’s only 12 years old. That he’s still a little boy, really.

Sometimes.

But sometimes we remember.

We remember the child who stood outside the fence because he was too afraid to come in.

We remember the child who bolted out the door because it was simply too much.

We remember the young man who paced up and down the road in an effort to get his anger under control.

And we remember other things. The way his mother curses him when he comes home. The fact that his dad has been in jail “a whole lot of times”. We remember that he’s two years behind in school thanks to his parents irresponsibility.

But the saddest story, to me, is why he doesn’t go to church.

“Do you go to church on Sundays?” Sharon asked.

“You know,” he answered. “I used to but I just don’t anymore. You see, my mom’s boyfriend is so annoying and when I’d come home he’d be like ‘oh so you’re going to be a good boy now, going to church, how nice. Be a good boy’ and he’d just make fun of me and it made me so mad and I’d just cuss him out and you know, I just couldn’t handle that. It just ain’t right, I can’t cuss straight outa church so I just quit going.”

“Why don’t y’all have kids church every night? he asked.

And I remember the sad, afraid little boy beneath the angry young man and I want to cry.

What will happen to Tyrone?

Where will he be in 20 years from now?

I don’t know.

I can only hope and pray that God will reach down and touch his life.

I pray that his anger could be channeled into an anger against sin.

That his energy could be channeled into building the kingdom of God.

That his leadership skills could be channeled into leading the church.

This child is a child of potential

For good. Or for evil.

Pray that he would choose the good.

Pray that God could be the father he so much wants in his life.

The Strong One

He is strong.

I forget that sometimes. I try to be the the strong one. I try to hold everything together. I think somehow I’ll make it through.

I can be strong.

And sometimes we need to be strong. We need to be the warriors. We need to be the one that others can lean on. We need to be brave.

Even when we are afraid.

Especially when we are afraid.

That is when we need to be strong.

Because He is Strong. The Lion of Judah. The defender of the weak.

I am not strong. Sometimes I pretend to be strong. I can be a warrior for awhile, but deep inside, the warrior is a child.

Children need someone to fight for them. Someone to be their defender. Someone to run to.

I am the child.

Often I am afraid.

But He is strong. I can run to Him. I don’t need to be strong for Him. I don’t even need to pretend to be strong.

Because He makes my weakness strong. I don’t know how He does it. I don’t understand.

But He promised.

My strength is made perfect in weakness.

Perfect.

He promised.

And He is the Strong One.

Not Too far from Here

Not too far from here lives a girl with cold eyes and a hardened heart. Her dad is in jail, her mom is somewhere but she doesn’t know where. She lives with her dad’s ex-girlfriend supposedly but most of the time she’s staying with one friend or another. She’s been abandoned. Raped. And in and out of foster care seven times. She cries, but she’s not ready to share her pain, not yet.

Not too far from here is young girl who lives with her aunt, and her aunt’s boyfriend’s father. Her cousins use her as a scapegoat. Her “papaw” beats her for for minor infractions until she’s covered with bruises. She’s been taken from her mother thanks to all of her mother’s boyfriends but life hasn’t gotten better. Her face is sadness personified. Even her smiles are edged in sadness.

Not too far from here lives a young man who tells me casually that no one would care anyhow if he died. I can tell by the flatness of his voice that he believes the words. “I’d care” I say.

Uselessly.

He doesn’t believe me either.

Not too far from here is a nine- year old who says she worships the devil. And why not? Her father, the man who should protect her, has raped her more times than she can count. She cuts lines into her arms, the physical pain helping her to forget the emotional pain for at least a little bit. Her only hope is the tiny one that perhaps he’ll be put back in jail eventually.

Not too far from here is a little girl whose grandma is to old to climb the stairs to tuck her into bed. No one comes when she has nightmares. Her daddy and her uncle fight. The police come. She’s afraid and there is no one to hold her close.

The stories pile up, slowly, the ball of pain gets larger with every layer, like snowballs rolling down the snowy hill. And suddenly, without warning, the weight is too much, and the haunting does not leave.

These children.

We love them.

Some nights it’s hard to sleep.

Some days are hard to stay focused.

And you realize that if you had lived that life, you would not be the heroic survivor.

I would be the bitter young girl with hardened eyes.

And suddenly you question your own identity because you are not the person you always imagined yourself to be.

And than there’s guilt.

What can you really do? You always thought you would be the person who would help, who would do something.

And then you come face to face with your own helplessness.

And you realize there is nothing you can do.

You cannot make it better.

You cannot even make it stop.

You are helpless.

I should be positive probably. I should say that God can fix it. Because He can. But that only brings more questions. Why does he allow it to happen in the first place?

Pray for the children tonight.

Pray for those of us who carry the weight of their stories.

A Year in Flowers

April

The earth is fresh upon your grave. I do not resent the rain as it falls gentle in my hair. I thank God that his tears fall with mine. Amid the mud and rivulets of tears, I place a tiny sprig of bleeding heart.

May

The sun shines soft on luscious grass. The sky is brilliant. The beauty hurts. The mound of earth that is your grave has shrunk and the temporary marker inscribed with your name and our messages of love is beginning to fade. I am silent and my thoughts are painful, and remembering is hard and forgetting is worse. I stoop and gently place an Iris on your grave.

June

The first full-blown pink roses are yours. All my life, as long as I live, pink roses will always be yours. The headstone looks new and stark and cold.

July

It’s blackberry season. I think about the times we picked blackberries together and how we didn’t mind the thorns for love of the berries. I think blackberries and life might have something in common. I wonder if I could put blackberry blossoms on your grave. I think that might be a little strange. I do it anyway.

It’s August

I come with a handful of white daisies. They grew wild and free. I think if you, running through fields of splendor. The earth is dry and cracked so much like the feeling in my heart.

September

Goldenrod grows in profusion, so do black-eyed Susan’s and purple wildflowers. I gather a bouquet, it’s pretty but it looks a bit mixed up, Confused. I’m ok with that, my life feels much the same.

October

It’s getting colder. Flowers are scarce. I pluck a pansy from the pot beside the door. But I feel resentful. He is a bit too cheery.

November

It rains and rains and rains. I resent that too. Life was dreary enough before. I visit your grave empty-handed. There are no flowers now. Huge raindrops fall and life is hard and very, very ugly.

December

This time I have a sprig of holly. It seemed like the right thing. It grows abundant on the mountain and the crimson berries and vibrant green leaves are pretty against the snow.

January

It’s your birthday. I stop and buy a rose. A red one. Red is for love. I stop to place it on your headstone, and I smile to see that someone else has done the same. You are so loved.

February

Spring comes slowly. I pick an armful of daffodils and scatter them over your grave. I wish I would have thought to plant them here. I whisper a prayer, asking God to hold you close.

March

I wonder which tulips you would like better, Red or yellow? I feel afraid, trying to remember the sound of your voice. I’m afraid I’m forgetting…

I choose yellow. Yellow is for hope.

April

This time I hold a balloon. It holds a secret message just for you. I must let it go. Letting go is hard. But balloons tug and pull and when you let them go, they reach heights that I can only imagine. And so do you.

The Splendor of Light.

Bright white sunlight glancing off fallen snow.

It’s blinding.

I step back inside away from the light. Everything is dark now. So very dark.

In comparison with light.

Light reveals. It makes known. It brings things out of hiding.

I hadn’t thought of the blinding qualities of light.

Light can also hide. Walking directly into a light means I can no longer see.

Nothing.

Only the glaring power of the light.

The splendor of light.

I love the phrase of the song: Oh help us to see ’tis only the splendor of light hideth thee.

He is the light. Standing before him, I am blinded by the splendor. I see nothing. Not even Him. All I see is glaring light.

And I forget, sometimes, that He is light.

Or maybe I begin to think that if He really is light, I should be able to see.

But light conceals as much as it reveals.

If you can see too much, perhaps you should ask if you are standing in His light.

The splendor of light.

The Power of Words

“And you know, I’m proud of you.”

I was discouraged that evening. Life was overwhelming.

I had chosen the wrong career. I never should have thought I could be a teacher. Well honestly, I never have thought of myself as a good teacher. I enjoy teaching. I believe God had asked me to be a teacher. But I’ve never felt like a good one.

Kids club was going well. Too well. There were too many kids and not enough room. Not enough staff. I was afraid my dream would fall apart once more.

I was tired. Too many late nights and early mornings. Church every evening all weekend was encouraging but also a bit overwhelming. I’d had something I needed to do every evening which meant I had to do them after church.

I was starting to feel like there wasn’t a single area in my life that wasn’t a complete failure.

My car was dirty. My room was a mess. I wasn’t being there for the people in my life like I needed to be.

I had nothing to be proud of.

I needed those words. That encouragement.

I needed to remember that God redeems failures.

I needed to remember that when we walk with Christ, nothing is ever a failure. Sometimes we just don’t see the results.

God always sends us what we need. Later that week one of my friends from church gave me a bag with a card written full of encouragement and a coffee mug that was perfect for me to take coffee to school. I was amazed again at how God always knows exactly what we need.

Sometimes it seems a long time in coming.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way.

But His grace IS sufficient.

Every day.

The Story of the Tall, Proud Tree

The old tree stood, tall and proud against the clear blue sky. It had stood here for many years, through wind and rain and cold and snow. It had stood there for many years. It had seen whole eras come and go. It was now time for the tall proud tree to begin a new era of it’s own.

Change is painful. It was only through deep wounds that the tree was taken from it’s roots in the forest, transported by powers greater than it’s own. Birth is painful. And it was only by more wounds that the old tree is reborn into stacks of useful lumber. Useful but still very imperfect.

The lumber is stacked and sorted. The boards from our tall proud tree are set aside on a smaller pile in the corner. The lumber from other trees is moved to another place. Our pile grows slowly. Occasionally more boards are added but more often days go by when nothing happens.

Finally the stack is taken to another place. Once again the lumber is sorted. Most of the boards are planed and sanded into objects of beauty but once again the boards from the tall proud tree are simply stacked into a corner.

They are left alone. To wait.

Many other boards come through the shop. All of them carefully crafted and used.

But not the boards from the tall proud tree. They simply stay in the corner.

The boards seem useless, set aside indefinitely. How long will they be here? Why does the craftsman seem to have no use for them? Are they really useless? If so, why have they not been thrown away, or used for kindling or some such purpose? Would that not be better than to be forgotten?

Because the boards cannot know what the craftsman is thinking, they do not understand.

Because the boards are looking at circumstances, they seem to be forgotten.

But the craftsman has a plan.

Although the boards have never guessed the truth, they are the finest ones in the craftsman’s shop. They are not set aside because they are useless. Instead, they are set aside because something so fine as the wood from the tall proud tree cannot be used carelessly.

It must be used for something that will be treasured.

And so one day, after years of waiting, the craftsman takes the wood from the corner and begins a long slow process of shaping and sanding and smoothing. No machines will be used on these boards. Everything is done by the hands of the craftsman.

And though the process may be painful, it is not so painful as the years of waiting and feeling forgotten.

Waiting is always the hardest part. Waiting and being forgotten. At least feeling forgotten.

But perhaps.

Just Maybe.

You are not forgotten. You are simply the finest in the craftsman’s shop. Someday, at the perfect moment, he needs you to craft a treasure.

The craftsman’s boards are fashioned into a beautiful chest. He builds it carefully and slowly. He carves intricate patterns into the boards. It is a gift for his daughter. It must be perfect.

The carvings feel like the carving on your soul. Gut-wrenchingly, slowly painful. Seemingly never ending.

But there us a purpose.

There is a plan.

The tall, proud tree can be prouder still of what it has become. It would have died soon, had it stayed on top of it’s mountain.

Perhaps it died this way too, in a sense, but it died only to be reborn into something equally beautiful.

I give credit for the inspiration of this post to Daniel Vendley. Thank you for letting me put my words to your thoughts.