Twinges of grief

Six years ago, I wrote this blog.
Angel Baby.
And, from that, this.
Sweet Seraphina…how I desperately prayed that God would show me your face somehow. “Please,” I asked…give me a dream, a vision, a picture!”
God answered.
And then I moved on.
I’m pretty good at moving on. Mostly because there is a deeply rooted hope that drives me ahead. But still, there are days like today….
Days where the memory of what could have been teases.
I am ok with that.
But years and years later, as a woman, I cannot help but feel less than.
Less than, that my body couldn’t sustain a pregnancy (and pregnancies thereafter).
Less than, that my body’s cycles have betrayed me on a consistent basis.
Less than, that I simply cannot do part of what defines my womanhood.
Less than, that most days, I do not even want what I cannot have.
Less than, that the grief of others is greater than mine.
Deep inside, I know I am not less than. I know that my femininity is not defined by what my body cannot do or by my body, for that matter. I know this; I believe this, and I live with joy and hope and  peace and blessings and wonder and pain and loss like every single person in this first world country-  privileged I am.
But I do grieve.
And, I am ok with that, too.
“…… but joy comes in the morning,”
A.

 

Emmanuel God

As temporary as today is, the Lord is with me.

Filling in the cracks of my rebellion,

Hedging around me in my wandering,

HE is, He will and his promises are true



Today is temporary but my tomorrow is eternal.



AND, I CAN WALK INTO UNCERTAINTY WITH CERTAINTY THAT THE

LORD EMMANUEL GOD IS WITH ME.



Every day, a day closer,

Every whispered prayer, a step forward.

And every mistake, all-together covered in grace, sweet grace, abundant grace, OH grace….



God of grace

God of faithfulness

God who makes me brave

God who gives me rest

Always with me GOD.

Near in my troubles GOD.

You are, You have, You will...



And, I am confident on shaking, fallow ground;

And,

strengthened by mercy, courageous by grace, propelled by faith,

You raise me up.

You secure my feet.

You brace my trembling knees.

You soothe my cries.

You go before me.



LORD,  I will follow;

I will go.

I can trust in you.

Emmanuel God.

Always with me, GOD.

Your hope over me

like the sun.

Brilliant…

And,

Your majesty,

guides me HOME.



….WALKING INTO UNCERTAINTY WITH CERTAINTY THAT THE

LORD EMMANUEL GOD IS WITH ME.

The Hosea Sermon

I was so honored to preach at my church, IntentionalChurch.tv, this Sunday. I had no idea how to name this sermon, so I will call it The Hosea Sermon….

 

and I hope you listen and are moved by the faithful love of GOD (-:

 

https://clyp.it/bp3mmcip/widget

Hosea 11

Sow in me righteousness,

Reap in me steadfast love,

Break in me fallowed land

 

It is time to seek You, Lord…

 

Come like the rain,

Your goodness pouring down.

 

For though I run, scattered in sin,

You do not lose me.

 

Your faithfulness reels me in,

Your fences protect my life

The boundaries of Your mercy secure me,

Your blood brings me into Your family.

 

O tender love of God,

It is time to seek Your face.

Even the Wanderer… A Hosea Response

And a wanderer was I,
Living in a house of rebellion
                                         Reclining on furniture of shame,
                                   Snuggling with blankets of humiliation,
                                                                And
                                              Sleeping in chains of sin
Let the sun come up
And shine on me,
For this darkness needs light….
I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
So far away was I
But drawn near to the Messiah
By the blood of Christ
You beckon me to my true home
And
Father, I’m coming, I’m running back
Oh Let the sun come up, 
And shine on me
For this darkness needs light
I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
But the Lord loves even the wanderer
It’s the great exchange:
My rebellion for contrition
My disobedience for repentance
My sins forgiven,
My humiliation forgotten!
My heart, for Your kingdom
Your plans for my own
My life for your instrument
My wandering for Your home…
For I am the prodigal son
I am the prodigal daughter
And
I’m coming, I’m running back
HOME.

Unedited: “The Sower of the Wind.”

After work, I’ll probably be annoyed that I posted this morning’s journal entry without bothering to edit it. I am compelled  to share this in its raw form though…and I hope even there, that it resonates with someone.
DAY 11, #Shereadstruth devotional
“They sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind.”
Hosea 8:7
 Here I am, more often than not. Sowing the wind. Plowing through air, planting seeds of air, weeding seeds of air, and, sweating,  toiling and struggling, thinking I am sincere, but forgetting something.
 The WIND is an immovable force of nature,  and here I am sowing into her with abandon and all-intention, putting myself in harms way ….
 IN the face of God, his assurance and hope, his wisdom and beckoning call, I fail, time and time again.
 I try to construct my own safety nets. I run to the sight of false hope, disguised as eternity when in reality they are temporary distractions. I hire out for myself lovers, paying them to fill the void within me, when I should be running and skipping back to the cross, where the stripes of Jesus paid everything in my name….
 And, as I do so, my appetite for destruction grows to such an extent that I began to operate from what I need instead of what I’ve already received. I began to operate as a child of a temporary, fading world instead of a child of an eternal, expanding Kingdom.
 Until I see I’m standing in the path of the whirlwind, her winds turning and funneling before me, swelling and growing and whistling with danger.  And then, I look at my sweaty hands, my calloused palms and remember the LORD.
 And in the light of repentance, I see that I’ve placed my hope in the wrong things. I see that I’ve lived so much out of my own strength until I became the mini-little g- god in my own world. Controlling, stabilizing, manipulating, shopping, laboring at the plow trying to produce security in this fallen world , sowing the wind, and working so hard to fight against the pain in this world that looms like a big dark shadow over me.
 But, at the feet of Jesus, my eyes are opened and I’m so ashamed of what I’ve brought to the throne of grace that I began to fall away. And, as I kneel, bits and pieces of my broken heart, my sinful flesh began to fall and I lay before him in jagged fragments; discarded pottery at the foot of the LORD, I am….weeping and ashamed and SO wrecked before Him because NOW I can finally see and it’s not good folks.
 It’s not good. One glimpse into His glory and I break like glass before His face. I can’t handle all that grace, all that mercy , all that FIRE of truth burning before me. So, I break and then I wait for his hand to sweep me away or to do something with all these pieces that are SO shattered it would require divine patience to mend.
 Then, like a warm oil, I feel His hands. The hands of JESUS, who came for sick, broken people like me. The hand of Jesus, with scars from nails driven in, who know how to minister to pain. The hands of Jesus, who are imprinted with hope and mercy for the undeserving.
 He slowly begins to piece me together, taking choice pieces and leaving out others. Even in the remaking, I do not fear. Even in the discomfort, I do not shy away. For I am in the builder’s hands now and He knows what He is doing. And when all that is usable is done, he sanctifies me for his bidding, filling every empty part with the Spirit of the Living God; tracing over every seamed together piece with fingers readied to forever HEAL..
 And when I say, “Lord, look at what I’ve done! Look at who’ve I’ve been! I am not worthy to be YOURS”… He said I’ve made you worthy. 
 And when I say, “But Lord, my flesh is sinful; I am not holy!” He says, I’ve made you holy!
 And what I say, “But Lord, who am I to be with you? ” He says, YOU are mine.
 And before me, he shows me a cross. He shows me everything I’ve done, the sin I’ve confessed and the secret shames I’ve hidden. He shows me every.single.sin nailed to that cross, and I recoil back in shame as I SEE the face of my sin, JESUS, covered with my shame and everything I’ve ever done…
 You see, even though every bible book has told me,  even though I already knew, I realized I didn’t really KNOW.
 But this isn’t the end because the LORD doesn’t’ leave us in grief, to agonize over what JESUS did for us. You See, this is a gift meant to be received with JOY!
 And as He shows me that NOW, because of THIS, I am free, I am accepted , sanctified and that the beautiful process of remaking was because of JESUS’s work at the cross…
As He shows me that I was able to break apart before him and experience his tender hands of grace….
As He sings his song of love over me…As He rejoices over my deliverance with me …
 I weep and sing and dance, simultaneously experiencing joy and agony because this is what it means to be a child of God…
 Being so full of JOY that you shine like the sun, but so in agony over the destruction of sin that you burn for righteousness; this is my heritage.
 And I, the sower of the wind, am now the sower of righteousness now. Planting seeds of hope and eternity, I labor without exhaustion for the LORD is REST for my soul.
 Indeed.
 Amen.

Healing In Our House, an appeal for Grace

Release grace upon my tongue

Welling up in me

Kindness and tenderness

Be upon me

 
In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me

 
Release wisdom upon my heart

Curating me

Patience and understanding

Be upon me
 

In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me


Release yielding in my spirit

Mercy filling me

Peace and humility

Be upon me

 
In my home

Manifest

Your goodness

Your gentleness

Through me
 

Under God,

May we repair, restore,

Mend our brokeness

Every injury- tended

Every failure-  forgiven

Every appeal-  in compassion

Til there is healing in our house.

In the wake of injustice…

I can’t even formulate the right words..all I can say is that I am truly heartbroken over the recent tragic events.I have tried to capture my feelings, to chase the argument of justice, but the words are elusive.
The heartache is deep….and because of that, all I can think of is one word.
 “Kindred.”
Are we not all flesh and blood, created by God? Are we not all brothers and sisters, worthy of love, justice and freedom?
I believe so.
Moving forward,
I have no cool meme or graphic to add.  Yet, I do have prayer ,and so do you. And prayer, which will last much longer than changing our profile pictures across social media and unite more powerfully than human hands, is transforming.
We NEED prayer.
We NEED prayer….to open our eyes, to empower us to do far more and abundantly more than we could ever imagine.
We NEED compassion. The essence of the cross is COMPASSION.
Sacrifice.
Mercy.
We never have and never will deserve mercy. Yet, still Jesus extends it. And, so should we.
God, help me to be an extender of your love and mercy and courageous enough to speak out in the face of injustice.
Lastly,
Dear, CHURCH, my fellow Jesus followers,
We must reach out our hurting LGBT brother and sisters and not IGNORE, be apathetic, judgmental or persecutive. We must do our part in healing wounds that we, ourselves, have allowed to be inflicted. We must be a safe-haven, a refuge…a SANCTUARY.
For, violence and hate are not in any part of our journey. Bigoted words and jokes are not in any part of our calling. IF they are part of your calling, then you are not following in Jesus’s footsteps.
 The light of the world, the lamp on the stand, the city on the hill – this is what Jesus asks of us.
Defender of the defenseless, advocator of the orphan and widow, mercy for the undeserving, grace for the adulterer, healing for the sick, freedom for the captive, forgiveness over and over and over and over and over and….THIS is Jesus, Whose compassion does not fail and Whose mercies are new every morning. 
Church,
If we say we are believers and followers of Jesus, than let us not hesitate to reach out.
In an event-heavy, busy, world, in our disconnected though social media states, we must endeavor to reach out, doing our parts in our every.day.average.routine-scheduled.day.
Let us do so with great intention.
I leave you with one of my favorite hymns, written by John Fawcettpub.1782
  1. Blest be the tie that binds, Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne, We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one, Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. .We share our mutual woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows the sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part, It gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.
May we all allow the Sacred and Divine to intertwine through the whole of our lives SO that we can infuse God’s love and tender mercies in every interaction.
A.Stephens

The Woman With The Issue of Blood

We don’t know her name, but Jesus did…
And, just like the world doesnt know our secret sins, our shame,  the infirmities of our hearts, our bones…
Jesus does.
And still…
He waits, among us, Jesus WITH US, and He does not sit still.
No, JESUS continues in HIS work,
Yet….
All the while waiting for a touch made in faith.
TODAY,
As we casually bump into him,
Press into him,
Bumping, shoving, rushing…
HE walks among us and waits for that touch of faith,
Fearful , trembling, but believing.
He makes available to  us the outer garments of His GRACE.
And so…
Let us bring our bodies, weak, trembling,fearful, and stricken with humanity.
And then,
Let us bring our hearts, believing, expecting, hoping, and forging a path through the chaos of distraction.
And finally,
Let us bring our confessions, with great joy!
For now, we are made whole, clean, free; we are justified, vindicated, emancipated, LIBERATED.
For You, Jesus, desire mercy.
You, Jesus, delight in Mercy, abound in mercy AND
You know our names.
You know our names and YOU have made us to be a people on our knees before You so we can arise in the heavenly places BESIDE YOU.
You, Jesus, know our names.
So… we surrender.
We surrender in good faith, and  the fount of our bleeding ceases as the well springs of living water rush in to mend the violence of sin.
Psalm 67: “Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you”
GOD,
We praise you.
Your grace is inexhaustible. Your affection is without end. Your mercy has no boundaries……
and
You know our name.
Surely, surely, we are blessed.

Daughter, Arise!

I come to you,

Jesus.

falling at your feet,

Jesus.

Fearful and trembling,

Jesus.

– You have every reason to condemn me.

“You harlot!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You sinner!” they say.

– You have every reason to condemn me,

“You leper!”  they say

BUT….

– What will You say?

– Will You say I stole a blessing?

– Will You say my touch has made you unclean?

OR

– Will You call out for, murder, “OH, those righteous stones!”

– What will You say?

But I can’t care! I’m pressing forward,

All I have to do is touch Your robe!

I don’t care, I’m pressing forward,

Because standing there before me walks living hope.

And I’ll risk it all.

I’ll risk it all.

Just to hear You call my name,

“Daughter.”

Glory speaks…..and the heavens rejoice.

Glory speaks…..”Oh, the sound of HIS voice!”

And,

You’ve called my name.

And,

 

I come to you, Jesus.

Falling at your feet, Jesus.

Fearful and trembling, Jesus.

Your glory running through my bones.

Your glory; I’ve seen the face of GOD.

Your glory; I hear my name….

Daughter, arise…

From the ashes, arise…

From the pit, arise.

From infirmity, arise....

From your prison, arise…

Daughter, arise…

Your faith has set you free.