Give up the ghost

I watch him, he’s learned to walk and he has no fear. No fear, I know. I see the brave in him when he lets go of mama’s hand and walks, almost runs on his own. I see brave as he climbs stairs and he climbs chairs and he would climb down them alone if mama would let him. I watch him and I wonder how to get back there, to Eden. He has no fear and he’s there, in Eden. He’s innocent and brave but he looks back at mama while he does these things, like my presence makes him this way. Like it’s okay for brave so long as mama’s with him. And he laughs from the pit of him and it’s pure and sweet  and what is it about a baby’s laugh that does something inside of us?  It changes us for a moment. We don’t think about worry for a moment. For a moment we’re innocent, too. It’s Eden. 

And there’s a ghost that’s been chasing me or maybe I’ve been chasing it. And it’s midnight and He wakes me and He asks me to give it up. I pretend I don’t know what He’s talking about but He knows, I know. Because I’ve eaten the whole apple and I’ve known more than He’s wanted me to and it’s been chasing me, I’ve been chasing it. So many times I’ve closed my eyes and the liar is there. The liar shows me what he said would be forgotten and he lied. It’s there. And there’s plans I’ve been making without Him and I’ve been chasing them until my legs grow weak. He asks if He can come but I know what that means – give up the ghost. And can I? Hand over this box with all of my things? Hand over these plans in my mind for an unknown thing? Can I relearn this life-thing and get back to Eden? Before the apple fell into my lap? The Eden where he is, my trusting boy who’s brave comes from knowing his mama isn’t far behind. Can I find his brave in knowing that He isn’t far behind?

So I’ve invited Him deeper but really He’s probably invited me. He sits with me at the table of my soul and He knows everything I’m about to say. He breaks bread and He offers me some. He knows I don’t find the good in the clouds covering the sun. In the car that finds trouble in the rain. He knows I clench teeth when bank account runs dry and He asks, “Where is your brave?” And He asks, “Where is your trust?” And He asks, “Where is your hope?” And He knows, hope is in the ghost I’ve been chasing. In the plans I’ve been making. The ones I forgot to invite Him to. So He pours wine and He asks me to drink. He asks if I remember the house in the country and Him meeting me there. He asks if I remember slamming the door and telling Him to leave. If I remember the cool mornings on screened in porch where we met over coffee. All He wanted was to lift the heavy from my chest that had been there for years. He asks if I remember and I do. Because He did. It was painful because of the enemy but He was not the enemy. He was cool breeze in the early morning and He never left even when I slammed the door. And I remember. I take a sip and I see dark room and apple juice and I see nails and cross and I’m free. It’s been years, and I’m free. It seems so easy. The Answer. He asks and I remember. 

I open The Book and it’s Eden. It’s my brave child and I’m brave, too. Papa lingers behind me as we walk through the field and I feel brave, for the first time in a long time. And He speaks of thankfulness rolling off tongue but that’s a foreign language to me. It’s all over these pages and I’ve read them before but seeing them now as we walk hand in hand it’s like the first time. Thankful in all of this. Thankful for where we are. Thankful that that door didn’t open and thankful for wisdom to close the next with our own hands, even if it aches me. Thankful for dirt under toes and thankful for little hands to hold. And I can be tired and I can be broken and I question – but its been in these pages all along, waiting for me to give up my ghosts, waiting for me to invite Him in or maybe accept His invitation. For thankful. For His road. For His hand to hold. 

And I’m running in the field and there’s a wild in my soul flamed with a fire from Heaven, and He’s trailing behind fueling my brave. 

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When He Calls You Sweetness

In the golden hour I remember to trust You. The busy of the day retires. Families walk hand in hand to their homes. The beating sun sinks low. It reflects the hues of gold, and I know. Let go. Of heavy traffic that made me late. Irritation that rolled off of tongue. The trouble I seem to get myself into. The way I can’t seem to keep myself out. Of this world. The way this world tuned out who I am. And I Am. He reminds me, in the golden hour. Of who I am. Created to be. He calls me by name, Sweetness. Singing Love over me. Singing hope into me. The way my bones begin to breathe again. Because dust falls and gold reflects and grace is like a gift too expensive to accept. Gold lingers and there’s no roof to this mercy. There’s no roof so the rain pours in over me. Washes clean the skin that felt so dirty from the day. From the nights before. From every moment I’ve lost myself and forgotten who I am. Heaven touches earth and sky paints gold like honey. Then Jesus. I think of the cross and all that I have laid upon it. I think of His hands, how hard I have hit into them. I think of His eyes and I just can’t look into them. Not after this. Not again. And how much more can the Father take from me? How much more burden can the Father carry for me? He leads me to the garden of my heart and He sits with me at the table. Tells me the story about love that is strong enough. Mercy that is deep enough. Heaven that is sweet enough. He says, oh darling you are sweet enough. And for a moment I remember me. The real me. The one He sees. For a moment heart breaks and love fills and time stands still. And it’s almost too much to bear. Almost too much to believe that someone did this all for me.

In the golden hour you recognize who you are. The day begins to fade. Grace pours out and mercy flows in. And I’m standing in His love, more than overwhelmed, on the receiving end.
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Where Else Would I Go

I’ve been really tired lately. I haven’t been living out the best version of myself, probably been rolling my eyes more than usual. I’ve been letting the world get the best of me. In return I’ve been letting the world harden me.

Been too tired to ask God for help. Been too scared to ask God for help. Not too sure if I wanted His help. Not too sure if I wanted to walk this path anymore.

And it’s the middle of the night and the enemy creeps in. He says we’re friends but the fear and regret, the pit in my stomach and the separation he brings from Love says otherwise.

The enemy creeps in and offers me nothing new. He offers old things, stale things, what I’ve already lived through, what God already replaced with life. And somehow he makes it sound good for a moment. Somehow he takes my old things and dresses it with a bow. Somehow in the night memory is blurry and old things seem right. And worship and lifting of hands and that song that broke my heart on Sunday seem so distant. Seems so… not for me anymore. Walking through those old church doors dragging my feet.

I haven’t been myself and the enemy calls me prey. He sees me wounded and now is his chance. He lures me into separation and anxiety and no more lifting of hands. No more praises in heart. And am I the only one? Have you ever felt so alone in a room full of people?

Maybe I was bitter that first love slipped away.

Maybe I’m bitter that I gave my only child away.

Maybe I’m bitter that a father’s love just can’t stay.

So I’ve been told that harboring bitterness separates,

me from Him,
and maybe that’s true,

But in thorns of bitterness I still feel Him, hear Him. A voice in the distance that sounds familiar, speaks closer with each acknowledgement. Fog grows thicker but the voice grows desperate. For the one who hasn’t been herself, feeling lost in fog. In old wounds that have already healed. The enemy points out scars as reminders.

What amazes me, despite it all, God remains. His love. His presence. We make bad decisions but he sits with us through trial. Holding our hand tight like only a mother deep in love with her child might do. Knowing that we are guilty but remembering deep inside the day we were created. What we were created for. Remembering the look in our face in the only moment we were innocent. Before the world invited us in. The deep root of love penetrates through holding of hands. Through nail-scarred hands.

And there is wholeness in that. Restoration in that. A better life in that. In nail-scarred hands. They keep me coming back. I could walk away from Jesus for the life I once had, for everything the enemy has offered me, but I’ve tasted both sides and His well is sweeter. He offers new life. New experience. His love is stronger. His promises are better. He gives strength again for lifting of hands. He refills the soul for all the more praise. And when He asks if I’m going to leave I respond,

Where else would I go?

Nothing is better,
Nothing is sweeter,
Nothing compares
To the love of Christ.
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The Long Way Home

For 13 months we lived in a beautiful home in the country. There was a garden in the back with a rose bush that had overgrown. As I began to weed the garden, I would find roots sprouting from one end, that lead me back to this big rose bush. It had grown so strong for so long, without anyone tending to it, that the roots had overtaken this garden. Isn’t that quite like life?

A painful event would happen to me and I would run from it. I would not face it, but let it root deeper. And time would pass and things would pile on my resume of things I majorly failed at, things I did not want to face. The roots were too deep. And my arms were too weak to begin pulling. So I kept running, finding anything to fill the space between me and those roots. Even now right before bed or a random place in time I can get a flashback of some long forgotten stupid night and cringe. Even now I can still fall back into the lie of the enemy that because of my past I am no good. But I am strong enough now to recognize his lie.

I don’t believe that God is angry with me for not choosing life. I believe He was deeply, deeply saddened that I didn’t know His Truth well enough to know that this was life. I believe He heavily wept over the fact that I was deceived into darkness. I believed in the lie – this was not life. The lie that I would feel relief, and this was something I would soon move on from as if it never happened. But this was my wildly unkept rosebush, overtaking the beautiful garden within me. I believe God felt sorrow towards me when I felt so alone. I believe God my Father deeply mourned for my loss, when I hardened my heart to avoid feeling anything. But greatest of all, I believe He welcomed my baby Home and that I will see my baby face to face in Heaven.

And that is just it: we’ve become so numb to what we don’t want to come to terms with. With what we would rather avoid. We want the easiest route and the easiest way out. But I’ve learned going the distance produces perseverance. I want to take the long way Home to Heaven, I want to stop at every detour. Walk up every steep mountain. To walk through pain and remember what it felt like. I want to take my time, to be completely raw in truth. I’ve grown to desperately love truth. To love on everyone lost. Everyone going through affliction. I choose the long way home. Facing our roots and pulling them out from within the deep produces an inner strength we never thought possible. Our past has no control over us unless we choose to let it. Because past things are passed things. Our past cannot harm us any longer if we choose to use it for good – in the helping of others.

Up until recently I would pray for God to break me away from my past. To let me forget. The memories. The pain. The embarrassment I still feel. But God did not. So finally I thanked Him for not allowing me to forget, because if I forget how can I be there for anyone else with similar roots? How can I help someone avoid growing these same roots? If I forget then there will never be a lesson learned. If I forget I will once again have taken the easy route out. Instead I’ve chosen to walk through it, root by root, room by room, with God holding my hand. Facing things I’ve been avoiding. Facing things I’ve been praying would just disappear. Decisions I have made. Forgiveness I have been withholding. Guilt I have bagged away. And it’s only then have I realized that the burden seems to grow lighter. I imagine my heart with these rooms full of filth, and God walking with me hand in hand, power washing the walls clean with each one we face.

So what roots have you been avoiding? What shortcuts have you been taking? If you’re wondering if the burden will ever get lighter the answer is yes. If you have been trying to work up the courage to face the painful fear of the past I challenge you to pull that first root. Take that first small detour. Walking through pain is not easy, but it is worth the Light. It is worth the freedom. Your face shines all the more beautiful in the freedom. I know you yearn for the freedom. And in your wild heart of hearts you were created to run in the freedom of the day. Choose today.

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Where Shore Meets the Sea

I hold on to things. I’m by no means a hoarder, but I definitely still have “Babs”, the stuffed-dog I got when I was two. (And I definitely still sleep with her, my husband has accepted this.) I hold on to memories and love and pain all the same. Like stepping away from relationships. All of those years I held knuckle-white tight. And learning to be independent and who I am as this person God created. If we let them, people will shape us into a shadow of ourselves, and when they leave we can’t recognize our own reflections. Sometimes we have moments where we have to choose whether to remain stuck in the waiting for change to hopefully come or we have to take the leap to reach change now.

I get lost in my own mind sometimes and relive moments with my grandma, I still have her number saved in my phone as if I could call her whenever I want to. I get lost in her memory and her goodness and her love for Jesus. I wish she could see me loving Him, too, the way she always prayed I would. I remember the night she made her way to Heaven and I wasn’t sure how any of us would continue to live. How would we make it without her? But tomorrow came and we had to choose to move with it. I’m so thankful I finally chose to move with it.

We walked down the beach tonight and there was a young boy with his mother, and I think of my child. I think of the way his memory used to be shut away, too painful, always taunting by the enemy. And I think of the way God has redeemed it, so beautiful, so thankful I can talk about it. He would be big enough to run alone and play in the ocean and laugh and talk with me about who knows what. It hurts for a moment but I think of Heaven immediately and the setting sun behind us. And I smile. I’m full of joy in heart at the thought. How much greater is it all on his side of Heaven?

And a year ago I couldn’t face this. The pain of growth and releasing of hands and moving forward. But sometimes God works in our time, when it comes to matters of the heart. He doesn’t rush our wounds to heal and He doesn’t push us when we aren’t ready. Because He knows it’s not easy being us. He came down on earth as one of us. He knows life can be ugly and burdens can be heavy and this bed seems far too safe compared to the world outside of our window. He knows people die and fathers leave and relationships end. He knows results come back a devastatingly positive and the rain seems never-ending. And so he doesn’t push us, but encourages us, that yes, the pain in your heart may be overwhelming some days but there is a sunset over the ocean painted just for you that he doesn’t want you to miss. Just a sunset over the ocean that can help our feet to move forward, even if it’s just one small step at a time.

And what’s on the other side of moving forward has been so worth getting out of bed. So worth the releasing of hands. So worth all-in trusting Jesus. So I will leave my pains right here, where the shore meets the sea. I will let it wash away with each wave. Because although there is pain, God is still good, the sunset is still so beautiful, and Heaven is surely worth it all.

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Handing Over the Keys to the Cellars of Our Souls

Every one of us walking on this earth have a few cobwebs in the corners of our souls. Maybe your mom once told you not to have any cookies before dinner but they were so enticing that you ate one anyway when she left the room. A cobweb forms. Maybe you told a “white lie” to your best friend because it feels easier than facing the truth. Another cobweb forms.

But maybe you have a cellar in the basement of your soul. It’s dead bolted and has a million and one locks just to ensure that no one gets in. Maybe it’s been there for so long that the cobwebs have become so thick. It’s even formed mildew so not even you want to touch it. The enemy guards that cellar with his strongest forces. He wants to make sure no light shines through. He wants that cellar in your soul to remain hopeless. Impossible to open. And he wants to continue to torment you with it.

He wants you to believe that if anyone knew what was locked inside then they would abandoned you. That they would disown you and be disgusted with you. He wants you to believe that you are the only one who has done what you’ve done or what has been done to you. That no one can relate, understand or help. Let me tell you that that is a lie from the deepest, fieriest pit of hell. Whatever has happened to you in this life, whatever is chained inside your cellar, there are over 7 billion people in this world, you are not the only one. It’s impossible. God says there is nothing new under the sun. Although it feels like it, you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.

God didn’t create our bodies for cellars in our souls. We are not capable of keeping them there long enough without going crazy. Without forming some kind of destructive behavior. What is that one thing you’re holding on to that hinders you from reading your bible more? What is it that stops you from growing deeper in your faith? You may veer off course a little bit, and for some of us a lot a bit. You may have junk in your cellar that no one could have ever imagined. But God knows. No matter how well you believe you’ve fooled everyone else, God knows. He sees your cellar. Down to your deepest wound, and He mourns for you.

You may believe that nobody else in this world could ever know how you feel or how much your cellar has made you suffer, but God knows. And He wants to brush away the cobwebs. He wants you to hand over the lock and key and allow Him to free you. You might be thinking, “Well He’s God, why doesn’t He just take it from me and do it Himself?” He’s a gentle God. He’s a patient God. He’s a God who gave us free will to choose to remain under the weight of the enemy’s thumb or choose to bring it all to His feet and say, “Okay, Lord. I can’t carry this on my own anymore. I need a Savior. I need you to carry this for me.” And He will. And He already has when He had His only Son drink the cup of our sins and taste the bitterness of all the filth we have ever done. His son Jesus, the Savior of you and I, who carried it all and was nailed on the cross so we could be free to willingly choose to hand over the keys of our cellars to God, and let it all go.

Enough is enough, have you had enough? Are you ready to hand over the keys?

When you call on me, when you pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me you’ll find me. When you want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you home again, you can count on it.

Jeremiah 29

  

Misery Has No Hold On Me

Your alarm goes off and you hit the snooze button, but today is different. You don’t fall back asleep for a half hour longer, risk running late and having to go 10 miles over the speed limit. You get out of bed (you might even make the bed) with a little pep in your step. “Today is going to be different.” You tell yourself. 

You make yourself what you believe will be the best pot of coffee you will ever make, and you smile at the rising sun and the way the light is beaming through your window. Usually you would push your cat away as she snuggles on your lap while you try to read the morning paper, but today is different. And the way your cat is purring over your now crinkled paper brings you back to being a small child. The way you would sit on your mothers lap as she read her favorite magazine. Her breath smelled like morning coffee as you lay your head on her chest and hear her heart beating. Yes, this is a memory of joy. 

Now you go outside, thermos in hand, and face the world. You’re singing to every song on the radio and you smile at strangers at the gas station. You give change to the homeless on the corner of the street and you don’t think twice about what they will do with the money. “Today misery will not overcome me.” You tell yourself. “Today I choose joy.” Because the routine of getting caught in rush hour has finally outrun itself and allowing others thoughts and opinions and allowing others problems affect you severely has run it’s toll. 

And even when your boss asks you, “Can’t you do better?” And even when your friends would rather not be by your side. Even when you can’t afford that beautiful coat I’m sure you deserve. Even when for once your spouse lovingly tells you “No.” Even when things just aren’t going your way. Yes, even when you aren’t treated with respect. And even when the entire universe feels as though it is laying all of itself on your shoulders. You choose to sing. You choose to skip through the grocery store with your small child. You choose to kiss your mate in public because you are shamelessly in love. 

When you spill your morning coffee all over your pants while you’re already running late you choose to laugh instead of cry. You choose to dance in church because you finally let the glory of The Lord permeate your entire soul. And instead of always venting about your problems you choose to put effort in changing them. You choose to be the best friend, mother, father, sister, brother, lover, that you could ever possibly be. Not because you want something in return but because today you decided to choose joy. You decided that no matter what disappointments came your way today you would choose to be happy. That you will not react out of anger. And today you choose to not let emotions control you. 

  You choose to seek wisdom and answers. You stop wondering why things aren’t in your favor or why you haven’t found a husband or wife yet. You stop worrying about money and you stop posting all of your dilemmas on Facebook. You break the bondage of misery because it has no hold on you. You have that choice. Yes, today you choose joy.