wilderness

THE FIGHT BACK From the Wall

The window closed. The words stopped coming. At least words that I could share publicly with others. Imagine filling a swimming pool with ping pong balls and trying to submerge all of them at the same time. Arms not long enough or wide enough. Body mass not able to cover the expanse.

Two and a half years ago I stopped writing publicly {mostly} in order to deal with the thoughts that came rushing in when my mother died. The thoughts came from every direction in uncontrollable succession. I didn’t know what to do with them when they came. Most days I couldn’t even catch my breath. I’ve written maybe three times on my blog since then. The winter months left me frustrated and overwhelmed, unable to make syllables come to form words. In private the ink pen was ready. Nothing. I was waiting on God to help. Nothing. I showed up and waited. Longed. Did what I had done before hoping it would flip a switch somewhere in me. Silence. Spiritually I hit a wall. Over and over.

FullSizeRenderI had been patient in the first days, weeks and months of waiting. Waiting for the words. When spring came I would go to my quiet place. The place where the breeze blew through the screens and the sun warmed my skin. The words came bit by bit but stopped as quickly as they came. Just a few at first. A few more the next time. Some days none.

While she was still living it was hard for me to find words with my mother. The words I used and the timing – always wrong. Should be no surprise that the words didn’t come. I felt I had no voice with her. As she left this earth I began to wonder if my ability to find the words left too. Ironic. A writer-friend shared with me that perhaps I might consider uncorking the bottle of wine. Not literally, but figuratively. She wondered if I might be able to just let the words spill out at first in my writing and come back after I’d gotten them out to clean them up.

I wonder if you have ever experienced a time like this in your life? I wonder if maybe you’re there now.

Oh how my heart feels for you. I long to walk with you through this time. To let you see in to where I’ve been. To see where I am today. And to help you find hope and courage to keep fighting. Fighting for life. Fighting for words. Fighting for peace. Fighting to believe God is with you even when you aren’t so sure.

I stepped over each crack in the concrete and rounded the corner. As my eyes lifted I was glancing at this brick wall at this beautiful angle. It pulled me in and reminded me that in much the same way, unexpectedly, I had begun to see beauty again. I was still hitting a wall, but I began to set my sights to give thanks for every circumstance God was allowing me to walk through. Trusting He would work all of it for His good.

As I dare to let my words spill out before you, this messy-real life-writer, please know it is a part of my fight to find my way back. Just showing up. See, I would never have called myself a writer before. I would just share my words and others who knew me well would tell me I was a writer. It’s only as I lost the ability to find the words that I knew what it was to be a writer. A writer with no syllables.

I am a writer. I am back. The cork has been popped. The wine is spilling out and it is messy. This post is the first in my attempt begin to process out loud with you what the fight back has been and still is for me today.

Precious One,
My hope for you today is the same encouragement I received from a dear friend in the middle of the hardest part of the process: O, LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. {Psalm 131}. May you find the rest you need as you hope in the LORD.

by // 0 comment

Buckets, Clay & a Wheel

photo-4It’s been on my list since I watched Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in Ghost back in the 80’s. As she positioned herself toward the turning wheel and leaned into the clay something stirred in me. What woman in those days wouldn’t want to possess the natural beauty of Demi. What held my attention, though, was something about the block of clay. I’m not even sure why.

Recently I gathered the courage to walk in and sit at my own wheel. I took my place in the small circle of women, some of whom had been here before, some had not.

Ready. Teachable. Trusting, or at least attempting to.

Have you ever felt off kilter? It’s where I’ve found myself this last year. Not having the ability to find my sure footing again, I decided to keep moving forward in this new place wondering if it’s my new normal.

My bucket list holds just a few things I want to do while still here on this green earth. Learning to throw pottery on a wheel is one of them. It’s the first I have had courage to follow through on. Seven years ago while working on some personal goals I wrote these words regarding myself: She, The Clay on The Wheel Woman, is willing to be refined in areas that need sharpening. Today I find myself being shaped and refined as much as the block of clay I now throw on the wheel. And the longing for this one thing to be something I might experience…the longing itself… it comes from God. He knew me before He formed me in my mothers womb.

I’m finding the first lesson in throwing is critical. If the clay is not centered the piece will eventually wobble or be off kilter and may fall altogether. The centering is not difficult, but the steps are clear:

  • Place clay in center of wheel
  • Pat into a cone
  • With the wheel spinning use whole body to force clay into the center
  • Continue to force clay into center pressing downward
  • With whole body strength use both hands to force clay upwards
  • Press clay down into a cake

It’s only after these steps have been successfully completed that I am able to move to the second step of opening up the clay.

God’s got my number for sure. In the midst of my feeling off on my footing, He draws me to this class. He knows I learn with all my senses. It’s not enough for me to hear it and learn it. I have to hear it, see it, touch it, work it, ask questions, fail and rather than have someone fix it for me I need to fix it myself so I can remember how to do it all next time.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. He knew I was weary with my alls. My heart, mind, soul and strength have grown weary as I’ve sought to stand on firm ground again. But I have set my will to keep my face like a flint toward Jesus. It’s what Jesus did as He walked the earth. He kept His face like flint toward the Father. I had no idea how putting my hands to the clay would be a catalyst to re-learning drawing near to God and relearning how to trust again.

It’s been a long road I’ve walked this last year. I’m not done walking this road. It’s a lonely wilderness. A dear friend asked me a question recently (I love good questions – hard ones). She asked “How do you know it’s a wilderness?” My response…because though I know beyond a doubt that God is near, I am not able to feel intimacy and His nearness. I keep trying to do all the things I know I’m supposed to “do” but the intimacy is not returning. I won’t give up.

Instead I’ll show up at the wheel. I’ll choose to let God center me as I re-learn trusting. Much like sitting at the wheel and following the steps with the clay as the wheel goes on spinning, I will let God shape me as I continue walking forward; face like a flint. I’ll follow the steps that will keep me centered in Him:

  • Place myself in His presence. Quiet myself before Him
  • Give God my heart, mind, soul & strength – one day at a time
  • Read His Word. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
  • Spend time talking with and listening for Him in prayer
  • Trust in Him with all my heart – lean not on my own understanding
  • Surrender to His pressing and shaping me

I’ll keep walking forward with courage letting God refine and sharpen. How about you? What encouragement do you need today? What step can you take today to keep you centered in God?

 

 

 

 

Curtains drawn

I see you through the curtains drawn,
knees held close, a vacant stare.
Release of breath with no response,
to silent cries that fill the air.Dock

 

Be still I hear your cry.
Be still I know your pain.
Be still and hear my voice.
Be still and know my name.

I see you in this wilderness,
restless in your solitude.
Searching in an endless maze,
desperate for a glimpse of truth.

Be still I hear your cry.
Be still I know your pain.
Be still and hear my voice.
Be still and know my name.

I am your prince of Peace,
your portion,
now and always.
Retreat from all the noise and you will find me.
You will find me.

Be still I hear your cry.
Be still I know your pain.
Be still and hear my voice.
Be still and know my name.

Let my love infuse your soul,
disintegrate this shroud of lies.
I am your sustaining strength,
rest in me a little while.

I am your sustaining strength,
rest in me a little while.

Rest in me a little while.

Hannah Oberlin, Karen Trigg & Megan Pifer

 

Where I’ve been. Where I’ve wrestled. Where I’ve lived.

Three steps out, two steps back. Or so it seems. A new dance. A least I am on the floor.

Through these curtains I’ve glimpsed two women who have given me the courage to write today.

To begin again.

Their written words have breathed life and courage and hope into places that are growing cold and distant.

One, a young beautiful Mama of three. Facing her fears head on and in doing so, daily defeating the enemy.

This Mama recently let her words flow in the midst of fear, uncertainty and no absolutely no guarantees. As she made her journey on the long road between East and West Tennessee to her final destination of Saint Jude Hospital for children she quoted the words of a dear friend “Confession disarms the devil”. It’s why she chose to write in the midst of the terrifying uncertainty. You can read more of her story of clinging to truth in her journey here at Garland & Pendant. 

The courage and transparency with which she wrote as she sought with all she had to disarm the enemy spoke volumes to me. It spoke deeply to the woman with curtains drawn. Drawn because I don’t know what happened that day in February at the hospital bedside. I thought I heard God whisper and I trusted the whisper. But – – – I’ve never felt so far from him. I can’t seem to find my way out. “Confession disarms the devil”. I confess today I have no ability to get it right. To get to the place where I feel safe again in God’s presence. It’s not my doing. It’s His. Did I do anything that first day I knew His presence? The certainty that He was with me? No.

Another Mama, beautiful, compassionate, full of a big love for others. A love that encompasses everything thing she does and everything she touches, left her earthly home yesterday for an eternity spent face to face with Jesus. Kara Tippets is a woman I never met. I emailed with her after a friend shared her blog with me. We shared a common thread; love for others, investing in a way that leaves our lives, hearts and homes open to impacting others through loving them well. Believing it’s what God calls us to.

As I followed her days at Mundane Faithfulness the last two years I’ve always been drawn to Jesus. Always. No matter what she faced in battling cancer she always let us see her struggle. Her desperate desire to remain here and be with her love and her littles and those she loved so dearly. To be present for the sweet moments, the hard moments, the tender moments and the joys of all that life holds. She let us hear and feel the gut wrenching tension in the battle but she always, always led us back to her resting place. Jesus. Her all. Her Sustainer. Her Strength. I’ve needed to see Jesus. Many days it has been through her words that I could taste and see.

It’s because of these two women I put my fingers to the keys today with no plan, no eloquence.

I’m returning to something God drew my heart to in the very beginning. Desperate to fight this battle against the enemy of my soul.

In returning and rest…rest in me a little while

As you read...

Have you known HIS rest?

Have you felt HIS strength lately?

How can you rest in Him today?

“The Body”

I have recently faced times of both trial and victory.  I have been blessed beyond words to have benefited from the “Body of Christ” in ways that I struggle greatly to even put to words. 

In the midst of this time I visited a friend who probably has no idea what she offered to me in terms of God’s love.  She allowed me to be right where I was in the moment and tenderly offered me the touch of God.  She required nothing of me…but gave without reserve.  How is it that she could know?  Not sure that she really did…but God did …and I believe that He used her for me to show me that He knew me and that He was not far from me.  I was not alone.

I am longing for the words to describe the impact that the love I have received from those who represent the “Body of Christ “ in my life has had in these past few weeks.

I choose to share this with you because this is what I feel so convinced that the Lord would have us to do with one another in order to see His glory!

Have you ever felt dry and lifeless in your relationship with the Living God? 

Have you wanted so much to touch HIS robe? 

To taste and see what you have tasted and seen before…yet you cannot seem to “get there”?

I have felt each of these and more.

For those of you who have know this desert…I feel so deeply for you at this very moment!!!  It is such a lonely place.

Not lonely in terms of wanting people around me – no – on the contrary.  Lonely in terms of knowing the intimacy of a relationship with Jesus Christ through the Father God and feeling far from Him.

As it came my turn after listening to the prayer requests of those I have been meeting with now for over a year for prayer ~ I suddenly felt all of the emotion come welling up in me without warning.  Before I knew it, I was laying it all out there to be heard in the raw emotion of it all.  Most of the women who were here for prayer that day were young ladies ~ “20 something women” who I have been blessed to be sharing prayer with for some time now. The prayer time may be different every week with who joins us, but this particular week it was the original ladies that have been a part of the group since the beginning.

There was a part of me that felt like I was crazy to not be censoring my emotions and my words as they flowed out ~ after all I am the older woman.  But it was the most real part of me that won out ~ the authentic part that asks and encourages the same from them each week.  I have come to know this place of prayer with them as a place where I am free to be part of the group ~ a participant with them ~ and not “the older woman” when it comes to sharing and lifting one another in prayer.  For this ~ I am grateful!  I think that it pleases the LORD:-)

What I found that day as I chose to continue to let them see me “struggles and all” was that I truly experienced the “Body of Christ”.  My friends gathered around me and began to speak words of truth and share scripture spontaneously as led by God.  How do I know it was led by God?  Because that day ~ in all my dryness and weariness ~ I was lifted before the throne of God with each word of encouragement ~ truth spoken ~ scripture read ~ and precious prayers breathed aloud for me.  I cannot tell you the life that it breathed into me.  I am thankful beyond words.

It has breathed life into me ~ this “Body of Christ” ~ letting me know that I am not alone in my pursuit ~ that there are those who care deeply to lift me before the throne of God.

Since this time ~ and letting a couple of other friends know just how much I was struggling, I have received so much from them.  They have no idea that the text messages and emails that they have sent have been at just the perfect moment and offer just what I need to hear from God.  He knows it, and He cares to use His Body to speak it!

I hope that if there is one person who comes across this who needs to hear it to know that they are not alone in thier desert place ~ that they will read this and be encouraged to be authentic with at least one other person about it.

Please share your desert experience with me so that I may pray with you.

Let me encourage you with the encouragement that has been given to me.

There is so much that I believe that God wants to do through His “Body”.  Will we be found willing?

Originally posted Monday September 15, 2008

by // 0 comment