What is it we do with a heart of anguish? We Hope…

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I bet it haunts you too. That image, you know the one?  The one of the vulture waiting. It caused a revolution at our house this week…Injustice has a tendency to do that.

We found our kids huddled together on the couch flipping through the “100 most influential photos” magazine that Time recently published. Joel sat down with them and I heard him explaining things like napalm. Famine.Vietnam. Nuclear bombs. I wanted to stop him. But they are getting older. These are conversations we need to have.

That night my daughter could not sleep. She was writhing and crying and calling herself a coward, selfish.  My E cannot shake it. She sees herself in that little girl. She knows how we are one.

Did you know the photographer that took that photo, later took his own life? Some accounts I read attributed the death to the guilt he felt, but that oversimplifies of course. I can’t help but wonder though, if we were made for more than to look and see? We were made to be hands and feet. We are active participants here, made to join Jesus in His ministry of reconciliation and justice.

I know we all feel uneasy right now, but it is not the first time the world has felt like this. I’m sure it has felt much worse. But this is when the helpers and healers, the poets and dreamers go to work. These are the conditions that breed the visionaries, the restorers, those who want to learn what it means to bind the broken-hearted. These are precisely the days we learn what we are made for, what we are to do. This is when we learn what good work is.

The difference for a Christian is that we do not give way to despair. We are the ones who subvert dread to hope. We are the ones who lead the pilgrimage in the darkness with our light glowing, the ones who never let the flame go out. We are the ones who cannot give way to complacency because this hope should move us to action.

Hope is our antidote to fear.

Hope prompts the movement from angst to action.

Hope will be our testimony and our gift.

Hope will be our dialect; our defining language.

Hope will be our reward and our calling.

Hope will be the trail we blaze and the direction we lead.

Hope will deepen as we trust Him more and Hope will be what transcends all our heartbreak and every insurmountable obstacle.

The only thing we can do with angst and fear is to set it ablaze with the HOPE OF CHRIST. We do the next tiny thing in front of us, that is all we ever have. We bring our tiny light to the dark. The small thing you can begin. It is such a relief just to start, such a release to move in the direction of hope. Fear cannot stand against such audacity. It crumbles.

And so. We hope.

(A few small ideas? The tiny things to move you in the direction of light? Below…Emilys first step. Or join us tomorrow? Our prayers never return void)

What is it you can do this week of hope, one small move, our single candle blazing that can move you in the direction of HOPE? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

I blog on hope a lot. Here are a few pieces from the archives:

We Wait…And We hope

Tell Me of Your Hope

Hope and Peace

Your Fear Makes Me Wonder

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Wild Eyes

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It isn’t often that my eyes light up with a view of heaven. They were flashing wild though, when I looked at you with all flesh cornea and happened to see the kingdom version. You were a thing of reckless beauty.

It sounds crazy and I know it. I might be just one day away from camel shirts and locusts for dinner but I don’t even mind. I wish you could see it for yourself, I wish my wild eyes could act like mirrors so that you could not deny it. There would be no going back. You could be a dangerous thing.

I feel it in these creaking flesh bones, valleys rising. The lioness. I am more than ready to rise up, pounce, catch it all, run wild. There is nothing in me aching for the cages of old. Don’t take me back.

My son, he ran out into the woods, got so far ahead I could not see him. It is not the time of year for small boys to be alone in Canadian forests. The bears are waking with this early thaw. When I finally found him, I said “are you okay?” thinking his heart is already caged up like mine. But no. Instead his wild eyes turned on me and said “oh mom, I feel like my very own real and true self”. This is what is created in us, the Image of God on our hearts. I can’t understand why we submit to being bound and caged by the world we find ourselves. What will it take for you to remember your whole? The sozo of God, His plans for you are total restoration. Don’t settle for just a part.

I don’t want to hear about your yoke no more. Throw it off. I want to hear about the molds you shatter, your irrational hope.

You who lead? Don’t you dare look back. There is no faster way to yoke yourself again. Keep your eyes locked on the good shepherd. Keep the kingdom vision of your flock at forefront. Don’t settle in. Don’t wear failure like a cloak. Throw it off. Just for a moment, embrace the whole and free, the reconciliation meant for you. Only then will you ever be able to be a tiny part shattering yokes for the oppressed among us.

Ask Me

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wpid-abm_1419804708.jpgAsk me again, whether what I have done is my life.   Ask me if the getting up and going to sleep and the moments in between is all there is. Ask me if I lived the heights and depths of my life and all the ordinary moments in between. Ask me if I smelled the frost on my daughter’s hair, smelled the earth on my son. Ask me if I chased my dreams, if I gazed at Christ, if I did everything that was put before me. Ask me I took my place at tables set for me.

Go ahead. Ask me.

Ask me about the words I didn’t write and the walks I didn’t take. Ask me about the people on the margins I left there alone. Ask me about the gifts I hoarded or the risks I didn’t take.

Go ah…wait. Maybe don’t.

No don’t because then I will have to tell you that I get lazy and distracted and caught up in the ordinary. I will tell you I wasted too many evenings this year on facebook and days on netflix. I will tell you that I get nervous sometimes that as I enter the decade of, what statisticians calculate as the most productive of my life, that I am getting it wrong. I will tell you that my heart is madly restless these days, that I am desperate for what the next thing is. I will tell you that this year…I want focus.

I will tell you that every year at this time I say the same thing a different way, that I want to be HERE and in the NOW but also…but also. But also I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to be everywhere, all at once. I want to climb mountain tops and swim with dolphins. I want whatever is meant for me and I don’t want to miss a second of this life or waste it on  regret. This  year, 2015, I want to live with intention and focus and I don’t want life to happen TO me. I want to step into my gifting and I want to do the next million tiny things. I want to stack one tiny thing on top of the next and I want my heart to break and beat for the things of God.

And this isn’t about trying harder or doing more. This is about peeling back scaled eyelids and watching with glittering eyes. This is about not letting my life happen to me, not picking up the phone without thinking. Not skipping between various screens.This is about watching for the opportunities I’m given. This is about paying attention to surprising things that make my heart beat…like writing and preaching and crashing waves and poetry. This is about making space for the things I care about doing. This is about filling myself before I leave the house. About waking just a little early moving and thinking and intentionally planning my days. We are the curators of our lives, the only ones who decide what it is filled with.

My little girl woke me in the night. I held her little hand as I walked her to our bed, I kissed her satin soft skin. Then I spent a long time looking out the window. The sky was bruised deep purple and navy blue. The stars were blazing hot. The trees were so loaded with snow that I thought they might break.

Ask me if I noticed.

On purposeFierceAsk me2015

Days Like This

If you love poetry get this beautiful piece by Laisha Rosnau!

If you love poetry get this beautiful piece by Laisha Rosnau!

This morning I felt the way a coffee cup fits perfect in two relaxed hands.

I listened to the children have a conversation about what colour is more beautiful in the sky, how the snow was uninterrupted, how they could hardly wait to traipse across it, leave a mark.

I sat with poetry open, the perfect black pen, a journal itching to be filled up.

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The blue sky peeled open, the sun rose all pink and fired up to blaze.
Me too.

DSC_0286We rambled into the woods, let’s be the first explorers shall we? Notice the way the crystals blow from the tree, hear the squeals from the sled behind us, feel the wind in our hair. Notice the way that sun broke the trees wide open, as if it was a gift just for us.

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I should be scrubbing the floors, folding the laundry, washing the windows. I could be out visiting, returning important emails, writing a grant application. I could…but. I am glued to this seat by the weight of what feels like quadruple the gravity of a regular day on earth. The man asleep on the couch, the dogs napping at my feet, the children building snowmen outside. I am stuck by the beauty of this sun on my back, the words on the page. There are days we produce and days that produce in us. We must be wise enough to know which one we need and how to notice the chance for either one.

Of Blue Skies and Moss

You sense the smell of your newborn child as absolute proof of God, and six months later the sleep deprivation is irrefutable evidence of the curse. Life is always and ever both.

This summer I sat on the banks of Shuswap lake. If I could’ve flown like the crow just over that mountain, I would be at the place where I lost my second baby. Just there in that bay. By now her body  has turned into moss, a tree? I was certain that was the end, no babies for me. And then… There I was, watching my children play in the waves…on the moss. It is too much. I cried and I smiled. There is no gratitude like this without a loss like that.

I was sitting in the corner of the dining room on Tuesday, my back against the wall. I am watching my little girl open an art studio. She is painting and selling it. Then suddenly she is gone and is back with a handful of dolls whom she seats, she is trying to teach them the Highland Fling. Meanwhile I am pressed up against the wall, dog in my lap, there are sometimes decisions to make and you know in advance that none of the outcomes are good. But still, you look up as the marvel and heartaches mingle. You look up.

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I was driving this morning, thinking about friends who are sick. I was praying for restoration and healing. My eyes started welling as they do, and then the sun started rising into the crystalline blue, the grass along the roadside bending with the weight of frost diamonds, the children started to sing. Life is always the balance of our open eyes, our clenched and clinging fists.

This afternoon I will walk in the woods, under the blue sky, over the moss. That is the miracle of it. How in our aloneness, we are not. How life, it just goes on.

If the church is a body…

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Here we are…Compensating for each other. Pulling to the right or the left when there is a strain, when someone isn’t pulling their weight. The hand must patch up the knee that is bleeding from the stumble over sin. The back that is sagging from the the age, from the burden bearing; the core muscles have to toughen up to bear the sway from being too great. That hand that stopped typing, let those with the the golden tongue encourage. The vocal cords, let them sing, let them praise.

I wish I was a part of the spine. Strong. Holding things together.

Or perhaps an important part of the brain. The medulla. The frontal lobe. Practical. Wise.

I would not mind being a muscle. Those with the strong arms who do the heavy lifting. Those that serve without any fan fair.

Or even the heel. Calloused enough to walk the hard road. Though, lets be honest, perhaps the church has more than it’s fair share of heels. Mostly we need to be softer.

But no. My only hope now, that I am just a tiny bit of the heart. A single cell perhaps? A piece of the valve that blows open when the spirit shocks. The one who hears the sudden whoosh and makes it poetry and art. The one who whispers quiet in the night when things seem dark and all hope it lost. Keeps the rhythm of the maker. I want to be the one stilll finding all the beauty there in the dark. Find me in the blood and the gore, the mire and the muck. Find me in my own brokenness still naming you saint.

Love Is Long (Five Minutes With the Word Prompt LONG)

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It was past midnight when he found me, cold and frustrated, by the side of the road. He was from Iran. The minister of health. His wife? A chemical engineer. Both of them tricked. His heart-broken by children who do not love well. His money stolen. After awhile he shut off the meter, would not take my money. When I got out of the car I said,
“I will be praying for you peace”. I have been. I am. There are times when loving well lays itself before you. You know exactly what love is. Sometimes being heard and being loved are so close to the same thing that most of us cannot tell the difference.

A man I work with died this fall. I liked him very much. He was one of the sly and quiet empire un-settlers. He planted rogue gardens that went against master plans. He helped me collect cigarette butts to make a display about second-hand smoke because he hated what cigarettes did to people. He had tried to quit for years…cancer took him in the end.

I want to be like him in the ways he steadily and quietly did what was right for people, despite what the bureaucracy would suggest. Despite his own best intentions and worst outcomes. Let it be so in me. Most of the time, loving people means our own weakness is publicized, there is no hiding flaws if we are loving with all of ourselves.

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It is funny to me, the ease with which we speak about love, describe it like it is a simple thing, like we understand it at all.

What is love? The racing heart? The sweaty palms? The lust and the hunger? The sticky sweet voice? The hugs on your approach?

No. if mothering has taught me anything it is that I love the same with the stern voice as I do with a whispered I love you.

Love is in the patience. Love is not rushing a heart that just needs to catch up. Love is not looking around you, past you, through you. Love is in the waiting for you no matter how long it takes you to approach, how far off the prodigal might be. Love sits at the bedside of the dying, of those who don’t get better- are never healed.

Love is kind. It does not speak in acid tones but in encouragement. Love does not leave the other alone in the pain, love sits in the middle of it, moves in, digs in stiletto heels.

Love is not in the envious, the boasting, the pride. Love does not make you feel “less than” in its presence. It learns the art of confession, of apology. Love is not demonstrated by the insecure, love cannot exist when we are trying to prove ourselves.

Love is not in the push for self, or any agenda. Love flexes and moves,shapes itself around you. Love is in the way it forces itself into the jagged cracks, the broken pieces.

A heart can spin like a bottle but still end up pointing the right way and you prayed for this…but then forgot. Life is tedious in its unfolding and we don’t have the patience for a plan that looks more like eternity then a lifetime. Because Gods heart beats with the rhythm of forever while we force the beat of dying flesh. Because love…sometimes…means we just keep showing up, bringing all of ourselves. Love is long.

OH HI THERE! Joining with the five minute free write community…just to get the words flowing again!