Looking for Advent in Christmas

The counter is littered with Christmas sticky. White frosting right from the plastic tub. Orange and red and green peppermint wrappers in tufts of crinkle. Graham crackers adhered to paper plates, white snow cement in double and triple story. One house is for a dog. The other is modern, kind of Eichleresque. The other is a railroad car; it’s the second attempt after the sleek barn design crashed to five pieces when it got dropped on the floor.

This can’t be what it means to celebrate advent at Christmas, can it?

Christmas adventI ignore the mess and focus on the task of rolling out sticky gingerbread dough. This is a new recipe, from Abby’s pink princess cookbook, and the dough leaves clumps of brown goo on our fingers as we transfer the funny, weird shaped men to the metal sheet and sprinkle them, faces and toes and all, with sugar. (I do not have the patience, nor the time, for detail. There will be no cute two eyes nor little vests nor buttons on these men, oh no.) When we are finished I am on my hands and knees, damp cloth in hand, collecting errant sugar sprinkles promising to stick to socks and bare feet.

In advent we wait on and watch for Jesus, yet why is it such a fight to slow down?

There are boxes of Christmas decorations I didn’t get out this year. Not the cranberry wreath I usually hang on the oval mirror. Not the votives. Not even the two nativity sets (dare I say that?), the wooden one the kids used to grasp with little fingers, the ceramic one from Justin’s family. I consider the situation: Our little house is more filled than ever with sprawling children-turned adolescents and a dog that’s in front of me everywhere I turn and I trip over wherever I walk. The boxes sit out for a few days, right under the attic door. And then I surrender, convinced that less is more for us this year. (It is helpful that my Abby, who holds opinions about decorations, agrees). And heave them back up onto the attic floor.

This December feels like it has been busier than most for our family, but maybe I feel this way every year? Maybe it is the same challenge each of us face every day, no matter what season:

Am I choosing space to be with God? Am I aware of my missing Him? Am I working/walking alongside Him? Am I taking time to recognize the whisper of His voice?

Christmas advent

Christmas advent

A few days ago Justin asked me if I would listen for what God’s whisper might be for the men in his group. They were coming over to our home for the evening, celebrating Christmas together with stories and laughter, cheers and encouragement. I had met only a few of them before, in person. I didn’t know their stories, their wounds, their struggles and victories. But they were coming into our home; they were going to fill this place, the home God has given us as a way to love people, and I wanted to hear what God might have to say.

And I sat down. I was eager to hear, to listen. I realized I was longing to listen for God’s voice. I was longing to hear truth whispered to my heart. It took my husband’s invitation to search God’s heart for these dear brothers to remind me how I am made, how God’s voice, his heart and love, is what fuels me. It is my favorite thing to do.

How do we forget what we love in this season of waiting, of expecting? How do we forget the whisper that makes our heart sing?

It’s easy to forget, isn’t it?

This is how I want to spend these next days of Advent: slowing, listening, waiting. In the midst of busy, seek peace. In the midst of messy, be okay. When life feels especially full, we can just take that deep breath, wait on the one who knows who we are and what we need. And I am going to do this in the midst of the circumstances that are sometimes less than quiet and peace-filled.

Jesus, help us slow this Advent, at Christmas.

You can do this, dear Jesus. You are here, as we look to you. You are here, rescuing us from hustle. Slow our hearts. Right now .  . . Slow us down. Together we pray, Amen.

How are you doing this Christmas season? How can I pray for you ?

 

How to Be the Storyteller

[mk_dropcaps style=”simple-style”]I[/mk_dropcaps]t’s Sunday afternoon, and water fell from the heavens into California for an hour this afternoon. I have a tobacco candle burning on the side table, and the house is quiet. The family room, back near the kitchen (where I am not) is a crazy mess. Yesterday Justin and I started taking canvases off the walls and rearranging furniture, and there’s laundry on the couch from the boys’ Sunday-morning dive to find their favorite shorts to wear to church. I am ignoring the dishes in the kitchen sink. And the room remains in disarray, with a short wooden cabinet housing Justin’s fly supplies – tiny hooks and fuzzy colorful bits of fabric and string – sitting in the strangest of places, cock-eyed right next to the kitchen island. I am choosing to ignore the crazy and sit for a few moments on this Sunday, instead.

So I retreat to the living room, my feet up on our old pine bench, my dog underneath my legs, trying to read a book. Oliver, our middle son, runs over from the mess of the other room, every few minutes, to test out a joke or a brain trick he’s just learned. He laughs. I am answering each joke, each question, the opposite from what he expects, he tells me. I either say the wrong thing, or I move in a crazy way. He cracks me up. I need this quiet, but I need this boy’s smile, too.

Sitting here, with a book now at my side, watching my boy running back and forth, gets me thinking about story – the impact of another person’s life on our own. For stories are more than just words, aren’t they? They are the choices we make and the experiences that shape us.

You don’t have to write down your story to be a storyteller. You don’t need to speak this story of yours aloud – always in words – for the story to shine wide and loud.

Be the storytellerThis boy of mine, his silly antics, his loving hugs, are shaping me. It makes me think that each of us are taking in each other’s stories just by living our own. With whom we spend our time, our life, is affecting how we perceive the world. Thus, these experiences with other people are shaping the way we live – and live out – our own story.

Sometimes we are learning the stories through books, through words someone typed up. And sometimes we are learning them from what someone told us – her sentence, his explanation – weaving together meaning we tuck in tight and keep.

But for a story to be taken in by another person, it needs to be shared somehow, through the sharing of a life, and not necessarily through words. For a story to be told, we need to be among people. We need to live alongside one another. How you live and what you say with your actions – what you say and don’t say, what you do and don’t do – is the telling of story that shapes the listener too.

Consider what story you write with your life.

How to be a Storyteller

We sense the Holy Spirit through our collecting and writing – our living. These are the stories of the body of Christ, the children of God.

The light is golden now outside the window. It filters through the the tall redwood branches of my neighbors’s front yard. It blankets, this light, covering the green and the amber leaves of the flowering plum trees beneath the majestic redwood’s trunk. And it is gone, this light, as quickly as it came. And now there is a leaf falling, like a butterfly fluttering to earth. And an airplane is breaking sound barriers overhead. And I need to get up now and fetch Abby from her playdate.

Justin is about to come in the door, too, with Jackson, who was playing lacrosse. And I sit here a moment longer and am grateful for this story. The story of a daughter among many daughters who craves quiet and community.

I would have no story to write if community wasn’t whispered into my heart.

There it is. There is the story. The story of a girl and her Father and her boy and his father, and the children of God, the church, all collected and watching each other live out these lives of trial and hardship and joy and beauty. All story. All pages of hope and light in this larger story God is telling. I want to keep writing. And noticing. For how we live and we share our story affects the story of everyone around us.

Don’t you think?

Be the StorytellerLive it out, dear one. Live this story of yours with confidence and glory. You are made to write one uniquely and so, so beautiful.

Live with courage, so your story can be told through your pure living of it – and the other people taking it in.

Let us notice you. Let us read your story.

Let us understand our own story better by walking alongside you and learning how our stories are similar and true and different too.

We need stories that stir us, examples of living that are raw and honest. We need stories that don’t run from truth, that are unafraid to reveal the dark corners, let God’s light illuminate the shadows where we feel no light could shine.

Whose stories shape you? How are you telling yours? Who is reading your story right now?

Remember, it is not just in words through which your life speaks. Go out this day, brave one. Be stunningly you. Notice who is around you, who is influencing your story and how you are influencing theirs. There is a story you get to tell, with the Holy Spirit in you – a story all your own. But you don’t do it alone.

How to be a Storyteller

Consider how you are shaping the people around you, and how they are shaping you. Ask God how He wants to help you write your story – how, this day, the choices that make up your story can be products of the Spirit – love joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This is the story – your unique and true story, with the stamp of the Holy Spirit on you. That’s the story we want written. That’s the story the community around us needs to read.

Help us tell a good story this day, God.

And I wrap my gray scarf around my neck, pull on my boots, and go out to pick up my daughter across town.

Lessons from a Photographer: Heaven & How To See

We got our family photos taken Saturday, the first time in nine years that we’ve smiled for a professional photographer. The kids had some funny idea that a photo session means wearing stiff clothes and going into a hall in the church and sitting in front of a green screen while people you’ve never seen before make you stand super close to your siblings and put your arms in your lap and sit up straight and do your best to smile.

I guess the kids expected some family version of picture day at school.

Lessons from a Photographer on Heaven and how to seeSo, when we were on the dirt and pavement in East Palo Alto, a city with grit, and leaning against an old machine shop across from a food truck and a barking dog chained to a camper, Ollie says under his breath, “I didn’t expect this,” and I ask him later what he meant.

He tells me about the last time we got our family photos taken – for the church directory – and he and Jackson wore matching plaid shirts. We went into a little back room with lots of curtains and screens and smiled stiffly at people we didn’t know. This time around we’re in jeans and boots and invited by our beautiful friend Nicole, the photographer, to be ourselves, a family. Yeah, this photo shoot is a whole different thing.

While it will be a couple of weeks until we see the photos from the shoot, the photos are secondary to the experience we had of being with Nicole in that late afternoon as that golden sun started to think about going down.

When you see someone doing something they love, you know it. You can feel it. What we’ll remember most is the experience of seeing Nicole see.

Lessons from a Photographer on Heaven and How to SeeWe won’t remember the bits of gravel on the sidewalk, or the kindness of the food truck drivers as we leaned against their counter. Not the excitement of the dog straining against its chain, or the orange pylons covering the mysterious metal door in the middle of the sidewalk. Not the warm sunlight as it shone on the dirt and the weeds, or the horns honking from the queue for the food truck on a Saturday night.

We’ll remember this: Nicole’s smile. Nicole’s voice. Nicole’s joy in being in the presence of her Father as she created beauty with Him.

As she took photographs, one thing became clear: Nicole was participating in the more that comes in doing what we are made to do with the Creator who made us.

When you glimpse a daughter of God hanging out with her Father, you never forget it.

It will always leave you breathless. It will always make you long for more of what He has. It will always make you think about what it is that you, uniquely, love to do.

What you love to do with God is how you worship, how you experience joy, how you feel God’s presence in you. And it will always remind you one thing for certain: being with God is always good.

Lessons from a Photographer on Heaven and how to see“Oh, guys, you don’t even know!” Nicole said when she looked down at the viewfinder on her camera – a smile from ear to ear and brown eyes sparkling. We were captivated. She was seeing something we couldn’t see. But we believed her, and we want to see like that, too.

Witnessing her joy in being with the Father, we did see; we got to see pieces of heaven, too.

Nicole, in flip-flops and denim shorts, brown hair blowing as she stood in the breeze and the warm light of sundown shown on her face, we could imagine what she saw and where she was. She was here and not here.

She was in sacred space, wide-open space, where heaven meets earth, walking on holy ground.

She was with her Father in a garden all their own. What she saw was beauty deeper than what we can see with our eyes, and it was a beauty you can feel and hear and taste. It was a beauty she was in. And she got to do it with her God.

I need this in my life. I need people around me who see God. I need people around me who see Him by choosing to do things with their Father. I need people around me who desire intimacy with Him, want to experience beauty with Him, want to not just hear about the wide-open space that is God but live in it, inhabit it. I need people around me who have tasted heaven and who show me what it looks like to be in the presence of God in the normal, regular, surprising beauty of a Saturday night on a sidewalk as the sun is going down.

We can do this, you know.

Lessons from a photographer: on heaven and how to seeWe can taste this heaven here, now, in the sons and daughters who choose to say yes to a life doing the thing they are made to do with Him – using their talents to love people in the unique way in which God has made them to love.

We are desperate for heaven. We are desperate to eat of it and drink of it. We are filled up when we are in the presence of people who inhabit that holy ground.

Come, Father, show us, in the regular moment of this ordinary day your miracle of your beauty. Let us be people who see more than what is right in front of us. Let us be people who live knowing there is more to beauty than what we can see with our eyes; true beauty we experience with our hearts. Let us grab your hand and go further in.

Surround us with people who show us your face. Let  your light shine upon us. Let us shine that light right on back, with you.

Who, in your life, helps you taste heaven, helps you be in the presence of God?

P.S. Tomorrow (Thursday) is the last day to enter the giveaway for Jonah Werner’s album, Run. Enter here.

Jonah Werner’s Run, the New Album I Love {a Giveaway}

Jonah Werner Run

Once upon a time, there was a Colorado boy who wrote and sang and created community around the truth that we are whom Christ came to save.

Jonah Werner came to know Christ through Young Life and has spent more than a decade pursuing the heart that his Father gave him, connecting other hearts to God through stories of real life, truth and music.  He writes songs and travels internationally leading worship at Young Life camps because he doesn’t want people — and especially youth — to not know Jesus’ love.

When a heart becomes saved you can’t help but sing.

And how can you not encourage everyone to sing along with you?

When you hear Jonah sing, your heart recognizes more than just sound –  a guitar, a harmonica, a voice bringing laughter, joy, and hope.  You are gathered up in stories of love pursued and love lost – songs of a man seeking a Savior to come and save.  The songs are the invitation, the prayer we each sing:

Rescue me, if you’re out there.

Do you love me, do you need me, do you want me?

I’m so lonely, can’t you see I’m just looking for someone to rescue me?*

We each need to be rescued.

Jonah Werner RunWe are each wondering if someone will be there when we really need them to be.

The words carry, and I am that little girl again, the one who longs to be known, to be seen, to feel she is special and desired and adored.

That little girl doesn’t leave; she is always there, asking the same questions.  And I am grateful for these songs that speak to what is most true.

This Savior, who does the rescuing, reminds me I have never needed to save myself.  We all fall and need to be gathered up, to be reassured that our questions matter and are heard.

And that is what Jonah loves to sing about too.

What inspires his heart for song more than anything is the sharing of these questions that pierce the soul.

What if I fall, will you catch me?

What if I call, will you hear me?

What if I trust, will you help me?

What if I’m drowning, will you save me?

Having questions heard offers more than just answers.

These are the questions buried, the questions that prompt the aches, the deepest desires of the heart rising up.  And this is how we hear music, letting ourselves  in this world He has made, through the questions.  This is the meaning we seek.

Our hearts all recognize and heed the same song.

Our family loves Jonah, and I couldn’t help but share his music with you. Want to win a free copy of Run, Jonah’s latest album that just released last week? 

Jonah Werner Run

I’m giving away four copies of Jonah’s album, Run. (Your choice – digital or hard copy.)

I will announce the winners next Thursday, October, 15.

You can enter the giveaway right here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And here is another post I wrote about Jonah’s song, “Rain your Mercy”. It’s on his new album, Run (that you can win!) It’s the song that makes me cry every. single. time I hear it. Oh, and jump up and dance, too. And don’t forget to check out Jonah’s other albums and let me know what you think.

Jonah Werner Run Giveaway Pin

What questions is your heart asking?  How are you longing to be rescued? 

* Lyrics from “What If I Fall?” from Jonah Werner’s album Fight

When You Can’t Believe God’s Words, I Love You

She looks at the words on the page and waits for them to sink in. It’s not that she doesn’t believe the words could be true. It’s not that she thinks the words she hears from God can’t bring hope, can’t produce good.

But these words she hears – now that she is hurting, now that she is overwhelmed – she questions whether or not they are enough. Before she realizes it, she weighs “I love you” from God against what she wish he would go ahead and say: “I am going to help you and bring an end to this discomfort, this unknown, right now.”

When you can't believe God's words I love you.Is that what we want most from God? Do we want fewer “I love you’s” and more “This is the solution to your problem; do this, now”? Uncertainty is uncomfortable. Discomfort feels like our enemy.

If we had a choice, would we tend to avoid uncertainty and discomfort, at the expense of the faith of the heart?

I can so easily forget that the things I am most uncertain about are not the things I need to care about most. Yet, in the midst of depression or cancer, in the midst of experiencing abuse or poor self-image, we can trick ourselves into believing the lie that sneaks in, insidious and slow: “God’s ‘I love you’ isn’t good enough. God’s ‘I am here’ isn’t going to do the job.” We struggle to surrender control of what we can’t, and we make ourselves believe we are powerless, defenseless – pawns in a game we felt we never agreed to play.

I love you. You’re okay. I am here.

He didn’t say when the pain was going to end.

I can be the strong one. You can count on me.

He didn’t say for how long I would feel so awful, so sick, so weak.

You can get through this. I will give you wisdom and remain with you. Trust in me.

He didn’t say if the money is going to come in or if I am going to make the right decision. I may totally fall.

So, what prevents us from believing God’s love is enough for us?

When you can't believe God's words, "I love you".

Why is a lie that makes no sense – we should pursue certainty in what we can’t control, rather than have faith in the reality of God’s love – so easily believed?

I wonder if this is part of the problem: we convince ourselves that God’s love is distant from us when we are hurting. Unconsciously, we make God’s love something that doesn’t apply to our lives. Sure, we think, Scripture may bring comfort; God’s words may temporarily assuage fears, offer hope. Yet, we can easily find ourselves doubting that God’s love is more than just words on a page.  What feels most real is this: I am overwhelmed; I am desperate; I can’t imagine how this pain will ever subside. We forget that the reality of God’s love, represented in Scripture and heard, oftentimes, by his whisper in our hearts, in prayer, is the one and only thing we can count on.

God’s I love you is more than a claim. God’s I am here is more than a promise. God’s you are my beloved is more than a hope.

It is truth – truth cemented in the reality of a King who came as Word in flesh. It is his flesh, God’s I love you, that is the one certainty of our lives.

The thing is, while we may oftentimes feels overwhelmed by the pain of this world, it is God’s Word that gives us strength. While we may feel we are too broken, too weary, too incompetent to live a life in faith, it is God’s Word that gives us power. Our weapon used in breaking the lie that God’s love is not certain? It is Jesus, the Word in flesh. This is why words whispered to our hearts from God – and, most accurately, words born of Scripture – are more than words. Words are more than sound heard through the air, more than story read from a screen, more than ink design on a page.

God’s word is a person who fought and died on our behalf, and who fights for us, sword in hand, still.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

When you can' believe God's words, "I love you".

If the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, if it can cut through more than the temporal – destroy the lies of the enemy we so easily believe – can’t we believe God’s Word to us is a better promise to believe in than false certainty? The only certainty we have, in fact, is Jesus, God’s love.

God, when we are desperate and overwhelmed, we want to hear you; yet we find ourselves struggling to accept what you don’t say as much as what you do. You say you are with us, but you don’t promise our circumstances will ever change. Help us be okay with that – believe in your words, your whispers to us, your heart for us. Help us trust in what you say, as much as what you don’t say, too.

Words can count for everything or for nothing. When we are desperate for hope, the words God speaks to our heart, his I love you is more than a string of words. God’s I love you is Jesus. Together, let’s cling to God as our sustenance, our strength. This is how words have meaning. His Son come down. His flesh our food. His blood our drink. His words we believe although cannot see.

That’s what certain.

 

How to Believe in a God You Can’t See

Curious how faith is like a hummingbird some days. Zipping here. Hovering. Then flitting away. I can forget God, so easily. And then remember him again, a few minutes later. What patience he has with me. I wonder if this is faith at all.

Faith is believing in what you can’t see? I can struggle to see God even in the tangible.

How to believe in a God you can't see.

How to believe in a God you can't see.

How to believe in a God you can't see.

How to believe in a God you can't see.

We are given a challenge: set our heart on the things above while not ignoring both the struggle and the joy of the present.

Train our eyes, our heart, to see you, God.

I like imagining heaven. I think about how we will see each other, so differently, how true beauty will be made manifest, how we won’t be distracted by the physicality of things, as we are now. Beauty will be radiating in ways we could never before perceive. We will see God with new eyes, too, his magnificence infusing everything. We will no longer be blind to him, in the ways he is here, with us, in all moments, in all things.

I want  faith that stays and does not fly away, distracted by this need, this desire, this dissatisfaction in what I can and cannot see. 

I want faith that stays. I want to believe in a God I cannot see.

 

How to Chase Down Blue Moons

How to chase down blue moons.

My daughter sends me a message on my phone on Friday night. She is at her grandparent’s house, my mom and dad’s, spending a week in the same house where I grew up, with the almond tree boughs bending heavy for harvest. “I want to see the moon with you.” The blue moon, the second full moon in a month, glowing round over orchards where my kids now run and help my dad with scooping almonds from rows on the ground. The moon that made my girl sad ’cause I wasn’t with her to see it.

“I want to see it with you.”

And I think about these summer days, flying like those dandelions seeds from the power of our own breath, journeying far, where sunlight shines bright and we squint our eyes and can no longer see. Where these days go I surely cannot see.

Our little house this summer has been a haven of all things. Laughter and anger. Friendship and strife. We come together and we go apart and we stay. In all these days it’s the coming together that is consistent, two brothers with wood and glue and drafting plans, building a model house in our backyard, the model house they may live in someday. A brother and sister, a mother and daughter, a father and daughter and sons creating chaos in the kitchen, a tournament of cooking madness, with six dishes being prepared, for a family competition, at once. The days full and loud and long and fast. I hang on tight and try to will myself to remember a moment, and the next, and realize I’m surely, oh yes, going to forget it.

Oh, the days we wish would end until they do and then we wish we could go back and live the moments all again.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

How to chase down blue moons.

I can get afraid of time going by. I struggle with it not being my enemy, a scribbled note on a post-it I’ve forgotten to heed: Notice this day.  Be grateful, right now, for you are here, right now. What more do you want or need?

And that’s what it is, the problem: I forget what I need. I forget what I’m missing. And I can’t find what I’m missing while I’m being afraid of doing the wrong thing and making sorry use of the life I’ve been given. This day. It is only this day.

I ache for time to not matter so much, for heaven’s time, when there are no ticking clocks or Google calendars or beeping phones. I imagine time in heaven all stretched out, a blanket of glory and song and light, a place where the circle wraps me on up and I am singing and not alone and my Father is where I can see him and feel him and smell him. He is all around. How do I make sense of these days in this now, with the rhythm of a day being more than what I can measure, and my measuring apparatus totally wonky still?

When our girl tells us about the moon and how we need to get out of the house and see it, we know we need to pay attention. You can feel it in your bones sometimes, when something amazing is happening and you better get on an’ hurry up so you don’t miss that big ‘ol amazing thing that is making the whole world just pause and ooh and ahh. And then there is the amazing thing we don’t ever see and we didn’t even know we missed.

But this thing, this moon rising–just even because of the name–blue moon–we ran on out the door and craned our necks to try to see some glowing orb in the sky. But nothing. We couldn’t see it.

We thought about getting on the roof to see it. We knew our girl was out there in the orchards with my mom and dad and her cousins, three hours away, and they were walking down rows of trees and picking up and eating still-hot almonds up off the ground in the dark night under the light of the blue moon. And I knew the moon was where they could see it.  But we couldn’t.

We couldn’t see it, not with the houses all pushed up around us in our neighborhood of fences and cement and telephone poles. So we jumped in the car with the dog and we drove to where we could see. And there it was, shining bright just like our girl said. And I took a grainy awful photo with my phone and sent it to her and told her, “Yes, baby, I see it. I am seeing it with you.”

Let's chase down blue moons.

And I just have to believe that some of those moments we chase down and fight for are the moments God has to appreciate a bit, too. Maybe we don’t need to be afraid of what we’re missing. But, all the same, knowing beauty is right here, right in front of us, and not being able to see it, makes fighting for it, worth it. Even if, in heaven, that beauty we are so desperate for right now? It will be all around.

How are you chasing down blue moons?

The EverSong: How God Comes Near

How God comes nearI will close my eyes and find I am by myself. And I will close my eyes and I will see You.

I tell Justin in our little tent in Yosemite, a few nights ago, two days before our anniversary, how I am in this place–this wild majesty stacked up around me, so unreal and perfectly true, and I don’t feel You close to me. And I tell Justin I am okay with that.

I wonder if I am.

A few years ago I walked these same mountains and I felt You on my skin, your touch on my cheek. I smelled You, ever song I breathe in.

How God comes near

I tell Justin I am okay with not feeling You wild and tender next to me. I tell him I know You are here all the same. It feels weird, unfamiliar, to say it aloud.

Perhaps it is my experience of knowing You, of hearing You, of feeling You in my very bones, in the rhythm of my breathing as I move, that makes me feel still whole, when I am far from You. I am your girl found but wandering, a daughter whose feet walk sure but miss the love song that You ever sing.

Oh, God, ever sing.

How God comes near, even when He feels far away. Read more:

It has just turned dark, the moon the slightest sliver, with the brightest star to its right. We watch the lightning strike the cliffs miles away, counting ’til your thunder pounds the dusty land. Come, God. Rain. Rain.

So we put up the rain fly and we can’t see your stars anymore when we lie on our backs in the tent, Jackson, Oliver, and Abby in their tent six inches away. So my eyes fix on the nylon of the ceiling of our tent, and I tell Justin how in all these trips this summer–to the rivers of Utah and then to the waves near California and then to the granite cliffs of Yosemite–I walk into these canvases of You and I know You are near, but I feel I can’t find You, all the same.

But I’m okay. I’m okay.

You are here, despite me. Right?

How God comes near

How God comes near.

So I lie in the dark and Justin listens and then we close our eyes and stay in the silence for a while and then You come. You come, and I’m not even praying. You come, and I’m not even talking to You. You come, and I’m not even asking You to help me, to gather me up, to take your daughter and whisper love again.

Again. Again.

You show me in pictures like You do now when I write–the book we write together these days, the one where you ask me to trust myself. You can describe the pictures I show you. I have to trust myself, the daughter that has You in her. I have to trust myself–that I am so loved by You, that You are here, even when I can’t hear You. I have to trust myself–that You are holding me even when I am floundering and I am searching and I am lost ever deep, where I have forgotten there is light.

How God comes near.

How God comes near


Show us You again, like the first time. We need reminding, sometimes, we are not alone. Show us You again, as if we’ve never yet seen your face, or heard your voice, or believed we are worthy, so adored, so held.

Grab our hands again, my God. Grab our hands and show us how You are here, despite what we do, despite how we feel. Grab our hands and walk with us. Show us your rhythm, your heartbeat, your eversong dance with You.

Home.


And here in the tent, I can’t help but cry. For You are filling it up, now. You are filling up the tent so there is no other space left, and I don’t deserve You. Oh, God, how You love, how  You sing, how You bend low and show us what you see.

We want to see.

The next morning, the light is bright and sparkling on the mountain. I unzip the tent and crawl out while everyone else still snuggles down in their bags, and I see You. You are on my skin and You are in the air and You are singing. Oh, you are singing.

Oh, God, I’ve missed You.

I have told you it is okay to not feel close to You, but really, I hate it so, so much. I don’t want to be far from You. Let me be willing to fight for being with You.

How God comes near

How God comes near. North Dome rainbow.

Here we are, Father. Collect us again. Gather us again. Sing to us again. Surprise us with your love. Show us your eversong, the mountain shouting into the heavens your glory, You painting blue and light and wild love song all over this crazy canvas sky.

How are you this day, friends? Join me in praying for eversong, our Father finding us and pulling us in close?