my beloved

He came home, my love, from working on a frigid day and headed to the woodshed

so to keep the fire burning.

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Our routine hello and a kiss and he said: I’ll be right back.

He was.

Right back.

What are you doing? I thought you were going to get wood.

I was, but I came back.

Why?

To see you.

You were just here.

I know. But I love you.

You have captivated my heart… :::Song of Solomon 4

I laughed. Like it was silly.

Joked about it, even.

Gave him a quick kiss

and went back to the dishwasher.

So he told me to look at him.

So he could say that he loves me.

Honey. Really?

Yes. He said.

I just want you to know that I love you.

You are beautiful… :::Song of Solomon 6

And off he went.

To keep the fire burning.

And I watched after him.

How he wanted to love me.

How he wanted to be with me.

And I filled up with tears

and love

and thankfulness

and awe.

I realized, {thank You, Lord},

For that moment,

I had rejected him

when he spoke love to me.

I had rejected

the one who loves me.

the one who pursues me.

Come with me… :::Song of Solomon 4

The one He has given me to love:::

declined his love, like it wasn’t justified.

Like it wasn’t qualified::::

I put off :::

this one who desires to love me like He does.

Yes.

I refused the one who, by His grace, desires to love me like He does.

and so with a flippant chuckle and turn of my head,

I dismissed it.

Discarded it.

And he came back through the door, heavy with wood

and me:

heavy with heart.

and I said

I am sorry.

Honey, I am so sorry.

I love you….

Honey, I love you, too.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

And I stayed up in the night::: tossing:

Lord, do I do this to:::

to You?

Oh, Lord, do I do this to 

You?

Do I cast You off?

Do I reject You?

Do I believe You {love} me like You say You do?

Do I really believe what You tell me?

Do I soak in Your love- advances when You say I am righteous and lovely in Your eyes?

And he brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love… :::Song of Solomon 2

Do I translate that love into loving others the way You love me?

Do I?

And I knew the answer.

The truth of it….

How I can walk in condemnation when He has told me otherwise.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who live in Christ Jesus.  :::Romans 8

How I can walk in death when He has made me live.

but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead… :::Romans 6

How I can reject the Greatest.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… :::Matthew 22

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Lord, I am so sorry.

And then, it happens, so sweetly.

How He forgives

and how He calls me back to Him.

And He quiets me

with His love.

And He lifts His love- banner over me

And He calls me His own.

again

and again

and again.

Blessed be The Lord your God Who has delighted in you… :::1 Kings 10

giving Way

The truth is this, I said to her:

In all these prayed- about decisions so far, I’ve never felt more like

a woman.

{I have a wise friend who told me to write about that amid our conversation… and

I smiled and nodded at her, unsure.)

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So God created man in His own image… male and female He created them. And God                                                            blessed them.            ::: Genesis 1

I had mentioned to her who I had been, back then:

:::: and now

in the tumult of the Curse, bearing down on him and aching for who He had made me to be when the Garden was breathing fresh life and holiness.

Genesis 3

I told her… I had been:

less of myself

and less of Him.

And He:::

He had asked me,

in the cool of the day,

in the heat of my fragile independence

Where are you?

And I, with no good answer,

hid from Him.

I hid at my job.

I hid behind money I thought I needed.

I hid thinking over family goals and career goals and

I hid in church- works and smiles

I hid in my unbalanced marriage

all of it, thinking I could make it work :::

strained and stretched at the teetering edges

I hid behind the world

thinking I wanted to do it all.

That I could do it all.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the                                                  eyes… she took…    ::: Genesis 3

Because this world,

that’s what this spinning, upturned, downgraded world says.

Life- lies through hissing teeth:

Do.it.all.

:::::::::: bondage.

And so, one day, He told me to stop spinning.

and I whispered,

Here I am, Lord.

Nowhere to hide.

surrender.

and that word:

that word that makes a world- living woman {a woman like me} a tad nervous?

submission.

yielding.

giving way::::

and that was it.

giving way.

Giving way to He who knows me deep and wide.

He who created me from him as his helper.

I will make a helper fit for him…   ::: Genesis 2

He who breathed life- air fresh into the first lungs so that we could breathe Him.

:::::::::::::::

Giving way

to Garden– fresh life.

... and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground… and the Lord God planted a garden in Eden… and out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight… ::: Genesis 2

And the truth is this:

I’ve never felt more like a woman.

Set aside the homemaking and the homeschooling and the I’ll never have a minivan and the crafty days and the Pinterest browsing and church- supper baking and the new penchant for a good dishtowel…

This. This is not about that.

Here.

Here it is:

I’ve never felt more like a wife to this man who loves me and loves Him.

I’ve never felt more like a mother to these children who teach me while I teach them.

I’ve never felt more like a daughter

to the King of kings.

And it’s not because I quit my job {although, for me, it is}

and it’s not because I teach at home {although, for me, it is}

and it’s not because I spend more time thinking about hospitality {although it is}

and it’s not because I search through grocery sale flyers…

it’s because of

submission.

:::: obedience.

I pray, {Lord, in Your mercy and grace,} help me to yearn after more of who I am in You.

I pray, {please, Lord,} help me to love my husband more fully and wholly,

{::: He listens…}

And He.

He encourages and helps me, this independent, kicked-out-of-the-Garden- woman-wife to submit to my husband…

Because I know he toils and seeks after the One who made us.

and when I submit to him,

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.   ::: Colossians 3

the one who leads me in the Word and plays with our children and guides me in my messes and lifts my moods and shares in my prayers and relinquishes to his Father in heaven?

that, in turn,

that encourages me, demands me, to kneel down and yield myself

before Him,

For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by                                                                   submitting…                       ::: 1 Peter 3

and suddenly,

our life breathes together and we walk beside one another and we laugh and we snuggle and we pursue Truth and knowledge and wisdom in a way we hadn’t known…

::::: it’s the flawless dance of Creation He intended before the fruit was touched…

And it’s beautiful.

And there’s this glimpse of Jesus I see.

His love and his sacrifice for His own

how He redeems and fulfills and satisfies:::

and

how He submits willingly to His Father

and how He calls us to do the same.

and that,

that is not to be ignored.

And this yielding and opening and

giving way 

to Truth:::

is gracefully and simply beautiful.

And my independence?

That thing this world- woman craves and chases when my own deceitful heart gets in the way?

I remember.

I ask Him to help me remember His ultimate act of submission on the cross.

And I have no choice but to fall in – dependence on Him.

::::::::::::::::::::::::

and He nurtures and refreshes and emboldens and rallies us to press on…

::::::::::::::::::::::::

And I’ve never felt more

free.

Live as people who are free…   ::: 1 Peter 2

In the slow of things…

He takes time.

with all things.

because it’s who I thankfully think he is.

this little boy we have the gift of growing:::

alongside.

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I say to him, Let’s go. Get in the car. We gotta get going.

And he, he puts his boots on the wrong feet and finds two matchbox cars, one red, one gold and sticks them in his frayed little boy pocket and looks for his belt long after I say :

ok. Get your boots on! If you wanna wear a belt, find it now!

He will pause, look for the dog, pet a long good bye and wave to the fish and say I love you! See you later!

He strings his cowboy belt through the loops of his khaki cargos and meanders over to pull his dinosaur coat over his arms and rests awhile before he tries to tackle the zipper zipping.

ok! Lets go! Your sister is in the car! You ready?

He adjusts his silver longhorn belt buckle, tucks his pants into his boots, says almost Mama, almost and I sigh and look at the clock on my phone and I say, well, let me help you!?

And he says no, it’s ok, Mama, I just gotta do one more thing…

and he parks his ninja turtle scooter and “takes out the keys” and stuffs them in a pocket too and…

… Finally… ?

… Walks out the door…

and he grabs my hand…

and it’s this same kind of routine…

something slower I watch him grow in to…

and I’ve started to watch him now…

and I’ve started to watch my words more…

and I’ve started to slow with him…

and revel a bit…

how he walks out the door and he holds it for me… Almost every time…

::: this little man growing…

he lets the door close and then he looks up… Every time…

if it’s raining, he puts out his hand and cups the drops…

if it’s sunny he squints in the light and smiles…

if it’s night, he listens for frogs…

if it’s morning, he listens for birds…

and he slows me to listen, too,

while I fumble in my purse or make sure I locked the door…

do you hear the wind, Mama?

do you see that butterfly?

And I have to stop and I have to not sigh and I have to put my hands down in the dirt like he does when he sees that one prettiest pebble and I have to take time to stroll with him and see how he sees…

And it’s beautiful.

And so I wait in the moment of it…

While the world whirs by…

and nothing crashes down because I stop for a time…

The moment only seems more lovely, with sharper hues and sweeter breath…

and how can I not take a little time to slow with him?

to find the small things of joy?

errands can wait five more minutes…

we can catch three more snowflakes…

I can say goodbye to our cat, too…

Because time…

it’s so fleeting… and

It does not wait…

so why not slow… it… down…

I gotta slow it down…

I wanna slow it down…

while this little boy helps his mama grow.

:::

He has made everything beautiful in its time.   ::: Ecclesiastes 3:11a

Just for her

 

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I watched him wrap it up with a smile, just for her.

A dress, royal purple, glittering with silver and satin.

He slipped it into a bag with a heart felted on the front.

He wrote a note from his father-heart straight to her daughter-heart and set it down, left it waiting just for her.

She awakened slow and early and stumble-tripped down the hall stretching wild with hair and thoughts of a brand- new day dawning

She eyed it wide and happy and knew it was just for her.

Giggles spilled as the dress spilled sparkly and she held it close and waltzed a few steps in the sun.

:::Why did you give me this Daddy?

:::Read what I’ve written to you, Pumpkin.

And she saw the words, written just for her:

I was wondering if you would like to go out on a date with me tonight? For cocoa and pie? Just me and just you? This dress is for you to wear if you want to. I will see you later. I love you, Pumpkin. Love, Dad.

:::Sure, I wanna go… Yay, Daddy….. yay.  {smile.smile.smile.}

and he chuckled and mussed that wild hair and he calmed her sometimes-uneasy heart like only he can.

No one else can do that for her like he does.

                               {This thankful, joy-filled observer I am.}

How her eyes are shaped like his and they dance and glimmer alike when they hear good news.

How they walk with the same quite- confident stroll and how:::

when they are nose to nose and head to head, they are headstrong and heart-strong the same.

And I watch her grow and see her more like who he is

{and it’s this grateful surprise for me}

because I think he’s amazing

and she:::

:::she just amazes me.

And they walk out the door with this chitchat that’s theirs alone

his just-for-her love wells true

and he opens her door

and he smiles at me

and she waves at me

and I stand rooted in the moment, like I want it to keep it written-saved on a tiny prettiest- paper tied tight with a shimmering ribbon and slip it out and read it when my mommy-heart grows weary…

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

and she bursts joy as she bursts through the door

and I hear the conversation never did stop and there were sweet leftovers to enjoy

tomorrow and maybe even the next day,

and I say, leftovers, no, this will last forever::::

the way He spoke His Fatherly love deep into her needy heart…

the way He dressed her in royal purple and took her hand in His

the way He carried her away with laughter and chivalry

the way He wrote His Love Note for her to treasure and keep

the way He invited her to come away with Him and sing and dance and eat and drink ’til she was full

all of this, He did:::

just for her

How she begins to grow and know this father she has,

How she begins to grow and know this Father she has.

The one that will do anything just for her.

The One that did everything.

Just for her.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord… you shall be called My Delight is in Her… so shall your God rejoice over you…    :::Isaiah 62

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pressing.

As Jesus went, the people pressed around Him.  And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment and immediately her discharge of blood ceased… Jesus said, “Someone has touched Me…” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before Him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”  ::: Luke 8

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and:

on a morning barely light, while I stumbled over my slippers and my broken way, and gave my love a kiss and a thermos on the way out the door and I settled in to listen to the message in the quiet with my coffee and my bible and the my day-plan already spinning tired in my head:

The pastor, he spoke these words of God’s truth straight to my thought-whirling-weary heart and said something like this:

We have to “press our way through”.

We have to be “desperate enough to say I want to touch the hem of His garment”.

And I heard it.

And I replayed it.

And I inhaled it deep.

And I listened again.

And the tears welled.

That was it.

That thought.

The one that has been settling slow over three days past, that I hadn’t put into spoken word.

Like her.

That’s what I want for.

That’s what I hope for.

To be so singular in focus.

Like her.

To be like her:

To be faith-pouring- out like her.

To be proud- dumped- empty like her.

To be Him- only- truth- seeking like her.

To be on-my-knees-humbled-in-awe like her.

And her?

The way she hemorrhaged sin and blood twelve years.

How she lived lonely- lost on the fringe:

of life.

of community.

of hope.

and then was desperate.

desperate enough.

enough.

she had:::

enough.

And He knew she would come:

to bore a one-way-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel through the mobbed and dusted street to reach- touch the fringe

:::just the edge

of who He was.

Who He is.

She knew:::

it would be:::

::: enough.

To save her.

To heal her…

her once- forever- bleeding heart:::

that plagued her and followed her and chased her and shattered her and forced her to live less than who she was created to be.

And she knew.

He could make her whole.

She knew.

Just the hem…

Could hem her close to Him.

Comforted, close and kept.

So she reached.

and in her trembling before the King,

::: she found what He had called her to.

Hope.Joy.

Healing.

And, in just a while,

He would bleed for her.

Instead.

To heal:::

the hard- heaving : bound- up : fallen- down world

And, in forever- gifted grace, and abounding, love- filled mercy- words, He would say to us, like He said to her:

“Your faith has made you well; go in peace.”  ::: Luke 8

Press on.

Through the crowd.

Press on.

He loves you.

Reach for Him.

Be desperate for Him.

Taking her by the hand he said to her… “Little girl, I say to you, arise.”  ::: Mark 5

The Joy Fight

I boxed my flesh for joy in the morning.

The morning I woke upside down and floundering on the wrong side of the disheveled bed.

I woke up feeling alone and forgotten. Actually the first thing I said to myself. I’m alone.

Wallow-like in a pity- pride- pit of self and me- loathing and this human skin aching full of sloth.

It had been coming closer like that. Sliding in tiptoe- slow and cantankerous and wrinkled with empty.

I had seen it coming. I told him and I told Him and I said help me hold it off, yet I laid right down in the mud of it ’til it slip-covered me comfortable, smooth and cool.

Deep, my soul knew I am never alone and my Jesus bears witness to just that.

:::: glory.     

                         

                                                                                  The Lord will fight for you… :::Exodus 14

 

But my head? My heart? My wincing flesh? Alone.

So I wanted Him, needed Him, implored Him to step in the ring with me.

Really, He said, Enough’s enough of this, five minutes awake and three weeks of this, we are done.

I didn’t make you for this, He reminded.

 

…and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of The Lord shall give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the  hand of The Lord… :::Isaiah 62

 

He pep-talked me in His Word.

 

{Oh, read Psalm 31! Aloud!}

 

So He helped me lace up my gloves.

Man, did they feel heavy.

Or did I just feel weak?

 

                                                       … for the joy of the Lord is your strength   :::Nehemiah 8

 

The fight for joy.

Some days it just is.

And I cannot do it alone.

Alone.

I am never.

And when there is a knockout and the countdown’s on, He brings us to our feet.

When we hit the ropes, He bounces us back.

When faces stream with sweat and blood and fear grips and we dodge jabbing fists of doubt…

It’s His blood that covers us.

When we are punch-weary and worn-down beat-down and scratch-throat thirsty before we go another round…

He is our living water.

Because the canvas is His.

And He has won the fight.

Our joy.

Our joy is in Him.

Fight the good fight… :::1Timothy 6

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Music.

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Her eyes welled to brimming when she didn’t have music class today.

The day was warm, thawed out and heaving a lifting fog on an odd-weathered January morning. I tried to focus on pictures of glistening drips of sunlight caressing a branch that days before was burdened with heavy snow and heavier ice. And I couldn’t quite focus in. To really see its resilience in the sparkle of the sun bearing down on the winter-beat earth. The way the branch gladly bounced each time a shining drop teetered on the edge and broke free to the ground.

Instead I tried to drink it into my self.

The beauty of the second before the shadows moved just so slight and the brilliance shifted from the trees. The light. The warmth. The glow of the mist blanketing the rays. I turned around and walked back ginger-like and stiff-legged, afraid to slip and nervous I’d forget.

Kids in the car, grocery list, snacks made and woodstove fed full, we melted out of our driveway and off to school. She was excited. To see her friends, to sing and giggle, to learn notes that she sometimes can’t remember but belts out with confidence in her voice that her momma loves to hear. I dropped her off at the door and drove the circle to park and scooped her brother and had plans to meet her in the building because I spent too much time snapping morning-glory moments a while before. But she met me on the tar.

Head down and blue eyes blue.

“Oh, Momma, there’s no music today.”

And my heart said I know.

And we came home after errands and library and a lollipop and she settled in to her studies and I hung laundry and answered messages and thought about dinner and sat down up-ended and down-right hardened and tired and I listened, but I couldn’t hear it either.

And my eyes filled and my lashes fluttered wet and I finished dishes and got ready for the next thing, but I looked around for something to dance to.

Because I know it’s there.

I just can’t breathe it in right now.

I hear it when they laugh and it echoes smiling in this heart of mine. I see it when I pick up my camera and capture the way a petal falls folded on the stem. I read it when David unabashedly praises the One who made him. I feel it when a lovely momma I know spoke deep encouragement in my ear.

I know it’s there.

Somewhere.

The melodies that wrap me snug to Him and secure in faith and keep these two left feet waltzing.

But I can’t seem to touch it right now.

But I know it’s there.

And I will trust that. That it’s there.

While it’s quiet.

I will trust Him.

While it’s silent.

Today.Tomorrow.

I will wait.

For the music.

Be merciful to me O God,  for in You my soul takes refuge… I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me… my heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast! I will sing and make melody… Awake O harp and lyre… I will sing praises to You for Your steadfast love is great to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds… Psalm 57