When You Crave Quiet, And Whispers Of Hope.

I have been craving quiet lately. I’ve been taking an extra few minutes before I emerge from underneath my duvet in the morning, just listening to nothing more than the sound of my breath. (It gives the impression it’s wonderful and insightful, until I fall back to sleep and wake up late!)

Dishes and laundry are usually accompanied by a playlist, but the past few weeks I have let silence be my companion. Even last week, when I was sick with a cold, I welcomed the silence a sore throat and scratchy voice afforded. I’ve listened less to social media, more to the musings of my own heart and the updates in my spirit. I think it’s because of the season.

In the quiet, we listen for the new things, the things we’ve forgotten, and the things that change us.

Everything is waking (even if we thought it would never come) and we’ll miss it if we don’t take time to stop and listen. Spring is a call to quiet, to listen to the earth as it keeps its promise, responds to the creators call and breaks open with new life.

I drove in the almost-quiet this morning to an appointment. Rain was falling in a steady, insistent beat on the roof  and the wipers were busy keeping time. While I was waiting at a stop light, a church sign caught my attention. They’re having a pancake breakfast this week, for Palm Sunday. I spent the rest of the drive remembering.

I have purchased fresh palms for waving as part of many, many services. More years than I can remember we traced little hands on bright green paper and fashioned palm fronds for Sunday school. My memories are a sharp contrast to my craving for quiet. Palm Sunday is loud, and boisterous, accompanied by shouts of  Hosanna!

{“Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” John 12:13}

  But on those days in Jerusalem, what began with shouts of praise and accolade, turned to cries of “crucify him” and then silence. I wonder if Mary sat and listened to nothing more than the sound of her breath and her tears? And all the things the disciples knew, but were afraid to believe. All the words He had spoken about returning and the kingdom, had they taken root? Had they gone deep enough in their hearts to offer up hope even in the midst of silence and grief?  

Because whether it’s a snowstorm  in April or a huge stone placed in front of a tomb,

the deep roots never doubt.

And maybe Spring is a call to listen to the promise in us, to the roots of hope that lay deep in our spirit. It’s the call of the creator urging new life. His body broken for us means new life can break open in us. In the silence there are whispers of hope. Those roots, they’re covered with love. Infinite, extravagant, unconditional Love. Love that lived and died and moved a stone for us. 

Sunday will be the beginning of holy week, and whatever that means for you, can we settle in to this… 

Can we walk through this week, making time for quiet? When we get to Friday can we take time to listen with only the sound of our breath and our tears? Can we let the deep roots remind us, there are always whispers of hope? Can we walk through these days hearing His heartbeat like never before: We. Are. Loved.

Let’s allow this Easter break us open to new freedom, life and light in our good God.  

     Walking with you in everyday Grace, 

 

{Five Minute Friday} -Slow

My mother used to use the phrase “Slower than molasses, climbing uphill in January.” She was referring to my ability to finish a task I didn’t want to do. But I like slow. 

I like the early morning waking when there isn’t a litany of to-do’s ahead of me. I love the slow creak of the swing on a sultry summer night. There is something soothing about the slow boil of soup on the stove and time to sit, read, talk and listen as an evening slips slowly by.

There is value in slow 

I’m usually caught in the quick lane. Life is anything but idle. There are always things to be done, timelines to follow and the tyranny of the urgent. When I wake, I’m usually running ahead of myself, before my feet hit the floor. 

The slow, it seems, needs to be found, etched out, intentional. A deep breath in the middle of a five yard sprint. Minutes of time stolen from the hours, to stop and really look, listen and learn. The empty gift of an hour we refuse to let fill with a stream of crazy.  

There’s beauty in slow

The stillness, the purposed slowing of things, gives time for reflection, consideration and simply being. 

I cannot stop the waves from crashing to the shore in rhythmic insistence but I can stand beside them, still. I can walk along them, slow. I can lean into the one that sets them in motion and know who it is that stands outside of time and inside all the busy. 

I can be still.

    Walking with you in everyday Grace,

{So, full disclosure, I just couldn’t stop at 5 minutes, it was more like 9! I’m just too wordy!} 

When You Need A Reminder

They’re sitting quietly in the back of the van, which is unusual for six and nine year old boys. I take the quiet moment and use it to talk because we have things we need to discuss. I tell these sweet boys, we need to come up with a plan for our after-school time.

The last two days have been too full of crazy, and they need a reminder. I love our time together, it’s a good, fun, safe time. But, it is neither fun nor safe to argue, fight and hurt each other. When I ask them if they agree, there is only quiet and nodding heads.

 The stoplight turns red, and I peer behind me at their thoughtful faces. “So, what do you think?” I ask. What could we do to make sure our time together is great and you are in a good place when mom comes to pick you up?”

The light turns green and we are halfway down the next block before there is a small voice from the littlest in the back seat. “We could be not so rough with each other?”I smile at him in the rear-view and tell him that’s a wonderful idea!  While we weave our way home, we keep working on the plan. We chat about brothers and how love is important.

“Sometimes, I think you get so focused on what you want, you forget. It’s a good thing to remember.”

Breaking his silence, the nine year old says, “Will you remind us?” I tell him that’s a perfect idea to add to our plan. We decide before it gets out of hand, before we lose the good and safe and fun, I will remind them about behavior, about treating each other well and I will remind them about love.

Long after I have cleaned up the snack and they’ve said goodbye, I’m still thinking about our conversation. These brothers, learning to navigate growing up, are not the only ones who need reminders. My own heart needs to hear those words.

“Sometimes, I think you get so focused on what you want, you forget. Its a good thing to remember.”

Love is important. It’s what we’re called to. All of us. And the more we know and experience how much we are loved by the God of the universe, the more we’re able to walk in that calling.  We’re better able to love  others well, as we are loved. 

I need to be reminded. In the busy of the everyday, in the crush of all the things life seems to toss our way, sometimes I forget. Any chance you do as well? Maybe we need a plan. A few words from a friend that will help to shift our focus off of the crazy and back to the safe, loving arms of our good God. He loves us, completely, extravagantly, and infinitely. When we live out of that love, it changes things! Today and everyday our hearts need to hear this reminder. Wherever you are, wherever you’ve been, no matter what it looks like or who is telling you otherwise, the beautiful truth is this:

You Are Loved! 

    Walking with you in everyday Grace, 

 

The Box.

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There were worn, wooden floors and early afternoon light filtering  through tired, stained-glass windows. There were a few people milling around at the end of a service, and a circle of women standing in the widest section of the aisle.  Their discussion was about an upcoming weekend conference, and two young men who would be coming to speak and do music.  I remember the laughter and the chatter about eligible young men, a rare thing to pass through our church doors. And then she spoke. She was earnest and blunt.

“There isn’t anyone here good enough for these young men. They really know God.”

She nodded to the circle, meeting us with a look that conveyed she was serious.  No one escaped the look, but only three of us could have applied for the position. There was foot shuffling, and a few sideways glances.  I knew from experience that no matter how hard I stared, the floor was not going to open up its dusty, creaking boards to suck me down into a gaping chasm of escape. Covered heads all nodding in agreement with the pastor’s wife.

Not. good. enough.

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Words, just words, but in the hands of the enemy, they became nails that day.  They hammered hard into the box that was being built around me. Splintering, and crushing. There had been other nails on many other days to help secure the walls, but this was different.  Too much affirmation, too many gavels masquerading as nodding wisdom. With the verdict, a nail grazed flesh and I bled hard that day. Silently, all over the wooden floors. It was a final blood-letting of truth, leaving a hollow echo of lies inside the box.

And I believed the lies. The screens on my box filtered all of my days. Every experience, choice and encounter, all of my living flowed through the screens of those lies. There were many years spent in the box. Boxes are lonely, lies are loud.

But Grace…

God is always there, and He speaks louder than lies.

Even when I couldn’t  hear it, He was speaking and singing over me. It was the truth of who He was and who I am to Him.  And He never, ever left. He is always working for our good.  And God, He can (and did,) break down walls. Nail by nail. Grace upon grace.

And because of His blood poured out for us, there is forgiveness received for all the days we live in our own strength and out of our brokenness, believing a lie.

There is forgiveness  extended for those who live out of their own shattered places, screaming silently behind their own walls, speaking words that become tools in the hands of the enemy.

And there is redemption. The pain of nails is transformed into the beauty of freedom from the one who meant it all for harm. Because God, He means all of it for our good. When rough-hewn walls fall, they are replaced by the tender embrace of a God who says we are more than good enough: we are His.  Forever and always Loved.

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Walking our days filled with the light of truth isn’t always easy. There are days when I am tempted to stand behind a beam of not good enough. To hide in the shadow of no worth. Not always, but most times, it’s because I have allowed lies to enter and speak. Comparison, envy, and control like to drown out the song that is meant for my heart. They compete with the music that swells my spirit, embraces me and reminds me-I belong!  When we turn to listen to the refrain  of truth we will hear…

The Lord your God is with you; the mighty One will save you. He will rejoice over you. You will rest in his love; he will sing and be joyful about you.”   Zephaniah 3:17

Wherever we stand today, there is truth that speaks louder than lies, and a mighty redeemer who walks with us into freedom and light!

Blessings on your day!


 and Intentional Me.

Rhubarb and Grace… What’s Up?!

It’s a memory I have, of dipping a tall stalk of lip-puckering rhubarb into a small plastic bowl of brown sugar. It was during those days when every Saturday took you closer to summer, and we were wearing shorts for the first time that season. The cement stoop held the afternoon sun, and for that moment in time, there was nowhere else you wanted to be.

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The soft, just-thawed corner of the  garden produced enough stalks for pies, cakes, and the less enjoyed stewed version. Rhubarb was synonymous with Spring! My favourite was pie. A  fresh baked  rhubarb pie gives off a tangy-sweet aroma that fills the kitchen and calls to the rest of the house, until everyone who walks by remarks on how good it smells!

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I thought back to the cement stoop while I chopped and measured again this year. It’s a once a year trip, back to bare white knees soaking up new sun. There’s a  crack in the patio stones where the dandelions poke through, and the heady smell of lilac from the soft purple bush. I close my eyes and breathe deep.It’s a good moment in time, and remembering the good is important.  I measure our brown sugar with hands that resemble my mothers more than I’m willing to admit, and now my kitchen fills with the familiar,amazing aroma.

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I find a place to set them up for cooling, and I think that life may be a lot like rhubarb. The lip-puckering, hard-to-swallow-on-their own-days, and the sweet Grace that gets mixed in. Sometimes its just as simple as sitting down on a warm stone step; Grace in one hand, life in the other. Joy steps in on lilac scented breezes. Some days there’s a lot more cutting and mixing, but Grace allows a sweet aroma to fill the place where we are.  And the God of the universe, He is good in all of our days.

Welcome to the Grace Café!
Grab a chair, and join in the conversation…

And that is What’s Up here. How about you? Cook anything fun? Organize a corner? Getting creative? Read, listen to, or write something we should know about? Or maybe you’re just hanging out with the laundry today!

Link up a post or let us know in the comments. Whatever your Wednesday looks like, I’m glad you stopped by the Cafe’ to share a minute with us.

Blessings on your Wednesday,

Now it’s your turn…. Here’s the button you’ll need…


Just A Thought
 

The Waiting Room…

It’s part of my story,  a chapter I haven’t shared until now. Some pages of story are harder to share than others.  I’m only relaying some of the chapter, but I think you might need to hear it as much I needed to be reminded: in the end it’s all Grace, and we are loved… as we are. It’s longer than our usual chats…thank you for Grace.

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It’s what I learned at our church growing up. Knowing God was an arduous task. It was like climbing  a mountain,  knees bloodied, hands raw.  The more you read,studied, stuck to the script, the better.  I managed sin as I was taught, and checked off lists. So many lists. Staying within the church helped keep you on the “right track” so friends or activities that weren’t church sanctioned were frowned upon. Looking back I wonder how we didn’t all suffocate in such confinement.

Striving was good.

And all the while I had this picture of God  standing at the top of the mountain, waiting for me to fail, fall off or to finally reach levels of spirituality that would be pleasing, approved of. Except I could never get there.  Women were never good enough, and overweight ones even less than.  It was more than implied.

And no one told me any different, so I believed it.

And the men in charge, held reigns so tight it was hard to breathe. And when we didn’t understand the choices, the decisions  the sermons, the secrets, they said it was a lack of maturity, a  “when you know the Lord better, deeper, you’ll understand”

And so I began to live in the waiting room.

Trying to be good, better, perfect. So that one day I would be approved by God and life could begin. And it never did.  The harder we tried, the more impossible it became, and the men, the ones in charge, their cords became tighter and all of it was just a way to control and manipulate so that their own sin could stay hidden.  And sin thrives in the the dark, gathering strength from secrets and lies. The waiting room was dimly lit.

And there was no grace.

There was mocking, and anger, condemnation, and fear.  It was what I knew, and so I worked harder, and looked away from the things I couldn’t reconcile.

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And here is the thing you need to know,

 because there is never anything new under the sun. So lean in close… In all of the mess, the hell of man’s manipulation,control and abuse,

God is Faithful.

In the back row, on a wooden bench after a long service. Sitting by myself with my bible open, terrified, wondering where God was and what I was supposed to do. I cried out in sixteen year old desperation, and He came and sat with me. And He said this…

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And I clung to it, to Him. I wrapped it around me, and I never went anywhere without it. It pulled me out of the waiting room, into arms that held me tight with a love I’m still discovering.  Seeds of Hope were planted.

It took nearly half my life for those cords to be loosed, to see God as He really is. To trust Him and others, to forgive. And I’m still learning to walk in freedom,  grabbing hold of Grace, and embracing healing. And all of us, even the leaders who hold cords of control and live outside of what God ever intended…we are all broken and fallen. We  all need forgiveness, for the  times we live out of our broken places.

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Sometimes, I forget. And maybe you do too. I forget I’m not in charge of my healing. I forget there are no requirements with God.  I step back into the waiting room, holding hurt and care. Clutching the gaping places in me that still need healing and thinking I need to deal with all of this myself  to stay in relationship with God… Before life can move forward. I get tangled up in cords of self- protection. It’s living in a constant place of  If I can just____ then I can____  or when I’m________ then I can_______   But that’s not what He says…

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”Matthew 11:28-30 net

He says I’m supposed to come just the way I am, and we’ll work on these things together, in His time.  He reminds me that I am His, and in Him I am just where I need to be. And that same power, the one that emptied a tomb… it lives in me, shattering darkness, filling everything with the beautiful light of  truth and Love.

And then He whispers…

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  (John 8:36 NIV)

So I’m walking out of the waiting room today, and giving it all to the God of the universe while we walk together and He untwists the cords.  If you’d like company, let’s walk together.

Have a wonderful day!


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