holy ground

I have a list of wrong-doings in my head.
It’s like a grocery list. But instead of things I need to pick up from the store, it’s a list of things I don’t like about myself.
Things I wish I could change.

When I’m tired and overwhelmed, I let words slip through my lips like a drip on a faucet. That drip, drip, drip wears me down. Other days, I let my insecurities strip away my joy like a swarm of locusts. Piece by piece my gratitude is dragged away in the clutches of something that should not hold so much power over myself.

I wish I could handle it better; I wish I could weather the storms better. For goodness sake, I have the LOVE of heaven at my fingertips. Why on earth do I lose sight of that sometimes?

A few weeks ago my husband came home and shared something someone else had said about me. It was a wonderful compliment. But I rejected it instantly, bursting into tears. “How could they believe that about me? It’s not true.”
Most days, I feel as if I am harboring a great secret. That I am broken. That I can’t get it quite right. That I am weak. . . and the grocery list goes on . . .

But here is the truth

I am Someone’s child.

And that changes everything.

This morning I took a minute to sit down at the kitchen window with my coffee. My son came in. He is at the magical age of three.  He asked for some oatmeal in that precious way only three years olds can do. There was a frown upon his face, and even while I reminded him to ask politely, my heart burst with love for him. His very existence fills me with the purest delight. I scooped oatmeal into a plastic bowl and gave it to him. With my hand lingering on his soft golden hair, he scampered off on his tip toes, and joy filled me.

I let him carry his oatmeal into the living room and eat it in front of the television. I’ve been letting the kids do that for weeks now. It’s something else I hate about myself. I want to be the mother that gets up before dawn, exercises, reads her Bible in the quiet, and greets her kids with a wide-awake smile. But I’m not.

I’m the mom who drags herself out of bed when the kids do. I stumble downstairs and stair at the walls while the kids ask for breakfast. I fumble with my coffee and try to wake up. Before 9 am, I’ve already added items to that list of things I need to change about myself.

But as my son skipped out of the kitchen this morning, I was struck by a thought. What if my kids did the same thing every day?  What if they battled an inner dialogue of self-hatred, in an effort to be who they thought the needed to be?

Oh. 

It would crush my heart.
Because it would not be true.
Because they are so much more than their mistakes.
They are so much more.

The smile on their faces is victory.
Their laughter is a breath of fresh air.
I love to watch them play together, to see their creativity flow, to watch them meet challenges and solve problems.
But it’s more than that even.

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Even on their worst days, their very existence fills me with complete joy. My favorite thing to do is to just be with them

Their very being proclaims the glory of God.
Their breathing in and out, their blood pumping, their lungs filtering air, their eyes seeing, those baby blues taking in an entire world of sensory details, their minds thinking, asking, processing . . .

Our first family vacation. Last weekend.

This is the holy ground. Holy ground where I do not walk with pride- filled steps. This is holy ground where I am starkly reminded that they are the evidence of God’s love. A love that is timeless, ageless, eternal . . . reaching back far beyond a point we will ever know, to hovering over the waters, a void where something burst into nothing, and WORDS filled each vacant space until everything that ever was and ever will be was saturated with the LOVE OF GOD.

And my children are apart of that story.

I am apart of that story.

You are apart of that story.

If there is any good in me, it is a reflection of the One who made me.
That must mean that the delight with which I gaze upon my children is but a shadow of the delight with which He gazes upon me. Upon you. Upon us.

Can you breathe that in?
Can you accept that today?
Can you believe that God’s love for you in unconditional?

Read this with me:

“For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. ”

Psalm 139:13-18

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My Mom’s Laughter

When I was ten years old, my parents splurged and took me on a birthday trip. Every other vacation taken was to a campground, either at the lake or on the ocean. We ate crab and fish taken straight from the water over an open fire, and I tried to sleep to the sound of wild animals. But this birthday trip was different.

My parents got us a hotel right on the beach. I felt so fancy. We didn’t catch our meal from sea, but ate at a Mexican restaurant that overlooked the water. The waiters sang “Happy Birthday” and brought me a free dessert and it was magical.

 The next day, we searched the beaches for anemones and shells in the sand. We found a colony of beach squirrels and my mom lured them out of their rock habitat by putting grapes on my head. I kid you not, those squirrels ran up my body, grabbed the grape out of my hair, and took it back to their lair. The following morning, we ate breakfast in the hotel room and I opened presents. Then my mom opened the balcony doors and lured the seagulls into our room to eat our bacon and eggs.

 Today, while going through a box of mom’s things, I found the picture proof of this event. I found many other photo memories, things I had forgotten. Delightful pictures of our little farm that gave me the most wonderful childhood. But as I remember my mom now, I remember more of the good, almost none of the bad. I remember her sense of humor more than her sad days. I remember staying up all night to help the mama goats have their first babies, and working together in the garden. I remember the time she threw horse poop at me because she said I was being too serious. And I remember when she lined up my husband and I and our baby behind the stalks of corn and took a picture so we could be the “children of the corn” and she laughed and laughed.  She used to repeat the phrase, “Who burnt the toast?” to my newborn daughter because she really wanted that to be the baby’s first sentence.

 She was many things. She was the director of children’s ministry and family activities at our church, she was a licensed pastor, she was a farmer. She was organized and so poised on stage. She had a way of rallying people together for a cause. She could direct a play like nobody’s business, and facilitate a Christmas event that literally shut down traffic. She was very focused creative and smart. She was  also, almost always, under immense amounts of stress.

Sometimes, in the midst of it though, she was very, very silly.

 As a mom, it’s a struggle to not get bogged down by the need to clean, by the sleepless nights, by the sickness. Sometimes life is hard. But as a child, I needed my mom’s silliness. It was a wonderful balm, the sound of her laugh was such a magical sound. I loved hearing my mom laugh, and I loved her smile. It was everything to me; the tone of my entire day, set upon my mom’s mood. And if she was happy, oh joy, I felt weightless.

 So today, I give you mamas permission to be silly. To laugh. To smile. I wasn’t aware enough as a child to recognize the impact those moments of hers had on me, but they did. Today, while going through pictures, I remembered those moments. Those moments that shown like a ray of sunshine through the most stressful of days. My mom’s laugh was like a rescue even when our world was crashing down.

 Our last Christmas together, we stayed up late and played Apples to Apples and she laughed and I can still remember that sound. When a mom laughs, her children know that everything is going to be okay.

 I believe today our charge as mothers is to shake off the bonds of stress and fear, to not let the unknown entangle us. Let us laugh. Let us laugh without fear of the future because we KNOW WHO HOLDS THE FUTURE. Because we know we can trust Him. Because we are tapped into the fountain that flows from Emmanuel.

There is a time to mourn. There is a time to cry.

But don’t let the times of joy and dancing pass you by.
Stop now, reach out and grasp hold of them, cling to them with white-knuckled fists until they become your own. Do not hand over your joy to fear and stress. Do not let your silliness wither away in the clutches of fear.

Let’s laugh with our babies. Laugh with our husbands. Let us lift up our heads and laugh without fear of the future. And breathe deep as the burden eases.

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Me, mom, and some puppies.

Skunks and Cookies and Comfort.

My mom had been gone for several weeks when Nick and I were drove back down to Northern California for his seminary classes. While he studied in town, I spent the days fifteen minutes outside of the city limits at my parent’s house. Their dream house.

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It was a quiet house now. There were no chickens or goats in the backyard. No puppies crying in the laundry room. The horses were gone. The halls were quiet. My mom’s reading lamp was dark.

This particular night, my sisters were not there, my dad was not home, my husband was at school. In the solitude, I tucked my babies, 4 and 1, into their makeshift beds, read them bedtime stories, and turned out their lights.

Then I sat in the quiet and missed my mom. I happened to be sitting in the very seat that she always sat in. Her spot. The memories played before my mind like a movie. I relived it all. And I cried. Alone.

It was one of the loneliest, hardest nights.

The next day, one of my longest friends reached out. She’s one of those friends that will always be close no matter how long it’s been since we’ve spoken. If I ever get placed in an old folk’s home, I want her to be my roommate. We’ll laugh and play pranks until Jesus comes for us.

She invited me to a movie. I didn’t want to go to a movie. But I didn’t want to sit alone in my mom’s house, reliving her last moments. I was a caged animal ready to run. My husband agreed to stay home that night with the kids so I could get out of the house. When she pulled up in the driveway in her minivan, I practically ran out and jumped in.

I was immediately accosted by a horrendous smell. She turned to me with a huge smile.

“Sorry about the smell. The dog got sprayed by skunk and I had to drive him to the vet. He actually sat right there where you’re sitting.”

I burst into laughter.

“But I spritzed the car with orange body spray, so hopefully you wont stink.”

We were laughing so hard that we almost peed our pants before we were even out of the driveway. She retold the cautionary tale of the skunk, the dog, her 5 kids. My face hurt from smiling by the time we pulled into the movie theatre parking lot.

We purchased our tickets and took our seat. The movie was a comedic love story set in Italy. It seemed a safe enough pick for both of us. You see, this friend, she loved my mom too. Our mothers had been best friends. I may not have grown up with them, but it felt like it. As the movie started, we laughed. We ooed. We awed. We laughed some more.

And the smell of skunk grew stronger and stronger and stronger.
She leaned over and asked, “Do I smell?”
I nodded. “Do I?”
She began to laugh. “Yes. So bad.”
We giggled silent as tears streamed down our faces.

The movie continued. And merciful heavens, it smelled like an orange-covered skunk was strutting himself all over that movie theatre.

It appeared out of nowhere, like a thief. In the middle of this romantic comedy, the heroine found herself brushing her hair alone in her room. A grandmother figure appeared and asked the heroine, “Did you have a mother?” The heroine shook her head. The grandmother picked up the hair brush and began to brush the woman’s hair. And she cried. Tears rolled down the heroine’s cheeks as she was given a simple comfort, the brushing of hair, to fill in the missing spaces of what she would never have.

Of what I would never have again.

My heart burst right out of my chest and split into pieces. I struggled to breathe. My friend reached over and put her hand on the back of my head. She said nothing. Together, we sat there . . . loving my mother . . . missing my mother . . . feeling my pain together, feeling her pain. No words were necessary.

We laughed more. She drove me home in the skunk-filled car. She dropped me off like she had when we were teens . . . long before the marriages and kids and tragedies had existed. Just like the time when she and her 3 sisters and I piled into the little tiny coup, sharing seat belts and laps, and drove to the theatre enjoying our first parent-free outing. We watched Hope Floats and sat in the back of theatre balling our eyes out along with two old women in the front row.

“I’ll bring cookies and milk tomorrow,” she said, as she waved, and drove off.

And she did. She couldn’t stay to have them with me. But she drove up, hugged me, and said, “Love you, Kates.” She handed me a half gallon of milk and a container of oreos that I then went and shared with my little sisters.

It’s been almost six years . . . but I still remember that gesture.
A friend who offered what she had.
A skunk-filled van, a movie, cookies and milk.
Her presence, her laughter.
And it was everything.
I’ve often wondered if God orchestrated it all. If the dog and the skunk met in a divine appointment of heaven moving earth to save me from my pain.
Or maybe, she simply responded to His promptings.

Comfort has come to me in many forms through the years.

Homemade jam, banana bread, chicken soup.
Fresh cut sunflowers.
Cookies and milk.
A hug.
Coffee.
A simple text.
A message on facebook.
A seat offered among friends at a recent Christmas Eve service. My daughter snuggled up in the lap of a friend, the same way she might snuggle up in my mom’s lap. If she could.
Flowers delivered every.single.year.

Little gestures that may have felt so small to the people who gave. . . little gestures that came straight from the hand of God into mine.

God is not asking us to wait until we have it all together.
Sometimes there’s not enough time to clean up life so that we can then help others.
We just have to do it.
And we may never know what one delicate, simple act will do. I don’t think my friend realizes how defining her rescue of me that night was.
It was nothing grand. She did what she could. And with 5 kids at home, perhaps it did take a lot for her to give.
But she gave.

We like to debate what it means to be the hands and feet of God. We want to know “who” and “how” and “really God?”

Meanwhile, someone is putting the keys in the ignition of their stinky van and driving to where they are needed.

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over the edge.

When I was little I planned to grow up, be on star search with Ed McMann, get married, and have four kids. I think I imagined I’d go through life in a sequined dress and Ed’s voice would narrate things. My kids were named. My husband had a perm. You know, it was a 7 year old’s logic, so don’t know try to understand it. But it was a plan.

God’s plan blew mine out of the water.
In fact, most of God’s greatest gifts to me were not planned.
I didn’t see them coming.
Left field promises.
Life-altering blessings appearing from the corner of my mind’s eye.

And thank God for His plans. His grand ideas, stretching above my understanding like thunderheads in a great sky. My breezy thoughts decimated by the winds of His love.

I’ve never felt ready.
How can you prepare to drink of living water and never thirst again, like opening your heart to Niagra Falls knowing you’ll never be the same?
Can you grasp a heaven-on-earth kind of love?
Do you know what it’s like to open your empty hands and watch them filled with divinity?
No, I’ve never been ready.
But I’ve never looked back either.

Each of my children derailed me in the most magnificent of ways.
I was never, ever prepared.
Who can prepare to have your heart divided and ripped from your chest, given the freedom to live outside of you . . . your entire being still responsible to keep it beating?
I’ve lived and breathed communities . . . and had to leave them.
This heart of mine has also been stretched. There are pieces on the west coast in the lives of my friends and family that I left behind. Pieces of my heart walk on snow-white Florida beaches . . . and there are remnants in the painted Arizona deserts . . . and beyond.

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And these feet stand in the upper Mid West, a stone’s throw from Canada, and I wonder if I’ll ever stop shaking my head in awe at what the Lord has done; in the strength He has manifested in this weak arms of mine, the places He has led me with these insufficient legs. Will the gratitude ever fade, rescued time and time again, only to have my feet set down upon a glory so unfathomably grand that it made the journey worthwhile?

A vessel broken, shattered, crumbled . . . only to be filled with drips of gold from heaven’s gates. Wounds bound by the scarred hands of a Master Craftsman, where He still bleeds a love I could never understand, never contain.

I can still hear my mother singing in the kitchen, “He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane, I am the tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. . .”

The song became a lullaby to my children. ” . . . when all of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory . . .”

It continued on. In every one of mom’s last breaths, as I held her close, memorizing enough of her to last a lifetime. “. . . and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me . . “

We buried that body I had hugged and loved all my life in the ground and my heart tore. It ripped to shreds. And as it continued to beat, each pulse of my life sang on,  “Oh, how He loves us so. Oh how He loves us. How He loves us so.”

A thousand people sang it that day. Our hands outstretched, lifted heavenward, or clutched against our chest to keep it from falling apart . . “We are His portion and we are His prize. Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes . . .”

And my children continued to sing, day after day, “If His grace is an ocean we’re all sinking . . .”

Babies were born and my heart grew, filled. Love continued to take shape and have names, ” . . .And heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart beats violently inside of my chest . . “

Crowds gathering in living rooms, in churches, in bars, on hilltops . . . eyes pooling with tears as we tried to fathom again and again and again . . .”I don’t have time to maintain these regrets as I think about the way . . .”

Thump. Thump. Thump. The song continued over miles and miles of west coast, Rocky Mountains, northern prairies. My past behind, my future ahead . . .”Oh, how He loves us so. Oh how He loves us. How He loves us so. . .”

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The song hangs on my wall. It’s so much more than art. It’s last moments, last breaths, lullabies, friendships, worship nights, a heart growing and hurting and loving more than is possible. It’s God’s love letter . . . written on the palms of His hands, and in the beat of my heart, on every single breath, each gift . . . a life lived, given, day after day of beautiful sweet gifts often too glorious for me to even comprehend. Each wrinkle a treasure, every gray hair carefully concealed, shadows of what love can do.

I met my husband on a snowy day in Northern California. I woke that morning with no notion of what would happen. I was hoping for snow. God gave me the love of my life.

He can do so much more.
Let Him have it all.
Let Him have the good days, the bad days, the best days, the tragic days.
He’ll write a song in your heart, days shaped as notes on a staff, His words breathing a melody of hope and redemption and promise.

Only God can take the worst day and provide a last look, a glimpse, a whisper to last a lifetime. Redemption in a second. Only God can take the best day, the treasure of a first snowfall . . . and unfold a love story.

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Oh how He loves us so.

If you’re looking over the edge of that great precipice, your plans behind you, God’s masterpiece thundering over the rocks ahead of you . . . breathe it in. You don’t need to look back. Let the mist and symphony of what is to come ring in your ears, a dream unfolding. Another chapter to the story. A life lived.

Let His love . . . write the plans.

The glorious ordinary

The tragedy of living on this earth is that we often don’t see heaven unfolding around us. I am ashamed to admit it, but most days, I do not see the glory in the ordinary. I rise from bed, un-thinking about the miracle of my still-beating heart. I stumble down the stairs, upset that I’m awake, ignoring the breath that rushes in and out of my lungs. I get overwhelmed by the voices of the littles, shamefully glossing over the glory in their faces . . . perfect arms and legs and voices and smiles and chattering song.

The ordinary is brimming with the glorious, with glimpses of heaven in every ticking second, each blink of my eyes.

Everything is declaring the glory of God.

We seek heaven for a sign, looking through the vivid sunsets that shout of His decadence. And have we ever asked why? Why the sunsets, why the colors, why does it last for minutes? It is fleeting, spreading across the sky, like a whisper that says, “He is near.”

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We stumble through the days, hurting, aching for comfort. But do we look beyond, outward just enough to see the snow falling? A blanket of peace, wrapping about the earth like a blanket . . . shushing . . .
covering . . . pausing . . . to say, “He is near.”

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Once, in one of the worst moments of my life . . . I laid my head upon my kitchen table and wept. I promise you, God walked into my kitchen that day. And He wrapped arms around me and held me close and took my pain onto His own heart. A few days later a brilliant summer storm rolled in and lingered over our house, and in those greens and flashes and rumbles of giants, I saw it written in the clouds . . .”He is near.”

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Another time, my husband woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to “trust him” and go outside. I stood in the yard, staring up at the heavenlies as faint lights danced across the sky . .  and I could have sworn that those Northern Lights were placed right there for me . . . and I heard it . . . I heard it like a seal upon my heart . . .

“Katie, I love you.”

Today, I am trying, trying so hard to let the veil of ordinary to slip away so that I can see, with REAL- SEEING eyes . . . the glory of the kingdom of heaven right here. I hope you will look and listen with me.

Take a deep breath of His goodness.

Look beyond yourself to the skies and see His steadfastness.

Put a hand to your heart and feel His faithfulness.

Look into your child’s eyes and see His creativity.

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Close your eyes and remember. Let the memory of what you have lost linger, if you can, and feel His love . . . as it rushes into the empty places . . .

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There is no ordinary. Not anymore.

Only glory.

A flying leap. The Christmas edition.

A year ago, I was surrounded by moving boxes, a thousand questions, and an unknown future. It was Christmas, my husband had just returned from a job interview, and I could not envision my tomorrow.

We had known something like this was coming far before it actually showed up. Two years ago, I sat in my friend’s car in downtown Medford, and told her a secret that Nick and I had not shared with anyone. We were praying about moving. It was a seed that had been planted in our hearts, and it continued to grow into an idea with roots and dreams and visions, until it could not be ignored. It’s a scary thing to consider changing every aspect of your life. And so I shared our secret, my friend and I prayed, and I did not tell anyone else for a while.

Meanwhile, we continued on with our life. It was a life we loved, but some things about it had become an ever-increasing struggle. There are trials that God equips us to encounter. Other times, though, trials appear and God says,”No, this is not your fight. I’m going to take you somewhere else.”

We were headed somewhere else.

We started dreaming- dreaming without borders- for the first time in our marriage. Well, almost without borders. My husband had been talking about North Dakota too much, and so I kindly threw in my one condition. “I’ll go anywhere, but North Dakota.” Us West Coast kids didn’t learn about the Dakotas in school. It might as well have been Canada. It represented the unknown. It represented scary. I was not ready to become that strong yet.

If taking a flying leap off of a cliff had baby steps . . . that’s the version I wanted. That’s the version I was prepared for. I’ll go anywhere you want me to go, Lord, on one condition . . .

It was shameful really, that I would put conditions on a heavenly Father that has never ceased to amaze me. It was silly for me to put parameters on a masterpiece I had surrendered to the same God who formed the Grand Tetons. It was silly of me to determine what I could handle when my every breath was commissioned by the same words that spoke the whole of the universe into existence.

Last Christmas, I was terrified.
I had ministries I loved, friends I cherished, I had a reputation that I liked. I was close to my family. I was known. I belonged. I did not want to leave.

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It’s possible that flying leap we took was a gentle shove into our next adventure. You could say we were pushed. Or you could say we were rescued. Looking back, the entire thing seems more like a rescue. I picture the holy Trinity huddling into Himself and saying, “You see those two? It’s time to get them out. Now!”

A gentle shove. A leap. Call it what you will.

Dear God . . . He caught us.

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He caught us in the beauty of a place I had never imagined seeing, but one that I now could not imagine living without. I stood on the edges of one of the Great Lakes this summer and could have cried. I just didn’t know it was out there.

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He embraced us into a community that brought us in, very few questions asked. He provided a home. Friends. A church that daily reminds me that we are apart of something larger than ourselves … we are the kingdom of God here on earth.

There’s a song called “No Longer Slaves.” You can listen to it here. There’s a part that says, “You split the seas so I could walk right through it, my fears are drowned in perfect love.” Go ahead and turn it on right now, continue reading as the words play.

Oh Lord Jesus.
It’s taken from an account in the Bible where the Israelites are literally running for their lives. The Egyptian army is behind them and the Red Sea is before them. There is nowhere they can go but in. God tells them to go, He promises to part the sea. He promises. They go.

And He does. The seas rise up at His command. And they run through to their freedom. ALIVE. They could have remained behind. Logic and reason and rationale would say that to do anything else would mean sure death. After all, if their captors caught them, they would only be slaves again. They might still be able to live.

Oh, my friend. God doesn’t want us to be slaves. He calls for life. Full life. For freedom. He told them to run, and they did.

He is the God that moves mountains for His children. He moves oceans. He lifts storms and He brings them down for His heart. Look back right now. I know you can think of at least one moment where you were rescued. A moment where your soul wonders . . . is this my proof? Is there a God?

Yes.

A God that does not ask for mere existence.
A God that does not ask for mere survival.
A God who calls us to life.
A God that wants us to be able to say ,”I’m no longer a slave to fear. I am a child of God.”

Are you a child of God? Have you been rescued? Have you seen His glory?

If you’re not sure, look into the face of your child.
There it is.
Step out and peer up at the stars.
There it is.
Close your eyes and feel your heart beating, your lungs breathing, your brain fulfilling unbelievable processes. 
There it is.
Do you feel pain? Has your entire being been ripped into a great chasm of grief?
There it is.
Your rescue is upon you.

You, my friend, are a walking, talking miracle. You are evidence of a God who lives and loves.

I write this from my couch in North Dakota.
It might as well have been my promised land, separated over an ocean of mountains and snow and fear, a world away from all that I knew.
And that’s where He brought us.
It’s Christmas. And I am home.
I miss my friends and family so much it hurts.
But God is there to comfort me with blankets of white snow and sky so vivid I wonder if I’ve ever seen blue before.

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I stood in church this morning with tears streaming down my face as I remembered the state of my heart one year ago. I was terrified.

This year? I’m living out my rescue. I am so thankful. He is a God that loves. Oh dear readers. . . He loves you. You can’t escape it. Do you know it yet? If not, let tonight be the first day of your forever.

Let not a single moment pass without you calling upon His name. Tonight is the night of your salvation. He has good things for you. You can trust Him. You can lift your hands up right now and surrender all you have and ever will have you and you will come back with hands overflowing with more than you can even imagine.

North Dakota is home now. And I could not be more thankful.
If this blog is my rooftop, here is my shout,

“You split the sea so I could walk right through it,
My fears are drowned in perfect love
You rescue me and I will stand and sing
I am a child of God.”

Call upon the name of the Lord right. this. moment.

When we put our family, our dog, and our things in our jeep and started driving, my heart longed for a story. I wanted to know that in a year, I would look back and tell myself, “It was worth it.”

It was scary.
And it was worth it.

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It’s still worth it.

Every part of this journey with God has been worth it.

…a crippled soul like you…

Death bursts on to the scene, forcing you to take attention, requiring you to question everything; like an unwanted stalker it appears, steals the spotlight, and burns it to the ground.

Smoke and ashes remain, like an *asterix on your life. Always there. Always a clause. The fine print. A fine print that deserves to be shouted from the rooftops so everyone can understand why you do the things you do… why you are so awkward… why you’re not normal.

Oh, it’s not just death that has left things unaltered.
Anxiety is a devil all its own.
It lurks, eyeing its prey, taking it down before it even gave second glance. You’ll learn its name someday, learn to curse it away, and slaughter it with a sword you didn’t know how to use.

But it’s with bloody knuckles and bruised knees that you’ll do so, and the scars will both remind you of where you’ve been . . . and remind you of how far you’ve come.
Another *asterix.

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We all have a story.
A mile long.
Like a train we drag behind, but not one of lace and promise.
Like a dreadful burden, that was never easy to carry… but threatens to break the bones after years. Like a withered limb that we love and hate. Crawling we come.

And just as suddenly, like the crack of stone, like the rumble of earth years unmoved, violently thrust up revealing layers of past and present and future… something else appears. If you stared at this momentous happening, it would blind your eyes, leave you grasping for reason and logic and finding none.

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LOVE.

It covers that list, stroke after stroke of blood-red paint.
A Crafter’s hand, an Artist’s eye, a Creator’s power, swiftly moving over the story. Over the list. Over each *asterix until they are changed.

That train, that burden, that withered limb … it becomes a masterpiece.

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Oh, don’t ask me how. I could never explain the glory of a dawning morning. The warmth of an embrace that should never have been. The crash of the oceanic against the rocks of ages. They are mysteries, just as the story of how the Creator redeemed the story.

I’ll never grasp how a crippled soul like me, could jump and leap in the presence of a King. I’ll never comprehend how one who doubts like I, could be privileged to hear His whispers. In all of the earth, why does He waste time on me?

There it was again. Did you hear it?
Another whisper.
LOVE called my name.

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It is above me. Beyond me. Out of my mental grasp how any of this could be so. It defies everything. But I am not what was. I am not what is. I am not what will be.

I don’t know where it went, all those labels that were apart of me. The photographic memories of days long past are no longer worn like a badge.

Somehow, I have become His child.
I don’t know when it happened… or was it always this way?
Was I His child when I knelt in the kitchen, age seven, so tenderly innocent, and gave Him my heart?

I was.

Was I His child when my mom died? Her eyes staring into mine, her hand grasping mine? Was I His child when I lived through the horrific?

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I was.

Was I His child when the days were long and hard and there was no light at the end of a very dark and lonely tunnel? Clinging to faith with white-knuckled fists?

I was.

Am I His child now? A weary mother who feels like the greatest of hypocrites?

I am.

I am His child because He is my Father.

My story remains, but this crippled soul has run and fallen into the arms of Jesus. Look at Him!  Look through me to the one that has spoken promise, woven healing, cleansed the tragedies, and been faithful every. single. day. Look at how He makes things NEW. Look at how He puts a song in my heart!

Our first family vacation. Last weekend.

How does He do this? I don’t know. I don’t understand. But this story, this history, those tragedies have been paid-in-full. He’s taken them upon Himself. My wounds are now His, and my withered hands are… strong. My memories remain, but they are draped with LOVE. Seeped with LOVE. For LOVE was always there. And where there is LOVE there is life.

Look to LOVE.
See His story.
See His faithfulness.

Will you fall into His arms, and just see what He can do with a crippled soul like you? Just see… what He… can do.

One day we’ll gather together with Him, for a feast. And we’ll look around that table and we wont see the scars, the wounds, the withered limbs… because they wont be there anymore.

We’ll only see Him.
We’ll only have eyes for LOVE.

Treasured.