2/20/17

my sister is strong.

Although I could write many things about my beautiful biological sister, 
this is about one of my little sisters in the family of Christ.  












My sister is strong.
The others, when they start to act tough
and they vow they'll never care about anything again
you know they just can't handle it anymore.
The others, they're so angry
because this isn't right,
this isn't the way it's supposed to be
that they give up hope of learning
what it IS supposed to be like.

Somehow, my sister's not like that.
Me, I haven't had a quarter of her hardship
written into my story
I, at her age,
wasn't anywhere near so resilient.

My sister still dreams.
She is strong enough to love the way
the winter branches kiss the sky
She is strong enough to want to care
for the more vulnerable
She is strong enough to love the people
who make life so difficult for her
She is so strong,
she still knows how to cry.

My sister is a very special person.
My sister is strong.





image source

1/24/17

2017




This is a rather belated New Year's post, but I've been thinking about it for a while so I thought I would still go ahead and post it.

For 2016 I chose to think on the word "Faithfulness", to try to keep in front of me how the Lord has been faithful to me and what I have in front of me to be faithful with. As I look back on my thoughts from last January I am humbled by the abundant grace and kindness the Lord has shown to me. To be honest, I entered 2016 with a predominant feeling of dread. How, I wondered, was I to soldier on through the limitations and difficulties of the life God has given me? I wasn't finding much to anticipate with any sense of joy, but I knew that the Lord would lead me and give me enough to survive whatever He had in store.

And He was faithful.

Faithful in the midst of a crazy work schedule + class + regular pain from a year-long dental issue that ended in oral surgery = more exhaustion than I've ever had to walk through, faithful through some sad goodbyes as dear friends moved on to other corners of the world, faithful through a hard and painful year of camp prep, faithful through a beautiful week of with my young Rez friends where I got to witness God's work in ways I never have before, faithful through blessed transitions into life with new roommates and a new job and a wonderful man who I started dating in October.

How like the Lord to end a year that began with dread in a season of abundant joy.

As I look on this year, I want to be grateful, I want to continue to rest in His faithfulness, and I want to grow in awareness of the ways I am alive in Him. I am alive in the vine even though sometimes my ideas of what that ought to look like are a little off base.  So I chose the word "Fruitfulness" to think about for 2017. I want to be thoughtful about what it means to thrive, to live fully in both sorrow and gladness. I want to be rooted more deeply in dependence on Him through His word, to be freer in service, joy, and grief. As I think about what kind of fruit I am bearing, I want to be reminded that I will fail at growth if I think I can do my own self-improvement projects with my life.  Yet because I have been grafted into the vine, I ought to be watching for good fruit in hope. Anywhere I see it I hope to respond more and more in thankfulness, and when I don't see it I want to keep my eyes open to where the Lord might be pruning me, to cry out to Him for help.  I want to grow in dependence and gratitude.

Galatians 5:22-23 says,"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." I want to grow in all of these things, but a couple things stand out to me. As I think on these things, I realize that they are things that, in our fallen sinful state, feel foreign and unnatural to us. And yet because we are human and bear the image of our Creator God, they are things that bring such satisfaction. These are definitions of what it means to thrive. See, I have a natural desire to hide from others, to ignore difficult things, to close myself off in an illogical attempt at self-protection or to try to please others in order to feel good about myself. But these reactions don't help me, they hurt me.  To do the hard obediences is to spring up alive and become more and to have purer, deeper sorrow and fuller, more abundant joy.

Lord, You are holy God
You have set Your love on me
You have bought me with the blood of the Lamb
I need You
apart from You I am dead, cold, dry
but grafted into You
born anew
I live, love, thrive
Would You give me eyes to see good
joy in encouragement
Softness to grieve and hate with 
fullness, gentleness, faithfulness, righteousness.
Slow me to see hearts
Strengthen me to be peaceful, to be kind
Give me a little gladness here and there for the hope to continue steadfast
 Teach me to lay down my life as I have been loved first.



image source

8/24/16

radio silence

like the moment during takeoff
just before your ears pop
the pressure of the quiet gets to me
stillness is a song
but silence is a tense hum
waiting
perhaps it's a struggle to catch up,
to get ahead of the tick of the clock
so that there's time to hear the music
to pause, to observe the symphony between the lines
to create the music that's already around
there are riches in the drumming rain
the pulsating surf
the teeming streets
riches waiting to be spoken
but first, someone needs to pause
and listen


5/8/16

an effort to recognize

Today, I thank You for
A home that was always open
How many birthdays I heard the story of my birth again, how she became a mom for the first time, how she saw her own face when she looked at mine
The pushing, prying, once in a while tears because she wanted to know how I was doing
Pizza and ice cream in the freezer and the knowledge that we could invite first and
inform her second
For the big dreams and enthusiasm for our futures
That she prays for us.

For the tea, always tea
The orchids in the window, pansies in the garden peace that was always at Oma's place
Always the listening and the special treatment like she was so honored that you were there.
The recurrent gathering again, how she is a magnet in the drawing together of our family
All the hearts that have been under that roof
The foster kids who still send a note every now and then

For the niece who is mine in a small way
For those who let me hold their babies and rejoice with them
For all the kids who've accidentally or jokingly called me Mom
For the one week a year when my arms are full
For my first-loved and how proud they can make me
For the ones I carry in my heart, the ones I've labored for in prayer and tears

The richness, the anguish of love
The mothers that lay down their lives for us in everyday servings,
For Your love pulsing through
Thank You.




3/31/16

summer in the air
















wild rose in the churchyard
watermelon,
salty sandy sunscreen
engine oil
dandelion-rid soil
dark roast coffee and open-window green grass clippings






imagesource

3/25/16

and the darkest of hours was the best day ever

Good Friday is my favorite holiday
although sometimes I'd rather pass over the darkness quickly
look to the Sunday sunrise
but you've got to sit in the horror of it a little while
make your home beneath the Cross
and you'll see
how He was torn
the slow suffocation
the life-blood that seeps away,
congealed and continual
how His loved ones must have prayed for death to hurry
what agony to see Him suffer, exposed and ashamed,
for hours on end
but they didn't even know the half of it
all hell's darkest powers
many eternity's worth of torture, concentrated into this slim span of time
creation strains under the weight of this confusion
something is terribly, terribly wrong
the sun knows it, and dares not look on the horrible sight
the earth shudders violently in fear
the agonizing shriek rings out
Forsaken
and yet, He has asked for the bitter wine and vinegar
He is willing to drink down the dregs of His Father's wrath
The crumbs of His broken, broken body are a bridal feast
and the blood is the water of life that He turns to the wine of joy
what wondrous love is this?
at last the Ruler pronounces that it is finished
and God takes His spirit to rest in the grave
Resting in the knowledge that He has paid the ransom for His beloved
they are His forever
the veil is torn,
because God has exploded out of the sanctuary
and Sunday will dawn so soon.

2/6/16

winter journal

I didn't categorize this as poetry because it's too long, and if it was a poem I would try to have some sort of understandable progression of thought instead of popping along from one thing to another.  In short, I don't really know what this is :)




Today the sun warms the chilled February birdsong,
yesterday the fog drifted sleepily
I'm having trouble keeping up with this steady passing of time
life continually slipping on past
the days a blurring of the calendar, 
trying for more sleep, more food, to remember my weakness
but it would be much handier to be invincible,
to have enough time to plan and dream and learn
the nights are too short but my dreams are flashbacks
moments and faces I've treasured and sometimes forgotten
it's a strange place to be.
Oh Love, that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee
Odd, bumping into that loneliness whenever I turn
but I have so so many to love
so many to cry for
and this humbling unassailable confidence 
that I am so loved.
Oh, the wonderful blood of Jesus
There are dark-eyed babies
and beautiful women limping 
through my head at 4:00AM
when I wake to this unsettling sense of homesickness
but I'm just a poor wayfaring stranger
traveling through this world of woe
there's no sickness, toil or danger
in that bright land to which I go
and home is the "tornado" of people in our converted-bowling-alley church after the service
home is that building with multiple cameras, multiple layers of locked doors,
to shelter its sacred contents
home is the sunshine through the iron windowpanes at CCEF morning prayer
home is my piano keyboard that grows a layer of dust faster than I expect it to
home is Christmas with my family by the fireside
home is the long table filled with soup-eaters before small group
home is anybody's baby in my arms
home is downtown Toronto through the dirty bus windows
home is green shoots poking through dark soil
home is my niece's smile, in person or on Skype
home is the flowers and teacups on my Oma's coffee table
home is my cousin's french press and steaks
home is the dip in the prairie grasses when you come over the hill to see the oaks and the graveyard and the community center and the elementary school and the little white church stake out my favorite town on the rez
home is hymns in four-part harmony
home is a latte on a Sunday afternoon
home is a beautiful thing
Oh, joy, that seekest me through pain
I cannot close my heart to thee
I trace the rainbow through the rain
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be


1/2/16

keeping up with traditions...

...yup I am that type.  I like that our family has random traditions like having an appetizer/finger food dinner while we open gifts, I like that my home church keeps the Dutch tradition of singing "Glory to God" after the annual Christmas program (we don't sing it in Dutch though, we're good Canadians that way) ...I have my own silly tradition of putting up a "tree" that consists of a couple fake branches in a vase and always has to be topped with a bow, rather than a star...  I guess it's the remembering part that I like about traditions.  I had a hard time remembering what I did last year for New Year's, but when we keep up our little traditions they bring back memories for me.  The tradition of choosing a word for the year helps me to remember in a different way. I guess it's a moment of looking back and looking for some particular way the Lord has led me and is teaching me.  Click on the "one word" label at the bottom of this post if you want to see the words I've chosen for past years.

This year's word is simple, and I think of it in two ways:
Faithfulness.
God is faithful, and as He continues to take over my life I'm realizing in new ways that I can't control my life, I can't do enough to get the results I want, but God is pleased when His children love Him and love others in whatever circumstances they're in.  In other words, I just have to be faithful where I'm at.  I don't need to figure everything out.

This year, I:

understood my weakness and my need in new ways.  When I ended up in the hospital for three days after an infected tooth reacted badly to a root canal, I was left physically weakened so much that I could hardly walk at first.  I've never been seriously sick before, so that was a first for me.  I was so thankful for the way the Lord showed His care for me through countless small and large kindnesses shown to me by my church, coworkers, friends and family in that time.  All year I've been less resilient than I'm used to being.  It's hard to remember that for whatever reasons my physical reserve is lacking and I can't push myself.  I'm slowly learning to listen to my body and slow down or go to sleep, and emotionally, not to spend too much time alone, to try to make more space for laughter and silliness.

Speaking of laughter, this year I gained a new title: Aunt Lizzi!  My niece Lydia made her appearance last January, and she is very beloved by all her family and friends.  We are all enraptured by her, and it's so fun to see my little sister and her husband as parents.  They are doing such a wonderful job.  Lydia reminds me that time passes quickly, which is a bittersweet realization when I am so far from family.  My Opa's health problems have been another reminder of this, and I treasure each visit with family knowing in a more tangible way that each time I see them, they have changed.  I am so looking forward to meeting three of my cousins' first little ones, who will be 2016 babies :)

This year I also said goodbyes and hellos as two of my roommates and some other good friends moved on to Florida, Michigan, Canada and other places after finishing their schooling here, and new friends have moved into the area.  I've also said hello to two roommates I already knew quite well - it's been such a blessing to live with two girls who have been good friends since my first year here.

I asked for help in new ways, taking advantage of working for a great counseling center to get some counseling for myself :)  My church has also offered me help in so many ways that have been such a blessing.

I started three new jobs, babysitting & tutoring/homeschooling three sweet kids from last March until I recently started working for an Opthamologist's office...  I also started subbing for the front desk at CCEF in addition to my cleaning work there.

I learned that grief and joy are deep and ought to be spoken and shared.  This is a little harder to explain, but I have been so comforted by Christ's simultaneous grief, joy, and sovereignty...  Personally I think of a number of things that I saw this in, but one that I particularly treasure was our week at Camp Oak Hills with the kids from Rosebud Reservation.  I've watched some of these kids grow up, and I was so honored to be able to share our week at camp.  Some of them are dealing with such hard things and they were so courageous and vulnerable in sharing their lives with us.  I was so privileged to be able to cry with them and yet I know that there is hope for us to be healed and so we can also rejoice like silly idiots because of that hope.  I think one of my favorite moments of the year was all the hugs I got from my girls after teaching one evening.

I faced one of my worst fears this year, or came close to it when one of my young friends attempted suicide multiple times.  There have been a number of other hard things this year, some very heavy burdens carried by and for people I love very deeply, but it's hard to express how much I fear losing one of my Rosebud friends who is not ready for eternity yet.  I love them very deeply and so that shook me, hard.  But I thank God that my friend was unsuccessful and is still with us.  I was reminded that last year a wise friend of mine told me, in a rather prophetic fashion, that if I loved broken people one day I would lose one of them.  He said it would help me to remember that they are not in my control, and in that way it will free me to love them better.  Oh, we are all so broken, and so in need of the Healer!

There are other things that stand out from this year but I think these are the ones I want to record for now.  Now it's 2016.  As I think about this year I am afraid, and I am confident.  I dread and I trust.  I long for restoration and yet the grace is sufficient because I love and I am loved.  I cling to Jesus because where else would I go?  He is everything, and I am content.




Photo credit:  my talented friend Rachel Heaton

11/26/15

because I am loved

This year I missed Canadian Thanksgiving but celebrated American thanksgiving with friends today.  I don't know if that means I'm acclimatizing or what.  Actually, I was just told by one of my Canadian cousins that I'm developing an accent =)

This was a bit of perspective that helped me today.   As I give thanks for God's admonitions that are for my good because He loves me, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on some of the things I have had to be thankful for recently.



3898.  "The Old Rugged Cross" and the unique way singing harmony allows you to simultaneously listen and agree.

3902.  Bubbles over the street

3938.  Apologies

3952.  Roommate laughter

3968.  Instagram squeals from the niece

3975.  Waking to the sound of rain



3979.  Irrepressible birdsong

4076.  Another free trial version of Photoshop

4086.  Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow

4095.  Stocking pigs and and toothbrush robots

4194.  My name on a welcome sign

4200.  The Psalm 126 song

4201.  Fall-scented candles



4206. How much my niece loves her mama

4211.  Breakfast with Mark, hot chocolate with Kenny

4212.  Grease and wrenches and the comfort of the shop, dad and brothers

4215.  Coworkers hanging over the railing yelling at me while I pull parts off the underside of my car =D



4218.  Lunch-break poetry

4222.  Light that shines in our hearts (2 Corinthians 4:6)

4227.  The kids that I babysit asking if I get paid extra for each meal I make for them because they think I enjoy "serving them"

4230.  Tilapia with cilantro, lime and parmesan

4232. So many thanksgiving pies

4234.  Hopeful watchmen, waiting for the Sun of Righteousness with the healing in His wings.


11/8/15

sunrise

stark velvet chill
bits of icy illumination
surround the contented moon

ahead of me the horizon blushes
faintly rainbowing the blue-black quiet
the light is certainly coming, but the anticipation drags on

there's a ray of promise,
I think
it builds a swell of glow

the sky-blind is lifted
and like a holy unveiling,
a sacred disrobing,
the brilliance overtakes us

after the shy of it
did you expect it to be this warm, this blinding?

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Sometimes I am melodramatic... Bear with me. My favorite thing is finding hope in hard places. If you enjoyed something (or not) I would love to hear from you! You can make me very happy by leaving a comment :)

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