that Black Hole

Is nothing but Fear,

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painting a tunnel onto a rock that looks so real,

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so dark and endlessly deep,

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that you dig in your heels hard and desperate and

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when that doesn’t work, you

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 thrash in your spirit thinking you’d rather face bodily death,

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even death, than go into that terror, that Black Hole just ahead.

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Open my eyes to see You between me and It.

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Your servant angels bearing me up on their pinions,

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gently staying my runaway train on

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the track where it rises up, higher and nearer 

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To the Light of Your everlasting presence.

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Some Foolishness

Here’s some Montana-branded foolishness…

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that they call a ranch rodeo.

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God made people crazy creative, didn’t He?

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He made all these little pockets of people

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who collectively come up with the darndest ways to turn work into foolishness and fun.

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(and keep my doctor husband supplied with plenty of business as long as this rowdy, hard working culture carries on)

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See the fourth photo down if you need to see the man up and smiling after his little encounter with that cow with a much more sour sense of humor than he had about it all:)

Feeling Like You’re About to Go Down?

At eye level on my fridge is a card with this little phrase from Amy Carmichael written on it:

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“If you would live in victory… you must refuse to be dominated by the seen and felt.”

Seeing and feeling blind us, don’t they?

We hardly notice the streetlights in town as we walk beneath them at night. The sky feels black and small around their yellow light, and we cannot see up and over to the sky above, nor do we even think to. We walk along as if the street is just another room in our world and sometimes those barely visible stars on the edges catch our eye, but they are drowned out by incandescent and so they should be, is how we behave.

And all the while, in the vast universe of reality, it is those streetlights that are mere glimmering flecks on a tiny planet, while the night sky is filled with billions and billions of stars!

Refuse to be dominated by the seen and felt this week. By God’s grace that life of victory is one that even you, and even I, can attain!

“Oh for grace to trust Him more…”

Prepared: No Eye Has Seen…

Nor ear has heard,

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nor the heart of man imagined,

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what God has prepared for those who love Him... First Corinthians 2:9

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A future-  Hope!

But what is a body to do while we wait?

Why all this working, loving, creating, changing, suffering, relating, and laughing that we are in the middle of, right now?

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For we are His workmanship…

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created in Christ Jesus for good works,

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Able to do those good works in Christ.

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So the purpose, the point of the right now…

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is to work against the current of the world.

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which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:9-10

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A future prepared just for us.

A present prepared, just for us.

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Right now, grace to do those good works in Christ, because of Christ!

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And “some glad morning, when this life is over”,

a future too wonderful and good for words or any comparisons.

His Birthday and Her

When my daughters had their birthdays just four short days apart last May, I remembered like I do once a year every year, vividly, the day they were born.

I remember the feelings, the pain, the dark room, my husband’s presence, the mystery, the profound knowledge that very soon our lives would never be the same. I remember the blood, the dizzy, the terrifying pain, and a warm little person on my bare chest. I remember the exhaustion, selfishness that was being shredded from my skin as if my skin itself was being torn off, that moment the labor pains began in a process that might not end until that sticky selfishness is all gone or until I die, and I suspect the latter will come first.

I remember the sunshine, our family, our slightly larger family, the spring irises and peonies in bloom, old house smells and the new cribs bought with love by my in-laws. Waiting for sunrise, rocking to the warmth of a life in my arms, packing lunch for a weary husband before the sun showed itself, pulling covers over my head with her cry and crying just as hard as she was because all that pushing and carrying and stripping off of self is hard on a body.

Two birthdays out of the year I remember all of that and I smile. My girls are tall, beautiful, happy, smart, and they both want to take communion at church now because they believe that Jesus is real and that His shed blood gives them new life.

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And then there’s that day in November. I remember that birth just as well as the other two, but differently. I don’t think of blood or pain, no dizzy, no black vortex of labor and babies coming out with joy and the hardest physical work of my life. I just remember the black smartphone, ringing early and me waking to my husband’s voice. Walking into the bathroom from our bed and not able to even see the light because I knew that we had been given a son.

Given.

I remember waiting, half hope, half terror, and waiting and waiting and waiting some more. Waiting as my husband talked on the phone to the person unexpectedly brokering this gift, waiting on the longest mile car-ride in the world, waiting in the elevator, waiting behind the nurses station. I twisted back and forth in my spinning chair and tried to hold on to at least one of the million thoughts swirling around in my head like glitter in a water globe. My husband sat still with his jaw set but his eyes just barely shined with hope.

And I will never, ever forget walking into a barely-lit hospital room to meet her. I sat by her bed, close to her face, with my back turned to the door. She was beautiful like all women are after they’ve given birth. She was a fellow mother, and she wanted to do right by her son. There was a look of certainty, pure beauty, and pain on her face all at the same time.

And so she signed some papers, and I spent the next day with our new baby boy. We named him Jonathan after the courageous, God-loving man in the Bible, and Haven, after his daddy and his daddy’s daddy and his daddy’s daddy’s daddy’s uncle.

Three years later, I think of her every so often, but especially on the day she gave birth to my son. I pray that one day we can meet, just one more time, so I can thank her and tell her how much we love her.

She gave my family the greatest gift one human can give to another- the gift of a life. And every birthday of his I get to remember, and the thought of him, and of her, makes me bow my head a little, and smile.

When You Want to Do This Right

When there is a planner with days scribbled on and scratched out and circled

And something to go in the oven, and stirred on the stove, bought at the grocery store, a list to be completed,

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A suburban, full plus one, to drive to school in the gray and snow, a little one in the front seat blinking hard to keep the tears in,

Only an already-gone moment to discern whether to speak, or be quiet and listen

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To do or to simply be available.

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When the shoe shelf turns into a heap of strings and colors, all different sizes jumbled into one

And time moves closer to later than you want it to be

A kitchen crowded with five humans and a dog, each one with stories from a day with people

Only one supper’s length to share it all in words and smiles

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To give, with hope that God really will provide what you need.

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When you just want to do this right

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And nice words from days already gone spread thin and dry up, so you sip at your coffee and find something to tidy but what you really want to do is tidy your soul, but you can’t, so you want to escape it all instead and buy a ticket to Tahiti.

You read Nehamiah, “the joy of the LORD is your strength“, and realize that the sorrows of the world are not your strength- who knew?

And sing “Jesus, Lover of my Soul” as loud as you can over the toddler boys dumping and stuttering and laughing and needing.

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When you just want to do this thing right

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And no one walks in your front door to tell you, with authority, that, in fact, you are.

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Take heart, dear sister or brother, that we are not home yet.

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And if anyone tells you that home is here and you can find it,

shut the door gently in their face.

And get back to circling, writing, cleaning, driving, speaking, cooking, listening, and loving.

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For your strength does not lie in the filling the needs that crowd around you, not much unlike those chickens when they see you carrying that bucket of feed-

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your strength lies in Yaweh- The LORD.

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The joy of the LORD is your strength.

Three Degrees This Morning

She wanted to make breakfast this morning and asked if she could mix up some orange juice, she saw the concentrate in the freezer.

I said to myself heck no-

but I said yes.

DSC_0075-3The table was a mess of stuff in boxes and jars.

The orange juice was fantastic.

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And so was the day.

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Why I’m Here (and maybe you, too?)

By default, I find myself thinking that God put me in His world here because He knows my kids need me. There’s something pleasingly martyr-like about the idea of living for my kids’ sake.

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He moved us out of our country home a few months ago into town- it was a little bit like prodding me out of a warm cozy bed to start the day’s work honestly- and now here we are in the factory/oil refinery side of town, because this neighborhood might need me here and there too, is what I find myself thinking. I’m glad we did it, but I make excuses to drive out of town sort of often lately. This morning I caught myself looking over my shoulder as I drove by a wheat field filled with cold sunshine. I wanted to sunbathe in it for a day or two and see nothing but sky and snow for miles. Even better, a cabin right in the middle of it where I wouldn’t have to see people or talk to them or make decisions about them.

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I realized that that idea was a little crazy, although I’m sometimes jealous of people who live that way. But I asked God as we drove further from nothing and closer to town, why did He put a recluse like me in a world full of people? My family and friends might need me some, but I’m not necessary for their lives to go on living.

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My neighborhood is a little broken down in places and there’s obvious work to be done; but it would go on just fine if I never set foot in it again.

All this I told God, and even as I write that I’m astounded that the curtain was torn and we have access to the God of creation, of everything that is and will be…. that I can drive along and lust after some sunshine in a field and lay out my conundrums before *that* God and He hears me.

So I’m not necessary for life, not at all. God’s work in my family and my community will get done just fine whether or not I choose to join in on it.  And before I had a chance to ask God- “Then why in the world am I here???”- I realized the truth about it. (How do I forget for so long?)

God loves me enough that He wants to include me in on the work He’s doing in my family and in my community. He knows I’m nothing but dust, that I don’t deserve to raise these three kids that I get mad at and parent badly (too often!), that my husband would survive just fine without me and my community would too.

But He loves me, and this work He prods me out of bed for every day is so that I can get closer to His heart, because it’s His work to be done.

I realized it’s like those times when my dad would be fixing one of the cars that had broken down and he let me hand him tools from the box, or even, if I proved myself especially trustworthy, turn the wrench and get some grease on my fingers too.

How do I stay so so selfish to think that everyone and everything important to me needs me, grieve when they act like they don’t, and find joy in the worth they place on me by trusting me to meet their needs?

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I feel silly and a tiny bit ridiculous writing all of that out because it’s obvious to many people, I forget more than most. But God is good, He reminds us when we go astray because He loves us, and I’m so thankful for that this morning that I had to write it out:)