Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Adoption

The little girl is ashamed of the mud smudging her cheeks, the tear tracks, the grime.  Her hair has been chopped off and left in piles on the floor.  She is a sheep shorn, a flower tread into the ground.  She knows she looks a mess with her muddy bare feet and torn dress, but only knowing can't change how things are. 

She gazes around her at the walls of the orphanage.  An artist has painted lovely murals over the brick and plaster: rainbows, flower gardens, sea shores, and farm yards.  As magical as the painted walls appear, the prettiest of paintings remain only a lonely reflection of the beauties that exist outside, just out of reach.

In the orphanage, other little girls and boys live in similar states of disarray.  All wander in hopes of discovering purpose, birds that have fallen from their nests, seeds scattered in the wind.  The little girl once lived like this, striving to find purpose in things that never mattered, like her long locks of hair.  Like the calm and pretty mask she sets before her eyes at the start of each morning to hide the blackened mess inside, a reminder of the loveliness of the walls around her that bring little more than aches and yearnings for truth. 

No more.  Earlier this day, the little girl took a pair of rusty scissors and cut each pretty curl from her head, one-by-one.  She feels shattered, unlovable, dirty.

Footsteps cause the little girl to look up with surprise.  A man stands in the doorway, watching with eyes that burn and heal all at once.  "I've come for you," he says in a soft voice.

The little girl shakes her head.  She is a glass of water spilled upon the ground, a flower opening to the sun.  Does the man not see her filthiness, what she has done to herself?  No one should touch her, let alone speak to her so gently, so kindly, but he does.

The man walks into the room with purpose and strength.  His eyes gaze eagerly into the little girl's, seeking to break through her masks, for there are many, and into her heart.  He kneels on the ground, despite the dirt and filth and shame, and lifts the child into his arms.  "I've come for you because I love you.  I am your father."

A thrill of joy bursts within the little girl's very being, a hand gripped in love, a ray of sunshine, a laugh as uninhibited as the sky.

As the father carries his daughter away from the loneliness and empty promises of the orphanage, she sees the sky for the first time.  The real sky.  It is so very blue.  The grass is so very soft.  The painted walls of the orphanage did little to capture the beauty of the outside world; they seem pale and meaningless compared to all she sees now.

"I want to learn to love like you do," the daughter says.

The father smiles at her.  How he delights in her.  "My child, I'll show you every day." 

Adopted.  Redeemed.  Embraced into arms so loving that she knows she is no longer broken.  The daughter is awed; she gazes around her with wide, clear eyes, no masks to be found.

"I'm so glad you're mine."  The father places a flower in his daughter's hair.  Her locks are still shorn, but she is beautiful as she frolics in the sunlight that flushes her cheeks.  She is already growing, already healing. 

The daughter smiles.  For the first time in her life, she feels worth.  She is pure, a flower tilted towards the sun, a heartbeat, a planted seed that will one day become a towering oak.  "Father," she whispers, simply because she can.  She belongs.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pearls (A Poem About Waiting)


God chose someone. I know that.
"Just wait, be good," they all say.
Add pearls to my hope chest, 
Hide yearnings in my heart.
God made him, someone special, 
To fit me in every way; he will.
I'll love him. We'll smile. 
The time is just not now.
But when?
These are the whispers of a little girl.
I'm waiting. I'm saving. I'm singing,
But Jesus, I do wonder.
I want to meet you. 
I want to know things about you.
I want to say your name out loud and not feel silly.
I want to laugh with you, 
Hold your hand and dance around the room,
Tell you things nobody else has never known about me. 
I want to listen. I want to be there,
An umbrella when it's raining, 
Your smiling flower when it's sunny.
I'll be yours. You'll be mine, 
A reflection of all He ever planned.
I don't know if we've met, but when we do,
I'll be here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fill Me

What I am about to share is written like a poem, but it has absolutely no specific rhythm or rhyme.  I know some poems are that way, but more than anything, I see this as a prayer.  This is something I wrote during a quiet time with Jesus today (rather, very early this morning).  I wouldn't always share private times, but I see this as a kind of encouragement, whispers of my heart that may reflect yours. 

Fill Me
And what is left but to tearfully say,
"Take every part of me. Breathe Your grace into me."
I'm broken. I'm empty. I've fallen. I'm dust.
So break every part of me. Fill me with You.
This world, it has nothing to offer,
Only broken promises and dreams on the ground.
Yet You raise me to life. You sing to me.
My fragile dreams; You paint life, beauty, hope.
I throw aside the vastness of all of Your grace
And instead dress in ashes. I bear stones of shame.
You take them, each pebble. You wash them away.
My name, You whisper. I am made anew. 
Father, watch me dance. Daddy, here I am.
How I thirst to look into those eyes, Your eyes.
I'm Yours, small and empty, a vessel You fill.
My hand on my heart, how You breathe.
See me. See me. My tears, everything.
The wonder of You like dew to my soul.
Once I trembled, shattered to pieces again. Again.
You have made me whole. You claimed me.
Father, Daddy, please fill me with You.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Garden

My walk with the Lord moves through seasons.  This is a natural part of life on earth.  Moments, feelings, memories change and stay the same all at once.

Some days, I am enamored with my Savior.  I cling to Him with joy and passion from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until the moment I go to bed that night.  How I love Him.  I feel His unfailing love for me, cherishing me, holding me as the apple of His eye.  I dance for Him.  Daddy, watch me run.  Hear me sing.  Lift me onto Your knee.  And He does.

Other days are harder.  A ridge in the path causes me to stumble.  A relationship falters.  Something breaks my heart.  Consumed by emotion and confusion, I turn on Him, demanding answers.  He has always been my Redeemer, the One who rescues me.  Where is my Rock today?  I weep, I withdraw, I vent.  And yet He holds me. 

There are even seasons of apathy.  The world is filled with sharp stones and heavy bricks that stoop my frail shoulders if I do not allow my Father to take them from me.  The Word holds less meaning for me during those days.  My relationship with Jesus becomes one of routine and responsibility, rather than one of passion and intimacy.  In these times, I no longer feel like I am a newlywed, frolicking as one who is treasured by the One.  I am only tired.  And so I distance myself from Him.  And He whispers to me still.

During the more difficult seasons, especially those of weariness and gray thoughts, a tremor begins to make its way through my heart until it is the only thing I can feel.  I grasp at the air.  I thirst; oh, how I long to feel what I once did for my precious Father.  So I plead with Him in a rasping, broken voice that mirrors the fractured pieces of my heart.  Return to me.  Return to me, Daddy.  How I need You.

And like a child who feels needlessly lost and abandoned within a store while his mother watches smilingly down the aisle, I am swept up into His arms, lost in the mirth and endless depth of His eyes.  Those eyes.

Oh, beloved, I have been here all along.  Why did you fear?  I made you a promise.

Then I remember.  His voice, His touch, His gaze.  My name.  How did I ever lose sight of all that gives me sustenance?

Father.  Beloved.  I bury my face in His chest, allow His passion to overwhelm my heart until I overflow like a glass emptied into the loveliest of gardens.  He gently washes away my burdens and shame as if they are merely dust on the shoes of one who has traveled for miles.  He whispers my name.  I sing to Him.  Such joy.

The passion does not always come easily.  It does not always come like a fountain, an unexpected thrill, a brand new song.  There are days when my love for Him feels like a worn garment draped uselessly over my trembling shoulders.  Seasons come and go.  My earthly emotions may sift like sand, but He remains the same.  And through the storms, the driest deserts, and the richest of gardens, still He holds me. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Precious Father, how I've faltered,
Yet You've never left my side.
You lifted me up from the ashes
You called me Your Bride.
Let my life bring You glory.
This is all that I desire.
You are worthy to be praised, Lord,
So light with me Your fire.


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Taste of Encouragement

If you are struggling at this moment with doubts or discouragements or fears, let me encourage you.

The Lord delights in bringing joy and peace to you.  He not only lavishes His love upon us out of mercy, but out of delight.  His love is incomprehensible, indescribable.  He longs to bring healing and joy and wholeness into your life. 

Isaiah 30:18
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.  For the Lord is a God of justice.  Blessed are all who wait for him!

Don't give up hope today.  

You may be going through the darkest trial of your life.  It may simply be "one of those days" where nothing seems to go right.  No matter where you live, exams are probably coming up.  Balancing classes and studying and organizations and schedules can be so stressful, but remember why you were created.

You are loved.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Room

The rain has not ceased for days.  My hair is plastered against my head.  Rivulets of water stream down my cheeks and catch in my eyelashes.  I peer through the window.  The scene inside is lovely and warm.  Light like honey glows from within, warming my face and drawing an aching from the depths of my heart.

Gentle thunder rumbles overhead.  I shiver.  So long I've been standing outside, waiting to be allowed into the lit room.  As if far away, I hear the music, the laughter.  Sometimes the window is cracked open, just far enough for me to smell the feast and to hear the words spoken so joyfully from the inside.  Muffled, soft, but they cause my heart to sing and break at the same time. 

I reach my hand towards the window and it shuts with a clap, leaving nothing but the memory of the room's warmth to flush my cheeks.  I press my palm flat against the glass. 

How am I not seen?  Why am I still outside?

Empty promises.  Hopes that fall to the ground like the rain around me, left to gather at my naked feet.  I'm wearing my prettiest dress.  I so wanted to look my best.

Not enough.

Still, I stand outside, looking in with vague hopes of welcome.  I can never hear all that is spoken, nor can I ever feel the true comfort of the fire.  How I desire to sit near the hearth and eat of the feast inside.  But it isn't mine and it isn't to be, though I once thought it was.

Tilting my face to the sky, I close my eyes and allow the rain to strike my skin, wash me clean.  Make me forget.  Forget what?  That I wasn't invited.  The confusion.  The hurt.  Oh, the quiet whispers of the rain. 

I take a halting step backwards, my soaked dress heavy against my skin.  My bare feet are soft against the slick stones beneath them.  One more look into the lit room that is never to be mine.  The lantern inside flushes my cheeks for the last time.  How I long to be a part of that room, of that feast, but the room is not mine.  The name sung is not my own.

Perhaps somewhere, another block or another town, there is a room where I belong with a song sung only for me.  Perhaps I will be welcomed inside, embraced and wrapped in a warm cloak.  No more rain.  No more cold.  Perhaps.  Or perhaps I am meant for the air, for the rain, for the gentle embrace of the sky above.

My hand falls from the pane of the window, coming to rest at my side.

The rain still falls.  I walk slowly, weary under the weight of the hopes I've carried, broken by the empty meaning of my drenched white dress.  But a song whispers into my heart, lifting my spirit.  My name.  My song.  I am desired.  I do belong, somewhere. 

So I walk.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


"Spin me around, Daddy."

As a little girl, one of my biggest delights was when my father would lift me into his arms and spin me around.  I felt as if I was soaring through the air, as fast and as high as a bird, but I was never afraid as long as my daddy's arms held me close.  I knew he would not drop me.

When I was young, very young, I imagined God as a jolly, wise figure, almost like Santa Claus.  When I was afraid or sad, I would close my eyes and imagine myself enveloped within His arms, resting my cheek against the warmth and fatherly strength of His chest.  I imagined feeling His heart beat, flushing with joy under the love in His gaze.

As a little girl, I only knew God as Daddy.

Years passed and I began to turn away from the faith of my childhood.  I didn't have the same trust in Father-God anymore and for a time I also lost faith in my earthly father.  As I grew in stature, I knew that if my daddy tried to spin me around, his strength would falter.  I was not a little girl anymore.  I was too heavy, too big.  My name for my father changed from Daddy to Dad.  My name for God turned from Daddy to Judge.

The God I saw in my classes at school and in the early books of the Bible seemed like a harsh, angry being who encouraged legalism and hated people who made mistakes... and I knew I made so many.  I dreaded His wrath.  When I saw the hurting in the world, I could not find His mercy.

When I was fourteen years old, I gave my life to the Lord and began to eagerly seek Him through His Word.  Throughout the entirety of the Bible, in Leviticus, in Isaiah, in Song of Solomon, in 1 Corinthians, I finally saw one God.  I saw a just God who is also a God of love.  He is ever-faithful and a Father who accepted me as His child with delight.  He is worthy. 

As I further grew in the Lord, I also grew closer to my own father.  Although I no longer leaped into his arms so he would spin me in circles and throw me into the air, I would take his hand.  I was still his little girl.  I'd look to him for guidance and wisdom.  I wanted to be like him. 

College began over a year ago.  With the entrance of all-nighters and brand new friends and newfound independence also came the start of the dating world.  I still stand along the farthest edge of this place, peering in with wide and curious eyes, but as I watch, I'm beginning to think about marriage for the first time in my life.  What does it mean to fall in love?  What am I looking for in a significant other?  Who do I want to be to the man I marry?  I want to reflect attributes of Jesus to my husband.  I want to be a servant.  I want to radiate selfless love.  I want to be a true friend.

And in my search, I am beginning to understand what it means when Christ calls me His Bride.  What it means to love Him as a child and as a servant and as a bride all at once.

I want to know Him, not just from His Word, but in His Spirit.  I want to have an intimate relationship with my Jesus.  I thrill in His presence.  I stand in awe of His Name.  I love Him and I feel loved by Him.  I am His Bride.

When I do one day fall in love and get married, I will use the earthly examples of my precious daddy and my beloved husband to remember the beautiful purpose of love the Lord has created for my heart.  I want to reflect this to others as well.

God is love. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Broken Cisterns

One thing I've found is that the college lifestyle is a selfish one.

It's so easy to focus on your own trials, your own frustrations, and your own needs when you live in a world that primarily seems to revolve around you.  You are expected to make good grades and focus daily on studying, to overcome homesickness and become ultimately independent away from your parents, and you aren't necessarily expected to check in with anyone when you come and go.  It's so easy to become caught up in a selfish perspective during your college years.

I had a friend who entered college terrified about the academics.  She so desperately wanted to make a 4.0 that as soon as the semester began, I hardly heard from her.  Mornings, mealtimes, weekends, and evenings were nearly all spent studying alone in libraries and her dorm room.  By the end of first semester, she told me she felt frustrated that she had so easily allowed her world to become all about herself and her studying.  Unfortunately, she felt almost as if her semester had been wasted.  Even though she achieved the 4.0 she wanted, she had not fulfilled the purpose the Lord had set before her.  Her light didn't reach as far as it was intended to shine.

Even if you don't allow yourself to become entirely absorbed with studying, college life can still turn your focus towards you and your problems rather than towards serving those around you.  Your college lifestyle may not be necessarily rebellious or stereotypically sinful, but the problem with an average college day is when you do not spend time being poured into as well as pouring into others.  The Lord can be glorified through your excelling in schoolwork, but if studying becomes your world, then it becomes your idol as well.

If you are living through college without consistently finding opportunities to serve others and share the Gospel, then something is tragically wrong.  Your days are being wasted.

Galatians 5:13 says, "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."  College years are certainly a time of freedom from responsibility and many worldly problems.  However, the focus of your life should be to bring God glory and to share His love with everyone around you.  Ask the Lord to bring Gospel-focused conversations and opportunities to serve others into your daily life and He will.

Smile at people walking by.  Make conversation on the bus.  Actually meet the person sitting next to you in class.  Make an effort to meet friends for coffee.  Take time to pray for the people around you.  Connect with the Christian community.  Find an accountability partner and meet with them often.

Remember that these four years are not about you.  Even on the most stressful day of the semester, you are still alive so that you can bring glory to God and share His love.

In Jeremiah 2:13, the Lord says, "They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."  When we rely on ourselves and our own independence, it's like we have crafted for ourselves a shabby, broken piece of pottery to hold our lives together, when the Lord has created for us a strong and beautiful cistern that is not broken and will not shatter, no matter how heavy our burdens become.  Why do we continue to choose that filthy shard of pottery that couldn't hold us together to begin with?

College life is not a time to be self-centered.  It's a time you can learn to use your independence to place your everything into God's hands and let Him do with it what He will.

Some days you may end up sacrificing an hour of studying to listen to someone open up about their struggles.  Some days you may need to sacrifice your comfort to share the Gospel with somebody in your class.  Some days you may have to learn how to release the stress that so easily consumes everything in your life to the Lord, so that He can bring you a peace and a joy that surpasses everything else.

When you spend your four years of college focused on serving others rather than yourself, people will notice.  You will seem vastly different.  Your light will shine so brightly.

Live these years as a servant.  Fill your conversations with kindness and grace.  Focus daily on sharing God's love with every single person you encounter.

Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  Make this passage a goal for how you live your college life.  Don't let these four years revolve around you and your problems.  Allow the Lord's beautiful purpose to shine through your college years.