The Desert Season

I walked in that desert place.

I made my bed in the wilderness.

I reclined on a parched heart and soul.

I distracted myself with mirages of false hope.

 

I became acquainted with blackened dead lands.

I dug in the ground for hidden waters.

I came up weary, with empty hands.

I remembered the comforts of my home.

 

I was thirsting for the wellspring of life

I was craving the taste of well-seasoned truth.

And searching for refuge from the sun and from the cold.

Instead I found the darkest nights, without a fire and all alone.

 

And then I saw the green on the horizon.

A forest of trees planted by living waters

I inhaled the fragrance of winter turned to spring.

And tasted the flavor of hope on the 4 winds coming.

 

And suddenly, I understood grace

In ways, I’d never had known

If I never had walked through the desert

If I never had that wilderness home.

 

And,

There is a feast in the famine

Jesus prepared for me.

There is a river in the drylands

only the “come like a child” can see.

There is safety in the night

From the covering of Sovereign peace.

And God, Himself, handed it all over to me!

 

There is drink to end all thirst,

Honeyed wine reserved for me.

It’s the essence of the Spirit that has

Made Her home in me.

There is rest under the green,

The perfect shade of all dreams…

Sent to refresh and to breathe

Winds of mercy over me.

 

What an untamed flood,

Carrying away the desert sands.

What glorious waters, breaking away these man made damns!

What a voice of love speaking dry bones into life!

The 4 winds released their breath – prophesied me into flesh!

 

I have a Watchman, keeping and guarding me.

Shining within, enlightening me.

Gracious  and kind,

Merciful and favored…

Peace is the result,

I’m forever grateful.

 

Yielding Up My Wounds (2017 Journal entry)

I know you, He says. You are not hidden from me.

You turn to false loves, but they cannot cure you. They cannot heal your wounds.

Seek me. Return and repent (vv. 3, 14-15, my paraphrase).

The past two years have reaped of bleeding wounds. Even worse, they were old wounds. To put it plainly, it was like I took a knife in my own hands and strategically cut them open.

The devastation of cancer, loss and waning friendships struck something in me. A fear, and anxiety that I would be left behind.

I would be abandoned.

Even at 37, I feel like a small child, forgotten and locked away, at times.

It is nonsensical.

I am a grown woman. But, you see, my heart was aching from these internal wounds that festered, yearning to be healed but refusing the balm of Divine ministry.  So, instead, a thick scar tissue formed and became a barrier to permanent healing and restoration. As a result,  the scar tissue grew and grew until it became so hardened that I took a knife and ripped it open…

But the gushing and throbbing pains that resulted did not cure me. Instead, they reminded me of the fresh agonies of life, and in a most childlike way, I  ran and….

I hid.

It was then, I discovered a void that expanded in me, an undiscovered wilderness land.

What do I do? Lord….I call and hear nothing. Even in your arms, I am unsettled.

I don’t want to live unsettled.

This is not what you have for me. This is not from you or because of you.

I know that:

You see me hiding…

You see me injuring myself.

And, you prowl around my heart like a lion, guarding my heart, thwarting my attempts to run and hide, and protecting me from a full on prodigal rebellion ….

God, I  know you are with me.  I  know you are inside my darkness, with me, holding me, and hedging me in from myself.

Today, I finally hear you.

And, you are saying, “Nothing can heal your wounds but me.”

O God,

Help me to stop injuring myself. Help me to stop ripping apart old wounds. Take this   hardened scar tissue and seeping wounds and regenerate it with new flesh.

I lift my sick and bruised and battered body to you….

I  allow you to minister to my self-inflicted wounds….

Balm of Gilead,

Here I am……

You’ve called me and I’ve come, Lord. I am ready to be healed.

Uncover my darkness  and contend with it like the conquering Lion you are.

Amen

In The Using (a journal entry from 2017)

In the dark, quiet morning, I rose before anyone else. I slowly walked into the kitchen, careful to not turn on any lights along the way. I lit a few candles and proceeded to make my French-pressed morning coffee, and I stood at the counter. There, I slowly began to awaken, with forced movements and the fragrant aroma of ground coffee beans nudging me into my morning routine.

A few more candles…

A selected mug…

I silence my phone, turn on my MacBook , sit in my favorite chair underneath my favorite blanket, coffee in hand, scripture before my eyes, and the Spirit fellowshipping with me and….

this is my favorite place.

45 minutes pass, and it’s time to get the kiddo up. This sacred allotment of time never seems enough, but I know it will multiply and manifest throughout my day, because grace.

And then, the family is off to work and school, and now I’m back in this sacred sanctuary of reading the Psalms, highlighting, underlining, reading a chapter in a few books I’ve selected for this season in my life, praying and finally, ending with a turn at the piano Psalming and spontaneously worshipping….

 

At around 9:00, I’m done and began to set out with our pup for his walk. Before I left though, I asked God to show me something beautiful – something to remind me that God is the creator of creativity and the artist of all artists.

He did not fail me…

As I started to walk,  I noticed this perfect blue sky. From all directions and the perfect color, this is a mix that I am certain could not be recreated with human hands. As I continued to walk, I stopped underneath a lattice of branches. Wild, growing and extending over me like a canopy, I paused to take it all in. Through the branches, the  sun still gazed through, reminding me that the Sun of God lights up every place He chooses, despite the obstacles between myself and heaven.

I continued on, and then I saw a sign in front of a church and it said “Forgiveness is giving love when there is no reason to….”

My favorite part was the “….” Because, I know when I am bitter and walking in unforgiveness, I cannot SEE enough to realize that the reason for forgiving is so that I can SEE again.

It’s in that state where I am blinded to worldly reason, unable to see the other side of forgiveness, where my eyes open to heaven’s reasoning (mercy, which in turn, heals, and allows me to see again, completely eliminating the desire for justice to be served).

After pausing at the sign, I continued to walk and I came across an old tree whose roots were arranged like octopus legs. It struck me that the roots were so visible, yet also so deep that it not only pushed out the curb, but cracked and misshaped the road running alongside it.

I looked up and realized that this tree had grown so far and so wide that it extended across the road, meeting  another tree in the middle, thus forming a bridge over me.

As I walked around the tree, taking it in, my eyes began to focus on an old playground on the side of the church….It was used, old and rusty but still being used in its current state. It was almost like I could hear the voices of the children, the squeals of delight, the shrieking, the laughing, the running and mischief all around!

And then I heard the Spirit, plainly and clearly, rising up in me one phrase.

“Oh, to be used.”

I said it aloud, “Oh…to be used.”

And then I thought of the trees and the branches and the roots and the playground and I asked myself, “Have I really allowed myself to be used?”

Sure, I’ve allowed myself to be MISUSED. But have I really allowed myself to be USED in the way I’ve been purposed for?

The answer is NO, not really.

My pastor stood at the altar yesterday and prayed over all of us, that we would be used. This is Christian lingo for being surrendered to the work of Christ, so much so, that our lives are evidence of the existence of Christ.

With a picture of my pastor praying over our congregation in my head, I asked myself why. Why have I not completely yielded myself? I thought of my heart for people, my fears, my insecurities, my dreams and I realized that I have not been used because I have been so much more interested in preserving myself, protecting myself and memoralizing myself.

What does that mean?

Well….if preserving something means ensuring its survival in its current state, rendering it unchanged, then guilty . If protecting myself means not getting hurt, not exposing vulnerability for fear of judgement or rejection, then guilty. If protecting myself means not walking on a relational tightrope or jumping off a metaphorical cliff, or falling down on try-a-new- and-different-thing-your-not-good-at-sidewalk, then GUILTY!

See where I’m going?

If memorializing myself means building a collection of things I have gotten right, accolades and awards, then guilty. If memorializing means setting up my life in photos that could never take the place of my essence and legacy, then GUILTY...

You see,  I haven’t been used fully because I’ve been too busy protecting, preserving and memorializing myself, all the while thinking that I’m cultivating myself with selflessness. Yet,  in reality, I’m killing my growth with selfishness.

I can see it now, and…

  • I want to be like the tree with octopus roots, dug so deep that I’m shaking the concrete over me and pushing the curbs out around me.
  • I want to be like the tree with wild branches, forming a lattice of beauty over people and building bridges in the sky over whole communities.
  • I want to be like the sign, offering forgiveness and giving love away, even when I have no single, logical reason to do so.
  •  I want to be like that playground…..old and rusty she may be, but she was purposed for providing exhilarating JOY and for turning countless kids into superheroes.

I want to be MORE but I’ll never be more wearing my life preserver, holding my weapons of defense and content with building my shrines.

You see, preserving, protecting and building shrines include at least three things: fear complacency, and self-interest. These three things ALL eventually result in death. Death to fruiting, death to growing and death to being used….death in friendships (yes),  death in spiritual promotion, and death in an ever-expanding identity.

We will find ourself constantly reacting from a place of fear instead of responding from a place of peace, trust, confidence, boldness, ….. ultimately, failing to see that God is really with us, powerful, and trustworthy.

We will find ourselves stagnant in complacency instead of being vibrant in our zealousness for the Lord.

And lastly, we will find ourselves shackled with handcuffs of our own making instead of being able to freely move within the identities the Lord has carved in us.

You know,

In our world, when something expires, it gets thrown away. But, in the kingdom, NO ONE ever expires or gets thrown away. EVERYONE can be used for an eternity. Whether we are 4 years old or 94, we can be used for the Kingdom. This is why we were made.

In fact, it was a 90 something year old women who spoke prophetically over me and encouraged me to follow the direction God was calling me. Sure, I had worship leaders and pastors over me who encouraged me, but this lady spoke out to me the specific pictures and visions the Spirit had put on my heart. The unjournaled, secret and sacred , she spoke out over me. She had no way of knowing. But she was still being used, despite her age, because of her age!  She didn’t let age stop her, and why should she? God is more powerful than age restrictions. Did he not first call out to Moses when Moses was 80 years old…and then continue to use him for 40 more years afterwards?

So, as I walked home, I thought about being usable. I want to be used, yes, but also usable. Pliable. Could I set myself aside in the unyielded and sacrificial way that I’ve been purposed for?

No more preserving. No more protecting. No more memorializing?

No more fear, no more complacency, no more self-interest?

That is where my heart lives today, a new season, a new territory, a new prayer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than a feeling,

More than a song.

You are not fleeting,

You are personal.

 

You want us to be like You,

Where You are,

In Your glory,

Embraced by Your heart.

 

And,

This is where friendship lies.

Not in the blandness of the earth,

Nor in the drama or lies.

 

So I will listen.

I  will seek stillness.

I’ll unpack the dirty and the hidden,

And open up to You, my one true friend

 

A true friend…

No one is truer than You

A listening friend…

Friendship is what You want.

Friendship is my response.

 

Sharing with You my whole life,

This is how I spend my time.

Because the truth of who You are,

Leads me home into Your heart.

 

What Are You, Anyway? ( a poem, of sorts)

They said,
“What are you, anyway?”

I  pretended I didn’t know

What they were talking about.

“I’m me, that’s who.”

(Even though I knew what they were getting at.)

 

“No, but what are you?” They asked,

“You know what I mean.”

I just belong here,” I said, 

In a way, not so specific,

Wanting them to say exactly what they meant.

 

“Okay, what race are you?” they said,

with resignation and emphasis.

“I  just am curious, because I need a label to 

organize you with my things that make sense. 

I’ve got a black and white world;

I don’t see any color now, you see.

Blue, black, polka-dots,

Green orange, and  brown

How, your skin intrigues me.

Because,

you speak English so well…

No accent detected; 

So what are you, anyway?

I’m listening.”

I linger over my thoughts

Should I give what they want?

Or make them suffer because

I won’t box myself up.

Amused at the game,

But tired of the ignorance.

Don’t you know WHAT I am

Isn’t defined by YOUR methods?

Labeling fast and cutting out

a paper doll world,

Dimensions withheld, 

It’s all just fake acceptance.

It’s all just….a warped perspective.

 

This nonsensical conversation,

In the first 5 minutes of meeting;

Identify now so you can assess me,

Up in an ethnic closet you’ll arrange me.

 

“I’m American!”

I  proclaim, just to drag it out.

I’ll help you dig your grave now.

And,  at the end of the day, 

I’ll giggle a bit.

Did I teach a lesson,

Or just waste my breathe?

The Sacrifice of Worship

Fellow lovers of worship and worship leaders,

How many times have you felt like you just could not progress in your calling or skillset? How many times have you felt…stuck? How many times have you felt weak or ineffective?

Well, worshippers, instrumentalists, chorus members, background vocalists, song leaders, music directors and worship pastors, we have all been there.

For, we want to sound good.

We want our sound to be a certain way.

We want our image to appear a certain way.

We work hard at our craft and expect to be used only in our strengths. Yet we often forget that in our weaknesses, we depend on God more than we would if we were fully capable on our own.

I do this all the time, forgetting that divine strength lies in my human frailties.  I am learning more and more that it is such a beautiful thing, to not focus on excellence so much that I’m completely independent of the Spirit power inside of me.

More and more, I find myself saying, “God, I cannot do this on my own.”  And in turn, God reminds me, “No, you cannot, but with me everything is possible.”

As as result, I  find that God continues to push me out of my comfort zone. You might be picturing a small shove, but in reality, it feels like a giant push out of a moving car!

Friends,

We often say that worship is a lifestyle, but what does that actually mean?

In this matter, I invite you to turn your eyes to Jesus, for he is and always will be the pioneer of worship. His greatest act of worship led him to die on the cross where he was crucified for every single person in the entire universe.

It is his sacrifice of worship that sets the example for us. So, when we say that worship is a lifestyle, we need to remember that worship involves obedience, sacrifice, a lot of times pain and every time COST.

Fellow worshippers,

The sacrifice of worship will cost you!

It will demand that you pay up on humility many times over. It will require your tears, just like Jesus wept in total agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. It will seem elusive, yet stick to you like gorilla glue. It is the one thing you cannot help but do, but the hardest thing to keep doing, at times.

As we carve out our callings, we all experience a great crushing because we are embodying the sacrifice of worship to God’s people. We sacrifice our ego, our pride, our insecurities, our own personal desires, our time, and our fears to serve the body of Christ so that the glory of God will be made known.

When I first began learning how to sing, I had many embarrassing moments. I even had to step back and work in privately on my voice for a while.  When I began to learn the guitar, I was painfully bad. My fingers needed calluses, and I couldn’t strum and sing at the same time. My timing was horrible, I didn’t know how to get better and alas! There came a time where I had to sing and play in front of people, even though I didn’t feel ready! In that season, I left the platform in tears multiple times. I was so discouraged, and yet I knew that I was supposed to be there!

Yet, God honored my obedience, bringing people along the way to help me in my journey. If I waited to step out when I was excellent, I may have never stepped out, never attracted the attention of my future mentors, and worst of all, never experienced the glorious mess-ups that have refined me into the worshipper I am today.

Yes, anyone can say that worship is a lifestyle, but only a few will understand that worship involves cost. Even fewer will embrace that cost as part of their calling.

Let us be the few.

Let us say that cost is our lifestyle.

Let us count the cost and embrace the cost, even at the expense of our pain.

For although we are losing something that may bring a little agony,  we are gaining something altogether more valuable – a friendship with God that rivals anything we can imagine.

You see, it is in the fire of sacrifice and cost, that we gain closeness with God. Not only that,  we gain a holy and brutal strength in our spirits.  It is then that we can endure the losses in our flesh so that our spirits will be wealthy in the fireproof faith that comes from simple obedience.

Worshippers,

The sacrifice of worship will cost you.

Expect it. God is in it. You are supposed to be right where you are, in this very moment, working out the calling God has set before you.

Embrace the cost. And….

Burn on, fellow worshippers.. Count it all as loss to truly know God more.  For all worries, anxieties, and feelings of being stuck are garbage while knowing our Lord is true gold.

“To truly know him meant letting go of everything from my past and throwing all my boasting on the garbage heap. It’s all like a pile of manure to me now, so that I may be enriched in the reality of knowing Jesus Christ and embrace him as Lord in all of his greatness.”  Phil 3:8 TPT

 

King Jesus

I don’t need a title. I don’t need a stage

I don’t need a platform, or a following.

I don’t need to lead; be in club ministry

I don’t need those things;  Jesus is my King.

 

See,

King Jesus – in my house tearing down flimsy walls.

King Jesus – in my house, and You are personal.

King Jesus – in my house, and You are MORE than industry,

MORE than a culture movement of “make me a celebrity.”

King Jesus –  in my house, and You grant my every need,

You are the flavor seasoning true servant ministry!

 

SO MUCH….

More than a mic in my hand; more than a song I’ve written

More than a sermon I’ve preached, more than a high emotion I’ve reached.

The Beginning, the Forever and the Always Been;

The End, Omnipotent, The Great I  Am.

The Breaker, the Healer, The Door to enter in,

Through you only, In you, my Residence.

 

My resting place,

so sacred place,

I  go to pray, to see YOUR face.

 

My quiet place,

better than any stage

More special then

any public space.

 

See,

King Jesus – in my house tearing down flimsy walls.

King Jesus – in my house, and You are personal.

King Jesus – in my house, and You are MORE than industry,

MORE than a culture movement of “make me a celebrity.”

King Jesus –  in my house, and You grant my every need,

You are the flavor seasoning true servant ministry!

 

I’ve seen YOU move,

in a crowd, breaking through.

But there is nothing like,

when it’s just me and YOU…

 

Your voice breaking in, and that’s where I’m:

Filled over the brim,

a vessel spent – a fragrance scent.

 

My identity,  released,

My faith,  refined,

Your reign is loosed,

and I’m the NEW wine.

 

See,

King Jesus – in my house tearing down flimsy walls.

King Jesus – in my house, and You are personal.

King Jesus – in my house, and You are MORE than industry,

MORE than a culture movement of “make me a celebrity.”

King Jesus –  in my house, and You grant my every need,

You are the flavor seasoning true servant ministry!

 

It’s all about:

Relationship,

Sweet sweet fellowship,

The Father,

The Friend,

The Mother,

Elohim,

El Shaddai

El Olam

Jehovah–Raa

Immanuel

Your Wonder

that captivates

more than

artificiality.

 

You tumble down

man-made walls,

Take back what’s yours

King Jesus roars….

And You are worth a life wasted out, pouring out, bleeding out, You found me out…

I don’t NEED any one thing,

just Jesus as my King.

 

Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper, The foot-washing.

The wounds of the heart are an underground cemetery of buried and seemingly lifeless things. There beneath lies our secret shames, internal struggles, deepest pains, past failures, open wounds, walls of pride and highly organized legions of anxieties. 

Quietly, they work in the under currents of our being, their wastelands reforming our identities into a casket like shape seeking the stench of death rather than the fragrance of life.

On this Maundy Thursday, I think of my wounds. They are so deep in my heart, I can ignore them effortlessly until BOOM! The trigger is pulled, and I find them still swirling into my being, stealing my breath away and rendering me helpless.

On this Maundy Thursday, I think of my pride. For others, it may be a covering of accomplishment, but for me it is an undergarment of insecurities. I am not brave; I am too shy; I am not skilled; I am too sensitive; I am not enough; I am too introspective; I am not thin enough; I am not attractive enough; I am too quiet, too serious, and am too small for my big big dreams.

And then,

On this Maundy Thursday, I think of my internal agonies. The ones I won’t say out loud; the ones that bring the most pain; the ones that demand justice; the ones that send me weeping into a garden like Gethsemane, except I’m dreading the past instead of shaping the future.

I think of them often as I get older, and I soothe them with the balm of Jesus.

Jesus.

On this Maundy Thursday, I see Jesus taking care of some things. After all, it was his last day to be alive in human flesh.  For us, that would mean saying goodbye to family and making sure our affairs are in order. For Jesus, that meant breaking bread, feeding those around him and than doing the unimaginable.

Washing the feet of his friends…

Yes, He would wash their feet….dirty from walking dusty roads. Unattractive, from years of labor; offensive, until properly cleansed. This cleansing was a job meant for a servant, not a friend, and certainly not a king.

Yet, Jesus ministered to his disciples in His final hours.  His hands touched their feet and cleaned them in a parallel of what was to come – such a tender servant-sacrifice preview.

Peter could not handle this. And, I say that we are Peter, too. We cannot handle His healing touch on our lowly feet.

For though His touch washes the dirt and grime from our unattractive sin-stained bodies, it also brings the fire of conviction into our souls. It says to forgive, even when when the offender is unrepentant. It says to let go of offense, even when we’ve been wronged. It says to surrender our hearts to humility, even when we are due recognition. It says to WASH THE FEET OF OUR BRETHERN (literally) yet we run away from the foot washing basin, run away from the call of Jesus and STILL call ourselves obedient and here……

Here, we are Peter too, unable to handle the touch of the Servant-King on our feet while His wildfire flames of conviction flushes Holy Spirit conviction throughout our veins.

For, if we could “handle” it, than we would not need Him; we would not need His healing touch, His perfect sacrifice, the resurrection leap, the Holy Spirit helper…. If we could “handle it”, then we would not need Jesus, who was humble to the point of washing the feet of His betrayer on the night He was to be betrayed. If we could “handle” it, then we wouldn’t be betrayed by anxieties, fears, and we would walk perfectly in meekness, mercy and tenderness like Jesus did ….. We would be on equal footing with the One who walked straight to the foot washing basin to the cross and who chose to lay down His life for his friends AND His enemies.

We can’t handle it, and until we know what we don’t know, we won’t know! However, it is okay indeed, because Jesus knows us AND our secret burial grounds.  With Jesus before us,  we can bare our ignorance and our bare feet because despite being fully known, we are fully loved and that’s LIFE.

So, on this Maundy Thursday, let us remember our former wounds, for it is there God has encountered us with healing balm in his hands. He ministers there, healing, re-creating, molding and cultivating beautiful souls, readying them for their debuts, and equipping them for the battles ahead. So, let us sit to rest with Jesus, but not hide our feet from Him. He has come to wash them…and we would do well to receive.

And finally, let us look forward to the coming Resurrection for the power of the cross has defeated the graveyards in our hearts. For in Jesus Christ, we have a soul saving, Lazarus raising, tomb raiding,  death breaking, life resurrecting, forever crushing the dead places in the name of Jesus- look at what He has done for us- the son of man, slain Lamb, Risen King to come again!!

Amen.

 

The Chasm Between

There’s nothing for me in the in-between.

Pick a side, cuz that chasm falls deep.

Can’t climb out, no second chances,

A black hole pit, a temporary release…

That burns the bridge over the in-between.

There’s nothing for me in the in-between