30 April 2014

missing the mark

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV

Karin is far from patient
Karin is often but not always kind
at times she finds it difficult to avoid envy
Karin tries not to boast, except in her Lord
Karin struggles with pride 
Karin does not intentionally dishonor others
she is self-seeking more often than she'd like
is too easily angered
sadly keeps record of wrongs she would rather erase
Karin does not delight in evil 
she rejoices with and hungers for truth
she protects what she loves
is learning to trust
always hopes
sometimes gives up, sometimes perseveres
Karin regularly fails

He is love. He created me in His image.
His Word describes in detail what love is.
I fall far short of the mark
and depend on His abundant grace
a gift beyond price

my prayer is that His glory is revealed
even in my imperfection




walking with Emily and the forgiven imperfect

 

29 April 2014

stretch

I have waited for Spring
steady light spreading
days long, bright
snow chased away
when rains fall hard

cold retreats
yet as my bones
thaw, parts of me
remain hard, frozen
creativity stiff, ice crusted
words, like tender 
muscles need to 
stretch slow, steady
so I shall begin
training, a writing fitness
routine, day by day
making myself accountable
to Him, and to others
spirits in community of warm

I ache for the melting

Beginning on the 1st of May 
I will join Sandra Heska King and others
working our way through Dave Harrity's book
Making Manifest
On Faith, Creativity and the Kingdom at Hand

 

26 April 2014

we are glad

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Jumping Tandem
singing His praises in community with Deidra

 

25 April 2014

unwired, unbothered

Be content - just for a short time - 
to sit unwired, unbothered, in the quiet of your home.  
Be still and enjoy it. 
Do as Christ urges in Luke 12 and consider the lilies - 
be present, pay attention - 
don't cultivate concern but focus.
Dave Harrity - Making Manifest

my spirit vibrates
with a steady, quiet
yes
there is honesty, here
clarity, a path that is true

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
happy in the quiet still with Sandy

 

not standing alone

this, from my quiet time this morning, journal open:

Blaise Pascal said
the heart has its reasons
which reason knows nothing of
but I desire to know beyond knowing
You are the reason for all

I know it is not an easy thing to stand, little one
no simple task to set yourself
against the enemy
against the world
against your own flesh
against the human heart that wants what it wants
now - when it wants it

As I call that heart to Mine
I call it to wait
I call it to stillness
I call it to rest

until you know
that heart has always beaten 
with My power and My purposes
let that be your strength

never have you stood alone


Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com sharing with Bonnie

 

23 April 2014

impolite refusals

There is much truth revealed in the mystery of dreams.  Jessie, the main character in my novel learns much as she sleeps.  And so, another clip --

She settled into the softness of her warm bed and fell quickly into sleep.  She dreamed again of fruit, boxes and boxes of the ripest and tastiest fruit.  She had set up a stand on a busy street corner and was offering the fruit for free to anyone who wanted it.  She knew there were lots of hungry people, but very few stopped to take what she was giving.  When they heard that there was no charge, many said there must be something wrong with it.

“No, it’s the very best fruit you ever tasted” Jessie said.

“I don't believe it” said a man as he walked away empty handed.  “There’s nothing good that comes for free.”

“Probably old and rotten” said a pretty middle aged woman in tattered clothes, shaking her head “no” as Jessie extended her hand with a large bunch of grapes.  She certainly looked like she could have used the food.  “Are you sure?” Jessie asked again.  “They're really, really fresh and sweet.”

“What’s the catch?” the woman asked, as did many others as they passed by.  “You give this away free and then what?”

“Then nothing” Jessie answered.

“Yeah, right.  So what’s in it for you?”  Jessie was surprised at just how suspicious people were.

“Nothing in it for me” she said.  “I just have all this fruit and I can't eat it all by myself.”

“Then maybe you're just stupid” said a slick looking man in a suit and shiny shoes.  “If you have that much, why not sell it, make yourself some good money?”

She found herself answering the same questions over and over again.  As darkness fell she had almost as much fruit as when she started.

“What a shame” she thought.  “I have so much to give away and no one is interested.  I can't possibly take all these boxes home, maybe if I leave them here someone will take some when no one is watching.”  She filled one box with a variety of fruits to take with her and left the rest there on the corner.  As she was walking away she was stopped by a policeman.

“You can’t leave your garbage out on the street like that Miss.”

“It’s not garbage, it’s good food.  I don't understand why no one wants it.”

“Doesn't matter what it is” he answered.  “You can't leave it there.  Take it somewhere or throw it away.”

Jessie stood before him and started to cry.  She was sad and tired and didn't know how to start moving all those boxes.

She woke with tears in eyes that scanned the room realizing she had been dreaming.

“If someone ever offered me something good, I don't think I would have turned it down” she thought.

“I offer Myself, and people choose to not accept Me” came the voice that she longed to hear.

“But you’re even better than the best fruit.  I just don't understand.  I just don't understand” she thought as she fell back to sleep.

Jessie found herself back near the same street corner.  All of the fruit boxes had been removed and in their place stood a man that looked like the pictures of Jesus that she saw at Bobbie’s house.  She stood close enough to watch and listen.  The man was reaching out his hand to the people walking down the street, smiling, nodding his head and sometimes speaking words of greeting.  While she watched, no one took his hand; instead they ignored him or altered their steps so that they didn't even come close to where he stood. With each passing man, woman or child Jessie could see a shadow cross his face, like a flash of pain.  Then his smile would return.  It hurt Jessie to watch him so she rushed to his side, taking his hand.  Others shouted for her to be careful and stay away.  “Don't trust strangers” they called, or “You don't even know who he is.”

“No” she answered back, though no one was listening.  “You don't know who He is, but I do.”



walking with Emily and the beloved imperfect ones

 

22 April 2014

knock away, I will not answer

back in March
I joined a movement
to smash a love idol
the need to please
anyone, anything
but my Lord

a cross of ashes
began a time 
of letting go, shaking 
off, breaking loose
to live free
between the dust 
of forming and the dust 
of dying

hunger for approval
prowled, scratched
knocked with uncommon
intensity, making itself
known in deviousness

the Holy Spirit held
a mirror, reflecting
heart deep, exposing
dark, need, ego

resurrection Sunday dawned
clouded, chilled
but as always filled
with unstoppable light
even when unseen

I live here, between
the forming 
and the dying
purposed on freedom
yes, the idol still knocks
with predictable vigor
and tenacity

with Christ risen, alive
in me and stubbornness 
of my own, like a child
 sticking fingers in my ears
I will not listen
I will not answer

unless and until
I hear my Shepherd's 
true voice

 

19 April 2014

all in the waiting

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; 

wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; 

there is yet faith

But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought. 
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness, the dancing.

T.S. Eliot

One year ago, it was not the Saturday of waiting
for the glory of Easter Sunday, no
that day of rejoicing had come
and gone, weeks before

last year today was a Friday
a different day of waiting
for what we knew would come
but could never prepare for
and by Saturday, she was
simply no longer here

grief is sticky, having 
it's way with me
there is no calendar
for mourning
no limit to tears
I wait for Sunday

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
in the stillness with Sandy

 

18 April 2014

Good Friday clouds

By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, 
the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. 
The Temple curtain split right down the middle. 
Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” 
Then he breathed his last. 

I set my self
in silence, dark
to imagine what 
we can not
even in the thickness
of clouds cover, we
who have chosen Him
will ever see light

Sunday is just around the corner friends...

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

joining Bonnie and friends finding whitespace

 

16 April 2014

migraine

migraine pain moved
in Monday night
a greedy visitor
allowing no room 
for sleep, comfort
creativity, rational
thought shoved aside
left my mind edging
delerium, churned

nights extend long
while the world 
slumbers on without 
you, praying
for morning's light
relief, returning hope
of a new day

today fatigue lingers
headache's shadow
but I am indeed on the mend



walking with Emily and the imperfect redeemed

 

15 April 2014

Spiritual Misfit by Michelle DeRusha

Writing about her book Spiritual Misfit A Memoir of Uneasy Faith, Michelle DeRusha says:
My story is ordinary – it’s not a dramatic conversion story; nothing “big” happened to me along the way. I didn't experience a near-death situation. I didn’t survive a tragedy. But in a lot of ways, that’s what makes my story so accessible. It’s about an ordinary person with ordinary questions, fears and doubts who was transformed in an extraordinary way.
I believe this is exactly why this is a must read book for us all.  We who feel just "ordinary" always need to be reminded of just how extraordinary our God is. How many of us find ourselves naked before our Lord, trembling just a bit, scratching our heads, mumbling "I believe Lord, help my unbelief?"

In this close to the bone memoir Michelle shares with brave openness her doubts, fears and growing reliance on a Lord Who asks us to believe what we can not always see.

Some pages left me giggling, like the story of tossed Cheez-It crumbs; others are stained by tears of recognition, when God shows Himself in quiet glory.  Then there are the pages striped by coloured highlighters, that will beckon me to return to the words again and again, like these:
While faith through grace alone is probably liberating for most people, freeing them from the inescapable burden of sin, it scared the crap out of me because it required that I relinquish control.  It carried me full circle back to the aspects of God I couldn't define, hem in, deconstruct, or rationalize.  It carried me back to the heart, which was a much more difficult realm to navigate than the head.  Honestly, I would much rather have earned my entrance to heaven than take a flying leap onto the slippery slope of faith.  Earning seemed much more predictable, orderly, and measurable, so much less fraught with fear, than leaping.  Leaping into faith required me to trust and surrender to someone I couldn't see.
Those could have been my own words, so closely they struck my spirit.  I believe you will be struck in similar fashion.  You need to read this book.  You need to share this book.  It will speak loudly to everyone, no matter where they find themselves on this wild journey of faith.

I was given an advance reading copy of this book.  The opinions I have shared, as always, are my own.

 

12 April 2014

addicted to still

Silence
It has a sound, a fullness.
It's heavy with sigh of tree,
and space between breaths.
It's ripe with pause between birdsong
and crash of surf. 
It's golden they say.
But no one tells us it's addictive
Angela Long

our land was beginning to show itself
black soil damp from the melting
today the snow returns
a fresh cloak
to silence spring
yet again
I will sit in the quiet of this day
asking patience and peace
to settle with the gray

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
seeking the stillness with Sandy

 

11 April 2014

point of view

I find myself, again
living in the inbetween
winter lingers in this
not yet spring
stepping out the door
I turn to my left
to a cloud darkened sky
and it somehow feels right
this heaviness
as I have felt called
to prayer, for needs known
and unknown
I trust the Holy Spirit
to interpret, groans
beyond my understanding

yet, in turning
to my right, the sky 
fills with boldness
of blue, light
beauty, assertion
of life, hope breathes

I can choose where 
I focus, where 
my eyes will rest
I choose life

I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, 
that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; 
therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; 
for that means life to you and length of days, 
that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, 
to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them. 

 

10 April 2014

broken

Bonnie asked us to write prompted by the word brokenness.
Here is another slice from my novel-in-progress --
Her mind was a fertile breeding ground for the voices of shame.  With no positive words to contradict them the voices grew, stronger, louder and more convincing.  They were the truth to Linda, the only truth she knew. 
By the time Linda was sixteen she had stopped going to school.  She followed a boy six years older than her to another city.  He treated her roughly, but that felt familiar, and at least he gave her a place to live.  She did whatever he asked of her, paid the price for her imperfections and swallowed the pain with the alcohol he had taught her to drink. 
When he grew tired of her, he passed her on to a friend who treated her just as badly.  She never questioned the abuse convinced it was what she deserved, all she had ever deserved. 
She didn't expect her baby son to love her, or the daughter she birthed four years later.  She didn't expect anything but trouble and trouble always found her.  On her twenty first birthday, with a four year old and an infant she drank herself to sleep after their father walked out for the last time. 
The voices sang a familiar song.  “No one will ever really care for you because you’ll never be good enough to care about.”  Linda believed them, of course.  Theirs was the only song she knew.  They were the songs she sang to her children like an inside out lullaby. 
Linda was broken and alone with both her heart and her body covered with scars.  Going home wasn't an option.  She had closed the door on that pain and couldn't imagine opening it again.  Her children were hungry, the rent would come due soon and she never learned how to do anything that someone would want to pay her for. 
She left the kids home alone at night, asking a neighbor to look in on them if she heard noises. She went to the bars down the street, offering herself to anyone who would buy her a drink, taking them back to her place as payment of sorts.  She thought herself lucky when one of them would choose to hang around for a month, or two. Some stayed longer, but she never expected that.  If they paid the bills she was willing to absorb whatever blows inevitably accompanied the favors.   
Linda was too hurt and too lost to think about what harm living that way was inflicting on her son and daughter.  She was in survival mode, doing whatever she thought she must.  Just like her own mother.  Just like always.  Day followed day, week after week, and the years piled up one after the other.
Brokenness. Shame. Pain.  All these abound in the lives of my main characters, just as they do in our own lives. But...

The is a God Who loves beyond measure.
The people in my novel learn that.
They teach each other truth as they learn it.
Just as we need to love and teach and encourage each other.
We are His.
Shaped in His image.
Givers of light and love and life.



jamming with Bonnie

 

09 April 2014

Who restores?

The taskbar at the bottom of my laptop screen
flashed, a reminder that updates were waiting
ever obedient, I clicked to download
and busied myself with other things
after the install, I had to reset the computer
and as often happens, things were not quite right
when the screen came back up
nothing I tried corrected the problems

it was time to resort to system restore
taking the computer back
to a time before the offending updates
while this ran, I opened my journal
sensing my Lord has something to share

your technology
has the capacity
to return to an earlier
moment in time
to take changes
errors, problems
and make them disappear
as if they had never happened

and I, yes I, do this
not for machines
but for lives

I Am the Restorer
I Am making all things new
I wipe slates clean
I have already forgotten
what you still cling to

you can let it all go

step into the reset
fresh and clean

walking with Emily in broken redemption

 

07 April 2014

Chatting with Michelle DeRusha - a Spiritual Misfit


I was blessed to meet Michelle DeRusha last November at a High Callings retreat in Texas at Laity Lodge. Her book Spiritual Misfit A Memoir of Uneasy Faith is releasing on April 15th.  She agreed to sit down for a bit in the midst of book launch lunacy to answer a few questions. Grab yourself a cup of your favourite brew and join us!

Michelle, I have always been in love with words and wanted to weave them into poetry and prose.  Did you have dreams of being a writer or did the urge to write surprise you? 

The desire to write very much surprised me! I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English, and I've always worked at jobs that have involved a lot of writing – public relations, advertising, fundraising, communications – but I hadn't ever written anything creatively until this book. That’s how I know this journey is entirely God-ordained. One morning I slipped into my basement office before my kids were up and started to write a story about my childhood religious experiences – a few months and 75 pages later, I realized I might be writing a book. I was as shocked as anyone! 

Did your blogging change as you dove deeper into the writing of Spiritual Misfit?  Did it become easier to share the truth of who Michelle is? 

What’s interesting is that I wrote the entire book long before I became a blogger. In fact, I only started blogging when I learned I needed a “platform” – a means for gathering readers and a following in order to attract the interest of a publisher. But over time I came to love blogging. I never anticipated the possibility that real, genuine friendships could be created and nurtured online, but that’s exactly what has happened with blogging. It’s been one of the greatest and most unexpected gifts of this writing journey so far.  

I think writing the book first later helped me become a more transparent blogger. Even though the book wasn't published when I started blogging, in the back of my own mind, I knew I’d already “put it all out there,” so I didn't have anything to lose by being real and authentic on the blog.  

I know first-hand what it feels like to relocate to a place vastly different from what has been familiar and comfortable.  Has Nebraska become a right place for you? 

Nebraska has become a “right place” for me. We've been here nearly 13 years now, and I absolutely love it. I love the vast sky and the wide-open landscape; I love the warm, generous people; I love that I can go for a run and leave my front door unlocked; I love sitting on my neighbor’s front porch, chatting with her on a hot summer afternoon with a glass of iced tea in hand. Nebraska offers a slower life than New England – less traffic, less “keeping up with the Jones,” and I have grown to appreciate that.  

That said, I still miss my family every day. My parents, my sister, my nephew and all my aunts and uncles still live in New England. It’s hard to be so far from them, to see them only once or twice a year. I won’t ever get used to that.  

Would you rather travel via rail, car, boat or plane?  Is there somewhere you've always dreamed of visiting? 

I’ve always dreamed of visiting Italy – particularly the Cinque Terre region on the coast. I joke with my husband, Brad, that we’ll be 80 by the time we get there. Now that we have young kids, it’s going to be a while! 

I think I'd prefer to travel by magic carpet (though I realize you didn't offer that as an option!). I hate flying (truth be told, I am afraid of it). Boats make me seasick, long car trips make me feel like my head will pop off, and I've never traveled by train (maybe I ought to try that before ordering my custom-designed magic carpet?).   

What's next from the pen of Michelle DeRusha? Have you ever thought about writing fiction? 

No, no – no fiction! The thought of writing fiction terrifies me! I am currently finishing edits of my next book, entitled 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith, which will be released by Baker Books in September 2014. 50 Women is a compilation of short biographies – very much in the non-fiction category and very different from Spiritual Misfit. It was fascinating to research and write, and I am excited to introduce these amazing women, some of whom I’d never heard of, to others.   

After that, I think I’d like to jump back into memoir. I am a storyteller at heart. I love what Natalie Goldberg says about mining your own life for material: “If you've lived ten years, you have enough writing material for your whole life,” she says in Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir. “If you’re thirty years old, stop everything. You already have too much to capture.” According to Natalie, at 43 I have more than enough for another book, so I’d better get writing!  

While Michelle gets back to work, why don't you order yourself a copy of Spiritual Misfit and come back next week when I'll share my thought about this charming and wonderful new book.



 

05 April 2014

change

sun streams hot upon my feet
through windows streaked
by the freeze/thaw of winter
melting snow drips 
off roof tops
and though the threat
of more
frozen precipitation
lingers, I am ready
much more than ready
for Spring to dig in
heels, claim her ground
unfolding full with new life

here sit I, hot footed
on the cusp of change 
more profound than season 
to season, a breaking out
turned upside down, full
circle turn, I am ready
much more than ready
for soon to become now
for questions to be silenced
by answers, fears stilled
by the reality of a life
my mind can not yet
imagine

winds blow strong today
in the heat of the sun
calling in
a contagion of refreshing


 

04 April 2014

God's poet

God's poet is silence!  His song is unspoken
And yet so profound, and so loud, and so far,
That it thrills you and fills you in measures unbroken—
The unceasing song of the first morning star....
~Joaquin Miller

everywhere I go
noise invades, betrays
the truth of silence
keeping me from
the song 
He longs to impart
deep into my spirit
planted in my heart

Sandra Heska King - Still Saturday
seeking the stillness with Sandy

 
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