Giving Jesus My Grand Gesture


All I wanted to do was impress her.

She was my hero at the time.  I can picture her in my mind—polished, professional, charismatic, beautiful.  When she walked into the room, there was a tangible shift—everyone knew she was there, everyone adjusted.  People clamored for her magical touch, her validation, her encouragement.  She knew how to pull the best from people and no one, least of all me, wanted to disappoint her.  She made each person feel like they had a special bond, tying loose ends of relationships together neatly into cohesive groups.  I would have done anything for her.  In fact, for a time, I did.

We drove three hours to get there late.  From what they knew, we weren’t going to be there at all.  When weighing the price, it ought not have been paid—we bailed on a much higher priority to scramble to the event.  I look back now and see the chains I was carrying, a wounded pride trying to find balm in a grand gesture.  Grasping at straws to win approval.  Failure—wearing a mask, camouflaged in sequins to deflect the truth.

All I wanted to do was impress her.  I wanted to buy the real estate of respect by exaggerating my commitment.  (Done well, I could play it off casually, magnanimously—reaping not only copious amounts of dignity but maybe even acceptance and respect?)

It was drizzling when we pulled up, wearing the rumpled business suits we had carted around all day in luggage bags.  There were hundreds of cars and we parked at the back of the huge lot.  Skirt, hose and heels for me, dodging rain drops and lugging my impotent briefcase.  We scurried in the door and there she was–with a few other women I revered.  Game time.

I remember walking up to the ticket table and there she was.  I remember her expensive ivory suit jacket as though it were glowing.  I was careful to be detached and genial as we approached, as though my soul wasn’t screaming for her validation and laud.

But it all happened too quickly.  She did notice, surprised we were there, excited to see us—but then someone pulled her aside, because she was needed and important.  And someone else behind us needed tickets—and just like that, the moment was over.  I don’t remember a single moment from the rest of that night, except that I did not gain the fresh esteem I had gambled for.

I am naturally predisposed to a certain amount of calculated behavior.  I run a constant tab in my mind, entirely without effort, in which my column always seems to be hovering haphazardly negative when measured against the merits of others.  I know when my account is low and there is nothing more awful—nothing—then when I have exhausted the options to gain attention and approval.  Grand gestures, like the story I just shared, were my ace in the hole for a time.  In time, a nasty side effect emerged, in which the extraneous one-time effort became the ever-increasing measurement by which my daily motions were measured.  Suddenly I was competing with myself, betting against myself.

It’s funny how difficult these crippled behaviors are to uproot.   I have many, many of them.  As I mature, many of my old ways are being brought to light.  In my spirit, as they are dragged forward, I just stare at them, conspicuously aware of how it feels to have life caress a place that was dead.  I am astounded and grateful—so loved—so convicted and sure that I am loved–that I can let them go.  These reflexes, these survival techniques, my tricks, are weak coping mechanisms that were adopted during a time of tremendous pain.  During those days, I heard no voices louder than failure, disapproval, performance, and rejection—and for a time, the Lord allowed them to break me.  I needed that season and He was with me there.  I can think of those difficult days and sincerely be crippled over in my thankfulness for that time.

It was Love to me.  It was His loyalty to me.  Jesus, be praised, for You waste nothing.

Then He took me through the time of refinement.  As I set my eyes on Him, it was so clear that this behavior was contrary to His fingerprint in me.  It was a weapon in my arsenal that I itched to use, like a dieter longs for Cheetos.  When I felt overlooked or forgotten, or when I needed someone to validate me, I felt myself reach for that tired old tool—and time and again, I put it back on the shelf, crying but determined.  I realized He permitted my needs so to drive me to maturity.  I felt His hands help me stand up intentionally under that burning, under the stretching void of bewilderment.  There was very little satisfaction for the gaping holes I could no longer manufacture counterfeit solutions for.

It was Love to me.  It was His loyalty to me.  Jesus, be praised, for You are trustworthy.

He has been showing me that His purpose for me in this isn’t to teach me a new behavior.  As I stand up under the onslaught of old instincts, I am forced to reach into His character for my strength.  I am built up, into Him, with strength that does not fade.  I am driven into honest relationships and transparent communication with my brothers, where my needs meet their generosity.  My movements take on His life and bring freedom and courage to those around me.  I am mobilized to understand and bolster those who are in the midst of their own retraining.  As I stand, I earn a swaggered confidence that His grace truly is sufficient and made perfect in my weakness.  When my weakness is laid humbly at the feet of my brothers, when I admit I need, it is a galvanizing power to the body in which others are needed.

He is so loyal to us!  He is so generous and lavish in His love for us, that He goes to such extravagance, such patience, to restore us to wholeness.  Jesus, I am undone tonight by your beautiful commitment to me.  I give you my grand gesture, my whole love.  You don’t waste me or forget about me.  Let my worship of You—I Am—be a grand gesture of my heart.

Jesus…with my whole heart…be praised!

Two Places At Once


Father, I feel my heart yearning to be with you.  I…

“Mommy, I want some juice.”

“We can have juice at lunch time.  Go play.”

I feel my heart yearning to be with you.  How I adore you!  Can you teach me…

“Can I have some milk?”

“We will get a drink at lunchtime. When you ask, you will say please…”

…I adore you.  I want to be still and meditate on You. Teach me about You?  Talk to me.  I want to learn a new secre…

“I want to color.”

The messy toys are kept out of reach, so I go get them.  The little one wants an activity too, so I find a simple one for him,  listening and answering to three more unrelated questions from the big one.  Finally, they settle.

I turn my heart again and try to remember what I was saying.  But like some sort of dysfunctional robot my memory is gone and I start over, as though I lost the round at a carnival game and have to pay more tokens to try again.

Father, I don’t want to go through this day on auto, without Your Spirit so heavy on me.  I need You to be loud in me, so I can hear you through…

The kids start playing and the little one bangs his head.  He sobs loudly and comes to me for a little rub and some comforting words.  The big one is dancing, so I send her to pee.

She doesn’t want to pee.

I make her go anyway.  Just as I am able to re-harness my thoughts, she calls from the toilet, needing wiped.  I gamble:  I could stay here in my thoughts and tell her to wipe herself.  But the last time I did that, she left a mess in her pants that required a complete change.

I hear my heart cry out, distressed:  Jesus!  How am I supposed to be with you?!

I feel sadness and hopelessness drift into my heart as I go to wipe her.  It’s lunchtime.  There will be no peace in our house until the bellies are fed and the big one finally gets her juice.

From the kitchen counter, I try again.  Lord, fill me with your nature, your character.  Show me how you love, how you thi…

“I watch?  I watch!  I watch!” comes from the little one, as he shoves a stool to the counter to watch me prepare their food.  I look at his little head, his curiosity and interest charming me into a little chat with him.  The big one comes too and they alternate between squabbles and giggles.  Feeling the doom of breakdown, I hustle to get their lunches into them.

Naptime soon comes, and with that, quiet.  On paper, it looks like an open window to my Jesus.  But my spirit, unable to mend itself in Him during the day, is shredded and sleepy.  I often sit down to write, but my thoughts are cluttered and veiled, waiting for Him to be make them clear.  Nothing comes from me but the final sputters from an empty tank.

I turn to tasks I can manage without emotional investment, hoping the quiet will soothe me.  Just as I am coming back into myself, just as I get my thoughts sorted enough that I feel renewed and clear-minded, I hear thumps from their bedrooms and check the clock:  naptime is over.

The only thing I wanted from this day I have yet to obtain: Him.  He was the treasure I longed for.

Throughout the day, I make connections with people whom I know were sent for the Jesus in me—but I have nothing to offer them.  I want to scream into the atmosphere: Stop!  I haven’t gotten a chance to to rest in Him yet!  I don’t know what He’s saying because MY CHILDREN KEEP INTERRUPTING ME!

In my deferred hope, my heart is sick.  I question my parenting, that my children would be a barrier.  But they are young, so young—it seems unfair to blame them for yielding to childishness (and let’s face it—the call of my heart is more of them, so clearly I’m going to have to learn to be in two places at once.)

My children are my magnum opus.  They are a worthy work, as are the other areas in which I invest my time, my heart, my life.  But they will only be shadows of their potential unless I am fueled, founded, breathed by the Spirit of the Lord.  My connection—my vital presence—in Him—is critical.  I feel so deficient, so often, that it is remarkable that anything I do succeeds.

Jesus!  My heart is sick in its hunger for you.  Being a mother is a privilege—and I don’t want to resent my children.  But I need you to teach me how to do this—how to be with You and with them.  How to hear You and hear them.  I am crying in desperation, to be a son and a mother with the same life.

I seek you jealously, for my own treasure.  Please don’t ask me to mother, to serve—to even live—without teaching me to be present with You, in You, continually.  Shout at me if you have to—but don’t leave me to do this alone!

And with that, it is time to go raise my children from their naps.


Blessed by a Monster

I have made friends with a monster.  I feel him today, sitting on my neck, unconcerned that his weight is making my head hurt.

His name is Expectation.

I am a marionette to him.  My hands and feet dance each time he tugs on me.  He masquerades behind the faces of people my heart loves, and in their voices he manipulates me.  Sometimes he gets bored of me and lays me aside like a forgotten toy and I sleep, for days, thankful for the rest.  But even this rest is a ploy, for inevitably it blinds me to The Work almost entirely, and makes me deficient in all things, not merely the imitations.  I feel like a blunted sword, whose thrusts never seem to hit the mark.

Sometimes, like today, his voice is gross in my ears: Dance, puppet.  Dance.

I resent him entirely.

In days gone by I confused his voice with excellence, with reputation, even with that of my Father.  So many of my contributions to the earth, that which I thought would be most celebrated, are nearly always entirely forgotten when his thick, choking voice was my motivation.  It is as if his entire point is to spend my energy and focus so entirely that I am useless for any meaningful new depth of Jesus.  Today his headache, his endless demands upon my flexibility, his thinly-veiled disappointment when I say yes or no against his will, are suffocating me of oxygen.

Jesus, be my Vision!  My soul is weeping for your perspective of me.

I feel like a jagged little pill, the enabler of every unprepared person in the world, the one who is constantly expected to tie together the loose ends that no one else wishes to mend.  My resentment of this, the very thing I am in fact gifted to do, testifies loudly to my tormentor.  He plays so closely along my identity that I often don’t notice his con until my reserves are spent.  I am diversely gifted, but he shrouds my vision of those around me who are willing and able.  I am flexible, but his version of me pours the incomplete efforts of others upon my shoulders.  I am creative, but he suggests that I should be able to accept responsibility for every scenario that crosses my path.

I am willing to be completely spent, but only for Jesus, Who Is Worthy of It All.  In Him, the work of my heart is seed, is fruit, is life–planted in the right places, at the right time, always yielding Fruit.

My heart is not calling for the death of my monster friend.  In fact, he is accidentally causing me to know with firm conviction the authentic Voice.  His grating imitation carries such agony for my soul that I am galvanized further as His Beloved.  His yoke is easy, His burden is light.  His work, even the work that requires my complete self, my full investment, is life and recycles itself as fuel for my spirit.  His voice is gentle and never demanding, such that my rebellion never rises up to fight it.

Jesus, be my Vision.  Thank you for the monster of Expectation.  Thank you for allowing me to fully experience being tossed to-and-fro in his maelstrom.  Allow him to sit upon my neck and speak to me, so that You are so fully and beautifully revealed in his emptiness.  His torment adheres my Soul to You.

I am reaching out, through his facade, to Your reality.  I am Diane, the One You Love–the flexible, the gifted, the creative, the willing.  I am defined by You, and moved by You, and effective in You.

Be my Vision.  I am holding fast today–to You.  Blessed by a monster, who accidentally nestled me more deeply into You.


Podcast: Chesed – LovingKindness

Sharing with you one of the highlights in my pursuit of Jesus this year.

Hebrew: chesed

Meet chesed, a Hebrew term that became a doorway into a brand-new revelation to my heart of the nature of the Lord–His tremendous identity of loyalty, love, mercy and covenant.

I was humbled and privileged to share my thoughts at WHO on Sunday, December 8.  If you want to hear my thoughts, you can listen here.  The link includes more study helps if you want to research this beautiful term on your own.

Every bit of the bible reveals Him!  Every jot, every tittle…


Closet of Fake Bravado

I have a civil war within my spirit.  I am an spiritual adolescent; this is made plain by how my inner dialogue is constantly warring against itself:

This is so difficult.  I have never felt more alone.
I can persist.  I can tell He’s using this to make me stronger.
I celebrate this season!
I will finish.
I quit.
Lord, I’m all the way in.  Do your full work.
Jesus, I need relief.  All I see is darkness.
I trust Him.
I feel so sorry for myself.  No one sees how much I’m aching.
Purify and make me perfect–a true daughter.
I want to be like You.
I have no one to talk to. 
I don’t want to talk to anyone.
I can’t stand the idea of people feeling sorry for me.
Jesus, don’t stop.
Jesus, don’t stop…

And it’s all simultaneously true.  Eye roll.

The process the Lord has initiated in our family bears his mark so completely that I cannot question it at all.  Even in the darkest days I can tell He’s closer to me now than ever before.  I know in some ways He’s really guarding me, because my emotions and feelings are so raw and vulnerable that I really do need a constant awareness of Him more than I need air.  There are recent days when He is the only place on earth for me…

I want to be (and often, genuinely am) the strong, steady, reliable one.  My nature is one that detests being the needy one, the broken one, or the insecure one–seasons in which I prefer to hide until they pass.  This preference towards perfection is weakness in me, that ensures that I never fully embrace my value to others.  The true revelation of my full value is the sum of myself, strengths and weaknesses, and all that it reveals about Jesus.

I like to play myself as magnanimous and assured, as though words of love and encouragement don’t echo in my mind for days after I get them.  I have an old voicemail I have never deleted, that I use to refill an empty tank.  When I say that sometimes one good genuine conversation is enough to get me out of bed in the morning, I’m not exaggerating.  My favorite cheesy acronym is one I heard several years ago: SPF  Specific Positive Feedback.  That phrase carries a rank of affection in me paramount to chocolate and epidurals.

Yesterday Sherri left me a bouquet of fall mums on my desk and her simple card was…I can’t even say.  The reason her words sank so deep is because she knows me and invested her words in a simple affirmation of who I am and what I do–those things are inextricably linked, and she knows that about me.  She pierced through superficial to the eternal parts of me—she made my heart sing.  (I’m so grateful, Sherri–I love you.)  I almost feel bad singling her out–there are so many people who are treasures to me–she’s just a recent example.

The thing that I struggle most with in relationships is in how to communicate when my tank has gone empty.  I seek out connection, but I flavor it with my trademark ambivalence and of course, carefully concealing my need.  I make grandiose gestures of service, hoping to earn a rave comment or two that will hold me over, like an addict who needs a fix and settles for the cheap stuff.

As the Lord ushers me through a season of advancement (read: process, crap, struggle, pain)…these self-sabotaging reflexes have been revealed to me in a way that feels like an exposed nerve.  This is compounded because He is working on several areas simultaneously (I’m talking serious surgery here folks–someone bring me some Vicodin), making it hard to think with any sort of direction or clarity.  One voice or another bubbles up to the surface based on who won the toss; it’s frustrating to feel so little control.  But it has been an effective method of purification.  I can’t tell you some of the disgusting things I’ve been throwing away.

Jesus loves my heart and he loves to live in it…and He’s building on.  The construction has been painful and messy.   Stuff is everywhere.  My guts are exposed and some of them are being entirely relocated or remodeled.  It’s fine–He can do whatever He wants, and honestly none of it is making any sense to me at the moment.  I’ve laid myself entirely upon this thing and I’ve closed my eyes.  Whether this takes another day or another ten years, I have no where else to be.

SO I write, to examine my heart as it is shuffled and changed and shaped anew.  As my fingers hit the keys, they tell me my own story and give me courage.  As sludge is exposed and bubbles out of me, like oil in water, I recognize it as the anti-me.  I part ways with my weaknesses and brokenness, and I make Him promise to give me ways to make all this worth it.

I know I wasn’t formed to be a coward, living in this ridiculous closet of fake bravado.  I’m so glad He values me so much, to take me through seasons of such tremendous growth and training.  If you’re going through a time of training like me, maybe writing this out will help you feel less alone, and maybe even honored.  I am engaged, with you.  I will finish with you.

Like you, I have no where else to be.


Rain For The Weeds

When Nick and I bought our home, we had a fenced-in back yard for the first time in our married life.  Think of the possibilities! I marvelled.  I thought the paver patio and pathway were so lovely.  I thought a raised bed seemed like a good idea and Nick, being the husband that he is, went to work for me one Saturday morning, building the frame and hauling loads of dirt to fill it.

Spring has this effect on me.  Each spring, I am excited to get outside and clean up my beds, pulling weeds, clearing piles of rotting leaves and edging.  The temperatures are warm and they thaw out my bones.  The sun deposits its energy in me and I can go for hours, or until my back hurts so badly that its time for a shower.  My kids toddle around and play.  It feels like therapy after the long dark winter, and I soak it in.

The problem comes when summer arrives–with it, the punishing hot temperatures.  I have trouble prioritizing my outside tasks when I have inside ones just as important–and I can do those in the air conditioning.

This year, with the primo summer growing conditions we’re having here in south-central PA, some areas of weeds grew to a startling height.  I looked out my kitchen window (a side of the house we rarely visit from the outside) and realized I could see the tip-tops of weeds (and that window is probably eight feet off the ground).  Recently when filling out my to-do list, I simply wrote the word “jungle” under Nick’s column–it was self explanatory.  Around here, weeds are not Nick’s job.  To put it bluntly–he hates gardening.  But when they’re tree-like and I can’t yank them from the ground by grunt force, a sharp tool is required and it lands in Nick’s court.  (He made quick work of it, and even spared my lillies).

The raised bed grew–we hadn’t even gotten around to planting it this year, but it grew anyway–with weeds in creative variety.  Some sprawled out and covered massive areas.  Others stayed in one place but grew deep into the dirt.  Some were actually surprisingly beautiful.  I watched them grow, observing them from my back porch.  I knew the ground in that bed was hard and dry.  While I might successfully pull their tops off, I would have to wait for rain to soften the dirt before I could get them by their roots.  It was neither the day nor the time to stress about them.  So they grew high, filling the bed entirely.

The paver patio and pathway too, because the previous owner laid them improperly, welcome weeds with the slightest encouragement of sunshine.  The moist ground beneath the stones is a literal springboard for so many weeds.  I struggled to keep up, and when the hot summer arrived, I surrendered all together, except a small area close to the house where my conscience continued the fight (but the children!–where will they walk?!) 

Today, whether by random stroke of inspiration, or whatever, I realized it was mild enough outside to weed–and the soil was wet thanks to recent rainfall.  You realize, I wasn’t anxiously watching the clouds.  As far as I’m concerned, if I don’t get the weeds pulled, the snow will kill them and I will try again next year.

But I have guests coming this weekend and the weather forecast seems ideal for grilling out.  But the weeds.  So then I was resigned–just because I could tolerate seeing my own weeds didn’t mean I wanted to welcome friends to the jungle.  I want to be real with my friends, but harboring mosquitoes isn’t exactly hospitality.  So I would try, I decided, this week…I would weed what I could.

But once I got started, I realized how fun it is to pull weeds when they are seated in soft soil.  Big weeds are easy to pull and they span large areas, so the work is rewarding.  It was satisfying to look up and see the huge area of suddenly clear beauty.  Oh!  I forgot that path was this wide!  and I confess, the other thought was I wonder if I can charm Nick into carrying these huge weed piles away for me. (Yes, you’ve just stumbled upon a bone of contention in our marriage.)

The pathway

I walked past the raised bed a few times–you see, I was going to skip it entirely.  (I meant it when I said I have no trouble being real with my friends–so what, they see a mountainous weedy “garden”.  They’ll just feel better about themselves and their own messes.  I consider it a public service.)

But being practical, I realized it would take less than five minutes to clear all those big weeds and then it would be done.  So I went to it and the soil was so drenched that the weeds practically leaped into my arms.  It was (I’m whispering here, ashamed) fun.

Then Aly walked by and Jesus hit me square between the eyes with her question: “Mommy–why are you pulling these weeds?”

I stepped back and looked at the framed garden.  I wasn’t going to plant anything here for the year.  It was nice soil, but I had no plans for it.  But here I was, pulling weeds just to leave the ground bare.  I heard the answer bubble up out of my spirit as He whispered it to me… “I’m clearing the soil so Jesus can plant something here.”

Now, I’m not saying this as a natural thing, where I think I’m going to walk out there tomorrow and my Love will have placed a zucchini plant just for me.  Though I do love zucchini and would accept them in gratin.

But a powerful parallel of love emerged from my weeded garden.  I looked at the rich, fertile ground, dark and clear and ready.  I realized that the weeds had thrived there, and good plants would too.

But last week, when the weeds were firmly rooted and determined in dry ground, no amount of good intentions on my part would have coaxed the roots of those weeds from the dirt.  I might have cropped them off, level with the ground, so that no one could see them.  But they would have regrown.

Hearts are that way, too.  We redeemed, holy ones like to walk around showing people their weeds or discussing them righteously with our friends.  We fall prey to the temptation to diagnose as a physician, prescribing empty religious techniques–like weed killer, they last for a while, leaving death in their wake and ultimately–the weeds return.  Sometimes what we think are weeds, aren’t.

Jesus revealed to me the greatest weed solution of all.  It’s so simple.  When we see weeds, instead of hurrying to pull them out prematurely (so our friends don’t see them), or ignoring them all together because they are rooted so firmly, we simply lean into Him and whisper from our deepest place:  

Jesus, I need rain.

Ironic, isn’t it, that we ask for the very thing that could also encourage the weed to grow?  That’s the popular argument against a loving church, isn’t it–that our love might validate a man’s brokenness?

But it is rain–Love Himself–that liberates.  So we ask for love to loosen the heart.  And then, maybe the weeds grow a little longer.  Maybe a flood falls from the foot of the throne at the moment of your prayer.  But we, His precious ones, position ourselves for our Gardener, The Physician, to soften the places within ourselves–and within those around us whose weeds we see–with His rain, His love, in the perfect amount, at the proper time.  We act as His rain, loving His imperfect people, persistently until the soil permeates and soaks through the cracked places in their hearts.  We provide an environment of rain that, over time, prepares them for freedom.

We are imperfect people working towards Christ’s perfection–by definition, we all have weeds.  It’s time to stop panicking when we see them, time to stop feeling an immediate personal mandate to clear their impurities.  Our strategy for drive-by deliverance is being overwritten by a echoing call from heaven–to love.  And then, when we see the soil is soft, when we see their hearts have been affected by love in such a way that they are willing, then, gently, in love, and by the roots, we pull.  One at a time, testing to see if they are ready to yield.  If not, we are patient–because He is patient.

It becomes an act of love, to gently liberate, deliberately, carefully.  One at a time.  We become freedom dealers, surrendering to relationships that last longer than a coffee date, go deeper than a movie night.  We invest our hearts into people, knowing that WE are the rain falling from the skies over a generation of thirsty, hard hearts.  His hands tenderly releasing people from roots of painful conditions.

In this way, as they willingly eject their weeds, they receive a readiness to accept good seeds, and their destiny of fruitfulness is propelled forward.  New, good things are planted.  Life begets life and they, themselves, become eager freedom dealers.  It will become a kingdom wave that will take over the world.  It contains a power that will accomplish what governments and world systems never will.

Today, I’m praying for rain for the weeds.  I’m becoming rain for the hearts overcome by weeds.  Ironically, the rain will set them free.


Healing: A Prayer

“Holy Spirit” (Bryan & Katie Torwalt) from Lucas Barrientes on Vimeo.

Holy Spirit, You are welcome here.
Especially while my children are hitting themselves with metal Thomas trains and squealing at each other.  They have yo-yoed from happy shrieks to raging war about three times this morning so far and if the pendulum should swing again, and Your Presence not be with me, I might assign my sweet, grumpy toddlers to manual labor.

Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.

I know You’re with me, but I need You to swell up here in my spirit.  I feel fragile and alone.

Your Glory, God, is what my heart longs for.

Nothing short of Your Authentic Fingerprint will be enough for me.  I see you everywhere, in so many of my daily experiences.  But the memories of experiences fade.  I need your invasion, in a way my heart understands.

When I am with you, Your purity reveals so many places in me that I didn’t know I yielded to:  hopelessness, depression, loneliness, inferiority, loss of vision, numbness.  I love Your way of bringing revelation without a single ounce of guilt or condemnation.  I am completely accepted in You.  I don’t need to run anywhere else for help, for prayer, for strength, even for validation or vindication.  You Are Those Things.  I am pressing in to You, stubborn, hungry and without any alternative option.  Restoration and hope are my DNA, because they are Yours.

To be overcome by your Presence, Lord.

Thank you for being jealous of me, that every aching part of me is exposed and transformed into strength and health–because there’s not an inch of me that You will leave alone, to remain unredeemed.  I know you are my healer–it is in Your very nature.  I don’t even have to ask for it; it is a natural bi-product of our intimacy.  I want only a clearer picture of Your heart for me–it is You, my love–that will reset my heart and mind simply by being there with me.  Topical treatments will be temporary.  I am pursuing the ongoing and complete transformation of Your Spirit.

Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness… 

Our togetherness—You and me–sends a pulse into the atmosphere–an aroma, a shout, a call, a beacon–that no profoundly worded, eloquently-delivered prayer of deliverance or battle ever could.  The chemistry of the world around me is completely altered.  The rules of the game change.

I am tuning out every remaining voice, every memorized tactic and every worn-out cliche.  I will be faithful to be still, here in You, as You work out my healing, as you transform my broken places into treasure.  You are singing songs of sleep over my panicky, anxious soul (what bliss to walk out of that constant weakness), and the thunder of heaven is awakening my spirit.

Holy Spirit, you are welcome here…

Peace be still, my troubled soul.  Jesus is here.  Be at rest, be in His worship.  The work He started will be completed.


The Void of No Goodbye

My heart hurts.  It seems like my heart aches most of the time.  Before I had children, before I fought for my marriage, before I really experienced some of the darkness of the world, my heart didn’t feel so much.  I grimace now, when I reflect on the past.  I am embarrassed by my judgments and criticisms.  I ache over those I have lost because I failed to be transparent and vulnerable with them.  Life has served me well with its troubles and pain; it is largely because of them that I learned to love people.

But I wish life lessons didn’t cost so much.

My heart is troublesome to me now.  I am still resilient and strong, but my heart aches so much these days.  Nick was watching a scene from Book of Eli recently and I wasn’t really paying attention.  But even in my distracted activities, my spirit heard the screams of a woman about to be raped by two villains and I nearly had a panic attack.  I wasn’t enthralled by the drama as I once would have been.  I didn’t get caught up in the storyline.  It didn’t matter that soon the hero would sweep in and save the day.  My spirit rose up and burned in pain because the fictional soundtrack sincerely communicated the heart of a woman was being abused.  There seemed to be no defender for her, and I literally curled up in a ball.  Physically, my body responded to my sudden panic.  I closed my eyes and covered my ears like a small child, trying to shut it out.  I tried to tell Nick to fast forward but the words came out slurred and choppy and he couldn’t understand.  Everything in me was shutting out and shutting down. It seems love has broken the crust away from me.  Ideally, this was what I might have asked for—that God would break me open.  I didn’t know I relied on that crusty shell so much, to filter my spirit from input better ignored.

I am hurting today, again.  I am aching—once again with a burden I could once have filtered away, labeled and stored, quite conveniently.  But this time, the ache is a hole that someone left when they left me.

I wish people would say goodbye.

I realize with my adult mind that people move on; it is a fact of life, and that any mature, logical mind must adapt.   Nick and I have had difficult transitions in life; we have learned that it takes great courage to say goodbye.  It is far easier to leave, in the stillness of the night, or through a casual fade, then it is to cleanly adjourn to a new course.  I will always remember the day Nick drove to Leesburg, Virginia to say goodbye to someone we deeply respected.  He texted me in panic from their home, nervous and intimidated.  I pray-texted back, begging God to honor our desire to be people of character.  We were desperate for God to give Nick an opening.  Within ten minutes, Nick had not only had a full-on miraculous conversation concerning our departure, but also a cash gift of blessing.

Goodbye is difficult—sometimes because we don’t know it’s goodbye until we’re gone.  Goodbye requires an explanation, which is easier not to give.  Goodbye requires confrontation, which makes us vulnerable.  It demonstrates respect, which is humbling.  Goodbye is difficult but necessary.  Life is full of changed courses and new directions.

But in recent months, several people who I love have simply faded away in the passing of life.  People who are my friends.   People whom I was falling in love with.  People whom I was beginning to reveal myself to, build relationships with.  People who said “let’s have a coffee date soon” or “we want to have dinner with you guys” but their invitations never extended beyond the hypothetical.

Suddenly, they are gone and I hardly know how to ask what happened.  I don’t know if they changed or if I offended them.  I don’t know if I wasn’t friend enough, spiritual enough, loving enough, interesting enough.  I wonder if I am just another local bumpkin that was easily discarded in pursuit of greater destiny.  I find myself wanting to invite conversation but I worry that I’m missing the coded message to keep my distance.

You know when you pull a plant from the ground, like a tree, and a crater remains where the roots once sank deep?  I have a crater in my heart like that for each of these people.  I am starting to feel like Swiss cheese.  I have real estate within me that is in limbo—do these people still desire to have relationship with me, or should I fill in the holes and plant anew?

They didn’t say goodbye and because I love them more than I love myself, I don’t know whether to respect the distance or to cross the chasm in pursuit of the answers my heart is aching for.  It would be easier if the defensive crust on my heart remained—for then, I could simply be angry that I was easily discarded.  Or I could be arrogantly skeptical about their undefined direction.  I could be judgmental about the weakness they demonstrated when they left without goodbye.  But I do not seek to protect myself—my heart’s deepest craving is restoration.  I don’t care that they’re flawed—as Paul admitted, I am chief of the flawed.  Their flaws only attract me closer.  It is what endeared me to them in the beginning.

How is it, that someone so loved, someone with so many wonderful companions, someone so blessed, can still feel the chasms they left behind?  I am so loved with such affection.  And yet my heart aches for a few.  This realization is startling!  My mind is drawn to the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 in search of the one that was lost.

Suddenly it makes sense.  In the realization that my heart is becoming more and more like my Father’s, of course I miss them.  It is because no one can fill the place they were designed for.  Each person is so special, so unique, so wonderfully made.  I miss them because we are a Body—for all our divisions, for all our diverse perspectives and viewpoints, we are ultimately one unit.  I miss them because I am designed to.   I miss them because I must.

Unity is a tough thing.  We like to pretend that it’s a two-way street, like ballroom dancing or making a baby.  But unity is a state of heart.  It is the refusal to be separated.  It is a stubborn loyalty to the man over the matter.   It is an absolute decision.

I will choose unity.  Even though there was no goodbye, no explanation, I still get to choose.  I choose unity.  I choose to love, to be of one mind, to be of the Body.  I choose to fully embrace them as Brother, as Sister, as heartbeat.  I choose to stay vulnerable to my need of them.  And if that means I ache, if that means a lifetime sentence to being confused as to where they went, that’s okay.  I am not my own.  I will surrender to missing them—so that in all things, my heart is fully invested in their success, in their fulfillment, in their encouragement.  Like Jesus, I will love without demanding.

So because I choose, because He lives dynamically in me, I can forgive the non-goodbye.  I will let love fill in the places that feel abandoned, the relationships that feel discarded.

To a heart filled with love, there is no goodbye.  Perhaps I’m a late comer to this lesson.

Perhaps the reason they didn’t say goodbye is because in the Kingdom, goodbye does not exist.