The Day I Left My Rock for the Beach

beach

My house is a humble home, but it is set up on a large precipice. The view is phenomenal. When I stand at my front door, I can see for across the treetops and the glistening ocean in the distance. Sometimes the wind is fierce and rain pounds the roof and windows, but I am snug and warm inside my house on the rock. There’s not another place in the world that I would rather be, but there was once a time when I thought differently.

It was a warm and dark summer night. I stood, resting my head on the doorframe, looking out across the tops of the trees. It had been a very long and hard day, and I was feeling restless and agitated. A flicker of light down by the beach caught my eye, and the humid nighttime breezes brought with it sounds of laughter. A party was in full swing down on the beach. The longer I stood watching the flickering lights and listening to the gaiety, the more I longed to be down there.

I stepped out onto my porch, closed the door behind me, and started toward the porch stairs. As I lowered my foot to the first step, I hesitated. I’d never left my rock before, but the pull of the sand and the waves and the party was strong… so very strong. I bounded down the stairs and took off down the long path to the beach.

Approaching that sudden place where the trees toe the sand, I paused to observe the crowd. They were cool. They were hip. And they were having fun. Music blared and beach fires flickered. A group of three women raised their bottles and roared with laughter. A young couple sat right where the waves kiss the sand, wrapped in a passionate embrace. My eyes moved to edge of the flickering light to a small group of guys. One of them met my gaze and winked, beckoning me to join him.

I’m not going to lie. I had the time of my life that night… lifting my bottle high… joining in the uproar of the party life. I relaxed in the arms of the winker, letting him cover me in kisses.

I thought I had finally found the life, but as the east edge of sky began to ever so slightly glow with the coming of the sunrise, things began to change. The strong, muscular arms wrapped around me suddenly turned old, brittle, and death like. I looked up into his face and his eyes appeared as the eyes of the devil, dark and empty. I screamed and leaped to me feet.

All around me the happy partiers were turning into miserable creatures. The sand beneath my feet no longer felt warm and firm. Instead it felt cold and shifty. As I backed slowly away from the horror story unfolding before me, the ground turned to quicksand, pulling me into itself.

I gasped, bolted toward the trees, ran all the way up to the top of the rock, bounded up the steps, tore through my front door, slammed it, and slick my back down the inside. I tried to calm my breathing, slow my pounding heart, and stop the terrifying shivers vibrating over my body, but I could not.

I think my house on the rock understood somehow, because I felt it envelope me in some sort of safe and comforting embrace. This was home. This would always be home. This house on the rock was my safe place.

And now when I long for human connection, I just wait for someone to visit my rock and together we rest in its safety.

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
(Mat. 7:24-27)

When you hear the beckoning of a beach vacation, resist it, my friends. It is a lie. Sin is but a miserable nightmare disguised as pleasure. Its foundation is shifty and you will fall hard. Cling to your Rock. Abide in Him. And when the storms of life come, you will be safe and secure.

Christmas on a Broken Heart

2954792591_9c6014e8b4_o

I don’t remember ever not knowing that Christmas was about baby Jesus being born in a stable, but honestly I’ve never felt the significance. Why do we need to celebrate a baby? They’re helpless, red faced squallers. How was Jesus any different? It’s not like he slipped out of the womb and immediately healed the donkey’s lame knee or anything magical like that.

But this year, with my heart shredded in more ways than I can even list, I see him – this infant alchemistic anthropologist. And oh what I wouldn’t give to hold that infant in my arms, look down into his face, and feel his gaze locked on mine. I feel a bit like Simeon: “God, don’t let me die until I’ve held this blessed child in my arms!”

I wonder what sort of incredibly sweet and overpowering feeling Mary had as the Holy Spirit literally came upon her – body on body – and conceived the very son of God in her womb. It had to be an immensely spiritual moment. There is just no possible way that it “just happened” without Mary even realizing. You can’t be in direct contact with the living Spirit and not feel it.

As that tiny Jesus swam and wiggled inside Mary, he was busy already performing his alchemistic duties. His very being was an act of mystical, divine magic. This was a child created from nothing (as in not a human father), so completely 100% human and yet completely 100% divine. How? I don’t know. It’s just his alchemist ways.

As a divine being, this infant had the ability to choose his very own delivery day and time. He could have insured that there were midwives and Mary’s mother right there to guide him into this world, but he did not. He chose to come when it was just Mary and Joseph. He chose to come in a small and lowly setting. He came for the entire world, but he wanted his entrance to be intimate with the two people who would have the most interaction in his childhood.

When his wet, matted head crowned and Joseph reached out to catch him, I think something divinely electrical went through Joseph’s body. It was human fingers touching the very skin of God. How can such a moment not be charged with divine fireworks? As Joseph took that slippery, wiggly body into his arms and rubbed the slime and goo off with his cloak, Jesus turned his big wonder filled eyes and gazed directly into Joseph’s, seeing everything in his soul… every joy, every tear, every sin, every victory, past, present, and future… and Jesus loved him as deep as love can go.

Joseph laid the infant on top of Mary’s chest, and again divine electricity surged as the skin of God touched the skin of Mary. Jesus quickly latched on and suckled, lifting his eyes to Mary’s and again, he saw it all – joys, tears, sins, victories, past, present, and future – and he loved. Loved as deep as love can go.

That night in that stable, amidst all the straw and dirt and animals, the most intimately divine of all events took place. That moment when the divine being of God entered the human world must have been the sweetest in all of history. How very much like our Savior to make it the most intimate as well.

Oh to have been there! Oh to have looked into the infant God’s eyes and felt his anthropologic gaze! Oh to have felt him see my heartache – to have him wrap his tiny alchemist fingers around mine and surge wholeness and love into my veins!

And so I look for him this Christmas, because he is there – in the eyes of my children, in the face of the bell ringers, in the souls of the homeless sign holders. He is there, waiting for me to see him and to see that his gaze has not changed. He is still just as intimately connected as he was the night he slid, wet and slippery, into Joseph’s hands.

Bring on the Carmel (Hold the Chocolate)

Megadim_Cliff_Mount_Carmel_-1Ok, so the title is probably a bit misleading. This post has nothing to do with candy. Is it about Carmel though… Mount Carmel. You probably know the story… how Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a god competition. (If you don’t know the story, you can read it here.) I’ve always read/heard the story with the idea that those stupid people who worshipped Baal needed to be put into their place. But when the story teller at our children’s Sunday night Pioneer Club retold the story, I heard something else.

Think about this… The prophets of Baal set up a proper sacrifice. They had a nice pile of wood, plenty of burnable material. They chose a bull, cut it into pieces and laid it on the wood. That right there is barbeque waiting to happen. They just needed Baal to bring the matches.

Elijah, on the other hand,  built an altar of stone. He dug a ditch around it, placed wood on top, and laid the pieces of bull on top of that. The ditch is a little weird, but ok. We can cook on stone. Then he turns to some people and says, pour water over it all. They did. Then he said, “Do it again.” And then “Do it again.” Everything was soaked. There was so much water, it filled the ditch around the altar. If you remember, Smokey Bear teaches us that water puts out a good campfire, so I’m thinking it would be pretty darn hard to start a fire when everything is that wet.

So we have barbeque waiting to happen and an impossibly soggy pile of meat. Those prophets of Baal spent all.day.long crying to their God. “Please, just light the darn thing on fire. We’ve even set it all up for you. Just one tiny spark should do just fine.” They cut themselves and danced. I cannot imagine the amount of physical pain and weakness they went through to try to convince their god to just show up for the picnic.

When it was Elijah’s turn, he prayed a simple prayer. “You are God. Answer me, Lord, so these people will know that you are the one and only God, and that you are turning their hearts back to you.” Immediately, the entire soggy mess burst into flames. The fire burnt up the meat, the wood, the stones, the soil, and dried up all the water in the ditch. Now I was under the impression that stone and dirt don’t burn, but this time, it did. If that’s not proof that He is real, then I don’t know what is.

How many times, though, do I prepare my sacrifice, and line up my dominoes perfectly, then pray to my “gods” to make things happen? I set it all up, and then I look to my husband or to my kids or to my friends or my ego or my “set your goals and achieve your dreams”ness… or whatever to make it all happen. I get so worked up, trying everything to get the attention of these gods. I mean, come on!!! It’s a barbeque waiting to happen; just bring the darn matches already! And all I get is crickets.

And God is there the whole time, waiting for me to just stop.

I don’t have to set anything up for God. I can bring Him the absolute most impossible, and it doesn’t phase Him one single bit. He simply reaches down from heaven and proves that He is real and that He can be trusted.

God is real.

He can be trusted.

He is a master of the impossible.

 

*photo credit

Of Tests and Wrestlings

trail

“He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’… So Abraham rose early in the morning…. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar…. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven…. ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me’.” (Gen. 22)

I shoved my Bible away in disgust. What sort of cruel loyalty test is this? Is God some sort of fraternity bully, demanding insane proofs of loyalty before He allows peons to join His exclusive club?

Abraham’s stomach probably dropped to the ground when he heard the words “burnt offering”. He probably did not sleep at all that night as he weighed his options… kill my son to appease the God of the universe or anger the God of the universe to save my son. Perhaps it was with shaky legs and a nauseous stomach that he rolled out of bed that morning, skipping breakfast because he couldn’t keep it down anyway.

For three long days, the war raged inside him. He pushed forward, while everything inside him desperately screamed to turn and run the other way. How it must have broken his heart when Isaac asked why they did not have a sacrifice. Did he stumble and choke over the words “God will provide”? It doesn’t say whether he told Isaac at all what God had asked of him. Only that he bound up his son and laid him on the altar. It probably took every ounce of adrenaline in his body to raise that knife above his son’s body.

And then God said, “That’s enough.”

Are you freaking kidding me?? You demand his son, but then when he’s fighting against every bit of humanness inside of himself to simply please You, You tell him to stop? Were You just playing with him the whole time? What kind of maniac God are You?

I shoved back my chair and began to gather up my things. I can’t do this. Why would God ask that of Abraham? Why was He asking that of me? What sort of weakling did He think I was? Was He trying to prove something to me? That I was but an ant to Him, and He could squash me and every one I love with a slight pressing of His thumb?

As I stepped between the towering walls of forest, following the trail into its depths, I listened to the crunch of my footsteps. “I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be alone,” they whispered over and over again. I stopped, thinking that maybe if I didn’t hear my footsteps, I wouldn’t hear the desperate whispers.

I jumped as a bird called from somewhere in the heart of the forest. “Alone!” it squawked. A silent tear trickled down my cheek. “I don’t want to be alone.” The sound of my words barely made it past my lips, but my heart was yelling so loudly my ears were ringing. I could feel that yell bubbling its way up my throat. It would be stupid to scream into an empty forest, so I just shoved my body forward. First, a slow step. Then a few more, faster this time. Soon I was jogging my way down the trail, paying no heed to anything around me.

I must have worked off the pent up energy, because I slowed to a stop and looked around. I knew I passed many forks along the trail, but I couldn’t remember if I stayed on trail 3 or got off on another one. I had no idea where I was. The nice thing about hiking trails at state parks is that if you keeping following them, eventually you’ll find some sort of trail marker or another human being.

I gathered up my wits, found a trail map, and set off in what I thought was the right direction. But the more I walked and the more trail markers I came to, the more confused I became. The more confused I became, the more angry I felt. I did not want to be alone! I wanted someone here right now to help me figure out these stupid trails. I wanted someone right now to laugh with me over my uncanny ability to get lost. I wanted someone right now to share this adventure with. “I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE!”

It took nearly three hours to find my way back to the inn, but I did find it. There was no feeling of relief, though… only intense resistance. How dare God bring me to this place! How dare He ask such sacrifice!

I tried to calm my body and my soul. I soaked in the hot tub. I painted. I watched TV. I tried to sleep. But the war inside me would not stop. My chest burned. My nerves vibrated. My thoughts were like a speeding train constantly jumping tracks. All I wanted to do was run as fast as I could away from this place. And so I did, first thing the next morning.

It wasn’t until that afternoon, that I finally got the word, “Stop! That’s enough!” I melted into a pile of exhausted goo, just resting in that warm, safe place.

I don’t know if I passed the test. I never really reached a point where I calmly accepted and resolved to sacrifice what He was asking of me. And maybe Abraham never did either.

Maybe God is not so much concerned about the final grade, as He is in the wrestling it takes to make our way through the test. Maybe it’s in that intense struggle that our weak human resolve is put through the fire to make us more Christ like. Maybe it’s not about passing. Maybe it’s about wrestling.

When You’re Broken, and You Know It

brokenBroken. It’s a word that’s been running circles in my head for several days now.

Broken. It’s more than just admitting my childhood/early adulthood has adversely affected me. It’s more than just realizing I have issues, just like every other person in the world has issues.

It’s a personal admittance. I’m broken.

Sometimes I even whisper the words out loud… just to let the truth sink in. There are parts of my subconscious that are in dire need of repair before it completely takes over my entire being in a fit of selfish, angry rage.

And  you know what? It makes me feel weak and vulnerable. And I just want to go back to pretending I’m completely whole and happy, where even those who are closest to me have no idea what’s going on inside.

But I can’t. I’ve seen what happens when brokenness isn’t fixed. I’ve been on the receiving end of brokenness tearing out of someone’s soul and attacking my own. I don’t want that miserable life, and I certainly don’t want to spread that sloppy mess on my family and friends.

They need me. They need a whole-as-can-be me.

I need fixing, and I can’t do it alone. I need help. Because I’m broken, and I know it.

When a Blogger Gets Vulnerable About Blogging

forgivenI kinda feel like an idiot admitting this out loud.

I don’t know if I can do this blogging thing. I began this blog with a nice, steady line of five dead blogs behind me. I tend to pour myself into a project and then wane off. I guess it’s just what I do. Start and never finish.

But I guess I feel like this blog is different. It’s not just any old blog filled with randomness that occasionally hits the mom blog world in a buzz for a few days (or years as the busy bag craze did). This is me. This is my passion. It’s what I’ve done (unknowingly) all my life.

Think deep. Write. Reach out to those who need some deepness. Hide from the crowd, but single out one person whom I can inspire.

I want to be this, live this, on a large scale. I want to impact a scattered community across the world.

I want to be what I write. I want to write what I am. And I want what I write to inspire women everywhere to love who they are.

Then why would I slack off? Why would both quantity and quality go downhill so fast on a project I embrace with my whole heart?

The same reason I have yet to reach my health goals. The same reason I reach for frozen pizza at times. The same reason I drive a dented, starting to rust minivan. The same reason I just now looked at my clock and sighed.

The reality of the moment screams louder than dreams and ambitions.

Kids wake up too early. Breakfast needs served. Morning chores need done. School needs taught. Preschoolers have melt downs. Morning snack time is demanded by little hungry bellies who woke up too soon and ate breakfast too early. More school needs taught.

Lunch needs served. Someone spills their water all over the schoolbooks. More school needs taught. Kids need non-school attention. The dishes need done. The laundry needs rotated. There’s ants crawling under the dining room table. Close friends and family need to be called, texted, chatted with. Kids fight.

Dinner needs cooked. Husband works late. Dinner needs served. Dinner needs cleaned up. Kids need prepped for bed. Bills need paid. There’s not enough money to go around. Brain free relaxation with the husband is beyond needed. Sleep calls your name.

Where does passion and life ambition fit in there?

(Yes, I know. We could talk about finding passion in the calling to motherhood. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.)

We’re trying to get our finances in order right now… you know, the good ol’ student loans, groceries, fuel, everyday needs, mortgage stuff. It’s quite apparent that, without a raise in income, it’s just not going to work.

Christmas this year will be significantly less materially than the past ones (not a bad thing, by any means). But that means most gifts will be homemade. T.I.M.E

I’ve been searching for ways to bring in an income. That’s another thing on the plate. Gotta research. Gotta do the actual work. Gotta market. T.I.M.E.

Well why not just make money blogging? The top, number one reason is: I never want the goal of this blog to be for financial gain. If it happens, that’s fine. But that’s not its purpose. But also, making money off blogging (especially with this type of blog) takes many months, sometimes years. That’s not soon enough.

So if I’ve got the everyday realities of existence and motherhood… plus Christmas gifts to make… plus income to create… how does my piddly little “impact the world” dream even begin to matter? In the right now, it doesn’t even fit.

There are so many women out there who run tremendous blogs and shout “you can too!” There are a bagzillion ebooks on the steps to successful blogging with promises of great success. But I’m here to say…

In the daily realities of life, blogging is just a computer sitting on a desk. In the daily realities of life, dreams are just lofty thoughts in the sky.

And this… this is why I wonder if I should even be blogging.

 

*photo credit (recycling a photo from a previous post because there’s no time for a new one)