Identity

It’s the core of everything.

And when it’s in question, it’s the crumbling of everything.

When you don’t know who you are… all of it implodes.

Start with the beginning of the day.

There’s a mirror.

What happens when you look in it?

I would love to think it’s good but I think many if not most people lean in and look at flaws at some time in the day. Or compare their face, their hair, their body with someone they know and more likely some popular online person who’s likely been altered either online or truly.

That’s impossible to measure up to.

And that’s just the beginning of the day.

We exercise. And best case scenario is we do it because we want to be strong and healthy. That’s good! Often it’s to silence the taunting voice in the mirror. And it doesn’t matter how beautiful your face or hair or body is, you still hear it.

Then, get dressed. More challenges because who knows if what’s hanging in the closet is in style this year and if you’re even comfortable in it. But thanks to the insidious machine of advertising, if you’re not comfortable, you will be in a year or too due to the psychological warfare being waged on your brain, but then it’ll be too late as a different style of dress will have come in. And likely (if you’re a woman especially) it will cover even less of you than it did before.

Are we even hungry after this? And if we are, the plethora of food options is mesmerizing.

How we even get out the door intact is questionable.

Family. Transportation. School. Job(s). Social life.

And now add in pandemics and all the ideologies out there vying for your soul.

And if you don’t support them all you might be cancelled.

Cancelled? Like a date. Like I’m not wanted? Like I’m out?

Now what’s happening to your identity?

Spiral. Spiral. Spiral.

Depression. Medication. Suicide.

Look at this?!

Whoever you are out there, I’m hugging you.

Breathe.

It’s a lie!

There is hope.

You are loved!!!

Just you, without all the bells and whistles. Without you agreeing with everything. With your questions and discomfort and probably rage and sadness.

Like what the hell is going on and why do we get to inherit this mess?

You’re right.

Here are some thoughts in the midst of the deconstruction of everything.

There is a foundation. Something solid to stand on.

There is truth and stability.

There is love and it’s more than what’s being thrown around out there.

If you are desperate for something to rest your tired soul on let’s talk. There are a few pages here to dive into.

Try “What if a Kingdom.”

And just “Welcome” if you haven’t gone there yet and “Contact” if you want to actually chat.

This is not about promoting a blog but knowing sometimes we all just need a stable place to land.

Peace to you. And I love the Hebrew word that means the same, only more.

Shalom

That is my prayer for you today.

I’m tucked in, bundled in these layers; rumpled cotton sheets, off-white with this soft green leafy pattern like I’m swaddled in a spring garden. Comforter, and the fleecy blanket I swiped from my daughter’s room when she left for university, cover me. Everything’s warm in this nestling as I look across the room at the rocking chair, in the dim light, my clothes laid across the high back.

I’m not a morning person.

But this early morning is calling and I’m not sure what I’ll answer.

Yes, and push back this comfort or sink deeper and yield to another hour of oblivion?

Creativity is calling. I know I’m going to write this while I’m still deep in. I’m going to beat this.

What am I willing to trade for the moments of being weighted down, letting inertia win so my sleepy body can atrophy a bit longer? Which words will not find a page, thoughts succumb to the numbing, so that I and God and others won’t benefit from me being awake.

And I put it in that order on purpose.

I – because I benefit when I put my feet on the floor, grab those clothes and agree that morning is here and being awake is a good thing. Thoughts spark, spirit stretches to the Most High and that’s the next point.

God – not that He benefits from my getting up but I have to believe He’s pleased that I choose rising rather than sinking and has thoughts and plans about this day and all the resources I need in it, so is blessed in some fashion as I reach for Him on this still dawning day, but the blessing is all mine.

Others – because I don’t want the focus to be just on me, but on what God has planned to do through me and that is to bless others in some way, small or big and it’s not about trying but just showing up.

What do we trade all through the day for His glory and our good?

What little decisions press us into our comfort zones, lingering us there in repeating patterns, kaleidoscopes of same habits, stifling the God breathed invitation to wholeness shimmering around our souls daily.

It’s a conundrum as we lay in the beds we’ve made, covered in what’s familiar, safe feeling in some fashion, even if it’s not, yet around us is this sparkling more, this goodness calling us past the self-comfort into a galaxy of provision and we hesitate, I hesitate to step out, crawl out, leap out of the thing that binds me. And sheets, even pretty ones, sure can do that.

So this day…I’m up!

Early and writing. It’s good. Quiet, like no other time. Thoughts flow as I sip this cinnamon tea and anticipate.

And this offering is what the morning brings … so far.

Dog and I at the reservoir.

Crisp air.

Blackbird’s tinselly tune,

and the chickadee -dees dart (note to self: bring sunflower seeds next time).

An orgy of burgundies and ochre, paint-splattered across these autumn acres. Flaming sumacs arch into the path.

Then, this tributary and you grey and still against the rushes.

Reflected in shallow stream.

Standing.

Long.

I slip forward, trying not to disturb as your head moves, watching me and I you.

I turn for just a moment (where has dog gone),

And when I look back, you’ve disappeared.

I peer. Are you camouflaged in the reeds?

No.

I press through grass and weeds to my hips, closer,

And along the narrow, weaving corridor of this water, you are there.

Tiptoeing if I can call it that,

One long leg, one web foot after the other.

A graceful exit from my intrusion.

Your neck dips and head turns.

You look and I look as you saunter into the grey,

On this reddest of mornings.

Un-ashamed

You can wear a cloak for a lot of years, unknowingly draping most parts of you in a deep shade of shame.

There are unsettling, unexplainable times in all our lives. Events that drag a child from innocence to knowing. Apple times when the serpent dangles life altering fruit in front of us and we naively reach out, taking a terrible nibble.

I was twelve I think when he came through the door. He met my parents and asked for me to do some babysitting. I was standing in our foyer with Mum and Dad. As he and his wife chatted with us, his eyes wandered to mine. Dark eyes. Hungry eyes. I can still see them. Feel them. Like I was something to eat. The room seemed shaded as if the sun was blocked and I couldn’t catch my breath. And then the air changed. Bright conversation again. Happy to have the request for me to help, my parents smiled at me. His wife was pleased (I think) and they left. I was uncertain but had no words for the dark butterfly trapped in the pit of my stomach.

This one story wound its’ confusing narrative up into my teen years. This heaped on top of other, earlier exploitive chapters. As I look back I wonder if I was marked for this, for the insidious worm kept surfacing at segments of my life, and into adulthood.

What is it that decides this child, this young girl, this teen, this woman is chosen for exploitation? Or who I should say.

Is it the sins of the fathers, the mothers, generations back? Not my father, respectful and kind, or Grandpa. I didn’t have that crippling story added to mine. It was another.

The marks it left robed me, roped me into a thinking that tarnished my whole life.

How do you bounce back when you don’t know what’s tying you in knots.

One evening I sat at a table, in a gathering of wholesome and safe people. But this particular evening someone was absent. The one other women at my table was away. Part way through, as we discussed heart matters and watched the video the church had selected to lead us through, I became aware of panic. A sense of danger and the need to flee. Three men and me. Not safe.

Breathe. Not the same. Breathe. Reason. Don’t cry. Calm. Go to the bathroom. Settle down. Note to self: Make an appointment with counsellor.

Phew! Where did that come from.

And why on earth am I sharing this vulnerable story with you? Why say things that no one has any business knowing. Except that if we don’t tell these things then where will it end…. and….there’s the other side of it.

The gem in this dark soul space. The place of hidden stories.

I sense that when I became a Christian, there was a mere changing of clothes but the heart stuff stayed hidden and festering.

I grew, yes.

I fell in love with Jesus, somewhat.

I worshipped, kind of, the best I knew how.

I was catapulted into the place of being a ‘saved person’, part of the youth group, part of the Christian community that reaches more unsaved people and brings them into the kingdom.

But I was broken.

And I couldn’t express it but always felt something was amiss but assumed it was just being a maladjusted teen.

Don’t mistake what I’m saying. Jesus saved me! I did become part of the Kingdom and knew His voice. But there was this undealt with part of me that just got pushed to the side, the deep inside and caused a limp that wouldn’t heal.

I don’t understand God’s timing, why it’s taken these 40 years to get to the root. But it’s been now and before and will continue I’m sure….

I didn’t understand the depths of his caring, the layers of intensity and purpose in digging into what matters to Him. That He’s present, was there in my history and is here now and ferociously loves me. And is leading me in this healing. And His timing is right.

My heart is soil and He’s turning it

Hauling out shame

Digging deep for the vestiges of these roots.

Planting me a beauty garden

It’s a tenuous walk,

A tentative navigation of unearthed sensations, revealed rawness

Swirling consciousness as comprehension awakens

It’s a rebirthing

A needing to flail and wail

A wanting of being swaddled into safety

A peeling off of masks

A stripping down to the most vulnerable me

I believe it will lead to that garden, in time….

A pure place.

This confidence emerging.

He’s rooting out lies, amending me with love

speaking in His truthful word, gently

as I just lean in and allow this honesty.

Is the story complete? Is the healing done and I’m all better?

No.

Will I ever be fully restored? I hope so but know that this side of Heaven there may always be scars.

For now… just learning to be safe.

Learning to rest in the freedom of letting that young girl not carry the blame.

And that my friend, is good.

My prayer for you is freedom as well. We all have different narratives but the undergirding truth is that Jesus wants to set us free from all that binds us. To help us understand that He is FOR us. So then, honestly, who can be against us?

I hope you let Him into the most tender parts of your story and that you learn He is good and so wants to redeem what you’ve been through.

~In Christ ~

on the anniversary of my salvation (part II)

It’s not all dry

In fact there’s this river winding it’s way through sometimes parched places.

Blood streaming river, grace river, provision river.

And even back then he (Moshe) struck a rock when told and the water gushed out.

He struck a Rock and Water gushed out?!

Water and blood when the Rock was struck, stricken.

I’m stricken that I don’t SEE it all bled out for me. FOR ME!!!

Why stand on the shore, rant about the dry land when there’s this frothing invitation right there.

Cascading

Deep

Filling

Satisfying

Never thirsty again

Stream

I lunge (lunged then and forgot then too when the sun stacked high, soul scorching life and I became an Israelite wandering, murmuring) in.

Immersed

Why not every. single. day?

There’s a river of life flowing out of ….. me.

I choose

this again.

Despite distractions, the vaunted bellowing about the state of things, everywhere.

There’s a river!

Ha ha! There’s a river. What am I doing?

Provision: cleansing, thirst quenching, re-creating, restful, irrigating everything, this river.

Yes. Still and again.

You?

on the anniversary of my salvation (part 1)

40 years in the desert (lacking an extra ‘s’ makes it the antithesis of a sweet finish to something filling, rather just a dry lack)

Trusting, not trusting

Learning and forgetting (am I James, forgetting what I look like in the veritable mirror?)

Provision and pain

Occasions of thankfulness and murmurs bookending

Will I learn and see the Promised Land?

Rest,

in the Everlasting Arms

Or keep making this life, my work, my way, my straining effort,

weary striving to get it right

There is only One right

I understand

Like a hole being dug, deeper, dirt scraped out until the truth hits bottom

It’s not about me

It’s about Him

Utter dependence my only work

Utter yielding the only position required

Therein lies the door

Noah Days

Sometimes things come in a flood.

Pandemics

Identity politics

Woke culture ideology

And now you can pre-plan your own exit.

I think I’m on the next ship outta here.

Joking aside, we’re in trouble.

But I guess that depends on how you look at it.

Civilizations ago, there was another flood, you remember the story?

As the narrative goes, things in humanity had become so bad that God himself couldn’t condone any longer the things that were going on. Historians have touted theories about sexuality gone crazy, orgies, the things described in Romans 2 and even the devastating sexualization of children. And that was just one front. Violence. Selfishness on a level unheard of, and most concerning to God as evidenced over and over in his Word, the marginalization of the poor and afflicted.

There was another time in history, on a local level, when God said a people group had become so depraved that there was no going back. Redemption was no longer possible. So he told his King on the ground (Saul) to wipe them (the Amalakites) out. This story has been the source of much debate and derision to the satisfaction of detractors of the faith as they accuse the King of the universe of genocide.

Yet… was there another side to the story? Again, theologians and historians in many cases believe that this people group was so tainted by evil that there was no redemption possible and the only option was annihilation or they would continue to infiltrate and attack Israel’s (God’s missive to bring the Saviour) spiritual, social and security structures repeatedly. And when I say tainted by evil I mean the most heinous things you can imagine (or don’t please).

So… fast forward to Jesus, the Saviour, God’s Child, His real presence amongst us in the form of a man. God on foot. He said “As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.” He goes on to describe people eating and drinking and marrying, essentially going about their daily lives, yet I think we must pay attention to the description, “As it was in the days of Noah…”.

What was it like in those days? I’m wondering, that it should be touted as the same conditions for when Jesus Christ will return to earth to take His people home.

Genesis 6:5 tell us this about that time; “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” and this, “Now the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11)

And 2 Timothy 3:1-4 describes this… “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…”

Sound familiar?

This could describe a lot of times and ideologies. Yet once again we’re at a place in time where ‘the earth’ is becoming corrupt, not a localized place, but just about the whole globe.

Do you see it?

Matthew 16:2-3 says of Jesus, “He answered and said to them, ‘When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.”

I think many people are aware that something’s amiss today. There’s a homing device inside us that yearns for the kingdom of God. Yet there’s a cosmic battle waging, realer than we know and the enemy is lulling people to sleep with an evil lullaby that says everything’s okay.

But it’s not okay and I can’t imagine anyone thinking deep within themselves that it is. The evidence is there in the skyrocketing mental health crises, suicide rates and confusion as the woke world bludgeons our children with messages to titillate themselves in every imaginable way. Those children are pretty special to Jesus as even He said, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42). Them’s fightin’ words!

And the prophet Isaiah cried this long ago, “Woe unto them who call evil good, and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20) We’d do well to heed the warning.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24:42-43)

Un -Fettered

I consider the walls I live within, the space I inhabit.

We patched and painted last year, a neutral creamy beige with the slightest hint of green. I love green. The swatch was called ‘Garden Mist.’ Made me happy.

Aren’t I blessed to be made happy by a paint swatch from Home Hardware here in our small town.

We replaced our worn sectional with a new leather sofa and love seat from Leons on the pay in two years plan. They’re paid off. I love kicking back those recliners, especially on a cold night when the wood stove is stoked and the room’s filled with friends.

How did I warrant this? Did I do something to deserve it or did the chips just fall this way?

Am I good, like Maria Von Trapp in the Sound of Music. She breathlessly sings in the garden as Georg kisses her, “I must have done something good….”.

No. Not good. My heart, God knows is prone to resentfulness, rebellion and self seeking. Not good.

I was blessed with this, all this life. Not perfect, even some injuries along the way. But I’m not just surviving. I live in a different mode than those awaiting safety or one meal or shelter from the elements.

Yet I search for something. I ache for a wider space, a borderless place with high hills and views to the east where the sun slips up the earth, painting another morning orange-bright.

Why should I have that?

Why should I have anything at all when others are just wondering if that same birthing day will bring any food or death.

The earth is hellish. Fear smashing at our doors and I want to move. But where? Is there a place where soulish and real world worries aren’t present? Maybe the move isn’t to wider fields but to a different heart space. A space of lie me down yieldedness to the One who actually knows what the day will bring. It could be death or a meal or a field or even paint, but God forbid those things come because I clamoured for them. Let each gift be a mercy, a grace to cup gratefully, not a grasping.

I’ve heard that Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t start with the place it finished. It began with greed and selfishness. People wanting more and having much and thinking it was their right. And forgetting the poor. The ones who matter specially to God. The ones that God said Pay Attention to, because if you have much it’s not to build your bigger barn, it’s actually to share that much with the one who has little and it all evens out in the end. Not Communism, but Community. God’s way. But they didn’t. They turned inward and hoarded and got bored and tried new things and bought more and titillated themselves and found new ways to fill their cups of debauchery. And eventually God said okay. And turned them over to it.

I’m afraid we’re here, again. Even those of us who call ourselves Believers. Do we even know what we would need to repent of when we quote those 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 verses? I don’t but I’m getting a feeling as I look around. The attachments to my present life are pretty strong.

But there’s this whisper of freedom as I imagine not being owned by what I own.

What ties you to this earth? What distracts you from a fundamental connection with your Creator, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us? From the just living connected, trusting and obedient?

Are you willing to loosen your grip? To count the cost and take the hand held out to you?

I want to try. I imagine walking away and knowing this unfettered lightness.

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippians 3:8 NKJV (biblegateway.com)

Cancelled

“Maybe you should have been more careful about what you said,” I looked at Him sitting across from me. He was so self assured.

He looked back and smiled, “I Am careful. I Am true to Myself. I speak because I Love.”

“But they don’t understand who you are. They think you are an intolerant, old wizard sitting on your distant throne, hating on everyone who isn’t perfect according to Your standards. They think YOU cancel people.”

“I know.” This time there wasn’t a smile and His eyes darkened, sorrowing. “They don’t understand who I Am and how I love them. They can’t comprehend that this life they live is fleeting. They would rather tear up the framework I’ve given them, reject the rescue mission I embarked on to bring them home and risk losing everything in the forever. They feast on cheap thrills rather than hold off for the rich and lavish main course I’ve prepared for those who love Me.”

“But, they feel it’s their right. Right? To have what they want now?” He nodded.

“Yes. They’re being conditioned to grasp whatever titillating idea is set before them. Anything that throws off restraint and claims to be a right must be had. Especially if it appears to right a historical wrong. But at what cost? Wrong upon wrong doesn’t correct the atrocities that have been committed in my Name. Understanding my motives, my character will bring truth to history. And many of the deeds done in my Name had nothing to do with Me.” He touched my hand, so gentle and strong. Captivated I watched His brow furrow with grief, history clouding His grey eyes momentarily. Then his olive skin crinkled into a smile creasing his careworn face. I reached forward and touched his cheek, my eyes on His. His skin was warm. His sorrow became my own.

“I’m sorry,” my voice tremulous. “We’re fickle. We don’t really know You at all, so we act on what we see, what we’re told. The story is always changing so we believe it and then we’re outraged at what we’re told. And then we have to act.”

He leaned forward. “What you don’t realize is that the narrative isn’t changing so quickly. It’s an old tale, told from the beginning. Sometimes it’s suppressed and truth comes to the forefront. Other times it pushes to the surface, but it’s old and insidious. It’s experienced and effective.” He flung his arm in the air. “Those who wield it wave it like a found wand over the world, gradually changing thought to suit the old agenda, without knowledge or understanding of what’s actually taking place. Simply, it’s a war. And its focus is Me. Am I good? And if so, how can I allow difficult things to happen? Why should I prevent humans from having what they want?”

“Right. So they cancel You.”

“That’s okay. I don’t actually need their approval. I Am who I Am. But they need Me. That’s why those of You who know Me must tell the Truth about who I Am.” He held me in His eyes, a flame flickering in the depths igniting a fire in me as I gazed back at Him.

“What will be cancelled one day,” He looked at me with such severity that I trembled inside, “is the works and lies of the dark lord. The one who has deceived, convinced many of deceptions about me and my plans for humanity. This one will be cancelled. All his plans, his being. He will be cancelled indeed.” That flame burned in His eyes again, his face grim. I was afraid. And then He looked back to me and His face softened.

“Come. Let’s tell them the good news.” He reached for my hand and we walked together into the gathering dark.

~

[The problem with cancelling God, or anyone for that matter is the lack of attention to character. It’s a blind judging based on a knee jerk reaction to something that’s been said. Something that pushes a hot button. Rather than enter into rational dialogue, to reason together, to challenge thoughtfully and intelligently, the cancel button is pushed and the dialogue is over. The person and their unwelcome thoughts are out and society can go back to the comfortable, offended status, cancel button reset to trigger for the next person who trespasses on their ideology. Once hair trigger thinking becomes an ideology we’ve descended to mob mentality and the victims are those who espouse thoughts different from the mob. And the waves of this madness change from idea to idea in our ever changing culture. Perhaps cancel culture will cancel itself some day for being intolerant.]

I, The Well You Tend

Today, though I asked You to fill me

so I could pour you out to others,

You became glue, compound, to stop up the holes in me,

so You could pour in and keep me full.

“It’s not from your continued emptiness

that I flow,” You said.

“but from your top, your fulness that I spill

over.

There is no glory in you leaking,

your holes running you dry,

but only in my fulness making you whole.

Then I fill you brimful and your cup runs over.

There is beauty and life,” You said, with your

unexpected, compassionate smile.

Gentleman, no

I don’t think God is a gentleman.

They said at church

He stands at the door and knocks,

would never force his way in.

I only agree in part.

He doesn’t seem to hammer through

the front door,

but he might break your walls down.

I don’t think a gentleman

lets the devil have at you

bringing sores, sickness, fire and death

of all your progeny,

leaving you with just the cracked mind

of a grief shattered wife for company

and the questioning of ‘friends’ to be your solace.

I don’t think that when you rage at his unfairness

in your attempts at understanding

a gentleman would say

“Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge.

Now prepare yourself like a man;

I will question you, and you shall answer Me.”

and then literates the extensive details

of His creative force producing

the raging beauty of earth.

What is a gentleman anyway?

A privileged land-owning gentry

or a chivalrous, courteous one,

or both?

Top hat in place, gloved hand held out in deference

to you going first, manners indicative of his noble birth.

Does he sip tea with the ladies

proper and right after a gentle knock at the door and a gracious welcome?

I can’t accept this image as the depth of his gentle-man-ness

Mr. Lewis got it right when Beaver said

“Of course he isn’t safe, but he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.”

His gentleness

suffers long

as the lamb is slaughtered,

compacting the unsafe, fierceness of the lion into meek, red stained fleece,

the bleat silenced as the One who spoke the stars into being

constrains His strength

and dies, a gentle man.

Quotes:

Job 38:2-3 NKJV Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis