Daddys

It just so happens that Father’s Day marks three months since my last post. Interesting.

I love Father’s day. I always have. I’m sure my dad still has the barely readable (yet heartfelt) scribbled letters and tacky decorated cards to prove it. My heart sinks when I recall the goodness and faithfulness of my own father, knowing that the majority of girls walking this earth have no idea what it feels like to have a father (or any man, for that matter) who cares for and loves her. Women who are not valued for their femininity are shamed and exploited because of their femininity. And that is the most destructive weapon used to assault womanhood. And since women were created to be lovers and life-givers, herein lies the strategy of man and media to destroy life and love itself. I feel my blood boiling even as I think about it. But my anger is as dust in light of the wrath of God that will be unleashed and poured out on the final day. Every destructive word and exploitation (by man and woman) of His life-giving creation will be judged as it has judged, and thus condemned as it has condemned.

I don’t write this out of vengeance or anger, but in light of Father’s day, I’m pondering the weightiness of fatherhood… not the burden of it, but the weight of every father’s words and actions toward their daughters. I use the word “weight” because today I was confronted with mystery of identity. Little girls look to their fathers to tell them (and not only that, but to show them, to prove to them) who they really are. Girls get their very identity from their fathers.

I was listening to a music artist share this afternoon how he sings his 5-year-old daughter to sleep every night with the same tune:

You are so beautiful to me
You are so beautiful to me
Can’t you see
Your everything I hoped for
Your everything I need
You are so beautiful to me

Such joy and happiness you bring
Such joy and happiness you bring
Like a dream
A guiding light that shines in the night
Heavens gift to me
You are so beautiful to me

I once heard Ravi Zacharias say, “The world is an orphan in search of a Father”. Why? Because we only know who we are in light of the Father. And since He is Father, then we are His kids. And since He is the perfect Father, He sings and smiles over us with joy, just because we’re His kids. I thought about that today as I was watching a baby. He couldn’t even talk. He was just looking up to his daddy and making noises at him. Lately, I’ve been feeling like that. Like I just can’t put together the right sounds to make the right words to say the right prayers. All that comes out is nonsense. So it keeps me from talking to Father. But I was watching this baby coo at his daddy, and I thought… it doesn’t even matter what this baby is managing to eek out. The words are just noise. The father can see the child’s heart, and the heart is whispering, “I love you. And I like you. And I really like when you just hold me and look into my eyes”. And that’s enough for the father. He loves it, right?

I like how He can read my heart, even when I feel like a child that can’t communicate verbally.

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go for the pink cake!

The other night I was wrecked by the joy of being the Father’s child all over again. In the most unlikely of situations, I had a perfect example of what it’s really like to be a child of the King. And I just can’t keep it to myself. When I saw it, and realized its significance, I couldn’t help but smile… and keep smiling at the thought it represented!

I was at a women’s meeting and the room was unusually full. It was a special and rare occasion. It was complete with candles and silver utensils and white linen tables adorned with rather ‘dainty’ refreshments (you know, the girlie kind that you would never find at a men’s meeting). It was beautiful.

Everyone who attends church knows what its like to be at a prayer meeting… sometimes there are just awkward and quiet moments when you just wish someone would start praying just to break the silence. Just imagine the atmosphere, cuz its important to the story. So the prayer time continues on, with a reverent attitude of pleading before the King on behalf of our church women. All was still.

In walks a 3-year old little girl, unacquainted with the culture and rules of church prayer meetings. She is in no way from a prestiges background. In fact, they scrape to get by. I love watching her drift in the room! And yes, my eyes were open during prayer… but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post to be forthcoming. So the little girl walks in, and awed by the white linen adorned tables, is automatically drawn to see what they hold. As the prayer continues, so does her curiosity and awakened hunger. Then came the seemingly never-ending clanging of silverware against silver platters. She had obviously found some things she wanted to enjoy. I don’t know how long it took her to finally get everything on a little plate, but it was long enough for many of the women to open their eyes, look back, and find out what in the world was happening at the tables. Yes, it was distracting. Yes, it was annoying. Yes, it was never-ending clatter. But oh, it was so beautiful!

I watched as she took her tiny plate and sat down on the floor in front of the tables. Oops… forgot a fork. She hopped up to find one and then plopped back down on the floor next to her plate. Then she devoured a piece of pink cake with real strawberries in the pink icing. It was a little girls dream. I could tell that she was totally engrossed in her enjoyment of this delectable slice of yumminess. She was a happy little girl, as comfortable as could be.

Then it hit me! This is how the Father wants us to feel and act when we come to Him! He wants us to be so familiar with Him, so comfortable in His home, that we can come to the table He has set out just for us (which holds all the treasures of heaven!) and get what we want! Not just what we need, but what we want! Yummy looking pink cake! And just as I watched this little girl the other night and couldn’t stop smiling, I know the Father just gets tickled (the warm fuzzies… in a divine kind of way, ofcourse) when He sees us behaving like we really are His children and we really do belong at His table. It pleases Him to lavish us with gifts and blessings, it’s not something He does because He has to or out of obligation. He gives us gifts because it brings Him so much joy to see us happy!

I’ve rarely thought of God as a happy God. This is a new concept for me. It’s a concept I like to think about and work through. I mean, if I could feel so happy watching a 3-year old I barely know enjoy delicacies at a simple meeting… how much more deeply does the Father feel happiness when its His own children He watches enjoy the gifts He gave? So, what’s the point? Run to the table! Go for the pink cake! Enjoy every crumb!

Here’s a new picture… a happy Jesus!

Build Us Back

Know Hope Collective Artist Profile | Biography And Discography | NewReleaseTuesday.com.

The link above is to a short article I came across this morning. I try to keep up with new music (most of which I couldn’t care less about, even in the Christian arena). I’ll be honest and say… I’m not a fan of Audio Adrenaline. But even so, when I saw that the former lead singer of AA just returned from a “departure” of incredible brokenness, it sparked my interest. He lost his “trademark gravelly rock voice” and his 10 year-long marriage after so much “success”.

The theme of this new collective project? Hope in brokenness. Out of his broken vulnerability and transparency, God is using him to cultivate genuine community and authenticity in the Body. This is exactly what the broken Body needs, because there are more broken people experiencing unprecedented brokenness in this generation worldwide. I’m thrilled that God has given this broken man a ready stage to share the message of hope and restoration after the brokenness he’s experienced.

You can preview the album for free if you register with New Release Tuesday, which will keep you up on new Christian music weekly. I would encourage you to buy the album when it comes out, not just because its great music, but because the artist is doing something so out of the Christian cookie-cutter music box, and doing it very vulnerably.

I’m pretty taken with the song I heard today…

Know Hope Collective version of Build Us Back

We’ve been crumbled, we’ve been crushed
City walls have turned to dust
Broken hands and blistered feet
We walk for miles to find relief

When the thief takes
When our hopes cave
You build us back, you build us back
When the earth shakes
When the world breaks
You build us back, you build us back
You build us back, you build us back

We are scared and we are poor
All our safety nets are torn
We’ve been humbled to our knees
From these ruins, we bleed

When the thief takes
When our hopes cave
You build us back, you build us back
When the earth shakes
When the world breaks
You build us back, you build us back
You build us back, you build us back

Redeemer, redeem us!
Restorer, restore us! And build us back!
Though the mountains be shaken
The hills be removed
Your unfailing love remains!
To all that’s been taken, your promise still sacred!
Build us back with precious stones…

Love. is. all. that. matters.

Maybe I’m late to discover this song, but I did and it really touched my heart. Partly because it’s live and pretty much any song done acoustically captures my attention as if its speaking my first language. But also because it echoes the truth that continues to be nailed further and further into bedrock of my very soul. Namely, no matter what comes at me or how the waters rise, making me gasp for air… or how the flames inch nearer, melting off the outer shell of my skin… the only thing that really matters is His love. And really, that is enough.

Those aren’t trite words. They are words that can only be spoken by me through the hemorrhaging rawness of brokenness. And the path of brokenness leads to a fork in the road, so to speak. There are only two ways to go when you come up out of that valley. One is paved with hopelessness, self worship, bitterness, and absolute destruction. The other is paved with genuine peace that passes understanding, hope that endures what you think you could never deal with, and the priceless realization that God is nearer than ever before and holding you up in His gentle and strong arms of love that cannot fail… love that, when you find yourself gasping for air, death cannot drown the fire of His love for you.

Heart of clay in the Healer’s hand

Ever seen Inception? Well, I have. And honestly, I hated it. But at the insistence of many friends, I will give it another try. Anyhow, the only reason I mention this movie (not as an endorsement in the least, but simply as a reference point), is because I’m going to write about a dream I had. It was a dream about a girl who had a dream. And if you think that statement is hard to understand, try sitting through a movie that feels like reading a 2-hour run-on sentence of the previous sentence I just wrote.

So once upon a time… I dreamed of a girl who had an extraordinary dream. She didn’t tell me what happened before the dream. It was clear to me, however, that whatever it was… involved much trauma, fear, anxiety, and deep pain. So much, in fact, that the little girl told me she would have run anywhere or done anything to escape the trauma. Had she the tools and courage to do so, she would have taken her own life just so it would stop. It’s hard to relay this story, even in this blog, because I know that even as I type her anonymous story, there are thousands (perhaps millions) more traumatic experiences like hers happening at this very moment. They would do anything to escape.

In this dream of hers, she would have done anything to get away from the trauma. So she ran, as fast and as hard as she possibly could. As she ran, barely limping along, she left a trail of blood behind. She found herself running into the back door of an old house. It looked like no one was there, like it was a safe place to hide. So she pushed open the door and collapsed onto the dirty floor in her own blood. Emotionally, she fell apart. What now? Who to run to? Where to go?

Then, in her dream, she heard a soft gentle voice call, “Child.” To her amazement, she looked up and set her eyes upon a small framed man, one who didn’t look so scary. In fact, he looked a lot like the pictures of Jesus she had seen in Sunday school. There was something about Him that made her feel safe. She didn’t say a word. He called, even quieter this time, “Child, My child, come sit with me. Tell me about it.” Without even thinking, she pulled herself out of her own blood and up off the floor. She limped over to this unknown, yet gentle, man. She crawled up on the big comfy couch where He sat, reaching up for His outstretched hand. At the tender grasp of his hand, she knew it was safe. She snuggled into His lap as He slowly pulled her close to his breast. She could hear His heartbeat. It was beating just as fast as hers was. And as she heard the beats of His heart slowing to a gentler thump, she noticed her own breathing subsiding and her own heartbeat thumping in synchronization with his.

He whispered, “Child, tell me about it”. She whispered in response, “I can’t. I just know it hurts. It just hurts so much.” He held her safely as she poured out her heart with tears that words simply could not convey. He heard the meaning in her tears. And He understood. As her weeping slowed to a gentle whimper, He whispered into her ear with his hand tenderly holding the other side of her head, “Child, give me your heart”. And in child-like fashion, she did just that. Somehow, magically, she reached her tiny hand into her chest, trying to take hold of the bloody and bruised heart within. Touching her heart hurt even worse. But she pulled it out slowly and placed it in His hand held out in front of her. It oozed and dripped with bright red blood as it passed from her tiny hand to His… a hand that looked much like a carpenters hand she had seen before.

He looked down into her eyes, then lavished her with a gentle smile. He then fixed His gaze upon her tiny, barely beating heart held in His hand. It seemed to be falling apart in his hand. Still oozing with blood out of the cracked and broken places. His gaze fixed securely upon that tiny heart, and it being held securely in the grip of his hand, he then began to gently move his thumb along the flesh of the heart. He gently soothed over the broken places. To the little girl, it looked so much like a potter smoothing over a broken heart made of soft clay. She could clearly see his fingerprints on those formerly broken places. As she watched, and He watched, the pain was releasing its power over her and she realized that the tiny places that once gushed with bright red blood were now patched up and smoothed over. It was magical. And it was real. He stopped up the blood flowing from broken places. She continued to watch until his hand was covered in her blood, and her heart was held still and safely in his hand… beautiful, unbloody, clean, smooth, like a new heart with old scars. And then she felt a warmth as he gently placed that heart back into her chest where it once was. It didn’t hurt anymore.

He looked down at her, fixing his gaze into her eyes, and whispered, “Child, this is what I do. Come back to me, crawl up into my lap, and give me your heart the next time it hurts so much. Don’t run anywhere else. Run straight to me, and I promise to heal your painful wounds”.

That little girl, when she woke up, turned to me (who had been watching her sleep this whole time) and with a look of pure joy, whispered, “Rapha. Jehovah Rapha is the name of the man who I ran to. He’s safe. He’s good. He’s always waiting. And he heals my heart when it bleeds.”

And a little child will lead them.

Year’s End.

If your year has been anything remotely similar to mine (in thinking you might not make it through), then like me, you will be unable to sincerely pray this prayer without tears overflowing out of your brokenness. Taken from “The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions”… a book that, if I could afford it, I would give to all those I love. This past year when I’ve been speechless, not knowing what or even how to pray, the words in this prayer book have centered me and brought me back to truth, enabling me to pour out my heart to the One who created it. So, the prayer for the year’s end, of which I can formulate no better prayer to end this blessed yet twisting wilderness:

O Love beyond compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when the night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me during another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed Pilot of my future
as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes
to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always
for thy use.

It’s His birthday, not ours.

A few days ago I picked up a book called “The Papa Prayer”. I’ve kinda been avoiding it because of its popularity and fanaticism in Christian circles. And even thought I’m a rising fan of the author Larry Crabb, I’m just not a huge fan of what’s bigger, better, and popular stuff… especially when it comes to Christian bookstore paraphernalia (have you said your prayer of Jabez today?).

I’ve only read a few pages into the book, and I’m already hooked. Crabb is starkingly honest about the prayer struggle. He’s quite candid about the Christian use of prayer as a tool to use God for our own purposes and wishes. And honestly, I bet if all the prayers I’ve prayed since I was four had been recorded (well, they are in heaven, but that doesn’t do me much good right now for this magnitude of a project), there’s no doubt that my ‘wish list’ far outweighs His ‘praise list’.

So, in light of the season of celebrating the best Gift in all the history and future of the universe, I naturally want to give Him something special for His birthday. I saw on a friend’s facebook that they are ‘fasting’ from Facebook this Christmas week to focus on Him. I thought that was a neat idea. But it wasn’t really what I wanted to give Him. As soon as I read these pages in The Papa Prayer, I knew what I wanted to give Him.

This year in celebration of Jesus’ birthday, I want to give Him a week of not asking for anything. I just want to enjoy Him. Be with Him. Praise Him. Adore Him. Worship Him. It’s been less than 24 hours that I’ve decided this, and already I’m realizing how habitually demanding my prayer life has been. It shouldn’t be this hard not to ask Him for anything.

I have a feeling that this gift to Him will prove the statement, “It really is more blessed to give than to receive”.

WELCOME

Welcome to my new blog. I’m turning over a new leaf in a different country (the States) and figured this was an appropriate way to start over.

So welcome to my wanderings and ponderings.

Furious Love

Just started reading “The Furious Longing of God” by Brennan Manning (if you’ve never read any of his books, get your hands on them as fast as you can, it’s the real deal). He’s got me thinking about the love of God. And he’s got me wanting (well, more like starving) to come into a deeper understanding of His agape love.

I’m reminded of a past episodic experience of longing for more of His love. My thoughts on that experience are here

As tears fill my eyes and a chuckle fills my throat, I can’t deny that this is exactly what God has been doing in me this year. Painstakingly obvious. And here I am, with a little better understanding and sweeter taste lingering in my soul about what His agape love is all about. It means His unhindered and very real expressions of His tender affection toward me. His compassion [“com”= with / “passion”=suffer]… how He has suffered with me through the difficulties unparalleled to any other I’ve experienced. Yup. He has taken me much, much deeper into the ocean of His love… and the waves continue to crash upon me with His furious longing for me.

It’s like that time I was a little girl, playing naively in the waves of the ocean. I had yet to experience the furious power that carried those waves from the other side of the waters. I remember it so clearly… getting joyfully ready to ride the ginormous wave coming toward me, but my timing was a bit off. Next thing I know, I’m hurled down through the ocean by its forceful power and fury, doing unintentional summersaults beneath the wave. I didn’t know what hit me and I was in the current of its mercy. I can still close my eyes and see the murky waters filling my eyes and rushing into every orifice on my face. I honestly thought I was going to die. It was too strong; I was too weak. I fought as hard as I could to come up for air, but obviously the wave had me under its control. I finally got above water, spit all the h2o out of my mouth and nose, and took a giant breath of air… a breath I really didn’t think I’d be able to reach. Then I had a bit of a meltdown, clawed my way out of the murderous ocean, and safely sat on the sand.

Furious love. That’s the jealous love of God. If violence could have a positive connotation, I suppose that would be a great word to describe His love and affection toward me, and how He expresses it. He has been so faithful in caring tenderly for me while the forceful waves and storms of life pull me under. His waves of love are stronger. And I’m finding that not even the force of all that is against me can separate me from His tender affection for me. The fury of His “love” wave sweeps me up out of the current of that which is against me. And that love is the wave that carries me, somehow peacefully, above the turbulent waters sent to drown me.

I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor any powers [“beginnings, origin, cause”], not present circumstances nor impending circumstances [I am about to suffer by divine appointment], not height [“rampart, barrier, bulwark”] nor depth [“extremely deep; hidden things”], nor any created thing or person could ever separate [“divorce”] me from the agape love of God that is mine in Christ Jesus.

Nope. Nothing.
[Romans 8.38-39]

Hmm.

Hmmm… haven’t written in my blog for a while. Today isn’t the day either. One day soon I will try to formulate the thoughts and feelings untangling within me.

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