For a Moment

For a moment I am in this moment,
One moment following another and another moment.
Too many moments on my mind and I become stressed,
But with so many unknowns and so much to do, how can I rest?

In the noise of the day, He still calls me to come and be –
Here, in this moment, for a moment, to taste and see.
Not to worry about what has been or what will come,
But to rest and remember where my hope comes from.

Just.
Be.

Be still and be in His presence.
To be in awe of His love and omnipresence.
For though He is outside of time and I am bound by it for now,
He chooses to meet me here in this moment somehow.

With His grace that abounds, He covers me,
For this moment and all of my moments that will be.
And though my mind inevitably wanders and goes astray,
He doesn’t leave me but faithfully, He stays.

In this moment He tells me to just be still,
To listen attentively and learn of His will.
In my doubts He reassures me,
That He is sufficient and in Him I’m free.

And as one moment with Him turns to another,
My anxiety begins to lose its great, overwhelming power.
He reminds me that these moments will someday be a memory,
And I will be with Him for all of eternity.

All the moments of this life together do indeed overwhelm me,
But that is not all there is to this story.
This life shall last but for a moment and that moment is short,
But I will cherish it each day until He welcomes me to His courts.

Until that day, He is with me for this moment,
And for the next moment and every other moment.
Too many moments on my mind and I become stressed,
But by His grace and power, I can rest.


Listen to a spoken version below:

Words on Prayer

He beacons me to come to Him in prayer,
But so often I am lackadaisical.
Sometimes I’m tired and sometimes I just don’t feel Him near,
Sometimes I’m too paralyzed by my pride and my fear.

And what words can I bring and say to the Word?
Before I’ve spoken, He has already heard.
And He knows the true motivations of every thought,
Even the words that come from a place of spiritual rot.

Sometimes it seems I have too many,
And other times, I don’t have any.
Sometimes I mean them with all my being,
And other times they are just words my lips are speaking.

There are some words I can barely articulate,
They feel like a burden of crushing weight.
Others feel like I’m just saying what is expected,
Even though I feel quite disconnected.

But thank God almighty that He understands what He hears,
Even when I have nothing but uncontrollable tears.
He hears the words that my lips do carry,
As well as the ones I seek to hide and bury.

And if I’m honest, that gratitude is often combined with a bit of dread,
For He knows all I’ve said and all that I’ve left unsaid.
Yet somehow though He fully knows me, He still loves me.
And beacons me each day to taste and see.

He is patient and kind with me and my attempts at prayer,
My brokenness is never too much for Him to bear.
He is teaching me what it means to pray without ceasing,
As long as this heart in my chest keeps beating.

I do not know what to pray for as I ought to,
But the Spirit intercedes and follows through.
I am broken and I am weak,
But by the Spirit, still I shall speak.

Yours

I am Yours and You are mine,
And in all of my running I’m still in Love’s confine.

For where can I hide from Your sight?
Darkness to You is just more light.

To You I am fully known and fully seen,
And by the cross, You are making me clean.

Day by day You are teaching me,
To live for more than what I can see.

I’m a long way from done,
But the war was long ago won.

Sometimes I still try to put up a fight,
And I chase that glimmering pyrite.

Pride’s hunger is never satisfied, it tries to devour,
I cannot beat it by my semblance of power.

But You, Oh Lord, are good and strong,
You have been with me all along.

You made me daughter though I was a traitor,
For my sin was great but Your grace is greater.

I believe, help me in my unbelief, Lord!
And give me the strength to keep moving forward.

Help me follow You and Your pace,
Until that day I finally see You face to face.

Create In Me

Create in Me

In the beginning, God created and saw it was good,
Creating through His word, like only He could.
All of creation is testament to His artistry,
Even in the darkness, His creativity shines brilliantly.

He made everything from the magnificent starry night sky,
Where every massive star looks like a shiny pin way up high,
To the largest whale in the sea and the tiniest insect on the ground,
From every grain of sand to every molecular compound.

He formed the whole world and He formed me,
He knit me together in secrecy, carefully and intricately.
My frame was not hidden as He knit every organ and limb,
Even the number of hairs on my head is known to Him!

Even before I ever took a breath,
He knew me and saw my mortal days from birth to death,
He also sees me on that glorious day,
When all is made new and the old has passed away.

Sometimes I feel like a hopeless case,
And some days, even just a waste of breath and space.
But out of His grace and mercy, He still calls me His workmanship,
And beacons me to live with Him in relationship and fellowship.

And in this earthly life,
There will be pain and strife.
And even when the chaos of life refuses to cease,
He is working in the mess to make a masterpiece.

I am clay in the hands of the skillful Potter,
Being carefully molded as His beloved daughter.
He shapes this lump of clay not on some whim,
But rather with a plan, so that even dust may glorify Him.

Sometimes works in progress look like something gone awry,
But a caterpillar must first become a chrysalis to become a butterfly.
The most elaborate embroidery, pleasing to the eye,
Has a messy, tangled, abstract underside.

God was not and is not afraid of my life’s complexity,
What is overwhelming to me is still subject to His sovereignty.
My past, present, and future self are fully known and fully loved,
For He called me out of sin and shame, and calls me His beloved.

For all who are in Christ, a new creation has come-
Out of death, true life now flows from!
Not because of what I have done, but because of His grace,
I will not be abandoned nor sent to my deserved fate.

Oh Lord, create in me a clean heart!
Have mercy and remove my sins and spiritual rot.
Transform my crimson-stained attire,
And change my evil and selfish desires.

Oh Lord, You are the author of my story,
Let each word shout of Your great glory!
And help me to remember that what I now see,
Is merely a cropped image of what You are doing in me.

Oh Lord, weave together both the dark and light strands,
To create some beautiful tapestry, the work of Your hands.
Stitch me into your family of diverse believers,
Into a quilt more beautiful than myself or any individuals.

And when all I see is what I wish I could be,
Help me remember that You began a good work in me,
You will not abandon nor give up in frustration,
You entered my mess and will bring me to completion.

Lessons From Flowers

Lessons from Flowers

The flowers in the garden may be unable to speak audibly,
but they can teach us and remind us of so much visibly.
They speak through metaphors and brilliant imagery.

They all need sun and water to grow and survive,
But like us, only under certain conditions will they thrive.
There is more to life than being labeled as “alive.”

The first crocuses of early spring,
Tell of the promises that the season will bring.
Reminding us of the nows and not yets, promised by our King.

As the season marches on, flowers grow and reach towards the sun,
They remind us to set our gaze on God’s Son,
To grow in relationship with our Savior, the risen One.

Their mere existence on even cloudy and stormy days,
is a testament to the sun’s presence when we cannot see its rays.
And like the sun, hope remains when we cannot see it through life’s haze.

The flowers in a garden don’t all bloom concurrently,
They all grow but their times and rates of growth vary considerably.
But they don’t compare their speeds, or fret about the future wearily.

They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors,
But that diversity makes a garden full of beauty and wonders,
Reminding us to love and appreciate our different sisters and brothers.

Some flowers are deemed as nothing more than weeds,
But what is a weed to some is a treasure to others indeed.
A reminder that a little perspective is something we all need.

The lilies of the field neither toil nor spin,
Yet God adorns them, reminding us to not be anxious within.
We can trust Him who is, will be, and always has been.

And as the grass withers and flowers fade,
Our earthly bodies will die and decay.
So let us be thankful and content today.

 

Eggshells on the Shores of Grace

Eggshells on the Shores of Grace

This is an attempt to explain my testimony.
But these words are ultimately not about me; they are about Him.

“God is love” or so I sang, with an on the spot melody.
Not a care in the world but attracted to the Light that loved me.
A faith so strong, a mind so sure.

But cares came quickly, and I started to flee from the Light.
Trying to run from disapproving glares, only to run into snares.
I took my eyes off of Truth and stared at the waves I created instead.

Unintentional middle fingers and petty thievery,
Webs of lies and never satisfied jealousy,
I was only a child but able to feel condemnation upon me.

Reading words that felt like a heavy burden,
I cried myself to sleep believing I surely blew it.
Fear spread through me like an uncontrolled tumor.

I was only in the single digits, but definitely double-minded.
Unstable in all things, I was the storm and the storm was in me,
Seemingly ripped in two, torn between God and this world.

Still, a part of me kept hoping for redemption,
Believing that God’s grace might indeed be for me.
This hope was a flicker of light in the darkness of night.

That fire, though dim, stayed lit through all these years,
Long smoldering coals, never fully extinguished,
A testament to His great grace and mercy.

But my soul seemed legally blind to the grace being offered,
Able to sense light’s presence but not see what it illuminated.
Pride held me like an abusive lover, and I held it closer.

In Sunday school, I became well versed in basic knowledge,
Like one who has read about and studied the ocean,
But never been in the actual water.

Day by day, clearly definable wrongdoings matured,
Becoming more and more covert, yet with a stronger hold.
Pride was my ultimate hunger, fuel, and ulterior motive.

And in that pride, I played a warped version of a favorite childhood game,
Except instead of pretending to be a princess, I pretended to be okay.
I managed to fool some, and even myself for a time.

The masks of this twisted dress up game became thick and elaborate,
Seeming to ever widen the distance between the Creator and me.
My anxieties grew exponentially, and rest completely evaded me.

And as the years went by,
I found myself walking on eggshells
When He had called me to walk on the water.

I couldn’t fully believe that God could love me,
Every step closer to the water made me tremble with fear,
I felt I was drowning with my feet firmly in the sand.

So I tiptoed along the shores of grace,
All while carrying heavy burdens that
I was never meant to carry.

I kept pursuing the world’s glimmering pyrite,
Plenty of ‘good’ things, but never the Best thing.
But all chase and no rest left me weary and stressed.

Every day felt like more than I could bear,
But even in the darkest darkness, He was there,
He sustained me even when I couldn’t see Him.

Never once did He stop pursing me,
The Light kept calling my name in that darkness,
Through songs, sermons, and studies.

He is the hero of this story, and not me,
He gave me more than I could handle so that
He could give me more of Him.

He took that spirit of fear that paralyzed me,
He gives me His spirit to replace it.
And He is faithful when I stumble and falter.

My sin was great but He is greater,
My guilt was strong but He is stronger,
And I am His both now and forever.

When troubles and doubts come to harass me,
And the fears once again charge against me,
He is my rock, my refuge, my protector.

He began a good work in me,
And He will be faithful to complete it,
For He lives in me and I am hidden in Him.

And in His goodness, He beacons me each and every morning,
To leave these eggshells on the shore and join Him on the sea.
And by His grace alone, I can do that indeed.

New Mercies For New Years & New Days

New Mercy (1)

I almost always get in a really weird, not particularly good mood on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s like regrets from the year coming to a rapid close and fears about the future are combined with a bunch of sentimental crap, making a poisonous concoction. It’s isn’t exactly deadly, but it certainly is sickening.

I also get annoyed by all the fanfare. Maybe I’m just a New Year’s Scrooge, but I can’t help it. People are celebrating all things new when really the only thing new is the year listed on the calendar. And so what? The numbering of years is just an earthy construct used to organize the passing of time. It’s useful, but not exactly earth-shattering. People make ambitious resolutions (and I have too), knowing full well that they will probably fail within the first month. These resolutions are usually good things – like eating healthy, reading the Bible daily, or exercising more – but rarely does one actually succeed in a resolution without falling at least a little. People shout “new year, new me!” as if they didn’t say the same exact cliché last year, only to be stuck in their same old ways by February.

As Christians, we can celebrate true newness every single day – not just one day a year. And this newness isn’t like the newness that the world parades with. The newness that the world offers is really just a mask on the same old deadness inside. The newness that God offers reaches to the deepest darkest places in our souls. It brings what is dead back to life and replaces cold, hard hearts.

As this year comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about one particular passage of scripture: Lamentations 3:22-24. Read it once, and read it again.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”

(Lamentations 3:22-24, ESV)

Did you catch that? His mercies are new every morning. Not just the day you first believed. Not just the moment you first trusted Jesus. Every morning. Every single day. His faithfulness doesn’t end. For every morning we wake, His mercies for us are new.

Of course, it doesn’t always feel that way. More often than not, our hearts and minds are flooded with worries, doubts, pain, and the weight of yesterday as soon as the alarm sounds and our eyes open. Mornings are filled with dread and not celebration. In these groggy moments, it is so easy to lose sight of truth. Just like our eyes struggle to adjust to the bright light of day after hours of darkness, our minds struggle to focus on the Light of Christ after hours of sleep. These early morning moments can easily define the rest of our day – at least, they tend to do so for me. Most mornings I struggle to get up – fighting anxiety about the past and the future, doubts, guilt, and just sheer exhaustion.

Whatever I’m feeling though, that doesn’t make truth any less true. The truth is that God is faithful and His mercies are continually new. I don’t have to carry the weight of yesterday’s shame, failures, and struggles, nor do I have to carry the worries of tomorrow. For the past few weeks, my nightly prayer as been “God, help me remember your mercies when I wake.” God is faithful. He has reminded me of them. It makes me almost teary eyed to think of it. Mornings still feel like a struggle. I have to wrestle with the thoughts that flood to my mind. It’s a battle and I don’t always win. Still – God is faithful. His mercies are continually renewed. They were new today, on the last day of 2018. They will be new tomorrow, as 2019 dawns. They will always be new. And thanks be to God.

Digging a Deeper Hole

Digging a Deeper Hole

Last night, someone lost control of his truck, hit (and broke) the curb on one end of my family’s property, ripped a street sign out of the ground, knocked out a mailbox, spun back into the road and ended up in a large shrubbery on the other end of the property, with one of the back wheels thrown several yards away. After hearing the thuds and burning rubber, I looked out my window to see the driver frantically trying to drive out of the bush and the hole he was in. He kept pressing down on the gas multiple times. The engine revved up and dirt flew into the sky. His efforts to drive away only deepened the hole that his remaining back wheel was in. He dug himself into a deeper hole.

When he realized that there was no hope of driving out of this predicament, he ran away on foot, thus digging himself into an even deeper hole, this time with the law. He ran fast and managed to get quite far away, but he was no match for a K-9 unit hot in pursuit of his scent. Fleeing the scene of a crime and trying to hide only adds another charge against him. He dug himself into a deeper legal hole.

Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. This story could have had many other horrific endings for the driver, other drivers, my family or the neighbor’s family. We are very thankful about that.

Once the tow truck finally got the truck out of the shrubbery and the police left, a humbling thought came to me. How many times am I like the driver? How many times to I find myself in some sort of struggle or sin and keep frantically trying the same thing over and over again trying to escape? How many times do I try to “pull myself up by my own bootstraps?” How many times do I reply on my sheer willpower? And when I finally give up trying and trying and trying to fix the problem myself, how often do I run away? How often do I try to hide from all the shame? How many times do I dig myself into deeper holes?

The answer: more times than I’d care to admit. My tenancies are exactly like those of this driver. I try to fix my problems myself and when I finally give up on that, I try to run.

Sure, sometimes I try good deeds. But those deeds are often ruined by the stench of ulterior motives. Sometimes I try to just ignore the problem. But my mind always returns to it like a dog to its own vomit. Sometimes I try to rationalize and say my sin isn’t so bad. But the truth is that my hands are covered in blood and nothing I can do will wash me clean.

No matter how much work I do or willpower I have, I cannot overcome my sin. It is too strong and too powerful a foe. It is deeply ingrained in me. Sure, I can run, but my weary legs will only take me so far. My only hope is surrendering to God and believing in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

(1 John 5:4)

Of course, surrender isn’t easy. Even though I know that God knows all, it’s hard for me to admit things to Him and to just sit in His presence. It’s even harder to follow Him when He leads to tough conversations and situations. It’s also hard to admit my struggles with anyone around me, even those who seemingly want to help me. That has been especially evident the past few weeks. I know I’m not meant to carry my struggles alone but more times than not, I try to.

I keep digging myself into deeper holes of guilt, shame, fear, pain, and sin.

Thankfully, God didn’t and doesn’t and will not leave me in a hole. He doesn’t come after me in order to punish me but rather to rescue me. He takes my grimy rags and gives me new clothes. He works in me. He sanctifies me. He is patient with me. He lavishes me with His incredible love. And He is faithful to me.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

(Philippians 1:6)

My tenancy may be to dig myself into deeper holes, but thanks be to God, that is not the entire story.

Life is Not a Masquerade

Life is not a masquerade.
Life is not a masquerade.
It may be fun to go to the ball,
But it isn’t where real life happens.
A dressed up skeleton is still lifeless,
A decorated corpse is still hopeless.

We spend hours crafting our image for others to see,
Hoping words of admiration and approval
will satisfy the darkness gnawing deep inside.
Smile for the camera, boast of successes,
We bury the brokenness only to find we are digging our grave.

We paint on a mask at such an early age,
And curtail it to match what we perceive others desire.
When one version no longer suits us,
we add another layer. The mask grows thicker,
And day by day, our hearts also become harder.

We do it so well we don’t always realize we are doing it at all,
Masters of individual PR, masters of deception.
Wearing a mask daily, letting it become our identity.
With each layer, with each empty word,
We only dig our graves deeper.

It may be what we do, but it’s not what we were made to do.
Life was not given just to be lived under a disguise,
Nor our energy be exhausted to keep up an image.
Life sometimes beats us up all black and blue,
But in the scars and bruises, the light can seep through.

Life does not have to be a masquerade.
A masquerade is not where real life happens.
Real life is messy, complicated, and sometimes painful.
But it is only when the masks are taken off,
That the darkness within can see the light.

Live authentically - only then can the darkness see the light..png