Author Archives: karabethcole

About karabethcole

I was born and raised in Springdale, Arkansas where I still live with my husband Adam. We have been married since October 2002 and are currently living life a little radically. Occasionally out of the country, occasionally in, we are following God where ever He might lead. I am a cancer survivor and have also lost my first born son to SIDS. I bear my heart and soul so that others can receive the same Healing I have.....

The Unlimited Second Chance

Standard

When Mike, our pastor, first asked me to speak this past Sunday he let me know the sermon series I would be kicking off was called People Of The Second Chance.  So me being the Step 1 2 3 type person immediately started racking my brain for stories in the bible of second chances, people who got to try again….”I’ll research different stories about second chances, tell my favorite, lay out a ‘so many steps’ sermon, close in prayer then head to lunch with the fam, done.” But as the days ticked by and I kept drawing a blank, hitting some major writers block, I started getting more and more nervous (side note: every time I have been asked to speak God has been faithful to keep me completely in the dark until just a few days before the event as a means of keeping me reliant on the Holy Spirit, why I allow myself to become anxious each time is a testament to our crazy human tendency to doubt and partner with fear, utterly ridiculous, I know).

And so the Wednesday before I am to speak I went to bed once again feeling nervous that I still didn’t have a clear cut message and fell asleep asking for His words.  After a restless attempt at sleeping I finally gave up at 3am and popped my eyes wide open, listening to the quiet creaking of our little old house and the not so quiet snoring of Adam and our dog I suddenly heard God whisper “Who told you I number your chances?’…..

“Uhhh, well, it’s called a SECOND chance so that would imply someone is keeping track.” (I tend to be a little testy at 3am)

“Oh sure, PEOPLE keep track, but when have my ways ever been yours?”

And from there we dove right in……..

You see as people, humans, we are consumed with our sin.  We’re either committing it, trying not to commit it, regretting that we committed it, asking forgiveness for committing it, not caring that we committed it, proud that we didn’t commit it or getting our dander up when others commit it.  We are the ones constantly placing sin in front of us, focusing on it as something that needs to be fixed, gotten rid of, but in focusing on the sin we’ve lost sight of the real problem.  We’re zeroed in on the symptoms, trying to cure them when we’ve lost sight of the disease, the root issue, what’s in the heart.  You see our thoughts and actions come from the overflow of the heart.

It’s like being a star track athlete, primed and ready for the big race called life.  But just as you’re about to approach the starting line you trip over something you never even saw and as you fall your leg is twisted at an impossible angle, your bone snaps and you fall to the ground.  Instead of acknowledging the injury you drag yourself to the starting line and in great pain you manage to get into starting position next to the other runners.  But when the gun fires instead of sprinting forward with speed your leg gives way and you crumple to the ground in agony.  As you sit up you cry out to God “Why can’t I run, I gave it my all?! Give me another chance, I swear I can do it this time.” And crawling back to the starting line you prepare for the next heat to start, with great determination you wait for the gun to fire and upon hearing it you give all you have to spring off the line.  Only the same thing happens again, face down on the ground you find yourself a hot mess just a few inches from the start.  In tears you cry out “Why God?! Why did I fail again? I gave it all I had but give me another chance, just one more, I know I can do it this time.” And all the while God is saying “You can’t change the outcome until you acknowledge the problem, you can’t run on a broken leg no matter how many chances I give you.”

And as we’re beating our selves up trying to run the race we’re keeping track of all our “second chances”.  Each time we ask for another chance we live in fear that we’ve already used our chances up.  Chances that we invented because we as humans operate our relationships on a contract basis.  Each time we enter into a new relationship we draw up a silent contract with that person that says “If you act like this, I’ll react like this.  If you do this, I’ll do this in return.  But if you do this, this, or this then I’m out, our contract will be voided and our relationship will end.” Both parties agree and we go about our lives with our mutual understanding.  And when we let this contract mindset bleed into our concept of God we assume there’s really only so much God will take, only so many ounces of forgiveness He’ll dole out before we’ve gone too far, done too much or not done enough.  Oh doesn’t the enemy love to keep us thinking that God still operates under a contract basis, that the old law wasn’t abolished…..

The old way was the Law, the contract God had with His people.  And while the Law was good and holy the enemy quickly realized it could be used for his purposes too.  “So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me.  But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good” (Romans 7:10-12)  So while God set up His law to protect the ones He loves the enemy was using all the rules and regulations to shackle God’s people to their sin and brokenness.  So God set about to change things, to fill the demands of His law once and for all.  There had to be a sacrifice, the wage of sin is death.  And so God sent His son, our Holy Redeemer.  When Jesus hung on the cross it was for every sin that every person who was living and ever will live would commit throughout their entire life.  Can we even comprehend that?  EVERY sin, from the tiny white lie told by Jane Doe today at 9:36am to the brutal murders that will be committed by John Smith in the very distant future.  When Jesus’ blood was shed it covered it all, it filled every contractual obligation and set it afire.  It did away with the “second chance”, it abolished the counting system all together because even the sins you haven’t committed yet are already forgiven and covered in His holy blood.  “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4)  When He died we were released from The Law and placed under His covenant, and while a contract is a list of Do’s and Don’ts a covenant says Forever, it says no matter what you do, what you say, think, or feel you are mine for all eternity.  He took away The Law and gave us Freedom. ”

So what does a life free to do whatever we wish look like?  Why should we even care if we sin if it’s already forgiven and covered in Jesus blood?

Let me stress again that it’s not about the sin, the action, the behavior….it’s about the relationship.  When Jesus left this earth He traded places with someone else, He sent the Holy Spirit in His place to reside in each and every one of us.  As I spend more and more time in God’s presence, talk with Him and catch little glimpses of who He is our relationship becomes more and more intimate, the Holy Spirit fills my soul and heals my heart so that I am being changed more and more into His likeness.  As my heart and mind are filled with heaping doses of who He is the “temptations” of this world begin to lose their shininess.  Oh they will always be there, always tempting, but their lies become more easily recognized as God’s truths grow deeper roots in my soul.  And there’s the truth that we are set free, terribly and wonderfully free, free to make mistakes, big mistakes and free to come crawling back under that beautifully quilted covering of His covenant, free to accept the forgiveness that’s already been given, that undeserved, mind boggling thing called Grace.

Back Away From The Tools

Standard

        I recently started doing an early morning online bible study with a group of girls and have been loving it.  Usually the first thing I do when my alarm goes off is check emails, scroll through Instagram and browse Facebook, then hop out of bed and hope I get a few minutes during afternoon naps to squeeze in a little quiet time.  However, one of the girls in my study suggested getting up early and doing the study in the quiet, early morning hours, letting God gently speak to me before the world (or social media) gets to scream at me the rest of the day.  That simple suggestion has been priceless.  Even though my alarm is set for WAY earlier than it used to be I have been stepping into each day feeling refreshed, covered in the Holy Spirit and cloaked in peace.

I have to admit that the past 10 months I have been fully immersed in “mommy world”, living and breathing Nora’s every second of existence.  Losing Noble has given me a different perspective you might say.  It taught me to cherish, to fully embrace in a way I fear I never would have had I not lost him.  Even in those early morning hours, when she is fighting sleep, screaming at the top of her lungs and just being a little turd (excuse the frankness) I find myself singing praises over her.  Cheesy sounding, I know, but it’s the truth and I won’t apologize for the ten thousand pictures I take of her or for the sappy, sentimental mush she has turned me into!

But even as I have relished these moments I have also felt my soul missing those plentiful, intimate times with God.  I let the physical and emotional demands of motherhood take first place for a while, but now it’s time to enter back in to that intimacy.  It’s been a snug winter of cuddling by the fire, growing as a family and learning how to exist as three….but now it’s Spring time in my heart, I’m ready to throw open the windows and let the Holy Spirit blow into my dwelling, plant seedlings in the soil of my soul and feel the Son’s glory on my face.  And so after a long hiatus I am writing again…….

Recently, my morning study was on a short passage in Luke 1.  Mary has just been visited by Gabriel who told her she was going to have a baby (only God’s son, no big deal) while her friend Elizabeth, who had been barren for all her life and was pretty old, I might add, had found favor in the Lord’s sight and become pregnant. Gabriel told Mary this as well and so Mary traveled to Judea to visit her.  As Mary entered her home Elizabeth became filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed in a loud voice “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

I was struck by how uplifting and encouraging she was, she jumped right in to praising Mary’s faith and trust in God, in His plan.  I immediately saw myself in her place, here comes my teenage friend and tells me the same doozy of a story and because God’s favor is all over her I believe her but I could hear my prayer over her echoing in my heart….”Oh Lord please protect her cause the peeps in our village are gonna eat her for lunch. Give her strength because this is gonna be real hard. And please dont let that man of her’s run off, help him believe her story and stick with her…etc”.  Praying over her as a friend but allowing my own fear and brokenness to seep into my prayer over her, immediately seeing the worst possible outcome in the situation and then spewing out all that negativity under the guise of prayer.  Saying with my mouth that I believe God, believe in His goodness, in His power, but all the while thinking in my head “Oh boy, this could go South real fast”.  Elizabeth didnt see any of the possible ugliness in Mary’s situation, or maybe she did and just refused to acknowledge it.  Either way I was convicted by her perspective….and that’s when God started speaking….

“There are casualties in every war, whether they are murdered by the enemy or simply left behind in the fight to survive.  In the battle for your heart the casualties are emotional, huge sections of your soul can be lobed off with one blow and in the fray and confusion of the fight you patch up those wounds with false perspectives.  You were hit hard and heavy and the casualty was your innocence.  You learned the ugliness this world can hold, your heart beheld the darkness and that view was a crushing blow. In that moment of life and death there was no time to properly heal the wound of lost innocence.  I held you, I cried with you, I held my hand over the gaping wounds and kept you alive.  But now there is time, that battle is over, it’s time to rebuild, restore, replant.  I am the author of life and just as I resurrected my Son from the dead I am raising your innocence from the grave.  So set down your tools…..”

And I saw a vision of who I had become.  Kara, The Expert In Storm Preparation.  I was forever standing on the cliffs of the sea, scanning the horizon for approaching storms and upon spotting clouds I would immediately put my analytical hat on and begin to assess just exactly how bad the storm could get.  And once I had all the angle’s analyzed I would race to my tool shed and begin pulling out all the tools needed to survive the worst.  Boards to cover delicate glass windows, check, nails for securing costly items, check, blankets to wrap precious heirlooms, check.  As I’m working away to preparing my little dwelling I’m praying “I love you Lord, I know you will shelter me and protect me, I trust in your plan for my life and know you will carry me through any storm.”  Just a busy little beaver who is blind to the fact that God is standing right next to me saying “Hey there crazy lady, I got this, that storm isnt even gonna hit land.  Seriously, I AM protecting you. Hey, stop boarding up your house, I’m gonna blow this thing out before it can even get started! Don’t you pick up that hammer, it’s just gonna be wasted energy…..Hello?!”  And what do ya know, the storm blows over, I pull the nails out of my front door, walk outside to blue skies, praise the Lord for His protection and then have the nerve to ask for renewed energy because that little whirlwind of activity just exhausted me!  And “Oh yeah God, what was that you were trying to tell me?  I couldn’t hear you over all that hammering I was doing.”

But God isn’t calling me to be an expert at storm prep, it is my lost innocence that causes me to see the storms in the first place.  I was never meant to be a horizon scanner or to have a tool shed full of hardship tools.  God is the one who scans the horizon for me, He is the only one who can forecast what is to come.  The ONLY tool I need is my relationship with Him, it is through this relationship that I survive and not by anything I can wield with my human strength, perspective or understand.  It is through the death of His Son that I can live this life without fear, dancing in the rain in purest freedom with no thoughts of an approaching hurricane.

So here I am, innocence being restored, learning how to dance again, laughing at the downpour with hands outstretched to catch the drops…..with a daughter in my arms.

The Knowing

Standard

Lately I have been inundated with friends and family experiencing the ugliness of cancer.  It breaks my heart to know the suffering and see in their eyes the fear and pain.  I remember the morning after Adam shaved my head, waking up and feeling so much pain in every fiber of my body, reaching up to run my hand over my newly bald head.  I was so desperately thin, my skin so ashen, I looked in the mirror and saw hollow eyes staring back and heard my thoughts echoing “I am covered in death”.  But here’s the kicker, despite the suffering, despite the pain and endless days of IV’s and blood transfusions there are still mornings when I wake up and wish to be back there again.  Psalms 34:18 says “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  In those days of physically consuming sickness my heart and soul were consumed with the Spirit.  His presence was a tangible thickness around me.  Like standing in an early morning fog, I could breathe it in and feel it fill my lungs, see it clouding my vision.  I would raise my hands in worship and feel a peace overwhelm me, a peace deeper and more refreshing than any glacier lake.  There was a Joy more akin to elation when I would read His word and speak His name.  His Spirit was at work in me but in His own way.  I started out asking for physical healing, only seeing the sickness of body, only feeling the brokeness of flesh and bone.  But the more I pleaded for healing the more sick my body became, violently rejecting the various treatments and medications.  That was my physical world, but honestly the sickness and suffering seemed more like a dream world some days because the work the Spirit was doing on my heart and soul was so overwhelming.  As my physical body was breaking down my spirit was being built up, healed and renewed when I hadn’t even realized it was broken to begin with.

You see, that day I looked in the mirror and saw my body covered in death the Lord was quick to answer back and say “I will give you beauty for ashes”.  So I looked that phrase up and found Isaiah 61:3 “…to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

Turns out my body wasnt the only thing in ashes, my heart was pretty ugly too.  I was an embittered, broken, shell of a woman, using my emotions and physical appearance to manipulate people around me.  All the while popping pills and smoking cigarettes to ease constant anxiety attacks and blaming my rage filled outbursts and conniving ways on anyone but myself.  It was not a pretty picture, but while I’m not proud of who I was I refuse to hide my past either.  2 Corinthians 11:30 says “If I must boast, I will boast all the more of the things that show my weakness.”  I will shout from the rooftops how ugly and broken I was as a testament to God’s infinite love.  I am a living, breathing example of His mercy and tenderness.  That He would reach for me, cry with me, gently point out my gaping wounds and patiently begin to heal me.  He would take my ashes and give me beauty.  The beauty of mercy, of His Spirit within me, of priceless renewal and the gift of an intimate relationship.  He removed my spirit of despair, my sackcloth of mourning and clothed me in a dress of praise, anointed me with His oil of Joy.  In the blinding light of these transformations my physical health suddenly didn’t matter any more, as long as God’s Spirit continued to pour out over me.  It was that release, that surrender that brought about my healing.  One night as I lay in my hospital bed, monitors beeping and medicine being pumped into my veins in a desperate attempt to save me I told God……”I’m done.  I know with every fiber of my being that you can heal me but if that’s not your plan I’m ok with that, but either heal me or take me home because my body can’t take any more. I don’t want to do this any more.”

It was the most at peace I have ever been, to be totally surrendered to God’s plan, whether that meant life or death…….

  As you can see His plan for me was a miraculous healing, more life to live.  But a real life this time, a life where my idea of who I am as a woman, as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, as flesh and blood, soul and spirit is all defined by my relationship with HIM, our divine romance.  Every breath I take, every minute of my existence is operated out of the overflow of His Spirit within me.  And in His unending mercy He continues to heal me and forgive me of my human tendencies and mistakes, gently tugging at my sleeve and prodding me to change my ways daily.

So whether you’re battling cancer right now or just battling life, can you take a step back?  Take your focus off the storm and zero in on God.  He is desperate to work a miracle for you but more than that He is desperate for you to know Him, not just know about Him.  I can not express, in any language, how overwhelming and priceless the knowing is.

“But now, this is what the Lord says, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…..”

Those Who Dream……

Standard

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed.  Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalms 126

And so here I sit, here I am, this is me, a captive brought back to Zion.  For years Adam and I have treaded water together, weathering blow after blow from this world.  For so long I have felt captive to grief, captive to sadness, captive to hardship, ever struggling against their bonds, wincing at the chaffing on my heart as if all these feelings had a manacle clasped around it.  And all the while praying, praying, praying for release.  Rejoicing at baby steps towards freedom and wondering when I would fully spread my wings, finally be able to stretch them without bumping against the walls of my cage.

You see, without even realizing it I had once again placed God in a box.  Asking for healing, asking for freedom but seeing it as a 1 2 3 process.  1.) Ask for freedom…. 2.)Gain said freedom….. 3.)Move on with life….  But oh how God laughs at our feeble little plans, our misguided understanding, our inability to grasp even the simplest of His concepts.  How He rejoices in blowing our minds and setting us free.

I could never fathom that having another child would ultimately bring about the very healing I was desperately seeking.  That I was the one actually locking myself in that cage, refusing to let myself move forward until I had crossed certain milestones.  Milestones that God hadn’t even set up, checkpoints that I had designated for my journey towards healing.

So let me make a little confession, draw you a little picture….I am forever the person standing on the edge, toeing the line, looking down the cliff to the water below but never actual able to make myself jump.  But because God has a sense of humor (Oh yeah, and because He loves me) He is forever the person standing behind me, letting me think about it for a while, waiting for just a bit to see if I’ll make the leap on my own, and when, once again, I start to shimmy back from the edge He rolls His eyes and gives me a good healthy shove.  And before you think me better than I am, I am screaming and kicking the whole way down, you might even say cursing, hitting the water in a dander ruffled, angry sort of way.  But when I finally  come up for air, break the surface of the water and take stock of all my non-existent injuries and look around me I realize, again, the utter stupidity of myself.  How silly and narrow-minded I can be, asking God for healing but setting up a “so many steps” plan for Him to follow.  I am sitting here laughing, looking back at that first post I made after I found out I was pregnant again, sounds an awful lot like a dander ruffled, angry kind of person who just got shoved off a cliff!

But how could I know?  How could I fathom that kissing Nora’s warm sleepy forehead would soothe the memory of kissing Noble’s cold one?  That the Joy of celebrating her 4 month birthday would ease the pain of wondering what he would look like today.  That every time I see her I am overcome with thanksgiving and want to dance over her with shouts of praise.  That her very existence lifts my eyes towards eternity.  Refusing to live a life of fear while raising her is the ultimate healing process.  I remember following the story of Hannah while I was pregnant with Noble, working to ultimately release my hold over him and fully accept the concept that he was not actually my child but God’s.  The second time around is no easier.  Having experienced that loss I fully understand the weight of what I’m asking my heart to accept, that as I’m challenging myself with this acceptance the enemy is taunting me with the remembered torture of heavy grief.  But the simple fact is he will never win as long as I refuse to sink into the trap of fear.  I will rejoice over every day that I have her and find peace in knowing that my God is big enough to heal me again should I find myself without again.

And so truly we are like captives brought back to Zion, like ones who dream, can this be real life?  He is restoring our fortunes by restoring our hearts, setting our captive souls free, laughing and rejoicing with us as we dance and sing our thanksgiving before Him.  We have 3 children now, one here with us and two waiting for us when we finally come home, we are blessed beyond measure.

Desperate Times

Standard

She’s here, she’s finally here.  How long has my very inmost being cried out for my child and now I can touch her face, kiss her lips and love her with a fierceness that was born ages ago.  The Joy is like an under ground stream, bubbling up to the surface and quenching what was once dry.  She is our blessing, our perfect portion, our Joyful gift.

And as I was sitting one Sunday listening to a teaching on Hannah the Lord began to speak to me about the journey my heart and soul have been taken on to get to this point……

1 Samuel 1:5 “But to Hannah Elkanah gave a double portion because he loved her and the Lord had closed her womb.”

Now I’ve wondered over that verse before so it really grabbed my attention when the pastor asked “Why would God allow Elkanah’s hateful wife to have children but close the womb of a woman with the heart to be an amazing mother?”

Because deep calls unto deep.  Sometimes we hurt so we can reach our true greatness in God.  Hannah wanted a son and year after year she traveled to Shiloh with her husband to worship the Lord and to cry out for her son.  But each year that went by with no son caused Hannah to grieve and weep bitterly, all while she was provoked and tormented by Elkanah’s other wife.  But as Hannah’s grief was mounting something else was growing, a desperateness.  God called her out to be desperate, desperate enough for God, for more of Him.  You see, there is a fine tuned frequency we reach in God when we become desperate.  His heart is pricked by this desperate frequency and drawn down to it.

1 Samuel 1:10-14 “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’ As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.  Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.’ “

Hannah had reached her desperate place, so much so that she cried out all her tears and lost her voice.  In desperateness she continued to pray and search out God in her Spirit, beseeching Him with such passion and angst that she appeared drunk.  And while her voice was silent her Spirit cried out “I need a son!”  And God finally answered quietly “I need a prophet.”  And Hannah cried out louder “I NEED A SON!” and God replied “I need a prophet.  You need a blessing and I need someone to save my nation.”

And so while Hannah’s years of hurt and strife were driving her to her blessing and her destiny it was also bringing about an appointed time.  God answered her cry and gave her a son, Samuel.  Her son was born at an exact time when God’s people were in dire need of a prophet.  God called a woman out of a nobody house, caused her heart’s desire to drive her to His heart until they were in perfect alignment.  Hannah got her son, God got His prophet, and a nation was changed.

So here I sit, looking back over so many years of hurt and strife, years of desperateness.  Spans of time where I pricked the heart of God and He came down to me.  We spent precious time in each other’s company where I learned not just my heart but of His heart too.  We spent time in intimacy that can never have a value placed on it.  I am able to be Nora’s mother now because I spent those years yearning for her and experiencing God’s heart changing comfort and love.

Nora was born into an appointed time, His time and no one else’s.  And just like her mother, there are desire’s in her heart that once called out by the One and brought into alignment with Him, have the power to change a nation, even the world.

1 Samuel 4:1 “And Samuel’s word came to all of Israel.” 

Redemption’s Daughter

Standard

Today is February 9th, the day Noble went home.  I wonder at the sights his eyes have seen these past two years, I can only imagine and be jealous of the pure majesty he is dwelling in….

 Losing a child is a wound of vast intricacy, calling it a “wound” is even too simple.  It is something that infiltrates your whole being, your entire make up, it permanently alters every fiber.  The sheer magnitude of tackling something like that overwhelms my teeny brain and speaks to my soul of the perfectly vast love my God has for me.  That He would patiently and passionately meet this wound face to face every day, lovingly working to forever leave me better than before, more whole than I can speak of, a testament to this world that His glory is beyond comparison and His banner over us is always love, Jehovah Nissi.

I was reading through my journal this morning and decided to share this entry from a couple of weeks ago…….

I have been thinking this morning of all the wounds God has healed me of as I have been slowly growing this little munchkin.  Day by day He’s been filling little chunks in my soul and binding up old injuries.  Bringing me to a place of wholeness, where I can meet Nora as a whole person.  He has pulled me up out of the ashes and pieced me back together so that I have a fullness of Spirit and Soul to pour out over her. 

The promise over her is Joy, she is a child of Joy and now I carry that Joy as well.  We can meet each other as carries of this encompassing Joy.  Her’s a Joy of Grace and innocence, mine a Joy of Grace and Redemption, both gifts of our God.  She is flesh of my flesh, my light.  She is beauty in it’s very purest essence.  I will give her all the knowledge I have and shower her with a wild love that has known loss.

You perfection, God, is breathtaking.  How you have woven and mapped out my life.  How you planned a daughter of redemption even as you cried with me over my son.  I bow down to your wisdom and perfection.  The love you shower over my very being is more than I could ever hope to deserve or even fathom.  How you know me, every fiber and thought.  You are more than words to me.

As I move further into today I know God remembers my challenge issued last year, to take today and surprise me, to blow my mind somehow……

Isaiah 61:10-11

I will sing for Joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, He outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara.  For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.

Ain’t Never Been Shortchanged

Standard

Christmas has come and gone and December is dancin on outta here with some delicious warm weather.  Just warm enough to tide us over till Spring and air out our houses a little.  Adam and I live in a tiny but cozy little house that is double my age and likes to get an ancient smell to it from time to time, especially during these shuttered months.  While I am an old soul and appreciate the whisper of past times it’s also nice to throw open creaky windows and let antique walls breathe some crisp air!

This past month has been filled with other whisperings as well, one words in particular has swirled around my heart over and over, Joy.  Of course during Christmas this word gets overplayed and misused about as much as the word Love does on a daily basis.  But lately the Joy I’ve been feeling is just a little different from normal, it’s a little more filling.  It has a weight to it, a certain worth that I’ve been contemplating.  It’s as if I’ve had a concept of Joy my whole life but until recently it was something my brain merely held while my heart struggled and grappled with it.

The revelations of true Joy are hard to put into words.  How do you put human utterings to something that transpires in the Spiritual?  It is ridiculously impossible and impossibly personal.  But being human, of course I have to try…….

I am 28 now and my life has held enough heart breaks thus far, that much is true, but my journey to the revelations of Joy began when I embraced my life, all my gut wrenching sobbing, personal shortcomings, and limited knowledge and said “Here I am God! This world has done a number on me so far but can you use me? Can you heal me beyond what this world has dealt me?”  And as the healings began (and continue I might add) that’s when this unearthly concept of Joy began to burrow into my heart.  That Joy is not based on earthly circumstances or outcomes.  When I fall to my knees and my spirit cries out with a voice only One can hear, only One can answer, that’s when I feel Joy being weaved into my marrow and etched into my bones.  It’s the only reason I can look back over my life thus far and say yes it’s been mindbendingly painful at times but O my soul its been breathtakingly beautiful.  My heart catches at the grace woven into moments like ribbons into hair.  I am a tree growing by the ever fresh waters of the Holy Spirit, planted to grow tall for all to see the rich Glory of my God.  A tree that is growing and thriving despite the harsh winters of the land, a tree that is draped in the elegance of Peace and stubbornly budding out Hope.  My lips can’t help but turn up at the edges as my throat tingles to release little giggles.  My soul is overwhelmed by a sensation that is so deeply personal, it is just for me……and yet He has it for everyone at the same time, this crazy thing we humbly call Joy……

“I’m singing Joyful praise to God.  I’m turning cartwheels of Joy to my Savior God”  Habakkuk 3:18 (MSG)