Wednesday, December 1, 2010

After You Have Suffered a While

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
(1 Peter 5:10 NKJV)

You have answered Your servant Peter's prayer and settled me. I am not perfected. But I am complete, established, and strengthened. With a new month You have given me a new peace.

Thank You, my Lord. Thank You.

Friday, November 26, 2010

It Will Be Better

Prayer Closet

I haven't stopped struggling with a feeling of being unworthy to draw as closely to God as I've been for so long. I've been meditating on this verse and its context:

When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"
(Luke 5:8 NKJV)

I've often identified with Peter. It seems to me that he wants desperately to be a godly man. Perhaps he tries too hard. He is continually tripped up over his foot in his mouth—by being confronted with his inherent sinfulness.

In the Scriptures, I can feel Peter's great love for Jesus. I empathize with how horrible Peter would have felt to have declared with sincere passion that he would follow the Lord anywhere, and then falter in the moment of testing. I think of Peter plunging into the sea and rushing to shore when Jesus appears after His resurrection, and their verbal wrestling over Peter's love.

Then the Lord surprises me with a question.

Abba whisper:
Do you still love Me?

I cannot answer. I want to say, like Peter, "Lord, You know all things—You know I love you." But I've fallen so far short in expressing love that I don't feel I have the right to assert my love, even as I can feel it burning within my heart.

Abba whisper:
Why do you not come closer?

I have to think for a long time. The question has been dogging me for months. I've come up with many reasons, and I search my heart for the root of the matter.

It's one thing to lose my temper or have some other outward action confront me with a display of the sinfulness I still carry with me. It's another to have my Lord's words of rebuke sear my soul with revelation of my inner iniquity—and with expression of His displeasure.

I know I'm forgiven for all my sins, past and future. I also know that the iniquity of my flesh is just as present. I hate myself to know I'm just as likely to keep stumbling in front of the holy God I love.

I fear Your displeasure.

I think of the phrase I've seen in Scripture, "Your hot displeasure." I look it up and read two Psalms where it appears, begninning to end. I linger over these words.

O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
(Psalms 38:1-4 NKJV)

I think to myself that if the Lord simply spoke word of affirmation, words of favor, I could feel it safe to again draw as close as I have. I feel I cannot presume upon His favor until He extends the sceptre. I think of how many times and ways He has affirmed me in the past and how I wish He would do so now. But that is not what He offers.

Abba whisper:
You want only a Father's affirmation and not the rebuke?

Again, I cannot answer. I know His many affirmations have been far more numerous and greater than His few rebukes, even more than that last, strongest rebuke.

I just want the sweet fellowship again. It won't be the same now.

Abba whisper:
It will be better.

I know what He speaks is true. I don't disbelieve. But I'm so discouraged to know my weakness that I don't know how to engage myself with the Lord. He's so strong. His might overwhelms me.

I'm so weak. I just want You to carry me.

Abba whisper:
I have been. I want you to walk with Me.

Lord, I feel too weak to walk with Someone as mighty as You. I once wanted to do great things for You because of my great debt to Your Love, to Your Grace. I used to leap up onto the altar. It's all I can do to crawl onto the altar now that I understand what a shamefully blemished sacrifice I am. You deserve better. Please help me in my weakness. Please help me understand how to see myself as You see me, neither putting myself down nor puffing myself up. If You ask me to walk with You, please help me rise to Your steady pace, with the unforced spring in my step that I used to have. Please let me be Your joy.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Lord, it's said that many people who suffer catastrophic loss go through up to five stages of profound grief. Do we even recognize the process when the bottom falls out of our world and our heart feels it has nothing upon which to rest as each agonizing beat thuds in our chest?

Is that what Your grief feels like, but without the human process?

Might I have avoided the denial if I'd have been walking more closely in Your shadow? Or would I be too prideful and selfish to recognize my problems anyway? I don't want to beat myself up any more, but I also don't want to miss whatever You might still teach me there.

I suppose the downright sinful part was the anger toward You. I know it only happened a few times, in moments of greatest pain—like an injured animal which bites its beloved master. But I'm not an animal. How could I ever be angry with You for even a moment? I still can't believe I did that. I'm so sorry, Lord. You know I love You. I don't ever want to question You again.

Just how did I manage to touch You when I bargained? When I became desperate for something to change, then dug in my heels and started fasting? You said fasting was not the means to manipulate You, and I said yeah I guess I knew that but kept fasting because I wasn't willing to keep going the way it was. And then You said fasting wasn't a means by which You'd force someone else to move and I said okay whatever but I've got to do something and so I kept fasting. And then another blow came and I simply gave up. I was so broken, Lord, so very broken ...

But things did start to change.

Was there a way to lie shattered and broken without lapsing into depression? Or is that exactly the place from which You wanted me to cry out, "Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him"—? Did my wail reach the gates of Hell when I told the devil, "Go ahead. Keep up your crap. You might convince me all joy in life is over. You might know where to tempt me and how to exploit my weaknesses and make me stumble. You've made me wish I was dead. But you will not make me curse God! My God is good, and He is good all the time!"

My Lord, I know I have Your acceptance. Does Your will have mine yet? I speak it more often than I feel it. It's been really hard, Abba. I'm afraid to believe I've really heard You speak reassurance, because I still remember Your rebuke. I know You had to do that. But it also hurt more than everything else combined, to see my sinfulness the way You do and feel Your displeasure.

I know Your acceptance is so much bigger than Your displeasure. Thank You for showing me acceptance this day.

Thank You that Your displeasure only touched me and shall not prevail, because of Jesus. Please show me how to walk in Your acceptance, Abba. Please shield my heart from the darkness which could ever again prompt Your displeasure.

Please be gentle with me, my Lord; for I am so small and broken and weak, and You are so great and glorious and mighty.

For You have hidden Your face from us,
And have consumed us because of our iniquities.
But now, O LORD, You are our Father;
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all we are the work of Your hand.
Do not be furious, O LORD,
Nor remember iniquity forever;
Indeed, please look—we all are Your people!
~ Isaiah 64:7-9 (NKJV)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Psalm 118

1 Oh, give thanks to YHWH, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let Israel now say,
"His mercy endures forever."
3 Let the house of Aaron now say,
"His mercy endures forever."
4 Let those who fear YHWH now say,
"His mercy endures forever."

Because I know You, I love You, My God. Because I know You, how can I not fear You? And because I know You, I do not hesitate to declare, "Oh, give thanks to YHWH, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."

5 I called on YAH in distress;
YAH answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 YHWH is on my side;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

How could I have known that the rough winds I thought to be a storm merely portended the fierce gales to follow? Would I have clung to You more tightly?

7 YHWH is for me among those who help me;
Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.
8 It is better to trust in YHWH
Than to put confidence in man.
9 It is better to trust in YHWH
Than to put confidence in princes.

No matter. I called to both You and to human help. You were the One to answer. You are the Rock of Ages. You sent human help to comfort when it pleased You.

10 All nations surrounded me,
But in the name of YHWH I will destroy them.
11 They surrounded me,
Yes, they surrounded me;
But in the name of YHWH I will destroy them.
12 They surrounded me like bees;
They were quenched like a fire of thorns;
For in the name of YHWH I will destroy them.
13 You pushed me violently, that I might fall,
But YHWH helped me.

The Enemy's violent thrusts seemed like they would never end. Even now he seems to hover. Though You enabled me to vanquish him he yet watches me in my exhausted weakness. Your name is my strong tower, to which I run and am safe. You make me to know the broad place of salvation.

14 YAH is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation.
15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation
Is in the tents of the righteous;
The right hand of YHWH does valiantly.
16 The right hand of YHWH is exalted;
The right hand of YHWH does valiantly.
17 I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of YAH.

I once thought myself strong. My only strength, my only voice, my only life is in Your strength, Your song, Your right hand. Your Spirit is mighty, my spirit has no might. Yet with whatever breath You give me, YAH, I shall ever declare Your works.

18 YAH has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness;
I will go through them, And I will praise YAH.
20 This is the gate of the Lord,
Through which the righteous shall enter.
21 I will praise You, For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.

I know my great iniquity. I know I myself gave the Enemy his opening. Even so, You do not condemn. Please let me see myself as You do—no worse, no greater—that the gates of righteousness will invite me to dance within them with worthy praise for Your salvation.

22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.

You are the only Rock upon which I build. I call upon You, named Wonderful, Majesty, Eminence.

24 This is the day YHWH has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
25 Save now, I pray, O Lord;
O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.

Restore all, my Lord, as pleases You.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

Let me ever bless Your name, without fail, with my first breath upon rising, with the last breath You lend.

27 God is the Lord,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

When I would crawl off the altar, hold me fast. Draw my soul to Light even as You slay me, Your living sacrifice.

28 You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
29 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Let my life be poured out in praise. If I have found favor in Your sight, let this be my highest privilege, greatest pleasure, and deepest passion: that I exalt the name of my God, ever declaring Your gracious and perpetual mercy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In the Groove

Hi, Lord.

I'm out of step with You. I'm making lame excuses for it. I've been saying that I'm out of my groove because of circumstances. That I'm too beaten down to do anything but lie on the mat. That You turned my life upside down. (Well, You did, and it's Your place to do it, but that's not an excuse for me to be out of step with You.)

I'm tired of being in this place. I'm doing the right stuff, going through the right motions. But you and I both know that's all it is. I'm going through the motions and my heart's only halfway in it. It's making me vulnerable to some ugly lies, too.

I need to put my whole heart back into life, Lord. I need the joy on the outside to be the full joy on the inside that gives me the strength to make the joy on the outside shine for You the way You deserve.

I'm not asking You to help me get my heart back in step with You so my life will go better. I don't even deserve the blessings You already give me. I'm asking You to help me because I miss walking so closely with You that I feel the shadow of Your light fall upon me without ceasing. I'm being a straggler right now, trailing behind You as we take this walk through the valley that seems like it ends but never quite does.

I'm not unwilling to keep walking through the valley, especially because I feel Your presence and I'll go wherever You are. I don't want to go anywhere You aren't leading. But please help me recapture the joy of my salvation that makes the praise I'm giving You something that gives You pleasure in the walking.

I deserve nothing. But You deserve the best I have to give, however pitiful it is. You deserve all of me, however small I am.

I love You so much, Lord. You are so good. You really are enough. The fire inside hasn't died, just needs a little of Your breath to be brighter. Please? And if You're willing, then while You're at it, would it be possible for You to heal me where the fire outside has scorched?

Please pull me close. Please pull me back into Your groove.

Thank You, Lord. Thank You for never leaving me.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's Not Over Yet

Sunday night our church's choir, orchestra and drama team will present a production titled "Shelter." As in, "The Lord is our Shelter."

After the choir's opening song, I will dramatically present Isaiah 40. It's not actually the entire chapter, because the running time for thirty-one long verses was about five and a half minutes, and we omitted a portion to get it down to just over three minutes.

Three minutes is quite brief. Most any song you'd listen to lasts longer. You might take that long to read this post if you make it to the end. It's taken me many hours to memorize the verses I'll present in three short minutes, praying I get them right.

It's taken me nearly half a century to learn their message, and I definitely don't have that down yet.

Isaiah 40 begins with the words, " 'Comfort, yes, comfort My people!' says your God. 'Speak comfort ...' " It ends with the familiar assurance that "those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength ... mount up with wings like eagles ..."

Isaiah 40 has been speaking to me personally since I retreated to a closet at church back on a
January Wednesday and the Lord drew my attention to the question of Isaiah 40:27: "Why do you say ... 'My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God' " ?

It seems my entire life has been spent waiting for one important thing or another. In recent months, I've thought more than once that I really have reached my limit of waiting (as if I have a choice). One night in April I cried and pleaded and whined and sobbed as I begged the Lord to please let me bring something important in my life to successful completion.

Something bigger than the meal that takes an hour to prepare and vanishes within moments. Something bigger than spending days of ripping apart old shrubs and planting bulbs that bloom for a few days each year and look awful year round because I can't get time to weed and thin them. Something bigger than memorizing three-plus minutes of Scripture and presenting it and having it well-received before it passes from the memory of its hearers.

Please, Lord, can't I please get it right in something important like relationships? Because I'm tired of hurting people and I'm tired of hurting and I'm just plain tired of trying.

I suppose the Lord waits longer than any of us for all He wants to complete in relationships. I suppose He must smile with empathetic amusement at my whining.

That night in April, He was kind enough to provide a reply.

It's not over yet.

Which is His reassuring way of saying the waiting isn't over yet, but the results will be worth the wait.

I do trust Him, if I trust nothing else.

So I have memorized Scripture. I will speak to others His Word which has spoken to me, and I will pray that they catch a glimpse of the Lord's reassurance in the waiting.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

This is That

Life has held tough new challenges lately, and I've not felt the strength to meet them.

Worst has been that I'm not getting to my prayer closet as early and as undistracted as necessary for me to receive sufficient strength from the Lord to meet those challenges. I've been fighting weary apathy, devoid of the energy and passion more my character.

That weary apathy has been an enemy to face each morning. I've prayed for the Lord to awaken me as early as possible, when He knows I've had as much sleep as I need, so that I'll have time to meet Him and escape a downward vortex which the enemy says has entangled me.

The Lord has answered that prayer in ways He knows I can't resist—birdsong, thunder, cuddles.

My Daniel is five. He goes long stretches without a nighttime appearance in our room. Then he'll have a night when he awakens to use the bathroom, and not quite make it back to his own bed. Other times, he simply shows up inexplicably, snuggles into my arms quietly, and goes back to sleep.

He did so a few days ago at about the time morning light was making its own appearance. The clock display read 5:46—not too early to get up by any means. But it felt so good to cuddle Daniel's sleeping warmth. It gave my soul peace and joy and love. This was something real and tangible and strangely comforting, as only a small child might give comfort to an adult.

My prayer closet came to mind, and I offered the Lord, but Daniel's here.

He replied, this is that.

And I understood at once that my appearance in the prayer closet feels as good to Him as Daniel felt to me.

I relished the joy of Daniel's presence a few moments longer, then went to cuddle the Lord.

Why do I ever resist Him?

Why does He keep pursuing me?

He is so, so faithful. So merciful. So loving.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I do not ask my children to endure what I will not endure with them.

When they've been stuck with needles, or had surgery, or endured far worse, I've insisted on being there, sometimes observing procedures that would cause the most stout-hearted to faint. I've always believed that I could not ever tell my children that they must go through anything alone. I thank the Lord that He has always empowered me to follow through on that belief.

Before the last year, the worst trials of my life had involved watching my children suffer what I would have gladly endured had it been possible to trade places. Each situation has brought me greater appreciation for Christ's suffering—and greatest appreciation for the Father's pain to watch His Son suffer. I do not mitigate in the least what our Lord Jesus endured on our behalf. But as a parent, I believe that the Father's suffering was greatest.

In the intense trials of the last year, I have been brought to my knees, and I have been brought to what seemed like the very end of myself. (I know all too well, however, that Self was only broken and yet lives. Drat!)

I would not wish the last year of my life on my worst enemy (though I know no person I count my enemy). Even so, I am grateful that the Lord put me through this, and did not force me to watch my children go through it. That, I think, might have been too much. I might have finally seen the place where I could not accompany another. (Thank You, Lord, for Your mercy.)

Yet I wonder how will they know what I now know. I can ask, "Have you not heard?" and they may say they have. But if I ask "Have you not known?" they cannot fully know it until the day they themselves test it:

Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the LORD,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
~ Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV)

I fainted. I became weary. I found myself weakened beyond what I thought it possible for a Christian to be.

And this is what I now know. The Lord renews strength not as the reward for waiting upon Him. In the waiting upon Him—in the going back to Him, depending upon Him, turning to Him in every moment of utter and hopeless weakness—He gives not the strength for a lifetime, but the strength for the hour. Renewed strength is not the goal to attain as a lesson one learns and moves on. Renewed strength is the sustenance for the life hidden in Him.

He will not ask me to endure what He will not endure with me. And He asks me to do more than endure.

In the hour when I cried out to Him that it was too much, He was faithful and did not allow testing beyond my ability to stand. For in that hour He gave the strength to not merely endure, but to persevere with Him. He is the Everlasting God. I cannot outlast Him.

I understand that strength will always be available to me. I need fear nothing. The Everlasting God does not leave me—He leaves me renewed.

How I love Him!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


My last post spoke of rejection, and of fellowship with the Lord experienced. Through knowing rejection I shared His suffering and pain—horrible, deep, raw pain.

The Lord is merciful. He allowed me fellowship in His suffering, and He gave me fellowship in His love. If the last months have been a time of unprecedented agony, they have also been a season of previously unknown intimacy. This blog began as a chronicle of moments when the Lord’s presence embraced me in moments of anguish (though I wasn’t able to share the worst moments.) And I suspect that like childbirth, the intensity of pain will one day be forgotten. I won't lose sight of the fact that it really, really hurt. But the more enduring memory will be of love which overshadowed the pain.

Sorrow often overwhelmed me beyond comprehension. I continually turned to a reliable haven of safety, my God the Lord. Abba. Jesus was there too. And the Holy Spirit is always present. Each of their distinct personalities enfolded me in comfort with a different touch, a particular manner of speaking, a separate dimension of love which pressed into my soul, reaching a place no human can touch.

Paul said, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." (Philippians 3:10-11 NIV)

To again experience such love, I now know I am capable to endure such pain. I could face it without fear, knowing I'd not only be not alone, I'd also be carried.

I'd be held.

The sweetness of intimacy with the Lord is a taste of Heaven—a promise of what is yet to come in the resurrection of the dead. Like a lover's kiss that infuses one with desire for all that will follow, drawing desperately near to the Lord ignites a hope for all He's promised which infuses strength for the hour.

My other blog will say more tomorrow, with a different tone for a different audience. But both posts will include these words from a song which compels me to affirm "Yes Lord!" when asked if I will wait upon the Lord, however long the hour.

This is what it is to be loved
and to know that the promise was
when everything fell
we'd be held.

If hope is born of suffering—
if this is only the beginning—
can we not wait for one hour
watching for our Savior? *

*Lyrics from "Held" by Christa Wells © 2001 Weimarhymes Publishing Inc.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Personality quizzes peg me as evenly right brain / left brain. I'm analytical and logical yet sensitive and emotional (an intense mixture).

When problems surface, I plumb the depth of emotion and then rationalize solution: what's the core, the root issue to be addressed? And because I spent five years as a cop, where analysis was performed and executed in minutes (not days and months and years), I apply what I learn with immediacy: dive on in to the emotions, then resurface and get to work on the solution; if there's misery to traverse, let's go through it, learn from it, and then get on with life.

In January I took a day away from life to pray and fast about overwhelming problems. The Lord asked me, "Are you willing to go through this suffering with Me?" I could only think, "Dear God, is there more? More than this?" But I also could not resist a personal invitation from the Lord.

In the days to follow one word became huge: Rejection. I analyzed what I was experiencing so I could work with the Lord on the solution. I began to see every hurt as a form of rejection. The past came to the forefront, and I looked anew at hurts through this lens. I understood that over and over, as I had reeled from hurts and bounced back with forgiveness, I had missed a step.

My pattern was to accept the pain of offenses and analyze only my own culpability, because I'm only responsible for my actions. I'd A-B-C: Admit my sin, Be repentant, set about Change with the Lord's empowerment. I didn't dwell much on what could be behind another's sin, because I figure that's between them and the Lord.

By no means am I saying that it was wrong to not evaluate the offense on the part of someone else. (I'll talk about that another day, perhaps on my other blog.) But when confronted with the past's path to present problems, I was forced to go back and analyze what hurt me then, what was hurting me now.

Rejection rejection REJECTION!

Whether or not it was intended, someone had communicated rejection to me in the past—and in the present. Billows of pain continued to wash over me, and I understood something.

We reject God. Over and over, in a million different ways.

When He asked, "Are you willing to go through this suffering with Me?" I thought He meant more of my own suffering. I was given the opportunity to experience His suffering. My heart felt pain that was not my own. I recognized the pain as that of God living within me. Horrible, deep, raw pain. The pain of pouring out blessing, love and sacrifice—and have it rejected.

Since my M.O. is to accept the lesson and move on, I expected to do so. God has another plan. He is allowing me to experience continued rejection, morphed into new shapes and words. Every time I think I've turned a corner, I face a new form of rejection, such as these:

From a trusted friend of many years, unfounded accusation, and admonishment to seek the Lord, prefaced with the words, "I have your best interest at heart";

From a confidant, disbelief that I've heard from the Lord at all;

From one to whom I've been a mentor, withdrawal, because I'm superfluous if I'm weak.

I see that although I've received fifty or a hundred times more messages of encouragement and hope from loved ones, a single message of rejection from a loved one devastates. I see that while rejection from those with whom we rub shoulders stings, rejection from those to whom we've opened our hearts stabs.

And I wonder if those who hurt the Lord most are not those who reject His sacrifice and refuse salvation, but those with whom He is intimate by His indwelling Holy Spirit, who accuse Him of disengagement, who doubt His Word, who seek His hand and not His face.

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.
He also shall be my salvation,
For a hypocrite could not come before Him.
~ Job 13:15-16 (NKJV)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hello Again

This blog was started in January 2010. At the time, circumstances prevented me from writing for my blog "Building His Body," where I’d posted Bible insights daily since March 2008. Though I willingly paused writing about the Bible when I knew it necessary, I found myself far more devastated by the loss than I’d anticipated.

I am a writer. Others call it my gift and I’m inclined to agree. While writing is not my primary identity, it nourishes my soul in a unique way because it affords the opportunity to share with others the things God shows me that are just too good to keep to myself.

Sharing about my God is happily done via other avenues. The rare invitation for public speaking is a treasure, whether to lead prayer among citizens and community leaders for National Day of Prayer, to talk with familiar faces filling any sized room, or to preach at the county jail for women once or twice a year (my favorite).

Talking one-on-one is nearly the opposite kind of sharing. It is impromptu rather than prepared, for a moment or for hours, and may affect one or both of us for a lifetime. The Lord amazes me by what He does when I suddenly face a treasured friend, a nearly forgotten acquaintance, even a complete stranger, and suddenly find Him ministering to them through me. It fosters a special dependence on the Holy Spirit. On any given day, some appointments are written on my calendar, and the divine ones are written on the Lord’s.

How else do I share the Lord? At church, there's children’s Sunday School, drama team, and sometimes the praise or dance teams. Among relatives, sharing is by turns candid around dear ones with whom I’m most at ease, or cautious because they best know my failures. At home I feel my every move is a sharing of God with husband and children. I am keenly aware—often painfully aware—of how much impact I have on their lives, for better or for worse.

But my primary identity is also not wife and mother, or any one of those other multitude of roles I enthusiastically embrace. My core identity is ambassador of YHWH—of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Synonyms for ambassador are representative, diplomat, emissary, envoy. ‘Ambassador’ carries connotations the other words do not. It is derived from the Latin ambactus which means “servant.” And the Oxford dictionary defines ‘ambassador’ as “a diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country.”

This is a permanent servanthood assignment rather than missions trip. My citizenship and nativity are of another place. I’m in close contact with my kingdom but don’t receive furloughs at home.

I live among foreigners inclined to misunderstand me.

When I paused Bible writing for my other blog, a friend suggested I keep writing anyway, even if it wasn't shared. Writing, for me, has never been about the recording, but about the sharing. So I started this blog to simply share what God was teaching me personally. I quickly discovered that God had far more in mind than I did. He took me through the darkest of deep pits, and there I heard the Lord speak more clearly and frequently than I ever have in my life.

I've felt exposed. I've been misunderstood. And I've been called to account by more than one person who alleged improper motives where I knew myself guiltless.

I’m by no means sinless. The Lord does a plenty adequate job of calling me to account where needed. My desire is to be blameless—that is, to settle accounts with the Lord as soon as they come to my attention. I've no reason to resist the One I trust implicitly. I respond to Him as He enables with confession, repentance, and change. I never do so adequately. He nonetheless assures me that I am not condemned.

When I felt overwhelmed by exposure and accusations, I quit posting here and took the blog offline. I’m ready to go back online with it. It will be a chronicle of things I learn on a personal level while I continue my wayfaring as an ambassador in a foreign land. I leave in place the private, precious conversations I had with the Lord in my darkest hours, labeled "Abba Whispers." In days to come the blog name will change. Though the comments remain off indefinitely, I've no objection to emails when a situation calls for it. I'm praying about what else this blog should be.

For the next few posts, I’ll simply tell what the Lord’s taught me in recent weeks that I’ve yet to share.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

You Didn't Ask

Thurs, Feb 18, morning

Prayer closet. I've been praying about many things. I want to hear the Lord's voice but sense this is a time that His Spirit may only speak with understanding of the heart and not with words. My prayers turn to some difficult blog posts I've been working on about suffering, and about the Q&A I've been struggling with on how Christians should treat homosexuals. The Lord is indeed providing understanding, but I do not hear his voice even after much prayer.

My prayer:
I want to get this right. I want to provide an answer that honors You.

Abba whisper:
You didn't ask.

[I realize I have not actually asked for the needed words, but have simply been relying on Him to provide them.]

I'm asking now. Please show me what to say.

[The understanding in my heart is that I need to apologize on behalf of other Christians. I formulate the needed answer. I feel so sad for all the hurt I start to cry.]

Lord, I'm so small for this task. So many misunderstandings. So many hurtful words. I know You must be so disappointed in us. I ask You to please go before me. Please go to every single individual who will read these words. Please give each and every one of them the right spirit to receive them. Please bring to this site by whatever means possible the exact people who need to see these words, both Christians and homosexuals. Dear God, please forgive us for how we grieve You with our selfishness. Please bring healing. Please draw people to Yourself. Please, Lord, be glorified in this. This post has been so difficult to compose. I beg You to use it to work unity, forgiveness, and love. Please, Father, teach us to love one another.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Never Enough

Sat, Feb 13, morning

Prayer Closet. My thoughts turn to the blog post I did for today on why a good God allows suffering.

My prayer:
How did I do? Did You show?

[There is silence. I pray some more, but my heart comes back to the same question.]

Did I do justice to You? Did Your goodness come through in my words?

Abba Whisper:
For some there is never enough.

[I feel God's sadness. My heart is moved to tell Him how good He is.]

You are good.
[I hear in my head the song "We Worship You" as I'm praying]
You let us live when we prove how evil we are, so we might accept Your redemption.
[I begin writing, so I can record everything.]
Everything You did at Calvary—so much—proved Your love and goodness.
(Holy Spirit, help me!)
You come to live within us. [with amazement]
You put Your breath in us. [my heart thinks of what it must have been like when the Lord created Adam and breathed life into him]
You give us people to love us when we're so impossible.
You make our wildest dreams come true when we honor You.
You pour out pleasure for us in all creation.
[My prayer time is interrupted for the second time to help kids get going who need to leave in a few minutes. I need to go but can't tear myself away yet.]
You provide our every need.
You supply so many wants.
You heal.
You restore.
Your love never fails or leaves us.
["We Worship You" has not stopped playing in my head. I pause praying to sing part of it in my heart.]
Lord You are good and Your mercy endureth forever.
Lord You are good and Your mercy endureth forever.
People from every nation and tongue
From every generation to come
We worship You
Hallelu Yah!
Hallelu Yah!
We worship You for Who You are
And You are good!
All the time
[I continue my own praying while the song keeps playing in the background of my mind]
You ask so little of us when You've done so much.
You forgive our continual failings.
You include us in Your glory.
You want us.
Oh Lord, despite all my failings, I love You.
[I feel my love for the Lord well up inside me.]
Father, it's so hard to be away from You.

Abba Whisper:
It needs to.

Why? Why can't our souls be satisfied?

That's how love is.

Scripture comes to mind:
Love is as strong as death,
Jealousy as severe as Sheol;
Its flames are flames of fire,
The very flame of Yah.
(Song of Solomon 8:6, author)

I hear You less when I'm not suffering.

You listen less.

I have to go. Help me. Help me listen more.

[I think of my day. I need to get my kids to church for a woodworking day on their AWANA Grand Prix cars. Then grocery shopping. Then food prep for a birthday celebration. Then get my daughter to a violin audition. Then birthday celebration. Then a funeral for a police officer my husband works with, who was going through a bitter divorce and committed suicide.]

Use me today? Please?

[On my way to the grocery store the next song that comes up on my CD player is one I play over and over, singing as a prayer:]

Abba, Father
My loving Father
I've come to worship You
To say 'I love You'
To lift my hands up to You
I've come to worship You
I am Your child
Born of Your Spirit
Called by Your name
Chosen by Your hand
I belong to You

Abba, Father
Our loving Father
We've come to worship You
To say 'We love You'
To lift our hands up to You
We've come to worship You
We are Your children
Born of Your Spirit
Called by Your name
Chosen by Your hand
We belong to You *

* Lyrics of "Abba Father" © 1998 Vineyard Music Group

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Prayer Closet

Wed, Feb 10, morning

Prayer closet. I'm thinking about the questions I've had from people about my prayer closet, especially since I've started this blog, and am bringing before the Lord what to say about it. I am thinking about what this prayer closet is to me.

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret ...
(Matthew 6:6 KJV)

My prayer:
Father, how do I describe it?

Abba whisper:
You know.

[I consider that despite being enclosed by no more than a curtain, this is a private place to meet God on the most intimate level. It is a private chamber for Him and me.]

What is this place to You?

Abba [I sense sadness in Him]:
Have you forgotten the pleasure?

[I know He means the pleasure of intimacy. I feel sad too, to think of days I've hesitated to be here, or been distracted. I don't specifically pray, but I feel Him knowing my thoughts.]

You know how to lock a bedroom door, how to shut out distractions there.

[I understand His reference to marital intimacy, and the comparison to me being hesitant or distracted here.]

You're right. I'm sorry.

[I spend some time reminiscing on the many hours of joy I've had here, on all the times I could hardly wait to get here, could hardly tear myself away.]

Please help me rediscover the joy of meeting You here without fear of pain, without hesitation, without distraction. [Pause. I'm thinking again about how to describe this to readers.] Please help me know how to describe that being here is a pleasure not a duty, the way sex should be.

You just did.

I can't say that! I can't compare this to sex so openly!

It's what they'll understand.

[My mind is spinning. I'm grasping for words to veil the intimacy in a more reserved manner.]

Isn't that how you meet Me here? Make the comparison.

When I come here, I am exposed to You at the same time I am at ease with You. I freely offer myself to You.


You want me to say that?!

Just speak the truth.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Annie's Song

Tues, Feb 9, 6:30 am

Lying in bed. I just woke up. When I have sufficient presence of mind, I bless to the Lord with my first conscious thought. I do so today:

Me (whispered aloud in Hebrew):
Baruch ata Adonai Yad He Vav He Eliohe-nu, Elyon Melach ha-Olam, Eli.

**Blessed are You YHWH our God, Most High King of time and eternity—my God.

Abba whisper:
Prove it.

[I know He means my prayer closet. I close my eyes for just a moment, trying to wake up. I think I momentarily doze off.]

Abba whisper:
Meet Me.

[I get up and go to my prayer closet. It's cold here, next to a leaky old front door, in the part of the house opposite our wood stove. I turn on the space heater and lay my face on the floor.]

My prayer:
I'm here.

[I wait to see if the Lord will speak again. He doesn't.]

I'm here. And I'll continue to bless Your name, in the valley, in the desert place.

[The Lord is silent, though I can feel His presence. I call to mind a song with special meaning between me and God. I sing the words mentally, as a prayer, in the order they come to mind:]

On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

[I'm still waking up, trying to remember the words about sunshine. I go through the same words over and over, but I can't remember the words about sunshine. I look them up on my iPod, and then mentally sing whole song, skipping the chorus:]

My mentally sung prayer:
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I'm found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out
I'll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name*

I've not failed to bless Your name. As long as You give me breath and grace to do so, I'll not fail to bless Your name.

[I think about the difficult times I've gone through, in which the Lord has brought this song to me. My mind wanders to the blog post I did Saturday for Bullets & Butterflies—"Why Pray"—and the ensuing discussion in the comments about God's love and need for us.]

Please tell me, Lord. Do you need us? If I'm wrong I'll admit it.

[The Lord is silent. I think more about the words I quoted in one of my comments: "Mature love says I need you because I love You."]

Is it true, Lord? Do You love us enough to need us?

[The Lord remains silent, but I can feel His great love. I reverse the words (the Spirit's leading I think): Do I love the Lord enough to need Him for that reason alone?]

Yes, Lord. I love You. I need You. I need You more than the air I breathe. I love You more than I love life itself. I love You more than anyone else, more than anything else.

[I feel the Lord bring to mind all the distractions that have sometimes prevented me meeting Him in my prayer closet in the morning.]

Yes, Lord. I need You, I love You more than all those other things. Please help me remember that when I get distracted.

[The Lord remains silent. I begin to tell Him all the reasons I love Him, I need Him.]

Please tell me, Lord. If I'm wrong I'll admit it. Do You need us?

The Lord's whisper:
I need to be needed.

[I wonder for a moment if it was the Lord's voice or my own, because of the many ways those words have come up between my husband and me in recent weeks.]

Lord, please tell me. I need to know if it's You speaking. Do You need us?

The Lord:
I need to be needed.

Please give me other words so they'll believe they're true. ["they" being blog readers.]

The Lord:
They don't need to believe. You believe.

[I call to mind the first time I understood God's need for us, and the ways it was made clear. I call to mind one way I recently experienced profound grief, and the way I understood it to be the Lord's own grief. It occurs to me that just now when I heard the words "I need to be needed," I didn't distinguish the voice of the Father or the Lord Jesus. But I wasn't paying attention.]

Jesus, was that You speaking?

[I don't hear the Lord speak, but all I can think of is Calvary, how much I needed it, how grateful I am for Jesus' blood. And then another song comes to mind. I mentally sing it as a prayer to the Lord, thinking of each experience the song describes, and of Him being so much better:]

You fill up my senses
like a night in the forest
like the mountains in springtime,
like a walk in the rain
like a storm in the desert,
like a sleepy blue ocean
You fill up my senses,
come fill me again.
Come let me love You,
let me give my life to You
let me drown in Your laughter,
let me die in Your arms
let me lay down beside You,
let me always be with You
come let me love You,
come love me again. **

* "Blessed be the Name of the Lord" lyrics © 2005 Matt Redman, Six Step Records
** "Annie's Song" lyrics © 1974 John Denver, RCA Records

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Poor in Spirit

Sat, Feb 6, morning

Lying on my back in bed. I feel the Lord tugging me toward the prayer closet. I don't want to go.

My prayer:
I hate this emptiness. I hate having no spirit left in me.

Abba whisper:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

The kingdom is so far away.

The kingdom is within you.

I've no strength to lay hold of it. I was once fearless. Now I'm afraid of a prayer closet.

What are you afraid of?

Of what else You'll take away.

You know I'll return more than I ask.

[I turn on my side. I can't make up my mind if I'm about to roll out of bed or trying to hide.]

I won't force you.

[I lie there silently.]

And I won't beg.

[My heart is pricked that I'm refusing my Lord. I get out of bed and go to the prayer closet. I crouch down and lay on my face.]

Here I am. But there's none of me left.

That's where I need you. That's where we start.

Me [feeling hopeful]:
Are we done entering the valley? Are we on our way out yet?

Don't worry about My timing. [Pause] Whatever keeps you from being here [prayer closet] is an idol.

[I think of all the reasons I'm sometimes not here. This is old stuff that the Lord and I have already been over.]

A lot of things have been idols.

You can make idols of My gifts.

And that's when I lose joy in them.

You know My jealousy. Even your joy is an idol if it's not in Me.

It's so hard down here. So many distractions. Not like Heaven. [I stifle tears to think about how much I love the Lord, how much I long to be with Him.] In Heaven I'll be able to love You perfectly.

You prove your love for Me here, amid the distractions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Valley of the Shadow

Fri, Feb 5, 11am

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
(Psalms 23:4 KJV)

In the shower, the only safe place to go in a house full of people when crying becomes sobbing. I've mentally reviewed how I'm going to close down this blog and have already decided to do so. My only obstacle is I need permission. I'm certain that I'm broken enough to get it.

My prayer:
I've done what You asked. I showed what it is to hear Your voice. I'm listening better now. To keep sharing publicly is too exposing. I need to lay this down. I need Your permission to let go of the blog. You're still taking me into the valley. We're not heading out yet. There's no light to share.

Abba whisper:
People need to see what it is to walk through the valley.

It's too dark too share. I'm begging You to let me go. I'm pleading with You. Please hear my cry. Please choose someone else.

I already chose you.

Then let me share later, like David. His psalms are on display after we know the outcome. It's too dark right now.

You do know the outcome. You work from victory [Calvary] not toward it.

I have nothing to share in this. I can't put this ugly mess on display.

My Son was put on display.


You have Me. You always have Me. I am enough.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hard to Listen

Thurs, Feb 4, morning

Prayer closet

My prayer:
Seems like the higher the summits I reach, the deeper the valleys—I always have to come back to the bottom, to my core, to the same deep pit I started from.

Mental picture:
Colorado valley, with steep mountain walls reaching both low and high.

Spirit whisper:
The valley floor is still a mile high.

The better part of the next hour is spent reading the Bible, praying, and seeking understanding for a piece to be written for Bullets & Butterflies. I leave the prayer closet for an interruption, then wander into the bedroom and sink down into a chair. I feel tired.

My prayer:
You're not a genie I can just call up on demand. I need You to talk to me. I don't seem to be hearing Your voice.

Abba whisper:
You know where to find Me.

I go back to the prayer closet. I'm trying to pray but feel like I'm wandering in circles through clouds.

You're hard to hear.

You're hard to listen.

More mental wandering.

You give and take away. It’s hard when You take away.

Isn’t what I give back always better?

It’s all a muddle right now, a mess.

I like to clean up messes. I chose you, didn't I?

That's not funny. I feel like all I'm hearing is my own voice. If You want me to blog prayer I need to hear from You. And if it's not going to sound contrived, I need to hear what wouldn't come from me.

This is not a game.

(I sit quietly a while, feeling chastised for being demanding. Then I pray for spiritual protection, and intercede for others.)

Me (an hour later, while in the car, thinking about this blog):
I don't want to be embarrassed to have started something I can't follow through on.

It isn't about them. It's about Me. You pay closer attention to Me now. You listen more carefully for My voice.

You had me do a blog so I'd listen better?

Whatever it takes.

Argh! [pause] You’re being hard on me.

You can take it. I’m in you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Made You Laugh

Mon, Feb 1, 5:30pm


Sitting at internet computer. I’m yet again overwhelmed by relationship challenges and have been crying. I just posted a tweet:
"I am only as strong as I give God permission to be in me." ~ @PeterPollock // I'm SO needing to remember this today.

My prayer [still crying]:
I don't see how blogging prayer is going to work. I can't even share half the crap I'm bringing to You right now.

Abba whisper:
You think I'm not big enough.

I'M not big enough.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

God, can't You pick someone else?

That line's never worked with Me.

[laughter through tears] Yeah, I know.

I made you laugh. [pause] And there's a smile.

[with resignation] I eye roll You. [sigh, stop crying] Thanks. [wait a bit] Seriously, there’s no way I can share half this stuff.

Share the other half.

I hate arguing with You. You always win.

Uh-huh. [pause] You just smiled again.

You’re doing that on purpose.

[light bulb goes on]
You don’t want me to be sad.

Huh-uh. [pause] Because I love you.

I know. [pause] I love You, too.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Voice

Mon, Feb 1, 7:00am

Lying in bed. I've been awake for half an hour, mentally chatting at the Lord, thinking about posts I've already put on the new blog, reviewing all the details in His presence. I've been lying here long enough.

My prayer:
I don't know I don't know I don't know. Is this what I should do, Lord? It feels WAY too intimate.

Abba whisper:
Just show what it is to hear My voice.

This is too much me. I'll talk about You. But this is way too much 'me' to be comfortable.

Abba whisper:
People need it.

I don't want to cheapen it [talking to You]. And transparency is one thing. But this. This is too much.

Abba whisper:
And My Son?

Mental recollection:
Jesus in Gethsemane: The Son of Man, utterly transparent. [My argument is effectively invalidated.]

They'll think I'm nuts.

Abba whisper:
Do I care?

[mental laughter] No. [very long pause] Okay, You win. And, yes, I'm getting up.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Amazing Grace

Fri, Jan 29, about 9pm

Retirement party at a bar. Lots of cigarette haze. A guy sitting at the bar tried to be friendly with me when I went to get utensils the waitress forgot. Mediocre Karaoke setup does little for the atmosphere. I'm sitting with my husband and some acquaintances.

Spirit's whisper:
Amazing Grace

Continue conversation for several minutes.

Spirit's whisper:
Amazing Grace

It that You, Lord? (I examine Karaoke setup again.) No way they've got "Amazing Grace" in the Karaoke book.

Mental picture:
Scene from the movie Amazing Grace when William Wilburforce sings the song "Amazing Grace" in a bar.

That is You. [mental eye roll] Okay, if they've got Amazing Grace in that book I'll sing it.

Go check Karaoke listings. "Amazing Grace (traditional)" appears. I fill out a request slip, and confirm with the operator that he'll let me sing it. I then tell a friend from church what I'm going to do and ask him to pray. I go back to my table and pray as well. When my name is called, I get up, dedicate the song to the guest of honor (who said he wouldn't go to church again until he retires), and sing "Amazing Grace"—four verses plus a repeat of the first verse. When I'm done, I go and hug the guest of honor.

Thank You, Lord. Thank You for the chance to minister. I've missed it so much.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bound Up With Me

Wed, Jan 24 about 7:30 pm

I feel dead inside. I'm exhausted by grieving. I've skipped out on drama practice to seek a quiet place to read the Bible that's always given me comfort. If there's an isolated and unoccupied room at church on Wednesday night I've no idea where it is. My drama director suggests I locate the custodian and have him unlock a closet for me. A few feet from where I'm standing, I notice that the missionary closet has inadvertently been left open and I slip into it.

Scripture, Isaiah 40 (entire chapter); final verses, Isaiah 40:29-31 (NKJV):
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

There's something here I missed.

Okay, Lord, what do You want me to see that I'm missing?

Read chapter again. Reach final verses again.

I am waiting on You. Waiting. Bound together with You. Waiting, waiting, waiting and I don't even know what I'm waiting for or how much longer I can wait. I'm tired of feeling dead inside every evening when it's time to post and I can't post and Lord! I'm just sad and I don't want to be sad anymore.


I'm still missing something, aren't I?

Spirit's whisper:
What's the context?

Start reading backwards from chapter's end until I hit verse 27.

Scripture, Isaiah 40:27 (NKJV):
Why do you say, O Jacob,
And speak, O Israel:
"My way is hidden from the LORD,
And my just claim is passed over by my God"?

Understanding from Spirit:
The Lord is bound up with me. He is here with me. He is feeling everything I am. I need to wait. I need to have peace about His work, His timing.

Okay, Lord. Okay.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wherever You Are

Sun, Jan 24, 6pm

Alone in a hotel room where I've come to pray and fast overnight

Dear God, I need to hear Your voice right now. I don't know what to do or even think. I beg You to help me.

Jesus whisper:
Are you willing to go through this suffering with Me?

Oh God, please, there's more? I can't do anymore.

Understanding from Spirit:
We share joys with many. We share grief with few.

Yes, Lord. I'll go wherever You are. I only want to be wherever You are.

Overwhelming peace and comfort.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Psalm 61

Fri, Jan 22, early morning

Sitting in front of our home's internet computer, staring at today's post for "Building His Body": FAILURE

Oh God, this hurts so much more than I expected. I already thought I couldn't hurt any more and now I do. I hardly ever open my Bible randomly but I don't even think I can hear You right now any other way. Please take me where I need to go.

Open computer Bible. Randomly slide right sidebar. Opens exactly to Psalm 61:1.

Scripture, Psalms 61 (NKJV):
To the Chief Musician.
On A Stringed Instrument.
A Psalm of David.
Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.
For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king's life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.

Yes, I do fear your name, Lord. You are my heritage. Thank You. Thank You for the shelter of Your wings. Thank You for the assurance and comfort of knowing You hear my crying. Thank You for providing what I need right now.