A Non-Advent Prayer That I Love

I know this prayer has very little to do with Christmas or Advent or even cold weather, but I just LOVE it.

“Dear Lord, you are the first of the just. You lived the righteous life. It is because of you that your heavenly Father keeps this world in existence and shows his mercy to us sinners.

Who am I, Lord, to expect your love, protection, and mercy?

Who am I to deserve a place in your heart, in your house, in your kingdom?

Who am I, Lord, to hope in your forgiveness, your friendship, your embrace?

And still this is what I am waiting for, expecting, even counting on!

Not because of my own merits, but solely because of your immense mercy. You lived for us the life that is pleasing to God. O Lord, you are the just one, the blessed one, the beloved one, the righteous one, the gracious one.

I pray that your Father, the Father of all people, the One who created me and sustains me day in and day out, may recognize in me your marks and receive me because of you. Help me to follow you, to unite my life with yours and to become a mirror of your love. Amen.”

-Henri J.M. Nouwen
A Cry for Mercy: Prayers from the Genesee

I See You

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I am your friend and I see you.

I see you when you think no one else does. I see you at your worst moments when you’ve made poor decisions and chosen based on fear and greed rather than from faith and love.

I see you when you broke another promise to a friend, to a parent, to yourself, to me.

I see you when you feel most alone and abandoned by everyone you thought cared the most for you.

I see you when all you can see is heartache and pain and all the broken pieces of your wrecked life.

I see your future when you can see only a past filled with regrets and a present with no end in sight.

I see you whole and healed and radiant and beautiful and desired and wanted and chosen.

For I am The Lord your God. I am your Maker, your Redeemer, your Father, your Lover, your Friend, your All.

I have been a Witness to every moment of your life. You have never ever been alone or forsaken. You have never been out of my sight or out of my arms or out of my heart.

My love for you is the same as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow. It is complete, perfect, passionate, healing, and life.

You are forever mine and I am forever yours.

You are my beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.

i will sing and dance with joy over you every night and hold you in my strong embrace every day. You belong to me.

Alone But Not Lonely

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I was literally sitting in the dark on the upstairs patio at Frothy Monkey. One friend has been AWOL from my life for a while now, another moved to Cookeville today, and yet another was instagramming about how much fun she was having with friends listening to music at Franklin Mercantile just down the street.

And I sat alone in the dark.

And I was okay with it.

Sometimes, it’s good to be alone. In fact, it’s more than good. It’s necessary. You can never really effectively be present in a crowd if you can never be alone. You only hear your true name and your true identity in those times of aloneness.

It took me embracing those times of being alone to hear that I am my Abba’s beloved and to know that I belong to Him and He is very pleased with me.

I tried to message my friend to find out if she was still in the area and got no response. So I walked over to the Franklin Mercantile only to find I had missed everything. The crowd, including my friend, was gone.

I was still okay.

That used to be a recurring nightmare of mine. I’d find my friends had all left me suddenly or that I was just a step or a second too slow and would just miss them.

But tonight, I knew I wasn’t alone. Those Strong Arms that hold me up in the day and in the crowded places are just as able to carry me through the dark places where I am alone.

You can only hear your Abba singing over you when you’re alone. You can never truly appreciate God as a refuge and stronghold and place of rest in a crowd, but in those times when no one else is around.

I pray you can embrace being alone as much as you cherish being with family and friends. May you learn to love the dark, for that is where your Father will whisper precious promises to you that you will come to cherish more dearly than anything you can find at any other time.

Things I Love 45: Sometimes You Just Gotta Walk Away

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“When bridges seem to give way, we fall into Christ’s safe arms, true bridge, and not into hopelessness. It is safe to trust! We can be too weak to go on because His strength is made perfect in utter brokenness and nail-pierced hands help up. It is safe to trust! We can give thanks in everything because there’s a good God leading, working all things into good. It is safe to trust! The million bridges behind us may seem flattened to the earthly eye, but all bridges ultimately hold, fastened by nails. It is safe to trust.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are).

Well, it was a good day. Not because absolutely everything went exactly like I wanted it to, but because God was in it, orchestrating each and every individual event toward a grander purpose than I can imagine or foresee just yet. I only see the underside of the tapestry He’s weaving, seeing the dark threads intertwined with the lighter ones, not seeing the beautiful imagery being crafted on the other side. Even during the dark moments, I know that the contrast He’s creating will make the brightly threaded moments seem all the brighter and more precious.

1,401) Starting back to work on Monday in a new temp-to-hire position.

1,402) A perfectly blended Arnold Palmer (unsweet tea and lemonade) at the Williamson County Fair.

1,403) Another amazing sermon from Mike Glenn at Brentwood Baptist Church.

1,404) Knowing when to walk away rather than risk getting upset.

1,405) My current therapy session with my sleeping feline therapist, also known as Lucy.

1,406) The continuation of strangely mild temperatures in August.

1,407) Knowing that the start of school means that autumn and changing leaves are just around the proverbial corner.

1,408) Just about all the cheesy 80’s Chicago ballads.

1,409) Playing a friendly game of volleyball without getting overly caught up in winning or playing perfectly.

1,410) Playing Candy Crush Saga on my iPad 2.

1,411) Bare feet on summer grass in the evening.

1,412) Trying on a pair of Teva sandals that feel like heaven.

1,413) Reading about the cat named Lucy who reportedly lived to be 39.

1,414) Free downloads on iBooks on my iPad 2.

1,415) Knowing all (or most) of the words to the essential classic rock songs.

1,416) Trusting the Sovereignty of God above my feelings or my intuition or my gut feelings or my understanding.

1,417) Seeing another old landmark, Gray’s Pharmacy,  in downtown Franklin renovated and finding new life as a restaurant.

1,418) Having avoided just about every single episode of any reality TV show ever made.

1,419) Committing to read the old Catholic mystic writers such as St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross.

1,420) Finding a little book, The Little Flowers of Saint Francis of Assisi, that I didn’t even remember I had.

1,421) My cat, Lucy, licking my hand while I’m typing this on my laptop.

1,422) The infinite possibilities and opportunities that await me on August 5.

1,423) Calling those who share my love for Jesus and His grace displayed in salvation my brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of denomination.

1,424) Not caring if I’m an extrovert or an introvert, but just loving being me in all my different moods and temperaments.

1,425) Almost three hours of volleyball this evening.

1,426) My collection of coasters that looks like a little dresser.

1,427) Labor Day being 4 weeks away.

1,428) Seeing diversity in the Body of Christ.

1,429) Remembering that I am the Hands and Feet of Christ and that He can still reach and love and embrace His children through me.

1,430) Finally starting season 4 of Lost after months of being stuck on the cliffhanger of season 3.