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Sunday, December 28, 2014

When Mr. "Let's Not Get Carried Away," Does.

PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart-The Devotional
Supplement to Chapter 2-

"And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you" (Exodus 23:28).
I will never look at hornets the same way again.
Someone famous once said, "The more I have to do in a day, the longer I stay on my knees in prayer." That's because God is in charge of time. I give Him my list of things to do, and He scratches off most of them, because most of them don't need to be done today. Then He tells me, "Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today" (Matthew 6:34 NLT).

The troubles for today? They're hornet chow.

For Today-

"For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5: 7).

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony" (Hebrews 11:1-2).

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6).

I stir these verses together as this big man I'm married to stirred paint in a paint can with the complementary paint stick boasting Sherwin-Williams on the handle. I paint my heart with God's word and give the words time to soak in and to swallow my heart whole. And I give myself time, too.

I can't see God. I'm not present with Him, yet. But I make it my aim to be pleasing to Him. I want to be painted in His light; want to absorb whatever color He sees fit to brush the day with. A fresh coat for a new day.

I must walk by faith if I am to know any of this, because I can't see God Himself. He is my hope. He is all things to me. I can't see Him, but that's okay for now because He doesn't leave me without direction. He gives substance and evidence, gives faith, to walk by.

Today faith is substance all yellow paint, and evidence as hard as the bathroom walls. I woke to it. And woke to thank the God I can't see, because faith this color is most meaningful to me. It's yellow. Really bright yellow. Painted so by Mr. Let's-Not-Get-Carried-Away whenever his "May we paint our bathroom bright pink?" daughters hold paint strips out all hopeful. Yeah. This is the same man I caught standing on the bathroom counter top, yellow roller in hand and, oh, speckled! Just specked all yellow!

"He's healing on the inside, Lord!" I thank Him, because there is something bright yellow happening inside his soul and it's dripping out onto the walls. Yellow soaks paint rollers, paint brushes, paint tray holds yellow pools of paint, and my man speckled in yellow is all the evidence I need to believe that God is doing what He said He'd do. If tears of joy have a color, it would be bright yellow.

"Today I give bright yellow. Walk in it." I hear Him tell me how to walk in faith today, before I place my feet on the floor.

Yellow Paint
Collect faith with me, right where you are today? Faith is as real as a paint can. Dip your brush deep, past the surface of what you can see, and pull it up just dripping with hope? This is where we connect with God's heart. I'll go first.

-This man standing on the bathroom counter top, surrounded by brightest yellow and speckled in it, is healing.

-Faith is the substance of things hope for, and I've been hoping for healing.   

-The color of faith, to me, is brightest yellow.

-I'm leaving yellow footprints everywhere I walk today!

written by:Carolyn-Elizabeth

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Jesus, Son of God, Born

The bread is rising in the laundry room. It's warmer in there on top of the running dryer. The stew is simmering out the fragrance of Christmas. I added a dash of cloves, nutmeg, and a tad of molasses to the fire roasted tomatoes and a box of the chicken broth lined in rows on pantry shelf. I placed them on the soup shelf in front of the cans of Progresso Lentil Soup that no one will ever eat unless I sneak them into a homemade stew. I can't remember why I bought them.

Guitar strumming girl with the voice of an angel is not home and I'm a wee bit lonely. She's in India just touching the untouchables who haven't been touched by anyone outside the slum for longer than they can remember.

She's touching them.

I strike the match and touch small flame to wick till it takes and burns. And I think of my girl. Youngest of four. Small flame half-way around the world in a slum. Small flame touches one wick of one soul at a time with the flaming sword that proceeds from the mouth of God. Small flame lights every soul that will take the fire. And God touches those whose foreheads bear the mark of other gods. He doesn't worry about that mark; indelible tattoo touch. He cares only to touch them till soul wicks are lit and burning.

He's touching them.

The poorest of the poor. The lowest of the low. The unfit for society. The scorned and shamed. The beggars on the beach who would work but are forbidden. The filthy and lice ridden human beings who weren't considered worthy to be given a name at birth, but are called profane names all their lives.  They are the untouchables.

They live on the beach. They walk the streets. They share slum huts with several families. They had nothing, and then less than nothing, because a cyclone roared from the sea as hungry lion seeking whom it may devour, and ripping claws into shelters and crushing huts between strong jaws and shredding thatch with razor teeth, then spits thatch out with snarl,  swishes it's mouth with whatever drinking water it finds and spews it unpotable.

They were given buckets. One bucket per family. One bucket to use for everything. One bucket to provide necessity after a cyclone and I read the article from "A fishing boat that was damaged during a cyclone in Visakhapatnam, India...."

I view the photo. The fishing boat isn't damaged. It's destroyed. And with it the livelihood of the fisherman, the food for his family, and did his home survive? If not, then he and his family will join the poorest on the beach.

"Jesus, the wind and the waves obey Your voice. Buckets empty of faith get filled at wells with belief." I don't mean to accuse, but, "So, why?" does hint a tad accusatory. It does. "So why a cyclone here? Why here?" The people are days thirsty, the animals are roaming angry with hunger; the stench is sewage, death, fear, grief.

I think of another fishing boat. It wasn't destroyed, just nearly swamped by storm and terror. Men who lived on the sea, accustomed to mighty storms, now terrified of wind and waves. Was it a cyclone that raged to devour them? Maybe, but Jesus was in the boat. Yeah, He was sleeping and they had to wake Him up, but He was in the boat and He stilled the wind, smoothed the waves, and then asked the men, "Where is your faith?"

 And I think of another bucket, in the hands of another untouchable. A Samaritan woman shunned and shamed who went to the well alone. Jesus met her there, thirsting for her faith and ready to quench her unbelief. "Woman, believe Me," He said. then filled her bucket with hope and her soul with salvation.

The Performance

Visakhpatnam, India. It's where my fair-skinned, light-colored hair, hazel-green eyed girl is with one-hundred and fifty Indian children who danced in three Christmas performances on the beach attended by hundreds who need buckets of hope. They came.

Did some come with their family bucket to guard it from thievery? Did they return to where they sleep with the bucket full of hope? I know all present were given the gospel message for salvation, and each attending family member and performing child was given an orange. Mother S. was there days after the cyclone, gave out oranges and buckets and Mr. S. shored off a fight over an orange before it began.

My mind arranges words and thoughts, May slaves of sin salivate over salvation, and may they fight for the fruit of the Spirit.

"I am ruler of heaven and earth. King of all nations," says God because He is. I don't know how I've missed the obvious, but He is Ruler of heaven and earth. King of all nations. Of people.

I look at the photos in front of me. A barefoot man with nothing but the clothes on his back and a bicycle he guides through a flooded jungle of tortured tree limbs and twisted wires. A young boy wears only a shirt and climbs half naked atop the thatch of a collapsed hut amid trash, articles of clothing, and jagged metal. A woman sleeps exhausted on a propped slab of wood where her home is just flattened and the roof is scattered splinter about her. Hundreds of human beings line up in rows on the ground to eat a bowl of rice; and hundreds more sleep on makeshift shelter floors. And the mobs. There is evil in God's kingdom. There is. It's obvious. I'd like to make excuses for Him, but I can't do it because He is unapologetic. I can't defend the King who takes up no offense against what is the way He ordered it to be.

"Lord. Ruler. King! Why?" I can't get myself to ask the entire obvious , "Why is there evil in Your kingdom?" question. It hurts. And I don't think the answer will be satisfying till I see it from a fully redeemed perspective.

There is trouble.

He is King.

There is rampant vandalism on every level in the streets, homes, governments, people wind, water, sky, dry ground.

He is King.

King of earth.

King of all nations.

And how do I, really what right do I have, to question this sovereignty? I understand only by what I know of Him, and trust about Him, and observe as the way things are. And haven't they been this way for longer than earth has been in existence?

Wasn't there a most beautiful angel in heaven who would wage war against God to take His throne? Wasn't he cast out of heaven to slither on the ground? There was, and he was, and he's still slithering. He traded his beauty for ashes; his wings for a sheath of scales. And somehow in mysterious wisdom and way, the King's kingdom is being perfected and the slither is part of the sovereign plan.

I was born unlovely, in sin, into pride. But the Son of God, the Prince of Peace Son of the King of Righteousness was born to love the unlovely, save the sinner, humble the prideful and turn my ashes to beauty. It's true. He did.

"Where is your faith?"He's asks me in the rough and tumble. "Woman, believe Me," He yearns the command.

"But look at Your kingdom! Look at the pain!" I hold the photos out to Him.

"It's labor," He says. It's His perspective.

Isn't the Father's perspective always redemptive? Always all about birth and life? Can I adjust my perspective to see the pain of the nations, the people, and see every reason to hope for life? It'll take practice to see it all like this. It'll take looking at the Son and hoping because of Him.

Look at the pain, and hurt; look at the Son, and hope. I think this to myself and will be repeating it as I practice. To the Father I amaze with breath contracted tight, "You use the one whom You cast to the ground. You heard him thump hard and saw the dust gasp. Labor began.

Jesus was born of Mary. Son of God from womb of flesh. He would be baptised by John the Baptist in the river, but in a stable He was washed with a cloth no cleaner than the clothes Joseph and Mary wore, I imagine. Did Joseph present Him in victory upon palm, "Hosanna!" because he couldn't say, "This is my Son," but could say the one word that is both "Alleluia!" shout of praise and "Save, please!" cry to God for help? Hosanna means all this.

Could it be when someone, anyone from anywhere slum or suburb, manger or mansion is born again by the Spirit, and baptized because every new born needs to be washed, that the Father presents "This is now My son! My daughter!"?  It must be so, because these words give name.

"Father, The untouchables." I plead now for those I've not given a thought about before. I pray for our nation's homeless. Have served them as so many have. But the untouchables? The lower than the lowest class in India? "Oh, Father."

Woman Sleeping in Ruins

He touches them.

He touched them on the beach when my American daughter danced with one hundred and fifty Indian children in a Christmas performance. He touched them when mother S. gave the gospel message, and when oranges were placed in their hands.

Jesus, Son of God, born to touch the soul beneath the filth, lice, fleas, wounds, and the skin on bone.

Jesus, Son of God, born to save the lost.

Jesus, Son of God, born to give a name to the nameless.

Jesus, Son of God, born to give a birth date to those who don't know when they were born.

Jesus, Son of God, born to give employment to the unemployed.

 Jesus, Son of God, born to make a home in the homeless.

Jesus, Son of God, born to wash away sin with His blood as blood is washed away when a child is born.

And the Father tilts His head back, laughs joy in delight, "This is My daughter! This is My son! These are My children!"

The stable didn't smell of homemade bread, but of the Bread of Life. It wasn't bright with red and gold lights, but with the Light of the World. There was no tree with gifts on it, but there would be.

Jesus, Son of God, given.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I'm Sticking To How God's Stitched Me

PISTEUO! Connecting with God's heart
Supplement to Chapter 1
I strung words together. For three months I just stitched words together while God stitched me together and, after three months of threading like this, I've stitched a devotional together and I still have spools in every color to share. That's what the sections I call "Connecting with God's Heart" are for. They're like sewing rooms, or maybe like my laundry room where I keep spools of thread and stitching needles on the wall above the ironing board, and spare buttons on the shelf above the dryer, because I don't have a stitching room.
My laundry room is about ironing board width, but it has what I need. Room for stitching britches and hearts.
"Connecting with God's Heart" happens in every chapter. I poised my pen like threaded needle over sheets of journal and began a keepsake quilt to display every color and pattern of faith that God gave me in those three months; at least, as many as I noticed. Some of them are in each chapter.
My pen is still poised. I'm still connecting with God's heart, threading thoughts and stitching out more quilt.
It's my pisteuo quilt.
I find patches of faith and stitch them together till hope covers my life and tucks all around me. This is pisteuo. It's believing, trusting, hoping. It's living faith and undying hope.
I have a copy of my book, and I'm doing the devotional. Is that odd? Perhaps, but I started doing this long before I wrote it down. I'm devoted to living full of pisteuo because I'm changed when I stitch faith to faith.
It's simple.
I have these extra spools that never run out.
If you have my book, then you have pieces of my quilt. I've shared them in "From my Journal." I'm just not putting my needle and thread down. Not putting my pen down. Not stopping.
So here's more.  Quilt with me? Find patches of faith with me?
Spools of Thread

I spoke with God, "I want to give to those who read what I string together. I can't give them recipes every week, and You and I know I'm not a crafter."
He laughs with me, "Stick to how I've stitched you." He saw the bookmark idea. I tried and mine was sorry indeed!
"What can I give these precious people?" I asked.
"Give what I'm giving you." He says it so simply that I wonder why I didn't think of this.
He's given me these spools of thread on my laundry room wall. They've been there for ever, but today they look a lot like what stitches faith to hope, and my heart to God's.
I can't see hope, but maybe I can see its stitches.
written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Guess What I Found in my Closet?

It's not natural. Not based on how things are going, or not going, or on expectations that carry heavy consequences if not met; and I think of Mary heavy with child upon return to her hometown after spending months with her cousin Elizabeth.

Mary wasn't the only one heavy. I imagine the heavy hearts of her parents. The heavy faces looking at her, heavy with accusation. The heaviness in Joseph's heart making his steps heavy and heavier still because he knew the consequences, heavy as stones and dishonorable death in the streets she grew up in. Did he ask God for supernatural deliverance from the law that was killing his heart? I imagine he did, because God gave it to him in a dream.

I suppose Mary could have lied to save her life. Could have said she was accosted by a Roman soldier. Could have used a lie to manipulate into the natural realm a truth that was unnatural. It wouldn't have been the first time the truth has been lied about in order to save oneself by giving others what they want to hear. But she didn't.

Was it because she had a greater hope? A hope that she was willing to die for? A hope that she was willing to be disgraced for uttering out loud and true? A hope that denied the expected, denied the natural, and dashed the hopes of others who couldn't believe the very evidence of her extended belly and couldn't hear the confirmation in her words, of the word of God? He told them in prophecy that this would happen; "Behold, the virgin  shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

"An angel told me the Holy Spirit would come upon me and I am carrying the Son of God, and His name will be called Immanuel," was the explanation. I don't know her exact words, but I'm sure it went something like that.

Why didn't they believe her; those who knew her character best? Why didn't they hear the prophetic words of hope from ages past in the words she spoke? Why couldn't they put it together? Was it because hope is supernatural and holds it's own under the heaviest weights ever known or yet to be known? Isn't lesser hope unworthy to be called true hope? Wouldn't it just be called a reasonably expected outcome based on calculations of what is natural, normal in a logical course of events? Isn't true hope much greater than this? It is.

Mary Heavy with Immanuel
Mary kept many things quiet in her heart. How much is heard by those who practice this? I don't know, but I do know that my heart settles quieter when I close my mouth. I just can't ponder and pontificate at the same time. And when I believe God has just spoken something outside of nature, like "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and His name shall be called 'God with Us,'" I keep it quiet in my heart for as many months/years as is needed till the wisdom of God is magnified in me and I'm large enough to speak it with discretion. 

I've learned something about the wisdom of God: it's foolishness to the natural world, and the natural will collide against it just hard as hail stones and cold as ice, so I need to spend a long while in the supernatural. Let the natural collide as it will; it can't touch the supernatural happening inside where soul is as womb and heart is faithful and blood is life.

Mary left town before she showed and gained faith on faith, hope on hope because Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist, the presenter of the Truth, the Way and the Life, in a womb too old.

I don't leave town, but I leave the room and go to my closet. Sometimes a real closet, and these days I go there thanking Him for faith gift real as the gifts I kneel in the middle of. They are waiting till Christmas morning.

I'm excited to place each gift into each hand. I'll glow inside soft and warm because gift, light of the world, glowed holy inside Mary's soft and warm, was given into the palm-up hold of my heart, and I know God is excited to give faith on faith, hope on hope to me right now in the hours in this closet where gifts wait.

Hours of anxiety during the night. An inner rampage that emerged from I don't know where in the lateness. But I've done this before and, yeah, I've been fear swamped and this vessel's gone down ship wrecked, but not anymore. Not anymore, because I've spent a long while quietly gathering God's heart like oxygen into mine and now I breathe His first prophecied name, "Immanuel. God with us. With me."

I breathed His name in the night. Four count inhale, "Im-man-u-el," and four count exhale, "God is with me."  And guess what? I am quiet. I slept. I am in the closet early, surrounded by gifts.

From upstairs I hear what the voice of glow sounds like. It says, "Mom!" and sounds all happy. That's what glow sounds like to my ears this morning. "Mom!", because this young woman who is my daughter is still little girl excited to shout melodramatic glow from the top of the stairs, "Guess what! Guess what I found in the deep recesses of my closet?" Yeah, that's exactly how she said it.

"What?" I shout from the depths of my closet where I'm finding things, too. I glow now, "Thank you," to the God who is with me and I wait to hear what she found.

"My black boots! And they don't even smell anymore!" Her laughter slides happy down the banister.

I laugh in my closet. I laugh because isn't faith just so delightfully real? Boots! And they don't smell anymore! It's laughable and I hug the moment.

They smelled. They did! But who wouldn't smell after walking the endless blocks in a New York City winter that's melted on the sidewalks and soaked everything but rubber?  And, no. No. Rubber was not on her fashionable feet.

Black Boots

I go to her and we meet at the stairs, grinning because we know the whole story. She points her booted foot straight out, "I guess they needed a year to dry out so that they don't smell anymore!" She celebrates it out and models her melon-hued loose-knit sweater with a black knit infinity scarf on top, black jeans on bottom with, of course, the black boots that walked New York City blocks.

"Smashing!" I shake my head as she twirls all fashion.

She glows out the front door, if that's possible. It is for her.

I guess they needed a year, I think over her words because they stuck. I guess I need time, too, I ponder quiet because there are many things I keep quiet in my heart. 

I've still got "boots" in my closet. Things that kind of smell, still, because shame is dank and I've shoved dank into the far back recesses. The thing is, boots that smell like shame don't dry out till they're placed in the light.

Well, when I catch a whiff of damp boot I don't shove it further back as I used to, because doesn't Immanuel know about smelly boots and stinky feet and city blocks, suburban sidewalks and every other walk in life? And isn't His presence known by those who actually wash His feet with grateful tears of glow because hope has been fulfilled and He has washed the stench of shame away and dried in His light, boots, soaked till all that offended is redeemed? 

Who hasn't walked where life has just melted like a puddle on a city sidewalk and soaked in smell? Yet, what things dank did fill His baby nostrils from first breath? Everything that fills dark stables that remain damp long after precipitation and perspiration. His name is Immanuel? Praise God, it is!

Does He smile and come to me on the stairs while I point out my boots to Him? He does. And it doesn't matter what they smelled like, and it doesn't matter that I perspired anxiety in the dark, because all that matters is His name: Immanuel.

I'm saying something like what I imagine Mary said, only I say it as a prophecy fulfilled; "The Holy Spirit is upon me and I am carrying the Son of God, the Savior of the world and of me, within."

Immanuel was born!

Smelly boots? Shame? Anxiety? Stench of all that's melted and soaked too damp to ever loose the odor?

Well, Immanuel! Immanuel! Immanuel!

My daughter just glowed out the door in redeemed boots and I'm ready to start wrapping the gifts on my closet floor because Immanuel is wrapped all around me.

His presence is my present.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I'm Taking the Flip-Flops Off and Lacing Up the Hiking Boots

Light places, and thin as air moments as light as winter's sun that touches thin and reaches long and from futher away than summer sun's bright arm and abbreviated reach at the peak of day.

Thin places don't declare their presence. They are the moments when the presence of God may be felt, heard, but in a quiet that is thin as air; and in delicate, in whisper, in awareness only. They seem to turn sideways thin and slip away when my presence is announced. They are wild and shy.

Thin and wild and shy, yet full and present. I notice them when I am full, aware and present to the now.

Isn't the near presence of God most noticed in the present moment? Is this why He calls Himself "I AM?" Isn't I AM noticed when I am aware of Him? Aware in the now moment? Awake in the ordinary? I notice Him when I am just present in His presence. I notice Him in moments so fleeting they slip past thin as veil between steps. Between one ordinary step and another, one ordinary place and another.

Mostly I'm unaware of these moments because I'm still slowing my step to live aware. Why is it so hard to live one moment at a time and to live aware? It's not as if moments demand more time than I can give them. A moment is, after all, just a moment. And if God is the I AM presence in every moment, and He is, then shouldn't that change the way I live? It should, and it is. But it takes me a long time to get to slow, and in the mean time I step all over moments and walk on unaware.

Ironically, I can traverse unaware of the presence of God right as I intend to seek Him. It happens when I declare my presence and my purpose and the moment slips past me in my too bright loud declarations in the presence of the bright One who has been unobtrusively waiting to quietly be noticed. Isn't worship most full in full entrance into awareness of God, and in full exit from hearing myself announce my arrival and my desire to seek Him? He's already there! Where have I been? Isn't this the way it is, really? It is. I'm sure of it. Can I let it be the way it is?

Can I live quiet and walk confident because God tells me that He is omnipresent. Can I just trust that He is? Perhaps I miss His presence in the very effort to feel His presence, because perhaps the effort itself hinders my heart from being silent in my flesh before the Lord.

I reach for Him with an arm too short. I forget how holy great He. I reach truncated and just too bright loud, and miss the subtle presence of God in His long reach. His arm is not too short.

Can I quiet and let Him reach? What if I ordinarily sought Him in everywhere ordinary? Isn't this where the most holy can most normally happen? In the most ordinary and repetitive moments that are so everyday "I can practically do this in my sleep" kind of familiar? Can I go through my days with a quiet spirit that watches aware and is sensitive to the subtle breathing of God?

I can. I practice this. The practice itself keeps me sane because I'm prone to the insanity of doubting God. And the practice is bonding me to the reality of faith. There is a bond strong and real between quietness and faith.

Morning at the Window

I pad soft in night gown to the closet. I can do this in my sleep and sometimes I nearly do. Morning light hangs at the window like a veil thin and grey and God reaches in through the light. I feel His presence from soul to feet. The soles of my feet are bare, and so is the soul of me. Bare. And bared thin before the One who breathes, "Fear the Lord." That's all. A flutter of God breath that takes mine away. I just stand there in the grey and the thin light, and think, I'm like a moth drawn to the flame. I see the fire rising, pink sun's glow, long and at far slant twining through pecan grove. Help me, God, because I can't help being drawn to Your glory.

I watch the grey subtly wash to pink against the pane, and the grove quickly turns burnt orange. I will be sacrificed on the altar of glory, I think it willingly in this aware place where light presses in, and I'm drawn out till my soul bares thin what I'm drawn to and, at the same time, fear of the Lord is drawn from me in elongated quiet.

Grey pinks up like life ressurrected and I think I'm watching morning sacrificed on an altar of wood in a grove of glory. Sacrifice and ressurrection; it's beautiful and disquieting  I gaze quiet and just watch the most holy truth, the reason for all hope, given once again in the most ordinary and I wonder, Why do believers-why do I- just wash pink, "Fear the Lord" to "Be in awe of the Lord?"

I ask, "Why am I confused about fearing You?"

"It's because of the grey." He nods toward the window where the grey was, and I feel unsettled because I know we're talking about the sacrifice of Jesus and I remember that He is also called the Bright and Morning Star. It's an awesome and aweful truth to reach through because I just watched grey turn pink, morning burn off fast in the wood, and the morning stars go out.

"You are an awesome God," and then, "You are an aweful God, too." He commands awe from anyone who knows the slightest thing about Him; but He is a God who draws full awe from those who stand in their night garb with bare feet and a soul willing to be bared unsettled on an altar of glory as they realize that He is terrifying consuming glory and holiest God.

I can't help it; I will follow Him. I can't help it because he has breathed holy and alive into my spirit and I have taken His breath in. I try to live His life breath till the words "aweful, terrifying, consuming" and "beautiful, gentle, merciful, good," aren't contractitory to me. I have decided that I will not apologize for Him or try to explain Him. I just know Him.


I enter my closet and I'm short of time. It's cold outside. I reach for the nearest warm thing, the quickest foot wear, and leave the closet tugging the drawstring of my husband's sweats to keep them from falling off, a pair of flip-flops, and praying against any reason that would require me to get out of the van between home and the high school. I receive a "Really, Mom?" look from high school junior who has suddenly discovered fashion. I shrug out a grin and shove her brown lunch sack at her. We run out the door and the front walkway is misnamed. It's a run way.

Well, flip-flops aren't for running and they're not for cold weather and they're not for when the pink polish on my toes is chipped. Never for that. I look down at them and pledge to fix them. Today. And pink? Really? In December?

"And to think I was wondering why I get confused about fearing You!" What can I say to Him? One look at the likes of me this morning and no one would wonder why I get confused about anything. They'd just assume I do.

And what if I was heard just now saying, "Fear God! Fear Him! Tremble before Him! He's terrifying," and in the same breath, "Therefore, run to Him!"? Well, I'd have to change my flip-flops because they are meant for strolling the pavement and the beach and suburban summers. Not for breaking trail. "Run to God, the all glorious and terrifying" are trail-blazing words.

Well, I'm all girl. Yeah, I know. But inside there's armor, and I haven't lost my mind in a helmut. I'm in the soundest state of mind and plumb crazy for God. I do say things like, "He's aweful, and He's wonderful. He's terrifying, and I want to spend every moment in His presence. I fear Him, and I entrust my life to Him." The truth is, I have no idea what He's going to ask of me next, but I know what He's asking right now, and right now is where I gather faith as steady as steel-toed hiking boots for tomorrow's hope.

The more I practice this steady faith walk, the less my faith flip-flops. Loose faith snaps the backside of the bare sole with every step, but a bared soul blazes trail in quietness and confidence. A bared soul wears hiking boots and laces up quietness and faith to confidence and hope.

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth

Monday, December 1, 2014

Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful

Beautiful pisteuo!

Beautiful verb, "to believe, to trust, to hope!"

Beautiful that faith is so uncomplicated! I can know it with the good five senses God gave me. It's evidence; daily substance, and I wonder if God means for each sense to be used for the sake of faith as much as for any other reason.

Isn't He the practical God who formed flesh with clay and then breathed life into it so that the five senses would work? He is.

Isn't it worth slowing down to use them like this? It is.

For me, it's worth it to slow down, because slow is the only way I know to live full. I want to live full of faith, full of thanks, full of grace, and full of hope. And I've been given five senses for that purpose. May I use them for nothing less than to live in full awareness of the evidence for hope that is not yet seen, because isn't a hope full life a faith full life?

Use the five senses God gives for anything less and become short-sighted; and feel less, hear just tid-bits of truth, and be just partially aware. I practice using my senses to live full. If that means slowing down, and it does, then I will. I am. And I find myself wondering why I've been so bent to race against time?

I know why. I've been the "Let's get 'em turtles racing!" mom who also has experienced some success in her younger days herding cats. But frankly, I can't race time and gather faith; and I doubt anyone can. Time can seem slow and faith can seem scattered, and gathering faith takes time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time. A lot of looking long, feeling long, listening long.

Seems hope growns bigger in the lengths taken to find faith.

I used to whip out my spiritual binoculars to see as far past the present as possible. But not anymore. No; because the more I practice focusing on the moment, the less I want to race beyond it. It's true. Even when the moment is hard. There is beautiful grace for great hope when I feel long the hard, and feel it slow.

Hard things have a great presence in very beautiful hope. May I not pull back, but feel even the hard things, slow. I don't feel that courageous. I know I'm not; but somehow I'm doing it. And somehow I don't want it any other way; because somehow hope is getting big. Just very big.

So I gather evidence. On purpose. With my senses.

Beautiful that the first face the first man saw was his Father's bent expectantly over him!

Beautiful that the first voice he heard was his Father's!

Beautiful that the first touch he felt was by the hand that created him!

I wonder what the Father's first words were when Adam inhaled and opened his eyes? I wonder what Adam's first words were? Surely they had everything to do with this moment so much in this world that Adam probably still smelled like dust.

When did faith became, for me, other worldly? Too spiritual for much earthly good? When did I start confusing faith with hope? I wonder these things, too, because yeah, hope is unseen; but faith isn't. It isn't! Faith is very much seen!

I need to see, taste, hear, smell, and touch faith. And the beautiful thing is, I can. It's how God made me to know Him by this faith, and to please Him with it, and to gain a testimony because of it. And this happens nowhere else but here. Today. Now. In this skin. On this ground.


My testimony of faith is going to happen on suburban pavement that sometimes gets cracked and mended with tar.

It's going to be gained at the cutting board in a kitchen where the dishwasher hasn't been unloaded and the clean knife I need isn't in the knife drawer.

My testimony of faith is gained while I lean over a heaping basket of laundry and extend my leg behind me for balance because I have to stretch the length of the laundry room to pull clean clothes from the dryer. I gain testimonies of faith like that more times than I'd like to admit.

And I gain a testimony of faith when I've forgetten what I came to Kroger to purchase because the rasberries are on a 10 for $10 sale and no matter that it's November and rasberries are out of season. Part of my testimony of faith is that I live a tad out of season. I'm like the neighbor who is raking september leaves in his red Christmas pajamas. What does this have to do with gaining a testimony of faith? Live out of season, and relate to others who are slow, and find a readiness to give an answer for faith, in and out of season. I don't know how it works, but it does.

I also gain a testimony of faith when I walk this grinning fool of a yellow dog who is, truly, my therapy dog. We walk up and down the neighborhood streets and I shuffle my feet through the raspy dry leaves that cover the sidewalks and say, "Thank You. You remembered my girlhood dream to wade through brightest, crispest autumn leaves and hear them whisper in the scatter, and to watch them romp ahead of me like happy children racing the wind and to feel them chasing me from behind!" And sometimes I glance over my shoulder at them to make sure I'm being followed by leaf feet and none other. Sometimes leaves walk loud behind me.

And I gain testimony beneath the waxing moon on those walks when the stars above testify of the unmatched twinkle in God's eyes as He watches me. I look up and bless Him because faith is so tangible that it seems like the stars are closer than usual.

How else but like this is a testimony of faith gained? And how did I not get this till now? How did I miss that faith is given and  not achieved?

I get  it, now. I just look for faith, gladly. Oh, gladly! Faith is the gift I look for expectantly as if everyday is the day before Christmas and this lil' bit of girl disguised in the frame of a woman is  searching for faith behind closed closet doors and beneath beds before Christmas morning! This one believes she'll find the faith she expects to find every day because she'll turn the house upside down in her search for faith and her watch for hope. Look for one, and just watch for the other. The looking trains the eyes to watch.

Night Sky

I see, touch, peel back the layer of skin, and smell the green seed beneath it. It is one seed hanging in one cluster of many clusters that drape heavy on the backyard tree that leans so heavily against the fence that fence pole is losing to tree trunk. But these emerald clusters bowing because they are heavy, and heavier because it rained last night and the drops of rain cling to the green, and the morning sun and breezy gusts transform the air itself into green glitter drops that split into a million sun shards.

I look.

I touch the droplets filled with light and pluck a green berry that holds the hope of spring within. The green will birth purple and the hard seed will become as veil soft as crepe.

Faith defines hope. Clarifies it. And I search out faith for this reason. too. I search for faith so that what I hope for is not vague to me.

I smell the sweet pungency and what can I say except, "Thank You"?  It's all I can say, and it's enough, because faith just elicits thanks.

I try to poke my fingernail between green pods. I want to go deeper and see more. But it shoots out slippery from between my thumb and index finger.

I would find it later, this bit of green substance so pungent, at the bottom of my coffee cup. "Ha!" I didn't really say it to God, but still He answered.


And faith flavored my coffee today!

written by: Carolyn-Elizabeth