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I make my home in the One Who makes His home in me. This is where ordinary days meet faith and hope and where my heart finds joy in God's heart. Join me? The back gate is open.
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"Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him, from Isaiah 53:10, is the
hardest verse in the Bible for me to read.
"How could You? How can this be
true?" I face the words; because I don't understand God at all sometimes.
I think I know Him, and then I read something like this and it doesn't fit and
I don't want it to fit because it's flat up, palms out jolting. It is.
But who am I to bleat "How could
You?" when He's presenting Himself with no pretense right there in the
words written across the thin page and hoping my heart will begin to feel like
the parchment it is?
I'm sheep. Just sheep with a sheepskin
heart all parchment. And parchment is sheep skin. It's tough and strong, and
prepared so that it may be written on and maybe it's woolly nappy of me to ask,
but really, "How is it true that it pleased You to bruise Him?"
I ask it and risk hearing His answer. I
want to hear what He says; I do. But I'm also afraid to ask, because what if
there's a part of Him that I really don't like? I want desperately to like Him.
Not just love Him because He's God and my Father and all, but to like
So why couldn't the verse say something
like, "The Father took no pleasure in bruising His Son; no pleasure in
putting Him to grief"? It'd be a more likable thing to read about Father.
It would, but then I'd have a tissue thin heart for easy things to be written on
and maybe it's because I am as a sheep that anything less than a parchment
heart wouldn't be hardy enough. Or satisfying.
Paper hearts tear apart easily and tears
dissolve them. But a sheep heart? Cry all over parchment, and it'll absorb and
expand. So I have one because God knows I bleat out the tears sometimes and I
need a heart that won't fall apart for it. Seems to me that God would rather my
heart be strengthened by the tears; would rather my heart expand when it's
soaked so that what He writes on it is magnified in the expansion and not
Perplexed, uncertain, kind of nervous, I ask, "How could it
have pleased You to bruise Your Son?"
The question hangs out there a thick
I read the words again. I read the next
He answers. "I made His soul an
offering for sin, but not without His agreement. I didn't force my will on Him,
rather He and I share the same Spirit and Our Spirit brought Our desire
Yeah, I'm glad I'm a sheep with parchment
for a heart because I'm hanging onto His words and can't breath right now
anticipating what He's going to say next.
"Together We desired to give Our
Spirit to the sons of men, the daughters of women, to unite them in shared
desire to build their families and Our Kingdom." He says it without
batting an eye as if this answer has everything obvious to do with my question.
"Say what?" I turn pages to
Hebrews chapter ten because that's been written on this parchment heart, too.
"Then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.'"
God and Son of God shared His will; and
His soul was made an offering for sin.
I absorb this. My heart expands. His word
is scripted on this thin-as-tissue page in front of me and on this parchment
heart inside of me. I soak it up. My heart grows larger, and like that His word
is magnified till I must ask about a mystery that's growing large too.
"Isn't it the husband's will to give his name? The father's desire that
his name be given to his children's children? Isn't the father pleased to see
his days be prolonged through his seed?"
"He shall see His seed, He shall
prolong His days;" His answer takes me back to Isaiah 35:10 and we speak
to one another like this. Hebrews and Isaiah.
Idon't know the mystery of the relationship
between the Father and Son as it models the husband and wife relationship as
well as the parent to child and child to parent relationship. But it's
consistent that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit relationship be the model for
I think out loud to God, "It doesn't
please a good father to bruise his son; or a good husband to bring grief to his
wife. It doesn't. Yet, a father is pleased when a son bears his good name and
labors to see the children his father adopted prosper the name."
"And the pleasure of the Lord shall
prosper in His hand," He responds as verse ten continues. It's all there.
We just haven't had this conversation before.
I take it further; "What about the
pleasure when a wife bears down and births her husband's seed?"
"He shall see the labor of His soul,
and be satisfied." The Lord continues line by line this conversation
that's already been scripted on this page spread out flat open on the bedspread
where I'm kneeling.
"What about the desire uniting a
husband and wife? Is it like the Holy spirit uniting You and Your Son, and Your
Son and His Bride?" It is, somehow. It's mysterious, but I know it
And a shared holy desire transcends the
pain required to see the desire prosper. For it to be satisfied.
So I read Isaiah 35:10-11 differently now
than I read it before this conversation. "Yet it pleased the Father to
bruise His Son. He has put His Son to grief. When the Father makes His Son's
soul an offering for sin, He shall see His Father's seed and the Son's days
shall be prolonged through the Father's seed. His days shall be prolonged,
lengthened beyond His years on earth, through the seed that carries the name of
the Father. And this prosperity given, placed in the hand of His Son, is
pleasing to the Father. The Son shall see the labor of His soul; and the Father
shall see the labor of His soul, the joint labor of their souls united in
Spirit, and be satisfied. By the Son's knowledge many shall be justified. Many
shall bear His Father's name and character, for the Son shall bear their
My heart pours out His word like this
because the parchment is swollen and God's word is magnified in the delivery.
Jesus assures, "I will not leave you as orphans. I will send
the Holy Spirit to you."
I'm slow, considering how many times I've
read these words. All I can say is that reading scripture isn't the same thing
as having a conversation with the Author of it.
Well of course now it's obvious. Now that
I get it. An orphan is alone, left in this world.
"You will not be orphaned,"
Jesus told His disciples before He went back home; and He speaks only what the
Father has already spoken. He says so.
I'm absorbing this. My heart expands, and
it's like seeing what words were written small on a deflated balloon grow, one
heart-beat, one lung full, one breath at a time until the balloon is expanded
full and the writing is made big enough to read. The words are magnified in the
expansion. That's how I see it. Only my heart isn't rubber. And it's not a paper
balloon that can't expand or absorb anything without disintegration. No. My
heart is like parchment. It has to be. Anything less isn't fit to magnify God's
"Your heart, Jesus." An old
truth is looking kinda new and taking my breath in sharp. "Your heart did
burst. It did burst, on the cross, magnifying the Father's word."
I absorb this, too, and then say it again
larger, "Your heart burst in the sacrifice You came to be."
"The Father and I are united."
He's telling me that He does nothing on His own, and neither will those
children of the Father, siblings of the begotten first-born Son who labored out
physically as His Spirit panted to deliver children to the Father and siblings
for Himself and His body for us that we might be His body. It's beyond me.
"You are mysterious. Y'all are a
mysterious united few." The mystery-the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
mystery-isn't really getting solved in my heart, but that's okay because my
heart is getting bigger. And isn't my heart more about magnifying God than
about solving the mystery of Him? It is.
"You will not be orphaned. I will send to you the Holy Spirit. Do as
I have done, only this. Do only as the Father has commanded." What He says
"It does, Lord. It does sound
daunting." My sheepskin heart wavers out "Baa."
"Just as the Father and I are united
in Spirit and in will, so you, too." He assures the likes of me with the
tenderness of a sheep lover.
I absorb and somehow the bigger His word
becomes in my heart, the less daunting it is to do His command. I want to do
His command. It's in me, and getting larger in me, to do His command.
"I'm not orphaned." The
statement rolls around the surface of my heart and soaks slow into the
parchment. "I'm not alone."
"My Spirit is on you." He
breaths a lung full and my heart expands. "You will carry forth the
Father's name and your days will be prolonged through your spiritual
children." He says it so true and plain I can't doubt it.
"I'll labor for this, Lord," I
have an inkling what I'm getting into when I say this. "I'm willing to be
bruised in the labor."
I can say it because I have a parchment
heart that has expanded like a balloon filled with the breath of the Holy
Spirit and that magnifies the Word of God written on it.
And I can say it because I've been bruised
laboring to deliver four flesh and blood children of a united will with my
husband to deliver his seed.
And I can say it because it's been said of
the One I follow, "He shall see His seed;" and "He shall see the
labor of His soul,and be
"It pleased You to bruise Your
Son." I can say it now. It's less foreign sounding every time I speak it.
The words are written on the parchment that is my heart and I wonder, did the
bruised Son have the greater part of the Father's pleasure? Maybe, because there's
a strange pleasure when pain and grief are made right by a greater pleasure.
The bruised Son proved it.
"Imagnify You, God. I magnify Your word made
big in my heart this morning."
My heart is forever expanded.
The hardest verse for me in the Bible, the
verse that made me wince and just cringe out, "No! It can't be
that!"is now a strange pleasure that's okay to feel.
The Father is pleased. The Son bore my
The old stepping stones trudge through soggy leaves and snow melt. They mark the way between shrubs and once upon a time I was going to place a garden bench there. I never did. Now the shrubs are large; there isn't room for a bench, and these old stones have lain gardenbed-ridden for so long that the earth sags beneath them like an ancient mattress.
"You know," I begin, "I've got aged stones on a ancient path leading nowhere and," I tilt my head toward the leaf bags lined up all tough and stuffed with soggy leaves and, well, with the remains of rose canes gone wild. I fold my arms around my middle. God knows what I'm nodding toward. He knows the story.
"Yep," He nods back, "you've got that going on out here, too."
"And You heard," I squint tears back because too many have fallen this morning, "You heard, what was said about me. To me."
He squints back, because He did hear and He knows it hurt.
"Is it true? What was said, is it still true?" I stepped on toes this morning. I didn't mean to. I really didn't mean to. I meant to for my heart to be heard . It wasn't. It was exposed and thought I wore armor, not egg shell. I thought I'd buckled on the boots of gospel truth and true peace and I don't recall taking them off. "Is there still shell around my heart?" I don't want there to be. Don't want others to feel they have to tip-toe around me lest I break and they're crunching egg shell beneath their feet.
"I know it used to be true." It was. "But, Lord, is it still true?" I'm standing on this stone wondering if I left a heap of broken egg shell where I tried not to cry, but did.
He doesn't answer my question. "Let's redirect this stone pathway."
"I'll go get my gloves."
The stones are wedged by time and by this soil I call "clamudirt." Clay-mud-dirt, pronounced a lot like "cluttered."
I pry the stone up just enough to see if there's a snake or recluse living there. I've disturbed them before and yeah, I check because I don't trust life on a path going nowhere. It's a cluttered mix of once upon a time plans that don't happen because time goes on and other things happen, and shrubs grow up, and eggs shells crack, and leaves get raked into dry piles and then get snowed on before they get bagged.
And there's more. I am branch grafted into the holy root; and I'm clay, and somehow the holy grows right out of me and somehow I branch out of the holy, and may I not deceive myself.
May I bear Spirit fruit from holy root no matter what my soul feels when life prunes hard, because soul fruit will go rebel. It'll look all spiritual blossom and belief, but the proof is in the pruning and I need a mess of grace when I try to live out of the name I was grafted into.
Walkway and snake, rose and thorn, armor and egg shell, branch and clay.
I call it clamudirt.
"This pathway was going to lead to a quiet bench," I heft the stone, brace it against my waist and waddle a few steps to the right. "Here?" I ask because I don't know where to begin a new walkway.
"A little to your left. Now back up. There!" He knows where to place the first stone. Smack in the middle of clamudirt. Well, aren't first steps like this sometimes? Messy beauty and nervous hope?
The ground is gooey enough to raze it with the stone itself and I'm saved a trip back to the garage to find the shovel.
My arms strain and my neck sinews strain. I muscle goo till it piles a few inches on all four sides of the square stone. I'm bearing the weight, pushing out a footprint, and "You know, Lord," I step back to admire the first step forward, "I think I've labored like this before."
"Hmm," He knows I have. I've pushed four pairs of feet out of this bit of clamudirt that I am. And they've made footprints and pathways across this very yard, in this garden they helped plant, and they've left indelible marks on the carpet and on me.
"Let's go get another stone from that old path," He's intent on this and I'm kind of wandering down memory lane.
I didn't plan on laying out a new walkway this morning. I'm not dressed for it. I didn't expect to do more than bag damp leaves heavy with snow melt. My blue flip-flops are sogged and my bare toes are mud caked. And does my soul have fingernails? It does. I know it does because I've dug them in and hung by them before. I've had to do this. I've hung by soul-nails onto the Life for dear life, but today I dig through cluttered life. I dig up the old walkway and lay down a new one.
Dirt gets under the fingernails, gloves or not, because that's what happens when the way of heaven above is done on this earth. And we, God and I, are laying out a new walkway that goes somewhere.
He tells me where to place the next stone, and I deliver one stone at a time into this big stone called Earth.
"Where are we going?" I really don't know exactly. And I don't know if I have enough old stones to get there. "Are we going to run out?" I lean back and hug the fifth stone against me because it's heavy in tired arms.
"Okay. Now place this one right there." He's still not answering my questions. "Now give it a nudge." We're turning a corner. "Nudge it more to the riiight," He leans to the right because He's feeling it while I make the adjustment. "Perfect!"
I can see where this path is going and I'm intimidated. "It's going to the barren place, Lord, and I don't know how to fill it in." I miss the glory days when there were enough hours of sunlight and the roses grew into the names they were given at the grafting-American Beauty, Joseph's Coat, and Pinata.
I kneel on this turning stone and pack it into the ground. I'm quiet, but my soul isn't, because I was nudged kind of hard enough to press out tears where egg shells fell this morning. And really I shed a few more out here just all clamudirt. Yet God is out here, too, and He shows me my path.
He shows me my path.
"Go your own way, and loose who you are; go nowhere, and lose direction. But go My way, and find yourself; go where I go, and find your way."
My soul quiets, hums, as this realizations settles in and I remember an old church camp song. "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." I hum it.
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." I sing the words.
"When I feel afraid, and think I've lost my way, still, You're right there beside me," I look at the barren place, rise to my feet and hum is anthem declared, "Nothing will I fear as long as You are near," and I feel His presence solid as the stone beneath my feet and rounding a bend.
"We're going somewhere!" I'm not intimidated anymore. I still don't know what's going to fill the bare place, but I'm not intimidated by it and this old camp song is the word of God. I retrieve my iPhone from the top of a leaf bag and google the song. It's from Psalm 119, and His word is heaven on earth just so dirt-under-the-fingernails wise to me. "Let's go get another stone from the old path!"
I lay the last stone. The walkway ends where the barren begins as if it had been drawn up in a garden plan. Maybe it was. "Now what?" I ask.
"Let's go get that bright blue raised garden bed. And the red plastic chairs from the patio. And," He continues but I catch His enthusiasm and interrupt.
"Oh! And the chiminea! We can put that in the middle of those stumps where the ground is flat bare!"
"Hmm," His eyes are lit warm as if the chiminea is burning pecan wood and we're roasting marshmallows around it singing church camp songs.
"Would it be ridiculous to place the old kitchen chairs beneath the magnolia tree?" I'm getting carried away. "I know. The chairs are padded, and the wood is weak and the backs are cracked, but, still?"
"Still," He picks up where I leave off, "they would be beautiful there! And your motto for them always been, 'Let's get as much mileage out of these as we can before they break.'"
"Haha! True!" And now that I'm fifty and freely using the wedding china for hamburgers, "Let's get as much mileage out of life as we can before I break" is motto!
We do it. We fill the barren place with colorful chairs and pots to be filled with flowers. We string up from peach tree branches solar lit mason jars that store up the hours of sun too short for roses but long enough for firefly lighting.
We hang wind chimes that sing and a hummingbird feeder because we invite life.
And the fire of the chiminea, the gathering place where marshmallows will be roasted and songs sung and where laughter will just laugh is in the center of the bare place; in the center of the rose stumps I burned to ashen knobs. We placed large flat stones beside them and will paint the word "believe" on one of them, "trust" on the next, and "hope" on the third because to believe and to trust is to have faith enough to never loose hope no matter what. This is my life word, pisteuo, defined. I've written books about it and I try to live it every day because, live pisteuo and life is full.
"It's not bare anymore; not this barren place and not life," I put words to my thoughts.
"I am the resurrection and the life." He spoke these words when Lazarus died and his absence was a bare place in his sisters' every day lives and their hearts shattered like egg shells. And Jesus' too. His heart shattered because their's did. He wept. They wept. Then Jesus showed them the meaning of who He is.
"Take the stone away," He said. I hear it differently now as I sit on the red chair and listen to wind chime song. I hear it, "Let's redirect this pathway."
They lifted the stone away and Lazarus was raised from the dead. "Lazarus, come forth!" Jesus said it strong. "And he who died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go. (John 11:44)."
"I've come to give beauty for ashes." He speaks Isaiah 63 to me.
"I've come to heal the brokenhearted." Is He referring to the egg shells from this morning?
"I've come to proclaim liberty." Is He reminding me that I'm not who I used to be?
He says such things and it's like spreading grass seed over a lifetime of clamudirt.
PISTEUO! Connecting with God's Heart Supplement to Chapter 5
Fallen leaves are a messy lot. Not the gussied up kind, flouncing fall colors and spinning through the air like little girls showing off their newest skirt till they collapse to the ground in a dizzy heap of laughter. No, not that kind. But the kind that are half melted on the patio, brown mush because it rained-sleeted-snowed on them and I can't rake them or sweep them because they'd just smear like mud. There's the fall, and there's fallen but, "Bless this mess, I'm not the one who made it!"
I try to keep it neat and organized; try to keep it together. Life, that is. And my kitchen. And the laundry room. And, uh, my closet. Well okay, and the entryway by the front door where I've placed a revolving shoe rack but the only shoes on it are the shoes that rarely see daylight or feel the ground beneath the sole or hug feet that'll take them for a walk. The other shoes gather at the foot of the stairs to gab about where they've been and what they've stepped in, and happily, they generally keep it to the wood floor.
Yeah, life happens and sometimes its real pretty and sometimes it's not.
Sometimes the daffodils bloom and never get snowed on because spring is organized.
Sometimes kitchen chairs break and the new chairs are half-way out of the boxes, half assembled, and half stacked between the dining room and the kitchen table.
Sometimes the blender lid pops off because I forget the law of heat expansion, or whatever it's called, that guarantees hot liquid will expand and when it's blending boiled kale, leeks, and potatoes on the puree setting it'll explode and soup preparations will stop because I'm standing on the kitchen counter wiping green from the ceiling and on down the cupboards while yellow therapy dog cleans the floor.
Thing is, life can't be contained any more than soup in a blender, though it's big business in this world of stuff to try. The Container Store comes to mind. And the coupons I get in the mail offering to professionally organize my closets. Only, the stuff I'd need to purchase to organize my stuff just would be more to stuff behind closet doors. And I'd really like to keep the doors. They're the best part of my closet. I get to close them; and frankly, I have other closet doors I like to keep shut because there's stuff behind them that I don't want to sort out. But somethings can't be shut in or shut out and kept together at the same time. They just can't. I've tried and all that happens is I get beaned by a skeleton.
Yeah, skeletons in the closet. Leave them there too long and they start rattling. I've heard my thoughts rattle. My insides can rattle till, well, the lid pops off and I'm cleaning up after my attitude. My nerves, too. They can rattle till I'm half-way contained, half-way assembled, half stacked between two places and the tipping point.
Yet, here's something. "Prophesy," God says, "to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord' (Ezekiel 37:6)."
Hear the word of the Lord. Hear the truth. Speak the truth. That's what it means to prophecy.
Prophecy the truth to skeletons and guess what? They stop rattling.
Speak God's word to dry bones, and they won't fit in the closet places anymore.
Prophecy the breath of life to them, and their first words will be words of life.
And here's something else. Somehow God's sovereignty is messy.
I think I make messes? Ha! My messes are spilt milk compared to the messes God makes. No, I don't make messes worth much more than a paper towel.
He makes messes; and I can't take the credit for messes anymore than I can take credit for the clean up. Yeah, I mess up; but that's not the same thing as making messes. It's not. It's not, because didn't God make the mess of fallen-ness? Didn't God make the mess of sin? And didn't God know that I'd mess up and have skeletons rattling in my closet for these very reasons?
Maybe. May be that He did; because it may be that when I mess up He gets to spit-shine me and stand back with His mighty arms folded across His massive chest like Mr. Clean beaming on the detergent bottle.
Connecting with God's Heart-
-Somehow He puts me together when I'm in pieces
-Somehow all things fit together in Him
-I'll mess up and that's okay because somehow it's part of His sovereignty
-I practicing prophecy and I'm not scared of skeletons
Hi! Welcome to this special little corner off the beaten track. I’m Carolyn-Elizabeth. The hyphen hasn't always been there, but it will be for the rest of my life because when the Lord gave me beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning, He also gave me the most eloquent, simple hyphen and connected my given name to Carolyn-Elizabeth, which means, “Joyful Song-Set Apart for the Lord.”
Connecting with God’s heart is the theme which runs through each blog I post and book I write. My heart beats a little messy, but God’s heart is miraculous. So, I gather His miraculous into my messy and call it beautiful grace. Thing is, the holy whisper is stronger than any wilderness howl.
Whether you’ve been touring the world on-line and are just stopping by for a quick “hello,” or to kick your shoes off and stay awhile, your presence is a blessing to me. I hope my posts are a blessing to you.
Visit me on my website at: carolyn-elizabeth.com