Passport of Peace

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I didn’t tell you the whole story. I wanted to understand what all of it meant first, and though I am still unsure, I think it is time to share more of the story — at least in part.

Maybe it is pride, but I hate that even for a moment it has to be about me. My life’s been poured out, a drink offering…and I am spilled out faster than I have refilled…and the cup has been found bone dry. Ann the Counter says, It’s a startling thing to witness: a breaking heart can break down a whole body.

My arms have reached toward Heaven and Father and my cry has been that of a toddler, “Up! Up!” Arms that have reached toward others and the same others over and over and over….now reach to Daddy God that I might be (en)raptured.

The other day I dreamed a dream. You may have read about it, I wrote about it here. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but occasionally I have a different kind; different than the kind that makes sense while you are sleeping, but not so much when you’re awake. You see I had a dream of fleeing to Canada, to a heart that understands pain. A heart that I only know by her words illuminated on screens of many sizes, and a little yellow book begging me to count. I know her by heart, you could say. But in my dream I couldn’t get across the Canadian border because I had no passport. And she was disappointed because she had wanted to soothe my heart with ordinary beautiful things. And then I woke up. It was then that the miracle occurred. You see, when I scribbled my heart in bleeding words that day, I hadn’t read her words on her graffiti wall. This is when I knew it was no ordinary dream, for her words that day were all about forgotten passports and grace to enter in anyway.

I felt like the double rainbow guy with , “What does it mean?”

I determined that my passport of grace was the invitation to count again. I was rusty. Out of practice. No longer could I see on my own. Hands trembling, I put on Ann’s rose colored glasses, her calendar of prompts. A pinprick of light shone bright in the dark of my storm. And now she writes these words straight to my stormy heart,

“Sometimes God will calm the storm for you, but sometimes God will calm you for the storm. Sometimes God calms the storms — and sometimes the storm stills swirl and He calms our fears.”

And then today these words, “…and in You, Lord, there is always the relief of a quiet retreat — the relief that Peace is a Person, not a place: “You’re my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.”‘ Ps. 119:14 MSG

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I need not rock in Ann’s chair on her front porch, for we share the same place of retreat; His Words. Because Peace is a Person, not a place. He is my retreat, my Destination, and all I need is a passport of grace.

Still counting…

Three things full
32. My day was very full!
33. My stomach
34. My fundraiser is getting full of participants!

35. Thankful that He has made even my enemies be at peace with me.

Three things smelled
36. Fragrance after the rain
37. Peonies laden with dew
38. Stuffed peppers given as widow’s mite

39. Left overs from senior’s group
40. Wet screens

A gift unexpected, unwanted, unlikely
41. Lunch brought by client

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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And with my dearest Emily…

A Letter To Ann Voskamp

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Dear Ann,

Last night I had a dream that you invited me to stay at your farm for a welcome retreat from the battles I face. You were so excited to share healing with me, and I was overwhelmed by your generosity and nurture. But sometimes Ann I look at your pictures, even of your messes, and think you don’t understand pain. But I know better. I’ve read your book. Purchased several copies to share. Counted to 300 something. And even though I know your life has been harder than most, you’ve decided. Now I decide. I decide to see beauty in struggle as my ugly caterpillar self waits in quiet darkness for what comes next. For my embryonic state only declares to me that new birth is coming and I can choose, if I dare. I can choose to be content in the warm and safe place of His arms, trusting His hand to craft wings of color to my worm body.

I can choose as my heart breaks in two for the desperation of others to see my most prized possessions: two bushes ablaze with beauty, one with lilac and the other with pearly peony.

I can choose to be relieved that my cocoon is dark because then I can not see the scalpel performing surgery on my broken pieces.

I can choose to see hope in the hard, singing in the sad, trust in the trial and love for the lost.

And you know what? It’s my choice, not anyone else’s. I can choose to be grateful. No one can take this from me. Because as you have so beautifully said, “when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.”

So I’m starting my list over and this time I won’t stop. I will come to the place you’ve created as a retreat for me and other weary travellers. And I will rest on the front porch rocking chair. Back and forth, back and forth, to the rhythm of His heart beat. I can not walk this road alone, so I will re-learn gratitude, with your beautiful list, a respirator of thanksgiving, I breathe in, out, in, out. Breathe out thanks, breathe in gift, breathe out thanks, breathe in gift. I will learn to spirit-breathe again, but I might cough and sputter a little, because I have allowed my air to be polluted with death wishes and dream killers. So let the breathing treatments begin. And Ann? Thanks for the invitation.

1. For the invitation to really see… herehere

Three things orange?
2. #2 pencils scratching on lined notebook paper
3. Daughter’s orange scarf peeking out of basket.

.

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4. Splash of orange cheer on my Dunkin

…sharing a playdate with Laura:
and at a new place for writers Unforced Rhythms of Grace.

and with beautiful Jennifer Dukes Lee…{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252
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And with my dearest Emily…

On How One Word Can Change Your Life (A Rewrite)

Margus Saluste


There are been dark times in my life. More than once.

Sometimes I have been blinded and groping in darkness, or a dreary gray, due to circumstances far beyond my control,
but most times I’ve been inflicted by the enemy called self.

There have been times when I’ve lost a grip on grace.
And instead of holding my hands open for more, I’ve clenched tight to what little I have, grasping so tightly that I can not receive gift.

But much of that has changed.
And it’s changed because of one word: Expect.

You see, I’ve always expected. I have had misplaced EXPECTations.
When I’ve EXPECTed the wrong things from the wrong people.
Trying to make them God, and me not responsible for my own future.

And I’ve often EXPTECTed the worst.
Trained like Pavlov’s dogs in a world of disappointment.

But I thought that I’d try my hand at something different.
I thought I would allow myself to have an EXPECTation full of hope in God.
I mean, He always comes through any way, so why not trust Him beforehand, instead of being shocked…
or worse yet, not noticing His provision afterward?

So, I just have to brag on God!

Since I’ve endeavored to be more hopeful and EXPECTant, the following blessings have come to my family:

1. My husband found a job where he is celebrated, has a ton of favor and has a bright future to do the things he most loves doing! (#247)

2. My son, the one who disliked school the most, got straight A’s in college. (#248)

3. My daughter received her dream role as Elizabeth Bennett in the play Pride & Prejudice. (#249)

4. I was offered a part-time position with a home school co-op. (which I turned down) (#250) <—-I’m a quarter way there!

5. My husband got an amazing vehicle from work! (#251)

6. I’ve received two scholarships from two different writing conference’s. Praise the Lord, since there was no way I could attend either without them! (We still are catching up from my husband’s time off of work.)(#252)

7. I received a call for an interview for a job position that would allow me to use many of the stones in my shepherd’s bag. (#253)

8. I was offered yet another part-time job. (#254)

9. I have the opportunity to write for a book compilation. (#255)

10. My daughter received several scholarships for college! (#256)

11. I was called for a second interview for the job position mentioned in number seven. (#257)

12. I was asked to be the first mob victim for a wonderful new project! (#258)

13. I had the wonderful privilege of having Ann Voskamp respond to several comments over at the High Calling and {In}Courage. (#259)

…and I’m sure that there are many things I’ve forgotten. I have chosen to expect that He will lead us through this time of transition, and He has proven to do more than we could think, hope or imagine!

When you consider that I felt at the end of my hope, and wrote this on February 7th, you can see how good God is, and how quickly He can turn things around for those who put their hope and confident EXPECTation in Him!

But I am trusting you, O Lord,
saying, “You are my God!”
15 My future is in your hands.

Counting with dear Ann:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

The Gate Called Beautiful

You, my dearest, are hurting, pained and unwhole.

You need healing.

And though He said I can lay hands on the sick,

I haven’t often seen success.

I’m only being honest.

But your suffering…your scars…

It’s too much to bystand –

Too much to spectate

without participation.

What can I do?

I don’t have silver or gold to pay for expensive treatment.

I don’t have a faith healer’s faith.

Not. Yet.

But can I bring you to the Gate called Beautiful?

Because I’ve found that

darkness may be crowding out light

and death may be pushing my hopes under

for the

third time.

But

when I am brought to the Gate called Beautiful

I am soul healed.

For in examining His beauty

I am discovering His goodness.

And when His goodness is revealed

anything, anything might happen.

Will you come?

Counting from the Gate called Beautiful with Ann:

131. Unexpected Valentine from the little girl next door.

132. My Bible Study girls and I getting “tatt-ed” together!

133. A box in the mail!!

134. A gift from Sarah Mae and DaySpring!

135. Daughter’s debut as a paid singer!

136. Happy Statue of Liberty guy. (You can’t tell, but his smile is radiant!)

137. The privilege of making 500 truffles…

138. Coming through to the other side of the flu.

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

…hanging out with L.L.: On In Around button

…sharing with Shandra:

Five Favorite Authors – Friday Favorites

5. Ann B. Ross – If you find yourself a little down in the dumps, you need to read the Miss Julia books. I have never laughed so hard in my life! Laughter is a medicine, and I’ve often healed myself reading Ann’s words!

4. Jan Karon – I call the Mitford series “Vacation in a book”. Often times I find myself encumbered by life with too much to do, with the demands of a wife and mother, and maybe filling too empty to give the way that I should. When this happens, I know that it’s time to grab a Mitford book. Her character development is pristine. I know that somewhere there must be a Father Tim and an Uncle Billy. They are too real not to be real. My daughter recently asked me what literary character I’d most like to be, I answered, “Cynthia!” She is so charming, and has such a positive, fun outlook on life. She is who I long to be.


3. Ann Voskamp – Isn’t she pretty? It had been a long time since I read words that stirred my soul the way Ann’s do. Her poetic prose is rich with image and feeling, and she conveys her beautiful heart so effectively. I love the way she thinks, and even more I love the words she comes up with to portray her thoughts; her thoughts the color on canvas, her words the brush. She had me from the first line, hanging onto every word. While reading her book, A Thousand Gifts I found that I would have to put the book down, just to savor the gift she had just unwrapped before me. Sometimes, I’d even meditate a day or two before returning because there was so much to learn from her. Not only is her book brilliant, (and a New York Times bestseller), but her blog draws me into her world as an intimate friend. I feel loved.

2. C.S. Lewis – My first taste of Lewis, was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I was in elementary school at the time, and very willing to be on the look out for a wardrobe of my own. The Chronicles of Narnia were a huge part of my spiritual formation. The next book I read was Screwtape Letters, and then Mere Christianity. I admire Lewis’ logic and clear philosophy.

1. Madeleine L’Engle – One of the greatest regrets of my life is having missed the opportunity of hearing Madeleine speak at Wheaton college. I guess I thought she and I had all the time in the world..but we don’t. A Wrinkle In Time is the first book of hers that I read. I so much identified with Meg. I was the geeky, uncomfortable in her own skin Meg with glasses and no self-esteem. Her triumphs were my triumphs. I read all of her young adult books with so much vigor! She opened a whole new world of deep thought to me, and dared me to think outside the box. And then as an adult, I found out about her wonderful non-fiction books. How I love to read her thoughts! I agree with some, disagree with others, but love the originality of her thought. I can not wait to spend time with her in heaven!

Friday Favorites – Poetry

I’ve decided to make Fridays about my favorite things, and since today is National Poetry Day, I thought I’d make talk about my favorites. In poetry that is.

Shells

While reading Meet The Austins, by Madeleine L’Engle, I was in full glory of my awkward all-elbows adolescence, when I came across this lovely verse:

“If thou couldst empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the Ocean shelf,
And say — “This is not dead,” —
And fill thee with Himself instead.

But thou art all replete with very thou,
And hast such shrewd activity,
That, when He comes, He says — “This is enow
Unto itself — ‘Twere better let it be:
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me.”

There is some confusion as to who wrote this poem. Madeleine says Sir Thomas Browne, but the internet is full of debate about this. But regardless of who wrote it, I can almost say that this has been my life poem. I’ve always wanted to empty all myself of self so that there is more room for Him, but it is a daily task, and I grow weary of it sometimes….all of this emptying and re-emptying.

The Red Wheelbarrow.
Another favorite poem, again from the time that I was a school girl, is by William Carlos Williams.

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

I love the simple beauty the writer found in ordinary every day images. It reminds me somewhat of 1000 Gifts, because of the quest for finding unwrapped presents that our dear Ann Voskamp has endeavored to set upon us.

Which brings me to another subtopic in poetry. I. Love. Poetic. Prose. It’s my favorite thing to read these days, and Ann Voskamp is the queen of it. I also adore Emily and Rachel. Lastly I’ve found a new community of aspiring and published poets over at D’Verse. It’s a very fun place to hang out whether you like to write poetry, or only enjoy reading it.

Lastly, I will include one of the poems I’ve written.

Church In The Wild

Photo by JohnEdits

Concrete jungle
marble grey and bleeding
Unaware of Who it is they are needing.

Dripping rain forests
lush emerald gold
Downpour weeping stories untold.

Middle-aged prostitute,
mascara lines on face,
vanished, gone without a trace.

Homeless beggar
cardboard prayer
rolling by on life’s conveyor.

Profane rappers
subconsciously plead
calling for spirit-mouths to feed;

See right through us
Conflicted souls,
fear in eyes, shot through with holes.

Flames of fire
simmer deep within
Follower’s hearts to free from sin.

Christian’s hide,
trembling we cower
As if God-in-us doesn’t have the power.

Bold and aggressive,
Yet meek and mild,
We must become the Church in the Wild.

**This poem was inspired by the radically relevant teaching we have been receiving by Anthony Thompson at FHC’s Saturday Night Services.

What is your favorite poem? Or what memories do you have in connection with poetry?

Sharing at a new place! Photobucket” />

friday favorite things | finding joy

Waiting. With Anticipation. – Day 8 Photo Scavenger Hunt

Waiting. With Anticipation.

Each day, children wait
to open the presents under the tree.
Cradling pacakges,
they check them for size and shape,
weight and balance.
Shaking them to discover
if they make a sound.
Breathless, trembling,
they anticipate opening day.
Filled with awe and wonder.

Each day, we wait
to find the gifts He’s left behind.
Cradling His love letter,
We whisper words of praise,
singing songs of delight.
We search for unexpected
objects of beauty
in places so obvious
That they aren’t noticed anymore.
Breathless, trembling
We are filled with awe and wonder.

Giving thanks today with Ann:

84. Snow, a Christmas miracle.

85. Grown up daughter baking Christmas cookies while listening to music that I haven’t asked to listen to…someday I’ll miss this…

86. Nutella and pretzels.

87. Seeing daughter bring the house down in Christmas production.

88. Looking at the beautiful stage my son helped design for the production at church.

89. Going out to eat with two of my favorite guys…

90. Cutest present under the tree.

Congratulations to Jennifer at To Tell You The Truth for winning the angel photo prompt!

I know that this week will be busy for all of us, so I’ve decided to post the week’s photo prompts:
Monday – A Gift
Tuesday – Salvation Army Bellringer
Wednesday – Advent Calendar
Thursday – Snowflake
Friday – Nativity

The linkup will be from now through Friday. I will go through the posts and gather the pics for the correct days. Thanks so much for your participation, this has been fun! Link up your post featuring a photo with a theme listed above. Include my blog button, and visit other “hunt” blogs. Stop by tomorrow to vote for your favorite “gift” picture. Have fun! (Blog links must be provided before 7:00 AM CST, in order to be voted on 🙂 ) I have no idea why the number of links doesn’t update…There are participants!



There were no entries for the outdoor lights photo contest.

and with dearest Michelle:

Cyber Monday Shopping With A Cause!

Today is Cyber Monday…and in order to get into the spirit of things, I am featuring 4 gifts that you can give 4 Christ’s Sake! So move over Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, here we come!

1. Since human trafficking is the very first issue addressed here at What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake? I thought it would be nice to find an item that donates its proceeds toward ending human trafficking. Look what I found! A beautiful necklace!! … for the rest of this post visit my other blog…What In The World R U Doing 4 Christ’s Sake?

Giving Thanks with Ann:

61. For a mouse catching dog…

62. So thankful to have a house to clean, money for food, and friends and family to share with!

63. for the gift of Ann in my life…

64. for being done with Holiday meals…at least for another month. 😀

65. For the awesome grace graffiti of Michelle, Jen, Emily, Renee and Leanne

66. for the best girlfriends in the world…

67. for the opportunity to be a friend in deed.

A Thanksgiving Note To You


Today…and always, I am thankful for you friend…

Your belief in me pushes me to go on

…even when I didn’t think I could.

Your love for me fills my heart

…even when I thought it was empty.

and your patience with me causes me to have compassion

…for others who are also His masterpiece

and under construction.

Thank you.

May thanksgiving become thanksliving for us as a community this year.

 

This Thanksgiving, can I invite you to join me in counting the gifts in your life?  Read Ann Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts, or check out her website, A Holy Experience, here. 

 

Linking with the amazingly talented Emily at: