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…

When Your Dream Is On Hold

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I am staring into an empty tomb but have refused to rejoice in its evidence of resurrection.

When recently asked what dream I had hidden inside me, I was surprised to hear myself say, “I’d like to be a published author who uses her platform to speak and encourage women.” I had never verbalized the second part of that dream. It was frightening to hear myself say it….in front of other people…people who have known me as a behind the scenes kind of gal rather than a public figure.

I have found myself busier than ever with less time for my dream than in times past, a good kind of busy in which I am confident that I go about my Father’s business. But I come home exhausted and ready to help my sons and daughter with their dreams….or perhaps just ready for a good book or movie. photo 2

Between the holy place of the altar of His will and the altar of my servanthood to others is the graveyard of my dreams. Each of these dreams has a tombstone; some with worn inscriptions barely readable and others newly etched in stone. Still others are unkempt markers with cobweb veils sweeping across their forlorn faces.

This weekend, my church hosted a women’s conference Superchick 2013. One of the speakers, Lynette Lewis, author of “Climbing the Ladder in Stilettos”, spoke about cultivating dreams. This week I will be sharing some of the things the Lord stirred in my heart from her messages.

When one dream is on hold…go live another.

Lynette Lewis

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My dream of becoming an authoress may be on hold, but I’d almost forgotten about a dream of my youth…a dream to be in the full time ministry. Here I stand in the middle of a God-fulfilled dream and I can’t see the beauty of its resurrection because of the looming shadow of a monument of a dream on pause.

This is why it is so important to have a field of dreams (one of my favorite movies by the way). Because you should….

Have several dreams at the same time. That way you are always working on one of them.

Lynette Lewis

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I am determined to change the image of my dreams from that of a graveyard to that of a field. Dreams should be seeds sown to produce fruit in due time, and just as there are seasons for seeds there are seasons for dreams. Instead, I have often lay my dreams to rest in peace, never to be awakened again.

What dreams lie dormant in your life, friend? Awaken them with your attention. Never fail to recognize the dreams you are living out today just because of the impatience to experience the dreams you wish to live out tomorrow!

 

Sharing with dear Emily…

And fantastic Michelle.

and joyful Jen.

Dream Gardens

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This is the time of year when I long to grow seedlings in my basement window. I never act on this yearning, but the longing remains. I dream of growing a vegetable garden and becoming self sufficient on a whole new level. I wish to change a small corner of my yard from a hard barren weed patch into a garden of plenty.

I watch with more than a little jealousy as my neighbors and friends invest time into this effort, while I sit by reading The Secret Garden…dreaming. But it doesn’t matter how long I dream, if I don’t actually sink my hands into the dark chocolate soil and plant a seed, I will never have the satisfaction of eating the fruit of my labor.

It kind of makes me wonder…what other dreams do I have which I lament over but do nothing to bring them forth? Desires that I long for but do nothing to make them happen?….maybe the dream of being Executive Director who still finds time to blog, or the dream of a working woman who completes the novel she’s been working on for four years..or is it five?

I am praying that God gives me the energy to put feet to my dreams. That I wouldn’t fear getting dirty while planting seeds of the future. That I would have the strength of character to say no to the everyday weeds I choose to embrace over the sweat of diligence.

Let this post be the window to your garden. Do you like what you see? If not, do what is difficult now in order to create what is beautiful later. Lets do it together! You won’t be sorry…

When Fear Postpones the Birth of Dreams – Guest Post by Shelly Miller – Painting Prose

What more can I say other than that I adore Shelly’s writing? I am thrilled beyond words to hear her mention the four-letter b word, “book”, and can not wait until she shares her thoughts with the world. Her prose is full of images both visual and experiential. In this piece, I see daffodils waving in the wind, and I feel the heartache of letting a child mature…and as usual, she stirs my emotions with her poetry in prose. Please accept my invitation to visit her beautiful blog…Redemption’s Beauty.

Daffodils stand at attention in perfect rows, their yellow faces saluting the sun. Branches sway windy, waving pink fairy dust as I breathe the beauty of what blurs past my windshield. New life pops confetti on bare branches and today, I let go of my daughter’s hand. Watch her dance the last stanzas of childhood in this circle of life we share.
She turns sixteen today. A day she begins to collect her own packet of seeds to scatter. (Mark 4)
Because aren’t we all farmers of what he gives?
Yesterday I squeezed her dimpled knuckles. Today, wearing wet hair and tall boots, she drives away in her white Volvo with cardboard owl swinging from the mirror, pop music vibrating.
Later, in the quiet empty, I wipe off the syrup pitcher, put her dirty dishes in the sink, notice the pile of cards holding checks from friends stacked neatly beside her place at the bar. Pieces of hope paper stacked for the promise of a mission trip to Jamaica.
Sixteen years ago, H caught me standing in the closet sobbing silent tears over my pregnant stomach. Fear puddled out in knowing what my mind could not comprehend. That this life inside would change me, change us forever. I didn’t know how to master cultivating a successful life.
Who can master a life He gives with a story already written?
A book of invisible pages revealed to the muse in whispers by the author, at the turn of each day.

Last night, I crawl into bed next to my husband, sigh deep and he asks me what I am thinking.
I share my brick on the chest feeling over the birth of this book-writing journey. How words stumble when someone asks me why I haven’t started the book yet. Because I don’t know how to conquer this petrifying perfectionism that needs to know the outcome before I start something new.
Sixteen years later, I am pregnant once again, gasping for breath and knowing I won’t know the outcome about this either. The fear of failure postpones birth.
When He gave me my own packet of seeds all those years ago, they came with simple instructions. Just plant, water and weed. The outcome, well that is His job.
I cannot see all of the beautiful blooms yet on the life that is my daughter; what color they will be, how tall they will grow, how long they will remain on the vine. I cannot linger over the engraved letters on the spine of the book penned in my name, know how many hands will hold it, or how it will transform a life.
But I will continue to do my part: plant, water and weed.
I will wait on Him for the outcome.

But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. Mark 4:20 ESV
Are you stuck because of fear of the failure? Has it kept you from birthing a dream?

Please take the time to comment and let Shelly know how much this piece blessed you!

If this is your first time here, let me explain what we are all about. We are a community started by Emily Wierenga. It was called Imperfect Prose. She is on a bit of a vacation as she has some extra responsibilities at the moment.

If you are new, please check out Emily’s blog. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you need to be acquainted with the woman who made all of this happen!

JourneyTowardsEpiphany

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Great Expectations at Hope’s End – A One Word 365 Post

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Remember when

in your youth,

each day was fresh

with no mistakes

and no consequences?

Only dreams waiting to be captured.

And every day was rosy,

full of life

the way a florist shop smells green

and greener.

Then disappointment comes…

but not enough to kill your

Great Expectations!

You won’t be so easily discouraged!

and time passes and another comes…

and you smile and say,

“If at first I don’t succeed,

I’ll try, try again.”

Then life starts to happen.

and one day bleeds into the next

with the blood of murdered hopes and dreams.

Twenty comes and goes

with extra tiny fingers and toes,

and Cheerios in places you never thought you’d see them.

Thirty comes and goes

with extra pounds and rolls,

and your jeans create a nuclear mushroom from your belly.

Now at forty, panic strikes! You realize that

those things youth loftily planned

are out of reach and out of hand.

But then…

Jesus  poured out His hopes and dreams

of a long life well-lived

as a drink offering

for a blood thirsty ground.

His dreams in exchange

for the dreams of others.

And you realize that all is not lost,

because you’ve made beds and sack lunches

paving the way for those you love

to accomplish God things.

God whispers in your ear.

“Will you hope in Me now?

now that you have spent yours?

Now that your pride and confidence

in your own goals

have fallen like Babel?

Will you let Me create in you

an expectation anew?

A fresh future full of Me

now that there is less of you?”

Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal. John 12:24-25 Message

It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, I Peter 1:3

We all arrive at your doorstep sooner
or later, loaded with guilt,
Our sins too much for us—
but you get rid of them once and for all.
Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest
at home in your place!
We expect our fill of good things
in your house, your heavenly manse.

Psalm 65 Message

I shared this with d’Verse Poets

Counting gifts with Ann:

117.  Glitter in old lady’s hair

118.  Friends who think that I can do anything.

119.  For great priceless treasure in my home…

120.  A child’s laughter his delight in simply taking another breath.

121.  A task completed. 

122.  The perfect fast breaker! 

123.  Seeing God everywhere!
Sharing with Michelle:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

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

Broken

Jacob's Ladder - Cheddar Caves and Gorge

Jacob’s first “experience” with God was in a dream.  He was running from the brother whom he had wronged, afraid for his life.  And yet, God met him where he was.  He revealed to Jacob His power, and gave him promises should he return someday to the land of his ancestors.  God meets us where we are.  Even when we are running from our past, He gives us His words as a promise if we should return.

Jacob dreamed once again, after he had lived with Laban.  He married Laban’s daughters, worked for him, and now God asked Jacob to leave Laban, and return to his own people.  This dream was God reminding Jacob of the promises that He made to Jacob and that Jacob had made to Him when fleeing from Esau.

What promises has God made to you?  What vows have you made to Him?  Has God ever reminded you of His promises?  Has He reminded you of your promises to Him?  Could it be that He is reminding you now? Today?

In Genesis chapter 32, Jacob once again sees angels, and he names the place Mahanaim meaning “two camps.”  Despite the Lord’s encouragement, Jacob is still afraid.  He divides his possessions and family into two camps.  One will go out in front of the other in case Esau and his men attack, then he will be able to save himself and his favorites.  I wonder if part of Jacob is afraid to face his sin?  Afraid to look Esau in the face and own up to his trespass against his brother?

Have you ever had to face a family member or friend whom you have wronged?  Is there someone you need to face today?

Ge. 32:9-12

9And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the LORD which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:

10I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

11Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.

12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

This is a much more humble Jacob.  Suddenly, this is all about God and not all about him. First of all he says, “I want to remind you that I’m only here, because I’m being obedient to you. And you said that it would be well with me.”  He reminded God of His promise towards Jacob.  But now, the gratitude and thanksgiving of Jacob are astounding. He recognizes that he is unworthy of God’s blessing. Up until this point, Jacob is consistently taking matters into his own hands, even trying to influence nature with the rods and the goats, but now he is in a situation that only God can deliver him from.  And with great humility, he makes his request, one that he doesn’t deserve; safety from his brother. He reminds God of His promise, essentially saying, “You can’t fulfill this promise in me, if I’m dead!”  Essentially he’s like a child saying to his Father, “You said!”

What has God promised you either in dreams or in His Word?  Are you on the first part of the journey as when Jacob was running from what God called him to do?  Or has God given His second call, and now it is time to move on?  Perhaps you are at Mahanaim where you are of two minds thinking, “Should I go forward and do what God has asked?” or are you afraid because of your past? Do you feel unworthy of His promises?

Gen 32:24-31

And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.

25And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.

26And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

27And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.

28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

29And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

30And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.

31And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

And Jacob was left alone. What happens when we are left alone? When there is no one else to run to? No one else to fix our problems? Jacob wrestled with God. He comes to the end of Jacob and makes demand on God to meet him…alone and empty. Now his stubbornness works for him, because he will not let go until he receives a blessing. Now it is God Who gives the Pillar-Builder a reminder. As a sign of this blessing, God breaks the sinew in his thigh.  Bible scholars and scientists alike say that this sinew spoken of in this scripture is the toughest sinew in the human body. A war horse couldn’t break this sinew. But God broke Jacob at his toughest point; his stubbornness, his self-sufficiency, his guilt and now his feelings of unworthiness.

This man who wrestled with his brother even in the womb, fighting to come into this world first; who tricked his brother out of his birthright; who deceived a blessing out of his father; who fought with Laban over his wages; has now fought with God over His blessing.  And now, he has come to the end of himself.  and he is broken.

Are you broken before God? Are you at the end of yourself, and tired of struggling…alone? Dare to wrestle with God, dear reader. You will never be the same…it was then that Jacob was renamed from “supplanter” or “deceiver” to Israel or “struggle”. God sets Jacob’s very name as a monument to remember a moment with Him. A moment that would change Jacob forever. Will you wrestle with God and have your destiny made sure?

On Willy Wonka, My One Word 365 Project And Returning to 1000 Gifts

It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation….I Peter 1:3

Is this the way I have chosen to live?

Am I peeking around the corner with great expectation?

or am I waiting, crouched, arms over head, for the next blow?

I want to unfold the paper of life like Charlie unwrapped the silver from his Wonka Bar…

slowly…

carefully…

fully expecting to see that bit of gold.

I want to believe against hope like Abraham and Sarah,

and when hope seems bankrupt, I want to use my resources for others

like Charlie.

To buy someone else a candy bar.

And then when hope is replaced with a gift of giving

anticipation arises for what God can do.

and will do.

and has done.

And what I’ve got is much better than a golden ticket.

Because… I temporarily gave up on my list.

and the picture of beautiful expectation I had experienced dribbled cloudy like a watercolor painting being rained upon.

So I begin again,

a little more humble,

a lot more wise.

Expectation comes in that

His beauty and love chase after me

every day of my life.

Now to pen these moments

with expectation in community with dearest Ann:


91. For the always thought provoking writing of Madeleine L’Engle. “How marvelous is the ritual of the Holy Mysteries, the Eucharist, where we joyfully eat love.”

92. Flourescent ribbons unfurled across the sky.

93. Giant crunch hamburgers.

94. Laughing birds.

95. Chocolate pudding treat, unexpected in my bag.

96. A novel in my heart…

97. A daughter who says that everything is more fun with her brother around.

98. Neighborhood mysteries.

99. Big answers to small prayers.

100. New job opportunities.

101. Sand between my toes…in January…in the Chicago area!

102. A magical day of mystical findings for my book! Pioneer Chapel.

103. A packet of goodies from a stranger!

104. Hearing sandhill cranes a mile high in the sky.

105. Glitter in an old woman’s hair.

106. Buying a brand new $200 sportscoat at Penney’s for my husband for only $10!

107. Writer’s Calendar and day planner at the Dollar Store.

108. Daughter gets the coveted part of Elizabeth Bennett at Youth Theater!

109. Guest posting at my dear friend Renee’s!

Sharing with Michelle:

…sharing a playdate with Laura:

….finding heaven with Jen:

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

St. Patrick Wasn’t Irish!

Many Protestants do not know who St. Patrick was.  They just credit him to drunken parties and lots of green on March 17th.  But Patrick’s story is worth telling.

Patrick was not Irish.  In fact he came from a wealthy British family.  In his mid-teens, he was captured by Irish slavers and taken to Ireland where he worked as a shepherd.  He was often alone and  turned to God for comfort.  It is believed that it was during this time on the plush green hills of Ireland that the lad began to have visions and dreams of converting the Irish to Christianity.  At the time Ireland was primarily a pagan land.

Guided by visions and dreams, Patrick was led to escape Ireland and was able to return to Britain.  Soon after his return home, he again began having visions and dreams of returning to Ireland to preach the Gospel.  Patrick began to study and prepare for his call to the mission field.  He prepared for more than 15 years.

Against his family’s wishes Patrick returned to Ireland and lived out the rest of his days there.  He died on March 17, around 460 AD.

We can learn from Saint Patrick.  Rather than seeing his captors as his enemies, and as people who ruined his comfortable life, he saw them as  lost and dying.  His time in the fields reminded him that we are all sheep who have gone astray, and he chose to view those in the world around him in this way as well.

If you are interested in learning more about Saint Patrick, you can view videos and find out how St. Patrick’s Day came to be observed at History.com.

Top of the mornin’ to ya!