Too New

In this quiet house,

It’s too quiet

In this clean room,

It’s too clean.

In this still moment,

It’s too still.

In this empty space,

It’s too empty.

I’ve loved so much.

Your loss invades every second.

My whole world is so much LESS.

I’ve grieved ,

And, time passes.

But I still expect to see you as I turn the corner each morning.

Routine,

How you betray me!

Time,

How, you ignore me!

It’s all too new,

And….

This new,

It’s too new.

Christmas: The Promise of Rest

Advent:

I  was talking to a dear friend of mine. This friend, like me, LOVES the Christmas season. 

Yet, this year, my friend is experiencing more gloom than joy, more weariness than hustle and bustle, and more frustration than Christmas cheer.

All around, the world turns mad with hurriedness. A party here, a church event there, school functions here, everywhere, Christmas shopping…….and before we know it, we are numb to the excitement that traditional holiday rhythms bring.

I’ve been there. It’s neither right nor wrong; it just IS.

Advent simply means “coming.” In this season of Advent, we wait and prepare for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus Christ AND the return of Jesus at the Second Coming. 

We not only celebrate a baby, but we celebrate a KING.

We wait; We prepare.  We remember our ancestors, who endured thousands of years in darkness and oppression to see Salvation light in the form of a sweet, tender, meek, and mild, divine baby.

Are you struggling today?  Are you tired, anxious, aching for a rest?

What a burden you share with our ancestors…trekking day after day, yearning and longing for true REST and wondering, “Is the day at hand? “Is the Christ come, yet?” “How many more days til the celebration?” “Am I ready?”

Have heart my dear friends. You are closer to Christ than ever before!

And, when that day comes, lift up your head. For in this darkness, you will be warmed by the glorious light of Christ.

Have hope, for He has come to the weary, so that they, so that WE will know rest. Rejoice, for He will not rest until all is made right in our souls. Receive peace, for he is gentle, humble and kind. He is not angry or disappointed in you. He celebrates you! He laments with you! He loves you!

So…be ready, for ready or not, Christmas Day is coming… the Redeemer of weariness is coming! The day of increase is coming! “And the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”  (Isa 9)

Feliz Navidad!

Alicia 

God, the Dream Maker

 

When I was a child, I prayed constantly.

For hugs and for money

So that we wouldn’t go hungry.

And, for love that would find me 

So that I would not feel lonely.

 

This is the broken child’s dream.

 

And… as the years went by, 

I thought God ignored my cries.

I never realized

My dreams were being molded on The Potter’s wheel….

 

And I….

Got married, bought a house, 

Had a baby, moved all around….

 

When, suddenly!

I remembered those broken-hearted dreams

Imagined by a child in her most favorite high tree.

I would climb until I felt I was on top of the world.

Those magnolia branches made me feel so powerful!

 

There, I’d pray:

“God, will you give me a real home one day?

And a husband who will love me, despite all my pains.

And a child who will bring me love I’ve never known…

Oh God will you give me a home all of my own…”

 

Today,  I awaken and it springs unto me.

God has answered this precious prayed dream!

I have everything I’ve wanted so desperately

I have a home because You brought one to me…

 

I have a home because YOU brought one to me

 

Time

I can see the sands of time

Spilling freely through my hands.

To many moments to memorize

To little time to take it all in.

 

Too fast, too slow

Where did all the sand go?

 

But now I see…

This sand is a vapor,

A mist floating through grasping hands,

A fading flower, a withering grass.

 

Tomorrow’s too soon.

Tomorrow’s too far.

The number of my days

So short, yet so long.

 

But God keeps me

Preserves me like jelly.

I’m the joy in the sweet,

I’m anxiety-free.

 

I don’t have to worry about this sand…

This vapor,

These days.

I don’t have to fret about

The number,

The wasting of my flesh.

 

I’m preoccupied,

With  Glory before me,

Wonder within me,

This Deity I’m breathing .

 

I’m love-derived

Created in mystery.

 

So time, spill freely through these hands.

And I’ll waste myself for Heaven’s plans.

And when my world begins to fade

Oh the time, I’ll get to gain!

The Desert Season

I walked in that desert place.

I made my bed in the wilderness.

I reclined on a parched heart and soul.

I distracted myself with mirages of false hope.

 

I became acquainted with blackened dead lands.

I dug in the ground for hidden waters.

I came up weary, with empty hands.

I remembered the comforts of my home.

 

I was thirsting for the wellspring of life

I was craving the taste of well-seasoned truth.

And searching for refuge from the sun and from the cold.

Instead I found the darkest nights, without a fire and all alone.

 

And then I saw the green on the horizon.

A forest of trees planted by living waters

I inhaled the fragrance of winter turned to spring.

And tasted the flavor of hope on the 4 winds coming.

 

And suddenly, I understood grace

In ways, I’d never had known

If I never had walked through the desert

If I never had that wilderness home.

 

And,

There is a feast in the famine

Jesus prepared for me.

There is a river in the drylands

only the “come like a child” can see.

There is safety in the night

From the covering of Sovereign peace.

And God, Himself, handed it all over to me!

 

There is drink to end all thirst,

Honeyed wine reserved for me.

It’s the essence of the Spirit that has

Made Her home in me.

There is rest under the green,

The perfect shade of all dreams…

Sent to refresh and to breathe

Winds of mercy over me.

 

What an untamed flood,

Carrying away the desert sands.

What glorious waters, breaking away these man made damns!

What a voice of love speaking dry bones into life!

The 4 winds released their breath – prophesied me into flesh!

 

I have a Watchman, keeping and guarding me.

Shining within, enlightening me.

Gracious  and kind,

Merciful and favored…

Peace is the result,

I’m forever grateful.

 

Yielding Up My Wounds (2017 Journal entry)

I know you, He says. You are not hidden from me.

You turn to false loves, but they cannot cure you. They cannot heal your wounds.

Seek me. Return and repent (vv. 3, 14-15, my paraphrase).

The past two years have reaped of bleeding wounds. Even worse, they were old wounds. To put it plainly, it was like I took a knife in my own hands and strategically cut them open.

The devastation of cancer, loss and waning friendships struck something in me. A fear, and anxiety that I would be left behind.

I would be abandoned.

Even at 37, I feel like a small child, forgotten and locked away, at times.

It is nonsensical.

I am a grown woman. But, you see, my heart was aching from these internal wounds that festered, yearning to be healed but refusing the balm of Divine ministry.  So, instead, a thick scar tissue formed and became a barrier to permanent healing and restoration. As a result,  the scar tissue grew and grew until it became so hardened that I took a knife and ripped it open…

But the gushing and throbbing pains that resulted did not cure me. Instead, they reminded me of the fresh agonies of life, and in a most childlike way, I  ran and….

I hid.

It was then, I discovered a void that expanded in me, an undiscovered wilderness land.

What do I do? Lord….I call and hear nothing. Even in your arms, I am unsettled.

I don’t want to live unsettled.

This is not what you have for me. This is not from you or because of you.

I know that:

You see me hiding…

You see me injuring myself.

And, you prowl around my heart like a lion, guarding my heart, thwarting my attempts to run and hide, and protecting me from a full on prodigal rebellion ….

God, I  know you are with me.  I  know you are inside my darkness, with me, holding me, and hedging me in from myself.

Today, I finally hear you.

And, you are saying, “Nothing can heal your wounds but me.”

O God,

Help me to stop injuring myself. Help me to stop ripping apart old wounds. Take this   hardened scar tissue and seeping wounds and regenerate it with new flesh.

I lift my sick and bruised and battered body to you….

I  allow you to minister to my self-inflicted wounds….

Balm of Gilead,

Here I am……

You’ve called me and I’ve come, Lord. I am ready to be healed.

Uncover my darkness  and contend with it like the conquering Lion you are.

Amen

In The Using (a journal entry from 2017)

In the dark, quiet morning, I rose before anyone else. I slowly walked into the kitchen, careful to not turn on any lights along the way. I lit a few candles and proceeded to make my French-pressed morning coffee, and I stood at the counter. There, I slowly began to awaken, with forced movements and the fragrant aroma of ground coffee beans nudging me into my morning routine.

A few more candles…

A selected mug…

I silence my phone, turn on my MacBook , sit in my favorite chair underneath my favorite blanket, coffee in hand, scripture before my eyes, and the Spirit fellowshipping with me and….

this is my favorite place.

45 minutes pass, and it’s time to get the kiddo up. This sacred allotment of time never seems enough, but I know it will multiply and manifest throughout my day, because grace.

And then, the family is off to work and school, and now I’m back in this sacred sanctuary of reading the Psalms, highlighting, underlining, reading a chapter in a few books I’ve selected for this season in my life, praying and finally, ending with a turn at the piano Psalming and spontaneously worshipping….

 

At around 9:00, I’m done and began to set out with our pup for his walk. Before I left though, I asked God to show me something beautiful – something to remind me that God is the creator of creativity and the artist of all artists.

He did not fail me…

As I started to walk,  I noticed this perfect blue sky. From all directions and the perfect color, this is a mix that I am certain could not be recreated with human hands. As I continued to walk, I stopped underneath a lattice of branches. Wild, growing and extending over me like a canopy, I paused to take it all in. Through the branches, the  sun still gazed through, reminding me that the Sun of God lights up every place He chooses, despite the obstacles between myself and heaven.

I continued on, and then I saw a sign in front of a church and it said “Forgiveness is giving love when there is no reason to….”

My favorite part was the “….” Because, I know when I am bitter and walking in unforgiveness, I cannot SEE enough to realize that the reason for forgiving is so that I can SEE again.

It’s in that state where I am blinded to worldly reason, unable to see the other side of forgiveness, where my eyes open to heaven’s reasoning (mercy, which in turn, heals, and allows me to see again, completely eliminating the desire for justice to be served).

After pausing at the sign, I continued to walk and I came across an old tree whose roots were arranged like octopus legs. It struck me that the roots were so visible, yet also so deep that it not only pushed out the curb, but cracked and misshaped the road running alongside it.

I looked up and realized that this tree had grown so far and so wide that it extended across the road, meeting  another tree in the middle, thus forming a bridge over me.

As I walked around the tree, taking it in, my eyes began to focus on an old playground on the side of the church….It was used, old and rusty but still being used in its current state. It was almost like I could hear the voices of the children, the squeals of delight, the shrieking, the laughing, the running and mischief all around!

And then I heard the Spirit, plainly and clearly, rising up in me one phrase.

“Oh, to be used.”

I said it aloud, “Oh…to be used.”

And then I thought of the trees and the branches and the roots and the playground and I asked myself, “Have I really allowed myself to be used?”

Sure, I’ve allowed myself to be MISUSED. But have I really allowed myself to be USED in the way I’ve been purposed for?

The answer is NO, not really.

My pastor stood at the altar yesterday and prayed over all of us, that we would be used. This is Christian lingo for being surrendered to the work of Christ, so much so, that our lives are evidence of the existence of Christ.

With a picture of my pastor praying over our congregation in my head, I asked myself why. Why have I not completely yielded myself? I thought of my heart for people, my fears, my insecurities, my dreams and I realized that I have not been used because I have been so much more interested in preserving myself, protecting myself and memoralizing myself.

What does that mean?

Well….if preserving something means ensuring its survival in its current state, rendering it unchanged, then guilty . If protecting myself means not getting hurt, not exposing vulnerability for fear of judgement or rejection, then guilty. If protecting myself means not walking on a relational tightrope or jumping off a metaphorical cliff, or falling down on try-a-new- and-different-thing-your-not-good-at-sidewalk, then GUILTY!

See where I’m going?

If memorializing myself means building a collection of things I have gotten right, accolades and awards, then guilty. If memorializing means setting up my life in photos that could never take the place of my essence and legacy, then GUILTY...

You see,  I haven’t been used fully because I’ve been too busy protecting, preserving and memorializing myself, all the while thinking that I’m cultivating myself with selflessness. Yet,  in reality, I’m killing my growth with selfishness.

I can see it now, and…

  • I want to be like the tree with octopus roots, dug so deep that I’m shaking the concrete over me and pushing the curbs out around me.
  • I want to be like the tree with wild branches, forming a lattice of beauty over people and building bridges in the sky over whole communities.
  • I want to be like the sign, offering forgiveness and giving love away, even when I have no single, logical reason to do so.
  •  I want to be like that playground…..old and rusty she may be, but she was purposed for providing exhilarating JOY and for turning countless kids into superheroes.

I want to be MORE but I’ll never be more wearing my life preserver, holding my weapons of defense and content with building my shrines.

You see, preserving, protecting and building shrines include at least three things: fear complacency, and self-interest. These three things ALL eventually result in death. Death to fruiting, death to growing and death to being used….death in friendships (yes),  death in spiritual promotion, and death in an ever-expanding identity.

We will find ourself constantly reacting from a place of fear instead of responding from a place of peace, trust, confidence, boldness, ….. ultimately, failing to see that God is really with us, powerful, and trustworthy.

We will find ourselves stagnant in complacency instead of being vibrant in our zealousness for the Lord.

And lastly, we will find ourselves shackled with handcuffs of our own making instead of being able to freely move within the identities the Lord has carved in us.

You know,

In our world, when something expires, it gets thrown away. But, in the kingdom, NO ONE ever expires or gets thrown away. EVERYONE can be used for an eternity. Whether we are 4 years old or 94, we can be used for the Kingdom. This is why we were made.

In fact, it was a 90 something year old women who spoke prophetically over me and encouraged me to follow the direction God was calling me. Sure, I had worship leaders and pastors over me who encouraged me, but this lady spoke out to me the specific pictures and visions the Spirit had put on my heart. The unjournaled, secret and sacred , she spoke out over me. She had no way of knowing. But she was still being used, despite her age, because of her age!  She didn’t let age stop her, and why should she? God is more powerful than age restrictions. Did he not first call out to Moses when Moses was 80 years old…and then continue to use him for 40 more years afterwards?

So, as I walked home, I thought about being usable. I want to be used, yes, but also usable. Pliable. Could I set myself aside in the unyielded and sacrificial way that I’ve been purposed for?

No more preserving. No more protecting. No more memorializing?

No more fear, no more complacency, no more self-interest?

That is where my heart lives today, a new season, a new territory, a new prayer…

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than a feeling,

More than a song.

You are not fleeting,

You are personal.

 

You want us to be like You,

Where You are,

In Your glory,

Embraced by Your heart.

 

And,

This is where friendship lies.

Not in the blandness of the earth,

Nor in the drama or lies.

 

So I will listen.

I  will seek stillness.

I’ll unpack the dirty and the hidden,

And open up to You, my one true friend

 

A true friend…

No one is truer than You

A listening friend…

Friendship is what You want.

Friendship is my response.

 

Sharing with You my whole life,

This is how I spend my time.

Because the truth of who You are,

Leads me home into Your heart.

 

What Are You, Anyway? ( a poem, of sorts)

They said,
“What are you, anyway?”

I  pretended I didn’t know

What they were talking about.

“I’m me, that’s who.”

(Even though I knew what they were getting at.)

 

“No, but what are you?” They asked,

“You know what I mean.”

I just belong here,” I said, 

In a way, not so specific,

Wanting them to say exactly what they meant.

 

“Okay, what race are you?” they said,

with resignation and emphasis.

“I  just am curious, because I need a label to 

organize you with my things that make sense. 

I’ve got a black and white world;

I don’t see any color now, you see.

Blue, black, polka-dots,

Green orange, and  brown

How, your skin intrigues me.

Because,

you speak English so well…

No accent detected; 

So what are you, anyway?

I’m listening.”

I linger over my thoughts

Should I give what they want?

Or make them suffer because

I won’t box myself up.

Amused at the game,

But tired of the ignorance.

Don’t you know WHAT I am

Isn’t defined by YOUR methods?

Labeling fast and cutting out

a paper doll world,

Dimensions withheld, 

It’s all just fake acceptance.

It’s all just….a warped perspective.

 

This nonsensical conversation,

In the first 5 minutes of meeting;

Identify now so you can assess me,

Up in an ethnic closet you’ll arrange me.

 

“I’m American!”

I  proclaim, just to drag it out.

I’ll help you dig your grave now.

And,  at the end of the day, 

I’ll giggle a bit.

Did I teach a lesson,

Or just waste my breathe?