A place to lay my heart.

March 12, 2015, 4 31 PM   erinsalmon   VSCO Grid Its after two a.m. now -- my house is finally clean, and John Waller is flooding through my headphones. I've never been good at waiting, and I think God must know this about me, because he continually makes me practice. I've always thought it easy to sense him moving when things are happening. I felt him moving when Kevin and Katie were called to minister in a different state. I knew he was near when I learned of the death of David and Jessica's baby boy. I sensed his presence so strongly when I spoke vows two summers ago.

But he doesn't seem so close on an idle Thursday night filled up by laundry and dishes and scrubbing the ring around the bathtub. Real estate agents are coming to look at our house tomorrow -- our landlady has decided she wants to sell, and we do not want to buy -- ergo, we must begin looking for another place to rent. But the truth is, our hearts are not here. Our hearts ache for a town two counties over: the city where we went to college, cultivated deeply rooted friendships, fell in love, and where we still attend church. The Lord was faithful to provide this little house, right in the middle of town. He was faithful to open doors for our jobs. But the door to return to Toccoa remains closed, for now.

We're in the bittersweet balance of in between: trusting that the Lord has us where he wants us today, and at the same time, longing for the hope of his plan for tomorrow. Sometimes, it just seems like too much to cope with. I've busied myself, hardened my heart in frustration at times. I've struggled with loneliness like never before. At my worst, I've given in to the thought that this season is devoid of purpose -- that God is just being mean for the sake of it, and thank you but no thank you, God, I don't think I could possibly take anything of value away from this, so you can just quit while you're behind, because this is not at all what I had in mind. 

It seems like life is just piling up, and I've got a lot of questions -- but at the end of the day, it boils down to the basics: who am I, and what am I called to?

I know in my heart of hearts that he isn't hiding -- I've just been avoiding him. It isn't something I'm particularly proud to admit, but there it is. I'm broken, sick and tired of eating manna in the wilderness. I don't want to pray, don't want to want anymore because the wanting is just too painful. Patience is a pill I have vehemently refused.

I reached something of a crossroads over dinner tonight. Earlier in the night, Craig admitted that he felt like a failure. I couldn't help but echo the sentiment for myself. And oh how the invisible dam behind my eyelids struggled to contain the surge of hot liquid salt. I told him that it seemed like the right time to pray -- time to remember that peace is not a place on the map, but the person of Christ, who desires to flood the here and now with glory. He invites us to cast our cares on him, because he cares for us. He is our refuge.

So I lift my eyes once more, and whisper a prayer for consolation that brings forth joy, a prayer that all else would fade away in the light of his goodness. I'm confident that I will see his goodness, even in this place.

Haste the day.

1237033_10151877617020821_1446422023_n I woke wobbly on Wednesday morning, unsure of what the day would hold. Two days earlier, we had read the news on a screen: our dear friends had lost a baby. His tiny heart had beaten steadily for thirty-nine weeks, but emerged still and silent.

I had just watched a rerun from the show with all the kids. Tears fell as I watched them struggle to find the heartbeat of their twentieth, a baby girl, still hidden away in mother's womb.

And the peace that befell this sweet mother's face in the midst of her grief and loss was overwhelming to me. She wept for the life of her daughter, the plans that were made in anticipation of her arrival. But she acknowledged that the Lord gives and takes away, and that His plans are not our own.

I found comfort in her words as we drove to the funeral for David and Jessica's son: "her eyes never opened to see me, but her eyes were opened and she saw the Lord first."

And when we arrived to the church, we saw the lyrics to that old familiar hymn: when peace like a river attendeth my way.

We've been studying about wellness at church over the past few weeks, and how it can only happen when your whole body and your whole heart and your whole mind are surrendered to the Lord.

I'll be the first to admit that sometimes, surrendering is the last thing I want to do. Because how on earth can we speak the words blessed be the name of the Lord when what He gives doesn't feel like a blessing?

How can we cease this striving when we feel as though we have been cheated out of something we deserved, something we prayed for, longed for, planned for? I flinch and flail, my soul recoiling from the shock of it all.

Still, I marveled at the faith before me as David stood over his son's coffin. There would be no little league victories, no high school or college graduations, no championship seasons, no wedding. Michael would never go on to have children of his own. So with a shaky voice and tear filled eyes, David motioned to the coffin and said "this is my son, in whom I am well pleased."

Anger, fear, and sadness flooded my cheeks as my heart wrestled to say that this, even this, could be well with my soul. And then came the whisper, sure as David's voice as he spoke over his son. Our God is no stranger to this pain.

He watched his one and only son be beaten and hung on a cross -- all for the sake of proving that he was trustworthy.

Days later, even as I wrestle these words onto the page, He whispers "you can trust Me." 

Because no circumstance is happenstance to the God who promises to go before us. We can never carry a cross that He did not bear first on our behalf.

It is true, there are days -- so many days -- when I just want to throw in the towel. It is a figure of speech used in wrestling, a way of saying that you just can't go on anymore. And I think of Jacob, who wrestled with God himself. Even at the break of day, Jacob refused to let go until he received God's blessing.

I find myself slowly opening my hands to receive even this, and I pray Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight. 

Because of this I am confident: I will see God's goodness. 

Even so, it is well with my soul.


David sang this song at Michael's funeral, and it hasn't stopped playing since.

{You are rich in mercy, slow to anger. Your love endures forever. Who is like You, Lord, in all the world?}

[embed]https://play.spotify.com/track/1uj23ifUYyhoux0oL1uNGj[/embed]

 

 

On trusting and becoming beautiful.

everythingbeautiful Eleven days into the new year, and my one word is already proving to be more difficult than I had anticipated. I'm learning, soft and slow, that resting in the Lord is really only possible when you trust Him.

Trust that He is making this, making you, beautiful. 

I struggle to find the words hiding deep within my bones, because trusting is a process and truly seeing takes intention. Seeing takes slowing down, opening my hands + my soul to appreciate the mystery of grace. He leaves fingerprints behind as he molds us, tiny evidence that we belong.

Study God as Creator, because if He made you, then He can keep you, and if He can keep you, then He can always reach you. He is strong enough to love you. -- Andy Kerner

My friend's words resonate loud, conviction thundering as I work to put the pieces together.

It's right there: He who has promised is faithful. He's trustworthy, even when we can't see beyond our doubt. And when we bring our burdens to him, we find rest for our souls.

He is unequivocally for us. At our darkest hour, hiding in the Garden, He came to find us. And ever since, He has been drawing us back. Have my clenched fists suffocated the glory from the gift?

Beauty needs room to breathe. I feel the Spirit say, "can you trust enough to just let go?"

At the end of the day, its all so intricately woven together.

 

Linking up with some of the most gorgeous women over at Lisa-Jo's place today for Five Minute Fri(Sun)day.

The Testimony of Creation

Donald Miller once wrote "all the trees are losing their leaves, and not one of them is worried." I can't tell you how much time has passed since I first read those words, but I can tell you that they still leave me in a mixed state of awestruck and convicted. I keep coming back to them.

I have always loved Autumn. Nothing quite compares to the way blue sky stretches to meet crinkly mustard and burnt sienna, and the swaying motion of crisp terra cotta as it dives towards the ground. Its all incredibly beautiful, but there is a much darker side: creeping death is at work. Soon, the trees will be skeletons, shivering in biting gray wind.

The earth is unafraid of what is about to take place. She does not struggle to maintain her grip.

Oh, how I have been afraid, and struggled to maintain my grip.

In the opening chapter of Romans, Paul tells the church at Rome that there is no excuse for not knowing God, when His glory can be found everywhere. By taking a look around us, His divine presence should be evident enough.

Christ tells us to consider the birds, how they don't sow or reap or gather, and yet the Lord sustains them. Will He not provide for us, His children, in the same way? And look at the lilies, they don't toil or spin, and yet they are dressed more beautifully than even the richest of kings. Simple grass, here today and gone tomorrow. How much more does Father God care for us? He knows what we need, and longs to be gracious.

Donald continues, "teach us what the flowers already know: that we'll live and die, and You'll clothe us -- all for your glory."

Eyes brim as I recall in scripture where it says that He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.  Even when I'm falling, even when it seems like I have been forgotten and all hope seems lost. Even when the pain of winter is so bitter, and springtime seems so far away. He is holding me together.

Is this not reason enough to praise?

Christ said that if we cease praising, the very rocks will cry out.

This is the testimony of creation: that we don't have to worry about what may come tomorrow. Creation testifies to the heart of the Creator.

A friend tweets "Study God as Creator, because if He made you, then He can keep you, and if He can keep you, then He can always reach you. He's strong enough to love you."

God as Creator: His name literally means “the sound of breathing.” He spoke, breathed His life image into the world and all that is went through the process of becoming. He spoke perfection: once broken, but never beyond His reach. The Word became flesh, but even his own failed to recognize him, and how often do I err in the same way? How frequently do I go through my days without realizing the evidence of a grace-torn curtain, His glory unleashed?

Christ, entirely familiar with my afflictions, and yet without sin. He took my punishment. How could that be insufficient? And how much does He, who went to the ends of the earth to save once and for all, desire to bless with all things?

Knowing this, receiving it, is how we begin to live a life like the lilies, a life that wholly recognizes the sovereignty of God. The lilies live open, stretched upward, as though to say that they are ready to receive the grace.

He’s holding me together, in His love and mercy. He knows what I need before I ask. Nothing that happens here catches Him off guard — and all those nagging “what ifs” and all the creeping, crippling fear have no place when we rest in His presence, when we listen to the truth that He is speaking over us: that we are always loved, always within reach.

Coming to the AltarLinking up with The Nester and a host of other amazing bloggers for {31 Days}Returning to some words written last month in When Fear Throws Pebbles...