Thursday, April 28, 2016

BookArt5_livingjourney I am linking up with Bonnie Gray and her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, again. As she explored the thought of Rest as it relates to being alone with Jesus, she re-told the story of the Mount of Transfiguration, and the Disciples seeing the Glory of Jesus shining before them (Can you imagine being witness to such an incredible moment?) But the fear that overtook them as the Mountain Trembled,  was QUIETED as Jesus spoke to them,  ALONE with only them.  
So, is there a quietness that my fearful heart needs to embrace in my own time of being ALONE with Jesus?


Those two little words were never part of my picture of disease or illness. 

In the past, I thought I viewed people who were suffering through the eyes of compassion.  I hurt for them, and I wanted to find a way to help them. I wanted to lift them to Jesus most of all.

But something changed when I was the one suffering.  

I never thought about the humiliation that might come when I could not hold the coins in my hand at the check-out counter. I never thought about the shame of being seen as the Shuffling-One as I tried to move out of the way for the Hurried-Ones.  No, I had felt the shame of messing up from my own mistakes, or being hurt by another's wrong choices.

But how was it that I came to this place of being humiliated by my own physical condition?  And where did I pick up this feeling of being ashamed by my illness?  I was as shocked by what I was carrying around in my heart, even more than what I was carrying around in my body.

As I cried out to Jesus, I realized that God never HUMILIATES.   God brings HUMBLENESS, a lesson that I have asked to be taught many times throughout my lifetime.  I was ready to learn again, here in this place of Chronic Illness.  But I realized that before I could learn more about humbleness, I would need to learn how to quiet my heart from this weight of SHAME that I carry with me.

Quiet my own heart?  There is so much fear attached to shame and humiliation: Fear of being exposed, feeling naked in the shame.  I am not alone in this Shame Game.  I have borne the burdens of many others who also walk hunched over by shame. Could it be that Jesus is letting me physically bear this shuffling time, hunched over in protectiveness from the pain, so that I can let that compassion run deeper in my veins?

Jesus invites me in, where He dwells, into my most vulnerable heart.  And He whispers


I cannot be near to His Heart without feeling His heartbeat.  He covers the Shame of the naked ones, and He lifts up the shuffling of the humiliated ones.

"So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine." Ezekiel 16:8

The Lord of all, calls us HIS OWN and invites us to share in HIS GLORY.  When HE covers our shame, with HIS OWN cloak, then we truly are transformed, lifting our shuffling to gaze on HIM.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

It's the wrong time of year for a Christmas Amaryllis

And it's the wrong time of year for a Christmas JOY ornament

But God knows when HIS SEASONS are ripe for Harvest.

My friend (thank you, Mary) gave me this Christmas Amaryllis Bulb several years ago.  I followed her instructions, but no bloom stalk appeared.  I asked for more instructions; I googled "how to re-bloom amaryllis;" I watered, and I held back on watering; I placed it in the dark, and I placed it in the sun.  NOTHING.  Until this Spring.  Not Christmas, and not even Fall.  But this Spring when I have surrendered much of my place in the garden, God chose to bring the garden to me.

With whispers
                 And wooing
                              And longings

He awakens the Desire for HIS kind of Seasons, and HIS kind of pleasant Boundaries. 

Yes, I am still trying to learn that "Boundaries" word over here.  It has been a difficult week of 
sowing and breaking up ground that seems too hard to ever fall soft with the plow.

But then the Master Gardener parts the fog in my fibro-brain, and tells back to me my own story written years ago in the days of my Care-Giving-Lifestyle:

Another friend entrusted me to care for her Garden on the days she was away from it. This was her own dear Secret Garden, a place set apart from her normal day-to-day life, a Second Home near the Lake, and I was set to help it flourish in her absence.

But neither of us planned for that Summer-of-the-Heat.  Day after day the temps soared above the comfort zone for her newly planted Secret Garden.  The row of young Hydrangeas suffered the most: wilting every afternoon and fainting even in the evening.  I spent hours soaking those baby plants.  And as I watered, I grieved the pain and soon-to-come-passing of my cancer-ridden brother. Hemmed in with those thirsty hydrangeas, I soaked in the Love of God for my hurting brother.  

HEALING came to my brother when Jesus called him to Heaven.  And healing came to me as I poured out my tears alongside the water for those thirsty hydrangeas.

So, this week, when I chafed at the thought of ever learning how to live within the Boundaries set by my Lord, He spoke to me:

"You HAVE learned to walk My way. Remember the hydrangeas in the heat of the drought? Hemmed in, but not cut off, you watched as I helped you pour LIFE on their thirsty ground."


(Thank you to Janet G for letting me use her beautiful picture of her Secret Garden. This is the way these now-mature Hydrangeas define the Pleasant Boundaries of her Garden.)

We may not know which Season will bring our blooms again.  It probably won't be at the time we would have planned for it.  But we can be sure, God will bring the sun and the water when He knows the time is right.

Time for the Garden to Bloom with HIS new Gifts.

 "Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3

I'm linking up today with The Faith Barista  
where my word is "Bloom."

OneWordCoffee Linkup


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Community. . .

The Body of Christ. . .

Bear one anothers burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galations 6:2) . . .

Because He told us that HIS yoke is easy and HIS burden is light, why is it so confusing to us, this burden-bearing-process?   Why do those burdens that we pick up along the way with each other feel so heavy?

My Counselor gave me a hard word for my "Homework" this week:


I have a hard time with that word. You see, years ago, Jesus tore down my own walls of perfection that I had set for myself.  Now I don't like the idea of  re-setting fences; re-erecting walls to fend off possible attacks;  re-forming masks to keep out prying eyes. . .  Neither did Jesus. After all, He called out the Pharisees with their whitewashed sepulchers! (Matthew 23:27)

And yet, BOUNDARIES are spoken of quite differently when the Holy Spirit places them:

"Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; 

you make my lot secure. 

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; 

surely I have a delightful inheritance." (Psalm 16:5-6)

Have I created my own confusion?  What if I have picked up yokes along the way that were never meant for me? What if I have set up protections for myself that never needed to be in place?  But what if I have MISSED the very protection that would have been pleasant for me, by walking on past the YOKE that Jesus would have desired me to bear? 

Here in this place of RA/Fibro weakness,  a new Season of Yoke-bearing has become inescapable. I cannot bear the old burdens any longer; I cannot live the old way of


that I was in the habit of doing. And I have felt adrift. Cut off from the Body. Because if NO-BOUNDARIES-LIVING is not possible, how can I ever learn again to bear ANY burdens?

In the middle of these questions, I came across this beautiful Hymn, sung so sweetly by Angela Figel:

I can remember my 9 year old self standing outside at recess and singing this song to my friends! (Yes, I KNOW that's not normal, but that's the amazing connection with this video:  I found out I was not the only child who loved this hymn!) 

Ah, but it has been this little girl inside of ME, who has needed to pay attention to the Words.


Walking forward in this Journey, if I listen to HIS promptings,

the boundary lines can indeed be pleasant.

Even in the most trying of places, HE still carries the heavy part of our load Himself.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer."

--Albert Camus 


Standing outside, feeling the sun warm my winter-weary soul today, I almost cried as I tasted the air of spring on my tongue.  

What does winter taste like?  I never realized that I would settle in to the place of dreary and grey and count it as normal.  In the past, Spring seemed always to wait around the bend for me.  A Gardener with Hope-for-the-Sun, that was me.  But when fatigue rules the mind, then spring flutters itself away to a corner where it cannot be found, or even dreamed.

I placed the walls around my heart, even as the stiffness walled in my muscles.  And yet, somehow, Spring does come.  And my heart is caught unaware, in this place of walls and dim lighting and cold.  Have you been in that place?  Pain can do that to a person: make them hunch and cower and run for cover.  Jesus says that He causes the weary one to rejoice, but where is the music when the room is silent?

  Psalm 18:16-19
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

That Spacious Place?  That Room filled with music?  That Taste of Spring? It has become my heart filled up with HIM; because He, the Lord, delights in me.   Pain or Fatigue or Weakness or Shame cannot stop His Delighting, because HE DELIGHTS TO RESCUE.

Oh, What a Thought!  Jesus delights in me, and He delights in you, too, my friend.

Once again, I am linking up over at The Faith Barista, with her book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, where I am learning to find REST for my soul.

She speaks about a heart walled-off from the pain of the past. But what if the pain in the present is where the Heart-Walls are?  

Jesus delights to rescue me in that place of pain, and He will rescue you.  However grey or dim your days, Spring will come.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

I am a rag doll washed up on the shore of a distant island

"Could it be that you have been brought here, to this place, as a kind of retreat?" It's the latest question my Counselor asked of me.

But this retreat has a shameful feeling to me somehow.

In the past, I have been the giving one.  I have been the listening one, and I have been the caring one. Only now, as my joints repair themselves from the trauma of this past year and a half of the Rheumatoid Arthritis Storm, my emotions are still being tossed in the pain and fatigue of this FibroState.  There is no stamina for the old ways of coping with that pain, let alone stamina to listen and to give and to show my caring.   The old me is covered in shame at that thought.

And yet the waves wash over me as I slump and flump, rag-dolling my way onto the island. 
Washed clean of the old
Quieted by the stillness of the slowing waters.

So I hear my soul responding: 

If it's Jesus bringing me to this Retreat

Then there is nowhere else I would rather be.


I have been reading the book by the author whose website I've linked-up with this past month, Bonnie Gray,  TheFaithBarista. Her book "Finding Spiritual Whitespace",  is steeped in a Soul-Resting-Journey for those who feel faint-of-heart.  But ironically, the traveling she offers is anything BUT faint-of-heart, requiring a new kind of strength:  being carried in the arms of Jesus to the island of HIS retreating, where He brings  HIS REST.



"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me..... and you will find rest for your soul.....for my burden is light"

OH I DO want to learn of Him: 

how to find HIS emotional strength; how to know that it is OK to be the emotionally-fragile one for now; how to be that Rag-doll, resting in HIS strong Hands, while He keeps me on this Island-Retreat for the time that is planned by Him.  And in this learning, there is NEW and there is RECEIVING and there will be GIVING again, from a heart made light with Soul-Rest.

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