Monday, March 31, 2014

Forever Secure

photo credit auckland daily

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. (Psalm 23:1-3)


Fear and unbelief
Send me wandering
Across a desolate land
Scorched trees, cracked soil
Shadowy sky inked in black
I travel upon frail bones
That feel like crushed pottery
Lies echo across nothingness
As I cry out for the true voice
I wander to find still waters
And skies of azure
A voice calls from a distance
Amongst rolling hills
Soft grass bends and sways
As gentle breeze brushes my cheek
Leaves flutter on plush trees
Flowers nod, aroma sweet
Puffed sparrow sings from branch high
Ripples spread and splash
Across my weary soul
Like a pebble tossed in water
As this wanderer finds a home
Healing to brittle bones
Truth keeps my feet sure and firm
Free from fear that tries to swoop
Down with razor-sharp talons
Shepherd holds me tight, always near 
Tends my soul, forever secure 


The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; 
rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. 
And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father'.  (Romans 8:15)

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) 
 


Friday, March 28, 2014

A Note from the Heart


I found my sweet girl presenting her sister with this letter today.  

Dear Little Bitty~

You are funny and nice

I love you so much

I like the way you laugh

I like the way you play

You are the best, Little Bitty

I have fun with you

Love,
Maddie Grace




  
MG painted the 3 of us today


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Unfolding Story


Photo credit: socialsciencespace.com

The edges of God are tragedy.  The depths of God are joy, beauty, resurrection, life.  Resurrection answers crucifixion; life answers death.  
~ Marjorie Suchocki


Chapters are being written, pages turned
Years of winter and windswept, biting cold
Severed limb exposes gutted brown
Twists in storyline give way to different paths
To indulge in acrid sap, become stuck in forlorn
Or receive sweet waters - deluge of joy and hope
A surrender to the raging pain
Is yielding to unknown, wavering ground
Wonderment that sun soars each day
Globe still whirls round
When grief is heavy, seeping down to inner being
Each chapter penned by fierce love
You can handle my anger and questioning
You stretch my soul and inflate it with new growth
A harvest-- a faint sprout shooting up
From colorless stub, a yearning for beautiful hues
Sorrow has become an old friend, time and again
Intermingled with joy and hope, a tangled vine
A tapestry-  unknown where one ends, the other begins
To walk in this story is to embrace the harrowing
Let it all sink down, transform who I am
Fight against whitewashed soul and masking what's real
It's often a battle to truly feel
Sometimes to gain is to lose
Hope in the barren, joy in the storm
Pages of beauty marked by blizzards of pain
Sunshine in the downpour, breath from the grave
Wholeness comes in the broken and afflicted
Hallowed story continues to be created
Firm foundation, pull me deeper into you
You plunge into the center of this narrative true
Pages trimmed and tear stained with sorrow
Yet, the larger theme is always resurrection
Revealing your glory, delicate composition
Grace upon grace always for the morrow



The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. [1] 

Whatever that future is, it will, and must, include the pain of the past with it. Sorrow never entirely leaves the soul of those who have suffered a severe loss.  If anything, it may keep going deeper. [2]


 






1. Jerry L. Sittser, A Grace Diguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, (Zondervan, 2004) 42.
2. Sittser, 73.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Your Eyes

Photo credit:  Akiane Kramarik

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.  (Hebrews 6:19-20)



Your glorious eyes are fixed upon me.

They reflect emerald hues of the sea,

Beckoning me forward-- to step out.

Hope feels dangerous and scary now

As my feet plunge into fierce, choppy water,

I am chained to you like an anchor.

It seems risky-- like I may sink and drown,

As tentacles wrap and try to pull me down

Into the dark, bottomless abyss.

You say step forward, I was made for this.

You have set me apart, I can't be taken.

Evil's grip will always be shaken.

Securely attached to you, I will cling.

Like the unthawing ground of spring

And the unraveling of scented bud,

I am made new by the spilling of your blood.

When my heart's rubbed raw and evil seems to win

Your eyes challenge me to rise and battle again.

You remind me it's all done,

You have conquered and won.

Darkness saturated by light

Like amber glow bursting through night.

Your eyes, piercing and tender, hold mystery and passion.

They are fixed on me-- your treasured possession.

Your eyes give faith to the fearful, compassion to the broken.

They gleam glory and strength, joy and perfection.

Your eyes hold promise in the furnace where I am placed.

It is all used-- nothing goes to waste.

Merciful Savior, hear my cries.

Keep me forever fixed on your eyes.


He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:10)

 ...so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Prisoner

photo credit:  watchdog.org
 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope...
(Zechariah 9:12)


This past week has been hard.  Far too many reasons to count.

The lies have been stronger than the truth.  

Scripture has danced before vacant eyes and bounced off my hurting heart. 

My hands have been open and longing.  

My soul desperate and tired.

Prayers have been sighs and moans.

I could go on and on about frustrations.  

We've had a new social worker for almost each month we've had Little Bitty--  4 workers in 5 months.  

Confusion, chaos, dropped balls.   

We've gone to court 3 times-- arranging for my gracious mom to come from out of town to keep the kids.  

Each time we've returned home with no trial.  Court has been rescheduled 4 times. 

I hate family court.  

My fractured past colliding with the present.   

Awkwardly sitting on stained wooden benches.  

Being ushered into a suffocatingly tiny room to discuss our case at length with Little Bitty's attorney. 
  
I can hide behind designer clothes and leather boots, cute accessories and Revlon (yes, I buy cheap make-up).  

But it's hard to hide behind a face tattered and worn
 from years of hard living.   

Those are the faces that stare back at you in family court, as they await their name to be called.

Names rattled off succinctly like beats of a drum. 

I hate the reality of brokenness and sin.  

I hate how my heart is so haughty one minute and then mangled the next by the enormity of our case and the families involved.  

The gut-wrenching stories.  

Real lives hanging in the balance.

And, as the names are periodically called, my heart beats a painful rhythm of my own story.  My past.  Thumping against my chest are the lies that still haunt me.   

It's easier to pretend everything is fine.  

To look pretty and smile in my leather boots and designer dress.   

And so tonight I finally broke.  
My heart pulsing truth.  Tears washing away lies.

Remembering my Father's abundant blessings-- too many to count.  

One rich gift has echoed through the walls of my heart for the past 24 hours.   The words of a precious friend, who tenderly spoke truth and called me dear one.  I have soaked in those words all day.

An overwhelming kindness from a loving and merciful Father.  A balm to the soul and the words of Christ.

 Dear one, beloved

 And I remember the shame and lies I hear are not true of me.  That girl is gone, her heart beats afresh.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.  (Ezekiel 36:26) 
  
Another blessing came tonight, as a sweet foster mama friend encouraged me with this post from Katie Davis:
  
And right there on the worn pages I read Zechariah call God’s people "prisoners of hope."  And I knew that I hadn’t been. Once more I had become more of a prisoner of overwhelming concern about the trauma of my children’s pasts and shifted my gaze away from what, Who I was really captive to... 

My flesh wants to shake the head no but I am a prisoner to God who says “Yes!” All of His promises – peace, joy, love, forgiveness, salvation! – they are Yes to me and Yes to her in Christ!  Eternity is Yes in Christ. And because of His Yes I can say Yes to all that He gives. Even all that He allows.

Hope is my captor – Hope for her healing here which has already begun and hope for our life eternal with Him. Hope that He who began a good work in us is not finished yet and will carry it to completion until the day that He comes and hope that He is coming.
 
Remembering once again who I am-- a prisoner of hope.  His beloved.

As He tenderly calls me (and you)...

Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me. (Song of Songs 2:10-13)







Friday, March 14, 2014

Darling girl


photo credit:  theguardian.com



Little girl has big dreams
Travels far, lives on foreign soil
Dreams of beauty
Creeps on bare feet through blades of grass
Blowing dandelion fluff into the wind
Swinging high, laughter carried by the breeze
Darling girl
The Father sees
You are not invisible
But you feel made of glass
And begin to break
Under heavy hands
Trust becomes a mist
Become too acquainted with abuse
Misused, mistreated
Your soul longs for more
But you get lost in pills and smoke
Desperate for a cure to the deep ache 
Darling girl 
Youth is lost
A baby comes
Then another
You dare to hope
In tiny toes and promises
But fog seeps in
You crave the familiar
Returning again and again
You can no longer lift your head
Baby cries
Little hands go unnoticed
Lies haunt
Demons stalk
The knock comes
Babies taken
You become frozen
Losing all you've loved
Can't escape the past, or the present
But if you would only lift your head
Open your eyes
You would see what you're missing
You were made for more
Darling girl

*this is fiction- not written about any person in particular-- many experiences and stories combined over past 2 years.






Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Save

backyard fire pit ~msingleton


 ...to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

(Isaiah 61:3)




Soul aches
Earth quakes
Like thunderous waves
Bitter rolls round my tongue
Savor for a moment
Craving to swallow it down

Let root take hold, grow
Flesh wants to dive in
Swim in tears and lonely

Get lost in hazy smoke

Reach in, pull me out
Sustainer, Rescuer
Shepherd, Most High

Lover of my soul
Rotten stench desires to suffocate
And choke out beauty
Evil hungers to pull me down
Into the open grave
Reach in, pull me out

Save 


photo credit: picstopin.com
photo credit:  picstopin.com


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Father to the Fatherless

photo credit:  Growingupwithoutafather.org
photo credit:  growingupwithoutafather.org

He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.  Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.  You shall fear the Lord your God.  You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. 
(Deuteronomy 10:18-20)





You say to truly live is to die

My flesh wants to run, bury, and hide

From raw, fractured, heart-piercing places

Devastated, ruined, hollow spaces

A glimpse of my own life, my tattered dress

Fallen hard and damaged, such a mess

Shell of a girl, I think I have nothing to give

But You say come and truly live




You loved me first is what I hear

Filthy, at my worst, and full of fear

Adorned anew with jeweled crown 

Tenderly presented in shimmering holy gown

You do the work, your transforming grace

I seek your eyes, you hold my face

The apple of your eye, mercy abounds

Cleaned with your blood, lost is now found




This grace brings little children in and out our door

To sleep in our beds- our hearts never as before

You say the kingdom belongs to such as these

We cry out and fall upon our knees

Unworthy to the call, the task you give

You love them more and say simply submit

Our precious Savior carries us close to His heart

Sustaining us with hope when we fall apart




We were once the sojourner, the orphan, the helpless

You sought us and bought us, Father to fatherless

Rescue us from unbelief, may we trust you to bring justice

As you fight for the needy, poor, and defenseless

You hear their cry, hold them in your hand

Your ways we can never completely understand

You give us hearts that follow, hands open wide

Because you loved us first, to truly live is to die



 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Fragile


Open your heart.  Someone will come.  Someone will come for you.  But first you must open your heart. [1]



 
Hope took flight
When I believed lies
Splintered shards
Buried deep
Paper thin heart
Withered to dust
Shattered trust
Fragile girl
Eyes frozen
Spirit starved
Soul swallowed
By bleak sky
Depth of night
Buried in rubble
Disquieted, alone
Defeat gained hold
Indifference made a home 


Then you ran
Wrapped me tight
Lifted my head
Opened my eyes
Gave me strength
Flooded with affection
I breathed deep
Head on your chest
Heartbeat of Son
Arms of Father
The mighty oak
My only hope
Refuge and peace
What my heart truly seeks
The cutting heals
The wounds reveal
Who I am in you




It was a singular sensation to be held so gently and yet so fiercely, to be stared down at with so much love. Edward felt the whole of his china body flood with warmth. [2]


 


 1. Kate DiCamillo, the Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, (Candlewick Press, 2006) 192.
2. DiCamillo 128

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Carry Me

m singleton


You say come

Behind fortress walls

Safe refuge

Under feathers

Dwell and rest

Weary soul 

High and lifted

In hands of angels

Just for me

Cover me

Tend me

Shepherd me

Hold me

Through furious storm

I am worn

You rescue

And share my scars


For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
 
(Psalm 91:11-12)



Monday, March 3, 2014

Drowning Deep

photo credit:  www.smscs.com


   He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
  he drew me out of deep waters. (2 Samuel 22:17)




There was an invitation from my earliest days

A voice, a call-- begging my praise

Steamy, golden summer heat

Tromping needled paths on bare feet

Rays filtering through trees overhead

Speckled shadows dancing on trail, dirt red

Mason jar sloshing with tadpoles for home

All quiet except the cicada chorus drone

Capturing dragonflies upon a string

Friendship flying nearby on wing

Exploring all day, I lose track

Distant warmth waning at my back

Swollen pink clouds at days end

Sun sinking low to meet horizon

Glimmering above of twilight palette

The dusk music surround of frog and cricket

You were there, You pursued

You were present, You knew 



Beauty became hazy as I grew

Neglecting any memories of you

The allure decaying, I became jaded

Stars dimmed, daylight faded

Soul hardened, rain poured

Settled for temporary notice, empty reward

Took wrong turn on filthy black trail

Wandered far and wide, to no avail

Orphan washed away in billowing swell

I perfected all the strategies to rebel

Polished my golden idols and bowed low

Stuffed anything in my God-shaped hole

Submerged and tossed in dark depths of sea

Love pulled this waif from bottom deep

Into the light of sandy shore

I am yours whom you adore

You invite me to waters full of grace

Washed new, I seek your face

I sink low begging to drown

In grace and mercy that now abounds