Wednesday, February 28


a choice
believe the accusation
you are stuck
your are nothing
you will die

a choice
believe the hope
you are changeing
you are complete
you will live

a choice
believe the threat
you are worthless
you are hated
you will die

a choice
believe the hope
you are treasure
you are adored
you will live

a choice
believe the taunt
you are weak
you are bitter
you are dead

a choice
believe Salvation
you are made strong
you carry Love
you live

Thursday, February 22


The shriek of young children and the murmur of adult conversation fills the neighborhood coffee shop; the hum, one moment urgent and the next a nowhere-to-go droan, surrounds Rachel and I in a reassuring clamor. The noise is important to me. Rachel has a way of talking about deeply personal things in a too-loud voice, and I am uncomfortable for both of us.

It has been years since we last spoke; this connection is long overdue. For the next hour she shares the news of her life, loves, and long suffering. Her delicate, feminine frame is unyielding in it's perfect posture. She is a tightly controlled woman, accustomed to restraining all emotion. Her speech is measured, precise. She is articulate to a fault.

Occasionally she gives way to all but imperceptible tears; hers is a difficult life. A lonely life. A complicated life.

And in the two years since our last conversation, little has changed in the subtly abusive relationship she endures with the man whom she loves. His words are quick and cruel; he doggedly reminds her of her failures, her weakness, her imperfections. She feels her place is to stand by her man.

Our time is up. We say our quiet goodbye's and I leave her at her door. On foot, I set a fierce pace for home, stewing intently on the things I have just heard. Is she safe? I wonder. Is it wise for her to stay? Better for her to just ditch the dude and move on with a new life for her and her bright, witty, troubled teen aged daughter? Where is God in her struggle? Is she a valiant woman? Is she a coward?

My intent in mulling these things over was not to judge my friend, but to assess us women. I wrestle with our persistence in seeing our lives in unchanging and narrow ways. Some of us choose, relationally, to connect ourselves with people who bring us harm; feeling we have no recourse, we tolerate blatant abuses and sly rejections. Fearing isolation, the lack of companionship, and so many other complex and frightening demons, we cling to friendships and to loves that crush our souls and steal our personalities.

We stay in jobs that exhaust us. We consume substances that ensnare us. We feed our minds with things far from excellent. We pile on stresses, one atop another, until our health declines and our anger reaches a fever-pitch. All the while telling ourselves, "It just has to be this way. There is no other way."

As I continue my quick trek home, my thoughts turn inward. As I attack the problems of health and weight and personal baggage, a consideration skitters through my overloaded mind: A year ago, I didn't realize how out of shape I had allowed myself to become.

Two hundred pounds didn't just land on my small frame overnight. My muscles and respiratory system did not become overloaded in a matter of moments...or days...or weeks. My ill health and overweight came over time. It took years of dangerous and unhealthy choices for me to deteriorate to the point that I have.

For two years I have been battling my way to a healthier mind and body, and even today I have significant obstacles ahead of me.

I connect the dots between my weight struggle and Rachel's mindset. I apply the magnifying glass of my mental/physical choices to her emotional ones.

Mouthful by mouthful, I forced my body to carry almost one hundred pounds of un-needed weight. By refusing to address my body's need for movement and air (the couch is so wonderfully comfortable!) and by chanting the "I just can't do it!" mantra, I trapped my body in layers and layers of illness and fat.

Rachel has done the same thing. Her body is in stellar condition (she is a vegetarian and has always exercised religiously), but her soul, her spirit are being crushed beneath the weight of abuses suffered over many years.
Small abuses.
Repeated abuses.
Always-excused abuses.
Abuses that have added pound upon pound of unsupportable weight to her mind and heart.

But, like so many of us, she sits on her mental couch and says, "I can't break free of this. There is no other way." Or, worse yet, "If GOD wanted things to be different He'd do something about it."

She chooses the dangerous path of habit and sameness and "the devil she knows" over opportunity for health and safety. Over time, the weight she's piled on has begun to consume her and she cannot see the way out.

My coffee with Rachel sent me into a downward mental spiral (despair tells me, always, that people cannot, will not, dare not change); hopelessness threatened to snuff out faith.

But today an encounter with another woman ~~ a woman who continually moves forward in her relationships with God and others, a woman who routinely sheds extra baggage ~~ set me on a better course. A hope-filled course.

Talking of unrelated things she blithely said, "If people are seeking God, they will change. If they're seeking attention, they will not change."

Instantly the despairing thoughts of women being trapped (and unable to break free of their soul-killing relationships, addictions, resentments, and attitudes) were vanquished! What a simple blueprint for release, for freedom.

Childishly simple: go to the One who is able to help, and you'll get help.

I do not underestimate the depth of Rachel's suffering. I am not without deep compassion as I sit with her and hear her story. I will always listen to her tale. And I will always attempt to point her to the One who plans rescues and escape routes. If all she is seeking is my attention, then she'll get it. But if she is seeking change, hope, purpose, promise ~~ that must come from her God.

And He's ready for her. Any time. Any place. He's ready to rescue me. Any time. Any place. If I turn my eyes to Jesus, I'll see Him. I'll hear Him.
He's always speaking.
Always working.
And He has the power to change me.
He will set me free.
He will set you free.

Monday, February 12


Everything is permissible for me ~ but not everything is beneficial.
Everything is permissible for me ~ but I will not be mastered by anything
1 Corinthians

It all started with the cookies.

Well. Not even the cookies themselves, really, but the thought of cookies.

Crunchy, dipped-in-milk, chocolaty-chip goodness.

The thought came out of nowhere, midweek, when I was jotting down the family grocery list: You should buy cookies this week. You haven't had any for a long time. You can control yourself now. You've earned some cookies!

If there's one thing I should know about myself as I tramp along on this "Get Healthy" journey, it's that cookies are not an option. I can indulge in lots of other things (I eat chocolate every day, drink all sorts of soda, and eat whatever everyone else around me is eating), but cookies are my undoing. Everytime.

I was pretty sure this time would be different. I thought about cookies from midweek on to grocery day. Superstore, the week's chosen recipient of my hubby's hard-earned millions, was quiet and accomodating. I had lots of time to think happy cookie thoughts as I scratched item after item off of my lengthy list.

Fruits and vegies, check. A dozen liters of milk, check. Three loaves of bread, a sack of bagels, and some buns, check. Five boxes of breakfast cereal, all arguably nutritious, check. Frozen fruit for smoothies and a jug of vegie juice, check.

Cart piled high, I finally rounded the cookie aisle corner. Was it my imagination, or was the row bathed in an unearthly glow? Were those flashing neon arrows pointing the way toward sugary heaven?

A wee, whispery voice suggested that it might be better to step away from the cookies, but I was long past listening to such irrationality! I carefully chose the ideal sack of round, crisp, baked perfection, placed it gently in my over-loaded cart, and headed for the check out.

I couldn't get home fast enough. There would be a cookie feast this afternoon! Again, the quiet voice suggested that perhaps I was getting in over my head with this whole cookie gig, but I was still in reassuring denial: "I can handle this now. No problem. I'll just have a couple and then save the rest until later."

Which turned out to be true...if by "later" I meant "immediately following the six(teen?) I'd already eaten."

An unholy (but sadly gratifying) binge followed. I was unhinged. A sack of four dozen cookies lasted two days. I was completely sick. And frightfully ashamed. And very freaked out. Clearly, cookies are not the manageable indulgence I was hoping they were.

I'm back on track again. It took a couple of days of despairing and "I'm going to give up" thoughts. But I'm down almost seventy pounds with just a few more to go. And today is another day ~~ a good day for remembering that the finish line of this patience-testing, selfcontrol-building race is in sight. I'm not quitting now. I may have extended the run a little by my cookie consuming fiasco; cookie binges have consequences. I'll deal with them and move on.

And next week I'll avoid the cookie aisle altogether.

I do think, though, that I could handle a bit of cake...

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you, whom you have received from God?
You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians

Thursday, February 8

Lighten Up!

This Monday past came with chill air and a full schedule. I loaded the kids in the van, set out on a series of errands, squeezed in a fast food supper (Ugh! We're growing very tired of Wendy's, but it's a super cheap way to feed ourselves on the fly.), took the eldest to his fencing class, and then, kids in tow, trucked back across town to meet my husband at the train station. His day had been a long one and he was weary and distracted.

We left the Park n' Ride lot for home and came up quickly behind a stalled vehicle. The busy road we'd turned onto on this dark and chilly evening was down to one lane, the right hand lane blocked by a black car with no working lights. An accident waiting to happen.

My reflex was to pull over. By the time I'd stopped, my husband was part way out the door. Our thought: get this guy off the road before someone hits him.

Mohammed, the gentleman belonging to the car, was deeply distressed and struggling with his English, but we managed to get his car pushed to safety. Arms swinging in wide, desperate arches he repeated over and over, "God bless you. God bless you!"

He had been standing at the side of the road, with no cell phone and no offers of help, for forty-five minutes.

And his brother had died that morning.

His grief was tear-less and raw. We could taste the bitter bile of sorrow in our own mouths as he clutched at the sides of his face; large, searching hands at a loss and grasping for something solid, something living. "He has died, he has died! This very morning. My wife is crying at home...I don't know what to do."

We had no words for this troubled man.
Our thoughts turned to rescue.
"We'll take you home. Let's just take you home; we'll call for a tow truck, and the car can be dealt with later. Come. Get in the van and we'll take you home."

We had no comfort to offer him. I had no prayer to pray for him. We were just deeply sorry for his loss and for his obvious sorrow. Onto a scrap of paper, we scratched the address where we'd left the car. Tucking that into his hand we dropped him off at his home.

And we left.

This is not an unusual situation for our family to find ourselves in. And until recently, my habit was to spend days in self-recrimination, wondering why I had not done something to express Jesus to the person we were aiding. I never speak His name. I don't "lead" anyone into relationship with Him. I don't pray powerful healing prayers or see grand visions for their lives. I just help. And that feels small and ineffective in the scope of eternal things.

Ahhh. But here's where I am changing.
I am, perhaps, less important than I have been led to believe!
I can, perhaps, take myself and my part to play a little less seriously!

What if (gasp!!) the small part we played in Mohammed's Monday evening was enough? What if it was the whole part we were meant to play? I spent the evening battling the usual insecurities of "What more should I do?" and peppering my exhausted husband with ideas.

Until the thought struck again: what if we had already done all that we were meant to do?

If we consider our own stories and the countless repetitions of gentleness, kindness, correction, and direction that have shaped who we are and how we think, we are reminded that our teensy role in the lives of the people around us is contributing to their eventual acknowledgement of the Truth of Jesus.

It doesn't look like much from where we're left standing (and the minimal effort that goes into extending kindness on our part is almost laughable!), but maybe Jesus counts the small obedience to the whispered request ("Give a cup of water in my Name...") as "...well done, good and faithful servant..."

A friend later said, "God knows Mohammed's need." That brought instantaneous quiet in me. God knows the real-life needs in the hearts, minds, souls of the people around us. If I just respond to the small thing He's asked of me in this moment, I can trust Him with the life of the one I'm encountering. I can remember, too, that He'll let me know if there's something specific He wants me to do.

If I concentrate on the one thing right in front of me, I will not become overwhelmed with the many needs beyond my help. I can simply shoulder a lightened burden. An easy yoke.

And I can remember, always, that it is God who works to rescue, to restore. I'm just one of many of His servants.

A good lesson in taking myself less seriously. A good motivation to honor the Living God who sees all, knows all, and longs to rescue every one.

Tuesday, February 6

There's a new light lifting
Over old horizons
These tired eyes
~Trina Dunsmoor~

Thursday, February 1

today's prayer
for the women in my life
those worthy
struggling heroins
in my life
was a prayer
a cry
for faith-filled

today i hurt
one of the friend-gifts
that i treasure

i was angry
and i said so
and i didn't stop there

and i hurt
one of the friend-gifts
that i treasure

i do not know
how to feel
how to express
how to be
and yet be true to my good Lord
my good friends






if i hurt
the ones i treasure
than my own life

face lifted to the sky
i seek the One
who does not change
like shifting shadows

make us
that we were ever
to be