Love Like Him

Sometimes, my heart breaks for the love that suddenly overwhelms me for the stranger sitting across the restaurant. I don't know why. Sometimes, this stranger can be sitting with his wife--they are both old and cuddled as close as their bodies can be in a booth. Other times, it is a middle-aged woman alone, carefully wiping up the crumbs with her tattered napkin--her eyes slightly dim.

Sometimes, I glance out the car window while sitting at a red light and have a flood of love wash over me for the old man in the car next to me...or the teenage girl staring with blank eyes straight ahead...

There are times when I wish I could get out of the car and wrap my arms around the woman standing at a busy intersection with a sign that reads: Mother of two. Lost my job. Trying to pay rent...

I see her tears. I understand her fear. But what do I have to give but the sudden Christ-like love that has just overwhelmed me.

There are children in church that I want to hold and snuggle close. I've cried just at the sight of 90 year-old woman in her wheelchair as her eyes light up like a candle at the sight of my smiling daughter prancing through the hallway...

Sometimes, the love that the Lord places in my heart for His children crushes me. I think it is His way of reminding me of how He looks at all the people in this world: the homeless, the wounded, the ones in bondage by their shame and pasts...

And I want to take them all in my arms and tend their wounds. That's what I was created for, isn't it? If I know the unconditional love of a Savior, why wouldn't I want to pour it out on all those around me?

So I try to be a bit more patient with the waitress taking my order that hasn't gotten it right the last two times. Because I see that the Lord loves her, fiercely.

I bite my tongue when someone says that we should never give the woman or man on the corner money because it is only for drugs...because I see that Lord loves them BOTH...fiercely.

I will be patient, loving and kind to my friends and family (I will TRY) even when pain and hurt comes my way.

I will teach my children to do the same. Because you never know who needs it the most.


Hero At Eight Years-Old

Arriving in Spencer late Tuesday night, a church sign lit up by a spot light caught my attention: Pray For The Brett Family. In the morning, by the light of day, there was no mistaking the yellow ribbons, the candles, the flags lined up and pressed deep into the earth, the pictures of a 'Hometown Hero' and the multiple business signs replacing their specials with words that honored PFC Brett Woods.

Being the girl that I am who keeps herself in books, writing and picture taking, I rarely ever catch the sound bytes on the news. Truth be told, the news causes dark clouds to settle around my shoulders, and I avoid it as much as I can. But now I was curious (the greatest thing about smart phones is having the ability to google just about anything, even if you are in Nowhere, USA).

One quick google search will tell you that PFC Brett Woods was killed on September 9th in Afghanistan where he served in the United States Army. But what it doesn't tell you is where he was ten years ago...

On September 11, 2001, I was nineteen years old and had been married to a Marine for one year and two months. Sleeping, I woke up to a ringing phone and the sound of my mom on the other end. "Have you seen the news?" Of course not. I didn't understand what she was telling me...something about planes and towers and people dying...and Roger. I switched on the TV and just froze, the phone pressed to my ear, my heart somehow both in my throat and plummeting to my toes at the same time. My mind tried to catch up, trying to recall where Roger was right now--where in the world he was. Roger was deployed on the USS Boxer off the coast of close to home, but suddenly stopped. What in the world was going on? Everything mind was heart was breaking...and fear like none I had ever felt turned my world upside down.

Brett Wood was eight years old on that day. I have no idea what he was doing, but I imagine he was in a Spencer elementary school. Yet, somehow, on that day he fell in love with his country and the idea of justice and courage.

It leaves me breathless to compare that day in September, between PFC Wood and my husband and I. How have we come to a war that generations fight together, replacing one weary solider for a new one? Ten years. So much can change and remain the same in ten years. At least in war.

In ten years...what will have changed? Who will be fighting? What mothers will be mourning? What little boys will have grown to soldiers? What ground will be won and where will it be lost? Will we still remember? Will our memories fade?

I have no answers. I don't even have a theory. But I have pride. I am thankful that God makes little boys like Brett...who desire freedom at all cost, even when they are only eight years-old. I am thankful that God gives young men brave hearts and courage to face an enemy that may never be defeated (at least in this lifetime). Thank the Lord that young boys grown up to be men like PFC Wood...and like those that have fallen before him. Because of that, ten years is nothing. Give us twenty years, forty years, sixty or a lifetime...but we will never give up, never tire and always fight for that which is right. There will always be budding heroes that know what is right in their heart and do whatever necessary to protect that--to fight for it--to preserve it.

So remember him, his family, and never forget. And never underestimate the heart of an eight year-old.


A Lesson In 1900

Shortly after the Second World War, Max, a transplanted American, visits an English pawn shop to sell his trumpet. The shopkeeper recognizes the tune Max plays as one on a wax master of an unreleased recording, discovered and restored from shards found in a piano salvaged from a cruise ship turned hospital ship, now slated for demolition. This chance discovery prompts a story from Max, which he relates both to the shopkeeper and later to the official responsible for the doomed vessel, for Max is a born storyteller.

Though now down on his luck and disillusioned by his wartime experiences, the New Orleans-born Max was once an enthusiastic and gifted young jazz musician, whose longest gig was several years with the house band aboard the Virginian, a posh cruise ship. While gaining his sea legs, he was befriended by another young man, the pianist in the same band, whose long unlikely name was Danny Boodman T.D. Lemons 1900, though everyone just called him 1900, the year of his birth. Abandoned in first class by his immigrant parents, 1900 was found and adopted by Danny, a stoker, and raised in the engine rooms, learning to read by reading horse-racing reports to his adoptive dad. After Danny's death in an accident, 1900 remained on the ship. Increasingly lured by the sound of the piano in the first-class ballroom, he eventually became a gifted pianist, a great jazz improvisationist, a composer of rich modern music inspired by his intense observation of the life around him, the stories passengers on all levels of the ship trusted him enough to tell. He also grew up to be a charming, iconoclastic young man, at once shrewd and oddly innocent. His talent earned him such accolades that he was challenged by, and bested Jelly Roll Morton in an intense piano duel that had poor Max chewing paper on the sofa in agonies of suspense...

And yet for all the richness and variety of his musical expression, he never left the ship, except almost, once, in the aftermath of his infatuation with a beautiful young woman immigrant who inspired the music committed to the master Max discovers in the pawnshop. Max realizes that 1900 must still be on the ship, and determines to find him, and to find out once and for all why he has so consistently refused to leave. (IMDb)

To me, 1900's is a fascinating creature. He managed to shine bright while secluded on a ship. He captivated many...his records going far and wide while he remained in one solitary location...never leaving...never venturing. But in one moment, one single second, beauty stepped into 1900's life and turned everything upside down. And it was in that moment that something beautiful happened in him, as well....

Watch and see:

It was not until 1900 set his eyes on something beautiful, something that captivated his heart...that the sound and tone of what his fingertips were playing changed. In that moment, what he was creating came to life, with blood in its veins and breath in its lungs. Would it have been the same if the woman had not appeared in the portal? Would the song have born the pulse of his own heartbeat?

I can try to do things, create beautiful things, but if my eyes are not on the One who gave me the ability...if my intentions are not to glorify my will never turn out as beautiful and meaningful as I wanted it to. And what would be the point?

I want my works to change a life. I want a simple portrait of a young girl to spark within her the knowledge that she was created for greatness...and shaped by the hands of a glorious King. I want the words I write to cut into the hardened hearts, the wounded hearts of those that read. I want the songs that we write and sing to win ground for a Savior that made us to be his disciples, who made us to walk in His ways and reach the hearts of those He loves so very much.

We were created for greatness. We were made to do and make beautiful things. We are not meant to be ordinary...unnoticed wallflowers that blend into the pattern. We were created to stand out, shout, fight, rally and dance like David in the streets. You and I...we are something more than what this world wants us to be!

But without out eyes set on the Beauty that breathed air into our lifeless lungs...we will never shine as bright or as far as we were supposed it. So, I, for keeping my eyes trained on the Savior, the King, the Abba...

And I will shine. We will shine. We will become a fraction of the beauty that He is.


Run To You

"Run To You"

I was tired of waiting
Playing all the games and
Living in a place that was not for me
So I thought it was time
For me to get what's mine
And to do it all, everything I dreamed
What I thought was the best of me turned to be
All the worst I could find

If I run to you
Will you hold me in your arms forevermore
If I run to you
Will you hold me in your arms forevermore

Now I got a feeling
That I've got to leave and
Find a way back to where I came from
Though I don't deserve it
I know it's unheard but
Living here without you, my life is done
I confess that I shouldn't have run from you
Now I know I was wrong

Nowhere to run to
And no one to turn to
I'm dying out here on my own
Long before I even thought of returning
Your arms are wide open
Waiting for me to come home

Lord, I know these words. I know the desperation that they hold...the tears and fear. And every time, you've held me. I love you for it.

Teach me to rest in You. Teach me to WAIT on You. Because I need you in the very center of my life. I need Your whisper in my ear...telling me...teaching me...telling me that I am Yours....

Because I will never be half the woman I am meant to be unless You are by my side. And that's my be Your beauty.


Just A Little Bit Of Hope

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of hope...just a little bit.

With a little bit of hope, we can get ourselves out of bed and whisper a quick, "Thank you, Jesus, for this day."

We can keep writing when we wonder if anyone will ever see our words...printed...bound between covers.

We keep taking pictures, determined to bless as many people as we can with an image of their true...deep-down beauty.

We keep being the parents we dream of being...with patience and kindness...that learn to discipline with the right blend of love and affection (Lord, HELP me with that one!).

We keep our eyes tuned to the lost and hurting, looking for creative ways to shower them with love.

A little bit of hope brings the lyrics and harmony to new songs and new sounds that will take the world by storm.

Hope reminds us that our loneliness is only for a second...and before we know it...we will be in someone's arms--arms created just to hold us.

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of hope to keep on believing, to keep on pressing, to keep on fighting to become that man or woman we know we were created to be. With hope, we notice the King's breath on our cheek...we can feel the warmth in His shadow...we can hear the faint beat of his heart as it picks up speed just from watching us...

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of hope.

Sometimes, all God wants to do is drown us in hope.

Sometimes, we don't notice it...sometimes we don't want it...

But today is Friday--a new day. And I feel hope pulsating through the air.

I know things are about to change.

I hear the rustling in the Mulberry trees...

I can feel His breath...

And I'm running in it...dancing like a giddy little girl that cannot get enough of it.

I have a little bit of hope that is quickly growing and taking shape into a whole new world.



I Want To Cover You In Stickers

My husband has been very busy in and out of many churches lately. God has blessed him with so many contacts that I can barely keep their names straight. One church wants him to lead worship on a Sunday morning, and then another for a Sunday night. Because of this, my children are shuttled from one new church to another. Thank the Lord that he did not give me children that were terribly shy like me. They are having a blast! Lucy (my 4 year old daughter) loves to make new friends, and Teddy (my 2 year old son) is enjoying all the new activities that the churches offer.

Last Sunday night we were at Waterline Church for Roger to help with worship. I dropped the kids off, signed them in, got a sticker with their name and a code in case they needed me (BTW, it helps if you DO NOT worship with your eyes closed in case the code flashes across the screen and you don't notice it). I enjoyed the entire service...and it was wonderful (again, keep your eyes open!). When it was finished, I went to pick up my children...and Teddy walks out with a sticker that reads: Your child was prayed for today.

My first thought was, "Teddy, what did you do?!?!" ;)

But that sticker has been sticking with me all week--pun not intended...but it is cute. What would happen if all the people I prayed for suddenly had a sticker appear on them that read: Don't worry! You've been prayed for today!

So that poor woman sitting at her cubical, thinking that nobody cares how terribly her heart is aching looks down and notices a scrap of white that reads: You've been prayed for today...and JESUS DOES KNOW. He is going to make it okay!

The newly married man that doesn't know how to adjust between passion, talent, love and work to a husband that needs to meet another person's needs as well as his own...a sticker appears that reads: Even though you don't feel it, someone is praying for you and God is going to help you!

To the couple that is struggling to make ends meet and keep their lights on and their children in their home, their sticker appears even as the tears are falling and it reads: I prayed for you today. Jesus sees your tears. He WILL NOT let them go uncounted...He WILL honor them...He knows your way out!

What would happen if all the people out there that feel so lonely and struggle to keep believing in a God that rescues and loves unconditionally began to be covered in stickers that said: I am praying for you! God will deliver you! You are NOT alone! Keep fighting! He will hold your hand!

What might happen if in my weakest moments, when I don't feel like smiling...a sticker appeared on me that said: Don't give up hope, dear heart...because I prayed for you today.

Maybe we could all relax a little and breathe deeper, filling out lungs with His peace...

Maybe we could take another step, put one foot in front of the other...and carry on with our chin a little higher than it was...

Perhaps we would be cloaked in His warmth, shielded by His angels, nestled in the palm of His hand and empowered by an unknown person's simple prayer...

So, I want to cover people in invisible stickers that will fuse together like armor of God, toughening them, strengthening them in peace and our King's mercy. I want to close my eyes and picture my family and friends walking about their day slowly being covered with white stickies and post-it notes that reaffirm God's promises to never leave us to battle this world on our own. And that mental fills me with such joy that I giggle. :)

"Put on the fill armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand...stand." ~Ephesians 6:11-13

There are days I don't have the strength to dress myself in armor...or even dress myself. Period. Some days...I forget to utter a prayer for strength. But I believe that when I pray for others...those stickers really do become like armor for them. "We have the power to help," from the mouth of my incredibly smart 4 year old.