Standing Stones

The one who calls you is faithful (1 Thess. 5:24)

I’m thinking about gratitude today.

It’s been one year since my home has been closed to foster care.

The five years before that were a tumultuous journey.

Years full of purpose and fire, full of a call that I couldn’t escape.

Years that brought, without a doubt, the most joy and the most heartache my soul has known this far.

Years that brought me my babies and also the hard realization that all the Little Ones are not mine.

This year has been quieter.

As the seasons have changed, I’ve been reminded of the faithfulness of the One who calls.

I want to raise an Ebenezer.

To mark these places.

Give me faith to trust what you say.

That you’re good and your love is great.

We sing these words this morning and my heart flashes back to sleep-deprived hours of singing them on repeat by the crib of a screaming Little One who had known too much chaos, too much transition already.

Tonight that Little One scurries around with a gaggle of other kids, dancing and running wild to Jesus-music.

Tonight as we snuggle he tells me to sing the Jesus-music louder.

So I do.

***

There were days when the waiting was excruciating.

Days when I yelled and pleaded to be done.

The promise is not that this story will end the way I hope,

I wrote on one of those hard days.

But that the Holy Spirit will come in power.

Friends, I watched him do that.

I watched the church show up to love me and my children well.

Walking with me into the halls where despair lost and love won.

Dragging me off the floor when I just couldn’t anymore.

Showing up and doing a thing.

Again.  And again.

***

As the air turns crisp again and the twinkle lights shine on the long winter nights,

I remember Little One’s first Christmas.

And the gaping hole in my heart not to be part of that day.  That story.

It was one of the darkest seasons of my life.

I know this is not how the story ends.

I wrote, undoubtedly choking on my own words.

I know joy comes.

In a very real way, I know Emmanuel.

Friends, it was not how the story ended.

Joy has come.

Joy is asleep in the other room.

Joy is the unruly tribe that foster care has brought me.

A motley crew we are—diverse in practically every way.

Sharing eyes and stories, bloodlines and passion.

We have walked through dark days together and celebrated wildly on happy ones.

My life is so full.

***

I’m thinking about gratitude today.

Grateful for a quieter year to remember.

To tell the stories.

To raise the standing stones.

Today I can tell you without a doubt that the One who calls you is faithful.

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Take Heart

They’re in the upper room.

They’ve had their feet washed by the Teacher, watched him stoop to serve.

They’ve shared a meal together, lingered long at the table.

And now Jesus seems to be talking in riddles.

We, of course, know what awaits them all as they step from this place in mere moments.

They, clearly, did not.

In this world you will have troubles. (John 16:33-34)

The poor guys didn’t know the half of it.

The next few days would lay their hearts, their intentions, bare.

They would deny.

They would run and hide.

They would watch in horror, wondering how this One who called them to follow could actually die.

They would sit with the silence, with the questions.

With the grief.

Maybe they would scream at the Father.  Surely they would doubt.

But take heart,

The Teacher spoke.

Have courage.  Be brave.  Hang on to faith, and even joy.

Take heart,

The Teacher speaks.

In the horror.  In the silence.  In the questions.  In the grief.  In the screaming.  In the doubt.

Friends, this is a word for us too.

As we live, like the disciples, in the heavy hours after Good Friday and before Easter Sunday.

In the middle place of the Kingdom, in between the now and the not yet.

Courage.  Bravery.  Faith.  Joy.

The Teacher spoke these words to his dear ones even here.

Even when he knew the darkest hours lay right ahead.

We know this is not the end of the story.

But it’s where my heart lingers tonight.

For, you, dear one, wrestling in the middle place.

The Teacher still speaks

Take heart.

Audacity

We’re talking today about when it feels like God is silent.

I’m not in that place right now, though I’ve been there before and I will be again.

And if you are there today, let me just say

There is no shame in those dark nights.

You are not alone.

I’ve spent the week feeling restless and also emboldened, which is how I sometimes feel when a need is heavy and my words just don’t feel adequate but I can’t stay silent.

I’ve been storming the gates of heaven for a few dear ones this week.

Hard core.  Full stop.

And this morning I’m challenged to ask even bigger.

I’m challenged to pray with audacity.

To pray for the Kingdom to come on earth, right here in this middle place between now and not yet.

Friends, our God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20-21).

So let’s imagine big.

Big like mamas and daddies living into the reality of their identity as Beloved.

Big like safe homes for all the Little Ones.

Big like enough schools for every child in Haiti to receive an education (help make that happen here!).

Big like physical healing and freedom from addiction and restored relationships and changed hearts.

Big like churches unified and peace reigning in our cities.

Can I tell you a secret?

Sometimes I’m scared to pray with audacity.

It feels, well, audacious.

Presumptuous, maybe.  Like who am I to ask for so much?

But, friends, I know who I am.

I am a daughter of the King.

I am invited, empowered to approach the throne of grace with confidence.

And, this week, I am choosing to pray with audacity.