all aboard!

train_tracks

thoughts race through my mind like a freight train headed home
waiting for me to catch a ride.
the cars are not unfamiliar…I’ve been a rider before
following the tracks of insecurity, loneliness and despair
or the railway of peace and contentment
or perhaps the Little Engine that Could leads the way….I think I can, I think I can…
and then the proud line approaches the station, full of itself

I’ve ridden each of these, and then some…
I’ve been the conductor of many.

like these “trains”, thoughts run through my mind…
do I board any of them?  do I just let them pass?

sometimes unknowingly, I have laid the tracks, paved the way for these trains to run
but
I don’t have to get on any of them.
I know where they go…
the choice is mine.

peace and contentment doesn’t always have the most riders
there is plenty of room for me

and yet, I get on – and stay on – the train that I know I shouldn’t be riding
yes, I board it – wanting others to board it with me
and yes, I ride – often for far too long.
thankfully, the rides are shorter now…

one day, I won’t even bother with the trains that lead nowhere.

until then, when I hear the “toot-toot” of the whistle
and feel the earth rumble as the train approaches…
the call of the conductor
“all aboard”
doesn’t need to include me.

when the trains near the station,
“Your ears will hear sweet words behind you: “Go this way. There is your path; this is how you should go” whenever you must decide whether to turn to the right or the left.” – Isaiah 31:21 (the Voice)

grace engineered…

(train analogy courtesy of Professor Brad Imhoff, Ashland Theological Seminary)

to save a life

ecclesiastes

I won’t begin to tell you that I can fully grasp this…

nor do I fully understand Isaiah 55:8-9

My intentions are not always yours,
and I do not go about things as you do.
My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you,
just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth.

but, what I do know is that God is God and I am not – and that causes me pause
especially when dealing with death and grief and new birth and the grief that sometimes exists with that

a precious and dear man went to be with Jesus early this morning…
there is a season
the family is grieving and wondering
and perhaps wandering
there is a season
he will be missed

and so I pause…

I had coffee with a dear friend of mine a couple of days ago…and her precious little one
her miracle baby
every time she snuggles in to me, I give thanks…overwhelming thanks
there is a season
and the season of emptiness and longing for a baby was excruciatingly drawn-out
God’s thoughts…God’s ways….
inconceivably infuriating…
if I am honest

the knowledge that before the hole in this family was filled
God knew
God formed, God shaped, God designed
You see all things;
You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb;
Every detail of my life was already written in Your book;
You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it. – Psalm 139:16 (the Voice)

God had a plan to save some lives.

long before her birth, God planted a seed of desire in my friends’ hearts
for love
looking back at their lives
He was watering, and fertilizing, and making the Son shine on that seed
and it grew
maybe in ways that no one would ever dream possible
and it matured through heartache and disappointment and pain

the hole has been filled with this precious little one
there is a season
God’s ways are higher than our ways
there is a reason
they have been given the opportunity to smother this little one with love
and to give her safe harbor

they have saved her life

she has saved theirs.

Where love takes you in and everything changes
A miracle starts with the beat of a heart
When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in – Steven Curtis Chapman, When Love Takes You In

When death collides with love and birth intersects with rebirth, pain mingles with fierce beauty. – Angela Nazworth

saving grace…

eighteen with 22 years experience: some musings

40

on turning 40:

am I really 40 today?
wow.

do I have thoughts on turning 40?
I sure do.
but the experience is this:  it’s simply just another day.

the assignments still need done
laundry still needs washed
meals still need cooked
and my job still awaits.

so, it’s like this…
at age eighteen plus 22 years experience I’ve:

struggled
strayed
sacrificed
savored
suffered
and succeeded

painful things are behind, and yet the future is unknown
great things have happened, but I am not done living

so, here’s to
more seconds, days, weeks, and years filled with
grace.

the slippery slope called life

Slippery-Slope

“Life is not a straight road; often it is more like a maze.” – Gerard Egan, The Skilled Helper

a maze…
with ups and downs…
with rocks and boulders and pebbles and specks…
steep slopes…
flat plateaus…
life.

my recent past has been nothing short of a maze-like, twisting and turning adventure.
filled with questions
and musings
and sorrow
and laughter
and delight
and miracles

but not all of my steps have been sure
not all of my climbs have been safe
not all of my descents have been without injury


If God hadn’t been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,”
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up. – Psalm 94:18-19 (MSG)

the path we are called to journey is unique for each of us
complete with our own sets of trials and triumphs
with our own mountains and valleys

but, we are called to walk it
to climb it
to sit and absorb it
to wade through it

“I  am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents.  In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight.  Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts.  Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing me to direct your path.” – Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

that is often a tough assignment…
well, I make it tough.
obedience is a clear and simple directive…but it is not at all easy

“If you’ve ever pursued a dream or tried to change an area of your life then you need to hear this: The closer you get to your goal, the steeper the climb gets. And the steeper it gets, the more likely you are to slip.  It suddenly feels like all the progress you’ve made isn’t real, that God should give up on you, and you might as well slide all the way back to the bottom.

Don’t listen to those lies, friend.

If you slip, it may be because you are reaching higher and pushing harder and taking new ground in your life.

The enemy would love for you to believe the opposite. Because then you’re tempted to just sit down and stay completely still so you don’t mess up again. But that also means you never go any farther. Or you may convince yourself you’ve been on the wrong path all along. So you give up and turn around to find a new path–one that must be safer.

We all fall. We all fail. We all have slip-ups and setbacks. That’s simply part of being human. And that’s why need Jesus.” – Holley Gerth

yep.
Jesus.
sliding down to the bottom is rarely ever Jesus’ option for us.
pursuit and progress are.

“The climb is always steepest just before you reach your goal.  Keep going, friend.  You’re closer that it seems right now.” – Holley Gerth

take that next step…
whether it is an actual step in a forward motion
or a moment to stop, sit, and listen.

life can be messy
life can be confounding
life can be slippery


Praise the One who gives us life and keeps us safe,
who does not allow us to stumble in the darkness. – Psalm 66:9, the Voice

in the safety of grace…

crying uncle

defeated-man1
“Life isn’t about perfection…it’s about being utterly relentless and refusing to give up, give in, or stay down until you’re done. – Holley Gerth

let’s break in down…

utterly – completely, absolutely, fully, wholly, totally
relentless – incessant, unyielding, unbroken, persistent
refuse – to reject, say no, not budging, to decline
give up – abandon, relinquish, cease, throw in the towel
give in – admit defeat, concede, pull out, resign, cry uncle
stay down – not get up

life is about…being totally unbroken and not budging on the fact that you are not throwing in the towel, not crying uncle, or not getting up – Betsy Coy 🙂

I just read this quote this morning, and it has come at the perfect time.
yesterday I felt overwhelmed, defeated, incapable, small, like I was drowning in this sea of information and expectation and I couldn’t catch my breath.

I felt like throwing in the towel and giving up.

I don’t know about you, but I sure am thankful for new mornings, and new beginnings!  God is certainly faithful!  (Lam. 3:23)
to be able to read that life isn’t about knowing it all, having all of the answers…
that it is truly about not staying down and defeated when I am drowning…

Blessed are those who make You their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey.  On their way…they stop and dig wells to collect the refreshing spring water.  They journey from place to place, gaining strength along the way. – Psalm 84:5-7 (the Voice)

some days, I am totally walking in the strength of God…and treasuring every moment.
other days, I am digging….
yesterday was a day to shovel.

and today…well today, I must go and tackle some Abnormal Psychology! 😉

relentless grace…

 

be present

twists-and-turns-alison-johnston
twists and turns…
on a journey…that I, for so long, considered to be only straight and uphill…
no room to move…
no room to venture…
no room to breathe, actually.

but that really isn’t the way it is.

twists
turns
detours
plateaus
u-turns
sure…there are times of coasting and enjoying the flatness
but
my walk with God does not look like the picture of the journey that I have had ingrained in my mind for so long.

I have allowed my relationship with God to grow stale….stagnant even.

have you ever looked at your life….
and seen it
as if
it is painted on a window?
that you see things unfolding right in front of you but you can’t or don’t really touch or experience them?

are you present for your own life?

I have not been.

“I need for there to be something bigger than me.  I need someone to put awe inside me; I need to come second to someone who has everything figured out.”
Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality

the start of 2014…
why not be a part of something bigger than I am?
why not be awed every day (or at least strive to be)?
why not take second place??

I have lived a chunk of my life with perceived limitations.
disabilities, if you will.
while I am not willing to dismiss the validity in that, I am learning not to live in that perception.
there are things I can do…I am able to do…I am capable of doing…
I am capable of getting a Master’s Degree…
I am capable of achieving far more…
“this” (whatever that blank needs to be at the moment) is not it for me…
even though, at this moment, I am not ignoring the possibility of limitations….I am no longer allowing myself to be paralyzed by that notion.

the many twists and turns…
as I look back through the window….
have really created a magical and awesome piece of art.

so this year, 2014…
I want to be present…
no…
today – I want to be present.
I want to experience my life, and not just life it as if it has been painted on a window.

“Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you’re having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper. This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull off the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.” – Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life

ever-present grace…

earlier bits

January 2014
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