Category: Faith

Called to Be

sister

Calling. Something that seems to come outside us. That irresistible thing that beckons us, shapes us, needs us to engage. I don’t know about you, but this is a word that I’ve grappled with every few years, finding it impossible to sift it down to one single grain.

But I think more and more, calling is the complicated thing that our generation and younger generations seem to long for. To live a life of purpose that somehow pays the bills and fulfills us, so our lives feel good, and look good on Instagram. Is that what calling is? Or does it have an illusive quality- something we’re always looking to find more fully- but never fully “arrive” at.

When a person tries to fill themselves up with purpose, or position, popularity, or possessions, they are going to become bloated, and so incredibly empty.

In 1 Corinthians as Paul addresses the people of Corinth, he scolds them for allowing themselves to become “overinflated or distended” with pride- the Greek word physioo. As Pastor Tim Keller points out in his book about self forgetfulness, Paul doesn’t use the normal Greek word for pride, hubris, but makes a point to use this other, more descriptive word to emphasize the Corinthians problem.

When we try to fill ourselves up by searching for approval and achievement, we’re going at it the wrong way. Calling isn’t something that we need to search for outside of ourselves, but something God has planted within us; who God has created us to be. It flows out of who we are. Our essence.

Calling isn’t necessarily how we’re going to pay the bills, but maybe a nice bonus. Calling isn’t going to make our lives fall into perfect order, or gain us popularity, or make us look good on Instagram. Calling doesn’t mean that we always want to do it either- sometimes following our calling feels like trust, obedience, and hard work.

Calling is living out who God created us to be in a life that serves him and the people around us. It can be as small as writing an article for the preschool newsletter, reading our kids poems, or making a meal for good friends to share over a good conversation. It can look like sitting with someone when conversation is halting and uncomfortable and tears flood our vision. It can go bigger than we imagine by rebuilding a village in Africa, raising thousands of dollars for the underprivileged, or finding a cure that saves millions.

Calling isn’t about going to the right college or having a fantastic resume. It isn’t necessarily about traveling across the world or impacting thousands of lives. Lived out, calling looks like the next right thing.

But the point is- calling isn’t something we have to earn or prove, its created by God, and fueled by the Spirit. Its about prayer, faith, and steeping ourselves in His word. Day by day, minute by minute calling is lived out in trust and obedience.

So how do we teach our kids this, as we ourselves are still figuring it out?

I don’t have all the answers, but I think the first step is not pushing our kids to achieve. Achievement is great, but it flows out of being who we are. No I think first we need to teach our kids how to be. How to be present, how to be honest, how to be loved and loving, how to be whole. The first step is teaching them how to be God’s child. That happens when we bring them to church, when we pray with them, and read God’s word, when we talk with them and answer their questions.

But most of all it happens as we live out God’s calling in our own lives- quieting our hungry egos and filling ourselves up with him. Remembering that we don’t need to be popular, or skinny, successful, or rich to be loved by Him. We already are.

Prayer
Remind us that only You can satisfy this ache within us.

We come to you now with open palms and empty souls.
We are dry clay jars of dust, ready for you to fill us, fuel us, and repurpose us for Your glory.

We feel hungry and empty,
And yet we look to be filled by whatever is at the end of our fingertips.
Until we are full, and bloated, and completely unsatisfied.
Sometimes we’re distracted into believing we have all we need,
Sometimes we’re smug and satisfied, easily pleased with our own abilities.

Thank you for tugging our hearts back to You,
For reminding us of our overwhelming need for Your Glory.
Thank you that the Holy of Holies dwells in our chests,
No longer behind an untouchable veil.

Let us lean into our longing and linger in Your presence,
As you pass over us let us realize the magnitude of Who You are.
Satisfy us with your fullness, and let us continue to hunger for You

Thank you for reminding us that only You are our source for true fulfillment.
Touch us with Your presence Lord,
Fill our heart cups with Your living water
Fill our souls with the bread of your life.

We lift our palms to you, empty and filled, lost and repurposed.

 

100 Honest Words

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“What do I want to be when I grow up?”

A question I’ve asked since scraped knees and greasy pony.
Sleek and polished professional the same question buzzes in my blood.
Yoga pants, messy bun cliche, kids running underfoot, the question sings like a lullaby in the early morning beneath cries and snuggles.
These days self realization looks a lot like self promotion— self devotion.
But amid the accumulation, and forward motion, stuffed emotion, I wonder if that question is an ironic statement that lingers to tease us, teasing out the loose threads of our unraveling certainty.

Who am I?

Loved over Perfect

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I want to walk the fine line of perfection.
I want to be one way- until I lean too far in one direction, and then I overcorrect, leaving me dizzy with indecision and insecurity.

They call it happy medium, like there’s a measurement that amounts to that, but I’m realizing that its a constant balancing act. The moment I think I’ve got it down, my illusions comes crashing down as I face my false reality.

I think this is a dance we do as parents, as spouses, as kids, and at work, with our friends and even with people we don’t really like. Pretty much, as humans, we can try to walk life’s fine lines.

As I look at the scattered pieces of false realities and loose ends, I’m challenged to look at the fragmented beauty right in front of me.

Shakespeare writes in As You Like It, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He asserts with bold certainty that life is scripted and predictable, as we continue to go through the same lines and choreographed movements like a carefully directed play.

But God gave us free will. He gave us the ability to move and speak and choose as we wish. When we choose the right thing purely, its beautiful and organic, and right. When the right thing is forced it rings false,
like a dripping sweet compliment or a forced apology. And that is why God made us people that are freed by his love, that freely choose to love.

Love isn’t a carefully marked path, but a stumbling journey of trying, and failing, and keeping on moving, even if you don’t know if you’re going in the right direction. The life that God calls us to isn’t a pin straight line of truth, but blind steps of trust and obedience. Never as a mere pawn or player in a prewritten play, but gentle steps that unfold our own stories.

These stories aren’t measured by their perfection or our performance. No, these aren’t stories reviewed by critics or competing to be on a bestseller list. Each story is God’s love story to us. As we fall, and get back up, as we doubt, and trust, and hide and seek, and find, our stories unravel into a picture of forgiveness, of redemption, and of imperfect progress.

I will never walk the tight rope of perfection as a mom, as a wife, a friend, or any person. So instead of training my steps to fall in perfect line with who I think I should be, I land in the soft place of grace, where I am restored and reshaped. Instead of placing impossible expectations on myself, I can live loved. Loved by God, loving myself, so I can pour love into the world around me. Because when I’m loved, being perfect doesn’t seem so important.

“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love”

A New Reality

 


Elysecloseup

 

Its not often that I’m without words, but recently I have felt quiet and contemplative. The two words that have been on my lips most, are a diagnosis I struggle to pronounce, let alone understand: Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM).

These last few days since we’ve been home have felt like I’m underwater holding my breath. The same house, the same rituals and to do’s, the same family, but a very different reality.

I’m preparing myself to emerge back into the world with Elyse. It almost feels like when we introduced her to the world as a newborn, watching her every move with careful optimism, wanting to keep her within arms reach.

When you see her it might seem like you’re meeting any 18 month old toddler, her belly pooched out as she marches with a proud waddle. She makes one word declarations, wearing the world on her face with exaggerated expressions. When you see her, she’ll probably say “Hi” three times with her wide smile. You’ll notice her face is fuller and less blotchy,  her big wide eyes reflecting her enthusiasm, the shadows beneath them hint at tiredness . She might make wide circles around you, gaining momentum and confidence with each step as she clucks and coos with glee.

In these moments we get to celebrate life with her as it should be, an energetic baby enjoying and exploring the world around her.

hospital

At home we also deal with another, new reality.

Each morning and evening we give her Prednisone, a steroid with undesirable side effects such as insomnia, weight gain, aggression, blood sugar changes, osteoporosis, and stomach upset. To counteract unwanted effects we give her Calcium, Vitamin D and Zantac. Prednisone suppresses her immune system so we have to protect her from being exposed to unwanted cooties- meaning avoiding crowded enclosed places or large groups of children. 

Because the sun can worsen the effects of JDM we need to avoid the sun during peak hours, and be vigilant about protection. E is embracing the hat as her new accessory.

Elysehat

Once a week, we give her a shot that is a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate. We have to wear gloves to avoid contact with the very liquid that we inject into our baby’s skin. This is designed to work with the cortisteroid to quiet the overactive immune response that is attacking her skin and muscles .

The needle is tiny and the dose is very small.  Though difficult, we agree these are the steps we need to take right now. After 30 minutes of practicing on fake plastic skin, Nate played the brave daddy and gave her the first injection (I played the pregnant for 9 months card).

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Once a month we will go to the hospital for Elyse to receive a 6 hour IV drip of Intravenous Immune Globin (IVIG) which is a lot like a blood transfusion, but IVIG is made up of the plasma of up to 15,000 blood donors. Our nurse calls it liquid gold. I keep telling Elyse that it makes her sparkle.

E gets to play with a Physical Therapist twice a week until she rebuilds muscle strength and mobility, She thinks its pretty cool to have a personal trainer that gives her undivided attention, and beach balls.

E will have good moments, and moments when she is uncomfortable and fatigued. We hope the good days will be more and more. 

We’re still taking time to absorb our new reality; to figure out how our lives will be the same and very different.

Right now the words Juvenile Dermatomyositis taste bitter and unnatural. The doctor confirmed she’s the youngest child he’s seen with JDM, as the average age of onset is 7 years old.  I know that God lets us taste the hard things in life to help us appreciate the good. As we learn about suffering, we learn more about love. There is no turning back from this road that we’re on, and so we will trust God through this journey. We will celebrate God’s goodness; we will taste His fullness as you feed us; His faithfulness as you pray for us and walk beside us;  we will grow to understand how wide and how deep, how long and how high His love is, as we love our daughter, knowing somehow He loves her even more.

John9:1to3

 

Giving up on Success

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Today I look around my house at the endless list of things I could do. In this sacred solitude, I feel a magnetic guilt that pulls my mind to the undone tasks. It takes a resolute decision to take a precious moment to fix myself a bialetti coffee, poured in my gold stamped, “blogging day” mug, and position my fingers to dance over my keyboard.

I wonder if it is the plan of the enemy to persuade us that doing things we enjoy is frivolous, rather than a necessary art. After all, what better way to render us useless than to keep us from dancing, relishing, and celebrating life? When our lives become about duties, tasks and responsibilities we become like the machines we create; designed to respond to programming rather than human emotion. But when we feel, react, and challenge, thats when we go from crowd pleasing to head turning.

Machines don’t start movements, write poetry, embrace for sheer pleasure, create out of enjoyment, stand still just to feel the wind on their face; and machines certainly don’t dance. Dancing is far too frivolous for the serious business of a machine.

I’ve been in a season of asking a lot of questions. Questions put us on uncertain ground, but yet, nothing is more certain than an answer. An answer is a challenged truth. A truth that has been tested, evaluated, and proven true.

Recently I keep asking myself why I do what I do? Why do I blog or write a book? Why do I read? Why do I lead Bible Study or moms group? Because, none of these things are within my realm of responsibility. They aren’t my job and they don’t fall under my duties as a wife, or mother, daughter, sister, or friend, so why do them? And once more, does my doing them really matter?

When people ask me “what do you do?” I feel like I’m supposed to only include the things I do to make money, but honestly, those aren’t really the things that make my fingers buzz with joy.

I think that in this age we have confused careers with callings.

I don’t make money writing about God. I aspire to become a Christian author, but if a wild haired man climbed out of a shiny metallic time machine from the future and told me, “You will never make a dime as a Christian writer,” I think I would keep it up anyway. Why? Because human hearts aren’t programmed to produce- God made us in His image to create.

When we define success by popularity, paychecks, and position, in order to live in bigger houses, to do more work, and please more people, we will always come up short, or at least, the satisfaction is fleeting.  

T.S. Eliot was quoted as saying about the radio, “it is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.”

Maybe success is the medium by which we all try to listen to the same joke. We all pretend to smile, and laugh, and get it, but deep down, we’re all aching for something more; never really feeling like we’re hearing the same joke as everyone else, or maybe everyone else just has a betters sense of humor.

Success tells me I haven’t arrived, but when I create, I’m there in that moment, living my calling. I think if each of us took a little more time making less money and enjoying what we’re really good at, doing that thing that makes our bellies feel warm and our feet tingle, well I think we would all feel more human, in a really good way.

The day that I write in order to achieve, more than to create, is the day I should stop. Because there is nothing I can achieve in this world that has more value than my Creator. And by His Spirit, I pray that these humble words I type don’t just achieve human success, but touch human hearts.

 

Wasn’t I Made for More than Dirty Dishes?

made for more hope hopeless life faith Moms

“We were made for more than just ordinary lives. Its time for us to more than just survive. We were made to Thrive.” Casting Crowns

Today I have felt itchy. 

Not the kind of itch thats relieved with the good scratch of untrimmed finger nails, but an itch that feels like a buzz under my skin. A holy discontentment that I can’t summarize with words.

For part time work I write ad copy. My job is to make things appealing and relatable with words. So while doing my real life job as a stay at home mom, I keep my creative mind busy turning over words and ideas, to craft something new and unexpected that convinces you life is better with (fill in the blank). Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my work that I begin to believe I need to do more, or be more to have a better life.

January has been a slow month for work, and my mind feels restless. Like a bored cat pounces at a bright ball of yarn, my unoccupied brain takes my fears captive, pulling out threads of worry and insecurity.  

When I don’t have an assignment to write, my time is freed up to blog, or write that book I’ve been dreaming about. I’m without excuse….And now…I find myself without words.

When I haven’t written something in a while I begin to wonder if my fingers still know what they are doing. Will I be able to sit before the bright blue tiles and string together a story, or poem, a blog post, that summarizes all of the joy and love; all the uncertainty, doubt and fear that twists and pulls and tugs in a confused jumble of bright emotions in my heart? Will my words still be enough? Will someone be able to really see the real me so that I can be known? I begin to believe the lie that who I am is what I do. Its what I write, its the money I make, its what I look like, or the kind of mom I am.

In my itchy, wordless, weary place I read His word:

“His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Psalm 147
“1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning. 3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcomea it.” John 1:1-5
“14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

As a writer I wrap my identity up in the words that I write. But then God Himself is the Word.  My own words are just a mirror to catch and reflect His light. God doesn’t want my pretty package of words, He delights in my reverence. His word reminds me that my identity can’t be written with my own two hands– no, I was made for more than anything I can create. 

If I try to follow the script the world writes, then I will never be enough. Even if I sacrifice my life to being enough, there will always be more to do, accomplish, earn, and achieve, like the incessant stream of social media updates that hunger for attention.  My worth is reduced to the next best thing. 

But then God delights in those who put their hope in His unfailing love; a well that never runs dry. A horse and a warrior will cripple with age. My words will get lost like the hundreds of unread books that sit on my shelf. But the Word who is God and spoke this spinning ball of an Earth into existence; yes the word of God that made darkness, light, and life, breathes life into my lungs, His Word reveals my purpose and Who He created me to be.

When I get itchy under my skin I think its my soul feeling how ill fitting this flesh really is. Its my heart longing to just sit at His feet and weep and laugh and rest. I get so tired of being the daughter of the one true king, deeply loved and divinely called, and yet burdened with dirty dishes and hungry mouths, with unpaid bills and unmowed lawns. I want to shout to the world about God’s love. I want to see hearts healed and lives transformed, I want to usher in God’s redemption and grace and embolden other women to let their blood burn in their veins for Him too.

Then I remember that Jesus took on burdensome flesh too.

Divine God took on human inconveniences like eating, washing, and sleeping. Jesus, Son of God, God Himself, made His dwelling among us so that He could know the discomforts of human flesh.

He came to bring us a hope that burns brighter than this pale human world- He came to be among us, and remind us, that we’re not of this world. So that we can remember that who we are isn’t wrapped up in human flesh. Its not wrapped up in the things we do in this world. We were made for more. We are clothed in Christ, Word made flesh, who exhaled, “It is finished.”

God, who submitted Himself to us, so that we could be His once and for all.

God Will Never Leave You Alone

young-free

Dear Child,

The doctor shows you to me on the black pulsing screen.
His pointer finger traces a small circle over a tiny dot and tells me
It is you.

I just want you to know, you may be a dot on a screen,
but to me you are the world.

You’re tucked safe inside me like a secret.
I wrap my hands around my belly
and whisper to God to please keep you safe.
When I feel afraid, I ask God not to leave me alone.
Because Moms get scared too, especially new ones.
But God reminds me we’re in this together.
And I don’t have to be alone.
You’re with me now.
And so is He.

pregnant

Soft and warm and squishy faced.
Bow shaped lips pucker into the shape of a pink heart.
Cries sound like a growling kitten as eyes peak through heavy lids.
A searching mouth finds me.
It is you.

I just want you to know, that my stomach feels
so, so empty after the fullness of 9 months,
but my heart is so, so full.

In cries of uncertainty and pain, as you enter the world,
I shout to God to please keep us safe.
But God reminds me we aren’t alone.
You and I are together.
And He will never leave us alone.
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Teetering, and climbing, scooting, chasing, and tumbling.
My stomach is in my chest watching uncertain movement.
Chest puffed out, bottom wiggling back and forth in a proud waddle,
Up-stretched arms reach me and gesture wildly.
It is you.

I just want you to know that you give me a heart attack every minute you are free.
Out of my arms and into the big world.
I have trouble letting go.
But then you come back to me, wrapping your legs and arms around me
so I know you’re still mine.

Each uncertain step, each tumble, and surprised cry of pain
I ask God to please keep you safe.
But God reminds me you aren’t alone.
I am with you.
And He will never leave you alone.

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Blue jeans and damp hair,
Fingers that smell like maple syrup,
And two shoes with the toes pointing the wrong way.
It is you.

I just want you to know that I am not ready to be away from you.
My eyes fill with tears, buy my heart is proud.
You cling to my leg and then off you run to the arms of your teacher.

As a tear slides down my cheek I look up to the bulletin board,
With the Words,
God Lives Here,
I think, “Yes God, Please live in her heart.”
And He quietly reminds me, He’s in mine too.
He is with me.
He is with you-
and God will never leave us alone.

boy

Are You Listening?

are you listeningOn average women speak 20,000 words a day. That’s 13,000 more daily words than our male counterparts! But I would argue that as mothers, we earn every. single. one. of those extra words.

Yet, how often does it feel like our words fall on deaf ears? Especially when we’re asking our kids to put on their shoes, or our husbands to put their laundry in the hamper (not that I’m speaking from personal experience).

We all WANT TO FEEL HEARD.

One of the biggest fights I pick with my husband is when I feel like he’s not listening to me.
(DISCLAIMER: I’m totally guilty of doing the same thing!)

“But hun, I can watch Netflix, type up an email, and listen to every word you say.”

And the amazing thing is, he actually can. The man is actually able to repeat back to me every word I just spoke. And yet. And yet- I don’t feel heard. And maybe thats because I don’t just want my words to be absorbed, but I want my words to accomplish something. I think we all do.

In the past couple weeks I’ve been feeling fearful. With lots of change in our lives I’m letting doubt and fear creep into my thoughts. But I’ve had a song that I sing at the top of my lungs (when I’m home, or driving in the car, not in public-that’s just weird).

“I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR, FOR I AM A CHILD OF GOD”

My three year old daughter looks at me like I’m crazy. But then she looks at me like I’m crazy a lot, so I just shrug and take it as a compliment.

But then, last week my little girl was struggling with fears of her own. One day as I stirred the crackling ground beef on the stove, down the hall, I heard a sweet little voice, singing a tune I knew well. It went a little something like this:

“I’M NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR, FOR I .AM A CHILD OF GOD.”

I realized, that my words really do stick. Yes ladies, our words stick

As moms we are the encouragers of our homes.

Our words shape and mold our children into the people God has destined them to become.
Our words embolden our husbands to make brave decisions, and to do the right thing.
As daughters, and sisters, and friends, our words inspire each other to keep going, even when life feels too heavy, or our bodies feel to weak.

But at the end of the day, after we’ve pushed and scraped, and given all we have to give, and still feel like we’re coming up short. When we lay our heads on our pillows with our thoughts reeling and accusing and questioning our efforts, our worth, our words– I want us to grab hold of 6 words.

“My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Because God has the last word.
And He looks at us and says- “My child, in my grace…You Are Enough.

Growing in Grace

 

growingingraceI was tired of looking at our ugly, dying grass. Like an overused carpet, it showed only patches of the green it once was. In its vibrant place was a dull and lifeless yellow and brown. I tried to lift the edge, and to my surprise, it ripped up in a long strip. As I pulled, it snapped out with a pop like cracking knuckles. As I stacked the thick layers of dead sod along the sidewalk, I sighed with cathartic relief. Before I knew it, my yard was a clean patch of dirt.

I left it forgotten. But after a quick week, my front yard had erupted in a thick garden of weeds.

Its easy to tear down, to criticize, to walk away- yes to tear out what has been planted. But even if we walk away or turn our back, the empty soil is still there.

Its impossible to leave that space empty. We have a choice. When we face a hurt, or challenge, a loss, frustration, or broken heart- a space that feels lifeless- we have a choice to leave it empty and let it erupt into painful weeds that choke out life, or we can water the soil with gratitude, with hope, forgiveness and love, and see what God can grow there. We can bury the hurt and shame, the hopelessness and anger, we can put a stake in the middle of it in the shape of a cross, and see what God resurrects.

I realized how easily ugly weeds can take over when I’m not looking. I have a choice to fill those empty places with flowers, or let them get ravaged by weeds.  Weeds grow deep gnarled roots that leave me breathless and hurting. Weeds that leave thorns that tear hidden wounds that scar me.

But I don’t have to leave hurt places empty. My weed patch in the front yard  reminds me that I can’t ignore the raw and empty places of my heart, but need to take the time to sit with God in them. To let Him  fill them up with His truth and a beauty only He can create..

God blows seeds into my life every day.. With love, patience, and forgiveness, over time, I can allow Him to grow gardens, even in the raw, empty spaces.

He can grow wildflowers, forget-me-nots, and fiery red tulips shaped like love notes. He can raise up white elegant lilies, and sweet pink gerber daisies like my baby’s pink petal lips. He can grow bushes that burst with big ripe strawberries, and grape vines that stretch out with a sigh of fullness and life. When we’re desperate its easy to think life looks desolate– but He can use our tears to grow dandelions. He can paint that cross white like a picket fence, and scroll across it the word grace.

John The Baptist in Prison Asks a Question

womanShe asks, “God what is your purpose?”

Her head pounds, making such a racket she can’t form a coherent thought sometimes. In her room with shades drawn, against her cool sheets she tosses and turns to get comfortable and asks, “God what are you doing with this?”

Her once strong and energetic legs that limbered on for miles in the morning sunshine feel wobbly as they carry her through tiresome days. She celebrates the things her agile body once did easily, like folding and putting away laundry and lifting the awkward mattress to fit and tuck the sheets.

And as she feels weak under the weight of the chores of a day, she asks, “God, how do you expect me to carry the weight of Cancer?”

Blinding shots of pain fire in her gut and pulse steadily through her body like the drip, drip, drip of a coffee pot, as she wonders if the fire burning a hole in her chest is fear, or anxiety, or something else malignant.

She can’t trust herself. Her own body has betrayed her. And though her mind remains intact, she feels her head and body are in a race together and her body is puttering out and gasping for breath while her head remains tireless as it hurdles on with thoughts spinning so fast they run her in circles. But more than the thoughts are the questions. Like a burr in her mind they attach and fester, “Are you there God?” “Do you really love me?”

Another man watches his life waste away behind the iron bars of a putrid prison cell. No longer nourished by locusts and honey, his body vanishes as his skin stretches over the contours of his bony frame.

The wild and confident man who once cried, “make straight the way of the Lord!” now bows in uncertainty, with a question instead of a declaration.  As John the Baptist sits in prison, he begins to question if Jesus is really the one.  He sends two of his disciples to ask, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

Alone, hurting, confused by the unexpected path God has taken him; confused because Jesus doesn’t look like the Messiah he was expecting, John the Baptist doubts. He questions.

Jesus doesn’t respond in anger, but in encouragement. He points to what’s happening on the outside- the blind see, the deaf hear, the dead are raised- as prophesied in Isaiah. But more than that, he points to John himself for an answer-who I AM is revealed in you- “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt.11:11)

Because the prophets’ riddles are made truth in him. Men are made well in him, but John, don’t you see, you are living proof of him. Living proof when you were conceived, your mother ripe and fertile at a barren age, dad stunned silent. Living proof when you made a way in the wilderness, proof in the Jordan when you dipped the head of the son of Most High and were kissed by the breath of the Holy Spirit. Living proof even now as you wait in despair, because though your body “is wasting away, inwardly you are being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor.4:16 emphasis added)

Yes John knows the answer to his question. He knows it in his weary bones. He feels the burn of it in his concave belly. But in his dark prison John needs a reminder. And Jesus meets him with love, and with evidence that goes deeper than physical proof, As Emily Freeman sums up in her book Simply Tuesday, Jesus points to ” the heart of John himself,” saying, “In other words, my works are evident in the world, but my life is evident in you.”

Like John, she turns to God for for answers. The rocks of fear and doubt form a lump in her throat as she stares into darkness, her alarm clock glowing red numbers, 3:38 am. She lays and stares at the shapes and shadows of her once familiar bedroom until an acceptable hour when she can creep out onto her cobblestone patio. And in the sunrise of the morning, when the sky is a soft pink, life seems more bearable, and God feels closer. He whispers to her, as the hummingbirds kiss and flutter, and the fingers of gold beams caress her wet cheeks, He fills her up for just another day.

God numbered her days, she doesn’t know the count, but she has a groaning hope that seeps out of her like water from the cracks of a pot. It spills streams that escape and gather in corners and gaps between stepping stones, watering the clover and dandelion that sprout up wild and unbidden.

She feels small. She feels human.

But God came to earth in infant smallness. Jesus groaned in human pain. Cried human tears.

God comes to her with answers that seep deeper than the evidence she sees in the orange blossoms and the monarchs, the soft breeze that make her wind chimes tinkle and the leaves rustle. The living God that spoke to John, fills her body with His warm presence and whispers, “my life is evident in you.

Its easy to take for granted the life that we breath in. But when we’re gasping, when we’re sucking in and searching for our next breath, He breathes in us.

She sings songs of praise. Through his tears and pain he shouts in joy to the Lord. And in her story, through his life, God is living His purpose in them. God is living His purpose in us.

“For God Himself fights by our side, with weapons of the Spirit.
Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child or spouse,
Though life be wrenched away, They cannot win the day.
The kingdom’s ours forever!”