My Body Also Will Live In Hope

I have three more days of treatment with Dr. Sunshine next week. I’ve been a little torn about making a big deal of it like last time because I don’t know if I can handle crushing your excited faces when you think I’ve been healed and the next time I see you, I’m not. It nearly broke my heart each time. Treatment was also a pretty traumatic experience. I wanted to cancel the appointments next week but Jason was having none of that nonsense and we couldn’t get our money back from the Airbnb so, there’s that. I’m glad I get to go away with my husband. In five and a half years of marriage we’ve spent a weekend at his cousin’s lake house for our honeymoon, we’ve stayed in his parents’ cabins once, we’ve gone to visit family, and he stayed one day with me during my last treatment. That’s it. I wish there were a little fewer doctor visits and a little more beach, but at least it’s something.

Prior to my last treatment, I had such a great attitude and I let myself hope. I opened up to healing more than I have in the past. I was so ready. And the relief only lasted a week, if I’m being generous. This time my attitude is vastly different. I have very little hope for long-term health and I know that if I don’t believe in the treatment, it certainly won’t work. But, dear readers, one cannot simply make oneself hope. If it were that easy, I promise I would do it. I have tried, but it’s no use. I just have to rely on the Holy Spirit to hope in me and on the hope that all of you have for me. That’s ultimately why I decided to even tell you about next week.  That and my very strong belief in honesty as one of the most powerful healing tools. So, thank you for hoping on my behalf. I do continue to pray for hope and I pray even for the desire to hope. “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here.”

Last time I chose Habakkuk 3:19 to keep me focused and grounded throughout treatment and that verse is still very present in my mind and heart. But I have been praying for God to lead me to another verse this time. I believe He gave me a passage this morning:

"I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope" (Acts 2:25-26).

MY BODY ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE. Those words burst off the page and straight to my heart. The passage is about Jesus’ body not seeing decay but also about hope for our own glorified bodies. One day our bodies will shed every malfunction and will be perfected, the way God intended from the beginning. I hope for that day. But I pray that my hope lives for today as well.

This passage is the same as in Psalm 16, but the wording in Acts touched my heart. I love the prior verse, Psalm 16:7 that says, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Even in the darkness, maybe even because of the darkness, I can hear Him speaking clearer to me. He counsels my broken and hope-weary heart. I live in hope to hear His voice, even if health never comes in this life.

God goes before me and stands beside me (Psalm 16:8). My faith was not shaken last time and it will not be shaken this time. There was a time when my faith would have faltered, but I am so thankful that I have learned to run toward God instead of away from Him in hurt and anger when my hope is crushed. He makes my heart glad and brings praise to my lips (Psalm 16:9) and I pray He also brings living hope to my body. In Psalm 16 the wording is, “my body will also rest secure.” Even in brokenness, my body can rest in the hope of its eventual revival.

“… you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:10-11). God will never abandon us because of Jesus. Because Jesus lives, we can live. We follow Him down the path to life. Nothing here on earth is as wonderful as His presence, and we have the hope of eternal pleasures because He holds us in the same hand as those pleasures. Someone once said, “The more aware I become of God’s presence with me now, the more I hope for heaven, and not in my usual trying-to-escape way. I hope for heaven because I want to see Jesus face to face. Experiencing God now has led me to a greater hope in heaven. Being with Him has become more important to me than health and sentiment. What could be more healing than the presence of God?” Okay, it was me.. haha. I said it. You (and I) really should read the post I wrote on hope again… so click here.

I hope to experience God next week, no matter what else happens. I pray He brightens my spirit with a hope that is alive and coursing through my veins.  “No amount of disappointment after hope can ever be worse than feeling… your spirit darken without it.” Wow, that girl really knows what she’s talking about. 😉

So, next week we leap again in the strength of God. We pray for His counsel in the darkness and His hope everlasting. We rejoice in the presence of God always with us and pray that God will take my right hand so that my body will always LIVE IN HOPE.

Song I’m feeling: Living Hope, by Phil Wickham:

“In desperation, I turned to heaven
And spoke Your name into the night
Then through the darkness, Your loving-kindness
Tore through the shadows of my soul
The work is finished, the end is written
Jesus Christ, my living hope.”

God, in desperation I speak the name of Jesus into my doubt and disappointment. Bring light to the shadows of my brokenness. I know Your work is already finished. And the end is YOU. Hallelujah. Amen.

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A Broken Heart Is Broken Ground

Jesus told this parable:

“A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down'” (Luke 13:6-9).

I may be taking some liberties with this text but I can’t get it out of my head. What struck me most was the “dig around it and fertilize it” part. In order for fruit to grow on a tree, it requires digging up of the stagnant ground and anything in that ground that hinders growth. It also requires the pouring in of those things that help growth, like water and fertilizer. In order for God’s fruit to grow in my life, I have to dig up the places I’ve neglected, avoided, and let dry up. I have to dig out Satan’s lies I’ve allowed to take root and choke me out. And I have to allow God’s living water to refresh me. I have to let His Spirit fill me with truth. I can’t make my own fruit grow, as impatient as I am, but what I can do is of vital importance. I can dig up the past that has so hindered me and I can pour in the Truth and let the Holy Spirit fall fresh on me.

To me, this is reminiscent of Psalm 51:16-17, “You do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” God already provided the ultimate sacrifice through Jesus so He doesn’t want any more burnt offerings or trying to earn salvation. What He does want is a broken and humble heart, open and allowing His love and truth to pour in. We cannot receive from God unless we break up the walls around our heart and the ground we’ve allowed to dry up in us. But we don’t do this difficult work on our own. It’s so interesting to me that the contrite heart in Psalm 51 is noted in my Bible to be the same words in Matthew 11:29 that describe God as “gentle and humble in heart”. It is in this passage that God calls us to come to Him, to rest our souls, and to let Him be yoked to us in order to lighten our load. The process will absolutely require heartbreak, but God offers us comfort in His rest.

For many years I have been like that landowner, waiting for my fruit to grow. And I praise God for allowing me to taste its sweetness here and there. But every time I see the fleshly parts of myself rear their ugly heads, I wonder how much longer I will have to wait for the whole tree to bloom with big, beautiful fruit. The bearing of fruit requires patience, unforced. And a lack of fruit just means that I have more ground to dig up, more truth to realize, more sweet rest to find, and more God to shower into my heart. I pray that God makes me useful by growing His fruit in my life so that I never simply ‘use up’ soil. I am thankful that He walks me through the digging up process as I plow the tough stuff side by side with Him (Matthew 11), and I am thankful that He is responsible for bearing the fruit, pruning me instead of cutting down the whole tree, because I am His. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

With God beside and within me, I continue to dig deep and open to His truth where once were lies, His water where once was dry, and His healing for my broken ground.

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My Strength On the Heights

Well, hello there. I thought I would post one more time before my treatment next week. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I was able to get into a very successful clinic for a four-day treatment after waiting well over a year for an appointment. People come from all over the U.S. to see these doctors and I feel privileged to finally be able to go there. I’m looking forward to it but also covet your prayers that the die-off reactions won’t be too severe. I heard that one of the treatments they do is an ionic foot bath so we decided to get one and I tried it out last night. I might be dying. It’s detoxing, for sure, but I’m just so sensitive. I may be re-thinking traveling back and forth each day since the clinic is more than two hours away. I welcome ALL THE PRAYERS. If you want to follow my progress, feel free to friend me on Facebook. I’ll try to update as I am able.

It’s been a rough little patch for me during this weird February heat wave. While most people are celebrating, I’ve fallen into a deeper depression. My biggest POTS trigger is heat and I can’t get even the tiniest bit too hot without feeling foggy, dizzy, and faint. I couldn’t help but think that if the cold is over already (and we barely had a winter. I know some of you will disagree with me on that), I have months… MANY months to feel like absolute poop. I’ve tried to snap out of this ‘blah’ because supposedly the treatment next week is going to cure my POTS. I want so badly to believe it. But you know how I struggle with hope.

I’m afraid of more disappointment crushing me. But I end up expending so much energy trying not to hope that I get sicker and I’m usually unsuccessful anyway. Sometimes hope is an unstoppable force, thanks be to God. And this time I am better equipped to handle the disappointment. Previously, I don’t think I knew what to do with my wounds so I just let myself sink down into them. Of course, they absolutely need to be felt. But now I know how to avoid being irreparably crushed by them. I am no longer afraid to run straight to God and lift up my wounds, to show them to my Father, and to limp into His arms, asking Him to hold me while I pour out the pain. This time I’m trying to hope. Old habits die hard so, at the advice of my wise counselor, I’ve been doing my best to thank God for whatever does or does not happen next week. It’s not easy because, I’m telling you right now that if I don’t feel much better, my heart will be broken again. But thankfully I know what to do with that heartbreak now.

I’ve chosen Habakkuk 3:19 as my theme verse, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” God is my strength through whatever happens. He is our strength even, as it says in verses 17-18, “though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” I also have issues with ‘joy’ but God’s working on that in me as well. Even if nothing changes after next week, I will still love You, Lord. I will still run to You with my heartbreak.

Through all of this, God is my strength. I looked at the cross-references of this verse to discover what strength actually means here and, in Deuteronomy 33:29, it means that God is our shield and helper. He is our glorious sword. I love that. In Psalm 46:1-5, it means He is our very great reward.

What are the heights on which He enables us to stand? Most of the cross-references talk about battle and trampling on enemies. I am able to go into this battle with God’s strength and I can stand in the presence of my enemy and whatever he uses against me, whether it be Lyme, damaging lies, or shame. With God’s help, I can trample them. I don’t think I can go so far as to say it means I will be delivered from Lyme (though I very well may be), but that I can stand and fight, knowing that my reward is more of God.

I quite frequently watch deer outside my window and nothing seems to stand in their way. They bound over everything. I did a little research on their feet to see just what God is doing when He “makes my feet like the feet of a deer.” The outer hoof of a deer absorbs the shock of every step and gives traction on soft or wet surfaces. The inner hoof provides a cushion for hard surfaces. For these reasons, deer rarely stumble even when leaping into unknown territory.

So next week, I leap. I don’t know what I will find but, with God as my strength, I will not stumble. I will stand firm in the hard places and fight the lies of the enemy knowing that, no matter what happens, God is my very great reward.

Song I’m feeling: Sound of Surviving, by Nichole Nordeman

“They told me I’d never get to tell my story. Too many bullet holes.
It would take a miracle.
These voices inside my head like poison, trying to steal my hope,
silencing my soul.
But my story is only now beginning. Don’t try to write my ending.
Nobody gets to sing my song.
This is the sound of surviving. This is my farewell to fear.
This is my whole heart deciding, I’M STILL HERE.
I’m still here and I’m not done fighting.
This is the sound of SURVIVING.
These pieces, the ones that left me bleeding, intended for my pain
became the GIFT You gave me.
I gathered those pieces into a mountain. My freedom is in view.
I’m stronger than I knew.
And this hill is not the one I die on.
I’m gonna lift my eyes and I’m gonna keep on climbing.”

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How Do We Know We Have Healed?

I see so many people sharing the meme that says, “When you can tell your story and it doesn’t make you cry, that’s when you know you’ve healed.” I wholeheartedly disagree.

When someone we love dies, do we ever stop grieving? Do we really want to? When we experience any loss at all, there is grief. And grief means the person or circumstance was important to us and is part of our story. Is an end to grief really healing or just ignoring and trying to forget? Sure, tears may dissipate, but I don’t believe they have to disappear in order to heal. In fact, I would argue that allowing them brings far more healing. I believe every moment of our lives, good or bad, is an important part of our story and should never be forgotten. We need to remember our pain so that one day we can recognize and celebrate the good that God made from it. When we look back and see the beauty that was brought from our brokenness, do tears of gratitude or even continued sadness that it happened mean lack of healing?

My thinking on this has only recently begun changing. I used to agree with, and probably even shared, the meme in the past. For so long I thought that if I forgave someone or let God have control of a hurtful situation, I shouldn’t feel pain anymore. I beat myself up as unforgiving because seeing the person who hurt me or thinking about the situation still caused tremendous pain. I thought that feeling hurt or angry meant that I hadn’t really let something go; that I hadn’t truly released it from my grasp. But we can’t just stop pain and anger like that. Our feelings are a gift from God meant to be felt, not repressed. I hope I never stop becoming emotional about my story because it means that every bit of it was important to me. And every bit of it is important to God.

So, if lack of tears isn’t an indicator that we’ve forgiven, released, or let something go, how do we know that part of us has truly healed? I’m not entirely sure and am open to suggestion but I have some ideas. I suspect that we have truly forgiven when we can pray blessings on the person who hurt us and truly mean it, or we can be grateful for someone’s joy even when we don’t feel it ourselves. I wonder if healing looks like smiling at the memories of loved ones even through tears. Maybe it has to do with being able to think and talk about the terrible wrong that was done to us without fear because God hasn’t given us that spirit, but one of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus said “do not fear” quite a few times but I’m pretty certain He never said, “do not cry.” He would have looked pretty hypocritical if He did. I wonder if releasing something means we stop feeling powerless under it because God is powerful in us. Maybe it really means I have released myself, allowing myself to feel the way that I feel without shame. I wonder if it means we have sound minds because the broken person or circumstance is not plaguing our thoughts constantly, dipping us further and further into despair. I wonder if healing means believing that we no longer need whatever caused our hurt because we have all that we need in Christ. We may still want what we lost in our lives and wish things were different, but we admit that we don’t actually need it. Maybe we accept that we may never get what we want but we start to believe that’s okay because we will always have what God knows we truly need.

One of the definitions of release is to disentangle. I have a hunch that the things I still haven’t let go of are the things that are still tangled up in my identity or the way I believe and think. If the hurtful thing that happened is governing the way I think or act on a daily basis, I don’t think it has yet been released. Another definition is to allow something to move or act freely. If someone’s actions continue to cause me great distress, I don’t think I’ve let go of my control. I can still grieve, yes, but harm myself with constant stress over someone not acting how I think they should act is more than just grief.

One of the hardest definitions of release for me personally is to remove restrictions or obligations so that they become available for other activity. The problem is, I don’t WANT them to be available for other activity because that means they’ve truly left me, that something else was more important to them than me. I really struggle accepting that rejection and loss. So I wonder if healing in that area might be a strong sense that I am never rejected by God and that His acceptance and presence is more important to me than that of others. I think maybe I’m allowed to be sad that these people or circumstances are out of my life, but perhaps healing means that I don’t feel ultimately rejected because I know that I always matter to God. I think healing is a strong sense of who I am to God overpowering who I am/am not to the person who rejected me.

Another definition of release is allow to return to its resting position by ceasing to put pressure on it. This one is all about control. I’ve tried so hard to manage every circumstance and every person in my life so that I never have to get hurt in any way. But all of this pressure just ends up hurting me even more and ruins my relationships anyway. Healing = rest. There’s that ‘rest’ again.

The last definition of release that I’ll mention is to discharge a debt or surrender a right. If someone hurts me, I want justice. Technically, I deserve justice. But justice is not mine to take. It is God’s. Healing in this area may mean to stop thinking in terms of what the person owes me, but of the gratitude that we both owe to God for not enacting His justice on us.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). I speak this verse to myself more often than any others and I think it may have a lot to tell us about knowing when we have truly released something into the care of God. When we have forgiven or let something go, we can receive healing when it no longer fills us with fear. We are no longer afraid of rejection or ashamed of the way we feel. We recognize God’s power in us to overcome that shame and to know who we are in Him. We are able to love and bless others without fear of rejection even when they hurt us, because of God’s love in us. And we have a soundness of mind, a mind that no longer spins with anxiety and “what ifs” and “I should have done thats”. We have a mind at rest when we release the control of hurtful situations to God.

Healing doesn’t mean we stop crying. I think it means we cry without fear or shame. I think we have truly let go of control when we are no longer controlled by what happened. I think we have released when, despite continued pain, we are at rest with our heads on our Father’s chest, even if we are still crying in His arms. So, don’t be fooled by inaccurate memes. Our Father cares about our tears.

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Please Stop Telling Me I Will Get Better

"From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 'Never, Lord!' he said. 'This shall never happen to you!' 
Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.' 
Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.'" - Matthew 16:21-25

Please hear this from a place of love and hurt, not anger. Perhaps I’ll regret this post on a day when hope is bigger, but this is how I feel today, so I’m writing it. I reserve the right to a retraction later. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s a leap to compare our suffering with this snapshot of Jesus and Peter. It probably is, but hear me out for just a few moments.

My feelings on this are similar to my beef with those who tell single people, “someone is out there waiting for you”, that I described many posts ago. You can’t possibly know that, so stop saying it. It’s not an encouragement. You don’t know if God has called that person to be unmarried. And you don’t know if I’m going to get better. You don’t know if we will find a house. You don’t know if our circumstances will ever improve in this lifetime… so please stop saying it. There’s a huge difference between, “I know you will be healed” and “I hope you will be healed.” Maybe I have to “suffer many things” in order to bring about the greater good, a good I could never imagine. Peter couldn’t imagine how a suffering and dying Christ could ever be good. But it was the greatest good. It was hard enough for Jesus to stand strong through suffering without Satan jabbing him in the ear with the thought that it shouldn’t have to be this way. And sufferers everywhere have a hard enough time remembering that God’s plan is good. We don’t need any ear-jabbing, reinforcing our own questions of how a good God can allow suffering to happen. Get behind us, Satan.

As a society, maybe even especially as Christians, we are SO uncomfortable with suffering. I get it. I’m uncomfortable too. We don’t want to imagine that bad things could happen to us that we won’t be able to fix. So we try to convince ourselves and the suffering person that he/she isn’t doing enough because, if so, there would be complete healing by now. We have to believe sufferers will get better because we don’t want to sit in the pain with them for the rest of this life, if at all. We have no idea how to reconcile within our hearts a good God with deep and long-lasting suffering. But until we can come to terms with this, we will never be able to truly accept the cross, the deepest and greatest suffering there ever was.

We are stumbling blocks to each other, with our minds on this world rather than the glory of God. There’s no doubt we mean well. I’m sure Peter did too. But instead of being a rock of support that sufferers can rest on, we are a stumbling block to them, tripping them up over whether or not they have enough faith to change their circumstances. Isn’t saying, “I must get better” throwing down my cross instead of taking it up? Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Hear me on this. I don’t believe God actually wants us to suffer. Suffering entered at the fall of humankind. But I do believe God has been working good through suffering ever since. I have hope that I will get better in this life, waning hope, but hope nonetheless. But I am not God. I refuse to believe that I WILL get better. I will hope and pray for miracles but I will look forward to what I KNOW will come – my heavenly home.

My life is not my own. I will lose everything for the sake of Christ if that is what will bring Him the most glory. But I have to stop trying to save myself. And you have to stop trying to save me by rationalizing and empty words. Hope with me, yes. But don’t speak for God. It’s not my intention to seem harsh. Trust me, I am just as guilty of trying to explain away suffering because I HATE seeing it in those I love. But, it doesn’t help. It just hurts. And I humbly apologize for my role in hurting any sufferers in this way. I pray God continues to remove from me this spirit of judgement and fear when it comes to the suffering of others. I’m encouraged that the same Peter Jesus scolded for being a stumbling block was the rock on which He built His church. We can be good rocks once we lay down our tendency to be tripping rocks.

Striving has only caused me to lose my life even more. I do my best every day, every hour, to lay down my life at the feet of Jesus. I ask you to lay it down too. Be my support block, not my stumbling block. I stumble over myself enough as it is. If you can’t support, silence is golden. I have lost much in my life. I’m hoping that if I can stay faithful in that loss without rebuking God for not healing me, I will find my life in abundance one day in heaven. My Savior said it. Therefore, it is true. Amen. Let it be so.

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The Gift of Grace

When I was younger I thought that if I didn’t take communion one week and then I died, I might not go to heaven. Good grief, what would younger me think of older me with food sensitivities who only took half-communion for a year… that I was only half-saved? I’m not exactly sure of the ‘logic’ but maybe I thought that the further away from my communion with God, the more unforgivable and full of sin I became. I cringe at the ways I create to make life more difficult. Even after I realized the communion thing was a false belief, I still thought that if I sinned and died before I repented of that sin, I wouldn’t go to heaven. I’ve heard this exact statement from friends even today and I want to scream, “Please let me introduce you to my loving Jesus!” But I have to put myself in check, remembering that I am a recovering perfectionist who has lived in fear and works-based salvation for most of my life. No one could have changed my mind back then so I know my words won’t convince my dear ones, but perhaps they will at least plant a seed that I pray God will grow into greater understanding of His unconditional love and the gift of grace.

Grace is not emphasized enough in our lives and teaching. As a result, so many of us grow up in fear and burn ourselves out from striving to be perfect. Did you know that when you asked Jesus into your heart, God started seeing Jesus when He looks at you? I honestly didn’t know that until a couple years ago, and it took me even longer to accept and believe it. This journey toward grace takes some serious unlearning of what we have always believed to be true but, I promise you, it is worth it. Jesus has already taken the punishment for our sins. We don’t have to live in fear anymore. We are free. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2). Hallelujah! Why do we live as if this were not true? Why do we live as though Jesus never died for us and we have to save ourselves over and over again? Aren’t you exhausted? I am!

So let’s crawl our exhausted selves right up into God’s lap and let Him tell us the truth about grace. Grace is “the free and unmerited favor of God.” Look at that. Grace is free! We don’t have to pay for it because Jesus already did. We don’t have to keep working to try and earn it. Please hear me. WE CAN’T EARN SOMETHING WE ALREADY HAVE. And grace is unmerited or, undeserved. I think this was my biggest hangup. I knew I didn’t deserve grace so I had trouble accepting it. But, God knows it’s undeserved, and He gives it anyway. If we deserved it, it wouldn’t be a gift. It would mean that we could work for our own salvation and forgiveness when God clearly says that we are saved by faith, not works. Grace means freedom from a works-based life, freedom from striving, freedom from perfectionism, and even freedom from the fear of imperfection. How often have we heard that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works? Why don’t we believe it? I think Satan has a field-day with our fears. He is the accuser and knows that if he can get us to believe that Jesus’ gift was not enough to save our terrible selves, we will be stripped of all peace and joy, and our striving will hinder our ministry and make us much less fruitful. Stomping on Satan’s lies over and over again (because he is super-persistent) is life-giving work; life-freeing for ourselves and life-saving for those we are supposed to point toward freedom in Christ. We can’t be used by God to free others when we aren’t living free ourselves. We need to ask God to help us throw off those chains! He’s already broken them but, for whatever reason, we won’t let them go. He wants so badly for us to let go!

Sometimes it’s difficult to see that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament because He seemed so punishing and severe back then. But we have to remember that at the end of Old Testament times, He sent His Son to take care of all the punishment for good… for ALWAYS. Not just until the next time we sin. I pray this most precious truth sinks down deep into our beings. We can never work hard enough to earn forgiveness. It’s a lost and hopeless cause. But, because God already did the work for us and forgave us, we can have hope. I’ve been wanting to talk about grace for awhile now but I couldn’t find the words and then we talked about it in our small group this week and this beautiful passage came up in my reading today:

“‘So there is hope for your future,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:17)
“‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
‘Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:18-20).

Even here we see God in the Old Testament, showing His character of grace and the love of a parent. His people were unbelievably rebellious (kind of like us). They turned away from Him and toward idols. They didn’t understand His love. But look at what God says about them. I could just weep. He calls them dear. He yearns for them. He delights in them! He DELIGHTS in His rebellious, straying children. His grace melts my heart. When God’s people realized what they had done and how they had strayed, like so many of us, they groveled in shame and humiliation. I was the queen of this kind of torturing, self-flagellating remorse for many years. I beat myself up in shame even though I knew Jesus had already died for me. I was ashamed that He paid the ultimate sacrifice so I thought if I beat myself up, maybe I could have some of the punishment that I deserved and He wouldn’t have to take so much. But the truth is, He already took it. It’s already done. Nothing I could ever do could somehow make the best thing that ever happened to the world any better. I can’t take away His suffering and give it to myself, so I must learn to accept it. I must pray every single day that God helps me accept it. No matter how often I stray from Him, God still delights in me and holds me dear. He restores me over and over again.

I was angry at God for a long time. I hid that fact even from myself for awhile because I didn’t think I should be angry at Him. After awhile, I just had to allow the fire-hot honesty flow out of me. I can hardly stand to recall the picture of myself screaming terrible things at God, even that I hated Him. I accused Him of hurting me and taking pleasure in hurting me. I recoil at the memory, but that picture is an important part of my story. I was living in such darkness that I could not see the real picture. I was relying on my own understanding of God and He wanted to show me His understanding. I’ve fallen to my knees in repentance and acceptance of his mind-blowing grace each time the real picture becomes just a little bit more clear. The true picture is God’s extremely broken child, reeling in pain and hurt, trying to escape her Father’s comforting arms, lashing out at Him for not making it better… all the while being held by Him who, despite the blows and cutting words, still held her dear. Despite what she thought, He was not saying, “you’re getting what you deserve” or “I don’t care that you’re suffering”, but simply, “I know, beloved. I know. I’m here.” He so desperately longs for me to understand that He already ‘made it better’. He made it best. I just can’t see it yet.

He’s a God of unbelievable grace… but oh, how He longs for us to believe it. I suppose that just as addicts are always recovering addicts, I will always be a recovering perfectionist; a recovering striver, constantly learning the freedom that comes from resting in the grace of God. I see and feel this so deeply in my own life and pray it for yours: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). I know I can’t convince you but, once you feel the peace and joy that comes with that freedom, your heart will absolutely leap to share it with others. For that reason I pray fervently for all of you who still live in fear and striving. I pray that you ask God to tell you the truth about His grace and that you allow that truth to saturate you, to fill you to the point that there is no room for works-based and fear-based lies anymore. And if you’re like me and you don’t even want to ask God to show you the truth about grace because you don’t think you deserve it, there is no shame in asking Him to help you want to ask! My mouth almost hurt the first time I finally eked out that prayer, but God hears even our most hesitant prayers. The next time you pray, your mouth may form the words a little better. Then you may be able to ask louder and with more confidence. And once God gives you the desire, then you can ask Him to tell you the truth. And then you can ask Him to help you let the truth sink in. Once His truth finally sinks down into your heart, you will feel the blessed freedom that comes with God’s gift of grace. I will never stop praying this for us, God’s dear ones!

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No Pain, No Gain

January 3, 2019, mostly written in my journal:

I had a laser detox treatment yesterday and it has required me not to touch a phone, computer, remote, or my dog for 25 hours. I could explain the details and the whys but right now I just don’t have the strength. Detoxing is exhausting. Here’s a video if you’re interested. Without anything to distract me, I’ve had a lot of time to think.

Every disease has an emotional connection. Again, I don’t have the strength to explain this but you can follow the work of Trina Hammack, who has studied brain scans to determine the effects of different emotional traumas on the brain. The emotional connection with POTS is heartbreak. My heart has been broken and not yet healed. I’ve been talking to God about the heartbreak for months now, trying to figure out what it is. I honestly believe that one of the biggest unhealed heartbreaks is my illness itself. I didn’t have POTS until quite awhile after Lyme had already wreaked so much havoc. I wonder if that’s why so many people with Lyme have POTS. Lyme is so evil. There’s a hashtag going around: #lymeisloss. Lyme is loss. And why is it still unhealed? Because it’s a daily loss. The loss never ends. I think I’m doing everything right and then I have to cut something else out of my life. It’s so unfair, but I know that’s life. It’s hard for me to watch other people on social media doing whatever they want so this technology break is good for me. I can’t stop the twinge of jealousy or the tremendous worry and urge to tell them they need to stop doing what they’re doing or they’ll end up sick like me. I lay my jealousy, judgement, and fear at the feet of Jesus once more.

I’ve been alone here in bed, allowing the losses to linger so I can grieve for them. I’ve lost my career and, with that, my daily support system and social interaction. I’ve lost a whole lot of in-person contact and now, with my very limited internet time (decreasing EMF exposure), I’m becoming even more isolated. I’ve lost my freedom and independence. I’ve lost my dearest friend. We think I’m picking up some immune stressors (pesticides and parasites) from my dog so I was worried about losing her but, if I’m going to heal emotionally, separating me from my dog is probably not the way to do it. It’s been a challenging 25 hours keeping her out of this room. She’s very persistent! I’ve lost the people with whom I used to spend time. I’ve lost fun. I’ve lost exercise and hiking and being outside for long periods of time. It’s such a little thing but I’ve recently lost my favorite coffee. No more Tim Horton’s for me! I’ve lost the ability to put anything into my mouth or walk outside without fear that I will ingest or inhale something my body hates. Although I’ve been back a couple times recently, I still feel like I’ve lost my church. I don’t feel like I belong there anymore. I’ve lost music in the way I used to experience it. I’ve lost much of my confidence and my stability. We’ve lost financial security and the hope of ever getting out of debt. I’ve lost my perfectly clean house and even some of my looks. I’ve lost much enjoyment of food and, while I’ve come to terms with not eating when everyone else is eating, I can tell it makes other people uncomfortable. I’ve lost the ability to do things for others. For so long I lost my feelings of significance, joy, and hope. We’ve lost other things that I haven’t decided I’m ready to talk about with the world so, stay tuned. And every single day is a new experience of these losses as well as new ones. So, how? How can I possibly heal from the heartbreak when the breaking just keeps happening over and over?

I wonder if this is how. Because Lyme is not just loss. It is also gain. I talked about this in more detail in my previous post, It Was Because of An Illness, so I’d love for you to read it if you haven’t yet. I have gained an intuition with my body like you would not believe. I know what organ is struggling when and usually why. I have gained relationships with all of those who are guiding me toward health. I have gained time. Yes, I have lost time doing the things I used to love but I have gained time with God, which is a much better use of time anyway. I have gained an addiction to and love for Scripture and I have gained inspiration from those who write about their own experiences. I have gained introspection and a continued discovery of my weaknesses and the areas that need healed. I have gained a deeper prayer life. I have gained a voice and less fear of expressing my opinions. I have gained a greater longing for heaven. I have gained much better priorities. I have gained a story. I have gained honesty. I have gained an understanding of who I am in Christ. I have gained rest and peace while slowly releasing my spirit of striving. I have gained a better understanding of grace. I have gained the time for and realization of the importance of grieving and not stopping my grief even when I think, “I should really pull myself together now.” There is no “should” with grief. I have gained the gift of solitude to experience healing in all of these things.

I thought about all of this yesterday and how I would honestly rather experience physical pain than emotional pain, so it’s been hard for me to allow myself to feel and grieve these daily losses. But it’s so important and I thank God that He knows what I need, gives me time to experience it, and stays here with me through it. He is the only  One who sees me completely unglued and that is becoming more and more precious to me. This time is sacred and beautiful, as painful as it often is. #lymeisloss but, also, #lymeisgain. Through my loss, I gain more God. What a precious gift!

Now it is hour 23. I dozed off and woke up in AGONY! I was doubled-over in pain and Jason said he thought I was dying (do you think we both exaggerate a little? I did scare him, though). The pain was so excruciating that I told God, “Remember when I said yesterday that I’d rather experience physical pain than emotional pain? That wasn’t a suggestion!” I guess I was just experiencing the final detox purge. The pain has eased a bit now so I may decide to change my vow of “never doing this again” later. Isn’t that the way we so often are? When we experience pain, we vow never to do what caused that pain again, whether it be trust, or stepping out of our comfort zone, or a medical treatment. But maybe the saying really is true: “No pain, no gain.” We have to experience the pain to get to the healing. So I will continue to experience my losses, knowing that each one will be redeemed. I will continue to feel so that I can heal. I will let go of trying to control the way my  heart breaks, and just let it break. I will allow pain for the greater gain.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:17

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Rest to Be Restored

Today marks three years since the loss of my job. My Facebook status that day included words to the song, “Promise of a Lifetime”, by Kutless. “I have fallen to my knees as I sing a lullaby of pain. I’m feeling broken in my melody as I sing to help the tears go away.” Many times since that day I have left my bed to fall on my knees in the other room, mixing worship and tears. I was devastated and still grieve even three years later. I remember choking out a question, “What am I supposed to do?” As I’ve said before, God’s answer was, “Rest and let Me heal you.” I was not a fan of that answer but it has certainly grown on me as I’ve slowly come to understand God’s purpose.

As we near the end of 2018, I’m in a reflecting mood. The word God gave me for this year was ‘restore.’ I didn’t notice until now that the word ‘restore’ doesn’t even exist without ‘rest’. It’s amazing to me that God gave me both of these words. I know now that we can’t have one without the other. We can’t heal from any wound without rest and we can’t be restored without resting in God. I was exhausted in every way – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually – because I had been trying to do everything myself with no help from the Lord. Three years ago I thought I just needed to be restored physically but now I know that I more desperately needed to be restored in every other way. In order for that to happen, I needed to rest.

We rest to allow God to carry our burdens. “Then I remember the pledge You made to me. I know You’re always there to hear my every prayer inside. I’m clinging to the promise of a lifetime. I hear the words You say to never walk away from me and leave behind the promise of a lifetime”(Kutless). We can rest because God promises that He will never leave us. We are safe with Him; safer than we are when we try to protect ourselves. We never have to carry our burdens alone. God invites us to this deep soul rest in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Doesn’t a light and easy burden sound wonderful? I was very happy in my job and my personal life but the damage from previously trying to hold myself together had already been done. I had put so much burden on myself to be everything to everyone, to fix myself and everyone else. I needed to learn how to let God carry the unnecessary, self-inflicted load.

We rest so that we can be refreshed. “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed” (Exodus 23:12). Even my status three years ago alludes to my striving, “After 4 years, 9 months and 8 days of living, breathing, and loving my job, I said goodbye today. There are no words to describe the heartbreak. Prayers appreciated as I struggle to find purpose in my life again.” Not only did I have my purpose entirely wrong, but I put my whole self into it. I never stopped. Jesus told His disciples to rest when they had been doing too much without taking care of their own needs. “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'” (Mark 6:31). Jesus cares about our needs and asks us to rest with Him. We need to pay more attention to His nudges so that He can refresh us and we can stay healthy in every way.

We rest so that we can be repaired. Honestly, learning to rest doesn’t always feel gentle. One of the definitions of restore is “repair or renovate.” “Will You help me fall apart? Pick me up. Take me in Your arms” (Kutless). I didn’t think about it three years ago when I used the song lyrics to ask God for help but, in order to be repaired, it’s necessary to fall apart first. I felt deep in my soul even then that I needed to fall apart but I didn’t know how. I needed God to help me. Up until then I had been doing everything I could to hold every broken piece of myself together. I didn’t know how to let myself crumble and the thought terrified me. I have since learned the beauty of brokenness. We don’t get to experience healing restoration if we don’t allow ourselves to break first. It hurts SO MUCH, but the treasure of falling apart is that we fall into God’s arms. How can we experience such comfort if we don’t allow ourselves to fall?

We rest so that we can be blessed and made holy. “Find my way back from the storm and You show me how to grow through the change” (Kutless). “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:3). If we don’t stop to let God work in us, we don’t give Him the opportunity to make us holy. If we’re striving in our own work without God’s help, that work is not holy. Holy work is done by God in us. All we have to do is give up our control and let Him. I don’t want to miss such an opportunity for God’s blessing.

In order to gain all of these benefits of rest, we have to stop what we are doing and we have to let go of our own understanding. “I am holding on to the hope I have inside. With You I will stay through every day, putting my understanding aside and I am comforted” (Kutless). When God rested, He ceased doing. I needed to stop doing the destructive things I was doing (self-protecting, trying to control, trying to prove I was worthy of restoration, basically trying to be God). I needed to let go of my need to know and my striving to figure it all out and I needed to soften my heart to God’s purpose and restoration.

After much wrestling and finally resting, I can now see these last three jobless years as God’s way of blessing me. He has changed my view of His purpose for me. He has helped me let go and allow Him to carry my load (obviously, I’m not completely cured in this area but I’m thankful to be God’s work in progress). He is refreshing me and healing me. And He’s not just repairing me. He’s doing a complete renovation of my heart. Now I truly believe that’s what God meant when He told me He would restore me this year. He is renovating me- making me holy and preparing me for His purpose. I am so very thankful that I’ve FINALLY surrendered and am allowing Him to do so.

“Looking back at me I know that You can see my heart is open to the promise of a lifetime” (Kutless). After I finally invited Him, God opened the door of my heart this year and poured Himself in. His abundant love and grace are pushing out everything that doesn’t match His will for me. I am so grateful for the changes I see in myself and I look forward to what He is preparing me for… the year of HOPE.

May you let God pour His heart into yours this new year.

Song I’m feeling: Promise of a Lifetime, by Kutless

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In His Tender Mercy, God Still Enters In

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1). From nothing, God brings forth something wonderful. From a stump that appeared to be dead sprang the most beautiful shoot of life: Jesus.

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it” (John 1:5). There is so much I don’t understand about Jesus. I think I’ve had a cleaned-up picture of His birth in my mind for all these years because I can’t imagine my Savior being born in such a human way. Surely God would have cleaned up the stable a bit, right? He certainly wouldn’t have wanted His Son to be born in filth. Don’t you think God would have removed all the animal spit germs from the manger before He allowed Jesus to lie there? It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around Jesus’ complete humanness. But the truth is, the Son of God laid where dirty animals put their mouths. Jesus was vulnerable to the grime of a stable and the smell of manure. I guess I never wanted to imagine the reality of the mess.

I shield my eyes from the cross as well. I find myself believing that God couldn’t have meant for it to be that gruesome. Maybe He helped Jesus with some supernatural pain management. It didn’t actually hurt that bad, did it? But the truth is, as much as I try to shield myself from believing in pain, Jesus refused to shield Himself from it. He entered into the pain, the horror, and the filth of His life and death. He refused the wine mixed with gall (Matthew 27:34) that might have eased his suffering a bit or ended it sooner. I struggle to grasp that He fully and willingly entered into humanity.

Why would God do all of this for me? Zechariah tells us in Luke that God sent Jesus “to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days” (Luke 1:74-75). “because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:78-79). I love the part that says He did it to enable us to serve without fear. Because of Jesus, we are no longer bound by the Law. Because of His ultimate sacrifice, we don’t have to live in constant guilt and offer countless sacrifices. God, in His tender mercy, sees us in our dark and death-like places and He doesn’t turn away. Instead, He pours out His grace. He has removed our guilt once and for all so that we are are free to serve Him in peace, not fear.

It’s important for me to uncover my eyes and gaze upon this truth if I am ever to believe that Jesus enters the stench and sin of my own heart. I need to see Him as a vulnerable infant lying on animal spit with the smell of manure wafting over Him if I am ever to believe that He cares about my vulnerability. I need to stare Jesus in his agonized face on the cross if I am ever to believe that He could enter into my own pain. I need to believe in Jesus’ humanness and sacrificial love for me if I am ever to have the peace that God intended. I need to understand that God will never turn away from my heart no matter how dark I feel it is. He springs forth beautiful shoots of life where I see only death. God brought about the highest good from the greatest pain and He will bring about my greatest possible good from my own pain.

God didn’t change the time of the census so a very pregnant Mary could give birth in comfort. He didn’t make room in an inn so that His Son wouldn’t have to be born in a stable. He didn’t clean up the stable and He didn’t skip the messiness of human birth. He didn’t take away the pain and horror of the cross. Jesus did not shield Himself from the agony and vulnerability of His human life and He does not shield Himself from ours. This Christmas, I pray for a greater understanding of what God did for us. I pray for us to embrace the reality of our mess and open our eyes to see Jesus in it. I pray for the wholehearted belief that God, in His tender mercy, still enters our misery and pours out His grace. I pray for the courage to look Jesus in His agonized face and cry, “Thank You.”

Song I’m Feeling: It’s About the Cross, by Go Fish
“It’s about God’s Love nailed to a tree. It’s about every drop of blood that flowed from Him when it should have been me.”

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Fire of Hope

I used to love Christmas. When I was younger, I would even decorate my bedroom. When I moved out, my roommie and I would combine our holiday cheer into a glorious festival of lights bordering on tacky. Okay, it was pretty tacky. For many years of my life after the Christmas Eve service, I would sit in my room by the light of the Christmas lights, quietly listening to the Point of Grace Christmas albums until midnight when I would sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

That Christmas cheer left me a few years ago and now I pretty much dread this holiday. It’s such a chore to put the decorations up and even more depressing to take them down. Christmas seems to be a reminder to me that things are not as they were. The death of my holiday spirit was due to a combination of losses. Holidays have become just a marker of time for me, reminding me how very long I have been sick. My traditions can no longer go on. I can’t usually go ‘home’ to spend it with my family. I can’t attend every event, parade, or concert that I used to attend. I can’t eat what everyone else is eating and will never again experience my mom’s famous Christmas cookies. I can’t sing Christmas songs with the choir or worship team. I don’t have the ability to pick out perfect gifts for people. I lost my job three days after Christmas. Etc, etc. Oh, and one year while decorating, I discovered that a mouse had stolen all the fuzz off the front of the Christmas stocking that I had since I was a baby, wrapped itself up in it, and died. I’m still in mourning. Not for the mouse, but for my stocking, tradition, and sentiment. I’m sure the mouse died a nice, warm, peaceful death. Bah-humbug.

“Fire of hope is our only warmth. Weary, it’s flame will be dying soon” (Night of Silence, by Daniel Kantor). I think that’s what happened to me. It’s not possible to have Christmas joy without hope and the light of my hope was snuffed out. Why? Because my hope was in tradition, my career, my health, Christmas activities, gift-giving, and sentiment. I didn’t have a lot of hope in Jesus.

A friend recently said, “hope is the most important thing we have.” Honestly, I wanted to rebel against that statement. I feared hope for so long because, in my mind, hope meant disappointment. I couldn’t handle any more of that. I tried to find hope in heaven but I was still left to question the now. What am I hoping for now? Perhaps it’s a more mature faith than mine that can live with only the hope of heaven (as if that’s an ONLY and not the greatest hope ever), but the step I was finally willing to take toward that faith was hoping to experience God in the present. I am overwhelmed by how He shows up for me when I’m looking for Him. I am inviting Him here and He speaks to me in so many ways. The more aware I become of God’s presence with me now, the more I hope for heaven, and not in my usual trying-to-escape way. I hope for heaven because I want to see Jesus face to face. Experiencing God now has led me to a greater hope in heaven. Being with Him has become more important to me than health and sentiment. What could be more healing than the presence of God?

The more I think about this, the more I’m persuaded about hope’s importance. I was surprised when I finally noticed that hope is not listed with the fruit of the Spirit. I was puzzled. If hope is so important, why didn’t God gift it to us like He did the fruit? I think there are at least two reasons for this.

Hope fuels the growth of all the other fruit. Think about it. If our hope is in Jesus, we know that He will keep His promises. He promised to continue the good work that He started in us. He planted the fruit of the Spirit in us and, when we hope to experience Jesus, that fruit grows. When our hope is in Jesus, we grow the pure love of Christ, the joy of being in His presence, the peace that passes understanding, the patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control that matches His, and the faith that endures through suffering. Without hope, the fruit in us cannot grow. When we hope in things that do not last, our fruit becomes diseased. Mine certainly has. My love has not been pure, but conditional. My joy has been nonexistent. My peace has turned into constant anxiety, my faith weak, and all the rest of the fruit inconsistent and spotty. As my hope shifts back to Jesus, I am watching my fruit grow in health and vitality. Thanks be to God.

The other possible reason for hope not being a fruit is that hope can be lost, but the fruit of the Spirit is a gift from God already in us. The fruit may not have grown big and ripe yet, but it’s in us. In contrast, I believe the flame of hope can die. I believe this because it happened to me. I refused to hope and my world became a very dark place. My fruit started to shrivel as it searched for the Light. I couldn’t see through the darkness the compassions that the writer of Lamentations saw, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him'” (3:21-24). I wasn’t allowing God to fill me with hope. Therefore, I was consumed with disappointment and only begrudgingly waited for Him to rescue me. Now, I’m beginning to see the newness He brings to each day.

Before I lead you to believe that it has returned to Fa La La Land up in here, let me tell you that I have yet to regain my “thrill of hope.” However, the spark is back. God is growing His fruit in me again. I pray every day as we enter the week before the holiday that my Christmas will no longer be lost because Jesus cannot be lost. I pray that Christmas regains its sparkle for me because it’s about Jesus, not all those other useless hopes. And, as hard as it is for me to pray for hope, I pray that He will continue to fan that flame so it can grow His fruit in me. I pray all of these things for you, too. No amount of disappointment after hope can ever be worse than feeling your fruit shrivel and your spirit darken without it. “Breathless love awaits darkened souls. Soon will we know of the morning” (Daniel Kantor).

Song I’m Feeling: Night Of Silence, by Daniel Kantor. Oh my, you have to click on the link and listen to this arrangement.

“Cold are the people, winter of life
We tremble in shadows this cold, endless night
Frozen in the snow lie roses, sleeping
Flowers that will echo the sunrise
Fire of hope is our only warmth
Weary, its flame will be dying soon.

Voice in the distance, call in the night
On wind You enfold us, You speak of the light
Gentle on the ear You whisper softly
Rumors of a dawn so embracing
Breathless love awaits darkened souls
Soon will we know of the morning.

Spirit among us, shine like the star
Your light that guides shepherds and kings from afar
Shimmer in the sky so empty, lonely
Rising in the warmth of Your Son’s love
Star unknowing of night and day
Spirit we wait for Your loving Son.”

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