May 09, 2015

It's Your Breath In My Lungs So I Pour Out My Praise

I’ve come to meet with God.

Legs criss-crossed like a little girl. I stream voices of praise into my room where the bedsheets slide down and off in fits of coughing and the vials gather on my bedside table. Broken open and dripped into my nebulizer where they’ll wisp like the breath of God into my lungs and then hiss and gurgle and spurt their remnants and I’ll pray for wide open spaces and the emptiness to be filled.

These past months have birthed so many empty spaces. A hunger for God and a desperation like a crack in the surface plunging down to the deepest soil. I’ve planted myself to hear and feel because I need a cushion between the pain in the world, the pain I carry around in my veins and tendons and muscles and soul. I need a soft safe space.

I meet God in my pain, maybe because without desperation there is no awakening. Maybe we’re just not that desperate for God in the day to day. But afflict my body or my mind and I seek like a hunted thing.

Pain has made me keen and acute and sharpened my senses and I see it everywhere. It calls out to me and demands to be heard in a world that can’t see God’s goodness through their scars. And maybe in this great equalizer, the place where we all feel a little tender and aching we see each other clearer.

I spent the night in the ER and that might have been the beginning. The thing that needed to break free in me. The dam that was holding back my story. And it was all so clear then. Maybe this book is being written now in bath crayons on the walls of my shower as I sift memories and sentences float to the surface gathering into meaning. The writing has started to come and I can’t hold it back. Maybe God is churning the depths and all He needed was that cracked soil, the deep abyss, for the water to flow from hard clay and earth. The dust we come from. The stories kicked up in plumes when we walk through the drylands. 

I’m asking for answers. Maybe the steroids for my lungs are making me more demanding and my manner abrupt but I need to hear from the Lord. I can’t make God move, but I can be ready.

I am ebbing in peace and tension, a constant flow from feeling God’s presence to wanting Him to make things clear for me. I am great desire and longing but for once so much flesh has been scalded and burned clean in these fires. I feel scales fall and I can only imagine it’s the tears loosening them from my eyes.

I’ve learned to watch for the way God moves in my life. It is always through woven things and pieces coming together. It is through scripture and worship and flowers on my window sill. It is through the lips of friends and that gut ache that won’t go away no matter how I shoo it. It is through tears and wadded up tissues streaked black with mascara because you had no idea God was going to move just then and you were caught unaware. It is through obvious and hidden things.

I’m seeing Jesus in new forms.

The man-boy, just 14 and already so tall he towers his father looks me dead center and says, “"Mom, when has God done anything glorious through you in a place that wasn't vulnerable and dangerous?" He’s been watching and my mama heart busts wide because he’s seen my humanity, my frailty, and my fear and yet glory has been shining through too. Through the worn and weary spaces, it filters into our lives. I am doing no small thing here. In my home where I belong. The place where all my parts fit.

This is holy work. Living in the desperate spaces, gathering manna and mystery in the desert.
It is always only ever enough for today. He keeps me hungry but I’m learning each day brings nourishment.

Today I gorged on Voxer messages from friends, laughed till my lungs rattled in my chest, cried out tears and felt the range and breadth of belonging to a sisterhood. We’re not just sharing our stories and jokes and words, we’re sharing the truth of who we are. I never imagined I would value female friendships and yet God has seen fit to heal me through my scars. I see Jesus here.

My mom brought home 6 long stemmed peony buds and placed them in my room in a cerulean vase. I will wait and watch them blossom. I see Jesus here.

I scroll through Facebook statuses and memories from my recent road trip and gathering with friends both new and old and I hear their voices in messages and we have so many hashtags and inside jokes and I hold them close to ponder. I see Jesus here.

I stood at the podium shaking with tears brimming and threatening to burst free and it wasn’t because I was nervous. It was because my bones couldn’t contain the fire I felt, the fire from these trials, the heat and scorch of God’s refining embrace and I was unleashed. 

I spoke the words God told me in the middle of the night and they breathed life into me. But I knew before I had spoken a single word that something had changed in me. Those empty spaces were filled as if a geyser had been tapped and I felt whole.

 Earlier that morning I had sat in my room with my handy dandy nebulizer praying for God to keep my lungs open long enough to get through my session. I wandered into worship and my friend Dana was leading us into the presence of God, "It's your breath in my lungs, so we pour out our praise," was being sung and even though I couldn't get out more than a few words at at time I felt God swoop low and near and gather me. It was my anthem to enter in. 

I know my God is good. 

Because what I know now is God prepares His people and Jesus is everywhere. Make room to hear and see, allow for empty spaces, and when He shows up and speaks, write it down. Because sometimes later, when you're hurting again, hearts are prone to wander. At least mine is.  

I am called to a small and humble ministry of weakness. Really, we all are.

 I feel crippled and yet I can walk when He speaks. I stand and part my lips, I lift my pen, I pull my child onto my lap and stroke his hair, I tilt my nose to the petals as they pry themselves loose from their bud. I see Jesus here.

If you’ve kept up with my blog I’ve written a bit here and there about some of the crazy from these last months but there is so much more and I think it might be the opening chapters for my book. That one I thought I'd be writing 5 or 10 years from now. The one I kept telling people is not yet and I'm in no rush. So in some ways, I'm holding out on you. Some of these stories and processes are not meant for a blog post and I'm writing them in longer form. My blog has been a bit quiet but that's also due to all the sickness. I'm going to be back to posting once a week starting sometime next week-ish. I don't know yet what will come of it all this but I know I can trust the process God leads me on no matter where I end up. Right now, I just need to write it. 

Here are some of the links that are birthing my story bit by bit
When We Gather in Pain
When God Wants Your Surrender Not Your Strength
Five Minute Friday: Break
The Truth is I am Tired

Also, I promised a link to my notes for my talk at Jumping Tandem entitled,  The Art of Truth Telling: How Grace Unmakes Bitter Fruit. For those of you who weren't present, there are a lot of gaps because I never stick to my notes and I tell jokes and stories which don't usually make it in there. So these feel a little nekkked. I know people can find the link on my blog but I'd rather it not be shared as a whole. Feel free to share passages or quotes with attribution but not the actual link please. Thanks kindly.

If you want to see some highlights of my trip you can follow my actual fun FB page here. 

Lastly, I loved all the emails I got from you guys after my last newsletter. Seriously I was in heaven reading and getting to know you guys and catching up with those I already know. So hit reply and tell me what's going on with you. Have grace with me, I will get back to you because, like I said, that's my favorite part.