Monday, September 29, 2014

Stooping To Reach {{a spiritual white space post}}

My bare feet rest on cool red bricks as I sit here on our front stoop.

My eyes glance along and follow the path of neatly laid, carfully planned, and purposefully placed rectangular cubes.
At their end, my sight is drawn up and through the framing archway to rest on sparkling pond waters across the road from our front yard. 

The Sun faces me in his rising course.  
His rays praising the Lord without end. My heart echos.
"The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." Ps16:6

It's being carved out here this morning; this lingering, unhindered time in unbroken companionship within my Abba's presence. 
I did not have to drive far, or pay a dime to carve out this space, this time, this beauty of soul-rest. 
It was simple. He called. He drew me through my own front door to be close to the glory placed right in front of me. 

This space of brick and stone.  This place that carries the feet of family and friends up to our door and into our home.  
This place of mundane functionality and, somewhat understated purpose.
His Spirit teaching me to gather the things of our communing and sit a while with him on this slab of formed concrete we call a stoop.

That term of this place is not lost on my heart. 
Stoop; "To bend oneself forward and downward, often to reach..."
One word, five letters, infinite meaning and truth. 
Is this not the very gut responding posture of finding spiritual white space.  
That space of unmarked, agenda-free rest which allows the spiritual work God is doing with one's soul to shine forth in highlight.  
Artists get it. Architects use it. Creation screams it.
Stop. Chose slow. Look and hear. 

Give the eye, the heart, the soul a place to rest that glory might shine forth.
Leaning your body, your mind, your soul forward to rest; reaching hard for the worth of an unhindered glory to fill and flood and to overflow in the rhythms of our living. 
"You make me know the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forever more." Ps16:11

I lift my eyes again to this space, changing in beauty with each passing moment of the sun's heightening angle. 
My eyes seek out and run along the lines that moss traces between rows of brick. 
This soft green calls for the touch of finger or toe....undeniable invitation. 
We did not plant or water this firmly delicate growth.  We simply receive the gift of it. 
How can such living comfort arise so perfectly between the layers of hard set here? 

It is the space between, not wasted, not dangerous or shallow or selfish...
The space between gives definition, order, and provides for this unfolding moss-beauty.

My heart knows the same sweet grace; the positioned and guarded moments of spiritual white space set within the rigid calls of life and ministry; this inbetween which breeds the soft green of growth and comfort within my soul. 
Abba's gentle communion with me; a gift received.
The bricks mark out the path.  They lead visitors to the door, 

but it is the gentle moss that softens the walk, feeding beauty to the traveler and extending undeniable invitation. 
"Times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord..." Acts3:20

Bricks, a stoop, bright green moss streaming together in tangible affirmation that 
I am met here in the stopping, the slowing and the resting into moments between that bright glory-growth might be received; filling my soul with soft beauty to offer those He has called me to...

What about you, dear Grace-friend in this place? 

Where is Abba calling you to stoop and reach for spiritual white space? 
Is there a mundane place in your world, commonly used for something else, but where you might draw aside with Him just to see and note His glory displayed?

Are you allowing inbetween spaces within your heart, mind, or schedule where the bright soft beauty of simply knowing His presence might spring up and soften your path? 
Please know my hearts welcome to hear you share in this place...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Grace Links {{9•28•14}}

Grace-friends in this place...
With less time in the extra reading category this week, I have fewer links to share with you, but the bits of beauty I have strung together in this one post are of the soul-joy that lined my path along the way this week and caused me to think of you.
May you click, read, and share with me in the deep encouragement that each one brings. 

Such a sweet word of assurance. 
Simultaneously leading our little ones while being led by Abba ourselves!

"In addition to serving coffee and employing people—both of which image forth his work of provision—we also bear God's image in our work through hospitality. "
TGC posted an interview with this couple surrounding their vision and kingdom-mission in the work they do. 
This cafe loving gal wishes it wasn't such a long drive to TX.

Other than the Irish origin of my name, I have very little tie to the country, but you would think I do - the way I love Celtic music and legend.
This beautiful prayer is a delicious taste of the way worship was strung out in heart-stirring words by Celtic style and soul. 

A bold proclaimer of gospel grace quotes a bold proclaimer of God's gospel grace... Not unfamiliar words perhaps, but it's a soul-rocking grace. Rest heart and mind on this. Just soak it in. Check your anchor's hold on this scandalous true thing. 

And closing with what just might be my favorite link this week. 
An absolute feast of glory bright captured on film by the talents of human skill; and yet indescribable; viewed best with eyes of the soul. 
Look at each picture through the lens of death....the glory seen only possible because death works door of new life to unfold. 
Think on your death to self, in grief, in wound, in loss, and the new life unfolding, 
the glory bright only in that process! 

Be struck with glory, feasted full on grace, 
and moved in the power of mercy, Grace-friends.
Monday approaches with the bright of new and full.
And we are held, always-welcomed.

Sabbath Soul Words

For the people who gather
Identified by Christ
Found and finding in Him. 
Regardless of circumstance strong
A truth trumping reality draws...

For the knowing and moving faith. 
The bedrock assurance that 
His ability to give far exceeds 
My ability to receive. 
For the living and being 
Defined by glory big. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Dear Friday {{a day for counting}}9•26•14

Dear Friday...

As your title, mere words, take shape here on my screen, and in closer places, across my heart,
I wonder anew at Abba's faithfulness. 
The God of all comfort who has firmly held my soul and marvelously revealed Himself 
in each of the days which have pounded themselves out since you were last welcomed in this place. 

It's a slow-burning glory when God awakens new light in a soul.
An unfolding to reach up and over, curling shafts of flaming color around the dark variances of a horizon's view.  This dawn of illuminating fire. 
Light penetrating, absorbing, transforming familiar and mundane outlines into the elements of extreme majesty. 
This light shed abroad....always most glorious just before it's full-rise. 
This love so extreme, always most beautiful in it's casting out of a soul's gray shadows.

Do I know the grace I hold? 
Can I really fathom the moving mercy which allows these fingers to type, 
this brain to craft letters into words, 
this soul to pour forth and express {albeit quite brokenly} the steadfast and never-forsaking love that floods each moment of my existence? 
Can I even imagine the glory I regularly taste and worship?
If I could, how would I find words to adequately express and reflect that which has ravished my heart and forever changed my name?

I can't.  There aren't, and yet I type.  
I greet you, Friday with your built-in call to identify, gather, and delight in the myriad treasures that have lined my path, filled my heart, hands, and soul...


~ The gray-puddled day when doors of expectation thudded shut and preparation appeared fruitless in it's effort.  
The day that my whispered prayers over a scrubbing toilet brush brought answers severe in mercy but perfectly matched to my need.  
A day that stripped down and exposed heart layers bare to the healing balm of Abba's gentle dealings.  
Faith built, Steadfast love resounding even as disappointment fell hot and wet from human eyes. 
The grace-sisters that chimed in with compassionate hope, 
the tender holding close of a husband's comforting lead, 
the soothe of Living Word reaching and meeting me with profound courage.  
All a soul-satisfying feast of grace that only the hard of the day could have supplied. 
On that day, I was asked a question of most beautiful rhetorical nature...

~ Recognition of Autumn's sure arrival in spotting two beautiful blue jays clad in their royal hues and busy at work in a nearbye fir tree. 
The profound consistency of the season's rhythms coupled with the never-tiring joy my soul reaps from welcoming each unique exposition of His glory revealed. 
His nature never waning, unchanging, always faithful, full of glory! 

~ The soul-rest reaped in slowing to lean into and feed on scripture with grace-sisters.
Though with individual backgrounds and struggle, finding an unwavering confidence and shared fellowship as the Seal upon our hearts links our minds around His truth together. The Bond of faith guaranteed is rich. 

~ The fun of littles.  Big brothers decked out in adventure gear leading their devoted damsel through the wiles of prairie exploring. 
Her proud report later revealing how their brotherly counsel ignited her first bush-side restroom attempt. 
True to adventure living, the experience was survived with minimal distress and minor exposure and only a slight wardrobe malfunction.
Giggles were fought as I exhorted the usefulness of this experience towards possible African mission trips {and exclusively so}. 

~ Setting out with girlie in tow to fill the empty spaces her Fall and Winter wardrobe held, only to receive lavish provision of sweet and pretty beyond what was needed. 
Helping her to see that she shares the same Beautifying Provider as do the most spectacular flowers in all of creation, and how much more does He care for her soul!!

~A friend's gentle sneak up to leave love on our front stoop, a bounty of fresh garden harvest just because she loves Jesus and He loves through her big. 
Grace undeserved delivered through the hands of my veggie-bearing grace-sister. 

~ Cheers filling the room as six loved ones eagerly bit into cupcakes to reveal.... centers!!!
The Daddy, Momma, big brother and sisters all honoring us to share in precious moments of discovery.... a little boy child, planned in the perfect foreknowledge of Abba, now safely knit together in my dear sister's womb.... anticipated and eagerly awaited by so many who pray now for his salvation and Kingdom-call.
How deep is Abba's love for people that He continues to create and send more of them into this place for us to love, serve and meet with the gospel!!!


"Proof Texts" {an appendix found in the final pages of "Proof" which outlines scripture passages for each of Proof's profound exposition on Calvin's five points.}
I have taken one point each morning this week and meditated slowly through the passages, journaling prayerful response. Not typically a fan of the topical approach, I found this such an affirming avenue of communion with Abba. 

I've been like an excited 7yr old on her birthday who wants to hear again the story of the day she was born, pouring over the pictures and asking for the memories displayed in God's planning, resurrecting, outrageous, overcoming and forever grace to me!
{click image for details}

I mentioned this book last week, and do so again....
Every believer should read this book.

If you aren't a Calvanist {or like I was, aren't quite sure what all that means or entails and have left it to "the theologians" {hint: we're all theologians technically}}, you will be a theologian and quite possibly a Calvanist {but without the tulip} after reading chapter 7, "Living Proof"! 
Don't let my theological jargon lead you to believe that this book is anything but absolutely accessible and fun to read. The kind of fun where your heart gets stirred up with the gospel into a frothy whip of joyful worship. 
This book seriously starts out grand and only intensifies in displaying the intoxicating joy of irresistible grace! 


~The overnight changes as chloroform begins it's trunk-bound journey, leaving behind leaves bright with death's onset. Their hues intensify daily, tree-lines and fields coming alive in color even as creation prepares for it's Winter sleep. 

~ Comfort.  Rich, sweet, always-enough. More than enough and full.
Otherwise unknown except for the hard that makes it's way clear straight to the filling of my heart.

~ The cherry pie that a little golden-haired garden fairy left on our deck table... Her image-bearing so sweet in its nurturing creativity! 


"Take My Hand" by Lindsay McCaul

I have absolutely loved discovering the music of Indelible Grace this week; 
a music ministry which sets the lyrics of the beautiful old hymns to vibrant new tunes.
If you enjoy this song, 
"arise my soul arise"
make sure to check out their other music as well.

Sandra is also a new artist to my playlist.
I love the way this music video portrays a slow-burning sunrise in highlight of the scriptural lyrics she is singing.


Oh I'm almost to burst over sharing this fun with you grace-friends in this place. 
(In)courage has gone live with an amazing new product! Wood. Pressed. Letters.
Wait until you see how they attach in the back giving you complete flexibility in how you display; hang a whole word with two nails, or connect to stand on your mantle/bookshelf.... 
The options are limitless! 
Planning and praying over a word for each child... 
Check it out here: String out words for your eyes and hearts. 

~Family Night. The Friday evenings that fall between our small group meetings have become reserved for intentional family time.The kids spend all of our dinner conversation last night discussing and planning for some cozy relaxation just us five.
I love to put their ideas on paper and then make them happen, adding my own little touches of surprise along the way.


On this:

And this:

And wanting this more than anything!

What about you dear Grace-friend in this place? 
How is the slow-burn of God's glory unfurling it'self across the horizon 
of your life and walk?

How can you identify, gather, and delight in the myriad treasures 
that have lined your path, filled your heart, hands, and soul...

Please type out some words here in this place, 
a comment of testimony to at least one grace you are stewarding today... 

Know my heart's welcome to hear from your's!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Leaning...{Into Big Grace and Gentle Words}

I buried my face in the crisp soft of his cotton dress shirt.
My eyes were leaking the stuff of hard right into that fabric.
The kind of hard that has already become happy and leaks all the heavier.
The way his height and mine match so that my face can bury right beneath his shoulder,
his chin on my head, arms squeezing tight.
This leaning place that will forever be my heart's home on this earth.

He had come straight to me.
Through the back door without stopping to remove his shoes or bag.
Straight to where I was at the counter.
He came to hold and comfort and assure.
To fully know and understand my heart.
To pick up and tend to the pieces of an expectation shattered.
To wrestle alongside me with flat disappointment.
To fight for hope's resuscitation.

His comfort was big and the words gentle.
He was not the first to meet me that way, his tending flowing out of Abba's already-meeting grace.
Where the word and Spirit had been holding, a husband's physical hands and voice followed suit.
There had been another grace too - that of sisters who "sat" in welcoming comprehension without preaching, rather strung together words of hope infused with kindness.

The day had held big effort met with last minute cancellation,
followed by a hard thud of slamming door on possibility strung out.
The old voices of fear, futility, and shame taunted.
Weakness pulled strong in my tired body, mind and soul.

But bigger had been the comfort, and the words gentle.

It was once asked of Job by a friend.

It was asked of me as I poured out my aching disappointment in the middle of that hard day.
On that day where the bright beauty of sun and sky seemed to mock the gray puddle of my heart.
On that day where I pulled in tight to the corner of our couch with my Bible open and read.

Reading and reading, my soul holding tight to His presence with me.
His goodness never failing even in the gray puddle.
His word splayed across my heart, catching the tears
and breathing the life-giving oxygen of hope into my soul's most weary of corners.

When the question hit my eyes.
Words of ink on a paper traveling through the understanding of intellect
to the pounding places of inner heart....
I was undone with comfort.
His comfort of infinite limits and absorbing effectiveness; never too small.
In the face of this bigness, was my aching too small, minuscule...
too much an every-day sort of journey to warrent His attention?

It is in the very smallness of my suffering that His comfort lavishes it's big grace.
The Word, so gentle, it's pervasive comfort cannot fail to reach the smallest of hard corners.
How gently am I dealt with through His Word; the Word which took on this flesh.
To suffer harder disappointment; more gray-puddled days, than I will ever know.
This Word that spoke Himself into the saving of my soul for glory
because He had chosen me before the ages of time.
It's scandalous and outrageous, this grace that floods all corners,
and renews and holds tight.

The smallness of my hard day met with a comfort so big and safe.
He does not call it small.
The silly of my tears was received with Words so gentle.
He does not call them silly.

Kindness and Love Immeasurable once appeared in flesh, always appearing in Spirit-surround.
Washing, renewing, pouring out generously; a once justified, motion of glory-growth in me.
Calling me Heiress of Hope; His heiress of hope eternal!

Today as I rose, my heart and mind rested, my soul fed richly on His word....
I almost wondered at the happiness of spirit and fun joy that I held.
Disappointment still fresh; that slamming door's thud still ringing in my ear.
But stopping short of wondering at, I embraced this grace of His big comfort
and gentle dealings boldly.
Wonder at them, I will not.  They are unchanging and ever-present.
Revel in them, I will, and with a confidence unwavering.

Just as I had leaned into those muscular, crisp cotton-clad arms last night,
my soul leans into arms everlasting.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sunday Link-Up {9•21•14}

A bunting of grace and beauty bits gathered throughout this week and
strung up in a bunting for you to enjoy... Happy Sunday afternoon!

The Library...
 with its endless rows of books, quiet hush, aged-paper aromas, and secluded reading nooks; 
one of my favorite places on earth. 
any library.  anywhere. 
To walk in, pull out a classic, read a few well-known lines just because; 
just to greet those favorite words like old friends in this place of many words-
these are the obsessions of a book-lover. 


Are you a chaser of the light? 
Does it call you like it calls me? run barefoot out the front door onto cold bricks,
pj-clad and ready to capture those unfurling rays as they creep over and onto all in their path. Morning overtaking night, quietly powerful!!
There is a soul thing that happens, a glory tasting,
when one chases the light, as the words and photos in this post beautifully capture. 


I loved this testimony for its simple beauty shed abroad in words and pictures
that give voice to God's resurrecting light shed abroad in the author's heart! 


I will forever appreciate the way my upbringing equipped me with an ability and ease in studying the Bible's original languages.
I know my way around Strong's Concordance like the back of my hand, and value it's benefit,
but as a "recovering study legalist", I'm loving- absolutely loving-the freedom to study and receive the Spirit's use of the Word independent of, and sometimes inclusive of, Greek and Hebrew study. 


A mug of hot steaming, soul-warming, heart-goodness from my favorite barista,
Bonnie Gray over on her blog where she regularly serves up
"faith shots" and "soul mochas" of the best sort. 
I needed her insight, her directive to make my own {I choose} list.
It fed me on clarity and peace. 
Perhaps you will too... 

And because I cannot get enough of the wisdom flowing from...

Check this out:
"I knew the request was unrealistic. My brain cued all the right signals for my mouth to say no. But somewhere between the sinking feeling in my heart of how this would affect my relationship with this person and the pressure of her expectations for me to agree to her request, I blurted out, “Yes, of course!”
I said yes when I absolutely, positively knew I should say no!"Lysa Terkeurst isn't the only one who has experienced this struggle to protect our best yes...
Read the full article for 10 helpful ways to say No when you feel pressured to say Yes. 
Steve and I talk regularly about a shared dream to participate in a church plant.
I do not know if God will one day give us to walk in that particular path, 
but I eagerly swallow up the writings of Christine Hoover, author of several books including,
as well as her blog, "Grace Covers Me".
Her post here recounting God's faithfulness
only fuels my desire and prayer 

for God's multiplying work to run beyond borders with Steve and I!

She said this:
"I have this crazy idea that if the Church—the Body of Christ—could figure this out and stop building walls and holding grudges and let the world see a new kind of extravagant love, we might actually be able to speak truth to power and let God set a table of grace, even in the presence of those who see things differently than we do. 

Sabbath Soul Words {{9•21•14}}

For when the people gather, 
Pulling in tight to be as one. 
They will lift their hands, 
Their voices and hearts. 

From their happy and hard
They come to be filled. 
Filled with the only food worth buying. 
It comes to them free, 
Paid for in advance by His blood.

He meets them there,
in their gathering, 
As He faithfully has done,
and always will do.
His Spirit alive in His Word.
He heals, convicts, and restores. 
He guides, draws, and comforts. 

They who meet with Him,
In true community worship will leave, 
As they always leave, 
Filled up on joy and peace.
The true kind.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dear Friday{{a day for counting}}9•19•14

Dear Friday.

You come rushing in like a steam engine with your beacon-light streaming through the fog of this rushing-full week.
We have pressed on and leaned in on grace full-weight this week.
There have been extra demands at the office, head cold symptoms to interrupt our sleeps, the rolling waves of excitement and fear that slow-looming possibilities can ignite.
There has been the expectations and needs of loved ones to meet or entrust to Another, 

{and the courage to discern that difference.}
There is the ministry-joy before us this weekend, placing required preparation upon our hands. 

We have leaned in hard, praying often, planting His promises before our eyes, talking and listening, helping and hugging, looking and considering His ways, 
His pefection on the horizon in perfect time.

So I meet you, Friday, a midst all of the messy beautiful that you culminate; 
I meet you held, and sustained, and always-welcomed, and pefectly approved,
and steadfastly loved by Abba. 
I meet you from the arms of grace, eager for what you bring, and the chance to count it all up: 


~ The gray-gold of Monday morning spent in sweet spiritual white space at an old farm-house-turned-cafe.  

Meandering with Abba through the truths of Habakkuk that He delighted to share with me. Cultivating my unbroken companionship with Him through rich unstructured lingering. Receiving His truth, marking it plainly upon my heart, taking it with me for the road of the week that was to follow...

~ The delight of grace-sisters circling once again after Summer's long break. 

The Bread of Life before us, the Spirit within us enabling speaking and listening and linking of hearts in the glory of His grace. 

~ My little sister {by birth}.  
Her gentle eyes framed behind long strands of gold pale with beauty.
Her genuine and unhindered love flowing out. 

Her wisdom beyond years listening to my heart 16 years ahead of her's and receiving me unconditionally. 
Her humbling trust given in me as she returned a sharing from the soul. Hearts were refreshed and filled.
"There is an undeniable healing power in telling the truth to someone who validates you by simply listening -  honor obliterates shame's power."

~Jo Ann Fore in "When a Woman Finds Her Voice"

~ The day possibility loomed big but then disappeared only to reappear in stronger force days later.  
The silence that has followed. 
The way our hearts have been exposed bare under the roller coaster's climbs and plunges. The way this bare has been so very cleansing and good. 
The call to wait in the slow, to keep our eyes to His work, for His timing is perfect; 
His ways past finding out.

~ The Pastor when he said, "There is no part of me that God does not claim for Himself, else I would keep an area of death, for He is Life and Light." The prayer He challenged from Ps86:11.
"Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I might fear your name."
The way I prayed in response and can clearly see God's hand of answer all over the past 5 days.


~Haggai where Abba is teaching me the priority and practice of His Presence.
Before all of the busy doing, the homemaking and mothering, the hospitality and ministry.  

Before the serving, the accomplishing, the going, the giving and pouring-out...
There is the being, the simple communion in resting of my soul upon His Word.
The sure-footing through His Spirit in His steadfast love and grace;
His constant presence with me. 

~ "Proof - finding freedom through the intoxicating joy of irresistible grace" 
by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones.
This book is rich with the gospel teaching that we all need on repeat; 
a lavishing of grace that frees us from the tyranny of performance 
and enables our pursuit of holiness in power. 
I am loving the acronym Montgomery and Jones use:
P.  Planned Grace
R. Resurrecting Grace
O. Outrageous Grace
O. Overcoming Grace
F.  Forever Grace
Definitely put this title on your reading list:

~ Reviewing the "I Choose" list that I compiled earlier this week in response to a challenge issued by one of my favorite bloggers.  

{I will include her full post in my upcoming Sunday Link-Up post.} 
The exercise was valuable and has proven a great place for frequent review in the anchoring of my hope. 


~ Beautiful new candle. 

"Woodside Library" by Glade. The name alone grabbed my book loving self, and the musky scents of leather and oak have been wafting around this kitchen since.

~ And This: A sweet grace-sister's dreams unfolding. God's pleasure over this beginning. 

~ Beautiful sunsets.  

There is something about the changing of the seasons, both literally and figuratively, that have grabbed my soul to soak in the glory that streams in and around this house.
Full story here on the blog yesterday....

~ The fun creativity I get to expend in baking this for the 13 who will make their way here this evening.  As the sun sets, we will fill our mugs with coffee and circle up to study and discussion about gospel-community, of which the learning and being will happen in one grace-empowered motion. We love our sweet little group! 


{Choosing the soundtrack for this week has been important, 

often the lyrics rescuing and reminding towards the holding of my soul's rest.}

"You Are Greater" by Brad and Rebekah

"Jesus, I Am Resting" by Tricia Brock

"Psalm 23" by Holly Starr

"You Are My Shepherd" by Tricia Brock 


~ At my Favorite's suggestion, I've had fun gathering inspiration towards a future room that we're calling  
"Our Studio".... 

We are envisioning a warm and inviting room of retreat.
A place for reading, writing, study, painting, and through other forms of creativity, 

simply becoming who He is making us to be.

~ A long sleep in with my loves this Saturday.  Blueberry French Toast with all the trimmings.
Letting and watching the family day unfold together...


On this:

And this:

And holding tight to this still: 

What about you, dear reader in this place?

Where does Friday find you counting and stewarding and chasing down 
the joy richly provided even in the wake of a hard week? 

Take a moment to share even one thing remembered, savored, planned, read or heard?

I promise joy follows big in the tracks of a counting-up even the smallest graces!