the magic of words

Something happens to me after midnight. The hands on the clock line up & in that single magical moment, emotions & minutes just as suddenly become clear & words flood through my mind. My fingers itch for a  pen or more often these days, a key board.

Today was the March for Life, probably the 20th march I’ve been a participant in, but my first in the Capital. But I’ll not write about that now.

Right now I want to write about my planner. Yes yes, we live in the information/electronic age but I’ve not yet caught up to it, frankly I hope not to. Each year I purchase a paper planner within the first seven days of the new year. A few years back I settled into a rhythm of loving the Moleskin planner, (thank you Matt Lockett for the White People Love link, it’s true) but this year I couldn’t find one. Surprisingly in my search for a second best I struck gold.

Ok maybe you won’t care but I found the 2011 Songbird’s planner. Each week contains a picture of a different songbird. It’s beautiful, its prophetic, it’s animals….. I’m happy 🙂 Tucked away inside the front cover is about 15 pages of mostly useless, random information though, most of which has found itself torn out & happily residing in my recycling bin BUT…. some of it is strangely helpful such as the “Useful Foreign Phrases” page.

So to all of my Japanese readers “Watashi wa rikai shi te i nai” and to my french subscribers “Bonjour!”

Ok that was really just for Annie.

What’s really on my mind tonight is the idea that little changes are the hardest to reconcile & to move past. For example; tonight my sister was reading The Singer. I know because she kept tweeting quotes & I have most of the book written on my heart. This only bothered me because…. we read this book together. Correction, I read this book out loud to her, usually when she has a migraine or during our many Emergency Room Adventures.

The fact that she was reading the book is good, because it is a sure-fire way to stir up the heart of a Styles. But her reading it without me there? Well that hurts. And it stirs up a plethora of memories, because we don’t just read The Singer out loud, I read everything fantastic out loud to her. This list ranges from Miller’s books, the Chronicles of Narnia to excerpts from The Man who was Thursday. I read & get my dramatic out & she listens & gets the books in. So in a minute I was stepping though memories of hundreds of nights, different situations of us reading together.

It’s just what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. But this little life change, the moving half way across the country? Well it changes everything, instantly. I’m not there to read good books out loud to Kat at night & I’m not going to be. And even though everything changed the moment I stepped on the plane, it’s going to take a long time to fully adjust to those changes. I can even feel confident in saying that I won’t hardly have begun to adjust by the time she get’s married & we’ll start the process all over again.

While reading a tear-stained txt from her about missing me while reading that book today, my eyes flooded with tears & my soul whispered “remember”. And I gave that moment back to the Lord.

Everytime it costs to follow You, count it as my worship.

I will continue to set my heart to give every single costly minute, every single costly emotion back to the Lord & ask for Him to write it in His book as done out of a heart of love.

Someday that process might be easier, but maybe not. Since someday hasn’t come yet I really don’t know. But I’m determined to offer my body as a living sacrifice. It is my spiritual act of worship. It is my practical act of worship. The practical side now is calling my mind & heart to remember, & to do it for the glory of God. The spiritual side now is that He actually counts it when I don’t yet believe.

Nearer… nearer…

January 8th. 7 1/2 hours until my plane leaves Kansas City. It’s a day that I knew would come but never could see. And still I can’t see it. My heart feels breathless, trembling with thousands of emotions as one standing on the edge of a cliff, the view blocked by clouds, wishing for a hand to hold and unsure of what lies beneath yet unable to keep my feet from creeping nearer…nearer.

In my ears is an album inspired by Aslan’s singing the world into being, & heavenly voices sing “Be still my soul the Lord is on your side…”  my mind whispers an agreement to my ever pounding heart “be still, be still, be still”.

Tonight I watched my sister glowing with love & joy at her engagement party, surrounded by so many rejoicing at the season before her & wondered how in the world it has happened that I could walk away & not be apart of it. But I know the Lord has thoughts I can’t imagine, plans I couldn’t dream of. Five, maybe six times today I burst into tears in different parts of the Compound while getting ready for the party, wondering how daily life can happen without the Bohlenders. They have been to me a family, a home, Shepherds, counselors, friends, & I have found more healing in two years of late nights around their kitchen table than I ever thought possible for my broken weary heart.

Tonight I visited the Nightwatch & couldn’t help but crack up laughing as I walked through the door, remembering. Remembering weeping through my internship in that nearly empty room, remembering the year & a half following of pouring out my heart in those chairs, singing out my soul on that stage, in those side rooms, in the night. Ten minutes later I’d hugged my faithful friends who remain steady; cried on Kyle’s shoulder, ever thankful for his wisdom & the kindred heart that beats inside his chest, cried on Jacob’s jacket as a lifetime of late night talks raced through my brain & cried again when Audra came off the stage to kiss my cheek. Oh how I love the family I’ve been blessed with in this city.

Tonight I placed my books in a box. Took the last pictures from the walls, but left the stars across the ceiling. Every room I’ve ever lived in has been left glowing with stars. Looking around it is no longer my own.

In every change, God faithful will remain

Over the last few weeks many have looked excitedly into my eyes & declared “you’re really going & the Lord is giving you the desires of your heart!”. And yes I’m excited, yes I am going, but can’t help but chuckle inside at the smallness in that idea. Fredericksburg & DC are not the desires of my heart.  From behind my eyes  it is as though the Lord has opened a door before me, a gentle invitation to take Him by the hand & though my heart may tremble, to step through & see what He might do. There comes a point when love-strings bid us follow & though fearful we find ourselves unable to deny their gentle call.

He never forces us to come. And at the same time love is a violent force, ever driving.  When the revelation came that my puppy would not be coming on this move I picked up my guitar & wept, knowing that my Friend knew the pain of my heart in leaving her behind, that He wouldn’t chastise me for the tears, & that He was worthy of them.

He’s worth of every price we’re asked to pay; the tiny and the most painful . The leaving of home, the comfort of familiarity, the years spent mining the hearts of my friends unto striking communion… only to leave. The leaving of family, my dear, beloved sister & best friend. The teens I’ve given my heart to, the ones who’ve becoming sisters & brothers.  No one is surprised by my abundance of tears, I’ll make no apologies for them, but I am surprised at the joy budding in my heart as I shed them.  He’s worthy of the costly offerings, & what costs me might not cost you, but if it’s of value in my heart then He treasures it. And so it becomes worship as I gladly offer them to Him. So I gladly offer them Jesus.

The desire of my heart; that Jesus would find faith… find friends on the earth. That broken hearts would be found bound, imprisoned hearts be found free, lame hearts be found leaping, dead hearts be found beating, all for the love of Christ. The desire of my heart is that the youth of the Nations would see Him, & that they would love Him.

There are no words to describe the thankfulness in my heart for the last five years at IHOP, the treasures He has given in the dear friends who have come and gone, the last 4 years of living daily life with my sister.

In a few short hours my favorite, my brother Nathan will hug me until I can’t breathe, make fun of my cane & cry when I walk away. I will kiss my Daddy’s cheek, squeeze his neck longer than he’d like,  cry on my mothers shoulder and hold my sister’s hand until we walk up to the gate where most likely I’ll weep in her arms. She’ll miss me more than all my friends combined. And when I step off Jeremy will be there to give my heart the strength to walk into whatever is waiting on the East Coast.

DC? A door that I must step through, simply leading to another door. When that door will open and where it will lead I haven’t the slightest clue, but my heart is set to follow the Lamb wherever, whenever He goes. 4.50 am. Breathless my feet draw nearer… nearer… “but the view from the top of the cliff is not as exhilarating as the free fall.”

Be still my soul, the hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief & fear are gone, sorrows forgot, loves purest joys restored. Be still my soul, when change & tears are past, all safe & blessed we shall meet at last.

Like a Lake

Why post lyrics? Because I think in song. Welcome to the tunes frolicking through my brain.

Sara Groves – Like a Lake

so much hurt and preservation
like a tendril round my soul
so much painful information
no clear way on how to hold it

when everything in me is tightening
curling in around this ache
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

standing at this waters edge
looking in at God’s own heart
I’ve no idea where to begin
to swallow up the way things are

everything in me is drawing in
closing in around this pain
I will lay my heart wide open
like the surface of a lake
wide open like a lake

bring the wind and bring the thunder
bring the rain till I am tried
when it’s over bring me stillness
let my face reflect the sky
and all the grace and all the wonder
of a peace that I can’t fake
wide open like a lake

7.30 comes too soon

Katrina was two years old when I was born and she hated me.

Sounds like a bad beginning to a sad story but it worked out alright on my end, I grew in the dirt under open skies and the watchful eyes of my brother Jeremy and the neighborhood boys. Jeremy made me everyone’s little sister, a position I carried well. Bloody knees, bruised elbows, more hair than body (and it was always a mess), I had a will to match their boyish zeal for adventure and the few years they all had on me, and no matter how much I slowed them down he always brought me along. He was my hero.

From the start we were that close and it took me years to realize how rare our friendship was. He was my teacher, my instigator, my champion and friend, my brother and father to my absent daddy. Always pushing me further, always calling me higher. Blue eyes blazing with passion he always dared me to fly, and in his eyes I did. No really, in my dreams I never fly but I always fly in his. He gave me gasoline when I longed to burn. Poured it on and kept pouring, giving all he had to fuel the flickering desire for God. Teaching me of dreams, hearing and sight. Late nights talking, drinking from each other’s souls, gleaning from the revelation growing inside, weeping and longing, seeking and finding. Jeremy taught me that there were no limits and I gave all myself to be free.

During our internship we would tag-team pray over people, and there has never been another person that I see in the Spirit so clearly with. J and I breathe emotion. He’s fire on the inside. Confident where I was afraid and sure in my insecurities. Bursting with excitement for whatever has hooked his attention, and he gives all of himself to that thing. And he’s a nerd. Full on.

Our childhood was made of storybooks, or maybe I should say that books should be written about our childhood? Long summers running in fields, trekking to the swimming pool, making a tree house out of the bare roots of an old tree and a hillside. Scheming and playing on the top-level of a metal rocket ship at the play ground. Taking animal parades and walking the dog, bunnies and pet goose ….. all at once. Selling Kool-aide on the corner. And pestering the heck out of my sister. Katrina and I would get into long fights ALL THE TIME, and Jeremy would record them on his tape recorder, narrating the situation and who did what, then filling in the gaps with advertisements of random things he would make up or musical interludes of him playing the piano. And yes he did play them for my mom. And yes I did stage some of the fights for his cassette tapes.

J would save all of his junk, and sell them to us at his ‘Only this afternoon for an hour’ sales. And we would buy it. He could convince us to do anything.

Moving to Iowa burst open his dreamers heart. We would spend our days tramping through fields, J with a bb gun to shoot squirrels and I with a kitten in my pocket. We’d lay in the long warm grass and watch the clouds, dreaming big dreams and believe it or not he is as much of a romantic, dramatic dreamer as I am.

He first came to Kansas City during one of the most difficult seasons of my life, and I was desperate for his counsel and friendship. My nightwatch friends will understand when I say that I was one of those crazy family members who for the life of me could not remember that he SLEPT until two pm! At least twice a week I would call at noon while leaving work, and when he didn’t answer, would proceed to call his apartment phone. *God bless Nick Beaver and Trey Roach for never hurting me for those early phone calls* And he always took my calls. He would call me some nights, real late (or early) and though I almost never understood what the heck he was talking about I knew that he was burning in a way that I’d never seen, and I wanted in.

Thank you Jesus for IHOP-KC. He was my champion even during his track 1 of FITN. I’d visit and he’d keep me awake in the prayer room all night, take me to his briefings for Joanna’s worship team, and talk me through all the emotional tornado’s that I had. That’s when I met CJ. He was the “other Jeremy”, from Nebraska and talked like he’d smoked for 80 years. We hit it off right away.

Sometimes I forget that CJ was not always apart of our lives, that 4 years of history is REALLY not that much time, he was just one of us from the start. Poor CJ walked me through so much healing, and so much of the overflow of my brokeness and inability to trust. Often surprised at the intensity he was never overwhelmed by my outbursts and gently guided me through my track 1, letting me weep on his couch and wash my clothes in his basement. And together we prayed J back to KC.

Doing track two together was unbelievable. J & I were hardly apart much to my roommates annoyance,  and that time forged a deeper bond between us. It’s hard to not grow closer when you’re changing so much together. We shared a car, secrets, revelation, food, laugher and tears, and I did his laundry with mine once a week in CJ’s basement. And we shared lots of laughter about the time my superman boy shorts got left in the dryer. In CJ’s basement. That jerk still call’s me superman.

We moved here together, grew closer, grew apart, grew angry and became friends again. And we prayed Katrina here. Unbelievable gifts from the Lord.

I knew I liked Jen the first time I walked into the cafeteria at 6.45 in the morning and heard her playing the piano. With the lights off. We got along well, spent some time together, had coffee and took walks. One summer morning I left the prayer room, the birds were singing and it was gently raining one of those glorious, warm summer rains. And NO ONE would walk with me in it. But I waited until 7 when she got done playing and her eyes sparked when I asked her to walk in the rain with me. We walked Terrace Lakes over and back about 4 times that morning. In the rain. I ruined my cell phone and I found a life long friend.

I lost Jeremy when he fell in love with Jen. It was the day she fell off his roof. What were they doing on the roof? Alone? Oh you know, watching the stars…. the boy who’d once told me I was NEVER allowed to stare at the stars with boys was alone on his roof, with Jen. We’d known for awhile that he liked her, but the fear of her fall did something inside of him that I can’t explain and he was a mess for days. And I was angry. My “brothers” all tried to help, everyone gently would say “it was going to happen someday” but honestly had never thought that it would. Never had it entered my mind that we would not be heart friends, and never did I think that another woman would come between us. She moved in with Kat & I a few months later. It was hard to stay angry when I liked her so much. It was the gift of God to us that she lived with us.

They were married last May. I can hardly believe it. He wept when he saw her and she held her head high and the heavens poured down on that tiny glass chapel. Nathan and Kat cried through the whole ceremony but my face hurt from smiling so big. I watched him be a man that day, and gladly received my sister.

Tonight they had dinner with us. Dad drove in from Iowa and mom had been here since Kat’s ER scare. Through hours of food, games, tim tam slams, laughter and stories I watched them. CJ was married this last year as well and I’ve hardly seen him but he came for some hours and I loved that he was here. It was fitting to have him with my family on this night.  He and Jeremy sat side by side subject hopping, Jeremy instructing him on the game, CJ talking about Christina and their dogs and working with FITN, Jeremy randomly leaning across the table to kiss Jen’s forehead.

Tomorrow morning they move to Fredericksburg. There was a time 3 years ago when Jeremy left for 2 months of Jury duty and I was terrified. So much was happening inside and outside of me and he was my stability. I had no idea how to be me without him. That time I knew he was coming back. But here we are. There is no going back, no slowing down, no pausing. We are ever-moving forward toward the one thing that drives us, filling our nights with dreams and our days with hunger, the return of Christ Jesus, and goodbye is too formal for my ears. Holy Spirit has reminded me over and over and over again throughout this week, “you’re going to live forever” and it fills my heart with hope.

How do the lost ever say goodbye? We are those who have been set free from death and the kingdom of darkness, and we are never going to die. “Life is a vapor fading fast, just one more moment it will pass but it will be remembered like a dream in the night”. Just a dream, slightly faded, trying hard to reach onto and grab hold of the details, but still just a dream, and we are going to live forever. Forever. Growing in love and friendship with Jesus, growing in love and friendship with one another. And no ‘goodbye’ is final.

Early tomorrow morning I will squeeze my sister, mix our tears and kiss her cheek, and will hug him like I’m never letting go. The way I always have. But I’m going to let go. I’ll cry when they leave, probably cry throughout the day, and cry when I go to bed. But tomorrow I will go to bed unlike the rest of this week as I have fought sleep in an effort to fight their leaving. Tomorrow I’ll also make a pot of french press, watch Cohen for an hour, do some laundry and cleaning and go to the Awakening. Life will go on and I will enjoy it because we are still moving forward and all for the same goal: We miss you Jesus, and we want you to come back.

And I’m so thankful for you Jeremy.

Sound Conversions

Doing a little internet reading on the life of David Brainerd. This young man lived the life that I dreamed as a child; he burned a bright flame and was taken to be with the Lord while in his early youth.

Take a look at this excerpt from his diary:

Lord’s Day, December 29 …After public worship was over, I went to my house, proposing to preach again after a short season of intermission. But they soon came in one after another; with tears in their eyes, to know, “what they should do to be saved…” It was an amazing season of power among them, and seemed as if God had “bowed the heavens and come down…” and that God was about to convert the whole world.

My young eyes have seen similar hunger for freedom in the eyes of natives in other countries, but the difference is that I have never preached the true gospel to the lost.  The gospel I preached at 16, 17 & 18 was a mere repeating of man’s attempt to prepackage, water down and hand back the gospel of Jesus Christ. It pained my soul but more often than not I found it unable to deliver those who were willing, and I cried out for the spirit of God to come with power.

No wonder He sent me to this little house of seeking. Our seeking DOES look different than the Saints of old. Tonight I received a txt from my papa while in the 8pm intercession set. My parents were streaming the prayer room back home and he asked if I was in the room. It’s difficult to explain, but he asked because the room was HOPPING, prayers arising to the beat the drummer was pounding out and couldn’t help but grin as I responded, “Daddy THIS is how the saints of this generation make intercession, to the sound of dirty club beats!”

Brainerd would have turned over in his grave. But the Lord is going to give this generation a burden for souls, a baptism of fire, and the gospel with power in a way that will mirror nae OUT SHINE the revivals of old. We too are being asked to give everything for it to happen, and as we surrender our proud, strong wills,  it will happen.  DO it Lord! Give us the Burden for souls, write the gospel on our hearts, and give us authority to preach it with boldness out of our weak mouths!

100 men

John Wesley called for only 100. One Hundred men, to love only God with all their hearts, and to hate only sin with all of their hearts, “and together” he said, “we will shake the gates of hell and usher in the kingdom of heaven in one generation”.  Only one hundred? Is that all it takes?

That cry has haunted me. God how long has it been since John Wesley asked You for only 100? Is there anyone alive today with the faith for even 100 who would love You with every breath, do I pretend to have such faith?

My surgery went very well and I’ve spent the last few days trying to speed the recovery and have only exhausted myself.  Vertigo & Vicodin are a terrible mix.  SO! I am slowing down, sleeping, eating, and even found myself being carried into the house in the arms of my father after one particularly bad episode.

Tonight I lay in bed, foot propped up on a pillow and wrapped in ice, eyes closed against the room slowly spinning around me as I talked for hours with my dear friend Carole who is home from college for the summer.  We like to talk long, discussing “life stuff”, and have been making plans for doing a little bit of street ministry together over the next few months, and our conversation turned to “100 men”.  I can’t help but wonder God, what would happen if You found just one? What about five, just five who hated, only sin?

What if we could lift our eyes from the circumstances surrounding our days, and set our desire only on the One who is most beautiful among men? May is coming to an end, and I realized that for the last few years I have found myself at the end of spring, longing for Autumn to arrive and be over with. Feeling so overwhelmed with the emotions of my situations that I ached, not just for the current season to be over, but the next one as well.

Tonight I heard myself saying, “I want to think of June this year, I want to think of May 31st! Not just August!” I want to live tomorrow Abba. I want to love you more tomorrow. And what if, in my journey to loving You with each breath,  I wake up one day and find that I have become one of those “100 men” that John Wesley longed for? What if, in my journey to loving You with each breath, I bring many men with me, and they in turn carry me when I am weak?

Today, laid up in bed and slightly crazed on pain medicine, I have a hard time finding  in my chest the faith for a world wide revival, for the salvation of the street children in Romania, for the promise of  “no disease known to man” standing in Kansas City. But I do have the faith to love You with my next breath, and the next. O that when I fall asleep,  even then I would love You when I breathe.  O that You would find in me a heart that loves only You and all that You have made, a heart that hates nothing but sin

strong currents

are rustling the branches that are stripped almost bare on this, the first of December 2007. The Lord told me that this was a year of fullness for me, it seems like only weeks ago, but back in January. And what  a full year it has been.

I’ve been re-stirred as of late, to give myself in a more focused way to ; Colossians 3. 1-3

Therefore, you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right had of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

There are times when something says to calm down, pull back, ‘you’re going a little too far, you’re being a little extreme, your heart is good, but chill out a little bit’. And there are times when something inside of me whispers, ‘there must be more than this….’ I read the stories of those who were found faithful or those who You called Your friends. John the Baptist, Moses, Phineas, Mary of Bethany, not to mention the revivalist, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, so many who touched something that I’ve barely dreamed of, and I long. What does it take to be found faithful, what can I give? A friend gently reminded me the other day that ‘our righteousness is as filthy rags’ we could actually get all of the outward things in order, but still be just as far from Your heart as when we started, no it’s our hearts you are after.

In a dream a week ago, a man with burning eyes looked at me and gently said, “I’ll tell you what you are still missing, what you are still lacking. You still don’t have the fire, you still aren’t burning yet.” When I told the dream to one of my leaders, he looked at me  with tears pooling in his eyes and related to me his desire to go back to the first things. “I’m forgetting what it was that brought me here, I remember when I used to pray, ‘God use me, speak to me, I will listen, I will be faithful, I will obey, wake me up in the night God, I will sit with You and listen to Your heart’ and I’ve been so busy lately with so many good things and so many responsibilities, but I’m thinking, ‘God demote me if You need to, I don’t care, I just have to get back in the Prayer Room, back to remembering why I love you’ I can’t let my heart become dull.”

As usual, I have Misty playing on the back of my computer…

How far will you go to know Me?Loneliness can not be avoided, but I will meet you there.

Earlier she was singing of the parable of the 10 virgins

for when it all come down to getting oil, it all comes down to how I spend my time. So give me grace (that empowering strength) to take the scroll and eat it, cause it’s a matter of life or death. Oh I want to be a friend of the Bridegroom, I want to be a friend of the Judge

I’ve been listening to Allen Hood’s series called The Play-fullness of God, it’s been SUCH a good thing, being moved by the kindness in the heart of our Father, the delight that He has in His children, and to Shelley Hundley’s series The Turn Word, being reminded of why intercession is imperative, why we can not hold back in this hour of history.  Oh Father let us be found faithful, Jesus pour out Your heart to us (Proverbs 1.23) We will turn, we will listen.