perfect, broken day

I sat in the sunshine and stared off into the deeply blue sky…breathed in the freshness of fall…and thought,

Somewhere, someone’s world is falling apart.

On this beautiful, picture perfect autumn day. This day when I long to be outdoors, away from artificial light, away from deadlines, emails waiting to be answered, work needing to get finished. I sat and let my heart breath autumn. But the thought persisted…

Somewhere, on this beautiful, perfect day, someone’s world is falling apart.

Death…a young girl waiting to die, broken…families falling apart, hurt…kids living in desperation, devastation…earthquakes that leveled lives, war…men who hate and kill..and even His people who have chosen to do business with the world…people who love darkness instead of light.

All over the world, on this, my perfect day, the world is falling apart.

And my heart couldn’t take it anymore. I closed my eyes and poured out my soul to the only One who can put it all back right again.

I asked for healing, I asked for peace, I asked for life. I asked for hearts of stone to be turned to hearts of flesh. I asked for courage for myself to always live the life that isn’t safe, so that I may be the light in this dark world that is falling apart.

I prayed for Truth to not be silent. I prayed for those who claim Christ to proclaim Christ, not just in word on Sunday mornings but in the dirt and cracks of the other days too. I prayed for love to speak louder than hate. I prayed the light for those who live in darkness.

On this perfect day with deeper skies of blue than I have ever seen…

Somewhere, someone’s world is falling apart. Our broken world is falling apart and we don’t even know.

And I prayed God’s grace in the midst of all the rubble, all the destruction, in all the hurt and broken places.  And on my perfect day, this broken day, I prayed God’s light would cut through the dark, through the hurt, through the pain. I asked for clarity in the confusion. I asked for broken to be made whole again.

the best of me

Five years ago I went to sleep, knowing that I had seen your face for the last time this side of heaven. I said good bye and walked away wondering if you had heard me at all. All the years we had washed over me and I knew we hadn’t had enough.

And when you left, I thought that you had taken the best part of me with you. I wondered if I would ever have anything left to give. My heart went cold and I walked through a darker world just trying to dull the pain.

Now, I look around and see my life and realize just how deeply your left your mark on me.

Scrolling through the filmstrip of our friendship, I smile remembering: the crazy midnight ride to the Gulf, the Rocky Mountains that we climbed together, seeing the Pacific for the first time after sleeping in the desert, fireworks on the bay in Seattle, snowstorms in July, camping in October, sand dunes and blue water, music and mustangs, and all the while I never knew that all those moments were carving your name into my soul.

I still love hiking boots and conquering mountains, and I still prefer paper road maps to fancy technology. I still believe the world is full of places worth exploring and they are better found with friends. I still believe God does miracles and is involved in every breath I take. I still believe He answers prayers, even when the answer is hard to hear. I still believe He guides my steps, even when He takes my feet somewhere I would never go myself.

But here in the stillness of the morning, I remember waking up five years ago and knowing you were gone. It still doesn’t seem real, and maybe I have found my new normal without you, but I know, it will never really be normal again. There is a space that aches without you and a void that will never be full. But there’s a bigger space that you still own.

And I thought for so long after you’d gone, that the best of me had left with you. But now I see just how much you’ve left your mark on me. You didn’t take, you always gave,, and you shaped me into who I am today. I think maybe I’m a little more adventurous, a little more fun. You taught me to love a little more deeply, laugh a little bit louder. You showed me how to be kinder, gentler, wiser. You showed me what can happen when you let go and face the world with both arms open wide.

I love you always. And JOY still comes in the morning.

Libby Bigham Apel: May 16, 1969-September 21, 2009.

in this place

Maybe its just me getting old and trying to hold on to some shred of an idea that there is still youth left in me. Or maybe it’s just me being sentimental beyond belief. Maybe I just have too many romantic and nostalgic notions, or maybe I just live in the past too much.

But when I am here, in this place, surrounded by people who have known me since my youth, people who shared moments with me that shaped the heart of who I am, I can’t help but feel that much closer to the person I sometimes think I have forgotten how to be.

Here, in this place,  where the smells are all rain, pine, and clean air…here where all the sounds I hear at night are the cicadas and the crickets singing their night song…here where the stars reach down and touch the face of the water…here in the place where I grew up, my home away from home.

On this mountain God is real and on this mountain, God is near. I hear His voice whisper through the breeze at night, and I see His face on the smiles of the little ones too excited to sleep because they couldn’t wait to get here, just like I couldn’t wait to get here. I talk to God with every step I take on this holy mountain because I would swear this place is His temple.

I walk by places and some have changed, some are new, and some, ageless, remain the same. Each hill, each tree, each structure has a memory, and I know this place like I know my own hand. Yet, every time I am here, I see new beauty, I hear new words from God, and I leave longing for the next time I will be here. It’s all still the same as it was years ago, when each arrival brought the promise of new adventure and new friends and each departure held new memories and sadness over the leaving.

When I look back to what made me who I am today, it wasn’t the people I saw every day, it wasn’t the things I did at home, nor was it what I learned in school. What shaped me into me, were the people that I spent each summer with, those who taught me how to love with abandon, to trust even when it hurt, and to believe the best in others because they believed the best in me. The things that I learned here, like what God really did require of me, what heaven really meant, and that faith really is that simple have taken me farther than any equation in algebra or sentence diagram ever had a hope of doing.

So maybe I am just getting old or maybe I am just a sentimental, but either way, as I drive away from this place, my heart is sad to leave, but rejoices with the new things learned, new people loved, and the possibility that it won’t be too long until I see this mountain again.

 

missing Jesus in between

I feel like I missed Jesus this Easter. Oh sure, I went to three Easter services, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and 10 a.m Easter on Sunday. That’s not what I mean. I mean I missed preparing for Holy Week. It just all washed by in blur of busy and now here I am on Easter Sunday Night thinking how grateful I am that He doesn’t keep a record of my failings. 

 

IMG_0276-2At the beginning of the week I did get to spend four days in the US Virgin Islands. There were plenty of tourists to go round, but at early morning and sunset, I found I largely had the place to myself. It was in those quiet hours that I found my heart beating for something more...more than the frantic pace of my daily life, more than the over crowded schedule (that I had left behind), more than the list of obligations I could not see my way around.

For a full twenty four hours I was alone on that island (my friend had gone home a day early) and in those moments, disconnected from my world that demands so much, I looked for Him and He showed Himself. In the sunset, in the sunrise, in the breeze, and in the quiet, In the blues, the reds, the pinks. For truly all of creation proclaims His deeds.
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IMG_0179-2In that short space of time, those few moments that I slowed down enough to find Him waiting there, I realized I had been missing Jesus in between everything else that I thought was more important. I prepared for His advent four months ago, but I had lost sight of His life, of His life in mine. I don’t want to miss Easter again. I want to always find Him in the middle of it all, and to be in the middle of my everything.

He was wounded for our rebellious acts.
    He was crushed for our sins.
        He was punished so that we could have peace,
            and we received healing from his wounds.” Isaiah 53:5, Gods WORD Translation

 

Celebrating the Savior! Merry Christmas

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The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.~Psalm 19:1-2

 

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
 Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. ~Isaiah 9:6-7 

MERRY CHRISTMAS.

CELEBRATE THE SAVIOR NOT JUST THIS DAY, BUT ALL YEAR LONG!

 

Celebrating the Savior–Day Twenty Three of Advent (Catching up)

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Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.~John 6:35

What better way to celebrate the Savior than to partake in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. It is all tied together. His birth so that through His death we might find everlasting life.

The bread and the water, the water turned to wine. His body broken, His body poured out for us.

Christmas is about remembering that because of Him, we are saved. As the pastor said last night, Christmas and Easter are the same thing, we can’t have one without the other.

He came to die, He came to set us free, He came to save us.

Celebrating the Savior….

Celebrating the Savior–Day Twenty-two of Advent (Catching up)

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On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”~John 7:37-38

A person can go a couple of months without food or much food…but without water, not more than a few days. Water is necessary for life.

Years ago when I used to drive across country from the east coast headed to Colorado, I had to drive across Kansas. The longest 8 years of my life…Kansas is flat and there is not a lot of interesting scenery to look at, unless you happen to drive through during sunflower season. That’s pretty cool.

There are many places in Kansas where, in the summer, everything is brown. Dead and brown, but, driving along those open, flat spaces you where you can see forever, you can often find a snaking ribbon of green cutting through the barren plains. This is where the water is. A small creek running through the parched land can support an abundant wealth of trees, shrubs and grasses. Where the water is, there is life.

Jesus said He is the living water and that if anyone believes in Him and drinks from Him, that person will have rivers of living water.

Think about this and imagine Kansas. Flat, brown, dead, dying, wasteland. That’s us before Jesus. Now, enter the Savior, the Messiah, the one they call Jesus, the Living Water. When we come into a personal relationship with Him, we are like that green ribbon of life winding through the barrenness. The contrast is unbelievable. Where we were once dead and lifeless, now springs life and hope. 

And WE are that living water now, we have the words of Life, we are like that river, that river that has its end and beginning in Him, the Messiah Savior. The one we are celebrating.