I swallowed 24 pills. Half of me hoped 24 is enough. The other half hoped 24 wasn't enough. I told my husband, and he found this bottle, the bottle I bought in 2003 because it was on the list of things you should have in your home when you have a baby. This bottle saved me the the indignity and nastiness of having my stomach pumped and activated charcoal.

I come home, and go back, and come home, and go back - 4 times in 6 weeks, and now it's been 3 weeks that I've been out. Progress.

My rock of support, my mama, leaves on vacation, and we tend Papa's chickens, check the mail, feed the cat and dog, throw balls for the lonely dog. Little things. A schedule. Something that keeps us going.

I think I'm admitting myself to the hospital again this evening. Thoughts of suicide are edging their way back in, and I dream of razor blades, ropes, cars, bags. Going before I hurt myself feels awkward, like maybe I'm just being too fearful of my own thought life. Like wading out in the cold river the first time in spring. I listen to Johnny Cash on the way our outdoor church service this morning, and he sings "Hurt" - a troubled soul covering a song written by a troubled soul - and I nod yes, yes, YES. 

I hurt myself today
to see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
the only thing that's real
the needle tears a hole
the old familiar sting
try to kill it all away
but I remember everything
what have I become?
my sweetest friend
everyone I know
goes away in the end
and you could have it all
my empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt

I wear this crown of thorns
upon my liar's chair
full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair
beneath the stains of time
the feelings disappear
you are someone else
I am still right here

if I could start again
a million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way
~Trent Reznor, Hurt~

Performed here by Johnny Cash:

Things I never noticed

Our "burning bush" - she is first to open her leaves to the sun,
and the sun echoes back in astounding beauty.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, 1910~

Bends in the road. Ah, yes. How frequent they have been these past three years. Cancer.Child on the brink of death. Immersing myself in special needs culture. Food poisoning nearly makes me a widow. We no longer look at the bend in the road, avoiding it as long as possible before going around the corner to discover what trial God has planned for us next.

I've passed it thousands of times, I'm sure. And somehow never spied the yellow barn with the pale yellow tin roof. My soul breaths in the yellow barn, and I am sated, for a few minutes, bathed in unexpected beauty.

Counting, counting, hoping the counting builds me a raft.
Gratitude Journal #661-673:
661. Hummingbirds
662. New porch swing
663. Linda Heil
664. Auntie Rose
665. Anti-inflammatory meds
667. All 4 kids on one t-ball team
668. Ipad = instant happiness for any fussy child
670. Being able to do a kindness for some dear friends.
673. Sorting through thoughts.

Jumping the gun

Any time the temperature tops 60, the kids start asking to go swimming or run through the sprinkler. I gave in a couple of days ago, and let them go for a twilight run through the sprinkler.

It's one of those moments, as a mom, where you give in knowing the kids are probably going to hate it. The desired effect being they will wait until it is much, much warmer before they want to something crazy like this again.

My plan backfired.

"Mama, I'm FWEEZING!"

It was only after dozens of blue-lipped passes through the freezing water that they told me I was right, it's too cold to go in the sprinkler right now.

I think of God's long line of patience with me, how He allows me to do things that aren't best for me, and waits silently for me to come in from the cold so He can wrap me in His arms again.

I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok
I just want to be ok today
I just want to be ok, be ok, be ok
I just want to be ok today

I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today
I just want to feel today, feel today, feel today
I just want to feel something today

Open me up and you will see
I'm a gallery of broken hearts
I'm beyond repair, let me be
And give me back my broken parts

Just give me back my pieces
Just give them back to me please
Just give me back my pieces
And let me hold my broken parts
~ Be OK, Ingrid Michaelson~


Here, my dear

This is where
We'll shake the nightmares free

I dream to hold you in my arms
I dream to hold you in my arms
To hold you in my arms
Wide awake in my arms

I think I figured it out
We need to be together
Like the shore and the sea
We are not one thing
We're drawn here together
My ocean and me

Love we sleep apart
For the last time
For the last time

~Jon Foreman, Hold You in My Arms~

I keep waking up pummeling my husband at the end of a nightmare. Rape. It's a word we don't say out loud very often. Hush, hush! Who wants to admit it happened to them, too?

Rebuilding the house is difficult, draining, stretches me to the end of my perseverance. I celebrate small victories: no self-harm for over 2 weeks now, laughing at a joke with my husband. family sing-alongs around the piano, giving Rosy her piano lessons in spite of the turmoil of my soul.

But this is an eternal house I'm rebuliding. Reeducating my soul is one of those few building projects that will last for all eternity. It's worth the time, the energy, and the perseverance.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:1-5)
I desire character and hope. I want to emerge with more of both. Right now it feels like tug-of-war with evil every day and every night. Through the flashbacks and the nightmares, I know my soul is processing memories that are too big to simply think about. Looking forward, I may need medication for a long times...years even. God didn't give me stubbornness for no reason. I'm digging my heels in. This enemy is gaining not an inch from me anymore. My commander is the Lord of the Universe, my infantry Christians who stand shoulder to shoulder, shields in front and helmets on tight, swords held high (Ephesians 6:10-20).

This verse is a sharp thrust right in the gut, the sucker-punch that you don't see coming. The reminder that God is not happy-clappy - He has big things in mind, and you are part of them. Build with the right materials and your life will make a lasting, eternal impact.
....each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. (ICorinthians 3:10-17)

don’t give up tonight
I know you’re going through the valley, 
but you’re gonna make it out alright
Hey, tell your troubles goodbye
Go on and leave it in the valley,
leave it in the valley tonight

So you think He don’t know what He’s doing
You think He ain’t by your side
Well, God knows when you’re broken
And He’s loving you, He’s holding you so, so tight

So let the rain fall
He’ll be standing there getting wet with you
You might get cold but you won’t be there alone

And when you’re hanging by a thread hold on
You know the darkest part is right before the dawn
So when your fear has worn you out
Feels like the sky is on the ground
He ain’t gonna let you down
He’ll never let you down

In a perfect world

I stand accused
There's a list a mile long
Of all my sins
Of everything that I've done wrong
I'm so ashamed
There's nowhere left for me to hide
This is the day
I must answer for my life

My fate is in the Judge's hands
But then He turns to me and says

I know you
I love you
I gave My life to save you
Love paid the price for mercy
My verdict: not guilty

How can it be?
I can't begin to comprehend
What kind of grace
Would take the place of all my sin?

I stand in awe
Now that I have been set free
And the tears well up as I look at that cross
'Cause it should have been me

My fate was in the nail scarred hands
He stretched them out for me and said

I'm falling on my knees to thank You
With everything I am I'll praise You
So grateful for the words I heard You say
~Mandisa, Not Guilty~

My friend's baby, sweet, ravaged beauty from Malawi, her eyes roll back and the first responders are doing CPR. And I could not be there to hold my friend. To bring her meals in the hospital and movies to watch and something arty to do. That's what I would do in a perfect world.

 My friend is raped and running scared, that wild look in her eye that shouts fear. I couldn't prevent it. I couldn't keep her company the night she chose to go out because she was lonely. Because that's what I would have done in a perfect world.

I wake up punching my husband, the nightmare too real, I the string puppet mastered in sleep by the darkness of my own past. I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't avoid the nightmare. I can't change my past. That's what I would do in a perfect world.

I am a recovering perfectionist. This is pretty apparent if you walk into my home, which is more likely to be messy than picked up. You will probably find clean toilets. House-cleaning has become a rolling probabilities puzzle (will my child be hurt worse by toilet germs or the toys on the front room floor?). But I have time for my kids, now that my house doesn't have to be perfect. My kids show it too, messy mismatched clothes, dirty toes, chocolatey grins, skinned knees and grass in their hair. But they are so happy.

My cancer - constant companion since 2008 - is a pretty good cure for perfectionism. Like an instantaneous relief print of a photograph, cancer highlights what really matters and darkens those things that don't. And then there is the special needs kid that gets thrown into the mix out of the blue in 2009. Then you lose all your friends in 2010 and suddenly realize, where did I get these standards from, and are they True or false?

My kids watch more movies now, because it doesn't really matter, and they love it.

My husband occasionally cooks dinner, because it really does matter that I have a break.

We are mulling over school choices for our kids, something we've never done before. (Homeschool or die. Umm, where is that in the Bible?)

I am treating myself with a little more respect as I slowly, surely, begin to comprehend that I am not "filthy rags" to my Father, but a precious, beautiful, flawed daughter He longs to love on, lavish, support and always be with.


Closer I am to fine

Last night I spent 4 hours holding a beautiful baby. This morning, my car was enveloped in a storm of cotton from the trees, glittering in the sunlight. Lunch with my friend was a happy spot in my day. A coffeehouse, my Ipod, got some writing done to finance my upcoming trip to South Carolina. My husband put up a porch swing for me, and I am addicted (and ever grateful). We watched Amelia and decided that we are happy with our choice in naming our own Amelia.

In between were flashbacks and one horrifying nightmare. I am on the brink of checking myself back into the hospital to have my meds tweaked. I am thankful for every moment of today. And that's all I have to say!

I'm trying to tell you something about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
The best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously, it's only life after all
Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I'm crawling on your shore.

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain
There's more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
The less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I'd been the night before
I went in seeking clarity.
yeah we go to the doctor, we go to the mountains
we look to the children, we drink from the fountains
yeah we go to the bible, we go through the workout
we read up on revival and we stand up for the lookout
~from Indigo Girls Closer to Fine~

The next first dance

We were standing as we would at a wedding dance, limbs akimbo.

We sit hunched, inches apart, minds flying in opposite directions. He reels me in with the touch of a hand, the electricity of him + me. We sit in the china blue twilight as the frog song goes from song of the forest, wafting, to near cacophony like the blower from the next farm down running straight through the night, all the while you wondering, huddled. Messy.

The dog slumps and huffs into her place behind us. She plops down like a worn-out sack of flour, and snuffs at us. I stiffen and enter the gridlock, I am stealthy and disassociated and I nod "yes", shake head "no", insert a "good job sweetheart" as the children speak like rushing water one tumbling over the next to describe thier t-ball game. It is hard to untangle at the end of the day. Behind them is a projection screen with an 8mm recording of my abuse, the darkest day in the woods. I shiver, and put my silent smile back on and drown in the water of their voices.

But being too happy in thine happiness,—
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

Darkling, I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toil me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

~exc. from Ode to a Nightingale, Keats ~

What if you can't forgive?

Some of the pain is leeching out, day by day, the soul pain, the kind you can do nothing for. Friends lost slowly become benign memories, and are replaced by the sweet faces of those who ran toward you in your darkest hour.

Dam on Chippewa River, near paper plant
II Corinthians 2:4-10 has been a beachhead for my sanity throughout the conflict as we left our last church. The simplicity of God-given forgiveness confuses the intellectual, and sometimes even the person doing the forgiving. It is a supernatural experience to have God's love flowing out of your heart in an unstoppable rush when common sense should leave you reeling from the damage done. The assassin of your peace does not know one key component to this God-breathed forgiveness: with God there is nothing, short of true blasphemy, that could sever His love for both offender and offended. And another thing: both offender and offended will be forever changed as you engage in Spirit-led forgiveness, outside of the apologies, or the repeat offenses, or even your own feeling on the subject. God's Word has transforming power.

Overflow dam gates at the Chippewa River this week
Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love.  (2 Corinthians 2:5-8 Message)
Swirls in Chippewa River just below the dam
I'd be willing to guess that, no matter how heinous the offense against you, you do not want to be the one
standing guard, the spite of the offense in your rock hard heart, watching as the offender goes down drowning in the river of your contempt. So choose, sinner, to forgive in spite of. In this way, we will defeat Satan and champion our Lord, who delivers both the suffering and the accusers from guilt and shame and welcomes us all to the feasting table.

I was standing at the counter
I was waiting for the change
When I heard that old familiar music start
It was like a lighted match
Had been tossed into my soul
It was like a dam had broken in my heart

After taking every detour
Getting lost and losing track
So that even if I wanted
I could not find my way back
After driving out the memory
Of the way things might have been
After I'd forgotten all about us
The song remembers when

We were rolling through the Rockies
We were up above the clouds
When a station out of Jackson played that song
And it seemed to fit the moment
And the moment seemed to freeze
When we turned the music up and sang along

And there was a God in Heaven
And the world made perfect sense
We were young and were in love
And we were easy to convince
We were headed straight for Eden
It was just around the bend
And though I have forgotten all about it
The song remembers when

I guess something must have happened
And we must have said goodbye
And my heart must have been broken
Though I can't recall just why
The song remembers when

Well, for all the miles between us
And for all the time that's passed
You would think I haven't gotten very far
And I hope my hasty heart
Will forgive me just this once
If I stop to wonder how on Earth you are

But that's just a lot of water
Underneath a bridge I burned
And there's no use in backtracking
Around corners I have turned
Still I guess some things we bury
Are just bound to rise again
For even if the whole world has forgotten

The song remembers when
Yeah, and even if the whole world has forgotten
The song remembers when

My Gratitude Journal, this week, #657-660. Depression makes me so tired. I need to pull up my bootstraps and get back to faithful recording of those things that bring joy even through the dark days.
#657 The broken is bound up and cared for by the King of Glory.
#658 His blessings overflow our expections
#659 Unexpected day with good friends
#660 Melanie's wisdom, boughten at such a high price, helps me now

Bluebird of happiness

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Thanks, Aaron, for these amazing photos. :-)

In the presence of my enemies

Even though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemiesYou anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:4-6)

New life breathes into Psalm 23 as I seek comfort and protection from the flashbacks and nightmares. They are my enemies now, always with their surprise attacks and new weapons and better firepower.

I walk up the steps to the pastor who counsels me, and she shows me this verse. Feasting in the presence of enemies. I don't have to wait for the flashbacks and nightmares to stop before I feast with the King.

And though the road to soul healing is always long, this one verse frees us to be ourselves and to be delighted in the worst of trials. It's God perpetual love and His anthem of freedom, that even while we are in these aging, sinning, perishable bodies, His glory light can shine right on through. That even in the presence of those we are afraid of or intensely dislike, He has prepared a feast, and He is standing at the head of the table inviting us to pull up a chair and enjoy the gifts He's giving freely to each of us.

Heavenly Father, you always amaze me
Let your kingdom come in my world and in my life
Give me the food I need to live through today
And forgive me as I forgive the people that wrong me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window the birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune or out of place
I walk to the meadow and stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl on her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens is now advancing
Invade my heart, invade this broken town
The kingdom of the Heavens is buried treasure
Would you sell yourself to buy the one you've found?

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

Our God in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us weary sinners
Keep us far away from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons
~ Your Love is Strong, Jon Foreman ~

In His grip, yet free

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)
10 years ago, I met this amazing woman who was descended from missionaries and had been one herself. It was kind of an "Amy Carmichael" moment for me as a floundering but desperately seeking young Christian. Her son was in the hospital for a bone marrow transplant that would either cure him and give him extra years of life, or kill him slowly and painfully. Her father had just been released from captivity in Eastern Europe, minus a few fingers. As she readied herself for the long season to come, the marrow transplant process that is at least 100 days and often spans years, God gave her a song and words. Be still and know that I am God. And she was - one of the stillest, ever-praising women I'd ever met. Her faith was inspiring and I felt like when I worked with her son, there was a giant electrical cord connecting our two souls and her love and beauty and identity in Christ flowed my way like an electrified burst of power, consuming my soul and even threatening to surge and cut the power cord.

Amy blogged before there were blogs. She maintained a website chronicling her son's progress. And she signed every single letter to her friends, "In His grip". I asked her about it, and she quoted John 10:28 (my favorite eternal security verse). No one can pluck us from His hand. That's quite a grip. Jesus isn't even going to allow me to break that grip when I beg Him go test someone else, put your heavy hand on someone else. I can't learn anymore, and I am grief-stricken and wrung out.

In His grip, yet free. An eternal conundrum. A concept that has God following me around, gripping me despite my foray into sin, when my depression peaks and I just want to bleed dry, when I am weeping into my pillow and feel all alone. He is gripping me. Yet He moves those hands under me, too, when I am on the path He has appointed for me. Lets me walk, always in the palm of His hand, watches with joy and fulfillment as I satisfy His will.

I am "In His grip". You'll see that in my e-mails, letters. I am also free, like Maya Angelou's bird: A free bird leaps on the back of the wind and floats downstream till the current ends and dips her wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.

I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands
When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave you
When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave
I never leave your hands

joy without lament is a deflated balloon

This guest post comes from one of the wise and questioning bloggers I know, Joy from Joy In This Journey.

A father, oldest daughter lying in a cemetery a few miles from the church, stands with arms raised and sings ragged, “Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering…blessed be Your name. You give and take away. My heart will choose to say ‘Lord, blessed be Your name.’”

How many times have you exulted over how something worked out just right and said, “God is so good”?

It is easy to praise God when life is good.
We don’t struggle at all to thank God for success-as-we-define-it. And it’s easy for those don’t love God to explain it away as hard work or good luck or “of course Christians thank God for good things.”
What do you say when everything falls apart? When it doesn’t work out and the bills are high and the child doesn’t come home and the test result is “malignant” and the thieves get away with your valuables, do you still say, “God is so good”?

Not so easy. Maybe even impossible. How could that dad sing, and actually mean those words, without the Helper, the Holy Spirit?

I wrote last week how we need songs for days when we come face to face with our own failures and with the brokenness of the people we live with and the world we live in. When life is spinning out of control and the hits just keep coming, happy-clappy songs often seem to deny the painful reality of life.
Nothing-Bad-Happens teaching has power — faith-destroying power.

Happy-clappy songs can be so damaging because they can lead us to believe that God promises easy life and happy endings. The worst songs (and the teaching that goes with them) imply that even to name the bad things makes them true and gives them power over us.

God does promise a happy ending, but it often comes after our death. God never promises ease and comfort and happy endings here, now, in this life. Quite the opposite. God promises trouble and pain. (“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33) But He also promises to be there with us because He, in Jesus, has walked through every painful experience of life already.

Do you see how this can shipwreck someone’s faith? If you tell me God gets me out of every trouble, and then He doesn’t, I will naturally conclude that God has broken his promise, that He is not trustworthy. Telling me not to name my pain gives it the power to destroy my faith.

For who will worship and obey a God who breaks His promises?

Lament is critical in the life of every believer because lament tells the truth.

Lament admits the existence of the very real evil in the world, even in the life of Christians.

Lament does not stick a trite band-aid on the stub of an arm, pat the person on the head, and say “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” And it most certainly doesn’t say “this isn’t real” and walk away, leaving someone bleeding to death. Lament wraps a tourniquet around the wound and cradles the injured as it defiantly cries, “Your arm is gone, it is awful, but our God is a healer and He is good!”

The young man has told so many lies he can’t remember the truth or see where to begin to make things right. He came to his friend’s home Bible study desperate but fearful of being judged and condemned by real “good” people. He looks at the song sheet and tears blur the words as he reads “We are the broken, You are the healer, Jesus, Redeemer, mighty to save…”

Lament allows us to acknowledge that we sin, hurt others, and suffer the consequences of our failures the rest of our lives. Lament gives real hope as it points to a God who works in and through sinners, and whose plans cannot be ruined by any sin or catastrophe. We can say with Habakkuk:
“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. (Habbakuk 3:16-18)
Lament gives solid footing in chaos
In lament we cling to the hope that one day God will overcome the evil in the world. He will make everything wrong right again, heal all the wounds, wipe the tears off our faces, and wash away all our sins and the hurt we’ve inflicted on others.

A first-time mom slips into the early service before hurrying down to the hospital where her prematurely-born newborn is clinging to life in an intensive care unit. The hymn that morning is “It Is Well,” and all she can do is whisper the words as tears stream down her face. “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” (A song written by a man who lost his wife and daughters in a shipwreck… “sorrows like sea billows…”)
While people can explain away our praise of God in good times, they cannot explain it away when we praise God in the midst of pain and failure. They cannot wrap their minds around a bereaved father blessing God’s name after his daughter dies or a mother’s peace at the bedside of her preemie or a sinner’s relief in the forgiveness of God.

When we lament, we demonstrate that God’s claims to be trustworthy and forgiving and merciful and love are true enough and strong enough to cling to even after our lives explode. Lament gives us the words to worship God in the aftermath of our own failures, out of the ashes of crumbled dreams, through the pain of illness and injury and tragedy.

God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves a drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody

Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out,singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah
-Amy Grant, “Better Than a Hallelujah” from the album “Somewhere Down the Road”

Wind on skin

Easter is just one of those days of traditional finery I cannot seem 
to squelch with my most tom-boy mom style. 
Shirt and tie, toe the line, proud of our judgement.

As the sun warms the earth now, 
I am like new skin,
 in new wind,
 in new life

Fade, fade each earthly joy; Jesus is mine.
Break every tender tie: Jesus is mine.
Dark is the wilderness,
Earth has no resting place,
Jesus alone can bless;
Jesus is mine.

Tempt not my soul away; Jesus is mine.
Here would I ever stay; Jesus is mine.
Perishing, things of clay,
Born but for one brief day;
Pass from my heart away;
Jesus is mine.

Farewell, ye dreams of night; Jesus is mine.
Lost in this dawning bright; Jesus is mine.
All that my soul has tried
Left but a dismal void: Jesus has satisfied
Jesus is mine.

Farewell, mortality; Jesus is mine.
Welcome, eternity, Jesus is mine.
Welcome, O loved and blest,
Welcome, sweet scenes of rest,
Welcome, my Savior's breast; 
Jesus is mine.
~Jesus is Mine or "Fade, fade, each earthly joy"
disputed authorship


I used to see God just like this. Me, God, two inexorable features locked tightly in a molded sculpture of perfection. This is what I thought God wanted to do in my life. Bend me and shape me, the iron rod, the unforgiving stone of a life, to erode me and form me into something different than I am. After all, it's exactly what I deserve. If He is my constant companion, and sees my defeats and torment, surely He is the disciplinarian, the head honcho, the boss you duck to hide from at work:

Why does it feel like night today?
Something in here's not right today
Why am I so uptight today?
Paranoia's all I got left

I don't know what stressed me first
Or how the pressure was fed
But I know just what it feels like
To have a voice in the back of my head

It's like a face that I hold inside
A face that awakes when I close my eyes
A face watches every time I lie
A face that laughs every time I fall
And watches everything

So I know that when it's time to sink or swim
That the face inside is hearing me
Right underneath my skin

I know I've got a face in me
Points out all my mistakes to me
You've got a face on the inside too and
Your paranoia's probably worse
~Papercut, Linkin Park~

And to that God counters with the sweet, strong courageous voice from the pulpit that reads to me from Psalm 45. I shake while worshiping, penance for years thinking of God as an authoritarian parent I drew back from. Jesus, Lover of my soul? What He pursues is me, the real me? Not to break me, but to love me? This scandalous love affair between Creator and created seems like something we keep under wraps, don't speak about too much in public, for fear of coming across a bit odd. But, like breath in, breath out, intimacy with Him grows, magnificent, holy, supernatural and as natural as that reflex to breath in and out. 

Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear:
forget your people and your father's house,
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him.
The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
the richest of the people.

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, 
with robes interwoven with gold.
In many-colored robes she is led to the king,
with her virgin companions following behind her.
With joy and gladness they are led along
as they enter the palace of the king.

In place of your fathers shall be your sons;
you will make them princes in all the earth.
I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations;
therefore nations will praise you forever and ever.
~Psalm 45:10-17~

My gratitude list, excerpted from #649-656~
650. Starting the day with a positive thought for future
652. Matching tattoo with Melanie!
654. Peace in the Bachs home
656. Three little girls with matching pixie haircuts

The big picture

We see faith as the strong steel bands that bind us to God's will, meted out with each drop of blood on the Cross. We feel it is something we have to maintain, work at, and suffer for.

But the big picture tells us that the steel bands are Christ's grip on, the shorter, weaker pole to which Greatness of lashed. And that, for each good deed we do, He deserves the credit for victory of life over death.

He is with you when your faith is dead
And you can't even get out of bed
Or your husband doesn't kiss you anymore
He is with you when your baby's gone
And your house is still
And your hearts are stone
Crying "God what'd you do that for?"
He is with you

There's a time for yes
And a time for no
There's a time to be angry
And a time to let it go
There's a time to run
And a time to face it
There's love to seek
In all of this
Through all of this

He is with you in the conference room
When the world is coming down on you
And your wife and kids don't know you anymore
And He is with you in the ICU when the doctors don't know what to do
And it scares you to the core
He is with you

We may weep for a time but joy will come in the morning
The morning light

He is with you when your kids are grown
When there's too much space and you feel alone
And your worried if you got it right or wrong
Yes He is with you when you've given up on ever finding your true love
Someone who feels like home
He is with you

When nothing else is left and you take your final breath
He is with you

He is with you

~Mandisa, He is With You~