Friday, January 02, 2015

The Silent Gift

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

So my Christmas reflection comes a little late this year...but we are still technically in the season of Christmas for three more days, so I'm gonna roll with it.

I love Christmas.  Love. And I LOVE presents.  Do people actually admit that these days?  Most people try to be coy about getting gifts...it's better to give than to receive...yada yada.  Don't get me wrong - I love to give a good gift.  But as for me, receiving is always better.  I love gifts.  They are my love language [for real].  It doesn't need to be huge, but a thoughtful gift brings life to my soul [feel free to send gifts in response to this...seriously.]

Over the years though Steve and I have not been able to really give one another gifts for Christmas.  One year we actually were in the midst of a year-long shopping fast, so we asked for no gifts at all.  But more often we just have not had the extra money for presents.  This year we were able to do something small for one another - but gifts have not been the center piece of our Christmas time.  I know that should be the way it should be...but for me it has been a bit of a loss...because I love gifts!

As we started to think about what we would want or need - not much came to mind.  I mean big ticket items like a tropical vacation [I would argue a need...but probably a want...] or a new camera or new computer...but none of these things did we desperately need.  In fact, we realized that we have plenty of stuff, we are not in need.  For that I am truly grateful.

Yet this Christmas I received a new gift...a much overlooked Christmas song.  "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" - I have heard it many times before, but this year it was my greatest gift...and lucky me, it talks about getting a gift!  The line that really stayed with me this Christmas was this:

How silently, how silently the wondrous gift is given.

In the midst of a noisy season, this is profound wisdom.  There is so much to distract us during Christmas...and they are wonderful things!  Parties, decorations, pretty presents, food...celebration!  Christmas does not come on quietly in our culture...it is announced months in advance with bright lights, shiny papers, and aisles of toys.  In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the silent gift of God.

Another line from this song that I keep reflecting on:
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

This silent gift is easy to miss in the midst of all the loud distractions, but it is the gift I need most.  This gift where my hopes and fears are met.  The older I get, while I still LOVE getting presents [keeping it real here people], I also realize that I am in need of something much deeper than a vacation or new gadget.  I am in need of a peace that I cannot give myself.  I am in need of a hope that can sustain me through the most trying of circumstances.  I am in need of a love that frees me to love others.  This is not a loudly given gift...but it is the gift that is available in this Christmas season...should we get quiet enough to recognize it.

This past year I have noticed how afraid I am.  Specifically around whether others will accept me or not.  And this fear creates social anxiety for me...and hiding...and isolating.  I realized that I am not at peace within my own soul.  And while a new pair of jeans can help distract me from this fear - it does not heal it.  And I have come to a point in my life that I am tired of all the distractions.  I would rather risk hoping and being disappointed than to live hidden, barricaded, and alone.  I need a gift that will meet my hopes and fears.

So this Christmas my prayer has been this:
God, give me the gift of your peace that is beyond all understanding.

It's not something you can wrap up under a tree, it's not something you can put on an Amazon wish list, and it is not something you can show off on social media.  It is a gift that only God can give...and you have to pay attention to even see it at work.  Someone once told me spiritual growth is the slowest growth of all.  It is a gift that is unwrapped over time - but it is a gift all the same.  And it is there, available to all of us, should we humbly receive it.

So, while I will always LOVE presents under the tree, I am growing to value this other gift far more.  I am seeing the value in a life lived in freedom rather than fear.  I am growing to be more comfortable in my skin...and inviting others to be comfortable in theirs.  This silent gift is the greatest gift.


Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year, New You?


Here we are, another new year.  2015. New Year's Day is a strange day for sure...and I am not quite sure what to do with it.  I'm not one for resolutions, though I do like the idea of starting off a new year with a blank page of possibility.

However, this year is a little different for me.  See, I have noticed a pattern in my life that I think needs to be addressed.  So in some ways, a resolution might be exactly what I need.  On the other hand, a resolution can contribute to the problem.

So what is this pattern that causes such a conundrum?  It is the constant need to be improving - all.the.time.  I have come to see that there is not a natural 'finish line' for me in any area of life.  There is no maintaining or coasting or arriving.  I live in a constant state of striving.  And frankly, it is exhausting.

One particular area where I see this is in my physical fitness.  I came to fitness later in life, and it has been very life-giving for me.  I enjoy working out - for the results but also for the release it brings.  It is something I desire to make time for in my life, and sacrifice other things in order to make this a priority.  But I have also seen that I do not have a level of fitness that feels like an arrival...I have this unrealistic expectation that I always need to be reaching another level, dropping another size, meeting another accomplishment...

And I see this in all sorts of other ways in my life...the relentless pursuit of improvement.  So, as I come into this new year, how exactly do I address this?  By making a resolution to improve my constant need to improve? Perhaps.  But I don't know how helpful that will really be.

Instead, I am thinking that I need to live into a life-value of mine...which is developing an attitude of contentment and a theology of enough.  To know that I am already enough - that the work I have done is enough - that I have enough.  And to grow in contentment.  These are things that striving can't really accomplish...can you strive for contentment?  Though it may be hard work - I think it requires something else.  Something a bit more gentle.

I think the key to all of this for me is recognition and appreciation.  Recognizing the gifts and blessings all around me - and taking the time to appreciate them.  Whether that be the physical possessions in my home or my physical body...my relationships, my work, my accomplishments, my times of rest...to take time to pay attention and soak it in...and to say enough is enough.

So, yes, I do hope this new year brings a new me...but not a reinvented me, not a me that I have to resolve to become...instead a more peaceful me, a calmer me, a more grateful me...the me that is already here if I would just stop striving to become something else.

So here's to a new year, and a new you...or maybe just more of the real you.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Let It Go


Imogen turned four this month, and to celebrate we threw her a party at a local kids gym.  We went back and forth as to whether we should spend the money, but Imogen really wanted to invite all her preschool friends, and we caved.  The place was awesome - a giant padded indoor playground where the kids could just run around and have a blast.

But the highlight of the birthday extravaganza is the birthday dance party.  All the kids are called to the lit-up dance floor in the center of the gym, and then they announce whose birthday it is and how old they are.  Then, they turn down the lights, bubbles fall from the ceiling, lasers lights shoot out on the walls, and a guy in a frog costume comes onto the dance floor [I swear, I am not making this up!] Then the song of choice comes on and all the kids get to sing their little hearts out.

When it came to Imogen's turn she was SO excited.  All her friends surrounded her, they called out her name, and then when the lights went down and the bubbles fell from the sky - Let It Go blared from the speakers.  And her face...oh my.  I teared up [and still do each time I think of it] - her face was worth every penny spent.

Here's a little taste of how glorious it was:


I have been reflecting on this moment quite a bit - because it was more than just a sweet parenting moment.  It was what we call a Kairos Moment - a moment when the Kingdom of God breaks into ordinary time to call attention to something bigger.

As I have thought more about why my soul was stirred I realized that in this moment Imogen was her True Self - completely open, unguarded, vulnerable.  She has not yet been so wounded by the world that she has created defenses to protect her from rejection, cynicism, criticism.  She was simply herself - totally abandoned to a moment of sheer delight.

Unfortunately, this will not last.  I wish it could - but it can't.  It is just not the way of things.  The human journey involves wounding - because this is a broken world.  Innocence is lost at some point, and defenses get put up.  I mourn that already on her behalf.  To see this completely open, delightful, and joyful little girl is to witness how we were created to live - what God's highest aim is for us.  I think Irenaeus had it completely right:

The glory of God is humanity fully alive.

This is the aim of all living - to be fully alive.  This is the work that I do with adults, to help them along the journey to rediscovering that True Self - who can walk onto a lit dance floor and sing their little hearts out, completely lost in the moment, because that is what they were created to experience.

But to get here we have to 'Let It Go.' We have to take down our defenses, take off our masks, and risk rejection, wounding, loneliness, abandonment...all the reasons why we have these defenses in the first place.  We have to risk being seen, being known, being exposed.  And most of us would much rather die...

Unfortunately we are getting our wish.  Many of us have deadened our hearts and desires because they require this vulnerability.  We settle for bigger houses, faster cars, better bodies, fancy clothes, bigger degrees, bigger offices, talented children, attractive partners...the things that keep us distracted from the fact that we all want more from life.

Watching Imogen in this completely unmasked moment challenged me to live my life with more intention - to risk it all - to bear my soul, even if people don't appreciate it.  This is all easier said than done...to return to True Self takes a lifetime.  That is the highest work we can do as human beings - to live fully alive.

I am tempted to put a mask on Imogen - to protect her, to warn her, to guard that precious, vulnerable self from the messages of the world.  When I see her so open, my first reaction is to tell her to hide.  But instead, God is trying to call me out of hiding - to remind me that I too am delightful and precious - and that while these masks make me feel safe, they don't give me life.

So while the rest of the world may be sick of this song - I am hearing it as a calling, an invitation, a reminder:

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I'm the queen.
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn't keep it in, heaven knows I tried!
Don't let them in, don't let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know
Well, now they know!
Let it go, let it go
Can't hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!
I don't care
What they're going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!
It's funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can't get to me at all!
It's time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I'm free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You'll never see me cry!
Here I stand
And here I'll stay
Let the storm rage on!
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I'm never going back,
The past is in the past!
Let it go, let it go
And I'll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Coming Home


It has been a long time since I have ventured to this space.  It sits atop my search engine - and each time i have tried to click on it, I just can't seem to do it.  I want to write, but I have nothing to write.  That is how it has felt for a long time.

And then today I finally found the space within my soul to click...and here I am.

Anne Lamott's words on writers block have been true for me.  She says when we find ourselves in a place without words we are not so much blocked as empty:

“The problem is acceptance, which is something we’re taught not to do. We’re taught to improve uncomfortable situations, to change things, alleviate unpleasant feelings. But if you accept the reality that you have been given…you free yourself to begin filling up again.” Bird by Bird

This past year the word God has been speaking into my life is margin.  He has brought to my attention how I live with a lack of margin, and what it produces in my life.  While I am highly productive, and even some would argue quite successful...I had reached a point where it was no longer fruitful.

I have had a hard time accepting the limitations that come with the current season of life I am in...and the unique circumstances to my life.  Mostly, this season of having a small child has wrecked me.  I know, we're not supposed to talk like that as parents...at least not publicly.  But I am someone who tries to live as honestly as possible...and this season has been tough.

Part of what makes having a small child so hard is that you learn how little you can control another person.  I am not in control of when she sleeps, IF she sleeps, how long she sleeps, how well she sleeps...yet it impacts my sleep.  And that is one factor of parenthood.  The truth is, for the first 10 years of my marriage I was able to be flexible, available, spontaneous...I could hang out, and had emotional space to care for others, and was able to host parties and other gatherings...I had margin.

Then, Imogen turned 2...and that margin faded away.  And while I didn't have much choice in the matter, I also didn't take seriously the season of life in which I was in.  I continued to hold myself to the expectations [social, emotional, physical, spiritual] that I had in the prior season...and yet I could never meet them, so I felt continually discouraged.  It seemed I was failing at life.

But what really needed to happen was a change in perspective...an acceptance of a reality that a wise woman once told me:

"You can have it all...you just can't have it all at once."

I, my friends, was trying to have it all at once.  And it burned me out.  I spend a great deal of my ministry helping others live an intentional and fruitful life...yet I had been burning the candle on both ends in my own life.  So, for the last few months I have been saying no to a lot of things.  I have been asking myself "Is this essential? Do I really have space for this? Is this going to increase or deplete my energy?"  I have found my impulse to say YES is more often than not driven by the fear of being left out, left behind, left unseen.

So, today I see some fruit from this season of saying no, of cutting back, of accepting my limitations...because here I am, writing.  Nothing profound, nothing soul deep...not yet.  More of a report, less of a reflection.  But my soul wants to reflect again...and that is new.

It is probably no small coincidence that here I am the day before Imogen turns 4.  She is a delight and a blessing...and she is also coming into a season that is a little easier for me.  Less physically demanding, a little more rational, much more independent...her new season of life frees up some margin in my own life.  And I am excited about that.

I feel myself coming back to myself...I know that may sound strange to those of you who never feel like you lost yourself...but I have felt a little lost these past two years.  Toddlerhood blindsided me in many ways...revealing weaknesses and limitations I didn't know I had...and also bringing about values, understanding, and skills that I wouldn't have without it.

Like all good reunions, I am excited to catch up with myself and hear what I have learned, how I have grown, what I hope for moving forward, and what gifts I received that I wasn't aware of.  I am excited to hear how life has been these last two years...and I am glad to have enough margin to have space for the conversation.

I feel like I am ready to be filled again after a season of emptying out...and I am looking forward to seeing what I discover in this next homecoming.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Dying to Live

Today I once again had the privilege to administer ashes at our Ash Wednesday service.  It is honestly one of my favorite things that I get to do as a pastor.  To have people walk up before me, kneel, and allow me to speak the haunting and sobering words:
"Remember, from dust you came and to dust you shall return."

To remind people that they will die is a holy thing indeed.  A holy privilege.

But this Ash Wednesday comes with some extra symbolism for me...for it marks the day before my birthday.  It is a strange thing to remember death the day before you celebrate your birth.  Yet this year it seems very appropriate.

See, tomorrow I embark on a year-long journey/experiment.  I'm not physically going anywhere [at least not anywhere planned] but emotionally and spiritually I am preparing myself for a bumpy ride.  This next year I am going to undertake what I am calling a Courage Project - 12 months of Living Courageously.

And so to begin this journey with the reminder that life is temporary, I am mortal, and in the end I will return to the ground from which I came...it makes Jesus' words stand out to me in a whole new way:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" [Mark 8v34-36]

To find my life, my truest deepest richest life, means I have to let go of all the ways I choose to live out of safety and comfort.  To really live means that I have to die first.  So it seems fitting that before I step into this new endeavor of living with courage instead of fear I should be reminded that this life comes to an end, our days are numbered, and if I want to live there is no time like the present to jump into what that means.

On the eve of my 34th birthday I am grateful for the reminder that I will die...hopefully not soon, but eventually.  And too often I am so afraid of looking foolish, being humiliated, experiencing rejection, being excluded that instead of choosing to live I simply choose to get by unscathed.  But this is not living my friends - to live means to risk.  To live we must first embrace death - because it is only knowing that this adventure of life will come to an end that we can risk trying to get as much out of it as possible before we we return to the dust from which we came.

Tomorrow I begin a journey of losing my life so that I might find what true life is.  Today I reflect that life is a precious gift that is fragile, temporary, and passing.  


Today I remember that from dust I came, and to dust I will return...so I better get on with the practice of living while I still can.

Monday, January 27, 2014

80/20

This week I have had the privilege of being at The Sundance Film Festival with Into The Noise and it has been quite an experience. Spending five days immersed in a cultural conversation exploring our world and what it means to exist in it has been life-giving.

A major theme I saw the films and directors exploring throughout the week was what it means to be in relationship with others.  Whether it was around issues of race, gender, friendship, marriage, parenthood, seasons of life...the question that seemed to be central was what does it mean to connect with others in meaningful and significant ways?

One film in particular stands out to me.  It was called The One I Love and the premise was that a married couple who are experiencing major problems in their relationship are sent on a trip by their therapist.  At the property they are staying at they find a guest house, and soon realize that for each of them an idealized version of their spouse resides in the guest house.  They are essentially posed with the question: would they rather have the 'perfect' version of their spouse or the 'real' version of their spouse.  I won't give anything else away in the film - it is worth seeing if you get a chance.

But I think this same question is posed to us on a regular basis.  This brings me to the 80/20 rule.  I once heard that in a marriage your spouse is [at best] able to fulfill 80% of your needs.  The problem comes when someone else comes along and offers to fill that last 20%.  Very often this is when affairs take place - you jump at the 20%, and then realize that you gave up the 80%.

Whether you are married or not, I think the 80/20 rule is something we all need to think about when it comes to relationships.  Because the truth is relationships are hard.  And at best our spouses, friends, family, small groups...they fulfill about 80% of our needs.  Which is great, except that pesky 20% keeps us wondering if there might not be something better out there.

And so we find idealized versions of relationships and we begin to fantasize about what we're missing.  And then we get tempted to pull up roots and start something new - because it is exciting, and fulfilling, and exhilarating...at least at first.  But chasing after the ideal leaves us lonely and empty.  The fantasy that someone out there can meet 100% of our needs can prevent us from ever fully investing in the real people around us.

Maybe you don't suffer from this at all - but I think more of us can relate than we may care to admit.  We can relate to falling in love with an idealized version of our spouse, our friends, our neighborhoods, our jobs...that last 20 nags at us and we can get lost in the 'what if...'

What if my husband wore his hair just a little trendier.
What if my wife cooked me cheeseburgers every night.
What if my kids liked all the things I wanted them to like.
What if my friends wanted to hang out more.
What if my job didn't require me to do so much email.
What if that school let me take the classes I want.
What if that house had more space for my craft room.

What if...I could just have that 20?  Then would I be happy?

So what do we do with the 20?  Is it that we are just supposed to settle for less, lower our expectations, and resign ourselves to our unmet needs?  Perhaps.  But I think there is a different answer.

I think the 20% is the invitation for vulnerability.  What tempts us is the possibility to have our needs met without having to risk anything.  Someone comes along and offers us the thing we think we want most...for nothing.

That one person makes you feel attractive and desired.
That one person laughs at all your jokes.
That one person likes all the same books you like.
That one person cooks you meals.
That one person buys you nice things.

And they do it without us having to ask for it.  It is so tempting, because we genuinely want [and need] that 20.  Yet leaving the 80 for the 20 is a formula for perpetual dissatisfaction.  We all wish we could get the 20 without requiring anything of us...but then we miss the point of the 20.

What if, instead of fantasizing about the ideal, we risk with the real.  I think the invitation of the 20 is that we have to show up and ask for it.  But in doing so we expose ourselves - we risk not only having a need go unmet, but we risk having our need rejected.  To ask for it is scary - to ask for it and be openly denied is terrifying.  And so while many of us do not rush out an have affairs with another person, we secretly fall in love with idealized versions of the real thing.  We fantasize about the 'what if...'

But how about this - what if we asked for the 20 from the 80?  Not demand it, but to keep inviting that person who has already committed to us to know us even more?  To show up asking for more.  To help them to know this 20% that perhaps doesn't come naturally to them.  I think the 20 invites a conversation.  I think the 20 keeps our relationships growing, and keep us growing as individuals.

I know that for myself it is much easier to live with the fantasy that I can have my needs met without having to ask for them - but the longer I am in relationship the more I realize that the ideal is just a fantasy.  And I can keep leaving the real in pursuit of the ideal, but I never seem to arrive anywhere.  Because my true desires can't be met without some degree of risk on my part.  And staying and doing the hard work with the 80 is much riskier than dashing off in pursuit of the 20.

The way I see it is that we can spend our whole lives longing for a fantasy - and in doing so we become ungrounded and unrooted.  We chase the 20, and we slowly lose our own solidity.  Or we can stick it out with the 80 and allow the remaining 20 to make us more real, more solid, more honest, more present.  We realize that to be in a real relationship means that the other [be it a spouse, friend, child, job, house etc] can always be seen as lacking...or it can be seen as potential to keep growing.

We let go of the pursuit ideal, the constant temptation of the 20 without risk.  We settle for the 80, the real [yet imperfect] version we already have, and in doing so become more real ourselves.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Broken Hallelujah

"Heart of my own heart, 
whatever befall,
still be my vision, 
O Ruler of all."

2013 has been a hard year.  It has been a year of disappointment and suffering.  It has been a year of unmet hope and desire.  It has been a year of struggling to surrender.  It has been a hell of a year - and I mean that.

But let me back up, and catch you up a bit.  See, Steve and I have been trying to have a second child for over two years now.  We struggled with infertility for three years before we had Imogen, but as soon as we sought treatment we were immediately successful.  And so we expected much the same result this go around...

However, things did not turn out that way.  Throughout these two years we have tried a number of measures to help us have another child - and none of them were successful.  With each attempt our hopes were renewed, doctors reassured us that we were healthy and should have no trouble conceiving.  In fact, there was nothing specifically wrong with either of us - no reason why we were having such a hard time.

And then, we reached the end.  The end of what we could afford financially.  And the end of what we could afford emotionally.  We just couldn't go any further.

But the end didn't look how I expected it to look.  I'll be honest, the end sucked.  Really, really sucked. because in the end, we didn't get what we hoped for.  This was not a story of triumph or perseverance.  This was a story of disappointment, heartache, and sorrow.

Yet as I tried to come to terms with the reality that my life, my family, my home would not look how I desired for it to look - I found myself unable to fully access the deep, searing pain that took up residence in my soul.  It was there, and it would overwhelm me at times - and yet it felt trapped.  I needed to grieve, and yet the pain felt so deep that I couldn't reach it.  

That's when it came to me that I needed a symbol to help me process - something to begin to help me let go and come to terms with this loss.  Part of the challenge of infertility is that it is so isolating and lonely.  There are no physical signs that you are suffering - no one knows unless you tell them.  And it is so deeply personal and intimate that it feels especially vulnerable and exposing to talk about it with others.  So many people suffer alone, and no one knows they are grieving.  At least, this is how it felt for me.

And so one day it struck me to get a tattoo that would help me surrender.  It was one I had in mind for a while, and I didn't know it would be associated with this season - and yet it fits perfectly.  And for the first time I understood why a person would hurt themselves in order to express their pain [NOT that I condone this in any way - nor do I see tattoos as self-mutilation].  However, the emotional pain was so deep, so painful, so difficult to express I needed both the symbol and the pain of getting the symbol to begin to process just how heartbroken I was.

The tattoo is two intertwined hearts with fall leaves - symbolizing God's heart and my heart - intertwined even through seasons of death.   Because that is what this is - a season of death.  A dream, a hope dying.  

As I was nearing the end of my tattoo session a song came on the radio - one that has been covered more times that one can count.  Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.  And one line struck me and ushered me into a holy moment with God:

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
And as I laid there with the searing pain of the needle mixed with the searing pain of my soul I felt God's gentle Spirit whisper to me:

"I know that all you have right now is a broken hallelujah.  It is enough."

I have been clinging to this for dear life - my broken hallelujah.  It's been months since I've made it through a single church service without weeping - and I don't mean just a few tears springing to me eyes...I mean all out sobbing.  Because this hurts like hell - and I mean that too.  To bear this disappointment feels like walking through hell - there are times it feels like it will kill me.

And yet I still offer up my broken hallelujah.

Because death is at the center of our faith.  We don't walk around it - we don't get to avoid it - we don't get to skip it.  We have to walk right into it.  And the challenge is, that's all we can do - walk towards it.  We surrender to it.  Because even though we do not serve the God of the dead, but the God of the living - we can't resurrect ourselves.  We can't conquer death on our own...we need God to do that for us.  He is the one who defeated the Grave - and continues to defeat our daily graves.

Maybe some of you find yourself in a similar place at the conclusion of this year.  Life just didn't go as you planned.  And you have reached the end.  And the end sucks.  It's not an end you would choose, and yet it is where you are.  You are standing at a grave.  And perhaps there are those around you who just want you to get over this death already so you can jump into the next chapter.  And maybe you are tempted to simply bypass the pain, skip the death part, and get onto feeling better.  But you know deep down that your hallelujah is broken - it's there, but it's broken.  And all you can do is wait for the God of the Living to resurrect this part of your life.

And here's the thing about resurrection that many of us miss - Jesus is alive again, but he still bears the wounds that killed him.  They don't magically fill up or disappear - he is scarred.  Yet the scars don't kill anymore.  They are not signs of defeat and death, they are signs of victory and life.  We don't get through this faith journey without scars - it just doesn't work that way.  And some years mark us up more than others.

And so as I end this hellish year - a year that I would never have chosen for myself - a year that concludes with death - a year that has scarred my heart and soul - I continue to trust the One whose heart is intertwined with my own - whatever befalls...


...and I continue to offer up my broken hallelujah...


...and I wait for resurrection...