Beyond Borders

courage. faith. action.

jesus, dead people, church yard, cemetery, bench, dreams


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Here lies my grief :: Songbirds, dead people, and Jesus

It’s Sunday morning.
The blue sky muddles with the drifting clouds.
The sun warm against my cheek.
A songbird sings of the morning’s glory.

I sit on a black bench.
I sit under trees whose branches yield shade like an umbrella.

I sit with the dead people.

The church-yard is filled with headstones.
The headstones, some barely legible, are etched with stories and history and lives taken long before their time.

I read the words “Here lies…” over and over as my eyes scan the stones.
I feel the hand of grief and I believe the lie for a moment.
But here is the truth, the headstones speak of the empty vessels that once harbored souls.
No one lies here in the ground. They sit with Jesus.

Is there anything more scandalously glorious?
To sit with Jesus?

I can’t help but wonder about their lives here on earth.
Did they look upon life as a gift?
Did they know the love, peace, glory of God?

And did they dream?

I think about my life, my dreams, how often it has changed my dreams.

Have I lived into the dream of Jesus?

A songbird sings of the morning’s glory.

And I pray Jesus let my dream be for you.

chasing grace, further up and further in, grace, legalism, faith, church


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When God Rains Grace a Guest Post

It’s been just a little more than a month since I cracked open the pages of Wild in The Hollow: On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home by Amber Haines, yet the words still haunt me today.

It’s not often that a book leaves such an imprint on me, but Amber pours out her story with her beautiful poetic storytelling prose, and God turns it straight into gospel. And it’s in that telling and the gospel where I find my story intertwined. Her story always pointing to the healing power of Jesus through the cross. This is where the beauty of her story lies.

Coming soon I will have a more thorough and formal review of Wild in the Hollow and a giveaway.

Today I have the humbled honor of sharing a bit of my story over at Amber’s place on the interwebs.

Here is a snippet from my story, you can read the rest of it over here.

I flung the doors fast and wide, the sunlight blinding eyes that were already stinging red with tears. Skin flush hot and heart racing. My hands fumbled useless in search of keys. The words still screaming through my head. Pregnant. Drugs. Alcohol.

Just moments before I sat on the front pew during choir practice too weak to stand and sing. A friend curled in close and whispered quiet. Had the doctors found anything? I chuckled at the thought. For months I lied in bed with nausea, unable to eat or drink, migraines that came like waves pounding the shore, I weighed all but 88 pounds. For months I saw doctor after doctor gone through test after test, but no. The doctors had not found anything. Click over for the rest of the story.

To read more about Wild in the Hollow go here. You can also read the first chapter free. If you ready to go ahead and buy the book you can go here, here and here. Oh and there is book club complete with videos! Amber has an introduction video that you can watch here.


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Sally, tears and her new book.

So today, along with a slew of other women, I get the honor of announcing Sally Clarkson’s new book, Own Your Life.  It’s releasing in January 2015. I had the humbled privilege of getting a sneak peek into the book. I cried. Like ugly cried. Because… it’s Sally. And her words always fall like rain and wash over my soul. Comforting the hurting places, encouraging the scared places and because I secretly wish she lived next door. Right here everyday pouring into my life. But since she is not, I read her blog and her books, and her Facebook posts and pretend she is right here with me. And she always knows exactly what I am feeling. She is cool like that, because she and Jesus are super close, and He whispers to me through her. And this book, in so many ways, is going to be her best yet. I am so thankful she thought to write a book just for me.

Oh wait, I forgot, she wrote it for all of us. She says, “I want every woman to be renewed and refreshed in a personal life vision with the conviction that you can say with Paul : ‘I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus'”

Sally, I thank you for pressing on. For always pressing on.

For more information about her book check out Sally’s blog. To preorder “Own Your Life” go here…

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1414391285?ref%5F=sr%5F1%5F1&s=books&qid=1414120740&sr=1-1&keywords=own%20your%20life%20sally%20clarkson&pldnSite=1


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Christmas trees, Charlie Brown, and Advent.

It’s an unwinding of lights today. The Christmas tree stands with spiders and dust and broken lights and odors you just do not want in your house. It’s an unstringing. And Charlie Brown’s voice catches my ear. It’s full of sadness and longing. He wonders is Christmas all about money? About what and how much you get? He is searching for the real meaning of Christmas.

tree lights

tree with lights

The lights are a tangled mess. Who strung this pre lit tree? With each tug on the branches the dust billows around us like pig pen as he walks on to the set. Dust of Christmases past. This tree found it’s way into our home just a year ago, but it has known many Christmases. And Just like all of us it has a story.

As I unravel strings and cut clips the linger of stale cigarette smoke fills the air. Definitely a heavy smoker. A string dangles from a branch and I wonder what it held. The hint of air freshener wafts for a moment. Was it sprayed to mask the odor of cigarettes? I pull twisty ties that held newer lights tight to the branches. Did they want more light or was it because the lights lost their burn? Did children swarm on christmas morn filled with anticipation? Or, did the tree sit alone, haunted with memories of long ago? My arms are tired and my back is straining and all I want to do is toss this tree and go buy a new one. But Christmas trees don’t come cheap these days, so I press on.

tree clips

Charlie Brown’s voice echoes my frustration now, and where are you Linus? Where is your recitation? The words that bring the hope of glory. We desperately need those words.

I use the scissors against the lights, trying desperately to rescue the branches. With each snip, my head fills with events and headlines and controversy. I can feel the weight of darkness. The weight of judgments as to what is the right way to celebrate Christmas. I feel the weight of the self imposed pressure of the social media images of with perfectly decorated mantles and doorsteps. I feel the weight of the argument of who owns Christmas. Did the christians really steal Christmas? I feel the weight of the whispers in desperate times about cities that fight against themselves and whispers of doubt that there never really be peace on earth.

I’m pleading with Linus now. As if the words he recites will bring the peace. Renew the hope. Quiet my mind.

With branches finally freed from the shackles of string lights, I soak that tree with soap and water and vinegar. Washing away the dust and the dirt. The water flows muddy and the branches glisten in the sunlight.

tree clean

Today, the beginning of advent and I am unraveling. Unravelling Christmas lights, and the hopelessness and peace within myself.  And Ann, she reads these words, on the first Sunday of advent, as she invites us in and shares with us through video. She tells us how she wasn’t comfortable in doing so and the yes didn’t come right away, but God kept pressing and there she was because this…  “that If one person could have a more meaningful deep relationship with Christ this Christmas, that if somebody could experience more of an upside down Christmas and encounter Jesus in a fresh way than it is worth doing.”

Because this is advent. A Latin word meaning coming. Waiting. Waiting for the coming of christ. And we are the perpetual advent people. Always waiting for the coming of Christ. And she talks about the Easter people. The hallelujah people. The advent people. Always waiting for the coming of Christ. And I want this. I want to be this person always living in the wait. Always saying yes, even in the uncomfortable, because if just one person…

Charlie Brown is still searching. Where are you Linus? I am pleading with him as if his reading changes everything.

But isn’t this what Christmas is? The renewing of hope? Of the One who came to save the world from all its suffering? The only One who can bring peace on earth? The coming of Jesus, born in a manger? Do these words not change everything?

Because each year as we walk into advent and sit in the wait for Christmas morning, we sit and wait for the reminder. The celebration. Of He who came. Born in a manger. Of He who brought the hope of glory. Of He who died and rose again and is coming again.

And the arguments can beg who owns Christmas. And we can worry about all the unrest and when or if it will end? And we can judge and feel judged on our Christmas traditions, but really there is only one Christmas…

As Charlie Brown returns to the auditorium with his tiny little sapling, the Christmas tree for the play, he is ridiculed by the children. Their laughter trails as they walk away. Charlie Brown is desperate now, he is screaming it, what is the meaning of Christmas? Linus the only one left in the auditorium says “I can tell you…”

“‘And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.’” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)

“…That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

 


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Some Days You Just Have to Let Go.

31 days a writing challenge

 

Calendars. I have several in my arsenal. My iPhone calendar, I use it only to for the ease of sharing our schedules and they are all tucked neatly in one place. But really this isn’t functional to me in the everyday. I have 3 school calendars. One with plans laid out for the week, one for daily schoolwork and field trips, and one to track the days we school. Yes, I am a homeschooling mom. I have a symptom tracker calendar to measure my health issues to report to my doctor. I have my dry erase calendar so I can see the whole month laid out in front of me, because I just need that old school visual hands on calendar, not just a bunch of dots that I have to click on to see what is planned that day.

With all these calendars one would think we would be organized. That schedules would run on time and we would make it to all of our appointments. That errands would be run and tasks completed each day as planned. You would think this would lessen the chaos. But in effect it can be quite the opposite.

When I try to hold tight to our schedule and plans for the day, it doesn’t leave room for the unexpected. No time for tired kids, sensory overload, migraines, allergies or for the simply off days where everything seems to go wrong. The more I struggle to stick to the plan the more power the chaos holds. The house fills with frustration and anxiety. Its not long before everyone feels it and the chaos is unleashed.

Some days you just have to let go of the day. Throw the calendar out the window. Let go of the expected and all the planned, because if not, you will soon be mourning the loss of a day. A day that could have been spent in the moment, being fully present in life instead of worrying that the day is slipping by and nothing is being crossed of the list. I have learned my calendars are simple guidelines for each day meant only for the purpose of helping me stay organized.

I am learning to be flexible. To bend with the day as it twists and turns. To be thankful for whatever and wherever it ends up when my head rests on my pillow each night.

 

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

 

This is day nine in 31 one days of finding quiet in the chaos. To view the whole series click here.


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Easter 2012

The sadness overwhelms. Tears well. And I swallow down hard. Images swirl in my mind. Thrashing skin. Thorns entwined. Broken body. Nailed to a broken tree. The words “Father if you are willing, take this cup from me.”

He didn’t take the cup, instead Jesus drunk it down. He took it and swallowed down all the pain and suffering. Took the punishment. And breathed His last breath.

His Father watching close. Watching His Son beaten and bruised. Mocked. Nailed to that tree. I imagine hot tears poured from His eyes, burning as they fell. He felt the grief. I wonder if He thought for a moment to put an end to this. The suffering and just bring Him home. But He didn’t. Instead He turned away and let the ugly darkness be put to death once and for all. And in all His glory He overcame this world.

Jesus’ body lay in rest. His soul tormented. The punishment. My punishment. He suffered it.

The one so perfect and pure suffered, bled and died. Then lived in torment for me. Three days spent in hell. For me. This undeserving wretch. He did it out of His love for me.

And it is all glory.

For God so loves the world that He gave his only begotten Son,, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

And on that third day… He rose again.


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Thirty-one days Walking Through Darkness Day Twenty-five :: Moving Forward

I was clinging to the pain and sorrow. Because it was familiar. Because my thought was… if I let go of the pain, it meant letting go of my daddy and I was not going to do that. So I clung. But God could not let me stay there. He promises that over and over in His word. He was not going to leave me there.

On March 10, 2012, I saw this post by Jennifer of studiojru.com

20121028-085050.jpg

Photo courtesy of Studiojru.com

It wrecked me. It was if my daddy was talking straight through this photo. Reminding me of what he left behind for me. Those three songs. The words. That I needed to listen to them. Take them to heart and move forward. And that does not mean leaving him behind. Because he is always with me. Because Jesus took the nail. Because He redeemed us. Because eternity awaits. And this time here is just a blink.

This picture now sits among glass. Colored glass. Bottles. Vases. Some from my daddy, others I have found. A reminder of collecting glass when I was little. Walking the woods with my daddy. A reminder to keep moving. Pressing on toward the goal. And I am moving forward.

And God whispers, I’m here.
I am right here.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you.

Isaiah 43:2