altar.

and just like that, it’s been a month since i put pen to paper.

celebrating, packing, graduating, enjoying, cleaning, working, goodbying, wondering how the past four years could have flown and crawled by simultaneously and weren’t we just getting married and 20 years old and soaking up the lack of certainty in our future?  we work through piles of paper, of mother’s day out forms and insurance verifications and bills and gifts and cancellations and we hope that in the drudgery and constant upkeep of daily life there is meaning and something beyond. we assemble boxes and fill them full and give away whatever we can because this stuff of earth spins the head and muffles the heart and quenches the soul. we plan times with friends focused on “see you later” rather than the dreaded “goodbye” and find ourselves branded, imprinted, penetrated by the depth and breadth of impact we have had on each other. we think back to the moments in time before we entered these seminary housing walls and i realize how many of my thoughts, beliefs, hopes, dreams, realities have been shaped by the people who have breathed and struggled and lived within them alongside me and i wonder at the goodness of God and his provision through the body. i think of abby the newlywed, abby the (short-lived) seminary student, abby the working wife, abby the stay at home mom and i am hard-pressed to find a single evolution not shrouded in the evidence of God’s mercy and joy and kindness, and isn’t it beautiful to recognize that while we feel ourselves spinning in circles he is making our paths straight?

we have 8 days left in this apartment, the boxes and memories closing in on us and taking my breath away. dinner with dear friends at that table, the shock of a cancer diagnosis on that couch, a nursing newborn in that chair. coffee brewing on the counter, music beckoning from the record player, shower awakening us to days of school, work, play and where did all those weekends, semesters, holidays, plans go? we feel robbed yet overwhelmed with riches, left empty yet filled to the brim. we find ourselves anxious to move forward yet every friendship and memory leaves an imprint that during these heart-wrenching seasons feels ever so much like a break. this place has been a lifetime of learning and growth bottled up and pouring over and i’m not sure there will ever be words to describe. we grab hands and we mourn and we celebrate and we dance through the doors but let our hands linger at the knob a few moments longer, awash with remembrance and the hope that all we have become will be to His glory and for the people of God there is no true goodbye. He leads us on and links us together and in Him we live, we move, we have our being and we are one. what grace He must have to allow us lives of such feeling and fullness, impact and intimacy. may we never forget this place, building an altar in our hearts for all it has been and all that has been accomplished in His goodness. we give thanks, we rejoice and we carry on.

blood cries out.

Just a few hours ago, I re-blogged a post about the Gosnell atrocities by my dear, talented friend Chelsea Williams. I thought she said it so well that there was nothing left to say. It turns out that she did what the greatest writers always do, inspired thought and word that had to emerge. Here’s the product.

I’ve been trying to work for over an hour. Suddenly, I’ll realize I’m looking out the window, staring at Twitter, Gosnell, Gosnell, Gosnell pulsing in my mind. 

I am reminded of Jen Wilkin’s post the day of the Newtown slaughter. “Today is a day for hatred,” she wrote. As is today.

Today is a day for hatred. Not of any human being, but of death, of murder, of the sickness of our broken world. Today is a day for repentance. Today is a day for sackcloth and ashes. Today is a day for sitting in the darkness and craving the light. Today is a day for pleading with God on behalf of the exploited and lost and murdered. The blood of our brothers and sisters cries out to God from the ground and we must join their cry. My God, My God, why have we forsaken You.

I cannot read these articles without seeing my baby’s face. I will forever know the image of him the moment he was born…creature of life and struggle awash with blood and fluid and all things earthy and all things soul. Babe of need and hope and craving and body and want. I know what the cry of a newborn does to a heart and I know what the surge of hormones in the days and weeks to follow does to a mother. Exploitation does not begin to describe what has been so deceivingly, so despicably hidden in our own country that claims life and liberty, in our own world created by a perfect, holy God whom we have utterly rejected.

Fellow man, must we remind ourselves? We nourish life, we do not take it. We celebrate life, we do not eliminate it. We fight like madmen for human rights and when we are scorned and scoffed and mocked we scream louder because these are the ones declared to be made in the image of God. He rescues and redeems and our hearts rejoice with the Truth that He will make all things new. 

Today is a day for clinging to the gospel and today is a day for being a voice for those whose voice has been silenced, our hearts beating outside our chests for those whose hearts beat no more. We speak. We fight. We pray. We hope. This too shall be made right.

already condemned.

“I’m already condemned,” I quipped over coffee with a friend yesterday afternoon.

Another baby philosophy book opened, another first page leaving me awash in confusion, doubt and ridiculous concern that my child is perhaps already losing his chance for success because of my alleged errors in sleep training, feeding, wake time activities. I smiled as I joked with my friend, and I smile as I write this now because when my mind is clear and heart is right, I’m thankful for those books. I’m thankful for their perspective, however much of it I adopt as my own. I’m thankful that they point out ways I can help the babe grasp onto life for all it has to offer. I’m thankful for what they reveal about my own heart.

I’m already condemned.

A joke to a friend in one moment, a terrifying truth pulsing in my soul the next. The cost far greater than a full night’s sleep or a baby who loves vegetables, the standard far more strict than one doctor’s perspective or prescription for success.

I’m already condemned.

I hear it every day. In my head, in my heart, in the words of those around me. Gathered with women of God last night, we struggle and study Romans 8 and pray that we will be those who help others see, those who believe ourselves, that his grace is enough. That though we were condemned from conception, the shed blood of Christ, the victorious resurrection, the promise of new life, restoration, covenant, renewal has set us free from our bondage to decay. That though we were bound to the law, already condemned in light of its heart-baring requirements, stripped naked and shamed by its demands, Jesus stood in our place, stripped naked and shamed that we might be free. That we might live, breathe, move, take heart

In the same way that I could do nothing about my condemnation, I do nothing about my salvation.

He has made the way where there was no way. He has fulfilled the law, it culminates in Him. He has born our condemnation, it finds its end in Him. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He has stood in our place and declared victory over our sin, shame, death, depravity, hopelessness before the perfect standard, the perfect God. He has bought us with a price and we stand before the Holy One redeemed, unblemished, spotless, before we can utter a word, perform an action, obey a law.

The law my standard, already condemned.
The shed blood of Christ my plea, already redeemed. Already justified. Already holy. 

Nothing to Obey?

I feel the truth, the theme, the battle cry simultaneously burrowing deep in my soul and bursting through my veins to my skin’s very surface, “Here am I, Lord, send me.” It pulses through my body, hot, loud, fast, waiting for the response, the marching orders. Yet all is quiet. Where are the trumpets? Where is the loud gong of new beginnings, the gun at the starting line? Do you hear me, Lord? I’m ready. What do you want me to do?

Words read long ago creep up, up, up to the top, overpowering my attempts to shove them aside as I sneer at their simplicity.

“Sometimes there is nothing to obey and our only task is to maintain a vital connection with Jesus Christ, seeing that nothing interferes with it.” – Oswald Chambers

Nothing to obey? But I’m ready to go. I’m ready to work, to adopt, to serve, to ______.
Nothing to obey? But I’m available. Things are easier now. My baby is happy. My husband is on the seminary downhill slope (yes, dear friends, it actually exists). It’s go time.
Nothing to obey? But I’m prepared. I’ve read/am reading the books. I’ve had/am having the conversations. I’ve studied/am studying those who have gone before me.
Nothing to obey? But I’m…bored. I’m hungry for the excitement. I’m afraid of missing what He has for me.

There’s the rub.

The answer isn’t in the excitement. Victory is never birthed by fear. The true adventures don’t come to those who grasp for them. They come to those who wait.

Nothing to obey doesn’t mean that I sit here aimless. Nothing to obey means that I see what is in front of me, that I see who is in front of me. I love my husband, I love our son, I love our friends whose role in our life is rich and joyous and grand, and will soon change immensely as we all embark on new phases and dreams. Nothing to obey means that I don’t go looking for the next phase due to discontentment with the phase I find myself in, it means that I pray, I seek, I read, I study, I believe, I know that He will lead. I pause, I breathe, I make the pot of coffee and send the text and host the spontaneous moment. I close my mouth and open my ears and listen. I ignore the phone and lay on the floor and let 8 months of energy and curiosity wrapped up in a tiny boy give kisses and squeal and discover. I put aside my lists and computer desktop covered in stickies and create space to simply dream with my husband about our life together.  I research and ask and beg God on behalf of the orphan, the oppressed, the lost, the poor, the undervalued and trust that He will make my path straight and lead me to them, in His timing.

Nothing to obey? I will love the Lord my God. I will love my neighbor. I will wait.

This post was inspired by many things, including:

Dr. Mark Young’s Plenary Sessions at Dallas Theological Seminary WEC Week 2013
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Stuck in the Doldrums: An Attack Plan by Jen Hatmaker

pilot

I’m not sure what I’m doing here. This blog, this season of life, this place in the world, this mission.

I read and I write and I wonder why my soul needs to create when my mind is confident that there is nothing new under the sun and typically believes that I merely add to the noise. I draw inspiration, I draw scribbles on a page, I draw conclusions too quickly and I fight for logic, meaning and reason and simultaneously urge my mind to slow itself down and recognize the beauty and chaos that comes with the abstract. I look at how my life has been transformed as the months have whipped by, charging ahead with a graceless fury beyond control and unapologetic. Less than five years — marriage, college graduation, first jobs, a summer abroad, seminary, cancer, baby, life a blur and love engrained and there really is so much more than I’m able to say that I hesitate to say it at all.

I put pen to paper because millennia past tell of freedom, of clarity, of metamorphosis found in thoughts unchained from cerebral captivity. Perhaps each post will stitch a thread of calm into a mind that races, races, races and often forgets that the brakes offer themselves up to be applied, to help, to provide relief. The brakes that are all too often only used when nothing else will do, when rest is the only option because fatigue or hunger or fear or sadness will allow for nothing else. The brakes that should have been, that could have been applied 1000 miles, 100 days, 10 experiences ago and provided refreshment rather than finding themselves screeching to a halt, exhausting themselves in the effort to relieve my exhaustion with immediacy.

Finally, I can hear the whisper.

He has made me glad.

My heart rejoices with the Truth because the Truth is that He has come and I am free and life is full and death will die. My mind can rest because I am adopted and His name is my name and His holiness is my holiness and not my will but His be done. My soul sprouts wings and flies because He is near and the Spirit dwells within and in His presence is joy everlasting. My very being has essence because there is joy woven deep in the marrow of my bones and I could not have put it there because death and fear and apathy and hatred have been the mantra of my soul from conception and He has imputed His righteousness where there was none to be found. He made a way where there was no way. He is sacrifice and conqueror and resurrection and to Whom shall I go if not with Him?

So I stand upon the Rock and touch my toes to the water, I wrestle with the Man and will not let go without a blessing. I will know Him. I will crave Him and wonder at the mystery that He both creates the craving in me and fulfills it. I will touch my fingers to the keys and trust that He is in the business of making something out of nothing and surrender to the Christ who stands in the gap, the Christ who is our peace. Let it be so.