Category Archives: love

A Wedding Dance with Redemption . . .

 

My eldest son got married two weeks ago. It was a grand affair. Quaint. Intimate. On a mountain and in the company of family and friends. I thought a lot about my son that day while sitting next to his father in our designated, front pew. We had the best seat in the house, but then again, in sharing life with this extraordinary twenty-five-year-old man we call “son”, we’ve always had the best seat in the house. What a privilege to watch him grow over the years and to witness him standing before his bride and speaking his oath to love her for the rest of his earthly days. It’s a day I won’t forget, one that sows deeply into the soil of my heart and that heralds a grand “hallelujah” for the grace that has passed ahead, within, and behind us, low these many years.

It takes a lot of grace to grow a boy into a man. Our story is no exception. In fact, our story begs for grace, has relied upon grace to get us to this season in our lives – a day when two parents, who once made those same sacred vows to one another only later to break them, were able to sit side-by-side and celebrate the child born out of their love. You can imagine the baggage that I carried into that chapel two weeks ago, the internal wrestlings that were begging to take the stage. But it wasn’t a day for baggage and wrestlings. It was a day for grace and for making peace with a past that I cannot change but, instead, can honor for the fruit that has blossomed despite my disobedience.  

This was and continues to be my wedding dance with redemption, when the past works for me instead of against me. When the glass is less dim and more transparent. When I can see clearly through the brokenness to gather up some wholeness. When the Groom extends his hand and his heart in my direction and repeats the oath he spoke to me in the past saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.

I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.

Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.

Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit.” (Jeremiah 31:3-5)

This is my “again” . . . again – one of the many agains I have known because of the mercy-filled, extended hand of my Groom, Jesus Christ. His love is timeless, knows no boundaries, and never tires of the grace-dance. Instead, his love is ready.

Ready to draw me in.

Ready to rebuild me.  

Ready to re-teach me the sacred melody.

Ready to sow within me the seeds of eternity.

Christ’s love is ready, and Christ’s love is enough to carry any broken and burdened soul through to present wholeness. He loves his bride, and his oath is his word. No sin and no shame are a match for his strong affection and sacred affirmation. Love wins the day, and the Groom takes his Bride.

A wedding dance with redemption. The grace-dance with the Redeemer. My dance. Your dance. God’s dance.

Won’t you take hold of his hands, friends, and take hold of your tambourines? The music’s been cued. The wine’s been poured. And the Groom has given you his word . . .  

This is for forever.

Hallelujah! Amen. So be it. As always . . .

 

Peace for the journey,

dancing in the car . . .

Tonight we danced in the car.

Never mind the two kids in the back of the van or the fact that we were driving in six lanes of traffic. When the song hit the airwaves, our hearts were immediately fastened on one another and on the reality that is ours to hold.

Deep love. A love that carries burdens and holds on for the rest of the story. I imagine it’s what we do best, how we’ve made this work. We carry and we hold despite the odds that are forever trying to isolate our hearts from one another.

Never more have we needed this holding love. The current of life is swiftly (and sometimes harshly) pulling us along, and there are days when the waters rush over us with the force of Niagara. Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in this craziness called right now. It’s in those times . . . a right now kind of time, when we need a song like this one. A favorite country music melody that allows us to dance in the car – touching hands and crying tears and making a choice, once again, to hold on to the rest of our story.

I’ve long since given up trying to predict the lines of our upcoming chapters. But every now and again, I dream a little with my man. I remember our way back then and think forward regarding our up and coming, and find myself exceedingly tender about and grateful for the right now.

Right now?

Well, right now we take a pause, take a hand, and take a moment to dance in the car. Just like we did on that night so many nights ago when his long locks captured my fancy and his fancy footwork stepped on my toes a time or two. We’ve come a long way since our first barn dance, and I imagine we’ve a few more turns around the dance floor before the lights go down. At least this is where my dreaming takes me tonight.

I love the way he loves me, and I love the song that allows us a dance in the car from time to time.

Keep dancing with the ones you love, friends. Keep holding on to one another. Your rest of the story just may be the best of your story. I’ll meet you on the dance floor.

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when love makes sense . . .

Life is a journey; love is a dance.

So she sings to us as we snake our way down I-40, making the trek back home. I hold his hand as we mark those miles through Appalachia, knowing that he is my home—the place where I feel safe and where the embers still burn with hope. When nothing else makes sense, when the world goes crazy and loses its grip on reality, my husband’s still doing the dance. Still taking the lead. Still holding me close and releasing me just enough to allow me my twirl, only to pull me back in so that I wind up back in the place where I began. Where I belong. Safely in his arms.

Oh that all of life would feel as safe as this—a long, winding road filled with love and hope and twirls that land us safely and certainly back to the place of our belonging. All of life can feel like this . . . can be this—a love dance through the mountains. But every now and again, the dance is interrupted, drowned out by the cacophony of noises that slow the pace and cripple the stride.

Those are the times when we must pull away, friends, and gather love closely to us so that we might remember and know for certain that all has not been lost in the night.

 

Love remains. Dances are still possible, and all of life is a journey.

Through a mountain.

Marking the miles, one after the other, on the road toward home.

The embers still burn with hope. How I pray you feel their warmth this day. As always . . .

Peace for the journey,

when God speaks a “something” over you…

“. . . the word of the LORD tested him.” –Psalm 105:19

Sometimes he tells me. Sometimes keeping it inside pins him down . . . pushes him down where the pain hurts deeply and the tears flow easily. Sometimes the world slams cruelly and unfairly into him, moving him to the outer edges of what’s reasonable. Sometimes it’s just too much. Last night was one of those times.

And so he told me . . . laid down beside me, took my hand and shared with me the deepest ache of his heart.

 “Elaine, I can’t give in to this despair. Even when I want to, I can’t, because I believe that at any moment, on any given day, God might show me that something I’ve been waiting to see. And if I give in to despair, I’ll miss it–God’s something. And baby, I don’t want to miss it. I don’t want you to miss it either, so I’ll keep holding on for both of us.”

And then I broke, lying there beside my man. Hand in hand. Hearts aching together. Hearts longing for, looking for, and believing in that something . . . God’s something. A something spoken over our lives a season ago that brought us to this place, this space, this dot on the map named ministry.

A long time ago, there was a boy on the verge of manhood, a seventeen-year-old dreamer named Joseph (see Genesis 37-40). God, too, spoke a something into his heart. A dream or two about taking the lead, about rising to the occasion, about being the man in a season yet to come. What incredible privilege to hold such holy affirmation, confirmation in one’s heart—to be told in advance that you’ll be needed, you’ll be trusted, you’ll be used by God in a mighty way! Joseph’s dreams were far grander than his reality, and to pack all that truth inside his heart only to be cruelly taunted by that truth . . . for years? Well, lesser men would have given in to their despair, would have wilted under confinement, and would have stopped anticipating God’s greater move . . . God’s grander something.

But Joseph wasn’t a lesser man. Neither is my man. Both of them, God’s men—God’s appointed leadership despite a long season of taunts to the contrary. Like Joseph, my husband is a man willing to believe in a dream and to keep his feet and faith planted on the path that will move him closer to seeing that dream become a reality, even when that path feels like a dead-end.

There are no dead-ends with God. Only living ones. Living-ends with the Lover and Creator of our souls. The dreams that God breathes into our hearts, the plans that he has for us, the thoughts that he thinks toward us, well, they are holy. Consecrated. Truthful. Enduring. God’s dreams for our lives arrive with a pulse and with a promise—that he who began a very good and gracious work inside of us will be faithful to see it through to completion (Phil. 1:6). Dreams that begin and end there—with God—are dreams that cannot be thwarted, only anticipated.

And so, today, my man anticipates. With one hand, he grips the dream—God’s something—and with the other hand, he grips me. He pulls me toward anticipation . . . toward the dream, and I am swallowed up by the quicksand of his faith. I’m drawn into it, immersed in the raw and gritty determination of the dream, and that which began as a great pain in my husband’s heart last night has transformed into a great strength for both of us this day. Once again, we give our hearts and our hands to this place, this space, this dot on the map named ministry.

Today just might be the day when the dream awakens to reality. I don’t want to miss it should it arrive. As always…

Peace for the journey,
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PS: Many thanks to all of you for entering the give-away. Unfortunately, only two winners this go around, and they are… Jane Babich and Kathie! Ladies, please contact me with via e-mail with your mailing information. Jane, I don’t have any contact info for you. Thanks.

Beginning Days… {the ocean is still free}

Beginning Days… {the ocean is still free}

 

The ocean is still free. So I said to myself this past weekend while spending a few days on the shores of the Atlantic.

The ocean is still free. Free to roam. Free to breathe. Free to birth. Free to be.

Mankind has tried to control it, has sloppily put its fingerprints into it, but mankind has been unable to stop it. Freely the tide rolls in; freely it retracts. The ocean keeps a pace all its own, unwilling to cede ownership to anyone but its Creator. The ocean knows to Whom it belongs. The ocean remembers its beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” –Genesis 1:1-2

Beginning days. God, darkness, and deep waters. Indeed, the ocean remembers its beginning. Do you remember yours?

” —the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. … But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” –Genesis 2:7, 20-25

Beginning days. God, dust, breath, man.

Beginning days. God, man, rib, woman.

Beginning days. God, man, woman, one flesh.

a beautiful momen to watch taking place… just God, the preacher, man, woman, and a couple of curious on-lookers

 

Life was simpler back then, in those beginning days. Life was perfect. Life was, as God meant for it to be.

But then, life changed. Less perfect. Less edenic. Confused and greatly burdened by sin’s curse. Somewhere between those beginning days and these days… our days, life got very messy and our remembrances of Eden mostly forgotten. And when Eden is forgotten—when beginning understanding and truth are traded in for modern day theory—then our nakedness no longer matters. We no longer notice it; instead, we’re hell-bent on exposing it… all in the name of personal freedom.

But this isn’t freedom, friends. This is bondage. This is being chained to our flesh, and this is when we find ourselves in grave danger of missing the great point of our lives—to surrender our flesh over to faith and back into the hands of the One who created it… in the beginning. To not allow our flesh to master us but, instead, to master our flesh through the blood-stained covering of Christ’s cross and through the transformational work of the Holy Spirit’s willing presence and power in our lives. This is freedom… God’s way. This is why the ocean is still free. The ocean is still willing to let God be in control.

The ocean is still free because the ocean has not forgotten its beginning. We would do well not to forget ours.

Peace for the journey,
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