Thursday, January 29, 2009
If you missed last Friday's love letter, click here.
I hope you enjoy this week's letter.
My sin overshadows me.
Like a thick cloak, my shame wraps around me and forbids forgiveness to enter. The weight of it growing heavier with each step, I tread through the garden looking for you, and avoiding you at the same time.
I did not mean to take it as far as I did. The provocation of such a thing seems childish now that it’s behind me. But, the crowd, my Lord. What was I to do? Not defend you?
They did not believe me. The explanation for the glow of my skin, the smile upon my lips, and the light-hearted way in which I now walk. They heralded me with accusations of being bewitched by an unholy incantation, for only that would cause such a change within me.
I told them, my Lord. I told them about you, and about our garden. I left no detail out as I dictated your love in insufficient prose. I tried to explain the part of me that is alive because of you, but they would not listen.
They threw slurs around like poisonous darts that penetrated my soul, and darkened my heart. “It is all in your mind.” They yelled. “A lie of your making used to belittle us. You are no better than we are.”
They are right. I thought, I am no better than any of you. And to some, I am less than that.
Their accusations turned to counsel and their counsel became my beliefs. In an instant, I believed in their version of your truth. As the crowd dissipated, I stood alone. Tears of frustration welled in my eyes. How could I have been so wrong? Shedding my hope, I laid plans to return to my old life. To once again become that which I fought so hard to forget. For, in my mind, it was the only place I could find solace.
At first, I wasn’t sure I heard it.
Princess, come to me.
The tears that filled my eyes now spilled down my face. My head bowed, I ran towards your garden. Yes, the garden. How could I believe another above you?
Now, walking in our sacred place, I feel the weight of my shame from being so easily persuaded from the truth. My heart, bubbling over with love for you, fears the reprimand that should come, and the sadness that will fill your eyes when you look at me. It is almost too much to bear.
My feet saunter down the path toward the willow tree that stands alone in front of your lake. Head bowed, staring at the broken bedrock, my arms swing mindlessly by my sides in cadence with my footsteps. Intermittent tears trickle to the ground.
From the corner of my eye, a shadow joined me along the path. Footsteps, now audible, fell in rhythm with mine. And, as my arm swung back behind me, your hand grabbed mine and interlaced your fingers into my fingers.
My momentum slowed as we strolled, hand-in-hand, along the path towards the lake.
We stopped at the water’s edge and, fearing the calm before the storm, I braced for your anger. Instead, you smiled. Stepping behind me, you wrapped your arms around my shoulders and pulled me back into your chest.
Your lips brushed my ear as you whispered, “No matter how much you doubt, Princess, I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are mine and mine alone. Call upon me dear one…..I will always answer.”
Your words stung. But just as salve stings before it soothes, your words brought healing as well. My cloak of shame was ripped from me and thrown to the wind. Peace infiltrated my mind and body as I lay engulfed in the security of your embrace.
Under the willow tree by the water’s edge, we stood until the sun was tucked beneath the horizon. And, I wished I could have stayed there forever.
May I never doubt your love again.
Your enraptured servant.
“…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
Written as individual first person letters, you feel as though you have stumbled across a young woman’s account of an age-old love affair.
My prayer is that, as you unravel the mystery behind the letters, you’ll discover there’s a King waiting to start a love affair with you.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Recently, my family went on vacation to our favorite recreational spot. Disney World!
Last week, I shared pics of the golden chariot that carried me around the park. (For those who are just stopping by I have a disability. You can read about it by clicking here.)
This week, I have to give Disney major kudos for their new ride Toy Story Mania inside their Hollywood Studios park.
This ride is so much fun. It's a 3D virtual reality tour de force of carnival games.
(Sorry I don't have better pictures. We were so taken by the decor, we forgot to snap more pics)
The cart sits four people (two on each side) and each person has their own popper gun. The cart twists and turns along a track, stopping in front of wall size TV screens that flash up differnt carnival games such as shoot the swimming ducks, or hit the plates with arrows. And, it's all in 3D thanks to the beautiful yellow glasses they make you wear. Your goal....to get a high score. Of course, my husband won. But, there's always next time.
Now, I must digress.
The ride was fun, yes. But, there were two other things about this ride that made it a memorable experience.
One, Disney pulled out all the stops in designing this ride where the handicapped are concerned. The thing that stood out the most....No one had to wait on disabled guests to load into a cart. We were on a completely separate loading dock. A cart would leave the main drag, enter our loading dock and could be disassembled to accomodate even the bulkiest of wheelchairs. Once the person is loaded, the cart finds its way back to the main track and off it goes. For me, this is awesome. I hate making people wait just because I move slower than everyone else. Man, that stresses me out! However, on Toy Story, I could be as slow as I needed to be, and no one was put out. Loved it!!
Two, Zach. This begs explanation. You see, the Toy Story ride is new. Therefore, the line was LONG. My kids and waiting do not go very well together and if they have to stand in line for more than five minutes they get bored, which leads to straight out goofiness.
Regan, being a climber, decided it was a good idea to scale the metal poles. She continued to do this even after the Disney worker asked her not to climb. Yes, that's our girl. Inevitably, she fell and hit her mouth on the pole. Crying ensued, Mommy consoled and Zach entered the picture.
Oblivious to me there was another family behind us. However, it wasn't Mommy or Daddy that had the disability; it was there son, Zach. He was maybe two years older than Regan and he had Down Syndrome.
As I sat in my scooter with Regan in my lap, her head buried in my chest, Zach moved around and stood in front of us. With compassion in his eyes, he began stroking the back of Regan's hair. When she turned her head towards him, he leaned in and gave her a big bear hug and asked if she was okay.
Immediately, Regan's tears dried and we spent the next fifteen minutes getting to know Zach.
I was almost sad when we loaded into the cart and said bye only to find that Zach and his Mom loaded into the cart behind us and (due to the logistics of the carts) Regan and Zach faced each other for most of the ride. So, instead of these two preschoolers shooting the wall sized TV screens, they instead shot each other and when the popguns didn't seem to work, they made faces and laughed.
After the ride was over, Zach came and hugged Regan and kissed her on the cheek. We said goodbye and never saw him again.
Long lines are not always fun and can bring about many frustrations, but this line held a gift and I was happy they we were the family that unwrapped it.
Stay tuned as this Friday we will have another Love Letter and Monday will hold the next installment in Mary's Journal. And, next Wednesday, I may have to share the vacation inside the vacation....carrot cake cookies. Hmmmmm.
Monday, January 26, 2009
“Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:36-37 NIV
May the Lord resurrect in your life that which you thought to be lost for He has not forgotten the God-given dreams of your heart. For when you least expect it, you will find that nothing is impossible with God.
Friday, January 23, 2009
I saw myself today.
My shame stood between us. Your silence suffocated me and my heart felt as though it would shatter.
Instead of my reflection, I saw old turn new. Darkness invaded by light. And, fear dispelled by truth. Drawn into the crystal, I watched images of my life replayed before me only this time I saw you etched into the picture.
“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and a bride adorns herself with jewels.” Isaiah 61:10 NIV
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I must admit though, if you’re kicking it handicap style, Disney is the place to do it. Check out the Disney bus that transports guests from the resorts to the parks.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Please enjoy the latest Love Letter to the King for a couple more days.
I'll be back on Wednesday with some whimiscal posts from our family vacation; a new Letter on Friday and back to Mary's Journal on Monday.
Hope you had a great weekend.
Friday, January 16, 2009
The darkness has overtaken me.
The gloom of it pierces my heart and poisons my soul and I fear I can bear no more. And, I wonder, how do I know the sun will rise, my Lord? How do I know this darkness will flee from me?
For I fear it is a nebulous dark that arises from the underworld and threatens to destroy me.
It’s as if death itself has rested upon me for I am cloaked in shadows that have no beginning or end. I am lost amidst a black abyss that drips from my skin and springs forth eternal sorrow.
Here, on the path that runs through the middle of our garden, do I sit hugging my knees to my chest. I rock back and forth, physically willing the hands of time to quicken and bring the light of day sooner, but they do not. Instead, the broken rocks imbedded in the path bite my skin to the point of bleeding so that tears of pain join my tears of sadness as they waterfall off my cheeks.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This is Ella.
She was a gift this past November and I’d like to take the opportunity to say thank you to the giver.
I love cats. However, my husband hates cats. About every six months over the last seven years, I have asked if we could have a cat and the answer has always been NO. End of story.
Having played every angle, including the “but the kids really want a cat”, I had come to terms with never having a cat. But, then one fateful Thursday afternoon my inbox was infiltrated with an email profiling an abandoned cat who was in need of a home. My heartstrings were once again pulled.
Being that it was way too late in the afternoon to ask my husband about the cat (as his nerves would already be shot from a long stressful day at the office) I decided to wait until the next morning.
Friday came and I sent my husband off to work, made sure he arrived safely and then I popped the question.
Forwarding the original cat email, I asked if we could give this abandoned kitty a second chance. I even added a smiley face for added sentiment.
To my absolute surprise my husband said “yes”.
After making sure he was serious, I had that cat signed, sealed and delivered within thirty minutes. I couldn’t believe it. We had a cat.
Later that afternoon when my husband arrived home from work I asked him why he changed his mind after all these years. His response, “I didn’t have a choice.”
He recounted the story that during his bible study meeting the previous Tuesday, God spoke to his heart and told him to get me a cat. He’d been wracking his brain all week trying to figure out how to surprise me with a cat when I forwarded the email to him.
The funny part of the story….this cat is identical to a cat I had in my childhood that was unfairly taken away from me. This cat from the past was just one of many things taken away from me as a child. God had long since promised restoration and has delivered on many accounts, but now he is delivering on finite details. As He has restored a favorite pet.
Ella has made a wonderful addition to our family and is a constant reminder of God’s restorative power. So thank you Lord for your gift. And thank you to my husband for being obedient.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Today, I sing.
I sing a song that is mine and mine alone. Walking towards Elizabeth’s house, the path is deserted. But instead of loneliness I find peace, and so I sing.
There is a joy inside my soul.
And, it threatens to control the very essence of who I am.
I am nothing. I am something. I am yours and yours alone.
My God. Precious God. To you am I thankful.
For this gift that you have given me.
To the one placed inside of me. My thoughts are always of you.
I dream of who you are and what you will do.
Will you change the world? I know that you will. But how and when escapes me.
My thoughts they do betray me. For I fear that which will come for you.
I fear what wants to destroy you.
My baby. Small one kept secret for now.
You’re safe, you’re growing, tucked away from the world.
Baby of mine and yet, I am yours. For my heart already bears the scars of loving you.
Jesus. I’ll call you Jesus. The name bestowed upon you by God himself.
What plans he has for you? What meaning shall come from your name?
Will the world love or hate you? I’m haunted by these questions whose answers I know not. But today, you are mine. Kept safe within me.
Yes, safe within me.”
This is the song within my heart Lord. Today, I release it to you. As I walk towards my cousin’s house, I feel as though I am walking towards destiny for at this point there is no going back.
With each step that I take, the song in my heart grows louder. Perhaps it will grow so loud it will drown my fears and yet the grand noise of it shall betray my secret to Elizabeth. And, I fear what she will think of me. Will she believe my story? Though I am sure that he cannot, I wonder if Gabriel could go before me and tell my story that I may not have to explain this mystery.
I think that I shall not tell her.
For now is a time of rejoicing over the child that she is carrying. A miracle child in and of itself. Yes, today I will rejoice with Elizabeth.
But, this song. It threatens to consume me. I do believe my secret is written all over my face Lord, that I shall not be able to keep it no matter how hard I try. For, how can one hide the great mystery that is you.
Oh Lord, I promised to trust in you and you alone. Pave the way before me and be sure to hold my hand. For I go to rejoice and care for my cousin. I pray she will rejoice with me as well.
“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:3 NIV
The song of the Lord is as springs of living water and when the song is uttered it releases waves of healing restoration for your soul. So, regardless of circumstance, regardless of all that is around you, release your song unto the Lord.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Sweeping the front step of my employer’s store, surrounded by a dust cloud perpetuated by a dry land, dispassionate villagers care not that they knock me to and fro.
My day’s chores seem unending and unrewarded.
I want to escape. To run into the presence of the one who breathes life upon my soul. But the dust did not only shield me from view. It darkened you from my mind as well.
I tried to daydream of you, to find happiness amidst the mockery of hope, but the dream did not come. Your image faded as if covered beneath the debris of my brokenness. For a moment, I thought I would not find you, that maybe I had never
found you. Sorrow filled my heart and tears burst forth.
But I cannot forget our garden, my Lord. And so, at the end of the day, I left the village. Tears washing the dirt from my face, I walked towards you.
My shoes were filled with gravel and, with every step, bit the soles of my feet. My sweat soaked garment clung to my body. Wiping my brow, the closeness of my own bed in the village brought more solace than the journey to your garden, but I pressed on.
By the time I arrived, the sun was dipping just below the horizon, casting shadow upon the wrought iron gate.
Tranquility spilled forth as an intangible cloud that engulfed my body and nurtured my soul. The celestial twilight penetrated my spirit, renewing me from the inside. You were there. I could feel you.
Although the evening’s air began to cool, my skin was feverish. Nearing the gate, I let go my shawl allowing it to slip from my shoulders, down my back and onto the ground. Two steps before entering I pulled the slip knot from my hair, shaking the dust from my locks and letting them cascade down my back. I stepped out of my shoes and left them at the foot of the gate before entering your garden.
Leaving the path, I stepped barefooted onto the chilled grass. With each step, the coarse blades scrubbed the dirt from the soles of my feet. The night air dried my dress until it lay loose around me.
The cicadas serenaded the evening sky and the garden erupted in dance. I could do nothing but join in. My arms lifted and pulled my torso from side to side. Reaching towards the earth, I skimmed my fingers along the blades of grass before leaping into the air and throwing my hands towards heaven. Twirling, I joined the garden in rhythm and song until my lungs hurt from the sting of inhaling too much cold air too quickly.
Pausing to catch my breath, I saw you in the distance. Barely making out your silhouette, the only aspect of your darkened figure evident was the smile upon your face. You were watching me.
With one foot in front of the other, I bowed towards you. For you, my Lord, are the true joy that invades my heart and sets my foot to dance.
Your enraptured servant
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalms 30:11-12 (NIV)
Dance, sing and rejoice in the one who sees you no matter your circumstance. And know, his refreshing is for evermore.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Yesterday, my daughter changed her own diaper.
It occurs to me that this is a sign of her readiness to potty train, and yet I cringe at the very thought of it.
I am no good at potty training. Why do I say I am not good at it? Because I know that I am not good at it.
For instance, we tried the immersion method with Squeaker (our daughter) once before. We bought her underwear of her choice and announced the special day that would be potty training day.
Squeaker proudly wore her underwear and sat on the potty every 20 minutes for about two hours with no success. Considering all the juice she had been drinking, I knew we would need to “go” at any minute so I was trying to watch her closely. But, the minutes ticked by and I got distracted.
Squeaker climbed into a dinette chair and sat down for lunch. She took a bite of her food and released her bladder all in one simultaneous motion. I yelled, “Squeak, you’re wet.”
With a bit of sandwich hanging out of her mouth, she climbed out of her chair, swooshed her hand across the seat spraying pee all over the floor, shook her hand off, climbed back into the chair and resumed eating.
After we washed everything, the diapers came back into being.
Now, this in itself is not enough to scare me out of potty training. No, this is a small blip on the radar. The real root of fear was planted with our first born.
Enter Bug, our son.
At 2 years of age, we tried everything with him. Nothing worked. He simply did not want to go on the potty, so I let it go.
One day, I took Squeaker (who was still in an infant carrier) and Bug to meet a friend and her kids at the library. As we walked into the lobby, Bug announced his immediate need to use the potty.
I was speechless. I looked at my friend for guidance.
“Well, you have to take him.” She said.
“But, I don’t have the diaper bag.”
So, leaving Squeaker with her, I ran Bug to the nearest restroom yelling all the way, “Hold it son, hold it, we’re almost there, hold it!”
Into the restroom and into a stall we went. Now mind you, I had to carefully remove the diaper so we could reuse it as I had nothing with me. Careful not to touch the inside of the diaper to the dirty floor, I laid it on the ground. And of course I’m yelling all the while “Hold it son, no don’t touch that…no, don’t put your hand in the water….Son! Just wait on me.”
Finally, I get the boy on the potty and he says, “Oh, I don’t have to go.”
You don’t have to go? Boy, you better squeeze something out.
Trying to win the good mommy of the year award, I bite my tongue….lift Bug carefully off the potty seat, replace old diaper and re-dress him. It was sometime during this process that a strange image flashed across my mind. What was that weird thing on the wall by the sinks.
That’s when it hit me. That’s right. It was a urinal.
Okay, I say to myself, this is a bad dream. That wasn’t a urinal. We really are in the right restroom. Just in case we’ll sneak…….
Nope. No sneaking. At this point someone turned on the water and started to wash their hands. I was cornered and Bug was getting antsy.
Out of the stall we walk only to be caught like a deer in headlights in the glare of a man whose expression could only be described as “Oh dear Lord, I am going to jail!”
The worst part is, he started looking around to make sure he wasn’t in the wrong restroom.
Now, you would think I would quickly slink out of the restroom, leave the library and never step foot in there again. But, you have to understand that I am very OCD and my 2 year old had just touched a toilet. We had to wash our hands. So, standing at the sink, next to the man, I wash my son’s hands and apologize profusely trying to plead my case.
“He had to go.” I said.
The man finished washing his hands and backed his way out of the restroom, never taking his eyes off of us.
With head bowed in disgrace, I exited the restroom to the sounds of my friend’s hysterical laughter.
So yes, potty training is terrifying and with child #2 ready to take the potty plunge, I grit my teeth and pray that at least part of my dignity remains intact after the ensuing battle.
Monday, January 5, 2009
My hands are still sweating. Favored one. Me? Favored for what I must ask.
I still do not fully understand. If my heart could be anymore torn it might break in half. Joy and fear threaten to battle for occupation of my mind and I’m not sure which will win.
Favored one. Me?
Can tears fall from happiness and terror? Can one tear drown fate and another spring life? For my tears deceive me and they know not why they fall. In my pillow do I allow my tears to soak through like a bloodstained cloth. For one moment I am at peace and the next torment.
Favored one. Me?
His light was so bright. The one you call Gabriel. Heavenly to be sure for none could possess such a light source and be of this earth for he emanated that which could only be replicated by the sun itself and yet, it did not burn me. No, his presence was cool, peaceful, like a babbling brook whose source evades all capture. His words were soothing as silk coursing against one’s skin and yet they were loud as if rattling around the inside of a great cavern. My heart ached in his presence and I could not doubt he was sent by you, my Lord.
But, favored one. Me?
Am I not a poor peasant girl? Simple in all manners and ways? For today, I was doing nothing much of consequence. Nothing that would stand out to anyone of importance, but tonight…your angel. Gabriel. I fear my life has changed forever. I fear what tomorrow holds.
But, I will trust in the one who holds my tomorrow.
For I know You, my Lord. I have followed your ways and trusted your heart. I sought you in all things and believed you in all things. Why now, upon such great evidence, should I stop? No, I shall not for You are mightier than the sword, stronger than all that would test my faith. No, my Lord, I shall not leave you now.
Now, I will trust you all the more.
Bestow upon me what you will, my Lord. May it be to me as the angel has said.
“For nothing is impossible with God. ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’” Luke 1:37-38
I pray that you see yourself the way God sees you. For you are not forgotten or unnoticed. You are not “poor” in the sight of the Lord. No, you are favored. You are a daughter of the King and nothing is impossible with God. Trust in him. Throw all cares on him and today seek God for the purpose of your life for He is ready to bestow your destiny upon you.
*author's note: This Mary's journal is similar to the original one in Dec however, this new revised version is the first official journal entry for the "Mary's journal" devotionals. Hope you enjoy.
Friday, January 2, 2009
The day behind me had been difficult. My work seemed unyielding and it warranted no merit. I laid my head to rest but sleep eluded me even in the darkened hour.
Restless, I drifted between our world and the one where dreams come to life. But my dreams could not keep me.
Immersed in Cimmerian shadows I left my bed and entered your garden. I knew you would not be there until the sun broke through the darkness and yet I had to come. In my malcontent, I needed to feel the remnant of your presence. To stand where I knew your foot had stood. To touch the smooth bark of the willow upon which you often rest your hand. I needed you. So, I waited.
The shroud of darkness screamed in my ears and yet, I thought I heard the approach of footsteps. I tried to turn but your hands took hold of my shoulders and squared my body in its place. Your grasp was firm. I was captive to your embrace.
“My Lord, are you not pleased to find me waiting?”
Your hand left my shoulder and covered my lips. Your skin was not smooth as it had been before. Calluses scraped my lower lip and an earthy malodorous smell filled my nose. I laid back into your chest hoping my submission would ease your grip, but you moved your other hand across my chest and held me closer than before. The stubble of your unshaven chin bit into my cheek. And your voice….
“Why do you love him?”
My breath was arrested within me, threatening to take my life.
“Why can you not love me?”
“You are not my King.”
“No. But, I should be for I can offer you so much more.”
The spittle of his words wet the inside of my ear. I could no longer hear the garden. I could only hear his filth and I was unwillingly intoxicated. Like filling my veins with poison, he purred his promises from a forked tongue masking all that I loved from view.
The muffled sound of a whimpering heart was all that was audible from my lips. My thoughts crying out for the only one whose love could break his hold.
The sun crept over the horizon and the lake danced in its presence. The scales of the arm that held me at bay turned to flesh in the glow of the sun.
Like a warrior riding in from the distance, the light flooded the garden and again I heard the approach of footsteps.
“Let her go, Lord Viroth. She is not yours to hold.”
His hand left my mouth and his embrace released. Curses slip past his lips as we turned to face the King.
You towered in front of him, the sun illuminating your face so that it hurt my eyes. Your arm outstretched towards me and I ran into your embrace.
“Leave us Viroth and do not be so quick as to come back again.”
With your words still lingering in the air, Lord Viroth disappeared into unnatural shadow.
I buried myself within your grasp. The gentleness of your touch renewed my strength. The brush of your finger across my lips healed the scrapes of my captivity.
“Forgive me my Lord, for in my weakness I thought he was you.”
Your lips buried within my hair, you kissed the top of my head. “Know only me Princess for what I offer cannot be duplicated.”
I will know you King. I will seek you always and in your embrace will I find refuge.
Your enraptured servant.
May you know the heart of the King and the voice of the one who loves you for in his embrace you will find refuge and peace for your soul.
“For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life; in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. In your unfailing love, silence my enemies; for I am your servant.” Psalms 143:11, 12 (NIV)