December 31, 2011

for a new day

written Dec31/2011

to watch a bird’s first flight
to laugh with sheer delight
to grasp measures of grace
to find a hiding place
to sing life’s quiet song
to live the whole day long
to rest in pastures green
to trust in the unseen
to run and, yes, to stumble
to know and greet the humble
to love and sacrifice
to pay an honest price
to wash each other’s feet
to bless each one we meet
to care for those who mourn
to take heed not to scorn
to share; to best provide
to walk side by side
to grasp all that we know
to give so we can grow

November 16, 2011

this is home

'this is home' 
- written nov.15/2011

this is a call, cry, voice, plea
my petition and my decree
this is the voice in my head 
and the heart on my sleeve
its the Love that i seek 
and the way that i’m weak
and the ways i don’t know 
and the tantrums i throw
this is a song, life, gift, dream
my path, my eyes, my fidelity 
where my cup overflows
where a heart’s beauty shows
where the lost find a home
and a truth clearly shown 
welcomed in, unprepared
you meet Love, aren’t scared
this is a fire, light, joy, fear
my hope, my heart, my darling, my dear. 
this is the way we cry 
this is to no goodbyes
this is for questioning why
this is the reasons we lie
this is a plan to be free
this is a joy, plain to see
this is home. 

November 10, 2011

lamb talk

I want to be able to say "for eternity all my heart will give all the glory to Your name"... and I think eternity, for me, has to start now.

'you hold me now.' 'no hiding'.

My favourite new thought is not really a new thought but one as old as I am. My name, Rachel, means innocent lamb. If you've met me, initially, a gentle lamb may not be the first thing that comes to mind. I've said before, and it's true, if I'm dishonest enough with myself, I consider myself a pretty strong person. Ha. The truest, most honest part of me is as gentle and innocent as a lamb. This "Rachel" doesn't plan ahead, won't run ahead - is eager to listen, learn and be loved. I've been encouraged recently (and throughout my life) to embrace the 'heart' I've been given and "let theory fall away". Don't get clouded, don't plan in expectation of having things in control... be led.

"He gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them close to his heart" -- the closest I am to a lamb... the closer I am to His heart. The closer I am to His heart, the less I can hide of my own brokenness, the most honest I am.

'Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.' Let's think about this. How can what is happening on earth be "as it is" in heaven? Jesus made it possible. God's grace and surpassing goodness reached out. His nature is such that we are, in our brokenness, beautiful and able to be redeemed by Jesus' sacrifice.

Psalm 113:5-8

"Who is like the Lord our God, Who has His seat on high,
Who humbles Himself to regard the heavens and the earth!
[The Lord] raises the poor out of the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap and the dung hill,
That He may seat them with princes, even with the princes of His people."

It is the majesty and compassion combo of God that baffles me. To truly believe that He is King and Lord of all, and then to also believe that He touched the brokenness in those who he met on the streets of Jerusalem, the bleeding, the blind, the beggar, the forgotten. He touched them. He restored heaven to them.
------------------------------------------------------------

You Hold Me Now - hillsong

on the day when I see
all that You have for me
when I see you face to face
there surrounded by Your grace

all my fears swept away
in the light of your embrace
where your love is all i need
and forever i am free

where the streets are made of gold
in your presence ...
let this song of heaven rise
to You alone

no weeping, no hurt or pain,
no suffering, you hold me now
you hold me now
no darkness, no sin or pain
no hiding, you hold me now
you hold me now

in this life i will stand
through my joy and my pain
knowing there's a greater day
there's a hope that never fails

where your name is lifted high
and forever praises rise
for the glory of Your name

where the wars and violence cease
all creation lives in peace
let this song of heaven rise
to you alone

for eternity all my heart
will give all the glory
to Your Name

Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven

October 17, 2011

an appeal to court (vs dating)

courting or dating? this conversation is always an interesting one. one of the first times i heard both sides 'defended' was at a church youth service as a teenager. my dad was the speaker who had a panel of people of different ages answering questions posed by the crowd. perhaps surprisingly (considering the topic and stereotypical stance of teenage daughter vs father), i sided with my dad's view on dating. shocking? maybe. but, let's get this started right.......

rachel's disclaimer: i'm no expert here (on courting or dating); i'm simply voicing my thoughts on the subject. a few friends had a chat the other day about it and i thought i'd continue the conversation here. i'm not pointing fingers at people who are dating/have dated or who are courting/have courted to say they are superstars or fools. honest!! (in fact, i know a couple couples who just started dating and i think that's awesome.)

that said, allow me to trek through some treacherous terrain here. 

here's where i'm coming from: a good friend of mine told me this Spring that they didn't know how i would ever decide that someone was safe/right enough to date. i believe the direct quote was: "i think when you are ready to date someone, you'll be ready to marry them"*. that same friend said the way he made his mind up about dating someone was that he would date her if he was interested enough in them to see if there was 'anything there'. 

* no doubt there are challenges to my supposed style of 'engagement', however, i haven't married a fool yet.... so i think i may be on the right track. 

back to my observant friend-- i'm not saying his attitude towards dating is wrong. don't get the wrong idea, he is by no means reckless in his dating ways... i'm just pointing out the difference between my standoffish style and his daring-to-date demeanour. 

courting adjourned? - before we get all excited about jumping on the courting train, maybe we should ask an important question: is courting a thing of the past? i mean, it is a thing of the past... since it's been around for a while (see 'Rules of Courtly Love': http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/rules_of_love.html)... but is it reasonable to think it happens these days?

let's define 'courting', shall we? it's synonyms are 'woo, pursue, chase'. def'n: 'to seek the favour, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage'. alright, i mean... maybe this is where i show my true colours, but, as my good friend erika would say: "i'm just gonna put it out there"... if we're being honest, we love the chase, am i right? especially the chase that doesn't result in wasted energy, no? the goal is not to be running wild through a field with our arms flailing, people. 

i would say it is the purposefulness of courting i find so appealing. communication is upfront; intentions are clear. this doesn't mean the relationship is boring, of course, just... precise in its expectations of the course of the relationship. which is towards... marriage! it may play out as meeting intentionally in certain settings, with different people, to get to know each other. and then, in the event that one or both of you does not see it proceeding in that direction, the intentional time together simply stops.  

a matter of tact! - furthermore, for courting to be successful, i think both people have to know themselves well, and be honest with themselves. (this is where some might argue that dating is beneficial: in the earlier years... you learn so much about yourself and others when you date people.)

the hardest part of the dating situations i've witnessed, is that there's a sometimes long period of dating that resembles engagement. people are just gettin' right in there, committing themselves, meshing their lives, and that gets confusing for everyone. everybody's hopes are up (in and surrounding the supposedly blossoming relationship). this makes the 'break up' scenario difficult, and sometimes avoided when it should be embraced (to put it lightly). people get stuck... i've seen it. when the situation has become complex and, in the end, the result can be heart-breaking. 

i think dating, in these cases, sets up people to lose-- where attachment meets routine in the worst way. "just go with it, see how it plays out...", "you don't want to hurt him..."... so tricky, i totally get it. all i'm saying is, courting provides a clear way out because you were committed to finding out whether the 'two of you' worked. it's a bit "business", but i'd argue it gets the job done, y'know? 

so, what's the verdict? there are some of you who are reading this who might think "your definition of courting is my definition of dating". pa-tay-toe/pa-tah-toe. hakuna matata. sounds good to me... i'm happy we agree! others might be thinking "best of luck with your court-dates, rrrraaach!" and that's cool, too. 

thanks for reading - happy dating/courting/daourting! ('cause everybody loves a good combo-pack!)

October 15, 2011

with

with guilt i live closed in
with shame i feel exposed
with love i can succeed
with beauty, find a rose
with fear i lose myself
with light i lift from lows
with choice i’m given freedom
with flight i join the crows
with friendship there is sharing
with joy there is laughing
with pain there is learning
with truth there is growing
with voice there is giving
with sight there is leading
with touch there is reaching
with words there is meaning 
with sorrow is found the broken
with building is found the brick
with faith is found the first step
with chase is found the quick
with tears is found the release
with magic is found the trick
with mercy is found the undeserved
with healing is found the sick

broken



our world is broken
i mean, ripped apart and fallen
in a sad and twisted way
in a hurt others cause i’ve been hurt, 
fall down, hit the dirt, 
break down, hit the first 
thing that cracks me, 
irks me, disturbs me
our world is dark
the light doesn’t penetrate
it could, i mean, it does
it should and will because
the Light is greater still 
then broken hearts and broken wills 
then patterns of abuse
then poverty’s refuse
our world is ugly
not the created world, 
not the beauty of one another
but the way we forget to be beautiful
the way we choose our nature 
based on the hurt we’ve felt
the hand we’re dealt
it’s broken; it’s dark and ugly
you are not
we are not

bold, bleeding & believing

this song came to mind today when i was reflecting on God's love for me as the Beloved.

today, i am looking at the passage in Luke 8:43-48. the story here is about a woman who has looked for healing everywhere and believes Jesus has the power to heal her. she believes so much that, in a crowded place, she reaches out to touch him and is healed.

(note: by Jewish law she ceremonially unclean. she wouldn't be welcome anywhere!)

then her act is acknowledged because Jesus knew the difference between her reaching and the crowds' pushing. One reason Dr Ralph Wilson suggests Jesus "exposed her secret" of silent healing is that Jesus is taking the first step in lifting the burden of uncleanness from her by accepting her publicly.

as i share with you, i feel like i am the woman in Luke 8:47,
47And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.

i admire her. she's bold! she's elbowed her way through the crowd to get the healing she's needed for years. the most interesting part of the story to me is that she gets the healing and thinks she's outta there-- no 'thank you', no conversation with Jesus, nothing. it's Jesus that's immediately interested: "Who was it that touched me?"

i think we still feel the need to hide once we've received healing. shame is a powerful thing. is it that we don't believe we are truly forgiven? the woman in the story would have feared public shaming should the crowd have known her situation. her focus is on her identity as an unwell person (and one particular flaw that has kept her ostracized), not the miracle that has made her well.

"insert Rachel"-- a little shaky, to be honest. knowing and recognizing that i am not hidden from God... my weakness, darkness, loneliness, brokenness and failures are all exposed. yep, all of that and lots more. but, i'm forgiven. FOR-GI-VEN! there is no point getting stuck in the 'yes, but...' of limiting God's grace and mercy towards me by not believing when the reality is that i am free from those things. i can see my weakness, sin or anything else that makes me imperfect as the location in which God's grace and mercy collides with my need continues the process of making me whole.

read here "Bleeding & Believing" (author?)- a poem i was given by a dear friend years ago.

Once there was a wound
It was no ordinary wound
It was my wound
We had lived together long

I yearned to be free of this wound
I wanted the bleeding to stop
Yet if the truth be known
I felt a strange kind of gratitude for this wound
It had made me tremendously open to grace 
vulnerable to God's mercy.

A beautiful believing in me that I have named Faith
kept growing, daring me, to reach for what i could not see
This wound had made me open.
I was ready for grace
And so one day, I reached.

That I was thick in the crowd bleeding and believing and I reached
At first I reached for what I could see; the fringe of a garment
But my reaching didn't stop there for Someone reached back into me
A grace I couldn't see flowed through me. 
A power I didn't understand began to fill the depths of me. 

Trembling, I was called forth to claim my wholeness
The bleeding had left me.
The believing remained.
And as strange as this may sound, 
I have never lost my gratitude for the wound that made me so open to grace. 

In his book Spiritual Direction, Henri Nouwen says:
"only by expressing our anger and resentment directly to God in prayer will we come to know the fullness of love and freedom. only by pouring out our story of fear rejection, hatred, and bitterness can we hope to be healed."

Psalm 138:3 -- "On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased."
-----------------------------------------------------------------
"psalm 139" - rebecca st james

you search me, you know me
you see my every move
there's nothing i could ever do
to hide myself from you
you know my thoughts
my fears and hurts
my weaknesses and pride
you know what i am going through
and how i feel inside
but, even though you know
you will always love me
even though you know
you'll never let me go
i don't deserve your love
but you give it freely
you will always love me
even though you know

---
* on the blogs with a song there is a link to the song via youtube- click on the blog title.

June 1, 2011

i'll wait

"in quietness and trust is your strength." - isaiah 30:15

i have experienced times of waiting in my life. wait to find out where God will leads my parents (again), wait to find out what effect the chemo will have on my friend's recovery, wait to see how God will redeem a difficult circumstance between friends.... wait, wait, wait. only recently have i recognized in myself that i have a hard time waiting. waiting can be scary.

healthy waiting involves surrender. waiting is active and shouldn't be something that halts you in doing everything else God is calling you to. surrendering the outcome of what you're waiting for allows you to do that. trust is a big factor here - believing God knows best, living in such a way that acknowledges God's awesome goodness and not in a state of fear that limits God's power in our minds and actions.

Psalm, Chapter 46
1GOD IS our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains be shaken into the midst of the seas, 3though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling and tumult. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
some of my wisest friends are the ones that stop me in the middle of a panic and say: "this will be ok." though it may sound patronizing, i'm thankful for it and i recognize it as words that come from experiences where they have learned, "as certain as the dawn appears", our God is good and faithful. so, it's not time to dream bigger or make grander plans to overcome the current set-back, it's time to rest in the truth that He is providing and will continue to provide.
Isaiah, Chapter 35
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4Say to those who have an anxious heart,
"Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you."

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes...

9No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away
.

dear God: help me sing for joy and rest in the truth of Your great faithfulness while i wait. continue to stir my heart and give me patience. remind me that You are the great Redeemer, the only Rock worth building my life on and a generous King who chose to love me. surround me and lift me up. in Jesus' name, amen.
Hebrews, Chapter 6
19[Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul [it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it--a hope] that reaches farther and enters into [the very certainty of the Presence] within the veil, 20where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

-------------------------------------------------------
you'll come - hillsong/brooke fraser

i have decided, i have resolved
to wait upon You, Lord
my Rock and Redeemer
Shield and Reward
i wait upon You, Lord

as surely as the sun will rise
You'll come to us
as certain as the dawn appears

You'll come
let Your glory fall
as You respond to us
Spirit reign,
flood into our thirsty hearts again
You'll come

we are not shaken, we are not moved
we wait upon you Lord
the mighty Deliverer
my Triumph and Truth
we wait upon you Lord

as surely as the sun will rise
You'll come to us
as certain as Your word endures

chains be broken
lives be healed
eyes be opened
Christ is revealed

-------------------------------------------------------




i am...thankful. awed. moved. satisfied. redeemed. forgiven. safe.

Luke, Chapter 1
46And Mary said, My soul magnifies and extols the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour...

January 9, 2011

alive to live [free]

this is an encouraging song. feels a bit like a "reset button" for finding God's purpose moment by moment; freely choosing to live for God.

chains, nails, bonds, darkness, death cannot hold Almighty God. that is to say: nothing contains God. this is an important concept to grasp as one of Jesus' followers. the light entrusted to those who follow God in surrender and strive to follow Jesus' example (albeit in a broken, incomplete way). to this end, i see the following passage as somewhat of a direct job description of Jesus' followers as well as encouragement that we do not go at God's work alone, but in all humility and love.

Promise of Jesus: The Lord's Chosen Servant
Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6 & 7
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or life up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law.
Thus says God, the Lord:
"I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness."

1 Peter 2: 16 "Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God"

New year, right? I feel convicted: "enough with being held back and hiding the light in me". I feel like I've been given a verse for this year in Joshua: 'be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go". that takes many shapes in my head. Some of those include: be honest about failure and fear, live righteously, seek God and live in a way that bestows grace and mercy to those who have been shown none, trust Him for hard things. So here's the plan:

Hosea 10: 12 "Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you"

God is good- remember that! it's key. He wants you to join into your life and change it. He wants to bring healing and restore life to the dead, dark and broken places of your heart.

Ephesians 2 "you were dead... BUT GOD... even when we were dead (in our trespasses) made us alive together with Christ--BY GRACE you have been saved--raised up in Him... seated with Him... so that He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

My experience in the past has included somewhere in my heart, head, church or relationships it being said: you are not right for this... you'll never be enough for this. however, God is good and offers life to and restoration to broken hope and dreams. some of us need to hear God when He says: "Let no one disqualify you" (Colossians 2:18). live free!! know Who's in your corner and stop being afraid.

1 Peter 2:9 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light."

-----------------------------------------------
holding nothing back [jesus culture]

i am chosen I am free
i am living for eternity
free now forever
You picked me up, turned me around
set my feet on solid ground
Yours now forever
and nothing's gonna hold me back

my chains fell off, my heart was free
i'm alive to live for you
i'm alive to live for you
amazing love, how can it be?
You gave everything for me
You gave everything for me
Everything

You washed sin and shame away
the slate is clean, a brand new day
free now forever
now boldly I approach Your throne
to claim this crown,
through Christ, my own
Yours now forever
and nothing's gonna hold me back

now i'm free to live
free to give
free to be
i'm free to love You
------------------------------------------------

Ephesians 3:20 + 21 "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory...."