My Delight, My Song

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Photo by Nicolás Torres – http://www.jnicolastorres.com

My hunger for you is insatiable
Ever before me, like a whisper on my tongue
And you hear it, even before it is given utterance

Though my heart is prone to wander
Easily distracted, struggling to focus
Your thunderous voice breaks through

Sharp as an arrow
Yet tender as the touch of a child
Surrounding me, filling me with rapture

Where can I run from your presence?
Light that pierces my darkness
Joy flooding my parched soul

Your love is better than life itself
My every cell celebrates your goodness
Praise you, Jesus, forever and ever!

Inspired by my awesome God through Psalms 63 and 139, the Bible

 

The Anchor for My Soul

Version 2

Sometimes we feel like a boat on dry ground. We know our purpose is to sail, yet the tide has gone out and we’re unable to float. We feel trapped, off kilter, abandoned, alone.

I’m so grateful that my life isn’t based on emotions which, while beautiful, cannot be trusted—leading us to soar over mountaintops one moment, and precipitate down pathways of doom in the next.

With Jesus as my rock, I can see beauty in the midst of desolation; I know He is the Master of the Sea, and the tide will come in again in due time. In His time.

And while I may be momentarily stranded, I still have my landing place in Him. The ground beneath this vessel’s often creaking boards is solid and unmovable.

That sweet, salty aroma in the air reminds me of His presence – ever within my reach, moved by the cry on my lips.

I want to be unshakeable, more like my Father every day.

Teach me, Lord…

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My soul finds rest in God alone;
my salvation comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress,

I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19

The Path of Surrender

God has led me down the path of surrender this summer. Yet again.

IMG_20170920_133228The beauty of traveling this road is that I never walk it alone.
The Master is always before me to show the way, beside me to encourage, behind me to push a bit,
above me to protect.
His love for me runs so deep
that I cannot fathom it.
It overwhelms me.
His river of life – now running
like a torrent
that threatens
to sweep me away with its power,
now as a babbling brook that whispers, igniting my senses –
is constant,
never leaving
me dry.
I may wander off at times, but my God is a jealous pursuer.

Surrender. Yes.

It’s that place I so often find myself called to these days, as I sit before Him. Just when I think that its well has been sufficiently dredged, I find Him beckoning me once again. “Let’s dig this a little deeper,” He whispers, as He envelopes me in His love.

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And there, in my Lord’s presence, I am undone. How can I say no to the One who breathes new life into my nostrils with each dawning day? The Father who ordered my steps long before I was even a dream in my parents’ heart (or maybe a surprise, already in the womb)?

Over the past years, He has asked me many questions, and each inquiry implores much more than a simple reply.

Would you lay down your life for me? Allow your husband to die for me?
Lose your children for the sake of my Kingdom? 

Would you abandon all that is now your normal life – to go, to do my bidding – whatever that might be?

Each requisition has been met with much meditation on my part.
Quieting of the mind. Searching of the heart. Baring of the soul.
Wrestling with my own desires.

And then surrender. Yes.

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How could I respond with anything less?
His plans for me are good. He desires for me to prosper. His path holds no harm for me.
It brims with hope. It gives me a future.
It is life itself.

A few days ago, Denny and I had an interesting experience. In the mid-afternoon, while folding laundry upstairs, through our back window I noticed heavy, billowing smoke rising in the distance. Behind our house, there are about ten kilometers (just over six miles) of pine forest that run to the ocean, with a few houses scattered in between. The woods were clearly on fire.

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We watched with interest and then concern, as the wind picked up, blowing the blaze in the direction of our house. The sound of sirens filled the air, while fire helicopters began to invade the sky, dumping massive buckets of water from the nearby Atlantic on the angry flames. Our upper balcony gave us the perfect vantage point, and it all felt surreal.

IMG_0547Not being prone to panic, we observed, monitoring the wildfire’s progress carefully. Denny videoed and took photos. We prayed and rallied our praying friends and family through social media, crying out to Jesus to rebuke the wind, as in Mark 4:39:

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Quiet! Be still!”
Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

 

IMG_0537We implored our God to stop the advance of the fire, as it continued to make its way towards our property.

The wind died down, but the flames were already fairly close to our home. We decided it would be best to make preparations, should we need to evacuate. I moved from room to room of our house, scanning the contents to decide what I wanted to take with me should we have to flee – should all the rest be consumed in the rogue.

In reality, I was pleased to discover that there wasn’t much I felt I needed. A few handmade gifts from our kids or friends, that held special meaning, some photos, the delicious goodies we’d recently brought back from Italy.

I realized that, at the end of the day, I would have been fine with leaving almost all of it behind – to have piled into our motorhome with Denny and our dogs, and those few things we need to survive, firing up our old Fiat Punto to take along, as well.

We loaded a few boxes and some food into our home on wheels, pulled the car out our front gate, and felt we’d be ready to leave, if necessary.

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In my heart, there was a certain excitement, as well. I said, “God, here we are. You gave us this house and land to rent; this motorhome, this car to own. It’s all yours. If you still want us here, as we believe you do, stop this fire now. But if this is your way of showing us that our time in this place is up, then so be it. I’m ready to go where you want us to go; to do what you want us to do, wherever you desire.”

The advance of the wildfire was halted four hours after it began, within a few kilometers  (just a couple miles) of our yard. It took 165 firefighters – to whom we’re very grateful, 45 fire vehicles on the ground, and four fire helicopters, to dominate it. But none could have stopped it, had it not been the desire of our God. He is Lord of all the elements – of the earth and the sky.

Surrender. Yes.

As I reflect on these last days, I know I will continue to choose it. It’s a narrow path, which few care (or dare) to travel – often treacherous, seldom simple. I am well aware that the grooves in the compact dirt that delineate it have been left by those who’ve gone before me – testimonies of how worthy our God is that we should renounce all that we consider our own for the sake of His Kingdom.

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O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night
but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up, you are still with me!
– Psalm 139:1-18



Day 2: Being a Warrior

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Following yesterday’s edition of “Beach Stroll in the Pouring Rain,” I awoke to this view today. More heavy precipitation. Perfect weather to curl up with a warm beverage and a blanket in the recliner, and enjoy a good book. But, of course, that wasn’t what was on the menu for today’s challenge. And I wasn’t about to let this weather put a damper on my plans. (*Sorry, folks. If you’re just getting to know me through this blog, you’ll soon discover a pattern here. I do love puns.)

I didn’t fall asleep till quite late last night, one of the dogs woke me up too early this morning, I’m feeling achy from the wet weather… you see, there’s always a multitude of reasons why NOT to step outside of my routine, beyond what’s comfortable. Thus, the  30-day Challenge. And here we are at Day 2.

If there’s one thing that living in Southern Europe for thirty plus years has developed in me, it’s a fighting spirit. You see, despite its wonderful people, natural beauty, rich history, cultural patrimony and outstanding food and drink, Southern Europe is generally quite disorganized. Getting the simplest of things accomplished can often be painfully slow and disturbingly frustrating. The possible solutions are two: slip into resignation and apathy or become a warrior.

I found this charming fellow during my walk on the beach yesterday.

IMG_20160511_155436He was mixed in among all the litter and debris
that had been washed in with the tide
following the storms.
I couldn’t help but chuckle
at God’s sense of humor.
I mean, of all things to find
just as I was meditating on the importance
of being willing to stay in the fight,
and of allowing myself to be transformed.
A warrior.

During the three decades that we’ve lived in Italy and Portugal, we have constantly felt the struggle, perpetually been in battle to see God’s will done here. We want to see a breakthrough! We long to see young people in relationship with Jesus, living vibrant and passionate lives, despite the hopelessness and apathy that so often pervades.

For six months now, Denny has been working hard on organizing No Longer Music’s 2016 tour in Italy, France and Portugal. Every single potential concert – each location – has been a struggle. With the Portugal dates just two weeks away, all three cities that we’ve been waiting for permits from have continued to drag their feet.

So since we need to have a definite answer from the city government in Faro TODAY in order to make the concert happen here, I decided to make praying for them to approve it and issue the permit my challenge for Day 2. But to step outside of my routine (because Denny and I have been praying for this at home EVERY day), I got in the car and drove down to City Hall.

Faro’s City Hall building is so beautiful and walking it’s perimeter while praying was a powerful experience. I also arrived there right at lunch time, so I stood out front praying as workers from various offices walked in and out. I prayed that each one who might have a role in approving the concert and issuing the permit would swiftly get their job done and that the paperwork would continue to resurface on their desk until it was processed!

Then I went inside and interceded in the gorgeous, domed lobby, asking God for breakthrough in this city and through this concert. I asked the receptionist if I could go upstairs to see the rest of the building, but she told me it wasn’t permitted.

I declared God’s promises over Faro, over its government and its people and prayed that all its businesses would prosper.

Finally, I drove to the park where we’ve requested to have the concert and I asked God to draw so many young people there the night of the show… to fill their hearts with a hunger for Truth, and to draw them to Himself. Though the park was empty today because (you guessed it), we’d just had a downpour, it’s such a great location for the concert, right next to the Mall at the entrance to the city!

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So please stand with me today in this challenge… and be a warrior! Join your hearts with mine to pray for our beautiful city and for God’s will to be done here, in Jesus’ name.

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city
to which I have carried you into exile.
Pray to the LORD for it,
because if it prospers,
you too will prosper.
Jeremiah 29:7