She prays as she walks

On that street –

the one with the busy cars, the summer breeze drifting around, the storm clouds simmering in the distance –

she prays as she walks.

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Her words are a caress, a salve to the sting of words that have made their way into your heart. The more I mark my days the more I see how words build up,

and oh, how they tear down.

And there are times when those words somersault across the field and bruise the very pieces of our heart we hold out willingly.

So willingly.

And until those prayers over that heart, and those words, find their way to you in the middle of that street,

you don’t even realize how you’d written them into your identity. How they’d shaken you to the core. How they’d minimized your worth, your value,

your Created-ness.

The words are an attack on the very Image you bear.

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And He weeps with you, oh how He weeps with you. The One who knit you together, who knows the hairs on your head –

oh how He weeps, too.

The One who’s thoughts are precious towards you –

precious. Gentle, soft, kind. Just like that prayer. Just like her words. Salve to a heartache.

And so she prays as she walks, and there, on that street in the middle of this city, you meet the One who’s thoughts towards you are precious.

 

 

Entrust

She sends me the email on a fall day, when the yellow leaves are crunching beneath my boots. The stroller in front of me, I feel the vibration and I open her words.

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Entrust. The word stands out in the middle of her email, a soft but firm reminder: you’ve got to entrust Him with this. 

It’s not what I want to hear because the truth is: I do not know what entrusting even means. What does it mean to hand over to God the things I hold most close? What does it mean to see that all these things – these gifts – are His anyways?

The leaves dance wildly at my feet, and I push the stroller forward and I tuck her words close to mull them over. And I remember her addition at the end of the email:

“But remember to enjoy, sweet girl.

You’ve got this.”

Months later, there’s snow in place of golden leaves. Instead of her words staring up at me, there’s the small voice of His, asking me to entrust. To lay the Isaac down on the altar. To trust the Promiser instead of the promise.

And I wonder again at her words. What it looks like to even entrust what I hold close to Him.

I search for the word in Greek, in Hebrew, in the concordance and lexicons until the notes in my journal are long and in depth. From the Greek word pistis, to entrust means to be persuaded. A gift from God, unable to be produced by people.

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To entrust to Him –

literally means to be persuaded by an act only God can do. 

And because I am a chronic forgetter – I so often forget all that He has shown me, all that He has done, and the ways in which He so persuades me to place my trust in Him. To entrust my plans, my dreams, my love in the only place they are safe – in His hands.

So I pray – for I cannot do this on my own – to entrust what I hold close to Him.

“Persuade me,” I scrawl across my journal, tears brimming.

“Persuade me to entrust you with it.”

And the exchange – of laying it on the altar – is far more painful that imagined. But there is something beautiful in the persuasion, in the exchange, as God reveals love in a way only He can do.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

I stir the pot in front of me, watching the yellowed carrots and parsnip twirl around in the wake of the ladle. I offer up prayers to Jesus, laying down heavy burdens as I stir. Knowing that there is a paper waiting to be started in the other room but my soul needs this chicken soup instead.

I pick each piece of meat off the cooled bones and drop it into the broth. Growing up, I remember her doing it so well. We would wait anxiously for the pot of soup on the stove, her famous chicken noodle soup. Each time it was a bit different, with a little more carrots or a few more noodles, whatever was found in the pantry. But each time it tasted like only her soup could. I wrote down the recipe the first time I moved away, on a faded pink index card tucked into my recipe box. But recipes made with a pinch o’ this and a pinch ‘o that never could be written down.

When that Crack in our family appeared so long ago, a lot of things washed away in the aftermath. A lot of dreams sifted away. And so did the memories – even the good ones – because somehow they were marked with a Loss now, too.

Years later – sometimes they slip back in. Sometimes it’s the feel of a chocolate milk container that brings me back to when I was five. Sometimes it’s the feel of chicken beneath my bare fingers, bringing me back to cool winter nights and a mother’s famous soup.

I make that soup my own way now. I add parsnips and rice and my own concoction of spices I find in my cabinets. The pink index card with my scrawl and her words rests inside my recipe box, and I make the soup with a little bit of soul and a little bit of hope. Sometimes murmured prayers, too.

And the thing I’ve learned about memories is sometimes they have a way of finding their way back to us. Sometimes it’s years later, when you think you’ve tucked them back into the recesses of your mind where it doesn’t hurt so much. Maybe those memories are just waiting, waiting for the time when you’ll hold them precious again. Waiting ’til your heart’s a little more healed so you hold them close, let the tears go, and remember –

the warmth of the wood stove, smell of soup in the nearby kitchen. Cracked and scarred wooden floors beneath running feet. Blankets nestled over the floor’s vents, heat trapped to warm up cold bodies. Fallen Christmas trees anchored to the wall. 

Somehow they all hurt a little less with a pot of chicken soup on the stove,

made with just the right amount of soul and a little bit of hope.

 

 

I Don’t Either.

“I don’t want her to go.” She looks at me, tears in her eyes, and I can only imagine what it must feel like to see her daughter laying in the hospital bed before her.

My heart is breaking as my hand reaches for her shoulder. “I don’t either.” I don’t even know if my words feel as broken as I do, but I look at my sweet friend lying on the bed, her body struggling with every breath, and I feel the weight of my words. I don’t either.

I haven’t had enough time with you. I haven’t had enough walks along the river, and I haven’t talked to you about all my questions I wrestle with. I haven’t heard enough of your stories of the crazy people you have to chase down the hallways at work. I haven’t held enough warm drinks with you across the Starbucks table from me.

Mostly I am afraid I haven’t memorized your smile enough. Mostly I am afraid I will forget what it’s like to hear your laugh or see you greet me as I walk in the doors.

But what I won’t forget is the way you love, sweet friend. With arms open wide, just like Jesus, welcome and open and no shred of judgment. You just get it, the messy, dark places and the rays of joy. You’ve understood what it means to reach for joy and it to be out of reach. You got my darkness, friend, which is so much more than most people. And you let me know, over, and over, and over again that I wasn’t alone. I wish I could convey to you what that has meant to me.

I haven’t gotten to be your friend long enough, sweet friend. You are a gem. You’ve taught me more of what it means to brave scars and tattoos and be who you are because that’s enough. Jesus makes it enough.

And it’s because of Him that we get to laugh together again. I can’t wait for that day, when you will be free of this horrible disease and life will glow from your eyes to the tips of your toes. Until that day, sweet friend, I will remember you when I paint and crochet and wander into places we visited. Thank you for walking with me through my dark places and thank you for encouraging me to be brave and hope and love who I am. I will buy flowers for myself and each time I will remember you telling me to just do it. Just buy the flowers because we may be single, but we will rock it. And we will love who we are.

I am honoured to know you, sweet friend. Thank you for making me a better person. I will keep loving you, keep praying for you on this side of heaven as long as God graces us with more days with you. And I will keep telling Him that I don’t want you to go, either.