full.

life is full right now.

in just sixty-seven days i will give my life to the man i love. two weeks after that, i will move with him to a new state…a new home.

there is a stack of boxes quickly growing like some fungus all over the room that my patient sister and i share. some of them are full, marked, taped, ready to be packed into the u-haul. others are half-full, waiting for like items to complete them so that hopefully, the mysteries of unpacking will not be so mysterious. others are empty, waiting around because they seemed like a ‘useful’ or ‘versatile’ size, or because they seemed too ‘sturdy’ to recycle.

life is feeling a lot like that stack of boxes, right now. so very full…of responsibilities, things to be done, people who love me, people to love.  a little bit empty in places, knowing that these are my last few months in the place that has been home for twenty years of my life. a lot overwhelmed by stacks of priorities that have a tendency to slip and slide at the most inconvenient of times, and make a mess all over the room in my heart called ‘conscience.’

but, like that stack of boxes…life is unbelievably exciting, right now. full, not of fear, but of promise. and yes, i am quite aware that it is not all ‘happy’ promise. i am more aware than most people realize of how relationships with the people you love the most require the most work, pain, and sacrifice.  i am more aware than most people realize of just how difficult this thing called ‘Life’ can be.

but i am also well aware that my best friend and i, we serve a great and sovereign God, who has filled us, and will be faithful to fill us, with all that we need to glorify Him and love each other. and so, perhaps it is crazy, but i am looking forward, not only to living life with robert, but to living Life with him. to being emptied again and again with him, so that together we can be filled with the fullness of the love of Christ. so that, filled ourselves, we can fill each other with the love we have received from God. i am fearful at times, but i am so looking forward to pulling up roots and putting them down again afresh in a new place, in a new name…and in the love of God, which never changes.

‘for this reason i bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.’

ephesians 3:14-19

so this happened…

 

 

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and in case the pictures didn’t say it well enough…my best friend asked me to marry him.

i said yes.

and i would say ‘the end,’ except for one thing…it is just the beginning.

i didn’t know it was possible to love someone this much, or to be this happy…but i do now.  and i am so, so thankful for the grace and love God has lavished on me through robert. this means a lot of changes, of course…including moving from california to new mexico in four short months. but God has been faithful this far and i am confident that He will continue to guide us as we start a new life as husband and wife. and embarking on a lifelong adventure with my best friend? i can’t think of anything more wonderful than that.

we bear the light of the Son of Man

so there’s nothing left to fear

so i will walk with you in the shadow lands

until the shadows disappear

because He promised not to leave us, and His promises are true

so in the face of all this chaos, i can dance with you

so let’s go dancing in the minefields

let’s go sailing in the storm

this is harder than we dreamed, but i believe

that’s what the promise is for

that’s what the promise is for.

andrew peterson.dancing in the minefields

 

 

awaken the dawn

i am sitting here on the couch at five minutes past five in the morning, blanket-wrapped and hunched over my computer. my hands are shaking and the nightmare was half an hour ago, but i can still see it, waiting in the shadows of my memory…i tried to fall back asleep, but it wouldn’t let me. i feel sick to my stomach, and though i was and am still very tired, five isn’t so early when the alternative is shivering in the dark. so i felt my way downstairs, so i could feel miserable somewhere where i could at least turn on a light.

i am not one to do the whole open-the-Bible-stick-your-finger-in-it-and-read thing. i don’t believe that is how God’s Word is supposed to be read and studied. but i do know that God is faithful to give us just the correction and encouragement we need, just when He knows us to need it…whether that is through a friend, a song, or, as this morning, through Scripture–namely, the psalms i happened to land on when hunting for some comfort in the semi-dark.

psalm 55: ‘give ear to my prayer, o God; and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. give heed to me and answer me; i am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the pressure of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me and in anger they bear a grudge against me. my heart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me…for it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then i could bear it…but it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend; we who had sweet fellowship together walked in the house of God in the throng.  [...] as for me, i shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. evening and morning and at noon, i will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me. [...] cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. but You, o God, will bring them down to the pit of destruction; men of bloodshed and deceit will not live out half their days. but i will trust in You.’

tears filled my eyes as i read that. the reason my dream had shaken me so badly was because i had placed my trust in man…not men of bloodshed, but in ‘familiar friends’. but friends–no matter how true and how real the fellowship we share–are not God. they are human, and they will fail. perhaps they will not betray us, but they will fail us…just as we will fail them. the only one worthy of all trust, the only one who can be called upon time and time and time again without fail, is God Almighty, to whom we have access through Christ. this is a precious privilege, and i confess, it is one which i have overlooked of late. i pray, yes.  but it has been some time since i claimed the privilege of casting my burden entirely on the Lord…and leaving it there. 

i turned the page. psalm 56: ‘in God i have put my trust, i shall not be afraid. what can man do to me? Your vows are binding upon me, o God; i will render thank offerings to You, for You have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that i may walk before God in the light of the living.’

i kept reading, down through psalm 57: ‘be gracious to me, o God, be gracious to me, for my soul takes refuge in You; and in the shadow of Your wings i will take refuge until destruction passes by. i will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. He will send from heaven and save me; He reproaches him who tramples upon me. God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth. my soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire…be exalted above the heavens, o God; let Your glory be above all the earth. [...] my heart is steadfast, o God, my heart is steadfast; i will sing, yes, i will sing praises! awake, my glory! awake, harp and lyre! i will awaken the dawn. i will give thanks to You, o Lord, among the peoples; i will sing praises to You among the nations. for Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens and Your truth to the clouds. be exalted above the heavens, o God; let Your glory be above the earth.’

i never understood that passage, the whole ‘awaken the dawn’ imagery. i do not know that i understand its exact purpose in the psalm, but oh, do i understand the concept now. because i find myself curled on a couch, the window in front of me still solid dark, waiting for dawn…but thankfully, no longer waiting in fear. or at least, not solely in fear. the truth is, the nightmare still shakes me. but God’s truth is a precious weapon against the deceit of my dream, however convincing it was. i find myself sitting here, still as incapable of falling asleep, still as tired, still as sick, still as frightened…but able now to combat the lies. and able, though feebly, to praise our great God, who is trustworthy, steadfast, truthful, and glorious.

because whatever the nightmares say, He is good, worthy of trust and worthy of praise. but it’s hard to see that, in the dark, when the dreams seem so real and they make you doubt the people you love and trust the most…

truth. it’s the best way to combat lies. and the truth is, people fail. dream-people and real people will fail you. maybe not in the same way, but one way or another, people will fail you.

God never will.

ever.

and that is truth, solid, sure, and glorious.

awake, dawn, and praise Him with me…

the race that is set before me

it has finally decided to rain here in northern california, and this means that i am a happy girl. rain is not essential for my happiness, of course, and i dearly love sunshine…but still, rain rarely fails to put a grin on my face. and so, this afternoon, i’m sitting in front of a fire (directly in front, so probably my poor family is not feeling much of its heat =P ), with a cup of coffee and some shortbread with lemon curd–my version of lemon bars, since i have yet to make a successful batch of the real kind. outside of the window, there’s a bit of a drizzle, and the fence and the trees are dark with moisture and altogether, it’s a lovely day. i’m enjoying the rain.

i usually enjoy being out in the rain nearly as much or more than being inside while it’s raining. i especially love running in the rain. there’s something about the smells, and the freshness of the air, the water on my face and the way my hair feels, whipping on my face…coming home to a hot shower…not sure what it is, but rainy weather is running weather to me. but yesterday i had my fill and more. i didn’t realize there was a flash flood advisory when i decided to run up a mountain. i did know it was not merely raining, it was storming. but still…i had four hill miles to run, and since the regional park where i usually go on saturdays promised to be flowing with mud, i geared up and set off for the Big Hill which i have been planning on running–and somehow managing not to run–for several weeks now. it’s the longest, steepest hill around and though i hear that it will be my best coach, i am not looking forward to making its better acquaintance in the upcoming weeks.

it only took about half a mile for me to be almost completely drenched, lactic acid to build up in my muscles that refused to warm up (i opted for board shorts in hopes that they wouldn’t get as waterlogged, but the fabric still soaked and stuck to my legs, which kept them cold), and for me to begin wondering why i ever attempted this. and from then on, it was a pretty miserable run. hills and i do not get along well, and this was (or felt like) a monster hill. it did. not. end.

it did, actually. most things do. but not until i’d stopped several times, walked a few times, and nearly turned back a dozen times. down hill was better, and i didn’t have to stop, but i could feel my shins start aching and since i was no longer focused on just trying to take one more step, i was at liberty to notice that where, at half a mile, i was almost completely soaked, now i was more thoroughly soaked than i remember ever having been in my life. and extremely cold. and whereas going uphill, the river of water on the sidewalk was running in the opposite direction that i was trying to (making it that much more difficult, mentally and visually, at least), now it felt like it was trying to make me slip so that it could carry me along down with it.

i finally got back to the car, toweled off and shed my dripping sweatshirt and drove home, arriving in a state of teeth-chattering and the repeated remark, ‘oooooooh, goodness…’ because it was that cold. i tell you. a hot shower, a hot mocha, and a dry pair of jeans never felt so good.

i think that was probably the hardest run i’ve done yet. hopefully it was a combination of factors, including cold and rain and intimidation, because hills i will just need to learn to deal with. but the fact of the matter is, those four hill miles took far, far more out of me than the six flat miles i ran on wednesday.  i’m enjoying not moving, here in front of the fire, but when i do i can feel that i’m sore all over. the muscles next to my shins, especially. and it recalled a spurgeon reading from the end of january, one that caught my attention because of its focus.

january 31/evening

‘then ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain, and overran cushi’

2 samuel 18:23

running is not everything, there is much in the way which we select: a swift foot over hill and down dale will not keep pace with a slower traveller upon level ground. how is it with my spiritual journey, am i labouring up the hill of my own works and down the ravines of my own humiliations and resolutions, or do i run by the plain way of ‘believe and live’? how blessed is it to wait upon the Lord by faith! the soul runs without weariness, and walks without fainting, in the way of believing. Christ Jesus is the way of life, and He is a plain way, a pleasant way, a way suitable for the tottering feet and feeble knees of trembling sinners: am i found in this way, or am i hunting after another track such as priestcraft or metaphysics may promise me? i read of the way of holiness, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein: have i been delivered from proud reason and been brought as a little child to rest in Jesus’ love and blood? if so, by God’s grace, i shall outrun the strongest runner who chooses any other path. this truth i may remember to my profit in my daily cares and needs. it will be my wisest course to go at once to my God, and not to wander in a roundabout manner to this friend and that. He knows my wants and can relieve them, to whom should i repair but to Himself by the direct appeal of prayer, and the plain argument of the promise. ‘straightforward makes the best runner.’ i will not parley with the servants, but hasten to their Master.

in reading this passage, it strikes me that if men vie with one another in common matters, and one outruns the other, i ought to be in solemn earnestness so to run that i may obtain. Lord, help me to gird up the loins of my mind, and may i press forward towards the mark for the prize of my high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

hills–spiritual or physical–are no joke. it is precious to know that, in Christ, we no longer need to run them. He has gone before and made the paths straight for His fellow heirs…not that these paths will not be difficult. He promises that they will. but they are not impossible. His yoke is still a yoke, and His burden still a burden…but He promises that they are light and easy, in comparison with the demands of the law and our attempts to earn righteousness through works. and so, though i often go off-course, i trust that He will continue to lead me in the flats…and furthermore, that i will learn to love running the flats so much that i will not be tempted to leave them and try again to earn His favor or beat myself up over my failure to live as though i have been redeemed.

unfortunately…the same does not go for the physical race. =P a friend at church today was very seriously advising that i reconsider the half marathon that i chose, because it is a hard one. the hills are long and steep and very hard. and the more i try and fail to run long steep hard hills without feeling like i’m going to die and stopping to walk every so often, the more i question whether this was actually a good decision and whether i might try for a different–and easier–half to begin with. for now, though, my rebellious side is holding out, and i’d like to at least try it. i can always choose to run the seven miles instead, if i just can’t make it thirteen.

and so, though spiritually i will be running flats, or trying to–physically, i’ll still be running hills.

or trying to.

=P