Unwrap Freedom

A heart wrapped in barbwire.  Ready to defend, protect, repel. But strangling within it’s own barricade and longing to be free again.  But freedom comes at a steep price, it reminds itself.  Old scars throb in beating motion, as if in agreement.  As if to remind itself never to unwind these thorns of security.

A thing about barbwire; the closer you wrap it around yourself the more you pierce delicate areas, meant to be kept whole.  The more you move within the wrappings, the stickier they become.  Clinging to parts you never meant to protect, now rubbed raw.

He speaks, firmly.  Gently.  “Come out of there and speak forgiveness. Hear my words of love and be freed.

“Hear my love for you, know that I will deal with those who have scarred you.  No longer think of them.  Think only of my love for you.

“For if you will entrust your heart to me, I will safeguard it.  I will treat it tenderly, healing each and every wound.  If you will entrust your heart to my care, and wait for my lead, I will show you who needs it most and I will hold it there.”

And, if we let Him, He gently takes away the thorns, unwraps the circles and unwinds the clinging spines.  If we let Him, He calls us forth, out of the entrapment of security and into the protective guarding of His love, healing every cut and bruise, restoring wholeness and placing His own beat within.  If we let Him, He returns to us a voice, restores to us a passion, replaces within us His vision.  If we let Him, He sets us free.  

*inspired by a word from my friend, Jenny

Sounding Within

I am trying something new.  Really, I am putting something old back into my daily life.  But, it has been so long since I’ve done this, that it feels really new.  Again.

I am listening to the Holy Spirit daily.

Years ago my conservative Baptist walls crumbled down around me and I fell head over heals for a God bigger than I can fathom.  Theology flew into pieces like a million little gnats, all competing for the same sweet air under the Light.  My spiritual eyes marveled at a God who is not contained between the covers of my Bible.

And I don’t mean that He no longer aligns with Scripture – He made His Word live before my human eyes in ways I’d never seen before.  I suddenly saw my Bible as a very small end of a massive funnel, pouring over me as much of God as only what my finite human self can absorb and wrestle with and still survive.

And I heard His voice too.

Not audibly.  But in words, in pictures and dreams, and in ways I cannot describe but that my soul understands completely.  I lived life seeking to define the sound of His voice, discovering it and daring to make mistakes knowing that in doing so I’d learn even better what His sound within me is.

Life took a turn and I slowly stopped the dailiness of listening.  Life took a turn in many meanings.  Confusing, frustrating, wounding, painful, relieving, fearful and hidden.  A slow leaking of joy draining out, is how I describe my life without listening for the Sound of my Creator.

Until recently I had been so out of the habit that I had forgotten massive pieces of living.  With the encouragement of someone bold and in love with her Creator, I opened my ears again.  My ears and my eyes.  Each day has held something different, exciting, challenging, enlivening!

Today I woke up and discovered His desire for my morning.  And, that’s the thing: He’s not bossy.  I can join Him, or not.  He loves me just the same, is with me throughout the day and faithfully fulfills His promises to me, simply because He is Faithful.  The fun part is when I take Him up on His invitation, and join Him in what He desires.

Today, it was a brisk walk in the chill morning air with my toddler, after dropping my older two off at school.  I had no idea where I was going, just that I needed to walk.  And to pray. The words that came to me to pray were, peace, joy, hope, restoration – and so I walked through a neighborhood praying these things and turning up streets as He directed.

This is where it gets exciting!  I came up one street, and I was getting really confused about whether it was His sound or my own sound that was saying “turn right” or “go straight” when I saw an older woman walking two dogs.  My toddler pointed and declared, “two Fuffers, Mommy!” (Fuffers being his term for puppy, thanks to our fluffy white Havanese/Coton mix pup.) That sealed the deal for me. We went straight.  I asked her about her dogs, she lit up and opened up.

Marilyn told me about her mother moving into a nursing home, the alzheimer’s wing, and her struggles emotionally while selling her mother’s house, and the extra weight she put on which put her in such a health risk that her doctor gave her 3 months to live if she didn’t make changes, her recent injury that prevented her from exercising and her discouragement from that, how her children, three of them, gave her a wii for Christmas to help her get on a program that was injury friendly, and how one of her sons just had a baby girl, her first grandchild.  She told me of her early years as a mom, how it was important to her to be at home with her children, and the sacrifices that she made to do so. And she told me about her children living so far away from her, but how proud of them she is.  And that her husband, thin as a rail, is still working because he doesn’t want to retire.

Her eyes glistened and she engaged my toddler with yearning reserve, pointing to her house just a few feet away, saying, “please come by and knock on my door one of these mornings? I would love to see you again.”

The boldness to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation is totally new to me.  That I am excitedly waiting for the leading of His Sound in me to return to her home is entirely new to me.  The sense of His deep tenderness and concern, His care and intimacy, is uplifting and reassuring.  A million thoughts and feelings chortled through my mind… Amazing!

As I walked back to my car my world filled with a deeply contented joy that I realized I’ve been missing.  I wanted to sing loudly!  And I did hum… sort of loudly, because I’m not that bold yet.  But I will be.  Soon.  Because I’m not giving up the privilege of hearing my Creator’s voice so easily again.  And I cannot wait!

Hippie Update

So it has been a VERY long time since I updated on our ventures into becoming a hippie family…

Shampoo – we still are not using commercial shampoo.  I used some while traveling and my head was so incredibly itchy it was enough to convince me to give up shampoo for good.  Right now Bryce and I use organic shampoo bars from here: Natural Shampoo Bars, and we only shampoo with them once or twice a week.  The rest of the time we use a botanical conditioner from Trader Joe’s.

I will have the kids start to use them once we have run out of the shampoo they already have, and I find bars that suit their hair.

Deodorant – I had to stop making mine for a time, as I put way to much essential oils into it and we both developed rashes.  Sadly, it worked better than any regular antiperspirant or store bought deodorant.  I have found one recipe that has coconut oil as the base (instead of Shea butter) and doesn’t require essential oils, and I have found that the same website above also sells a coconut based deodorant that I might try too.  For now I am using some herbal mixture from New Seasons that seems to work throughout most of the day.

Lotion – Um, yeah… I haven’t made a recent batch in quite a while!  Mostly just because at night I am exhausted by the time the kids are in bed.  I have, though, discovered more recipes as well as done more research on ingredients and alternatives.  We currently use a regular store-bought brand that doesn’t have the main ingredients we are avoiding.

We are, however, making our own laundry soap, and I do love that.  It’s about a once a month to every 6 weeks requirement.

We are dairy free, with the exception of cheese and occasional sour cream when we have company.  We have coconut and almond milk yogurt as a treat and the kids LOVE it.  I am looking for a cheese replacement, and hope that soon the only diary we will ingest will be in the form of ingredients in foods we buy.

Life has taken a manic-ly busy turn, so I am no longer making our bread from scratch.  And, we are experimenting with going gluten free to see if this helps with respiratory and skin issues that haven’t completely been restored by going dairy free (tho things have improved!).  In the mean-time we eat bread from TJ’s that is rich in protein grains, such as quinoa.

As I cannot afford to go completely organic with meats, I am learning how to cook less, make it stretch more and incorporate more protein in our veggies and grains.  I am excited to say that I can make one organic chicken breast feed our whole family, with the help of these other sides.  It is a toss up though!  And we don’t always make the organic meat section…

I have discovered seaweed!  We have mixed revues around here… but this is a treat I first experienced in Australia, and Taiwan.  Amazing stuff!!  I was thrilled to find it at Trader Joe’s.  It is packed with vitamines and good stuff :).

The Pigs

The other morning I read in Matthew chapter 8, about Jesus healing two men from demonic possession and casting the demons into a herd of pigs at their request.  The pigs then plunged themselves down a steep hillside into water and drowned.  When the town heard of what happened and saw the formerly possessed men calmly sitting beside Jesus, they begged Jesus to go away and leave them alone.

I was struck by a couple things.  One, in verse 29, the demons knew exactly who Jesus was and asked his permission to be sent into the pigs – they knew his power and feared his presence and what his presence ment for them.  Not only did “some of them” as his permission, all of them obeyed his command to “go!”

But then, when the villagers heard what had happened and saw the results, they begged Jesus to “go away and leave them alone.”  What?!

Okay, so I have heard that the village was afraid for their wellbeing – that taxes were so high in those days and that pigs would have been a primary source of income, and that to have had a whole herd fling themselves into water to drown would have been devastating in an economic way.  Not to mention rather scary.

But, here, standing in front of them was a man so powerful that demons asked him for permission to flee from him, and violent men were set free and calmed simply by Jesus word.  Standing before their very eyes was the key to gaining more pigs!  I have to wonder if they had just asked him what to do about their income, if he would take care of them now that a source of provision was gone, what Jesus would have done.  Is there a miracle here, in this passage, that was never preformed because it was never asked for?

And then, I was hit between the eyes with one penetrating question.  One that has been rolling around inside be for these days since reading this passage.  How often do miracles go undone in my life, simply because I don’t ask?

More questions spring up from that one.  How many times have I seen God at work around me and begged to be overlooked by Him, for the sake of not being embarrassed or inconvenienced, or possible because the risk of loosing more freaks me out?  Or simply because I haven’t understood who was at work before my eyes? And is that just because I haven’t wanted to understand, because the implications of what I might understand would require something greater of me than I am willing to give?

Here in Scripture, an entire town had God-in-flesh in their presence, available for requesting, for inviting into their homes and possibly for receiving many other miracles that could have changed their lives forever – and they begged him to go away and leave them alone.

And the thing is, when it has come to the radical side of Jesus and what He has the power to do, I have responded exactly the same way. Despite my knowing the “rest of the story” and having all the evidence lining up to reveal who Jesus is.  Despite having knowledge that these villagers didn’t have, I have felt the exact same plea surging through me when faced with something bigger than I can grasp, something that potentially threatens my livelihood.

I need help beyond gaining understanding, I need the gift of asking and the ability to receive.  That simple child like faith that says, “okay, now that you’ve taken away my pigs, what are you going to replace them with?”  I need the ability to stand in the presence of miracles, of the miracle worker, and not only accept what I see but ask for what I need in the midst of it all.

One final thought that cuts deeply into me.  What was a miracle for two men, the act that saved their lives,  wreaked devastation for another – the pig herder, and possibly the entire village.  Am I willing to look at areas of devastation in my life as potential miracles for others, and to look at the author of my faith and thank Him for their miracle while asking Him, “now, what is the miracle you have for me?”

Can I stand in the presence of events that greatly impact my well-being, and that of my family, and without understanding, stand in awe of the God-in-flesh?  Can I praise Him for what He did in someone else’s life, while mine is left in seemingly ruins?  Can I move beyond confusion and disappointment, fear and the pain of what is before me, to ask, “what now, Lord” and look to Him with expectation?

  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
   neither are your ways my ways,” 
            declares the LORD. 
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
   so are my ways higher than your ways 
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9