in their longing // oh, to be…

Looking back on 2014, they’re overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness. Abundantly and exceedingly more than they could have asked or imagined, He has provided down to the detail beyond their wildest dreams. And grateful, they are. Yet, still, somehow, in their longing, they want more.

She longs to make a home their own. He longs to be financially secure. She longs to nurture. He longs to be great at what he does. She longs to create something original. He longs to have answers. She longs to go back to school. He longs to be free from temptation. She longs to be fit and healthy. He longs for control. She longs to connect with others. He longs to testify what is true. She longs to be funny. He longs to be right. She longs to be valued. He longs to be without fault.

O, to be home.
O, to be nurturer.
O, to be unique.
O, to be smart.
O, to be whole.
O, to be known.
O, to be enjoyed.
O, to be cherished.
Then, then… she would be loved.
She longs to be loved.

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O, to be secure.
O, to be great.
O, to be wise.
O, to be free.
O, to be mighty.
O, to be heard.
O, to be strong.
O, to be right.
Then, then…. he would be enough.
He longs to be enough.

O, to be loved
O, to be enough.
O, to be.

O, but, you are.

God created them and said, ‘This is my beloved daughter and my beloved son, in whom I’m well pleased, they are very good.’ Created by love, to love and for love, they are beloved, and their Father is pleased, they are enough. Their desire to know and be known and to love and be loved flows from the very heart of God. We were made to and for love.

If she’s beloved, why does she long for love? And him, he is good. His father is pleased. Why does he long to be more?

Something is not right. The reality of who God is, and who they are as His, has fallen far from what is believed to be true. In this abandonment of faith, even by the ounce, a chase after counterfeit gods of this world begins. And, year, after year, they are left longing. Security. Success. Fame. Acceptance. Riches. Perfection. Image… and the list goes on.

Longing to be loved, longing to be enough. They long to return to the undistracted reality of their belovedness, to be wholly known and utterly loved.

Paul’s letter to Rome reminds them that they are not alone, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God… For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees. But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (8:20-25)

Created to and for love, but fallen from it, they wait. With eager longing, they wait. And as they wait, they hold on to the hope of their salvation. Though they have fallen from love, there is One who saves them by, to and for love. He will bring them to glory. He has redeemed their belovedness. He has satisfied their longings. In him, she is loved. In him, he is enough.

O, to be. O, but, you are.

And longings combined, they have created a shop. 02Bloved, an expression, reminder, inspirer, teacher and revealer that in our longing, we have hope secure in Jesus Christ.

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Stay tuned to catch more of their heart and vision for 02B!

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He caught her

Once upon a fall, he caught her.

Sweet dear, wake up… let your first conscious thought stir into my affection. Feel the warmth of this fall sunrise on your face. I want to meet with you… There you are, my darling, good morning! Those eyes, I havn’t seen them so soft, so surrendered, so light, in so long. I see you, dear Kara, my beloved, I’ve been waiting months to see your gaze again. Your tender gaze, the way you rest in my arms, the stillness of your soul, I have missed you, my dearly, I have missed you so. Lay with me. You are safe here. Don’t move. Don’t wrestle. Just be. Just be with me. I have you. I won’t let you go. Keep your eyes fixed right here… Shhh… You don’t have to say anything. You don’t have to do, just be… Be with me, where you belong. Rest here, relief is here, right here, with me. My sweet, my, my, my dear, you are beautiful. You are precious. You are mine. Do you remember this? You are mine. My delight. My prize. My beloved. You are my beloved. I have named you as mine, one whom I radically love. But my sweet dear, my precious one, Where have you been? I’ve been fighting hard for this gaze, for this rest, for this trust. Have you been running from me? Where have you been hiding? That sneaky ole serpent, he’s at it again, isn’t he? His way of trickery, I know he’s at it again. He is relentless. He’s out to get you, my dear. He wants you to forget moments like these. He wants to separate you from me, to distract you from my love. My love, I will warn you. He knows you well. He knows you all too well. He knows what to whisper, and how to decieve, he knows how wet your longing outside of me. He’s had twenty six years to study you, watch you, follow you, and even before then, he anticipated his way of attack to steal you from me. He is on the prowl, stalking, seeking to devour, to kill and steal and destroy. I know you are weary. I know you are tired of resisting him. I know you are exhausted from his lies. I know you are hurt and scared from his schems. I know, dearly, I do know. I’ve been there,  and I empathize with you. This war, it will be over soon enough, but for now, you will battle, and precious one, you aren’t strong enough. Your fight isn’t mighty enough. But my love, not to worry. I hold you. Nothing, absolutely nothing can take you from my embrace. Long ago, I claimed victory over this war.  But, I need you to trust me, to trust my strength and not your own. Oh, sweet one, I want you. I want all of you, desperately, whole, forever mine. I want your gaze. I want your rest. I want you. I have secured you as mine. But dearly, you doubt me. You don’t believe this about me. You struggle to understand what I have done for you. It cost me everything, my life, but my love, you are worth it. You, I am so jealous for, and I will fight to show you my love, every day, I will fight. So, my beloved, rest. Rest in me. You’ve been trying to fight on your own, havn’t you? Aren’t you weary? Come to me. Let me take a look at those wounds. Oh sweet, those must sting, they are fresh and exposed. Heartwrentching pain huh? I know these wounds, afflicting, piercing… I feel the pain with you, even more than you can bare, I suffer this same sting. I suffered it for you long ago. I want to take it from you, can I? Can I take the pain from you? Would you let me kiss it? I know you don’t want me to, but it will bring healing. I promise, my touch, it heals… Now, then… These wounds, they’re all too familiar aren’t they? This isn’t your first battle is it? My little fighter, you are so ruthless in your rebellion, darling, you go so hard, with so much zeal and fervor, you run, you run like the wind, away from me, disregarding my strength, and you expose yourself to so much hurt. And as grieved as I am, I rejoice in this return. In this moment. I delight in rescuing you. I rejoice, because I get to show you my power, and might and love for you like you wouldn’t know if you didn’t run so hard. Let’s take a look at these scars, I want to show you something. I want to remind you of who I am, and what I have done. I promise, my dear, I will do it again and again and again. I am your healer. Look here, see this one. You may not remember it as clearly as I do. You were young, youthful and innocent. My dear, this wound was one inflicted upon you.  You had no control, you were powerless. I wanted to protect you, because I knew how disabling this wound would be, but more than that, I knew how beautiful I could make it. I know so much more, and I know that now for a little while, this wound would bring great suffering, great pain and great heartache, but I also can see the beauty in it the full awe of it. I knew that in allowing this wound, you would be destined to fall back into my arms over and over again.  It was gruesome, debilitating, earth shattering, and jaw dropping, they gaped upon your wallowing and asked, “Will she make it? Will she survive? That is a messy one.” I assured the great cloud, “Oh, this one, she will thrive. Though intended for evil, I will make this attack beautiful, glorious and of my splendor.” And look at you now! You are radiant. Even in your hurting, in your limping and despairing, you glow my glory.  I will come back to secure it. And all these others, they are secondary scars, where you ran away to find healing for this one outside of me. Some self inflicted, others of an attack.These scars, my dear, they aren’t meant to hide, to be ashamed of. Sweet Kara, these scars testify of my redeeming work. It’s miraculous. So don’t hide them, expose them, so that others can experience healing, also. I’m bringing this wound there, to my complete and whole and redeemed glory. Thats what this war is about. My victory. It has been finished. Rest in the reality that I have already fought this for you. I know you’ve been chasing after the wind lately, but I have you home now. I want to tend to you, to care for you. Will you let me? All you need is to be. Be still. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. You are mine. Love of my life, look deep in my eyes. There you will find what you need. And give me your life, the lust and the lies and the past you’re afraid I might see. You’ve been running away from me, but you are my beloved, lover, I’m yours. Death shall not part us, it’s you I died for. For better or worse, forever we’ll be. My love it unites us, and it binds you to me. It’s a mystery. I’m the giver of life. I’ll clothe you in white. My immaculate bride you will be. Oh, come running home to me. You’ve been a mistress, my wife, chasing lovers that won’t satisfy. Won’t you let me make you my bride? You will drink of my lips, and taste new life. You’re my beloved.

in her pretending

Since my last post, the sun sits a little different in the sky, the night air has a briskier bite, and my iced fruity refreshments have turned to steamy pumpkin comforts.

The seasons are indeed, shifting.

And in the shifting of seasons, in the transition of a new job, into a new house and among a new community, a still small voice challenges her being,  “Who are you, and what are you doing here?”

She likes to think she knows who she is. She even has a sure answer, and it accurately reflects the essence of her existence, that is, when she FEELS loved by God, when her life is together and support systems are in place. Self-acceptance here is relatively easy. She may even claim that she is coming to love herself. When she is strong, on top, in control, and ‘in fine form’, her sense of security crystalizes.

But what happens when life begins to spin out of control? What happens when she no longer FEELS loved, when her seasons begin to shift, when her sin is exposed and her failures are highlighted? What happens when her fears come true, and her dreams shatter? What happens when, yet again, she comes face to face with the human condition?

[She] sits beneath this honest tree of [her] freedom, and [her] insecurity. And [she] goes back and forth between where [she] is, and where [she] wants to be. And [she] wrestles with the doubts that crowd, [her] redemption and release. And [she] struggles with what people think, and what I think of me….

(Donna Stuart, ‘Carry Me’)

In this in between a false self rises, ‘the imposter’ as Brennan Manning describes in his book, Abba’s Child (the following is a personalization of his thoughts). In her false hood, she is a pretender, a compromiser of her true self, insecure in her own skin and using others for how she might win.

in her pretending,

Adapting to each evolving situation, she has no personality of her own. She prefers to be plain; to blend in, there is less of her to reject that way. She wants only to be safe, to fit in, to be accepted, to be liked.  She is incapable of direct speech, she hedges, waffles, procrastinates, and remains silent out of a fear of rejection. Her opinions and ideas remain unspoken. Silence is safer.

Because of her suffocating need to please others, she cannot say no with the same confidence with which she says yes. She overextends herself in people, projects, and causes, motivated not by personal commitment, but by fear of not living up to others expectations. Living out of her creates a compulsive desire to present a perfect image to the public so that everybody will admire her yet she will remain unknown. Her life becomes a perpetual roller-coaster rode of elation and depression.

She is preoccupied with her weight, and is often grieved by the scale indications from the night before binging. Her reflection in a side store window kidnaps her attention away from the voice of Jesus and temporarily rob her of the Truth of His Word. She sizes herself up against any roomful of women. She finds ways to justify a preoccupation with her waistline and overall appearance cunningly and creatively with cultural health trends. She is obedient to the whisper of lies. She is narcissistically obsessive. The amount of time, energy and thought she devotes to acquiring and maintaining a certain image is staggering.

She strives after the woman that she wants to be, but who cannot exist, because God does not know anything about her. She draws identity from meeting the needs of others and performing with excellence. She wants to stand well with people of prominence because that enhances her sense of self-worth. Success to her is people liking and approving of her. Failure is being rejected.

She assumes the passive role in relationships, snuffs out her creative thinking, denies her real feelings, allows herself to be intimidated by others and then rationalizes her behavior by coaxing the ‘gentle and quiet spirit- woman of peace’ card. She is devoted to a life in the shadows. She hungers for excitement and craves some mood-altering experience.

She is afraid.

She is in me, and she must be called out of hiding, accepted and embraced. She is an integral part of my total self. The art of gentleness towards her leads to being gentle with others. Hatred of the pretender in me is actually self-hatred, and self-hatred always results in some form of self-destructive behavior. (i.e. for this season, gluttony manifested in 13lbs. since my last post) And I scorn her for the result of this rebellion. However, with a graciousness and an understanding of human weakness that only God can exhibit, He thus liberates us from alienation and self-condemnation and offers each of us a new possibility. He is the Savior who saves us from ourselves. His Word is freedom. Jesus discloses God’s true feelings toward us in the life He lived in the flesh when He dwelt among us. The understanding and compassion He offered those He encountered then, He also offers you and me.

Over the past year, I’ve begged of God a meek and feeble request that he might cause me to fall in love with myself. Not in an arrogant and self-righteous manner, but from an attitude of humility, to view myself from His gaze, by His grace. To love myself with each breath, breathing in simultaneously through one nostril awareness of who I am without Jesus, insufficient, depraved and desperate, and through the other, who I am with Him, perfected, loved and redeemed. Both are significant to the bane of my existence as a follower of Christ, to be known accurately, and loved wholly. But how might I extend this love as an agent of His to others if I resist to extend it to myself? I can’t.

So what will it take to ‘love me for me’? To love not only the me that FEELS lovable, but to love the me that frustrates me most, to love the me that is most despised, shamed and criticized.  To love the pretender. What will it take to embrace her with the same understanding and compassion that Christ asks us to follow Him in?

Hence, a letter to her:

Hi there, Pretender,

After years treating you with contempt and shame, my heart softens as if I’m looking into your eyes for the first time. I’ve long viewed you as a ragamuffin of a little girl, victimized and abused, neglected and abandoned; one to keep hidden, unacknowledged and left out. When I think of your present position in my life, I see the parts of me playing a game of Red Rover on my elementary school playground at recess. Lined up, hand in hand, I see Outgoing Kara entertaining the crowd, Deep Thinker Kara gazing into the sky, Tender Hearted Kara restoring harmony, Competitive Kara keeping score, Planner Kara directing the game, Prepared Kara suited appropriately, Fun Kara dancing around, Organized Kara administrating order, Creative Kara crafting with dandelions, Light Hearted Kara hootin’ and hollarin’, Reserved Kara taking it all in…. and then, there on the sidelines, in the shadows, ignored and unnoticed by all, there you are, Pretender Kara, crying out to be-loved. Even Tender Hearted Kara is too jaded to acknowledge you, let alone invite you to join in on the adventure of life. They know that you are there, but choose to ignore you. Why? When were you cast out? When did it all change?

When my sister was hurt, and my parents were doing their best with the circumstances at hand, you intervened and showed me where to hide. At that moment in time, you were invaluable. Without your intervention I would have been overwhelmed by dread and paralyzed by fear. You were there for me and played a crucial, protective role in my development. Thank you. You taught me where I could be me. In the safety of my closet, and in the muffle of my pillow, I could express myself fully. But in the construction process you taught me how to hide my real self from everyone and initiated a lifelong process of faking it, or as Momma would say, ‘Cowboyin’ up’. Your resourcefulness enabled me to survive. But you gained momentum a little too quickly, and your saving places became hidden disgraces. You started lying to me. ‘Kara,’ you whispered, ‘if you persist in this thoughtlessness of being yourself, you will be alone. No one will love you. Stuff your feelings, shut down your memories, withhold your opinions, and develop social graces so that you’ll fit in wherever you are.’ And the masking began. A variety of people and places stroked this behavior. It was admirable. How could I object? Instead, I just fed you. Your appetite for attention and affirmation became insatiable. I never confronted you with this lie because I was deceived and hardened myself. The reality, my dear one, is that you are both needy and selfish. You need care, love and a safe dwelling place. You long to be in the presence of Jesus. Your days of running recklessly are over with. Slow your roll. In His presence, I notice that you have begun to shrink. Wanna know somethin’ little one? You’re much more attractive that way, smaller and slower. I am nicknaming you, “Pretty”. Pre-tender: a state prior to tenderness; Pre-teen: your birth season, but Pretty: my acknowledgement, compassion and acceptance towards you. Naturally, you are not going to go away. I wouldn’t want that. You are a part of me. However, you will not control me. I know you will get frazzled at times, and start to act out, but the longer you spend time in the presence of Jesus, the less adoration you will need because you will have discovered for yourself that He is Enough. And in the Presence, you will delight in the discovery of what it means to live by grace and not by performance.

So, Pretty, wanna come play Red Rover?

Kara

as she radiates

 

So, what’s with the sunflowers?

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When I was a little girl, my aunt worked as a florist in a flower shop in Dallas. On an occasionally rare summer day, I would spend the afternoon at the shop, creating with my little imagination and busying my little hands, pretending that I, too, was a little florist. Each time I visited, my aunt would inquire which of the flowers was my favorite, and each time, I directed my awe towards the bold and radiant face of the strong stemmed sunflower. Something about its captivating warmth ignited a sense of wonder in my little spirit. No other flower got me like it did, and there in that flower shop a little seed was planted in my heart…

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And as that little seed sprouted she found that no matter how hard she worked, or how much she strived, she could not become a flower on her own. She desperately needed rain, sun and soil in order to thrive. This little sprout had no need to worry, for she was so dearly loved even before she became a seed. So loved in fact, that ever so faithfully, the rains replenished, the soil rooted and the sun cultivated. And one day, this little sprout blossomed into a radiant sunflower, one whose image reflected that of the Sun and it’s rays that brought her to life. The Sun so loved His little sunflower, that as He rose in the east sky each morning, He captured her attention with His love and maintained it throughout the day and into the night as He settled through dusk in the west sky. In response, the little sunflower so loved the Sun that she could not leave the gaze of His face. She was so dependent on His rays for life, that she actually followed His lead across the sky until night, and waited for Him to rise again each morning.

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The Sun loved His sunflower, and she loved the Sun. Everything was absolutely perfect…. for a while. But then the seasons began to shift, and a powerful wind came from the north nearly snapping her strong stem. Before she could recover from such a destructive force, a bitter winter attacked with freezes that sent her into a state shock and confusion. She began to question the Sun and His love for her… Why didn’t He protect her from such significant pain and abuse? She wondered if the Sun had forgotten about her, or if He cared about her. And worse of all, she questioned if He even loved her at all. These seasons caused a drooping of insecurity in her strong stem, and her confidence in the Sun’s rays was thwarted.

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Because she hesitated to believe the Sun’s love for her, she looked around her to find significance. She often found herself leaning upon other sunflowers, which seemed to only take her deeper into the shadows and further away from the Sun’s rays. Before long, she found herself with no one else to lean on, and she was alone. The wilt of her stem was so damaged from hurt that had been done to her and the hurt she had done to others, that in the shadow of her own petals she could barely catch a glimpse of the Sunlight.

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In her loneliness and in the barrenness of drought that had plagued her seed, the Sun began to woo her to Himself, and there He restored her with the truth of his love for her. He made a promise to her and told her that he would always rise for her and chase after her with His rays because she is precious in His eyes, and honored, and He loves her. She so badly wanted to believe Him and receive the love of His rays, but she was afraid. What about the wind? and the cold? What if she got lost in the shadows? How would she find His rays again? The sun assured her that though the seasons may be tough and His face may become hard to find, He would always be with her. 

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And so the seasons came and went, some brutally tore down, and others graciously built up. At times, she stood alone among a field of weeds, and other times she was surrounded by a community of other thriving sunflowers. Regardless, each day the Sun was faithful to His promise, and in His rays, her stem grew stronger through each season.

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The sunflower began to notice how sensitive she was to the trying times, and became angry at the Sun for giving her the tendencies of a weak and needy sunflower. She wished she was a different flower. The roses didn’t require as much sunlight, and the lilies were miraculously resilient. Why couldn’t she be like them? Why did she feel the hurt so deeply? The Sun reassured her of how perfectly He had created her with a specific purpose as a sunflower. Yes, she was sensitive to the forces of nature, but her tenderness cultivated strength in her to persevere, and that perseverance produced a character of hope and a giftedness to understand, comfort and cultivate that hope for other sunflowers. Her presence inspired positivity and an uplifting, warm, calm and steady atmosphere. In her passion and a zeal, life blossomed around her. The Sun also acknowledged how dear she was to him, because no other flower was as desperate for His rays as she was. He reminded her that in her neediness and weakness, she is dependent on him, and there, she thrives most radiantly.

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As the seasons circulated, she found what the Sun said was true about her. She believed him, and the more captivated by the Sun she was, the more confident she was in His rays. In her dependence on Him, she was living the life she was created for, and it was the life she had always imagined. She was a beloved companion of the Sun, and she believed it.

It is in her belovedness that she comes alongside of others to inspire the love of the Sun by cultivating the hope and grace of Him who leaves no remnant of shame. I imagine in her in her belovedness and I see a field stretching endlessly of sunflowers whose faces are confidently fixed on the Sun as they reflect the radiance of His image and the glorious splendor of His name.

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She is a sunflower.

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God gave me this little word picture in December of 2011 hence igniting an infatuation with sunflowers as a reminder of who I am as a ‘beloved companion’ and what I am created for in the coming alongside of others to inspire the love of Christ. Since the revelations of the this picture, I have asked the Lord to show me a field of sunflowers reflecting the radiance of the sun. I often pretended the Texas highways lined of wild weeded of mini yellows and browns satisfied this request, but inside, I longed to see the real deal. I thought driving to Kansas might be the only way to get there, but when would I have a time or a legitimate reason to do that? To meet my dream in the middle, this vibrant blossom has a tendency to pop up on my desktop background, facebook cover photo, accenting my room or adding a splash to the white watercolor pad beneath my paint brush. Additionally, the Lord likes to remind me of my belovedness as His, by using a dear friend to refresh my bedstand with a few fresh cut stems or reveal unexpected glimpses of a the yellow petals throughout my day. However, I always imagined that the field of dreams would be left up to me to find for myself…

I once believed that my life as a sunflower was a life of shame, one to be kept in the shadows. I thought that certain ‘seasons’ should never be shared, and should remain private. This was fed by my fear of disappointment, rejection and motivated by my longing for approval and acceptance. Last March, God told me that He wasn’t finished with my story. That the story He was writing in my life was not my story of shame, but His story of grace, to be testified of as His redemptive rescue. I clamored at the thought of it, and rejected His command. But over the next ten months He softened my heart to the idea of sharing His story of grace, not only with those who I felt safe with, but also as He asked me at random and to those who have been tormented in the same seasons as I have. So, in December of this year, He exhorted me with, “On your mark, get set, GO!!!” And I began to testify openly of how He had saved me from darkness and my own destructive ways.

Over the past two months, I’ve been given opportunities to testify of His story of grace in my life in front of five different large groups, and each time He has been faithful to meet me where He’s called me. In sharing about the ‘seasons of shame’, He’s overwhelmed me with blossoms of others seeking refuge from similar tormenting, and I am blown away, and humbled as He continues to reveal His sovereignty.

My last opportunity to share was in front of a group of middle school through young adult aged ladies as I spoke on who we are as the beloved bride of Christ. I woke up the next morning more exhilarated for the Lord than I can ever remember being and was moved to tears as my roommate and I processed the evening that had preceded us. Overwhelmed in awe, I was excited to have a three hour drive to Cleburne for my mom’s birthday to reflect and rejoice in God’s grace, power and faithfulness. Singing, dancing, smiling and crying filled the next two hours as I eagerly anticipated a weekend of rest at home with my family.

In my last stretch of windows down and JJ Heller up, I saw a field painted in yellow on the horizon. I thought, “Hmmm, how cool would it be if that was a field of sunflowers… Nah, it would be too absolutely perfect to be true. Not here outside of Hillsboro, TX on a road I’ve driven a hundred times before…” My mind got distracted in thought and I forgot about the brief glimpse. About five minutes later, I dazingly glanced to my left, and there it was, extending as far in the distance as I could see staring directly at me and captivated by the sun in the sky behind me, a field of sunflowers….

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Each one, radiantly fixed on the sun. I had never seen anything more glorious.

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I immediately whipped a U-Turn, pulled over, jumped a fence and ran recklessly into my dream come true, arms high and heart abandoned. Tears painted my face as I caught my breath in awe of God’s specific and significant love for me.

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And He reminded me, “You, my beloved, are a sunflower. I am the sun, and I hold you in my rays. Absolutely nothing can separate you from my love. It is by grace dear one, through faith and for my glory that in your belovedness, you radiate alongside of other sunflowers as they follow my lead across the sky. Well done, my faithful one. I am proud of you, and I love you.”

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along her journey

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to participate in a ‘Silent Retreat’. The intent was to get away, get alone, get quite, be still and acknowledge God. I’m not going to lie, initially, I wasn’t thrilled about it. I had just come off a week saturated with time to myself and the last place I wanted to be going into my weekend was alone.

Regardless, I brought plenty to-do and planned on filling this time alone with tasks to distract me from quiteing my busy mind. I  began my Saturday of silence and solitude finishing up the daunting task of my personal inventory, one of the rigorous steps of Recovery. In taking a break, I decided it would be a good idea to go for a run to hammer out and relax the tenseness in my body before lunch. I took off at a faster pace than normal and followed this well marked trail…

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Just past ten minutes into my run, this well marked path began to disappear. I frusteratingly slowed my steps to keep an extra eye on my footing. Inside, I heard a still soft voice whispering, “Kara my dear, slow down. You’re going to miss me.” I ignored this beckoning and focused on burning off my AppleJacks from earlier that morning.

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The trail became increasingly unpredictable, and in debating a turn around, I heard the voice again, “Just slow down, I want to meet you, but you can’t see me when you’re running so fast. Stop and look.”  At last, I gave in, kicking a few rocks out of irritation as I caught my breath. ‘You have my attention now!’ I mumbled saracstically in my thoughts. As I wandered down the path seeking to discern its vagueness, I began to contemplate how this hike mirrored my own life’s journey.

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There were several times where the path’s subtleness became so slight that I had to pause and survey my surroundings to find it’s lead. At one point, I lost all sight of the trail, and found myself wandering around, tracing and retracing my steps, drifting into panic as I neared twenty minutes without a hint of direction.

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In my hurry to regain guidance, my feeble ankle gave way as I stepped harshly on a rock causing my whole leg to buckle, losing my footing and falling to the ground below.  I walked it off with a slight limp, but strength was quick to rejuvenate my stride as I relocated the path ahead. This was the first of many ankle turns, slips and trips, some worse than others, each a reminder to keep careful watch over my foot placement especially when the trail turned rigid and rocky.

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The path varied in its terrain, at times I was refreshed alongside of trickling waters…

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shaded by a large live oak tree…

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disturbed by dryness and desolation…

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confused by unclear options…

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haunted by a barren riverbed…

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decieved by beauty, and pricked by a thorn…

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captivated by the lushness of spring surrounding me…

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 and romanced by the ever present whisping of wildflowers and clicking flutters of butterflies…

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After about an hour of hiking, my stomach began to rumble, and I wondered how, when and where I would find my way back to the camp grounds for lunch. Flustered in the angst of uncertainty I picked up the pace of my steps longing to return to familiarity. As anxiety became rampant in my thoughts, I anticipated the possibility of my brisk moving Asics catching the tail of a snake. I began to plead with the whisperings in my head, “Can’t we just get back already? Take me home! Please, Daddy, I am afraid.” And just then, my sight caught glimpse of a sliced view of spectacularity just over the hill I was tredging. I topped the tomult to encounter a foretaste of glory…

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Anxiety instantly faded as I found myself alone before the cross. There, the whispers became almost audible, “Beloved, remember, I am with you. Be still. Acknowledge me. Listen to me. Let me remind you of my love for you.”

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“I know this journey you are on seems long and hard. It is full of various kinds of suffering, confusion, angst and uncertainty, but, dear one, this journey brings you home to me. Though you cannot see me now, you believe in me, and I am with you. I am with you in every step. In fact, I have gone before you and I come behind you. When the path is well defined and effortless to endure, and when the path is ambiguous and daunting threatening your footing with each step, I am with you. I am with you when you slip and fall, when you’re confused, and even when you get lost. I feel your pain, and I hear your cry. I will protect you from snakes, and will make my way known to you. Do not fear. I have redeemed you. Remember dearly, you are worth my life, worth dying for, not because of anything you have done, but because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…”

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“I know that you’re anxious for me to come back for you, once and for all, but darling the journey isn’t over yet. Until then, I am preparing a place for you, my Spirit is with you, and I long to bless you with glimpses of my glory, and reminders of my love to give you a foretaste of my promises fulfilled. Slow down to seek me, and when you find me, follow me.  I have spectacular veiws in store for you…”

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“Trust me, beloved, you are mine.”

The weight of this love humbled me to a weak collapse laying across the bench beneathe the cross. I breathed deeply, and rest assured of His presence with me. A tear painted my cheek as I realized  how quick I am to busy my thoughts, obsess over distractions, succomb to fear, speed up in impatience and altogether, forget who I am as a beloved companion of the Most High God.

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However, regardless of my faithlessness, whoredom and imperfection, my Redeemer is relentless in chasing after me, and He won’t ever stop. I can’t get away. Some how, I am precious in His eyes and He has called me worthy. Worthy enough to die for.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8