In a culture that worships a false normal of beauty and worth…

photo of night sky with stars

Photo by Bryan Schneider

“Some of the greatest lies you will ever believe are told by your own eyes.”  Says the  writer Preston Sprinkle

We have been talking about this issue in American culture for the last twenty-five years and I don’t see much change in the message. Even in the age of reality TV shows like “the Voice” while the auditions are blind so that a judge cannot pick the contestant on any merit other than their voice we find that if they make it past the blind auditions they are quickly given a Hollywood stylist and their clothes, make-up, and hair are tweaked here and there and by the time the contest is over for that season the person is “acceptably attractive.” Even as far back as Carrie Underwood winning American Idol or Kelly Clarkson…if you go back and look at them you can see they were “made” more acceptable.

With God, your image, yours and mine, we are acceptable just as we are but I cannot for the life of me understand why we cannot get past these stereotypes of how one should look, and dress, and even age…

As a believer in God, Jesus Christ and the Bible I have no problem believing that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-seeing, creator of ninety trillion million stars, the ocean, the tide, the sun, the earth…(You get the picture). Nobody tells God what he can or cannot do.

I have a harder time believing that this same transcendent Holy God would reach down to his earth and rescue his human race which makes him also an intimate God. A God who desires relationship with the people he created, with me and you. He isn’t playing a game of cosmic chess with us. He doesn’t love us begrudgingly yet most of us have a difficult time believing that same huge God who we believe created us and everything around us truly cares about us. That he delights in us. That he thinks of us more often than there are grains of sand? That he can’t wait for me to come talk and walk with him? That I am more beautiful than any sunset or sunrise could ever be? That he wants to be my friend and even more astonishing that He trusts me? That he never gives up on me just like the father in the story of the prodigal son He never stops looking out to the horizon to see if I am coming home after making a mess of everything in my life! He loves to hear my joy of laughter or singing. He is patient and kind and slow to anger. He loves my face and my body. He loves me!

It is an endless dance of performances and masks that I grow so very weary of. Are you weary? I cannot sustain what I think that you think I need to look like to be acceptable. This is the burden of societal shame. 

So, I must not let my own eyes deceive me in commercial ads, in billboard ads, in Playboy, in movies, in T.V.

I work with young women. Eating disorders, body image, and anxiety is at an all time high in this country. It is a fact. They believe they must be thin, quiet, and good all the time. They believe they are ugly and not made by God and in His image at all. What a toll it has taken on our people.

God sees his children as beautiful. He sees each race as beautiful. His redemption of his children cannot be thwarted by any scheme of Evil or of man. So, I choose to look at myself through the eyes of my Father God who created me. I choose to look into his eyes and see myself as his beloved daughter. A daughter of beauty in every way and that He came down from heaven and redeemed me with his Grace and lets me walk with him daily and talk with him freely and never feel that I am ugly or unworthy of his love and blessings.

My spirituality, my beauty, my worth is upheld by God’s stubborn Grace and deep enjoyment of me.  It is  God whom I reflect and even if my eyes lie to me a thousand times it does not change the Truth one bit. I am precious, beloved, and I do belong to Him. I am beautiful…

I want my daughters and their sons and daughters to know they are more than even their own eyes tell them they are.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity into our human hearts; no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes  3:11

but grief always takes a side in things that really matter…

 

beach bottle cold daylight

Photo by Snapwire

 

Like a message in a bottle bobbing in the water

Sun bleached and salty skinned I washed upon the shore

 

I am made from stronger stuff than it appeared

being born an old soul, competent and sure

 

I wished for middle ground, something I could manage

But grief always takes sides in things that really matter

 

The literal peeling of my skin and raw down to the marrow

I wanted to die and be done with the making of this sorrow

 

Then a warm hand put a cup of water to my mouth

I lapped it up as if water wasn’t all around me

 

A voice said, ” I am grief and I am not here to take you under

But you must take a side in things that really matter.”

 

 

 

 

 

The Devil Came to Cuba

 

antique automobile automotive car

Photo by Pixabay

Blue crystal deepest ocean

Hot sun high in the sky

The devil came to Cuba

Had to run or die

 

You came seeking refuge

The way so unclear

Fighting hard for freedom

You let me see the years

 

We are old and wise now

We cannot count the “ifs”

I still hear your Latin song

And taste Cuba on my lips

A Gift from High School…

1975

I met a young sweet boy in high school. He was trying to find his way to manhood with a heart so kind and fragile. I, as well, had no idea how to handle the heart of anyone. I desired to be careful yet there is an “innocent ignorance” of youth that is just brutal…
This boy thought that I was unattainable as he watched me from afar laughing with other boys… Oh the angst of those lovely awful years of high school! None of us can know the “power” we have to hurt others…I certainly didn’t.

I liked high school for mostly social reasons. Academically I was only interested in English Lit, and writing with a little bit of interest in history. I suppose I was a “cool kid” in the world of “labels” that befall us in high school. However I was terrified of being a fake. I will never forget one of my classmates who could cut you deeply with his wit…he reminded us almost all of the time that we were ALL fake! I just love that he did that. (Thank you Bill)

One day the sweet boy waited for me after school and asked if he could give me a ride in his car. I said yes and his face turned red. At the time I had no idea how much courage that took but I understand it now. After all the possibility of rejection drives the human soul to craziness.

Now it is some forty years later but I have never forgotten that gentle boy…he went his way and made his life. He is a man now. A good man. I knew he would be…and even now I will smile when I remember what he said to me one day…”you are beautiful inside and out”…such few words yet having a major impact. I took those words with me from that day. I have tried to live up to them and failed many times. It made me want to be a better person…it still makes me want to be better…Thank you sweet boy…I remember…

“now to see things clear is hard enough I know while you’re waiting for reality to show…but when you have a real friend somewhere it makes all the others so much easier to bear…” Jackson Browne

All the Pretty Horses

girl standing near carousel

Photo by Abby Chung 

 

Joni Mitchell and a cup of tea…

I shut the door so no one can see

and dream of something kept underground

when I had to jump off that merry-go-round.

 

I loved the ride and all the pretty horses

I loves what I thought I would be.

I would have sold my blood to be published

so all the work could read.

 

 

I would wax eloquent and be held in high esteem…

all the other riders would admire me.

They would gaze at me on my grand carousel

marveling at all the wisdom I share.

 

Well now I speak in present tense…

the merry-go-round broken down and spent.

For my profound literature there is no need

I still like Joni and a cup of tea.

sjad

Cage of Flesh and Bone

 

brass wrought container

Photo by Jessica Cortez

 

I heard there was a party not in this Cage of flesh and bone

Since there is little or no magic here, I am stepping on down the road

 

Time is out of mind, send me an inviting card

Just swaying in the Twilight, leaving earth won’t be so hard

 

I was interviewed in a gutter, took a catnap in a palace grand

Just a wayfaring woman, Shadowing the Promise Land

 

A duchess lost in fiction in love with a Strangers moon

Now Truth is my destination, Time will be forgotten soon…

 

 

Sharp shooter on the roof top (part two)

2.

ancient antique armor armour

Photo by Maria Pop

I walk on vigilant for any inkling of the enemy’s presence…deafening silence

yet in a split-second a pervasive white mist envelopes me…

I feel heavy weight and aching in my body  and spirit,  it is the supreme stealth weapon of the enemy

 

It is shame, my most relentless foe

The ballast of Shame slaughters aggressively,  the deadliest of weapons, worse than sarin  gas…

If I don’t kill it, it will kill me and all it touches, shame is unholy from hell

 

I cry out to the King,  blood seeping from my chest, a razor-sharp slice

I did not feel it at the point of entry

Towering above the shame the King appears, brandishing his two-edged sword

it blazes and radiates like a million Suns, in a blink the sharp shooter

on the roof top falls dead

 

I am blind now, crouching down behind my shield of Faith

the King wields his Holy two-edged sword and shame screeches like the demon it is…

instantly there is silence, my heart is no longer bleeding, I regain my sight

 

The Holy Spirit is the watchman, the Angels encamp around me

I savor the Holy rest of  victory this day…

 

 

Sharp shooter on the roof top (part one)

  1. war chess

    Photo by Gladson Xavier

I dreamed I am  in guerrilla warfare, watching sharp shooters on the roof tops

The King was right when he said we do not fight flesh and bone

Yet we insist on killing our own over and over,  the choice made, cannot be taken back

There are many traitors among us, or most likely they never were a child of the King

 

They look just like me so I cannot know who will gun me down, it is not for me to judge

The Truth can pierce the bone from the marrow, I know because it happened to me…

I must don God’s armor at all times, be vigilant in lie detection, oh the enemy is so smooth, it is a false light…

My heart is pounding, I cannot be silent, for every day is a day of war in the spiritual realm, to immense to be ignored

 

The manifold wisdom of God sees all, the Captain of the host holds all power in his name, Messiah, Jesus, God with us

So I take up my weapons… the belt  of Truth, the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation

I continue to walk behind the enemy line for I know the Battle is the Lord’s, I long to remain a diligent warrior

The sharp shooter is still on the roof, the scope on the rifle is aimed at my head, I can see his eyes dead like dolls eyes

I choose to keep walking

 

 

The solitude of mere humanity (another lesson from Job)

 

person sky silhouette night

Photo by Snapwire

The solitude of mere humanity…without tasting the solitary aloneness of  yourself before the God who created you one cannot experience the path to the Cross of Jesus Christ. Our parents faith, our family, our worldly status, our friends cannot enter into this solitude with us. The paradox of the supernatural and eternal Unity of the Cross with the certainty that we each must meet and know God alone is the reality each human must face.  This is the story of Job and every other human.

There is no way around it but it need not be a terrifying solitude. We cannot hide from this meeting with the Holy.  It is an offensive, not defensive stance.  To come home like the Prodigal son, to repent, to rejoice in the Wholeness provided in Jesus. To remove the facade of religious and worldly answers and simply stand unashamed and naked like Adam did when he was molded from the dirt and dust of the earth in the wonderful marvelous light of God’s presence. There is an innocent soberness to this kind of solitude.  Just us before God without another single human being.

It is in the solitude of mere humanity where there is intimacy without playing games. We all experience a time of total loneliness in this life yet in that place something within us cries out to us that we are NOT alone.  Job experienced this. Jesus certainly experienced this in the most utmost sense of the word. God does not play games with us. We came into this world naked and alone and we will leave this world with the solitary escort of the Holy Spirit of God into the very presence of our Creator, Savior, and King Jesus. That is so astounding and kind and simple.

I believe that God is in love with our human-ness. We are his ultimate design an image bearer of our God. We are the Crown of his creation. Not only does God love us he delights in and trust us with the lives he has given us and in our solitary aloneness  with him we can know these truths intimately.