It’s been quite some time since I wrote anything here. After five years of writing every week, I just stopped writing here one day. This past winter and spring were incredibly hard. Things were hard for those I love. Things were hard for those I parent. While I wasn’t writing here, I was writing out my prayers to God, and I remember telling Him that it felt like everything around me was broken. I feel things deeply, and my heart felt like a bag of rocks.
It was a season where God called us to open our hands and release some of the things we had been white-knuckling. An invitation to hide once more under the shadow of His wings. I fought it, of course, wanting to believe things could all go back to normal. But He gently reminded me that normal might be my heart’s false security, but it wasn’t my heart’s true desire.
Watering my houseplants this morning, I paused next to the fern to observe a few fronds beginning their unfurling. This season has been my own unfurling. That slow surrender that the stories God writes don’t end with a fancy bow or a happily ever after. Everybody wants the feel-good ending, but the messy middle is where God is doing the hard heart work. I want to see the end. I want to know how it all turns out. But God gives manna for the day. And if I try to hoard, I’m left with maggots. A few Sundays ago I walked up for communion, tore off a piece of bread, dipped it in crimson liquid and walked back to my seat. I sat there and thanked God for this manna, this daily provision, His body broken, His blood poured out.
I look at the calendar and each day brings us one box closer to one year. One year since our girls were all under one roof. One year since one journey ended and another began. Many of the days have been harder than I could ever have imagined, but His manna has been certain. And on those days when I wrote telling Him that everything felt broken, He would gently remind me, “I know brokenness. My body broken. My blood poured out.”
This unfurling has led to sweet new friendships and fresh stirrings. God continues to push us out of our comfort zone, and I’m (stubbornly) grateful. For Him to leave me alone would be the biggest disappointment of my life. To be hidden in Him and with Him–that’s the manna. The bread on my lips. The crimson liquid that washes me clean.
Altar. A year ago when I chose my word for 2017, I could not have imagined just how that word would come to encapsulate this past year. It really wasn’t until the last few days in December when I sat jaw-dropped in front of my Bible with the Holy Spirit putting all the pieces together before me. I chose the word altar because that’s what I desire for my life, a place to meet with God, a place to draw near to Him, a space for awe and worship. During the final days of Advent, I was reading about Abraham and his testing, of his carrying his miracle child, the one he prayed and waited so long for, up the mountain and on the altar. There was the word I had focused on all year. And the pieces came together. The things we had walked through the past twelve months resonated with Abraham’s journey. While Abraham’s faith was mighty, mine certainly has never felt mighty. But I have a mighty tribe. I am surrounded by mighty warriors of faith who held me up when I was faltering. Who pushed me on when I didn’t think I could keep going. I got teary seeing Eve’s picture in the #bestnine photos of friends and family at the end of the year. You climbed the mountain with us. You believed in our Jehovah-Jireh alongside us. You let us borrow your faith when ours felt so weak. Together, we invited God to meet with us in our fear and begging. And He did. He drew near to us in ways that can’t be described.
And now we find ourselves in a new year, and I find myself thanking God for the ways He revealed Himself last year and praying for the ways He will reveal Himself this year. This word I pray for every year is no small thing. This year’s word is one the Holy Spirit kept bringing to my attention for several months, since my birthday in September really. Matt gave me a beautiful framed print by an artist whose work I love. In Clare’s tiny handwriting at the bottom of the painting is the title of the piece–Hidden. Reading its title reminded me of the book I had recently finished by Sara Hagerty called Unseen.
“Noticing and tending to my roots–my inner and hidden life with God–seemed secondary when there were important ministry branches to climb and spiritual fruit to produce and pick. But God was ever so gently inviting me back to the soil. To hide in Him rather than perform for Him, to shift my attention from branches to roots, from my visible work for God to my unseen life in God.”
Last year felt very much like a time for reaching–giving God my yes and letting Him take me far outside my comfort zone. But this year I’m feeling an invitation for rooting. Digging in. Planting. Nourishing the soil. Giving God my yes and letting Him hide me. My prayer for this year is that my greatest work will be done within these four walls we call home and within these four girls we call daughters. And that His great work will be done within these four chambers I call heart.