He Is

I am Alex.

I am a wife. A mother. A daughter. A sister.

Beloved.

I am a writer. A teacher. A dreamer.

I am a poet.

A fierce heart and an unbreakable spirit.

I am a reader.

Living wildly in my head.

I am me.

 

The Eternal One to Moses: I AM WHO I AM. This is what you should tell the people of Israel: “I AM has sent me to rescue you.” Exodus 3:14

How I define myself also relates to how I define God. I box Him in and confine Him with my labels.

But God cannot be defined. Will not be confined. He is the breaker of shackles, the destroyer of chains.

Not even death stood a chance. Against Him.

He is.

There is no name, but His. No other name under heaven. He is the bringer of rescue, wearing my deliverance as a priestly robe.

He is compassion. And mercy.

He is slow to anger.

Abundant in loyal love and truth.

He is forgiveness. And justice.

He is matchless.

Hope of all hopes, dream of our dreams.

And His name?

His name? His name we’ll know in many ways—
    He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Dear Father everlasting, ever-present never-failing,
    Master of Wholeness, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

And He is coming.

Coming back.

He is.

 

Rest

We woke up late again today. I was really excited about moving to the west coast for what I hoped was (finally!) an answer to my lack of early bird worms. The time change should work all that out.

But late nights don’t lend themselves to early mornings, no matter the time zone. Each day begins further behind. Gun missed, the race to catch-up has been underway for hours. I make coffee.

Accepting rest as ultimately flawed, I push on. I drink more coffee.

In these feeble attempts at wholeness, I am getting so tired of trying to fix the broken. In me. In others. In the world. So tired.

What is wrong with me? With us?

After all, what is late? Days, full and complete. School and work and meals and exercise, all checked. Rest and work and joy in equal measure.

I fear for us as people when our yardsticks of success are demarcated in busyness. Each score a real and visceral notch of exhaustion. We feel it in our bones. The drink of progress a brimming cup of blood and sweat and tears. Bottoms up. And we wonder why we’re so empty.

 

9am comes with the stirring of my beautiful oldest. When did she get so tall? So grown up? I glimpse the baby she was in her not quite awake face. I blink. She returns my smile, this lovely girl-woman.

Each new day greeted with joy. So much joy. I know teenagers are supposed to be moody and all, but giving her space to rest her growing body has been just what she needs.

This, I think, another reason to love homeschooling. We empower our children to declare and satisfy their own needs. For learning, for love, for rest.

 

And amidst trying to catch up I stop. I sit. And I catch my breath. For in this space of rest, peace dwells.

I Do Yoga

I do yoga. It used to be just another thing that I was moderately “good” at. And I wanted to be better. I wanted to handstand. For my Instagram. Because what’s the point of doing anything if you can’t do it well?

But now I do yoga because it’s good for me.

When it comes to life, there is mind, there is body, and there is spirit. But when we talk about ourselves and our hopes and dreams, trials and triumphs, we leave everything up to our brains and our hearts.

Yet so much of life is physical, carnal. And our physicality does not make us sinful. Our sin makes us sinful. My physical body remains part of who I am while I walk this earth. I can’t fully appreciate life and living if I’m not fully accepting of the physicality of being alive, read: my body.

Breath in, breath out.

The heady sweet musk of the forest after the rain. Heart pounding in my ears on the hike up. Her small hand in mine. A quiet I love you whispered in the dark. All just as much part of my life as my thoughts, my feelings.

And in my physical body, there are limitations. Since when did limits become bad? My knees don’t like running and my shoulders don’t like handstands anymore. This does not require pushing through, but listening. To MY body.

I am an anorexic. Even in recovery, anorexia loves to spin her lies. And after years of punishments and pain and carrots over cake, I am finally learning to listen to the voice of truth.

Because perfection does not exist. At my most fit, I was also miserable. Sore and tired and so stinkin’ hangry. There was always going to be someone smaller, faster, better, stronger. Nothing I did was enough; it would never be enough.

But as my eldest loves to inform me, “We’re all world record holders once. When we’re born. Because at that moment (and that moment only) you’re the youngest person on earth.” And since she knows pretty much everything, it’s clear my ship has sailed.

Which is why I love yoga. Because yoga is a journey of appreciation for my physical body as the house for my beautiful soul. No one sucks at yoga, because what is unlovely and unworthy about another’s soul? The effort it takes to be present and accept yourself at any given moment, rejoicing in our made in God’s image-ness. Not only did God breathe the breath of life into humans, giving us spirit, but we were formed. He gave us physicality, bodies.

And it is my charge to feed and move and appreciate the body I’ve been given.

In this body, I have sang loudly and laughed really hard and eaten lots of pizza and drank too much wine. I have danced with my favorite people, walked on mountains, and swam in oceans. I have carried and delivered two precious and uniquely beautiful human beings. I have tasted and seen and heard and felt and lived and loved well. All in this body. My body.

The physical, although temporary, is real. And in this time I have, I plan to use everything He gave me, mind, body, and spirit.

Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him. Psalm 34:8

#PrayforParis

When tragedies strike and fear seeks control of our hearts, I’m always impressed by the come-togetherness of human beings.

We don’t know when we could leave for school, for the movies, for a concert never to return. But have we ever? Isn’t the very real nature of the human experience its unpredictability? We never know which day, which breath will be our last. And so we bow to this fragile dance, each step carefully orchestrated to prolong the curtain’s fall.

But some days, days like yesterday, the weight of the world just feels so heavy. A lead blanket, crushing spirit, seeping darkness into my bones. Is there ever a rationality for preventable death? 128 souls in Paris, nobodies in the grand scheme of things until one is your everything.

And these tragedies always point to the others, thousands of small lives snuffed out by hunger and disease every day. Such fleetingly sad moments, a tear shed here and there. We feel, we just feel so much.

“Sympathy’s easy. You have sympathy for starving children swatting at flies on the late-night commercials. Sympathy is easy because it comes from a position of power. Empathy is getting down on your knees and looking someone else in the eye and realizing you could be them, and that all that separates you is luck.” Dennis Lehane

Hashtags and profile pictures, really what more can we do? Our last resorts of helplessness. “I don’t pray, but I’m sending good thoughts.” Good thoughts to warm only the heart of the thinker.

Belonging to Jesus comes with a responsibility to do more.

If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed, if His love brings you some encouragement, if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; then, brothers and sisters, here is one thing that would complete my joy—come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, sharing in the same love. Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. Philippians 2:1-4

Terror is real, but Jesus is greater. And so as we come together, may we take it one step further. Lift your head from your screen and look into the eyes of your brother. Because we’re the lucky ones, we must do battle, on our knees in prayer and in our hearts. May comfort and complacency never win.

And in this darkness, we can all bring something, do something. Not necessarily for all, but maybe just for one, each act a small star brightening the night, until the One who does battle on our behalf returns.

We say, Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.

Beside Me

I struggle with next steps. I like the writing to be on the wall, but sometimes my path remains dark. Lately I’m learning to just keep taking small tentative steps, remembering, “Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”

For a while now I haven’t been able to shake my excitement over a certain undertaking. I see things about it and I feel the familiar trill in my spirit. I think about how awesome an experience it would be, for me, personally, and as a tool to draw others near to Christ. Even writing about it now gets me giddy.

And is so often the case, I am locked in the battle between my head and my heart. Obviously this undertaking comes at a price, as much of life does. My heart sings, “Trust,” as my head thinks of ROIs, once again caging my dreams.

When, as women, did following our hearts become not worth it?

“Follow Me” is the least sensible but most essential call we will ever receive. And I don’t think Jesus ever stops calling, but the longer I wait, the quieter that voice gets, until only my own thoughts rule the kingdom of my head and my heart again.

So much of my growth spiritually has been a result of strong women of faith planted around me. My mother, my sisters, good friends, all who take the commission of nurturing, encouraging, carrying, and just being with seriously. And as I work through this struggle of inaction with them, I see the same struggles in their lives, in their hearts.

We just want to follow that call. But sometimes, the call isn’t crystal clear, it doesn’t always come like we think. I believe God’s directing in our lives comes in three ways.

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5

  1. God behind me: This happens when God closes doors, directing my steps away from. He is behind me, protecting me and urging me forward.
  2. God before me: These are situations where I feel God calling me to something. He is out in front of me, beckoning me, come.
  3. God beside me: Now, this is the trickiest call in my own life, because it requires not only more trust, but more initiative on my part as well! We are walking, His hand upon me, as I cultivate what He’s planted in my heart.

The older I get and the longer I’ve walked with Jesus, unless I am deliberately going against Him, I’ve realized I cannot move beyond His will. His Spirit dwells within me.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10

Maybe as you read this you instantly thought of your very own one thing. The one thing you can’t stop thinking about, dreaming about, the thing that sets your very soul ablaze. You’ve prayed and prayed about it, and your Spirit still sings. At this point, I would encourage you to feel the comfort of your Heavenly Father’s hand on you, and take a step forward.

Father God, in light of all of Your mercies, I offer up this body as a living and holy sacrifice, a sacred offering to bring You pleasure. May my life be my worship, standing apart, not molded to the world, but transformed from the inside out. May You continue to renew my mind, so I can discern what You will and whatever You find good, pleasing, and complete. 

Help me to be a good steward of this gift you’ve given me. May I move forward boldly and courageously. And in this one thing, may I do it well and honorably, loving others and living authentically. May I despise evil more and more, pursuing what is good, for my life depends on it. 

In Your most holy name, Amen. 

The Love of God

I wish that you loved me for me,
Not what I do
Or how I make you feel
But for my heart
Who I am.

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in who I am to everyone else and how well I play those roles, living and loving in each small niche carved out of my being. The cloak of Mother requiring self-sacrifice and nurturing, occasionally clashing with the support required of Wife. Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Niece, Granddaughter, Friend. Each part detracting from my wholeness.

I even used to approach God with similar intentions. God, what can I give You? How can I serve You? What do You want from me?

But God, in His infinite goodness, loves me for me. Not what I can do for Him, but who I am. He is the God who sees, El Roi. Now, my question for God has changed. Instead of asking, What do you want me to be for You? I ask, Who am I in You? And that changes everything. Because in Him, I am uniquely created. I am loved. I am held.

The Eternal your God is standing right here among you,
    and He is the champion who will rescue you.
He will joyfully celebrate over you;
    He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you. Zephaniah 3:17

And just as God created me, with all of my unique quirks and passions, He created you. He is your champion and He longs to joyfully celebrate you, not for what you’ve done for Him, but because of who you are.

Do you need a break today? A break from all of the doing? From all of those roles you feel you need to play? If so, I encourage you to wear this label deep within your being: beloved child. Come and sit at your Father’s feet as He sings.

The more we recognize our beloved child status, the more we see our other roles as a patchwork quilt, a blanket of being. Experiences stitched together in love, these gifts of self no longer suffocating and required, but comforting and freely offered.

And those desires God gave you, planted in the fertile soil of your beautiful heart, they are not wrong. Chasing God-planted dreams does not have to come at the expense of others, but ignoring them can wither your soul. If you feel God leading, then go. There is nowhere you can go that will separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, nowhere.

For the love of God is broader
Than the measure of our mind;

And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more simple,
We should take Him at His word;
And our lives would be all sunshine
In the sweetness of our Lord. 
(There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy 
by Fred­er­ick W. Fa­ber, 1854)

Sisters, may we never tire of chasing the sweet sunshine found in the presence of our Lord.

Walking

“You seem kinda sad lately.”

I guess I am, but not in a sad, sad sort of way. More of a brooding, a contemplation of sorts.

I miss my younger self, raison d’être blazing, a badge across my heart. I spend much more time waiting now. For what? Something? Anything? What I do doesn’t define who I am except when doing is all that gets done.

Deep within my soul, kindling waits for courage. Each individual spark of promise drowned in a slow steady drizzle of fear and rationality. I know He carries burdens, but their weight is such a familiar comfort in my arms.

I must find the sacred in the everyday, but some days are decidedly less sacred. The promise whispers still, “There is something more. You are something more. This is something more.”

Something more but a glimpse, heaven meeting earth in a sink of dirty dishes. Rejoicing in the enough of my Heavenly Father’s provision demands not settling, but embracing.

I can’t give my life away if I never embrace it for the gift it is. For me, for the Kingdom, all at once. This beautiful and holy existence, both in spite of and because.

The time has come to walk, each step strengthening my stride, flint striking steel.