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The Book Thief
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are
On Gold Mountain
Bread & Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter
City of Tranquil Light: A Novel
The Distant Land of My Father
The Paris Wife
Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Fall of Giants
World Without End
A Stolen Life
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption
The Pillars of the Earth
Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation
The Road
Trials of the Earth: The Autobiography of Mary Hamilton
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal
Cutting for Stone

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Entries in Wait on God (32)


honoring loss

As the arroz con pollo rounded the table, each person spooned a mouthful of Honduras on their plate. With the taste buds stimulated, our memories came alive. In this way, we honored the fifth anniversary of our return from Honduras on Tuesday, August 2.

We lived in Honduras for a little over four years and over that time four boys lived with us as foster sons: Franklin and Edgar (brothers now 21 and 19), Rodolfo, 12, and Junior, 9. We deeply cherish our experiences there. In fact, this blog exists to honor it and share the hope we have gleaned from it. You can find another post on the fourth anniversary of our return under “remembering honduras” posted August 2, 2010.

And so on the fifth anniversary of our return, dear friends we met while in Honduras shared a delectable Honduran meal to honor the day. Jennifer and Denny dropped in on their way from Austin, TX to Washington DC. They ooohed and ahhed over the chismól, a Honduran relish. I marveled at God’s providence in providing dear friends to accompany us on this important day.

Earlier that morning, overwhelming gratitude had greeted me at 5:00 and I sat with the Lord on our patio and told Him how thankful I was for all He had done. I recounted the people who have walked with us well through loss, grief and finding hope. Some of the ways He has healed me floated across my mind and I opened them like a loaf, gave thanks and ate of the bounty spiritually.  He spoke back to me through His Love Letter with Psalm 21:6-7:

Surely I have granted you with eternal blessings and made you glad with the joy of My Presence. For my daughter trusts in Me, her Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High, she will not be shaken.

As I got ready for bed that night, something in my gut said that this day was incomplete. I did not want it to end. Curious about that, I asked myself some questions. I realized that while most of me felt that gratitude and joy, part of me still held some deep sadness. I had honored the majority but avoided the sorrow. Honoring sadness and sorrow is a conundrum of hard work, discernment and just plain difficulty.

In fact, I would rather iron than sit with my sadness. On the anniversary, I had some quiet time and I could have chosen to attend to the sadness of soul. Instead, I pulled out the iron and caught up on about a year’s worth of ironing. I mean, it was ok and all but really it reveals to me the lengths I will go to in order to avoid feeling sorrow.

Haven’t we already done this, Lord. Haven’t I cried enough tears already? Do I need to be sad again? Is it ok for me to forget the loss, the feelings of desperation? 

Over time I had walled off the sorrow and for the sake of survival, given in to letting it sit behind a shell unattended. To truly honor the day and the preciousness of the loss, I had to knock a little hole in the shell and let the sorrow leak out. 

This morning, I wrote a letter to Junior who will turn nine in October. The youngest of our Honduran boys, he was almost four when we left. Couch it however you will, our leaving inflicted a deep wound to Junior, our other boys and maybe even other people. We as a family have certainly suffered and grieved. Grace and perhaps time will re-frame our sons’ losses and one day I pray they find healing. But the pain in my heart asks, why did we have to leave, especially young Junior? Why isn’t it enough that we want him and he needs parents. I won’t be able to answer those questions today. In fact, understanding is not required for me to trust God. Surrender is imperative. Naming the pride in me that says my plan would be better is compulsory. But understanding is a luxury I won’t have this side of heaven.

Dan Moseley writes, “losing someone significant involves a loss to the body as well. Loss is a physical experience. The body has ways of knowing that seem to ignore the mind and heart... When we spend time telling the story of loss, we are trying to cause the body to come to terms with the loss.”

I am telling this story today in hopes that my body, my spirit, my soul can converge in more healing. I am telling it to honor our time and experience in Honduras. I am telling it to bring glory to the Sovereign Lord of the Universe. Grief or sorrow over the loss will always be with me but perhaps I can avoid self-pity and a plethora of other pitfalls by the telling.

Moseley goes on to say, “It could be said that through remembering we come to ‘full body’ knowing. When we tell of the one we have lost, we are integrating our body, mind, heart, and soul so that all of who we are fully experiences the truth of the loss.” 

I wrote the letter to Junior more as an exercise for my heart and soul. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to give it to him. Writing it honored him as a human being and as a son I had the privilege to mother for a season albeit brief. May God help us as we attempt to walk out His will and love from a place of wholeness and truth. 


ebb & flow

This morning when all the children were sleeping, I padded into the den to find Matt reading his Bible. He said we had a minor emergency in that no coffee was pre-prepared the night before. Like the stellar man he is, he got up and ground the beans stealthily in the garage as to not awaken anyone.  A few minutes later he brought me my coffee and stood above me and he said:

“I feel like you have pulled away from me and I am hurt by it.”

I needed a drink. Of coffee, that is. And I stalled a response by gulping in some much needed caffeine. I had felt distance the night before and wondered about it. In a marriage there is ebb and flow. It is to be expected. Natural. But a healthy marriage will note the ebbs. A courageous partner will confront the distance.

Matt and I began a heart to heart conversation about how we had arrived at this spot of distance in our relationship. I am grateful for this courageous partner and his servant-leadership. 

And so, I began pondering the ebb and flow of life. Ebb happens in our relationship with God. Recently I made a quick trip to the Mississippi Delta where I grew up. The trip threw my routine off. I usually spend some time in the mornings connecting with God. I lost my rhythm. Ebb.

Before that I had flow. Something I had been confounded over in my spiritual journey came together. Like the last puzzle piece falling into place, God delivered a message into my spirit and it gelled. It all started in Ezekiel. Zeke has a lot of ebb and flow. 

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: “On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it.  They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.’  Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.”

Listen to the contrasts. Sins. Ruins. Desolate. Laid waste. Destroyed. In contrast with Cleanse. Rebuilt. Cultivated. Like the Garden of Eden. Fortified. Inhabited. Replanted. I hear ebb and flow in that. For me that passage represents all that He has been about in my life over the past five years. He has rebuilt my ruins. Yes, He has. He has rebuilt my ruins. Areas of desolation have become like the garden of Eden. And I am acknowledging a large FLOW of the Spirit.

In regards to the ebb, little e, of last week; I found my rhythm again by going back in my journal to get in touch with what He had been doing in my heart before the ebb. 

St. Ignatius called this ebb and flow desolation and consolation. Consolation refers to the times we sense God’s spirit. It is the sense that all is well. Desolation, then, is the loss of a sense of God’s presence (Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms, p. 112). We may feel off center or even rebellious. 

In the last few years, I have been encouraged to notice, simply notice, these ebbs and flows. What gives me life? What drains me? What has brought me back in the flow? What has blocked it? In noticing, I have been able to choose things that put me in the flow and try to avoid the things that block it. Certainly, I cannot always choose the flow, but in noticing I can search like a blind woman feeling her way for what will bring me back to the flow of the Spirit. 

I am grateful for the flow, and I don’t much like the ebb. I wonder how much I would appreciate the flow without the ebb, though. Even in the ebb, I can believe and trust that God is there. I may not feel him or know where He is exactly; but I can trust that He is with me. I trust that because His Love Letter to me tells me that. He will never change. He will never leave me.

As for the ebb in my marriage, we declared a date night. We ate at Whole Foods and went to see Midnight in Paris (****). We remembered what it was like when we were in the flow of relationship. We recently visited Paris. Flow. And seeing the images on screen took us there for a brief while. 

In marriage and in my spiritual journey, I am like an attentive gardner noticing the weeds, the dry patches, the rich soil and the delightful sunlight and cultivating the fruit that comes from walking with the VineDresser.


to hope takes guts

This is Junior. Now 8. He lives with wonderful foster parents in Honduras. He is a delight. And I miss him times one hundred million.


Not everyone understands how you can spin two lassos at the same time, one of hope and one of grief. Jodi Picoult, Vanishing Acts

To hope takes guts. 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick. When we hope, we risk heart sickness. The vultures of disappointment surely have eaten more than once of our flesh. 

My family had hoped…

To remain in Honduras to love the children at Rancho Ebenezer

To build an addition to the school there

To be there until Edgar graduated high school

To hope is to join Adam and Eve again in the garden. A desire fulfilled is a tree of life. The phrase “tree of life” takes us back to Eden. The tree was in the middle of the garden. Next to it grew the other tree. The forbidden tree. We ate. We died. And we have struggled with hope ever since. 

But it also calls us to remember the end. We, as overcomers, will feast on the tree of life in the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7). The leaves of the tree will be for the healing of the nations (Rev. 22:2).

On the wall in our den in Honduras, I painted a tree. To me the tree represented life. The reality is that often our hearts are sickened here on the other side of the Garden.

Every day people make brutal choices. I know what it is like when the rubble of life overwhelms and you have to make a devastating choice.. A day came when we had to walk away. We placed our precious Honduran children back in the arms of the Shepherd who loved them before we had even seen their smiles. 

The grief that followed threatened to take my very breath away. 

My grief is not over. Grief doesn’t end because it honors the loss as precious. It evolves and blends and changes. It changes you. The things I grieve are far too precious for the grief to one day be “done.” Gradually, I am trusting God with my pain and my sons in Honduras. Over time, He is showing me that He is the Defender of the Weak. And He shows me that the Weak is mainly me. I can trust Him with the Weak – my Honduran sons – more when I can trust Him with the weak in me.

Faith has grown in my heart where I have allowed the Father to hold me in the pain. 

Today I am buoyed by hope. The path of suffering has sewn a few things into my soul. Hope. Faith. Perseverance. Strength. The end result is that I know my Savior better. I trust Him more. These things would not be there had not the VineDresser pruned me back to a nub. 

This week God has given me the chance to talk with a grieving mother. I listened as she gave voice to her pain. I shared with her my Hope and Strength birthed through suffering. When two believers can share their stories and burdens, the Holy Spirit consoles both of them.

 It is right to grieve. It is right to hope.

When a desire is fulfilled, it is the hors d’oeuvre for the feast of heaven. 

Until then, we have hope.

We must so hunger for a different tomorrow that we risk losing today to gain it. Dan Allender


i want to see

I live in a garden. This garden, while beautiful, is ravaged by the Fall. The thunder outside reminds me that danger is imminent. I am not safe. Children in this garden get brain cancer and die. Adolescents are plagued by eating disorders. Some take their own lives. Mamas get breast cancer. Daddies drink themselves into an early grave. Danger is everywhere. The effects of the Fall, of the day when the Woman took the apple because she did not trust her God, are evident every moment in this garden.

I live in a garden. This garden holds the possibility of rebirth. Every spring astounding beauty is birthed. Blooms like banners of a million colors crawl out of green balls. New life is everywhere. The rain feeds these buds. The green in the grass sings to my eyes of a Creator. I connect to a Mama in trouble. I offer her my hand because she has offered me hers a few years ago. I offer her companionship on this treacherous and breath-taking path called life. My heart swells when my love picks up his son and dwarfs him in big arms cradling him in LOVE. Smiles the sizes of watermelons speak to me of wonder and mystery. Laughter fills my halls and I know that LIFE is more powerful than destruction. Hope lives in this garden.

I live in a garden. We groan for new life. The flowers and the rocks and me and the Mamas in trouble, we ache and we groan. We beg God to have mercy. We beseech Him for new LIFE, for grace, for help. We ask for eyes to see His Presence in this garden.

I live in a garden: in the now and the not yet. He is RISEN. Victory is mine, ours. Yet I struggle, fumble and fall. One day pain will end. One day death will be defeated. One day sin will not afflict my body. But that day has not yet come. Yet it has. The knowledge that Jesus won by losing fills my bones and my lungs with a scent of the promise. 

He has paid the ransom. I am free. I can live free. Laughter is the music of hope. Hope is more abundant than despair in this garden. 

Today I can choose to see Him. If I need to, I can ask a friend to help me see Him. I want to see HOPE. 



life in the blood

I am no Hot Yoga expert. I’ve been to class about six or seven times. The philosophy, as I understand it, is to compress areas of the body to deprive them of oxygen. Then as you re-open those areas, oxygen-rich blood flows to them and with it healing. 

Healing is in the blood.

Yesterday in my spiritual direction group, we talked about an image I had drawn in my journal on April 14. I am aware that God is drawing me closer and asking me to trust more in Him. To trust the ways He has carried me. To trust His provision. To trust His plan. 

I drew this “trust cup” weeping out the trust I continue to deposit in it. I put some trust in, but it just leaks out. To be sure, the cup has less holes today than it did six months ago and a lot less than it did ten years ago!

My spiritual director said, “Just sit with Jesus and ask Him about the cup.”

I love it when she says that.

This morning I flipped through a book I am reading about Lent called Bread and Wine. An excerpt called “Life in the Blood” caught my eye. It was written in 1935 by Toyohiko Kagawa. I read the following:

It is like saying that because God is love, when you put water into a bag with a hole in it, the hole in the bag won’t matter! You must close up the hole!

You can’t reveal the glory of God if you have a hole in your heart, no matter how much of God’s glory you receive. It is Christ who fills up that egregious hole. 

I felt like Jesus sat down at the table to have a cup of coffee with me.

I read on...

Blood circulation has the power to heal wounds.

Love creates the same pattern anew. It redeems the place that was lost. To the measure of its depths, the love of God can perfectly heal the holes of the past, and all its sins. It does not merely repair the damages of sin, but even transforms that which has been broken into perfect health, perfect working capacity.

Really? Transforms the broken parts? Perfect working capacity?

Love is endowed with the power to redeem and heal throughout the past, present and future, every part of the whole The supreme manifestation of that love is the blood which Christ shed on the cross. This love enables us to believe in the forgiveness of past sins and the healing of past offenses. 

I think the holes represent my unbelief. Maybe my job is to name the unbelief. Jesus repairs the holes. I wonder if perhaps He repairs them from the bottom up. As I name them, bring them to Him, He repairs. With each patch, trust grows deeper.

And so goes the Good Friday - Easter rhythm. The stretch and expend energy, then rest rhythm. The desolation where-is-God, then oh-there-You-are rhythm. Today on Good Friday, I name the holes of my unbelief. 

Can I trust a Man who gave His very Life for me?