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A Holy Experience

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That first call was from the hospital.

Right about the cracking dawn on Resurrection Sunday, her whispering on the other end of the line.

Two weeks so far. Not that we all aren’t counting or anything. Who knows how many more weeks my sister has in front of her, how many more clattering hospital trays of soggy toast and watery jello and runny eggs?

Takes about 40 weeks to unfurl the plumped soul of a baby. She’s got about 9 more weeks to pass of laying there in the stiffness of a dead woman, not moving, so she can birth a life. Strange, how bed rest can make it sore hard to find the rest of God.

There are five little girls at home (or here. or at my mama’s) who keep counting every day that their Mama’s laugher’s not with them.

I tell my sister that we’re setting the table for her 5 and her good man to join our ridiculous 6 for Resurrection Sunday dinner and I’ve already got the two legs of lamb in the oven. Oh, c’mon, what kids don’t like a platter of leg of lamb?

Our kids straggle in from barn chores and I’m a banshee telling them to hurry to be in time for church because only amateurs hurry and yeah, there are days when I am sadly the reigning losing queen of amateur.

“And if you’re ready to go, Levi, clean up your room and then finish up setting the table — 11 kids. 4 adults. — 15 place settings.” I’m madly squeezing garlic through a press like a woman desperate to squeeze her life right dry. Pans of roasted potatoes wait patiently for their seasoning by sprinkling.  There are pans of patience waiting in the midst of every oven.

Then some kid howls bloody murder.

Like all hell can really just break loose on Resurrection Sunday morning.

Like he’s screaming and there’s this stream of blood draining from his hand and dripping across the plank floor and what in the wounded world?

How in the world do you turn around and go from a  call from the hospital to 15 for dinner to clean your room and get ready for church to a bloody mess pooling on the kitchen floor?

“Yeah, we’ve got to go into ER.” The Farmer’s got Levi’s bleeding hand in his. “His finger’s cut about half way through, right there at the tendon.”

“I just —“ Levi’s choking it out, “I just picked up that helicopter blade on the floor of my room…”

“See?” Malakai’s muttering. “Told you that having to clean up  your room is dangerous to your health.”

Parental glare down of younger brother.

Yeah, these are all our monkeys and yep, definitely our circus.

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The Farmer heads east in the pickup truck, toward town and the hospital, Levi hunched over his hand bound up in this towel.

And I head west in the van, toward a little country chapel with the 5 other kids with their vainly smoothed down rooster tails and cock-eyed collars, to sing about the Man who unfolded from the grave bandages and walked out of the death clothes that bound us all.

We’re the last ones in the service, 15 minutes late. Because always.

Because the whole congregation is belting out 10,000 reasons for my heart to find, Bless the Lord Oh My soul, and I dial my sister.

Turn it to speaker phone and raise the worship and the wounded high and she sing with us from a hospital bed and there are tears that can taste like salted glory.

I have no idea what verse we’re crescendoing through when Archie Bonsma’s pager sirens in the middle of Diane Goodkey’s piano notes.

And all six foot 3 inches of Archie Bonsma flings down the aisle, his lanky hand trying to muffle the shrieking pager right out the back door of the chapel.

Fire.

Everybody glances at each other hoping no one notices because Archie Bonsma’s a volunteer fireman.

And somewhere on Resurrection Sunday morning there are flames and a pillar of smoke and a life burning down.

And Archie Bonsma flung out of his 10,000 Reasons to go put a fire out and become someone else’s reason and my sister’s in my raised hand on speaker phone still, singing from her hospital bed with Diane Goodkey on the piano.

And the Farmer and Levi are sitting in an ER waiting room in town, waiting on a doctor and stitches because we’re gashed open and haemorrhaging a bit here and there is a fire in bones that you can’t put out.

Because we know that whatever stone that’s been trapping, whatever boulder that’s been blocking, whatever rock that’s been locking — we know our God heaves stones because He loves and we know our God tears off grave clothes because He resurrects and we know our God upends to right.

We are the Resurrection People who know that hope can rise from the dead places

and that impossible stones can be rolled back to light

and right now all the sad things are becoming undone.

No matter how the world turns, there’s no turning that stone back now.

We’re the Resurrection People and we won’t live like that stone’s been rolled back. We won’t live like it isn’t the truth: The sad things are all becoming undone now. There’s no turning that stone back now. There’s no turning back now.

What’s been wearing death clothes in a life can get up and walk, what we’ve felt as wounds, by His wounds, are being healed, what’s being burnt to ashes will birth beauty. Ashes are always the papery birth announcement of beauty rising.

Us bound in that sin that’s always been, us with that heartbreak that just won’t take a break, us who feel locked up in these patterns and someone’s thrown away the key — we’re the people who’ve seen that the stone’s been rolled away.

We’re the Resurrection People who  push back against the dark of impossible, because we’ve seen the impossible stone’s been pushed back against the dark. We’re the Resurrection People who walk in strong hope because we’ve seen the strong stones moved and Hope come right out to meet us and move us.

We’re the Resurrection people who believe that we can turn back, that people can turn back, that situations can turn around, because we’ve seen that stone’s been rolled back.

Nothing and no one is impossible now

because impossible stones have now been rolled away.

And sure, let the rest of folks go ahead and pack up their Easter decorations and turn the calendar page over and they can roll up the banners and swags but there’s this Resurrection People who aren’t going back to before and we refuse to live like that stone’s been rolled back.

He is alive and He is risen and I’m going to keep that on the chalkboard and keep saying it over the burnt pots and the overflowing sinks and I’m going to keep singing it like a refrain: He is Risen Indeed— because I want Him to be risen in me.

I’m standing there singing on Resurrection morning with a bleeding kid in ER and a preeclampsia sister in the hospital and the sister and the singing are held high in my hand on speaker phone, a broadcast of defiant worship out into a world that feels like it’s burning down and I’m blinking it back:

We’re the Resurrection People and the brave Hosanna is our forever song.

The way we roll — is that the stone’s been rolled away.

I make dinner for 15, and Levi comes home with his swollen hand and stitches and the arm of his father around his shoulder, and Archie Bonsma put out that fire.

Levi eats his lamb with one hand held over his head to help hush the loud throb.

I text my sister pictures of her girls and she text me back tears from a hospital bed.

At the end of the Resurrection Sunday, before the real beginning again, the kids and all the cousins gather close and sing it again, 10,000 Reasons, bless the Lord, oh my soul, though we’re pretty sure there are more than 10,000 Reasons, and we’ll be singing them off key and loud for all eternity.

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They say that the most hilarious line in the Bible is Pilate speaking about Jesus’ tomb: “Go, make it as secure as you can.

Good luck with that.

Because the thing is:

We now get to live secure through family messes and wearying trials and bloody places because nothing could secure that tomb.

We can live secure through anything now because nothing could secure that tomb.

And I scrawl it across on a chalkboard on the Monday:  The way we roll — is that the stone’s been rolled away.

The sun slants warm across the lawn, across the planked floors, and I go ahead and just leave a stone out on the counter, there by the worn out old cutting boards.

The practice of your faith every day is the practice of resurrection in everything.

And the light keeps lifting the dark right there across the cut up old cutting boards, like a cracking back of the black.

 

 

 

 

 

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Join us? And happily change everything by keeping your own crazy list of One Thousand Gifts? Dare you to Joy ! Take the dare to Fully Live! 

1. Grab the free JOY DARE Calendar with 3 daily prompts to go on a scavenger hunt for God’ gifts … {or write down any gifts you choose. Use the free app.} 2. Count 3 gifts a day and you have over #1000gifts in 2014. Jot them down in the numbered One Thousand Gifts Devotional Journal  — The Farmer’s writing in his with a red pen and daily – the numbers in the journal already there! Motivating…  3. Share your gifts everyday in our beautiful Facebook community or on Twitter (label with #1000gifts #JoyDare) to enter for the monthly $100 Amazon draw (or link to your blog post with your list of gifts). 4. Count #1000gifts in 2014 and enter to win a Nikon DSLR camera with lens. Slow Down. Savor Life. Give thanks. Believing something is one thing. But the Best only comes when you decide to Be Living it. Please, jump in, make your life about giving thanks to God! — Just add the direct URL to your specific 1000 gift list post… and if you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other in our refrain of thanks by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.

Give thanks to the Lord! His Love Endures Forever!

Monday, April 21st, 2014 | 1000Gifts | Visit Post

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And all the people in need, in desperate need, in broken need,

whisper it like a breaking dawn in the dark,

He is risen indeed, indeed, indeed.

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and the cornerstone of Christianity

is this rotting cell sparking,

a heart valve quivering in the pitch,

a beetle scratching in the black while

convex chest cavity shudders,

sunken death inflating with His hot breath,

atoms of the second Adam recreating

resurrecting

all the impossible things and the universe.

 

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Can you feel it, within, in your darkest places?

He is alive! And in us!

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We’ve watched countless times — and it has me in the happiest tears and every time!)

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 | Easter | Visit Post

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A photographic celebration of new life: day by day.

Beautiful.

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What she does? And her smile? No. Words.

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Zoey and Jasper.

More than just beautiful faces. This story is amazing.

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The artist? The medium? You aren’t going to believe this

 

Gather the family? A must see.

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Who would have  thought this hope out of the Boston Marathon?  1 year later

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How one extraordinary educator works first to build an emotional bond with her students

Smiling through tears at this dream come true.

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Something fun with the kids?

Can you see him? Search for this dog in each these photos!

This mama? This story? Only tears.

“What we do have is each other. And we have love. And we have prayer. And we have friends. And family.

God did not do this.”

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Basking in the beauty of the short-lived cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C.

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This week (in)courage shared the world premier of a beautiful new (in)RL music video! ”We Can Do Something Extraordinary” was written for the (in)courage community by the amazing Christa Wells & Nicole Witt in celebration of what we can accomplish in Christ when we do it together

Brave beating hearts – we can do something EXTRAordinary.

If you haven’t yet registered for (in)RL – the virtual girl’s weekend that comes to you, wherever you are in the world – you can do that here for free!

When you register you’ll receive a brand new (in)RL eBook and complete access to all of the videos, including a Friday AND Saturday keynote! This year we’re talking about the power of sharing our stories – and we’d just love to have you join us on April 25th & 26th.

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Yes! Everything you need to host a Mother’s Day Tea –

including the perfect read, recipes, and free printables too!

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Hank and the Milwaukee Brewers? Don’t miss this.

A story of hope and faith. And rescue.

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Do not disdain the small : the small adds up to glory…

God’s Not Dead

what we watched this weekend — that opened up a worthwhile conversation as a family:
releasing now in Canada and the UK

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What happens between the pages of a book and an open heart

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Printable for the weekend

Impossible to witness the wonder of this, this weekend, and not choke up… On repeat here

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Post of the Week from here …

When You’re Struggling & Holy Week is Just Hard

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[- excerpted from  One Thousand Gifts]

 

That’s all for this weekend, friends. Sunday Morning is Coming!

Go slow. Be God-struck. Grant grace. Live Truth.

Give Thanks. Love well. Re - joy, re- joy, ‘re- joys’ again

Share Whatever Is Good. 

Saturday, April 19th, 2014 | Link Wanderings | Visit Post

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Our Pastor calls to ask if I’d do one of a few dramatic monologues for Good Friday service— a moment through the eyes of the mother of Jesus? So I write down words… and imagine the mother of our Lord… fingering the bloody tunic of her Son.

Son…. Son of God… Son of mine

God.

Why?

From the beginning I have watched and I have listened and I have pondered all these things quiet in my heart — but now I have to ask:

why?

Why didn’t You come down from that Cross in all Your power and Glory?

Why didn’t You blind the chief priests with Your divine radiance?

Why didn’t You still all their blasphemous tongues with the army of the heavenly host, with Your burning holiness, with Your flaming sword?

Isn’t that who You really are?

Oh Son — why?

I know… I know.

Only Your blood flow can extinguish the flames of hell.

There was no other way.

How could You let a lost world burn?

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You took fire so we could walk free.

You took violence so we could be victors.

You took hell so we could be healed.

Sin hurt You far deeper than the spikes.

And You let the horrors of satan take a swipe at You so that all horrific sin could be wiped clean.

And You knew it all along.

You were conceived into skin for the Cross — the cave of that manger beginning glimpsing the cave of Your Messiah, martyred endings.

You who had no beginning, You were born for this, for the blood, that we might be reborn to life.

Oh Son….

I know… how could You have been our Saviour if You hadn’t known suffering?

How could we have worshiped You if You weren’t wounded?

How could we bow to You if You were not bruised?

We could only believe in You because You have lived in us — in our mangled world, in our aching pain, in all our hurting humanity.

You alone are the God for us — because You alone are the God who has been one of us.

You felt what we feel, You touched the death that we know, You came to us as Immanuel: God with us.

I remember when Joseph first told me… that the angel had told him that You would be called Immanuel… God with us.

I started weaving your robe right then.

The loom work was soothing, the shuttle slipping back and forth, like rocking, a lullaby. And I dreamed of You and holding You and how someday You would wear this cloth…. this tunic without seams.

It’s tradition, what all Jewish mothers give to their sons when they leave home: a seamless robe.

A one-piece robe.

And I began Your one-piece before I even beheld You and I wove late through the nights, under that circle of moon and I thought of You who has no beginning and no end, You from which all things are from and through and to… and I gave you the robe and I watched You walk this sod and I was there.

I was there at Calvary and I stood near that Cross with my sister, Mary, the wife of Clopas and with Mary Magdalene and I saw you heave breathe.

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And I saw the blood trickling down from the iron pierced holes in your feet and I saw the soldiers take Your clothes… this one-piece robe… and I hardly breathed… and I heard them say, “Let us not tear it.”

And when they already had tore you right through…

“This all happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

And I heard you say, your voice gurgling blood, “Dear Woman… here is your son.”

And I went home with John, my mind thinking of you torn and your one-piece robe still whole…

How You let your side be ripped open that our lives need never be split into sacred and secular.

How you were slashed that our lives could be seamless — all holy.

That the veil in the temple rents in two because of You, and there is no longer a divide between the common and the hallowed and the whole earth is full of your glory and You are the continuous, unending, divine thread that weaves through all of the world, holding all together… even when you, Son, are rent apart.

And hanging naked and blood smeared and dirt defiled, You nodded slow and You said yes — You gave us your one-piece robe of seamless holiness and You clothed us, the filthy ones, in all your white righteousness.

Your blood wasn’t enough.

Your buying us back wasn’t enough.

Your being our brother wasn’t enough.

Nothing short of dressing us beautifully and calling us Beloved would be enough.

O Son

That I’d take up this cloth that You give me and be who You name me — Beloved.

That there’s no more being torn in a million directions — that no matter what pulls, I have a one-piece life life in You:  One direction, One purpose, One audience, One Love, One Joy — a one-piece life — all holy, all meaningful, all offered to You.

That I’d wear a One-Piece life and see Your face in a thousand faces, in a thousand humble and unseen places, and all my life would be all with You. And the moon will shine round and the threads of all my moments will shine with Your glory. And this one-piece life  — that it’d be all be for the One and True God alone…

I swaddled You in the beginning…

And now You hold me and robe me in You.

 

 

Friday, April 18th, 2014 | Uncategorized | Visit Post

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 | Easter, Uncategorized | Visit Post

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Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 | Easter | Visit Post

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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 | Uncategorized | Visit Post

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Monday, April 14th, 2014 | Uncategorized | Visit Post

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Saturday, April 12th, 2014 | Link Wanderings | Visit Post

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