Tuesday, November 29, 2011

vintage story

When we brush the days clear

and colors fade to vintage,

faces smile up and chubby cheeks jiggle

the rhythm of song,

And we remember all that paints our story.

End-of-Colorado-and-coming-home-003_End-of-Colorado-and-coming-home-0583Knoebel's, Penn House, Thomas, etc 193_thumb[2]

The color of JOY is classic rose

reaching through the thorns

And happy hues are bright

rainbow eyes that glimmer for the love.

Secret places become the ones

no one can take away

They hug us tight in tender ways

that weave through every thread of time.

Knoebel's, Penn House, Thomas, etc 242[1]Knoebel's, Penn House, Thomas, etc 268Knoebels-Penn-House-Thomas-etc-1031_thumb[1]

And when the fruit is picked anew

there is a freedom born

to open wide hearts made ready

for the ever-morn.

awa 11~29~2011

Fall Beauty 029

imperfect prose


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Monday, November 28, 2011

wrecked and broken, I come

I come to the well, where the woman met him. 

Wrecked and broken in a thousand and more ways

I come with nothing because my all is staked on Him. 

I hunger for one look into His eyes, that well of love bearing life eternal.

I come with all of the shattered pieces because it is only with the wounded hands, the cuts of shame and guilt and doubt and pain that I look to His wounded hands and feet and side and flagellated body.

And though as wrecked and broken I have come repeatedly before, it remains the only way.

If this journey we are walking can be highlighted supremely by any work happening in me, it is the knowing so deep of all that shatters and falls and fails :: the can-not-make-it-me.

And as I draw the ragged breath and hold my hardly beating heart in these fragile hands to Him, I learn that one great thing that lies deepest in the place of the well.

I would never see Him face-to-face and dip my shaking self deep into His drink if I came all whole and put together and holding all things close and well and living up to the expectations long set mostly by the haunting imaginary me.

And yet I know I try, oh how I try, try, try to put on the pretty bow and wear the fullest smile and be the BEST in everything to present this finest dressed one to Him, here, at the well.

But I hit a wall of plexi-glass and there He is and I want to be with Him.  But this glass, a mile-high is that dim reflection of who I think I should be and it grows thicker and taller with each look I take at who I believe is the one good enough to honor this man from Galilee.

Yet He reminds that my wrecked and broken is what honors Him.

He comes to me, never leaving the well, but those fiery light-filled, the cool-blue piercing eyes they melt the glass and read this heart of mine’s desire for a Beauty Eternal, worth the surrender of all I imagine I can do or be or muster up the self to become.

And when the glass melts the image oozes down to the ground and the eyes they reach into all of my naked humanity and how could I have ever thought it possible to dress myself in more than filthy rags?

Wrecked and broken, bleeding and busted, swollen and blistered with a heart that beats harder at each step, I come to the well.

{We visited for the second week in a row the woman at the well during the message at church…these sentiments are my heart’s journey to come to the well knowing I am just like her}

Joining the last week of a month long link-up at my great friend, Stacey’s for Write it, girl! AND

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SoliDeoGloria

UseitonMonday

Lord God of the Well, I thank You ::

  • You wait for me at the well
  • You allow this imaginary me, so that I might die to it
  • You gently show me the wrecked and broken that I am
  • You never let me see You when I bring something to Your feet
  • Your Beauty is infinitely better than…ANYTHING!
  • For precious time with family
    • Thanksgiving meal prepared for family
    • Together…simply being together
    • Sharing from the heart about the year
    • Taking up the mantle in our generation
    • Backyard football and everybody playsSmile
    • Son, the only little boy, in a huddle with three men
    • For pitches and runs with little feet and little hands holding the ball
    • For both sets of parents to join later
    • For a full heart (and stomachWinking smile) at the end of the day
    • For the year crowned with YOUR BOUNTY
    • For amazing family shots this weekend
    • For a wonderful photographer who is also a friend
    • For little smiles and hugs
    • For love surrounding all
    • For stones by the dam…never get enough
    • For the joy of this kind of love
  • For the lessons of this time :: a hard eucharisteo
  • For showing me my doubts and fears
  • For YOU, Your truth, always and ever the answer
  • For ALL of Your promises ‘yes and amen!’ in Him
  • For showing us how to live each day…
  • For the BEST always and ever…YET TO COME!

#1636-1664

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Five Minute Friday :: Grateful

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Go ::

Grateful for the sea…I have always loved the rushing waters.

But it isn’t the literal sea, but the sea of blessings.

When my eyes are opened this is how they appear.

For when I look far and wide into what I've been given, it doesn’t only fill today but yesterdays too and yesteryears and as far as I can see I have been a part of a blessed people.  a blessed legacy.  a blessed heritage.  a blessed one of God.

When I look into my children’s eyes I want to see them as a part of this sea.  A sea of Gratefulness that rests in an assurance of blessing upon their lives.  Not one that can sit back and not do the hard work of parenting, but one that knows I have a great cloud of witnesses who is urging on the generations.

Will you take up the history, the legacy and make it your own? I hear them say.  And I know for I have heard the stories that it was not in dashing glory that their victory was won, but in the gaze upon that sea of blessing that their eyes fixed and their hearts filled and so they did the stuff that matters.  They were there for diapers and feedings and backyard football and soccer and baseball.  They were there to kiss the boo-boos and to pray over the fears. 

And they are the sea I see and the sea I want to become.

Stop


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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving :: And November Newsletter

Fall Beauty 005

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Friends!

This holiday has taken on such renewed meaning in my life since I met her and read her book.

I started my own list, which is pretty much how I started this blog,  and it’s somewhere in the 1600’s, but I know enough to know that that’s just a tiny, tiny glimpse of His gifts.

I can say from the depths of my heart, as the Bible is so clear as well, that it is so easy to pin my lack of contentment, anger, doubt, fear back to a lack of thanks.  Since I began this journey I’ve known times when the way to life was to thank Him, BUT I WOULDN’T!  How’s that for learning the obstinacy of my own heart?!  But, even here, there is thanks.  Thanks that this light shines and the darkness is easier to recognize for what it is too and this is the real truth :: the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

And for all of you who follow our journey, here is Our November Newsletter that updates you on our family and the ministry we are called to in Central & Eastern Europe.

May You be FILLED with Him and His Great Love for YOU today and no matter the joy or sadness that a ‘family holiday’ can bring, may YOU know the depths of His love for you…TODAY.

Fall Beauty 031


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Monday, November 21, 2011

A truth-bearing dusty-footed Savior

Yesterday, our pastor, who has been preaching through the book of John, shared from the story of the Woman at the Well in John 4.

I was struck as he compared this interaction with the one with Nicodemus in the previous chapter.  They were as different as night and day : both the people and the way in which the Savior brought his message.

To Nicodemus, Jesus brought stark, full truth.  Nothing that Nicodemus was or did would gain him eternal life.  He needed to die to all of that and be born again.  Become like a baby, weak and helpless, and it was here and only here that he could be saved. 

We don’t know the lasting impact in Nicodemus’ life of that conversation. {personally, I would like to think that he was an outspoken part of the Early Church Movement.} We do, however, receive the most recognized verse of the Bible : John 3:16.  It was early and young that I learned this and, no matter who you are, if this is the only verse you ever heard from the Bible it is enough to come Home forever.

‘For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’

And then there is the Woman at the Well.  The Samaritan woman is an outcast in every way.  Defiled as a half-bred Jew, an untouchable.  And then she lived that worthlessness through the pursuit of life in relationships with men.  Five marriages.  And the present relationship was not even a husband.

Jesus altered his journey to go to Samaria, taking a circuitous route in pursuit of this one considered worthless by the only voices in the world that mattered;

And he had to pass through Samaria.’  John 4:4

As our pastor spoke of Him as the dusty-footed Savior who so fully pursued the lowest of the low, sending His disciples away and going at noon, a time when no one else would, I was hushed and stilled.  He is not preachy or judgmental, but simply bids her come to Him—the only One who can quench her thirst.

Yes, she hears truth, but in such a tender way that He, the Messiah, comes from Heaven to Earth to specifically seek her.  the lost and helpless one.  And He loves to do this.  This is why He was sent and the heartbeat of His mission that will culminate in His own emptying that all might live.  Whether the high and honored or the low and despised.

When I look at these two : Nicodemus and the Samaritan Woman, I don’t want to see them as different, but one and the same.  And not only the same, but the same in me.  The same Savior.  The One I need to rescue me from my full-of-it self-righteousness AND the One who loves me whole when I am the broken adulterer lost in pursuit of everything that will never give life.

And, I know, oh I know, He will NEVER turn away, always come, and always offer the Life that He is.  And may He find me hungry, athirst for Him and ready to eat fully and drink deeply.  And ready to offer that Life to the world.

{The song below is one that has been captivating me since we have been singing it at our church.  It is blaring in our car, home, on my mp3 player when I walk.  If you haven’t heard it and if you have, I trust you will be blessed!}

 

Loving this and blasting it wherever I can…I am SURE we will sing something very close to this in Heaven!

UseitonMonday SoliDeoGloria and Write it, Girl! at my friend, Stacey’s

Oh how I thank You :

  • For being the dusty-footed Savior
  • For loving enough to seek me
  • For loving enough to speak into my self-righteousness
  • For loving enough to continually offer life when I seek it in all that doesn’t satisfy
  • For loving enough to be sent from Heaven and Earth and hold nothing back from the ones You came to redeem
  • For this Thanksgiving week:
    • For the chance to HOST my family—a longing realized
    • For the sweetness of savoring all as gift
    • For a hubby who suggested it
    • For the twinkling-eye joy of Thanksgivings to come
    • For how You will work out the details and bless—because You are good
    • For the sweet memories from last year—a Thanksgiving I’ll never forget
    • For this amazing family you’ve given us::
      • round-cheeked blonde-haired baby girl
      • stunningly beautiful buddy boy
      • for spotlights and play in the dark
      • for chocolate-chocolate-VANILLA! duck-duck-goose style
      • for laying on the ground with legs in the air silly fun
  • For the strength to keep going
    • How we are being tested: knowing YOU as our only life
    • for Psalm 62:8 a thousand times over
    • for the desperate, hurting me that You love
    • for all we KNOW You are doing…even when we don’t see
    • for the hard eucharisteo…turning it into SONG
  • For the BEST, always and ever, yet to come!

#1611-1635

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Five Minute Friday :: Grow

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Grow

Go ::

If hope were a seed then I have asked her to plant deep in this heart of mine.

And if love can grow roots then I have asked her to weave herself into the deep places.

And if Home is a place that can travel with me, then I have asked Her to be with me always

And if Faith is a dream that becomes reality, then I have pleaded for the dreams Speakout Sparklersthat come tiny and timid to rise on eagle’s wings and fly into these coming days

And if Fire is a seed like hope, then I have asked that the hope that bears life would be fire and that it would be planted within a generation

And if Life is a journey that grows and deepens, I have asked that it would grow to Heaven and that it would deepen in souls that I find being found in Him when now they are lost.

And if there is a way of growing that makes all that happens, the darkness, the mess, the pain, the grief all a part of this One Great Divine Wish for the world and knowledge that it will all ONE DAY be forever so, then I plant myself where this is what growing can only be.

And if you are a seed waiting to be planted, I ask will you go deep into this soil with me?

Stop

{E-mail me at aalleman_03 {at} yahoo {dot} com or include your e-mail when you comment and tell me if you’d like to join our prayer team for updates and the chance to journey with us as we go out into the world to reach a generation}

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

a secret joy

I read through a good bit of Heaven is for Real this week after about a bazillion people mentioned it and that I should read it.

As I took in the things little Colton Burpo saw and understood of Jesus and Heaven, when he was the age of my precious son, I felt the contagious secret joy of the ones who see.

The little children see, like Colton, a God who has not been eaten up by cynicism or corrupted by the sinister ploys of the powers of this dark world.  Even when you know and love Jesus all of your life, like me, your faith can become tainted with the passing of the years.

But it is always the pure in heart who see God and I want to see God.  Oh, I really, really do.

As I walked around the day after reading Heaven is for Real, I had this smile that just would not go away.  I thought of my mom who is, now, almost ten of our years there, but, like Colton’s 3 minutes, these years have taken on the form of infinity I am sure.

photo source

I thought of how she loved children so much and how she lost three to miscarriage.  I’ve always thought she was with them somehow, but Colton’s account of meeting the sister his mother miscarried, made me think that she has probably barely left them in her time there.  She has flitted about this heavenly world with her youth eternally renewed with those three in tow, oh I know it! I do!  I also believe that at least one stayed a baby, or perhaps it is the grandbabies miscarried here that are the babies she holds in Heaven.

Yes, I would say this sweet contemplation is a secret joy to fill up this heart and spill over into twinkling eyes and overflowing delight-filled giggles.

But then, I also remember that, as in Colton’s experience, it all comes back to Jesus. 

{Akiane Kramarik’s painting, ‘Prince of Peace at age 8’…the one Colton said was ‘right’ }

He is the bridge even there.  The One who takes us into his lap and tells us great and awesome things in pure and simple ways.  He looks us in the eyes with His own gorgeous loved-filled ones and that is forever enough.

And when three minutes of this kind of love are enough to take in a touch of eternity, NOT ONLY for Colton who experienced it, but for all who would partake of this gift through a book, is it possible to imagine what an eternity of taking in this kind of love would touch? the depths of emotion and soul-encompassing ecstasy?

It is all a bit overwhelming and in the best of ways and the result, for me, can only be a secret kind of joy.

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Thought Provoking Thursday


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Goals, Aspirations, Dreams and…Failure??

There is some pretty strong wisdom widely circulated that those who would do great things will certainly pass through serious failure.

And this was the theme of the message this morning.

A visiting minister, Dave, spoke about failure from the life of David Brainerd: pioneer Christian missionary to Native American peoples.  Brainerd’s biography written by Jonathan Edwards inspired the future missionary careers of William Carey and Jim Elliot just to name a couple.

However, it was not from the glowing success of Brainerd’s missionary career that Dave spoke.  It was from his greatest failure.

Brainerd’s greatest aspiration had been to become a pastor.  In the 1700’s this was a noble profession with high esteem in society and so he entered the top training school at that time, Yale.  Brainerd was nearly finished his degree, poised to gain top honors when one arrogant, impetuous comment about one of his tutor’s cynicism towards a revival happening on campus changed his life forever.

Brainerd made the comment in a hallway of the school to some friends, but someone from the school administration overheard it.  He was immediately expelled and never allowed to finish his degree.  At this time no pastorate could be obtained unless the candidate held a degree from Harvard, Yale or a European Institution. Thus, this expulsion effectively forever crushed Brainerd’s one great dream for his life.

File:Brainerd preaching.jpgBut, as is the case with all great stories, with our story, it did not end there.  God had something greater that could only come through this failure which He allowed in Brainerd’s life. 

It is fairly certain that Brainerd would never have become a missionary to Native Americans if his dream of a pastorate were obtained.  Yet this path was not his settling for something less, rather, it was the finding of the life-sized dream of God’s heart for him.

And through Brainerd’s life, not only did many come to know the hope of Jesus, but future generations of missionaries were inspired to go to countless people with the good news.

For all of you who have been following our story, you can imagine the chords of this story with which my heart is resonating.  As Jared {my hubby} and I sat beside each other, I thought of all that’s led us to this point in our missionary journey.

One great season of failure, in particular, stands out.  I had begun a seminary degree in which I was very successful.  I had been chosen as a finalist for a prestigious internship where I would have travelled around the country with a well-known Christian speaker.  I felt with surety that I knew where my life was going.

Budapest 055However, I failed to travel to the live interview due to a personal crisis resulting from a relationship I had foolishly invested myself in and it’s abrupt and full rupture which devastated me.  I really believe that if I had been able to go to that interview {they were choosing 7 of 11 finalists} I would have been offered the internship.

Instead, I wasn’t. And due to how much hurt and pain I was going through, for the first time in my life, I was willing to leave seminary and NOT finish something.  I was also, for the first time, willing to come home to live with my parents.

So I came home and taught Math at my old high school which was no where near any dream of mine.  I cared for my mom when one year later she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and nine months later died, which on the face of it, would have been one of my worst nightmares.  In the midst of that, I met my husband and married this guy from my hometown.  Definitely NOT what I was going to do.

Then, about eight years ago, in my husband’s home church, God introduced us to a ministry to high school students in the public schools of Hungary. Eastern Europe had NEVER crossed my mind as a place where I would one day live…even go to for a short-term missions project.Budapest 044

But God knew about all of this and about taking away every dream I had of what, where and with whom I would live my life.  He laid me low in a life-altering way and has been building this journey piece by piece ever since.

I have so far to go, but I can tell you, that the great theme that emerged from this life-altering failure is that God loves me enough to bring no plan or success into my life that does not bring me closer to Him.  He has burned within my heart as its greatest desire that I would be His and that my life would reflect His Glory.

That is worth everything to me. to Him.  and worth the bearing of every failure and the death of every goal, aspiration and dream.

 

UseitonMonday

Thank You LORD who is Greater ::

  • for the unexpected
  • for bends in the road
  • for failures that open the door to Your dreams
  • for moving past the fear—You redeem it all
  • for how You write the best chapters
  • for darkness before the dawn
  • for all of the shattered dreams of years gone by
  • for bringing me home
  • for finding this life in the last place I would have looked
  • for the Song of Creation
  • for harvest moons
  • for sunsets that make me think of Your robe reaching Earth
  • for tiny voices
  • for son who wants to please Your heart and says so
  • for a Sunday date with my sweet hubby
  • for You. fully trustworthy.
  • for loving me enough to close every door that leads me away from You
  • for how You are re-making me to desire Your Glory more than my own
  • for Your ways as higher
  • for the BEST ALWAYS AND EVER YET TO COME!

#1591-1610

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SoliDeoGloria

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Five Minute Friday : Unexpected…

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Unexpected…

And so it is I find such unexpected ways

a haze

of myself.

I wish that all was vibrant and

that the

weight of

all to be expected

coming

would sweep

me away in

a wildness of adventure.

Instead I have

this unexpected

numbness.

I long to feel

and know as

reality the JOY

of all that’s ahead

when the adventure

reaches fruition and we

board planes and go.

When Europe is our home

and though it is all mostly new

it will be quaint with romantic

dates galore and city-sized

playgrounds of trams

and underground trains

for boys. and just

the flowers of Margit Sziget

to captivate my little girl’s heart.

But, there is also all that

won’t be romantic and so

there is the unexpected face

or reality blowing cold air

in the face of this head-in-the-clouds

loves the idea of things…

But, oh how unexpectedly the

growing up has been the really

seeing the real and yet knowing

that this can still bring sparkles

to eyes and even deeper ones

because there is no barrier

to the living and the joy.

And so I ask for the unexpected

of His transformation to

bring what He always expects…

a fire within that

burns and fills and is full

of all that feels and embraces.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Roller Coasters & Tidal Waves {Guest Post at Graceful}

As we were preparing to go overseas to Hungary for the summer of 2010, I remember sharing with some friends how I felt like I was about to get on a very tall, very fast, and very scary roller coaster.

It must have been a bit prophetic.

I felt that way anticipating taking our family of four, which included one not quite three year-old son and one not quite one year-old daughter and thankfully, one very hands-on father, across the ocean for five weeks.

I came home after those five weeks with the full weight of a long-term call, which, although it included much joy and excitement, had the undeniable mark of a great upheaval for our little family.

Fast forward fifteen months and I am still on that roller coaster.

{Please continue reading with me at Graceful where my dear friend, Michelle, who I had the privilege of spending some wonderful time with at the recent Relevant Conference has welcomed me to her blog to share a bit about Roller Coasters, Tidal Waves and Letting Go.  If you don’t know Michelle, spend some time with her at Graceful, she is a breath of fresh air, honest, true seeker of God.}

imperfect prose


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Monday, November 7, 2011

I can live…

Fall Beauty 051

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.

~Acts 23:11

Something that the pastor said when we were visiting my Dad’s church stuck to me like bubble gum to the bottom of a high school student’s chair;} {and I know about that sticking since I taught in high schools for seven years!} :

‘Paul lived like he was immortal {from that point on}…come shipwreck, come whatever, he knew he was going to Rome.’

It was Jesus himself who had told Paul that he was going to Rome to testify as he had in Jerusalem.  And you might say, like me, if Jesus told me I would do this or that or go here or there then I would have the confidence of Paul.

And I say to us, ‘hasn’t he?’

He promises that all of our days are known to Him before one of them comes to pass.  He knows our coming and going and our beginning and our end and we ARE immortal, invincible, in our life here on earth until we fulfill the living of each day written for us.  And when our work is done, we will land safely in the arms of Jesus at peace forevermore.

Like my Poppy who passed away today at the ripe age of 93.  When a history of heart disease necessitated triple bypass surgery 30 years ago, would he have pictured living this long?  When his wife of nearly 70 years went to Heaven would any of us have thought he would live 3 years more?

Yet, His Lord knew.  He kept Poppy in that nursing home with a smile on his face and a song in his heart to touch the lives of many in his last years, months and days. 

And this is my hope and peace and life and joy.  All of my days written in His heart and held in His hand and I can live in boldness and confidence as the moments of my life span before me. 

I can live immortally.

I can live with the God-breathed, stilled and quiet confidence of the Lord who IS as my own.

I can live without holding anything back from Him.

I can live with a fullness of presence that marks every relationship.

I can live with dreams many-hued and manifold and boldly step into achieving them.

And when all is said and done I can live forever with Him and never miss a beat because it has all been FOR HIS GLORY anyway.

I can live…

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SoliDeoGloria


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Friday, November 4, 2011

Five Minute Friday :: Remember…

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Remember…

and this day when I hold you in my arms and you four big years now.  and I cuddle you and I remember how I held you when you first came to the BIG doctor’s office and you so tiny and this world so big.  and I lost it when you cried with your first shots and it takes a piece of me today, 4 years later when I cuddle and you cry because it hurts.

And I cry for all that hurts in this life and I can’t protect you from it.

And I think of how just last night you sigh at dinner and say you are sad having to give back all of our houses, our Florida house, Colorado house, first Pennsylvania house and now this second you know we will leave soon.  And your little heart is weary born into this sojourning family following the bigness of God leading us across an ocean.

And so I remember how He is writing your story.  It is bigger than your mommy and daddy’s calling and it is bigger than shots that hurt to protect you and it is bigger than all that we will fail you in and that this whole world will fail you in and you with your big heart feeling the shots and I feeling them right with you.  And I remember that the pieces that this Mama’s heart is breaking into are the very heart of God given to me for you to intercede for you and to make a Home where He is all the hope and refuge and strength and tender grace to see us through this long journey home. 

Stop.


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