Monday, March 31, 2014

Lessons from the hill :: Concentric Circles {part 1}


He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

-Luke 10:26-27 (ESV)

One of my majors in college was Math. 


When people learn this they can be surprised that the other, Spanish, is language-oriented and even more surprised that I am a writer. 

So, I was really encouraged when my former high school English teacher, after he had read a bunch of my poetry, told me how he thought Math-types made some of the neatest, most unique writers.

Things like symmetry, order and logic are this built-in mental structure under which creativity flows.  This also lends itself to mathematical images out of which words are created.

So when I had an insight during a hill walk that involved concentric circles as they parallel the ordering of the loves and priorities of my heart, I smiled at this math-brain’s imagery.


Concentric circles have a common center. If the circles are moving objects and any of them move away from the center they cease to be concentric and will instead intersect at the outer edge and produce a picture of increasing chaos

Stick with me please.  I am going to try to explain what this has to do with ANYTHING and how this analogy is working to profoundly affect and shape my understanding of the ordering of what I love.




In the words of St. Augustine ::

“Oh Lord You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.”

Our center is God.  To have an ordered life, He must be central in all things. The focal point of our vision.  The love and worship of Him must shape everything.  If we get off-center and try to make something else, essentially another circle, or love, the center we fall out of order, into chaos and lose perspective on everything.

Chaotic Circles

We become restless and the harmony of all elements of life knowing their proper place is lost. It’s hard to know God’s love and the peace, joy, LIFE that it brings when we are off-center.

This chaos has reigned too often in my life, especially since we moved overseas.  Some of the outer circles like friendships, work, beauty in common surroundings, language and basic human competency were gone.  I have felt unanchored, uprooted, anxious and just plain off.  This is common to any move, especially one to a new language and culture, so, as in all things as we live in the journeying mess, there is much Grace.

And truly, losing these things of lesser importance {outer circles} is a great gift.  Expanding on the analogy, if those circles are like skin over our hearts, as some are stripped away we find out what is truly forming our sense of well-being; our identity.  Many good things like friendships, home, consistent community are intended to bring us joy.  But it is so easy for lesser things to become the main thing. And it is only when we lose something that we love that we realize the disordered importance it is given.

The image of our loves as concentric circles, a bullseye, brings, then, a clearer picture of sin, or ‘missing the mark’.  If the goal of our lives is to bring glory to God, essentially, loving Him above all else, then when our circles are off center, there is sin.  It is a pervasive reality and we will always be off until we reach perfection, face-to-face and the Forever Glory of worship in Heaven.

Yet as this picture came to mind, while I was walking the hill, it was a very peace-filled hopeful thing.  My restless, restless heart was full of busy-frenetic-worried straining to replace some of the outer layers and I was constantly frustrated, angry and fearful when I couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t make instant and deep friendships. I couldn’t learn a very hard language overnight.  My surroundings were new and frightening and not comforting and confidence-building.

So as I wrestled with my restless searching, I often felt a complete loss of the grounding center that is God.  All the while He is loving me as a Father, wooing me as a Lover and journeying with me in all things as the Spirit—comforting through the Word.  Extending infinite patience and compassion and the call Home, to the center, to His rest and a life that is filled with peace, joy and love that can accomplish great things for His Glory.

I shared this lesson first because it is the most over-arching and shaping of all that have come to me as I walk the hill.  The next piece will look at practical ways to keep God at the center.





Friday, March 28, 2014

#FMF {mighty} & 10 things I learned {March}


Go ::

The crown of life is not given to the faint of heart

to those who said ‘it’s too hard’

and left the fight.

No the prize is an upward call and it’s from Jesus

and to Jesus we run.

We learn to live in such a way that we

gain strength that is renewed like
the eagle’s.

The might of this little life I have to give

is perfected, compounded, built upon layer

upon layer by the dying.

The dying that comes akin to breathing

and the might that truly starts to feel

like it might could change the world.

It learns to draw from eternal depths

and live the unseen

as though it is reality. As mama it’s

prayers for kids to become God’s in

all ways and to live like

there is something worth dying for.

Mama’s learn might by pouring it into the

mundane that their hearts in babes and

children rise up in strength, surrounded

in love and stand on shoulders to one

day far surpass the faith of their mama’s.005

For wives the might is often found

in never giving up the belief that the

best is yet to be in the marriage given and

that as God becomes more and more the

celebration in the midst, there is a

might that none of the weapons formed against
this most precious of unions can prosper.

As daughter of Abba Daddy might’s face is a

secret smile and sprarkling eyes that rises

in an unquenchable resilience that truly

all things are possible…

{that went QUICK!!! it’s onward, upward, now…living mighty

in ways that should make the devil very nervousWinking smile}


And I had to join this link-up too…

Things I learned in March :: {Link with Chatting @ the Sky}

0291) Waiting & Hoping are Twins Just like my sister and I. They are inseparable in their origins and essential roles that make the life they bring possible.  I have been meditating & memorizing Psalm 62:5-8 and the Lord has had me parking right at verse 5 for most of Lent.  I also think of Lamentations 3:24-26 that have been life treasure verses and Romans 8:.  There are many more, I am sure, but it’s easy to see that the Lord loves to remind us of this special twin relationship.

2) My blog theme is right on yet incomplete.  I have heard from those blog know-how-ers that you find ‘your thing’ and you stick with it.  The heartbeat of my writing is truly to fan the flame, light the fire, see the world be changed as we live in all-out, abandoned love for the One Worthy of all of our lives.  Yet, there’s parts of me that are an expression of that fire that are kind of shy here…like humor, laughter, joy, light-heartedness that comes from knowing who and Whose I am.  I am trusting God to show me how to bring a fuller expression of myself to this blog-space.

3) Laughter finds us in the most surprising of places.  I have long loved most about the Proverbs 31 woman that she ‘laughs at the days to come’.  I want that to characterize my life and this month the Lord unlocked a big key to that for me.

4) Sharing my story as God is calling me to, is both terrifying and liberating.  This relates to #3 and I still can’t believe I am moving forward with what He is calling me to share, but I know I’ll never feel peace and being anything less than obedient in it will make me unfaithful.

5) Having other languages in my head makes me a better writer.  I have been fluent in Spanish for almost 20 years and have been immersed in Hungarian language & culture for the past 2 and have a shaky fluency level in it.  Being able to sit down and write in my heart language because I live much of my life thinking and speaking other languages, is a treasure that inspires and fills me with thankfulness.

6) As a Mom, carving out time away from my kids really, really does make me a better mom.  If you’ve017 learned this truth—good for you!!!  I’ve spent so much time feeling guilty and believing lies about this, that I am so, so happy to have found new freedom and peace in this truth.

7) Re-learning :: YOU CAN NEVER, EVER OUTGIVE GOD! All of the risk and sacrifice of lives devoted to Him is returned manifold…if I have but eyes open to see it!

8) Nothing in my life can move forward if I am unwilling to risk.  Every relationship, every passion and vision require great courage to Live with a captial ‘L’.

9) The circus comes to this neighborhood in Budapest where we live.  There’s a big tent set up outside the Catholic church and donkeys and ponies tethered to the road I walk daily while it’s in town.  There’s much more to know, but my daughter took one look at the sign with a clown and said ‘no, no’ Winking smile

10) I am less American than I have ever been.  In a little over a week, we’ll go back to the States for the first time in 2 years!  I know I will have lots of reverse culture shock and feel utterly out of the loop.  I can watch some TV shows here but gave them up a while ago and just haven’t gotten back into them…so I figure I’ll survive through the universally life-giving things.  Face-to-face relationships that are Heaven-bound and timeless.  Staying deep in the Word and writing out my story…the one I want to engage in all it’s gritty glory and learn to live it well…This one precious time, space and history I am given.




Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lessons from the Hill :: the keeping Grace {Introduction}


I remember the many prayers in the midst of transition and fundraising and packing and the like.  I lifted up my heart’s desire for a God-gone-before place for our family to live once we moved to Budapest, Hungary.

As with every prayer I have ever prayed with the crying heart and the child-like faith as it goes up and up and up, purified and redeemed, I surrender my wants…for worship and lay it all at Abba Daddy’s feet. Then, I actively work to let go. to trust. to believe and in His time He answers. Exceeding Immeasurably beyond.  As my dear earthly daddy would say ‘you can’t outgive God.’

Yes. So true. So so so true.

After what seemed like lots of looking and the humbling doubt invading and a desperate phone call to my dear friend Julie, she found another barrel to look in and out came the exceeding, immeasurably beyond of our home here in Hungary.

Prayers answered beyond for a location to easily navigate the city and to easily receive students from the city.  Prayers answered beyond for adequate space to show hospitality and let little children play. Prayers answered beyond for kitchen, washer and storage space, none of which are a given anywhere in this city. Prayers answered beyond for close markets and stores that save us time and money.

All icing on the cake so to speak.  For it was the prayers refined lifted for a community in which to minister that has become our own, with language routes and locals who smile when they see us {especially my hubby who has NEVER met a stranger;} that rooted deepest in me. 

There’s a high school where my husband has gone into English and Hungarian classes and whose students are never far from his heart. There’s an elementary school with a believing principal that we hope will be the place for our son for a few years.  Recently, we’ve found a church home right here too.  All filling us with hope and renewed desire to remain here, in this home, and the humbling, grace-filled reality that years of living and reaching out will bear eternal fruit.

But despite my prayers and the answer, the joy and thankfulness have been intermittent these almost two years hence. It is always the hardest to open wide and receive and rest wild, full and complete in the grace, the good gifts given. {the gist of a passage from Ann Voskamp’s ‘One Thousand Gifts’…chapters 5, 6 or 7??}

It is this process of receiving in the midst of a restless, restless heart that will be the086 theme of this series.

For you see, another gift that I don’t even remember praying for, but which He has given abundantly is a hill to climb and a daily twenty minute walk that have sustained me in some of the hardest, darkest days I have ever known.

These lessons and how they have kept and shaped me through Grace experienced in disciplined communion are what I will be sharing for the next few weeks.

They symbolize how I have come to receive what I most need.  Most have been hard fought as the lies and darkness’ hand have fallen hard and heavy.  And, in the end, hearing, seeing, understanding again and again and again that He is most passionate, not about the ministry outward, but about the secret places where heart of hearts bows in worship and learns who and Whose she is.

playdateswithGod - Copy




Friday, March 21, 2014

Five Minute Friday :: Joy


Go ::

And it’s a name young and innocent

a newborn babe given

Abigail, a source of JOY!

I see pictures and look at that spirited

young girl who was full of life

a tomboy and adventurous, a cuddler

and a sister, daughter and happy child too.

And I know how the story goes and

the days that broke my family’s heart.

There was a loss of this name in me,

a joy that flew away and I did not

know how to find it again. I was awakened

to Gospel and Grace in the early days

of university and I found the fountain, the name

and ran to take on the world.

Heartbreak and cancer quelled the fire

and the joy was yet there, but somehow buried

and a bit dull. Life is the ebb and flow,

this I know, but the struggle to reclaim


the Name is the journey from Eden to Paradise

Perfect and Eternal when the Name given is

over us & can never, ever be taken away.

With smiling face I write how I am again

wooed and wowed and surprised in the

best & most glorious of ways by the Name returned. The

joy rekindled and the fire set aflame. I realize

it is a story of Joy’s Name, but of every name ever

given.  How it is our gift implanted in our

soul but it is marred by the Fall and life and we

struggle to regain, fight to see ourselves redeemed…

we lose our way and forget that when it’s a name

we want for our own and that is the end, well

we lose it again only to receive it back

purified and empowered to journey with us Home

and to surrender to the One Glory, the One Name

the One Joy who is the source of all.




Friday, March 14, 2014

Five Minute Friday :: Crowd

And it’s rush hour and the bus is crowded

there’s a kid with headphones and he’s

jammin’.  My beloved taps on shoulder

and asks in Hungarian if he can talk with him.

And there’s a homeless man behind a former

grocery store and the crowds

they pass. but not my beloved.

He stops & looks in eyes and buys something

needed & invites to church.  His heart breaks

when the glassy eyes return and there

is the hopelessness.

And it’s a lonely hill but the crowded city

rests below & he meets someone

who he taps again and asks them about Jesus.

He’s Muslim and they talk on the hill about

the Only Perfect One to offer himself on a hill
for the whole world.

And it’s a crowded mall and that couple can only

see each other, but there’s a Hungarian hello

and a tap on the shoulder and the hard

questions that no one has ever asked.

And there’s a park and a group of high school

students goofing off, but they get to hear

what they never have from a stranger

who makes it a point to speak truth from a

love that cannot be quenched.

And the crowds and the millions have turned

into a small world.  Where classmates remember

a guy who stopped and talked and asked about life

and death and offered hope. And where people

run across the sidewalk to tap on the shoulder because

they remember a conversation from over a year ago.

And there’s a city that is hearing, being wooed by the Love

of all time, one heart, one conversation, one risk at a time.

And my beloved, I am his and he is mine and together

we can change the world in Jesus’ Name.

{dedicated to my beloved…the one with whom I walk, run & journey…

living the Greatest love affair the world has ever known}

Join me @ Missional Women :: How to Share the Gospel With Integrity




Friday, March 7, 2014

Five Minute Friday :: Willing


Go ::

It’s in the silence that

I am hearing the questions.

The ones that need to be


The ones that are asking me

what I will yet lay down. give up.

A new home and life that shows

me I need to trust to walk is

not enough.

It’s only the beginning.

And I see the depths that bring

this life. here. to full.

And I see the sun cresting the hill

I walk daily…it’s straining towards

this earth before me

and I see that beckoning.

You. Bidding me come.

Reminding of something I can

never seem to remember.  The promise

ever real. The best yet to be.

Stepping towards you, letting go of

the grasping unyielding hands white

with will

And I have multitude of times believed

the lie. that what I want to keep

is better than what you give.

Oh foolish woman I am…having tasted

though faintly, yet with the heights of

knowing in my have-lived days, I

know, that I know that I know that I…


You are best of all and you will give

beyond imagining the best that will

never pass away.

the heart is crying out for the freedom

of all that weak flesh that wants to

melt into what I think I need covering

the spirit, the yearning in me,

longing to be free.



Monday, March 3, 2014

a {missionary’s} life poem

School Programs, sunsets, etc 135

One step forward

five back.

Can I still be here?

Confidence lags a mile behind

hard to breathe the


of moments.

Tears, are close


eyes struggling to see.

soul to believe.

heart to trust.

feet to walk.

mouth to talk {literally}

any-of-me to…be. do…anything.

{It’s hard to write the sad. It really is.

It’s why the pen has run dry here the

place hallowed to inspire. encourage.

to fan to flame the gifts of God in you. in me.}

But I’m fighting for the

good. right. true. lovely. washing

away the lies that mar.

I’m doing battle right here.

Living the raw. The real. Exposing

the clay from which I am made.

I embrace the grace, the parakletos,

for the journey Home.

In soul-searing pain the heart beats.

Seeking Savior of life and limb and

ever-faltering steps.

Putting on knowledge; the mind-as-true-part-of-heart


In losing life I find

In counting gain loss I take on His

Competence of first skin culture…

comfort laid down in obedience and

sacrifice of will.

Life as exile fitting tight.

Why? Why must it be so?

It. is. so. hard.

Yes whining…there’s {a bit of} this {I cringe} it’s true.

Obedience? devotion? sacrifice? I’m shedding

those layers too.

All that says look here {at me}

Plunging deep and letting go

the inward smile breaks. Sun

peaking through clouds.

Light of the world come down.

Peeling infinite culture’s breadth; robes

perfect, holy to claim. this too.


Acute angle pierces truth.

It’s this.


Integrity of Name Above All Names.

Only true bow of knee and heart

of soul and life

of words and tongue.

Removal of first, second

third skin and on and on and on

Release of ability to do. be.

Life as school…the teaching true

its learning full.

Worth blood of capillaries

solitary tears

false faces that masquerade

every reaching, seeking, strain

of way, will, life

bound up in me.

One step forward

as-many-as-it-takes back,

down, bended low,

humbled, unafraid.

AWA 2/27/14






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