tomato sauce.

do you really think i didn’t know the outcome? 

no, lord. i know you knew.

then do you think i allowed it to happen because i’m loving?

or because i’m spiteful?

uh…

* * * * * * * * * *

i likened my heart recently to a can of crushed tomatoes.

no big deal, i’m over it now.

(really. i’m over it.)

(for real. i promise.)

(okay, so i’m getting there.)

(plus, i may or may not have been a tiiiny bit dramatic and it turns out the thing was much bigger in my head than in reality.)

but for a hot minute my heart hurt in a long-forgotten way.

and when i took it to jesus, that’s what i heard with the ears of my crushed-tomato heart.

i forget sometimes that jesus is all-knowing and all-powerful but he is also, always and in all ways ALL-loving. because it’s who he is and it’s what he does.

 he can’t not love.

he ONLY loves.

do you get that?

so, even when i ask a thousand questions and don’t have any answers and my heart is a can of crushed tomatoes and i can’t make sense of the why’s and the how’s…

he is working on my behalf for love and not for spite.

not to punish but to progress.

not to hold me back but to propel me forward.

i continue to be blown away by this man who came to seek and save the lost.

the one who knows and goes after his own.

the one who stands at the door of my heart, knocking, waiting to be invited in so he can show and tell me how much he loves me, not so he can come in and take over and affront and offend.

the one who lovingly and persistently pursues my heart, my life, my whole soul and being in a way that points directly and only to himself.

he hurts my heart only in the best ways, never in a way that would bring harm or do damage. not in a way that brings confusion, but offers clarity.

so, yes, lord.

yes, jesus.

come in.

come in to this still-beating heart of mine. because if hurting it only draws it closer to yours and i see my choice to become softer and not bitter, then make it so.

make my heart a can of crushed tomatoes if you will, i don’t mind.

because i know

i know that i know that i know

that it’s only because

you love me

that you allow my heart to

hurt so good.

pain is the special province of the heart. and in the providence of a merciful god, he is able to convert it to something golden. something good. -paula rinehart (strong women, soft hearts)

breadcrumbs.

i don’t really know how to begin this post, i just know it needs to be written. that is, i need to write it. more for me than for you but perhaps for you, too.

it’s the one i alluded to when i talked about my journey to discovering my worth (which, by the way, i’m still at a loss for words over your comments and private messages since publishing that story).

the only way i know to tell you about where i am in the journey now is by way of the same simple nuggets god has dropped in my heart in recent months.

i know i will forget parts of the story. (in fact, i will probably keep adding them later as they come to mind.) and i don’t know how to sufficiently put it into words, either.

no human word is even remotely adequate to convey the mysterious and furious longing of jesus for you and me to live in his smile and and hang on his words… -brennan manning

* * * * * * * * * *

mary kathryn, i want you to take a sabbatical from talking about singleness.

this i heard as i was awaiting sleep in dreams not too long ago.

i remembered it clear as day when i woke up the next morning and just thought god was tired of putting up with my bad attitude.

yes, lord.

* * * * * * * * * *

this summer, my friend catherine helped me hear the lord beckoning me -wooing me – into deeper intimacy with him.

i have come to understand him as my father, my friend, my prince of peace.

but never as my husband, and certainly not my lover.

even writing this makes me blush and squirm in front of you. 

like i’m talking about my high school crush.

* * * * * * * * * *

i haven’t known how to enter in to this place that i know he’s been calling me to, the steps toward him i’m supposed to take, so i’m allowing it to happen organically as my radar is attuned.

to allow him to pursue me and court me and respond in kind.

in so doing, i find myself listening more, speaking less, sheepishly smiling at his words over me, knowing he is gazing at me with tender.

* * * * * * * * * *

one of my more-seasoned in life and in jesus friends took me out for birthday lunch and i quietly shared my new experience with her in sacred trust.

how do you experience intimacy with jesus? what do you do to foster that relationship? i asked her.

well, i used to write all my thoughts and prayers to god in my journals, dreams and wishes and deepest desires. now, i listen and i wait and i only journal what he drops in my heart, or a verse or quote that draws me closer to him, she told me.

not only did i fall in love with her idea, but as she spoke i realized that intimacy -with anyone- is so much more about knowing the heart of the other person. it is so much less about professing our own needs, desires and wishes and more about wanting to know that person so deeply, so thoroughly and profoundly, that we might discover our worth or identity through that person.

that we would seek to find ourselves in their heart.

to see ourselves through their eyes.

that our own needs, desires and wishes would be met simply by knowing deeply the heart of our lover.

we recognize that this person has revealed to us not only himself, but our own true self as well. we recognize that we cannot be our own true self except by union with this person. -john mckenzie

i have sought my worth and identity in boyfriends, friends, even in my family name.

but only in true intimacy with jesus -in seeking to please and know and love and be loved by him alone- can i know what it is to find myself.

to be found in him is more about knowing him than it is making myself known to him.

(because, hellooo…)

in loving me, you made me lovable. -st. augustine

* * * * * * * * * *

i went to the state fair last weekend with a treasured friend of my heart. for much of the night, we talked about our sordid relationship history (which included much laughter, wincing on one another’s behalf, and plain honesty), as well as our journeys in jesus.

i heard myself say to him later in the night,

when it comes down to it, these days, i want to spend time with jesus more than anyone else.

and isn’t that where true intimacy is established? through time?

only through time spent with the holy spirit as my bridegroom.

not god as my father or jesus as my friend or my brother.

{not right now, anyway.}

but as my romantic husband, fierce bridegroom and handsome lover of my soul.

* * * * * * * * * *

i have been encouraged to read redeeming love by francine rivers since it was first published twenty years ago but only recently felt compelled to read it for the first time last month. i couldn’t put it down. the lord whispered deep unto me as i read this story of gomer and hosea, especially in light of recognizing my own prostitution.

but it wasn’t until i finished reading it that i paralleled god’s pursuit of me even during days when i wouldn’t, couldn’t trust that his heart toward me was only and all good so i would run and hide in ways all too familiar yet costly.

until i chose him back.

and i do. i choose him back. deeply, passionately.

he is the man that i choose, now and always.

* * * * * * * * * *

i am my beloved’s and he is mine.

this verse from the seventh chapter of the song of solomon has resounded so clearly in my spirit in recent months only to re-open last week the furious longing of god by my friend brennan for a second time in the last year as if for the first and read these pregnant words on his first pages. (and, yes, i did just name-drop again and, in searching for the story of how it is i call him my friend, i realize i haven’t told it yet but it’s a good one and you’ll understand better then. for now, assume the best.)

i know he is calling me, drawing me deeper, unto himself. 

* * * * * * * * * *

the book of esther is far and above my favorite book in the bible, as i know it is for many of you. the other day it occurred to me that i have officially been single for just over a year now when i realized that esther went through a year of preparation before her king petitioned for her to come.

and when he did, he was so taken by her he wanted no other besides.

* * * * * * * * * *

that after a year of official and intentional singleness when my heart could be mended and patched and afford to be wooed again

{this time by only my king into his chambers}

that i would build a wall around my heart and then spend a season locked in a tower and wandering the kingdom…

that i would simply respond, and come when i hear the jesus of my journey quietly speak in my heart in dark night hours,

come now, my love.

my lovely one, come.

for you, the winter has passed,

the snows are over and gone,

the flowers appear in the land,

the season of joyful songs has come.

the cooing of the turtledove is heard in our land.

come now, my love.

my lovely one, come.

let me see your face. and let me hear your voice,

for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.

come now, my love,

my lovely one, come.

i am once again reminded that my story has not happened in vain, but that my past is past and that good, glorious things are growing from it, that life springs forth from the death of a long, cold winter.

i respond to my lover in forward-motion, arm-in-arm with my king who calls me, woos me, beckons me to himself.

he bids me well

and

i

come.

and it is once again not lost on me that my season of i don’t wanna, you can’t make me, i’m never going to get married is obliterated in the light of my bridegroom and who knows what comes next and i don’t even care as long i can have this and only this for now.

because only through this unique opportunity i’m given in this extended season of table for one to respond to him alone will i ever understand the power and depth and gratitude of intimacy i might one day share with my husband.

and so i come.

i come and i respond and i will and i have and i do.

oh, yes, jesus. i do.

and that’s all there is and ever has been and ever will be.

{i am my beloved’s and he is mine. -songs 7:10}

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