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)

all my days.

when my life is through
lord i hope that you
will be pleased with me
and in whatever came my way
in all that i’ve been through
i held on to you

for the voice of my shepherd i will follow
and the hand of my friend i will take
and the hem of your garments i will kiss, lord
for all my days
for all my days

in the darkest time
you have been my find
and i can’t repay
you’ve saved me with your love
washed me in the blood
and i will obey

for the voice of my shepherd i will follow
and the hand of my friend i will take
and the hem of your garments i will kiss, lord
for all my days
for all my days

here am i so in love with serving you
bending low to bow before my king
my desire is only to please you lord
my desire is simply to obey

for the voice of my shepherd i will follow
and the hand of my friend i will take
and the hem of your garments i will kiss, lord
for all my days

for all my days

-rita springer

soul windows.

if a person’s eyes are the windows to a soul, then you have a beautiful soul

so deep, clear and profound, the things they have seen

your eyes see through to the very heart of me

to the very core of who i am, without measure or filter

and here i sit, thinking my windows may need a good cleaning

wondering, wandering, clinging to you

you see tenderly, you capture my gaze and i am left wanting

more

more

more of you

only you

you see desperation and exhaustion

and hope

and you make change from the inside out

you see me as i am meant to be seen,

meant to be known

you see through, from the inside out and the outside in

and you love better than i love, more than i do, as it can only be

as it is meant to be

oh god, help me to see with your eyes, to hear with your ears

give me understanding that only the eyes of my heart could see

help me to see like you see, with your heart, god. i get in my own way and on my own nerves and i need to see today like you see always.

one foot in front of the other, i hear.

lift my eyes to you, o god, enthroned in heaven. -psalm 123:1, nlt

look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. -proverbs 4:25, nlt

for the month of september, members of the beauty for ashes community are conducting an experiment called the just write! campaign, in an effort to unstick those stuck creatives among us. (for those who recognize the idea, our inspiration comes from the gypsy mama‘s five-minute fridays. all praise and glory to lisa-jo.) for more information, please read this post. to catch up to previous words of the day, you’ll find the ‘just write! campaign’ category to your right.



anyway.

i’m guest-posting today about fostering rest and nurturing creativity over at beautiful elora’s house while she…well, while she fosters rest and nurtures creativity. :)

here’s a sneak peek:

i have a confession to make.

i hate writing guest posts.

it’s true. i do.

but when beautiful elora (who, by the way, has delivered a guest post or two for me) asked me if i would write one for her in september, and she suggested that fostering rest and nurturing creativity were the reason for her blog-sabbatical, and therefore might be the direction we’d opt to take as her guests, i told her i already knew what i wanted to say. call it serendipity, there was already a message brewing in my heart along the exact same lines…

follow me over to love wins to read the rest?

* * * * * * * * * *

if this is your first visit over to beauty for ashes and/or you’ve jumped over here from elora’s, hey and welcome! i’m so glad you’re here. you’ve found us on a unique day because a.) it’s my birthday, see; also, b.) we’re doing this experiment sort of thing right now so it’s not really a typical day in the neighborhood.

unless it’s september (and it is), in which case it’s a pretty typical day these days in the hood. more information is down at the bottom. call it clever, i just thought things were getting a little long up here at the top.

i would love it if you joined us today.

today’s one-word is:

 

ready? go!

in the beginning, god created

oh, divine creator, supreme artist who splashed stars in the sky by design and filled the earth with oceans deep and mountains high and painted by hand every leaf and tree…

thank you for creating me.

day of all days, i was born this day to worship you, to love and be loved by you and only you, king of all kings.

blessed be.

* * * * * * * * * *

anyway

bless the day
this restoration is complete
dirty, dusty, something must be underneath
so i scrape and i scuff
though it’s never quite enough
i’m starting to see me finally

a gallery of paintings new and paintings old
i guess it’s no surprise that i’m no michaelangelo
every layer of mine hides a lovely design 
it might take a little patience
it might take a little time

but you called me beautiful
when you saw my shame
and you placed me on the wall
anyway

you who have begun this work will someday see
a portrait of the holiness you meant for me
so i polish and shine
til it’s easier to find even an outline of mine

but you called me beautiful
when you saw my shame
and you placed me on the wall
anyway

and you placed me on the wall
anyway 

-nichole nordeman

{for we are god’s masterpiece. he has created us anew in christ jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. -ephesians 2:10 (nlt)}

* * * * * * * * * *

for the month of september, members of the beauty for ashes community are conducting an experiment called the just write! campaign, in an effort to unstick those stuck creatives among us. (for those who recognize the idea, our inspiration comes from the gypsy mama‘s five-minute fridays. all praise and glory to lisa-jo.) for more information, please read this post. to catch up to previous words of the day, you’ll find the ‘just write! campaign’ category to your right.

your tender touch.

welcome to the first day of the just write! campaign. for the month of september, members of the beauty for ashes community will be given a one-word prompt which i have pulled from a jar each day in order to help stuck creatives {like me} get un-stuck.

this idea is inspired by the gypsy mama’s five-minute fridays, in which i (we?) will continue to participate. (on fridays, we will use her prompts.) we will adhere to the same parameters: just write for five minutes – no thinking, no editing. (it is my suggestion that you write your own before you read mine or anyone else’s so your head isn’t cluttered by the words of others.) you may use the prompt to write on your own blog (link back so we can all go see!) or utilize the comment space here. participate at your leisure. if you have suggestions for our collective jar, please offer them as well.

to learn more about our experiment, click here.

{my thanks to steph dunham for coming up with the name of this (ad)venture.}

today’s prompt:

your tender touch moves me closer and closer and deeper still

nearer and yet so far

intimacy for which i long with you and only you

my father, my bridegroom, lover of my soul

i enter into your healing presence and sway gently in your strong embrace

you move, i move…

in you i am made whole

in you i know more and i am made free

i see less but i am so hidden in you,

so wrapped up with you,

that yours is the only heart i must know

i crave, i bow, i long for

yours and only your tender touch

you who knows and created and begins and ends this world,

this life

you who made this wild girl-woman

to dance and sing and sculpt and play and laugh and cry real tears

you did this to me and in me and through me

with your touch

with your voice

with one word, you spoke

and i…

and i am lost in the tenderness

of you

i am kissed by, touched by, so deeply lost in

you and only you

my king, my savior, my master

you compel me, you beckon me

and i come

your turn.

just write!

heavenly places.

You above, seated in the heavenlies

Who am I? Who am I to You?

Speak to me my true identity

Speak to me, Speak to me

You’re not waiting to come down and judge me

Or tell me of all I’ve done wrong

But when I look at you, when you look my way

I see mercy, I see justice, I see truth in love

I see passion, I see wonder, I see holiness

You above, seated in the heavenlies

Who are you? Who do I say You are?

Reveal to me, even in Your majesty

Your true thoughts, let me see Your heart

I am seated with You in the heavenly places

Heavenly places with You

Self-focus is way overrated

I’m so quick to point out my flaws

But when You look at me, when You look my way

You call me worthy, You see beauty, You see purity

You see purpose, You see value, You see who I’ll be

You call me worthy, You see beauty, You see who I’ll be

-Amber Brooks

i love this song by amber brooks and thought it would be a good follow-up to monday’s post {when you know you are loved}.

may the god of all wonder dig down deep into the garden of your heart to plant this message of his heart.

and may you always, always know you are loved.

see you tomorrow for 5mf. (or friday. since today is wednesday and i got my days mixed-up when i pre-posted this.)

xo

by the sword.

live by the sword.

I don’t see why I don’t see what bothers me
And I don’t know why I don’t know what won’t let me go
I should have listened to myself when I had it down
This dose of my own medicine is too big to swallow now
This is the time when I find what’s inside of me
This is the time when I decide what I believe

If I want to be real in this world
The I have to realize
If I am going to live by the sword
I’m gonna have to die by the sword

It’s easy to be calm when there’s no crashing tide
It’s easy to be quiet when it’s loud outside
It’s easy to be humble when you’re glorified
But now I’m out here on my own and screaming from inside

This is the time when I find what’s inside of me
This is the time when I decide what I believe

You stripped me down to basics
You left my heart exposed
There is no pride in times like this
No one said it was easy
No one said it was fair
But nobody’s happy when it is

Lord, I need your loving arms to carry me
When I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see
I know you know what I desire to do
So help me follow even when it’s not easy to

-jill phillips

* * * * * * * * * *

while this is not a reflection of my current state of being, can’t we all relate in some way? i have definitely been in this space, probably more recently than i’d like to remember.

especially as we enter into this next season of change, i’m sure there’s at least one among us who finds themselves uncomfortably hanging in the frustrating (im)balance of knowing the truth of god in our lives and actually living like we know it. perhaps you’re just stuck in a rut.

this song is for you.

remember:  now there is no condemnation for those who belong to christ jesus. (rom 8:1, nlt)

don’t you worry about one thing, and don’t you believe the lie that you must strive in jesus or ‘try harder’ or ‘do better’.

all you have to do -the only thing you have to do- is let yourself be loved and rest in his presence.

(everything else naturally falls into place after that.)

xo

all of my heart.

fearfully and wonderfully made.

So fearfully and wonderfully made,
How could they say there is no God?
Reminded every breath that I take,
It’s by Your hand I have been formed
So what am I going to do with this life You gave me?
What could I do but live for Your praise?

You gave me this breath,
And You gave me this strength,
And every day I´ll live to obey You.
With all of my heart, 
With all of my soul; 
Let every breath I’m breathing display You, God.

Oh, there’s elegance in all you create
Your grand designs leave us amazed.
The wonders of the way we’ve been made
Speak of Your power, tell of Your grace.
So what am I going to do with this life You gave me?
What could I do but live for Your praise?

You gave me this breath,
And You gave me this strength,
And every day I’ll live to obey You.
With all of my heart,
With all of my soul;
Let every breath I’m breathing display You, God.

So what am I going to do with this life You gave me?
What am I going to do with this life?
What am I going to do in these days You’ve ordained?
What am I going to do with this life?

You gave me this breath,
And You gave me this strength,
And every day I’ll live to obey You.
With all of my heart,
With all of my soul;
Let every breath I’m breathing display You, God.

-matt redman

even still.

the gypsy mama is hosting 5mf over at (in)courage today, so i encourage you to pay them a visit and see who you see over there. you’re bound to fall in love with another blogger or four. 

the reason i love 5mf is because it allows us to write creatively, without thinking or editing our thoughts or our words. in so doing, i believe, i truest hearts are exposed raw, bare. it’s a great practice, whether you do it on your own blog or privately, and if you don’t have your own space to publish yours, then i hope you will feel free to share your voice in the comments section of this space. you are free, you are welcome. (my suggestion to you would be to write your own first so that your head and heart aren’t filled with others’ words as you reach for your own.)

to read past five-minute friday posts, please click here.

today’s prompt?

still.

and still i rise and still i falter and still i stumble

but you are still and still you are

always, always still

in the stillness you are there

in the still of the night

be still and know and so i will be still and know

that you are that you are that you are that you are

still, i wonder and i wander and i am always hither thither and yon

and still you are and still you know and you are even still

and i love you still, even when i can’t be still and am not still

you are still, still the one.

lover of my heart, of my soul, you are still the one for me

and still i rise and still i stumble and still i make the most of what i’ve got but not the most of who you are

because i still don’t know just how good and true and wonderful you are

always, still

but you still wait and you still love and you still show me all that you are and all that you can do and there is not one thing, one person, one tree, one life, who is outside the realm of your glory

even still

i try

shadow of the valley.

i don’t want to face this valley

i don’t want to walk alone

 you say you’ll leave to find me

well, i am begging you now to come

don’t think i can face the morning

a heaviness is on my chest

you say that you’ll lift this burden

well, i am begging you to bring me rest

so come and find me

in the darkest night of my soul

in the shadow of the valley

i am dying for you to make me whole

for you to make me whole

i can’t keep myself from sinking

from drowning down in all this shame

my throat is worn out from calling for help

and i am praying you’ll remember my name

i know i can’t fight this battle

been surrounded on every side

you say that you will deliver me

well i am praying you’ll restore my life

so come and find me

in the darkest night of my soul

in the shadow of the valley

i am dying for you to make me whole

for you to make me whole

answer me out of the goodness of your love

in your mercy turn and hear me

i know it’s you that i’ve been running from

but i’m seeing it’s you i need, need

you’re all i need

so come and find me

in the darkest night of my soul

in the shadow of the valley

i am dying for you to make me whole

for you to make me whole

for you to make me whole

-ellie holcomb

over the weekend, joy posed this question on the twitter, ‘Does God remove us from life’s storms? Or go with/thru them?’ i knew my answer to this question but didn’t respond, probably because i was about to fall asleep.

and then this song by ellie holcomb shuffled through my playlist when i was reading on my couch while a soft rain fell outside on sunday and somehow the two tied themselves together.

we are not promised a life free from pain, tragedy or sorrow, are we?

we will be weak, angry and disappointed, won’t we?

a wise woman in my aa-home group in chapel hill used to say, ‘there aren’t bumps in the road. this is the road.’

but, sweet friends, the promise of god is that he will never leave us or forsake us. ever. 

my experience has been that walking through the valley only draws me closer to his heart. i learn more about his heart and character in those times than any ‘mountaintop’ experience i’ve had in my life. and as much as i resent or fight those times when i’m going through them, i wouldn’t trade a single mountaintop for the valleys i have trod.

i can recall dark nights of my soul when it took all the strength i had to whisper the name of jesus when i thought i would crumble under the weight of life. i know some of you are heavy from that same weight right now.

my prayer for you today is that you would know his goodness, sense his strong hand and cry into the shoulder of the one who wants to bear that weight for you.

you are his heartbeat.

you are loved.

xo

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