Saturday, November 21, 2015

Because You Get the Final Word, God

Because You get the final word, God
We will not worry.
We will not wonder if we should push through this
Because you have told us
Not to let go

Because You get the final word, God
You're working through this
Even when we can't see
Any visible proof--
You are working through it, Lord

We look to other people,
Hear their stories,
And captivatingly listen,
Searching for nuggets of golden truth
That might spell out our story for us ahead of it all to come.

But You invite us to the
Record of Your Word, God.

Though You can send us
Particular people and stories to encourage us 
And readily do to confirm it to us,
You ask that we anchor ourselves deeply
In Your promises
Where the only filter of interpretation on Your love story
Is the Holy Spirit,
 who has been given to us.

We run ourselves in circles of illogical logic
Of what ifs
Spiraling downward 
Until we hit our breaking point of doubt and fear

And that is where we find Your strength.

We don't intend to forget,
But we do.

We get worried and frustrated
Our hopes wane momentarily
We can't seem to find You.

That's when You meet us in our desert spaces

You wait for our seeking
And all that's tired to start leaning
On those everlasting arms
That have been there all along
Oftentimes so close we lost Your shadow

You let us lean deep
And remember 
Our circumstances change
But not the awesomeness
Of all that You are.

You can still be trusted.
You're still working it out for the good.

And sometimes the journey 
Feels like a cross country marathon
In a land down under
Of days without rest
And unyielding black nights

But each step marks a peace of our healing
Brings its blessing

And strengthens our faith, hope, and love again

We're still Your warriors
Even when we are struggling
when we are grieving

We're just in a battle
recovering lost ground

Because the Wounded One
took stripes
died and rose
so we could win this
and be healed

Sometimes the struggle is the healing
Jacob's life said

We are still Your messengers

You still have the final word, God,
In these seasons

You teach us to sing when Your light meets our dark.

Because You are faithful, even when we are not

Because You look deep into our hearts and see we still want You

Because You deliver and are mighty to save.

Alpha and Omega--
Full of lovingkindness, 
Always leading us onward and upward
If we'll only believe You're more trustworthy than our "this."

Because You get the final word, God
You know how the story ends
And it is never unhappily ever after
Because You get the final word.

If we commit our lives to Yours, God,
Your love will always meet us there,
Even when we're at the end of our strength

That's when Love gently lifts us
Spiraling upward
An unbroken cocooning
That opens high above us
And offers a much better view

Forever, You're asking us to ignore
What the physical sight brings
So we can focus on the spiritual realities otherwise blocked from our view.

That's when You free us
With Your songs of deliverance.
That's when we feel and believe what You're saying is true:
"Child, I love you!"

And our worries melt like butter
Fully erasing our clarified fears

Because You're with us
On the journey

Even when we can't see You physically
You are with us

Having walked the path before us
Before you retraced your steps 
to meet us where we are
And then You reach out Your hand
To walk beside us again
And to bring us where we will be
As we lean on Your arms and we clasp tightly to Your Unseen hand.

All because You love us and have prepared good things before us
That we might walk in them

That we might soar high in Your strength!

All because You get the final word, God

And the final word is "Your love never ends!"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Remembrance Day

When my grandfather forgot my grandmother
She never stopped remembering him.

When he forgot he had a bride,
She kept her vows for better or for worse.

Love does that.

Love remembers even when ...

The man, who always wanted to hold her,
Morphed into the man 
who wanted to be far away from her

And she remembered whom he was beneath the surface of unraveling memories.

Like Penelope
She wove the fraying threads of logic
Over and over again
Into a beautiful tapestry
Of tear-stained prayers
To stay her through the storm
To keep the missing at bay

She was determined to love my grandfather 
in the same way 
he would love her 
if his mind were intact and the 
tables were reversed.

I learned so much she didn't know she was teaching me.

I learned what it means to love someone through anything, 
even when 
they can't love you back.

I learned how you remember enough for the two of you 
to hold things together, 
even when only one of you 
is in your right mind and 
doing most of the work.

I learned how to see what true love is, made plainly visible in one million concrete ways
 how love looks past what things look like on the surface 
to what can only be known 
heart to heart.

I learned God alone
creates love that will last
beyond its dying breath.

One day, so deep in that dreadful disease that he was primarily silent and 
rarely moved the slightest...

One day after so many days 
when his voice had been grating 
instead of grateful...

One day after the same hands
that had only ever before this disease
reached for my grandmother tenderly--
 stopped striving to lash out at her...

One day after many days 
where his eyes had searched 
my grandmother's face 
in anger or confusion, 
with the perpetual looks of either, 
"Who are you?" Or
"Stay away!"

For one fraction of one glorious day
God's love and grace exponentially surrounded us.
He remembered her
At a time all of his memories
Of her 
 whom she truly was to him
Should have faded forever away

The hands reached out in gentleness

The eyes brimmed full with affection.

The lips parted to ask for a kiss and 
to tell her,
 "You're my
wife...I love you."  

There is power in being remembered well and 
being loved completely for it.

even when love came and left 

Before it flew back home to stay.

Angela M. Byrd 
Copyright 2015, 2017

Friday, October 2, 2015

Right when it looks like the darkest

Right when it looks like the darkest
In the midst of 
The hopeless
In visible schemes
You are right there with us
You are walking us through this
Every time that we walk with You
And call

"Savior, like a shepherd lead us..."
Beside the still waters 
Is where You lead us to rest.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Finding Our Muchness Again

From the sound of our hearty first cries at birth,
We appear born into this world
Full of confidence

But we are totally dependent, in fact.

We only learn and grow 
In confidence
If we are nurtured and well-loved;
We lose it,
If that love is withdrawn.

God's love 
our rejection.

Until the Savior, 
who was rejected
By almost everyone on earth
While doing the most loving thing imaginable and beyond our wildest dreams--
Until He shows us all His nail scars in His heart and on His flesh 
And doesn't reject us but 
Comes close,
 embraces us
Deep and wide
With everlasting love 
Inside His everlasting arms
Full of the love that will never let us go.

Rejection comes to all of us;
Hits us full force in the center of 
Our security
Reminds us even the venerable are
Attempts to change who we think we are
And who we think we want to be
Tempts us to live to outpace the pain

Rejection tempts us to be less than ourselves
Can cause us to miss
The truest of loves

Until we find our acceptance
In God and His love
Until His voice and guidance matter
More than that of anyone else's
And then His truth can erase all the bad

Alice lost her muchness
When she became too absorbed with the affairs of her tangible world 
And the ways of being in it 
Versus who she really was meant to be and seen to be 
By the invisible world where she encountered the Jabberwocky.

She spent most of her time
Being too big or too small
Being told who she should be and where she should go by the wrong ones
And the 'right' ones
And she is just a character
She is not even real.

But we act like her far too often
On the heels of rejection
We find our muchness again
And we find it within God's great love.

And the broad spaces and high pastures to which He leads us spiritually
Are far more real and exceedingly vital than the world that shifts our focus by what we readily see

God gives us His best gifts
On the heels of rejection
Teaches us the only acceptance worth having is His
Leads us to others who will love us
And helps us have the courage to be all of ourselves again

Because our wounded hearts cannot imagine that there would be anyone for Alice outside Underland and the Mad Hatter to love her deeply for all that she is and more,
We write our own painful stories in the form of interior monologues that criticize ourselves to the extent 
We believe we're not worthy of receiving true love 
So we choose independence instead and carry around lesser gifts. 

And that is the single worst thing we ever do:
Try to make it on our own 

So God sends us a series of someones
In the here and now
if we will let Him
He sends us the kind of good people who bring out the best in us
Even if it first gets tense for a time
As we find ourselves experiencing new birth again of a different kind than salvation--
less important than the saving of our souls--
But essential in enabling us to love others better
As we fully trust Him and learn to re-love ourselves.

We learn to inhale and exhale 
God's grace

Just like that
"Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles"
Our hearts become whole again
We're unwrapping His best gifts

Like the best school lunches
You know the ones 
where someone leaves you a note 
Reminding you that they love you--
Our beautiful feast for the taking, remaking--
If we only believe the gift is ours
And no mistake
Because God wrote our name upon it
With the same love that engraves our names, bold and beautiful, 
on the palms of His hands.

And unlike Alice 
It is no fantasy 
For we find we are falling in love
First and foremost with God
Who makes us more than enough
Then with others sent to love us with His love long the way

And if we'll believe and receive it--
though the moment may unexpectedly come-
With God's special someone created for us--
As we receive His best romance,
best choice for us.

For love is always a choice

And when our choice is His choice
That can only mean one thing:
That we will be okay, come what may,
Because Jesus is the center of our joy.

His love will forever stay and help us,
not only in loving, being loved by Him and our special someone 
but also in
Loving ourselves 
past our past--
Finding our muchness in Him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Link to "My Heart's Cry"

Link to "Here"

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, No...Yes, Yes, Yes...

Remember that game of Duck, Duck, Goose that some of us played as kids?

I tried to imitate that rhythm in the title of my blog this morning.

What if we pictured it more like our response to God, when in a long series of yesses, He imposes a no?

There are times that we get up and run, and we don't have a smile on our face. We run through frowns; we run through tears. We run through pain; we run through fears. We want to chase God down and beg Him to reverse it, and while we are doing it, what we really want is to chase the answer that we wanted instead. Some of us even run away from God for a time; we don't want to play His game anymore. Hopefully, we find our way back and return to His loving arms.

Except for the fact that chasing after God is always better than the alternative, it is also important to consider why we are chasing Him.

Anyone need a spiritual Band-aid right now, as I do? James always brings it home again. 

But do you hear what He is saying with those verses? I know little "he" James penned the words, but he was under the inspiration of the big "He" the Holy Spirit. He is saying: God is still love, even in the No's.

Let that piece sink in.

God is not playing games with us. He does not play peek-a-boo with His mercy (now you see it; now you don't) no matter what it feels like. He is answering our prayers at every moment with His very best yes, even when they come disguised as a No. 

God only tells us No when He knows that's the path to His very best. It's our reaction to His No when we forget this fact that make our journeys feel a lot more like punishment. Even when God  disciplines us, though, He is still saying, "I love you this much. I can't let who you want to be for an instant ruin who I have made you to be for eternity. Return to my love, and don't trust your heart. 

"Trust what my Spirit will say to your spirit when you get still and know I am God."

" It's going to be alright, if you will turn and be saved, despite the pain."

I know it's a painful process whenever we realize that we're in the wrong, and we need to change. Can I tell you, though, the pain is temporary, and the rewards are eternal and eternally worth it!!

If you feel God is leading you down a path of correction, do not turn away. Hear the love in His voice as He turns you around....

But I can already hear a sweet one's small voice saying, "What if I have accepted His No from day one? What if I have not sinned? What if I am just hurting, because I can't see the grace in His response, though I am committed to trusting and serving Him still?"

I hear your jagged heartbeat, my friend. I know it feels like your heart has swallowed broken glass, and you wonder if that means God doesn't love you as much as someone else/as much as He used to or maybe doesn't love you at all anymore."

I know you know it's irrational to feel that way, do not want to feel that way, are committed to pressing through, no matter what comes your way. I also know you need an encouragement for the times when nothing sinful has brought brokenness to your heart, and you have been combing this blog for your story like your other devotionals. I am trusting these truths will be yours in due season, just as God once wrote them on my heart, so I could be healed and could encourage you today (2 Cor. 1:3-5) I even know you'll look those verses up without having them printed for you below--because you are determined to get through this disappointment the right way, and God is working it all out for you.

 This is what He gave me the last time I was in the spot you're now in.

I still keep these words on my bedroom wall to remind me that God's love is that strong.

Do you know who wrote them? Jeremiah, the weeping prophet.

Jeremiah did not willfully sin and served God faithfully, but he was serving God at a time in ancient Israel's history where few wanted to live as faithfully as he did. He went through a lot. Most of it was unfair treatment at the hands of those who should have embraced his messages from The Lord. At one point, he writes a long message to the King of Israel, per God's request. The King hates it, and rips it up!!!! As a writer, I can tell you that would throw my Holy Ghost out of whack. It's one thing when the critics tear up my words, but to know someone tore up what I wrote them from The Lord. Jeremiah is more sanctified than me, because he got over it and even rewrote it when God asked him to rewrote it again. What broke down Jeremiah temporarily, besides his community's refusal to repent and knowing God's punishment was coming upon his nation, was the day he found himself actually thrown into a deep well by his critics. The well wasn't full of water, but the message was as clear as day that they were leaving him for dead. Jeremiah was literally in the pits. But God didn't forget about Jeremiah. He saw that happen, and He sent deliverance through a man that no one thought was a man anymore. At the right time, when he could slip away unnoticed, an eunuch found an opportune time to find Jeremiah and brought the only materials available to use as ropes. I'll let you do your own Bible study on that part, but just know it is the same reference as the filthy rags God describes as our righteousness. You have to really trust God to write te verse Jeremiah wrote after having an experience like that after you temporarily thought God might have forgotten you when the mob came to throw you in a well.

I am glad most of us will not have to live that exact experience to absorb the vitamin-like truths God wants to us to strengthen our faith and our hearts.

In the end, no matter which side of the No reactions we are on, God is after the same result. In the midst of making us saints, He is also making us eagles and hinds (deer) to get us there.

Is God trusting you with a No? In the middle of a 1,001 yesses, are you dumbstruck by the negative answer you've received? Keep flying north, my friend. It is so worth it, and you'll never walk or fly alone, when you choose to walk it out with the Lord and believe that only Someone who knows you best and loved You more than anyone loves you enough to lead you faithfully to His best yes. He is enlarging your heart to receive things you could never grasp at this time; so incredible, they will be. He is loving you every step of the way; yes, my friend, He is :)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Good Grief

"It's the times when nothing could grow
That everything did."*

Good grief
Never begins
Better than the grief-free days
Preceding it

Like a shrouded lake mist
In Autumn
It encircles one swiftly  
From every side

Obscuring clear vistas
Blue skies
Touching every part of you
Making you wonder what good could this do?

Good grief

Begins badly

Like the scratch on one's window
In winter
 icicled branches
Of fear, doubt, and pain
Sans the dreamscape
That had once embraced sleepers and comforted them

Good grief
Feels like the rivers
That bad grief brings, too,
One's eyes hold on riven tears, broken, 
Once dammed
For one's heart strings
Have been severed
For new points of view

good grief
gets still better
Its beginning is worse;
Its ending, sublime

Not for what is lost
But what is gained beyond the losing.

It's the handwriting you see on the wall
And forgive.


And that is the reason
Good grief is His gift.


It's the crocus's very first sprout out
of ice, through the snow, into air

That's faith rising

It's the snow melt after winter
When you find that you can sing again.

It's knowing when all seemed so dark, so endless
You were never alone nor forgotten 

It's His strength and courage found deep down
inside you
When you knew you'd outspent all your you.

Good grief,

All this


Once redeemed


It is well.

Copyright 2015 Angela M. Byrd

*Joan Bauer, Keynote, NCTE/ALAN Conference, San Francisco, November 2003.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

By Joy

So fitting my last post anticipated what I could not
How this day would come and its breaking away
Caused by change.

I could not foresee then how the breaking away would break me
Into joyful awe at the grace of it
The right feel of it

When it came down right to it

It was right I should leave
And let them go on their way

And the wonder-filled grace
of a quickly healed pain

Left me tugging on clock hands
wanting time still
just to linger
with a joy I can't let go
and must greet
tomorrow's new day
full faith believing
that this joy will not outpace me
but keep embracing my heart;
it will not leave me as oft forgotten dreams do

There is an aching
as a growing pain

and my heart finds its courage
to consider
I might find sweet love

Copyright 2014 Angela M. Byrd