I set out, screen door shutting behind, and hear the crunch-crunch-crunch of wet gravel underneath my running shoes and I can barely get a good breath in.
As I pound along the road, tightened ribs begin to separate and lungs expand and I suck in the oxygen deep like a milk-starved baby.
I throw my head back and look to the pink and purple sunset sky above and just run like that wild like a child.
And it's like in this inhaling, I'm breathing in God and the quietness settles heavy on me and a chorus rises, a symphony swells. And I can hear it all--the frogs in the marsh, birds call off to the east and the west, all around and crickets chirp in the grass my feet breeze past below. And it swells and rises up to meet me, lifts me up in it's crescendoing.
I run past a white-tail deer, leaping and bounding away from me and then the rushing water of the river underneath the bridge. I turn and go back, climb up on the rail, all childish giddiness, peering down into the water, listening to her quiet rhythm, and the flood waters rising, they touch me with their hush.
I run past fields turned marsh with standing flood waters where cows once grazed.
And God said to me, "All these flood waters? They are neck-high because you are drowning in my grace. And that weight that makes you feel you can't breathe? That's my glory. Daughter, your drowning is not without purpose--you're sinking in me."
I let out a cry and it comes out hard in pants as I run.
And God said, "Daughter, do you see the burning bush? And do you see the thundering mountain? I look up and see two dark clouds in the sky, one like a burning bush and one like a mountain.
"Sometimes, child, life's flames have felt too hot, the fire has seemed unquenchable and raging, but what you couldn't see in the consuming fire, was that it was me burning into you. And the mountain has thundered and shaken you. There has been a quaking and everything has toppled down, nothing has felt stable and now life is turned upside down, but sometimes that is the way I move, thundering and shaking. And it's been me all along. Though you searched hard, I've been right with you the whole time.
And God said, "Those trees you see that look as if they are about to slide under the sucking current--what you can't see is that underneath the water, the roots go deep and strong because they've been hit over and over and over by the storm and they know how to hold on."
Then God shows me a giant black hand in the sky and it's pointing to a huge black cloud that resembles a storm and covers a vast area of land. "This is how you've been guided all along," He whispers.
And God says, "Daughter, the whole time you felt I was nowhere to be found, even that I had forsaken you and you thought you were sinking, child--I was holding you up. And you see that joy on your face, do you feel that fierce love you have that covers over an offense? Do you sense new level of grace, that new-found freedom that makes you strong of heart, being firm in who you are in me, yet you are able to be Christ's scarred hands and feet to those who drive the nails in your own hands and feet?--That's my mark on you, daughter, because in the midst of the strorm, when I passed by as a cloud so intimately near, I left my imprint on you. Do you know you have my imprint? You bear my image, my name, my glory, my power, my resurrection life and there is no end to what you can do, child? Did you know?"
"Yes, I've left my imprint on you.
You. look. like. me."
The bats, they swoop low overhead, and look for prey in the night. The night-song rises and speaks to me. I hear God say, "Daughter, it's here in this night, in this groping-along darkness that you'll find your courage, your strength.
And fear won't stop you."
Faith swells and I'm swollen pregnant with this promise here in the dark.
A gift hanging down...
#884 basket of flowers springing back to life with water and sun
#885 having the grace and courage to travel to the seminar alone with all four children...
3 gifts learned...
#885 learning about classical education and how to be a tutor--how the mission and methods resonate with me
#886 the mission--to know God and to make Him known
#887 God revealing to me that the love and training I give as a mother is not soley based upon a list if should nots and ways to keep myself and home under control everyday--this is an inferior idea--the law--but rather, that the love, the good words, the uplifting tones and encouraging expressions, the leading into godly truths and beauty should pour out of my love for God and my desire to bring Him glory--this is a superior idea...this is grace...
#888 sitting on porch with Husband in early Sunday morning cloudy skies, drinking coffee, us talking excitedly about all the things I've learned over the past few days...
3 gifts musical...
#889 hearing "I Can Only Imagine" being played so beautifully, looking around to see where it's coming from, expecting a CD player, and seeing a young boy--a Classical Conversations student--at the piano
#890 fresh inspiration to pick back up piano lessons with the girls myself after our summer break
#891 the Orchestra Song...my trainer divided us into groups and had us to sing the parts, overlapping one another--beautiful.
3 gifts baked...
#892 whole wheat oatmeal-raisin dark cacao chip my girls whipped up
#893 the whole wheat vegan crackers and salt and vinegar roasted chickpeas the girls and I made together for traveling snacks
A gift in light, in dark, in shadow...
#894 Lilly coming out of the room where the toddlers take naps, corn silk hair all askew in afternoon light, sleepy look on her face, raising arms up to Mama
#895 God speaking to me in the dark night as I run
#896 bats flapping and swooping, and I'm not afraid because God has told me that I'm strong in His power, His spirit within
#897 Lilly wearing her puppy blanket on her head--with puppy face and ears on top-- into the church for seminar, following me, her blanket dragging the floor behind her, and all the ladies looking on lovingly
#898 being around some of the most joyous women and well-behaved children with pleasant countenances that I've ever been with
3 gifts in story...
#899 Trinita, our speaker for the parent practicum and her telling of her husband's street ministry, how she almost filed for divorce because he was acting like someone else, and how he began to be ill with seizures, which explained the changes in him, and homeschooling saved their life because her kids were seeing first-hand the gospel of grace and how God works in the lives of those he loves....
#900 learning through Trinita's story that if she can homeschool 4 children, be the caretaker of her husband, help with his ministry, and direct and speak for Classical Conversations--if God has given her the strength for all this--then He can do the same for me--and it's not hopeless
#901 this story... and Amber's blog blesses me...