Cycle of Sabotage

At the very least, I did not want to be the instigator.


I hadn’t really ever noticed it before, but now it was really starting to bug me.

I looked at the text in my hand, and noticed how she had phrased it. I laid my phone down and pulled out of the parking lot, still puzzled by what I suddenly wanted to say, and how strong it was. I waited at the red light, turn signal blinking.

I knew I was hearing the Father, and I knew I needed to say something.

Suddenly, I saw something else in my own life I had never seen before. A roadblock I had always felt but never understood.

In the past, when my heart saw something standing in the life of another that concerned me,
something I wanted to call out and speak to,

I would freeze. Spirals of insecurity would start twisting inside of me.

I would ponder for weeks, stewing. I was immobilized by fear that I would get it wrong. Sometimes I would go to others with my concern, trying to validate myself by building an mental army of mutual opinion.

Before I had begun, I was convinced it would end poorly. I guess I was convinced I was the first person in history for which His grace was too small. Eyeroll.

Sometimes I would be too full of judgment to see the root of the thing, too caught up in the storm of their life to see the fragile part of them that needed His love in me, stripped of its prejudice and gently offered.

He offered me things of His Spirit, and my flesh blinded me.

To be honest, there was a time that a delay between my impulses and my actions became necessary. I had a sharp tongue and an arrogant heart, and I once tried to merge them with my sonship.  It was a car crash. So for a time, my patient Father trained me with silence and fire and terrible inner combat.

But that time is over—it ended when I met Love—but I did not renew my mind and became stuck. He faithfully resurrected my identity like a phoenix, trained me in humility and compassion, and most importantly, taught me to love people. The time came to try again and I flinched, afraid to hurt people I now loved. The risk seemed too great.

My heart was now soft but the walk of love was incomplete, lacking the power and fruit His reality and identity in me would bring to it.

This cycle has sabotaged my identity a million times. I have swallowed my tongue and choked on its bread, manna that spoiled because I did not serve it. It sours in my belly, stealing from me what it would have provided to another.

Mark tried to tell me.  He’s modeled it with me over and over. When you truly love someone with the Father’s heart, love makes way for the thing you need to say. Grace meets you there. Holy Spirit Himself does the work.

But because I knew the storm of flesh and struggle such encounters have sometimes caused in me, I wanted to spare others that process, or at the very least, I did not want to be the instigator. I avoided dealing in the Love that has transformed me by contending for me, when it did not spare the pain I needed to walk through.

So here I sat at the red light, suddenly truly seeing the wall I kept investing in. I knew Love well enough, and trusted my own heart enough, to see myself at the roadblock. I could turn to the side, ponder this thing longer, stew over it with frustration and angst, push it to the side of my mind and ignore it with any number of the distraction techniques I have mastered,

Or I could look straight ahead, into and through the eyes of my Father and ask, Why is this coming to me now, and what is in my heart to do with it?

Imagine letting our Author help us turn the page.

The light turned green and I hit the gas, turning right down Main Street, posing this question in my spirit to my Father. Like a huge morning sky, my heart filled with love, such deep love. I no longer feared delivery, motive and failure.

In fact, I didn’t see myself at all. I saw how more freedom and power could be opened up to someone I love so much.

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Eph 4:15-16)

I now ached to go to her, to share what I was seeing, gently and openly, without concrete declarations that left her out of her own story. I wanted to offer my identity to another, to show up for His body, to be the piece I am–not for me, but for my whole Jesus family. I saw how my words could cause her to feel seen and deeply loved.

And she is.

A Stage and A Seat

The applause dies down as I take my place, facing down the warped thing that looks like me
but sounds like death.

She wore a dress that costs more than my student loans.
He owns five properties free-and-clear, and I’m underwater on my house.
They said it only costs $30 a month, and I wanted to slap someone.

I hang my shoulders, turn my pockets out and make a pitiful face.
I feel small, and I hate feeling small.

In an effort to feel better, I think like a fool,
and I believe what I think.
I step onto a stage, and deliver my speech:

“Here, let me criticize your wealth.

Especially when you have more money than I do.
Somehow my poverty is holier than your success.

I detest your joy and I resent your adventures.
I fear and yet long for your freedom.
I hate how it makes me feel, to see you live how I do not.
I don’t see your work or the cost you paid, only thornless roses.”

My heart delivers this speech blisteringly
with eloquence, with cadence,
like a player on a stage delivering his monologue
to an audience of the destitute.
There is a weird, tarred blackness in my throat.

“Therefore, I will stand in gross judgment,
chest puffed with empty wind,
pointing a finger of ignorance and entitlement.
That you would live like I cannot offends me.

That you would make me feel like this means
you must be cruel and oppressive
and I am the defenseless victim of your success.

That you do not politely sink to the level of my comfort
makes me angry!”

I give a deep bow with feigned humility to thunderous applause.
My defeat is neatly delivered in indignant self-pity.

But the scene is not done.

As though a twin of myself,
I walk onto the stage from the left.
Stepping up five golden steps,
I take the elevated seat.

The applause dies down as I take my place,
facing down the warped thing that looks like me
but sounds like death.

The place is silent and slowly,
water begins to trickle from my chest.
The Seated Me begins, more by faith than feeling,
Quietly, but without hitch.

“Indeed, the voice of a queen will reset this place,
for it is buried in death and twisted in lies.”

The ground trembles a little as authority secures it.
The trickle flows a little faster, and the front of my dress is covered in light.

“I call up the divine, powerful blueprint from His heart in me,
the seed that knows I am worthy, capable and purposed.

Why have I decided to malign the one I could be learning from?

When did I cease to believe in my own capacity to build, to earn, to succeed?

When did I hold sure-things and safety closer to me than wisdom and failure?
Has not failure been my great teacher?

Is my Father, the Might of All Creativity, so small in me,
that His inspiration is so drowned by an orphan’s whimper?
Does not everything of Him belong to us?”

The water is flowing quickly now, down across the stage and onto the feet of the crowd.
It rises quickly.
Everything it touches is as though black mud dissolved into gold.
Sinews glisten and black eyes turn to blue crystal.
Hearts begin to pound like a drum,

and one voice becomes many,
so powerful that the walls of the theatre evaporate.
We start to echo, like a wind.

“Here, we see feet and hands!
We see eyes and mind and courage!”

There is a great rumble.

“Here, feet, flex and stand and climb!
Here, hands, pick up and lift and carry!
Here, eyes, see open doors!
Here, mind, think with wisdom, freedom and power!

Here, let us build the tangible and the intangible.

Let us be filled with honor for every weight. Let us encourage and respect the bearers!

Water pours out of us all,
and we cover the earth.

Here–here, let us build together! The Might of All Creativity is alive. Here, He is in us after all!”

More of us need to sit on our golden seat and take back the territory inside our own minds.

This one’s for my brothers.

My brothers have been instrumental in helping me discover my place as my Father’s daughter.

I grew up with sisters. I didn’t even have many male friends growing up. But in the last five years or so, I have somehow collected a huge assortment of brothers.

I have smart brothers and goofy brothers. I have philosophers, teddy bears and gladiators. I have visionaries, rock stars, fathers, geeks and globetrotters. Some of them make me laugh so hard that life has become much less serious. I have one brother so tall that when he hugs me, my arms go around his waist like a literal kid sister. Another one of my brothers always seems to show up at my shoulder right when I need him. Every time, no fail, there he is.

Like a kid sister, time in a circle of my brothers does something inside me that has changed me. Some of them push me past my comfort zone or mock when my girlishness is obviously hypocritical. Some of them literally carry me as part of their heart. Some laugh at my over-emotional processing, roll their eyes at my long writings, are sometimes deliberately gross, and push my buttons just because they know where they are.

But at least once a month, I’m overwhelmed when I think about them: Jesus, thank you for all my brothers.

See, here’s the thing. My brothers, in all their variety and style, brought a lot of fullness and dimension to my life. For all their torment, they also really love me. They listen to me, value me, and fiercely protect me. They are bad-ass and they’re puddles. They trust me enough to lower their shields and let me see, really see, their soft gooey centers. They sharpen their swords at my side, never reducing me or condescending to me.

I’m telling you, my brothers have been instrumental in helping me discover my place as my Father’s daughter. My brothers are the steel His love is built of. They lay a foundation of authority and strength to every single thing I do.

But sometimes I see how hard it is for them to be strong in a world that wants them to be feminine. All too often, I see their power rejected and their authority shamed. They are constantly doing battle with judgments that they’re despots, misogynists or dispassionate. Any time they want to rein in drama, mete out justice or reset cultures, they are charged. When they want to do war, they are criticized that their swords are too sharp. I’ve seen their command resented and their discipline ignored, hamstrung at every turn by society’s broken understanding of masculinity.

That’s hard for them, when they really just need someone to believe in them and tell them to get in the ring and land some punches.

Mixed metaphor aside, I’m ready to see more of my brothers bloodied from war without the steady whine that they be diplomats. I’m ready for us to give them some room to truly rise up well, without cutting them down every time they fail. I’m ready for them to fight, to roar from their chests. I want to see Jesus enter the room in their strong shoulders and righteous hearts. I’m ready to see the shadow of evil fade in their light. I’m ready to see them walking home from the field with their spirits fully alive and flying. I’m ready to see what comes out of them when we actually trust them, fighting with them instead of resisting them.

This weekend, a friend of mine prophesied over the men among us and I felt these words: prime the pump.

And so I close with this, for my brothers, and I’m almost begging: Prime the pump. I really need to hear more of you. When you speak, when you take your place, when you fearlessly stand, when you hold your throne, it empowers us. It gives me open opportunity for my femininity. Your power in the Father is important and we need it. It is critical.

I realize you’re maybe out of practice, unsure what that looks like, or afraid of the cost, but let me be frank: too bad. We need the kings. The queens need you. I need you, and sisters get to be bossy. What first comes out of you might be rough or ugly, but what will come after is worth that practice. Prime the pump. Open up and let your power flow out. Take your places.

Don’t wait for permission any more. Don’t wait for invitation or to be nominated. I really can’t wait to see what it looks like. I really can’t wait for you to see how important you are, to understand how strong you make us, how much security and power you give us.

I love you a whole lot. Thanks for being my brothers. My brothers are mighty kings, in the light of the King. (And I trust you.)

Aly and the Half-Truth

Aly stood there, entrenched in her story. I looked at her, feeling the cool strength of my resolve engage her. “This is not the whole truth,” I said.  And then, honestly, I sent her upstairs for a shower because I needed a hot minute to think.

When Nick and I first became parents, we were given a piece of sound advice: There are two pillars in parenting: first-time obedience, and honesty. Start early and allow no grey areas: your children are to respond to your first instruction, and they are to tell you the truth. 

And it didn’t take long for us to realize how high a standard that wise soul had offered us.  We were stunned how quickly we had to engage little people–toddlers!–to contend against cute ignorance.

Over time, we identified a few other issues that we treat with the same sobriety….  But obedience and honesty are two of the strings we seem to have to play with frustrating consistency. Just when we think we’ve laid that foundation firmly, a crack appears and we feel like we begin all over.

Like all people, all three of our children express themselves differently, value different things, and struggle with different challenges.

Aly struggles to tell the whole truth. Over time, I realized she just really wanted me to be happy with her, and so withheld details she felt might trigger hard conversations. I experimented with softer approaches (wondering if I had been too hard on her at some point) but still, the problem was ongoing— Aly was telling half-truths, or omitting telling me anything she felt I might not want to hear (which, for our family, is a lie in a different color).

When I watched the same thing happen at a school event with one of her friends, I realized it wasn’t about me. Aly preferred to write her version of events–omitting any personal failure or embarrassment.

Our number one goal with Aly–really, with all our kids–is relationship. It is key to everything. Her ability to communicate the unfiltered details of her heart will safeguard her and strengthen her against some of the things girls so easily succumb to. It allows her daddy and me to build her well, minister to her intimately, to guide her thoughtfully, and call her up. It makes it possible for us to truly know her. Without training up in her a heart that tells the full truth, a part of her would always be unreachable.

For us, that’s a dealbreaker.

So when Aly told me her third half-truth in as many days, I recognized a troubling trend: Aly was hiding. She was calculating what she said and measuring to me whatever parts of the truth she thought I’d believe or celebrate. These omissions weren’t serious, but it wasn’t the facts I was after–it was her heart, and I saw fear trying to teach her survival skills.

Aly stood there, entrenched in her story. I looked at her, feeling the cool strength of my resolve engage her. “This is not the whole truth,” I said.  And then, honestly, I sent her upstairs for a shower because I needed a hot minute to think.

I spent most of that time cleaning the kitchen and pondering: what does Jesus do when I lie? What happens when I try to sell Him half the truth?  I knew that answer would inform my parenting.

Any time a lie–even a partial one–gets between me and Jesus, I feel Him get very serious, and I sense a righteous grief. He is patient but gets closer–and movement stops, in a full, ominous expression of love that is ready for war. I have been to the edge of his grace, where it turns into full-blown discipline. When a lie gets between me and Jesus, He stands really tall and reminds me Who He is, jaw angled and chest high. He is the Truth. Anything in me that is not in Him is brought into repentance, or into rebellion–into life, or into death.

The way Jesus has responded to lies in me is one of the reasons I know what it is to fear Him. He subdues lies like David subdued enemies. There is no storm like when Jesus overcomes a lie. I knew my response to lies needed to be weighty, because they are so deadly. But also, I still didn’t know what to do or say.

Aly took her time upstairs, and finally came down, quietly murmuring the part she was most interested in: “Mommy, what is my punishment?”

I took a seat on my kitchen stool and she faced me, pulling spaghetti strands off her dinner plate. I took a leap, feeling totally inadequate, really needing Holy Spirit to meet me where my heart intersected with my mouth.

“Aly, I feel like I need to tell you a story.

Aly looked confused, resenting any delay between this moment and clarity on what her consequence would be.

“In the bible, there’s a story about Ananias and Sapphira. They lived after Jesus returned to God. At that time, the Holy Spirit and the unity of the believers was so strong that they were really passionate about taking care of each other. Jesus’ love in them was really strong. They were even selling things and bringing the money to the apostles.

“Ananias and Sapphira had land, and they sold it. I don’t remember how much they got, but let’s say it was $5,000. (Her eyes grew wide.)  They decided to keep some of the money for themselves. So they took $4,000 to the apostles, and kept $1,000 of the money.

“When Ananias took the money to the apostles, they asked him Is this the full price for the land you sold? and he said it was. (Aly immediately disapproved–they were lying!) Peter had the Holy Spirit in his heart and knew Ananias was lying to him.

“He asked him: What has happened in your heart that you would lie to the Holy Spirit?  And Aly, right there, the Holy Spirit struck down Ananias and he died. And they carried him out.”

I continued with the story, scraping it clumsily from memory. I was pretty sure I was missing pieces, but I just trusted the Spirit. I hadn’t planned to tell this story, but it had just come up and out of me. So I kept going…

“Sapphira came in, and did not know Ananias was dead. The apostles asked her the same question: Is this the full price of the land you sold? and she also said it was. But Peter had the Holy Spirit and he knew her lie. He asked her the same question: What has happened in your heart that you would lie to the Holy Spirit?  And the Holy Spirit struck her down too. Men carried her dead body out and buried her.”

Aly drew close and settled at my feet.

“Aly, I have told you from the day you were born that you are very important. I believe your generation and my generation is really important! I believe Jesus is coming back, that we are going to see His face. I know the Holy Spirit is in you. Remember how I am often asking what you see and feel and dream? The songs that come out of you, the pictures you draw, the things you see and feel–Aly–you are really important!  Jesus is coming back–in us!”

Tears sprang to her eyes and I knew the Spirit was laying upon us both. I was suddenly fully examining my own heart, all over again, as I spoke, convicted toward my own holiness as I contended for my precious daughter.

“That’s why our standard is so high. And we aren’t perfect, and we’re learning. Aly you are strong, and smart, and pure, and holy. You are a truth-teller. You are brave. You are kind enough to be honest. The truth is the only way that the Holy Spirit communicates. Jesus IS the truth; we must be people of the truth. We can’t be really close to Jesus, to be intimate with His Spirit, when we have lies in our hearts. Even half-lies. They’ll make us weak and feed the fear we feel. But Jesus makes us wise with the truth.

“You are surrounded by people who probably don’t think much about telling half the truth. At school, I’ll bet you get used to hearing half the truth, or playing games about lies. And I understand. It is hard to tell the whole truth when you’re afraid. You worry how others might respond, or if they’ll be mean or misunderstand you. The world likes half-truths. But Aly, in our home, we are people of the truth. You are a lady of truth.

“Lies in us are death. That isn’t how Jesus wants our hearts to be. He came so we’d have life in us that never ever ends. Lies tie us up inside. The truth makes us free inside.

“Daddy and I love you. Jesus loves you. Feed on that love and let it make you brave enough to tell the truth, even when you’re afraid.”

She began crying softly. It was just so precious as Jesus met us there, mother and daughter, in His sanctuary, in our kitchen, in our hearts, in His Spirit.

I urged her, “Dear, do not cry. This is a talk of love and hope. It’s because you are so important that I cannot allow you to lie. Mommy’s job is to help make sure that everything inside of you is revealed. I will fight for you in this. We will do this together. It’s that important. You are that important. Our family is that important!”


She’ll need that lesson again. We both will. In a different form, with varying measures of gentleness and wrath. This one is hard for Aly and I understand, because I’m not much different from her in many ways. But Jesus is returning. THAT IS REAL. Father, help us make every stride we can in ensuring our hearts are strong and mighty thrones for His reality.

And if there are lies alive in us, the Truth Himself can only ever be to us as a dark mirror.  No!  Truth is a person..soon we shall see face-to-face!


Un-ironically—family is the solution. But you will have to be willing to step out on the water, to allow family to be for you what you have maybe not yet trusted it to be.

This was written with my church family from WHO in mind–but you’re welcome to peak in on my love letters. Whomever reads, I pray healing and courage result. – DRH

Lately I’ve been feeling a conviction that I want to share with you.

For several years at WHO, we’ve been practicing with each other, in every sense of the word, what it means to be God’s family. What it means to be home with the Father in our spirits, as well as home with one another. Figuring out what it means to have open hearts. If you’ve been around a while, you know we have learned a lot, and we get a lot of things right.

And I celebrate every advancement we take in Him in us, because He is so good and so full and rich. He’s the whole point. What He has done with our beginnings is nothing short of miraculous–akin to changing water into wine. We are His glory, in every sense.

But we are literally practicing, and learning….and we’re sort of always in some state of progress…  allowing the Father’s ideas about love and family to override our former, imperfect biases and broken experiences. We’re rough sometimes. We’re not always good at what we say we’re after, and we each have blind spots. We have identities that are being exhumed and insecurities that sometimes take a while to walk away from.

Long story short: sometimes it’s painfully clear we’re practicing—and are not yet in mastery—of what we see He’s after. Our flaws show. And that’s OK. It has to be—His grace is made for these gaps, and frankly, His strength and love shine in these places. Our imperfect is the showcase for His perfect.

But sometimes…  sigh.

Sometimes our shortcomings in being family together are more painful–or less palatable– than we’ve had to endure before, and it hurts more than we ever expected. Love always does. The ideal meets the playing field and scores as many fouls as points.

It can be tough to remember to cover one another in love when we feel victimized by a lack of it. We face disappointment and are brought to pressure points that we usually avoid. Typically, these things include a need for confrontation, a feeling of rejection, or other relational crimes…  things we formerly felt the freedom to subtlely distance ourselves from.

When we encounter these things in other areas of our lives, we complain, and just casually stop engaging.

But in the family culture, engagement is everything. We know we shouldn’t “leave” (meaning, tune out)—and truly, we don’t mean to. However, we also feel clueless on how to bridge the gap we’re facing (and the gap, unaddressed, becomes distance.)

We’re in pain—or we’re confused—or we’re angry—and we stand there, sort of at a loss on what to do next. We don’t know how to “holy it up” to say it right. We don’t want to come off rude. Sometimes a wall goes up, purely by instinct. We judge, we mope, or we click into survival mode in the very place where we are called to thrive. Forward progress stops.

This is where I sense some of us are, and there is where I feel we need to come together in prayer.

I feel the hard work of practicing family has left some of us with unforgiven disappointment that has begun to transition into disillusionment.

This disillusionment—a hopeless, guarded cynicism about something you previously found valuable—is very dangerous to your heart and identity. It will fuel distance, empower victimized thinking, validate gossip and—most tragically—allow you to justify a domino-effect of unjust offenses or poor decisions. It will steal your freedom, and make it very hard to hear the Father accurately. In this place, faith literally starves to death.

This is completely avoidable, and un-ironically—family is the solution. But you will have to be willing to step out on the water, to allow family to be for you what you have maybe not yet trusted it to be.

You need to open up, and say what’s going on inside. When we say open up, we mean it. We know it won’t always sound good, be eloquent or even make sense. Choose your moment, your audience, and your spirit well. But you need to open, without attack, and lay all the poison that’s been swirling around inside to vomit out on the Father’s Table before you—before us. Submitting yourself to us, in Him. Remember, we’re all sitting here in Him together, practicing, learning, bringing each other to perfection. So you need to let it come out,

and trust us to meet you there.

You can’t go to your room in the Father’s metaphorical house, behind a soundly closed door, and argue that you’re in the house, just not at the table. That’s silly. There’s a feast going on here, and you have a seat at the table.

*Straight talk warning* Also, hiding in your room is a form of tantrum–and eventually, mature sons have to grow out of the idea that someone should come and appease them. You have been entrusted with every necessary ingredient of restoration. Be strong, take courage, and use them!)

It is not OK to be silent in this place, at least not long term. It is good, for a time, to wisely weigh the things you’re thinking and feeling and ask the Father to help you… To expand your love, your grace for others, your freedom in forgiveness, as well as unselfishness to see the full picture.

Ask for help to lay aside whatever expectations or fears you might have about how you’re received. We probably won’t validate everything you say or agree with everything you feel. It we did that, we’d be operating outside our identities, bringing temporary comfort but no lasting brotherhood.

Being your family takes as much courage for us as is does for you to trust us to BE your family. (That sentence is a doozy–sorry. Basically, we’re all learning courage in being exactly who we are.)

There might be a small moment or two of angst. There might be a hot word or a spat. Someone might cry, or need a little time to process. But no one is going to run. No one is going to leave, or give up. What’s happening in you has almost definitely happened, on some level, inside of us too.

Our promise to you is—if you want—to help you build the bridge and take the climb to step out of this particular cave on our way up the mountain.

I really feel we need to pray together: pray about disillusionment. Pray for healing from whatever idol we once built about the idea of family that has been torn down as we’ve actually bravely begun to WALK OUT the real heavenly Family of God.

Pray that the Father Himself wins inside each heart, that mercy and humility and unity overcome, and that peace and rest can reign in places that right now are anything but calm.

Our family is strong because it is literally BUILT and SUSTAINED by the person of Jesus, revealed in our practice and ever-deepening maturity. Let’s give each other room, let’s commit to communicate, and let’s each hold our own part of things.

I believe in what He’s doing. I always will.

Like Vampires in the Sun

Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who isn’t in the room?

Like, you’re engaging them in your head,
sparing and defending
projecting their responses
through your own judgments and grudges,
entertaining the fantasy that they are entirely wrong
and you are entirely right.

I do that a lot.
Not on purpose.
It just happens when I let my mind drift.

I can always tell what’s really going on inside of me
if I’m arguing with someone in my head.

I hear their imagined words in my head
arguments spawned out of my heartache
and I answer them audibly
over my steering wheel
over my dishes.

Often my kids say,
“Mama, who are you talking to?”
And I say, “myself.”

I lie, and I tell the truth.

In that moment,
I am always full of confusion and heartache.

Paul calls these moments logismos:
vain imaginations
They are the bitter bricks that strongholds and fortresses are made of.

Speculations are castles of strongholds we build when we mate with a lie.

I have built entire cities in my heart before I even realized I had picked up the first stone.

Without mincing words,
meek Paul is unflinchingly strong
that vain imaginations must be destroyed.

They are contrary to the Spirit,
stealing and wielding and dividing
Piling layers of fat and sluggishness
on my precious and perfect spirit.

I knew all my vain imaginations merely reflected
where I did not yet know His realness,
did not yet trust others,
or did not trust myself.

Daughters well-seated in Home do not prefer imagined conversations to real ones.

So I have been brokenly tearing these things down
over and over and over
opening my naked heart, quivering and shaky and standing and learning and failing and sometimes winning.

I’m making it sound like work I’ve been doing, but truly,
Jesus has been doing it.
My entire effort has been stay-open-and-do-not-run.

When I catch myself arguing
with the imagined and invisible,
I repent immediately,
turn myself to Jesus and say,
“Ok. This is You and me.

“Let’s tear this stronghold down.
Remind me about this precious person
and expand Your love in me for them.
Source me in this.
Show me where You are in this.
Discipline me; search me.
Help me test my emotions and affix to You as truth.
I hide nothing. I am afraid of no one.
I am beautiful and loved and highly valued.
This is You and me. Let’s talk.”

And in some places
I’ve been experiencing extraordinary freedom,
a clear, strong gentleness.

I can not overstate the deep, abiding steadiness and fearlessness.

and yet, some parts of me…
they simply will not submit.

I have been laying them open to the light,
waiting for them to burn to ash like vampires in the sun.
Waiting to be loved, reproved, and rebuilt.
Waiting to be told where I was wrong, where I had faltered, what needed fixing

so that I could heal. (read: so I could stop hurting)

I think I thought that if I could just get them to Jesus,
if I could just get these things to Him,
they’d come into context and lose their bite.

But instead of burning dry and floating away,
I instead seemed to be like a miner
slicing through black ore
and hitting solid rock.

The hammer clanged and recoiled.

And I could not figure out why these things
these firm unyielding darknesses
these things embedded in me
would not yield to Jesus.

If anything, they became unspeakably more pronounced,
seemingly immune to death.

I’ll be honest.
I begged for their destruction.
I rejected them.

But they refused to die.
They stand here even now in me,
constructed of something that absolutely will not consent
to dismissal.

And it dawned in me, What if

what if those things aren’t meant to go?

After years of unreserved drilling,
had I finally begun to hit the core?

What if these things will not die
because they are made of life?

Had I discovered the fortresses of Jesus in me?
Had I finally set my eyes on the foundational aspects of my life?

Had I discovered something I could keep?

I was covered in black mud.
I leaned back and brushed my brow,
breathing hard
leaving streaks across my face.

I peered down, testing and mistrusting
any idea that I would deliberately fail to
tear down my enemy.

But there it was,
peeking through the sediment.
A solid footer of solid gold,
Smeared and grimed but gleaming.

I sat down,
sat back,
and wept.

Prairie Fire

During a series of months of difficulty several years ago, Jesus brought me to this place in my imagination. Very very real to me.

I knew it as a wide sky of eternal twilight,
just after the sun evaporated behind the mountains,
a purple sky freckled with stars.

I could come here anytime.

There was calm sea of waving grass,
low rolling hills by a private sea
where I would go and meet with Him.

In my heart, this was a place of faithfulness,
a place where I could lean my spirit into His.

He was always here, sitting on the dock with His toes dangling,
ready to talk with me. Ready to listen and be my friend.
Ready to open for me His innermost.

Today I didn’t mean to go to that place,
but I closed my eyes and there it was.
Me and Dad’s oasis.

But it almost unrecognizable.

I looked down where grass should have cushioned my feet
and it was black.
No grass, no growth of any kind, not even ash.
Cracked and barren, with hot redness in the gashes.

This place of my deepest intimacy had been slain to wasteland.

He had burned it.

He had taken what was beautiful and precious to me
and set fire.

Except that He was still here,
(I could sense Him),
there was no comfort, no beauty left.
Only a earth so torched that it still glowed beneath.

I wept for a moment.
I looked around and mourned to see this precious place so utterly destroyed.
Such violence could not be love.
Was nothing sacred?

I looked for Him and found Him easily,
sensing His quietness over my left shoulder.
My Rock, my Friend, the Fire-Kindler.

I didn’t ask any questions. I didn’t need to.
I knew what this was.
The heaviness of mourning lay in my chest,
the necessary medallion of suffering
in what Love must do when it’s time to burn the prairie.

He took my hand and we stood there,
silent and together
and entirely at peace.

Wisdom had lit the match.

The fire would redeem a great many things that my eye had missed.
How good He is!
There were parasites, thorns and weeds sneaking a living,
hiding and skimming and stealing.
Brown grass strands in the green,
signaling the hints of dryness and death.
There were old, expired things
mixed foolishly with new, creative courage,
old cynicism stealing power and vigor from the field.

Be the fire hot enough, decay will surrender.

A wide countryside of fresh, perfect growth was dormant
just beneath,
waiting for fire to pave aside a new spring.

He loves this place as much as me.
He burned it to show me just how much He loves to be with me.

Fire is my friend.
The black earth will absorb tomorrow’s sun
and the seeds will germinate again.

Soon, these rolling Spirit hills will frame His precious face
not with soot, but with green.
She’s a prairie, wild and at rest,
Black today
but only today.

Tomorrow comes the green and the purple.
He burned because He knows how bright her colors will be.


The incredible image on this post is an oil painting by Louis Copt, as part of his Prairie Fire series. To see more of his work, click here: