Monday, October 31, 2011
A Sound Among the Trees
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Those days were long and dark. Hours spent in sorrow. The time I cried from my house to my in-laws, twenty-five miles away. The time I went running from a friend’s house, fumbled for my keys and shook all the way home. In my living room I collapsed in tears.
Over and over it happened.
I would pull myself together, lecture my emotions, fight my sorrow…and end up beaten and bruised and heartbroken.
I can’t tell you how long I hid the truth from myself. The time blends together. Maybe it was a year. Maybe more.
There is one thing I can tell you though. God didn’t leave me there.
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Friday, October 21, 2011
When we first got our cows- milking took all of my mental focus to accomplish.
How to make sure everything in the milk house is ready so the milk goes into the tank and not onto the floor. How to hold the milker-unit just right so it wouldn’t break suction. How to work efficiently enough to make sure there are cows washed and stripped before its time to put the milker on. How to plug everything in. How to tell if a cow has mastitis. How to tell if a cow is ready to freshen. How to stand so that if it kicks, it won’t get you.
The list goes on. I’m sure you understand…there was a lot to learn and remember. At the beginning we had three milking units. Between my husband and me, it took all of our energy to keep up with them.
But things change with time. You learn patterns and efficiency. Things that once took all your focus become second nature.
This morning as I was standing in the middle of the barn, waiting for the [now] four milkers to finish, I thought about how different things are. In between changing units, I get on facebook with my cell phone. I read blogs. I text people or call them. If my husband is around, I have time to talk to him or steal a few kisses. I have time. Time to be and know and connect and think. [To read the rest of this post click here]
Monday, October 17, 2011
[I hear His voice] whispering through every Scripture and into the intimate details of my own daily experience- for it is his life he is breathing into me, and my life he wants to redeem. –Greg Paul
Yes, Lord Jesus. Come speak to us now... redeeming, breathing life. Amen and Amen.
Want to take a mini-walk through Narnia? Visit here.
Need a new perspective on a difficult relationship? Read this.
Don't forget to be praying... for Katie in Uganda.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
It happened the way it always happens. Ever since, well, a long time ago. I walked in, looked around for a familiar face. Searching for the spot where I will feel the most special, the most loved, will laugh the most…
Then the inevitable. “We have a place over here…” And once again I’m led away from the ones who make me feel safe. Once again I’m sitting at a table with people that I don’t know.
I lean over and whisper to my husband, “I hate this…” and he smiles that sad smile. The one that says, “I would change the world to make you happy, but I can’t.” So I sit back and look around and no one smiles and no one says, “Oh! I want you! Come here!” Instead I sit alone.
Then in the midst of my jumbled confusion I hear the voice. The one that I’ve trying to memorize the sound of. An hour each morning and an hour each night, I run my eyes and fingers over the words, listening so hard. Searching for inflection and thoughts.
“Embrace where you are.” He says it quietly and I know that if I hadn’t been working at listening, I would have missed it. But I hear it.
What did I have to lose? So I sat back. Breathed deeply, looked at the lady across the table from me and smiled, entering into a conversation where I felt awkward and insecure.
A few minutes later another woman entered the room. She wasn’t like the women around me who were laughing and telling jokes in private circles. She was alone. And because of a strange set of circumstances, I know some of her inside things. The pain that is trying to strangle her. So I stood and walked and smiled and talked. And for a moment I glimpsed something beautiful.
And it starts a chain reaction. Person to person I move. Talking. Not chatting but real talking. Opening and showing and being. And His voice gets louder and my flesh burns. And I see beauty.
It’s in the girl with the crooked smile who is serving my dinner. The woman across from me who is searching so hard for acceptance. The ladies to my right who lean over to each side of me and cover me in grace. In the tears of a friend who is sharing her heart- right there, in the middle of all these people.
Then the truth hits. It really isn’t any of them. It’s Him. It’s me having my eyes open to Him. And I see His reflection all around.
I look up in time to see the bridegroom sweep his bride off her feet and into his arms. Everyone laughs and cheers.
And I remember times when he was ready to give up- ready to settle for something less than beautiful- and my heart aches at the joy on his face as he looks down at his new wife, the fulfillment of so many dreams. My childhood friend has grown up to be a man worth knowing.
And I remember a time when I was ready to give up. Ready to settle for something less than beautiful. And my heart aches with joy. That my King should be so gracious to me, so loving, so patient… someday, someday, when all this flesh is burned and gone- Oh, God, let the things that are left be worth knowing.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
the blood was thick and deep red. almost purple. my skin crawled. my heart ached. I looked up at the man standing in front of me, the man who had just pronounced death to my Savior. “someday you will realize what you’ve done and you’ll wish you had died in his place.” my voice caught as tears spilled and burned paths down my cheeks.
the crowds grew louder. I turned and looked. he was wearing a purple robe, thorns on his head. his face was bloody and I knew that under the robe his body was beaten and raw. I started running, calling his name. “Abba, my Abba…” I stopped short of throwing my arms around him. I knew it would cause him pain.
he didn’t stop. he drew me close, even as his face contorted in agony.
“I’m sorry, Abba.” I whispered into his neck. “I don’t know what to do. I’m sorry.”
his voice came then. rushing and running like a river. “I’m making all things new. Go, tell them.”
I looked up at his face. he was looking past me toward a field that sat below Golgotha.
I saw them then. hundreds of children playing in the shadow of a cross.
“Tell them, daughter,” he whispered in my ear, “tell my loved ones that I am making all things new.”
I woke up from that dream back in 2004. I was attending Bible School at the time and we had gone as a school to watch The Passion. That night I couldn't sleep even though I had watched the movie with eyes covered. I finally prayed, "God, let me sleep... I need to get up for school tomorrow." And that night I dreamed.
I had found my passion. It might have been a dream but it wasn't just a dream. It was God speaking. And anytime I close my eyes I can see them. The children playing in the shadow of a cross.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Reveal the Hidden Things
I’ve been thinking for weeks now about manna. Yes, the stuff the Israelites ate in the desert for forty years.
It started with a sentence.
Manna today, or I starve. –Ann Voscamp
And for some reason, God began pulling me with those words. What did it mean?
Ann Voscamp explains it as “eating the mystery”, taking whatever it is that God hands you and being thankful for it.
After all, what was it that the Israelites were punished for? Not being grateful. Complaining. Grasping, grabbing for something more- something better. “We want meat!” They whined. So God gave them meat. But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it could be consumed the anger of the Lord burned… and they were struck with a severe plague. Num. 11:33
I began watching for what the Bible says about Manna. Why will we starve without it? What is so important about it that to grasp and grab for something different causes the Lord’s anger to burn? Is it just the character flaw of ungratefulness?
As I watched, the truth began unfolding…
He humbled you… causing you to hunger, then feeding you with Manna--- to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. Exodus 8:3
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32
What is so important about it that to grasp and grab for something different causes the Lord’s anger to burn? Because to grasp and grab for something different- something more- is to turn our backs on God himself. Oh, Lord, forgive me for the times I have reached for something other than you!
It is not just the character flaw of ungratefulness, although that is part, but it is also the lack of trust in God himself. That he knows and he gives and he takes and HE IS GOD.
"Not me. Never me. Never the idols I build in my life. ONLY HIM."
So, I must hold all that I love with open hands. I must place all my dreams at his feet. Knowing that my understanding is so small. So insignificant. I must “eat the mystery” with thankfulness. I must take the Manna today, or I will starve.
Reveal the hidden things I was made to know. Take these mysteries and make them simple. Reveal the hidden things you have for my life. Show me your kingdom, what you’re like. I want to hear the music of heaven. I want to see all your inventions. I want to ask and know the solutions. I want to know. I want to sing the music of heaven. I want to make all your inventions. When I’m asked, I’ll say the solution is to know you. –Laura Woodley Osman “Hidden Things”
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sunlight streams through my window. Beautiful life-giving light. [In that day] they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun for the Lord God will give them light. Rev.22:5
My journal is changing as I’m learning and growing. My Bible is once again staying open on my living room couch so that I can drink of the living water through out my day. I feel like I cannot drink enough. And I love this feeling of thirst. Like God is close and I can touch him and feel him and know him and drink to overflowing. My shoes slip off my feet as my toes touch holy ground. My hands raise to feel the love of the Father rushing and flowing…
Deep calls to deep
In the roar of your waterfalls
All your waves and breakers
Have swept over me… Ps. 42:7
Last weeks Sunday School lesson on Proverbs 3 has been rolling through my mind. The verse I knew so well. One of the hundreds memorized. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
One day it stuck out. Acknowledge Him. Is that not what I have been doing as I fill my journal with lists of blessings? Looking at my life, the good, the bad, the painful, the scary, the beautiful, the glorious… and acknowledging Christ in each part?
23. baby calves that look like deer fawns
28. canned peaches filling shelves
33. fresh apples picked and eaten in fields
39. little boy smiles from the seat of a tractor
51. tiny barn boots lined up by the front door
59. my husband’s name on my caller ID
62. nights of no sleep/ for they remind me
of my weaknesses and my need for His strength
67. beautiful brides
69. twinkle lights in evening shadows
70. rainbows at weddings
82. soft rain that soaks the earth
God in and around and through. I sing for joy at the work of your hands. Ps. 92:4
My mind fills with the stories from Sunday. The baby with three holes in her heart. The little girl with a blood disease. The husband with a possibility of prostrate cancer. The mother mourning her buried son. The wife facing another season of chemotherapy.
And then me. With all my own fears and hurts and sorrows. The fact that it was one year ago that I was pregnant. And in a month it will be one year since I miscarried.
Acknowledge Him. Even in pain. That God is the one who created the little girl with holes in her heart. God is the one who understands the complicated diagnoses of blood disease. It is God who has power over cancer and the outcome is His will. God who took that little boy home before he had really even lived. And it is God who knew that I would never carry that baby for more than a month. And He is okay with it. In fact, He has plans and purposes in it.
And my job is not to understand it (lean not on your own understanding) but to acknowledge Him in it.
To recognize that He is God. Not me. Never me. Never the idols that I create in life. Only Him. The one who says:
I have loved you with an everlasting love… Jer. 31:3
For I am the Lord…who takes hold of your right hand
And says to you, Do not fear, I will help you…Is. 41:13
For I will pour water on the thirsty… Is. 44:3
I long to redeem them…Hosea 7:13
Behold, I am making all things new…Rev. 21:5
Acknowledge that this world is just a moment. A breath. A blink. And pain may last for the night. But the living truth is that joy comes in the morning.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Dry as Rain
Dry as Rain is the story of a marriage that has split in the face of the ultimate betrayal and is suddenly given a second chance to revive.
Eric still loves his wife, even though he has hurt her in the worst of ways. Kyra is done with trying. But then an accident takes away the memory of his betrayal and she is looking at him with love once again. Can he manage to win her heart back? Will he be able to keep it once the truth comes out?
I love the title. Just saying.
This book is decently written. An interesting story line.
I wish that God had a more directly position in the story. But I’m like that.
I got a bit frustrated with the couple and how they interacted. But the truth is that I get frustrated with most couples who mention their marriage problems to me. J So, I take that to mean that this book shows a fairly accurate picture of marriage.
The ending is rewarding. Not forced. Lovely.
I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
The Canary List
By Sigmund Brower
Jamie Piper is a twelve-year-old foster child who is running from something dark. Crockett Grey is a teacher with his own painful past to deal with. But when Jamie comes to him for help, she sets into motion a set of events that could potentially ruin them both. The only hope for them is for Crockett to unravel the mystery of Jamie’s past…before it is too late.
Here’s the other truth: It is dark. Dark. Dark.
This book looks directly at the Catholic church and some of the gory details inside one of the richest most powerful organizations on earth. And it focuses on the presence of Satanism inside the church.
Since the novel took some of its facts from actual historical documents there is a level of fascination. However, the reader is left with feelings of darkness that overpower everything else.
I don’t mind things that address the presence of demons. But I do mind when a “Christian” book looks directly at them but does not show just as clearly the other side of spiritual beings. Satan has power, yes. But there was a cross at Calvary and blood poured out that keeps his power in check. And this novel doesn’t show that. In fact, it leaves one feeling quite helpless in the face of demonic leadership.
There is a quote by C.S. Lewis at the beginning of the book that I wish the author would have taken a bit more seriously.
“There are equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.
One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an
excessive and unhealthy interest in them…”
This book was sent to me by Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The morning light echos across the Oregon sky. Hot chocolate swirls in my cup. My feet are cold. Very cold! My fingers slightly numb. The cup is warm though and I hold it closer. At this moment I feel young again.
"I will praise you as long as I live and in your name I will lift up my hands..."
How often do I raise my hands in worship? Not enough. It's so much easier to blend. To just close my eyes and say, "I praise you, God." And there are times for that. But there are times to proclaim loudly and clearly that HE IS THE ONE I WORSHIP. To take off my shoes. To fall on my knees. To live recklessly abandoned to my magnificent creator.
"My dear children, keep yourselves from idols..."
The words scrawled across the page beside that verse... "Keep yourself from anything that takes God's place in your life..." Oh, God. So many things. My time is filled with stuff and I never look at all these time-filling things as idols. Dirty sinful idols. Oh, Jesus. Set me free.
"And his voice was like the sound of rushing waters..."
I can remember a time when I lived in the place of roaring waters. I want to live there again. God, fill my life with your voice.The wedding yesterday was so pretty. My baby brother with stars in his eyes. Oh, Jesus. Let them serve you above all else! Let their marriage be a reflection of your glory. The pictures turned out darling, despite my worrying. I was right. I can do this. Zeke's faith wasn't misplaced. Soon their apartment will be adorned with photos from the far distance place of Meyers Beach, Oregon and people will look at them who have never seen the Pacific Coast and say, "Oh, what pretty wedding pictures." And I will smile.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
After twenty minutes in the bright sun of the garden we slowly walked toward the house with piles of beans balancing in overflowing baskets. I started water to boil and Lizzy and I sat across from each other as we snapped and tossed.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Billy Graham in Quotes
By Franklin Graham with Donna Lee Toney
I heard Billy Graham speak one time. I was about fourteen. I don’t remember a word he said. (we were in a stadium and it echoed badly, that’s all I can recall!)
I always thought that Billy Graham told the truth about salvation but as for his stand on anything else… it must have been toeing the line because everyone, on all sides and in all faiths, tolerated him.
That was a pretty harsh assessment and completely wrong.
The reason for his good standing with so many must simply be the grace of God in his life because he simply spoke truth.
As I read through his quotes on a plethora of subjects (abortion, the Bible, creation, greed, race, society, success, war, etc…) I was amazed at how directly he confronted the lies that have perpetrated our world.
To give you a little taste:
The issue [of] abortion is not whether you have a
right to terminate the life of a child…
The real issue is whether or not you will insist on running your own life
according to your own standards,
or whether you will instead let God run your life.
As for the book itself, there is no doubt that it would make a lovely addition to any library. The soft cover makes it easy to handle, the sections are clearly marked with an easy-to-use index.
As a writer and Sunday School teacher, I will greatly appreciate the use of this book in years to come!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Never The Bride
By Cheryl McKay & Rene Gutteridge
I have to admit, it is not very often that I pick up a Christian chick-lit novel and anticipate reading it. Usually I am thinking, “Here we go…” The reason is: they’re all the same. The same story. The same situations. Often the same “popular” names used.
When I started reading this novel, I was expecting the “same”. There’s this girl, Jessie, who wants to get married (naturally). And there are eleven bridesmaid dresses hanging in her closet (reminisce of that one movie with all the dresses…?) She has an ex-boyfriend who cheated on her. And, surprise, surprise, a “best friend” that she is secretly in-love with. She’s working at a dead-end job (aren’t they all?) and has a hard time liking blonde girls because they get all the guys.
I would have been bored to tears except that the authors really are funny. And then, once I settled in to a laugh a little… the sameness disappeared.
God shows up. Jessie’s story becomes something new and different because it shows a glimpse into what life would be like if God came walking up to you one day…and asked you to surrender all your dreams, trusting him to write your life story in His way and in His time.
It wasn’t perfectly done. There are some things, like her childhood imaginary friend, that weren’t quite explained enough to make sense.
And I’ll give the authors ten extra points for being original!
If you like chick-lit… this is definitely one to read and pass around. If you don’t like it… give this one a try anyway. J
I received this book in exchange for my honest review through Blogging for Books.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Mornings. Chores. Tired. Garden. Laundry. Meals. Hay. Errands. Chores. Tired. Sleep.
That is pretty much a reflection of my life these days.
Some days I revel in the work. The dirt. The sweat. The feeling of the wind in my hair. The calluses on my hands. The knowledge that I am strong enough to lift twice what the average woman can without even breathing hard. The feeling of accomplishment when I see the milk tank swirling with creamy white milk. The garden blossoming and blooming with vegetables. The line of round bales growing. Thirty. Sixty. A hundred. Only a hundred left to put up before winter.
Then come the other days. The ones when I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. When the thought of hanging out another load of laundry could almost make me cry. The days when Amos can't get in from the fields and I have to face the barn full of cows and know that I'm all alone. The days that I avoid the garden and its weeds. When I turn my back on the sink full of dishes. When I crawl into bed with my eyes closed so I can't see the clothes on the floor.
And on those days I start to crumble.
A day came when I was crumbling. I cried over everything. The morning. The cows. The manure. The flies. The pigs. The laundry. The garden. The dishes. The dirt. The heat. My husband. My friends. The fact that I still wasn't pregnant. The fact that despite all our hard work there wasn't any extra money. The fact that no matter how carefully I planned or worked it seemed that I was always disappointing someone.
I looked around and only saw the ashes of the life I desired.
And I heard clearly through my tears the voice of my Father, reminding me of something he once told a friend of mine. "I would not have promised beauty for ashes, if I wasn't going to burn anything down."
I wrote a song that day. One that has been swirling through my head ever since. His answer. His promise. In the end...
He offers beauty for ashes-- strength for pain. Hope for all who call on His name.
He offers-- to hold all our tears. Clothe us in white-- turn the dark into light.
Yet so often we forget
To get beauty for ashes, something must burn
To get strength for pain, something must hurt
For Him to hold all our tears, we must cry
To turn the dark into light, we have to face a black night
All His promises are true-- He'll do just what He said He'd doBut so many times, in the fire, pain and tears--We hide in the darkness, and cry out in fear
"Where are you, God? Where are you, God?"
And He says...
To get beauty for ashes, something must burn
To get strength for pain, something must hurt
For me to hold all your tears, you must cry
To turn the dark into light- you have to face a black night,
But I promise you,
In the end,
I will make all things new.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I have this problem. As far as I know there isn't a name for it but if I could make one up it would be "Egeovictusferus" (ee-geo-victus-faar-us) the definition of which would be..."the need to use every food you have access to, even wild ones".
A similar disease, that goes along with this one, is the desire to make/grow everything you need to survive. Seriously, who needs grocery stores?
Yet, the truth of the matter? I mostly eat foods from grocery stores. So I live in a state of... frustration and overweightness.
But! This year I started doing some of the things that I always said I would. Basically, putting all my research to work.
How? By making clover-granola and clover-flour (for bread making) and stir-frying burdock root and cattail shoots.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Reaching, climbing, crying
the rain pouring down over head
Standing firm, holding fast
Who am I kidding?
I'm slipping, sliding, falling
clawing at the edge
My breath catches
my mind crashes
my fingers clutching tight
And the voice echoes
through the vast open
reverberating off rock and land
my scream collapses
I don't want to.
I want to be strong
and brave and lovely.
I don't want to fall.
My hands are bleeding
My screams are dying
My tears are drying
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Several days ago I went with my husband to pick up a tractor. On the way home, as has been our habit since our honeymoon, we stopped at a few antique shops.
He started rubbing circles on my wrist with his thumb. "It feels strange, doesn't it," he said, "almost like you were cheated because you didn't get the rules explained to you before you started playing."
I think I fell in love with him all over again. Again. For the hundredth, possibly thousandth time since we were married 3 1/2 years ago.
It was then that I knew.
I would have done things differently. I would have married someone else if I thought that by not doing so, I was giving up having children. I would have walked away from God's dreams to hang onto my own. My dreams and desires are too strong in me. I wouldn't have been able to leave them for God.
I'm so glad I didn't know. I'm so glad.
Because I get to see Jesus. All the time. Every day.
...what if your healing comes through tears?
what if a thousand sleepless nights
are what it takes to know You're near?
what if my greatest disappointments
or the aching of this life
is the revealing of a greater thirst
this world can't satisfy?
and what if the trials of this life
the rain, the storms, the hardest nights
are your mercies in disguise?
-Laura Story "Blessings"