- Ingrid Bergman
A beautiful winter day in Colorado and a beautiful couple at one of their favorite places.
You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. I have loved none but you. - Jane Austen
As soon as I saw you, I knew adventure was going to happen. - Winnie the Pooh
A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.
- Ingrid Bergman
Tale as old as time. - Beauty & the Beast
My favorite! Congratulations to the bride and groom to be!
Trapped. My mind a cave.
Thoughts like floodwater, rushing in.
Heart racing, body tense, mind ablaze.
Paralyzed by my striving efforts.
Prayers ricocheting off an invisible ceiling.
Desire to control and to know tantalizes and tempts.
Darkness creeping in quietly beckons and sickly woos.
Questions, dreams, and ‘what ifs’ vie for attention.
Romancing the dark, I stay in a place of cheap chaos.
Running. Running in my mind.
This way. That way. Running into walls on all four sides.
I’m a slave to my thoughts.
Self-obsession the bolt to my self-made prison.
A sinister dead end in every way.
Still I wrestle.
I lie down to rest, but I am awake.
Running, rushing, thinking, grasping.
A pinprick of light.
So small I nearly miss it.
Light. Focus on the light.
Slowly, as slowly as ice melting in winter’s sun it grows.
My mind begins to clear. Thoughts still.
I breathe in the light, I breathe out the darkness.
My heart slows to a steady rhythm. Peace stirs.
I breathe in light, I breathe out darkness.
My body calms. Striving energy turned to stillness charged with joy.
I breathe in light, I breathe out darkness.
Another light. Brighter.
I reach out to it.
A feeling of love sweeps through like a warm gust of wind.
Spiraling toward me and into my soul.
It steadily grows. Stronger and stronger.
Wind so warm and strong. I close my eyes and breathe it in.
Love like a faithful companion, I know I am not alone.
Love that delights in me, I know I am seen and known.
The wind strengthens. I can feel it stir inside.
I surrender to this wind. Light now radiates within.
My mind awake with its reality.
My heart at rest in its certainty.
My body resonating in its presence.
My soul pierced with freedom.
Pure, sweet love.
Wrecked by grace through winds of mercy.
Undone by love through purest light.
I am His and He is mine.
As Christmas rapidly approaches, my thoughts turn toward a humble hero of that blessed night. A teenage girl who spoke to an angel and believed without question. A young Jewish girl who leaned in to the promise of God and said yes. A young mother whose cries, sweat and tears brought Life into the world. Let’s step back into history and walk in Mary’s worn sandals.
Daughter of Nazareth, will you be the one?
Will you carry life both now and for kingdom come?
My Son will be yours to love and to hold,
My trust in you is complete and twofold.
Will you say yes to trials, confusion and heartache?
At times you will feel lonely, but daughter you will be awake!
Will you say yes to joy, love and grace abound?
In you my presence will always be found.
Precious Mary, so pure and strong, will you be the one?
Will you nurture love both now and for kingdom come?
Will you carry my Son in your arms and heart,
Even when His body is laid down in the dark?
Honored Mary, so young and sweet,
Did you give up dreams to be made complete?
Soft baby hands grasped your finger and called you mother,
You watched him share, play and explore with others.
A little boy’s scraped knee meant tearful eyes pleading for your kiss.
You watched him learn, work and grow with bliss,
He crafted wood and looked into his father’s eyes for advice.
Did you know he would one day pay the ultimate price?
Lovely Mary, so true and brave,
You stood near as your Son was laid in a grave.
You suffered at the foot of His cross, His pain was your pain,
Heartache in your deepest soul, love flowing through every vein.
Imagine your feelings when seeing him risen,
His body bright and healed, no longer crimson.
Once more you held him in your arms so near,
His loving eyes looked into yours with joy and a tear.
Faithful Mary so obedient and blessed,
Mother of our Savior is no gentle quest.
The vessel of all greatness and our redemption,
Mary, chosen woman of love and truest gumption.
I had it all. Power, connection, posterity, an entire kingdom… mine. The first emperor of Rome. A tribune for life.
True, I was one of the people, a countryman. Born Gaius Octavius in Rome 63 BC. However, sheer defiance would rule out the ordinary. My destiny was authority. Born to greatness; leadership in my blood. I was adopted by Julius Caesar. Adopted into power and might. I was crushed by my uncle’s assassination, but only for a moment, for then I held the power of the empire in my hand. A power I respected and transformed into a monarchy. A power I exploited. I worshiped the Roman gods, yet insisted on my people worshiping me as a god. My face on coins, my image on statues across the land.
I hungered for power. So thirsty for it, I would have cut opened my very veins to drink it in. Glory was mine. Rome; famed and great because of me. From the military to the arts, I had a hand in crafting Roman culture. I led with innovation and tradition. My reign was marked by a season of peace and prosperity for my people. I knew no limit to my apparent success.
Nonetheless, there was a wrinkle in my plan. A glitch in the cosmos of time. One little thing, which would become my greatest downfall. A baby. An infant boy that would be king. A child born in an unknown corner of my grand kingdom.
I never met this child, nor did I meet the man he grew to be. While I built the Roman Forum he and his motley band carried the gospel on the roads I commissioned. For thirty three years, He built his kingdom and I built mine. His power rivaled my own, but I did not know it.
A baby in a manger. A man on a cross. Me. A man caught at a crossroad. I answered to power and spoke the language of might, when I should have fallen on my knees and succumbed to the vernacular of grace.
I had it all. Power, connection, posterity, an entire kingdom… mine. A tribune for life. The greatest Roman Emperor. Yet I had nothing. Nothing that mattered outside the domain of my kingdom. There was another kingdom that I refused to acknowledge. Blinded by power, choking on success. A kingdom that surpassed my own.
A cry in the wind from an obscure manger. A cry from the cross that rang out across the land that all is finished.
And me? I am finished too. Finished by a power I could only grasp at. Run in by a love so pure I ran from it. Torn apart by a kingdom I could not see with my eyes.
Yes, it is finished indeed.
Those who have ears to hear, listen to this. Your Heavenly Father created you for a life of intimacy, joy and freedom. He created you to live life to the fullest. You were adopted into a powerful kingdom. Greatness and love await. Will you come?
Take a moment to be still and listen. Are you being called forward from the edge? The past holds only the power you give it. Lies speak louder when listened to. Security, power and comfort will eventually suffocate. Will you jump?
Lean in and listen. Are you being beckoned to go higher and deeper? Do you hear your name and a familiar voice calling you from the depths of the unknown?
Will you risk everything? Will you risk what people think of you? What you think of you? Will you let go of your control? Will you move from a place of playing it safe to a place of risk? Will you let go of the past that drags you down, the present, which overwhelms and the future that worries you?
No, there are few feelings of magic in the free fall, but there is life. Great life. Deep life.
So come with me to a place where you can take deep draughts of unadulterated life.
The free fall can be scary and painful, yes. Like being thrown into a deep ocean, tossed around, you don’t know which way is up or down.
But once you drink in this ocean, currents of grace flow through your veins and love becomes a never-ending tidal force pulling you deeper and deeper.
Come to this place where you are seen and known on the inside and out. Where love summons and grace knows your name.
This is where you discover you are His beloved. Will you come?
We look within. Obsessed by troubles, doubt and human goodness. No light within. Trapped in a cell of our own bodies and minds.
We look out and see the face of God in Christ our Lord. God living and breathing in me.
Delivered from my state of death. Awakened to Christ in me the hope of glory.
We stand not within ourselves, but out in an open free space where He has been waiting all along.
“Light up the darkness, Little One,” is what He said.
Light pours forth.
Light impacting me, light streaming from me. Light surrounds and abounds from all directions.
Light pulling others in, its magnetism inviting them into the kingdom. To come, rest, and just be.
The promises of God in my open palms. Hands and heart extended to heaven as one.
He takes my frail human dreams and expands them into the universe. No longer my dreams, but His. Glorious in nature. Far greater than I could imagine. More extravagant than I would ever dare to ask.
I see a glimpse, a glimpse of what is promised. That promise rests in my heart and spurs me forward.
We recognize the song of heaven sung out across the open space. A familiar tune we were born to hear and embrace.
Light from His Being, His Spirit strengthens me. Not rough, but a gentle constant inner strength. Light softly pulsating from within.
Letting go of my small life and pathetic control. Surrendering to Him who is greater. Fully impacted by Grace. Full breaths of blessed air. Fresh, full draws of grace mixed with glory.
Awakened to the free life. Lean in and listen to His call.
Christ cultivating a free spirit within me. Living unreservedly, energized and stirred by God’s Spirit.
His Spirit. My closest companion, my heart’s guide, my mind’s sculptor. Power and light collide within me. He whispers to me of glory unseen and grace to be consumed.
His love has the first and last word. Hemmed in by grace. Overflowing with the light of His being.
I am His and He is mine. Life, together, in the open free space.
Dancing in light that arouses His glory in me. Breathing in love so pure it hurts and yet heals. Embraced by grace that draws me in deeper and higher. Awakened by the Father as He covers me with His dreams and delight.
Christ in me the hope of glory.
“Wake up Little Light. Will you come to this open space with Me?”
What if life was more than what we see with these saline eyes? What if there was more just beyond the surface of reality? What if we prayed an audacious prayer to go higher and deeper into that sphere?
Imagine what you might see.
Would you see beauty and joy in its purest form, blinding in its purity and radiance? When laughter rings out, would the sky explode with brilliant color?
Perhaps you would see the pain and sorrow of this world marked by sweeping blue hues gently streaming from men, women and children alike.
Would you see the intensity of hate and evil sneak about in inky smoke? Would you see evil seductively striding from person to person?
Would you see good encircled by an army of light? Warriors. Men, women and children of story who dance and fight as one light. Can you hear them call out to you?
Lean in and listen. What secret is he whispering to you?
Embrace the wonder. Enter this story.
Don’t be disillusioned. This is no fairytale. This is light and this is darkness. A narrative of all that is evil and all that is good. This is where light tells a story and darkness must listen. This is where beauty dances, joy sings and passion fights.
Will you awaken to this world? Will you awaken to wonder?
Born into an epic. Created to play an irreplaceable role in the greatest story ever told. Crafted with unique gifts to live, love and share in the adventure and romance.
What will you do with your precious time in this world?
The world is a noisy place. Will you listen and be silent in the chaos? In a caffeinated, distracted, addicted-to-busy domain, will you rest?
The stakes are high, as Bill Hybels says. So lead. The world is rushed. Rest. The world is dark. Love.
We search for God, for freedom, for love, and peace. Why do we think these things have gone missing? Perhaps they’re hiding right under our noses. We catch glimpses in nature, in beauty, in song, in literature, in conversation with a friend.
Laughter ringing on a breeze brings to us the familiar feeling of hope. Will we risk embracing full-hearted desires and whole-hearted longings? Will we dare to believe, to dream, to want?
What do you want your life to look like ten years down the road? Create this future now. If in twenty years, you could accomplish just one thing, what would you want it to be? Chase after this now. What makes you feel most alive? Cultivate this now.
Identify your life purpose. Don’t let the gremlins that try to nag you and whisper messages of self-doubt hold you back. Chase your dreams now so when you look back at your life, you don’t wonder where your life went and why you never risked, failed or succeeded. It is a tragedy when we attempt to live without desire or live paralyzed by fear of failure. Perhaps it is this exact fear or risk that would make you come alive. What if we let fear become our catalyst to freedom? Are you willing to leave your places of comfort to experience the power of God’s whimsy and delight in you?
You are standing on a cliff. Not just any cliff, but your cliff. The cliff you know more intimately than you know yourself. The cliff made of things that keep you feeling safe, secure, comfortable, and in control. It is a world of grey, but it’s known-ness keeps you paralyzed in hazy contentment. You wonder, “Can I leave this all behind?”
You walk to the edge of this cliff. You hesitate not knowing if it’s worth the risk. A voice softly calls out your name. You strain to hear it as you lean into empty space. You hear your name again and again and again. You are being called. Summoned by love into a greater depth. Beckoned by risk to awaken to a world of freedom. You shiver in anticipation. You wonder, “Do I believe enough?”
Free-falling won’t be pretty, but the choice to leap is yours. You step closer. Your heart lured by the thought of embracing a truth so real; a freedom so wonderful you must abandon comfort to find it. You gaze into an unknown land, familiar only by the promises echoing in your heart. You hear distant laughter. You sense joy. You hear Love calling your name. A daring, relentless free-fall awaits. You step forward and embrace risk. You wonder, “How much will this hurt?”
You plummet through that place in the sky that lies between your cliff and the abyss somewhere below your downward spiraling body. Wind everywhere. You can’t catch your breath. You’re falling or maybe you’re flying. You don’t think. You can’t think. You hear only the sound of your beating heart. You are free-falling.
Suddenly you feel it. Love. Love in its purest form. Unadulterated by the world. You dive deeper and deeper. It invades every cell in your body. A warm weightless blanket. You feel as if you might explode by the depth of His love and pleasure. Fears do not enslave. Chains do not bind. Doubts do not haunt. You float, fly and fall in a whimsical world of love. It feels like eternity. It feels like seconds. It doesn’t matter. You have been swallowed up in the chasm of His love. You wonder, “Can I free-fall forever?”
Strong arms effortlessly catch you out of the air and hold you so close. His tender strength envelops your soul as you lean into His embrace. Your roaring heart pulses near His steady heartbeat. The tremors in your hands and legs still. You realize who is holding you and tremble once again. You look up into warm eyes; endless pools of love and delight. You wonder, “How long have you been waiting for me?”
Then, in a moment of sweet silence, He writes His freedom on your heart. He smiles at you, and in His smile is the pride and affection of a good and gentle Father. He laughs and in his laughter is the contagious joy of a child. You feel like you could run and dance and play forever. You laugh because you know He wants to do the same. Whimsy is your companion. Freedom is your song. Over and over your soul cries out, “Jesus is enough.”
Picture this. A young man walks through the dusty streets of a small town. He stands a little taller than the rest. His stride is calm and confident as he makes his way through the bustling crowds of people. He has everything he could ever want. Power, wealth, position, and good health are his. He has followed all the rules since boyhood and has done many good things of which he is proud. There is nothing that can stop him. Except maybe a conversation with the Teacher.
You see, he wanted eternal life. This is good. However, he wanted this on his own terms. This is where it gets difficult. To enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must do what the Father tells you to do. The man understands this and is willing.
The Teacher speaks. You must not murder, steal, or lie. You must love others. The man thought this all was very good.
Then the Teacher told the man that he must give away everything. Those words had the effect of ice cold water poured down his spine. He must give away all his possessions to the poor, so that his wealth would be in heaven. If he could let go of those things, then he could lay hold of the Kingdom of Heaven. The young man was deflated. It was as if all the air just left his body, leaving him depleted and unmoving. This was the one thing he did not want to hear. So he left and did not come back.
How often do we hold onto things that keep us from fully living and fully trusting? It could be good things that are dear to us like family, friends and ministry. It could be things like money, power, and position. It could be something simple like eating, reading, or dating. But whether it’s a relationship or an addiction, you must let go of that which has become your captor, things you are holding onto and keep you from embracing the Kingdom. What keeps you stuck, trapped, immobile, fearful, angry or depressed? This is your mud puddle. What keeps you from fully trusting because it makes you feel comfortable, safe and secure? What are you trusting and holding onto more than you are trusting and holding onto Jesus. This is what keeps you from true freedom. This is your cliff. Until Jesus is enough, you will be forced to set up camp here. This is a dangerous place to dwell.
God is calling you to step forward. God is saying to you, precious daughter and precious son, to trust Him. Be brave. Jump. Leap off your cliff in belief. There is only one requirement and that is desperation. Are you fed up with your mud puddle? Are you in urgent need of freedom from your cliff? How much do you need Jesus? Is He enough for you? Is your faith reckless enough to dive into the depths of His love?
Then do it. Believe. This is your moment. Today is your day to believe. Leave behind the chains that hold you captive, the bonds of comfort, the barricade of fear. Leap for freedom. He has already set you free. Embrace your freedom. Jump for love. It’s all about love. That is what the abyss is below the cliff. It is love. So free-fall through His chasm of love.
In the exhilaration of free-fall, there is peace, there is wonder, and there is relief. There is great joy when you leap and find your True Love waiting with outstretched arms. When you free-fall into your Father’s arms you will land hard in undeniable freedom and uncontained whimsy. You will find that He is enough. He will laugh with you, He will cry with you, He will take you by the hand and show you His Kingdom. You will fall deeply in love and just maybe you will want to free-fall again.