Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Gift to Breathe Again - I Am Found

I finished a post this morning, and after working to give birth to it for at least 10 days....I thought I was free to go about my life for a moment. I headed to brunch, maybe a manicure afterwards, but other than that I planned a relaxing Sunday to just breathe.

Well...wasn't that clever.

I was driving around with the top down (and let me add how heavenly that is) and suddenly Sara Bareilles' Breathe Again comes on....and the words wash over me as if I am hearing it for the first time (though truth be told it has been well over a year since I listened to it)....and I look up...and then I pull over, turn around and capture the photo below.


I see you there God.

I see you. I hear you.

When I heard this song the first time, it was an old song already...and it fit perfectly because I was newly brokenhearted. The truth is that when I feel sorry for myself, I swear I have spent more of my life brokenhearted than wholehearted....anyone else??? Well, if this has been or is currently true for you, let this post give you heart...I heard the words afresh today....BUT not from the stance of a brokenhearted woman.

I am breathing again. I am on the other side of heartbreak.

"...Facing the ghosts that decide if the fire inside still burns.
 
All I have, all I need, he's the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, still I'm searching
All I have, all I need, he's the air I would kill to breathe
Holds my love in his hands, and still I'm searching for something
Out of breath, I am left hoping someday I'll breathe again
I'll breathe again, I'll breathe again,
I'll breathe again, I'll breathe again,
I'll breathe again, I'll breathe again..."
 
I have already faced those ghosts.
 
The fire inside of me DOES still burn.
 
God has restored even this. Even. This. God has breathed the breath back into my lungs. He has held my hands. I am no longer searching...because I am finally found.
 
Found.
 
While in Israel, I had the opportunity to opt to be baptized in the Jordan River...and not just anywhere along it, but where it is believed the Israelites crossed over...and where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Ummm.....I had both arms in the air faster than the options came out of the tour guide's mouth. Aren't you already saved? baptized? Ummm....yes and yes...actually twice on that second one....which is why....
 
This was SO personal.
 
I got saved in grade school and baptized by my beloved youth pastor late one Sunday night in the dark (literally) with my little broken family there, my knees knocking, but I was determined. Read that as determined. Bless my heart. *Tears* I can feel that young girl's heart beating out of her chest. I loved Jesus. I loved my family. I wanted all the things I was raised believing in and yet our family was already a broken hot mess and the worst was yet to come, but I still had hope...and I was clinging to Jesus with all I had....all I had.
 
Fast forward to my mother's remarriage and an option for our "whole" family to be in church again, but there was one caveat...I would have to be "re-baptized" or "baptized into" that church. I believe that would be the second thing I would hold against God (I just didn't know then I was keeping score.); I was furious and felt tremendous shame. I wasn't good enough. I was already convinced and here it was...confirmation from a church no less. My heart burned.
 
So....imagine me...after these past four plus years of wilderness...with the option of the Jordan River in front of her. It was if the whole trip was suddenly all about me and Jesus. He made a touchstone out of the Jordan River, and I was somewhere between awe and just completely broken. You have NEVER seen a woman more ready to dive in...that is until my toe hit the water it was ICE COLD. There was even a heart in the stonework in the changing room to remind me who was talking over me in the most surreal few minutes of my life. I was undone, and I hadn't even laid eyes on the Jordan River yet. So after the shock of the cold water, I locked eyes with my pastor suddenly feeling all of five years old. Bless his heart at one point he asked me if I was going to hold my nose quizzically to which I suddenly noticed I was holding my nose...nervously, I blurted..."I have NO idea what to do, it has been awhile." It was comical, but also telling. Something in me was resisting the release. Then he started dipping me back, and I will never forget....I FINALLY let go. I felt my whole body relax and fall back....and then I was up and I didn't need a photo to prove it, but I raised both arms to heaven.
 
As I wrote in my journal that day, "It was the most beautiful and perfect day and I never want to forget the feel of that cold and muddy Jordan River as it washed over me. Full stop. Restoration. This time. This baptism. Just me and you Jesus - US - our relationship - my heart...and a whole crowd of witnesses."
 
See....sometimes you are on the floor in the fetal position convinced you will never ever breathe again. Your life is too messy and broken. You have failed one too many times. Then one day, you quite literally step into the Jordan River and Jesus says...THIS...I say who you are and who you are not Heather Ruth. No one else. No. One. Else. And for the first time...maybe the VERY first time in your 45 years...you believe him. You simply BELIEVE. It is oh so complicated and yet that simple and beautiful.
 
So....today I heard those old words that once reminded me of all I had lost and today all I heard was all I have gained...I looked up and saw that God holds my love in his firm hands. I am not too broken or too messy. I am found.
 
Found. Fully renewed. Fully restored.
 
It is time to breathe again.
 
 
Matthew 3:13-17 ~ The Baptism of Jesus
 
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

I'm Coming Home

When we arrived in Israel, our guide for the 10 days met us at the airport. His first words, "Welcome home."

Home.

I had forgotten that until  "I'm Coming Home by Skylar Grey came on iTunes (link in name) just now. I remember smiling politely, as one does when they are in a new place with new people. Oh how those words would ring true in my heart just 10 days later as we packed to leave.

Home.

There are words in the English language that my human heart and worn spirit takes issue with whenever they are spoken in my presence or I come across them in a book. There is no word more complicated for this girl than "home" and so how fitting...

*Deep Sigh*

If you search this blog, you will see there are 46 posts since 2011 with a theme around "home" so as my family can attest, I have proof that I have ALL the words about "home"...and those words are merely the musings of a girl in search of one...in search of what home means...desperate to reconcile the conflict about it in her heart.

You might say I have some "stuff."

*Awkward Laughter*


There was a point while we were in Israel that I simply wondered if I was destined to simply roam the earth. Maybe there was no simple Point A to Point B for my life. I am happiest in two places....Sis' compound (internal joke)...okay three places...anywhere w/Sis and her family...and anywhere I have never been. Travel feels like home to me. Is that weird? Am I weird? Don't answer that.

Last night I met up with a friend and she appeared to be looking deep into my soul...searching for something. Do you have those friends that know something about you that you don't yet know, and they just look at you waiting for it to be revealed to you??? Yeah...me too. My friends freak me out on a regular basis. The double-edge sword of this whole "being known" thing...you are known and sometimes better by others than yourself.

I digress.

I thought 2016 was going to be the easy year. I mean...FINALLY....an easy year after four BRUTAL ones. Nope. This year has been like an archeological expedition. We finally found the site (only took four years) and this year we brought in the heavy equipment.

Good. Grief.


....and this is where I stopped typing yesterday.

I couldn't even.

*Deep Breath*

I just listened to a beautiful sermon on I Kings 19. The title of the sermon was on defeating discouragement and depression, but all I heard was "the journey of restoration" because I am a girl committed to not only my own restoration, but other's....

Whenever I hear a pastor mention that God uses tarnished vessels for his glory, I feel a competitive spirit rise up inside of me as if to say, "Yeah....but he hasn't seen ME." (I hear my Sis getting angry right now.) The deal is though...he has SEEN me. AND...isn't that the point?

SO.....Here is what I loved about Israel.

I can't be too broken for it. Israel is the epitome of "hot mess" with its complicated history, complicated present, melting pot of ideas on who and what Jesus was/is, war and religion, politics and commerce. It is like when Jesus broke the bread, he wasn't simply symbolizing the breaking of him for us...but the breaking of him OVER Israel (with all that could symbolize). It isn't simply the home of the Jews....it is the home of ALL of us....for ALL of us. The whole complicated, broken lot of us.

While in Israel, I bought a piece of artwork that I am sitting staring at right now...with fresh eyes. It is painted on Israeli stone (all the buildings there are built with it) and it is of the parting of the Red Sea. there are people all along the middle of the sea and they are facing the wall of water. Now there is certainly some artistic license with the story but who are any of us to say someone or someones didn't stand in that same posture that day...I digress. So I am sitting here staring at this piece and I see myself. It isn't simply about walking through, but also of standing up...to fear....to the wall....of water.

....breathe...

Sometimes we can't cross over into home until we stand up to what is keeping us from it.

What is keeping me from home?

You?

I'm coming home....and I don't have a clue what that means, but I feel it. I feel it rising up inside of me. I feel the wave coming. I feel the knowing.

....and just like the words of the song..."...no matter what it takes..." means no matter what and so that reads (to me) as more work. The journey of restoration is partly physical and partly spiritual (thank you Archie for that this morning). God meets us where we are....

I'm not giving up.



Thank you to Israel for being a "spiritual marker" for me...and that Jordan River....

...a story for another post.

For now I am reveling in the fresh commissioning for the next leg of the journey. The leg I didn't even know about until right this very minute. Right. Now.

...and that is how it works.

Don't mind me laughing nervously over here. ;)

"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake."
 Psalms 23:3