The Sojourner


When I from distant lands do think abroad,
Of all that lies unknown and hid from me,
I feel a chill of darkness blot the laud,
That else would rise in joyous praise to Thee.
For how can one as tiny as the sand,
Behold the sea a-brew with storm and wave?
And how can one but hope to understand,
The secrets of a God who holds our days?
And when such thoughts do burrow in my soul,
I feel again the deadened throb awake,
Though naught on earth is found that can console,
Still it beats the old eternal ache.
For though my ship on earth is made to roam,
My heart is ever beating for my home.

(Photo not original.)

When Life Disappoints


(Photo courtesy of Matteo Mazzoni)

I wanted security, and You gave me chaos,
Wanted esteem, and You let me know shame.
I wanted success, and You handed me failure,
Wanted Your pleasure, and experienced Your pain.

I wanted simplicity, and You gave me troubles,
Wanted grandeur, and was reduced to nothing.
I wanted approval, and You handed me rejection,
Wanted Your blessing, and tasted Your suffering.

So I packed my frustration, and all my complaints
Into two giant burlap sacks,
And one I named “Bitterness” and the other “Disappointment,”
And heaved them upon my back.

Thus I began my journey to You,
Because I needed an answer, You see,
For all of the things You’d promised me once,
And failed to deliver to me.

But the loads, they grew heavy with each passing day,
Til I fumed with fury and hate;
And I moaned and I wept and I stumbled at last
Beneath their unbearable weight.

I looked at these bags, laden with trials,
And deep in my soul I knew,
That I could not carry, nor change, nor fight them;
There was but one thing left to do.

I reached both arms, fierce as I dared,
And I hugged them to my breast,
Then I heaved and hauled and wrenched until,
I’d wrestled them into my chest.

I cried to the heavens, “I embrace these trials!
I welcome them full unto me,
Let them now work Your will in my life
So that I may be more like Thee!”

The trials spilled over, into my lap
Each of them laid before me,
And as I sat and stared anew,
Suddenly I saw them most clearly.

I wanted comfort, and You gave me character,
Wanted completion, and You gave me patience.
I wanted glory, and You gave me humility,
Wanted Your promise, and You gave me Your presence.

I wanted ease, and You gave me strength,
Wanted cheap idols, and You offered me wealth,
I wanted garbage, and You gave me riches,
Wanted your gifts, and You gave me Yourself. 

I laughed and I danced and I started to sing,
For the treasures I held in my lap!
Then I looked back and forth and finally found
My two giant burlap sacks.

And the names on the bags were re-written,
For God had seen fit to destroy
Both “Bitterness” and “Disappointment,”
And to name them “Steadfastness” and “Joy.”

I fell to my knees and worshiped and cried,
“Oh God, all along You knew–
That deep in my heart from the very beginning,
All I really wanted was You.”

On My 28th Birthday

Today I am happy just to be me.
To laugh with my husband and dance in the rain,
To embrace all of life—including the pain,
To see others’ weakness and love them the same,
To belong to a God who knows me by name.

Today I am happy just to be me.
To wonder and dream, to hope and create,
To kiss little cheeks that stay up too late!
To cling to the Cross, to let go of hate,
To relish the journey, to be willing to wait.

Today I am happy just to be me.
To be a little less scared, and a lot more free,
To hold nothing back, to love fervently,
To open both hands to possibility,
To know a little more of what it means to be me.

Today I am happy just to be me.
To be flawed and broken, but holy and new,
To be growing and failing, but tested and true,
To know all my days are hidden in You,
To be loved by Your grace and not what I do!

Today I am happy just to be me.
To live by the gospel, to claim what’s been done,
To be loved by a man, to be his only one,
To give all of myself and not just some,
To believe the best is yet to come!

Guilt-Free Womanhood


Wake up running, try your best,
No time today to take a rest,
The dishes weren’t done before bed last night,
And now the kitchen’s a miserable sight.

“Sit in your chair, don’t argue with me,
I’ve got lots to do, can’t you see??”
Hurry, rush, clean, clean, clean,
I wonder if my tone was mean?

It’s grocery day, no time to lose,
Button their coats, slip on their shoes.
Gee, these hand-me-downs look rough,
*Sigh!  I never dress them cute enough!

In the store a thousand choices,
In my head a thousand voices:
You shouldn’t be paying so much for that,
You shouldn’t be buying those salty snacks…

On and on, the voices come,
Talking til the day is done.
Wash the dishes, sweep the floor,
Work til there is nothing more.

Then lay in bed, my spirits sagging,
Count the ways I’ve come up lacking:
Forgot to make my husband’s lunch,
Processed snacks for the kids to munch,

Should have served my husband more,
Shouldn’t have skipped that extra chore.
Gave in to the chocolate crave,
Growing a new species in the microwave!

Did my kids see the gospel today?
Did we spend enough time in play?
Oh, how come womanhood seems to be
Synonymous with “guilt” for me?

I wonder what the Lord would say,
If I let Him speak into my day?
Perhaps He’d take me by the hand,
And lead me to His Word again.

To a place where Mary was rewarded
For leaving her tasks in order to worship.
To a well where a guilty woman like me,
Drank of the Water that set her free.
And to a city where a whore’s red rope,
Bought for her a living Hope.

Maybe He’d take me back in time,
To the woman who pushed ahead in line,
Just to touch the tip of His cloak,
Believing it would rid her an awful yoke.
Or to the woman at the foot of a Cross,
Weeping for the Son she’d lost.

All of these women knew in their being
That He is the greatest reason for living.
And so in the midst of their crazy lives,
They didn’t hold up “effort” and expect a prize.

Instead they hurled all pretense aside,
And ran for the Arms spread open wide!
And with their pride tossed to the wind,
They staked all hope on belonging to Him.

Tomorrow, start over and wake up smiling,
Sing for the joy of simply belonging,
Live by His power like the woman of old
Who touched His robe with faith so bold.

Claim the truth, when you feel guilty,
Like the Samaritan—believe you are free!
And if you must, tie a red rope,
Around your window when you’re tempted to mope!
Remember the faith that Rahab had,
Then sing of His mercy, rejoice, and be glad!

Hold to the Cross in smooth winds and rough,
Don’t live like His death wasn’t enough.
And if you should find yourself suddenly flailing,
Be then like Mary, and choose the better thing.

(Luke 10:38-42, John 4:1-30, Joshua 2, Matthew 9:20-22, John 19)

(Photo not original)

The Rollercoaster

Photo courtesy of 

I got on a rollercoaster today.
It didn’t seem I had a lot of say,
For I never ran toward it in haste,
Yet suddenly I was strapping a seatbelt round my waist.

Then up, and up, and up it climbed–
My heart was soaring and so my mind!
At the very top a wedding march played,
Church doors swung open & the bride was displayed!

Just as I thought I’d burst with delight,
My jubilant heart erupted in fright.
Down and down and down we plunged,
Til we could’ve soaked up our tears with a 10-gallon sponge.

Whizzing past failure, swooping beneath bills,
I lost all sight of my original will.
My heart was consumed with anxiety and doubt,
What did we think marriage was all about?

Then just as suddenly we began our ascent,
Gathered extra money–even paid our rent!
Accepted into seminary, a new job for the wife–
Yes, yes!  Now this is living the life!

Laughing with friends, hosting parties all night,
Once more I could feel my heart racing with delight.
Security!  Stability!  Oh, to be young and free!
Wait…wait…wait…what’s happening to me?!

Stomach growing rounder, ankles swelling fast,
Plunging lower and lower–the freedom’s not gonna last!!
My tummy’s churning madly; I’m puking left and right,
Now suddenly I’m in a rocking chair, crying through the night.

Eyes so bleary, mind so crazy, body worn and stretchy,
The rollercoaster’s reached it’s low…and boy does it look messy.
Poopy diapers, spit-up rags, mommy always crying,
Whoever said it’d be sheer bliss surely must’ve been lying.

And then one day a little coo,
A giggle, a smile, a babble–who knew?
A night full of sleep and those first sweet words,
Motherhood, difficult?  Don’t be absurd!

She’s darling, she’s perfect, she’s utterly sweet!
Look!  Look!  She took a step on her two little feet!
Laughing all day, giving Mommy a kiss,
Life doesn’t get any better than this!

The coaster’s soaring high, the wind in my hair,
She is the greatest answer to prayer!
She’s mine forever and I’ll never leave her,
Wait just a minute…is that a FEVER??

Down, down we go flying in the blink of an eye;
What if it’s incurable…what if she dies??
What if she’s rebellious and my world falls apart?
What if some loser breaks her heart?

How much more can I take?  This coaster’s a bear!
I look left and right–are we getting anywhere?
And then I glance backwards and suddenly I know,
I’ve been on this ride forever and there’s forever left to go.

I stare at the track swerving up ahead:
Jobs, babies, trials…I’ll be riding ’til I’m dead!
“Stop the rollercoaster!”  I scream into the air.
It screeches to a halt and I scurry from my chair.

“What is this hellish ride?”  I demand to know out loud,
Glaring at the driver through eyes like darkened clouds.
“This ride is filled with turmoil; it’s insanity and strife!”
He calmly looks at me and says, “The ride is called ‘Life.’ ”

“I hate it!”  I yell.  “I can’t do it, I know!”
He pauses to consider, then answers kind of slow.
“Perhaps this isn’t the ride for you;
I’ll tell you what you ought to do.

Head to that line you see on the hill,
The passengers say that ride is still.
It’s calm and it’s steady; some even claim
They can sense joy on the parts filled with pain.”

“Yes, yes!”  I nod quickly.  “That’s the ride for me!
Oh, thank you and good-bye!”  I shout out with glee.
I pause and turn back, one thing left to say,
“Just tell me what it’s called, so I don’t lose my way!”

Already my heart is light; the peace I nearly taste
As he looks at me and says, “They call that ride ‘Faith.’ “