24 September 2009

Could It Be?

I wrote a song almost two weeks ago that has haunted me ever since. I've been struggling for the last few months to figure out why I can't maintain consistency in my walk with God, why I can't seem to be faithful in the many little things that I try to juggle...

What I am slowly learning, all over again, is that I need to start letting God pick up the things that I feel I need to juggle - in some ways, I need to let them crash to the ground and see what He makes of all of it. I'm overworked, underslept, and spiritually undernourished; and it's an absolutely horrible combination.

But this song keeps haunting me. I keep asking myself, "Will this be the moment when I feel the nearness of God again?" and "Will this be the night from which I'll feel new again like I did ten years ago when I accepted Christ as my Savior?" It's not that God has failed - I've simply failed to desire Him whole-heartedly.

I've let my gaze drop too many times. I've come to think that "I've" got it all together after ten years of running this race and seeking God on what I now recognize as often shallow terms. I've said "no" to late nights with Him in exchange for meaningless (and unsatisfying) media content.

And it cycles through predictably, as it does in every season of life. I keep thinking that if I get to the next thing, I'll be more faithful, I'll be more disciplined - and, again, I'll finally be more in love with the One who first loved me.

But it's not about asking myself if this is the moment - it's about making this the moment. It's about picking up my Bible when I'd rather watch a TV show. It's about picking up Tozer when my brain screams at me to pick up my textbook. It's about spending my late night hours on my knees instead of wandering around looking for something to do until I'm tired enough to sleep.

The revelation that I do not answer to my flesh at the end of things is sinking in deep over the last few days. I will not stand before my flesh and list off the ways I fulfilled its desires! I will stand in front of a living, holy God who secured both my payment and freedom from bondage by no simple offering. And I will answer for, not boast in, the ways I appeased my flesh. Each and every time.
"It is easy to learn the doctrine of personal revival and victorious living; it is quite another thing to take our cross and plod on to the dark and bitter hill of self-renunciation. Here many are called and few are chosen. For every one that actually crosses over into the Promised Land there are many who stand for a while and look longingly across the river and then turn sadly back to the comparative safety of the sandy wastes of the old life."
[[from "Born After Midnight," by A.W. Tozer]]

So, yes it's true that this moment could be here. Only the passing of time will truly tell if this was the moment I remembered my immense need for a Savior.

But I certainly hope that it is.

For anyone wanting to listen to the rough midnight recording done in our garage, it's up at my PureVolume page (http://www.purevolume.com/akatereynolds).

Could It Be?
©A. Kate Reynolds (Sept 10, 2009)

Here I am -
Here in this moment I find myself in,
this moment where I might possibly begin
to start over.

Could it be
That this moment so full of possibility,
this moment is where I might finally breathe
without going under?

Could it be that this moment
is where I fall back in love with You?
Could it be that this moment
is where I remember my need?
Could it be?
Could it possibly be?

Here I am -
Here in this place I can’t let You in,
this place where I find I’m dirty and broken
and incomplete.

Could it be
That You could even want this version of me,
this me that You can clearly see
is in need of mercy?

Could it be that this moment
is where I fall back in love with You?
Could it be that this moment
is where I remember my need?
Could it be?
Could it possibly be?

Can it be true that You offer forgiveness?
It’s a beautiful and wonderful truth!
Can it be true You offer me my freedom,
in the knowledge it’s only found in You?

Yet, it’s here!
This moment where I know my Savior
This moment I fall in love like never before -
This moment!
It could possibly be.

Could it be that this moment
is where I lift my eyes off of my feet?
Could it be when I fix my gaze
and forget I was unclean?
Could it be?

07 September 2009

Thoughts on Grief and Joy

It has been twelve years since I last found myself in the throes of deep grief. Twelve years of grief, depression, and, finally, redemption. As its recurrence begins to circle once more, I keep pushing it off to the edges of my mind - hoping that in doing so, enough time might pass where either it will be found that the truth of what is now reality is not actually true (and that everything is as it should be) or that it might not hurt as much when I finally do turn toward its face.

I am quickly discovering that I do not know how to move on from here. It’s not as though I’ve been through an exact replica of this process before. Before, I was lost in and of myself long before grief overcame me. Before, I felt that there was no one left, that no one truly cared at all for what I was experiencing.

But now, my life is so drastically different. At age 12, I was just beginning to discover what corners life so deftly hides away until one comes of age. Here, now 24, I am firstly redeemed, secondly married, and third, no stranger to mourning.

The hardest part is perhaps that there are now twelve more years of memories with this beautiful woman. Twelve more years of being welcomed, loved, fed, and entertained by her hospitality and antics. Twelve years where she lived even though what she had so dearly loved - her husband - had been snatched out of her beautiful, slender hands. Twelve more years of Scrabble and sweet tea and game shows and pictures of all the grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) on the fridge.

The second hardest part is I didn’t think the last time I saw her would be my good-bye. I saw her fighting her aging body, recovering her speech and movement and sharpness of both mind and wit. I saw her in all her stubbornness, desiring to return home and return to living.

And now, she’s gone. Nothing remains but memories and the haunting scenes of my last pieces of time with her, ending with her telling me she loved me.

That was her greatest gift to me - that she loved me.

My grandmother, Eula Frances, was a strong woman. She didn’t have to maintain power or have people think of her as more than a homemaker. She was just strong. She knew who she was and who she loved, and that was more than enough.

She married one man, my grandfather, and remained his wife until the day he died. She raised four children, who from her inherited wit, wisdom, and a love of words. Her home was always open, the candy dish full, and her hands always ready to slip into someone else’s. Following my grandfather’s death, she knew the blessing of another companion. Many women can’t seem to find one good man, but my grandmother was wife to two. They lived, and continued to love and welcome all into their home.

I can still remember reading books in my grandparents’ living room, in that small yellow house in Camby, Indiana, and listening to the family gathered around the eat-in kitchen that didn’t have the space to be an eat-in. They would talk, play Scrabble, and argue about whether or not words were valid. As a child, it might have been the happiest place I knew. It had all the sounds of happy. I’d pause, smile to myself and keep reading.

I have to keep telling myself that I will once more experience that ‘happy’ - that, one day, sitting in a room of people and hearing their murmurs and exclamations will bring joy and not overwhelming sadness. I know that one day, I’ll hold children of my own and I will tell them stories of their great-grandmother, who was a beautiful woman, and it will be healing to share her with them, instead of pain-filled.

I know that joy will return. Happy will return. The problem is surely how to get there. The battle for joy is not won by laying in bed all day, weeping and praying that what is now true is not. And it is certainly not won by going into hiding, as I am so apt to do when life brings its ‘little’ changes. It is won by being obedient to what God has called me to, even when I don’t feel like doing so. It’s not a horrible thing to cry, and I know that I probably will in spurts for years to come because this wonderful, strong woman will not be known by further generations in this world, but I am not to waste my life in a fog of depression.

Joy will return in the steady understanding that she is in the presence of her King, Jesus Christ. The only way I can come to know that joy again is to once more understand what it is to live and breathe for an audience of One - the One who was there before this grief, the One who is there now in its midst, and the One who will usher me into His presence at the end of my life here.

You make known to me the path of life;

in Your presence there is fullness of joy;

at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

[[Psalm 16:11]]

I so often allow my gaze to drop. I so often forget for what I am striving. If I have fifty more years on this earth, I don’t want them to look like the last ten, as amazing as they were. I want to be strong. I want to seek joy. I want to stop looking to this planet for what makes my life worthwhile. I want to keep moving forward.

Heaven is home. May I fix my gaze there, and find joy here in the time between.

That’s what Grandma would have wanted.

29 July 2009

To know God...

"To know God is to know fear. The fear of God is a heart-pounding, knee-trembling, spine-tingling, shuddering recognition that God is infinitely more good and powerful and important than me. It means that I live and think and act and speak with a keen awareness that He is the Creator and I am the creature; He is holy and I am not; He is wise and I am a fool; He is powerful and I am weak; He is ruler and I am servant; He is self-sufficient and I am utterly dependent.

To fear God means to be ever-aware of His all-pervasive presence, conscious of my absolute need for Him, mindful of my responsibility to follow His way, determined to obey Him, cautious of offending Him, and overwhelmed in amazement and gratitude at His incredible goodness and grace."

[[Mary Kassian, Knowing God by Name]]

26 July 2009


Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade

Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down

Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid

I have felt a large amount of overwhelmed in the last few months. I've traveled to Indiana and Montana, watched my grandmother begin recovering from a stroke and seen a new baby just days after his birth. I've watched the sun set over some of the bluest water and coolest mountains that I've seen, and I've experienced physical pain that I can't begin to describe.
I've watched friends get engaged and married and seen new babies, and watched my other grandmother struggle to speak mere sentences so that we know she's still in there. I've begun counting the days until I leave my job and I've prayed fervently that God would provide Christopher with employment.

Perhaps it is all why the happy is so mixed in with the sad. Perhaps my latest grace-laden acquisition of discipline is keeping me in joy and perspective when everything is changing.

There are times when I pray that God would simply shock my system. I know that I am owed nothing and yet, day by day He pours forth grace when I know that all I deserve, sans Christ, is death and vengeance. I've been thirsty to know the Spirit's movement and afraid when I finally do. I feel I have lost a lot of who I have been in Christ, but yet I have not found Christ in lieu of my absence. I'm not quite sure what that means - I just know that it's there.

But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways

And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

I so very often fail to give thanks for even the smallest blessings, like fresh water or the idea that I can sit down and read the Spirit-inspired words written on pages in a book that is banned in several countries and neutered in our own. I do not appreciate the fact that I am able to converse with others freely, without labored speech, or consume liquids without thickening them, as my grandmothers have had need to do. My thirst can be easily quenched, regardless of whether or not God ever gives me anything. He has given me all that I could ever need for life and godliness!

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight

Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time

It is so simple to not realize the gift it is to have my husband next to me at night. We have a wonderful home and share it with good people. We sleep well. We have air conditioning! The Father in all His glory has no reason whatsoever to feed and protect us, and yet He does night after night, week after week, year after year. How dare I doubt that He has anything but good for us? But dare I assume that I understand what that good might look like?

Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread

Because, you see, in my years I've seen kids who have been emotionally starved by their parents but who are given everything they could ever want and I've seen families with nothing in foreign countries who give what little they have away and who are the most joyful, content people I have ever known. I've known people to experience the common grace of God through the simple act of holding a newborn in their arms or through marrying their best friend and I've known others, believers, to die without explicable reason. If all we had was taken from us, would we still give thanks to the One who orchestrated the sun to set in such a brilliant display? Would we doubt His goodness if our lot was that of the rural woman in Guatemala, trying to feed her family with whatever can be found?

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

Perhaps the world has messed with my head. Perhaps it is as they tell you in media studies, that everything can be interpreted either as a scheme to buy something or as a scheme to advance conformity/socialist tendencies. Regardless, I am more and more certain that the third perspective is the best one to hold - that there is no direct effect. It starts and ends in my head, with my heart. As downhere so deftly puts it, "the problem with the world is me." I do not understand what I truly have need for - I do not even process daily my need for a Savior!

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight

Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away

And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

If I never finish my tea tonight or if I never walk out of bed in the morning; if the world is suddenly dark and I never again see a friend smile or find joy in something simple; if I never have children or we fail to be able to pay our bills; if I find myself paralyzed in speech and with Christ as my only companion... Would I be content? Would Christ truly be my companion? Could I find joy in silence or peace in difficult circumstances? Would I understand that I still have all that I could ever need when all I could ever want is no longer there on top of it?

In the wisdom of Martin Smith, I pray that God would "save me, from the kingdom of comfort where I am king." The heavens are certainly aware of the despot who sits on that throne.

[[Nichole Nordeman, "Gratitude"]]

28 April 2009


I'm not sure what compels me to post anything today, of all days. I haven't written for at least six months for various reasons that I won't go into now, and I was sporadic - at best - for the few years before that.

There's something that is beginning to compel me. And I do not know what it is.

Over the past year, I have struggled in trying to rediscover some of the things that I love, but that I have lost in the transition to 'adulthood' - the transition to working six-hour blocks of time instead of attending classes sporadically; to cleaning up not only after myself, but trying to serve my husband by doing the same for him; to having 'adult' relationships where previous friendships are maintained but not furthered; to feeling like I'm censoring myself.

Now, don't get me wrong. I count all things, even writing freely in such arenas as this blog, loss for the sake of Christ and for the purposes to which He has called me. 

But I fear I have lost all ability to be open with others about where I currently am in life. The arenas with which I am the most comfortable all seem to have been taken from me, and I have yet to adjust successfully. 

Which might be why, tonight, I have just written my first song since last fall. I fear there are a hundred songs rolling circles in my head that will never see any light whatsoever, for I never let myself focus on recording such things anymore - perhaps I need to let go all the connotation and dreams I associate with whatever music I might claim as 'my own'.

I am just a beggar who gives alms.

That line sticks with me these days. Who am I to even consider that my life should go where I want it to, instead of to where God has so meticulously planned every detail? 

But how can I know? How can I be sure that what God has for me isn't music or graduate school or book-writing or a hundred other things that I have dreamed of since I was 3 years old, standing at the window and singing hymns?

How my faith falters! 

But I have no other choice in this waiting game, and I know God will grow me in patience - apparently, He sees in my future a great need for it.

Regardless, I may begin posting here again more often; though I will certainly try to control my ranting and focus more on other things. Maybe I'll just start writing music again.

It would certainly be about time.

Listening to: "The Beggar Who Gives Alms" from downhere's Ending is Beginning
Reading: Ecclesiastes and The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova



©Alyssa Kate Reynolds (April 27, 2009)

I wish I knew how this is meant to go together - 

how it shines with provision when the other side is found.

I wish I knew how this is to be processed by my heart - 

how to react to Your steady hand as I stand upon its ground.

But I guess this is where faith meets its feet -

I guess this is where I find that I need You.

I wish I knew what it is my heart is truly wanting - 

what it is it wants from this life and from its time.

I wish I knew what it is that is worth the minute’s ticking - 

what brings You the most praise, and what brings me less of mine.

But I guess this is where faith meets its feet - 

I guess this is where I find that I need You.

Can I rest in You tonight? In the place beneath Your wings,

can I carve away a little place and hide?

Can I rest in You tonight? In the throne-room, at your feet,

can I lay here and weep in the deep and wide?

And I guess this is where faith can’t be found on its own - 

I guess this is where I find that I am not alone!

In this beautiful hollow, beneath Your able wings - 

I know that I am safe here, in the presence of my King.

And I can rest in You tonight.