Rise

My son is convinced that one, just one, of his nightmares was real. When the night spills over the blue sky, and the house creeks to the tune of the witching hour, he remembers it. “Do demons look like aliens?”

The same question, always. “They can, but Jesus will make them go away.”

“I know, but He took a long time to make them go away.”

We discuss the settling of houses, and how they have to get comfortable at night just like we do. I remind him that shadows often look like scary things just like clouds can resemble bunnies. These conversations almost convince him it was just a dream. Was it?

But, the dark haunts all of us, morphing worries into nightmares. Failures are monsters. Most people in my line of work experience so many failures, they often lose sight of their purpose underneath all the wounds. Success is intangible; a ghost, and sometimes is takes a very long time to get a clear look at it.

I worry about my little guy and the scars he’s developing at such a young age. But as we talk about shadows and monsters, holy week creeps by us and taps me on the shoulder, “Remember the curtain torn in two, the earthquake, rocks splitting open…the bodies of holy people rising from their tombs and appearing to many people? (Matthew 27).”

They weren’t the monsters—they weren’t aliens, or zombies, or anything that dwells in the dark splatter of night. They were spirits of victory. It took a lot of pain and blood for them to rise…it took a moment at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when God stepped away…and oh, did it seem like he was gone too long; utter forsaken agony, when all seemed lost…

…for Jesus to slay the nightmares. We must remember the nightmares have already been defeated.

As we carry our own crosses with monsters dumping humiliation after fear after pain upon us, and God seems so far away—we can take faith steps. We can breathe in faith and blow away the impossibilities, nodding our heads at the scary things rising, that are, in fact, signposts to victory.

Beginning

He said, “It is finished,” and a miracle bud formed,
Blossoming into our holy garden.

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Photo by John Hoopingarner

It blooms within the belly-laughs of children,

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Dancing among the shadows,

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And finds its way over the fences we’ve built.

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It curls through our fingers
And in the way He made us to create.

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There is beauty here

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  Here

"That's why God made the cat. We illustrate honesty. And brilliance. And divine beauty..."

And here 

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in this magnificent garden.

"fallen leaves in living water"; photo credit, John Hoopingarner

“fallen leaves in living water”John Hoopingarner

Keep your eyes on The Son,

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And you will smell its perfume forever.

Photo John Hoopingarner

Photo John Hoopingarner

Lord of the Flies

When I was little, maybe around five, the front of our house was coated in flies. They came with the dairy farm up the road, buzzing around the faces of cows and outdoor kids, flying in homes as doors were opened. We swatted those pests like no one’s business.

I liked to sweep my arm up and down the exterior wall, making the flies flee in a wave, only to find them coating it like black wallpaper a few seconds later.

It was as if they swallowed the wall beneath – the one stacked and mortared by my parents after work and on weekends. Mom and Pop layered bricks and pounded in beams for ten years, only to have an entire side hidden by flies.
My grandma could catch them in her hand. It was awesome. I took up the hobby for a while until I got bored. What’s one fly in the hand?

But, the dairy farm closed and the fly wall disappeared. They would bring the cattle in for winters, but we were never plagued with flies like that again.

I take that back. They don’t come in buzzing, poo-nesting hordes, but dark things swarm in my face, blocking my sight as I head toward Easter. Maybe it’s the same for you. As we walk toward the Cross this month, the overstuffed schedules and crossforblogheartaches lay heavy. The misspoken words, the mistakes enshroud us. Steps become shuffles and we try to catch at least one of them but what’s one in the hand? Where do we put it?
But that Jesus, He never stops working His Grace. He reminds us He already walked the horde up the hill. He let it devour His body so we could be free of it. He let His love pour down red until every single thing that plagues us is washed away. What’s underneath is His own custom-made design.

There may be flies, but they will forever be frozen in winter.