Saturday, January 29, 2011


I told Him I'd meet Him early this morning.
Really early.

I used to do it nearly every day, but it's something I have to fight (discipline myself) to do. Of late my habit had slipped and I'd left Him waiting there alone, while I pressed snooze again and again and then jumped out of bed with barely enough time to shower and prepare myself for the day. "Promise.... I'll meet with you this afternoon..."

...But afternoon slips into evening and there's always something to do. Something to take up my time. Things that are so trivial can seem so urgent (putting on makeup before stepping out of the house, eating a meal, shooting off an email) while the truly urgent things are treated trivially. It's because they're the invisible realities--the things that can't be touched or seen are the things that we need more desperately than air, or food, or water.

It isn't that I'd ignored Him completely. He's a part of every moment of my day, in a way. I breathe my thoughts to Him almost as naturally as talking to myself. I try to invite Him into every moment, every emotion, every decision. But the quality time just hasn't been there. The purposeful times of setting everything else aside to gaze in His eyes and give Him my undivided devotion. He deserves so much more than the crumbs left over from my day; than the sleepy moments before my eyes drift shut and my tired mind fades to sleep!!

Last night, we had a talk. He laid it out for me pretty clearly. I had typed some words to a friend that made me sound so close to God, like I had it pretty much together. But He had been reading over my shoulder, apparently, and was not impressed by my piety.

"What was that, Dani?"
"Those words... they sounded so right. They made you sound so completely devoted to Me. But words are cheap and your heart has been distracted."

My heart burned with shame. He was right and I knew it. A marriage wouldn't last all that long if I were to treat my husband this way. Why would I think my relationship with God could work without 100% of my effort? All at once my heart ached to be held by Him again, to be alone in our secret place together in the quiet moments of the morning like I had been in the habit of doing for so long. But the shame also made me want to pull away; to do some kind of penance before I tried to draw near to Him again. Isn't that how it always works? The enemy's subtle ploy to keep us from Him: guilt.

"No, Danielle. Don't do that either. I forgive you. I wouldn't be drawing you back if I didn't want you back. I want your heart and your devotion more than anything and I'm not going to put you on a guilt trip or hold you at arm's length until you're 'sorry enough'. Just come to me. I'll meet you there."

I did, and He did. I fell asleep with a light heart, with my alarm set and the snooze button looking for another place of employment. I had a date for the morning and I was NOT going to miss it!

...And then the alarm goes off (it's a "piano riff").
So annoying. Doesn't matter if it's crickets chirping, a duck quacking, a motorcycle revving, or harp music: I've tried nearly every sound on my iPod alarm and they all annoy me pretty equally in the morning.

So I scowl at it, groan....and sit swaying on the edge of my bed with my eyes at half mast, like a big dope who can't even think straight, let alone come into the presence of the King of the Universe in a few minutes. Not feeling all that excited anymore. This is gonna take shear willpower.

So I put one foot in front of the other.

I wash my face with fa-reeeeezing cold water.

I tip-toe downstairs and build a fire in the fireplace.

(Sure enough, that dear, faithful Friend was waiting there for me.)

So I sat with Him and wrote in my journal,

"Rose early this morning to meet with my Love. Oh how
good it feels to be here, in the quiet semi-dawn , before a warm, crackling fire, communing with my Lord! Why do I fight for sleep when THIS is what awaits me? In Your presence if fullness of joy. Come, Abba, meet with me here. My heart longs for You."

Now, I'm going to sign out and get to bed so I can do it again tomorrow; re-build the habit. But I write this to encourage you, if you've perhaps let your intimacy with the Almighty take back burner, to come back to Him. Rekindling the love in your heart is an act of will, most often; not emotion or feeling. But He understands that and He wants quality time with you so, so much. Join me in intentionally cultivating your relationship with Him, and oh, how we will rejoice His heart.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Snowy Cove

Last night I went to bed with great anticipation because I could hear it blowing outside, and the weather guys had all been in a tizzy about the big storm to come. I think this is the most snow I've seen come down in one night. (Outside of Nome.) :)

Rejoicing at the chance to experience this New England coast, draped in white.

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve...?"
(Job 38:22-23)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Grens and I are back from two weeks in the Sunny South. Florida was wonderful, and not just because of the palm trees, lizards, and waves. The Lord blessed us with sweet fellowship every place we went... and I found myself so full of gratefulness for that! I already posted my thoughts about the Romanian church we visited, but I wanted to mention the dear couple in Jacksonville who we stayed with. Gloria and Roger's hospitality was overwhelming!
They've loved Elisabeth for a long time; first meeting after Gloria's sister was tragically killed in an accident and Gloria took the care of her two nieces. God led her to Elisabeth, who has written several books on suffering, loneliness, and loss... and Elisabeth's wisdom and talk about the sovereignty of God broke through the haze of depression that Gloria was living in. Since then, Elisabeth and Lars have had a very dear place in Roger and Gloria's heart, and they treated us like royalty while we stayed in their home! Gloria is in my mind, the epitome of a Southern Belle. :) Gracious and soft with the sweet southern twang. We took a beautiful ride around a golf course with Elisabeth one afternoon... until we got kicked off by a cranky golf pro. Oops.
Roger is a pastor, and we enjoyed several deeply meaningful discussions about the Holy Spirit, the fullness of the Christian life, and the reality that God is to the believer; the necessity of practicing the presence of God. To me, these discussions with this caring, wise pastor were like a direct gift from God. I had been asking God questions in my prayers lately about the very topics we discussed... asking Him to teach me things I wasn't understanding and guide me into a fuller relationship with Him. I did not have all my questions answered, and in fact perhaps my appetite for more knowledge about these themes was whetted. But I was blown away by the confirmation that God sees my desires, hears my prayers, and is reaching out for me at the same time that I'm reaching out for Him. There are no coinscidences when God orchestrates your life.

After Jacksonville, the Grens and I moved on to Orlando, staying with a wonderful couple there for a few days. While there I met up with my friend Chelsea. I haven't seen Chelsea in TWO LONG YEARS and wow, what a treat to spend the day with her! She drove an hour and a half each way to be with me which left me pretty incredulous. :) We were on a missions trip together to Asia 4 years ago (Yikes has it really been that long?) And have been dear friends ever since. Not only did we enjoy an awesome Indian lunch-- (have I ever mentioned that I adore Indian food? Almost to the point of freaking out when I see the word "tandoor?") --We talked, talked, and talked some more. We prayed together. We admired each other's hair which had changed since two years ago. All that jazz.
We also hit the mall. Found some funky glasses and took a miriad of pictures with them, making some pretty frightening faces in the process (this is one of the milder shots). It occured to us after a while that the lady behind the register just might be glacing at us askance, so we moved on to other entertainment.
The best was when we walked through the 'old lady' section of the mall and decided to find the frumpiest outfits we could, then try them on and laugh at each other. The dressing room was filled with the sound of our stifled giggles and then outright belly laughs.
I can't believe I'm posting this shot.
Please don't kill me Chels.
Ah, what friends I have! I simply adore people who like to be crazy and random. Chelsea, you are amazing and it was such a delight to spend the day with you. What a blessing it is to have a friend who shares the passion of my heart: Jesus.

And then there are THESE wonderful people! My amazing Great-Aunt Ginny, second cousin Sherry, and um...third(?) cousins Jenny and Becky! The Grens and I happened to be staying very near my family, and so I spent the morning and afternoon with them on Sunday. WOW, I love them! It makes me sad that I only see them once every one or two years because they are just awesome. Dear Aunt Ginny reminds me so much of my Grandma Sobie, her sister, who passed away the day before I turned 16. Her mannerisms, her voice, her sweet caring spirit make me feel like I'm with Grandma again and I love her so much. It was a gift to be with my Florida family.

Can't forget...I promised Mumsie some pictures from my birthday celebration in the everglades. :) Steve Irwin's influence lives on in my life; I adore animals and even reptiles. And alligators are just--just so cool. So prehistoric and daunting.

Yay! I've finally held an alligator! One step closer to actually wrestling one!
(I'll have you know that I fought an awful urge to photo edit the band from around his mouth, because it just isn't quite as cool to hold an alligator, even a baby one, when there's a rubber band holding his jaw closed. But I didn't. Integrity restrained me.) Isn't he absolutely darling!? Never before have I thought an alligator was "cute" but this fellow completely charmed me.
The airboat ride was thrilling. Something about feeling the wind in my face... I LOVE it.

We passed a tree with several vultures in it, and I shouted up at one, "Could you give me a profile shot?" He obligingly turned his head for the camera and got a laugh out of all of us on the boat!

And that, my friends, is the end of my Florida story.

You see, a few days before we left, Mr. Gren took a nasty fall down a flight of stairs and landed on me and the dog I was holding. (Cute little white puffy thing which can be seen at the beginning of the post.) Max and I were bruised but fine; Lars not so. He fractured a rib and he is in horrendous pain. Please pray for him. If you think of it, I'd appreciate prayers for strength and patience as I care for both Elisabeth and Lars now. It's a little difficult at times! I know that women are the weaker sex and all that, but seriously: most men are such babies.
...Inflamatory remark, I know. 'Nuff said about that.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This evening I accompanied the Grens to a Romanian church here in Hollywood Florida.
It was a beautiful service...all in Romanian. The music was beautiful, the choir was joyful and whole-hearted, and the spirit was warm and kind.

In 2009-10, many people with whom I always thought I'd journey life with came to a fork in the road and decided to take a seperate path. Much of that happened during the months that I was in Alaska. Not trying to be overly self analyzing here (because that's always annoying), but some new emotions were formed in me that were foreign and unwelcome. Cynisism and an oh-so-bewildered heart--somewhat raw in places--still to this day leaving my eyes moist at random moments.

Tonight, though, with these stranger-siblings, I remembered the beauty of this heavenly family. Oh, I know that if I belonged to that church, I'd probably be aware of little hypocrosies, little divisions, a little dirty laundry here and there. But I had the priviledge of standing back and observing the big picture, and I remembered that Christ's church IS beautiful. And His people are flawed, but beautiful.

It feels as if I just took a deep breath of fresh air, and it makes me long for the air of the Celestial City. It makes me long to hug the people who I've come to associate with sadness. And I will, either on this side or the other. The thought doesn't erradicate the sting, but it brings me joy. It disintegrates the cynicism. He will make all things new. Even His bride.
Oh, Lord, how beautiful she will be!

Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This morning I opened my cataract-ridden eyes, rubbed my swollen arthritic joints, popped a few pills and realized that I am a year older. Arg! Me achin' bones!

I'm in Florida with the Grens right now, enjoying the sunshine but missin' my family. No complaints though... Never before have i worn short sleeves and flip-flops on my birthday. Rather nice. :) also enjoying the memory of an early birthday dinner at Macaroni Grill with my family... Not to mention all the cards I read with smiles this morning. Oh how good the Father blessed I have been this year! It makes me anticipate what this next year will hold. What new opportunities will He bring me to glorify Him? What dreams will He give and fufill? What about Himself will He reveal to me?

Also, I held an live baby alligator yesterday.
It was a very, very cool birthday present but unfortunately I didn't get to keep him. :(

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Observances I made while Elisabeth was getting her hair done in the salon today:

1. Two people spoke negatively when asked how their Christmas went and based their feelings on the "business" of it.

2. In a conversation I overheard, a (very Bostonian) man said something to the effect of "I have more gadgets than cadda has livah pills...and cadda has a lot of livah pills!" I began wracking my brain for what "cadda" was and why he/she/it might need liver pills. AhHA! After about three minutes it came to me. Cadda. "Carter". Maybe. Why Carter has a lot of liver pills and how this particular man knows the quantity, I have no idea.

3. I believe I have been reading the same book every time I've sat waiting on her in the salon since July. I should be done with it one cut and one perm from now. I hope. It's been a long term comittment, for sure.

4. Why are the pictures of the walls of a salon always so bizarre? Does anyone walk in, see the poster, gasp and say "Yes, yes, YES! Make me look like THAT! ...And can you duplicate her makeup on me while you're at it? "

5. Elisabeth looks absolutely beautiful when her hair's done up. :)