An Ugly House by Faith Zazueta

Once the garden of my heart turned into a potter’s field.

In the dark where I cast things I had broken on my own. Full of pride I cried, “I am doing your will!” though the whole time it was my hands that sullied the clay, attempting to play YOU like a child playing dress up in her mothers oversized shoes.

But you knocked on the door of the workshop of my heart, I rose from the wheel, from the place where I toiled. Piecing together remnants of things, projects I had foiled.

I opened the door and tears filled my eyes. “Lord, my house is not clean, you cannot look inside. My table is filthy, I have no chairs. There are cobwebs in the corners and the cupboard is bare.

Every vessel I make is worse than the last, have you not seen the field? My story, my past?”

As you raised your hand and placed it on the door, I saw clearly the hole that it bore. And from your hand there began a light, seeping into the wood, brilliant and bright where the barrier between you and I once stood.

Your voice so sweet drifted in on a breeze, “I have come to dine if I might come in please, I am not concerned with the darkness of sins. I have brought the bread, and I have bled for the wine. I will break it, bless it, and give it, for you, are mine.”

Trembling with apprehension I ushered you in, horrified at the dirtiness and hollowness within.

Before my eyes I watched you inhale until, releasing your breath the shadows paled. The grime melted to nothing and the wheel became clean as you fashioned a table fit for a king. Through the windows, long shuttered, bird song danced and I raced to out to the field to find my broken pieces had seeded giant plants. Their petals reaching high, inclined toward the sun. I gazed in wonder as grass began grow and the shackles of my pain gave way and time seemed to slow.

 

Of all the things I have adored, be glorified more

as my soul becomes poor, as I bow in willing subjugation.

Maker of the morning, you are rising over mourning and

I am filled with a love song.

Be glorified for you have turned my mountains into glory hills. Be glorified for you have turned the pools of my tears to rivers of everlasting life! The night comes, Even so I lift you high anyway!

Peace is coming like a dove and I am overcome because I ran to the valley of my disillusionment, the place where my desires, longings, and dreams went to die. And I found that you made it a place where you might be glorified.

 

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Stretch Marks and Other Things

“Under arm flab be gone in the name of Jesus,” I jokingly muttered as I checked myself out in the dressing room mirror. I had searched this small downtown store from top to bottom for clothes that seemed remotely flattering on me and ended up with three (go figure) to try on. Sighing I peeled the shirt off to try on the next. I startled by the sudden inhalation of my five year old, who upon begging to sit in the corner (moms you know), had exchanged his chattering, for wide, disbelieving eyes.

“Mom, Oh mom!” his little voice exclaimed, filled with the concerned tones of beautiful innocence. “Who cut your sides? What happened, who did that to you?!”Looking down I saw where tiny, now faded stretch marks grace my sides. Some slightly  pink, some deep, some faded, but so much apart of me now that I didn’t give them a second thought.

“They are from you, baby,” I said. No sooner did the words leave my mouth did he voice his question a second time, full of denial. His face so stricken.

“Mom, it’s cuts. They must hurt bad. What happened?! Why did it happen?!”

My answer remained the same, tagging on the explanation that he had to live somewhere before he was ready to face the world. “Good luck with that!” I heard my mom chuckle from the other side of the small boutique, amidst the understanding snickers of a few other ladies close enough to hear our exchange.

Later that day I began to prepare myself for worship service when Jesus dropped a bomb on my spirit. Faith, your scars were not from Anthony, they were for him. As mine are for you. As simple as the conclusion seemed to be, I was floored and flooded with a since of gratitude. The portion of me that loves, nurtures, and cares for my child allowed a deeper understanding to another facet of our amazingly, beyond definable God.

My mind zoomed to a passage of scripture many of us are familiar with,

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”  Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”  John 20:27-28

My suffering, though Anthony doesn’t understand the implications of labor and delivery, was not apparent to him until he was faced with the marks of his 9 month stay. Until his tiny fingers traced the river like marks decorating my sides, indicators of great pain I endured, we as mothers endure. A price made oh so sweet in it’s completion, the fruit of it’s results far reaching and life altering in the most wonderful way imaginable.

It brings tears to my eyes. Oh how painful and sweet the birth of salvation must have been to God. I want to point out to you, I don’t hate my child for the pain of his birth, I do not begrudge him the sacrifice his conception heralded. I love him dearly and I admire his beauty, innocence, growth, and learning. Every facet of his life matters to me and I bask in every new opportunity I am blessed to facilitate for him. My focus is not on the pain, but the intense joy his flourishing brings to mine.

Sweet friend, His hands, His feet, and His sides are proof that He feels the same way about you. His pain was not from you, but rather for you and he has never regretted saving you, not one minute.

My mind is pacing and if I’m still I can feel the beat of a thousand ants crawling under my skin. In these times the pressure is so great I feel like a balloon.

Perhaps one day you’ll finally pop. NO! I won’t.

I’ve learned from experience food doesn’t fix this, neither does Xanax, nor pacing or the constant dialogue turning within my mind and heart. It will only get worse. I head upstairs to my bedroom. It isn’t long before my speakers are blazing and I am standing in the center of the room, crying my eyes out, completely overwhelmed. No longer by the ceaseless banter in my head but rather by the fact that He’s there. I can feel His spirit. His arms envelope me as I sing “you’re the God of miracles,” over and over and over and over, so absorbed. Until I can think of nothing else. Until my tired mind and body believes just as much as my heart and soul does. I should have done this an hour ago but I tried to do it myself again. Again.

Almost no one knows about these times in my life. How awful they feel, how absolutely crippling they have the potential to become. Sometimes it feels like a fox whose tail is on fire running through a field of dry wheat. A conflagration fast and steadily growing at a rate I can’t possibly control. And that’s the key. I can’t control it, but if I will just let myself get alone with God, He soothes those raw edges. Those unbearable moments when speaking to people is like sandpaper and getting myself together just isn’t happening. When regret and temptation and fear coalesce into a tidal wave of anxiety, depression, worry, what ifs, and whys. I find divine comfort in the truth. He is greater than even this. And I find that praise drives the fear away and I can face this moment, this second, the tomorrows. Fear never sleeps but neither does God.You don’t have to wait till your in a sanctuary to invite Him into your chaos. He’s ready and willing. Never once have I ever walked alone.

 But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.- Psalm 3:3

 

 

 

Sabotaging Worship

The thrumming tones of worship swirl throughout the room. A smile of adoration tugs at the corner of my lips. There’s a sweet tug, much like the one on my lips, moving my heart. Like a poppy, inclining it’s petals to the sky when the sun rises. My heart begins to unfurl and everything in me is arrested in wonder. But then it happens, No no not again, my mind rebels. I can feel the doubt like a vine searching out the fortified walls of my focus. Feeling around for cracks in the mortar, soft places, newly patched areas currently a work in progress. My hands that just a moment ago felt light as clouds suddenly feel like I’m one of those people who visit monuments and take photos pretending to hold them up for fun. Only the weight is real. To my dismay, as the images of previous sins, thoughts, and a multitude of other “infractions” come rushing to the forefront I can feel the pull to drift in self recrimination. To abandon His wonder and wander in my own sea of things I can’t seem to forget even though God has.

Satan comes at me in whispers that, if ruminated on, swell until they becomes an outright noise. Static threatening to drown out my focus on God. He’s a thief and with a few choice phrases he has robbed me, and those that God would have me minister to, of their blessing. Would it surprise you if I said satan didn’t just rob me but that I let him? I’m willing to bet that you have too.

Sometimes during worship, I must take a deep breath. I speak to that voice of chaos and condemnation, “Shut up for I go before my king and He has said in His word that I am to come boldly,” “I am holy because His grace stands between me and the chasm of sin,” “Through Jesus I am whole and free indeed.” And then, I lift my hands anyway becoming a worshiper once more instead of the weightlifter sin dictates I become. Seriously, I speak to the enemy. I even speak to myself because sometimes you are your greatest enemy. Command silence in the name of Jesus and seize focus as you seek His face. You will not be disappointed sweet friend.

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5

The Food Lion Incident

Almost two years ago my husband and i had a (then) four year old and a mortgage to maintain. I found myself rushing into Food Lion. There were some things I had forgotten. I found myself remembering my WIC vouchers. So I  pulled them out and began to go through the items listed. There were a couple gallons of milk available to me because I did not get them on my previous trip. “Hmm I can cook the the extra,” I thought. I began to walk down the aisle and a lady in a nurse uniform came my way. Very nice looking. In her hands she carried a few items and in the other a key chain that caught my eye. It was one of those cute girly things we all love with a sparkling cross on it. You know the type of key chain they advertise at Bible book stores. I can remember smiling at her as she made her way down, a compliment on the tip of my tongue. However, her eyes went to my cart and the bread, cheese, and milk it held, then to the voucher in my hand. Her mouth pulled down into a sneer and her eyes narrowed as she then made a show of pursuing me up and down. Shaking her head in disgust, mumbling about “those people” she went on her way. Her assessment stopped me in my tracks. It was like I had been punched in the gut. Panic rose and a knot formed in my throat. I pushed my cart with shaking arms searching for an aisle without blobs people had become through the lens of my tears. In those moments I felt so sick I actually thought of putting everything back. In 20 seconds this random woman whom I identified with as a sister because of a symbol I love ripped me to shreds. Made me feel like some bottom feeder. How sad is that? I made my way to the register where I got my groceries. I never went back to get WIC again.

This experience has played in my mind many times over the past couple of years. I can still remember her eyes and the moment my line of thought was crushed. It was a very difficult lesson for me. But I realize for the place I was at in Christ, he was teaching me that key chains and stickers on the backs of our cars do not matter.When he is not in your heart they are just symbols, empty noise to a God who revels in song. I would ask us to examine ourselves and if we have outward symbols that represent Christ, whether is be crosses on our jewelry, religious tattoos, etc. Now that I have come into a deeper relationship with Christ  I also recognize that her contempt was not even worthy of my reaction. But I had the reaction none the less and the pain of that moment was very real. Make sure that these things are not beautiful symbols that reflect the exact opposite of what we say and do. People are watching the body of Christ. It would serve us well to fulfill the call and reflect him.

 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.-

2 Corinthians 3:18 (NIV)