The story behind the theme of my 2019 release: Then Sings My Soul

I think one of God’s favorite things to do is to make and shape people. Of course I can’t speak for Him, but the works of God’s hands are mentioned not infrequently throughout the Bible, how God sculpts the land and the heart, and how He creates artists, too.

Moses talks about an artisan named Bezalel who may have been one of the earliest lapidarists.  Exodus 31:5 (NLT) reads, “[Bezalel] is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!”

And in Isaiah 64:8 (NLT) we read, “And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand.”

Jakob, the main protagonist in Then Sings My Soul, is a lapidarist–one who works with and fashions stones and gems. Jakob’s father (Josef) was a lapidarist, too.

This is a piece of raw aquamarine, the sort of stone Josef  would have worked with and passed on to Jakob in the story.

I used the trade and theme of lapidary in this novel because my grandfather was a lapidarist, too. In fact, he actually made the stone on the cover of the novel, and you can read more about that providential story in the afterwords in the back of the novel.

As a special treat for you today, here are the actual diagrams and notes my grandfather used to make this stone:

When you read Then Sings My Soul, I think you’ll discover why the theme of lapidary lends itself so well to Jakob and his daughter, Nel. They both start out pretty rough, living in ways not everyone would approve of. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t see the beauty He knows they can become.

The same story can be yours, friend. If you feel dirty and rough, unnoticed, worthless…God sees the new and clean, the priceless and sparkling person He is making you to be.

The work a lapidarist does on a stone is harsh at times. There are cuts and chisels, chunks hacked off and angles shorn. But in the eye of the Lapidarist, all these steps are necessary.

More than that, as He works, the Lapidarist holds you in His hand and never lets go.

What about you? 

Do you have places in your life that need polished? 

Do you wonder where God is in the midst of your journey?

An open poem to survivors: hope has a name

Above the fray.

Above the screaming.

Above the hurt, the fear, the unknown, the uncontrollable, the unattainable, the shame, the injustice, the loneliness, the brokenness, the pain, the shame, the voicelessness, the powerlessness, the rage and the outrage, the frustration, the desperation.

*HOPE*

has a name.

One name above all names.

It’s not a vote or a man.

Not a woman or a stand.

Not a charge.

Not a time.

*HOPE*

Has a name.

A name above all names.

A word.

THE word.

One that raises the dead and heals the wounds and salves the infections and opens the eyes and stops the bleeding and calms the seas.

*HOPE*

Has a name.

One name.

One.

Name.

JESUS.

About the battle: surprising truth about life after #metoo and #churchtoo

***

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while now.

I’ve turned words in my head and started and stopped and prayed and not prayed and prayed some more.

The news cycle has been inundated for months now with cases of sexual abuse from all corners of the country…USA gymnastics, Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein, Andy Savage, the pastor who molested a girl in his youth group, and so many others.

Stories of sexual abuse are everywhere.

But you know what?

Sexual abuse has always been everywhere.

We’re just hearing about it more now.

For a survivor like me, this watershed moment is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing to know fellow survivors are feeling brave enough to speak their truth and seek help and healing. Glory be, it’s a blessing!

But it’s a curse, because every story makes me feel raw and sick and paralyzed with anger and fear all over again.

More often than not, I admit that I’ve wanted to do what Randall Margraves did.The father of not one, but three, of the gymnasts molested by Larry Nassar in the USA Gymnastics case, he charged Nassar in the middle of the courtroom.

Like Margraves, I want 10 minuets.

Five minutes.

One minute alone with each of the people who abused me, and those who enabled them, too. (Sadly, there were several.)

I want to storm their perfectly ordered worlds, where they’ve hidden the secret of what they’ve done to me (and likely to others, too, according to statistics) from everyone.

I want to find a way around the statute of limitations that prevent me from filing law suits and making their lives the hell that they’ve made mine.

I want to write revealing blog posts and victim statements of my own.

I want to make them hurt as bad as I’ve hurt. 

I want them to feel the heinous things I’ve felt and will feel for the rest of my life. (These unending aftereffects are not the result of my own inability to forgive or heal, as I’ve been accused of before. On the contrary, and as science has recently confirmed, like an amputation, some scars never, ever fade this side of Heaven).

That’s what I want.

But.

Like a child having a tantrum, I push and swing and kick and bite at the One who knows better than me…

…the One who wraps His arms around me and rocks my heart and whispers to me to be still…He’s got this…He’ll take care of them.

And He’ll take care of me.

See, we live in a world where the idea of vengeance lends itself to a the false promise of rescuing us from our broken hearts and brokenness.

Hear me out.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t file law suits where law suits are due. I’m not saying we shouldn’t prosecute sexual abusers to the fullest extent of the law. And I’m not saying anyone who has done so in a church should ever be restored to ministry.

Far from it. 

What I am saying is that as survivors, most of us won’t have the opportunity to charge our abusers in a court of law, and for that reason and in general, we need to give the paybacks to the Lord.

As I’ve struggled these last few months, I’ve re-discovered the promises in Psalms 34 & 35 which remind me only the Lord can truly rescue…not only that, He DOES. The Lord is the one who rescues and doles out justice. The Lord is the one who protects and who promises all things secret will be revealed. Nothing hidden will stay that way. Indeed, He already knows it all.

He is the one who rescues.

He is the one who heals.

And He wants to do the same for you, and for the gymnasts, and for the actresses, and for every girl who has ever faced an Andy Savage, or the people who allowed his unconscionable return to ministry, as well as the congregation who applauded his weak apology.

Can I be honest for a minute?

Fretting over feeling helpless against those sick abusers who have robbed me and others, when He promises vengeance to those who steal from the innocent…well, it’s a constant battle for me. Chronic PTSD and the overwhelming tendency for my brain to be in fight-or-flight mode (one of the permanent aftereffects of abuse now proven by medical science) make me want to fight and lash out first, and think about my actions later.

But the Lord wants the opposite.

He wants me to come to Him first.

He wants me to put down my fists and to stop my flailing and my daydreams of having my own day in court, because only He can ever truly deliver me. Only He can ever truly make them pay. Only by forcing myself out of fight-or-flight mode and stepping aside to let the Lord fight for me can I be free.

Staying stuck in a posture of vengeance allows them to steal from me–from us–all over again. And what they stole the first time around was quite enough.

Maybe your fight isn’t abuse recovery or PTSD. Maybe you have another battle you’re trying to fight.

Trust me when I say the Lord wants you to let Him fight your battle. (2 Chronicles 20:15; Psalm 46:10).

He wants to rescue each of us…

…but we have to let Him.

What battle do you need to give to him today? What waters are you struggling to keep your head above? Reach out to His outstretched hands. Hold on to Him.

Let go of the fight that was never meant to be yours, dear one.

Will you let Him fight for you today?

***

My novel, How Sweet the Sound, is a contemporary re-telling of the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, quite possibly the earliest recorded “me too.” More than that, it’s a story of hope and healing and forgiveness.

How Sweet the Sound is my word-prayer for every survivor. 

Would you consider giving one to someone who needs it today?

Click here to purchase from your favorite bookseller today.