Looking Back

looking back over the year "Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up."

I sifted through posts from summer of 2011. Tears welled and my heart was yanked. The back of my mind held the knowledge that there were some gut ripping posts in the old archives of the Brenner Bunch blog; posts from before it was Brenner Bunch - posts from before Brenner Bunch was even a possibility.

As I scrolled through the weighted words I so easily wrote onto those pages for the world to see, I encountered thick emotions. Memories flooded of a painful and yet significant summer for a college girl who hopped couches and slept in her car, trying to find Him in the mess and brokenness of life.  As the pages of my story unfolded on that little blog for (in actuality) few to read, I somehow praised Him and sought Him and loved Him. In the midst of my most anguished time. Almost every post began with broken and weary words as these:

"Selfishness and sorrow overtook them both stripping off any righteous cloak; Respect and honor were wiped off Adultery, lust.. sin, with the same dirty cloth.

I walked in unprepared not ready to see you bare.. instead of running I simply stared.

There, where anger should appear tears began to glisten unbearable and torturous thoughts screaming through my ear.

My heart was already torn, I thought completely, I didnt think it possible to fit another thorn. But there I stood a new ache now born."

But these posts would each end with such hope, submission, declaration of His goodness:

"So here I am:

Take my heart Mold it as clay, constructing your way In my soul, sustain your stay This I pray, in your Sacred Name. Now, declaring an end to sins control God gives me everything and more He engulfs my very soul, making me whole Filling the largest gap, but also the little cracks He holds my hand when I cannot stand.. A child filled with sins A child not quite worthy And still yet, "daughter" is what He calls me.

You who created the earth in seven days You think of me in all sorts of ways. You who made the mountains form You think of me and calm my storm. You think of me and take my pain. You who made the ocean vast You think of me and clear my past. You who parted the big Red sea You, the Lord almighty, think of me, and forever I shall praise thee."

Looking back four summers invited memories that sting; but also a smile of peace. I made it. I'm breathing and I'm still here, alive and well. My trust in Him has never been more grounded. Knowing how God is redeeming my heart, understanding ways that He is restoring my tired soul, and seeing how present He was to me in that very real brokenness... it blesses me. It's comforting knowing that He is reliable even in the darkest of nights. Remembering that though I was utterly torn to shambles and feeling like a worm, I still found Him, because He was there. This thing of finding Him in our ever present brokenness isn't just a saying, isn't pretend, isn't for random people who have a strong sense of imagination - it has a genuine existence. Will you search for it with me? Will you chase His freedom and His heart? What do you have to lose?

My hope is to share this very real Truth with you; because it is a freedom we are all created to live in. The Truth that brokenness remains to exist and yet freedom is still accessible through Him.

I fell in love with this piece of scripture the moment I read it: "Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord's name; they will be an everlasting sign of His power and love." Isaiah 55:13

What beautiful promises of flourishing, glory, honor, worth-it-ness.

How do you find Him in your brokenness? How has He been present in the darkest of dark nights?

Learning to fall in love with His love letter,

Natalie