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Oct 2022 · 548
Alyssa Underwood Oct 2022
Through drift of days
comes rest in space and silence.
What’s past is ours to release,
God’s to redeem.
Scattered seeds of truth,
once sown in love or violence,
when yielded to His hands
may bloom in glorious gleam.
Oct 2022 · 593
Alyssa Underwood Oct 2022
Brothers and sisters in Christ, would we look at Jesus hanging on the cross in excruciating torment, gasping for every agonizing breath, pierced through, covered in blood and bearing our offenders' sin along with ours, only to say, "It isn't enough! It is NOT finished. There is still more to be accomplished, a greater payment yet to be rendered. You did not complete the work or satisfy the debt!"...?

For here is the thing: if we don't believe that His sacrifice was enough to sufficiently pay the debt for everything they have done to us then how can we ever possibly believe it was enough to pay for all we have done to Him? And if we don't believe that then how can we be saved?

This is certainly not to say that the process of working through all the issues of forgiveness is not an extremely steep and difficult climb or that it does not take time. It is! It does! Sometimes it takes years to reach the top, where we are completely set free from the pain and emotional struggle of it. But the choice to forgive, the decision to actually begin the process and step onto the path is not optional for any true disciple of Jesus Christ, for He has clearly called us all to take up our cross and die daily and to count ourselves dead to sin already. We have been commanded and empowered by Him to forgive, and He Himself will work it fully in and through us if we will only yield to Him.

But when we refuse to forgive, we are only digging through the trash heap and holding ourselves prisoner within it, yet somehow convinced we will find gold there. Do we not understand how ludicrous this is? We are beloved and royal children living as self-defeating street urchins—fists up, ready for a fight and buried up to our necks in a back-alley dumpster looking for rotten scraps. The King is calling, "Come out of there, beloved child! Come home to Me and feast!" But we respond, "No, not yet! There are still more *****, decaying bags in here to scavenge through. I haven't checked that dark, rat-invested corner yet. There may be something good in there for me!" What?! Are we insane? Stop digging, let go of the bag, let Him lift you once and for all out of the dumpster and come home! Realize who you are and Whose you are!

Authentic and heart-changing forgiveness begins when we look honestly and humbly at the offense, call it what it is without minimizing it or making excuses for it, feel the full weight of the painful debt incurred against us by the offender, realize that it is simply not within his power or means to ever sufficiently pay us back in a way that could restore us to wholeness (even if he desperately wanted to), and then look fully to Jesus, trusting Him to bear the entire weight of it for us and to provide complete payment for all of the damages done to us.

It comes when we decide to give the debt 'note' fully over to Him, transferring it to Him, like a mortgage company transferring (for their own protection and profit) a high-risk house note to a different lender and thus releasing the debtor from any further obligation to re-pay us, breaking the chains of our previous expectations off of him and putting them all onto Christ. And when we do, we will find that in the transfer we come out far richer than we were before the offense was even made and the debt ever incurred.

In forgiveness we have to both lay down something and take up something, for our heart refuses to ever walk away with nothing to cling to. We have to hand our offender's heavy debt completely over to the One Who willingly carried it on Himself, along with every one of our own sins and sorrows, all the way to the cross, nailing it there and paying it in full, and then we have to receive afresh the gift of His infinite fullness in exchange.

With every offense (small or great) there arises a subsequent path of forgiveness. The greater the offense, the steeper and longer the climb to get to the end; but the steeper and longer the climb, the more spectacular and rare the views along the way and from the top. Whenever someone hurts us, we can either stay in the barren valley with the offense, miserably imprisoned by it and trying hard to keep our offender chained to it as well, or we can kick loose the chains and set out on the less-traveled mountain trail leading to freedom, healing and rest. The trailhead is the cross, and Jesus is waiting to meet us there. All we have to do is take the first step onto the trail and begin to walk it with Him as our intimate Companion and determine (and keep daily determining) to stay on it as long as it takes and one step at a time with Him as our faithful Guide, for He will certainly lead us all the way to the summit.

And we will certainly need an all-powerful, all-knowing and ever-present Guide on such an adventurous trek, as this trail is ever-winding, full of dangerous switchbacks, difficult ascents and narrow, hidden passes; but the scenery will be breathtaking and the fellowship life-changing. As we travel further and higher our perspective will dramatically change along the way, and the offense back down in the valley will become smaller and smaller in the distance until we can barely make out more than a shadow of it for all of the beauty surrounding and enfolding us. It is not necessarily that the memory of it will ever completely be forgotten so much as it will be brilliantly reframed by an exceedingly better and higher view.

At the end of the trail there lies a secret alpine garden, lush with various kinds of healing fruit that rarely grow ripe on the lower slopes of the mountains and do not grow at all in the valley of unforgiveness. Their taste, fragrance and restorative powers are beyond anything that might be understood or even imagined by those who have never dared nor sensed the need to venture any further than the foothills. Nevertheless, the garden is always open and the fruit readily available to any and all who would choose to make the glorious journey together with their LORD...and none who do will ever be sorry they came.

So why do we so often struggle to do it?

I think when we look honestly and microscopically at hindrances to forgiveness it is idolatry that stands out as the most culpable suspect. For when we forget that everything we need and most desire is found in Christ and that everything we have comes from His loving, wise and faithful hand and then someone else fails to give to us what we are so firmly convinced we need from them or takes from us what we are so sure we require, it is easy to feel justified in withholding from them our complete pardon.

It is idolatry as well which blinds us from seeing how deeply and desperately we ourselves depend on God's mercy. For when anything becomes more important to us than intimacy with Christ, we are quick to overlook our own grievous impediments to that intimacy and therefore quick to overlook Christ's unequivocal command to forgive as we have been forgiven. So then we cannot fairly approach forgiveness without humbly keeping ever before us the awareness of our own stubbornly idolatrous tendencies which seem to be always lurking under every prickly bush.

Another common but still idolatrous stumbling block is our failure to grasp and cherish God's absolute sovereignty over us, which then causes us to unduly credit our offenders with power they do not actually have—the power to ruin our lives—and to mistakenly think that by refusing to forgive we can somehow regain from them the stolen upper hand, either by trying to pay them back with evil or by trying to force them to pay us back with good, emotionally holding them prisoner and refusing to unlock the door until we have sufficiently punished them or until they have sufficiently 'blessed' us. This is a prideful self-worship which pre-supposes that our lives and their avenging are best and most safely kept in the control of our own hands and that we are entitled to more 'good' than God Himself is willing to bestow on us. It is also a dangerous exalting of others which wrongly assumes that they have within themselves the ability to grant us enough 'good' to ever fully settle their deficit account and satisfy our wounded hearts.

When we forget who we are and all we have in Christ, idolatry can also lead us into a more subtle, less honest and in some ways more damaging form of unforgiveness, one that often masquerades convincingly for a time as forgiveness but is far from the real thing. For if our offender himself is the idol whose love and approval we think we cannot live without we may be very quick to make shallow, insincere and enabling offerings to him, trying desperately to quell any conflict and to ingratiate ourselves to him (wanting to retain peace with him at any cost so that we might retain a piece of him and determining to think well of him in the hope that he might think well of us). We will call it forgiveness and think it truly is but wonder why the issue never seems to be quite settled in our heart, why he never seems to be able to meet the standard of the 'high place' on which we have erected him and why we always seem to be trying to charge his offenses against us to everyone else's account.

As long as our 'pardon' is rooted in fear of rejection, resentment and abandonment (or in any other insecure human emotion), it cannot qualify as genuine forgiveness or obedience to Christ and therefore cannot bring any measure of real peace or lasting resolution to our hearts or to the relationship. It will only keep us locked up within our own limited and easily drained ability to love, suffocating both ourself and our offender, causing resentment on both sides and robbing us of the joy of entering into a deeper love that can only come from trusting in and drawing upon the overflowing fountain of Christ's love. True forgiveness will always extend out of that flow of intimacy with Him and out of genuine worship of Him, for we can only walk like Him when we walk closely with Him and crave Him above all else.

Also it should be noted that forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. Forgiveness of an offender depends only on your relationship with the LORD. But true reconciliation with an offender is very much dependent on their repentance. But whether or not they ever repent, whether or not we ever find true reconciling peace and healing WITH them, we can find peace about them and love them from a distance, as we let Jesus heal us on that journey and fill us with His love, peace and joy.
Alyssa Underwood Jul 2022
Death calls to death while true “deep calls to deep.”
Old rotting, cursed cadavers on our backs
with cravings crying foul for what self lacks
excoriate our wills with passion’s seep.
And, then, beyond self-damage to its host,
corpse seeks ignition in its kindred kind,
to plant arousal in another’s mind
and soothe its ego’s appetite to boast.
But Spirit beckons spirit up toward Christ,
to rise empowered o’er sin-flesh we bear
by setting mind on His desires and care
whose blood was cost at which our peace was priced.
If Christ be in us, let us then obey
and spur each other on along the way.
Alyssa Underwood Jul 2022
May the LORD judge between us what is true
and lead us graciously to higher ground,
grant peace to each of us where discord’s found,
correct us when our ways have gone askew.
May we be open to His gentle ****
which keeps and guides us safely back toward home,
stay close upon His heels, not idly roam,
find comfort in His Shepherd’s staff and rod.
He has right paths prepared where we might grow
into His likeness, freed from chaining sin.
And one way or the other He will win—
to sanctify by truth or chastise-blow.
In mercy, loving-kindness, faithfulness
He disciplines His own for Heaven’s bliss.
Alyssa Underwood Jul 2022
A vision of us standing on that Day—
before Christ, eye to eye with souls’ Delight—
ignites heart’s fire to reach toward richest height,
forsake world’s common road for Glory’s Way.
I crave that sacred path—its holiness—
where wisdom and humility join hands,
where purifying difficulty stands
while prudence often feels like loneliness.
Brother, can you see this vision also,
as dross all burns away and gold shines forth,
displaying precious gems of our faith’s worth?
Let’s chase it hard and Christ more closely follow!
In Heaven—fixed on Jesus all the while—
our eyes shall catch, then nod with knowing smile.
Jun 2022 · 1.4k
Hesed Acceptance (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood Jun 2022
Eternally accepted in God’s Son,
His righteousness now credited to me,
I’m pardoned, justified, set fully free.
By grace through faith, hesed is ne’er undone.
No merit of myself on which to stand,
my works of flesh and law won’t favor earn.
But God Himself in Christ, I’d finally learn,
had satisfied each holy, just demand.
And by same grace through faith that justifies,
Christ’s working out His righteousness in those,
by covenant before the world, He knows,
e’er keeps, upholds, protects and sanctifies.
Because in Jesus Christ I am approved,
from trusting in His love I’ll not be moved.
May 2022 · 1.8k
Empty Vessels (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood May 2022
I place my empty vessels with the King.
Once filled with longing, sentiment and pride,
they sated no one’s thirst, though ego tried—
sin, disappointment, sorrow, hurt ’t would bring.
Knowing devilish poison these contained,
reminded old, dead dregs drained from each spout,
all sediment’ry visage I poured out
of Dionysian wine heartstrings had feigned.
Now in God’s presence, as He cleans smeared crocks
from motives, meanings, memories of words
and clears my mind from myths’ entangling cords,
a tale-abating door behind me locks.
I’m freed! The Gospel story’s what I’ll tell
and offer Living Water from Christ’s well!
May 2022 · 1.5k
Let Frailty Preach (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood May 2022
The temporal beauty which fades and falls,
vigor of body that to vale gives way—
dissolutions of bloom—have much to say,
as life’s costly sermon achingly calls:
“Put not your heart’s hope in gifts eyes now see
nor set store by charms easily broken.
Vibrant buds o’er which praises are spoken,
erstwhile by Fall, forgotten shall be.
But in Christ waits sure glory eternal
and by loss here that beauty there’s gaining
its resplendent weight, e’en now attaining
through Jesus intimate gem troves internal.”
God’s wisdom turns decay and frailty’s gruel
into a Homeward driving kind of fuel.
May 2022 · 1.6k
In Quietude (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood May 2022
Staid solitude and silence lend me ease
from mind’s congestion, tongue’s propensive burl
toward chatter’s looping, irritating whirl—
exchanging dervish dust for bonny breeze.
My soul may sing and soar from quiet’s nest
or sit in stillest calm without weight’s care
within the waiting, because God is there
who knows me, hears me, grants me sweeping rest.
The Everlasting God, the LORD o’er all
who understands me, loves me with no end—
most faithful, fervent Confidante and Friend—
pervades the sweet quiescence with His call,
“Here in My peace, come find your heart’s desire.
Serene in Me, soul catches My love’s fire.”
Alyssa Underwood May 2022
Battered by idolatrous affections,
my soul cried out to Him whose love is true
to cleanse my wants and with His grace renew
my thoughts from toxicating past infections.
“Feast on My Word,” He said, “and you shall find
everything you need for restoration
in My promises of assured salvation—
deliverance for spirit, heart and mind.
When trusting Me, I’ll keep your soul in peace
and unfold joy as you learn to obey,
to follow Me upon Life’s Highest Way,
where burdens know My paramount release.
Through longings, losses, trials, sorrows, pains
My Word unleashes monumental gains.”
May 2022 · 2.2k
“Kiss the Son” (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood May 2022
Into the deep, God’s calling me nearer.
Eyes set on Jesus, I feel less afraid
to plumb His holy mysteries, to trade
the shoreline’s shallow surf for currents dearer.
Immersed within God’s Word, He meets me there
with treasures buried underneath the ink,
invites me of His grace-filled seas to drink,
pledging His own inheritance to share.
The love of God! How could thoughts e’er capture
Christ’s boundless waters of sublime delight?
(unmarred, untainted, free from guile or blight)
Yielded, though, heart bathes in, tastes Love’s rapture.
In worship soul can reach to highest bliss
when Jesus is the King that soul doth ‘kiss.’
Alyssa Underwood Apr 2022
The Conqueror of sin and death returned,
ascended to His Throne, His Father‘s side,
where now He intercedes for His bought bride,
as having, through His blood, grace for her earned.
But one day soon He‘ll stand again on Earth.
He‘ll reign supremely as its Judge and King.
Set timer on sin‘s insolence will ring,
and ev‘ryone shall see Christ‘s matchless worth!
The blazing eyes of LORD/Judge/King will harden
as man‘s rebellion‘s snuffed with holy fire—
the proud, indiff‘rent, carnal, thief and liar,
whoever has not fled to Christ for pardon.
So “kiss the Son“ or face Him with your sin.
“Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.“
Apr 2022 · 472
On the Emmaus Road (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood Apr 2022
“How foolish you are, and how slow of heart
to believe what the prophets have spoken!
Didn’t Christ have to suffer [be broken],
then enter His glory [new life to impart]?”
Can you hear these words Christ spoke Easter Day
as He journeyed (resurrected!) with two
who had not yet grasped God’s Covenant view
that Jesus’ shed blood is Hope’s ONLY way?
From Genesis on, God painted pictures
pointing us straight to the cross of His Son
in shadows and types through Providence done—
Jesus fulfills the weight of these Scriptures!
So come, invite Him in! As those two learned,
He’ll teach you, open eyes, cause heart to burn!
Apr 2022 · 1.7k
At the Empty Tomb (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood Apr 2022
“Why seek the Living One among the dead?“
asked angels to a few who‘d watched the Lord
be crucified—His blood and life outpoured,
“He is not here! He‘s risen as He said!“
In days before these women wept in grief
as Jesus‘ lifeless body, wrapped in shroud,
lay buried, guarded, sealed from Paschal crowd,
but by God‘s plan entombment would be brief!
His slaying served full payment for the debt
incurred against Himself by mankind‘s sin.
His raising proved His sacrifice the win
to satisfy God‘s wrath, my debts forget!
Because Christ Jesus died but ever lives,
the sin of all who trust Him God forgives!
Apr 2022 · 1.2k
At the Cross (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood Apr 2022
The Lamb assumed the sin of all the world,
absorbed God‘s holy wrath—the debt sin owes.
Redemption‘s check written with hammer blows,
into remitting sea sin‘s wage He hurled.
For lost, sick souls eternal life Christ bought—
the graced life freely offered through new birth
to those who‘ll humbly hunger for His worth
and trust the vanquishment for which He fought.
By taking up what WE deserve—wrath‘s cross—
Jesus won our victory, laying down
His life, His glory and His heav‘nly Crown
till, as He rose, He overcame all loss!
His sacrifice and risen life receive
when in Christ‘s saving power you believe!
Dec 2021 · 622
Bethlehem (Haiku)
Alyssa Underwood Dec 2021
Wind forgets her moan—
morn's dirge hushed still and silent.
Star heralds brilliance.
Dec 2021 · 1.0k
Christmas Swallow (Sonnet)
Alyssa Underwood Dec 2021
Soaring little swallow, what do you see?
Enroute to Bethlehem from Nazareth,
love’s silhouette, encasing holy breath—
a pair of weary travelers, but three.
Awestruck little swallow, what see you now?
Angelic chorus singing Peace is here!
as shepherds shake in sacred, wondrous fear,
then rush to find a babe and to Him bow.
Resting little swallow, can you see more?
Great star shines brightly ‘gainst the darkened sky
while newborn Light breaks through an infant‘s cry—
God‘s brilliance swaddled, cradled, helpless, poor.
This babe you see in livestock manger lain
created you and does your life sustain.
Alyssa Underwood Dec 2021
Incarnation’s mystery! God came down
in priestly vestments of frail human flesh,
left Glory’s Crown for lowly manger crèche,
Sacrifice born so lost sons could be found!
Our King-Priest grew as Carpenter, disguised,
to build a kingdom that would not be seen
except by those the world marked as ‘un-keen‘—
His ‘sheep too dumb‘ to walk as pride advised.
For just as Christ was birthed in humble state,
so too His kingdom‘s children are reborn
through poverty of spirit, hubris torn,
to enter through the lowly, narrow gate.
And as Christ died for us, then rose to life,
He lives through us when to ourselves we die.
Dec 2021 · 748
Unto Us Is Given
Alyssa Underwood Dec 2021
The perfect Christmas gift—
not because we've been so good
but because we couldn't be

"Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-- The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."  
~ Isaiah 9:1-2,6

"'She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.'"  
~ Matthew 1:21


Nov 2021 · 1.7k
If Help Is Truly Wanted
Alyssa Underwood Nov 2021
Dear drowning soul in blackest sea,
what keeps eyes blind to Mercy’s plea?:

“Come unto Me who bear sin’s load.
Find saving rest from Satan’s goad.”

What angel of light or dark could give
the help you crave that you might live?

There‘s only One can bear your weight.
His cross alone is Freedom‘s Gate.
Alyssa Underwood Sep 2021
The LORD is asking, “Do you trust Me, child?”
And surely He is worthy of all trust,
but visceral reactions oft’ seem just
in keeping soul’s anxieties well riled.
While panic, shame and dread stir doubting winds,
obsessive, tight, compulsive thoughts pour fuel
into this downward spiraling boil of gruel
where toxic interactions breed more sins.
So for relationships I feel unfit,
and now old interests die and pleasures wane,
as each new hope in Earth’s good brings fresh pain,
where dark depression’s presently my bit.
Yet in this wilderness I hear God call,
“Child, look to Me. I am your ALL in all.”

I meditate upon the word of God
to heal a mind that’s broken from the fall,
and lying in morn’s bed I now recall
the former paths of fullness I have trod.
I clear the course of tangling debris
that fogs perspective’s distance-viewing sight
and clogs the narrow way which lets in light,
so with God’s truth I’m able to agree.
I gaze toward the future that is sure,
to glory that is promised out of trial.
I push through lying voices of denial,
rememb’ring my inheritance secure.
So healing first begins by sizing scope,
for in true measure I can grasp true hope.

Long sheltered in the recesses of mind
on pedestals that overshadow truth
are lies which I have entertained since youth
like tape recordings stuck on forced rewind.    
There‘s something of appeal in misbelief,
some comforting, perverted, dressed-up face
which keeps foul strongholds rooted into place
and lets such rotten seedlings harvest grief.  
But I must choose to undermine their message,
uncovering deception’s hidden lairs
whose cultivation grounds for growing tares
leave roadblocks to integrity’s safe passage.
God’s probing, piercing words—what precious gifts!—
can excavate, expose and extract myths.

I apprehend these truths in David’s psalm:
“I’m fearfully and wonderfully made,”
and all my days of life are firmly laid
within the sovereign care of God’s own palm.
And yet another voice keeps creeping out.
“You’re too unfit for blessed community,
hence from belonging full immunity
is your dim lot,” says paralyzing Doubt.
For ‘gainst the Word that says I‘m rightly hewn
rub all the bristling edges of myself,
but would one set forever on a shelf
a Bösendorfer piano out of tune?
No, value is a function of creation,
and He who made has promised restoration.

Restoration’s anchored in redemption,
and my redemption‘s grounded in God’s love.
Nowhere in far reaches man has thought of
could mind unfurl the breadth of such conception.
Sloshing, hesitating in the shallows,
I wander close to shore in Love‘s vast sea.
Then from the swell I hear a coaxing plea
to dive into the deeper wake of hallows.
What‘s this weight that pins my frame from racing
toward His unknown billows of delight?
Do I not trust that He will clasp me tight,
help me bear the fiercest waves I’m facing?
What guile of devils am I heeding here
which keeps me bound by paralyzing fear?

Disheartened by my want for firm resolve
to swim toward agápē’s unplumbed depths
for int’macy with Him who paid my debts—
the only One from sin who can absolve,
I wander, wond‘ring what I’ve missed to see
within my comprehension of Christ‘s love
when He would vacate majesty above
and suffer cruelest death to set me free.
They stripped Him, flogged Him, spit, pulled out His beard,
then pressed a crown of thorns down on His head.
They nailed Him to rough cross to leave for dead—
Creator of the world now by it jeered.
In love this traitor by her King was served:
Christ Jesus bore God‘s wrath which I deserved!

Considering what labors Christ performed
to buy my freedom off sin’s slav’ry block
that of His fullness, with Him, I could walk
in resurrected life (not just reformed),
can I not trust that He will see me through
each trial, tribulation, sorrow, loss
when He would not forsake me at the cross
but carried all my grief and suff‘ring too?
And just as death‘s cold grave could not contain
my Savior but gave way to watch Him rise,
whatever loss my path has to comprise
shall work for me eternal glorious gain.
So while my courage may still be in lack,
the settled thing is there’s no turning back.

Wading through fresh tidal pools of mercy
along a piece of coast that‘s not too wide—
among the crags and caves where stragglers hide,
hoping to evade crowd controversy—
I know I‘ll have to move on before long.
But in the warm meanwhile of the day,
I kneel to rest; and as I start to pray,
my heart begins to open to a song—
a gentle, soothing lullaby I’ve known
sung to the tune of ‘Eventide‘ as hymn,
reminder that this life is fading, dim
but that in Christ I never walk alone.
And as I raise the words, “Abide with me…,”
here comes my Shepherd, walking by the sea.

What now is this waylaying, sin-sick soul?
Diversional winds from cliffside descend.
Where‘s pressing fire my devotions attend?
Brain‘s robbed of sanity, sleep, self-control.
Jesus comes near numb heart in distraction
and bids me again to clean deadwood out.
Jesus, I‘m desperate, drowning in doubt!
Help me expel what‘s needing subtraction!
Discipline, prudence, wisdom, contentment
can work to restore both body and brain,
while worship will lift locked heart from restraint—
its untethering from woe’s resentment.
I won‘t, without wisdom, taste truest Love,
yet Love holds true keys to wisdom above.

Mottling mind’s hazed subconscious sockets—
bedecked by ego’s restless crave for fill—
infections grow to permeate my will,
ladening, with dross, affection‘s pockets.
Foul seepage soon coagulates to plaque,
forces clefts which weaken my foundation,
foments psyche’s stormed disintegration
till half-light’s flushing falls to midnight‘s black.
Yet amid murk‘s rotting, rank confusion
with ev‘ry faculty succumbed to rift,
My Shepherd plucks me fiercely from the cliff,
tending thorn-torn blight with Love‘s ablution.
Healing, though, requires my surrender—
all cooperation I can lend 'her.'

Jesus asked a question at Bethesda,
the pool by which an invalid was lain,
for thirty-eight lost years left in his pain—
twisted, timed, tormenting, teared siesta.
“Do you desire to be made well?” He asked.
“I’ve none to help me!” was the plaintive cry,
then Jesus spoke miraculous reply
that to get up and walk the man was tasked.
That’s not to say all healing will be found
within this present life of ills and woes,
but still I hear Christ probing through the throes
if I am truly willing to be sound.
Or would I rather lie on crippling bed,
an invalid of spirit, heart and head?

Shuffling through some past miscalculations
surrounding toxic breakage of the vines
that ought secure the healthy bound’ry lines  
guarding interpersonal relations—
rememb‘ring my susceptibility
to ego-shuttled, codependent err‘rs
which strain to manage others‘ own affairs
and so invert responsibility—
I ponder if I‘ll ever grow to learn
proper seeds for sowing mutual trust
with vital tools for gently sanding rust
to help stave off a bondship‘s breaking-burn.
One thing I know, that trusting in the LORD
steers love‘s impetus to carry forward.

“I’m not enough and yet too much,” I've read.
Succinctly that describes my current angst,
and I can‘t justify to war against
these arguments which whirl around my head.
I’ve been told, “You’re just a little intense,”
by many people, not just one or two,
and this they voice clangs manifestly true,
as gaping holes defect my bound‘ry fence.
Voluminous in content and in force,
bestowing as prized gifts what isn‘t sought
or wanted by those for whom gifts are brought,
I falter in my need to change set course.
And where it comes to giving what‘s desired,
real competence seems found to have expired.

Someone wrote, “true soul mate is a mirror“—
like limelight they‘ll reveal your unseen faults.
Where no one else delights to search your vaults,
“soul mate“ renders time to be apt hearer.
It matters not, was said, that they don‘t stay,
so long as they‘re an agent for reform—
the one who makes you desp‘rate to transform
by breaking heart and making ego fray.
Danger lies in nuanced underpinnings.
I thought I‘d found my soul mate in abuse
and used “he needs my fuel“ as excuse
to take a twisted game to extra innings.
Here I’ll grant these crazed imaginations
were at core demonic machinations.

Casting down romantic schoolgirl notions
that sin-drenched bonds might fashion souls complete,
I drag bewitching grails to Jesus’ feet—
spurning now to drink past guile‘s potions.
As I linger longer in His presence,
I‘m freshly bathed from marring guilt and shame,
reminded I‘m made whole in Jesus‘ Name—
partaker in the fullness of His essence.
Identified eternally with Christ,
secured by His unfailing love through grace,
one day I‘ll walk perfected face-to-face
with Him from whom true life is all-sufficed.
And as I muse, I taste true heart‘s desire—
rekindling, renewed with holy fire.

Attitude is prime, determinant hinge
on which the door of restoration swings—
deciding what response subconscious brings
and on which morsels mind should bestly binge.
Plenty is dependent on perspective.
Mountain, plain or valley alter sight 
and size by which is measured present, plight.
Simply switching lens can be corrective.
In Christ, Ephesians tells me, I‘ve been raised,
seated with Him in the heavenly realm—
positioned by the One who steers the helm
that Father, Son and Spirit would be praised!
Worship, like a rudder, sets the outlook
to keep me highly grounded in God‘s Book.

Why should I to the worship of false gods
surrender my outlook frivolously?
Idols grab first gaze notoriously,
rob joy as will‘s defenses yield heart‘s nods.
What then? Can I suppose I might steal back
a measure of exuberance through more
skewed genuflecting to gilt calf before—
itself beleaguered, plagued by woeful lack?
Now heed, wayfaring soul of mine, what‘s true:
Creation‘s bounty-goods will make you slave
and with sweet Siren‘s flutes your mind deprave
when to them you lend focus Christ is due.
Lay firm your eyes on Him—pure, restful bed,
cover, fuel, completer, Fountainhead.

Wandering down some cobbled, crowded street,
I‘m nowhere headed, rapt in mindless thought,  
and as I saunter south I happ‘ly spot
a friend long-lost but fiercely longed to meet.
Just up ahead, he’s mixed well in the throng
but might be caught if I push through and race!
Heartbeat quickens. Oh, to see his face,
this one with whom I’m sure I must belong!
Yet when I actually seize him and he turns,
I’m devastated, sunk. It isn’t him.
Then moping northbound—dazed, dejected whim—
I stumble on the One for whom heart burns!
How strange, as I had grappled, chased and shoved,
that I’d been running from the One I loved!

He‘s reservoir for which parched spirit begs,
familial feast cast heart longs to attend,  
elixir fractured psyche craves, to mend,
secure foundation ‘neath soul‘s skittish legs.
Jesus is hearth fire, garden blooming,
joy‘s kiss that welcomes prodigals with tears,
arms’ tender brawn consoling weak ones‘ fears,
shelt‘ring lullaby as nightstorm‘s looming.
Who else can scatter stars, strew mountain snow,
to whet beloved‘s taste for pristine grace?
What other love’s like this, that He‘d embrace
excruciating death to grace bestow?
And best, most faithful lovers of this earth?—
dull pennies next to Christ‘s resplendent worth!


(** — XXXII) [Edited in 9/27-29/21]

Closing the door on chaining obsessions
requires some short-circuiting of thought
previously allowed to flow uncaught
and forge ever-deepening depressions.
Pathways in my brain can be rerouted
by changing interactions with my world,
observing what’s most easily unfurled—
presently what’s to five senses suited.
‘Mindfulness’ can be a Christian practice
and doesn’t have to rest on Buddha’s shelf—
“awak’ning non-existence of the self”—
or from unseen, eternal things distract us.
True mindfulness is found in gratitude—
joyful, eucharisteo attitude.

A biblical version of ‘mindfulness‘
is found in 1 Thessalonians 5,
revealing as God’s will that saints should strive
for ever-prayerful joy and thankfulness.
Pond‘rous gratitude staves off resentment,
greed and pride. As was taught to Timothy,
what‘s created and giv‘n by God should be
received in sacred thanks with contentment.
Creation reflects God‘s bounteous glory
and demonstrates His loving grace and care,
so in same grace and glory we can share
each time we recognize Him in our story.
Ten thousand tiny gifts write each day‘s page,
and he who welcomes most is most like sage.

In restoration, elasticity
of mind is a factor to celebrate.
So please don‘t ever underestimate
the wonders of neuroplasticity.
New brainpaths form and old channels falter,
depending on what choices I might make.
Fresh experience of which I partake
will physically help my brain to alter.
Here‘s one great hope I must now remember:
What’s hardwired today can still be displaced,
and thoughts might soon flow on paths greenly graced,
as I feast my soul’s eyes on brain’s Mender.
Bent mindfulness toward Giver and His gifts
best brings joy‘s healing for my mental rifts.

Realizations that some obsessions
are desires to vicariously ride
the mindfulness of others who don‘t hide
their own keener sensory possessions,
aptly are aiding to turn my focus
from curiosity to understand
their thoughts, which often‘s led my heart-demand—
want to consume their minds‘ crops like locusts.
What I‘ve perceived as love, concern to know,
empathy for others‘ worlds internal,
might be more escape from mine external—
attempts to hide from life‘s real, present show.
Avoidance wears all sorts of vibrant masks
to keep me blinded to here-moments‘ tasks.

Viewing secondhand eviscerations,
as others spill their innards on the page,
may seem the safest way to heart engage—
surrogated life participation.
Substituting others‘ honed perceptions
where I ought learn observance of my own
will keep childlike experience ungrown,
smother creativity’s conceptions.
Social media’s pitfalls lie therein,
along with greater dangers lurking large.
Despite its many goods, there’s needed charge
that gorging on a good thing leads to sin.
Shutting website windows is like trailhead,
opening mountain path to higher tread.

I‘m learning to sit with anxiety
raised by self-denial of habit’s fix,
mindful how my heart solicits tricks  
to alternate for true society.
Discomfort speaks in volumes to soul’s ear
like smoke alarm alerting to a fire.
It tells me, “Quick, investigate! Inquire!
Please find the source of inner burning fear!”
Nervousness as friend might offer insight
if I can hear and listen to its warning,
objectively without the shame-filled scorning
that tends to follow panic-stricken plight.
Practice putting tension in glass cage
to monitor its undercurrent’s rage.

It’s time to preach a sermon to myself,
for fears are overtaking me in waves;
and spirit must combat what habit craves—
flesh seeking consolation in false pelf.
Scrutinize what’s underneath such worry.
Do I believe the LORD is still in charge
of details of my life and world at large?
Look to Him. Don’t yield to anxious hurry.
Do I believe He’s with me and He’s good,
a faithful Shepherd tending to each need?
Then look to Him. Don’t drown in fretting’s greed.
Christ’s sheep don’t have to look elsewhere for food.
Each wait is opportunity to grow,
for God has holy riches to bestow.

God’s character and sovereign wisdom hem
my life, as His responsibility.
No wrong will steal my true identity,
whatever slips or schemes might spill from men.
Christ’s Ruler over all, but do I let
Him fully reign as Master in my heart?
Do I acknowledge I’m His work of art
and purpose for His hammers, chisels get?
Intimacy and glory are the friends
to which His sanctifying lessons point
and meld together as love’s dovetail joint
whenever I surrender to these ends.
Soul, set your hope on grace to be revealed.
Entrust to God strain’s mysteries still sealed.

LORD, HELP! Why is my mind so distracted?
And why then, letting it be drawn away
for half an hour, am I now okay
to let my compulsions be retracted?
Give in to let go feels like solution,
but know it only deepens the desire
for later curiosity‘s inquire—
grants no satisfying resolution.
Those thirty minutes mindfulness was lost,
yet could it be empowered by the fall,
as I look closer inside to recall
that giving way to habit bears great cost?
I won‘t grow discouraged by the setback
but seek to further understand self‘s lack.

Low-pitched, humming anxiousness was sitting
all day inside my torso‘s cavity.
Mindful sensing lent no gravity
to coax the stubborn squatter through outwitting.
Head was tired from too little sleeping,
so frankly seemed to coast and just make do.
Soul felt no fresh excitement by woods‘ view
and lacked bright energy for much guard keeping.
One moral of this story is night‘s rest
must become priority for healing.
Otherwise this shaky default feeling
will grow into another panicked crest.
Though it‘s no excuse to say I‘m tired,
it‘s clear reformed sleep habits are required.

Changing what’s practical opens a door
to transforming what’s spiritual, mental
and emotionally experiential.
Habit alterations might well restore
enough equilibrium of body,
restfulness, clarity, reason and time
to give me needed aid to better climb
above oppressive moods, both low and haughty.
Early to bed, early to rise...”could be
one thing to make a world of difference
and welcome back some simple common sense,
to open up new space for setting free.
But for that discipline to take effect,
I’ll also have to curb the internet!

Every opportunity for worry
is greater opportunity to trust
that God behind the scenes is sanding rust
from parts of me where fear has made faith blurry.
Without unknowing-gusts to stir the pit
of nervousness inside my helplessness,
I might ne‘er seek my Shepherd‘s faithfulness
nor learn to wait on Him and with Him sit.
These are times of richest growing lessons
when I‘m reminded He is LORD, not me,
and that He works to draw in int‘macy
feeble souls to Him through stretching sessions.
Joy is knowing sure—head, heart and will—
He‘s ever whisp‘ring, “Child, come closer still.

Recapping basic steps to take thus far:
Find sleep (which may mean need for melatonin
to counteract my haywire serotonin),
and overuse of internet I‘ll bar.
Then with restfulness bring mindful thinking—
keen noticing that‘s graced with gratitude
and sets a stronger skyward attitude,
buoys me up against fret‘s downward sinking.
More important still is meditation
upon the word of God‘s indicatives
which lay foundations for imperatives
to follow as prescriptive medication.
Most crucial element preventing fall
is fix my eyes on Jesus through it all!


(I — XIX)

8/23/21— 9/8/21


(** — XXXII)

9/22/21 — 9/29/21

Alyssa Underwood Jul 2021
You are by far worth more than anything in your life,
as God has priced you at the cost of His life’s blood.
He has created you for something great.
He has called you to be His treasure.
You are His beautiful, wonderful masterpiece,
uniquely hand-fashioned for the display of His splendor.

In troubles and sorrows you are never forgotten,
for there is a Savior who will deliver you through every trial.
When the pain lingers close, Jesus remains nearer
to watch out for you when all else has abandoned you.
And though you may crumble, you’ll surely be caught,
for God loves you and guards you in His providential hand.

Joyfully watching for our Lord to come once more,
we set our hope firmly on the glory of that Day
where everyone shall bow before the King of heaven
and give no weighted thought to the vanities of Earth.
For He is majestic, and all who see Him are in Awe,
falling down in songful symphony, "Worthy is the Lamb!"

He came to the earth to sacrifice Himself for all of us,
embracing, with joy in sight, both thorns and cross.
For His desire was to please the Father always,
redeeming from death's dark slavery a chosen bride
to be His people who will trust Him and His love.
And in that love and trust, they find their worth and rest.
Alyssa Underwood Jul 2021
Some trudge with thorns that only Jesus knows,
bent arrows only Jesus could remove.
Yet burning darts remain so fire might prove
rich purity of hearts, which suff’ring shows.
Chaperoned by sorrow’s lonely silence,
while moaning winds that ride the morning mists
portend the threat’ning storms of each day’s fists,
weary souls conceal distressing violence.
But Jesus holds their slightest measured pain,
as well as most excruciating arrow,
for He who governs ev’ry falling sparrow
won’t let His children’s trials wound in vain.
And resting in His all-sufficient grace,
they’re strengthened by His love to win their race.

“The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.“
~ Proverbs 14:10

Alyssa Underwood Feb 2021
There fared a time ‘we’ were the vital thing,
yet now the case is fair it’s ye and her.
My role perhaps was harrower of Winter
while she’s the water, seed and sun of Spring.
God forms right plans and sorts His unique tools
as junctures of our lives wed intertwined,
but when they’re o’er we are not undermined
nor forced to feel we’re slyly played as fools.
For Providence has granted precious gifts
which by His grace we learn and grow and flow’r,
and these need ne’er be lost in parting hour                                              
nor poisoned by the bitterness of rifts.
So rise our wings with richer, brighter hue
to soar upon Christ’s love which tarries true.
May 2020 · 508
Refining Fire
Alyssa Underwood May 2020
LORD, draw my dross up to the surface
purifying me for Your eternal purpose.
As You turn refining heat up higher
please set my love for You on fire!
May 2020 · 480
Alyssa Underwood May 2020
Wait on the Rock Who is your strength
and on His all-sufficient grace rely.
Each body-ailing, pain-prevailing,
stamina-failing groan or sigh
consider now at greater length
in light of heaven’s eternal stock.

"I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
~ 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
~ Romans 8:18

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