I looked down at Dutch, concerned:

“Is Kalmar going to die?”

He smiled but his eyes told me nothing. He’s a stickler for unspoiled endings.

Then I reminded my heavy heart, It’s just a book

Just as certain songs mark seasons of some people’s lives, so books do with mine, and this has most certainly been the Wingfeather month. Dutch devoured the 4-book series and was so completely enchanted by them I thought I’d join him on the journey.

I’m so glad I did. I was quickly swept along in this breathtaking story, and it carried me swiftly through the weeks of morning sickness and made my couch-ridden afternoons a glorious retreat.

They may not have the same effect on you. They’re kids’ books.  The main character is 12. But I’d venture to say even C.S. Lewis would tip his bowler to Andrew Peterson because this Narnia-esque series speaks to deeper places of my heart than any other book has in a long time.

In them I learned that I am the Cloven.

I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that the dark and evil enemy captures victims and drives them to desperation, then exploits that desperation by promising them power, beauty, glory. When they succumb, which they all inevitably do, they are melded with a wild beast to become a hybrid — the Cloven.

His army.

But in this clumsy diabolical process, many are warped, misshapen, left longing for wholeness but unable to go back, left forever bearing the image of their failure, their weakness, their shame.

This happened to Kalmar, the eleven-year-old boy we follow through the Wingfeather Saga. There are times his shame is so painful it is difficult to read. Strong people—unbroken people—can be so mercilessly cruel and the weight of our failure can lead us within a hairsbreadth of abandoning our calling altogether. But every day his mother reminds them,

“Remember who you are.”

Indeed, this remembering becomes the most critical battle plan. Rehearsing your name, your place, the truth of who you are.

But just when the shame seems unbearable, Kalmar meets Elder Cadwick, another Cloven, who reminds him:

Being broken isn’t always a bad thing.”

And then.

The glorious redemption unfolds. Not just for Kalmar, but for the entire Kingdom. For all the poor and powerless, for all the lost and lonely — for every Cloven whose very appearance smacks of failure, weakness, shame.

Only a Cloven could reach the Cloven. 

All the whole and strong people, the unbroken people, they built their fences and set their guards and sharpened their weapons and rightly so, because the Cloven were … monsters. But only one who was also broken could hear the hearts that cried inside and recognize the evil done TO them.

With judgement gone then righteous revenge could be carried out against the source of evil.

And there’s only one. 

Now, as I curl up with the last few hours of 2017, I reflect on this year. There’s never been a year like this year. So much loss and struggle, not just for me but for those I love most. I’ve shed more tears this year than any other, hands down. I’ve struggled and stumbled, grasping for His grace. It’s been there, all along, but I end this year very different than I began.

I am the Cloven.

I’m broken a bit, many more lines adorn my face.

I’m no longer enamored with myself. 

But that isn’t the end. The story isn’t, “Let’s just celebrate our brokenness and learn to love ourselves.”

That isn’t it.

The story is Redemption. The story is a Savior. The story is the Innocent in place of the guilty. The spotless, perfect, righteous One, choosing death for love … for us.

I am the loved. 

You are too. 

So, broken friend—there may be a bit of Cloven in you too, eh?  There’s good news: The broken can hear the hearts that cry inside monsters.

You have a calling, Broken Friend. You have a world to love, Good News to share. You have wounds to heal, lost to find, foes to slay. You have little warriors to raise.  You must be brave. You must be fierce. You must be a fighter, a peace-maker, a dragon-slayer, a Jesus-Lover.

You are the Cloven, you are the Loved. 

Here’s to a 2018 unmarked by our own selfish achievements but shining brilliantly with the love and courage of Christ. What might your brokenness enable you to do? How might Christ be mighty in your weakness? How will you devote yourself completely to His cause, come what may? And how will you remind yourself, daily, who you really are? You are Loved. 

{Happy New Year. Looking forward to journeying with you into the great unknown. Thanks for reading.}

*I found a few more boxes of books in my garage! If you’re still looking for Sacred Mundane you can order here, cheaper than Amazon, with free shipping. https://squareup.com/store/sacred-mundane Happy reading!

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