Calm Yourself

Stop yourself for a moment. Do you hear what you are saying? The same words flow off your tongue, the same questions quiver in your mind. Over and over again, you stitch them together so no answer can slip through the barrier you have constructed by your own human heart.

You are wearing yourself thin, spinning in circles as you are. You say you want answers, yet when I speak, you push over My words as if you did not hear them, as if they could not be the answer I would give you. So you press on, raising more doubts, entangling yourself in lies when it has been My truth holding onto you this entire time.

You walk with blinders, you rub yourself raw. You keep your head directed to the ground and tune your ears to the noise that swirls around you. Can you not see Me? I am right in front of you. Lift your weary, heavy head and see Me, leading you on, holding out My hand to guide you.

I am here. Always have been. But you have been so persistent, scanning your eyes for what you already know. Round and round you go, winding yourself up so tightly in your mind your heart has no room to breathe, to beat in tune to what I am singing. You are a broken record that skips the best parts of your favorite song. You are a clinging vine of fear that coils around your mind, squeezes tight and clamps down and spills a paralyzing poison in your heart. How you writhe and in place and choke the most important pieces of you!

Relax; don’t strain. Don’t flail in desperation or forsake how far you’ve come. Don’t get so distracted with the roaming rambles of your worries. Your heels are scratching into the sand from attempting to draw near to Me on your own. And you are not moving.

Stand still. Allow Me to come to you. Loosen your limbs, release what you can never control. Close your eyes and feel the whisper of My voice, flowing in your ear and washing through your heart. Let it take root, find its footing and settle in for the long haul. What I have for you may not be what you expected, but I am with you and wish for you so ardently to see and accept.

So calm yourself, beloved. Calm yourself. Sit down beside Me and open your heart. You cannot let Me love you if you are clutching so tightly to your own thoughts. What you have is fine. The way you are has worked alright until this point. This is true. You have been ok.

But you are meant to be more than ok. You are meant to be so much more.

Will you listen for Me? Can you clear your heart and mind and let Me in to revive you, to untangle you from the webs you have spun so haphazardly around your soul?

Unclench your deepest hurt, that vulnerability you try desperately to hide. Let it into the light. Let Me touch those wounded places, that we may be gentle together and begin in a safe place to heal.

 

I promise, it will be worth it.

 

Prayer:

Father, can I relinquish all that I have been holding to You? You promise me it is worth it, though it isn’t easy. I have held so tightly to my own thoughts and ways, yet I see they have gotten me nowhere. Oh Lord, how I long to release myself and trust You! Help me to be strong, and have the courage to follow where You lead. Amen.

 

 

 

 

What You Give

I don’t want the world.
I want You.

I want Your goodness, Your light, Your innocence, Your mercy. I want You streaming through my bloodlines, tucked into the snuggest corners of my heart. I want Your voice, a string of satin stars in my bleak and searching sky. I want Your patience helping me up every time I fall and Your strength lifting me when I am weak.

Each day I am surrounded by darkness and discomfort. I crave all that is You, all that You are and all that You’ll ever be. I don’t want what the world wants. I want to be different. I want to stand alone, if alone means bringing You to my side. I am no one, but You stoop down to my level to raise me up and whisper that I am someone, that I am Yours. If there is any way I can bring joy to You, I want to find it and offer it up in my meager, mud-caked hands. Because I have been in the dirt and buried in shame, but You’ve covered my grime with grace.

I don’t want what the world longs for, all the excess, all the glitter and brash brightness that gives pleasure and satisfaction for the moment. I want something that lasts. That will bring me life and satisfaction in my soul. I don’t want what the world gives. I want what You give.

I don’t want to break Your heart. I want to be better. Want to be better for You, to bleed myself of selfish ambition and preservation and lose my life in Your love. I want my ears to perk up at Your calling and my feet to swiftly carry me to the arms of the brokenhearted. When You knock upon my door, I want to warmly welcome You into my heart, into my home. And I want You to take me in Your embrace and fill me with all that is sweet and simple. I want to know You, to intimately and everlastingly know how You live and how You love, what breaks You and binds me to You. All I’m longing for is in Your presence. I am reaching for Your hand, to entwine Your fingers of forgiveness with my hands of hurt and be transformed.

All this life claims to offer cannot, and will not, compare to all You so generously give, for in Your peace I am perfected.

 

As You Give

 

 

Let It Go

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.   -1 Peter 5:7

I take up my pen and begin relaying my thoughts onto paper. I talk about trust, how I have more ease of life knowing God is taking care of the how. I begin to describe how God is teaching me this week, for the pressing thoughts continually on my mind. Prayer. Petition. Bringing my requests before the great and powerful Oz of the universe who sits on His heavenly throne and rules with authority.

But I am timid. I am weak and I am fearful. I doubt. Myself, the plans God has for me, even the gifts He has given me. I wonder if I’m doing anything with my life that aligns with His will.

I let the fear fester inside, corroding my heart and blocking off the air canals that guide me to God. Soon, I am so consumed with this confusion I am ashamed to even come before Him. Why would He still listen to me? Hear my prayers? My cries seem to carry across a barren sky and dissolve into the night.

Still I write, trying to somehow break through the surface. I try to not bother Him and begin to think of ways to solve my worries on my own. I wonder whether or not the decisions I make today will mark tomorrow. I can fix things, I assure myself. I can do this on my own.

But I can’t. In my decision to fight my own battles my life caves in. The ceiling presses down, I reach for the exit door and find there is no handle. I am trapped, a hostage in my maze of an unknown future, and the more I struggle to break the bonds of baggage upon me, the tighter the hold. My shoulders are frail. I need ones that are stronger.

Meek, all energy drained, I dare to decode my confusion at God’s feet. I stumble before Him, face buried in humiliation as I realize that while I have been doubting my abilities and the haze that appears on my path, I have also doubted God, because He gave me these desires and attributes. I am His daughter, created in His image. And if I think it is impossible to climb out of the muck I’ve stepped in, then I do not fully comprehend the immensity of my God. For when I am weak, He is at His strongest. His shoulders are solid, His mark always on target. And through my utter despair, it is at my lowest point where He can take charge and show that ALL things are possible through Him, because He is incomprehensible in power and love.

When we try to take matters into our own hands, we lunge into the ocean and expect to keep in the shallows. We swim, bob, dog paddle in our own currents until we reach the middle of the sea and find no land in sight. Legs pumping, heart crashing, our bodies tread water, killing time but getting nowhere. Soon, the more we struggle, the more we are swallowed into the abyss.

Until we release the fears and insecurities that keep us weighed down, we slowly sink to the bottom. We whisper in the waters, “Father, I cannot do this on my own,” and He gives strength to our weary limbs, tosses a life vest out to our eager arms. And, with gentle, guiding hands, He lifts us to His side and charts our perfect course.

 

All Around The Sun

Subtle shades of cream blue, peach, rose petal pink, ivory. 33,000 feet above the earth will make the looming gaps between sky and soil insignificant. Cracks carve bone out of ice; I glide above the Arctic. Down on the planet’s skin lies Russia.

Did I ever think I would witness the rotation of the sun staying bold and unrelenting, of earth’s arc and end up in places wet with new, wide-eyed wonder? How in the world did I end up revolving around it in such surprising measure?

We are just passing through. Always, simply passing through the steps of life that stretch to moments. Russia will slip beyond us as we move along the air, and when we land on the outskirts of Asia, there is still another leg to go.

The man next to me still smells fresh eight hours in. Spice and Caribbean water. Comfort. His voice dances with blend of places, history, family lines, hands with working knuckle creases. I listen to him talk of his mother and how he cares for her as a son’s privilege, and of his insatiable thirst for travel.

There are stories of us scattered around the globe. These are the words that fill the universe’s pages, honed and crafted by life’s curator, the One who knit the worlds alive.

Outside the sun leads us on, but the lights in the belly of the plane are low, lulling us to try and sleep as they schedule us to adjust to the time zone. My body won’t behave and I shift from my side, back braced against the chair, eyes dry and tired but internal wiring won’t let me rest.

I risk arousing my seatmate and crack a slip of shade. Crags of powder jut from below, texturizing the pattern of our passage. A guessing game—what are we over? Sometimes water, sometimes mountain. I study formations as if I am a geologist; if I set my eyes firm over the lines, I hope to see a caribou or even—because I am so seasoned with sharp sight of imagination—a stray polar bear that has lost her way and is content to roam the cold, white expanse.

I don’t know who I am to be in this position, traversing to the other side of the world, but it is not of my own doing. Only by the grace of God. Only by that do I sit wrapped in a blanket with an expectant heart for the way I’ll be allowed to listen to beautiful people share their stories, and, in turn, share them with the world.

Engine rattles constant. I turn again in my seat, stretch, shuffle past chairs and move along the never-ending aisle. Row after row of faces attached to names, attached to hopes and fears and centuries of life passed down to bring them to this point in time. We are all part of a bigger picture, frames moving in and out of the shot, beating hearts bringing still-frame to flesh.

Everything seems to be expanding, and yet frozen where meant to be. All around the sun we revolve, and make glad our hearts at the beauty of being alone in bodies, of being fully together. Of being human, strung with complexity and simplicity, one in the same. All around the sun we go, walk among the clouds, spun with truth and light.

Sleep again rests heavy on my eyes but I cannot succumb to it. And so I lean a bit closer to my seatmate, the man who I had no idea existed just twelve hours ago, who has a name, a story, grit beneath his fingernails—I breathe him in, take myself to anywhere quiet—everywhere: those untouched mountains, cool and cleansing, the safety of my small island back home swallowed by waves of Lake Michigan and lazy sunsets, or exactly where I am, 33,000 feet above, with a few hundred others just like me, uniquely themselves, full of story, bodies resting, hearts longing—always longing—for more.

 

Spark and Steam

Through the hiss of antique silver espresso machine reverberating around the high-windowed room of a downtown café, brick and mortar building, I shrug off the cold. Everything seems to sting these days, even when I’m nestled in the safety of my favorite place in a city that used to scare me.

But I am learning courage. And my heart has strengthened, endured.

The young man at the register’s arms are stenciled with symbols and scenes, artist of skin. He laughs, high and ferocious. Eternity pauses smack dab in the middle of this moment.

I jump out of my skin, but always come back. Even when I don’t know where I went, where I’m going.

You see, I want to grip this life in my fist and steer it where it needs to go. Even when I do not understand where that is, still I try to direct because if I can feel the texture of my future beneath my fingers, then I can look at it and see where it will go.

Just let it go.

Baristas carve their lattes, swirling milk and espresso. A little boy bobs behind his mother, eyes orbed in wonder at the space of café, chatter of people. The world lingers between the lines, which I have worked so hard to keep in order.

When do I finally learn that my life is not my own?

Truly, when do I learn that everything I encounter is not a lesson?

Lean into the fold of cushioned chair, butter sweetness of pastries and caffeine waft through the air.

Breathe. Unfold.

The beauty of walking through this earth is not having to ordain every step and live in a paralyzing fear that I swerved to the wrong course.

Love is mystery, discomfort a delight.

God is raising the dead of hope in me, sitting me down in the middle of the mess.

Air made visible rises from the mouth of a man’s cup as he sips his black coffee. Blends into the air, into these breaths that comprise the day. This is life I’m experiencing, grains of sand sifting through the great hourglass of the universe. It is happening. Right now is here and happening.

Do not look beyond to what is not yet seen. Soon enough, it will arrive, and you can welcome it with a smile. But right now, do not forget to slip a smile across your lips at this exact stretch of time.

This is the only moment I have, and the only certainty is the breath I am dispelling. Do not get wrapped up in the fog of the future. Do not get swept away in the fast-paced scream of the day.

Late afternoon light dances through the high windows, beams of His fingers stretching to enfold mine.

All around are walking souls. And we all somehow stitch together. Woven with humanity. All faces in the shape of our Creator. Can we not wear them well? As well as we can, within the honesty that we are just not enough all of our own. But in release, a freedom comes.

I do not want to be alone forever, but for right now it is the Lord and I and this is not something to be missed.

This is not something to be missed.

Do not rush away this precious time. Sit with Him. Walk with Him. Rest in Him. He does not want me to miss how He is right with me as I am becoming, as I am unknown, as I strive to navigate to the next thing that I’m steamrolling Him in the right now.

The girl who slides me my espresso has the brightest eyes against her black hair. She recognizes me from times here before. Just a spark of recognition is enough. Somehow, during the morning the sky has shifted from slate gray to a soft blue breaking through the winter. Just a touch, a hint that warmer days will come.

Do not be overwhelmed at where you are, at where you are not. And do not worry about what you cannot control, which is everything.

God did not create this life to confound or confine, but to create and calm. Keep cadence in His heartbeat. Keep hope in Him.

My soul keeps reminding me of deep revelations for which it thirsts.

Stop gripping life with such a tight fist. Hold dreams loosely. Pull back the curtain on control and embrace what runs straight through.

These truths are meant to heal me, to hope, incessantly, that in my surrender the real remnants of my life may begin to unfold and form.

Life lifts in dust of spark and steam, strands of molecules, of miracles, rise in praise.

I am me and this is all I have. And all I can do is step into the day one foot at a time, do what God has given me to do that is before me, and pull the interaction with others into my heart and be grateful. My heart is beating. That is enough. It should always be enough.

God, He is here. And He is good. And I am His. And I am here, held still in the spinning universe.

 

Come To You

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30

 

You tell me to come to You.

Me, worn and weary, fall into You, and You will give me rest.

 

Just come to You.

Simple.

Straightforward.

Just come.

Am I that brave?

Do I trust You enough to just come?

Leave my worries at Your feet?

Give You my troubles? The uncertainties of my life? Not knowing which way to turn, job elusive, a permanent place or residence aloof, my fears for settling and giving in to mediocrity?

Can I simply let my burdens fall from my heart and take Your yoke, which You promise is light?

Just come, You beckon. As if it’s the easiest solution and I should have thought of it in the first place. Abide in You so our heartbeats are one, steady cadence.

You promise rest. Rest that my soul craves, is parched for. Rest is a given if only I come. Wherever I am, as I am. You want me as me.

Surrender starts with rest, with giving up and letting go. Loosening the hold I have around my heart, the worry in my head. Abandon all to fall into You.

Release and surrender to the current that has already swept me up, I have been fighting.

Cease striving and be still.

Come to the calm. Submerge my spirit in Your quiet strength.

I cannot work my way to You. Cannot strain to see what’s down the road when the road is swathed in darkness. You give me the light enough I need for the moment, and I should fall into that soft light with grace.

Grace to slow, grace to come. Grace to submit and release. Surround my soul with Your gentleness, cool waters drenched in deep rest. Rest upon the waves. For Your burden is easy and yoke so light.

Come, You tell me. As I am. Leave my troubles with You and relax in Your embrace. Bask in Your beauty, Your soothing guidance. Trust that You are enough.

You are always enough.

You First

The rain is gentle.

So are You.

Reminding me to come back to my first love. Before the world and all its distortions broke my heart, when I walked with You and You were all I could see. All I wanted to watch.

I have forgotten You. Forgotten what it is to love You with all of my heart, soul and strength. Forgotten what it is like to talk to You with intention, with a yearning in my spirit for Your presence, for Your response. To enter into the gateway of relationship, walk beside You and know You are happy being with me.

Love must be loose and not clung to in fear. Love must give of itself freely and let go of what does not matter.

You matter. You alone ask for my love and can receive it.

It is a beautiful thing, to turn and walk toward You, realizing You’ve been waiting. That You have been smiling at me all this time, when I have imagined You off in the distance, stiff and elusive. How have I not seen? How had I gotten so off track that I did not recognize You standing close, watching me, speaking softly to try and get my attention but I could not hear? Maybe I didn’t want to turn from the noise and the echoes, or the clutter tangled me with intent to keep me from listening.

But You are persistent. You were not satisfied to let me go. You would not leave. You remembered when we were one, when we breathed through the same lungs, saw life through the same lens. We were ever evolving, together, and I dared to take Your dreams as mine.

It was You and I, once. Until I lost my way and went ahead, until I strayed. Until I threw my heart in the wringer too many times so it’s turned from red to black and blue. Lifeless. Disillusioned. Frightened. Crestfallen. Careless, I let everything touch me with grimy hands and hearing my head point out where to go. I didn’t stick around to hear from You and my heart paid for it. You alone bring joy. Seeking You, demanding You with desperation. You, in the quiet. You, always finding me. And I, giving my ever-faulty heart back to You. Choosing You, again and again. Daily. Moment by brittle moment. I am fickle and oh so prone to stray. It is a deliberate choice to say each time, “You first. I want You first,” and mean it in my core. To seek You with my soul, and fight for my heart with all my strength, fasten it to Yours.

As this rain drips from the trees, You speak more in this moment than in months before. Maybe because I am ready. Maybe because now it is an active participation. Maybe simply it’s been long enough. I do know this reformation will be difficult. It will require much work of the heart and effort and intentionality on my part. Hour after hour, constant reminders that I am giving You the first fruits of my heart, and everything else that follows comes from You because that’s what You want for me. I am done with idols, though their cold stone has pulled me heavy and are not easy to cast off. But You will pull me through and bring vibrancy to my life that I’ve been missing and haven’t been able to attain.

Every beat of my heart, twitch of my desire, has to be only You. I will learn to love again, as You will teach me all Your beautiful ways that make it sweet to hold open my heart for its fill.

Awakened

We are all meant to be.

Someone.

Something.

A flash of light through thick, syrupy darkness.

We have been fastened together by dreams and shapes and symphonies, formed in the secret spaces of the deep. Intentionally. With fervor.

We are silhouettes made of stardust, given faces and smiles sewn on our porcelain skin. In the moon-speckled night, our deepest longings were whispered delicately into our ear. While we slept, we soared.

And then, slowly, with sensation sweeping from our eyelids, we awoke. To colors drying and chipping from the sky. With our faces, our lineage, our stories, muffled against the exhaust of nameless fumes, toxic and telling us to move along. They invaded our invincibility, our homes that hooked us to our cotton clouds and pulled the string. We slipped and stumbled to the ground, no longer aware of the way we floated. Instead, the sharp realization of reality jabbed us in the jaw, and then we knew how much the fall would hurt once our brittle bones hit the earth.  Huddled around us, voices hissed, full of doubt and fear and cruelty. The voices grappled for the shine in our eyes, tender from the blistering light that led us for so long. They took the glow and hid them in shadows, where we could only hear the faintest whimpers as they wailed at our separation.

We were tried and tested, bruised but never fully bleeding. This new world sneered at the likes of us, the dreamers who had dared to believe we were made for more. So they kept us cowering, crossed up in lies that we don’t deserve delight. That we cannot claim a life of our own.

Yet.

A seed, small, insignificant to the outside eye, has been planted.

Many years ago.

Many miles from this world.

And it has grown, quietly, in the concrete corners of our heart.

There is something inside of us that cannot stay hidden, cannot stay sleeping. It is dangerous, it is explosive, it is the greatest instrument we can possess. And with it comes the living rush of wind that sets our sails to travel the sky. To once and for all search the sands and find the perfect space to insert our own shell, unique and exquisite in a sunrise’s surprise.

This is the time.

We are formed from the hands of mercy, of beauty, of light and love. These hands that formed the heavens, formed us. And within our private precincts, they placed a voice, a vision, a task entirely our own and utterly under our command.

We are to set fire to the fabric of our beings. We are to answer this call abundantly and unabashedly. And we are to savor each second the sunlight sweeps over our face.

Because in our breath, we taste our Creator. In our skills, we see our Mentor. And in our depth and width and luster of this fading world’s wonder, we see Him who lifted us from the cradle of conformity and set us high upon the hill of hope, His light bathing us in such a glory all who look upon us burst forth in choruses of admiration.

How they shine, their reactions echo. How they radiate with the touch of His approval.

All other voices are silenced.

Why Not Me

I believe in God being a God of redemption. There is something in remembering, in strolling through the memory halls of my heart and still holding out my hope.

We ask for the miracle and then doubt reality when it materializes.

We justify it away, fill with disbelief, run questions through our hearts.

I am too tender to take courage in the face of what I want.

And so I ask the million dollar question: Why me?

I am just a shy, simple girl who buried her nose in books when she was young and hoped with every inch of her innocent heart for a way to break out of the monotony of daily rhythm, to find a love that was true and fierce, to connect the poetry of life with beating hearts. And maybe, just maybe, I could change the world with my smile.

Why could I deserve anything great? Get the most treasured desire of her heart fulfilled?

Is God that good? Could what I desperately hope for be something that pleases Him?

Hope is that stubborn flame that will not be quenched. That soft surge of light within that unfurls its rays to break open the tightest corners.

All my life, I’ve been so afraid to hope for what’s been in my heart. I have dreamed about it with every breath in my bones, but I have also been timid with expressing it out loud for fear it would never come true.

And yet I’ve carried this with me year after year, tucked away inside, and as the months and years stretched by the double, I even began to chide myself for it. Began to turn on the hopeful girl within and tell her every reason why she wasn’t worthy. I’d emotionally beat her down until hope was too bent and bruised to dare show its face, retreating to a dark, stifled space in the basement of my soul to stay in hiding.

But the miraculous realization: it stayed.

It stayed with me, this hope upon hope, this young girl’s dream. It stayed with me as I grew disillusioned and jaded. And every time I begin to doubt, to ask myself questions and feel myself sinking back into what God has done to build up my belief, the verse, “Don’t doubt, just believe” comes into my head. Coincidence? My own imagining? How I wish God would lay it out to me in plain terms and tell my all my hopes are good and well-founded.

I do not want to be afraid, but I have been fearful. He calls me deeper, on top of the water, to glide along the waves.

Who am I to deserve anything this beautiful?

But then, who am I not to?

Why me?

Why not me?

Why not, knowing Him who holds the stars, giving me His best.

Remember this, my heart. Remember and awake, believe.

Rebuild The Jagged Edges

Too early to rise, yet I am lulled out of bed, wide awake and aware stars still gleam in the sky.

Coffee quickly brewing in the kitchen, my lifeline. This is how I arrive today—heavy eyelids, leaking heart.

This is a lonely season of my life. I am weary from holding back this truth.

Tell me that the night will end. Tell me that the light will come.

Teach my heart to wait in You, to be still and trust.

 

All that is within me wants to see the other side right now, to know the goodness comes my way, that what I sow in rows of tears will reap an abundance of joy.

You are always good, but this does not feel good to my heart right now. How do I hope when days stretch to weeks, to months, and then I somehow notice it’s been years?

You alone know the ways I am to walk, where each step leads, the trails, the turns, the unmarked maps.

How do I listen through the din of despair, when I stare it straight in the eye, stand at its edge, rock my toes over the ledge? How do I be still to see You go before me to make a way where there is a wall?

 

 

It’s been awhile, but I’m back over at ALTARWORK! Head over to read the rest of the post.