Place of My Own

I am not meant for the fast-paced whirl of the world, for loud sounds and shifting ideas, for the roar of motorcycles out my window, blast of exhaust and engines, crowds of people.

My pace—my soul—is slow, takes its time to expand and receive the world in quiet breaths, savored moments. The tapping of leaves against the wind, ruffle of bird feather, the pull of rain down a heather gray sky. To sit and pay attention, to invest deeply in a few valued relationships, to immerse myself in a small community—this is what fuels me, energizes in the right way. Nature was carved by God and so am I; we are linked in an eternal purpose following the here and now. The slow way of life allows me to notice, to examine, to unearth my feelings, the way of the world and my place in it.

Do not give me a rush, a schedule, an examination. Rather, set me in the middle of a limestone beach, the crest of a jutting cliff, the glass water of Lake Michigan, and let my heart fill, form and feel. Let me wander for the sake of wandering, to pause and praise the One who made the shape of my spirit and set eternity in my mind, one slow breath at a time. //

Languid, listening to the murmur of stars, stretched across time. No hurry, no order, simply being present. This is my gift, my design.

When we slow down, we see, and I don’t ever want to lose my sight. The day is for wonder, and so is dusk, and the deep evening shadows. It all has its place, and in the quiet swing of seasons, of scenes, I nestle in and find a place of my own.

 

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Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Slow.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Redemption Song

The Lord redeems all things.

The week that stretched an eternity, knocked away my energy and crashed my computer, accounting for endless hours on the phone, troubleshooting with tech support, taking it in to a repair shop and saying the internal is fried and all my documents and photos, erased—this has been a test of endurance, a realignment of perspective and what matters. No matter what, God is good, and I will hold fast to Him.

After six hours yesterday on the phone with a tech who helped us with a factory reboot so my computer magically runs as if it was brand new, with a clean slate with nothing on it, I was ready to piece documents from an old external drive and what I had emailed to myself over the weeks. But Eric called me over, and we looked at the screen to find it all safely tucked in a cloud-like folder. Hidden and protected somewhere in the sky high above our heads. And now, when I signed in to my account, it all just suddenly was there.

I have no explanation, but I give all praise to God that through this incredibly confusing and frustrating week, He taught us many things, and assured us that He protects, defends, and redeems His children.

A redemption song my soul gladly sings in the middle of a sun-bright morning. He is always good, even in the midst of trial. He is faithful, even when circumstances try to shake our belief. But we remember what matters, what truly lasts—relationship with Him, gratefulness for what we already have, and the privilege to love others well.//

Hallelujah, I have my “life” back with the surprise reappearance of everything. Hallelujah, He has been with me, proving yet again that when I am so very weak, He is strong. He is strong so I can boast all the more gladly in my weakness, showing God for who He is—Protector, Provider, Sustainer, and so much more.

He indeed redeems all things.

 

 

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Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Redeem.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

One Step at a Time

It’s only 6:30 but the darkness swallows up the sky like the bottom of the earth turning itself inside out. It’s pressing in on me, like a hand slapped across my chest. I’ve been cooped up all day, defenses down. My apartment feels small, constricted, the artificial light in here no substitute for the sun. This heavy night slides closer to my windows, leaning on the panes, coming close.

It’s coming close alright, this heaviness. The anniversary of my stroke. Almost one year. When the room and my world rocked, spun with no control, no road map of where I was going.

I have to get out. Go walk around my town, the cozy line of shops in the crisp air. The air cuts me in the best ways, opening up the shrunken cavern of my chest so I can breathe in full again.

These weeks especially have been a tug-o-war over my life, the way I anticipated it to roll out, my plans and ideals yet again balled in my fist. And God, kindly dismantling them and asking me to open my palms.

//I want to control my life, because everything these last eleven and a half months have been out of my control.

I’ve had no say in my stroke. Or the holes in my heart. Or moving out of my beloved flat by the lake. Or a hectic job where the work never ends. Even my relationship with Eric, as beautiful and a sweet gift that it is, I never saw coming.

And I am afraid, because these all came as a surprise to me, out of the blue, and I fear the floor could drop again at any minute.

I know that isn’t a good place to live from, but this is where I am for the moment. It’s OK to acknowledge, but it isn’t OK to stay there. One step at a time, especially when I don’t know where that next step will lead. One step at a time, I lift my eyes unto the hills to find my hope. I cannot see what’s on the horizon, what will come, but I know that I can open up my heart to the One who does.

This life is always unknown. We just get introduced to it each day and cultivate a relationship with it in tiny, eyes wide-open ways.//

These damp sidewalks cause me to concentrate my shoes on each scratch of pavement. It wouldn’t be good to slip. Each step is vitally important, is the focus.

What does it matter if I don’t know what’s coming? There’s nothing I can do about it, anyway.

Just stay with this step. Then the next.

 

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Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Unknown.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Land of the Living

This winter won’t go away.

Mountains of snow stacked along street edges, ice wind blowing from fresh and fierce air off the lake. Nets of gray trap the sky tight so no sunlight is allowed access. Again, the breath-stealing bitter cold, collects the joy right out of the day. Works to make you forget there was ever such a thing as spring.

Except. There is always the memory of what has come before, recollections of bud-dappled trees and smooth birdsong. Spring has happened before, and it will arrive again.

These last two months have been a mountain of endurance. Of plowing through an unreal reality of medical upheavals and hospital stays, loss of bearings?

This is a harsh winter, alright.

Except. I remember.

How my life has been spared and saved more than once in my life. Playback the moments of survival, seal of His heart in mine, watch as He pulls me from the mire and places me on steady rock. How in the storm of heartbreak, His presence through the dead of night assurance that He is still loving. All He does is kind, even when it can feel like fire through my veins.

Remember. Look back on what God has already done. Choose to believe in who He has shown Himself to be.

I am walking through the sludge of this unclear season with a sharp eye out for His good.

// I have come to the edge of this world, sniffed around at the other side, learned how little there lies between this world and what’s next.

And at the base of it all, I have had to ask myself the question: What is it I believe?

Do I believe in a God who is over all, who runs all eternity, and is He where I place my faith, my life?

Where, in the earth-splitting shake up of a stroke and heart procedure, do I stand on firm soil rather than shifting sand? What is solid?

It is not what, but WHO.

He who slung the stars in the sky and gathered grains of sand and offered up a picture of a chosen people. Who has tumbled down towers and met a wounded women in the desert, El Roi, the One who sees.

Confident that He who created a good work within me will carry it out to completion.

To fall full weight in confidence of His character His promises. His goodness and kindness, and that forever faithfulness.

My heart clings to the hope that He is who He says He is, and who He promises to be is faithful. Stake my soul on this. Walk with shuffling feet as I relearn the place I’m planted in this season.

I look out my window and see ice and water roll about the winter lake. The churn of blue and gray clouds hunched low. //

As sure as the lighthouse stands strong against the heaving waves propelled by an angry tide, I anchor to God’s goodness. Confident how He will never leave or forsake, even when the world before me swallows me down into an unexpected abyss.

His faithfulness is a blaze of light that carefully carries me back into wide-open space, land of the living.

I stand certain of His goodness.

I have smelled, touched, tasted it. And it has imprinted deep within my wondering mind, my seeking soul.

All is miraculous; He is mercy. For me, spring is already here; tender shoots of grace unfurl the newly hinged hooks of my heart.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.   -Psalm 27:14

 

 

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Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Confident.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Rights All Things

Whirl of images, blurred and unbalanced.

Out of nowhere.

My living room, a spinning funhouse. Walls rocking like sides of a ship, sharp, yet unable to focus and still the swirl.

Then, rubber. Left arm shaking and bucking its control. Loss of feeling, all I could do was watch it move up and down, around, unable to grab hold of anything solid.

The speech. Slow, slurred. My brain knew what it wanted to say, and say at a normal rate, but the words wouldn’t come when called. Stutter, heavy, anchored to another dimension I wasn’t meant to reach.

I am so glad I was sitting on the fold-up chair at my table. If I had been on two legs, I would have found myself buckled by them and on the floor as the world lurched on and I could not catch up. //

How in the world did my brain throw off balance?

How in God’s unfathomable grace, did He still the spin and set me right again?

Monitors blink into the inky night, murmur of nurses muffled down the hall. Here, all begins anew. One breath, one beep, at a time. I hope the needles can come out of my skin soon, but now, they are reminders, along with the leeds strapped along my chest to check my heart, that my life is not my own.

Blinds down, shade the hospital room. The world has righted itself, but still there are pieces of me frightened it will happen again, that I will lose my place in this life and oxygen once more be doused from my brain.

But He is here. In the still, in the holding cell, the sweetness of His presence in a terrifying topsy-turvy turn of events filling me with gratitude more than I could imagine. He is Emmanuel. God with us. Even in the upside down, the out of control.

I rest my mind, my body as best I can with the heart monitor in place and IVs poking my veins. God is near, and He has never removed me from the palm of His caring hand. And so, I believe. Believe in Him who sees me through, whose mercies never cease and watched over my ordeal with careful, unblinking eye. Believe in Him who keeps the stars aligned and time itself in balance. Believe He remains faithful, that there is more left for me to see and love and align with His heart.

He rights all things, our hearts and our heads. Keep believing. Great is His faithfulness.

 

 

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Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Balance.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Clear To The Bone

It’s come again.

That nagging ache of alone. The built-up dreams ballooning in my belly, the air released and shrunk to nothing. I’ve busied myself, distracted and detached, afraid to feel the latest jolt that rocked my heart’s already easily breakable frame.

It’s heavy, the weight of disappointment.

// What cuts clear to the bone? The hopes that I allowed to linger, only to smash in a thousand pieces at reality, unmet expectations, bitter disappointment and heart collapse. This life I live looks nothing like I thought it would. And I don’t know what to do when I fall into myself over and over, to the depths, dusky void black and blue ink stained sorrow.

I had wanted to much from this life. I thought I had so much to offer, to be, to do. But I am shaken, stuck in the manifold mundane, day in and day out, rote and worn.

To the depths, the soul in me cries. Get to the depths, leave this shallow water that has staled and stalled and turned lukewarm. Get to where you have room to breathe, where you can breathe at all, where you can live alive, ignite.

We are all thisclose from going under in our blank hearts and never resurfacing. I am thisclose from settling into mediocrity because I don’t know what else to do, though the fibers of my being reel and recoil against the notion. But what should one do when all they know is disappointment and new worlds they never wanted? //

Oh, how I have wanted.

And here I am, smack in the heartbreak and backwards. Where do I go from here? How do I submerge amid the deep, the faraway and dimly lit scratch of sun from under the waves?

For now, all I have are questions that are left unanswered. And I’ll content myself with this continual quest among the heavy and deep, swathing myself in unknown. Be still. Embrace what has yet to form.

It is a quiet wait, but I want my heart to heal. I want to see this life with new eyes, to be pulled deeper still into what is just ahead. See the surprise of the unexpected, how it just may be better than I dared to dream before.

Just keep trusting. Keep sight of belief, and choose yet again to not settle. It’s too important for my soul not to. For it must keep beating, must keep hope.

Hope is the echo reverberating in dreams yet awakened.

 

 

 

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Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Deep.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Bear The Burden

Sometimes I feel like I carry the burden of a thousand others, of the weight of humanity, the fall of man, the groaning and abuse of the earth. Cries of children caught in slavery, the weak and overlooked passed by with begging eyes no one sees. The violence, the hatred, the insincerity and refusal to hear another. We are all screaming but our voices go nowhere.

How is it a blessing to hold a burden? The hard, the heartbreak, the rending of spirits through disappointment after disappointment beats down the heart to hope?

I watch the sky grow dark early in this new time change, how the gray turns charcoal, deep blue and purple until the air is punctured with tiny stars in the cold black night. It feels like the day is done, when there is still so much time to live. How to pick up the urge to press on, to give it one more day when you’re tired of trying, when the effort is too much and your soul is battle weary?

Lay your burdens down, the old adage goes. Lay them down at the feet of Jesus and He will lighten your load.

It’s all well and good, but what of when you’ve read the words a thousand times but they don’t resonate like they used to? When you’ve become numb from hurting, from caring for the world when it doesn’t seem to offer the same? //

What of your groans that get trapped in the rumblings of injustice, of suffering and abuse and cloistering fears that gnaw on your faith like dogs to a bone? What then? Take that step on water and walk out to Him who holds the sea at bay? Multiply the loaves when the crowd is starving and all you’ve got left is a meager offering in your hands?

Peace. Be still.

It’s hard to be still when the whole of you wants to run from a heart that bleeds and spills for the sorrow of upturned dreams, displaced refugees, closed doors and callous unforgiveness.

When life seems a burden, you do what is best: choose to believe. Again and again. Even if the heart restricts and hoists a wall and guards itself with well placed defenses. Choose to believe that you are blessed when you bear the burdens of another. Remember One who hung with the burden of eternity, who didn’t balk at the sting of suffering.

The room glows yellow with candlelight and low lamps that are on the edge of burning out. We are all just on the edge of burning out.

Hold the Light. Lean in and let it rest soothing in the wounds. Do not shy away from what is sharp. Do not fear the dark. Rest in what you cannot understand. Be at peace and stay still in the burden. Bear the burden. Bear it well, with honesty and reflective truth. Blessed is she who perseveres, who keeps a softened heart to cushion the fallen.

 

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Burden.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Live Languid

Here comes September.

Can the year be beginning its last stretch already?

Trees are turning, and the mornings host cooler air. It doesn’t seem to be time for this, the shift of seasons.

And yet, there is always time for everything. Faithfully, change begins and ends and cycles through. I take my time getting ready for the day, linger longer than I should on my cool down walk after my run is finished. I watch the boats waver in the wind heading back towards the marina after an early start to find the fish. I listen to the whoosh of waves folding into themselves as they surge to shore. I watch the yellow wildflowers wave their arms on thin and nimble stalks between wild grass. In these moments, with sweat condensed from humidity and breath returning regular to my lungs, all is as it should be.

There is no need for speed.

//What’s the rush?
Slow. Such cadence in the quiet, serene. No time passes at all.

Rain pours down the pane. We haven’t seen skies like this in years. Or maybe I just don’t remember it. This is, after all, the first time I’ve been home to stay in four years. The world here knows rain; perhaps it is just I who has forgotten.

Thunder rolls, not angry or vicious. It just makes its presence known.

What’s the line in the that Elvis song? Only fools rush in…

Frantic rushing washes away thought, intention, calculation that releases best laid plans.

In the way of life, it’s best to take it slow. Unfettered, open to unlearning what has tied me up mind and spirit in unhealthy ways. Relax. Rest, embrace.

I am a caterpillar weaving my chrysalis, snug and steady in subtle transformation. I am not the same person as I was just one year ago. I look back and see the anxiety that plagued, threatened to destroy. But I held fast in release to the ways of Him who had my best in store.//

Live languid. Enjoy the longer time around the harbor. See the small things and note fine details. Detach, revel in newly given freedom of heart. Do not close your eyes. There’s so much that may be missed. Do not wish away this life on thoughts that may never come to pass.

See the mist turn color and be amazed.

 

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Rush.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

If We Are

Here it is, a day drenched in humidity and scorch of sun. Summer has arrived, taking its time appearing to our northern town.

I’ve handled higher temperatures, but this drape of muggy hangs heavy on my body. I am pulsing with the rays of the sun. But the light feels good on my skin, my face I lift to meet the sky.

Here I am, beginning to arrive.

Sunlight strikes my eyes and skin and I shiver, jolt awake, seeing the trees and grass before me, and the season that has been stretching me, readying me for what is coming. It, too, will arrive before I know it.

I wonder about possibility, for questions both breathed and unsaid. For the becoming who I am created to be, and how just a few fractions of light can create a whole garden.

 

If I am waiting, am I really in motion?

If we are wanting, are we already full?

//If we lose hope, how do we survive?

If we forget to see the beauty around, won’t our eyes grow dim?

If we close off our hearts, how will love ever begin to bloom again?

 

So many mountains waiting to push up into the valleys of our souls, hinging on such a small word.

And always, there is more to come, if we are ready to wonder, to delve into that fascinating and slightly terrible question of, “What if?”

What if God just may have wonderful things in stored for us, His beloved children?
What if the dreams that have died and suffocated could be brought to life in new and even more perfect ways?
What if we had the courage to stand in the face of a crusted culture and soften the soil with kindness?

Where can we go in the world to leave a trail of possibility behind us?

Slowly, the clock blinks across the hour, chimes to let me know this moment is marked.

Everything is marked.

Every moment holds more mystery than I usually allow.

If I would open up my mind to see beyond what is in front of me. If I would choose to trust the One who knit me together, listened for His voice and dared to follow where He beckoned… where could I end up?

Where could we all end up if we threw away inhibition and simply leaped in faith?

Where could the road less traveled lead when we step forward and explore.//

 

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: If.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

Repay the Barren Fields

First day of summer but it feels more like fall. Waves move rough in my harbor town, out on the open water. Sky crouches to the earth, tries to make room for sunlight but the clouds will have none of that. I dress how I feel—oversized gray hoodie and frayed jeans. I drive in to town dissatisfied with the options on the radio, change to my CD, which still does not settle me.

It’s taken months for me to catch my breath in the shedding of an old skin, old home, old job and way of life, and dip both feet into these new streams. I am unsure what this will become.

I am healing, but there is so much that still bleeds out, leaves me empty.

There is a blackboard on my wall where I scrawl reminders to myself in chalk. I kept words from a prophet of old on my last days in Kansas City, let them travel with me to Wisconsin:

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.”   -Joel 2:25

What is there to repay when I have given everything and continually come up short? Sometimes it feels like all I ever do is swim upstream but never reach where I need to go.

But here’s a certainty in blinking lights if I would just open my heart and receive it. A chasm in the cosmos in such few words.

What will it take to repair my heart, so battered and bruised as it is? To restore my past, where I wandered off path and found myself surrounded by thorns and thistles? What is there to repay the barren fields?

My breath spills out a bigger exhale than anticipated. It’s been a long, arduous five years. I’ve had my share of the dark, the unexplainable, the restlessness and sharp jabs of aloneness I couldn’t kick. Dreams, delicately cultivated, only to shatter when reality struck. And I would cry my tears, brush myself off, and work on assembling another dream, only to have that one burst with even greater impact.

I wrestled with where I was, grappled with an inner emptiness that latched on and held tight. I was alone without ever quite finding my place in an unknown.

To stand on the precipice of another world, a promise of lighter chest and brighter eyes, appears as a mountain before me. What is my life that I should hope? That I should begin again to hoist my heart into my faith and attempt to try once more, look for the sweet among the sour?

He will restore to me the years that the locusts have eaten. My promise, He tells me.

//This resounds around my head, soft and sweet, like a velvet pillow when I lay down. For years, the storms of alone and dark evenings that grabbed hold of my soul made every day a struggle, and strain on energy and faith as I fought to piece those fractured fragments of a life beyond my understanding together.

Storm clouds gather, but so does sun, somewhere behind the rain.

After years of barrenness and wilderness wandering, I have come out of the clearing, without fully recognizing the new area of rest. God redirected my steps back home and to a house by the harbor, where wind and waves could wrap me in their medicinal embrace and I could hold still, and know that He is good.

Again, my heart fastens to Joel’s words, this promise from the Promise Keeper. He who was with me through the long stretch of years when I was beyond myself, did not know anything but how to suffer and serve in a life I never asked for, then reshuffled yet again into a new experience I never expected. One cannot go so long with insect bites along their past without looking to God to bring forth growth and harvest.  //

One good turn can turn everything around. What was once broken can be restored again. Believe this, my heart pleads. Will I?

What will it take for the Lord to restore the years the locusts have eaten?

Whatever He deems for it to take.

That I can trust and tuck in with my faith to keep plowing and planting.

Repay, I pray.

Repay the barren fields and bring the quenching rain.

 

 

Continuing my attempt at the Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Restore.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.