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.

Sky Among Shadow

Overnight, this Midwest town transformed to a winter land. The sun will melt a few inches throughout the day, but  unwelcome nonetheless as we edge into April.

I hear them calling from branches, those messengers of warmer days. But the birds are all confused: which is it, snow or spring?

This crazy weather makes miss Kansas City, where every day was a guess as to what it would be like. I miss the growth that carved itself in me. I still feel like there was so much more to explore, so much more to become. I did not feel my time was up. But God moves in mysterious ways, and I had to embrace the wind that had already begun to sweep me away.

///

My whole life I’ve been afraid to settle. Terrified of lowering myself to minimal. Of striving for the very best I’m meant to make of life and find out I didn’t quite achieve that level, make the cut.

When I was navigating what would become of this next season of life, I did not want to find myself back in my hometown, because I was terrified I’d slip back into the old ways of life in this slow, decades-paved pace of life. To have stretched my spirit and grown into another person—deeper, wiser, eyes open to the wide world around me—only to snap back to the beginning, go through the motions and get caught up in the bubble of middle-class suburbia.

Well, here I am. Back home. When I asked for any and everything else, God gave me a Great Lake and a job to build from the ground up.

To settle is the absolute worst destiny for me. I do not want to turn back as I look on my life and wonder, What if? Where did my hopes go? Where died the dreams I draped across my heart to heal the world?

Water drips down the covering outside our center, late afternoon sunlight glares off the wooden tables in the window. A stillness when the kids are gone. A slow revelation of life just as I feared, but a fight in me to make it different. ///

How do I settle when every bone in my body fights against the notion? Resign to monotony, day in and day out, drudgery that depicts what’s contrary to what God has reassured me of time and time again.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been set upon a voyage doomed to fail. Is there room for sky among shadow?

How do I be real with myself and voice my deepest fears? How can I be honest without regretting my current situation that is, as ungrateful as I may appear to be, seasoned all over with grace?

There is so much of my life I haven’t expected.
Like a crazy winter storm in the middle of spring.
So much unanticipated, to stare in the face and say is mine.

Right now, I feel pretty weak in these times of uncertainty, clinging to what little of hope for abundantly more that I still hold in my heart’s pocket.

I look up from my table, where papers and notes are spread before me. The café is full of light.

There is no room for shadows. Only breaking open of sky. Green splashed against the wall, canvas of color line the room. Silver espresso machine gleams with its newness. If I slip close enough, I can catch the lake blue of my eyes reflecting back, studying me.

How do I keep my head and my heart straight up?
Stand in the sun. Stay in the Son.

Choose this day to believe that I am heading towards the best of life. As a cherished one of God, there is no other destiny.

In the midst of the sorting of seasons yet again, it’s all I can do to take one breath and turn it into a prayer of surrender, of obedience with a trusting heart. A trust that chooses to take today, full of snow and the unexpected, and keep hope alive for spring.

Because it’s coming.

Because I can wait.

 

 

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: Settle.   /// symbolizes where five minutes started and stopped.

Chambers Open Wide

What in the world have I agreed to?

Put my heart on display again and again, exposed to break repeatedly. To stand in the gap for the ones who can’t formulize their struggles, whose pain is so far buried beneath the pressures of perfection their souls can’t find space to breathe.

I am going to battle for these precious people. To dive into the trenches and lay my life on the line for theirs.

This is what I agreed to when God took over my heart and I gave Him mine. When I said I would go wherever He wanted, that I would serve however He saw fit. And while He has redirected me to a new environment, even though it’s one I’ve been very familiar with for years, He is opening my eyes to see that there is need for His light through a different darkness.

I agreed when I stamped my signature in His blood, when I said I would bleed the same and unstitch my wounds to wind around the open cuts of others. So here I am, carefully careening into the world of heartache and trouble and a desperate search for someone to listen. Carefully careening—an oxymoron if ever I heard one. Who am I kidding? I’ve been racing towards this minefield for months, brakes disassembled, head down and speeding ahead.    ///

Whether we like it or not, hearts are on the line, and we either agree to advocate for those who ache, or go about our days listless and lacking life.

Lacking life will leave me wanting, leave me empty and shaking at the surge of hope inside me slipping away. Advocate it is. I agree with my heart’s pull to lead its love with chambers open wide.

 

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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: Agree.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

Fumes and Fresh Air

What stops me from letting my entire self spill out for the world, for its inhabitants? Why am I so scared to be burned again that I shy away from the burdens that grip and break the earth? Why do I dance around the darkness of the lives of others when I preach that I am not afraid of hard things?

It’s time I make a bloodied effort again, nevermind the bruising. Be intentional in the way I listen to the hidden cries behind the smiles, share the scars among the happening. To see beyond the exterior and not look away when the glare of pain becomes too great. There are people who need someone who will not slow in her pursuit of smoothing salve into their punctured hearts. Make it my ambition to grab the hurt by the gut and go deep into the depths of healing.  //

Be direct in dealing with the hard. Once again, give in to my fears of being broken open for the sake of another. For what do I gain if I simply scratch the surface?

We are meant to breathe in this world together, both the fumes and fresh air.

I am coming for the hurt, for the struggle, for the hope. Wither fervor. With intention. With a fierce determination that puts my fear to shame. I will not take my heart away from those whose hearts are waiting, and will instead entwine our ventricles so that the cuts and dreams they feel will fill my chambers as well.

 

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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: Intentional.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

 

Only The Brave

What motivates me?

If I’m honest, I’m afraid that I am lazy. That I don’t want it enough, whatever it is. That the passions of my heart don’t blaze as hot as the dreams of others, that I lack the will power or work ethic to make my hopes become reality.

I can let the quiet images of my hopes for life linger on the canvas of my mind, but to turn them into spoken determination, I more often give half-hearted effort but do not find a way to finish what I began. Or, I let self-doubt dig its claws into my skin, give in to the hiss of insult slung in my ear. And soon, I let my defenses down and start to believe the lies for distorted truth. Even when I know in the back of my brain that I have so incredibly much to offer this world.

Maybe I’m just a dreamer. Maybe I will always be stuck marveling at the success of others, how they seem to have direct connection to God, who allows them to live out the desires of their hearts and not merely live, but flourish in them. It is a battle to keep myself upright and keep from swerving into a victim and woe-is-me mentality. But, in a way, there is no one to blame but myself.

Freedom should come from nothing less than every ounce of desire come from Him who made the heavens and my heart. // And motivation should be an easy yoke to bear, instead of bringing me down.

Deep down in the hollow of my heart, there’s a belief that I am better than what I tell myself. We are all susceptible to lies, but only the brave call their bluff.

Outside the window of the Starbucks I’m sitting in with my new soul friend, dry, brittle brown grass points through the thin layer of snow. Winter settles itself too long in this place, and the frigid air that slaps a sting of cold across your cheek does its job of discouragement very well. In Wisconsin, it’s a double whammy, where I have to fight against the weather and myself. Lord, give me strength to slay these dragons.

A weak sun casts small shadows over the pines, bare-branched maples stiff and erect along the sky. There are secrets from the sun, the ones that make me search and dream.

We had all better be living for something. For something that makes this life bearable and gives hope to the next. Always, our hearts beat to believe, to fight for what jolts us awake.

I must not lose the exhilaration of the climb, the peak, the descent. The staring straight-faced and unblinking into the eyes of my fear and saying that it won’t have power over me. That I will still fight, I will unlock my passion and have its wild-streak lead me. I am myself, after all, God’s own daughter, beautiful, strong and free.

I can be no one else.

 

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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: Motivate.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

Only The Wonder

It feels like I’m the only in a lot of areas.

Only one around who isn’t ecstatic to be where I am.

The only one who isn’t in a serious relationship, married, or having kids.

The only one who has the position I have because I am single and can afford to work crazy hours.

The only one whose loneliness cuts deep, but is too busy and afraid to dive in and examine these heart aches.

Only can be terrible, can be isolating, can be everything I’ve feared with plopping in this new life. This season is one of only, attempting to excuse my disappointment and cover up with what I am assumed to be expected gratefulness. And I am, but I have to think of the thoughts that pulse behind my mind, lingering, letting me know not all is quite well.

If only I could have followed my heart and had my life work out the way I desperately wanted to.

If only I would never had opened my heart in the first place.

If only I knew what was coming, I would have appreciated where I was all the more. //

What if my heartache always lingers? What if it stays burrowed in the base of my bones? If only I never made hopes and expectations of my life, I wouldn’t have been prone to plummet in disappointment.

Only, what if all my disassembled dreams have been unraveled so God could create something beyond my greatest imagining?

There’s only so much time I can spend weighing myself with what is in the past.

Now, there is today.

Here. One breath and then another.

There is only where I stand today, a slow, sweet current brushing the bare soles of my feet.

Only the wonder of what is yet to be.

 

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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: Only.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

Fold Into The Silence

First swirls of snow weaving through the sky, clear against the evergreen and grass. A quarter way up the giant coniferous sits a cardinal in all his crimson glory. Slowly, the transfer of seasons begins once more.

It’s hard to sit in this new rhythm of life, where the means of what makes my heart beat with purpose keeps shifting and turning. Sometimes, the difficulty of clearing out various voices and plans blocks my soul’s voice. She needs silence. And yet she wears many layers of words from another design.

Give me a silent night, alone, to my thoughts, to my heart. Right now, I’m back with family, and I love them dearly, but I have no space of my own to breathe. Oftentimes, I’m working in my new job until later in the evening, when I fall through the door in desperate reprieve of the bitter sting of Wisconsin wind. ///

Rhythms of rest are hard to come by, though this new cadence flows better to who I am with a moving schedule that is never the same. Between directing a new nonprofit and getting it off the ground, to writing for the local paper and still telling stories for international ministries, I am abounding in opportunities and God’s miraculous provision.

I know He desires me to sit with Him, place my frantic at His feet. Especially as I’m over my head and overwhelmed. But He walks with me, and I cannot hurry His pace. There is still much to learn, much to cultivate.

Such a pure flow of small specks of flakes. They well know the cadence of silence, being still even as they fall.

Softly sings the snow, in quiet whispers reminding me of rest, of trust beyond the borders of seen. For that, I will fold into the silence.

 

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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: Silence.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

Sustain My Sanity

My world right now is rickety.

Swathed in dense fog, all unknown. This is how to walk by faith. Certainly not by sight.

I stepped off the precipice and entered freefall, but I know in the chaos God is guiding order.

I would not be able to sustain my sanity without the support of those who hold me up. The countless prayer partners lifting me to the throne of Heaven, the countless encouraging words of my father, the endless optimism of my mom, and the solid belief of my siblings who see the good in me.

I walk through the thicket into a new season that I engaged in, yet hardly expected the scene of what it is for the time being. Move across states back to homeland, still waiting for a job to materialize, and wonder of where in the world I am going.

But my support stands firm with me, backboned in the truth of God’s Word and His sure promises.

I do not know when again I’ll find firm footing, but I do know that I press on with bold courage, a battle against discouragement, and dear friends and loved ones bolstering me with their words and bended knees on my behalf.

Even in the swirl of unsettledness, I trust Him who parts seas and stills the storm. For Him who has kept every last promise He has made, for the glory of His name’s sake.

Here is where faith digs in. Here is where we still shape our character, forge our spirit. We go together, for all the good that is to come.

 

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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: Support.

Catches Your Attention

Comfort is knowing I cannot mess up. For the fear-laced perfectionist within, I oftentimes stand terrorized at making wrong choices. But then I swallow down the lies that life will be forever ruined if I deter from the best decision, and step into the deep ocean of grace that is greater than my meager self-destructive musing. I remember what catches my attention:

Cool water on a hot summer day, skin sliding through the surface. The hum of Lake Michigan when the air is soft and the world seems wide, blues brushing together and merge with gray. Mug of dark, rich coffee in the morning, ribbons of steam swirling to the ceiling. Nestled in my nook, curled on the couch and pen in hand, caverns of words to sift and shape.

All the simple things, all the beauty I fail to see when I blind myself in anxiety.

Slow, girl. Calm your spirit. Rest in Him who holds your care.

I am at ease.

I will let life happen.

This is not all there is—there is always more to unfold. And to walk towards with wonder.

Remember what catches your attention.

 

 

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The fourth 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: Comfort. Tried computer typing for this one and still didn’t increase word count that much. Again. Keep going.