Real with Me

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.  
-Psalm 54:4

 

I need You to be real with me.

I cannot take the stale air I am choking down, force-fed the way of ideology in Your name. Call me a non-conformist, call me stubborn, rebellious, whatever fits, but I am tired of others telling me who You are and how I should behave with You.

I have to see it for myself.

I have to touch the skin of Your hand.

No more muted conversation or half-lingering listening. No more putting words in my mouth I’m ready to spit back out. The rules I am told to follow in the freedom emanating from You pierces fickle in my soul, pairs hollow with whitewash, where I know by how I feel, that something is amiss.

My heart is off and it terrifies me. What I run through each day is rote, not enough. You have to show up and strike the coals of my fire how I need to be stoked. You must be honest and vivid, crack and burst before me because I cannot have You lined up straight-edged and stagnant.

You are not the God others tell me You are, You are not the God of my organization, You are not the God that has grown stale within me. Show me who You are when You break out of the box we’ve all put You in, watered down and tasteless.

I want You. Take away every distraction and opinion and supped “how to” on having a relationship with You, and speak for Yourself into my ear. I am tearing at the seams and only You can stitch me back, with color and thread puncturing my skin to test my sensors, make certain I still feel.

Raise me to life. I am suffocating and it is You, full and fantastic, who will revive me, resurrect my faith. Fashion me with Your design, dare me to find You, to draw near so You can show me how You’re already well inside me.

All the voices I hear, the words I speak, static mantras mentioned over and over and over—they fall heavy like bricks. They do not mean a thing, unless I am shocked in soul by You.

Come to me. No more games. No more assembly line. Give me the original. Give me who You are when I turn off the noise and peal myself away from monotonous religion.

It is my life on the line, my constricting heart, daring to beat again.

You had better give me something, because I am desperate to discover You. Deep flesh, freshly divine.

Show me exactly who You need to be for me. Show me exactly who You are so I can see. This kicking heart won’t accept anything less.

Please, be real with me as my heart craves. As a restoring promise, to charge and spark my life again.

 

 

Read Again:

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.   -Psalm 54:4

 

Linger:

How does God sustain me?
Am I confident that He delights in helping me when I am in need?
God, what are You saying to me through this verse?

 

Who are You, as I need to see? Surely You are my help, my focus, my sustenance. Over and over, I get tied up in lies and twisted reality, where I make false facts about myself and the smallness of You. I shut You down, box You in, leave my heart dry and empty. This will not do. Revive me, help me to recognize You, and bring a realness to my heart that it has been craving but has yet to receive. Show me who You are. Amen.

How We Have Grown

When I came home from work on a frigid Monday evening, worn out and sick, I found a brown bag full of saltines and Verner’s Ginger Ale at my back door. I barely even knew you. But that was who you are, who you continue to be. You took care of me then and you take care of me now.

How has it been two years since I took your name, took my life and placed it in your hands? My goodness, how we have grown. How we have built each other up and asked for forgiveness, how we have learned how we feel by assessing body language.

You are my support. When my smile is wide and heart is light. When my mind and heart are heavy and my smile turns into sobs. When I lose my way, you bring me back. You are patient, loving, gentle, kind, and more than I ever could have imagined.

What a gift you are, my pillar from God who speaks His love into me with words, with actions, and with nothing at all but strong and secure arms around me. You have held me in my darkest of nights and somehow the light has sifted through because you stay, unafraid.

My love dives deeper into depths I cannot understand or explain. You hold me up and lay beside me, lead and walk with me. Thank you for picking me, for choosing me and understanding me more than I ever could have dreamed. Happy two-year anniversary, Eric. Two years as your wife is just the beginning. My support and love for you only strengthens. You’re my favorite!

 

How Much The World Changed

**Rain falls soft, mist-like, over the moon, shrouding the deep navy sky. I sit on Eric’s couch, Cider Lane candle lit to fill the apartment with the light scent of caramel, crunched leaves, and harvest moonlight. He is in his office doing work, and I am in the living room working on a freelance blog post. It is enough to be under the same roof together. This begins to feel incredibly good, routines with him. Sunday nights at home. The subtle warmth of falling in love. I allow myself to imagine what it could be like, if this turns into an everyday occurrence.

                How much my world changed in such a short amount of time.**

**I knew, back in that September, that I wanted this everyday occurrence with you for the rest of my life. I wanted that more than anything I’ve ever wanted. You were gently teaching me the boundless outpouring of love, what it meant to give of myself for the sake of another.

Eight months later, I walked to you over the water and we stood face-to-face, promising to give ourselves to each other, in all the struggle and softness this world would offer. This past year has been full of adjustments, surprises, and growing pains that have stretched us both into new people, fused as one. My eyes are open to the world with you, and I find myself pausing in the middle of a moment, grateful to God at the great gift I have been given in loving you.

Thank you for being my husband for one year. It’s a chasm that keeps growing, the years of our love. Here’s to the ones to come that draw us deeper, tighter together. You’re my favorite.

 

Elements of Silence

Today’s the kind of day where the damp goes straight to your bones.

Where the wind laughs wildly and slaps the waves of Lake Michigan and makes them jump ten feet in the air.

Where rain and snow merge amidst the clouds and storm to earth as slick and sharp sleet. Like your skin’s stitched with daggers.

The boards of this house creak and rock like a ship sloshing through the mass of water. Cold filters through the windows as if there are no panes at all.

I keep the lights off and let the muted gray move its way through the halls; pace the room and collect the silence, save the howl.

Howl.

Is that what this noise in me is doing?

Looking for you in all the wrong places and lashes out in frustration when you’re nowhere to be found? When the truth slips my feet from under me and turns me upside down?

Wind rolls sideways, upturning the tree branches. The sky is turning slate quicker than I would have thought. Can I light a candle not in remembrance, but to forget?

Let the elements roll in. Limbs become submerged in ice and face turns to the tide. At breakwater’s edge atop this hill that holds these howls for what has been, I drink the mist into my eyes, translucent fuse of fog and dusk, become a myth, the silence.

To Always Have Hope

You have taught me that much, to ask without doubt, look to joy, to always have hope.

But as for me, I will always have

hope;

I will praise You more and

more.

-Psalm 71:14

I don’t like being up early. But here I am, on the couch as the world out my window slowly unveils itself from the misty charcoal. All week, my right arm has felt like a nerve pinched; I still have tiny doses of fear that I’ll fall apart from my health trauma.

God, You have been so good to me.

Sometimes, I am still afraid.

Sometimes, I still don’t see this world as You want me to.

Sometimes, all I see is myself.

You bring me from the barren places and set me high on a steady rock; my feet firm in Your truth. Perhaps I will always falter at points, but I will always have hope. You have taught me that much, to ask without doubt, look to joy, to always have hope.

Banana cream oatmeal this morning. Here’s to being healthy, in habits, action, and thought.

God, You have transformed the patterns of my mind.

Sometimes, I wish I were more.

Sometimes, I want to be fearless.

Sometimes, I believe I can use my life to make a difference.

You have done deep healing work in my heart—literally, with closing the holes in my aorta, and also emotionally, binding up my scars and wounds and restoring me to my first love in You. Surely, You have shown me great goodness in the land of the living.

Now, light has opened to a pale gray, brush of clouds low in the sky. The street is seeing more traffic—here comes the world awake in my little area of the world.

God, You are my sustenance and strength.

Sometimes, the dreams in me beat against my chest so loud I fear I’ll tear in two.

Sometimes, I wonder if they are enough.

Sometimes, I settle.

But Your voice calls reminds me who I am in You and who You have formed me to be. You have brought me this far not to settle but to live my life in full. For abundant joy, and I am beginning to know for the first time what that looks like, and that it is OK.

You claim more than OK for me, for all who lean into You. Help me not to forget.

Oh God, help me not to forget Your beauty is my breath.

Commit To Another

When you commit to another, you speak loud your promises, look deep into irises and bind your soul to theirs, life to life. Testing will come, and you stand ready, bright and eager to light the dark ahead. Never to imagine that 38.5 hours into marriage you’d wake to a husband’s inflamed organ, dial 911, and set off on an emergency ferry in the middle of a snowy night, waves rolling five feet in the air, to an ambulance transfer and hour drive down twisted roads of tiny towns. Nor do you consider the strain of his stomach rushing him off to surgery to extract a decaying appendix quickly setting itself up to burst. Bleary-eyed and on the floor, you pray in the corner of the windowed waiting room, text your prayer warriors, run on fumes, wait. Or after successful surgery, you cannot see or stay with him because of COVID so you nap in the back of your Jeep in the parking lot, drive around town looking for a place to stay the night, and constantly call the nurses station to get an update on your new husband’s recovery. And when he’s finally released and you are there waiting by the door to help him into the passenger’s seat, you’re just so thrilled to touch him, breathe him in, you ignore the flurry of fear that had you gripping the steering wheel and praising God for victory on those barren country roads as you lost sight of the ambulance and counted down the miles to the emergency room. The next days are filled with preparing food, helping with clothes, washing and changing gauze on stitches and stilling your own breath at night to make sure you hear his. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. Where the rubber hits the road in marriage, so soon out the gate you exhale, “You’ve got to be kidding!” But you wouldn’t trade it for the world, for God is good, clearly present, and full of grace. This is what you said yes to, a mere days ago, for the rest of your life: serve one another, love each other deeply, for all that comes.

This is marriage week one, and I am so glad for it. So glad to be journeying this crazy adventure that is our life, that has been since day one. We have quite the story, you and I, such a unique love.

*

As always, the delightful and breathlessly talented Hannah Toldt Photography did what she does best capturing our special day.

Recluse

I started out lonely, a fern among flowers. I hid deep in the shadows’ underside of woods, where the fingers of the sun never stroked my face. I craved corners, deep crevices where I huddled in the underbelly of obscurity. I was a recluse. I bathed in new moons where my face was sheltered in an enveloping ink of black velvet. I was far away from life. I was far away from you.

Anguish

It is a crushing pressure,
to hang the weight of the world
upon one’s shoulders.

An overwhelming anguish
that snakes its way
along the spine and
coils around the heart.

When sweat becomes
drops of blood that pour
down your skin,
you know it’s serious.

But surrender is sacrifice,
bend of knee and will.
He broke bones and flesh
to burst forth
new beginning
for us all.