Wednesday, July 16, 2014

on holding dreams (and my self) loosely

I'm developing a different kind of muscle memory these days; the kind that rests more than it clenches. My whole being is learning to loosen the grip I long held on everything that nearly strangled life right out of me.

A lot of my days were spent so focused on growing that I overlooked who I was. Laughing at my mistakes was something I couldn't imagine doing. I intensely and perfectly tried to be someone I wasn't and missed out on simply appreciating and enjoying me. Rules became my Ruler; my rigid and legalistic ways become my god.

God is so much bigger than me and any of my rules. He allowed me to reach a point of exhaustion where I fell in a heap and said:

     "If there's work to be done in me, You do it.
       I'm too tired to try anymore to fix me! 

       I'm choosing to just be me, as I am
       I'm trusting this is enough." 

In the midst of my giving up with trying to be better or different than I was, my hope was restored and I was given a fresh anointing of peace. And I was able to see that rest is the kind of offering that honors Him best.

To simply live, as I am . . . this is the heart of worship.

It took a long time for me to realize that no one and no thing could fulfill my dreams and give me the kind of life I longed to have. I was angry and agitated for so long, disappointed by all that I thought would give me happiness and peace.

It took brokenness for me to discover that I am loved far more than I ever considered.
It took a depleted heart for me to trust God and rest . . . to live. 

Each new day -- moment-by-moment -- has become an opportunity for me to unwrap God's grace, His true gifts . . . such rich evidence of His love for me.  

Even in the midst of uncertainties and questions that tempt to evade our very peace, we can trust that God loves us and He's got us, and everyone else, too. He knows just how far to let us go and just how far to take us in the valley; we can take a hands-off approach to fixing us (and fixing others).

We can rest.

Though it looks like God is cruel in allowing detours, delays, and disappointment, we can trust there's something He has for us to learn in the process that we've called waiting and simply call it: living.

: : : 

Join me at God-Sized Dreams for more on how I'm learning to hold even my dreams loosely. 

Also linking with Jennifer

Thursday, July 10, 2014

an open apology, and an invitation to simply be . . . as . you . are .

I'm not sure how to address this . . .

To the ones I've embarrassed . . . 
To the ones I've judged . . . 
To the ones I've turned off . . . 
To the ones I've hurt . . . 

To all-y'all . . . 

I confess that I've been too much and not enough at the same time. 

I worried about this, knowing innately that something wasn't quite right, though not knowing exactly what or how to fix me.

The way I lived for so long (and might still have a tendency to sway toward) has been as an extremist. The kind who people look away from and talk about to other people. I've labeled my actions as passionate when really, I've been more than a tad over the top most of the time.

A heart can only take so much of this kind of living. Whether it's extreme happiness or extreme anger, living with such a level of intensity is too much for a soul to rest in peace.

Constantly flittering from one emotion to the next, I lived restless. To "abide" always seemed to me like "complacency" and that just didn't seem like the right thing that I or anyone should be. So I searched harder for what I thought I should be. I tried harder and harder to be who I thought I needed to be.

When I admit that I've lived like this, constantly wondering how I ought to live and to what, and where, and who my attention should be given, I realize that I sound crazy. Quite literally, I've felt it a lot of the time.

I tried all sorts of things to live differently and eventually realized that what I've missed is the "live" part. 

A lot of the time I just wanted to die and I spent my life waiting and even hoping that I would. Just being me, as I am, has always felt so weak when I thought there's more I could be doing. And sure, I could, but there's always a cost.

I thought that if I could just be certain that the reason why I don't have the desires of my heart isn't because something is wrong with me . . . that it isn't my fault why certain things are the way they are . . . that I can fix me and everything else, even if it's true that I've done something, then . . . maybe then I can live . . . but what then? 

Do I really think I'll have this peace-filled, joyous life more than I can have now? 

It's exhausting to try to be someone who I'm not.
It's equally exhausting to try to make someone else be who they are not.

To let things be goes beyond waiting. It ignores for a moment what might be or could be, and just let's what is to simply be. When I just sit back and let things be, there's a great sigh of relief from the intense pressure to perfect me, and you, and everyone.

There's joy to be found right here . . . 
     where we're mindful of all that is . . .
     where we simply unwrap it . . .

               and receive it . . .
               and marvel in it . . .
               as. it. is.

Personally, I believe that God allows all things for purpose and even when something or someone appears so ugly that there doesn't seem like there's any hope at all. I believe there are immense possibilities for the beauty that will be made out of everything. I think of these fuzzy little stuffed animals that existed when I was young that we could turn inside out and they'd become a different creature.

I see life this way:

     Transformable (also sometimes referred to as Redeemable)
     Brimming with beauty (in spite of any apparent brokenness)
     Hope-filled (even though . . . )

I've been so excited about so much in my life that I've wanted to share it with everyone.

That said, I confess that I have hardly considered what words I use that might trigger something in someone else and I have rarely exercised sound judgment. I've been reckless and abused my influence. I've spoken loudly and often, as if I'm on stage all lookatmeish.

I've assumed that I have a responsibility to preach people to conformity after I have been changed, myself . . . to take what I learn and turn it inside out for all the world to see.

I'm learning that I can let people be, as. they. are . . . even if (I think) they're blind.

Eyeglasses aren't meant to be shared.
The script that I have is unique to me.

I can't just toss my glasses to the next person and say:
     Here, take these . . . look through these and you'll see!

It hurts my groom when I share details about him and our life with people. I used to be flummoxed about this, and nowadays I really appreciate the intimacy that we share when we keep others out.

I'm learning that I don't need to share every single thing with every single person, including my relationship with God. My experience as His daughter is unique.

To blabber about what my Father says about me and my life is a lot of the time boasting and bragging doesn't do a bit of good for anyone. I wouldn't do this with my siblings and I wouldn't want my children doing it among each other, either.

My relationship with God is personal and private; not secretive, per say, just not necessarily appropriate for public display. I'm living by faith and less by fear. I'm resting as I trust that what I know is enough.

There's a loosing happening in me. 

     I'm learning to be quieter. 

     I'm learning what it means to live a life of rest. 

My heart is saddened as I'm aware of how I've turned people off and quite possibly hurt them without knowing it; maybe even knowing it and not caring.

For many unique reasons, some people have a problem with me and have chosen to distance themselves from me.

     Some might have blocked me on their Facebook feeds.
     Some might see me and look the other way.
     Some might cringe when I come.
     Some might wish I didn't exist.
     Some avoid my call or text.
     Some lie to me altogether.

I'm incredibly sad at this, heavy-hearted, and quite a bit embarrassed. But what keeps me from running away and hiding my face now is realizing that they knew things about me before I knew them about myself. What difference does it make to run away now? They have already done what they've needed to do since I couldn't see what needed to be done in me.

The people who have remained in my life are examples of how I am loved. They aren't any better than the people who have chosen a life with distance between us. Some might have better off if they did chose another way, though I am selfishly grateful for their choice to stay and maybe even suffer right along with me in their own unique way.

I don't want to imply that I have that much clout in people's lives, because I don't. 

     However . . . I know the influence people can make
          and the ways that we sometimes toy with each others hearts,
          as if we can just pull and tug however we want. 

I've toyed with people and nearly destroyed so much, but thankfully God is so much bigger than me, and her, and him, and you, and all of us. I'm so grateful for this, even though I've resented that I wasn't chosen to be more than who I am.

Pride is a part of being a person. It's ugly and wretched. Yet, it's okay that we are because it reminds us who is God and plays a big role in keeping us all praying in our own way. God can handle our horridness; He really can.

So, to the people I've hurt, I'm sorry for who I was. I'm sorry for who I am a lot of the time. Yet, I can't help it, and I trust that you'll see that, too. I trust that you've found, or are on your way of finding your own peace.

I pray that we'll rest, all of us . . . that we'll live . . . in joy

     . . . even though there's brokenness, and berating, and blaming,
             and behavior that makes us feel like we'll never be enough.

Nothing we've done has gotten us to where we are at this very moment. It's a gift we've been given because we are loved by Someone far better than any of us will ever be.

     You are enough.
          As you are.

     We all are enough.
          As we are.

Our lives were weaved together for purpose that our being imperfect won't ever mess up. 

I'll just keep on breathing, because breathing is something I really can't not to do.
I'll just keep on living, too, because it is also something that I can't not do.

Whether together or apart . . . let's live, let's learn, let's love . . . as. we. are.

     This is our worship.

Linking with Bonnie

Friday, July 4, 2014

the power of freedom

For so many years I lived anxious and restless, never resting in the present.

One foot in the past, my heart longed to know why certain things happened in my story.

     Why did we lose a child? 
     Why did my father move away to not be a part of my everyday life? 

One foot in the future, my heart longed to know if certain things would happen in my story.

     Will we have another child? 
     Will we ever have a real relationship? 

I wanted to make things be a certain way, yet I struggled to let them be as they were.  

At the beginning of this year, a word was impressed upon my spirit. A two-letter word that I questioned in all it's simplicity.
God is loosing me from all that has bound me from experiencing life, from living in joy and abiding in peace, from experiencing his grace to live, as I am.  

In preposition form, it's active and present. According to Merriam-Webster, as is:

-- used to indicate how a person or thing appears, is thought of, etc.
-- used to indicate the condition, role, job, etc., of someone or something.

     as. she. is.
     life, as. it. is.

: : : 

I tried to make a lot of things happen in my life.

With enough coercion, maybe I could convince my groom to try for another child . . . 

With enough forgiveness, maybe I could persuade my father to give me more attention . . . 

With enough good, maybe I could keep my groom happy and not frustrated with me . . . 

With enough perfect, maybe I could get people to notice all my heart work . . . 

With enough intensity, maybe I could control the behavior of my child . . . 

With enough effort, perhaps even the response of anyone and the outcome of anything . . . 

I was a selfish brat who did whatever I could to get whatever I wanted, until I couldn't.
I was never "good enough" to make anything happen. And the painful truth is that I never will be.  
I'll never be good enough to measure up to any standard or make any thing happen while I'm this side of Heaven. And when there, it won't matter to me anyway . . . just as it's becoming less and so while I'm here.

Even when I was given eyes to see my father as a broken human being and forgave him for not being as actively engaged in my life as I had wanted him to be, I couldn't create the kind of relationship I wanted.

Even when a temptation would present itself and I was willing to make a choice that wasn't good for me, I couldn't create an opportunity to experience it whenever, or wherever, or however I wanted.

Even when my groom was finally ready to try for another child, I couldn't make myself conceive whenever I wanted.

Somewhere along the way I thought I could do whatever I set my mind to, whenever I wanted. 

I thought I could make things happen; that I could create and contain and control the outcome of anything. And then, through a series of real-life experiences, I realized that I can't control any thing . . . even myself.

     I can't make myself not crave . . .
     I can't make myself not want . . .
     I can't make myself not care . . .
     I can't make myself not whine . . .
     I can't make myself not control . . .
In frustration, I came to a place where I finally said: "I am a mess and I can't fix me . . . so what!" The place where I came to was to His feet, completely and fully and freely as. I. am.
I told God that I was done with all the trying to be someone I wasn't.

I was done with trying to pretend I was Him and live up to some superhero image. Though angry, I accepted that He made me with faults and failings and fears. I was finally willing to face that I am human. Because, I can't change who I am.

But, I didn't know any other way to live. So, I gave up even trying and said:

     "God, You have to do any work in me that you think is necessary . . .

       I can't make myself be someone who I'm not!" 

And in place of the anger, God gave me acceptance.

     . . . for my self
     . . . for my tendencies
     . . . for my faults.

I've been disappointed at people's inability to understand me, to know me, and to affirm me. And so I lived angry for such a long time. I hovered and tucked myself in a corner. With an angry look plastered to my face, I was satisfied at my ability to keep the doors and windows to my heart sealed shut.

But, God . . . is so much bigger than us.

And He'll do whatever it takes to show us.

So, again, through a series of experiences, God showed me that I cannot even keep a lid on my heart.

I began to crave the communion of others -- a real community where rawness is sipped and savored. And in His faithfulness, God weaved me with the lives of others all across the world, people who have become my true friends. I discovered that I am not alone in my aching and my wondering.

And God gave me an overwhelming passion to tell others that they, too, are not alone.
God gave me a vision for a place where all of us travelers in the journey of life can lodge together without much cost, a hostel of sorts whereby we commune together, sipping and savoring life, as it is -- simply and freely, as we are. A place where brokenness is shared and raw, real life is experienced in abundant joy. 
I dream of opening the doors to an on line hostel called: C'est La Vie: The Magazine. A name quite literally meaning: Life, as. it. is.

The journey of even getting to this vision was long, even claiming it as a dream specifically created for me to receive and be a part of.

: : : 

For so many years I wanted a vacation-like life.

I wanted happy-clappy . . . sand between my toes (just not in other places thankyouverymuch) . . . a gentle breeze from the south with no humidity . . . and French-blue colored sky.

Basically, I wanted perfection. All the livelong day.
As I journeyed through my own story, I learned that vacation and perfect isn't real life. Trying to create a life like that is exhausting, depleting the heart of what life is all about. 
It literally took a recent awareness that I am at risk of a heart attack for me to realize that running and working out and being physically strong doesn't equate wellness, and that strong muscles can actually become weak by constantly contracting. In order to live, I had to rest.

The truth is, I spent what I was given. I gave away my heart and my hope with the expectation that I'd exchange it for happiness and certainty. And when I wasn't entirely understood or challenged for my view, I'd slam the doors and windows shut and hide myself from the world.

I was created to be an influential person and I took advantage of my gift. I can change the setting of any environment and I used it to blame others, positioning myself as the victim and giving myself rights I didn't deserve.

I wanted so much that wasn't mine for the taking, at least not for a time. 
I was an angry person for so long who resented everyone, including my own very life.

In all my wanting . . . .

     a different house . . .
     a different family . . .
     a different job . . .
     a different life . . .

I realized that my groom stayed.

Even though he could have left and wouldn't have been to blame if he did.

My groom stayed wedded to my heart and to our home.
And his staying spoke deep into my soul that I am loved, as. I. am. 

     . . . even with all my curves and all my edges.

I realized that my groom looks at me with a kind of love that accepts . . .

     even though I'd lusted for things that weren't a part of our real life . . .
     even though I hurt him time and time again . . .
     even though I made promises and broke them over and over again . . .

I realized that kind of love is Real, God-created and gifted love.
God showed me that I am welcome at here, even though I am sometimes a terrible, horrible, not so good person. I realized that I can be me, completely and wholly as I am. This is the greatest gift. This is freedom. This is love. 
God invited me to choose life. One that is free to live by faith.

Because of how I'd seen Him show up in my life time and time again . . .
Because of how I could see and understand love in a way I never had before . . .

     I was able to believe that I am purposed and I have a place here, as I am.

Because of the ways I could see I am beloved . . .

     I was able to choose to trust Him . . .
     I was able to stay in my marriage . . .
     I was able to pursue hope . . .

          even though I won't ever be good enough . . .
          even though I won't ever be certain my dreams will be realized . . .

God created me to be His Rock, a solid believer whose thoughts and perspective aren't shifty, based on symptoms or conditions. And He's helping me to live this.

He's changing me from being a raging lunatic to radical lover of people.
He's changing my muscle memory from clenching in fear to resting in trust.

As God looses my grip and I turn my back on the try-hard, rigid, angry, fear-based life that is really more like dying a little bit more with each passing day, I'm choosing grace that focuses on life . . . the Eternal kind.  

When I sit back and examine the first 34 years of my life, I see only a mere spattering of joy across the canvas, not huge sweeps of it.

I want to spend the rest of my life, however long that may be, on joy 
     . . . not jealously or justification.

: : : 

God looses us from all that binds. Though the journey may look long and we may wander off the beaten trail, we're never lost.

He knows just how far we'll go and lets us go as far as we need to in order for us to cry out for His rescue. And He always appears in just the ways we need Him.

As I've journeyed, God has taught me that I cannot make things be and that there is rest to be found when I embrace life, as. it. is.

I am free. 

     I can live.
     I can trust.
     I can hope.
     I can rest.
     I can be.

I'm not quite ready for the fullness of community, or the fullness of family that I hope for in the dreams God has impressed upon my heart.

I'm still recovering from the rigidity that I called life.
I'm still getting to know the life He's called me right now.

But, God is readying me for all that I hope for, every moment by blessed moment. I trust in His perfect timing.

I recently said to my groom that I feel like the seasons are all mixed up for me. He nodded his head as if he understood and that one moment warmed my heart, just as these words do for me:

There's planting and reaping and harvesting, and there's the practice of letting the field lay fallow for awhile, allowing it to prepare again to produce. For the first time in a long time, I'm practicing silence, laying fallow, trusting that the world will keep spinning quite happily without quite so many words from me." (Shauna Niequist)  

So even though the calendar says it's summer and my spirit feels like I've been stuck in winter, I'm patiently waiting as I hold my cup.

I'm letting my favorite person love me, and I'm letting other people love me, too.

I'm exhaling after holding my breath for so long.

I'm accepting me more and more, as I am
     . . . and our simple life, as it is.

I'm living free -- as me -- and this is my offering, this is my worship.

Linking with Jennifer and Bonnie.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

embracing life, as it is

I've spent many days of my life intensely focused on me, thinking about what I need to do better or how I should live differently. Growing has always been a goal for me.

One of my friends has told me on several occasions that I know myself better than anyone she knows. The thing is, I don't. For so many years I studied myself and my circumstances in order to understand why things happened and how I can make things be different than they are. I've tried to forget and to forgive, all to fix the frail parts of my heart.

Accepting myself was something I struggled to do, and so I didn't know who I was created to be; not just created to be, as in the future, but created to be in each moment-by-moment. I've not rested in simply being me. I've not realized that I am allowed to be as I am, and to seek God for who He says that I am.

My life has always felt regular and average, yet there are people all around me who hurt far worse than I ever have. While there are people who don't feel safe in their own home, I have never experienced a life like that. In all my growing up days, my heart was heavy with disappointment over how people can possibly hurt other people, though I was not even physically threatened. I grew up in a loving home and I continue to live in such a place where I don't doubt that I am loved. I feel badly even saying that, as I imagine the people whose lives are far different.

I want to protect other people's heart, yet I am restless and sad when I try to silence my story. I wasn't made to box up my joy in martyr-like ideology with an attempt to make someone else feel better. I cannot control or contain my feelings and experiences and still expect to live. And so, I'm learning to share without shame. I'm learning to let loose my joy and to let it unravel and spiral down through my veins and out my pores. I'm beginning to realize that when I do this, it doesn't make others wounds more painful, it gives others sight to grace and to hope.

My intention isn't to rub salt in a wound by saying, look at me and my happy-clappy life. God is loosing my fear of hurting others by giving me a longing to speak the truth about what He has and continues to actively do in my life, regardless of what that means for someone else's story. The process comes with a lot of trust on my behalf that He will fill the gaps and meet the needs of those weaved with my life; that if something I say or do triggers something painful in them, that He will make them whole. After all, He is always bigger than me.
For most of my life I struggled to receive love for myself; to even consider that I am valued. Now I see all the gifts in my life as evidence of God's personal love for me. 
God knew what would make me smile. He knew what would make my taste buds tickle and what would satisfy me. God matched me up with just the right people and experiences -- some of who even hurt and disappoint me -- for me to discover who He is and that His love comforts me far deeper than the circumstances of my life might momentarily seem to dictate.

I see all the ways God followed me into the trenches of my life. He knew just how far He needed to go to rescue me . . . from myself and my fears . . . for me to surrender my fear-focused life and trust Him.

God knows what it takes for me to see His love for me, moment-by-moment. I'll miss out on experiencing what He desires for me to experience and to know about Him and even my own self if I keep my life tucked away and hidden. And so I'm learning that each moment is a gift and my unwrapping and receiving as it is, is my worship to Him. Unwrapping my story honors all that He Handcrafted for my story and that though I don't understand, I can trust He has purposed. So, I am beginning to tell the stories of my life and I tell them with brave boldness.

: : :  

The home I live in with my groom and our son is filled with love, peace, happiness, and joy. We do things together like play Dutch Blitz, throw the lacrosse ball back and forth to each other, and play video games. There is a lot of laughter in our home on a daily basis. We sit down and have a semi-unrushed breakfast together every day, and most days we have lunch and dinner together. We go for family walks around the neighborhood with our dog and our weekends are mostly quiet-ish and relaxing.

My life is good, idyllic-like. And though I'm aware that it could be different, I'm also aware that I really don't know just how different it could be. I grip tight to this life. I fear that I will be shocked and saddened if our tomorrow isn't like today. And the truth is, I will be. Because, no one can prepare for a diagnosis or a death or a disaster. I will need a strength that is beyond me. I will need God.

I find myself thinking that our Norman-Rockwell-like life can't possibly go on for much longer; we're bound to encounter a tragedy any one of these days. A lot of mornings I gasp at this thought and fear letting myself sip and savor this life as it is. I fear receiving the moments as they are because I know everything could be different.

When a miscarriage ended our baby girl's life, I kept thinking of the women who have carried a baby full-term only to lose him or her. And when a doctor said I had cancer, I kept thinking that there are people who have much worse and more real kinds of cancer. In both of those experiences I placed limitations on my feelings, just as I continue to do with my life as it is today as I try to protect my heart in preparation for a potential hurt.

This tightly gripped "self-protection" kind of life actually has taken more energy and has inhibited me from experiencing perfect peace and joy, and most of all, Real life.

God is teaching me what it means to live a life of rest. My life might be different tomorrow or even two minutes from now, and while I don't want to take it for granted, I feel called to count my gifts and live with thanks for each moment, as it is.

My life has purpose for what it is right now and for what it has been. While several friends are frantically raising several littles who are one, two, or three years apart, I am raising one Boy-Man who is nearly a decade old and still hoping for another who will be at least nearly 11 years apart in age. While my friends speak of their life as chaos, I envy the comfort of having a larger and not so contained sized family. My friends aren't better than me with their multiple, close-in-age children who have siblings as their best friends and I'm not better than them with my simple and quiet life.
When I simply live my life, I am reflecting a heart of gratefulness for how God allows it to be. To live my own life is to trust Him. This is the heart of worship.  
If God should see it necessary for my life to change, I can trust that He's got it and He's got me. For now I can use these days to learn more about what it means to rest and not worry, to quiet the noise that says I'm missing out or wasting my days by living so simple and still. I trust God's training me today to rest and to respond, instead of react to the change or challenges in my life with shame for how I've lived.

When the tumbleweeds should start to whirl and twirl in front of me and the storm clouds rush in (because clearly we're not in Eden and this is the stuff life this side of Heaven is made of), I hope I will trust Him and abide in the peace He has given and will continue to give.

Today, I'm simply breathing and give thanks for this life, as it is. I'm trusting that this is the worship He desires from me: to live, as. I. am.

Linking with Jennifer

Monday, June 23, 2014

a lesson on art

I grew up with the mindset that being "artistic" is something a person either is or isn't.

Looking at everyone else's art would make me want to hide my own. I didn't think I was good enough. And as a parent, I've done the same thing with my son's artistic creations.

I've rolled my eyes, made excuses, and even suggested that he's a bit on the immature side. When he was attending public school, I would see the hallways lined with children's artwork and my mind would compare my son with his peers. Deep inside I didn't think he was good enough.

My nine-year-old son's pictures of people resemble stick figures while the same aged girl down the street practically has a person's complexion and jaw-line drawn out as real life-like.

This past winter I came home from work on several occasions to find my son handcrafting a three-dimensional "house" made out of construction paper. A staircase with a railing . . . a newscast script and video camera with wiring . . . a fireplace . . . a pizza box . . . grease on the floor of the garage . . . "The Sharp's" home, as he named it, was life-like! And beyond what I saw, the storyboard my son developed behind his self-motivated, independent paper creation is remarkable evidence of how his brain works; he thinks of details with an engineer-like mind.

As it turns out, my son was inspired by a three-dimensional paper exhibit he viewed at the new teaching museum on the campus where I work. Students here are expressive and many have a varied interest in art, though they aren't majoring in the subject. Art is studied cross-curricularly and my son has had the opportunity to see it for himself. An evening concert with mountain ballads, fiddle tunes, banjo playing, and scrolling illustrations called crankies, also recently inspired my son.

Beyond seeing art, The Boy-Man has been inspired to create art for himself . . . in his own way with his own creative thinking.

The thinking that I'm not good enough has been infused throughout my life story. Fear has coursed through my veins as I've compared and measured myself to others, placing limits on me that has squelched my risk-taking and courage to live, as I am.

It's awful to realize how much of myself I've given up. I didn't have a favorite color or food or flavor. The word should bossed me around and I'd look to others for the answers, as if life was a test I was cheating on because I was too afraid that I might be wrong about something.

Writing was something that I kept hidden for a long time, and I still get the heebie-jeebies to share among certain kinds of people, especially the academic-folk. I stay clear away from poetry because fear tells me I don't know how, yet someone told me once (or twice, maybe) that my writing is at times poetic-like. It's just that I don't always know how people decide to break the lines where they do and that's where fear gets the best of me.

People have also told me in recent years that I am real. Once I discovered what it feels like to just be me, I realized that I don't have a choice but to live any other way than as I am . . . if I want peace, that is.

I might be too much for some people. I might make some squirm or shuffle in their stance. I can tend to be a bit over the top and dive a bit too deep for some people. Others seem to appreciate how I openly share my heart and don't sugarcoat my thoughts. Passion carries me away sometimes and I live a lot by emotions and intuition.

I'm learning that living real and life-like is beautiful art. Living this way is the greatest gift we can give God. When we live our raw, real selves out loud we are honoring who He deliberately allows us to be. We can trust that if there is any part of us that needs any fixing, He'll do what's necessary in and through us.

We can simply be.

     This is our offering.
     This is our worship.

And so, I am choosing to trust these days more than I am choosing to fear. I'm stepping out and putting one foot in front of the other in a metaphorical way. I'm doing as I'm led, being actionable about God-sized dreams and crazy ideas, even though I don't have all my ideas perfectly all together and even though I'm not entirely 100% equipped right now.

To live in such a way whereby we fully and freely live reminds people that they aren't crazy as they are, and that they aren't alone. To live this way is to trust that God has purpose for us, as. we. are -- messy and immature and not entirely put together or fully equipped.

God has told me through the years that Peter, one of Christ's disciples, and I are kin. We were both shifty in nature, not confident enough to stand on our own two feet, bullied by fear. Yet, God worked in us an unshakable faith as we began to know Him in such a personal way. He told us both that we are a rock, for Him. Peter's faith built people up and God tells me that mine does too; that my faith is a place of stability in times of fear, reminding people that they can rest, as they are.

Our very living as. we. are. is the heart of worship. We reflect our trust that we can simply embrace who we are, and that God purposes us all of who and how we are for His glory. He's a God of inside out transformation, declaring the ugly as beauty and the imperfect as perfect, making our messy lives works of art.

Friday, June 6, 2014


i remember the way they looked and how they felt. as a young child, i spent so many moments just looking at my mother's long, thin fingers and her beautifully sculpted nails. i'd trace the wrinkles from her knuckles and ask to try on her rings.

so many sunday night's after a warm bath, she'd comb and brush my hair. she'd clap and holler my name as i ran by during all those rain drenched meets. she prepared dinner, weeded the garden, ironed, and even smoked with those thin, beautiful hands.

and now, years later, i look down and see those same hands on me.

we've each made choices that have pained us and pained others. we've signed papers, handed out money and held someone with them. there has been so many commonalities between us. at some times i've denied it or tried to avoid it, yet regardless of what we sift there will always be similarities that remain between us.

we're writer's, and momma's and friend's. we've each been broken and mended, and broken and mended again, and again, and again. we've been hopeful and lost hope, and shared hope and bolstered each other's hope, around and around again. we've prayed loudly and silently, just as we've cussed. we're real and bold and raw and brave.

and now, years later, i look down and give thanks for those hands, and i smile.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tuesday thoughts

Yesterday morning I received an email from my mother titled "Tuesday thoughts" and I found it particularly beautiful for reasons I cannot describe. Remarkable things have happened in our relationship and I believe this is only the beginning. My hope is that you'll see what I mean in due time. 

For now, I pray you might find yourself saying I belong here, as. it. is. 

So, this morning, earlier than usual for me, I walked and jogged, jogged and walked. It wasn't pretty. 

Forget the pain in the shins, forget the clumsy gait, forget that I forgot about crowns and gravel. 

What made me bend my elbows, lengthen my stride and exercise my lungs? 

Couldn't say.

Will it happen again? 

Couldn't say. 

Does it matter? 


But enough about my exercise experience. I found myself enjoying my town. 

The bus drivers waved, the town workers waved, the little girl walking to school alone said "hi". For many years my legs took me through the village. I peeked in shop windows, I hollered at inconsiderate drivers, I smelled the lilacs, I watched crossing guards keep children safe and I never gave it a thought.

This is my town. I belong here. 

It doesn't matter if the bus driver of bus #45 remembers me as the woman greeting my grandson off the bus on Old Kirkland Ave. The town and village workers don't care if I run or walk, they are keeping my town tidy. The little girl walking to school trusted enough to return my "hi".

I've lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else. I don't know a lot of people (I like it like that). I'm not a member of any club or organization but I belong here. It may sound funny to you, but I finally feel at home. 

I'm not a transplant, I belong here. 

I'm not just someone's mother, someone's wife or someone's daughter in-law.  

This is my town, where I've rooted, gotten a library card, started my running years, raised my family and waved to strangers. I walked to Agway yesterday to buy pumpkins seeds and the proprietors didn't care that my bills were sweaty from my walk.

I belong here. 

Linked with Emily.