See The Good

See the good.

In silence. In softly falling snow. In the amazing, chaotic, lovely. In the in-between. In the breath. In whispered prayer. In simple movement of one foot in front of the other.

All is good. All is the gift. All from grace.

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Grace of Again

Here we go, life.
Another turn around the galaxy.
What will this world spin into?
Are we ready?
Are we watching?
We get another chance
to learn, to love, to leave
an imprint on the soft earth of hearts.
Here we go, life.
Blessed with
the grace of again.

Wanting More

Is it worth it? Wanting more from this life? Daring to hope, suspended breath, afraid the smallest exhale will scatter all you’ve longed for?

Keep breathing out your prayers. Keep walking into the days, daring to hold hope in your heart after all this time.

Reminders

Cardinal flits across the road, flash of red sticks out among muted brown and gray. Cardinals stay through the winter, through the cold, the barren, the unyielding hard.

I am to do the same.

Water. It calls to me after being cooped up for weeks. I make the short drive to my old college campus, wave to the young girl at the welcome desk kiosk, wind the narrow road that wraps around the lake.

Today, a tired sun is making its way through milky clouds. It lights the world nonetheless. There are shadows cast along the damp grass, my body outlined on the row of rock arched around the bluff. Clamor of metal hitting together of the new business building construction echoes behind me—this campus sure is growing.

Water and sky blur together from the haze, gray foam of cloud barely atop a steel teal of lake—everything seems washed. From somewhere at the bottom of shoreline, soft waves roll to land. Dead prairie grass leans along the sloped bluff, tan and brittle. Long, spindly arms of empty ash trees hold their perch along the ledge.

It’s quiet, and I am alone the day after Christmas. A few hours ago, I unstrapped the four lead electrodes from my chest and abdomen, shut off the phone monitor, packed up the Holter unit and dropped the box at the UPS store in the Pavilions shopping center two minutes from my parents’ house. It will be on its way to Illinois to be processed, results calculated. I don’t know when I’ll learn if they noticed an arrythmia, maybe at my cardiologist appointment in January. I’m again in full trust mode as I acknowledge God as my monitor, His watchful gaze on my heart, on my head.

Another phase down, another step towards healing, or answers, or living in the unknown.

We all live in the unknown, really. Every day. Who ever knows what comes?

Curled leaves lie at my feet, half covered by the overgrown grass. Hints of previous seasons making themselves known well into winter.

There are always reminders of where we’ve been, who we were. They trail behind us quietly, catching hold of the wind to make no sound. Sometimes they pull ahead, catch on our sneakers so we stop to see what’s changed our stride, peel them off and examine all that has transpired, how we have transformed.

Keep watch for the good. Count each detail as a keepsake. Always remember. Taupe, pointed leaves nestled in the grass. Calm of Lake Michigan floating in its own movement. Break of spindled sun, light cutting through days of clouds.

Heart free from its surveillance, no more metal monitor heavy on my breastbone. Every day a miracle. Every miracle, great grace.

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.

Rebuild The Jagged Edges

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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.

Blessed Silver Lining

Trail of rain pulls down the sky like tufts of seagrass before a storm. A shift in water’s hues—silver to steel to aqua. Drops fall through tree branches, splattering my porch roof, the yard. I tuck my arms into my sweatshirt, huddle my body warmth as close as possible. This is the underside of autumn, shadowed spaces sprawled across the sky. The pieces no one leans in to examine closely. But these details—the sodden trails, hiccups of gray along a color-stitched lawn, bite of wind snapping at my skin—are part of the shift of seasons, necessary for the earth to evolve as it is meant to in the swing of spring to summer, summer to fall, fall inevitably into winter.

Seasons shift in my own life as well. One full year has passed since I moved from Kansas City to Wisconsin and back to my hometown, where I fought tooth and nail to stay away. It’s hard to believe I’ve been back for a year, on top of four previous turns of the earth that tightened my chest and tested my will, molded my spirit and made me wonder how in the world the struggle could make me stronger.

I’ve been sad, afraid and discouraged more times than I’d like as I fought the calling to stay in Kansas City and work for an international sports ministry. It was a beautiful place, but I was barren inside. How many months I railed against God at my discomfort, my unhappiness, the unraveling of my well-tended dreams for life that gave way to guttural growing pains tending a path I never saw as part of my story. Each time I couldn’t stand the strain, he’d bring a little consolation and larger confirmation that, yes, I was indeed meant to be smack dab in the middle of right here, right now.

 

**Read the rest of my essay in the Redbud Post!

 

 

 

Serve Small

It starts with a smile.

To look someone straight in the eyes, see into their life, and welcome them to yours.

It’s a simple hello and follows with an honest ask: “How are you?” Then, taking the time to look and see as they tell you. You remember what they said, follow up with another question, ask them again about it next time you two run into each other.

Something so small, which may at first be perceived as insignificant, quite possibly makes all the difference in the world.

Hospitality reaches beyond our homes—it’s bred in the tiny details of the day. Opening doors, sharing a smile, complimenting a jacket or eye color. It’s spreading wide our hearts to all those we rub shoulders with throughout the day. It is seeing someone—really seeing—with a deep soul-eyed stare. Noticing the person—not the problem, not the situation—but deciding to invest care into the stranger, approach them as someone created in God’s image and sharing in their value.

Listening instead of lecturing.

It’s the little things that make a person feel seen, set apart, welcomed and connected, embraced right where they are, as they are, in that moment.

 

 

**I’m delighted to be over visiting Leslie Verner at Scraping Raisens blog today. Read the rest of my post here, then stick around and read some of her work!