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 bettered 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 every 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 that 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.

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Insatiable

I am the long, spindly shadow of beach grass
coming alive in the wind.
I am the spread of white foam washing to shore
on the last breath of a wave.
I am the horizon that has no distant land,
always leading farther.
I am the rise and dip of sand moved
by feet and storm and age.
I am the limber limb, lush leaves of trees
spreading arms in praise.
I am the eternal pull from a pulse of beginning,
there as you formed within the womb,
expanding, always curious for an insatiable
longing you cannot name.

Bring Forth To Become

Summer’s swinging in after a long and barren spring, which wasn’t much of a season in Wisconsin, like always.

There is a warmer sun that can border on hot on a given day, breeze off the lake that stalls the scorch. Beds of lilac bushes burst in fragrance and color, the routine bloom that comes around my birthday.

I am finishing my move into the lower flat in a neighborhood atop a hill in my favorite harbor town. A space I never imagined, I have carefully constructed the insides to bring color and comfort—National Anthem and Free Sky blues in the living room, buttercream honey yellow across the kitchen.

When I cross the threshold, slip to my porch in the early morning, my eyes migrate immediately to the sprawl of Lake Michigan gleaming like one majestic jewel against the sky.

This is my view.

Every day.

Who am I to receive such a gift?

Kansas City and its jazz, barbeque and battle remnants of growth within me still reside in my rearview mirror. It’s hard to believe it has been seven months since my tires rolled through Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois to find their way back to Wisconsin, to the house of my childhood, to family, to a new season, new job, new life to forge, including a new home to call my own.

I still cannot believe this is the direction of my life.

Back where I fought so hard to stay away.

Back to the moments, ways and prayers that made me part of who I am today.

Back with burst dreams and difficult beginnings.

Back home.

// Though you return to a place, a memory, people, have you ever really gone away?

The senses, words spoken, emotions spread through your bloodstream, it’s all still there, swirling in your past, pointing to your present.

Though I have traveled thousands of miles, dug my faith deeper and cracked open the skin of new soul, I have found my way back to land familiar, lanes shaded with crab apple trees and dips of gravel and pavement broken from years of wear. Though I am back to my hometown, after fighting to free myself from its constriction as I forged a life in Kansas City, here at the edge of the water I realize I never truly had rid it from my body, from my history. It was always still a part of me, even in learning the ways of a city smack dab in the middle of the country, it sat dormant, this quiet call for simple, as I pushed it to the farthest pieces of my mind.

I tried to be free of the town and people that raised me up, to be my own person. And I am, in gentle and needed ways. But I am also still tethered to the small towns with young and old lined up along the street for Memorial Day parades, for walking through the grocery store and someone calling my name. //

How I’ve missed the sound of my name from the tongue of someone familiar.

Listen to the way they speak, to the way they welcome you again.

I cannot go back, but I can bring forth what I have become. In ways I was too stubborn to recall, maybe a part of me is returning that has long been forgotten. The girl who ran through fields and marveled at the beauty of long grass billowing in the breeze. The girl who held wonder in her hands, believed the best in everyone and was not afraid to imagine incredible things. Who hoped with heart wide open, and refused to let the world and its troubles beat her down.

I am glad for the salt on my skin, tan arms and light that has come back to my eyes. I am glad to roll the windows down while I drive the highway, let the air course through the car, ruffle my hair. Feel that what has already happened may just be a precursor for what is to come.

Sometimes we need to return to where we came to remember where we will go.

 

 

**

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: Return.   // symbolizes where five minutes started and/or stopped.

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.

Hold Tight To Hope

Though You say You’re with me always, I feel left high and dry. You brought me so close to sweetness and then snatched it away and slammed the door on my heart. I can’t tell You how much that stings. And so I nurse my wounds, already sensing my default to close off from the world.

I am still so terribly alone. And there is nothing You seem fit to do to soothe the sting, the ache. I don’t know how to pray. Don’t know what to even pray for. I have absolutely nothing for You, and what a desolate wasteland that is.

Selfish is me. But I don’t know how else to be. How can I do it—live this life?

I keep trusting in what I cannot see and it is so hard.

You are God. I am not. But I fight for my grip on life, my heart, afraid to relinquish control.

Like I’ve ever been in control in the first place.

 

 

**Read the rest at ALTARWORK!

Release. Breathe. Open.

Spring wants to come. The cardinals are hopping among the branches. Other birds are calling down the sun, kindly asking to come a little closer and bring the warmth that these months bring. The air is still brittle cold among the blue, false premonition of an underlying warmth that may not come for a little longer.

I remind myself for this month and forever: keep hold of hope. Suddenly, the sun will come and smile upon my face.

Keep hold of hope and let go of all that restrains me from the full life that waits with patience.

I tell my head to clear itself of all the preconceived notions of what I thought this life would bring in time, loosen my expectations and shake them from my way of living, giving it all over to God. Everything—my exact geographic location, how I thought my professional career would pan out, my singleness, my impact on the world—cup them in my hands and offer to God. Offer from the very base of me. Of the decades through my life, the little girl with wide-eyed dreams, the teenager aching to be loved, the young professional carving her way in the world. And now the woman in her 30s, seasoned and tempered by life, still easing her bones into understanding that life isn’t meant to be figured out.

Show me how my heart should beat, how to merge its cadence along with this life.

Show me how to feel the wind upon my skin again, like the first time I experienced the sense of touch.

 

/// Why is it such a hard thing to swallow my pride and give up my life and let God Almighty take me where I’m meant to go?

I want to wipe my mind’s slate clean, with no memory of all I dreamed and hoped and longed for, the paths that I would take to go to the life I’ve been dying to live. Set away my expectations and release them into the heart of Him who holds me safe, knows my name and calls me chosen.

What can I do to take away the plans of my life that have been branded on my heart? How do I just surrender what I’ve worked and groaned for years for and simply follow like a child? To fall, trusting, into the arms of a Father who is good and loving and true.

I always seem to try to take the world back into my hands. But try as I may to let the wind blow where it pleases, a piece of me still wants to push the wind’s direction, even if it’s a subtle shift. ///

 

Now to Him who is able to do abundantly more than we can ask or imagine…

 

Why bother imagining at all if He’s going to blow the roof off my reality? If He’s going to sweep in like a summer shower and drench me with surprises in the best possible ways?

Let go, dear heart. Leave the page unwritten and look for the ink to imprint upon the line. Let His heart surprise you, and dare again to allow the sun of spring to move across your days.

Release. Breathe. Open.

Watch the wonder amaze even you.

 

 

 

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: Release.   /// 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.

Set Me Free

I have joy unspeakable
down deep that cannot be moved.
Glory, I am free.
Glory, He came for me.
Took the grave
took my shame
took the filth inside of me
hallelujah, He has set me free.

For the glory of the Father
for the glory of the Son
I will boast in my salvation
through my savior’s love alone.

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.