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.

Forgotten To Remember

It is terrible to forget.

And yet I have.

For clusters of months, mounting to a year.

Until I found my way, one Sunday, to Cedar Lake Park, the place that had held me in the storm of my soul’s transition into the life I never wanted, didn’t know I’d need.

I took the wrong exit off the highway like so many times before; I can never remember which one it is, but I don’t mind the turnaround. I am proud that I am now able to maneuver the back roads and find my way to the park’s swan-necked entrance.

It isn’t big, but is sizable enough to find a spot to myself, down twisted gravel lanes where my tires spray pebbles, and straight to the edge of the water’s bank, slant in the grass to the same bench I like to spread my arms and legs.

As soon as I settle on my wood bench, clouds roll over the sun, and when the breeze swings, the coolness catches my skin.

There are many people dotting the lines of the lake, throwing fishing lines into the water. It’s mid-afternoon, not an ideal time to cast, but I guess there’s simply something cathartic about creating another wrinkle in the current.

I have forgotten the quiet, the crescent of trees, call of birds, spread of sky. Forgotten the sound of my own heart when it is breathing. Forgotten what it’s like to let go and surrender up my life. To give it away, to gain it back.

There are people all around me, coming and going, and though I am by myself, I do not feel alone.

 

Read the rest over at ALTARWORK.

You First

The rain is gentle.

So are You.

Reminding me to come back to my first love. Before the world and all its distortions broke my heart, when I walked with You and You were all I could see. All I wanted to watch.

I have forgotten You. Forgotten what it is to love You with all of my heart, soul and strength. Forgotten what it is like to talk to You with intention, with a yearning in my spirit for Your presence, for Your response. To enter into the gateway of relationship, walk beside You and know You are happy being with me.

Love must be loose and not clung to in fear. Love must give of itself freely and let go of what does not matter.

You matter. You alone ask for my love and can receive it.

 

Read the rest over at ALTARWORK.

Remember When It Rained

 

Remember shadows lining your floor
from the city lights outside your window.
Remember waking worlds,
shallow breaths,
the beginning of a stirring so soft
and subtle you held your heartbeat in
to hear its murmur.
Remember rain swirling against the panes,
scent of a summer storm’s heightened fragrance
in ebony early morning hours.
Remember the melancholy beauty
of drops that draped your soul,
slipping through your skin and into
fingers dripping with words,
dark and strong and loud.
They reached across the night
as you shook them from silence
and released your songs
to dance along airwaves
until delivered to my door,
bursting with all you bottled
between their lines.

Burden’s Blessing

May we be blessed, they tend to say. Does that mean we are untouched by trial?

The burden is my blessing when it brings me closer to my brokenness.

When I bleed, I believe.

The protection that I do not see, when I am standing smack dab in the middle of the fire.

The grace to get me through another tear-torn night, heart aching in disbelief at how it could be wrung and shattered yet again.

The ability to go through another hard thing and endure, survive through the pain.

Conversely, it is the underside of struggle where God manifests Himself in raw ways I need to have. To know that all is out of my control, but completely in His. To laugh through the hurt, to trust with my full weight falling on Him.

To be blessed is to receive Him who knows me best. Who knows where I lay and where I am yet still to go.

I am still standing. He is here. And this assurance of the unseen goes before me. I am blessed to be in the dark so I may understand the how He bends close.

 

***

My third 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: Blessing. Tried computer typing for this one and still didn’t increase word count that much. Oh well. Keep writing.

How To Love You Well

It’s that effortless, always hopeful, always expanding kind of love that looks straight into the soul and says, “I am going to cover your heart with the best of mine. Over and over, continuously.”

That’s what I desire. But to tell the truth, for You, as You have shown me again and again the unending depths of Your ardor, I am afraid I come up failingly short at returning the favor.

I don’t know how to love You well. I don’t know how to love You. I’m sorry. I have wandered. I know how to love another human with all of my heart, a love that is patient and kind, that isn’t self-seeking or jealous. But Your love? It seems an impossible standard.

What is Your heart? Where I have been afraid or unwilling to go, what is the richness of Your life? How do You be what I am asking?

I have to trust You with the hardest things of my life, of my heart. I have to trust You are the Lord of my life, my Protector, my Provider. My Beloved. I have to believe You when You say You are working behind the scenes on my behalf, for my best. I have to believe when it hurts. And my God above and within me, pain pierces like a snap of bone right off the joint.

 

Read the rest over at ALTARWORK.

Road To Come

Steady yourself, girl.

Here you go again.

Stretching your faith into the unseen, strength of patience, of faith.

Sometimes it can be a vicious cycle, but this time, you are calm. There is a peace of spirit that lifts and carries you into the unknown, that holds you steady though the waves of doubt may try and knock you off your boat.

He who goes with you has already steadied and silenced the storm thousands of years ago. Now, He has cleared a way for you to walk, whether you turn to the left or right. You can be certain that where you go is good.

Breathe. Settle in for the road to come.

 

***

My second 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: Steady. Maybe I shouldn’t write freehand and I’d get my word count up.

Speak, My Heart

Who am I when all that held my identity is stripped away?

When who I have placed myself to be for the past three and a half years, could be taken away in just a few short months?

“If the next thing for you doesn’t involve writing, will you be okay with that?”

I hear this question asked of me.

If I do not take stock in living off of words, will I still be able to stand?

It comes back to identity. Where I find my worth. Is it in my abilities? My community? My family and those around me? Who am I, truly, deeply, when what I do, what I associate myself with, is stripped away and I am bare in being and have God alone to sustain?

He is enough. Is He enough?

Speak, my heart. Speak in truth. Are you okay with being, not doing? In stillness, not sacrifice?

Do you know from where your worth is sparked?

It’s not in what, but who.

Rest in this.

 

***

My first attempt at Five Minute Friday weekly writing challenge. Five minutes to write on the assigned topic. Raw and unedited. (Yikes!) This week’s topic: Worth.

Spark and Steam

Through the hiss of antique silver espresso machine reverberating around the high-windowed room of a downtown café, brick and mortar building, I shrug off the cold. Everything seems to sting these days, even when I’m nestled in the safety of my favorite place in a city that used to scare me.

But I am learning courage. And my heart has strengthened, endured.

The young man at the register’s arms are stenciled with symbols and scenes, artist of skin. He laughs, high and ferocious. Eternity pauses smack dab in the middle of this moment.

I jump out of my skin, but always come back. Even when I don’t know where I went, where I’m going.

You see, I want to grip this life in my fist and steer it where it needs to go. Even when I do not understand where that is, still I try to direct because if I can feel the texture of my future beneath my fingers, then I can look at it and see where it will go.

Just let it go.

Baristas carve their lattes, swirling milk and espresso. A little boy bobs behind his mother, eyes orbed in wonder at the space of café, chatter of people. The world lingers between the lines, which I have worked so hard to keep in order.

 

 

Read more at ALTARWORK.

Published Works

Where my work has been published:

 

Spill My Soul 2015-current, weekly column at ALTARWORK. Creative nonfiction.

FCA Magazine 2014-current, print and digital stories of ministry impact.

The Way of His World June 2017, The Redbud Post. A poetic retelling of the creation story.

Putting Pride Aside May/June 2017, FCA Magazine. Topical story on keeping our hearts humble.

Everbloom: Stories of Deeply Rooted and Transformed Lives April 2017, Paraclate Press. An anthology of essays by the women of Redbud Writers Guild (of which I am a part). My essay is titled: Untangle

Quite The Same March 2017, Living Bread Ministries. Devotional blog on the similarities of humanity around the world.

Space to Breathe August 2016, The Mudroom. An essay on allowing my soul to rest.

To Such As These November 2014, Compassion International. A blog post for Universal Children’s Day.

I Didn’t Ask To Fall In Love November 2013, Compassion International. A blog post about my Compassion Sponsor Trip.