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.

 

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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.

 

 

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Hand Over My Heart

I haven’t realized just how scared I am of handing over my heart to You until the wrappers of my self-denial peel off and I delicately hold its fragile contents cupped in my palms. How charred they’ve become from being burned. How exhausted it’s been fighting the vulnerable hurt that comes thisclose to breaking.

How tender and scared my little-girl-self crawls into Your lap, sitting in pain yet unable to ask You to make it better. Unable to release the hold I have against the wound, needing assessment, but my fingers can’t help but keep closed against the pain, cannot give You access to where You most desire to work. And yet I long for the love that You say will heal me, the intimacy where I stand before You, bare and beating heart. But I have been so hurt, opening up my cautious heart and eyes on You when I fell so far and struck flat so hard. How can I bleed when there are no more drops left to spill?

“Trust Me,” You whisper in the face of my fear. What is trust? I need a safe place to lay my heart. Can I trust You in the last space of my soul that balances fragile when light spills against my hidden self and I scramble to hide? Trust You when I am terrified? With the very most precious pieces of what’s left of my hope?

 

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Photo courtesy of ALTARWORK

Tonight I Am Here

Tonight I am here. Densely embedded in the forest of the unknown. And I know You told me it wasn’t going to be easy, that I wasn’t going to understand right away. And I was okay with that. So I walked into the thicket, because I trusted You. Trusted You knew what You were doing.

I still trust You. But I am human. And I think too much. Like Thomas, I need to see Your hands and feel physical proof. I want to see the whole picture, want to see the clearing. But I’m knee-deep in leaves and surrounded by the sweet scent of juniper, aroma seeping into my skin. For a moment, I let my eyes drift closed, my ears drawing to the birds chirping through the evening air. Somewhere ahead of me, the path continues on. But I’ve strayed to the side to pick a bouquet of wildflowers, so vibrant and beckoning against the drooping sky. When the morning awakens I’ll fall back into step and observe Your world from my twisted, anxious eyes, longing for an answer to my destination dream.

 

 

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All Around The Sun

Subtle shades of cream blue, peach, rose petal pink, ivory. 33,000 feet above the earth will make the looming gaps between sky and soil insignificant. Cracks carve bone out of ice; I glide above the Arctic. Down on the planet’s skin lies Russia.

Did I ever think I would witness the rotation of the sun staying bold and unrelenting, of earth’s arc and end up in places wet with new, wide-eyed wonder? How in the world did I end up revolving around it in such surprising measure?

We are just passing through. Always, simply passing through the steps of life that stretch to moments. Russia will slip beyond us as we move along the air, and when we land on the outskirts of Asia, there is still another leg to go.

The man next to me still smells fresh eight hours in. Spice and Caribbean water. Comfort. His voice dances with blend of places, history, family lines, hands with working knuckle creases. I listen to him talk of his mother and how he cares for her as a son’s privilege, and of his insatiable thirst for travel.

There are stories of us scattered around the globe. These are the words that fill the universe’s pages, honed and crafted by life’s curator, the One who knit the worlds alive.

 

 

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Dark Space, Black Matter

Before the canvas of the world was painted, the earth was void, black, formless.

Intentionally kept dark for creation, for becoming, purpose was published from shadows, from an ink blanket of berth. This was good, part of the order of things.

So I allow the same for my soul. Sit in the unshapen, breathless; being. No push to rush away the restless, the flush of alone and feeling of being lost in charcoal soil. I am welcomed in ways I would never been had I not ventured into hovering waters, deep and endless and uncolored. Grappling with this way of being, hearing society slap me with a quick, happy fix that inadvertently accuses my faith. Light versus dark. Skin versus spirit. Righteousness versus sin. As if when one side exists, the other couldn’t possibly.

I have not been born to carry continuous happy bubbled within my chest. My burden is my blessing in the underbelly of life, where my tears find themselves falling down the skin of someone else, where my anchored heart magnetizes with the weight of theirs. Where I am constantly standing in line with the loose rise of moon, its face deep creviced and reflecting light in imitation.

Under the earth is dark space anyway, but I delve into the black, attempts to feel my way to fine.

I have always been more comfortable in the shadows than daylight. And I had buried it in shame, thinking something must be wrong with me that I sink into melancholy more than most. If I wasn’t shining joy from my countenance, then I wasn’t truly experiencing God’s goodness.

And so I sunk deeper into wondering what was wrong with the way I was wired, wracking my brain to find a solution to solve the unsettled. Attend church, find people to live life with, keep praying even when these spheres would not orbit well around my faith. I attempted to jam the pieces together with surface, always the smile and the “life is good but busy” bit. And if there was trouble and I let a few in to see the struggle of my heart, they point to sin and tell me to stick with Jesus. Because Lord knows, on my own I can create endless mess of what I meant to tame.

 

 

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**Photo courtesy of ALTARWORK

Break Me Open

Answer me when I call to You, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.   -Psalm 4:1

 

My heart is not meant to be boxed in.

Yet here it lies, crumpled in to four sides of simple space and compacted into complacency. Iron clad, kept in a darkness so suffocating were it to see the sun, my heart would reel and writhe against the goodness. No room to move, no gap to grow. Just tight, constricting beats that breathe in slow, small gasps. It is imprisoned by my own insecurity.

Lord, help me. Somehow. Please. Break me open. Pull back the shades I’ve kept shadowed in my heart. Let my weakness be exposed, help my heart to speak of Your significance.

I am crumbling in the driest parts of my soul. I am stained by my stagnant hopes, distant dreams. I have been beaten by my brittle belief, content to be contained. Slowly, I am shriveling.

But You are strong. Your glory grows and gathers through the ends of the earth. If You are for me, who can ever bring me down?

 

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Above The Waves

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

He took his eyes off You.

Peter. When he set shaky legs on the liquid walkway between the boat and You. He snuck a peak at the power surge of storm surrounding him, felt the flow of wave beneath. And then he balked.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:29-30)

He strayed his eyes from Your sure figure and set his sights to circumstance, peels the skin of his humanity. And so of course he starts to sink—when it becomes all about situation and himself.

If the rough fisherman only would have fixed his gaze and thoughts on You… for You are our firm line, the anchor that sets us straight. Without worry, without fear; comforted in complete trust.

But I cannot cast stones. I, too, am like this man. I drop my eyes to my feet, look at the uneven ground beneath me, feel it tremble and quake. I keep my head down, but You stare straight to me. Imploring me to keep steady and trust. You protect me, You go before me, You make my sail secure.

How often do I fumble my way through the waves, swallow sting of salt and gargle out, “Lord, save me!”? The only reason I start to sink is because I hold my worry like a buoy, when it only bobs me upside down.

Don’t stray your eyes. He is coming in the storm, in the sweep of worry. He is here.

All that eats me up is purely human panic—but all I have to do is pray. Look to You for what You have already done and give thanks, build from there. We operate out of victory. I tend to forget this a lot.

 

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Barren Land and Plenty

Rough scrape of leaves across pavement. Trees blend of barren twigs for branches, burnt orange, red wine, apple yellow.

Invisible God manifested in the breeze cool on my face, gliding through my hair. Dome of blue sky arched around the perimeter of land, jet stream the only puncture of white in a space void of clouds. Ruffle of evergreen reminiscent of swan plume.

My brother and I share a small table on the side patio of the town café. Late October, all the customers stay inside, close to the steam of espresso machine and heat of the sandwich griddle. Out here in the shade, it is him and I, away from the world and lost in our own words. Vacant land across the parking lot lays empty but full for the imagination.

This is precious time we have entered. In the morning I will be slapped into the seat of an airplane and carried away from home and to my here. Back to cracked-open in multiple places, various roles I have yet to understand. Back to no touch except for hugs from the ladies at my church, once a week nurturing that I’m still starved for because it’s not enough.

 

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Restore My Heart

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. –Song of Songs 8:6

 

I need You as my rhythm. I desire to know You more; ignite the smoldering places inside that sit in ash. Draw back the veil that has blinded my eyes, let my soul soak in Your gaze, full of love and mercy, charged with a fierceness that shows me You are coming for me.

You’re wanting to restore my heart, ready to exceed what I could hope for. You stand, chomping at the bit to crawl inside me, flood me with a thousand surges of sun, burst open the dead spaces and shine Your abundance into me. Oh, how You want to love me! Relentlessly. How You long for me to let You! To show up and save me and take me captive by Your fervent gentleness. If only I would open the door on which You scrape Your knuckles, desperate to come in. Clamoring for my attention, willing me to take Your hand.

What keeps me from allowing myself all of You? When You are eager to consume my tender places, the yearning of my heart climbs to find You. I am timid to let myself go. But You are so patient with me, ever patient. How quickly You’d rush in if I dared to unlayer.

 

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