Land of the Living

This winter won’t go away.

Mountains of snow stacked along street edges, ice wind blowing from fresh and fierce air off the lake. Nets of gray trap the sky tight so no sunlight is allowed access. Again, the breath-stealing bitter cold, collects the joy right out of the day. Works to make you forget there was ever such a thing as spring.

Except. There is always the memory of what has come before, recollections of bud-dappled trees and smooth birdsong. Spring has happened before, and it will arrive again.

These last two months have been a mountain of endurance. Of plowing through an unreal reality of medical upheavals and hospital stays, loss of bearings?

This is a harsh winter, alright.

Except. I remember.

How my life has been spared and saved more than once in my life. Playback the moments of survival, seal of His heart in mine, watch as He pulls me from the mire and places me on steady rock. How in the storm of heartbreak, His presence through the dead of night assurance that He is still loving. All He does is kind, even when it can feel like fire through my veins.

Remember. Look back on what God has already done. Choose to believe in who He has shown Himself to be.

I am walking through the sludge of this unclear season with a sharp eye out for His good.

// I have come to the edge of this world, sniffed around at the other side, learned how little there lies between this world and what’s next.

And at the base of it all, I have had to ask myself the question: What is it I believe?

Do I believe in a God who is over all, who runs all eternity, and is He where I place my faith, my life?

Where, in the earth-splitting shake up of a stroke and heart procedure, do I stand on firm soil rather than shifting sand? What is solid?

It is not what, but WHO.

He who slung the stars in the sky and gathered grains of sand and offered up a picture of a chosen people. Who has tumbled down towers and met a wounded women in the desert, El Roi, the One who sees.

Confident that He who created a good work within me will carry it out to completion.

To fall full weight in confidence of His character His promises. His goodness and kindness, and that forever faithfulness.

My heart clings to the hope that He is who He says He is, and who He promises to be is faithful. Stake my soul on this. Walk with shuffling feet as I relearn the place I’m planted in this season.

I look out my window and see ice and water roll about the winter lake. The churn of blue and gray clouds hunched low. //

As sure as the lighthouse stands strong against the heaving waves propelled by an angry tide, I anchor to God’s goodness. Confident how He will never leave or forsake, even when the world before me swallows me down into an unexpected abyss.

His faithfulness is a blaze of light that carefully carries me back into wide-open space, land of the living.

I stand certain of His goodness.

I have smelled, touched, tasted it. And it has imprinted deep within my wondering mind, my seeking soul.

All is miraculous; He is mercy. For me, spring is already here; tender shoots of grace unfurl the newly hinged hooks of my heart.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.   -Psalm 27:14

 

 

**

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

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Patterns of Life

Rain sodden, soggy, fills the earth.

I’m laying around, doing nothing, on recovery.

But what it means to do nothing! To rest my body that still beats and spills songs of the earth.

The miracle of mundane, saint of simplicity. Rhythm or rain sloshing steady down the sky, crusts of ice chip and break away on the lawn.

The world goes on, and so do I. Breathing, blinking, marveling at how gray never looked so good, how a murky, messy winter really glows in early February. And if I press my ear hard enough into my heart, I hear it stretch, blood move about its chambers, testing its walls and routes. Learning its patterns of life.

Here Is Another Day

The wind’s coming straight off the lake, eastern gusts.
In the distance, the chime of a bell.
Crow cawing, calling out to the world.
Ice weaves its way up the pane, engraves detailed designs in the glass.
Geese honk and chatter, fly overhead.
The lighthouse wears a shawl of misted air; collision of heat and frigid, sky and water.
I count the beats of my heart, trace the cadence.
Breathe.
Marvel, “Here is another day, another glimpse of mercy.”

 

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.

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!

 

 

 

Grand Amusement

I was born for something. Born to be someone. But what? And whom? This is the question that has hounded me as I gained years, gathered lines in my life. Always, whether I was aware of it or not, my purpose, my deepest desire for approval, has followed me through seasons, through laughter, through furious tears. And always at the end of the day, draw of dark, the edge of my heart stitching itself into the hopes of others.

I’ve longed for a grand amusement set far beyond this bound of land and time. A sacred realm stretched sweetly through the fabric of my soul. Stepping lightly through this world, ears tuned for echoes of Eden.

In the balance, in between. Longing for the memories and events that pierced my heart in the purest sense.

Live Languid

Here comes September.

Can the year be beginning its last stretch already?

Trees are turning, and the mornings host cooler air. It doesn’t seem to be time for this, the shift of seasons.

And yet, there is always time for everything. Faithfully, change begins and ends and cycles through. I take my time getting ready for the day, linger longer than I should on my cool down walk after my run is finished. I watch the boats waver in the wind heading back towards the marina after an early start to find the fish. I listen to the whoosh of waves folding into themselves as they surge to shore. I watch the yellow wildflowers wave their arms on thin and nimble stalks between wild grass. In these moments, with sweat condensed from humidity and breath returning regular to my lungs, all is as it should be.

There is no need for speed.

//What’s the rush?
Slow. Such cadence in the quiet, serene. No time passes at all.

Rain pours down the pane. We haven’t seen skies like this in years. Or maybe I just don’t remember it. This is, after all, the first time I’ve been home to stay in four years. The world here knows rain; perhaps it is just I who has forgotten.

Thunder rolls, not angry or vicious. It just makes its presence known.

What’s the line in the that Elvis song? Only fools rush in…

Frantic rushing washes away thought, intention, calculation that releases best laid plans.

In the way of life, it’s best to take it slow. Unfettered, open to unlearning what has tied me up mind and spirit in unhealthy ways. Relax. Rest, embrace.

I am a caterpillar weaving my chrysalis, snug and steady in subtle transformation. I am not the same person as I was just one year ago. I look back and see the anxiety that plagued, threatened to destroy. But I held fast in release to the ways of Him who had my best in store.//

Live languid. Enjoy the longer time around the harbor. See the small things and note fine details. Detach, revel in newly given freedom of heart. Do not close your eyes. There’s so much that may be missed. Do not wish away this life on thoughts that may never come to pass.

See the mist turn color and be amazed.

 

 

 

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

Tend To The Harvest

There I go again, trying to plant, plow, water and reap my own fields, only to find them trampled by my fumbling feet.
You say the work is plenty, the fruits are ripe, yet who will pluck the precious pieces from their vine? Wheat, golden in the yellow sun, waves in an autumn wind, full and soft and ready to fall apart at a touch. See how they glisten? See how they arch in the afternoon air, beckoning, helpless on their own? How they plead for perfection upon their stalks.
You are the planter. You raise the soil and set each seed in their place among the earth. You gently prod each miracle inside to shape and stir beneath Your touch, and day after week after month You watch and wait for fruit to bear. You, with Your tender care, see the sweet growth and prepare its color and taste.
I am a feeble servant, stretched on my hand and knees to collect the remnants left in Your wake. Where the dirt meets the drops of harvest, there you’ll find my soiled hands. How can I breathe Your bounty when my lungs are filled with dust?
Come, You say to me. The time is right and the fields are full for plucking. Tend to Your gardens with the grace and mercy You first planted. Much work is still to be done, and You have designed a specific purpose for my path.
My heart is eager yet my steps are slow. I fear to trod upon the handiwork of Your green thumb, afraid to till and sift and shake. But You have bundled together those that most fit my fertility, have already given me the strength to stay Your course. Under a waning sky I will take my chaff and store the best for You. I will grow and sow and toil and water, so when the time comes to pluck up Your treasures, so smoothed and shaped they will slide like raindrops off a summer flower and flow straight into eternity’s basket.

Counted The Cost

 

I gave up my dreams for You.

 

Look—see them spilling into the yard, how light their faces, easy their smiles, twinkle in their eyes! The wind chimes of their laughter rising into the air.

Aren’t they precious?

Full of life, pulsing with wonder.

Breathing in amazement and impossibility.

There is no shore that keeps them from exploring, venturing into the wide world to expand it even more.

 

I was proud to call them my own.

 

Still they walk among the earth, dew-eyed and brilliant. I watch them from afar now, smile at how they’ve grown. With twisted heart I know they’ll go to someone else, who will nurture them with care and guidance until they mature and fully embrace their calling and are released to do what they’ve been created to do.

They will belong to another who will dance joyously in their success.

No longer are they mine.

 

See what I have given for You?

 

I am like another woman, living in another time. As if those soul-birthed dreams had never existed for my life, at most, a whisper of a thought quivering on the breeze of my mind.

 

So do not say I have not counted the cost, to let You lead me as You do.