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.

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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.

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.

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.

If We Are

Here it is, a day drenched in humidity and scorch of sun. Summer has arrived, taking its time appearing to our northern town.

I’ve handled higher temperatures, but this drape of muggy hangs heavy on my body. I am pulsing with the rays of the sun. But the light feels good on my skin, my face I lift to meet the sky.

Here I am, beginning to arrive.

Sunlight strikes my eyes and skin and I shiver, jolt awake, seeing the trees and grass before me, and the season that has been stretching me, readying me for what is coming. It, too, will arrive before I know it.

I wonder about possibility, for questions both breathed and unsaid. For the becoming who I am created to be, and how just a few fractions of light can create a whole garden.

 

If I am waiting, am I really in motion?

If we are wanting, are we already full?

//If we lose hope, how do we survive?

If we forget to see the beauty around, won’t our eyes grow dim?

If we close off our hearts, how will love ever begin to bloom again?

 

So many mountains waiting to push up into the valleys of our souls, hinging on such a small word.

And always, there is more to come, if we are ready to wonder, to delve into that fascinating and slightly terrible question of, “What if?”

What if God just may have wonderful things in stored for us, His beloved children?
What if the dreams that have died and suffocated could be brought to life in new and even more perfect ways?
What if we had the courage to stand in the face of a crusted culture and soften the soil with kindness?

Where can we go in the world to leave a trail of possibility behind us?

Slowly, the clock blinks across the hour, chimes to let me know this moment is marked.

Everything is marked.

Every moment holds more mystery than I usually allow.

If I would open up my mind to see beyond what is in front of me. If I would choose to trust the One who knit me together, listened for His voice and dared to follow where He beckoned… where could I end up?

Where could we all end up if we threw away inhibition and simply leaped in faith?

Where could the road less traveled lead when we step forward and explore.//

 

 

 

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

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 battered 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 ever 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 those 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.

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.

Chambers Open Wide

What in the world have I agreed to?

Put my heart on display again and again, exposed to break repeatedly. To stand in the gap for the ones who can’t formulize their struggles, whose pain is so far buried beneath the pressures of perfection their souls can’t find space to breathe.

I am going to battle for these precious people. To dive into the trenches and lay my life on the line for theirs.

This is what I agreed to when God took over my heart and I gave Him mine. When I said I would go wherever He wanted, that I would serve however He saw fit. And while He has redirected me to a new environment, even though it’s one I’ve been very familiar with for years, He is opening my eyes to see that there is need for His light through a different darkness.

I agreed when I stamped my signature in His blood, when I said I would bleed the same and unstitch my wounds to wind around the open cuts of others. So here I am, carefully careening into the world of heartache and trouble and a desperate search for someone to listen. Carefully careening—an oxymoron if ever I heard one. Who am I kidding? I’ve been racing towards this minefield for months, brakes disassembled, head down and speeding ahead.    ///

Whether we like it or not, hearts are on the line, and we either agree to advocate for those who ache, or go about our days listless and lacking life.

Lacking life will leave me wanting, leave me empty and shaking at the surge of hope inside me slipping away. Advocate it is. I agree with my heart’s pull to lead its love with chambers open wide.

 

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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: Agree.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

Fumes and Fresh Air

What stops me from letting my entire self spill out for the world, for its inhabitants? Why am I so scared to be burned again that I shy away from the burdens that grip and break the earth? Why do I dance around the darkness of the lives of others when I preach that I am not afraid of hard things?

It’s time I make a bloodied effort again, nevermind the bruising. Be intentional in the way I listen to the hidden cries behind the smiles, share the scars among the happening. To see beyond the exterior and not look away when the glare of pain becomes too great. There are people who need someone who will not slow in her pursuit of smoothing salve into their punctured hearts. Make it my ambition to grab the hurt by the gut and go deep into the depths of healing.  //

Be direct in dealing with the hard. Once again, give in to my fears of being broken open for the sake of another. For what do I gain if I simply scratch the surface?

We are meant to breathe in this world together, both the fumes and fresh air.

I am coming for the hurt, for the struggle, for the hope. Wither fervor. With intention. With a fierce determination that puts my fear to shame. I will not take my heart away from those whose hearts are waiting, and will instead entwine our ventricles so that the cuts and dreams they feel will fill my chambers as well.

 

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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: Intentional.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.

 

Only The Brave

What motivates me?

If I’m honest, I’m afraid that I am lazy. That I don’t want it enough, whatever it is. That the passions of my heart don’t blaze as hot as the dreams of others, that I lack the will power or work ethic to make my hopes become reality.

I can let the quiet images of my hopes for life linger on the canvas of my mind, but to turn them into spoken determination, I more often give half-hearted effort but do not find a way to finish what I began. Or, I let self-doubt dig its claws into my skin, give in to the hiss of insult slung in my ear. And soon, I let my defenses down and start to believe the lies for distorted truth. Even when I know in the back of my brain that I have so incredibly much to offer this world.

Maybe I’m just a dreamer. Maybe I will always be stuck marveling at the success of others, how they seem to have direct connection to God, who allows them to live out the desires of their hearts and not merely live, but flourish in them. It is a battle to keep myself upright and keep from swerving into a victim and woe-is-me mentality. But, in a way, there is no one to blame but myself.

Freedom should come from nothing less than every ounce of desire come from Him who made the heavens and my heart. // And motivation should be an easy yoke to bear, instead of bringing me down.

Deep down in the hollow of my heart, there’s a belief that I am better than what I tell myself. We are all susceptible to lies, but only the brave call their bluff.

Outside the window of the Starbucks I’m sitting in with my new soul friend, dry, brittle brown grass points through the thin layer of snow. Winter settles itself too long in this place, and the frigid air that slaps a sting of cold across your cheek does its job of discouragement very well. In Wisconsin, it’s a double whammy, where I have to fight against the weather and myself. Lord, give me strength to slay these dragons.

A weak sun casts small shadows over the pines, bare-branched maples stiff and erect along the sky. There are secrets from the sun, the ones that make me search and dream.

We had all better be living for something. For something that makes this life bearable and gives hope to the next. Always, our hearts beat to believe, to fight for what jolts us awake.

I must not lose the exhilaration of the climb, the peak, the descent. The staring straight-faced and unblinking into the eyes of my fear and saying that it won’t have power over me. That I will still fight, I will unlock my passion and have its wild-streak lead me. I am myself, after all, God’s own daughter, beautiful, strong and free.

I can be no one else.

 

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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: Motivate.   // symbolizes where five minutes stopped, and then I continued writing.