Counted Sacred

The colors are pressed so bright I am awash in light, serenity of earth changing its garments. Soft leaves swaying to the ground. I am in my peace place, an island at the end of the earth, it seems, where I am allowed to catch my breath, slow my pace, fill my heart with quiet, with love, with God’s presence so palpable I feel His arms around me.

Each breath is counted sacred, a gift. I am here to breathe in the air, gulp the fresh scents of fall as nourishment for my body, my soul.

Slow. Give up the hurry and linger long and soft in the sway of branches swollen with color, the dance of wind on water.

For the first time in a long while, I allow myself to dream. To paint a picture for days to come, months, even years.

For a girl who could not get herself to hope for anything past the current day, this is another gift, a quiet miracle.

The Boy and I are dreaming now, together, and this is unfamiliar to me. But when we curve around the gravel lane arched with burning reds and yellows in a robin’s egg blue sky, windows cracked and glimpsing the diamonds on Detroit Bay and every water in between, we can’t help noting which lots for sale we could make do on, envision life later.

It’s a beautiful thing, to lean into God and let Him lead through the long way right where I most need to be. Where I never expected to meet my blessings face to face, full on, where they have been standing in the sand, watching, waiting to show me around.

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Shift of Seasons

I wake to idling engines and trucks passing by, chatter of old men clustered together at metal tables at the coffee house across the shallow street. This I will get used to, the gentle hum of morning in this quaint downtown.

Chime of bells marking eight o’clock. Daylight softly streams in across my walls, flickers of reflection from cars bouncing light off building windows.

The Boy set up the bare bones of my coffee corner before he left, after assembling my bed and clearing space for me to sit and walk in my living room. He cares for me through serving, arranging my life and heart to let me breathe and relax. I am so grateful.

I prep my coffee, inhale, sink into my grandpa’s plush chair. It’s wide—so wide it could only fit in my kitchen at my lake house. But I wouldn’t part with it, so there it sat, by my stove. Now, it’s at least in the living room, in an appropriate room.

Here begins a new season, a fresh journey in a new town, this historically preserved town with the tagline, Fall in Love with Cedarburg. Let’s see how it woos me.

It’s fitting, the timing of this start. September, which I equate with the start of fall, though technically right now it’s still summer. Fall, for me, has always felt like a time of new beginnings. A crispness, cleanness that gives way to a new layer of myself, God’s presence, the invitations to touch lives and know Him deeper. There is something smooth and serene about the shift of seasons. Both literally and within.

This season, if you would have asked me two months ago how I’d feel, I would have said I was torn. But I have seen God move that’s left me no doubt He is taking care of me that I cannot help but trust and lift a hopeful heart to what He has planned, wants me to see. I know much will be unexpected and upside down to what I thought, and much will stretch and guide me out of my comfort zone. But this has happened before, and I am learning to go with open hands.

Boxes and empty bookshelves and end tables all over the place—my apartment is still a mess. But I’m smiling, because I think of the fun it’s going to be to unpack, put things in place, settle in.

This is a new day. Thank God I am allowed to see it.

Thank God for many things, this birthed moment that blinks its newborn eyes and fills with joy at what’s to come.

Be Still And Know

Be still and know.

Be still.

And know.

Be assured.

He’s got me covered.

Has my best interests at heart, my dreams within His own, the people and places already set before Him before time began.

See what He does for the sparrow, the panting deer. They find their nest, are led to the stream.

When I worry, I take my trust away from Him who ordered the stars. I try to misplace Him in my heart and strain to satisfy my own desires.

There was manna from the sky, quail from the brush, seas parting and walls that tumbled down. Story upon story shapes the history of His character, solid in faithfulness.

He has brought me this far; how can I not place my hope that He will stay true to His word?

When I flail, may I subdue my spirit. When I scramble, may I stop and fall back into His arms. His assured, capable arms that have carried me through more than one storm.

Taste and see His strength. Especially when I have none.

He will provide.

He always does.

Always.

Already Full

Sweet tufts of grass soften the river bank. Sunlight jets along the water’s surface, pulling downstream with the gentle current.

The river doesn’t worry. It just moves, in stride with its course. There is no anxious breath beneath its surface.

It doesn’t worry, simply carries itself lightly down the curves and dips of earth.

It does not worry.

This morning is breathing room amidst the chaos. My life is a constant juggling act and I cannot get a grip on the balls churning through the air. I am not good with so many things in flux.

Am I built for something different, or is it growing pains, labor pains, birthing in me something different?

Do not worry.

It smells good to be outside, the clear air, light scent of grass. With these girls from a writing camp I’m helping to lead, spread along the bridge, some with legs dangling over the edge, some tucked underneath their frame, hearing the chime of bells, chirp of birdsong.

I imitate their actions and curl myself down on the wooden beams warmed by the sun. This is a calm that I can hold in my hands.

To feel the fullness of air, alive.

To let my legs linger over the edge.

These are my pay attention moments, my life blood.

More of this. Of quietness of soul, of silence, of drawing out the love of words and wonder of this world.

It is important. It is necessary and good.

The river keeps coursing. I run my fingers over the rough rust-shaded wood. It’s been smoothed, but there is still a wildness that hints at its home hundreds of miles away, deep in a slumbering pack of trees towering over flowers and fauna.

That quick glance of wild.

That quickening of beauty, revealed.

A wildness of my own heart that hears the call from long ago, the split-wide beauty that first breathed me to life, set skin to my bones and burned a fire that set to spread.

Do not worry. Remember. Let go. Let it all fall down in front of you. Stand empty, already full.

Rest in Remembering

Lilacs push into the bursting blue sky, practically white in their full bloom.

Late afternoon light falls across the towering trees in my front yard. Birds calling out to one another.

Mid-June is chaos. This whole month is, really. I can’t catch my breath, but God in me whispers, “Be still.”

Be still and know how He has held me close through each and every gale that has swept through. How He uses the unexpected to shape me, soothe me, because the best growth I receive comes from receiving His good.

This is a reprieve—a few moments of quiet, of pause, reflection. I cannot operate on constant full speed ahead, another project, never ending grant writing and a million little interruptions to my day. And this He knows, and so He sets me back, nudges me to slow.

Take in the drink of water that is Lake Michigan, shining like the most beautiful jewel on this June day. Dip into the green sea of rippling grass. Hear myself. Feel myself. Feel my soul speak, the poor, uncared for orphan.

Before I know it, the words come. With a melody, with a gentle smile.

I keep singing inside, quiet, steady, like my spirit moves on its own accord.

It is well.

It is well with my soul. //

Oh my soul, let us come home. Rest in remembering where He has brought you. From a stroke, the holes in your heart, to restorative joy, hope, and goodness. On the trunk that is my living room table, purple and gray with pink-tinted wildflowers The Boy gave me, propped in a mason jar. How in the world he found me can only be the nudge God gives again and again.

This is all a miracle. This is all a gift.

Such a light breeze against my flush face, warm from a desperately needed nap. Even my body tells me I am not wired to live in the mode I’ve made for myself.

Slow. Deep breathing. Stop to savor strength in quiet and trust. There is strength in stepping back, His power is in the pause. Everything grows from there.

It is well. Well worth refreshment, my soul’s restore.

 

 

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

Wildflowers in the Desert

There’s a thread of web strung between branches I see sparkling in the early morning light. Air is cool and clean, hovers slow, and the temperature will rise as the desert sun burns into the day. To the east, a haze of haggard lines outline the Catalina Mountains. North, the lines and cuts more prominent in the shade of the Tortolita mountain range. There’s a woodpecker pounding away in fast, sharp hammering onto a cactus. Always, cacti abound. It is good to get away.

My aunt has my multi-colored robe ready for me, laid out across my bed. I slip into it and pad to the open kitchen, pour coffee grounds into the filter and set the machine to brew. The cool air hits me as I cross through the sliding door holding books, Bible and journal, say hi to my sister-in-law who is quiet on the patio couch, and set my things down by the cushioned lawn chair next to the pool facing east. I sit and listen–a quiet, clean pause. Such silence in the desert. A few minutes later I wander in for my coffee, picking a beautiful ceramic mug set with green, teal and brown Southwest patterns. Then back out to my chair, to watch the desert sun rise.

I am on assignment from my Bible study group to find desert flowers. To look for the wildflowers that bloom from the brown, the barren.

The sun rising into the endless, cloud-swirled sky nearly blinds me. I am not used to such light.

I am not used to this light within, either. The release of weight in my spirit is nothing short of miraculous.

This morning desert air. Today there are more clouds brushed across the straight blue sky. Wind chimes whistle sweet from the patio. Birds call forth the day. And the sun makes a hazy rise over the mountains, in no rush, knowing its own importance in a simple matter-of-fact way.

This is the Southwest. It is desert, sharp landscape, dry cracks of earth. But look again. Against the bramble, cactus flowers bloom. Beauty exists, if one is intentional with the pursuit of it. There are living things. Life does unfold in the seemingly stagnant places. There is a way being made in the desert. Streams uncorked in the wasteland. Growth and goodwill come again. It takes a lingering eye to see the hidden world unfurl.

Look closer, examine. signs blossom everywhere: growth happens.

What Is It

There it is, pressed in dusk blue on my sea foam wall, worn into the creases, tattoo on the skin of my home, reminding me of what I can’t ever forget–Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

What is it that I plan to do with this length of breath I’m allowed?

What has already been in motion.

This is what I will do.

It’s here. Before me. Laughing eyes, secret unveiling in its smile. This world. The heartbeats singing within.

What can I do but live and drink every drop of this earth’s dew, pause and pay attention, marvel, notice, breathe, love, give, and continuously keep praise and thanks poised on my tongue. Let nothing be wasted, even the pain–especially the pain. Pay homage to this delicate and delicious spin of life, our expanding, counted days.

 

Tell me, what would you do if you stared eternity straight in the face then turned to taste time once again?

 

 

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

 

 

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

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.

A Million Atoms

Monday. Like any other. I wake, brew coffee, sit and pour over my Bible, the words in Philippians chapter one roaring in me, the battle within for what is coming. Tomorrow, I go back to the hospital, check in on the cardiology floor, and settle into my new room for the next few days. Then, they’ll send me to sleep with a chemical cocktail and weave through my veins to clamp closed my heart and create the needed chambers. I am amazed at modern medicine, but my hope does not rest in this, but in the One who first gave us healing ability.

Tomorrow is tomorrow, and I will have my game face on, smile ready, on alert to let Him work in me through all things.

But today is also today. The only minutes that are a guarantee as each second pulls its way through time. I lock my front door, take one step, then another, down the stairs and down the hill. Savor the day. Walk slow. Drink in the air. Light chill on my cheek, puddles pool at my feet from the melting snow. I sludge down the harbor, watch the teals churn in the stormy water. Ice caps frozen from the shore bear the brunt of waves slapping their edges. Deep in the distance, a thin shawl of fog rolls across the bluff. Everything is iced over. Even the wrinkles of the sky.

What will be here at the end of it all? What will be in this new beginning?

This is my harbor town, my treasured place where each day is a miracle, with old brick buildings and bay of seagulls. Where fishermen meet to talk shop, set their poles into the half-frozen water. Where I wander, amble, stroll aimless, but straight to where I’m meant to be.

Such gift. Such grace. Every day. Breath, a million atoms bursting to life.

What I want to say is this: I am thankful. I have already been given much, impossible goodness, from God alone allowing me a glimpse of His glory. Such glory, in the mundane and miniscule. In the small fistfuls of rhythmic existence that is miraculous. To be alive, the molecules of my skin kissed awake under a folding cotton sky. To be certain that faith is hinged on what I cannot see, invisible anchor hooked to the navel of my soul. And all of this, God’s breathing in the mist washing my face, drizzle of His presence pulling back the veil of worlds for a preview of what’s coming.

His goodness, ripe for the taking. Richness rolled in simple acceptance. Fasten eyes on Jesus and dare the world to try and break the gaze.

Such simple things in such a simple day. The sun will fall down the western face of earth and in its place, the moon quietly beaming. Another day done. Another day, rife with countless occurrences of beauty we didn’t even see.

What is around us? What is there to come?

I am here. This is enough. I am given my daily bread and clothed like the lily. I am finite in the breakable balance of the world. I am infinite. I see the shapes of heaven mirrored in the clear pulse of Lake Michigan, the swelling pool of water from my shoe. And the beat of my warm heart, blood sweet and spilling, delicate, cautious, strong.