My Wilderness

21 Jun

we say wilderness like it’s a dirty word

as if purity is something to fear

untouched by society and progress

wild, yes, but necessary

complicated, yes, but simple

a dangerous beauty to embrace

and yet we are terrified by:

cold, heat, hunger, weakness, work

the very things that make us

fantastically alive

yet we want it easy

even when it’s poison

we don’t want to admit

our comfort is killing us

but it’s so convenient

we say, eyes glazed over

unsure of where anything originated

even ourselves

I’ll tell you:

we came out of a garden

ripe like a vegetable

covered in earth

and every emotion

ready for sustenance

drinking, eating, toiling, laughing

mourning our losses

getting up with the sun

to start all over again

but for many of us

this is only stories

images, visions, words

a longing and a loathing

fantasies of self-reliance

returning to our roots

only to find they’ve been pulled out

a herb garden on a windowsill

surrounded by plastic and steel

miles from where we came from

unsure of what it means to live anywhere

we say wilderness like it’s a pretty word

hip and nostalgic

forgetting animal instinct

the harsh reality of nature

the bloody struggle of survival

but leave me here awhile

and I’ll stay alive

by grace and my own hands

I’ll make something grow

a wild flower

inside my own wilderness

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Translating the Wind

11 Jun

somewhere between where I was and where I am going,

I reside

abandoning all other options

careless to the chaos of choice

the noise ceases and I am still

Oh restless heart, make peace with yourself

a decade ago I wandered from city to small town

overwhelmed by the meaning

in every place, person, and moment

every noun was a sign

nothing my senses experienced was an accident

I wrote like it was the only way I could see where I was going

and even though it tortured me

I knew I could exist in the moment

I knew Purpose

like sun and rain and soil

and it didn’t matter

that I only had if half-right

that I was cowering to fear

rowing against the waves

to an island I could never land on

Oh restless heart, stop for a moment and rest

at last the illusion broke

I screamed in a hotel room in China

I hated what my beliefs had made me

while loving grace for the lies it exposed

I fell apart and came together

I stood on a bridge far above snow covered streets

and knew impossible was nothing

a remaking of self

a transition from winter to spring

I guess I am not done yet

uprooting, planting, blooming

the layers that ultimately become my being

and I’ll keep going

wondering, wandering and questioning

even if I stay still

the Wind speaks and I can finally translate:

Oh restless heart, this is your home

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Where’s Jesus?

2 Jun

Every night, I pray with Aurelia. Sometimes it feels special and even sacred. Mostly it feels like routine, and occasionally just meaningless words.

Lately, she’s been talking and communicating and understanding more than I could have imagines for someone who is not even 2 yet.

The past week or so, when we pray she asks a question, and innocent question that stops me in my tracks and pulls me out of the mundane into something more.

“Where’s Jesus?”

“….He’s here, baby. In our hearts.”

“I don’t see him.”

I swallow, choking on some invisible fear, a memory, a doubt.

“He’s here, baby. Whenever we feel love, or happy or full of joy, that’s Jesus. Whenever we see anything good and beautiful.”

I struggle to form the words.

I’ve never had a problem believing God is real.

I don’t remember a moment in my life ever doubting his existence.

I’ve always made my home in ethereal places that don’t count on the tangible and logical to exist.

I don’t have a problem believing what I cannot see.

I don’t even necessarily struggle with the fact that He loves us.

I know he’s a good father.

It’s how good, how joyful, the “bigness” of His grace and love I think I know deep down, yet somehow I don’t apply to every day moments when I need it the most.

“I don’t see him…”

When my prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling, when my feelings seems too loud, to real to make sense of the Truth.

When I just want my way, my timing.

When I let those old voices in.

When I believe fear instead of love.

When it feels too hard for too long.

When I am about to give up on my dreams.

When I am tired from struggling to believe how good.

How big.

I pause.


Last night I had a vivid dream.

I was hiking in a dense, dark jungle with my husband. We were trying to get somewhere important, somewhere where people were expecting us.

Somewhere we were meant to be.

To get to this place, we needed to cross this terrifying chasm on a swaying, frayed rope bridge. My heart in my chest, I followed my husband across. It was so high up I couldn’t see the ground. I panicked, half-way across.

I can’t do it. It’s too hard. It’s not worth it…

I don’t see him. 

Somehow I kept going.

Somehow we made it across.

On the other side was our destination. A beautiful hotel, more majestic than anything I had ever seen. When we walked inside, we found out that someone had anonymously paid for us to stay there. We walked into the beautifully decorated, enormous suite and looked around laughing with pure joy.

It was a gift. We could rest.

I woke up with a jolt.

It’s a risk, stepping out. But there is an enormous blessing waiting on the other side. 

 


I don’t have trouble seeing Him in the small things, in my daughter’s eyes and in the little ways he provides our daily needs.

Sometimes it’s the big-ness I struggle with.

“He’s here baby. Everywhere. He never leaves us.”

She looks at me, innocent and whole, with more wisdom in her little-enourmous heart than I can understand, and says,

“He’s in the stars.”

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Free Because of the Brave

30 May

Today I woke up, and I have the choice to do what I want with my day.

I can openly speak about what is on my heart to say,

I can express my opinion through writing words, and even publish it for the whole world to see online. I can disagree with you.

I don’t spend time worrying that someone trying to silence me is going to knock on my door and arrest me because of my beliefs.

I don’t have to hide who I am.

I can eat what I want. I can make my own decisions. I can walk the streets without being paranoid about what I am wearing. I know if something happens, I can get help.

My husband and I can raise our family the way we see fit. We can have as many kids as we want, and that our bodies our able to have. I can give birth at home or in a hospital. We can choose the medical care we receive.

If we want to responsibly own guns, for protection and sport, we can.
If we want to start a business or ministry or buy a big chunk of land and live off of it one day, we are able to.

I can choose the career I want.

Any thoughts that I am limited by where I was born and who I was born to, the gender I am, or even my education are just an illusion.

I can rise above that.

I can make something of my life.

I can travel wherever I want.

I can produce wealth.

I can give it all away.

I can make a difference in the world.

I can make life better for my children.

I can live without fear.

Whether I choose to see the bad or the good in this country is up to me.

What I do with my freedom is my own responsibility.

What I do with what’s been given to me is my choice,

My life. 

It is not dictated by anyone else. It’s between me and God.

The majority of the world can’t say this.
They can’t claim this.

They live in fear and instability,
Their individual rights don’t exist, according to their government, or lack thereof.

Life, liberty and pursuing happiness is a far off goal that feels unattainable.

Because oppression rules them,
Power and greed are in charge.

The weak are items to be used and discarded.

There is no justice.

Evil reigns.

You can argue with me all you want.

You can scoff at the idea of patriotism and point out all the wrongs,

(That was once me. I wanted to live anywhere but here. I wasn’t grateful.)

You can live under constant fear that soon all this will be gone.

That one day you’ll get a knock on your door and everything will change.

Liberty will just be a distant memory.

That may be true….but...

It doesn’t have to be.

That’s your choice.

And mine.

We create our own future.

And the fact remains,

This morning, if you’re an American, you’re free.

The world is open for you.

Nothing is holding you back.

And it’s because ordinary people throughout our bloody history, felt something, saw something, valued something…

FREEDOM.

They knew the potential. They saw beyond their own temporary existence.

They knew what they wanted for their great-grand children.

They knew the endless possibilities in a people who are truly free.

They knew that one act of heroism mattered,

That it could change the course of history.

And it did.

Today I woke up, and I have the choice to do what I want with my day.

Thank you.

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What the Water Does For My Words

19 May

I don’t know why I get to this place

away from the joy I used to know

almost afraid to count my blessings

nearly afraid to hope

it’s been a long road

towards home

wet and muddy

close to flooding

I usually feel something different in the rain

It’s always been my soul cleanse of choice

(and my cliche poem topic, too)

I’d stop and see

what the water does for my words

how it rinses the dust in my heart

and carries away old, dead thinking

now it’s just some kind of shivering, wet gibberish

trying to build a bridge

in the gap of thoughts

as water rushes in

I wish it were profound and real

but right now, it’s just me

empty and full again

washed and cold and waiting for the sun

stuck in-between the truth I know will set me free

and wishing for anywhere, anything else

all the potential in the world wrapped up in a feeling

fickle as spring weather in Texas

then I close my eyes and  I am a child

tracing raindrops with my finger as they race

down the outside of the car window

 I am going fast and it doesn’t matter where

I am alive

once again finding wonder

in puddle jumping

and the sensation

of the rain on my skin

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Triggers

12 May

here’s what triggers me:

a soft feeling beneath a cynical view

that today matters

that there is worth in unexpected moments

that greener grass is here, now

I want to take a breath and mean it

like when time stopped and every inhale and exhale

meant bringing a child into the world

a labor of pure love

I want to work like that until my heart is filled again

to fix my eyes on letters

and forget all the numbers

filling my head

peace is not a catchphrase

contentment is not a buzzword

I want them to be the structure which holds

this body together

which binds my skin and keeps all my insides, in

that which infinitely embraces my soul

and keeps me well

that whispers inside my spirit

You don’t have to live like this 

on dark days

I am not sure where to go from here

only that every step matters

like every cell and atom

like rest and color

like music and warmth

like today

this is what triggers me:

a cascade of bright memories

a dull black and white fear

an anticipation of hope

swirling in the sky as one

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Embracing Permanence

10 May

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The other day I drove past another place that’s been erased from my past.

The trees were overgrown, and I barely recognized the familiar road until I got to the entrance.

I felt an ache in my gut: part anxiety, part sadness, part nostalgia, part relief,

It’s the same feeling I get when driving past the trailer I grew up in in the middle of the woods in New Hampshire.

“You better not leave me, or I might disappear into nothingness,” my husband joked.

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I have a weird history of being a part of things that no longer exist. 

1. 2 out of the 3 High Schools I went to shut down.

2. My first job and the main place I worked when I was 16-18 was also a town landmark to get old-fashioned ice cream shakes, burgers, and fish & chips. It burned to the ground.

3. Teen Mania, which I mentioned above, is the ministry which was the center of my existence when I was 18-22, no longer exists.

4. Youth With A Mission Woodcrest, a small branch of a large ministry where I attended a writing program and ended up traveling all over the world with when I was 22-25, pretty much dissolved.

5. Also, the coffee shop I spent years of my life at either hanging out in or working at is no more.

It’s kinda funny, I know. But here I am at almost 31 and I guess there is not much left in terms of my youth but memories.

I spent those years somewhat of a wanderer, living on a bus and in shared homes and rooms, and I loved everyone moment of it, but then I grew tired and wondered what I was running away from.

Add this to a hundred unfinished projects, and dreams I’ve almost given up on.

I guess what I am saying is while many things may be out of my control,  I do have the tendency to jump from one thing to another too fast. Or maybe it’s just the way my life goes. Lately, it has slowed down quite a bit.

I’ve also had the tendency to view people as temporary, too. Like they will just be out of my life soon anyways, why get close? Although, those few that I really let in, stay forever.

I know it’s immature now. I know I can’t just live like a rolling stone my whole life and truly find happiness.

So now my tune has changed, and I while I know there are plenty of adventures to come, I just want a sense of permeance.

I long to put some roots down in a community, and I finally feel like I actually can.

I know I can be connected to a group of people without thinking in the back of my mind, “Soon they will be gone, so what’s the point?”

I want to feel at home in a town. To know the people there, and to let them know me.

I desire to grow something stable and permanent. To plant a seed and watch it grow until years go by and I can sit under its shade with my children’s children.

Yet, to continue to grow and change. To continue to pursue adventure, while still knowing that I always have a safe place to return to.

And I know my husband, my family, is home. 

I know everything changes and nothing is truly permanent on this earth.

But what truly matters, is.

While these things fade, love remains. 

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Sparrows and Eagles

10 Apr

bird

I’ve got to get off the ground somehow
If the wind would only create enough lift
For this tattered thinking
Facing destruction
I need a resurrection

I am tired of these rocks in my shoes
Broken views
Hardened by a misuse
Of my mind
Always looking for things I can’t find

But you
You said wait and you’ll renew
My strength
My ability to see
You’ll heighten my view

I am tortured and plagued by this feeling of dread
I’ll never be there
I’ll never be her

But you
You feed all the small birds
And count every missing feather
You know when the snow makes them shiver
How far they roam
Every stick that makes up the nest
They call home
How much more

When I can’t take one more step
When I feel shriveled and used up
When I don’t know what I believe anymore
I am knocked to the floor
Breath gone
Fear seems like it won
My heart feels like rocks
And my chest caves in
And as stones crumble
Light seeps through an open door
How much more

My daughter laughs
And it’s like a crack in heaven’s door
Like love burst forth
A breaking dam
Overflowing, powering cities with joy
How much more

A hand stretched out
Offers bread, a smile, a cup of wine, a song
Conversation that makes you feel you belong
Warmth, connection, pure affection
How much more

Love is here
Complete light
Total hope
Unending flights

I wait
I soar

Anastasis 

27 Mar

It wasn’t cold, like I thought it would be

It was warm, like slipping underneath a thick sheepskin at night

Surrounding me, 

Telling me it was ok to let go

I could see shadows as I struggled to keep my eyes open 

and my senses awake

I fought, mostly for my father

He wasn’t ready to leave me yet

My body had hardly begun to change from girl to woman 

but it felt frail like a woman who had many children

and grandchildren 

I knew I would never bear that gift

I would never know the love of a husband

I would never have a home of my own 

I would never see another bright full moon

Or taste a grape, sweet and bursting from the sun 

My time was up

I was going home

I felt a hand, rough and familiar, touch my face:

Daddy

I heard him weeping

He wasn’t ready to lose his only daughter

His baby girl 

I am sorry, papa

I tried to whisper, but my words couldn’t form

It was so warm

I was floating

….

The weeping faded

Silence….
A glint of light beckoned me and I felt myself lifted

I began to soar upward like a bird

Then, as if my wings were heavied by rain

I was pulled back to the ground 

by words 

Soft but firm

Lovely and dangerous 

Echoing in my very core 

Spoken across realms of reality 

Aligning my spirit back into my earthly body 
“Little girl, arise.”

  
I was staring at him

Someone I had never met,

But knew instantly
I wasn’t home, but I was home

Back to my earthly reality
His warm eyes brimmed with tears

As he smiled from my bedside,

His hand in mine
I felt a surge in my body, like energy from the sun’s rays

and I knew my disease was no more

I stood up 

My legs strong

My heart beating 
My father rushed into the room, tear stained face, eyes as big as the sea.

He gasped
I dropped the hand of my healer and ran to him

He picked me up like a small child 

and swung me around

Weeping, 

Only for joy this time

I Fight Anxiety Through Taking Back Words

22 Mar

I’ve had this phrase rolling around my head lately.

I keep pushing it back, telling myself I am ok.

I say it to myself when I wake up in the morning and an immediate feeling of dread washes over me, like I did something terribly wrong but I can’t remember what it was.

When I am literally sick to my stomach and can’t eat because I am anticipating an uncomfortable social situation in my mind, rolling it over and over until I don’t know how to think about anything else.

“I really struggle with anxiety.”

It’s taken me 30 years to say it.
I don’t know what that means, necessarily.
I don’t want label myself.
Or limit myself.
Or pretend I am a mental health professional.

But somehow, admitting it gives it less power.

Whatever it is, I don’t have to let it control me.

I remember all the moments I thought fear had won.

All the tense, churning feelings in my gut.
All the obsessive replays of stupid conversations the other person probably never remembered.

That intense feeling like I am a problem.

Like I am inconveniencing people.
Like I don’t need to ruffle any feathers.

Panicking over a tiny social interaction.

Practicing in my head what I am going to say to someone, even if I’ve known them for years.

Repeating these conversations over and over in my head until I feel sick.

You sounds so stupid. 

Who are you to do this?

Words, betraying me.

This has been me… for as long as I can remember.

Not to say it’s always torture.
There have been moments of triumph.
Moments of victory.
Of letting go and conquering my fears.

Of doing what’s uncomfortable and talking to people I don’t know.
Picking up the phone.
Speaking up.
Speaking out, boldly.
Proclaiming truth.
Doing what I never thought I could do.

But lately, I feel like I am going backwards.
Maybe it’s just a culmination of life right now, or me just being tired from “adulting” but lately I feel I hardly go a moment without feeling the intense weight of anxiety.

Like I am always doing something wrong.
Like the it’s only a matter of time before the world figures out I am a fraud.

Like I have nothing to give.
Like I am 30, but I feel more like I am 4 years old, hiding in a dark closet shaking with fear.

Yet, I get up.
I rise again.
I whisper a feeble prayer.
I push through my day.
I do what I have to do.
I speak when I don’t want to speak.
I make effort to connect with people when I just want to crawl into myself.
When it feels too hard to function.

I write, this.

I fight anxiety through creating with words.

I take them back and make them my own.

I hear whispers of goodness and grace through the sentences that come out as I let go and let myself be honest.

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I come to “the breaking point.”
And as tears flow,
I know

In my weakness His strength is made perfect.

I know,

He chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

I embrace Grace.

I know
Every day  is a choice to believe I am who my creator says I am:
Brave.
Confident.

I matter.
I have a voice.

I am not how I feel.
I am not whatever thing is plaguing me,
Be it my own imagination or a real diagnosis.

I am not my fears.
I am not my anxiety.

These words, go beyond anything I feel

Straight from the the burning heart of love and truth:

I am simply loved.

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