a blessing

by all means, go deep.

embrace all those true and vulnerable places.

see the ways that what was beautiful

became broken

scarred, limping

agree that what was done was wrong,

and forgive anyway,

because then you become

so free

and your love unstoppable.

by all means, dive down into the darkness

take your courage with you

because only then

can you defeat the old enemies

that lurk, waiting to bind you up again

in the fear

and the shame

and all the lies 

you have no business believing 

when the truth lives in you.

by all means, go deep,

but hear this:

don’t forget to play.

because when you are a child

in all the most real senses

you are free and alive

and suddenly

people are joining you in your freedom

and discovering a God

who doesn’t want their perfect performances

doing all the “should”s, all the right ways.

they, together with you,

explore, and discover

that this God

loves to play

right there with them.

because it means you’re together

and engaged

and delighting in love and beauty and presence

together.

together.

together.

Advertisements

i am not alone.

bhw

I told them that rebellion is a spiritual discipline for me.

and they knew what I meant.

They get it.

They understand that this pretty-Christian-good-girl life has to get out of the way before I can really really see God.

That life is messy, and the truth is that shit happens and God is good.

Most of them love wine, and all of them love jesus.

They love orphans and fight for justice.

And sometimes, we take a break from the church structures we have known, to dive deeper to what the church can be.

Almost all of us are introverts, all of us creatives.

We are finding our footing with our words and paint and vulnerability.

We love each other, and pray for each other,

And encourage each other to be who we were made to be.

They make me believe that I’m not crazy for believing there is more. That dreaming is holy, and that my voice matters.

Most of them live in texas, and none in california,

But they are my people.

and i just met them in person yesterday.

dreamspace

photo-26
I dream of a space where women are free to be.

Just be.

Rest. Stop putting on all the shows we always do around other people, assuming our actions and words will be judged on orthodoxy, our appearances on their presentability.

A space where we can be creative.

Where we can share a poem we’ve written – I see it all spoken word in my living room and on the streets. Where we can paint together, tell our most secret visions, or just sit quietly, resting in the presence of Love.

Where we are free not to be defensive because we know deep down for reals that our hearts are for each other, and that we are the beloved. A space where we can learn from our collective mistakes and strengths and offer our bleeding hearts to be cared for.

Where the wind blows through, welcome.

Where the firelight flickers and beckons and casts into darkness.

Where we can sing, where we can improv, draw, love.

Where the smells are of baking and chai spices.

A place to touch – take in texture and form – and be touched.

A place to be brave, face fears, leap.

A space where my offering –and yours- is accepted, cherished.

Where we lean on his chest and into each others’ lives at the same time. 

A place where “should” is not allowed, and our hearts are required.

And we take our baby steps right out across the water, just to be with him.

when your calling is a faint orange glow

fog

laughter in the dark

vital abandon

voice being drawn out

aware of her windy reality.

(found poetry in my art journal)

***

A faint orange glows through the fog and gives me hope.

My life chaotic at best; at worst, a failure.

I dream big dreams of light cast into dark. Of artist-birthed life making its way into a hurting world. Of hearts healed. Of beauty and spirit-wind wrapped holy together, bringing truth that frees instead of binds.

And then I live.

Isolated, unfree myself. Wrapped wholly with the whims of beloveds and their bedlam. Unseen, unheard because I do not speak. I long to bring life, bravery. I live fearful, greedy for solitude, shamebound.

They say the area of your struggle is inseparably woven with your calling.

If I was having coffee with you and these words poured out of you, I would be so drawn to offer grace, rest. To make sure you knew you don’t have to meet anybody’s expectations (yours included). That, yes, you have this amazing calling to offer light and life and beauty and freedom and healing. But the failing is the lie.

All the trying, beating up the beauty because it’s not quite beautiful enough.

The fighting with life instead of living it.

And most of all, I’d want you to know he’s right there.

In the afternoons with a three-year-old anarchist whose heart you desperately want to guard in ways yours never was.

In the hundreds of minutes you feed and lullaby your baby, hoping for a soul that knows it’s worth rescuing.

In the confusion of intimacy.

In the tension between beauty-longings and real-life mess.

Even when you haven’t given him the time you “should”. There is no condemning coming from his heart, so if you’re sensing damnation-emotion, you gotta fight, albeit an unseen enemy.  One that pretends he’s not there so you think it’s your own voice, or even that of the life-way-truth. It’s not. He may even sound like people you love. He likes to put flesh-and-blood to his lies like that. But no matter what, it’s not true.

You are enough.

Your heart is worth fighting for, just like those little boys’.

And those women you dream freedom for.

He bled to rescue your heart, so you simply can’t give it back over to the liar. To the hater of your aliveness.

it might look like the easy way out – to wallow, to believe in your worthlessness. Because then it doesn’t matter so much that your days don’t look like your dreams. But think of the alive-in-your-purpose days. Isn’t even that handful worth the fight?

Well, isn’t it?

And I am surprised to hear my own heart answering yes. Oh, yes. 

fought for. rescued.

photo credit: Ben Coplin of The Crossing Church

photo credit: Ben Coplin of The Crossing Church

 

we still don’t know what happened.

two teenagers realized they were lost in the Cleveland National Forest sunday, and made the 911 call that probably saved their lives. their phone died right after calling to describe as best they could where they believed they had lost their way. because they called, people immediately began to search for Nicholas and Kyndall.

days, a thousand prayers, and dozens of searchers – many of them volunteers – later, they were found.

Nicholas was found wednesday, a mile from his car, exactly as he’d described in his emergency call. it took another day to find Kyndall a little ways away on a ridge, disoriented and dehydrated, both of them. but both of them alive. rescued.

i only knew about this because a very new online friend posted on her instagram feed that they would be praying that night at her church for these two teenagers to be found. i joined their prayers, though not in person, and continued to expect the worst.

then, tonight, i walked into starbucks to see the huge title of the OC register scream at me “weak, but alive”. relief flooded, and in that moment, more than one of my prayers was answered.

they were safe.

that was one.

the other one had been spoken on the drive to starbucks. i have been feeling so disconnected, lost, and was just longing for God to speak into me. jesus, speak.

***

ever since i watched my first episode of parenthood last week, my heart has been longing, asking a question without ever verbalizing it. both episodes i’ve seen of that show now have ended with a scene where Max and his heart are fought for.

Max, maybe eight years old, has just been diagnosed with asperger’s, and they’re all reeling. in the first episode, when they realize he unexpectedly wants to join his team to play baseball that day, his entire extended family drops everything and rushes to get ready for the game. they had just sat down to a lovely backyard lunch, but they leave all that, calling out “you get his uniform?” “i’m snack mom this week! help!” and they are all delighted to fight for this young boy.

the second episode ends with Max’s dad putting on a pirate costume to enter his world, try to understand him, to reach his heart. as they run around the yard with red handkerchief-heads and tennis racket-swords, my tears fell for the second time in two episodes. over a dumb television show. but i knew where the emotion was rooted.

i want to feel fought for. i want to believe that i am worth fighting for. worth whatever it takes to rescue this heart of mine. 

there have been moments i believed this, little glimpses into the father-heart of God, into his love, his delight for me. and yes, i have been rescued. but i need to be rescued every day. from the lies, the self-deception, the accusing voices. i need to know: are you on my side? will you fight for me, rescue me? am i even worth it?

and tonight? he answered yes.

in the stories of the many rescuers that went out to fight for the lives of these kids. the ones that got lost themselves in the process, the ones that were injured. one even had to be hospitalized; he was lucky to be alive, the sheriff’s department said. people prayed, people searched, people risked their lives to fight for these two teenagers.

and my God fights for me. he doesn’t let me stay in my same old ways of self-loathing, believing defeated-enemy lies. he risked GAVE his life because my alive-heart is worth it to him.

and so is yours.

notlost

I don’t always dream about Lord of the Rings, but when I do, my husband is jealous.

photo-21

//We are in a room filled floor-ceiling with figurines of heroes.

My eyes take it in and treat it as a history lesson, and also as proof of how inadequate I am, how much I will never rightfully belong in this company of brave ones.

He follows my eyes, then turns to me with a secret: “you know, in a way – all of these were actually let-er down-ers“, says Gandalf the Grey [he is much more eloquent in tolkein’s work than in my dreams, apparently].

My tears rise and spill over, unbidden, and I turn in an attempt to hide.

Because if he sees, he will be kind, and that will be the end of my ability to hold up the dam. I know deep inside that I am only a poser in the midst of true heroes – artists and writers fighting for justice, slaying dragons.

One hobbit in the company of a dozen warrior-dwarves.\\

All this was my dream, after falling asleep with words rolling over on the tongue of my undulating mind:

“I ended the movie with tears and a heavy heart…”

no, that’s not quite accurate.

“I ended the movie asleep, drifting off with a heavy heart as hobbits and dwarves climbed trees to keep away from orcs. And the tears came afterward in trying to discern this heaviness.”

I knew the moment I could bear it no longer (and gladly succumbed to heavy eyelids). Bilbo had just taken off the ring and rejoined the company of the dwarves, assuring them of his noble purpose of helping them find a home. But he had a trick up his sleeve, and Gandalf saw his self-deception while he was blind to it.

He would use that ring to allow him to be brave.

But then it wasn’t real courage because he always had an out. Invisibility. A way of escape. Something to fall back on.

I knew I’d been identifying with Bilbo along the way as I searched plot and dialogue for secret messages and redemptive analogies. But I didn’t know until we were speaking of it in the dark that I was afraid.

Afraid that I was deceiving myself, too.

Afraid that I was keeping a trick up my sleeve, even as I answered the call for bravery.

And my love said: “we all do that. Self-deception. I’m sure you are, in some ways. But you’re my hero.”

The tears came then. With the realization that I can fight this battle flawed. And must.

But the most important part was when I considered what the trick up my sleeve was. It is a form of safety net. Where I step out into the dark bravely, only because I think to myself, unconsciously I suppose, that I can always go back.

But now that I’ve seen it? I can’t.

I have to take the lunging, flying leap into uncharted air-over-canyon, bow in hand, and let him find my footing. Trust. Abandon. Words that sound so nice and pretty until you actually have to do it, jump. Then they scare you spitless.

But here I am, lunging over open space into grace.