Saturday, August 25, 2007


I wish I were more rebellious. You challenged me, and I'd like to meet your challenge. Hm. It's not coming. It'd be easier if I could just laugh it off, declaring, I'm not doing that.

28 words?

Face lifted heavenward.
Heart aching to be filled.
Body sore, scarred, and painted.
Soul searching for embodiment.
Loving beauty.
Needing grace.
Desiring boldness.
Lacking courage.
Enveloped in dreams.

Don't think that covers it.
I think if you asked me tomorrow, my answer would be different.
I feel blessed, undoubtedly.
Pain and struggle are all objective.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I just finished a brand new week of a brand new season.
I am beginning to find a new family... on campus last night, I find a new place to relax.
Last night I liked who I was.
A new pair of jeans: $29.99.
Flip flops: $2.00
Spending the evening, comfortable in your own skin: priceless.

Bought books today. Two of them. I need five. Two cost me almost $200., here I come. It took us almost two hours to fill out FAFSA the other night... I stood in line for a good hour and a half at the offices on Monday. It all makes you want to curse higher education.

Made friends with the security guard (Nathan) and the front desk guy (Gabriel). Alex, a guy whose face I cannot even recall, told me I was beautiful. There is someone I know in every one of my classes. My biology professor is a hippie--she told me to find something to do this weekend that feeds my soul. My logic professor looks like Jack from Will and Grace. Photography class will get me through the semester...

Sarah is in the hospital. I can tell by her voice how she is feeling. I saw her at the hospital on Tuesday and watched her walk around and get dizzy. I'm taking her ice cream tomorrow... she's having a biopsy next week. When she was admitted, no one (except for Kat) even thought to call me. I was pissed. Sarah's my girl. Two years now, I've been kidnapping her, taking her for coffee, waiting for her to blurt out what's worrying her. She exhausts me. And I love her dearly. Tuesday night, I hugged her tight (this was the first time she'd ever let me give her a two-armed hug) and told her I loved her. I had never told her that before. Shame on me.

I am leaving to babysit for 6-month old twin boys. There's a wedding going on tonight... I'll be in the hotel room changing diapers. Ha.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I think He is breaking my heart.
My knees hurt--
I know I should be on them constantly.

My words are not enough these days.

I feel like Mary.
Loving Him.
Needing Him.

Not having the words to tell Him.
I wonder if she, too, was completely out of words.
She didn't know what to say.

Every verbal profession of her love,
of her devotion, missed the mark.
Fell short.

All she could do was break her alabaster.
Fall to her knees.
Wash His feet with the best she had.

There's nothing fancy about the way I love Him.
There are others who love Him more,
harder, stronger, more diligently.

But here I am.
Loving Him with all the love I know.
Breaking my alabaster.

The best I have,
at His feet.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Lost in Translation

I am home alone.

Let me see if I can convey my heart to you...

as Dave Barnes plays on iTunes and rain sprinkles lightly outside...

(Please go listen to "you'll love will never change".)

My fourth semester of college starts tomorrow.

I've done this three times before.

I kind of have this notion that I know what I'm doing.

I know where 248 OSB is, and where 216 ATB is...

I know where to find parking, where to go about paying my bills.

There are a few people I know to stay away from.

I'll be looking for my favorite janitor.

A few professors will nod at me.

A few fellow classmates with smile.

And I've avoided thinking about the whole scenario at all...

Just to save myself from my anxiety.

If I let myself, I will get nervous about managing my time. About my professors (which ones will yell? Spit? Call on me? Who grade the easiest, which ones are in love with homework?). Will I be able to catch on to what I have to learn?

I won't let myself think about it.

I'm sort of holding my breath.

Look closely... I might be turning blue.

I went to church tonight.

Going with my roommates wasn't as bad as I anticipated (nothing ever is).

Brad Stone spoke. In his spastic, passionate way. Big-eyed, loud-voiced, story-telling way.

My prayer going into tonight was that God would teach me something.

That He would meet me in this place...

I was trying to find Him.

Don't hide from me, o Lord.

Brad opened with a question.

"What are you dreaming about, thinking about... that is big?"

I laughed. If he only knew.

He elaborated. Repeating the question.

He paused. "Let me ask you the same question in a different way. What is it that you are praying about... that is big?"

I didn't laugh. If he only knew.

"What is it that you are praying about that is so big that if God doesn't respond... it can't be done? When you pray, what is it you pray for that you seek Him, saying be here, God. I need you. I cannot do this alone."


Brad started talking about the ministries at Southland. About the free health clinics, about small groups, about retreats.

Retreats. When was the last time I went on a retreat? *remembers Bigstuf, 2005*

Brad tells us that tonight we are ending a chapter. August 19th, 2007. A year ends tonight for us. Tomorrow, August 20th 2007, starts everything new.

A whole new year. What is it this year that we are going to pray big about? What is God going to do with us, in us, through us, for us this year that is big.

Are we willing to let Him?

I felt the tears coming.

Even as I write this, I know I am unable to express the emotions in my heart.

I am at the point where I don't know what to pray anymore. I am out of words. The ones I know are insufficient.

And yet...

I hear His voice.

He's telling me something.

There are days it sounds like, "hold on tight, baby, I'm sending you away. You're going."

Other days, "Let's go, Anna. You're staying here. But how well do you really know your home?"

Most days He speaks in a different language.

One that I am familiar with. I hear the nuance and the implication and I see the expression of His face. But I don't understand the words. What is it, specifically, that He is telling me? How can I find out? How do I know? Something is being lost in translation... and my head is swirling.

Classes start tomorrow.

15 hours of classes.

35 hours at the office.

Saturdays at the gym.

Education is important. I need it. I want it. There are days I'm excited about it.

I have to work. No if's, and's, or but's.

But what about my soul?

What good is an education, what good is a pay check, if my soul is starving?

If I am so spiritually thirsty... lonely... exhausted... confused... (fill in the blank).

I felt Him telling me tonight, if you gain the whole world, but have not love.....

If I cannot make time for the things that really matter, what's the point?

So I am in search of a family.

I have found a home. Finally, a safe place.

Standing in the service tonight, I felt the tears coming. O, holy spirit, use those tears to pray for me. I stood there and looked up.

She was getting baptized. I don't know her name, couldn't hear her voice. But tears wracked my chest and they didn't stop. Then he got baptized. Cheering. I looked back behind me and saw someone I knew on his knees, his face almost pressed to the ground. And my own knees hurt a little.

We sang. And the cry of my heart is to bring you praise, from the inside out, ohh my soul cries out...

My soul is crying out. My eyes were crying out.

He wants us to seek, knock, ask. To be bold. Like the man who wakes his neighbor from a deep sleep to ask for three loaves of bread. It was not because of their friendship that the neighbor awoke and gave the man the bread he asked for. It was because of boldness. Because he sought, knocked, and asked.

I am seeking.
I am knocking.
I am asking.

For a family.
For someone who will kneel down beside me here in the dirt, hold my hand, and pray.
For refreshment.
For purpose.

I need a translator.

And a map.

Because this is foreign territory.

And there is a very important message, all my instructions, being lost in translation.

I am praying big things. And thinking big things. And dreaming big things. All so big I'm bursting at the seams.

Don't let me fall ill with monotony. Don't let me be a victim to anxiety. Don't let me die of thirst. Don't let me wither from lack of community.

August 19th, 2007. It is time for things to change.

Time for some sleep.

August 20th, 2007. It will be a good morning.


I told you the other night that I only hesitate to write because I'm afraid of what you will think of me.
Can I write about my heart... becoming completely transparent... knowing you read this? Knowing, when it comes time to write, I have no secrets?
The answer has always been yes.
I will always be afraid of what you think of me. Will you agree with me? After I say this, will you like me much? Will I seem childish in your eyes when all is said and done? I feel this way, because I love you.
And because I do love you, I don't hesitate longer than a few moments, to lay out my heart here...
Or at least the part of my heart that can be put into words.

I'm getting ready to go to church in about two hours.
I've been going to this church since May. I started out going with Marty and Tasha, and lately have been going by myself.
I told you about last week, going to the alternative service at night, wondering why I had subjected myself to sitting alone... again. Then seeing Chris from psychology class.
Tonight, I had planned on going to the same service with my friend who just got back from Norway. I slept in very late this morning, knowing that starting tomorrow, sleep is going to be a rare and precious commodity.

My thoughts:
One of my roommates woke me up this morning to ask to use my flat iron. Half asleep, I told her yes and to shut the door on the way out. She asked if I was going to the service tonight, I groggily said yes, feeling the cotton being stuffed into my ears. I would never be able to go back to sleep now. She told me she wanted to go with me, and left.
A second roommate called later and said that she wanted to go as well (ending the conversation with, and then we are going to watch Highschool Musical Two at my parents house.)
I hung up the phone and began to think thoughts I'm not very proud of.
I am not sure if these thoughts are okay.
Or if they make any sense at all.
I didn't want them to come with me.
I had told them yes.
But I had really meant, no.
It is not my church to decide whether they can come or not... I know this.
And I beat myself up, mentally, for thinking these thoughts.
I came to this church in seek of newness.
Searching for a new family.
A fresh start... something I desperately needed.

I am afraid that if these two come with me, I will be less likely to go meet new people. That I will be so concerned with the drama they tote around like handbags, I will not enjoy myself. They do not want to hang out with me on a daily basis... why do they want to be with me at church? Where I am most vulnerable. A place that has, suddenly, become so safe and precious to me. Why do they want to come there, but cannot sit through a $1.50 movie with me on a Saturday night?

External control.
I can hear you, even now, uttering those words.
Choice theory, Anna.
It's not about them. I'm letting myself feel this way.
I get it.

But I really don't. Today I'm just not so sure that a change in our psychology would help.

This is my confession.

It's time to blowdry my hair, put on a good face, and remember that they cannot control me.

And I cannot control them.

Good grief.

Golden Dreams

I made a list like this once a long time ago.
Do we call these ambitions?
I've said before, I am not good with goals.
Tim McGraw sang about this.
And as much as I hate to admit it, I resonate with country songs like that.
What would you do if you could not fail?
What if you knew that you had one day left to live?
I don't know if I think in such terms so much as...
It is more like...
This is what my heart is all about.
Not so much the doing.
But the soul behind the act.
Because, we've all seen a sunrise.
But not all of them are magical.
It is our attitude, our purpose, our intention, the eyes we use to see.
So the list I'm about to give you might mean nothing to anyone but myself.
And I can guarantee some of this will seem trivial. Juvenile, even. Pointless, perhaps.
But there is a bit of my soul in all of it.
A soul a lot of you may not recognize (I am sure there will be a blog soon about being what others expect you to be... and waking up one morning to find you are not so much the Anna they thought. But, indeed, someone entirely different).

It's not so much about the doing.

So, in no particular order:

1. Build a very big snowman.
2. Teach someone something.
3. Learn to blow glass.
4. Chase a storm.
5. White water raft.
6. Kayak.
7. See a whale.
8. Sleep on the beach.
9. Give something away.
10. Be a good friend.
11. Find home.
12. Eat sushi.
13. Skydive.
14. See the Northern Lights.
15. Surf.
16. Dance.
17. Laugh. A lot.
18. Have a cat (I would name him Solomon).
19. Ski.
20. Migrate.
21. Open a coffee shop.
22. Have a big family.
23. Go to Europe.
24. Ride a camel.
25. And an elephant.
26. Tell a story.
27. Be willing.

The list will be added to.
And subtracted from as things are accomplished.
Which I have every intention of doing.
The goal, however, is not to complete the list, but to ever remain ambitious.
Courageous enough to stretch the limits of who you are and what you do.
Inspired by a very wise man, this is not about the false summit.
As told in the life's work of another man, now passed, the treasure is in the journey.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Estes Park, Colorado.
I stood on a bridge, trying to find the right camera angle to capture what my eyes were seeing.
Two streams of water.
Both powerful, cold, alive, pulsing.
Below the bridge, beneath my feet, these two bodies of water met.
Mixing, churning, frothing.
Two became one, until one was not distinguishable from the other.
Both streams were still present.
But they couldn't be separated.
Take a drink, it was both streams who quenched your thirst.
Wade into the water, it was both currents who washed your body.

Winchester, Kentucky.
I sat on the floor of an attic bedroom. The window unit blew a warm 75 degrees. Cats purred at my feet as I listened to my friend. My friend who still has not lost her European accent, whose cheeks are red from the tears she refuses to shed (I am sure my cheeks are the same hue... my eyes just as bloodshot).
I tell her about this place.
This place of convergence.
And how the analogy is what gets me through the day.
On the days when I am lonely.
When the desires of my heart seem so far fetched and unattainable.
I remember that I know better.
I understand I have yet to meet someone whose water I want to mix with.
There has yet to be another soul who I wanted to converge with, so that our lives were indistinguishable from one another's.
There hasn't been someone who I wanted to mix my water with.
I know better.
Knowing just how hard it is to sift the waters apart again.

Whatever I was worried about before (learning how to be friends with her in person) have flown out the window. She is an answered prayer. Talking life out with her, brought this metaphor to my mind. And I'm excited beyond words to see what the next few years hold for the both of us. It will be a year ago on Sunday that she and I stood on stage and shared our art... a year ago that she left for Europe.

Who ever knew that coming home would be the greatest adventure so far?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


He's on my mind tonight.
I sort of wish you knew him, but then again, it's better that some of you don't.

He hides behind himself in a way I've never seen anyone do before.

Behind glasses.
Behind dreadlocks.
Behind a beard.
Underneath baggy clothes.
He used to be a pretty, clean-shaven teenager.

He's mastered this art of hiding. I've known him for months, and have a hard time bringing his face to mind. I've never been able to tell what he is thinking, and it can be hard to distinguish a smile from a frown.

He smells like sunshine and cheap cigarettes.

When he has finished smoking one of those cheap cigarettes, he is more likely to tuck it away in his pocket than throw it out the window. He's a construction worker, he says. He's just trying to make up for the damage he's caused.

His voice is scratchy and he doesn't move his mouth when he talks. Every other word is profanity. He's good at laughing at himself. Bad at making conversation.

He doesn't know how to open doors for people. Last time we went out to dinner, we did all but tango trying to figure out who would open what door and when. Finally, he ran into the parking lot and threw his arms above his head and screamed, "I am almost twenty-five years old and I don't know how to open an f****** door!" That made me laugh.

There hasn't been a time when I was with him, that he wasn't drinking beer.

He builds luxury homes all day, and works in the ghetto at night. He would rather pour concrete than paint a wall. Twelve and fifteen hour days, six or seven days a week, he claims he is miserable when he's not working. He falls asleep in the bathtub after a long day's work.

He called me the other night, inviting me to a party. He left a rhyme on my voicemail. The goat farm, apparently, would be better than any punk rock show.

He reminds me of a grumpy, old man. I went to dinner with his family on Monday and as we waited for a table, I watched him grab his six year old nephew to try and keep him still. He held Ethan by the arms until Ethan screamed and cried. And without blinking, the growling uncle told Ethan he wouldn't let go until it was time to eat. After dinner, it was the same growling uncle who hollered (there is no other word) at the boys to stay out of the road.

He hides behind himself in a way I've never seen anyone do before. He will not look me in the eye. When he talks to me, he looks at the floor. He looks at the wall behind me. He rubs the bottle of Killian's in his hand, rotates the cigarette between his fingers, runs his hands through Saturn's fur. He would do anything to keep from looking me in the eyes.

Good thing, probably. There's no telling what I'd see if I got a good look into those big blue eyes.

There's no telling what would happen to my heart.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Paper Napkin

I don't have a specific train of thought tonight. Just some random, beautiful, life things I wanted to share with you. I jotted some of them down on a paper napkin I found in my car.

I went out to the country yesterday. So far out in the country you could sit on your front porch completely naked, and not only would no one care, no one could see you. It was cool on top of the hill; we sat in rocking chairs, held the three month old baby Charlotte, and ate BBQ pork chops. We rode ATV's across the farm; my biceps are sore today from holding on. We rode down a dry creek bed and drove through Queen Anne's Lace (my legs are eaten up with bug bites from this). I secretly compared Kentucky's hills to Colorado's mountains and chided myself for doing so; I just couldn't quite grasp the majesty of Harrison County. But I felt the beauty. The little bit of simplicity was precious... I felt like the Waltons. I rocked in a two-seater chair with Eric as he held Charlotte. He grinned, leaning his head back and closing his eyes. "I could just die right now," he whispered. It was that peaceful.

I went to Winchester on Friday to a new coffee shop downtown. I am skeptical. Coffee has never done too well in Clark County... you kind of have to be a bank or a convenience store to flourish there. (That was mean. I know.) Expressions was actually a very sweet little shop. They were lacking white noise, which made me a highly uncomfortable. But eventually the band we had come to see began to play. Once again I found myself seeing people from my past, getting myself reaquainted with a past I thought I had forgotten all about. I hadn't realized how much I had detached myself from those memories. I also had never really realized how young I was when it was all over.

I went to church by myself this morning and tonight. I was fine this morning. I sat beside two pretty, dressed-up ladies and in front of a sweet, old couple. Jon talked about temptation and evil. The one thing I came away with was a lesson that can be learned in AA. Heh. "HALT". You know what I'm talking about; I bet you're chuckling right now. What is the lesson? The acronymn? Don't trust your judgment when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Hmph. No kidding.

I went back to church tonight for the same sermon preached by a different preacher. Brad's funny. Kind of a spastic (in the best sense of the word) teaching style; he makes me laugh every time. Going to 6:08 tonight, I was a little more nervous. I knew that the people I would be surrounded by would be my age. I knew that I might see people I knew (I was right). I knew I would probably have to leave early to make it to dinner on time. I wondered why I had decided to go to church again. I had met my quota for the day, right? Once was surely enough. But right before the service started I looked up and saw someone. His name is Chris. We took psychology together last semester. I think he cheated off my tests once or twice. He sold prescription drugs in the parking lot at school, and has no sense of personal space. Chris was in church. That was enough to make me smile and want to cry and understand why God had me sitting by myself... again. Just to see Chris inside those walls made it all make sense.

Donna said something while I was in Colorado that made me think. At some point it gets to where you're not looking for the right person, as much as you are just trying to be the right person. So I wonder tonight, when I'm lonely and trying my hardest to be my best, what it is I'm doing wrong? I'm here, I want to announce. Trying pretty daggon hard to be a good woman. Where are you? On nights like tonight, I wonder these things.

One of my best friends is coming home tomorrow. I am nervous. Know why? For a good part of our childhood/teenage years we grew up in the same town. We worked for the same cafe for a good six months, and my little sister danced with her. We were nice to each other, we talked. But we weren't good friends. Until she decided to move out to Houston. And I got jealous. Crazy, green-eyed jealous. We were seventeen and she was moving and going out to have adventures and I was stuck here. In Kentucky. So I prayed about it, knowing I was so completely out of line, and wrote her a letter. I think I gave her coffee; a peace offering. That was two years ago. After her one year in Houston, after my big break up, my first semester in college, Liza came home for a summer, We went bowling. I wrote a poem for her. Then she moved to Oslo, Norway. She has been there since last August. She comes home tomorrow... and after countless letters, emails, snowglobes, and a few phone calls, I count her as one of the best people in my life. We just have to learn how to be best friends in person.

Classes start back in a week. That knot in my stomach is already starting to form. Biology might kill me this semester. But the real challenge has been finding school supplies. Who knew that the school supplies aisle could be such hell? I almost get run over every time I try to buy a folder.

These are just jotted down paper napkin thoughts. Funny, every time I think about paper napkins I think about the year I was eleven. I think I still have that note somewhere... the paper napkin Peyton used to "ask me out". Haha. He's about to turn twenty-one, has his tongue pierced, and I saw him at Triangle Park the other night smoking menthols with his new girlfriend.

Funny how things change.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Working Title

It's a struggle.
I wish I could say "it has been a struggle", putting the wrestling match in past tense. As in, finally, I have overcome.
It is a struggle...
To figure out what I am going to do with my life, without wasting the moments I'm experiencing right now.
To understand and accept myself to be different than anyone ever imagined.
To be able to say, at the end of the day, I am content with this life of mine.

A rather stubborn struggle, as of late, has been this one:

What am I going to be when I grow up?

This question, coupled with a devastating sense of only having one life to live, has badgered me to the point of tears. Because along with that sense, comes reality. I'm pretty grown up. Not all the way, certainly. But pretty close. And I feel like a five year old, waking up every morning with a new idea. A five year old with enough cynicism to lay down at night and chide myself: "what in the world were you thinking?"

I came up with a list the other day. One of those, what would you do if you could do anything you wanted, lists. I was bold. I think my list included everything from an occupational therapist to a tattoo artist.

So this morning I woke up and went to work. My two year anniversary at this office is coming up. I'm moving up in the hierarchy... remaining invisible to the office hunk. There's some comfort in knowing exactly what to expect. But I feel my creative soul being sucked dry. I am drowning in a radiological pool of monotony. But, one blessing about this office, is it gives me time to think.

I opened a legal pad and started jotting notes in between files. A childhood dream had begun to rise, this time with a little more flesh, a little more culture. My bohemian self, needing a place of expression, was beginning to speak.

I could see it. My practical side always reminds me that things like these start small and grow. So any ideas I jot down are long-term, in the big scheme of things, ideas. We could call them goals.

But I'm bad with goals.

A fair-trade, organic cafe. Coffee, juice, tea bar. Bakery. Live music, displays by local artists. Mismatched furniture, low lighting. Ceiling fans and used books. Eco-conscious (not fanatically... just conscious). A place that would smell like coffee grounds and sandalwood.

I don't know how it would work.

I don't really know how anything works.

But I could see myself there.

In a way that was more congruent than anything I've thought or felt in a very long time.

When writing, I always start with a "working title". Meaning, it is simply there to fill a space. It may work. It may not. Most of the time it has to do with my intentions. What I intend to write. Good writers know intentions do not always flesh out. But that title is there. Holding a place.

My working title for this newborn idea?

I cannot take credit for it. And will not, if it indeed, comes to fruition.

Terra Incognita.

A place unknown. A way to identify a place that has yet to be explored. On old maps these words were sometimes replaced with the phrase, "Here be Dragons". Terra Incognita. When you first said these words, I got cold chills.

(Funny... the verse that comes to mind is Isaiah 55:8. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD." If you go back just a few verses in chapter 58, this is what the book of Isaiah says: "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.")

This would mean a degree in business.

Maybe I would cling to a double minor in psychology and photography.

This is all just a working title.

... I reread this blog a few hours later and feel kind of awkward and vulnerable about this working title. Kind of like you may not understand. Like I seem like a little girl playing dress up. Hmm, part of the process, I guess. Becoming vulnerable. I am navigating unknown places these days. And there are days when I feel as if I am battling dragons.

But the view is breathtaking.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Is shoulderblades one word?
Shoulder blades.
I don't really know.

But I was reading "Girl Meets God" (my book, written by a Southern-Episcopalian-Jewish tattooed, pierced graduate student with a dirty mouth). Lauren, the author, was writing about dry spells in our faith. Some of us call them "valleys" (although, that never made very much sense to me. A valley always seemed to be a beautiful, peaceful place). She was remembering how Judaism was useful in stale periods of faith like these, mostly because of rites and rituals. Hand washing, liturgy, etc. Lauren's rabbi explained it (not in so many words) that these habitual customs helped you through your dry spells. On days when faith and God didn't make any sense... you still had the customs to hold on to. To push you through until, finally, the feeling that God was inbetween your shoulderblades would return.

God--inbetween my shoulderblades.

I get chills just thinking about it.

My shoulderblades mean a lot to me. Both of them. The left one is fairly normal. Heh, what is normal right? Pretty and flat, covered in muscle and overlaying normal ribs. The right one, however, is the one that means the most to me. (Seriously, haven't you ever picked a favorite body part? My sister used to like your pelvic bone because it sounded like Elvis who used to shake his hips.) My right shoulderblade caused me quite a bit of embarrassment and shame growing up. It was the one I could pop out of socket. The one that is slightly deformed because of a rotated ribcage. A ribcage rotated because of something called scoliosis. Something that could have killed me. A disease that... well, changed my life.

So the idea of God being inbetween my shoulderblades gives me cold chills. There He is. Nestled, settled. Breathing down my neck, some days it feels like. Whispering in my ears, on other days. There are even days, I swear I can feel His hands on my shoulders.

I think about what it feels like when He is not there. Or, rather, when I cannot feel Him there. As if I could turn my head, straining my neck to catch a glimpse of Him... and end up like my dog Zoe chasing her tail. Around and around in circles. Where is He on days like these? When no wind blows and my shoulders are uncomfortably cold?

I wonder what I do when I cannot feel Him there. I think I cry a lot. I lay blame a lot. I eat a lot. Like a lover who won't return your calls. Well, not quite. But something equivalent. I wonder, sometimes, what I did wrong. Why did He leave? Was it something I said? Was it something I did? What could I do to make Him return?

And, even as I write this, I am reminded that He never really leaves; not really. He is there all along, it is I who have forgotten about Him. Taken His presence for granted. Taken advantage of His grace (well, actually, can you even do such a thing?). And so He stays quiet for a little while. Or begins to speak in a new language, a new tongue.

Because He wants us to listen.

He wants us to hear.

One of my best friends in the world returned from Africa yesterday. She climbed a volcano and saw rhinos and giraffes. She worked in an orphanage with a team of other college students from the U.S. for a whole month. I talked to her today and she told me about Dustin.

All I know is that Dustin is his name.

And in the last week of their trip, as they served in an orphanage in Kenya, he decided to stay.

He decided to stay until December.


Because that was where he needed to be (I get cold chills, again, as I write this).

Because he knew it was time to "step out and be bold in his faith".

I think, maybe, God was in between Dustin's shoulderblades. And He was laughing.

Sometimes, when God is so close (when God is on our back), His laughter shakes us up a little bit.

Oh, to be so close.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

the men in my life

I have watched the anticipation build.
Marty was about to go out of his mind, and it was showing in the way he talked, the way he moved, in his art.
Dad was about to go out of his mind. But only a few of us could tell. I could see it in his eyes.... oh, how very much he needs this.
And then in the eyes of Granddad. In the gentle one (the one who feels like he can only dream of leaving. And, oh does he dream. He's more like my dad in that way.) I could see a little melancholy. A little bit of the bittersweet, "what-might-have-been".

I pulled up as the two brothers finished packing the Pathfinder. Marty bounced around like his black lab, Arie. Did he forget anything? Underwear, check. Videocamera, check. No, he was good and ready. Dad gently slid his fishing pole (fly fishing rod actually) into the back of the truck and smiled at me. His happy smile.

Good and ready.

We went down to Grandmom and Granddad's before the "boys" left. (It only seems appropriate to call them boys. If only you could have seen the light in their blue eyes.) As she hugged them goodbye, I thought Grandmom was going to cry. Silly woman. They'll only be gone for a week. No need to cry.

I walked into the kitchen. He stood there, eating a sandwich (he looked a little sheepish too--as if he had every intention of shoving ham into his mouth and never mentioning it to anyone). "I wish I could go with you," I said. "Baby, I wish you could go with me too." He said this with his head in the refridgerator. Luckily, he couldn't see that I was tearing up (damn genetics).

I hugged Marty. Be safe, I told him. I want both of them back with all their limbs and eyeballs and toes. Don't be careful, though.

Being careful never got anyone anywhere.

I looked at my grandfather and told him, in all seriousness, "you know... if you ran down there and waved your arms and told those boys to take you with them... they'd haul you along. Gladly." I looked him square in the eye. And I saw it again. He pretended to bolt for the door. "Next time," he said. No one ever really mentions Joe leaving Betty. Not for a week. Not for forever. "I gotta stay and mow the grass."

I'd gladly mow the grass if it meant I could see him smile.

So Marty and Dad hugged us goodbye and I tried not to cry again. (Let me offer an explanation here: I was not crying because he was leaving. He'll be back again next Saturday night. I was crying because I couldn't go too. Because I wanted to share that joy with my dad. Because I wanted to stand under that big, overwhelming sky with two of the best men in my life. Oh, crap. Hey Dad, I know you're reading this. I forgot to tell you to make sure you come home. )

I want these two men back a little worse for wear. Exposed to a little sun (not too much, wear your sunscreen, do you hear me?). A little windblown. I want muscles to be sore and lungs full of some heady cigar smoke. I want bellies full of fish.

But make sure you come home, Dad.

What I See

It is Saturday morning.
I could have slept in, maybe I should have. But instead I went to the bank. I put some gas in my car. And I went downtown.
Magees Bakery.
Parking was ridiculous.
Getting through the line and then finding a chair, even more so.
Beautiful chaos, really.
(The thing I love about Magees is the owner--he looks like he should have a northern accent, and just might have a really bad temper. He's jumped right in the middle of "rush hour"; he's involved. I really love the black guy who works in the back; a baker with a nose and lip ring. He peers out every now and then, dusted in flour. I also love the mural on the back wall.)
I bought a cream cheese danish and some very hot coffee, which I mixed with milk and honey.
The only table I could find was the one right beside the microwave.
A table with a newspaper folded up under one of the legs so it wouldn't rock.
A table underneath the bulletin board, tacked with business cards. One business card was for a man named Michael. He was a writer. That's all it said.
So I warmed up my pastry, sat down, stirred my coffee, and opened my book.
People kept coming by and heating things up. Why? I mean, besides me, who really needs a hot donut?
The way I was sitting, they--these Saturday morning hot donut eaters--completely invade my personal space. I kept reading (a book called Girl Meets God about a Messianic Jew who uses a lot of bad words and has two nose rings--my kind of girl).
Secretly, I'd love to talk to all of them--those people with a taste for warm sugar.
To have one of them say something to me during the ten seconds they stand there.
But they ignore me.
So I move on.

Farmers Market.
I rolled out of bed this morning, brushed my teeth, and was out the door; wearing last night's clothes, unbrushed hair... my legs haven't been shaved. I tell myself I don't care what these people think about me (they'll just think I'm a hippie, completely comfortable in my unwashed skin).
I tell myself that.
But I wear sunglasses.
These shades are magical.
They make me invisible.
So I walk through the chaotic, coloroful market, and see at least four people I know (who don't see me because I'm wearing these smudged, Jackie-O glasses).

I notice a lot of things.
I'm a people-watcher.
Really, I should get paid to do it.
I always notice the little things (it is, after all, the little things that are important, that are unique). I notice wedding rings and tattoos. I notice the shoes that people wear (a shoe can tell you so much about the person who wears it). I notice which men reach out for their partner's hand, and which ones reach for the small of her back. I notice people who are by themselves, mostly. I like those people who sit in their fold-out camping chairs and play their music with a container at their feet for loose change.
I never give them change.
But I like these people.

Then I came to Triangle Park.
I usually only come here at night--when the lights bounce off the spouting water, where couples make out on benches and college students smoke hookah on the steps. I've seen a few proposals here. I've had my own share of dates take place in this park.
I think when I'm forty, and thinking about where my youth took place, I will remember this park.
It is here, at Triangle Park that I realize (save a voicemail I left you this morning, the bank drive-thru, and ordering at Magees) I haven't said a word.
The fountains are deafening this morning. They drown out even the weekend traffic. I think they are trying to speak to me, especially to me, so I don't feel lonely.

You see, I've told myself I needed to learn how to be alone.
I'm a borderline extrovert/introvert (which, can be a shitty place to be if you don't know how to manage it). I like being by myself in a room, listening to Ray LaMontagne with the shades closed and candles lit.
Odd? Hmph.
But, then again, I hate being in a big crowd and feeling all alone. I want eye contact and "hello's"--a quick, casual conversation never hurt anybody either.
Wednesday was the first time I had ever eaten in a restaurant by myself. Usually if I have to eat alone, I run through the drive-thru at Taco Bell and bring it home and watch the news in my living room. But Wednesday I got out of the office at 4 and had to be at the gym at 5, so I headed to Hamburg; pulled into the Culvert's parking lot (deciding that if I was going to do this... I might as well try some new food), ordered a salad, sat at a table and read my book.
All by myself. For about thirty minutes.
Hey, it's a start.
(Last week, I went to church all by myself and sat in the cafe for half an hour drinking coffee, writing in my journal. And then went and sat in the service by myself. I guess, really, that was step #1.)
I've told myself I need to learn to be alone, because to be alone you have to like yourself. Or, at least you ought to. Liking yourself makes the experience a whole lot more tolerable (perhaps, even enjoyable). I'm kind of going through a phase where I'm not my favorite person. I kind of bore myself. I do not see myself as one of those colorful, cultural, bold, mysterious people I am attracted to.
So I figured... it was about time to change.
Bring what is inside, out.
Because I am a pretty interesting person on the inside.
(Ha. If I said everything I thought, did everything I planned... I'd like to think it would be revolutionary.)
About time to be the right person. Take advantage of my borderline social personality. Be okay with who I am. Be okay with other people not being okay with who I am. Attracting people who will be okay with who I am.
It's a process.

It is Saturday morning, my windows are rolled down (James Morrison should be playing on the radio... but Fergie won't shut up), sweat is beading on my forehead, and as I drive home I realized I still hadn't spoken a word.
This is what I see.

Friday, August 3, 2007

palm trees

I don't know what I'd do without you, my friends. Even as I write this, your faces appear in my mind, and I am filled with love for you.
One of you sent me these words the other day... an answer to a rhetorical question. Palm trees. Every year along the coasts, the weather changes. Huge storms and hurricanes hammer the beaches, destroying nearly everything in their paths. When the storm dies and the tide goes back out, there is little left untouched by the natural disaster. But the palm trees remain standing. Why is this? Because they were designed to bend with the wind. Palm trees will bend almost all the way to the ground as the storms hammer upon the coasts (and the houses, the cars, the very appearance of the beach). When the storm is gone (for, eventually all storms come to an end) the palm trees spring back up to life. And they are stronger than ever.
Lately, the phrase 'tried by fire' has stuck in my mind. (It is, in fact, inspiration for one of my next tattoos.) I constantly try to remind myself that our Father will not give us more than we can handle--that sometimes the fires are there to clear us of unwanted, dangerous debris that we forgot to clean out ourselves. As does a storm. A trial--a trial we will emerge from, stronger than before. We were created to withstand, to endure.
And so I have been begging my Father to transform me. Make me into a new creation that is stronger than who I am now; "flexible", in the way that I might bend with the wind (remembering, all the while, that perhaps the Lord is in these winds... I am being driven, bending to the ground by the holy breath of God).
And so my words often sound like this... "God, come close. Come quickly! Open your ears--it's my voice you're hearing! Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising; my raised hands as evening prayers. (Psalm 141:1-2)"
Days like today, when I am weepy and nervous and tired, when I feel as though the fire may have gotten too hot, or the wind blown too hard, or perhaps... the cocoon is wrapped too tightly... I cling to the hope that I was created this way. Like a palm tree. To bend, but not to break. To be refined like silver, but not burned to ashes. And that when this cocoon breaks away-- when the pressure and heat of this metamorphisis has happened-- I will be more than I was before.
So... thank you for being who you are. You, who will come home soon from from the adventure of your life, cling to this hope. You, who will be coming home shortly to what most would call "normal life" (we know better, that there is nothing normal about it)... You, fabulous you, who never really quite knows what to say (but that is perfect) and has been released from some of the ties that bind.
I don't know what I'd do without you.

Thursday, August 2, 2007


July 27 -
I have been here for a while now.
Enclosed, wrapped up tightly.
I came to shut out the world
Where I seemed to have no place.
I came to hide.
To rest.
So I wrapped myself up
An irridescent shield
Disguising armor.
I expected silence.
Expected peace.
Expected solitude.
I have been still
And I have been quiet for a while now.
But He has not.
He came to me.
He whispered words of flight--of transformation.
He wanted to life me off the ground.
As I was still and quiet, He came.
When I had reached the point I could no longer do it alone...
He was there.
Beckoning me back into the sun.
Promising flight.
And I became new.
I broke out,shattering my armor.
Into the sun
As He breathed holy breath beneath my wet wings.

ancient stillness

July 25 - I have diagnosed myself with a disease. A curable one. But a disease nonetheless.Writers block.One would think, after spending a week on vacation, I would return with some words. Surely, after spending time in the mountains, God would speak to me.... Right?Surely--I mean, take a look at my photos--I would be somewhat inspired.And He did.And I am. But the words won't seem to come. I want to tell you about how big the sky was. About how I felt so small, standing in the foothills of the Rockies, and looking up at the heavens.... wondering where they began and where they ended. I wanted to tell you about the spirit I felt. About how, if you slowed down a minute, you could feel it. This wild, wild west... It was as though man had come and tried to tame a wild beast. And only managed to train him. I wanted to tell you about the stillness I felt. As if, just maybe, this was hallowed ground.... as if these mountains had witnessed far more than we could imagine. Like every crag and peak was keeping a secret. I wanted to tell you about how I felt challenged. Because it was hard to breathe. Because of the enormity of it all. Because of the homeless. Because of the way the mountains seemed to whisper.... "faith is all it takes to move us".I wanted to tell you about the man who played the saxaphone on Pearl Street. And the old man who sat cross legged with a sign that read, "Change... everybody needs it." And the young man on the Light Rail who waved at me. About my cousin, who while I was there, had to learn about stretching yourself too thin and that eating too many sweets makes your belly hurt (what a great lesson to learn at 11 years old). I wanted to tell you about this sense of "home" that I felt. A sense that my bohemian spirit would be welcomed... that beauty and challenges awaited me there in forms that were overwhelming and strange. I wanted to tell you about Donna... when she compared the July haze to our lives. The feeling I felt when I walked through security in the Denver airport and realized I was headed back to Kentucky... feeling as though it had all been a dream. The altitude sickness I experienced when I got back to Kentucky. How much I just wanted to drink lots of water and eat blueberries and avacados...I wanted to tell you about all of that. I wanted to be wise and creative and use pretty words so that you could "see" what I was writing about. I wanted to touch someone, so I didn't feel entirely selfish about the whole ordeal (but maybe, that's the point of vacations...).Normal routine has kicked back into gear. Five/six hours of sleep a night. Haven't seen a berry or an avacado (save guacamole in Don Pablos) since boarding that plane. I think my soul stole a bit of that ancient stillness....There are moments when I can feel it.... telling me a secret, reminding me that all it takes is faith.


June 30 - I wonder if part of growing up is learning to understand what people are really saying, instead of just clinging to the words they speak?
She said not to expect too much; accept the mundane and know that's the way it's (life is) supposed to be. Don't live solely for those "extraordinary" moments that appear so infrequently as we grow older... instead, come to understand a cherish the normalcy of every day life. Then we will have peace.
I read that this morning before going to the gym. Seven AM came far too early after a deep sleep. And with her words, I was awakened... driving down the road to hit Starbucks before taking care of children. In my head, I composed this blog. I had to get my words out on "paper" so I could figure out what I really thought about this thing called life. That process we call "growing up".
Perhaps I can't believe all of what she said, because my heart is still that of a child. Somehow I have clung to this hope that there is still magic out there somewhere. A sort of magic we cannot live without--it is what makes the flowers bloom, and the thunder roll. I do understand that every day will not bring the earth shattering revelations, or smile inducing serendipity, that I long for. So I have come to learn in order to find this holistic joy (body, mind, soul), we have to be willing to see wonder in, and stand in awe of, something as simple as a blade of grass.
Perhaps "grown ups" fall into this sad state of stagnancy.... because on a subconscious level they choose it. What a tragedy to be in your twenties and have already come to a grinding halt. Or to be forty-three and need more, but be terrified to take it. Perhaps we can call this the reverse-Peter-Pan. Peter Pan never wanted to grow up--avoided it to the extent he fled the real world, taking others with him, to live the life of perpetual childhood. There are others, however, who have chosen to do the opposite. Assuming, with a few more decades under their belts, they have to be this way. Mature. Responsible. That homemakers wash the dishes and providers work ungodly hours to put bread on the table.
Our perception is our reality. And if we choose to view "adulthood" this way, it becomes this way. How then do we stir the waters of our "grown up" souls? When we need refreshment, where do we seek it? How do we go about affecting what can be affected, and then letting this world take its most positive effect on us?
This world, after all, was created for us so we could be a part of an extraordinary story.
This world, this life, is as big as we want it to be.
And maybe it is childish, but I refuse to believe the mundane is what we should expect. I cannot bring my heart to accept that one day, all that will be left is dishwashing and dog walking. There may be days when that is all we do. We may have days that seem like every other... same shit, different day. As if RBD's are manufactured somewhere, and we all have to have our share. The key (and this is my childish, hopeful, wild heart speaking here)... is to change the ordinary into the extraordinary. When your heart feels heavy, and seven years of normalcy have taken their toll, sit down in the dirt.
I think there were a few men, a long time ago, who felt this way.
As if they had to throw the net over the side of the boat one more time... surely, there was something more. This was their life, and there was some fulfillment and beauty in it. They were providing for their families, doing what they were supposed to do. And then one normal day....
They were called to fish for something new.
Later, He would ask one of them to walk on water.
This afternoon I cannot bring myself to expect an ordinary life.
After all, this humid last Saturday in June is a miracle unto itself.
"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle." Thich Nhat Hanh

the Hardest Part

June 26 - In the words of Bon Jovi... I "wanna make a memory. Wanna steal a piece of time." Perhaps not in the way he suggests... but I want to do so all the same.My world does not make sense.There is this one piece of time that belongs to me... my eyes are heavy with tears and frustration. The clock is about to strike midnight and a cool, September rain has begun to fall. I am sixteen years old. And dad comes home. He tells me to put on my shoes and a hoodie. Come with him. And so I pulled my hood over my head, and we began to walk around the block. Life was moving too slowly. Like watching water boil. I was sixteen years old, with a part time job, wanting something to happen. And it just wouldn't get going.Nearly three years later, I need to take a walk like that again. I need to pull on a sweatshirt, lace up the shoes, and go walking in this rain and talk to my dad. Not because life isn't moving. But because its moving too fast. Because time is, or feels like it is, slipping through my hands. And I am not getting anything done.I wondered back in March when I didn't get the Bigstuf internship, what God wanted me here in Kentucky for. The summer is only halfway over now... and I know. June 1st, my family needed me here. June 16th, my littlest sister needed me here. In two weeks I'll be headed out to Denver... on a vacation that just might refresh my soul more than the internship ever could have. And so I realize that things are happening. I realize that life is happening all around me. Perhaps I lament the lack of pictures taken, of flowers picked, of picnics eaten, of dirty hands washed. What I do not regret... what I cherish more than anything... is the way I have grown close to my family lately. And two members of my family drug me out to play volleyball last night. And in the humidity and sunshine, I got sweaty and hot and tired. And I felt a happiness rise up in me that I hadn't felt in ages. Just because I got my feet dirty.I told Marty that I was afraid I was going to make a fool out of myself... I am nineteen years old and until last night, I had never played volleyball before in my life. Marty shook his head and smiled. "The hardest part is just getting here, sweetheart." And he repeated himself. "The hardest part is just getting out here...." Oh how true.How often do I stop at the door? Keys in hand, idea in mind, hope in heart, and stop before I ever make the first real step? Before any progress is made? Or when the job is halfway done... I let my ambition fail me. Discouragement sets in. Self-consciousness. The idea that everyone is watching you.... waiting for you to fail, to fall. I need to learn to laugh at myself. And then maybe the world would make a little more sense.And then maybe I would delight in dirt again. Rejoice in sweat and sunburns and wind-whipped hair. Go out on a limb... feel the rush of new life. Goodness. This is the hardest part.


(June 19th) Thunder is rolling. I can see the lightening flash occasionally, and rain has caused a heady steam to rise from the asphalt. It won't cool down until the rain has come and gone. This dry earth, this parched Kentucky, needs this shower. To be rained upon. To be shaken violently... reawakened. It is June. And we are in desperate need of vitality. I am housesitting this week. Last weekend, I was at my own house by myself. In the past week I've been by myself more than I have all year... and there have been some beautiful moments. Last week I came home and cleaned my house and cooked myself dinner. Not just a hot pocket in the microwave, but a good, full, healthy meal. Had to use recipes and everything. And I ate alone. Which is one of my least favorite things to do in the world. Then I rented a movie, laid down on the couch, and watched as George Clooney and Brad Pitt robbed a casino. There were a few nights when the silence was stifling. Where loneliness was the biggest personality in the room, and I had a hard time being by myself. I had too much time to think, slipping quietly into a state of melancholy. Until I forced myself up again... coming to grips with the way things were.There are times in our lives when we will be alone. I am in a season (a rather long one, but a season all the same) of aloneness. I am not alone, in the sense that I have no one to turn to. I have amazing friends, beloved family, and a Lord that has taken me under His wing. But alone. As in, you are the only human in the room.

We learn a lot about ourselves in times like these... when the only rhythm is that of your beating heart. Where you set the pace and the volume. Where hours could pass in silence... or all caution thrown to the wind and you are free--because no one can see you. (Perhaps this is why Jesus went to be alone sometimes. Maybe he danced. Maybe he cried. Maybe he shouted. Maybe he just sat there, waiting for our Father to say something because Jesus was out of words.)My solitude was broken on Sunday. We had a family reunion. Family drove in from Colorado to celebrate Fathers Day and Abby Taylor's 12th birthday. There were more than a dozen people on Severn Way and things got chaotic. I had to quickly adapt to the pace of those around me, cocking my ears to listen for my name, or to absorb the laughter of the boys who I've missed terribly over the past six months. It was beautifully messy. Except for a few kinks thrown in, which brough some irony and humor. When I had had almost enough of it all I looked at my mom, rolled my eyes, and whispered, "We need some wine." She gave me a quirky smile, which I didn't expect, and said we could drink some together. And I was hit with this strange realization.... this sudden awareness of just how alone my mother must feel. Sleeping in the big king size bed by herself, not needing to stay up and wait on anyone at night, or make sure there is Diet Pepsi in the fridge, or that a parking space is open in front of the house. And my heart broke for her... in the best way. And my heart loves her more now than ever before. And my heart is full of more respect for her than all my years combined. What a gracious woman. How carefully she listened... how strong she is. How fortunate.

Oh that we may all be broken in such a gentle way, so that room may be made for something beautiful. Oh that I may have that sort of courage. The courage to run, with the wind blowing in the most righteous way, towards the Father's next stronghold. To the next safe place. To His strength. But oh... (and I whisper this now, so I might possibly avoid the inevitable chidings about time, patience, and plans yadayadayada)... But oh that I may know a different sort of love than my mother has ever known. And that I will drink wine because it tastes good; that there may be two glasses instead of one. And that one day I will not sleep alone.... And so, with glasses held high, I give a toast. "Here's to love... to never living in the absence of it. To never knowing a lack of hope. To courage... to tears shed... to empty ring fingers and sleeping alone. Life as we know it may cease to be. But here's to running to His strength."