Monday, December 29, 2008


I dont think about this very often.

But when I do, the thoughts pester me and will not leave me alone.

Even as I write this, I want to find a way to disable comments. Positive or negative. Because what you think is not why I write this down... Use my thoughts as a catalyst for your own. Because none of us will ever get it fully right. Not in this life. Agreeing, now perhaps, is not the point. Neither is accuracy.

I write this down because of it is part of my process.

Predestination or free will?

The question is the cause and source of many angry arguments and a lot of sleepless nights. A lot of worry and apathy stem from the profound questioning...

Do we have a choice? Or is our eternity already decided for us?


My thoughts on this were tilled, turned over, on Sunday when I read a passage in John. A beautiful passage about the vulnerability of Jesus. A passage that filled my heart until I stumbled across the verse that reads:

"This is why I told you no one can come to me unless the Father enables him."

In the same breath, declaring that He knew that those who left were going to do so.


I metaphorically stumbled.


Dang it.


It was all going so well, really. I was understanding it. The words were filling me.

That phrase felt like someone had taken a pin to my balloon. Pulled the drain from the tub.

I don't like things I don't understand.

And I didn't understand this.


So I wrote my mother about it. Knowing she would give me another answer, a deeply profound and educated answer, that I would not understand. But sometimes the answers are found simply in the gesture of asking. Of laying said dilemma on the table and looking at it... until it begins to look different.

Sometimes. Not all the time.

But true in this case.


And this is simply my opinion. There is no theological or philosophical or historical substance here. That's not how I process, not how I operate.

This is my opinion, based and formed on how I feel. On my personal relationship with Jesus. On the world as a story. A love story.

And I wonder just how simply I can express all of this.

Because it is a simple story.


Maybe, just maybe, we are all predestined to love Jesus.


When the world was first created, when God first created Adam, he was created for the sheer purpose of pure community and companionship with God.

There was no question of control or who was Leader and who was Follower.

It was the way it was.

How it was meant to be.


But love is not true love if it is preprogrammed.


And God wanted us to love Him the way He loves us.

So He gave us a choice.

A choice to stay or go. A choice to love or leave.

And we left.

We turned our backs and left a brokenhearted Creator in a garden that was meant for more than one.

Like a house, only a shell without its family.


This is when our issues of control set in.

Because very quickly, sinful nature took over. Discoloring, souring the pure hearts we were born with. The righteous souls we were intended to have.

Because the selfless act of relinquishing control is not something sinners can possibly do on their own.


And the Creator found a way to restore the plan.

He knew (for He had in fact created the hearts of men) that a piece of who they were meant to be had survived.

This meant there was still hope.

For a love story.


Because we were created to love Jesus.

There is eternity set in all our hearts (ecc 3:11), whether we understand its source or purpose.


So because of our sinful nature, we must seek out the Father. In our shortcomings, where we fail, we must go to Him. And He will enable us to hear. To see. To fall in love.

And like my daddy used to say, "we should never be afraid to ask".


So Jesus turns to those who have remained.

"You don't want to leave too, do you?"

Because real love is not forced.

Maybe Jesus knew the answer.

But He did not cause Peter to stay.


We are all predestined to love Jesus.

You see, in our free will, we have turned the world on her head.

We have walked away from our divine purpose, our design.

In a way, we have defied our own hearts.


But Jesus is our second chance at a love story.

Our second chance to be with the Creator again in the garden.

To see broken hearts healed.

Because love is a choice.

The Creator of love made it to be so.


And there's something about choosing to do what you were created to do...


I stopped here.

Because I am no theologian.

And certainly no scholar.

I have not combed through the Bible and tried to understand every context or conjugation or historical application.

But I have found a truth that resonates with my heart...

on a subject I think matters very little.

A subject I may never bring up again.

Because we might all agree that we are called to love the Father and take care of His children.


Real love is a choice.

And my heart could act no more naturally.

I feel I was created for it.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

sand in my hands

I have been waiting.

I am still waiting.

I have nothing more important to say than, I want this ambition to remain.

In my mind right now are hundreds are thoughts. Goals. Realistic ones. Lofty ones.

I know who I am.

Is that rare?

No, I don't think so.

I think we all know who we are.

I think most of us don't know how to be who we are.

Or, perhaps, don't like who we are.

I know who I am.

And I think I know what the next step is.

But motivation, ambition, dedication seem to be like dry sand in my hands.

I get a big handful.

And it starts to sift through my fingers. I lose it. Am left with little more than I started with...

I am tired of that.

I am tired of a lot of things.

But today, the sun is shining. And I drove with the windows down. My hair is tangled from the wind.

And I have hope that I am known. That what is inside might be able to make its way out.

You who walk beside me must help me...

it's the only way I'll make it.

Remind me. Do not let me fall stagnant. Working forty hours and running on a treadmill and waking up to an alarm clock. Don't let me accept all of this as "normal".

This life is extraordinary.

And I want to hold it in my hands long enough to see it.

Only Happy In the Sun

I want to tell you a story.

But I don't even know where to begin.

December has sent me spiraling into something that can only be called the winter blues.

I am craving sunlight. A warm breeze. Keens and a muddy trails. Sunburnt shoulders and lungs filled with fresh air.

Am I only happy in the sun?

I wish my "happiness" were not so conditional.

But here I am, holed up in darkness, because the sun has gone into hiding at an early hour.

And it is cold.

Along with cold sometimes comes bitterness.

And in the bitter cold, we find ourselves lonely.

Without the warmth of company.


Seasonal Affective Disorder.

They've given it a name.

They always give it a name.

I have given it a different name.

Diagnosed myself with separation anxiety.


Separation from creation.

From purity.

From quiet.

From the peace I've grown to find in the stillness, the bigness, of nature.

When did I become such a person?


I like this about myself.


But along with all this ice and snow and chill comes a sense of dread. Avoidance.

I seem to have lost the ability to see beauty in this season.

And that is dangerous.

Because this is a long season.


And while my heart waits for the season of singing, and I am most myself on a warm spring afternoon with bare shoulders and feet, I must remember God is here too.


Winter has frozen my words.

I have a story to tell you...

about a wedding. About loving for a hundred years. About loving the whole world. About faces as canvases. About falling in love with family. About exceeding expectations. About dancing.

But I'm all hung up on the fact that I want to lay in the grass in the sun.

So when I get over that, when this long December is over, I will find my words unthawed.

And tell you about it all...

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Each year we would put up the Christmas tree and listen to Kathy Mattea and argue about which ornaments should go where.

It was a method. Nice ornaments on top of the tree. Less important ones at the bottom where the dogs could reach. Our least favorites in the back against the wall. Fill the holes. Spread out the branches. Find a tree-topper. Turn off the lights. Go out onto the porch. Admire. In that order. Every year.


Cinnamon rolls.

Wake up too early. Force Dad out of bed. Wait for him to get out of the bathroom.

Wait some more.

He would pad into the living room in his socks.

I remember one Christmas waking up to presents piled up to the mantelpiece.

And we would take turns opening presents until they were all gone.

Then we would pile up our stuff, take it all to our respective rooms, and then fight for the showers and hot water.

Dad would warm up the car.

And we would always take the long way to Severn Way. Dressed in new clothes. Sitting in the middle and back seats of the van, cringing at Dad's choice of music.


The house at Severn would be full. With boys that weren't usually there. An uncle who knew exactly where to tickle and a beautiful aunt with lots of questions.

We would guess how long it would take Marty to show up.

And roll up our sleeves to make sausage balls and cheese balls. Enough food to feed an army. No nuts for Carter. Rationed caffeine and chocolate.

Adult conversations we couldn't be a part of.

Two tables set. Little salt and pepper shakers. Unnecessary butter knives.

Steaks grilled in the snow.

Piano playing.

Oh, piano playing.

As the years would pass, more players begin to develop in our family. We would sit in the kitchen and listen, guessing which boy was at the keys. You knew not to interrupt or to make too much noise or they would stop.

And we never wanted them to stop.


Presents would be opened. Hugs and kisses. The boys would open their gifts and start playing immediately, but the four of us would have to wait. Wait until we got home so we didn't lose pieces, Dad always said.

We would eat dinner.

And feel sleepy.

Some years we would watch the snow fall outside.

One year it stormed. Thunder and lightening on Christmas.


Then Dad would put his hand on our shoulders and squeeze. Or clap his hands. " About time to head out" meant time to go now...

We would pile back into the van. Pack the presents in.

I would fall asleep on the drive home. Warmed by the heater, lulled by the sound of grown up whispering and the distinct, deep voice on NPR.

And we would be home.

Christmas would be over.


I wouldn't get it until much later.

Get why we cried on Christmas.

Why, when the van pulled up in front of the Long Avenue house, tears would begin to pool.

Why organizing all my new stuff and crawling into bed would make me want to cry.

We call them the Christmas blues.

They're hereditary.


Christmas is nineteen days away.

I haven't bought a single gift.

Put up a single light.

Decorated a single tree.

But it is snowing this morning and I have a strange itch to try my hand at an apple stack cake.

To thieve a Kathy Mattea album from my mother and put in the Charlie Brown VHS.


The presents will not be stacked up to the mantel this year.

This year, there will be no forcing Dad out of bed. No arguing about the holes in the Christmas tree. No fighting for hot water in showers.

This year it is different.

Because things change. And so does Christmas.

People grow up. And traditions change.


Last year, I opened a card and cried on Christmas. Not because of the blues. But because something suddenly made sense.

I like it when things make sense.

For the past two Christmases I have come home to my own house to spend Christmas night. And Christmas has spread further than biological family to spiritual brothers and sisters. Christmas would not be Christmas without them, the new family.


This year I will wake up in my own bed on Christmas morning and put a few homemade and thrift store gifts for my beautiful family in my little corolla and drive to Winchester.

Find my sisters and my mother and our Steve at the Long Avenue house. Cinnamon rolls and all.

And then find myself at Severn Way. Sadly, with a few less boys. But a new beautiful aunt to spend Christmas with. And a new beautiful set of fingers to play the piano (a girl this time... we're making progress).

I hope to spend time with my dad and our Emily and three beautiful, little girls.

I am scheming.

Planning to conjure some Christmas magic.

Because magic has nothing to do with Santa Claus.


Christmastime is magical.

And no matter how much we loathe consumerism, commercialism (or any "ism" so often tacked onto the season of Advent), you cannot deny it.

In the twinkling lights and the horse drawn carriages and the soft, white snow. In sledding and days off of work and childrens' giggles. In Christmas love and mistletoe. In Christmas movies and snow angels and ice skating.


Now, while your children are still young, teach them that Christmas is not about presents stacked up to the mantelpiece.

But about making it make sense.

The ultimate gift of a Divine life.

Christmas is about awe.

And simplicity.

The revolution is found, clearly, in Charlie Brown's story.

About making broken things beautiful.

Christmas is about that.


It is that truth that makes the changes bearable.


So whether you choose to conspire, to anticipate, to participate...

make this Christmas make sense.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Connect the Dots

Our lives seem to be spent running around in chaos.

Sometimes unorganized.

Occasionally unmotivated.

Often indecisive.

We wake up each morning feeling as though the only constant is that things continue to change.

Big events send us reeling.

Or it takes ten seconds, twenty years, or three points to send us head over heels.


Most of us are at some point of uncertainty in our lives.

(Some of you are not. And you are dancing for it... in the newness and beauty of security and love. Keep dancing. It is a beautiful dance and you have earned it.)

But for those of us who are uncertain: we are dancing too.

For hope.

And love.

And to scare fear away.

We dance for cleansing rain.

And in the holy wind.


We have been told, as Christians, we will experience suffering.

I've come to understand that. And also to understand the the suffering we experience is always different. Comes in disguises and in moments we'd never expect.

But suffering is not something we should seek.

Or desire.

The pursuit of suffering leads to an identity cemented in pain, in martyrdom for martyrdom's sake.


I want you to tell me how bad it is.

That it hurts.

And it's hard.

But that it is worth it, and you'll make it because of God's grace.


As Christians we should be known for our love and be marked by our joy.

In us, others should perceive a peace that is unexplainable.

Peace, not somberness.


We should laugh.

And have others ask why we are able to.

Our answer will be the same, then.

That it is hard, but God is good.


So when times like these come and I am perched precariously on point "B", lifting my telescope to my eye in search of point "C", I am reminded of this.

That down to my core, I believe everything happens for a reason.

And that people are worth fighting for.

That we are called not to wish for peace, but to work for it, to work towards it.

That when I focus my telescope, I see my Father's Kingdom coming to earth.


Then one day I will look back from point Z and see all the points I crossed before.

And there will be a beautiful picture... a story...

Of laughter and dancing and danger and heroes and heartbreak and joy.

Because all the dots will have connected.

Then it will all make sense.

Adaptation to Touch

Close your eyes.

Hold your hand out.

You know I just put something in your hand. Resting safely in your palm.

Keep your eyes closed.

Time will pass.

And you will forget.

You will not feel the sensation of the object on your skin. You'll become adjusted to the weight. To the texture. To the temperature.

Now I take that object away.

But you don't notice.

It, whatever "it" is, has been there so long, your body doesn't notice its absence.


May you not adapt to His touch.

May you find yourself ever aware of the way He shows Himself to us....

the way our Father sings, smells, dances, whispers, bellows....

And if perhaps, one day He pulls away for a moment, I pray you would be acutely aware of His leaving.

Call His name.

He will return.

Too large to fit in your palm.

So light He is carried on the wind.


Monday, November 24, 2008


My arms are not long enough to wrap around it all...

But I need to pull it close. All of it.

And then look at it, assess it, count it. Organize it. File. Color code. Label.

Whatever it might take to understand.

I would sit on the floor, legs crossed, with a cup of coffee and I would put it all together like a puzzle.

Because, today, I am having a hard time seeing.

Not just the big picture.

I know better than to think I would ever get a good look at that....

Simply, a pattern.

A rhythm.

Perhaps, dare I even dream....


Specific purpose.

Because, you see, "broad" is not working for me.

General ideas just don't cut it anymore.

I am cursed by cynicism.

When did I lose the childlike quality of being a dreamer?

I wonder when my aspirations became tied down with logistics...

like a balloon tied to a bag of rocks.

The dreams are there. Believe me. My mind is boggled with them.

In my head, I am bold.

When I'm driving down the road, windshield wipers smacking, headlights beaming -

I am brave then.

And I am capable of anything. Anything and everything.

I am a problem solver. I like steps. Recipes. Directions. How-to guides.

Vague does not work well for me...

And when an area of gray presents itself, I balk. Cower a little bit, crawl back in my shell.

The world, after all, is a big scary place.

I am just a woman. One woman.

I am weak. And not that smart.

And I have absolutely no clue what is going on.

So days like these, I wish I could wrap my arms around all my ideas and dreams and talents and obligations and deadlines and bills and every aspect of my hectic schedule.

Just to try and make sense of it all.

Because in the back of my head...

or the forefront of my heart...

in the recesses, the secret places, of myself...

I know a truth.

How to find answers.

I know the cause of some of my confusion is physical clutter.

I know most of it is emotional clutter.

There's a dam holding in all my tears.

I have words that are bottled up that I desperately want to share with you.

And mostly?

I have a seven hour car ride scheduled on Friday. My first road trip by myself.

And I wonder if the Father will meet me there... in the solitude.

On the long stretch of highway.

Because I have some questions.

And I want Him to untie the rocks from my balloon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two Stories

What happens when your life suddenly turns in a direction you never would have expected?

When a single thought acts as a rudder and you feel the body, the heart, the soul, turning around... facing a new direction, a new future?

When you explore new options, embrace new ideas, accept new truths.

There is always an issue of courage. Do you have the courage to take that step? To remain standing? To extend your arms in love? To walk away? To forgive?

We are all part of a story... a big story and a small story.

There is the small story. Of who we are, what we do, who we love, where we live, how we live, what we accomplish... how we fail.

This is the story so many of us get caught up in.

And we forget about the big story. The intertwining, woven pattern of a plan. A single plan. To bring children home. To save the lost, to heal the sick, the comfort the hurting. A divine plan to wrap divine arms around a precious world and draw them all close.

We figure out how to live the small story well, when we learn out part in the big one. How what we do connects to what our neighbor does, what the child in Cambodia does, what the missionary in Guatemala does.

Our hearts know these stories. Both the big and the small. And every once in a while, when caught up in our small story, we feel a stirring. We are reminded of a divine connection. A righteous thread that links us all. And sometimes we act on that. The stirring in our souls, the echo of eternity that has embedded itself in our hearts.

It is because of the big story that He knows what plans He has for us.

It is because of the big story that when I am alone and completely confused that I know there's a purpose... that this is just a step, connected to another and another, which will one day make sense.

And when I am wrapped up in who I think I am... who I think I should be... I feel that stirring. And I am reminded of who He created me to be. And I marvel at how it has taken me so long to meet this woman. Now I notice what causes me to cry, what causes my heart inside my ribs to swell.

There are two stories.

The small one is important.

The big one is made up of all the small ones.

Every single small one is an important part.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Time is moving by so quickly.

Most days go by in a blur and I cannot account for them. Same routine. Lack of inspiration.

Other days I am shaken awake. Reminded that there is more. That there are decisions to be made. Art to be created. My body aches for laughter and my hand wants to be held. I become aware, painfully aware, of all that rests on my next few moves.

And how little control I have over it all.

My options are laid out on the table.

I feel like I should play like the apostles and throw dice, draw straws, flip a coin. Leave any and every huge decision up to Divine Intervention. Fate. Chance. I don't want to be responsible for messing it all up... for choosing poorly, for making a bad move.

There are a few things that have been a part of my soul since my early high school years.

And the moment of truth is approaching. There are deadlines and applications and plans to make.

What I thought I was sure of, I no longer am. What I am certain of, seems to have crumbled in my hands. What was secure has loosened and weakened.

I am in a state of transition.

In Death Cab's world of Plans. Shedding skin, seeking a place where soul meets body. Where I reassure myself, some day I will be loved. But these days my heart feels like an empty room...

An empty room that is ready to be filled.

I tend to see my world in "either/ors" and "if/thens". Either I do this, or that. If I don't do it this way, then....

I give myself two options.

The red or the blue.

The black or the white.

Here or there.

New or old.

Safe or daring.

But in this world, there are rarely only two options.

And my Father has given me a creative mind. A problem-solving mind. It would be a sin not to use it until depletion...

Alan Cohen said,"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power."

There is so much wisdom in that.

Something has to change.

The cards are out on the table... it's time to play a matching game. Who I want to be with what I want to do. How I will achieve it with the amount of energy I will need to expend. My creative sweat and tears mixed in a salty cocktail with hard work and perseverance.

And the greatest truth I have to learn is that I don't have to figure it out immediately. Or, better yet, what I figure out may not last forever.


Back a few months ago, I was listening to the radio and the DJ announced that city council was meeting one last time to debate the destruction of a historic block of buildings on Main Street. In the place of the buildings, someone would build a huge hotel. Having heard of this development for months already, I was disgusted. But a spark of hope ignited in my heart at hearing the block was receiving a second chance. One last time, the existence of the brick buildings would be contemplated, weighed, analyzed.

And my mind went racing. As it always does.

I had a vision.

Of every church in Lexington joining hands.

Buying a block of historic buildings in the heart of the city.

Renovating. Pooling money, time, and resources so that no one church knew whether they owned a nail or a doorknob.

Renovating into a coffee shop. A tutoring center. A music venue. Small efficiency apartments. A soup kitchen. A youth center. Run by volunteers. Decorated by amateur artists. Filled with the youth of the city. A safe place. A place it would be permissible and acceptable to be yourself, to express yourself, to play... without fear or reservation.

Redemption Block.

A place, a structure, taken to the very brink of destruction. Brought back to glorify the Lord. Redeemed.

Just about two months ago, the block of historic buildings was torn down.

And in a while, a prestigious hotel and shoppes and restaurants will rise up on Main Street. Overshadowing a park where, tonight, men will sleep on benches.


I haven't considered this idea since.


Last night I sat on Kat's front porch, bare feet cold in the October night air. Emily, Kat, and I were laughing and taking pictures. We all looked up when we heard voices, hollering and laughing, and then saw five little bodies racing toward us with arms outstretched.

Five little boys came barreling towards us, wanting to get in the picture.

Wanting some attention.

They sat down on the porch and didn't leave for half an hour.

Wrapping their arms around our shoulders. Arguing about who could beat up whom, whose brothers were still in Africa or in jail, which one of them were still virgins. They danced on our sidewalk. Tried to guess our ages. Told us tall tales of running from the cops and how they don't hit girls.

The youngest was twelve.

The oldest was maybe sixteen. A quiet boy with his hood pulled over his head. From Liberia.

When they started getting too rowdy, we sent them home. Home. A twenty minute walk down High Street. Past the pretty fountains and the high-end hotel, past the last Starbucks. We could hear them jumping around a yelling for a while.

Five little boys who knew far too much about the world and its harsh realities... heading towards home in the dark.

And Kat, Emily, and I just sat on the porch. Wondering, really, what had just happened.

Broken hearted.

And I heard it.

How He wants to redeem His children.

And I remembered.


I have a lot of decisions to make. A lot of problems to solve.

And I may never see such redemption in this city. But I am praying for it.

I've felt a tug.

I've been reminded.

That there are more options.

That what I do now, may not be what I spend the rest of my life doing.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Long Avenue

I am winding up day five.

Day five of one of the strangest weeks of my life.

Not strange in a bad way.

Not strange in a way that makes me want it to end.



Not familiar.

Since Sunday night I have been living and sleeping in Winchester. In the house I grew up in. With my two littlest sisters, three dogs, and my mother's car.

I have not spent more than two nights here on Long Avenue since I moved out almost two and a half years ago.

All kinds of people have all kinds of definitions of home.

It's where your heart is.

Or your bed.

Or where you send your mail.

I have never had an emotional attachment to a house. Or an address. We moved too often as children for me to become attached to any house we lived in.

It's not about the house.

It's about what changes.

Since Sunday night I have been noticing little things. Things that stay the same. Things I remember. Things that are new. I find myself asking questions. Forgetting where we keep the measuring cups, but remembering how you have to lift and push the cabinet door under the sink to get it to close. Like how to pull just right into the driveway so you're not in the street, but you don't take out the front porch.

I remember to duck my head when going down the stairs. And how tricky it is to shave your legs in our shower stall.

One thing I have yet to get over after five days is the strange dog who lives here.


A black puppy Olivia found in the library parking lot last summer. She named him promptly, definitely. He became a member of the Long Avenue household. But that was not my household anymore.

So I come in and there is Molly. Sweet, old Molly. She can't hear anymore. She has cataracts and still howls and whines like a banshee. Then there's Zoe. She's fat now. But still the same 3 and 1/2 week old puppy I held on my chest and fed around the clock years ago. My puppies. Familiar, hairy faces. Then here comes Henry. Galloping through the house, pawing at me like he wants a handshake. He wants to be my friend. And I want to be his.

But he's a stranger in my house.

Or... I'm a stranger in his. Either way. We step on each other's toes. And he hasn't learned that I'm the boss around here.

Probably because I'm not.

There used to be a huge recliner in the middle of the living room floor. It's gone now. I remember when it was moved--coming home to a room that suddenly was strange, suddenly was unfamiliar. Not in a bad way.

Much the same as how I've felt this week.

What you remember is not the same.

What you remember has changed. As will all things.

The back porch is where I used to get my hair cut, late on summer nights, and a boy... who is now gone... told me I was pretty.

The driveway where my first love kissed me for the first time.

I sit here now, listening to the piano music from the "good" room. But it is not Dad's fingers on the keys. They are hers... and she has a different sound, a different music coming from her fingertips.

Dinner is cooking. Piano music is playing. It is fall and the sky is dark outside the kitchen window. Things are the same.

And entirely different.

Staying here on Long Avenue this week made me think. A lot.

About where home is.

About how there are some things I'll never forget.

And while Long Avenue is not my home anymore, the little girls (who are not so little anymore) who sleep here are.

And no matter how old I get, I will remember how to make a chocolate chip pie.

And even when I almost burn the house down when boiling rice, I will know which doors to open to make all the smoke go away.

And whether I am in my own bed or lying on a king sized mattress on the living room floor, when I roll over and see her sleeping beside me because she doesn't want to sleep alone tonight, I will find myself at home.

Because home is not a place.

It's a state, a peace, of mind.

Sunday I will leave Winchester and home will follow me to a little apartment near the projects in Lexington. To a cat who likes to follow me to the bathroom. And a neighbor who plays their music too loud. And I will know how far to turn the sink knobs to get the water just hot enough. Or how to tilt the stereo to make it play a CD.

May you find home tonight. Wherever you are. May you feel that peace that settles in behind your ribs and the softness in your temples...

And carry it with you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cling and Clatter

It was quiet there.

So quiet, you could hear people approaching before you could see them.

You could hear the wind blow.

I swear I heard the sun dipping into the horizon.

This is why we go.

Because the white noise is wiped out. The volume of the urban city is turned off.

We are deafened by the silence.

I fell asleep on the front porch, feet propped up, letting the sun bathe my face and my legs.

Time didn't matter.

There wasn't a clock to be found in the cabin.

We woke with the sun and wound down as it set.

We ate when we were hungry.

No rushing.

Just skin.

And sweat.

Mud and grass.

We walked away with dirt on our hands and fresh bruises.

Lying by the fire the first night, no fluorescent lights drowning the stars, I watched as one shot across the sky.

And I was reminded of how all the stars are numbered.

I like to think they each have a name.

Time was standing still.

The hands of watches were rotating and no one noticed.

Our attention was captivated by the licking flames and falling stars, by roasting the perfect marshmallow, listening to howling coyotes.

Yesterday, my life returned to punching the clock and measuring days by hours and schedules.

And I want to return to the cabin.

Away from all the cling and clatter.

Listen to Ian's sunrise song.

Still, somewhere in this city, I believe I will find my peace.

Somewhere, is my hope.

My self. Carried on the wind.

I must whisper to be heard.

Stand perfectly still to be seen.

And when the chaotic world sends me spinning...

I will spread my arms wide.

Let my face lift towards the sky.

I know...

This too shall be made right.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Bucket List

My bucket list...

Build a very big snowman.
Teach someone something.
Learn to blow glass.
Chase a storm.
White water raft.
See a whale.
Sleep on the beach.
Give something away.
Find home.
See the Northern Lights.
Laugh. A lot.
Open a coffee shop.
Spend the rest of my life with one man.
Raise a big family.
Go overseas.
Ride a camel.
And an elephant.
Tell a story.
Be willing.
Sheer a sheep.
Run a race of any length.
Have an answer.
Be bold.
Buy a little black dress.
Excel at one thing.
Cut down my own Christmas tree.
Go to a movie by myself.
Be good at one sport.
Grow a garden.
See wild horses.
Learn a second language.
Spend time working as a bartender.
Finish school with a degree.
Take a ride on a sailboat.
Not be afraid of the mirror.
Or what people think about me.
Ride a train.
Make people feel special.
Make sure my sisters know how beautiful they are.

This 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.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Our prayer lately has been that we would come broken before the Father.

That we would remember that it is not about us, but about bringing Him glory.

That above all else, we'd seek His will, His plan.

But the more I think about it, I feel as though I've approached the throne room, chipped and cracked.

A battered version of myself.

Suffering some minor disfiguration. Some long, shallow cracks that do not penetrate the surface.

I am proud.

I've tried to disguise it, just as most of us do. And I've approached the Father saying, "here I am! Broken and humbled." But the vessel of myself is still in one piece. Still carrying my pride, my sense of self, my reservations.

Tonight I feel as if He's calling us to be not only broken... not to just come to Him in bad shape... but to come to Him shattered.

Come to Him with palms outstretched, holding the pieces of ourselves, dashed to shards. Unrecognizable. Indistinguishable. An unworthy vessel, unable to hold on to that which separates us from the Holy One.

"Here are the pieces of me," I say.

"I don't know how to put them back together again."

"Put me back together again. Make me resemble you. Turn what I've destroyed into a work of completion."

But when we are shattered and we bring the pieces to the Father, we must bring the pride too.

Like the woman with the alabaster jar.

Who brought herself and shattered herself at His feet and poured all she had before Him.

"Here are the pieces of me... make me whole."

And He will throw our pride, our mess, our intentions, our selfishness as far as the east is to the west...

I imagine a pleased Lord writing everything down. I am standing, watching, ashamed. Only to stare in disbelief as He grins (pleased with Himself, very much like a child) and folds the paper into an airplane. Reaches back with a mighty shoulder and lets the paper, with all our shortcomings, all our inadequacies, fly away... fly away to seek the point where west becomes east. Never to find it.

Or a Father gathering our pieces in His callused hands.

"See? I love you even when you look like this..."

We must come to Him shattered.

Friday, September 19, 2008


This has been one heck of a week.

Most days I've felt as though I were treading water. Not making any progress. Just wearing myself out in one spot. This groove I've hollowed out for myself is no longer comfortable... too deep, too wide, and I need to get out. To scream and hear my own voice echo, to run and see the world fly by, to grow wings and rise higher and higher - gain perspective and vision.

Tonight was no different.

Until I went out with my family. With my little sister who is learning how to smile and my third sister who is dealing with her fifteenth year with much more grace than I did.

Over chips and salsa and music, things changed. As they do every time we get together. A new layer of our family is pulled back, a new dimension to our relationships is built. Between life lessons and compliments in Spanish... I left the dinner table better than I had come to it.

But unlike normal, the night was not over.

The Festival Latina is in town this weekend.

Streets have been blocked off.

Music is blaring.

The courthouse property smells like beer and cigars.

I can only understand a few of the words spoken around me.

And unlike normal, I slipped into a comfortable state of being.

As if I was lulled by the quick words of the people around me, the words I didn't understand. Mesmerized by what I learned from facial expressions and hand gestures. Entranced by the fireworks display that almost trumped the Fourth of July.

At one point during the fireworks display, we looked over to one of Lexington's tall buildings.

The windows were dark.

What was inside did not matter.

The dark panes of glass suddenly came to life, reflecting the fireworks exploding in the sky.

Over and over again the windows would fall dark and then illuminate again with purples and reds and then shudder when the fireworks popped and boomed.

And I thought to myself how the church should be like those windows.

How it is not what we are that is awesome. Or great.

We are only dark windows.

Made to reflect His light.

Made to shudder in His presence.

To draw people's attention to the awesome display of glory and light that He is...

That is our purpose.

To be a reflection of what is good and awesome about our Father.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


There's a story to be told here.

A sequence in a movie where the music is loud and the scenes flash by quickly...

Most of the time I feel like I am grappling for the wind.

I just want to hold it in my hands.

I am so restless today.

Nothing is wrong.

But I get the sense that an idea, my purpose, a great awakening is leading me on a chase...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Love Letter

I live for the weekends.

Not for some reasons you might think.

Not because I don't have to work.

Or because of bars and clubs and late nights.


Because of my family.

Because of nights like last night.

At the end of twenty-four hours devoted to talking to Jesus...

we gathered.

Breaking bread.

Or... cutting mushrooms and rolling out pizza dough.

And we ate together.

And gathered around a precious brother who will soon leave us for a whole year.

And I sat back and watched as the sun set and eight brothers and sisters danced in the streets until twilight.

I know I will never forget these years.

Or these people who have been my dearest friends, my closest loves, my family for the past twelve months.

So often relationships spin their wheels - splattering mud but never gaining ground.

But we have been blessed.

And our Father is blessing us with more.

As new family members join, I am amazed at their confusion.

"Family? I'm family? But I've only hung out with you all a few times..." And we just shrug.

We fall in love easily around here.

I thank God every day for the brothers I always wanted but never had. The men I see growing into men after God's own heart. The handsome men I'm proud to call my family - the character I see building. The ways they make me laugh, feel safe, and protected...

And I laugh, knowing that it was always God's intention for the women in my life to outnumber the men. I already have three wonderful sisters. But the Father has added almost a dozen more. Women I admire, who I love with all my heart. Women I dance with and joke with and stretch with (spiritually and physically).

I live for the weekends because that is when I see these people.

This is when I feel whole.

When I feel loved.

And when I am in my forties, or in my sixties, I will remember. And hopefully still be experiencing the love of these children of God.

Words will never be adequate.

But this is my love letter to you... my brothers and sisters.

You have stolen my heart.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


The word equilibrium has been finding me everywhere I turn.

In uncle's blogs and anatomy books and Sunday morning messages.

This morning at Southland, Jon was talking about community. About how by not living in community, we are denying our purpose. We are denying the purpose we were created for.

Shalom. We all have heard this word - the greeting. We know it as meaning "peace be with you" or "go in peace".

Jon unpacked this Hebrew word this morning. We translate it in english as one of those two phrases. But translated literally, it means "equilibrium". A balance. Nothing missing. Nothing broken.

We, the church, are an "outpost of the kingdom of heaven". The force that restores balance. There is peace in heaven. There is peace found in our Father. If we are called to bring heaven to earth, and are created in His image, this is our calling.

I was sitting in church, thinking about this. Thinking about what happens when our equilibrium is thrown off.


Faster and faster.

And something makes us stop.

And we fall over.


Nothing makes sense. We lose our direction. We lose our bearings.

As the church, we are called to take the shoulders of the dizzy, hold the faces of the disoriented. Calm their spinning worlds. Bring the pieces back together in acts of restoration.

Until the fluid in our spiritual ears is brought back to balance.

How often do we find ourselves without shalom?

Without peace. In a broken place. Dizzy and wobbling, wishing the world wouldn't spin so fast.

Shalom. Shalom.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


I do believe I gave myself until Saturday to shed these tears.

But they did not come until this morning.

I got to service at Southland and sat down to listen to a sermon about Worship.

Everything was fine. I sat in the chair watching all the people around me. The babies and the couples and the groups of friends. This morning I could pick the freshmen out of the crowd... and my eyes kept searching for someone familiar.

No one in particular. Maybe someone I didn't even know. Just someone familiar. Am I the only one who does that? The one that feels lonely in a crowd. Even a crowd whose arms are as widely outstretched as the family of Southland? I have a sneaking suspicion all I'd have to do is reach out once ... that would be all it would take.

But most days I don't have that courage.

The couple who sat in front of me caught my eye. She was cute and curvy with beautiful curly hair and a sweet face. He adored her. BIg tall strong man, reaching out to touch her shoulder whenever he could.

And I felt a twinge of jealousy. I pushed it away. It was unwarranted, unnecessary. I replaced it with a certain joy for the couple... a silent prayer that he would continue to touch her that way. That she would continue to smile.

The sermon, to a certain extent, wasn't anything extraordinary. Worship, in the greek, comes from a word that means "to kiss towards" or "to bow down before". It is not about singing. Or whether there are drums on the stage or hymnals in the pews.

Jon started talking, then, about what we do with our hands when we worship.

He made jokes and drew comparisons and explanations.

Then he got to how we raise our hands high, palms outstretched.

And he said...

"This is my little girl when she's tired and needs to know that it is safe to go to sleep."

"Or my son when we falls off the bike and scrapes his knee. It's real pain. But he needs to know that there is someone bigger than himself to make it better."

And the tears came.


Out of nowhere.

I thought about my sister as a baby who used to stand with her arms outstretched, scrunching her fingers. "Uppy", she would said. She wanted to be picked up. To be held.

Usually I am able to control my tears. They stay fairly under my control, just sliding down my cheeks, making my eyes glisten. Most of the time I stay fairly composed.

But they got to my lungs this time.

And rolled down my neck.

And fell on my lips.

I sniffled, but otherwise remained silent. Face soaked and shoulders shaking.

I don't really know why. And even as I write this I feel them coming back... pushing at my eyelids and my throat. They are not spent yet. They'll come again.

I prayed. Or... groaned, hoping the holy spirit would pray for me. So often my words fall short of anything coherent. Sentences refuse to form and my mind hits a wall, and I know the words I know are not enough. So I say I'm sorry and rest in the fact that the Lord knows my heart... and knows what I'm trying to say. Even when I can't.

When we were done praying I raised up to find the sweet girl in front of me reaching over the chair to hand me two tissues.

Part of me was mortified.

I had forgotten I was surrounded by hundreds of people.

Forgotten they could see me.

But she didn't say a word.

She didn't look at me like I was crazy. Or ask to lay hands on me or even ask if I was okay.


She did exactly what she needed to do.

She gave me something I needed.

In the midst of feeling lonely and overwhelmed and far too small...

God reminded me that I could be seen.

So I used one tissue and tucked the other one in my Bible.

And I plan to keep it there.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Biggest

I am sitting here in the library.

A library that is unfamiliar to me. There are no librarians I know. I can't find any of the books I need... there are no familiar faces.

This has been one of those weeks.

I give it until Saturday morning before I start crying. But I feel it building up. I'll try and warn you before the tears start. But I'm not making any promises.

This is one of the prices you pay for being the oldest. It's no one's fault. Nothing was necessarily done wrong. This is just what happens. You don't know the best way. The most efficient way. Things have changed and every day that passes, people who do their jobs well are harder and harder to find.

I am twenty years old. Living on my own for twenty-five months. Three addresses in... I have a pet and a car and a full-time job, which I've had for three years. I've been in school since January of 2006. I have an Associates Degree and a few extra credit hours.

And I am spending my days getting paper cuts and opening the mail.

I have no plans.

I have no earthly idea what is going on.

Or even what to do next.

And between Tuesday and Wednesday of this week... the deal seemed to be sealed.

A letter came in the mail.

Letters in the mail are either a) really good, sweet things; or b) horrible things.

This time, it was in between. (Even now I understand that things could be SO much worse. This situation is really erring on the safe side, on the manageable side.)

I graduated in May and decided to cut back on some of my school hours. For five semesters now, I've been taking 5 classes and working full time. It was time to take a break. So I'm enrolled in one class and one lab.

4 credit hours. Anatomy. That class in and of itself is going to kick my butt.

Then I get this letter.

"Because you have dropped below official part-time student status (which is 6 hours), you will be required to being repayment of your Stafford Student Loans in 90 days."

I am two credit hours shy of being in the clear.


Rose, in the financial aid office, laughed at me.

The phone number the loan people gave me only sends me to a machine.

There are no real people anywhere to be found to understand my predicament.

So on November 2nd I will begin a ten year process of paying for two student loans that somehow accrued a stupid amount of money.

Money I had to use to pay for classes, for $200 parking tags, for $400 books.

And this time next year, unless a miracle happens, I'll be taking out more loans to finish a BS and MS degree at a real university... with hopes of becoming a nurse or an occupational therapist.

To make matters worse... I went and had a photo shoot with four of the most beautiful kids I've seen in a very long time. After the first roll of film, my camera decides to break.

The diagnosis? Another couple of hundred and three months to fix it.... because "they" (once again, the invisible them who rule the world) don't make film cameras anymore.

On top of all the other evil in this world... we are losing an art form to boot.

I'm being dramatic now. I realize this. I also realize that nothing is ever as bad as it seems, and that someone always has it worse. And I'm worrying a few verses in my head like loose teeth.

"Do not be anxious about anything...."

"Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself...."

Or my favorite. "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to their life?"

How is it that I know this...

But I just don't remember.

I just don't really know.

One of my favorite men in the world wrote some similar words the other day. His advice echoes in my ears (take a deep breath and swim towards the light) and I'd give anything to be with him and my father (two of the most intelligent, endearing men I've ever known) in the Colorado Mountains. Not that in the valley all problems disappear.

But the sky is bigger.

And I need to be reminded that I am not the biggest.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sixth Semester

The summer is wrapping itself up.

I know this, because I can't walk through the store without being bombarded by school supplies and matching sheet sets and colorful laundry baskets.

Used to be, school would start back and schedules would change. For a few weeks, it would be hot and muggy outside and kids would come home in their polos and khakis and traffic would be jammed with big, yellow school buses.

I was never a part of that. We always waited until Labor Day weekend to start school back. And we did school in our pajamas. And we had plenty of fitted sheets and laundry baskets, thank you very much.

But now... the people I know who are going back to school are leaving town. They are getting their oil changed and are taking out loans and buying season football tickets. They are hanging parking passes from their rearview mirrors and buying thumbtacks and new toasters (which they really aren't allowed to have).

Now, the people I know are getting married.

Some are done with school, and all the end of summer means, is the workplace just doesn't make you sweat so badly.

I sat at church this morning waiting for the service to start. I am the queen of eavesdropping and people watching. I pinpointed which young adults were spending their last Sunday at home with their parents, and which would sport UK blue come fall. There was one guy who stood beside me, updating a few elderly people about his life on campus (out of state, I presumed). And even as I sat there, he announced he was engaged. Getting married next summer after his junior year was done. Everyone was bubbly and excited.

And as he walked away, the oldest of the group leaned forward and whispered, "he's just a boy!". Everyone nodded their heads in agreement. He was just a boy. But I saw the look of resignation on their faces. He was just a boy to them... but to the world, he was all grown up. And he had a life, another life, far away that he was excited to return to.

This morning we talked about prayer in service. At the end, Mike asked us all to start praying for each other. He got specific. Pray for marital troubles, for family dysfunction, for financial stress. And then he had anyone and everyone who was involved in the academic process (principals, teachers, admins, school bus drivers) to stand up. Then he smiled and asked students of all age and types to stand up. And he prayed over us.

And I started crying.

The kind of crying I do when I didn't know I needed to cry.

When I've successfully tricked myself to the point I am unaware of my fear... or my anxiety... or my dread.

You see, I go back to school again this year too.

But my school is five miles down the road.

And it is the same school I've been going to since I was seventeen years old. This is my third year... the second half of my third year. I got a degree back in May. And for reasons that I pray will add up in the end, I am going back in eight days.

There are people, I understand, who take much longer than this to get through school.

But I am afraid I have yet to make a difference in anyone's life in that place. That all I've managed to do is make a poor example of my Christ... stress myself to the point of tears... and try desperately hard, one more time, to fit in.

Fitting in is something I've never been able to do.

I can't wait to get out.

And I hate the fact that I have to go back for a few more credit hours. Stand in those lines again. Park in that parking lot. Use those bathrooms. Sit in those couches in that lobby where so many things have happened to me...

Even as I throw this pity party, there are faces that are pulled to mind. Faces I wouldn't trade for the world. People I've met because of that community college. Lessons I've learned inside those walls.

I guess that is one of the things about this life. Learning to see an experience for what it is... and learning when to move on.

It will be time for me to move on soon. To go to a university and finish a degree and support a football team. Buy sweatshirts in team colors that I will wear for years until they tatter... buy a decal for my back window. And one day, wear a cap and gown and graduate.

But for now, just like with my job, there is something else I have to do. And that is, as I start my sixth semester on the community college campus, to represent myself well. To be a light, no matter how dim my surroundings may be. To study hard, to laugh harder. To befriend and learn and cherish these last few months when I actually know what I'm doing, where I'm going, and who is sitting in the next desk.

And on the day I walk away, I will walk away with the memories. Of Walt and Irene and Kip. Of Kat and Dwaine and Brittany. Of a thousand different languages floating through the cafeteria and the smell of Kati Dale's cigarette smoke on the patio.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Sehnsucht. “Akin to joy, sehnsucht was a wistful longing. A yearning like the itch of the soul." (Adelaide Piper, Beth Webb Hart)

This is why I read.

A dear friend (who is fairly new to the tumultuous world of creative writing) was experiencing what most call “writer’s block”. Nothing was being produced. The blank page stares at you, glowing, taunting, devouring whatever it is you write there… leaving you back at square one. I felt sorry for him and told him to go read.

It just so happens that writing is a lot like the rest of this life. Sometimes your resources get depleted. Your reservoir is emptied. And the only way to fix this problem – to tear down this inhibiting wall or refill the creative cistern – is to consume and absorb words that are not your own.

So he did.

And so did I.

By doing so (for once, taking my own advice) I stumbled upon a book based in the low country. A well-written book that, in the very last paragraph, managed to fill my reservoir to the brim.

Because I have an itch of the soul. I said this out loud while eating dinner at a local pub the other night and another close friend smiled playfully and asked if it was “the kind of itch you can’t reach?”

I laughed ruefully and said, as a matter of fact it was.

This, perhaps, is not such a bad thing.

It is this itch that drives us to action. It is an itch that keeps us up at night, staring at the clock.

It is an itch that requires you to change. To be courageous and bold. It is an itch that will humble you, reminding you that you have not done it all, nor will you ever. An itch that ignites a desire to be greater than you are. And as the Germans believe, it is a wistful longing “more desirable than any other satisfaction”.

The kind of itch a snake must feel before shedding its too-tight skin.

Or the itch that drives the butterfly from its cocoon.

An itch that pushes a chick out of its shell.

Friday, August 8, 2008

My Real Job

Today is Friday.
And I am tired.
Physically tired from yoga and tennis and spinning. My hips are speaking to me even as I sit here.
But the fatigue is mostly in my mind.

I had a very frustrating day. Or should I say, month or two. The office is wearing me thin. Mostly because it's an office. And I get bored. And lonely.

This week was kind of the last straw. Not enough of a last straw to make me quit... or even seriously contemplate quitting. But enough to get me pissed. And wear me out.

I've been full time since May. Finally, after three years, I know what I am doing. I know how to do what I do. And most of the time I'm able to do it right and do it well.

I started a new kind of job this week. Opening mail. Not the data entry I've been doing for years. But sorting, opening, scanning insurance and patients' checks and refunds and bills from collection agencies.

It sucks, basically. And I'm slow. And my eyes don't know what to look for quite yet. And I've been working overtime to make sure it gets done.

Overtime that my pay stub told me today I wasn't getting paid for.

So I got to work this morning... thanking God it was finally Friday.

My allergies had my head in a fog.

My muscles hurt.

And the kitchen was sagging in greasy food for a coworkers birthday.

Bad combo.

A few more things happened ... adding frustration and sadness to my plate.

Until everyone started noticing.

And they started telling me how much they appreciated me.

About what good work I did. How they didn't understand why I'd been given one of the most menial tasks on my side of the office. Why my "talent" was being wasted. I was the best they said.

That made me feel better.

But I still had to go back and sort the daggon mail.

And as I sat down... I remembered something.

Something about how we're supposed to do everything we do as if we are doing it for the Lord.

Even if that means sorting mail until we're blue in the face.

I may have convinced myself I want was superiority and authority at work... but it's a fat lie. I like to fly under the radar. To do what I do and do it well and right and then maybe a little more... and then go home and feel good about it. I don't want to be in charge. I just forgot that about myself for a while.

So my job is not so much sorting mail or making notes or cleaning up patient accounts or reminding Rita that military insurance uses socials as ID numbers.

It's about doing what they hand me.

And doing it well. And right the first time around. And then maybe doing a little more.

Because I'm doing it for the Lord.

And that's all there is to it.

This gives a whole new meaning to "doing God's work".

But I'm still unbelievably relieved that today is Friday and it is four in the afternoon and I have two and a half days to be myself.

It will just make Monday morning that much easier.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Through the Roof

We had heard he was here.
We had been waiting for him.
We all wanted to see him, to hear his voice, to be close to him.
But, especially, we wanted to bring the boy to him; the boy who could not move his legs.
So the four of us picked up the corners of the boy's mat and we went to where we knew Jesus was.
All we had to do was follow the crowd.
The sun shone bright and hot, and though the boy was light, he seemed a great burden as we went in search of the teacher.
We ran into the crowd long before we reached him. The mob encircled the house, packed together like cattle, hot and sweaty, their whispers rising like a great din.
We could hear nothing, see nothing.
But I knew he was there. All five of us knew. We were so close. But the crowd was impenetrable. Leaving, however, was not an option.
We were so close to him.
Perhaps I imagined it. But I think I could feel him. Where I could not see him, when I could not hear him... I felt something stir in my heart. To the point I recognized his presence. And could not turn away.
We pressed through the crowd with all our might. Some moved aside when they saw us bringing the boy who couldn't walk. Others didn't budge. I became aggravated with the people. For being so large in numbers, for being so healthy, for being so close to Jesus when I was so far away.
We made it as close as the front step. The boy looked up at me. "Can we get any closer?"
But there was no swaying the audience. A huge, unwavering body. But we were so close. And something stirred my soul, and I knew...
All we had to do was let Jesus see the boy. I had heard enough of this teacher to know that was enough.
Later, I would question what went through my mind at that moment, what it was that caused me to act.
Maybe it was courage.
Or desperation. Just as much for myself as for my friend - my friend who'd never been able to use his legs.
Today, still, I don't have the answer.
But the four of us - the ones with the strong, sturdy legs of young boys - climbed onto the roof of the house in which the teacher sat.
No one noticed us.
The man who owned the house did not come out, yelling and scolding for cutting into his roof. He didn't notice.
Because he was listening to Jesus too.
Finally we scrambled back down to the ground; backs were sore, necks hot from the sun. And slowly, slowly, we picked up our friend and lifted him to the roof.
His face was full of emotion.
Trepidation and delight. He was going to see the teacher... surely He would heal his legs. But I think our friend might have been afraid we'd kill him before he ever made it inside.
I held onto one of the ropes, which would lower my friend into the room.
I leaned over and looked inside.
People swarmed like bugs... scurrying and pushing and buzzing. The air in the house wafted through the new hole in the roof, smelling of dirtiness and sweat. I swallowed nervously, seeking His face. Where was He? I could hear His voice above everyone else's.
And even as I searched the faces of the crowd... I saw Him.
We slowly lowered our friend, who now hung suspended in a makeshift hammock.
Then we heard the other people.
They were angry.
They shook their fists at my friend.
I was afraid.
We only had to get our friend to Jesus.
But what if we couldn't get past the crowd? These people, so selfish. So healthy. Standing on two feet.
Then Jesus looked up.
The sun shadowed His face so He squinted -- lines around his forehead and the corners of his eyes deepened.
I almost lost grip of my end of the rope.
Was that a smile?
Had I imagined it... or did the teacher look... amused?
He told everyone to step back, to move out of the way, stepping forward to take our friend in His arms.
We felt our ropes go slack and watched as Jesus lay our friend down on the dirt floor on a mat.
Everything in me wanted to jump down too.
To be held in the teacher's arms like that.
He was a carpenter like my father. Big strong arms and lots of scars.
But I wasn't sick.
So I lay on my belly and lowered my head and shoulders as far as I dared. Just so I could watch.
Just so I didn't miss it when Jesus healed my friend.
But instead, everything went quiet.
I watched as Jesus knelt down and rested his elbows on his knees.
He asked my friend his name.
He smiled. There it was again.
Then Jesus said something and sat back down.
I couldn't hear.
I didn't know.
But my friend didn't get up.
Wouldn't the teacher make my friend's legs work?
I felt the sun beat on the back of my neck and strained to see my friend's face.
My belly flipped inside of me.
My friend looked upon Jesus with a face as radiant as the sun. His young eyes were wet with tears - tears like I hadn't ever seen him cry.
But his legs weren't moving.
Then Jesus said something else. He asked a question.
He shrugged His shoulders and I watched Him rub his calf - back and forth, like He was thinking really hard.
Then He nodded and smiled again.
And He reached out to my friend and whispered again.
I could see the muscles in my friend's legs ripple. And then I saw his toes move. Before I knew it my friend was standing on his feet, rolling up his mat.
Then he turned and looked up at us - his friends who had brought him there to be healed.
He turned to Jesus and pointed. Jesus pulled him close and He looked up at me.
This time, He smiled right at me.
And beckoned for me to come down.

Later my friend would tell me the whole story.

About how Jesus had looked at him and forgiven him of his sins. "He fixed my heart first," my friend said. "The part I didn't know was broken. The part I didn't know was hurt..."

Jesus brought the five of us back later that day and climbed onto the roof with us to help mend the hole we had cut. The crowd was long gone... it was only Jesus and us then.

A carpenter. Like my dad. He explained how all our hearts were broken. How the inside was what needed to be fixed. And He could do that for us... because He loved us.

Friday, July 25, 2008


In every good movie there is a scene.

The scene where the main character goes from being less to more.

From being uneducated to educated.

Awkward and gangly to a beautiful princess.

Skills are developed.

Lessons are learned (wax on, wax off).

And we sit at the edge of our seats.

Watching the transformation... hoping for the best.

And there's always a song. Playing loudly, or quietly, or changing appropriately.

As we were driving back from picking my sister up from Mississippi about a month ago, I put in my iPod and told her to listen.

There was this song.

This i song that had been playing.

One that made my heart rend a little bit whenever I heard it.

A song that made me think change was coming.

It's never really what the song says. Is it ever, really?

But I turned up the volume and Olivia rolled her shoulders back and closed her eyes. I watched her in the rearview mirror as she choreographed her dance in her mind. My heart filled with pride and joy.

But the song ignited a sense of anticipation in my soul...

Things were about to change. I could feel it. The winds were changing. Muscles needed to be stretched. New things tried.

I need to be re-educated.

I'm hoping for the best.


A Circus

One thing I truly love about this life are “moments”.
These are not measurements of time. They cannot be calculated or counted on a wristwatch.
These moments are when I am in the middle of my every day life. Perhaps I am doing something creative or utterly mundane. I may not always notice them at first. But something – a song or a word or a ray of light – will suddenly ignite my awareness. And I see it. I feel it.
These moments cannot be manufactured. You cannot set out to create one. Sometimes I will go days or weeks or months without them. Then when I am not looking… time will stand still.
Sounds will heighten and colors brighten.
The wind will most certainly blow.
And my heart will surely swell.
I had one such moment on New Years Eve.
Under a rocky overhang in Tennessee.
Sitting on the wooden floor of my very own first house… eating Taco Bell.
Walking through the streets of Atlanta.
Camping in Cave Run.
They always happen when I am being myself. When I am dirty and physically tired. When my bohemian spirit comes to life. When my attention is taken away from the stress and the worry and responsibility.
Last night, it happened again.
I met Larry at the park. My stomach was in knots… fearing being extracted from my comfort zone. A knotted stomach because my fear made me feel pathetic.
I sat down, instantly in awe of my father.
You’d never know he was a hippie.
You only see it if you stop looking. If you lean in close enough to smell the patchouli, or ask enough questions to find out he used to do yoga in the park and rides his bike almost everywhere he goes. If you only knew how he knows how to “cure” a headache by rubbing your feet… or if you had seen him in his white t-shirt and flipflops playing the jimbay. Only then would you know.
You might have thought we were at the circus last night. Jugglers and flamethrowers and girls who danced with hula-hoops. They had dreads and drums and cigarettes and tattoos. The park was filled with smells of sweat and oil. Children ran around everywhere. I didn’t know who belonged to whom—everyone took care of everyone else’s kids. Bikes were propped up everywhere. And they continued to play… an ever-changing rhythm coming from five or six drums at a time.
I just sat and watched.
Watched as a couple of college boys who had been sitting on the outskirts of the circle, walked up and got a free lesson on how to juggle.
As a young woman juggled with fire for the first time.
And as an intriguing redheaded juggler floated in and out and around the circle… juggling and maneuvering glass baubles up and down his arms. It was as if it were magic. (I imagined centuries ago when a young man learned he could manipulate the balls in such a way it made them seem controlled by an external force. Magic. Fluid. I was enthralled.)
The group continued to enlarge as the evening went on. New rhythms. Dancing. Clapping. The ice cream truck came and people were walking around holding juggling pins and blue slushies.
And then the redheaded juggler sat down and picked up a guitar. The guitar was attached to a small amp, but there was no microphone. And he began to sing.
Quietly at first.
I strained to listen above the drumbeat.
And then I didn’t have to strain anymore. Because the others in the circle heard; I want to believe they heard his voice for what it really was… believe that every last man and woman changed the beat of their fingers to help create this moment…
For that’s what it was.
His voice rose slightly as if he had swallowed a little nerve.
A song about rising. Out of the fire. Like a phoenix.
He was quiet about it.
He closed his eyes.
He stopped singing and the moment was over. The drummers who had been playing, slowed and then stopped. Everyone applauded quietly. I think they all knew this was not about the attention. It was not about the recognition. But something that quiet, something that beautiful, had to be acknowledged.
Moments come and go as quickly and simply as that.
A little while later I heard two of the men from the circle talking.
“Look how many have come tonight,” one man said. He wore a fedora and a black vest without a shirt underneath. You could see his gray chest hair and smell the smoke on him. His face was illuminated with a smile.
The other man, short and stout and wearing the same clothes as last week, with long gray hair smiled a toothy grin and said, “it’s happening.”
I don’t think I was supposed to hear this.
But a few minutes later then man with the long, gray hair pointed to the sky. A black cloud was being blown in by a wind that would later knock a tree down at my apartment complex.
Immediately… as if they had been expecting it… the jugglers threw their balls in a bag and the hula-hoopers shouldered the hoops and the drummers picked up their drums.
And the park was quiet as it had been before we got there.
It was happening.
Whatever “it” was.
As I got in my car and drove away, I couldn’t help but think that these people, these mismatched, quiet people had gotten something right that the church hadn’t in a few millennia.
They gathered in a public place.
They did what they do best.
When you walked up to the sidelines to watch, one of them would break away from the circle and extend a hand. “This is who we are,” he would explain their purpose for gathering. He would welcome you. “Come just as you are… bring whatever you have… everyone is welcome.” People on the sidelines would nod their head and follow him into the circle. Others would say no, they just wanted to watch. And he would smile and go back to his drum.
When it was time to go home at night, there were a few souls who were better for their presence.
Take a lesson from the hippies… from the people you might avoid on the streets.
The people who might not claim to love Jesus are showing more Christ-like love in the park than many “Christians” often do.
What if one day we gathered – dancing like fools and singing for peace and the Prince of Peace. And we extended our hands to you. “Come, just as you are. Bring whatever you have.”
And at the end of the night, as the wind – or the God Almighty –whipped through the park with holy force, we could look at one another and whisper.
“It’s happening.”
That is church my friend.
It looks a little like a circus.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shadow of His Wing

Its been over three years now...
and the only real reason it came to mind today was because I saw the pictures on Granddad's desktop.
But the memories came flooding back.

The way a car sounds when its being crushed. The sound of breaking glass. The eerie stillness when its all over... and the radio is the only thing making any noise.

In every way, our Father takes care of us.

I walked away that day (Saturday, May 14th 2005) with only bruises and sore muscles.

There are days when I wonder if my prayers are heard. And others when I know for certain, He has His ear trained to hear my voice.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

400 Years

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6)

These words were followed by four hundred years of silence.

I imagine something theatrical.

A powerful voice declaring these words... the world spinning on end... a people, suddenly deaf to the voice of God.

Like in the movies... the film would play in fast forward, indicating passage of time. Generations would grow old and die. New ones conceived and brought up. The story of a sovereign Lord, of a present deity, would be told by the ones who had felt Him. Who had seen HIs work. But soon, those few would be gone. The story would be passed down--diligently at first, religiously, hopefully.

Surely the Lord would not stay silent long.

The truth would soon become not much more than a bedtime story.

But as always... there are a few children who believe the fairy tales.

Who believe passionately in the truth that is told to them just before they close their eyes.

These are the ones who continued to tell the story.

And after four hundred years... scores of generations and a multitude of decades...

After a winter that knew hope, but no evidence...

Stillness was shattered with words.

As the Lord, who had remained distant for so long, stooped not only to speak, but to live among us. The people who had turned His love and passion into a legend - he came to hold them, and sacrifice himself for them.

No one alive had ever heard His voice, or seen His undeniable glory.

And in a blink of an eye, His voice was heard by the poorest.

By the most unlikely.

And the movie is stopped abruptly. A panoramic view of a hillside... of sleeping sheep...

"Do not be afraid. For I bring to you tidings of great joy..."

The heart of a Father was turned to His children.

And the world would never be the same.

Remembering How

We went to the park the other day. It was a perfect July afternoon. The blue sky, the yellow sun, the few clouds. There was a slight, refreshing breeze. Sunlight shown on my family's faces as we grilled out and threw a football and a frisbee.

For the first time in a long time I felt the urge to have a real camera in my hand. Not a digital. A completely-manual, film camera. I've missed capturing these moments... these perfect opportunities to capture shadow and detail.

Before it was time to go we brought out the volleyball.

Last summer I played volleyball with my uncle and his girlfriend. I learned a vital lesson from Marty that summer... and a few things about how to play the game.

So I picked up the volleyball again this July. But it felt foreign in my hand. Too heavy or too light maybe... but the ball was the same size. Almost like my hands were different. I embarrassed myself over and over again, feeling my trademark shut-down, my signature "quitting before it gets too hard".

And then everyone looked away. I had been telling Jordan all day long about muscle memory. He had said he hadn't played volleyball in years, but that he used to play every spring break. "Your muscles will remember," I told him. But I didn't apply that logic to myself.

Then everyone looked away. For once, everyone's back was turned to me. I am not one to thrive under pressure... with the lack of attention, I took the ball in my hand again. I held it until it felt right. Until I remembered how it used to feel - what it was supposed to feel like.

And I sent it clear over the net.

These days I am learning to do things I never learned how to do as a child. I'm getting dirty, sleeping outside, laughing until my belly hurts, laying on the floor.

But there are things I feel like I'm forgetting how to do. Things I want desperately to remember. To hold on to. As my self fluctuates and grows and changes, there are pieces I don't want to lose.

I feel like I've forgotten how to tell a story.

Funny. All my life, when I've gone to my mother with complaints about writer's block, she just shrugs and says "Just keep writing".

Muscle memory. Repeating until the muscles remember. Until the ball feels right in your hand. Until the words ring true on the page.

I'm remembering how.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I imagine my life being made up of many cogs and wheels and gears... all different shapes and purposes. Some are rusty, some are shiny and new.

And every once in a while, a wrench gets thrown in.

And the whole operation goes haywire.

This wrench could be sickness. Or stress. A fight, confusion, deadlines, finances... even good things can sometimes throw the whole, smooth process out of whack.

I am in the middle of a very serious malfunction.

Well. Let's not call it a malfunction. Instead... my smooth-running, quick-witted, energetic system is temporarily out of order.

Days like today I wonder if temporary shut-downs are part of the plan.

Normally I don't read sappy, Christian novels. But today at lunch I was doing just that. And in between the gush and sap, there were a few small words of wisdom. "Sometimes, God gives us hard things because He cares about us enough to make us grow up."

The problem is, when one gear stops working, they all seem to come to a grinding halt. And I feel the jam in my heart and legs and fingertips.

Or perhaps, we could compare this to juggling... or a drum circle.

Last Sunday night we were walking through the park.

The Jugglers Convention was in town.

And Drums for Peace had gathered on the lawn.

I can't play any instrument... I can't read music... I can't dance.

But somewhere in my soul is a precious reservoir of rhythm. It only takes a few counts before I can pick out the beat... the heart... the foundation of the music.

So the six of us sat on the lawn and listened and watched as people played in what Larry called "a drum circle".

Some people were naturally rhythmic. You could see it in their face. The beat didn't come from their hands, or the bare feet they tapped against the grass. It came from somewhere deeper. A much more natural place.... something, somehow, was exiting their bodies through this music.

There were others who didn't quite have the natural rhythm. Their hands hit the drums and their bodies moved in no particular cadence. They just moved.

And I drew comparisons as I watched.

Knowing that the gears and cogs and wheels of my life and my future needed a good oiling. Roll up those sleeves, reach in, remove the wrench. That, however, is the technical part of my self. The nuts and bolts of the mechanism.

All passion, all emotion, is tangled up in the rhythm.

Whether its the rhythm that emerges from your veins... or the foolish, off-beat.

I think I've lost my rhythm.

I've fallen into a monotonous tone... no music at all.

My prayer is that in the coming days I would be able to stop... count until I find the beat in the deep part of myself.

And whether I dance like a fool, or tap my fingers on the steering wheel...

the rest just might make sense.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

My Campaign

This is the first presidential election I am able to vote in.

Consequently, this election will go down in history.

I'm excited to be a part of it.

But along with an eligibility to vote, has come a lot of thoughts of my own.

And I'm not even sure I should share them with you.

They're slightly complicated.

And I don't think you'll like what I have to say.

Oh well.

Barak Obama just won the Democratic Primary.

And a lot of you are mad about it.

Next year, Bush will leave the White House.

And a lot of you are happy about it.

In the near future we will see lots of social and economic changes such as universal healthcare, pulling troops out of Iraq, laws about gay marriage, and where you can send your child to school (and how much that will take out of your paycheck).

You have a lot to say about that.

These issues will affect your vote.

But I've been doing a lot of thinking.

And I've been talking it out, writing it out (using prepositions at the ends of my sentences and conjunctions at the beginning... you know, like a pro).

I'm a little frustrated.

Suddenly, I've found myself a little passionate about all of this.

I think something has to change.

Not "should", or "ought to".

It's not just a good idea.

Something has to change. Or else.

What is it that has to change, you ask me.


You do.

I do.

What? You didn't sign up for this by opening this blog, I know. It's risky enough talking about politics openly like this. But to challenge you to a change of attitude, belief, or action... I should probably go crawl in a hole and await the wrath.

But it's true.

Or... at least I think it is.

Reagan was president when I was born. That fall, when I was six months old, Bush Sr. was elected. Since then, either a Bush or a Clinton has been in office. We've had a fluctuating economy, we've missed chances at "redemptive violence", we've declared war, there's been adultery and lying...

We elect these men.

It's been twenty years of Bush's and Clintons. And today, our economy is on the decline, we are in a war with an unknown purpose, and our dependence on foreign goods and oil is only increasing. Daily, we have people dying because they don't have healthcare and our jails are filled with kids charged with possession while our streets are filled with rapists.

We have guards at the borders of our country.

And hijackers on our planes.

We are fighting for pro-life laws, but our foster care system is horrendous.

We've told you that you have a right to vote.

You also have the right not to.

"We want you to be our president!" The majority of our polls say.

And they become the greatest thing since sliced bread...

Until they do something wrong.

Then it was our neighbor who voted for them.

And we put nasty bumper stickers on our cars.

They're not our president anymore.

Presidents go down in history as responsible for the bad things that happened, or renowned for the good that was done in their term.

That's not democracy at all.

You may think it is. It may be all you know. It may be what we teach our children in school.

But it's not right.

So I've come up with my own campaign.

I'm considering writing Obama... knowing full well he may never even get the letter (but no one could tell me I didn't try).

And letting him know what I think.

My campaign?

May be slightly reminiscent of the 1970s.

(That'd be okay with me.)

A president should be the voice of the people.

We should elect a president because he best represents our belief system, our political view, and addresses our societal issues in the best way feasible.

To have a president get up at a podium and "campaign"... to propose a solution, to promise change, to guarantee success... is a bunch of crap.

For us to solely blame a man for the action of a cabinet and a country is diffusion of responsibility.

The greatest achievements, the greatest change, has NEVER been caused by a president.

Think of Gandhi and MLK Jr. and Mother Teresa.

My campaign is for us to take back our government.

To get off our lazy... tails and to act.

Elect a president who will represent you, not lead you.

If you want something changed, change it.

If you don't like what you are seeing, do something about it.

You want to see this war end? Think about the America you want your sons and daughters to come home to.

Think about the America you want to raise your children and grandchildren in.

We've become apathetic.

We lay blame.

We accuse.

We judge.

But it's our fault.

We use the excuse all the time that one vote doesn't count.

One voice can't be heard.

You're definitely right.

But as cliche as it is, if many people, each with one voice and one vote come together...that is when change occurs.

Gandhi encouraged us to be the change we wished to see.

Margaret Mead said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Take back your government.

When you go to the voting booth in November, elect the man or woman who you want to represent you.

Who will have a loud voice, but speak our words.

Who will, because we elected them, have influence.

It won't be changed in a term.

Or even in two.

We've screwed it all up too badly.

And there's a lot of other issues we have to face.

More that you won't like. Not one little bit.

But take responsibility.

This is your home.

And mine.