Monday, February 25, 2008


The Buddhists believe all our negative feelings derive from fear. Guilt, anger, most sadness, aggression.

We are fearful people.

That's not a very attractive, powerful thing to admit.

But there are some of us who live in a constant state of fear. Whether that fear is violent or subtle... it is there.

Fear of rejection.
Fear of inadequacy.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of failure.
Fear of change.
Fear of challenge.

Of course, there is not one, true, steadfast rule that applies to our emotions. Our emotions are inconsistent. Our emotions are unreliable. But think about it.

We are afraid we are not good enough. That things will happen to us like they happened to our parents. That we we didn't study hard enough, we don't look good enough, we didn't do the right thing, we did the wrong thing, we spoke or didn't speak.... The list goes on and on.

There's a different kind of fear, as well. The kind of fear I've felt for a few days when I walk into my room and see my sliding door pried open. Or hear noises outside my window. Or walk into the dark apartment by myself. Or hear a storm siren or my neighbors yelling again. This is a different kind of fear. A fear that is equally hard to live with. A fear that is equally paralyzing.

And I can't help but think that we are not meant to live this way.

I can't help but wonder, if we pulled the plant out by the roots, what that would mean for so many people... If fear was eliminated, how would our lives be different? Even in the most simple aspects of our lives:

If we weren't afraid of sleeping in, would we sleep better during the night?
If we weren't afraid of gaining weight, would we enjoy the food we eat?
If we weren't afraid of being hurt, would we love all the more passionately?
If we weren't afraid of being lied to, would we trust, or have better judgement of our own?

It just makes me wonder. Makes me wonder about healthy fear. About fear that causes exhileration... or fear that inspires awe. The fear that gets our blood pumping, calling us to action or to awareness. Fear can be a good thing. It's when the emotion overtakes us... planting itself deep beneath the surface... that it becomes dangerous.

We are taught the fear of the Lord. A recognition of His power and His presence. We fear the Lord because we cannot do what He does. We sinned, and forgot how to love how He loves. A healthy fear.

But fear can turn into a disease. Infecting everything. Spreading quickly. It is rampant because we cannot conquer it on our own. We are weak against it. Our own defenses are not enough. But that is why we are not alone.

Do not be afraid.

All of us are driven by different things. But I want you to find hope. I want you to be able to reach over and flip on the light, sleep in your bed without feeling fear, reach for his or her hand and know that love is scary, but it should not terrify you.

My words for you today are ones of hope.

Psalm 91.;&version=65

Because we love Him, we are protected. So often we associate protection with our physical bodies. But His protection is not so limited. Of every aspect of ourselves, it is our hearts, our souls, our spirits that need to be shielded. And therefore, it is our hearts, our souls, our spirits that God seeks to protect.

This might not make any sense.

You probably don't agree with me.

I'm not sure I agree with myself.

But it was a thought... I pray you find hope today.

Find security and safety in the shadow of His wing.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bones and Scars

If there ever was a family that knew about broken bones and scars, it would be ours.

Between us, we've had surgeries and stitches. We've had casts and broken bones and steri-strips. We've wrecked cars, fallen on pavement and into coffee tables, had metal drilled from eyes, broken windows, removed large splinters. We've been run over by bicycles and fallen off decks.

I cannot help but be proud of scars. We call them "battle scars" around here, because they all have good stories. Each scar represents some crazy time in our life or another.

A cast was removed yesterday. After two months... eight weeks today.

I am thankful for our bodies' ability to heal.

I am more thankful that we serve a God creative enough to give us scars so we'd remember.

Remember the lessons learned during recovery. Remember that pain does not always last. That our bodies are not immortal, but are entirely imperfect.

And that, in the end, He will get us through.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Storm Chasing

I am inspired right now by my little sisters words. She reminded me of storms. I am amazed at how much I miss sometimes... about what I've missed out on in the past two years since I've been gone.
She's grown up so much.

I remember storms... they are like milestones. I remember the first time I had to go into a hallway and cover my head with my arms. The first time we had to go to the basement. The first time, when lightening struck, and Dad opened the front door.

We would stand on the front porch and watch the rain beat onto the ground... the yellow light from the streetlights catching the rain and making it glisten like snow. We would stand on the porch until we started getting wet, until a plastic lawn chair was blown into the yard, or until the storm siren had been wailing for a few minutes too long.

There was a tornado that ripped through Winchester the season before I moved there (twelve years ago). It took the steeple off of the church my Dad would be working at. And there hasn't been a tornado touch down since then.

But I've always looked.

Waited for the green sky... the still blades of grass... listened for the sound like a train. I've always wanted to chase a storm.I was standing in my apartment last night when the storm siren went off... so loud that my heart skipped a beat. Tornado watch.

Secretly, I felt a rush of excitement. An unspoken deseire to rush to the window and watch. Later, I would be lying in bed and the electricity would silently flicker out. Lightening would strike a parked car and set the alarm off. Thunder would boom and send my kitten running for cover under my bed. I would lay there, counting how many miles away the storm was. Holding my breath when I felt the first vibrations of thunder. Plugging my ears when the sirens went off again at 2 am...

Tornado warning.

I don't particularly like the rain. The bottom of my pants get wet. My car slides and spins. The parking lots flood. But after Olivia's words, I remembered something.I remembered a walk I took with Dad--four years ago now. A walk in the rain at midnight. Talking about life, how fast it was moving, how slow it seemed to be going by. I think back to the girl that took that walk. And I realize that Olivia must feel this way. (Except she's smarter than I was.)

I remember a dinner date... the parking lot flooded, him driving up in his car, following him to dinner.

I remember a surprise birthday party that was accented by thunder and lightening and sirens.

I love looking up at the sky and watching it churn. The moist, warm way the air feels. The calm before the storm. Holding your breath in suspense. Knowing you should feel some fear. Only feeling awe.

I think that I've been chasing storms all my life.

Seeking after the power of God--the strength in the wind.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Kingdom Come

We drove in close to midnight.
I was half asleep (the car has lulled me to sleep since I was a child–especially the narrow, winding roads leading to the mountains).
I started to wake up, listening to the stereo (powered by batteries in the front seat) skip as it played on of his favorite CDs.
The roads continued to wind. The sky was deep blue, it was cold outside.
I had been fighting nerves for days. My bag was packed with my cameras, my head with stories.
I watched as his face began to change.
The area of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch are small, old mining towns. They were built quickly for miners and their families, at the base of the mountains, in the shadow of the very machinery that was their livelihood. This machinery, this equipment, rose like monsters from the shadowed valley. Broken pane-glass windows glinted in our headlights. The wind whistled through the cracked back windows (which won’t roll all the way up) of his car. The mountains began to rise higher above my head, the outcropping hanging over the road, making me feel small and out of control.
We had returned to the mountains. A place he loved. A place I have spent years running from... only to find my heart reaching for them once again.
A place we call home.
The mountains, the Appalachian Mountains, are quite unlike the Rockies.
The Rockies demand a certain amount of respect; they rise, naked and crowned in snow, overpowering everything in their shadow. They are a vital part of the great American dream. They whisper of gold and prosperity and danger. Their crags and peaks are home to exotic animals, to stories of great triumph and trial.
The Appalachian Mountains, I say again, are quite unlike the Rockies. It would be futile to try and describe them to you. But when I close my eyes, I see a child. I see an old woman, wrapped in a quilt. I see smoke rising from a chimney. These mountains laugh. They are full of simple joy. And yet, deeper still, the Appalachians keen. Listen carefully and you will hear the mournful cry of a forgotten culture. An unloved people, a stereotyped society. Tucked safely in green mountains, which rise from the bluegrass. Lungs, blackened by the mines. Faces wrinkled by seasons spent in the fields. They do not demand attention, nor require your admiration. But they hold a secret. These mountains will love you...
I got out of the car, immediately engulfed by the night. I was nearly knocked over by the wind.
It was one of the moments that I manage to feel even as it is happening. A moment that might not mean a thing in retrospect, a moment that even now may not mean a thing to you. But I stood in Jarrod and Stephanie’s driveway in the darkness, looking at the treeline that rose behind their house. The tall, dry, naked trees rustled loudly in the wind. A moment that felt like an hour... I listened. And for the first time in a long time, I heard.
"I am here."
I would later be sitting in the car with Caleb telling him this story, and have to fight back tears.
Ever since I was in highschool, I had sought out physical evidence of God. I often resonated with Gideon, or even Thomas–needing physical affirmation that He was real, that He heard me, and that our Father could respond. As a young teenager I began to ask for such affirmation... such confirmation of His presence. I knew, deep down inside, that even without an answer that He was real. But still I asked.
And I began to feel Him in the wind. I clung to the verse in John 3 (vs. 8): the wind blows whether it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
The strength of the wind on Friday night in Lynch, penetrated deep into the recesses of my heart. I was on a journey. I was looking for answers. Answers to hard questions. Evidence of a purpose, traces of a future. I was looking for time to spend with the man I love–I was looking for the man I had only gotten a glimpse of, the heart that manifested in his eyes. I was looking for our story.
On Saturday we went up to the State Park, Kingdom Come. We began to hike, and much to my dismay (although, I had expected it) I began to lose my breath. I was embarrassed. I was disappointed in myself. I love hiking. Love getting dirty. Love being in nature. But so often, my thorn, my ability to breathe, my "special" body gets in the way. We slowed down. We saw deer. We hiked up the amphitheater, where we stood, faces lifted upward reading the tags on the stone. Spray painted, etched, carved, drawn; professions of "love", signatures, dates as early as 1936. Our voices echoed. We hiked up even further to a massive, sloping rock. We sat down (needing to catch my breath). Caleb sat a few feet in front of me, and we looked out at the blue mountains that rose before us. He would later make a joke about our transcendental-ness. But there was nothing to be said. In the quiet. In the peacefulness. I watched him as much as I watched the mountain. And as my lungs began to fill back up with air, as the muscles in my legs began to relax, a question was answered.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done...
I picked the last trail that happened to lead us back to the road. Before we got back in the car, we went down to the playground and swung on the swings. My belly started feeling funny as I went higher and higher, and we laughed as we closed our eyes, feeling like we were plummeting to the ground.
Church was held in the Community Christian Center this morning. A brick church building, originally a Greek Orthodox structure, built at the very foot of the mountain. Caleb picked me up from the Sherman’s with bare feet. "Welcome to my home," he said as we crossed the street to the church steps.
It’s been a long time since I cried in church. It’s been a long time since I really cried at all. But I stood there, third row back (the squeaky pew), in between Wilma and Senta, fighting back tears. Fighting back the vicious tears that have nothing to do with your tear ducts, but I believe, come straight from your soul. Joey stole my heart–leaving the pulpit and approaching a quiet congregation that had "congregated" in the back pews of the sanctuary.
Love languages.
Nothing can separate us from His love.
Do not love with words or tongue, but in action and in truth.
God is love.
Love one another.
I was flooded by words that I knew by heart... not just had memorized, but that were hidden in my heart, part of the very fiber of my faith. I was still uncomfortable–uncomfortable in the sense that I had no idea what was going to happen next, or how long the service would last, or what would be required of me. But I sat there, the pew squeaking beneath me, and I was shaken.
I remembered a conversation that Liza and I had over six months ago. Talking about our calling, our passion, our future. About what it means to live by faith. About what scares us the most. Remembering that we are not called to live "comfortable" lives, but lives of un-comfort. Loving the unloved, serving the unserved, seeing the invisible... all takes courage and a large measure of faith.
I struggle with self-doubt. What do I have to offer? How could God use me and my gifts in the heart of Kentucky... thoughts and doubts that echo that of a wise woman, who 13 years ago, drove south to Harlan County to seek God’s will.
I walked out to the car last night on the way to dinner, and for some unknown reason, lifted my eyes upward. I almost fell backwards, disoriented by the number of stars in the sky. So close I feel like I could reach out and touch them...
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done.