Grace & Gravity

I believe that I was put on this earth to chase my destiny.

I believe that you were put on this earth for a great purpose.

I believe that there is grace unleashed around us when we let someone change their mind (without missing a beat).

I believe there is power in acceptance & unconditional love.

I believe that from our darkest pain comes our deepest passions.

I accept my favorite parts of my story as well as the parts that wreck me.

I believe in an eternal force of goodness that is changing my stars & will never stop setting me free.

I accept the heavy care in my heart for the dozens of people who I claim as eternal family (love that pierces thread through me & ties my figure-eight soul to this planet).

I believe that I won’t regret giving myself time & space to transcend the daily “grind” & to nurture the soul I’ve been given.

I won’t regret taking the time to hear my heartbeat & to think long & hard about the human experience.

I won’t regret begging the dark & mysterious universe for space within me to adopt the unforced rhythms of grace & to weather waves of light & truth, the ones keeping sun & moon drawing circles around earth.

I won’t wish I had forgiven less, dreamed less, hoped less, smiled less, cried less, laughed less, fought for my neighbors & family less, believed less.

By grace I see, I dare to think: this life is a sacred gift & I want to live each extraordinary moment.

May the child within you be set free.

May you greet every growing experience with grit.

May love be gravity tethering you to the present moment.

May you fight for another.

May you confront the darkness within.

May you fly, my friend.

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Fireside Tribe

In a dark lodge with wood paneling like chocolate/vanilla swirled ice cream, and cool stone walls, seven women sat facing a fire. The fire was burning inside a stone nook, slightly below floor level, naked. The grate had been moved aside. Big logs whose bark was cut into black and white square patterns by ash periodically shifted, popped, and crackled.The women were gathered before the fire like chocolate chips that have fallen to the bottom of a muffin. Four sat in a row on the brown leather couch, puppies lined up in the cradle of their mother’s shape. Two sat perched on chairs, staring into the dancing flames, enshrouded in fleece blankets of blue and white.

In the corner next to the fire, as if at the helm of a six-man ship, sat the eldest. A rustic woman with silky hair pulled back to the top of her head, held there by one band of rubber, durable and tight like faith after a long hospital stay. The firelight illuminated her perfect hairline, reflected off her earlobes. Athletic pants were tucked into the top of duck boots, and she sat leaning forward. Her eyes were wide, horrified by the weights still balancing on the backs of her young crew members. Suddenly she stood.

“Alright,” she said. She threw three small packages of Kleenex at the women on the couch. She flicked off the overhead light. “This is what we’re gonna do.”

The girls stared up at her, lips ajar. Firelight now reflected off the moisture in their eyes. One fingered the package of tissues, sealing and unsealing the round sticker at the lip of the envelope. The standing woman continued:

“Get a piece of paper and write down your sins. All that junk you have been hangin’ on to. Your parents sins, your sins. Write it all down and we’re gonna burn it. You owe it to the world to accept healin’. God has forgotten those sins you keep bringin’ up. He is ready for you to move on.” She stomped out of the front door, letting in a chilly fall draft.

In a moment, pens were down, flying across torn pages held close to dimly lit faces. Two of the girls looked up, peeking (with marked hesitation), towards the woman who wrestled large chunks of wood outside.

She returned, bold captain for the day, and placed wood on the fire. The only energy emitted besides the Joules eking from flames were in the music notes gently playing:

Boldly I approach your throne, blameless now I’m runnin’ home…

The indention in the stone floor became an altar. The blaze a throne. The wood their unburning God, ready to speak through flames of his creation and control.

One by one each woman folded her piece of college ruled paper corner to corner and knelt before the flames. The orange tendrils kissed their bundled knees, heated the concrete under their feet. Each one offered silent pleas: “Let me live free from the burden of these sins,” “Let me be done with this yoke.” And before each piece of paper curled up and disintegrated into dark ash, bright light shone from the brittle kindling of penned sin. The brilliant glow shot up the wall above the temporary altar, then disappeared. Each woman sat where she had been before, sniffling, grabbing hand of co-heir wedged on couch beside her.


May that be our sin: placed without hesitation into the fire of God’s love. Then may we watch delighted as that burning bush turns it into a bright light warding off the world’s deep darkness.

DecaGratitude

There are days when I just need a minute to breathe. These are usually the days when a list of thanks is in order. Emotional fatigue is a sure sign of discontentment. It is too much for one girl to desire what the world says she should have AND the Lord’s will for her days. I am that girl and I cannot do it. I either have to stop and re calibrate, or I will wander exhausted for weeks, months, years.

My history instructor firmly declared last January that human beings are good at 2 things: complaining, and reproducing. Now I can’t say much about the latter, but as for the former, I am human through and through. This is me offering an Ann-Voskamp answer to my own trouble.

1) Nutella covered fingers, dancing to worship music alone in my room with You.

2) Legs that kick strong through water, bubbles that come up from my nose.

3) Hair that does somersaults on blustery days.

4) Neon Steeple Radio (Spotify), words that remind me of the only One who is promised to be present at my dying breath.

5) Scripture: I am hungry, thirsty, deranged in pursuit of Truth. I want to gobble it, consuming even the long organized lists of Leviticus and Numbers. Thank you Jesus for this flawless piece of yourself.

6) Laughs shared with co-workers, hymns to sing when medicine will not let me rest.

7) White tangerine flesh cracking as I bite from pit.

8) Parents bent over to create fronds like shields, halting fiery darts hurled my way.

9) Tears locked behind my eyes, denying death her bounty.

10) Friends who text to tell me I am loved, turning grief tears into sunshine drops.

My Jesus has won.(( Shout it! ))The battle against my other list (the one not worth sharing: it contains the things I cannot do, the gifts I do not have) is already finished. Why should I carry the burdens of warfare already fought for me?

Rejoice; He came back alive!

I am terrified to receive the blessings my God has for me. After the manner of a solemn Muslim addressing Allah, I pray eyes wide, palms open. I flutter like a dry fall leaf.

When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me.~Psalm 138:3

I go to soak in His Word for though I cannot always see His footprints or hear His voice,

I will always remain in His love.

Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.~Psalm 77:19

Cloudy Eyes

I have broken,

Broken Your commands.

I see it now;

My eyes have been clouded with

Sin,

And I weep

Weep

Weep;

So evil,

So wretched,

So dark is my heart.

I am so sorry.

Hear my pleas for mercy once again

And be gracious-

Do not pass me by.

Teach me not to exhaust Your boundless grace.

I love You.

I love You.

Forgive my despicable behaviour.

Make me new

Again.

Replace my guilt with boldness,

Amen.

Empow’r

The odd thing about right-now-in-my-life is that it is a time of definitions. People are watching me, my friends, all the other just-out-of-high-school-ers, to see what we do. Now is when we decide who to be.

I never thought that there was a choice: my beliefs are set; the person I want to be is in my mind’s eye, now I’ll step into that personhood. My belief system is not going to change drastically, so of course I will be a good worker, friend, student, citizen. Things will pan out….Wrong wrong wrong. One does not simply step into anything. Everyday decisions reveal to me that the girl I want to be is years away, separated from me by piles of lessons to be learned.  Contemporary choices can seem so insignificant: an unwashed shirt, a unanswered email, a gift withheld, but it is obvious now that they shape the bigger decisions. An unwashed shirt becomes habitual dirtiness, an unanswered email is a loss of opportunity, a gift withheld snowballs into chronic greed.

We will die in this wilderness but death will not separate us from the love of God.~Dr. Mark E. Ross

Not only do I want to be an upstanding citizen; I have chosen to live by a radical moral code. Wealth? Never. Clean, boxed-up, air-conditioned religion is no reality of mine. Scraping a living, thriving purely by the Spirit pow’r, it’s the plan. Yet suddenly I see, none of this is going to come easy. The idealistic world that I foresaw in my high school naivety is being disrobed. Knowing what I believe does not make me special. Convictions do not say “yes” or “no” for us. Deciding to live by these convictions is what shows true color.

Listen…has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom?~St. Paul

traveler. cigarette smoker? not-pothead. hostel stayer. hard worker. too hard? No frequenting clubs. Bars will be OK. Who decides these things? Since when am I in charge? How come I choose what is right and wrong? That is not how it works. That is what my daddy does. But I never wanted him to. Now he’s not. Good. Deep breath. Smile. Sway to the music.

Only one desire that’s left in me, let the whole damn world come dance with me.~Edward Sharpe

You never wanted to be worried. You never wanted to bring lines to your cheeks. So don’t. This is the relax-if-ever-you-will time. Now, as actions shape and form to reflect my worldview, the time for no-worry is here. No such time as the present to be smiling. To be loose, to be fit and funny. To take responsibility for  mistakes and to laugh at them.

The Water is free but I should warn you, it costs everything. ~Kendall Payne