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Finding Myself In The Story

6 Dec

Sometimes I’d like to get lost in a crowd

Let the energy swell around me

Until I don’t feel separate

But a small part of a whole entity

I am tired of myself

Everything feels so personal

So internal

So stressful

So petty

I used to see the world differently

And I want to go back to that place

Back to the realization that nothing matters

But my unique contribution

But love

Like every step has meaning

Like no word is lost

Like I know everything matters

Like I can really change things

Change the world

Yes, change myself first

Yes, raise a family too

But what about that BIG thing?

What about my HARD thing that I must do?

What about pouring myself out

and out,

and out again

Once, a long time ago,

A teenage girl sat in her room alone and promised God and herself

Everything would be different

That no day would be wasted

That purpose would seep out of every pore

That she would be single-minded to the point of recklessness

Now she’s tired and feeling 30

And she buries her head in her hands

And thinks of all that’s lost

Then realizes nothing is

Because I don’t have to move mountains

All at once

Only a stone at a time

My promises don’t matter as much

As what’s been promised to me

I can change things

Brick by brick

Bird by bird

Word by word

I can change myself

(I have to believe what I am doing matters. I have to give this everything. I have to become someone else. I have to be me. I have to get lost in the story. I have to find myself there.)

So here I go…

Photo 315

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Finding Jesus In the Chaos of Religion

6 Aug

Have you ever felt fed up with “The Church?”

I have.

I have walked out of services and cried in the parking lot.

I have sat through sermons feeling sick to my stomach.

I have been betrayed and lied to,

used and abused.

I have seen Jesus in some of the dirtiest and sin-filled places, but I’ve had a hard time finding him in “organized” Christianity.

I have ranted and raved about hypocrisy.

I have pointed fingers and condemned.

I have thrown my bible across the room, cussed out God, and almost walked away from the whole thing.

But Jesus never found offense in my frustration.

He loved me through all of it.

Even when I mocked his bride and hated her at times.

(And realized I was just raging against myself.)

I have gone to the opposite side and come back around.

I have found grace.

I have accepted that (all) people are infinitely broken and unconditionally loved.

(Including myself)

I have learned that I already have everything I’ve been working so hard to obtain.

I have found freedom amidst the chaos of man-made religion, in the simplicity of Jesus.

And I wrote a book about it, with a friend of mine.

It’s a bit of his story, and a bit of mine.

bookcomments

It’s a (strange) journey through religion into the heart of Jesus.

You might find yourself in this story too.

If you’ve ever felt “burnt out” by Christianity.

If you’ve ever been hurt by people who love God.

If you’ve ever wanted to say “screw it all” and run away,

But Jesus keeps bringing you back.

This book is for you.

Because sometimes we have to fall into pieces before we can fall into peace.

And sometimes we have to tear down in order to rebuild.

And there is always hope in the rubble.

fallintopeace

So It Begins

30 Jan

so it begins

just like this

a way that feels insignificant

(just like all great things)

a girl, typing on a keyboard

on a bleak January day

and her cup of coffee sits beside her, of course

her dog lays at her feet

it is audibly quiet

and mentally loud

and so she types

desperately needing something to make sense

for distractions to remain flung aside

for creativity to take over

 

this is the hard rocky ground before you strike water

these first few

(Sentences. Paragraphs. Pages. Chapters. Books.)

maybe the deeper and more powerful, the cleaner and more pure the water flow,

the more you must dig

and you must

otherwise, the water will be muddy

the color of her coffee that lays untouched

because even the act of lifting up the heavy mug to her lips may interrupt the flow

 

(This is such a weird thing)

to be connected and attached to this idea that’s not fully yours

to stress and strain and feel insignificant and incapable only to come back to the same place:

 

Writing is really just moving yourself out of the way so

Something else can speak through you

so why should I worry?

why should I fear?

why shouldn’t I just trust You

the voice

creativity Himself

 

Write It Down

7 Jan

I’ve been trying to catch some words, darting about in my head like fireflies. Words are a tricky thing to catch, you see.

Reach out too fast and too greedy and they slip right by you, or come out all awkwardly squished and misshapen.

Wait a moment too long and they are gone.

A pile of laundry lies on my bed, a mountain of color and cloth yelling at me to be folded and put away.

I force myself to walk away. To ignore. To type. Something.

Because these tiny tasks add up to one big distraction of not doing what I was created to do.

I’ve been feeling right on the edge of something, maybe just these silly sentences, maybe even a line or two that will make me go,

“Mmmmm,” when I read it later.

I walked my dog Mumford last night, hurriedly, like I do, trying to get his business over and done with so we could go back into the apartment and get warm. In between buildings, in a dingy ill-kept courtyard with pathetic grass, I looked up between sparse tree branches and saw a scattered handful of stars. I let go of a deep exhale and watch my breath go up like a smoke signal. And I wondered why, why I don’t stop to look up more. Why I don’t breathe more.

Why each step doesn’t have greater purpose then getting to the next thing.

(The next big thing is here.)

And I think of all the things that crowd my mind and block my fingers from letting out the creativity I know wants to flow through me endlessly.

I know as I am sitting here on my bed at midnight next to my antsy dog and my laundry pile, that this is important.

My aching fingers continue to type and I suddenly I know why God invented writing:

Writing is spiritual and it is human. It is a dangerous, swaying bridge that crosses from one to another, with frayed ropes and missing planks to nearly fall through.

It is adventure.

Without this act, this putting of pen to paper, of words to a screen, there are inconsistencies and incompleteness to my existence. I live each day doing what I do, feeling what I feel, longing or loving or feeling lost or like I need to get lost. And in between the mental chatter, the eating, the working, the not always seeing, there is a great sacred itch, a haunting, a pressing that says:

“Write it down,”

Word by word. Bird by bird. Feather by feather. Bone by bone. One tiny effort at a time. It is not worthless.

It is really the most important thing I can do.

It is who I am. Depriving myself is suicide.

So I will ignore the laundry’s cries, the critic’s harsh voice, the ten thousand daily distractions.

I will stop and see my breath sending up smoke signals to the stars.

And I will live to write it down.

Then there is the business of surprise. I never know what is coming next. The phrase that sounds in the head changes when it appears on the page. Then I start probing it with a pen, finding new meanings. Sometimes I burst out laughing at what is happening as I twist and turn sentences. Strange business, all in all. One never gets to the end of it. That’s why I go on, I suppose. To see what the next sentences I write will be.

– Gore Vida

The Final Mystery of Words

28 Jun

Clickety clack clickety clack.

The sound is a familiar one.

The sound of a brain and heart attempting to engage the world around her.

The sound of trying.

 

She stops.

 

“What are you doing?”

That cold and tired voice begins,

“Why are you still trying?

You have no credentials.

You keep writing in a passive voice.

You have never had anything published, really.

Maybe you never will

Why do you keep doing this to yourself?”

 

She continues, used to ignoring the voice by now.

 

Clack clickity clack click.

 

She stops again. Stares out the window.

She knows outside it is arid, nearly impossible to breathe. No fresh air in the summer in Texas.

She knows she’ll have to make her own air, live in the cool mountains of her mind.

 

Clickety clack.

 

Treetops can be seen beyond sand colored apartment buildings, a little bit of green, a tiny speck of nature.

She knows she is going to have to make her own scenery.

 

CLICK.

 

The air is still in the morning, any noise from neighbors or traffic drowned out by the hum of a large air condition unit. It’s Thursday, and by all facts and schedules, an ordinary day. Today she will shower, play with her puppy, get dressed, go to work.

Do simple, often menial yet enjoyable tasks to keep house and take care of people who aren’t quite able to take care of themselves. Today she will feel like part mom, part tutor, part house-keeper, part nanny, part-job coach.

Usually, someone will make her laugh.

Usually, she will get asked about ten thousand questions.

Usually, she will try to form her speech in such a way where she can be understood, simple, concrete.

Usually, she will force herself to stop and smile at the lowest functioning resident, a 21-year-old male with the capabilities of a Six- month old. She will look at him after she puts him in his giant crib, turns on the Pandora lullaby stations, and feeds him medicine to help him sleep in a spoonful of vanilla pudding. She will look into his green eyes and wonder what his reality is. What he sees when his legally blind eyes are open, sparkling, deep. When he laughs and babbles to himself.

 

She will wonder.

 

Clack. She stops typing to briefly read over what she typed.

Now, the reality of her day has words to it, concrete words.

After being jumbled, abstract thoughts, the words feel real and alive.

Final, but ever changing.

 

This is her existence.

This is why.

 

Clickety clack click clack…..

 

 

“That, I suppose, is the final mystery as well as final power of words: that not even great distance between time and space do they ever lose their capacity for becoming incarnate.”-Frederick Buechner

 

What A Daring Thing

16 Oct

“I am grateful that I started writing at a very early age, before I realized what a daring thing it is to do, to set down words on paper, to attempt to tell a story, create characters. We have to be braver than we think we can be, because God is constantly calling us to be more then we are, to see through the plastic sham to living, breathing, reality and to break down our defenses of self-protection in order to be free to receive and give love.”-Madeleine L’Engle, Walking On Water


She knew a little bit about bravery.  A Wrinkle In Time was rejected 26 times, and then when it was finally published, went on to win a Newbery Medal.

If we are  going to create anything meaningful, we are going to be misunderstood, made fun of, rejected, and even hated.

The forces that come against a creative work are often directly proportional to how much impact that work will have on the world.

But we won’t stay there forever.

Every mother knows the labor pains are worth all the love and beauty you will soon hold in your arms.

“Be brave! Have courage! Don’t fear! Do what you think you  ought to do, even if it’s nontraditional. Be open. Be ready to change.”

Why Write?

20 Jun

 

Yesterday I wrote a guest post for my friend Jeff Goins, on  why writers need to enter into the stories they tell. Jeff  is an excellent communicator and offers tons of great advice on art, creativity, blogging and making a difference in the world. I recommend his blog to everyone interested in writing. You need to check out his Writers Manifesto. The Writers Manifesto is a call for all writers to abandon the notion of fame and glory and write simply because they must. It captures the heart and soul of writing in a punchy simple declaration that is sure to leave you challenged, inspired and ready to create. It reminded me why I bother to write in the first place: not in hope of fame, but because I believe the act of writing itself is sacred. I was reminded that I am not alone in this.

This is something I have been pondering a lot lately.

Especially since I’ve found myself at a place in life where I am literally doing nothing but freelance writing.

Last night someone asked me what that meant. I replied, “It’s just a nice way of saying I am a starving artist!”

This weekend I was at a party and this older gentleman asked me what I do. I told him I was a writer and he gave me this smile and look that seemed to say, “Awww how cute.” He then looked at me all serious and grandfatherly and asked, “Is that something you want to do with the rest of your life?”

I smiled at him and said confidently,”Yes sir, it’s the only thing I could ever see myself doing with my life.”

Sometimes, I still  hear the voices in my mind that say, “This is stupid, you can’t ever make a ‘career’ out of this, who are you kidding? Your spelling and grammar is a mess, you’ve never even been to college. You know nothing. Go do something useful.”

But those voices are death.

I am slowly getting to the point where I really don’t care if I am “good” at writing or not.

It’s like asking if I am good at breathing.

I need to write. Even if no one reads these words but me, ( and my dad and boyfriend, two guaranteed fans no matter what.)

I need to partake in this act of creating. The act of words appearing out of thin air. Squeezing out thoughts and ideas into being. Entering into someone’s story and telling it.

I can’t live without this.

I read in Shauna Niquest’s book Bittersweet yesterday, (I swear that woman is my soul-twin. Is that creepy? Probably.)

We stay in our chairs (writing) and fight the urge to fold laundry, desperate for something to control, something orderly and safe instead of the wild, untamed world of our own secret feelings and imagination. And we do it because it makes us feel aware and alive and created for a purpose more then anything else in our lives.

Yes.

I write because it makes me feel aware and alive and created for a purpose more then anything else in my life.

I can’t not write.

And the act of writing itself is sacred.

Here is a quote from the guest post. This is something I developed when I was in India as sort of my “Statement of Belief” about why I write:

Storytelling is much more then an ancient art around a campfire, or a group of kids in a circle at the library.

It is much more then building your platform as a writer or fame and glory. It is eternally important .

The daring act of speaking truth or putting it on paper is courageous. It is lighting a candle where there was only darkness before. In doing this, we bring a little bit of heaven to earth.

I must continue day by day to feebly attempt to express the inexpressible.

I must put words to these things.

 


When I write I…

11 Jan

In class today we had 7 minutes to free write, starting with the words “When I write  I..”

When I write I am transformed to another place and time completely. I just begin, I let go. I find myself floating over where I have been. I can see the past, I can maybe even see bits of the future.

Yet, the most clear thing is the present. It sharpens in front of me, like I am adjusting a camera lens. Click! The flash goes off. I study the framed photo, zoom in, eye the details. I see the way the colors of the moment bleed into each other, the hues pop out, the shapes become what they we not before- not just the ordinary thing in front of me, but more.

Layers peel off one by one. I see now, what I didn’t before. All that has been my life, all that I think and feel, all that brings joy or pain or confusion makes sense for a moment. Or maybe it’s not always that it makes sense,  I can’t read my life like a dictionary definition, I am just ok with it being abstract. I can stare at the painting in front of me and soak in the beauty without trying to find all this meaning. In the beauty I find meaning.

When I write, I am ok with the world around me. I am ok with myself. I stop judging myself, stop pretending and finally become honest. I am split wide open. I used to fear this so much, so I would just scratch the surface, just say things that I thought others wanted to hear. I realize more and more, when I do that I cheat myself. I cheat the world from this God-given gift- to bleed on paper.

We all want to know we are not crazy. We all want to read something and think “Wow, I am not the only one!” We read to know we are not alone, and we write to feel sane, to learn to be human.

When I write I know this.

Hey, Lindale & Tyler Peeps…

28 Aug

You can now buy my book at Rockwell’s Coffee Brewery.

So what are you waiting for?

Go do it.

Maybe I will see you there. 🙂

coffeestupid

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