Tag Archives: Life

We Walk On

11 Aug

I have an announcement to make: everybody feels like they are faking it.

We are all just along for the ride, and really have no clue what we are doing or where we are going. Even moments of confidence and accomplishment feel so short-lived.

Life comes at you the older you get, and parenthood adds a whole new dimension of responsibility and anxiety. These tiny human beings look at you with all the trust in their eyes because they don't know anything different. We are keeping them alive, shaping them, teaching them what love looks like. But even that we have no control over when it comes down to it.

The world is broken. People make choices and sometimes (often) choices are bad. The only thing you can do is let go and pray for the best.

Some intellects believe people of faith are weak, and actually, it's true. Only, we are ALL weak, and it's in the acknowledgment of it that we gain freedom. But the paradox of Christianity (and really all humanity) is we are also so strong. We are always pressing forward, overcoming adversity and bone-crushing sorrow. Always forging a new path. Always growing. Always making a way.

It's been in our DNA since the dawn of creation: build, create, reproduce, raise up, destroy the limits. Create civilizations, cultures, languages, inventions, art, of out seemingly nothing. Almost as if our blood was infused with the need for the New, the need to move forward, to make our lives and the world around us better.

And so we persevere. We battle the daily, hourly, voices telling us we will never be good enough and we keep living. We keep raising our kids, building a home, a new idea, a movement, a community. We keep ignoring the noise in our minds arguing the futility of it all, and we make something of our lives. We strive to create a better world for our children like our ancestors did. We use our minds and our hands. We discover and conquer. We bleed for a cause. We feel incredibly weak and extremely strong, we feel moments of stupidity and brilliance, love and rage, selfishness and compassion.

But we are human and there is so much grace for that.

If we are quiet and still, we can hear God among us, cheering us on:

You are loved. Give yourself grace.
Today is a gift.

And we walk on.

"You're a million years of work," said God and his angels with needle and thread. They kiss your head and said, "You're good, kid. You make us proud. So just give your best and the rest will come and we'll see you soon."

-Needle and Thread by Sleeping at Last

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Here’s To The Fools Who Dream

23 Mar
Remember when you were 19 and the whole world was yours? It was so open and astounding and you knew you could conquer it.

You were convinced your life had deep meaning and purpose.

You knew it was your destiny to change the world.

So you took risks. You went out on a limb. You made decisions not based on a practical way to climb the typical ladder of success, but based on a small voice inside telling you to screw the ladder and jump.
fools who dream
So you did. With both eyes closed and an enormous smile on your face.

The words you wrote may have been naive and riddled with grammar errors, but they were real and alive and full of conviction.

You saw the world and knew it was beautiful and that you were the luckiest girl in it.

Remember how you believed every day mattered?

That every person you passed on the street wasn’t just part of the scenery, but a unique soul who’s path was forever intertwined in yours.

Remember how you lived your life always looking for signs, which seems ridiculous now, but you actually found them?

Rainy days and ocean sprays made you cry.

Conversations were long and meaningful, and you were never afraid to pour out your heart.

Remember, dear one, when you would dream the most fantastic dreams, and you just knew (like you recognized your own face) that they would happen?

It was simply a fact.

Then things were taking too long, so you attached dates to those dreams, not realizing that the deadlines were weighing them down, essentially believing they would eventually expire.
Somehow, years have gone by and your body and mind and soul have been worn out by the miles.
You’ve past many deadlines in your head,  even the ones you’ve extended several times.

What once felt like an adventure feels like a hassle. Somehow you’ve arrived at the place where the magical feels mundane.

Even when you start to dream again you are hit full force with a dark voice that you’ve allowed a platform on your inner stage,

“Nothing will ever change.”

“It’s too late.”
“Please, just be practical.”

When the easy way out looks inviting, or simply that all other paths are impossible,

When you’ve been lulled to sleep by an over- saturation of worry, doubt, jealously and fear, or worse, you simply feel… nothing.

When it seems like everyone else gets a break, that you’re stuck in this endless cycle and trying and failing, of constant disappointment.

Don’t lose heart.
Look at your daughter, looking out the window and praying for snow in 85 degree weather, smiling and saying, “Now I can build a snowman with daddy!”
Learn from her. Unlearn your cynicism. Remember.
Remember how to create characters and whole universes in you mind.
Let it replace the anxiety and stress.

Keep going, my dear. Every. Single. Day.
Keep yourself open, my dear. Even open to pain.

Don’t forget my dear, dreams don’t have deadlines. Just because you’re not where you thought you’d be, doesn’t mean it’s over.

It’s never over.
Don’t bind yourself with the chains of imaginary time constraints.
Beautiful things take time to grow.
Don’t rush a thing before it’s ready to be born.
Let it gestate. It WILL come when it’s ready.

Keep hoping. Surround yourself with dreamers.

Don’t ever grow up.

Dream big, but know that what you’re doing now matters:

Raising tiny, awesome people. Writing tiny words. Little connections. Minuscule prayers.

This moment matters. Today. How you react to your husband. How you treat the waitress. What you create. How you treat yourself. How you love.

Be one of the foolish ones that shames the “wise.”

Know you have every dream in the history of the universe inside you. 
So don’t be afraid.

Doors

1 Nov

they say just walk right through when it’s open

but sometimes the noise is too loud to find your footing

I still dream of that perfect place where the windows are always open

and the outside and inside are one so there are no dark corners

walls are safe and secure and they keep us yearning

even when we want to tear them down

we just keep building them

It’s not a matter of good or evil, it’s what you do within them

they say that the each of us in a house
and what the rooms look like inside represent a soul
but some of us are tents
wandering from country to country
refugees of our own making
never finding home

they say just keep waiting for a door to open
but some of us are builders, bolting locks
others are fighters, kicking them down
in order to let the sunlight in

 

 

doors

 

Translating the Wind

11 Jun

somewhere between where I was and where I am going,

I reside

abandoning all other options

careless to the chaos of choice

the noise ceases and I am still

Oh restless heart, make peace with yourself

a decade ago I wandered from city to small town

overwhelmed by the meaning

in every place, person, and moment

every noun was a sign

nothing my senses experienced was an accident

I wrote like it was the only way I could see where I was going

and even though it tortured me

I knew I could exist in the moment

I knew Purpose

like sun and rain and soil

and it didn’t matter

that I only had if half-right

that I was cowering to fear

rowing against the waves

to an island I could never land on

Oh restless heart, stop for a moment and rest

at last the illusion broke

I screamed in a hotel room in China

I hated what my beliefs had made me

while loving grace for the lies it exposed

I fell apart and came together

I stood on a bridge far above snow covered streets

and knew impossible was nothing

a remaking of self

a transition from winter to spring

I guess I am not done yet

uprooting, planting, blooming

the layers that ultimately become my being

and I’ll keep going

wondering, wandering and questioning

even if I stay still

the Wind speaks and I can finally translate:

Oh restless heart, this is your home

FullSizeRender (8)

Triggers

12 May

here’s what triggers me:

a soft feeling beneath a cynical view

that today matters

that there is worth in unexpected moments

that greener grass is here, now

I want to take a breath and mean it

like when time stopped and every inhale and exhale

meant bringing a child into the world

a labor of pure love

I want to work like that until my heart is filled again

to fix my eyes on letters

and forget all the numbers

filling my head

peace is not a catchphrase

contentment is not a buzzword

I want them to be the structure which holds

this body together

which binds my skin and keeps all my insides, in

that which infinitely embraces my soul

and keeps me well

that whispers inside my spirit

You don’t have to live like this 

on dark days

I am not sure where to go from here

only that every step matters

like every cell and atom

like rest and color

like music and warmth

like today

this is what triggers me:

a cascade of bright memories

a dull black and white fear

an anticipation of hope

swirling in the sky as one

H6GBR9GWPH.jpg

Fear Not The Passing Of Time (Live Forever)

31 Dec

Here we are again. A blank calendar. A twinge of hope.

We count the previous hardships.

“Things will be better this year,”

We say,

“They have to be.”

One year folds into the next, creases in a paper that blows away at the slightest wind.

Photo Credit: ghedo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ghedo via Compfight cc

For a moment, we stand still and see the rate which time passes and it’s terrifying.

We run after it, frantic like a late commuter trying to catch the last bus.

But we are too late.

New Years is hard to ignore.

The inevitability of one thing ending and another beginning is something you can’t escape.

Even if you chose not to celebrate, there is the date, glaring at us with its rounded numbers, and you think what every human has probably thought since they started keeping track of dates,

“I can’t believe it’s….

20
16.

WHAT?!”

I am 14 and I am in my friend’s basement, and in all our hormones and emotions we are most excited because we are about to witness the end of the world.

It’s Y2k and all the computers that are running the world are about to crash.

Only they don’t. Nothing happens.

I am disappointed.

That was yesterday.

I blink my eyes and I am 30 married with a child and terrified that this is all so damn fast.

And I know, that’s the human condition,

To feel like you’re running out of time,

To be ticking time bombs.

To fear the inevitable end.

But…

We were made to live forever.

 

 

Sometimes I  don’t want to face New Years because I just have a  hard time being positive.

I want to hope so badly things this year will be better,

But I feel like I am tired of disappointment, and it’s so much easier to have low expectations.

To dare to hope would be another risk.

And I am weary from putting my heart out there,

But it’s even more tiring trying to keep it in.

Yet there is a sacredness in holding some things close to me,

Only expressing it to those that truly know my heart.

So I am not going to write down goals.

I am not gonna write down my hopes and dreams for 2016.

They are deeply inscribed in my heart,
And they are not going anywhere,

Despite my fear of them being put on hold.

I’ll embrace new beginnings because that’s what I’ve been given.

But I’ll also know that every day is just as new, whether it be the first or the last of the year, or some boring day right in the middle.

Maybe we’ve got it wrong in obsessing over dates.

Maybe we just need to take every day as it is given to us

A new one.

New mercy.
New grace.
New bread.

And know we will live forever.

Some people say faith is a childish game
Play on, children, like it’s Christmas day
Sing me a song, sing me a melody
Sing out loud, you’re a symphony

(Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors- Live Forever)

The Slow Days are the Hardest

13 Sep

Sometimes it’s the slow days that are the hardest
When we go go go we aren’t forced to face ourselves
All the raging inside becomes mute in the busy

When we’re moving forward
We can look out the window at the landscape
Even if it’s stark
The motion of the road
Stirs our imaginations
A circus act appears
And anything can happen

There’s infinite possibility in the chaos

Photo Credit: Chris Campbell via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Chris Campbell via Compfight cc

But when we’re standing still
The future seems so small
Our insides so enormous
Like the stretch of our emotions is pulling us apart
And we don’t know how to move anymore

So we cast the blame
Dreaming of glory days of motion
Even if they were full of terror
We only remember going somewhere

Sometimes the still days are the meanest
When everything collides inside
And we can no longer hide from ourselves

Life, Death & Easter Baskets

5 Apr

I made an Easter basket for the first time today. I wandered the aisles in the store and let my daughter choose between a bunny and a duck. I never did Easter baskets growing up, or egg hunts. It wasn’t the “Christian” thing. While I was throwing together an awkward last-minute basket for my baby, my husband spent the day mourning with friends, and celebrating the life of a young woman who died in a tragic accident. I only met her a couple of times, but the legacy of her life echos far and loud, and I can’t help but feel the void she left behind.

“She never ran away from what she was afraid of. She always ran towards it.”

A friend who knew her well,  spoke those words. I felt them deep down in my gut, the place where my passion for life lives, something I’ve been feeling void of lately.

I place the stuffed duck in the pink wicker basket. He looks goofy there. I wonder what I’ll tell my daughter about Easter.

“Jesus died for your sins, because he loved you. Then He came back to life. Let’s celebrate with candy.”

Lately, I don’t have words. The simple things feel so complex. But I know they are not. Writing feels like a chore and a waste of time. I don’t know how to balance taking care of my daughter and making room to create. I don’t know how to do a lot of things.  I love my baby so much it makes my heart throb. I used to love writing almost like that. I don’t know how to love both. I want to live with passion like I used to.

I don’t want to be afraid to dream.

I don’t want to be afraid to risk.

I don’t want to run away from what I am afraid of.

I am desperately afraid of forgetting what matters and simply existing.

I am afraid of my heart growing cold.

“Jesus died for our sins.”

That line I know. I’ve repeated it since I was 3 or 4 years old. I said the prayer.

I believe, I do.

I know it means so much, but how do I convey it in a way that really matters when someone so loved dies too soon?

How does Easter really change broken hearts?

I took my daughter to some fountains today. The water bubbled up out of the holes in the pavement. She shrieked with laughter as the stream of water got taller and taller, spraying her sweet, round face. I smiled.

She’s never experienced this before. Everything is so new.

And I think about how Easter was the start of God making everything new. How the human race was dying in their numbness and lack of compassion and passion, in their fear and hate, and suddenly now everyone can become like babies again.

Innocent.

Brand new.

Experiencing life like it is the first time.

Full of joy.

Because Love won. Passion kicked apathy’s ass. God made death absolute.

There is newness again.

Even in brokenness, there is beauty.

Even in the worst tragedies, there is redemption.

I know now what I am going to tell my daughter about Easter.

photo

Life began that day.

God died so he could live again, in us.

Now you don’t have to be afraid.

Now you don’t have to be alone.

Now you can feel everything,

Even the most tragic of heartbreaks. 

Now you can start living.

Because LIFE lives inside of you.

And I know I’ve got to do more than tell it. I’ve got to live it.

I’ve got to stop making excuses and overcomplicating things and waiting for someone else to fix my life or be my muse or bring my passion back. I have so much life and love all around me. I have today, and it’s an exquisite gift.

Now I can run towards what I fear.

The Three Births of Aurelia Claire

24 Jul

It’s close to four in the morning and I am awakened by the sound of my daughter crying. I slowly emerge out of a sleepy haze, rolling over to get out of bed. I pick my baby up out of her bassinet and try to comfort her. Her cry is loud now, reverberating across a silent house, her pink mouth wide open, waiting for me to feed her. For a moment I just want to drift back to sleep. Sweet, blissful sleep. I am then reminded of how just two weeks ago I longed so badly to hear her cry, and I would have traded every night of sound sleep just to hear her voice.

1.

It’s the sound we all hold our own breaths to hear, as a new baby enters our world and takes their first breath. My daughter struggled with hers, even after she let out her first glorious cry. For some reason we still don’t understand, her lungs never fully expelled the fluid inside them. She was born gasping for breath and we didn’t realize it at first. Everything about her looked alert and perfect, I couldn’t believe how flawless she was, not a wrinkle or imperfection.

I caught her myself after 10 hours of labor, 30 hours of water being broken, and 48 hours of no sleep. I pushed her out with a strength I didn’t think I had left, while on my hands and knees. I had already tried the relaxing birthing tub and every other position in the book, but her head was stuck, until that final, raw and real moment.  My midwife and birth team rushed to cover the beautiful wood floors with towels as Aurelia slipped into this world and into my arms.

I held her for an earth-shattering hour or so, the last time I would hold her until a week later.

The events after her birth were a gut-wrenching blur. Pure joy followed by overwhelming panic. She wouldn’t nurse, and showed signs of distress. She was given oxygen and a phone call was made. I got stitches. I rested in bed in the next room while medics wheeled in with the proper equipment to give my daughter the breath that she needed. It was storming hard outside, dark and foreboding. I couldn’t go with the ambulance, I wasn’t strong enough yet, I could barely stand. So my husband went. They rolled her into my room to say goodbye. I stood on shaky legs, holding onto the bed post, my vision blurring and blacking. I saw my precious baby hooked up like a science experiment, a pure, precious child inside of a machine with wires and tubes everywhere. I collapsed back on the bed sobbing.

No. This wasn’t our story.

I had just birthed a nearly nine pound baby with nothing to slow down the pain but my breathing. I have avoided hospitals my whole life, always gone “the natural way,” always assuming my body was fine and that it would fix itself. I believe very deeply God heals and protects. I rejected medical advise when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and opted to keep it in check myself through diet and exercise, which worked brilliantly. There were no complications and I was once again considered low-risk.

This NICU, this wasn’t our story.

I felt like I was in a bad dream when I finally arrived at the hospital. My father-in-law pushed my wheelchair through the endless maze of hospital corridors. I watched several cops run by us to a group of people standing at the end of a hall watching a man who was broken to pieces, yelling through his tears, “They told me he was alive!”

No. We didn’t belong here.

I was supposed to be enjoying the suite-like relaxing birth center, taking an herbal bath with Aurelia, eating a pancake breakfast in bed with my new, complete family.

We arrived to the hospital room with Louvier on the door, and there she was, hooked up to so many machines, sedated and far away from me like she never left my womb in the first place.

—————————————————–

the constant mechanical beeping reminds us

of these fragile lives

who came to earth to soon

hanging in the balance

a few numbers

determining survival

but the will to live is strong

it echoes through halls

if you tune out the dark

and choose to hear it

—————————————————

 

Everyone we met in the hospital had far worse stories than ours. Most couples had preemies who had been there for months. They had been traveling a long, hard road, and there seemed like no end to it. My heart broke every time I walked down the hall and heard the cries of those tiny infants, who often had no one to hold them besides busy nurses and an occasional emotionally frail parent who drove from a long distance away and could barely keep up with their lives back home.

I was humbled, every time I began to feel bad for myself. I know you can’t really downgrade your own pain by comparing your circumstances to others, it is still the most difficult thing I’ve ever been though. But I quickly saw the stark black and white difference my attitude and perspective made in my mood and my overall sanity.

Gratefulness became my lifeline, and as days passed there was more and more to be thankful for.

My baby got better every day. Every single thing they tested her for came back negative. There was no bigger issue, no abnormal development or defect. She was indeed perfect, she just had a rough start.

strong

The nurses changed every 12 hours. Most were excellent, a few were mediocre. One in particular, a cheery, round woman who had been working in the NICU for 25 years, was our own Mary Poppins, our angel. She came right in the middle of our stay and saw Aurelia as healthy and whole, and treated her so. She pushed the doctor to eliminate machines and slow down sedation drips. She even bent the rules so that I could hold my baby, even though I wasn’t supposed to because she still had an IV in.

2.

I walked into the room after one of my long, painful bathroom trips, and Mary Poppins was standing over Aurelia’s bed grinning. She had produced a festive red bow from her magic bag, and placed it on my baby’s sweet head. I stopped, choked up, staring at my baby who finally looked like a little girl, not just a sick child. I got situated in the oversized hospital recliner and the nurse placed Aurelia in my arms. That day was my “due date” and even though she came into the world the week before, I felt like she was being born all over again.

holding

Soon they removed the ventilator which had been keeping Aurelia silent. I waited for her cry, thinking it would happen immediately, but her poor voice box was all scratched from the tubes. A faint, hoarse noise slowly turned to a strong proclamation of life over the next 24 hours.

3.

Her “third birthday” happened a week later when the doctor finally declared her well and signed our discharge papers. We went home, exhausted and overwhelmed with emotion, knowing Aurelia had no medication, condition or even a diagnosis.

“Some babies just have a hard time transitioning,” our pediatrician who I nicknamed “the baby whisperer” explained when we went to our follow-up appointment. Aurelia screamed her lungs out to prove they worked, then calmed down immediately when he put her in a different position.

At home, we quickly fell into a routine and relaxed knowing that whatever normal, hard things we went through with adjusting to having a newborn, at least it wasn’t magnified in the hospital.

We were finally home.

———————————-

Hallelujah 

Every breath is a second chance

(Switchfoot)

———————————–

I don’t claim to know why things happen. I can’t justify the fact innocent babies suffer, and that while we have our happy ending, some in the NICU do not.

I do know that life is so unpredictable, no matter how well you plan and prepare you just never know what road you’ll have to walk down.

I know that you never know how strong you are until you are brought to your very weakest point.

I know that there is a transition that happens in that moment of utter brokeness:

His strength is made perfect in your weakness. 

I know that Grace and Comfort are there in that moment, and He is more real and tangible than the tears in your eyes and the pain in your heart.

I know that sometimes the smallest, more fragile looking things in life often carry the most strength.

And I know my girl has found her voice, and one day, the world will hear it.

 

 

Jean-Thomas wrote Aurelia this song when I was pregnant and sang it for her in the hospital. This was our Fourth of July celebration.

 

Beautiful girl in a beautiful world

Do you know just how much your worth?

Your dreams are already changing this earth

There is so much more you’re destined for 

There are those who’ll tell you you’re wrong

They will try to silence your song

But right here is where you belong

Take your dreams, sail away

 

You’re the dawn of a new day that’s breaking

A masterpiece still in the making

Blue in the ocean of grey

The birth of a star that sends darkness away

Be the hoper of hope far out of reach

Be the dreamer of dreams and impossible things

 

Though this world may try to define you

They can’t take the light that’s inside you

So don’t you dare try to hide

Let your fears fade away

 

You’re the dawn of a new day that’s breaking

A masterpiece still in the making

Blue in the ocean of grey

The birth of a star that sends darkness away

Be the hoper of hope far out of reach

Be the dreamer of dreams and impossible things

and impossible things

As the World Explodes with Love

21 May

 

I keep anticipating that moment

outside time

when my body releases yours

after it has held you so tight

and you become your own

 

but how can I anticipate

a bright star coming into existence

across a galaxy

 

how do I anticipate

seeing you

an oh-so-familiar stranger

part me

part the love of my life

part stardust

and fully you

 

and I’ll finally wake up

knowing fully well

that despite these fantastic

and extraordinary experiences

 

(backwards roads

upward waterfalls

circular emotion

upside-down love

infinite beauty)

 

they are faintly drawn lines

memories of someone else’s existence

when I think of participating

in giving life to you

 

and I’ll show you the light shining through the trees

and you’ll show me the endless skies you traveled from

we’ll be each other’s guides

across seas

beyond lands and galaxies

 

and I’ll teach you how to put words to these feelings

and you’ll remind me what it’s like to see the face of God

 

you’ll grow

and I’ll try my best to slow down time

and suddenly the universe will seem so small and wonderful

as the world explodes with love

 

 

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