Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Brontide

http://www.barefootblonde.com/2015/10/lately-6/

“Poets are always taking the weather so personally.”  J.D. Salinger  

Sometimes I think that truer words have never been spoken.  Whether it’s an ocean of west autumn mist or liquid light spilling onto the Chrysler building, there’s something about the elemental world that goes to my heart.   

Maybe you’ve felt it too.  How sunny afternoons can make a mockery of a brooding mind or how the rush of an unexpected breeze can feel like unseen wings pulling body and spirit up for just one more try.  Sometimes I sneak out to the porch in rare dawn moments when the little bears are still dreaming just to drink the morning in.  If it were possible to fill a thermos with the blessed air of that sixty degree stillness then perhaps weary months wouldn’t feel quite so parched.   

https://www.theodysseyonline.com/open-letter-upcoming-semester

This post is later than I meant it to be.  I’ve been sketching haiku experiments in my minimal spare time, and I think that it’s a good muscle building exercise for artists to try and create within existing boundaries.  Setting those wild horses free can produce amazing results, but we also need to rein in from time to time.  Try something new.  Explore stricter patterns and so challenge our skill set.  I didn’t produce perfect syllabic verse, but I’ll let you be the judge of which ones are faulty, if you have the patience.    

I’m not certain why I couldn’t escape the rain theme.  Certainly, I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met who didn’t love the perfume of a good summer downpour.  But for me it’s always felt more personal than that.  J.D. Salinger certainly has my number, and my pen.    

Rain refreshes and renews in such lovely mystery.  As children most of us knew the dance of the unabashed and splashed, skipping rubber boots across the sidewalk.  And did you ever wish you could shake hands with your reflection on the other side of the puddle?  I suspect that as adults we still harbor a small drip of joy within us whenever the first smattering of drops plucks the office window pane.  We want nothing more than to loosen ties, kick off our heels, and stomp through the wet, smashing expectations and shattering puddled mirrors as we go. 


http://szyszki.tumblr.com/post/40627336564

Sometimes life feels like a never ending series of waiting for the rain.  

Where the ground is crusted dry there’s an eye on the horizon.  When the mind is hot and bothered there’s an ear to the wind.  And if pain smothers with its thirsty heat, there’s a soul on its knees praying for thunder.
  
I can’t explain why peaces rushes in on a current of brontide, how that low gentle rumble strikes a deep chord of that wraps around my sternum and fortifies my spine.  From laden clouds blanketing the mountains to clear water washing suburb streets, I’ve always met a longing in the rain. 

Both familiar and distant, the untamed echo endlessly repeats.  A mighty hymn of the sky, a lullaby for the lost.  Each drop sings Amen, and within it I remember that the peace of God surpasses understanding, that beneath the Cross I can approach the throne where grace pours down.  I can be still in his presence and watch the living water bring life to brokenness, and even when trials dry and crack terrestrial clay that the rain is always coming, because the Lord is on his way.  


http://moonandtrees.tumblr.com/post/138375201956/graceupongrace-vadim-shindyapin

The August thunder
Billows in gun-metal banks,
Rolls sound through cooled calm.

Brontide of bass notes
Settles on souls, the might
Of an unworded song.

Turmoil crowns the air
Drums on mountains, notes flung high
And yet peace rains down.

Petrichor heralds
Wing from the deep of the sky
To bless weary feet.

Light splits veiling cloud
Parts nimbus seams, high to low
A breath of glory.

The storms remember.
Sirimiri winds blow.  
Oh spirit, wish me joy.     

Parched souls wash and drink
When heaven tears asunder
And broken skies pour.

Memory laden
This song of holy wonder
Is what I was made for.  


https://h-o-r-n-g-r-y.tumblr.com/post/126426214831

Happy Monsoon Season, everyone (if you live in the mountains that is).  I’ve not said all that I wanted to, and what I’ve been able to squeeze out onto the page doesn’t sound nearly as complete as it did in my head.  In addition to taking the weather personally, poets often struggle to truly capture the weight of all they feel.  Born into September, I was made for October, so maybe I love a good downpour simply because just for a little while I can don an oversized sweatshirt and pretend it’s fall.  In any case, I acknowledge that not all deluges are so tranquil as the ones I evidently prefer, but we’ll get to those some other time.  For now though, as we sojourn in the last of summer—

May you find a porch where you can rest and watch a good storm or two roll in.  

It’s ok to not be ok.  Sometimes clouds burst too.  Let the thunder crack you open and split your arid shell, where mercy can run into all the gaps. 

The rain is always coming, because He came, and the awesome might of His truth crowns the shower of His tenderness.

Peace and rain be with you all.     



http://www.barefootblonde.com/2015/07/peachy/


All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  2017.  

Images via:  thatkindofwoman.tumblr.com, szyszki.tumblr.com, sportsbrasandsitups.tumblr.com, barefootblonde.com, moonandtrees.tumblr.com, other-worldly.tumblr.com 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Jesse's Tree

“And now, in one hour’s time, I will be out there again.  I will raise my eyes and look down that corridor; four feet wide, with ten lonely seconds to justify my whole existence.” 
      -Chariots of Fire



Enough is a shadow that haunts faith, a lingering doubt that whispers fear along the edges of silence. 

Enough is condemnation that hollows a heart, a measurement bred for emptiness that knows fully the weight of lack. 

Enough is the word a mind wrestles to the floor while suffering storms in snarls of thunder that roll discordant sound through thoughts, crashing confusion into rooted trunks. 

And enough is the enemy that assails my home, first creeping into cracks, now howling at the door, but ever besieging what grace has built. 


If you’ve visited this little corner of the web in months past then doubtless you’re aware that I and my wee brave family have undergone some struggles in the past few years.  You’ve also likely observed that I’ve been markedly absent from the blogging arena. 

For months now I’ve grappled with if and how to get back here.  Questions of ability, timing, skill, and legitimacy all contended with the tremendous ache to pour passion into ink and graphite once more.  More than once I tried, casting lines of words that eventually proved incapable of picking up my abandoned threads. 

I got sick.  I waited.  I prayed.  It hurt.  I waited some more. 

There isn’t adequate space or readers’ patience to detail all that’s gone on since I went dark, but in brief the captain and I battled our way through ongoing health issues, pregnancy, stress, and a whole host of related struggles.  Illness wrenched much of my stability away by either removing or significantly reducing the pieces of my identity from hobbies and interests out into the wider depths of responsibility and purpose. 


You’ll have to forgive me a bit of melodrama, but sometimes my inner “Anne with an E” comes out when I write, and in this case I must say that I felt like my hopes had become a graveyard where my dreams came to die.  Doctors weren’t helpful.  I sold my horse.  Energy wilted.  Independence surrendered, and motherly patience fled before the full-body migraine that somehow found me every morning. 

Much of the emotion that erupted could be captured by the turmoil that tumbled out of my prayers when I was pregnant with my second little bear, because when I reached as far into myself as I could stretch I found only into a horrid desolation.
 
How could I care for a toddler and a new baby when I spent my days piloting the household from the couch and staking out the clock, counting the hours till the captain came home?  How could I continue telling stories when each concept had to fight its way through an intense mental fog without getting lost along the way?  And how could I gracefully bear the weight of pain when I didn’t have the emotional muscle love demanded in order to submit to a life disrupted? 


A week before I was schedule to be induced, baby number two still didn’t have a name.  The captain and I had considered and discarded several, but for some reason my thought came finally to rest on Jesse.  I love names, and these syllables sounded as though they began judiciously and ended bravely (see, there goes my Anne Shirley again!).    

As the season of Advent approached that year, I dwelt often on Isaiah 11:1 where the prophet paints a vision that begins with ashen strokes mourning the fall of King David’s family.  A felled line.  A mighty trunk ruined to a stump.  However, each word following boldly brushes hope into the gap.  From the nearly-dead stump of Jesse springs a shoot of new growth which will bear the fruit of the promised Messiah.  The root of the gospel, Emmanuel.   

God himself was bringing new life from a heap of sadness, because God was bringing himself to the children He loved.  The Law of Moses and the heritage of David’s glory were not sufficient to redeem Israel.  They were not enough.  But the Father poured His perfection into the barrenness of humanity, and as His Word marched on past the resurrection the holy pen continued to exhort believers to remember the sufficiency of His strength. 

I was not enough for Jesse, but my God was, and from the first moment I held my new baby I was touched by a love that defied my brokenness, the kind of strength that surpasses understanding.  God met my need by bringing himself into my not enough.  The days that followed were still crowded by dark, but it was as if someone had turned a night light on, perched on my left shoulder, dancing ever on the thin peripheral of my sight. 



Fast forward to now.  Fingers on the keys.  Eyes despairing at the date of my last post.  Standing in the middle of a story and trying to fight my way out, all the while wondering if it’s even possible to condense the mess of the last few years into a concise and meaningful blog update.  Extend to a bit of patience to me, and I’ll attempt to wrap this up for now.  
   
My health battle remains both painful and present, but slow gains are finally being made.  And the grace of perspective reminds me that there is still a vastness of thanksgiving to be brought before His gates. 

With my publisher in prison for fraud and extortion, my first professional aspirations have been gutted, and for other reasons I am seriously examining my ambition to write at all, but perhaps other hopes will meet me.  

I’m unhorsed for the first time in almost a decade, but the Lord has provided a friend to share her equine blessings with me.  

A posture of submission and death is the painful hallmark of growing, but I have chosen to continue committing my worth and purpose to Christ.  It was His to begin with.

I thank you for returning with me, and I pray that in the months to come we will be well met on this page once again.



The army of “not enough” assembles daily against domesticity, artistry, identity, and against holiness.  And never in my life has the gravity of my inadequacy been so oppressive.  But in all things I am continuing to learn how to say “my soul magnifies the Lord.  Yes, even here.”  
   
And with every fold of submission, the spirit of peace rushes into forgotten spaces.  

That glory, the gold of stillness that stands in all a soul’s gaps and empties himself into the weight of my lack.  


"Out of the stump of David's family will grow a shoot--yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.”  (Isaiah 11:1) 


All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  2017.  
Images via:  ebay.de, Emily Borowski, oh-darling-lets-be-adventurers.tumblr.com, HuffPost, danielwellington.com, flickr.com,  

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Go West

"He stood at the edge of the river, gaze slowly shifting between the mountain valley of the Lord’s Bounty and his friend’s unrelenting quest for gold.  'We’re free,' he insisted.  'The two freest men in all the world…isn’t it enough?'  
The Frenchman’s sharp eyes met the Scotsman’s disbelief. 'Is it for you, mon ami?'
'Aye,' Mckeag said softly.  'And always will be.'  
                           -“The Yellow Apron.”  Centennial, 1978  


The call slips cool through morning light,
Hides quiet in the gold that admits the day.
Go west, young man,
Come up, brave heart,
It’s long since you were away.
Escape the concrete, weary bones,
Unburden your soul of highway dust,
Drapetomani 
Run barefoot in beauty,
Find peace, for a time, in holy wanderlust.


Where shekinah rests on the mountains,
Draw near and find your rest.
Tabernacles of stone,
Restore faith once more,
To the limping spirit still blessed.
When shalom wraps ‘round in a flannel,
Steel string psalms float raw and bare,
Toward hope again,
Not to last, but to live,
And eternity echoes through star-pricked air.


Where enamelware pours the coffee hot,
And its warmth unburdens clouded eyes,
The limbs bow low,
In bodily prayer,
To salute the Son, to stretch and rise.
The altitude reveals the truth,
High Country calls me to learn and grow,
The journey ahead,
Down to low places led,
Cannot stifle the promise that leads us on.


In those sacred days of westering,
The Shabbat that heals the faith once more,
Compels obedience,
Renews the spirit,
To fulfill what the Lord has made him for.
And though hell and suffering bar the way,
Calvary has crushed a victory through,
Over shadow grace sings,
To our hearts bestows things,
That the angels of heaven only wish they knew.    



“When you meet me here again, you will have come to stay. But not now. You must 
go back to your own world for a while.”  
-Aslan, The Silver Chair



All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  Neal.  2016.  
Images via:  Eru Illuvatar, tumblr.com, and Josh Abe.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Deep

“Come, let me breathe on you.  Now are you brave again?” (Aslan, Prince Caspian).


Water
Dipping a toe in and feeling the liquid-cool creep up my skin.  
Jumping in is always the hardest part.  
Creation of the dust, my humanity thirsts for that which gives life.  
From craving tongue to the searching heart, only a true reflection pours peace.  
Satisfaction for the parched soul staring back up at me, 
Imago Dei.  


Sometimes I strip the shoes and curl toes in the dirt of my making,
Feeling the firm grounding of a foundation that anchors the soul.  
But today the terrestrial weighs heavy,
The curse of this fallen soil.
A cracked and thirsty pavement dragging me earthward,  
Antithesis of the eternal,  
Deserts waging war against my soul.  
But the music draws me in, slips my skin under the surface of liquid song, 
Of gravity suspended.  


Clear and sharp, now muted soft,
Rolling in waves that echo endlessly on the shore. 
Truth resounds in my soul,
Smooths across pebbles shaped by a permanent dwelling in the deep.  
I need to stay here for awhile,
Listening.  
Rippling with the same breath of the Genesis creation. 
Hovering over the water, it surrounds me.  
Hello, Holy Spirit.  
How often do I forget that living water is alive?  
I am a mariner with a mountain soul,  
A mermaid seeking streams and lakes in the high places above all that is below. 
I want to see the sunlight diving into patterns of gold-rimmed aqua,
Ever dancing, never ceasing.  
Borealis of the blue world.  


With waves encamped around me, I am held. 
Cradled by the might of raw strength that soothes with gentle beauty,
Crushes the enemy and cleanses what is unclean.  
Here, tears may mingle free with Calvary’s water,
Blood of a pierced Messiah that covers me still.  
Take me where my feet can no longer touch the depth, beyond where human breath can carry the lungs.  
A longing to be forever caught up in the holy flood.  


Soon, all ransomed hearts will come home here to stay,
Forever a part of the restoration that welcomes into the deep, 
Flowing with a healing that raises the dead.   
But for now I swim the tide, 
Surrendering anew to the only water that quenches the thirsty soul and stills all earthly clamor.  
In the water I listen to remember the truth,
Have you heard it too?
How the tide of victory has swallowed up suffering.  
Every brook murmurs peace
And each wave whispers,
Shalom.  



Friday, July 15, 2016

Letters From War

“When life is hard, remember that we are not the first to ask ‘Is there no other way?’”
-Jeffrey Holland.


A poet’s soul is a strange thing.

Of a depth unknown, save to its maker.  Curved by feeling and branching wide beneath a burden that is the world itself, who can understand it?

Yet like Anne Shirley, I have come to suspect that kindred spirits are not now so rare as I used to think, and though the poet may spend his days trying to capture what escapes the tongue and translate the heart, he is aware that even the least poetic of eyes knows what it looks like to see visions shatter.


What if I were to ask you what it sounded like to hear a dream die, or what faith feels like as it stretches to its tensile limits, reaching for a hope that seems to be receding like the betrayal of the tide?

Somewhere—caught up in those tangles, you’re likely to find me.

On any given day I wage war.


Trapped in a weakened body, assaulted by feeling, and caught in a fierce and ongoing brawl between a burdened heart and a soul dedicated to God.

It’s taken me months to even begin to give shape to the madness that has slowly descended, and I may never be able to fully paint an accurate image for others to hold.  But despite my reservations regarding vulnerability, here’s a brief account concerning my lack of online presence, the delay of my publishing endeavors, and my general withdrawal from life for the time being.

On the quiet days, when the smoke and skirmishes are somewhat distant, I’m slowly shaping the courage to say:


Dear World,

It’s me.
 
I know I haven’t blogged like I said I would, and the cyber-dust that coats my story files is likely centimeters thick.  I know I said I’d publish my next book soon, and I’m sorry I haven’t crafted one word in months.  I’ve become the negligent horse owner that I swore I would never allow to develop, and the tornado carnage that is several places of the house have been unattended since December.  My once marathon-ready creative muscles have slowly shrunken on the couch in front of a TV screen that would rather watch Food Network re-runs than write, because the effort it would demand from me has suddenly become too much.  

Confused?  Me too.  But let me try and explain.


After months and months of weird diets, doctor’s visits, innumerable blood draws, and many prayers, I left Mayo Clinic with the somewhat nebulous, yet still ominous diagnosis of dysautonomia, one that threatened to impact my life the way a cluster of mounting clouds turns to steel and thunder.  Vague though its presence is, it warns you of its power and declares that you haven’t even yet begun to feel the full force of its heaviness.

Now stricken with a chronic and so-far incurable illness, the Captain, the man cub, and I clumsily navigate through the world of POTS during pregnancy, while trying to maintain some shred of normalcy wherever we can.

It all sounds quite melodramatic.  Trust me, I know.  An appraisal of my appearance likely won’t yield any evidence other than the often weary face of a mom or other hard worker.  Besides, I’m also an accomplished performer (read: faker), and I wear the mask of “just fine thanks” very well.  That’s because the ugliness of illness doesn’t appear on my skin, it’s in my blood, in my heart rate, in my stomach, and in my brain.  Add to that the reality of pregnancy, and each symptom nearly doubles in discomfort.


I smiled and chatted with the barista at the local coffee shop today, but I’m sure he couldn’t see that I was literally counting the seconds until I could grab my iced coffee and collapse onto a nearby couch, because I was afraid I was going to pass out.

Even as our little family prays its way through each day, and sometimes each night, discouragement and confusion are a constant threat.  It seems more than reasonable to accept that important lessons often take a season of stretching and growing to fully learn, for the heart to embrace.  Yet, somehow when it comes to the Christian walk, it feels as though there’s tremendous pressure to read a few verses on joy and instantly demonstrate a flood of trust and contentment lest our fellow church-goers look down on our lack of faith.

I do trust, most wholeheartedly, but I am still learning, and this journey is painfully difficult.  I ask God to help my unbelief, because I’m just not strong enough.


I want desperately to accept these life changes and be on my merry Christian way.

But the truth is—I’m heartbroken.

It hurts to constantly be on the phone enlisting the help of others to take care my beautiful boy, when I want nothing more than to be the mommy he needs, the one who isn’t too exhausted to chase him around the backyard with the three legged dog, or one who bears a patience that isn’t constantly harassed by a body that complains of an illness that few can fully understand.

I ache to fire off e-mails to contacts in the equestrian community querying if anyone is in the market for a sweet horse, the same hazel coated pearl that I scrimped, saved, sweated, hoped, dreamed, and prayed for since I was eleven years old.  The prize that I fought so hard to love and learn with, and for which I once gave almost every cent I owned.

Soon he will likely disappear into the back of another’s big white trailer and be hauled away by a soul who might never understand that he was once the answer to a little girl’s prayers.  


I gaze at the hiking trails from my porch and sigh as I turn back to my doctor-recommended recumbent bike (i.e. an uninspiring treadmill with pedals).  Frozen meals now dominate the majority of the freezer space, and worst of all, I rarely write.

When the Captain and I prayerfully sought publication for my first novel, we were at peace with what felt like God’s blessing.  Therefore we didn’t imagine pouring blood, sweat, and tears into a publishing process after years upon years of prayer and labor, only to grind to a painful halt smack dab in the very middle of it all.

Books events, consistent work, never ending miscommunication with publishing representatives—in no time it was all too much, and it hurts even more to admit it, to have tried my hardest and failed to succeed.  

It’s an ongoing wrestling match to consider abandoning the profession I’ve spent so long creating, but the worst blow was far harder, and that was to tuck away everything else as well—all the writing, all the stories, all the words, all of it, because my mind and body were simply too weak and tired to keep up.

In summation, I’m truly not sure how to condense all that’s happened and explain the details of our situation.  There is still so much we don’t know, and whether or not I’ll be able to resume any part of my so-called normal life after pregnancy remains to be seen.  At the moment the future is even more of a mystery than feels typical, and that is hard.


I have not given up, and I trust my Lord absolutely.  I don’t know what he is doing, but I know that he is good, and it’s that truth that I will continue to rest on.

However, if you see me, be gentle with my and have patience.  I still feel as though I’ve been robbed of some of the most personal and important pieces of myself, and it’s often unbearably painful to think that I may never live, work, write, ride, or anything else the same way again.  Some of my most precious dreams are dying in my arms, and I do not yet know if or how they may be resurrected.

I hope to continue working on my novel’s sequel, and I am actively exercising in ways that may relieve me of my POTS someday.  But most days I am somewhere along the difficult cycle of hurting, healing, and then hurting all over again, and I feel as though I am merely an observer on the sidelines, not simply resting but watching life go by without me.

Bear with me, if you dare.  I plan on saving whatever drops of energy I can in order to continue writing, however inconsistently.

Prayers are appreciated, fellowship is treasured, and for the time being cookie dough will continue to be praised for its emotional if not entirely physical health benefits.


For now we’ll keep fighting, and I’ll continue to write these “letters” whenever I’m able.  They say that dry days are kindling for burning bushes, for holy experiences with God (Voskamp).

You may find me knitting a baby blanket while the man cub splashes in his redneck swimming pool on the porch, or you might see the Captain and I quietly holding hands and swinging side by side on a hammock in the dark.

We’re a bit beaten up at the moment, but we’re also choosing to trust in the one who is able to raise the dead, and if this letter reaches you on the homefront, then you can tell anyone straight from our hearts:

God is still good, and he is on the move.  



For more information on POTS and dysautonomia, you're welcome to check out a few of these informational resources:  

http://www.dysautonomiainternational.org/page.php?ID=30

http://diseasescure.pw/when-you-love-someone-with-postural-orthostatic-tachycardia-syndrome/

All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  2016.  
Images via:  M.J. Neal 




 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"We Interrupt this Program..."

 

I climbed a tree the other day, because I wanted to fill my lungs with the living breeze, to feel the wind lift the dust from my spirit, stir it to life, and sweep the cobwebs from my soul.  Emerging from winter, worn out.  Entering spring a bit stiff with the must and rust of year-long wrestling match still clinging to my elbows and knees.  

I crawled into a patch of sunlight yesterday.  Into that tipped-over gold that spilled yellow over the rocking chair, eyes closed, praying for the warm to drive the shadows from my thought and sear the sickness from my body.  



Sometimes your jar of clay wages an ever-present conflict with maladies both persistent and insidious.  The days slide dull through blurred vision, and you testily give your attitude a few bracing slaps each day, because for some terrible reason, when the physical is under siege, patience is the first deserter.   

Over the battle-shredded radio waves, mostly static fills the ears with a dull buzz, pressing on to saturate even the spirit, if allowed the opportunity.  Every once in awhile, threads of a broadcast break through, but now the voices sound foreign, unfamiliar, and the only recognizable phrase is the glaring announcement repeated again and again.  

A program interrupted.  Life interrupted.  A declaration of war with as yet no foreseeable conclusion.  


In a post-Calvary world where the hurried heart walks spiritually slow, how do you savor joy and time when each stretched-out minute feels as though it only prolongs an agony, smears salt in a wound?   

Where does a fugitive find a day’s refuge or a soldier secure contentment when the desire of each second is for the nightmare to be over and the war to come to an end? 

In such times life speaks a language you feel like you can no longer understand, and each word twists confusion and displacement that redirect your course with painful detours. 



As an exile, you wander trying to keep the stitches of what’s left together.  As a fighter you march into each day struggling to drive a ravenous enemy from the bones of your borders.  And on the home front, you control the damage as best you can, looking to a horizon you pray will spell the dawn.  

Life interrupted means a loss of control, a snatching of the map you’ve made to plot your course.  Navigation flounders on foreign soil, and the only alternative to stumbling through the dark is to bend the knee and look up.  Above the path of human navigation glitters a reminder woven into the fabric of creation itself.  


On the darkest of nights, when thick ink fills the foxhole serving as shelter, stars glitter fierce and bright overhead, inviting the heart to remember, to recall that men were finding their way by the light of I AM long before the sonar and the GPS. 

In drawn-out assaults where ugliness scrawls graffiti over grace and the mirror displays only a poor photocopy of the reflection you know, you thrash and fight to remember God is good.  When you’re positive that whatever the difficult days were designed to teach you is a lesson you are thoroughly botching, your lungs fight to gasp out “Amen.”  


The body:  a battleground.  

The life:  war-torn 

But even the ambushes that mount against you cannot catch your God off guard.  Is even an emergency surprising to the one who stands beyond time?  “Little by little, one travels far.”  

The cross rose in victory that has already crushed the forces of the enemy, decimating his power.  And though the way is often milestoned by suffering, the one who is risen bears our pain as his own and gently prunes the thorns from our hearts.  

Maybe I’ll climb a tree tomorrow, stealing soft into a sniper’s perch not to watch for the enemy, but to sight and guard the weapon of joy provided as a shield to repel his strikes. 


Perhaps I’ll secure a place of sunshine, praying for a spirit that cleanses the soul with peace amidst pain and de-fragments the static of an interrupted broadcast trying to drown God’s goodness. 

The hands on the trigger may bleed, and the kneeling knees may bruise, but in the strength of the Father the petitioning lips can whisper, “And if not—He is still God.”  

Chin up, broken-heart, for He is near.  Take heart, weary one.  To suffer is not to sin.  

Have hope, because the cross secured a victory that ultimately freed your soul from the chain of this world.  The tomb was empty, and if there were one memory you could retain, that’s the one should choose, because it alone is joy enough to fill one thousand interrupted lives.    
   


 Images via:  mission4today.com, ebay.com, buzzfeed.com, tumblr.com, Travelblog, carlylynn.com, goodbyehousehellohome.com

All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  2016.  

 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

{Un}Real



I hung up the phone after leaving a message for my publisher for what felt like the twentieth time that week, feeling as though this entire book endeavor was turning out to be somewhat of a disaster.  After all, miscommunication and squashed expectations seemed to be our unfortunate MO.  

But amidst the disappointments and frustrations that were relentlessly dotting this difficult time of stretching and hard learning, I had to remember my purpose in all this mess, one that I had long since entrusted to mighty hands far more capable than I.  

I didn’t start out to be John Grisham.  I don’t write to sell millions of copies, and I think you’ll find that underneath the inky epidermis of it all, many storytellers feel the same way.  After all, it isn’t J.K. Rowling’s millions that we’re truly desirous of.  It’s not her fame, popularity, or material wealth that prod the dull ache in our hearts.  Certainly those things would be nice benefits, but what it comes down to is this:  



Impact.  

The weight of significance that satisfies something in a reader’s soul. 

It’s the “in” she has, the opportunity, talent, and ability to touch millions of lives with make believe, and for those of us who long to share the good news through our writing, this might be our deepest envy.  

Rowling’s books were certainly the center of controversy among believers, and we must absolutely take care what voices we allow to speak into young minds, but the lesson I’d like to point out is this, “Look!  Right there—did you miss it?  How millions of all ages devoured a single story?  Did you see the entire generation of middle school boys now reading for fun, or the adults still waving their ballpoint pens like wands when they think no one is looking?” 



Literary fallout can be a colossal force.  The hearts of this world are hungry, starved in fact for something that will make them feel whole, and what better opportunity for those who bear the sign of the cross than to write living water into the ink of books?  

Barnes and Noble shelves bend with paranormal romance, and Amazon networks are saturated by fifty shades of the same old thing, but unless a tale is bound by something beyond this world then the ultimate result will still eave spirits empty once more, empty and searching for the elusive echo of joy that rings raw in the hollow soul. 

I didn’t become a vegetarian after reading Charlotte’s Web, and Richard Adams’ work didn’t see me scrambling to secure rabbit rights.  I knew they were stories in the end.  But even among the whimsy of the imaginary something within me was moved, insatiably stirred by the constant anthem that there was more to this world than what I could see.  That life, death, beauty, and sorrow were more than a handful of rocks and bacteria thrown carelessly together by chance collision.  I read because I needed to know that there was more than all this.  That’s the magic of it.  That is why we need books, perhaps now more than ever before. 
   


There.  Did you catch that?  The tangible, redeemable, and live-giving thing that can be plucked from between the pages?  

Love, pain, justice, mercy, meaning—Truth.   

There is an open door in the literary realm, a perilous quest awaiting the pens of those called to proclaim the living God, the triumph of grace.  

Certainly not all books are created equal, and the discerning heart would be wise to sift through what he reads and what he chooses to fill his mind with.  For the enemy is here too, lurking between the lines and prowling, claws extended, along the spines.  But what I hope to impart is this, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  


Whether in writing or in any other field, let us minister through our excellence, marrying quality with the holiness that pierces the shadow and satisfies the soul.  

I will never be Harper Lee, but I write to light the dark, and in that endeavor I know that my God is able to turn even failures into instruments for his glory.  

Want to open a book and drink in the light with me? 
  
In the paths of pages, we just might find our way home again. This is the truth that children cling to and adults allow the years to tuck away:  

When what is unreal becomes real, magic becomes more than make believe.  



Images via:  Tumblr.com, Susan Tuttle Photography, domainehome.com, inspire we trust, and Graeme Smith.  
All work subject to copyright by the author.  Use by permission only.  Copyright 2016.