Category Archives: FMF

My Bursting Heart MUST find vent at my Pen: Part II

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Late nights, long hours
Questions are drawn like a thin red line
No comfort left over
No safe harbor in sight-
Sara Groves

I am fighting all the firsts. The very earliest of word and examples I was taught. I am relearning. And I am weary.

It’s been quite some time since I’ve linked up with Five Minute Friday. It’s been some time since I’ve written regularly. You see, my words are not there. They are stuck inside. Somewhere fighting to find a voice, but feeling so small, so invaluable, so useless.

I am fighting my firsts. I am fighting all the things that were first told to me about how little I matter. I am fighting beliefs about who I was told I was. In some ways I can so clearly see God’s hand freeing me this past year. And in so many ways I also feel so intensely trapped inside, fighting, alone. More alone than I’ve ever known.

diggin in the dirt till it hurts
won’t come up for air don’t care
how long it takes me
I get tired want to just get by can’t I get by
but I can’t cuz there’s a
fire in my bones, fire in my bones
burnin in my bones -Sara Groves

I have joy. I am sure in my core I have much hope too. That’s the thing, my life looks very different than how I feel. And maybe that’s one of the marks of a disciple… that even though inside I feel confused, mixed up, alone, and very weary.. I am weak. I am tired. I long for an end in ways I am not sure any I know can relate to. But on the outside, I am striving. I am living. I am living so fully, vibrantly even. And it’s real. It is not a persona. Inside I can’t sense hope, but I know my life lives hope. Hope show’s up. Words of truth come out from my core, the core that’s been fighting to survive, to live, to grow for so long. It’s the fight of flesh.

oh I’m gonna find the truth
even if it kills me
oh I gotta get a new view
the only way I know to
oh I gotta keep my eyes wide open
keep my eyes wide open Sara Groves

I have seen His hand provide. And I am waiting on that again. The wait is long. It is hard. And there are so many firsts that keep pulling me down. I am crying for relief some days, for a way to voice, an avenue to cry out to, a God with skin on. I know God will be faithful again. And I wait, for the words to come again.

Really we don’t need much 

Just strength to believe
There’s honey in the rock,
There’s more than we see
In these patches of joy
These stretches of sorrow
There’s enough for today
There will be enough tomorrow-Sara Groves

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Sometimes waiting is the hardest thing

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Sometimes waiting is the hardest thing

New England Autumn is like none other. As a child, I was accustomed to the temperamental northeast weather. I paid little attention to it. I did not notice when the leaves changed. I enjoy crunching the them underneath my shoes and I also enjoyed crunching ice underneath as the frost and cold temperatures froze water. Spring meant a lot of work. Green. It’s what spring is all about…clearing the yard and preparing the garden, “spring” cleaning, mowing, hanging clothes to dry outside. You all would have thought we lived on a farm. I did not enjoy spring. And summer had one appeal to me: swimming.

Now as I am older, I have recently found myself having a hard time focusing on conversations if I am outdoors as these Autumn colors are grabbing at my attention, demanding I drink it all in, consume it. Bright pinks and stunning yellows. Mahogany’s and sunset oranges. I tried to wax leaves this year, as a way to preserve the colors to remember them by, but it doesn’t do the color justice. They are just so stunning.

In a week or two, the leaves will be no more here in New England. Barren trees and hiking paths and arbor ways. The winters can be painfully isolating. The house is cold. Outside is cold and wet and snowy. People are grumpy. It gets dark b y 4PM. Depression sets in for many people. And to be honest, I am still recovering from a brutal winter last season, a record breaking winter here in Boston.

And just when we think we can’t take it anymore, just as we start to wonder if it will ever become warm again, if winter will ever end, the green forsythia comes out. And it starts to bloom yellow, reminding us that spring is coming. One of the first signs of warmth and life amidst the slumbering winter temperatures. Green: a sign of life and growth and new beginning.

Things can feel awefully painful, even when we know the out come. Even when we are sure of what’s ahead, what is present remains challenging. I find this to be true of heaven and eternity. Even though I know that God is redeeming the brokenness, the sorrow, the grief.. even though I know there will be goodness and togetherness, it does not take away the pain of today, of the now. Life is hard and pain is deep. But right now, I can’t grasp what’s ahead, not in the ways I could at previous points in my life. Right now I’m in the stretch of winter, just trying to make it to spring, half knowing it has to come sometime, half trying to hope it still will, and a smidgen unsure at the moment. And that’s the reality of the roller coaster of my current life, somedays it’s bright pink and orange and blowing my mind, other days it’s green with growth and understanding, but many many days it’s dark and cold and feels bitter, and I just hold on. Waiting.

Because sometimes waiting is the hardest thing one can do.

FiveMinuteFriday: GREEN

31 Days of Writing

The Frailty of life

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The Frailty of life

It’s been a strange, beautiful, nostalgic New England weekend. It’s our first real cold weather. The trees are changing colors. Apple picking is in full swing. You can find pumpkin everything in nearly every store. It’s the time of season where you sort of get sick of apple pie and apple crisp that others bring to events to get rid of their apples.

Fall is strange. It’s the season that ushers in winter; the hard season. It’s as if God beautifully paints our foliage before the harshness comes. Fall is beautiful, but it leaves me anxious this year. The last few falls have been very difficult.  And I’m rolling with it, because I can’t do anything else. But anxiousness is hard. I’m not sure what to expect.

Today on the drive home from a weekend trip I just cried. Tears for people I love who are struggling. Tears for people I just want to make things right for, but can’t. So often I wish I could take their suffering, their hurt away, even if it cost me. Empathy is a gift, but it’s costly.

I see so much Jesus in you, not because you’re perfect, but because you’re not.

I came in my house and found a dear friend sitting there. SURPRISE. I literally leaped onto her on as she lounged on the couch, a full body embrace. We chatted and drank tea. We talked about the ups and downs of our week. I laid on her lap and wept. And she just rubbed my hair and proceeded to encourage me in ways my soul had been parched of for many seasons.

Often we are quick to point out others flaws. We continually remind others of them, things they need to work on. Not often enough do we tell people the things we see that are GOOD in them, the positive things, the things that are Jesus like. My dear friend said she remembered when I was near “perfect”. I did nothing wrong. I was semi stoic and had all the “right” doctrine for every issue. Now I am sort of this messy blob, trying to find my way half blinded, half hoping. She said she sees more Jesus in me than anyone she’s ever met, not because I’m perfect, but because I am not anymore, because I am so honest with my faults and failings and shortcomings, that Jesus is all the more real in me. That I still am able to do and be all that I am AND be a mess is a testimony of the power of God and the gifts he’s given me. WOW.

I talk to my counselors about you. I mean, who would send me an empathy card after I broke up with my boyfriend? Maybe people would send a card if they thought I was sick and dying, MAYBE, but for a break up? No one but you. You live as if you recognize the frailty of life and that grief comes from all sorts of places.

I don’t feel very hopeful often. But my dear friend pointed out that, though I may not feel hopeful, I LIVE with much hope, and that is much much greater. That’s real courage. Real integrity. I am involved in many things, pursue others, care well. I have every reason to have given up. But I have not. Friend said she has never met another person who loves people so personally by recognizing the frailty of life that each dear person has.

How encouraging to know that though I battle and fight many days and feel like a failure, my life is still lived with much hope and expectation and joy in God.

The world needs more people to embrace that which is GOOD in others and SPEAK it alive to them. No one will ever die saying they had too much encouragement. God can tear the things in our hearts down well enough. We don’t need one another doing it as well. Let’s be a people known for our exhortations, praise and gratitude, and affection for one another. A people that looks at the image of God in each person and declares it GOOD.

31 Days of Writing: Embrace

31 DAYS OF WRITING: Hoping, Healing, and Caring for those around us

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31 DAYS OF WRITING: Hoping, Healing, and Caring for those around us

For the next 31 days I’ll be writing about all sorts of pre-determined topics everyday on hoping, healing, and caring for those around us. Sometimes the most extraordinary thing we can do is live out lives aware and in tune with those around us, normal, thoughtful lives.  Scroll down for DAY 1 below.

DAY 1: A place called grief

It was 8PM on a weeknight. I sat at Starbucks with a tall decaf hot coffee in mid winter, desperate to not be overtaken by the wave of despair that seemed to creep into every ounce of my being when the sun went down during these 4:30PM New England winter daylight savings. I need light in a similar way that I need water, only not just any light, sunlight.

I looked around and wondered if anyone knew I was hurting. If anyone could hear my calling, crying, hoping. How many times had I sat in this same very place and not noticed or wondered if anyone around me was hurting, crying, hoping for something their own vocal chords could not convey. How many times had I been unaware of the agony that others were enduring?

And here I sat, desperately wanted to weep, but the tears wouldn’t come. They pain was agonizing, like shards of glass ripping me apart, only it wouldn’t stop. It’s surreal. There was no passing out from this pain, just the crippling anxiety of fear, of failure, of heart brokenness, shredding my heart to pieces. I wanted to scream, but nothing came.

I wrote one line down on a piece of paper. It was all I could do that day: “You are not a failure.” After staring for what felt like a decade, drips of water pounded and blurred the blue lines of the paper. I didn’t feel like I was crying, but tears crashed and splashed and blurred my one sentence until the words were almost no more.

Loss felt deep and piercing. Failure. I had failed numerously in ways I wasn’t aware. And in order to heal, to grow, I had to lose more. I had to step out of all I had known and step into what felt like utter darkness. That’s the thing about tragedy, death, disease, illness, loss, it puts you in this other category, the categories that no one wants to be in, the ones you don’t choose. And you probably won’t know what to do when you have to start living in it. I was trying so desperately for so long not to be in those categories. I fought them. But I could not longer. Whether I liked it or not, my world had changed and in the most painful of ways, God began calling me into a more rich, albeit far more painful place. A place called grief.

GRIEF

When my questions became lethal weapons

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I am not always sure God is good.

Yep. I went there.

For many years I knew much. I’m sort of that way. I read and analyze and digest. I remember things factually, repetitively, and could repeat them back as if I read them in a book. I had the book of James memorized. I was working on Hebrews.. if that gives you an idea…

And then my world crumbled in the worst and most painful of ways. Thinking about it all still takes my breath away some and leaves me with some stomach pain. My old world, it didn’t make sense anymore. Questions that had been there for many years became lethal weapons.

They could no longer be stifled.

They needed a space to breath.

I needed a space to breath.

And I doubted. I doubted God’s goodness and I often still do. I doubted God cared. I doubted others cared. I doubted I’d make it in life. I doubted others commitments to me and I doubted if God was really interested in me, if He cared for me, if He saw me, if He wanted me, if He was FOR me.

I was taught by precedence that doubting and questioning in the church-world wasn’t honorable. I felt ashamed of my doubt, of my questions. I began to feel like others saw me as a problem, but my life was just far more complex than most. And it’s actually these complexities that are bringing out the image of God in me, this place that struggles and doubts, but then comes forth with some sense of assurity, not so much in what I know, but in who I am.

And I’ve begun to realize it’s okay to not know. There’s a lot I don’t know. I can’t find stability in what I know anymore. My stability, my worth, isn’t from something I can manufacture.

I admire people who trust and believe with such purity. I really do. Each of us is so gifted differently, to work and strive and figure out this complexity. Mine will be one riddled with doubt and questioning, with fear and grief and inconsistency. But also with great awareness of grace, of gentleness, of commitment, of diligence. God’s not throwing me away because of my brokenness and inconsistencies. I’m staying in the process even though the process is anything but glamorous.

Because when I am dealing with doubt, God says that’s okay. Confusion? that’s okay too. Fear? Still ok. Faithlessness? ok. Anger?ok. Sadness? ok. Grief? ok. Depression, yea God still thinks you’re wonderful. He still wants you. The messy stuff, fear and doubt, anger, depression, etc. It’s okay. It’s okay to admit it. It’s okay to look at it. It’s okay to “miss the bar” in ministry. Because doctrine is what man sets up to understand the Bible. It’s important to many of us, but it can hinder and teach us to live and think in ways that actually keep us from knowing the fullness of God in Christ Jesus. Sometimes the things we set up to help us understand can be the same things that start to cripple us in bondage.

I thought I was ready for ministry. After all, it was about 8 years in before I started to go “downhill”, but friends, that’s a cultural ideology of ministry, this idea of “taking a wrong turn” or “going downhill”. Take a look at who Jesus picked as his first disciples. They totally missed the bar. NONE looked ready for ministry in the ways in which we judge and evaluate ministerial readiness. But Jesus valued them, even in their doubting and arrogance.

He loves us in our neediness and our brokenness, with all our doubts and fears. Afterall, what kind of Church is it where the sick can’t be sick?

And when the vicious waves of sadness or doubt  or anger or despair slam you onto the rocks and your tempted to hide, I hope you will know it’s okay if you want to hide, if you feel you need to, that’s ok. But also know you don’t have to. We’re all a bit more cracked and unkempt than we’d like to think we are. You’re not alone.

FMF:DOUBT

The bravest thing I ever did was continue my life when I wanted to die.

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In this house, we’re all about growth and celebrating.

My housemates and I were out to dinner one evening celebrating one of their birthdays, a housemate who just moved in the week prior. This new housemate was sort of blown away by how much care we took in celebrating her, someone we didn’t know, who hadn’t given us anything or done anything for us. She was new.. new to our home, new to the neighborhood, new to the city, even new to this part of the country. She didn’t know another soul around, except for the newly developed friendships in our house.

A current housemate shared with her that in this house, we’re all about growth and celebrating. And that, friends, made me feel much warmth inside. You see, for most of my life I’ve lived a certain way in order to meet a standard that I felt my community demanded of me. I felt unsafe in my household as a young person, with my relatives, and within my church community.  Living in such bonds and fear is crippling. Living in that during foundational years of your life, suffocating. There’s little growth when your trying to survive. Few, if any, saw me enough to celebrate me. I thought I wasn’t worth celebrating.

Over and over again I was told how brave I was in church, for living in what I did, for experiencing what I had. But no one actually knew what my life was really like. There were many well meaning assumptions made, but so very few, if even one, actually asked. I didn’t feel brave. I felt like a coward, living so terrified of life. I just had to suppress my real emotions to make everyone else comfortable, to make myself fit in, to make it. Shame. So much shame.

The bravest thing I ever did was continue my life when I wanted to die.

And I hit a point where I didn’t want to live. I’ve hit it many times if I am going to be honest here. The days when life feels bare and joy seems ripped out from beneath me and I’m clawing it back with everything that’s left. And I’m healing.

But I kept clawing. And fighting. And asking the Lord to break me all up and heal me. I’ve never been afraid of that, of the breaking. That’s the easy part for me. It’s the healing I don’t understand. It’s unconditional love I’ve never known. It’s sometimes the warmth that comes out of me at the most unexpected times, the tenderness, the weepiness, the empathy. It’s the healing part that’s hard, painful. That’s bravery. Surviving didn’t make me brave. Continuing to heal when I’ve wanted to die, that’s brave.

To tell you my purpose is to tell of Him

So here I am, serving the Lord with many tears and trials. Living in a home in which it is common places to celebrate small things, like Froyo Friday-just because we made it through another week, or celebrating a tough appointment or meeting or hard conversation with someone. So we go out, we order in, we bake some cupcakes, and we celebrate and record these small feats of growth as we serve the Lord with many tears and trials and claw our way towards hope and joy. And as we mend, we move from needing help to giving help, without even thinking of it. The process is not a waste of time if we’ve learned something. Because in this house we’re all about growth and celebrating and you can’t have one without the other (at least in our home).

FMF:Celebrate