carrying the burden

The ebb and flow of words
melts between us
two humbled souls
seeking truth
through written word
and pondered thoughts

sometimes the load
becomes heavy upon our shoulders
seeking out answers
forming opinions
taking in the every present world
and yet there is a quiet we know
and we search for

His hands are open wide
ready for embrace
we can crawl into His lap
we can hear him whisper peace
letting us know
He holds us, he holds it all

there is peace to be found
in letting Him reveal truth
in bringing those moments
to our minds and pen scratches

letting our souls fill
with knowledge he has revealed
no longer a heavy burden
but a dream that has been shared
and given to us for the taking
the holding on
the breathing out

inspired by my dear friend Kelli  and our conversation of today, linking with Jennifer and Emily

         

Advertisements

Mosaic

reading through my Facebook feed and I see a picture of a mosaic..and it resonates.

pieces of the broken, re-imagined into a beautiful work of art. The brokenness remains, and yet it has become so much a part of something more, something bigger than it was originally.

and in the midst of the hurt, the ache, the pieces of our heart that we think will never again be full or working ever again, there is a hand, one that reaches down, picks up the pieces, and tenderly begins to place them in a mosaic of beauty beyond anything we had ever begun to imagine if we had been the creative force.

The broken pieces seem to overwhelm these days. A blog writer extraordinaire who has longed for several years for children, found out upon the day of her child-to-be’s birth, that the birth mama had decided to keep him…12 hours after they received a picture of his birth. His crib was full of blankets, the clothes hung in his closet, pictures of animals adorned his walls a place full of vibrant life to be, now a stark reminder of a raw ache and blistering heart. Closing the door on this room, feels like a punch in the stomach, a sucking out of the last breathe of light…and still her and her husband fight on, for one more breathe, for that one spark of hope, for those broken pieces to be made into something beautiful only He can see and know.

A status update declaring a husband of 30 plus years has signed the paperwork for their divorce only a week ago and is already engaged to the ‘new love of his life’. And i realize that even though i didn’t know it, these two from my past, from my early years seemed infallible to me. They too have suffered deep and felt the cracks threaten their very lives. A vibrant teenage son passing away in the middle of the night from an unknown ailment. Several years of life altering surgery…and with these two tragic events, fissures begin to make themselves known in the relationships. Cracks that perhaps had been masked with basic repair, began to blast wide open, leaving heart break spread carelessly upon the ground, memories lay in cascading force, the blast from the betrayal all encompassing…and yet somewhere, I know that there is hope for her, though the light seems more than dim, barely a flicker.

And I read of a daughter dreamed of, a soul taken to heaven early in the pregnancy…a vision sparked to life and then sent to black and white, only shadows of the dream that was. Not only aching in heart and body, but the young boys who knew the life that had sparked, now speak to know of heaven and their sisters time spent in the arms of their Saviour. And the ribbons and lace, the sparkles of grace, now seem to be a figment, a dream that became a reality and then was snuffed out, like the last burning of that midnight oil. This heart break, this soul tear…this wounding of places so deep and vulnerable, seems that it will bleed forever. and yet, there is hope…the sunlight glistens through the black mask of grief, and that one shard that lights up and pierces through the grief, speaks of a renewal, of a piecing back together…of a hand at work, holding in comfort, picking up and carefully reassembling what was worldly broken.

and my heart aches. Because i know that pain. Because i know that sometimes all you want to do is scream into the silence, to let people know that you’re still alive and that you don’t understand why life continues on like nothing happened when inside its all you can do to try to hold yourself together. When you feel like you’ve fallen to pieces, that you look around you and there isn’t a piece of you that you can call whole…and yet you know, there is hope. That there is a spark, that no matter what, will not be relinquished. and that there is a beam of light, that tears through those places and begins to warm and heal. And that there is a mighty hand, a hand that knows the picture of perfection, that we are being made into a reflection of our broken, beautiful Saviour, more and more as the pieces become smooth and worn and more perfectly fit together into the picture only he can see, to the design only He can fashion in his own way.

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Rumi

   

colouring outside the lines


Coloring outside the lines is a fine art.  ~Kim Nance

(inspired by Kelli’s post today at The High Calling)

Somewhere after 2nd grade, I took an art class. A motley group of us met in the basement of a community church, and spent an hour ‘being creative’. I remember learning about the primary colors and mixing them together to make secondary and tertiary colors. I know that there was more to it than that, but those particular ‘skills’ are what I remember most about those classes.

When I was at teacher’s college, we had a class about teaching art in the classroom. It was one of my favorite classes because not only did we talk about art and art related things for an hour, but for the other hour we actually DID art. We made collages, plaster casts, charcoal etchings, etc. Each day brought something exciting that I had never done before, and I loved learning about it and then trying.

I don’t remember the context of this particular art class, but we were drawing something on a page…perhaps getting reading to make an ink print or something. As our teacher walked around the classroom, I remember her leaning over me and saying, ‘Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines. Don’t be afraid to take your picture off the paper.”  I stopped mid-creation and stared at her open mouthed. Outside the lines, off the paper…what on EARTH was she talking about?! “There are rules of coloring, of creating”…I thought, and those were two of the ones you absolutely didn’t violate.

I own a coloring book from when I was probably 4 or 5. In it there are some beautiful hand-drawn, whimsical pictures of scenes from Alaska. I remember sitting on the floor in the kitchen one day with my mom, and we each colored a page. The crayons were strewn around us as we worked on our masterpieces and I’m sure my tongue stuck out to the side as I concentrated. I was busy coloring, my images very imaginative and colors cascading across the page. I looked up for a moment to check on my mom, busy coloring on her page, and my crayon stopped what it was doing. I sat there entranced, as I watched her color carefully inside the lines, shading here and there as she went along and creating something I’m sure as a young child, I thought was a masterpiece.

Now, there isn’t a day when I sit down with crayons and coloring sheets and don’t think of my mom’s controlled and vibrant coloring that day. There isn’t a day when creativity hits that I don’t think of blending of colors to make new ones. But the very thought of taking something that had meant so much to me (coloring like my mom, having that control to keep the color contained, and discarding it) seemed almost blasphemous to my creative heart.

For a moment, my pencil lay poised atop my paper…caught in the cross hairs of what was and what possibly could be. A war raged within my mind, between control and release, old and new…and I was wary to touch pencil to paper without a firm conclusion in mind. And then I did it…i drew a line off the page. And it wasn’t just any old line, no this was a curving line, a line that vaulted its way off the page…making you follow it from left to right, top to bottom, turning the page over to see just where it might have gone. This was a line that took you on an unknown journey…because unlike my nicely drawn straight lines, and lines that just kissed the edge of my paper…this line spoke of freedom, of release, of unknown (Something that I very rarely am prone to indulge in).

Two Sunday’s ago…I found myself coloring with my 3 year old friend Madelyn. She has a Disney princess coloring book and we had settled down for some ‘girl time’ to color. She had fished out her favourite crayons from her drawing desk, threw her book open to a beautiful untouched page and declared it was time to color. I knew that it was up to me to ask what color she would like me to use, since she is very fond of certain colors and I didn’t want to perhaps mess up the book in some manner for her. I picked up a blue, asked if it was okay and what area of the book I was allowed to color in. She swept her arm across the page, pointing at the hair of a horse and said ‘There’ and I began to color the horses mane blue. If that had been my coloring book, the horses mane would have been light brown with some dark brown highlighting, perhaps a dark brown color for the body and green for its eyes…but there was no ‘my’ here, it was hers and her imaginations joy.

and I thought that while I wasn’t necessarily coloring outside the lines, I was definitely seeing the picture before me with new eyes. After all, who says that in a coloring book, a place full of imagination, that a horse’s mane can’t be blue..or purple or orange, or even rainbow colored for that matter. It was all about the perspective I had and the pre-conceived ideas I had.

and sometimes I wonder, what other areas of my life am I hold back in, following “the rules” I have in my head, in an area that I should be called to freedom in. and how often do I make a list of the way things ‘should be’ and how I ‘should be’ and forget about grace, forgiveness and mercy. In God’s creation, he definitely colored outside the lines, after all he was the one that put together this world full of amazing things that continue to blow our minds, scientifically and creatively. He was the one that set this creative desire within us, that opened our eyes to the colors of the sky, the sea, the sand; who opened our ears to the larks cry, the oceans roar and the wind’s wail and he opened our minds to the wonder of it all, the majesty of it all…

way too often, its far easier to try to ‘live within the lines’, to try to follow the law and forget about grace. There is a place for rules, there is a place for standards, I’m not saying throw it all to the wind, but there is also a place where grace sets us free, to see what lines beyond the lines, outside the colors we’d normally pick.

Perhaps there is an adventure awaiting just off the page…

its a vicious cycle

Illustrator Matt Kenyon

It has only come to me recently that I would like to know what being a woman really means. How that impacts my world. And how to embrace the fact that I AM a woman. As I reflect on some of the ways that I’ve been interacting in life in that past several years it has become clear to me, that I have rejected some very key elements of who I am.

Its hard to determine some days if my not caring about myself too much comes from a bit of the depression I struggle with or if its just a position I have adopted over the years as a cautionary step. I have struggled with my view of self for many years, and still don’t have a handle on it. I used to be much more vocal about how much I disliked who I am and what I thought my flaws were, but somewhere that became an internalized struggle.

When I originally cut my hair short, it was because I realized that 1) my hair was so thick and long that it was sooo hard to take care of consistently (i’m pretty low maintenance) and 2) it hurt every time i put it up, and I couldn’t stand it in my face, so it was up alot. When i sat in the hairdresser’s chair, I told her that I would close my eyes, she would cut and I wouldn’t open my eyes till she was finished. She didn’t believe me. I did it. I have to admit that when I saw all my hair gone I freaked out…but said I was fine. i then promptly went to the local drug store and bought approximately 100$ worth of makeup to help make me feel more feminine.

within a couple weeks a boy of 8 years of age completely devastated me when he told me that I looked like a man and that I was ugly. And yes, he was only 8, but I was particularly fragile at that point and so it went deep. I have had my hair different lengths since then but never too long again. Lately its been all I can do to last a month before I have it chopped off again.

there are days when I look in the mirror and am glad that I can carry the look off, and sometimes i just think that I look pretty nondescript. those are the days that i struggle most with embracing who I am as a woman. I rarely wear makeup anymore and most days I just dress comfortably. There is nothing wrong with either of these things, except they reflect the fact that I just don’t care too much about the way that I present or pamper myself. I don’t really see myself as worthy of that time or attention.

I have been reading some interesting feminist articles (that sometimes seem way too out there for me) but it has made me consider what it means to be a woman in the society of today. it has also made me realize that we have been called by God to BE women…i’m still trying to figure out what that looks like. But most of all i’m attempting to come to understand my femininity and how that will be used by Him in my journey.

This week in woman’s Bible study we started a course called True Woman 101: Divine Design. I was a little wary about some of the things that were said, and i’m still pondering them in my heart. I don’t think they were wrong, I just don’t think that I see things the same as some of what has been mentioned. However, in understanding who we are as women its important to attempt to understand men in part and their role in our lives as well.

This was fascinating for me. it was also very difficult for me, because I found myself being severely convicted of the manner in which I treat and interact with men. I realized that respect has not been a consideration in all but one of my relationships. In the past couple years I have come to realize that I have been at fault for some of the things that have gone in my relationships, but the one thing that stands out to me is that I’ve seen men as a means to an end.

I want to feel like I have a purpose as a person, perhaps even as a woman, and so having a boyfriend esteems that in my eyes. I get bored of them, for various reasons and then get heavily involved physically because there seems to be ‘nothing else to do’. This physical involvement has both grown and hindered my development as a woman. I have discovered many things that shock me about myself, but I’ve also realized how deeply tied my sense of self is to other’s finding me physically attractive. Some comments have been made that have made my heart grow stone cold in sorrow and pain, and it at first shocked me that those comments were so deeply tied to my sense of self worth.

A class I took in University was called ‘Body Image Issues’ and dealt with a whole manner of issues not usually discussed in Christ circles. The one thing that really stood out to me however was that in the raising up of woman as a result of feminism (of which I have been a beneficiary) has also resulted in the degradation of men and their role in society and the workplace. Men have been feminized and women masculinized in a sense and the dichotomy results in a suppression of men. There is a complaint that we are raising up a generation of men who are purposeless and in some sense I think that is a result of taking away some of the things that drive the very heart of man. Men need a purpose, they need something to do…and while I don’t believe that the power they are given in certain roles should be abused, I think that they need to know that leadership is still something which they have and are able to make use of. They are often problem solvers and heart warriors and when we strip them of these things, we find ourselves wondering ‘where are the REAL men out there?’ when perhaps we can say that there are those of us who have been responsible for this change.

Through my many friendships with guys growing up (and those only happened mostly in college and beyond) it seemed that more often than not I would turn into ‘one of the boys’. I could talk vulgarly like that, I knew what they liked in girls and I knew how to throw a sarcastic and cutting comment like no one else. they liked that about me and i felt ‘accepted’ and yet in the midst of it, i knew that i was giving up a very integral part of who I was/am. One day I was sitting on a boat with my ex-boyfriend and his friends and they were making comments about some girls who had come out to the lake to water-ski. I goaded them on in their sexist remarks and also commented on the girls themselves, all the while feeling a piece of me dying inside as my head screamed ‘LOOK AT ME, I’m a woman too!’

I am learning that I am worthwhile apart from the appreciation of males around me. I am learning that my brothers in Christ as well as my guy friends at work and elsewhere need and deserve my respect. I will not become a doormat, but I will build them up and esteem them in appropriate ways. I will encourage them to be who they are called to be. And I will seek to understand who I AM as a woman of God, and my role in uplifting them as men of God. I am thankful that I have come to a place where my heart is ready to HEAR this message and that it is something that I feel convicted about. The only real test now is will I actually strive to change my ways and put this all into practice.

connect with Emily at Imperfect Prose on Thursdays

the Passion is not pretty – an epistle

I am a sensitive person. I also have a visual memory. I have learned over the years that there are images and words spoken that will stay in my mind for a long time. As I have grown up, I have tried to limit certain intake that I knew would bother me.

I did not see “The Passion of the Christ” when it was released. I was thankful that someone had tried to make something that represented the story of Christ’s death and resurrection for all to see. I knew that I couldn’t watch it…it would be too real for me. And so I saw a couple pictures and realized I was probably right.

This year Lent came into my radar. Perhaps not for the first time, but the first time that I gave any thought to making it part of my spiritual life. And so after reading some very challenging posts by Margaret Feinberg in which she asked us to consider not only “to ask God what He’s calling you toward” but also “What do you want to lay hold of during Lent?

In some sense I had a good heart going in, but didn’t really know what it would look like. I have not been devoted in my reading of Scripture or of seeking what God is calling me towards in this specific 40 days that have been set apart. I have seen God challenging me in my pride, showing me my brokenness and bringing new life to scriptures I have seen previously. I am thankful that despite my unfaithfulness (as usual) he is faithful.

My church is a ‘church in a box’ which means we rent a property and upack and pack up church every Sunday. We have been doing this for 10 years or more. As a result we have had to be creative with our services, especially when days like Christmas Eve and Christmas lay on days we don’t have access to the school. So this year we are doing Easter a little differently, ‘Good Friday’ service will be this Sunday and ‘Easter Sunday’ will be on actual Easter Sunday.

as a means of getting our hearts ready to understand the horror and grace on Good Friday (the crucifixion of our Lord) a short video was shown in church. It made my stomach twist. I wanted to throw up. Every whip stroke on the back of the depiction of our Lord made my eyes well up with tears. The nail strikes and agony cries tore something deep within me and i realized that I had painted a picture that was somewhat more ‘pretty’ that the horror that took place that day. One of the images was something like this…

Passion Flogging-closeup-colored-web

and I wanted to turn away in horror. And i wondered, if i had been in the midst of those in the crowd, if I had been one of the followers at that time, if I would have turned away. If I would have abandoned my Saviour as what he went through was just ‘too much’ for me.

We have been reading through Genesis and exploring it in sermons for the past several months and its come alive in ways like never before. But the one thing that has most recently struck me is the story of the flood. It was created as such a fun, sanitized story growing up that the complete devastation of the World and God’s wrathful judgement upon the world were never something that were brought to light. Noah and his family being saved was grace, but that story is not all fun and games and brightly colored pictures. there is horror.

the same is true of the passion of Christ. While perhaps it wasn’t written in such ‘fun’ terms, it was certainly sanitized for those who are perhaps ‘faint of heart’. Very little blood, agony erased from his face, the destruction of his bodily form not found in too many depictions. And yet i wonder, was it people like me, who didn’t want to ‘see’ the true picture, turned away because it was just too horrible, that made a way for these depictions to be qualified as being true to the experience?

I gave up something for Lent. 40 days has been a long time. but 40 days was spent in the desert, without food and drink for the Lord. I am not sure the purpose of this time in the wilderness but i do know that his purpose in coming to earth was never far from His mind and as the time drew near, it was even more of a wrestling that his soul encountered. i can’t imagine the soul and body weakness that 40 days of fasting entails. i can’t imagine the depth of the agony and pain that his soul bore previous to the wrath of God being poured out on him for our sins. I can’t imagine that night in the garden where he was in such agony that his sweat turned to blood as he poured out his desire ‘that is there is another way, let it be. if not, they will be done’.

and i think about how ‘hard’ its been for me to give up what i have in life. How i’ve given in every now and again and turned my back on what i ‘gave up’. I haven’t pursued more of the Lord in this time, and I haven’t really sought what he’d have for me. and in the midst of this Lenten journey i’ve made it more of a ‘pretty’ and fun thing then the precursor to the cross that it is. And it took something very heart convicting and stomach churning to remind me of the cost. of the journey. of the days before this journey.

DSC_1346

Ann Voskamp has shard this image of a tool her family has to remind them of the journey of the cross. It lies in circular form with candles for each of the 40 days…and as the days progress the image of the Christ and his journey with the cross is moved closer to the center. Such a vivid reminder that this weight was on him, even in the 40 days as he faced the true testing of his humanity and spirit form.

yesterday I heard a song by Chris Tomlin called ‘White Flag’ and it was a rousing called to surrender all to Him. at the end there is a chorus chant that states ‘we lift the cross, lift it high’ and it struck me. Do we KNOW what this looks like? Do we understand the significance of the cross? of the suffering? of the complete agony suffered? the song was catchy, and I’m sure an amazing anthem of change in the hearts of many, but i wondered in the hype of singing such a song, if we truly understand (other than that one passion and tearfilled moment of singing) what that means. Do we even comprehend what taking up our cross looks like? what it might entail?

would it entail the change that the 40 days of Lent would turn into a lifetime of living changed…of a life always turned towards and revolving around the horror and the gift of the cross and what Christ accomplished in being THE sacrifice for our sins, the ONE AND ONLY complete means of satisfying our God’s wrath towards sin in the hearts of his created ones.

Freedom through word

I put words
like sacred morsels
on their tongue

freedom

enough

beautiful

and the heat which begins to

light
                          their
mouth

shares truth
and fills a void
as this word

lingers

and begins to feed their souls
their heart begins to quicken

their words
begin to
pour out

their tongue begins to
swell
with
words

words
words long hidden
words long forgotten
words pushed down deep
words that fear had held in bondage for so long
words that they had been told were blasphemy
words that they had been told were lies, mis-truth
words that didn’t want to be spoken again

that no one wanted to hear again
and yet
these words

                                      were truth

and as their voices rise

quiet at first
each word begins to speak

and as they find their voices
they begin
                   to shout
                                 to yell
                                            to scream

those words that had one held them so
so strongly
                   with a grip,
like a vise

words that had
brought their heads down
had laid them low
                                had caused them to be broken
and their hearts to no longer beat in rhythm

and as they fight
                             and as they stand
as their chains fall off
                                     as they face liberation

words rise up
in cacophony and surround them

and in this stream of words
in this cloud of words

they see
an image
that will
no longer be disregarded
but rather
seen by all

an image of who they are
                                            and who they are becoming

by Janel Andrews. Written down Mar 7/2013

(these words came to me on my drive home from work today. I turned on my voice recorder and this is what poured out of me. I am blessed.)

soul food

the thing about imperfect prose is that they are imperfect. sometimes the desire for perfection keeps me from throwing my words out there, as raw and real and unrefined as they are. and so for now, i strive to write.

for me words are soul food. soul food is known as southern food, rich, satisfying and sometimes for special occasions.

i love words. i have from an early age. i have consumed them desperately like a soul drowning longs for a life preserver. and yet i have found, that sometimes words are too much for me. I carry them long and hard within me…and they don’t satisfy or comfort, but rather cause a bit of heartburn.

i am a sensitive person. I am an intuitive person. as such, i often come away from words, taking the journey with me, each word going down deep into me, shaping a bit of my thinking, the way my heart burns for issues, a little bit of learning to see myself in a new light.

but the food i want to stay with me is the comforting food, the uplifting lilting voices. the words that often stick with me are the wounded ones, the ones that speak words that my voice seems unable to speak or perhaps speak of journeys i can’t even begin to fathom.

and so like feasting on a good ole southern meal, there is decadence and such amazing flavour and my tummy gets full, but as I linger on that food and eat just a bite more, i sense my body rebelling and the heartburn begins. i believe the indulgence was worth it. but perhaps more self awareness of when i’m really full would be best. the same with my intake of words…i need to step away from them sometimes, feel the silence envelope me, work through those words that are causing such discontent within me.

only then perhaps it will be safe again to return to the heart quickening consumption of these words.