Thursday, December 11, 2014

savoring the book {Portals of Water and Wine}

{photo by Emily + Joel}
you have the ability. I push you because I know you can. so go and do. you don't have an excuse. 

I was sixteen, perched in an uncomfortable metal folding chair, my too-heavy backpack leaning against my calves while Jane Austen nestled on the table in front of me. all the other students had left. it was just me and my Literature teacher, her black dress severe as a Bronte sister and her eyes piercing with knowledge.

you don't have an excuse. she tapped the paper in front of me, covered in scrawling red pen. rewrite this. I won't even grade this one. you can do better. so much better. 

and so I did. I wrote. I wrote papers until midnight the day they were due. I read books and underlined and highlighted sections and fiddled with weirdly thick paper from the Barnes and Noble "Classics" section.

I never stopped. even after school was long over and those books were tucked away into the first, and then the second, batch of moving boxes, I never stopped.

and then I wrote a book of my own.

{you can find the paperback version here and Goodreads here}

:: :: :: 

Naya lives in chaos. Her family is shredded, with only bare threads of her long-dead mother and her absent father still lingering in her house. And then she hears the name -- Alonthiel -- spoken as a promise of freedom and escape, if only for one fleeting summer. 
And so she goes, hand in hand with her two best friends, allowing herself to slip into a new world of ancient origins, magical and sacred. 
Inside the gates of the hidden Fae city, Naya finds more than she could have ever dreamed. So much is waiting for her: magic, strength, and answers to the secrets kept from her since the death of her mother -- all lingering mere miles from her doorstep.
 But when a dark force threatens to raze her newfound home, leaving only rivers of blood in its wake, she must harness her fire -- or watch Alonthiel fall.
{photo by Emily + Joel}

:: :: :: 

it's been out for eleven days now. honestly, I've been buried in the swirl of book sales and the tummy-lurches of pregnancy's first trimester. that's part of the reason that I haven't shared about the book in these past days since release. 

the other reason? I've been carrying it all in my heart, savoring and treasuring it like Mary did as her growing Son changed her paradigm on a daily basis. 

I wrote a book. I never had any excuses. 

{all the photos in this post were taken at my release party. we were able to record the Google Hangout where I did a short reading/Q&A from the book, which you can watch for yourself right here.}

Monday, November 17, 2014

the synchronicity of birthing

{via pinterest
when I started 2014, He gave me a word :: precipice. and I knew it was a scary word, a big word, a word that held a lot of power and shivering potential. and it might not all be good. because weather high-up can be harsher than the weather close to the ground. when the word found its home inside me, I literally shook and sobbed and begged for another. because I knew :: big things, heavy things. and I was afraid.

I had no idea.

I lost another grandmother, the second in twelve months. upheaval became the name of the game. there was emotional turmoil, loss and brokenness in a community that I thought was solid ground. my family groaned under the weight of ache after broken-hearted ache.

and in the moments between the weeping, I wrote a book. words became sentences became paragraphs became pages became chapters because an entire volume. and yesterday, I finished it. officially. the proofing is done, the uploads are complete, the cover is the correct size. and then I clicked the button and ordered fifty copies. thirty-nine copies are already spoken for, which is overwhelming and more than I ever expected.

but on Friday, two days before, we got more news.

our family is growing. 
another tiny pair of feet are forming beneath my skin. 

and again comes the feelings of unworthiness, like last time. but this time, there is something more. there is something powerful that drowns out all the whispers of fears and cries of "too much too soon all at once." 

there is hope. there is a breath of restorative life. there is an echo of synchronicity that I've been waiting for...finally. it's been forever. 

this year, this precipice year, it has been a year of "He takes, blessed be. He takes, blessed be. oh, again, He takes. blessed be..." and the words have started to falter on my tongue, quivering as though I might not believe them as much as I did the first time. my lips ache from the wind-burn of being so extended on this precipice, and my fingers are bleeding from the grip against the stone.

and then I remember that He makes the stone crack. that death starts working backwards.

this year has been heavy. but now there is life. 

life on paper, words from my own soul escaping into the world. 
and life under skin, growing to be birthed into the world when the appointed time comes. 

abundant, He promised. 
life. 



Monday, November 10, 2014

the sufficiency in price tags

{photo via Unsplash}
I've reached the point, the rather terrifying reality, that people -- strangers and friends alike -- are going to be paying good, hard-earned money for my book.

I feel awkward even attempting to write this post. my guilt is irrational, silly even. and it all comes down to self-doubt. a mistrust in my own words.

the fact that my words are being brought down to dollars and cents makes me uncomfortable. mostly because I'm facing the weird reality that my words are actually worth people reaching into their wallets and pressing money into my palm. that the nine months I've spent pouring my soul into vowels and consonants and syllables and paragraphs are actually worthy of purchase.

:: it almost feels like I'm putting my soul on the market. 

people ask me all the time what this book is about. it's the first question that comes after the words "I wrote a book" leave my mouth. and my answers have been stumbling, faltering, mostly some excuse as to how it's "a faerie tale" and "I feel so silly." but recently, I've started channeling the way I feel about this book into my explanation.

so really, it comes down to this.

this story isn't about Faeries. well, it is, but not really. it's about people. it's about magic that IS them, that is an extension of who they are. and isn't that kinda deep, in a way? so what, it's not an existential theory. so what, it's fiction and fantasy. 

so what, maybe I want to be like J.K. Rowling when I grow up.

and you know something? people pay for J.K's books. she doesn't just drop them like manna from the skies. she presses those hefty volumes into hearts and whispers, "they cost money because I know they're worth every cent."

and my book isn't Harry Potter. because I'm not J.K. and my book isn't The Fault in Our Stars. because I'm no John Green.

but pricetags don't equal selling my soul. they mean that I'm putting value on myself, assigning value to my art and my words and my work.

and I can't help but lean heavy on the words Aslan spoke to a frightened boy-turned-king:

"if you had felt yourself sufficient, it would have been proof that you were not.” 

{I'm going to live in Aslan's Country. where He makes me sufficient}.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

because I wrote a book. a real one.

in 2014, I made a resolution -- the kind you make with the chime of a clean slate right in front of you over lifted glasses of champagne. I resolved to write a book.

the words have been slow here, practically non-existent, I know. three posts in September, nothing so far in October. every phrase, every sylablle has been directed toward this growing little project inside my laptop. it's been a process, one that I didn't expect, one that nearly broke me.

there were little things :: a toddler who has made the transition from containable to toddler-unchained in the space of a month, a laptop that went from reliable to held-together-with-electrical-tape in a matter of twenty-four hours.

there were big things :: my grandmother's death which rocked me to the ground, sickness and frailty, exhaustion and a word well run dry.

but I found words, clusters at a time, like grapes hanging along the wall. I found love and support, a rallying of beloved friends and a husband that surrendered to thin-crust pizza and at-least-they-came-from-the-oven chicken nuggets from a bag tucked like a faithful friend into the freezer.

but oh, beloveds. I did it.

I wrote a book. and it's almost done. and I hit buttons and cried so many tears. and maybe this post should be deeper, richer, full of more things spiritual and scarred and holy ground and all of the things I've become known for in this space. but honestly, it was less beautiful and far more broken of a process. I can only call Him Lion because He has been roaring holy cheer-leading chants into my soul in the death of night.

there's been nights of whispering phrases on repeat from The Book of Common Prayer and grasping fervently to His mane with white knuckles. and writing. so much writing.

I wrote a book.

Portals of Water and Wine. 

and you can find it on Amazon for Kindle pre-order + add it on Goodreads. and then you can read all the posts from this journey + the book page is here for your perusal. because somehow, over the longest night, I became an author. and on December 1st, the book is released.

and I'm not promising a whole lot of words here in this space, but I will come back. I will. it comes back and forth, ebb and flow.

because I am an author. and I wrote a book.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

unarmed toy solider {listen + doctor who}

at the time in which I write this post, a brand-new episode of Doctor Who aired last night. due to the fact that I have a teething two-year-old + was given the chance to escape with the husband for a private night out as an early 24th birthday celebration, I wasn't able to watch it until this afternoon.

the episode's title? Listen. 
the topic? Fear. 

it found me where I was at, sitting on the floor with my toddler climbing over my shoulders like a jungle gym and my husband groggy and headachy from late nights and little sleep. it found me, this fifty minute episode of a supremely wonderful and nerdy British television show. it found me in the wake of personal upheaval and messy {more than slightly broken} community.

so listen. if you listen to anything else, listen to this. 
you’re always gonna be afraid even if you learn to hide it. fear is like a companion, a constant companion, always there. 
but that’s okay because fear can bring us together. 
fear can bring you home
{Doctor Who, Listen}


you don't have to be a fan of this show to wrap your fingers around the truth found in the above quote. fear is an ever-present companion. there is fear of the unknown. fear of the known. fear of failing, fear of succeeding. fear of breaking down. fear of losing what you have. fear of not being good enough. fear of being too good. 

fear of being, maybe. 

the list. oh, it seems to go ever on and on. and right now, I'm finding myself standing in one of those fear-spaces. some might call it a dark night of the soul {or a dark month of the soul, in my case}. some might call it doubt. or questioning. even thrashing. I'm really good at thrashing these days. 

but listen. if you listen to anything else, listen to this. 

in the aforementioned episode, a gun-less toy solider stands watch over a frightened child. and I can't help but reach out and wrap my fingers around this metaphor of plastic until man-made and God-made are practically fused as one. because there is something so holy about this idea of the unarmed solider standing guard. no weapons forged by man, but fierce. 

{a Lion needs no weapons. it is one.} 
do you see?


so listen, beloved. listen well. 

perfect love, the kind that lays down unarmed with arms spread wide, casts out fear. perfect love, the beaten and bloody epitome of Holiness, casts out fear. 

perfect love stands guard. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

born from crushed aluminum

{via flickr :: creative commons}
I crushed a soda can last night. you can see the exact shape of my hand in the aluminum, the swirling white letters bent inward to form something more akin to a prayer than a brand name.

my not-so-tiny girl needed stitches, right on the even of her second birthday. three small black lines, twisted up with flesh. she cut her foot last week. it wasn't so bad. there was blood, but it washed away. there was a scab, but it was closing. and then last night, she tripped. and it opened anew, worse than before. so we bundled into the car, my husband + me + Marian (her in squawking high spirits, us not so much).

and the doctor said "stitches," and something inside me dropped so hard that I thought it might actually come out through my feet. they washed her foot and I cringed, holding her hand. they said "needle" and "Lidocaine" and I  made a hasty and less than dignified retreat. he made me sit, the doctor did, pressing a can of soda into my hand for sugar. I was white, he said.

and I sobbed on one side of a clinic wall while my daughter wailed, clutched tight in my husband's arms as he bear-hugged our fierce fighting child. they were hurting her to help her, and it made my momma-lioness roar vicious. and I crushed that soda can in my fingers until they were white and the can was twisted metal in my grip.

then it was over, and she was drenched in sweat but bandaged, sniffling into my shoulder. I buried my nose in her head as I rocked her, inhaling the scent of tears and sweat and strength and bravery, as much as a little-yet-fierce creature can exude.

this morning, I pondered as she nuzzled into my breast, an eager face at 7:02am beside my bed. it's been two years with this child, nine months before that of her nestled under my skin. motherhood is a funny thing. you can read every book in the world, and still realize that you know absolutely nothing when that child is born. and you have to learn. and they say that you learn from experience and doing and "as you go." but really, it's your child that does the teaching.

cliche? maybe.
true? entirely.

and so, as my Marian-girl begins her second year of life, my heart is swelling full of  holy hopes + wishes for her.

 :: I wish for her bravery to be acknowledged. she is not fearless, she is brave. 
:: I wish for Holiness. 
 :: I wish for delight in small things and joy in big things
:: I wish for her pain to be allowed. I do not want her to hurt, but when she does, I want her aching to be FELT instead of being brushed over or dismissed. 
:: I wish for a drawing near to Grace and the Throne upon which it sits. 
:: I wish for might. not power or fame or glory, but might. 
:: I wish for laughter (have you heard this child laugh? music.)
:: I wish for Kleenex and ice cream and shoulders and companions and light and Glory abundant. 
:: I wish for LIFE.

happy second birthday, my beautiful girl. 
I love you. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

drop your coat

{via pinterest}
dear you,

you wanderer through the Valley of the Shadow
drop your coat.

you who haven't figured out how to process the change or the ache or the new or the rejection
drop your coat.

you who are finding yourself in the season of "no" or the season of leaving or the season of lots of taking and very very little giving back
drop your coat. 

// 

do you know what that looks like, to drop your coat and leave it there?

there is unspoken courtesy, ingrained in us from the very beginning. you do not just drop your bag, your coat, your shoes on the floor. not in another's house, not even in your own house. you pick it up. you find the hook or drawer or little nook. you hang it up. tidy, organized, everything appropriately tucked away.

even when the fabric is so heavy that it almost seems unbearable, this idea of crossing another twelve steps to the closet. even when the smile is pasted on, and the "let me take your coat" feels falsely cloying because you would just rather not lean into the pity (even though it's nothing more than your host being polite).

so I want to tell you something. I want you to look me in the eye.

I want you to rest. drop your coat. right there, in the hallway. shoes too. kick them off. let them thud against the wall.

I want you to find freedom. leave it there, on the floor, in a crumpled pile of soft fabric and silken lining. leave it there.

because it's not just a coat, is it, love? it's grief and heaviness and weight and confusion and a lack of knowing which direction to step next. and there may not be answers there between the hardwood slats. but there is a solid surface on which to rest. and sometimes that works better than answers. at least for now.

so drop your coat. leave it there. the world won't end while it lays on the hardwood.

dust washes off. you can use my machine.