Friday, April 18, 2014

when Jesus died [crossing worlds}


I am the Daughter of Eve behind the tree, fingers curled against the bark of the tree. I am huddled with my sister, and we are watching.

I am the daughter of Jerusalem pressed low against the Earth, fingers curling against the Israeli dirt. I am wailing with my sisters, and we are watching.

{this year, I am pouring out my Good Friday tears at Emily Miller's blog. the death of the Most High has been something so tender for me this year, something that has drawn me deep. I really hope you will join me  for the rest of this post at Emily's place, and share your heart with me there. join me in the spaces between the trees. two worlds, same story. same promise}

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

cleaning the mirror :: my messy-beautiful

{photo of me, by NikkiJean Photography}

I cleaned the mirror last week. it had been a while.

frankly, I was okay with the smudges and the fingerprints at toddler-height level and the lip-prints at momma-height level. her fingers like to poke at her round belly in the glass. her lips like to give the baby in the mirror a kiss every morning as we come down to start the day.

she sees differently than I do.

because honestly? me? I might never clean that mirror.

:: ::

I bought new jeans today. it had been a while.

I was pushed to the brink by the ripping sound right in the most unfortunate location, that mostly hidden spot where the seam glides up the leg. and I only have one other pair. it would not do to be without pants entirely. it's nearly skirt weather in my corner of the United States, but not quite.

under complete mental protest, I went shopping.  my fingers flipped through the piles of stiching and denim that carelessness had allowed to muddle together, size 6s and 2s and 16s and 22s all playing together. they didn't care, those perfectly folded pairs of pants. only the people buying them cared.

only the people who had to wear them cared.

and so I found myself standing in front of another mirror. this mirror was clean, no fingerprints and no baby-made smudges. but there was another kind of dirt clinging to the edges and seeping over the glass.

I could see a thousand little girls reflected in that glass. I could hear the words, see the downturned lips, feel the poking fingers.

does this make me look fat?

:: ::

{via pinterest}
I held my daughter in my arms this morning, her hair shimmering golden-red in the sunlight. she curled against my chest as she nursed, her fingers idly straying down to the hem of my shirt. she pulled the fabric away and sat up with a grin.

oh, may those words from her little lips never cease to turn my soul to water.

she leaned forward and planted a smacking kiss on my belly. right there on the dappled purple stretchmarks that she left behind. right above the scar that cuts a jagged line across my stomach that shows how they pulled her from my body like Moses drawn from the water. it's a life-mark, that scar.

:: ::

I stood in front of the mirror just a minute ago, the same one that I cleaned last week. I have my new jeans on, a perfect fit. the number on the back, nestled in the teens, is irrelevant. what matters is the way I see myself.

what matters is the way I refuse to let the Darkness convince my that my worth and that number are somehow connected.

shame might have lived in that mirror. but I ran a Windex rag over the glass. I'm speaking Light and Life over that piece of glass. I'm revoking the privileges of the Prince of Lies in the name of the One who saw me before the dawning of time and whispered to the assembled angels,

oh, she. 

she is made in the Image. 
I am God, and I call her good. 

{I am linking my Messy Beautiful at Momastery}

Monday, April 7, 2014

dark chocolate

{photo by Rachel L. Haas}
are you writing? 

those words are familiar these days. they fill my message box with little smiley cyber-faces sent from the fingers of the ones who know me best. they know that I need the reminders. they know that I'm swimming against the current, and they know that sometimes I need a solid jerk on the towrope. 

and yes, I am writing. I'm just not doing a lot of writing here in this space. my blog has gone quiet since I started burying myself into my new fiction project. I'm writing a book. I'm not sure if that's really sunk in fully yet. every time I look at how far I've come, it makes me marvel. not because I'm writing. I'm always writing. not because I'm writing fiction. I've written fiction before. 

I'm in awe because I'm writing something that is making me afraid and brave all at the same time. both of those things come with the knowledge that I'm writing something that is more dark chocolate than cotton candy. 

go with me here, loves. 

there is a lot of cotton candy in the world. or maybe it's just the expectation of the sweet vapor, of the ease of acceptance of things that taste good. things that are uncomplicated. for the most part, everyone likes the sweet and the simple, the stuff that melts on your tongue and makes you feel happy. 

but it's so much harder to write to write the bitter. it's hard to write the thing that not everyone will like, the thing that will lead the reader on a balance beam, toes stepping in a line on the wooden plank. it's hard to write things that will rankle, that will annoy. it's hard to write when you know some people -- maybe more than the rest -- will spit it out and toss the rest in the trashbin. 

it's hard to write dark chocolate. 

{photo via pinterest}
but I am learning to realize that some people like dark chocolate, if not on their tongues, then in their souls. they grip the bitter and savor the sweetness. they allow it to assure them that they are alive. they swallow it down and let it enter their deepest parts. they let it change the way they taste the world. 

cotton candy is good sometimes. it's good to soak in the lightness. it's good to flit. but dark chocolate is good for your heart. it's antioxidants. there is health in identifying with what your heart is saying, with what your soul needs. 

I'll tell  you a secret, loves. I think we all have dark chocolate flowing inside us. every single one of us, every writer, has this ability to bring out the strong and the bitter and the lingering hints of sweetness in every bite. 

oh writers, rise up. don't run from the sharp flavours that creep between your words. know that there are people waiting for your words. know that, for some, the best taste in the world is your brand of dark chocolate. 

know that the Creator lives and moves and breathes within you. 
so those dreams? risk them. 
those words? write them. 
those hopes? believe them.
:: Elora Ramirez

Saturday, March 29, 2014

to a writer, for the moments

{my writing space}
for the moments when your words are few
run your fingers over the words you already have

for the moments when your words are flowing
let them pour hydration over your soul like ocean waves 

for the moments when you are broken down
carefully grasp the pieces and tuck them away

for the moments when holiness feels close, so close
reach out your fingers and accept the permission to touch the Word made Flesh. 

for the moments when you feel deflated
open your lungs and remember what oxygen tastes like. 

for the moments when you feel like dancing
spit out the fear and let your hips and soul move like one

for the moments when you feel like your flame is guttering
reach in the fire and remember what makes you burn.

feel the rumble in your bones. rise up, holy twigs animated by Glory and soul and oxygen. you have breath in you, even when it feels twisted out.

rise up, bones and skin and pumping blood and unseen glowing soul. you are aching and sore because you are working further up and further in. keep on. feel the rumble.

:: you are nearly there.

Monday, March 24, 2014

in which I want to talk about the lambs

I want to talk about the children. I want to talk about the little ones, the least of these, the ones with single-digit years on this earth who have already lost more than any adult should endure. let alone them.

I want to talk about hills to die on and covering Blood and swords and flailing arms. I want to talk about planted flags and crossed arms. I want to talk about little ones caught in the crossfires.

I want to talk about politics and the Church, how somewhere in the middle they merged into a hydra with foaming mouths and breathing fire. I don't know where the Bride went, and I think her Groom is grieving.

I want to talk about eyes. I want to talk about the way the world is watching our every move. I want to talk about how a leader who identifies with Jesus Christ and also with the ugliest of hate died this past week, and how the world rejoiced and danced in the streets. because they hate us, and we wonder why. they taste the word "Christian" on their tongue and spit it out. His name makes up the first part, and they're spitting Him out because of us.

it's rending me.

{photo via pinterest}
I want to talk about how this day left me short on words. I want to talk about the grooves that heels are grinding in the dirt with the kicking and the screaming while He is writing in the dirt right beside us, phrases familiar and convicting.

He says, let the little children come, and do not forbid them. we say, but Jesus, we're doing this for You. 

a friend of mine called it "holding the least of these as hostages in [a] culture war," and he's right. because where you stand on the issue isn't the point. it's really not. the point is that we are commissioned. to set the captives free, to tend to the widows and the orphans, to give a cup of cold water to these little ones.

did we forget? did somewhere, somehow, the footprints on the beach and the trace reminders of the Son of Man serving breakfast on the beach disappear? because I can't stop picturing His face, the gentle lift of His head, His meeting Peter's eyes and softly speaking, "oh Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me? feed my lambs."

we've missed something big, something intrinsic to who He is, this Son of Man, this Prince of Peace. today made it clear.

I can't stop hearing His voice.

do you love Me?
feed my lambs.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

for when you're the {literary} odd one out

it's hard when you feel like the odd one out, when you feel like you're surrounded by people all doing one thing, all focusing their energy into something that is the exact opposite of "your thing." right now, I'm surrounded by memoirs. I'm seeing book after book moving from the hands of my friends and fellow bloggers and landing on bookstore shelves. 

and it's hard when I feel like the odd one out, standing in the corner with my dragons and my faeries and my portals made of water and wine and looking glasses and I wonder, what am I doing? really. what am I doing?

I've talked about this before. I've talked about being the blogger that hasn't written a book. I've talked about my resolution to write a book in 2014. both of these are edging their way into my soul again, but in a completely different way. see, my word for this year is precipice, this thing of standing on the edge of a cliff. everything's been shed, and now I'm free to jump. right? 

maybe not. 

because I'm the blogger who writes fiction. I'm the blogger that can't seem to make memoir come out right, the one that watches beautiful personal stories flow from the hands of the ones I love and call "friend" and "inspiration" and "brother" and "sister." and I'm the blogger who, up until today, was planning on giving up fiction entirely.

it's burned me, this thing of writing magic and make-believe and inventing worlds and people from the recesses of my mind. February was a hard month for me, a month of feeling more and more drained away from the fictional calling that I've felt since I was four years old. it left me feeling silly, fragile, like a little girl who watches the butterflies flit from flower to flower, gluing wings to her back and then nursing a broken leg from her plunge from the roof of the garage. 

I might have never taken a literal top-of-roof plunge. but my soul has done it and it landed in the flowerbed hard enough to crack. it made me want to quit, to hang up my fictional scarf and don the far more practical garb of non-fiction author. this is my vulnerable, somehow, more than writing accounts of my own life. I don't know how that works :: I would explain it, if I could. 

I have a tattoo on my leg, a quill pen and flowing words :: we are all stories in the end. and it's funny that I've wanted to quit with this thing of stories inked deep into my flesh. I'm starting to realize that maybe my stories aren't the ones that match the rest of the blogging set. maybe I need to start my own set with my own pieces. my stories could open wardrobe doors. 

I'm not quitting. I can't take credit for that, not even a little bit. it's because my husband has his own sweetly blunt way of telling his wife to write though the spastic ramblings on the other end of the phone. it's because my thinker best friend spent forty-five minutes on the phone talking me out of tearing out the pages and burning them. it's because my tribe rallied around me and breathed life back into my words. 

it's because the Lion is holding me mid-air with His breath. not falling, but flying. 

so yes, I'm still writing a book in 2014. I'm still rallying around my words, or at least, I'm trying. they're just not the same words as everyone else. I'm not standing in the corner alone with my dragons and my faeries and my portals. not anymore. 

I'm stepping out and extending my hand. 

hi. I'm a writer. I write fiction. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

barbed wire snapping song

{photo by Elora Ramirez}

we live in a world of barbed wire fences.

we're pressing flesh against sharp points and rough edges. we're desperate enough for touch, for connection, for community, that we are willing to endure the slicing and the bleeding and the tetanus-created lockjaw of silence. and it's all for the sake of being touched.

and here I am, in my home with the hardwood floors and the windows that face the East with the sun flowing in, humming Children of the Heavenly Father with tears in my eyes. because this can't be what He meant when He breathed His name over us like the holiest of commissions.

it's fitting that we're stepping into this time of year, slowly placing one foot in front of another as we approach each station of the Cross, each moment in the journey from Son of Man to Lamb of God. we're approaching His time of broken body. we are standing mere feet away from the blood-stained Israeli stones.

and I'm hushed in the holiness of it all. hushed in the realization that there was the barbed wire of nature that pressed deep into the forehead of fully-Man-fully-God. there was the bits of bone and metal and stone twisted into leather strips that severed skin from muscle and bone.

the barbed wire was destroyed the moment that death started working backwards. 

"it is finished." and He meant it, every weak and agonized syllable. it is done. it is complete. there are no more fences, no more twisted rusted metal gates designed to shred and tear and bleed and sever. it is finished. 

we're good at swords, somehow. we're good at evisceration in the name of love. we're good with breaking, but not so good with loving the broken. we're good with thudding, not so good with the gentle touch. we're good with barbed wire fences and darkened windows.

I want to be good with Jesus. I want to become good with Holiness streaming from my lips like water and Grace filling the baskets surrounding my feet like so much bread and fish created from scraps of "all she has is..."

I don't want to be so good with a sword. I want to be better with wire-cutters. there are wounds, blood, all for the sake of being touched. there is the virus of silence raging rampant through the veins of those who have been bound and gagged by the well-meaning millstone carvers.

but look at yourself, beloved ones. those scarlet letters are written in chalk. the rain is coming, pouring, and they are blurring into streaks that match the glorious sunrise. do you hear? that is the sound of rust caving under blades.

run free, lioness. He has laid flowers in your hair. He is leaping, arms raised and mouth wide open at the joy of you. the sight of you has Him undone.

the night has ended. this is the Morning.