Friday, June 25, 2010


Strength is my weakness.

There is something so imperative, so crucial about strength to me.

I have to be the strong one.

I have to endure things for others that they themselves cannot seem to handle at that moment.

In that split second when your world is falling apart, when your heart is breaking, when you're at the very end of your rope, I have to be there.

I have to be strong for you.

If I love you, I carry stuff for you. It's the way I've always been, and I can't see myself changing any time soon.

But. I gotta be honest.

I'm a coward.

Behind this mask of strength and endurance, I'm shaking like a frightened puppy during a thunderstorm.

On the outside, I'm calm and put-together, focused entirely on making sure that you are alright and that you know that you have someone to lean on during this -- the darkest moment of your life.

But inside, I'm screaming. My mind is going a hundred miles a minute, throwing things together and tossing them out in a split second. Nothing makes sense. I have to keep telling myself...

...over and over and over again...

breathe. breathe. breathe.

Rain pelts my face, blinding me, mixing with my tears of sorrow, frustration, and guilt. The laughter of my own cowardice is shrieking in my ears.

"Afraid. You're afraid. Coward."

I have to allow myself to shut my eyes, wrap my arms around you, and lock out my fears.

Inside, I'm on my knees, eyes closed, hands raised as high as they can go.

I'm screaming at the top of my lungs to the thundering skies...


And then, He comes for me.

In my mind, Jesus has a roll of duct tape and a warm blanket.

The duct tape is for Satan's mouth, to keep the lies away.

The blanket is for my heart.

And for yours.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Last Battle

Tonight, I wanted to go to Narnia.

I spent some time tonight watching the new trailer for the upcoming film and re-reading The Last Battle.

I must say, it made me homesick.

Growing up, I was what any sane and normal person would call "a freak." I was obsessed with Narnia -- the land, the people, and most of all, the great Lion.

I spent hours reading the books, loosing myself in the descriptions of a world with endless snow without Christmas, filled with talking animals and a lamppost that grew from an English iron bar.

I watched and re-watched the old, classic BBC movies, dreaming of the day that a painting would spring to life or that the back of my parents' old metal wardrobe in the basement would open up and let me in.

I can remember touching the back of my closet, closing my eyes, and begging that Aslan would take me into His world. Just once...

Today, as I was reading The Last Battle, I found myself pining for Narnia once again.

In times of trouble and sorrow, I ached to bury my hands in the golden mane of Aslan and find the security that Lucy did in her own periods of emotional struggle or familial confusion.

But then, I reached the last sentences.

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning." And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion...for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at least they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

It was then that I realized.

Aslan is more than just a golden-haired Lion with the power to cast away winter's cold grasp with the shake of his mane.

He's a nail-scarred Man who stands at the gates of Heaven -- His Kingdom -- just waiting for me to run to Him and throw my weary arms around His neck.


Labor of Love

Tonight, I spent some time with my mom's side of the family, planning for my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary celebration this coming fall. If you were looking at us from a distance with no knowledge as to who any of us were or what we were doing, you would think we were an odd little group.

There were eight of us, clustered around a small crackling fire enclosed inside of a large metal dish.

My aunt and uncle, not quite two years married, holding hands in two separate deck chairs, looking at one another as if their entire worlds revolved around their beloved partner.

My mom, sitting in her chair with her day-planner in her lap, her red hair glowing like a sunset in the light of the flickering flames.

The three teenagers -- Abby, Rae Marie, and I -- sitting in age-order on the padded porch swing, giggling and waving the smoke out of our faces.

And then there was my grandma and grandpa, the origin of this tiny cluster of loving people. They were the ones that drew my closest inspection.

Grandma, with her little basket-purse and crown of carefully styled grey hair, her smile and laugh more familiar and warm to me than a summer sunset. And Grandpa, with his fading grey comb-over and his unmistakeable sense of humor that reminds me of little girl sleepovers and snuggles around the iron stove in their basement.

My grandpa is in his early 70s. He grew up on a small farm in Illinois in a tiny rural community where he milked the cows at 4am and walked to school in the winter. He loves Jesus with all his heart, and is determined to bring as many people to know Him as he possibly can. He is the humblest, quietest man I know.

This is the man of whom I possess my earliest memory. The man who sang silly songs to my sister and I, and told us jokes that made my grandma shake her head and say, "Oh, Kyle!" The man who taught me that early morning breakfasts of "gobledy-gook" and orange juice was the secret to a happy morning. The gentle hands that swung a wood-splitting ax and poked flaming coals to warm the house, but that were always eager to hold the Bible and remind me of the goodness of God. The man who showed me that ticking Grandma awake at 6am was fun, and that "sleepin' at the foot of the bed" was a secret delight. He took me to my first movie in a theater -- Chicken Run -- and promptly fell asleep twenty minutes into the film...but that's not surprising, considering his ability to "drop his marbles" at any time and through anything.

My grandma is in her late 60s. She attended the local high school, and can still sing almost all the words the fight song. She married young, just like I did, and still loves her husband with all her heart after almost 50 years of marriage. I've seen the way she looks at him...I want to love my husband the way she does. When I was little, I used to stand next to her in church and listen to her sing the hymns; I wanted to sing about Jesus as beautifully as she did. She is an amazing woman who loves Jesus with all her heart, and has taught me so many things about being a godly woman and a godly wife.

This is the woman who read books to my little sister and I, recording them on cassette tapes that I still love listening to, even today. The woman who made me tiny models of all the characters from Winnie-the-Pooh (my favorite since I was a baby) by hand, and played the record of the same name when she changed my diapers or bathed me in the metal sink in the basement. The woman who made me dresses, quilts, and jumpers, hand-made with love poured into each stitch. She taught me how to sew; even though I didn't show a lot of appreciation for it then, I look back on those moments now and wish I could get them back. Grandma made us puppets out of brown paper envelopes and various bits of bric-a-brac, recorded Shirley Temple movies when they came on TV, and watched Milo and Otis with us over and over and over again.

Grandpa took me on my first missions trip to Costa Rica when I was 13.

Grandma held Hawaiian tea parties on the back porch with our American Girl dolls and Macadamia nut pancakes.

My grandparents are my heroes. Two of my greatest examples.

I want them to be proud of me.

Because I am proud to be their granddaughter.

Monday, June 21, 2010


This past weekend, DisneyPixar came out with yet another masterpiece in cinematic entertainment. Toy Story 3, a continuation on the incredible story of a loyal toy cowboy and his space-commander pall.

Woody and Buzz, with their lovable posse of plastic and wooden comrades, has been through quite a few daring escapades together. But now, just like the original audience of the previous two movies, their "boy," Andy, is all grown up and heading off to the next adventure is his own life: college.

As I sat in that theater, I couldn't help but allow my mind to think about a few obvious truths that were dancing in front of my eyes in glowing 3-D.

Growing up is the easy part; it's living like a grown-up where things become tricky. College, marriage, starts to take a turn for the complicated, painful, and, at times, morosely tedious.

But then, we take a moment to open that old toy chest, re-read that old journal. We allow the familiar, musty-scented friends of our childhood to flood back into our overly-busy lives once again. We brush off the cobwebs and open our hearts to our own versions of Buzz and Woody....

...we become children again.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lightning Bugs

Tonight, I saw my first lightning bug.

Tonight, two people I love are hurting.

I spent part of my evening on the phone, loving on a precious girl whose world just fell down around her.

Things she thought she knew suddenly became strange and foreign.

For her, nothing makes sense anymore. The plans, the dreams...once barely within seem to have drifted miles away.

All she has is God...

...and that boy, sitting in front of his computer on the other side of the country, wanting her to know that he loves her, no matter he lifts up his hand to finish her cyber-Skype heart.

And then there's my other friend.

Sitting in front of his computer, allowing his mind to wander over the past. Realizing that the things that he thought he knew, thought he did...just weren't...

...seeking some sort of distraction from the countless questions thundering like wild horses, prancing helter-skelter though his mind.

All he has is God...

...and that girl, sitting under a leafy tree somewhere in the world, writing in her journal. Waiting for her love to appear and sweep her off her feet....dreaming of her better half...dreaming of him.

...and then I realized...

...pain is a lightning bug.

It hurts. It's ugly, like a tiny brown bug. It creeps around us with no hint of beauty or purpose in the world.

And then it lifts, rising into the sky. The light flickers.

Beauty from pain.

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of tattered dreams and seemingly endless sorrow.

...pain is a lightning bug.

Monday, June 7, 2010


The ne'er-caught mistress.
Flitting here and there, never ceasing long enough upon one flowered, youthful heart before she moves to another naive resting place.
Flowers and tears are her closest companions,
Despair and delight walk alongside, hand in hand.
But, oh...
...don't you know that you are loved?
...while your heart is breaking, I am holding your hand, and He is holding your soul.

Don't let go.

Supposedly in the eye of the beholder; why then is the beholder never looking for you?
The mirror is friendly one moment, and then, when you most need its reassurance,
it has fled and left you to find great fault in yourself.
But, oh...
...don't you know that you are beautiful? HIS eyes, you are a princess. Perfect.

Don't give up.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Have you ever thought about how God sees you?

...ever sat down beneath a spreading tree and gazed up at the pale blue sky, spread lightly with wispy clouds, just to think about someone for whom you care deeply?

...danced under a midnight sky, sprinkled with the delicately burning stars?

...opened a leather-bound book that has sat on the shelf for months, and felt as if you were becoming reacquainted with a long-missed friend?
That is a picture of God's delight in you.
Have you ever had a broken heart?

...wept until you were out of tears over the struggles of a beloved brother, fighting his way through old memories, stamped indelibly in his mind...if only you could free him...if only...?

...carried the secret pains of a friend on your own heart, wishing you could fight her battles for her...wishing that you could make her understand how beautiful she is...?
This is a picture of God's pain at your sorrow.

Have you ever experienced true love
...had someone love you so much that they would give up their comfort, their freedom, their dreams, their very lives to keep you safe?

...had someone wrap their arms around you and just let you cry your heart out into their shoulder, knowing that their heart is breaking because you are suffering?
This is a picture of God's love for you.

This is a picture of my God.
True delight.
True sorrow.
True love.
"And God demonstrates His love for us in this...while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
"Great love has none than this: that a man lays down his life for his friends." -John 15:13

Name Brand Knock-off

If you've ever gone shopping in a big city like Manhattan, you've been approached by one of those people. You know the ones I mean.

"Pst. Hey, lady! I got a real nice Gucci handbag over here. Most places will try to sell it to you for waa-ay too much; just for you, I'll give it to you for $80!"

You and I both know that what he is selling is NOT a stylish new Gucci purse.

It's fake. It might look like the newest fashion, but it's just not right. Somethings are obviously wrong, while other details are more discreetly altered. But no matter how you spin it, the bag is still a cheap, street-shop knock-off.

So here's my question. Are you a Gucci Christian? Or are you a just a knock-0ff?

The title of Christian was first bestowed upon the Christ-followers of the early church in Antioch. (Acts 11:23-26). This word literally means: little Christs.

To the world, we are to be, in the words of my pastor, "Jesus with skin on." We are to be set apart from the world. We are to bear the name of Christ, living as His sons and daughters -- the real deal.

The Apostle John summed up our calling better than I ever could.

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is...-1 John 3:2

Some people only know us by our name. Christian. Some people will only see us out of church, in the places where we rarely wear our "Sunday best": the humdrum of the office, the glamorous aura of the big-city mall, in the teeming line at the airport.

When they look at us and see how we treat our waitress at the cafe, or the way we act towards the popcorn guy at the movies, what thoughts will fill their minds?

Will they walk away, shaking their heads and muttering, "Huh. She has a cross around her neck and a Jesus sticker on her car...but man, she really doesn't act any different than everyone else around her!"?

Or will they sit back and think for a moment. "Wow. There is something different about her; her life is living proof!"

Are we truly being Christ to the world -- Jesus with skin on?

Or are we just cheap knock-offs?

Saturday, June 5, 2010


This afternoon, while my husband was working on his truck, I watched the movie Young Victoria -- a movie on the younger years of the English monarch, Queen Victoria.

This woman was amazing.

So much of her life was ruled by her overly-fearful mother; she was not allowed to play with other children, or even walk down the stairs by herself. As she herself wrote in her private diaries, the palace was more a beautifully crafted prison to her.

Not even two months after she turned 18, William IV died, making Victoria the queen. She endured criticism, political uproar, and economical crises with elegant grace and decorum. She died at the age of 81, after ruling over England for 63 years -- the longest reigning English ruler to date.

When the movie ended, I sat on the bed, contemplating this incredible woman. Through all that hardships and trials, she became a strong, beautiful queen who ruled England and became a legend all around the world.

Can I be such a woman? Can I look back over the past years of my life -- the numerous struggles, the family trials, the many nights of bitter tears, the sleepless nights filled with worry -- and allow them to grow me?

There are times when I feel so very alone. The struggles that my friends are enduring, as well as my own agonizing personal issues, wear at me and leave me feeling abandoned and alone. But it is then when God brings my life verse to my mind: Isaiah 43:2-3

When you pass through the rivers, I will be with you. And when you walk through the waters, they will not sweep over you. And when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, Your God, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior!

I am not Queen Victoria.

I don't have to be.



Today, I tried to start writing six different entries for this blog. Every single one of them went nowhere.

The idea was overdone, the feeling was stilted or cliche. Nothing was flowing. I felt dead.

Then, I went where I always go when I get stuck and brain-dead in the literary realm.

Alex. My peppy, vivacious, beautiful, and God-centered Floridian clone. The Jane to my Lizzie, the Elinor to my Mary-Anne.

She asked me two questions: who do you write for? And why do you write in the first place?

At first, I thought: "I write because my brain is a jumbled mass of words, thoughts, and dreams." But then, I realized.

I write because I'm a writer.

And I write for Him.

And I write for you, my beloved friends. I write my own sorrows so that you can know that someone out there is grieving with you -- you're not alone. I rejoice with you; my words paint pictures of my delight in your strength and joy. I want to flood you with thoughts of love and encouragement; I want you to know that you have someone who loves you more than you will ever know, and who prays for you on a regular basis.

There are times when I feel completely foolish, prattling away to some imaginary listener who may or may not even be there. And then I realize...

...I don't write for accolades or some sort of praise. I don't even know if anyone sees these words I write, except for God, and honestly, that's fine by me. I write to glorify Him. I write to worship Him. I write His words.

Because that's who I am.

A writer.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Tonight, my heart is broken.

Not for myself.

For those around me who are standing at the edge of a cliff, hearts screaming in pain with no way of escape.

Tonight, my tears are for you.

For the man who looks back at a past love, and shakes his head. Her face still haunts his silent nights, the memories that cannot be shaken, no matter how hard he tries. The silent questions burn as hot as white flames, searing his heart with suffocating agony. "What does he have that I don't? What was wrong with me? And why can't I let you go?"

Oh, why can't you see that you are better than he is; her loss is greater than yours... I wish you could are a greater hero than you know, a more devoted brother than you yourself can understand...I wish I could patch your heart up and make you well again.

For the beautiful girl who looks in the mirror and hates who she sees...who wants to be different, and yet, wants to blend into the masses of skinny people. And yet, she wants to change. Wants to be free....the questions and thoughts tumble like a load of freshly-washed clothes in a drier. "Why don't I fit? Why can't I stop this? Why can't I just be normal? Why can't I be someone else? Why!?"

Dear one, you are so very beautiful. You are an angel, and His princess. Just reach up...He's there, beloved! Please, hang on. Fight with everything you have...I'm on your side!

For the young couple, clinging to promise rings and late night conversations as the distance and the time fights against them. The tears flow every night as she looks into the sky and sees the same moon that he can see so many states away. "Why is this wait, this distance, so hard? Why can't I be with you now? Why is this love tearing me in two?"

Love is hard, but it is worth it. Cast aside your doubts and your fears; let Him carry you! He knows your hearts and your pain. He will carry you both...from now until you walk down that aisle. You are His bride, my beautiful one. And His groom-in-training, handsome Prince of the King. Wait...the day is coming!

For the solider across the ocean, gazing at the picture of the beauty he left behind. The tears they both have shed, and the fear in both their hearts would be enough to stop the world from turning. The unspoken hurts and sorrows in her eyes were more than enough to break his heart. "Will he make it home? Will he be safe? Oh God, please bring him back to me!"

God is your protector, warrior; He is your shoulder to cry on, darling girl. God has you both in his hands. Do not worry or fear. God is on the throne...He sees you, dear ones!

My tender heart breaks for you. My knees are bruised from the prayers I send up for you night after night.

You are loved. You are prayed for every day!

And above all, YOU ARE HIS!