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. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

the oft-repeated refrain

{photo taken by me}
if you asked me what makes my heart pound, I'd tell you that it's women. if you asked me what pushes me to write when the words feel dried up, I'd tell you that it's women.

if you asked me what's blocking my words right now, I'd tell you that it's fear.

I'd tell you that I'm scared that I write too much about the same thing, that I bombard the world with the same concept over and over again. I'd tell you that I swell with fear when I think about speaking about the way that I've changed, the way that my eyes are wider open now because He smeared mud over my blindness.

but I think you already know that.

I'd like to tell you that I write elegant, put-together and composed ideas about egalitarianism and Biblical feminism. I'd like to tell you that I'm good at gracefully pondering these ideas with highlighter pens and stacks of books that pile around my ankles.

but that wouldn't be the truth. and you already know that, too.

I'm the kind of woman that sits on her couch with her legs crossed while her child sleeps in the room above, sipping a long-cold cup of coffee as she types the words "you are worthy" so many times that she starts to think you might be sick of hearing them already.

and then something crosses my path that reminds me beyond the shadow of a doubt that you cannot remind someone of their worth enough times, that you cannot repeat the same tender invocation too often for the soul to not absorb it like water in the salt pans of Africa. it comes in waves, these whispering calls to arms.

I'm no Joan of Arc, but I think I understand her sometimes, the way she sat with the unpopular call of God shivering through her very blood. and that's where I am today, sitting on the edge of my soft green couch while my child sings her own made-up songs to herself above me. I'm walking with Joan but in the opposite direction. because today He's calling me to put down the sword. there's been enough blood today, enough caustic words burning acid marks into souls.

today I'm letting the sword rest beside the water. and I'm holding you close and whispering the words I've said a thousand times. I'm dipping my fingers into the sea and running them through your hair, smoothing down the edges that can cut us both if we're not careful.

I'm resting against the Lion's side, and it's warm and good. and I'm speaking the words He spoke in oft-repeated refrain.

all things are made new. 
in His image, we are created. 
female, yes, female too. 
He is worthy. 
and you, beloved daughter, are worthy. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

the labour room

{photo taken the day of Marian's birth
by Abigail Dahl}
pressing in is not always elegant. it is not always a tender touch of hands on shoulders, it is not always what happens in a jubilant moment at the end of a church conference. it doesn’t always happen in cherished community.

sometimes it’s a falling, a plunging of brokenness and tears onto the couch, a visceral sobbing into cushions as the vice of pressing in seems like it will crack you from head to toe like a china doll left in the ruins of an abandoned museum.

it can be the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced.

for me, it was the day my daughter was born...

{I'm sharing the story of the day Marian entered the world, the day that everything shook, and the day that pressing in became tactile holiness. join me here for the rest, won't you?}

Saturday, March 8, 2014

the girl I was once

{photo credit unknown. do you know?
tell me, won't you?}
the girls we once were are coming back to us now. 
whispering their stories, our stories, in our ears. 
let us hear.
:: brandy walker

the girl I was once is the Statue of Liberty, standing at the entrance to my path with a torch raised, whispering, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, except her voice is my own and it's stronger than I remember.

the girl I was once is a shadow turned concrete, the whisper of what could have been turned solid for me to wrap my fingers around and pull in close. she is a monument to growth, a grave-marker for silence, standing cement vigil so that I do not return to the shadows again.

the girl I was once is a blind figure of Justice, a flowing painting of Venus born, a fractured mirror made whole in the Light streaming from behind two beams of splintered wood. she is the fabric of the aerialist, giving wings to the earth-bound. she is the needle and thread in the hand of the Tailor, pressing fresh back against flesh as holy Blood flows in reverse from ground into veins.

the girl I was once is speaking words, repetition on her tongue of phrases once forgotten, turning shame into a dead language and self-deprecation into a dialect that even the Rosetta Stone has scratched from its surface. I close my eyes and she is singing His song, words familiar even if I do not yet completely understand them :: go deeper, little daughter. without borders, wander. 

the girl I was once is cracking. the layer of mud all on the outside is cracking, flaking off in pieces, in powder, in ash, in manure. she is filthy and she reeks of death, of abandonment, of uncovered skin and mocking cries. she is scarred, each line and each raw spot seen clearer when the shell falls away. she hid it once, but no longer, because they are breadcrumbs on the path and she follows them back with a tracing fingertip to remember the way she never wants to go again.

the girl I was once, she is still part of me. she is my calling, the reflection in the looking glass when I don't recognize myself. she is the thing that pulls me back. she runs her fingers through my hair and pats my cheek. I see her reflected in the eyes of my daughter, and I gasp at the way she is beautiful now in a way that was unrecognizable when I looked through her eyes.

the girl I was once, she's coming back. she's a reminder that night brings morning. she shows me that stepping into a dark room can make things muddled for a moment, but there is light peeking through the cracks that cannot be seen when the sun is blinding.

she is renewed. she is Lion-breathed. she is coming back and rising up. she is pressing tentative fingertips into the nail-marks on His palms and realizing that His breath is turning the doubt into straw on the breeze. she is building stone houses on solid ground.

That voice inside of us? She knows where the shalom is. 
May we trust her
and let her lead.
:: brandy walker

{today is National Women's Day. today, we are joining hands across the world. we are reconnecting with the girls we once were, and there is room for you, a space for your flag to fly strong in the Holy wind. join us and share your story, beloved.}

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

the ashes

today is the day of ashes. today is the day where sins are spoken aloud for the sake of repentance from Dark and a purposeful turning toward Light. today is the day when fingers brush against foreheads and the sign of the cross lays plain in a darkened smudge upon skin. tradition speaks of palm fronds from the previous year's Palm Sunday celebration being used to create the ashes. it's cyclical, symbolic if not literally done. 

the ashes are made by His coming. 

this phrase evokes a holy hush within my soul. sins are spoken and forgiveness is sought, and the ashes are smeared in the shape of the instrument that smothered the air from His lungs as His life drained out. for me. and the ashes were made from the waving fronds of the King's entrance into the city. 

when He comes, the Darkness bursts into flame. the blackness becomes Light and redemption is spoken in a voice once whispering but now rising in volume. that is what this season is. it is a whispering start that lifts and intensifies with each passing day. this season is not about what you are giving up, it is not about forty days of enduring life without internet or caffeine or breakfast. 

this day is the calm that settles before the storm. this season is the rumble that comes to alert all who hear that there is a bursting coming, a breaking forth unlike any other. 

so this year, I am pursuing Lent with an air of anticipation. I am leaving shame, expectations, guilt, self-loathing, and scarcity on the skull-shaped hill. I am wearing the ashes on my soul because they are a reminder that darkness is brief and that Water is stronger than dirt. 

this is the day of ashes. this is the day of repentance. this is the day of heads bowed to the floor, ears pressed flat to the earth, listening. this is the day of the whispering.

my Deliverer is coming. 
my Deliver is standing by. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

me, a Jesus feminist {the becoming}

when my friend Sarah Bessey wrote a book, I clicked pre-order the minute the button turned green. after this was done, I sat on my couch and cried. the tears were desperately needed. there was freedom twenty years in the making behind that click.

the name of the book was Jesus Feminist.

it arrived on my doorstep on November 6th, this yellow book with the big black letters, the symbol for femininity right next to the symbol of my faith. I opened the book, and my eyes found the first line of the first chapter :: Jesus made a feminist out of me. and something inside me gasped like a man drawn out of the ocean.

it was an answer to everything that had been brewing inside me since the moment I realized that Jesus Christ didn't see me as less because I was a woman. 

when you grow up a woman in the conservative Church, it's hard to feel like you have big things inside. it's not always intentional, sometimes you don't even realize that it's happening. but it's easy to fall into the idea that since your body curves where a man's does not, that since your pronouns are she and her, you were birthed to be a stumbling block.

somehow it got put into our heads that feminism was the opposite of appropriate femininity. somehow the word became trampled and twisted underfoot until it stopped being recognizable as anything but ugly. 

but it's begun to occur to me that He spoke "woman" when everyone else was crying "girl," not as a word of derision or as a caustic word spit out in the direction of the "weaker sex," but as a badge of honour. He touched us when others shied away. His words of "follow Me" fell on female ears as well as male. there was no line in the sand with the Son of God.

{photo by me}
“we reject the lies of inequality, we affirm the Spirit, we forgive radically, we advocate for love and demonstrate it by folding laundry, and we live these Kingdom ways of shalom prophetically in the world.” 
Sarah Bessey :: Jesus Feminist

I find myself leaning against my husband more these days when we sit on the couch, tentatively asking if he approves of this new wild me, this new feminist wife, so different from the one who cried during her wedding vows, and yet, so completely the same. and he's supportive in every way he can be, even if sometimes it's just a hand on my arm or a kiss on the side of my head in the silence past midnight. 

and so here we are, standing on the other side of a book that changed the way I see the other Book that has been in my grasp since the days of pattered Bible covers and sword drills. I'm standing here on the beach while the Son of Man makes breakfast for all the ones who follow after Him, male and female alike. 

Sarah's book opened my eyes. but this Jesus Christ, this Prince of Peace and Word Made Flesh.

He's the one that made a Jesus Feminist out of me.