Monday, April 28, 2014

when I was one of the X-Men

{photo via pinterest}
we were given lessons in how to touch. I wouldn't think it was real unless I had experienced it myself, first hand, sitting shoulder to shoulder and toe to back with my peers. there were big smiles as they demonstrated on the stage, one boy and one girl.

always from the side. never from the front. girls have breasts. don't cause a brother to stumble. arms around the shoulder, quick squeeze. 

we called it "nacho"-ing, a playful turn of phrase coined from the lauding of the "non-committal side hug." we were being taught how to stay pure. we were being taught how to protect our brothers from stumbling, from being ruled by that strange thing behind the zipper of their jeans. we were proud of ourselves.

my body was dangerous. I had to be careful. we all knew that. we were dangerous beings, with our shapely hips and our growing breasts that might press into a boy's chest and send impure thoughts racing though him like poison.

I was one of the X-Men. my name was Rogue. to touch me was to die.

because I was a girl. and girls were poison, except to our one-day husbands.

I'm going to let you in on a secret. it didn't protect me. it did the exact opposite. 

it taught me that I was dangerous. it taught me that my body was a cactus. all I could do was hurt, all I could was destroy. it taught me to hate me.

this same dangerous theology creeps through the ranks of the youth groups and the purity conventions. raps and songs and t-shirts and seminars abound. we grip the hearts of those girls, sitting shoulder to shoulder and toe to back with their peers, and whisper, you are in charge of his mind. you are in charge of protection. you are the problem. 

who put us in charge of stripping them down until they keep their arms crossed across their chests and their heads down with shoulders bent to hide that they are women, God-made and Heaven-adored? where is the mandate to shake the least of these, the little ones, until all their worth comes dropping out the bottom like gold doubloons down the storm-drain?

we are resisting innocence in our chase for purity. we are hanging stones instead of breaking them to gravel.

I remember the first time I hugged the man that would become my husband. I mean, really hugged him. I had just returned from a summer in South America, long weeks of sleepless nights and experiences that filled me with wonder. and there was my boyfriend, standing on the curb beside my parents' van, smiling. I didn't think. I hugged him, hard. from the front. and I can promise  you this :: the thoughts in our head were not about breasts or penises or sex or impurity or stumbling blocks.

we were embracing.
that was all.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

the silent-growing green

today I cracked eggs into a bowl and blended them with milk and garlic powder and hand-cracked black pepper from my own little grinder. the jagged little lines on the edge of the broken eggshells are as tidy as I've been lately.

expected sharp edges.

today I climbed on my hands and knees under my art table set up kitty-corner from the washer and the drier and picked up little pieces of torn cloth and ripped paper and matchsticks and little boxes of laundry detergent. the mess is where I've been at lately.

it felt good to tidy it up.

:: ::

sometimes i think we get lost, as writers. we find a goal and pound toward it, head down and jaw set. at least, that's how it is for me.

and it's so easy to get lost in the words and the ever-rising word count and let my own story get lost completely in the haze. my fictional self is the kind that delves deeply into worlds made from scratch. and when I sink my fingers in, I let the story ooze all around and fill in all the spaces that aren't made from flesh and bone and blood and skin and family ties. that's how it works in my head.

other spaces become quieter. I used to think it was me dropping the ball, letting my blog fall slack. now I realize that it's an expectant hush.

a friend of mine asked the other day, is it okay if I still write books even if my blog has quieted down? the answers were resounding. do you. yes. oh yes. 

I wasn't the one that asked the original question. but I've been asking it for a long time. and I've been getting lost in this story of mine. I couldn't help but wonder, is this a bad thing? to turn my focus toward my book and my family and let my internet voice fade a little bit? 

there are writers that fill the internet, voice after voice after ringing chiming voice. they seem to be doing all the things, filling up pages upon pages of books and tending to their little wild ones and loving their spouses and writing blog posts on the regular.

but they aren't me, are they? and they aren't you.

:: ::

I talk about the wave a lot. that wave that separates Earth from Aslan's County, the one that crests and hides and then dips just enough for a sneak peak of what is to come. and sometimes I feel like I'm surfing that glorious wave. I can taste the salt.

I'm writing my book. still plodding on, adding pages and paragraphs, watching the word-count go up and feeling the excited prickle as things fall into place in the story that my dreams wove and my mind is baking from scratch like a new muffin recipe. I have no idea how it's going to turn out in the end. but I know that I can bake, and I know that it smells amazing.

so I'm on that wave. and yes, this place has fallen quiet, waiting in eagerness for the next wave to come. there are nights I sit in the darkness of my house at my desk with my candle flickering and the aroma of incense filling my nose as I compose just one more set of a thousand words. and I'm basking in the holy ground that is this particular kind of creation.

:: ::

today I went outside in my bare feet with grass between my toes to scrape away dead leaves and sticks and growing maple seed trees away from the roots of my hearty little rose bush.

it felt good to see the silent-growing green.

and that's where I'm at right now. I'm cresting a wave and catching just a glimpse of what lies on the other side. I'm feeling Holy Ground at my feet and my sides and my back. it's glorious, loves. and it's so frightening and so new and there are days when I cry a lot and swear that I cannot do this.

but then I get back up and I feel that salt water splash in my face. and I know. this is my place. this is my calling, where the God who sees me has shifted Heaven and Earth to place me. He shed precious crimson blood to dye a thread to hang in this window.

here is where I want you. 
come dwell here. come write here.
with Me. 

keep your eyes open for the silent-growing green.

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