Tuesday, October 28, 2014

collecting scars


I collect scars. 

There is the one on my temple where I had a cyst removed when I was in  grade school.  A boy tried to make fun of my cyst by pinching the skin on his own temple and laughing at me, but his attempt failed when I laughed back at him for foolishly assuming I cared what he thought. My doctor instructed me to keep the scar covered with a bandaid. I didn't. He told me not to get it sunburned. I did.

My knees have always been covered in the scars of growing up with brothers. BMX bikes, skateboards, climbing trees and camping trips provided endless opportunities for open wounds.

Then therere is the really long scar tracing my right clavicle where a mole I'd had since childhood morphed into melanoma when I was 19 and gave us all quite a scare. All those sunburns added up. Then there is all the hole punch scars from all the moles they've removed since. Just in case. That's how it goes when you've had skin cancer.

I can hardly even see the scar on my shin Eric tried to clean off the night of our first date. I had convinced him to play in a big fountain that night and when the security guard chased us off I slipped on the wet brick, in my cute dress, and scraped my leg. I must've done something to my foot (shocker, I know) because it swelled up and wouldn't fit back in my cute strappy sandal. We sat in the parking lot of the sketchiest Circle K as he cleaned up my leg using first aid supplies and baby wipes he bought inside. Eric scrubbed the huge scar on my shin thinking it was dirt that wouldn't come off, so when I told him not to bother and explained the story of the scar, my total wipeout road rash crash on rollerblades while being pulled by my Rottweiler, as he is cleaning me up from that evening's graceful slip/fall combo, I must've seemed like quite the coordinated catch.

Little did we know I would banana-peel slip/fall the next night on our second date hike earning me the beginnings of a klutzy reputation. My cute boat shoes were no match for loose gravel. No scar from that one. Just a dent in the ol' ego. I've fallen countless times since and am currently nursing a broken pinkie to from slipping into a hot tub. Apparently it's what I do.

Scars tell stories. 

One of my favorite scar collectors was my brother Jeremy. Today would have been his 36th birthday. He was the ultimate risk-taker and never met a challenge he couldn't conquer, which translates to: he was no stranger to Urgent Care. 

There was the time as a child he bit his tongue nearly in half while pole vaulting with PVC pipe in our backyard, the broken hand after punching a guy who was doing something he shouldn't have been doing, the  dislocated shoulder after trying crazy wakeboarding flips at the lake, and the concussion after pulling methods and a black diamond run his first time on a snowboard, just to name a few. Lucky for him a random person on the slope found him wandering down the mountain disoriented and bleeding from his head and called ski patrol to take him to the infirmary where he flirted with the nurse and got her number for later. You know after he was no longer concussed.

Jeremy and Carsyn (2yrs) 2007


Jeremy's brain surgery scar topped them all though. I loved it when he shaved his head rather than wait for his treatment to make his hair fall out. That scar upped the ante on BRAVE and his bald head was like WHAT. Risk was no longer simply for the rush of feeling fully alive. Risk became about simply staying alive.  Those scars on his scalp beat odds and defied statistics, faced fear and mortality, dared to love and to lose. All the risks he had ever taken didn't hold a candle to the courage required to hope. Jeremy was always ALL IN. Always. He fought hard. He loved hard. He broke a lot of rules and pissed a few people off along the way. We were polar opposites when we were young, close friends as adults, and I find myself wanting to be more and more like him when I grow up. 

So I collect scars and their stories. Whether they fade over time as we are constantly regenerating or go so deep they will always be visible, each one marks a space of courage, either in the acquiring or the surviving, and a thirst for life that can only be earned by trying, risking, jumping in. 

ALL IN. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

WRITE:Doe Bay2


As an extrovert, the shared accommodations at Write:Doe Bay were something I looked forward to. Memories of summer camps and mission trips had me giddy for all the super-amped social stimulus that keeps me buzzing on my drug of choice: people. I have learned a thing or two about myself over the years, however, so I know better than to binge on the social sugar and not make space for the crash.





For all the introvert/extrovert talk swirling around online again as of late, I recognize the ways I inhabit both ends of the spectrum. Making new friends is pretty much my favorite thing ever and I definitely get my energy from being around others. AND I need space, quiet and a freaking moment to myself to form a complete thought every once in awhile so I reserved a shoreline yurt on the bay for my last night's stay. I had a sneaking suspicion the Write weekend would be filled full of deep conversations and intense lessons which would require some serious downtime for reflection prior to returning home. The biggest mistake I could make would be to gather up all of the goodness and then immediately whisk myself back into real life without any proper time to unpack all of my treasure. Before the welcome home hugs and kisses, before the storytelling and camera roll scrolling - I would need a moment.





The yurt was the perfect plan. The last night. All by myself. No electricity. No running water. Just the tide and the moon and a little extra adventure for the road. I tasked myself with one thing: presence.






THE YURT

waves lapping
branches hanging
leaves falling
seabirds calling
pebbles crunching
seaweed gathering
moss wrapping
wind rustling
pines reaching
clouds veiling

canvas encircling
latice framing
windows revealing
raindrops tapping
headlamp glowing
skylight peaking
lowtide rising
darkness thickening
solitude risking
courage mounting

silence settling
thoughts spinning
sisterhood collecting
gratitude swelling
vision expanding
limitations vanishing
differences uniting
kindred empowering
momentum building
art-work launching











RHYTHM is the word that emerged from my night in the yurt. The northwest is replete with natural rhythm and her people fall into her dance steps almost effortlessly. There is something highly spiritual about a place at land's end where things really grow, where human nature and mother nature are of the same createdness, and when they operate instinctually, rhythmically, they produce a natural magnetism that cannot be resisted. On this tiny rock patch of trees in the northern Pacific, conservation is not a trend reserved for old hippies or well-educated young hipsters. Conservation is simple humanity. Culture centers around the localized experience of the earth. And it's not just a tourism campaign.

I could feel it, the rhythm, the pulse of seasons and patterns swirling as I walked the garden rows which boasted more vegetables I'd never heard of than ones I had and was absolutely overwhelmed with the majesty of growing things. I watched the doe munching on the same apples I buy from Trader Joe's while standing under the single massive tree littered with fruit growing there in the green grass meadow all by itself as if it is doing exactly what it was made to do. Hens in a coop content with a layer of dew and fresh scraps and clippings from harvest. The rhythm echoed in the tide rising and falling, lapping a song set to the moon's pull. Rhythm poured from prose and piano alike inside a cozy room with a view. Laughter and tears. Knives on cutting boards and clinking of dishes filled full. Rustling leaves tossed by breezes and foghorns blasting in the distance. 


The audacity of nature to flaunt herself so boldly!


And then, as if that wasn't enough, our cohort was treated to three selections from the Orcas Island Film Festival. Each piece showcasing the love affair between the artist and the land. Attention to detail, texture, color, seasons, sound, all the senses, simplicity, storytelling, cycles, honest practices, cultivation, respect, honor, the artistry of hard work. My eyes filled salty witnessing the majesty of loving where you live.   

All weekend long, whenever someone would ask me where I was from I would respond that I live in Arizona. I was born and raised there, but have lived elsewhere. I am not from the desert. Leave it to writers to play semantics games, but words matter to me. They shape how I think and feel and I do not feel like I am from the desert. Regardless of the fact that I have lived here more years than not, I am a foreigner practicing beauty while merely stopping through.  

What I found that night in the yurt is that I CRAVE that natural rhythm. In my daily life I am often in such conflict with my environment. The heat. How it makes my body feel. How difficult it is to get things to actually grow. The juxtaposition between flourishing and surviving illustrates itself geographically as well as psychologically within me and when I find the rhythm, when I am given the gift of breathing in sync with the planet, I have to stop and take note. Sometimes very literally.




Rhythm is the magic in the fog and the horn sounding blind. It's in the jewel-toned teal water of the bay. It's in the poetic flow of creativity inspired. It's in my water taxi captain who keeps time by the tides and waves. The rhythm is in the dormant mountain perched high above the cityscape, the technicolor produce reaped locally and with stewardship. Rhythm is that there are actually doe at Doe Bay.




The next morning as my water taxi pulled up to the shore outside my yurt and dropped it's bow to let me board, I waved to my sisters who had come down to see me off and gave one last glance toward my little yurt before setting off into the sunrise for the perfect final scene knowing that for all the coordinates I collect and all the geographies I give my heart to, I am making sense of what I seek. The rhythm of the breath that hovered over the waters runs through my veins. The rhythm is where I am from, which is why, no matter where I find it, it is the rhythm that will always feel like home.
                                                








Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WRITE:Doe Bay1




I'm not yet fully home. I'm not sure I will ever be. 


This wandering spirit falls hard and fast for every single land it has ever laid eyes on, even if only for a moment. Sounds fickle, I know. Sounds unrooted and easily discontented of me to allow my gaze to be so quickly caught. Terribly romantic and yet tragically uncommitted.


Not so.

My roots run deep through people, not places, near well-watered streams of relationships producing vines grafted into strong branches all wrapped with tangles of cords not easily broken. These roots are how I know exactly who I am and who I've been created to be. These roots are how I trust my crew and where we are headed. These roots are how I am always connected to those I love no matter where my steps land.


I always feel at home in a new place because this entire planet has been given to us to explore, to marvel before. Every trail, every feather, every mount, every shoreline a dazzling gift indulgently showcasing the glory of a creative God offering a standing invitation for me to stay. To linger. To receive. There is always a piece stirring my soul's memory as if I've never not been there.

Doe Bay was just that way.




On paper, Write:Doe Bay is a writer's workshop, a retreat space for the work of the written word. On skin, though, Doe Bay hangs magic in the air thick like her blinding fog offering space for intersections of opposites and kindred spirits alike. So I could tell you about amazing workshops sessions with best-selling authors whose works are shaping my own processes set in a twinkly lit living room decorated with handmade dreamcatchers, 





gorgeous meals cultivated with grace and love using ridiculously fresh local and sustainable elements, killer island views where every shade of green ever known to man runs toward shore to kiss every shade of blue I've ever seen in the sea which reaches out to a horizon of the exact same hue making it impossible to tell where the sea ends and the sky begins...


...but I won't.

Surely those pieces of the journey settled into my soul convincing me of having always been home, but my roots dug deep into the people. We are each so. beautifully. different. And yet there is something about giving another human being permission to wrap their hands around your experiences and to hold them, even if just for a moment, that reminds us of just how much we all have in common. Showing up for the love of the written word proved to be more than enough.

What I found is that I CRAVE diversity. Literally binging on it all weekend long, I could not get enough of hearing from those whose lives pulse so differently from my own. Naturally, the schedules we keep align us with others who swim similar currents and I feel like I am constantly trying to swim against the current to not forget the taste of the greater ocean. I don't want to be whisked away in mindless motion where every other face looks like me, lives like me, believes like me. 



We didn't talk much about our kids and spouses or jobs and zip codes that weekend. Maybe here and there while rumbling through suitcases for flashlights or on our way along well-worn paths. Mostly, we talked long over refilled mugs and stayed late for second rounds of drinks to tell of art and honesty and our creative natures and the glitter-flecked, tear-stained moments that string together a life of making that would dare to bring us together on a tiny island in the middle of the great Northwest.

And I felt at home.








Tuesday, October 07, 2014

off to write:doe bay

Do you ever look forward to something so much and for so long that you begin to wonder if it can possibly, at all, ever, in any way live up to the anticipation you've built up in your mind? Well, I have a feeing this weekend's adventure is going to blow my expectations out of the water. 100%. Here's the story...

Almost a year ago I came across an Instgram post about a writer's retreat/workshop in the San Juan Islands and my heart just leaped out of my chest with connection. Not sure why. The photo was just a logo. I don't know the chicks who've created the amazingness. Just timing I guess? I wanted to go SO BAD! With only 25 spots available this was not going to be the typical writer's conference where hundreds of writers jostle for position competing for the attention of agents, publishers and authors. This retreat was designed for real-deal connections between writers and a small handful of authors. Craft-work. Art-work. The timing for my wandering soul was perfect, but the timing for my pre-Christmas bank account was not. Totally not in the budget. And even if I did have the extra cash for the trip, surely I could rattle off a list of other things the money should be spent on. I felt so foolish but I couldn't help but pray one day in the bathroom. (That's where all the best prayers get prayed since it's the only uninterruptable spot in the house.)

Lord, if you're the one lighting this spark for this adventure you will literally have to drop that much money in our laps with absolutely no other purpose or need attached to it. I mean really. No still small voice. You're gonna have to be loud and clear on this one. 

Registration was about to open online. No magic money had fallen from the sky.


Meanwhile back at the ranch, my sweet husband was in the thick of football season and having fun with his fantasy football league. He so very generously told me that if he won his league he was going to send me to this workshop. No questions asked. No arguing.

Aw, thanks honey. That's sweet of you. 

Registration opened. All the spots filled. I cried.


I'm not sure what I was expecting but I was actually genuinely disappointed in not being able to be a part of such an incredible moment and yet I couldn't help but think maybe someone would cancel. Really though, what are the odds of that happening given the killer location and even more killer lineup of presenters? Slim. To. None. I put myself on the wait list anyway. Never know, right?

Time passed. I was #4 on the waitlist. Whatevs.

And then, come January, my sweet, generous and totally awesome husband actually won his fantasy football league! I'm not even kidding The whole shebang! Exactly enough money for me to go to this workshop... except for the fact the registration was filled.  Minor detail! Again feeling foolish, I suggested we hang on to the money in case a space became available and three other people had to pass. Not that I would hope for someone to have a family emergency or become terribly ill. But you know, if something did happen to cause someone to cancel I wanted to be ready. Never know, right? He agreed fully believing the workshop adventure was the purpose for the winnings.

I love that man.

Not long after I received an email sent out to all the workshop waitlisters telling us to watch our emails for some exciting news. What could it be? Would they be podcasting the author sessions and giving us access? Would there be something else we could vicariously participate through? I could hardly wait to hear! And then, three days later they announced it: an identical workshop would be held at the same killer location with the same killer lineup and the waitlist crew would be given first crack at registration.

Wha?!?!?!

I could not WAIT to tell Eric! A fall workshop would be even better so that I could use frequent flier miles for the trip to make it all but free! I was giddy as a little school girl!


And then came registration. The waitlist had 50-something names on it and I had no idea how many people would be trying to register when it opened. So I was ready. I had timers set. Time zones confirmed. I had my credit card number copied so I could paste it with a lightning fast command-V. Not since 1998 when I hit redial a million times trying to win Pearl Jam concert tickets from a San Diego radio station (because Eric had given his AZ tickets away to come see me in SD days after we met) had my fingertips been so ready. Instead of "redial" I'd be hitting "refresh" but the anticipation was pumping. I had my game face on ready to box out in cyberspace. It was on.

I sat at our office desk. The clock flipped. My alarm sounded. Registration opened. And BOOM I was in! As soon as I got a confirmation number I stood up, popped my knees back which sent our office swivel chair sliding across the tile and threw my arms up in victory.

I'M GOING TO DOE BAY!!! (full-on happy dance ensued)

The kids just stared. With furrowed brows they asked why I was so excited about a workshop. And that's when I got to tell them about how, while I was excited about going to the writer's retreat, it wasn't the source of my happy dance. The true exhilaration comes from praying foolish prayers in the bathroom and actually being heard! The desires of my heart being seen and affirmed! A way being made where there was no way! The San Juan Islands will be sweeter, the craft-work more valuable and the soul-shaping more meaningful because of the pure gift of the story in getting there.


And so, later this week, as God has done so many times during this time of financial uncertainty and transition, during a time when we should not have been able to go on amazing adventures like we have this summer, He has poured out generosity. He has once again made a way. Ahead of time. And it's going to be freaking amazing. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

map or machete?

I've been pissed off this past week. The chicken with the 60 year old smoker's squawk has not been helping matters. It's finally been cool enough to close her in the coop when I have felt like breaking her neck so she gets a little time-out while I take a few deep breaths and make another iced latte. Don't worry, no chickens were harmed during the writing of this blog post.  But I have been dropping f-bombs at the Lord this past week and He's been dropping them right back. It happens sometimes. Don't worry, we're cool. Every once in awhile a little wrestling match does a faith good. I can't be nice ALL the time, I'd surely explode. 

When I do break apart all the gross stuff comes flying out of my mouth, all the entitlement, all the selfishness, the idol worship and did I mention entitlement? Yeah that. Residue of my rule-following, card-carrying Jesus-girl days remains. Sludgy remnants of thinking my long-standing service to the King and law-abiding good behavior could earn favor lingers and sometimes I just need a spiritual enema. Flush that crap out. How's that for a visual?  

So God patiently waits while I throw a toddler-sized tantrum about how we really just need a prayer or two answered and how I feel forgotten about and how it would really help us out if He would just throw us a bone and give us a glimpse of what the hell He is up to with our wild lives and then He lays the smackdown by showing me a picture. 

There are two paths. I know, not terribly original, but stay with me. 

The one on the left is perfectly manicured. Lush hedges stretch high and curve overhead to form a perfect tunnel all shady and cool. Perky-petaled flowers are bursting from every stem lining the path with symmetrical colors while pavers direct a traveler's steps keeping every one on the neatly raked road and off of the rich, aerated soil. There is even a bench on the right, tucked quaintly into the hedge offering rest to the weary. As I look through the tunnel where the path continues there is a glowing golden light and I think I can hear angels singing between bird chirps. This path is looking like a tall drink of a water. At the entrance to the path lies a crisply folded map.

Then there is the path on the right.  Way scarier. Not inviting AT ALL. Thick, twisted branches and tangled vines obstruct my view. Flowers are fewer and less robust but I know their type and know that they just need some water to reach their intended brilliance. The same glowing light I saw through the tunnel of the first path peeks through the spaces between the branches creating a hazy hope in what could be on the other side.  I can almost make out a dirt path underneath the jungle but it definitely has been seldom traveled. The way is rocky and laden with pebbles that surely find their way into every shoe they see. This path feels hot and sweaty with no bench, no birds. At the entrance to this path lies a machete.  

Map or machete?




This is His question in response to my f-bombs. He knows I'm a visual learner.

Do you want a map or a machete? Because you pray for the kind of adventure that requires a machete and then you get pissed that I'm not handing you a map. You pray for the kind of adventure that requires making something new and then you get pissed that I haven't already made it for you. Which is it? You can choose the safe and obvious path and I will be there with you on the shady bench reading the map with the star that says You Are Here pointing you in all the predictable directions, OR you can roll up your sleeves and pick up a (bleeping) machete and find out what you're made of, what I've made you of.

His pictures are always worth a whole slew of words.  

We've been hard at work over here knowing that there's a point where you have to stop asking other people for permission to do the thing God is putting before you and you just have to get busy. We've definitely been busy and I can't wait to share all of the art-work with you as it unfolds. But I get off track sometimes. I throw a fantastic pity party that usually involves a lame DJ spinning all the wrong songs and my inflated resume of related experience and good deeds and then I start to demand answers for why all the doors won't open. That's when the record scratches, my head turns and God shows me a picture that shuts me up and grows me up and I see that the path we've been traveling never even had a door. 



Saturday, October 04, 2014

this way. keep going.



I collect words. Punch words. Not soft and fluffy warm fuzzy words, but words that full-on uppercut my soul with their heavyweight context. Each word holds such significance for the season at hand and each word represents the work being done in my spirit. A muse of sorts, my punch words swirl and drift, whispering a sense of things somehow familiar, like a story I've read somewhere before but can't quite place or a life I once lived in a land I've never seen. Like a scent jogs a memory. Sign posts pointing the way. 

I remember going camping as a kid. My family always tent-camped and fished on the lush banks of streams in the Arizona White Mountains. Those back roads on the reservation were tricky. Sure, you could use a map picked up at the Hon-dah bait and tackle stop where we'd buy our fishing licenses, but my parents knew the rugged paths so well they seemed to just feel their way along those dirt roads. All the way we'd see paper plates scribbled with last names nailed to trees signaling "this way" to those travelers trying to find their friends and family. I would always track the names as if I was a part of their group, wondering who they were and where they were from. Just when I'd feel like I hadn't seen a paper plate in awhile and feelings of getting lost would creep in another plate would pop up to remind the traveler they were on the right path. "Keep going". 

The punch words I collect pop up and remind me "this way" and to "keep going". They point to a fuller version of myself being shaped along the way, next step after next step. I keep these words. Maybe I write them on my "5 Things" chalkboard that hangs on the side of my armoire for me to see each morning when I wake up and each night as I close my eyes. Maybe I doodle them in the margins of my scrawled-in Bible or the memoir I'm re-reading yet again simply for the love of a wandering cross-country adventure in a VW bus. Sometimes I dry-erase marker my words on our bathroom mirrors or typeface them into Instagram photos. My punch words get lived in.  I speak them in conversation and write them in cards to dear friends. I fall head over heels for their dictionary definitions and sign language expressions. I associate colors with them. Some of my words require ALL CAPS and some all lowercase, each one according to their voice. 

Above all, the most valuable thing about these words is how God redefines many of them as He breathes them into my lungs. He takes a word that usually means one thing and He makes it mean something totally different. The redefining began five years ago during my grief following the death of my younger brother. Sitting on the floor in our bedroom, leaned up against our bed with a tear-stained copy of Lewis' A Grief Observed, I never doubted God's existence but I sure as hell doubted His goodness. Worst-case scenarios don't feel like goodness. Cancer and separation and loss don't feel like goodness. The whole of life's circumstances during those years did not feel like goodness. Ambivalence began to settle in as a response came...  I AM good, but my definition of good is so very different from yours. 

Lately new life gets breathed into words typically used as pejoratives. WANDER has been one of those words for me in this current season, but even more recently I have collected the word RECKLESS which is defined as "irresponsible in thought or deed, utterly unconcerned about the consequences of some action, careless, foolhardy, ill-advised, negligent." Wow. Doesn't sound too good straight out of the dictionary does it? Not exactly a top ten character trait.

Until it comes from that still small voice. That voice I cannot hear with my ears but recognize instantly. That voice changes everything. 

Framed by my pursuit of Jesus, the one who relentlessly pursues me, the definitions of RECKLESS all of a sudden take on a different hue. A word that usually bears a negative intention laden with disapproval and accusation now breathes synonyms like adventurous, audacious, carefree, daring and wild. An invitation into freedom, an undignified flinging of ourselves into possibilities with belief blowing through our hair. Sounds foolish doesn't it? Sounds immature and definitely not at all responsible. And yet isn't it what we crave? I sure do. It's why I ride my beach cruiser, drive with the sunroof open, turn up the music and dance in the kitchen.  It's why I paddle oceans, lakes, and disgusting rivers just to catch reflections on the water, glimpses of creatures and currents moving underneath me and why I take the long way home just to be stunned for a second by the majesty of the sky. I crave a reckless joy and a reckless faith that believes in beauty and goodness and freedom in the face of destruction and hate and slavery.  I dig it up desperately searching for remnants of original intent. 

My punch words are simply a collection of personal beatitudes where Jesus says, "Blessed are the (insert something usually seen as negative), for they will (insert something usually seen as positive)."  He reorders. He elevates the unexpected. He sends the striving to the back of the line. He redefines my understanding of GOOD. He shows me the grace in FREEDOM and the treasure in WANDERing a path with many turns. He invites me to chase wildly, audaciously, RECKLESSly after Himself. And then He goes on and begins to turn everything I thought wI knew upside down and right side up with phrases like, "You've heard it said... but I tell you..." Jesus prefaces these words with a reassurance that He is not doing away with the law, but actually fulfilling it. Fulfilling. Making it more full and complete. Each "but I tell you" pointed toward a greater fulllness, a more complete understanding, a truer intention of the heart of God. Deeper. Wider. Higher. Further. Redefining what we thought we knew then. Redefining what we think know now. 

I wonder how many people this pissed off on the hillside that day. The Beatitudes are always taught in a dreamy sort of way. Such heartwarming inspiration for the underdog. Like Rudy. Gotta love it when the little guy gets the glory, right?  But really, the Beatitudes and Jesus' whole Sermon on the Mount was so subversive it must've seriously pissed of a bunch of religious people thumping their scripture scrolls while trying to earn their way along. Oh wait...pretty sure I've played for that team a time or two. How often do we point to words God has said and ignore the words He is currently saying? We can memorize verses and research context and know a lot about what He said to those thousands of years ago, which are all good things, but His word is alive now too! God speaks! He interacts and intervenes and engages His creation in real time! Are we listening to the words on the breeze or only reading the words on the page? 


It's easy for me to collect words. It's a lot harder to live into the fullness of them. It's hard to do the thing that seems careless, foolhardy, ill-advised and negligent to those who are on the outside. But when we do, we become part of the redefining, part of the fulfilling. We go from following the paper plates one by one along the path to becoming living breathing sign posts for other travelers along the journey. This way. Keep going. 

My fellow wanderer, trust the still small voice. Trust your ability to hear it. Know that the words spoken to you may not be spoken to those around you. They may be working with different definitions. It's ok. Respect their journey. Know that there may be times when "you've heard it said...but I tell you..."  brings disapproval and criticism. Wouldn't be the first time. Above all else, trust the one who calls you toward Himself.  He is a good guide full of grace for the weary. And, worst case scenario, if you mistake your rumbling hunger for His voice and you get lost along the trail, He always finds. Always. Risk it. Next step after next step. 

This way. 

Keep going

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

trafficking - scene 5: for I have not been given a spirit of timidity

Too late. He saw me. Months of trying to come up with a legitimate reason to skip this trafficking awareness night and here I am sitting in my car in front of the house, my sweet friend's husband waving me down like he's landing a plane. I can't bail now. 

Sweaty palms. Check.

Nausea. Check. 
Pulse racing. Check. 
Overall feeling of doom and destruction. Check.

Get out of the car. 


Ok. On the count of three, get out of the car. 


1...

2...
2 1/2...

Inside the house my default I-can-make-friends-with-a-brick-wall extroversion was failing me. There were awkward silences. I was binging on the veggie tray. Mentally mapping the exits and location of the bathroom were top priority incase me sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "lalalalalalala" became too distracting during the presentation.    


It was time to gather. Normally I prefer seating in the round all communal and everything, but this night, on this topic, what I wouldn't have paid for stale rows of folding chairs. 


Seats are filling! Quick! Grab one near the exit! It's like musical chairs from hell! Shit. The only one left is practically right next to the presenter. Awesome. This is what I get for hovering over the veggies for way too long. Now I am pretty much in everyone's peripheral vision for this entire thing. Perfect. 


Materials are distributed. Pages are turning. Stats. Photos. Case studies. Trauma. Shock. Horror. Police reports involving squeaky clean neighborhoods where friends of mine brag about not needing to lock their doors. Hot spots. Tactics. Crime rings. International systems. Well oiled machines of mind-blowing profits and the most sustainable resource available: children.


And then everything went quiet. At least in my ears it did. 


I wasn't cowering. There were no tears. No temptation to run. Instead, my spine straightened. My shoulders squared and I sat tall. My pulse slowed and my breathing became conscious. I could feel my teeth clench as my eyes narrowed through the words on the page and into the darkness. All of the fear, all of the panic, all of it vanished as light shined into the dark spaces and in it's place a flame was sparked.