I sat there at the table in the rec center with a pencil borrowed from my child and the back of my grocery list, jotting down two poems in about 10 minutes while dealing with people inquiring about what we were doing there. I was just the chaperone as this was the kids gig, but I answered questions and handed out free things just the same.
The nausea is still plaguing me whenever it feels like it and the exhaustion and fatigue are definitely assaulting me. Vivid dreams in full colour are sticking with me through the days and laughing until I am crying or crying until I am laughing are also becoming a new normal.
But, today, the words flowed from me in a poetic prose that I had missed. The pain and sadness that lives deep within my soul, was eager to hit the slip of paper and is currently tucked inside my wallet. As I read the words aloud to the child who loves to listen to rap and lyrics full of suffering and pain I heard the words “that’s deep and really good. If I didn’t know you, it would almost be scary, almost.”
You see, I have a dark side, a side riddled with past pains, abuse, rape, physical and emotional neglect and loss. My dark side often finds its way out when its pen on paper, never rehearsed or even edited, just the need to hold a pen to paper and write the words that flow, whatever they may be.
I often wonder to myself, how do people who don’t write deal with their dark side? Surely, I am not the only one who has this. Certainly, I am not the only one with a tumultuous past.
I believe in God. I believe I am redeemed. I believe that Christ has already bore my sins and that I am saved. I believe that my faith is more than sufficient and yet I am human and the darkness still lives within the broken cracks of my once shattered soul. You see, you can glue a mirror back together, no matter how many pieces, but the reflection will never be the same. While Christ is the glue that strengthens me, and has rescued me from the past, it doesn’t mean the past never happened.
I love deeply and wholly with all that I am. I don’t trust easily. I break often. I hide the pain behind a smile. I am content in just ‘being’ and in knowing that the present doesn’t last forever and that what comes tomorrow will be history the following day. I’ve learned that I have to be my own best friend so that I can live the life God would have me lead.
He sat there absorbed in his video game and me in my book and as the hours ticked by I could see he was holding his breath more often, afraid to breathe but trying to ignore the silence of the phone. No news is good news, right?
Finally, we laid down and slept for a few hours -smack in the afternoon and into the early evening, and his breathing relaxed, his stress slipped away as I watched him before dozing off myself.
When the phone rang it’s awful ringtone he shot out of bed like a cat, straight into the air and answered it quickly.
He held his breath when it was his dad and not his mom who said she would call when her surgery was over.
When his dad passed the phone to his mom the audible sigh of relief that escaped his body caused tears to roll down my cheeks, quickly swiped away by the blanket.
She was okay. He was okay. I was okay. We could breathe knowing his mama survived the surgery.
The holding your breath and doing your best to focus on the good and handing it to God thing seemed to be working through the day, it was a nice day, but lingering in the back of our minds was a part of our souls that just needed the know what God’s plan for us that day actually was.
Breathing out the negative and breathing in the relief felt fresh, new, amazing.
Suddenly we both wanted to eat and found ourselves thirsty, realizing we hadn’t done either all day as we did our best to stir our minds from the what-ifs.
It was only 2 days before that I was the strong one, standing on the stairs into the night speaking to his mama about her faith and her journey through the church, through life, and her telling me that I was reminding her to just trust God.
Why is it so much easier to say than do? Preach but not be preached to?
I hold my hands in reverence to the One who is in control of it all, whose plans I will never know until I am walking through them. To Him I give praise, because praise is deserved even in the darkest of days. Gratitude in the middle of chaos. He triumphs as I stumble. Picks me up when I fall. When the air is knocked from my soul, He breathes life back into me. CPR for the soul. The Bible my personal First Aid Kit!
I go through the motions of the day like everyone else does while worrying about the everyday things like money and bills overdue and how I am going to find a way to pay them and then I place it all into God’s hands and do my best to continue, trusting that He has provisions for me and He will meet all my needs.
I am reminded of the Israelites wandering for forty years, given manna everyday and told never to take more than they need, or save any for later. Trust that the Lord will provide the next meal too.
A family that vlogs on YouTube who I began to follow over a year ago, because of a cleaning motivational video posted a life update today. The mom, Christy, was very upset as she sat in the car talking about her faith and her family and how their oldest son, 22 years old, passed away this week and that they have had to humble themselves before the Lord during this extremely difficult time, by having to start up a GoFundMe page just so they can pay for the funeral for their child that will be held this weekend.
And tears fall from my own eyes as I see how upset she is, how she knows to trust God but her heart is broken either way, how I have watched her shop thrift stores to care for her large family, how she has purposed to be more modest, shared her raw testimony and allows us in to her hectic homeschool life while working full time and still struggling to make ends meet.
My own anxieties and problems with money suddenly become trivial. Who cares about the credit card debt from years ago, at least I am not burying my child. My family is healthy. That could all change tonight or tomorrow or when the phone rings, but right now everyone is good and that is a blessing. That is todays manna. The sustenance that will sustain me, even if creditors are calling and threatening to ruin me, I cannot be ruined because Christ has me and he has my family and if/when something does happen, He will still stand firm and still give me exactly what I need as I need it.
Will Christy’s son be buried and have a lovely service? Yes! And, because of people who realize the need of this family who have put away a little bit here and there, Christy and her husband Jimmy SR will not have to worry about debt when they are mourning and looking for ways to be grateful and intentional.
We put so much value on “things” and “stuff” that when there is a tragedy like a young man, a child, passing away, our own lives are put into perspective and we strive to be more intentional and make the moments count. I don’t think anyone has ever lost someone and said they spent too much time with the person or have too many memories, rather people lose and then they feel guilt that they should have could have would have done more if only they knew.
In life, we rarely get to know any of these things ahead of time, but one thing is for certain, we are all on the same paths, regardless of time, and that is physical death. Our souls will rise and God will embrace. So, why don’t we live everyday like it is our last without having to be told we are dying?
My One Word for the year was “Intentional” and unfortunately it took someone passing away at a young age for my heart to shift to a place that reminds me to be more intentional with my children and family, and the ones I love.
God is absolutely amazing in allowing the negatives of our own lives, and the lives of others, to remind us of His Word and to live life to the fullest.
I ask that you pray for the Overlin family this coming week as they figure out what normal is as children of God and as parents to a son gone too soon. Placing their faith in Christ and knowing that their oldest boy is now sitting with the One Creator.
Live intentionally dear friends!
I’ve been staring at the screen and the cursor blinking now trying to write and I am aware of the sound of the fish tank needing water, the rush of the filters flowing hard and lulling me to a different time and place.
Aware that the darkness outside my window seems blacker than usual -a sign that the moon and stars must be covered in clouds that can’t be seen until the sun rises.
The exhaustion that has taken over my body weighing me down, like if I were to fall into waters deep I would sink straight to the bottom like a solid rock -and there never seems to be enough air. The air is tight inside of me, not wanting to escape my lungs and refusing to fill them properly too.
Panic possesses me and heightens the sensations of… everything. My emotions running high, my heart easily wounded and hurt. My bruises coloring me in shades of purples and pinks and blacks and green.
The swelling in my back pressing against my tailbone and causing numbness to painfully run down my legs.
A God who has redeemed me and saved me from all of these things if I simply choose to have faith, and I do. I am aware of that, and when the pain gets too high I pull into Him even more than I do in the everyday mundane and for that I am grateful. The hurt in my body and the broken in my soul are what makes me cry out to the One who has already saved.
And, when it is really bad I can feel His mouth against my ear and His words caress my ear “by My stripes you are healed.” The truth, spoken directly into me by the One who IS Truth.
Author and Farmers Wife, Ann Voskamp, has written a whole book on giving thanks. The hard eucharisteo, and for me her words flowing off the pages was absolutely life changing. I think they were for a lot of people given that One Thousand Gifts was a New York Times Number 1 bestseller for some 60+ weeks.
As someone who reviews books I have an idea of how many are published every single day so earning that spot is insane, earning it and keeping it for over a year is unheard of, or at least it was.
My journals filled each year and put into the box in the closet filled with the blessings of the year, the good and the bad. The unspoken-broken that needed to be acknowledged.
Now, I see that this fellow Canadian who is used to waking long before the sun does, who collects eggs in the snowy minus 40 has written another book, The Broken Way, and while I have yet to read it I also completely understand how broken life can be, how in order to experience wholeness I must first experience a shattering of the soul so that God can place me back together.
I am excited for this book. Even the trailer speaks to my soul-holes and brightens the shadowed spots with the One that is the Light. And, we could all use a little more God, stronger faith, more Light.
As the days shorten my faith grows long.
New York Times best-selling author of One Thousand Gifts Ann Voskamp sits at the edge of her life and all of her own unspoken brokenness and asks: What if you really want to live abundantly before it’s too late? What do you do if you really want to know abundant wholeness? This is the one begging question that’s behind every single aspect of our lives — and one that The Broken Way – also a New York Times bestseller – rises up to explore in the most unexpected ways.
This one’s for the lovers and the sufferers. For those whose hopes and dreams and love grew so large it broke their willing hearts. This one’s for the busted ones who are ready to bust free, the ones ready to break molds, break chains, break measuring sticks, and break all this bad brokenness with an unlikely good brokenness. You could be one of the Beloved who is broken — and still lets yourself be loved.
You could be one of them, one who believes freedom can be found not only beyond the fear and pain, but actually within it.
You could discover and trust this broken way — the way to not be afraid of broken things.
I take a deep breath and point my bottom up in the air wondering how attractive THAT has to be and sorta laugh to myself how awkward yoga can look and how good it can feel. Even though I am not feeling well I decided to hit the mat and sweat it out and lift up my spiritual energy, centering it, refocusing it on the one who created me in the very beginning and saw that I was good.
It has been easy to be down over the last few months. I have felt a ton of pressure in the little things and a lot of slippery serpent heads slithering their ways into my thoughts and creating anxiety and fear, and a lack of trust. In the last session of Hello Mornings, which I have loved for years and even lead a group with Jen from Faith Mustard Seed in for several sessions. This intimate group of people I thought I could trust and ask for prayer in were the ones I went to when I found out my cousin had another baby born asleep. Before anyone had even commented or offered prayers in the private group I was being tweeted about it and my faith in a female lead church community collapsed -hard.
At the same time I had just finished a course in ministry and had received grades high enough to earn me a scholarship. I haven’t logged back into the site since to see what I would like to take, I haven’t even requested a copy of my transcript or diploma for the first course.
Women are supposed to be building each other up, for ever we have helped one another -raise babies, pray, stay strong in faith, cook meals for other families and even offered to help cook or clean for our female friends and acquaintances when they needed it the most.
We are supposed to be lifting each other up and instead this crazy world of social media, on every platform, has become a game of trying to be better or look better or take better photos or eat better foods or pray better. A game of my way is better than your way and the most beautiful of people from Facebook to Twitter to Youtube have worked hard to cut those life giving umbilical cords to the One who always loves and always pulls us up by showing us their ugly sides.
It is hard to not be pulled down when in the back ground they are spreading rumors, exposing your private moments and your broken-hard is exposed for the entire world to see.
I am having to remind myself daily as I check in with my soul that my faith in Christ has not changed, but my faith in humanity is definitely in question. It is so much easier to slam the laptop closed and keep it all inside, locked away inside the confines of my mind, but like the Queen song says “I want to break free” and in order to be healthy, I need to.
I am definitely on the defensive, my stress levels high and every one who I was trusting as my “church” community whether in real life or online has fallen into this line of wonderment where my PTSD is triggered and I have to ask myself “can I trust you?”
As I raise my hands up and breath in deeply and lift my heart I know that I am being held by God. And that is all that really matters.