Forever Altered by Their Simple Presence

Door gate
Wooden door gate
I wrote this poem back in 2007 in honor of a friend who had come from Austria. He’d lived in the US for 5 or 6 years with his aunt and uncle and ultimately decided he would go back to his parents in Europe. That was heart breaking. Not just for me, but for all of us in our youth group. He was a kind hearted guy who was like a brother to me growing up in my teen years. This was the very first time someone close to me had left the picture and permanently. I mourned his loss a long time. Not because he died, but because our friendship changed and over time and seas, it died. I know he got married and is a dad now. He’s happy and that makes me happy. Still, I think of all the fun filled times we had together with our youth group fondly. Doing doughnuts in the church parking lot, stints to Miami. Laughing and singing together. Those were the songs of our youthful hearts.

But reading over this poem recently, I’ve realized that this wasn’t just for him. It’s as valid a statement in my life now as ever. And yes, I can say indeed God has been faithful in bringing me the friendships I always need to sustain me in the darkness as well as the light. So here’s to you! A sweet friend, who’s presence alters me forever…

~                    ~                   ~                       ~                        ~                      ~                       ~                     ~

Life is an incredible journey

That takes us to unimaginable places

And brings amazing people into our lives.

 

It is like riding a wave

With many ups and downs.

 

Sometimes we soar

And sometimes we sink

So deep we believe it is the end.

 

But it is in times like these

That a true friend finds us

And pulls us back up.

 

Each friend we make on our journey

Is special in their own way.

 

Many come and go.

Some we know longer than others.

Some we see every day,

 

While others, we may

never meet face to face;

each leaves us with a lesson.

 

Something we learned

through what we survived together.

 

During the course of our lives,

each lesson shapes us.

It makes us into who we are.

 

Though many friends may only

have a small impact on our lives,

There are a few that deeply change us.

 

Even though we don’t know where

Life’s journey will take us,

 

We can hold on to this:

We’ve been changed by these-

Forever altered by their simple presence.

 

They were meant to be- to be there,

In the midst of our lives and help shape

us into who we were always destined to be.

A Meaning Beyond

IMG_1732

If you don’t know what the White Rose Society was then you may miss the overall power of the message written by Sophie Scholl, one of the members. It was a peaceful band of resistance to the ideals of Nazi Germany. Most of its members were college students. A portion of them were caught with leaflets on campus and executed for treason. Sophie write these words soon before her death. She knew that she wanted so much more and believed in deeper things than what Hitler and his Nazi agenda threw out for all to swallow whole.

All the Nazi issues aside, the deeper issue remains here. Truth. It resounds deep within us. We all know it when we see it. We feel our souls turn over in their graves. The the graves of mass produced artificial lives, plastic lives. They are lives filled to the brim with activities that society tells us (and we tell ourselves) that mean something. They represent status, where we are in life. As if we have somewhere to go every night of the week it means we are deeply connected. Connected to friendships, to people, to places, to what we do. But the truth is, for most of us we are not.

We are running our race on empty looking beside us instead of within. We pretend what we have and what we do can fill the leaky void in or souls, but really nothing but truth can do that. And truth is really a measurable, quantifiable thing.

Ultimately, God is truth and his truth brings us to all the deeper meanings we seek so badly and yet fall short of.

 

Wells and Faucets

pexels-photo-29534

“There is a current stirring deep inside

It’s overflowing from the heart of God

The flood of heaven crashing over us

The tide is rising, rising…

We come alive in the river.

We come alive in the river.

   -Jesusculture-

Though we all have God’s power available to us, our forgiveness ready for the taking, we do not all have the same strength to fight those battles we need to in order to walk in fullness instead of defeat. For some, they are fighting too many battles already, some of which are not theirs to fight but they have to fight them anyway. They are hurting, dragging on in the life they live. They can’t walk in the same kind of victory as others, at least not yet. There needs to be healing first and that takes time. Sometimes it takes years even for healing to begin. For some of us, it’s a longer and harder process of finding that victory in Christ. Things like depression, anxiety disorder, past hurts, abuse, etc- all come into play in holding us back. We don’t trust easy. We want to but we can’t.

This is how I think of it. If God is the river running through town, all have access to its pure life-giving waters. We all need water to live and can drink whenever we want as much as we want. However, for some of us, all we have to do is to turn on the faucet. Others have to walk a few blocks to the well, dip a big jar into its waters, and haul up the heavy load of life-preserving goodness inch by inch. Then we have to walk home with it on our shoulders and do it all again tomorrow.

Those at the well are the ones battling. We are the ones scared beyond reckoning. Our ability to gain that necessary living water is there, it just takes so much more of our life force in the time and even the effort it takes to get it. We battle and we do it hard, but we cannot be equal to those who have not had those deep, radiating wounds that only heal an inch at a time, those brutal assaults on our minds and hearts.

pexels-photo-5 copy 5 So be kind, remember everyone is fighting a different battle, some for far longer than you and they are tired. They are running at the pace of turtles but they keep going. The last thing they need is for one more person to tell them they aren’t good enough. So do not look down on them and say they should be where you are, offer them a cup of water, instead, and a hand. Fight with them when they can’t fight anymore. Encourage them, cheer them on.

You’ll be amazed at how far they can go when others stand with them.

It’s 2017. A new year has begun, a fresh page in the story of our lives has come. On this first day of the year, the sun was out shining though it was pleasantly cool. Just a perfect dawning for a new year.

I couldn’t resist the urge ,so I took a drive. Windows half rolled down, music blaring- I drove through one of my most favorites local spots. It’s a tiny town nearby dubbed Gray Forest. There’s nothing gray about it, despite the name.

As I was driving at snails pace through the tiny one laned “streets” of Grey Forest, I heard the birds sweetly singing  their songs. Squirrels danced in the hollows of trees, bouncing every which way. Cars lined the driveways of each house I passed. Life was happening as usual on a Sunday afternoon.

Then it struck me. It’s a new year. But life is still going on. Life doesn’t stop. Not for us to take in its delights, not to hold still so we could mourn our losses. Time runs. Life just is. I spent a lot of time missing the “old days” this past year. I’ve wondered why I came to Texas. Why God sent me to this place where it seemed life ran fast leaving me without roots to sink into the rock solid ground. As soon as I’d plant, everything changed. I was running to try to catch up and all in unfamiliar untilled soil. And all I wanted was what I had before. Strange enough when I left Florida 5 years ago now, I was so ready. I was ready to have no semblance of what I had known until then. I was ready to traverse the path without glancing back. Yet here I am, yearning for those times that no longer exist. Just like this tiny town. Life was speeding by and I was trying to hold it still.

Houses were being built, hope of future kindling under their wings. Some were selling, their signs desperately displayed out front begging for a taker, wanting a new beginning elsewhere.

Life. As plain and simple as it could be, yet filled to the brim with beauty. The beauty God has put in it. He’s gifted us a life. Only one. We can’t go back and do it again. So let’s look forward to making the rest of it what we desire.

This one is mine and I have discovered that Texas is my NARNIA, but more on that in part 2 of this post due on Sunday. Here are some pics from my drive…

Texas is my Narnia part 1

The Light

The Light

woman-happiness-sunrise-silhouette-40192

There is heartbreak in my heart,

A gaping hole in my soul and

fear clutches at my very being.

I fall and cry out,

“Who am I, Oh God?”

but there is only silence.

I curl into a ball and

let the tears of agony fall.

The silence is deafening.

Only my screams are heard,

echoing through the hollow night.

Darkness embraces me, icy and cold.

In the vast darkness a voice rings.

It is soft and tender, inviting.

I strain to hear.

It sounds. It resounds,

In the deep hollow of my soul’s night.

It echos inside my empty heart.

But from within comes a warmth.

It fills me, amazes me.

I can’t explain it, can’t understand it.

“YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE,”

the voice reverberates.

It echos inside me.

My anguished depths cry out:

I once did, but no longer.

My words come without voice.

I am no one. I have become nothing,

This is the rebutal my torn soul gives,

the answer a shattered life spews.

Still, He hears. He hears ME.

Despite my lack of words He vibrates

within those awful confines called body.

Without warning,

out of the darkness

a piercing light comes to life.

It blinds me. Ignites my insides.

It consumes me, yet sustains me.

It is an ecstasy that burns me.

The voice thunders inside me.

YOU ARE MINE,

 A PRECIOUS JEWEL AMONG DIAMONDS.  

“YOU ARE A DELICATE FLOWER,

YET YOU’RE MY WORLD.

YOU HOLD THE LOVE OF THE ANCIENT OF DAYS.  

“YOU EXALT THE HEART OF THE GREATEST

WITH YOUR JUBILATION AND

TEAR IT TO SHREDS AS YOU DESPAIR. 

“YOU HOLD WITHIN YOU THE SPIRIT

OF THE MOST HIGH.

YOU ARE ALL THERE IS. MY EVERYTHING.  

“IT IS FOR YOU THAT I GAVE MYSELF,

FOR YOU I LONG IN THE DAYLIGHT,

AND FOR YOU I WILL ALWAYS FIGHT.

“YOU ARE MY HEIR, MY INHERITANCE

THAT WHICH I DESIRE TO BE NEAR.

BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, I WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.” 

The words penetrate my soul.

They pound with the beats of my heart,

filling the empty spaces.

They fill every space in between.

They are truth, they are Love,

They are Life, eternally.

I open my eyes and let in the Light.

The  darkness falls away.

Fear evaporates into oblivion.

Doubt ceases.

My mind quiets and my heart melts.

Fire consumes me and I soar.

I look into the heart of the God

that sees me, and I remember.

I recall my identity.

It is not in me, but within Him.

His essence creates me, sustains me.

Every moment, it completes me.

There in His soul is love.

Joy floods His heart seeing me fulfilled.

He offers me His hand.

I take it and

Love drowns me.

It makes me new.

Love sweeps me away

to that place of no return.

Where I’ll never be the same.

It is where Love meets us,

In our disparage, our worthlessness

And make us whole.

Love. It gives life.

Love is in the Light

and He is the Light.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Writer’s Prayer

Waterman Perspective Fountain Pen in Black

The Writer                                                                                                                       

                1                                                                              2

     I am a writer                                                        I write to give life

You have made me so.                                         to hidden glories untold,

   I am not an author                                            to bring up, encourage

             (of yet)                                                        to free the captives that

          not a poet                                                      cannot write clean their souls

        not a lyricist                                                    in iron clad confessions

      nor a song writer

 

3

Help me, O Lord

to bear well this

gift of might,

the iron pen,

with a true heart

and noble spirit.

Let me not write

curses of death

unto others, but life

abundant in all

experiences.

 

Elf to B.C.

book-read-reading-blanket-79697I recently got the opportunity to help out a children’s hospital and deliver a boat-load of presents and money to one family in need, and one sick little boy.

They do it every year. This one unit of nurses at Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital gives of their own money to bring a smile to one deserving child and their whole family each Christmas. They go all out and get EVERY SINGLE THING on that child’s Christmas list and the list of their family. One nurse had another little boy in his neighborhood want to help and he started a lemonade stand. He raised 30 dollars but when word got out about what he was doing other neighbors decided to match what he raised. The little boy ended up influencing a sum of $500. So that nurse got $500 dollars worth of gift cards and gave it to this year’s recipient.

This year’s recipient is one little boy, who we will call BC (the Big Cheese), and who is currently fighting cancer for the second time. His mom has also faced cancer, herself, so this has to be a very terrible thing to watch her sweet 8 year old boy go through chemo, knowing exactly what he is feeling and probably hating that she can’t do a thing to make it better.

Because the gift giving was meant to be a completely anonymous gifting, insert me. I got to do the delivering.  So 5 pm, I pulled up to the house with one of the nurses who packed me with the gifts. I rang the bell and BC’s mom answered. Just as I was telling her who I was, a bald little head was bobbing down the stairs coming for me. Despite some facial disfigurement from reconstructive surgery, he had a big old grin on his face.

Processed with VSCO with e5 preset“That’s a lot of presents!” he said as his mom was helping me toss gifts under their bare tree. I smiled. “You must be BC…”

“Yeah.”

“These are for you! From the little elves from the Children’s hospital.”

“Thank you!” He grinned sweetly. He gave me a hug and then I was on my way. It was a 90 second encounter. Yet, it was one that will stay with me and probably with them too for a long time.

There is nothing like seeing the simple joys of a child light up your soul when their joy is activated. I work with kids all day and it never gets old. They love so purely. They celebrate their little joys so freely. It’s such a beautiful gift to be able to see this every day at work. Yet, to see a sick little boy beaming from ear to ear is even better. It is all the Christmas I need.

Above all I am grateful to God for this opportunity to be a tiny insignificant part of this amazing team of nurses who have such a heart for their job- that is their patients. I am thankful to have been able to be their hands and feet and bring joy to one little very significant heart who’s struggle is so much bigger than he is, but who has so much joy!

Beauty for Ashes…

pexels-photo-172217

The saying “we always want what we can’t have” in life seems to be a prophesy for this season of my life. 6 and a half years ago I wanted a change so bad, a new phase. I felt called away by God and I craved an unknown life- a shift. I craved it for 2 years and then finally I moved halfway across the country in search of a new journey, a path to my destiny. I was ready then- 5 years back when I was boarding a plane to Texas- to fly the coop and never look back. I was ready to leave everyone and everything I had ever known behind. And I did. And it was hard. It still is at times. I’ve considered going back. I’ve considered what I want. I’ve considered what is easy. But I also know there is something greater than myself at work. The God of the universe, El Roi the God who sees, and He sees me.
This year, more than ever, I have found myself yearning deeply for all those things familiar, all those memories of old.

I find myself wishing I could go back and live it again. That time of simplicity. Those familiar faces and routines. But I can’t. Even if I went back physically nothing would be the same. Too much time has passed and as things do, they change. But they changed without me and so they are strange to me.

I can’t go back. None of us can. We can only go forward. That is the only option left for any of us. We can just make the best of the future that’s before us. It might be a strange, unknown future but ultimately it is what we make of it. And I will choose to make it beautiful. I will make it Merry and Bright. Even in the unknown, even in the fear or pain. I know it will be beautiful because God’s hand is in it. I will CHOOSE to see his hand at work and wonder at His greatness, His Love, His ability to make beauty out of ashes. I choose to see hope.

Bumps for Advent…

bumps

There are always going to be bumps in the road, I’ve recently learned, but that’s where God comes in. Many times without the bumps we really wouldn’t think we needed God. In reality, we do. We need someone so much less limited than we are to carry us when we fall… and we will all fall.

In those rare moments of depth on a show like ‘Friday Night Lights’ comes out this beautiful nugget of truth:

Image-6

We seem to think that nothing bad can touch us if we go about our ordinary mundane, but being present at the wrong time, the wrong place- or just going about our life…well disaster can easily happen. And life is different because of the presence of one single moment in time, where we fell victim. Victims to circumstance, to the death of a loved one, to betrayal of our own body, to any number of things that can happen that leave us changed forever.

This isn’t being negative… it’s being realistic. Disasters happen. But enjoying the now, basking in what we have even if it is not perfect is needed, because as the saying goes ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” is quite true.

However, truer yet, is “you knew what you had, you just never thought you’d lose it.” Taking things for granted leads us into danger: the danger of always looking ahead to when the road is smooth and never a pothole in sight. The reality is, it may never EVER be that way so you can’t waste your life waiting around for what may to come.

The deep voiced, smooth talker, Kyle Chandler , continues with this:

Image-8

There will come a time for every one of us to face that fact that we are terminal, we have an expiration date. And sooner or later we will meet our maker. We will be unable to justify ourselves before a perfect, blemishless God. But that’s why He gave us His everything. He gave us everything in his son Jesus. But most of the time, we were too busy to remember, to see it or care. Until a moment stops us. Until something we cannot ignore crashes down on us. Those are the moments priorities align. Those are the clarity filled moments that bring all that’s hidden inner hearts to light.

And for some of us, we need to be stopped in our tracks, stopped in consuming life like it’s just water. We need to hear the clear whispers of an Almighty God, who is always there, always unchanging upholding us in our weakest and our greatest moments. We just don’t see Him most of the time because we are too busy. So let us thank God even for the trials, even for the tests. I for do.

So let us remember. Let us remember who we celebrate this Christmas season. Let us remember what really matters. Happy Advent!