Thursday, November 19, 2015

a little late, but this is for Lamar & you, too:

Where do we find meaning when life steals the very breath out of us?
Where do we find meaning when our dreams become something fleeting?
Where do we find meaning when the ones we love cannot be reached?
Where do we find meaning when life feels absolutely meaningless, left destroyed by pain and overcome with heartache?

It's not in the hands of a love. It's not underneath the covers.
It's not succumbing to invisibility. And it definitely is not in giving up.

We look about every which way and we search, we search for meaning amidst the meaningless.

It's a desperate search when our eyes fall upon everyone and every last thing, but Him.

Our hands might be fragile and empty and our arms might be tired of carrying the weight.

It might be so.

But life will forever remain meaningless, if we seek to find our meaning in someone, somewhere else.

I'm done with trying to make sense of brokenness. I'm done with trying to gently place a pile of bandaids on a gaping wound. I'm done with telling myself and everyone else that we have to be okay.

Let's be done.

Let's stop becoming convinced that we have to have all this together, that our lives have to be a painted picture of perfection because, last time I checked we hear more stories of the famous untouchables, being just like us.

The ones we assume that have life all together and money in the bank are the ones being found by their loves broken, hiding underneath the covers.

They are not untouched by pain. No not even them, they are not untouched by pain.

And yet, we criticize them for caving in under the pressure.

But just like you and I, life to them feels meaningless at times, and meaning is sought to be a material, someone, or somewhere else.

I cave.
You cave.
They cave.
We all cave.

It's heartbreaking to think that we convince ourselves that the broken need to man up and become stronger, because we have no idea what their battlefield looks like; we have no idea that they might be contemplating an easier way of surrender, a way out.

That famous untouchable is someone's son or daughter, father or mother, best friend or lover. And their life is being tossed aside by open criticism; their life is being taken too soon by depression.

No one is untouched by pain.
No, there is not one.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

come & go

My life has been one of coming and going, since I was an awkward fifteen. The going of course was always the hardest part, because my sunburned cheeks were marked with traces of tears and the walk to the van always seemed like an eternity 

And I know there were some capable of leaving the goodbyes to the moment, but I was always the one who took the goodbyes with me. I was the one who would find an open seat in the van to sit still in my tears. I was the one who contemplated the return in the very moment, I was leaving.  

It wasn't ever understood. It's not even understood, now.  

People have always raised their eyebrows when I tell them my first love wasn't a man, but my God. People have always questioned my lack of a boyfriend for twenty-plus years and my crazy love for a country.  
People have never attempted to stop questioning and with time, I have never attempted to stop answering.  

But I know all the questions and answers in this world cannot suffice to depict the call, the call to move.  

I know it isn't normal, but I never asked God for normal. I asked God for more.  

Thirteen years spent living out of a suitcase and failing to pack lightly. Thirteen years spent captivated by a country and at times, content with being empty-handed and unattached. 

Thirteen years spent being affirmed that Mexico wasn't just a place on a map, but a place I was made for.  

Thirteen years and over thirty short-term trips have turned into a little house on Cerro de Punhuato, four houses up from where I spend all of my days and nights.  

Five years spent being affirmed that Morelia wasn't just a place mentioned in a book, but a place my heart was meant to call home, for however long my God chooses to see fit.  

But in the coming and going, my heart hasn't stopped trying to hold onto has also tried to hold onto people.  

I haven't just packed my own bags, but I have tried to pack the bags of the ones I have met along the way to join my journey, but my journey is not theirs.  

I might have the purest of intentions to want their sweet company along the way, but it doesn't matter. They weren't meant to be mine, forever, not even for a time. They were always HIS.  

But I have tried my hand at packing their bags, too. I have tried to take them with me and live in the state of unending goodbyes. However, it's in the unending state of goodbyes, when I lose myself in the present.  
My purest of intentions are faulty and unwarranted, at best. The results are always unsuccessful, because some people are only meant to stay for seasons and they cannot be securely kept under lock and key.  

I cannot take people with me. 

Sure, I can steadily stay and sit with them, but I cannot pack their bags and force their hearts to move, when it isn't their time.  

I cannot take them with me. I must understand that their journey is not the same as mine.  
I cannot live in the state of unending goodbyes. I must live in the present.  
I cannot pack their bags. I must only pack my own.  

Peace has started to come in waves, because for the first time ever in my twenty-eight years: I am realizing that I was never meant to carry the bags of others, I was never meant to take anyone with me, I was never meant to dwell in the state of unending goodbyes.  

I, alone, was made for my journey of coming and going, packing and unpacking, loving and losing, teaching and learning.  

And I'm beginning to walk into a new season, a season that comes with being misread and misunderstood, because I'm finally claiming what is mine. With this season comes a surrender, surrendering the ones I have always tried to take with me, and understanding that with walk-outs and wildnernesses, my love doesn't become lost on them. It just results in a realistic recognition that the ones I love cannot be taken and innocently placed on a shelf, always within my heart's reach, but instead sometimes I have to give them up and over to the one who they truly belong to. I have to trust that Jesus has them. He always has.  

And so I realize that this season isn't one of striving to hold onto people or pack up their bags to come alongside me; it's a season of beautiful surrender. It's a season that God has written just for me, a season that I spent years longing for and denying simultaneously, for fear that I was asking too much of Him.  
I hear him calling me to come further and He's gently whispering to my heart, "you maybe the most misunderstood of all, but I understand you. You may only hear the harsh critics, but my voice will drown out their blatant noise. You may find the promised support to be a ghost of years' past, but I am with you and my love lasts. Pack your bags, love, there is more to the more you asked for those thirteen years ago. There's more than you know." 

And my trembling hands still and my heart stirs at his voice of truth, because I know that He has understood me long before I knew...  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

his question

I am sitting in absolute stillness and I find you speaking over me…it's not the thunderous voice that so many describe…instead, it's a whisper, a whisper that causes my rushing nature to resist the urge to move in the midst of my busyness. 

A voice, barely above a whisper cries out to me, "have you seen how far I have brought you?"

A question full of Fatherly tenderness, one whose wisdom captivates those in His wake. 

It's a question that reminds me that He has defied odds with my story, because at times in my weakest hour I let the enemy convince me...that my empty hands defined me, that there was nothing better than my pale idea of perfection, and that the walls so carefully constructed for years needed to remain, standing. 

I spent years in hiding. 
I spent years confronting huge decisions with ease, but scared to death of the daily decisions. 
I spent years choosing heartache and loss over healing and love. 

and He whispers, ever still, 

"Have you seen how far I have brought you? 
You were the fragile daughter, frail from indecision, fearful of new surroundings, and feeble from your people-pleasing.  
My girl, who hid from people by cowering in the corner.  
My girl, the one who locked away her voice and only expressed her feelings in written word. 
My girl, "have you seen how far I have brought you?"

That question wrecks my heart, because how many times has His voice broke the overbearing silence?

How many times have I chosen busyness over His quiet, innumerable blessings?

How many times have I chosen survival instead of thriving?

How many times have I placed all my hope in someone so imperfect, that he turned out to be perfectly human?

How many times have I poured out all that I am and refused to let Him fill me?

But He breaks through these trail of thoughts…and this time His voice firmly resonates within me,

"I have loved you through all of those times."

and my soul quakes, 

because I know He has. 

He has loved me through all of those times. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

it's been twenty-eight years [for the loves I have met along the way, a look back]

I am sitting in front of a blank page and in front of a new year.

Twenty-eight years have fallen from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Twenty-eight years spent in desperate attempt at finding who I am in the likes of others and a host of wrong places, but twenty-eight years spent recognizing that the God of my parents could also be the God of my life, too.

Twenty-three years spent realizing that Jesus, that unknown man crying out on a cross on TV when I was just five was a real-life story, that it was nothing to be taken lightly.

The prayer that was prayed with my parents that day changed my life forever.

Eighteen years ago to this day, one of the biggest loves of my life baptized me on my tenth birthday. And I honestly think that is when everything started making sense. That’s when I realized the prayer that fell off my lips in hushed repetition when I was so young meant that I was choosing to live for more.

Thirteen years my heart has held a love for a country so out of my element, a love for a language so foreign to my grammatically correct English that refuses to shorten words, and a love for a people set apart to love the girl that used to just hide behind the scenes.

Because thirteen years ago, I found myself reveling in His presence at Rio Bravo Orphanage…I knew maybe thirty words in Spanish, but it didn’t seem to matter. The love that I left with for those kids; that love was GOD. I couldn’t have come up with it, myself.

Thirteen years of telling Jesus that I was okay with it just being us. One of those prayers that you pray, because you feel you have to; one of those prayers that people will tell you will erase the longing and will make you complete. But it never happened, not until I fully reckoned with what I was telling Jesus. Not until I realized that half-hearted, barely spoken-aloud prayers fall on deaf ears and that really Jesus has always wanted me to just be completely honest.

Ten years have been spent cowering in the midst of clothes and realizing that I am stronger than what myself and most others believe. Ten years spent surrounded by a cast of crazy characters that find hope in each other and respite in reveling in second-hand treasures with a coke in hand and a laughter that cannot be contained. Ten years of being adopted by a grandfather, a dear boy and a score of mothers who are convinced that while I have chosen a crazy life, they are always ready and waiting to take me back.

Ten years since having to figure out what living life on my own meant and understanding that while others may consider you and your table misfits and outcasts that you are okay with it, because that’s where you feel most known.

It’s been nine years since I found my feet stepping out of a van among a group of almost-strangers in what I would soon see as my forever home. Nine years since my dreams became adamant on living with an open door and an open heart for the children that refused to let me go after a few days time. And I would end up telling the world in an attempt to just get there and to just settle into what my heart knew was home. But it would be years, it would be years before anyone would really give a girl with a dream, bigger than logic, the time of day. There would be a constant battle of packing and unpacking, the sweetest of hellos and the harshest of goodbyes for a number of years before I would find myself making the Baja home.

It’s been nine or so years since I was teetering on the edge and off the radar, ten years of assuming that “my everything” existed in just one, the one that would come in and out of my life to his choosing.

It’s been eight years since I packed up all of my worldly belongings and said goodbye to my familiar, moving eight hours away to a place that I just happened to stumble upon online.

Eight years since finding true friendships, the kind of friends that walk into your life and in that very minute, you realize life will never be the same, whether or not you find yourselves meeting on a daily basis…life was changed as you knew it. And you were better for it. I was better for it.

Eight years since finding another home away from home in Highland, Indiana and loving on the people He gave me for a time.

Four years of teaching at a place that was just a city I couldn’t pronounce, the home of a beautiful cathedral and a building in the heart of the city that Max Lucado became fond of. And these four years, they are the ones that leave me speechless.

And a few months after my first time at NOE, I would give my dream a try…I would brave making my dream come true with a fellow heart. We were the teachers, the directors, the contractors and the drivers…and while I just knew nine years before that Baja was home…I would be tested, my heart would be open and exposed to a pain, a pain of missing the place that was just once a place on a map. It would be a time of trying to make it work, but realizing that God’s story for my life never once held finality and that He wasn’t done yet. People would tell me that I was giving up on my children and I was so hurt that I started to believe them. But if I look back, that fellow heart is still working for those babies that will always, always have a piece of my heart. She’s thriving. And I just needed to go there for the beginning; God took care of the rest of it.

Four years of experiencing healing and the finality that comes with realizing that “that one” was never enough. Realizing that there isn’t one that will ever be enough, because God is enough.

It’s been two years since I worked fifty-plus hours on average and tried living stateside for a time, just so I could return to my heart. But Jesus, He used that year. He used those students and that teacher and while you found rejection creeping back to you in the form of an email; He still received the glory.

It’s been a year of you having to leave earlier than expected, but the grace of God made sure that you returned. He made sure that while those were some of the most painful goodbyes, that hellos would take place just a few months afterwards.

It’s been almost a year since you ran your first half-marathon and finished your Master’s and those my dear girl are moments to be proud of, because you didn’t think you could do it, but with grace and God on your side you stomped on your own past running records and you successfully aced your Master’s program.

Two years of speaking up and speaking out before being asked and understanding that while I may have received a gift of words in written form, that sometimes God speaks words into my life that need to be spoken, rather than written and stowed away for a rainy day.

And hey, twenty-eight, I think a could write a book about the life you have seen up to this point and it’s on the list for the near future, but until then, make sure you understand that life isn’t meant to be spent living in the shadows, nor is it to be spent alone with your books. You lived that life for a time, because fear kept your heart on lockdown.

But those moments of stepping out up to this point have been worth it. My how they have been worth it. Those are the moments that you will always look back upon, those are the moments that will at some point grace the pages of your book…because your story started when you started letting people in. Your story started when you began to understand that there is so much more to this life than you. Your story started when you understood that your perfection pales in comparison to the perfection of your Maker, the only one who truly knows you.

Gratitude fills my heart, because my parents are my two biggest cheerleaders. Their constant presence these past twenty-eight years have molded me into the woman that I am, today. Thank you Mom and Dad for giving me over to Jesus since my first day on this side of Heaven, thank you for cheering on my dream even when it’s something so out of the ordinary. Thank you for passionately seeking God and for being my two prayer warriors from the very beginning. Thank you, dear brother, for inspiring me, for loving me and for sitting with me in the mess and chaos. Your presence, some twenty-something years ago, is a gift that I refuse to discount. Grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins….my family, I also have you to thank. Thank you for loving me and wrapping me up in your embraces all these years.

And for you, the one on the other side of these no longer empty pages, wherever we met, you, too, played a significant role in my life. Thank you for the years or simply the season of being for me. Thank you, because these twenty-eight years wouldn’t be the same without you. And may you know, that maybe it has been years since last seeing each other, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still on my heart, that doesn’t mean you have been erased from my prayers and my memory. You are still ever with me and I am who I am today, first because of God’s grace and then because of you.