there is still so much newness & wonder…

i’ve never been much for resolutions, but as it is the beginning of a new calendar year, i am taking time for reflection and making room for whatever these days will bring. i am ready for some spontaneous adventures as well as a re-envisioning and re-organizing of my life and priorities.

without a doubt, 2011 has been the most staggering and challenging year thus far, so i am thankful for the new calendar number to compliment the newness that i feel. i am not who i once was and i really like who i’m becoming.

(it feels good to say that and really mean it.)

 

this year, in 2012, i am committing to seek out beauty, to grow younger, to let the tears roll where and when they will, to do something creative everyday to feed my soul, to soak in silence, to let go of fear as i learn about love, and to be present to allow all to be felt.

there is still so much newness and wonder to feel.

i refuse to use the word “plan,” so my vision for 2012 is a wholehearted pursuit of my dreams including taking risks, trusting my feelings, and following my heart.

here’s to practicing gratitude. and finding joy in the journey.

 let us bless the not knowing.

this year is already ridiculously amazing. & i’m diving in…

You will lead me by the right road…

I spent most of today outside enjoying the sunshine while it’s still here. Unfortunately, though I struggle to admit it aloud, I know that the “s-word” of the winter season is coming and will stay for 6 or 7 months. I want to soak up as much sunshine as I can while I can…

During the afternoon, I took a walk in the woods and laughed at the wonder of the leaves changing color and danced around beneath tall evergreens. My spirit was lifted, there in love with the world and so grateful for today.

I’m learning about the importance of this moment that is right now because afterall, now is all we know and now is all we have. So, I twirled in the leaves and thanked God for this most amazing day, for the true blue sky, the sweet scented air, the sound of the river rushing over rocks and the sweetness of peace rushing over me. I even thanked Him for the this journey He’s leading me on, though it is still unknown and sometimes scary. All I know is now.

As I prepare to rest for the night, I find comfort in Thomas Merton’s prayer.

Though I do not know the way, I believe the God who created me and loves me is deeply committed to seeing His good and perfect will be made complete in my life. My job is only to TRUST & surrender.
Let that enough tonight. Be still, oh my soul.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end. 
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am
following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you
and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road
although I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you
always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death,
I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave
me to face my perils alone

   

jOy actually is all around

Psalm 118:24 – “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

It’s a curious thing…the way the Lord works. lately, I’ve been thinking a lot though the lens of the phrase, “two years ago,” or “6 months ago,” and shaking my head in wonder and grief and gratitude at noting how much has changed, been broken, shifted, and how now i am beginning to see the works of restoration and redemption. i really could not have imagined that i would be where i am today, doing the work i am doing and even writing, now, about these things on my heart.

God is good!

though there are many topics that seem relevant in my life now, a theme this week has been the renewal of joy in my life. i’ve been remembering the last year and a half of my life in which i’ve mainly viewed joyous people as annoying people. in my brokenness and through the battle of oppression with anxiety, i could not comprehend how in the midst of all of my pain, there could be something to be joyful about. was i the only one experiencing the shitty life?
the only one crying out in desperation, begging for God…or anything, for that matter, to rescue me? how could i possibly rejoice?

to be full of joy was the greatest impossibility i could imagine.
i concluded that there must be something wrong with me because i could not possibly fake joyful and i obviously did not inherit it as a gift or a special ability like those around me seemed to.

by the goodness of God’s grace, i’ve been unraveled and renewed in more ways than i can explain. i feel as if i’ve been broken down and reawakened almost in the same breath as i’ve struggled to live inside the million question inside my head and deep inside my heart. the breakdown…er…awakening…has stirred me in new ways, rerouted my path, and made for a great lesson in relearning love and God and faith.

i feel all at once on the brink of something very big and yet, in the deep darkness of a continued season of waiting and uncertainty. though difficult and sometimes violent in a way, the questions and heavy pains have sent a sort of vibration throughout my being that has bent and reshaped me, calling me to turn myself loose  to moments of grace and goodness right now.

just the other day, i was gardening with my five-year-old brother, Devin, pulling weeds, removing plants that had dried, and thinking about the spiritual metaphor of gardening and renewal and in the midst of it, trying to figure out my life. again. i was deep in thought, in the thick tangle of messages in my head, when my sweet baby brother’s voice interrupted as we pulled a veggie out of the ground amongst the weeds.

“a carrot!!” we exclaimed together, reaching to take hold of the strange orange object that seemed to somehow magically appear as a sort of flash before our eyes. we watched it fall to the ground as we tossed it into the pile of weeds and realizing only seconds later that our carrot had grown!

we admired the small carrot  for a moment in silence and awe and celebrated the garden soil that had so kindly cared for our seeds and birthed a new plant. i held it in my hand and though small in size, it felt heavy for i knew i was holding some sort of miracle.

all at once, Devin pulled the carrot up by its head and, waving around sang out,
“something wonderful has happened! we finally got our carrot!”

i joined him and we danced around the pile of weeds, kicking off our shoes, and stretching our arms out to the sky in gratitude as we spun around in circles together. and i knew the angels were joining us in heaven, singing songs of praise to the God who cares about everything, including our tiny carrot.

Henry Ward Beecher, an 18th century preacher and social reformer spoke on life and justice and suffering with “rockets of poetry and exploding mines of eloquence,” as Mark Twain described it. He once said, “The art of [joy] lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things,” and i know now that this is true…that joy does not magically appear from some far off place, but rather, it is grown and birthed from a inner place in which we decidedly choose to notice the beauty, the grace, and the love that actually is all around. herein lies true joy.

i admit that there are days that i still feel a sort of restlessness in this unknown, but i am encouraged when i think of the seed that the Lord has planted in the womb of my soul and i trust that, like our carrot, there are some things that we simply must wait to receive. i know that everything is a process and a progress, no matter how slow, is all that matters and i am thankful for the slow redemption that i trust in being birthed in me.

i have come to learn now, and am still learning, that gratitude, not understanding is the secret to joy. i do not understand the way in which God is shifting things in my life or the purposes He is preparing me for, but i can choose to look around and give thanks for the moments He’s given me now.

on that sun shiny day with my little brother in our backyard, i was reminded that joy really is a gift, but it is also a practice. we must practice being joyful even in the small things, for we cannot be led to our great destiny if we cannot appreciate these moments today. truly, the joy is in the journey and we must be grateful for each step we take. if we cannot be joyful at this season, for what season shall we wait and for what other time shall we look?

joy comes in recognizing how wonderful life really is.

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
― E.E. Cummings

“It is pleasing to God whenever thou rejoicest or laughest from the bottom of thy heart.” _Martin Luther

John 16:22 – “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”.

tomOrrow finds the beSt way out is thrOugh…

tonight, while driving to visit a friend, i saw a heavy, dark rain cloud lingering in the distance. it hovered low over fields and trees and from the distance, i could see thin streaks of rain falling. i watched in wonder and terror awe from my sunny side on the road and and decided quite confidently that i would stay dry.
even kept my window down.

 “i’ll be fine,” i thought.

 still, only minutes later, as the road turned and my direction shifted, large lumpy raindrops plopped onto my windshield and i quickly rolled up the window.

almost immediately, the raindrops joined with other raindrops, turned into big hail drops and multiplied until i could hardly see the road in front of me. cars slowed, puddles splashed, and it seemed like everything was white ahead of me, the heavy rain blocking the view. i prayed and kept going, following distantly and slowly behind a large truck while its oversized tires pushed mountainous amounts of water my way.

 i wasn’t sure if the road was flooded or if the water gushing down made it look like waves crashing, but all i know is: I WAS SCARED.
Ironically, the song playing on my CD rang out, “I feel the rains of Your love, Let it rain, Let it rain.” Did I ask for this to come? Did I invite the dark, heavy rains to fall?

I couldn’t help but thinking about the current “storm” I’ve been in.
And wondering how I even got here.
Though there was no immediate rain fall, the storm came quickly, heavy and strong. How many times since have I asked,
Did I ask for this? Did I cause this? What did I do wrong?

“It’s amazing how you can everything just happening and life just moving along, and then one day wake up to discover, like St. John of the Cross, your “house being now all stilled.” It’s not that you have let loose the truth that tethers your soul to Christ, it’s just that everything has gone quiet. And dark. ” (Kim Thomas)

Sometimes we don’t even know we’re in the deep end of despair until we get pain in our neck from having to look up from the bottom all the time. Sometimes we don’t even know we’re on a certain road until miles have made their way to the soles of our feet, until the black clouds have opened up and lumpy raindrops have wet our skin.

As I continued to make my way through the rain tonight, I passed by several cars pulled over to the side, just stopped. I considered pulling over myself, but the thought of being stuck in storm scared me more. I wanted to get out of it. I kept going.

 Some short miles later, with my hands tightly gripped to the wheel, my tires met real road, not water, and blue sky beckoned just ahead. I had made it through the storm and the light was returning and I felt calm. and thankful. and free.

 I remembered the cars stopped along the road and thought,
“If only you could just keep going, keep driving a little more, you would get here and see the beautiful sky waiting, the beautiful world just up ahead…”

It gave me hope.

In the dark night of my soul, which St. John of the Cross refers to as the “dense and burdensome cloud which afflicts the soul and keeps it withdrawn my God,” I can be confident of this: I am not alone. There are good things waiting. It’s just up ahead..

 I must keep going.
I must keep going because I simply can’t stop here.
I don’t want to be stuck.
Also, I know that dark nights eventually yield growth.
Seeds lie dormant until they are in the right condition.
Only after the night comes day, comes light.

 
“If, as I wait in the dark, in the quiet uncertainty, I will feed myself the proper soul nourishment, the hard shell of my heart will be broken and exposed. It is only then that I can begin to grow new roots that will sustain me despite the bruising and withering I will endure.” (Kim Thomas).

And when I falter to believe it’s worth the journey, when I fumble for strength, I am reminded of my great Lord pressing on, preserving for the Father’s will. But for the joy set before Him, He endured the despair of humanity, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

You & I are pilgrims on this journey of life, sojourners in a land where inevitably, storms will come, rain will fall, moth and dust will destroy. But we have a hope and we lock our eyes with His, pressing on. & we just keep going. Like all nomads, if we don’t keep walking, we’ll die. There are better days ahead.

Just keep going.

Just keep going.

We will get through this.

"Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord." (Isaiah 50:10)

 “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions
themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign
tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you
would not be able to  live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the
questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along
some distant day into the answer.”
(Rainer Marie Wilke)