When You Go and Return

The smell of wet earth is one of my favorite smells in all the world. All the landscape is green and grey, grass and clouds. Winter is never brown here. Nothing is ever brown here! It’s all the rain that makes the Tuis sing, and the ferns unfurl, and the moss cling to every surface. It holds to the air, making me want to breathe in more than I need to–like I can’t get enough of that green air inside of me!   Read More »

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My Individualistic Approach to Community

For the past three years, almost everybody I know has been living, breathing, building, destroying, and building again this concept of community. It has been the single messiest, loveliest journey I have ever witnessed and participated in. I am blessed to be surrounded by people willing to brave the scary parts of relationship. We’ve gone places, walked through grief, pulled apart, stitched ourselves together again,   Read More »

My New Old Story

“We stand in life at midnight, we are always on the threshold of a new dawn”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

We embrace New Years as a state of mind in which we attempt to fold up the past and define a new future. I like that idea. I like the idealistic notion of a well closed ending, a giant count-down and a ceremonious beginning after which everything is a new story.   Read More »

Recap 2012: Photography

In 2012 I undertook several new ventures. I have always threatened (myself) to quit everything else and go study art. This last semester I made true on that promise (well, except for the quitting-everything-else part). I finally decided that this impulse wasn’t going anywhere, and I needed to get behind a pencil and a camera. So I took my first art classes–one in digital photography and one in freehand drawing. I have to say, it is incredibly satisfying to get to the end of a year and know that you have actually done something you have always wanted to do. Perhaps more importantly, I reached the end of this year feeling like I had become more of somebody I want to be.

So I would like to share with you some of the progress of my daring greatly.Read More »

A Heart that Turns

It’s been one of those evenings. I have many different kinds of those evenings. This has been the kind of 3 books and a Bible and a guitar (accompanied with a giant brown blanket, some lingering Christmas lights, and a pumpkin muffin). I read a verse. “Ahh that’s so true!” I exclaimed and starting talking to Jesus about it. Then I cried. Then I told Him something I’m really needed to get off my chest. Then I opened a book. I didn’t make it far. More tears, comments, songs. Back and forth, reading, crying, praying, singing, exclaiming, asking. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not been a top-of-the-mountain, revelatory moment. It’s been a my-soul-cries-out kind of moment. I’ve been telling Him about some very particular heartbreaks. About some losses, some failures, some regrets and some disappointments. I’ve been pointing out to heaven those little corners in meRead More »

What Lies Behind

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“You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” – Psalms 139:5-7

I have always taken comfort in times of uncertainty that He is the God who goes before me–that He prepares the way, and is in my future before I ever get there. It’s somewhat easy for me to trust Him with the things that have yet to happen, but recent history has challenged how well I trust Him with the things that lie behind. A few weeks ago as I was taking my 7 minute drive to school, I tuned into K-Love thinking, I bet there’s something playing right now I need to hear. Sometimes those 2 or 3 songs that carry me down the 44, give me just what I need to approach the day right. It’s almost my last ditch effort at perspective readjustment on days when there hasn’t been time for anything else!

Chris Tomlin was singing his new song, “I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind…” I was struck. He stands behind me! How had half the impact of this reality never made its way home? I wasn’t scared about my future, I was scared about my past. I was scared of the things I couldn’t do anything about–the things that had already passed through that small window in which I have the chance to alter them. We are powerfully present in our lives in only a sliver of time. We don’t get to go backwards and forwards and make adjustments based on lessons learned and perspectives gained. When today comes, I greet it with today’s wisdom, today’s resources, and today’s state of mind and heart. And then today leaves me, and it goes into a part of my life I can’t pick up again. Tomorrow isn’t so scary because it still has so many chances. Yes, it’s unknown and uncertainty gives fear, but it also gives hope. Where is the hope in yesterday?

He stands behind. I got excited and relieved. Although it’s hard for a time-constrained brain to comprehend, I knew with sudden sureness that the comfort of trusting a God who stands in my future could be applied to a God who simultaneously stands in my past. He’s still there. He’s still working it out. He hasn’t let yesterday go. He’s not done with it yet. Though I can’t do anything, He can, and wherever He is, there is grace, and grace makes beautiful. Trust means not only that I move forward with confidence of a good future, but that I let go with surety that He will take care of the things I no longer can. The deepest beauty and freedom of a life surrendered is that nothing is beyond redemption for a God who stands behind.

Small Steps

In times when I feel behind and desperate to compensate with large leaps, I am gently reminded to find my way through small steps. I have a conviction that they are one of the best ways to get anywhere. There is nothing in this world that you could want to do that you can’t take a small step towards. Often the felt obligation to start out with a ceremonious leap prevents us from ever beginning. We become lost beneath ambitions we are yet incapable of. But when you focus on what you do have within your grasp, it makes for progress. Today I cannot write that book of mine, but I can write this post. I cannot disperse all of my fears and insecurities, but I can choose to seek truth.

I could psych myself up for six weeks to make a great movement, or I could just move a little each day as I can and find myself further along. Life and progress is found nestled between turkey samwiches, morning showers, and the picking up of a book. Oh but we are swooned by the big! Big movements look progressive and create the sensation of purpose. Simply completing the process of the here and now has a drab coating to it. But motion breeds motion, and the daily warms up engines for great enterprises. It’s not just that those journeys of thousands of miles start with one step. It’s that those journeys are completely comprised of, from beginning to end, small steps. That makes today so very important. So very possible.

A Promise to Myself

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I will find the courage to move forwards. I will remember with kindness. I will take the time to heal. I will let my steps be small if that is all they can be. I will brave my visions to be big. I will seek spaces in which to dream. I will press against the voices of fear that echo through holes made by disappointment. I will rise above pain. I will strengthen my identity. I will forgive myself. I will celebrate.