Tremble

This past week I have been left with a flux of every emotion known.  A small precious infant life has been lost, silenced and taken too soon.  Questions flood and my bones have inquiries as the darkness quakes in its aftermath.  Why should a young mother bury her 4-week old precious baby girl that just came from her womb?  What kind of a Jesus would pardon such? How can the shadows find light when the ache supersedes the name we cry out to?

Finding her way through the thoughts of a burial of her husband stricken with a death filled cancer, how does she forth come and praise God in the forever darkness she has lost her words in.  As he loses his speech to illness, she cries out, “where are you in the darkness, God?” How do you speak when all of our words are of question that no one can answer.

A family member feels left behind, unloved and alone.  The darkness threatens to take her light and leave her succumbed to the fear of it all.  What if I’m not enough? How does she handle rejection at the hands of what should blanket her with its warmth and ultimate life forward?  She should be moving like a tumbleweed towards the sun, not feeling faced in an ever-turning journey backward.

The still that the sea claims screams out an answer that we didn’t expect.  For God has spoken and He tells us that even in the darkness of it all peace awaits our lungs that beg for His air.  It doesn’t make sense when we cry out, and when He is silent we scream, “your silence makes me fear.” Jesus, oh Jesus.  Help us see You in it all.

When darkness spreads through our blood how do we find reassurance, how do we silence the fear?  When we feel rejected and lost and we smell death at every avenue we take, how do we overcome? The light is dark, the loss is all we can breathe in and the sunshine is caught somewhere in the midst of it all, unable to shine her breath on the land.  The wake is asleep and the Jesus in it all feels confused and silenced. How do we find the voice we beacon as Your song in us?

Through the fear and longing is where we can find our greatest inner ability to fight the battle we have been left to wage on this earth.  It has never been easy and cannot be slighted with our diminishing faith. Yet, the struggle of it all is where the shadows come to light and His name is bellowed from the chasm of our own personal hell into the plethora of His Kingdom He has saved for us.

My hands hold the soft beauty of an aftermath of a storm that has produced a seed of life, free from rage and a wakeless darkness that trembles inside us.  I cannot answer why a baby would die, why a husband could be called home way too soon, or why someone who has given their whole heart to the world is rejected.  All I know is that in the midst of it all He has us, and He is enough.

His name is life and the black that this world can blanket us is overthrown by a rainbow that bleeds its colors over the silenced prayers that we feel fall unheard.

Jesus, we cry.  Jesus, we bellow.  Jesus we need. And in that, the darkness comes to light with sparkles, unimaginable fragments of what we are meant to be.  Even if it encompasses sorrow, especially in the midst of a disparage that brings us to our bloody knees, He makes it known that as we tremble He is our rock.  As we shake, He holds our peace, as we quake, He isn’t shaken.

The rage can be unforgettable as we question the why’s of our life, yet His peace can form our foundation until we can figure it all out and see our life in our peripheral vision that may not come until years later.  His tremble is within us, His shake brings us to the core of who we are. His love is always there as His name shouts, “It is Well. I have overcome. Have faith and jump with me as I get you to the other side.”

Until then your silent prayer isn’t unheard and in it all, His brilliance has to be found within us as we wait.  Be content in the time that we have to be patient until the tremble of God cracks and is only left at the wayside of all that is broken and barren within us.

The Roadmap

Recently after being offered a “great” job at a cosmetic surgery and medical spa my eyes were left wide open to an array of disturbing things that women (and men) do to try and hide the appearance of aging. This is my short lived experience in this world…

maxresdefaultHaving no clue whatsoever that I’ve gotten older physically, mostly because, I’ve rejuvenated myself on the inside, turned the clocks back and have found a new me…I assumed I still looked how I felt…YOUNG!

Oddly, it was brought to my attention that I have what they term as, “laugh lines”.  The complete and total joke of the name ‘laugh lines’ is the interpretation of that catchphrase.  Because apparently “laugh lines” are a bad thing!  Who knew that a laugh could be negative?  Only our society, right?

A few years ago, I was offered a “great” job at a cosmetic surgery and medical spa. Immediately my eyes were left wide open to an array of disturbing things that women (and men) do to try and hide the appearance of aging.

…This is my short-lived experience in this world:

Innocent cosmetic surgery worker after studying my face: “You can have those filled in, you know?”

Me:  “Um, what?”

“The lines around your mouth.  It’s what makes you look older.  They are called laugh lines”

Me:  “Um, what?  I’m older?”  My mind is spinning.  What just happened??  I think I look fine, I mean I did my makeup really good today (so I thought).

Innocent cosmetic surgery worker:  “You may have some prominent frown lines too.”

Me: “Um what?!”

“Yeah, the lines on your forehead, they completely show your age.”

Me: “And what exactly is my age?”

(Yeah, she didn’t answer that one.)

And for a second or two, I can’t answer that one too because I don’t live a life obsessed with numbers.

Innocent cosmetic surgery worker:  “Your eyes look tired and you have the lines on the side of them.  They’re called ‘crow’s feet and It ages you, but you are really ‘pretty’.”

Me: Okay this is getting “old”.

~Am I the only person who laughed yet cried a little at that joke?

“An injection can fill it up quick, then BAM you look younger!”

Me:  And you have had all this stuff done?  (Having no clue how old this person is by her picture-perfect face.)

“Yup, I have!”  She proudly declares.

Me:  And how exactly old are you?

She blushes, “Twenty-Six.  But, I hope I look as good as you at your age.”

Yeah right, you think I look old and tired!

And then and there I ran for the door-busting through it so hard it shattered into a million microcosmic pieces that I’m sure are still floating somewhere in the confines of space.

Let me be clear, crystal clear.  Unrefined, flawless diamond clear, because my rebuttal to twenty-six-year-old cosmetic surgery worker is:

*Laugh lines say I’ve found joy in my life.  So much accounted for overwhelming sunshine has blanketed me that I would never trade a laugh line in exchange for a youthful appearance that no longer is mine to have.

*Frown lines tell me I’ve met sorrow in my life-journey.  I embrace it, not abolish it.  Welcome its cry in the dark of the night, because that is how beguiling sadness is.  It gets you when you least expect it.  But, it has the ability to work even more powerfully than the elation found in life, because if you don’t know what it is like to weep how can you truly find the return to happiness?

*Crows feet indicate to me that I have actually listened to the people I love in this life.  Are you familiar with the contortion your face makes when you are intently listening to a beautiful and heartbreaking story a dear friend is telling you?  Then you hug her neck so hard it hurts.  Isn’t this what life all about, reacting in the moment that we are presented with?  None of us are guaranteed a tomorrow and I chose to seize the day.  Unfortunately, life does not come with a warranty and if life calls for me to ugly cry with a friend,  I’ll take the crows feet with honor and pride.

I vowed long ago that a mirror would never dictate to me my true reflection to the world.  So why would an aging me be sold into the world of seeking something I’m not any longer: twenty-five?

And trust me that isn’t a bad thing.  That is what is SO wrong with our society. Why do we not embrace aging?  Why don’t we hug it tight like a gift we’ve been given after precedence in the dark yearning to taste freedom after living in a prison of self-doubt and body shaming?

Why do we desire so deeply to look like we did when we were 25 at age 43?

How many women who have gone before us didn’t get to blow out those 43 candles on their birthday because they were taken too soon?  How many mothers left their babies unexpectedly and didn’t get to see them grow older?  How many people tragically weren’t able to embrace the beauty of aging due to an abrupt end of their life?  Tell their souls you feel “old” because you don’t look like you did twenty years ago and feel the universe shudder in response.

I want to be remembered for how I made people feel not how I look.

I want to leave the footprint of my perfect imperfections for they ultimately are my beginning and my end.

Our flaws make us who we are and I think that is why they are so sought after to cover them up at any cost.  NO one wants to stand naked in front of the world stating, “I’m messed up!”  In the super crazy social media, mass information age we have the choice now to portray what we want the world, not necessarily who we truly are.  Yet, our missteps and our disparage is what has the stronger ability to make us more relatable.  More real, more human.  It is in our imperfections that others can find their true selves. Not in a false beauty we chose to show, it has never worked that way, why would it now?

I love the lines that are apparently spread all over my face.  After this recent revelation, I cherish them more, try to hide them less and shout from the rooftops that “I am so blessed in this life!”  I have lived over four decades of love, loss, beauty, heartache, and a great big mixture of it all!

My face will show you that each roadmap of fine lines has lead me to a different destination I was meant to arrive at.  And every smooth patch will be taking me on a new adventure that I have yet to go on.

I am striving to be authentic.  A life free of fillers and Botox, the fake precedence some feel is needed to survive as a woman in this life.  I’m fine with taking my chances on what is real, for I find more beauty in the fine lines of life than the smooth ones.  The jagged times have taught me how to navigate heartache, earn resilience, and flourish.

Smooth is easy.  Youth is bliss, yet aging is a brilliant and stunning gift.  And I accept that precious treasure as if it were the reflections of pure gold at the bottom of a river chasing the sea.

Reckless Abandon of Joy

Shamelessly, I haven’t written in over ten months.  Blindly walking through a bliss that has followed me through the past sunup to sundown twenty four hour days of my life, my words have hidden up inside me like a treasure I was afraid to show to the world. Kind of like spring refusing to surface herself to the barren land, my gift has stayed on hiatus.  Why? Oh, why?

In times of lament, my power has been in my words.  Darkness bleeds from me and letters form sentences and struggle dances into the abyss.  Powerful, dark, intrinsic beads of life would flow from my essence, finding their way onto paper and flooding into the fight I would happen to be battling.  Yet, the past almost year, I’ve been silent from the world and found myself on the other side, truly in the sun basking warmth of the sun.
My muscles swelled from the fight of it all and my body caved into the goodness of a rest it had been brewing for forty-three years.  A season of contentment that quite frankly I deserve. Overwhelmingly, I welcomed her in, took care of her and danced the dance of acceptance as I encountered her.  But how do I reside with such after four decades of struggle and relentless pain? I took heritage in a season of time without my muse of sorrow, a sonnet trapped in a river that wasn’t chasing the storm, one that was flowing toward the sea.  Hoping for home, dreaming of sunshine and flowing into goodness. That is where I am, soaking up a life of smiles and a breeze in my hair that is warm and relentlessly faithful.

For, how do we reside in the quiet, when all we’ve ever known is noise?  How do we quiet the questions that there has to be a barren time coming, a cracked way at life that has to beacon a desert because that is simply all we’ve known.

The times of peace that have overtaken me have left me with a smile placated on my lips and a hug so warm you would want it on you for forever.  I sit here with a grin and a love so big you can barely imagine it if you’ve read my work. My words are usually heartbreaking and tainted with a loss so subtle yet powerful you cry at the mention of such.

I’ve been silent because I’m finally free and that in itself is heartbreaking.

Addiction, depression, anxiety, past trauma, guilt and a rampage had a deep home in me in the embedded places that should be kept for peace that only God can give.  Yet, I have hung onto it like the only casing I knew of life. I didn’t know how to live in contentment. It’s like I almost had to learn how to breathe again, walk forward, and see the orange and pink skyline that tells us it’s a brand new day!  When all you know is night, how do you accept dawn and welcome her warmth like the birds sing in praise to?

Songs have cascaded in my mind like, ‘I can’t write when I’m happy’.  ‘My gift is gone.’ ‘At least I had it at one time.’ All these statements have filtered in my brain as I’ve wasted many hours not writing while I have resided in the gorgeous foundation of a bliss that God says I should claim in me like the life He sacrificed for me. Today while visiting some of my blog posts from last year, by far the most difficult 365 days I’ve ever lived, it hit me.  I let my healing potion fill me up in the form of joyful ache, overwhelming cascades of syllables of a question, for why in times of pure bliss do they sit by the wayside?

In the times of joy, we need to find a way to shout it harder and faster than in the times we cry out.  We need to bleed it from our skin as if we had no more life to give. For that is the true testimony of what God really does.  He turns our darkness into light, our sorrow into joy and the pitfalls of life into a life raft that gets us to the other side.  

Through the shadows and ultimate breakdown of my life I have a story to tell.  Brilliance fought for me and God won a fight that I couldn’t do on my own. Now, I chose to shout from the mountain tops even more in times of triumph than in times of torture.  I couldn’t earn it, I didn’t do anything special, I simply relented. And in that, He changed me, turned my torrent into something spectacle that until now I haven’t been able to write about.  I am here, alive and brilliantly displayed for the world to see because God didn’t give up on me. No matter how hard I tried to destroy myself, He came after me, chased me down and did away with the grief I had defined as my life.

I see it, I don’t deserve it but grace doesn’t work like that, it seeks you out and finds you at your lowest to embark on a passage of truth and a voyage of greatness you have no idea exists in your life.  That’s where I’m at friends, and the vision from this side deserves more of my words than all of the wreckage my life has produced ever did.

Today, I find a reckless abandon in happiness, not sorrow, in joy, not grief, in love not anger.

I have weathered a ravaging storm and found myself on the side of peace after a life filled with a reckless kind of jolting agony that Satan loves for me to live in. I found the joy and now I will shout it from the mountaintops.  To speak the life Jesus has given me not just my cries, not only in my torment but to yell from my soul the gift of peace He has given me. He has gifted me the ability to tear down the barriers that held me back from fulfilling my grandest destiny.

As an author who lost her words because she was afraid of joy, take it from me, you have more to shout to the world in your times of praise to God after the storm than anything your defeat speaks to you.

Praise.

Glory.

My once Reckless abandon of Joy.

Isn’t that what the fight is for, and isn’t that what the final chapter should write?  Yes, resoundingly, and powerfully, yes, that is what this season of my epilogue should say.