i've been learning a lot lately about how i handle things. expectations, feelings, awkwardness, growth, friendships.
here's a little poem from my heart to yours -- let's join the brave love fight.
what a challenge it is
to own the skin we're in
to stand up tall, shoulders back, head held high
to say, this is me, this is the space I claim
to not shrink back, to not shy away
but to rise up, unapologetically
what a challenge it is
to own the skin we're in
we bow out,
we pull back,
what a challenge it is
to own the skin we're in
rare and unique and irreplaceable and outstanding
are skin and bones knitted in your very own way
light and life and fire
what a challenge it is
to own the skin we're in
but it's our home
our only one
let's fling open the windows
and let the air in
let's swing the door wide
and let the love in
let's shake the dust off
and own this home
we are art
i am here.
this is me.
It's been a long while since I've done this. Fifteen minutes, no agenda, no blog thought in mind, no perfectly packaged idea or list or collection of links. It's just me and a blinking cursor on a big white window.
Earlier this year, I participated in The 100 Day Project and doodled 100 pages in a mini sketchbook. Last month, I joined Bailey's Blog-Tember Challenge a few times when my schedule was free and I actually remembered. This month, I decided to join in the fun of "Write 31 Days" and give October a fun focus.
For the next 31 days, I'll pick a word a day and freewrite a blog post about it. I'm envisioning that some days will just be stream of consciousness writing, some days will be lists of associations and connections that come to mind, and some days might be more like poetry.
This is where you can find it all. I'll add the links to each day at the bottom of this post, so you know where to find everything.
DAY ONE: COMMIT.
The biggest takeaway from this year's 100 Day Project was that dedication is necessary, and that it's hard to consistently show up and create. I decided I wanted to commit, and I did. With the Blog-tember Challenge, I didn't. I halfheartedly wanted to participate (maybe selfishly just to connect with new people and grow my blogging network) and my lackluster attempts are no surprise. I didn't commit.
Having the accountability of the massive 100 Day Project community kept me going and kept me coming back to make something with my pen and paper, and I know this month will do more of the same. It's refreshing and challenging and so rewarding to push toward a goal day by day and put the effort in to make art happen.
I want to commit. A few years ago, commit was my word of the year. Even now, I crave intentionality. My time is too precious, my to-do lists too long, and my life too short to waste my heart, my talents, and my passion on things that are frivolous or meaningless. In everything, I want to lean in and dig deep. I want to embrace things that intimidate me and rise to challenges as I face them. I want to commit to projects like this one and do the work of showing up day after day after day.
I'm happy you're here. Thanks for sticking around as I figure out what this space holds for me. Thanks for entertaining my wild ideas and reading my words and coming back. I hope what you find here meets you where you are, too.
Click on each image to read that day's post:
come back tomorrow!
She came in just moments before the lights dimmed, just as the band was taking the stage. She sat on the aisle seat and two others who seemed to be friends sat next to her. As the first song began, she stepped out into the aisle and ever so slowly turned all the way around, taking it all in. I was in the seat right behind her, and I watched her curiously as I sang.
She lifted her left hand high in the air, fingers together, pointing toward the screen where her eyes were reading the words her lips were mouthing. A few minutes later, her left arm went down and her right arm went up. One arm was in the air for the entire duration of the worship set.
I've never seen her before, and it didn't seem like she had been there before either. Maybe she's been there for years, just always at a different service from me, I don't know.
What I know is that she worshipped beautifully. I couldn't help but smile as I watched her. In a church where we sometimes forget to clap after a song and we mostly stay politely quiet and hands are rarely raised, I loved her brave audacity to worship proudly. I loved her unapologetic hand in the air, waving as she turned, pointing upward to heaven. I loved the smile on her face as she sang sweet words to the Lord. I loved the extra large print King James Bible with wrinkled pages that she pulled out when Psalms was read aloud between songs, just so she could follow along. I loved the way she nodded along to the pastor as he spoke. I loved watching her worship. I don't know her, and I didn't even get a chance to introduce myself, but I'm grateful for her.
In the middle of my wishing we danced a little more, I'm grateful for the reminder that worship isn't about who's around me or who's watching. I'm grateful for the reminder that the Lord created our hearts for worship-- brave and beautiful and unapologetic worship. I'm grateful for the reminder that our hands are for raising in praise and clasping together in prayer and tracing words on wrinkled Bible pages. I'm grateful for her and for her heart of worship.
As life rushes on, I never want to forget...
...The first night that finally felt like winter, and sliding the wide window above my bed open to let the chill fall over me as I slept. Bundled up in a tangled mess of blankets, I slept better that night than I had in weeks. I can count on one hand the number of times I turned the heat on in that apartment of mine...being cold at night has always been my preference.
...The night that rain came crashing down with an anger that whipped branches from the trees, and standing on my balcony to watch it all. Just barely covered by the roof above me, rain still reached my feet and misted my face. I didn't want to stay inside, barricaded away from it all. I wanted to encounter the storm and see it all for myself, watching the rain's wild dance in the light of the lampposts in front of me.
...The night I collapsed on the couch, crying until my stomach hurt and my head throbbed and the box of tissues was empty. The emptiness felt so real that night. I didn't know I could miss someone so much.
...Cooking the same batch of triple ginger cookies three times in my temperamental oven, failing at first and eventually perfecting them (meaning my friends were surprised to find they were totally gluten-free and vegan-- SUCCESS.)
...Coming to the realization that I'm happy on my own without a relationship to rest on. Looking back at my life and realizing how much time I spent on relationships spurred me to into a season of fully embracing and enjoying being single. I now know I don't need a someone just for the sake of not being alone. I'm a someone too, and I've realized I'm the someone I want to spend my time focusing on right now.
...The swelling feeling in my heart when I get to experience someone pouring their heart out into their passions. A band before me on a foggy stage, giving everything they have to the music they play in perfect harmony together. A team before me on a bright green turf field, bodies acting and reacting quicker than I can take in, every fiber on fire as they chase the win. A writer spilling honest words from the depths of their soul onto a page I get to have and hold and soak up.
...We are all on journeys. Sitting around a table with women seeking Jesus for the first time for real...sitting around a living room with friends all laughing at unruly board games...sitting across the table from two new friends...sitting on the floor surrounded by a million Lego pieces...we are all on journeys. I want to always be full of enough grace to cover that fact. We will never all be at the same place. We will never all see eye to eye. We will never always agree or get along or like each other. I want to give grace big and sweet and amazing enough to cover that in every way.
...This life is so good. Even on the twelfth snow day, even in the bitter cold, even on the fifth day of a migraine, even when I can't sleep, even when friends let me down, even when things fall apart...this life is so good. I want to always be abundantly grateful for the gift of this life.
Read more Friday freewrite posts here!
There's something about the way the soaked streets reflect the streetlights at nighttime. There's something in the way that all that rain fell, crashing down on the pavement as its journey downward came to a halting end. We would call that rock bottom in our own lives-- the place where we we land when we can fall no further. The place where we lay in puddles, unable to pick ourselves back up or recover. But in that place, the puddles reflect the lights above. The rain can do nothing but rest there, but as it does, it shimmers and shines. It can do nothing but be still and wait. The lights are still shining, even in the darkness that feels so right for this storm, this breakdown. The lights are still glowing, radiant and warm. Their reach seems to multiply now as the little bodies of water huddled on the roads double their presence. For every one light, two versions now beam. Isn't it beautiful? What we saw as an end, a final destination, a sad conclusion is instead now an act of worship where our strivings cease and we reflect the true light like we were always made to do. The focus wasn't our falling down or our failing, the focus was always Him. The light of the world. We were made to be mirrors of all He is. In the seasons when I feel like a puddle of hopeless, lifeless rain on the side of a muddy road, I will still be useful, I will still be a reflection, I still can shine His light even in such a condition. There's something about those soaked streets and those streetlights in the storms.
It is a beautiful day in Richmond and there's a magic in the air that comes with spring around here. Sunshine, warm weather, flowers blooming...YES. This past week has been a good one. I don't have words on my heart to write today, and I'm giving myself a little extra grace and saying that's okay. Instead, I just have pictures of things that brought me joy this week.
Go on an adventure this weekend. Go somewhere new and find wonder in the world around you. Happy weekend, friends!
Would I have been one of them? When You were before the high priest and his elders and other teachers of religious law, when false witnesses and slanderers were telling fabricated tales against You, would I have been one of them? Would I have been one among that crowd, a voice adding to the noise? Would I have slipped into that coursing current of judgment and pride, afraid to be the singular voice defending You? Even Peter, one who knew You well and spent years by your side and had heard You speak and seen Your heart, even he denied you. Would I have, too? Do I now? Do I hide in a society full of voices trying to find evidence to condemn You? Do I cry "guilty!" like all the rest? Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers...
In the presence of You, Majesty, what do I do? At times, I say silent, ashamed, knowing my sin was what held you to that cross even when not a single trace of evidence was found to condemn You to that end. At times, I yell out against You, wanting to put the blame on You, the pain on You, anything to try to justify myself. And at times, I, like Peter, break down and weep, knowing I am broken, knowing I haven't been the follower of You I so desperately long to be, knowing I've denied You when I should have been bold and proclaimed Your truth and Your name. You are I AM. We will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God's right hand. You are holy, set apart, perfect, innocent, glorious, Savior. In the presence of all You are, I fall short, ashamed, unworthy, full of sin and shame. I've denied You, Jesus, I've turned away. Yet in the beauty of all You are, You make me whole, You make me clean, You take it all away because that price has been paid. My sin was what drove those nails, what took Your life. Your love was what redeemed me, saved me, set me free. My life is for Your glory, flawed and fragile as I am. May I take up my own cross, sacrificing all just to follow where You lead me, from earth into eternity.
When I write, the start and the end are the hardest. A blank screen sits before me, a clean white canvas, a stretch of space not yet scribbled on, covered up, created. My brain is searching, flitting from corner to corner, seeking a spark that will light a flame if I could just pull together words that would be the matches. My hands are hovering, ready, waiting, knowing the words can't just come from my finger tips. They have to come from somewhere deeper, somewhere harder to reach, somewhere I can't see like I can see my hands on the keys, my fingers gripping the pen. But then I start. One word starts it. One word is the gunshot that releases the masses of people from behind that starting line ribbon. One word is the last Jenga piece before the shaky tower tumbles down and my mess of an idea pours down the page.
The middle flows. The middle comes more easily. I'm on a roll now, I've started somewhere, and it moves onward, sometimes fluidly and gracefully, sometimes choppy and rough, but it goes on. Often, I end up far from where I thought I would. The current took me down a different river, the breeze carried me off to a different city.
And then I have to end it. I've said what I wanted to say, the words are there, the page is full, brimming with some sort of stuff that I haven't reviewed or come to any judgment about. And now the package needs the bow on top. Those words are often the most illusive. What will sum this up? What will be meaningful? What will be remembered, powerful, impactful, solid?
Maybe our lives are like this. The start isn't our own to control. We came from something we cannot see. From the joining of cells, from an unseen Creator. It's months of preparing, and then we come into this world and breathe our first shaky breath, and we're off. We're alive. We've been born, we've started life, we start running the race ahead of us. Sometimes graceful, sometimes choppy, sometimes ending up in very different places than we ever imagined or intended. Life happens fast in the middle. And then someday, life comes to an end. What will sum this up? What was meaningful? What will be remembered? What was powerful, impactful, solid?
Will this story matter once it's done?