Posts tagged #experiences


5:15 came early this morning. I did my daily routines: brushing, yawning, coughing, sneezing, changing, yawning, drinking, reading, writing...

I missed something, though.

Unable to place my finger on it, I wrote longer than normal in my prayer journal - begging God for guidance and wisdom. Just move in me - through me - I wrote. Finally, realizing my words came incredibly short to what I felt - I gathered my things, kissed Russ goodbye, and walked out the door.

And then it hit me: I felt lonely.

Which seems a bit selfish. I prayed this morning for God to move - and He has. This past month I've witnessed incredible reminders of His mercy and goodness and grace. He's reminded me consistently of His provision.

But I wanted more.

Some of my favorite verses in the Bible speak of God's thunder. Whenever I read these verses my heart takes notice. Something inside me retreats and bows in submission. Yes. This. I want His thunder. It's almost a craving, a need to fill an ache. And if I'm not careful, I'll take this craving and put it on others.

So this morning when the feeling of loneliness crept up and grabbed me by the throat, I literally stopped and closed my eyes. Please God - please. Show me. Breathe through me. MOVE through me. I didn't want this - I didn't want the feelings of inadequacy paralyzing me - that's a dangerous game I don't like to play. I waited until the feeling subsided and then continued walking to my car.

And then the wind starting blowing. I could hear it coming before I felt it. The whoosh of leaves rustling against the power of this invisible force. When it hit me - my whole body shook. And then, just as soon as the internal quake began it stopped and an incredible peace washed over me. It took everything to not fall to my knees right there in the middle of the parking lot. The wind was powerful, yes. But its power isn't what was bringing me to tears - it was His voice.

Do you see? He said. The wind, like Me, is invisible. But it envelops you. Shakes you. Moves you.You can never deny its existence - or its worth. Listen. My song plays through the percussion of the trees and the howl of the wind.

I'm with you.

I'M with you.

I'm WITH you.

I'm with YOU.

I smiled. I asked God to move - and He did. I asked God to breathe through me - and He did. I asked God to help me battle loneliness - and He did.

He did all these things - and not because I asked. He did them because He loves me. Through His love, I am made complete.

No one has ever seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us - perfect love! 1 John 1:12

Posted on May 7, 2010 .

when the Healer shows.

I wasn't expecting it to hurt. I was in the shower when God told me. I knew we were about to go through one of the toughest things we experienced in our marriage.  And I was right. Well, God was right. Russ came home and said the words I knew he was going to say. But I wasn't expecting  pain. You know the type  - the fall on your knees, gut-wrenching-fighting-for-breath pain.  I fell into Christ's arms; it was the only safe place I knew. I was angry. I was hurt. But I knew Abba provided protection - so I clung to Him.

The next few weeks proved hard. Every day I fought the lie we were doing this alone. Almost immediately Christ began to surround us with incredible people who turned into incredible friends. People who pray for us. Fight for us. Live life with us. Once the road evened out and we were able to wipe the tears from our eyes, we were able to look around and notice one thing: in our moment of weakness and pain, Christ picked us up and carried us to where we needed to be the whole time.

Peace was immediate, although the pain was still there. Scars have a way of ripping open at unexpected moments, and so we still fought those lies of hurt and rejection. And then we went to Verge.

I knew the past weeks had been healing, but it wasn't over. I still fought bitterness, still prayed for breakthrough. Those weeks leading to Verge I felt Christ like I never experienced before: close to the touch, tangled in my own thoughts, present in my moment of pain.  But I knew I was holding back. I went to the conference, expecting big things for the city, not anticipating my own moment of clarity.

And then one afternoon, in the midst of 2000 other believers singing His praise, my Healer showed.

"Jesus I love you! I love you Jesus!!" the cry came from the back of the room, the voice desperate for a touch from the One in our midst.  Up until this moment, my heart refused to let go. This plea pierces through any of my pride and I collapse against Russ. For the next ten minutes, the sweet names of our Savior fall around me: Elohim. Jehovah Jireh. Protector.

My Healer.

The tears fell and I sank into my chair - speechless and unable to join with the others in worship. Never before had I experienced a literal shaking of my soul. My heart was finally finding rest in His truth. I sat there soaking in His presence, breathing deep of His absolute beauty.

He didn't have to show. He didn't have to prove to me His love and absolute joy in my pursuit of intimacy.

But he did.

I won't ever be the same.

Posted on February 10, 2010 .

it is well.

[caption id="attachment_487" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="picture courtesy of Tiffany Wade"][/caption] I don't have much in me. It's been an incredible week filled with God-sized moments and tiny rivers of despair. The situation in Haiti weighs heavy on my mind and heart this evening, so I leave you with this picture, taken last night at a benefit concert Russ and I went to in downtown Austin. This picture? Taken during the middle of a song. Those hands? Lifted in worship, the voices carrying out to those passing by on 6th street.

I experienced a taste of what heaven will be like last night. And I know, despite the horrific pictures we are seeing on a daily basis, despite the orphans who fight for their life because of no provision, our God reigns. We may not know His purpose - but He is swift and perfect in His mercy. Look to Him. Because despite the pain we go through - His love is strong. His healing immediate and complete.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought; My sin not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll; the trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, even so, it is well with my soul!

Posted on January 19, 2010 .

one necessity.

We could, you know. We can live any way we want. People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience - even of silence - by choice. The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled & supple way, to locate the most tender & live spot & plug into that pulse. This is yielding, not fighting. I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity & not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you...seize it & let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out & drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds & let your very bones unhinge & scatter, loosened over fields, over fields & woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.

Annie Dillard

I'm staring at the computer screen in a daze.

This quote has haunted me from a worn & tattered index card sitting on my desk for a solid week.

Why does it seem so much easier for other people to pursue their calling? I mean, don't you know those people? Those who "came to live deliberately" & "suck the marrow out of life" & beat the "sweaty toothed madmen" of our day? I do. And it's not me.

This doesn't mean I'm not effected by Dillard's quote. Quite the opposite, really. When I first saw this, my breath quickened & my heart rate skipped a beat & my mind started racing.

What would happen if I stalked my calling in a skilled and supple way?

To be honest, I really don't know. I do know I love my job. I love my students. I love my two week Christmas break and my summer vacation. I love passing on the joy & wonder of literature & the deep satisfaction of writing until you are emotionally spent.

But I know there's more.

I find this disconnect in the second paragraph - grasping your one necessity & not letting it go.

Is teaching my one necessity? No. And I even hesitate to write that because really? It seems kind of...harsh. But my purpose is not teaching. My purpose is inspiring the youth to believe they can make a difference & telling the stories of those who have been forgotten & fighting for the orphan & destitute until I am blue in the face....

Yeah. There's my one necessity.

I've had this conflict for awhile - I've even written about it. And the only thing I can come up with is that as long as I am struggling - as long as I am pushing & prodding & tripping & moving - perhaps I am more skilled and supple than I thought.

What is your dream? No. Really. Dig deep. What is it that completely makes your heart scream in delight?

Stalk it. You may not get there tomorrow; you may not get there next year. But you'll be moving...and sometimes, that's all we can do.

tell me: what is your one necessity?

Posted on October 12, 2009 and filed under story.

A Life Well Lived

Every one has a story. I was reminded of this a couple months when I opened up my e-mail and saw a message from one of my favorite professors – a man I deeply respect for his authenticity. He opened the e-mail with a simple phrase – “a writer must know things” and challenged us to consider what we know from what we have read and what we have done. He suggested creating an inventory of these things – a detailed list, a mental note, something. At first, it seemed a bit like the typical brainstorming exercise. But then I read his list. Short in length, weighted with emotion, his list mentioned simple things –

- slept on the grass of Central park

- ate a steak in Chicago

- bought a mum for a girl in high school

His list mentioned heavy things –

- sat in typing class and listened to the announcement that Kennedy had been shot

- stood in formation on the grinder in the early morning darkness during boot camp

- walked across the University of Maryland campus while it was being occupied with armed soldiers

His list mentioned all of these moments that belonged to him alone – until he shared them. Isn’t this the life of an artist? Virginia Woolf speaks of the writer as someone who is free to think and feel and do. Writers typically don’t mind the status quo, but we notice the importance of moments. We know that although it seems silly, we can’t help but watch the young boy falling asleep in the pew in front of us, or the man stopping cold in his tracks when high heels crash against the concrete floor of a garage, or the way the sun splits the morning sky in a vibrant show of color. We notice these things. Most importantly, we remember these things.

I’ve always wondered why. I think I am beginning to understand - people need their story told.

At the end of his e-mail, he told us to take part in the inventory. People immediately began sending him their lists. Within two hours I had received about three more e-mails from him of other lists – moments in time that were now shared. Some brought back tears; some brought back laughter; a few brought back pain. Today the lists are still coming, and I can’t get my mind off of the importance. I received another e-mail just now encouraging us to send more – to declare ourselves – to speak because someone is bound to listen.

I’m still not sure exactly why this has impacted me so much, outside of the simple realization that these moments are meant to be spectacular. We never know when what we do could change a life. At least, we never know if we never share our story.

My list?

  • ridden bareback in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho with my great grandfather
  • Fallen in love with the scent of Haiti - a mix of burnt marshmellows and freshly cut grass
  • Sang in front of my nana and papa's congregation when I was little - a mixture of about ten white-haired members, mostly relatives.
  • Sang in front of my home church, a congregation of about 1,000.
  • Watched the towers fall in my dorm room of OBU, right before my first New Testament exam of the semester. I failed.
  • went stargazing in the bed of a truck in the middle of a baseball field, and actually looked at stars
  • went searching to crash a party on Frat Row in Norman, only to find no one home because of a game
  • walked across town in College Station singing at the top of my lungs and dancing with friends
  • heard my first drive-by when I was in middle school
  • Experienced the death of a close friend at 21
  • cried over someone who didn’t deserve it
  • forgave someone who didn’t deserve it
  • Had my first kiss in the back of a band bus at the age of 15
  • Stayed up until the wee hours of the morning after hearing about the Columbine shooting my junior year of high school to write a poem that was later published in the SA Express News
  • Had a Haitian women wipe tears from my cheeks
  • danced with the owner of a karaoke bar in OKC while he serenaded me “Brown Eyed Girl” (I guess he  didn’t see my eyes were blue)
  • got into said karaoke bar when I was only 19 because the owner saw my friends and I walking down the sidewalk and invited us in….not the smartest decision but certainly one of the most fun
  • read Poisonwood Bible
  • made it through my masters
  • eaten pig’s feet
  • serenaded my husband after two weeks of dating (first time to sing for just one person)
  • Was told by a student I was not only a teacher, but a mentor, a mother, a sister and a friend
  • Cried in front of students
  • felt completely naked when I shared my writing for the first time in college
  • spent the week in Wimberley with my family - got sunburnt, an in-grown toenail, and the scar on my chin but met a man from India who changed my life.
  • Wrote love on a student's arms
  • felt the chill associated with a witch doctor’s property
  • bought into the idea of the American Dream
  • realized there is so much more than the American Dream
  • married Russell
  • read Fanny and Zooey
  • Met some of the most innovative and revolutionary minds while spending a weekend in San Diego last year
  • became a history maker
  • learned early on that joy can be found in a sunrise
  • created routines with cousins and siblings to Free at Last
  • swam in the Caribbean
  • was chased by a Havelina in the jungles of Haiti
  • seen the sunset over the Pacific
  • experienced how something can ruin your life in the best possible way
  • watched Dirty Dancing five times in one week
  • read Irresistible Revolution
  • met my guardian angel
  • learned to hear what God is saying to me through nature
  • stayed at a hippie commune in Biloxi while doing relief work after Katrina
  • baked Santa cookies
  • watched Beauty and the Beast
  • watched MTV incognito with my teenage uncle (when they actually played videos-I remember Video Killed the Radio Star)
  • found my words in Brooke Fraser’s “Albertine”
  • learned how to walk like a giant
  • met a homeless man named Derrick who lost everything in Hurricane Ike & is now living under a bridge in downtown Ausitn
  • met a homeless man with no tongue named Bird whose favorite ice cream is Amy's chocolate.
  • read The Things They Carried
  • saw Slumdog Millionaire which intensified my desire to a)travel to India and b)adopt

And there’s more. I think this may be the beauty of this exercise, actually. I sent Dr. Peterson my list months ago and have been processing what I wrote and my own additions since then. I would hope that my list only grows larger, as my writer’s mind continues to pay attention to what others can’t see - the lady nervously scratching her neck during an intense conversation, the deaf couple laughing at an intimate joke, the barista greeting a familiar face with a smile and casual conversation.

There are stories to be told. People aching to be heard and seen.  Go ahead. I dare you. Think about your own list. Declare yourself, as Brady Peterson says. Someone will listen.

Posted on April 8, 2009 and filed under finding{and telling}your story.