Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Home Team (& the lessons taught to me by mine)

And finally, when it seems like there's more bad news than good, I gather the people I love around me. and sometimes that's the one thing that really helps. Sometimes what it takes for me to really regain a sense of God's hand and presence is nothing more than to stop the dozens of things I'm doing all at the same time and connect with the people I love

As I'm writing this, my suitcase is packed and sitting at the foot of my bed. This is the road trip I've been waiting for since reading week began. It's when I drive for hours at a time telling goofy stories and dancing to the radio with someone I love to go visit someone who makes my heart skip a beat.
This reading break, much like this semester, much like the semester before, I've been learning about loving people.
Life has a way of getting chaotic and crazy when you're not looking and underneath all this sweetness that's overflowing I sometimes feel like I'm losing my footing, just a little.
Before the week began my friend and I stood in her room talking about what this next week would bring for both of us. For both of us this week is about taking big leaps and stepping out on faith. And we sat over tea and talked about how, for both of us, this is a challenging time.
I'm reminded of the scene in Bambi, where the tiny deer is struggling to stand moments after being born. I feel like that. I feel like all this birth and rebirth is doing a number on me and it's making it hard to stand sometimes. I wobble and sometimes fall and I get back up and wobble some more.
Sometimes there are moments bounding through fields and everything is good, and then it hits me that these legs still don't feel like mine.
As my friend stood beside her packed suitcase, preparing for this final sending off, we gave each other last minute words of advice:
Have fun
You don't always need to be in control
You'll do great
You are loved
We spoke these words like a blessing over each other. Bags packed and ready we both stood on new legs entering a new season in our lives and these were the words we offered.

Life hands us opportunities at every turn to get over ourselves, to get outside ourselves, to wake up from our own bad dreams and realize that really lovely things are happening all the time

I'll always remember the life giving nourishment that happened during this reading break.
Maybe others don't see it as such. It was just cups of water, just movie nights, just sports games and breakfast. In the moment it's easy to gloss over these things and call them ordinary.
But the night we spent filling cups with water and lining the staff hallway - all 2100 cups and an hour of the night - it wasn't just a harmless prank. It was working together and heads bent and hands filling and extending and laughter, so much laughter. And even the next morning, with the early wake up call and the lack of amusement from those we intended to prank, as we knelt on the floor mopping spilled water and collecting cracked cups, we were all smiling just a little bit.
This is what friendship is: made in the kneeling and pouring out and laughing and standing beside each other in the moments when the morning comes and the harmless doesn't seem so harmless anymore.
And the nights we spent watching movies I couldn't follow, it wasn't just movies. It was the opening of homes and opening the tub of ice cream kept in the freezer for such a time as this and how there was always room for just one more. One more friend, one more story, one more laugh.
The curling game on TV wasn't just another game but the moment when we all gathered in the same room and cheered until midway through when exhaustion settled in and we slept all cuddled close only to wake up for the final end to cheer again.
And breakfast wasn't just breakfast but serving one another and gathering around the table and so much laughter and I looked across the table - the one we'd pushed together so there would be room for all of us within arms length - and smiled because these people are the ones that are on my team.

The stakes have grown  in our lives, the way they do, it seems, every time you decide to love something

I've sent many texts during this past week that simply say "I miss you."
I used to think I was good at being alone. I was independent and I didn't need anyone and I was going to be perfectly content spending the rest of my life running wild and free.
The idea of settling down did and still does scare me.
Mostly, I think, I was just scared of being left.
I've been left before, so many times it feels like it's inevitable. People die or walk away and that moment of standing there feeling empty is one of the worst feelings I've ever felt. I told myself I didn't need anyone. I'm fine on my own. It was easier that way.
One thing I've been learning this year is how wrong I was. I went back, over and over, to the most painful parts only to have them once again scrubbed raw. And when I was there, standing alone having been left yet again, that was where everything started.
I began to be built up again, new layer after layer.
And now I'm the girl with shaking hands who types out the letters to "I miss you" more times than she can count because distance was never a thing she's been good at.
Sometimes leaving is necessary, because it reveals what happened there and why it mattered.
So when the dorm emptied, when my friends packed up their cars and I knew it was for the last time before the real last time, when we sat on the couches after he'd packed his truck, the being left revealed something to me.
This semester I've leaned into love, hard. I've stood on wobbly feet on the cusp of something beautiful that absolutely terrifies me.
I wrote during the tender beginnings that it felt like I was holding a small flower, or a bird, something delicate that could easily be crushed under my hands.
I've never been good at loving. It's scary and there's great risk and what if...
I don't know the exact moment I decided people were better than no people. Maybe it was when the being left didn't destroy me. Or when I knew that if I ran now it would only be out of fear. Or when the people around me kept showing up with crackers and hugs and cards in an effort to say 'I love you'
But at some point I chose people. I chose yes and more yes.
It's beautiful. And terrifying. Love liberates, and makes beautiful, and when I look at my people I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
I have this. I have them.
So I text him "I miss you" daily and he tells me how many more days and I realize I'm not less of myself. It's not good or bad, it just is. It's more. It's beautiful. It's grace and it goes deeper and stretches farther and covers more then I would have imagined.

 Everyone has a home team: it's the people you call when you get a flat tire, or when something terrible happens. It's the people who, near or far, know everything that's wrong with you and love you anyway. The home team people are the ones you can text with five minutes notice saying "I'm on my way, and I'm bringing tacos"

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

planted dreams & the beautiful right now

Tonight I sat curled up in a coffee shop.
"Want to play cards? You look bored."
But I wasn't. I was watching, observing, feeling, thinking, savoring.
If someone wants to see what school is like, I thought, they should see this. This moment, this delicate picturesque thing where over in the corner there's the guys playing cards and in the back girls are hunched over their lattes and everything's buzzing ever so slightly and in all of it I echo words I've said so many times this month.
If this isn't beautiful, I don't know what is
I'm a people watcher. I'm fascinated by people and their uniqueness and their stories. And I was more than content to sit back with my latte and observe the loudness and softness of people.
As I sat, drink in hand, I was smiling. For this brief moment in time, no one needed anything from me. My blood, my time, my attention, my arms, my ability to scare monsters out of closets and smile, my mental capacity or my brain. I felt like in this moment I was just existing, filling myself up by indulging in the secret art of people watching.
...
During the past few days I've sat before a blank screen multiple times, trying to put thoughts to paper.
When I started this humble little blog, I thought I would fill it with all my adventures. I would write my way through heartache and happiness. I would fill my corner of the world with rambling prose and stories.
I was, after all, going to be a story teller.
I said it with some degree of awe. I whispered it at first, the idea of being an anything too much for my weak heart to comprehend.
When I started writing, it was my survival song. I wrote compulsively and out of desperation. I wrote because it was and is the only way I know how to analyze the world.
I write to document, to save, to fully experience and embrace a fleeting moment.
Writing stories saved me. I still have the first story I wrote: with shaky penmanship it was a love story I was desperate to believe in.
When I thoroughly exhausted myself in making up stories, I became a poet. My guilty pleasure became locking myself in the closet and listening to spoken word poetry. I sat in the dark until tears streamed down my face. I wrote poems until my fingers bled, then wrote the poems bloody.
Now my rambling prose has taken on a new form. I write, but mostly for myself. I write to process my thoughts, to feel, to savor.
I don't write with the same desperation I used to.
I'm getting to a place where I don't need to compulsively write to remember. I don't write to make myself believe I am something.
I'm many things. I'm a story teller, always. I'm an asker of questions and I'm a people watcher. I'm a daughter and sister and friend and girlfriend and a child of God. I'm in constant pursuit of the person He made me to be, and I'm doing my best to love fully the people and things He's given me.
I'm still the poet, but I'm learning I'm also the poem.
...
We're in the final days before Reading week. 3/4 of the way done the school year and I'm savoring the moments. 6 months ago I never imagined I'd wind up here: having somehow stumbled upon my home team, the people I call when something goes wrong or when I just need help.
In September I wrote on my puzzle piece words from a poem by Sierra DeMulder. They weren't my words, but over the months I've claimed them.
Dear you, whoever you are, however you got here, this is exactly where you're supposed to be
I didn't believe it. This story I'm in, it was meant for somebody else. Right?
But being here, I'm learning that this story is mine, that it's ok to believe that by some twist of fate you are worthy of good things.
I'm learning to laugh, loudly and often. And I'm learning to feel things, the broken and the beautiful and let it move me.
I'm learning that if you let them, sometimes people will surprise you.
Sometimes the girls you were assigned to become the girls who show up with chocolate and cards and arms that are willing to embrace every joy and sorrow.
Sometimes the guy who was just a friend becomes the guy who looks at you like you're magic and holds your hand and makes you laugh.
This is my home team. We've celebrated birthdays and engagements and new relationships, held each other through death and homework stress and breakups.
They say "Let me help" and "I love you" and "I brought you coffee"
I don't know what I did to deserve these people. But I am so grateful they're mine, and that they keep showing up and bringing coffee and holding my hand and reminding me who I am when I forget
...
My life is pretty beautiful these days. These are the tender days of becoming, of trusting and holding and growing and feeling and loving.
It's in these soft, stretching moments I'm finding out what my life is really about, and who I am.
I never thought I'd make it here. My heart was broken in a thousand different ways and I was the girl grasping for just one dream.
Now I'm here, and all I can say is "My God, isn't this beautiful?"
He asks me what I'm thinking and all I can say is that I'm grateful for this. I squeeze his hand.
I am grateful. I get to experience daily the work God does in a broken heart, the new dreams He plants in barren fields.
I don't know where my life is headed. All I know is right now, in all it's fragile beauty. So I'm savoring each moment and letting my life become the poem.
I'm saying thank you when I can and telling my people just how much they mean to me. And every once in a while I step back and see all that is, and all I whisper "If this isn't beautiful I don't know what is."

Monday, February 9, 2015

in Dark and Empty Spaces

I wrote the same story for 2 years.
I used different words, different metaphors, approached it from new angles but essentially it was the same story. I wrote it because I didn't know if I would survive if I didn't get it out of me. I wrote not because it would change what happened but because I thought it would change me. I wrote because I didn't know what else to do.
For 2 years I told the same story: the story of earth shattering loss and unthinkable horror and unimaginable brokenness and destruction.
Every step I take forward in my life is a loss of something in my life and I live the waiting: how and of what will I be emptied today?
The past week has been heavy. Looking back I knew it. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I could feel it. And then it happened.
On Thursday morning I found out a good friend from high school had lost her dad in an accident.
I was in care groups when I found out, and after we prayed together desperately I excused myself.
I barely made it out of the room before my legs gave out and I fell to the floor.
I know what it's like to lose your person. And while I am still lucky enough to have my own father with me I so easily could be in her position. My dad is still here but I do know what it's like to lose a person you love more than anything.
Hearing of her loss instantly transported me back to the day when I found out L had died. The first words that passed my lips were, "Why God?"
I want to take both fists and splinter that door with an ungrateful demanding for more. Why can't we be allowed days indefinitely? How can God ever expect us to say goodbye to the eyes, ears, hands of those we cherish more than our own?
 This is not the way I would have written this story.
 I say it over and over. I skip class and stay buried beneath a mountain of blankets and cry and write and listen to music and the whole time I feel as though this is not the way the story should go.
How is it possible to find true joy in a world filled with such brokenness? Is all we have been blessed with just some fa├žade and this honest, gut wrenching, unthinkable pain all that really is?
My heart is broken by the lack of understanding, the inability to see the good. Death is not fair and the grief still bites me like the bitter cold and robs me of all my oxygen.
There are still moments when I whisper "I don't know how to keep living in a world where he doesn't."
I don't understand why my beautiful, brave friend is walking this journey. I would do anything to save her from the unspoken agony of bearing this story of loss inside of you.
What I would do if this wasn't the story we both have to tell.
And I won't shield God from my anguish by claiming He's not involved in the ache of this world and Satan prowls but he's a lion on a leash and the God who governs all can be shouted at when I bruise, and I can cry and I can howl and He embraces the David-hearts who pound hard on His heart with their grief and I can moan deep that He did this - and He did. I can feel Him hold me - a flailing child tired in my Father's arms. And I can hear him soothe soft, "Are your ways my ways, child? Can you eat my manna, sustain on my mystery? Can you believe that I tenderly, tirelessly work all for the best good of the whole world, because my flame of love for you can never ever be quenched?
All day I feel like those I love are nudging me.
"Hey, are you alright?" They ask. "What do you need?"
And in this moment I feel lucky to have friends who understand my brokenness so well for a loss that isn't mine but still carries the sting of that fateful day nearly 2 years ago.
In a moment of raw honesty I cry out to God. I flail and weep and question, and my questioning almost feels wrong.
"How dare you?" I say to God in a moment of weakness. Not just for this loss that has shattered my friend's world but for my own.
I inwardly rage and say no to death, no to illness and injury.
How can this be from the hand of God? How can this be good?
How, when my heart is broken and people die too soon and injury and illness become my delirium, can I look at what is being extended from the hand of God and declare it a gift?
That is what a shadow is, an empty space, a hole in the light. Evil is that - a hole in the goodness of God. Evil is all that lacks the goodness of God, a willful choice to turn away from the full goodness of God to that empty of His goodness.
The last few weeks I feel as though I've been submerged in grace. God is good, I would say over and over, because I truly felt it. I felt and experienced God's goodness, and it became my song. My heart sang over and over "Let us praise the Lord for all the good things He has done."
And then I got the phone call. And then I felt the sting of all the losses and the injustice and I fought against God and I said over and over that this isn't right and how God and why and what about grace now?
Is grace still proclaimed when there is a horrible accident that causes a father not to return home to his wife and children? Is grace still proclaimed when a mysterious monster lies dormant inside my body waiting to pounce? Is grace still proclaimed when 18 year old cousin's die and relationships crumble and dad's lose their sight, the eye destroyed by a mere nail? In these moments of unthinkable trauma and horror is there anything good and gracious about the things that passed through God's hands?
What of God's grace then?
Can I ask that question?
What in the world, in a world of certain loss, is grace?
I wish I had answers.
As I hold my beautiful, brave friend as she collapses in my arms I wish I had words.
As I spend all afternoon wearing my memorial sweater and crying and fluctuating between needing to be held and needing to be alone I wish I knew.
What is grace when everything crumbles and life becomes just another bad dream you can't wake up from?
This past year at PRBI God has been teaching me to listen to His heartbeat. I've seemed to run head on into every major thing I've struggled with and in all of it I've felt God tenderly whispering to me, "Do you trust me? Do you see how much I love you?"
And since the New Year it's felt like His blessings have abounded and it almost feels bitter when in my relentless raging against God I hear a tiny reminder in the back of my mind:
"Sweet girl, do you trust me?"
Trust? Trust that God is still good even when the brokenness feels like it's all consuming? Trust in God's plan when everything around me is chaos? Trust in God's sovereign power when I have lost so much?
In the moment I say no. I say no God, I can't accept this, this isn't good.
But perhaps there's a bigger picture, one I can't see because I am clinging to the pain and brokenness that is real and consuming.
I don't to accept this reality, that maybe my discomfort and pain is for some greater purpose. I don't want to believe that God would allow pain in my life for some great plan.
"Is what I feel not enough?" I sob.
When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn't all become gift? for He might not have
It could have just as easily been my dad not coming home from work one day. Instead delicate surgery is being performed on his eye with the hopes of restored sight.
In these moments of darkness we are learning to see.
And when the sickness rages inside of my body and I scream at God through the longest nights that this seemingly unending pain and suffering has become too much, I see it could have just as easily been the other way around. I wasn't supposed to survive, but on the third day... there is God's providing hand stirring tiny miracles in the darkness
And when the cousin dies and the world feels empty and inside of me is an unspeakable story, it is here that I learned forgiveness, and the beauty of love that holds together and that story, my story, has made the way for me to reach out to others and to experience healing.
I used to say that I would trade all I'd learned for a chance to be well, to not have gone through this loss.
And maybe I still feel like that. What I wouldn't give for a tiny glimpse of heaven, of completeness and wholeness.
I don't understand, and I question still.
but maybe that's the point.
Maybe all these traumas strung together create in me a greater longing for the beauty and completeness of heaven. Because of that maybe I greater appreciate the tiny gifts I've been given here on earth And maybe it is through all these things that the Father is knitting me closer to His heart.
The suffering nourishes grace and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart - and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty
In naming the things that so called manifest the goodness of God, I have separated life into two camps. There is good, the blessings, and there is bad, the ugly.
I praise God for one and rage against Him for the other.
And God, in His bigness and might, lets me in my humanness fight against Him. He knows that when I'm done running, done fighting against that which I declare not good, I will become still.
He will remove His hand from the rock and there will be glimmers of light in the darkness and when I look I will see His back.
And so in my grieving, in my no, God, I begin to name these ugly beautiful blessings.
The beauty of vulnerability and friendship that becomes sacred in the split open moments and friends who call me just to check in and hold me up when I am weak and moments of rest and people who understand and little encouragement notes and the beautiful sound of laughter
I'm not always quick to see it, but this time I was. Last time it took me over a year and this time it took me an hour but I can see God in this place.
I had a thought a few months ago, when I was standing over His grave.
"What will you name this place?" I thought. We had been studying the Old Testament in class, most recently the study of Abraham and Isaac.
I barely had a chance to think before the words left my lips: "I will call this place 'God will provide'"
God is always good and I am always loved. Everything is eucharisteo

All quotes in italics from 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I was meant for Your heart

Maybe it was the full moon, wrapped in shimmery silver wisps. Maybe it was the resounding sick to my stomach feeling that followed a fear factor care group event. Maybe it's the weather, once again turning cool and reminding me to bundle up.
Whatever it was I seemed to crave connection like a quilt to wear around my shoulders on those chilly early February days.
I spent hours sitting on couches, sometimes talking and other times just sitting pressed up against the people I love.
I thought about how my life is changing. I've said it a lot recently, but it always feels true. It feels like I'm on this train going 200 miles an hour and the view is great and the trip is good but there are times when I just want to get off and catch my breath.
Just give me a minute. Time to process, and understand, and breathe.

Twice Paul whispers it: "I have learned..." Learned. I would have to learn eucharisteo - learn to live it fully. Learn it like I know my own skin, my face, the words on the end of my tongue. Like I know my own name

We were sitting in Chapel today and we were asked to reflect on grace. Grace. I say it often, that in this current state I'm in I'm overwhelmed by grace. Literally, physically and emotionally I feel ransacked by grace. But in this moment of stillness I heard a whisper: If you really knew the extent of my grace, you would know what it means to not be left standing.
If I truly understood grace... It is grace enough that I'm alive, that there is breath in these lungs and blood pumping through my body. It is grace enough that I can talk and walk and eat and exist. But to be attending college, to be surrounded by so many people who care about me, to be given this opportunity to love, is this not too much grace? How is it fair that I am given this many grace days all in a row?

Now in the Bible a name... reveals the very essence of a thing, or rather its essence as God's gift... to name a thing is to manifest the meaning and value God gave it, to know it as coming from God and to know its place and function within the cosmos created by God. To name a thing, in other words, is to bless God for it and in it.

The past few days I've struggled against the idea of identity. I know who I am, but what happens when everything shifts? Just slightly, and not bad, but still noticeable.
At a school this size it's impossible to avoid the labels, and for the most part I enjoy the ones I've been given. But there are moments when a slight comment makes me cringe, when suddenly people act differently because you have become labeled by your relationship.
I wonder what it is that makes these labels stick. I wonder why they matter so much to me.
I wrote a list yesterday of all the things that I am: daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, student.
And in all of the naming I whispered tiny prayers: "Thank you, God, for family and friends, for new connections, for the ability to learn."
I said them over and over, until the words were no longer things that I was but things that I was given. I am not the labels, but I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of each of the things I listed.

Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy

My gratitude list is growing, and my heart is becoming gentler still.
The way she grabbed my hand this morning and on the back of it drew a heart
The way life seems to unfold gathered around the table with the people I love
Laughter echoing and good morning texts and clean laundry
Red roses and friend dates and the way a short sentence has the power to change the way I think about life
I find I'm craving the beauty - the real, deep kind. I name the little things, and in them give thanks, and it is in this living my life as the offering held high that I begin to understand the gift.

Eucharisteo - it's the word Jesus whispered when death prowled close and His anguish trickled down bloody. He took the bread, even the bread of death, and gave thanks

A friend said something to me the other day, which is that we don't stay because it feels good, we stay because it is good, with those words reverberating off of something inside of me.
Where I am right now, it is good
I may be feeling too many things and not thinking enough. There are days like this, when the only way to truly feel is to let the emotion wash over me in waves. All of it comes, and I acknowledge it in whatever form it presents itself.
Happiness, overwhelmed, confusion, fear, a desperate longing to control the future, a feeling as though life has shifted ever so slightly and I need to once again regain my footing.
All this feeling has me fluctuating between needing silence and solitude and yearning to be close.
I've spent hours clinging to the mighty hand of God, echoing a cry similar to Jacob's when he prayed "I won't let go until you bless me."
I've spent equally as much time sitting on the couch, sometimes needing the chatter of conversation while other times asking friends to just sit with me.
In all of this I find that sometimes the only words that make it off my lips are "thank you."

Life change comes when we receive life with thanks and ask for nothing to change.

My life is unpredictable these days, crazy and the kind of beautiful you have to fight for, fast and all kinds of lovely.
I never imagined I'd be here, surrounded by so much grace.
I am grateful
May nothing change

Quotes from 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp

Sunday, February 1, 2015

What I learned in January (all is grace)

The first month of 2015 has slipped by, quickly and quietly.
January was gentle, and soft this year. It was full of firsts, full of magic and moments that stole my breath away and full of grace.
I was thinking last night about how the month began curled up listening to Noah Gunderson and wishing for this year to be full of bigger and better things, and it ended playing Uno and holding his hand and all the moments in the middle felt as though they were whispering grace.

When you simply get up every day and live life raw - you murmur the question soundlessly. No one hears. Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights and bugs burrow through coffins? Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die and marriages implode and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die, break off without reason, erode away. Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I live fully when life is full of hurt? How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?

I remember the moment when I thought life would never be ok again. It was the day after he died, and I fell on my knees in the horse pasture and inwardly screamed, feeling the breaking taking place inside of my chest violently. In that moment, it felt like God turned His face away. In all of the black moments that have swept over my life none felt as bereft of His presence as this one.
That year was a silent "No, God." It was burning with white hot anger and the dull ache of emptiness.
I say that year broke me, made me question all I'd ever believed. But looking back now I can see how that year of hell on earth was also the year I began to hear His voice.

His intent, since He bent low and breathed His life into the dust of our lungs, since He kissed us into being, has never been to slyly orchestrate our ruin. And yet I have found it: He does have surprising, secret purposes. I open a Bible and His plans, startling, lie there barefaced. it's hard to believe it, when I read it, and I have to come back to it many times, feel long across those words, make sure they are real. His love letter forever silences any doubts: "His secret purpose framed from the very beginning is to bring us to our full glory" (1 Corinthians 2:7). He means to rename us - to return us to our true names, our truest selves. He means to heal our soul holes

I spent a really long time being the one who wrestles with God. Even now I'm the girl who'd rather wrestle it out, live from the honest core. In this past little while I feel as though I was broken at the strongest part of myself. I was brought to the wilderness time and time again. But it's not like I once thought. It's not because in my ugly brokenness God is hiding Himself from me. It is so I could learn to listen to His voice. It is so that through my soul holes I could experience the fullness of Him. Once you've been broken down, the gospel isn't just the good news, but the life news. His death and resurrection sits not only as a story about life and more life but of radical redemption.
I stood face to face with the darkest parts of myself, desperate to change my story, to have more to offer.
Until He reminded me that I did. Until He spoke into my black and made it the holy night. Where the black was His hand over the rock, because He was near.

And maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds

There are days I still wish I could change my story. I'm grappling with accepting the bad, and the good, and calling both enough. If I was writing this story... I inwardly rage.
Then what?
It was the dark night that made me brim with full gratitude for this goodness, to see it all as grace.
Once upon a time I never imagined I would experience this depth of grace. I never imagined He would remove His hand, and I'd see His back.
All of this - these strings of grace days - are more than I ever knew to ask for. They are beautiful, and I'm savoring each one and as we drive down the back road I say to myself "Are you really going to say this isn't how the story should go?"
The emptiness made the fullness that much better. I don't understand, but I have been given the promise that even this is not the end.
There is always more, and looking back on all of it He says "Do you see in all of it how I provided? How you lived off the mystery, the manna?"

That which tears open our souls, those holes that splatter our sight, may actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave

I am overwhelmed by His grace, sustained by His manna, savoring His sweetness. There is so much I don't yet understand. I am learning to live with an open hand, from a place of honest truth, and be grateful

All italics quotes from 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp