My Red Thread of Words

I am never more honest or real than when I am writing. Never more vulnerable or open about the questions and my seeming lack of answers. My ponderings toward praise; my wanderings toward doubt. These words pour across the pages of my journal, emptied out in drops and rivers. The skewed perspective that comes from this solitary view of mine as the writer.

This seemingly insignificant, yet significant, paradox of me.

And God.

And faith.

And not faith.

Sometimes I find myself dangling by a lone, red thread of words connecting what I feel in the moment to what I believe and hold as Truth eternal.

The joys that flit through my days, lighting up my sky like firefly glow twinkling through gathering dusk. The pain that tears through seasons of my soul, swirling angry winds at will, leaving me disoriented and shaken in the wake of so much hurt. The unknowns that rise to threaten this refuge of known and true, thundering their accusations against my firm, if teetering, foundation.

If God is _______ then_______?

The writer in me fills in the blanks with words best describing my wounded heart. From whispers of doubt to shouts of belief, I pen the faith that holds me steady through it all. Words that draw me toward truth even as lies circle their quarry, awaiting the moment I lower my guard. The lion prowls continually, seeking to devour, yet never quite being able to overcome the One who resides within.

The One who holds me steady as I grasp that lone red thread of words unraveling redemption’s story.

My story.

The writer pours line after line upon empty pages, letter after letter falling into place to frame the essence of me. Completing the puzzle with fragments and run-ons and choppy prose bearing my likeness. Scattered thoughts brought together with precise randomness framing this mixed-up, multimedia collaboration of me.

Releasing myself through words only to capture myself more completely, in both the questions and the answers I discover.

The writer journeys day by day.

Leading me toward myself.

And toward God.

And finds us both a little more along the way.

IMG_3906This post was written in conjunction with Five Minute Friday’s word prompt of “Writer.” You can join us here: http://www.lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday

 

Why Write?

I have a confession to make.

I am a logophile.

I simply LOVE words.

I love to study their origins, searching for hidden treasures tucked within the original translations. Scratching beneath the surface, looking for more. Squeezing life from letters as one might clench a lemon simply for the joy of making lemonade.

Words well-written draw me into their depths, inviting me to discover new things about myself and the world around me.

Stories flowed from pencil tip quite naturally when I was a young girl, and words still flow, albeit now they are more often written in ink or typed upon a keyboard pad. But instead of flowing naturally, they are sometimes yanked from the center of my heart, kicking and screaming in their efforts to remain hidden. To return to their confines. To avoid exposure.

Because sometimes words hurt.

Sometimes the truth hidden within scars the heart that holds it.

Sometimes it would be much easier to allow the pen of my soul to remain still.

Silent.

But that would be a dishonor to the Master Storyteller.

And so I write.

I write so I remember.



I write to build memorials of grace and truth that rise like monuments across the pages of my life.

I write to express gratitude to the One who makes all things new.

I write to encourage myself to walk freely in this precious gift of Life which I’ve been given.

And somewhere, in the midst of the raw and messy, I write in hopes that my words will provide an altar for others. A sanctuary of worship. A place of rest where it is safe to connect with another soul. With a Savior.

And so, I will continue to piece together the words within, threading them tenderly upon the tapestry of my life.

For myself.

For others.

For His glory.

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Today’s post on WRITE was prompted by Five Minute Friday. You can join us here: http://www.lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday. Be blessed!

Psithurism of the Holy

Whispers.

Prayers I’m praying,

Murmurs of my heart.

I see these soul words slow-dancing in the Spirit,

Twisting, turning, swaying, billowing.

Finding a home as they reach my heart and extend to His.

Sealed with a promise,

Kept for a purpose,

Whispering through my soul,

Taking my breath away

While filling me with new life.

Beckoning me to embrace every awe-filled moment.

Ever present,

Revealing His mercy,

Gracing my days with blessing.

Rustling light amidst the shadows,

Unveiling sweet discoveries

For finite eyes to capture.

Filling the empty places with His whispers,

Psithurism of the holy,

Shouting through my life.

IMG_3746Psithurism:  (n.) the sound of the wind through trees

When Words Are Few

For me, words — in whatever form — became my safety. ~ Elora Nicole

My breath caught in my throat as I commiserated with the author’s sentiments portrayed in this statement.

I, too, have an affinity for words. I LOVE them. I love to see words printed across the pages of books, handwritten in decades-old letters, scrawled on notes left by husband and children, or placed with purposefulness in word search puzzles begging me to make semblance from their seeming disorder. Most of all, I love to see the words flowing from my heart and pouring steadily across blank page, releasing the wonder and aches stored within.

Words speak to me… no pun intended.

I find great solace in knowing they can be pulled forth readily and penned on paper, even when my voice remains silent. So to go through a time where words seem scarce is terrifying to me… and perhaps the very reason God has placed me on a forced sabbatical from words this past month.

Much to my dismay, words have been slow in coming lately. And those few which have come, have been scattered like a pile of Scrabble letters spilled carelessly across the table of my heart. A jumbled mess daring me to assemble them into something of meaning and significance. Something valuable. Something solid in which I can place my security.

While I can be in a room filled with people and remain silent, I cannot bear the thought of staring at blank page and leaving it empty. To open a journal and have nothing to write means that a part of me is not engaged in life. Something has gone missing.

I feel disjointed. Disconnected from God. Vulnerable and lost in a world without words.

And yet, God still speaks to me when my heart and the pages before me are empty. He loves me even as He stills my hand from penning the words to remind me it is so.

He longs to be my safety when my thoughts are silenced, when the words begging for release are quenched by the flame of His Spirit telling me…

He is enough.

As I’m slowing allowed the privilege of writing once more, I do so hesitantly. Praying for the wisdom to keep my trust from turning to the written word instead of to the Living Word.

Taking courage, I haltingly entrust Father once more to pull something beautiful from what feels so barren. To take me beyond this awkward moment of starting anew and craft a work of wonder that only He can envision.

I place the pen of my life in His hands and allow Him the task of connecting the disjointed dots of this soul to define Himself more clearly in me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYu8ZyETnKo‎

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Sucking the Life out of Living

It was another morning on the beach. Another day of nearly 12 successive walks on the beach. Sand, shore, shells. Run, chase, walk, breathe. We stomped through shallow pools while the high tide pulled the ocean away from below our feet, and I considered every beautiful analogy the ocean offered.

Everything, great and small, points to Him, to beauty, to imagination. Stories are in every element of creation and nature, and if I’m tuning in, I feel like I see and hear them all.

And instead of feeling the usual overwhelming sense of gratitude toward the great analogy played out around us, I was irritated.

I was annoyed that the ocean was so big, and I was so small. I was annoyed that I looked at shells and saw my heart. I was angry that watching my daughter chase birds made me think more about a blog entry instead of her.

I am prone to always dig below the surface in my own life. Sometimes this is beauty. Sometimes it’s distraction. I admit, there are times I end up extracting another meaning out of a situation simply because I am unable, unwilling or too bored to experience what is actually happening.

I wonder how different my words and relationships would be if I stopped viewing all things through the spin of my wild mind.

On that beach, while my daughter chased birds, I told myself to forget about the extra meanings and possible metaphors. I actually shook my head and closed my eyes and told myself to listen, and breathe, and then watch and experience.

Extracting is good. Mining for the deep things is a hard and necessary work. Sometimes I need to look at the world around me and realize that God is still speaking through the work of His hands. I want to notice how interwoven and connected everything is.

And sometimes I want to just get dirty feet, feel the heat of the sun and notice how my daughter’s curls form perfectly on her shoulders on a humid April afternoon. I need days full of her crinkled nose and storytelling. I need to pay more attention to the words I say to her instead of the words I’m writing inside. It’s all happening so fast, I think. While I’m mentally adding and erasing metaphors, I’m accidentally erasing myself from my own story…
(excerpt from The Organic Bird the Blog)

Have you ever read something and felt as if you had taken a sucker punch to the gut? That’s similar to my stomach’s reaction after  reading the above wisdom from a fellow blogger. It was if she had seen into that part of me that I try to hide from others – the truth being that I do try to hide from others. My heartbeat melded with her words:
I admit, there are times I end up extracting another meaning out of a situation simply because I am unable, unwilling or too bored to experience what is actually happening.

I escape. I hide myself in words. If things are devastating, I’m attempting to take away a hidden meaning – my mind racing with metaphors to link the pain with purpose. If things are joyful, words are tumbling within me straining to be released in a blog to match the blessing. And sometimes I am simply bored – so my mind disconnects, fleeing into its own world of swirling similes and ponderous paradoxes, aching for pen and paper, instead of  being there. 

Wherever there may be.

I can get so caught up viewing things through my own wild mind, that I forget to live the moment.

With my penchant to scratch below the surface, I suck the life out of living. I silence the beauty that is unfolding, forgetting that it is doing so wholly for the sake of being beautiful, not for the benefit of my writing projects.

It shouldn’t be so much work to enjoy life. But it is.

Because I refuse to simply let life happen.

As wonderful as this propensity toward words can be, as enlightening and freeing as they can seem, there is always the threat of too much meaning. A distraction from living life as it comes.

So today I am seeking silence. Calming my tendency to manipulate the moments with my thoughts, curbing my bent toward many words.

Today I am asking God to fill me with His presence as I rest my mind.

Today I choose to grasp life.

One beautiful breath at a time.

And who knows, rather than accidentally erasing myself from my own story, perhaps I will purposefully live it instead.

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When Words Fail

today i cannot find them
they disappear before i catch them
escaping my thoughts
like puffs of dandelion dust
fleeing in the wind
scattered letters
overtaken
divided
loosened from their core and
tossed by tempests of
too
much
hurt

piles of letters upon letters
fragments eluding containment
refusing to come together
evading arrangement
defying any semblance of order
much like the thoughts of my heart
disjointed emotions
fleeting feelings
ceasing to make sense
refusing to
complete
the
whole

encouragement falls by the wayside
gasping for breath with each
crashing wave of grief
too many tears
that fill and weigh heavy
smothering
choking at hope
loosening light
exchanging joy for mourning
in this reversal of roles that
taunts
kingdom
living

i am undone
but not in awe
i am consumed
but not with the promise of abundant life
not lifted by the winds of praise
but overwhelmed by the aching of
bending to these breezes of brokenness
ceasing to live
i merely exist
struggling to be something more
than
simply
raw

What do you do when words fail?

Where do you turn when the only place you long for is a solitary place away from the demands of others? Away from the crushing weight of daily living that is filled with sorrow and emptiness? When no clear thoughts can be formed in your mind, let alone lived out in your days?

In short, what do you do in the face of so much hurt?

Try as I might, I can’t come up with that answer for you.

To fill your ears with incessant chatter seems pointless; indeed, it seems that it would only heap hurt upon hurt. Even to flood this page with Scripture verse after verse, though filled with the truth of God’s promises, may only cause you more frustration than hope.

So today, I will join you in this struggle for words, and I will remain silent. I will sit and listen and pray that my presence in your pain somehow brings a bit of comfort to you.

When words fail, love remains.

If nothing else, may you trust in that truth for your life today.

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CAUTION: WORDS – Please Use Wisely

When my son was small, his response to hurtful words showed the depth of his softness toward verbal attacks. One day his older brother spoke something that hurt his feelings, and when told (still in the midst of the confrontation),  “It’s not like I broke your arm,” his tearful response nearly broke my heart.

I wish you would have just broken my arm instead; that would have hurt less.

My young son understood the power of words. And in this scenario, he experienced the pain of their cutting power.

Sometimes words hurt. Even more than broken bones.

Because words have the power to break something much more fragile than bone and marrow. Words have the power to crush relationships. They have the strength to derail another’s purpose. They have the force to turn hearts toward self-loathing. They even have the power to destroy the most fearsome of warriors. Don’t believe me? I daresay the most dreaded words on the front lines of battle are not always the commanding officer’s issue to Advance as much as they are the dread of receiving letters from back home that begin with the words Dear John, …

I wish you would have just broken my arm instead; that would have hurt less.

Every human being needs to believe that he is valuable. Every wife longs to feel cherished by her husband. Every husband wants to be respected by his wife. Every child needs the assurance of a parent’s love. Every person desires to know that they matter. And when words are spoken that tell them otherwise, eventually they will come to believe it.

Eventually those hurtful words will transform hearts, and not for the better.

Because words are powerful like that.

Broken bones can be set in casts or fused in repair to become strong once more. Bones will mend. But hearts are much more fragile. More tender. More easily torn and less easily repaired.

So great is the influence of the spoken word.

The Bible reminds us of the  power words hold.

Words are powerful enough

… to speak the universe into existence.

… to forgive sins.

… to silence demons.

… to bring sight to blind eyes.

… to sway the hearts of men.

But words can also be spoken with evil intent.

Words can

… crush the spirit of men.

… lead us to believe lies.

… destroy relationships.

… disintegrate hope.

I wish you would have just broken my arm instead; that would have hurt less.

The next time we find ourselves tempted to speak words that would better be left unsaid, let’s turn to the WORD and apply His words of advice as we remember:

Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, so choose your words wisely.

May they be a source of healing and restoration for all who are within hearing.

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When the Story is Not Mine to Tell

In recent weeks, my journal has been filled with prayers and petitions on the behalf of others. Situations that are very real, circumstances that have broken hearts, trials that include threats as seen in the movies yet are happening in real life. Words that, if released before the present scenes were fully complete, could even endanger the lives of others. In short, I live among the words of a story that is not mine to tell. Those words affect me deeply, but I am only a supporting role, not the main character. My perspective is my own, just as surely as the story belongs to another.

While movies and plays make a great stage for narration, there are other places where journals of privacy are the only theaters where the drama should be played out. Because the telling is filled with real pain, real temptations, real sins, real struggles, real failures. And I do not own the rights that allow me to present the tale from my point of view. For I am not the director. I am only a bystander watching another’s life unfold – for better or for worse.

As much as I want to change the past scenes of the story, I am powerless to so do. Words already spoken cannot be taken back again. Acts already committed cannot be undone. Some scenes have firmly settled into the pages of history, as unsettling as that is for me to accept. Mistakes have been recorded in the hearts of others, forming scars that are too deep for my ministrations to touch.

So what am I to do? How can I overlap my own story into the story of another and change the scenes that are yet to be lived? How can I help turn the painful plots into chapters sprinkled with hope and peace? How can I shine in my role as supporting actress while a friend leads the way in an impromptu performance that is sometimes shocking with the depths of its hurts, the complexities of its challenges?

Only by pleading for the mercies that are new every morning and flinging my arms around a measure of grace that is available with every moment of living.

By gently leading another to the truth that I have already found and reminding them that this same truth is meant to be found by them, too.

By showing them that their life is part of a much greater Story.

By pointing them to the One who fulfills the Lead Role with character – a character that is wholly trustworthy and always honorable as He seeks the welfare of everyone involved in this story.

By encouraging them to build a relationship with the One whose hands stretch out to grip them tightly throughout every part of this performance of life.

Some stories may not be mine to tell, but they are always God’s to lead. And they are all opportunities for me to shine His light brightly and extend love into the dark recesses of every scene, even if it is as simple as providing a short respite of comic relief.

Take heart, dear friends. Your story is far from over, and this present scene that seems such a struggle to conquer is merely moving us toward an ending that is promised to be glorious. But don’t just take my word for it…

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Lord of My Tiredness

Do not think that love, in order to be genuine, has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. –Mother Teresa

Along similar lines, my husband has been known to say, “You know Jesus is really Lord when He is Lord of your tiredness.”

I don’t know about you, but it’s hard for me to respond with love when I am tired. Tiredness causes my defenses to quickly fade into the background and makes way for center stage to be overrun with any manner of offensive behaviors. Slight infractions (ie. muddy boots tracking across kitchen floors, volumes turned too loudly on the computer, a dirty dish placed on the counter as soon as I let the dishwater out…) are suddenly viewed as felonies deliberately set against me. Seriously, it seems that when I am approaching the point of exhaustion, that’s when EVERYONE turns on me – interrupting, hindering, agitating, and otherwise depriving me of the peace and quiet to which I am entitled. I am entitled to peace and quiet, aren’t I?

And perhaps right there is where I first start to slip in loving. When I feel entitled to peace and quiet. When I feel I deserve the rest after I’ve served others for so long. When I think I am the one who needs a break. And in my tiredness, instead of loving, I snap.

Any pretense toward godliness is suddenly stripped away, replaced with a caustic attitude that bubbles toward the surface of my psyche faster than lava overflows from a volcano. Instead of pouring forth loving scriptures with which I have so recently filled my mind – as in, five minutes removed from my devotional time with Jesus – I spew out angry words of frustration. Words that are meant to strike back at the one responsible for my irritation. Except, the one truly responsible is not the one receiving my vented emotions. The one responsible is the face staring back at me when I glance in the mirror. For the truth of the matter is, no one can “make me mad,” unless I allow them that privilege.

God has given me a power to overcome my bent toward blowing it. It is the Holy Spirit living within me who has the strength to breathe out self-control when I’m tempted to exhale nastiness. But I have to make a deliberate choice to give Him the freedom to not only move in me, but to move me toward a godly reaction. To my dismay, I frequently lean toward the immaturity of disregarding His prodding. Ignoring His gentle nudging in my spirit, I defiantly turn my back and choose my own way. And subsequently, fail in loving. I fail in being genuine in my faith. I fail in allowing Christ to truly be Lord of this moment. Of this life.

Submerged in selfishness instead of selflessness, I fail to reveal the truth that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world,” as I release the reins of my tongue. And I am appalled, at times, by what comes forth. By the cruel words that have found their way not only to the surface, but all the way into the heart of one I love. After the fact, I am crushed by the crushing blows I have dealt another.

While regret is present and apologies are extended and forgiveness is given, I cannot take back the words that were spoken. I cannot undo the hurt that was inflicted. I can only ask God to bring healing. I can only trust His touch to make all things new. I can only yield to His love to be lived through me… the next time. Because I sure didn’t give sway to Him this time.

In the midst of this messiness of my soul, I find myself thanking God for His genuine love. A love that tirelessly extends grace to this daughter found grasping for it time and again. A love that is always extraordinary – no matter how small or large it may appear.

It’s true, you know, it is hard to respond with love when we’re tired. Hard… yet not impossible. But it will require something of us. It takes a yielding heart filled with genuine love. A love that gives God what He is entitled to and seeks no place of its own… even in tiredness.

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When God Seems Silent

I love words.

I like to read words – particularly those that are eloquently written with a twist of paradox that leave me mulling over them for days.

I like to hear words – especially when they are spoken with an Australian accent. (Seriously, who can resist that Down Under inflection? Sigh.)

I like to write words – and prefer penning my thoughts versus simply speaking them, mostly because there is that wonderful invention known as the “delete” button. (I’m convinced that particular key was created for people like me. It’s so much easier to press a button than extract a foot from my mouth.)

Perhaps it is this love for words that makes me so – dare I say, irritated – when I perceive that God is refusing to speak. After all, He is the One who created me with this propensity toward words, and then when I so want Him to speak to me, He manifests His rights to remain silent.

Or does He?

Recently, I’ve been reminded of the fact that it is not so much that God is silent as it is that my ears are deafened. I mean, seriously, if I was in tune with all that is happening in the spiritual realm, my senses would be blown away. Can you imagine the roar of angels wings whisking by or the clang of heavenly swords clashing in battle above your head? How on earth can we expect these finite bodies to do anything but disintegrate if we would hear the Voice that thunders in such a way that entire universes are brought into existence with a word? How can we bear the conversation of a God whose mere breath births life into the deadness of soil and raises it into the scope of humankind? Maybe it’s best that we hear just the whispers of His movements.

Because that alone is enough to undo me.

And yet, I still long to be reminded of His presence. To know that I am not alone. That He is real. That He is near. That He has not abandoned me or my loved ones to these pressing trials that are threatening to consume us. “Speak, Lord!” my heart cries. And then I strain my ears to hear… while covering them at the same time.

What will I do if His answer is not the one I want to hear?
What if His path of deliverance walks me directly into the path of the storm I prefer to avoid?
Will I still trust Him when His way leads through the whirlwind?
When suffering is a companion on the journey?
When grief becomes an unwelcome bedfellow?

Will I trust God when He appears to be silent, even when in my heart of hearts I believe that He is not?

Because the truth of the matter is: Contrary to all appearances, God is not silent. Despite our misconceptions that God is inactive, He is moving. Forming strategies to align in perfect precision with His divine providence. Moving piece after piece into play in order to declare the ultimate “checkmate” on the enemy of our souls. Sometimes this means allowing Satan to buffet His Beloved for a season, but never to the point of extinction. Never to a place where death is beyond His power to raise again to eternal life.

If you find yourself in company with me today in the place of small faith, let me remind you there is nothing that can rip a hole in the fabric of God’s protective covering of love.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. (II Timothy 2:13)

God will never surrender Himself to be anything other than Who He is. He is loving. He is faithful. He is here. May we surrender our hearts to His keeping, and our loved ones to His care… even when He seems silent.

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